Happy Anniversary: Vegan Carrot Cake

Four years has passes since that chilly November morning in Lower Manhattan when we said I do. We have a house, a two-year old daughter and our marriage is legal in all 50 states. Those three things felt like they were so far away from happening in that moment but here we are.

img_2055Our wedding day was as much about food as it was about the whole legally binding contract we were entering. We had lunch at the Cinnamon Snail Food truck, rehearsal dinner at Candle 79, reception at Blossom Cafe in Chelsea, and lunch at Loving Hut NYC to name a few. We hit all of the important NYC vegan food we could possible fit in! As irony would have it, we were married atop the Irish Hunger Memorial. Our amazing friend B.B. made sure we had a delicious vegan cake to celebrate the day from Erin McKenna’s Bakery (formerly Baby Cakes). We chose carrot cake with cinnamon icing.

 

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My awesome wedding cake with our Day of the Dead Dolls. 

This year I decided to attempt to recreate our wedding cake. I had never attempted a carrot cake or a cinnamon icing. I think I have always steered away from a carrot cake because of all of the carrot prep work seems like a lot…the peeling, the shredding…heh. Turns out I am ridiculous and can peel and shred a carrot like a boss.

But….WHY ARE ALL OF THE RECIPES GLUTEN FREE? I am not gluten intolerant (real or imagined). Also, I am not a huge fan of apple sauce in baking so I generally try to find a recipe that doesn’t call for applesauce. But…Minimalist Baker is my go to vegan baking guru so I used their…

1-BOWL VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE CARROT CAKE

  • 3 flax eggs (3 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 7 ½ Tbsp water)
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) melted coconut oil* (or sub other neutral oil)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
  • 1 scant cup (~235 g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) organic brown sugar* (or sub coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) cane sugar* (or sub coconut sugar)
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 – 1 cup (180-240 ml) plain unsweetened almond milk* (or other non-dairy unsweetened milk)
  • 1 1 /2 cups (~165 g) loosely packed grated carrot
  • 3 Cups of All-Purpose Flour (my choice instead of gluten free)
  • 3/4 cup (87 g) chopped raw walnuts* (if preferred, omit, or sub 1/2 cup (70 g) raisins)

You can find the directions here.

For the icing I chose to make a plain cream cheese icing because I had one shot to do this before my wife came home from work…

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick ) vegan butter, softened to room temperature (such as Earth Balance | butter sticks are best, not the spreadable tub)
  • 1 8-ounce container vegan cream cheese, slightly softened (such as Tofutti or Trader Joe’s brand // out of the fridge for 1 hour)
  • 3 – 5 cups (300-500 g) sifted organic powdered sugar

My icing broke…I think because the vegan cream cheese was too soft and possibly b/c I mixed too long. But a broken icing is still a tasty icing…

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Weeks 26 and 27: Zucchini Bread and Acorn Squash Soup

Depending on which internets sites you read we either began the 3rd trimester during Week 27 or will begin the third trimester in Week 28. Either way…I feel like this time has passed so quickly. We will be parents in a matter of weeks…we’re almost to single digits! As of today, 11 weeks and 6 days! I have tried to be present and savor every moment even the smelly ones.

Lisa’s belly continues to grow but she is not quite ready for maternity clothes yet. We watch and talk to the baby as it wiggles around. Man is that baby active…We were cracking up watching Lisa’s belly just out at the little thumps which I picture being elbow punches. I tried to capture a little video but I kept missing it. We talk about what our baby may look like and wonder which of our chosen baby names we will get to use. We decided to add to the fun of guessing what the baby will look like with our friends and family….AND YOU!  It is totally free and super easy!  We had a request to post pictures of Lisa’s belly to make guessing using old wives tells easier for those who spend too much time on the internet looking up old wives tales…(cough cough PB).

Click here to Guess What's in the Belly!!!

Click here to Guess What’s in the Belly!!!

Week 26 and Week 27 called for some winter friendly ingredients, zucchini and acorn squash! Zucchini is a staple in our home like peanut butter and jam…we use it for spaghetti, fajitas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, pizza, stir-fry, etc…It is all-purpose for us so I thought I would do something different with it. My mom made zucchini bread when I was growing up but I do not think I have attempted it as an adult and certainly not as a vegan! So I made some zucchini bread which is delicious and came out of the bread pan in perfect condition!

That's a long zucchini you got there...

That’s a long zucchini you got there…

Vegan Zucchini Bread – By Hell Yeah It’s Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • ½ c warm water
  • 2 c turbinado sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • ½ c oil
  • ½ c applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 to 2½ c grated zucchini (~3 medium-sized ones)
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c chocolate chips or raisins, optional

Directions:

  1. Grease two loaf pans.
  2. Mix together flax seeds and warm water.
  3. Add sugar, oil, applesauce, and vanilla; beat well.
  4. Add grated zucchini; stir til combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients.
  6. Add dry mixture to wet and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened and everything is incorporated evenly; some lumps are fine. If adding additional mix-ins, fold them in now. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  7. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes, or until knife inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Let cool a few minutes before slicing.

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The perfect loaf!!

 

I am a big fan of all varieties of squash! It is one food that I find delicious in any form as well. As the weather gets colder and colder here, I am craving soups! So I found a delicious recipe to turn these acorn squash into liquid gold!

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Roasted Acorn Squash Soup – By A Sweet Pea Chef

Ingredients: 

  • 3 acorn squashes, sliced in half (through stem) and seeds removed (I only had two so I used two sweet potatoes as well)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 granny smith apple, cored and chopped (I used a Honeycrisp)
  • 1 shallot, chopped (skipped since I didn’t have shallots)
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp. dried ginger
  • ¼ tsp. dried sage
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ tsp. ground allspice
  • 4 cups vegetable stock

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  3. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Place squash, cut-side-down, onto baking sheet. Roast in oven for 45-50 minutes, or until flesh is tender and easily pierced. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  4. Once cool, remove flesh from skin by using a spoon and scooping out the flesh. Discard skin and set flesh aside.
  5. In a large, deep pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add carrots, apple, shallot and onions and saute until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Once tender, add ginger, sage, cayenne, allspice, squash flesh and vegetable stock. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Remove pot from heat and puree mixture, either with an immersion blender (best thing ever), a blender (in batches) or a food processor.
  7. Once pureed, season with any additional salt or pepper to taste. Garnish with thinly sliced red onion or apples, if desired. (I topped mine with some vegan sour cream and ground pepper)

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Don’t forget to Guess What’s in Lisa’s Belly!! Click Here  to add your two cents!

Vegan Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Yesterday was Thanksgiving and we totally rocked it! This has always been my favorite of the holiday holy trinity (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter). Holidays, to me, have always been about family and love. Just being around the people you call home. The picture and cast of characters has evolved over the years but it still means the same thing to me.

Growing up I was lucky enough to live close enough to spend holidays with all of my grandparents and great grandparents. That meant eating several times on Thanksgiving depending who was hosting who. My favorite meal was at my granny’s. She always made homemade mac-n-cheese and collard greens. My mom would make the dressing (a recipe she got from her grandmother) and broccoli casserole that was out of this world delicious. My Aunt K would make a chocolate delight (aka Fat Man’s Pie) which I could still eat even when I had no room left! It was definitely the high holiday of eating! I would spend the rest of the day picking out my favorites at whoever else’s dinner we crashed. My grandma usually made red velvet cake so that was a must…and her coleslaw. Of course, all of the eating was great! But the laughter and togetherness is what made the day special. I can see the smiles on their faces and hear my Uncle G laughing hysterically while he and my mom harassed my Uncle R. There was also no family drama or fighting so you could call our holiday gatherings idyllic. I am thankful for those holiday memories.

My all grown up Thanksgiving looks different but the feeling is the same (plus more football than ever). A few years ago Lisa and I started spending Thanksgiving here in Virginia with our friends who are also from South Carolina (by way of Michigan). This year my in-laws are able to join us along with another friend of ours (we’re going to need a bigger table)! I love that the house is full of some of the people we love. I am thankful for this new tradition. Preparing Thanksgiving dinner for my growing family makes my heart burst with love! Even though our Thanksgiving meal is completely vegan, we have not abandoned our Southern culinary roots. The first year we had our vegan Thanksgiving, we had no idea what we were doing but we found amazing recipes that have become our new holiday musts! So here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes you can try (next year)! Or why wait? Who says green bean casserole is a once a year dish!

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Main Course:

We tried Tofurky and the Trader Joe’s Stuffed Roast but that just was not for us. We started making a lentil loaf each year instead.

The Ultimate Vegetable Lentil Loaf – Recipe by: The Simple Veganista

Ingredients:

Loaf

  • 1 cup dry lentils (use green/brown)
  • 2 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds)
  • 1/3 cup water (6 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauteing or steam saute using 1/4 cup water
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced or grated
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup oat flour or finely ground oats (any flour of choice will work here too)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder & onion powder…for good measure!
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, optional
  • cracked pepper & sea salt to taste

Glaze

  • 3 tablespoons organic ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils. In large pot add 2 1/2 cups water with lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. It’s ok if they get mushy, we are going to roughly puree 3/4 of the mixture when cooled. Once done, remove lid and set aside to cool (do not drain), they will thicken a bit upon standing, about 15 minutes is good.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In small bowl combine flaxseed meal and 1/3 cup water, set aside for at least 10 minutes, preferably in the refrigerator. This will act as a binder and will thicken nicely upon sitting.
  4. Prepare vegetables. In saute pan heat oil or water over medium heat. Saute garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes. Add spices mixing well to incorporate. Set aside to cool.
  5. Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend 3/4 of the lentil mixture. For me this was an important part, I tried it other ways and this worked to help as a binder. If using an immersion blender, tilt your pot slightly to the side for easier blending. Alternately, you can mash the lentils with a potato masher or fork.
  6. Combine sauteed vegetables with the lentils, oats, oat flour and flax egg, mix well. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed, or any other herb or spice you might like. Place mixture into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, leaving it overlapping for easy removal later. Press down firmly filling in along the edges too.
  7. Prepare your glaze by combining all ingredients in a small bowl, mix until incorporated. I recommend making each tablespoon heaping so you have plenty of this great sauce on top. Spread over top of loaf and bake in oven for about 45 – 50 minutes. Let cool a bit before slicing.

I did not make the glaze this year. I used a homemade BBQ sauce instead as my glaze and made enough for adding extra at meal time!

Sides:

Vegan Green Bean Casserole – Recipe by: Fat Free Vegan Kitchen 

Ingredients:

Beans

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

Sauce

  • 10 ounces mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • generous pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry (I’ve always skipped the step)
  • 3/4 cup soy creamer (or try full-fat unsweetened soymilk)

Topping

  • 1 1/2 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3-ounce can of French fried onions

Directions:

  1. Beans: Bring the water to boil in a large pot. While it’s heating, cut up the beans. Add the salt and beans to the boiling water. Cover and cook for 6 minutes. Drain beans in a colander, and then spray for a minute with cold water to stop the cooking. Let them drain in the colander, shaking every now and then to get off all the water.
  2. Sauce: Trim and discard the mushroom stems and chop the mushrooms into pieces. Spray a non-stick pan with canola oil and heat it. Add the mushrooms, garlic, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are very soft and exude their juices. Whisk the flour into the vegetable broth and add to the mushrooms along with the sherry. Simmer, stirring, until mixture thickens. Add the soy creamer and simmer until thick, about 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings and stir in the beans.
  3. Topping: Put the bread, margarine, salt, and pepper into a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Pour into a bowl and add the onions. Stir to combine.
  4. To assemble: Put the green beans into an oiled casserole dish and top with the onion mixture. Bake at 425 F for about 15 minutes.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Totally forgot the cayenne pepper for this dish…but no one even knew!

This Ain’t Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole (Vegan) – Recipe by: Oh She Glows! adapted from Fat Free Vegan 

Ingredients:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cooked
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • 1/3 cup white or spelt flour (or gluten-free)
  • 3/4 cups chopped pecans (I didn’t have- optional)

 

I made my own brown sugar so my topping is a bit dark but not burnt!

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and lightly grease a 2 quart casserole dish with canola oil. I wipe a bit on with a paper towel.
  2. Peel and then boil sweet potatoes until tender.
  3. Mash the sweet potatoes with the margarine until smooth.
  4. Add the vanilla, maple syrup, sea salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
  5. Pour into casserole dish.
  6. Next, mix the topping ingredients together until well-combined.
  7. Sprinkle topping mixture over the casserole and bake for approx. 50 minutes, checking it every so often. (I also add vegan marshmallows to the top.)

Desserts:

Healthy Pumpkin Pie – Recipe by: Chocolate Covered Katie

Lisa is obsessed with this pie! The flavor is amazing. You must follow the directions to ensure it sets.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15oz) pumpkin or sweet potato puree
  • 1 (13.5oz) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (20g)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • pinch pure stevia, or 2 tbsp extra brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Blend all ingredients together until smooth, then pour into a prepared pie crust in a 10-inch round pan.
  3. Bake 27 minutes
  4. Let cool, then refrigerate at least 5 hours uncovered for the pie to thicken and “set.”
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Lisa must eat desserts with a plastic utensil…It’s a thing.

 

I made this pie earlier in the week so it was gone by Thanksgiving but the recipe is worth noting!

These recipes aren’t the whole of our dinner – There was also an amazing macaroni casserole packing a lot of heat made by our friend Angel…Collards perfectly making their first appearance prepared by my MIL…And delicious pecan pies (best pecan pie EVAH!), pumpkin pies and fudge made by Kelly! That’s right, pies for days. OH, and mashed potatoes for the lentil loaf, of course! I will have to include those recipes in another post.

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My plate with a bit of everything!!!

We are not the kind of people who go around saying what we’re thankful for before we eat and I’m extremely grateful for that BUT we are thankful and yes, even blessed. Happy Thanksgiving! Be careful out there Black Friday shopping…People like my wonderful wife work their butts off on this unholiest of shopping days. I’m not making any judgements because I am totally meeting my friend Bill for shopping in like two hours!

Cannot wait to put our little one in this festive turkey beanie! Soooooo stinking cute!

That is totally a vegan drumette!

That is totally a vegan drumette!

To my Canadian (you know who you are) and other followers abroad…Yesterday, was American Thanksgiving which is followed by Black Friday (a totally made up shopping holiday). 

 

Weeks 21-25: Heeeey, Heeeey Baby!

The past few weeks have been crazy busy. All good things. Here is a quick run down of what we’ve been up to the past couple of weeks.

  • We had our 1 year anniversary. Since the first year was paper, we both got each other books…How adorable right? AND better yet the books were baby related and totally fit our personalities. (I may or may not have gotten caught up reading Shitty Mom and not realized I had gotten on the wrong train adding an extra 30 minutes to my commute…)

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  • We interviewed and selected our doula!  I’m very excited about our choice. Choosing was hard! The candidates were all so nice and professional. In the end, I wanted someone for us who was strong and would be supportive…even a little tough if need be when things seem hard during a natural birth. I’ve seen the Business of Being Born…I know what’s coming!
  • Worked on our baby registry (more about that in another post).
  • We toured the hospital where we will be giving birth. This gave us a sense of accomplishment as we tick off the pre birth to-do list! I talked Lisa’s mom in to posing on a gurney. I call this one “Overwhelmed Grammy”.  IMG_0313_2
  • Lisa’s mom came for a visit. She helped me with a few nursery projects that needed to be finished before winter sets in.
  • We put our crib together! It is gorgeous. I love it! There were a few bolts that were super challenging. Most awkwardly placed holes in the world…I dropped the hex key/allen wrench thingy a million and half times.

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  • We raked so so so many leaves. So many leaves…

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  • Have been attempting to learn some lullabies…our favorite these days.

  • AND one really super important thing that I’ll share later in another post.

In pregnancy related news, Lisa had her 24 Week appointment two weeks ago. All things looked and sounded great! Lisa has gained 13 lbs…in pregnancy related bumps and lady lumps only (wink wink). So far the second trimester has been very kind. We have some insomnia..that’s right I said We! (i.e. it’s Sunday and I have been up since 4:47 AM) The baby has been so active…like a little acrobat It’s so exciting to watch the baby move and feel the kicks. I am waiting for the day when Poe (our dog) has his head on Lisa’s belly and feels the baby kick for the first time. He’s going to be so freaked out…

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I think I was singing along to Lisa Loeb’s version of Twinkle Twinkle in the picture above. Singing to our little cauliflower sized bambino is my favorite thing to do. In my version of singing to the baby, the baby is mesmerized by my voice and thinks it is the best sound in the entire world…even better than Lisa Loeb. Allegedly, the baby can now move to the rhythm of songs…Lisa’s comment to this was, “the baby is not even born and can already do things I can’t do.”

25 Weeks Pregnant

25 Weeks Pregnant

Instead of posting 5 recipes to make up for the blog neglect, we had a meal with the carrot of Week 21 and the cauliflower of Week 25. This worked out perfectly! ONE thing that I crave every once in a while is hot wings and blue cheese dressing. Like always, it has nothing to do with meat, it’s the sauce…buttery hot goodness…so I made Buffalo Cauliflower Bites…

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About to run out of hand!

Week 25 – Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup rice flour or all-purpose flour (any type really)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 22 oz (6 1/2 cups) cauliflower florets
  • 3/4 cup Franks Hot Sauce (Yes, it’s vegan!)
  • 1 tbsp melted Earth Balance

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly spray a large non-stick baking sheet with oil.
  2. Combine the water, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.
  3. Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture and place on the baking sheet; bake for 20 minutes.
  4. While the cauliflower is baking, combine the hot sauce and Earth Balance in a small bowl.
  5. Pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with vegan ranch dressing if desired and celery sticks.

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Week 21 – Carrot and Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • sweet potato, washed and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
  • 6-8 carrots, washed and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs (try parsley, rosemary, or thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 400°F. Cut sweet potato and carrots into french fry strips. In a large baking sheet, toss carrots and sweet potatoes with olive oil, dried herbs and salt & pepper.
  2. Arrange in a single layer and make sure to flip the fries over two or three times to brown evenly. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Keep an eye on them making sure not to burn.

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Bonus: Vegan Ranch Dressing (because buffalo bites are nothing without it!)

I haven’t yet tried my hand at homemade vegan blue cheese but ranch dressing is super easy and most of the time I have all of the ingredients already on hand!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Vegenaise (It’s my favorite)
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (or vegan sour cream depends on the consistency you want)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped parsley (or dried, 1 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped dill or 1/4 tsp dried

Directions:

This girl literally pulls an appropriately sized bowl out. Adds all of the ingredients in no particular order to the bowl then stirs until everything is mixed together. You can eat it right away but the flavors really blend well after it sits in the fridge.

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Week 20: It’s Official! We’re Having A…

Human baby! That’s right, a real live human baby! The sonographer…nope, that’s not a word I don’t thinkI’m confusing that with stenographer…The ultrasound technician (thank you Google!) let us know several times during the course of our ultrasound that we are indeed having a human baby. What?!? Of all the things I have been worrying about, I should have been worried about her giving birth to an alien or a T-Rex and I did not even know. Of course, I would love that alien or T-Rex to pieces, though the challenges of raising a giant short-armed dinosaur would be great! How do you even swaddle a dinosaur?

Well now that we know we have a 100% human child on the way, I will sleep .00009% better at night. We do not know the sex of the baby…we closed our eyes tight when the scan reached that portion of the body…just in case we were naturally master ultrasound readers. I held my breath for most of the scan…waiting for her to say…”Whoa, that’s crazy!”…or “Eh, that doesn’t look good.”…The fear seems natural and totally rational…It is extremely hard not to worry that something is or will go wrong…But I try to remain normal and calm instead of screaming…”Good God woman, just say everything looks great!” The baby was less than enthusiastic about the long 20 week ultrasound. The baby was lying on his/her face at the beginning…then after Lisa was tilted to try to get the baby to turn over…which did happen…the baby would not turn his/her head for the entire scan…but did show promising ninja skills…maybe we have a soccer player on our hands! We also saw the baby open his/her tiny little hands. So awesome to see. Turns out everything was perfect with the baby and it is in fact a homo sapien. We also received a little lecture on evolution and how Lisa should eat more fats so she has a nice protectant barrier.

Below is proof of human life in Lisa!

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Not a Dinosaur! Rawr!

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Human Life Form!

As Lisa’s bump continues to grow, we make changes and prepare for our little one’s arrival. Not only has Lisa sacrificed her body for the cause…she also had to sacrifice her Jeep. Lisa has loved and owned a Jeep for a long time…but we just couldn’t see a two door vehicle being very practical…and it would be super annoying pulling a baby and a baby carrier in and out. Not to mention…getting in a two-door vehicle as a grown human is pretty difficult…seatbelts slapping you in the face…getting tangled…Do you go in butt first or head first?  It’s an overly complicated task for an adult…imagine what it feels like for a toddler! Lisa searched for something she would be able to tolerate driving for a few years or more…And that my friends is how we became a two Subaru family…

 

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Bye bye semi young friend…go make some other cool cat happy…

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Love, it’s what makes a Subaru!

I know things will keep changing but so far I am loving and enjoying our ever evolving life. It is crazy to think that 20 weeks have come and gone. We are lucky that things have been so smooth even though Lisa has had EVERY single pregnancy symptom…but her bump remains a slight hump…but there is a 13 oz. little human inside kicking and squirming about! Allegedly, our little life form was the length of a banana…B-A-N-A-N-A-S

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Poe wanted in on Banana-gram!

In honor of our little banana, I made a recipe I found on the Esther’s Kitchen Facebook page. Do you know who Esther the Wonder Pig is?  You should!  Get to know Esther…She is changing hearts and minds about animals…her dads recently held a campaign to help them buy a farm for Esther and rescued farm animals.  You can read all about Esther and experience the Esther Effect yourself!  For now here is the recipe for Banana Bread Snack Cake by Esther’s Executive Chef.

BANANA BREAD SNACK CAKE

Wet Ingredients

  • 5 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 flax egg*
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup cacao nibs or dairy free-chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, just melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*To make a flax egg mix 1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds with 3 Tablespoons water and allow to sit for 10 minutes (ground chia seeds can also be used)

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups oat flour (simply grind rolled oats in a coffee grinder or blender)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix wet ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Mix dry ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients bowl until just mixed. Spoon mixture into lined pan and bake for 30 minutes or until top starts to brown.

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Week 19: Vegan Chili and Music

One of the things I love doing the most is going to concerts…There is nothing better than geeking out to live music…It does not suck that we happen to live in an area where pretty much every music artist passes through…small acts to big acts. Usually we catch a few outdoor shows during the summer at our favorite venue…Wolftrap out in Vienna, Virginia…It is an awesome venue in the middle of the woods…in the summer the night sky and fireflies set the mood…You can sit on the lawn and enjoy a picnic or sit in the amphitheater that looks like it was made out of giant match sticks. We typically buy seats to sit in after we’ve had our picnic and wine…However, this summer we were deep in the first trimester and puking our guts out and by ours I mean the pregnant one was…and on one occasion I had to toss my cookies too…so no concerts did we see. But when Brandi Carlile announced the Pin Drop Tour at the Barns at Wolftrap…we planned a date night…not knowing how pregnancy would be treating us…And even though the show started at 8:00 PM and we’re typically asleep by 10:00 PM most nights…we rocked it out like pros.

I had never seen a show at the Barns…but the Barns are beautiful…I’m not sure if we were in the small or large barn…

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We were originally seated in the balcony even though I was online at 10 AM the day tickets went on sale…but there is not a bad seat in the house and the house was packed!

View from our seats...

View from our seats…

There were pregnant women everywhere! There was a pregnant woman sitting on our row…Then as we were sitting there minding our own business then a dude named Gary walked up and asked if we would like to sit downstairs…DUH!  He took us down to the 5th row! Where we were seated next to another pregnant lady! Lisa was getting bump envy!  There were some impressive bumps everywhere…This was a great show for bumps! A night entirely of natural sound – not even a microphone in sight!

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Guitars, Cellos and Bass, Oh my!

Brandi Carlile threw several picks which seemed to keep hitting Lisa and the pregnant lady next to her! It was extremely funny. However it was so dark in the theater…because it was only lit by the small lights you see on stage…we had no idea where they were landing. When the lights came up we were able to find two…but only kept one!

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It was such an amazing show…every minute…they gifted us with music for almost two hours and it was awesome…New songs coming on a new album! I do not have any pictures from the show because I wanted to obey the no camera rule and be present. Brandi Carlile is a favorite of mine so I have seen her a half a dozen times. Definitely check her out if you have not…but unless you live under a rock you’ve heard the song The Story. For you baby making fans out there, she recently released a children’s books with the lyrics from Caroline.

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Also she played a song in honor of marriage equality in Virginia! The video was filmed out at Wolftrap!

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I like to think I am influencing my child’s taste in music in utero…I am hoping it means less purple Dinosaur or whatever kids are listening to these days…I know I am about to find out. Week 19 is so close to week 20 that we spent some time marveling at how fast time is flying by and that we are nearly half way there! We also probably spent more time than we should looking at pictures of vernix caseosa…Our baby was the size of an heirloom tomato…October in Virginia is not a good time of year for heirloom tomatoes!

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Sharpie finger smily not related to post

Obviously, it was a good weekend to take our little tomato to a concert!

Your baby’s sensory development is exploding! Her brain is designating specialized areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch. Some research suggests that she may be able to hear your voice now, so don’t be shy about reading aloud, talking to her, or singing a happy tune if the mood strikes you.

We’ve been reading, talking and singing to the baby at night. We like to listen to the heartbeat while I talk to him/her. I get so excited about meeting our little person every day!

Since heirloom tomatoes are not at their prime and it is fall, I decided to share my vegan chili recipe with you all!!

Vegan Chili

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pack of Trader Joe’s Beefless crumbles (or the equivalent 1 lb. of meatless crumbles/TVP)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (15-oz) can of tomato sauce
  • 2 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes/sweet onions (undrained)
  • 1 (15-oz) can organic pinto beans (drained)
  • 1 (15-oz) can organic black beans (drained)

Directions

  1. Chop onion
  2. Preheat large saucepan on medium 2-3 minutes. Place beef less crumbles, and the onion in pan; cook 4-5 minutes or until onions are tender
  3. Add bell pepper, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and beans
  4. Add seasoned salt, pepper and chili powder to taste
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring often
  6. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 10 more minutes to blend flavors. Serve.
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You can substitute on can of diced and fire roasted for a slightly different flavor.

 

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TJ’s has the best beefless crumbles in my opinion! 

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Shredded Cheddar Daiya and vegan sour cream make a great topping!

Week 18: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

It’s just a jump to the left.

And then a step to the right.

With your hand on your hips.

You bring your knees in tight.
But it’s the pelvic thrust.
They really drive you insane.
Let’s do the Time Warp again.
Let’s do the Time Warp again.

Now cue the flashback

The 18th week of pregnancy started with a bit of scare.  Lisa was experiencing some pain that did not feel quite right…so after the longest bus ride home of my life, I drove Lisa over to the ER near our house. Luckily, the ER was not crowded and sick people have to wear face masks…We did wait for a bit but we were well taken care of by a wonderful ER doctor who had also used the GW Midwifery Group. We were able to see our little bell pepper and hear that beautiful heart beat. The doctor thought she may have been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions caused by some mild dehydration – so they gave her some fluids and prescribed a few days of rest. Baby and baby mama are OK though! Thankfully! We all stayed home the day after, just in case.

See, I started with something all cute and light hearted to keep you guys from having heart palpitations. You’re welcome. We did not really tell anyone about our little scare so if you are reading this with your mouth dropped open unable to believe you’re reading this on WordPress for the first time…we were just trying to keep the drama low…we even waited until the next day to tell our parents.

Here is a picture of Lisa’s bump to distract you!

IMG_0004Now that your mind is occupied by the adorable bump with the bell pepper sized fetus…I will tell you that Lisa thought she felt a little fluttering while we were waiting on the doctor to check her out!  That baby was dancing up a storm on that ultrasound so she may have but it only happened the one time.

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Our fetus was the size of a bell pepper during Week 18! We did make some dishes using bell peppers too. We use bell peppers of the green and red variety often. Two of our favorite dishes using bell peppers are pizza and quesadillas. During this pepper cooking process I switched phones so I lost my most recent pizza pictures…but luckily I take pictures of my food often.

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Christmas Eve Pizza 2013

Vegan Pizza

What You Need:

  • An Oven
  • Dough (a pre-made/homemade dough or pita bread like the picture above)
  • A good sauce (La Pizza or Don Pepino’s are great pre made sauces)
  • 1-2 Cloves of garlic
  • Toppings of your choice (Sliced bell pepper, onion, mushroom, zucchini, black olives)
  • Vegan Cheese (Daiya shreds are the best for pizza)

What to Do:

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 or per directions on dough
  2. Roll out dough to desired thickness and shape
  3. Add layer of sauce to crust all the way to the edges or leaving a bit of dough naked for easy pick up
  4. Mince garlic and distribute evenly on pizza
  5. Next put on your toppings as desire – there are no rules!
  6. Then top with your favorite vegan cheese shreds!
  7. Cook as per directions on dough or until dough is crisp and cheese is melted (~20 mins.)

It’s that simple…I promise.  Just remember to turn off your oven when you are finished.

Vegan Quesadillas

What you Need:

  • A stove top
  • A skillet or pan (non stick)
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas (Trader Joes are vegan)
  • Sliced Veggies of your choice (Onions, Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Zucchini)
  • Vegan Cheese (Daiya shreds – Pepper jack flavor is a nice addition)
  • Earth Balance

What to Do:

  1. Heat pan on low-medium
  2. Put pat of Earth Balance in the pan
  3. Place tortilla flat in pan
  4. Cover 1/2 tortilla with cheese
  5. Then place veggies and beans on top of cheese (add more cheese for extra cheesy quesadilla)
  6. Fold over the naked side
  7. Cook quesadilla until cheese melts and veggies soften (cooking equally on both sides)
  8. Slice and top with your favorite fixins’

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Obviously, these are our “recipes”…there are no technical measurements and no right way to make these dishes. These are just some of our easy go to meals – and no two ever come out the same!  They’re always tasty though!

Week 16: Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Time seems to just be flying by…I cannot believe the summer is over.  We just ended the 16th week of pregnancy.  Our fetus was the size of an avocado last week…Just look at that avocado in my hand.  It’s the darned cutest avocado I have ever seen…I just want to squeeze and love it…

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Goochie goochie goo!

We have still been busy reorganizing the house to make a nursery out of our office. Lisa has been feeling great and no signs of nausea…just regular growth pains.  The bump isn’t quite to picture sharing status yet.  As soon as it is, I’ll post updated pictures. Neither of us have felt the baby move yet (and no flutters yet).  However, the baby’s heart beats faster when I talk while we’re using the doppler.  The baby either thinks I’m awesome or I’m scaring the meconium out him or her.

Now I know I’ve made a lot of desserts so far but Chocolate Avocado Pudding is just so great.  Avocados are full of folic acid for all you pregnant ladies and they contain a lot of other good things too!  Click here to read more about the benefits of avocados!

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe small or medium avocado
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup raw agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup Almond/Soy/Coconut Milk

Directions:

Blend all ingredients into a blender (or Vitamix) until smooth and creamy. You may need to add more agave nectar depending on the size of your avocado. It’s ready to eat immediately or you can also refrigerate. Top with coconut, nuts or fresh fruit!

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Week 15: Pre-Nesting

Our recycling bin is full and trash day isn’t until Wednesday. Filled with postcard collections and keepsakes that no longer feel like they need to be kept. Lisa had a few days off this week so she got a head start on clearing out the room that will become the nursery. Unchaperoned clearing out…makes me nervous! That room is currently was my/our office area.  It was mostly mine.  Sasha, our dog, and I were the only ones who ever sat in the room. It has had a desk area for writing, calendaring and a place to keep all the school supplies…EVER.  I love school supplies…it’s a problem…But one that only harms trees and they’re a renewable resource, so really…What’s the problem if I have an entire plastic bin of sticky notes….dry erase markers…Sharpies…and 2000 staples…you know, in case I run out…because of all the stapling of the papers made from the trees?…Who am I trying to kid…We don’t even own a printer.

My name is Heather, and I like school supplies…Like, a lot. One of my favorite quotes from You’ve Got Mail addresses this obsession.

Joe Fox: Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.

(Don’t worry, you can totally be super cool and quote You’ve Got Mail at the same time) So I’m working on a new nook for my tools and thoughts…More on that and adventures in furniture refinishing in a later post.  We are working hard to finish projects before winter comes and all the snow…which will make some things more difficult…so we are consciously nesting…

This week in pregnancy – Since our baby is able to hear we’ve been reading books at night…which we try to involve the dogs in but they totally don’t see the value or I am not entertaining enough…but I do voices!  We’ve also been using our doppler every other night to listen to the heartbeat.  Such an amazing sound…I swear today when we were listening I felt a bump sweep by…it was quick and then it was gone…I could be imagining things but I’m pretty sure it happened.  The pregnant lady is starting to show more and is super adorable. She is a fabulous incubator!

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This week our baby was the size of an apple! It is the perfect time for apples too! I knew immediately it was Lisa’s turn to cook…because her Apple pancakes are amaze-balls!  Sunday mornings and pancakes were just made for each other!

The Perfect Vegan Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat) (We use oat flour instead which, Lisa wanted me to point out, we mill ourselves)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

You can find the directions at the link – HERE!  There really isn’t one thing wrong with this recipe…But we take it a step further.

  • Take an apple (Any Type), core it, then slice into thin apple rings.
  • After pouring batter into pan – place apple ring in batter. (See Below)

 

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  • Continue to cook pancakes per recipe.
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Breakfast is Served!

Week 14: Peachy Keen

I feel the need to apologize or at least give an excuse as to why there was no Week 13 post so….

My dog ate my Week 13 post.  

I usually spend part of Saturday and Sunday writing but I was out-of-town last weekend. OK…and I had PMS which makes me totally lazy.

I did drive to South Carolina to hang out with my dad to have an early birthday celebration…He’s having a big birthday this month (and my birthday is this month too).  The highlight of the trip was singing with my dad.  That is a moment that will stick with me. It was special…the kind of moment that does not come that often…so I knew I had to seize it and savor it.

One of my goals is to teach myself to play guitar before the baby is born…so we can have family sing-a-longs.  Lisa and I have them now but it is usually just the two of us singing 90s R&B or this…

Exhibit 1 –

We need to expand our repertoire…While there is no doubt that quoting and knowing the soundtrack to such a classic film will make our child the hit of the playground, I do not want to get called down to the preschool because our child is singing Freak Me by Silk…

Exhibit 2 –

What can I say?  We are classy ladies…

We had our second mid-wife appointment on Friday.  I was able to go which was exciting!  These people are so punctual…I have never been to a medical office that is ready for you before you arrive.  Our midwife is awesome.  I just think she just has such a great vibe about her. No new pictures this time! Everything is progressing nicely.  We don’t go back again until mid-October!  Lisa is baby growing like a champ.  Those first trimester symptoms have faded away and the bump is growing slowly but surely! There was some discrepancy in the size comparison chart on my phone and the ones on the internets…some say Week 13 is peach and some say Week 14 is peach…I say peaches are still in season so I made a peach crisp!

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Savvy Vegetarian – Vegan Peach Crisp 

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of peeled and sliced peaches (10 – 12 peaches)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Crumble Topping:
  • 1 1/4 cup unbl. wh. flour (use 1/2 wh. wheat or spelt flour if you like)
  • 1 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup chilled Earth Balance or other veggie spread
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Blanche peaches: Boil a large pot of water, turn off the heat and submerge the peaches for 1 minute. Scoop them out with a SLOTTED spoon and plunge into cold water to loosen the skins. Slip off the skins, using a paring knife
  3. Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones
  4. Slice peach halves evenly into 1/2 inch wedges
  5. Mix peaches and sugar together and spread evenly in cake pan

TOPPING:

  1. Add the cold veggie spread to the flour
  2. Use a pastry blender to cut into small pieces blending with the flour
  3. Add the oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon
  4. Using your hands, rub all topping ingredients together until the mixture is crumbly
  5. Spread the topping evenly over the peaches. Don’t pack it down, just let it be uneven. Gaps are okay
  6. Bake at 375 DEGREES FOR 30 minutes or until the topping is browned
  7. Cool on a rack for 1/2 hour before serving
  8. Serve peach crisp warm with non-dairy ice cream or Coconut Whipped Cream

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