Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cooking Minimally

Lot's of good finds at the Farmer's Market and the local natural food store, but a challenge to cook this past week. Why? Because the darn movers haven't shown up yet - and all of our kitchen appliances and utensils are packed away. We do have a minimal amount of cooking essentials, which include one large skillet, one cutting board, cookie sheet, some knives, two wooden spoons, and small plastic plates and spoons. We are cooking only on the stove or in the oven (that includes reheating), and we do dishes constantly at every meal.

Hungry for oatmeal but without a pot or a microwave? It IS possible with a shallow skillet pan! Want Italian but have no pasta pot or strainer? Again, the shallow skillet pan works! We've discovered that the skillet pan is very multipurpose and handy!

Grains and Nuts Bob's Red Mill Hot Cereal - with bananas, dried cranberries, flaxmeal, cinnamon, agave, and a dash of almond milk. Ate breakfast this morning outside in the crisp air on our porch!

Organic Tomato & Grilled Zucchini Spaghetti
Sauce - with sauteed onions, garlic, yellow crookneck squash, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with basil and oregano. Pasta shells were excellent (Delallo Organic Whole Wheat Shells) despite the minimal cooking technique in a skillet!

We were anticipating a tasty "fajita" meal with Tofurkey's Spicy Veggie tempeh that we bought at Whole Foods. Sauteed onions and purple bell pepper, avocado, and spicy Muir Glen Garlic Cilantro salsa tasted good; too bad we DISLIKED the tempeh! It tasted like bad cheese, and we never were cheese fans in the first place. We ended up only having a veggie fajita on these whole wheat flatbreads. We also had Jalapeno Hummus Tortilla Chips, made with stone ground corn.

At the local food store this week, we bought:

Vegetas' Jalapeno Hummus Tortilla chips (great crunch and whole grain nutty flavor, just not spicy or baked)
Lakewood Pure Mango Juice (our favorite brand of juices - fresh pressed instead of from concentrate)
Drew's Sesame Orange Dressing
Real Foods Multigrain Corn Thins (a thin rice cake with popcorn)
Bob's Red Mill Millet Grits
Bob's Red Mill Grains and Nuts
Santa Cruz Organic Apple Cherry Sauce
Artisana Raw Pecan Butter (which we absolutely love! Great with rice cakes, banana, in desserts, in smoothies, in cookies.)
purple cauliflower!

With our local "Canadian Harmony" variety of juicy peaches, we made a simple quick-n-easy Peach Crisp:
No-Fuss Peach Crisp
Homemade Granola
1 cup oats
~ 4 Tb agave, enough to coat all the oats
a pinch of sea salt
lots of cinnamon
sunflower seeds

Lay out oats on a cookie sheet, then add agave and mix thoroughly to coat. Mix in a little salt and lots of cinnamon. Spread out evenly over the sheet, then sprinkle sunflower seeds to your liking. Bake at 325F, checking/stirring frequently, until aromatic and lightly browned. Let cool to harden.

Warmed Peaches
4 large juicy ripe peaches, chopped

Put in a skillet and cook at med-heat until warmed and syrupy. Then serve with granola on top for a simple and healthy treat. Could also serve it with yogurt for a parfait.

Sometimes the simplest things are life's sweet pleasures. Kudos to the skillet and those green Preserve plastic plates!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Oregon Food Haven

We made it to Oregon and now we never want to go back to Texas. The drive was long, 10 hours each day, with minimal fast food vegan food available, but the scenery was beautiful. New Mexico, Utah, and the Colombia River that flows between the Oregon and Washington borders were all breathtaking. Our movers with all of our furniture won't arrive till next week :( but we've been keeping busy touring the area, attending Farmer's Markets, and shopping at wonderful grocery stores like McMinnville's local Harvest Fresh and Portland's Whole Foods.

The community here is really wonderful - friendly, focused on recycling, and supports local farmers. On Thursdays our town has its farmer's market. So many vendors, most of them organic farmers!
We purchased wild spinach, Gravenstein apples, baby broccoli, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, and plump blueberries. All of the produce was unbelievably tasty and fresh! We also bought rosemary and lavender plants for our windowsill.

A few days later we drove up to Hillsboro to check out their farmer's market. This time we purchased 1/2 flat of berries to freeze for the winter. The blackberries and blueberries aren't tart, but extremely sweet and juicy! The peach we got was just perfect, better than any Texas peach. We also got a 1 1/2 foot long yellow crookneck squash for only 50 cents, along with some green beans, radishes, and cucumbers.

One day we drove into Portland, about 1 hour away, and stopped at Blossoming Lotus for breakfast. We tried the Banana Greens smoothie with berries and hemp milk - very healthy and refreshing for the start of the day. We also bought an Everything muffin, with coconut, carrots, raisins, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and other goodies. It was really good and hearty! We took home a Blueberry Lemon scone for later eats. The buckwheat granola we ordered was way too much - enough to serve 4 people, and needed a lot more sugar and milk; nothing special.

After Blossoming Lotus, we walked down the street to shop at Whole Foods. We bought a ton of new products that we've never tried!

Laura's Wholesome Junk Food - brownie bites
These were very good - fudgy-chocolaty with a slight fruity/date flavor! A tad sweet, though. Perfect size for a small treat! Other flavors we want to try include Lemon Vanilla, Gingersnap, Banana, and Fudge.

Delallo Organic Whole Wheat Pasta Shells * Update - great flavor and bite. Good with spaghetti and will use it in tofu creamy pasta salad.

Whole Food's 365 Organic Oat Bran Flakes * Update - too much sugar coating, a tad too sweet.

Nutiva Shelled Hemp Seeds

Galaxy Granola - Cranberry Orange (although didn't realize it had honey until after we got home) * Update - great flavor, subtle orange, good crunch.

Manitoba Harvest - Hemp Bliss hempmilk
Not that great for cereal milk. Had a vegetable flavor to it? Not sweet either to hide that taste. We will use it up in baked goods and then stick with Living Harvest Hemp Milk.

Heaven Scent Traditional Spice Windmill Cookies
These are Heaven! Spiced like a Christmas cookie. They also have Almond flavor which is very good, too.

Lydia's Organics - Italian Crackers
Unique raw cracker with a nice gentle crunch. Good flavor, especially with bean dip.

Gabriel's Bakery Blue Cornmeal Bread (Portland bakery)
A tad sweet, but good with bean dip or spinach hummus.

Bumble Bar - Hazelnut
Another item that is too sweet (and we thought we had sweet tooths). Overall, though, it is very nutritious, tasty, and has a good chewy crunch.

Whole grain red rice

Scharffen Berger Nibby Chocolate with Cacoa Nibs
Chocolaty with a nice crunch.

Deep Steep Foaming Handwash - Honeydew Spearmint
Perfect handsoap for the kitchen - love the smell!

oatmeal almond soap bar - love almond scents!

So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurts
Wow, so good. The texture is more uniform/thicker than some soy yogurt products we've tried - slightly like pudding. We tried the Raspberry, Strawberry Banana, and Tropical Mango. The Strawberry Banana is very good - one of our new favorite yogurt flavors. The raspberry wasn't anything exciting, though, compared to Whole Soy's line.

Whole Soy & Co. Soy Yogurts
These soy yogurts are our favorite - especially Blueberry, Strawberry, and Lemon. We also bought at Whole Foods the Strawberry Banana and Mixed Berry flavors.

Lightlife Tempeh - veggie
We have always been a little hesitant with tempeh, but were eager to cook with it again - this tempeh was very tasty with subtle veggie flavor.

Tofurky Tempeh - spicy veggie
Haven't had it yet, but we are eager to put it in a wrap with salsa and guacomole! * Update - it's now in our trash. Was terrible.

King Harvest Spinach Hummus
One of the best hummus we've ever had! Not too garlicy, not lemony, not oily; just right. And an awesome spinach flavor! Healthy too.

Wildwood Tofu Veggie Burger * Update - too oily (had to pat it dry), also tasted like a "chicken" patty that you could get at McDonald's. Wasn't bad but not worth getting again.

Today we had to drive to Beaverton, and we were excited to stop at Trader Joe's; unfortunately, we were very disappointed with the store. It was small, very very hectic and crowded, didn't have much selection, and had very few vegan options (such as soy yogurts).

This is what we ended up buying though (Trader Joe's Brand): High Fiber O's, Orange-Guava Smoothie Drink, Whole Grain Onion Pita Chips, Whole Wheat Lavash Bread, Sprouted Wheat Pappardelle Pasta, and (Dr. Praeger's) Tex Mex Veggie Burgers.
* Update - the High Fiber O's were pretty good and crunchy, Guava smoothie was excellent!, pita chips were very good with a subtle onion flavor and a great crunch, and the lavash bread was good for wraps.

Our first dinner in our new place - Garden Veggie Tempeh with wild spinach, sun dried tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic. For leftovers we added fresh broccoli! So fresh and nutritous!

Here's a pic across from our apartment complex - hills and farmland/winery.

Looking forward to the next Farmer's Market, and the next, and the next.... so far we love it here in Oregon!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

For the People, For the Planet, For the Animals

Being VEGAN that is! Here is a great video that we wanted to share with all of you - now most of you are vegan, but this just reinforces all of the reasons for being vegan. And share this with your omnivore friends and family!

Vegan - A Life Connected

Now we'll be back in a week or so after we've moved to Oregon. And THANK YOU so very much for all your thoughtful words and blessings. We are so grateful for such a wonderful compassionate vegan community.

God Bless, LK

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Oregon, Oregon Here We Come!

Hey guys! It's been a while. Right now life is hectic but exciting... We graduated from Texas A&M University on 08-08-08 with a Bachelor's of Science in Nutritional Sciences, Summa Cum Laude.

Now, we're rushing to get ready to move this coming Friday to McMinnville, Oregon! It's been a blessing from God that we BOTH got job offers to Betty Lou's, Inc. and we will be working with each other! We will be doing quality control work(food quality/safety, record keeping, lab tests), nutrition labeling, and recipe/product development!

Our trip up there this past week was beautiful and inviting. The Portland Airport welcomed us nicely - they had natural, nutritious freeze-dried fruit and ABC Vegan cookies for sale. Cool! On our way down to McMinnville (1 hour southwest of Portland), we stopped into Blossoming Lotus Cafe (raw/vegan)! It was delicious and we will be sure to come back! We loved how it wasn't a vegan restaurant that served meat substitutes, but instead served creative, nutty, and nutritious vegan food!

For lunch, we enjoyed Blossoming Lotus' Live Pizza with a delicious buckwheat crust and fresh basil. We also shared the Live Wrap, which was so unique and flavorful and we definitely want to make one day! It contains: cilantro lime pate, tomatoes, cucumber, sprouts & avocado collard greens, with cashew sour crème.
We ordered a side of Garbonzo Lentil Soup, and splurged on dessert - a raw Apricot Date Bar and a raw Fudge (coconuty). Next time we will try their raw strawberry shortcake and their carrot cake! All of their drinks/smoothies sound refreshing - we tried the Berry Greens Mixed Berry Banana smoothie. And the nice thing about Blossoming Lotus- it is located inside a yoga studio, so it makes you want to take a yoga class before enjoying a nice vegan/raw meal!

McMinnville, Oregon doesn't have any veg restaurants, but it does have a farmer's market, an awesome natural food store "Harvest Fresh Grocery", and a nice supermarket with lots of local/organic produce.We bought some goodies:
Heaven Scent Windmill Almond cookies-nutty shortbread cookies, good with a cup of hot tea.
Lundberg Farms Wild Rice Cakes - nutty! Might be good with avocado and nutritional yeast, or hummus on top.
Amy's Indian Spinach Tofu Wrap - very good and green! We love spinach and we felt like Popeye eating this delicious wrap! Only thing I'd recommend is for Amy's to cut down the sodium and to maybe add sauteed onions and more tofu in it for a nice meal.
The No Cookie Cookie - vegan cookies with no refined sugars. Very soft and flavorful! We tried Carob Mint...they also have Ginger Spice, Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip, Lemon Poppyseed, PB, and Island Coconut. They were reasonably priced, too!
Divine Mint Chocolate - 70% cocoa, fair trade, Andes mint flavor!

McMinnville, Oregon is a quaint and picturesque town that lies in the heart of the Willamette Valley, among wineries, farms, hills, and parks. It is 1 hour away from the coast and 1 hour away from the mountains! Flowers and beautiful trees everywhere, too. I don't know why we've stayed in Texas our whole lives!

Here are some fun Oregon facts:
  • State Bird: Western Meadowlark
  • State Colors: Navy Blue & Gold
  • State Flower: Oregon Grape
  • State Motto: "Alis volat Propriis" (She flies with her own wings.)
  • State Nickname: The Beaver State
  • State Nut: Hazelnut (Oregon is the only state with an official state nut.)
  • State Tree: Douglas Fir

I hope that we embrace Oregon, enjoy our jobs, and make wonderful memories here! Cheers to new opportunities and God bless, LK Sisters