Peanut Butter, Chocolate & Cherry Granola Bites

Jess at Healthy Exposures posted these last week, and I knew right away I had to try them. I made a few changes, just based on what I had on hand and on my taste preferences, such as subbing brown rice syrup for the molasses, as I’m not big on molasses. You can see her original recipe here.

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 C quick oats

2 Tbs brown rice flour

2 Tbs wheat germ

1/2 C peanuts, chopped

1/4 C sunflower seeds

1/4 C chia seeds

2 Tbs flax seeds

1/2 C dried cherries, chopped

1/2 C dark chocolate chips

1/2 a banana

2 Tbs brown rice syrup

3 Tbs almond milk

3 Tbs peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a mini-muffin pan (genius idea, Jess)! Set aside. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, wheat germ, peanuts, seeds, cherries, and chocolate chips.

In a smaller bowl, mash the banana with a fork add the syrup, almond milk, peanut butter, and vanilla. Whisk thoroughly and combine well with the dry ingredients.

Fill the muffin cups with the mixture, pressing down firmly with a spoon. I didn’t fill them quite to the top, but you can—they won’t overflow when they bake. Depending on the size of muffins cups you use, the number you get will be different; I got 15.

Bake 15 minutes, or until the tops turn a golden brown. These make such a great little snack and I imagine, a heck of a lot healthier than store-bought granola bars. As an alternative, you can use a 8″ baking pan and then cut them into squares after they bake. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy them, especially since they’re so simple to make.

 

 

 

Feast On This!

Have You Discovered Happy Cow, Yet?


Happy Cow is a fabulous vegetarian/vegan resource to locate veg-friendly restaurants, meet other veggie-mites, recipes, and more. Join for free, set up a profile, chat, partake in forums, learn more about being a herbivore than you ever dreamed possible! When traveling, it’s a handy resource for finding veg-friendly restaurants in a new city or town. It proved helpful while I was in California and needing to find places I could eat at. Sign up for their newsletter to keep on top of veggie news, updates, and even contests and giveaways. Gotta love that!


While You’re At It . . . Visit Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine


The PCRM is a non-profit organization headed by Dr. Neal Barnard and 11 advisory board members from around the country. They are supported by subscribers to their quarterly publication, Good Medicine. The PCRM works toward finding preventative solutions through research for cancer, diabetes, and other conditions, while promoting alternatives to animal testing and other unethical testing. Encouraging a vegetarian/vegan diet, they have a great online Free download-ableVegetarian Starter Kit and lots of other literature and fact sheets. They have a great collection of articles for vegetarian/vegan information—just a click away. Check out The Veganizer, a helpful chart with suggestions on how to veganize typical meals. And be sure to read about the lawsuit the PCRM has just brought against the government for deceptive language used on the recent dietary guidelines.

In a lawsuit filed this week against the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, PCRM says the Dietary Guidelines are clear about what to eat more of—vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, for example—but deliberately hide the foods Americans should eat less of. The Guidelines use biochemical terms, such as “saturated fat” and “cholesterol” instead of specific food terms “meat” and “cheese.” This deliberate omission can be traced to the USDA’s close ties to the meat and dairy industries, including fast-food companies such as McDonald’s.

-source

A contribution of $20 or more gets you a subscription to Good Medicine which is packed full of research issues, prevention, and nutrition—a worthwhile investment.


And Don’t Forget to Check-in with the Incredible Progress of the Plant-Based Study at

The Plant Rx!


You can’t argue with these results! Just over halfway through the study, participants are continuing to have amazing results from a plant-based diet. After 30 days, one participant’s cholesterol level dropped 49 points! How’s that for results?!  Stop by and see for yourself and send a link to your friends and family—it might just be what they need to see to change their own diets.


 

“Meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health as tobacco use… It’s time we looked into holding the meat producers and fast-food outlets legally accountable.”
-Neal Barnard

Strawberry-Pear Tarts

For about a month, I’ve had some puff pastry in freezer because I accidentally bought it, thinking I was getting phyllo sheets. So, instead of letting it continue to sit and freeze, I decided to make these tarts. Now, even though puff pasty is vegan, it isn’t the healthiest stuff out there and we probably shouldn’t gorge on this stuff on a regular basis—vegan or not. It’s a treat and that’s ok. And these treats you’ll love—not too sweet and done before you know it.

INGREDIENTS:

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed

1 pear, peeled, sliced thin and cored

6 strawberries, sliced

2 Tbs brown sugar

2-1/2 Tbs Earth Balance, melted and divided

1/3 C walnuts, chopped

4-4″ tart pans

DIRECTIONS:

To thaw puff pastry, remove from bag and place on counter. It will thaw in about 40 minutes at room temperature. Preheat oven to 400. Unfold pastry sheet and place the bottoms of the tart pans on it, cutting around the circles.

Place bottom of pan and cut out dough back into the tart shell. In a medium bowl, combine the pears, strawberries, brown sugar, walnuts, and two tablespoons of melted Earth Balance.

Divide the fruit mixture evenly among the 4 tart pans. Roll out the extra dough and using a cookie cutter, cut out a heart or other beautiful shape you wish to make. Place on top of each tart. Brush the cut-out with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of melted Earth Balance.

Bake for 20-22 minutes and enjoy!

Vegan Shepards Pie

This is actually easier to make than you would think. You can nuke 2 large potatoes, or use frozen ones (thawed, of course). I used edamame for some added protein, but feel free to use peas if your prefer. Easier, healthier, comfort food.

INGREDIENTS:

1 bag Boca Crumbles

1 small onion, diced

1-1/2 C cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 C edamame, thawed if frozen

1 C vegetable broth

2 C mashed potatoes

1/4 C almond milk

2 tsp dried chives

1 tsp dried parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

1/2 C vegan mozzarella, shredded

Earth Balance margarine

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet heat the vegetable broth and add the onions and Boca crumbles. Cover and let simmer over a low-medium heat, season with salt and pepper; stirring occasionally. After about 10 minutes, add the mushrooms and edamame. Cover again for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the potatoes, milk, mozzarella, chives, parsley, and garlic in a mixer and cream until slightly smooth.

Lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish with a little Earth Balance.  Pour the Boca mixture into the bottom of the pan and spread out evenly. Next, layer on the mashed potato mixture and spread evenly over the top.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Red Cabbage Slaw with Truffle Dressing

I’ve had this recipe in mind for a couple of weeks since we received a red cabbage from Green Buffalo Food. Every time I opened the fridge, it would remind me that I have to make something with it, and soon. Even after two weeks (and being organic) I was shocked that it was still in great condition. Whew!


INGREDIENTS:

Slaw:

1 red cabbage, sliced, then chopped

1 bell pepper, any variety, sliced thin

6-8 green onions, sliced

Dressing:

1/2 C Vegenaise

3 Tbs Tofutti sour cream

1 Tbs nutritional yeast

1 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp truffle oil

1/2 tsp celery salt

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1/8 black pepper

1 Tbs water

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and green onions. In a smaller bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and coat well. Enjoy!

Cheeze Swag is Awesome: Galaxy Nutritional Foods

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to taste and review rice and soy cheezes from Galaxy Nutritional Foods thanks to Sharon at Sharon Kitchens (and of course, to GNF)! I received full sizes of the following: Rice American Flavor slices, Rice Pepper Jack Flavor slices, Soy Mozzarella Flavor block, Rice Cheddar Flavor block, and Vegan Grated Topping. I’ve used the Grated Topping many times before on pastas and when making pesto. Galaxy Nutritional Foods has been around since 1980 and feels very strongly about providing tasty products made with natural ingredients. Their mission is also to help the environment and developed their Eat Green for Body & Earth Program where they take seriously, three things: Keeping Ingredients Organic, Reducing Their Carbon Footprint and Doing Their Part at the Office. Check out their Green Initiatives.

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PEPPER JACK FLAVOR VEGAN RICE SLICES

Pepper Jack flavored slices were a first for me. These dairy, gluten and soy-free slices contain 2 grams of fat per slice, no saturated fat, 5 grams of carbs, and 120 mg of sodium. I made a panini using a slice . . .

And even though it didn’t really melt too much, the flavor was quite delicious and had the perfect amount of seasoning; ideal for a panini. I was impressed.

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AMERICAN FLAVOR VEGAN RICE SLICES

I use these types of cheezes a lot, but this particular brand is new for me. I have always used Tofutti brand and I like the taste just a smidge more than these, however, with that said, I will be converting to Galaxy Nutritional Foods and here’s why: 1.) These slices are soy-free. I still enjoy some soy, but I think it ought to be in moderation—especially for  women. 2.) GNF slices have 2 grams of fat, whereas Tofutti American flavor slices have 6 grams. 3.) GNF has 0 grams of saturated fat where the others have 3 grams. 4.) Tofutti has 290 mg of sodium, compared to GNF’s 120! That’s a big deal, too! GNF does have 5 grams of carbs, where Tofutti has 2, but for me, the other nutritional facts outweigh a couple extra grams of carbs. These slices are perfect for sandwiches, and for my favorite Boca chick patty sandwich.

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MOZZARELLA FLAVOR SOY VEGAN BLOCK

I decided to make pizzas using this cheese. I often use Daiya or Vegan Rella cheezes because they’re soy-free and I like the tastes. Vegan Rella, however, can be sticky and hard to use when it’s shredded. All of these cheezes, including this one from Galaxy Nutritional Foods, melts quite nicely. And the GNF shreds great.

I just wasn’t nuts above the flavor. In fact, it lacked a lot of flavor. Perhaps it’s the soy—it seems I prefer their rice-based options more. The texture is great though–I have no problem with that; very much like real cheese.

But here’s what can be a game-changer for you: Again, GNF comes out on top when we’re talking about nutritional facts. 1.) GNF has 3 grams of fat, half that of Daiya. 2.) 60 calories (30 fat calories) and Daiya has 90 calories (60 from fat) 3.) Daiya has 2 grams of saturated fat, while GNF has .5! 4.) Again, GNF rocks with their lower sodium content at 150 mg whereas Daiya as 280 mg per serving. 5.) GNF has 6 grams of carbs and Daiya has 7. So overall, it may come down to the soy and whether or not you prefer to avoid it.

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CHEDDAR FLAVOR RICE VEGAN BLOCK

Today, I made nachos with the Cheddar Flavor Rice Vegan Block. This would also work with quesadillas, or a grilled cheeze sandwich, too. Like the Mozzarella flavor, this one shreds well and I like the texture.

I nuked the nachos for about 45 seconds and it melted well. However, like the Mozzarella block, it lacked flavor. I know it’s not easy making fake cheese taste like the real deal, but I prefer the taste of other vegan cheddars. BUT . . .we have to look at nutritional facts. Again, GNF scored mega points with that. Total fat is again 3 grams with .5 grams of saturated fat. The sodium content is higher in this one (compared to the Mozzarella) at 240mg—but still under other vegan cheddar brands.

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VEGAN GRATED TOPPING

I’ve been using GNF’s Vegan Grated Topping for a while now. The texture is great and I enjoy the flavor. It’s ideal for pesto, on pasta, and anything else you’d need Parmesan for.

Overall, I was greatly pleased with these Galaxy Nutritional Foods products and I am glad I had the opportunity to try them out. I’m definitely going to be buying the rice slices–I think they’re tasty and much better for you than other brands.

All-Natural, Vegan Dog Treats

Sorry, these may not look appetizing to you, but your dog will love them! Have you ever looked at the ingredients in some commercial dog treats? They are packed full of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and animal products. They’re pricey, too. Save your money (and your dog’s health) by making your own—they’re so simple. Our dog, Moe (a 90-lb lap dog) LOVES peanut butter and as much fun as it can be to watch him try to lick it off the roof of his mouth, biscuit treats are a much simpler (and less messy) alternative. These would be cute cut into the shape of dog biscuits, but since we usually only give him small treats at a time, making these bit-sized ones were ideal. The recipe is from All Natural Dog Treat, offering lots of different recipes, including a grain-free peanut butter recipe. These treats will keep at room temperature for 2-3 weeks, or 6 weeks in the refrigerator. They are also freeze-able and . . . Moe-Approved.

Sorry about the duck, folks. But Moe knows we don’t eat meat and that his birthday present—turned 4 earlier this month—is just for pretend. :)

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 C whole wheat flour

1-1/2 C white flour

1/2 C organic, all-natural peanut butter

1 C water

2 Tbs oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Using a mixer, combine the water, oil and peanut butter; cream until mixed well. Add the flours one cup at a time. You will have a crumbly mixture. This is where Moe poked his head into the kitchen, fully aware that I was making something with his most favorite and beloved ingredient. He stuck by my side in the kitchen until The Husband took him for a walk.

Press together tightly to form a hard ball.

I then divided the dough in half so that it’s easier to work with. Just work a little quickly as the other half of the dough will start to get a bit drier. Roll out to a 1/4″ thickness and cut into 3-4″ shapes. I used a pizza cutter to make little squares. Obviously, feel free to make any size or shape that your pup’s little heart desires.

This is just half the dough—I ended up with twice this much. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Hopefully, the peanut butter smell in the house isn’t torturing Moe, but at least he gets these all-natural treats to make up for it!

America’s Top Ten New Sandwiches-Veganized! And my Contribution

300th Post! Woo-hoo!

Last month, Endless Simmer did an article on their top ten new sandwiches, and as you can guess, none of them were vegetarian, let alone vegan. Big surprise. So Marly of Namely Marly, posed a fantastic challenge to food bloggers, to veganize these cancer-licious sandwiches. I rarely turn down a challenge to veganize a recipe, so I went with #8: Crispy Drunken Chicken Sandwich. Check out my veganized version as well as another version from Veggie Num Num. Thanks, Marly for this really fun challenge and putting it all together. I’m excited to see the rest of the healthier versions of all the sandwiches in the coming weeks!

Feast On This!

Foodies for Farmers


Lisa over at Lisa’s Food on the Move gathered a bunch of vegetarian/vegan food bloggers (including yours truly) to put together a collaborative 132-pg digital cookbook called Foodies for Farmers. All proceeds from the cookbook goes to Farm Aid which raises funds to support family run agriculture and make sure that they stay that way. For a minimum suggested donation of $10 you can download this fabulous vegetarian/vegan cookbook that is packed full of amazing recipes from my world famous party cheese ball to a raw Brazilian fig torte. This is a great way to support a worthy organization–through food! A big thank you to Lisa for putting the time, effort and love into this great cause!


Check out the Results at The Plant Rx!


A few weeks ago, I told you about The Plant Rx and their 60-day Plant-Based Health Study. Well, they are halfway through the study and so far, the results are astounding. I can’t say I’m totally surprised though because I know the vegan diet can cure—yes, cure—many chronic illnesses. One participant was pre-diabetic when entering the study, but  now he is in normal range. He’s also lost 17 lbs . . . without exercise! So far, cholesterol levels are plummeting and they’re only half way through! This has been a great study to watch and read the participants’ blogs have been really fun. It’s really wonderful seeing these folks lives’ change and read about how great they feel. Way to go!


Doctor Yourself and The Gerson Therapy

I had ordered my very own copies of The Gerson Therapy by Charlotte Gerson and Doctor Yourself by Andrew Saul, Ph.D.,  both featured in Food Matters. Gerson’s book details a nutritional program for cancer and other illnesses and has been proven to cure cancers when western/conventional treatments fail. Doctor Yourself is about how nutritional therapy has been proven to treat just about every health condition out there from A-Z. Literally. It’s an A-Z guide from acid reflux to vaccinations. Ok, A-V. It also provides tips and tools on everything from Saul’s Super Remedy to A Crash Course in Vegetarian Cooking. I’m sure as I delve through these books, I’ll be sharing what I learn with all of you. But don’t wait for me. Buy your own copies!


 

“Ham and Eggs: a days work for a chicken; a life time commitment for a pig.
-Author unknown

Cuban Black Bean and Potato Soup

This comes from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times and was pretty easy to make. I altered a couple of things and it made a comforting, hearty meal.

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium onion, diced (1-1/2 C)

1 small red bell pepper, diced (1 C)

1 small green bell pepper, diced (1 C)

6 cloves garlic, minced

6 C cooked black beans, (I used canned–drained) divided

3 medium potatoes, diced (2-1/2 C)

2 Tbs white wine vinegar

1 Tbs cumin

1 Tbs fresh oregano leaves (I used dried)

1 bay leaf (I left this out)

1/2 tsp salt

Green onions, sliced for a garnish

Optional: vegan cheddar, Tofutti sour cream, salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, saute the bell peppers, onions and garlic in a bit of water or vegetable broth for 2-3 minutes.

Transfer to a blender (or food processor) and blend until smooth.

Add 3 of the 6 cups of black beans, as well as 6-7 cups of water. I think a low-sodium vegetable broth would be great, too.  Puree until the mixture resembles a thick soup. I didn’t have enough room in my food processor for all of this, so I pureed what I could, transferred half the mixture back to the soup pot, then pureed the rest with the rest of the water. Transfer to the soup pot and add the rest of the beans, potatoes, vinegar and seasonings. Bring to a simmer; reduce to medium-low heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish each serving with green onions and/or other optional ingredients. Enjoy!

Raspberry Cake (and don’t give away your heart . . .pan)!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yesterday as The Husband and I were moseying through an antique shop, he asked me, “Did you get me anything for Valentine’s Day?” Having not even thought about this (card company) holiday, I truthfully answered, “Uh, no.” He suddenly looked relieved. “Good! I didn’t get you anything!” Frankly, I was relieved, too. I told him I’d bake him something. So when I got to that today I realized I no longer had my red, ceramic, heart-shaped pan anymore. I think I Goodwilled it because I never used it. I was quite disappointed, as it would have been perfect for this cake. Oh well. The sentiment is still there! This recipe is essentially the same as my muffin recipe from a year ago, but I used raspberries instead of blueberries.

INGREDIENTS:

Cake:

1/4 C Earth Balance margarine

1/2 C apple sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1 C sugar

2 C flour

1 Tbs baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 C almond milk

2 C fresh or frozen raspberries (If using frozen, thaw and drain liquid)

Crumb topping:

1/4 C sugar

1/8 C flour

3/4 tsp cinnamon

2 Tbs Earth Balance butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Using an electric mixer, combine all the muffin ingredients, except the raspberries. Mix well. Fold in the raspberries.

To make the crumb topping, combine all the crumb topping ingredients in a bowl and mix well using a fork.

Lightly grease an 8×8″ baking pan. You can also use a bundt pan, just remember to put the crumb topping on first, before pouring in the batter.

Top with crumb topping and bake for 30-33 minutes.

Let cool 5-10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Feast On This!

If there is anything that you read on my blog today, I hope it’s this post. I just watched the documentary, Food Matters on, well . . . food and how it really does matters—more than you think. We all know there is food out there that is bad for us, and that there is food out there that is good for us. Yet, people are still eating these bad foods, with a few good ones sprinkled in and left wondering, why are we so sick? We go to the doctor to prescribe a pill (with lots of side effects) that may or may not take care of the symptoms, not the problem itself. Our reliance on drugs and western medicine is killing us. It’s killing those we love.

I was seriously so blown away, I was practically in tears. I can honestly say I have never been more moved by a film, than this one. Food Matters, focuses on how our food is directly correlated to disease prevention, both chronic and deadly. And what’s sad, is how that research and education has been grossly ignored by western medicine; even shunned. And you ask why? Because eating a plant-based diet and taking vitamins doesn’t make the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies any money. This 80 minute documentary shows us how our diet of plant-based foods and vitamins can and has reversed illnesses such as depression, diabetes, cancer, heart disease . . . the list goes on.  From the film via their website:

“Food Matters’ the film was originally created to help James’ father overcome Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression & Anxiety (read the full story). From that one success a wave of enthusiasm for the film followed and it has now been seen by hundreds of thousands of people in 9 different languages. ‘Food Matters’ discusses:

  • How to use food as medicine
  • Who needs vitamins?
  • Is organic better?
  • How safe is our food?
  • Natural treatments for lowering Cholesterol
  • Foods that fight Anxiety and Depression
  • Natural therapies for Cancer
  • Which drugs might do more harm than good?
  • The best ways to detox, lose weight and keep it off!

It was a truly powerful film. Many will balk and say “If it’s so great, why haven’t we all heard about it?” well, they explain that too. Being healthy, doesn’t make money for those in the “health” industry. Just watch it. Don’t knock it ’til you see it. Spend the $4.95 on their website to watch it online. Get it on Netflix, like I did. It’s a game-changer, folks.

(and while I’m at it, check out the trailer for Forks Over Knives, another amazing food documentary coming out May 6th–my birthday! I can’t wait to this one, too!)


“Good health makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t make a lot of dollars.”

-Dr. Andrew Saul, Therapeutic Nutritional Specialist, Food Matters

“Food Matters is 80 minutes long.  The best 80 minutes that you will ever spend viewing a movie. The information in this documentary could save your life and possibly the lives your loved ones.”

-Be a Healthier You

“I am inspired. I am motivated. I am feeling high after watching this documentary, even though it’s the fifth time I’ve seen it.”

-Kristin’sRawBlogspot.com

“Anyone who is serious about their health needs to see this stunning film.”

-Christiane Northrup, MD, author of the Women’s Wisdom Series

 

Chickpea Burgers with “Ricotta” Sauce

I saw this recipe in the January issue of Shape magazine and knew it’d be a great one to make. I had to make some alterations to veganize it and to just make the process easier. The recipe is for 4 burgers, but next time, I’ll make 3. They were a little wimpy as 4 and since there’s 3 in my little vegan family, it’ll just work out better. The recipe also called for panko breadcrumbs, but I forgot to pick some up, so I went with regular bread crumbs. Not a big deal, but I’ll seek those out next time, too. These are pretty simple to throw together and dinner is ready in under 30 minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

1-15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 C chopped parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp Ancho chili powder

Black pepper

2 tsp egg-replacer powder + 2-1/2 Tbs water

1/4 C +2 Tbs panko or regular bread crumbs

1/3 C ricotta (I had some of my go-to tofu ricotta in the freezer)

2 Tbs plain nondairy yogurt

Whole wheat buns

Cucumber, sliced

Tomato, sliced

Spinach leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Place the top oven rack 8-10 inches from the broiler heat. Preheat oven broiler to high. In a small bowl, whisk together egg-replacer powder and water; set aside. In a large bowl mash the chickpeas a little with a fork; add the parsley, garlic, and spices; season with black pepper.

Stir in the egg-replacer and 2 Tbs of the panko or bread crumbs. Pour remaining bread crumbs onto a plate and prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray. As you shape into 3 (or 4) patties, dredge them in the bread crumbs and place onto the baking sheet.

(I also should have chopped the parsley more)

Broil for 4-5 minutes per side. Meanwhile, combine the ricotta and yogurt in a food processor or blender.

Serve burgers on the buns with the ricotta sauce, tomato, spinach, and cucumber. Enjoy!

 

Almond Cheeze Log

This fluffy, mild cheeze is outstanding. I originally posted the recipe for it back in December. I’ve made it a few times since then, and this time, made a log out of it and brought it to my neighbor’s Super Bowl Party. It was a hit. I use the cheese as a pizza topping, sandwich spread, and pasta topper. Just this morning I made breakfast tarts using it. I recommend making a double batch at a time since it does take a while—but I guarantee you’ll love it!

The guys were (almond) Cheeseheads for the day!

INGREDIENTS:

1 C blanched almonds

1/4 C lemon juice

3 Tbs olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled (I used minced)

1-1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecloth (a thin cotton napkin works great, too)

Toasted walnuts or pecans

Agave nectar

DIRECTIONS:

First, to blanch the almonds, add them to a small sauce pan and fill with water, just to cover the almonds. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pinch the skins between your finger and the skins will slide right off. Dry them off well.

Place almonds in a medium bowl and cover with 3″ of water; soak for 24 hours. Drain and rinse twice with running water. Next, puree the almonds, lemon juice, 3 Tbs olive oil, garlic, salt and 1/2 C of cold water in a food processor until smooth.  Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon mixture into cheesecloth.

Bring the corners and sides of the cheesecloth together and twist around the cheese, squeezing out any excess moisture. Secure with a rubber band. I have found that a cloth napkin works really well for this—even better than cheesecloth.

Chill 12 hours or overnight. Discard any excess liquid—I squeezed a little more out. After it has chilled, spoon it onto a layer of plastic wrap and form a roll, or log.

Unwrap and roll it out onto a plate. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts or pecans on top and then drizzle with agave. Serve with crackers or Grannie Smith apple slices. I love this recipe (from Vegetarian Times) and even though you have to soak and chill a lot, it’s worth it.

My First Guest Blogger! Vegan, Wheat-free, and Nearly Sugar-free Blueberry Muffins

I’m very excited to introduce you to my first guest blogger, Kerrie Flanagan, director of The Northern Colorado Writers and freelance writer-extraordinaire. Kerrie has been a great sport when testing out some of my vegan creations. Some have been great, others not so much. She’ll even manage to smile when choking down one of the not-so-much ones. Thanks for being here, Kerrie!

Kerrie and I

I am thrilled to be the guest blogger today for my good friend and roof buddy (long, but fun story) April and take a break from working on my writers conference. When it comes to food, April and I agree on a few things; we both like to cook, we both want to provide healthy meals for our family and we both like to experiment in the kitchen. But when it comes to what we eat, we are on different sides of the fence. I am not a Vegan. I do eat meat (but I buy it from a local rancher and it is all free-range, grass-fed beef) and dairy. But I have the utmost respect for April and other Vegans. I love sampling her amazing food and trying some her recipes on my family.

So why am I here on the Epicurean Vegan? (besides the obvious, that I want to help my friend) it is because of my teenage daughter. Her acupuncturist wanted her to go on an elimination diet. So for 6 weeks, Delaney was to avoid wheat, dairy products and refined sugar. This was not an easy task, but we are on week 6 and she is doing great. One of the biggest things she missed was baked goods. The dairy part was no problem, the wheat; a little more of a challenge, but the sugar free part; nearly impossible. I am happy to say though, I found a recipe for muffins with oat flour and made a few adjustments (with April’s help) to substitute the dairy products. Delaney gave them a thumbs up.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup oat flour

1 cup rolled oats

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3 Tbs honey (or 1/2 cup sugar if you want them sweeter)

2 tsp lemon zest (or 1/2 tsp. lemon juice)

1 tsp egg replacer + 2 Tbl water (whisk together)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup Almond milk

1 cup blueberries (thawed frozen, or fresh)

DIRECTIONS:

Combine everything except the blueberries in a large mixing bowl and mix with a whisk. Don’t use a mixer, as it will chop up the rolled oats.

Cover the bowl and set it aside for 10 minutes to allow the batter to thicken. Once complete, fold in the blueberries with a spoon. Grease a muffin pan with baking spray or use paper baking cups and fill 2/3 full with batter.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 15-20 minutes until  golden brown. Makes 12 muffins.
*These were a little crumbly straight out of the oven. Once they cooled they were fine. You might want to try increasing egg replacer a little bit.

Thai Green Curry Chickpea Burritos

When we were visiting my sister in Northern California recently, she made us these fabulous burritos. The ingredients are from Trader Joe’s, so I was sure to pick the items up before returning to Trader Joe’s-less Colorado. :( Taste of Thai makes a green curry paste  though that could be substituted in with some coconut milk. However, a sub for the Cumin and Chickpea mix also required for the recipe, was hard to locate. So if you’re lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, or have a generous relative to send you TJ loot, this recipe is for you. Are you listening, sis? ;)

INGREDIENTS:

1-12 oz jar Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce

1-8 oz pkg Cumin and Chili Chickpea mix

1 medium zucchini, sliced, then quartered

1-15 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

Olive oil

Flour tortillas

Optional: Tofutti sour cream, fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS:

I sauteed the zucchini and can of drained chickpeas for about 3-4 minutes. Add the bag of seasoned chickpeas and jarred curry sauce. Stir well to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 20-25 minutes.

Serve in a flour tortilla with sour cream and cilantro and enjoy!

Product Review: Vegan Dream Vegetarian Jerky

When I visited Never Felt Better Vegan Shop in Sacramento, I couldn’t resist buying some vegan jerky. This one is from Vegan Dream and set me back about $2.50. Vegan Dream has been around since 1997 and uses ingredients that are non-GMO. Their jerky products are also high in protein and preservative and fat free. According to their website, Vegan Dream’s jerky just took home the first place prize in The World’s Best Jerky Exhibition. They don’t specify which of their 4 flavors won, but I doubt it was the one I tried:  “Cowgirl.” I just wasn’t impressed. It was dried-out, not very chewy, and I just didn’t like the taste.  Just like with other vegan jerky I’ve tried, this one had a chocolate-like taste that doesn’t do it for me. It tastes weird. Perhaps their Original Hickory Pepper, Hot Chili Pepper, or Teriyaki flavors would fare better, but for now, I’m still on the hunt for delicious vegan jerky.

Open-Faced TVP Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries with Truffle Oil

I’ve been intrigued for some time now with TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) and so I bought some from the bulk section of my natural grocer’s. I pretty much winged it and found that the process of making a veggie burger is quite simple—not much of a mystery. I ended up with some delicious burgers that tasted fresh, flavorful, and home cooked. They have a meatloaf quality to them, so the Husband went with just ketchup on his. I went all out with spinach, a vegan cheese slice, tomato, avocado, and drizzled with vegan ranch dressing. I made 6 large patties, but feel free to halve the recipe, or even freeze the extra ones. And don’t forget . . . TVP contains the same amount of protein as meat and has no fat!

INGREDIENTS:

Burgers:

2 C TVP

2 C vegetable broth

3/4 C quick oats

1/2 C flour

1/2 C nutritional yeast

1 Tbs wheat germ

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp Ancho chili powder

1 tsp salt

2 Tbs ketchup

6 tsp egg replacer powder + 8 Tbs water

1/2 C onion, chopped fine

1/2 C green bell pepper, chopped fine

Other: “burger” fixings: tomato, avocado, lettuce/spinach, vegan ranch, cheese, etc.

Sweet Potato Fries:

1-2 medium sweet potato or yams. sliced into fries

Olive oil

Truffle oil

Celtic Sea Salt

DIRECTIONS:

For the burgers, boil the vegetable broth in a medium saucepan. Stir in the TVP, cover, and remove from the heat for 5 minutes.

Whisk together the egg replacer powder and water; set aside. Combine all the dry ingredients, onion, and bell pepper  in a large mixing bowl. Add the TVP, ketchup, and egg-replacer to the dry ingredients and combine well.

Shape into patties and place on a baking sheet that will fit in the fridge. Chill covered with plastic wrap for 30-90 minutes. I’d say the longer the better, to give some time to firm up. They won’t cook down much at all, so consider thickness as you make the patties.

This would be a good time to make the fries . . .see below.

Once the patties are ready, spray a flat skillet or pan with some cooking spray. You can also grill these over medium heat, but I didn’t want to mess with the grill.  About 5-7 minutes per side over medium heat.

Serve open-faced or on a bun with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

For the fries, combine them in a large bowl, drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1-2 teaspoons of truffle oil, and sprinkle generously with the sea salt. Layer onto a baking sheet lined with foil.

Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes. Check often, as they may need more or less time.

 

Feast On This!

Did You Watch Oprah?

On Tuesday, she aired the results of she and 378 of her staffers going vegan for a week. It was fascinating to watch, and great to see the results of many of the participants. A total of 444 pounds were lost, but 80-some were gained. Several staffers even plan to stick with it. On the show, was Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules and Kathy Freston, the Veganist. I was delighted of course that veganism made it all the way to Oprah-Land, but I was disappointed that there wasn’t more brought up about the ill-health effects of eating animal products; it focused only on animal welfare it seemed–which is great, too, but I think what is going to make an impact on most people, is how is it’s going to affect them–not the animal. I didn’t feel that it was an accurate portrayal of the vegan diet and all that it is about. Of course, that may not have been Oprah’s aim. I was actually surprised that Pollan seemed determined to put a damper on the vegan diet the whole time, yet I agreed with him that meat and dairy industries need to be reformed. I definitely plan on picking up Freston’s book though.

What did you think?


Make it a Vegan Super Bowl Party

Super Bowls parties are known for being packed with chicken wings, cheese dips and spread, but that doesn’t mean they have to be staples of the shindig. Ecorazzi lists their top 10 vegan Super Bowl foods. The Buffalo Tofu looks fabulous!

Other winning appetizers to bring: Party Cheese Ball, Crock Cheez, Stuffed Mushrooms, Cheez Platter, Cheddar & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip, 8-Layer Dip, Spring Rolls, Avocado Bruschetta,  or Spinach Dip!

One commercial you won’t see aired during the big game will be PETA’s attention-getting “veg-porn” ad, called “Veggie Love.” I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now because it’s been getting lots of internet views. I realize it’s all about getting attention, but I wonder if the money could have been spent in better ways—in a way that would have actually benefited animals and have a positive impact. I love PETA and respect what they do, but there are times I feel they shoot themselves in the foot once in a while.

What do you think of the ad?



“Vegetarian – that’s an old Indian word meaning “lousy hunter.”

-Andy Rooney

Chocolate Avocado Banana Bread

That’s right. Chocolate. Avocado. Banana. I figured since the Glazed Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes worked so well, why not give it a try with other stuff? I had two avocados a banana begging to be baked into something, so there you go. The Sixth Grader loves this bread and I have to make sure he doesn’t make a sandwich using it–he loves it that much. Unlike the cupcakes, you can taste the avocado, but for one, we love this green fruit over here and two, the taste is subtle. The chocolate really balances the flavors nicely. Now if the green color is off-putting, I suppose you can add about a 1/4 C of cocoa, but I kind of like the Grinchy green!

INGREDIENTS:

1 banana

2 avocados

1 C sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 C flour

2 Tbs canola oil

1 tsp lemon juice

1/8 C almond milk

1 C dark chocolate chips (Ghirardelli semi-sweet are vegan)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, mash the banana and avocado together. It will look like guacamole . . . yet smell like bananas. Stir in the canola oil and lemon juice.

Add the avocado/banana mixture and almond milk to the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Grease and flour a large loaf pan. You can also use an 8×8″ baking dish or even a bundt pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. The top will brown, but insert a knife in the middle to make sure it comes out clean before taking out. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan and slicing. Enjoy!

Product Review: Solterra Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pizza

First I saw “Vegan Cheese Pizza”, then I saw it’s made with daiya cheese and I knew, this pizza had to be mine. Well, mine and the kid’s. We are always on the lookout for vegan pizzas, but I think we’ve had pretty good luck so far with the Tofurky one. From Solterra, this gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free 8″ pizza will run you $4.99 at Whole Foods (and probably at least a buck cheaper in other places) and offers a unique way of cooking it. You leave the pizza in the packaging, just peel back the front/top paper to reveal a plastic window over the pizza.

At 450 degrees, place the pizza directly on the oven rack and bake for only about 5-7 minutes. After about 6 minutes, it didn’t look done, but I think it was–just was hard to tell through the plastic.

I ended up burning the edges quite a bit, so I just cut those off–the rest of perfect. In fact, it was pretty darn good! We liked the thin crust and of course, the daiya cheese.

I would certainly buy this pizza again and next time, I won’t over cook it! Solterra’s products are all gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free, with several products that are dairy-free as well. Click HERE for nutritional information.

Apple Pastries

Happy Groundhog Day!

It also happens to be another day off from school due to sub-zero temperatures. We’re looking at a high of -1! I’m beginning to get cabin fever. So it was a good thing our delivery from Green Buffalo Food came on Monday since I haven’t ventured to the store. Thanks to them, I was able to throw together a wonderful stir-fry for dinner last night using the green pepper, shallots, and zucchini they provided. And this morning, I used a couple of apples they sent, too. The Sixth Grader and I are enjoying pastries and watching Groundhog Day, of course.

INGREDIENTS:

For 8 pastries:

10 sheets of phyllo dough

2 apples, peeled and diced

1/4 C walnuts, chopped

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

4 Tbs Earth Balance margarine, melted

4-oz Tofutti cream cheese

1/2 tsp lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. Combine apples, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Whip the cream cheese and lemon juice in a food processor; transfer to a small bowl.

Take 5 sheets of the phyllo and cut into fourths. (You’ll do the same with the other 5 sheets).

To make the pastries, brush the top layer with the melted Earth Balance, a large spoonful of cream cheese, then some apple mixture.

Roll into a log and transfer to a baking sheet lined with lightly greased foil; brush with margarine.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastries are golden brown. Enjoy!

Plum Crock Cheez

Today’s high is a whopping -4 degrees. School was even canceled. So not only is it a great day to be in the kitchen (later I’ll be baking something delish–stayed tuned), but thanks to the snow day, I’ll be home to watch Oprah and her vegan challenge! Since the crock cheez was such a big success, I decided to make it again, but follow one of the variations listed in the cookbook (The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook).  This one is actually called, “Plum Good Crock Cheez” and uses umeboshi plum paste. It is outstanding! It tastes very similar to the original version, but with a tangier, sweeter punch. I’m not sure which version is my favorite!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 lb (8oz) firm tofu, drained

3 Tbs nutritional yeast

2 Tbs tahini

2 Tbs lemon juice

1-1/2 Tbs umeboshi plum paste

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp dry mustard

DIRECTIONS:

Cut tofu into large cubes. Place in a small saucepan and cover with water—just enough to cover the tofu. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain well. I used a fine mesh strainer to ensure any small pieces didn’t fall through. Chill uncovered in the refrigerator until it’s easy to handle. Crumble it up into a food processor and add the other ingredients. Process until smooth, scraping the sides, if necessary. Transfer to an airtight container and chill in the fridge for several hours to overnight. Enjoy!