Saturday, November 22, 2014

Nana's Yeast Rolls but Vegan

This is Nana. Nana was the name we called our Great-grandmother on my father's side.  She was a little silver haired firecracker and one of the best cooks I ever met in my life.  I went to Nana's house everyday after school and all summer long. I remember her always being in the kitchen. You could walk into her kitchen and get hot cooked breakfast from 7-9am, lunch from 11-1pm and dinner from 5-7pm and she always had enough for everyone.  Nana's background was German so her idea of soul food was Cabbage and Potatoes, Beef Brisket and her Yeast rolls.  For years as a child I would go to the store for her to get the ingredients for them including dry active yeast (Must be Fleishman's) sugar, All Purpose flour, Crisco and a few other things.  Nana would spend hours working on these rolls and they made the house smell so warm and cozy ( I wish it was a candle scent).  If you ever asked her how they were made she would tell you "a pinch of this, a little bit of that" and never did the mix the same way twice so we could memorize the steps. 
In my freshman year of college Nana died, and although I did master her Cabbage and Potato recipe, her yeast rolls went to her grave with her and my Aunt Clara and I have spent the last 20 or more years looking for that recipe. 
So this month as the weather turned cold and the thought of Nana's yeast rolls came to mind Clara and I each took a shot at the recipe and between the two of us and a little help from the Food Network and The Joy of Cooking cookbook we came up with very similar recipes, mine however is dairy free.  This recipe takes lots of patience and care but once you eat one or three of them you will know that all your hard work was worth it. So without further ado here is my version of my Nana's Yeast rolls
Nana's Yeast Rolls
4 cups Califia Almond Milk
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Safflower Oil
9 cups All Purpose Flour
2 packages (4 1/2 Tsp.) Active Dry Yeast
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
2 Tablespoons Salt
Pour 4 cups of milk into a large stock pot. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of vegetable oil. Stir to combine.Turn the burner on medium to medium-low. Before the mixture boils, turn off the heat and allow this mixture to cool to warm/lukewarm. The mixture will need to be warm enough to be a hospitable environment for the yeast, but not so hot that it kills the yeast and makes it inactive. Feel the side of the pan with the palm of your hand. The pan should feel comfortably warm.
When the mixture is the right temperature add in 4 cups of flour and 2 packages of (4-1/2 teaspoons) of active dry yeast. After the yeast and flour are nicely incorporated, add another 4 cups of flour. Stir together and allow to sit, covered with a dish towel or lid, for an hour. After about an hour it should have almost doubled in size. If it hasn’t changed much, put it in a warm (but turned off ) oven for 45 minutes or so. When it has risen sufficiently add 1 more cup of flour, 1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder, 1 scant teaspoon of baking soda and about 2 tablespoons of salt. Stir until combined.  Let the dough cool for another 30 minutes.
Butter 1 or 2 muffin pans. Form the rolls by pinching off a walnut sized piece of dough and rolling it into a little ball. Repeat and tuck three balls of dough into each buttered muffin cup. Continue until pan is full. Cover and allow to rise for about 1 to 2 hours.
Bake in a 400-degree oven until golden brown, about 17 to 20 minutes.
This recipe makes about 36 rolls and can be frozen to enjoy later or you can share with friends.  If you make them or any of my recipes please send me pictures to

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chickpeas, Garbanzo Beans and Channa

With so many names and so many uses this small member of the legume family is both inexpensive and a great source of protein and fiber (12 grams of protein and 12.5 grams of fiber per cup) for the plant based eater. When pureed the creamy texture makes it the perfect base for Hummus and when added to a stew the meatiness makes it super satisfying. Chickpeas can be made into flour for those staying away from wheat and is a great treat when made into Falafel. Chickpeas can be purchased both dried and canned and are available in most grocery stores. I like to buy and use canned, not only do they save time but chickpeas don't lose their nutrients when canned. You can always find 3 to 4 cans of no salt added chickpeas in my pantry and here are three of my favorite recipes for them.

Tuna salad was a staple in my diet for a quick lunch or dinner.  I missed it so much that I just replicated the recipe using a can of chickpeas and some vegan mayonnaise.

Chickpea "Tuna Salad
1 can of chickpeas rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tablespoon of vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of sweet relish
1/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning
1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
Using a fork mash the whole chickpeas until a tuna like consistency.  Add all of the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Serve on a whole wheat tortilla with lettuce and tomato. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you love spicy or Indian food then this next recipe is for you.  It has more ingredients than I usually use but is so worth it and I promised to post more recipes so you can use them all again.
Chana Masala
3 tablespoons of Earth Balance buttery spread
1 medium red onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, sliced
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 14.5 oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup of frozen spinach
1.5 cups of water
1 teaspoon of Cumin
1/8 teaspoon of powdered Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Cardamom
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/8 teaspoon smoked Paprika
1/8 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
heat a large sauce pan over high heat until hot.  Reduce heat to medium high and add the Earth Balance, red onion and garlic stirring constantly until the onion is opaque.  Add the diced tomatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Pour the mixture into a high powered blender and blend until smooth.  Add the sauce back into the pot with the water, chickpeas, spinach and the spices except the salt and pepper. Mix well and reduce the heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve over brown rice.

This last recipe I must give credit to my friend Kerry.  I failed twice at getting the crispy in my roasted chickpea snacks until she told me that you need to open the oven often to let the moister out.  So I opened the oven, not just to let out the moister but also to shake the chickpeas so they roast evenly and don't stick to the baking dish. So this one is for Kerry.

Pumpkin Spiced Roasted Chickpeas
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed drained and patted dry with a towel
cooking spray
1 tablespoon of Maple syrup
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the chickpeas in a single layer and bake for 45 minutes to an hour opening the oven and shaking the sheet every 15 minutes until they are crispy.

While the chickpeas are baking mix together the Maple syrup, Pumpkin pie spice and the Sea salt in a bowl.  While chickpeas are still hot toss them in the syrup mixture. place them back on the baking sheet and back in oven for 5-7 minutes to caramelize.  Store leftover chickpeas in an air tight container.

So there you have it, three yummy ways to enjoy your new best friend the chickpea.  I hope you enjoy the recipes and make them soon.  If you do, don't forget to share this post with a friend and send me your pictures to for a chance to get featured on my blog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Whatcha' Eat Today - Where's the Fruit?

So our next Whatcha' Eat Today journal belongs to my work-out accountability and running partner who is very into eating healthy and watching what she eats.  She's added supplements to aid her journey like Kelp- which is helpful in maintaining a strong metabolism and weight control and Chlorophyll- that is useful in cleansing the blood and boosting energy. Looking at her journal I was excited to see things like Tomatoes, Basil, Cauliflower, Guacamole, Quinoa, Kale and Brussels Sprouts all a part of my standards and favorites but I was sad that there was little to no fruit.
Day 1
Breakfast: 100 calorie bagel,1egg, 1/2 tomato and basil water with bitters, kelp, chlorophyll, coffee
Lunch: Yogurt
Dinner: Baked fish, mashed potatoes and roasted cauliflower, beer

Day 2
Breakfast: Coffee with kelp capsules
Lunch: Green smoothie with kelp capsules
Dinner: Yogurt and Collard greens

Day 3
Breakfast: Raisin Bran with Almond milk
Lunch: None
Dinner: Cereal and Almond milk
Snack: Homemade guacamole

Day 4
Breakfast: Coffee with kelp capsules, bitters, 1 egg and wheat toast
Lunch: Yogurt
Dinner: Cereal with Almond milk
Snack: Popcorn with butter

Day 5
Breakfast: 100 calorie bagel, kelp capsules, bitters and chlorophyll water, coffee
Lunch: Whole wheat sandwich thins with mozzarella and home made tomato sauce
Dinner: Buffalo wings, oven roasted potato thins, baby Kale and Brussels sprout salad with Quinoa

Many people think that fruit is loaded with sugar and is the enemy for weight loss but it’s just the opposite! The fiber, water content and antioxidants are your friend when thinking about your health and your weight.  The fiber in fruit can make you feel full longer and is helpful in giving our guts good bacteria.  So unless your Dr. recommends that you give it up, eat the fruit!  Some of the best times to eat fruit are as breakfast or in between meals so your body can absorb all of the great vitamins and nutrients it has to offer, don’t eat it too late at night as the natural sugars might keep you up.

As a runner there are two fruits that you must add to your diet.  Bananas and oranges.  Why? Because eating a banana or two before your run can help you with an energy boost and helps to sustain your blood sugar. These tasty sweet treats are full of fiber and help to curb cravings.  I love to put browned peeled bananas in the freezer.  You can use them for smoothies or one of my favorite recipes non-dairy ice cream. 

Banana "Nice" Cream

5 frozen bananas
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

Take bananas out of freezer and let set for 5 minutes.  Add the bananas and vanilla to a Vitamix or High powered blender.  Blend until bananas are smooth and the consistency of ice cream about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  Scoop out into serving dish and top with cinnamon.  This is by far one of my favorite desserts served with chopped nuts and berries.  I am not ashamed to say that I've also had it for breakfast.  Beats a smoothie any day.

Oranges are in peak season in the winter and are a juicy and refreshing snack after a work-out and loaded with Vitamin C which is great in helping to repair sore tired muscles after a good work out. Go for the Navels or Cara Cara that are full of flavor and easy to peel.
Fruit are the carbs that runners need to fuel our bodies and helps us perform better and to restore our energy reserves. Just adding these Oranges and Bananas to your diet will not only provide you with vitamins, nutrients, fiber and energy but they are perfectly sweet and satisfying without leaving you with the post pastry guilt.

So my friend I look forward to our next run and you kicking my butt- I mean motivating me to go further - and the bag full of fruit that I'll bring to celebrate a great finish.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

5 Questions for a Vegan- Michelle Johnson

I didn't start on the path to my way of eating because of ethical reasons or for health reasons but because I was pregnant with my one and only daughter and the sight, smell and thought of meat made me sick.  So naturally after giving birth I thought I would go back to my Corn Beef specials from Koch's in University City and the Stuffed Veal Chop from the cute little Italian restaurant in South Philly where my husband and I enjoyed a couple of our anniversary dinners.  But instead I made the choice to stay meat free.  When I made this choice I was all alone, there was no social media support groups for my kind and my friends and family had no idea what to feed me.  Even my husband was on a Steak and Eggs kick for a while and there I was trying my best to figure out what to I was going to feed me and my meat free child.  So when I was thinking about some things to share, I thought it might be helpful to interview people that I know who have plant based lifestyles and ask them 5 questions about their journey to help you with yours and to know that you are not alone.
My first plant based eater is Michelle Johnson a vegan home cook who's YouTube channel VeganCookingWithLove  helped me to not be afraid of tofu and how easy it is to make delicious vegan food that you can be proud to serve. I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle through a mutual vegan friend's social media page and finally got to meet her in person this Fall over dinner. We hit it off quickly with our love for food and willingness to order and eat the whole menu while our "dates" talked business. 
So here are my 5 questions to Michelle about her plant based lifestyle.

1) How and when did you become vegan?
"I became vegan in September of 2009 after listening to multiple episodes of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Food for Thought podcast."

2) What is your favorite "go to" meal?
"I don't think I actually have one. Maybe I need one. It might keep me from having to think so much when I'm doing my meal planning. Pasta with marinara sauce is always easy though."

3) What product can you not live without? 

"Earth Balance!"

4) What was hard to give up to become vegan?

"It wasn't hard to give up anything because my reasons for becoming vegan were not personal. Once I learned about factory farming, I knew I didn't have a choice. There was no way I was going to continue participating in that horrific business. I do miss seafood and certain desserts that require 3 or more eggs!"

5) What's your favorite vegan restaurant?

"Ipanema Cafe in Richmond, VA is my favorite local vegan restaurant."
Thank you Michelle for all that you do and the inspiration you are to the plant based lifestyle.  Hopefully one day we can meet at Ipanema CafĂ©, order the whole menu and pick up where we left off.