Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

I made these babies the first time last year right before Halloween using a recipe I found online. After making it a few times, I've tweaked it to what I consider perfection. Since there have been a few requests for the recipe, I decided to post it here. Enjoy!

1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1 tsp. vinegar
1 1/4 cups Cake Flour (I use King Arthur's Unbleached Cake Flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add muffin liners to a muffin pan.

2) Add vinegar to the soy milk to allow it to curdle.

3) Sift together all the dry ingredients excluding the brown sugar: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Add brown sugar and mix well with other dry ingredients.

4) Add to the dry ingredients: oil, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and curdled soy or almond milk. Mix on low until just combined, making sure to scrape the bowl once. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Cook in oven for 15 - 18 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Frost cupcakes with maple frosting after the cupcakes have cooled completely.

Maple Frosting
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup margarine (I use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1/2 cup shortening
2 Tbsp. almond milk or soy milk
1 1/2 tsp. maple extract

Mix together the extract, margarine, and shortening until creamy. Add powdered sugar and milk in batches, alternating between the two of them until well mixed. Scrape bowl a few times between mixing. Once well combined, fluff frosting by mixing for 5 - 7 minutes. Frost cupcakes once they are completely cooled.

Cupcake on Foodista

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Magical Pink Salt, Getting Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies

A common question that people often ask is, "How do you get them to eat that?" Typically it is in reference to vegetables, but not always. Our kids often eat all their broccoli or cauliflower first and ask for more before eating anything else. No we are not miracle workers. There are a few simple ways you can achieve the same willingness to try new things, and often new foods will become well liked.

1) Eat the vegetables yourself. It sounds silly, but kids notice what you eat. I put this one first, because I think it is the most important. You are your child's model. Every time I sit down at the table to eat, I start with my veggies because they pick up on that. Typically a child will eat what they like best first, so when they see you chow down all your broccoli first it makes an impression on them. I've actually watched my son observe me doing that, and then pick up whatever I was eating, finish it off, and ask for more.

2) Try, try, try again. If they don't eat it, continue to offer it to them even if they leave it on their plate. Eventually they will try it. Trust me on this one. It may take 20 times, but you will break them down.

3) Never force them to eat more than a bite. Trying the food should be praised with a "nice job trying that" and then move on. Don't make a big deal about it, because if you do they will file it away as a way to push your buttons later or create a power struggle.

4) It's all in a name. Be creative with what you call the food. If they like dinosaurs, call broccoli dinosaur trees. Our kids eat roasted kale and spinach because we call them kale or spinach chips. What kid doesn't want to eat chips? Once we made polenta patties and my son wouldn't eat it. The next time I made it, when I presented it as a corn chip he ate three of them. Since my kids like broccoli, I called cauliflower "white broccoli." I'm not wild about being dishonest, so once they eat a new food and proclaim it edible, I always say, "this is also called X."

5) Special colors or pointing out brightly colored food, often makes something appealing. I recently bought unprocessed Himalayan pink salt, and used that as a motivator to try new things. Whenever they were reluctant and it was appropriate to add salt, I offered the "cool" pink salt. It worked like a charm. My son also really like the fact that he could grind it himself.

6) Try new things when they are really hungry. If they eat poorly at breakfast, try something new at lunch. Put out the new food first.

7) Grow your own vegetables and have your child help. Even if it is simply putting seeds in the ground, watering, or pulling up carrots. They really enjoy learning about where food comes and being a part of the process. You don't need to start a huge garden, just try one or two things that you'd like your child to learn to eat.

8) Have them help prepare the food. The first time our son had cauliflower he ate tons of it, because he helped break it up into smaller pieces.

These are what worked for us, and I am not claiming in any way to be an expert. The majority of these ideas came from books or ECFE. Right now my son is in a really picky stage, so we have to work harder to encourage him. My daughter is still at the "eats most anything" stage. We'll enjoy it while it lasts!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vegkins Halloween Party

This year, the vegan/vegetarian family group which I lead, Vegkins, had a Halloween party. We decided to make it a potluck to take the burden off of organizers to prepare and purchase all the food. That worked out really well using evite's potluck option, so everyone could select a variety of dishes to bring.

The Animal Rights Coalition graciously paid for the room rental at a local park's recreational room. A couple parents chipped in to pay for the rest of the items (prizes, dinner ware, crafts, and treats). Overall it was a big hit.

The turn out was really great, and the families had a nice time. If you are interested in planning a vegan Halloween party in your city, I recommend contacting local animal rights groups for help getting the word out and organizing.

Considering the success of this year's party, I know we'll be having another one next year.

Walnut Butter

Lately, I've been thinking about Omega's and getting them directly from the source as much as possible. I know walnuts are a source of them and have often wished there was pre-made walnut butter at one of the stores we frequent. It would probably be too ridiculously expensive, and after making it myself I've been contemplating making more of the nut butters we use. It was so ridiculously easy I wish that I'd discovered it earlier.

My new favorite lunch is a toasted pumpkin butter and walnut butter sandwich. It tastes like fall to me. Anyways, it is a big hit with the kiddos. Here is how you make it:

3 1/2 cups walnuts
1-3 Tbsp of Maple Syrup and/or Just Like Honey
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Roast the walnuts on an ungreased pan for 10 - 20 minutes. They will start to smell like a roasted nut, when it does take them out. Let them cool, then put them in a food processor and let it run for 3-5 minutes, stopping to scrape sides a few times. After it starts to look like a nut butter add the salt, maple syrup and/or Just Like Honey. I used equal parts maple syrup and Just Like Honey and just a dash of salt. Be careful with the salt it doesn't really need to be much more than a dash of salt. Of course, no sweetener is required, I just preferred it that way. Run processor another 2 -3 minutes to be sure it is mixed well. Put the walnut butter in a jar and keep it in the refrigerator.