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Archive for September, 2011

I recently ate my last guava for the season.  We have a very large guava tree that sits by our driveway.  Most mornings Scott and I go for a walk.  Heading back up the driveway and to the house, we have to walk right by the guava tree.  So during guava season, I always grab one off the tree and before I’m through the front door, it’s gone.

Guavas are delicious.  I can remember picking them and eating them from my grandmothers tree when I was young.  The whole thing is edible which makes it easy.  The seeds are a little crunchy, which may turn some off, but I love them.

Guavas are considered a superfruit.  One little guava has 4-5 times the vitamin C of one orange.  They also contain vitamin A, potassium, calcium, iron, folic acid, fiber, protein, antioxidants and more.  All of this in a little fruit that takes about 4 bites to eat.

There are several different species of guavas and I am not even sure of the one I have.  I do know that it’s the one I also ate when I was younger (not that that helps.)  An interesting thing that I read about guavas are that their leaves and bark have actually been used for medicinal purposes in many parts of the world.

Guavas can be cooked, made into jams, jellys, preserves, and candies.  The juice is tasty to drink and guava cobblers are delicious.  If you have not eaten a guava lately, give it a try.  You won’t be disappointed.  My only disappointment is that I won’t be eating another guava until next summer.

I sometimes make what I call guava paste.  I guess I’m too lazy to to do the whole jelly thing and anyway my guava paste is all natural and very yummy.  It’s just two ingredients – guavas and some sugar.  Very simple and very good.  You can spread it on bagels or toast or whatever you wish.  Before tiptoeing towards veganism, I would mix the guava paste with cream cheese and put on a bagel.  Fabulous.  Now that cream cheese is a No No, I am going to have to try this with vegan ‘cream cheese’ or some other spread.  I’ll figure something out.  Of course it is very good all by itself.

My Guava Paste

My Guava Paste Recipe: cut guavas into quarters, boil until they are soft and mushy (a word I like to use).  Pour in a colander to drain all water off.  Put guava mush in a blender or food processor, blend until pureed.  Spoon guava puree into a fine/small holed colander.  I have a small handheld one with a metal screen and I do this step a little puree at a time.  Push all the puree through the screen.  A small holed screen will not let the small seeds pass through.  After you push the first batch of puree through the screen, wash out the seeds and then do the next batch.  Once your done, add a little sugar, taste and decide how much more sugar you want.  I find that I really don’t use that much sugar.  Spread this on whatever suits your fancy and chow down.  You can always make this a little thicker using different things – you decide.

My Very Large Guava Tree.

Guavas on my tree.

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This morning, I decided to experiment.  Scary thought, I know.  Why would someone as clueless about cooking vegan as I am experiment?  FOR FUN!!!  First I opened up one of my cookbooks, How It All Vegan, and started searching for pancake recipes.  We are a pancake lovin’ family and it was time to test the tribe.  How It All Vegan had several pancake recipes that all sounded pretty good but I got to thinking that they started out experimenting so why not me.  I looked at the things they used to replace what I normally use in my pancakes (eggs, milk, oil).  Remember, this is a learning process for me and I’m Tiptoeing Towards Veganism, not diving in head first.  Then I went to work.  How It All Vegan’s recipe includes regular flour, baking powder, banana, soy milk and sweetener.  Here is my own recipe ( I call these Almond Coconut Banana Pancakes):

Almond Coconut Banana Pancakes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp ground flax

1 1/4 cup of almond milk

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 very ripe and very mashed banana

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp raw sugar

Sift together or stir really well the flour, baking powder, and ground flax in a medium bowl.  In another bowl mash the banana together with 1/2 cup of the almond milk until it looks like puree and all the lumps are gone (I got this part from How It All Vegan, although they used soy milk.)  Then pour the banana mixture, the rest of the milk, vanilla, and sugar into the bowl with the flour.  Stir well.  Cook on a nonstick skillet, use a little Pam if needed.  When bubbles start to form, flip that baby over and cook until done.  Serve with fresh blueberries and pure maple syrup or anything that you prefer. SHOCKER – these were GOOD!!!  Everyone enjoyed and ate.  My daughter did say she like my other ones better but that these were ok.  These were definitely thicker/heartier than my usual.  Next time I think just to thin them out a bit I am going to up the coconut milk to 1/2 cup and maybe for my daughters sake I’ll add a tad more sugar, maybe a teaspoon.  Another option is to mix the blueberries in with the batter before cooking.  From one butter, egg, pancake loving person to anyone else out there, this recipe rocks!  Next time I’m going to try to make pancakes with applesauce.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.  Enjoy!

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So in searching my cookbooks I found a recipe for chickpea cutlets. Thank you Veganomicon and authors Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero!  My thought was:  perfect, this will be our “meat ” for the evening.  Grill King laughed at the thought of something called chickpea cutlets taking the place of chicken, ribs, or steak.  I had to agree, anything with the word cutlets sounds like a meat dish.  But I was determined to have a complete vegan meal no matter what.  Therefore, I hid the butter! After I mixed together the ingredients for the chickpea cutlets, threw together a salad and cooked some quinoa (I have a really big bag of this stuff – COSTCO), Grill King did the honors of cooking the cutlets.  I placed this meal on the table and called everyone in.  My daughters reaction to seeing the cutlets – “I thought we were having a vegan meal, this is fish, you can’t have fish.”  Ah Hah!  Maybe chickpea cutlets can replace meat.  Although to be honest with all of you, I have not yet given up fish or seafood  (this will be a really hard road for me and I’m not sure I’m willing to travel it at this point.)  Does an oyster have a mama or a face?  Tiptoeing remember?  However land meat/things with hooves or beaks are in the past.  They’re out-a-here!  for me anyway.  So we ate our “vegan meat”and even my pickiest eater ate the chickpea cutlets.  Both kids liked the meal and Grill King stated that I am welcome to make these cutlets anytime.  See, miracles do happen and everyone in my family had a completely meatless meal that they enjoyed and that was also veganified (a word?…probably not).   Sounds good though.

My Chickpea Cutlets - Recipe Courtesy of Veganomicon

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So I tell “Grill King” that we’re going completely meatless for the night.  He seems ok with it and offers to help.  On the menu is a stir fry vegetable burrito and some quinoa with sliced almonds and seasonings.  Sounds simple, right?  I mean how can someone unveganize (a word?…probably not) a completely vegan meal?  Let me explain.

First of all let me say that my husband is a good cook (especially when it comes to meat, if you are into things with hooves) and knows his way around the kitchen.  However, the words healthy, heart friendly and low fat are not ever used when describing his cooking techniques.

He starts cutting up things like onions, red and orange peppers, mushrooms, garlic….yum right?  The wok is sitting on the stovetop and as I look in the wok at about the same time he is throwing in the veggies, I see about 1/3 stick of butter melting in the pan.  Things that flashed through my mind:  dumping the wok on his head, screaming my lungs out, grabbing the closest sharp utensil….you get the picture.  What I actually did:  closed my eyes, counted to 10 and reminded myself that we are tiptoeing towards veganism and that my dear husband, not only does not know that butter is a NO NO in the vegan world, but that he is also helping me cook a meal that contains NO MEAT!!!  A HUGE step for the Carnivore.  So instead, I suck it up (I haven’t given up dairy yet) and go with the flow.

We have a fantastic meal and everyone enjoys it.  Well, almost everyone.  My daughter has a cheese quesadilla instead of the veggie burrito.  My son enjoyed every bite of his burrito.  Everyone ate and liked the Quinoa (my first time making it).  Usually we have rice.  After reading about Quinoa, I decided to give it a try…lots of protein and yummy.  While shopping in Costco, I see a bag of Quinoa and buy it instead of my regular rice.  It’s a HUGE bag so my hope is that we like it because we will be stuck eating it for a while.  Sliced almonds taste really good in it.  Most of all, it passed both the “kid” and “Grill King” test.

So I almost had a Vegan meal.  I put a couple of spoonfuls of homemade guacamole in my burrito with my veggies.   It was fantastic.  Next time NO BUTTER!  It would have been just as good, I’m sure of it.

Reminder to self:  either cook vegetables myself or hide the butter and put away all sharp utensils.

Stir Fry Vegetable Burrito and Quinoa with Sliced Almonds

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Super Yummy Oatmeal with Sliced Almonds and Blueberries

I remember having oatmeal when I was young.  My mom would fix it for my sister and I on cold mornings (yes, sometimes even South Florida has cold mornings).  It would fill us up before school and being warm, it tasted great on those chilly mornings.  I’ve had oatmeal several times over the years and its always been delicious, of course I always added both butter and milk.  NOT THIS TIME!  I made some Super Yummy Oatmeal (that’s what I’m calling it) vegan style!  My recipe:

Boil the oats with 1/2 water and 1/2 almond milk

when it’s ready, add – a tsp vanilla,  1 – 2  tbsp brown sugar (depending on your taste)

stir, then top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, sliced almonds and blueberries or the topping of your choice.

Oatmeal is soooo good for you.  Eating it is like having your own little warrior fighting against both cancer and heart disease.  It helps lower your bad cholesterol and is filled with great things your body needs like fiber, protein, iron, and vitamins E and B, just to name a few.  There are many who do not like oatmeal but there are so many  things you can add to oatmeal  to yummify it.  My version includes almond milk, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, sliced almonds and blueberries.  Yummy!

From this one little recipe, I learned that I can make something just as yummy or maybe even yummier without things like butter and milk.  One step at a time….tiptoeing remember?

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Finally, my cookbooks are here!  It was like opening a Christmas present because I had no idea what to expect.  Never cooked vegan before. You know normally when I do amazon super saver shipping, my items arrive much quicker than the expected date.  This time however, they took their own sweet time in getting here and did not arrive until the final day of my “when to expect them window.”  I was beginning to run out of ideas of what to eat.

I ordered three different books by three different people.  In searching vegan blogs and websites I found many cookbooks mentioned and recommended.  I picked three and ordered.  Hopefully I chose wisely.  Some recipes look fantastic, some look difficult, others easy, and still others have things I have never heard of before (I’m in the learning process remember?)  I think I’ll place these in the bathroom for “Grill King’s” reading pleasure.  Perhaps he will come out enlightened with some great cooking ideas that don’t include something that once had a face and start Tiptoeing Towards Veganism with me.   It could happen!

The cool thing is that in all three of these cookbooks I found some fabulous looking desserts.  I’m hoping to turn my kids onto these.  Maybe the brownie making mom can still be popular.  I’ll let you know how some of the recipes pass the kid test.  The fun part will be to see how recipes pass the “Grill King” test.  Stay Tuned!

My New Vegan Library.

Now if anyone out there knows of any other places/books to find some great vegan recipes, please send them my way.  Meanwhile, I’ll be giving these a shot.  Here goes!

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