Jul 2, 2012

Vegan Apple French Toast A La Mode

A warm french toast, crispy on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside, tastes a lot like a freshly made donut! When topped with apple pie filling, creamy soy vanilla ice cream, and a drizzle a little maple syrup, you will be transformed.
This was a good alternative to good old American apple pie, and it was easy and fun to make!  I used thick cut bread (Texas toast- found a vegan one!).  I made this for friends at a get together for dessert, and everyone gobbled them up.  This recipe is an adaptation of the "Fronch Toast" from VWAV.  I subbed the coconut milk for the soy creamer, because it was what I had on hand, but it doesn't have a strong coconutty flavor.  A lot of people asked me what was in the batter, since I didn't use eggs.  The "secret" ingredient is the chickpea flour- that is a must!

You can also top with a variety of toppings.  Toasted coconut was excellent!  Allow guests to assemble themselves, and offer more than one topping.

Makes 12-16 slices (you can halve the recipe if cooking for just a few people, but keep in mind that most will want more than one)

12-16 slices Texas Toast bread
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup soy milk
3 Tbsp. corn starch
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chickpea flour
vegetable oil for pan frying

Whisk together all ingredients, with chickpea flour last.  Whisk until just combined.  A few clumps is ok.  Heat a non-stick skillet and add a few tablespoons of oil for frying.  Dip bread (fresh, no need to dry) into batter to thoroughly coat both sides, letting excess batter drip off before frying them for a couple minutes on each side. Turn down heat if it gets too dark too quick.

Jun 18, 2012

Vegan Spelt Quinoa Cornbread

According to the three-digit temperatures we've been having, it is now officially summer.  Out comes the watermelon, the extra sunscreen (and extra leg-shaving, yikes!), air conditioning on full blast, and of course, the outdoor barbeque.
This cornbread is definitely a great thing to bring to one.  Not only is it super moist and fluffy, but it also brings a punch of nutritious goodness with the addition of some cooked quinoa (no one will know)... the perfect carby side dish!

2 cups soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups white spelt flour (all purpose flour should work too)
1 1/4 cups yellow corn meal
1 cup cooked golden quinoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Add the apple cider vinegar to the soymilk and let curdle for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk together all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add the remaining wet ingredients to the vinegar soymilk mixture, then mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.  Pour mixture into a 9 x 13" prepared baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
Serve warm with melted margarine or at room temp. Makes 12-16 servings

Jun 12, 2012

Back Into the Swing of Things!

It's been quite a while since I've posted, although I've thought about it plenty of times- during diaper changes, in the middle of the night while breast feeding, bouncing on a yoga ball with a little baby in my arms, you know- the usual times!  Yes, having a baby has been a "little bit of an adjustment," but it's been all worth it, and now I'm feeling like I can actually settle down and get back into the swing of things.  "Things," meaning stuff I used to do before baby... i.e. cooking, blogging, writing, DJing, etc.  
Although I haven't been cooking much for the past couple of months, I have been enjoying the luxury of eating great food cooked by my loved ones- thank God for loved ones!!!  I am so blessed to have people in my life that can cook, and cook vegan food at that!  
And now that baby Joshua is in our lives, you know we are going to start him in the kitchen early!  
Don't get me wrong, it's still quite a task to find time away from the intense draw of a newborn baby, and it's probably going to be a little rocky at first, but I'm eager to start sharing again.  SO EAGER!  
Baby Joshua at 8 weeks... dispelling the myth that vegan babies aren't healthy!

Here's to some more great adventures to come!

Apr 10, 2012

Newborn VegSpinz

Well I took a nice long break to look after myself and the baby, who was born four days early, due to an unexpected C-Section.  My blood pressure was too high for my doctor's comfort, and off I went to the hospital for surgery prep!

I have to confess, it was pretty scary, as I was conscious the whole time.  I was really grateful to have my husband there to console me, and tell me what was happening, although he probably felt like fainting a few times!

I recovered remarkably (I was told), and am doing well... so is baby Joshua.  Born April 2nd at just under 7 pounds, I was so glad he wasn't an April Fool's baby.  Here he is smiling at 4 days old!  I still can't stop staring at him.

Feb 7, 2012

Sacramento VegFest 2012

(Photos by Mark Storm Photography)
I was excited to go to the Sacramento VegFest this past weekend for my birthday.  Yes, it was small, but very well attended.  Chef AJ (above) demonstrates how to make easy raw chocolate peanut butter date bon-bons to an entertained crowd.  Ending her demo with a special rendition of "Love Will Keep Us Together," her comedic energy kept everyone laughing and energized until the very end.  The bon-bons were very rich and yummy too.

Chef Brooke Preston of Green Boheme was there, and we tasted samples of a very delicious carrot ginger cashew soup.  Unfortunately, we missed her demo, but she did end up winning two awards for her raw vegan food!

Another notable was the meat-free products from Fry's Vegetarian.  The samples of Beef-Style Chunky Strips and Chicken-Style Nuggets were delicious, and should be available now or soon at your local Whole Foods and health food stores.  They tout products that have no meat, egg, or dairy, are non-GMO, and have no artificial colors or preservatives, or hydrogenated fats.  I haven't checked the pricing, but they are imported from South Africa and have been popular in Europe and other countries.

The nice people at V-Dog gave us a free sample of their vegan dog food.  My picky wolf hybrids and Jack Russell don't particularly like it, but we have been informed that they are coming out with a new and improved formula soon.  I'm anxious to see if they'll give it a paws up!

Chef Dawna Destafeno of Azna Gluten Free, was working hard to serve attendees free samples of her delicious gluten free Italian bread.  She also won an award for her soy-free vegan lasagna.

Overall, we had a lot of fun hanging out with fellow veggies, and it was a nice treat to get out of the house for my birthday!  Thanks, Mark, for taking me and becoming VegFest's official photographer for the day!

Feb 1, 2012

The Groundhog's Shadow

When Groundhog Phil felt a cold winter chill, he ventured out from his hole.
Slowly with care, sniffing ground and the air, he emerged from the crumbly knoll.

Every year he would pose with a quivering nose, to feel for winter’s harsh sting.
For if it were true, it was a groundhog’s cue, to fall into a deep sleep ‘til Spring.

“Are those snowflakes up there, dancing on air?” asked Phil in a state of confusion.
He crept further to see if it truly could be, a sign of winter or just an illusion.

The sun on his back casted a shadow of black, for which Phil was just not prepared.
Living underground, where only dirt was abound, made him touchy, nervous, and scared.

Phil leapt up in fright at the very sight of the shadowy figure in tow.
Wherever he went, right-left-circumvent! - the shadow just would not let go!

Running circles in panic and feeling quite manic, Phil scurried back towards his den.
But then he stumbled as something rumbled, in the sky where he looked up again.

A grayish cloud covered the sun like a shroud, and made Phil’s shadow disappear.
“Don’t be a fool!” said a voice so cruel.  “The only thing that can hurt you is fear.”

Phil shook as he took a look, up at the angry puff.
“But what of lightning and all things frightening, like monsters and aliens and stuff?”

“A life full of stress only works to oppress,” said the thunderous cloud.
“Who knows what you could achieve if only you believe, that you are brave, wise, and proud!”

Phil was in awe as he saw, an image of himself that he never knew.
He felt inspirations for aspirations, and his excitement and confidence grew!

He would not fear again, leaving his den, for a whole new world awaited.
Experiences around could surely be found, and this fact could not be debated!

Phil proudly stood as tall as he could, and proclaimed without a shake,
“Bravely I will stay above ground today, and progress I will surely make!”

The cloud was beaming and light came streaming, as it drifted away from the sun.
Phil’s shadow was there, but he shrugged without care, and so his new life had begun!

Spring was a thing that came early that year, to reward a groundhog’s revelation.
All beings were touched by the story so much, that they came together in a great celebration!
Original Poem by DJ Karma 2012
Coconut body, almond ears, pecan feet, coconut flake teeth and eyes, and raisin eyeballs
Quick Coconut Agar Pudding...
For the recipe, go to:
 Veggie Kids Blog   

There's a nice interview about me there too :-)

Hey, what's kicking?  7 months down / 2 to go!

Happy Groundhog's Day!

Jan 1, 2012

FoodBuzz 24: A Vegan Year of The Dragon

The Dragon and the Rainbow Goblin
by DJ Karma

Once upon a time, a baby dragon hatched from a very large speckled egg.  He was named Zephyr, after the warm west winds that whistled past his family's large cavern on the day he was born.

Zephyr grew incredibly fast, to become a gigantic and beautiful water dragon.  He had a long undulating body, punctuated by hundreds of pointy, multi-colored scales that poked out of the water when he swam.  His colorful armor reflected the rays of sunlight that shone down through the afternoon waters, as he glided effortlessly through the underwater world in which he spent most of his time.  All other water creatures skirted out of his way whenever he passed, because water dragons were considered the largest, the most powerful, and one of the few magical creatures in the world.

One day, as young Zephyr lazily sunbathed on the shore of the Great Sea, a large shadow flew over him.  He looked up to see a mighty eagle flying by overhead.  She looked down at him and screeched happily as she passed.  He waived back, and looked in awe at her broad wings that flapped rhythmically in the sky.  He looked at his own shoulders, and wondered why he didn’t have the wings to fly like the majestic eagles.

“Oh, how wonderful it would be to soar through the boundless skies!  If only I had the wings to do it,” he said dreamily.  “I would give anything to be able to fly!”  

Zephyr spent the next few days questioning his elder dragons about how he could obtain wings to fly.  All of them laughed at such an absurd ambition.  After all, water dragons were… well, water dragons!

Frustrated and determined, the young dragon decided to go on a special quest to find the secret of flight.  So Zephyr set out to ask the one being that would have the most answers in the dragon realm- The Moon, for The Moon was the controller of the sea and all things water related.  But first, he had to climb to the distant mountaintop of Mount Luna in order to get close enough to be heard.

Day and night, Zephyr trekked through forests and swam across rivers.  He climbed treacherous cliffs and steep ravines, until finally he reached the beautiful broad plateau of Mount Luna.  He peered over the edge of the mountain, and saw the spectacular view of green tree tops and dazzling blue waters, and in the faint distance, the tiny spec that was his sea cavern. 

It was still daylight, so he decided to take a nap and wait for the Moon to come out.  “Soon I will find out the secret of flight, and maybe I’ll even have wings to fly home!” he said excitedly to himself.

“So you want to fly, do you?” said a high-pitched cackling voice.  Zephyr was stunned to find a little greenish, wrinkly-faced goblin peering at him with little black eyes and big pointy ears.  Before Zephyr could answer, the little goblin changed to a pale pink. 

“You don’t need wings to fly- all you have to do is come to me.  For I have the magic that can make things happen!” he said sweetly.

Zephyr looked at the creature incredulously.  He knew goblins were very powerful, but could be greedy and conniving as well.  “I’m sorry, sir, but I have no gold to pay you.”

“Oh no, young dragon.  It is not gold I seek,” said the goblin, as he peered at Zephyr with his unblinking eyes.  “You see, I’m a rainbow goblin, and I feast on the colors of the rainbows.”  The goblin stood proudly as he turned a dazzling royal blue.

“But The Moon doesn’t like to share the rainbows, and would much rather horde all the delicious colors and distribute them at his will.  Those lowly plants and animals don’t deserve the colors as much as a powerful and magical being as myself! … and, uh… you, of course!”

Zephyr looked down at his own multi-colored armor.  “But what do the rainbow colors have to do with flying?” he asked.

The goblin danced excitedly, and explained his plan to distract The Moon and seize the next great rainbow, which was to be born after the next great rain.  In the distance, there was a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning, as the skies grew dark for the impending storm.
“I will give you the power of flight, but you must fly up and divert The Moon’s attention.  When I get my rainbow, I will make your power permanent!”

So excited was Zephyr at the prospect of flying, that he agreed impetuously to help the goblin.  And so they waited for the storm, and for the small window of time, when The Moon used the rays of the morning sun to form a rainbow.

The heavy rains pounded the mountain all night and felt heavenly to the water dragon.  The rains finally subsided to a light drizzle, as the heavy clouds parted and dawn broke to shed an early morning light. 

The Moon descended through the haze, a large softly glowing sphere, and as the arms of the sun’s morning rays reached out to illuminate the sky, a brilliant rainbow arched over the land.  “Now is the time!” yelled the rainbow goblin, as he raised his arms. “Fly, dragon, fly!”

Zephyr felt his insides churn, as if his body was being filled with air.  Suddenly, he started to float upwards, like a large writhing balloon.  “I’m flying!” screamed Zephyr in astonishment. 

“Yes, yes,” screeched the goblin.  “Now remember our agreement!” 

Zephyr nodded and soared upwards towards the moon.  He felt the wind rushing through his scales and the exhilaration of pure power.  The Moon grew ever larger as Zephyr approached, and soon the flying dragon caught The Moon’s eye.

“What is this?” asked The Moon in a booming voice.  “I’ve never seen such as sight!  How does a water dragon fly without wings?”

Zephyr looked upon The Moon in awe for a moment.  “Good morning, your highness,” said the dragon timidly.  “I- I traded some gold with a goblin in exchange for the power to fly without wings,” lied the dragon.

“My, my,” said The Moon in amused admiration.  “That is an incredible ambition, but you must excuse me right now.  I am in the middle of distributing the rainbow colors so our world can be more rich and beautiful.

“But what should happen if the world does not receive the colors?” asked the dragon hastily.

“The colors are not just for outer beauty,” replied The Moon.  “They are filled with energy and love from me and The Sun, and they bring hope and prosperity to all who receive.  If the world does not receive the rainbow’s colors, everyone shall wither and suffer.”

Zephyr suddenly felt ashamed.  “Please do not let me interrupt your important work, your highness!” 

But when Zephyr returned to the mountain, it was too late.  The rainbow goblin had already stolen the rainbow and was nowhere to be found.  Zephyr looked all around frantically, but saw only a world sadly devoid of color.  He himself started to feel depressed, as he noticed his own armor fading of its once magnificent hues.

From the high mountaintop, Zephyr peered all around, desperately looking for any sign of the rainbow goblin.  The plants, sea, and all the land’s animals seemed sickened and graying.  Then, for a brief moment, Zephyr saw a flash of rainbow colors in the nearby woods, next to a large gray boulder.  Weakened and no longer able to fly, Zephyr was still determined to find the goblin and convince him to return the stolen rainbow.  So he set off down the mountain and towards the boulder that was sure to be the goblin’s secret lair.

After slipping and sliding down the large mountain, and trekking through the dreary woods, he finally reached the big gray boulder.  Exhausted, he looked all around the boulder, but all was quiet. 

“Goblin!” roared Zephyr, his anger rising.  “Come out and face me!”

But there was no response.  Inside Zephyr’s chest, grew a feeling of intense rage.  He felt his throat burning hot, and puffs of smoke streamed out of his nostrils.  Suddenly, he opened his mouth to roar and flames of red-hot fire shot out, searing the big gray boulder until it glowed red as well.  Zephyr was somewhat surprised, as he had never used his fire before.
He had never been so angry before.  “Come out now, goblin, or I’ll turn your secret lair into ashes!”

A small door flung open from inside the charred boulder.  “Now, now, young dragon,” said the goblin sweetly as he finally emerged.  “I was just securing the rainbow, and was about to return to the mountain to make good on our agreement.  No need to be so angry!” 

But Zephyr didn't trust the goblin's words, and he didn’t care about flying anymore, in fact, he had forgotten all about it.  “I don’t want to fly.  I want you to return the rainbow, so The Moon can restore the world to its former glory!”

Return the rainbow?” laughed the goblin, who flashed a bright orange.  “I will not be returning anything, and your fire is no match for my magic!”

“Please, goblin,” pleaded Zephyr.  “The world is suffering and dying… because of me.  I will do anything you ask, if you return the rainbow now!” 

The goblin wrinkled his suddenly purplish face in thought.  “You have nothing I want,” said the goblin coldly.  “I already have what I want.” 

Zephyr suddenly had an idea.  “What if I could convince The Moon to create an even bigger rainbow?  Would you return the smaller one if I could help you steal an even bigger one?”

The goblin’s ears perked up.  “How big?” 
“At least twice the size,” said Zephyr confidently.
The goblin agreed, amused at the dragon’s efforts… for the thought of having two rainbows instead of just one, did sound very attractive indeed.

“Make me fly, and I will convince The Moon!” declared Zephyr.  The goblin waved his hands and off he went, a wingless dragon soaring once again, up towards The Moon.

This time, The Moon looked much fainter against the brightened, yet colorless sky.  “Hello again, flying dragon,” greeted The Moon.
“Your Highness!” breathed Zephyr.  “I have made a terrible mistake, and because of my foolishness, your rainbow has been stolen!”  He continued to share his story with The Moon, ending with a tearful apology and the second agreement he made with the goblin, in hopes of tricking him into returning the rainbow. 

“Young dragon,” The Moon chuckled.  “I know this goblin.  He has been trying to steal my rainbows for centuries.  He has finally succeeded... and he has no intention on returning anything, or keeping any promises.  It is true that your actions have made the world suffer, but learning from one’s mistakes is one of the greatest achievements in life, and I am proud.”

Zephyr blushed.  “But what should we do about the goblin?  Do you think we can get the rainbow back from him?”

The Moon chuckled again.  “I will create another rainbow for the world, but alas, I do not believe that we will ever get the stolen rainbow back.  But you might be surprised at just how things work out, when one does not learn from their mistakes.”

With that, The Moon conjured up another storm, and another rainbow.  And, he was so impressed with Zephyr’s honesty and morality, that he gave the power of everlasting flight for all water dragons.  To Zephyr, he also gave a magic pearl that glowed with the powers of The Moon, and Zephyr became the Guardian of the Sea, the Giver of Rain, and The Protector of Rainbows.  Since then, the magic pearl and its magical responsibilities have been passed down from generation to generation of worthy young water dragons.

As for the rainbow goblin, his greed became his downfall.  Never did he have an entire rainbow all to himself.  So he feasted… and feasted… and feasted on the stolen rainbow colors.  Soon he became drunk from his overindulgence, and something unexpected happened.  All the excessive colors had mixed together inside his body and turned him a permanent dull brown.  Since his magical powers were based on the brilliance and delicate balance of the rainbow colors, he could no longer do any magic… nor any magical mischief ever again.

-The End-
This tale was inspired by the book “The Rainbow Goblins” by Ul De Rico, ancient myths about the wingless Chinese dragons, and my son Joshua, who is to be born this year- The Year of the Dragon.

Happy 2012!  
The Lunar New Year isn't until January, but unless you're Asian American, it's not widely celebrated in the U.S.  According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2012 is The Year of the Dragon- the most powerful of all the signs.  And, what better way to celebrate than to throw a "Dragon Party" to ring in the new year?

Here are some dragon-themed foods I served...
Cucumber and Carrot Dragon
Spicy Dragon Wontons
Coconut Cupcakes with Almond Dragon Scales
We had so much fun, we forgot to take pictures!  I mostly caught people eating cupcakes.