Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Vegan Recipe: Low Sugar Strawberry Muffins

Today I am sharing a vegan recipe from my friend Kate.

Low-sugar Vegan Fresh Strawberry Cocoa Muffins | RootedVegans.com



There is only ¼ cup of sugar in these muffins, which are sweetened with banana puree. The cocoa powder is just enough to add a little spirit to the batter, and a handful of vegan chocolate chips is perfect for a smile.

Low-Sugar Vegan Fresh Strawberry Cocoa Muffins
Makes 12

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp salt
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup evaporated cane sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
3 Tbs ground flaxseed + 9 Tbs water
2 cups pureed banana (about three large)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tsp water
⅓ cup vegan chocolate chips
¾ cup sliced strawberries
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil your muffin tins or line with cupcake liners and set aside.
Combine flax seed powder with water, stir well and set aside for about 3 minutes.
2. Puree the flax seed with bananas in a blender. Add the oil and vanilla extract and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir slowly until combined and you can’t see anymore flour streaks. Don’t overmix or your muffins will be tough and chewy.
4. Fold in the strawberries and chocolate chips.

Low-sugar Vegan Fresh Strawberry Cocoa Muffins | RootedVegans.com


5. Pour the batter into prepared muffin tray. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
6. Cool completely and store for up to a week in an airtight container. They will keep in the freezer in a resealable bag for up to a month.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Animal Rescue: Thoughts on Breed Discrimination

I was walking a large black pit bull mix through the vacant space next to the Humane Society. I looked down at his large head, wide jaws, and his muscular shoulders. His shiny black coat looked almost like an oil slick as it reflected the afternoon sun. I was wearing black ballet flats, maroon tights, and a dress that Eric said looked as though it came from the closet of a 60s country singer. We probably made a fairly odd pair.



Walking this dog I thought about the article I had just read involving pit bulls who had mauled a woman to death. The dogs had belonged to a drug dealer who had abused them. I looked again at this strong dog and thought, yep he could certainly do some damage if he wanted. In my head I heard two voices. One voice telling me that breed discrimination is dangerous and cruel; this particular dog was clearly not inclined towards aggression. Honestly I have known many chihuahuas who are far more aggressive than all of the pit bulls I have encountered. The other voice reminded me that nobody has ever been mauled to death by chihuahuas.

We paused in our walk. This boy looked up at me with chocolate brown eyes full of soul.  I sat on my heels next to him and he took a step back, just a bit nervous (like me). Except I am pretty sure this boy has a real reason to fear humans. I have no idea what his life experience was before he landed at the shelter, but I suspect he has far more reason to fear people than I have to fear him. He took a moment to look at me. I stayed back, not making myself anything of a threat: eyes down, body sideways, hand low and down for him to sniff. He took a moment to sniff me and take it all in and then he shoved his wet nose into my palm. We took a moment while I gave him a long pet and he just reveled in the love and attention he was receiving. We finished our walk and I put him back in his kennel with a final pet and a doggy hug...then I grabbed the milky white female pit bull to take on the walk.

Later I was thinking about how I feel on the issue of breed discrimination. Yes, pit bulls (and several other breeds) are very strong and they could potentially harm humans. I think it is foolish for people to say things like, "My pit bull is incapable of hurting a person!" That is not true of any animal, humans most of all. Even the most gentle animal is capable of causing harm. A pit bull, a poodle, a basset hound will all lash out if they need to protect themselves. For instance you leave your baby with your dog and it innocently pokes the dogs eye or bites a tail...what's the animal supposed to do? Often animals will first try to avoid the confrontation, but there could come a time that any creature could cause harm to another. Though obviously we are by far the most dangerous animal.

I guess my final thought on the matter is that we are all simultaneously vulnerable and dangerous. I hate the idea of animals being killed, banned, discarded because they were traumatized by bad owners. Those are the animals that are most dangerous to humans, the ones who have been taught that humans are so very dangerous. I think animal lovers also need to be smart and adopt the animal that is the right for for their family and put neither the animal nor themselves into a situation that could potentially be dangerous. We have claimed a place of responsibility over animals and it is our duty to be responsible. If you are able to adopt and in a position to give a larger breed of dog a good home I do hope you will not rule out any particular breed; instead educate yourself about your dog and the breed or breeds that are part of your animal companion's make-up. Then you can train yourself on the way to be the best animal companion possible.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Cordelia: Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

Saturday took an unexpected, but not unanticipated, turn when Cordelia asked if she could have her hair cut this weekend. We have kind of been brushing it off for the past several months, mostly because she described hideous hairstyles like cut the sides above her ears and leave a long tail in the back. Saturday was different, she seemed resolved. When I showed her some girl haircuts on Pinterest she was always gravitating to the exact same style. She wanted a bob.

Cordelia before haircut

I am not sure why, but many of us around her have become rather fond of her long and curly locks. Wild and golden and so suited to her personality, it seemed somehow sad to rid ourselves of those beautiful tresses. Yet, we all kept those sentiments to ourselves. We certainly didn't want her to think that she was defined by her looks or her hair. Also, it is her body and we want to empower her to feel as though she is in charge of her body and that she knows what is right for her. Obviously we are here to guide her along in those decisions throughout childhood, but it seems important to use opportunities to make her feel that she is the one with final say over her own body---because soon enough she will be the one making all of those choices.

The ultimate deciding factor was that she wanted to donate her hair! How could we say no to that? So, we went in as a family. Four people for one simple haircut, but this was her first major cut beyond trims and bangs. So it was a big deal. Eric and I made eye contact, feeling oddly emotional about this. Somehow it signified so much, that our baby girl was no longer a baby. She knows who she is and what she wants and it is our job to keep her clear and focused along her own path.

Cordelia hair

Cordelia hair

The hairstylist braided the portion for donation and then asked if we were ready. Cordelia bravely said, "YES!" So off it came. We didn't measure, but we'd estimate that she lost close to or slightly more than a foot of hair.

Cordelia hair

The braid was laid on the counter and the rest of the cut was completed. Cordelia was soon finished and so proud of her new style.

Her hair has already been moved along the donation chain and will be made into a wig, or at least part of a wig, someday.

She is such an awesome girl and it is absolutely my honor to live with and learn from this sweet person.

Cordelia after haircut

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Quote: Sit on a Pumpkin

Warty pumpkin

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
~Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Vegan Recipe: Cinnimon Cocoa Banana Baked Oatmeal

Hello, how is your Saturday morning going? Today I wanted to share a recipe from my friend Kate.

Kick A$$ Cinnamon Cocoa Banana Baked Oatmeal | RootedVegan.com

Kate writes:

I will use just about any excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast, and what better way than to bake it into oatmeal, add a few ripe bananas and round it out with a healthy dose of cinnamon.
I eat my weight in oatmeal every year but only recently discovered the genius idea of baked oatmeal; begging the question, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Turns out the first experiment was a success. The result? A dark, chocolaty oatmeal with just the right amount of sweetness from the ripe bananas and a hint of maple syrup.

Cinnamon adds a robust spice and the instant espresso powder, while not necessary, gives the cocoa powder a kick and offers a welcome caffeine boost (hello morning). I used flax seed instead of egg to bind it together and walnuts for crunch.

Cinnamon Cocoa Banana Baked Oatmeal | RootedVegan.com


Making baked oatmeal couldn't be any easier, just a bit of a mix and pour. The only drawback is that it takes about 45 minutes, so you have to contend with a cup of coffee and the scent of sweet cinnamon and rich cocoa powder while you wait.

And let me tell you, it's worth it. The final result has a chocolate pudding-like flavor that is swoonworthy.

Cinnamon Cocoa Banana Baked Oatmeal | RootedVegan.com


1 1/2 cup oats
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 c walnuts chopped
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs ground flax
3 ripe bananas, sliced
3 cups almond milk (or soy or rice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9x13 inch baking dish (or 8x8 if you want a thicker slice) with coconut butter or other non-dairy butter.
2. Combine oats, flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, walnuts, espresso, salt, flax and bananas in a medium bowl.
3. Add milk, vanilla, and maple syrup and stir to combine.
4. Pour into prepared baking dish and pop into the oven for about 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of your dish. It's done when it only jiggles slightly in the middle.
5. Let the oatmeal rest for about 10 minutes or until it has time to set.
Cinnamon Cocoa Banana Baked Oatmeal | RootedVegan.com



Friday, October 24, 2014

Phone Photo Friday and Disposable Challenge Update

 Well hello, it's Friday and that means it is time for my weekly phone photo dump.

Enjoying our time at the Science Zone minutes before Elise broke her arm. We were so carefree back then...

Morning snuggle, Cordelia is slack jawed and focused on the Halloween Curious George Episode that has been in heavy Netflix rotation. A tiny bit scary, but not really...just right for the girls.

Waiting with Elise at the Orthopedic office. This was a few days after she had broken her arm and had visited the ER and we were following up with another doctor. We were not supposed to use the phone, tooootal rebels.

The sisters. They are reading Pinkalicious and you will note that Elise is still managing to play dress up with the cast. Cordelia is being such a sweet and patient big sister.

Lucy

Lunch with friends. I met Meghan online while she was living in Japan. She can back to the states and I finally got to meet her and her husband Ian and daughter Bea in person.

Eric left town for work and drove through my childhood home of Harlowton, MT on his way from here to there. I sent my friend Robin this photo and mentioned that Eric was passing through. She said she knew, her boss had told her. Ha, small towns!

While Eric was away we sent a lot of back and forth photos. None of them were very good.

Lucy and I laying on the couch at night after the girls and gone to bed. Eric was still out of town so I painted and watched movies on Netflix.

Watching for their dad to return. He drove 8 hours yesterday to make it home in time to give me a smooch before I had to run and teach my class at the art museum.

Screaming did not translate in this photo, but the girls screamed and the dogs barked as Eric returned. It is seriously a noisy event when anyone comes to visit.

disposable_camera

Well, we have one more week of the phone photo challenge! Inexplicably my flash has started working again so apparently I purchased a self-healing camera. I have about ten photos left to take. Very excited to see what I have even photographed over this past month as I have totally forgotten.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cat Bites Dog and Everything is Fine

betty lucy

Lucy and Betty Sprinkles the friendship continues.

cat bites dog

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vegan Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

I am sure you've done it. You buy some broccoli and it gets shoved to the back of the fridge where you find it a week (or two) later and it is a swampy mess. Or perhaps you made a few recipes and now you find yourself with a weird combo of leftovers. Don't panic and throw it in the trash, that is silly. Of course you should just toss the swampy veggies into the compost, but some of that other stuff can still be used. Did you know that Americans throw away about half of their food each year? From creative recipes to composting your food should not end up in the garbage.

Here is a crazy good recipe for shepherd's pie. Seriously folks, this is super good. Eric and I both had second helpings and both of the girls went to town on this.

Easy Shepher's Pie by Rooted Vegan

For the filling
2 T vegetable oil
1 finley diced onion
3-4 cloves garlic
2 1/2 c mixed veggies, chopped ---use the odds and ends in your fridge. I used cabbage, peas and carrots, mushrooms
1 c veggie crumbles
1 1/2-2 c vegetable stock (depending on how watery your veggies are)
2 T tomato paste
1/3 c vegan Worcestershire sauce
3 T vegan barbecue sauce
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, just use your thumb and forefinger to strip the leaves from the woody stem
salt and pepper to taste

For the topping
3 c mashed potato leftovers (or cook 4 or 5 potatoes in boiling water until soft)
2 T vegan sour cream
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1/2 vegan shredded cheese
*Optional garnish sprigs of thyme

For the filling
1. In a medium skillet heat the oil and add the onion. Cook until the onion begins to become transluscent.
2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Add the veggies, stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce and nutmeg.
4. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid has reduced to more of a gravy.

For the topping
1. Combine the mashed potatoes, vegan sour cream, vegan cheese and garlic.
2. Whip together.

Asembly
1.  Pre heat the oven to 350 F. In a casserole dish pour in the filling.
2. Dollop the potatoes on top and use a fork to spread it out rustic style. If you are a perfectionist (which I am not) you can pipe it on in a fancy design.
3. Bake for 45 minutes.
4. Garnish with thyme

Enjoy!

Easy Shepher's Pie by Rooted Vegan

 Check back tomorrow to learn about composting!
~Maria Rose

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vulnerability

I have been thinking about vulnerability lately, a lot. My family had a weird week. Four members of our family were in the hospital within the last week, three ER trips, one ICU stay. We were spread out, at work at home, states apart. All of us checking in and connecting, trying to make sure everything was OK, that everyone was OK. I am so thankful for things like modern communication. We didn't have to write letters and send them by pigeon or pony express. We didn't ring up insane phone bills on our land lines. We Facetime talked with each other and texted back and forth. Extended family and friends kept in touch via Facebook, it was all so very closely linked and in real time.

Elise broken arm

Then over the course of the week I read another post by my dear friend Sarah where she expressed an entirely different vulnerability (read here it is beautiful). Of course we all have areas where it is difficult for us to feel entirely comfortable in our own skin, circumstance or situations that bring to light our deeply held insecurities and fears. Facing them head on is such a tremendous challenge, but honestly it is probably the best way to move forward.

Elise broken arm

While I was in the ER with Elise on Friday they gave her some medication as they set her arm and had someone there to monitor her breathing, little tubes in her nostrils giving her oxygen. I had to sign the "just in case" paperwork that makes me want to vomit and grab my family and live in a padded room off the grid...but then there would be other worries I suppose.

As I held Elise in my arms that day I was struck by how very delicate we are, on so many levels. Her little body is so very small in a big and dangerous world. My heart, as well as everyone else who knows her, is so fragile when it comes to her or Cordelia or anyone else that I care about (and I care an awful lot).

Elise broken arm

Later that evening I was talking with Eric about it and he sagely reminded me that vulnerability is one of the best parts about being human. Darn it. I know he is right. Our greatest joys are often our weakest points. Of course we do have to find a balance and not live in padded off the grid caves. Our internal vulnerabilities, those things about which we are personally delicate---our insecurities---are often the places we find our greatest strengths too.

Oh this life we are living you guys, it is mighty strange.

Elise broken arm

And, for those of you in need of an Elise update we went into the orthopedic doc yesterday (don't get me started on what a hassle it was to get in) and they X-rayed the bone. Thankfully the set they did at the hospital seemed to be good, meaning no more bone moving. He was afraid that removing the plaster splint would undo that set and decided not to put her in a cast yesterday. So the nurse did a solid job of wrapping the plaster and it is a firm wrap with a hard interior. Feels pretty sturdy. We will go in next week to X-ray again and see what the next step is. I would also like to mention that Elise was freakishly charming and I overheard the doctor and the X-ray tech discussing adorable things she had said and done in their presence. When we left she was coated in stickers (see photos) before we left, everyone was charmed and heartbroken by the little lady with the broken arm. In fact, when people would crouch down and say, "ooooooooooh what happened?" Her response was, "I broke my arm, but I be OK. I got my mommy."

Elise broken arm


Monday, October 20, 2014

Pause

I am taking a moment to pause while we re-group. I will be back tomorrow with a full update. Meanwhile, please enjoy this photo of  Bumblebee.

Bumblebee

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Quote: What you think



“Be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be.”
~Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Broken Arm, Not Heart

About a year and a half ago Eric and I were walking along the river with the girls and the dogs. It was a beautiful and carefree stroll. Everyone was happy, the sun was shining, all was well. As we meandered along the pathway chatting and strolling we passed a couple and their young child, a girl maybe 11/2-2years old. They were all just fine and enjoying the lovely day, but their daughter had a cast on her arm. Our conversation paused as we passed and exchanged greetings (we do that in the West) and then continued on our way. Eric and I completely forgot whatever it was we had been discussing prior to encountering the young family. We immediately talked amongst ourselves, once we were out of ear shot; we sympathized with those parents. We knew it must have been very scary to deal with a broken arm and oh...keeping a young child from acting too crazy while the healing is happening, dealing with a cast. We agreed that if anyone was going to break a bone in our family that it would probably be Elise, she is pretty fearless. Then we went on our way...

Yesterday started out pretty mellow. The girls and I hung out at home. I did some chores while the girls played. Mostly they were giggling and happy. Occasionally there would be a bang and a cry or some whining. I would turn to give the girls my complete attention, but they'd already be on to the next game. Kids.

We ate lunch and decided to visit the Science Zone. Both girls had been asking to visit as it had been a while and we hadn't yet renewed our membership. I agreed to take them after lunch. They both plowed through their meals, only slowing down when Cordelia tried to eat baby corn one kernel at a time.

We left home and drove over to the Science Zone. The space is a discovery area located beneath a furniture store. So we went downstairs and explored. The girls had fun with their recycling sorter and the giant kaleidoscope. Finally we went to the very back where there is a toddler play area. The girls ran around and had a great time. In the center of the play area is a small ball pit. Really it is just a foam ring with a couple dozen balls. You have to climb over the bench to get to the balls. The girls were climbing all over the place when Elise slipped and fell. She landed on her left arm and screamed.

I was sitting a few feet away, monitoring their play and saw the fall happen. It didn't seem very hard and it wasn't more than a few feet, but I suspect that Elise put her hand out to catch herself and slipped on one of the balls. Who knows?

When I heard the tone of scream I knew she was in real pain. I calmly asked her to grab my hand with hers and she couldn't. I gently slid back the sleeve of her shirt. I knew it was broken, it looked like a rubber arm, bent strangely. I scooped her into my arms and called to Cordelia to follow. I pulled out my phone as we raced to the exit. I called Eric and told him Elise had a broken arm and we quickly decided to meet at the ER. 

When we arrived at the ER Eric and Cordelia took care of cars and valet while Elise and I rushed to check in. She was crying the most pitiful cry and breaking every heart as we passed. The lady at the desk was trying to hold back her own tears (she found us later and cried once she saw that Elise was OK). We waited for what seemed to be a very long time, but it was less than 10 minutes---lightning speed in ER time. Sitting across from us in the ER was a young woman who gave us sympathizing smiles. When they called her back she asked them to let Elise in first. Such kindness from this young woman who offered the explanation that she was a mother too (later is saw her wheeled by with an IV, very seriously ill, she smiled and I mouthed a thank you---I wish I could thank her again).


We went through the check in process and were taken to a waiting room. Doctors and nurses came in and out. I sat on the bed with Elise on my lap. I gently held her arm stable on an ice pack. Eric and Cordelia sat next to us. Elise calmed down enough to talk and even laugh, though her arm was still clearly hurting. Each new person that entered needed to ask what had happened. I understand that it is standard protocol, but each retelling of the story would make her sob and say,"Don't wanna go to science zone." 

Anyway, the X-Ray was taken. My dad arrived. My mother stayed updated via texted updates from Eric and my dad---she was with my grandmother who had just been released from the hospital in South Dakota after a seriously bad week.
The verdict was in, broken radius. 

Eric and Cordelia left for the resetting of the bone as we obviously didn't want Cordelia there for that. My dad was so amazing and helped to distract Elise as long as possible with photos on his phone. He had her squealing with laughter. I will spare you the details of the resetting process, the end result was relief. Her arm was set and a plaster splint now stabilizes her arm. Cast will come on Monday. They took a final X-ray, Elise was kind of druggy from the disassociative drugs they had used and she ended up telling the X-Ray tech guy that she loved him.

We left the hospital and went home. On the drive home Elise told me that I was very brave. Ha, if she only knew how very hard it is for parents to keep calm when they want to freak out! She was such a great patient and had been so tough! I hate that she had to be tough.

We pulled into the garage and Eric, who had been crawling out of his skin to be near her, was right there needing to hold his girl. Cordelia was so sweet and is taking her big sister responsibility very seriously. We ate dessert, soy ice cream with chocolate chips and sprinkles. Then we had dinner. The patient had requested veggie dogs and she and Cordelia managed to eat a frightening amount of food, the cost of missing an afternoon snack.


Before I put Elise to bed last night she told me,"My arm is broken, but not my heart." 



Friday, October 17, 2014

Phone Photo Friday and Disposable Camera Challenge Update

 Hello and happy Friday to you. Time for the phone purge!

Last week we had some fog. We live in the foothills area so we get a lot of lingering fog this time of year and it is lovely.


We were part of the opening event at Scarlow's Gallery which was a huge opening night, the place was jam packed!  Eric and I had a great time and my mother was home hanging out with the girls. She sent us slow motion videos of Cordelia leap-froging Elise.


She also sent this sweet pic.

Sam's lovely girlfriend Alaysha had a birthday. She likes pumpkin pie for her b-day.

Elise is too cool.

My father, buried beneath his adoring granddaughters, flanked by hounds.

Finger gun to good hair days.

Lucy

Two hounds and a cat.

Cordelia had a pre-school visit by the firefighters. She got to try her hand at the fire hose.

I posed the girls in front of the fire truck, they were way too distracted by the loud noises made by the truck to pose.
Elise does this when asked to smile....eyes clench, under-bite tooth clench, every facial muscle flexed.

disposable_camera

The disposable camera challenge has hit a small snag...the flash died. I am pretty sure that one of the girls got into my purse and turned the flash on, but it isn't too big of a problem. Now I just have to take well lit shots. How are you doing?



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