Hello, LiveJournal visitors! Thanks for stopping by.
I love summer and all, but this heat does not fare well for a pale Polish auburn-head like me. I walked to the library and thought I’d melt into a swirl of green and purple ooze.
Okay, I’m done whining now. YAY SUMMER. To help you cool off, here are just a few ideas of inexpensive, healthy and unique snacks to cool you down. Once you make some, please invite me over.
Make Your Own Popsicles: What better way to control exactly what goes into a frozen treat than to make it yourself? This is a fun, healthy and inexpensive way to have a little summertime snack. Water freezes (obviously – hello Pennsylvania winters!) which makes for an easy base ingredient. Take some fruits, maybe some citrus juice and a little agave nectar, blend together, and pour into popsicle molds. HOW EASY IS THAT!? Go to the farmers market and go crazy with different kinds of fruit.
You can also try making some with vegetables if you’re feeling extra-healthy. Carrot juice popsicle? I’ll eat it. Cucumber and mint? Sign me up. Adding bananas or silken tofu to any base will give the popsicles a creamy consistency. You can find popsicle molds at most kitchen stores, or online!
Make Your Own Ice Cream: Much like making popsicles, making your own ice cream is a great way to play with unique flavor combinations and ensure the ingredients are exactly what you like. Making vegan ice creams is easy with non-dairy milks (try coconut, almond or hazlenut from a nice change from soy!). Experiment with flavors like pineapple, graham cracker and cherries for a pineapple upside-down cake, or try something savory like ginger ice cream.
Ice cream makers can be found in the stores for around $30 – affordable, and a small price to pay for health and fun. (Shown here – the Deni 5200 Automatic Ice Cream Maker, here on Amazon for $42.95)
Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas: This super and delicious snack is easy and barely costs anything. Unpeel a banana, cut in half, and stick a popiscle stick in the flat end. Melt some tasty dark chocolate, and dip the banana in. Allow to cool on wax paper. Wrap in wax paper, place in wax paper baggies, or just use some tupperware and pop in the fridge.
This is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth! The bananas freeze, but maintain their soft creamy texture, so it really feels like an indulgence.
Frozen Grapes: This is a nod to my Gram. Every time I visited her house when I was a little kid, she always had grapes in the freezer. We’d sneak into the kitchen (just because sneaking was fun, not because we had to be quiet or anything) and grab a handful and have a snack!
Wash grapes, put in a tupperware container, and stick in the freezer until frozen. That’s all! They are sweet and juicy without freezing to a perfect solid, so no need to worry about cracking a tooth. Thanks for awesome snack idea, Gram!
The cooking class was a huge success! It took some extra planning since I didn’t have access to a full kitchen, but what a fun challenge to take on! I balanced in my yellow heels and vintage apron and we cooked up 5 meals and 1 dessert. Everyone left full and happy, and I left feeling accomplished and proud of myself.
When I started Save the Kales! a few months ago, it was more of a personal outlet after a truly difficult time in my life. Without getting into the fine details of that situation, cooking and talking about food became the only thing left that was “mine” alone. I could do it, and I was good at it. I was hoping a few people may read the blog and get a few ingredient ideas, but it has now lead to a complete life reevaluation in the best way, and allowed me to clearly imagine what it would be like to make a living doing something I love.
It’s easy to be afraid of viewing your dreams as tangible goals. For the longest time I didn’t even know what that meant, and felt actual guilt at the thought of asking someone to pay me for a talent. Yet, I never thought it odd to pay a stylist when I got my hair cut, a chef at a restaurant, an artist to make something beautiful for my home. Why is it so hard to believe we can do something?
Guess what? You can. Really. It’s as simple as that.
Being in a place where you have nothing left to lose is a vulnerable, uncomfortable place. But after the frightening part subsides, you find it opens to you all possibilities – and the most humbling part is they have been there all along.
I love cooking, talking about food and nutrition, exposing people to ingredients they may not have otherwise tried. To be able to teach a class my way, my style – informative, colorful, silly – was reinforcement that I’m doing something right. It made me wonder if the hard times we experience, or the hard times we give ourselves are just a way for us to reassess our thoughts and actions to propel us into greatness.
But take my advice – don’t wait around for that moment if you can help it. You are already great and talented, and people will benefit from what you can offer. Just get up and do it.
(To my first class, I thank you with so much sincerity, and as per request I’m already planning the next class built around tofu as the common ingredient. Thanks to Christa Timko and Lisa O’Brien for the photos!)
Part of the moving process involves getting rid of a lot of things – in my case, a LOT. But I know most of it would be useful to other people. So, I thought it may be fun to have a little contest and I’ll send the winners some fantastic prizes!
May I present:
SAVE THE KALES! 1ST EVER “SHOW ME YOUR KITCHEN” CONTEST
The rules are simple! Take some photos of the space you do your cooking. Stories and comments about why something is important to you or helpful are encouraged! (Have a hand-me-down martini shaker with a great story? Found the vintage avocado-green mixer of your dreams?) Let me see your space, your things, or photos of a favorite homemade dish.
I’ll pick a winner (or winners, depending on how many entries I get) and send you a fun package of vegan-themed surprises!
Send contest entries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please send submissions by Wednesday, June 2
And remember, we’re already winners. (Roll your eyes now.)
By this time tomorrow, I’ll be able to tell you all about the first (sold-out!) class! For those of you coming tonight, I am so excited I couldn’t sleep at all, so I hope you’ll overlook my zombie-eyes and really enjoy yourselves.
I’m off to finish picking up ingredients and recipe cards. I can’t wait to see you all in a few hours!
Class: 6:30pm – 8:00pm at Underwired Boutique, South Side Bethlehem
My friends, as if this week isn’t exciting enough with my first catering event, beginning nutrition school, teaching my first cooking class this Wednesday (!) – my heart is bursting to tell you this breaking news:
I found my new home!
And it’s a beauty! Aside from the fact that it has a billion amazing things (washer/dryer, a BACK YARD where I can have a GARDEN and a table and CHAIRS and a GRILL, ahhh! Never had this before!), a fancy schmancy garage, etc etc etc…. the kitchen is what stole the biggest part of my heart.
New appliances, lovely cabinets, a fireplace (! I know!) and best of all, an open layout – so what does this mean for Save the Kales? Better cooking videos, more efficiency, but also – IN (my) HOME COOKING CLASSES! I’ll be able to invite all of you over to hang out and drink wine while we get messy and cook up tasty dishes together!
This week is crazy, with preparing for the Wednesday class (which is already at capacity, and I can’ wait to meet all of you!), starting my nutrition classes, and now the task of, uh, moving, so bear with me while the next week of posts will be scattered narratives of me being even more excited than usual.
“We opened the windows and the warm air touched us with coarse hands. The buildings looked like buildings I’d seen before – they had straight lines and neat corners and windows in between – but they seemed closer to something imagined and built by architects of another world. We flew beneath their roofs and I grinned to the wind, because we’d at least come this far, and that meant we’d won.” – Dave Eggers
I’m sure I’m not the only Nosey Nancy among us. You know what I mean. It’s just another day at the grocery store, and as you pass people in the aisles you catch yourself rubbernecking to see what they have in their cart. THEN come the judgements… “That soda isn’t even DIET soda… Those crackers are so full of crap!… White bread!? WHO still eats plain WHITE BREAD?!…”
Today I was running all over the grocery store and found that this is something I do without thinking about it. And I began to feel really guilty.
When you are living your life in a way you deem “moral” – whether its by pushing extra hard at work, you incorporate spirituality into all you do, or you eat a plant-based diet especially on the grounds of animal welfare and rights, it can become all too easy to cast judgement on others who don’t do the same.
I wasn’t born with the knowledge I have about factory farming. In fact, I am embarrassed and hesitant to admit that one of the first articles I ever wrote and self-published was titled “Why I Believe in the Vegetarians Cause and Why I’m Not One”. (I know, right!?) When it comes to our diets or lifestyle choices, we could stand to be reminded that for most of us, this was a choice that came about after an “awakening” of sorts.
Maybe you saw a gruesome slaughterhouse video, or adopted a pet and made the connection between that pet and all animals. For me, it was when my Dad died when I was seventeen. Suddenly all animal-foods appeared to me as “someone’s dead father”, and when I was suffering so deeply how I could I do that to another being, human or nonhuman?
We have these stories, and it does us good to recall them from time to time to have more compassion for people that live differently than we do. The meat and dairy industries do all they can to keep consumers in the dark about what is going on. That’s why, for many people, once they see a video of the inside of a slaughterhouse, they become vegetarians. It IS gross. It IS horrible. It DOES affect people. But many folks, myself included when I ate meat, don’t make the connection between their grilled chicken sandwich and the pain and horror of what chickens endure. I’m certain no one wants to promote pain and suffering, but when it is so veiled and secretive, people don’t see any reason to change.
Another point is the fact that, for many people, it costs a lot more money to eat healthy, whole foods. I can argue that if you know where to shop and how to cook well, you can eat a vegan diet even on a strict budget. But that’s because I’ve been lucky enough to educate myself and have the time to prepare meals. Even then, sometimes I spent $50 at a grocery store and look into my cart think, “Really? That’s it?” It’s limited thinking to believe that just because we are able to maintain a lifestyle it’s something easily, or instantly, achievable for most.
If we start to live our lives in a way that we feel so self-righteous as to be “better than” another, we have missed the whole point. Vegetarianism and veganism, for most, is about compassion and kindness. Let us all strive to live with open minds and hearts, and find comfort that while we hope to inspire and inform, we can only be responsible for our own choices and actions.
I would like to thank those of you who have already signed up for the cooking class! Lisa has sent out an offical fancy-schmancy press release, and I’m beyond excited to meet even more of you!
Today, as of 5 minutes ago, I have another big announcement:
I’ve just enrolled in a program to become a certified Nutritional Consultant!
This is something I have thought about for years. I received a Bachelor’s degree in 2005, then went back to school for Interior Design – which I love immensely. But this new path has stirred up so much excitement for sharing the joys of a plant-based diet with others, so I thought, why not? My passion and excitement for this is at it’s peak, and I know my enthusiasm will make learning all the more enjoyable.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, Save the Kales! has changed my life. There is still so much I am working on personally, and there have been days where this blog has been the main thing to get me out of bed and get excited about the day.
My goals now – aside from the lofty dream of hosting a Food Show on TV (a girl can dream!) – would be to just continue to see where this path takes me. So far it’s only been 3-4 months and so much good has come from this, outcomes I never could have imagined.
I give you, readers, the most sincere of “thank you”s, and I hope I with this new structured learning format, I’ll be able to continue to provide insightful veg-information, all the while keeping it fun!
Today’s lesson: Follow your dreams. Make your life.
There’s only 10 more days until my first ever COOKING DEMO, live and in person!
I’m so excited to be the guest at the UnderWired Boutique Craft Night, where I’ll be teaching everyone how to make several dishes, with a theme built around “picnic food”, great for the summer!
Everyone will be able to take some some of the dishes made as well as take home the recipes. Seating is limited so PLEASE contact the lovely Lisa at Underwired to let her know if you’d like to attend!
Event is FREE! (Donations of $5 greatly appreciated for the cost of food and materials, though not required)
- Wednesday, May 19th
- Held at Underwired Boutique, 337 Vine St., South Side Bethlehem, PA (right off 4th street)
- From 6:30pm – 8:00pm
- Event is FREE!!! (Though small donations appreciated for cost of food)
- Bring some tupperware to take food home
- Bring a pen and notebook!
Contact Lisa/Underwired to register HERE via Facebook: I want to come to the Save the Kales! Cooking Demo
Yesterday I had a lovely morning in the Wise Bean cafe (ahem, see yesterday’s HEART OF STEELcity post!) with my buddies, and one friend that recently lost a bunch of weight by following a very specific weight loss program said she’d like to try using dairy substitutes when she starts eating “real food” again. She’s not vegan or vegetarian, but has found that the way her body feels and reacts to her eating dairy is, well, negative.
That got me thinking about today’s post. Once I said the blatantly obvious, “Low fat soymilk!”, I had a flood of other simple switches for healthier, animal-free (and thus, entirely cholesterol-free) alternatives for cooking.
For a CREAMY texture: Try nuts, like raw cashews – but be wary of added fat if you are looking to lose weight. Great Northern beans (white beans) also have a very mild, almost neutral flavor that help to thicken soups when pureed. And of course, silken tofu.
If you aren’t familiar with different kinds of tofu, silken tofu is sold off the shelf in an aseptic box as it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. If you’re making a soup, sauce, or salad dressing the “soft” kind will thicken it and also add protein. It’s neutral in taste, so you get all the creamy texture you want without any fat of a heavy cream! For things like desserts or pies, try “firm” or “extra firm”.
Healthy/Healthier Sandwich CONDIMENTS: Fat is tasty. It just is. That’s why so many people like mayonnaise – it’s just oil and raw eggs whipped together. (Sorry to freak you out if you didn’t already know that!) If you want to keep the fatty, creamy mayo taste and feel, consider switching to Vegenaise. This stuff is freaking delicious. Even people that don’t like mayo love it! It’s not exactly low-fat, but it’s free of dairy, eggs, refined sweeteners, etc… It is sold in the refrigerated section of the “health food” department at your local store.
Other great options for sandwiches and veggie burgers are: hummus, something you buy pre-made or make your own with hummus-style spread by blending beans of your choice with garlic, onion, herbs, or spices. You can also make a homemade pesto-type spread with herbs or green veggies blended with nuts and garlic.
Replacing EGGS in Baking: These are great alternatives for people looking to lower their cholesterol (the yolks of eggs are little yellow orbs of that stuff!), or just use better alternatives. Eggs are a binding ingredient, so depending on what you’re baking, you achieve similar results by using fruits like mashed banana (this is AMAZING in muffins and pancakes!) or mashed avocado. Applesauce is a common replacement when you can have a more wet batter, or you can buy Ener-G egg replacer – white powder that looks like baking soda that you mix with some water. But one of the healthiest and best egg-alternatives is ground flax seed.
It’s best to buy whole flax seeds (you can sometimes find them in bulk bins at the store), and grind them in a coffee grinder or equivalent. Grind 1 Tablespoon of flax seeds, transfer to a bowl and add 3 Tablespoons of water. When you whisk it or mix with a fork, it will become goopy and sticky and this will replace 1 egg. This is best use for things that aim to taste whole-grainy, as flax seed has an earthy, nutty flavor.
un-TUNA Sandwiches: If you like cold, meat-based salads like tuna or chicken salad, you can create very similar vegan salads! You can use all the seasonings you’d normally put in the tuna salad, use Vegenaise instead of mayo, and the filling can be mushed chick peas! Just mush a can of chick peas into a bowl and it will make that “meaty” texture! Or, try using textured vegetable protein (TVP), which is small dehydrated pieces of soy flour that has been pressed and formed into little chunks. If you’ve ever used “fake ground hamburger”, imagine that but without the flavor added. Once rehydrated, a flavorless food that takes on the flavor of whatever you mix it with.
You can also try crumbled tempeh. Tempeh is a thick cake-like food made of pressed soy and grains that has been fermented. Don’t let the f-word deter you! It has absolutely wonderful texture. It can be cut in cubes for a stir fry, sliced thin to make tempeh-bacon, or crumbled up for a sandwich filling. If you like grainy, textured artisanal breads, you’ll love this. It’s best to steam the tempeh for about 10 minutes before you use it to remove any bitter flavor.
Sugar-Free SWEETNERS: The problem with sugar isn’t so much that the one teaspoon you add to your coffee will hugely effect your health – a teaspoon only has 16 calories – it’s that huge amounts of sugar are put into EVERYTHING (processed foods), often in the form of high fructose corn syrup. If you aren’t eating many whole foods, chances are you are consuming a surprising amount of sugar from places you wouldn’t expect.
Agave Nectar has been getting rock star treatment as a great sweetner alternative. It’s sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way, and has the consistency of a thin syrup. It’s made from the agave plant (same as tequila! woo hoo!) and doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels. It does have about 60 calories in a Tablespoon, similar to white sugar but obviously less refined and processed. You can also use brown rice syrup which is more mild than agave nectar, but it does cause blood sugar to spike so it may not be great for diabetics. Maple Syrup (the REAL kind, not Aunt Jemima’s – no offense to her) is a better alternative than honey as it is much lower in calories, and is a great source of manganese and zinc!