Happy Herbivore Blog

Whole Wheat (Fat-Free!) Vegan Pie Crust

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

I love cooking seasonally, esp. during the Fall months when so many of my favorite foods to cook with (pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash, apples and cranberries) are readily available and inexpensive.

Last week a bag of local apples was just $2 at the grocery store. I couldn't help myself and picked up two overflowing bags. Of course, when Scott saw all of the apples in our cart, he asked if I was planning to make an apple pie. I wasn't, but as soon as he said it I wanted a slice of fresh, homemade apple pie -- only what was I going to do about the pastry crust?! They're not exactly fat-free... or wholesome!

In the past, I've had success making whole wheat crusts but cutting that fat always proved tricky -- using Tofutti cream cheese works pretty good, but it's still not a totally fat-free alternative. The same is true of my whole wheat graham cracker crusts. Plus, I know that not everyone has access to Tofutti cream cheese or whole wheat graham crackers, so I've been meaning to find a way to make a fat-free crust with "everyday" ingredients... and friends, I've done it! I've found a way to make a healthy (yes! healthy!!) pie crust!

This pie crust uses only two ingredients! It's also easy to make and doesn't require much more effort than traditional pie crusts. In fact, I might say it's even easier. I think it would work for any pie, but it's best to only use as a bottom layer. (I recommend using a whole-wheat, fat-free crumb topping for the top cover).

Go ahead and go make that guilt-less blueberry or apple pie this weekend!

Recipe:Whole Wheat Pie Crust

Description

Can you have a pie crust that's whole wheat and fat-free? Yes, yes you can. This pie crust, however, works best only as the bottom layer. I don't recommend using it as the top cover for the pie also. Instead, use the Blueberry Crisp crumb topping

Ingredients

Instructions

Combine flour and banana (a slightly unripe, still greenish banana is best) in a food processor, pulsing until there are no whole banana pieces left and you can mold the mixture (think play-dough). Transfer it out on to a clean surface and incorporate 1-3 tsp of warm water. You want enough water so that the dough is wet and not crumbly or dry, but not so wet it becomes sticky or hard to work with. Again, think "play dough". Roll it out using a glass (such as a drinking glass) until it's very thin. I find picking the dough up and moving it as I roll it out helps keep it from sticking to my clean surface. Once it is rolled out thinly, drape it over a greased, shallow 9" glass pie dish. Add your pie filling into the center, crumb topping over top and bake at 350F (regardless of what original pie recipe says). For a "premade crust" bake 10-15 minutes and let completely cool. If at any time the dough tears, push it back together with your fingers and a few drops of water.

To make apple pie, thinly slice 6-8 apples and toss with 1 tbsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup or more brown sugar. A few dashes of ground ginger is also a nice addition. 

Top 10 Tuesday: Fall Faves

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

It's starting to feel like fall here, so for this Top 10 Tuesday, I'm including HH's best fall recipes. You may also notice some fall faves are now appearing on the homepage!

Top 10 Fall Recipes:

  1. Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies
  2. Acorn Squash & Apple Soup
  3. Sweet Potato (or Pumpkin) Muffins
  4. African Kale & Yam Soup
  5. Maple Glazed Veggies
  6. Apple Crisp Muffins
  7. Yam Falafels
  8. Pumpkin-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
  9. Smashed Sweet Potato Burrito
  10. Sweet Potato & Fresh Cranberry Muffins

& don't forget the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie!

I sense a lot of sweet potato, pumpkin and cranberry filled recipes in HH's future...

Vegan Dogs (and homemade dog food!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Misc

Anytime someone meets my dogs (and they're aware I'm vegan) they ask if my dogs are vegan too. I would have thought the answer would be an obvious "yes" but most often, people seem surprised when I tell them, "yup, the whole family is veg!"

I get the question via email too, so I thought I'd put it out there that yes, my dogs are vegan and they are thriving.

If you're wondering if dogs can be vegan, the answer is yes. Dogs, like humans, don't need meat to survive. The pugs' vets in Boston, Los Angeles and New York City have all been supportive of their vegan diet and one even said she would recommend a vegan diet over an omnivorous one if she thought more dog owners would be open to the idea.

Although there are several brands of vegan kibble on the market (Nature's Balance, V-dog, Wenaewe, Pet Guard, Avo Derm, Natural Life, Evolution Diet and Wysong) I prefer to make vegan dog food myself.

It all started a month ago when we ran out of vegan kibble at home, and to make matters worse, the store was sold out, too. Obviously the pugs couldn't go hungry so I made them a plate of rice and beans. The next morning I made them a plate of peas and apples and that night, peas and beans. It continued on for days and by the time the store had called to say they had our kibble, I didn't bother to go buy it.

Of course, Scott was skeptical. He wondered how long I'd last at making fresh meals for our dogs every day, twice a day -- but a month later I'm still doing it!

I've noticed a dramatic shift in the pugs since we started on home cooked meals. Although they liked their vegan kibble, they were never excited about meal time. Really, they could take it or leave it. Now they bark and do circles -- they couldn't be more thrilled to eat their supper.

I've also noticed a change in their...bodily functions. The pugs were never constipated or anything, but we always had to walk them around the block a few times before they were ready to do their business. Now, they poop much quicker and with more ease. I'm convinced it's all the added fiber. There is little to no fiber in kibble, so it's not surprising they're going much more easily now.

I've also noticed a change in their urine. Quaid and LilyBean used to have deep yellow pee, which always made me worry they could be dehydrated. Now their urine is much, much lighter in color. I'm convinced its because they're getting water from their food now. Water is in the rice they eat and the beans I cook for them-- vs. kibble which is dehydrated.

By now you're probably thinking "This sounds great, but I don't have the time to cook two meals for myself, let alone my dog!" But I promise, you do -- and it will save you money! I'm spending a fraction of what I used to on kibble!

Here's how I do it: I cook an entire bag of brown rice once a week, storing leftovers in my fridge. I do the same with a bag of beans and I'll steam or bake sweet potatoes while I'm add it. Every day I'll put brown rice, beans and either a sweet potato or thawed frozen peas into their bowl. It takes seconds. 

I've also recently started added chopped fresh apples and zucchini from my garden. I also keep a bag of puffed brown rice on hand, and a few cans of beans, just in case I run out.

When I started making my own dog food, I was skeptical I'd have the time or energy to keep up with it -- but it hasn't been a problem at all and now it's a habit. I'll put rice and beans on the stove when I'm watching a movie, cleaning the apartment or doing something else. An hour later I have all their food done for the week and I've been known to swipe some for myself, too. 

I've also realized that I can thaw frozen peas under hot water in less than 20 seconds when I'm really desperate. (They really love peas!)

I can't recommend making homemade vegan dog food enough. The pugs seem to like every bean, vegetable and fruit I throw at them, but they're particularly fond of: corn, peas, sweet potatoes, black beans, kidney beans, black soy beans, tempeh, apples, bananas, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, asparagus, brown rice (they actually won't eat white rice), collard greens, kale, spinach, whole grain cereal and oatmeal.

Just be sure to avoid giving your dogs raisins, grapes, garlic, onions or mushrooms.

Perhaps my pugs are the luckiest dogs in the world, at least in terms of their food (they're still envious of dogs with big backyards!) but hopefully with this post I'll convince a few more dog owners to nurture their pets with natural, plant-based foods!

Update: we now live abroad where I have no choice but to feed the dogs home cooked meals. I start with a protein base -- beans or lentils, and then mix in leftover raw vegetables (chopped well), pumpkin (for Lily Bean's eyes) and any leftovers or leftover grains I have, like brown rice. We joke that the dogs are our compost bin. I always make sure to give them a mix and variety -- right now their food is a base of lentils, with bell pepper, cucumber, yellow squash, cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower, plus some leftover rice. 

Supplemant: I use veg-e-dog supplement as a proactive measure. The company sends great dog food recipes with their vitamins which I love!