Sunday, July 8, 2012

GF Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

The other day, I went and got 44lbs of strawberries from a local farm!  I'd like to say I picked them all, but that wasn't the was my intention, but their crop just wasn't as bountiful as I had hoped (I went way too late in the season), so I decided that my time was more precious than saving a few bucks, and bought the ones that were already to go!  My day was spent with making freezer jam, as well as freezing whole berries, so we can have some for the winter.  When it was all said and done, I had one more batch that needed to be prepped to freeze, and I just didn't want to do it any more...I also didn't want to make a pie crust to accommodate a fresh pie...however, I did want something "pie-ish"!  That is the back-story for the birth of this recipe...someone who was too lazy to pick berries, too lazy to finish prepping berries to freeze, and too lazy to make pie crust!  Let's just say that after trying this, maybe it does pay to have a lazy day ever so often!

My original recipe was not Gluten Free, but I made this one without gluten because of two of Tommy's co-workers, who cannot have it.

(This recipe will make 2 9" pies!)

The filling:

6 c. sliced strawberries (sliced thickly)
4 c. sliced rhubarb
1 c. pure maple syrup (oh yeah, one of his coworkers can't have white sugar either)
1/2 c. coconut palm sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1 c. tapioca starch/tapioca flour

Toss all of these ingredients together until everything is well incorporated.  Divide among 2 9" pie plates (preferably deep ones, to prevent bubbling over while baking)

Preheat oven to 350

The crumble:

1 1/2 c. coconut palm sugar
3 c. coconut flour (if you don't care if this is GF, you can use regular flour)
1 t. sea salt
2 c. GF oats (Bob's Red Mill)
2 c. Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or coconut oil)

Mix with the back of a fork until everything is incorporated and looks crumbly.  Divide over the 2 pies.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling through the crumble around the edges, and the crumb topping is browned.

Don't cut into it right away (although you will want to)...everything will be a big, runny, sloppy mess!  Have patience, let it cool until warm, and it should set up much better!

Serve with SO Delicious Coconut Icecream, or some whipped coconut cream!  You're going to love how easy (no pie crust!!!) and how delicious this is!  Not to mention, there's no processed sugar and no gluten!!  And the best part one will even know the difference!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Refreshing Strawberry Pie

This pie is nothing short of amazing!  My mom found the recipe for this from the Engine 2 cookbook...and of course, as soon as I started making it (the first time), we were brainstorming how we could make it even better!  You see...that's what we do...we can't just take a recipe and follow it...we feel this huge desire to make it better!  So this time around...that's what I did!  I made a few "improvements" (in my opinion), and the end result is a refreshing dessert, that tastes incredible, and is healthy enough to eat for breakfast! (and you better believe my kids will be eating this for breakfast tomorrow morning!)

Preheat the oven to 350

The Crust: (oh yeah...there's no traditional pie crust involved, which is amazing!)

1 c. almonds
1 c. cashews
1 c. coconut flour
1/4 t. salt

Grind into a powder.  I used the grain grinder on my Vitamix, but a food processor would work too.


1 c. (packed) pitted dates
1 T. pure vanilla

Grind until the dates are incorporated into the nut mixture, and you have a sticky, wet crumb consistency.

Press into the bottom and sides of a 9" pie plate and bake for 10 mins

While the crust is baking, blend together:

1 1/2 lbs of strawberries (fresh)
1/4 c. maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice)
1/4 t. vanilla

Set aside and slice:

3 bananas
1 lb strawberries

When the crust comes out of the oven, layer the bananas along the bottom.  Then layer the strawberries over the bananas.  Pour the blended strawberries over the layers, and the sprinkle a 1 1/2 c. of blueberries over top.

Chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours.  Serve alone, or with some Coconut Ice cream!

The Pie doesn't hold together when cut, which is a bummer for presentation, but once you taste it, you won't care!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dark Chocolate Pudding Cups

OMG...I'm freaking out a little bit over this one!  It's so easy, the "pudding" is raw and healthy (with a hidden vegetable!), and the taste is way better than it even looks...and let's face looks pretty dang impressive!  Do you love rich, chocolatey desserts?  Do you like easy, no fuss preparation?  Do you like eating desserts that you don't have to feel guilty about?  Well what are you waiting for?  Let's get started!

The crust:

15 Newman's Own Dairy Free Wheat Free Cookies*
1 T soft coconut oil

*This is enough to make 4 cups...if you want to make more, just remember, that every 15 cookies makes 4 cups!

Process the cookies in your food processor until it had the texture of sand


Coconut oil and mix with a spoon until well incorporated.  You should be able to pinch the mix between your fingers and have it stay together.

Take 1/4 c of the crust mixture and pour it into a greased muffin tin (I actually used the extra large ones...there are 6 rather than 12 per tin.)

*If you don't have the large ones, you can use the smaller ones, you'll just have to use less mix...probably about 1/8 c.

Press the mixture into the tin, forming a cup.  (I just pressed the measuring cup into the center, and it was the perfect size)

Stick in the freezer to set up.

The Pudding:

3 avocados
1 T. coconut oil
1 c Hersey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder (regular would also work, or even cacao powder)
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. pure maple syrup*
pinch of sea salt

Put all of this in your food processor and process until you have a creamy, rich pudding.  (I's really that simple!)

*Using 1/2 c. of maple syrup gives you a "dark chocolate" feel, in that it's not super sweet.  If it's not sweet enough for you, add a bit more...just remember that to crust is awfully sweet and you'll need a balance for that!

*You will have WAY more pudding that you actually need for this dessert (this recipe only makes 4), however, I like to have this on hand to cure my chocolate cravings, or to have for the kids to give as a special treat.  Chop up strawberries and throw in some chia seeds, and you'll have a nutritious alternative to a regular pudding cup! (and way better tasting!)

Remove your "cups" from the freezer, and gently run a sharp knife along the cup to release it from the pan.  They should pop right out.

Fill with the pudding, and top with strawberries, raspberries, caramel and nuts, toasted shredded coconut, or coconut whipped cream!  The possibilities are endless...the results will be incredible...your guests will be speechless!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chick'n Nugget Mac 'N Cheez

Since I am raising my kids to eat vegan, I sometimes get to feeling guilty.  Not because I know that I am giving them the absolute healthiest lifestyle that I feel I can, but because there are a lot of times that they are singled out for being "different" with their food choices.  Now, as adults, we know that being different and going against the grain, often means you're doing the right thing...but for children, it can be a little difficult.  All of that to say, I like to create recipes that look and taste similar to what "normal" kids eat, so that they don't get questioned all the time about their food habits.  This recipe is inspired by the good old Velveeta Shells and Cheese meals that I loved to eat as a child...and boy is it similar!  You'll be surprise at how easy this is, and how quickly your kids will gobble it up!!

Odd things you'll need from the store:

Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Tenders
Raw Cashews
Daiya Cheddar Shreds

The latter of the 3 will more than likely have to be found at a health food store...maybe even all 3, but my grocery store carries the tenders.

Start 2 cups of noodles boiling.  I used the Tinkyada Brown Rice noodles...they work great, and they're fun shapes for the kiddos!

Make the cashew cream.  (Don't freak's really easy!)

1/2 c. raw cashews
1/2 c. water

Throw into a mixer and blend until smooth!

*I used my Vitamix, which does tend to smooth things out a little more than a regular blender...not to be disheartened...just soak your cashews for a few hours, and you'll be fine.  (and don't pretend that you were just going to whip this up last minute and soaking is the deal-breaker...chances are you had to make a special trip to the store for these ingredients, so you actually had to plan ahead for this one...just plan to soak too!)

Once noodles are al dente (which is fancy pants speech for slightly chewy), strain and rinse.  In the pot (don't add the noodles yet), add:

cashew cream
1/2 c. daiya cheddar shreds
1/2 t. sea salt
3 T. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
sprinkle of turmeric (this is just to add more of a yellow color...completely optional)

Stir frequently over low/med. heat until the shreds are melted.


1/2 c. frozen peas
4 Crispy tenders (which you will microwave before hand, and chop into small pieces)  You can add more if you want...just sayin'

Stir until everything is warm and incorporated!  That's it!

Here are some different ways to be creative with this. Try mixing in:

Fried vegan bacon chopped into little pieces
Steamed broccoli
Steamed cauliflower
Chopped Spinach
Chopped steamed carrots
Hemp Seed
Dried Oregano
Dried Basil
Grape tomatoes

So many possibilities!  Hope you enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chinese Dumplings

I'm so excited about this recipe!  What a fun way to show your family and friends what an amazing host/hostess you are!  Sometimes (okay all the time!) I like to get creative in the kitchen...and I'm not sure how this happened, but I stumbled across a recipe for Chinese Dumplings, and it intrigued me.  After reading through it, it seemed simple enough...not to mention, tasty, so I filed it in my "recipes to make" folder, and here we are!  I cannot stress enough how easy this easy, in fact, that your kids could help you "stuff" the dumplings...IF you were the patient type! (I never am when I'm trying new recipes!)  I had my skeptical kids try them once they were done, and got rave reviews!  My 1 yr. old, double fisted them, and kept exclaiming "yummy"!  These are a winner, make no mistake about that!

In a large saute pan over med/high heat add: (if you feel like things are moving along too quickly, bump the heat down to medium)

3 1/2 T. vegan butter

Once the butter starts bubbling, add:

1 T. grated ginger

Saute for 1 minute (at this point, my 2 yr. old wandered into the kitchen wondering what that "delicious smell" was!)

Add 1 cup chopped mushrooms...preferably shiitake.

Cook for 5 minutes, occasionally stirring

Stir in:

2 T. tamari (or 3 T. soy sauce)
1 T. Chinese 5 spice powder
6 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)

Cook for 3 minutes and then add:

2 T. hoisin (located in the Asian section of most grocery stores)
2 1/2 c. shredded cabbage
1/2 c. chopped matchstick carrots

Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cabbage just starts to wilt

Grab a package of vegan wonton wrappers.  Make a circle with your thumb and pointer finger.  Take one wrapper and push down into the circle, forming a pocket.  Fill the pocket, but be careful not to over-fill (you'll feel like you're hardly putting anything in it), and then secure the top by pinching it.  You'll end up with these cute little "purse-like" dumplings!

There are several ways you can steam these:

1. In a steamer (which is what I used)
2. Place dumplings in a metal colander, set over a saute pan filled 1/4 of the way with boiling water
3. Use a bamboo steamer, lined with wax paper

All methods take 15 minutes

To dip, (because we all know that one of the best features of Asian food is the dipping factor!), just place some hoisin sauce in a bowl, or drizzle the plate with it...nice and fancy like! (Pictured above)

There you have it! You can get about 35-40 dumplings out of this!  I went ahead a doubled it, and froze half for later!  If you're making the mess, and you have the ingredients, you might as well!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cashew Cheese

I still remember my first encounter with cashew cheese like it was was a brisk February day, and my mom, sisters, and I were going to one of our favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities, called Ecopolitan, and we ordered a Cashew Cheese Log...let's just say it rocked my world!  I couldn't stop thinking about it.  Even when I got back home to Grand Rapids, I knew I couldn't rest until I knew how to make it.  I called the cook at Ecopolitan who politely told me they can't give out exact recipes, but he did offer some guidance, for which I was very appreciative.  That day I began the process, and much to my surprise, it turned out amazing!  Everyone who eats it falls in love.  The taste is creamy and tangy, with a little bit of saltyness!  It's firm enough to shape into a cheese log, but loose enough to dip raw veggies into!  I use it as a spread on veggie sandwiches, to dip crackers in, or to top off vegan nachos with instead of sour's versatile, and incredible!  Did I happen to mention how easy it is to do?  Check this'll be shocked!

2 c. raw cashews (yes, they have to be raw).
Soak these in enough water to cover them by an inch.  They'll need to be soaked for a few hours...the longer you soak them, the softer they'll be.

Drain and rinse your cashews once they've soaked.  Throw them into a blender, along with:

1 c. water
3/4 t. sea salt
1/2 capsule of a good probiotic (if you don't feel like measuring out the probiotic, I've actually made this with a full capsule, but it's cheaper if you can stretch the probiotic out!)

Blend until everything is completely smooth.  When using my Vitamix, this literally took 30 seconds!  But I have done this in a regular old, cheapy blender too, and it still turns out just fine.  You may have to add a tiny bit more water to keep things moving, and you may have to stop the blender a few times and scrape the sides...either way, it should only take a few minutes.

Once blended, grab an old (clean) t-shirt, cheese cloth (doubled up), cloth napkin, nut milk bag...basically anything that won't "shed" into your cheese, but will let some moisture leak out...and dump the mixture into it.  Rubberband the top, or seal it somehow, place in a colander over a bowl, and let set in a warm room for about 24 hrs.

The time you have to allow it to set will depend on how warm your room is.  When I was in Florida, this took less than a day, but when I made it in the dead of winter in Michigan, it took 2 days.  Taste it off and on to see if it's done.  It should have a cheesy "tang" to it...the longer you let it set (within reason), the "tangier" it will get.

Remove from the cloth, scraping every last bit into a container, and put in your refrigerator.  It firms up quite a bit once it gets cold.  Done!  How easy is that?  You can eat it just like this, OR let me tell you what Ecoplitan did, that was to DIE for:

Take plastic wrap and cover with sundried olives, chopped basil, sundried tomatoes, and pine nuts.  Take cold cashew cheese and form a log at one end of the plastic wrap.  Gently roll the log, keeping it in the plastic wrap, until it is covered in the toppings.  It should end up wrapped like a Tootsie Roll in the plastic wrap.

Chill for a few hrs.  Unroll onto a plate, drizzle with a balsamic reduction, sprinkle with micro greens, and raspberries.

Serve with good, thick crackers, and a knife for spreading!  (are you drooling yet, because I sure am!!)

One day, if I can make it and not eat it before taking a picture, I will photograph the log, and blog it...wonder if it's even possible to wait that long?!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Coconut Milk

I just made the BEST batch of coconut milk ever!  I've been making coconut milk for about 6 months now, and I have to say...I just love it! (and so do my girls!)  You would not believe how amazingly easy it is to do this, it's seriously as simply as soaking raw, shredded coconut, blending and straining it!  I've used this to make yogurt, serve over cereal, and in baking recipes where it calls for's versatile, healthy, and probably the best milk you'll ever drink (no joke)!  Of course it's delicious all on its own, but to make it taste the best it possibly can, I add a few extra ingredients.  Let's get started and you'll see how easy this is!

In a large bowl, soak 8 oz (or 1 bag) of Let's Do Organic Unsweetened Coconut in 4- 6 c. of hot water.

*I say "4-6" because it all depends on how far you want to stretch your buck when you're making this.  4 c. of water will give you a slightly thicker milk than 6 c., but honestly, if you're comparing flavor...I didn't notice a huge difference from the 4 to the 6 cups.  Obviously you get more milk with the 6 cups...that just goes without saying :)

You only have to soak the coconut for 1-2 hrs, but I soaked mine for probably 12 hrs this time (once the 2 hrs was up, I got really unmotivated and didn't feel like making I just let it keep on soaking!)  Who knows, maybe that's why it tastes so incredible this time around!

Anyways, once your coconut is soaked, put it all into a blender (water and all), and blend on high.  Since I use a Vitamix, this only took about 2 minutes, however, I have done this in a regular, cheapy blender too, and you just have to do it for a little longer.  I believe that if you let it go longer, you break down the coconut more, thus getting more flavor.  Give it a few extra minutes (or until you get sick of hearing the blender going!)

Once it's done blending, pour into a cheese cloth (doubled up), or a clean t-shirt, or a nut milk bag, and squeeze the living day lights out of it.  You want to get every drop of milk out of that pulp that you can.  This is a great way to work out some aggression (not that I would EVER feel stressed or frustrated over anything!)  Naturally, you will squeeze this over a bowl or container of some sort!

Now, you can drink this straight up, OR you can fancy it up a bit (which I like to do...makes it taste like dessert!)  Pour back into your blender, and add:

1/2-1 t. of sea salt (really brings out the flavor)
1/2 T. of pure vanilla extract
3 T. of coconut palm sugar (low glycemic and amazing in flavor...can also use maple syrup, raw honey, or agave)

Blend until the sugar has dissolved...NOW taste it...yeah...amazing, right?  What kid wouldn't want to drink that?!

DO NOT throw away the coconut pulp...are you crazy?!  Spread it out onto a jelly roll pan (or any kind of pan with sides) and bake at 200, stirring once in a while, until it's all dried out.  Throw it into a food processor or the Vitamix dry blade, and make your own coconut flour! This stuff is like should google how expensive it is to buy it!'ve just made your own milk, and your own do you feel?  Pretty darn cool!? Well you should! 

Here's a little tip, if you want to be as cost efficient as your coconut from amazon by the case.  I do the subscribe and save, and end up getting it for around $2 a bag (which is way cheaper than the store's $4+ a bag!)

Here's another tip...don't put the soaked coconut in the fridge, when it gets cold, it's way harder to squeeze out all the milk.  I feel like the fat solidifies, and gets caught in the cloth, and let's face it...the best part about the coconut is the fat!

Also, this will separate as it sets, no biggie, just shake it before serving and you're good to go.