Kale is the preeminent hottie celeb in veggie land; a leafy, tall, barefaced beauty, loaded with chlorophyll (no botox needed here) and ready to kick some free radical ass. Poor broccoli has all but been forgotten, even though this cruciferous superfood is a cancer fighting cross fitter with stalks of muscle and a thick head of green bushy hair to boot. In fact, a friend of mine recently read an article about how broccoli producers are trying to formulate new marketing strategies to bring broccoli’s sexy back. Food trends are crazy, and now that I’m the the ripe old age of 30, I can reflect with a haughty chuckle, the numerous foods that have enjoyed their 10 seconds of fame, and have since faded to obscurity i.e agave nectar, acai berries, veggie dogs, and anything made by Kashi.
One trend, however, that’s here to stay, involves those foods lucky enough to bear a shiny label that reads “Gluten Free”. Like its good friend (and liar) “All Natural”, gluten free foods are the newest paved road to immortality and visions of unicorns (unless, like me, you already live with one). I nearly wept when my blood test results came back declaring an allergy to wheat, thus ostracizing me with scarlet “GF” letters, and throwing me into a breadless basket of wheat haters. I love bread. No, I don’t think you understand–like, really, LOVE bread. If I don’t start my day with a sprouted whole wheat onion & poppyseed bagel toasted with herbed cashew cream cheese, I feel as though my soul is being slowly sucked away by a dementor (if you don’t know what a dementor is, then we’ll never be friends, however, for the sake of sharing important information, a dementor is a creature from the Harry Potter series that sucks all the happiness from your body until you die).
I can’t do the green smoothie thing, or the granola thing, or the quinoa oatmeal thing, or the miso soup thing. Breakfast is about comfort, and in my opinion, the definition of comfort is a warm, toasted bagel that makes you want to spend the day in sweatpants on the couch with as many animals as you can fit.
The point is, I have a wheat allergy. The problem is, I love bread. The solution was obvious, but it took me awhile before I could embrace my new cooking journey i.e. purchase weirdo flours like sorghum, and weep while tossing out bags of sprouted whole wheat.
Herbed Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits
1 cup arrowroot starch
1/3 cup coconut flour
2/3 cup sorghum flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
Handful of freshly chopped parsley or herbs of choosing
2 flax “eggs” (2 T ground flax seed + 6 T lukewarm water)
2/3 cup unsweetened soymilk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 425. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, including herbs, and stir to combine. Mix the soymilk and vinegar in a separate bowl and allow to curdle for a few minutes to create your buttermilk. Meanwhile, whisk together flax “eggs” until gelatinous. Cut coconut oil into dry mixture using a fork, adding in teaspoon sized chunks until the 1/4 cup is fully used up and mixture is crumbly. Add “buttermilk” and flax “eggs” to mixture, and stir until ingredients are combined. Do not knead. Using your hands, spread dough out on to a clean surface until roughly 1 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to make 12 circular biscuits. Bake for 15 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 biscuits, or enough to feed a small herd of wheat hating unicorns.
When I see dust-laden piles of paper on a desk, random crap pushed into dark corners, or tchotchkes lining a window sill, a feverish desire overcomes me. My pupils dilate, my heart whooshes blood into my eager hands, and I try my best to suppress the urge to tear through it all. Because this typically occurs in other people’s homes…and you can’t just reorganize someone else’s stuff. That would be weird. In my own space, however, I can sort and clean until I fall into a heap on the couch after deciding what to do with my old textbooks. And I can donate knick knacks with maniacal glee. Translation: miniature statues of animals, crocheted pillows with written sentiments, headlamps (really…), stationary with my name etched across in whimsical floral-accented cursive, geodes and other earthen matter, ill fitting too small clothing, key chains or lanyards, and scrub brushes painted to resemble creepy clown-faced women. I do have my fair share of bric-a-brac (aka unicorns of various shapes and sizes, perhaps a wooden cat, and yes, a faery with wire wings), but I arrange these items with an eye for minimalism, and the same holds true for my kitchen…
When you get married, you are allowed to sign up for a registry, and with this right bubbles up an insane need for useless items…because you can, and because your mother said “every wife should have one of these _____(enter unnecessary item here). Translation: a molcajete (because a regular old mixing bowl just ain’t good enough), overpriced formal china (for all those 12 person dinner parties that you never have), silver flatware (because the advent of no need to polish stainless steel is an insult to grandmothers everywhere), 12 piece knife block set (because you need 12 different knives to chop an onion), a tortilla warmer (just.stop.now.), a slate cheese board (negative. and you should stop eating cheese anyway), and a rooster shaped timer (this is also a tchotchke).
So, to help brides and grooms to be with their kitchen registries, and in fact, to anyone wanting advice on what to put in their kitchen, I have compiled a list of necessary items here.
Now that you’re armed with the tools to make you a kick-ass vegan chef, why not wow your friends with rawesome sour cream? Serve with chips and salsa for a Mexican-inspired taste explosion without the nasty dairy.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for an hour or overnight
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1-2 shakes of garlic powder
Large pinch of sea salt
Enough fresh water to facilitate blending (less than 1/4 cup)
Drain soaked cashews and rinse with cold water. Add them to your blender along with all of the other ingredients. Start on low variable speed and increase to high, pureeing until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Chill in refrigerator before eating. Serve with chips (I highly recommend these) or add to tacos, burritos, or anything else calling for sour cream. Makes enough for 4 unicorns celebrating cinco de mayo with their molcajete and tortilla warmer.
Now I will talk about something that I have no business talking about: babies! The reason I don’t? Well, I don’t have a child myself, nor am I expecting one, but they’re an ever increasing familiarity in my life these days. At first, I’ll admit, babies used to scare me. Translation: they are impossibly small, warm, and they smell differently, not to mention they are mostly hairless and may cry out, poop or cry at any given moment; none of which I am equipped to prevent or stop. How is that not terrifying? But lately I have been channeling my inner, mature adult self, urging her to claim bravery in the face of the small human child. I am even brave enough to say that I want my own little hairless being, but it still makes me uneasy to even utter the words. Why? I have no idea, considering that, let’s be honest, our only real purpose on this little planet is to reproduce and secure our continuing existence and domination over other beings, especially furry ones. In fact, when I begin to mull this over I can’t believe how separated we have become from our instinctual natures and basic needs and wants. But don’t worry, I’m not going to get all philosophical on you because all you really want to know is how to make this kick ass recipe for spinach salad with creamy dressing, right?
But before I do, I need to clarify why the word “baby” even popped into my head. A brilliant and talented friend of mine recently started a farm-to-table style gourmet baby food company in Boston called Lovage (that’s an herb if you didn’t know). Her yummy blends are artfully simple and packed full of the natural brilliance of vegetables and fruits – no alterations required to be nutritional powerhouses for your small furless one. If you live in Boston or the Boston area, be sure to check out her company! Feed your baby locally sourced and locally made fresh food! Hooray! You will also find my recipe for spinach and pear salad with cashew dill dressing on her monthly newsletter, along with everything to do with preparing for and raising an eco baby, just the way mother nature intended.
For the salad:
5 handfuls of baby spinach
3 radishes, ends removed & chopped
1 avocado, pitted & chopped
1 pear, cored & sliced
1 handful of raw walnuts, toasted
Freshly cracked black pepper & sea salt to taste
For the dressing:
1 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked overnight or for at least an hour
½ cup water
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 T raw coconut nectar or unrefined sweetener of choice
1 small clove of peeled garlic
2 tsp onion powder
1 small handful of fresh dill
Large pinch of sea salt
Drain and rinse soaked cashews under cold water. In a high speed blender, add all dressing ingredients. Puree on high until velvety smooth. To toast walnuts, crumble them in your hand and toss in a dry skillet over a low flame. Cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and set aside. To assemble dish, toss salad ingredients with dressing and top with toasted walnuts. Makes enough salad for 2-4 furry unicorn babes.
why plants don’t have feelings / sprouted wheat bagel with cashew cream cheese & maitake mushroom bacon
Whether you’re vegan (VEE-gan not VAY-gan, which sounds like we’re from another planet) or not, chances are you’ve probably heard some wild accusations about it. Translation: we only eat hummus, we are from white, wealthy families, we all have tattoos, we are skinny and pale, we don’t eat carbs, we are angry at everyone who isn’t vegan, we only ride bicycles, we love animals more than people, we are hipsters, and we are self righteous liberals. While some vegans may fall into these categories, this is a gross generalization of a growing demographic that in my experience, are a diverse and wonderful group of individuals.
So why all the judgement?
Like religion and politics, food is very personal. Your plate is as powerful as slapping a blue elephant sticker on your car or wearing a cross around your neck. People notice and sometimes, take offense. This is the reality of our world, and there’s no reason to flip out because someone disagrees with your diet choices. If the goal of veganism is compassion and respect for all living things, then we must embrace and accept our own species first! But sometimes, this can happen…
After noticing the tempeh reuben on my plate, a seemingly innocent diner observes: “You’re a vegan?”
“Yeah,” I reply.
“But what about plants?” cries the diner with a shocking amount of passion. “Plants can feel pain too!”
“*$%&#!@&$^%#@!” <– exclamation inside my head.
What I actually say –> “Plants don’t have a central nervous system, which means they cannot feel pain in the same way that sentient beings can.”
This is a generally accepted principle, however, there are still some people who argue that plants do feel something when harvested. But even if that is true, it still leaves us with the same options: eat plants & animals (who definitely feel pain and suffer needlessly), or just eat plants. For me, the choice was easy.
Now that you’re feeling moody and want to throw hummus at everyone, why not blow their minds with a creamy, fluffy, and indulgently thick cream cheese that will make you feel like you’re in a Philadelphia cream cheese commercial from the nineties! Cashews play the leading role in making this oh-so-dreamy spread, along with my good friend, the bagel. I adore Alvarado Street Bakery sprouted whole grain onion & poppyseed bagels. Seriously, buy these bagels and let them change your life for the better. Toasted and topped with a huge dollop of herbed cream cheese and crispy maitake mushroom bacon and you are in for a serious taste bud explosion!
Sprouted Wheat Bagels with Cashew Cream Cheese & Maitake Mushroom Bacon
1 bagel, sliced & toasted (I recommend Alvarado Street Bakery Onion & Poppyseed Bagels)
2 cups raw cashews, covered with at least 4 cups of water and soaked overnight
1 1/2 tsp probiotic powder (you can buy a jar of probiotics in capsule form at many natural foods stores; just open capsules and pour out powder)
1/2 cup fresh water
1 T dried herb blend (I recommend Penzey’s Fox Point Blend) or 1 T fresh chives, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 container or 2 loosely filled cups of maitake mushrooms, split apart by hand
1 tsp olive oil or refined coconut oil for sauteing mushrooms
pinch of sea salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste
After the cashews have been soaked in water overnight, drain and rinse, then place them in a high speed blender. Add the water and probiotics and blend on high until creamy and smooth. Pour into a small mixing bowl and cover with a piece of cheesecloth. Leave in a cool, dark place overnight.
Remove cheesecloth from fermented cashew mixture, and stir in the seasoning blend and salt. Set aside. In a saute pan, heat oil over a medium flame and add mushrooms. Allow them to brown for a few minutes before stirring with a wooden spoon. Once they are crispy, turn off flame and place on a paper towel to drain.
To serve, spread a generous dollop of cream cheese on a toasted bagel and top with maitake mushroom bacon. Makes about 2 cups of cream cheese, or enough to serve 4 merciless plant eating unicorns.