Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Third Incarnation Granola Bars

For the past month, I have baked several batches of these little gems and used the yoginis in my classes as a focus group. Finally, we've reached a consensus! These don't taste like store bought "candy" granola bars, nor are they boring. This recipe is a “no-fail” and you can make changes as necessary to taste. Just keep the ratios of wet to dry the same and you’re good to go. Here’s the version I liked the best!

Dry Ingredients
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup wheat germ (Ground flaxseed is another good option)
2 Scoops Vanilla Protein Powder (soy based - or omit)
½ cup shelled sunflower seeds (4 oz bag of Snackers at Supercentre)
½ cup unsalted peanuts (4 oz bag of...)
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (4 oz...)
1 cup dried Craisins (Ocean Spray are by far the sweetest – worth the extra $)

Wet Ingredients
¼ cup Honey
¼ cup Lite Pancake Syrup
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon margarine

Preheat oven to 350

Place the pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and spray with a little non-stick spray. Bake approximately 5 minutes or until they start popping. Remove and let cool. (If you decide to use cashews or walnuts – both equally delicious in this recipe – no need to toast)

Spread rolled oats and wheat germ/flaxseed across a cookie sheets and place in oven for about 10 minutes. Careful not to burn the oats – I did… twice! Turn the oven down to 300 and dump the cookie sheet contents into a big bowl. Add all of the nuts, protein powder and dried cranberries. Combine this mixture by hand and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat all of the wet ingredients until the brown sugar has dissolved completely.

Remove the wet ingredients from the stove and immediately pour over the dry ingredients. Stir until the nuts and oats are evenly coated.

Spread the mixture into a 8X11 Pyrex. I tried several times to tamp down the mixture at this stage to no avail. It’s far too sticky. Just do your best and then place the Pyrex in the oven for 20 minutes.

With 10 minutes left to go,feel free to tamp down the mixture into the Pryex to your heart’s content. Things are less sticky at this juncture.

Remove the Pyrex from the oven and let sit until completely cooled. These need to come together and firm up. Seriously. Once cool, cut into 24 pieces – six rows of four squares. At this serving size, the nutritional values are listed below to the best of my ability to calculate them.

Store in a Ziploc or air tight container in the fridge.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 bars

Amount per Serving

Calories 121

Calories from Fat 39.4

Total Fat 4.38g 6%
Saturated Fat 0.64g 3%
Cholesterol 1.46mg 0%
Sodium 11.08mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 16.56g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1.67g 6%
Sugars 4.36g
Protein 4.37g 8%

Est. Percent of Calories from:
Fat 32% Carbs 54% Protein 14%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calories needs.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet

Thank you PETA! Not sure I'm fully on board with Peta's entire agenda but this baking "Cheat Sheet" is useful for vegans, vegetarians AND meat eaters. Before you guffaw at baking without butter, just give one of these options a try and see if you can taste the difference. Honestly. What could it hurt? Who could it help?

If you cannot expand this image after clicking, here is the link to view it on PETA's website.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

One Year Anniversary!

I’ve sat down to write this post many times and all that I’ve written has been garbage. This is my final attempt -without 9000 edits.

Today is my vegetarian one year anniversary. I am proud.

What started as an experiment in health has grown into something powerful in my life. It has been a year of discovery, hope, sadness and joy. I now know horrifying things about the lives of the 10 billion animals that are placed on our plates annually. For better or worse, I can never “un” know them.

There are many people who are trying to change these things and they inspire me every single day. Some days I feel so small and my efforts so insignificant. However, these small acts of thought and compassion practiced daily by thousands of people do make a difference. Connect us, and we are mighty!

One of the great joys of my year was watching my mom become a vegetarian. Against all odds, living in the south with a house full of meat lovers! My dad’s wife and three daughters have made the leap too. Now my Dad has become “take it or leave it” with meat - When in Rome! As I get older and the realities of aging set in, I pray for the good health of my parents like crazy. Knowing that they are eating healthfully gives me peace.

I’ve read thousands of “comments” that call vegetarians and vegans judgmental and preachy. Maybe that’s true. I am certain that I’ve quoted some stats in social situations that have driven people to the other side of the room. Oopsy. All I can say is that something clicked when my eyes and heart opened and I allowed the facts into my brain. As this year comes to a close, so goes my mouth. The “shock & awe” of the first learning has finally become manageable. But from the core of my heart I can honestly say, I am not against you … I am just for them.

I could never have predicted the events of the past year so I hesitate to make predictions for the next. But a girl can hope, right? I hope to continue to grow my little blog and add a series of podcast interviews. I hope to visit at least one farm sanctuary this year to hold a purring turkey and take a snooze against a gentle momma cow, letting my breath sync with hers. I hope to start hosting vegetarian potluck dinners in my home. I hope to drop cheese from my diet entirely. I hope to be more “veg active” in my own community by lovingly reaching out to restaurants and grocery stores. I imagine this is more effective than quoting veal stats at parties!

Thanks and love to everyone who has offered support or shared a kind word along this journey. Grateful doesn’t even begin…

“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it's bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.”
- Pema Chödrön

*The piglet picture is for Angie :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bulgar Wheat Salad

This is a yummy “kitchen sink” kind of salad that I took to a party on Friday night. A few lovely souls asked for the recipe so here it is… with a few modifications and options! Because I just can’t leave “well enough” alone.

1 cup medium grain Bulgar wheat (located in Big B at the end of the cereal aisle)
2 ½ cups of water
2 vegetarian bouillon cubes or 1 veg/1 garlic onion bouillon cube
1 large head of broccoli florets – cut small
1 can Waitrose organic plum tomatoes (if you’re in the states, obviously use fresh!)
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (I used shelled sunflower seeds on Friday but pumpkin seeds rule)
½ cup Mediterranean style Feta cheese

Options: I made this again on Sunday and added ½ cup dried green split peas and two tablespoons of chopped hot peppers (to be found below the pickles in Big Big). If you want to add a legume like green or yellow split peas or any type of lentil, just rinse them and get them into a pan with boiling water before you do anything else. Any of these varieties will be ready to add into the salad right on time! Don’t cook your legumes to mush – keep an eye taste test frequently.

Preheat the oven to 350 and then place the raw pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and spray with a little non-stick spray and a bit of kosher or sea salt. Let them toast in the oven until golden and puffed up. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Get the water and bouillon cubes onto medium heat in a large pan with lid. Place the broccoli in the water once the cubes have dissolved. When the water is just below a boil, add the bulgar wheat and cover. Let the bulgar come to a boil for approximately 3 minutes and then turn off the heat and walk away.

In the meantime, drain and rinse the plum tomatoes before a rough dice. Once the bulgar has absorbed the water, add the tomatoes and fluff everything with a fork.

Allow the bulgar to cool a bit and then add the feta and pumpkin seeds.

Delish! (add that too if you have it!)