Monday, July 28, 2014

Vegan Caprese!

One of our families favorite dishes each summer is Caprese.  Traditionally made with layers of fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, and tomatoes atop bread ~ we had been searching for a way to make this Vegan.

It ended up being very simple! All we had to do was take a block of organic, silken firm tofu, and slice it into thin slices. We sprinkled salt (and our favorite all-purpose seasoning - Spike) onto both sides, then carefully placed it atop the bread that already had a fine drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We cut up fresh garden basil and sprinkled a generous amount on, before topping with the tomato slices and another drizzle of the EVO and balsamic. We finished everything with another generous sprinkling of chopped basil and.... YUMMY!  (I am so happy that all four of my kids loved it too!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I made a Vegan Blueberry Pie with fresh blueberries!

So... Blueberries are on sale... and as much as I hate to admit it... I have never made a pie with FRESH Blueberries...  (I know, it's crazy, right?)  I kept thinking, "Oh it can't be that much better with fresh blueberries." I was very, very wrong. It is FANTASTICALLY BETTER with FRESH Blueberries!*

(As long as you are serving WARM.)

I didn't use a recipe, but I put together my own which I will share with you now.

Mix the following by hand in a large bowl with a rubber spatula/scraper:
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/3 cup Organic Sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons Organic Cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon or more of FRESHLY grated Nutmeg (yes, once again, it does make a difference)

Fold in:

6 cups FRESH Organic Blueberries (more or less)

Place into either a store-bought Graham Cracker Pie Crust Shell (or make your own using these ingredients):

Graham Crackers
Vanilla Extract
Vegan Butter

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
In a Separate Bowl, make the crumble topping:
1/2 cup Vegan Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
sprinkle of Cinnamon
sprinkle of freshly grated Nutmeg (or more if you are me)

Sprinkle crumble topping over the berries.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn down oven to 350 degrees bake for approx. 20 minutes (or until topping is turning just barely golden in a few places. Remove from the oven, and cool for just a few minutes. Serve WARM.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Homemade Almond Milk is tasty and environmental!

I enjoy almond milk a lot (both the super-sweet-almost-melted-vanilla-ice-cream kind, and especially the chocolate kind), but when I saw this infographic, I was astounded at the "water footprint" that one glass of conventionally produced almond milk takes.  So I make my own more often now, and it is far more efficient.

In less than 3 minutes I had made my own almond milk (1 cup of raw almonds in the vitamix blender with a couple of cups of water, then squeezed through a "nut bag" and stirred with a pinch of salt and a bit of coconut sugar (feel free to use the sweetener of your choice, or no sweetener at all).

If you want to read the article that contained this info, click the link:
When I read things like this passage below, (discussing different proteins found in cow's milk from different breeds of cows), it just makes it much MORE clear that humans aren't needing to drink another species milk at all.  
"When digested, A1 beta-casein (but not the A2 variety) releases beta-casomorphin7 (BCM7), an opioid with a structure similar to that of morphine.  Studies increasingly point to BCM7 as a troublemaker. Numerous recent tests, for example, have shown that blood from people with autism and schizophrenia contains higher-than-average amounts of BCM7. In a recent study, Richard Deth, a professor of pharmacology at Northeastern University in Boston, and his postdoctoral fellow, Malav Trivedi, showed in cell cultures that the presence of similarly high amounts of BCM7 in gut cells causes a chain reaction that creates a shortage of antioxidants in neural cells, a condition that other research has tied to autism. The study, underwritten in part by A2 Corp., is now undergoing peer review in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. "

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip!

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip that tastes as good or better than the dairy-laden, high fat version!
It even fooled people into thinking it was made with cream cheese!
The best part is that it is made quickly from just a few simple ingredients!


2 huge handfuls of raw baby spinach  (OR 1 large package of frozen chopped spinach)

1 large can of artichoke hearts (water or oil packed)

1 T. Olive Oil (use less if using oil-packed artichoke hearts)

1/2 Onion, diced

1 Clove of garlic is optional  (I choose NOT to use it because I often am using oil-packed, flavored artichoke hearts anyway, and I do not care for garlic.)

Salt to taste

Black Pepper to taste

Cayenne Pepper to taste

1 T.  Lemon Juice or to taste

1 Cup Raw Cashews

2-3 Cups filtered water


In advance, soak the raw cashews (or cashew pieces) in a bowl with enough water to cover them for about 2-8 hours. After soaking time, drain and rinse cashews. (If you are in a hurry, simply boil some water, pour over the cashews, and soak for 15 minutes before draining.)

Next add them to a blender with 1 cup fresh water. Blend until smooth and set aside.

Defrost spinach and squeeze out excess water. Heat the olive oil and saute the onions until translucent. Add the garlic if you are using it, and stir for an additional minute.

Stir in artichoke hearts, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper- and cook until hot.

Add spinach and lemon juice and cook for 2 minutes.

Mix in cashew cream, cook for an additional few minutes and serve hot with veggies, rice, crackers, or bread! This spread is great served the next day on a sandwich or salad!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Bread you can eat every week!

My dear friend Sara introduced me to this recipe, and our family LOVES it so much, that I had to alter it just a bit - I started making it with part whole wheat flour so I could justify serving it all the time!

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups white flour (add extra as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  1. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar with the warm water in a very large bowl. Add the yeast without stirring and let it sit until creamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour into the breadmaker. Add the flour on top of the liquid, and then add the olive oil  and salt. Set the cycle for "Dough" and walk away!
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll each half into a large rectangle. For more tight rolls in the bread, roll the dough thinner. For thicker softer rolls in the bread, roll thicker. It’s up to you and it tastes great either way. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over each loaf. Be generous. Roll up the loaves tightly and let rest for a few minutes before putting in the oven.
  4. Bake on a cookie sheet or baking stone for 30 minutes, or until it sounds hollow. When in doubt, overbake this one. It might look brown on the outside, but that’s okay because the inside really needs to bake all the way to get the layers filled out. And it’s really really helpful to let the bread cool before cutting into it, otherwise it has a tendency to sink down where you cut it.
  5. OUR FAVORITE WAY TO EAT this is toasting it in the toaster, and putting a bit of vegan butter on it. This recipe also freezes well - meaning you can cut a few slices and put in the freezer for another day when you need a quick bite of cinnamon sweetness!

If you don't have a breadmaker, you can still easily make this bread... this recipe was adapted from:

I have a breadmaker by Rosewill, which I primarily use only for the dough setting, and then prefer to bake all bread in a real oven.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Winter Warm-Up Almond Drink! Try this instead of coffee and see how you feel!

 Recently the Midwest went through an intense cold snap.  You know, the kind that makes you run to the store for ingredients to stock your fridge and cupboards, and then makes you bake and eat nuts and carbs incessantly...  or is that just me? But before all the trips to the store- we have to wake up and get moving, right? Even when the temperature is dropping fast...  everyone was posting all over Facebook about how they were preparing, and a friend of mine mentioned that she might have to leave the house to get strong coffee. 

Someone suggested to her:

"homemade almond milk with date, black or cayenne pepper to get the blood flowing -- no jitters with this and it is so yummy...."

First I should say I LOVE everything almond...  almond wedding cookies, chocolate covered almonds,  almonds in savory rice dishes, in rice pudding, in the crowning glory recipe for almonds - marzipan, and even in my favorite almond body cream and almond hand cream!  I keep a big glass jar of almonds on my counter and my four children are always snacking on them.   So her comment sent me right to my kitchen!

In less than 3 minutes I had made my own almond milk (1 cup of raw almonds in the vitamix blender with a couple of cups of water, then squeezed through a "nut bag" and stirred with a pinch of salt and a bit of coconut sugar.  I tasted it and I really liked it. I hadn't made my own almond milk since summer and I realized how much I missed it. 

So for the hot drink, I simply heated up a cup of it on my stove - I made it with cayenne first - since I am in love with cayenne.  Tasty and intense heat, yet creamy!  Then I tried another cup, this time with black pepper.  I cannot say that it woke me up like coffee, but it was yummy! And it was so filling and truly nourishing too!  Later that afternoon I also made a cup of it with chai spices in it and loved that too!

P.S. Thank you Anne Hirsch for your wonderful drink suggestion!

Friday, November 22, 2013

It's Almost Christmas Kale Salad...

There is a story behind this Kale Salad...

I was raised as a Vegetarian from birth by my parents (who actually started the first health food store in Des Moines, Iowa, back in the early 1970's - but that is another story).  Through my 39 years of being a Vegetarian, I have encountered a lot of challenges living in the Midwest, but I am fortunate to live in a tiny town  of 9,000 people, that actually has more restaurants per capita than San Fransciso. (So in my town there is no shortage of good vegetarian and vegan food.)   But traveling in a three state vicinity is tricky.

 My entire family is also from the Midwest.  Let's just sum it up by saying that means everyone is super nice and it also means that the traditional Midwestern food options at all family events are not congruent with a Vegetarian lifestyle- in fact, the idea of a vegetarian diet was confusing. I remember being asked repeatedly, "Do you eat peanut butter?" by several relatives.

On one such event, I traveled with my mom, my four children, and my sister and her son to a family reunion and we mostly subsisted on Subway sandwiches (NOT fresh, I don't care what they say...) and Taco Johns burritos.  By the time of the actual event we were craving real, fresh food so badly. And there were at least fruit plates...  Afterwards, we headed back to our relatives house, and somehow stumbled upon a giant bowl of something dark green. It had been left abandoned in the extra fridge in the garage (along with random bottles of beer and bottled water).  We peered closer at it, and were THRILLED to find that it was KALE!*   We stared at it for a millisecond and started devouring it. We ate almost an entire 16"  bowl of it in one sitting.  It was so unexpectedly delicious with walnuts and raisins in it!  The next morning, we had to come clean about the fact that whomever had prepared that salad had better not be expecting it to still be in the fridge. We said we ate it like fugitives. Fortunately they didn't mind. We did find out which relative made it but never figured out why it wasn't at the family meal table... except that most people did not know what it was. Anyway, there was a normal size portion left over and we took it on the road trip the next day... and it saved us from another day of fast food!  (Which was great because it just so happened that was the day I was taking my oldest daughter to a Justin Bieber concert and I needed the energy to go through with that...)

 It's Almost Christmas Kale Walnut Salad

Thinly chop at least one bunch of Organic Kale
Add a handful of  Organic Walnuts,
A handful of Organic Raisins,
The juice of one small Organic Lemon,
And then Sprinkle with Salt.

This salad gets BETTER if you let it sit in the fridge for a while.... trust me.

* Disclaimer:  Kale is sort of like coffee. It is an acquired taste. The difference is that eating kale can probably prolong your life, and certainly improves your vitality.  Even as a life-long vegetarian, I have only been introduced to it in the past few years. And Kale has definitely grown on me, because of the nutrition and energy it gives- I literally feel healthier after eating it.  I am finding many ways to use it, like adding it to my favorite morning juice... and ways to get my kids to eat it for the fantastic vitamins and minerals... usually easiest in a Blueberry Kale Smoothie / Ice Cream! I use  1/3 of my garden space to grow several varieties of Organic Kale!  I am happy to announce that I make this salad when I serve pizza and the kids willingly eat it, and enjoy it! (Tonight was Pizza night - so I had to post this!)

Friday, November 15, 2013

My Vegan Version of a BLT ~ Vegan BLT Kale Wrap!

Here is a quick and nutritious lunch I made today that even my husband -who is Not a vegan- LOVED!  I took an organic kale leaf from my garden, and filled it with some avocado, grape tomatoes, and cooked some Tofurky brand Smoky Maple Meatless Bacon Tempeh to give it a hearty flavor and lots of protein! Then I ate it folded like a taco (with a bit of Veganaise on it)! Yum!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

100% Pure Makeup made from REAL FRUIT!

 I can never get enough fruit.  (Or Chocolate, but that is a different story.)  So having even my makeup made of REAL FRUIT is exactly my kind of thing.... The colors are amazing and they smell delicious too! You can click the link to see some of my favorites!

Here is a great link to lots of reasons to eat more Fruits & Veggies too!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cake and Superheros!

Happy Birthday Brian!  

3 small prints from the Origins series by Ninjabot.  The Origins series is showing the moment that each superhero was made... I chose these three... from left, Superman, Spiderman, The Green Lantern.  It was fun to support a Kickstarter for Ninjabot and get something unique.  When they came they were almost like postcards, so I framed them myself and now we have this cool piece of unique art hanging above the computer!


  • 2 cups soy milk, rice milk or other vegan milk
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt           
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease pan, and/or line with baking paper.
  • Whisk together the vegan milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the vegan milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
  • Pour into pans, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely   
VEGAN BUTTERCREAM FROSTING INGREDIENTS (enough to frost in between layers and a bit on top (double if you want to frost the entire cake sides, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
  • 1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer
  • Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.
  • Add the vanilla and soy milk, and beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.  

  • Thaw a 10oz bag of frozen cherries and mix with 2 Tablespoons sugar, cooking for a few minutes
  • Separately, in a tiny bowl, mix 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch with 2 Tablespoons Pomegranate Juice
  • Add this to the cooking cherry/sugar mixture and cook a few minutes, stiring constantly, until thickened. Allow to cool. 
  • Frost between the two layers of cake, then top the cake with the vegan buttercream frosting, the cherry mixture, then chocolate shavings!