Way back in this post, I asked you all if you’d be interested in tips on speeding up the process of cooking whole foods from scratch. Today, I’ll begin to answer that question. I realized there is so much to say on this topic that I’d need to split it up into two smaller posts. So today’s post covers the first four tips; come back next week for the rest of them!
[Clockwise from large photo: My Dad's Vegetable Soup; Nacho Supreme; green smoothie; Cinnamon-Curry Spiced Pumpkin Seeds.]
If you cook 98% of your food from scratch as I do, it’s really just a basic survival strategy to find ways to speed up the process and make it easier. Below are some of the things that I’ve found helpful over the years. I’ve come to most of these ideas on my own over time, but have also found some useful information on blogs and sites I’ve read along the way. So thank you to all the lovely bloggers and writers whose words contributed to this post!
Note: A truly “from-scratch” meal would be made entirely on my own, without ANY help from food manufacturers. If most of the ingredients were fresh and/or cooked entirely by me, I consider that from-scratch. If I use a canned or packaged product that is basically a single ingredient and one I could also make at home (most common in this category would be canned diced tomatoes or natural nut butters, for instance, but I also do use packaged alternative milks), then I also consider that “from scratch.” Of course, you have to draw your own line where it feels comfortable to you.
Continue reading 8 Tips for Cooking Whole Foods From Scratch. . .
The Girls having a little wrestle-fest in the back yard.
For someone who’s been without her mother for quite a long time (my mum died in 1991), I tend to think about her rather a lot.
Maybe it’s the little photo of her perched on my bedside table that I see every morning and evening. Maybe it’s the increasing resemblance to her face I spy in the mirror every day. Maybe it’s the way I still automatically scream out, “Maaa!!” whenever a stray bee or spider surprises me with its presence. Whatever the reason, nary a day goes by when I don’t think about my mom.
As I’ve observed my friends-who-are-mothers raising their children, I’ve come to appreciate more and more what my mother offered in the time we were together.
For the first few years after she died, I refused to acknowledge Mother’s Day. I’d deliberately make other plans that would divert my attention, such as going to a movie, attending a workout class (ah, the days of attending workout classes. . . !), or cleaning out the kitchen cupboards (ah, the days of cleaning out. . . anything).
More recently, though, I’ve learned to embrace the day wholeheartedly. After all, I’ve realized, anyone can celebrate mothers today, whether it be their own biological moms or moms of the heart.
I may not have children, but I have certainly felt the yanking of the maternal heartstrings any time one of my beloved Girls has been sick or injured. I’ve lived through vicarious motherhood, experiencing the traumas and frustrations of raising toddlers to youngsters to teens to young adults alongside my best friends who have children. And I’ve felt something akin to the love of a daughter, directed at dear relatives and friends who’ve shown me the affection and care much like that my own mom did way back when.
“Mum, sorry about that yanking of the heartstrings stuff. I hope it didn’t hurt.”
And so, for any of you who are mothers today, who have or had mothers, or who are close to a mother–here’s wishing you a very happy, loving, and joyful day. And don’t forget to let that mom know just how much she means to you, while she’s still around to hear it.
“Mum, you know how much YOU mean to us, right? I mean, who else can I poke with my wet nose every morning? And who would throw the Frisbee for me? And who would give me endless handfuls of treats if you weren’t here. . . . GULP! Mum, you’re not planning on going anywhere any time soon, are you? ARE YOU?”
When I was an undergrad, I submitted a short story to the university literary journal, which was edited by my beloved mentor, John Ditsky (I guess on some level, since we’d already become friends by then and he’d always encouraged my writing, I kind of “knew” he’d publish the story). It was a tale about a 20-something university student who arrives home for the holidays, only to find that her parents don’t recognize her. She meanders through the house, frantically seeking signs that she’d once lived there, only to find none. No matter which childhood stories she relates, or which personal items she describes, her parents don’t seem to recognize her. Eventually, confused and hysterical, she crumples to the ground, pounding her fist on the floor like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes, wailing, “But I’m your daughter! It’s ME, your daughter!! I’m your daughter. . . you know me. . . Oh, my God. . . ” and runs from the house, clearly having lost her sanity. In the last scene of the story, the mother turns to the father and asks, “Who was that young woman?” To which the father intones, “I have no idea.”
Continue reading Rutabaga Hash Browns. . .
[What might be hiding under this neatly wrapped tissue? Read on to find out!]
I’ve been thinking about the perfect giveaway for Mother’s Day. Something that would make life easier for Mum. Something filled with good food that everyone could eat.
With this Tasterie box, I think I’ve found it. (Disclosure: I received a free Tasterie box and am on the Tasterie advisory board. Tasterie is also providing a prize for one of my readers. The opinions in this post are my own). Even though I lost my own mom years ago, there are still many moms in my life that I love and value. And I know that all mothers out there appreciate a little help–and recognition for what they do!
I first learned about Tasterie last year when I was contacted by the company’s owner, Lama Rimawi, to see if I’d be interested in sitting on the advisory board for her new company. Tasterie is an allergy-safe food and snack box that is delivered right to your door each month. They have a dozen (yes, 12!) different types of boxes to cover virtually any kind of allergies or diets, from simply “gluten and wheat” or “egg” allergies to “top 8″ or “vegan and gluten-free” (the one I got). And each box is packed by hand and overseen by their attentive and educated staff.
Rimawi is herself a pediatrician and mom. She created the company as an antidote to endless hours scouring the store shelves to find safe foods for her two young sons with multiple allergies. As she says,”The lack of allergy-safe and great tasting food products available is ridiculous! I can remember standing in the aisles of supermarkets trying to read labels, sleep deprived, with a newborn at home and a toddler running around my legs wanting an easier and better option. All I wanted was to find something to eat that wouldn’t cause a reaction in my little son.” The result was Tasterie, which has been growing steadily since its inception.
Can you trust the foods you receive in a Tasterie box? Absolutely. Again, I think Rimawi says it best when she describes the procedure her company uses to source and pack the items in each Tasterie box. She points out, “We search the globe to find the most amazing foods and snacks that fit your food allergy and dietary needs. As a food allergy mom, I place safety as our top priority.” They also have in place a “rigorous selection process developed by physicians and industry experts. This quality controlled, multistep process has been peer reviewed to make sure that it is as thorough as possible.” Rimawi also taste-tests every item in the box first, with her family, to ensure that the foods and snacks are delicious and will appeal to kids. (It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it!).
My May box contained seven items:
- Farmstand Split Pea Soup (a dry mix to which you add water or vegetable broth);
- Really Great Foods Vanilla Muffin Mix (the mix itself is vegan; can be made with egg or egg substitutes);
- Ener-G Crackers (a great gluten-free version of saltines);
- MiniPops – itty bitty butter (popped sorghum grain–like mini popcorn!);
- Tasty Brand Fruit Snacks;
- Barney Butter Almond Butter; and
- Bumble Bars – chocolate flavor (a sesame/seed bar).
- Bonus: coupons for most of the items in the box!
I should note that this is not a sugar-free box, so I couldn’t taste everything, but the items I did sample were terrific. I’m going to make the muffins for the HH so will report back! I tried a nibble of the cracker (just like those saltines of yore), the mini-pops (a fantastic snack for just 100 calories), the Barney Butter (which I’ve been pining after since I first heard about it–not available in Canada), and the Bumble Bars (yum). Each month is a different selection, so you’ll have the chance to try out different foods from these as well, of course.
I think a delivery of a Tasterie box would be a great gift to help ease the pressure on Mom, don’t you?
If you’d like to win a free sample Tasterie box for June, enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. I’ll choose a winner on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, so check back on that day to see if you’ve won for your mom!
Eligibility: US residents (apologies to my Canadian and international friends!)
How to Enter: Use the Rafflecopter form to leave a comment (required), below. Click on the green +1 to open the box, then leave a comment in the comments section below the post. Clicking on “I commented!” allows you to access the other options. Then, increase your chances with any of the other options, if desired (not required).
Deadline: Contest ends at 11:59 PM EST on May 11th. Winner announced Mother’s Day, May 12th.
Good luck, everyone, and enjoy the special day with Mom this Sunday!
["Sounds great, Mum! We're happy to help you eat your vegan and gluten-free snacks, but wouldn't it be great if they started a Canine Treat Box, too?"]
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Ah, how I love breakfast. It’s the one meal of which I never tire–and for which I can always find infinite varieties of foods to prepare. Well, when Wendy of Cooking Quinoa asked if I’d whip up something for a guest post on her blog while she tends to her gorgeous new little girl, I was thrilled to oblige! (And congrats, Wendy, and to all of you on the addition of Skye to your family!).
For years, I attempted to perfect a breakfast muffin that contained whole cooked grains, but I found the results were consistently too moist. (Whereas The Girls were thrilled, since it meant they got lots of extra tester muffins to sample.). When I began to experiment with psyllium in baked goods about a year ago, I knew I’d finally hit on the magic ingredient to transform those soggy muffins.
Head over to Wendy’s blog to see my perfect wholegrain breakfast muffin!
“So, Mum, does this mean Elsie and I won’t be getting samples any more?”
“Zip it, Chaser. . . you know that Mum never gets it right on the first try. Don’t worry, there will still be lots of failed baking attempts for us to sample in the future.”
Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to Diet, Dessert and Dogs via email. (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs
[The different kinds of Growing Naturals protein powders, plus rice milk powder.]
Several months ago (I’m embarrassed to tell you how many), I received a lovely package from the folks at Growing Naturals.
Growing Naturals create amazing raw, whole food, protein powders and rice milk powder that are gluten-free, dairy free, corn free, soy free, and vegan. They are organic and non-GMO, carefully sourced and tested before they’re packaged and sold. I love their motto, too: “Natural Products for All People!” That’s because they offer a great source of protein to everyone, vegans and omnivores alike (24 grams per serving!).
Click here to read more and enter the giveaway. . .
Special Note! There’s a giveaway on now of Growing Naturals Protein Powder–the very powder I use in this recipe! Once you’ve seen the recipe, head over here to enter the giveaway!
What’s the most dreaded question ever asked of a vegan? Go ahead and guess. Here are some to get you started:
- “Wow, I guess you must really love veggies, eh?”
- “So, are you friends with Ellen DeGeneres?”
- “Is it pronounced VEE-gun or VAY-gun?”
- “Wanna come back to my place and split a tofu pizza?”
Okay, so I was being a bit crafty here, since none of those is the question I’m thinking about. (But the answers to those ones are, respectively: I really do. Only in my mind. But I would dearly love to serve up some treats from my new cookbook on her show. VEE-gun, though some of us oldies still use the antiquated VAY-gun. Well. . . . okay. [That last one was an actual question posed to me many years ago on a date with Rocker Guy. The pizza was great, but too bad the relationship sucked.].
The single question, then, that is most dreaded by VEE-guns far and wide is this:
Click here to keep reading High Protein Mocha Sunbutter . . .
Can you all believe it’s SNOWING here in Toronto today? Anyone who knows me (or even anyone who’s met me for more than 30 seconds, at any point between October and April) knows how much I hate winter. As soon as the tiniest hint of spring arrives, I’m ready to throw out the old and usher in the new: I pack up the boots and scarves; I fold up the heavy blankets; I even enjoy a bit of spring cleaning.
We’re far off from true spring right now, but that didn’t stand in the way of some recent spring cleaning. The other day, I spied a can of black beans that had been waiting patiently for someone to use them—and these vegan Black Bean Burgers sprang to mind. I was absolutely delighted with the final results. Not too spicy, firm and crispy on the outside, with a great mix of black beans and veggies. And no oil added!
I know you’ll love these, too. To check out the recipe, head over to the Attune Foods blog. And don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think!
In the meantime, I hope the weather is better where you are.
I’ve got a new Facebook page–and I hope you’ll visit me there! I’m perpetually grateful to all of you who’ve “liked” my Diet, Dessert and Dogs page, but it’s time to move on. With a new cookbook on the horizon and lots of other cool sugar-free, anti-candida and allergy-friendly offerings in the works, I wanted a Facebook page that reflected all of that (along with DDD too, of course!). To keep it simple, this one is just called “Ricki Heller,” and I’ll be posting all the same things I now do on the DDD page (which will be shut down on August 31, 2013). So please hop over to the new page and “like” it so you won’t miss out when things switch over this summer!
Hard to believe, but today is the HH‘s and my 16th anniversary! (Wait, how is that possible? I still feel as if I AM sixteen–well, internally, anyway. Externally, it’s more like, “where did those 16 new wrinkles come from?” or “how did I suddenly acquire 16 new aches and pains in my knees?” or “sixteen new gray hairs?! Wahhhh!!!”. Okay, I guess that every kind of “sixteen” tends to creep up on you).
Click here to read more about our relationship (and pizza). . .
Thanks for visiting Wellness Weekend again this week! I love, love, LOVE all the good-for-you dishes you share here each week.
Last week featured some amazing coconut waffles, Italian kale chips, Apple Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola, Grain-free Cinnamon scones, and all kinds of yummy Easter treats. Totally delicious!
Do you have a blog linky event or giveaway you’d like me to mention? I also will occasionally mention new courses that bloggers offer their readers. Send me an email with the details to dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom and I’ll include three or four each week. Please note that I cannot always accommodate all requests.
PLEASE DO NOT ADD YOUR GIVEAWAYS OR CONTESTS TO THE LINKYS BELOW–THEY ARE FOR RECIPES ONLY.
This Week’s Picks:
In honor of not one, but TWO greens-related posts last week, I thought it only fitting to make the theme here a green one, too. And so, green veggies it is!
Dandelion Greens and Mushroom Soup from Rebel Grrrl Kitchen. Dandelion greens are one of my faves, and I don’t have them often enough!
Lupini Bean and Brussels Sprouts Slaw from Wayfaring Chocolate. Hannah uses a rare bean for this slaw. I’ve tried lupinis once–bet they are great in this dish!
Dill-icious Kale Chips from Rock My Vegan Socks. Another flavor of kale chips–never too many, I say!
And This Week’s Readers’ Choices:
Readers’ Choice, Savory:
Lentil Bread from Awaken Your Taste Buds. I love the simplicity of this bread. So cool how it works!
Readers’ Choice, Sweet:
Super Safe Carrot Cake from What Smells So Good. Carrot cake for everyone–yay!!
Thanks for joining in and sharing all your healthy, sugar-free and vegan recipes. I love seeing what you whip up each week! And I hope you’ll also share on twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, too!
Here’s How to Participate:
The event occurs once a week, starting Thursdays at 8:00 PM my time and running until the following Monday at midnight.
- Simply link up a vegan recipe you made (and posted about) that contains health-supporting ingredients. This means any good-for-you whole foods, especially those with antioxidant properties or “functional foods” (ie, offering naturally medicinal or health-promoting qualities–such as garlic, coconut oil, all vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc.)–but any fresh, real food is welcome! No-no’s include white flour or sugar, highly processed foods, or animal products. Definite no-no’s include: cane sugar (evaporated or otherwise), sweeteners ending in -itol, margarines, or faux meat products.Items like vegan protein powder, grain or bean flours, or coconut milk are fine even though they are technically “processed,” since they either contain a single ingredient, or could technically be made at home. Also, please note that this is a vegan recipe event. A minor ingredient with a vegan option is fine, but if the main ingredient is intended to be meat or other animal product, your recipe likely belongs in a different link up event.
- This is a recipe event. Your blog post must contain a recipe.
- You may link up older posts from your archives as long as they contain a link to this post. Please do not link up any posts you have previously shared at an earlier Wellness Weekend event.
- Please link the post with your recipe, NOT your blog’s home page or another event page.
- You may submit up to three recipes, but please follow the guidelines for each one individually. ONLY ONE THUMBNAIL FROM EACH BLOG POST, PLEASE.If your post contains two suitable recipes, link up once and people will still see all your fabulous recipes when they click on the linky.
- Please mention this event and include a link back to this post so that others can find all the recipes posted!
- Feel free to use the blog badge, above (or see the left sidebar of this page–if you need the html code, let me know and I’ll send it to you). Many thanks to Adrienne of Whole New Mom for setting up the badge code for me!
PLEASE NOTE: In order to promote your posts and the event, I like to occasionally tweet, mention on Facebook, or pin your blog post(s). On occasion, I will repost your photos in the following week’s Wellness Weekend as well. If you prefer that I NOT use your photos or links, please let me know in the comments below, or send an email to me at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom. Thanks!
I will reluctantly remove any links that don’t comply. I apologize, but I will no longer be able to leave a comment telling you that I’ve removed a non-compliant link. I hate to have to remove links! PLEASE READ THE GUIDELINES BEFORE POSTING!
And now. . . what have you been cooking up lately? Please share!
DDD READERS: It May Be Time To Update Your Subscription!
I know that many of you, like me, read your favorite blogs via Google Reader. Well, if that’s how you keep up with DDD, be warned that Google Reader is closing down as of July 1, 2013! (I know–boo hoo).
I am always so grateful for your visits and your comments on the blog and I don’t want you to lose touch! To ensure that you continue to receive notices whenever I add a new blog post–or to get updates on the new cookbook or other happenings here at DDD–you can easily subscribe via email. That way, you won’t miss a thing! Just click here to receive every new DDD post right in your Inbox.
Thanks so much for reading. (And if any of you know of other good readers to use, please feel free to share in the comments!).
© Ricki Heller 2013.