Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Bread

If you're a gardener, there's a good chance that you've got more zucchini than you know what to do with (or that you will soon). If you're not a gardener, there's a good chance your gardening friends are trying to unload their extra zucchini on you (or they will be soon). When a friend of mine recently shared a recipe for chocolate zucchini bread, I couldn't wait to make it. Since I was out of eggs at the time, I decided to go ahead and veganize the recipe, and it turned out perfectly amazing. This recipe is perfect for those overgrown extra large zucchini. It can also be made with shredded zucchini that has been frozen, just thaw before using. This bread is so moist and delicious, you could even pass it off as cake! This recipe makes two loaves (or two 8X8 square cakes).

What You'll Need:

  • 4 Cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 6 Tablespoons warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 Teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or almond) extract
What You'll Do:
  • Place shredded zucchini in a sieve or colander over a bowl to drain excess moisture while preparing other ingredients.
  • In a small bowl, mix ground flax and water, set aside. (This is the egg substitute and needs to thicken slightly.)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease (or use cooking spray) 2 loaf pans or 2 8X8 inch baking pans.
  • Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine flax/water mixture and sugar (you can either use an electric mixer or stir by hand). Mix until smooth. Add olive oil and vanilla (or almond) extract and stir until combined. 
  • Stir the zucchini into the sugar mixture. At this point, you might check back to the recipe in disbelief, thinking "that MUST be a typo, this is WAY too much zucchini". It's not. Trust me. It seems like too much, but it melts right into the bread and makes it perfectly moist.
  • Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, combining well after each addition.
  • Divide the batter between the two loaf pans (or 8X8 inch baking pans).
  • For loaf pans, bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. For 8X8 cakes, bake for 30 minutes. The bread/cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. When cooled completely, cut with bread knife and enjoy!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Meatless Monday: No-Fry Easy Eggplant Parmesan

This is the only way I've ever made Eggplant Parmesan, so I'm not sure how it compares to recipes that involve frying, but I am sure that it's delicious. And apparently ever-so-slightly healthier, thanks to baking the eggplant rather than frying it. I neglected to plant any eggplant in the garden this year, so I've been excited to see them popping up in abundance at the farmer's markets! This recipe takes a little over an hour including prep and cooking time and serves 8. I haven't tried freezing it since the left overs are delicious and it's usually gone the day after I make it! This recipe is based on this one from with just a few very slight "tweaks".

What You'll Need:

  • 3 Medium/Large Eggplant (to prepare: peel, slice in 3/8-1/2 thick slices, salt slices and allow to "sweat" in a colander, rinse and gently pat dry)
  • 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 4 cups breadcrumbs (Italian seasoned)
  • 1-24oz Jar spaghetti sauce of your choice (or equal amount home-made sauce)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil)
What You'll Do:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Dip prepared eggplant slices in egg, then toss in breadcrumbs to coat.
  • Place breaded slices on cookie sheets in a single layer (I always need 2 cookie sheets).
  • Bake slices in preheated oven for 10 minutes, flip slices and bake an additional 5 minutes.
  • While the slices are baking, I toss my cheeses together and also toss in any left over bread crumbs from the breading process.
  • In a 9X13 inch baking dish, spread enough sauce to cover the bottom. Place a single layer of eggplant slices on the sauce layer, then cover with a layer of the cheese mixture. Repeat layers (sauce, eggplant, cheese), ending with cheese on top. You'll have 2-3 layers depending on the size of your eggplant.
  • Sprinkle with basil. (Using fresh basil really makes this dish, but dried will do!)
  • Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until top is slightly browned and bubbly. 
  • Allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Meatless Monday: Tofu & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (Vegan and Gluten Free!)

I love stuffed peppers. I've never used a recipe; I always just sort of wing it and hope for the best. I'm glad I took the time to document this particular incarnation, because it was delicious! This recipe will stuff approximately 4 bell peppers and can be made in the crock pot or in the oven. It is gluten-free, vegan, and overflowing with protein and fiber.

What You'll Need:

  • 4 Bell Peppers, tops removed by cutting around the stem, seeds and membranes removed (gently! don't break/split the pepper!)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 package extra firm tofu (I used baked pre-marinated  tofu, but you can marinate your own if you're fancy)
  • 1/2 Medium (or 1 small) zucchini, shredded and drained
  • small bunch of broccoli, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 onion, shredded
  • Tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg's liquid aminos to taste (note: not all soy sauce is gluten-free, but tamari and Bragg's are!)
  • Oil for cooking (I used coconut with a splash of toasted sesame seed oil)
  • Pretend the egg and bread crumbs aren't in the picture. I didn't end up using them. :p
What You'll Do:
  • While cooking the Quinoa, prep all the veggies and mash the tofu with a fork.
  • Heat about 1-2 tablespoons cooking oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.
  • Stir-fry the mashed tofu for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the veggies and continue to stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes, until veggies begin to soften.
  • Stir in the quinoa and tamari (or soy sauce or Bragg's) to taste. Don't overdo it. Food that's too salty sucks.
  • Remove from heat and spoon the mixture into the prepared bell peppers, gently pressing down with the spoon to firmly "stuff". (Note, if you end up with extra filling, you can either cook it a little longer on the stove and eat it as is, or you could try baking up little patties or balls of it!)
  • Arrange the peppers, with caps replaced, upright in a crock pot or baking dish with 1/2 cup of water in the bottom.
  • Cook for 3-4 hours in crock pot on low, or 1 hour in an oven preheated to 350 degrees, until peppers are tender.
  • Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  • To serve, either serve whole or cut in halves or quarters. My favorite way to do stuffed peppers is to do 4 different color peppers (green, red, yellow, and orange) and serve a quarter of each pepper per person. These green bells were super cheap at the farmer's market, so no pepper rainbow this time around!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Teen Pregnancy: Not Caused By Makeup

This charming (by which I mean "really gross") image came across my facebook feed yesterday:

Ew. While I know that these particular memes are often intentionally offensive for the purposes of being oh-so-edgy, I also know that the attitude that teen pregnancy happens because omg, the slutty, slutty girls is a pervasive attitude. And I know that it's incorrect. And I know that since the slutty slutty girls are not the reason teen pregnancy happens, slut shaming is not part of the solution.

I digress. This meme is gross, and I'll explain why. But first, since an increasing number of people are missing out on comprehensive sex education, it seems a little biology lesson is in order:

Teenage girls to do not become pregnant by wearing make up or "provocative clothing" or by dating. Teenage girls become pregnant by having unprotected sex. With boys. 

I know. I was shocked too. That boys are equally responsible for teenage pregnancy. Except, no, I wasn't shocked, because, SCIENCE.

If I need to spell it out, that's why the photo is gross. It places the onus for teen pregnancy entirely on girls and their parents, and as we all know, females do not become pregnant without males participating in some fashion.

So if you don't want your daughter to wear make up at 10 or date at 12 or wear certain clothing at 14, cool. I, myself, am likely to discourage my daughter (daughters?) from wearing make up or "sexy" clothing as adolescents. Not to prevent pregnancy, but because I do everything in my power to counteract the constant messages that in order for a woman to have worth, she must fit into a little box that society has labeled "sexy". (And hey, perhaps if more of us did more to counteract the messages that women are expected to be sexy, young girls wouldn't be so interested in such things in the first place, hmmmm?) But don't kid yourself into thinking that prohibiting those things will keep her from becoming pregnant. And don't think that if you have sons, you're off the hook in this whole teen pregnancy thing.

The way we prevent teen pregnancy is not by telling girls that they have to be "good girls" and that that "good girls" don't dress "like that". The way we prevent teen pregnancy is by teaching our children, boys and girls, to respect their own bodies and the bodies of others. By teaching our children, boys and girls, about how to have sex safely and responsibly. By providing our children, boys and girls, a safe and non-judgmental environment in which to discuss such matters.

When I started having sex, in my late teens, I didn't wear much make up, and coming of age in the grunge era, I certainly didn't wear provocative clothing. I also didn't become pregnant. Why? Because I'd had comprehensive sex education in school. I knew how babby is formed. I knew the myriad of birth control options available. And I knew that I could talk to my mom about it. When I did, we had a discussion about making sure I was ready, and then she made me my first big girl doctor appointment, and she paid for my birth control.

So if you're wondering why your daughter got pregnant at 16, it's not because she wore make up, it's not because she went on dates, and it's not because of her clothing. It's because she had unprotected sex, with a boy, who is equally responsible for not preventing the pregnancy, and whose parents are equally responsible for making sure he knows about safe sex. 

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Sharing

Dear Delilah,

A few weeks ago, I started watching your cousin, Harper during the day when your Auntie Nay-Nay returned to work after her maternity leave. Overall, you've adjusted very well to having her around, and every morning, you look forward to her arrival. Seeing you with her has felt like a glimpse of what you'll be like as a big sister; loving, playful, helpful, and a little bit annoyed when you can't have all of my attention right this very second please.

You enjoy playing songs for her:

Kissing her and cooing at her:

And helping me care for her, particularly when it comes to feeding and diapering:

When your new brother or sister is born, I'll have to get creative in how you can help with feeding, since I can't exactly ask you to bring me my boob. ;) 

You've done well with sharing your toys, not to mention your mama, with your cousin. Though you are adamant about reminding her (and me) that certain things are YOURS, you are always happy to show her a toy or a book and let her grab onto or slobber all over your things.

I'm grateful that you're getting some practice with sharing, because when our family grows to four, you're sure to be asked to do a lot of sharing with your younger sibling. One thing that you'll be sharing sooner than later, though you won't know the difference, is your mama's blog. In the coming days, weeks, months, and years, this blog will contain letters to and musings about both you and your little brother or sister. It will document the ups and downs of me becoming a mother of two, of you becoming a big sister, and of our family becoming one of four. We're in for quite an adventure, and there's no one I'd rather have along for the ride that you, my dear Delilah.


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Monday, August 13, 2012

Meatless Monday: Quinoa Pizza Bites

When I ran across this recipe for Quinoa Pizza Bites on Pinterest, I wanted to try them out immediately. I am always on the look out for new things to do with Quinoa, since it is an excellent protein source and also happens to be delicious in a nutty sort of way. The recipe was a piece of cake to make vegetarian, I simply substituted vegetarian pepperoni for the real thing. You could also just leave it out, which is what I'll do next time, because it turns out fake pepperoni doesn't do much for me. This recipe yielded 3 dozen "bites" and I enjoyed it both for a snack and for lunch along with some fresh veggies.

What You'll Need:

  • 2 Cups cooked Quinoa
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 package vegetarian pepperoni, finely diced
  • 1 cup veggies of your choice, finely diced (I used onion and bell pepper, but any veggies you like on pizza would work well!)
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
What You'll Do:

Mix all the ingredients together. Spoon mixture into greased mini-muffin tin, filling cups to the top. Lightly smoosh them down a bit so they stay together well. Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool and serve with pizza sauce. These also freeze well! Next time I'll make a double batch and stock my freezer up!

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