Friday, October 4, 2013

Missing Cheese? Join the club!

I greatly apologize for my sporadic posts.  I have been into my last phase of my degree and mixtures of hair pulling over reading heavy material and the fight against procrastination have taken over, on top of the other areas of normal "need-to-do's" that I have to get done.  But believe me, I have not forgotten!

So I have been craving pizza and all things cheesy for a while now.  Maybe it's because the weather has turned chill and when the grey skies bring along a frostiness all we want to do is to cuddle up around a fire with a dish that sticks to your ribs and ensures you won't be hungry again in an hour, like salad.
However the problem vegans face so often is that authentic cheesy goodness is very difficult to find, especially when you don't feel like making something from scratch yourself!
There are vegan cheeses out there on the market, but let's be honest, none of them still taste (or comfort) just like the real deal.
I have heard of some cheese brands that are very promising (which I haven't been able to try just yet), but in our town, with what few resources we have, the most promising is still the gluten free, nut free, soy free, casein free: Daiya cheese.

Daiya was the innovation that cuddled every vegan's heart.  It melted easily and stretched just like all those cheese commercials, but the taste....
So, the following tips (not really a recipe) are how to improve the flavor of your Daiya.  Because it is primarily a tapioca based "cheese" its flavor (while it does have some) is quite bland and mild.  Enhancements and improvements can be made with the combination of the following:

garlic powder
onion powder
nutritional yeast
oregano (if you're making pizza or italian food)

the trick here is to SALT your food, as many (if not most) cheeses are salted, and the nutritional yeast brings out that "cheesy" flavor.  Garlic powder and onion powders kill the tapioca-y flavor and enhance the other flavors around it, making it more cheesy and good.

I hope you make your favorite pizza this weekend and try this method, if you haven't already tried some mixture like this.  Let me know how things turn out!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes

Yup, you heard me, Vegan, Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes.  These are no joke.  There are quite a few flours to deal with but the end result is sooooo worth it, especially if your taste buds have been screaming for fall flavors like pumpkin.  Everyone in the home I'm staying in have been talking about pumpkin flavored coffees, pies, etc. as the weather seems to lure ourselves to do so.
So, pull out your best griddle or skillet and get crackin'! (without the eggs, because it's vegan) :)

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes
adapted from The Healthy Gluten-Free Life by Tammy Credicott
serves 4

dry ingredients:
1 1/2 c sorghum flour
1/4 c teff
1/2 c potato starch
1/4 c tapioca starch
2 tsp baking powder*
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp coconut palm sugar (raw sugar or turbinado can be substituted)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

wet ingredients:
1/2 + 1/3 c pureed pumpkin (canned is fine)
1 1/2 c vegan milk mixed with 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 c warm water

*I forgot the baking powder in my batter this time, and I think I put in 2 tsp of baking soda instead, and it still turned out beautiful, so if you suddenly have run out of powder, no worries!

1.  mix all the dry ingredients together.  mix the wet ingredients together.
2.  preheat griddle/skillet to medium high.  have oil spray, oil or vegan butter for greasing ready.
3.  pour wet ingredients into dry, and MIX AS FEW STROKES AS POSSIBLE, just until the batter is incorporated and there are few lumps but the batter is smooth (lumps remaining are fine).
 4.  with a 1/3 c measuring cup OR a ladle, pour batter onto greased pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until edges look golden or dry and the center has bubbles.  now flip!
5.  cook other side until just golden, 1-2 minutes.  now cook the rest of the batter.
if you find that your batter is browning too quickly, adjust heat.  Every stove is different and has its own temperaments so please adjust as needed.
6.  serve with vegan butter and maple syrup OR try a vegan cream cheese frosting.  either way, Tuck In!

Friday, September 20, 2013


Fall has slowly begun to creep in to our lives and it's not only evident by the leaves changing their colors, but definitely the chill that you feel (or is that just a sign of old age?).

As I write this, I am sitting under a pile of blankets with a warm, comforting bowl of Mochi, prepared the way the Japanese serve Kuzumochi in the summer, but WARM.

For anyone who doesn't know what 'mochi' is, it is a sticky, chewy dessert prevalent in Asia, that is made from pounding steamed sweet rice (a.k.a. glutinous rice) until it stretches and is chewy.
It is the ideal sweet as it is low in additives, diverse, and gluten free!
The Japanese depend on mochi heavily for their tea ceremonies as an accompaniment to macha, but it is eaten widely for celebrations and special occasions (or as a traditional snack).  In Korea it is also used for birthday celebrations, made in a shape like a cake, but many other forms can take shape.

This bowl of mochi is perfect for a chilly day as it's comforting and warm, and texturally complex.

Mochi Bowl
inspired by JustHungry's kuzumochi recipe
(serves 2 small or 1 generous portion)

half a square of Brown Rice Mochi (I used Grainaissance original)
1/4-1/2 c kinako (toasted soy bean powder)
molasses, to taste (*note:  molasses has a bitter/metallic flavor so please use sparingly at first)
anko (adzuki bean paste) (optional)

1.  follow package instructions and toast the mochi in oven.
2.  in a bowl, lay out mochi and anko (if desired), sprinkle the kinako over, and drizzle with some molasses.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Low Glycemic Gluten Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Okay, so I was getting really bummed that I hadn't eaten any rhubarb this summer.  The supermarket was selling the last of the summer's fresh rhubarb for $6 a pound!  I refuted that highway robbery and decided to check out the farmer's market.  Lo and behold, $2 for the necessary bundle.  Thank you local farmers for coming through.
Message of the story:  SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FARMS :)

Now that I'm off my soap box, let's move on.  I had been wanting to experiment with whole grain gluten free baking for a while and had not found a chance to.  The truth is, I don't like making baked goods all the time, whenever I crave them because I usually live alone and ..... you see where this is going?  Yup, if I baked a pie, you'd find me 3 days later, strewn in my living room floor, coming down from a pie hangover with nothing to show for it but an empty pie pan, a guilty conscience and some extra poundage 'round my middle.
I refuse!!! Never again!!! So, I've been trying to be good and only baking when there's gatherings where a dish is required.

Fast forward to present day and while I'm staying with a family, I can now bake things and only eat a SINGLE serving while we all equally share the loot.
Here is my first and last attempt (for this summer) of the classic Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.  Mind you, I kind of emptied some of my cupboard for this, using up certain things that I had bits of, so feel free to switch out certain things.

Low Glycemic Gluten Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
serves 6-8 

3 c rhubarb, washed, trimmed and diced into 1/2 inch slices
3 c strawberries, washed, tops removed and quartered
2/3 c coconut palm sugar
1/3 c fresh squeezed orange juice
zest of an orange OR 1 tsp dried lemon zest
1/4 c tapioca flour
2 Tbsp potato starch
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 c sorghum flour
1/4 c teff flour
1/2 c rolled oats OR quick oats
1/8 c potato starch
1/8 c tapioca flour
1/2 c hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/8 c flaxseed meal
1/4+ c coconut palm sugar (adjusting to your liking)
1/4 c earth balance
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  prepare a 8 x 8 baking dish.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, mix in all the filling ingredients.  pour into the baking dish and let it sit.
3.  In a small bowl, mix all the dry ingredients of the topping.  mix in the earth balance with your hands (finger tips) until the "butter" is mixed in throughout the flour, creating course crumb like bread crumbs.
4.  Spread the topping evenly over the filling and bake for 45-55 minutes, depending on oven.  Pull out when the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbly and thickened.
5.  Let it cool a bit, and serve with your favorite vegan ice cream!

I challenge you to only eat a SINGLE serving!  :)

Reboot Your System! Fruity Kale Smoothie

I know I've been away for so long!  I've been busy getting settled into my new city, where my initial living situation fell through.  I was left with the task of finding a new place, and thankfully a family at my church graciously have let me live with them.... and invade their kitchen.
I've found that if a kitchen is well situated and well stocked, organized and the citizens that own the kitchen willing to be adventurous with food, I am a happy, content little thing.

So~  because my hiatus has been so long, here are 2 posts.
First:  Fruity Kale Smoothie.  This is my attempt to make a smoothie that my best friend and I tried at a vegan restaurant in Toronto called FRESH.  If you've ever been there, you'll know that they're amazing, catering to food allergies but also to the gourmet vegan pallet.  The salad I had was great, but I must say, the winner that day was their quinoa onion rings.  Oh man!  It's a good thing I didn't order them because ..... slam!  I would have ordered like.... 3 orders.

Anyway, here's the great smoothie my friend had: fruity, healthy and so fresh! (see how I worked that pun in? hehehe)

Fruity Kale Smoothie
serves 2 large OR 4 regular 

1 bunch red (or green) kale, chopped chunky (I don't use lacinato/tuscan kale)
1 lb strawberries, washed and tops removed
1 small pineapple, peeled and cores removed, chopped roughly

1.  in a Vitamix OR high speed/power blender, put pineapple and strawberries in.  blend until fairly liquidy, then add kale.
2.  slowly turn up the speed and blend until kale is not in chunks.  on a Vitamix, ultimately, speed 5 for about 1-2 minutes.  the smoothie should be brown.

drink and enjoy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Gluten Free Ginger-Banana Bread!

Oh man.  It has been a couple of crazy busy weeks, and it doesn't look like it's going to stop.  Between having dinner dates with friends for last minute catch up before I move, to going on spontaneous adventures with friends, the weekends have been jam packed.  When I woke up this morning, I had slept 4 hours for the last couple of days, and my body was definitely exhausted.  On days like this, what does my body want more than anything? (other than more sleep) SUGAR!!!!!  But~ being the person that I am, I'm not just going to go guzzling down a ton of sugar.  Exhaustion doesn't want to throw even the simplest ingredients together for pancakes, and jam on toast won't cut it.  So what do I do?  I pulled out the Ginger-Banana bread with Walnut and Chocolate Chips (optional) that I had made last weekend on a whim to use up bananas and had frozen.
Did it do the job?  OH YEAH BABY!!!!  Nutty, chocolatey, and completely gluten free (and whole wheat to boot) it was just what the doctor (and when I say doctor, I mean my body) ordered.

I adapted this recipe from a couple different recipes, and in cutting fat and sugar contents have made it my own.  I find that it's not too sweet and is perfect for that high tea accompaniment.

Gluten Free Ginger-Banana Bread (with nut and chocolate options)

1/4c buckwheat flour
3/4c sorghum flour
1/2c teff flour
1/2+1/8c potato starch
1/4+1/8c tapioca flour
 1tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c coconut palm sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder (mixed into the banana mash)
3 Tbsp  olive oil 
1/4c earth balance, melted
1/4c MINUS 2 Tbsp of molasses, at room temp
1/4+1/8c warm water
2 c ripe bananas, mashed (can use frozen;  just defrost and let runny juices drain)
1tsp vanilla extract

Extra Options:
**more spice: 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp cardamom (choose 1 or try all! experiment!)
**add ins:  
2 c rough chopped walnuts 
1-1 1/2 c vegan chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.  
2.  Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. (I like the mix the walnuts and chocolate chips at this point, into the dry batter because I heard the flour mix coating the chips and nuts prevents them all from sinking to the bottom of the pan)
3.  Mix together wet ingredients.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, making sure to incorporate mixture with slower, large strokes just until there are no more dry pockets of flour.  Pour into loaf pan, and put into the oven for 55 min.-1 hour, until a toothpick or chopstick inserted into the center comes out clean (melted chocolate doesn't count). 
4.  Turn out of the pan, let it cool.  Serve immediately if eating fresh, or cool completely before freezing it in an airtight plastic bag or container.  


Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Recipe Slam! Part 2

Okay, so I promised to upload 3 recipes total, but I just couldn't help myself and I'm uploading 4.  I know, wut wut! Hope you enjoy. :)

Veganized Okinawan Taco Rice
(taco "meat" inspired by PPK's Ancho Lentil Tacos)

4-6 servings of rice (prepare according to package instructions OR purchase from local restaurant)
9-15 leaves of iceberg lettuce, shredded
4 tomatoes, small diced OR 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 avocados, sliced or diced*
*avocado can be replaced with vegan cheese or favorite vegan cheese sauce)

Taco Meat Ingredients:
1 1/2 c dry green lentils, cooked in water for 25-30 min OR 3 1/4 c canned, cooked lentils, drained
1 large onion, small diced
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp dried oregano
3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
1/3 c tomato paste
1/4+ c water
3 Tbsp hot sauce

1.  cook lentils, and prep onions and garlic.  mix spices from oregano to salt together and set aside.
2.  In a large skillet, cook onions and garlic in some oil for 3 min.  Pour in spice mix and sautee for 30 seconds.
3.  Pour in lentils and the remaining ingredients, mixing well to incorporate.  Taste to adjust levels of soy sauce, spices, water and heat for preferred levels of flavor and thickness. Cook for another 5 minutes and turn off heat.
4.  Assemble plate:
on a plate, spread out a serving of rice like a rice pizza layer.  Next comes the taco "meat", then lettuce, tomato and avocado (or vegan cheese/sauce).
5.  To eat, normally the Japanese mix it up, like a taco salad, and consume, but it's up to you.  Just make sure you get all the layers in your mouth at once.  Yeah baby!

Buffalo Chickpea Salad
(inspired by PPK's Ranch Salad with Buffalo Tempeh)

3 cans of chickpeas, drained
1-5 oz. bottle of Frank's Hot Sauce
1/2 c vegan mayo (I used Follow Your Heart's Veganaise Gourmet Garlic flavor)
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 Tbsp oregano
1 green onion OR small bunch of chives, thinly sliced

1.  roughly mash chickpeas (you can always pulse coursely in a food processor).
2.  throw remaining ingredients in with the chickpeas.

To serve, I placed my Buffalo Chickpeas onto a bed of lemon juice massaged kale, but you can eat it any way you like.  In a sammy, over rice, on pizza (woah now, gettin' crazay!).  Get creative, and enjoy!