Friday, March 21, 2014

Onigiri (Vegan Stuffed Rice Balls-No Oil)

Onigiri [Rice Balls]
Asian cuisine is one of the simplest to "veganize", in fact most dishes that are considered Asian already are vegan. Whenever you feel like your dinnertime lineup has gotten a little stale, go surf through some Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. cookbooks for new ideas. My husband, Jim, and I were watching a travel show about Japan that discussed how popular Onigiri - or Bento Balls - were in Tokyo and I was immediately struck by this simple dish and all of the possibilities it presented.

Onigiri is traditionally filled with Ume (pickled plum), but lately Japanese chefs have been expanding their horizons and filling these tasty treats with everything from fish to vegetables to fruits... you name it.

Using a traditional sushi - or sticky - rice and a dried seaweed wrapper as the outside, you're limited only by your own imagination (and the palettes of your family members) as to what to use for the filler.



Shopping / Ingredient List for Onigiri 

Sushi - or sticky - rice
Seaweed wrapper
Rice Vinegar
Sea Salt
Fresh Fruit or Vegetables for filler
Dipping Sauce, like Sweet Chili Sauce or Teriyaki Sauce

Form the rice balls around the stuffing, by pressing firmly.
(like making a snowball)
Recipe Onigiri

For this recipe, I cooked enough rice for two servings, which gave us enough Onigiri for about 4 meals. They are wonderful as leftovers - hot or cold!

Cook rice according to package directions, set aside to cool in a bowl so you can handle it with your bare hands.

While rice is cooling, dice the fruit or veggies that you plan to use as filling. Saute gently for 5-7 minutes in water until just tender. (For this recipe, I used 2 carrots, 1 pasilla pepper and 5 mushrooms) Set filling aside to cool.

While veggies are cooling, add to the rice:
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
Stir well, set aside.

Take a couple of sheets of the Seaweed Wrap and tear it into 1-2 inch wide strips by folding, then tearing along the fold line. (It tears very easily, you'll get the hang of it in no time!) If you would prefer something a little more perfect - or professional - looking, you can opt for an Onigiri Press that turns out perfect little Onigiri triangles.

Create a production line with:
1. A plate of plain water to keep your hands moist. (This will keep the rice from sticking to your hands and allow you to smooth the surface of the rice balls)
2. Your bowl of rice.
3. Your bowl of filling.
4. Your seaweed strips.
5. A cookie sheet lined with wax paper to set the Onigiri on.

Creating Onigiri:
In your left hand, place about 1/4 cup of rice in your wet palm.
Use your right thumb to make an indent.
Place about a teaspoon of filling.
Cover with 1/4 cup of rice.
Carefully mold into a ball, increasing the pressure until it is quite firm.
Wrap a strip of seaweed wrap around the ball, using just a drop of water to seal the ends.
Set aside and repeat.

Serving suggestions:
Serve one to two Onigiri with fresh vegetables or a fruit salad. Set out different dipping sauces, such as Sweet Chili Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce, Plum Jam, or Soy Sauce.

Storing leftovers:
Onigiri will store for several days in plastic containers and make great snacks or lunches.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Too much kale??

Yes, my fellow vegans - it is quite possible that we vegans are as susceptible to trends as the omnivores and it can be quite serious for us. Please take a moment to read this informative article on maintaining a healthy level of Potassium in your diet. :-)

http://www.theveganrd.com/2014/02/potassium-in-vegan-diets-less-kale-more-beans-2.html

Marble Rye - Vegan, No-knead - Bread

Savory and sweet together. Marble Rye bread.
This is truly a "wow" bread...show up at a family function with a couple loaves of this and people will think you spent all day in the kitchen because it is so pretty and oh-so yummy! Only you will know how quick and easy it really is. ;-)

Marble Rye Bread Shopping / Ingredient List:

Water
Active Dry Yeast
Salt
Caraway Seeds
Rye Flour
Instant Coffee
Cocoa Powder
Molasses

Marble Rye Bread Recipe

You will be making two bowls of dough, one a simple rye and the other a pumpernickel. So get two large mixing bowls, line up your ingredients and let's begin!

In each bowl, add:
2 1/2 cups warm - not hot- water
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp coarse sea salt (or 1/2 the amount of table salt)
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1/2 cup rye flour (light or dark, your option - I used dark in the photo above)
5 cups bread flour

Then in only one of the bowls add:
2 tsp instant coffee
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp molasses

Mix just until all ingredients are blended. Set the bowls aside for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The dough will double in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Turn the dough out (one at a time) onto a floured counter or table top and pat into a rectangle that is about 3/4 inch thick.

Carefully pick up one of your rectangles and place it on top of the other. It is entirely up to you whether you want the light or dark dough to be on the outside. In the photo above, I put the light-colored rectangle on the bottom and the dark rectangle on top.

Begin rolling from the wide (long) side:
After you've rolled the dough all the way, with the seam side down, cut the log in half, then cut each half in half again. (You may need to give each loaf a little roll on the counter and pat on the ends to get the shape exactly how you want it, don't be afraid to do that.) Place the four loaves on a baking pan sprayed with non-stick spray and let set for about 30 mins.

Place loaves in oven for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely. (Do NOT rush this cooling period or your layers will separate when sliced!)

Enjoy!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Protein + Potassium + Vitamin C = Power Salad! [Vegan Fruit Salad]

Protein Powered Citrus Fresh Fruit Salad
When you choose to eat a plant-based, or vegan diet, you have to maintain a constant awareness about the nutritional value of the ingredients you use in your dishes -- all of them. It's so much easier to stick to the tried and true meals and snacks. Believe me, Jim and I could happily eat refried beans and spanish rice every single day of the week! But we don't. Because people who maintain a constant variety in their diet are the healthiest - they don't worry about getting enough vitamin C, potassium, or protein. The variety takes care of that. So when you create a simple fruit salad for a snack or for breakfast, make it a Power Salad! by adding a handful of nuts, some extra citrus, or deep blue berries.

The salad we enjoyed this morning (below) contained the following powerful combo:
Potassium 11.8%
Vitamin C 178%
Protein 8%
Dietary Fiber 57.5% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

Sweet to eat, and SUCH a good-for-you treat!
;-)

Power Salad! [Vegan Fruit Salad]

1 whole Oro Blanco Grapefruit
1 whole large Navel Orange
2 whole Bananas
12 halves Pecans
12 halves Walnuts
1 tbsp Craisins

Mix and serve.

This is just one of millions of combinations you can come up with, but try to use fruit that is local and in-season for the very best flavor and nutritional punch (Also, it's cheaper! I bought an 8lb bag of the sweetest grapefruit for $2.99 and an 8lb bag of softball-sized sweet navel oranges for $3.99 at Simonian Farms). Sprinkle a few of your favorite nuts on there for a bit of protein. Add some dried fruit for color or flavor, but keep it down to very small amounts.

Have fun. Be creative.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making a smoother vegan smoothie

In search of a smoother smoothie
Let's face it...creating dishes without animal fats is difficult. Fat --especially animal fat-- is the ultimate shortcut for any chef, which is why I firmly believe that a vegan cook becomes much more knowledgeable about food textures and compatibility than your average "omni" chef. How do you get that perfect cookie texture without butter? How do you get that creamy gravy without milk? I've been experimenting for 3 years now and I learn something new every day, mostly by accident! One of my favorite experiments is my search for the perfect smoothie...ahhhh....not too sweet, not too thick, just the right marriage of flavors...well, you get the picture. ;-)

Tips for a smoother smoothie:

1. Choose the right liquids for the job. If you're making a coffee smoothie, use some fresh-brewed double-strength coffee (add a couple ice cubes to cool it first!). If you're making a recovery smoothie, use soy milk (it has nearly twice the protein of almond milk). If you're going for a tropical flavor, use coconut milk. Steer clear of processed fruit juices, as they often contain added sugar.

2. Put the liquid in the blender first. As obvious as this may seem, it really didn't occur to me at first. The motion of the blender's blades creates a kind of whirlpool, or vortex that draws the rest of the ingredients down to get chopped up.

3. Use a mix of frozen and fresh. Whether you're making a strawberry-banana smoothie (pictured) or an apple-pear-spinach smoothie, use a combination of fresh and frozen ingredients.

4. Keep plenty of low-water ingredients in the freezer. When you freeze ingredients to use in your smoothies, select those with the lowest water content. Save the high-water ingredients to use as fresh. (Use this handy guide from the University of Kentucky: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/enri/pubs/enri129.pdf ) Depending on the amount of power your blender has, you might want to cut the ingredients into small (about an inch or less) pieces.

5. Pulse, Slow, Fast. In that order. Once you've added all of your ingredients, begin by pulsing the mix in 5-10 second pulses, then go to your slow speed until you see that vortex in the middle, then switch to fast. Watch the ingredients until it is completely blended and smooth.

6. Too Thick? Too Thin? If you look down at the finished product and say "bleh, that's too thick (or thin)", simply adjust using extra ingredients. Too thin? Add some more frozen banana. Too thick? Add a splash of soy milk.

That's it! You now have the power to go forth and create. See below for some of my favorite smoothie recipes (all are 2 servings).

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie:
1 cup soy or almond milk
2 frozen bananas
8 fresh strawberries
1 tsp agave nectar (optional)

Mocha Frappe:
1 cup double-strength brewed coffee (cool with 3 ice cubes)
1/4 cup soy or almond milk
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 frozen bananas

Peanut Butter Smoothie:
1 cup soy or almond milk
2 tbsp peanut butter
3 frozen bananas

Grape Smoothie:
1 cup soy or almond milk
1 1/2 cup frozen grapes
1 fresh banana
1 fresh apple
1 tsp agave nectar (optional)

Green Apple Smoothie:
1 cup soy or almond milk
2 frozen apples
1 fresh banana
1 handful of spinach
1 tsp agave nectar (optional)
dash of cinnamon

Tropical Delight Smoothie:
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup frozen mango
2 fresh bananas
1 tsp agave nectar (optional)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Minestrone Chunky Vegan-style (No Oil)

Minestrone is one of those soups that you can search online for a recipe, and literally come up with one-thousand different recipes. It is the ultimate customizable soup. The definition of the word "Minestrone" is "a thick soup, containing vegetables and pasta". In other words... PERFECT for the vegan kitchen!

Use your favorite combinations of veggies, beans
and pasta - make it your own!
Shopping / Ingredient List
(Remember, this is simply a guideline - feel free to customize to suit your taste... or your pantry stock)

Vegetable Broth (6 cups)
1 Medium Onion
6 Cloves Garlic
2 Stalks Celery
1 Large Carrot
8 oz Elbow Macaroni (cooked)
15 oz can Kidney Beans
10-12 Green Beans
6-8 Brussel Sprouts
1/4 cup chopped Fresh Basil
2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
1/4 cup chopped Fresh Italian Parsley
(Or substitute 2 Tbsp Dried Italian Seasoning)
15 oz can Crushed Tomatoes

A hearty soup that is a meal in itself.
Minestrone Chunky Vegan Soup
Chop onion and garlic and saute with a little water until onions are translucent.
In a large soup pot, pour 6 cups vegetable broth in with onions and garlic.
Add thinly sliced carrot, sliced celery, quartered brussels sprouts, rosemary and cut green beans.
Bring to boil, then turn to low. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 25-30 minutes.
Add chopped basil and parsley (or dried seasoning) and stir in crushed tomatoes.
Let mix simmer while you cook the pasta.
Add pasta and beans.
Serve warm - perhaps with some fresh bread?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Caramel Cinnamon Pull-apart Buns [Vegan]

Yes, they really are as good as they look! ;-)
Oooey, gooey, chewy, cinnamon buns...mmmm. Once you've made these for your family, you can just kiss that little Pillsbury dough boy good-bye because nothing comes close to the taste and texture of homemade - oh, and did I tell you? They're VEGAN!

Shopping / Ingredient List:
All Purpose Flour
Active Dry Yeast
Salt
Nutmeg
Cinnamon
Sugar (White & Brown)
Margarine
Raisins

Recipe for Caramel Cinnamon Pull-apart Buns

Dough*:
1 1/2 cups warm (not hot) water
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp coarse sea salt (or 1/2 tbsp table salt)
1 tbsp sugar
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Mix together in large mixing bowl and let rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. If you're making dough ahead of time, simply place covered bowl in fridge overnight. If rolling out fresh, use a bit of flour sprinkled on dough to stiffen it enough to make it easier to roll and cut.

*You can make the dough the day before and pop it in the fridge to use the next morning.

Caramel Topping:
6 tbsp margarine
1/2 tsp ground sea salt or table salt
1/2 cup brown sugar

Blend in medium bowl with mixer until smooth. Spread in the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan that has been lightly sprayed with canola or olive oil spray. Set aside.

Filling:
4 tbsp margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Blend in small bowl with mixer until smooth. Set aside.

Putting It All Together:

Liberally sprinkle flour on counter top, then roll dough into a rectangle - about 1/2 inch thick.
Spread filling over dough, then sprinkle about 1/2 cup raisins (or apple pieces, nuts, whatever you'd like)
Roll from the long side
Slice into 8 pieces
Lay swirl-side-up in the cake pan that you put the Caramel Topping in earlier
Let set for 35-40 mins to rise
Cook for 40 minutes
When you remove buns from oven, flip upside down on serving plate, so caramel topping is on top.
Let set for about 5 minutes before serving.

These freeze well if you have left-overs... oh, who am I kidding? You won't have any left-overs!
;-)
Enjoy!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gingerbread Cookies [Vegan]

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies - perfect for holiday gifts!
These cookies are soft and cake-like inside with a nice crackly exterior that will have people begging for more! The spicy gingerbread flavor is perfect for those holiday gift baskets and cookie plates. Easy to make and since it involves rolling the dough into little balls, kids young and old will be more than willing to pitch in and help.
;-)

Gingerbread Cookies

Shopping / Ingredient List
Brown Sugar
Molasses
Corn Starch
Vegetable Oil
All Purpose Flour
Salt
Ground Ginger
Ground Cinnamon
Baking Soda

Recipe
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together:
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp cornstarch
¾ cup vegetable oil
Stir until smooth, then add:
2 cups all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
With a spoon, mix everything together well – feel free to add one or two more tablespoons of water if it’s too dry – using your hands if needed to work the ingredients together, then begin rolling the dough into 1 ½ inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. (Don’t worry too much about crowding, they don’t spread very much)
Before you place the cookie sheet in the oven, put a bit of ice water in a small bowl, then with your fingers or a small dropper, drop 2-3 drops of ice water on each cookie ball. This will cause the “crackle” look.

Place in 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, then let cool for 5 minutes before moving to a rack or plate.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kidney Bean Salad (Vegan)

Kidney bean salad with fresh tomatoes and
pasilla peppers
With 6 grams of dietary fiber and 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving (and only 150 calories - including the salad oil), it's clear to see why having this salad on-hand for those snack-attacks is a very good thing!

The recipe below is just one of the ways I make this salad. It's one of the easiest things to throw together with whatever you have on hand: corn, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, green beans, apples... there is no end to the combinations you can come up with!

Cook the kidney beans according to package directions (I don't usually bother with the overnight soak - it seems to keep the kidney beans in better shape). Drain in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside.

Kidney Bean Salad (Vegan)
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, toss:
1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cubed (you can use canned if the season is not right)
1 large or 2 smaller pasilla peppers, diced (bell pepper if you'd like it milder, jalapeno if you'd like it spicier)
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil (omit if you are on an oil-free diet)
2/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp sugar
kidney beans

After thoroughly mixing all ingredients, cover bowl in refrigerator and let set for 2 or more hours. As it cools, the flavor improves. By the next day, it will be perfect!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lo Mein (Vegan No-Oil)

Spicy Vegan Lo Mein - Yum!
Lo Mein is one of those dishes that you order from the Chinese restaurant that you really, really, REALLY want to be healthy for you, but sadly, it's not. Between the egg noodles, the pork and/or chicken and the fact that everything gets thrown into a wok with a heaping helping of oil... well... *sigh*

BUT, what if Lo Mein *could* be made healthy -- and still taste just as awesome? Would you be interested? I sure was!

This recipe uses Kame Lo Mein Noodles, fresh veggies (sauteed in water) and a homemade spicy sauce that will cure that craving for Chinese comfort food. (By the way, those noodles are a LOT more expensive in my local market - I bought that 12 pack from Amazon and got free shipping to boot!)

Lo Mein (Vegan, No-Oil)

Prepare the sauce before you start cooking the noodles or veggies, so you have everything ready to toss together in the wok or frying pan.

Sauce:
In a small saucepan, heat on medium and stir constantly until thickened:
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
2 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Water
1/4 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
2 tsp Ginger Powder
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Chili Garlic Sauce (or Pepper Flakes if you don't have chili sauce)
2 tsp Cornstarch or Arrowroot Powder

When thickened, remove from heat and set aside.

Noodles:
Boil 1 8oz package of Lo Mein Noodles according to package directions. Rinse in cool water, set aside.

Veggies:
Cut up carrots, broccoli, sugar snap peas, bok choy, green onions, mushrooms... anything you have on hand and would like to enjoy in your Lo Mein.

Put about 1/4 cup water in the bottom of your wok or large frying pan, turn heat to medium.
Place the longer-cooking veggies in first (like carrots) and let them simmer for 5-7 minutes before adding the quick-cooking veggies (like mushrooms, green onions) and toss them in the pan until just softened a little.
Add the noodles and sauce and mix everything thoroughly.

Serve warm.

This is an easy dish to customize and make your own. As a time-saver, I usually double the sauce recipe and store half in a plastic dish to use the next time I make Lo Mein. I have also used frozen mixed veggies when I'm in a hurry and it's delicious! Have fun with it. :-)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Budget Grocery Shopping - Vegan Style!

Well, I've been thinking about it for some time now... setting a daily monetary goal and seeing if I could stick to it in order to blog about it, but Darshana Thacker over at Forks Over Knives beat me to it. She set a goal of 3 meals per day for $1.50, while maintaining a healthy, tasty vegan diet and she did an outstanding job! Read more here:

My personal experience has been that our family grocery bill has gone from just under $1000 per month to about $500 per month, so clearly there's still a bit of room for improvement, eh?

My $1.50 a Day Challenge: Eating a Plant-Based Diet on an Austere Budget



Monday, September 9, 2013

Shiitake Meatloaf and Gravy [Vegan]

Vegan Shiitake Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.
It used to be that one of the few dishes I missed from my omnivore days was meatloaf. I made a killer meatloaf! However, since the main ingredient was - well - MEAT, I had pretty-much decided that I wouldn't be able to "veganize" that recipe with much success. Sure, I could have used one of the meat-like substances that the evil food geniuses have come up with, but I've really been trying to stay away from processed foods as much as humanly possible. Therefore, it was a real serendipity when I ran across a package of ten shiitake mushrooms at my local Smart & Final for only $2.79!? Really? That's roughly one-third the cost of shiitakes at my local grocery store. Now...what to do with them....
;-)

As many of you may know, shiitake mushrooms have an aroma and flavor that closely resembles that of beef - so much so that my dog paid a visit to the kitchen while I was cooking to see if I had finally gone back to my meat-eating ways! (Sorry Sydney Blue) The mushrooms give this recipe the flavor, while the legumes and barley provide the texture and the bread crumbs are the glue that holds it all together. My husband likens the flavor to salisbury steak, which is high-praise indeed!

The major ingredients are Shiitake Mushrooms, Fresh Garlic, Pearl Barley and Lentils which pack a powerful punch of pure healthy, low-fat food. (Something the old meatloaf recipe couldn't promise!) The dish requires a bit of prep-time, but if you cook the barley and legumes according to package directions ahead of time and store them in the fridge, it makes the process quick and easy.

Shopping / Ingredient List

Shiitake Mushrooms (about 9 medium or 6 large)
Pearl Barley (cooked according to package directions, then cooled)
Lentils (cooked according to package directions, then cooled)
Bread Crumbs (homemade or store bought)
Head of Garlic (about 8-10 cloves - add more or less to taste)
Onion (1 large or 1 1/2 medium)
Vegetable Stock (store bought or homemade)
Vegetable Oil
Salt
Flour
Soy Sauce
Apple Vinegar

Recipe for Shiitake Meatloaf and Gravy (makes one large loaf, half recipe for small loaf pan)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

The Meatloaf:

Chop up an entire head of garlic - about 8-10 cloves. (Don't worry, you'll need it. The lentils and barley are quite bland without it)
Dice the onion, set aside.
Cut 6 medium or 4 large mushrooms into 1/2 inch cubes (to use in the meatloaf), set aside.
Slice thin, then cut in half 3 medium or 2 large mushrooms (to use in the gravy), set aside.

In your food processor, pulse together:
Diced onion, chopped garlic and 2 cups cooked barley. Transfer to large mixing bowl.
Cubed mushroom and 1 cup cooked lentils. Transfer to large mixing bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, combine:
The above ingredients from the food processor with the remaining
1 cup cooked barley
1 cup cooked lentils
2 tsp salt
2 cups bread crumbs
mix thoroughly to combine all ingredients.

Firmly press mixture into a nonstick or lightly sprayed large loaf pan (this is necessary to get the meaty texture), then place in 375 degree oven for one hour.

The Gravy:

In a large skillet on medium heat, pour:
1/4 cup olive, canola or vegetable oil. Heat for a minute, then add:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
mix to make a roux 
add mushrooms with 4 cups of vegetable stock by pouring just a little bit of the stock at a time while constantly stirring the roux to keep your gravy nice and smooth.
When you've added the entire 4 cups of vegetable stock, 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce, 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, then turn the heat down to simmer and let it go while the meatloaf cooks.


The Potatoes:

Peel a bunch of potatoes (OK, one per person) and add to boiling water - carefully -for about 15 minutes.
Drain, then whip with either rice milk or vegetable stock until smooth and creamy.

Needless to say, with a meatloaf this big, there will be leftovers! But that's all part of the plan. Slice that thing up and put the slices on a cookie sheet in the freezer (use some wax paper so it doesn't stick) and you'll have a quick and tasty meal in your freezer for all those nights when you just want something easy for dinner. Pair it with some leftover gravy, some roasted veggies or tossed salad, and you've got a mid-week feast! (Take frozen meatloaf and reheat in 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Soft Serve Ice Cream (Vegan)

Strawberry / Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream (Vegan)
This is so quick, so easy, and SO yummy that you might as well leave your Food Processor out on the counter because your family will be bugging you to make this dessert all the time!
;-)

This recipe is *very* similar to my  Guilt-free Ice Cream recipe, but this recipe is not 100% guilt-free. The key to getting a true soft-serve texture is a rounded tablespoon of cold nut butter mixed in with the frozen fruit. It takes away that somewhat slimy texture that often accompanies a dessert made with frozen bananas and turns it into a rich and flavorful -- and healthy -- treat.

Ingredients / Shopping List

Frozen Banana (1 per serving)
Frozen Fruit of your choice
Nut Butter (Almond, Peanut, Sunflower, etc.)

Soft Serve Ice Cream (Vegan)

Fruity Soft Serve:
In your Food Processor, blend:
2 cut up Frozen Bananas
1/2 cup Frozen Fruit of your choice
1 rounded tablespoon chilled Nut Butter (Almond, Peanut, Sunflower, etc.)

Chocolate Soft Serve:
In your Food Processor, blend:
2 cut up Frozen Bananas
1 teaspoon Cocoa powder
1 rounded tablespoon chilled Nut Butter (Almond, Peanut, Sunflower, etc.)

Nutty Soft Serve:
In your Food Processor, blend:
2 cut up Frozen Bananas
1 rounded tablespoon chilled Nut Butter (Almond, Peanut, Sunflower, etc.)

The above recipes are for two servings. Double, triple, quadruple this recipe as needed for your family. Experiment with different nut butters to see which one you prefer. Personally, I like almond butter best for the fruity soft serve as it doesn't compete with the fruit flavor. For the chocolate soft serve, I prefer peanut butter.

These frozen treats are high in fiber, low in sugar, and pretty low fat since you only use one tablespoon of the nut butter for two servings. That being said, the nut butter does come with calories, so no matter how much you will want to, you can't live on Soft Serve alone!

Enjoy!
:-)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chocolate (Vegan, No Oil) Pancakes

Tastes like Chocolate Cake -- for breakfast!
Sunday is pancake day around the Broumley house and since hubby Jim has been steadily upping the mileage on his daily bike rides, I thought it was time for something special... hmm...how about CHOCOLATE?? :-)

Shopping / Ingredient List

All Purpose Flour
Whole Wheat Flour
Baking Powder
Cocoa Powder
Salt
Sugar
2 Ripe Bananas
Soy or Almond Milk

Chocolate Pancakes

In a small bowl, mash 2 ripe bananas, set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, add:
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

Preheat griddle or pan to medium.

Stir dry ingredients well, then:
Add bananas
2 cups Soy or Almond Milk
Stir just until dry ingredients have been mixed in.

Cook on first side until batter begins to bubble, turn and cook for another minute or two.
Serve warm.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vegan POWer Energy Bars

Chewy, chocolaty and full of hidden power sources!
My husband, Jim, has been riding further and further on his mountain bike lately. With a bad knee, it's one of the few ways he can get a really good workout -- and Boy! does he get a workout! When his average miles started going over 25, I thought it was time to see if I could come up with a vegan, whole foods alternative to the popular sports bars out there.

Although my official taste tester (Jim) kept assuring me that these were truly working, I didn't believe him until I tried them myself at about mile 8 of a 16 mile "easy" ride yesterday. A little 2.5 inch by 1.5 inch square gave me a shot of energy that made the ride back even more pleasant than the ride out - and I was really feeling tired before our rest stop!

Mission Figs
The idea for the mix of ingredients came while on a visit to a local farm store, where they had an abundance of dark, ripe, mission figs. Beyond a store-bought fig newton, I'd never tried a fig before, but they looked so tempting... I had to try some! :-)

The Health Benefits of Figs
Figs are a uniquely nutritious fruit, as they have the highest amount of calcium of any fruit, and 100g (3.5 oz) of dried figs contains 16% of the daily recommended amount. Figs are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. Fruit fiber has been shown to significantly lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. It is also very filling and can help to take the edge off appetite. 
Figs are also a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, as well as vitamin K. Figs contain different types of antioxidants and have been shown in studies to raise antioxidant activity. Antioxidants mop up free radicals, which may contribute to the development of cancer, heart disease and the visible signs of aging by damaging DNA and other body systems. The riper the fig, the more antioxidants it contains.
Fig leaves are also surprisingly healthy. Several cultures use the leaves in cooking, particularly to wrap meats and fish. Studies have shown that an extract of fig leaves will increase insulin sensitivity, and may be useful for preventing diabetes. Studies on animals have also shown fig leaves to reduce the likelihood of heart disease and possibly kill cancer cells as well. (from FitDay.com)

The recipe looks like more trouble than it really is, due to the list of ingredients, but it makes a TON of energy bars that you can keep in the freezer for months. The taste and the kick of pure vegan energy you get will definitely make it worth your time.

Shopping / Ingredient List:

10-12 Fresh Figs
Brown Sugar
Soy or Almond Milk
Vanilla
Corn Starch
All Purpose Flour
Whole Wheat Flour
Baking Soda
Sea Salt
Cinnamon
Old Fashioned or Quick Oats
Raisins
Vegan Chocolate Chunks
Cocoa Powder
Shelled Sunflower Seeds

Recipe for Vegan POWer Energy Bars (AKA Jim's Bike Bars)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In your food processor: 
Pulse 10-12 figs (stems removed) until they are the consistency of jam. Set aside.
Process 1 cup of shelled sunflower seeds until they are a smooth paste. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine:
processed figs
processed nuts
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup soy milk (or use almond or coconut milk to add those flavors)
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp corn starch

Mix well

Add in:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup raisins

Mix until dry ingredients are incorporated, then spread onto baking sheet (one with a lip works best) that has been lightly sprayed with canola spray. Spread evenly, so that dough is 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. (Thicker will be chewier and might take a couple of minutes longer in the oven)

Cook at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (Done when edges start to brown)

Let cool thoroughly before cutting into squares and/or adding top drizzle (optional).

For Chocolate Drizzle Topping: 


Mix boiling water with 4 Tbsps each Cocoa and Sugar to create chocolate drizzle/icing (as shown)

Freeze when bars and topping are completely cool.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Peachy Keen Pancakes (Vegan, No Oil)

Peach Pancakes - Yum!
Yay! It's peach season!! Peaches are plentiful and relatively inexpensive this time of year, so make the most of them by adding this tasty fruit to some of your standby meal favorites. The peach pancake recipe (below) has a rich nutty flavor that comes from using whole wheat flour, coupled with the sugary sweetness of the pan-seared peach slices.

Tip: Be sure to use a pan or griddle with a good teflon coating or a quick spray of canola or olive oil so the peaches sear nicely.

Peachy Keen Pancakes

Shopping / Ingredient List

Fresh Peaches (2 large or 3-4 smaller ones)
Soy or Almond Milk
Maple Syrup (The real stuff is best, but pancake syrup works too)
Whole Wheat Flour
All Purpose or Bread Flour
Salt
Baking Powder
Cinnamon

Recipe

In a small bowl, chop up one whole (peeled) peach and give it a "smush" with a fork or spoon to release that delicious peach juice. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together:
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup All Purpose or Bread Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon

Give the dry ingredients a good stir to get everything mixed well.

Peel second peach and slice thinly. Set aside.

Preheat griddle or pan.

Add the "smushed" peaches to the dry ingredients with:
2 cups Soy or Almond Milk
2 Tbsp Pancake or Maple Syrup
Mix lightly until dry ingredients have been fully incorporated.

Ladle pancake batter onto hot griddle.

When first bubbles appear, lay a few peach slices on top of pancake, then flip and cook as you normally would. Peaches will sear as the second side cooks.

Serve warm.


Friday, July 26, 2013

What's on your plate?

Pasta and veggies - good? or not-so-much?
No, really. What is on your plate tonight? Being vegan doesn't necessarily mean that everything you eat is healthy. I find myself choosing poorly ALL THE TIME.

My bugaboos are pasta and tortillas. If I'm planning a meal of beans and rice, I find myself thinking "hey, let's roll that up in a tortilla, eh?" (There's an extra 200 calories or so!) Or, if I'm having pasta for dinner, the amount of pasta far outweighs the amount of veggies - not good choices at all. The next thing you know, I'm cursing at the bathroom scale and my husband thinks I'm nuts!

While these choices are fine once in awhile, it's so easy to fall into a habit of making bad choices on a regular basis - especially when you have job, kids, and extra curricular activities pushing you to choose quick and easy over the healthy choice.

So I've made a promise to myself to try to eat mindfully, to be aware of how I cook the food (do I really need to use oil?), how much of my plate is filled with carbs vs vegetables, and most importantly, to listen to my body when it says "OK, I'm full now".

Tonight's meal: Pasta & Veggies

Pros:
A heart-healthy topping of crushed tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and herbs with sauteed fresh green beans, mushrooms, onions, and garlic.
Veggie to Pasta ratio 50/50
Appropriate serving size

Cons:
Durum pasta rather than whole wheat
Veggies sauteed in olive oil, rather than water

Overall, not bad, but there's plenty of room to do better next time. No oil. More Veggies. Better pasta choice... you get the picture. They say that admitting you have a problem is the first step to fixing it!
;-)
Thanks for listening,
Sheila.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guilt-free Vegan Ice Cream (No added sugar, No oil, No Ice Cream maker needed)

Keep frozen bananas on hand and you'll never be short on
great dessert ideas!
For a quick "anytime" treat, keep a few peeled bananas in your freezer. Add them to any other fruit you have on-hand, a splash of soy or nut milk and you've got a sweet treat that rivals anything you'll get at the local frozen yogurt shop - and you don't even need an ice cream maker!

This recipe is as simple and customizable as it gets. Take two frozen bananas, break into about four chunks each and put in the food processor (or blender - just break or cut them smaller for the blender). Add about 1/2 cup of fresh fruit, compote, frozen fruit mix - anything you think would taste great as ice cream - a splash of soy milk and blend until smooth.

That's it!

No, seriously. It's that easy.
;-)
Here are my specific recipes for the Ice Creams shown in the photo:

Use your imagination and come up with some great
flavor combinations. Since this recipe creates a
small batch, you can try lots of new things
and don't forget those toppings!
Cherry Chunk Ice Cream
2 frozen bananas
1/2 cup cherry compote
Splash of soy milk
Pulse until smooth. Add a couple spoonfuls of cherries (for the chunk part), pulse a couple more times.

Rich Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
2 frozen bananas
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
Splash of soy milk
Pulse until smooth

*NOTE* This one is not oil-free due to the nut butter, sorry.

Let your imagination run wild! I made a batch with some left over Roasted Strawberries that was simply delicious, fresh peaches with a hint of cinnamon - Yum!... there is no end to the flavors you can pair with the light background flavor of the frozen bananas. Initially, the consistency is like that of soft serve ice cream, but if you leave it in the freezer for a couple of hours, you can scoop it into a cone.

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Super Smoothie (Banana, Peanut Butter, Vegan)

Since moving to Fresno, CA, Jim and I have become decidedly more active. He has been riding well over 200 miles per month on his bike and I've been walking 4 miles per day with our australian cattle dog. Since we're both 50 something, all this working out can get a little taxing, so I thought I'd look around for a nice "pick me up" recovery drink that had more GOOD than BAD in the ingredient list.

For instance, the Soy Protein mix that I used to buy sports this list of ingredients:

Soy Protein Isolate, Two Percent or Less of the Following: Tricalcium Phosphate, Canola Oil, Rice Flour, Magnesium Oxide, Natural Flavors, Ascorbic Acid, Ferrous Fumarate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Vitamin E Acetate, Niacinamide, Zinc Oxide, Copper Gluconate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, D-Biotin, Selenomethionine, Potassium Iodide, Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12).

Whereas this recipe has: Bananas, Soy Milk, Peanut Butter. That's it. Three ingredients. And what's really crazy is that the Super Smoothie has about nine times the potassium to lower that blood pressure and strengthen and heal those bones and muscles you just put through a workout. But best of all, after drinking your yummy smoothie, you'll feel like new!

Super Smoothie

In a blender, mix until smooth:
2 frozen bananas
1 cup soy (or other type of nut) milk
1/4 cup peanut butter (We like Laura Scudders it has only two ingredients: peanuts & salt)

Makes two servings.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Light and Fluffy Banana Pecan Pancakes (Vegan, No-oil)

Light fluffy banana pecan pancakes your family will love!
One of my favorite things is Sunday morning brunch with my family. As it turns out, they like it quite a bit too! My husband, Jim, came up with the flavor combination and it really worked well. You can make it with whole wheat flour (I wouldn't go more than half with it.) if you'd like, but the recipe as written below comes out extremely light and springy - give it a try.

Shopping / Ingredient List

All purpose flour
Baking powder
Sugar
Salt
Chopped pecans
Maple syrup
Bananas
Soy milk

Banana Pecan Pancakes

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

In a small bowl, thoroughly mash 2 ripe bananas, then add to the dry mix along with:
2 cups soy milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tsp maple syrup

Lightly stir just until everything is mixed together. Don't overdo it or the pancakes will be tough.

Spoon batter onto a non-stick frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Wait until you see bubbles around the edge, then flip and cook on the other side for about 1-2 minutes.

The maple syrup in the mix not only makes for a nice flavor, but it also helps to give the exterior of the pancake that slight crunchy texture. It is such a treat when you cut through that nice outer texture to that light cakey inside!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Not feeling well? Look no further than your plate.

The one (and ONLY) fast food that I indulge in on occasion is Subway. I love their veggie and veggie max menu options and I REALLY felt good about my choices. It was the one place I felt safe.

Well, after reading this line "Just one 6-inch Roasted Garlic loaf from Subway–just the bread, no meat, no cheeses, no nothing–has 1,260 mg sodium, about as much as 14 strips of bacon" in a PreventDisease.com article entitled Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Diseases, I knew my last bastion of fast food treats was now firmly on the "no-no" list - right next to the Colonel and Ronald.

I should have known better, there is no such thing as a "safe" processed food. The whole reason I maintain this blog is to offer people ways to serve up tasty, healthy, comfort food that doesn't kill you. You shouldn't be putting your life at risk by ordering a bean burrito (Taco Bell Bean Burrito = 960mg sodium), or a slice of veggie pizza (Papa Murphy's Veggie Pizza Slice = 965mg sodium)!

So, coming across this article was just a subtle reminder to stay strong, stay vegan, and stay the heck away from processed foods!!

If this put you in the mood for some homemade "fast" food, visit earlier posts for recipes on...

Fried Rice
Macaroni & "Cheese"
"Meat"balls & Pasta
"Meaty" Vegan Chili
Not-meat Balls
Pinto (Refried) Beans
Pumpernickel Deep Dish Pizza
Soy Chorizo and Potatoes
Spanish Rice

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cherry Compote

Compote is basically stewed fruit, but that doesn't sound very appetizing does it? I'm asking you to look beyond the old-fashioned sound of this dish and give it a try. It is such an amazing flavor and texture!

Place in pretty glass jars as gifts.
I served this over Vanilla Soy Ice Cream, but it would be equally delicious over a savory dish such as grilled squash or shiitake mushrooms. As you can see, it's also very pretty in the jar and SUPER easy to make, so it would make a wonderful gift for the holidays. This recipe is for Cherry Compote, but get creative and try using any fruit that is in-season and readily available at your local Farmer's Market. Perhaps Peach? Fig? Plum?


Shopping / Ingredients List

2lbs Fresh Cherries (Any type will work, I used Bing)
White Sugar or Agave Nectar (Sugar really does work better)
Water
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt




Fresh Cherry Compote

Wash & pit 2 pounds of fresh Bing, Flathead, Chelan or Rainier cherries (Whatever your local orchard specializes in).
In a medium saucepan, heat...
Pitted cherries
1/2 cup sugar or agave nectar
2 Tablespoons of water

Delicious over ice cream!
Slowly bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes until mixture starts to thicken and fruit is nice and tender.

Remove from heat and add...
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Stir and let cool before placing in jars or plastic ware container.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream (Vegan, No Oil)

Use the freshest, ripest berries you can find.
If you have been following my blog for awhile, you know that I am always on the lookout for recipes that make my vegan ice "cream" recipes...well... creamier. I love the flavor of soy ice cream, and it's simply wonderful fresh from the ice cream maker, but it often turns a bit icy the next day.

It's the fat, or rather, the lack of fat that determines the texture of your vegan ice cream. There are things you can do to your ice cream recipes that will make up for that lack of fat that dairy products contain, such as adding peanut butter - as we did in our Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Ice Cream, but that's a bit limiting. Moreover, folks with allergies or those trying to cut the oil from their diets simply can't go that route.

When I tried my veganized version of Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream, it was a bit of an epiphany for me. Here was an ice cream with NO oil whatsoever that was as smooth and creamy as the one with 1/2 cup of peanut butter!? I decided to look into this...why did it work with pumpkin, but my earlier attempts at strawberry ice cream came out with little frozen strawberry chunks?

I found the answer on a blog by Zoe Francois. She had the same question - how do I keep my strawberries from becoming ice chunks in my homemade ice cream? Her answer: Roast 'em first! I don't know why, but it never occurred to me to cook the fruit. Unfortunately, Zoe's ice cream recipe is far from vegan, so it really wouldn't work for our purposes, but the fruit-roasting idea is sheer genius!! I can't wait to try this on other fruits.

Roasting strawberries with sugar and balsamic vinegar.
Shopping / Ingredient List:
1 Pint Fresh (not frozen!) Strawberries - the fresher and more ripe, the better.
Sugar
Balsamic Vinegar
Agave Syrup
Cornstarch
Soy Milk

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream:

The Berries:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
On a non-stick pan, or baking pan sprayed with cooking spray, place whole strawberries. (be sure to use a pan with a lip, it gets pretty messy!)
Sprinkle 2 Tbsp Sugar
Sprinkle 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (don't worry, it looks awful, but it tastes wonderful!)
Cook at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.

When the strawberries are done, scoop everything into a bowl and add 2 Tbsp Agave Nectar to the mix.
Mash with a potato masher, then set in the fridge to cool for an hour or more. (you don't want to add anything hot to your ice cream maker)

Sweet, creamy Strawberry Ice Cream
The Ice Cream:
In a medium mixing bowl,
Mix together, 3/4 cup of sugar and 3 Tbsp Cornstarch
Add 1 cup Soy Milk, blend for 2 minutes
Add 2 more cups Soy Milk, blend for another minute
Pour mix into Ice Cream Maker and process for 30 minutes.

Add berry mix and process for another 25-30 minutes.
Serve immediately for a soft-serve style, or chill for an hour in the freezer for a firmer texture.

Hot Pink Lemonade

Yummy and oh-so coooool! Save out just a few of those fresh strawberries you bought at the local farmers market, add it to a bit of lemon juice, ice and agave and you've got a beautiful addition to any meal. Depending on your guest list, you can make this with alcohol, or without.

Shopping / Ingredient List:
10-12 Fresh (or frozen) Strawberries
Lemon Juice
Agave Nectar
Vodka (optional)
Ice

Hot Pink Lemonade:
In a blender, place
2 cups ice
1/2 cup Agave Nectar
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
1/2 cup Vodka (optional)
10-12 red ripe Strawberries

Blend until smooth, serve immediately.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mocha Bread (No knead, No oil)

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that proves true so often in my kitchen. In this case, I had completely forgotten to replace my depleted rye flour stash and was too tired (Lazy?) to head out to the grocery store. Since I had already added just about everything else to what was supposed to be a batch of pumpernickel bread, I thought "what the heck - let's see how it comes out".

It came out GREAT! This is probably the best kitchen accident of all time. The Mocha Bread has the classic pumpernickel flavors of Chocolate, Coffee, and Molasses. However, since there is no Rye Flour, the texture is quite different - much more smooth - absolutely wonderful for sandwiches!

Shopping / Ingredient List

Warm water
Active dry yeast
Sea salt
Dark cocoa
Molasses
Instant coffee
Bread flour

Mocha Bread

3 cups warm (not hot) water
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp sea salt
2 Tbsp dark cocoa
2 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp instant coffee
6 cups bread flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Cover and let sit in the bowl (covered with a towel) for 2-3 hours. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the counter or cutting board and split dough into 2-3 loaves. Place loaves on cooking sheet and let them sit for 20 minutes.

Cook at 450 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool before serving.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Broiled Tofu (Vegan No-Oil)

Crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. This is quick, easy, and a darn-near fat-free method of cooking your tofu!
:)
Tofu that is perfect every time!
Crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Preheat oven to "Broil"
Set rack mid-oven

Place your Firm or Extra Firm Tofu in paper towels between a couple of plates (upside down) to squeeze out water.

Prepare braising liquid in shallow bowl or pan:

1/4 cup Water
1 tsp Garlic
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce

Cut Tofu into 5 equal slices, then
Cut each rectangle into two squares, then
Cut each square into two triangles (shown in photo)

Place pieces in braising liquid, letting them set for just a moment or two on each side to soak up a bit of juice.

Place on cooking sheet (either non-stick or lightly spayed with cooking spray). Leave room between each piece.

Place cooking sheet under broiler for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, spoon remaining liquid on Tofu pieces, broil for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve hot with your choice of topping.
**Photo shows Broiled Tofu with homemade Sweet and Hot Teriyaki Sauce and Vegan Fried Rice.**

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Beefy" Vegan Enchiladas

Saute the peppers and onion until they start to brown,
then add beef crumbles, chorizo & tomatoes. 
I am such a big fan of Mexican food, and although my favorite dishes were usually the simplest (beans, rice, fajitas, enchiladas) - I was afraid that recreating that flavor without the use of cheese would be second rate. I was wrong. Oh man! was I wrong. I promise you that these "Beefy" Enchiladas are every bit as creamy and yummy as the ones you used to get that were stuffed with ground beef and cheese. They can be time consuming to make, but it's a fun weekend project - especially if you have kids, they love making these.
:-)

Shopping / Ingredients

1 dozen Corn Tortillas (I used the larger ones)
Vegan Ground Beef Replacement (I love the Light Life brand)
Soy Chorizo
2 small or 1 large can Enchilada Sauce
1 large Poblano Pepper
1 medium Onion
2 Jalapeno Peppers
Vegan Cheddar Shreds (I like Daiya brand)
1 can Diced Tomatoes
1 can Black Olives (optional topping)
1 Avocado (optional topping)

Pour a little of the sauce into a plate to coat the corn
tortillas before filling. Red or Green... or both!
Beefy Vegan Enchiladas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

The filling:
Dice fresh peppers and onion and cook in 1-2 tsp oil on medium heat until they just start to brown.
Add in the Meat Crumbles and soy Chorizo, heat through.
Mix in 1 small can tomatoes (drained).
Set aside.

The enchiladas:
Pour a bit of the Enchilada Sauce into a 9 x 13 pan - just enough to coat the bottom and keep the enchiladas from sticking. (If you don't have that size, use whatever is handy - it doesn't matter)
"Beefy" and "Cheesy" Vegan Enchiladas

Pour a bit of the Enchilada Sauce into a plate or pie pan. Lay the corn tortilla in sauce to coat both sides, then place a couple spoons-full of the meat and veggie filling into the tortilla and roll. Since you leave both ends open for enchiladas, it's a good idea to do your filling and rolling in the pan you plan to cook them in. Continue until you run out of filling and/or tortillas. (I typically make mine about 1 1/2 inches thick, which makes about 10 enchiladas with no left over filling.)

Pour the remainder of the sauce over the top of the enchiladas (don't worry if you don't have a lot left, you don't want to soak them) Sprinkle sliced olives and vegan cheddar cheese (lightly!) over the top. Place in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Serve hot with a side of rice or beans, maybe some sliced avocado, and - of course - some of those yummy margaritas!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Margaritas...Vegan-style!

Margaritas make everything better!
Just about every Margarita mix I see in the store - especially the strawberry flavor has High Fructose Corn Syrup as the number one or number two ingredient, which is a big fat "no-no" in my house. So, I decided to make my own. As it turns out, I inadvertently re-created the best darn margarita I'd ever had - exactly like the Mexican restaurant we discovered in South Lake Tahoe! Sweeet!

Ingredients / Shopping List

Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 cup Agave Syrup (recipe below)
1 cup Tequila
2 cups Ice

Margaritas... Vegan Style!

Agave Syrup: In a sauce pan, heat through 1/2 cup Agave Nectar with 1/2 cup water. Set aside to cool.

In Blender, Place...
2 cups Ice
1 cup Tequila
1/2 cup Lime Juice
1 cup Simple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Blend until smooth.

Dip glasses in drink mix to wet edge, then dip into salt on a plate or shallow bowl to coat edge. Fill glass with  Margarita elixir. ;-)

Want Strawberry, Peach, or other fruit flavor Margarita? Simply replace 1/2 the ice with 1 cup of frozen fruit... YUM!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Best [Vegan] Bagels Ever!

OK, if that sounds like I'm tooting my own horn... well, I guess I am! Ever since my family and I tasted the heavenly bagels offered at Big Apple Bagels in Petoskey, MI, I've been trying to reproduce their signature jalapeno bagels. I know that I can just as easily go down to any number of bagel shops and grab a fresh bagel, but I like knowing what goes into my food. The only way to know exactly what you're eating is to make it yourself. There is nothing difficult about the process, but it is a bit time consuming. Your friends and family will love the results.

Makes 1 dozen bagels.

In this example, I cut the base dough in half and made 6 onion bagels and 6 jalapeno bagels. Feel free to create your own, using family favorites or creating plain bagels and dressing up some Tofutti Cream Cheese with strawberries, green onions, or....??

Best Vegan Bagels...Ever!

Shopping / Ingredient List:

Water
Yeast
Sea salt
Sugar
Bread Flour
Agave Nectar
Your choice of flavoring - onion, jalapeno, garlic, poppy seed, cinnamon/raisin, apple/cinnamon, etc.

Recipe / Directions:

Chop any vegetables or fruits you plan to add to the dough, so that you have approximately 1 cup total. (In my example, I chopped 3 jalapeno peppers for one half of the dough and 1 small onion for the other half.) You don't need to be exact, the 1 cup measurement is simply a guideline. Set chopped veggies aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together:
2 cups warm (not hot) water
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar (or 1 tsp agave nectar)
5 cups bread flour

Mix thoroughly until you are able to form a ball, then place on lightly floured counter-top and split according to your choice of flavors (in my example, I cut it in half). Take the first portion and knead it together with your first flavors until it is smooth (about 5-10 minutes) set it aside. Do the same for the other portions. Let your balls of dough set for about 15 minutes.
After rolling the dough into a cigar shape, smooth the join
to make a seamless circle.

Form the bagels. Cut the dough into equal pieces (recipe should total 12 bagels). Roll into cigar-shaped rolls, then join the ends together into a circle. Try to seal the seam by smoothing the dough or pinching it with your fingers to insure a smooth join. (see photo) Lay bagels on lightly sprayed or non-stick cooking sheet. After you've rolled out all 12 bagels, lightly cover with a tea towel or wax paper. Let it sit for 1 to 1 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees

Bagel Bath. In order to get that true bagel consistency, you have to boil the bagels before you bake them. In a large pot, add:
1 gallon of water
Bring water to a boil, then add:
3/4 cup of agave nectar
Bring to boil, then begin dropping bagels into the water (carefully) 3 at a time. Bagel is done when it floats to the top (about 1 minute).
Lay bagels back on baking sheet.
Sprinkle with salt or poppy seeds or add chopped veggies (like the onion bagels in the photo below) for that finished look.
Fresh, delicious bagels. Serve warm. Freeze some for later.
Make bagel pizzas... you know what to do!

**Notes on this step** The sugar in the agave nectar is not for taste (you probably won't even notice the flavor), but for the consistency of the bagel. This is what gives it that smooth outer crust and chewy inside. You can use sugar or honey instead, it should work as well as the agave. Also, you'll cut down on splashes or accidentally breaking the join if you lower each bagel into the water using a slotted spoon or spatula.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 475 degrees. Bagels are done when golden brown on the outside.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Steaming Vegetables - So quick and so easy!

Toss some steamed broccoli, lettuce, pineapple
and shredded carrots with your favorite
vinaigrette and you've got instant summer
in your winter kitchen. 
After you've been "eating vegan" for a while, you start to sincerely crave color on your plate. A bowl of oatmeal with bananas is OK, but add a few slices of strawberry or a few blueberries and now we're talking! I don't know if it's my subconscious mind taking over and moving me to the next level of healthy eating, but I'm more than happy to oblige.

Many of us (myself included) fall into the habit of relying on comfort foods in the winter. You look outside your window and see... "bleh" and want to run to the comfort of soups, chili, or creamy rice casseroles. That's fine, but use some color to perk up the nutrient value as well as your mood. Adding steamed vegetables is one of the quickest and easiest methods of punching up the color and nutrient value. Special training or equipment is not required.

You'd be hard pressed to find a nutritional expert who didn't tout the steaming method of cooking vegetables as the absolute best way to lock in nutrients, taste and color. Following are some tips on quick and easy methods:

Steaming Vegetables

First, start with the freshest veggies you can get. If your local farmers market has just announced the broccoli is in, go take advantage. However, don't overlook other sources. I received an email from my local grocery store today that said carrots were .39 cents per pound and onions were .49 cents - that's good for me and my budget! Choose vegetables that you know you like and then add a few that you've been meaning to try or always wondered about, it's a great way to expand your palate. Wash your veggies carefully and cut them into bite-size (but not too small) pieces. Remember, there are NO wrong combinations. If you like it, or think you'll like it - cook it. Don't let your veggie choices be determined by what you see on the frozen mass-produced steamer bags.

Second, choose your method. If you have an electric steamer, a microwave, or a pot/pan with a lid and a stove-top - you're good!

Stove-top method: 
Fill your pot about with enough water to cover the bottom, up to about your first knuckle. Set it on the burner at medium-high heat. Once water is at a rolling boil put on your longer cooking veggies such as carrots and turnips. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add your mid-range veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts on top. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Add your light-cookers such as spinach, mushrooms and any fresh herbs. Cook everything for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, strain water, squirt with a little lemon juice or vinaigrette salt, pepper and serve with whatever comfort food you'd like. You now have the best of both worlds, comfort AND healthy -- you're winter day is looking brighter already!!

Microwave or Electric Steamer method:
Put a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom of the cook-pot or bowl, layer the vegetables as shown in the stove top method above, cook for 5-7 minutes on high. Remove from container, strain water, squirt with a little lemon juice or vinaigrette salt, pepper and serve with whatever comfort food you'd like. You now have the best of both worlds, comfort AND healthy -- you're winter day is looking brighter already!!