Friday, March 21, 2014

Foodie Friday - Oatmeal Pumpkin Loaf

Since spring is officially here but it still feels like winter, I thought I'd share a recipe with you that I tried last weekend.  The weather was dreary, cold and windy and this pumpkin bread was just what the doctor ordered to chase away the chill.

I thought I had all the ingredients when I started the recipe but soon learned I didn't have coconut oil so I used canola oil instead.  It came out great even with the substitution.  Next time I will add 3/4 of a cup of sweetener as it wasn't quite as sweet as I would have liked.

Here you go, Oatmeal Pumpkin Loaf courtesy of Happy. Healthy. Life. blog.  

Oatmeal Pumpkin Loaf from Happy. Healthy. Life. blog
vegan, makes 1 "standard loaf pan" (9x5") loaf - makes 8 generous slices

2 cups oat flour (homemade from rolled oats - just put dry oatmeal in the food processor)
3/4 tsp salt
1 heaping Tbsp baking powder
spices: 3/4 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ginger powder + 1/8 tsp nutmeg + pinch cayenne (optional)
*If you only have cinnamon spice on hand that is fine too!

1 cup almond milk (room temperature, or slightly warm)
3 tsp ground flax seeds (or substitute with chia seeds)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (organic)
3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar (orange juice or lemon juice is an acceptable substitute)
1/2 cup maple syrup or agave syrup OR 1/2 cup sugar (organic turbino, raw cane sugar tested)
1/4 tsp fresh orange zest (lemon zest works too)

topping: sprinkle of sugar + oats + zest

* If your pumpkin puree is on the "wet" side, add another 3 Tbsp of puree and only use about 3/4 cup almond milk. Pumpkin puree cans will vary greatly in "wetness." A "dry" puree hold its shape in a gel-like scoop, while a wet puree is soft almost like a thick applesauce.

* Sweetener: I made the bread once using 3/4 cup dry sugar and once using 1/2 cup maple syrup. Both worked well. I think I liked the maple syrup hint a bit more, and it was a bit smoother of a sweetness. But both were wonderful. Agave syrup could also be used. For a sweeter loaf, use 3/4 cup sweetener. But you should be fine using just 1/2 cup.

* Fluffy Factor: If you want a less dense loaf, feel free to use half homemade oat flour and half a lighter flour like a basic store-bought wheat flour or gluten-free flour alternative

* Wet Mix: You want to warm your liquid ingredients so they combine smoothly. If there is a chilled ingredient the coconut oil will solidify making the mixture clumpy. The easy solution is the warm up anything that is chilled, like the almond milk.


1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees.

2. Make your oat flour by grinding whole rolled oats in a food processor or blender until a fine powder texture is reached.

3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Combine all wet ingredients in a bender and process for a few minutes on lowest setting. This will help activate the flax seeds as an "egg replacer."

5. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture until a thick, wet batter is formed.

6. Grease your loaf pan very well using coconut oil or coconut oil spray. Pour batter into pan.

7. Bake at 415 degrees for 20 minutes. Then reduce heat to 395 and bake for an additional 25 minutes. About 40-50 minutes total should be about right. You can check to see if you bread is done by using the toothpick test.

8. Cool for a good 30 minutes before removing from pan. You may be able to slice while the loaf is still warm, however slice carefully since the bread will be delicate. You will notice that the dense pumpkin texture will firm up as it cools and the oats continue to absorb the moisture of the cooling bread.

Serve with a slather of Earth Balance vegan butter!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Field Trip! A Visit to Farm Sanctuary

I first heard about Farm Sanctuary on Victoria Moran's Main Street Vegan's podcast .  In this particular episode, the co-director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary was interviewed and suggested visiting Farm Sanctuary as a way to educate yourself and others and develop compassion for animals.  I was thrilled to find out the original Farm Sanctuary is located only 90 minutes away from where I live.

Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen was founded in 1986 and was originally funded by the sale of veggie hotdogs.  It is now a 175-acre farm that houses pigs, chickens, turkeys, cattle, ducks and goats.  Guided one-hour tours are given by farm staff and the nominal $5/person admission fee helps to pay for the upkeep of the farm.

I decided to bring Dr. D. and the girls there on a Sunday in late September.  The fall weather was gorgeous and the trees were almost at their peak.  None of us knew what to expect and I think Dr. D. was a little surprised when we entered the gift shop and saw the t-shirts that read, "Vegan. Saving the World One Bite At A Time" and the myriad vegan cookbooks.  He laughed and said, "I guess I should have assumed it would have a heavy vegan influence."  He's such a good sport.

Inside the main area of the visitor barn, there are several items on display.  One of them is a gestation crate which is used to contain pregnant pigs.  These crates are small and do not allow the animal to even turn around.  The grated floors allow the animal's waste to fall beneath it creating a dangerously high level of ammonia from their urine which can result in respiratory illnesses for the pig.

Gestation crate (photo courtesy of Google images)
Right next to the gestation crate is another very small crate; this one used to pen calves used for veal.  Shortly after birth, male calves are taken from their mothers and put in these small crates.  They aren't fed their mother's milk but instead a milk substitute that will purposefully make them anemic and their flesh pale. 

Baby calf in a veal crate (photo courtesy of Google images)

While those sad images stuck with all of us (both girls went vegetarian for a week (!) after our visit), there were so many positive images from that day.

Miss S. makin' a swine smile 
Ryan the Sheep loving the attention from his new friends

Dorothy the Goat

Yours truly with a big pig

Miss M. showing piggy love

Ryan, The Born Again Vegan mascot

The people at Farm Sanctuary are doing such good work in rescuing animals as well as educating the public in an informative but not heavy-handed way.  I urge you to visit them in either Watkins Glen, NYOrland, CA or Los Angeles, CA or make a donation here.  

Coming soon...a peek at Catskill Animal Sanctuary where we will be spending the weekend in their guesthouse for my birthday.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

From Zoe and Piper's Etsy Shop

I recently came across this Sanskrit prayer and thought it was a wonderful description of how we all should live our lives.  I hope it touches your heart the way it touched mine.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings be free from suffering.

May the thoughts, words and actions of 
my life contribute to this freedom.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Foodie Friday and an explanation

I've been MIA for a while.  Things have gotten pretty busy here in our little corner of the world.  Dr. D. and I are getting married at the end of June and I've already started moving things into his house which has made my flat look like I should be expecting FEMA to show up at any time.  Fewer meals are being cooked in the Born Again Vegan kitchen and my time is spent doing more dodging boxes and less writing.  I'm also in the process of moving this blog to a WordPress site.  It will have a new name and I hope more capabilities than Blogspot.

As far as our nuptials go, we don't plan to have a big wedding.  We just want a small ceremony before taking off for the jungles of Belize.  There is a restaurant there called Gomier's where the Rastafarian owner makes his own tofu and vegan options abound.  We can't wait to try that!  I'm also hoping to score an interview with this colorful Belizean for this blog.  

We are planning on having a post-wedding party sometime this summer.  All the food will be vegan and this will be a celebration like no other!  Details to follow.

Nevertheless, now is a perfect time to have a recipe for vegan fast food!  I got home at 8:30 last night after a board meeting and was happy to know I could throw together this delicious salad in minutes.  No one wants to go to bed with a heavy meal in their belly so this was the perfect solution.  The fact that the recipe calls for capers, those wonderful salty orbs of deliciousness, only made me love it more.  The colored notes belong to me.  Enjoy!

Vegan Caesar Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
  • 1 romaine lettuce head
  • ½ cup small capers
  • 3 slices whole wheat bread cut into small square croutons (I used vegan ready-made croutons)
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup avocado (about 1 1/2)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (I used lime juice)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss croutons with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil. Lay croutons in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake until brown and crisp. Watch carefully – should take about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Blend avocado, lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, water, cayenne, salt and pepper until smooth and creamy.
  3. Wash and drain romaine leaves. Slice into bit-size pieces and place in salad bowl. Toss lettuce with capers, croutons and dressing. (you might not need all that dressing) Divide into 4 servings and sprinkle with ground pine nuts if desired.