Steamed Vegetable Potstickers (Lunar New Year)

In this week’s cooking class, we made vegetable potstickers to celebrate Lunar New Year! If you’re gluten-free, then I highly suggest referring to my previous post about homemade gluten-free vegan wonton wrappers. They were my favorite wrapper so far — way better than store bought. Since we do not have a gluten allergy this year, I was able to find egg-free and dairy-free wrappers at Lion, our local Asian Supermarket. We used a very simple vegetable filling, and when the students asked for the recipe, I told them to make it up as they go! All they needed was the wrappers.

Steamed Vegetable Potstickers

Ingredients

For the filling

  • potsticker, wonton, or dumpling wrappers
  • shredded veggies of choice — we used cabbage and carrots from this week’s CSA box, but you can also use scallions, mushrooms, sprouts, or any local in-season veggies!

For the dipping sauce

  • 1/2 cup organic soy sauce, coconut aminos, or liquid aminos
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar

Directions

1. Shred veggies in your hand shredder or pulse in your food processor until small pieces are cut. Set aside.

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Shredded Carrots

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Shredded Cabbage

2. Combine all the dipping sauce ingredients and mix well.

3. Place a wrapper on a flat surface, and fill the center with 1-2 tsp of shredded veggies. Top the veggies with 1 tsp of dipping sauce.

4. Dip your finger in water, and rub around the edge of the wrapper to help it seal.

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Adding the filling to the wrapper.

5. Seal the wrapper by folding it in half and pressing down on the edges with the sharp edges of a fork on both sides. Or, you can purchase an inexpensive tool from Daiso, the Japanese Dollar Store, and use it to press the edges of your wrapper together tightly.

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Wrapper folder from Daiso.

6. Place in a steamer basket, and steam for 5-7 minutes, depending on how full the steamer basket is. I use a regular pot and place a colander on top, then use a plate over the colander to keep the steam inside. Tip: lightly brush a layer of oil on the bottom and sides of the colander/steamer basket and between and in between each potsticker to prevent them from sticking together.

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Raw potstickers in the steamer basket with a light layer of oil in between to prevent sticking.

7. When potstickers are translucent and the edges are cooked throughout, remove them from the steamer. Briefly allow to cool, dip in dipping sauce, and enjoy!

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Steamed potstickers are ready when translucent and edges are cooked throughout.

Buffalo-Style Hummus by the No Meat Athlete

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Anne-Michelle harvesting the K/1 student garden plots.

This week’s K/1 cooking project took us outside to our classroom garden to harvest our green and purple lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, and mint that have been growing for a few weeks now. The perfect dipping sauce for raw veggies is hummus, but rather than teach the kids the same old basic hummus recipe, we decided to add a little fire to the sauce and made it a spicy buffalo hummus instead!

The recipe is from the book entitled No Meat Athlete by Matt Frazier, and the Buffalo Hummus Recipe can be found here.

We teach the students in three groups of 7-8, so we began our 30 minute cooking session by going out to the garden to harvest their little plots. Each student showed me which plot was theirs that they have been nourishing with water and compost and picking weeds, and we cut through many types of vegetables to bring back to class with us to eat in their raw state.

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Adding all of the ingredients (minus the hot sauce and cayenne) to a bowl, then combined.

I had all of the ingredients lined up on the table, and each student was able to measure out the spice, squeeze lemon, and we stirred it around in the bowl to combine.

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Added the mixed ingredients to the food processor.

I saved the hot sauce (Tabasco) and cayenne pepper for the very end. This step can easily be skipped by placing all the ingredients in the food processor, but with a group of kids the journey is more important than the destination. When they were satisfied with the combination, I added it to the Cuisinart and whirred it for about a minute.

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Placed a portion of the combined hummus back in a bowl, and then added the hot sauce and cayenne for the students who wanted it spicy!

I asked which students wanted it spicy and which did not. Surprisingly, it was about half and half, but eventually everyone tried the spicy and said “this isn’t spicy at all!” I was surprised to receive such a favorable reaction among Kinders and 1st graders, but you should have seen them eating up their lettuce and raw veggies! It’s amazing what kids will open themselves up to when you give them an appealing plate of healthy food.

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Our beautiful harvest! Green lettuce, purple lettuce, broccoli, and even a few innocent little snails.

We also talked about which body parts purple lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli could be good for, in order to circle back around with last week’s lesson about What the shape and color of produce tells us. They remembered a lot more than I expected, and it was refreshing to hear how much they processed from one gardening/cooking lesson.

Later that day, I received a text message from my daughter’s Run Club coach informing me that she just beat two 8th graders in a 200 meter sprint! I told her coach to commend her because of all the healthy foods she eats that make her strong. The girl was on fire!

Next week, we’ll be making Mint Lemonade with mint from our school garden, lemons from all of our student’s trees, and a raw vegan simple syrup made from dates and water! What are your favorite recipes using mint? Our garden has a ton, and we’d love to use it!

What the shape and color of produce tells us…

Did you know that fruits and vegetables are often the shape and color of the exact body part that they are the most beneficial for?

Today’s cooking session with the K/1 class was a joint lesson between me and the gardening parent since Arun is out of town this week, and he was going to leave me alone to cook with all the kiddoes. Eek! My husband me this photo while on his terribly boring business trip. I feel so sorry for him, don’t you?

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Arun Frances at Malibu Boats Surf Gate 2014

Not to leave anything to chance, I organized a cooking project that would keep us outside working in the garden, then enjoy a raw foods cooking lesson based on the importance of eating a rainbow of colors when consuming produce.

We started the day with a scavenger hunt in the community garden. The volunteer gardening parent, Katy McKay of Mother Earth’s Children Preschool, created a worksheet that had a color scribbled in a box, then the students had to find something in the garden that matched that color. The colors she used were red through purple to represent the colors of the rainbow, which would tie into my cooking project.

The students returned to plates filled with only one or two fruits and vegetables, each representing an internal or external body part that the particular produce was both shaped like and beneficial for. Here are the samples we used:

 

20140430-145346.jpgRed: Tomatoes – beneficial for, shaped like, and the color of your heart / Kidney Beans – beneficial for, shaped like, and the color of our kidneys

Orange: Carrots – beneficial for and shaped like our eyes if cut into discs

Yellow: Bananas – increases serotonin levels that put you in a happy mood; shaped like our smile

Green: Celery – beneficial for and shaped like our bones

Blue: Blueberries – beneficial for the skin and a favorite snack of the students!

Purple: Garnet Yams/Sweet Potatoes – beneficial for, shaped like, and the outside is the color of your pancreas

Brown: Ginger – beneficial for, shaped like, and the color of your stomach

Grey: Mushrooms – beneficial for and shaped like our ears if sliced into 1/4″ pieces

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We spent 1 1/2 hours outside in the community garden today — the hottest day so far that clocked in at 92 degrees, but there is nowhere else I would rather be — enjoying beautiful, wholesome, and healthy organic foods for which I am able to share my love for with my son’s K/1 class.

 

 

Dairy-Free Alfredo Sauce

Tuesday night I experienced an amazing moment. I put together a Cauli-Power Alfredo Sauce in the Vitamix, and I took my first taste test. HEAVEN.

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Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Alfredo Sauce

I have never tasted anything so similar to the rich, full flavor of dairy, cream, and cheese since eating the real thing. It was crazy because my first taste actually made my brain think “Uh oh, you’re going to pay for this tomorrow” but then I realized there is NO dairy in this full flavor sauce! So I proudly strolled over to my daughter and asked her to try it. She looked at me with caution (as usual), and tasted it. Immediately her face lit up, and she exclaimed how good it was! My allergy-ridden son has never tasted anything like this, and he was overwhelmed. Even the youngest ate it! I was so excited about it that I even made it with my K/1 cooking class the following day and served it over fettuccine, and the students had 3-5 servings each! Good thing I bought two pounds of pasta! The best part is that I had all the ingredients on hand, and it was so fast. I think the most important part is sauteing the garlic in olive oil and adding that to the blender, so be sure not to skip that part — it made the house smell amazing and tasted so good. Be sure to serve it warm, and a little goes a long way. I looked back to find out where I originally found this recipe, and of course, it’s from Angela Liddon — my favorite blogger from Oh She Glows. Be sure to check out her Oh She Glows Cookbook if you haven’t already!

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Chocolate Chip Blondies

I was also in the mood to try a new Chocolate Chip Blondie recipe, but I didn’t love it. The kids enjoyed it, and they put the rest in their lunches for the following day, but I’m still looking for recipe I adore…

On another note, Stanford University’s SAFAR (Stanford Alliance for Food Allergy Research) Program hosts a cutting edge allergy research program that has been extremely successful helping children eliminate the most severe allergies, and they are hosting an upcoming talk entitled All About Food Allergies in Palo Alto on May 22, 2014 at 7pm. Register if you’d like to attend this free informative event about the latest in allergy research and clinical trials.  You can also find out more about screenings for upcoming clinical trials on their website. I have worked closely with the SAFAR  Community Council for the last year, and I do all of the t-shirt printing for their annual Summer Scamper Kids Fun Run/5k/10k  fsummerscamperlogoundraiser on June 22, 2014. Support their allergy-research efforts and donate or walk/run in the scamper and enter code FRIENDS to receive $5 off your registration before April 18th. Hope to see you there!

Tofu Scramble

This week we started our Farm Unit in my son’s K/1 class, and I am so excited about all of the wonderful opportunities I will have to teach them about organic vs. conventional, The Dirty Dozen, GMO’s, and so much more! The best part is that we are working closely with our gardening parents, so the kids actually understand that food comes from farm to table!

Today we made a tofu scramble in class and talked about how people who do not eat eggs or dairy can eat scrambled tofu instead of scrambled eggs, and I overemphasized the need for anything soy-based to be ORGANIC. The kids who are not familiar with tofu were surprised it tasted just like the eggs they know from home! We compared dried soybeans to edamame, then got cooking! Another successful meal that the kids devoured. If I made this again as a class project, I would cut back on the onion and not use bell peppers, as the kids ate around those two things.

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SCRAMBLED TOFU

Recipe adapted from Jolinda Hackett’s Easy Tofu Scramble

Ingredients

1 block ORGANIC tofu, firm

1 T vegetable oil (we used sunflower)

1/4 onion (less if for kids-only)

1/4 red bell pepper (omit if for kids-only)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 T soy sauce

1 T nutritional yeast, or to taste

1/4 tsp turmeric, to color

Directions

1. Prepare the tofu: Drain the water from the tofu package and place a layer of paper towels down on a plate. Place the block of tofu on top, then cover with more paper towels. Gently press down on the tofu to press out as much water as possible. Repeat with clean paper towels until they are no longer soaking wet. Using two forks, crumble the tofu block until it is the texture of scrambled eggs.

2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and bell peppers (if using) until softened and fragrant. Add the crumbled tofu, garlic powder, and onion powder. Mix for a couple of minutes.

3. Add soy sauce, and continue to mix.

4. Reduce heat to low. Add nutritional yeast to taste (we used less and less with each batch of children), and add turmeric to stain the tofu an egg-color, if desired. Continue stirring until well-combined (a few more minutes).

5. Remove from heat, plate, and enjoy!

See all of our K/1 Cooking Projects here.

Penne Pesto with Baby Spinach (and Leprechaun Traps!)

Last night I made one of my staple dinners: Penne Pesto with Baby Spinach. pennepestowithbabyspinachThe kids always love it, and I really need to remember to double it. I omit the Parmesan, and make my own pine nut-free Chunky Almond Pesto Sauce that features basil, cilantro, and almonds. I have a Sunflower Seed Basil Pesto recipe I enjoy that is completely nut-free and has a sunflower seed base that I use as a runner-up to the almond pesto, depending on which ingredients I have in the pantry. Both recipes are vegan.

People always ask me, “What do you eat?” and I often wonder what in the world I do eat! I now realize why I don’t recall, which is because I try so many recipes that are failures that we eat only because the food is right in front of us, but it’s definitely not worth making again. Enter last night’s side dish: Sweet Potato & Kale Baked “Meat” Balls (sorry, you don’t get a link to the recipe for this one!) sweetpotatokaleballsObviously they tasted nothing like meat, but the point was to eat something hearty. Unfortunately, they just weren’t very good. Maybe if I added some allergy-free toasted bread crumbs or some different seasonings, or cooked the sweet potatoes differently, the recipe would have been a success. But I just don’t have that kind of patience, so I simply throw the recipe away and never look back. That’s actually the reason I created this blog – to document the recipe successes I encounter along the way, so you don’t have to work so hard to find the good ones!

Today’s cooking project in my son’s classroom was sticky goo for the children to place in their Leprechaun Traps! They only get homework a couple of times a year, and this particular assignment is to build a trap to see if they can catch a Leprechaun. My intention was to create a goo that they could place their coins and shiny objects on, so the Leprechauns would get stuck, and they would catch one on St. Patrick’s Day Monday morning when they return to school.

This was one of my favorite projects so far — the kids were engaged, it was so easy, there were only a few ingredients, and they were able to play as soon as it was made! Arun and I made a total of six batches, and each one turned out differently.

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My favorite batch of sticky goo.

My favorite batch for the traps was the one that was gooey and slimy, but didn’t stick to anything.Definitely capable of catching a Leprechaun with that one. The kids’ favorite batch was the foamy one that bounced when it was shaped into a ball!

If you have some Borax, Elmer’s Glue, and maybe even some food coloring (we used neon) sitting around, give this one a try! Unfortunately, we have no idea how we created our favorite batch because we followed the directions closely, but the kid’s favorite batch directions were followed exactly (not just closely)!

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The K/1 students’ favorite batch of sticky goo.

You can find the recipe here. Warning: It does not come out of clothes or carpets, so encourage your kids to play with it while sitting and throw it away when they’re done (I know, good luck, right?!)

School Potluck: Seaweed Salad

My son’s class had a potluck today, so I made an allergy-friendly dish by asking the vegan child in class what she would like me to make. Of all the cooking projects we have done (documented here), she chose last week’s Seaweed Salad! seaweedsaladWe used ground ginger and garlic powder instead of the fresh spices simply because it was faster, and I believe the toasted sesame seeds are what make the dish, so don’t skimp on the 10 minutes of toasting! It’s the easiest dish ever, and sea vegetables like wakame (also known as seaweed or kelp) are so good for you! Google them to find out why 🙂 It’s amazing how many children chowed down on this dish in class today — second and third helpings until it was all gone. It made my heart melt ❤

And while I’m on the topic of health (as if I’m ever NOT on the topic of health), I wanted to mention my new favorite deodorant. I’ve heard a lot thaicrystallately about how toxic deodorant is, and with my lifestyle, I simply can’t live without it. I have tried the salt crystal deodorant called Thai Deodorant Stone, and while it works great on my husband, it didn’t work at all on me. It rates a tiny little “1” on the Cosmetics Database Product Rating Guide (available at Whole Foods/Whole Body), but it simply did not earthsciencework. Then I tried Earth Science Natural Deodorant, Tea Tree Lavender, but I swear it made me smell even worse than when I didn’t wear any! It also rated only a “1” on the database. This week I tried a different one that my sweet, equally health claydryconscious friend, Cherri, told me about Zion Health ClayDry Deodorant Original Scent (available at Whole Foods/Whole Body), and I love it! Unfortunately, it does rate a “3” according to the database, but none of the ingredients are cancer-causing, as most of the leading antiperspirant and/or deodorants are. What is your favorite deodorant?

If you’d like to make a change to your beauty products, slowly start checking them on the database as you start running out of product and replace it with healthier alternatives.