Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chewy Vegan Granola Bars

This recipe is amazing! Everything thing I could ask for in a granola bar. I wanted something that was chewy and hearty and I sure found it.  I used a vegan oatmeal cookie recipe and a vegan granola bar recipe as my guide.  I took away, added and changed some ingredients until I made something of my own. These are so good with coffee or tea in the morning or as a healthy in between meal snack.  My daughter loves them.

Chewy Vegan Granola Bar (Gluten Free too!)

1 cup walnuts  
1/2 cup sunflower seeds 
1 cup GF flour or flour of your choice
1 cup ground GF rolled oats
1 cup whole GF rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/2 tsp baking soda
3.5 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 Flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons water)
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons almond milk
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 chopped dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350.

Toast walnuts and sunflower seeds in a 350 oven for 10 minutes.  Watch so they don't burn. Grind toasted walnuts and sunflower seeds in a food processor until it resembles cornmeal.  Don't make nut butter!

Mix together walnut and sunflower seed meal, GF flour, ground oats, whole oats, coconut, and baking soda.
In a stand mixer beat together brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, flax egg, vanilla and almond milk. Slowly added in dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir in raisins and dried cherries.

Pour mixture into an oiled and lined 9in x 9in pan. This size pan makes nice thick bars so if you want thinner bars then choose one slightly bigger. Lining with parchment paper is very helpful with removing the Granola bar whole so that it can be cut into smaller squares on a cutting board.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or till the top starts to golden a bit.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Vegan Black Bean Veggie Patty

Vegan Week went great.  Wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  My husband even commented on how he never felt deprived. I did experience some changes in my GI tract.  The extra whole grains, beans and vegetables made me, um, er, crampy, gassy and uncomfortable for the first 3 days of Vegan Week.  Once the 3rd Day came to a close my tummy felt better and I went from going every other day to TWICE a day! Can you imagine how shocking it is to realize that going every other day means there is OLD rancid food just hanging out in your intestines. EWWW.  I believe the extra movement was because of two reasons. 1) Extra fiber from whole grains, beans and vegetables. Duh! and 2) NO meat to slow my digestion down. 

I want to continue looking up vegan recipes to add to my regular recipe box. They are very creative and encourage all the extra fiber that is so important for colon health, lower cholesterol, etc.
I searched different vegan recipe apps and websites for inspiration. The dish that showed up often was black bean burgers/patties. I decided to add some vegetables to mine. I was very pleased with the way it turned out. Moist and full of flavor.

Vegan Black Bean Veggie Patty (gluten free and soy free as well)

1 onion finely chopped
1 cup shredded carrot
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
3 cups black beans, half smashed.
1 cup cooked short grain brown rice
1/2 cup water
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax seed and 3 tablespoons water)
1/2 to 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute onions and carrots until tender. Add garlic, cook for a minute. In a large bowl mix together whole and smashed black beans, brown rice, 1/2 cup water, flax egg, xanthan gum, parsley, sauteed vegetables, salt and pepper. Add Gluten-Free flour until mixture is mold-able yet still moist. Kinda like drop cookie dough.

I used an ice cream scoop to measure out my vegan patties.  I made them on the small side but they can be made bigger for use with burger buns. Yum. 

I molded each scoop into a patty shape and coated them in a little Gluten-Free flour. Place a few in a frying pan on medium heat with a few tablespoons of Safflower oil or oil of your choice. Brown on both sides and then place on a pan in a 200' oven while you finish the rest.  This recipe makes a lot of small patties but they are great for freezing and heating up later.

I like them plain but they would be good with a marinara sauce or classic ketchup. I bet making a vegetable broth gravy would be yummy too.  Like vegan burger steak and gravy. Mmmm.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Vintage Scarves

I found these colorful scarves at a thrift store while in Va during Christmas.  A few dollars a piece and in great condition. I have a few that belonged to my Nana and I love to wear them so I thought I would start collecting a few here and there. I need to find a better way to store them.

{From Vintage Postcard Gallery}
This little girl looks adorable with a scarf on her head!

{Factory workers warping their hair up with simple scarves. From Michal Hadassah Flikr}

I think one of the reasons I, as well as many others associate headscarves with the 1940's is because of it's use during the war efforts.  Women went to work at the factories and fields when their husbands, brothers and fathers went off to war. In order to keep their hair safely out of the way while working on machinery they would wrap their hair up in scarves or turbans. Women also wore headscarves while cooking, cleaning, swimming, gardening, putting on make up, riding a bike, setting pin curls, etc. Practical yet feminine.

I LOVE this WWII advertisement. The many hats of women during the war.

{From zombielace}
{From vintagelabels}

A side note. Have you noticed that most of the scarves in the pictures are red and white polka dot?! I did not plan that! lol

Super Kawaii Mama has a video on how to wear a headscarf.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Vegan Week Starts Monday

Vegan Week!

Thanks to Oprah and Freckle Wonder, we have decided to go vegan for a week starting on Monday.  That means NO dairy, meat, poultry, eggs, etc.  No animal products at all. Our decisions is mostly health related although we are big promoters of humane organic farming.  It makes me sick to see how animals are being treated in slaughter houses. As I mentioned in my Meatless Monday intro post, we have cut out a lot of meat from our diet already so this next step won't be too bad. At least I hope not.
Freckle Wonder has already lost 7lbs and her Vegan week isn't even over yet! You go girl! I want some of that.  I have gotten a little pudgy since I weaned Amelia.  Man did breastfeeding work for me! Besides the perks of weight loss on a vegan diet I am sincerely interested in the health benefits.  I want to detox and clean my pipes out if you will.  Red Meat takes longer to digest so it sits in the intestines for a long time. Higher consumption of red meat has been linked to colon cancer. I found out in the beginning of last year that I do not digest read meat very well.  Not good. I have to limit my red meat intake or my stomach will ache.

Heart disease, as well as cancer, runs in my family and this is a big factor in me wanting to at least become more vegan-ish in the long run as Oprah called it.  A good balance.  Unfortunately most Americans do not have a balance when it comes to meat consumption especially red meat. I know way too many people who rarely put a green vegetable on the dinner table. I feel wrong when there is not a green vegetable on my table. I am blessed that our daughter eats pretty much anything! She loves salads and vegetables of all kinds.

"ScienceDaily (July 3, 2009) — The American Dietetic Association has released an updated position paper on vegetarian diets that concludes such diets, if well-planned, are healthful and nutritious for adults, infants, children and adolescents and can help prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes."It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.Vegetarian diets are often associated with health advantages including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, according to ADA's position. "Vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and have higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals. These nutritional differences may explain some of the health advantages of those following a varied, balanced vegetarian diet."

It can be a little tricky for my family to enjoy a lot of the vegan treats they have in the stores these days because we are a gluten and soy free household. Many of the vegan snacks, meat and cheese substitutes are soy and/or wheat based. Luckily we don't buy junk food and we rarely buy processed foods so it won't be that big of a deal.  We already avoid dairy milk but we do enjoy cheese and yogurt from time to time.  We love SO Delicious coconut milk creamer and kefir.  I want to pick up some tapioca and rice cheese since my daughter loves cheese. We will stick with legumes, hemp, nuts and quinoa as our source of protein and add lots of fun vegetable dishes like quinoa confetti salad. 

When it's all said and done I'm not sure that I would become 100% vegan but most definitely vegan-ish or vegetarian. Who knows?  After one week I may feel so good that I will stick with it longer. We will see.
Vegan Recipe Sites

Thursday, February 10, 2011

French Twist

If you can't tell it was quite sunny last Sunday.  I asked my husband to take a quick photo of my hair since I was so proud of it.  I couldn't believe that I was able to put my long hair up in a French Twist.  I added a satin bow to dress it up a bit. I received so many compliments.  From friends and strangers.  So flattering.

Amelia's Easter Dress

I found this adorable pattern from StillSewStylish on Etsy. She has tons of vintage patterns including a nice collection of children's patterns. I feel like it's harder to find children's vintage sewing patterns than adults. I think I will use style B for Amelia's Easter Dress.
{Mine and Amelia's dresses will be made out of this Springy fabric by Heather Bailey}

I'm way behind on Casey's Sew Along but hope to start soon. I wish I had an adjustable dress form. It would make life so much easier.  Speaking of making life easier! I finally figured out what was wrong with my serger. I was missing a step!  The directions were confusing and the thread hole was in a hidden place. Sergers are amazing!!! I received mine for mother's day two years ago.  It probably sat collecting dust for 1 year when I thought it was broken. Last night I hemmed some pants for my husband and the finished product looked so professional and clean.

{I have this basic Janome Serger}

Monday, February 7, 2011

Meatless Monday - Green Dal

Green Dal

1 bag dried split peas (16oz) Sort and clean.
1 cup onion
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
3-4 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups liquid (I used 4 cups gluten free vegetable broth and 2 cups water)

Saute onions and garlic with a little olive oil in a pot until tender. Add split peas, spices, salt and liquid.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes or till peas are tender. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with your bread of choice. I cooked my Green Dal in a crock-pot so I just threw all the ingredients in at once.
This Indian dish was so flavorful! I will definitely make this a regular.  I served it will our favorite Pamela's gluten-free bread.
(by phamfatale)  

Garam Masala smells kinda like Christmas to me. It's strong but not hot.  The mixture varies by region but it generally contains; peppercorns, cloves, malabar leaves, long pepper (pippali), black cumin, cumin seeds, cinnamon, black, brown and green cardamon, nutmeg, star anise, and coriander seeds. Some contain mustard seeds, turmeric and fennel.  My blend only had cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and cardamon.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Green Smoothies

We love green smoothies in our home. It's a great way to sneak in leafy green vegetables. You can't taste it I promise! We have used kale and spinach and both are chocked full of vitamins and minerals. Our society really lacks in the consumption of leafy green vegetables. It's not just the children who push their greens to the side of the plate. You know who you are. So if your child, or you, needs more whole foods in their diet then try this yummy treat.

My daughter hogs the green smoothie every time.

Green Smoothie

8- 10oz Coconut kefir {almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, or kefir}
1/2 frozen banana
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup spinach or kale {about a handful}
3-4 tablespoons vanilla hemp protein powder {or a protein powder of your choice}
2 teaspoons maca powder {optional}
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds {optional}

Blend till smooth.  The smoothie will be on the purple side and not green because of the blueberries. (Most blenders will blend the spinach smooth.)


Kale- Very high in antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium.  

Spinach- Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source of vitamin A (and especially high in lutein), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Recently, opioid peptides called rubiscolins have also been found in spinach.

Kefir- A cultured, enzyme-rich food with friendly micro-organisms that helps balance your good bacteria. More nutritious and therapeutic than yogurt, it has complete protein, essential minerals, and valuable B vitamins. Great for those who have been on antibiotics. 

Hemp Protein Powder- Easy to digest vegetarian protein source. Contains large amounts of zinc, iron, and magnesium. Hemp's fiber is 90% insoluble and 10% soluable.

Maca Powder- Supports the immune system and adrenal function. Reduces chronic fatigue, regulates and supports the endocrine system. Rich in proteins, starches, and important minerals, like iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous. It contains trace minerals (including iodine), B vitamins, linoleic and oleic oils (essential fatty acids), and 18 amino acids, including 7 of the 9 essential amino acids.

Flax Seeds- anti-inflammatory, helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. High is fiber and contains omega-3.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Meatless Mondays and Crock Pots!!

{by ecoki}

I always knew that organic, grassfed and free range were the way to go for healthy meat.  Reading various articles from and as well as watching documentaries like Food Matters and Food Inc have made our household strict about what meats we buy.  It's true, organic, grassfed and free range meats can be pricey.  For that reason we had to reestablish how much meat was necessary for each meal. Learning that it was healthier to consume less meat helped us spread out the meat we bought for each week as well as add in beans, and free range organic egg dishes.

I discovered that if I butterfly and pound out a chicken breast thin then it will feed our family of three at one meal.  This simple process makes the one chicken breast look much larger. My husband finds that he is satisfied with part of the chicken breast when I prepare it this way.  Plus it cooks evenly and quickly.

{I LOVE this crock pot! After the dish is finished cooking it turns to the warmer setting so it stays warm until you are ready to eat!}

A slow cooker/crock pot is another simple way to afford organic meat.  A slow cooker has an amazing way of making inexpensive cuts of meat tender and flavorful. The tough fibers of a flank steak will cook down into a tender piece of meat when placed in a slow cooker in the morning.  It will be ready for dinner when you get home.  Newer slow cookers are also energy efficient.

Inexpensive Cuts of Meats

Chuck steaks
Flank steak
Stew meat
She must be thinking about her "Meatless Monday" menu. lol
"Meatless Mondays" are pretty well know but sadly I never thought to incorporate them.  I know, what is wrong with me?!?!  One of my Twitter friends, @Midnight_Maniac {Midnight Maniac Blog} reintroduced me to "Meatless Mondays" and I am forever grateful! I am so happy my husband is so open to improving our health and will have more meatless meals than just on Mondays.  "Meatless Mondays" began during WWI to aid in the war efforts.  It was also brought back during WWII as well. Unlike during both World Wars, today "Meatless Mondays" are all about preventing diseases and saving the environment. explains a lot about the importance of eating more vegetarian meals. Making vegetarian meals will encourage you to eat more whole grains and vegetables. Like Oprah mentioned on her Vegan show this week, you will become more regular if you know what I mean.  Regularity is very good for your colon health and for detoxing your body. 

{For my first "Meatless Monday" I made this robust and creamy dish from Everyday Food. I will make this often! I did not add almonds though.}
Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

Serves 4
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 12 ounces rigatoni, penne, or other short tubular pasta {I used gluten free rice pasta}
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), thinly sliced {I only had oil packed and it worked fine}
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 5 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled, plus more for topping (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes less than package instructions. Add sun-dried tomatoes, and cook 3 minutes. Remove 2 cups pasta water; reserve. Drain and return pasta mixture to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; reserve. Return skillet to medium heat; add oil, garlic, and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 20 to 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
  3. To pasta mixture in pot, add garlic mixture, reserved pasta water, cheese, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Let stand until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Divide pasta among four shallow dishes; sprinkle with almonds and, if desired, additional cheese.
I hope this encourages you to think about the meats you buy and to eat more vegetarian meals!