Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Clif, Lara and Luna bar recall

Sigh. Wouldn't it be great if being vegan kept us completely safe from scary food poisoning? At least we don't have to worry about all the tainted meat scandals. But bad things can happen even to wonderful foods like spinach, peppers, and peanut butter.

In case you missed it, Clif, Luna and Lara bars containing peanut butter have all been (voluntarily) recalled due to a risk of salmonella contamination. Here's a list from Whole Foods of recalled products that they sell.

Not long ago I bought two big cases of Clif Bar variety packs from Costco, one for me and one as a gift for a friend. I've already eaten a bunch of them, but had to throw out the rest. I guess I need to buy my friend a replacement gift, too. The risk is very small, but certainly not worth taking!

I called Clif Bar & Co (1-800-CLIFBAR) about a refund and they were very nice on the phone. You don't need a receipt for a refund, just tell them how many bars you're throwing out and give them the sell-by codes. They told me I should get a refund check in 3 to 4 weeks.

All the more reason to try my hand at making some more of my own energy bars!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kidney Bean Patties

I was feeling creative last night and wanted to use my shiny new food processor - thanks Omnivorous Boyfriend! These came out looking disturbingly like raw meat, but they taste great. Plus they're dirt cheap and easy, yay.
I made heavy use of the food processor, but this could all be done easily by hand.

1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (or just mix oregano and basil)
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1/2 tsp sea salt
  1. Chop the onion and garlic in a food processor till finely diced. Place in a medium bowl.
  2. Put the beans into the processor and process to a mushy paste, drizzling in a teeny bit of olive oil to help it along (stop while there's still a little texture). Add to the bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir it all up.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray it with olive oil.
  5. Shape the mix into four patties and cook for 5 minute on each side.
While they are burger-shaped, because of the texture and flavors they're not burgers to me. I'm having them for lunch this week with a side of savory cream of buckwheat - sounds insane, I know, but I really like this with Japanese rice topping.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kate-style Lara Bar

Hi there, I'm back! Sorry for going so long without an update - I just haven't been making anything blog-worthy of late. After a year as a vegan, I'm finding I have lots of go-to recipes and products that I know I like (and repeat often). I'll try and be a more active blogger, though, as long as I have something worth sharing.

And I think this is *totally* worth sharing - home-made Lara-style bars. This afternoon I found myself craving a cherry-pie Lara bar, but my local grocery store was out of that flavor. I've been wondering for a while about making my own - with such simple ingredients, how hard could it be? Well, not hard at all. I decided to put a twist on mine and use half figs and half dates for the base, since I find the date flavor overwhelming sometimes in the real Lara bars. Plus I love figs.
I threw an equal amount of pitted dates and black mission figs into the food processor and let 'er rip until a big sticky ball formed (this took a few minutes). Then I took about one tablespoon of the base and kneaded in with my hands about two tablespoons of chopped dried cherries and one tablespoon of shredded coconut. Squished it all up and pressed it into a bar shape.

I like it even better than the real thing! Lots cheaper, too.

I put the extra ball of date-fig base in the fridge, can't wait to try out some more combinations.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A few of my (current) favorite things

Some vegan things I'm thankful for this year:
Clementines. Tart and sweet and oh so orange-y. I pop 'em like candy.

Frozen fruit. Since I have a smoothie almost every day, I keep a wide variety of fruit in my freezer so I can make whatever suits my fancy. Blueberry cherry, cherry banana, strawberry mango, I could go on and on and on.

I've blogged about this stuff before. It's really awesome. I like it in blended up oatmeal, but it also makes a mean pumpkin pie.

In defiance of the Whole Paycheck theory, WF brand shampoo, conditioner and bodywash are the cheapest I've found anywhere (about $2.50 a bottle). They're also free of animal products and parabens, have not been tested on animals, and work pretty darn well.

Oatmeal! Sometimes I have it twice a day.

I make my own chai tea lattes, without the honey (or $3+ price tag).

So flavorful. Compare this to Libby's and it's night and day.

A scoop a day keeps the protein deficiency away.

Simple ingredients, really good.

I thought I hated almond milk, I actually just hated Almond Breeze. This is creamy and pleasantly almond-y.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yet more cheap and easy stuff

First off, a shout-out for Happy Herbivore's new cookbook Pudge Free
Holidays. If you haven't gotten it, or the last Sneak Peak book, go
right now! They're both full of awesome, healthy recipes (several of
which I've happily tested). I really need to make that pumpkin bread again...

Another blog shout-out for the Chocolate Covered Vegan. Her recipes
are so clever, I ended up eating two of them yesterday! I've been
blending up my oatmeal all the time since this post, and I adore it in all
kinds of ways. I've always liked oatmeal as-is, but now that I can make
it into a rich creamy pudding I've become a full-on oatmeal addict. A
couple weeks ago I was making dessert oatmeal with cocoa powder and
MimicCreme. Yesterday for breakfast I cooked the oats in unsweetend
almond milk and blended them up with a big dollop of pumpkin, half a
banana, and some pumpkin pie spice. Wowza. For dessert, I tried my
hand at apple pie pudding. I've never used agar before, and was a bit
skeptical that this would work, but it really does! Another yummy,
creamy (and super healthy) treat. I made two servings and had one for
breakfast this morning. CCV gets my undying admiration for coming up
with two dishes that reach that elusive goal of being both healthy
enough and tasty enough to qualify as both breakfast and dessert.
Since I've told you so much about what I ate yesterday, I might as well
tell you about lunch. I've had a can of small white beans sitting on my
shelf for too long, so I made a salad out of them. I mashed up the
beans with 2 tsp of flax oil and added dried basil, salt, rosemary,
garlic and onion powder to taste. Plus a handful of dried cranberries,
this actually makes a really good sandwich on whole wheat bread with
lettuce. Economical, too!I brought my sandwich and cup o' raw veggies (organic celery, tomatoes
and carrots this week) to work, and ended up taking it with me to a
restaurant with my co-workers. It made me realize how far I've come
since going vegan back in January. I didn't feel self conscious at all,
and certainly not deprived - watching them eat their super-greasy pizza
(with pepperoni, blech) just made me feel a little queasy. Not too long
ago the situation would have raised some anxieties for me, but I'm much
more comfortable now. Yay! I like that I've been vegan for long enough
now that people accept that it's not just some phase I'm going through.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saturday in the kitchen

I was trying to remember what I did this weekend, and then realized, right, I spent most of Saturday cooking. I felt sorta gipped - I didn't end up with a lot of leftover food in my fridge to show for all of it - but everything was very good.

The day started off with my new favorite pancakes - banana-berry breakfast cakes from Ricki. These are everything I've been looking for in a vegan pancake. They're super big and fluffy (my picture doesn't do them justice), really flavorful, AND healthy. I was just blown away by them, I'll definitely be trying out more of Ricki's recipes (and the cookbook when it comes out).
Next, I ended up making a mini-Thanksgiving dinner. Woops. This will be my first Thanksgiving as a vegan, and my mom and sister banded together and created a menu to please everyone. I have been assigned to make the stuffing, and was given a recipe to follow. I feel like I've been given marching orders! Since everyone is taking this meal so seriously, I wanted to test out the recipe in advance. I hate when I make something for company and end up thinking "next time I'll put more of (whatever) in and it'll be even better." Turns out the recipe is great on its own, I just need to chop up everything a little smaller next time! My mom got it from Prevention, I think. It's a basic whole-wheat, low-fat stuffing with chopped hazelnuts, dried cherries, and dried apricots.

Since I didn't want to have stuffing by itself for dinner, I figured I'd finally try my hand at making seitan. I really don't like the stuff that comes in a box, and I've had mixed reactions to seitan entrees at restaurants, but I like the idea of another non-soy protein source. I made V'con's simple seitan, and I really like it! After the simmering I baked it for 20 minutes with some orange juice and agave nectar (that's how my mom always cooked chicken, except with honey). Quite good. While it certainly is simple, it ain't fast - the hour of simmering means I probably won't be making seitan very often, but I plan to make a double batch sometime soon and freeze it.

So now we've got orange "chicken," stuffing, why not add some steamed green beans?
None of this was particularly hard to make, but the stuffing and seitan were time consuming. Also dish consuming - think I used every pot and pan and baking dish about three times.

I didn't get a picture of it, but I went even further with the T-day theme and made Susan V's double-layer pumpkin cheesecake. I've been wanting to try out this recipe for a long time and I'm so glad I did, it's yummy! I brought it to a birthday party and didn't tell anyone it was vegan until they started asking me for the recipe. Hee.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pumpkin Smoothie

It's a veggie for breakfast! It's healthy but tastes like dessert! It'll give your blender fits, but really, the exercise it good for it.
Blend until smooth:
-1 cup unsweetened soymilk
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-half of a frozen banana
-1 or 2 tsp maple syrup
-1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
-4 ice cubes

Mmmm. Trader Joe's canned pumpkin is spectacular - it's the only canned pumpkin I could happily eat as-is. I'm going to try and stock up, since they only offer it seasonally.