In 2011, I started a little blog called Virtually Vegan Mama and began experimenting with plant-based cooking. I found a cool product- which is not even in production anymore – and used it to make my first-ever recipe for Vegan Fettuccini Alfredo. I received the dreaded “Anonymous” comment stating how I should have made my own cashew cream sauce instead of using a prepackaged brand. Almost immediately I received a comment coming to my defense.
Here it is:
“As a mom with kiddos sometimes you DO need the shortcuts. Not that you need to explain that or anything else to ‘anonymous’. That was a rude comment, when you are doing something good here sharing a recipe and also healthful information about eating vegan, and also Julieanna’s work. I rarely post on blogs, but because I often get these ‘anonymous’ comments myself, I just wanted to throw some fellow blogger and vegan mama support your way.”
And yes, it was Dreena who took the time to write this awesome comment. At the time, I was floored and so honored and so grateful. I was like, “I can’t believe this famous cookbook author just came to my defense, how cool is that?!?!” And as I got to know Dreena virtually over the next couple of years, it solidified my initial feeling about her. She is not only a talented vegan recipe developer and author, she is an amazing person.
I’ve done plenty of reviews over the years and I’ve seen first-hand how Dreena will take the time to actually connect with her readers and fans. You cannot say this about a lot of authors, but the fact that she is accessible to her fans and takes the time to connect with them is so important in my book!
Pure Voice is about sharing the heart-felt stories of others and If anyone can inspire us to “find our balance”, it is Dreena. Thank you for sharing a little bit about yourself with us today. Take it away Dreena…
“I’ve been mothering for 12 years now. I’ve been writing cookbooks even longer, and blogging about 8 years. Through these years, I have been asked many times – both in my personal life and through online acquaintances – “how do you do it? … how do you find the balance?“.
My short reply is often “I’m not sure there is any balance“. We may wax poetic about how us moms can “have it all”, but is that really true? Can we? For me, motherhood and working has always been more of a juggling act than a balancing act. With all the demands of family and work-life, something has to give – eventually a ball is going to drop.
While I hardly have all the answers, I have found a few things that work for me. First, I do love my work. It feels meaningful and creative and purposeful. I wouldn’t work as hard as I do if I didn’t have this connection and passion. Second, I respect my burnout. When I have had too much, I break from blogging or social media. I only blog about once a week, because that’s really all I can maintain right now. Third, I respect my sleep. I have always been an early bird – early to bed, early to rise. So, I don’t abuse that. I shut off from momputing by about 8:30pm. Here’s the embarrassing confession: I’m in bed most nights by 9:30. I know, plant-powered partay! Well, I’m often up at 5:30 or 6am, so it’s my rhythm. Sleep is critical for maintaining our serenity as mothers, and I have had periods of torturous insomnia after having children – which could be a whole post on its own. So, I do my best to respect my rhythms and try – try – not to be hard on myself. Fourth, I exercise. I don’t run miles or endure long, exhausting workouts. For my body, just small spurts of daily exercise works best. So, 20-30 minutes a morning of yoga, weight-training, or rebounding (I hope to post about that soon)! Fifth, I feel whole foods help energize and stabilize me through the day. My diet is about 80-85% whole foods. I’m not perfect, I enjoy my treats. I love my chocolate. And there you have my sixth coping mechanism.
There are many things I know I should do more. I know I should meditate, have more “me” time like spa visits (ahhhh!), get out for girls’ nights, and also get away to food and veggie conferences more often. Maybe in time. I’m sure I could fit in even 10 minutes of meditation a day, that might be the best place to start.
As for “finding the balance”, that may forever remain elusive … at least until our children are much older and independent – and by that time I will likely miss the noise and chaos of my current days.”
And Dreena sure gets it done – even with all the noise and chaos – and here’s the proof!
If you are looking for a family-friendly plant-based recipe cookbook, this is it. The recipes included in this book are wholesome and delicious. With over 100 recipes there is a ton of variety to choose from. Dreena also share her tips, tricks and advice for dealing with picky eaters, stocking your pantry, and menu planning.
Here is just a sampling of some of the recipes:
- Blueberry Lassy Muffins
- Chickpea Salad
- White Bean Guacamole
- Artichoke Sunflower Burgers
- Saucy BBQ Chickpeas + Green Beans
- PB Pudding w/ Berrylicious Swirl
- Lemon-Kissed Blondie Bites
- Red Lentil Hummus
- Cinnamon French Toast
- Crazy Brownies
- Creamy Artichoke Dip
- Easy Being Green Smoothie
- No-Bake Granola Bars
- Protein Power Balls
- Creamy Fettucine
You are super luck today because I am sharing TWO of Dreena’s recipes from her new book. And let me tell you, both recipes were easy to make and flaw-less!
First up are these fabulous No-Bake Granola Bars. These are simple, nutritious and delicious. A total hit with my kiddos and I have been instructed to NEVER buy store-bought again.
- ½ cup brown rice syrup
- ¼ packed cup coconut butter (see note)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup oat flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
- 11/2 cups natural brown rice crisp cereal
- 3 tablespoons nondairy chocolate chips (optional)
- Line an 8" × 8" pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium saucepan over medium/medium-low heat, add the brown rice syrup, coconut butter, vanilla extract, sea salt, and cinnamon. Stir until well combined and the coconut butter has melted. Add the rolled oats, and stir through, allowing to cook for 2–3 minutes in the low heat. Add the oat flour and shredded coconut, and stir through.
- Remove the pot from the stove. Swiftly stir in the cereal and transfer the mixture to prepared pan. Press mixture evenly into the pan (using a nonstick spatula or piece of parchment paper). Wait just a minute, and then sprinkle on the chocolate chips and press those into the base. Refrigerate until fully chilled (at least ½ hour), then cut in squares or bars.
Coconut butter works well here because it is so dense and helps bind the bars.
Because coconut is not botanically a nut, these are also perfect for school lunches.
However, if you want to substitute a nut butter, choose one that is very dense, like cashew butter.
Idea:Try some of these flavor variations:
Stir in 3–4 tablespoons raisins, omit the chips, increase the cinnamon to ½ teaspoon, and add ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and ⅛ teaspoon of allspice.
Stir in 3–4 tablespoons of dried cranberries and substitute pumpkin seeds for the coconut.
Substitute 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds for the coconut, and add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (when mixing in the oat flour). Keep the chocolate chips, oh yes!
And what’s a plant-based cookbook without a mouth-watering veggie burger? We love veggie burgers at our house and this Artichoke Burger did not disappoint. This recipe was very easy to make and didn’t require any fancy ingredients. It was also super flavorful and the whole family enjoyed it. And guess what the best part is? It doesn’t fall apart!! I hate veggie burgers that don’t hold together and this one doesn’t disappoint on any level. Make this one for dinner tonight!
- 2 cups artichoke hearts (see note)
- 11/2 loosely packed cups cooked and cooled brown rice or potatoes
- (see note)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ¼ loosely packed cup fresh Italian parsley (see note)
- 1 tablespoon mild miso (ex: chickpea or brown rice)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ rounded teaspoon sea salt
- 1 medium clove garlic (see note)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill or parsley
- 1½ teaspoons chickpea miso or other mild/light miso
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½–1 small clove garlic (optional; see note)
- 1 cup plain nondairy yogurt
- ½–1 tablespoon tahini
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup seeded, roughly chopped cucumber
- Dash pure maple syrup (optional)
- In a food processor, add the artichoke, rice, nutritional yeast, sunflower seeds, parsley, miso, mustard, sea salt, garlic, black pepper, and vinegar and puree. Once the mixture is coming together, add the oats and pulse through several times. Refrigerate for an hour if possible (so it’s easier to shape the patties).
- Scoop the mixture and form burgers. I scoop generously with an ice cream scoop, roughly ⅓–1/2 cup.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Cook the patties for 5–7 minutes, then flip and cook another 4–5 minutes, until golden. Serve with fixings of choice (see serving suggestions).
- In a blender, add the dill, miso, sea salt, garlic, yogurt, tahini, and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Add the cucumber, and process briefly to incorporate but not fully smooth out. Add more salt to taste, or a touch of maple syrup if desired to sweeten ever so slightly for kids. Serve!
Potato Note: Instead of leftover rice, you can use 11/2–13/4 cup precooked, cubed, red or yellow (waxy) potatoes—but thetechnique is different. Potatoes can become gummy when pureed in a food processor. So, if using, add the potatoes last, after the oats. Simply pulse the potatoes until they are just evenly worked through the mixture. Do not over process.
Garlic Note: I’m conservative with the garlic for the kiddos, but you can use more if you like.
Fresh Herbs Note: Fresh parsley adds a nice flavor element, but you can also deruse fresh basil.
Serving Suggestions: Top with Tzatziki Sauce
I am so excited that Ben Bella Books is allowing me to giveaway one copy of Plant-Powered Families to you! Thank you so much to Dreena and Ben Bella Books for allowing me to share a little about Dreena and her fabulous new cookbook!
This Giveaway is now closed. =)
Congrats to Kathy T. on winning this awesome giveaway and thanks to all who entered!
Disclaimer: I was given this book to review for this post but the thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.