Tag Archives: Vegan

Harvest Risotto

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The autumnal equinox has officially passed, and we are now experiencing the evening hours growing darker and the air growing more crisp. I’m more accustomed to the Indian Summers of Texas, so this more iconic autumn weather here in Virginia is a refreshing change of pace.

Along with the shift in temperatures come a shift in palate. Instead of seafood and endless summer squash, I’m craving heartier roasts and roots. “Storage” crops like winter squash in whimsical varieties also grace the store shelves, and they make a delicious addition to this classic, comforting dish.

 

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Rice has a contentious role within the “paleosphere.” Being that it is a grain, it is not included in paleo canon, but has found neutral favor in many circles (such as here, here, and here) for those who tolerate it. Some have even purported specific benefits.

Until we discovered Isaac’s dairy intolerance, I had been waking up with him several times a night between his 7th and 13th month of age. These perpetual sleep interruptions paired with an accidental gluten ingestion over Memorial Day led to the most significant adrenal crash I’ve had since before I went gluten free. After spending most of June and all of July sick with never-ending respiratory infections, I’ve been working to specifically bring my adrenal function back to baseline health. A vital part of adrenal recovery is moderating glucose, as too much of a glucose load stresses out the adrenals, but without sufficient cortisol, my body isn’t efficient at gluconeogenesis (manufacturing necessary glucose in the absence of dietary carbohydrates). It’s a balancing act, and including rice in my diet (in addition to starchy vegetables like squashes, parsnips, plantains, and all manner of potato) keeps my carb intake from dipping too low while keeping my sugar cravings at bay. It also makes my trips to the local Thai restaurant more frequent, but that’s beside the point.

Rice is made particularly flavor-full and nutrient-dense in this risotto with the inclusion of not only seasonal squashes and seeds, but mineral-and-collagen-rich chicken stock. I’ve used my own home brew in this recipe, but store-bought broth will work in a pinch (Pacific Natural is gluten-free), and I imagine mushroom stock would be particularly delicious!

 

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Harvest Risotto
{gluten free, dairy free-optional, vegan-optional}
Serves 6-8

4 cups (1 quart) chicken, vegetable, or mushroom stock
3 cups water
1-2 tbsp ghee, butter, or coconut oil
2 leeks, green and white parts sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cup arborio rice
1 cup hard cider, dry preferably (substitute fresh apple cider for non-alcoholic)
1 lb of butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes (about 1 small squash)
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1-1.5 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
black pepper to taste
raisins for garnish (optional)

Make sure you have all your ingredients chopped/minced/sliced ahead of time.

Pour the stock and water together in a large saucepan and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. You will maintain this simmer for the duration of the recipe.

Set a separate, large saute pan over medium heat and add the butter/ghee/coconut oil. Once the fat is melted and shimmery (but not burning), add the leeks. Gently saute until soft, usually 3-5 minutes, being careful not to burn. Add the garlic and dry rice and saute together until the rice is gently toasted, about 5 more minutes. Add the hard cider and continue to stir frequently until the cider has been fully absorbed into the rice and there is none pooling in the pan.

Now, add a ladle-full of stock to the rice. In similar fashion to the cider, stir frequently while the rice absorbs the stock. Be careful not to let the pan get so hot that the stock evaporates instead of absorbing into the rice. Once each ladle-full of stock is absorbed, add another ladle-full, continuing on with the stirring-absorbing-and-adding-more-stock. This is a great time to turn on some music and sip the rest of that cider you have.

Once you have used about half of the stock, stir in the butternut squash and pepitas. Continue ladling-and-stirring the stock into the rice until both the butternut squash and the rice are soft and cooked-through. The rice will be sticky and creamy.

Stir in the sage, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Serve warm, topped with raisins, if desired.

Curried Pumpkin-Cauliflower Soup

 

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That’s right. Another pumpkin recipe. But it’s only September, and with our first real cold front coming through tomorrow, I believe it’s high time for soup to hit the household menu.

Soups are perhaps my favorite cool-weather food to prepare. They’re incredibly simple, and they’re a fantastic way to consume a variety of vegetables without having to force another forkful of cold, bitter greens into your mouth. Pumpkin, in particular, as well as plenty of other winter squashes, bring a particular savory sweetness to this soup that plays against the tingly warmth of the curry spices. The coconut milk and  cauliflower, being a common ingredients in Indian fare, tie the flavors all together with velvety richness.

 

Curried Pumpkin-Cauliflower Soup
{paleo, gluten free, vegan-optional}

2 tbsp ghee, butter, or coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated (about a thumb-sized knob)
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups cauliflower florets
1-14 oz can pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)
1-14 oz can full-fat coconut milk (about 2 cups)

In a large saucepan, melt the ghee, butter, or coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until mostly translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, coriander and salt, and stir for a minute or two until highly fragrant.

Add the stock, cauliflower, and pumpkin puree. Bring to a boil, then lower to a steady simmer, and cook until cauliflower is soft and easily pierced with a fork.

Remove from heat, add the coconut milk. Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or by (carefully!) blending in batches in either a blender or a food processor.

 

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats: Gingerbread Truffles

This recipe requires a little somethin’ special.

So turn on some Christmas music (October, Schmocktober).

Put on a frilly apron (heels optional).

Pour yourself a glass of wine? tea? coffee? cider? any choice beverage.

Pretend it’s cold outside. (It’s 80 degrees here)

And light the fire (or a candle) if it really is!

This recipe, while remarkable and completely delicious in its own right, loves a little ambiance.

And while Christmas may still be a little more than two months away, you can consider this practice for a low-stress, high-love holiday season.

Friends, we’re making gingerbread cookie dough truffles.

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I first made “cookie dough bites” about a year ago. My original recipes were basically a traditional cookie dough recipe with a few changes to make them safe to eat raw and then refrigerated until firm. This wasn’t a problem until I made a chocolate chip variety and they got really soft sitting in the warm dining room at a Christmas party. And shuffling them back and forth from the fridge to keep the right texture was far too much of a hassle.

So I changed up my recipe! Instead of depending on butter to be the stabilizer, I used dates!

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I played around with the food processor until I found the combination of ingredients I liked.

And drizzled them with sweet icing!

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Unlike the butter-based varieties, these stay at the same relative texture at room temperature. Sure, they do firm in the fridge, but they do not become the rocks that the butter kind did, nor do they become sloppy and droopy in a warm room. And this is a major plus, because who wants to babysit the dough balls and the fridge during a party? No one!

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Another plus for these is that despite being drizzled in icing, these are not cloyingly sweet like the original cookie dough recipe. I think they have the right balance of spice, sweet, crunch, and chew without leaving you with a toothache. Smile

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Enjoy!

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Truffles

Makes 20 truffles

12 pitted dates
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (or other coarse sugar)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp vanilla

Grind the oats as best you can in a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder and pour it into a separate bowl. Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the pecans until you get a coarse meal, but be careful not to blend is so much that it turns into pecan butter. That’s another show! Winking smile Add the pecan meal to the bowl with the oat flour.

In the food processor, chop the dates as finely as possible. Then add the oats, flax, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, sugar, and salt and process until well-incorporated. It will look pretty dry.

Add the molasses and vanilla and process again until well mixed. The mixture should be a little sticky but not wet. If you squeeze a bit of “dough” in your grip, it should stick together without leaving a molasses-y streak all over your palm.

Using a disher or a spoon, roll the mixture into 1/2-ounce balls and line on parchment paper. Can be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled! Or drizzled in icing!!

Simple Icing

1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk-type drink of your preference (I used unsweetened plain coconut milk)
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Mix the vanilla and “milk” until well combined. Gradually mix in the sifted powdered sugar until smooth. This will take time. And don’t forget to sift or you’ll get clumps that look like curdled milk. Yum.

Check out the other awesome recipes for this week’s blog hop!


What is your favorite flavor of cookie?

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies

Welcome to the 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies! I know, it’s not even October yet. But it’s just about 12 weeks until Christmas, can you believe it?

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The 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies is an annual blog hop series hosted by (this year) by Brenda at Meal Planning Magic, and at last count about 25 other bloggers are participating this this year’s series!

Every Thursday for the next twelve weeks, all we bloggers who have thrown our hats into the ring will share a new cookie/bar/brownie recipe for the quickly approaching holiday season! I understand today’s Friday and not Thursday, but better late than never, right? Winking smile

 

For this week’s installment, I’ve built upon the apple theme for this week and made Oatmeal-Apple Cookies!

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These cookies are granola bar meets apple pie meets cookie! And they’re vegan and gluten-free to boot! A tasty treat you can feel good about! And this recipe is perfect for the entire fall+Christmas season, so don’t feel like you have to wait!

 

Oatmeal-Apple Cookies (Vegan + Gluten Free!)

Adapted from Food.com

3/4 cup coconut oil (at room temperature)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 “flax egg” (1 tbsp flaxseeds, ground, mixed with 3 tbsp hot water, and set aside)
1/4 cup rice milk (or whatever milk-type drink you prefer)
1.5 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste!)
100 g (roughly 1 cup) oat flour (I use an old coffee grinder to grind organic oats because I tolerate them better than gluten-free oats, but non-GF oats are heavily contaminated with gluten, so if you’re on a strict GF diet, use the certified gluten-free oats)
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (the pre-ground nutmeg tastes and smells NOTHING like actual nutmeg! If you don’t want to use a whole nutmeg and grate it yourself, use pre-ground mace. It smells and tastes exactly like fresh nutmeg)
3 cups oats (I used organic rolled oats, but if you are on a strict GF diet, go for certified gluten-free)
1 cup finely diced apple

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat the coconut oil (which is more like a soft butter at room temperature) for about 10 seconds. Then add the sugar and mix that for about 10 seconds. Then add the “flax egg,” rice milk, and vanilla. Mix for an additional 20-30 seconds.

In a separate, medium-sized bowl, combine the oat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix until well incorporated. You will probably need to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl on occasion.

Using a spoon or spatula, fold in the oats and finely diced apple into the batter.

Spoon roughly two-tablespoon-sized mounds onto a cookie sheet, leaving about two inches between mounds. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and the cookies are moderately firm.

Enjoy!

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Vegan Baking Adventures

Next week my office is hosting a going-away brunch for a fellow coworker who is leaving to go work in the Metroplex, and we’ve all been asked to bring a dish to share. I love baking quick-breads, and I recently found out that another coworker is vegan. I love vegan baking! I consider it some sort of challenge and an art form in itself. It defies conventional logic and pushes my thinking out of the box.

I decided to test out a muffin to share.

I started out with the idea of almond butter muffins. Then I found a recipe that included bananas. What a great idea! I have overripe bananas, and they contribute a good amount of moisture and natural sweetness while cutting down on excessive fat! Plus that gives it an upscale Elvis feel, y’know. Almond butter and bananas?

Anyway. I knew that I was entirely out of sucanat and had no desire to run to the store, so I figured a liquid sweetener would suffice. I got half-way through decrystallizing my honey when I realized—duh—honey isn’t vegan. I’m all out of agave (figures), so the next best option was grade B maple syrup. Yes, I knew almond butter and maple syrup go together beautifully. I’m sure most foodies have discovered Justin’s maple almond butter packets in the grocery store, but grade B maple doesn’t normally have a very subtle flavor! But it totally worked in these and did not overpower at all.

 

Here’s what you need!

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Whole wheat pastry flour is the secret to successful 100% whole wheat muffins that everyone will love. The texture is very, very close to that of regular white flour. I use it in practically everything. In fact, I’ve only found two recipes where it didn’t really work out as well as white flour. But that’s another post.

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Conventional baking recipes use milk/yogurt and eggs. I used soy milk (but I plan on using rice milk next week) and a “flax egg.” I love using flax eggs because it’s cheaper than actual eggs, plus it keeps me from using my expensive local, pastured eggs in recipes I can’t even taste them in.

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The beauty of quickbread recipes is that the instructions are simple. Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl, all the wet ingredients in another bowl, and then combine the contents of both bowls until gently combined (but don’t over-stir!). Sometimes you can get away with using just one bowl—combining all your dry, then adding your wet ingredients individually and then mixing, but since this recipe involves some chunky and sticky wet ingredients in all different textures and viscosities, I don’t recommend the one-bowl route.

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And if you’re feelin’ frisky, you can add some non-dairy chocolate chips!

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Has anyone else used these chlorine-free baking liners? I had some issues with my foil liners back in January with them pulling apart from my cupcakes. I never have that issue with muffins, so I don’t know if it’s the quality of the tin or the recipes themselves. I decided to pick these up when I saw them at Sun Harvest Sprouts last week. Any ideas on how to keep my liners from pulling apart from my cupcakes?!

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Anyway.

If there’s one baking supply you absolutely MUST HAVE in your kitchen, it’s this rounded bowl scraper. I got this as a graduation gift from my aunt. It came from the Container Store and it’s pretty nifty with conversion charts on both sides of it. I know Walmart sells cheaper, simpler varieties. But like I said, it’s an absolute must. If you don’t have one, I beseech you to go out and get one now! There’s a whole world of raw batter to be discovered! And whether that batter ends up in your muffin tins or in your mouth is entirely not my business.

But even if you did eat this batter raw, it’s okay! No eggs! Winking smile

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Where was I? Oh yeah!

 

Fill your muffins with about 2 ounces of batter. I used a nifty one-ounce disher, but most-the-way full is about right.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges brown, clean toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, gentle tap on the top shows muffin to be reasonably firm, the weather radar in your trick knee goes off, or the cows come home. Whatever works for you.

Allow muffins to cool entirely on a cooling rack before consuming.

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These muffins are subtle in flavor and in sweetness with a mild and slightly complexed banana flavor, like somewhere between banana bread and the feeling you get after eating an almond-butter-banana sandwich. And another thing, they’re not too sweet! One of my biggest pet peeves is muffins that taste like frosting-less cupcakes. Called me old-fashioned but I don’t think cake is an appropriate breakfast food.

So enjoy!

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Vegan Almond Butter-Banana Muffins

Adapted from CC Recipe
Makes 6-8 muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup natural almond butter
1 large overripe banana, mashed
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
~1/4 cup non-dairy chocolate chips (optional)

First, in a small bowl, combine ground flax with 3 tbsp hot water. Stir and allow to sit for 10 minutes so it can congeal.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.

In another bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, almon butter, banana, “flax egg”, vanilla, and non-dairy milk togther and stir until well-combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix!

Fold in chocolate chips.

Dish out about 2 oz of batter per muffin into a muffin pan filled with liners.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean.

Wishing for a Dreary Day

While the sky seems to falling everywhere else in the country, we have been suffering a pretty seriously drought. Our last significant event of rainfall occurred sometime last fall, and there have only been two (very insignificant) events of any kind of rain since the freezing winter!

For this reason, my brussels sprouts plants are scorching, my arugula is shooting, my hair is frizzing, and my severe seasonal allergies are keeping me home from work today.

Around 10am I realized I was hungry. Really hungry. And I wanted something plant-based. And comforting. I searched through Angela’s recipes and found two that I was pretty keen on trying, but I couldn’t decide what I was in the mood for. Ultimately I realized I was too dehydrated so much a decision, so I went to the kitchen, chugged some water, and soon found myself shredding carrots.

I ultimately chose Angela’s Carrot Cake Oatmeal. Comfort food, right? It reminded me of my honeymoon in Colorado Springs, though I’m not sure why. Must be the warm, Autumnal spices. I’m not normally into hot oatmeal, but today it hit the spot and I wish I hadn’t halved the recipe.

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I followed the recipe almost to a T. I used cow’s milk since I was out of soy milk. I don’t keep almond milk around.

And I used pecans instead of walnuts because I can pick pecans off the ground in my backyard, so it’s essentially included in my rent. I have to go the store and spend additional money to buy walnuts.
Plus, I prefer pecans.

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Overall, a definite success! I’ll certainly make this again, though I’d reduce the maple syrup stirred in at the end of cooking. I felt it was a bit too sweet for breakfast.

 

I know, that’s criminal of me to say isn’t it?

 

I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

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What do you like to eat when you’re sick?

Has it been raining much in your neck of the woods?

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