Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dolphin-Free Tuna!

My mom was kind of confused when I asked her the other day how she used to make tuna when I was a kid.  I didn't really like tuna when I did eat meat, and when I read on a can "Dolphin Free" probably in 2nd or 3rd grade, my tuna adventures were over once I learned that sometimes when they're out looking for tuna- dolphins accidentally get caught.  So, when creating this mock tuna I used my mom's spoken word recipe and what I can remember from eating tuna in early grade school.

Mom was probably confused for a number of reasons when I asked her about the canned tuna "salad" she used to create.  First, I don't eat animals and second I don't like mock meats (and she may have been confused because I asked for a recipe from her and she's not blessed in the kitchen).  While its true that I don't care for mock meats, this is different that tofu crusted wheat gluten with seasoning.  This is simple food, good food that would be great without coming up with a cute name for it and a cute way to prepare it.  But cuteness is fun, right?

The mock tuna starts with a base of raw soaked nuts or seeds.  I used a 1/3 cup of each walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds, but all of one of the above would be okay.  To get a pink-ish color I added in one cup of carrots and processed with celery seeds, lemon juice, and dulse in the food processor.  I stirred in the nut pate with chopped celery and coated with a mayo made of cashews, but smashed avocado or your favorite vegan mayo would work great to get a tuna salad consistency.  Stuff in romaine leaves or roll in cucumber slices.  The dulse (a seaweed) adds a salty seafood flavor that also gives the tuna salad a nutrient burst.  This isn't like Star Kist, but you can eat this at your desk without your friends commenting on how awful your lunch smells.  Oh!  And its dolphin free :)

My new website is up and running:
I'll cross-post a few more entries, but soon everything will be over on that .com :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Chocolates and Other Sweet Treats!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!  How are you celebrating?
I know some people celebrate this day as an excuse to get together with friends and drink (green beer).  I spent the day with family and friends- including meeting up with Brandon of hyperion herbs to make green chocolates!
I've been dreaming of making white chocolate since I got my hands on raw cacao butter.  The light colored base was perfect to add a little chlorella to make it green and festive.  This version of white chocolate was made rich, creamy and sweet by lucuma powder.  Its an energizing sweet treat with maca and bee pollen- and I added in some vanilla, mesquite powder, and stevia just to make it extra delicious.

Green Chocolate Bites with Goji Berries

1/4 cup melted cacao butter
1 tbs coconut oil
3 tbs lucuma
1 tsp mesquite
1 tbs maca
2 tbs bee pollen
1 tsp vanilla
6 drops of liquid stevia
1 tbs of chlorella (optional)

Stir everything into cacao butter that's been melted in a double boiler.  Top with gojis, or throw them in the chocolate.  Freeze for 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

What is chlorella?  Its an algae that's cousins with the better known spirulina or blue-green algae.  I like the name because it reminds me that its full of chlorophyl.  Any green powder will work to tint your chocolates.  Or add to dark chocolate for a nutritional burst :)

We weren't done making chocolate- Brandon brought over some of his awesome reishi , he shou wu , and cordyceps to mix in with raw cacao powder and other goodies to make some truly medicinal chocolates.

We made cinnamon herbal chocolate squares with gojis thrown in, chocolate maca butter cups,
chocolate coconut truffles, and chocolate turtle bites.  All raw, all sugar free and dairy free.

Chocolate Turtle Bites

10 dates soaked and pitted
2 tbs coconut oil
12 raw walnut halves plus 1/4 cup to grind up (all soaked)
pinch sea salt
melted chocolate

In your food processor make date caramel using finely chopped dates and coconut oil and let it run until its the consistency of caramel.  Take half of the date caramel out of the processor and add 1/4 cup walnuts, a pinch of sea salt, and vanilla in with the remaining caramel.  Process until sticky.  In mini-muffin cups, or just on a plate- layer a small round flat thingy of the date/walnut stuff, a rolled ball of the date caramel, a walnut half, and spoon some melted chocolate over it.  Freeze and enjoy!
I got all fancy with my melted chocolate with raw cacao butter and raw cacao powder and the whole shebang.  You can keep this recipe casual by melting a chocolate bar or chocolate chips you have hanging out around the house.  In the picture the one on the left is cut in half.  You can make these bite sized or roll them out into a layered bar or get as fancy/casual as you'd like.  I'm not precise in my food making- it should be a stress reliever not a stress causing thing for you!

Chocolates To-Go!

What is your favorite chocolate treat?  I love blended hot chocolate drinks with plenty of spice (cinnamon and cayenne), but my maca butter cups and raw chocolate truffles are favorites too.  Sometimes I bring a bag of cacao nibs to snack on at work or school.  How do you add chocolate into your daily routine?

Also, get ready for a change.  I'm working on ... Aura's Vegan Kitchen will still be around, but I'm looking to gain more readers by taking away the vegan emphasis (not that I'm switching up my diet) and talk about other stuff besides food that I'm into.  Did you know I'm passionate about massage and body work and especially natural healing?  I'll be talking about that more.

Thanks for stopping by,
<3 Aura

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Finds :)

I went out to the grocery tonight and got some new food stuff!  Averie always posts what she got at the grocery- so I'm giving it a shot, too.

So Delcious coconut milk yogurt, locally made kim chi, a sprouted sun salad, roasted pepitas from the bulk section, seaweeds, lara bars, and all organic produce- lemons, bananas, apples, red and green kale, parsley, ginger, sweet potatoes, cabbage, a pear, and a cucumber!

More super stuff:

I got the Vitamineral Green and the Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics online.  The bee pollen is locally sourced- perfect for preventing spring allergies!

Earlier today I had an amazing juice that was super cleansing and I want to share the recipe with you all-

Spring Cleaning Juice

4 ribs celery
2 granny smith apples
1 small knob of ginger
1/2 lemon
1 cup water

If you have a fancy juicer- this will go quickly for you- if not- blend (in the Vitamix), then strain through a fine mesh strainer or a nut milk bag... Or I've found that a mesh paint strainer from the hardware works just as well for straining nut milks and juices.  
I call it my spring cleaning juice because everything in the juice is so crisp and known to be cleansing to the body.  

Super Cheap Eats!

A filling vegan meal for less than $2 per plate?  Yes- its possible!

1 package of frozen organic mixed veggies- $1.99
1 package of frozen organic "spud puppies"- $1.79
2 cans of organic chickpeas- $0.89 each
2 cups of brown rice- $1.69/lb

I don't like to rely on frozen or canned stuff a lot.  Actually if time allowed- I'd choose to skip anything packaged at all, but sometimes its easy on the pocketbook.  This dinner was a "I-don't-want-to-go-grocery-shopping" dinner- and it worked out.  It's enough for 4 people to get pretty full. 

Chickpea Patties

onions or garlic (or skip this step)
1 package frozen veggies
chickpeas- drained, rinsed, and mashed
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (or any flour you have will work)
salt, curry powder, cumin, and any other indian spices you have on hand

saute onion/garlic until aromatic, add frozen veggies, mashed chickpeas, flour and spices and combine until veggies have de-thawed.  form into patties and fry or bake (at 425 for 25 minutes- flipping halfway thru)

Serve with brown rice that's been cooked with cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, and saffron.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sweet Maca!

My friend Adam LOVES maca.  He likes it so much that he practically eats it by the spoonful.  What is maca?  Its an Incan cousin to the radish that is crazy rich in nutrients like B-vitamins, zinc, potassium, magnesium, sterols, amino acids, fatty acids, and more calcium than milk.  It was an important part of an Incan warrior's diet and is available in powdered form here in the US at health food stores and online.
Maca is known as a hormone balancing adaptogen that provides strength and endurance as well as mental clarity.  I know some people who like maca on their popcorn, mixed into (coconut) yogurt, and in their morning smoothies.  I like maca best when its paired with chocolate.  Adam was over tonight, and although I still think he'd prefer to have maca alone, together we made two maca based desserts/snacks that I'm really excited about!

Raw Cacao Maca "Butter Cups"

Chocolate coating:
Cacao butter
Coconut oil
Agave nectar
Cacao powder
Lucuma powder
Mesquite powder

Maca filling:
.5 cup soaked almonds
.5 cup soaked cashews
1 cup maca
sea salt
2 dates, pitted plus 1/8 cup raw local honey

In a double boiler, melt cacao butter and coconut oil down.  I don't have exact measurements for the chocolate- feel it out.  Sugar would work instead of agave nectar.  Lucuma and mesquite are raw sweeteners and flavor enhancers that give raw chocolate an almost caramel taste.  They are not necessary to have great chocolate.  If you want to simplify- melt any good quality chocolate bar in a double boiler.
Turn the heat off and after chocolate cools slightly spoon into muffin tins.

The maca filling was actually doubled for the maca bars listed below- and it was made in the food processor.  I use raw, local honey and dates to sweeten and bind most of my nut mixtures.  [[I know honey isn't vegan.  I'm vegan first for health reasons- and I can't find a better cure for allergies than raw, local honey.  Plus its delicious and binds well in raw sweets :) ]] If you'd like to use only dates- I've found that 2 dates is about the same as 1 tbs of honey.  After the food processor mixes the maca "dough" roll into balls and then smoosh into flat pancake-ish shapes and throw on top of your chocolate hanging out in the muffin tins.  Spoon more chocolate over maca pancake-ish discs and freeze for at least 15 minutes.  

Cinnamon Maca Bars

.5 cup soaked almonds

.5 cup soaked cashews
1 cup maca
sea salt
2 dates, pitted plus 1/8 cup raw local honey
1 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 pinch cayenne

Process in food processor until a dough ball forms.  Flatten out into a small bar pan, freeze for at least 10 minutes and cut into squares.  Wrap in aluminum foil for easy transport.  
Better than Lara Bars!  Filled with Maca energy :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Quick and Simple Lunch

Quick and Simple are two words that have been describing my meals lately.  I like meals that let me work on homework while I'm in the prep process.  This meal was so simple and perfect for a blustery wintery day.  A baked sweet potato, a green salad with a creamy lemon dressing, and mashed chickpeas over quinoa.

First, an hour before I was ready to eat I set the oven to 400 and rubbed my sweet taters with olive oil and wrapped them tight with aluminum foil.  I measured out my quinoa and water in a 1:2 ratio and put in my rice cooker.  I stepped away and studied for about 30 minutes.  Then I grabbed a can of chickpeas and drained and rinsed them and let them hang out on the stove with 1 cup of water, 1 tsp cumin, a pinch of cayenne, and 1 tsp agave nectar (or sugar) covered on medium high stirring every few minutes.  I tore up my lettuce and cut up some veggies for a green salad.  In my blender I prepped the creamy lemon dressing-
half of a lemon- skin and all- 1/2 cup of cashews, sea salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, 1/4 cup of water, and 3 drops of stevia.
After the salad was prepped the quinoa and sweet potatoes were done- the only thing left was to roughly mash the chickpeas and plate the food!

I sprinkled the sweet potato with garam masala- but cinnamon would work just as well.