Monthly Archives: August 2014

Twice Baked Chili Potatoes

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Little compares to the comfort of a warm baked potato right out of the oven. Except perhaps a warm baked potato, twice-stuffed with creamy, chili-spiked mashed potatoes and Feisty Beyond Meat! The secret to making this recipe awesome is the extra potato – you’ll use it to add to the filling and make the other spuds really over-stuffed and decadent.

Sometimes vegan food is health food. On this occasion, vegan food is indulgent and home-style! So dig in – this is a perfect dish to eat while watching the next football game, at a dinner for two or when  sharing with family.  Want to kick up the chili factor? Add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce, some beans or diced jalapenos to the stuffing! You can also make them ahead and warm the entire batch up just before serving.

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Twice Baked Chili Potatoes

6 large baking potatoes

2 Tbl. olive oil

1/2 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup Beyond Meat Beef-free Crumbles, Feisty flavor

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. chili powder

1/4 cup vegan cheddar shreds (we used Daiya)

1/2 cup vegan sour cream (we used Tofutti)

2 Tbl. vegan margarine (we used Earth Balance)

2 Tbl. plain dairy-free milk (we used Almond Breeze Original, Unsweetened)

salt and pepper, to taste

1 large tomato, de-seeded and chopped into small bits

paprika, to garnish

green onions, to garnish

Set oven to 375. Rub potatoes with oil and pierce with a fork several times. Bake on a baking sheet  for 1.5 hours, until insides are hot, soft, and thoroughly cooked –  and skins are crispy and browned.

While potatoes are baking, sauteed diced onion, garlic, Beyond Meat Crumbles and red pepper flakes with a dash of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When onions are wilted, turn off heat and move the mixture to a large bowl. Set aside.

After potatoes are baked, allow to cool to room temperature, or at least until you can touch them comfortably. Using a sharp knife, slice a V-shaped wedge into the top of five potatoes. Being careful not to tear the skins, scoop out the insides of the first five potatoes and add to the mixing bowl with onions/garlic/Beyond Meat/red pepper flakes. Discard the sliced-off tops of the potato “V” once you have scraped away the insides.

The sixth potato is xetra – and it will make the twice-stuffed goodness brim over the tops of the remaining five. For this final potato, cut in half and sc0op out all the insides. Discard skins (or eat them as a snack – we usually do).

Add to the mixing bowl chili powder, vegan cheddar shreds, vegan sour cream, vegan margarine, dairy-free milk and salt & pepper. Smash together, as if you are making mashed potatoes. You can do this by hand with a sturdy fork or a potato masher, or use a hand mixer to make them extra smooth, whatever you prefer for your mashers. When the ingredients are well combined and all the sour cream/margarine has melted into the potatoes, fold in the chopped tomatoes by hand.

Stuff the five potato shells with the mashed potato filling until the tops are heaping. They should be over-stuffed. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired and return to baking sheet. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until heated through. Serve warm with green onions scattered on top.

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Join the Cowspiracy…

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On Thursday September 11, the new documentary film Cowspiracy: the Sustainability Secret will have its Baltimore opening. This movie, in a nutshell, reveals what animal agriculture is doing to the planet we all share. This is not a movie about health food. It is not (for the most part) about animal cruelty. It has a mission to show and prove that people’s rampant desire to eat animals is damaging the Earth for all life – humans, animals, sea life, even plants. Want to see a trailer? Check this link.

Animal agriculture effects every part of the environmental crisis: water supply, deforestation, climate change, species extinction, ocean dead zones, wildlife habitiat, clean air. And more. Still want that ham sandwich? Maybe YOU should watch this film, then – especially if you want the Earth to be livable for future generations! Time to open your mind to the what the UN and Oxford University, among others already have established as fact (Do you really think you’re smarter than the scientists at Oxford? C’mon! Who is reading this blog? Stephen Hawking?)…

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COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today, and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.

This documentary will be as eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth. By the way, did you know that both former Pres. Clinton and former Vice Pres. Gore have embraced a vegan diet? If they can do it, so can you – politics aside. There are plenty of politically conservative people who want to continue living on Earth, too. 🙂

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The film will be playing at AMC Owings Mills 17, 10100 Mill Run Circle, Owings Mills, Maryland 21117 at 7:30pm. Tickets are still available and 99 seats remain (101 are sold as of this writing). It’s only $11 and money well spent! Bring friends, family, greenies, environmentalists, conspiracy theorists – anyone you can! Spread the important message of Cowspiracy! To sweeten the deal, the Baltimore connection for Cowspiracy, Chris D., has door prizes including Land of Kush gift cards, iTunes gift cards and for the grand prize, a donation to your favorite charity. Thanks Chris – that’s very kind! Get your tickets on the Tugg site now, folks!

Are you in the Washington DC area? There’s a screening of the movie there on September 23rd at 7:30pm at Landmark’s E Street Cinema, 555 11th St NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20004. So far 64 people are going to this showing, and 55 more tickets must be sold, so get going, Washingtonians! Here is the Tugg event for DC. This showing is $15 per person and Landmark theaters carry vegan popcorn, tater tots and cookies in the concession stand.

Not in the Baltimore/DC area? Visit the Cowspiracy site for more info. Or the Facebook page, which lists different showings, happening all over the county. DVDs are also available for pre-order and will be out on November 6th. Which means you can get 20 copies and give them out for holiday gifts.

Mark your calendars and now, more than ever, get on board with saving the world!

Dog Days Treats

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Summer is winding down.  But August can still be hot as Hades, and in Baltimore this week, it’s supposed to get all the way up to 92! That’s the hotness. You know your dog-companion feels it, too. That sweltering heat effects our four-legged friends too, thus why they call the hottest parts of summer “dog days” (Sirius, the “dog star” is out during the hottest part of summer, for those of you as nerdy as me…)

Help your best pal cool off by treating him or her to some chilly yumminess, like these frozen Carob Banana Pup-Pops. They’re simple to make and a fun project to include kids on. Your dog will love them too – our ex-racing greyhound, Lochrima, goes gag for them! First she licks the carob and peanut shell off, then munches on the chilly banana center.

You should be be able to pick up a bag of carob chips pretty easily, we find them in the natural foods area of our local grocers. If not, a store like Whole Foods will certainly have them, and there’s always Amazon.com. It is **CRUCIAL** you use carob and NOT chocolate for this recipe! Chocolate is toxic to dogs! Want a list of other foods to watch out for? Try this page from the ASPCA. If you are allergic to peanuts, try using almond butter and almonds or sunflower seed butter and sunflowers for this recipe. Just don’t substitute macadamia nuts – those are also toxic to dogs!

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 Carob Banana Pup-Pops

5 bananas, peeled and cut in half

2 cups carob chips

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup chopped peanuts

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper. Place banana halves on sheet and freeze for several hours or overnight. To assemble, melt carob chips and peanut butter together in a double boiler over low heat on the stove. Stir often until smooth and silky. Place chopped peanuts in a low bowl, like a pie plate. Dip the frozen bananas into melted carob/peanut butter, then quickly roll in chopped nuts. Place back onto lined cookie sheet. Repeat with other banana halves. Place back into freezer until carob is set, about one hour. Serve cold on a hot day!

 

Want more love for your dogs? We want to send you more love for your dogs!  If you like baking, we’ve got SIX more recipes for you and your canine companion. It’s true that baking isn’t as fun in the heat. We don’t have central air, so these fans really don’t cut it when the oven is on in summer. The answer? Bake in the early morning or after dark in the evening. Or, go to a friends’ house who has central air!

There’s a certain joy to baking for dogs. Unlike people, they don’t “eat first with their eyes” – instead, they eat first with their noses. So each recipe includes something fragrant that is attractive to hounds. They also aren’t picky about shapes of the cookies, which means that cookie cutters are nice, but they’re really eye-appeal for you, not the pooch. Unless you adore rolling and cutting cookie shapes (and have copious free time), just make little rounds in the right size for your dog’s mouth. After all, the right size cookie for a Great Dane is not the right size cookie for a Teacup Maltese. 🙂

We use a lot of non-wheat flours in these cookies. Many experts feel they are easier on dogs’ tummies. To find these flours, check your grocery store’s natural foods or gluten-free sections. Again, Whole Foods and Amazon.com will have them. Occasionally, we get lucky and find bags of them super-cheap at places like Ross, Marshall’s and Big Lots. No joke! A bag of chickpea flour that’s $10 at Whole Foods cost us $2 at Big Lots. Big difference and worth checking for!

 

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 Sunshine Snaps

 

2 Tbl. ground flax meal mixed in 4 Tbl. water

1 cup chickpea flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1 Tbl. nutritional yeast

1 tsp. turmeric

2 Tbl. olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup water, as needed

Preheat oven to 375. Mix ground flax meal in water and set aside to congeal. In a food processor or blender (or by hand in a mixing bowl), combine flours, nutritional yeast, turmeric and olive oil. Add in flax mixture. If dough is too dry, add water until well combined and smooth. By hand, form into desired size cookies. Use cool water on your fingers to prevent sticking. Bake at 375 until browned on edges and firm, about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Yield will vary based on cookies size.

 

Carob & Spice Cookies

1 cup pumpkin (canned or cooked/fresh)

1 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 Tbl. carob powder

1/4 cup molasses

1 Tbl. olive oil

1/4 cup water, as needed

Preheat oven to 375. In a food processor or blender (or by hand in a mixing bowl), combine pumpkin, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, ginger, carob powder, molasses and olive oil. If dough is too dry, add water until smooth. By hand, form into desired size cookies. Use cool water on your fingers to prevent sticking. Bake at 375 until browned on edges and firm, about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Yield will vary based on cookies size.

 

 Oatmeal Chippers

3 Tbl. ground flax meal mixed in 6 Tbl. water

3 cups Old-Fashioned oats

1 1/2 cup peanut butter

pinch ginger (optional)

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup carob chips

Preheat oven to 375. Mix ground flax meal in water and set aside to congeal. In a large bowl, combine oats, peanut butter, ginger, almond milk and water. Add in flax mixture. When well-mixed and moistened, fold in carob chips. By hand, form into desired size cookies. Use cool water on your fingers to prevent sticking. Bake at 375 until browned on edges and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Yield will vary based on cookies size.

 

No-Bake Rice Bars

3 Tbl. ground flax meal in 8 Tbl. water

8 cups plain rice cereal

2 cups peanut butter

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1 Tbl. vanilla (optional)

1 cup dried cranberries, unsulfured

Mix ground flax meal in water and set aside to congeal. In a large saucepan, combine peanut butter, brown rice syrup and vanilla. Stirring regularly, warm over low/medium heat until the mixture becomes liquid – about 2 to 4 minutes. Don’t overcook, or it will start to scorch. In a large bowl, pour melted peanut butter liquid over the rice cereal and cranberries. Add flax meal mixture. Stir everything together by hand. This will take some muscle. Spray a 9×13 casserole pan with non-stick spray. Press rice cereal/peanut butter mixture into pan firmly with your hands or a spatula. Chill at least one hour before cutting in serving-size portions. This is also a yummy people-snack, too!

 

 Pizza Rounds

1 Tbl. ground flax meal mixed in 2 Tbl. water

1 cup brown rice flour

6 oz. can tomato paste

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 Tbl. olive oil (optional)

1/4 cup water, as needed

Preheat oven to 375. Mix ground flax meal in water and set aside to congeal. In a food processor or blender (or by hand in a bowl), mix brown rice flour, tomato paste, chopped parsley, basil, oregano and olive oil. Add in flax meal mixture. If dough is too dry, add 1/4 cup of water until well combined and smooth. By hand, form into desired size cookies. Use cool water on your fingers to prevent sticking. Bake at 375 until browned on edges and firm, about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Yield will vary based on cookies size.

 

 Garden Gobblers

2 Tbl. ground flax meal mixed in 4 Tbl. water

2 whole carrots

1/2 cup fresh kale

1 tsp. spirulina powder

2 cups buckwheat flour

1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 375. Mix ground flax meal in water and set aside to congeal. In a food processor or blender chop carrots and kale to fine pieces. Add spirulina, buckwheat flour and water to processor; mix well. Add in flax mixture. If dough is too dry, add water until smooth. By hand, form into desired size cookies. Use cool water on your fingers to prevent sticking. Bake at 375 until browned on edges and firm, about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Yield will vary based on cookies size.

Vote for the BEST vegan stuff!

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Now is the time to exercise your right to be heard ~ on the topic of general vegan awesomeness, that is. It’s the annual VegNews Veggie Awards and it’s your turn to make your opinion count for these small vegan businesses.

You can vote for best non-dairy milk, best chocolate bar, best vegan cheese, best vegan restaurant. Then there are fun categories like fave veg celebrity and best fake “meat” – can we suggest Beyond Meat for your vote? For some small businesses, like the vegan B&B category, these votes are a huge deal to the success of their business! Don’t forget our friends, recently profiled, at the Ginger Cat B&B in New York.

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As you cast your vote remember – any support you give to vegan businesses helps them grow. All small businesses struggle, so make your votes count and ask others to get online and rally behind all these companies by participating in the VegNews Veggie Awards 2014! Click over to VegNews here and get going!

 

Farm Day at Burleigh Manor!

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Let’s face it. You can’t get a much better dining companion than a rescued alpine goat. Like this guy. He is happy to share your cookies, crackers, sandwich, fruit. Pretty much everything. Which is one of many good reasons to head out to the Day at the Farm on August 17th from noon to 4pm at Burleigh Manor Animal Sanctuary in Ellicott City. This special day is hosted by the sanctuary and your friends at Baltimore Vegan Drinks. Don’t be scared by the “vegan drinks” thing – this isn’t a drinking event (though you’re welcome to BYOB). It’s a family-friendly day where EVERYONE can enjoy their time on the farm together. Especially the goats. Tickets for children are FREE; adults pay $15 each and 100% of that money is for the animals.

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In addition to farm tours at noon and 3pm, there is a lot of other fabulous-ness happening! You are invited to pack your own veg-friendly picnic and BYOB to eat and lounge on the estate lawn. There will be a volleyball court set up, as well as a jumping castle for children. (Ahem… did you notice we recently hooked you up in a post a few days ago – with loads of picnic ideas! What a coincidence!)

So Delcious is providing a ton of vegan frozen treats, available for a donation to the sanctuary…

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Do you prefer Tofutti Cuties? Not to worry – they’ve got those too. Both companies were excited to sponsor this fun, family-friendly picnic day!

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But there’s more!  How about locally-made kombucha to drink and delicious krauts, kimchi and pickles from Hex Ferments? Yes, that’s right, you DID see them in Martha Stewart. They’re that darn good.

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Want more? Yes, there’s more. How about a variety of fun crafts, for both kids and adults? Kids can make piggy penny banks from upcycled water bottles. For kids and adults, make signs/plaques from upcycled barn wood! Great for kitchen decor like this sample or kids bedroom name signs – your imagination is the limit!

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This cute “Animal Friendly Kitchen” sign was made by Gita Devi, from the Ginger Cat B&B. Thanks Git a- your ideas were good ones for crafts! 🙂 Join us at the farm to make your own sign like this!

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You want give-aways? Duh! It’s the Bmore Vegan Drinks crew we’re talking about! OF COURSE there are FREE door prizes – for kids and adults – all you need to do to enter is SHOW UP! And there’s free, cute gear from Beyond Meat, too. Who can resist a cow keychain? First come, first to get the keychains and buttons.

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Got a sweet tooth? Decorate a vegan cookie with Good & Kind Bakery! She will have various cute shapes available, as well as frosting and sprinkles. Fun for grown-ups and little ones. Everyone likes art you can eat! $3 for one, 2 for $5. Sounds like a project!!

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Shop for later, too. Relay Foods will be set up to introduce folks to their local, organic and tasty produce and vegan goods. Personally, we can’t get enough of the locally made tofu and veggie burgers they have! YUM! Did we mention Relay also delivers to your door?

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We’ve saved the best for last. Cuz Gene Baur is coming! Yep, the man himself will be there! He’s gonna be at Burleigh, hanging out and taking a tour. You can get him to sign a copy of his book, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food, as well – buy your copy at the event, so all funds go to the animals!

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If you just can’t get enough Gene Baur at the end of the day, join him and the owners of Burleigh for a VIP Dinner. It’s $100 a plate and ALL proceeds from this event also go directly to the animals. The vegan, wheat-free meal will be prepared by Chef Sarah Dunn and includes – get ready for this – Chilled Carrot Bisque  garnished with chili infused oil, cashew cream, and chives;  Veggie Napoleon on a Lentil Cake with Sautéed Greens and Sweet Potato Mash, garnished with Fried Basil Leaf, Roasted Red Pepper Ribbons, Toasted Coconut, and Balsamic Glaze. For dessert, a Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie with Coconut Whip, Spun Sugar and Chocolate Drizzle. Wine for the meal is all vegan and organic, and donated by V-NO Wine Bar in Baltimore. Bite into that! Eurkea!

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What’s that? You’re still on the fence? You need to get your ticket right now for a Day at the Farm with Baltimore Vegan Drinks at Burleigh Manor.  If all these awesome activities don’t inspire you, perhaps the residents of the farm will…

 

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Now you’re wondering where that link was to get your ticket. We know. Here it is again$15 per adult, children are free. Noon to 4pm on Sunday August 17th. Rain or shine. And the Gene Baur VIP Dinner is at 5:30pm, $100 per plate; 8 seats remain. Don’t miss this one folks, it’s going to be amazing!

 

 

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Meemaw’s Pastina

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You only get a few real BFF’s in your life. I’m a minute from 40 years-old, and while I don’t claim to be an expert, I do know that most people come and go. Only a few really special friends are truly forever. For me, Becca is one of those friends. We met over a decade ago in a belly-dance class and though she now lives in South Carolina and we can’t visit very often, I don’t feel like she is any less a part of my life.

One of my favorite memories with Becca was a trip to see Meemaw, her Italian grandmother, in rural Pennsylvania during spring of 2004. Meemaw is a sweet, gentle lady who greeted us off the road that evening with a warm smile – and a bowl of steamy pastina soup. I’d never had pastina before and have loved it since. Apparently these little pasta stars are common comfort-food to Italians, but it was all new to me.  It’s great after a long day at work or when you have a cold or during a wintery night or when you just need simple food that feels like a snuggly hug from Meemaw!

Today seems the perfect day to post this recipe, as it’s Meemaw’s 90th birthday. This photo from 2007 shows Meemaw, on the left; Becca in the center; and Mariann, Becca’s mom, on the right. Three generations of wonderful, kind ladies. And each of them knows the value of a warm bowl of pastina.

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To be honest, I don’t know Meemaw’s exact recipe for pastina.  But over the years, this is how I make it and it always reminds me of her. Making a bowl of pastina couldn’t be easier. If you don’t feel like adding the veggies, just warm the pasta and broth. If you want a veggie short cut, you can find pre-chopped onion/carrots/celery on the grocery store salad bar. This recipe serves one person. Make as much as you or your family, needs, of course, and it’s crucial to serve it with a hug, like Meemaw does!

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2 cups vegetable broth (we like Pacific Foods low sodium)

2 Tbl. minced onion

2 Tbl. minced carrot

2 Tbl. minced celery

1/4 cup pastina pasta (Barilla’s is great)

In a saucepan, warm the vegetable broth and minced veggies over medium-high heat.  When the veggies are soft, about 3 to 4 minutes, add the pastina. Bring to a low boil for about 4 to 5 minutes and serve warm right from the pot.

If you want, add salt and pepper (depending on the saltiness of your broth), and sometimes, I stir in a spoonful of pesto, if I’m feeling fancy.

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Wishing you a wonderful 90th birthday, Meemaw!!!!

Hugs, Rissa & Nathaniel

Pack a Picnic

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Summer is winding down, but there’s still plenty of time for picnicking! What to pack in your basket..? There are so many options. No need to settle for a tired container of hummus and some chips. Try one of our fun summer recipes. We’ve got a fiesty potato salad to rev things up, chickpeas and broccoli to fill your wrap, tofu BBQ with slaw, a gluten-free take on tabbouleh and a crunchy snack mix on the side. Throw a few cookies or some fruit into the basket as well, and you’re all set for a yummy day of outdoor eating!

Buffalo Potato Salad

Ready for an update on the classic? Try our Buffalo Potato Salad. We took the usual and amped it up a bit. There are still chunky of yummy potato and the traditional celery and carrot, but we’ve tossed in some buffalo sauce, white miso and pepitas to give this summertime staple a new life. Red pepper, green onions and spices round out the recipe. Click on over to Sister Eden’s blog to check it out. This is sure to please the fellows who go for buffalo-whatevers, as well as anyone who likes a fiery kick to their food.

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Spicy Broccoli Chickpea Salad

You may have noticed, we like it hot around here. Some people even say that spicy food keeps you cooler in summer heat. While I have no idea if that’s true or not (anyone?), I can tell you for sure that this Spicy Broccoli Chickpea Salad is very tasty and makes great filling for a tortilla, pita,  lettuce wrap or sandwich. Can’t stand the heat? No problemo. Just leave the hot sauce out. This recipe is versatile and you can still enjoy the garbanzo beans and veggies with just the plain dressing.  This recipe is also living on Sister Eden’s blog and is just a click away from joining your picnic basket!

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 BBQ Tofu Sandwiches with Carrot-Dill Slaw

BBQ and slaw pretty much scream “summer food to eat outdoors.” In this recipe, the BBQ is warm with a spicy bite from cayenne and horseradish. The slaw cools things down with dill and crunchy cabbage. You can make both parts individually, or keep ’em together, and they are a tasty way to stuff a sandwich or wrap. Making the slaw ahead will really give the flavors a chance to combine.  Sister Eden is keeping it real with this recipeclick on over to check it outtofuBBQ_dhbg_lr.

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Everyone knows tabbouleh salad. It’s bright, refreshing and a great side or even a sandwich filler. But traditional tabbouleh salad is made with wheat, so if you’re wheat or gluten free, you may be missing this scrumptious dish. No more. Try our redo made with quinoa. It has a similar texture and flavor profile. Pile on the tomatoes, cukes, parsley, mint, lemon and spices and it is just like you remember. We also added some surprises, like artichoke hearts, to really update this tasty salad. Check out the recipe with Sister Eden.

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Munchie Mix

Everyone knows how it feels to be munchie. This snack mix duo is great as a side, or in the car or when you’re running around the campground/beach/amusement park/pincic area – where ever! We gave the old school square cereal mixes a vegan makeover with some more modern flavor profiles: Mexicali and “Bacon” BBQ. Be sure to make a double batch of whichever you decide on, cuz these will disappear quickly. We even tested them on picky young eaters – and both were a hit! This is easy to make gluten-free, as are both of the above salads, so the recipes are safe for GF eaters, too. Get your Munchie Mix on by viewing the recipes on Sister Eden’s post.

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So are you ready to head outdoors for a picnic? You’ve got potato salad, chickpea wraps and snack mix ready to go.  Want more tasty picnic ideas? Check out these posts from the past…. one or more is sure to please your picnicking crew! See you outside!

Easy Salsa Pasta Salad

Pimento Cheese Spread

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Aunt Rosemarie’s Roasted Veggie Dip

Super Simple Peanut Butter Pie

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Cindy’s Potato Salad

Lemon Pepper Beyond Meat Sandwiches with Herb Mayo

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Panzanella Tomato-Bread Salad

Thick Cookie Sandwiches

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Karen’s Broccoli Salad

Hummus Burgers

Jess’s Taco Wraps

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Hippie-Dippy Red Pepper Dip

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Far Out: Farm Sanctuary, New York

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Farm Sanctuary. When you say the words, it’s rock solid. It’s the baseline and standard for farmed animal rescues everywhere, thanks to Gene Baur and an army of dedicated volunteers. Founded in 1986, Farm Sanctuary is the largest animal rescue in North America. There are three locations, one in New York State and two in California. Our journey starts at the east coast farm, just outside of Watkins Glen, New York.

Yep, it’s our first video/photo combo on this blog! We’ve visited Farm Sanctuary three times, and all the images on this post are from a past visit, not when we went last week. But it looks the same – the rolling fields, the cheerful red barns and the perfectly happy critters.

Just before you arrive at the NY Farm Sanctuary, you wonder if you’ve taken a wrong turn. You find yourself winding back an unpaved road. Yes, there are signs… but still, you don’t think it could possibly be the place. And just when you are about to give up and call the visitor center, there is a break in the forest and you see the lush green pastures and bright barns. You’re there!

Inside the People’s Barn you’ll find a number of displays about the residents of the sanctuary, as well as a real battery cage, veal crate and gestation crate. There’s also a large gift shop with clothes, books, food and drink, as well as toys and goodies for children. In the gift shop, you also pick up your ticket for the tour.

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On this visit, we had a super tour guide named Ben. He was well-spoken and great at answering tough questions. Maybe we are naive, but thought only vegans, vegetarians and animal-lovers would visit a place like Farm Sanctuary. On our tour there was a cattle farmer, and he was set on arguing almost every point Ben made. Lucky for the animals, Ben was not rattled and had calm, factual answers for each comment made. We were impressed.

The first stop on our tour was a cow pasture. It was the closest I had been to a cow until that point, and their calm, gentle nature was a beautiful thing to witness. There are about 50 cattle living at the New York farm currently. Ben told us that cows can live to 25 or 30 years old, but most are killed by age 4 when they are in the factory farm system as beef or dairy cows.  That day, we met cows named Kirsty, Sammuel, Meg, Frankie and Thunder. Each was a sweetheart.

Farm2_lrNo one wants to admit they play favorites. But let’s be honest – there’s always a favorite. And for me, the favorite is goats. I’m not sure I can explain why. Is it their wiley nature, the joker-esque smiles, the ability to eat anything, the way they climb? Maybe all of the above. Maybe I was a goat in a past life. Who knows. But I just adore goats, and the goats at Farm Sanctuary were no exception. Yes, that is me, snuggling a goat.

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A large number of goats make their home at the New York farm. Many were dairy goats. Others were rescued from live markets, where people go to select the living animal they wish to have slaughtered for a meal. Ben explained that though many Americans don’t think of goats as usual meat, that they are used heavily for goat cheese, which has gained popularity and are commonly eaten in many ethnic cuisines, such as Jamaican and Middle Eastern.

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Next we met some chicks. There were loads of ’em, walking all around. Ben told us that of the 9 billion animals killed for food in US annually, 8 billion are chickens and the average chicken in the food-system has a 42 day life span. Considering that chickens can live to be  7 to ten years old, that’s pretty shocking. Of that number of chickens, many millions are male baby chicks in the egg industry. They have no use and many are tossed – alive – in trash bags and dumpsters, or worse – ground up while still alive and made into feed for other animals.

The chickens and roosters at Farm Sanctuary got lucky. They are living their lives out in peace. They get to truly free range, they can scratch at the Earth, run and play and roost. You can see by their beautiful feathers and bright eyes that they are healthy and serene.

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Though we’ve both seen plenty of wild turkeys (for serious, not the kind on the liquor bottle label), Farm Sanctuary was the first place we met turkeys rescued from the factory farm system.  As you can see, the Dirty Hippie took a particular liking to Antionette.

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Tour guide Ben explained that turkeys bred for food are always all white (wild turkeys are colorful or brown), because it’s considered more appetizing for consumers if there is no pigment in their skin. Also, factory farms trim off turkeys’ beaks and toes, because when in confinement, they become stressed and peak/scratch at each other. This is common practice and is done with no pain killer or follow-up vet treatment. Basically, imagine someone cutting off your toenails and the first bones of your toes, as well as the tip of your nose – with no pain killers. These mutilations have been found to shorten the lives of turkeys and are quite painful, as both the beaks and toes have nerve endings.

And yet, the rescued turkeys we met – despite the fact they were treated terribly by humans before – were friendly and happy to see the folks on the tour. Many walked up and wanted to be fed and petted. We were amazed at the turkeys’ general feeling of trust towards everyone in our group. It was encouraging to witness their contentment and know they were in safe place, where they were well cared for and loved.

Farm4_lrThe last stop we made on the New York Farm Sanctuary tour was a pig barn. And what a way to go out with a bang! These critters were fun, funny and super outgoing. Several wanted belly rubs and just laid right down to wait for the massage to begin.

Ben explained that pigs aren’t really dirty, like people always say. Pigs mud-bathe to keep cool in the summer heat, as they don’t sweat. Also, pigs can get sunburned, so the coating of mud can protect them from an uncomfortable scorch. While it’s well known that pigs are highly intelligent, we learned that they are smarter than dogs, and can perform better playing video games that young human children.

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This is barely a scratch into the surface of the facility at Farm Sanctuary. There were also sheep pastures and barns, areas with rabbits, and a large enclosure with ducks and geese, that also included a pond.

A lovely garden is planted as well, around the grave of Hilda. She was the first rescue made by Gene Baur: he was at a stockyard in Lancaster PA and saw a sheep on the dead pile that was still moving. With his companions, Baur picked her up and took her to a vet, assuming she would need to be put down, but with some simple fluids, Hilda the sheep was revived and perfectly healthy. Hilda lived with Baur on Farm Sanctuary for 11 years until she passed of old age. Her grave is a tranquil place, well-tended with flowers and a stone marker. Clearly Hilda knew love and was blessed to have Baur  pull her from the stockyard all those years ago. When she lifted her head towards him, she inspired a chain of actions that has since saved the lives of thousands more animals – both by actual rescue and by inciting other people to stop consuming animals.

The sign you see as you come and go from Farm Sanctuary in New York sums up beautifully…

Farm7_lrAnd – Want to know something incredible? Gene Baur got this whole thing going by selling veggie hot dogs from a van. No joke. What that means to me is – that if you set your mind to doing something good in this world, and you keep at it, amazing things are possible. Look at the smile on that pig’s face. I think what she’s saying is something like… thank you.

To visit Farm Sanctuary in New York, plan your trip between May and October. Tours are not given over the winter. Be sure to check their hours and available tour times online. The farm is located at 3150 Aikens Rd., Watkins Glen, NY 14891. Their number for tour info is 607-583-2225.  Can’t make it to the farm but still want to help the mission of Farm Sanctuary? You can adopt an animal, buy shirts and gifts online, or just donate funds.

Cheesy Broccoli Bites with Beyond Meat

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Entertaining in style can be simple. Really. All you need is some Beyond Meat and phyllo pastry shells. Most major grocers carry phyllo pastry shells and we have yet to find any that were non-vegan. This recipe is perfect for serving to company as an appetizer. It’s easier to make than it tastes and comes together in less than 15 minutes. No joke! We like it best with Beyond Meat chicken-less strips, however, it also works with their beefless crumbles, too.

So call the neighbors, get some wine and decide on a main course. It’s time to get out the good dishes, because we’ve got the appetizer all figured out for you!

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Cheesy Broccoli Bites with Beyond Meat

12 mini phyllo pastry shells

2 Tbl. olive oil

1/2 cup Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips, Lightly Seasoned flavor, torn into very small pieces

1/2 cup broccoli, diced very small

1/4 cup bell pepper, diced very small (any color is fine)

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/8-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. lemon zest

2-3 Tbl. vegan mayo (we like Vegenaise, Earth Balance and Just Mayo brands)

1/2 cup vegan cheddar shreds (we used Daiya)

 

Preheat oven to 400. On a baking sheet, arrange 12 mini phyllo pastry shells. Set aside.

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, combine olive oil, Beyond Meat pieces, diced broccoli, diced peppers, garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. Saute until veggies are lightly browned and Beyond Meat is warmed, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and vegan mayo.

Spoon the Beyond Meat and veggie mixture into the 12 phyllo pastry shells. Top liberally with vegan cheddar shreds and place in the oven. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until phyllo shells are lightly browned and cheddar shreds are soft and melty.

This serves four people – three appetizers each. Or one Dirty Hippie, ‘cuz he can eat a dozen by himself! If you are feeding a crowd, get a few boxes of phyllo shells and double or triple the recipe.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, the Dirty Hippie won a Twitter contest where he was awarded a FREE year’s supply of Beyond Meat. We LOVE LOVE LOVE the product, which is why we post recipes featuring it so often. They didn’t give us the freebies because we’re bloggers though, and we’re not on their payroll – we won the food, fair and square. We just wanted you to know. Trying to find Beyond Meat? Use this guide to find one near you! Try Beyond Meat yourself – use this link for a $1-off coupon!