Monday, September 22, 2014

Almost Raw Pumpkin Spiced Groatmeal

According to my calendar, it's officially fall, but since I'm still wearing flip flops, I'm not convinced.  The weather is slowly changing, which is unusual for Tennessee.  We typically go from 90 degrees to snowing over one weekend.  This year, though, I'm appreciating the gradual change.  It's allowing my to process my conflicting emotions... Sadness for not taking a beach vacation this summer, but hope for the coming holiday season.  Can you believe it'll be Christmas in just THREE MONTHS?!  Charlotte will be 18 months old next week, too.  We're halfway to her second birthday, and thinking about that makes me want to cry.  Time is going too fast.  

But in the spirit of change, and to help welcome the new season, I decided to go along with the most American of traditions, pumpkin spiced anything.  I made a big bowl of my favorite cool weather breakfast and brought it to work for lunch today.  Groatmeal is basically just soaked oat groats blended with nut milk or water.  You can flavor it anyway you want.  Chocolate, anyone?  Today, though, I made a fall version... 

Almost Raw Pumpkin Spiced Groatmeal

(Serves one or two)

1/2 cup oat groats, soaked overnight and rinsed
1/2 cup nut milk or water
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (if you have fresh pie pumpkins, just add cubes in the equivalent amount to keep the recipe all raw.)
1 tsp vanilla
2 medjool dates (or your favorite sweetener to taste)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ginger powder
Optional:  protein powder, walnuts/pecans/almonds, chocolate chips/ cacao nibs, etc.

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend to desires consistency.  I like mine creamy but with a little something to chew. You could transfer it to a pot and warm it on the stove if you'd like.  

This groatmeal is very filling and hearty.  It's great fuel to keep you going all day.  I've found that eating a bowl like this before my errand running on Saturdays will keep me full until dinner time.  Crazy, I know.  That's the great thing about whole foods... You get the protein and fiber with the carbs.  Whole oats are so satisfying!  

P.S.  I've been decluttering my office and deep cleaning.  I work in a very dusty environment, so it's hard to keep things clean.  Since I'm trying to keep my body as clean as possible, I'm starting to want to keep my environment clean as well.  It feels so nice to walk into an open uncluttered work space every morning.  I plan to tackle some drawers at home in the coming days.  Try it out.  Pick a spot and clear away the unneeded items, and clean that space.  Notice how good it feels.  I'm starting to notice how nice minimalist living could be.  Who knows where this will lead. ;-)

So far, I've cleared all drawers of clutter and extra supplies, dusted inside and out, vacuumed every surface top to bottom, and downsized my picture collection.  I'm no longer allowing any paperwork to sit on the desk overnight.  Everything must be dealt with before I go home.  It's really making me more productive having less "stuff" to hide behind.  I feel great about this space now.  It's still old, dingy, and in need of TLC, but it's open and clear.  I may need to invest in a feng shui book, if this keeps up. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Garden Update: The End is Near

Here it is, September is almost done, and the garden is showing its age.  The squash is long gone.  My tomato plants are falling over.  And the sunflower stalks are turning yellow.  I'm almost sad, but my greens are still going strong, and I've spotted nine little watermelons that may make it to adulthood before the cold sets in.  So, I figured I'd give an update on what is growing at this point.  

My adorable watermelons growing stronger every day...

I've pulled up a few beetle-eaten kale plants, but the others are growing like crazy.  The purple kale is big and beautiful, just how I like it.  It's bitter, but it makes awesome juice, and a little lemon makes it great for salads.

We've had a few pests move in, but so far, they've not made much of a dent in production.  I did lose my pumpkin and squash plants to vine-borers, but since they grew into the empty lot next door (and were continually mowed down), I figure I'll just have to plan better next year.  

I've still got a few peppers waiting to turn red, and some green tomatoes too.  And the mystery "volunteer" tomato plants turned out to be black cherry heirlooms that we grew last year.  They aren't producing many tomatoes, but they are delicious.

The Swiss chard is still going strong and the colors have gotten super intense... Meaning more nutrients!  Eat those greens, you guys.

I ended up with one small beet from a whole row of seeds, so I've got some work to do to figure out the magic of growing those.  I absolutely LOVE beets these days, so if I can grow them, I'll be very happy.

Lastly, my carrots are coming along really nicely.  If I can keep the dogs from walking on them, they'll be fine.  The pups are super curious about this green stuff that's taking up their yard space.  

I've planted some new seeds for a winter crop of lettuces, beets, and maybe fennel. Nothing has sprouted just yet, so I'm still nervous about them.  Fingers crossed.  I've never grown food year-around before.  It's a new adventure!  I'll be saving a bunch of money if I can, at least, get kale to make it through.   We shall see.  If all goes well, I'll be giving garden updates in January. 

Mommy's little helping watering the carrots.  She gets very upset if you don't let her help.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Oh my! Raw Vegan Peach Pie

Living so close to Georgia, peaches are in abundance all summer.  I'm fortunate enough to have access to some of the best tasting, organically-grown, ripe peaches at my local farmers market every Saturday throughout most of the summer months.  It's good to live in the south, let me tell ya.  The only thing is that they don't last long.  And since my eyes are ALWAYS bigger than my stomach, I end up with too many ripening too quickly.  What to do when you've got 8 or so peaches starting to draw knats?  You make a raw vegan peach pie, of course!  

Since I was off work for Labor Day Monday, and Charlotte was napping, I got creative in the kitchen.  Here's what I came up with:

Raw Vegan Peach Pie

1/2 cup soaked, sprouted, dried buckwheat
1/2 cup gluten-free oats (could use all oats or all buckwheat if you'd like, but I had a little buckwheat that needed to be used, yet not enough to make the whole thing.)
1 cup medjool dates (of using a harder date, just soak them for an hour ahead of time.)
1 tsp coconut oil
Pinch if sea salt (optional)

Going into the food processor...

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until it forms a crumble that sticks together when pinched.  Press the crumble evenly into a pie pan and set aside.

And pressed into the pan.

4 peaches, thinly sliced

2 peaches, roughly chopped
2 dates
1/4 cup coconut sugar (brown sugar would work, but isn't healthy.)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Blend all filling ingredients except the sliced peaches until smooth.  Stir the blended mixture with the sliced peaches, then add to the crust.

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup dates
2 tbsp chia seeds or flax meal

Pulse the topping ingredients in the food processor until a nice sticky crumble forms.  Sprinkle over the top of the pie.  

Just refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors really mingle, and you've got a healthy, whole-food dessert that just screams "summer".  

Ooey-gooey goodness!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fajita-Style Tempeh Tacos

Anyone who knows me or my husband could tell you, we should live in Mexico.  We could eat Mexican food three times per day and never tire of it.  For years, we had a standing date with friends one night a week at the same Mexican restaurant, where we didn't even have to order.  They'd just bring our food out, knowing what we each wanted.  

These days, with a busy toddler, going out during the week just isn't in the cards, and weekends aren't much better.  So, I've been making tacos occasionally to fill the void.  I've made a few different variations, but today, I'll share a good basic recipe.

Fajita-Style Tempeh Tacos

1 red bell pepper
1 8-oz package of mushrooms
1 onion
1 tbsp coconut oil 
1/4-1/2 jalapeño (or more if you like extra spice)
1 package tempeh
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (soy sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste
Corn tortillas

Shredded cabbage
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped cilantro
Sliced avocado
Lime wedges

Heat coconut oil in an iron skillet over medium heat.  Roughly chop the tempeh into small pieces and crumble with your hands until it's broken apart into small clumps.  Add the tempeh to the skillet and sauté until brown.  If it starts to stick, just add water or more oil.  (Tempeh tends to be pretty dry.)  Chop the pepper, onion, and mushrooms to similar sized pieces, I chose to dice mine.  Finely mince the garlic and jalapeño.  Once the tempeh starts to brown, add the veggies, garlic, and jalapeño to the skillet.  Stir well and let cook until the veggies are just softened.  Add the spices and Bragg's.  Stir to incorporate well and let simmer for a minute or two.  Remove from heat. 

Serve the taco mixture on warm tortillas, and top with cabbage, tomato, cilantro, and avocado.  Squeeze some lime on top and enjoy.