Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies come courtesy of the Post Punk Kitchen and are without a doubt the most delicious, chewy, fudgy, exQUISite chocolate cookies I have ever had in my life, and they're VEGAN! It would be a crime in the name of all that is vegan for you to not run to your kitchen right this second and bake these cookies!! You'll never need another chocolate fix again...

3/4 cup canola oil (I prefer to use half canola, half peanut)
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup applesauce (PPK uses flaxseeds, but I think applesauce makes them more moist & delicious)
1/3 cup soymilk (although PPK calls for 1/2 cup, you don't need as much because of the applesauce)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup high quality cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I like the Bakers brand chunks)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, soda, & salt. In a seperate bowl, cream together the oil & sugar, then add the applesauce & vanilla. Next, fold in the dry ingredients in batches. When it starts to get too stiff to mix with a spatula, use your hands until a nice stiff dough forms. Add the chocolate chips and mix with your hands again. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and flatten into a disc that's about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, then set them on a wire rack to cool completely. These cookies may not seem like they are done after 10 minutes, but trust me they are! Take 'em out!

Now as always, you can throw in some nuts of your choice (psst...try hazelnuts for a nice flavor!). You could also replace the vanilla with a nut extract, or even a mint extract! Throw in some dried fruit if you'd like (a'hem...dried cherries will make your mouth water). Bottom line, get creative with these guys, they're hard to mess up! I even baked them in a 9x13 for 35 minutes as a big ol' brownie and they came out great!

Soup Beans & Cornbread Recipe

Yum, yum, yummy! Soup Beans & Cornbread is my absolute favorite southern meal, and is a very important staple where I'm from. The rich creamy pinto bean broth makes for a delightful dinner, especially when complimented with fresh cornbread. Now I normally make cornbread in my iron skillet but seeing as I'm on a diet, I decided to make little corn muffins instead. Wanna know how to make this quintessential southern meal? Ohhhh, you're gonna love me after this...

Soup Beans
1lb. bag of pinto beans, picked over and rinsed

Water - enough to fill the pot up to 2 inches above the line of beans

Butter (I use Butter-flavored Crisco) to flavor the beans

1T salt (or to taste)

After you've picked over and thoroughly rinsed the beans, place in a large pot over high heat. Add the water. I usually fill to pot with water 1 1/2 inches above the bean line, but if you're feeding more that 4, you'll want to up it to 2 inches. Cover with a lid, bring the beans to a boil, and lower to medium heat. Boil hard for 20 minutes. Drain the beans again and return to the pot. Fill the pot with water again, (same amount) and return to a boil. Add the butter flavor and lower to a simmer. Cook the beans for at least 2 1/2 hours. Add 1T salt (or to your taste) near the end of the cooking time.
Now you could let the beans cook on very low heat all day if you chose. The longer they cook the thicker and juicier the soup will be. However, 2 1/2 hours is always satisfactory. One important tip!!...Always remember to stir frequently because stirring the beans makes them mush up and thicken the broth. At the end of cooking, the beans should look like the above picture.

Southern Cornbread

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer

2 T warm water

1 cup soy milk

1 T vinegar

1/4 cup corn oil (plus more for coating the skillet)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put a well-oiled cast iron skillet in the oven while it is preheating. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a small cup, combine the egg replacer & warm water, stir. In a medium-size bowl, combine the soymilk, vinegar, corn oil, & egg mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & stir to get out any lumps. Grab the skillet out of the oven and pour the cornbread batter into the skillet. I use a 10 inch skillet but a smaller one would work as well. You pay have to smooth the batter out in the skillet. Place in the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Now immediately after the cornbread comes out of the oven, flip it over in its pan. This will prevent the bottom from becoming mushy.
If you don't have an iron skillet, you may use any 8-10inch square pan for baking using the same recipe. If you would prefer cornmuffins, 1 recipe makes about 10-12 small muffins & only requires baking for 10-15 minutes. (If you want to cut the recipe in half to make less muffins, just remember to still use the same amount of egg replacer & water).

Beans & Fruit!!

Yay! New diet is going really great. I've lost 3 lbs in 3 days. A big sized step for only being 1/3 of the way through my first cycle. Here's a breakdown of what I've been eating:

Day 1: My 1st meal was soymilk & 1/4 cup of mixed nuts. 2nd meal was a bowl of baked beans & mixed vegetables, 3rd meal was tofurky deli slices, and 4th meal was oatmeal & mixed nuts again.

Day 2: This has been the hardest for me b/c the 2nd day of each cycle is a fresh fruit ONLY day. Now don't get me wrong, I like fruit but not all day long. I just don't like all the sweetness. Alas, my meals consisted of apples, grapes, strawberries & kiwis (i got to choose the fruit).

Day 3: Prunes for breakfast, Gardenburger chikn grill patty & new Morningstar Farms chikn strips for lunch (they were both REALLY GOOD). Now I made homemade soupbeans for dinner (I made cornbread for my boyfriend and cheated by having 1/2 of a little corn muffin with the pinto beans cos you just can't have one w/o the other, and mixed nuts for a snack at night.

The diet hasn't been that bad. It's teaching me that number 1, I've been eating way too much at each meal & since your metabolism reacts more the the portions you eat per meal rather than the amount you eat as a whole each day, that's really bad. It's been surprising to me that only a little bit of food has filled me up for the day. Yesterday I counted up all the nutritional information for what I ate and it came in at just under 800 calories. I've been eating less than half of the carbs I'm used to, half of the fat, and still a TON of protein. I don't go hungry at all. Every time I feel hunger pains it's usually time to eat again anyway. The only difficult thing was that fruit day cos I kept getting hungry every 2 hours. But luckily, fruit day only comes once a cycle. I really really reccommend this diet for anyone trying to lose weight relatively quickly. It's not a diet to stay on for the rest of your life, but the guidelines can continue to be applied to the rest of your eating habbits after the diet & the online site gives a lot of information on maintaining the weight afterweards. And just for the record, the company isn't paying me to write about the diet on my blog, I'm just a person who has found a lot of success with it thus far and wants to recommend it. I know how hard it is to shed some unwanted pounds & this diet makes it really easy. Fat Loss 4 Idiots

My fancy new diet!!

So I've been on this Fat Loss 4 Idiots diet for 4 days now. Now I'm not overweight, but haven't been comfortable with my body for years and felt like it was time to lose a few pounds. I tried cutting way back on carbs about a month ago (opting to eat more veggies & tofu w/o pasta & not a loaf of french bread every night), and I lost almost 5 lbs. But then I hit a plateau and stopped losing weight. Hmmm....what could be happening?

So then I happened across this
Fat Loss 4 Idiots diet and after researching it as much as I could online, I decided to give it a go. Basically the idea is that if you try to diet & cut back on calories, you'll lose weight at first but after a few days your metabolism will catch up with you and adjust itself so that it only has to burn what you keep putting into your body & weight loss slows way down. See your metabolism works based on a memory of what you've been putting into your body over the past few days. We tend to eat the same kinds of foods for each meal each day. Not good. Now, if you can shock your metabolism and always keep it guessing what you're going to eat next by shifting the types of calories around that you consume each day, then your metabolism will have no choice but to continue burning the fat you have stored up.

So yeah, that's the idea of the diet. Now what do you do for it?? Well first, you pay a one time only fee of $27 (which really isn't much if you think about it. most online weight loss programs cost more & it's a weekly fee. i figured it was pretty much the equivalent of buying a book on the South Beach Diet or something). Then you login to the site and you choose up to 30 of your favorite foods from a list it gives you. Now the good news is that there IS a vegetarian menu option that you can choose & it also gives options for soymilk & soycheese. I had a problem finding any information on vegan options for the diet which is primarily why I'm writing about this on my blog.

After you choose your favorite foods, the online site creates an 11-day diet menu for you to follow. The menu consists of very simple meals (a bowl of beans for one, soymilk & nuts for another, soychicken for another, etc.) that you must follow strictly for these 11 days. You have to eat 4 meals a day, spaced at least 2 1/2 hours apart & can eat the meals in any order, but you can't mix & match foods from each meal. Like I said the meals are really simple, and a bit boring, but after 11 days you get 3 "cheat" days where you can eat whatever you want! After the cheat days, you go back online and generate a new diet menu and repeat the process. You stay on the diet until you are happy with your weight. That's it! There are no limits on portions, you simply eat until you feel satisfied (but not full or stuffed). The website claims you can lose up to 9 lbs in those 11 days & have read rave reviews from customers. I'm liking it very much so far. I'll continue with posts on my success.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

my first post!!

Well, well, well, welcome to my first post! (And to Vegan Skillet!) I'm just so happy to have y'all here. So first, an introduction. My reasons for creating this blog were threefold...#1: To share delicious vegan recipes that I've created, adapted, & come across, #2: To share vegan weight loss advice because I know how hard it is for some people to maintain a healthy weight when they feel like all they're eating is carbs, carbs, carbs!!!, and #3: To share writings about my life for anyone who's willing to read!! I'll share new vegan restaurants I've found in New York, sweet stuff that happens to me, as well as pictures of my adorable adopted cat Gloria (adopted because she "legally" belongs to my boyfriend Jon <--minor technicality). So I hope everyone enjoys the blog aaaaand....see ya in a bit!