Book Review – “Vegan Chocolate” by Fran Costigan

 

 

A couple of weeks ago Fran Costigan, author of Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, made a book promotion appearance at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, which I luckily attended—luckily because I was able to sample some of her chocolate treats.

You might think, “Hey, wait a minute. Isn’t this blog about eating healthy?” Well, yes it is; but, occasionally I want to make a special treat and this book is an excellent resource for dairy free sweets made with organic ingredients. There are several aspects I particularly like about the vegan book: the recipes, the photos, the cooking and baking tips, the ingredients section, and the resource and bibliography sections.

There are some great “basic” recipes in this book, too. I was very happy to see the recipe for Basic Thick Cashew Cream which is like a thick pastry cream made with cashews instead of milk and eggs; another, White Chocolate Cream Filling is made with tofu as a base ingredient, which sounds delicious and healthier than any filling recipe I’ve ever seen. The truffles section is also great, because Fran uses different types of fats in her truffles. You can try these delicious creamy bites made with coconut oil, olive oil, nut milk, or her basic thick cashew cream. The following are the names of a few of them: Spicy Ginger Truffles, Chai-Spiced Truffles, Bittersweet Cashew Cream Truffles and Aztec Truffles—oh yeah!

The book’s layout called my attention because it has lots . . . → Read More: Book Review – “Vegan Chocolate” by Fran Costigan

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Indian Flavors Spiced Sweet Potatoes

 

 

When theRecipeRedux came up with a challenge to do something with spices, I knew it had to be something with sweet potatoes. Fall is the season when it feels right to be eating sweet potatoes. These spuds are dense in both texture and flavor which makes them especially satisfying; and topped with a winning combo of spices you just can’t go wrong. Another equally delicious dish I’ve made is Indian spiced Cauliflower. While these cooked dishes can be a little time consuming, they are definitely worth the wait—all good things are worth the wait. Aren’t they?

The fun thing about cooking is that sometimes you can sometimes discover a great combination. Today for example, I was thinking that Mexican and East Indian food fuse together well. Both of the cuisines use similar spices and flavorings like onions, garlic, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, and coriander. And while Indian food is often served with yogurt, Mexican food is often topped with sour cream, which is similar in taste and texture to yogurt minus the fat. And a type of food common to both Mexican and Indian cuisines is the flat bread; the Mexican tortilla, and the Indian chapatti.

Go ahead and make these flavorful spiced sweet potatoes, spoon the spuds up inside a tortilla or chapatti, top it with yogurt, guacamole, and cilantro leaves and enjoy. The dish is vegan and vegetarian friendly, and without the tortilla is gluten free. For added protein add some cooked beans, tofu or tempeh. . . . → Read More: Indian Flavors Spiced Sweet Potatoes

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Matchstick Zucchini

 

 

 

“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

Have you every noticed that there seems to be a day or a month for just about every thing? There’s Take Your Kid to Work Day, Secretary’s Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day. There are also month long celebrations, too. October happens to be National Pasta Month, so along with the Recipe Redux I am ready to cook up some pasta.

Let’s face it, pasta has been getting a bad rap lately. With the craze of the Paleo diet that eliminates starch, the new CDC diet recommendations calling for more vegetables, and more people eating a gluten free diet, I could be wrong, but it seems to me that there is less space for carbs like pasta. Well, pasta is great! Why give up something that is so enjoyable to eat? Really. Whole grain pasta is a good source of tryptophan that helps convert to seritonin, which is key to fighting insomnia, depression, and irritability. And whole grains help a person to feel full longer.

My solution is to have the pasta and eat it too. Add some vegetables into the mix for a more balanced diet. In this way you still get the wonderful taste pasta, with all the of benefits of whole grains and vegetables.

This recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca . . . → Read More: Spaghetti Puttanesca with Matchstick Zucchini

Rainbow Chopped Salad

 

 

 

School is out and we are officially in summer. Actually it’s been out for a couple of weeks already, but it’s only just now sunk into my mind. This is the time of year to shed the extra pounds that were put on over winter. There’s no need to diet, really. By eating more fresh vegetable salads, fresh fruit and less bread, and getting out to walk, bike, or swim more often, the extra pounds fall off. The summer heat helps, too, because the body enjoys fresh foods and drinks even more.

Today in Tempe, Arizona, it’s 109°, about 48° C. Living in the desert I’ve learned to plan the day. Wake up early, ideally about 6:30 – 7:30, but in practice more like 7-8, and take a walk early because later on it will be far too hot. I also do my shopping early in the morning, or late evening around 8:00 p.m.—after the sun has gone down and it’s cooler outside.

Living in a hell hole desert you appreciate light cold soups like tomato gazpacho, vichyssoise, and avocado gazpacho; and salads with a mix of veggies and protein, like: Lipsmacking Orange Salad, Arugula, Shrimp and Watermelon, and Roasted Bell Pepper with Tuna and Orzo. Who in their right mind would want to turn on the oven? It’s time to enjoy fresh cold foods straight out of the fridge.

Andalucia, an area in southern Spain, is a region of the country where the weather can . . . → Read More: Rainbow Chopped Salad

Chai Tea Biryani

 

 

 

It’s National Vegetarian Week, and I’m doing my bit to create awareness about the benefits of eating less meat by sharing my recipe for vegan chai tea biryani rice.

There are many reasons why people become vegetarians, but probably the 3 most common reasons are: for better health, compassion for the animals, and to better the health of the planet.

According to USVegWeek.com “Nine billion land animals (and billions more aquatic animals) are raised and killed for food each year in the United States—that’s more than 1 million animals every hour.” There are several things wrong with this figure: It’s an unnecessary waste animal life, water resources, and land, and it’s unsustainable.

One book that I can recommend you to read about the unsustainability of the current practice of harvesting animals is Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman. This book is written for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

Whether we eat meat or not, by making a few changes in our diet, in the direction of eating less meat, we will be doing better for our own health, the well-being of animals and for the health of the planet.

This week the friendly women at theRecipeReDux challenged the group members to come up with a recipe that uses tea–like that was really a challenge. For me it had to be something with chai tea, or a variation of it. This biryani rice dish uses chai tea as the base liquid and it’s delicious! . . . → Read More: Chai Tea Biryani

Vegetable Shu Mai – #SundaySupper

 

Happy Mother’s Day! When I signed up to take part in the Supper Sunday Movement’s Mother’s Day event, I knew right away that I wanted to make Shu Mai! And it gets better because I’m making vegetable shu mai!

A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for my favorite pork shu mai and I believe that some of my vegetarian and vegan readers were disappointed with that choice. Beef, pork, and poultry do occasionally appear on my plate, but I prefer with vegetable dishes most often. So today’s recipe is for all you veggie lovers out there. This recipe is also to celebrate my mother on Mother’s Day. Years ago my mother and I signed up and took cooking lessons together at Montana Mercantile, in Brentwood, California. It was a lot of fun taking the classes together and even more fun getting into the kitchen and trying out all the recipes we learned. We learned French cuisine, Italian, and Chinese. My favorite at the time was Chinese—I loved making and eating spring rolls and dumplings, soups and stir-fries. I still do, but not as often.

My Mom is an excellent cook too! Both she and my dad loved having the whole family—eight of us including my grandmother—sit down for long drawn out Sunday evening meal. She’d spend all day in the kitchen making the meal with all the trimmings, she’d put out the special china and crystal glasses and we have memorable meal. The food . . . → Read More: Vegetable Shu Mai – #SundaySupper

Almond Milk Ice-Cream Sandwiches

 

 

 

Last week after making a luscious orange cream sauce with cashew milk called “Nothin’ Says Spring Better ‘n Berries ‘n Cream,” I decided to present one more recipe for the Spring Fling dairy free recipe contest sponsored byby ®So Delicious.

You may remember that back in March I made some flourless cashew butter chocolate chip cookies that I was raving about. Well, I really wanted to try the Vanilla Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert made from almond milk by ®So Delicious, in an ice-cream sandwich. This time I made cookies with almonds. They are they same delicious dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free and vegan cookies, as the cashew butter cookies I made, but these are made with almonds. Until I started making flourless cookies I would never in my lifetime have imagined that flourless cookies could taste so good! But why not? Macaroons are good, and these are similar to macaroons—with egg, sugar and almonds. And by the way, if you have never tried a macaroon you must put that on your bucket list.

Another reason that these cookies are particularly good on these dairy-free cream sandwiches is that they are soft and chewy, perfect for biting into. From the time you sink your teeth into the cookie it’s a smooth ride down to the delicious frozen almond milk and then that pleasing thought comes to mind: ”Yeah, that’s what I wanted.”

If you’ve never had a dairy-free frozen dessert, or “ice-cream,” let me assure you that frozen almond milk, . . . → Read More: Almond Milk Ice-Cream Sandwiches

Homemade Tofu Bacon

 

 

Are you a tofu lover, hater or are you altogether indifferent to it? Check all of the above for me. I find that it really depends on how the tofu is made. If I were to eat tofu straight out of the package I’d think it was dull and insipid, and pre-marinated tofu can be overpowering and too salty. The best option is to make your own marinade and then eat it plain as in this spicy marinated tofu, oven roasted, or grilled.

A couple of months back I posted a recipe for tempeh bacon, which I make all the time to use in sandwiches. Yesterday I had to cook some tofu before it spoiled and I got to thinking, why not make tofu bacon? Tofu bacon is a very healthy alternative to real bacon and it tastes good. OK bacon lovers it’s not bacon—that’s true. But it tastes pretty darn good and it’s a very good source of protein when you want to eat lunch but you don’t want to eat luncheon meats. It only takes 5 to 10 minutes to get the marinade made, and once it’s fully saturated in the sauce, cooking time on the grill or in the frying pan is just 6 minutes.

Tofu is high in protein and calcium, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free (if using gluten-free Tamari) and low in fat and cholesterol. And as far as the taste being bland, well…there is a remedy for that—it’s called marinade. Like the song . . . → Read More: Homemade Tofu Bacon

Gourmet Pizza with Ahh …mazing Cauliflower Pizza Crust

 

Today’s recipe is for a gourmet pizza with an ahh …mazing cauliflower pizza crust. A few weeks ago after I posted Coca—a Healthy Pizza, one of my Facebook friends sent me a this link for cauliflower crust pizza. I’d never even heard that you could do that, but I thought it might be worth looking into. It turns out that this vegetable crust isn’t such a big secret. It seems like everyone is making this crust and someone just forgot to tell me about it. That’s why I’m telling you about it, in case someone also forgot to tell you about it, too. But look at the list of bloggers and cooks who are in on the secret: TheLuckyPennyBlog, SavoryLotus, Hungry Girl, Detoxinista, Recipe Girl, Paula Deen, and many others.

Cauliflower pizza crust is also much faster to make than regular pizza crust. My Tex-Mex pie takes about 3 hours with a regular crust. With this vegetable crust I can get the whole thing done start to finish in just 1 hour and 15 minutes. Now that’s what call progress. And talk about healthy. This pizza earns 5 stars for My Healthy Eating Habits. This recipe is vegetarian/vegan, diary-free, grain-free, great for weight watchers, and other dieters, and the taste is excellent. And if you like meat you can have your pizza and eat it too. Just like traditional pizzas you can top top it with tomato sauce and pepperoni, ham, sausage, whatever you like, knowing you’re doing . . . → Read More: Gourmet Pizza with Ahh …mazing Cauliflower Pizza Crust

My Healthy Black Bean Burger

 

This morning I was in the kitchen making my healthy black bean burgers, enjoying the company of my son Gabriel, and reflecting on how different things will be once he goes into the Coast Guard. As a student, he was able to come home during summer and over the winter holiday break. I’m afraid that being in the service will make it more difficult for him to get home. At least I can enjoy his presence until March… and there is always Skype. What a great invention!

It’s been a big week for us, and my healthy black bean burger was just a small part of it. My brother, sister-in-law Mary, and nephew Brandon came out from California to see their daughter and sister, Miley, graduate from the Phoenix Fire Academy and officially join the ranks of the Scottsdale Fire Department. This is no small feat, especially considering that Miley just turned 20-years old in October, and she and 9 males were chosen from the 1400 who applied. You can imagine how happy we all are for her. She is focused and determined and she earned her place.

So what did I make for dinner graduation night? Black Bean Burgers? No. It was jambalaya—a great party food because it’s simple to make and it everyone loves it. Black bean burgers are easy too, but you would probably want to make them ahead of time and then just re-heat the patties. But I did enjoy a burger for lunch . . . → Read More: My Healthy Black Bean Burger