Sunday, January 29, 2012

Nondairy Cheese Experiments

I love testing out homemade nut cheese recipes. Here are two more I tried from a library book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten-Free Cooking by Julieanna Hever and Beverly Lynn Bennett.

The top slices are a cheddar made from cashews and a fresh red bell pepper. I thickened the mixture with agar powder (a type of seaweed) to make a firm, sliceable cheese.  I used it for sandwiches and quesadillas. The bottom is the mellow jack cheese which I didn't bother thickening because I planned to use it for pizza. This one was more labor intensive because you had to make almond milk first and use some of the almond pulp (and tofu) for the cheese.

I'm really enjoying using a simple tofu feta for topping pizza. I crumble up soft tofu and mix it with lemon juice, a tiny bit of nutritional yeast, some dried oregano, some white miso, and garlic. Here it is on a Greek-style pizza with tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives, and fresh oregano on a whole wheat crust.

I'm still working my way through Joanne Stepaniak's The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. I have many favorites from that book including the Rich Tofu Cream Cheez with almond butter, Spicy Herb and Tomato Cheez spread (thanks to the commenter who mentioned this recipe - it is great for quesadillas!), the Pickle, Tahini, and Tomato Sandwiches, the Florentine Ricotta Pie, and her Baked Macaroni and Cheez seen below.

A few other of my favorite nondairy cheeses include Ann Gentry's Cashew Cheddar Cheese, her Tofu Chevre from Vegan Family Meals, and Nava Atlas' Smoky Cheddar Cheese Spread.

Any other great nondairy cheese recipes out there? I'd love recommendations of more to try!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Talin Market

I managed to get to my favorite enormous international food store. I could spend hours in Talin Market finding all sorts of interesting food products. I recommend it to everyone visiting the Albuquerque area - it is on the corner of Central and Louisiana.

Here's what I bought this weekend.

I buy a lot of rice noodles at Talin. I use the really thin vermicelli rice noodles for spring rolls and the thicker ones are good in Asian soups. I've never had jackfruit before but I've seen recipes where it is cooked in barbecue sauce and after cooking it turns into shreds. The watercress on the bottom was 88 cents! I always buy a few Goya items from the Cuban aisle - this time it is pink beans and white hominy pieces. My favorite thing in this photo is the miso - the Cold Mountain Kyoto white miso is only $3.85 and has half the sodium of other white misos.

The bottom right shows the baby bok choy I always buy - it was $1.30 a lb. They actually have about 10 different types of bok choy in their produce section. They also have a huge selection of mushrooms including enoki and maitake - I bought shiitake and oyster mushrooms. That big bag of Thai basil was only $1.59 and Bubbles the rabbit has been happily munching on that. My most unique find was shallot powder which I'm looking forward to testing out in my non-dairy cheese sauces. I forgot to include the fresh shallots in the photo - they always have bags for under $1 a lb.

Talin Market also has a web site where you can check out their ethnic cooking classes and read their blog which keeps you up to date on when lychees are in season and what to do with monster fruit. There are signs at the entrance asking you to not take photographs inside or I'd have a zillion photos of all the cool stuff.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Favorites of 2011

Here are the things that made me happy in 2011 in no particular order.

Kale chips I make these 2 or 3 times a week. My current favorite recipe involves curly kale, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and Frontier Co-op's Garlic Bread Seasoning.

Date Sugar I buy this at iHerb and just love it over my morning oatmeal or sprinkled on top of muffins before baking. It is basically just powdered dates and a little goes a long way.

My New Crockpot I wasn't sure I'd ever use this but now that I've discovered I can finally cook dried beans at this altitude without using a pressure-cooker, I'm in love. (I'm at around 7000 feet and I put pre-soaked beans at HIGH in the crockpot until tender.) I bought this model although currently it is about $20 more than I paid for it last summer.

Koshary This Egyptian street food seen above consists of rice, lentils, macaroni and chili sauce topped with caramelized onions. I used this recipe from One Arab Vegan.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer I especially love this book because it gives a voice to many different people in all sides of this issue. I  bought extra copies to give to friends. It really makes you think and I fervently hope the rumors are true that it will be made into a documentary.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins Who knew a recipe that was vegan and oil-free could be so wonderful? I like to use dark chocolate bars chopped up. This recipe is from the plant-based dietitian Julieanna Hever and is available here (scroll down).

Pizza Without Cheese The first time I ordered this at a pizza place I figured it was going to be just awful. I was quite pleasant surprised and I still haven't had a bad cheeseless pizza out. I just order the pizza combo with the most vegetables and tell them to leave off the cheese.

Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau  I always notice the colors of my meals and this book includes many delicious recipes in all color categories. I am looking forward to making more recipes from it soon.

Growing My Own Herbs Indoors I keep buying those big basil plants at Trader Joe's and they are still alive on my kitchen table. I also have some lemon balm and oregano doing well inside but I still can't manage to keep rosemary alive. Honestly most of the herbs go to my pet house rabbit Bubbles but I hope to increase the number of plants in 2012 so we can enjoy them as well.

My New Breville Juicer This was a Christmas present and so far I'm using it daily. I am not yet making a lot of combos of vegetable juices because I'm so obsessed with citrus combos. Oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and kumquats (I don't peel these) are all good alone or mixed together.

Massaged Kale Salad I love to use a combo of tahini, lemon, soy sauce, and garlic to mix with fresh kale for an incredible salad.

The Chef and the Dietitian videos These videos are funny and enthusiastic and promote a healthy plant-based diet. Best of all, I've been greatly enjoying all their recipes. I wish they'd get a show on tv! HERE is a link to their episode guide by recipe.

Dr. Fuhrman's Holiday Challenge I lost about 6 pounds this holiday season by sticking to a lowfat whole foods diet heavy on the fruits and vegetables. Dr. Fuhrman's Member Center (it was free for the holiday challenge) had lots of great recipes and support.

Storage Containers from Costplus World Market I've been collecting these handy containers for my future pantry - they are nice and heavy and seal well. The large container will easily hold over 5 lbs of dried beans. Their web site does not feature them but check at your local store. The photo below shows them along with some creamed kale I made from the Whole Foods Health Starts Here program.

Oil and Vinegar Store in Santa Fe It seems that every time I go to the City Different there is a new and fun foodie destination. I've been meaning to get back to this store to buy a few of their delicious flavored balsamic vinegars. Check my blog post here for photos and information about the store..

Homemade Coconut Milk Ice Cream We mix one can of light coconut milk with agave nectar and whatever fruits or flavorings we have on hand and put them in my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. This recipe helped us survive the hot desert summer intact.

Panda Soy Yarn This isn't food-related but I hesitated about trying vegan yarns thinking I wouldn't be able to find what I like, especially in sock yarn. Panda Soy, a blend of bamboo, soy, and elastic nylon, is an incredible soft and elastic yarn. Crystal Palace recently discontinued it but I managed to buy a lot on sale. The Orzival Socks below are knit in Panda Soy in Poppy Red. Another plant-based yarn I liked a lot was Knit One Crochet Too's Wick (a thick polypropylene sock yarn). I continue to test out plant-based yarns on my knitting blog.


Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead This year we finally watched Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives but I thought the most inspiring documentary was Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. The movie chronicles the changes in several people's lives as a result of a medically supervised fruit and vegetable juice fast. I don't think anything I've seen shows the amazing powers of fruits and vegetables to fight disease as well as this movie. The story of Paul the truckdriver in the second half of the documentary is so compelling. This documentary is free on Hulu.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bunnies on Blogs

Recently the PostPunkKitchen listed Bunnies on Blogs as one of the Top 100 Vegan Trends of 2011. Two really cute bunnies on vegan blogs were mentioned but I wanted to give a shout out to my wonderful pet rabbit Bubbles. Large white rabbits (especially those with pink/ruby eyes) are pretty common but unfortunately they are virtually unadoptable. They're just not as cute as the popular dwarf rabbit breeds you see in pet stores. One House Rabbit Society chapter even offers to pay the rabbit's veterinary expenses for life if you adopt one of their large white rabbits but most languish in shelters. It is really a shame because their personality is so sweet and mellow.

Bubbles apparently started out as a breeder in a feed store. At some point she was attacked by an animal and she is missing a toe. She was even in Petco for a few months unsuccessfully living in a large aquarium but no one wanted her. She was a few years old when we adopted her and she adapted quickly to the life of a spoiled house rabbit.

Bubbles is not completely white - she does get some darker fur on her head mainly in the winter months. She loves mornings the best and waits until we wake up. The minute our feet hit the floor she comes over and sits on our feet so we have to pet her before we can get out of bed. I spend a few hours every night on the floor with her reading or knitting.  She also loves her massage time (HERE is a video from the San Diego House Rabbit Society which shows how.)

If you are seeking a pet rabbit, check out the House Rabbit Society's comprehensive web site. And when it comes time to choose a companion, consider adopting a large white bunny. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Few New Year's Eve Recipes

I'm terribly excited about our upcoming return to Colorado because I'll be able to start doing more parties and fun dinners. (Our current house doesn't have any parking and is really small.)  I'm already buying more dishes and holiday decor items in anticipation. We still haven't found a house yet but I'm especially hoping for a nice deck for some outdoor parties.

Here are some appetizers I made for New Year's Eve this year. I just love making a meal out of appetizers. I wanted to keep everything as healthy as possible and the only processed items I bought were the Daiya non-dairy cheese and the pitas.

I did kale chips, the Chef and the Dietitian's Chocolate Fundue with bananas and apples, mini pizzas made from the Trader Joe's mini whole wheat pita breads, the Chef and the Dietitian's Smoky Chipotle Corn Salsa, and the Chef and the Dietitian's homemade oil-free Tortilla Chips.

I did my usual kale chips - kale pieces mixed with Frontier's (no-salt) Garlic Bread Seasoning, nutritional yeast, and a touch of lemon juice baked on a foil pan at 250 until crisp. No need for salt and oil!

The Chocolate Fundue was the hit of the night. I'd never tried raw cacao before and could only find raw cacao nibs so to powder them I put them in my coffee grinder. They taste like a milder version of cocoa powder with a touch of roasted coffee beans. Yum! The Fundue was a mixture of the cacao, pureed dates, peanut butter and vanilla.

The bean salsa was nice and hearty and the tortilla chips were indeed crispy from spritzing them with water before baking. I split the mini pitas to make them crispier and topped them with tomato sauce and either sauteed portobellos or bell peppers.

I just discovered the Chef and the Dietitian's videos after discovering Julieanna Hever's wonderful pumpkin chocolate chip muffins which were the hit of my Thanksgiving feast. I plan to get both their books (Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition and Unprocessed) for more healthy plant-based recipe ideas.
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