Birthday Bash Weekend and Other Fun!

FOOD

Summer is definitely in full swing, which means lots of smoothies, fresh fruit, raw veggies, salads, and lighter eats. Also some curry (naturally) and my sweet and sour tofu stir fry (recipe below)!

Shockingly, I don’t have nearly as many pics as usual! I’m especially sad I don’t have any from the party I hosted Friday night for my friend’s annual bday bash weekend! My guy’s son made the main dish, and I made a bunch of salad sides. Guess I was too busy playing host to remember the pics!

Crissie’s Sweet & Sour Tofu Stir-Fry

Ingredients

• 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed

• 1 tbsp olive oil

• 1 large can of cubed pineapple in juice (keep the juice)

• 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into florets

• 1/2 red onion, cut into large wedges

• 1 red bell pepper, cut into large squares

• 1 small can diced water chestnuts

• 1 small can bamboo shoots

• 1 can bean sprouts (or use fresh)

• 2 cloves garlic

• 1/4 tsp ground ginger

• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

• 3 tbsp mirin (or regular white vinegar)

• 2 tbsp soy sauce/tamari

• 3 tbsp corn starch

• red pepper flakes

• salt to taste

Directions

• In a very large pan or wok, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.

• Add tofu, and stir until starting to brown on all sides.

• Add garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes.

• Add red onion and bell pepper and cook for 4 minutes.

• Sprinkle a few shakes of red pepper flakes. I did about 3 shakes since my young one doesn’t like super spicy.

• Meanwhile, pour the pineapple juice into a measuring cup.  Add enough water or veggie broth to make 1 1/2 cups.  Add in the ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, and corn starch.  Mix well and set aside.

• Add the broccoli and cook for 4 minutes.

• Add water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and pineapple.  Stir well.

• Add the liquid and bring the heat to high until it starts to boil.  Once it boils, turn down to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes, until sauce thickens.

• Add bean sprouts and heat through.

• Salt and extra soy sauce at the table for everyone to adjust to taste.

FITNESS

It has been all about the home gym! Spin and weights mostly. Some yoga too.

Honestly, I’m in a running rut. I just don’t feel like going – so I haven’t. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the excitement of the bike, but I noticed that the last half dozen runs or so I forced myself to do, and that’s not typical. I usually NEED to run. Oh well, not analyzing it too much. I still get great workouts in, just different I guess.

LIFE

Life has been pretty awesome. Always ups and downs, but that’s normal. It’s been a whole week off from classes, and I’m almost a little bored! My guy says I need a hobby. I don’t know if I have enough time and energy to give any hobby justice.

R is in Florida for the week with her best friend’s family. St. Augustine, Disney, and Resort fun for 9 whole days! They are having a blast! I miss her like crazy, but we chat and I know she’s having a wonderful time.

The landscaping adventures have been going well. All the rocks are gone and now it’s tackling the weeds and getting the sprinkler system fixed. Overall though, the yard is light years better than it ever was.

Also had the house and back deck pressure washed too. It all looks so pretty!

And R and I gutted the shed. It was the only thing I hadn’t done since the divorce. It was so disorganized and full of crap, it was fun to clean it out. I have SO much space (and two leaf blowers!).

I bought a new door for the screened in porch – one with a doggie door! The previous door had a torn screen from when Kuma was stranded outside during a storm and needed to get into shelter. Since Ginny is feline leukemia positive and can’t ever be outdoors, the screened in porch was her sanctuary. My guy came by to hang it up, and it’s totally perfect. And once again, I have a happy fluff!

This weekend was the second annual beach and birthday bash! My good friend M’s birthday was Wednesday, and he and I co-host a weekend of parties, friends, boats, and beaches! Friday night is at my house – this year was a BBQ bash and pool party. Saturday we occupied two boats and spent the day on the water enjoying a perfect day. Last night was a taco bar at M & R’s house, and today was brunch at a waterfront restaurant (which I didn’t make this year). Our out of town friends are split between mine and M’s houses as many travel quite a ways to get here. In all, I think there were about 20 people, and it was an amazing time.

Ginny cuddled in my guys lap for about an hour Friday night. I think it was her way of thanking him for giving her a catio space again!

One of my guests was a puppy! Jackson is a Shiba/Shepherd mix and totally sweet. He and Kuma got along just fine.

Today I had to stop at my guys house to return a cooler, then went grocery shopping. Been a day of meal prep, laundry, and putting the house back together post-party and guests! All told – a pretty perfect weekend!

Otherwise it’s been a ton of pool fun, java on the back deck, fluffs, and fun!

Main Street Vegan Academy – Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

<<<<UPDATE>>>>. The giveaway has ended – huge congrats to Karen for winning!!

Yes – you read that right.  Free stuff.  Right at Christmas no less!  So you know what, read on, enter, and get yourself something you know you want anyway 😉

Book Layout

I’m the owner of dozens of vegan cookbooks (easily), and have reviewed quite a few in the past few years as well.  I like to start by checking out the layout.  Some go right to business – the recipes and only the recipes.  Some start with tips on how to veganize your kitchen – great for newbies or people looking to increase plant-powered meals in their lives.  Some still go into the explanations of why a vegan diet is great – health, environment, animal ethics, etc.  Everyone starts at a different point – or have different reasons for wanting a book of all plant based yumminess.  You may be a long time vegan looking for something fresh and new.  Or an athlete looking to get leaner and stronger.  In a new relationship with a non meat-eater.  Or an animal activist who just can’t be a part of animal husbandry and cruelty.  Or an omnivore who just knows they want to increase their intake of wholesome plant-based eats.

Whatever your reason, a glance at the book layout can help you decide if this is the book for you.

Since this book is coming from Victoria Moran – the founder of Main Street Vegan Academy, and JL Fields – my fav down to earth vegan recipe creator – you know it’s full of no-nonsense advice, and they did so in their “Coaching Corner” comments sprinkled throughout the book.  These consist of additional research materials or advice from academy grads.

The first two chapters are informational, and go into things like debunking typical vegan myths, and how it’s okay to be on whatever journey you are to being more plant-based.  For many of us who choose to eat this way (or explore what it may mean), it’s common to be confronted by our meat eating family and friends with questions like “where did you get your protein”, and “how can you be healthy”, and “plants have feelings too”.  And just as frustratingly, there’s nothing worse than the “vegan police” who like to tell you that you aren’t “vegan enough”.  These chapters are loaded with information in a non-confrontational way (which is extremely important to me in a mixed-dietary and non-judgemental household), and are a great read.  For those that don’t care and/or are well educated, it’s easy enough to skip past it.  I wouldn’t though.  As a vegan for 14 years, I still found great resources and well articulated perspectives.

Chapters 3-8 are tons of yummy recipes.  Everything from breakfasts to salads, soups, main dishes, one-pot dishes (my FAV in a busy family), and desserts.

The final chapter is called Vegan Outside the Kitchen, and is personally my favorite.  It focuses on things like dining out and how to talk to kitchen staff without being a condescending asshat, to taking veganism off your plate and into your fashion and beauty habits.  This is the Gandhi chapter of “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Recipes

So – as you can see from this picture – the sticky notes represent the dishes I want to make.  Some I choose because I have everything I need to make it.  Some because they’re flavor profiles I know I love, and some because they offer new ideas, techniques, and flavors.

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I made Cheesy Broccoli Rice (because – who doesn’t love that?!?!) and Nutmeg Chocolate Chip Bars (always on the lookout for a dessert for school lunches for my youngest).  The rice was SO easy – all in the rice cooker (and those who know me know I’m an appliance cooking junkie – and JL is the queen of appliance recipes – serious – check out her other books Vegan Pressure Cooking and The Vegan Air Fryer – I have both and you won’t be disappointed).

I also made Veggie Mac, because it provided exactly what I was looking for – a new way to make a classic comfort food. And that, my friends, is the recipe I want to share with you.  Nothing like a cheezy, noodley, pot of goodness with all kinds of sneaky veggies in it.

Veggie Mac – by Brill LoSacco, VLCE from New York

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes – Russet or Yukon Gold
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cashews (or 2/3 cup soaked raw sunflower seeds for a nut free option – which I did)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon (or 2 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni (regular vegan or gluten-free, depending on your dietary needs)

Directions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat for the pasta
  • In a small pan, combine potatoes, onion, carrots, and water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  • Once the large pot of water comes to a roiling boil, throw in the tablespoon of walt and the pasta.  Cook according to package directions until al dente.  Drain.
  • Combine cashews or soaked and drained sunflower seeds, garlic, tahini, mustard, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic powder into a high-speed blender or food processor.  When veggie mixture is finished cooking, add it (water included) to the blender.  Blend until completely smooth.
  • Toss the sauce with the pasta back in the large pot.
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making the sauce
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final dish!  Just look at that creamy lusciousness!

My (and my kids) thoughts:

I love a good creamy pasta dish – which is the main reason I picked this one.  I loved it sprinkled with tons of pepper.  I think I’d love it with peas added next time (though I’m a pea junkie and try to find ways to add them to pretty much everything!).  I can see adding crumbled tempeh for a more chili-mac type dish for a full meal, or as a side dish to some yummy BBQ tofu.

We are a nut-free home due to allergies, so I was happy this recipe came with a nut-free option.

My youngest – R – the pickiest eater of the bunch (mainly because she has life threatening peanut and tree-nut allergies, so new food spooks her), thought is was “ok”.

M loved it – even took a break from his video games to try it – he was only taste testing – and then proceeded to keep the bowl, telling me he loved it.  Big praise from the biggest meat eater in the house.

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with his “um, this is mine” face

And then there was A – my eldest and most likely to eat like me – her exact words for this (and the other dishes) was “dude, this is lit”.  High praise indeed.

And – awesome leftovers for the week’s lunches!  Not to mention all the other sticky notes to make meals for the week (Friday is already scheduled the One Pot Rice and Beans dish!).

Last Notes

Many of the recipes in this book call for nuts in some fashion.  Cashews for creamy dishes and peanut butter for some, just off the top of my head.  Most don’t have a nut-free option for the recipes.  For someone like me, that can be pretty limiting.  With a child with a life threatening allergy and a no tolerance nut rule in the house, if they can’t easily be converted and I see that many recipes with nuts, I may not splurge on it.  I’ve been cooking since I was 8, so it’s pretty easy to know how to modify a recipe, but for others, it may not be so.

That said – there’s a wide variety of recipes in this book, and I know it’ll be a mainstay in my home for many years.

Giveaway

Now it’s the part you’re waiting for, right?  HOW DO I GET ONE??  Well, you can do a few things.  You can buy it here.  You can beg someone who loves you to buy it for you.  Or – you can win one from me!

You may be wondering how!  Super simple.  Comment below that you’d like a copy.  Honestly, that simple.  I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner on the day after Christmas.  That way – if you didn’t get what you wanted, you still can get something totally groovy JUST FOR YOU.  Yep.  That’s how much I love you.

So – leave a comment below letting me know you’d really like a copy of this book, and on 12/26/17 I’ll draw a winner.  You’ll promptly get a book send directly from the publisher.

Peace friends!  And happy eating!

~Crissie

When I Get Rough on a Cookbook, You Know It’s Good! (hint…giveaway time!)

Cookbook Review

The wonderful folks over at Ben Bella Books have gifted me with three books to review for you this summer!  Each one will involve a chance to win your very own copy too!  For now, though, I need to tell you about Plant Pure Nation.  The movie, the book, and that I loved it so much, I’ve pretty much destroyed it…..

I made all the recipes with the sticky notes, and what you possibly can't tell, is that I've spilled on it so many times, that it's a bit warped!
I made all the recipes with the sticky notes, and what you possibly can’t tell, is that I’ve spilled on it so many times, that it’s a bit warped!  The best cookbooks are always the ones that look like they’ve gone through battle though – dripped on, stained, dog-eared, and sticky 🙂

Much in the same vein as one of my favorite veggie movies – Vegucated (seriously….watch it if you can.  Funny, poignant, and available online too!) – Plant Pure Nation is a documentary that is being screened all over the US.  It’s not yet available for sale, and I am hoping that it hits my area of the East Coast soon!  What’s even more fun, is they have published a companion book and that’s what I’m here to tell you about!

Over the past month, I’ve made about 20 of the recipes in here, and have yet to be disappointed.  True, I had a mini-explosion with the Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, but we can talk about that later!

Written by Kim Campbell, with a forward by her famous father-in-law and co-author of one of my favorite books, The China Study, I found Plant Pure Nation to be one of my favorites from this family so far.  The recipes are very flavorful, but also incredibly healthy.  I for one, love to eat healthy, but don’t like to sacrifice flavor.  Life is too short to eat boring food!

Food Porn and Recipe!

Here are some of the few dishes I’ve made, as well as a recipe to share!

Who doesn’t love a good blueberry muffin?  The kids had friends over when these came out of the oven, so they didn’t last long at all!

who doesn't love a great blueberry muffin?  These are Colin's Blueberry muffins, and didn't last long in my house!
perfect breakfast!

Another breakfast dish were the pancakes, which were wonderful.  It’s nice to find a fluffy pancake recipe, and served with a little marmalade, they were fantastic.

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the whole breakfast spread that morning - pancakes being the centerpiece!
the whole breakfast spread that morning – pancakes being the centerpiece!

One of my favorites, by far, is the Southwestern Bean Salad.  Plain, on tacos, or on salad, I ate this for days.

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The Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread is the only recipe that gave me any trouble.  It blew up slightly, and was a little under cooked in the end.  Easy enough to fix by either using a bigger pan or not letting it raise the entire time.  Cleaning my oven after baking wasn’t too much run, so while a delicious bread, I’ll have to play with it a bit to perfect it.

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And finally, a recipe I get to share!  It was delicious both warm and cold, and I used the leftovers as a spread for wraps.

I give to you…

Warm Spinach – Artichoke Dip!

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup tofu cashew mayonnaise (only sub here for me, since we’re a Nut Free family is I used Just Mayo instead)
  • 1 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • large pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 14 ounce can/jar of artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, saute the onion and garlic in a small amount of water until tender.  Set aside.
  • In a food processor, blend together the mayo, cannellini beans, lemon juice, water, mustard, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt, and pepper until smooth and creamy.
  • Add spinach and artichokes and pulse 8-10 times; do not puree them.
  • Fold the onion and garlic into the tofu mixture.
  • Place the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle with the panko bread crumbs and paprika.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bread crumbs are browned.


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This is a great dish and I’ve already made it several times, both for my family, and for parties.  One hint for parties, is to keep it on low in a small crock pot – works perfectly.

Did Someone Say FREE?

Yes!  As a matter of fact, someone did!  So, if you’d like a chance to win your very own freebie copy of Plant Pure Nation, please just leave a comment below with your name and perhaps some information on why this book sounds appealing to you!

I will leave the contest open until Midnight on August 15th!

Good Luck!

More Yummy Free Things! Read On My Friends….

BACKGROUND

Okay, so anyone who has read my blog for any length of time, follows me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (all RunCrissieRun) knows that I’ve been a huge fan of the Happy Herbivore for many, many years.

Lindsay develops recipes that are low fat, oil free, healthy, and best of all…EASY.  As much as I love a good complicated recipe with exotic ingredients, I also appreciate something elegantly simple that can be made with everyday ingredients (aka – no trip to a natural food store necessary!).  I think her books are great for anyone new to plant-based eating or wanting to get more good stuff in their diets.

I admit that I own all her books, have participated in a few of her challenges (healthy eating or just happy living!), follow her blog, and have subscribed in the past to her super simple meal plans.  Why?  Her food is easy and it tastes good.  Enough said.

REVIEW

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings for review!  I’ve reviewed a book of her’s in the past (click here to read more), and was more than excited to do it again.

This book has chapters broken up by holiday, which I think is pretty cool.  I’ll be honest, newer veg heads do get some anxiety around the big food holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter because their new dietary lifestyles buck against many long-standing family traditions (and they often fear what their families will think…and their families worry how to feed them!).

I have made the butternut soup (with her green chili twist) from the Thanksgiving chapter about 6 times in the past month!

Butternut Soup!  Seriously amazing and couldn't be easier.
Butternut Soup! Seriously amazing and couldn’t be easier.
this week's big batch.  133 calories per serving, and the serving is HUGE.
this week’s big batch. 133 calories per serving, and the serving is HUGE.

Speaking of chapters….(like my segue there?!?)…here’s what you can expect:

  • Planning the party chapters – very cool tips on planning big meals and having everything coordinated.
  • Occasions:
    • Thanksgiving, Winter Holidays, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Tailgating & Appetizing Parties, Romantic Occasions, Brunch, Breakfast in Bed, Easter & Passover, Picnics, Barbecues & Outdoor Parties, Kid-Approved Parties, Large & Mixed Crown Entertaining, Party Bars
  • Appendix with extra recipes, dinner party menu suggestions, and ingredients glossary

Other things I made:

Cauliflower Hot Wings from the Tailgating & Appetizing Parties chapter.  Seriously..this recipe alone is worth the price of admission...
Cauliflower Hot Wings from the Tailgating & Appetizing Parties chapter. Seriously..this recipe alone is worth the price of admission…
my omni husband and son were shocked...and gobbled these down.
my omni husband and son were shocked…and gobbled these down.
Cola Barbecue Sauce
Cola Barbecue Sauce
which is what I used to make this other HH recipe of romaine, corn, black beans, and bbq sauce.  See what I mean??  Simple but awesome!
which is what I used to make this other HH recipe of romaine, corn, black beans, and bbq sauce. See what I mean?? Simple but awesome!

So the recipe I get to share is a personal fav also.  One of the things I loved in my pre-vegan days was an awesome cream of broccoli soup.  I’ve come across a few over the years that I’ve liked, but none as much as this one.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups broccoli
  • 2-3 cups veggie broth
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice or potato, chopped
  • 1 cup nondairy milk (I use either homemade soy milk or So Delicious Coconut Milk)
  • red pepper flakes (to taste – I put in a good 4-5 shakes)
  • lemon juice from 1 lemon (I admit to using the bottled stuff)
  • optional add ins – nutritional yeast, basil, thyme
  • salt to taste

Directions

  • Saute the onion and garlic until onion is translucent.  I use a non-stick pan, but can also line the pan with a small amount of your veggie broth (a good tip for the future to saute without oil!)
  • add 1/2 cup of the broth and the rice or potato and cook until the liquid is mostly cooked off.  I personally didn’t cook the potato first, and just let it simmer until the potato was soft.
  • add another 1/2 cup of broth and the broccoli.    Cook until broccoli is very tender (you can use frozen broccoli too)
  • add the non-dairy milk and using either a blender or an immersion blender (which is what I used here), blend until creamy.  Add more broth as needed.
  • Simmer until heated through.
  • Add lemon juice and red pepper flakes (and any optional ingredients) just before serving.  (I actually prefer to add the red pepper before I blend to more evenly distribute the heat!)

I really love this soup.  The entire batch is only  336 calories – so there’s no guilt if you decide to eat the entire pot (which I’ve found pretty impossible to do!).  I did add a bit of sprinkling of the nutritional yeast to give it that cheesy flavor, but didn’t use the basil or thyme.  I didn’t think it needed it, personally.

I've also made this recipe several times because it's simple, keeps well, transports to work well, and is warm and filling.
I’ve also made this recipe several times because it’s simple, keeps well, transports to work well, and is warm and filling.
this was the perfect dinner!
this was the perfect dinner!

GIVEAWAY

I will be giving away one copy of this book to one of you lucky readers!  To be entered, please just leave a comment below, and I will do a drawing on December 26th (just in case Santa doesn’t bring you a copy for Christmas!).

Good luck, and in the mean time, feel free to check out more of The Happy Herbivore at her blog (click here)or if you’re looking for a simple solution to consistent healthy eating, her individual or family based meal plans here!