Mindy’s Mint Julep Smoothie

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Please ignore the avocado and bagel seeds…. they do not find their way into this smoothie!

Mindy, Mindy.  If you only knew how much I missed your vegan sausage patty breakfast sandwiches, your tofu cutlets, the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice you bring me while I’m still in bed, and alas, your mint julep smoothies.

My friend Malinda, aka Mindy, is one of my favorite people in the world.  I could list all the amazing things about her, but we all have best friends we feel this way about.  She is such a caring person, and has all those motherly dispositions that I love in all my girl friends.  We have been sharing recipes for years, and no matter how many times I try to replicate some of hers, they never, and I mean never, turn out as well.  Suffice to say, had she made this recipe, it would be ten times better than mine.

I’m not entirely sure why she calls it a mint julep smoothie, as there is no rum, or sugar.  I have also altered this a tad, adding some chia seeds for a morning boost.  We all know how food fads come and go (kale, flax, quinoa, kombucha), and how each year a different ‘super-food’ so to speak plays a larger role.  This year I think it would have to be Chia seeds.  Chia seeds, much like flax seeds are high in omega 3’s and 6’s, something we all need more of.  They are also high in fiber.  When using them in recipes, chia seeds get gelatinous like ground flax, only you don’t need to take that extra step and ground chia seeds.

Image-1  Tiny, tiny Chia seeds

My two favorite things about this smoothie are the fresh, cooling flavors the mint brings, and creaminess you get from the tahini.  Tahini being another one of my favorite versatile ingredients, loaded with protein and dietary fiber.

Mint Julep Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups frozen Peaches
  • 1/2 cup Mangos
  • 2 Tbl. Chia seeds
  • 2 Tbl. Tahini
  • 1.5 Tbl. Agave
  • 1 cup Almond milk
  • Handful of fresh Mint Leaves

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in blender.
  2. Run on high till smooth.
  3. If its too thick to your liking add a tad more almond milk to thin it out.
http://vegpod.com/mindys-mint-julep-smoothie/

 

This summer I fell addict to Health Warrior’s Chia coconut bars.  They are so dreamy, and the perfect pick me up snack!  Health Warrior also has an amazing list of athletes that consider themselves in the chia tribe.  Each serving (approx. 2 Tbl.) of chia seed contains five times the omega-3 content of a 1/4-cup serving of walnuts, twice the iron and magnesium of a cup of spinach and more than twice the fiber of a cup of oatmeal.  Now that is a superfood!  Chia seeds are also great sprinkled over oatmeal, cereals, in granola bars, and I love em in raw crackers.  Enjoy!

Birdie Granola aka ‘Nola’

photo (23) Its been almost 2 months ago since we left Wisconsin.  And as much as I do miss it, I am whole heartedly enjoying Annapolis, Maryland.  What a great city.  A charming brick laid downtown, overly dog friendly, bike friendly, and I love living in a city that thrives off of the water.  And have I mentioned yet how nice it is to be able to smell the salt water!  Its lovely. Back in Sheboygan, we were making a plethora of granola bi-weekly.  Vegpod sold two flavors at the farmers market, and two flavors to Goodside Grocery for resale.  It always had a tendency to sell like crazy, and we never ran out at the house.  Win-win.  Annapolis is proving to be similar.  Though we are not wholesaling anywhere, and though we don’t run a booth here, we do live with the cutest two-and-three-quarter-year old, who loves to eat granola, or ‘nola’ as she calls it.  Lailah like to eat her nola just as is with a spoon, or out of her hand.  How kid friendly is that? photo (22) The other great things about this granola is that its super easy to make.  And homemade always tastes better anyway, so why out source?  Thats no reason to stop buying Vegpod’s granola, but I encourage everyone to try it out!  I promise you will feel amazing and your kitchen will smell fabulous for hours!  Did I mention its gluten free as well?

Birdie Granola

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour (scoop and shake to level)
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or any kind of nut
  • 2/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tea. pinch sea salt
  • 2 tea. cinnamon
  • 1 tea. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup (the good stuff) or agave nectar
  • 1.5 tea. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins, cranberries or any other chopped dried fruit

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix first set of ingredients together in large bowl.
  2. Then mix second set of ingredients in separate bowl.
  3. Pour wet into dry ingredients, combine until well coated. spread evenly on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, stir. bake for another 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on the stuff, both agave & maple syrup can brown quick!
  5. Remove from oven, stirring again.
  6. Once its cool, stir in the dried fruit.
http://vegpod.com/birdie-granola-aka-nola/

There you have it!  I told you it was easy.  You don’t have to be precise with any of the nuts or fruits, really anything to your liking will work.  Sometimes I like to stir in toasted coconut, then sometimes cherries are great for a little tartness.  You can be like Lailah and eat it as is, or have it over your favorite yogurt or milk with some berries.  I have been obsessed with the Trader Joe’s brand soy yogurt, but they have been out of stock for months!  Such a bummer.  Since then I’ve opted for the so-delicious coconut milk based yogurt.  Its not bad, but nothing compared to Trader Joe’s.  Once the weather cools, I will pull out the dehydrator and start making my own again.  Oh fall, how I am ready for you!

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Lentil Wheat berry Cakes

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I have to say, anything in the form of a patty, cake, croquette, or once was a ball- then got squished, I am a fan of.  Maybe its the versatility.  Maybe its the fun of forming the shape.

These cakes were incredibly easy to make, but did require a lot of pots and pans.  I started with three pans.  One to cook the lentils, one for the wheat berries, and one for the couscous, which was going to be my ‘binder’ for the cakes.  Needless to say, I made a HUGE amount!  We now have a freezer full of these yummies, which Im told, will be great for those first weeks of our babies arrival.

The texture was great, credit to the wheat berry, and lentil combination.  All in all there are two types of wheat berries, the hard, and soft.  The hard wheat berries tend to keep there nice chewy texture, great for whole grain salads.  The soft I tend to favorite more for stuffed squash, and a wheat berry breakfast oatmeal.  I bet some cooked soft wheat berries would be insanely good in a spin off of an oatmeal cookie (note to self!)  There are red and white varieties, as well as spring and winter.  I’ve heard that the red wheat berries can be a tad more bitter, due to the extra proteins, but I can barely tell the difference.  I think depending on what you choose to use them for, the color can play an important role.

Other ingredients in these cakes included porcini mushrooms, onion, shredded carrot, lemon zest and juice, dijon, and some herbs and spices.  I served them above with some sauteed arugula, basil, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives.  We then had them as a quick lunch the next day with some ketchup.  Both we great.  I am thinking a nice tart cranberry sauce would be lovely served along side.  And I have a freezer full to experiment!

Heres a close up:

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In the voice of Lou Reed….’Sunday Morning’ Pancakes

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I do love Sunday mornings.  And countless times upon rising, the first thoughts that run through my head are:

1.  Finally a day without the alarm clock, including snuggles with the fam & pups.

2.  I am so incredibly thankful that I am not a brunch chef anymore.  I love cooking brunch.  I just like to leisurely sit and eat it too.

3.  Pancakes!!

As I lay in bed still sleepy eyed, The Velvet Undergrounds ‘Sunday morning’ lyrics pop into my head quite regularly.  Thus its time to flip on the tunes, and make some pancakes!  Not a bad way to start the day.

Since I became pregnant I haven’t had many odd cravings at all.  No pickles, non of the non vegan things people mentioned I would crave.  Except for one thing.  Pancakes.  I have always been more of a savory breakfast person, but the little one inside screams for fruit topped pancakes weekly.  And who am I to deny that.

So here is a pancake recipe I adapted from Candle Cafes recipe, and changed a bit to be a little more whole foodie.  We skipped out on the blueberry ‘butter’, and opted for just some fresh peaches, and maple syrup.

Sunday Morning Pancakes

  • 1 Cup Sprouted Spelt Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Quinoa Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Unbleached Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Flax Seed
  • 2 Cups Unsweetened Coconut Milk or Alternative of Choice
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Fresh Fruit, for accompaniment, we had peaches that needed to be used.
  • Maple Syrup, for accompaniment
  1. Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ground flax seed in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, coconut oil, and vanilla and add to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined.
  3. Spray a large nonstick sauté pan with canola oil cooking spray and heat the pan over medium heat.
  4. Drop large spoonfuls of batter into the pan, leaving room for the pancakes to expand.
  5. Cook until the bottoms are golden and bubbles are popping to the surface, 1 or 2 minutes.
  6. Flip the pancakes and cook the second side until golden.
  7. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  8. Serve with fresh fruit, and maple syrup.

Here’s a close up of the finished cake stack topped with fresh peaches and syrup!

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They turned out wonderful, and I was glad I didn’t use all unbleached flour.  The sprouted spelt flour we used was from a new-to-me company called  One Degree Organic Foods. Every grower/farmer who helps make One Degree food products uses veganic growing methods only.  How cool is that?!  If you haven’t tried any of their products I urge you to.  It’s amazing being able to support a company that prides themselves on transparency.

Next weekend Erik wants banana walnut, and I’ll opt for blueberries, as Im sure any filling will be wonderful.  Maybe even chocolate or carob chips if you feel up to it!

Happy Autumn!

Watch out, the world’s behind you. There’s always someone around you who will call. It’s nothing at all.  Sunday morning….

Champs Family Bakery, Brooklyn


Champs-3Photo credit to keepinitkind.com

I could sit here and type a long list of reasons why it feels good to be on the east coast again, but I’ll start with one.   Food.  And by that I mean the vegan options.  And taking it one step further, I mean establishments that are ENTIRELY vegan!  Living so close to home, aka NY, feels so great.  I forget how easy it is to find every little vegan item you want. Taco truck?  “We got that.”  Ice cream in a cone?  “got it.”  Raw samosas?  “Yup.”  How bout a huge vegan breakfast menu, fresh juice, then pie for dessert, or maybe a slice of turtle cheesecake?  “You know it!”  Ah yes, New York is wonderful.  Especially if you are a 7 month pregnant vegan.

Another reason living so close to home is great is my friends.  I haven’t lived back here since 2004, when I swore that California would be it for me.  While there is something so special to me about Cali, it feels so nice to be around people I’ve known for over a decade of your life.

So mushiness aside, lets talk food!  It was Sunday, and I wanted breakfast (what else is new).  Thanks to my Happy Cow app, and va voom – we find Champs family bakery. Champs is everything you think it should be.  Retro diner atmosphere, and a nice variety of menu options for the naughty and healthy vegan.   We waited about 30 minutes for a table, as the place is small.  Fine by me.  After all, it was Sunday.

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Mac and Cheese Pancake

The special was mac and cheese pancakes- say what?! We ordered one for the table.  It was pretty darn good. As for the rest of brunch, we all tried to keep a variety.  I opted for the classic, tempeh bacon, ‘sausage’, tofu scramble, and a piece of french toast.  Oh yes, a side of whip cream please.  My breakfast, the French Toast Slam, wasn’t bad.   As I am a scramble snob, and I think my scramble is above all.  Erik had warned me of this… I should’ve listened.  The blueberry pancakes were to die for!  As was the whip cream (not sure if this was made in house).  The Monte crisco was, eh.  I think the french toast needed to be a bit more fried.  I just said that didn’t I?  Never ever had I imagined to recommend more frying of anything, (please never let those words leave my mouth/keyboard again!)

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The French Toast Slam

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The Drunken Cowgirl

Erik’s breakfast was the Drunken Cowgirl.  Chili, potatoes, scramble, daiya cheddar, avocado, and toast.  It was great, especially with some hot sauce.  Steve had the Awesome Bowl, a healthier option, which sounded delish.  Quinoa, scramble, greens, peppers, and potatoes.

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The dessert case

As I got up to go to the ladies, I couldn’t help but notice a lovely filled with vegan goodness dessert case!  And again, all vegan.  It was entirely too hard to make a decision.  Places like that should be fined.  I knew we had a 3 hour drive home, and I was the only one opting to not let dessert slip on by, so I went with the Turtle cheesecake.  When I got back to the table, the waitress had packed us up some ginger cream cookies as well.  Thank You Ma’am!

All in all I will definitely be back at Champs.  The Tofu Rancheros, Enchiladas, and more of the dessert case will be calling my name next month perhaps when we return.   Oh and the Turtle cheesecake… simply devine.

IMG_2203Happy 40th Steve, Happy 32nd Meg, and Happy back to school weekend everyone!

 

Summer herbal remedies

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I’ve recently become obsessed with a lovely woman named Aviva Romm.  She is a specialized herbalist, certified midwife, family physician, and what I imagine to be a wonderful mom.  Her blog has all sorts of interesting information on nutrition, natural birth, raising healthy families, and benefits foe individuals.  Oh, and some great recipes!

Since Erik and I are now official Marylanders, we’ve had to adjust to a more humid summer.  And with humidity, comes mesquitos!  They have been chomping away at me every chance they get here!  No fun. I have been trying to dose myself in tea tree oil, as well as the pups, in hopes they will leave me alone! This chart comes in handy, for anyone wanting an herbal remedy to helping strains on summertime fun!  Especially the wee ones.

Thanks Aviva!

Are you ready?!

photo (8)No I didn’t harvest all these vegetables today…  Its been so cold and rainy here, one would never know its June.  But this is a picture from one of our harvests last summer to remind you, excite you, and get you stoked for the Sheboygan summer farmers market!!

Vegpod will be in full effect this summer, starting tomorrow (Saturday June 8th) at Fountain Park, from 8-1pm.  Though we have been known to sell out early, so don’t sleep in too late!  If you haven’t seen us, or stopped by to taste any of our goodies, we will be offering our normal shebangs of Muffins, granolas, assorted hummus’, wraps, and At least one entree and side, soup, as well as one salad.  Vegpod will also be testing out the raw food market in Sheboygan this year.  Raw crackers, pizzas, burgers, cakes, and other tids and bits.

So whats on the menu for tomorrow? Rhubarb muffins, Lentil loaf with mashers and gravy, Raw Italian herb crackers, Eggless egg salad wraps, Fruit & Nut Granola, Chocolate Cherry Hemp Granola, Three Sisters Stew, and 5 varieties of Hummus.  We are having a hard time getting local produce this early in the season, but we did manage some rhubarb, and lettuce!  Most everything else is Gluten Free, organic, and of course vegan.  I did hear the weather should be sunny and beautiful, so come have lunch, and soak up some vitamin D.

Breakfast

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It has occurred to me that I don’t need to write a whole essay on just anything.  I mean, blogging is blogging right?

So back to breakfast…  Sweet?  Savory?  I’ll take both please.  Five grain pancakes, topped with granola, a dollop of homemade vegan yogurt, and some peach compote.  And for my savory, some green pea infiltrated tofu scramble, topped with Muir Glen kethup, and house grown-pickled jalapenos.  Yum.