1:18 pm - Fri, Sep 28, 2012
2 notes

Want to attend the Austin South-by-Southwest Eco Conference for free? Go here and apply for the grant program.

12:21 pm - Tue, Nov 8, 2011
We need a LOT of "Propane, and Propane Accessories" for the Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off. Sun, Nov 13th. Round Rock, Texas
Check out our Green Fire Chili website.

We need a LOT of "Propane, and Propane Accessories" for the Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off. Sun, Nov 13th. Round Rock, Texas

Check out our Green Fire Chili website.

1:53 pm - Sun, Jun 26, 2011
1 note

Everything You Need to Know About Recycling Plastic in Austin

We are lucky to live in Austin which has one of the nations newest single stream recycling facility. The city recycles ALL the plastics explained below- #1-#7.

There are many ways to avoid the plastic altogether. Carrying your own water bottle is a good start. Choose BPA-free. These are your typical cycling water bottles or the fancier hard plastic bottles. The aluminum bottles are now light enough to carry and keep water tasting fresh. I’m hoping the Vyykn water system is available soon.

If you are traveling by plane carry your empty bottle through security and fill it up at one of the restaurants if possible. The water fountains are chancy since sick people tend to be really dehydrated, if you get my drift.

If you do need something to drink and are stuck without your bottle what should you purchase? Soda in cans, tea in glass, boxed juice or water in plastic?

According to the adviser for Sweet Leaf Tea you should choose water in plastic bottles. Why? The water bottles are very light to transport so glass is out. You can not recycle the boxed drinks. Cans can not be refilled and easily carried. Sugar is expensive to transport so sweet sodas are out. Water in plastic bottles wins. Plus it is usually cheaper unless you are in a foreign country.

And please, please, please avoid Styrofoam. Refuse it for on-the-go beverages. There is always another place to stop.

The plastic grocery bags, produce bags, dry cleaning bags, bread bags etc can be taken back to the grocery store or to a dry cleaners for recycling. But why did you forget to put your reusable bag in the car? I’ve been known to hand carry everything (several trips) for forgetting my bags. I don’t forget very often.

From the City of Austin website:

Recyclable Plastic to Put in Your Recycle Cart

NOTE: Rinse all food waste from recyclables before placing in recycling cart.

  • Water, soda and juice bottles
  • Milk jugs
  • Shampoo, conditioner & liquid soap bottles
  • Detergent bottles
  • Bleach and all-purpose cleaner bottles
  • Margarine tubs, yogurt containers
  • Empty medicine bottles
  • Clean frozen food trays
  • Plastic lids from bottles
  • Plastic takeout containers
  • Plastic produce containers
  • Plastic disposable plates, cups and utensils (check for recycling number)

Do NOT Put These Plastics in Your Recycling Cart

  • Plastic bags and packaging
  • Styrofoam
  • Toys
  • Motor Oil Bottles

Here is what you are throwing away:

1. Polyethylene terephthalate PET or PETE - soft drink, water and beer bottles, mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; ovenproof food trays.Most curbside recycling programs take these plastics.

 2. High density polyethylene HDPE - milk jugs, juice bottles, bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles, some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners. Most curbside recycling programs take these.

 3. Vinyl V or PVC - window cleaner and detergent bottles, some shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping. These are rarely recycled but are accepted by some plastic lumber makers.

 4. Low density polyethylene LDPE - squeezable bottles, bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags, tote bags, clothing, furniture, carpet. Some curbside programs accept this type of product, some don’t. Plastic bags can often be returned to retailers (grocery stores & Walmart).

 5. Polypropylene PP - some yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, medicine bottles. Some curbside programs take these products, some don’t.

6. Polystyrene PS – disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, CD cases. Some curbside programs take these but more likely they won’t. Styrofoam egg cartons and meat trays are often accepted by grocery stores.

 7. Miscellaneous - thicker plastics such as three and five gallon water bottles, sunglasses, DVDs, ipod and computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers, nylon. Usually not taken by curbside programs.

11:17 am - Tue, Feb 15, 2011
5 notes

Chicken Fried Seitan, Spinach & Sweet Potato-Carrot-Turnip Mash

You will need homemade Seitan. I know what you are thinking, whaaaa? It’s yummy and can be used for a lot of meals. BBQ Seitan is another great use of seitan.

Quick Seitan
(Makes 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds or 2 to 2-1/2 cups)

This is the basic recipe for gluten.

2 cups gluten flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/4 cups vegetable stock
3 Tablespoons lite tamari or soy sauce
1-3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (optional)

Add garlic powder and ginger to flour and stir. Mix liquids together and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix vigorously with a fork. When it forms a stiff dough knead it 10 to 15 times.

Let the dough rest 2 to 5 minutes, then knead it a few more times. Let it rest another 15 minutes before proceeding.

Cut gluten into 6 to 8 pieces and stretch into thin cutlets. Simmer in broth for 30 to 60 minutes.

4 cups water
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
3-inch piece of kombu (a type of seaweed)
3-4 slices ginger (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring broth to a boil. Add cutlets one at a time. Reduce heat to barely simmer when saucepan is covered. Seitan may be used, refrigerated, or frozen at this point.

On to the Chicken Fried part:

1 cup flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt & pepper
1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons spicy Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons baking powder
3 cups panko
Vegetable oil for frying
1 pound seitan, sliced into cutlets

In a large bowl mix flour, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and garlic. In a medium bowl mix together water and mustard. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients. Add baking powder and panko to the dry mixture.

Heat 1/2 inch oil over high heat. Coat seitan with the mustard mixture then dredge in the flour mixture.

Notice that I made half of this recipe.

Fry on each side two minutes till crusty and golden brown (optional: top with gravy)

Steam sweet potatoes, carrots and turnips. Mash with butter, milk and salt & pepper. Dill is good in this too.

Saute the spinach in olive oil with garlic, salt & pepper. Toss with some red wine vinegar.

Plate and enjoy. The veggies are from Johnson’s Backyard Garden in Austin.

Grit Restaurant Gravy

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or vegan margarine
3/4 cup whole wheat or white flour
3/4 cup flaked nutritional yeast
2 cups regular or soy milk
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 3/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Melt butter or margarine. Stir in flour and yeast ultil blended and continue to heat roux until mixture begins to bubble. Whisk continuously for 4 minutes.

Continue rapid, thorough whisking and add milk gradually. The mixture will quickly become thick and custard-like. Combine soy sauce, water, and Worcestershire sauce and add to gravy gradually. Blend well after each addition and do not add so rapidly that gravy gets thin. If the gravy is too thin, continued cooking will thicken it.

9:35 pm - Sun, Feb 6, 2011
2 notes

Results of the Healthy Super Bowl Snacks

Caramelized Onion Dip

Cooking begins 24 hrs before the big game.

45 minutes later

Mix with Greek Yogurt & Spices (I used non-fat yogurt)

Next Day— Chip Taste on Baked Lays……. amazing

Vegan Queso with Cilantro Black Beans and Sliced Avocados (Mag Mud)

This recipe came together so fast I didn’t take cooking photos.

Superbowl 45 ended with the Packers & snacks winning. Both dips had big flavors and the addition of beans in the queso made it into a warm & filling meal. Both recipes are in the previous posts.

4:39 pm - Fri, Feb 4, 2011

Veggie Pickup In the Snow With a Little Help From a Friend

Learn your veggies- click photo to find out what is in season.

9:51 am
2 notes

Superbowl Snack #3 - Enlightened Old-School Onion Dip

USA Today published a recipe this week for an Onion Dip that sounds perfect for a Superbowl party. Since I will be making this the first time I can’t review it yet. It is suggested that you make this the day before the game so all the flavors meld together.

I would try it today but I don’t want to fill up on chips especially since I have a box of veggies arriving at 3pm. The strategy is to fill up on super healthy food and vitamins then devote 80% of my Superbowl day to snacks. That’s moderation, right?

I’m still deciding whether to buy traditional chips or baked chips to go with the Onion Dip. I’m a healthy eater but I don’t believe the majority of us who grew up with Ding Dongs and Snowballs want to abandon their childhood memories. Put on some pre-game 80’s or 90’s music and “test” the dip before your guests arrive.

Enlightened Old-School Onion Dip

USA Today

2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large sweet or yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
16 ounces plain Greek-style yogurt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional but nice)

  1. Over medium-high heat, place oil in a cast-iron (or equally heavy) skillet and add the sliced onion. Using tongs, turn onion to coat with oil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring regularly, until onion is jam-like and caramelized, about 45 minutes. Be careful not to burn, as it will yield a bitter result.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and transfer onion jam to a small bowl. Cover and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  3. Transfer chilled onion jam to the bowl of a food processor and puree. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
  4. Serve with your favorite chip, cracker or dip-able vegetables. Flavors mellow and deepen with time; dip keeps for three days in the fridge. Makes a scant 3 cups.
3:18 pm - Thu, Feb 3, 2011
1 note

Superbowl Snack #2 - Vegan Queso

I love queso and grew up eating tons of the Velveeta & RoTel variety. I would always eat too much, which is the point, but I would feel sickish for the rest of the day.

When I went on the 21 day Vegan diet this recipe was discovered to eat during the Texas vs TexasTech game. Truthfully It was not my idea to eat a vegan diet and I was very skeptical about vegan queso.  But I was converted. It tasted fantastic AND I could eat as much as I wanted and not feel sick. Of course eating a bag of tortilla chips is not a great idea.

Recently I ran into the owners of The World’s First Vegan Queso at Whole Foods who were passing at samples for their off-the-shelf vegan queso. It tasted almost exactly like my recipe. Of course I bought some since I can’t resist supporting local business owners.

I would really recommend that you give this recipe a try. It only takes 10 minutes to prepare. You can make a batch during one of the extended Superbowl commercial breaks.

It’s also good if you place black bean in the bowl first, cover it with queso and top with sliced avocados and pico de gallo. Magnolia Cafe in Austin calls this Mag Mud.

Vegan Queso
    1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    1/4 cup flour
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 teaspoon salt
    dash garlic powder
    1 cup water
    2 tablespoons vegan margarine (or regular margarine/butter)
    1 1/2 cups salsa or 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can RoTel tomatoes
    tortilla chips, for dipping   

1. In a saucepan combine dry ingredients (nutritional yeast, flour, paprika, salt, and garlic powder). 

2. Whisk in water. Continue to whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in margarine until melted, then stir in salsa.

4. Return to low heat and cook just long enough for salsa to heat. Pour over chips and eat like nachos or use as a dip.

Mag Mud

1. Place black beans in the bowl.

2. Pour the vegan queso over the beans.

3. Top with sliced avocados & pico de gallo.

10:30 am - Wed, Feb 2, 2011
5 notes

Superbowl Snack #1 - Quorn Chick’n Nuggets

I’ve been a pescetarian for 5 years but lean more toward being a vegan since I don’t like milk products or eggs nor enjoy excessive amounts of cheese or butter. When I do eat fish I prefer to choose the smallest fillet possible.

I favor fresh seasonal vegetables, beans, homemade seitan and rice. I don’t eat a lot of fruit, primarily bananas or fruit in soy yogurt. I do have a weakness for all things that are crunchy such as nuts, popcorn, tortilla chips and unfortunately processed snacks.

I hate coffee and soda but drink one glass of ice tea a day plus wheat beer or wine. Strangely, I drink most of my water at night between bedtime and waking up unless I’m exercising.

I discovered Quorn at the same time I stopped eating meat. I was looking for an alternative to put in tacos. Soon after I started buying Quorn it became available in mainstream grocery stores and reduced my dependency on Whole Foods.

What intregued me about Quorn was that it is not a typical meat substitute type food. It is not tofu, seitan or tempah. Nor is it made from rice, soy or nuts. It simply is a type of fungi called mycoprotein which is similar to mushrooms. It was really the texture that won me over although the taste was also great from the beginning.

I thought Quorn was vegan but that’s not the case. They use a small amount of egg whites and don’t claim to be organic, just non-GMO. Farmers have a hard time getting certified as organic. Unfortunately it is somewhat bureaucratic and can cost $2,000+ dollars a year to maintain the certification.

I primarily eat the Quorn Grounds in tacos or chili. The meatless meatballs are also a staple as well as the Gruyere Cutlets which have a reasonable amount a cheese but a lot of calories. So the cutlets are eaten as a special occasion food.

As you’re thinking about your Superbowl snacks this week I suggest trying the Quorn Chick’n Nuggets along with Vegan Queso….. I’ll talk more about the queso later this week.

1:06 pm - Tue, Jan 25, 2011
5 notes

We Eat “Swedes” in Austin

The veggie box this week includes rutabagas, also known as “swedes”, with the leafy green tops still attached. They are a major food of Sweden and Norway and are often mashed with milk butter and cream or added to soup. They also contain a lot of vitamin C and fiber.

They look like a potatoes’ wild cousin but they can be prepared the same way including being steamed, boiled, mashed, sautéed, baked, or roasted. But can they be turned into hash browns?

Peel, grate, heat a skillet with oil, dump them in and press. Then flip and cook the other side till the patty turns golden brown. This works really well for potato hash browns which is my weekly staple.

It turns out that potatoes contain a lot of moisture which help them stick together as they are being cooked. The rutabaga is dryer and does not stick together but with a little salt and pepper the “swede” hash browns tasted great.

Adjustments to consider next time could be to combine grated potatoes with the rutabaga and to freeze them first. This could help the patties to stick together.

There is one more rutabaga in the box who’s fate is yet-to-be-determined. Same goes for the leafy green tops. I was told that rutabagas scream when pulled from the earth. I’m not convinced.

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