Eating Local – Baltimore Breakfast

We’re not natives to Baltimore (actually, our kids are, which is sort of weird to think about), but we’ve fallen in love with a lot about it. It’s a scrappy city with a lot of character and a lot of great food. We like to eat local when we can, and Baltimore gives us a lot of great healthy options.

First up is Zeke’s Coffee, a small batch Baltimore coffee roaster. Zeke’s is everywhere here, and it’s not just because they’re local. They roast a mean bean, they source sustainably, and they make a whole bunch of different varieties to cater to individual tastes. This week we were feeling like the world needed some peace, love, and understanding, so we went with the Hippie Blend. Neither of us knows enough to speak super knowledgeably about taste, but we can say with confidence that Twin Peaks‘s Agent Dale Cooper would think it was a damn fine cup of coffee.

Next up, Michele’s Granola. In keeping with the hippie theme, we went with Ginger Hemp flavor. Michele’s is a local granola maker based in Timonium, just north of Baltimore. Their products are eco-friendly and healthy delicious, and come in a pretty wide variety of flavors. Every one we’ve had has been a crunchy bit of delight to add to some yogurt in the morning, or even just on its own as a snack.

Any local food that you enjoy, either local to Baltimore or wherever you are? Let us know!

Vegan Shepherds’ Pie with Cheesy Potatoes

We’re not shepherds, but we have always been fans of their pie. Both of us grew up liking it quite a bit, but we hadn’t figured out a good healthy vegan version until now.

The kids tried it last night, if by tried it you mean didn’t try it almost at all. Watson took his requisite two bites and Vivi just made a huge mess. Sometimes it’s harder than other times to remember how rewarding parenting is. But we ate it happily with a light salad, and it was healthy and absolutely delicious.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil 

1 medium onion, diced

2 large carrots, sliced

1 pkg mushrooms, sliced (a good meaty mushroom is best but use what you’ve got)

1 pkg soy crumbles

1 6 oz container tomato paste (we used more because I always forget about half used tomato paste cans in the fridge)

2 1/2 cups veggie stock

1/2 bottle dark beer

3-4 medium potatoes

1/2 cup nut cheese (we used kite hill almond milk ricotta)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions and carrots until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and soy crumbles and sauté for another 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, 2 cups of the vegetable stock, and beer. Let this mixture cook until thick and saucy.

In the meantime, boil the potatoes until they’re soft and mashable. Drain and transfer into a bowl and mash them. Mix in the nut cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup vegetable stock.

Put the mushroom mixture in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, and spread the potatoes on top. Bake for 30 minutes or so. The potatoes on top should be starting to brown. Enjoy!

Losing Weight While Having Kids

We’ve heard a lot from parents who have packed on some extra pounds after having kids. We were both determined not to fall into that trap, and not to let having kids be an excuse to not be healthy. And you know what? It’s worked! Let me go through a few of the things we’ve done to manage our much busier lives in a smarter, healthier way. Note: This certainly is not to say that losing weight is the only, or even the primary component to being healthy. It’s one of the things we needed to do for ourselves, but please consult your doctor before attempting any kind of methodical weight loss program.

One of the tools we use is the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale. It automatically syncs weight and body fat percentage to the Fitbit app, so we can have a real-time record of our progress. Some people definitely don’t do well with daily weigh-ins, since weight can fluctuate in the short term, and those fluctuations can get discouraging. For both of us, though, there’s something very rewarding in looking at a graph charting our weight over the course of 3+ years and seeing a fairly steady decline (pregnancies excepted, of course, for both mom and dad). More than just keeping track of our weight, looking critically at this data helps us see patterns we might otherwise not be aware of. Does our weight tend to go up around a certain time of the week? A certain time of the year? What can we do to combat that?

Above is Tim’s weight for the last 4 years or so, with the birth of each child noted. It’s easy to see the weight gain during each pregnancy as well as the weight loss after each birth.

So how did we do it? We lost some weight after each child was born, but as you can see above, we really kicked into high gear over the last 8 months. The answer is 90% healthy diet, 10% exercise. When we say healthy diet, we mean four things:

1 Portion control
2 No added sugar
3 No dairy, with small exceptions
4 Tons of vegetables

Let’s take these one at a time. First, portion control. One way to eat healthy is just to eat less, as long as you’re still getting what your body needs, but it’s way easier than anybody realizes to just eat a whole lot of food in a sitting. We’ve been combating this by planning meals pretty rigorously, and by not keeping snacks around, especially at work. If you know you’re a person who can’t have a big barrel of hard pretzels from Target sitting on your desk without eating the whole thing in an embarrassingly short time, then maybe just don’t get the big barrel of hard pretzels from Target in the first place, to use a totally random example that’s not at all derived from real life.

Second, no added sugar. We’re not religious about this particular rule, but as a healthy guiding principle it’s served us well. A lot of stuff is really delicious without making it sweeter than it needs to be. One side effect of lowering the amount of sugar we put in stuff is that we tend to want less sugar in stuff. The habit of not eating so much sugar is affecting our tastes so that we don’t actually want as much sugar. There’s a part of us that’s a little sad that a donut doesn’t taste as good as it used to, but on the other hand, if that means we eat fewer donuts, then it’s a win.

Third, little to no dairy. When Vivi was little we thought she had a lactose intolerance, so we cut dairy out of our diets (it was easier to just not have it in the house at all, rather than just have one or two of us cut it out). We learned to take our coffee black. Once we found out that Vivi didn’t have lactose intolerance, we had gotten used to a scaled down reliance on dairy, and it’s helped us like crazy. There was a whole lot of less healthy fat we were getting through cream, butter, milk, and cheese, and which we generally don’t miss. We’ll still allow ourselves some indulgences now and then, like a small latte or some feta crumbles on a salad, but this is another one which, once we cut it out, we’ve been shocked by how little we’ve missed it. We eat mostly vegan now, and no longer relying on dairy has really opened us up to a lot of different techniques and ingredients that we never would have considered before.

Fourth, tons of vegetables. This one mostly speaks for itself, but I want to emphasize one thing: even if you think you don’t like some vegetables, give them another try. Cook them a different way. See if you can figure out a way to love them. We used to loathe broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, until we discovered the heathy, life-changing magic of roasting. Now when one of those comes in our Hungry Harvest, we practically jump for joy. We could eat crispy brussels sprouts and cauliflower tacos all damn day.

There are a couple of other little things we do around the edges. We’re vegetarian, which we feel helps us, but isn’t necessarily for everybody. We still have eggs and fish occasionally, but by and large our diet is plant-based and mostly vegan. We try generally to stay away from gluten, not because there’s anything wrong with gluten for us, but because foods with gluten tend to be more calorie dense, so it’s a bit easier for us to have a blanket rule.

Is there anything you’ve done to successfully lose weight since having kids? Let us know!

The Stories We Tell

This article from Eater is a really illuminating look at the ways that food culture tends to erase the credit and long history of the foods we eat and prize. We don’t want to summarize it too much, because we’d rather you go and read it. But it’s important to know that the shameful treatment of minorities in this country continues in ways both big and small, and we need to be mindful of how the stories we tell can erase their true authors.

This is a really important thing to keep in mind in parenting, both in how we talk to our kids about the world, and in how we talk to our kids about themselves and their accomplishments. Nobody gets by purely on their own initiative, and we can gain a deeper, richer understanding of the world by having a real understanding of the shoulders we had to stand on to get where we are.

Proper attribution doesn’t diminish what good we’ve put into the world. It honors others for helping make us able to do that good work. We needn’t fashion ourselves and our kids as solitary geniuses for our lives and our work to have value. Understanding our place in our society is as important as anything to raising compassionate, caring, kind children.

Inside Out Falafel Wraps

We, like all right-thinking people in this world, love falafel. But we don’t always have time to make it. One workaround we’ve found is to make falafel-spiced patties with chickpea flour. They’re like tiny healthy savory pancakes. They’re not as crunchy, but they’re an 85% solution when we’re craving falafel and don’t have the time or energy to fill a pot with oil and deep fry some (and spatter the stove, and ourselves, with hot oil).

Having used that trick a number of times, we decided to branch out. Since we could make chickpea pancakes, more or less, could we make something closer to chickpea crepes? Could we make ourselves a wrap with falafel toppings on the inside, with a falafel-tasting chickpea crepe holding it all together?

The answer, as it turns out, was an emphatic yes, though it took us a couple of tries to get it just right. So now, without any further ado, we present our brand new vegan, gluten free Inside Out Falafel Wraps!

Ingredients:

Chickpea crepes:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chickpea flour
1 1/2 cups water
Large handful of parsley, finely chopped
1 Tsp cumin
1/2 Tsp ras al hanout
1/2 Tsp salt (or to taste)
Juice of one half lemon

Tahini sauce:
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of one lemon
1 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tsp salt (or to taste)
Water as needed

Filling:
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Cucumbers, sliced

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Pour a thin layer of the chickpea batter into the pan and let cook until set. Carefully flip it over and cook until done on both sides. The amounts given above made us 5 chickpea crepes.

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In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic powder, and salt until combined. This will be very thick. Slowly add water, whisking continuously, until the desired consistency is reached. We wanted ours to be thick and spreadable. Spread the tahini sauce on the finished crepes.

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Divide the tomato and cucumber among the 5 crepes, lining it all up in the middle. If you prefer different toppings (like shredded carrots, greens, beets, fruit, honey, etc.), go nuts.

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All that’s left is to wrap it up!

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We wrapped ours up in foil, since we needed to store them to take them along for lunches through the week.

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Happy weekend

Since it’s Friday we thought we’d share a couple links to what healthy food we’re cooking up this weekend, a fun article, and a recipe for a favorite cocktail!

This looks like the perfect Saturday breakfast as we head towards fall and start to see more fresh apples headed our way.

We saw these tacos and knew that they had to happen.

We’ve been struggling with too much zucchini this summer and this seems like the ideal solution.

As a fruitcake lover, this kind of delights me.

As for the cocktail, we did sort of a cross between a Bee’s Knees and a Sidecar, so maybe we could call it…Motorcycle Hornet? We’ll work on it. Anyway, we wanted to use some of our local Baltimore liquors for this one, and it turned out pretty well!

Ingredients:

1.5 oz Shot Tower Gin

1.5 oz Sloop Betty Honey Vodka

1.5 oz Triple Sec

Juice of 1 lemon

Superfine sugar

Directions:

Full shaker halfway with ice. Combine ingredients and shake well. Strain into martini glasses rimmed with superfine sugar. Treat yo’self.

Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Fig Tart

Hungry Harvest recently offered us some fresh figs, and we leapt at the opportunity to try some fun stuff with healthy ingredients we don’t use very much. We have a fig tree in the back yard, and this year it started flourishing, but it’s still not yielding much fruit. When it does, you can be sure we’ll be making some of these vegan, gluten free chocolate fig tarts, because they’re delicious.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond meal

1 Tbsp Coconut oil

1/2 Tbsp maple syrup 

A pinch of salt

1 cup fresh figs, chopped finely

1/4 cup coconut sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup coconut milk

Directions:

Mix almond meal, coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt until they start to stick together and look like wet sand. Press into a mini tart pan. Bake at 350° F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Place figs, sugar, and lemon juice in a pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved and fruit has a thick jammy consistency.

Heat coconut milk in the microwave until bubbling hot. Pour over chocolate chips. Let sit for a minute before stirring.

To assemble: scoop jam into cool tart shell, reserving a tablespoon or so. Spread chocolate ganache over jam. Place sliced fresh figs on top. Mix reserved jam with a bit of water and brush on top of sliced figs. 

A Favorite Book

The news can be very scary even for us as adults, and we know that our kids hear some scary things on the radio or overhear us talking. We want to make sure that they understand what they hear and aren’t scared but can learn from what’s happening. We want to protect them, but we don’t want to shelter them.

What happened in Charlottesville over the weekend was terrible, and quite honestly terrifying for a number of reasons. The continuing existence and ascendance of white supremacy is a stain on our country, and one we can only attempt to wash away with love and acceptance and inclusion. It’s important for us to instill in our kids a sense of kindness and justice. As parents we worry about the world they’re growing up in, and we can’t help make it better by hiding it from them and them from it.

It can be hard to explain these concepts to adults, let alone to sweet little children who have never known anything but love. We’ve been reading a book recently to the kids Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester and Karen Barbour. We like that it talks about race in a way our children can understand. It addresses not only the meanness of racism, but how little it makes sense. Even Watson hears us explaining that some people think they’re better than other people because of the color of their skin and just shakes his head.

There’s only so much we can do, and someday our kids are going to go out in the world and make their own choices. Teaching them the value of other people of every race, religion, gender, and nationality is important to us because we hope to see them carry kindness, love, compassion, and justice with them out into the world.

Race

Eating Local – Pepper and Lobster Mushroom Sandwich with Pecan Pesto

Parenting can be exhausting. You always want to expose the kids to new things, new experiences, and aid their development through healthy and edifying consumption, but sometimes you also just want them to go to sleep so you can have a glass of wine and stuff your face with delicious food. This recipe makes use of both of those impulses. On the parenting side, we took our kids to experience the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Baltimore Farmers’ Market. On the food side, behold.

The other day we showed you some pictures from our trip to the Baltimore Farmers’ Market. With the food we bought there, we put together a delicious vegan (not gluten free this time, but easily adaptable) meal, along with a wonderful local wine. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 large bell peppers
1 basket of lobster mushrooms
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup basil, packed loosely
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Bread of your choice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F. Chop peppers roughly and spray them and mushrooms with cooking oil of your choice. Place on a lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, to make pesto, pulse the basil and pecans in a food processor until finely chopped. Slowly add the oil in a thin stream as the food processor runs until everything is incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Toast four pieces of bread, spread some pesto on each, and split the mushrooms and peppers in two portions to make two sandwiches. Serve with a refreshing local Vidal Blanc.