Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Spices Muffin


Merry Christmas everyone!
Happy Holidays!
Winter Hugs!

I thought that was such a cute little saying - "Winter Hugs" -- that one came compliments of my daughter Rachel from her new "warm" home in Vancouver, B.C.   She left the prairies this fall lured by the promise of less winter and more "big city" things to do!  Lucky for me Vancouver is only 1 hour and 10 minutes from Edmonton via WestJet or AirCanada but a whole lot further via the trail through the Rockies! (12 hours)! Hard to believe she is basking in above temperatures with greenery still abounding whilst we are shovelling our way out every second day and bundling up to keep ourselves from turning into ice statues!

Lucky for me I'm able to be indoors cooking and baking today.  Decided to make a muffin using the warm holiday spices  - nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon and adding molasses in keeping with the season.

Ingredients

3/4 cup unbleached organic flour
1/4 cup oatbran flour
1/4 cup oatbran
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon golden ground flaxseed
3 tablespoons orange/mango juice
2 tablespoons applesauce
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup soy milk
1 cup finely grated carrot (about 1 large carrot)

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Stir the 3 tablespoons juice into the 3/4 cup soy milk.  Add the flaxseed, molasses, applesauce, olive oil and grated carrot.  Stir.  Combine the wet and dry together.  Using 1/4 cup measure - divide evenly between your muffin cups.  (I got 11 out of this recipe). Bake at 375 degree for about 20 - 22 minutes.

I was also busy entertaining the little elf today! Lucky for us we decided to swap last year's glass xmas balls with some inexpensive unbreakables.  He's busy decorating and re-decorating the tree and himself. The pic on the left was his take on what to do with the pointy decorations and the pic on the right was him asking for more pics of him but I arranged those jewels :O)




Friday, October 29, 2010

Organic Animal Crackers (Kirkland)

$10 buys you a super-size cannister (4 lbs worth) of organic animal crackers.  These are almost worth the price of the costco membership alone.  I kid you not.  These are delicious and addictive.  Two things that should not be in my vocabulary especially since they're made with wheat -- but it's organic wheat so that makes it all good, right? Fortunatley I'm only committed to reducing my total wheat intake not totally eliminating it so I'll indulge occasionally.  These would be delicious whirled into crumbs for pie crusts and other such treats.They are a big hit with my 3 year old grandson and so far everyone else who has tried them too. 

The ingredients listed would make it seem they are vegan yet what confused me was the word dairy on the front of the cannister.  I don't know if it's an error or they're just covering themselves because the equipment they process these on are not dedicated dairy-free.  In any case neither milk nor eggs are listed as one of the main ingredients and they're not super high in sugar either.  It's so nice to see more organic, economical and fairly healthy treats for our little people being incoporated into mainstream shopping outlets. I say keep them coming - especially if they're going to be as tasty as these cute little crackers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Super Simple Supper Soup










Super Simple Supper Soup -- if you can say that in 2 seconds or less you deserve a big bowl of this lovely soup!  I enoyed making it -- so fast yet so good!  Also super economical - just super super all the way around :O)  If you have never tried Tinkyada rice noodles you're in for a treat.  You'd never guess they are gluten-free and have rice bran to boot.  Worth picking up and adding to your food pantry!

Ingredients
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 cups green cabbage, finely diced
1/2 cup broccoli pieces
1/2 cup cauliflower pieces
1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon (vegetarian no chicken soup base)
Handful of brown rice noodles (Tinkyada)
Six cups water

Directions for this soup are simple - saute first 3 ingredients for about 15 minutes while you are chopping the broccoli and cauliflower.  Now add soup base, broccoli and  cauliflower and simmer under about 4 cups of water for 30-45 minutes.  Add another 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil. Then add a handful of rice noodles broken into bite size pieces.  Reduce heat and simmer until noodles are done to your preference.  Be prepared to want seconds -- this soup is yummy for the tummy!

Add a slice of toasted Silver Springs Chia bread  (new product from Silver Hills that is wheat-free) with pate or hummus and you've got yourself a "full-meal" deal that won't break the bank or clog up your arteries !

GF SuperHero Breakfast Muffins


I was all excited to put my lentil puree to the test so here's what I came up with.  Since my main objective was to have something super healthy and quick to jumpstart my day I threw in as many of the purported superfoods (oatbran, flaxseed, cinnamon, blueberries and lentils) I could think of!  And since i'm cutting back on wheat it also had to be gluten free. I'm quite pleased with the flavor and texture.  I might change it ever so slightly next time by cutting out 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and replacing it with 2 tablespoons agave nectar! Also might switch oatbran to 1/4 cup and flaxseed to 1/2 cup.  Anyhow it tasted mighty good as is so go for it!

Ingredients

1 cup *gluten free flour mixture*
1/2 cup oatbran
1/4 cup flaxseed
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
*2 teaspoons cinnamon*
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup lentil butter
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup mango/orange juice
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 ripe banana

1 cup frozen blueberries

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Whirl liquid ingredients together.  Pour into the dry.  Mix together well without overbeating.  Add the frozen blueberries.  Use 1/4 cup batter per muffin.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 18 minutes. Cool.  Eat one and feel good about how many of the superfoods are contained in such a tiny little package!  Eat two and feel like a superhero :O)

*Gluten-free flour mixture: 2-3/4 cups organic brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch plus 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal. This makes 3-1/2 cups gluten-free flour.*

*2 teaspoons cinnamon gives muffin quite a prounounced  cinnamon flavor -- if you like a more delicate flavor use only 1 teaspoon *

Lentil Butter


I've been reading through the Canada Pulses Guide to Beans, Peas, Lentils and Chickpeas and intrigued by their use of lentil puree in place of  butter in baked goods. So I thought I'd get on the lentil puree bandwagon here and do some up -- some to freeze and a bit for later today to try in some baking.  I decided to make it up in 1/2 cup containers (that I had saved from applesauce) - freeze, pop them out and then put them into  freezer containers.  That way I figured I had just the right amount to use in the average recipe in place of  part - 1/2  the stipulated quantity of margarine or butter.  It's very simple -- I soaked my little brown lentils overnight and then cooked up in the morning.  The soaking goes a long way towards shortening your cooking time so I'd say that's a good time as well as energy saver. 

Directions:

Whirl 1-1/2 cups drained, cooked lentils in vita-mix blender or food processor (recommended) with 1 tablespoon of water, 2 tablespoons of applesauce and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. I decided to add the applesauce and sugar so my lentils would be infused with a bit of sweetness as I'm planning to only use this in baked goods and I thought it would keep them pleasantly flavored whilst frozen!  Hope so -- we'll see when the time to defrost them comes.  Legume purees aren't easy to do in vita-mix until I learned the trick behind this.  The only way is to keep the vita-mix blender on 3 -- any higher and it just won't do a thing. Use your tamper and keep it rotating.  I would recommend a food processor as the best way to make lentil puree.  I don't have one right now but I'm seriously considering purchasing a small one for this as well as my hummus.  Hummus doesn't do the best in the vita-mix either unless you do at least 2 cans at one time.  More seems to be easier for this machine.  Nevertheless it's still a chore and I believe it will be less of a chore and easier to get your mixture out of food processor then digging to bottom of a blender.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Le Petite Brown Lentil Soup


This soup was delicious beyond words.  Really!  I don't know why but this combination of veggies combined with pre-cooked lentils and rice (leftover from making lentil burgers the day before) and simmered together was delectable! I wish I could can it and mass produce it! Well glass bottle it!  Cans leave a yucky taste no matter how wonderful the soup might be. Anyhow put this soup together if you have any love at all for lentils -- these little brown lentils are especially tasty!  The ones I used are the Clic brand.  See sample of dry lentils below for reference.

The croutons are by Fresh Gourmet (organic,seasoned) and are highly coveted in our household. Fresh Gourmet in this case is not misleading as the croutons are indeed fresh and tasty.  Sold in most grocery stores: (Walmart, Safeway, Save-On and Planet Organic come to mind as places I've located them). Make sure to get the croutons labelled "seasoned" if you're looking for vegan as I'm not sure about the others.

For more information on pulses including lots of tips/recipes check out this terrific booklet produced by Pulse Canada.  One little tip:  DO spread your dry lentils on a white plate or paper towel and check for anything that should not be there!  I do a half a cup at a time and more often than not I find a very small clump of dirt.  You might even find a green split pea amongst the brown lentils so do your checking and then rinse well in colander before cooking. I know they say that lentils don't need to be pre-soaked but if you want to shorten the cooking time it's a good idea.  Especially the yellow lentils -- these take way longer than what the package says. And never add salt until they're cooked or that will also impede the progress of them softening sufficiently.



Ingredients
1-2  tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 cup of finely diced green cabbage
1 cup green peas (frozen)
1 sweet potato, diced
1 white potato, diced
1 cup cooked brown lentils
1 cup cooked sushi rice
3 teaspoons veggie broth powder
1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon Vegetarian,
"no chicken base" flavor

Saute onion, cabbage and carrot in olive oil until softened.  Add all the rest of the ingredients along with water to cover. Simmer for 1-2 hours. Add more water as required untill soup is as thick or thin as you prefer.  If you have time 2 hours bubbling on the burner doesn't hurt it at all - I think it just tastes better the longer it slowly simmers.  It smelled wonderful.  I took out a couple of ladles of soup (about a cup) and whirled in the blender and put it back through the soup.  I like to do this as it binds everything nicely together and gives it a little more flavor yet. I'll be doing this one again  - after all the canned lentil soups I've tried (several organic brands included) -- nothing comes even close to tasting as delicious as this simple recipe does.

I like the Harvest Sun Organic veggie broth powder with no yeast added.  This one seems to work best for me. The Better than Bouillon is exceptionally full-flavored -- just be careful to start with a little at a time -- it's very concentrated.  If you have any problems with yeast though this isn't the one for you as it does contain autolyzed yeast as one of the ingredients. I did do a little search on homemade veggie broth powders and I'm thinking I'd like to give this a try once I run out of my store bought stuff.  For the sake of economics as well as more control of the ingredients.  This one sounds good --  minus the celery seed as I'm not fond of that spice.  I'll replace it with another favorite and perhaps add one or two more but generally the idea for a lot of veggie broth powders is to add spices to a base of nutritional yeast.  Poultry seasoning (rosemary, bay leaf, sage, oregano, marjoram, and cumin)  might be a quick & tasty blend to add to base of nutritional yeast. Think I'll see about finding a good  poultry seasoning -- either Frontier or M&B will hopefully have a suitable organic one to purchase.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Homemade Brown Sugar


I was just looking for something fun to do today in the kitchen so I thought I would try making homemade brown sugar.  I had read about it a few times but was skeptical that it would be anything I would want to use.  After all the thought of just pouring 1 and 1/2  tablespoons of molasses over 1 cup of white sugar didn't really sound all that promising.  But was I ever wrong!  I encourage any serious bakers to make their own -- I've never smelled or felt such nice brown sugar before. It's much simpler even than how Martha demostrates you do it - she uses a food processor. I don't know about you but I don't want to clean up anymore stuff than I have to.

I just used a fork and mashed happily away until there were no more clumps of molasses and voila -- a lovely bowl of soft and aromatic brown sugar.  As you can see by my picture below I should have mashed a little longer and I did do so before  putting it into the mason jar pictured above.  There is very little chance that you can do anything wrong with this recipe -  you can pour anywhere from 1 tablespoon to 6 tablespoons of molasses into your sugar and you'll still turn it into brown sugar!  However for my taste the 1 and 1/2 tablespoon was just right! 


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mediterranean Veggie Tofu Loaf



Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 cup diced frozen veggies
1/2 cup finely chopped cabbage

350 gm  firm tofu
1 grated carrot

2 cups dry bread cubes (moistened with veggie broth)
1/2 cup ground peanuts
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon veggie broth powder
2 tablespoons ketchup (simply natural brand is great)
2 teaspoons wet mustard
1 teaspoon garlic/parsley powder
1 teaspoon chili powder

Saute the veggies in the olive oil until softened and mostly cooked. Grate tofu and carrot into large bowl. Knead together using your hands.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients as well as the ketchup/mustard and spices.  Knead some more until thoroughly mixed.  Taste and adjust seasonings if required.  I added a splash of paul bragg liquid aminos and kneaded a bit more.  I lined my pan with parchment paper and pressed the mixture firmly into the loaf pan. Bake at 375 degree for one hour.  At about the 50 minute mark you can remove loaf from oven -- spread a little extra ketchup on top and return to oven for last 10 minutes.  Cool about 10-15 minutes in pan.  Remove and cut into thick slices or squares. Leftovers are great -- eaten cold or warmed up.
*If you prefer veggie patties I'm sure this mixture would serve you well. I would flour the patties lightly, pan fry for a few minutes on both sides and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes -- flip over and 15 minutes more should suffice.*

Veggie Prairie Girl Rambles
This started as a "cleaning out the freezer" recipe.  I'd had this half used bag of veggies kicking around for a while and I was tired of seeing it in my freezer.  So I emptied into a colander, rinsed off the frozen crystals  and let it sit for a few minutes to thaw slightly.  Don't let it thaw completely or it will be a super slippery mess that won't be as easy to chop. The super slippery mess that you have from veggies at times is the reason I prefer wooden cutting boards (wet stuff is slippery as heck on plastic boards)! Also if you are looking for a new wood board find one that is solid!  The ones like in the picture below are pretty well guaranteed to split and the ensuing cracks are a haven for bacteria. I'm always scrubbing my board with a paste of baking soda and vinegar.  Vinegar has anti-bacterial properties so I'm big into using that as opposed to bleach.  I can handle the smell of vinegar but bleach is just so nasty.  I'm in the market for a new solid wood board myself -- just very difficult to find in local stores and I don't want bamboo either!  Bamboo splinters easily -- at least the ones I've bought have. Use a big sharp knife to chop veggies into mini pieces:  see my before and after picture below. 


I grated two blocks of 175 gm tofu on the rough side of my grater and then I grated one large carrot on the fine side. 


Below is the mixture after adding all the rest of the spices and ingredients.



Mixture patted firmly into loaf pan lined with parchment paper for easy removal.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vegan Candy List


I was looking at one of my favorite veg blogs called:  Your Vegan Mom  and liked that she put up a link for some vegan ideas for Halloween. Go check out her site for all the links.  In the meantime I'm going to put up the list of candy directly onto my blog here as a handy place for myself and other people to refer back to when required.  (This official list is from another awesome website - VegNews)! I can vouch for the Panda Licorice -- it's my favorite brand available.  In the past I have a hard time not eating the whole box when I buy it so I have to restrain myself from putting it my grocery cart. My grandson (age 3)  loves them too and has the same problem I do -- when he knows we have it in the house -- he'll come 5 times a day asking for it so I found it easier not to have them for right now.  In the future (when we both learn better control) I can bring them back !  I can also vouch for YummyEarth products -- I love their mints and do keep those in my purse and in my cupboard.  I used to love Mentos but I don't love their long list of ingredients -- YummyEarth has only 3 ingredients in their mints and I know what each one means! I buy the YummyEarth mints at Planet Organic (southside location) in Edmonton.
  • Airheads Taffy (website)
  • Allison's Gourmet vegan caramels (website)
  • Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks (website)
  • Azure Chocolat Beauty Bark (website)
  • Biona Organic Wine Gums (link)
  • BoomChocoBoom! Ricemilk Bar (website)
  • Brachs Fruit Slices (website)
  • Charms Blow Pops (website)
  • Charms Pumpkin Flat Pops (website)
  • Chick-o-Sticks (website)
  • Chuao Chocolatier Spicy Maya (website)
  • Clif Kid Organic Twisted Fruit (website)
  • Crispy Cat Candy Bars (website)
  • Crows (website)
  • Cracker Jack (website)
  • Cry Baby Candy (website)
  • Diivies Super Stars (website)
  • Dots (website)
  • Dum-Dums (website)
  • Endangered Species dark chocolate (website)
  • Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Halloween Bug Bites (website)
  • Ginger People Ginger Chews (website)
  • Go Max Go candy bars (website)
  • Goody Good Stuff Sours (website)
  • The Humphrey Company Original Popcorn Balls (website)
  • Jolly Ranchers hard candy (website)
  • Let's Do Organic Gummy Bears (website)
  • Mamba Sour Fruit Chews (link)
  • Mary Janes, regular and peanut butter kisses (website)
  • Newman's Own Licorice Twists (website)
  • Now and Later (website)
  • NuGo Organic Chocolate Bar (website)
  • Panda Soft Licorice (website)
  • Peanut Chews, Original Dark (website)
  • Pez (website)
  • Pure Fun Organic Halloween Pops (website)
  • Q.Bel Double Dark Wafer Bars (website)
  • Saf-T-Pops (website)
  • Seitenbacher Gummy Candies (website)
  • Sjaak's Organic Chocolates (website)
  • Sour Patch Kids (website)
  • St. Claire's Organic CandyTarts (website)
  • Stockley's Cinder Toffee Candy (link)
  • Super Bubble (website)
  • Surf Sweets Fruity Bears, Gummy Swirls, and Super Sour Bears (website)
  • Swedish Fish (website)
  • Sweet & Sara Marshmallow ghosts and bats (website)
  • Tropical Source chocolate bars (website)
  • VerMints (website)
  • Whizzers Chocolate Beans (website)
  • YummyEarth lollipops (website)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Vegan Vanilla Marshmallows!



Well "Dandies" vegan marshmallows have finally arrived at Planet Organic!  What a nice surprise that was -- especially since I was thinking of ordering them online so that I might have some on hand for the xmas holiday baking ahead.  I love that I can just go pick them up and so will you if this is something you've been missing.  They're a little stickier to get out of the bag than "gelatin-based" marshmallows but I'm willing to do a little separating for this speciality item.  After all it's not something that you can easily make yourself. I would advise keeping them in a cool place.  Perhaps they weren't kept under ideal conditions enroute from the manufacturer -- hence a few of them were sticking together.  I know that the online stores won't guarantee them if mailed out during hot weather. But never rmind all that as the sticking is really a minor issue and they were easy enough to separate.  The taste is perfect and they were absolutely delish on top of my hot cocoa!  The hot cocoa was made with 2 tablespoons of melted coca camino semi-sweet chocolate chips and soymilk.  A nice rich  flavor thanks to using chocolate chips vs cocoa powder and well worth the splurge.  The super cute little mug was a "thanksgiving gift" from my mom.  It's Laurel by Jan Hagara (1985)! 

I hope I never ever break it because it's so adorable and of course extra special because my mom bought it just for me! She bought it because the cat looked like our "sophie" (white fluffy birman) and for all you other cat lovers I'll give you a sneak peak at our little resident feline friend.  She's 5 years old now and is getting used to be chased around by a 3 year old toddler :O)  Birmans (also called Sacred Cat of Burma) are very mellow and their sapphire blue eyes are beautiful.  If you like a mild mannered cat that is also playful the birman is an excellent choice.


Monday, October 4, 2010

GF Chocolate Chip-Banana Muffins



Ingredients

1 cup *gluten-free flour mixture*
1/2 cup JK almond flour
1/2 cup oat bran (made into flour)
1/4 cup stoneground white rice flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon golden ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup organic canola oil
1/4 cup Kiju orange-mango juice
1/4 cup agave nectar

1 banana (finely diced)
1/2 cup cuisine camino chocolate chips

Whirl oat bran in blender (I used magic bullet with mini cup - worked perfectly for this) until it turns into flour. Sift all dry ingredients (including the freshly ground oatbran) together into large mixing bowl. Stir in the chocolate chips.  Measure wet ingredients into a two cup measure, stir together and pour into center of dry ingredients.  Add finely diced bananas on top of liquid ingredients.  Stir till all is mixed together.  Let sit for a few minutes (this allows batter to thicken slightly).  Use about 1/4 heaping cup batter per muffin (I used  the If You Care  baking cups).  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Makes 12 very tasty gluten-free muffins!

*Gluten-free flour mixture: 2-3/4 cups organic brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch plus 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal. This makes 3-1/2 cups gluten-free flour.*

 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Quinoa-Lentil Stew



Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion - diced fine
4 carrots (medium size)

2 cups water
2 small garnet yams - diced
1 russet potato - diced
3/4 cup quinoa grain (rinse well)
1 tablespoon veggie broth powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic/parsley powder

2 tablespoons peanut butter
*1 can Amy's Lentil Soup*
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos

Saute onion and carrots in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Stir in your seasonings.  Add 2 cups water, chopped yams and potatoes and the rinsed quinoa.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Then add Amy's Lentil Soup, peanut butter and bragg.  Simmer for another 45-60 minutes.
*If you don't have Amy's lentil soup -- substitute 1-1/4 cup cooked lentils and add an extra 1/4 cup liquid *

You can also let it chill in the fridge for a while and make into lentil patties if you like. Take out 1 cup of lentil mixture.  Add 8 crushed soda crackers plus 2 tablespoons of golden ground flaxseed. Taste and add extra spices if desired. Mix together and divide into 6 equal size patties.  Put about 2 tablespoons flour on a plate. Flour both sides of each patty.  Fry in olive oil for about 3 minutes on each side.  I like having home cooked "street food" to go.  It's a lot easier, quicker and cheaper than trying to find some healthy vegan food when you're away from your home base.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blueberry Double Bran Muffins


Dry Ingredients
1 cup unbleached organic white flour
1/4 cup organic white sugar
1/4 cup organic brown sugar
1/4 cup organic oatbran
1/4 cup all-bran cereal (dry)
1 tablespoon golden ground flaxseed
2 teaspoon organic baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients
3/4 cup EdenSoy - Original Unsweetened
soy milk beverage
1/4 cup organic canola oil
1/4 cup organic agave syrup
3 tablespoons orange-mango Kiju juice

Berries
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
 (thawed and drained)
Just before folding into your batter:
Sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of flour and
bit of white sugar - toss gently to coat all
berries.

Streusel Topping
2 tablespoons camino cuisine brown sugar
2 tablespoons organic unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon earth balance margarine (organic whipped)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Measure wet ingredients together in a 2 cup measuring cup --  then pour onto top of dry and fold together gently using as few strokes as possible. Let batter sit for about 5 minutes - the oatbran and bran cereal will expand somewhat thickening the batter a little.  If it still seems a little too thin at this point add another 2-4 tablespoons of flour. Fold in the thawed, drained and floured berries 1/3 cup  at a time.  I sprinkled the blueberries 1/3 cup at a time spread evenly over the top of the batter so they would be well distributed and not sink into one location exclusively.

One quarter cup batter per muffin will give you one dozen.  Sprinkle with streusel mixture.  Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 mintues.  If you don't eat them all the first day -- freeze them -- they'll stay a lot fresher that way.  When you want one -- thaw out slightly -- pop in the toaster oven at 225 for about 5 minutes and they'll taste fresh baked again.

*Blueberry Double Bran Muffins:  a original recipe created by Veggie Prairie Girl*

Monday, September 20, 2010

Molasses Latte: No caffeine or Carrageenan!


Somewhere I stumbled across an article on carrageenan and promptly freaked out.  I also realized how many places I've noticed it listed as an ingredient --  including my well loved Silk Soy Milk!  This is what it said:

"Carrageenan is about as wholesome as monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is extracted from rice, and can equally be considered natural." 

If you want to read the article in it's entirety click here! It's written by Robert Cohen.  If you're hungry for more just throw carrageenan into your search engine and you'll be reading for days. I've had a nagging suspicion for a while that it might not be the best ingredient for me and I  noticed it particularly after eating soy ice cream.  Perhaps because I ate too much of it at one sitting?  And I'm thinking that there is probably more carrageenan used as a thickener in a serving of soy ice cream than in soy milk and maybe that's why I would notice it more after the ice cream. The results were gastro related and recently my daughter realized that she had the same problems after soy milk.  I put two and two together and realized that the carrageenan was a common thread and it is almost exclusively used by EVERY soy milk producer out there.  Do your own search and you'll see it's very difficult to find any non-dairy milk made without it.  Even Almond Breeze is using it as a thickener. 

So last night I hustled myself over to Planet Organic as there isn't a store in Edmonton that has a larger selection of non-dairy drinks to peruse. I wanted a substitute immediately as I was down to my last few drops of precious Silk Milk. The only one I could find that met all the criteria I was looking for (gluten free was top priority as well) was the unsweetened Westsoy.  I was impressed to see ONLY two ingredients on the label:  reverse osmosis purified water and organic soybeans. Even more impressive would be if I made my own milk -- and it might just have to get to that point one day but not this week! I've read a few articles on making your own almond milk and it seems relatively straightforward -- just a matter of buying fresh almonds and trying it out.  One other commercial brand that I have researched and plan to continue to stock up on is Natura.  I phoned them this afternoon and they assured me it contained no gluten, carrageenan, msg and/or any components thereof (I was concerned about the natural flavors listed on the carton).  It's a canadian product (made in Quebec) and is available at Costco  (great if you have a membership or know somebody that does and will pick you up a few cases).  If you need to use it in large quantities or wish to put some on an emergency shelf it's a very good price at $1.50 per 946ml carton.

And check this:  the Westsoy I purchased has 12g of protein per serving as opposed to only 6g of protein in silk milk (and I'm sure that is the average for all of them).  So putting two and two together -- there has to be a lot more of something else in the other ones to fall that short of the amount of protein.  Too many fillers or more water.  Certainly something to think about. It might seem more expensive at first glance ($3.69 for 1L) but when you consider all the facts you are most definitely getting more food value for your dollar and a whole lot less of some things you might not want!


My monday morning breakfast (pictured above) featured my newly coveted Westsoy, heated gently in a pot on the stove, and to which I added one teaspoon of Wholesome Molasses. Please -- never heat soy milk in a microwave -- it does something to the flavor that is in a simple word - "yucky"!  My on the stovetop method resulted in an enjoyable hot drink that had a definite coffee-like flavor.  I added my GF pumpkin muffin (recipe coming soon -- a bit of a sunken treasure but I'll try again - regardless it was one of my best failures ever!), an organic banana and one perfect organic Medjool Date! If you have never tried Medjool Dates I highly recommend you give them a try!  I'm feeding them to my grandson in place of candy! We're doing our best to severely limit his intake of sugar-laden evils.  He loves the dates so it's all good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cauliflower & Daiya Cheese Soup



Even though summer is not officially over -- I think unofficially it's pretty well a done deal on the prairies here in Alberta.  So officially it's soup season full throttle ahead for me.   Nothing cheers up a crisp, fall-like day as much as a warm, tasty bowl of homemade soup.  I'm so glad I have the time to indulge in such things because omg the canned soups are tasting even less appealing than ever. My daughter was feeling like a classic bowl of campbell's tomato soup last week but unfortunately it was a huge letdown -- somebody changed the recipe and/or the ingredients and it's not good! She was a real trooper to even eat it -- I tasted a bit that was left in the pot and it was barely palatable! 

Well I was shopping at Wal-mart yesterday and believe it or not I got a head of cauliflower for $1! Talk about a bargain and since it's not a vegetable that's on the high pesticide list I thought it would be great to use as the basis for a huge pot of soup.  Anyhow back to my soup and the daiya cheese!  I picked up a small package from Earth's General Store (cheddar flavor) and I have to say it is a huge improvement over the italian blend flavor that I had ordered from Daiya last December.  I do love that you can grate it and store it in the freezer until needed. It is easy to use straight from the freezer.  And a little goes a long way -- I only used 1/2 cup for this soup and I thought that amount was just right. See how I freeze my cheese -- I don't want it touching the plastic container directly so I line it with eco-friendly wax paper. It might be over-kill but makes me feel better about storing it long term in plastic.



Ingredients

1 white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced finely
2 tablespoons olive oil

5 russet potatoes, diced
1 head cauliflower
2 teaspoons veggie broth powder
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
4-6 cups water

2 tablespoons white rice flour (stoneground)
2 tablespoons organic peanut butter (Nativa)
2 cups original flavor soy milk (Natura)

1/2 cup grated daiya (cheddar flavor)

1/2 bag of frozen broccoli (optional)
 (steamed separately and stirred through last)

Directions:

Saute the first three ingredients in the olive oil until softened.  Add about 4 cups water initially -- add more while cooking if necessary. Add your potatoes, cauliflower and spices/salt.  When cooked to your satisfaction mix the next three ingredients together (flour/peanut butter/soy milk) and stir into your pot. Add the 1/2 cup grated cheese. Simmer your soup until it thickens and cheese is melted.  Add broccoli if you decide to use it -- I did as I was feeling the need for some greens but of course it's perfectly tasty without it.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Banana-Almond Muffins


I've been craving muffins again and love creating new versions of old favorites. Muffins have got to be one of the easiest recipes to fool around with and personalize to your own taste. I'd hazard to guess there must be several thousand awesome muffin recipes already out there and several thousand new versions left to create. I decided to make a very low but not entirely gluten-free muffin. I had bought a package of JK fine grain almond flour from Planet Organic recently and was interested in trying it out. I'm a huge almond fan so in addition to the almond flour I also added some freshly ground almonds. They are very moist and of course slightly denser than the average full-flour muffin but I'm loving them so I'll be making them again soon!
p.s. I used tamari flavored almonds so if you see that there is no salt added to this recipe that's why! I suggest adding a bit of salt if you are using unsalted ground almonds.

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup JK fine grain almond flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tbsp. ground golden flax
3/4 cup soy milk
3/4 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup organic canola oil

Mix dry ingredients from sugar to cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.  Blend the flax, milk, banana and canola oil together on high speed for about a minute or so.  Stir wet and dry together using fold and turn technique.

Using 1/4 cup measure divide equally into your prepared muffin tin (I am using If you Care liners again as they have been reformulated and are working perfectly - thank goodness).  Bake at 350 for about 18 minutes. Makes 11 muffins.  Good freezer item -- when thawed they are still nice and moist.
p.s. try to buy Cuisine Camino brown sugar -- the flavor is unbeatable and I love the fact that it's organic, fair trade and Canadian.

*Banana-Almond Muffins - original recipe created by Veggie Prairie Girl*

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fantsy Meatballs and Healthy Veggie Wraps!



Well I've still not been doing any new and exciting dishes that I would want to blog about but my daughter, Rachel was inspired to try a few new veggie recipes this week. The fansty meatbealls above (recipe here  (make sure to scroll down to see the fansty meatball recipe as the very first recipe is "mock meatballs" and the second one is the "fantsy meatballs" pictured above) - from Jean Pare's Meatless Cookbook) was a big hit and eagerly devoured by her hard-working husband!

She also made the sunflower pate (previously featured on my blog here) and she used it and some freshly made hummus to make the delicious wraps featured below! She loved her hummus so much she re-named it yummus which pretty well sums up how I feel about anything made with chickpeas!   I think there are never enough food pics out there so I'm including the rest of her food pics for your viewing pleasure!



I'm definitely inspired by all these lovely photos and am starting to feel motivated to try something new too!  Just been reworking all the old recipes -- not that's a bad thing -- all of them are delicious and healthy but I do love to keep seeing new variations of veggie dishes.  My first challenge might be to try and veganize the fansty meatball recipe -- and since I just picked up some cheddar Daiya from Earth's General Store I'm looking forward to giving it a try in the near future. In the meantime, if you're not following a pure vegan diet,  than the above recipe will delight you as it is an excellent combination of ingredients that work  really well in producing a sturdy, tasty veggie meatball.

p.s. -- Earth's General Store carries the the same organic eggs as Planet Organic but he manages to offer them for $2.00 less per dozen so go there and pick up that and whatever else you might need to get cooking!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Deliciously Simple - Baby Potatoes & Organic Strawberries


This is the time of year when the produce is just so wonderful -- why can't it be like this all year long? These baby potatoes were so tasty - I just can't get enough of them. I tossed a whole bag of these little beauties into the sink and scrubbed them really well.  I put them in a large roasting pan, drizzled them with virgin olive oil, sprinkled them with garlic &  chili powder, added 2 sweet walla onions (in large chunks - they really shrink as they cook) and about 1/4 cup water.  I covered my dish and put into a 350F oven for about 1-1/2 hour.  I cooked a bowl of rice in the oven at the same time in order to make the best use of my energy consumption. I like to cook up extra rice whenever I can and freeze in portions for quick future meal prep. I ate a plateful of potatoes straight out of the oven topped with the onions. I followed this up with a luscious bowl of strawberries for dessert and because they were all so perfectly delicious it was very satisfying! 


Simplicity is not only easy but simply scrumptious! Eat each bite with great joy and lots of thanks that we are able to partake of the bounty that mother earth continues to provide despite many ongoing harsh environmental conditions (man made and natural)! In the spirit of giving back thanks to the earth perhaps we need to start looking at some ways in which we can be "greener" in our own environment. A good place to start is by taking a trip to Earth's General Store  @ 9605 - 82nd Avenue right here in Edmonton. The staff there are very knowledgeable and very willing to assist in the quest to be greener!  Also check out the various green blogs online and see if you can't pick up a few pointers. Any change you can make is good for you and good for us all collectively!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Padmanadi Vegetarian Fine Cuisine

June 19th, 2010 will be forever remembered in Edmonton as the grand opening of Padmanadi Vegetarian Fine Cuisine @ 10740-101 Street! Not only was this date exactly 7 years 7 months and 7 days after the arrival of Kasim and his family in Canada but the sun could not have been shining any brighter on this wonderful occasion. The restaurant was overflowing with smiling patrons who had long been anticipating this very special day. There was non-stop musical talent and heartfelt speeches -- including one by former NHL player George Laraque who publicly declared himself to be a vegan on June 1st, 2009.

I was very happy to be able to attend this beautiful event and even more excited to hear that they would now also be featuring vegan brunches every Saturday and Sunday from 9-2!  I was lucky enough to be able to partake in a vegan brunch the very next day and I can hardly wait to go again this weekend!  It  is SO worth a visit whether you are vegan or not!  The fresh squeezed organic orange juice is just the first part to the start of an outstanding organic experience. Pictured below is one entree that is unlike anything vegan you have ever tried before -  "Eggs Benedict" served traditional style here along with veggie ham.  Photo number two below is an order of Banana Coconut French Toast served with a side of veggie bacon. Check out their menu on their website for more details that will have you circling the date on the calendar for the next weekend brunch!  http://www.padmanadi.com/documents/brunch_menu.pdf 

Well that's all I'm going to feature for today.  Look forward to further posts in the future -- there's just too much goodness to cover in one article!  In any case I hope to see you at Padmanadi soon!
If you're interested in viewing photos of the grand opening click:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/35723494@N04/sets/72157624215504583/

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Becel vs Earth Balance



When I saw the ads popping up on my computer that Becel had bought out a vegan margarine I was so excited.  Another super large corporation plasters the "V" word for all the world to see on another very mainstream product.  It's awesome to see that veganism is penetrating the minds and pocketbooks of behind the scene shareholders. It makes me laugh to think of these stuffed suits sitting in boardrooms saying what the "H" is Vegan but who cares -- put it on there if it's gonna make us more $$$$!  They may not be a "pure" company like Earth Balance but hey how fussy can we get at this point!  Not everyone can afford to shop at exclusive health food stores with their exclusive prices.  So if we're looking at that as a dividing factor (and I don't think it is one we can forget) than we have to be thankful for whoever was behind the scenes at Becel that is helping to bring a new vegan product to the masses.

It's too easy to get caught up in "pure" attitudes and overlook the fact that for many people disposable income is an issue and there is a pretty big difference between $3.99 for Becel from Safeway and $5.69 for Earth Balance Organic Whipped Butter Spread at your local health food store.  It's also much easier for people to find a "chain grocery store" than an "organic food store" in most neighborhoods.  I understand that there may be other issues behind Becel but if we're looking strictly at what's on the label and for people who want to be Vegan and support the concept of veganism than it's a really positive new product for them to embrace.

With respect to flavor - Becel does have that going on -- it's a nice light buttery taste and one that most people are used to.  I love the fact Becel is spreadable straight out of the fridge whereas with Earth Balance (particulary the non-whipped versions)  you have to remember to put it on the counter for a bit or you won't be spreading anything.  I find that the Organic Whipped Butter Spread is the tastiest product, as well as the easiest spreading butter in the Earth Balance line and will continue to use it as I prefer to use organic wherever possible. And of course,  the 1/4 lb blocks of  Earth Balance hard margarine are still ideal for baking cookies and the like. With the increasing demand for organics in the marketplace I'd guess that it won't be long before  Becel will come out with an organic version of their vegan margarine as well.  In the meantime I'm pleased to know that there is now a second choice out there and it's as close as the nearest grocery store shelf in almost any neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vegan Shampoo & Vegan Bakery (Toronto)


You can't eat this but it was pretty exciting to see a "vegan" shampoo on the  "regular" store shelves. Not only that they actually put the word vegan on the back of their product. If you click on this picture it should be big enough to see it clearly.  I love the pretty colors they used to package the shampoo as well.  Clearly I'm a product junkie and easily taken in but just for the record it did a fine job of shampooing and conditioning my hair. Who ever thought that vegan would become mainstream enough for a major cosmetics company to start using such terminology to market their product?  Obviously veganism has made it's mark and it's clear it's not a trend but a movement that's only going to continue to gain strength with every passing day, month and year!

I'm still remaking all my favorite "old" recipes on here and neglecting my creativity in trying new vegan recipes in favor of knitting but I'm gearing up towards some ideas for fresh spring recipes. It's hard to believe that Easter is less than two weeks away.

If you live in the Toronto area you are too lucky for words -- today my facebook friend Sherry Vanstone posted a comment about a new Vegan Danish Bakery.  I've given you the link so you too can drool and wish you had such a bakery near you! A girl can dream! Ask me how jealous I am of Sherry -- so much so I'm almost looking a little green :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gluten-Free Carrot Muffins

Another delicious gluten free version of one of my all time favorites -- carrot muffins.  I've been craving them for a long time but I've been reluctant to put down my knitting needles.  Still going strong on the knitting but my desire for a fresh muffin finally did me in and I spent today doing some baking and cooking.  I've just been making the same old recipes so had nothing new to share but I think if you're looking for gluten-free versions of baked goods you're going to really enjoy this carrot muffin recipe I came up with today.  Turned out a bit sweeter than I expected so might try it with a little less sugar next time but otherwise seriously delicious and they filled the kitchen with a wonderful spicy aroma thanks to the cinnamon. In case you're wondering why you can't see the raisins (I just recently bought Newman's Own brand of organic raisins and I highly recommend them) or carrots it's because I blended my wet mixture in the Vita-Mix  -- my grandson won't eat muffins with  whole raisins hence my reason for blending!  If you have a fussy little toddler this works out perfectly.  He loved them -- and ate 1-1/2 for a snack! I love gluten free verson muffins for toddlers because almond flour is nutritionally superior to white flour and since they are too young to eat nuts whole it's a great way to get in some extra calories.

Ingredients

1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup finely grated carrot
1/4 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vinegar

1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the wet ingredients together -- let stand for about 1/2 hour or so to allow raisins to plump up. In the meantime measure out your dry ingredients. I put all the dry ingredients in my vita-mix as well to whirl them together and also to make the almond meal into a finer grind. I can only get the Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal and it's slightly coarse so I find it works a little more like a flour by processing it in the Vita-mix along with the other flours and dry ingrdients. I also whirled my wet ingredients in the Vita-Mix as well but this is totally optional. Mix wet and dry together thoroughly. I used 1/4 cup mixture per muffin. (I used If You Care Muffin Liners -- which have been revamped and are once again excellent -- make sure to look for the red triangle on the side to assure it's the new, improved version!). This batch made 11 muffins. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Most muffin recipes say 350 but maybe my oven runs on the low side because I need 375 to produce a nicely baked muffin. One day I should do a real test with an oven thermometer.

My latest trio of comfort dolls! These little guys are so fun to knit and I'm just so glad that they're going to comfort children who have very few luxuries in this life. Thanks to ICROSS Canada for giving me the opportunity to participate in this.