Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Dreamy Creamy Vegan Berry and Vanilla “Cheese”cake

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The most heavenly cake I’ve had in recent years has been the raw cashew dreamcake.  As dreamy and creamy as this “cheesecake” is, it doesn’t contain any cheese or dairy, nor does it have a graham cracker crust.

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It takes only a few simple ingredients to whip this up and voila, cashews turn into cream, and boy, what a dream! For my first raw cashew dreamcake, I used a mixed berry flavoring: blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.  With the addition of vanilla and lemon juice, this cake is sweet, tart, rich and delicious.  By soaking the cashews overnight and with the help of my heavy duty Vitamix blender, I was able to achieve smooth and creamy, silky perfection.  A bite of this is true divinity.

Now, I’m not going to pretend I wrote this amazing recipe.  My adaptations are the mixed berry flavoring and instead of using honey or agave, I used raw coconut nectar for it’s low glycemic index and because it contains much less fructose (about 20%) than agave (which can contain up to 90% fructose). Mind you, studies have been shown that high levels of fructose make lab rats fat. If you currently consume agave, I’m sorry to inform you that agave has more fructose than high fructose corn syrup (about 50% )! Can you believe it? This explains why I steer clear from agave!

So, if I didn’t come up with this brilliant cashew cheesecake recipe, who did?  My answer is, I have no idea.  I used the raw cashew dreamcake recipe from the lovely Sarah Britton at mynewroots.org to adapt my version, and she says she didn’t come up with it either.  The origins of this genius remains a mystery.

I can honestly say that after indulging in a slice of this vegan “cheese”cake, I felt no guilt.   Perhaps, this may be due to my active lifestyle or maybe it’s because this cheesecake is vegan and raw– it doesn’t contain any cholesterol and its powerful vitamins, minerals and enzymes still remain intact.

Instead of eating empty calories, we get a healthy handful of nuts, berries, and raw coconut nectar.  There is coconut oil in the recipe, which is high in fat.  However, coconut oil does not contain cholesterol.  The oil comes in the form of medium-chain triglcerides (or MCTs), which differ from types of fat consumed from both plant and animal sources, long-chain triglycerides (or LCTs).

“MCTs are easily digested, absorbed, and utilized in the body because their molecules are smaller       than those from LCTs. This means that unlike other fats, they require less energy and fewer enzymes to break them down for digestion. They are an excellent choice of fat for active people and athletes as MCTs digest immediately to produce energy and stimulate metabolism. They are also ideal for those who suffer from digestive disorders and are often given in hospitals to provide nourishment for critically ill people who have trouble digesting fat.” -Sarah Britton

That said, if we eat well throughout the day and exercise a few times a week, this is a perfect dinner dessert!  You can prepare this in a 6-inch round spring-from pan, or you can use a cupcake mold, lined with plastic wrap.

Finally, here’s the recipe! I hope you love it as much as we do!

 

 

Dreamy Creamy Vegan Berry and Vanilla “Cheese”cake

Serves 6-8

Time 1 day

V, GF, R, SF, DF

 

Ingredients

Crust:

1/2 C raw almonds (pecan or walnuts will also work)
1/2 C soft Medjool dates
¼ tsp sea salt

Filling:
1 ½ C raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours, overnight is best
2 lemons, juiced
seeds of 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 tsp  alcohol-free vanilla extract)
1/3 C raw coconut oil, melted
1/3 C raw coconut nectar (or maple syrup if you don’t have this)
1 C berries: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries (thaw completely if using frozen)

Directions
1. Place nuts and dates in a food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness.  You’ll want a finer crust than a chunky one. Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. If you don’t feel it’s holding together, try to mix the mixture with your hands until it comes together.  Scoop out crust mixture into a 6″ spring-form pan (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a 6 inch cake round, lined with plastic wrap) or line a cupcake tin with plastic wrap to make 6 tartlets, and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well-packed and that the base is relatively even throughout.

2. If coconut oil is solid, place oil in a small saucepan on low heat until it comes to a liquid state.

3. In the blender, place all filling ingredients (except berries) and blend on high until very smooth (this may take a couple minutes).

4. Pour about 2/3 (eyeball it, you can’t make a mistake!) of the mixture out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Add the berries to the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour onto the first layer of filling and smooth with a spatula. Place in the freezer until solid, about 3 hours.

5. To serve:

a)  the cake, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own, or the way I like it, with berries! Store leftovers in the freezer.

b) the tartlets, remove the tartlets from the freezer 30 minutes before serving and remove plastic. Place them on plate and serve when defrosted. Serve topped with fruit.

Enjoy!

dreamcake2VARIATION

Try my Vanilla Bean “Cheese”cake with Mixed Berry Compote.

 

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Quinoa Veggie Burgers

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In the early 90’s, my mom used to make the best burger patties.  She grounded her own beef, chopped up some garlic, added onion and carrots, spiced them up somehow, and pan fried them.  When it was time to eat, she called us over to the table and served the patties with rice and ketchup.  They were so good!

In the 90′s, my mom learned that turkey was better for our health.  So instead of using ground beef in the burger patties, my mom bought already grounded turkey.  It was still very good.

Fast forward to today.  After learning about the effects of animal protein in our bodies, the treatment of animals in factory farms, and the environmental impact of meat production, my husband and I no longer eat meat of any kind or consume any animal products or animal byproducts.  As a result, we look and feel better.  However, I have to admit, we still crave an occasional burger.  Thankfully, these veggie burgers satiate our cravings.

Peyman and I enjoy the flavor of these quinoa veggie burger patties very much. Serve along with my 2-minute oat/flax bread and enjoy with dijon mustard, onion, tomato, dill pickles, and lettuce.  You can also eat these in collard greens, in a wrap, on top of a green salad, or on top of pizza.  You can even make these into meatballs.

Give this recipe a try.  I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as we do!

 

Quinoa Veggie Burger Patties

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Makes about 10 – 12 patties

Ingredients

2 cups water

1 cup quinoa

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 onion, finely chopped

1/4 red pepper, finely chopped

3/4 poblano chile pepper, deseeded and destemmed, finely chopped (can sub with 4 jalapenos)

3 cups spinach, finely chopped

2 stalks of celery, finely minced

2 small carrots, peeled and minced

1.5 tsp celtic or Himalayan sea salt

1 Tbsp of cumin

1/4 tsp + cayenne pepper

1 cup oat flour

 

Directions

1. Cook, drain and cool quinoa in filtered water.  Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. In a large saute pan, add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and poblano pepper, celery, and carrot and cook until onions are translucent.  You do not need any oil to saute this mixture since the water from the onions and other veggies will seep out help cook the rest of the veggies.

3. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, spinach and quinoa. Stir well and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and add oat flour.  Stir well until everything starts to bind together and the mixture cools.  If it doesn’t bind together right away, add filtered water, a tablespoon at a time, at most 3-4 tablespoons.

4. Form the cooled mixture into patties with your hands, about 3 inches in diameter.

5. Heat a large pan (I recommend cooking on a non-stick pan) to a high temperature to prevent sticking and coat with 1 tablespoon of oil or non-stick cooking spray (I use coconut cooking spray).  Saute each patty on both sides until firm and browned and serve!

As I mentioned earlier, these are really good with the 2-minute oat/flax bread, with some dijon mustard, onions, pickles and tomatoes.

You can also eat these in collard greens as a wrap, on top of a green salad, or to top a pizza with.

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I hope you enjoy them! :)

 

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3-minute miracle bread

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Not sure about you, but I love Instagram.  Believe it or not, about 1.5 months ago, I finally realized why people use hash tags.  I can simply click on “#whatveganseat” and see what other vegans are eating!  It has been nothing but inspiring for me in planning our meals; I am truly grateful and now even more obsessed with food (and fitness).

On Instagram, Caitlin Cooper, aka, @caitlinslife, creator of www.transformyourfood.com grabbed my eye with her “3 minute microwave English muffin”.  Not having the exact ingredients, I tried her recipe, but it didn’t work; so I bought the ingredients to make this muffin while putting my little spin on it.  After vegan-izing and testing this recipe about 5-6 times, I came up with my own version of her English muffin, which I now just call bread.

You have free rein to do what you please with this bread.  Either enjoy it as an English muffin, 2 slices of bread, or a hamburger bun.  I want to warn you first, though, that this is Not a light recipe.  If all you had eaten for the day was a breakfast green smoothie, a salad for lunch, and some fruit, I think this would be a good source of good fat and protein.  Since it is high in protein and takes longer to digest (takes up a lot of your energy to digest), I recommend only eating this for dinner (unless you don’t mind feeling tired throughout your day).

Since I don’t like buying whole loaves of bread, this super simple 3 minute bread recipe is a great solution for when we need bread in a pinch, and for when we want to eat a veggie burger and only need 2 hamburger buns!

Here’s the recipe!

 

3-Minute Miracle Bread

Serving size: One bread=2 slices

Ingredients

1/2 C almond flour

2 tsp coconut flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

4 Tbsp flaxseed egg (recipe in my blog)

<1 Tbsp coconut oil (melted)/sunflower oil/grapeseed oil (just a smidge less than 1 Tbsp)

1 drop stevia

pinch of sea salt

 

Directions

In a small bowl, add dry ingredients.  In center of the bowl, create a well and add wet ingredients.  With a fork, incorporate the dry into the wet ingredients. Mix well.  Spray a large ramekin (or small bowl, or pyrex glass tupperware bowl) with coconut or non-stick cooking spray.  Spoon the batter into the bowl and flatten with wet fingers, pressing down on the batter to remove holes and to even it out.  Microwave for 2.5 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave. If it feels too gooey, microwave an additional 20 seconds.

The bowl will be hot, so use an oven mitt or kitchen towel to remove from the microwave.  Flip bowl over onto a plate or cutting board. Slice with a little serrated knife.

Either toast in a toaster, toaster oven, or on a pan or griddle with a little oil.

 

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Before being heated in the microwave

 

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After 2.5 minutes, on cutting board, before being sliced

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Viola! The final product, before being toasted.

Enjoy!

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Egg-cellent Substitute

eggreplacerA while back, I purchased and used Red Mill’s $10 egg replacer.  When I felt it wasn’t working for me in a recipe earlier this week, I looked at its ingredients and noticed that it contained wheat gluten! Eek!  How did I miss that? I don’t know..?!!

After researching gluten-free vegan egg substitutes online, I decided to make my own.  Thanks to Food.com, I made the flaxseed egg replacer which works really well for me.

However, this is not to be used to make scrambled eggs; it is only to be used as an egg substitute in baked goods.

How do you make it? It’s really simple, using a 1:3 ratio.

Ingredients

1.5 C flaxseed, ground

3 C water, filtered

 

Directions

In a small saucepot, combine the ground flaxseed and water.

Cook over medium heat while stirring until it gets thick and reaches an egg-like consistency. Once it reaches the desired consistency, immediately remove from heat. Once cooled, use in a recipe.  Cover and store remaining egg replacer in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

4 tablespoons replaces one egg.

Hope this works for you! Happy Baking!

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Gazpacho

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This recipe is my adaptation of a former bosses, Chef Julie Robles, at Tavern.  She created this when she worked at Lucques.  It’s a fool proof recipe that tastes so much more complex than it is to make.  I changed it up by making it oil-free, you can use whatever ripe tomatoes (not just ripe yellow tomatoes) you fancy for the base of the soup, I no longer use red wine vinegar to make it, and I don’t peel the cucumbers or strain the soup to retain the insoluble fiber content.  It’s a rustic cold soup, rich in the vital anti-oxidant lycopene, vitamins A and C.

What I love most about gazpacho is that it is raw and not cooked so this soup retains so much of its beneficial enzymes, making it easier to digest.  Another reason I love making gazpacho is that it is oh-so easy to make!  In the past, I made gazpacho for my clients using red wine vinegar but for this recipe I swapped it out with raw coconut vinegar because it is alkaline and has more health benefits.  I personally feel that coconut vinegar tastes much better than apple cider vinegar, plus coconut vinegar has more nutrients—17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH.   It is also an excellent source of a prebiotic,  Fructooligosaccharide (FOS), that promotes digestive health.

I hope you enjoy this refreshing and delicious, cold soup along with all of its benefits!

Enjoy and cheers to good health!

 

Gazpacho

Servings: 2 to 4

Time: 10 minutes

V, GF, DF, GFV, NF, SF, SRF, R

 

Ingredients

Garnish:

1 1/2 Tbsp of red bell pepper, chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp of red onion, diced

1 1/2 Tbsp cucumber, seeded and diced

9 small cherry tomatoes, cut in half

6 cilantro leaves

big pinch sea salt
a pinch freshly ground black pepper
Soup:

1 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 Persian cucumbers, coarsely chopped

1/4 jalapeno, seeded, and cut in half

2 sprigs of cilantro

1 clove of garlic, chopped

3 Tbsp vegetable stock or filtered water

1 Tbsp of coconut vinegar (can substitute with raw apple cider vinegar)

3/4 tsp sea salt

cayenne pepper, as needed

 

Directions

1. In a small bowl, toss together 3 Tbsp of diced cucumber, 3 Tbsp diced red bell pepper, and 1 1/2 Tbsp diced red onion.  Season with a couple pinches of salt and pepper.  Toss again.  Set aside

2.  Place all of the soup ingredients into a high-powered blender.  Blend well.  If the soup is too thick, adjust the consistency with the vegetable stock or filtered water.  Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.

3.  Pour the mixture into 2-3 soup bowls and scatter the garnish over the soup equally.

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Ricotta Cheese – Gluten-free and Vegan

ricottaI love Italian food and the day I go to Italy, I’m sure I’m going to have myself a big bowl of authentic pasta, even if there’s gluten or cheese in it.  For now, I want to continue my detox, keep my body clean, free from toxic sludge, while still being able to enjoy my favorite Italian dishes.

After watching David Rocco make gnudi on “La Dolce Vita”, I was really craving a butternut squash gnudi. To make gnudi, one needs ricotta, and although I’m trying to stay away from soy, too, the only vegan ricotta recipes I found online were made with tofu.  I used Morinaga organic, non-GMO firm tofu, to be safe.

My version of vegan ricotta was a delicious addition to my butternut squash gnudi.  As for my gnudi, I would a post picture of them with the recipe; however, I used buckwheat flower and quenelle-shaped them.  Can you just imagine?  My husband thought they looked like Mr. Hanky from “South Park”, although they tasted yummy.  My apologies for the visual.

I still need to learn how to work with amaranth, and all the other flours.  It may take some time, but I will get there.

I’ll tweak the gnudi recipe a bit more, omit the buckwheat flour, and will post another time.

For now, I will share my vegan, gluten-free ricotta cheese recipe.  This is perfect for lasagna, ravioli, and any other pasta recipe that requires ricotta! Enjoy!

Ingredients

8 oz tofu

1/2 tsp garlic, minced

1/2 tsp shallot, minced

1/2 tsp raw apple cider vinegar

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 tsp sunflower seed (or grapeseed) oil

1 tsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp fresh basil, chopped

1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Directions

Drain liquid from tofu. In a bowl, squeeze and crumble tofu.  Add all other ingredients, mix and mash together until it looks like the real thing.  Viola!  Ricotta!

Buon Appetito!

 

 

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Chocolate Chai Cookies – Vegan and Gluten-free!

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Peyman loves his mom’s Persian cooking, and he especially loves her chocolate chip cookies.  Every week after our family dinners, his mom packs cookies for him.  As much as I love my mom-in-law and her cookies, they are not vegan or gluten-free and I am unable to enjoy them.   Consequently, I decided to create a gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookie that is just as good as my mom-in-law’s.

In my search for a yummy recipe on Instagram, I came across a cookie that looked just like his mom’s, posted by @becauseyoureyoung.  The cookie’s reviews from her friends and co-workers were very positive.  I decided to give the recipe a try.

I do not love the raw batter’s taste or scent of garbanzo bean flour as they bake so I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and couldn’t help myself from eating 3 cookies in one sitting!  Thank goodness for reviews.  These cookies are amazing!  They are basically chocolate chip cookies but with an Indian (East Asian) twist.

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I make these for my friends and family—they all love these cookies, even the pickiest of eaters!

I made a few slight adjustments to the recipe, but still, with the permission of @becauseyoureyoung, I will now share this recipe with you!  Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Please note:  they are addicting!  You can also reduce the sugar to ¾ cups plus 2 tbsp, if you’d like to cut down the sugar in this recipe.

 

Chocolate Chai Cookies – Vegan and Gluten-free!

Servings: 24

Time: 40 minutes

Brief: Chewy chocolate chai cookies are my favorite! They are grain-free, easy to make, and oh so good!

Diet: V, GF, GFV, DF, SF, NF

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup steeped chai rooibos tea*

1 cup coconut palm sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 cups garbanzo bean flour

2 heaping tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Note:

*I use Yogi brand Chai Rooibos tea.

**I use Chocolate Dream dairy/gluten/soy-free semi-sweet baking chips

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In boiling water, steep the chai rooibos tea for at least 3 minutes. Measure out 1/3 cup of tea.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the coconut oil, vanilla, tea, coconut palm sugar, and sea salt.

4. In a small bowl, combine the garbanzo bean flour, cinnamon, and baking powder and mix well.

5. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well to combine.

6. Fold in the chocolate chips.  Chill the batter in the refrigerator for about 7 minutes prior to scooping. (The more loose your cookie batter is, the more they will spread when they bake).

7. Scoop 2-Tbsp cookie balls onto a half sheet pan, lined with a Silpat mat or parchment paper and press down to flatten them ever so slightly with your hand or a rubber spatula.  You should be able to fit 12 cookies onto a half sheet pan.

8. Bake until they start to just brown at the bottom, for 9-11 minutes, depending on how powerful your oven is.

9. Allow the cookies to rest on the half sheet pan for about 2-3 minutes besides transferring them to a cooling rack.

Note: This recipe makes 24 cookies total.  Enjoy and remember, enjoy everything sweet in moderation!

 

 

 

 

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Cilantro Lime Kale Salad

Cilantro Lime Kale Salad

Since reading Kimberly Snyder’s first book, “The Beauty Detox Solution”, Peyman and I are transitioning to a vegan, gluten-free lifestyle.  Although it’s only been a little over a month, it has done wonders for us.  Peyman seriously looks at least 5 years younger, my laugh line has miraculously gone away, Peyman’s fine lines are no longer there, his back pain has mostly dissipated, my mom told me, “The darkness under your eyes has disappeared”, we both have slimmed down and we happily possess newfound energy.

Switching over to Kimberly’s glowing green smoothie for breakfast and making other changes in the way we’re eating has been positively life-changing!  We feel lighter on our feet, more energetic, good-spirited and, not to sound vain, look and feel more radiant and glowing.

After being on Kimberly’s plan, our personal tastes and preferences have changed.  We didn’t like kale much a year ago, but now it’s a staple favorite.  She mentions in her book, “Remember, as your body changes physically, so will your tastes”.  She also mentioned something to the effect of, the best research is to try things out for yourself; it’s then that you’ll notice certain changes in eating will have certain effects on your body.  Thankfully, Peyman trusts me and has kept an open mind and heart to this way of living, and he is reaping the benefits, from inside out.

I’m happy we’re investing in our well-being and longevity by living this new lifestyle, while adding more exercise into our daily routines.  While he’s at work in his office, I’m at work in our kitchen trying my best to create recipes that will not only nourish our bodies, but that will also satisfy our palettes!  There’s a reason I went to culinary school and maybe it’s for this reason.  Time to get creative.

Before I head into my test kitchen, I want to share a recipe for a salad I made yesterday.  I actually like it better than the last kale salad I posted, described as “my favorite kale salad” because there’s less fat, yet it’s still very filling.  It can be eaten either as a starter salad, as a full meal, or even mixed up with some gluten-free quinoa pasta.

Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as I do!

 

Cilantro Kale Salad

Servings: 2-4

Time: 15 minutes

 

Ingredients

1 medium to large head of kale, de-stemmed

1/8 heaping tsp Himalayan or Celtic sea salt

1/4th onion, minced

1 large tomato, diced

handful cilantro, chopped (stems included)

handful of broccoli sprouts (or any other kind of sprouts)

1 Tbsp flax seeds

1 Tbsp hemp seeds

1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

2-3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp dried cranberries, chopped

3-6 shakes of cayenne pepper

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice (from 1 ½ -2 juicy limes)

1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced

 

Directions

1. Wash greens well and dry. Remove the kale stems and save them for later. You can add them to a smoothie or juice later.

2. Add kale leaves and salt to a large bowl. With clean hands, tear the kale into bite-sized pieces while massaging salt onto the leaves.  This will sort of tenderize the leaves.

3. Add the remaining ingredients.

4. With clean hands, toss the salad, while massaging the avocado onto the kale leaves. Toss well.

5. Season to taste. If you think it needs more salt, add more salt, or try adding some seaweed or dulse for more saltiness without all the sodium. If you want it spicier, add more cayenne.

6. Toss. Serve and enjoy.

 

Here’s a happy song to help you get started in your kitchen.  Have a wonderful day!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUShOmai4dQ

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