The Fat-Free Vegan on Valentine’s Day

Go see for yourself. The Fat-Free Vegan is one of my first sources for vegan recipies and ideas. Susan’s pumpkin pie went down fabulously in my house over Thanksgiving. My father, one of the biggest meat eaters I know and a pumpkin pie lover dujour, loved it. Since I’m not huge on soy, I used rice milk instead and it worked beautifully. I topped it with vegan whipped “cream” that you can purchase from Little Lad’s Basket locations (they also have a cook book available that gives you the recipe, maybe I’ll blog that in the future).

Susan is running a Valentine’s Recipe Competition (well not really a competition) for ideas on romantic low fat meals.

Here is our entry; a quick easy to make stir-fry and desert pairing… so you can spend more time with each other instead of at the stove.

DINNER

Ingredients

4 baby bok choi

hand full of oyster mushrooms, about 5 leaves

one large or two medium onions

three garlic cloves

chunk of ginger, about the size of your thumb

one large carrot, not going to attempt comparing this to anatomy, but use your judgement, use two if your’s is small…

four to five squirts of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (like soy sauce, got mine at Whole Foods)

Korean black bean paste, optional, use about a finger tip sized amount

Coconut Oil, optional, use about a finger nail sized amount (I used Nutiva since it’s organic and extra virgin, with the little fat you do use, might as well try to be as “healthy” as possible)

Rice (I use Basmati rice that I got in bulk, but feel free to use other varieties).

Directions

Start boiling the rice in a pot as per the directions on the particular rice you plan to use. By the time you are done chopping and washing all the veggies, your rice will be done. I add some coconut milk to it about part way through sometimes, but this is only optional and adds some nice aroma/flavour. Stir occasionally, I usually start stirring when I’m mid-way through crying over the onion. It’s a good break.

Slice your garlic cloves as small as you can get them. When I’m lazy, I leave them in chunks. I find in this recipe, that the garlic cooks to the point that the flavour does not cause any dreaded bad breath — yippee.

Cut the ends from the onion and then cut in half length-wise (opposite to how you might cut it to get rings). Peel the outer-layer off, place the flat side down and slice short-wise (you want half rings) into pieces that are about as wide as your pinky finger. Pull layers apart.

Now for the chunk of ginger. If you are lazy, just rinse and use a peeler to peel into small pieces. When it gets too small to handle, cut the rest into chunks with your knife. You may peel the ginger if you like, but I find that this is not always necessary.

Keep your peeler at hand and peel your carrot into long curly peels after washing/peeling off the outer layer. This is way easier than trying to cut into nice long strips.

In a non-stick wok, I use an anodized one from JCPenney that I got on sale for $12.00, place the above four ingredients with the coconut oil and turn your stove to simmer. While waiting for the onions to start getting soft add the optional Korean black bean paste (about a finger tip worth) and spritz the wok with your Braggs Liquid Aminos. Move the contents of your wok around every few minutes. If you find the wok getting smokey, add a few spritzes of water, some vegan low-sodium broth, more coconut oil, or a spritz of coconut milk, depending on how low-fat you want your meal.

Wash and clean your oyster mushrooms. Slice the oyster mushroom leaves into long strips (about a pinky finger wide) and add to the wok.

Wash and seperate the baby bok choi. Slice any large leaves in half length-wise. Turn up the heat just before adding these, although they cook fast, so add them to the pan when everything else is almost done (slightly clear onions is a good indicator). When the bok choi begins to wilt, you are done.

Place your rice onto plates and put your stir-fry over them.

Alterations to the ingredients that I like:

Different varieties of seaweed instead of bok choi or dried versions sprinkled on top.

Kale or Swiss chard (add sooner than the bok choi, they take longer to cook).

Peanut Butter (about the size of a lime) with Thai sweet chili sauce (about the size of a cherry tomato) mixed together makes a nice asian inspired sauce to add to stir-fry or even lentils.

Subsitute parsnip for the carrot.

DESSERT

Ingredients

2 or 3 Plantains, black on the outside so they are sweet

sugar, organic certified vegan varieties

Vegan whipped cream, optional

Directions

Peel and slice the Plantain lengthwise. Put onto a small non-stick oven cookie sheet (either with or without a small amount of coconut oil, depends how non-stick your pan is). Sprinkle with sugar and place into a 300 F oven (even a toaster oven works) until soft. Prick with a fork after about 15 minutes, then every few minutes after that to check if done. When done, arrange on plates with vegan whipped cream (like the one I got from Little Lads Basket) or eat straight. If you cannot find plaintain, a banana should work, although I’ve never tried this with a banana. Oh, if you don’t like using sugar, agave syrup and maple syrup are nice alternatives to drizzle on after baking.

Hope everyone has a lovely Valentine’s Day; we know we’re going to! :)

February 11, 2007 at 3:43 am 4 comments

Best Ideas of 2006? Super Recycling!

Business Week has come out with their 2006 perspective lists of the best and worst leaders, products, and ideas.

Importantly, “super recycling“, something we are big fans of here at ecoaesthete, is among the best ideas.  The article acclaims carpet maker Interface Inc., which uses reclaimed materials in its carpet tiles’ vinyl backing.  As they rather obviously conclude,”Super recycling is super-friendly to the environment.”

December 9, 2006 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment

A Crisp Idea

shamsCrispina Fuschia Inc. was started by Crispina FFrench in 1987 while she was at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston when she began making ragamuffins (little critter stuffed animals) from old sweaters.

Today, Crispina Fuschia Inc. has expended their range to make a wide selection pillows, shams, coverlets, blankets, and rugs from recycled sweaters. This summer they have begun to move their new studio (well it is an old church) in Pittsfield, MA.

October 9, 2006 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

Offseting Carbon Emissions

“Carbon offsets are an excellent way to manage emissions that we cannot easily or otherwise reduce ourselves”

Professor Diana Liverman
Director, Oxford University Environmental Change Institute

Offsetting your carbon emissions means paying someone to balance your production of CO2 by reducing CO2 in the atmosphere by an amount equivalent to your activities.

Climate Care (CC) is one company that offer offsets for such driving, flying, and homes. Their web-calculators will calculate CO2 Tonnes emitted by a given activity. All you have to do is enter a few parameters. A round-trip flight from London Heathrow to NY JFK emits 1.54 Tonnes of CO2 — a cost of only £11.55.   A petrol fueled car that gets 35 mpg emits 3.00 Tonnes of CO2 every 10,000 miles; the cost to offset is be £22.50.
How exactly do they offset your emmsions?

Where is this carbon sequestered?

Easy!  CC invests in projects across the world that reduce the amount of carbon that include renewable energy, energy efficiency, and forest restoration.  A third party does an assessment of the CO2 emissions pre- and post-project in order to calculate the reduction in CO2 acquired.

One such project is Lighting up Education in Kazakhstan, where CC provids the cost of compact fluorescent lamps that are being distributed to school children during workshops on climate change.  These lightbulbs are 5 x more efficient; the official report on the actual CO2 reduction is being done by The Climate Change Coordination Centre of Kazakhstan.  Other projects can be found here.

The company also offers services for Businesses — the Guardian Newspaper offsets some 700 tonnes of CO2 annually — and a range of gifts – £110.00 for offset emissions covering 150 guests and the couples honeymoon flights, equivalent to 14.5 tones of CO2.

October 9, 2006 at 1:02 am 1 comment

Organic in Oxford

There was a well-supported stall in Oxford publicising various organic products, from Green & Black’s chocolate to Grove Fresh organic juices. With lots of free samples!

A bright leaflet from Grove Fresh nicely summarises the case for organic foods…

  • Keep chemicals off your plate; When you choose organic, you avoid harmful pesticides and other toxins.
  • Protect future generations; Organic foods are better for children whose developing bodies are vulnerable to pesticides in food.
  • Great taste; Food that’s been grown in organically nourished soil is packed with nutrients and bursts with flavour.
  • Protect water quality; Organic farming does not pollute water resources with pesticides, a problem now affecting water from coast to coast.
  • Save energy; By using natural fertilizers, organic farmers save the resources that are wasted in the energy-intensive manufacture of synthetic fertilizers.
  • Promote biodiversity; By rotating crops and replenishing the soil, organic farming creates a balanced environment that allows all forms of life to flourish.
  • Prevent soil erosion; By caring for the health of the soil, organic farming prevents topsoil erosion, a serious downside of conventional farming.
  • Help small farmers; Buying organic supports the small, family farmers that make up a large percentage of organic food producers.
  • Protect farm worker health; Organic farm practices prevent farmers from being exposed to chemicals that put their health at risk.
  • Support a true economy; Conventional farming may seem less expensive, but it hides the future costs of environmental cleanup.

September 5, 2006 at 6:56 pm 2 comments

MIT’s Energy Research Council

More MIT news. (Guess you can tell where we went to school now.)

Pres. Hockfield has declared war on the Earth.  Or rather, she’s launched the school’s Energy Research Council, which in a Manhattan Project-style effort, aims to develop new technologies to address many of the World’s problems.

Wired News covers a range of research projects, ranging from solar cells made from spinach to algae-based biofuels.

The whole thing is co-chaired by ex-DoE Undersecretary and MIT Prof. Ernie Moniz.

August 13, 2006 at 2:51 am Leave a comment

Architects design a living home

Those crazy guys from MIT’s Media Lab, more specifically Mitchell Joachim et al. of the Smart Cities Group, have conceived the Fab Tree Hab — a home that doesn’t just use “green” design; rather it is itself a living ecosystem.

The basic framework of the house would be created using a gardening method known as pleaching, in which young trees are woven together into a shape such as an archway, lattice, or screen and then encouraged to maintain that form over the years. The goal was to develop a method to grow homes from native seeds. This enables these new local dwellings to be a part of an absolutely green community.

Joachim’s studio Archinode has details of more of his interesting projects.

Summary article available on Technology Review.

August 2, 2006 at 5:06 pm 1 comment

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