Web Feast Friday: Rawmageddon Begins


Friday the First can mean only one thing:  RAWMAGEDDON has begun!  Our first 30 Day Challenge went surprising well as we managed to post almost every day during January.  We missed a couple of days, but definitely feel pretty confident that we can continue our streak.  Now that February has begun, 30 Day Challenge #2 has begun in which we eat raw every meal, every day.  Day 1 is in the books with juices, smoothies, nuts, and salads dominating the menu.  We have some interesting recipes queued up for a few occasions and look forward to sharing some of these with our faithful readers.  In the meantime, we leave you with some great ideas for your Super Bowl Sunday festivities!

Anything that’s vegan AND fully loaded has to be good.  Right?

Sunday brunch idea to get primed for the big game!

CUPCAKES!!

For those of you taking on Rawmageddon with us, add this to your Big Game must-cook list.

I’ve ask myself this question so many times.  Now I have an answer.

If you haven’t liked any ideas thus far, here’s a whole list of ideas to help you write your Super Bowl menu.

Here’s the “big game” I’m really looking forward to this weekend.  J-Pow!!

I couldn’t help myself.  I had to end things with some more BTnH.

Souper Sunday – Asian Persuasion Edition: Lotus Root


Any way you plate lotus root, it looks beautiful.

Any way you plate lotus root, it looks beautiful.

There are a few things that I like to do when I’m feeling blue:

  1. Look at this picture of Burglekutt from the 1988 movie gem Willow 

    He totally deserved it.

    He totally deserved it.

  2. Watch any SNL “What Up With That” skit
  3. Wander around Asian grocery stores and buy the craziest looking things to experiment with in the kitchen

Not since my military days living in Korea have I been so emerged in the process of discovering new foods as these last few weeks, thanks to my friend Evonne who lived in Japan for 5 years. Oh man, be sure to tune in tomorrow for her guest blog post with more of the awesome (and easy) Asian market eats.

Until a few days ago we had never worked with, seen, or even heard of lotus root – so since then we learned a few things:

What is lotus root?

Looking much like a mixture of a parsnip and a sweet potato and growing up to 4 feet long, a lotus root grows underwater. It is a common food in Asian countries for both consumption and medicinal purposes in treating respiratory issues.

What does lotus root taste like? How do you cook it?

The root can be eaten either raw or cooked and has a mildly bitter, crispy taste simliar to jicama. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used raw in salads, added to soups and stews, steamed as a side dish, or pan fried (as prepared in this recipe). The older a lotus root gets, the darker it becomes – so shop for a firm, light colored root then keep refrigerator.

Much like any root vegetable, there really isn’t a WRONG way to prepare a lotus root. The most common prep is to peel, slice horizontally to show off the lace-like interior, then eaten raw or cooked to taste. Check out this website for more ideas.

Does lotus root have nutritional benefits?

Absolutely! Half a cup of lotus root contains 73% of your daily Vitamin C recommended requirements along with moderate levels of iron, b-complex, and minerals such as copper, zinc, and magnesium  All these benefits at just 40 calories per half cup serving. Check out more benefits here.

The fun part about lotus root is how BEAUTIFUL it looks! You can be a show off to friends and family while keeping to your resolutions. We served the recipe below with soba noodles and miso soup.

Stir-fried Lotus Root*

From Asian Vegan Kitchen 

asian_lotus

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 11 ounces of lotus root (You can find this in the freezer section of your local Asian market)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds

Heat vegetable oil in a broad sauce pan or wok, and stir-fry lotus root over high heat for 1 minute, or until glazed with oil.  Add in chili and mix together.  Turn heat to low, and add remaining ingredients except sesame seeds.  Stir-fry lotus root until most of liquid is absorbed and lotus root is cooked.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and transfer to serving dish.

We served  our lotus root with soba noodles which were prepared following the instructions on the package.

Spreadable, salty, a little funky, and loaded with umami?


 

A good friend of mine sent me an article from the New York Times highlighting a food called misozuke.  I read the description from the article which mentioned three of my favorite words:  spreadable, funky, and umami.  I was instantly intrigued and consulted our in-house Japanese expert for more details and a potential recipe.  Apparently misozuke is the result of aging tofu in a “marinade” of miso anywhere from 2 months to 2 years.  It produces something that resembles cheese, but with an extremely unique flavor. I quickly followed the link from the article to Rau Om, which is an online purveyor of the product.

 

Without any hesitation, I order both original and kombu flavors and have already found myself brainstorming all the dippin’ and spreadin’ possibilities.  I also found a recipe that I intend on trying after I get a good taste of what misozuke should taste like.  A full review of the product will follow the misozuke feast.  If anyone has experience eating or making misozuke, we would love to hear from you!

Monday Meal Planz

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The first Monday of 2013 got us thinking about some kind of themed day.  We already have Web Feast Fridays, and from time to time, we’ll post on Souper Sunday.  Why not add another topic to provide us with a little guidance and inspiration while tackling our “365 Days of Blogging” goal.

Actually, I am pretty sure that some of our favorite blogs actually post meal and menu planning-style posts on Mondays, and I’m confident that ours will absolutely reflect our current cooking passions/interests/obsessions.  Whether you end up planning your weekly menu around this post or not is entirely up to you.  At the very least, we hope you find something interestingly tasty to share with friends and family at some point during the week.

Those of you still in detox mode will love this!  I never thought of this combination, but I love all these ingredients equally on their own!

Our raw adventure begins next month, so in the meantime, I plan on preparing this at least once before then.

Anything hickory-smoked served with tator tots will ALWAYS earn a spot on the blog!

We love this blog and you will love this recipe!

Easy + Glazed = Mealtime

What would a Meal Plan be without ‘zerts!

Keep the comments and feedback coming!  We appreciate everything you are willing to share with us.  Since we plan on posting each and every day of 2013, we will present you with plenty of chances!  Thanks for reading!

 

Oh baby I like it raw

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(I can’t decide if I should say “sorry” or “you’re welcome” for the last two posts having moderately imbedded 90’s hip-hop references, so I guess just take your proclivity for being offended over your 90’s hip-hop accumen and multiple that by your ratio for giving-a-shit, and you have the answer.)

Evan and I choose to live our lives by the “if some is good, more is better” philosophy. Why have one bicycle when you can own a dozen? There is no way one bag is enough, every life occasion requires a different shape and style of bag (we somehow both agree that using the linen closet exclusively for bags and owning one pair of sheets is not only acceptable, it’s down right sensible).  And don’t even get me started on the cat lady-style quantity of owl figurines.

We became curious surmising that if veganism makes beam with joy, what could be possible if we moved towards raw!  For now we have agreed that every day we will eat at least one raw meal – an easy feat for mega-salad lover Evan and a true challenge for microwave oatmeal Hayley. I needed some help so, in typical overdoing style, bought every raw book I could get my hands on. Most books called for more kitchen gear which I am totally in support of, yet we are already storing shit in debatably sanitary nooks throughout the house. So praise be to Raw Food: A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day whose recipes called for a food processer and, in most cases, less then 5 steps in a meal.

I want to face plant into that apple thing.

We will keep you updated on our lil raw challenge, but enjoy the bomb dishes that we have made so far (plus a little dessert inspiration from Cafe of Life with a few changes.

 

Red and Green Wild Rice*

I would sneak this directly from the fridge forgetting it was guilt-free.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup wild rice, soaked for 3 days
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice from 1/4 of a lemon
  • salt, to taste

Soak the wild rice for 3 days; rinse and change the water every morning and evening.

Toss the wild rice, cubed avocado, and tomato slices into a bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and lemon juice then toss again and add salt if needed.

 

Broccoli Salad with Raisins*

How do raisins magically make everything better?

Ingredients:

  • 1 large crown of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 carrots, coarsely grated
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 5 sun-dried tomatos, cut into small pieces
  • 1 apple, cubed
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Coat the broccoli with salt and olive oil to soften it.

Add the other fruits and vegetables to the broccoli. Sprinkle the raisins and sunflower seeds into the salad.

Dress with lemon juice and toss thoroughly.

 

Weekend Taco Special*

We used the taco meat for sushi filling, on sandwiches, and for salads later in the week.

Ingredients (for filling):

  • 1/2 cup pistachios soaked
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, soaked
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 inches of a leek
  • 2 tsp nama shoyu (raw soy sauce)
  • taco spices

CHOOSE YOUR ADDITIONAL FILLINGS

  • tomatos, corn, pepper, cucumber, celery, yellow onion, jalapenos, salsa

Soak the nuts for 8 hours.

Pulse the nuts in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped. Take out the nuts. Put the carrots, leeks, and nama shoyu in the food processor and pulse until vegetables are finely chopped.

Toss the nuts and vegetables together in a bowl. Season with the spices.

Stuffed Persimmons with Date Puree*

I would choose this nom bomb over cake on most days. It’s THAT good!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • salt, nutmeg, and cayenne – to taste
  • 12 dates
  • 3 persimmons, frozen

Hollow out (from top until about halfway down) then freeze persimmons for at least 8 hours and take out only prior to stuffing and serving.

Combine all ingredients well and let cool in fridge for 2-3 hours.

Stuff fruit with date mixture and serve. Can be drizzled with other fruit purees such as raspberry or banana. Delicious sweet treat!

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Cooking with Coconut Oil: Zucchini Bread & Quinoa Pilaf with “Chicken”


If the Case for Coconut Oil post didn’t convince you of the magic of coconut oil, these tasty examples of sweet and savory uses of it will.

MEAL-REPLACEMENT ZUCCHINI BREAD WITH MAPLE STREUSEL TOPPING

Okay, so it may not be the healthiest options for a meal replacement, but this slight adaptation on Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s version from The Joy of Vegan Baking (my all time fav vegan baking cookbook) is so hearty and irresistible, you can easily fill up on accident. This is an example of replacing canola oil in a recipe with the healthier coconut oil without compromising texture or taste.

Best eaten with a glass of coconut milk, a bib, and an elastic waistband.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed or 4 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer (equivalent to 3 eggs)
  • 1/2 cup water (6 tbsp if using Ener-G)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two 8 x 4 x 2 inch loaf pans, 4 mini loaf pans, or 24 muffin tins (use coconut oil!)

In a mixer or food processor, combine the flaxseed and water (or Ener-G and water) and whip until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the oil, vinegar, and sugar, and combine. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla. If using a food processor, transfer the oil/vinegar/sugar combination to a large bowl with zucchini/vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add the nuts and raisins to sifted ingredients. Stir the dry mixture into the wet  until just combined. Divide the batter into the pans.

To make topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and maple extract in a small bowl and stir to combine. Use pastry cutter or fork and cut earth balance into mix until crumbly texture. Sprinkle topping evenly across the top of each pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes for stand loaves, 40-55 minutes for mini loaves, or 30-35 minutes for muffins.  Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center.

ZUCCHINI BREAD NUTRITION (1/9 of loaf): 288 calories – 10 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 16 mg sodium– 47 g carbs – 3 g fiber – 29 g sugar – 3 g protein- 6 WW points

QUINOA PILAF WITH “CHICKEN” *v/gf

Evan took one bite and said, “this stuff tastes just like Rice-a-Roni with chicken.” In our world, that is a complement. Not only is this meal packed with protein, healthy fats, essntial vitamins and amino acids, it is super easy to make and crazy inexpensive (around $2/serving).

Your mind will think it's a cheat day...your body will whoop it up.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fresh sage
  • 6-10 oz seitan or tofu, cubed
  • 4 cups kale
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion, celery, and carrot in hot oil until tender (about 5-7 minutes). Add the zucchini, quinoa, broth, seasoning, and sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat and cover until liquid has absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, de-stem the kale and tear/chop the leaves into bite sized pieces. Add to skillet or wok with either cooking spray or 1/2 tsp oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly, until kale is tender. Do not overcook.

Stir in the seitan or tofu and stir into the quinoa mix.  Serve pilaf on a bed of kale, makes 4 servings.

QUINOA PILAF NUTRITION: 367 calories – 11 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 748 mg sodium– 49 g carbs – 7 g fiber – 7 g sugar – 21 g protein- 7 WW points

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Monday meal planning: Cabbage soup, vegan goulash, avocado sandwich, & roasted vegetables

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I have a dream.

In this dream, I am spending my Sunday evenings basking in the possibility of a new week by creating a master grocery list to construct beautiful, nightly meals for my mini family. Evan and I breeze through our door after a fulfilling day at work, change into breathable yet well-fitting dinner clothes, pour a glass of pinot, choose from one of our many aprons, and spend the early evening making a beautiful meal in between flirtatious tickle fights. Then we share that meal on our roomy kitchen table over warm lighting and stimulating conversation. Ahhh….

In my waking life, I am unemployed and when Evan comes home we put on our sweatpants, hold the fridge open for five, energy-wasting minutes before we pull out whatever concoction we can throw together with a few minutes and microwave. We walk right past the magazine and mail holder that was once the kitchen table and eat dinner on the couch while leaning over an end-table. At least there is warm lighting, but it’s coming from the glow of Hulu off our laptops. Oh, and we finished off the last of the pinot while watching WWII documentaries last night. *sigh*

I’m an idealist, and I will hold on tight to that dream..but in the meantime, if the latter situation sounds more like you’re style, might as well accommodate reality and have some quick things cooked up and ready to be eaten. Meal planning is a bit of a science, balancing what is in season with your likes while remaining cognisant of money and balanced nutrition. We have found the best technique is to go to the grocery store with only one special meal in mind (don’t let the idealism die!), but then just purchase a healthy amount of whatever is in season, which is usually also less expensive.  Then you can build your meal plans using a recipe-builder tool like the one on Allrecipes. Just type in the ingredients you purchased and it brings up recipes that include your fare.

Finally, we have staples that we cook every week – usually lentils, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and a marinated protein like tofu or tempeh. Your best bet is to cook when you have time and when you’re feeling happy, we believe that how you feel manifests in how well your food turns out…so step one is always GET HAPPY! This week was clean-out-the-fridge-of-dying-vegetables  week, so enjoy these peasant inspired ideas!

“CALORIE FREE” CABBAGE SOUP *gluten-free

This soup comes with consequences...eat it only around friends.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green beans, fresh is best!
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to tast

Spray pot with non stick cooking spray saute onions carrots and garlic for 5 minutes. Add broth, Tomato paste, cabbage, green beans, basil, oregano and Salt & Pepper to taste.

Simmer for a about 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are tender then add the zuccini and simmer for another 5 or so minutes. Makes 7-8 cups, serving = 1 cup.

 CABBAGE SOUP NUTRITION: 28 calories – 0 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 55 mg sodium– 6 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 3 g sugar – 1 g protein- 0-1 WW points

MOM’S VEGAN GOULASH

Use spelt or other GF pasta to make the celiac's happy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box elbow macaroni (I used Vitaspelt elbows)
  • 1 cup yves or boca soy crumbles (check for vegan-ness)
  • 1 can diced tomatos
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3-5 tsp bouillon, to taste (I used 4.5 tsp Better than Bouillon vegetable base…a vegan kitchen staple)

Cook macaroni al dente, drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking.

Combine garlic and onion and saute for 3-5 minutes until onion began to look translucent. Add the remainder of ingredients, except pasta, and cook for 5 minutes until warm and combined. Add in pasta and simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Makes 7-8 cups – serving = 1 cup.

VEGAN GOULASH NUTRITION : 157 calories – 8 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 559 mg sodium– 30 g carbs – 5 g fiber – 6 g sugar – 10 g protein- 3 WW points

AVOCADO SANDWICH

(LATS sandwich..lemon, avocado, tomato, spinach)

LATS = YUMM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 slice multigrain bread, toasted (diggin’ on Dave’s Killer Bread 21 grain)
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced (make it look easy, like this dude)
  • Tomato, 2 thin slices
  • Spinach, fresh, to taste
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, to taste

Lay spinach on toasted bread, cover with tomato, and fan avocado thinly on top. Drizzle with light olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper.

AVOCADO SANDWICH NUTRITION : 256 calories – 14 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 208 mg sodium– 31 g carbs – 11 g fiber – 6 g sugar – 9 g protein- 5 WW points

ROASTED VEGETABLES

*The key is using whatever veggies you love and/or whatever you have in the fridge. These are just a baseline of how they are made, and the only calories I count are the ones in the olive oil!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup of carrots, chopped
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss vegetables with olive oil and seasoning.

Spread veggies in one layer onto a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Roast for 30-45 minutes, rotating every 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning once removed.

*TIP: Try adding tofu or tempeh to vegetables, then sprinkle with Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids. Bragg’s is a great source of protein and includes 16 amino acids, while also having a great flavor to enhance the roasted veggies.

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Meadow & Bunny Bliss cupcakes…or Easter cupcakes (shout out to the Catholics!)


Frolicking demonstration.

Next to parades, frolicking in meadows is my all time favorite staged amusement that somehow feels both mandatory AND fun. There are two ways to do it right: if you are alone, just execute the “Sound of Music” twirl including reverent arms raised to the sky and a look of holy wonderment. If you are with a loved one, or there is a willing person near you, ensure you begin red-rover-style on opposing sides of the meadow then make slow-motion movements towards each other, including overcompensated facial expressions and awkward pouncing. Finish the move off by holding hands and spinning before making your getaway (seen in picture above.)

With meadow inspiration in mind, and the Easter holiday giving me a reason to cook for those I love, Meadow & Bunny Bliss cupcakes were born. Both cupcakes are a combination of ideas that I found during a blanket Google image search for ‘Easter Cupcakes’ – then I just chose some of my favorite flavas and vegan candy, and winged the crap out of the process.

LOW-FAT VANILLA MEADOW CUPCAKES *Gluten-Free 

Don't you just want to snuggle against the jellybean trees?

INGREDIENTS *based off of Sexy Vanilla Cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

  • 1/2 cup soy yogurt *choose flavor if desired
  • 2/3 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with cupcake liners

In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, applesauce, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Sift in flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake 22-24 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer our of pan and onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely prior to decorating. I recommend waiting to prepare the frosting until marzipan/fondant decorations are completed. Makes 12 cupcakes.


DECORATING INGREDIENTS & UTENSILS 

  • 3-5 oz of marzipan or fondant
  • Petal shaped mini fondant cutter
  • Round gum paste tool
  • toothpicks
  • desired food coloring for flowers and grass (I prefer Chefmaster gel color)
  • approx. 36 jellybeans
  • half batch of Buttercream frosting
  • wilton decorating tip #233
  • coupler attached to piping bag

Take a small chunk of white marzipan/fondant and make 12 small, round balls – this will be used for center of flower. Roll the remaining into a ball, poke a hole halfway into the ball, add the food coloring and knead until color is desirable, then roll about until about 1/4 inch thick. Use the small petal-shaped cutter, cutting out 60 petals for 12 cupcakes. Use 5 petals per flower, moving clockwise while layering petals on top of one another while pressing together, then take white ball and press into center of flower. Using gum-paste tool, shape the petals to desirable look.

This tool helps add texture to tips.

Prepare piping bags by attaching coupler with tip, then put the bag tip down into a large glass and fold over the bag, this makes for easy filling. Once the buttercream frosting is complete, color frosting to desired color of green (I used about 3/4 tsp) and use a spatula to put into bag. Be sure not to overfill, you should have about 4-6 inches of additional bag to twist and secure. Hold bag at 90 degrees, squeezing while pulling the bag towards you to get grass look. Practice makes perfect, so always practice on parchment paper first, and you will just get better and better as you go! Once the grass is complete, place the flower and, spear jellybeans onto the toothpicks, placing them next to the flower. YEAH!!!

CHOCOLATE BUNNY BLISS CUPCAKES *gluten-free 

Do you think I could juice that lil carrot?

INGREDIENTS (*also based off of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World):

  •  1 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, dutch-processed
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with liners.

Whisk together milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to ‘curdle’ for a few minutes. In a large bowl, add sugar, oil, and extracts then add curdled milk, then beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In two batches, add dry ingredients to wet and beat until no large lumps remain.

Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes (rotate if necessary) until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer onto a cooling rack until completely cook to decorate. Makes 12 cupcakes.

DECORATING INGREDIENTS:

  • half batch of vegan Buttercream frosting
  • brown gel food coloring (I use Chef master gel color)
  • Newman-O’s Chocolate-Peanut Butter cookies (or Oreo version – either is good! I used about 6 cookies)
  • 12 orange Starbursts
  • Edible Easter grass OR green Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers
  • toothpick

I recommend making the carrots and crunching up the Oreo ‘dirt’ prior to making frosting. To make carrots, roll a Starburst in your hand until it takes the shape of a carrot, then use a toothpick to hollow out the center of the mini-carrot. If you are struggling to soften the Starburst (I was literally breaking a sweat at one point), try rolling them a little with a rolling pin, then folding in half before rolling between your hands. Cut either the grass or Twizzler’s into 1-2″, varying strips and put into hollow hole in carrot, then lightly pinch the top together the secure. Finally, use the side of a toothpick to press horizontal indentations into carrot to give an authentic look.

A carrot - minus all the nutrition and Vitamin C.

Smash cookies in a small bowl until there are no chunks, but not to the point of dust (I used a slap-chop…oh yeah, we own one!) Prepare frosting and add gel coloring to desired color, I used about 1/2 tsp. Spread a moderate layer of frosting on cooled cupcake, then roll cupcake in ‘dirt’ until covered. Finally, place your carrot inside the dirt…and share with no one! These babies are delicious. 🙂

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Vegan 101: How Samoas and Thin Mints can make you friends.


It can be tough to make friends as an adult. As we get older, it seems that time becomes more elusive, leaving many people to settle for the friends they already know from work or high school or beer league softball or yoga class. I’m not insinuating there is no value to long-term, meaningful relationships – just that there can be life-enhancing value in engaging with the unfamiliar – and that goes for anything in life. I have found that with every new experience my mind opens up, my creativity is stimulated, and there exists new things to learn about myself (not to mention new memories to laugh at that don’t include the same mishaps from high school…what a relief!)

Moving to Oregon we made a ‘brave new world’ list with ‘make friends’ at the very top.  And what better way to make these friends in a new world then looking for love on the internet?!  Thankfully there is Meetup, an online matchmaking site for all the shit you love to do.  Are you plus sized AND into playing sports? There is a meetup group in Virginia for you. Obsessed with your bearded dog? There is a meetup specifically for bearded dog owners to socialize called ‘The Dirty Beards’. As much fun as it would be to forego cultivating meaningful friendships for time alone laughing at peculiar meetup groups, we figured that the Southern Oregon Vegetarian/Vegan group would be a great place to start.

While I’m a little too curious about the members of The Dirty Beards meetup, it would be tough to beat the group of folks that we met during the last potluck of our new Southern Oregon meetup group.  The people were relaxed, loved talking about obscure kitchen gadgets and ingredients, and were as equally self-deprecating about the life of a vegan as we claim to be. What can I say, I dig talking about frequent bowel movements with strangers.

Onto the foods (great segway, I know). The pressure was on to represent who we were as people through our food – so Evan the Athlete prepared a protein power salad with lemon-tahini dressing and Hayley the Nostalgic-Sugar-Junkie celebrated the seasons with two kinds of vegan Samoas (one with shortbread, one without) and vegan/gluten-free Thin Mints.  We made our own touches to these recipes, but much of my help came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Babycakes Covers the Classics.  Now go out there with confidence adults, and make some friends!

Earn yourself a merit badge for being awesome.

VEGAN SAMOAS (with shortbread)

SHORTBREAD

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (melted, slightly cooled)
  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour (make w/ 1 cup all-purpose flour to 2 tbsp cornstarch)
  • 1/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 pans with parchment paper, and set aside.

Mix everything, knead into a cohesive lump. On a floured surface, roll dough to a 3/8″ thickness, cut into rounds (I used a biscuit cutter).  Cut out the middle to resemble the Girl Scout kind (I used the back side of a pastry tip, but you can even use a marker top or anything lil.)

Bake 15-20 min, or when the edges begin to brown.

COCONUT CARAMEL TOPPING

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance (melted)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

In a small pan over medium heat, melt the sugar, stirring constantly.  The sugar will caramelize, and once it’s a deep copper color and begins to smoke, slowly add the Earth Balance and milk while stirring rapidly. Cook until there are no clumps of caramel and you can see the bottom of the pan when sliding the spatula across. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and coconut.

To assemble: once coconut topping is cool enough to handle, spread evenly on cookies top. Once completely cool, you can use wet fingers to make hale in the middle and even out for esthetics.

DECORATING

  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Line pans that will fit into fridge/ freezer covered with wax paper. Use a double broiler to melt chocolate chips, then stir in coconut oil.  Allow chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes, then dip bottoms of cookies into chocolate and set onto wax paper. Drizzle remaining chocolate over the top of cookies using a fork or pastry bag with a round tip. Chill for at least 30 minutes to set.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

NUTRITION IN SHORTBREAD SAMOAS: 153 calories – 9 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 48 mg sodium– 17 g carbs – 1 g fiber – 11 g sugar – 1 g protein- 4 WW points

VEGAN SAMOAS (*see notes for gluten-free) 

Ingredients:

DECORATING

  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two pans with parchment paper, set aside.

Pour coconut into skillet and toast on medium-low heat until golden brown. Remove from heat into dish to stop cooking and cool down.

In large bowl, combine coconut oil, brown sugar, milk, flaxseed, and vanilla until smooth. Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix together to form thick batter. Fold in coconut until combined.

Scoop 1 tbsp dough, 2 inches apart on sheets. Flatten with back of measuring cup and use your (or someone else’s) finger to work hole in center to look like Girl Scout kind. Bake 8 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. After cooling, transfer cookies onto wax paper surface for easy refrigerator storage.

Decorating: Melt chocolate chips in double broiler, then stir in melted coconut oil. Allow chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes to thicken. Dip bottoms into chocolate and return to wax paper. Now, drizzle remaining chocolate over cooking using a fork or pastry bag with small, round tip. Chill cookies for at least 30 minutes to firm chocolate, then store in cool place in a tight container.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

NUTRITION IN VEGAN SAMOAS: 182 calories – 12 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 6 mg sodium– 19 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 13 g sugar – 2 g protein- 4 WW points

VEGAN/GLUTEN-FREE THIN MINTS 

MAKIN' IT RAIN THIN MINTS!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose baking flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp mint extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking sode, and salt. Add the melted coconut oil, applesauce, and vanilla and mix until thick dough forms.

Drop dough by tsp onto sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Flatten each mound and smooth edges. Bake 7 minutes, rotate sheets in oven, bake for 7 more minutes. Leave on sheets 15 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

After cooling cookies for 15 minutes, combine chocolate chips and mint in sauce pan or double broiler over medium heat. Stir until just melted, then remove from heat. Dunk the top of each cookie and smooth out with finger. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to set before eating the shit out of them.

Makes 30 cookies.

NUTRITION IN VEGAN THIN MINTS: 129 calories – 7 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 1 mg sodium– 16 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 10 g sugar – 1 g protein- 3 WW points

PROTEIN POWER SALAD with LEMON-TAHINI DRESSING 

Thanks to www.ohsheglows.com for the template to this great dish (and the pic since we forgot to take one.)

Ingredients for salad:

  • 1 cup green lentils (uncooked)
  • 1 cup kamut berries (uncooked)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil, for sauteing
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • salt & pepper

Cook lentils and cook grains in separate saucepans or separately in a rice cooker.

Saute together onion, garlic, red pepper, and tomato for approx. 5 minutes. Add kale, then cook until kale is soft.  Stir in dressing (see below), then add lentils and grains – stirring until combined.

Remove from heat, add parsley.

Serves 6.

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 + 2 tbsp cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp water

All all ingredients together in food processor and process until smooth.

Yields 1 cup.

NUTRITION IN PROTEIN SALAD W/ DRESSING: 323 calories – 13 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 32 mg sodium– 44 g carbs – 13 g fiber – 4 g sugar – 17 g protein- 7 WW points

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