throw back Thursday (on a Friday): popcorn

popcornLife is complicated.

Sometimes I think things that are meant to simplify it – ahem, technology – complicate it more. Way back when, before blogs and Facebook and Pinterest grew in popularity, finding a new recipe meant thumbing through a cookbook or recipe cards. Today, it’s possible to spend hours “googling” recipes and oogling mouth watering concoctions created by blessedly talented people. I spent 30 minutes last night just looking at meal planning ideas.

As much as I enjoy learning about new flavors and recipe creations and the best way to plan out meals ahead of time, sometimes I crave the simple things.

Like popcorn. With dairy free butter.

100_0719Nothing fancy, just quick, plain, simple.

Popcorn and I go way back…right from a little girl who was supposed to be in bed but at the smell of popcorn would pop out of bed and make an appearance downstairs. Popcorn is movies and late nights and special outings. It’s healthier that potato chips, fun to make and I still enjoy it when it’s a day old. (I think popcorn’s only downside is the mess.)

Popcorn is one of my “go to” snacks.

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Back in January, I posted about one of my other “go to” snacks. Go to snacks are essential to sticking with a particular way of eating, especially when you first make some changes. And though it is possible for a go to snack to be more complicated than a handful of raisins or a bowl of popcorn, I think the best go to snacks require little effort but are satisfying enough to tide you over to the next main meal.

So what is your favorite go to snack? Do you have a favorite popcorn story?

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.

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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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    vegan chocolate pudding (raw, gluten free, added sugar free)

    vegan chocolate pudding

    When you need a chocolate fix, you need this vegan chocolate pudding.

    It’s been one of my favorite go-to dessert recipes for years. The inspiration for it came from a bonus recipe pack for the Oh She Glows cookbook. It’s incredibly easy to whip up and, even better, is free of added sugars so it doesn’t give you the crash and burn that typically happens with desserts.

    When you first mix it up, it has the texture of pudding, but will take on the texture of a thick mousse once refrigerated. To keep a more pudding-like consistency, try adding your favorite unsweetened non-dairy milk a 1/4 cup at a time (I prefer unsweetened vanilla almond milk).

    A note of caution: If you are trying to lose weight, eat this recipe sparingly because avocado and full-fat coconut milk are heavy hitters in the fat department, even if it is plant-based fat. On the flip side, if you find yourself shedding too much weight from eating a low-fat, plant-based, carb-light diet, then by all means indulge away.

    Here’s the recipe for the vegan chocolate pudding, but if you want a little story I share along with is, scroll to the bottom as well.

     

    vegan chocolate pudding

     

    Vegan Chocolate Pudding (printable version below)

    Ingredients
    • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
    • 1 14.5 oz can full fat coconut milk
    • 2/3 c. date paste
    • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (try fair trade!)
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia powder
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 2 T almond butter (optional)
    • unsweetened non-dairy milk as needed
    Instructions
    1. Add date paste, breaking into small pieces to help with the blending.
    2. Add remaining ingredients (except nondairy milk),
    3. Blend ingredients until smooth, anywhere from 3-5 minutes.
    4. If too thick, add nondairy milk 1/4 cup at a time to achieve desired consistency.
    5. Eat immediately or place in refrigerator for later.
    Recipe Notes
    • If you can’t find date paste, you can make your own by soaking 3/4 cup of Medjool dates in warm water for 1-2 hours and then blending until smooth. In this case, it’s best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using.
    • An avocado that easily yields when gently pressed and is free of bruises works best.
    • Be sure to carefully read your stevia package to make sure it is pure as many stevia products are a blend and may include undesired ingredients. I bought my stevia at Trader Joe’s and it came with its own scoop. One hundred percent pure stevia is potent so the scoop is tiny, less than 1/8 tsp.
    • I use roasted almond butter in my recipe, but you also can use peanut butter or leave it out completely. If you want to keep it raw, use raw almond butter.
    • This recipe thickens as it chills, achieving a mousse-like texture. Adding nondairy milk (I like unsweetened vanilla almond milk best) helps return it to a pudding. This pudding should be consumed within 3 days of eating and must be kept refrigerated.

     

    Vegan Chocolate Pudding
    Prep Time
    10 mins
    Total Time
    10 mins
     

    An essential recipe for your vegan kitchen, this vegan chocolate pudding is easy to make and perfect for satisfying your chocolate craving without any added sugar.

    Course: Dessert, Snack
    Keyword: vegan chocolate pudding, vegan dessert recipe, sugar free dessert
    Author: Andrea Anderson
    Ingredients
    • 1 ripe avocado pitted and peeled
    • 1 14.5 oz can full fat coconut milk
    • 2/3 c. date paste
    • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder try fair trade!
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia powder
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 2 T almond butter optional
    • unsweetened non-dairy milk as needed
    Instructions
    1. Add date paste, breaking into small pieces to help with the blending.
    2. Add remaining ingredients (except nondairy milk),
    3. Blend ingredients until smooth, anywhere from 3-5 minutes.
    4. If too thick, add nondairy milk 1/4 cup at a time to achieve desired consistency.
    5. Eat immediately or place in refrigerator for later.
    Recipe Notes

    *See post for extra tips

    A sweet chocolate story…

    Whenever I had to do a research project for school, I always leaned toward more sober subjects, like “why suntanning is bad for you” or “pollution in the environment.” Why I didn’t think I could combine my fondness for science with something fun like…chocolate…is beyond me.

    My oldest son, on the other hand, gets it. Several times in the past couple of years, he has checked this book out from the library.  The first time was for a research project in second grade and just for fun after that. I like his style.

    reese
    when he dressed as his favorite character – Willy Wonka – for school

    And reading through that book, it suddenly clicked with me why chocolate’s health benefits are  touted…it’s a vegetable! “Eat your veggies” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

    Of course, chocolate stops being a health food when paired with sugar and milk. Which is why this vegan chocolate pudding is the answer to keeping your taste buds and your body happy.