A Day FULL of Cooking: Just How I Like It.

After my guilt-ridden Sunday of restaurant and Whole Foods meals, the cheffy soul deep inside my heart screamed “Cook something yourself, dammit!” Okay, okay, Mr. Chef, cool it. I’ll cook today.

But first! The morning necessitated my daily bird-ish breakfast bowl of nuts, fruits, and granola followed by a 20-minute elliptical run and 15 minutes of ab toning. I truly believe that all the benefits of exercising manifest themselves best in the morning. By working out at the beginning of every day, you elevate your metabolism and mental acuity for up to 24 hours, regulate your sleeping patterns and daily appetite, and feel a great sense of accomplishment knowing that you’ve spent your morning productively while everyone else caught some excessive zzz’s. Read a more detailed description about the wonderful world of morning exercise here.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein–soy milk. Whole Grain–granola. Fruit–banana, strawberries, dried figs (great source of calcium).

Oki doki, now let the kitchen games begin. For lunch, I made myself a ginormous salad: my staple afternoon meal. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and some oil? No wonder vegans are so skinny, they don’t eat anything except salads.” On the veryveryvery contrary, my friend! Exhibit A: Ali’s Monday kale salad with whole-grain tortilla points, a medly of dips, and sprouted bean burgers.

I started off shredding some lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale because it’s pleasingly bumpy like dinosaur skin), and massaging my absolute favorite Liquid Gold Dressing into the kale to soften it. Giving the kale a spa treatment is necessary if you don’t want to chew the greens like a cow chews his cud, so rub that kale!

Kale after a bit of a massage.

A medium-sized carrot, 3 large broccoli florets, and an ear of leftover grilled corn migrated from the refrigerator into the salad bowl to make friends with the kale.

I popped one of my favorite Ezekiel brand sprouted whole grain flourless tortillas in the toaster oven, cut it into 8 triangles, and topped each one with a dollop of beet hummus, kale hummus, or cheezy carrot sauce. 2 sprouted bean burgers finished off this mouthwatering, mammoth-sized salad.

 

Meal Checklist: Protein–sprouted bean burgers, tortilla, garbanzo beans in kale hummus, and tahini in beet hummus. Whole Grain–tortilla. Vegetables–well. I think you can see for yourself. Leafy green–kale.

After staring longingly out the window at the positively gorgeous day, I deemed it necessary to take a bike ride which started on the bike path, wound through Nakoma, into the Arboretum, through the Vilas neighborhood alleyways, and to MadCat to pick up some weight-control cat food (because my cat isn’t really a cat but an animal balloon).

 

Upon returning home, I began perusing my staple vegan blogs while sipping a Citrus Kombucha and printed off two recipes which I’d been dying to attempt at home: Choosing Raw’s lemon-thyme flax crackers and Pure 2 Raw’s carob crepes.

First: the crackers. Raw foodies love juicing vegetables. Juicing vegetables produces vast amounts of vegetable solids that are separated from the juice called “juice pulp.” What to do with said pulp? Add it to raw crackers, burgers, and flatbreads of course! Okay, so what if I don’t have a juicer? I still want the pulp to make these crackers! Fear not, for I have a foolproof method of producing juice pulp without a juicer.

No-Juicer Juice Pulp (Raw, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Nut Free, Oil Free)

Makes 2 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. mixed vegetables (hard vegetables like beets, carrots, winter squash, etc. should be grated, while softer veggies like broccoli, summer squash, green beans, etc. can just be chopped. I used a combination of carrots, beets, and broccoli.)
  • 1/2 cup water

Grate the hard vegetables and chop the soft. I used my food processor’s grating attachment (my best friend) to make quick work of the job, but if you don’t have one, you’re stuck hand-grating for a while! Place the grated/chopped veggies in your food processor along with the water and blend until smooth. You may have to scrape down the sides a few times.

 

Pour the very finely chopped veggies into a strainer/sieve in the sink, lay a folded paper towel on top, and place a bowl with two heavy cans onto the towel. Press down firmly on the cans for a couple minutes until all the juice runs out of the mixture and you’re left with just the dry pulp.

With my pulp, I made Choosing Raw’s lemon-thyme flax crackers (the link to which you can find above), but baked them at 325 degrees for 30 minutes instead of dehydrating them. Sigh. I need a dehydrator. However, if you decide to make them, I would highly recommend baking them for longer than 30 minutes because my crackers turned out a bit soggy, though still yummy.

 

To put my food processor through it’s paces even more, I experimented with Pure 2 Raw’s carob crepes (recipe link above). However, I think I made enough of my own variations to merit an explained recipe.

From the original recipe, I replaced the carob powder with a combination of regular unsweetened cocoa powder and my favorite barley tea, which is highly roasted barley onto which you pour boiling water to make a coffee-esque drink (I buy mine a the Willy Street Co-op, one of my favorite places in Madison). I also did not dehydrate the crepes (once again, I’m left in the dust without a dehydrator), but cooked them in a nonstick skillet on very low heat to achieve relatively the same effect, though my crepes turned out much thicker and thus, I’ve called them pancakes, though you can still fold them around a filling because they are very pliable.

Chocolate Barley Pancakes (Could be Raw, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Oil Free)

Makes 4 medium-sized pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium apples
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp barley coffee (or just use more cocoa powder)
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar (can substitute maple syrup)
  • 3/4 cup flax meal

Medium-dice the apples so your food processor doesn’t have too much trouble breaking them up. Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until smooth. The mixture will be pretty sticky.

Heat a medium-small non-stick skillet over lowest heat and spread 1/4 of the batter over the entire bottom.

Cook over low heat for about an hour, until the top is dark brown and you can wiggle a spatula under the entire pancake without it sticking. Flip the pancake and cook for about 15 more minutes.

Fill with fruit, cashew cream, avocado pudding, or banana ice cream. Yummy, chocolately breakfast. Or snack. Or dessert. Whatever, it’s delicious.

Recipe featured on Finding Vegan.

Dinner time sprung up unexpectedly–all that biking and cooking took up my entire day! My mother accompanied me as a lovely dinner-making companion, as she does every night, while we listened to some smooth jazz (my new favorite way to whip up meals in the kitchen). She grilled some pork chops for my very not-vegan father, while I yet again food-processed up the place with Choosing Raw’s Foolproof Tofu Burgers, and we combined our food know-how to make a big green bean and potato salad with miso dressing.

I followed the tofu burger recipe almost exactly, except that I substituted almond butter for tahini since I had used up all my sesame paste making a batch of beet hummus earlier in the week. Honestly, the best veggie burgers I’ve ever made in my entire life. The texture truly was perfect while the flavor was mild enough to serve as a beautiful canvas for sandwich toppings. For the salad, we used farmer’s market green beans and beautifully colored Purple Viking potatoes. The only change I made to the recipe was reducing the 1/2 cup olive oil in the dressing to 2 tbsp. Judging from the approximate tablespoon of dressing leftover at the bottom of the bowl after all the veggies were eaten up, I presume that the extra 3/8 cup of oil were not needed.

 

I wholeheartedly enjoyed my tofu burger on two slices of multigrain bread from Batch Bakehouse (located on Willy Street) with a light layer of homemade ketchup, a leaf of lettuce, and 1/4 an avocado. An absolutely perfect summer meal. Energizing, too, since I found myself in a satisfyingly bouncy mood at gymnastics that night.

 

Meal Checklist: Protein–tofu burger. Whole Grain–multigrain bread and rolled oats in tofu burger. Vegetable–green beans, potatoes, avocado, carrots in tofu burger. Leafy Green–a sad leaf of lettuce. But the green beans were green enough!

Local Ingredients: Multigrain bread from Batch Bakehouse, tofu from The Simple Soyman (Milwaukee), lettuce from the Plahnt Farm, green beans from the Hilldale Farmer’s Market, potatoes from the Dane County Farmer’s Market, carrots from Harmony Valley Farm.

Cooking the day away eased my guilt of Sunday’s non-personally prepared meals in a delicious and effective manner.

Until next time, Ali.

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