Monthly Archives: July 2014

Chocolate Frosted Vanilla Cupcakes

Happy Birthday Cupcakes Muffins 003If you’re trying to follow a whole food, plant-based diet, eating desserts with fat and refined sugar and flour is not the best choice. However, I make exceptions for special occasions like birthdays. The problem is that both my Mom and I celebrate birthdays in July, so it’s been somewhat of a cupcake fest the past few weeks. There’s nothing going on in August,so I’ll repent next month. (As a side note, these cupcakes are not overly sweet. I found that my taste buds have adjusted to healthier foods and I don’t feel like I’m addicted to sugar anymore.)

There are a lot of over-the-top cupcake variations out there, but I wanted to keep it simple by making vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Many vegan cupcake recipes are high in fat, so I developed a recipe that is slimmed down. Tasty low-fat vegan frosting recipes, on the other hand, are harder to come by. I tried to eliminate as much fat from the cake part of the recipe to offset the higher fat content of the frosting. You can add grated orange peel or your favorite liqueur for an extra special touch. A tip for frosting cupcakes — use a large star tip in a pastry bag and simply pipe on as much or as little frosting as you like. This frosting is very stable and will retain it’s shape even at room temperature. YUM! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

 Vanilla Cupcakes

1 cup soy milk (coconut or almond milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

½ cup applesauce
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or a mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Whisk together milk and vinegar; set aside a few minutes until curdled. Mix in applesauce, sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk or sift together dry ingredients, then blend into liquid ingredients.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way and bake at 350F for 28 to 30 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting

1 cup coconut cream
12 oz. non-dairy chocolate (either chips or chopped)

In small saucepan, melt coconut cream and chocolate over low heat whisking occasionally. Pour into mixing bowl and place in refrigerator for several hours. When thoroughly chilled, beat until light and fluffy using electric mixer. Thin out with non-dairy milk to achieve desired consistency.

 

28 Jul 2014

Happy Birthday Corn Muffins

Corn MuffinsMom is visiting us for her birthday weekend. I’m happy to say that she’s still following a vegan diet. Hooray for Mom! Anyway, she has been begging me to make corn muffins and I’ve been resisting for good reason. Did you ever buy corn muffins that are made in a commercial bakery? I used to buy them from a lunch truck and boy were they greasy! Sure, there are vegan corn muffin recipes out there, but I haven’t found one that I like. The problem with corn muffins, even the traditional ones made with milk, butter and eggs, is that they are so dry. But, since it’s Mom’s birthday and that’s all she’s asking for, I decided to give it a go. I used my vanilla cupcake recipe (check out my next post), swapped out the applesauce for some Earth Balance and cut back on the sugar. The result? Pretty good for my first attempt. The muffins were moist and tasty without the greasy guilt. The only thing I’d do differently next time would be to double the recipe. Happy Birthday Mom! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Corn Muffins

1 cup soy milk (coconut or almond milk)
¼ cup Earth Balance
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Whisk together milk and Earth balance. Whisk or sift together dry ingredients, then blend in liquid ingredients.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way and bake at 350F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to cooling rack, let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy while still warm.
Makes 9 muffins.

28 Jul 2014

Recovery Pudding

Recovery PuddingI’m in a cheese-making mode this weekend and soaked more almonds than I needed for one of the recipes. Since Bruce was working out in the basement, I remembered Brendan Brazier’s Recovery Pudding from his book, Thrive. If you don’t know who he is, Brendan is a world-class tri-athlete who follows a whole food, plant-based diet. The pudding is loaded with almonds (lowers cholesterol), bananas (potassium), blueberries (anti-oxidants), hemp powder (protein), flax meal (fiber and Omega-3) and carob. (I just read on Web MD that carob can help with vomiting during pregnancy and other digestive problems.) Soaking nuts makes them easier to digest and helps you absorb their nutrients. You can find his recipe here. It’s healthy, satisfying and tasty. So why wait to work out? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

20 Jul 2014

Mint Chocolate Chia Pudding

Mint Chocolate Chia PuddingBruce and I are winding down my birthday week today. We’re celebrating with a Mint Chocolate Chia Pudding. The action in the background is a chocolate martini made with Marie Brizard Creme de Cacao. Yum! Well,  let’s get back to the pudding . . . I developed this recipe out of my love of chocolate chip mint ice cream, the fact that I have some very persistent mint growing among some day lilies in our yard and my new-found fondness with the health benefits of chia. I made an almond milk, mint and vanilla bean infusion, sprinkled in a small amount of sugar, jelled it with ground chia seeds and folded in some dark chocolate. The result? A luscious ending to my birthday week!  Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mint Chocolate Chia Pudding

2 cups non-dairy milk
6 large mint leaves (or more to taste)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

½ cup chia seeds, ground in coffee mill
2 tablespoons sugar

2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

Measure milk into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Heat in microwave until small bubble forms. Add mint and vanilla bean and infuse for several hours.

Add infused milk, chia seeds and sugar into blender container and process until smooth and creamy. Pour into glass bowl and fold in chocolate. Refrigerate several hours. Thin out with additional milk if desired.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

19 Jul 2014

Humane Society’s Mushroom Sloppy Joes

Grilled Veggie Gazpacho, Sloppy Joes, Mint Choc Chia 006We are very fortunate to live close to the mushroom capital of America, Kennett Square, PA. We have access to an abundance of mushrooms — portobello, cremini, oyster, shitake, maitake, king oyster and your run-of-mill-but-ever-so-tasty white button mushrooms. Our favorite place to buy mushrooms is Sher-Rockee’s Mushroom Outlet in Lincoln University. Their prices are reasonable and the quality is outstanding. We picked up some portobellos and white button mushrooms today. I grilled the portobellos to make mushroom, roasted red pepper and cashew cream cheese sandwiches during the week. Bruce made the Humane Society’s Mushroom Sloppy Joes with the button mushrooms for dinner tonight. The recipe calls for portobello mushrooms, but you can substitute white button mushrooms or cremini mushrooms with the same delicious results. Keeping with my “One Mess, Many Meals” practice, feel free to double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for future enjoyment. If you can get your hands on some whole-wheat slider buns, this is a great take-along for summer barbeques. One word of caution — these Sloppy Joes are HOT, HOT, HOT, so you might want to throttle back on the green chilies or chili powder. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mushroom Sloppy Joes from the Humane Society
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
1 jalepeno, seeded & diced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2/3 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
½ tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 toasted burger rolls
1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened (about 4 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).

2. Stir in the mushrooms, chiles, and soy sauce and cook until lightly browned (2 to 3 minutes).

3. Stir in the ketchup, mustard, chili powder, liquid smoke, salt, and pepper. Mix well, adding a little water if the mixture is too dry. Simmer to blend flavors (about 5 minutes).

4. When ready to serve, spoon the mixture onto the rolls and serve hot.

19 Jul 2014

Plant-Based on a Budget

Things have been a little slow on Vegi-curious lately. Bruce and I enjoyed a week in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario last month. Of course, I would find the No. 1 Food Market in the World. Since our return, I’ve been busy helping Mom with some home improvement projects and getting things done around here. (Translation: not much time for recipe development and photo shoots.) However, Vegi-curious is not just about sharing recipes; it’s also about sharing information. I thought this was an interesting experiment on how to follow a plant-based diet on $1.50 a day. I worked with a graduate student named Adejuwon who just left to start working with inner city children as part of an AmeriCorps program called City Year. She was concerned about how she was going to meet her expenses. I told her that a plant-based diet is less expensive than one that includes meat and dairy. I hope she’s tuned in today. The Forks Over Knives website has a lot of good information. You can even watch the documentary online, so I hope you make the time to watch it. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

18 Jul 2014

Chia Mocha Java Pudding

Chia Mocha Java Pudding

Chia Mocha Java Pudding

Before today, I had a love-hate affair with chia puddings. Chia seeds look like poppy seeds and act like a thickening agent when added to liquids. I love the thickening action but hate the poppy-seed crunch, especially in desserts that are meant to be creamy. When I researched the health benefits of chia seeds I found seven reasons to love chia seeds. (I found this information on Nuts.com. Their prices look pretty good, so check them out.)

  1. Help weight loss. Chia seeds are popular for weight loss. They reduce food cravings by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system. This blockage of calorie absorption makes them a great diet helper.
  2. Feel fuller faster: They can also help your diet by making you feel full. This is because they absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel.
  3. Hydration for athletes: They are also great for athletes because the “chia gel” can hydrate the body.
  4. Reduce your blood pressure: There’s evidence to suggest they can reduce blood pressure.
  5. Omega-3: They are the richest plant source of Omega-3 (the vital fats that protect against inflammation—such as arthritis—and heart disease). In fact, they contain more Omega-3 than salmon!
  6. Benefits for diabetes: Because chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, studies indicate they can control blood sugar. This leads scientists to believe chia seeds may have great benefits for diabetics.
  7. They are easier to digest than flax seeds, and don’t need to be ground up.

So I was determined to find a way to love chia puddings and reap the benefits of these little gems. I decided to start with a pretty standard formula for making chia pudding with almond milk, dates as a sweetener, and cocoa. My plan was to have this for breakfast, so I added instant espresso powder for a mocha java sensation.Since I have a large supply of vanilla beans in the pantry, I went the extra step and infused the milk with a vanilla bean. You can skip this step and simply use vanilla extract. The big change I made was to grind the seeds in a coffee mill before adding to the milk. Shazam!  The result was a super smooth, ultra creamy pudding worth falling in love with. It looked so good, we couldn’t wait for breakfast. Note to self: double the recipe next time! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Chia Mocha Java Pudding

1 cup almond milk
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise

¼ cup chia seeds, processed into powder
6 dates
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant espresso

To infuse almond milk: Pour almond milk into glass jar and warm in microwave until bubbles form on surface (about 2 minutes). Place vanilla bean in milk, cover and refrigerate overnight. (You can skip this step and simply add ½ tsp. vanilla extract to cold milk and proceed as follows.

Measure ¼ cup chia seeds into coffee grinder and process until finely ground. Place ground chia, milk, dates, cocoa powder and espresso powder in blender container. Blend until smooth. Pour into four ½-cup ramekins. Refrigerate until set. Sprinkle top with toasted nuts, granola, coconut or fresh berries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

08 Jul 2014

Brown Bag Envy and Black Bean Pasta

Gazpacho and Black Bean Pasta 008When Bruce and I were dating I starting packing lunch for him. Making lunch for someone is simply an expression of how much you care about them and their health. Let’s face it, even if you’re eating meat and dairy products, a meal prepared at home is way much healthier than anything you can get out at a restaurant or cafeteria. His co-workers would joke and say that the special treatment would stop once we got married. Well that was 1999 and he’s still the envy of his lunch buddies. Tonight I made Black Bean Pasta with a roasted tomato salsa. I’m not ready to publish a recipe for the salsa just yet, but I did want to tell you about the Black Bean Pasta. I sampled it at Costco a few weeks ago. It is quite tasty and super healthy. The ONLY ingredient is black beans. Doesn’t get any healthier than that. I don’t know how they make it, but it’s amazing. I roasted some fresh tomatoes, then quickly sauteed some chopped peppers and onions. You can use canned fire roasted tomatoes for a quick meal. No worries . . .  just pick up a box and use any sauce recipe you like. It’s that good! I make one-half pound and had enough left over for Bruce’s lunch. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

06 Jul 2014

Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas

Risotto with Mushrooms & Peas

Risotto with Mushrooms & Peas

Just got back from vacation in Niagara on the Lake in Canada and looking forward to getting back to my own kitchen routine. Anyone who has any type of special dietary needs knows that it can be a challenge to eat out and it’s even more so when you’re on vacation. We managed to find a great vegan restaurant called Rise Above Restaurant & Bakery in nearby St. Catharine. Not only do they have healthy vegan meals, they make awesome desserts. We had an amazing chocolate layer cake with raspberry frosting that was so good we went back a second time just for the cake! On our last night, we ate at Urban Play in the White Oaks Resort & Spa just off the QEW. The chef was happy to tweak our entrees to suit our needs and both were healthy and delicious. The waitress informed us that the chef is working on a new menu, half of which will be vegan. We can’t wait for our next visit to Niagara on the Lake.

The first thing I did when we got home was to visit my favorite farm stand and mushroom outlet. I picked up some snow white button mushrooms to make Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas. I’ve made recipes before that cook the mushrooms in the same pot with the risotto, but I opted to saute the mushrooms and peas separately and fold them in at the end of cooking to prevent it from getting that “dirty” mushroom taste. The end result was “clean”, creamy and delicious. Hope you enjoy and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas

1 lb. white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup peas

4 cups water
2 tsp. Better Than Bouillon No Chicken base
2 tsp. miso

½ cup diced onion
1 cup risotto
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon parsley

In a non-stick skillet, sauté mushrooms until browned. Add peas and cook until peas are heated through.

While mushrooms are cooking, prepare risotto. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer; dissolve bouillon and miso in water and keep hot. In large saucepan, sauté onion by adding water 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. Stir in risotto. Add wine and heat until evaporated. Reduce heat to simmer and add broth ½ cup at a time. When broth cooks down continue to add broth until risotto is tender. Add the mushrooms and peas with the last addition of broth. Stir in parsley.

Servings: 2 to 3

03 Jul 2014

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