Farm Photos

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vegan Zucchini Bread

Vegan Zucchini Bread

You know what I love about this recipe? (No, I can't just write a recipe. As soon as my fingers touch the keyboard, it feels so good.) I love that if you make it exactly as it is written here, it requires you to use three of my favorite items in the kitchen.

1) Apple Cider Vinegar - you should have one bottle in your pantry and one bottle in your medicine cabinet. This is a miracle substance. When eaten, this acid has an alkalizing effect on body ph, (I know, sounds confusing but acids have the opposite effect in the gut) so if you're trying to stay alkaline then add this one to your daily diet. In this recipe, we're using it to replace buttermilk and in fact it's universal. One teaspoon ACV to one cup water replaces one cup of buttermilk. Go Vegans!

2) Coconut Oil - A wonderful, non-hydrogenated saturated fat! Don't demonize saturated fat, it's trans-fats that you want to avoid. Coconut oil gives the body a boost of monolaurin, an indispensable immune system soldier. This rich oil is a solid at room temperature, and makes a wonderful vegan butter replacement. The flavor is relatively strong, heating calms it, but I prefer coconut oil for sweet recipes or savory recipes in which coconut would be a welcomed guest.

3) Flax Meal - Flax has gotten alot of attention lately for it's omega fatty acid content, and evidence linking consuming flax seed to lowered risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Flax meal is my favorite way to have it in the kitchen because it's just so versatile. Throw it into pancakes, breads, sauces, pizza, smoothies...whatever! Also, in baking, Flax meal fulfills the binding role that normally we would use eggs for. 

And, voila! You've just replaced three animal based, potentially artery clogging ingredients: Buttermilk, Butter, and Eggs...with three ingredients known to improve heart health and body vitality. I'm not one to normally preach against butter, eggs or buttermilk and if you have a local, organic source of these foods then please, eat them! But, I do have vegan friends and I like to be able to feed them too! Plus, any excuse to stick all those great fats together in a recipe.

Finally, the bread: Makes 2 loaves

2 Cups grated Zucchini (there it is!)
1/4 Cup coconut oil (melted)
1/4 Cup oil (I use grapeseed; see below!)
1 Cup Sugar
2 Cups water and 2 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
2-3 Tbsp. Flax Meal
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking Soda
3 1/2 Cups Bread Flour
2 Tbsp. Cinnamon (or to taste)

Coat two loaf pans with coconut oil. If you've got an apron on that can take a bit of grease, don't wash your hands after touching the oil! (Please, do wash them prior to starting recipe) Coconut oil is one of the best for chapped skin, hands, feet, and face. Let your hands work with the ingredients and soak in some healing fatty acids at the same time. 

Melt coconut oil and combine with grapeseed oil in mixing bowl. Blend into oil: sugar and water with ACV. In separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, and flax meal. Add dry mixture to wet mixture in small increments while constantly stirring. Last, stir in zucchini. Batter should be lumpy, but does not form stiff peaks and settles into pan. 

Baking: I bake mine in a bread maker for about 1 1/2 hours at 300 degrees. I'd give it about 1 hour in a 350 degree oven. Set your timer for 40 minutes and check it. When the top looks done, let it bake for another 10 minutes. Insert wooden dowel to be sure it's done before pulling it out. (You've got to feel the bread, be the bread, lol)

Quick note on grapeseed oil. 
I will not advise people to use vegetable oil. The truth of the matter is that most stuff titled veggie oil out there is genetically modified. Stay away from generic vegetable oil, canola oil, and soybean oil that isn't organic. Grapeseed has not yet been defiled by the mutilating hands of Monsanto, and is still a safe, available, and affordable cooking oil. It doesn't have as strong of flavor as olive oil, and performs wonderfully in a bread or a frying pan. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Boca Bad News

Recently, a friend introduced us to Boca vegan chicken patties. I admit, I fell for the charming convenience and fast food reminiscent taste for quite a while before looking beyond the box. In the back of my mind, because I automatically pick food apart and occasionally just suppress it so I can enjoy something, I knew these were oh so wrong. But I bought them anyway. Finally, after my stomach made it difficult to ignore by reacting strangely to this chicken-like-substance, I did a quick scan with my Buycott app.

Sure enough, it immediately advised me not to purchase. I should have known (I knew); anything that says "soy" in the ingredients and does not have a clear "non-GMO" label is genetically modified. Turns out Boca, the nations number one vegan burger, is chalked full of genetically modified soy. I already avoid soy most of the week, and I know that anything which comes in frozen boxes is too processed to be healthy. Boca is a child company of Kraft Global, possibly the worlds largest producers of cheap, unhealthy food-like products. They donated $2 million dollars, according to the Organic Consumers Association, to campaign against GMO labeling in California (Prop 37).

Some suggests switching to Amy's patties, and this is a great idea. Amy's is a good company, widely available, they make quality convenience food. In fact I sat next to an Amy's representative at a conference last year and we had a blast whispering insults at the pro-GMO speaker on-stage. But, darn them, they do not yet have a chicken-ish pattie.

Amy's vegan, non-gmo, soy-based burger pattie

Wait! I never let my smart phone do all my thinking for me. So, I decided to pay Boca a little web visit and poke around. Turns out, they make GMO-Free versions of both the original vegan burger AND the chicken burger. Not that your local Walmart or Safeway would pick them up, but you could ask. They are packaged with a 'natural' brown box in contrast to Boca's typical red visual assault.

Now, here's a solution. However, I have only seen this brand in a few stores and they may not be as easily found. Check your local co-op or health food store. They're called Quorn! I must tell you that I have yet to actually try one of these, but I absolutely love the idea behind this food. These are Soy-Free and GMO-Free (according to a F.A.Q. on their website they use no GM ingredients). These are a mycoprotien, YAY! Like tempeh, it is a mycelium colonizing a grain, in this case wheat mostly. If that scares you than just don't think about it. Mycoprotiens are delicious and a great, safe, non-animal, non-soy, protein source that could become a food of the future. because fermentation occurs during the growth of these mycoprotiens, the food is alive with enzymes and probiotics that aid in digestion. I have thought about trying to create my own chik'n patty using tempeh that is breaded, so these guys beat me to it.

So, what does it come down to? All soy-based products that do not directly say "non-gmo" or "organic" are most likely genetically modified, including your favorite vegetarian or vegan options like Boca. If you're worried about companies like Kraft Global (I know I am) than I wouldn't purchase Boca at all. If you just can't live without those spicy chik'n burgers, then order the non-gmo version online or ask your grocer to carry them. If you feel strongly about not eating genetically modified ingredients, supporting companies of questionable ethics, if you still don't have time to perfect a chik'n recipe, and have the opportunity to purchase Quorn, I would suggest doing that! I'll have to add to this post after I try this new-to-me brand and/or perfect my own tempeh based chik'n patty which I can freeze myself.

Happy Healthy Eating!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

From Student to Practice

Hello all, short post just explaining the revamping of our blog. This blog was originally written as a project for the Evergreen State College during an independent contract I had as a student. Now, I have graduated and I am gardening full time. I love connecting with the world and sharing our progress, so I would like to continue to blog as I learn to make this senior project into a business. So, what was Onalaska Honalee has now become the official farm blog of Soulstice Gardens. Don't worry, all of my research into Permaculture, Hugelkulture, Biodynamics, and agriculture is still here in the older blog posts.

Now, I will include all of our current and future farm activities, recipes, tips on making a homestead more sustainable, current news on small organic farming, and exploration into various 'green' products. Don't forget to check out the new recipe section: "Food: From the organic obsessed, vegetarian, meat and potatoes raised, bargain hunting girl." I will be adding recipes more frequently now that we're back in the swing.

A small farm update: We had an amazingly productive first year here in the kitchen garden at Soulstice Gardens. Next year we are planning to expand to include a market garden, a fungi forest, and a large herb garden. So subscribe to the blog and connect with us on Facebook to get posts:

Sweet purple grape vines.

Lemon Cucumbers, we also had Armenians and Straight Eights.

Zucchini getting a bit too big....

Green Pumpkin.

Whew, long day weeding.

Yogi, the blog dog!

Some Chooks, in their field.

Mmm lunch outdoors.

Slugs be gone! Our ducks are an essential working force in the garden and they do a wonderful job.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vegan Tempeh Chili

When it comes to food, I pinch pennies into diamonds. And, I don’t sacrifice when it comes to health, animal welfare, human rights and earth justice. Food is my life; and every day I learn about growing, cooking, producing, processing, or storing food. I take products on the market and break them down to get to the bottom of what is really in a can of tomatoes, and also explore inexpensive and widely available alternatives. Stay tuned to this page for recipes, favorite products, and food secrets....

Vegan Tempeh Chili: (feeds 2 very hungry people and 4 for afternoon lunch)

1 Onion
1 Bell Pepper (your choice of color)
A handful of chopped hot do you want it?
2 cloves of garlic
two cups diced tomatoes (or two cans diced tomatoes)
1 can sweet corn (or two cobs worth)
1 package organic tempeh, diced
1 can organic kidney beans
1 can organic garbanzo beans
1 tbps Olive Oil
 1 bay leaf
chili powder
garlic powder

in a soup pot; saute onion, bell peppers, garlic, and jalepeno's in cooking oil. When they begin to sweat add Tempeh and let simmer another 5 minutes or so. Just before onions are fully caramelized, add tomatoes, corn, your bay leaf, and a pinch or two of salt. Let that cook for about 7-10 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently. Add spices to taste or smell, using the garlic powder as a supplement for more garlic flavor.
Add kidney beans and garbonzo beans, not fully draining each can but pouring off about 1/2 of the liquid. Let your chili simmer from 20 minutes to all day if you want. Add salt, pepper and additional spices to taste.

Tempeh: this is a protein packed, grain derived protein source available in some grocery stores in the refrigerated section next to tofu, or frozen section. To avoid GMO soy, purchase an organic brand. Tempeh is much more easily digested in the body due to the fact that it is fermented. Fermented grains contain live enzymes and probiotics that assist in digestion process making them easier to process than raw grains. Tempeh is also higher in protein and fiber than tofu. It has a sweet, nutty taste that I have come to crave.