Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Juicing 101

A Dinosaur is interested in new spells and concoctions :O) The above is an example of the gentle introduction into the world of juicing: one apple, one orange and one carrot -- delicious!! This blends awesome in the vitamix -- nary a bit of leftover pulp to speak off! I'm calling this juicing 101 because I've never juiced before and I'm not ready to dive into the hard cord world of kale and chard quite yet -- maybe next week :O)  Anyhow daughter Nicole has been juicing for the last month and has been sending me links and videos to watch and I'm starting to get interested.  I've also been watching a fellow facebooker and veggie prairie girl blog follower post links and picture of her fresh juices and so I'm wondering what all the hoopla is about and am doing some research. She posted an excellent link to a you tube video that gives some background on the importance of excellent food choices to support a healthy body and be free of degenerative diseases (Charlotte Gerson). You can find it here.

Of course the best thing is personal experimentation so I want to slowly start introducing more fresh juices into my diet.  My love affair with cooked foods knows no bounds and I'm starting to think it might need a few boundaries! Especially after watching this 4 part interview with Karyn Calabrese (photo below - age 63 - I might have to listen to her interview again - she looks so vibrant and from what she says she has tons of energy and is free from  disease)!What I like about her is that she is not overly preachy - in fact she stresses that the you should do what is right for you. She is an excellent speaker and has a wonderful way of conveying  what has worked for her and others she has helped to attain a better quality of life.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Sugar and spice and everything nice - that's what pumpkin cheesecake is made of!  Bonus is it's very easy to make though you do need a good blender or food processor to whirl the tofutti and tofu together silky smooth. I got the recipe from fat-free vegan kitchen though I did go against her advice and used pumpkin pie mix and am really glad I did.  I did mine with organic sugar - I was concerned that agave syrup would make it too runny -- not sure if it would or not but I didn't want to chance it.  I also substituted tapioca starch for the cornstarch - that change didn't seem to effect the outcome as it baked perfectly.

Caramel sauce on top was added by me and I loved the two together.  It's not part of the original recipe from fat-free vegan kitchen - it's the same sauce used on the salted vanilla caramel cupcakes.  If you find that is too sweet for you trying whipping up some coconut creme instead.  I've not tried it myself but I'm sure it would be delicious. I have had coconut cream pudding at Padmanadi Restaurant and it is delightful so I'm pretty confident the whipped coconut cream would be as well. Another nice addition might be a scoop of So Delicious Gourmet Vanilla ice cream. I have some in the freezer and look forward to experimenting :O)  I'm also thinking this pumpkin pie filling would be perfect as mini tarts with a little star piping of whipped coconut cream.  

I found this absolutely spectular pumpkin pie mix by Farmer's Market at Earth's General Store.  It's flavored to perfection for this application. Farmer's Market goes the extra mile by ensuring that the cans that their beautiful organic pumpkin pie mix comes in have BPA- free liners!

This is my second time making this recipe - and it was by request from my DD Nicole who celebrated her 30-something birthday yesterday.  She was my beautiful Christmas surprise in 1979! She was supposed to be my New Year's baby but came a wee bit early and consequently I rushed out of the house with half-baked xmas cookies left in the oven (I did turn it off).  I also had request to make some vanilla cupcakes by my other DD Rachel and I love how they turned out so here's a pic of them and of my two lovely darling daughters!  I used the same recipe as the salted caramel vanilla cupcakes but I took away 2 tablespoons of white flour and subbed with 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch and will do that again for future cupcakes.  I think it makes it a little lighter tasting which I like for vanilla cupcake.  I used Let's Do Confetti Sprinklez for a little added glam!  I used smucker's strawberry topping in the icing to get the delicate pink color - worked nicely and gave it a nice little tang.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Soy Eggnog and Natural Candy Canes

If you're looking for some "eggnog flavor" over the holidays I've recently tried two vegan nogs.  The Vitasoy and Soy Nice brand.  Both were good but different.  If you prefer a thinner "eggnog style" with a definite spicey flavor you'll want to go with Vitasoy Organic Holly Nog! This one is 60 calories and 11 gms sugar per 1/2 cup serving. The Vitasoy would be suitable as a hot beverage if you like that kind of thing - I do. The So Nice would not.

The So Nice Noel Nog is quite a bit thicker and spices are not as distinct.  It is also 60 calories per half cup serving but slightly higher in sugar at 16 gm. Both are very tasty and certainly worthy of gracing your holiday table.

One more product that we tried out for the festive season were some "natural" (organic, no corn syrup, gluten free, no artificial colors or flavors, vegan and kosher) candy canes.  Made by Tru Sweets - they have a slightly peppermint slightly sweet flavor that is geared to the younger set but I enjoyed them too!  Our resident 4 year old loved them - he had one and then helped decorate the tree with the remainder.  They have a nice soft pinky-red color to them and look beautiful.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Decided a little healthier alternative to a popular kid's canned tomato pasta was needed in our household. So we picked up a package of organic Prairie Harvest alphabet pasta and some organic roasted tomato sauce (Neal Brothers).  Check out their website to view all their products -- they are definitely Sauce-some as advertised! I would have preferred a slightly larger size alphabet pasta but that's not easy to come by in an organic version. I believe that there might be some larger size just "O"'s and I just might try that out another time. Anyhow the alphabet pasta I got does serve the purpose  and was a definite requirement as the first question our little tester asked  (more like demanded) when presented with the bowl of "healthagetti" (before even looking himself) was "Are there letters in it"? Anyhow it passed with flying colors as he eagerly ate the entire portion with great gusto!

Boil some filtered water (4 cups) in a large pot. Add 1 cup of alphabet pasta. Boil until it's the texture you like - mine took about 20 minutes but I prefer it more on the soft side. Drain. Add your pasta sauce (I whirled the sauce in the magic bullet so as to ensure there were no chunky bits of onion as that would turn off our intended target audience - a picky 4 year old!) Taste and add a bit of the following if required to make it taste more like the commercial product:  organic canola oil, sea salt, and a pinch or two of organic sugar.  Add a tablespoon of water or soy milk if it seems too thick.  It also benefits from the addition of a tablespoon or two of a good organic ketchup (Simply Natural is excellent).  And don't forget the "sneaky sauce" addition of a steamed carrot if you want to add a little extra Vitamin A.

I didn't have any cheesy products on hand but add a shake of a good vegan parmesan if your little one likes cheese flavor. Link here for a simple homemade version I intend to try out soon.  It made about 3 cups.  I froze a one cup portion for a future meal. I'm hoping it freezes nicely and reheats well as it would be an awesome timesaver to have some healthy vegan toddler meals on hand.  Like most soups and chili "Healthagetti" is better the second day - the pasta absorbed a whole lot more of the tomato sauce and consequently the alphabet letters were a bit larger too! A win-win situation and like day number one our tester finished up his lunch with much enthusiasm.

4 cups filtered water
1 cup alphabet pasta or "O"'s pasta
1 cup smooth tomato pasta sauce
organic canola or olive oil (to taste)
salt (to taste)
organic sugar (to taste)
steamed carrot (optional - added to tomato sauce)
vegan parmesan (optional)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Peanut Butter & Jam Frosted Jewels

These are jewels cause they are super easy to make, they're vegan and they're so good.

1/4 cup earth balance margarine
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar

1 cup of organic unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Soy vegan eggnog (enough to bind)
about 1/4 cup or so

Cream the margarine and peanut butter together with a wooden spoon. Add the sugars and mix well.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Add as much vegan eggnog as required to making a easy to roll dough.  Probably about a 1/4 cup or so as that is what I ended up using.  Press together and roll into a cylinder - wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for a couple of hours or so.  Roll balls - flatten with glass and make thumb imprint - add some yummy red jam and bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes depending on size you make.
Cool and drizzle with some vegan royal icing (icing sugar mixed with a few teaspoons of water until nice pouring consistency). A pretty cookie for the Vegan Christmas Platter!

And just to balance out all this sugar may I suggest  a lovely green shake (cucumber, kiwi, orange, celery, apple, purple kale and spinach) compliments of Nicole !

Friday, November 25, 2011

This Old House and Cinnamon Buns

This is the house where I lived from aged 6-18 years old.  They were wonderful years. My parents recently sold the house to my younger sister and her husband.  So fortunate for me because all my best childhood memories are wrapped up inside the walls of this house and the walls of my mind. They are the ideal couple for this home because they have extensive renovating experience and lots of great ideas to keep the old homestead in beautiful and tip-top condition. The above pic was taken this fall and is still a work in progress but I'm loving it!!  One of my favorite memories is the wonderful cinnamon buns that my mom made often for us. I guess that's where I get my love of baking fresh breads. We were a family of 8 kids growing up with two wonderful parents so we were very fortunate indeed. I wish every child could grow up the way we did. We also had neighbors a few houses down who had 13 kids!  Well if you can believe it we would all get together once in a while and guess what this mom baked for all of us - cinnamon buns!! Another talented wonderful mom who put lots of love into her baking!  So cinnamon buns hold a really special place in my heart - aside from the fact that they are utterly delectable fresh out of the oven and without all of the preservatives and other stuff you can't read on the store bought packages! Oh and least I forget both my  mom and the neighbor used wood stoves for the longest time for all their cooking and baking! The early sixties were like a "Norman Rockwell painting" - idyllic and carefree (at least for me)!

Anyhow all that bread making rubbed off on me and one of my favorite things is baking fresh cinnamon rolls and they are so easy to do I encourage everyone to at least try it once. It's amazing how little flour (about 2 - 2 1/4) it takes to produce 12 lucious buns. I am still old fashioned in that I prefer the traditional yeast -- I want to see it rising before I put it into my flour! I don't want quick mix anything when it comes to baking bread! One tip I tried that works really well is to  put your bread in a closed oven along with a bowl of steaming boiled water.  Makes a lovely cosy environment for the bread to rise nicely. I took photos of the steps to making the buns -- once your dough has risen and you have punched it down. I did this batch with pecans because I was out of raisins.  I want to try them again with freshly steamed/diced pieces of apples or canned pears which is something I've never tried but sounds yummy!  They're also terrific without bits of raisins or fruit in them if you prefer them straight up cinnamon (well don't forget the butter and brown sugar layer to go with it)! I use a liberal spreading of Earth Balance margarine and muscovado sugar as the starting point before anything else!  I also love the icing sugar/water glaze on top - I drizzle a bit when they first come out of the oven so it soaks into as many of the crevices of the bun as possible and then I finish it off with another application once the buns have cooled.

1-1/4 cup of  soymilk/water
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 packet of traditional yeast

3 tablespoons melted Earth Balance margarine
1/4 cup of organic white sugar
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

2 - 2  1/4 cups organic unbleached white flour

Stir the sugar into the warmed soymilk/water mixture (used 3/4 cup of each).  Sprinkle with yeast. Let stand for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the sugar, salt and melted margarine (make sure it's not too hot).  Stir in the flour a cup at a time until you get a dough that pulls way from the bowl.  Knead until smooth and elastic.  Put into a clean bowl - grease top and sides of dough with a bit of olive oil or margarine.  Let rise in a warm spot for about 1-1/2 hour.

Punch down and roll out on counter top into a rectangle shape.  Spread with margarine, sugar, cinnamon and whatever fruit or raisins you decided to use.  I ended up with 12. Place into a lightly greased pan - and let rise again in a warm spot for another hour or so.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Glaze with icing. Cool and glaze a little more!

Friday, November 18, 2011

5-Grain Pizza Rolls

Pizza Bun Dough

1-1/4 cup of  soymilk/water
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 packet of traditional yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup kamut flour
1-1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir the sugar into the warmed soymilk/water mixture (used 3/4 cup of each).  Sprinkle with yeast. Let stand for about 10 minutes.  Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Stir in the flour a cup at a time until you get a dough that pulls way from the bowl.  Knead until smooth and elastic.  Put into a clean bowl - grease top and sides of dough with a bit of olive oil or margarine.  Let rise in a warm spot for about 1-1/2 hour.

Punch down and roll out on counter top into a rectangle shape.  Spoon on your sauce liberally and top with your pan-fried tofu.  I used medium firm tofu that I marinated overnight in a few spices and olive oil.  It is more like tofu cubes and crumbles but that is perfect for inside these pizza rolls. Roll up your dough just like you do for making cinnamon buns and cut into equal pieces.  I ended up with 12. Place into a lightly greased pan - and let rise again in a warm spot for another hour or so.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

A purchased jar of Edens Crushed Organic Tomatoes with garlic and onion.  I sauteed veggies as shown in the pan above (1 onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 shallot, 5 cauliflower florets, 1 small sweet potato, 1 carrot and 2 pieces of large swiss chard).  I sprinkled with about 2 teaspoons of veggie broth powder and added about 1 cup of water and let it simmer for a good  hour or so (on low heat with a lid on).  By that time the water was more or less evaporated and the veggies were very soft.  If there is too much water left either pour it off or take lid off and let it sit on the stove until it's gone.  I whirled the veggies in my magic bullet briefly and then mixed it with the Eden crushed tomatoes. The two mixed together is pictured in the bowl above.  I ended up with 2/3 cup mashed veggies and decided to add 2/3  cup tomato sauce to come up with the blend I wanted for the pizza buns. I was inspired to make a healthier tomato sauce thanks to the Sneaky Chef book I looked through recently.  This is not one of their specific recipes - I figured almost anything goes with tomato sauce and those were the veggies I had in my fridge. So use whatever you have on hand that you think would work or used just the crushed tomatoes -- works perfectly well all on its own and saves a few steps.  I have a picky 4 year old I'm trying to get more veggies into or I would opt for the quick and easy route myself!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sweet Potato Pate

This is my favorite basic sunflower pate recipe with a few changes/additions.  Here they are:

#1 - Decided to use a sweet potato instead of a white potato for extra nutrition.
#2 - Added and sauteed 8 large white button mushrooms along with my onion/garlic and skipped the celery.
#3 - Used only brown organic rice flour to make it totally gluten-free.
#4 - I also decided that I like my pate very smooth therefore I am now blending the water with all the veggies (including the sauteed mushrooms/onions/garlic) before adding it to the dry ingredients.
#5 - Added a bit of cayenne for extra kick and sprinkled the top of raw batter with a generous dose of chili powder for color and flavor.

I recommend Willow Creek Organic Sunflower Seeds if you can find them! They used to be available at Sobey's but for some reason they are no longer carrying them in my neighborhood. I did find them at Valleyview IGA in Laurier Heights (Edmonton, Alberta) so if my readers have any other locations where they have been spotted pleased let me know! Or if they are available online! I love all the Willow Creek Products - they are extensive and wonderful - just really hard to find!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hearty Autumn Soup

This is one stick-to-the-ribs hearty soup for a chilly fall day. Earthy fresh taste and full of super nutrition to keep you feeling tip-top!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup minced parsley
4 carrots, diced
2 small beets, diced
2 cups diced green cabbage
2 cups diced sweet potato
2 cups diced potato
1 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup converted rice
1-1/2 cups cooked white beans
2-3 teaspoons veggie broth powder
salt/pepper/spices to taste
4-6 cups water

Saute your onions and garlic until lightly carmelized. Add the rest of your veggies, rice and beans (if using canned I would suggest draining and rinsing before adding to the soup).  Start with 4 cups of water. Sprinkle in your veggie broth and spices. Bring soup to a boil, turn down heat and simmer until done. Add water as required.  I did a couple of turns through the soup with my stick blender - leaving it pretty well half pureed and half chunky.  I let it simmer like that for another 1/2 hour - stir once in a while as the rice gets a little starchy and can start sticking a bit. The crackers featured beside my soup are Mary's organic gluten free crackers.  My husband went shopping to Costco on Saturday and after sampling it he decided to buy a family size pack for all of us to try.  A crispy cracker full of sesame seeds which helps to give it lots of flavor.

I purchased the white beans for this soup at the Dutch Delish store here in Edmonton.  I love the size and I love the fact that they are packed in glass jars.  A very nice clean taste.  I got a kick out of their motto - "Vers van het land " which translated literally means "fresh from the land"!  The little blue/white label states that it has "minder zout en pure smaak"  which means "less salt and pure taste".  I'd have to agree - with all their claims - they are indeed a soft skinned, delicate and fresh tasting white bean. Dutch Delish has a large variety of vegetables, beans and sauces packed in glass jars. The Hak brand minced spinach is amazing too and if you can believe it only has two ingredients: spinach and nutmeg - no crazy additives or color -- just fresh from the garden taste goodness!  Don't forget to pick up a box of speculaas cookies while you're there -- they're a dutch staple and they are a wonderful light cinnamon-gingery cookie. When we were young my mother used to make us speculaas sandwiches for a treat -- don't knock it till you've tried it. We loved them!

Blueberry Oatbran Muffins GF

These are my favorite gluten free muffin to date. I love the lucious filling of blueberries and the sprinkle and sparkle of coarse sugar on top (1/2 teaspoon is all it takes to add a sweet crunchy coating).  This recipe is nearly identical to my original recipe that I created for the gluten free Banana Oatbran-Pecan muffins with a few changes to better suit the moister content of blueberry filling.

1 cup oat bran
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup almond flour
2 tbsp. tapioca starch

2 tbsp. golden flaxseed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup *apple* juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 banana (frozen or fresh)
cut into little chunks

coarse sugar for topping
1/2 teaspoon per muffin

Mix together all the dry ingredients and sift - there will be oatbran leftover - just toss back into the dry and mix through.  I like to sift the dry ingredients as that ensures that the flaxseed, tapioca starch, salt and baking powder are evenly distributed throughout the main  flour mixture.

Mix the liquid ingredients into a 2 cup liquid measure cup - total liquids needs to equal 1-1/4 cup.  Add any of the liquid ingredients (I prefer to add extra apple juice) to ensure you get to that 1-1/4 cup. If you don't have apple juice use pineapple or orange or whatever else you might have on hand. 

Dice your banana (fresh or frozen) into little chunky size pieces (one slice cut into four is about right - you want them big enough so they don't disappear into the baked product as they are delicious when they stay tiny bite size pieces once baked). I always freeze my excess bananas just peeled whole and put into freezer containers. They're easy to slice and dice from frozen -- a little chilly on the hands but it works.

Pour in your liquid ingredients - mix together.  Fold in your diced banana pieces. Then using  a 2 tablespoon measure distribute about half of the batter evenly between the 9 muffin liners.  Now dip a  2 tablespoon measure into a bag of frozen blueberries (I rarely have fresh so that's what I use - I buy organic wild blueberries for my muffins) and put about that much on top of the batter in each muffin cup. Don't worry about defrosting the blueberries -- I always put them in totally frozen. Push down a little with the tip of your finger.  Divide the rest of the remaining batter evenly on top of blueberries.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of coarse sugar.

Bake for 18-20 minutes at 375.  Let cool in muffin pan for about 5-10 minutes.  Remove gently using a big spoon and place on a cooling rack for another 20 minutes or so.  I freeze whatever I don't eat the first day.  For best flavor defrost on counter and reheat on low in the toaster oven or microwave to give it that fresh baked taste.

October 26th. 2011: I just made another batch of these and I subbed the agave with 3 tablespoons of homemade organic brown sugar (1 teaspoon of molasses stirred into 1 cup of organic white sugar until it becomes soft brown sugar).  Gave them a slightly more cake-like texture and I decided to add a lemon glaze (I love lemon flavored anything) just to kick it up a notch and the result is seriously outstanding.

I opened up one of the muffins to show how many blueberries I fit into each one -- a full two tablespoons.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Take the Veggie Challenge - and win Prizes!

The Toronto Vegetarian Association sponsors a Veggie Challenge.  Daily e-mail recipes, support and prizes at the end of the challenge. Prize offers available almost anywhere in the world so sign up and start winning!!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Get your printable list of the top 10 food additives to avoid from
You can also watch the documentary "Food Matters" online for free tomorrow and Saturday.

James & Laurentine
Producer / Directors ‘Food Matters’
"We here at Food Matters are committed to helping you help yourself. We believe that your body is worthy of good care and that no one is more suitably qualified to care for it than yourself. Think of us as your nutritional consultants and know that we are here with you on your journey to a healthier life".

Monday, September 26, 2011

T-Rex Dinosaur at the Bulk Barn

My soon-to-be 4 year old grandson woke up from his nap and the first think he said was:  I dreamed I  had a T-Rex Dinosaur Cake for my birthday - Is it my birthday yet? I'm not surprised he dreams of dinosaurs - he's consumed with them this summer. He does dinosaur roars at the local parks and what amuses me is that all the dads know exactly what he is :O)  So if he's dreaming of a dino cake is there any way we could not put one together?  I think not!  So I quickly started googling!  And of course Wilton has a T-Rex form cake pan suitable for the preschoolers.  Thank goodness.  An even bigger thank goodness is that the Bulk Barn outlet at south common will rent you the cake pan for a mere $1.99 per day (plus $20.00 refundable deposit).  I can't see that we'll want to make it more than once or maybe twice?  In any case $1.99 is a bargain and it won't be collecting dust on the back shelf somewhere for years and years.

I really like Bulk Barn - they have lots of gluten free products available plus natura soy milk for one of the best prices I've seen anywhere. And if you're into cupcakes (and you might have guessed that I am) they have all kinds of cupcake liners and special little packages to gift your cupcakes in. They also sell the 3-in-1 cake carrier for $3.00 less than Wal-mart.  Now that's a good deal! Check out the link above as their website is extensive and informative. There's also a printable coupon for $3 this week that you can use on a $10 or more purchase from now until October 6th.

Bulk Barn
2077 98 St NW
(780) 461-4454

Friday, September 23, 2011

Espresso Cupcakes

These are a-m-a-z-i-n-g especially if you love espresso and amaretto.  We used a combination of a couple of different recipes plus a few ideas of our own.  This was a joint effort in the kitchen between me and my DD. We had a lot of fun making and sampling it! If anyone is urgently requiring the recipe please e-mail me -- if not I'll be posting it later.  If you're out at Padmanadi this weekend ask for a slice of Maya's vegan Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake - if there is any left to be had that is!  We were there Thursday night and indulged in it and it was d-i-v-i-n-e!

Here's a website worth checking out -- the Veg Coach tells you how to eat Vegan on $4 a day! Also check out the Vegetarians of Alberta and Earth's General Store websites for a whole slew of events for the month of October!

October 1st (Saturday)
Kick-off the month of fun at Earth’s General Store (9605 82 Ave) on International World Vegetarian Day!  Join us at noon for a vegan barbecue. Stay for the musicians until 4pm.  Local vegan vendors will be showcasing their products and there will be a Used Book Sale with proceeds going to VVoA.  Donate your used books! Drop off any book at Earth’s General Store the Friday night before or when you come out to enjoy World Vegetarian Day.

Coconut Lentil Soup (Crockpot Recipe)

We put this on before we left the house and when we came home the wonderful aroma of this full-bodied soup welcomed us. What a treat to come home to. Super simple and super delicious.  Break out the crockpot and give this one a whirl. For a lower fat version use 1/2 soy milk and 1/2 coconut milk.  Coconut milk has enough flavor to allow you to cut it with the soy milk without any problem.  Do remember to wash your lentils very very well.  They seem to need it -- ours seemed very "dusty" for lack of a better word.


1 cup red lentils, washed very well
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
14 ounce can tomatoes
2 carrots, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup coconut milk

Soften onion and garlic in olive oil. Wash your lentils and wash them some more! Add all the rest of the ingredients except for the coconut milk. Put into your crockpot (about 3-4 quart size) and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 8-10 hours. Add your coconut milk at end of desired cooking time and let it bubble for another 15-20 minutes until heat through. Makes about 6 - 1 cup servings.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Salted Caramel Vanilla Cupcakes

So here's what I was up to today!  Could not resist trying out the recipe that I found on the Toronto Vegetarian Association website last night whilst browsing.  I have had the pleasure to meet the fabulous Sherry Vanstone and have been lucky enough to partake of her delicious vanilla cupcakes recently (Maya's wedding May 2011) and so was quite sure these would be delectable.  And thousands agree as she entered this recipe last year and she won first place for Best Vegan Cupcake and Best in Show. Recipe can be found under the TVA website and is called The Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off Booklet of Recipes.  These cupcakes are out of this world delicious.  Tasted even better the next day if that's possible (it was)!  The caramel sauce had integrated deeply into the cupcake and all I can say is "get off the computer and go and make these"!  I can see why Sherry won first place with this outstanding combo of flavors.

Veggie Prairie Girl Ramblings
My first batch of cupcakes I made exactly as per the recipe.  For the second batch I had to use 1/2 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup soy milk because I didn't have a full cup of soy milk left in the house.  I had made a batch previous with only soy milk and for some reason the batch with coconut milk rose nicer.  Could be because coconut milk was room temp and soy milk was cold?  Or because of the coconut milk? This brand contained coconut milk, water and citric acid for ingredients.  Perhaps citric acid helped them rise a little more?  I'll have to do another comparison making two batches before I come to a conclusion on the "rising" issue. Perhaps my vinegar might have been flawed in the first batch and perhaps that was responsible for them being a little lower - there's always variables whenever things don't turn out exactly as anticipated.  I was using organic vinegar and it seemed there was a lot of sediment on the bottom -- perhaps I should have shook it before measuring out the required amount. However regardless of my "rising issues" the taste was perfection. 

Notice the indentations in top of cupcakes -- I wasn't sure how to pool the caramel nicely so instead I took the end of wooden spoon and just jabbed each cupcake. Maybe I was little over enthusiastic with the depth of the indentation. Because I would drip in the caramel and it would just keep disappearing and disappearing. Fortunatley for me the disappearing act proved to be a good thing  -- it was super delicious next day as the caramel had soaked throughout middle of cupcake.  Next time I'll do the same (because it WAS good!) then seal the top with a dab of icing and then make a little puddle.  I also need to buy some coarse salt to sprinkle on top because all I had was fine sea salt and it didn't do the trick. I baked my cupcakes for 16 minutes at 350.  Made 9 regular sized cupcakes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Green and Gold Community Garden Produce

What does $20.00 buy? An amazing array of super fresh healthy vegetables for your family and a hand-up for African women. The Green and Gold Community Garden offers us the chance to think/act local and think/act global. After reading about it in the Edmonton Journal I headed out to the university research farm on Tuesday evening and was quite pleased to be able to avail myself of some garden fresh produce and to support the women of Rawanda.  A win-win situation all the way around. A big round of applause to all the volunteers who work the garden and allow us the opportunity to make some nutritious meals and be happy that 100% of all the monies paid for the produce are donated to the Tubahumurize Association, in Rwanda.

Tubahumurize is a not-for-profit organization that supports socially and economically marginalized women through counselling, vocational training, health education, and employment opportunities. In 2010, the garden’s second summer of operation, they raised $21,587.00 from donations for the garden produce.  The garden is open to the public on Tuesday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 11-1 p.m.  Check the link above for further details. You can put yourself on their e-mail list and they'll update you twice a week as to what vegetables are available.

P.S. Last night there were a few bundles of various colored "marigold/mum/daisy" type flowers that were selling for $4 a bundle.  Somebody said they were called "straw" flowers (quite dry to the touch yet firm). Very cute - very prairie-style flower arrangement :O)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Perfect Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie

The perfect vegan peanut butter cookie compliments of  Betty Crocker circa 1975 and vegan ingredients circa 2011! Paired with a glass of delicious chilled original flavor soy milk for the ultimate classic snack.  If you have never tried Muscovado brown sugar (Cuisine Camino) it's definitely worth seeking out. Bonus - this is a super duper easy recipe. No need to even dirty a mixer - a strong arm and wooden spoon will suffice.  You'll have them in the oven in 5 minutes or less!

1/2 cup Whipped Organic Earth Balance margarine
1/2 cup  Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter
1/2 cup organic white sugar
1/2 cup Muscovado Brown Sugar
1/4 cup soft tofu (sunrise blue label)

1-1/4 cup unbleached organic white flour (Western family)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon organic baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix the first 5 ingredients together. Add the 4 dry ingredients. Roll into balls (2 tbsp each). Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Crisscross with fork. Bake for 10 minutes at 375.  Let sit for a few minutes on your baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Took a dozen of these to Kinsmen Park with us yesterday and we enjoyed them very much under the beautiful blue alberta skies! The happy sounds of squeals and giggles echoed all over the park - the loudest of which I swear came from my precious grandson Nico. He finally agreed (more or less) to leave at 8 p.m. after 5  hours of pure joyful play.

Cuisine Camino Tip for using Muscovado Brown Sugar:
Caramelize it and use it as you would use icing to write on a cake: Make the caramelized mix, write your text on a parchment paper, keep it at room temperature and that´s it!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Zucchini Season

Zucchini season is in full swing on the Canadian Prairies. Lucky for me a co-worker at my husband's office bought some of her zucchini harvest to share (thank you so much Sharon!).

A little background on the zucchini taken from Wikipedia. The description presented doesn't exactly inspire --- anything that contains the words "swollen ovary" is not music to my ears or any other female on the planet earth I'd dare to hazard to guess! I'm always surprised at the produce that I think is a vegetable is actually a fruit. Here's the direct quote from Wikipedia:

"In a culinary context, the zucchini is treated as a vegetable which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower." 

Anyhow don't let that put you off -- it's darn healthy: 1/2 cup provides 19% of the recommended amount of manganese. Also provides useful amounts of  folate, potassium, and vitamin A.  And  lets not forget how fortunate we are that it often grows quite easily in our prairie gardens. 

JFYI: There is a big birthday buffet coming up at Padmanadi on August 31st. Sources have revealed that there will be 1000 vegan cupcakes to celebrate Kasim's birthday.  Count me in!! Maya's vegan vanilla cupcakes are amazing - they get a 10/10 from me and that's not easy to do! I got carried away thinking about the buffet - but time to get back to the matter at hand:  here's my list of ingredients for a healthy way to enjoy beets and zucchini. Start with:

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion
1 container medium-firm tofu
chili powder, cumin and garlic powder

Dice your onion and cube the tofu. Season with chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Add a splash of paul bragg and just let it all simmer in the olive oil whilst you start chopping the veggies below.  Add water as needed to keep it from sticking.  Throw in about 2-3 teaspoons veggie broth powder.

Put a lid on it and simmer for however long you like.  I simmered it for about 2 hours.  You can serve it over rice if you leave it liquidy-like.  I didn't have any rice on hand so I stirred in about 1 cup of mashed potato to thicken and that worked out quite well. Picture of the mixture in the frying pan is how it looked before I added the mashed potato. Picture below has the mashed potato in it.

4 carrots
3 beets
1 zucchini
2 potatoes
1/2 cup diced green cabbage
2-3 teaspoons veggie broth powder
water as needed

This is a recipe that might do well with the slow cooker.  The initial softening of vegetables whilst you chop you have to do regardless  - the bonus of course would be not having to worry about it sticking whilst it is simmering for the next 2 hours. I was just reading the introduction to 125 best vegetarian recipes for a slow cooker so I'm now thinking how I can incorporate my recipes to such. I was reading it aloud at the park to my daughter whilst my grandson was playing on the slide and one part made me laugh.  I said "listen to this" -- over 25 million slow cookers are sold every year world wide.  And my daughter said "and there are only 50 actually being used"!  We continued to peruse the recipes and have plans to try some soon as they all sounded delicious and doable.  I'll post our favorites on here as we try them out.  That might take a while though so I would advise that in the meantime you beg, borrow (it is available through the Edmonton Public Library) or buy the book: 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson.  I was lucky enough to find a pristine copy (for only $2.99) at my local Goodwill Store.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes - take 2!

I've made these cupcakes too many times to count but I love them because they are very forgiving and still usually turn out no matter what you may or may not change. I barely had 1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour left in my cannister so I had to add 1/4 cup oat flour.  I'm thinking I just might do this on purpose next time as it seemed to make it a little bit denser and "fudgier" which I liked! I used 3 tbsp. olive oil + 2 tbsp. applesauce instead of 3 tbsp. canola oil + 3 tbsp. of pureed baby prunes and 1 cup of soy milk instead of the cold water.  I'm surprised how neutral olive oil can taste in so many recipes. I threw in an extra tablespoon of  Cuisine Camino cocoa powder (5 tablespoons instead of 4 and still included 1 tbsp. of decaff instant organic coffee).  I'm thinking that the strong flavor of cocoa possibly works well to neutralize the olive oil flavor in this case.

For the crowning glory  I whipped up a batch of quick "lemon" icing -- squeezed some fresh lemon, 3 tablespoons of earth balance (whipped organic) and of course powdered sugar.  Whipped organic margarine on it's own doesn't seem to produce a super stiff icing but firm enough that it doesn't run off the cupcake. Ideal mixture for those days you don't want to pull out the decorator and/or need an Eiffel Tower size topping!  Not that I don't love cupcakes that are top heavy - I surely do. My grandson LOVES icing and in fact loves it so much that he thought it would make a great hair gel!  I was tidying up my cupcake mess when he came running to me "Mema do you like my new hair?" Pictured below is him with his lovely icing hair gel. Needless to say count 1,2,3 and he was floating with his rubber ducky in the tub getting a new do!

He was due for a haircut anyhow but this kinda of speeded it up!  He agreed to the cut - he's used to it as we go from curls to smooth to curls quite often.  Takes him about 3-4 months to get same amount of curls back that were just shaved off!

Back to my cupcakes though -- the final touch was a mini-ginger cookie and last but not least a swirl of  Cuisine Camino chocolate (chips melted with a bit of earth balance margarine and thinned to right consistency with soy milk).  I used the trusty mini plastic bag with tip cut off  for that part. These mini ginger cookies are a real gem that I found at Giant Tiger recently.  They're made in Canada and appear to be made with only vegan ingredients.  Doesn't say vegan on the box but I can read all the ingredients clearly and they are straight forward and nothing weird! Brand name is Hollandia.  A 400 gram tub was only $2.77 the day I bought it.  I'm quite sure that Bulk Barn also carries the exact same cookies as I purchased 100 gm there and ingredients and taste are identical to Hollandia brand.  They charge 66 cents a 100 gm so works out to about same price.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mrs. May's Nut Clusters

Coconut Almond Crunch - a good-for-you vegan snack by Mrs. May's that I just tried out this week.  It certainly qualifies as a terrific energizing  food to give you some get up and go anytime you start to feel like you're losing steam. Cute little squares for easy portion control.  About 1 pluspoint per square if you're following WW plan.  Worth every pluspoint!  Website says that Safeway and Costco sell Mrs. May's but it's a U.S.A. site so not sure about here. I purchased them at a local store in my neighborhood (Brander Gardens) called El Chami.

Coconut boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance. It quickly creates a nutritional boost of energy that lasts. Coconut also supports tissue and muscle healing and repair, enabling the body to endure heavy exercise. Ninety percent of fat in almonds are unsaturated fat which help lower bad cholesterol! Loaded with protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E. Help prevents osteoporosis and regulates blood pressure. Pick up a bag of Coconut Almond Crunch today for a natural nut and healthy nut snack!
Almonds, Coconut Flakes, Rice Malt, Evaporated Cane Juice, Sea Salt.