Tag: zerowaste

Tools for Making Homemade Tofu (Zero Waste + Vegan)

Mastering tofu (well, as much as a little grasshopper can master a 2,000-year-old practice) has been my highlight of 2020. It’s all the more exciting because I failed so many times, and when I realized what was hindering my success, it was like a dam breaking. I’ve never looked back and now make tofu successfully a couple times a week. 

Is it worth making tofu at home? ABSOLUTELY! 

  • Homemade tofu is so much less expensive than store-bought
  • Homemade tofu eliminates plastic packaging (i.e. zero waste / low waste)
  • Homemade tofu tastes absolutely scrumptious!

Now that my live Homemade Tofu cooking class is available as an On-Demand class (full video and recipe/instructions), I thought it would be helpful to share the basic “equipment” needed to make your own tofu at home. As you’ll see, I mention a couple things you probably already have on hand, but there are some things that will be new to you. 

Tofu Mold: As for the tofu mold, I prefer a wooden tofu mold, which I’ve had for years, but when I looked for one to refer you to, I found it difficult to find one that wasn’t part of a tofu-making kit. However, considering the fact that the kits provide you with everything you need, it may be worth it in the end. The two kits I recommend are:

  1. SoyaJoy Tofu Kit with Wooden Mold, Nigari, and Cheesecloth 
  2. Yamako Tofu Kit with Wooden Mold, Nigari, and Cheesecloth 

Because I wanted to ease you into the homemade tofu-making process, I also wanted to find an option for you to use a mold you may already have on hand without having to buy one just yet. While a “colander” would work (as some blogs suggest), you need more than just a colander…you need a colander/strainer that will also act as a mold (usually square but any shape will do). So, two options to consider:

  1. A plastic tupperware container you punch / drill holes into the bottom of.
  2. A small plastic basket — like those that strawberries come in. The fruit basket is actually the perfect size, and it creates / presses a pretty little design into the tofu block once it’s finished pressing. 

Cheese Cloth: Whatever mold you use, you still need a cheesecloth, though, so just purchase some at a store near you, or buy some online; here’s one I like — it’s unbleached, you can cut it into whatever size you need, and you can wash it and use it again and again and again. And I do.

Nigari: As for the nigari, as I mentioned, it can be purchased in crystal or liquid form and can be found at most Japanese or Asian grocery stores, or you can order online here (in crystal form) or here (in liquid form). FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve used only the crystalized nigari that I dilute in water, and while it comes in a plastic bag, the amount of plastic waste you avoid using by making your own tofu makes up for it a hundred fold. (For instance, 1 pound of crystallized nigari makes about 240 pounds of tofu!) HOWEVER, I *am* curious about using liquid nigari, and since the one I recommend comes in a glass bottle, it would be even less plastic waste. I just haven’t tried it yet. What I use at the present time is nigari salts that I dissolve in water. 

Kitchen / Candy Thermometer: I mention below that this is not required, but I like to know I’m at the right temperature when adding my coagulant, so I use a simple thermometer to do so. Here is the one I have

The main thing I learned in terms of successfully making tofu was that the soy milk has to be made … from scratch. I mean…you definitely can’t use store-bought commercial soy milk and try to make tofu, but my failed attempts at making tofu also came from using soy milk I made in my favorite soy milk maker. I still use that soy milk maker just for making soy milk for daily use, but for making tofu, you have to do it without a machine.

If you missed the live class, fear not! You can get the video with full instructions and demo by purchasing the On-Demand class for only $9.99!

Zero Waste, Plastic-Free Tips for Living with Cats

I get so many questions about what I feed my kitties from a vegan point of view as well as how to care for them from an ecological point of view, whether we’re talking about toys, litter, or food. 

Check out this video, as well as my podcast episodes for answers. 

As for the resources I mention, here they are below:

▸CAT ENRICHMENT & TOYS
*Make your own toys if you can
– Cat Scratcher Lounge Collapsible: https://amzn.to/2yK3MZ6
– Cat Scratcher Lounge: https://amzn.to/2KkyTiw (best thing I ever bought!)
– Plastic-free lint brush https://amzn.to/2MqsOyu

▸ CAT LITTER
-okocat https://amzn.to/2KlmKJT

▸ PLASTIC-FREE LITTER BOX
https://amzn.to/2yEl0ad

▸PLASTIC-FREE LITTER SCOOP
https://amzn.to/2KaSG4q

▸HOW TO COMPOST YOUR CAT’S LITTER
http://bit.ly/2IsnQOZ

▸ CAT FOOD
-Natural Balance Cat Food https://amzn.to/2IyzZSS
-Tiki Cat (for when the kitties just want a little extra) https://amzn.to/2KrXNJT

▸ Cornell University on flushing cat poop
http://bit.ly/2N1evRI

Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything. 

Your Plastic-Free Journey Begins Today!

Welcome to Plastic-Free July! Don’t worry if you didn’t plan on making some changes this month. I’ve got you covered.⁠

Whether you’re consciously following #plasticfreejuly or just want to reduce (or be aware of) the amount of plastic you use, consume, and buy, you can join the journey at any point. ⁠

I’m going to be posting content to guide you wherever you are, and I encourage you to ask questions, provide resources, or support someone else — either here or on Instagram or Facebook.

FIVE TIPS TO GET STARTED! Watch this short video that provides the foundation for living with intention and compassion: ⁠

1. Take a look at where you’re at (and start there). ⁠
2. Have fun with it. Gamify it!⁠
3. Create an intention — what do you want to bring to this experience? What do you want to take away from it?⁠
4. The journey isn’t about buying all new plastic-free things.⁠
5. Value / use what you already have. ⁠

Ready to get started? ⁠
How can I help? ⁠
What are you looking for? ⁠
What are your challenges?⁠

👇 (COMMENT BELOW)⁠

🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿⁠

Don’t forget to: ⁠

Zero Waste: Rain Tanks and Grey Water

In today’s episode, I share my experience setting up 1,000-gallon rain catchment tanks and diverting the grey water from our sinks and showers to our gardens — instead of the sewer. A must-listen if you are looking to save water, conserve water, and use water that would otherwise go to waste!

Compostable, Biodegradable, Zero Waste Phone Cases

I first heard about Pela’s compostable, biodegradable, non-plastic, non-toxic phone cases from my friend Kathryn Kellogg over at Going Zero Waste, and I didn’t waste anytime ordering one. (I have an iPhone, but Pela makes phones for Google and Samsung phones, as well.)

For me, choosing ecologically friendly, animal-friendly products is always top of mind when I’m making purchases, but I also want them to do the job they’re designed for. 

I’ve had the Pela case for more than two years now and can attest to its efficacy — it has absolutely protected my phone, which I’ve dropped MANY times and use constantly each and every day. But a little more than two years in, it’s time for another, as the wear and tear is beyond cosmetic. 

Zero waste is about making choices based on responsibility and value, and while two years doesn’t seem like a terribly long time to own a phone case, there are a few other things to consider:

  • I’ve had other phone cases made of plastic that lasted about as long (or less).
  • Other (plastic) phone cases I’ve had didn’t actually protect my phone, so worse than having to replace the case, I’ve had to replace my phone (several times). Maybe I’m just a klutz, but still.
  • When I was done with previous phone cases, I couldn’t compost them!
  • The manufacturing needs to be considered in addition to the discard options, and Pela cases have 25% less carbon emissions, 35% less water usage, and 70% less waste production than conventional plastic smartphone cases.
  • Pela cases are free of lead, cadmium, BPA and phthalates. They are made of a proprietary blend of Terratek Flex and Canadian Prairie flax shive.

So, in all ways, they come out on top, and two years later, I’m ready to compost my case.

While we are lucky to have a municipal / industrial compost system in our city of Oakland, CA, I’m going to add my old case to one of my backyard compost bins to see how long it will take for it to break down. According to Pela, it could take between 6 months and 2 years, so I’ll report back! 

Two years after my initial purchase, Pela has increased their line in terms of colors, and some also have designs created by artists Pela commissions to beautify their products. They also have other biodegradable accessories, including  phone grips, which perhaps I should buy considering how often I drop my phone. Again…klutz. 

Pela is offering a special right now that gives you two cases for the price of one — the intention being that people need to wash their cases more than ever to avoid spreading Covid-19. I took advantage of this offer and picked two pretty cases, which arrived in compostable non-plastic packaging!

 

As with being vegan, aspiring to zero waste isn’t about being perfect; it’s about doing the best we can. It’s also not about buying more stuff — including everything marketed as “zero waste,” but when it comes to prolonging the life of necessities — and yes, my phone is a work and life necessity right now — then I’m grateful for companies like Pela who is providing an option that is ethical for human and non-humans alike. 

10 Favorite Countertop Appliances

It’s true that small appliances require some space, but it’s also true that they can make it easy to prepare and eat delicious, nutrient-dense, and cruelty-free vegan, plant-based dishes. While you can get along without them, I do think a couple are worth the space they take up on your counter, and their price points are really reasonable. 

I also recommend — if you can / if you have space — keeping those you use often (like the air fryer and blender) out on your counter. If you have to dig around a closet every time you want to use them, you never will.

If we don’t have time to be sick, we have to make time to be healthy.

NOTE: This blog post also corresponds with a podcast episode I did by the same name, but also include LESSONS FROM A KITCHEN REMODEL. Listen and learn more here.

In no particular order, here are my favorites and why. (Disclosure: while no one pays me to make these recommendations, if you purchase them through the links provided, I make a small commission.)

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  1. Air Fryer: Circulating air up, down, and all around, an air fryer is essentially a compact convection. I had the space to add this appliance, but if you are choosing between a small convection oven (toaster oven size) and an air fryer, you’d be better off choosing the convection oven. Having said that, I love my air fryer and use it every day, the main benefit of which is not having to preheat it before using. While it’s a great way to cook without oil, I still find that a little oil adds moisture and flavor to my veggies that are too dry without it. But you just need so little! Favorite things to cook in my air fryer: 
  • Brassicas: cauliflower, broccoli, broccolini, Brussels sprouts. Just a small amount of oil rubbed on each floret, tossed with a sprinkling of salt is all you need for crispy bites in 10 minutes.
  • Carrot fries: Cut carrots into matchsticks, toss with a little olive oil, salt, and chili powder. 
  • Kale chips: Seriously, in just a few minutes (and on a lower heat), you will have the most glorious, nutrient-dense kale chips. Again, a little oil rubbed onto each leaf, plus salt, AND golden flakes (aka nooch; aka nutritional yeast). 
  • Japanese sweet potatoes: Bake them first and store in fridge. When it’s time for dinner, split them open on the top and smash down the flesh with a fork OR I just slice the potatoes up into discs — and put in the air fryer for about 10 minutes. No oil. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. 

Top choice: Ninja Air Fryer (4 quart) – perfect size and fits on counter nicely. Only issue is that I often have to cook in separate batches. If you want a larger size, I recommend my 2nd choice. 

2nd choice: Ninja Air Fryer (5.5 quart) – If you have the space, go for this “family size” air fryer. You can cook a lot at once, and it comes in lots of fun, pretty colors. 

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2. Pressure Cooker: Game-changer in no uncertain terms. It is not an exaggeration to say that getting a pressure changed everything for me. Beans (without soaking!) are ready in 30 minutes and taste better than any bean in a can or even cooked on the stove for hours. The pressure just seals in the flavor and makes the world taste good. 

Top choice: Instant Pot (8 quarts) I’ve had others. This is the best.

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3. Blender: A blender is best for liquefying or blending liquid ingredients. Because the blade is all the way at the bottom, it doesn’t do as good a job as a food processor. However, I use my blender to make smoothies, shakes, and nice cream on a regular basis, which the food processor isn’t meant for.

Top choice: Vitamix. Nothing beats this blender and its tamper. Period. Full stop. 

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4. Food Processor: As I mention below, I love my Kitchen Aid food processor because it has a large bowl with a large blade and a small bowl and blade that fits into it. I LOVE the versatility of that. I use my food processor for quickly chopping onions, carrots, and garlic; for pureeing soups; for making peanut butter; for pulsing chickpeas for Better-Than-Tuna…just name it. The only thing I don’t use it for is blending (like for making smoothies and nice cream). 

Top choice: Kitchen Aid 11-cup. I have had this machine for almost 20 years and haven’t had to replace any parts — ever. That’s the first reason I recommend the Kitchen Aid brand; the second is because one machine has two bowls and two blades – large and small – a convenient feature that not all food processors have. 

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5. Soy Milk Maker: While you can make soy milk without a machine, it’s INFINITELY easier to do so with a soy milk maker. 

Top choice: Joyoung Soy Milk Maker. I’ve come around to having the milk made in the stainless steel pitcher and then just straining at the end. It’s super easy to do, and you won’t have to worry about the holes in a strainer cup getting clogged. This one also enables you to make milk with unsoaked beans, but you’ll get more milk with soaked soy beans. 

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6. Countertop Toaster / Convection Oven: Before we renovated our kitchen (someday I’ll share before and after photos), we didn’t have space for a toaster oven, and I really really missed having one. Not a TOASTER, mind you — a toaster OVEN. Basically a small convection oven. I don’t like using my large wall ovens unless I have to; they use a ton of electricity, and the fan is loud. So, I use our countertop convection oven for everything from baking Japanese sweet potatoes and drop biscuits to toasting ciabatta!

Top choice: Oster Toaster Oven. Digital, easy to use, lots of options and settings. No complaints.

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7. Popcorn Air Popper: I don’t hide the fact that I eat popcorn several times a week, and while I grew up on Jiffy Pop, there comes a time you grow out of your childhood habits. I have had an air popper for 25 years and while it looks a little worse or wear, it’s perfect in my eyes. 

Top choice: Presto Air Popper. My original air popper is so old (25 years?) that I can’t find it anymore, but this one has the same features I love!

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8. Electric Stand Mixer: A stand mixer is essentially the same as a hand mixer but with more powerful motors than their hand-held counterparts. I’ve had my machine for at least 20 years — also a KitchenAid — and while I technically could live without it, I use it frequently: for kneading bread dough, for whipping up aquafaba for “egg whites,” and for making quick, large batches of cookie dough. Most stand mixers come with a variety of various additional blades, whisks, and hooks.

Top choice: Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

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9. Juicer: We’re probably getting to the “nice-to-have’s” at this point, but I have to include a few other countertop appliances, including my juicer. I juice at least once a week. My favorite combination is carrots, ginger, and apples. My juicer is decades old, so I can’t recommend it — literally. It doesn’t exist anymore. I do know, though, that you’ll want to choose between centrifugal juicers and masticating. 

Centrifugal juicers have one blade and works a lot like a blender. Masticating juicers, which I have, make use of an augur instead of a blade and grind food instead of slicing it. In short, centrifugal juicers tend to create much more food waste than masticating juicers and are not able to break food down as well as masticating juicers. Personally, I would recommend a masticating juicer, which have also been called slow juicers — mostly because the slower process is believed to preserve nutrients better than high speed juicers that generate heat. And also because it requires a little more prep (quartering an apple, for example, rather than shoving an entire apple into the shoot). I’ve never found that to be an issue.

I started researching masticating juicers, but because there are so many to choose from, I think it’s just easier if you pick your own.

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10. An electric kettle:  This is one of those small appliances you don’t think is necessary until you have one, and then you realize you use it all the time! It’s more energy-efficient than boiling water on the stove, and 10 times as fast. If you drink a fair amount of tea, it’s a game-changer. What I love about both of these is that you can change the temperature depending on what type of tea you’re drinking: green, oolong, white or black.

Top choice: Miroco Temperature Controlled Electric Kettle 

2nd Choice: Breville Variable-Temperature Kettle

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NICE-TO-HAVE’S BUT NOT ESSENTIAL

NEXT, I wanted to include countertop “appliances” that may not be essential, but I’m happy I have them, and I definitely use them. I’m walking the line between “appliances” and “tools” here, but I make the rules, so it’s okay if I break them. 

  • Coffee Grinder (for grinding flax seeds): I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my life, but I use this handy-dandy gadget on a regular basis for grinding up the small, nutritious flax seeds that are good for eating and using as “eggs” in baking. (see blog post) 

Top choice: Krups is a good, reliable brand.

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  • Panini Press: Wonderful for making hot panini and even pancakes.

Top Choice: Breville is my recommended brand. 

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  • Electric Handheld Mixer: As the name implies, this is a hand-held device, where two stainless steel beaters are immersed in the food (in a mixing bowl) to do the mixing. 

Top choice: Dash has lots of great reviews and really pretty colors. 

2nd choice: Kitchenaid  – there are also versions that have a detachable whisk. I really like this stick blender — and those like it — where you twist to separate the body so all you have to do is put the blade part in the sink to wash it — and not the whole thing that’s attached to the plug.

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  • Immersion Blender also called Stick Blender: This is great for when you want to puree a pot of soup (or a portion of the soup) and don’t want to take out your entire blender or food processor. The one I link to below also has a whisk attachment, which is convenient, but there are many to choose from.

Top choice: Kitchen Aid Stick Blender

  • Waffle maker: This one was pretty close to making it an essential appliance, but in the end…are waffles really essential? I dunno…maybe they are. You might want to consider this #11 in my essential countertop appliances. 😉 I searched high and low for the right one, and I love the one I landed on. I did a ton of research for this, and it paid off. I love the one I got — it’s super easy, makes perfect waffles every time, and it’s a pancake maker as well! (It comes with pancake plates you can easily replace the waffle plates with!) 

Top choice: Cuisinart Waffle Maker with Pancake Plates

  • Wine fridge: Because we are wine drinkers, and we are members of a few different wineries, it’s nice to have red, rose, and white wines chilled at exactly the right drinking temperature, we did buy a wine fridge for our pantry but definitely a luxury and not a necessity. We were close to getting it built in when we re-did the kitchen, but I’m glad we didn’t. We did a ton of research for this one, as well, and it suits us perfectly — exactly the size we need and sits on top of our counter in the kitchen (and my soy milk maker sits on top). 

Top choice: Ivation 

  • Portable butane burners: So, I’ve had these for DECADES because it made teaching my cooking classes sooo easy in that I didn’t have to rely on the space I was renting to have a stove top, so I bought these little burners, and I’ve used them on picnics and sometimes even in our own back garden. It’s a bit of a hike from our kitchen to one of the outdoor spots we entertain, so I’ve brought the burners up there to make crepes or tortillas — things I wanted to serve hot when we were all outside, so in that way they’re very convenient. Now, there are definitely electric burners you can get, but I just prefer cooking over an open flame, so that’s why I gave these, and it also means you don’t need an outlet to use them! You just get little canisters of butane, and that’s what they run on. Now that I’m teaching the online cooking classes, it’s been super helpful to have my set-up such that I can point the camera down to my counter / cooking space. Otherwise, it would be awkward to constantly tilt the camera toward my stovetop. So, yeah, the little portable burner is great and a nice to have!  

Top choice: Burton Butane Burner – I’ve had 3 for years; you just have to buy the cartridges separately.

2nd choice: Coleman Butane Burner — I haven’t used it, but it looks very similar, it’s a lower price point, and it’s a good brand.


* Remember to listen to my podcast of the same name that also includes lessons from our kitchen remodel. *

For more on living and cooking vegan, my books are here to help:

The Joy of Vegan Baking 

The Vegan Table

Color Me Vegan

Vegan’s Daily Companion

The 30-Day Vegan Challenge

The Joyful Vegan

Homemade, Vegan, and Zero Waste Online Cooking Class

Watch, eat, or cook along with me — cookbook author, cooking instructor, and joyful vegan — Colleen Patrick-Goudreau as I show you how to create the most delicious, nutritious, plant-based recipes from scratch!
 

Register today to learn to make:

  • Homemade Plant-Based Milks (soy and almond)
  • Homemade Tortillas (flour and corn)
  • Homemade Seitan (juicy and delicious)

*recipes are subject to change due to availability of ingredients

The classes are fun, interactive, and live in real-time! This means, I will see you, you will see all the other participants, and you will see me cooking in my kitchen and answering your questions. In addition:

  • With my multi-camera set-up, you can watch the class with a split screen: me talking on one side and the food demonstration on the other
  • You receive all the recipes in advance of the class
  • You receive access to our private Facebook group to interact with each other before and after class
  • You receive a recording of our class within 24 hours of the end of the class

(Patreon supporters receive 10% off; check your Patreon account for your discount code.)

ONCE YOU REGISTER:

  • You will receive a confirmation page and an email containing directions for linking to the class through Zoom, our recipe packet, plus guidelines for having the best virtual experience possible!
  • If you cook along with me, just have everything prepped in advance!

https://www.colleenpatrickgoudreau.com/irish-soda-bread-vegan-recipe/

Minestrone Soup with Kale {Recipe}

 

Homemade Plant-Based Milks

Plant-based milks were the original disruptor to the dairy industry until coronavirus came along, knocking cow’s milk off its already shaky legs. As dairy operations are dumping milk and consumers are finding empty supermarket shelves, people are cooking from scratch more than ever. While commercial plant milks are faring well during this pandemic, making plant milks at home is even more economical and sustainable, and the basic ingredients may already be in your cupboards.

They cost less, have less (or no) packaging, and can be flavored or sweetened to suit your taste. Zero-waste and plastic-free. It’s a win-win!

Different types of milk vary in terms of taste and texture, so if you don’t like one, try another. All plant-based milks are interchangeable for drinking, baking, or adding to coffee/tea, though some are creamier than others. Oat, almond, cashew, and soy are the creamiest, with rice milk being the thinnest.

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ALMOND OR CASHEW MILK
Used widely in the Middle Ages in regions stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to East Asia, almond milk has long been valued for its ability to keep better than animal’s milk, which has a short shelf life. The same process for almond milk can be used for other nuts, such as cashews and hazelnuts.

Ingredients

1½ cups raw (not roasted) almonds or cashews
4 cups cold water (use less water for thicker, creamier milk)
Pinch of salt (optional, but it enhances the flavor)
Optional ingredients such as vanilla extract, cocoa powder, dates, maple syrup, agave, etc. 

Directions

Soak the almonds in water for a minimum of an hour or up to 24 hours. Soaking is optional for cashews, though they will yield more milk if you soak them for at least 30 minutes in hot water.

After soaking the nuts, discard the water. Add the almonds or cashews and the 4 cups of water to a blender. Add other ingredients such as vanilla extract or cocoa powder, if desired, and blend well on high speed. Optionally, you can sweeten the milk with your favorite sweetener (dates, sugar, maple syrup, agave, etc.).

If making almond milk, you’ll want to strain the mixture with a cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or fine sieve/strainer over a large bowl. This isn’t really necessary with cashews. 

Refrigerate for up to 5 days in an airtight container. Give a little shake before serving. 

Yield: 4 cups

[envira-gallery id="9227"]

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OAT MILK
Rolled, quick-cooking, even steel-cut will work. Oat milk can become gummy (which is why it’s so effective at combating high cholesterol), so be sure to use cold water and avoid over-blending.

Ingredients
1 cup oats
4 cups cold water (use less water for thicker, creamier milk)
Pinch of salt (optional, but it enhances the flavor)
Optional ingredients such as vanilla extract, cocoa powder, dates, maple syrup, agave, etc. 

Directions

Soak the oats in water for at least 30 minutes or overnight. After soaking, drain the water from the oats, and rinse well with cold water. 

Add fresh cold water and oats to a blender, and blend just until smooth. As with the nut milks, you can add liquid or dry sweeteners or other flavors at this time, but be careful not to over-blend the oats.

Strain the milk using a cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or sieve/strainer over a bowl. Refrigerate for up to 5 days in an airtight container. 

Yield: 4 cups

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RICE MILK
By now, you’re getting the idea that you just need grain/nut/seed/bean + water to make delicious, nutritious milks. 

Ingredients

3/4 cup uncooked long grain brown or white rice
4 cups water (use less water for thicker, creamier milk)
Pinch of salt (optional, but it enhances the flavor)

Optional ingredients such as vanilla extract, cocoa powder, dates, maple syrup, agave, etc. 

Directions

Soak rice in 2 cups very hot (not boiling water) for 2 hours. The rice should be soft at the end of 2 hours. Drain and add to a blender. 

Add the 4 cups of water, salt, and any additional ingredients. Blend well. Taste for sweetness and adjust accordingly. Strain using a cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or sieve/strainer. 

Yield: 4 cups

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SOY MILK
Possibly the oldest of the bunch is soy milk, which originated in China thousands of years ago and was used long before we have written records to document the precise “day of discovery.” You can certainly make soy milk without a machine, but it is oodles easier to invest in a simple soy milk maker. (Here’s my favorite.) You’ll make back your investment in no time with the amount of delicious, nutty milk you will make. 

Though water is really the only beverage we have a physiological need for (beyond our own human milk when we’re young), it is certainly convenient and tasty to be able to make creamy, nutrient-rich milk from nuts, grains, legumes, and seeds. No packaging, no additives, no pregnant cow required. It’s a win-win during times of crisis or anytime. 

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLANT MILK? LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW!

 

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Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is an author whose topics include animal agriculture, animal protection, and plant-based eating. She has written seven books, including several cookbooks, is a regular contributor to National Public Radio and LiveKindly, and has published letters and commentaries in The New York Times, The Economist, and The Christian Science Monitor. 

*Photos by Marie Laforêt

Homemade Flour Tortillas (Vegan Recipe)

I’m no “survivalist,” but I do know how to whip up a number of staples from scratch, and for that I am grateful.

Tortillas are something I make from scratch fairly regularly since becoming zero waste, but mostly corn tortillas made from masa flour. However, at my recent visit to the Food Mill for my dried bulk pantry items (beans, grains, flour, sunflower seeds — for the squirrels!), I forgot to get masa.

We make a LOT of beans in our house, and after making a beautiful pressure-cooker pot of chipotle pinto beans, I was jonesing to pair them with tortillas.

No masa? No problem.

It was time to perfect my flour tortilla skills, and I think I nailed it.

RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE FLOUR TORTILLAS

Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup HOT water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use olive)

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt.
  2. Stir in the water and oil. You might start mixing with a wooden, but it’s oodles easier to just use your hands. Get those hands dirty!
  3. If you find the dough is sticky, sprinkle in some more flour; if it’s too dry and not forming a ball, add a smidge more water. You want a nice smooth ball of dough.
  4. Turn the ball onto a floured surface, and knead about 10 or 12 times. Let  it rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 portions. Begin shaping each one into a round disc, then on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 7-inch circle.
  6. Spray a little oil into a nonstick skillet, and cook each tortilla over medium heat until lightly browned, 1 minute on each side. The subsequent tortillas will take less time once the pan is well heated.

Yes, you can freeze these beauties in a sealed package, but I think you’ll find you’ll eat them up before you have a chance!

ENJOY, and let me know what you think! (Also, don’t forget to check out the Quick and Easy Meals recipes for my famous No Queso Quesadillas. Now you can do so with these homemade tortillas!

5 Zero-Waste Gifts of Affection (Romantic or Platonic)

Having days marked out on our calendars — whether it’s Valentine’s Day or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday — to celebrate the people we love in our lives is a good thing, so make it whatever you want. 

Here are a few ideas for romantic / platonic gift ideas that are waste-free, vegan, and meaningful. 

#1 FLOWERS AND PLANTS 

Growing flowers and shipping them around the world has a huge carbon footprint. If you can find locally grown flowers where you are, then that’s your best option. If not, consider buying a plant or tree from a local nursery that can be kept and loved as a house plant or planted in the ground in the spring. If you’d still like to buy flowers, consider a sustainable online retailer like Bouqs.com that wraps flowers in paper (not plastic) and features the farmers they source their flowers from. 

#2 CONSUMABLE GIFTS 

With chocolate — as with many things grown commercially and intensively — there are many considerations — such as how it’s produced in terms of environmental impacts, human rights, animal exploitation, so make sure you’re purchasing something that reflects your values. My favorite chocolate brands are

  • Endangered Species (best hazelnut chocolate spread / vegan nutella ever!)
  • Tcho (which is a local chocolate maker and works with farmers directly)
  • AlterEco and
  • Theo

They’re all packaged in foil and paper, which means I can recycle the foil and compost the paper (and tell my gift recipient to to do the same).

Alternatively, check to see if you can get chocolate in bulk. It might be little chocolate candies or even chocolate chips you can add to a nice glass jar you have on hand, or look for a tin of chocolate pieces, cocoa powder, or vegan / plant-based hot chocolate mixes (or make your own with cocoa powder and sugar!). 

–>glass and aluminum are the two materials I still purchase (in a limited way). They’re both still considered valuable in the marketplace, and so they’re properly recycled and then used again to make more glass and more aluminum (whereas plastic is not). 

So, in that vein, what about gifting someone a beautiful bottle (or tin) of…

  • olive oil
  • tea
  • wine or
  • scotch

#3 HOMEMADE MEALS

Now, obviously I’m going to recommend homemade meals because…there is NOTHING more personal than making a beautiful meal for someone that you shopped for, prepped for, and made yourself (and because I have over 500 recipes in my cookbooks to guide you! It’s just so much more meaningful to cook a meal for someone over going to a restaurant. (In The Vegan Table, I have recipes and menus specific to romantic meals, and of course The Joy of Vegan Baking is chock full of sweet desserts.)

And if you want to think in terms of aphrodisiac foods, consider the sensory characteristics of the foods you choose: how they look, sound, smell, taste, or feel. 

 –> VISUAL: Red, for instance, has always been associated with passion, so choose beets, cherries, cranberries, and pomegranates. Asparagus has been enjoyed as an aphrodisiac because of its (ahem!) shape. 

 –> TEXTURE: Agave nectar, derived from a cactus-like plant, oozes a thick sweet syrup. The romantic effect of champagne has more to do with the bubbles than with the alcohol. Think mouthfeel (something creamy, something succulent, something scintillating.) I’ll let you use your imagination to come up with ideas.

 –> HEAT: Spicy foods do heat up the body, so consider something like my Spicy Red Bell Pepper Soup (which is both red and spicy) and a slice of my Mexican Chocolate Cake – both of which are in my book The 30-Day Vegan Challenge

–>BLOOD FLOW: Someone has to say this: a healthy body has everything to do with blood flowing unhindered to all of the organs in our body! Plant foods — vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, mushrooms, herbs, and spices — are all aphro-di-si-a-cal foods, because they increase blood flow. Meat and animal products, on the other hand, constrict the blood vessels, decreasing blood flow, and thus potentially decreasing the libido. Know what I mean, jelly bean?

#4 HANDMADE CARDS / NOTES

What would a commercial greeting card say that you couldn’t write yourself? Grab some paper or a blank greeting card you have at home, a marker, and get writing. Or send an email. Just take the time to tell your loved one(s) you appreciate them!

#5 EXPERIENCES NOT THINGS

Go to the theatre, a sports game, a bowling alley, the movies. Go on a picnic, a hike, a walk. Go create some memories. 

Just don’t hurt anyone (including animals and our earth), keep it simple, keep in meaningful, make it special. 

I’D LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU DO TO MAKE YOUR LOVED ONES FEEL SPECIAL, ZERO-WASTE, AND COMPASSIONATE FOR ALL!

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