one girl’s perspective on life, neopaganism, veganism, politics, books, films, and… stuff.

Archive for the ‘Food and Recipes’ Category

Homemade Vegan PB & Choc Protein Bars

Yes, I am still alive! I’m just in ultra-hermit mode, so while I still spend a lot of my time indulging my various hobbies, I just don’t bother sharing the results. Which is selfish! But these bars have proved delicious and popular, so here is the recipe; it’s too good not to share.

(These are technically gluten-free, but contain oats, so it depends on whether you can personally handle oats. Otherwise, substitute rice/quinoa flakes.)

Vegan PB & Choc Protein Bars
Original Recipe, Makes 16 large bars

Ingredients

– 14 medjool dates
– 1 1/4 C puffed rice (or a combination of puffed rice, buckwheat and quinoa)
– 1/2 C quick oats
– 1/2 C rolled oats
– 1/3 C raw cacao powder
– 1 C vegan protein powder
– 1/2 C peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, it’s up to you!)
– 1/2 C rice malt syrup or honey

– Optional; 1 TBSP maca powder, 1-3 TBSPs vegan calcium powder

Method

1. Remove the pits from the dates and dice them. Place in a bowl and cover with warm water for 10-15 minutes until soft

2. Drain dates and transfer them to a blender/food processor, and pulse until it forms a thick paste

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine puffed rice, oats, cacao powder and protein powder

4. In a small saucepan combine the peanut butter and honey/rice syrup over a low heat, stirring constantly, until it goes soft and starts to bubble

5. Add the date paste and peanut butter/honey mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix until combined – it’s easiest to wet your hands and knead it through

6. Press the mixture into a 9 inch/ 23 cm square tin lined with baking paper. Press it in VERY firmly

7. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until solid. Cut into 16 squares or smaller. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Nutritional Info:
(For 16 squares, per square)
250 Kcal
15g Protein calcium powder

Gingerdead House for Xmas 2014

I’m baaaa-aaaack! It’s not like I haven’t been creating things, I just haven’t really felt like sharing them. But I’ve decided that that is just too great a loss for the Internet, so here we are with a zombie-themed gingerbread house/people!

This was my first-ever attempt at making a gingerbread house, by the way. I’m pretty damn satisfied with the results! And the recipe for the gingerbread itself came from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, one of my FAVE cook books!

Collage of all four sides:

Gingerdead House Collage

Gingerdead House 1

Gingerdead House 2

Gingerdead House 3

Gingerdead House 4

And then the gingerdead people/zombies themselves!

Gingerdead 5

Gingerdead 4

Gingerdead 3

Gingerdead 2

Gingerdead 1

Gingerdead 6

Tah dah! Questions? Comments?

How-To Guide: Preparing Tofu

I’m working on expanding my blog again, as it had largely descended into collections of photographs and little else. Hence the more diverse and wordy posts!

Today I’m going to show you, step by step, how to prepare tofu for maximum flavour and texture. A lot of people have had bad experiences with watery, gross tofu, because success largely rests on preparatory steps that most people don’t know about. Here they are:

What you will need:

  • Tofu – generally, you want to use firm/extra firm tofu. Silken tofu is mostly used for baking and making desserts. Recipes will generally specify what type you need: this tutorial looks at how to prepare firm tofu.
  • Paper towels, at least 4 sheets (I always recommend 100% recycled)
  • Two plates (smaller is generally easier, but use what you have)
  • A handtowel or other rag for absorbing any excess liquid
  • Something heavy and regular shaped for pressing; the Oxford English Dictionary works a treat (I used a box of breadmix for this example)

Preparing tofu 1

1. Put down a towel on the bench to catch stray water (I used a dirty tea towel then throw it in the wash). Lay down two sheets of paper towel on the bottom plate.

Preparing tofu 2

2. Remove tofu from package, drain thoroughly, and place on the paper towel covered plate.

Preparing tofu 3

3. Place two more paper towels over the top of the tofu.

Preparing tofu 4

4. Place the second plate on top, making sure it’s centred.

Preparing tofu 5

5. Place the heavy object on top of the top plate, making sure the stack is stable.

Preparing tofu 6
(Sorry about the blurry picture!)

6. Leave the tofu to press for up to 4 hours, then slice it as desired. And don’t forget that paper towels are recyclable!

If you’re making a stir fry or something similar I highly recommend putting the drained and diced tofu in a container and covering it with the sauce you’re going to use. Leave it to marinate for up to 48 hrs, and the tofu will absorb more of the sauce, now that the water has been squeezed out!

Any comments or questions? Was this helpful or the same old same old?

Ethical Shopping; A Quick Guide

The more I learn about the world of food production, corporate supermarket operations, and the environmental implications of modern lifestyle, the more thought I have to put into my shopping. The maxim about “voting with your dollar” is largely true, and there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. That being said, it doesn’t need to be difficult, and we all choose which factors most strongly influence our buying.

One of the biggest factors, which I don’t discuss below, is having the income to be able to make ethical shopping purchases. I am on a pretty damn low income, but I have made buying quality (and conscionable) food/products a priority. I don’t buy much (other than books, second-hand mostly), I don’t “eat out”, buy new clothes, etc. To me it’s worth saving my pennies elsewhere in order to eat well!

As a side note, I am surprisingly lucky in terms of access to local (and often organically) grown produce, and local businesses to support. For a small country town, the access to ethically sourced foods is amazing. Not to mention said local produce is usually MUCH CHEAPER than the produce available in the supermarkets!

Now we’ve gotten the preamble out of the way, here is a brief guide to the things I consider when buying a product.

  1. Where am I buying it? Especially with products in the major supermarkets, I always ask “Can I get this from a local business instead?”
  2. Is it vegan? Any animal ingredients (including E numbers)? Is it tested on animals?
      Animal-derived (i.e. non-vegan) E numbers:

    • 120 Carmine
    • 441 Gelatine
    • 542 Bone Phosphate
    • 631 Glutamic Acid
    • 901 Beeswax
    • 910, 920, 921 L-cysteine
    • 913 Lanolin
    • 966 Lactitol
  3. Is it Australian made? Check for products made from LOCAL ingredients only, not a mixture of local and imported.
  4. Is the manufacturer Australian? Even if the ingredients come from Australia, the parent company itself may be a multinational/international corporation. So it’s always worth checking.
  5. Does the manufacturer have a “black” listing? Has the company been accused of any unethical practices, code violations, human rights violations, etc.?

    As a quick guide, the 6 major companies you should boycott on this basis are;

    • Nestlé (aggressively marketed infant formula in developing countries; dependency on these products leads to infant deaths, workers’ rights, pollution)
    • Coca-Cola (murders, kidnappings and torture of union leaders in Colombia, pollution of soil/groundwater in India)
    • L’Oréal / Procter & Gamble (ongoing involvement in animal testing, with no interest in stopping; L’Oréal is also part-owned by Nestlé)
    • GlaxoSmithKline (animal testing, adulterated drugs, $3b fine for fraud)
    • Unilever (animal testing, BPA policy, price fixing, worker exploitation in Kenya and India)
    • Johnson & Johnson (animal testing, unethical marketing, price fixing, action on Darfur)
  6. How many ingredients? Is it mostly whole foods, is the ingredients list a mile long, how many artificial ingredients are there? I try and avoid unnecessary processing where possible.

    For example, quick oats have one ingredient, oats. Pre-flavoured quick oats often have up to FIFTEEN ingredients, even for flavours as simple as “brown sugar”. I’d rather just add some brown sugar to the oats myself; with soy milk that’s a total of 3 ingredients!

  7. How much packaging is involved? Can I get a version with less packaging? Is the packaging recyclable?

    I buy my cat tuna in tins for this reason; the individual sachet pouches aren’t recyclable, but tins are!

When buying produce there are a few extra considerations;

  1. Can I get this locally? A lot of farmers are happy to sell the produce that supermarkets reject because it’s not “perfect”, with the bonus of it being fresh (and did you know those rough brown spots on the skins of apples usually indicate a sweeter apple?). It’s worth hunting around to find out if you have this option.

    Obviously, if you live in a city (you poor thing!), this isn’t very practical; I’d suggest trying to find produce that comes from within your own state, if possible. The aim of the game is to select produce with the lowest food miles; there’s also nothing like fresh produce!

  2. Should I buy organic? This is a tricky one; as a general rule, I first consider whether the item is one of the “Dirty Dozen” or the “Clean Fifteen”. These are general guides indicating which foods are grown using the greatest amount of pesticides and petro-chemicals. They are:

      Dirty Dozen (buy these organic where possible)

    • Apples
    • Capsicums
    • Blueberries
    • Celery
    • Cucumbers
    • Grapes
    • Lettuce
    • Nectarines
    • Peaches
    • Potatoes
    • Spinach (and kale and other greens)
    • Strawberries
      Clean Fifteen (minimal pesticides used in production)

    • Asparagus
    • Avocado
    • Cabbage
    • Cantaloupe
    • Corn
    • Eggplant
    • Grapefruit
    • Kiwi fruit
    • Mangoes
    • Mushrooms
    • Onions
    • Pineapples
    • Sweet peas
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Watermelon

So there you have it, a (reasonably) short and sweet guide to ethical shopping considerations! Now, this is a lot to remember, especially when you’re busy grocery shopping. I use several reference materials, in handy pocket form, that ensure I can look all this stuff up on the fly. They are;

  1. The “Shop Ethical” guide, a new pocket-sized guide book that I am absolutely NUTS about! It provides you with information about products and companies, including animal products/testing, human rights violations, companies accused of ethical violations, the country of origin of companies, and a very useful guide to what is Australian owned/made. (And it’s only $9! I actually have two of these, one for each of my bags, so I’m never without!)
  2. A list of animal derived E numbers; I have written the above list out on a post-it and taped it to the back of the Shop Ethical guide.

  3. “The Chemical Maze”, which comes in a bookshelf or pocket size, and gives you a complete list of all E numbers and common chemicals in cleaning and costmetic products. It tells you what they’re derived from, what their function is, whether there are any health/safety issues associated with the chemical, and common uses.

As always, questions and comments are more than welcome!

Another Year, Another Post

Well here we are again, at the beginning of the year… the secular/calendar year, anyway. I’ve always felt that it’s a very arbitrary marker of time, when the seasons flow endlessly into one another – wouldn’t it make more sense to go back to counting things by summers? I’ve now lived 25 summers. After all, clocks are a tool of the capitalist machine, used to control the proletariat!

It’s lonely being a vegan-feminist-left-wing-intellectual in rural Australia this world.

Not to mention being a vegan locovore (as much as possible) who is concerned with sustainable business and farming practices, not to mention human and animal rights, who has been forced by circumstance to work for one of the multinational grocery chains.

It’s about as soul crushing as you might imagine…

Every time I see one of their propaganda pieces about how they “treat and pay farmers well” or are concerned with “sustainable” food production I want to scream. It’s all goddamn lies, and people buy into it hook, line and sinker.

I’ve been doing more and more reading regarding the “hidden” costs and horrors implicit in a supermarket-driven food economy, and it’s some scary shit. Having eliminated animal suffering from my diet/life, I am now working towards ensuring humans don’t suffer either. From a self-confessed misanthropist extremis, this may seem surprising, but we can hardly expect society at large to treat non-human animals with respect when they’re still exploiting their own species.

I consider these two essential reading when it comes to understanding how the modern human “food chain” really works:

Not On the Label, Felicity Lawrence

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan

Especially for those of you in Australia, I also highly recommend;

Eating Between The Lines: Food and Equality in Australia, Rebecca Huntley

Eating Between the Lines is a fascinating look at how economic, geographical and gender factors all influence how/what people buy, prepare, eat and generally interact with, food. The analysis of gender roles relating to food was a thought provoking examination that appears to be rarely mentioned in most literature dealing with food-human interaction.

See, I really wish I had someone in person with whom to discuss these ideas. Or any ideas, really. Anything but banal fucking melodrama and offspring (the spawn of human breeders, not the band). Basically, I just want a clone of myself, so we could discuss books, ideas, films, comics… sigh.

The long and short of it is, as I mentioned in my previous post, I don’t much feel like talking with most people. The conversation isn’t anything particularly important or interesting, so why bother? Not to mention, the older I get, the less I want other people involved in, or knowing about, my affairs. It inevitably leads to drama!

So I’m going to attempt to update here more often, and use it as something of an intellectual outlet, when I’m not too braindead and exhausted from working shitty shift hours. I have to turn my brain off at work in order to survive my job, now I have to get back into the habit of turning it back on afterwards.

There will probably be more book/film reviews and somewhat less baking – my oven is unreliable at best, and a complete bitch at worst. It’s about 50 years old, electric and very, very variable in temperature. So it’s somewhat taken the joy out of baking, because I’m constantly stressing about getting cooking times right and not burning things. Ugh. I do still bake, but largely unimaginative things – I’m rarely game to risk trying a new recipe when there are good odds my oven will fuck it up…

Thank the Gods for my cat, whom I love so dearly. And monkeybars.

We're All Mad Here

Vegan Bento #53

Welcome to the latest lunch post!

Vegan Bento 53

Top Left: homemade half-raw hommus with carrot cutout.

Top Right: carrot sticks and flowers, tomato from dad’s garden.

Bottom Left: Pigs in mud! Homemade iced brownie surrounded by sultanas, dried pineapple, apple rings and blueberries (yellow cup).

Bottom Right: Seaweed rice crackers with Sheese chunks, dry roasted garlic chickpeas (yellow cup), pistachios (pink cup).

I was very pleased with my pigs in mud, pigs being one of the most beautiful species on the planet. And they’re such cuties!

Vegan Bento #52

That’s right, the vegan bento blogger is back! I’ve been working mostly full time for a few weeks, and now I’m used to it I’m more inclined to pack a proper bento.

That being said, this is more of a snack bento, as I had my lunch separately.

Vegan Bento 52

Top tier L-R: “Freedom Foods” muesli bar, sultanas, golden sultanas, pistachios and dry-roasted garlic chickpeas (in pink cup).

Bottom tier L-R: seaweed rice crackers, spicy Indian potato snacks, raw cashews (in yellow cup), raw sunflower seedss (in blue cup).

The little cupcake container hold a mixture of nutritional yeast, veggie salt and cracker pepper, for seasoning the 5 bean mix that was my lunch. And a Clif bar because I am freaking addicted to them!

Stay tuned for the next post, which will probably include photos of my cat. Heheheeh. 😀

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