Vegan Banana Buckwheat Pancakes w/Homemade Almond Milk

This turned out to be a drizzly and dreary Sunday morning, perfect for my famous buckwheat pancakes.

I had a couple very ripe bananas, so I figured that would be a great flavor enhancer but I didn’t have any liquid (just juice and wine haha) and didn’t feel like going to the store.

In vegan recipes, nut/oat milk is interchageable with cow’s milk and eggs aren’t really necessary. I didn’t have any plant milk but I did have raw almonds.

I’ve never made my own “milk” but this seemed like a good time to try. It’s super super easy. I was thinking of separating this into two posts and I still might, but since the recipe for vegan pancakes needed plant milk, I combined them.

Almond Milk

First, soak about one cup of almonds in bowl with four cups of water. The recipes recommend soaking for a minimum of four hours to overnight, but I’m impatient so I only waited a couple of hours.

Pour all of it into a high powered blender. This is when you can add a bit of salt or vanilla if you wish. Blend until it’s creamy and smooth.

Use a nutbag or strainer to separate the nuts from the liquid. I didn’t have a nutbag so I used a doublemesh strainer and then I squeezed the last bit of liquid with my very clean hand.

Cover and store in refrigerator. Definitely save the leftover pulp for baking.

Soak

Blend

Strain

Chill and enjoy!

Time for…

Vegan Banana Buckwheat Pancakes

Preheat griddle or pan

2 very ripe bananas
1 cup almond (plant) milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar or agave
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch sea salt (optional)
Mash the bananas with a fork. Add milk, oil, sugar, vanillla.
To the liquid ingredients, add all at once
1/2 cup all purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder.

Stir by hand until combined. Don’t overmix or pancakes won’t be fluffy.

When the griddle is hot, use a small amount of vegan butter to coat the surface.
Ladle the batter and watch for bubbles on the surface of the pancake.

When air bubbles start to rise to the surface at the center of the pancake, flip the pancake. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Serve with organic maple syrup or agave or jam. YUM. Super moist and fluffy!

It’s a Pink Kitty Cat Kind of Day

“Owl or kitty cat, what will it be?”

“PINK!”

“What kind of birthday cake should I make for you? Pink owl or pink kitty cat?”

“Pink PIGGY!”

Too late, I already baked and decorated a little pink strawberry frosted kitty cat cake with a pink sparkly collar.

Two-years-old today; bright and beautiful.

This cake might not win any design awards at The Great British Baking Show, but it was a total hit with one particular little girl who loves the color pink and all kitty cats.

Happy Birthday, little princess!

Kale and Chard: A Burning Sensation

Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same stupid thing over and over again with the same results — not learning the lesson — and I must confess that applies to me here!

I grow a lot of chard and spinach and lettuce and kale. They all seem to thrive at Casa de Enchanted Seashells. I cook some, freeze some, annoy everyone by putting it in every baked good from brownies to cookies, and I love to eat it raw.

That’s where this started. For a while, I’ve been picking chard and kale while I’m outside gardening, just to enjoy being Mother Earth in action.

For a similarly long time, I’ve noticed that after I eat raw kale and chard and sometimes spinach, my throat starts to burn, not like I ate something spicy, but like I mixed bleach and ammonia and inhaled it (yes, I’ve done that, too, accidentally of course).

After several experiences of this painful throat, I finally did what I should have done the first time, I GOOGLED the symptoms.

Lo and behold, it’s a THING.

Maria Hepler, RDN, CLT: Calcium, which is an essential nutrient for strong bones, can be found in many green leafy vegetables, such as collard greens, spinach, mustard greens, kale, and Swiss chard.

However, oxalic acid, an organic acid found in spinach, chard, and beet greens, and moderately in kale, among other plants, binds with the calcium they supply and reduces its absorption, so in their raw form these should not be considered a good source of calcium.

What are the symptoms that one has eaten too much oxalic acid?  These include burning in the mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, weakness, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Spinach contains phytic acid and oxalic acid. It may be better to steam the spinach and not to eat it raw.

For sensitive individuals, even small quantities of oxalic acid  eaten regularly can lead to kidney stones or bladder crystals, along with the problem of calcium depletion. 

Does this mean we shouldn’t add kale or other greens that contain oxalic acid to our smoothies? Not necessarily. Cooking or steaming these vegetables can significantly reduce the amount of oxalic acid present, which will help with calcium absorption (make sure to drain your greens thoroughly as the oxalates go in the water).

If this is a concern, it’s best to precook leafy greens and store them in the freezer (in individual portions) for quick access.

I never used to notice this reaction to acidity in raw greens but now that I know, I will definitely stick to picking lettuce for my garden treats.

Adapting To Circumstances

More craziness from my little Universe, but I’ve learned to adapt.

The repairman will be here in a few minutes. While I’m HOPEFUL he will be able to find a solution and fix the oven immediately, there are no guarantees.

Since I still have working burners (the oven is a separate built-in wall version), I searched around for recipes that could work on a cooktop.

I discovered Skillet Granola, tried it, and LOVE the way it turned out. I used my own recipe with oil and maple syrup and a lot of cinnamon. The extras like raisins and hemp seeds and coconut can be added later, but the actual oats are crispy and delicious. AND I didn’t overheat the entire house, which is something to remember when it really gets summery here. Now my original Angel Boy will have his granola, so I’m a happy mom.

My research also revealed many recipes that can be adapted for a cooktop: brownies, manicotti, even pizza. In the unfortunate event that this repair needs a part that has to be ordered, I am much less stressed now than I was yesterday because I’ll continue to fulfill my very important Grandma job of feeding all the creatures.

Thank goodness the anticipated breakfast burritos and buckwheat pancakes are not in any danger.

*Still no resolution with my WordPress issue, but I’ve accepted that the problem might be bigger than an UN-Happiness or Sadness Engineer can help me with. It’s the Universe sending me a message over and over again. OK OK! I hear you loud and clear. I will set it aside for now as it’s obviously NOT the right time.

**An update on the missing pan…still nowhere to be found. This is a real mystery and I have no clue.

The Ultimate Avocado

Feast your eyes on this beauty!

It’s a Reed avocado, a gigantic variety grown by a very generous friend. I’ve tried to grow avos but don’t seem to have the green thumb it takes to be successful.

It’s more than twice the size of a regular Fuerte avocado; about six inches long and weighs approximately two pounds.

I LOVE avocado in its purest form; split open and scooped out of the shell; beautifully green, rich, smooth, and creamy. Guacamole is my second favorite way to eat avos–what I don’t really care for is the trendy avocado toast, it tastes weird to me.

Did you know that the seed is edible too?

Practically everyone knows how good avocados are for health, but the nutrient contents of the seed itself might just surprise you. The seed contains about 70 percent of the total nutrients in the whole avocado. For its antioxidants and soluble fiber count alone, the avocado seed single-handedly beats any other fruit and vegetable available on the market. To include the seed in your diet also means to benefit from more potassium, copper and vitamins B, C, E and K than if you simply relied on the pulp.

The Avocado Pharmacy

From an even greater health standpoint, the seed is antimicrobial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. Simply because of its profoundly high antioxidant count, it helps to reduce free radical damage inside and out. This has the benefit of reducing cholesterol levels, boosting immunity and protecting the skin from wrinkles or even sun damage.

Preparing The Seed From Scratch

To enjoy the wonderful benefits of the avocado seed, simply crush or grate the seed and blend it into a smoothie. It can also be juiced or turned into tea by steeping it in hot water. If you’re not going to use it right away, it can be dried and stored for later. The avocado seed has a bitterness quite unlike the pulp, but it is nonetheless enjoyable once you get accustomed to it.

Imagine how many people simply trash the seeds after they eat the “good” part of the avocado. This often neglected part of this super food is just one more bonus that adds to the legendary status of the avocado. Learn more at: https://www.avoseedo.com/

Have you ever tried to eat an avocado seed?

YUM! Miyoko’s Vegan Cream Cheese

Whenever I find a great product, I love to share it with you guys.

I thought I’d try vegan cream cheese again. The last time I did, it was a thoroughly unpleasant experience. It looked gross and tasted like grainy, slimy wallpaper paste that left a nasty residue in my mouth. Yuck.

At Traders this morning, I gave in to temptation and picked up a tub of Miyoko’s Cream Cheese.

I didn’t examine the label with as much scrutiny as I usually do because the store was crowded and I wanted to hurry and get out of there.

When I got home, I was starving and opened a box of crackers, crossing my fingers that this new variety of vegan cream cheese wouldn’t be another disaster.

After my first taste, I thought I had accidentally purchased real cream cheese with LOX (salmon) and I was totally freaking out. I literally ran in the kitchen to look at the container to check ingredients in case I made a mistake. I was gobsmacked (love that word) to read this:

I can’t believe how accurately Miyoko’s replicated the flavors and texture of milk-based cream cheese. What a joy!

Product Details: •Non-GMO • Lactose Free • Gluten Free • Soy Free • Palm Oil Free • Kosher • Ingredients: Organic Cashews, Filtered Water, Organic Coconut Cream, Sea Salt, Organic Seaweed, Vegetable Juice for Color, Cultures

Even if you’re not a vegan, I suggest you give it a try because it’s simply DELICIOUS. And best of all, their products are cruelty-free.

**This post is an unsolicited endorsement; the company didn’t send products for review nor have I received any form of compensation.**

Recipe: Refreshing Infused Herbal Water

As promised, I’m going to share my recipe for this refreshing and healthy herbal beverage. It’s been unseasonably warm here and I was getting tired of plain old water to hydrate and quench my thirst.

Every herb came from my garden. To sliced cucumber and lemon, I added

Thyme
Basil
Sage
Lemon verbena
Cilantro and cilantro flowers, the whole thing, stem included
Celery leaves (yes I grow celery)

I suggest that you try whatever you have in your garden. I might add a sprig or two of lavender, but it’s an overpowering addition and I wanted the purity of character that herbs impart. My parsley and marjoram are still seedlings and I didn’t have any ginger on hand or I would have sliced a big hunk of that, too. It’s fun to experiment…just make sure every plant is edible and non toxic

After refrigerating for a while to marry the flavors and chill, I poured it into a big glass and garnished with an orange nasturtium flower. Keep replenishing the water and it’ll stay fresh and yummy for about four or five days.

It was so delicious and refreshing! I felt exactly as if I was being pampered at a posh day spa.

Happy first Saturday in April!

Best Ever #Vegan Snickerdoodles

I had a hankering for some old fashioned Snickerdoodles just like I used to bake with my mom, only vegan this time.

I’ve been asked, so to clarify…yes, this is my pic I took of the just-baked Snickerdoodles, not a random Google photo.

I realize that a majority of my recipes are zero sugar and include all forms of kale and tofu and lentils; healthy and organic for the Angels, but they’re not here right now and I have truly eaten enough kale to last several lifetimes, haha.

I developed this recipe after doing tons of online research. The internet offers dozens of variations; some recipes include flax seeds, coconut sugar, and spelt/oat/amaranth/chickpea flours (including gluten free)–but I prefer to keep things simple.

My philosophy is that more people might want to try a vegan lifestyle if it’s not too complicated. At least at first, and then as one delves deeper into cruelty-free living, it’s fun to experiment with more exotic ingredients.

Gather ingredients; Cream of Tartar is the key to snickerdoodle’s unique flavor. I know it’s against all the rules to use Crisco shortening, but once in a while is OK, and it’s awesome for cookie texture.

I didn’t think anything could be better than my Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I was blissfully happy with the results of these crackly, chewy, intensely cinnamon-y full moon shaped pillows of satisfying spicy sweetness. (But not too sweet.)

If you have patience, let them cool for about ten minutes before eating, but if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to wait. I hope you try them and let me know your results.

My friend is going to drop off a bottle of imported vanilla so I’ll make them again, but I might still use the maple syrup because the maple flavor really enhanced the spicy cinnamon profile.

Caution: I go HEAVY on the cinnamon because I love it so much. If you don’t, adjust the amount to be mindful of your own tastebuds.

Yummy Vegan Veggie Lentil Soup

My doctor totally depressed me cos she told me her husband’s best friend just died from Covid-19 and because she’s on the frontlines treating patients, she cautioned me to be extra careful and stay home and away from people.

I decided it was a great day to make another version of my favorite hearty and healthy soup.

Lentil Tofu Veggie Soup

Ingredients:
*Carrots, 3 large
*Celery, 2-3 stalks including leaves
*Tofu, whole package
*Lentils,1.5 cups
*Kale, 2 cups
*Broccoli, half head
*Canned organic tomatoes, 28 ounce can
*Bay leaves and other garden herbs

–Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large pot.
–Add roughly chopped carrots and celery. I don’t like onions so I didn’t add them, but go ahead and chop up half an onion if you like them.
–When they’re nicely browned and have released a lot of flavor, add dried lentils and six cups of water along with a couple bay leaves.

–Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer.
–Add bite-sized pieces of broccoli and tofu along with chopped kale.
–Simmer for about an hour, stir every once in a while. Add more water as needed.
–Add a large can of diced tomatoes in juice and any herbs to taste.
–I picked sage and oregano and thyme from the garden.
–Add 1/2 teaspoon pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt (optional).

–Serve in a large bowl with freshly chopped cilantro and basil. I’ve been lucky enough to have beautiful lettuce this season, so I picked a few fresh leaves for a salad to accompany this delicious soup.

Sometimes I make a crusty French bread but I didn’t feel like it because I’m sad about almost losing our precious democracy but I might make vegan biscuits tomorrow cos I’ll eat this soup for a few days.

It gets better every day.

Easy Vegan Tofu Mayo

While everybody is posting pics of beautifully decorated cookies and cakes, I decided to go back to basics with a recipe for vegan mayo. 

No need to panic if you run out; it’s really easy to make your own!

I used to love Trader Joe’s vegan mayo but they’ve either been out of it for a long time or maybe they just stopped selling it, so I decided to experiment with my own version.

It’s simple and tasty but next time I’ll use vegetable oil instead of olive oil–that’s a personal preference because I don’t really like the taste of olive oil.

Easy Vegan Tofu Mayo

–7oz silken tofu
–1/3 cup oil
–1TBS lemon juice
–1tsp vinegar
–1 tsp (or more to your taste) dijon mustard
–1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt (to your taste)

Place all of the ingredients in the cup of an immersion blender and blend until smooth and thick.
Add a little more lemon juice if too thick. It should look exactly like mayo and spread easily.
If you don’t have silken tofu, you can try it with the firm option, but it won’t be as velvety.

That’s IT. Nothing fancy. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
And VERY healthy; packed with protein thanks to the tofu.