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 !