Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Lesson in Stockpiling + Mexican Skillet Black Beans

Black beans, I love you. 

And not only that... I need you. 

Over the past couple weeks, my shopping schedule has been a bit messy: disrupted, postponed, rushed, or unproductive. Yes, I'm sure you all agree: that's life. 

In the interest of my character development it seems, sometimes I go to Wegmans and half of what I lovingly and calculatedly placed on my list has been raided from the shelves. Since I hold out for specific lower-priced items I can only get at Wegmans and and make a 30 minute journey out of the boonies to get them, you can imagine the dark thoughts and self-pitying I must combat as I discover one emptied bin after another. 

Oh, first world problems...

After a week or two of being bereft of staples and treats alike, I naturally began to feel like a castaway on a deserted island trying to stitch meals together out of old dips and cooked barley. What didn't help was that during this time I had run out of beans and grains (except barley, which we ate a lot of)... 

This, my friends, is a plant-based no-no. Without these pantry-challenge staples, one is truly lost at sea.  

Usually when I food shop, I only buy the ingredients needed for that week's meal plan. That means I don't tend to stockpile and throw a lot of this or that into my cart 'just in case.' If we're not making lentils that week, I don't buy lentils. Makes sense, right? 

Well I learned my lesson this month with the good old legumes and grains. These items are cheap and shelf-stable, and I learned how important they are to have at all times so you can throw meals together when a week gets unexpectedly hectic and the food store is as elusive as the legendary Bermuda Triangle.

And so when I finally did hit Wegmans to replenish my stores, I repentantly stocked up on the beans. I'm sorry, beans! I will never underestimate how important you are again! 

Other staples you should never feel ashamed for piling into your cart:
- Veggie broth
- Assorted frozen vegetables (also cheap and stable! These have saved me from the meal abyss many times. You can easily top veggies with a delicious sauce, like this Sesame Ginger Sauce, and serve with a bed of rice. BAM! Instant meal with leftovers.) 
- Salsa (so you can make simple Mexican-inspired meals out of the beans in your pantry, like the yummy skillet beans in this post or Lindsay Nixon's Black Bean and Salsa Soup).
- Plain tomato sauce (so you can throw together a pasta sauce in a pinch - you can also use up stranded old veggies that way).
- Nutritional yeast (with enough condiments on hand and some canned bnut squash or pumpkin you can make a delicious cheesy sauce for macaroni, like my favorite: B-Nut Squash Mac'n'Cheeze. Or if you're squash-less, you can make a plain 'cheeze' sauce like this one).
- Peanut/Almond butter (so you, too, can subsist on PB&J for a few days in a row like my husband. :)
- Cashews and almonds (for "cream" bases which can turn into any number of meals, like Dr. Fuhrman's Cashew Cream Sauce for veggies, this pizza with cashew cheeze sauce, or this Tomato Basil Cream Sauce).
- Almond milk (so when all else fails you can live off cereal or oatmeal...)  

Mexican Skillet Black Beans

Inspired by Caribbean Black Beans

Print or share this recipe 

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans
  • 2/3 cup corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1-1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • Hot sauce (to taste)
  • 1/2 lime juice


  • Line a frying pan with a thin layer of broth on high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until translucent, adding broth as needed (3-4 minutes)
  • Add spices (cumin, chili, coriander, cocoa) and stir until well coated. Cook for about 1 minute.
  • Add black beans (with liquid) and mash with a potato masher or fork (leave some whole and half beans).
  • Continue to cook on medium high heat. Bring beans to a boil and stir frequently to prevent sticking. The liquid will diminish and the beans will start to resemble refried beans.
  • Add salsa and corn. Continue to stir and add hot sauce to taste.
  • Remove from heat and squeeze juice from half of a lime over beans (or more, if desired). Stir in, plate, and serve over bed of brown rice.

Now that the beans are in the house I can sigh with relief... The creative meal possibilities are once again endless. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chocolate Oat Freezer Cookies

As I briefly mentioned in this recent post about dessert dilemmas, I like to keep light, flour-free, low-calorie treats on hand in my freezer. That way when I want something simple and sweet after dinner, I can just pop a delicious date bite into my mouth and call it a night. Easy. Satisfying. Health-friendly.

This pleases me. :)

This simple cookie recipe came out of a sweet find on my favorite blog, Oh She Glows. Chocolate cookies, that include oats (my favorite!), and live in the freezer. The chocolate gift that keeps on giving. Say no more! These are now a new companion for my little tub of date bites.

Angela's recipe calls for 1/4 cup chocolate chips. I made one batch according to her directions and of course they were yum! But then I got to thinking... While I don't mind using real chocolate as an infrequent treat here and there, I try to avoid refined sugar and cocoa fat as much as possible in my day-to-day diet. For more information on the important differences between cocoa and chocolate, watch this video here:

Cocoa Good, Chocolate Bad

And here:

Healthiest Chocolate Fix

As you can imagine, I'm elated, relieved, and THRILLED that a nutritarian diet can still include cocoa and that it actually boasts some fabulous nutrients and antioxidants, to boot. This is truly God's gift to my taste-buds!

So I tried to think of how I could make this great dessert idea 100% whole-foods and guilt-free. Instead of chocolate chips, I decided to combine 1/4 cup date paste and cacao powder for a delicious, chocolaty substitute.

And it totally worked. Success!

In the end I think I prefer the date paste version taste-wise, too (I don't know about you, but after months of avoiding refined sugar, it has become way too sweet for these buds!)

As she says in her recipe, these never truly harden and will quickly melt once they're removed from the cold. So store them in the freezer until you're ready to eat them.

Chocolate Oat Freezer Cookies

Lightly Adapted from Angela Liddon's recipe here

Print or share this recipe
  • 1/4 cup date paste
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 medium banana, ripe
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (for gluten-free, make sure they are GF oats)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds 
  • Optional add-ins: almond or mint extract
1. Add 1/4 cup date paste, cacao powder, and vanilla extract into a bowl. Slice up the banana and mas with a fork until most of the lumps are gone. 

2. Next add rolled oats and chia seeds and mix thoroughly. 

3. Line a large platter or cookie sheet (whichever will fit in your freezer) with parchment paper. Drop 10-12 spoonfuls of the oat batter onto the sheet and form cookies. 

4. Place in freezer and chill for at least 1 hour. You can store them in a tupperware after they've hardened. 

5. Resist reaching in the freezer to eat one every other 10 minutes. :) 

With only 64 calories and 1 gram of fat per cookie, you probably don't have to resist eating too many, however. :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Home is Where the Candy Is!

For our second Valentine's Day as a married couple, and my first V-Day as a herbivore, we skipped the store and made our candy at home. I scored this awesome silicone candy mold for Zach this past Christmas and we finally got to put it to good use!

Z's favorite candy is chocolate PB cups, but the store bought ingredient list is eerily mysterious and crammed with not-so-great ideas. Thankfully Z likes to make his own at home, using just plain old chocolate and peanut butter! Now that's more whole-foods-like-it! I would love to make a truly whole-foods chocolate sauce using cacao and dates. That would really be a cause for celebration...

Hmm, next V-Day project?

As far as fillings, we branched out and also made some chocolate-covered raw almonds and peanuts for variety. And I'm pretty sure any time there's chocolate, the pairing options are endless. :)

Do you want in on this low-ingredient-goodness? All you have to do is grab some dairy-free baker's semi-sweet chocolate, follow my chocolate sauce directions from this post, and get a hold of some kind of candy mold. (Note: you're going to want to double or triple the amount of chocolate in this recipe).

Next, get some nut butters, coconut, fresh fruit, raisins, raw nuts... pretty much whatever you want to nestle inside chocolate and go to town!

1. Melt the chocolate on the stove top according to these instructions!

Sorry for the yellowish night-time photos!

2. Once melted and smooth, shut off stove but leave chocolate on warm burner, stirring occasionally.

3. With a small spoon, dab some chocolate in the bottom of each well, and rub your finger around in a circular motion so that the chocolate goes up the sides of the mold.

4. Next, add a small amount of preferred filling in each cup and cover with another dab of chocolate. Use finger or spoon to smooth over top and press down around filling - but be very gentle.

And don't worry too much about trying to attain candy-artisan perfection. They don't need to be flawless... just yummy. :)

5. Place in freezer to let chocolate set. Because this chocolate is diluted with liquid, it won't stay hard and tends to melt quickly, but you can store in the freezer short term (1-2 days) and the fridge for a bit longer!

Mmm. Simple, cheap, special treats. The husband was pleased.

I find the semi-sweet bakers chocolate too sugary for my tastes, so if you try using unsweetened chocolate and adding date paste or coconut sugar to it that would give you more control over the level of sweetness. But I can't vouch for how that turns out yet!

And of course candy can never really be a "health" food - that's why it's a treat! But when you read some of the ingredient labels on most of the franken-confections out there today, I will gladly splurge on one of these. :)

Hope you enjoyed your national day of chocolate, I mean love!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Zucchini Banana Bread (Oil-Free)

I had a lone zucchini. I had an old banana. I wanted something warm, sweet, and delicious. Zucchini banana bread it is!

As you may have read in a previous post, I'm making a concerted effort to return to oil-free baking. I hit a bit of a slippery slope where, fully knowing that the plant-based, whole-foods diet is supposed to be low-to-no oil (oil is not a whole food and it's the most calorically dense food per lb around), I was still using coconut oil in desserts and baked goods because I thought I had to. In my mind, I wasn't eating baked goods morning, noon, and night so I thought "Why not? It's a small amount. It's moderated. The baking chemistry needs it!"

Plus I felt like my beloved baking was suffering (not that baked goods ought to function as the center of one's diet or serve as a reason to compromise healthy eating habits)! But at the time I was getting desperate. I was blowing through my ingredients and my patience by trying to deviate from recipes to make oil-free substitutions. My cookies were coming out like tasteless muffin-tops, I didn't think the date squares would stay together if I didn't add oil to the crust, I wasn't sure the granola would stick and harden in the oven without it... Oh, the horrors!

...Yeah, you get the idea. One thing led to another and before I even realized it, oil was totally a part of my diet again. Hence the difficulty of "moderation." Once you get comfortable with the idea of certain food being "fair-game" the game goes on. And on. And on.

So here's to picking ourselves back up again and starting out anew! Yes, oil-free cookies are admittedly less-than-glorious. As Cathy Fisher was kind enough to point out to me, sometimes we have to accept that certain foods "just won't be apart of [our] healthy eating experience." So I may have to say so-long to the crunchy, flat homemade cookie of yore. But that's okay in the bigger picture. As Lindsay Nixon always says, "Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels!"

Plus there are tons of other sweet treats that really don't need the greasy stuff. Some of the non-baked goodies that I keep in rotation are date bites, chocolate avocado or silken tofu pudding, and banana soft-serve. These definitely make up for a crunchy-cookie-less diet! For others, like date squares or granola, a little creativity is in order but it can be done! For instance, in my chocolate peanut butter granola recipe I use the peanut butter as a fat rather than oil! And I sure do love that recipe. :D

And when it comes to baked goods, there are certain types that taste the same without that silly old oil (apple sauce, avocados, and bananas making perfect alternatives). Sweet breads are definitely in this category and they make excellent fare for breakfast, snack, and dessert. I've been meaning try try zucchini bread for some time now and, in lieu of oil, it became zucchini banana bread! And boy am I glad it did!

This recipe came out swell and resulted in lots of nibbling and second helpings! I hope you try it and enjoy those pockets of oil-free goodness that are definitely out there if you're willing to look for them!

Zucchini Banana Bread

Print or share this recipe

Adapted from The Diva Dish

Dry ingredients:
  • 2 cup spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg/pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Wet ingredients: 
  • 3/4 cup date paste
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (approx. 1 large banana)
  • 3/4 cup non dairy milk 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large zucchini, skins on and shredded
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional) 
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (optional) 
1.Preheat oven to 325. In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Next, add the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until almost incorporated. Fold in the zucchini, carrot, raisins, and walnuts with a spatula.
2. Pour batter into a bread pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (You could also drop these into muffin tins and have breakfast for the week! If you make muffins, you will need to cut the cooking time in half - bake for about 20-25 minutes).

3. Let sit in pan for about 10 minutes and transfer to wire rack. Enjoy a slice warm (perhaps with almond butter!). Oh, and be sure to share, hard as it may be. :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Giveaway Winner Announcement + Recipe Teaser

After a random drawing, I can tell you that the winner for the Sappo Hill Soap giveaway is Hilary (over at My-So Called Home! Check out her fabulous home improvement blog if you get a chance).

Congratulations, Hilary! You're going to love these soaps. Now to hunt down a vegan chicken pot pie. Hmm... :D

Thanks to those who participated! Stay tuned for hopefully more giveaways in the future. This was fun. :)

Also, buckle up for an oil-free zucchini banana bread recipe coming at you later this week. Yum!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mini Hummus Sandwiches

Today I finally snapped a photo of another simple snack I enjoy. I mentioned that "hummus anything" is a great go-to in my previous post on minimalist munchies, but here's one cute and easy way to enjoy some of that universal beany goodness! Slice up some veggies, make little sandwiches for finger-food-friendliness and general cute factor, and there you go!

This particular hummus was made with a combination of red lentils and some leftover butter beans I had in the fridge. The neat thing about hummus is that you can make it out of all SORTS of beans. As long as you have tahini (ground up sesame seeds which you can easily make in your FP), garlic, lemon juice, a food processor and some kind of legume, you can pretty much resolve any hummus craving crisis!

Or do only I have those?

You can make hummus out of black beans (with some additional spices for a Mexican flare). This is probably our all-time favorite. The black beans have a total wow-factor that chickpeas kind of lack. Also, with black bean hummus, you can use it as a bean spread/filling/topping for taco salads, burritos, tostadas, etc. We're all about the versatility here! And Mexican food. We're always all about that.

I'm sure you could try other beans, too! Let me know if you try any other fun combinations.

The great thing about  making it yourself is that you can totally ditch the salt and oil. I know that sounds like a sin against hummus, but those two ingredients are actually totally superfluous. The lemon gives the hummus the tang and the flavor-enhancement it needs and just by adding a little water or broth you can get a smooth consistency without jacking up the calories and fat! Then you can really feel good about spooning hummus into your mouth from the container. Or is that just me again?

While cleaning up the "photo shoot," I managed to do this. Good thing our carpet is kind of hummus-colored. :)

So there you have it: Hummus in all sorts of shapes and flavors. Happy Hummusing - (can I make that a verb? :)

Also, if you haven't signed up for the Sappo Hill Soap giveaway yet, don't miss out! The contest ends tomorrow. Find out more here:

Sappo Hill Soap Giveaway

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sappo Hill Soap Giveaway!

Hello friends! You may have already heard my chatter about this on the facebook page, but Made for More is doing its first ever giveaway and I may be a little more excited about this than necessary! I follow quite a few health blogs and it's always fun to see bloggers giving away free stuff! I'm sure it must be fun to receive free stuff, too! So... here's your chance!

Why am I giving away soap? Because finding safe, affordable body care products is no easy feat! Ironically enough, in today's wonky marketing world you often have to pay more to get less. Someone's trying to stick it to the minimalists, I swear! When it comes to food, for instance, getting no-nonsense peanut butter that has one ingredient (peanuts!) is more expensive than the mad-scientist major brands with a litany of mystery ingredients on the label. Why am I paying $5 for just peanuts and $2.99 for something designed in a lab that includes more add-ins? I'll never get past the irony.

Well this marketing absurdity has spread to the beauty care world, as well. To get a brand that you can feel confident won't result in the growth of a third eye, you end up spending a lot more than shampoo or soap should cost. So I'm giving away this soap because it is the PERFECT FIND! It's a rare example of less ingredients-less money!

In the midst of my efforts to boot the parabens out of my bathroom cabinets and replace old products with safe, affordable alternatives, I was elated when I stumbled across Sappo Hill Soap at Wegmans. This brand is ludicrously inexpensive (about $1.79 per bar), it's chemical/paraben-free, it touts an average of 3-4 ingredients, and it smells divine!

With all that said, I also think that doing a small giveaway is a great opportunity to bless someone, so I hope you will take me up on it and enter this first of (hopefully multiple) giveaways!

What you'll get if you win: 3 bars of Sappo Hill Soap (2 almond bars, 1 oatmeal bar).

How do you enter? Don't worry. I won't make you do anything outrageous like create a delicious vegan meal out of nothing but oat grouts and kale stems or do a supermarket scavenger hunt for the elusive organic corn tortilla. It's going to be really simple and anyone can enter (you don't need a blogger account).

Step 1. Comment below with your name and one of two responses:
  • A link to your favorite plant-based recipe (or one you found on the internet that you'd like to try)
  • An omnivorous meal you enjoy that you would like to see veganized
Step 2. Join the Made for More facebook page if you haven't already so you can stay abreast of giveaway announcements (and so that you can join in on all the other fun that goes on there, too!)

Step 3. Await the winner announcement on Sunday, February 10th!

See? That wasn't too painful. :) 

I will select the winner randomly and hopefully I'll be able to do something fun with your responses! For the omni-made-vegan meal idea, I could probably track down a great recipe and test it for the blog! (I'm not gifted enough culinary-wise to invent one, nor do I have the spare time currently to repeatedly test-run my own version. Sorry, friends! Some other time, perhaps! :)

So please do enter! I'd be really interested to see what you come up with! The "bidding" will be open until Sunday, when the winner will be announced! Have fun and spread the word!