20140407-110748.jpg

Cravings:

Earthy = beet, lemon & strawberry juice
Crunchy = roasted sweet & russet potatoes with sesame seeds
Briny = olives
Creamy = avocado
Acidic = tomatoes
Herbaceous = cilantro

…and there we have the ingredients for our first official picnic of 2014.

• My recipe for roasting potatoes •

And please: if you’re going to eat olives, don’t skimp! Never buy olives in cans. Get the good, marinated, Sicilian mix or Greek olives.

20140403-135336.jpg

I made gummy candy using agar powder sometime last year. I definitely used too much agar because they gelled too quickly and were on the hard side, instead of being “gummy”. I know of course it’s difficult to get that gummy texture without using the typical ingredients, like gelatin. But I wanted to make them again and decided to google some new recipes. I came across a strawberry jello recipe that used scooped out limes as a mold and I could not pass up trying it.

I loved those fruit slice candies that came in all different colors and were coated in sugar when I was little…

20140403-140607.jpg

…Let’s just say this is a healthier version of those for arguments sake.

Before I get into the recipe, I’d like to go over using agar powder. There is a big difference between agar powder and agar flakes. The powder is much more potent so you’ll need to use less. You’ll also need to adjust the amount of agar if you’re adding fresh fruit with a high acidity. Kiwis will actually cause the agar not to set at all because of their acidity. I puréed strawberries and added that to cranberry juice as my jelly base. The strawberries, while not as acidic as kiwi, still required some extra agar to set up. It’s been a trial and error kind of thing for me honestly. I tried a few different recipes and they all come out different. The ratio I used this time of liquid to agar gave an apple sauce or jelly texture rather than gummy. Still delicious!

For a jelly texture use:
5 1/2 c liquid (juice & purée together)
3-4 t agar powder

For gummy texture use:
4 c liquid
6-7 T agar powder

Depending on whether or not you add acidic fruit to your liquid, you’ll have to adjust the measurements. Just plain juice won’t require more agar; the smaller measurement should work fine.

I used my immersion blender to purée 2 cups of strawberries in a saucepan with 4 cups of cranberry juice. That’s how I ended up with (approx.) 5 1/2 cups of liquid. You don’t have to have a completely smooth liquid at the end but if you’re going to use a mold with small shapes, it’s probably best not to have it chunky.

Dissolve the agar powder in your liquid and bring to a gentle boil.
Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour your jelly into jars or molds.
It will set up faster if you put it in the fridge, but you could leave it out for an hour or so.
Refrigerate whatever you don’t plan on eating.

Note: if you want to use the limes as molds, cut them in half and scrape out the pulp. A metal tablespoon works well as a scooper if you don’t have anything else. I’ll warn you though, it’s a HUGE pain in the butt. Also, in order to cut them in half like I have pictured above, I had to pop them in the freezer for 15-20 minutes and use a very, very sharp knife so that I could slice through the lime rind and jelly without it squishing into a giant mess.

20140403-155715.jpg

20140402-125446.jpg

It finally feels like winter may be retreating. Had a beautiful, sunny, breezy day yesterday. Even though there’s still snow on the ground (even a few feet in places that don’t get much sun) it’s quickly turning into that fabulous extra season we get here in Vermont: mud season. Oh, you don’t know what mud season is? It’s when all the snow is melting and if you’re lucky enough to live on a private road, it’s probably a dirt road, so…thawing ground + lots of snow melting + mountain roads = you’d better have a 4 wheel drive vehicle or you ain’t goin’ far. Basically like driving through cake batter.

Well, anyway. Here’s today’s rainbow parfait.

Chia seed pudding on the bottom, raspberry mango maple sorbet and fresh passion fruit on top.

I popped this in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes before eating it because I looove the texture that the passion fruit has when it’s slightly frozen. Just don’t leave it in longer than that because the chia pudding doesn’t do well frozen.

Note: chia pudding needs to sit overnight before it’s ready to eat. This is definitely a plan ahead recipe. Also if you’re going to soak your cashews overnight, this becomes a two day project. You can get away with soaking them for 4-6 hours and they’ll be fine.

The chia pudding is a Martha Stewart recipe that I’ve been using for years. It’s simple & undeniably perfect. The only change I made was leaving out the dates and the vanilla beans since I knew I’d be pairing it with the sorbet sweetened with maple syrup.

Chia Pudding:

To make the cashew milk-
1 c raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours or as long as over night
4 c water
1/8 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon

Of course you could use any milk that you want if you don’t have cashews or you’re short on time. I use ready made almond milk or soy milk for chia pudding if I don’t feel like making my own.

Rinse the cashews well and drain them after soaking.
Add all ingredients, including your rinsed cashews to a high powdered blender.
Blend for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth.
You’ll be left with approximately 4 1/2 cups of milk with this recipe.

I only use 1 cup of milk and it makes 2 servings. Chia pudding is very filling! The milk will last for a week in the fridge so save it and use it for other things. Unless you know you’ll be able to eat that much chia pudding!

To make the pudding:
1 c cashew milk
3 T chia seeds
This is the basic ratio for a thick pudding. You can use 2 c milk and 6 T seeds if you want more, etc…

Whisk the milk and seeds together and let sit out for 15 minutes.
Whisk every few minutes to prevent clumping.
Cover and refrigerate overnight or for 12 hours.
Your pudding will be thick now as the seeds absorb the liquid and become more like a gel.
If you’re not going to make a sorbet, drizzle some maple syrup or honey on top before eating. You’ll need a bit of sweetness as we didn’t sweeten the milk at all.

I made a quick sorbet in my vitamix by blending 1/2 c frozen mango, 1 c frozen raspberries and 3 tablespoons maple syrup until smooth.

Enjoy!

20140402-125631.jpg

20140314-174601.jpg

This is my favorite thing lately. I’m not ashamed to say it was an accident…but it kind of was.

The accidental part of this was that I walked away and started eating ice cream while the mushrooms and garlic were sautéing. I came back and thought I had burned it but it was crisped to perfection quite honestly. Of course, with garlic, it’s really easy to burn it and get that terrible, acrid taste so don’t do what I did and leave it alone.

This is a great substitute for people that love a pasta with meat sauce! The mushroom has a meaty texture when it’s grated and sautéed and the same kind of crumble that you would get by cooking with ground meat.

I’m not really a fan of soy based meat products, but this is something that I really, truly enjoy. I usually can’t get past the texture of most of them. The exception being Upton’s Naturals seitan bacon which is so, so, so good. All the other different soy and seitan “meats” (in my opinion) have an off putting, rubbery bite to them.

I made quinoa pasta and used my own homemade marinara sauce. My favorite brands of gluten free pasta are Ancient Harvest and Bionaturae.

20140314-182250.jpg

Also, finely chopped some raw baby spinach and tossed it into my bowl at the end so it just wilted from the residual at heat and didn’t get mushy.

Makes approx. 1/2 c of crumble.

Note: the largest holes on a box grater work perfectly for this job.

For the mushroom crumble:

1 1/2 c of grated mushrooms, I used portobellos because they have a meaty texture
2 t minced garlic
2 T olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
Add the mushrooms and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Let the mushrooms sweat their moisture out until they’ve reduced by at least half in volume.
Add the garlic and continue to sauté and stir.
Cook until the mixture starts to brown and then turn the heat down to medium-low.
Keep sautéing and stirring occasionally until you can feel that the mix has a crisp texture to it. Don’t be afraid to taste and see!
After adding the garlic, I cooked for another 6-7 minutes, so about 15 minutes in total cooking time.
Add a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper when you’re ready to remove it from the pan.
Mushrooms lose a LOT of their volume after cooking so double the recipe if you’re cooking for more than one. I usually eat this much by myself.
Toss with some pasta, sauce and whatever vegetables you like.

Enjoy!

raw rainbow pad thai

I feel like veggie noodles are one of those things that you either LOVE or loathe. Obviously, by the way they frequent my blog, you must know by now that I love them. It’s hard to break the habit of having cooked pasta all the time, but I’ve really grown to love veggie noodles as a replacement. My stomach also loves them as well…

Most often I use carrots, zucchini and cucumber for my noodles. Without having a spiralizer, they’re the easiest (in my opinion) to make noodles out of with a julienne peeler. I know I’ve said this about 4 million times, but the julienne peeler (by zyliss) was the best $7 I’ve ever spent. I use it at least 4-5 times a week! I’m still on the look out for a GOOD quality spiralizer; everyone seems to have some gripe about the ones they’ve bought, either being made entirely from plastic or just bad quality in general. Any suggestions are welcomed!

So, the raw pad thai dish I made today has been a favorite of mine from Angela over at Oh She Glows. I’m usually making one of her sweet dishes but this has been one of my most cherished recipes ever since I first made it.

Truly, it is the dressing that makes the whole dish. After all, a salad is just a salad until you tie it together with some deliciously silky dressing, no?!

I’m always up for anything with almond butter and ginger. The creamy, nuttiness of the almonds, the tangy lime juice, the ginger & garlic and of course a bit of salty tamari is perfection. I use this dressing for way more than just this dish. Although I often add some miso paste instead of tamari (or soy sauce if you don’t have tamari). I loooove miso and almond butter together.

Here is the recipe for the dressing:

1 garlic clove

1/4 c raw almond butter

2 T water

2 T Tamari

2 T lime juice

2.5 t maple syrup

1/2 t toasted sesame oil

1 t fresh grated ginger (I usually add 1 1/2 or 2 t because I love ginger)

Blend everything and refrigerate the unused portion.

Makes about 1/2 c dressing.

raw rainbow pad thai

In addition to the carrot & zucchini noodles, I also added some kelp noodles to my pad thai.

There’s shredded red cabbage, edemame, sliced red bell pepper, sesame seeds, hemp seeds and green onion in there as well.

Check out Angela’s recipe if you want to see the detail.

Enjoy!

20140304-140014.jpg

I have to seriously thank Cara from Fork & Beans for making me drool over these crispy cauliflower bites and inspiring me to cook some up.

Truthfully, I’m not a big fryer. The only thing I used to fry on a regular basis was fish, so I did it in the same style: egg wash and bread crumbs.

Cara used a flax egg, which is what I’ll try next time. Our hens just started laying again (because of the extra hours of daylight we’ve gained back!) so I wanted to use one of their beautiful, fresh eggs for this.

Keep in mind this is one of those instances where veganizing does not equate to healthiness. But hey, you gotta treat yourself sometimes right?!

First, I got my dipping sauce started.

Sauce ingredients:

1/2 c orange marmalade
1 1/2 T rice wine vinegar
1/4 t red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan and warm over the lowest heat possible.
Let simmer for 12-15 minutes to blend all the flavors, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce is simmering, slice 1/2 a head of cauliflower into thin florets. The thinner the better so they’ll brown evenly in the oil.

20140304-121323.jpg

Steam your florets for about 6-7 minutes, just enough that you can pierce them easily with a fork but they still hold their shape.

When the cauliflower is ready, dump it onto a paper towel lined plate to absorb any moisture. The dryer and cooler, the better. Any moisture left on the cauliflower will cause the egg or flax wash to not adhere to the florets.

If you want to make a flax egg, here’s Cara’s recipe:

2 T flaxseed meal
2 T flour
5 T water

Mix all ingredients and let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.

I used 1 extra large egg and 1 tablespoon of soy milk whisked together.

For the bread crumb coating:

1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
1/4 t salt

Process all ingredients in a food processor until evenly blended. My shredded coconut comes in fairly large shreds so I like to process it until it gets small enough to stick to the batter easily. Big chunks won’t fry evenly alongside the small panko bread crumbs.

Pour the bread crumbs into a small bowl and have a large plate ready to place your dredged cauliflower bites on.

Heat up about 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.

Dip your florets one at a time into your egg or flax wash and let the excess drip off.
The dredge it in the bread crumb mixture, pressing the crumbs firmly to the cauliflower making sure they stick on.
Set them on the extra plate until you have enough to fill the skillet.

Test the oil to see if it’s up to temperature by dropping a pinch of bread crumbs into it. If it immediately starts to sizzle, it’s hot enough.

Lay some florets into the oil, taking care not to crowd the skillet.

Let brown for about 2 minutes on each side.

Drain on paper towels.

Serve with your sweet & spicy sauce.

Enjoy!

20140304-135859.jpg

20140304-095135.jpg

So I’m sitting here, eating this (leftover) vanilla kumquat coconut butter with a spoon, thinking about how our society goes through these phases of no-fat, low-fat, high-fat diets. As a nation, we’ve never had a higher rate of obesity, childhood diabetes and heart disease. We’re obviously not doing the greatest job of spreading the knowledge: eat well, feel well, live well. Fad diets will never teach us how to stay healthy in the long run.

I’ll always remember what my 12th grade English teacher said, “everything in moderation, including moderation.”

It holds truth!

Balance is key.

If eating 5 bananas every morning makes you feel good, then so be it. But just remember that there isn’t one diet that works for every person.

A diet of 100% fruit will only get your body so far, as will a diet of only dairy and meat. You need a little of this and a little of that. Vegans can have vitamin deficiencies and health issues just like meat eaters or vegetarians will. What matters is being mindful of what you eat and not just blindly following some rule book.

Eat fruit, eat vegetables, eat rice, eat beans. Eat healthy fats: avocado, walnuts, flaxseed oil. Eat cooked, eat raw, eat both. Don’t put such heavy restraints and restrictions on what you’re eating and your body and mind will be happy.

Back to the coconut butter…

I bought this coconut manna made by nutiva, not really having any idea of what the texture would be like. It’s not at all like coconut oil and nothing like dairy butter. Very interesting and a nice coconut flavor. I know some people avoid using coconut oil for that reason exactly, so if you don’t like that young, coconut meat flavor of the oil, I would try something else. Frozen banana cream could work well or another nut butter.

Orange & vanilla is one of my all time favorite flavor combinations. I used kumquats instead of oranges but you really could use any citrus. Kumquats are more sour than an orange so just use less maple syrup and taste as you go so you don’t over sweeten.

20140303-125606.jpg

You can make a raw chocolate to use here or just melt some good quality dark chocolate. I honestly like it either way because let’s face it: chocolate is chocolate.

Raw chocolate ingredients:

Makes approx. 3/4 cup.

1/2 c unrefined coconut oil
1/4 c raw cacao powder
1-2 T maple syrup

Heat the coconut oil in a double boiler to avoid losing all the good nutrients. Alternatively you can slightly warm up a saucepan, remove it from the heat and then melt the coconut oil in there. You want it to become a liquid but overheating does decrease the amount of “good stuff” in the oil.

Add the cacao powder and sweetener.

Whisk to combine. Make sure there are no lumps.

[If you want to get fancy and make these ahead of time, or double the recipe so you can use them for something else, freeze a baking sheet, lay down a piece of parchment paper and pipe drops of chocolate into the sheet. They'll harden up like a chocolate chip so you can use them at your leisure.]

This makes enough to do 5-6 mini cups. I have these little silicone molds that work great for chocolate because you can pop the frozen chocolate right out. You can also use baking cups; the aluminum foil type is best.

Pour a tablespoon of chocolate into each mold and freeze for 10 minutes.

While the chocolate is setting, make your filling.

Filling ingredients:

1/2 c coconut butter or manna (not oil)
1 T maple syrup (more if using a sour citrus)
3 T citrus juice (kumquat, orange, lemon, etc)
1 T citrus zest
1/4 t vanilla extract or 1/4 t vanilla bean paste/ seeds

Warm your coconut butter until soft. I placed the whole jar in a pot of hot water and left the heat on very low until it softened sufficiently, only a few minutes.
Scoop 1/2 c into a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients.
Taste and add more maple syrup if necessary.
Remember: your chocolate will be fairly sweet so you need some bitterness from the filling to balance it out.

Remove the chocolate cups from the freezer and plop a teaspoon sized chunk of butter on top of each.
Make sure the butter isn’t higher than the top of your mold.

Reheat the remaining chocolate (if necessary) and pour over enough to cover the vanilla kumquat butter.

Gently tap the molds on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles.

Top with a very thinly sliced piece of kumquat, or whatever other citrus you chose.

20140304-093040.jpg

Freeze for another 10 minutes or until your ready to eat. Keep covered air tight in the freezer if you’re going to save them for another day.

Enjoy!

20140302-105831.jpg

An old favorite from my early days of raw veganism.

Freeze a bunch of super ripe bananas (skin peeled first, believe me, I made that mistake the first time I tried freezing bananas and I learned from it).

Adding a tablespoon or two of coconut cream really highlights the creaminess of the blended bananas; I often do that.

Note that this does work best in a high powered blended because you want to break down the bananas as quickly as possible without creating too much heat. Again, you can always pop your blended bananas back in the freezer and wait for them to get ice cream like if you over blend.

After blending I stirred in a handful of pomegranate seeds and diced fresh pineapple. Some blueberries on the side too.

Soooo creamy! I love it.

classic greek avgolemono

classic greek avgolemono

I haven’t made this or even ate this in years but somehow I never forget how perfect it is. It’s so simple, to an untrained palate it may seem underwhelming or boring. But it’s the combination of creamy lemon and egg that are so traditionally complimenting, you can’t deny the fact that it works.

When I was younger, my friends mom made avgolemono sometimes when I had dinner over their house. It was so creamy and filling without being overbearing; it always left me wanting more (which I think is a tell of any great meal).

Some recipes call for cornstarch, I personally don’t think it’s necessary. I think the recipe works best with fresh eggs; i.e. farm fresh and haven’t been sitting in the refrigerator for weeks. When you have a recipe like this, which has so few ingredients, it’s best to make sure they’re the highest quality possible.

The difference between store bought eggs and fresh is amazing! The yolks on our eggs are so rich, creamy and more yellow than a store bought. The beautifully yellow yolks make for an intensely creamy and thick soup. Love.

Although this recipe is quick and simple, it can go wrong if you don’t follow the instructions for tempering your egg mixture. It’s very important to do that part correctly; don’t rush it. You won’t lose any flavor but it won’t look right and the texture will be off.

This recipe serves 4 for an appetizer or 2 for a meal.

Ingredients:

4 c stock (vegetable, mushroom, etc…)

3 fresh eggs

1/3 c lemon juice

1/2 c uncooked orzo

Salt & pepper

Fresh parsley or dill

Bring your stock to a gentle boil in a large pot.
Add orzo and reduce heat to a simmer.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to your broth.
Cook for a minute less than stated on the package, usually about 7 or 8 minutes, so the orzo is al dente.
Keep the heat low.
While the orzo is cooking, whisk eggs and lemon juice together until foamy.
Pour 1/2 cup of your hot broth into your egg mixture while whisking.
Try not to get any orzo in your scoop of broth; it will just make it harder to whisk.
This method, called tempering, heats up the eggs without cooking them. If you added the egg mixture to the hot broth without doing this, it would look like an egg drop soup and the eggs would separate and scramble.
Pour a few more 1/2 cups of hot broth to the egg/lemon bowl (all while whisking) until you’ve added 2 cups of broth.
Now you can add the whole bowl of egg mixture into the hot orzo pot and whisk to combine.
Cook for another few minutes over the lowest heat possible. The soup will thicken slightly.
Do not let the soup boil at all, this will cause your soup to become like scrambled eggs.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. I usually add another pinch of salt at this point.

Serve while hot. Top with a tablespoon or so of fresh parsley or dill. Enjoy!

Note: I usually cook 1/2 cup of extra orzo in a separate pot just incase somebody (like me!) wants to add more to their soup.

20140225-190337.jpg

So yes, pasta, pizza, eggplant parm and all things alike are suitable for breakfast. I remember being little and getting SO excited to have leftover pizza for breakfast.

I make these walnut-tempeh meatballs fairly often, thanks to the recipe by Brian L. Patton (the sexy vegan).

The combination of the herbs and the garlic and onions are what gets me salivating just thinking about them…they really are perfection.

I also love the texture and the way they really look like traditional MEATballs.

I didn’t have any basil so I used a lot of dill instead. I’ve been on a dill thing lately anyway, so the more the merrier. I also chopped some fresh and mixed it into my roasted garlic tomato sauce. Oh and I chopped up some swiss chard and threw that in the sauce at the last minute so it didn’t get soggy but just softened.

20140225-194631.jpg

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 397 other followers