I’m Bringing Coleslaw Back, Sans Mayo

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I used to have lukewarm feelings for mayo-based coleslaws, but once I made slaw with a vinaigrette dressing, I enjoyed it so much more.

Coleslaw gets a bad rap. It is often presented in ways that are unappealing, slopped down as an unwanted side dish with ribs, burgers, or fish and chips. No matter how good it tastes, it’s always overshadowed by other elements on the dish, and perhaps rightly so…until now. I’m bringing slaw back – and you won’t be satisfied with just that tiny plastic cup.

While slaws are traditionally made with cabbage as the main ingredient, you can certainly use any hearty leaf that will hold up to being dressed and transported to a backyard barbeque. Today, I’m starting with the basics. Cabbage is high in vitamin K and anthocyanins, which aid mental function and concentration.  It is also a rich source of vitamin C and sulfur, which helps the body to remove toxins and improve skin.  Cabbage has number of other health benefits and can even assist in getting rid of that nasty hangover!

DSC_2053Another super food that I’m using in today’s slaw rendition is broccoli, which is in the same family as cabbage.  Thus, it also a powerhouse of vitamins K and C and contains detoxifying properties.

DSC_2057Finally, in my dressing, I’m using, for lack of a better description, a watered-down version of agave syrup.  Thankfully, this sweetener is all-natural, containing small amounts of juices from other fruits that amount to fewer calories.  Again, I don’t count calories, but what appeals to me about this sweetener over pure agave syrup is that it has a lighter, more refreshing quality about it, which I think pairs perfectly with a slaw like this one.  As you’ve seen in my other formulas, I use full-fledged agave syrup all the time, but I like this one best in this application.

DSC_2061So, I beseech you to consider giving coleslaw another chance.  My formula yields a crunchy, crisp dish that I would eat as more than a measly side.  If I’m hungry enough, I’ll eat at least half of the bowl myself.  🙂  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  SLAW

Serves 4-6 as a side; 2-3 as the main event

  • ½ head or 1 bunch hearty leaves (cabbage, kale, collard greens, rainbow chard, etc.)  –>  I’m using green cabbage.
  • 2 cups chopped raw fruit and/or vegetables  –>  I’m using broccoli.
  • ¼ cup “crunch” (raw seeds, nuts, etc.)  –>  I’m using sunflower seeds.
  • ¼ garnish (green onions, chives, fresh herbs, etc.)  –>  I’m using green onions.
  • Homemade dressing of choice*

*Today, I’m using a combination of 2.5 tbsps white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp agave syrup, and salt and pepper to taste.

Chop or shred your leaves; it isn’t important that they are perfectly uniform in size or shape.  If you’re using cabbage—or a vegetable like it—cut around or otherwise remove the tough core.  If you’re using a green with ribs—such as a kale—cut around or otherwise remove those as well.

DSC_2054Finely chop your vegetables, crunch, and garnish (if needed) and add to your slaw base.  Mix your dressing separately and pour over the slaw.  Toss and serve.  Holds up well in the fridge for a few days.

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Easy Homemade Granola

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I love granola! It’s versatile, filling, and when made properly, very nutritious. Today, I’m going to walk you through my homemade granola formula that is low in sugar, fat, and sodium, and free from high fructose corn syrup and preservatives found in many packaged varieties.

The staple ingredient of granola is rolled oats. Oats are among the first foods a baby can eat and I figure, if they’re safe for a six-month-old who’s trying food for the first time, they’ve gotta be some really good-for-you stuff. Oats contain more dietary fiber than any other grain and even have cholesterol-lowering properties. Given my history with battling hereditary high cholesterol, I’ve always been in when it comes to this super food.

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Of all of the different types of oats out there, granola comes together best with rolled. Rolled oats are whole grain oats that have been steamed and pressed. They retain more texture in many kitchen applications than instant oats and cook faster than steel-cut oats (which I also love). I buy them in bulk and always have some in my pantry for a quick oatmeal.

In today’s granola, I’m also using raw sunflower seeds. Their flavor is mild and texture crunchy, but easy to chew; Nolan will eat a whole pile of them as is. Sunflower seeds are rich in Vitamins E and B-1 and copper, which benefits skin and hair. In addition, if you’ve got a nut allergy, you can buy sunflower butter as an alternative to peanut, almond, or cashew.

DSC_1957Before you get into making this breakfast formula, you should know that on its own, it is not very sweet. The low sugar content doesn’t bother me one bit since I never eat my granola without fresh fruit on top or with togurt, but you could always add more dried fruit if you want to take the sweetness up a notch. With very little exposure to sweets in his young life, Nolan is perfectly content eating this granola with just plant milk.

A couple more notes… If you don’t have all of these seeds on hand, no worries; you can make the granola without, it just won’t be as nutrient-packed. And finally, whenever possible, make your own juice to avoid preservatives and added sugar.  Enjoy!

DSC_1961FORMULA BASE: GRANOLA

Serves 6

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried fruit*, raw nuts, and/or raw seeds –> I’m using a combination of sunflower seeds, dried cherries, dried cranberries, almonds, and pecans.
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 cup 100% fruit juice –> I’m using fresh-squeezed orange (2) and grapefruit (1/2).
  • 1 heaping tbsp nut butter –> I’m using peanut.
  • 2 tbsp sweetener –> I’m using agave syrup.
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Oil enough to grease a cookie sheet or baking dish –> I’m using coconut oil to grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish as it is easier to stir the granola.

*Whenever possible, if you do not dehydrate your own fruit, look for dried fruit that contains little to no added oil or sugar. Also avoid dried fruit that contains sulfur dioxide, as it is not allergy-friendly. See my trail mix post for more info.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Combine juice, nut butter, sweetener, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it begins to bubble, turn the heat down to low and let thicken for about 15 minutes.

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While what I call “the sticky” simmers, finely chop your dried fruit/seeds/nuts, if necessary, and combine with the oats and seeds in a large bowl. When the sticky is ready, slowly incorporate it into the oat mixture as you stir. Spread evenly on a lightly greased cookie sheet or in a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake for 30-35 minutes – or until granola is crunchy and golden brown – turning every ten minutes or so. Let cool completely and store in a tightly sealed container in the pantry.

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Want to make granola bars? Try doubling “the sticky” and spread the complete mixture onto parchment paper. Bake at least 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

Nothin’ Like the Smell of Freshly Baked Bread!

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I love bread (who doesn’t?!) and I insist on the absolute best if I’m going to buy it premade. I’m talking whole grain, organic, all natural, no preservatives, and loaded with extras like seeds and nuts. When it comes to bread, high quality will cost you; my favorite pre-made bread is $7.00 a loaf. Between me, Travis, and Nolan, that bread could easily disappear in less than five days.

I’m a big proponent of DIY and prefer, when I have the time, to go the extra mile and make food items from scratch that I could easily buy in the store. Travis and I have made our own plant milk, pasta dough, extracts, beer, wine…and the list goes on! I had been making quick breads for years, but knew when the price of my favorite pre-made yeast bread went up again that I had to learn how to make it myself.

Making yeast bread, I found, it actually quite simple, but time-consuming. Thankfully, most of the time is spent waiting for the dough to rise, so I take the opportunity to do a short workout, clean the house, or do some more cooking during this time period. The best part? I can make my own bread, meeting all of the above criteria and loaded with extras, for about ONE THIRD of the price of my favorite $7.00 loaf!

Is yeast bread vegan? Yes, it is. It’s true that the yeast is “alive” when you go to make the bread, but it is a simple organism, incapable of pain, emotions, or thought, just like plants. At one point, the bananas on your counter and kale in your fridge were living, growing organisms as well. It is impossible to avoid eating something that was once living and any moral dilemma you may face with yeast certainly barely compares to that that you might experience with cows, pigs, birds, and fish. 🙂

Let’s talk a little bit about some of the ingredients I’m using today, pictured below.

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SPELT FLOUR: Although I am a fan of whole wheat flour, spelt flour is even richer in vitamins and minerals, and more flavorful.

PINK HIMALAYAN SEA SALT: HSS is naturally high in iodine, among over eighty other vitamins and minerals, including iron. It contains less sodium per serving than iodized white table salt. I don’t use a lot of salt in my cooking in general, but I’ve made this bread with and without and it just doesn’t taste the same without.

YEAST: I use rapid rise yeast. It does the same job as active dry, but faster.

GROUND FLAXSEED: Flaxseed is a super food high in Omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber, and may even reduce the risk of major diseases like cancer and diabetes. NOTE: You must eat flaxseed ground in order to reap its nutritional benefits.

AVOCADO OIL: Avocado oil is high in vitamin E and potassium and contains more protein than any other fruit. It can lower blood pressure and increase absorption of carotenoids from other fruits and vegetables.

Like my other fresh formulas, I’m using what I have available on hand. You can substitute any flour or oil you have in your pantry. Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: YEAST BREAD

Makes 1 standard size loaf

  • 3-4 cups of flour, plus more for dusting your workspace –> I’m using 2 ½ cups spelt and filling in as necessary with whole wheat.
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ tsp salt –> I’m using pink Himalayan sea salt.
  • 1 packet rapid rise yeast
  • 1 tbsp oil –> I’m using avocado.
  • 1 ¾ cups very warm water (hot, but touchable)
  • Up to ½ cup specialty ingredients (optional) –> I’m using equal parts chia seeds, hemp seeds, and raw sunflower seeds.

Attach a dough hook to your stand mixer (you can make the bread entirely by hand, but it will be a little workout!).

DSC_1780 Thoroughly clean and dry your countertop and sprinkle with flour.

DSC_1784 Have any specialty ingredients of choice nearby to eventually knead into your bread dough. Lightly oil a large bowl and a loaf pan.

Combine 3 cups of flour, salt, and yeast in the mixer on low. Add any additional spices or sweeteners, if using. Add the water and oil to the dry ingredients and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl before starting the mixer. Start on low speed and increase the speed as the dry ingredients become incorporated into the wet.

Add all of the flaxseed and then, additional flour gradually until your dough forms a minimally sticky ball on high speed. I can tell that the dough is ready for kneading if it is still somewhat sticky to the touch, but does not stick to the mixing bowl itself when whipping around on a high speed.

DSC_1792 Flour your hands, remove the dough, and place the dough onto your floured countertop.

Knead the dough, adding small amounts of flour as necessary, until it makes a smooth ball. If you are adding ingredients like dried fruit or seeds, stretch the dough open 3 times throughout the kneading process to sprinkle in ingredients before folding over the dough and kneading again.

DSC_1793 Knead for 5-7 minutes total and then place the ball into your oiled bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

DSC_1794 DSC_1795 After 45 minutes, punch down the dough, reform into a loaf shape, and transfer it into your oiled loaf pan.

DSC_1798 Cover the dough and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In the time that it takes the oven to preheat, your dough will rise again and then be ready for baking. Bake for 35 minutes. The bread should come out of the loaf pan fairly easily and onto a wire rack to cool.

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Simple and Delicious Kale Crunch Salad

DSC_1604On a recent trip to Portland, Oregon to visit friends, I was surrounded by restaurants boasting the plant-based cuisine I love to eat. My friend, Danielle, told my husband, Travis, and I that kale was literally everywhere, including sitting on the pavement outside of her car one night! She said that nearly every restaurant offered a kale salad of some kind and that got me thinking about a kale salad recipe that I really enjoyed back in Arizona.

Another friend, Lissa, introduced me to a yummy kale salad recipe that she obtained from a colleague. The salad was simple, with the only vegetable being the kale itself. It was dressed in a mix of lemon juice and olive oil and topped with finely grated parmesan cheese. This recipe inspired my Green Salad Formula, which is a healthier, plant-based version of the greens.

When I make a green salad, I like for the only vegetable to be greens so that I’m consuming a large quantity of them. Kale, in particular, is high in fiber, iron, and calcium and packed with antioxidants. A true super food! This mix boasts a variety of organic baby kale leaves that are more palatable in a salad than their adult counterparts.

DSC_1581I add a little protein and crunch to my kale salad with the addition of raw sunflower seeds, almonds, and cashews. Cashews mimic the flavor of parmesan cheese, so I use them as a cholesterol-free substitute.

DSC_1585Finally, I make a lemon vinaigrette dressing for this salad that is fat free. The aforementioned kale with parmesan salad includes a dressing that is largely oil and in my opinion, too fattening when paired with cheese, or in this case, nuts. I add a hint of agave syrup to balance the tartness of the lemon juice and no oil whatsoever. Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: GREEN SALAD

Serves 1 as a meal or 2 as a side

  • 4 cups fresh greens –> I’m using a mix of baby kale leaves.
  • ¼ cup raw seeds and chopped nuts –> I’m using 1 tbsp sunflower seeds, 1 tbsp almonds, and ¼ cup cashews
  • 2 tbsp dressing of choice –> I’m using a homemade lemon vinaigrette.
  • DRESSING:
    • Juice of ½ of a lemon
    • 1 tsp agave syrup
    • ¼ tsp onion powder
    • ¼ tsp garlic powder
    • One grind fresh black pepper
    • Pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt

Mix the salad dressing with a small whisk and set aside.

DSC_1591Put the nuts through a nut grinder or chopper, or finely chop by hand.

DSC_1588Toss the kale in the lemon vinaigrette and top with the sunflower seeds and chopped nuts.

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