Friday, March 30, 2012

Dawn's Secret Chippers

These are so good I considered keeping them as a "secret family recipe."  Has anyone ever done that? Several years ago, a neighbor in my old South Philly hood (no, she was not Italian) made these awesome peanut butter candy brownie things.  She gave me some, me likey, me ask for recipe, she no tell me recipe. She said it was a "family secret." It was probably a box mix. I'm no good at keeping recipe secrets.  I am, however, good at keeping other secrets, so feel free to share juicy bits of your life in the comments section.

Dawn’s Secret Chippers

 Inspired by the chocolate chip cookie recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking.

10-12 tablespoons of Earth Balance non-dairy butter (1 stick + 2-4Tbs)
1 ¼ cups sugar (3/4 cup packed organic brown sugar, ½ cup organic white sugar)
2 tsp vanilla extract

4 ½ tsps of Egg Replacer Powder
1/3 cup (6 Tablespoons) of water

2 ¼ cups white whole wheat flour, King Arthur brand preferred*
*Another secret is to substitute ¼ to ½ cup very finely chopped walnuts for the same amount of flour (ex: if you use ½ cup walnuts, leave out ½ cup of the flour). I chop the nuts by hand until they resemble coarse flour, you can also use a food processor to chop for you! People don’t realize they have nuts, but know they taste awesome. Do not use to trick people with nut allergies, though!

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (yes, a full tsp)

1 ½ cups chocolate chips, choco candy pieces, nuts, etc.

*I like a certain saturation ratio of chocolate chips to plain cookie, not too many and not too few chips, and I find that 1 ½ cups of chips (for me) gives the perfect ratio.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut butter up into pieces and put in the bowl of a stand-mixer, which is what I use for this recipe—or, use a large bowl if you are going to use a hand mixer or good ol’ elbow grease and a wooden spoon.  Put the measured butter in the bowl first so it can come to room temp while prepping the rest of the recipe. 

Whisk the egg replacer powder and the water together in a small bowl until creamy and very well combined.  I use my mini whisk (the Whisk O’ Doom) to do this and it works great.

Sift the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl.

Once butter is soft/at room temp (should be soft after you prepare the egg replacer and the dry ingredients) add the sugar and the vanilla and mix on low speed until creamed.  Add egg replacer mixture to the creamed butter/sugar and mix until well combined.  Add the flour mixture gradually, and mix on low speed until just combined (you will have to stop it and scrape down the sides manually, get dough out of the paddle, etc.), then add chocolate chips. Give it a few more turns to incorporate the chips, scrape all the dough out of the paddle, and you are ready to go.

Use a “medium” oxo scoop (=1.5 tablespoons) to scoop cookies out onto a Silpat-lined, heavy cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.  If you don’t have a Silpat, use parchment or just grease your cookie sheet.  With the flat side of a small measuring cup (I use a ¼ cup or 1/3 cup dry measuring cup for this) dipped in a little flour, press the cookies down a bit on the sheet just so they are flat. They will be ablout ¼ inch thick. 

Bake for about 15-16 minutes on the middle rack of your oven.  You can check your cookies earlier, but mine are never done until about 16 minutes (on my dark cookie sheet) and even 18-19 minutes on my lighter aluminum cookie sheet, just sayin’.  Allow cookies to cool about 4 minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.

Makes 34 cookies (if using a “medium” Oxo scoop= 1.5 T measure).  

Once cookies are completely cool, wrap each one in foil.  This really preserves the freshness of the cookie and I recommend you do it whether you freeze them or not!  I save the wrappers for the next batch, too. You can then freeze them in a zipper locked freezer bag for quite a while.  Just take the cookie out for about 5 minutes to come to room temp before eating.  We also eat them directly out of the freezer, no problem. 

Enjoy with some freshly brewed tea.
Himalayan tea from The Tea Trekker

What's your secret?

Monday, March 26, 2012

My Dinner, Venus & Our Moon

 Macaroni & Cashew "Cheese" with Fresh Spinach, Sunflower & Cranberry Salad with Picholine Olive Oil &  18 Year Balsamic Vinegar 

 Crescent Moon & Venus (Love you, Grandpa Jim!)

Again, longer exposure, hand-held.

Have a great night, and check out Venus, Jupiter and Mars, they're amazing! Mercury is also supposed to show up soon, and Saturn rises late (haven't seen it yet, but apparently you can see her rings with regular strength binoculars!). 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Good News

YES. I got into my CSA of choice this year, Honey Brook Organic Farm!

If you want a consistent supply of local, organic produce, the only real way to guarantee it (besides growing your own) is to join a local, organic CSA.  Last year, I tried to get away with growing my own produce (fun and tasty but didn't yield enough) and shopping Farmer's Markets.  I was sorely disappointed in the markets' produce.  None of it was organic (at the markets here in NJ, anyway) and it wasn't very good.  So, I sucked it up and went for a CSA again this year (I did one two years ago, see below).

If you haven't signed up yet, consider trying a CSA this season. CSA= Community Supported Agriculture, and basically, you pay a lump sum (or a few payments) to a farm (or co-op of several farms) who then provide you with a box of produce every week, usually for about five to six months (May through November for most).  You pick up the box at a pick-up location that is most convenient to you (depending on the farm you are using) on a designated day and time each week.   You can put in your zip code under the map in the right hand column of the link above, and it will find CSAs, Farmer's Markets, Grocery/Co-ops, etc.  It's awesome!

For those of you in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area, here are some awesome CSAs you may want to consider.  I'm sure there are still "shares" left at most of them.  Just call or email the farm to check in.

1. Honey Brook Organic Farm (my CSA this year) located in Pennington, NJ and Chesterfield, NJ.  Here is a link to the CSA application for this year.  Call or email them at to see if they have any shares left at your desired pick-up location.  A huge perk for Honey Brook is that only CSA members can visit the farm and get Pick-Your-Own privileges.  PYO is EVERY WEEK in addition to the boxed share.  I'M SO EXCITED. Strawberries, look out! I'm a comin' to murder ya' and then torture ya' in my new VitaMix. OH YES.

2. Greensgrow, the urban farm located in Philadelphia, PA. Greensgrow also has pick-ups in Camden, NJ for my NJ peeps.  They have options for a protein (cheese, eggs, tofu, local seitan (yes!) and also sometimes has bread and local beer in the box!  I bet it's sweet. They also have an option for half-shares and you can shop at the farm itself for anything without joining the CSA.   Here is the link to Greensgrow.

3. Suburban Organics is a delivery service that sources 100% certified organic produce and delivers it to your door.  If you are too lazy or too busy to pick-up a box of veggies every week, why not have it delivered? Suburban Organics will do that for you.  No commitment to a whole season of boxes is necessary.  You can just order one box to check it out if you want.  It's expensive, but probably appropriately so for hand-delivered, locally sourced, organic produce.  They deliver to PA, NJ and DE.  You can check out what you might get in a box and the prices here.

4. And, lastly, Lancaster Farm.  This is a farmer's co-op that provides a CSA and is based in Lancaster, PA. I used this CSA two years ago, but the pick up locations are not convenient for me now.  It was very good, though, you get a big box, the season was long, and it was tasty! It's also Certified Organic.  About 80 farms participate in the program.

If you don't want to or can't do a CSA for whatever reason, check out your local Farmer's Markets.  Find one here or ask your friends to recommend one.  

I'm so psyched for this season to start! Local, organic strawberries, here I come!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mommy, you forgot to make a blend!

People deal with having a sick loved one in a lot of different ways.  Some people talk about it, try to problem solve, get information, and prepare themselves and others for what is to come.  Others fall silent, get angry, or worse.  Everyone handles it differently.  And it's all OK.

Since my blood kills cancer, I consider myself a large, portable container full of chemotherapy.  Just pour my blood directly on your cancer cells, OK? Oh, no? Not a good idea?  Fine. Then, let me make you a drink.

Organic Blueberry Breakfast Shake 
With: organic wild (frozen) blueberries, organic, non-GMO soy protein powder, organic almond milk, and a frozen banana instead of ice.  

  Take that, cancer.


P.S. This post was supposed to air on Tuesday, but I've been preoccupied with said loved one and it was tough earlier this week :-((

Monday, March 19, 2012

Name That Plant: Mystery Monday!

Thought we'd do a quick game to start the week.  How about a Mystery Monday? Also, reminder: tomorrow is MeatOut so get ready! any of you guys know what these are?

And, the close-ups:

Be as specific as possible in your answers.

Good luck! Winner will be awarded prestige beyond imagination :-)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Plants: Saving lives one bite at a time!

"Healthy diets can prevent, successfully treat, and in many cases, even reverse many of the chronic diseases that are killing people today."--Dr. Michael Greger. What he means by a "healthy diet" is as close to a vegan diet as is possible for you and yours.  The closer to 100%, the better.

There are so many amazing nutritional facts about plant foods that I don't even know where to start, so, I'll just start with my personal favorites.  I hand picked these from Dr. Michael Greger's wonderful site,  You can play around on that site all day, look up any food that interests you and watch the videos, or just go to the home page for all the most recent videos (he updates daily or very nearly daily with the most cutting edge nutrition research available).  

In no particular order, here are five of my faves:

1. You know how regular, ol' white mushrooms have kinda a bad rap? Well, they are really good for you and cheap, too!  They have the second highest antioxidants when compared with fancier mushrooms, YES.

3. Kale. I LOVE KALE (organic, of course).  If you are afraid of it or how to cook it, never fear.  You can COOK THE SH** OUT OF IT and it will NOT diminish it's nutritional properties.  It's better for you cooked than raw, actually. Now, that's awesome.

4. Get some ground flax into your body.  It's amazing--the richest source of lignans in the known food world. You can mix it into jelly or peanut butter, add it to your morning shake (I hate the word "smoothie," **shudder**), use a flax "egg" whenever you need an egg in baking (1 T ground flax, 2-3 T of water or plant milk, whisk well, and let sit 5 min or so),  put it in soups, bake it into pancakes or waffles, whatever. JUST DO IT. And you DON'T have to grind it yourself! It retains its nutrition whether pre-ground, not kept refrigerated (though I don't recommend that, it will get rancid and taste not so good), or cooked (yes!).

5. And, most importantly, if we do not promote cancer (through our dietary choices) we may be able to slow it down or even reverse it's growth.  Cancerous tumors develop slowly throughout our lives, starting in childhood.  Keep eating badly, keep promoting that cancer growth until it is detectable and needs treatment.  Many of us (probably most of us) have cancerous cells growing inside of us right now.  JUST TWO WEEKS ON A PLANT-BASED DIET SHRANK CANCEROUS CELL GROWTH!!!  Start tonight.  Don’t wait!!!

Oh, and drink tea, the only plant in the world with L-Theanine in it!!  

And, lastly, if you can't do any of that, at least eat three leaves of spinach a day :-)

Avoid: eggs, milk and dairymeat, that's right--meat!food dyes, soda, and, movie theater popcorn (!)

Also, check out the blogs of my two favorite vegan nutritionists, Ginny Messina, RD and Jack Norris, RD. Or, better yet, pick up a copy of their comprehensive book on vegan nutrition, Vegan for Life.  It's great!

If you are a movie, person, check out Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Food, Inc (this is the one that got me started a few years ago), Super Size Me, etc.

And, another really fun place to look up the nutrition profile of foods: 
See the small search box on the top right? Put something in there, and you'll get a wonderful, full nutrition profile.  I love it! Here is the nutrition profile of beet greens.  Eat your beet greens (they taste like Swiss Chard!).

What's your favorite plant nutrition fact?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Get the MEAT OUT!

National MeatOut is coming! This year, it's on Tuesday, March 20th.  In honor of MeatOut, I will be doing one or more special posts, and I'm really excited.  I LOVE MeatOut and you will, too. Don't forget to sign up for their e-newsletter, get a free veg kit, etc.

In my MeatOut post last year, I focused on general advice and encouragement in overcoming barriers for new vegans and folks wishing to explore a plant-based diet, and, I treated myself to a special vegan shopping trip at Trader Joe's in honor of MeatOut.  This year, I really treated myself to something VERY special...but, you'll have to wait until Tuesday to find out!

Here are some tips on how YOU can prepare for MeatOut if you are new to a plant-based diet and plant nutrition.

This year, we are struggling with a serious health issue in our family--one of our loved ones is facing a very serious cancer.  The power of plant nutrition is profound and I wanted to provide you guys with some great resources for quickly and easily learning about plant-nutrition as a tool in both preventing and helping to cure disease. That post is to come as well.

Get ready, MeatOut is coming!  Make a weekend of it, go grocery shopping, try some new recipes (start here if you like:-), stop by the library to pick up some vegan or vegetarian cookbooks, and by Tuesday you will be an old pro.  

Here are some of my favorite dishes from this year:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake! (Post to come) 

Homemade (vegan) Pepperoni, fresh tomatoes, Cashew Ricotta and Roasted Eggplant Pizza (100% vegan, of course :-) 

Have a healthful, blessed weekend.