Beggin For Brownies…..

18 03 2012

I’ve been on a quest to find the best Vegan brownie recipe in the world. Well, after a number of failed “experiments” I pretty much gave up! My dog even stole one set (that was harder than a hockey puck) out of my kitchen trash. Suitable to be a dog cookie? Enough said! ImageBecause of all of the dry ingredients, the dough just needs some help rising to be edible.

After taste testing a few recipes, I came up with this version of gluten-free goodness! They do have eggs in them, so they would not be considered Vegan. These are great, and you don’t need a very big piece to get a chocolate fix.

The base for the dough is arrowroot. It’s a starch that’s gluten-free and is used in place of flour most frequently to firm up puddings, custards, and in our case here, brownies. The walnut oil is a little pricey but it’s really high in your Omega 3 and 6, so I’m sure that makes it safe to rationalize having a second piece! Both the walnut oil and the arrow root might be hard to find in a traditional grocery store, but you should be able to locate them in a more “health oriented” stores.

Best Brownie Ever

Ingredients:

1 cup raw pecans

6 Tablespoons walnut oil, plus extra for the baking pan

½ cup agave nectar

2 whole omega-3 eggs

½ cup cocoa powder

¼ cup arrowroot

Sunspire chocolate chips and toasted, chopped pecans (unsalted) for “frosting”

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Oil an 8x8x2 inch baking pan with the walnut oil. In a food processor, grind the pecans to the consistency of meal. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the 6T walnut oil, agave nectar, eggs, cocoa, and arrowroot. Stir to blend. Pour into an oiled 8x8x2 inch baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Immediately put some of the Sunspire chocolate chips on the top of the brownies just when you pull the pan out of the oven. When melted, use a small spatula to spread. Sprinkle toasted pecans on top. Let cool, then cut into 1 inch squares.

Variation: I used ground almond flour in the dough rather than 1 cup raw pecans; you can purchase the ground almond flour in the baking section at Trader Joe’s.

You could also lose the chocolate chips and dust the top of the cooked brownies with a dusting of powdered sugar.

These are not “vegan” due to the incorporation of eggs, but they are gluten free and dairy free depending upon the type of chocolate chips you use for the frosting.

Adapted from: The UltraMetabolism Prescription, Dr. Mark Hyman available from: http://www.amazon.com/Ultrametabolism-Simple-Plan-Automatic-Weight/dp/0743272560





Classic Comforts

26 02 2012

I had a craving this week for a macaroni salad my Mom used to make when I was a kid, you know the one with the elbow macaroni, peas and onions? One of the challenges of being Vegan is how to get the taste of the comfort foods you remember but in a healthier, vegetable based way. 

Here’s my take on Pea and Onion Pasta Salad – brown rice based elbow macaroni by Tinkyada Pasta Joy (gluten-free), canned organic peas, a little finely diced red onion and Veganaise. Mix and refrigerate for a bit to allow the flavors to blend. Yum! 

That got me on a kick of trying to figure out how to make Vegan Enchiladas. I used corn tortillas (check the label because many brands have some gluten, etc. incorporated) and fried them in a bit of olive oil to soften them, added a mixture of rice and almond based “cheddar” cheeses, and sat them in a bed of homemade enchilada sauce from a wonderful recipe I found online (see: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/easy-enchilada-sauce-recipe/index.html – I just modified this to vegetable broth rather than chicken stock and used organic versions on the canned goods). Place the “cheese” filled rolled tortillas in a baking pan that has some of the homemade sauce in the bottom, cover with a little more sauce, a little “cheese” and place it in a 350* oven for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. Eat and enjoy! 

Tabbouleh is a wonderful staple for lunch. In this version I’ve added up about 2 cups (cooked) couscous (not gluten-free! You can substitute cooked Quinoa for the couscous if you are trying to lose the gluten) according to the package directions. The version I used today had some brown rice, lentils and spices already in the mix. I chopped up one bunch of fresh parsley finely. Make sure and dry it thoroughly before trying to chop it up or you will have a big mess! Two Roma tomatoes finely diced and a little bit of red onion diced. Put all of these ingredients in a large bowl with the juice of one lemon, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and tossed to mix up. 

I’ve been packing up all my food in single serving sized containers so that I can just grab them and throw them in my lunch bag so I don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking during the busy work week!

What’s your favorite comfort food? Have you experimented with making it more vegetarian friendly? Post your comments below!





Magnificent Menus (it’s what’s for dinner this week…)

29 01 2012

I recently received a new cookbook – ‘Thrive Foods’ by Brandon Brazier.  He is a professional Ironman Triathlete who has developed the Vega Optimized Meal Replacement that I have been using for quite some time now. It uses non-animal based protein sources and adds in everything from your daily multivitamin, complete set of essential amino acids, berry complex, chlorella, etc. all in an alkaline base to allow your body to absorb the nutrients more fully. Since taking it, my skin has become softer, my nails have grown stronger and I just feel much better.

I figured he must be “on” to something and so today I attempted a few of the recipes in his cookbook. I’ve been trying to spend some time on the weekend to prep all my vegetables and fruits for the week and pack everything up in single servings so that I can grab and go during the week.

Clockwise from the top we have roasted asparagus and Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower “Rice,” Red Lentil Patties, assorted fresh berries, Summer Succotash with Garlic Rosemary Sauce. All of these dishes are Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and full of freshness and flavor.

The easiest of all was the Cauliflower “Rice” – shredded cauliflower (about 2/3of a medium sized head of cauliflower using a medium sized grater) is put in a bowl and tossed with a couple teaspoons of curry powder and some sea salt. It’s then fried in a skillet for about 5 minutes with a little bit of melted coconut oil. It tastes wonderful, and makes a great mock grain to go with the homemade lentil patties! Brendan has done well with that one!

What are your favorite veggies dishes? Post in the comments section below. If you want any of the recipes, you can post that in the comments section as well.

I think I’m going to enjoy this book!





Green Goo Goblin Stew

29 10 2011

No boos for you!Ohhhh my lordie! Is this ever good! No boos around the dinner table for you (if you can get past the whole green thing)!! Your friends will be positively green with envy at your culinary skills! Ramp up the scary and put some roasted fingerling potatoes in the bowl before serving! They look just like scary fingers emerging from the goo!

Seriously, this is a fun stew that tastes similar to a Thai green chili base. It is so flavorful. I got the recipe when I attended a recent cooking demonstration at Native Foods given by Chef Tanya Petrovna. She shows you how to have fun and flavor that is beyond measure. One of my favorite restaurants! I haven’t had much experience with Thai cooking and I was surprised at how easy it was to recreate those flavors at home with her recipe. Soul satisfying green goo!

Try to use organic products wherever you can. Be good to you.

 Ingredients for Paste:

1 Tablespoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

½ teaspoon whole black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1-2 jalapeno, chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

3 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, finely chopped

2 green onions, chopped

2 Tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger (about a 2” piece)

Zest from two limes

2 Tablespoons lime juice

 

Ingredients for Goo Stew:

1 cup chopped spinach

2 cans coconut milk (I use light, just make sure there is no sugar in the one you buy)

1 cup water

1 zucchini, medium, sliced in ¼” half moons

¼ pound green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1” pieces

12 ounce package firm tofu, drained and sliced into ¼“ chunks

1 ½ cups whole cashews (raw, unsalted)

¼ maple syrups (use the real deal, no Aunt Jemima here!)

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 cup fresh basil (for garnish)

Lime wedges (for garnish)

 

First, make the green goo paste:

In a small skillet (no oil) hit the coriander, cumin and whole black pepper to toast slightly.

Grind the freshly roasted spices with a mortar and pestle (get creative with a meat tenderizer or something if you don’t have a mortar/pestle).

Add the salt, jalapenos, cilantro, lemongrass, green onions, ginger, lime juice, zest and continue to mash the mix with the mortar and pestle until it becomes a paste. Set aside.  This makes enough paste for a couple of batches of the stew. You can freeze half of the paste for use another day.

 Turn the paste into a stew:

In a blender put in 6 Tablespoons of the paste, 1 cup chopped spinach, and one can of the coconut milk and puree.

In a stock pot, pour in the spinach coconut milk puree, the second can of coconut milks, water, zucchini, green beans, tofu, and cashews and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the maple syrup, soy sauce, and sea salt and simmer for another 5 minutes.

I pureed a few cups of the goo, then added it back to the pot to thicken it up a bit.

Serve over a little rice or pasta and garnish with fresh basil and lime wedges…..and maybe those roasted fingerling potato “fingers”……Boo!  

Get creative! Any green veggies will do in the goo!

 

This recipe isn’t available in Tanya’s book, but she’s got lots of other great, healthy options. It’s available from:  Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook

Try one of Tanya’s restaurants:  www.nativefoods.com  





Bread is not Boring!

9 10 2011

“I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.” John 6:47-48   

I had an epiphany while working through my Bible study today that I would love to share with you. It involved bread. It’s always good to study around food, no? It’s probably why I paid attention in the first place…..

There is significance to bread in Scripture. It was used as a staple for nutrition. It was also used as an offering to God in the Old Testament.

In the case of David, we know that when he fled from Saul, he ran to Nod and visited Ahimelech who was fearful of David because he knew of David’s conquest over Goliath. David told him a lie that he was “on a secret mission” for Saul and asked for something to eat.

“Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.” But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here–provided the men have kept themselves from women. David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s things are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the LORD and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.” 1 Samuel 21:3-6

During the time of David, bread was offered to God as a way to remind God of the covenant that he made with his people (Israel). This is the “Shewbread” that we see in Scripture. It was placed on the altar, and it was 12 loaves of what is thought to be unleavened bread. It was replaced with fresh bread each Sabbath.  

David was given bread that had been offered to God. There is some meaning to this, it is a reminder to David by God of his commitment and covenant to protect him.

Jesus also used 5 loaves to feed the five thousand.

“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food. Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 14: 13-21

Jesus reminded the disciples and the crowd that he alone is the provisioner of all our needs. He can and will satisfy and sustain us.

  • Five loaves fed David when he fled from Saul.
  • Five loaves fed the 5,000. 
  • Twelve loaves on the altar of the tabernacle as an offering to the Lord.
  • Twelve apostles.
  • Consecrated bread represents the presence of the Lord. It is this bread of the presence that was given to David to remind him of the promise of God.
  • Jesus tells us that he is the bread of life.
  • We use bread during the communion ritual as a reminder of Christ’s body.

In the Old Testament bread is used to symbolize things beyond the obvious of nutrition; the presence of God, unity among a group, wisdom. In the New Testament, bread represents Christ himself, unity of his Kingdom and the Church.

When Jesus tells us that he is the bread of life, he is telling us in short that he is the embodied presence of God. He is wisdom, and unity, and the ultimate nutrition. He alone can satisfy your needs.

Doesn’t that just stir your soul to no end? I hope so! Bread, indeed, is not boring! Grasp at your bread hungrily and greedily….and maybe dip it in a little olive oil and vinegar with some cracked pepper as you do! May it become a reminder of who your Maker is and what promises he has made to us each and every time you have your daily bread.

Reference:

David: Seeking a Heart Like His  (Beth
Moore)

Holman Bible Dictionary 





Sassy Soup

20 09 2011

(AKA Chickenless Noodle Soup)

What always makes you feel better? A bowl of hot soup, no? How can you make this in a vegetarian format while maintaining all the flavor? Why, with my latest discovery….Shirataki noodles….of course!

They are tofu based, but they look, taste and feel like pasta. They are low carb, low-calorie, sugar fee, gluten-free miracles!  You can find them in next to the tofu in the refrigerator section. They may not be in all grocery stores yet, but you can find them in your natural stores for sure.

Yield should be about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 (organic) carrots peeled and sliced (or 12 mini carrots sliced lengthwise)
  • 2 stalks (organic) celery, diced
  • 1 (organic) yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1  8 ounce package shirataki noodles (I used the “spaghetti” shape)

Directions

Heat oil in a large soup pan and sauté the mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions) for 3 to 4 minutes until veggies are just barely beginning to brown on the edges. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

While waiting for the soup, empty a bag of shirataki noodles into a strainer and rinse thoroughly. As the bag I used stated, “to reduce the authentic aroma.” A statement like this and you know I’m going to be encouraged to sniff, of course, and all I can say is learn from the error of my ways! You should rinse the noodles thoroughly! Drain them well! When the stock is ready, add the noodles, give it a quick stir, and boil for about 3 minutes more. Check for flavor and adjust seasonings as necessary. Portion into bowls, include a side of crusty bread, a little salad, or cornbread and then eat and enjoy! 

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the shirataki noodles! They have a great flavor without all the calories.  For more info on the noodles, here’s a link to the website for the brand that I used:  http://www.house-foods.com/tofu/tofu_shirataki.aspx

Mmmmm! Just what Docktah Mom ordered! Enjoy!

      





Sweet Potato Turnovers

30 07 2011

Ingredients

2 pounds sweet potatoes, whole and unpeeled

1/4 cup granulated organic sugar

1/4 cup organic brown sugar

1 lemon, zested

2/3 cup almond meal/almond flour (ground almonds, available from sources such as  Trader Joes or Red Mill)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon honey

4 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (2 packages)

1 egg, beaten

Powdered sugar, for dusting

 Directions

 Preheat the oven to 400*F.

 Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil over medium heat and cook until soft, approximately 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin. Place in bowl and mash with a fork. Add the sugars and mix thoroughly. Stir in the lemon zest, ground almonds, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and honey.

Unfold the puff pastry and using a 3 to 3 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles of the dough as possible. If you don’t have a cutter, use a small bowl or glass and cut around it with a knife. Put about a tablespoon of sweet potato filling on each circle, then fold the circles in half. Press the edges together and then crimp with a fork to seal. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush the top of each turnover with beaten egg.  Bake until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Watch it carefully! Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes then dust with sifted powdered sugar.

 Yield should be about 20 turnovers

For an extra treat, bake up the extra scraps of puff pastry. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar before baking.

I came up with quite a bit of leftover filling. I put it in a small springform pan (6”) and then covered the top with puff pastry pieces and then sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar. I baked it up for 15 minutes for a crustless sweet potato pie! Yummy!

Recipe adapted from “Outta Sight Sweet Potato Turnovers,” Aaron McCargo, Jr., Food Network.








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