GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

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Sunday Comfort Food

Most meals at this house are fridge to table in 30 minutes or less.  It is out of sheer desperation for lack of prep time that I have read about, implemented and even come up with my own time hacks. (Things like pre-making big pots of brown rice and freezing in portions; slow cooker everything and 20 minute soup 3 nights a week!)

Sometimes, when I have the time and an extra set of hands to keep the kiddos from running in the street, I like to make stuff that requires more than “chop, cook, serve.”

I give you: Colcannon Topped with Kidney Bean “Meat”balls and Mustard-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Comfort Food Made Vegan!

Comfort Food Made Vegan!

This whole meal was about an hour of prep/cook.  WAY more time than I usually spend in the kitchen, but as I get the luxury of blogging this my boys are busy loading the dishwasher. ❤ them!

So here’s the details:

Kidney Bean Meatballs

Make the meatballs first, they take the longest. (Make this your own by adding hot sauce, steak sauce or liquid smoke if you want. All would be great!)

1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 onion

2 cloves garlic

Handful of baby carrots

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 tbsp ketchup

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

3/4 instant oats (or regular oatmeals pulsed a few times in the food processor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In your food processor put onion, carrot and garlic. Pulse a few times until well chopped and mixed. Add rice, pulse a few more times. Add beans and pulse until most are smashed. This should be chunky-ish though, you don’t want a paste. Scoop it out into a bowl and add ketchup, sauces and oats. Mix really well and using hands to form into balls, place on cookie sheet. (I made about 20)

Bake 20-30 minutes or until outside gets firm and golden. Let cool for a bit (they firm up as they cool).

While those are baking, prepare-


Colcannon= Irish side dish consisting of mashed potatoes with cabbage (or in this case, kale that was taking over the garden) Make this dish as big or small as you need!

Potatoes , quartered

Kale or cabbage, de-stemmed and chopped

Dijon mustard

Green onions, sliced

Boil the potatoes till soft. Turn off heat and throw in the greens. (Let them steam for 10 minutes while you prep the Brussels Sprouts.)

After greens have softened, drain the whole pot and mash well with non dairy milk, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. Add in green onions and still well.

Agave and Mustard Glazed Brussels Sprouts

2 cups Brussels Sprouts

2 tbsp agave

2 tbsp yellow mustard

1/2 tbsp olive oil


Slivered almonds (garnish)

Whisk agave, mustard and oil together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts. Place them in a skillet with enough water to move them around a bit and steam them until bright green and tender. As water is getting low and evaporating, pour in mustard mixture stirring until nicely glazed, about 2-3 minutes. Pour into a serving dish and sprinkle with slivered almonds.

If you timed it all right, everything should be ready when the almonds go on! The meatballs had cooled enough to be firm and the husband and son had theirs with gravy (but it wasn’t vegan so I skipped that) but if I make this again, I’m doing it up with gravy too. Total Iowa comfort food, veganized (and gluten free!)

Enjoy friends, Aloha.

(Credits: Recipes adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas and Happy Herbivore Abroad by Lindsay Nixon)


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Happy Herbivore Light & Lean: Peanut Soba Noodles


Light and Lean_Tour blogger badgeI feel really great about writing this book/recipe review today because Lindsay Nixon, aka The Happy Herbivore, has helped make my own transition to a plant-based diet simple, painless and actually fun.  I have the original Happy Herbivore cookbook, Happy Herbivore Abroad and now Light & Lean.  When I learned that she was looking for blog writers to review the book I was excited!

I share my life and home with an awesome husband, a four and a half year old son, my mom, a newborn baby and many animals…so the transition to plant-based living has had logistical challenges to say the least, and I have met some resistance from time to time. *ahem* 🙂 However, Lindsay’s books have helped so much because the recipes are simple, easy, use stuff we usually have on hand and the hubs and my mom have both gotten in on the cooking.

A few nights ago we made this: Peanut Soba Noodles and it was delicious! We made ours with shelled organic edamame, organic soba noodles and fresh green onions and cucumber from the garden. We omitted the hot sauce for our son, but if I made it again, I think I would add a dash for myself. 🙂

Soba Peanut Noodles

Soba Peanut Noodles
Serves 2
Gluten-free, Quick, Budget
All the taste you love in creamy peanut noodles but with less fat and calories thanks to a surprise ingredient: vegan yogurt! I call this a “cheater” recipe since I use a dab of peanut butter, but it’s still light compared to most peanut noodle recipes.
4 oz buckwheat noodles (could sub spaghetti)
2 green onions, sliced cubed tofu or edamame (optional)
vegetables, like broccoli or cucumber (optional)
Creamy Peanut Sauce
2 tbsp plain vegan yogurt
1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp sweet red chili sauce
few dashes garlic powder
few dashes ground ginger
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1–2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
Asian hot sauce (e.g., Sriracha; optional)
Cook noodles according to package instructions, rinse under cold water in a colander, and chill in the fridge for a few minutes if you can. Meanwhile, whisk peanut sauce ingredients together. Taste, adding more soy sauce or tamari, garlic, onion, or hot sauce as desired. Toss noodles with sauce, then stir in green onion, tofu or edamame if using, and vegetables, if using.
Chef’s Note: Despite having “wheat” in the name, buckwheat flour is completely gluten-free. Just make sure your noodles are 100% buckwheat if you have an allergy or sensitivity.
Per serving
Calories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .274
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6g
Carbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47.5g
Fiber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.6g
Sugars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.7g
Protein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.4g
WW Points. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Simple, easy plant-based recipes are Lindsay’s trademark, and I love them especially because there is usually at least on or two ingredients I can reach into my garden and grab, like the green onions and cucumbers here.  And as our whole family works on healthier living this year, we plan to use the Meal Plans, which remove the stress of planning, list-making and thinking about what to eat! Check them out: Happy Herbivore Meal Plans (gluten & soy free!).

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Going Vegan: Garden & Pantry Challenges

A Re-blog from January 1, 2012, because it’s still so relevant! I’ve learned so much since this time though- as a gardener, a cook and a mom. While we still depend on store-bought things for foods that don’t grow well here (apples, peaches) we have moved to making up meals based on what’s in the garden and ready to eat. I still gain inspiration and ideas from Happy Herbivore and other plant-based bloggers like Post Punk Kitchen and our whole family’s health is improving. The issues of fatigue, high blood sugar, etc that plagued me in my first pregnancy are not here this time around, and I credit a whole foods plant based diet for that. 🙂


Garden greens tossed with local avocado, peppers, onions, tomatoes and black beans

Garden greens tossed with local avocado, peppers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice and black beans

January 1, 2012

A few weeks ago while exchanging emails with a vegan acquaintance friend she wrote, “I don’t have kids or husband so not sure what the challenges would be.” At that particular moment I wasn’t sure either.  I hadn’t actually gone shopping yet.  For these past few days I have simply been using what I have already in the house and modifying previously cooked recipes.  But as the Christmas leftovers reach their gross point and get passed along to the chickens or dogs, the fridge was looking pretty bare, so we (Joe, Ethan and I) headed for the commissary today.  I was feeling pretty pleased with myself for having downloaded the Happy Herbivore’s meal plan the night before, complete with shopping list! Being vegan was going to be a cinch!

Um, not so fast there.  I quickly realized the first challenge to my change: Shopping. First, the place is crazy busy and my darling toddler has already made it clear he’s in no mood for shopping and we’ve been here 10 minutes.  (For the record, we went AFTER a 2 hour nap and snack, but apparently that made no difference today.)  A new way of eating = a new way of cooking = a new way of shopping.  I can’t just cruise through the place, hitting all my same-olds, tossing into the cart brainlessly.  Produce was pretty easy- LOTS of it- but I did get some stuff I haven’t bought in a while like cauliflower and seemingly huge amount of mushrooms.

As soon as we hit boxed-canned-bagged aisle, it was all over. I had to read everything. I had to search for things I had never looked for before. (Olives? Cooking sherry? Red lentils?)  The super cool-car-shopping-cart wasn’t cool anymore, as Ethan exercised his vocal chords.  Ethan and Daddy exited Stage Left.

Ahhh. Peaceful shopping.  Now, back to reading labels.  And realizing there is freaking MILK or WHEY in EVERYTHING. Thank god I’m not going gluten-free! What a nightmare.

By the time I finish the monster shopping list ($248.00!!!) it is 5:30 and I should be putting dinner on the table already, not just putting in the car.  So we head on home, 3 grumbly-tummies as I promise to throw something together the minute we go inside.

And so we come to challenge #2: Prep Time. As a meat-eater or even a lacto-ovo vegetarian, throwing together dinner is a not complicated.  Chicken breast in the skillet, rice in the steamer, broccoli in the pot. Done.  Or my other great stand-by meal, frozen wontons in chicken broth with chopped cabbage/greens and green onion. Done.  But I not only have come up with NEW stand-by meals that are easy and quick, but come to the realization that quality vegan food is not fast.  Good grains take a LONG time to cook. All that rainbow of vegetables for good health take a LONG time to cut, wash and prep. Jars of sauces or mixes won’t do most of the time as they contain milk, so one must CREATE their own sauces.  This takes TIME.  And what a working mom does not have much of is, time.  And while I have help from my mom and husband in nearly everything at home, my choice to go vegan has left them in a hands-off the kitchen mode. I would have to do a lot of teaching before either of them would help do cooking that is more complicated than boiling pasta or cooking chicken.  And frankly, I have to re-teach myself first.

The story ends well. I threw together a recipe from Happy Herbivore called Skillet Green Bean Casserole, and it was pretty good. While I was cooking though, Ethan ate leftovers from the night before because that kid was too hungry to wait for his mama to experiment in the kitchen.  Which leads me to the 3rd challenge: My Resolve. How important is this to me, really?  Do I really believe this will work to correct my health issues, help me lose weight and get pregnant again? Do I really think one person not eating meat or dairy is actually helping the planet? And what about my chickens!? I’m already contemplating eating their eggs (not eggs in general) because I feed them organic food and they are quite happy and well-cared for.  But does this make me a hypocrite? A sell-out?  Or just practical?

And then I see the scale. Down 5 pounds in 5 days. Skin clearing up. Achy-knee feeling better. More energy to get up and get jogging. And I think, yes, I can do this.