Finally it is Fall in the Pacific Northwest

leaves

Well we finally moved back to Portland, Oregon after living at the coast for the past 5 years. This has not changed my passion for all things vegan and gluten free. Especially since my daughter was born almost 2 years ago. With her arrival I have been on the quest to not only do vegan and GF, but also as many super densely packed nutritious meals with minimal ingredients.

As all of you Portlanders know we have had an amazingly beautiful spring, summer and fall! Very dry in fact. At times a little too dry with the surrounding droughts. But alas the rains have finally come and mother nature has indicated that Fall is here.

Fall in Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Fall is a time of the Lungs, which belong to the Metal Element. This is traditionally a time when dryness and wind have a factor in our health. The Lungs are associated with the exterior of our body and when we catch a cold (or wind-cold in Chinese Medicine) the Lungs have been compromised. This is evident by the chills, fever, body aches, sniffles, and cough that may be productive or dry.

What can we do in Chinese Medicine to treat a cold/flu?

First and foremost there are many common herbs you probably already have in your kitchen that are great for those beginning stages of a cold; ginger, green onion, mint, garlic.

Make a really strong ginger tea with a 2-3 inches chopped fresh ginger root in 6 cups water. Boil the ginger and let simmer for 15 minutes and add some maple syrup or honey to cut the super pungent flavor (optional). Let the tea cool slightly and drink throughout the day.

Go see your acupuncturist or get one!! They will have some great formulas on hand like, Yin Qiao San, Gan Mao Ling or Chuan Xin Lian. These are all great formulas to have on hand for the cold and flu season, but you want to make sure to get them from a trusted source. Also acupuncture can cut the time you are sick in half and who doesn’t want to feel better now.

How we can strengthen our immune system to prevent getting a cold/flu

The best way to strengthen our immune system is to eat a whole foods diet that has lots of veggies!!! This is probably redundant to many of you who would be reading a health blog. But still eat lots of veggies!!!

In TCM we look at things a little differently, our immune system has a direct link to the Lungs (remember they govern the exterior of the body to protect us).

Some simple foods to support or tonify  the lungs are: nourishing soups (recipe below), pears, pumpkin, apple, brown rice, porridges, and mushrooms.

Foods that can help get phlegm out of the lungs are: garlic, fresh ginger, fennel, and seaweeds.

Foods for a dry cough (meaning the Lungs need to be moistened) are: microalgaes, pears, string beans, herbs like lily bulbs, marshmallow root, and licorice tea.

Miso Ingredients

Time for Fall Soup (Nourishes the Lungs)

  • 2-3 stalks green onions
  • 3 cloves garlic (double with a cold)
  • 1-2 inches fresh ginger (double with a cold)
  • 2 astragalus roots (optional for extra immune boosting)
  • 4-5 mushrooms (I prefer shiitake)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1/2 package tempeh
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup miso

Chop the green onions, mushrooms, carrot, celery, and tempeh (the garlic and ginger can be grated ro finely chopped). Add the 2 astragalus roots whole (so you can remove them before eating the soup). Add all ingredients to the water and boil for 8-10 minutes. After all veggies are tender turn OFF heat and add sesame oil and miso. A tip for the miso is to whisk up with 1/2 cup water before adding to soup so it will be uniform in texture. Also we add miso at the end after heat is turned off to preserve all the healthy probiotics.

This soup has nourishing ingredients (astragalus, carrots, mushrooms, celery, tempeh and miso) to boost the immune system. And it has Lung opening and phlegm reducing herbs (green onions, garlic, and ginger).

Also by boiling the ingredients we preserve the nutritional elements in the soup broth and this method of cooking is seen as very neutral in Chinese Medicine. Meaning that it is great for all constitutions so enjoy!!!

Miso Soup

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Yummy Pancakes!!!

Here is a super simple pancake recipe that is baby friendly and approved!! Actually the whole family will love them!

 

Oatmeal and Millet Pancakes

  • 1.5 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup millet*
  • 1 banana
  • 2.5 cups water
  • * can use brown rice, quinoa, corn meal or amaranth instead of millet

Blend all ingredients in a vitamix or high speed blender. Use coconut oil in a large skillet or stainless steel pan and cook on one side until the edges look slightly dry and then flip over and cook the other side. Since these are blended they do have a nice light texture, but without the leavening agent they are not super fluffy. They are kind of like a crepe and pancake combo. Very good with fresh fruit and can even top with maple syrup. This recipe makes 15-18 pancakes that are medium sized.

 

 

Hemp Hazelnut Power Cookies

Hemp Hazelnut Power CookiesThese raw and good for you cookies are a snap to make in your food processor. No waiting time to bake or let cool, just blend up and form into balls and done!!! They are a great treat or even a filling snack when you are on the go. Even our 14 month old daughter Jade loves them too!

 

Hemp Hazelnut Power Cookies (yield: 1 dozen)

  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 TBS hempseeds
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts (I blended them into a meal first)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 5-7 medjool dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • super tiny pinch of sea salt

 

I blended the dry ingredients first just to make sure they were a smaller size our toddler wouldn’t choke on, but you can just blend them all at once for a more chunky consistency. Then after blending the dry ingredients I added the others to the food processor. When it is done it is still pretty crumbly, but you know it is the right consistency when you can form into balls, makes a dozen almost golf-ball sized cookies.

 

 

 

Delicious Almond Sesame Cookies

I love this time of year… yes the holidays! Because there are always amazing vegan potlucks and great times to share with family and friends. I have always loved anything almond or sesame inspired especially when it is combined with sweet. These cookies are super fun and easy and are kind of cheating because I use a cake mix.

I typically don’t have sugar in the house and I was almost out of medjoul dates, but I really wanted something sweet. I did have Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Vanilla Cake mix so I used some of that to be the base of these super chewy cookies. I took these to a vegan white elephant Holiday Party and they were a hit, everyone kept asking for the recipe and here it is!!!!

Cookie Dough

Almond Sesame Cookies (375 for 8-12 minutes)

  • 2 cups Bob’s GF Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup water (maybe slightly more if needed)

Mix all dry ingredients first and then add the tahini (ground sesame seeds) and water. Slowly mix it up and you may need a couple more teaspoons of water to achieve the right cookie consistency. Roll into balls (slightly smaller than ping pong balls) and you will get about 3 dozen cookies.

Almond Sesame Cookies

My DJ Husband Likes Beets!!!

Beet Soup with Lemon Dill Sour Cream

Beet Soup with Lemon Dill Sour Cream

So typically it is not a challenge for me to make something that my overly enthusiastic husband will love to eat… except when it comes to beets. I always joke that since he is a DJ he should like “fresh beets.” I know I always say even though I’m vegan I sure like the “cheese” or puns in this case.

Well anyway I had success in my culinary achievements when I made a beet soup that he actually had seconds of and even the next day was asking if we had any of that delicious beet soup left over.

So here is the recipe:

Beet Soup with Lemon Dill Sour Cream

  • 3-4 Beets
  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • 1 Potato
  • 1/2 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2-3 cups beans (I used black beans)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (optional for more texture)
  • 1/2 bunch kale or other greens
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt or liquid aminos to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon each (oregano, cumin, celery seed, chipotle or black pepper)

Wash and cube beets and potatoes (no need to peel them). In a large skillet saute beets with half the onion and half the sweet potato for 5-10 minutes until the beets are starting to get tender. Then add enough water to cook the rest of the way and blend in a  food processor or blender. Set Aside.

Then in another pan cook the rest of the onion and cubed potatoes and boil for 10 minutes with the seasonings listed to make a nice veggie broth. I used about 4 cups water, but feel free to use more or less depending on how thick you like your soup. Add the rice, beans, and whole lemon halves after they have been juiced and cook for another 5-10 minutes. I added the kale, cabbage, and juice of 1 lemon at the end since I don’t like my greens very mushy. Add salt to taste and REMOVE the lemon halves. Then add the pureed beet, sweet potato and onion mixture. Remember to garnish with some delicious Lemon Dill Sour Cream (see recipe below).

*side note on why I add the lemon halves to the soup… the skin of the lemon has all the essential oils and a very potent lemon flavor so I like to add them just to up the lemony goodness.

Lemon Dill Cashew Sour Cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews (soak them first if you don’t have a high-speed blender)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon + a little lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • pinch of salt

If using a high speed blender add a little bit of water and blend until super thick and creamy (almost as thick as sour cream). Then put in freezer while heating up soup to thicken and spoon it on top. If using a food processor make sure to soak the cashews ahead of time (at least 4 hours… can even soak overnight for convenience) and only add water as needed. You may want to double this recipe to have some amazing sour cream on hand… keeps in refrigerator for about a week.

Delicious Summer Soup (Hot or Cold)

Summer Soup... Yummy!

Summer Soup… Yummy!

I love summer time with all the fresh veggies and farmers markets. I am super lucky that there is a local farmers market, Cannon Beach Farmers Market. I do a CSA (community supported agriculture) box with Kingfisher Farms and get an abundance of local, organic goodies. This is a soup made from those treasures…

Delicious Summer Soup (serve hot or cold)

  • 2-3 large tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds (could substitute with cashews, hemp seed, sunflower seed, etc.)
  • 2-3 cups of water (more or less depending on how creamy you like it)
  • salt to taste (I actually used liquid aminos because I prefer the taste)
  • chipotle (just a dash… more if you like it spicy)
  • 3-4 cups chopped greens: kale, chard, arugala (whatever yummy greens you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion or chives

Blend the tomatoes, red pepper, zucchini, sesame seeds and water in blender until smooth and creamy. Then add salt and chipotle to taste. You can heat this up if you would like or just super chop the greens and onion, add to the soup and serve… Enjoy!!!

Super Low-Fat Strawberry Ice Cream (Vegan of Course)

Super Low-Fat Strawberry Ice Cream

Super Low-Fat Strawberry Ice Cream

It was a warm night… and I was craving something cold and sweet. How about some strawberry ice cream!!! This would be a snap to make if you have an ice cream maker, but if not do not fret… Just blend all the ingredients, freeze and blend again. Still quick and easy! This ice cream has just over 100 calories/serving making it super low calorie, and guilt-free!

Strawberry Cashew Ice Cream (1 pint)

  • ½ c. cashews
  • 1/2 pint strawberries
  • 1 teas. vanilla
  • 1-2 TBS agave or maple syrup for added sweetness (optional)
  • 1 ¼ c. water (approximate, see directions below)

-Soak cashews to soften, then add all ingredients including only enough water to make 2 c. total or 1 pint. Amazingly ice cube trays hold exactly 2 cups! Blend until creamy and either use ice cream maker or pour mixture into ice cube tray, freeze and blend again until smooth.

A Perfect Breakfast for Summer Solstice… Banana Flax Crepes with Strawberries!!!

Banana Flax Crepes with Soy Yogurt and Fresh Strawberries

Banana Flax Crepes with Soy Yogurt and Fresh Strawberries

I love this time of year!! It’s when I get to go the Farmer’s Market and always have super fresh delicious produce. Today even when I first woke up (before 6am) it was already a sunny gorgeous day at the beach! How lucky I am to be here.

Last night before falling asleep I was dreaming of what I wanted to make for breakfast and it came to me… crepes!! Topped with lots of fresh strawberries! YUM… no wonder I woke up so early excited to make a scrumptious meal.

Banana Flax Crepes (makes 3-4)

  • 1 cup Bob’s Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/4 cup whole flax seeds (grind into flour/meal)
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • sprinkle of salt
  • water (enough added for crepe batter consistency-thinner than pancake batter)

Grind whole flax seeds into meal and add to GF flour. Mash up ripe banana before adding to powdered ingredients. Then add vanilla, salt and water. Start with a small amount of water and work your way up to desired consistency. You will have to add more water than you think because the flax will just keep soaking up that water.

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add some coconut oil to coat the pan. Then pour some of the mixture in and spread out in a circle as thin as possible. No need to flip… the crepe is done when you can tell there is no raw dough on the surface. Then top with soy yogurt and fresh berries… Enjoy!!!

Nuts About Parmesan

I was making some rice pasta with steamed broccoli and it just seemed too bland. What do I do in that instance? Make a condiment!!! This time I decided a nice cheesy addition would be tasty so I took out my food processor and in 2 minutes flat had this delicious parmesan that I was just nuts about. Ok I love puns… here’s another one: I might be vegan but I sure love the cheesy (sense of humor that is).

Nuts about Parmesan

  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup walnuts or cashews
  • 1-2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • ¼ teas. salt

Peel garlic. Pulse garlic in food processor, then add walnuts (or cashews), nutritional yeast and salt. Process into desired parmesan-like consistency. Top on your favorite pasta, soup, salad, or pizza. Store any leftovers in fridge for a week or so.

Quickest Carrot Cake Ever!!!

Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting

So I have really been into juicing lately… and of course that means tons of carrot pulp, usually I just compost it. One time I did try to make soup with it, but don’t ever make that mistake… super grainy and all the juice was out of the carrots so the soup was NOT sweet and creamy like it normally is. I know there are a ton of recipes out there for using carrot pulp for the fluffy consistency of raw, dehydrated cookies, but really I wanted something sweet and QUICK!

I happened to have Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix on hand, so I thought to myself… “why not try to make it carrot cake?” I juiced 4 carrots and added the juice back to the pulp. Then I dumped in the whole cake mix and eventually it turned into thick cake consistency. I did add a couple of other things and they are in the recipe below. I love cashew cheesecake, so I made a variation for a Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting and DELICIOUS!!!

Carrot Cake Recipe

  • Bob’s Red Mill Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 4 carrots (juice and pulp mixed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pie spice
  • Optional: coconut flakes, chopped dates, raisins, pecans, whatever you like!

Juice 4 carrots and mix the juice and pulp together. Then mix in all the other ingredients until uniform in consistency. Use coconut oil to oil the pan (to avoid sticking). Bake at 325 for 20-30 minutes (depending on pan size and oven size)

Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2-1 cup raw cashews
  • juice of 1/4-1/2 lemon (depending on how lemony you like it, and a little zest never hurt anyone)
  • 2 TBS maple syrup or agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 TBS coconut oil (unrefined organic tastes best)
  • water (just enough to make creamy)

If you are using a food processor to make frosting then I would highly recommend soaking cashews for at least 4 hours prior. I used my vitamix and didn’t have the foresight to soak beforehand and it still turned out super smooth. When you refrigerate this frosting it will thicken or if you use more cashews. I liked it more like a glaze when I first made it and then after refrigerating it was thick like a super buttery frosting. Just use frosting as needed and don’t put on the whole cake (since you need to refrigerate the frosting and that would dry the cake out). Top piece by piece and enjoy!