Nutrition Ambition

Welcome to my vegan food blog! When it comes to food, my philosophy is that taking time to lovingly prepare your own meals can result in better health and greater life satisfaction. I use natural, whole ingredients to create nourishing, exciting meals which replenish mind, body and spirit. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Raisins

You HAVE TO make these cookies!! The texture is surprising light with a pleasant spice from the cinnamon and a sweet tang from the cranberry-raisin combination. If you like peanut butter cookies, try this jazzed-up version. (Makes 22-24 medium/large cookies)

* 1 1/4 cups spelt flour
* 1 cup quick oats
* 1 cup sucanat
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
* 1/4 cup soymilk or nutmilk
* pinch salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 cup dried cranberries
* 1/4 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, oats, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. In a smaller bowl, mix together the oil, peanut butter, sugar and milk. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the dried fruit.

The cookie dough should be moist, not crumbly. If too dry, add a little bit of soymilk. Form the dough into golfball size balls and place 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. Flatten each dough ball to about 1/3 inch thick.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until golden around the edges. They will become firm as they cool.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jerk Tofu, Mon!

Rutiger recently mentioned wanting jerk tofu. I, never having had anything jerk before (well, maybe all my ex-boyfriends), became intrigued and started searching for a recipe. I found a very good one at Post Punk Kitchen.

Here are the changes I made to the recipe:
* 2 cloves garlic instead of 4
* juice and zest of 1 lime instead of juice of 2 limes and zest of 1 lime
* 2 1/2 tablespoons sucanat plus 2 tablespoons water instead of maple syrup
* 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme instead of 1 tablespoon
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne instead of 1/2 teaspoon
* 1/2 jalapeno instead of 2 (use 2 if you like it really hot!)

The recipe also says to marinade for 1 hour, I marinade mine for over 24 hours. I don't think just an hour marinade is enough to get enough of the flavors into the tofu. I also baked the tofu (375 degrees) instead of pan-frying. One more thing, I spread a little of the marinade on top of each piece of tofu before baking--it created a nice little crust.

I was very pleased with the results. All the flavors really melted together into one rich, robust taste. I wish I had some papaya to serve alongside this, but instead I made my pecan wild rice (see previous post) and a simple spinach salad. I will definitely be making jerk tofu again!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"More Than Meets The Eye" Marinara Sauce

This sauce is unbelievable! I invented this when, recently, I was reading over the label of my favorite brand of maranara sauce and found sugar as an ingredient! So, to cut out that added sugar, I made sure to include naturally sweet carrots in my homemade sauce. Kale adds extra nutrients and completely blends into the sauce. You can make a double batch so you have yummy pasta sauce anytime!
* 1 (28 oz) can chunky tomato sauce
* 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
* 2 medium-size carrots, chopped small
* 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon each: dried basil and oregano
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups kale, chopped small (remove stems)
* 2 cups water

In a large sauce pan, saute the carrot, bay leaf, garlic, salt and herbs in the olive oil. Stir in the tomato paste followed by the tomato sauce, water and kale. Simmer the sauce until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, then puree the sauce in a blender until the kale is finely chopped. You can also use an immersion blender for this.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Super Sunny Granola

I have been trying to make my own granola probably ever since I got into healthy eating. Needless to say, I never really had any luck. Bland, super-dry, and "cardboard" are all words that come to mind when I think of all my homemade granola ventures. I had all but given up and pretty much accepted the high price tag of good-quality granola until yesterday, when I decided to give it another go. So here it is, The Best Homemade Granola That Ever Was (AKA Super Sunny Granola):
* 1 cup barley flakes or additional rolled oats
* 2 cups rolled oats (do not use quick oats)
* 1 cup wheat germ
* 1/2 cup oat bran
* 1 cup sunflower seeds
* pinch of salt
* 1/2 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon and dried ground ginger
* 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
* 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered soymilk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 tablespoons canola oil
* 1 cup (or less) raisins or other dried fruit (optional)

Mix together the barley flakes, oats, wheat germ, oat bran, sun seeds and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together the maple syrup, spices, powdered soymilk, vanilla and canola oil. Pour this mixture over the oat mixture and stir it up well.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and divide the granola mixture evenly between them. Spread out the granola in an even layer. Bake at 285 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Bake until the granola is dry and light golden brown. Let cool completely before tossing in the fruit and storing in an airtight container. Makes about 7 cups.

Note: Barley flakes resemble rolled oats--do not use a dry barley cereal resembling Wheaties. You can find barley flakes in the bulk section of natural foods stores.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Spicy Bean, Sweet Potato and Cornbread Bake

For lunch today, I concocted this "bake" (Rutiger hates the word "casserole") from leftover beans and cornbread muffins. We loved it! Rutiger can not only be picky in the names of foods, but also picky when it comes to our legume friends. But the spicy beans seemed to do it for him. Adjust the spicy factor to your taste.

* 1-2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform pieces
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup black beans
* 1 cup red kidney beans
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* pinch or two of hot pepper flakes
* 2 tablespoons liquid aminos
* 2 medium size corn muffins (preferably 100% whole grain), crumbled
* 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup, optional
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
Boil the potatoes in a small amount of water with the salt until tender. Meanwhile, mix the beans together with the liquid aminos and spices. Set aside. Lightly oil casserole dish or large loaf pan. When the potatoes are done, drain them and mash them up. Spread the potatoes in the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Top with the bean mixture, followed by the crumbled corn muffins. If you want, drizzle the top of the cornbread with some maple syrup. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes, until the top is brown. Enjoy!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Walnut Fig Bars

Try these delicious bars as a fun way to add excitement to packed lunches or just as a tasty, nutritious snack. I like to make a batch of these for a week of easy breakfasts or mid-morning snacks. Dried figs are a good source for iron and calcium as well as fiber.
* 1 cup rolled oats (quick oats also work)
* 1/2 cup whole grain flour (whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, spelt, barley are all good choices)
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/4 cup canola oil
* 1/3 cup sucanat
* 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
* 1 1/2 cups dried figs, covered with water and soaked at least 1 hour, until plump and re-hydrated
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, oil, and sucanat
in a food processor and pulse just until combined. The mixture should be moist and crumbly; if it is too dry, add a tablespoon or two of oil or water. Transfer half the mixture to a small mixing bowl and mix it with the chopped nuts.

Spread the other half of the oat mixture in the bottom of a 9-by-9 inch baking dish, pressing it down firmly in an even layer. Set aside. Cut the figs in half or quarters and add to the food processor. Pulse until the figs form a thick paste. Spread the fig paste onto the oat crust in an even layer. Top with the remaining oat-walnut mixture, pressing it into the figs gently but firmly. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Enjoy!