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.
I had a hankering for some old fashioned Snickerdoodles just like I used to bake with my mom, only vegan this time.
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.
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.
I have a friend who keeps bugging me to bake something so I decided to develop a vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe.
My favorite kind of chocolate chip cookie is one that is 90% chocolate chips bound together by as little cookie dough as possible. The cookie dough is merely a vehicle to transport as many chips in my mouth as possible.
I think I achieved that today with this vegan recipe.
Assemble all ingredients first, this really saves time. I ran out of sea salt, so I had to use this kind…You could use coconut oil instead of veggie oil, but you’d have to melt it first, and I’m allergic to coconut and don’t really like it anyway. Another option is to use shortening or vegan butter, which is more traditional, and then it would be necessary to first cream the butter with the sugars.
(Recipe below with a cool Canva template.)
Combine sugars and wet ingredients.
Add dry ingredients and chips. Of course you can add fewer chocolate chips if you choose, or add nuts.
Cooling on the rack. I can’t wait to try them!
YUMMY. Crispy on the outside, chewy and sublimely chocolatey all the way around. Pretty much the PERFECT vegan chocolate chip cookie!
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.
I don’t care how you pronounce it, but I need to share my secret love for potatoes and there’s a recipe at the end.
Specifically, the much maligned WHITE potato: simple, sturdy, earthy.
On the last day of my most recent visit to the Angels, sadly, a very long time ago, DIL thoughtfully made a special going home dinner for me, all from scratch by the way, which made it even more wonderful.
There was vegan lasagna with a side of roasted potatoes and apple crumble. The lasagna was made with chard and kale from the garden and was SO VERY YUMMY and healthy.
Apparently (and rightly so) she thought I didn’t eat white potatoes because for the longest time, I would scowl at anything white: white rice, white flour, white sugar, white potatoes–as the source of empty calories, zero nutrition, and a great friend of diabetes. Not too healthy.
From the oven there emanated a most delicious perfume. I asked DIL what I was smelling and she said, “It’s roasted potatoes but you don’t have to eat them. I know you don’t like white potatoes.”
Not so fast, DIL.
I want to not like them, but I’m addicted to French fries (has anyone ever seen me hoard them? It’s not a pretty sight.) I actually dearly love white potatoes, but I try NOT to eat them and have some semblance of self control, like I say I don’t eat chocolate, only because I have no off switch. Once I start eating chocolate, I can’t stop. I don’t ever have any around because of my lack of restraint, which is also the reason why I buy Halloween candy like Skittles and other stuff I don’t like so I won’t be tempted.
OK, enough of the sidebar; back to the story of the roast potatoes.
Dinner was ready and we were setting the table. I was actually STARVING and had most likely once again forgotten to eat for the entire day.
DIL handed me a bowl of roasted potatoes and before they even reached the dining room table, I had eaten EVERY SINGLE ONE.
I brought the empty bowl into the kitchen and asked DIL where I could get seconds. She took one look at me and the empty bowl and started laughing.
“That was a sharing bowl! Did you eat all of them?”
“Well, yes, oops, sorry! I didn’t know they were for sharing!”
“T, Grandma ate ALL the potatoes!”
“YOU DID? HEY DAD, GRANDMA ATE ALL THE POTATOES IN THE SHARING BOWL! SHE REALLY DID!”
I hadn’t tasted anything so delicious in FOREVER; OMG they were so good, I’ve been thinking about them ever since I came home.
And by the way, I had never heard of the term “sharing bowl” before that day. It must be a British thing, as DIL is from the UK.
I finally broke down and bought two WHITE IDAHO potatoes and since it’s a bit rainy today and not devil hot, I’ll attempt a recreation of DILs heavenly dish. I’m even going to add salt and that’s also something I rarely do.
They tasted pretty yummy, but to be honest, not quite as good as DILs, but maybe that’s because it’s such a treat for me to have someone else cook, ‘cos I usually have that job.
Angel Boy 2.0 had a cold so he stayed home from preschool.
“I’m a little snotty today, Grandma!” He was feeling much better after a long morning nap. We were in the living room looking at the windy day while he enjoyed a protein smoothie popsicle (see recipe below).
For the past couple of days, we had noticed a big truck parked in front of his house, taking up more than its fair share of the street. No one knew who it belonged to but we speculated that it possibly was a contractor’s vehicle working at a neighbor’s house.
Recently, Theo has been noticing different cars and trucks and asking for them to be identified. “I said, that’s a Dodge Ram truck. He is so rude to park there every day. He needs to park somewhere else.”
Theo repeated, “Yeah, he needs to park somewhere else. He’s so RUDE.”
All day long we would check to see if the truck was still there and it was, so it became an ongoing joke about how RUDE it was to park in front of Theo’s house so there wasn’t enough room for HIS car.
At dinnertime, we were sharing interesting stories about our day and in a moment of silence, Theo said, “Mommy and Daddy, that Dodge Ram truck is so RUDE!”
There was such a shocked expression on Mom and Dad’s faces, I really wish I had a photo to capture it because this is what it SOUNDED like Theo said…
“That goddamn fuck is so RUDE!”
Dodge Ram truck = goddam fuck —a very expressive three-year-old with a mouth stuffed full of lasagna and a stuffy nose.
For a brief moment, I had a feeling they thought I had taught him how to swear like a merchant mariner. However, when I hastened to translate, we couldn’t stop laughing.
Until the mysterious man drove away, Theo kept saying, “He’s so RUDE with his Dodge Ram truck!”
Just another brilliant slice of conversation with this always enchanting human.
Cherries (any frozen or fresh fruit) Banana – one 100% fruit juice — 8oz Kale and/or spinach — handful Vegan Protein Powder–one scoop Cinnamon to taste
Combine kale and juice. Blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend to desired thickness. Pour into popsicle freezer containers, the ones with the little sticks. Freeze until firm.They are so healthy and delicious!
Let me first say that the one and only time I weaned my one and only child was in 1982, so what am I doing writing about weaning, you might ask?
My thirty-six year old son weaned himself on his first birthday with no warning, and my poor body suffered while he loved the autonomy of his burgeoning independent nature.
This is a guest post written by my DIL, who is now the mother of my one and only amazing and brilliant grandson.
My son turned one at the beginning of March.
I had been toying with the idea of weaning him for a couple of months.
Initially, I had tried the “only when he asks” approach, but babies are creatures of habit, so he continued to ask and I continued to feed on demand.
As soon as my son had his twelve-month wellness check and his pediatrician said he was physically and emotionally ready, I was eager to start the process of weaning.
The thought of dragging this out for six-plus weeks was too much for me, but the risks of going cold turkey are very real (infection, blocked duct, emotional trauma) so I proceeded with caution. If you do need to wean quickly for whatever reason, or your baby just suddenly rejects the breast, here are some tips to get through it more quickly.
As a disclaimer, my son was already eating three meals a day plus snacks, so it wasn’t like I was still producing a massive amount of milk. He was clearly obtaining his nutrition from other sources.
Where to start… Start with the easiest feeds. For me, those were the ones when he woke up. I first eliminated those after naps, then morning, then before day naps, before bed, and then the dreaded night feeds…
Tips for baby… I have been a RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) mom since day one, otherwise known as respectful parenting. The philosophy centers around honest and authentic communication as soon as baby is hours old. Even though I was tempted to put band aids on my nipples and say “mommy is sick”, or apply garlic so it would taste gross, my son and I faced the challenge together.
Make it positive — I bought my little guy a special cup for homemade smoothies to replace the nursing experience from his wake up feeds. My son loves rabbits, so I got him the biggest rabbit cup I could find; since he has no problem with a straw, that’s what we use, but a sippy cup would be equally successful.
Do not place yourself in familiar nursing situations — I love to read books in bed with my son in the morning, but during weaning I would get up, shower and dress, so that as soon as he woke up I took him out of the bedroom for banana and almond milk smoothie in “Rab Rab”.
(Smoothie recipes below.)
Sport the high-necks — I wore three layers to minimize the odor of milk, as well as high neck shirts that he could not pull down.
Stay busy — As we eliminated the day feeds, I made those days extra busy. We were barely ever at home so as not to place ourselves in situations where he would even think to ask.
Mr. Mousie — I bought a special blanket that I sprayed with Chanel Mademoiselle (my familiar scent), which I use to cuddle him with during Rab Rab smoothie time. (Smoothie recipes below.) This was a blanket that I could also use to place in the crib for naptime. Extra cuddles and love during weaning will help to bridge the emotional loss of breast feeding.
Change of scenery — I chose to do it while visiting Grandma. There were so many exciting things for little one to do and experience, and I got the support I needed as my body and emotions went through the change and the challenge.
Watch out for hunger — As I worked on eliminating the night feeds, I needed to make sure that he was not waking up because he was hungry. Toddlers burn through so much energy! When they have been asleep from 6.30pm, it is reasonable that at 4:00 am it might be that they need a little something in their tummy. I was focused on eliminating the breast so my milk would fully dry up, and I decided to replace those feeds with a bottle of warm milk. Try what works for you; regular organic milk, almond milk, or coconut milk.
Boundless love — I got lots of advice to let Dad go in at night so he cannot ask for milk. As part of the RIE I mentioned earlier, I faced this head on. I went in and there were moments that were heart-breakingly sad. But in my heart I knew it was time, and so I told him — I know this is hard for you. I love you so much. And found lots of ways to be close, tight cuddles, cheek to cheek.
Success! After two weeks, my little guy is completely weaned, sleeping through the night, and started walking. What a great first year!
(If your little one is also teething, try the teething biscuit recipe below. My son LOVES them!)
Tips for mom…
Sage — I drank fresh sage tea and infused sage water pretty much constantly. I also included fresh mint and lemon balm, but sage was my primary fluid. I was advised that you should drink it every six hours, but I had a cuppa going all day.
Cabbage Leaves — These have been used for centuries and I can see why!! I was a little skeptical at first, but they work amazingly well. For the first few days, I used them continuously during waking hours. I kept them in the fridge so they were nice and cold, which feels wonderful if you start to feel engorged. Place the stems out, and change every 30–90 mins depending upon flow.
Antihistamine — This is also meant to dry up milk. I took a non-drowsy type every 24 hours.
Warm showers — The first day I took three warm showers. I would massage my breasts and hand express just enough to make sure the ducts still had an outlet, but not too much to stimulate production.
Heating pad — I read varying accounts of this, but I did use a heating pad at times when the engorgement made my breasts feel hard and lumpy.
Ice-pack — I used this in-between the heating pad to cool down swelling. I was also using cold cabbage leaves, so the icepack was used when I was taking a break from the cabbage leaves.
Topless Sunbathing — Luckily I was weaning at Grandma’s house in Southern California, so while my little one was napping, I could enjoy some au naturale topless sage tea!
Rocky Road ice-cream — It’s important to remember that if you’re eaning fast, you’ll go through a pretty big hormone crash. Be prepared and have supplies. Pamper yourself with whatever you need to do for self care to get through PMS — ice-cream, movies, cuddles. I kept laser focused on the end-game — no more night feeds, no more gross nursing bras, and no more sanitary pads in your BRA!!! (and all over the bathroom floor).
Sleep — sleep when you can because you may need extra energy at night. If you’ve been used to nursing, dousing, and then crashing out, remember that getting a baby to sleep without popping them on the breast takes more energy and perseverance.
WAB WAB Smoothie I
Waking up in the morning and after nap
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
1 TBS organic almond butter
1/4 small banana
Wab Wab Smoothie II
1/4 cup 100% organic fruit juice
½ cup purified water
Leftover kale, spinach, chard, or other leafy veg, well blended!
1/4 cup Organic whole milk Greek yogurt
Chopped/grated apple or pear or organic blueberries/strawberries
1 cup almond milk or coconut water or a combination
Blend 1/2 cup dates and 1/2 cup raisins with the liquid until well chopped.
Pour into bowl
2 TBS organic agave
2–3 TBS vegetable or coconut oil
Add 1/2 cup flax meal
1 cup organic whole wheat flour (or any flour)
Oat flour is easy to make in a blender
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Mix all. Add a little more flour and knead briefly to make dough pliable.
Roll into 12×14
Cut into 1inch x 6 inch slices
Roll into finger sized shapes, easy for little hands to grasp.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes and then 300 degrees for another 15 minutes turn off oven and let them cool in oven.
We have a bounty of zucchini here at the Casa de Enchanted Seashell garden, and the dilemma becomes what the heck does one do with all of this summer squash?
I made a few loaves of zucchini bread because they freeze well and tugboat man can enjoy them when he returns.
Did I forget to mention that he’s gone again?
Yup, he left a couple days ago, but I’m happy that he got some good surf so he wasn’t all moody and depressed, and we were able to go camping and commune with nature.
But what about all the zucchini?
I’ll pickle a few jars like I’ve done with cucumbers and then I got the brilliant idea to add shredded zucchini to my favorite chocolate cake to boost the nutritional value and keep it super moist, not that it lasts more than a day or two, ‘cos it’s the best chocolate cake EVER, vegan or not.
Best of all, the zucchini magically disappears during baking, so if you have children who are recalcitrant and don’t like veggies (how is that even possible?) this is a great way to TRICK them, although I don’t really approve of deceit as a parenting technique.
Son and DIL are coming down for a brief visit so that’s the perfect excuse reason to experiment PLUS they’re bringing a friend that Angel Boy was in graduate school with at Yale (bad sentence structure, I know), so it’s just like the “old days” when the house was filled with kids for me to stuff with food.
I old-school shredded the zucchini…
All dry ingredients go into the mixing bowl.
Add the liquids…
And the zucchini. So simple, now beat for a couple of minutes to incorporate all the goodness.
When it’s out of the oven and still hot, place about 1/2 cup of vegan chocolate chips on top. When they melt… Take an offset spatula and spread to make a delicious and easy topping.
See how shiny?
It’s always nice to garnish with garden blooms. I plucked a nasturtium, mint, and lemon verbena.
It’s as yummy as it is GORGEOUS!
Dark Chocolate and Zucchini Vegan Cake
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1 cup shredded zucchini (squeeze out any excess liquid)
1 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose, I use King Arthur, not because they pay me, but because it’s U.S. grown and an employee-owned company)
1 cup cold coffee or water (coffee is better with chocolate) or you could always use soy/almond/cashew/coconut milk.
Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 1. Mix the first five dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Make three shallow depressions in the dry ingredients.
3. Pour vinegar in one, vanilla/amaretto in the other, vegetable oil and zucchini in the third.
4. Pour coffee/water over all.
5. Mix well until smooth.
Grease a nine-inch pan. Bake on middle rack of oven for approximately twenty-five to thirty-five minutes. Check with toothpick to make sure it comes out clean. Don’t over bake or it’ll dry out. Cool and frost.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen a huge increase in the numbers of vegan blogs and vegan recipes (YAY!) but it seems that they’re getting more and more elaborate, as if it’s a sort of competition to create the most difficult-to-prepare meals.
I’m sending a more simple back-to-basics message.
If we agree that one of the reasons for not eating meat advocates for a cruelty-free life to protect animals from a hellish existence on earth, we need to also communicate that it doesn’t always have to be a herculean task to do the right thing.
I’ve been a veg since 1970 and in those 40+ years have seen a lot of people make a similar decision to go meat-free and then, for one reason or another, fall off the wagon.
One of the reasons I’ve heard time and time again is that it’s “too hard”.
Some of my most enjoyable and satisfying meals are the most simple.
Here’s an example of a basic, easy-to-prepare dinner.
1. You can either sauté the jalapeños and garlic for a few minutes or leave them raw; it’s your choice. I used pickled lalapenos and garlic ‘cos I had them in the pantry.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, salt, water. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, mix until it comes together in a wet ball. Add a bit more flour if it looks too wet, but you don’t want an overly dry dough.
3. If you’re doing it all by hand, old-school style, use a wooden spoon and put some muscle into it.
4. When it comes together, flour a cutting board and knead for a bit; this is a rustic bread so it doesn’t have to be perfect.
5. Oil a bowl with the reserved olive oil, place the dough in bowl, cover with a plastic bag, and set aside in a warm place to rise for a couple of hours. It helps to blanket the bowl with a towel, too.
6. After you can see the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough onto a floured wooden board. With your hands, roughly press the dough into a circle.
7. Add half the olives/jalapenos/garlic.
8. Fold the dough in half and gently press again to a rough circle.
9. Add the rest of the ingredients and form the dough into a ball shape.
11. Dust the baking sheet with a teaspoon or so of cornmeal or flour.
12. Let rise again for about thirty minutes.
13. Toward the end of this second rising, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
14. Using a sharp knife, cut an X-shaped slit across the top of the dough.
15. Bake about forty minutes until the top is golden brown.
16. What I like to do toward the end of baking time is to take the bread off the baking pan and place directly on the rack to bake for another five-seven minutes. This ensures a completely even crunchy crust.
17. Take out of the oven, place on cooling rack.
It’s very important not to cut into it too soon! I know it’s hard to wait, but sometimes it’s a good idea.
Serve with homemade lentil soup and a fresh garden salad; this is truly bread heaven.
I’d like to hear from you if you try it. I taught tugboat man how and he didn’t think it was too difficult.