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. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am not gluten intolerant...(that I know of)...let's just start out by saying that, but it seems like more and more people out there are these days!  I feel that gluten in general is probably a bad thing for most people, and for that reason, I try to keep it out of our diets whenever I can.  Baking GF is really tricky...I had no idea what gluten actually did for, pretty much everything!  I found a recipe for some GF cookies that I had tried once before, but they just didn't hold together, and were kind of crumbly...(great because when you just eat the crumbs of cookies, you have no idea how many you're really eating!)  But for the sake of self-control, and if we're being honest, wanting to tackle this successfully, I came up with a recipe that not only holds together, but tastes amazing too!  There are a few more steps than "normal" cookies, but it's been my experience that if you want things done healthy, it's typically not the easy route that gets you there!  Give these a try..they're amazing!  Oh, and one more thing, I got rid of most of the oil, so they're a lot lower in fat than your typical cookie!

Preheat oven to 375

In a bowl cream together:

1 medium to large banana (weird I know!  Replacing some of the oil with this!)
1/6 c. coconut oil (or vegan butter)
3/4 c. coconut palm sugar (very low glycemic)
1/2 c. Ideal Xylitol Sugar (if you can't find this, you can use more palm sugar.  I like to use it because it brings the sugar content really far down, and it's good for your teeth)

Once there are no chunks in the mixture, and the sugar has dissolved, add:

1/3 c. warm water
1 T. vanilla
2 t. ener-g egg replacer
1 t. xanthan gum
1/4 c. tapioca starch
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. coconut flour
1 c. amaranth flour (I made both of my flours, so that's what I had on hand, feel free to try using your favorite GF flours, but I can't guarantee you'll get the same results!)
1 c. chocolate chips (I like the Enjoy Life mini chips best! However, their chocolate chunks are awesome too!)

Mix until everything is incorporated, and let set for about 5 minutes before scooping.

Scoop onto greased baking sheet using a tablespoon, and slightly flatten.

Bake for 8-10 minutes (mine were done in 8)...let cool before you take them off the pan...they don't hold together until they've cooled for a little bit (about 10 mins).

Done...amazing...and they look appealing too!  These are a hearty, lower fat cooking, packed with grains and low glycemic sweeteners!  Can't go wrong!

Perfect Bread

Bread is my Achilles Heel...I love it...a little too much, if you know what I mean!  I wish bread was a superfood, because then all of my problems could be solved, but alas it is not, and I have to limit my consumption just like anyone else!  This bread reminds me of the bread my mom used to bake for us when we were kids!  Before we knew about healthy vs. non-healthy, the bread my mom made was white, soft, and just the best bread you ever had!  Slathered with butter and homemade jam, this was my favorite snack after school when we came home!  Then we got wise to the dangers of "white stuff", and the bread became a thing of the past!  Until recently...I happened upon a flour called Ultragrain, one day while shopping at Costco, and decided to give it a try.  It boasts of all the same properties of whole grain bread, no bleaching, no stripping, it's just ground much finer...I decided to give it a try!  This is the recipe for the best bread you'll ever holds together so you can make sandwiches with it, it's moist, heavy, light, and no one will even know that it's whole wheat! (My husband, who hates whole wheat bread's texture, loves this bread!)  Best of all...this isn't a fussy recipe, I've made it so many times that I don't even measure most of the ingredients any more!

In a large bowl, combine:

5 c. warm water
4 T. yeast
6 T. sweetener (agave, honey, molasses, palm sugar...)

Set aside for about 5 mins. and let the yeast get frothy

Once the yeast has activated, add:

2 T. sea salt
6 T. oil (I've used coconut oil and olive oil...both are great)

Stir to incorporate, then add:

10 c. Ultragrain flour (if you can't find this, that's ok...I've used King Arthurs white whole wheat flour before, and have gotten pretty good will be a heavier bread though.)
1/2 c. vital wheat gluten (this is usually in the baking aisle...don't skip this ingredient)

Stir until everything is incorporated, and turn out onto a heavily floured surface.

Knead for about 3-5 minutes, adding a little more flour if it starts to stick.  You'll know when you can stop kneading, because the texture of the dough changes from sticky to stretchy.  You should be able to feel it come together.

Grease your mixing bowl, and put the dough back into it.  Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, or a clean dish towel, and let raise until it has doubled in size.  (Depends how warm your kitchen is...may only take 45 could take up to 1 1/2 hrs.)

Turn back out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 4-5 equal sections (some bread pans are slightly bigger than others, so you can do 4 loaves with those, or 5 of the slightly smaller ones). 

Punch down each section into a rough rectangle shape, and tightly roll into a log, pinching the seam to seal.  With the palm of your hand, squeeze each end of the log to release the air bubbles, and fold up, pinching off the seams to seal.  When you flip your log over, you should have something that slightly resembles a loaf of bread.

Place each "log" into a greased bread pan, cover, and let raise for about 25-30 mins (or until they are as big as you want them.)

Bake at 350 for 25-30 mins (when you tap on them, they should sound hollow...that's how you know they're done)

Remove from oven, remove from pan, and place on a cooling rack.  Brush the tops with olive oil or vegan butter (optional).

If you can wait for them to cool before cutting them, that's best, but if you can't, just be gentle :)

This will make 4-5 loaves...I personally double this and make 8-9 at a time, then freeze them.  If you're going to make the mess, you might as well only have to do it once a month! (And trust me...this is so good, you'd be surprised at how quickly you go through this!)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hearty Black Bean Soup

So, it's March, and in Northern Michigan, that means it's still only about 20 degrees out!  I'm longing for some delicious "spring food", but alas, here I am, cooking food that should only be consumed in the depths of winter.  Good thing this tastes so amazing, that I have forgotten about my spring-time longings, and am completely content to be sitting here (next to my heater) eating this wonderfully tasty, warm and filling bowl of soup.  (And if we're being honest, I'd admit that I actually had two bowls!)  Did I mention how easy this was to make?  Well pay attention to's a one pot meal, no mess, no hassle, no worries!  Did I also mention that my lovely sister, Danielle came up with the recipe for this little beauty?  We all have her to thank for this wonderful if you see her walking down the street, or in the grocery store (which is much more likely), give her a big hug and tell her how much you love this!

In a large pot combine:

1 carton of Imagine Bistro Cuban Black Bean Bisque (4 c total)
1 carton of Imagine Bistro Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque (4 c total)
3 c. vegetable broth (go ahead and use 4 c if you got a quart container and don't want 1 lonely cup just chilling in your fridge)
3 c. black beans (I cook my own beans, so they're measured differently than canned ones.  If you're using canned, rinse 2 cans of black beans and throw them in!)
1 c plain coconut yogurt (or unsweetened almond milk OR vegan sour cream)...I only had the yogurt on hand, and thought the added probiotics would be nice.
1 1/2 c. chopped, frozen tri-colored bell peppers
2 c. chopped, frozen zucchini (you can use fresh for the veggies if you'd like, but I had prepared a bunch of peppers and zucchini from the farmers market this fall, for instances like this when I don't feel like chopping and washing!)
3 T. taco seasoning
6 T. nutritional yeast
1 t. sea salt
1 T. garlic powder
1 t. lemon juice

I cooked mine low enough so that it didn't boil, so as not to kill the probiotic.  It takes a little longer to cook, but I had time.  If you're not using the yogurt, or you just don't care about the live active cultures it contains, boil until the peppers and zucchini are ready to eat and have absorbed the flavors.  Done!  You can eat it just like this, OR here are some topping ideas:

chopped cilantro
chopped tomatoes
chopped avocado
chopped green onions
sprinkle of nutritional yeast
sprinkled with Daiya Cheddar Shreds (these are amazing!)
a dollop of vegan sour cream
a dollop of veganaise mayonnaise (highly recommended!)
crunched up tortilla chips
served in a bread bowl

With the same pot of soup, you could possibly have a different tasting bowl of this soup every time, just by changing up the toppings!

*Note:  For all of you out there who detest peppers (like my dear Brother) you can definitely get away with skipping the peppers and adding the same amount of chopped onions...AND if you don't like onions, then you can certainly just skip them all together!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Coconut Yogurt

While this might not be the most attractive picture I could have taken of this, the benefits of this beauty are enough to attract me to make it over and over again!  (Was that cheesy?  I'm thinking, yes!)  Moving on...I love coconut everything, and when you add the benefits of fermentation, simplicity, and saving money, this is a no-brainer!  This recipe starts with homemade coconut milk which I will list below (super duper easy), because I don't like all of the fillers and unhealthy things that are in canned food (plus it tastes better!)

Coconut Milk:

2 8 oz bags of shredded unsweetened coconut
8 c of hot water

Soak the coconut in the water for 1-2 hrs, then put everything into a blender. 

*When I make the milk strictly for yogurt, I don't add anything to it, however, if I'm making it for the kids to drink, I will add 6 T. agave or coconut palm sugar, 1 t. vanilla, and a pinch of Pink Himalayan Sea'll think you died and went to's like dessert in a glass!

Anyways, back to the milk.  Blend everything really well.  I have a Vitamix, so this only takes 1-2 minutes, but when I make it in a regular blender, it takes just a minute or two longer.

Strain the milk into a large pot.  I've used anything from a nut milk bag (preferred) to a tee shirt (clean of course!)  Squeeze every blessed drop of milk you can from the pulp.  Once the pulp is dry...DON'T throw it away...we'll talk about that later.

Put the pot onto the stove and heat gently until it just begins to boil, then remove.  This will kill any bacteria that may be in the milk that would ruin the fermentation process, or make you really sick! 

Mix in 2 T. Guar Gum with a whisk.  Things will get lumpy, don't worry...we'll take care of that later.

Now whisk in 6 T. coconut palm sugar or agave.

Cool down to room temp.

At this point, if this is the first time making it, you can add 1 capsule of a good probiotic (obviously opening it up and sprinkling it in, then mixing it...I use Garden of Life...they are incredible!)  But if you don't already have a probiotic in your home, you can also use 1/2 c. of unsweetened coconut (or soy if you want) yogurt, and mix thoroughly.  Now, if you have left over yogurt from a previous batch, (I always save 1/2 c of mine so I can just mix that in), then you can mix that in right here.

*Make sure that the milk cools down to room temp first, or it will kill the live bacteria that you need to ferment your yogurt.

Once everything is mixed together, place in a glass container (I use mason jars) and place in a towel-lined crock pot.  Set to warm and cover.

*Important note:  make sure that the containers you put them in are sterile, and that all your utensils you use are also sterile.

Now all you have to do is wait.  I recommend doing this over night, as the yogurt does not like to be disturbed while it's fermenting, and if you're anything like me...I'm "a checker"...I'd keep pulling it out and checking it to see if it's ready!  Leave it for a good 12 hrs.

Taste it sour?  I like mine pretty sour, so I'll generally leave it out for about 5 more hrs on the counter before the next step.

*Note:  it may look a little brownish tinted, and it may be separated...that's normal, don't worry.  If it has somehow grown mold or is a purpleish tint...don't eat it!

Last step!  Throw it all back into the blender and blend until the clumps of guar gum are gone!  Done!  Seems like a lot of steps and a lot of work, but it's really not, and it's really really satisfying to be able to make something that's amazingly healthy for your family, and a lot cheaper!  You'll get about 4 pts of yogurt! (Which is perfect for us, because we eat it just about every day!)

**Note:  I buy my coconut by the case off of Amazon, and I also get the guar gum from Amazon in bulk...this is why it's so cheap to make for me.  I would recommend doing a trial run and just buying the ingredients from your health food first.  Then if you think you'll do this on a regular basis, look into cheaper ways of doing it.

**Now for the coconut pulp that has been left over, turn it into coconut flour!  Spread it out on a sheet pan and put it in the oven at 200 until it's completely dried'll have to occasionally stir it up.  This will take a few hours.  When it's done, throw it in a food processor for about 5 minutes...done!  I've made some pretty delicious cookies with this flour!!  And the best thing is, nothing is wasted!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mango Pineapple (Avocado) Frozen Yogurt

I am pretty sure I have died and gone to heaven!  Smooth, sweet, creamy, healthy, many different desserts can you actually say that about?!  This little beauty is loaded with great digestive enzymes, probiotics, and healthy get your blenders ready, you're going to laugh at how simple this is!  Your kids will beg you for this every day (mine do) and I use it as a bribe to get them to eat extra veggies! (Suckers don't even know that their "dessert" is actually so healthy, I could give it to them as a main course!)  I won't tell your kids if you don't tell mine!!  Ok, here we go!

In a blender combine:

1 c. coconut yogurt (mine is homemade, so I know there are live, active bacteria in it...these are amazing for your digestive system/immune system!)  The SO Delicious brand is a super alternative!
1 c. chopped pineapple (pineapple is loaded with great digestive enzymes...bonus!)
1 c. pineapple juice
1/2 avocado (mine was really ripe...this is necessary for a super creamy'll seriously think you're eating ice cream!)
24 oz of frozen mango (I used 2 12 oz bags...the more you use, the more "frozen" it will if you don't have quite that much, you'll get a runnier texture)

Throw everything into the blender and mix until you have a velvety smooth texture. 

*Note:  I have a Vitamix, there is a "tamper" used to keep pushing all the stuff into the blades.  If you have a regular blender (I've done it in one of these too) just takes a little more stopping and mixing everything to get it going.  You'll think it will never be able to handle it, but all of a sudden it'll come together and be perfect!

*Here's another note:  I've also put spinach in this makes it a really fun green color, but doesn't affect the flavor!

Top with chia seeds and raw shredded coconut (as pictured), or with bananas, pineapple tidbits, and fresh berries!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Paleo Power Bar Brownies

Well it's been almost a full year since my last blog post...sorry about that...I guess having 3 children, and homeschooling makes you a little busy!  Now, a lot of you might be wondering what the deal is with the "Paleo" part of the title...did she give up veganism, and go completely the other way?!  Worry not, I didn't...however, there are a lot of things I see about this way of eating that can be beneficial, such as eliminating grains and just getting back to the basics with eating.  My dearest cousins are hardcore Paleo people, and after chatting with them, we've found that although our diets are about as opposite as you can get...there are somethings that we can both enjoy!  This bar was designed as an energy bar, because I needed a boost before working out, however, after tasting them, I decided that they could also double as a delicious dessert with a little warming up (and teensy drizzle of caramel!)  No baking required, and loaded with protein, you can definitely forgive yourself for grabbing that second one! (or third)

You'll definitely need a large food processor!

Throw all these ingredients in the food processor:

1 c. powdered hemp seeds
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. raw shredded coconut
1 c. raw walnuts
3 c. banana chips (unsweetened)

Pulse until all ingredients resemble a mealy flour.


1/2 c. chia seeds
1/4 t. sea salt
1/4 c. cocoa
2 T. coconut oil

Again, pulse to combine.

With food processor running, drizzle in roughly 10 T. agave (I didn't really measure...and I made these purposely not super sweet because I anticipated drizzling caramel over them later!)...If you want them a little on the sweeter side, feel free to add more after you taste the "batter".

Now drop in 10 pitted Medjool Dates, with processor still running.

Add 2 heaping T. of Almond Butter

You may have to scrape the sides a few times to keep things moving.  You're going to end up with a heavy, wet batter that will give your food processor a run for the money!

Taste you you like it?  I was going for "like" and not "love" because I want to eat them within know, like one small portion a day, not 1 8x8 pan per day!  But I'll leave the rest up to you...want them sweeter?  Add more agave or dates...want them more chocolatey...add more cocoa powder, or cacao powder (I wish I had some cacao in my pantry...would've been better in my opinion!

Once you have the flavor where you want it, press them into an 8x8 pan for really thick brownies, or a 9x13 for thin ones.

Crush up 1 more cup of banana chips (I used a rolling pin), and press those into the top of your brownies...this adds a really nice texture, and also makes them look appealing!  If I had to do it over, I'd probably sprinkle the top with a little sea salt too, just to make the flavor pop a tad more!

There you have it!  Nice, healthy bars designed to give you long lasting energy, a great protein boost, and a helping of your healthy fats.  If you feel the desire to turn these into dessert, here's the caramel recipe I's not my own recipe, but she makes some pretty incredible things!  Also, warming them up gives them more of a brownie feel...yum!!


3/4 Cup Butter/ Earth Balance/  or Coconut Oil. 
1 1/4 Cup ” Brown Sugar”  (note: this can be Sucanat or Palm Sugar)
1/4 Cup Liquid Sweetener (Agave, Coconut Nectar, Brown Rice Syrup)
6 oz (half a can) of heavy Coconut Milk (or MimicCream )
1/2 Tsp Salt.
 Combine all of the Caramel ingredients in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil. Using a candy thermometer keep track of the temperature. Remove the caramel from heat once it reaches 248 degrees.

*Caramel recipe taken from: