Layered Dip

photo 2Jimi wasn’t in the mood for cooking a big meal last night.  He asked what I was in the mood for, and I said something I can dip a chip in.  Well, he came up with this alternative to a Mexican 7-layer dip.  Keep in mind, Jimi can’t have spicy food anymore or tomatoes (food allergies).  In my opinion, this is even better!

Layers (from the bottom):

  • Seasoned tofu:  I’ve talked about how we cook tofu before, so I’ll keep it simple here.  Freeze and thaw the tofu.  Drain it well (really press out as much water as possible).  Cut into cubes.  Season with Bragg’s liquid amino acids, turmeric, and garlic to taste.  Shake in a bag with cornmeal until well coated, and then sauté in olive oil.
  • Steamed veggies:  We chose carrots, cabbage, purple onion, and cauliflower.
  • Brown rice: Cook your rice ahead of time.
  • Avocado
  • Refried beans:  Make sure that are the kind without lard.  Yuck!
  • Daiya cheese
  • Beanito chips and Tostitos scoops (those are just the ones we had on hand)

This was delicious!  Try it out :)

Sugar-Free Carolina Slaw

photoI love slaw – especially the kind with a vinegar/oil base.  The vinegar helps breakdown the veggies and adds an intense flavor to any spices you throw in.  Try out this recipe, and let me know how you like it.

Ingredients (veggies):

  • 1/2 head of green cabbage
  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 small bunch of green onions, chopped and diced
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced and diced into small chunks
  • 2 cups kale, chopped into bite size pieces

Ingredients (for the sauce):

  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 olive oil
  • 1 tbsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix all the veggies in a large bowl.  Mix the sauce together in a smaller bowl until well combined.  Toss the veggies in the sauce.  Allow to chill for a few hours (this really enhances the flavor, and allows the vinegar to breakdown the veggies).  Enjoy!

Zesty Vegan Kale Slaw

Ingredients for the base:

  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 3 cups shredded kale
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon spicy mustard
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix together all ingredients for the base in a large bowl and set aside.  The apple cider vinegar will start to break down the veggies, especially the kale.  I usually dig my hands in and squish everything together so the apple cider vinegar coats everything well.

Throw all the ingredients for the sauce in the food processor and mix until smooth.  Voila! If the mixture is a little thick, add a little water.

Drain the remaining apple cider vinegar from the veggies, and toss in the sauce.  I usually use my hands again to squish everything together.  Serve cold.

TIP:  You’ll get a creamier sauce if you soak the nuts ahead of time for about 4 hours, but it is not necessary to pre-soak.  If you use unsalted nuts, you may need to add some salt to the slaw.

 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

It’s November, people! Let’s get crackin’ on food for Thanksgiving.  I don’t know about you, but I grew up in the South, and we always had cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving – you know what I’m talking about…that disgusting glob of reddish-purple stuff that came out of the can.  It reminded me of globs of blood, and I refused to eat it! No, thanks…

But now that I’m older, and I’m a lot healthier, I thought – why not make my own?

I did some searching online, and I found a recipe (many actually) that call for orange juice and ton of sugar.  I wasn’t a fan of adding all that sugar – OJ is sweet enough.  So here’s my simple version.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 package of cranberries (about 12 oz)
Directions:
Simmer the OJ and add the cranberries.  Cook until the cranberries start to pop open (about 10 minutes).  It will produce a lovely mixture of red color, and the sauce will thicken as it cools.  Garnish with orange slices.  NOTE:  make sure you use a fairly large pan for this.  Even though it’s a small amount of liquid, it will bubble and foam – you’ll need a little extra room.

Veggie Skeleton

I’ve seen some examples of these posted around the web.  So I thought I would put together a veggie skeleton of my own for my office Halloween party.  This is also a great way to get kids to eat their veggies.  The stuff in the bowl is vegan ranch dressing.  Yum, yum, yum!

Ingredients:

  • Cucumber
  • Cauliflower (tip – slice through your cauliflower so that you have at least one side that is flat and lays down easily)
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Celery
  • Carrots

Vegan mozzarella sticks

So I’m sitting here sleepy and I just had a thought:  I wonder if I can use Daiya cheese to make vegan mozzarella balls.  I have not yet tried this recipe, but I’m thinking along these lines:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag Daiya cheese, mozzarella flavor
  • 1 cups gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (I’m probably gonna use something by Namaste)
Directions:
Mix the bread crumbs and flour together in a bowl.  Slightly melt the cheese until it’s gooey.  Scoop about 1 tablespoon worth of the gooey cheese into the flour mixture.  Keep doing this until all the cheese is in ball form.  Deep fry or pan fry.
I can’t wait to try this.  If anyone tries this before I do, let me know how it turns out!

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

I know Wal-Mart and Target already have Christmas decorations out, but it’s not even Halloween yet!

We carved/painted pumpkins this weekend.  Emma wanted her pumpkin to be Frankenstein, Lucy’s ended up being a princess, and Jersey’s was Count Dracula.  Jimi catered the event by making homemade pizza while me and the kids thoroughly messed up the dining room :) Our pumpkin ended up being the only kind of piggy we will eat – a pumpkin pig! Past Halloween, that little piggy will donate its seeds for a good cause – snacks!

 

 

 

Directions:  Clean out the guts of the pumpkin.  Get your kids to dig through the slime and get all the seeds out.  Rinse them with water, and spread them out on an oven sheet to dry overnight.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the seeds in some olive oil, and add a little salt.  Add other seasonings if you like.  Spread them out flat on the oven sheet.  Place in the oven for 5 minutes, and then stir.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  They should turn a light golden brown.  Don’t overcook them!  Once they cool, I usually put them in snack bags.  Eat them just like that – yes you can eat the shell! Enjoy!

 

 

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The food allergy struggle

Many of you know that our family has been plagued with food allergies. I thought I’d share a little about those allergies and some myths about living the way we do.

First, we are vegan – no meat, dairy, or eggs. For those who are confused by this, “meat” includes beef, chicken, poultry, pork, and fish. If it had eyeballs, we don’t eat it or anything it produced.

Second, Jimi has several food intolerances. For him, these cause severe skin reactions that cause redness, irritation, tightness, cracks, chaffing, dryness, and itchiness. As you can see, we tend to avoid these foods at all costs. As a result we avoid the following:

  • Gluten (wheat products)
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes (including potato starch – found in a lot of gluten-free products)
  • Peppers (all kinds – from spicy to bell and even black pepper)
  • Certain spices (cumin, cayenne, ginger)
  • Pitted fruits (apples, peaches, cherries, dates, plums, etc.)
  • Tomatoes
  • Mustard

Third, my youngest daughter, Lucy, has had an intolerance to milk since she was an infant.  She was never diagnosed with it, but she had so many problems with it, the doctor switched to soy formula from the beginning.  She also suffers from extreme constipation.  Most people really don’t understand how bad this is for her.  When she finally goes, she “craps” like a man.  I know it’s gross, but something like that should not come from a 6-year old.  Her pediatrician has also said to just give her a mild laxative, well I’m tired of that – it’s just not normal.  We need to find what is causing this in her diet.  We tried staying away from gluten, and she did improve, but still had problems.  Long story short – we found out today that she is allergic to almonds, with a slight reaction to peanuts and soy.  Soy!?!? That’s the very thing she switched to when she had the problem with milk.  Sigh….doctors frustrate me sometimes.  For the next two weeks, she will eliminate almonds, peanuts, and soy from her diet to see if she improves.  Fingers crossed.

Many of you are probably wondering what on earth we will eat.  Some of you might think we should add milk back or let her eat meat to get her protein.  The point of this is that even with the limitations placed on us as a result of food allergies, I still firmly believe in the vegan diet and will continue it for my health as well as the health of my family.  Don’t worry – we will get plenty to eat, and I can go to sleep at night knowing it’s healing my body rather than hurting it.

The Marshmallow Experiment – Take 2

You may be reading this and thinking “I don’t remember take #1”.  Well, there’s a reason for that – it did not turn out well.  When it comes to savory foods, vegan cooking is pretty easy in my opinion, but when it comes to baking – replacers do not necessarily act like their counterpart in a non-vegan kitchen.  And so, marshmallow experiment #1 was a failure, but we added flour and turned it into a cake!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tsp, agar (we used flakes)
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar in the raw
  • ¾ cup brown rice syrup
  • vanilla bean
  • ¼ cup arrowroot
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar

Things to note:  We like to do things a little different from most.  By using sugar in the raw (unbleached) and brown rice syrup, your marshmallows will be brown!  Topped with enough powdered sugar, who can tell??  We still need to refine this recipe.  They taste good, but not like a fluffy marshmallow.  It actually turns out a little more gelatinous than that.

Directions:

Soak the agar in ½ cup water until the agar flakes are completely saturated.  It won’t soak up all the water.

Combine ½ cup water, sugar in the raw, and brown rice syrup in a sauce pan until it reaches “hard ball” stage.  NOTE:  Use a candy thermometer.  Also, this will foam up quickly.  Make sure you use a pan that’s big enough.  We had a huge cleanup because we failed to do this.  Once it’s done, set aside.

Heat the agar mixture over medium heat, stirring until flakes completely dissolve.  Add to stand mixer.  Scrape out vanilla bean into the agar mixture.  Turn mixer on high.  Add sugar mixture to mixer.  Add cornstarch.  Mix on high for about 10 minutes.

While mixing, prepare a pan – we used a 9×11 casserole dish.  Line the dish with parchment paper, and heavily sprinkle powdered sugar on it.  Once the mixing is complete, pour into the prepared dish.  Cover with powdered sugar.  Let this sit and slightly firm up for about an hour.  We used a pizza cutter to cut into pieces.  We also rolled the edges of each piece with the powdered sugar.  Wrap them up to prevent drying.

 

If these aren’t satisfactory or until we can get our recipe tweaked just right, go to the store and get Sweet and Sara.  These are heavenly!  We have to order them online or drive over an hour to a Whole Foods, but I must say they are worth it!  They are 100% vegan – no fish, cow, or animal parts – and yes, almost all other marshmallows you buy in the store have that junk in them.  I know it’s gross, but just look up the contents of gelatin…

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When life won’t give you marshmallows, you make CAKE!

So Jimi and I attempted to make vegan, gluten-free marshmallows last night.  By “Jimi and I”, I really mean Jimi lol – he’s the chef.  I do a lot of repeating of his recipes and getting stuff he needs while he cooks :)

We found a couple of recipes online to start with, all of them contained either eggs, gelatin, or some other stuff we don’t eat.  And so, we tried to substitute things.  When it comes to marshmallows, some (we didn’t try them all) egg replacers will not work in the place of eggs!

Once our marshmallow mixture had been through it’s “process” – mixing, pouring, beating, etc – it still wasn’t gooey.  In fact, it could definitely be classified as pure liquid, not even milky.

The end result?  Well, we looked at each other and smiled.  I grabbed some gluten-free flour from the pantry, and handed it to Jimi.  I told him that “when life won’t give you marshmallows, you make cake”!  He added some flour, threw it in the oven for about 20 minutes, and we made a rich, sticky, gooey cake!