Thursday, December 26, 2013

double dip christmas party

Oh what a Christmas. I don't think I have ever had a hawaiian christmas that was so christmassy! So many friends and family eating so much amazing homemade food, drinking way too much champagne, and singing every christmas song know to us at the top of our lungs. Now that is a christmas. Actually, that was just christmas eve! But anyway, the party was tons of fun and I made two epic dips to bring along. Both vegan, one my own recipe, one not, but both very easy and healthy!

vegan spinach dip

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 10-12 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, cut in strips
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

First blend the cashews and water in blender until very smooth and set aside (but leave it in the blender) to thicken. Dice the onion and garlic. Heat oil on stove top in large frying pan (preferably one with a lid). Sauté onion and garlic in oil until soft and translucent. Start adding the fresh spinach a few handfuls at a time, or as much as you can fin in your pan. The lid helps to steam the spinach down, so you can fit more in the pan. Once all spinach is wilted, remove from heat. I don't like overcooked spinach, just lightly cooked, so it is up to your personal preference how long you cook it! 

Now finish the sauce. Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and salt the the cashew paste in the blender and whiz until smooth. Chop up the parsley and slice water chestnuts into thin strips. Add parsley, water chestnuts, sauce, and cooked spinach mixture to a large bowl to combine. This dip is good warm right when you make it or cold out of the fridge, enjoy! 

beet bruschetta 

  • three medium beets
  • 1/3 red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Trim beets, cut in half and cover with water in a pot. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until beets are tender when poked with a fork. Drain beets and remove the skins under cold running water. Cut into 1/4 inch cubes. Dice red onion and basil and add to the beets. Add oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. I found that this bruschetta was better after a little marinating in the fridge. Serve with salty crackers or baguette! (I obviously had mine with tortilla chips, so anything goes).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

christmas cookies

I have an amazing vegan friend, Jill, who has taught me that you can transform pretty much anything into a vegan option. Making cookies vegan is far easier than expected; using earth balance vegan buttery spread instead of butter and flax meal instead of eggs can change any cookie recipe to suit your vegan lifestyle. We made four kinds of cookies on one 90 degree Maui december day. Equipped with holiday aprons and Pandora's Christmas music station, we got into the Hawaiian Christmas spirit. Jill found two of these recipes on VegWeb, but the shortbread cookies and Anzac cookies have been in her family for years.

*note: we doubled all of these recipes and made made TONS of cookies! I'm not quite sure how many each single batch will make, but you can never have too many cookies around the holidays!

Shortbread Cookies

  • 3/4 pound vegan margarine (earth balance)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • sliced almonds
  • mericino cherries

Combine margarine, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer. Add flour and salt, dough will be sticky so wrap it in plastic and pop it in the fridge for about an hour (we put ours in the freezer to save time). When it is cold enough to manage, form into balls, and roll in sliced almonds. Now poke your thumb in the middle of the ball to make room for the cherry. Cookies can be close, but not touching. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the bottom looks golden. Let cool before transferring, they are very fragile right out of the oven so be patient!

Sugar Cookies

  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp extra firm tofu, mashed or pureed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • holiday decorations!

Cream margarine, sugar, tofu puree, and vanilla with electric mixer. Sift in dry ingredients and combine. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour (it might not take that long to chill for everyone, keep in mind this was a 90 degree day in hawaii). Separate dough into two balls, roll out on flour coated counter and cut into desired shapes (dolphins!). These cookies don't rise or spread so be sure you roll them out the thickness you want. Sprinkle or decorate and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Allow cookies to cool slightly before transferring to wire rack.

Anzac Cookies
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 Tbsp molasses, or golden syrup (golden syrup is really hard to find in the US)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp hot water

Combine oats, flour, sugar, and coconut in large bowl. In a saucepan on low heat melt the margarine. Add the syrup, baking soda, and hot water, mix well and remove from heat. Add liquid to oat mixture and combine gently. Roll dough into small balls, about one teaspoon each, and arrange on cookie sheet at least 1- 1/2 inches apart (they spread a lot). Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes. Allow to cool before transferring. 

Peppermint Creams

  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 4 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 12oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine syrup, margarine, and peppermint extract with electric mixer. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix well. This "dough" will be very crumbly but form into small balls with your hands and press flat. Next, melt chocolate chips either in the microwave or on a double boiler. 

Start to dip the white patties into the chocolate and spread around with fingers. This is very messy but very fun. Place them on a tray covered in foil or wax paper. 

When all are covered with chocolate place in refrigerator to cool for about 20 to 30 minutes. 

Yum! Just like York Peppermint Patties! Keep them in the fridge or wrap them in foil. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

cranberry relish

Who wouldn't want a cute little aloha jar of raw cranberry relish for the holidays? Well, don't give me one, I've been eating this stuff non-stop for days! I made a double batch and have been slathering it on everything! Toast, scones, wraps, sandwiches, cereal, and even in smoothies! I was going to try and change the recipe enough to make it my own, but its just too good how it is! The only thing I added from the original, which you can find here, was some raw ginger. 

In your food processor combine:
  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 apple, cored and cubed with skin
  • 1/2 orange, cubed with peel (but not the gross butt if it has one)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 inch piece of peeled ginger (about a Tablespoon if chopped/grated)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Blend until relishy! I blended mine quite a bit because I kept finding chunks of orange peel! I had to pick some of the big chunks out, but other than that it turned out perfect!

Pack in jars with pretty fabric over the lid, and give 'em away! Make sure you save some for yourself! Lasts about a week in the fridge. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

all things pumpkin

Before I get started I would just like to express my gratitude to this beautiful day and these stunning flowers that I get to gaze at over my computer screen as I construct this blog post. I couldn't ask for a better situation. And as promised, here are some pumpkin recipes! If you missed the last post, I baked a pumpkin, and you can too, check it out here.

I am totally a hummus addict, classic hummus, black bean hummus, beet hummus, herbed hummus, you name it. So naturally, I made this:

Pumpkin hummus

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
Throw all ingredients into your food processor and whizz. It will be very thick so add water as needed to get the consistency you want, I added about 3 to 4 Tbsp. Top with pepitas and choose your dipper (sesame thins were my weapon of choice). 

Yes, there is more! Vegan pumpkin cookies! Every year for as long as I've been out of my parents house I have made pumpkin cookies for Thanksgiving. They are light and fluffy and cakey, mmmmm. I usually do a non-vegan version with white chocolate chips but the times are changing and the cookies have to change too. This year's pumpkin cookies are egg and butter free with pecans and vegan carob chips, and they couldn't have turned out better!!

Vegan pumpkin cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup earth balance, at room temp.
  • 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal mixed with 6 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup vegan carob chips
First thing you want to do is mix the flaxseed meal with water and set it aside (this is your egg substitute). In a smaller mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. In a larger mixing bowl combine the sugar, maple syrup, earth balance, pumpkin, and vanilla. Then add the flax mixture. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, a little at a time, until fully combined. Now mix in the goodies: pecans and carob chips. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and spoon out cookie dough onto trays. Cookies should be 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before transferring to wire rack or plate. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Yum! These are so dangerous! I baked them at my mom's house and ended up eating 4 of them before I even got them home! Ooops! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

pure pumpkin puree

It's officially fall! Not that it makes much of a difference here on maui, except that the waves are back, the weather is finally starting to cool off, and we just did some pumpkining! If you are wondering what pumpkining is, it's basically doing anything that involves a pumpkin. Baking, carving, roasting, toasting, smashing, etc. This year, instead of carving my large orange symbol of autumn, I decided to bake it! It's super easy, and now I have about 8 cups of homemade pumpkin puree in my freezer!

I have already made a pumpkin chili and some pumpkin energy balls, which I will get to later, and I am still planning on vegan pumpkin cookies and a vegan pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving (which is also my birthday this year!! woo hooo!). As for the pumpkin baking, it goes a little something like this...

Cut your pumpkin in half from top to bottom, scoop out all the innards (save the seeds to roast if you so desire), and cut out the top and bottom stems. 

Place halves face down on foil lined cookie sheet. I had to use two because mine was a rather large pumpkin, almost 9 pounds!

Bake at 400 degrees F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The skin will darken and separate from the flesh and you can test it by just poking it with a fork. It should be very soft! The bigger the pumpkin, the longer the cooking time. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool for easy handling. Peel off all of the skin and cut into chunks. Throw them into your food processor and puree! 

Store in airtight containers in the freezer, make sure you don't fill them too full though, the pumpkin still has a lot of water in it and will expand while freezing. 

I'm going to have lots of my own pumpkin recipes coming your way, but for now, I'd like to share one that wasn't my own, but that is rocking my world right now! These pumpkin spice energy bits are super easy and store and travel well! 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

veggie stack

While living in Australia we discovered the veggie stack. There was an awesome little fresh produce market and deli called Be Fresh that made a variation of this baked-all veggie-layered casserole.  They definitely had cheese in theirs, which melted into a golden crust on top and was then smothered in sweet chili sauce. Genius. But I, of course, have created a vegan version of their delectable masterpiece. And in the process I have realized that the possibilities of stackable vegetables is virtually endless. So, play around, substitute, add, or take out any veggies you like!

My veggies included:

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 sweet potato 

Slice all veggies into thin rounds or strips, think "lasagna noodles".

My "cheese" layer, which I like to call vegan ricotta, goes a little something like this:

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 10 oz tofu
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • handful of fresh herbs (I did chives, basil, and parsley)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

Layer your veggies however you like in a lightly greased baking dish, I did sweet potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, 1/2 of the tofu cheese, sweet potatoes, eggplant, other 1/2 of the tofu cheese, and topped it off with zucchini.

Ready to go in the oven!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, bake for 40 minutes covered with foil, and then ten minutes uncovered. It sure doesn't look vegan!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

broccoli millet burgers + basil aioli

So, I know my last post was incredibly boring and pictureless, sorry! Hopefully this one is more entertaining, and way more delicious!

Another kind of veggie burger, yay! These were SUPER easy to make and they held up really well! The original recipe, here, calls for couscous but I am just in love with millet! There are a few other changes that I made to the original as well, but check it out because it also looks dinner worthy.

So, start with the millet:

  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 3/4 cup water

Combine millet and water in saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 min. Mine was done around 17 min. All of the water should be absorbed and the millet should fluff up with a fork (kind of like you do with couscous.). This should make about two cups cooked millet.

While your millet is cooking I suggest getting the aioli prepared so it has time to marinate. It is best when done ahead of time, for all of the flavors to infuse.

  • 2 cloves garlic (if you aren't a garlic freak like I am I would suggest just one clove)
  • few basil leaves (I always use more than a few because of my over-productive basil plant)
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon, unless its super juicy, should be about 1 tsp
  • 1/4 cup vegenaise 

Chop garlic as fine as you can. A press would be nice, but I prefer the smear and scrape method; smear the minced garlic on the cutting board with the knife flat, then scrape it off with the blade and do it again, you are going for a paste-like consistency. Chop basil as fine as you can as well. Combine all your aioli ingredients in a little bowl and let chill in the fridge.

Now for the burgers:

  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 small onion or about 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • small handful of fresh parsley
  • 2 cups cooked millet (previously prepared)
yes! I got a brand spankin' new food processor! Hallelujah!

Throw broccoli and onion into your food process and chop until small, doesn't have to be fine. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until combined. Its a fun consistency, like green chunky play-dough. Make them into paddies and place on a grilling or baking sheet. As we all know by now, I do not have an oven (I live in a tiny studio!) so I cooked my burgers on my gas grill on a grilling sheet. They could easily be done in the oven though! Just whack them into a preheated 400 degree oven on a cookie sheet and bake them for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

We ate our burgers with avocado, tomato, spinach, and basil aioli in whole wheat pita pockets. Outstanding.

I would like to give a shout out to my bother and dear mother who bought me a food processor for my birthday! Thank you thank you thank you! I couldn't have asked for anything better! And I am especially stoked because my birthday isn't until Thanksgiving! But now I can get into the pumpkin recipes early! Mahalo to my wonderful family.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

what is gluten?

This was a little research report I did for my nutrition class recently. I thought it would be nice to just share some info!

The Gluten Project

What is gluten?

Gluten is the term used for the compound protein found in the grains wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is found in any food product that uses these grains. Some commonly known food products that contain gluten are bread, flour, pasta, tortillas, crackers, cakes, and cereal. Oats do not naturally contain gluten, but they are commonly processed on the same machinery, so they are cross-contaminated.

There are hundreds of food products out there that we wouldn’t even guess contain gluten. Since gluten is the part of the grain responsible for making things thick and starchy, it is used to add texture in everything from chocolate bars, to salad dressings, to low fat ice cream. A few other unsuspecting gluten carriers are soy sauce, mustard, hot dogs, pickles, and chewy candies. Even instant coffee and ground beef can have gluten added to it to bulk it up.

Can I eat gluten?

People who cannot eat gluten have Celiac disease, also known as Celiac Sprue. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that causes your defensive white blood cells to attack your own small intestine. The damage and inflammation to the lining of the small intestine inhibits absorption of nutrients and water. It is triggered by gluten and common symptoms are malnutrition, weight loss, diarrhea, stomach pain, and fatigue. Celiac disease is genetic, and it may appear later in life, as your body becomes more intolerant to gluten. Not everyone who has Celiac Sprue in their genes has Celiac disease, or they may just not have it yet.

The treatment for Celiac disease is a gluten free diet. There are many gluten free products available today, including, gluten free tortillas, crackers, cookies, and oats. There are many other fiber and nutrient packed grains that don’t contain gluten as well such as quinoa, millet, rice, amaranth, and buckwheat. Also available are non-wheat, non-gluten flours. Some easy substitutes are coconut flour, garbanzo flour, millet flour, quinoa flour, or buckwheat flour.

It is important for someone with Celiac disease to eat a diet of unprocessed whole foods, and foods they make themselves. This way, there can be no hidden gluten. 

It has come to my attention that a lot of people who buy gluten free products and leave gluten out of there diets may be missing out on essential nutrients. A gluten free diet doesn't mean a healthier diet. Whole grains are very good for us, if we can digest them. So, with this information, choose your diet wisely, and listen to your body. My advice to you would be; if you can eat gluten, eat it in healthy whole grains, because there is no reason not to.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

crunchy blueberry almond granola bars

Yet another attempt at the perfect snack. Is it even out there? Maybe it is, maybe its not, I don't know.
But I do know one thing, I need snacks all the time. In all shapes, sizes, flavors, and colors. I am.... a snacker. So, I continue my quest for homemade and healthy things I can take with me and eat anytime, anywhere.

These crunchy creations were my first attempt at a baked bar. They worked out pretty well! Although I was expecting them to be more of a chewy bar than a crunchy bar. hmmm, any ideas? What would make them chewy?

Back to the bars:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Melt pb, coconut oil, and brown rice syrup over low heat, just enough to combine completely. Chop almonds to desired size and combine with all other dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour melted syrup mixture over dry ingredients and toss until completely coated. Transfer mixture onto lined cookie sheet and spread out to the edges. Use a piece of plastic wrap to compress it all into the tray, the more flat and compressed you can get it, the better your bars are going to stick together. The plastic wrap is just so your hands don't stick to the mixture. If you have another method of compacting it, feel free! And let me know what it is!

Place cookie sheet in oven on middle rack and back for 15-20. If you want crispier bars, just bake them a little longer, at 20 minutes they will still be chewy.

Remove from oven and allow to cool before moving. If you try to cut them, or move them when it is hot, it will all just fall apart, and you will have delicious granola! So, when they are mostly cool, lift the whole tray out with the parchment paper, cut into bars! I have to store mine in the fridge because of the ant problem in hawaii, but I think they would do fine just on the counter, in another climate without ants.