Sunday, July 29, 2012

Recipe: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Energy Bites [Energy Bite Attempt #1]

You've heard that pregnant women are ravenous and eat all the time, right? Crave weird things? Always eating? Sounds familiar. It's true that your body burns about an 300-400 calories a day while you're pregnant, building that baby and all that. What you probably don't know (unless you've been through it yourself) is that you burn 500-600 extra calories a day nursing. And you are freaking hungry all the time. Especially when you make the transition to a plant-based diet and are eating lower-calorie meals, even if you are cramming your face at mealtimes.

In fact, in a recent study, 100% of Ians polled about their wives' hunger complaints were, to quote "fed up." One annoyed source said, "We ate like two hours ago. Seriously!"

The latest scientific data on Ians and their wives' hunger.
After spending admittedly way too much time on Pinterest lately, I've come across dozens of recipes for vegan energy balls. Apparently, there are a million ways to make these. What a great solution to my nearly-always gnawing sense of hunger!

Today was the first attempt, and I give it a B on the success scale. Easy? Super. Delicious? Yup. But the texture isn't quite right; they're a little crumbly and it was difficult to roll them into balls. I also think I would toast my wheat germ next time as there is a bit of a grainy aftertaste. They firmed up nicely though, so maybe I needed to chill them for more than 30 minutes.

But, and I can say this confidently as I was "helping" my mix as I was making it, these fit the bill, at least for now. Ian is also a little obsessed.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Energy Bites [Energy Bite Attempt #1]
These should make around 24 bites. Or a little less if you happen to sample the dough a few times while you're mixing it to make sure it's absolutely delicious.

 - 1 cup oatmeal
 - 2/3 cup unsweetened, raw coconut flakes
 - 1/2 cup ground wheat germ (I would like to try ground flax seeds next time, or toast and then chill the wheat germ in advance)
 - 1/2 to 2/3 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter (I used a 1/2 cup and I think it needs more)
 - 1/3 cup agave nectar
 - 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
 - 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet dairy-free chocolate chips

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the oatmeal, coconut, and wheat germ/ground flax together.
  2. Add the peanut butter, agave nectar, and vanilla and stir until combined. Add the chocolate chips.
  3. Cover and refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes.
  4. Shape dough into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter by grabbing a large spoonful of dough, compressing in your palms a few times, and then rolling between your palms to smooth.
  5. Keep the energy bites refrigerated; most of the recipes I looked at said they should keep for about one week (as if they'll last that long!).
The Energy Bites are around 85 calories each with 3 grams of protein.

Variation #1: For the nut-lover, omit chocolate chips and add chopped walnuts instead. About 90 calories per Energy Bite, protein increases to 5.5 grams.

Variation #2: Omit chocolate chips and add 1/2 chopped craisins. About 85 calories per Energy Bite with 3.5g protein.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Recipe: Creamy Eggplant Stew

It's been so long since Ian and I have cooked a meal together! It was much easier when Felicity would sit in her bouncer seat on the kitchen table and happily watch us work, but now that she's quite mobile and wants lots of input, we typically have to delegate - one person on dinner, one person on baby watch.

Tonight, we improvised and put her Pack 'n Play in a corner of the kitchen, and were careful to avoid the usual dangers, such as knife-throwing, and flinging of hot vegetables.

This was a really lovely soup; very thick, creamy, and had wonderful depth. We added leeks to this stew because we had one that needed to be used. I'm not sure that it added anything, but it certainly didn't detract from the stew. We also used dried chickpeas (they're cheaper!), cooking them while we did the food prep and started the vegetables.

In addition, this delicious soup is pretty low-cal at about 230 calories per serving, has lots of protein, and is high in iron, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. What's not to love?

Creamy Eggplant Stew
Adapted from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions

 2 Tbsp. oil (separated)
1/2 onion, diced
1 leek, chopped and rinsed well (optional)
1 lb eggplant (about two small), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 tsp. salt
3 garlic cloves, minced/crushed
6 oz. tomato paste
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (slightly more if desired)
1-2 Tbsp. garam masala (to taste)
2 1/2 cups water (supplement chickpea water if you cooked them yourself)
16 oz canned chickpeas or 1/2 dry chickpeas, fully cooked
1/4 cup chopped parsley

  1. Heat dutch oven over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. oil. Add diced onion, and cook until softened. Add leek and eggplant and the rest of the oil. Toss well to coat vegetables and add salt. Cook, stirring often, to soften the egpplant (about eight minutes).
  2. Add garlic, tomato paste, peanut butter, and garam masala. Stir to coat vegetables and cook for one minute until fragrant. Slowly add water (or cooking liquid) and stir to incorporate (veggie mixture will be thick), then add the chickpeas.
  3. Bring stew to a simmer, than reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Take off of the heat and let soup rest for a few minutes.
  5. Serve with chopped parsley.
Six Servings.
About 230 calories per bowl, 20 grams of protein

Excellent Morning Edition Story: A Nation of Meat Eaters

It amazes me how blind I was to the environmental destruction caused by my diet. This story by Morning Edition  highlights why the habits of the world's elite countries is unsustainable and unhealthy for the earth and our bodies.
So, think about your own bathtub. You'd have to fill it 140,000 times. I mean, that's far more than you'd fill it in a lifetime, right? That's how much water it takes to produce one ton of beef. And if you break this down to an individual quarter-pound hamburger, it works out to be about 53 gallons of water for one burger.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Ultimate Vegan Baking Cheat-Sheet

As found on MindBodyGreen:

Weekly Menu

I'm pretty late in posting our menu for the week, but we were also late in making it. As Ian blogged a few days ago, we've been doing our best to clean out the fridge of all dairy and such. I thought it was easing the transition, until one night I made a leek and goat cheese tart, with a homemade crust. Oh well.

But... I made our first vegan weekly menu, and we took our first vegan shopping trip at the local co-op in Ann Arbor. I'm currently reading through The Complete Guide to Vegan Substitutes: 200 Foolproof Food Substitutions for Everything from Milk to Meat to Sugar and Soy, a handy and humorously-written guide to vegan cooking with lots of fun recipes, so most of our food this week is gleaned from that little book.

Weekly Menu
Ramen with Oyster Mushrooms, Carrots, and Seitan
Tofu, Snap Peas, and Mushrooms in Green Curry with Rice Noodles
Linguine with a Walnut & Parsley Pesto and Green Beans
Scrambled Tofu with Green Chiles and Spinach, served with Tortillas (we are a little obsessed with Ezekiel tortillas, so delicious and a great source of protein!)
Eggplant Stew (with Chickpeas in it!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Introducing — Not vegan yet — Soy Lattes

Rachel and I have in the past made several efforts—mostly half-hearted—at eating responsibly, by shopping local, eating only conscientiously-raised meat and dairy, etc. But that's a fool's errand. It's expensive, for one. Peace of mind—at least the kind you're told you can buy—is mostly for the affluent, which we're not. $8 a pound for pork chops? That dog won't hunt. It always ended the same way: we'd observe that we couldn't afford a conscience, and kind of let it go for a while. But that was never good enough.

My line of work does little harm, in virtue of not doing much of anything. When you do philosophy, you can (absent some special circumstance) rest assured that you're not making anyone's life worse. I took solace in knowing that, apart from the evil in which I was complicit as a late-capitalist consumer, I wasn't making things worse. That's no equilibrium: I needed a way to reduce my consumption complicity. Vegan seems a good way to do that.

It'll be a while before my apprenticeship ends. My thinking has to change in many ways, great and small, and so do my appetites, which takes more time. My friend R., a vegan for many years whom I admire greatly, told me she considers Vegan a road to walk, rather than an elimination checklist. I like this; it makes it seem less like we're on a diet and more like we're aiming in some meaningful way at making things better, if only by omission.

We're not vegan yet; I hate wasting food, and there's some cheese and butter in our fridge. So the animal consumption continues (at least for the moment), but the animal purchase has stopped. Going forward, we no longer participate in the meat and dairy industry.

Still not sure how I feel about fish. It was always going to be the hardest food group for me to give up, and the horror stories you hear largely leave fish out (though the fishing and farm-raising industry is an environmental catastrophe). Perhaps I'll deny myself the full label and keep enjoying the fruits of the sea. We can save that for later.

Felt a concrete cost of changing today: no more lattes, apparently. "But there's soy milk," one might say. Yes, you can combine coffee with soy juice (it's no more a "milk" than what drips from a squeezed orange), but it amplifies the coffee's native bitterness (which the milk is supposed to soothe) and chai tea fares no better: the flavor is pinched and false and unpleasant. So substitution yields to replacement. It won't be the last time, of course.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Meat's Not Green

Here's an introduction on how eating meat is harmful for the environment by Peta


Two weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to revert back to vegetarianism. I was a vegetarian for over six years and, frankly, just got lazy, and then rediscovered that I like to eat meat. However, as I've been eating meat for the past several years, I have not been blissfully unaware of the consequences of my actions. I knew that, unless my meat was purchased from a trustworthy, local farmer who was committed to organic and humane farming, my meat-eating supported a dirty, scary business that is environmentally hazardous.

So, when I announced to Ian, "I'm going to stop eating meat tomorrow," as we were getting into bed, he nodded his head.

"Okay. I'll become a vegetarian too." (I mean really, what a guy.) "Why do you want to stop eating meat?" he asked.

I thought about it. "It's really fifty-fifty, between the inhumane ways animals are raised and then killed, and the terrible environmental impact of the meat industry."

"So really, you are thinking vegan," he said.

"I guess? But I'm just not ready. I like ice cream and yogurt too much."

That was fine, we committed to stop eating meat together.

 - - - 

Last night, as I was cooking dinner, I downloaded several podcasts from Vegan-Vegetarian Solutions for a Sustainable Environment. We listened to them as I sauteed our eggplant and tomatoes, and attempted to fry quinoa cakes (this is difficult to do, by the by), as we ate dinner, and as we sat in bed before falling asleep.

By the end of the third podcast (a really interesting and informative interview with Richard Schwartz), we knew we had to make the switch.

 - - -

So here you find a new blog. We are transitioning into a plant-based diet together, and will write about our experiences, research, and food as we explore together.