Monthly Archives: November 2009

BAM.

Baked sweet potato + a mother load of coconut butter + cinnamon + sea salt =
Why, yes please.

I have recently discovered coconut butter, which, as you can see, is NOT just solidified coconut oil. Oh, no. Coconut butter is what you get when you blend coconut oil and flesh together. And let me just tell you, it’s absolutely dreamy–smooth, rich, and naturally sweet, it is definitely second only to peanut butter in the nut/seed butter family. Plus, I feel like coconut butter and sweet potatoes were created only to be eaten with one another.

The brand I bought is Artisana, and it’s raw, organic, 100% coconut! Yes, it’s a little expensive, but I never have any qualms about shelling out money for high-quality, delicious foods that fuel my body! Plus, the great thing about coconut butter is that you get all the health benefits of coconut oil, plus fiber (5 g/serving!) and essential amino acids. If you haven’t tried coconut butter, please don’t wait any longer. Artisana also makes a slightly sweetened chocolate coconut butter, Cacao Bliss, which I love, but I think the unadulterated one might be my favorite.

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Ruper De Duper!

So, I know I’ve mentioned my dog Rupert before, and his handsome countenance has already graced my blog a few times, but I want to dedicate a post solely to introduce him to you all, because he is my little gentleman, my Rupabaga, and maybe the only thing I’m more excited about coming home to next week than the Thanksgiving feast itself! (Oh, and my family, I guess…) Oh, and tomorrow is his birthday! Happy birthday, boy! Another year seven years older!

And how fitting that, minutes after finishing this post, I received an email from Molly at It’s a Vegan Dog’s Life notifying me that I’ve won a shiny, new blue collar for–guess who?!
Rupert’s an English Bull Terrier, like the Target dog, or Spuds MacKenzie.

He has a lot of very unique physical qualities, like his bumpy underlip and his perfect spot.

Of course all bull terriers are kind of funny looking given their egg-shaped heads, giant bat ears, and muscly build (we always say Rupert is like a giant sausage), so Rupert’s no exception. Though he may be cuter than every other bull terrier in the world. Just throwing that out there.

Like everyone else in our family, Rupert has an obsessive personality. First of all, we’re all obsessed with Rupert himself. Then my mom’s obsessed with politics and the Red Sox, my dad’s obsessed with the Eagles, Phillies, and fantasy football, my sister’s obsessed with the Phoenix Suns and Harry Potter, I’m obsessed with veganism, cooking, and peanut butter, and Rupert’s obsessed with his black Kong toy.

He used to have a blue one, infamously known in our house as “the blue wheel,” but after two years, Rupert finally killed it. But these are seriously the only dog toys Rup won’t destroy in under 15 minutes.

Rupert is the most annoying dog ever. As a daily ritual, he drops his black Kong into the pool, and barks at it in a piercingly high pitch that belies his manly frame until you fish it out for him. Once it has been fished out, he then proceeds to drop it in the pool again. Ad infinitum.

Another special bond I have with Rupert is our love of peanut butter, and the fact that our family members often put it on both of our noses to keep us busy and quiet (okay, maybe not so much the second part, but I have been known to find peanut butter in weird places on my face…).

If Rupert’s been a good boy, I’ll fix him up a special peanut butter-carob panini. Dog’s LOVE carob, dontcha know. It almost tastes like the forbidden chocolate.

Anddd, he usually expresses his appreciation by looking like this when he eats it:

Don’t let all their shenanigans fool you–Ruperts get tired too!

Sometimes he picks odd napping places though…

He enjoys long walks on the beach, or, if he has to settle, just through the neighborhood.

But since we live in AZ, he overheats pretty easily. We usually need to cool off afterward with some ice cold water. He looks like Shamu!

He can go commando for short walks, but when he goes on real hikes, he has to wear THE BOOTIES.

Rupert, despite your ridiculous behavioral problems, earsplitting yelp, and alpha dog complex, you are loved. :)

Round Orange Things

This post is kind of pathetic, but I haven’t been eating anything particularly interesting lately, and I figured something is better than nothing.

We’ve had a sugar pumpkin sitting in our suite’s hallway for a month, but instead of tossing it, I decided to try my hand at making my own pumpkin purée. So, I stuck that baby straight in the oven–no oil, no pan, I literally just put it, whole, onto the oven rack–and after an hour or so, I sliced it open (SO much easier than trying to cut it beforehand), scooped out the seeds and stringies, and puréed the flesh in my Magic Bullet. It was definitely lighter colored than canned pumpkin, and somewhat starchier, but otherwise pretty similar. Obviously, it would make better pie, so don’t be lazy for the big day next week: make your own pumpkin!

I also roasted the seeds. Just of spritz of canola oil, and some cinnamon and sea salt.

I had two remaining brown rice cakes, so for a random breakfast, I slathered on some pumpkin (with cinnamon and nutmeg added), sprinkled with seeds, and called it a morning.

I forgot to mention that, a few weeks ago, I won Lindsay’s hummus giveaway at Cooking for a Vegan Lover. She sent me a jar of Wild Garden Black Olive hummus, and two single serving squeezepacks: Traditional and Sun-Dried Tomato.

I think the black olive was my favorite (so good thing I had a full jar!), but they are all quite good. Impressive nutrition stats too! I think 2 Tbs of the black olive was only 35 calories, and most hummus is about 60. Also, these guys had nice, short ingredient lists: mostly just chickpeas, tahini, water, olive oil, and sea salt, plus whatever flavor. That’s always a big plus for me because even brands like Trader Joe’s hummus often have a decent amount of additives. Plus, it’s cool that they’re shelf-stable, like cartons of soy or almond milk, so you can always have them handy!

For a snack today, I just spread the sun-dried tomato one on some Nairns Oatcakes. Simple yet delicious.

I love these oatcakes though! They’re just wholegrain oats, palm fruit oil, sea salt, and baking soda (or, because they’re from the UK, I should say, sodium bicarbonate!) They’re produced in Edinburgh, and even though I may not have loved every minute of my study abroad experience there, I’ll always have a soft spot for British health foods, like oatcakes and flapjacks. :)

Package Swap

I was lucky enough not only to get in on a vegan care package swap this year, but to be paired up with the orchestrator herself, the wonderful Lindsay from Cooking for a Vegan Lover!

For a look at the package I sent Lindsay, click here!
Here’s what I received:

I know, I know, Lindsay’s awesome! In the back we have some Road’s End Organics Golden Gravy Mix–I can already see a nice dorm room dinner with that in my near future–and (also organic!) Pacific Natural Foods Simply Tea in Green Tea Tangerine flavor!

Lindsay’s from Vermont, so she also sent me some VT specialties:

Liz Lovely Gluten-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies (Did you know Liz Lovely was Vermont-based?), and of course, real Vermont Pure Maple Syrup from Kingdom Mountain family farm!

The package also included a mother load of PranaBars, which I’ve never had before, but am really excited about because the flavors are so exotic and healthy! These superfood bars are all organic, gluten-free, vegan, and mostly raw.

Yeha, that’s apricot pumpkin. Can you believe it? There’s also coconut acaí, pear ginseng, cashew almond, apricot goji, and apple pie. These will be perfect pre-run snacks when, come winter break, I start training for the January half marathon I’m doing!

The package also included two packs of Heart Thrive bars, cranberry and chocolate, which I’ve seen before, but never tried (and isn’t that the point of these exchanges? to try things that you might not normally buy because they’re a luxury or you don’t know what they’re like?). I really, really like that they’re heart-shaped. I think eating them will be that much more fun.

Also, as you can see, Trader Joe’s Instant Vanilla Pudding! I’ve seen it in stores, but never realized it was vegan–all you have to do is add non-dairy milk instead of cow’s milk. Sweet. :)

The remainder of the package was lots of fun little trinkets, like milled flaxseed, green tea mints, gummy bears, a JamFrakas bar, and hot sauce.

Thanks so much, Lindsay. This was a great first swap experience, and I’ll definitely be doing more in the future because I had so much fun. Opening the package was like vegan Christmas.

Also–ugh–this is one of those posts where almost every single paragraph ends with an extra word that wouldn’t fit on the line above it. I could try to fix it, but it’s kind of funny. I’m sure all bloggers get annoyed about little things like that, so I’ll leave it as a tribute!

Finally, Maggie at My Breakfast Blog tagged me for “Truth Week,” so here’s my little piece of kind of embarrassing truth: Sometimes when I’m snacking on a jar of peanut butter straight with a spoon (not a plain jar, but fancy, semi-expensive ones like PB & Co. flavors), I’ll make myself put it in the freezer to make sure I save it for more exciting uses than eating it plain, like oatmeal, baking, and fun sandwiches. I’m all for eating PB plain–God knows I do it enough–but when you pay so much for nice nut butters that aren’t always easy to find in the first place, it can kind of suck to go through it so quickly. It’s sad that I have to freeze it, but I just love PB that much. Truth!

Edited to add: HAHA, even my note about my paragraphs ended up with an extra word on another line! FML. I bet it will happen to this one too.

Oldie, But Goodie

Okay, so I know every vegan worth his or her coarse sea salt has made banana bread–and probably even this very recipe for banana bread–countless times, but the Vcon Lower-Fat Banana Bread just doesn’t get old!

I’ve made this bread more times than I’ve been asked where I get my protein from. ;)
In fact, given that I bake this bread (along with some other goodies) weekly for the Motley Coffeehouse here at the Claremont Colleges, I don’t even need to look at the recipe anymore! Plus, if I did mess up–which, um, would never happen–the recipe’s so forgiving, it wouldn’t matter.

This loaf was made, as I always do, with whole wheat pastry flour, half a package of chocolate chips (TJ’s brand, baby!), and, the one new thing I tried, banana slices on top! I just sliced half a banana really thin, laid them on top, and slightly pressed them down into the batter. It made a really cool pattern when the bread rose around them too, as you can see in the first photo!

I know this is kind of nerdy, but I love that this bread slices so beautifully. It also helps that I use more bananas than called for (I do 3 large or 4 small instead of 2 large or 3 small), so there’s no crumbly dryness to deal with, and that I let it set overnight before cutting into it. Still, lovely.


Roasted Acorn Squash (+ Seeds!)

I picked up an acorn squash at Trader Joe’s a few days ago for $0.99! Sure, it wasn’t organic (so I didn’t eat the peel), but still! Under a dollar for a pound or two of sweet, decadent bliss? I’ll take it.

I just cut it in half, scooped out the guts and seeds, sliced it into crescents, then very liberally drizzled it with extra-virgin coconut oil. A few big pinches of sea salt, some black pepper, and crushed rosemary sealed the deal and into the 400 F oven it went for 40 minutes or so! I’ll tell ya, coconut oil might be even better than olive oil for roasting squash or sweet potatoes…

Is there any pleasure in life greater than slightly charred on the outside, creamy on the inside roasted orange/yellow-fleshed veggies? Maybe roasted orange/yellow-fleshed veggies spread with peanut butter, but that’s all I can think of.

Waste not, want not! Roasted squash seeds!

Spritzed with canola oil and sprinkled with sea salt, cinnamon, cumin, and mesquite powder. Toasted 20 minutes or so at 350 F.

And thennnnn, I had way too much fun:

Don’t judge me?

More Daiya

Sorry to be repetitive, but my food life hasn’t been very diverse lately. But hell, screw diversity if my life can just become one big Daiya fest.

Italian Daiya quesadilla. Or maybe I should call it tortilla panini because this meal wasn’t Mexican-inspired at all… ;)

Spinach, tomatoes, red onions, spices (rosemary, thyme, oregano, and garlic powder), and of course, Italian Daiya! Not quite as good as the cheddar/black bean one from a few days, ago, but still. Also, as my Daiya supply dwindles, I’ve made my way through most of my Food for Life gluten-free tortillas, and I have to say that their texture is really weird. They start out kind of hard and shiny (I miss soft, doughy, floury tortillas!), but after you microwave them, they literally turn to rock. I like crispy quesadillas, but these don’t get crispy in a good, grill-y kind of way; they get crispy in the stale, overcooked sense. Not super flavorful either. But hey–you could fill a (non-leather) boot with Daiya and I’d probably eat it.

And, a “cheese” quesadilla, straight up. Junior high after school snack style. Using both Cheddar and Italian Daiya is the way to go!

(You can see that I kinda overcookednuked the cheese on the edge–it got a bit tough. Oh well. Look at the middle!)

And, I’ll finish with two pieces of news, both of which the majority of you won’t care about. :)

One, I finished the rough draft of the introduction of my thesis (on veganism) and it’s 26.5 pages long. This is only one of four chapters, which presents a problem as 70ish is the goal, and not 100. But I’m proud of myself for getting something done anyways. Ignore the fact that it took me two months to write it, and that the entire rough draft is due in one month. I said IGNORE it.

Two, back to Daiya! My favorite restaurant–Green–in Tempe is now serving Daiya. I had it straight from the @daiyacheese Twitter feed! I thought I couldn’t love Green anymore than I already did, but I stand corrected. I think I know the first place I’m headed come Thanksgiving break…