Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Raw Vegan "Cheese"cake

I posted a picture of this yummy dessert a long time ago, but never provided the recipe.  Now, here it is!

2 cups raw walnuts (you can use macadamia nuts if you prefer)
1/2 cup dates, pitted
1/2 tsp raw cacao powder (optional)

Process the nuts, dates, & cacao in food processor.  Press into bottom of a 8x8 dish or 8inch pie pan.  (You may want to line it with foil or parchment paper to keep it from sticking.)  Set aside.

3 cups chopped cashews, soaked for an hour or longer
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup honey or raw agave
3/4 cup coconut oil (slightly warmed)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup water

Blend soaked (and drained) cashews, lemon, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt and water.  B;end until smooth.  Taste to see if you'd like to add more honey or salt.  Pour into crust and freeze until firm.

Tip: Try adding blended strawberries to the mix before freezing. Super tasty!
Top with whatever sort of fruit or drizzle you like.  Try this quick and easy (no-cook) Vegan chocolate syrup recipe.  Or, if you have the time, whip together this tasty chocolate drizzle. (Neither of these sauce recipes are Raw Vegan, btw.)

Vegan rambling

On the subject of Cheese:

Hubby really loves cheese. I mean, really.loves.cheese.  So, it's really shocking to me that he decided he no longer wanted to consume dairy products. Ever.  This is the guy that likes his food smothered with cheese.  You know, the sort of guy that puts so much cheese on his pizza that you ask, "Hey, would you like some pizza with that?"

I'm not a big cheese fan.  I had major dairy issues as a kid (stomach problems, plus my throat would begin to close up and my sinuses would go nuts), so I never drank milk and rarely had cheese.  As I've aged, I've been able to handle dairy in moderation, but it tends to be one of those things I could take or leave- and usually leave.  The only exception is icecream and mexican queso.  Queso definitely tops icecream, so I'm hoping I can find an adequate vegan substitute for it.  I like Rice Dream icecream, and I hear Tofutti has a great brand of icecream sandwiches, and I don't really eat icecream a lot anyway... so not a big sacrifice there.

We've done our research on dairy products, and while I had long ago formed the opinion that it would be best for us to limit it, I knew how important it was to Brandon, so I never pressed him on the subject (actually, I never even approached it).  That's why it was so amazing that Brandon decided on his own that he'd like to give it up.  He said something to the effect that he wanted to be completely healthy.

Hopefully, overtime, his craving for it will subside and he'll find dishes more enjoyable without it.  I think he'll find Nutritional Yeast a good Parm substitute.  While doing the raw vegan thing a couple years ago, I came to enjoy homemade vegan "sourcream" (with soaked cashews) which will satisfy my sourcream craving when it comes to pastas, seven layer dips, and such.

I'm still stunned that he is giving up cheese. But hey, life (and people) has been stunning me a lot lately, so I guess I shouldn't be so shocked afterall.

Btw- My friend over at MeloMeals (Vegan for $3.33 a day) shared her queso recipe with me, so I'm passing it along to you!

You will love this queso:

* 1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
* 1/4 Cup Flour
* 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
* 1 teaspoon Salt
* 1 teaspoon Cumin
* 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
* 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
* 1 Cup Water
* 2 Tablespoons Margarine
* 1 ½ c salsa
* 2 teaspoons Yellow Mustard


1. Combine all dry ingredients in a pan
2. Add water to pan, turn on medium heat
3. Stir constantly and once thickened, remove from heat.
4. Add in margarine, salsa and mustard. Stir until margarine is melted.
5. Once margarine has melted, put the pan back on the heat and stir until thickened

(Mmm, can't wait to try it!)

On the subject of Juice Fasting while Nursing:

I haven't had one hot flash since I started  the juice fast.  (We're finished with that now, although we are still having at least one fruit smoothie a day.) I had been having hot flashes for months- horrible, horrible, sweaty hot flashes- which doesn't mix well with this Texas heat. Not only have I been hot-flash-free, but I've also been kind of... chilly... in our house.  We actually turned the A/C up the other day when we were hanging out because both Brandon and I were chilly.  I'm sure that's mainly because our body isn't busy processing heavy foods and meats. I actually like being a bit cold. Definitely beats being hot.  Being outside has been bearable now that I'm not overheating all the time so maybe I'll take the kiddos to the park for a bit.

Evangeline seems to be doing much better too.  She's become more "regular" (if you get what I mean- and boy, was that first big poo a big nasty cloth diaper mess to clean up!), whereas she sometimes was pooing every other day, sometimes two days with no poo. I'm sure some of the stuff I was eating was bothering her stomach.

Nursing is actually going very well.  There are a lot of misconceptions about juice or smoothie fasting.  (Btw, when I say smoothie, there is no milk involved. I know some people equate smoothies with creamy icecream.)  First of all, I am still getting all my calories, but only from juiced or blended fruits and vegetables.  I'm still getting plenty of nutrition.  And, I'm trying to drink plenty of water, which can be hard to do when you're drinking all your meals, I know.  So, my milk supply really hasn't been effected (either by increase or decrease, honestly.)  I sometimes take some Alfalfa (in the form of a pill), and putting alfalfa sprouts in your smoothies would help too.

It occurred to me today that, maybe, one of the reasons Evie wasn't feeling so well the last week was because she too was having caffeine withdraws. Caffeine does transfer through breastmilk, and since I had developed a slight habit there (and I didn't feel so great coming off of it either), I'm sure it affected her as well. It's not like I was one of those people who drinks 6 cups a day.  I would normally drink a large mug of coffee in the morning and a small cup of coffee in the evening.  Still, I forget how sensitive babies can be to such things.

Some of you commented that you'd like to do a juice fast, but you're worried about your milk supply. I really can't make you any promises, but there are a bunch of tips you can follow to make sure your supply flourishes through it.  Adding in an avocado to your smoothies will not only make them creamy, but add some of that healthy fat your body needs to enrich your milk.  You can get PLENTY of calories from juice fasting (easily!). People like to think calories are all the same, but really a 600 calories from a couple donuts are not the same as 300 calories from blended fruit and vegetables. (Oh why did I have to use donuts as an example. Now I'm craving Shipley's Donuts!)

Breastfeeding research tells us that short-term fasting (not eating) will not decrease milk supply, but that severe dehydration can decrease milk supply. Fasting does affect the biochemical/nutrient content of breastmilk to a certain extent.    -KellyMom.com

It is so, so, so important to drink lots and lots of water, even if you aren't nursing, but especially if you are!  It is possible to become dehydrated while doing a juice or smoothie fast.  And, drinking lots of water helps the toxins to move through your body quicker (which will also allow your baby to process them quicker). 

I actually think it's a little silly that people are so against short term fasting while nursing- believing that the baby won't be able to handle the toxins.  I mean, if you're on heavy medications or have certain health issues like diabetes, then you might want to seek medical help (someone who is into homeopathic, natural methods) or avoid fasting until you've finished nursing, so of course there are exceptions! I believe, it may be that you baby also needs to detox and will be able to detox a bit as well as you change your diet and cleanse your system.  Also, drinking more water helps it move through your system quicker so less of it reaches the baby.  That's another reason why water is so important.  If you've been eating like crap while nursing then you can bet your baby has some of that same toxic funk in her body as well.

This is not the first time I've fasted (although it has been a while), I pretty much made this drastic change. I went from eating whatever to eating practically nothing, which was very tough on my stomach. I'm not saying it was unhealthy, but it was definitely the hard way to go.  I'm glad I gently moved into this fast- first by limiting my food intake (I cut out snacks), working in smoothies, slowly cutting out meats, eating more fresh foods and salads, etc.  I did that for a couple weeks before starting the three day fast.  Of course, the first week was unintentional. I was K.O.ed by the sickies. I pretty much lost my appetite and felt like sleeping all the time, but after several days of that, I realized I needed to get my body in gear and used that time to prepare for a fast.  I know it made it much easier for me mentally and physically to move into a three day juice fast as my stomach had already begun to shrink, and I was already becoming used to not stuffing myself full.

My milk really hasn't been effected at all.  As I mentioned, I take an Alfalfa pill now and then, which definitely helps. Take one daily if you are worried about it.

(But hey, let's remember, I'm not a doctor, so if you fast, and your milk goes kaput, please don't gripe at me.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Vegan Fajitas

Here's a recipe to test out since eggplants are in season. (You could use zucchini or yellow squash instead.) I really haven't perfected this recipe.. and I'm definitely going to work on the eggplant "marinade" a bit more.

Sliced onions
Sliced bellpeppers
Minced garlic
Fajita seasoning or taco seasoning.
1/2 a lemon

1 small eggplant, peeled and sliced into strips that resemble fries.
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP garlic juice (Or simply use a few good sprinkles of garlic powder)
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP Kitchen Bouquet
Several good shakes of onion powder

Heat frying pan to medium high heat. Coat pan with a little olive oil spray and toss in onions and bellpepper and salt.

While that's sauteing, mix lemon juice, garlic juice, soy sauce, Kitchen Bouquet and onion powder in a casserole dish (something with a flat bottom, I used a Pyrex pie dish).  Roll eggplant strips in mixture.When onions and bellpepper look halfway done (beginning to soften), add eggplant strips to the pan.  Sprinkle with fajita or taco seasoning.  Squeeze in lemon (and just toss the lemon in there when you are done). Eggplant is done when it has reached the texture and softness you desire.

I actually put the onions, bellpeppers, and eggplant in all at once because 1, I forgot and 2, I was in a hurry because Hubby had to eat and run, and the onions were not as caramelized as I like and the bellpeppers still had too much crunch. It wasn't bad- in fact, it was quite good- but it wasn't perfection. If you like your onions and bellpeppers with a bit of crunch, throw them all in together.

(Doesn't the eggplant look like chicken?  The marinade gives it that effect.)

Vegan fajitas are great wrapped in corn tortillas.  Simply spray a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and quickly eat corn tortillas on each side (it only takes a few seconds). You can also spray the tortilla on each side.. and I think that actually works a bit better.  I really like them fried, but boy... is that greasy.

Hubby made a fresh pico de gallo (tomatoes, onions, minced garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno) and a tasty guacamole.  We topped it with a bit of soy cheese. We like to mix raw veggies with cooked yummies. I find eating a lot of raw veggies (like a big salad) with a meal really helps it all digest easier.

Hubby and I have always enjoyed these fajitas. Merika had seconds, Nolyn finished off his whole taco, and Keagan opted for just guac and pico on his tortilla. Picky fella.

Have you ever tried veggie fajitas?  Did you like them?

My girls & Getting Older

I look at my girls, and I'm amazed. First of all, it seems like it was only yesterday that Merikalyn was as small and bald as Evangeline.  It seems the last eight years have flown by.  With my birthday (and my husband's 30th!) coming up in a couple weeks, I am beginning to realize that I'm no longer a kid.  For so long, even though I had two or more kids of my own, people so often looked at me and treated me like I was twelve.. and now I am actually being treated as an adult. It's weird.  Maybe it's because I have four children. Maybe it's because I've been married for nearly nine years, or maybe it's because I'm actually maturing.  I don't know... but I'm actually feeling older... and it's not so bad.

Aren't my girls sweet? *Sigh*

So, how do you feel about growing older?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vegan Deliciousness- no kidding!

I set out to make a good meatless patty my kids would love. I confess, I used canned beans, but next time, I am definitely going to crockpot my own.  Relying on what was already in my pantry, I smashed about 2 cups Navy beans, beat about two cups croutons into crumbs, and mixed it together with a bit of Tony's Cajun Seasoning and Garlic powder. Since my croutons were ranch flavored, I went light on the seasoning, and they were perfectly flavored.  (In fact, for those of you who don't like things intensely flavored, you could just used seasoned croutons and leave it at that.) As an after thought, I chopped up fresh cilantro and mixed that in as well. Yum.

I formed them into patties and threw them into the skillet.Well, not exactly threw... more like gently placed.

Even though I'm on a juice fast, I had to take a bite of this taco before serving it up to the kids. (Sadly, I didn't have any lettuce.) Oh man, it was delicious. Hubby tried it and agreed.  I know Vegans and Vegetarians say this all the time, but, really.... these things are really a hit, whether you're vegetarian or not.

All of our critics gave it two thumbs up!  Merika, Nolyn, and Keagan not only had seconds, but thirds!  Even baby Evie-Rose enjoyed it!  I'm actually shocked Keagan liked it so much as he is my pickiest eater!

The taco reminded me of my Granny's tacos, even though hers are made with ground beef and these are definitely not.  I know this is a recipe I can use in all sorts of dishes- from burgers to lasagna! Can't wait to test it out!

What we've been eating lately:

Those of you who have been around here long enough may remember that a couple years ago, I was a High-Raw Vegan.  Most of my diet depended upon fresh fruits and vegetables, and I drank a lot of fruit smoothies.  Well, I eventually drifted away from my healthful vegan diet (as evidenced by the delicious fried chicken recipe I posted a while back), especially after I had my fourth miscarriage (which was due to a certain medication, not the vegan diet). I know my healthy eating helped my body recover and helped with my secondary infertility issues, but after that miscarriage, I began turning to my old favorite comfort foods.

Since then, we've had our healthy moments, and I'm sure, compared to the average American on the S.A.D. diet, we definitely seemed healthy, but both my husband and I were dragging. A couple weeks ago, my system nearly crashed.  I got sick, and a little funk which would normally only knock a person down for a day had me out for a couple weeks.  Plus, for several months, I had been experiencing hot flashes!  I am way too young to be having hot flashes, my friends! I woke up feeling groggy and gross, and I went to bed feeling groggy and gross. I just wanted to sleep all.day.long.  (Which, btw, you can't do when you have four children!)

Hubby and I decided to juice for three days (and, if we need something to "chew on", we can have watermelon or cantaloupe for supper). Brandon switched to a mostly vegetarian diet (allowing himself to eat shellfish) a bit before we officially started juicing.  I was recovering from being K.O.ed by the sickies, so I stuck to simple meals myself... which definitely made it easy to go on a juice fast.

Here's some of the delicious fruit smoothies we have lately:

When some of my friends found out about what we were doing, they asked what they kids would be eating. Were they going to be juice fasting too? The kids are enjoying fruit smoothies as well, but have been switched back to vegetarian diet.

Here's some of the plates they've enjoyed recently:

Their breakfast one morning.  Food for Life's cinnamon bread with butter, broiled just long enough to really hydrate the bread. Side of fruit.

Homemade bread with PB & sliced strawberries & banana, fruit salad (two kinds of apples & strawberries) and Pirate's Booty (the boys' favorite snack).

 Their breakfast this morning.  They love those plantain chips (which, hey.. I misspelled in the photo!). They are very simple... no sugar. (Why is it so hard to find plantain chips without sugar?) 

This is what they enjoyed last night at my parents' house.  Thankfully my parents are healthy eaters so it's always easy to find good stuff to snack on there!  They came home and enjoyed lots of watermelon and cantaloupe we purchased at the farmer's market.

Evie's favorite foods lately have been peas (and lots of them), apples (finely chopped), and kiwi (which she tried this morning and loved!).

We mostly use sprouted bread (I believe grain is not that nutritious unless sprouted), and the kids' favorite is Food For Life's Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin Bread.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Make-Over with Paint, and more

You know what's been driving me crazy about our house for some time now?  That distinct line of filth on the walls.  It's about 3 1/2 feet tall and resembles millions of handprints.

I'm not a big fan of white walls, and the paint on our walls was likely just primer or some sort of flat paint that holds every scuff and greasy finger print. It's amazing how a fresh coat of eggshell paint makes everything instantly look.... cleaner.

Hubby and I had also been planning on making this massive framed chalkboard. He had even cut the pieces a couple months ago, but they had yet to be painted.  (He picked up the trim off a job. They were ripping down this thick, beautiful trim and replacing it, so he loaded as much as he could in his truck!) After painting the livingroom, he primed everything, and then we painted on a couple coats of chalkboard paint.  I have yet to hang back up all the frames and such. I don't think I want to put them back the way I had them!

We nailed it directly to the wall.  Feels empowering to handle a nail gun, gals! ;)

Now... what to write on it first.......

Here's another project in progress.  My husband made this monster of an armoire over seven years ago to create some extra storage in the baby's room. Back then we only had one child, so this thing has lasted us through four children and all sorts of functions (homeschool storage, television cabinet, etc).  Now it's back to serving it's original purpose. Hubby has added shelves (and still has to add another), and I picked up these little red bins (Wal-mart, about $3) to hold Evangeline's clothes, bibs, and more.  I intend on painting the inside of it at some point, and spray painting numbers on the tubs, but it works for now.

Check out more tips and ideas at this fun blog:

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Handmade Pretties

Look what Merika and I have been making lately! (And yes, we've named our jewelry sets! We do sell some of our creations, so if you're interested, let me know! I accept PayPal!)

Which is my favorite so far?

Here's a few things Merika has made for herself: