Our Vegan Life

Food, Family, and Fun

Summer of Salads

In our home we find that our family goes in cycles with food. During the winter we find ourselves consuming very hearty soups and chilis. In fact, every Sunday during the winter we have chili for lunch. Our kids love it. When we move towards the hotter months we seek not to eat such warm foods, but lighter and more salad like foods. This summer, we have decided that this is the summer of salads. What does this mean exactly?

 

Create your own salad bar! Dice up veggies, optional vegan "chicken" strips, and let everyone add what they want to they lettuce.

Create your own salad bar! Dice up veggies, optional vegan “chicken” strips, and let everyone add what they want to they lettuce.

 

We decided that for the months of June, July, and August we will try as much as we can to eat salads at both lunch and dinner (who knows, maybe even breakfast on occasion). We have taken all of our best vegan recipe books and looked at all of their salads and added some of our own to the mix and we have tons of amazing salads for the summer. Some of these salads will be completely raw, others will have cooked veggies or roasted nuts or beans and at times we will have bean salads or even fruit salads. We are totally excited about all of these opportunities to try different foods. We hear a lot from others that eating vegan means giving up so much, but looking at our “summer of salad” list we can’t help but think of all the amazing foods that we are adding to our meals and to our children’s taste pallets. It is only an experiment and there may come circumstances along the way that will dictate not being able to have a salad, or the kids may just really not like some of the salads we have planned, so there may be times when they may eat something different from the adults in the house, but we are trying to be as faithful to the plan as possible. So if you want, please feel free to join us for the summer of salad! We will be sharing some recipes along the way! Oh, and if you have a great salad to share with everyone, leave the type of salad in the comment section below.

 

Easy pasta salad: rainbow rotini with veggies of your choice + lemon juice, olive oil, and Spike seasoning for the "dressing"

Easy pasta salad: rainbow rotini with veggies of your choice + lemon juice, olive oil, and Spike seasoning for the “dressing”

Live long and eat salad (or maybe the other way around – hehe)!

— C&S

Eating Vegan: San Francisco Style

Two months ago I (Chad) had the great privilege of traveling to San Francisco for a continuing education event for my profession.  I was learning to become a facilitator for those who wish to use labyrinths for spiritual direction.  The event was outstanding and I learned a ton.  But, like any trip that a vegan takes, food always plays a very interesting role in the journey.  I absolutely could not wait to experience the vegan haven that would be San Francisco.  I have always heard about the West Coast having such outstanding vegan restaurants and access to such fresh and organic foods.  Before this trip, I had never traveled out West and this was my chance to check it all out.

My disclaimer about this trip is that I kind of thought that because of San Francisco’s reputation, I expected that I would likely walk into any restaurant in the city and there would be vegetarian and vegan options….that quinoa bowls and the like would be a part of the regular vernacular of the restaurant culture.  Compared to where I grew up in the Midwest, the capacity of restaurants to work with vegan food is much higher, but I was actually quite surprised not to find more vegan friendly restaurants or even vegan restaurants than I did.  Putting my disclaimer and assumptions of what I expected aside, I did discover some great places to eat and they were very tasty.  Here was my journey.

 

When I arrived in San Francisco Airport I was so thrilled about the airport because I knew I would have a few hours to wait for my ride into the city and I had found out that they had a great vegan friendly restaurant there in the airport.  I read reviews of the restaurant and was really looking forward to trying a few things.  But, when I arrived, the particular terminal that had that restaurant was not my terminal and so unless I wanted to buy a plane ticket to get in that terminal I wasn’t going to eat there.  I surely wasn’t going to pay $200+ to eat at a vegan restaurant in an airport…..so…….I was resigned to the Willow Creek Grill, where I had a veggie burger and fries.  It was sub par.

Once my ride arrived at the airport, we traveled into the city and got me settled in the hotel.  After dropping my bags off, we decided we would try this all vegan peruvian restaurant down the street from my hotel.  Interestingly enough, it was closed for the night.  So, we went around the corner to the Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe.  I had my usual Pad Thai and veggie rolls.  It was pretty good, but still not quite as good as Siam Square’s pad thai in Indianapolis.  But, it was a nice place and I had the best of company.

tuktuckpadthairolls

 

 

The next day after a long day of being in sessions, I was expecting that my group would want to all bond together and go out to eat after the session.  However, we had several people from other countries who had their husbands with them and so they weren’t interested in going out to eat.  So, my thought was that I would go back to the peruvian place and catch dinner while they were open.   When I got there, they were not open again!  I still can’t believe it.  How are they remaining open?  Anyhow, so I was not far from Pier 39, which is the famous pier overlooking Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, so I decided to go walking down on the pier.  It was so beautiful.  But, down there were mostly hot dog vendors and, of course, fish places.  Doing research for the trip, though, I knew that there was a Loving Hut Cafe in Chinatown on my way back to the hotel.  So, I walked back through Chinatown and found my restaurant.  My family and I have gone to the Loving Hut in Cincinnati (We have also done a review of this one on this blog) and we love it.  So, I was excited about trying this particular Loving Hut because this one was mostly “chinese” dishes and geared towards the culture of the neighborhood.  The atmosphere in the place was outstanding and the service excellent.  I had a teryiaki tofu dish with vegetables and rice.  I also had a kale smoothie and for dessert an absolutely stunning chocolate cheese cake.  I will say that my main entree was just ok.  It wasn’t terrible, but given the high quality of taste at the Loving Hut near us, I kind of expected it to be better.  But, regardless, I am glad I went and it was so good.  Shannon was jealous.

 

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The following day would be my final in San Francisco so I really wanted to catch a place that the city was well known for in the vegan world.  My good friends, Soni and Dea, were gracious enough to come and pick me up and we would travel over to Gracias Madre in the Mission District.  In terms of food, this was the highlight of my trip.  Such an excellent atmosphere and food.  The only way to describe my meal was that it was incredibly rich and flavorful.  I got some sort of enchilada dish and it was outstanding.  One thing I didn’t care for was that the restaurant had you sit with other people at their tables and while I think on some level this is cool, when you are trying to catch up with old friends you kind of want to have the blessing of that experience without others at your table that you don’t know.  Luckily, the only table they had available for the three of us could really only fit three, so we were able to catch up without the distraction.  Where we actually sat was directly across from the famous picture of the Gracias Madre (pic below).  It was so much fun and a great dining experience.  I think if we lived anywhere near that place I would spend way too much of my money there.  Good thing it was only just a visit!

 

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All in all, I was impressed with the food I had on my trip and glad I was able to do it.  I learned not to assume that just because it is California that this means it is always vegan friendly.  However, the places I did go that were had a fantastic array of foods to eat and they were very delicious.  I would do it again in a heartbeat and look forward to taking my family there with me next time.  If you are ever in the bay area and are looking for excellent vegan food, check out Gracias Madre for sure.  Next time I am in the area I plan to check other parts of the bay out so that I can eat at Cafe Gratitude and a few others that I didn’t get to this time.  Until next time San Francisco, thanks for the good memories and the good eats.

 

 

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing

Kale and  Quinoa Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing 

  • 1 bunch dinosaur/lacinato kale, chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • lime juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup chickpeas (precooked, drained, and rinsed)
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
  • cilantro, chopped (as much as you like – I like to use almost an entire bunch)
  • optional: chopped bell peppers (yellow or orange, for added color), sea salt

In a large bowl, massage kale with avocado and lime juice. Add all other ingredients. Toss well together, and enjoy.

1 big bowl of delicious salad!

1 big bowl of delicious salad!

This recipe typically provides 4 servings, and is packed full of plant-based calcium (kale + quinoa)!

Love is for All

Vegan or not, anyone with a pet understands that they are a part of your family. We adopted our precious beagle/foxhound rescue dog, Abby, on April 9, 2001 (almost 2 years after we were married). She was our first child, and she was present when we brought both our daughter and our son home after their births. In October we found out that Abby had a large, malignant tumor in her spleen. She went through surgery to remove the tumor and her spleen, but it soon became evident that the cancer had spread to her blood, and there was nothing more to do for her but keep her comfortable and shower her with love. On December 27th, Abby left this world, surrounded by the love of her family. Although she is not present in our home, she will always be present in our memories and in our hearts.

Our last day with Abby

Our last day with Abby

On April 9, 2001, we gave Abby a gift…a forever home where she would be safe and loved. And so in the midst of our grief, we decided the best gift we could give to honor her memory would be to provide a safe and loving home for another rescue dog in need.

On December 28th, we went to Kyle’s New Hope Animal Rescue and met “Pepper Ann.” It was love at first sight. She immediately clicked with every member of our family, and she filled just enough of that gaping hole in our hearts. We brought her home, and named her Zoe, which means “life.” (Standard protocol for this animal rescue provides the potential adoptees at least a 7 day trial period to determine whether or not the pet and family are a good fit for one another. We took 6 days, even though we really only needed 1.) On January 3rd, we officially adopted her, giving her a forever home where she will always be safe and loved.

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When Abby died in our arms, we prayed over her the Metta Mantra of loving-kindness: “May you be strong and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May you be filled with loving-kindness and be happy.” We adopted Zoe because we want the same for her. And we are vegan because we want the same for all living beings.

Happiness, health, and peace are not only for our pets. All animals want the same and all animals deserve the same. Why would I treat my pets like family while allowing cows or pigs or chickens or turkeys (or any other animal) to be slaughtered in the name of “food”? The Metta Mantra is actually broader than “you” or “me.” The entirety of the mantra actually includes “all” : “May all be strong and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May all be filled with loving-kindness and be happy.” And so my prayer is that all living beings, whether human or animal, pets or livestock, will be treated as family.

Raising Vegan Children: 5 Tips for Raising Little Plant Eaters

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Our family began the journey into a plant based diet when our daughter was 6 months old and we were thinking about going vegan and were faced with whether or not to introduce dairy products to her.  Given our dairy allergy history and some of the research we were doing at the time around a vegan diet, we decided to take the step and we have been on this journey ever since.  Of course, it is one thing for me and my wife to follow such a diet, but it is an entirely other thing to raise kids on such a diet in a world that seems so counter to the idea.  To be sure, we had no intentions of making our kid the odd person out or for her to be ridiculed by her peers.  We were making the best decisions for our health, the environment, and keeping it all connected to our strong belief in the power of non violence as a philosophy.  I would say that over all, our journey over the last 8 years has been largely positive and enriching, but certainly not without our fair share of challenges.  We are not perfect parents.  We do not have all the answers and certainly do not see ourselves as better than other parents or people on other diets.  But, I can say that we have learned some things in the process.  I can say that we have worked hard in being prepared, honest, vulnerable, and as faithful as we can.  In this light, here are 5 tips for those parents out there who are thinking of raising your children on a plant based diet, or simply just want to get more fruits and veggies into their meals.

1)  Offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables…..yes, they will eat them.  I have heard many people argue that when it comes to feeding children that they will only gravitate to the sweets and will not eat any vegetables or fruits.  In my experience, this is just not true.  Sure, who doesn’t like a sweet or two, but given how addictive white refined and processed sugars are, such foods are hardly the bastion of healthy eating.  Our kids may not like every vegetable we put on their plate….Lord knows, my kids do not (Isa loves collards and kale, but will not touch green bell peppers).  But, I believe that the more fresh veggies and fruits you offer the greater the possibility that one of these will stick with your children.

2)  Recognize that every child is different….and that this is a good thing.  We have two children and it is incredibly clear that when it comes to their eating habits that they are vastly different children.  While we cannot make 4 different meals for 4 different people in our homes, we also have found that when we offer something that does well for both of our children that this opens up doors for creativity in our food habits.  We made eggless egg salad recently and our son loved it and our daughter wouldn’t touch it.  We just have come to the conclusion that there will be meals like this where one likes it and the other does not and so we adapt.  My son could eat tacos or chili for every meal, but when we eat some other soups, stews, or something with black eyed peas, then we know that our daughter is more likely to eat these than our son.  We try to find ways to let the tastes of our children dictate our meal planning and this is a good thing because it makes things very versatile and our eating habits fresh.

3)  Be Flexible!  Not only will there be times when your child does not like the food you have prepared, but there will come times everything you have planned in terms of diet will change.  Recently my wife and I have dabbled with a variety of meal plans from John McDougall and Happy Herbivore and we discovered very quickly that we have to be flexible in order for it to work.  In the Happy Herbivore plan, we had 5–7 meals in the course of a week that were wraps of some sort.  The kids (and the adults) got kind of tired of wraps by the end of the week.  So, near the end of the week we took out a meal or two and added some of our own.  Don’t worry, your kids will let you know when something isn’t working for them and if you can adjust and compromise, this will make things easier.  The more stringent and strict you are with sticking to certain foods the more likely your children will rebel or complain.  Compromise in small ways and with snacks and allow this flexibility to make room for your kids to have their own voice in the family meal planning.

4)  Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!  We have found that the more we communicate with our children about our food habits the more likely they are to go along for the ride.  When we think there will be something we are eating that might seem strange, we talk about it ahead of time with them.  When our children will be going to a birthday party that will have non vegan food, we speak both with our children to let them know what their choices will be when they get there and we also speak with the parents of those throwing the party.  If we are invited to a home for a meal, we always like to communicate our needs as a family and also offer to provide food as a part of our visit.  It takes some of the stress off them.  Additionally, when it comes to school lunches and such, we communicate with our children about what is in their lunch box or if they are eating at school we communicate with them about what their options are.  When we have neglected to talk with our children about what we are eating or what they can expect when we go out to eat or at school, then it all too often ends in disastrous results.  Communicate often and communicate well and this will make the process easier.

5)  Most of all….treat your children as individuals.  We have found that the more we can include our children in the process of our food choices and the more we can treat them as individuals with their own desires and taste buds the better off our relationship to each other and food will be.  In the very early years it was quite easy to pretty much dictate what we will eat and what our diet will look like because they were hardly able to communicate or express their likes and dislikes.  But, now that our kids are older (3 and 7) and can fully express themselves in terms of their needs and desires for food, we have come to see them as equal participants in this process.  In fact, we try to include our kids as much as possible in cooking our food or in meal planning (Taking the kids to the grocery store, however, is another conversation altogether).  Treat your children as though their beliefs, feelings, and taste buds matter and are valuable, then this can go a long way in keeping them connected to a plant based diet.

….I am sure that there are at least 10 more of these tips, but these are some of the essentials that we have come to see over the past 7 years in our own vegan family life.

This article is a slightly edited version of its original posting on the One Whole Step blog. 

But, we’ve never had this before: Our new adventure with meal plans and new recipes

We in the Abbott household have recently been tinkering with our meals during the week.  Over the last several years we have more or less just said “Hey, let’s have pizza this week or spaghetti and tacos” and some weeks we would go to the store with a good list of what we want to eat and other weeks we would go to the store with only a minimal plan and just decide what to get as we would go aisle to aisle.  What we found is that we would spend more money when doing this because we would buy food we did not have plans for.  So, we have decided to meal plan from week to week and plan ahead so that when we go to the store we get only what we need for our meal plan.  It has worked very well.  But, we find ourselves in a rut because we have just been eating the same things week after week after week.  We also have significantly reduced our eating out per month, so if we are going to eat at home a lot more and we are tired of the same ole recipes, how can we expand our vegan horizons?

Shannon came across a meal plan from Happy Herbivore that can be purchased for either weekly or monthly.  We decided that we would take a week and follow their plan (We intend to do a full review of the plan on the blog once we have completed our second full week).  For only $5 we received 7 days worth of vegan recipes and we were even provided with the grocery list so we could get only exactly what we needed for the next 7 days.  Not only did this make things incredibly easy for us, but we saved money this way too.  We decided to purchase 2 weeks worth of meals from Happy Herbivore, but we also decided to follow the 7 Day McDougall plan in the book The Starch Solution by John and Mary McDougall.  Chad had been reading this excellent book and at the end there is a 7 day meal plan.  We are still in the midst of this tinkering process in terms of our meal plans and trying to be more versatile in our approach to making vegan meals for our family, but we love the new recipes.

What we have discovered in the course of this time of experimentation is two things: 1) Our kids love to say “But, we don’t like it!” and our response is “But, you haven’t even tried it yet.” Their response is, “But, we’ve never had this before.”  Yes, kids, and adults for that matter, we are all often a little hesitant with anything new, especially when it comes to our diet.  Chad in particular had never really given pancakes or french toast a try as a cook and so he was able to cook these this week.  We even caught him saying, “But, I’ve never cooked these before.”  2)  Overall, the foods we have tried have been very rich and delicious.  So, while trying new things we have never had before is a bit risky, especially with children, it has been paying off and all of us have thoroughly been enjoying the meals.

Keep an eye open for our reviews of the Happy Herbivore and McDougall meal plans in the next several weeks…We’ll even be sharing some of our favorite recipes from the meal plans. In the meantime, go and try a new recipe and enjoy the process! We’ve shared one below to get you started!

enchiladas

Bean and Corn Enchiladas (from The Starch Solution)

  • 5  c Enchilada Sauce
  • 4 c cooked pinto beans (smashed or whole – we left ours whole)
  • 1 c chopped scallions
  • 1 1/2 c fresh or frozen and thawed corn kernels
  • 1 can (2.25 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained (optional – we omitted these, because our children don’t like olives)
  • 1-2 Tbsp chopped green chiles
  • 10 whole wheat tortillas or about 16 corn tortillas
  • Salsa and Tofu Sour Cream (or Tofutti Sour Cream), for serving

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread 1 1/2 c of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ or 3-qt baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the beans, scallions, corn, olives, and green chiles. Lay a tortilla on a flat surface and spread a thick line of the bean mixture down the center. Roll up the tortilla and place it seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, snuggling them close together in the pan. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the rolled tortillas.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil, crimping the edges over the rim of the dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving hot.

Serve with salsa and tofu sour cream.

Enjoy!

A “Whole” New Adventure

It has been a while since posting on this blog, but some exciting things have been at work with me (Chad) that includes my plant based diet.  As many of you know, I am a runner and this spring I had grand plans to run my first full marathon next month in September and then another one in November.  I even paid for the bib for my race in September.  I was training back in June and running a long run of 13 miles when I was injured with a pull in my back.  It sidelined me for 2 months and now I am back up and running short mileage again.  It is good to be back out there and while I am disappointed to not be able to run my marathons this racing season, I began a new adventure that I believe to be very exciting.

While injured I began talking to a friend of mine who is also a runner and she, too, was overcoming an injury.  We emailed and would call occasionally just to support and check in with progress.  In the course of our conversations we discovered a mutual desire to start a website/blog and quasi-business that would include writing posts, coaching, inspiring, and doing a podcast around issues of health, nutrition, running, and overall wellness.  We could agree on the scope of the project, but had a hard time eventually coming up with a name, but we decided upon “One Whole Step.”  The concept really is that we seek to live a “Whole” life, one that is healthy and true to ourselves.  But, we recognize that this idea of becoming “whole” is a process, one that involves putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.  On August 1st we launched our official work at One Whole Step by blogging 5 times a week with topics ranging from plant based nutrition, juicing, running, spirituality, and more.  We also have designed something we are calling “Whole Videos,” which are 3-5 minute testimonials of how everyday people are taking steps towards health and wholeness.  We have also put up our first One Whole Step podcast episode and aim to do one episode every month.  All in all, this particular website has really gathered some attention and traction, which we find to be very exciting.

One of the reasons I wanted to share this exciting news on this blog is to assure our readers that we will continue to write exciting and interesting posts for this blog about our vegan life and I would imagine that there may even be some good overlap of the two.  Obviously there is a natural connection between our family’s vegan journey and the many topics on nutrition that will come up on the One Whole Step site.  You may see some of our recipes on both sites and some of our posts on a plant based diet may cross over to here as well.  It is exciting to be on this “Whole” new adventure of working to provide a safe space for people to encounter health and wholeness in their lives and we wanted to make you aware.  Stay posted for more of our vegan journey here at Our Vegan Life, but also connect with me and my friend, Danielle, over at One Whole Step.  Our website is www.onewholestep.com.  You can like us on Facebook and also follow us on Twitter @OneWholeStep.  You can also go to ITunes to become a subscriber to our podcast under the title of One Whole Step.  Thank you for your support and be whole, dear friends.

Raw Pizza and Ice Cream: Yes, you CAN have it all.

I recently made the most delicious pizza that I may have ever made in my life…..and it was totally raw. Yes, you heard me right. Raw pizza is delicious and it can be easy.

Raw Pizza (Step By Step)

(1) First of all, let me say that I cheated a little by purchasing the bread/crust from The Loving Hut Cafe in Cincinnati. They carry Love Force breads and energy bars, so we bought some Sun-Flax Focaccia bread that was perfect for pizza.

(2) For the sauce, I used some left-over raw marinara sauce I had made the day before for some pasta.

Raw Marinara Sauce:

  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 2 big handfuls of grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup sundried tomatoes, softened
  • 2 dates (gives it just a little sweetness)
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 small shallots
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (optional)
  • salt/pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in food processor and pulse until pureed.

(3) Then I marinated the veggies (I used spinach, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, onion, and mushroom) in 1 part olive oil and 1 part tamari. For this, I used 1 cap-full of each, along with 2 garlic cloves.

This was the end result. (Yeah, I took a bite before I took a picture, because…well…it was just that good.)

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I have also recently discovered a super amazing and super easy raw ice cream recipe that I simply MUST share with you.

Raw Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

  • 3 frozen bananas, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp cacao nibs (optional, but good if you want a little crunch/chocolate chip-like texture)
  • 1-2 tsp raw agave nectar (optional)
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk (I like to use coconut milk)

The end result is a creamy, dreamy, soft-serve, frosty-like chocolate ice cream, but without all the nasty refined sugar.

raw chocolate ice cream

So pop in your favorite family movie and forget about chow down on some raw-vegan pizza and ice cream!

Lunch on the light side: Eggplant Noodle Salad and Raw-Vegan Eggless “Egg” Salad

Looking for a quick, easy, and delicious lunch to take with you to work or school next week? Well, look no further. I have two yummy options right here.

Layered Eggplant Noodle Salad

  • 1 slice eggplant, lightly sautéed or grilled
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp roasted red pepper hummus
  • 1 cup zucchini and yellow squash noodles
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • 1/4 cucumber, diced
  • cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • sprouts (whatever kind suits you)

Mix noodles, diced vegetables, and cilantro together in a small bowl. Begin layering with a slice of eggplant with roasted red pepper spread on top. Then add noodle salad on top of that. Finally, top with sprouts.

It’s light. It’s delicious. It’s satisfying.

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Raw-Vegan Eggless “Egg” Salad (from Melomeals)

  • 3 c cauliflower, pulsed in food processor
  • ½ c sunflower seeds soaked for 4 hours, drained then pulsed in food processor
  • 1 c diced celery
  • 1 c shredded carrots
  • ½ c scallions
  • ½ c nutritional yeast
  • 2 t dried sage
  • 1 T dried dill
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • ½ t garlic powder
  • ¼ t turmeric
  • 4 T tahini
  • 4 T yellow mustard
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 4 T relish
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ c water

Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor and set it aside in large mixing bowl. Pulse the sunflower seeds, and add it to the cauliflower. Add the celery, carrots and scallions,  nutritional yeast and spices.
Then, in a separate small bowl combine the tahini, mustard, relish, chia seeds, salt and pepper along with ½ c water. Mix well and pour over the veggies. Allow the salad to chill for an hour before serving.

Serve on lettuce, in a pita, or with raw bread/crackers.

I served ours on lettuce, with a side of triangular-cut sunflower seed-flax raw bread (from Love Force).

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And because I love sprouts so much (but the kids don’t so much), I also added sprouts to mine.

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Chocolate Molten Crumble (Raw-Vegan)

Chad and I celebrated our wedding anniversary on May 22nd….Well, we didn’t actually get to celebrate it that evening, because we both teach classes on Wednesday evenings, so last night (thanks to some awesome friends who babysat for us) we finally got to celebrate our anniversary. First, we went out for dinner at Loving Hut Cafe in Cincinnati. Then we went to Jungle Jim’s to buy some cacao nibs, cacao powder, maca powder, dates, and a few other foodie items. (This has become our date night ritual.) We were looking for a special vegan or raw baked good to eat with a glass of port once the kids were in bed, but no such luck, so I pulled out my newly acquired raw cuisine baking skills and got to work once we got home…..and this is what I came up with.

Molten Chocolate CrumbleImage

It was super easy and delicious! (Plus, I got to use my brand new Ninja food processor/blender – like the Vitamix, but cheaper!) The recipe I found actually called it a molten cupcake, and required a dehydrator. Since I don’t have a dehydrator, I baked it in my oven for 25 minutes on the lowest temperature (170F). It also totally fell apart in my attempt to remove it from the muffin pan, which is why I’m calling it a crumble. So if you want to avoid the cooking process and make this totally raw, then just let it be a crumble, because honestly it tastes delicious either way.

Molten Chocolate Crumble

For the crumble:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 6 dates
  • 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • almond milk (as needed)

Put almonds in food process and process until coarsely chopped. Then add dates and cacao powder and process until blended. Add 1 Tbsp of almond milk at a time if needed to help contents stick together.

For molten chocolate:

  • 3 Tbsp raw agave
  • 2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil

Combine all contents in a bowl, and mix with a fork until combined.

To put it together:

* For cupcakes, press 1/2 of crumble mixture on bottom and sides of 2 muffin tins (makes 2 cupcakes). Fill with molten mixture. Cover with remainder of crumble mixture and seal edges with fingers. Bake in dehydrator for 30 minutes OR bake on lowest temperature of oven for 20-25 minutes.

* For crumble, warm container that molten mixture is in under warm water to heat molten mixture a bit. Combine crumble mixture with 1/2 molten mixture. Place on a plate and drizzle remainder of molten mixture on the crumble.

Serve with a side of strawberries and perhaps an almond or cashew cream.

This was so incredibly rich that honestly I think we could have shared one. 

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