Monday, June 17

Eating well, sleeping and trees.

If you have read back in this blog at all, you know that I like good, healthy food. And not so healthy from time-to-time, but almost never what I would consider 'junk' food. I've also preached the importance of eating well for health quite a lot in the past. That holds true to me even more today than it ever has. 
I started eating vegan and gluten free almost two months ago. I won't go into the details of why, that's a whole 'nother post, but I have had fun cooking since then so I will share a bit of food stuffs. Vegan has been easy PEASy (see what I did there? lol), but gluten free... phew, that was hard! I say 'was' because I've gotten over the hump and don't have any cravings anymore, except for the determined need for a tortilla once in awhile. But the way I feel without gluten wins over the few minutes of deliciousness I could have with it. I think the choice I made to go vegan, give up wheat, coffee, and most processed foods in all the same day is really what made it most difficult. Baby steps, folks, baby steps. 

Anyway, a few things I've learned:
  • Beans are amazing. I already knew this but now I use them even more.
  • Nuts are a miracle food. Seriously. 
  • Alternative sources of sugar are far better than the white bagged stuff. 
  • A little fore-thought can take you a loooooonnnnnggggg way.
  • The simpler we keep things, the easier they are, and the happier this mama-cook is. 
I now make A LOT from scratch. I did quite a bit back in Germany, but this is a new level. A lot of vegan foods are not gluten free, and a lot of gluten free foods are not vegan, including most of the bread. This makes it so that I can't just whip up a grilled cheese sandwich on a whim, I have to get my cheese/carb fix elsewhere, or make my own bread (which is much more complicated in the gf realm, and I've already mentioned how much I dislike gf breads). Add to that J hating nutritional yeast cheezy sauce and we've got a problem. But I'm slowly weaning him into it, and I'll feel better when I can get the boxed mac & cheese crap out of our house altogether. I'm not really into making more than one meal, so I have to come up with stuff that the whole family will eat, hopefully, *fingers crossed*.

So, no fancy ingredients, no complicated recipes... just good, wholesome food. Sometimes things seem a bit 'rustic' but I don't mind that at all. 

Like black bean burgers: 

Adapted from this recipe: Home-made black bean veggie burgers.

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed, laid out to dry for a little while
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 an onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped well
1 tbsp. flax meal
3 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1/2 c. gluten free bread crumbs
pinch of sea salt

In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a flat objet (bottom of a glass, flat potato masher) until thick and pasty. Mix in bell pepper, onion, and garlic, flax, water, chili powder, and cumin. Mash and mix well with your hands.
Divide mixture into four patties.
If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

I served it with avocado and spinach... soooo good :) 

I've already used almonds and cashews for a while in cheese and milk and meal making. I make our almond milk for the most part because of cost and carageenan. I just almonds and water, no sweeteners or thickeners since I use it in all kinds of things, and sweet vanilla almond milk in gravy is not so tasty.

It only takes me a few minutes these days, although I was always intimidated thinking that it would be time consuming. 
I just soak a cup of almonds in a jar of water overnight, then drain them and toss them in the blender. I add another 3-3 1/2 cups of water and blend the crap out of it all (maybe about a minute or so). Then I take a strainer and line it with a regular thin dish towel (or an old flat-fold diaper that I used to use for J's burp cloth) and pour the milk/pulp  in. Next all there is to do is grab the corners of the towel, twist the whole thing up and squeeze out all the 'milk'! It lasts three days in the fridge and is great on cereal or for sauces.

The best part about making my own milk is the excess of almond meal I have left-over! It's great for baking and I even make a mock-parmesean cheese from it. To get the meal I just spread the wet granules onto a cookie sheet and cook it for a few hours at 200˚ F, stirring it up once or twice. The time it takes to dehydrate will depend on how much liquid you squeezed out in the first place, about 2-3 hours. Then I run it through the food processor until it's as fine as I'd like and keep it in a ziplock in the freezer. That stuff can get expensive, so it's a nice break to our grocery bill.  

Although I've been working with milks and meals and rudimentary cheeses (like a faker ricotta), I've never ventured into using nuts for whole dishes.... until yesterday! I made this cheesecake for a swim party we had, and it was so very, very good.

J likes his with honey.

I used this recipe for the crust: Gluten free almond tart or pie crust.

And this for the cheesecake part:  Raw, vegan cashew cheesecake.
I didn't have dates, walnuts, or coconut, and didn't care too much about it being raw or not, so I just had to be sure to pre-bake and cool the crust all the way, before adding the cheese.

This food adventure is getting more and more adventure-y while, at the same time, becoming more stream-lined. I definitely know to look for very simple recipes with minimal ingredients... unless I'm making Indian food, in which case the more the merrier!


I have to share this, too. Yesterday I got J to take a nap with me, which is super rare. He's so, so beautiful. 

He also sleeps a lot and still naps about two hours a day! Go Johnny, go! 


And since you missed so much in my blog silence over the past few months, I will be sharing moments here and there from our adventures (we had a few!). 

J and I inside a giant Sequoia tree in California on April 14:

We are actually in a burn scar inside the tree. The lighter brown on the outside will eventually grow around the tree and close it off. I learned that Sequoias only grow so tall, but will grow out for just about ever- a totally cool way of adapting to the fires that occur up there!


  1. ♥ that photo!

    Thanks for sharing your recipes! I eat a lot of almonds. The black bean burgers look really good! Do you have a suggestion for soaking/cooking beans that gets them nice and soft? I've tried pretty much everything and they're never as soft as the canned ones... I'd prefer to use dried though.

    1. They are so sweet when sleeping! ;)
      I cook them from dry, right in the crock pot! It takes 6-8 hours on high, but that's the best and easiest way I've found so far...


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