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.