snack to school week: imperfect fruit cups

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I debated about sharing this recipe with you because, well, it didn’t go exactly according to plan.

It was the first time I was trying out the vegan alternative to gelatin and because our last few weeks were crazy busy, I didn’t leave time to practice with it before wanting to share the recipe with you. It certainly tastes fine, but it didn’t hold up the way I had hoped. In fact, a few of them fell apart.

However, I think there’s a lesson in this which is why I’m sharing the recipe anyway. Because as moms with access to an overwhelming number of ideas beautifully styled, captured and shared online, we can feel like our own efforts are not good enough when they turn out less-than-perfect. Which makes us feel less than.

And I think this message gets filtered down to our children.

This is why I’m sharing my less-than-perfect first attempt with this recipe (and what I might try next time) because I want to live believing that my attempts to delight and surprise my children are good enough even when they don’t look that way on the surface.

 

Delighting and surprising my children is exactly what I had in mind when I decided to try the vegan version of “jello” fruit cups since it’s a rare treat around here. Vegan “jello” uses agar agar (which comes from seaweed) instead of the animal-based gelatin typically found on store shelves. If you want to learn more about how animal-based gelatin is made, here’s the low down from organicauthority.com.

 

 

The other advantage of making your own “jello” fruit cups is the ability to control the sugar content by using 100% fruit juice. For this recipe, I chose a cranberry, raspberry, blackberry blend.

 

I think there were a few contributing factors to these falling apart once I removed them from the muffin tin:

  1. I used frozen raspberries instead of fresh which increased the water content. Therefore, I recommend using fresh fruit for these.
  2. I probably needed more agar agar than recommended because I used berries (which affects the geling abilities) and I wanted these to pop out of a muffin tin instead of staying in a dish.
  3. It took me a few attempts to figure out how to free them from the tin without destroying them, and go figure, it was gravity that came to the rescue.

 

Print
imperfect fruit cups
Prep Time
5 hr
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
5 hr 10 mins
 

These "imperfect" vegan fruit cups subtract added sugar and animal-based gelatin and multiply fun.

Course: Snack
Servings: 15
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 4 cups 100% fruit juice of your choice
  • 4-6 tbsp agar agar
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit (apple, pear, banana, berries, oranges, kiwi)
Instructions
  1. Grease a muffin tin very well with coconut oil. Set aside.

  2. Pour the fruit juice into a large saucepan and sprinkle in the agar agar*. If you plan to add berries, oranges or kiwi, you will need to use 6 T of agar agar. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

  3. Using a ladle, carefully pour the liquid into each muffin cup, leaving enough room to add the fruit without the liquid spilling outside the cups.

  4. Add a few pieces of fruit to each cup, then place muffin tin on a jelly roll pan (to catch any spills), and put in the refrigerator for several hours or until set.

  5. To remove fruit cups from the tin, carefully run a knife around the sides of each portion to loosen. Then, over the jelly roll pan, invert the muffin tin upside down at about a 30 degree angle. One by one, run the knife around the side of each fruit cup. Gravity to help the cup to slide out of the tin and onto the pan. You'll want to rotate the muffin tin as you do this so that the fruit cups you are loosening are closest to the jelly roll tin. Use a spatula to scoop up each fruit cup and carefully place in a storage container. If stacking them in one container, separate each layer with a piece of parchment paper. Store in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

*I used agar agar flakes. You may need to adjust the quantity if using agar agar powder or bars - simply follow those package directions. Not all fruits are compatible with agar agar. To learn more about this, visit this link.

 

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  • I found my package of agar agar flakes at Whole Foods Market in the Asian food section. Natural food and Asian grocery stores also may carry it, or you can find the flakes here and the powder here.

snack to school week :: more spinach trees! (nut free, sugar free, vegan)

As I was dreaming up this week of recipes for you, I had several goals in mind: the recipes had to be quick and easy to prepare, offered healthier, more nutrient-dense alternatives to typical kid-geared snacks and had an element of fun to entice tiny palettes.

When it comes to fruits and sweeter veggies like carrots, this isn’t so hard. But greens like spinach are another matter.

Which is why I’m so excited to share this recipe with you! I’m mildly obsessed with it and cannot believe I hadn’t thought of it before. It’s ridiculously easy, free of nuts, can also be make seed-free and takes an already healthy condiment to a new level.

Meet the “More Spinach Trees” snack.

You have two options for mixing up the spinach hummus dip. Either you can finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus for a leafy look.

Or place the hummus and spinach in a food processor and give it a whirl until the spinach is thoroughly incorporated and turns the hummus a light green color. While I love homemade hummus (you can find my favorite recipe here), I usually buy mine because it’s a time saver for me.

To assemble as the More Spinach Trees, slice some cucumber, spread on the spinach hummus dip and add a pretzel rod trunk. If you’re sending this to school, you can package each element separately and let your child assemble on their own. While it’s healthiest to leave the pretzel rods out all together, keep them in if it encourages your child to try the spinach hummus dip.

While I find it hard to notice a difference in taste or even texture when I’ve added the spinach, suspicious children may still balk at trying this (one of mine did). If that’s the case, start out with smaller amount and gradually increase it over time as they adjust to the new color.

If you try this, I would love to hear your feedback! Did your children like it? Or not?

 

Print
More Spinach Trees!

A fun and easy way to boost the nutrients in an already healthy snack and sneak some extra greens into your child's diet...and your own too!

Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup regular hummus of your choice
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed spinach
  • cucumbers, sliced
  • pretzel rods
Instructions
  1. For the "leafy" spinach hummus dip, finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus. For the blended green hummus, add the hummus and spinach to a food processor and blend the spinach breaks down and turns the hummus to a light green color.

  2. To assemble the "trees," spread the hummus on each slice of cucumber and place on a tray. Add a pretzel rod "trunk."

Recipe Notes

For pickier eaters, you may need to start off with smaller quantity of spinach and gradually work your way up. The spinach doesn't noticeably affect the taste or texture of the hummus, but the different appearance can cause little ones to be suspicious. 😉

One of the best tips for helping children accept vegetables and new flavors is one I encountered in a vegetarian cookbook several years ago: chop the veggies into smaller child bite-sited pieces. I’ve found I like doing this for myself too! For this dip, finely chop the spinach if you’re going to stir it in vs. blending it.

 

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  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I bought my pretzel rods at Trader Joe’s, but here’s a brand I like even better!
  • My go-to brand of hummus is made by Sabra which many grocery stores carry.

 

lemon squares (vegan, low sugar, gluten free)

lemon squaresI think one of the hardest things to do when you change the way you eat is to stop indulging in your memory of the foods you used to enjoy. It’s hard to convince the brain that the sugar/dairy/meat-laden dish once inhaled without second thought will now cause your body to launch a revolt.

I have a few food memories that are hard to short circuit. One of them is of the lemon squares my husband whipped up one dreary afternoon – made with extra lemon juice. I almost swoon at the memory.

100_1796Tempting as it is to consider making a conventional batch of lemon squares to satisfy my lemon cravings, the sugar content alone scratches it off the list. You can read a little about my decision to cut back on sugar here.

Thankfully, the plant-based, low sugar lemon curd recipe I posted earlier this month is an excellent substitute for the traditional lemon square filling. It’s complemented by a gluten free, coconut crust, inspired by this recipe. And the icing sugar? It’s actually a dusting of coconut flour.

lemon square collageWhat is your favorite lemon dish? What foods do you have a hard time resisting based on the memory alone?

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the lemon squares recipe

lemon squares (vegan, low sugar, gluten free)

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-17 minutes

Serves: 16 squares

Ingredients

    for the Crust & Topping

    • 1 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
    • 1 c. almond flour
    • ½ tsp. baking soda
    • 1 scoop 100% pure stevia
    • ¼ c. melted coconut oil
    • 1 tsp. coconut nectar or agave
    • ½ tsp. vanilla
    • Coconut flour (for dusting)

    for the Filling

    • ¾ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • Zest from one organic lemon (optional)
    • ½ c. white grape juice
    • 3 T coconut nectar or agave
    • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
    • 5 T organic cornstarch
    • ¼ tsp. salt
    • 1 T vegan butter
    • Cream from 1 can full fat coconut milk
    • Scant 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

    Using your hands, mix all ingredients for the macaroon crust together in a bowl.

    Pour crust into a greased 8”x8” glass baking dish and press crust firmly to compact it together.

    Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool.

    While crust is baking, combine juices, zest if using, sweeteners, cornstarch and salt in a sauce pan. Whisk constantly over high heat until mixtures begins to thicken. Don’t worry if it takes on a lumpy texture, step 2 will smooth it out!

    Immediately turn off heat and whisk in butter and coconut cream until smooth.

    Add turmeric for a brighter lemony color.

    Cool slightly, then pour over crust.

    Recipe Notes

    The more you press the crust, the better it will hold together after baking.

    Use a pizza cutter to give a nice clean cut to the squares.

    I love this recipe for the lemon curd because even if your mixture goes lumpy in step one, adding the coconut cream and butter and giving it a good hard whisk seems to correct it back to smooth and silky.

    *It’s best to use organic lemons if you want to add the zest because of the high pesticide content in the rind, however if you’re just using the juice and organic lemons are out of your budget, regular lemons will do.

    Make sure the stevia you use is 100% pure as many stevia products have additives including added sweeteners. I get mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own tiny scoop.

    Organic cornstarch, while on the pricey side is best because of GMOs in nonorganic corn.

    I use Thai Kitchen’s full fat coconut milk because the coconut cream is often already separated from the liquid. However, if the cream hasn’t consolidated on its own (you can tell by giving the can a gentle shake, refrigerate it overnight upside down.

    I found adding a little turmeric enhances the visual appeal of the curd since the white grape juice and coconut nectar or agave produce a beige-colored curd.

    Refrigerate to set, then use a sieve to dust with coconut flour.

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    lemon curd (vegan, reduced sugar)

    lemon curdtextScones are one of the desserts my mum makes if company is coming for lunch or in the afternoon and usually she serves them with jam. But on occasion she would treat us to lemon curd to accompany the scones. Perhaps it is because we had it so rarely that I enjoy it so thoroughly.

    Given the use of eggs and lots of sugar, lemon curd was something I didn’t think I would be eating again after switching to a plant-based diet several years ago and drastically cutting back on my sugar intake (including unrefined sugars) last year.
    100_2352Lemon curd is something I associate with my mum and with England and with special occasions…which makes this a good follow up to Mother’s Day and this post.

    But when my mom made a lemon meringue pie using a plant-based lemon filling, it got me thinking that perhaps it was possible to recreate a plant-based lemon curd. After doing some research and experimenting, I finally arrived at this recipe.

    I was able to reduce the sugar by using white grape juice and adding less than 1/4 cup of liquid sweetener. I usually use coconut nectar since it carries a low glycemic rating, which means the body absorbs it more slowly than other forms of sugar. You can find it for a good price here at Vitacost (I recommend stocking up to save on shipping). The organic cornstarch (find it here at Abe’s Market) and coconut cream help thicken it.

    lemon curdprocess
    left: curd before adding coconut cream & non-dairy butter right: after adding coconut cream & non-dairy butter

    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the lemon curd recipe

    lemon curd (vegan, reduced sugar)

    Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

    Cook Time: 5-7 minutes

    Makes: about 2.5 cups

    Ingredients

    • ¾ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • Zest from one organic lemon* (optional)
    • ½ c. white grape juice
    • 3 T coconut nectar** or agave
    • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
    • 5 T organic cornstarch
    • ¼ tsp. salt
    • 1 T vegan butter
    • Cream from 1 can full fat coconut milk
    • Scant 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)

    Instructions

    In a sauce pan, combine juices, zest if using, sweeteners, cornstarch and salt. Whisk constantly over high heat until mixtures begins to thicken. Don’t worry if it takes on a lumpy texture, step 2 will smooth it out!

    Immediately turn off heat and whisk in butter and coconut cream until smooth.

    Add turmeric for a brighter lemony color.

    Cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

    Recipe Notes

    I love this recipe because even if your mixture goes lumpy in step one, adding the coconut cream and butter and giving it a good hard whisk seems to correct it back to smooth and silky.

    *It’s best to use organic lemons if you want to add the zest because of the high pesticide content in the rind, however if you’re just using the juice and organic lemons are out of your budget, regular lemons will do.

    **I like using coconut nectar because of its low glycemic rating. I buy mine through Vitacost – clicking this link gives me credit to their Refer-a-Friend program.

    Make sure the stevia you use is 100% pure as many stevia products have additives including added sweeteners. I get mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own tiny scoop.

    Organic cornstarch, while on the pricey side is best because of GMOs in nonorganic corn. You can get it through Abe’s Market, but natural foods stores also may carry it.

    I use Thai Kitchen’s full fat coconut milk because the coconut cream is often already separated from the liquid. However, if the cream hasn’t consolidated on its own (you can tell by giving the can a gentle shake, refrigerate it overnight upside down.

    I found adding a little turmeric enhances the visual appeal of the curd since the white grape juice and coconut nectar or agave produce a beige-colored curd.

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    sweet potato & lentil soup (vegan, oil-free)

    2009-01-19 17.49.37The first vegan cookbook I ever purchased was Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson*. It was during the season in my life that my oldest son likes to refer to as “the time when we weren’t eating healthy.” I refer to it as the time when I didn’t realize the benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

    But the Lord knew He would bring me to this place, so He gradually encouraged me to go meat-free on more than just Monday. I started by exploring vegan and vegetarian cookbooks in our local library until I stumbled upon Vegan Planet*.

    One of my favorite recipes from the book is Robin’s “Indian-spiced Lentil Soup” on page 78.

    Although soups are most often thought of in the fall and winter, I make them year round. Especially when spring shows its chillier side.
    100_1753

    100_1772

    100_1770

    100_1757And I think this soup is especially spring-like with the bright addition of cilantro, an herb that flourishes in cooler temperatures.

    2009-01-19 17.12.30Spring, summer, fall, winter, here is my version of this sweet potato lentil soup.

    swplentilsoup CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the sweet potato lentil soup recipe

    sweet potato lentil soup

    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

    Cook Time: 60-70 minutes

    Ingredients (6-8)

    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 celery rib, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 small sweet potato, peeled & diced
    • 1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
    • 1 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 ½ cups dried brown lentils
    • 6 cups water
    • ½ cup cilantro leaves, minced
    • ½-3/4 tsp. salt
    • Dashes of pepper

    Instructions

    In a stock pot, sauté onions, celery and garlic in a little water until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes)

    Add sweet potatoes and sauté 5 minutes more.

    Add water, tomatoes and seasonings except the cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 50 to 55 minutes until the lentils and sweet potato are cooked through.

    Add cilantro and cook 10 minutes more.

    Recipe Notes

    As with most soups, this one tastes even better the second day when the flavors have fully developed.

    This soup freezes well, so make some extra and keep on hand when you need a meal in a pinch.

     *I am an Amazon associate. If you purchase the cookbook through this link, it will provide a small credit to my account.

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    oven-baked sweet potato chips + guacamole (vegan, oil-free)

    2009-01-18 19.13.25I grew up in a home where we ate quite a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. But somehow the avocado eluded us. And guacamole? The first time I tried it I was in my late twenties.

    It was love-at-first-bite.

    guacamole collage But chips, guac’s side kick, are rather low on the healthy eating spectrum, sprouted, organic, GMO-free or not. And despite their salty, crunchy tastiness, I’ve been looking beyond the vegan label to examine what I’m actually putting into my body.  Because eating a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily = a healthy diet.

    So when I want a healthier compadre for my guacamole, I round up some sweet potatoes and put them to work. According to WebMD, sweet potatoes are full of calcium, potassium and vitamins A & C.sweet potato rounds collageBoth recipes are simple to prepare and contain a small handful of ingredients.

    But before we get to the recipes, I wondered…are there any foods or dishes that somehow eluded you in childhood that you discovered as an adult?

    CLICK TO PRINT A PDF of the guacamole recipe
    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the oven baked sweet potato chips recipe

    oven baked sweet potato chips & guacamole (oil free, vegan)

    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

    Cook Time: 45-60 minutes

    Keywords: bake raw appetizer snack side gluten-free nut-free oil free paleo soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian garlic avocado cilantro sweet potato Cinco de Mayo Mexican

    Ingredients

      For the Sweet Potato Chips

      • Sweet potatoes
      • Salt
      • Chili powder
      • Cumin

      For the Guacamole

      • 1 avocado
      • 1- 1½ tsp. fresh lime juice
      • 1-2 T cilantro
      • 1 small garlic clove, minced
      • 1 tsp. cumin
      • 1/8 tsp. salt
      • Freshly ground pepper

      Instructions

      For the Sweet Potato Chips

      Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

      Meanwhile, peel sweet potatoes, then slice into rounds about ¼” thick.

      Place rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with seasonings to your taste.

      Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hours, turning at least once until potatoes are cooked through.

      For the Guacamole

      Peel the avocado, remove pit and mash.

      Add remaining ingredients to the avocado and stir thoroughly.

      Best if served immediately.

      Recipe Notes

      Plan to prepare approximately 1-2 sweet potatoes per person depending on the size of the potato.

      Sweet potato chips are best when freshly cooked, but can be stored in the fridge and then reheated

      Avocados are ripe when their skins are black and they yield gently to the touch.

      A fork or potato masher work well to mash the avocado.

      Sometimes I add in diced onion and/or finely diced tomatoes to mix things up a bit.

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      oh-lay early spring salad

      2009-01-08 14.07.00It’s funny how much we talk about the weather, at least around these parts. Perhaps it’s because we’re all in it together, this waiting for spring to be spring.

      I check weather updates repeatedly as if somehow my multiple visits per day to our local weather station’s website will translate to warmer temperatures in the forecast. Even now my fingers are itching to check it once again. The calendar says it’s spring, but the temperatures seem reluctant to leave winter behind. I need to remind myself as I remind my children that it is the Lord who controls the weather and, thankfully, He is not bound by a calendar.

      spring inside
      lavender for our door :: wheatgrass courtesy of my youngest who bought it for my oldest :: a nod to another favorite past time

      At least I can bring spring inside our home and to our table. For our home, I’m switching out winter photographs, prints and decorations. (And if you’re looking for spring printables, here are a few free ones I found around the web: (Hello Spring by On Sutton Place; Hello Spring by Sandy Toes and Popsicles; Bicycles by Oh So Lovely blog)

      And for our table, I looking to grace it with recipes that incorporate springtime vegetables and my favorite minneola oranges which are only available for a short time in the stores where we live .

      early spring saladSo I was excited a few weeks back to have this recipe arrive in my inbox from Minimalist Baker.  I tried it out, but didn’t like the combination of the beans and quinoa with the lettuce, though I might have liked it better with kale (it’s a texture thing). So I made a few modifications to come up with the Oh-lay! Early Spring Salad featuring a pumpkin seed parmesan.

      CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Oh-lay Early Spring Salad recipe

      oh-lay early spring salad

      Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

      Cook Time: 1-2 minutes

      Serves: 4 people

      Ingredients

        For the Salad

        • Spring greens mix
        • Asparagus, roughly chopped
        • ½ – 1 cup minced cilantro
        • Oranges, diced
        • Avocado, diced
        • Pumpkin seed parmesan
        • Optional toppings:
        • Cucumber, diced
        • Roasted red pepper, sliced (organic is best)
        • Corn (organic is best)
        • Plantain chips, crumbled

        For the Pumpkin Seed Parmesan

        • ½ c. pumpkin seeds, raw or toasted
        • 3 tsp. nutritional yeast
        • 1 ½ tsp. olive oil
        • 1/8 tsp. salt
        • ¼ tsp. (heaping) cumin

        For the Orange-Lime Dressing

        • ¼ c. lime juice
        • 1 T orange juice concentrate + 1 T water
        • 3 T olive or avocado oil
        • ½ scoop 100% pure stevia
        • ½ tsp. cumin
        • ¼ tsp. chili powder
        • 1/8 tsp. salt
        • Dash pepper
        • 1 T cilantro, minced

        Instructions

        1. If toasting pumpkin seeds, place in a pot over high heat and toast until you hear the seeds begin to “pop”, about 1-2 minutes.

        2. Combine all pumpkin seed parmesan ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until roughly crumbled.

        3. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well until emulsified.

        4. Prepare all salad ingredients, combine with dressing and parmesan and serve.

        Recipe Notes

        Use about one large handful of salad greens per person.

        If serving to a crowd, combine the greens, asparagus and cilantro in a large salad bowl, but serve the remaining toppings and dressing on the side for guests to add as desired. That way if you have leftovers, the greens will remain fresh.

        Pumpkin seed parmesan will keep for at least one week if refrigerated in a jar.

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        cabbage rolls (vegan)

        100_1435

        Despite the warmer weather today, I know we’re not quite in the clear yet…a few weeks of wintery weather may still be upon us. Which means there will be many days left which call for the warming dishes of comfort food.

        Last week, I turned to my quarter-Polish roots to prepare a vegan twist on the traditional cabbage roll. For  the longest time, this was one dish that I never warmed up to until recently. I think it was the unusual color + size of the cabbage leaves that was a turn off.

        But ever since I learned more about my great-grandparents who emigrated from Poland to Canada in the late 1920’s, my appreciation (and apparently, appetite) for this part of my heritage has grown. nanpics

        Traditionally, cabbage rolls are prepared with ground pork, salt pork or ground beef combined with rice and onions. This recipe is based on the one my mother gave me, but I incorporated some coconut bacon to approximate the flavor of salt pork.

        Despite the length of prep and cook time, this dish is simple to prepare.

        cabbage rolls1

        So, what kind of dishes have you grown to love?

        CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the vegan cabbage rolls recipe
        CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the coconut bacon recipe

         vegan cabbage rolls

        Prep Time: 90 minutes

        Cook Time: 2-3 hours

        Keywords: bake saute entree gluten-free nut-free soy-free vegan vegetarian whole grain cabbage rice tomato sauce lentils

        Ingredients

        • 1 cabbage head, core removed
        • 1 c. brown rice (organic is best)
        • ½ c. brown lentils
        • 1 large onion, diced
        • 2 garlic cloves, minced
        • ¼ c. coconut bacon
        • 1 tsp. salt
        • Freshly ground pepper to taste
        • 3-4 cups tomato sauce

        For the Coconut Bacon (makes more than needed for the cabbage rolls- save the extra for other recipes!)

        • 2 cups large, flaked coconut, unsweetened
        • 3 T coconut aminos
        • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
        • ½ tsp. pure maple syrup
        • ¼ tsp salt

        Instructions

        Cook rice in 1 ¾ c. water until liquid is absorbed. In a separate pot, cook lentils in 1-1 ¼ c. water until tender.

        Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in dairy free butter until tender; set aside.

        To prepare cabbage leaves: place cabbage head in a large pot of boiling water. Use tongs to remove leaves one at a time as they become softened and loose (about 20-30 seconds between each leaf layer). Set aside.

        When rice and lentils are cooked, combine, then mix in coconut bacon and seasonings.

        Depending on the leaf size, spoon ¼-1/2 c. of rice/lentil mixture into each leaf. Fold in bottom and top and then roll closed.*

        Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with tomato sauce and place rolls seam side down into dish (you can do this as you roll each one). When all the rolls are prepared, pour remaining sauce over the rolls until they are almost completely covered.

        Cover with foil and place in a 325 degree F oven and bake for 2-3 hours, turning down the temperature if needed to prevent burning. The rolls are cooked when most of the tomato sauce is absorbed.

        for the Coconut Bacon

        Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Mixing by hand can help the liquids coat the coconut.

        Let the mixture stand a few minutes while oven preheats to further aid absorption.

        Spread coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

        Bake 7-8 minutes, remove pan from oven, stir, then return pan oven.

        Bake an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring once or twice to help coconut bacon cook evenly.

        Remove from oven and let cool.

        Recipe Notes

        Depending on the size of your cabbage leaves, you will need anywhere from 12-18 leaves for this recipe. You can use the remainder of the cabbage in other recipes.

        Cabbage rolls are formed similar to burritos or spring rolls. There are online tutorials of how to roll them if you are unsure of the correct method.

        Carefully monitor the level of the tomato sauce, especially as the cooking time approaches the two hour mark

        For the coconut bacon, you can use tamari or soy sauce in place of coconut aminos, but you will need to adjust the salt content. I like using coconut aminos because it is free of additives often found in soy sauce and tamari and it has a lower sodium content. Vitacost.com* offers a great price per bottle.

        I use Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke because it is one of the few liquid smoke brands that is free of sugar and other additives.

        *Clicking this link gives me credit to Vitacost’s Refer-a-Friend program

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        brussels sprout & “bacon” pizza (vegan)

        2009-01-01 14.13.33The weather finally is whispering spring. My children actually want to play outside. I wore shoes, not boots, outside for the first time since I can’t remember when (not counting my time in the DR). Today the boys rode their bikes to school. Yet I know we’re not in the clear yet…a spring snow is still a possibility.

        And here is a, perhaps unconventional, recipe; a nod to this betwixt and between time of eating winter’s comfort food while looking forward to spring’s fresh raw green. It’s a pizza featuring the warming heat of peppers and topped with raw Brussels sprouts and coconut bacon.

        Considering I spent much of my life convinced I did. not. like. Brussels sprouts (I even tried convincing my mum I was allergic to them), I find it humorous that I now try to find ways to work them into a recipe. Though I still am not a fan of a cooked sprout, I do enjoy them in the raw.

        If you enjoy the taste and texture of cooked Brussels sprouts, by all means roast away, but I like the contrast of warm pizza with cool greens and knowing that the heat hasn’t killed all their micro-nutrient goodness.

        The coconut bacon recipe comes from a recipe pack Angela at Oh She Glows offered with a pre-buy of her cookbook*; I tweaked it slightly. brusselsproutbaconpizza

        CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the brussels sprout & “bacon” pizza recipe

        CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the coconut bacon recipe

        Brussels sprout & “bacon” pizza (vegan)

        Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

        Cook Time: 30 minutes

        Serving size: 2 adults

         

        Ingredients

        For the Coconut Bacon (makes more than needed for the pizza – save the extra for other recipes!)

        • 2 cups large, flaked coconut, unsweetened
        • 3 T coconut aminos
        • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
        • ½ tsp. pure maple syrup
        • ¼ tsp salt

        For the Pizza

        • Pizza crust (here’s the one I use)
        • Hummus
        • Pizza sauce (the sauce I make for this)
        • Pine nuts (optional)
        • Sliced onion rounds
        • Sliced red peppers, organic are best
        • Sliced Greek pepperoncini
        • Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
        • Coconut bacon (recipe follows, next page)
        • Garlic powder & dried oregano

        Instructions

        for the Coconut Bacon

        1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Mixing by hand can help the liquids coat the coconut.
        2. Let the mixture stand a few minutes while oven preheats to further aid absorption.
        3. Spread coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
        4. Bake 7-8 minutes, remove pan from oven, stir, then return pan oven.
        5. Bake an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring once or twice to help coconut bacon cook evenly.
        6. Remove from oven and let cool.

        for the Brussels Sprout & “Bacon” Pizza

        1. If using a homemade crust, pre-bake it for five minutes.
        2. Spread on hummus, then sauce.
        3. Sprinkle garlic powder and dried oregano, then add pine nuts if using.
        4. Add onions, peppers and pepperoncini and bake in over for about 15 minutes or until crust is lightly brown and veggies are tender.
        5. Top with raw Brussels sprouts and sprinkle on coconut bacon. Serve.

        Recipe Notes

        • You can use tamari or soy sauce in place of coconut aminos, but you will need to adjust the salt content. I like using coconut aminos because it is free of additives often found in soy sauce and tamari and it has a lower sodium content. Here’s where I order it on vitacost.com.
        • I use Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke because it is one of the few liquid smoke brands that is free of sugar and other additives.
        • Although the bacon is soft when it first comes out of the oven, it hardens as it cools.
        • I like using red pepper hummus (especially Sabra’s Red Pepper Hummus) for the extra flavor dimension it offers, but feel free to experiment with your favorite kind. Hummus is key as it mimics the moisture and flavor cheese adds to pizza.
        • I use Jeff’s Naturals brand for my pepperoncini because it doesn’t contain the preservatives found in most brands of pepperoncini found in grocery stores. I get mine a natural foods grocery store.
        • Sprinkling on garlic powder and dried oregano helps boost flavor.
        • To judge quantity, I make my pizza in a 9-inch cake pan and use about ½ onion, one small red pepper, ½ cup of pepperoncini, 4-5 Brussels sprouts and ¼ cup coconut bacon. But feel free to adjust to your personal taste.
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        skillet pot pie (gluten free option)

        100_1058Every year the  Dairy Farmers of Canada release a free calendar featuring recipes starring one or more dairy products. The Milk Calendar is a fixture on my parents’ fridge. Even though they no longer eat dairy. But it’s an endearing tradition and I always look forward to flipping through it.

        While I cringe at the propaganda that continually tries to convince the public that eating dairy is a good and essential thing to do (it’s not), a few of the calendar’s recipes can be adapted to suit a vegan diet. One of the recipes my mum tried years ago was the Milk Calendar’s Turkey Pot Pie. It was an instant hit in our family.

        I’ve been making the same recipe for years for my own family, although I had taken out the turkey even before changing my diet. Once I eliminated dairy from diet, I further modified the recipe to incorporate plant-based milk and butter.

        Traditionally, I’ve made this recipe in a casserole dish, but decided to change things up and make it in one of our cast iron skillets.

        No skillet? No worries. Simply cook in a regular pot, then transfer the filling to a casserole dish and top with the crust. It’s as easy as…pie.

        spp

        CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Skillet Pot Pie Recipe

        Skillet Pot Pie

        Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

        Cook Time: 45-55 minutes

        Keywords: bake saute entree casserole gluten-free nut-free vegan sugar-free potato carrot peas mushroom

          For the Filling

          • 2 cups diced organic potatoes*
          • 2 cups sliced carrots
          • 1 medium-small onion, minced
          • 1 large garlic clove, minced
          • 1 cup diced mushrooms
          • 1/4 red pepper, finely minced
          • 1 cup peas
          • 1 cup organic corn
          • 1 tsp tapioca flour or organic cornstarch
          • scant 1/4 cup flour of your choice, gluten free if needed*
          • 1/2 cup unsalted veggie stock
          • 1 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk*
          • 1/2-3/4 cup water
          • 1/2 tsp. thyme
          • 1/2-1 tsp salt
          • dashes of pepper and turmeric

          For the Crust

          • 1 cup flour of your choice, gluten free if needed*
          • 2 tsp. baking powder
          • 1 T parsley
          • 1/2 c. of unsweetened dairy-free milk, chilled*
          • 1/4 tsp. salt
          • 1/3 c. organic dairy-free butter, chilled*
          • 1/2 tsp. xantham gum if using gluten-free flour
          *see Recipe Notes for details

          Instructions

          For the Filling

          Par boil diced/chopping potatoes and carrots until just fork tender. Par boiling saved cooking time and ensures the potatoes and carrots will cook properly.

          Meanwhile, in the skillet, saute onion and garlic in a little veggie stock until onions begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and red pepper and saute until the vegetables are tender. Add more stock as needed to prevent the liquid from boiling away.

          Stir in tapioca and flour until thoroughly mixed, then pour in stock, milk and water and bring to a boil while stirring frequently to prevent the flour from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

          Once the mixture boils, add thyme, salt, pepper and turmeric and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Cool the filling, then add potatoes, carrots, peas and corn.

          For the Crust

          Mix together the flour, baking powder, parsley and salt. Cut in chilled butter until the mixture has crumbs the size of peas. Pour in milk and gently stir to combine. Drop by the spoonful over the filling.

          To Bake

          Place skillet in an oven warmed to 375 degrees and bake 45-55 minutes or until the filling is warmed through and the crust is baked. To prevent the crust from burning, you might need to cover the skillet loosely with foil for the last 10-15 minutes of baking. Placing a large baking sheet on a rack below the skillet is recommended to catch any drips from the filling as it likes to bubble over the pan.

          Recipe Notes

          Using organic vegetables is always best, especially for the potatoes (due to pesticides) and corn (because of GMO). If using soy-based dairy substitutes, it’s best to use organic because of GMO.

          I found cooling the filling mixture before adding the potatoes, carrots, peas and corn helps the peas retain a bright green color instead of turning an unappealing grayish green.

          For the filling, I used organic brown rice flour and unsweetened organic soy milk. For the crust, I used equal parts organic brown rice flour and whole wheat pastry flour, unsweetened organic soy milk and Smart Balance organic dairy-free whipped buttery spread.

          Since the crust is unfussy (more of a biscuit, really), feel free to experiment with your favorite blend of flour. However, its best to add xantham gum if going completely gluten free.

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