Monday, March 28, 2011

The Best Muffins in the World

Is there anything more difficult than trying to make breakfast when you have hungry kids in the house? I'm not sure there is. Every move you make is followed by "What are you doing? Is that my food? Can I eat it? Is it done? Is that mine? Is it pancakes?"  I was tempted to sit Marcus' whiny butt down with some cereal this morning and be done with it right there.

But I had a banana problem.

What was my banana problem? It's a case of banana amnesia I've been suffering from. I've been buying banana's every single time I go to the store, forgetting that I already have billions of bananas at home. And while the kids and I have been eating enough bananas to keep us in potassium for the rest of our days, I still had a few VERY ripe specimens in my kitchen.

So I decided it would be worth everyone's wait if I took some time to make the BEST MUFFINS IN THE WORLD.
These cook up pretty quickly and let me say, they are light as a feather, yet moist, rich and just sweet enough. They melt in your mouth. I have honestly, never in my life had a better muffin. I probably shouldn't be sharing the recipe with you, because it's mine, muwahahaha. But something this good cannot be owned by one woman.

I let Marcus lick the bowl (perks of vegan cooking) while these babies baked, and I'm pretty sure he agrees they were worth the wait.
Marcus ate four within 10 minutes. You should really make some soon. If you don't have the coconut extract, that's fine, but these absolutely cannot be made without the coconut butter.

The World's Best Banana-Coconut Muffins
Makes 16 Muffins

Ingredients:

3/4 cup nondairy milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 overripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup melted coconut butter
1 Tablespoon canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoons coconut extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl or cup, stir the vinegar into the milk and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl combine milk mixture, bananas, coconut butter, canola oil, sugar, vanilla and coconut extract. Mix with beaters until well combined (doesn't have to be completely smooth). Add wet ingredients to flour mix and stir until just combined, do not over-stir.

Spoon batter into muffin pans, greased and lined with cupcake liners. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Things I love

This quick little post is to talk about a few of my current obsessions in the food world.

1. Dave's Killer Bread
I know I've mentioned before that I love this bread, but it's seriously the only bread I buy. Organic, all-natural and extremely tasty - you can't go wrong with any of Dave's wonderful varieties. Each slice has extreme amounts of fiber as well, so they help me stay full thruout the morning. I'm so excited too, because they have a light variety - which is just as tasty! It's available all thruout the Pacific Northwest and is also carried in Costcos. You should definitely pick some up.

2. Green Leaf
This is, in my opinion, the best Vietnamese restaurant in Seattle - and it's only 4 blocks away from my work! It's a tiny hole-in-the-wall in the International District and it serves up some serious eats. The above pic is their Vegetarian Vermicelli. It's full of tofu, black mushrooms, fried garlic, veggie ham, radishes and more veggie goodness. It's ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and if you don't end up eating the entire gigantic bowl-full, there is something wrong with your tastebuds. 

3. Finish Quantum
Ok, so this is obviously not food, but if you cook as much as I do, you need these. Ever notice how a couple of years ago your dishwasher started sucking? This is because sulfates have been removed from detergents - GREAT for the environment, bad for clean-dish obsessives like me. I have been so frustrated with having to wash and rewash all of my dishes and then picking off gross bits of icky stuck on food. I was at the grocery store and these had a really nice display. I work in marketing and am therefore highly skeptical at all ads placed in front of me, but I must say that I fell for this - and I'm so glad I did!

My dishes are clean! Even my wine glasses sparkle! The spaghetti sauce stains came out of my tupperware! I'm so happy, I'm telling anyone who will listen to buy these dishwasher tablets (yes, I am getting a lot of strange looks). I'm totally serious here. I'm not, like, sponsored by the Finish people or anything. I'm just so excited to have clean dishes after three years of frustration. Buy them, you will love them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back on track

I'm going to ignore tonight's dinner at the local Mexican restaurant (totally vegan, but giant margarita the size of my head and bowl of chips doesn't exactly count as 'healthy') and say that this week has been going good in my return to healthy life.

Gold star for me!

Now there is of course a downside of getting back on the vegan train - detox. Getting all of the gross fat/sodium/chemicals out of your digestive system is not my idea of fun. I'm sure my coworkers thought I had food poisoning as I hobbled to the bathroom every 45 minutes. But it's starting to get better now, and my energy level is already increasing.

I'd like to say my mood has been increasing, but I'm PMSing right now, and there is no food that's going to make me feel better. Not even BBQ sandwiches:
That's fresh baked seitan smothered in bbq sauce with dijon mustard and Annie's Goddess dressing on a whole wheat bun.

Was it delicious? Yes. Did it lift my near homicidal PMS? No.

The only brief respite I had from my need to yell at everyone around me, delete my facebook, and cry about everything was the few hours that I spent at my brother's awesome variety show - The Ahamefule J. Oluo and Mike show.



It was a comedy, music, improv extravaganza of hilarious proportions. 

I also smiled a bit when I ate these enchiladas.
Yes, I am that attached to food.

These spinach enchiladas are inspired by two great and very different enchiladas. My ex's mother makes chicken and bean enchiladas with cream of mushroom soup. When she first made them, I was appalled and didn't want to try them. But once I did, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the creaminess of the mushroom soup rounded out the spiciness of the salsa. The second inspiration comes from every spinach enchilada I've ever eaten. I love them all, but I wish they had a bit more...substance. 

This enchilada casserole is a vegan best of both worlds. I added vegan cheese on top, but it is completely optional, in fact, not recommended. The creamy mushroom gravy adds more than enough. I only added the cheese for the kids, and they ended up scraping it off to get to the mushroom sauce.

These are quintessential comfort food: rich, creamy, filling, a bit spicy. But they are much healthier than - well the Mexican dinner I had tonight, that's for sure.

Spinach Enchiladas with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can black beans
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 1/2 Tablespoons Bragg's or soy sauce
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup nondairy milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup salsa verde
1/2 cup nondairy cheese (optional, I used Daiya)
12 corn tortillas

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add onions and garlic. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms. Saute, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to lightly brown. While mushrooms are cooking, heat spinach in the microwave in a medium bowl for 3 minutes or until warm. Add beans to spinach. Remove mushroom mixture from stove and scoop half into the spinach bowl. Add cumin and 1 Tablespoon Bragg's to spinach and toss lightly to mix.

Return remaining mushroom mixture to the stove and turn up heat to medium-high. Add vegetable broth and remaining Bragg's to mushrooms and heat until low boil. In a small container, mix the cornstarch with the cold milk and stir until there are no lumps. Add to the saucepan while stirring, and return to a low boil. Remove from heat, stir in the nutritional yeast, and salt to taste. Preheat your oven to 375.

In a casserole dish (I think the one I used was 8x10) ladle about a half cup of mushroom sauce in the bottom of the dish. Spread 6 tortillas (or more if you feel like it) over the sauce in the dish. Layer the spinach/bean mix on top, then another half cup of mushroom sauce, then 6 more tortillas, then the rest of the mushroom sauce, then the salsa verde, then the cheese - if using. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Adventures in Disneyland


As mentioned in my last post, I was able to take the kids to Disneyland a few weeks ago. When happy tax return time came, a few friends and I decided to take our kids on a big trip to Disney. My boys have never been to Disneyland - in fact, we've never had a family vacation.

I was so excited to buy the tickets. I decided to make it a complete surprise and not tell them until we got to the airport. I was expecting super-excited jumping, maybe some screaming. The response I got was, "No we're not. Want to hear a joke?"

Lack of initial enthusiasm aside, they did start to get a little excited as we watched the planes pulling in and out of the runway.
And once we got to Disneyland - it was magic.

As fun as Disneyland was, I learned a few valuable lessons:

1. No matter how hard you try to safeguard against it, your pottytraining toddler will pee on you only when you are farthest from the hotel.
2. Marcus does not like carousel horses.
 3. If you let your toddler into the bathroom with the Mickey hat on, there is a good chance he will accidentally drop it into the urinal and his brother will pee on it.
Bye bye mickey hat.
4. You should never EVER eat at a pirate themed buffet restaurant.
5. You will never get this song out of your head.

6. And you will never get this makeup off.
7. If you buy a bubble gun for your son, he will use it to attack any and all passersby.
8. You may have to pull your child, kicking and screaming, from this car.
9. And from Goofy's house. Hey, playing piano with your butt is fun.
10. And once Malcolm finds a ride he loves, you better love it too - cause you are going to go on it at least 6 times.
Well I think that's a nice snapshot of our 4 days in sunny California. It was definitely worth the billion dollars and I think we will go next year.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The prodigal blogger

Well, um...hey there! Been a long time, no? I'd like to say that my long, long, long absence from blogging has been due to the fact that I've been too busy being fabulous to type, but that's not true. I've been busy doing the following:
  •  working
  • eating bad things
  • drinking bad things
  • getting fat
I think I just lost my footing after Maui. I started eating more processed foods, more fish, some dairy - and before you know it, I had no self control and no energy to get my butt back to the gym.

Now, it hasn't all been bad. I did take the kids on our first real family vacation:

DISNEYLAND!


I have about 5 million more photos, but I won't post them now. It was truly a magical and exhausting time. I'm so glad that I got to give the kids such a treat.

In other adventures, Marcus is pottytraining. I'm not going to expand on that too much as I'm sure it's not beyond the imagination of any mother. Let's just say it's keeping me on my toes (and in laundry!).

I also redecorated my livingroom:
It's not the best picture, but I'm to lazy to take another right now.

But back to healthy living. I'm going to see my cousin in Dallas in a little over a month, and I want to be back on track before I go there. The truth is, my body is DESPERATELY craving healthier foods.

Here is my 30 day pledge:
  • Full vegan - no meat, no dairy
  • No coffee - ok, only one cup a day
  • 2 drink max on social outings
  • Candy only once a week
  • At least 2 blog posts a week
It all starts today. I have already started out my day with a nice tofu scramble and toast, along with a nice cup of tea. That alone has me feeling a bit better. I will post my progress as I go along.

Wish me luck!