I woke up this morning to a dead titmouse (that’s a type of bird by the way, not a mouse covered in breasts). The guilty person i.e. a certain 20 toed furred beast with sand for brains and a propensity for killing birds, was nowhere to be found. I put my robe on and scooped up the poor, soft winged soul and walked into the woods to lay him to rest in a more appropriate place than my blue carpet. Back in the kitchen I spotted her, perched like a sphinx, her tail slithering languidly across the floor, her expression the embodiment of satisfaction. I had a profound desire to pour a cup of cold water over her head while ranting about what a murderous, hideous creature she was, but how could I? She was just following her instinct, and presenting me with the prize to show her love. The trouble is, she shows me that “love” on an almost daily basis. Sure, I could leave her inside and bang my head against a wall amidst the continuous chorus of deprived cat sounds i.e. door scratching, mewing, and the occasional guttural outburst along the lines of a heavy rock plunking into water. This I fear, however, would only bring out mania of a different kind i.e. I’ll dress the cat up in a bird costume and shut her in a room with her brother Frodo. So instead, I let the cat outside, raided the empty fridge and decided that I wanted something other than coconut yogurt or wilted collard greens for breakfast.
Solution? Lemon poppyseed muffins! These moist, crumbly morsels of lemony goodness will make you spontaneously sprout wings so you can fly to the mother of the fallen titmouse and apologize in person. Yes, they’re that good. I used a mixture of brown rice and coconut flours to lighten up the flavor of the sprouted wheat, but you could probably make these gluten free by subbing the wheat flour for more coconut and brown rice flour, just make sure to up the liquid amount because coconut flour absorbs liquid like a sponge!
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
1 cup sprouted whole wheat flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup coconut sugar or date sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 + cup unsweetened soymilk, or preferred nut milk
1/2 cup melted refined coconut oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
Zest from 1/2 of a lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375. In separate mixing bowls, add dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Mix together, then pour the wet into the dry and stir until just mixed, adding a little extra soymilk if the mixture seems to dry (you want it to be loose enough so that it doesn’t stick to a spoon). Grease a muffin tin with oil or soy butter, and fill each well about 3/4 with batter. Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and around the edges of the muffins. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then pop out of tin and serve hot with soy butter! Makes 12 muffins, or enough to feed a small herd of titmouse mourning unicorns.
Ah, spring. The time of year when the earth thaws, becomes a mud-luscious wonderland, and bursts with an infinitely varied and beautiful bounty of flowers and food. Oh, yeah…and I have to shave my legs again. Shaving is an odd sort of thing to do. I’ve spent hours debating with fellow earthlings the absurdities of razoring off thousands of little hairs every day for the sake of being feminine or accepted or female or whatever. Newsflash to the male population: women have hair…LIKE ALL OVER THEIR BODY. Crazy, right? We aren’t hairless chihuahuas with pink nails and floral aromas wafting from every orifice like you may have previously believed. The whole advent of shaving was more to do with preventing the spread of disease than aesthetics. But now that we all bathe like crazy and spray the earth with poisons, we are more likely to contract a form of cancer than an infestation of lice. I’m not saying that I never shave, but I don’t like it. Not one bit. And I think we should start a revolution and all be furry beasts together. Amen.
So instead of shaving your legs today, why not use that extra ten minutes to whip up this lovely recipe for rawesome lemon bars? Bursting with lemony goodness and a creamy filling that tastes downright sinful, you will be happy to indulge in this treat while wearing a very long skirt. Hippie.
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup melted refined coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut nectar
Large pinch of sea salt
For the filling:
1 1/4 cups raw pine nuts, soaked for at least an hour but preferably several
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/3-1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1/4 cup refined coconut oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Gently toast almonds or almond flour in a dry skillet over a low flame until fragrant. Combine crust ingredients in a mixing bowl, then press into square cake pan or pan of choosing. Add the filling ingredients to a high speed blender and puree on high until smooth and whipped. Chill filling in the fridge for 30 minutes, then pour into square pan. Top with more zest, then cover and place in fridge. Tastes best when allowed to chill for an hour or so. Makes enough for 8 unicorns with shaving nicks down their legs.
I will withhold my urge to shout out my feelings regarding this hallmark holiday of consumer ignorance, and will instead make desserts shaped into hearts. But can I just make one suggestion? Instead of spending your dollars on pesticide-laden roses and sugar-filled chocolates, make this day about telling others how much they mean to you. In my opinion, the best way to show your love for another person is to cook for them (and massage their feet…AFTER dinner, obviously). If however, you still feel the pressure of splurging on material gifts, please support local, greener companies. And hey, who says chocolates need milk in them to taste out of this world amazing? Check out Dee’s One Smart Cookie in Glastonbury or order online from Lagusta’s Luscious in New Paltz, NY.
But before I share my scrumptious gingerbread cheesecake recipe, I want to tell you about two lovely restaurants that my husband and I recently visited…and adored. The first is Cafe Evolution in Northampton, MA, a gem of a vegan cafe and bakery with crazy good homemade bread and even crazier tempeh B.L.T.’s. The cafe is located in an old, warehouse a little outside downtown Northampton so it’s easy to park and there’s less of a chance of running over a hipster. The inside smells of wheatgrass, fresh bread and coffee…in a word, heaven! I ordered a housemade chai tea, which was delicately spiced and generously topped with frothy soymilk and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Then I had a bowl of their soup of the day, a partially pureed garbanzo bean and kale delight with subtle hints of curry. It was creamy and had loads of kale = perfection. For my main, I ordered a giant mixed lettuce salad with baked tofu and lemon tahini dressing. It was crisp and delicious, but Tom’s tempeh B.L.T. was the clear winner. Loaded with baked tempeh, creamy aioli, avocado, tomato, and lettuce – not to mention stuffed between two slices of their to die for homemade bread – made for one hell of a vegan sandwich. The best part of our visit, however, was when we were readying ourselves to leave, and came across a book in the children’s play area near the entrance to the restaurant. The book was called That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals. I had heard of the book before, mostly because it caused quite a stir amongst conservative parenting groups concerned with the honest, no frills message to children on where our food comes from and how loving and intelligent these sentient beings really are. Tom and I read the entire book, which, in addition to being thoughtfully written and conveying the most inspiring message, was beautifully illustrated. I highly recommend picking up a copy!
The second restaurant we dined at was in Cambridge, MA, called Veggie Galaxy. Decorated with old vinyl, Elvis inspired artwork, and a Jetson’s feel, this funky diner was a refreshing find after countless bamboo-new-age-I-love-seaweed-karma type cafes. Don’t get me wrong, I love these places too, but sometimes a good retro hipster joint is just what the vegan nutritionist ordered. And speaking of vegan nutrition, the great thing about this place is the quality of the food. I expected a fast food vegan type of experience, but instead we were surprised by housemade ketchup, a baby arugula side dish, and a mouth watering housemade seitan reuben. I love reubens, but they are typically made with tempeh, so I was excited to try their seitan version. Spiced with fennel seed and homemade vegan cheese, this sandwich literally blew me away.
Now that you’re dreaming of seitan reubens and tempeh B.L.T.’s, why not make some rawesome gingerbread cheesecake hearts! I know that doesn’t make any sense, but hey, it’s Valentines Day! Cashews, dates, lemon juice, and a whole lot of gingerbread spices make this raw wonder a gluten free and vegan dream come true. All you need is a high speed blender (buy a VitaMix already!), a food processor, and heart shaped cookie cutters! Hooray for not having to bake!
Rawesome Gingerbread Cheesecake Hearts
For the crust:
1 cup cashews
¼ cup pecans
¼ cup almond meal
1 cup dates, pitted
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Combine ingredients in a food processor and pulse until crumbly and moist.
For the filling:
1 ½ cups raw cashews, preferably soaked for an hour or up to overnight
2 T coconut nectar
2 T virgin coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
up to ¼ cup water to facilitate blending
Combine and blend in a vita-mix or high speed blender until creamy. Allow to set in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. With a heart shaped cookie cutter, press crust into mold until it fills it up halfway. Press down firmly. Fill the rest of the mold with the cheesecake filling. While holding the mold, gently press on the bottom side of the cheesecake heart and push it out of the mold. Sprinkle a few crumbs of the crust mixture on top if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in freezer until ready to serve. Makes 10-12 hearts or enough for a small blessing of love sick unicorns. (A blessing is what you call a group of unicorns, in the same way that you call a group of buffalo a herd. Thank you Michael from The Fairy Shop in Boston, MA for that invaluable piece of unicorn knowledge!)
I am in fact a vegan but I am in no way a nutritionist. I’m a slacker nutritionist. Translation: I can’t do chemistry. I have a BA in English, which is for the most part useless. I’m well educated but lacking those shiny letters that start with an M or a P that are all the rage now. You have a college degree? Nobody cares. You have a Master’s or a Phd? Now you’re talking.
So several years back in my scheme to become a certified nutritionist, I bravely enrolled in Chemistry 101 – not once but on three separate occasions. Why? I obviously didn’t get the message the first two times when my eyes glazed over at the sounds of the words “covalent bonds.” Look, I’m not an idiot but when you’ve been out of college for five years, (and in those five years have been either living with your parents or on an island in the pacific waiting tables and bodysurfing), you forget things. Not important things like how to drive, make credit card payments, and which recyclables go in which bins, but those annoying things that are only relevant in an academic setting. Translation: how to find the area of a triangle, isolating X to find the answer, the difference between a mixture and a solution, finding the square root of some useless number, the necessity of litmus paper, graphing calculators, and three-ring binders, the importance of the Pythagorean theory, and the term degenerate as meaning things having the same energy instead of losers who steal cars. These are the things that evanesced from my brain like morning mist after a sunrise, lost forever beneath the blinding necessities of real life. But in Chemistry 101 I quickly learned that all of these things were incredibly important again. Needless to say, my brain rebelled. Everything the fuzzy bearded professor said went into my ears and was savagely attacked by a reckless horde of macrophages (yes, I do remember what a macrophage is. They are quite possibly the only thing I remember from my high school Biology class.)
I took notes, drew pictures, and tried to ignore the pimple-faced children surrounding me. But I quickly realized that I had become that weird older person that comes to class and no one knows what the hell they’re doing there. I lasted two classes. The second time I attempted Chemistry was while I was living in Hawaii. Need I say more? I made it through one class before realizing the absurdity of choosing Chemistry 101 over drinking beers on the beach. The third attempt was the most horrifying because I had come to the brilliant conclusion that the best way to tear through prerequisite Chemistry courses was to do accelerated classes. Translation: an entire semester of chemistry in four weeks for smart people with science backgrounds.
This time, the professor was hideously overweight with a wrinkled grey shirt that blended in perfectly with the cinder block walls behind him. The room was uncomfortably warm and smelled of pencils and stale chips, and in a matter of moments, he was scribbling furiously on the blackboard about atomic mass and density and other nonsense while I stared bug-eyed with horror at the equations and sweat rings under his arms. The other students nodded their heads with boredom, and I nervously asked the girl next to me why she was taking the course. I’m pre-med, she said, I just want to get a few classes out of the way over the summer. My height went from 5’9″ to 5 inches and I quickly learned that the other geniuses in the room were doing something similar. Pre-med, said one, Engineer, said another.
My fears only increased when we left the grey classroom and entered the lab. It smelled like vinegar and the countertops were freezing to the touch. An eyewash station with orange toggles hung by the door, and again the professor wasted no time before doling out beakers, Bunsen burners, graduated cylinders, and Erlenmeyer flasks. Then he announced that we were going to be finding the “Mass Percent Composition of an Aqueous Hydrogen Peroxide Solution.” That was about the time I started seeing unicorns everywhere.
Now that you’ve failed at Chemistry and have decided to rescue ducks for a living, why not make yourself a sweet treat that’s autumnal and makes you want to carve pumpkins and dress in slutty costumes? Raw desserts are my favorite thing to make because they don’t need sugar (see my post “the devil is white and sweet, not in a 50’s housewife kind of way”), they don’t require any baking nonsense, and they’re good for you! This recipe combines pumpkin and cinnamon and everything that makes fall fabulous, minus the colorful leaves (because vegans don’t eat leaves I swear.)
Rawesome Pumpkin Snowballs
Makes about 12-14 balls
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup pitted dates, any kind will do
2 T unsweetened shredded coconut + more for rolling the balls in ( I recommend Let’s Do Organic)
1 T pumpkin puree (I recommend Fig Foods)
1 T virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice blend (I recommend Frontier Naturals)
1 tsp coconut nectar (I recommend Coconut Secret)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
In a food processor, add dates and pecans and pulse until starting to crumble. Pour in the remaining ingredients and blend until mixture resembles a large, gooey ball. In a shallow dish, pour some shredded coconut. Now roll quarter-sized balls in the palm of your hand, and then afterwards, in the shredded coconut. For a variation, you can also roll your balls in other toppings like toasted hazelnuts, cocoa powder, or anything else that makes you happy. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and serve to 6 Chemistry dropout unicorns in need of a sweet fix.
My husband and I recently bought a subaru.
Go ahead. Tell me that I’m a liberal, a lesbian or a homeschooling mother of three because to you I will simply say Ha! I am destroying that stereotype, one granola bar at a time. But let’s be honest, stereotypes develop for a reason…
Take my car buying experience. As soon as I walked through the door, I was royalty; the most beautiful and interesting person they had ever met (translation: ignorant car buyer going to slaughter). Everything I said warranted a light chuckle and a nod of the head. I could do no wrong in this fantasy world of shiny cars and shinier smiles; all they wanted to do was help me. Or so I thought. Now I’m not so ignorant as to be fooled by these kinds of sales tactics, and fake niceness is right at the top of my list of least favorite things. Believe me, I’ve been there, on the other side, handing out orchids to tourists and pretending to care about their Hawaiian vacation when I’ll I really wanted to do was con them into buying timeshares. And I did. Again and again with the slyness of a used car salesman. All they wanted was directions to the Cheesecake Factory and now they are going to a free luau with orchids behind their ears after buying a timeshare they don’t want = Job done (I quit that job to save myself from becoming the slime of the earth). But I digress…
So I’m buying a new car and I don’t know about you, but in my estimation there can only be so much conning going on. I know the msrp is a joke and I can work with that. I just have to play their game, hem and haw over everything and scrunch up my face so that I appear to be in deep contemplation. Lie and tell them I’ll come back later after I’ve thought about it some more (even though I already know I’m going to buy the car). I know what I’m doing…
The sales guy I’m working with keeps disappearing with a line like “I don’t have those numbers in front of me, in fact I’m not privy to them, but I can check with my manager and see if he can work something out for you”. Because I’m special, right? Wrong, they say the same bs to every poor slob who walks in, and you know what, most of them probably eat that crap right up.
I finally get the numbers in front of me after negotiating with the guy for an hour (translation: I ask for a deal, he theatrically sighs and carries on, then talks to the manager, then comes back, then sighs and tell me that they don’t normally do this, but he wants me to be happy, etc…bs, bs, bs).
Then it gets interesting…I buy the stupid car so they should be happy, right? Well they are, but not until I’ve bought all of the extra crap that I don’t need. The extended warranty I understand, but why doesn’t it include everything? I have to buy tire and wheel coverage separately, dings and dents separately, and the worst of all? A little extra called glasscoat. This is a poly-based paint that bonds to the paint job on the car and apparently protects it (translation: covers it with an extra coat of paint that it doesn’t need so the dealership can make more money off of you). As I write this, I’m embarrassed/pissed that I fell for it. The salesman that sold me the car hands me off to the king of slime balls, the dreaded “manager”. He’s a greasy, baldheaded guy stuffed into a wrinkled shirt, who’s about to see how stupid I am. A few stories and two framed photos of his family later, we’re big buddies and he’s let me in on a little secret: this glasscoat stuff really works, and it’s only $7.99 per month. With horror in his eyes he recalls to me the dangers of tree sap and road salt. How could my precious new baby subaru handle it? So I sign up, then realize three days later (thanks to my father’s brilliant opinion: “that’s *$%^!”) that I don’t want it anymore. Now upon signing, my “new best friend” had told me that I could easily alter anything if I changed my mind. Yea, right. I called them up and told them I didn’t want it anymore. They were shocked! stunned! stupified! and told me I had to bring in my contract and that it was going to be very complicated. Great. So I went in and my same bff tried to sell me on it again with the premise: “I’m not going to try to change your mind, but…(enter sales pitch here)”. After he ranted on for several minutes, I told him that I didn’t understand why a brand new car needed another coat of paint. He brought up the tree sap again and I started getting antsy.
“I don’t want it, period”, I finally said. And that was the end. No more glittering smiles and fake chuckles; I had become the dreaded customer with an opinion. He grumbled and started punching keys on his computer, all the while telling me that no one had ever canceled glasscoat before, so he wasn’t even sure if he could cancel it. Now I really hate this guy. Not only is he blatantly lying to me, he’s making me feel like I’m the problem. I want to say “I’m on to you, you money grubbing snake!” but instead I say, “you expect me to believe that this is the first time a customer has ever canceled glasscoat?” He looks at me with beady eyes and lies to my face again. Then he says he can’t change the contract because it’s already “in” (in where? a secret vault of untouchable contracts?), so he’ll have to write me a check for the amount.
“Does this mean that I’m going to be paying interest on it?” I ask. In a nutshell, yes. Then he asks me if I want the tax back. Um…duh, I think to myself. He says he might not be able to get it back. I am ready to scream at this point and my unicorn friend has decided to test drive the new outback while waiting for me. I whisper to him to park under a pine tree and wait for sap. Then I look back at my enemy, the stuffed turkey of a manager, and ask “if I return something to a store, do they give me my money back and keep the tax? No, because that would be illegal.” He smiles and says he totally understands, but somehow this is different, more complicated (translation: he wants to keep the tax because he’s a thieving bastard). He calls someone named Debra who must have all the answers, but alas she’s unavailable. He’s going to have to get back to me on that. Oh, but he’ll take my credit card number and call me once he finds out. I look at him square in the face before I leave and say, “you’re on my side, right?” His sweaty palm grabs my hand and I want to say so many horrible things to him, but my unicorn friend anxiously flags me down. I go outside and we get into my shiny new subaru, and my unicorn friend tells me that he accidentally stabbed his horn through the sunroof of the outback he was test driving. “Great”, I say, “there goes my tax.”
It’s the middle of winter and you’ve just gotten screwed over by a car dealership. Solution? Indulge in some velvety smooth key lime tarts to lift your spirit! This recipe is raw, free of refined sugars, gluten free, soy free, and guilt free because it’s made from healthy ingredients like avocado! Hooray!
1/2 cup almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup dates, pitted
pinch of sea salt
2 avocados, pitted and removed from skins
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (I use Dr. Bronner’s)
2 T coconut nectar (you can substitute agave nectar or honey)
Handful of shredded, unsweetened coconut (I use Let’s Do Organic)
Zest of one lime
Add crust ingredients to a food processor and blend until crumbly and moist. Press mixture into six ramekins or muffin tins or vessel of your choosing. Now blend the filling ingredients in a high-speed blender (like a Vita-Mix) until smooth and fluffy. Add a dollop of the filling to each ramekin and spread over crust. Top with a sprinkle of zest and coconut flakes. Chill in the frig for at least an hour before serving. Makes 6 ramekin-sized tarts, enough for 6 unicorns seeking revenge.