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Archive for April, 2010

Rhubarb Barbs – Recipe

This recipe is from Aprille, a smart and sassy lady I’ve known for a long time but have only met once.  Her recipe is a family classic, and she has been gracious enough to let me post my veganized version here!  You can find the original recipe (mine is very close) on her blog.

My dad loves rhubarb and I happen to have a bumper crop.  Is it still called a bumper crop if it happens year after year?  The former occupants of my house must have reeeeeally liked rhubarb, because we have six gigantic plants every year.  Anyway, my dad’s birthday is this weekend and we’re going home to visit, so I thought I’d make these to bring along.  I know my dad reads the blog, so hopefully he is too busy today to take a peek!

I feel like I must warn you –  I’ve made the original version of these bars before, though it was a couple years ago.  Making them this time, I thought surely I had done something wrong.  It didn’t seem like they were going to set up, the crust mixture seemed too wet and the rhubarb mixture seemed too runny.  I kept thinking:  Did I leave something out?  Is the moisture content of the Earth Balance too high?  I put them in the oven and hoped for the best.  Even after I took them out of the oven they looked pretty squishy to me, but sure enough after setting up over night they were ready for their closeup this morning.

Rhubarb Barbs (vegan)

Ingredients
Crust and topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup Earth Balance sticks, softened
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Filling:
1/4 cup water
2 T cornstarch
1 1/4 cup+ granulated sugar*
1/4 cup agave nectar
4 cups rhubarb, chopped into about 1/2″ pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a saucepan, whisk together cornstarch and water.  Stir in sugar and rhubarb.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and cool.  Stir in vanilla.

In a food processor, blitz together flour, soda, brown sugar, oatmeal, and ground almonds.  Add the Earth Balance and pulse together until the mixture is crumbly.

Lightly spray a 9×13″ baking dish with nonstick spray.  Press 2/3 of the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the dish.  Pour the cooled rhubarb mixture over the top of the crust and sprinkle remaining crumbs on top of the rhubarb.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until filling is bubbly and top is light golden brown.
Cool completely.

* About the sugar…Well first I want to tell you that if you don’t like the tart taste of rhubarb, you might want to add a little more sugar here.  I also want to talk a little bit about whether or not sugar is vegan.  Most of the refined white sugar sold in traditional US supermarkets is not technically vegan.  Though it doesn’t contain any animal products, charred animal bones are often used in the filtration process during manufacturing.  For use at home, I usually choose to buy this organic cane sugar, which is refined with an evaporation process that doesn’t use bone char.  For myself personally, I don’t worry too much about the added sugar when I’m eating outside my home.

Any other ideas for what to do with all this rhubarb?!

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I had some firm tofu to use up, so I made this delicious Broccoli and Black Olive Frittata last week.

The recipe is from Vegan With a Vengeance and I followed it almost exactly so I don’t feel comfortable re-posting it here on the blog.  Fortunately, if you don’t own this book, the recipe is available via GoogleBooks, here.  The recipe is on pages 14-15.  I left out the thyme because I don’t care for it and used some oregano instead.  The topping is Daiya shredded vegan cheese – this is a fairly new product and I just recently tried it.  It’s probably the closest to real cheese I’ve tried yet and it even melts!  I’ve tried the cheddar and mozzarella flavors and I enjoyed them both.

Another new (to me) thing I recently tried is Kombucha.  Kombucha is a fermented drink that contains active cultures, probiotics, and healthy “balancing” enzymes.  It is naturally fizzy from the fermentation and a lot of people think it tastes like vinegar.  As someone who loves vinegar, I didn’t expect this to bother me.  This is the kombucha I tried for my first taste:

Most people say they don’t like it at first and then the flavor grows on them. My experience was kind of the opposite: I thought it tasted pretty good at first, kind of like a fizzy yogurt soda. As I drank more, it started tasting more fermented (it can even have a small alcohol content from the fermentation process!) and I could only drink about 1/4 of the bottle at once. It took me about three days to drink the whole thing, but it didn’t lose any of its fizz and tasted the same. It’s not cheap – this bottle was $3.49 at my co-op – but I can see myself trying some of the different flavors once in a while.

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I recently chopped about 10 inches off my hair and I can no longer pull it into a ponytail.  I’m still getting used to it – I had been growing my hair out for about 4 years! but I was ready for a change and I thought summer was a great time to do it.  A lot of people don’t realize how high-maintenance long hair is, and mine was badly damaged from a hard winter and constant blow-drying and flat-ironing.  I’ve seen these BondiBands around on the blogosphere a lot lately, mostly with great reviews, so I decided to give them a try myself when I saw that they were running a 5/$25 special (coupon code: FIVE).

BondiBands come in tons of different colors and styles, you can get them with sayings, symbols, patterns/designs, or just plain colors.  I ordered 4 for myself and 1 for Andrea as part of her birthday present.  I’ve been wearing mine during workouts (running, yoga, and walking) for the past couple of weeks and I really like them.  They stay on my head just fine (headbands normally slip off the back of my head) and I like that they are wide at the top and taper to a narrow width towards the bottom.  They can also be folded over or tucked under at the top to make them narrower.  They are lined with a barely detectable non-slip material of some kind, they wick away sweat and you can just throw them in the washer with your workout clothes.  They also sell hats, kids headbands, and even kerchiefs for dogs.  Check them out!

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Let’s face it…I’m not the most consistent contributor to this blog, for a few reasons. A) Lindsay is a much more interesting person. B) Lindsay is a better writer. C) My life is pretty boring. But, I love the concept of this blog, and I love Lindsay, so I’m going to make a concerted effort to contribute more.

Lindsay is the expert when it comes to nutrition. Exercise is more my thing, I suppose. I do focus on nutrition, of course, but I focus more on exercise. I am a MAJOR advocate of Crossfit (I tend to go 3 to 4 times a week at Headhunters Combatives Crossfit and MMA), running, yoga, and strength training. I’m a BIG fan of strength training. But, I also love to run in 5Ks and 10Ks. I make it a goal to always try to beat my previous race time…unless, well, I’m running with a friend as a support system.

Such was the case with the Azalea Trail Run in Mobile, Alabama. I agreed to run the race with my friend, Katie, who was running her first 5K. I ran along with her to cheer her on and offer support! Let me just tell you, out of all of the races I’ve done, this was by FAR the most beautiful course! Just gorgeous! (Side note: I’ve visited Mobile many times before this race…and I felt like I was doing something wrong being on Government Street without traffic…that’s one of the silly things I love about races. They shut your town down! haha)

Katie did really well with her first race! She kept a good pace and we really enjoyed the race together! So, if you haven’t done a 5K, why not sign up with a friend and make it a memorable experience? I know a lot of people like the Couch to 5K program. I actually am a big fan of Danny Haralson’s Run University Program (I’m a graduate).

So, here are a few pictures from the race…Enjoy!

This elderly lady had the best butt on the planet!

This elderly lady had the best butt on the planet...I aspire to have a butt like hers!

That's right...yield to runners!

That's right...yield to ME!

With the Azalea Trail ladies prior to the run...

With some of the Azalea Trail maids...so cute!

Beautiful!

Beautiful course!

Post race! Woot!

Finishers! YAY!

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Though I’m not a big granola bar fan myself, my husband eats them almost every day.  I’ve experimented in the past with making my own and it seemed like they were always too sweet, too dry, too crumbly, or had too many ingredients I like to stay away from (like a lot of sugar an oil).  These are a nice balance – they aren’t too sweet and the applesauce keeps them on the chewy side so you don’t have to use much oil.  If you prefer a crunchy granola bar you could try baking them longer, I’m not sure whether they would be too crumbly though, so try it at your own risk!  It might look like the ingredient list for these is a bit long, but you just have to dump everything in a bowl and mix so these come together very quickly.  This recipe could be mix & match – add (or subtract) whatever you’d like (fruit, nuts, chocolate, etc.) as long as you keep the wet:dry ratio the same.

Coconut Cranberry Granola Bars (vegan)

Ingredients
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon oil (I used canola)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4c rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut
2 Tablespoons hemp seeds
2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds and/or pepitas
1/4 cup cranberries
1 Tablespoon chia seeds

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine first 8 ingredients (peanut butter through salt).  I like to warm these ingredients in the microwave for about 30 seconds so they’re easier to combine.  You could also combine them in a saucepan over low heat.  Mix well.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to coat.  Spray a 9×9″ pan with non-stick spray.  Pour the oat mixture in the pan and spread it out evenly, press the mixture down into the pan firmly with a spatula or wooden spoon (or your hands).  Bake 15-20 minutes or just until bars look slightly dry on top (you want them to still be moist on the inside).  Let cool completely before cutting.

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Some of you (or one or two of you?) may be wondering why I don’t really post about exercise on this blog…

To be honest, since I started the blog, I haven’t been exercising much!  I know it was one of my Resolution things, but I do have a legitimate excuse.  Since about the middle of January, I have been having pain in the ball of my right foot.  Right under the joint of the big toe (though it seems like it started out being in the second and possibly third toe joints as well.)  The pain was usually manageable with shoes on, and only really bothered me during and after high-impact activities like running, spinning, ellipticizing, etc. and in the evenings when I walk around barefoot on my hardwood floors at home.  I let it go for a few weeks, kind of taking it easy once in a while but then getting restless and getting back into the gym, which would just aggravate the problem more.  Finally I made an appointment with my GP, who ordered xrays (which turned out to be normal) and gave me a referral to a podiatrist.  Well I had my podiatrist appointment yesterday, and his diagnosis is capsulitis of the big toe.

What is capsulitis?  Basically it is an inflammation in the joint – it can occur anywhere in the body.  In the toe, it is also sometimes called “Turf Toe” which is what they call it when serious athletes like football players get it.  His treatment plan?  Basically I’m supposed to wear hideously ugly shoes so that I can use orthotics.  He also said I need to really keep on top of the callouses I get on the outsides of my feet (where I tend to walk).  Do you think flex benefits pays for weekly pedicures??  He prescribed a heavy duty anti-inflammatory and said that I can try ice or heat, if either of them seem to help.  He said I do not have an underlying deformity, so hopefully the inflammation will go down and the problem will subsist.

Anyway, I’m willing to compromise on the shoes – I will wear the inserts with my athletic and tennis shoes, but I’m not wearing clunky Old Lady shoes to work and stuff.  Also, I am willing to do these things until the pain stops, at which point I fully intend to try barefoot running.  What can I say – I just finished reading Born To Run by Christopher McDougall, and am currently reading What is the What by Dave Eggars.  Though the books have little in common, they both contain a lot of running.  If you are skeptical about barefoot running I highly recommend Born To Run.  Think about it – humans evolved to run and walk without shoes!  It’s very interesting stuff to me.  I’ve always known I have a problematic gait for running, like I mentioned before I tend to walk (and run) on the outsides of my feet – which has caused me to develop exostoses on the tops of both of my feet (bone spurs basically) – and I severely underpronate.  I also have a very high hip-to-waist ratio which some contend puts extra strain on the knees.  Maybe I really just wasn’t born to run.  But I also am curious whether the modifications in stride, gait, and shock absorption that barefoot running offers would help.  I don’t plan to go totally barefoot.  I’m way too paranoid about stepping on gross or pointy things to try that.  I’ll probably try some of the barefoot shoes, or Nike Frees.  Do you think people will look at me funny if I run barefoot on the treadmill at the gym?

I’m still trying to come up with some things I can do in the meantime.  Yoga is fine, and I’ve been doing that, and when it’s nice I will definitely walk my dog often.  Even if the painkillers help, I’m afraid of risking further injury (some of the material I read said that if capsulitis goes untreated, the joint capsule can rupture!)  I’ve considered swimming, but it’s inconvenient because the location of my gym that has a pool is pretty far from my house and work.  I may give it a try this weekend when I’ll have extra time – I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Kitchen Tour

I filmed this video a couple of weeks ago (you may notice a little pile of snow outside by the driveway!  Fortunately that stuff is all gone now).  I was inspired by Ryan over at Greens for Good after she posted a tour of her kitchen.  It got a little long so I split it into two parts.  Some important things to keep in mind while watching: 1) my husband is not vegan.  He eats about 50% what I eat (vegan, generally healthy) and 50% SAD (Standard American diet (aka gross).  2)  My kitchen is very small! and 3) I’m not a professional camerawoman. Actually I think this is the first video I’ve ever really filmed and I had to do it one-handed while I was pointing things out, so forgive me if it’s wobbly.

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