Archive for Gluten Free

Chewy Cranberry Crunch Energy Bars

chewy cranberry crunch energy bars

These bars have a crunchy, sweet and creamy thing going on that was totally inspired by an energy bar I found at Home Goods. Yes, of all places.

I swore I would re-create that energy bar at home one day, and I finally did. Of course, I added my own flare to it and came up with what I call an adult version of a rice crispy treat that will give your teeth a workout. But in a good way! I really do like to chew. Most vegans still do ;)

Pre-packaged protein bars can really break the bank after a while. Not to mention they have a long list of ingredients especially that whatchamacallit ingredient that happens to still be vegan, but not ideal. I’m growing tired of falling into that trap, so I’ve been on a mission to make so many things at home this year. I’m saving money and I’m in control of the ingredients.

Ya know, most of the stuff is SO EASY to make. It’s a shame we all got duped. It really is.  Sometimes I wish I lived among friendly vegan neighbors who all made their own stuff with simple ingredients and we all swapped. There are quite a few things to make at home but you just can’t do it all at once. I’m noooo Martha. I guess I’ll keep dreaming because it seems to me the only thing some neighbors swap… are partners… bah dun dun dun if you know what I mean. Aaand we ain’t goin’ there. Ever.

Because I’m making my own everything these days, I have to tackle the mindset just like I do each grocery trip, where I try something new I haven’t tried before. This is the same way I transitioned into veganism… each week I tried a new vegan recipe until I had so many that I liked, I couldn’t even keep count. Now, each week I intend to make something homemade rather than buy pre-made and so far I have tackled a lot!

I say, just put your mind to it and walk in that direction. Intention draws experiences toward you and builds momentum. When you put your mind to the fact that you will be vegan, vegan people, places, things start showing up for you. Then before you know it, 8 years go by. It’s pretty amazing.

About this chunky crunchy energy bar…

I soaked my almonds just because those can be tougher to chew when raw, plus I leave them whole in this recipe. I left the millet unsoaked because I wanted insane crunch. And insane crunch I got.

I don’t have but a few taste testers. My husband gave these an enthusiastic thumbs up. Just looking at the picture makes me want to make these again. I only really share successful recipes, but everyone has their own tastes and opinions.

Definitely let me know about your experience with this recipe. I also want to hear about the things you are making at home instead of spending oodles of cash on at Whole Foods.

Please share!

chewy cranberry crunch energy bars

Chewy Cranberry Crunch Energy Bars

 

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of Almonds (Soaked Overnight)
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Millet (I didn’t soak these. I wanted the extreme crunch)
  • 1 Cup Rice Puffs  – (I used Enjoy Life’s brand Crunchy Rice)
  • 1 Scoop Garden of Life- Raw Protein Powder, Vanilla flavor
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Butter Melted (30 seconds in the nuker will do it)
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 Tbs Brown Rice Syrup
  • 3 Tbs Dried Cranberries
  • 2 Tbs Raw Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
  • 2 Tbs Sunflower Seeds

Directions

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Line your pre-sectioned brownie pan with saran wrap and pour mixture into each square. I layer another sheet of saran wrap over everything and press the mixture into the pan using my hands, this way my fingers don’t get stuck to the sticky bars. They also pop out easier. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. These bars need to stay refrigerated or cold until ready to eat, to keep their shape.

Enjoy

Christa

~The Karmatarian

 

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Mandarin Coconut Dressing Over Spring Salad

Mandarin Coconut Dressing

Let me tell you about a fabulous little discovery, which is totally not news to some of you. I discovered coconut flour!!! Yes!!!

Coconut flour is something that I heard about long time ago. The seed was planted and then I just had to buy some. And there it sat…. waiting in my pantry… waiting… and waiting. I didn’t really know what to do with it. I figured I would get around to it. Well. Let me tell you. Now that I have, this stuff is amazing!

There are not many things I eat these days that don’t make me stop and think… “what is this doing for me?” “What are the benefits?”. With coconut flour, you get a low carb, gluten free, fiber packed, low glycemic protein boost… along with lauric acid – an immune booster. Coconut flour is simply coconut meat, dried and ground into flour form! A little goes a long way, as it soaks up moisture quickly and expands. There is a texture that is notable. You can’t ignore it, but I like it! You’ll adjust. Just be careful. Sometimes it can be a bit dry. There are ways to get around that.

Check out this fantastic page over at Nuts.com because there you can find out more information about coconut flour and have it delivered right to your front door!

There are many ways to try coconut flour, you can bake with it, thicken sauces, bind foods and so on.  Do the research upon baking as it does act different than other flours.

Oh! Let me share something that will rock your vegan gluten free coconut flour baking world! Forget the eggs! So many coconut flour recipes call for lots and lots of eggs (just stab me in the heart… that’s easier to handle) due the dry nature of the flour. Two words – AQUAFABA BABY! If you don’t know what aquafaba is, I suggest you Google it. It’s the vegan miracle of 2015! Egg replacer extraordinaire. Ah the creativity of the vegan kitchen. Love it!

Right now, there are a few things I like to do with coconut flour. I add a small amount to my green smoothie to thicken and add bulk. The extra fiber keeps me fuller longer. I bind protein bites and bars with coconut flour and I also made an amazing two ingredient coconut pudding that my family went crazy for the other night. It took all of 3 minutes to make. I decided that it should be my next post since I’m on a coconut kick. It’s so simple that it almost feels silly to post about it, but just wait. It changed my life last week ;) It could change yours too.

Let’s talk about salads and how I incorporated coconut flour for a healthy boost. Being that Spring is here, my salads are changing with the season. I like my salads lighter, fruitier and sweeter this time of year. I always prefer no oil dressing and I usually, most often times, make my own. It’s too EASY with a Vitamix!

Right now, we have Mandarin oranges coming out the Wazoo! Don’t you? Take advantage of these while you can. I am pretty happy that my son loves these mandarins because I couldn’t get a steady flow of vitamin C into this kid to save my life. He is quite picky. Or, he just likes to give me a hard time.

mandarin orange

Mandarin orange slices

I decided to make myself a quick dressing using a few of these mandarins along with white balsamic, that like the coconut flour, has also been sitting in my pantry… just waiting.

This turned out fantastic! Use more or less coconut flour depending on your consistency preference. Creamy is relative, because I wouldn’t call this smooooth creamy… I would call this a textured creamy. But I know what it’s doing for me and it tastes great to boot!

This is a recipe for about one to three servings. For every 2 tablespoons of coconut flour you get 5 grams of fiber, 8 carbs and 2 grams of protein, 2 grams fat. Coconut flour is also high in Iron. For 2 tablespoons it’s 10% of the daily value. I see why athletes are going crazy for coconut flour.

Mandarin Coconut Dressing

 Mandarin Coconut Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 Mandarin Oranges
  • 1/4 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Coconut Flour (start with 1 Tbs. I used 2, but think most people would prefer 1 to 1 + 1/2)
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave or  1/2 Tablespoon of Agave 5
  • Dash of Sea Salt

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Blend on high until smooth. Adjust salt and consistency.

Spring Salad

Ingredients

  • A few handfuls of Power Greens such as a blend of Baby Spinach, Baby Kale, Red and Green Chard
  • Chickpeas
  • Pistachios
  • Fresh Raspberries
  • Cooked and Cooled Red Quinoa
  • Favorite type of Sprouts

Directions

Toss the above ingredients in the desired quantity and top with fresh made Mandarin Coconut Dressing!

Enjoy!

Please share your Spring salad and dressing ideas with me. I’d love to hear them!

Christa

~The Karmatarian

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Spinach Pesto Portobellos with Cranberry and Mint Quinoa Salad

Spinach Pesto Mushroom with Cranberry Mint Quinoa Salad

Alright, Alright…. I know you are tired of seeing that Turkey rescue post every time you come to my blog. My friends, you have spoken, I have heard you… and I am back. Yes, I ditched this blog. For many reasons. I really didn’t intend for that to happen, but it did. I will fill you in about the soul searching journey I have been on this year so far, and my new take on veganism. That’s for my next post. Right now, let’s eat…

Spinach pesto portobello mushrooms with cranberry and mint quinoa salad. This was our delicious dinner yesterday! I threw this together pretty fast. Don’t you just love when that happens!? I really liked this combo. Try it and be sure to let me know what you think.

I haven’t made portobello pizzas in a long time. I usually like them with red sauce as in my other mushroom pizza recipe on the blog. I tend not to do pesto too often because of the large amount of basil needed.  Basil costs a lot it seems, and it goes bad quickly for me. Maybe it’s just me? I don’t buy it too often. I prefer to grow it, but I don’t have any right now. I always have a huge tub of fresh spinach on hand, so I thought I would try a spinach pesto. This one is not fat free, it contains olive oil.

Before I share the recipe, let me tell you where I’m at with oil right now. The cleaner I eat, the more obvious it is that my body doesn’t like certain oils. Canola, Sunflower and Safflower oil for sure. I can feel the inflammation take hold. Gee, I wonder… could it be all the GMOs and the fact that I’ve eaten it my whole life? Manufacturers put in in EVERYTHING!! No more of that! I read all labels now and avoid canola and sunflower as best I can. I made a commitment a while back to cook whole foods plant based style, and that is… little salt, no sugar and no oil, nothing processed. I do this 4 nights per week. I have been doing this steadily for about a year and a half now. The other few days of the week I like to have fun. There might be a little oil, or lightly processed vegan foods combined with whole foods. These recipes happen to be more fun to post. Anyone can pick up a Forks Over Knives cook book. This is my go-to book! I’ll admit, it was intimidating at first, with few pictures, but now I just usually open the book and wherever I land, that is what I will try. Who said I’m not adventuresome?

If I do use oil, I prefer olive, grape seed or coconut oil. If I want to do a fat free pesto, I use veggie broth, tofu, water or soaked nuts in place of the oil.  The mixture just needs something to wet it down a touch in the food processor. I have to get dinner on the table every night. I do balance out the oil/no oil/ fat/no fat recipes over the course of a week. I definitely have a family with differing needs in the calorie department. The oil of course, helps to make this dish rich and creamy. It sure makes it good and we enjoyed it!

Here are the recipes…

Spinach Pest Portobellos

Spinach Pesto Portobellos

Ingredients

  • 5 Portobello Mushroom Caps (I used 2 very large and 3 medium/small)
  • 5 Cups Fresh Spinach Leaves, packed
  • 1/4 Cup Almonds
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Olive Oil
  • 4 Small Garlic Cloves (I don’t know what they are doing to garlic these days but the cloves are HUGE. Have you noticed?)
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp Salt, or to taste (I used 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tsp of Lemon Basil dried herbs or just plain dried basil. If you have a little fresh basil on hand, use that
  • Lemon Juice – Half Lemon, Squeezed
  • Squirt of Agave (Optional. I did this because mine was a bit too salty. Be careful with your salt.)

Directions

Add all of the ingredients (except the portobellos of course) in the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry the mushroom caps and remove the center stem. Fill the mushrooms with pesto sauce and place them in a glass baking dish (non greased). Bake for 25 minutes until the juices of the mushroom start to run. Let cool slightly to set, before cutting.

Cranberry and Mint Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Tri-Color Quinoa, cooked according to package directions, and cooled or cooled mostly
  • Lime Juice – 1 Lime, Squeezed
  • 1/2 – 1 Whole Lime Zested (start with 1/2 and adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp Agave
  • 1-2 Tbs Orange Champagne Vinegar (or a little orange juice plus more lemon juice and a dash of apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Mint
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Scallions, Chopped ( I included the whites. Why not?)
  • Handful or 2 of Chopped Dried Cranberries

Directions

Mix all of the ingredients together and toss. Taste and adjust.

Enjoy!

~ The Karmatarian

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Carrot Miso Dressing

Carrot Miso Dressing

What is going on in Facebook land lately? Have you noticed your friends sharing random recipes on the news feed in order to save them? I’m seeing this from at least a dozen friends. This wouldn’t disappoint me so much if they were healthy and appealing… but they are so called ‘comfort’ foods. Sure… so comforting that you can lay yourself to rest in a cozy casket much sooner than later. I know not everyone eats the way I do, but what happened to the healthier middle of the road recipes? It seems that everything is extreme lately and it’s either Kale or Bacon. I’m going with Kale.

Hale to the Kale!

Btw… Saving recipes… isn’t this what Pinterest is for?

Being that I don’t want to hide my friends (I happen to like them), the good news is that this may finally break me of my personal Facebook habit (fingers crossed). It’s been sucking the life right out of me for too long, and now, it’s gotten down right depressing. Why dear God, is the world moving backwards?

For the rest of us moving forward, I want to share a delicious, whole food, healthy and oil free dressing to enjoy with your kale.

This came about because I am ADDICTED to kale right now. I finally found a fun way to eat it. Sure, I add it to recipes and smoothies and make kale chips but salads usually don’t appeal to me because of the bitterness. Even when it’s rubbed with lemon juice and salt, it still doesn’t work for me (at least right now, but who knows?). All I do know is that because of this new found process, I am drawn more to kale. Kale, kale, kale!

Here is what I do… I take a skillet and fill it with purified water, just to cover the bottom of the pan. No more. Set it on the stove and turn the burner on high. I rip the kale into bite size pieces and wash it while the water starts to boil. I add the kale, cover it, turn the burner down a bit and set the timer for 2 minutes. I check it before the time is up because most of the time it is done. I drain the little water out and VOILA… Steam-boiled kale with no bitter taste! And fast!

I got the idea from the Forks Over Knives handbook. Oh, let me tell you, the recipe for kale with miraculous walnut sauce is MIRACULOUS indeed!  I can eat it Every. Single. Day. I don’t want to abuse a good thing, so I came up with a similar dressing that packs in carrots and miso… two things which I try to incorporate more of into my diet. Walnuts are not to over-do if you are overcoming heart disease or cancer, so keep that in mind. In that case you would want as low fat of a diet as possible. But walnuts are definitely a super-food that you want to eat. You will also need a powerful blender in order to make this happen for you. Sorry, it’s just the way it is.

Health benefits of this dressing FAR outweigh that cute sour cream, butter, milk, cheese and ham filled muffin cup on your Facebook news feed. There’s no comparison really.

Carrots when sliced, interestingly look like eyes.. and they just so happen to benefit the eyes but also the skin too. They protect us from disease and boost immunity. Carrots are also anti-aging whereas that bacon cup will age you just looking at it!

Miso is a fermented food which helps to establish good digestive bacteria and boost immunity. It is a complete protein and has high quality B12. It aids in digestion and protects us against radiation. It’s also anti-aging.

Sounds good so far, huh?

Walnuts are shaped like little brains for a reason – they contain high levels of DHA to help improve brain health. A super antioxidant rich food that is a high quality protein. Walnuts are considered the king of nuts and we really benefit by adding a small handful into our diet daily.

My healthy carrot miso dressing is fast and easy and depending on the amount of water you add, you could keep it on the thicker side and use it as a veggie dip. It’s not overpowering in flavor perhaps a little on the milder side. Add more miso if you prefer.

Update 6/13~ I just made this again with extra miso aaaand a little champagne vinegar which was a nice addition.

Carrot Miso Dressing

Carrot Miso Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 large Carrot, washed but not peeled
  • 1 large handful of Walnuts
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 teaspoons of Mellow White Miso
  • 1/4 Cup Water

Directions

Place all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Add more or less water depending on your preference.

Enjoy,

~The Karmatarian

Question – What are some fun ways that you add more kale, carrots, walnuts or miso into your life? 

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Portobello Pizzas

Vegan Portobello Pizza

I love Portobello Pizza. It’s one of the easy, fast, low fat staples in my recipe rotation. It’s the kind of meal that let’s you have dessert afterward without guilt.  I usually serve this with a side salad and wild rice blend that is cooked up in veggie broth with a little added nutritional yeast. Or… whatever leftovers I might have on hand. In just 30 minutes, Dinner can be served!

Sometimes I add basil and extra garlic or spinach leaves. Sometimes I fill these with a vegan pesto. Either way, they are fast and good.

This idea of Portobello Pizza isn’t new to me and probably isn’t new to you, either. However, I used to make this pizza with dairy cheese (pre-vegan) and then went on to make it with vegan cheese. I found that in both scenarios, the texture of the mushroom paired with sauce AND slimy cheese, was well… too slimy. I can’t think of a better word. Maybe slippery? I mean, the whole topping just slides right off the mushroom if you aren’t careful.  Maybe you can relate?

I like to change up textures and flavors all the time in the kitchen and Portobello anything is a nice change of pace.  As for the pizza, I finally found a good combination that is very pleasing and complimentary. I now use a crushed cashew “cheese” topping that I have used before in other recipes, and it happens to be perfect for the mushroom pizza. You have to try it!

This can be a low sodium, oil free and gluten free meal depending on your sauce and your side dishes. It can be VERY hard to find a jarred pasta sauce without oil, a ton of sodium and sugar. Good luck to you! The last sauce I used was from Trader Joe’s, you know the fat-free organic one they usually hide waaayyyy down on the bottom shelf. I don’t know why? If I had the jar here now, I could tell you the sodium and sugar content but my guess is that it’s not great. I was just happy it was OIL FREE and ORGANIC. I’ll double check it next time I’m there. You probably can’t believe I let that slip by. I try to choose my battles over here and I tend not to fight them all at once. Things usually balance out over the course of the day.

I do know there is a brand of oil free and low sodium pasta sauce out there which my dad recently found and likes. It will most likely have to be ordered on line. I will get back to you with the name of it.

 

 

Portobello Pizzas

Ingredients

  • Large Portobello Mushroom Caps (the amount is up to you, I usually make 5 or 6 – 2 for each adult and one for my little guy)
  • A Jar of Your Favorite Pasta Sauce
  • 1 Cup Raw Cashews (this depends on how many pizzas you make but I always make extra topping to keep in the pantry
  • Optional – Other toppings you might enjoy, such as fresh basil, minced fresh garlic, spinach leaves

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees

Wash the mushroom caps gently, remove the stems and pat dry with paper towels

Fill the mushrooms with sauce and extra optional toppings and place in a shallow glass baking dish (I usually use a 9 x 13)

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until the juices begin to flow (if the juices aren’t flowing, they have not finished cooking)

While the mushrooms are baking, pulse the cashews in the food processor until desired texture (I like a semi-fine Parmesan cheese-like texture mixed with chunky bits of cashew)

Remove the pan from the oven and top pizzas with ground cashews and bake again for 5-10 minutes longer… but watch closely. Cashews should be barely toasted. If you are brave, you could broil on low for a minute.

I would love to hear your reviews, topping ideas and more. Feel free to comment below.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Baked Sweet Potato with Black Beans, Chives and Cashew Cream

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

~ Leonardo da Vinci

What ever happened to keeping it simple? All this fancy foo foo food out there trying to over-impress and complicate everything. Sometimes my brain goes on gourmet overload, and then I don’t know what to make for dinner. The bar is being raised out there by food bloggers and Pinterest on a daily basis. 

I do enjoy fancy food from time to time. For everyday, I just want something that looks appealing, tastes amazing, fuels my body in a healthy way but it doesn’t have to be all “beetle juice”. Beetle juice is the term I like to use for artsy fartsy. Speaking of insects, I have a bit of a spider sense when people or places that write about or serve food are trying a little too hard to be different. There is a fine line. Sometimes I just don’t have the patience. Yet, I am a little guilty of crossing the beetle juice line once in a while for the fun and art of it. But for the most part. I enjoy real food…. I also enjoy looking at photographs while holding them in my hands. So long are those days.

Most times, I want simple, real and fast for dinner. Not every day goes according to my daily planner and I am squeezed for time. Rushing often leaves little spark for creativity. Even pressed for time, I still want to get something out on the table that is healthy and enjoyable. This dish has quickly become a family favorite. It is only quick if you microwave it. We don’t do that!!! But it’s a simple meal with a few ingredients. Throw a side salad into the mix or finish with dessert and you will be pretty much stuffed. I guarantee it. We enjoyed this last week with no salad and no dessert and we ended up stuffed. Who knew this could be such a filling meal? I couldn’t even finish what I had on my plate. We may have munched on cucumbers and hummus as an appetizer, like we often do, but I can’t recall. I am pretty sure we didn’t. Either way, this will be enough food. Don’t worry.

Sometimes we (or maybe I ) just need to be reminded that dinner can be simple. And it’s ok. It’s great, actually. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the simple dishes that we can make, because we forget about them while thinking about dishes and ingredients we can’t even pronounce.

Cashew cream sauce might seem fancy to you but it is so simple! It is a healthy alternative to sour cream, dairy or vegan. It’s now taking the place of Tofutti brand sour cream here and we are not complaining one bit! It’s versatile and can be used for many other dishes. I used it the next day for an eggless egg salad recipe instead of vegan mayo. In other words, don’t spend money on Tofutti or vegan mayos. Buy cashews instead!

If you have any whole food topping ideas to share, let me hear them. I am looking to change this recipe up a few different ways. But I feel that this one will be in the rotation for a while because these flavors do go well together.

Baked Sweet Potato with Black Beans, Chives and Cashew Cream

Ingredients

  • Large Sweet Potatoes
  • Black Beans (if I am going for fast, I use canned organic black beans from our local Meijer grocery store. They contain only 100 mg of sodium per serving. You can cook and freeze your own beans for later use, too.)
  • Chives, chopped
  • *Optional – Olive Oil

Ingredients for the Cashew Cream

  • 1 + 1/4 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Sea Salt (Pink Salt)
  • *Optional – Favorite Non Dairy Milk or Filtered Water

Directions

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the cashews in a bowl and fill to cover with filtered water. Set aside to soak. It is ideal to soak for at least 2 hours – to overnight, but I’m assuming you are throwing dinner together here!

Wash sweet potatoes, air or pat dry and brush the outside skin with olive oil. (This is optional. I have done this each time I make these. I don’t eat the skins, but my husband does. By all means, try it with no oil and let me know how it goes).

Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Depending on how large or small the potatoes are, you may want to be flexible on the cooking time. Potatoes are done when easily pierced through with a knife. When potatoes are done, remove and pierce the skin several times to let out the steam. Make a slit in the center of each potato, lengthwise and push in and up from the ends, if you want to be all fancy. Or just slice and place open face onto a plate. Texturize them using a fork, if you prefer, so your toppings won’t slide off!

Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and place them in your high speed blender or Vitamix along with the other ingredients except for the milk or water. Blend until creamy. Use the non dairy milk or filtered water, if necessary, to adjust the dressing to your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasonings and it’s ready.

Chop your chives.

Get your beans ready to go.

Top your baked sweet potato.

Dinner is served.

Enjoy

~The Karmatarian

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – Oil Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

I just want to try to convince you here, to make your own Hummus. It’s fresher, lighter and you control what goes in it. Not to mention you get more of it, for the money. There’s no “natural flavors”, whatever those could be, and it’s not dripping with oil, because we really don’t neeeeed those empty fat calories.

I am addicted to Hummus! The problem is, trying to find a store bought hummus that is not filled with those things I mentioned above. This recipe won’t be that exciting for many of you and I totally understand, but for my friends who might not have stopped to think about how easy it is to whip up your own fat free hummus, this one is for you!

There are so many possibilities and all different kinds of flavors. Just leave out the roasted peppers and play with it. And depending on what you are going to dip… chips, veggies, pita bread, gluten free pretzels (which we love, along with sliced cucumber) or crackers, you can adjust the seasoning to compliment it best. For instance, you probably don’t want to over salt the Hummus if you are going to eat it with something salted. But you might want to add some extra spice and sea salt if you are going to eat it with plain veggies.

Without the oil, there is a lighter feel to the Hummus, you may have to spice it more to compensate until you get used to it. But did you see my post about the dangers of oils? We certainly don’t need the extra oil. I am now making my own Hummus and it tastes so good! It might take some getting used to if you are only familiar with store brands. Our taste buds can get so manipulated that we have to stop and reset them back to “natural”. It takes a little time.

Although everyone who tries my Hummus, likes it a lot. I am a picky person, a tough critic of my own creations.  I was right up until the other day, looking for that unique ingredient that will really push this dip above and beyond.  I was thinking that it may be I want to try adding another roasted pepper to really go bold? Or add some of my dad’s canned peppers from the garden? But what I stumbled upon was the addition of Vinegar. Yep. Vinegar. It gives it that zesty zing that makes this dip awesome.

When you make your own Hummus, just know that the flavors really come out as it sets, chills and thickens up (in case you added too much liquid) in the fridge. Just have fun and adjust the seasonings to suit you. Try adding different herbs and spices. Add lemon zest and cayenne pepper. Just don’t be afraid to make your own… your way! It’s so much healthier, especially when you soak and cook your own chickpeas. I haven’t gone that far yet. But I imagine I will one of these days. The canned chickpeas I found at my local Meijer store, are organic and contain only 100 mg of sodium per serving. Not great, but certainly better than most canned beans out there. These just make the cut off being 110 calories per serving. It is wise to make sure that any packaged products in a healthy diet contain no more sodium than it’s calories. Tough to do! So being in a hurry most days with our schedule, canned chickpeas it ends up to be.

I like the idea of adding roasted red pepper because red peppers have such a good dose of Vitamin C. Higher than an orange… 3 times more, actually. I understand that by lightly roasting the pepper, some Vitamin C may get destroyed. It’s still good. And I’m still gonna roast ’em!!

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 large Red Bell Pepper
  • 2  15 oz cans Chickpeas, one drained and one with liquid reserved
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 or 2 Tablespoons Tahini
  • 1/4 or Cup or more Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2  Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  White Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Lemon Zest
  • Optional*  Herbs of your choice

Directions

Note* The ingredients above can be adjusted to your liking.  First clean the pepper and remove seeds. Cut in half and place on a baking sheet and roast lightly. Do not brush the pepper with oil. I like to put mine in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes while I do a quick workout in my living room. Why not?

Next place all the ingredients except the spices and about half of the liquid from one can of the chickpeas into your Vitamix blender or high speed blender. If you don’t have a Vitamix, but you think your blender can handle it, go for it. I am pretty sure that this can be made in a food processor as well. Save the other half of the liquid from the chickpeas and use it to thin out the Hummus as you blend only if needed. Blend for 1 minute and use the tamper (with a Vitamix) to press the ingredients into the blades. Blend until creamy consistency.

Season the Hummus with the spices and lemon zest and plenty of sea salt. Place the dip into the refrigerator to chill and set for at least an hour.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Spaghetti with Mushrooms, Spinach and Tomatoes in a Garlic Wine Sauce

Simple. Light. Perfect for a Summer evening dinner out on the patio. It’s gluten free, vegan and low fat (oil free), but you will need to finish off that bottle of white wine… but who’s complaining?

My summer is picking up and I’ve really been enjoying it. I hope you are enjoying yours. I managed to style 15 updo’s for Cirque du Soleil performers and staff a few weeks ago with the help of a good friend. We got to enjoy the show from very good seats and my little guy LOVED it! It made me so happy. Also happy that no animals were involved. I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it was to discover the abuse that goes on toward such majestic elephants and wild animals for the traditional circus. I recommend watching Earthlings if you haven’t yet. And boycott the old circus at all costs! The Dralion or any Cirque show is worth saving up your money and taking your family out for a memorable day.

… Another happy vegan moment. Finding cute cowboy boots – man made material! I have been looking for a pair for a few years and unfortunately it was tough, so I stopped looking. Last week, I ran into a cute little store here called Francesca’s Collections and I spotted them, they actually fit, and off I went to a country concert…. Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney! Brothers of the Sun tour. Who wouldn’t have a fabulous time seeing these two hotties perform?

Next on the agenda, we rented a cute little lake house for some fun in the sun…. I hope to take some time to evaluate life and set some goals for the future in a quiet natural setting.  There’s no chance of getting on the computer as I was told there is no internet access. This might be really interesting to see how addicted I honestly am to technology. I might just go a little crazy, but maybe not? We’ll find out, won’t we?

Spaghetti with Mushrooms, Spinach and Tomatoes in a Garlic Wine Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 – 16 oz Package of Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti Pasta (gluten free)
  • Vegetable Broth (approximately 2 cups but I just had a carton on hand and freely used it as needed)
  • 8 oz container of Baby Bella, white or Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 Cup chopped Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 package of fresh Spinach leaves (about 2-3 large handfuls)
  • Your choice Tomatoes, either  3 chopped Roma or 1/2 container of sliced Grape Tomatoes (I made it both ways and liked it either way)
  • 1/2 Cup of good White Wine (that you will enjoy drinking with your dinner)
  • 1/4 Cup of Nutritional Yeast
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Heat a large shallow pan over medium to high heat and add a splash of vegetable broth. Once heated, add mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes until soft adding vegetable broth as needed. Remove mushrooms to a medium bowl.

Add more broth (just enough to cook) to the pan if necessary, return to heat and add the onion, cook until translucent and stir in garlic and cook 2 minutes more adding broth as it cooks so not to burn or stick to the pan. Remove these to the bowl with the mushrooms.

Return the pan to the heat and add more broth, heat and add spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Bring back the mushrooms, onions and garlic to the pan with the spinach and add the tomatoes. Add more vegetable broth if needed and add the white wine and cook until slightly reduced, add about a cup of vegetable broth (or how much you prefer) and cook for 5 minutes until everything is heated through and tomatoes are softened. Add nutritional yeast and the salt and pepper to taste…. stir and heat through.

Top the pasta with sauce and veggies and enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

A few fun pics….

Fun with the girls at the Brothers of the Sun concert… check out my vegan boots! (I’m on the right) :)

Me and my little guy at the United Center to see Cirque Du Soleil – The Dralion

… and Michael Jordan’s “legs”… lol

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Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

“Thoughts of lack manifest as limitation. Thoughts of abundance manifest as success and happiness. Failure and success are but two ends of the same stick.”

~Ernest Holmes

Happy Friday everyone! No, this quote doesn’t have much to do with chickpeas unless you think about all the creative ways in which chickpeas can be used in a plant-based diet. Plant-based eaters tend to think abundantly! After all, we have so many wonderful foods to choose from, it’s hard not to. I also believe the standard American diet tends to lend a hand in people not thinking about their food at all. Not caring where their food comes from and certainly taking it all for granted. At least this used to be me and it’s what I observe in others. Now I savor everything and appreciate the hell out of it! I appreciate colors, flavors, textures and good ethics that go along with creating it.

So have you ever heard of roasted chickpeas? I recently discovered this idea online and so I made these a few weeks back for the Forks Over Knives movie review and discussion I hosted. I didn’t exactly make them correctly, yet one of the guests couldn’t stop eating them! She even took them to go! So even if you screw them up a bit, like I did. They will still taste good. Practice makes perfect, but I think if you follow the directions you won’t screw up. I was in a bit of a hurry.

The key is to roast them until crispy on the outside. I didn’t quite get them that crispy on the first try because I was afraid of burning them. You just have to keep tossing them while baking. I used my toaster oven the second time around which seemed to help. I could see them a little better. Less distance. Maybe I need more Vitamin A for my eyesight?!

Chickpeas are a staple food in a plant-based diet. Think hummus. I do have a wonderful homemade fat-free roasted red pepper hummus that I will be posting soon. YUM! We go through hummus like water around here!

I like that we can switch things up regarding chickpeas. I actually used a chickpea oil blend in place of eggs for gluten free brownie recipe and it was amazing! They were like brownie protein bars! But in regards to this recipe, think about all the different spice combos to be tried. Many fun possibilities.

Roasted chickpeas, especially the spicy, salty ones, remind me of bar nuts, minus the musty bar smell, neon Miller sign and beer goggles.

Not only fun to eat, here is what you can expect from a cup of chickpeas: 14 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, 45 grams of good carbs. Of course lots of vitamins and minerals… not going to get into details because it’s Friday. Just trust me. It’s all good.

Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • 1 can of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained, (patted dry with a paper towel) and laid out to dry on a towel for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 Tablespoon of melted Coconut Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of Raw Organic Sugar. I used Coconut Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
  • Dash of Sea Salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly mist with oil.

Mix the sugar, cinnamon and dash of sea salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Coat the beans in melted coconut butter and sprinkle evenly with the sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Spread the beans out evenly onto your baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing every five or ten minutes, all while checking that they are not burning , just getting nice and crispy on the outside.

Let cool and enjoy. Have a great weekend!

~The Karmatarian

Ps. I certainly want to hear your comments, especially if you make these!

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Gluten Free – Spinach and “Cheese” Lasagna Bites

“Genetics account for a very small percentage of health issues – habits run in families and habits determine health outcomes” ~Pam Popper, Ph.D., N.D.

Recently, I heard about a nutritionist who ate vegan for many years and now claims that she developed diabetes because of it. She isn’t vegan anymore. I am very disappointed to hear this as this person, who is held in high regard by her clients, tells them what to eat, but shys away from telling them to omit animal products from their diet.

Omitting animal products can save lives and can reverse such things as type 2 diabetes. But you have to eat properly regarding the rest of your diet! Her deep rooted fear and negative experience is now rippling out and doing a lot of damage. She could very well be helping to cut some unlucky person’s life short! After discussing this with my former mentor from the T. Colin Campbell foundation, I felt better, but just a little. It was, however, good to talk with someone of sound mind.

We discussed the fact that ALL credible nutritional science points to a whole foods plant based diet for optimal health. A high fat diet and fat in our cells can help to trigger diabetes, which is why it is important to limit our fat and oil intake and reject sugar, refined, processed, and animal products.

This nutritionist is not admitting what her old diet consisted of, but I can place bets that it contained a lot of processed food, sugar and fat. Not to mention supplements and gimmicks. She happens to work in the “health store” industry. If she told us to eat our fruits and veggies and that all of our problems would disappear, as far as she is concerned, her business would disappear.

To quote myself and my famous phrase: Any diet can be a bad diet if you don’t understand nutrition, especially a vegan diet.

The moral of the story is, be careful who you seek advice from. Do they have ulterior motives? Are they healthy? What do they eat? Do they have a lot of stress in their lives? Finally, are they a person with positive or negative energy? If you notice the latter, RUN! Don’t give these people your time or money.

It’s important to find someone who’s ethics align with that of your own. You won’t do yourself any favors if you seek out someone who is all for meat and dairy if that’s not what you want to be recommended. Not many people including doctors and nutritionist have the will power to let food be thy medicine.

It would be wise not to talk to people who lack the ability to understand where you are coming from, or where you want to go. Don’t take advice from those who don’t have the will power themselves to seek out alternatives to their own problems. Look for mentors and advisers who are up to speed on latest nutritional science, who are of sound mind and have positive energy and will not project their own fears onto you. 

If there is a will, there is a way. Too often, people look for excuses and justification to give up. If you are not careful, you will attract this type of advice into your life which can totally ruin a good thing.

Nutrition can be a dense and hard topic made very simple with a whole foods plant based diet. The reality is, many people don’t want a simple answer to their problems, just as a lot of people don’t want to be drama free, even though they say they do. Life would be far too easy going. Who in the world would want that?!

There are two fantastic books are out about reversing and even curing Diabetes. They are a must read for you or a loved one that may be suffering from this disease. Visit my store to see these titles.

On to the recipe… This dish was fun and delicious! I made it for Easter. I think it could easily be made oil free by subbing water to make it more blend-able, maybe a little lemon juice? You’ll just have to play, because I did add oil to this one.

These are party friendly! My cousin made a similar recipe as stuffed shells, (she’s the one who gave me this idea, thanks D!) and it was a hit among everyone. But I can’t seem to find large gluten free pasta shells anywhere, and since I was bringing these for family who prefer a gluten free diet, lasagna bites they became.

There are no gobs of melted dairy cheese on top like in the days of old. Now it’s texture and flavor without all of that heavy fat and cholesterol.

Gluten Free – Spinach and “Cheese” Lasagna Bites

Ingredients

  • 2 Jars of your favorite Pasta Sauce
  • 1 Package of Tinkyada’s Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles
  • 1/2 – 1 Cup of Crushed Cashews

Cheese Filling

  •  2 Cups Soaked Cashews
  • 1 Cup Spinach. Use Frozen, Thawed and Squeezed of Excess Liquid
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 + 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Plain Almond Milk
  • 3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Italian Herbs
  • 1Tbsp Agave
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Chives
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • Sea Salt to taste

 Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Give the cashews, for the topping, a whiz around in the food processor, so that there are multiple textures, fine and chunky. Set aside.

Boil the Tinkyada noodles until done but still remaining firm. (For whatever reason I never boil this brand as long as the directions say, or they get too mushy.)

While the pasta is boiling, blend all of the ingredients for the cheese filling  *except the spinach* in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt if needed, then gently mix in the spinach by hand.

Layer the bottom of two 9 x 13 pans with a few spoonfuls of pasta sauce.

When the noodles are done remove them from the boiling water, drain and let them cool enough to touch. Take each noodle and cut it into thirds crosswise.

Fill each section with a spoonful of filling, roll and place seam side down. Line them up in two columns in the prepared 9 x 13 pan.

Cover with lots of pasta sauce and sprinkle each with crushed cashews, cover both pans with tin foil and bake for about 30 minutes, remove tinfoil and continue to bake 5 -7 minutes longer, until cashews are a light golden brown.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Power C Tempeh Over Minted Tricolor Quinoa

My cousin Rocks! She started researching food production and she took her new shock and awe and did exactly what I did… she turned that energy into something productive. She is very much on board with the vegan/raw movement and she is making the important and necessary changes for the health of her family. I am so proud of her!

Hard at work in the kitchen, she’s experimenting and trying new dishes that not only taste good, they are good for you. The best part is, she shares her good finds with me. She is an awesome cook! How exciting that I could just relax at her family parties, knowing I can graze on anything at the table! Could there be a family raw/vegan restaurant in our future? We might just change our family’s reputation from the family of Hair Stylists (although she isn’t a Hair Stylist, she escaped that gene, lucky her) to the family of passionate and healthy foodies. I am all good with that! My other cousin, sister and dad are also on the right train… My dad being very much vegan now, and wow did he turn his health around!

Recently, my cousin served this Tempeh recipe she found, at her daughter’s birthday party. It was so delicious! I went home and had to make it, but of course I didn’t have the exact ingredients on hand… so this is the twist I came up with. It got rave reviews!  At least I hope my husband wasn’t just being nice. He happens to be a great taste tester (and sport) for my recipes. Some days he gets a little luckier than others! And we are still talking about the food here.

Power C Tempeh over Minted Tricolor Quinoa

Ingredients

  • 1- 8 oz package of Tempeh
  • 1 Cup Tricolor Quinoa (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 tsp Concentrated Vegetable Broth (I like Better than Bouillon brand)
  • 1 Cup Naked Brand Power C Smoothie
  • 1 Tbs Grated Ginger
  • 1 Tbs Rice Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 tsp Tamari
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1-2 Tbs Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Lime
  • Handful of Chopped Mint Leaves
  • Sea Salt

Directions

Fill a medium saucepan with 2 cups water. Rinse quinoa well in cold water and add it to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and add concentrated vegetable broth. Stir, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook down until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, add the Power C smoothie to a bowl. Add the grated ginger, Tamari, rice vinegar, maple syrup, ground coriander and garlic. Mix this and set it aside.

Cut the Tempeh into 3rds, then diagonals, then turn pieces on their side and slice in half again to make thinner triangles. You could even cut these again to make them more bite sized.

Heat the coconut oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat. When heated, add the tempeh and cook 5 minutes per side until golden brown.

Add the Power C mixture and simmer for 10 minutes, being sure to turn the tempeh while simmering.

Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork and add a handful of chopped mint to taste

Serve the tempeh over the minted quinoa,  spoon the sauce over the top and finish it off with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of sea salt, which really helps to bring out the flavors in this dish. Garnish with mint leaves if desired.

Enjoy,

~The Karmatarian

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Vegan Deviled Eggs

Vegan Deviled Eggs! Or as I like to call them… Angel’ed Eggs

Why would I want to make “eggs”, you ask? Well we certainly didn’t go vegan because we hated the taste of the old diet! What my husband always tells people who can’t believe he eats vegan, is that it isn’t the meat, dairy, etc… that people are worried about missing, it’s the flavors. But if they would just realize that there are so many similar flavors plus so many newly discovered ones to be enjoyed when you finally go vegan, that you do not miss much, if anything at all. Of course there are a few exceptions, such as deviled eggs, but cry no more! Vegans have mastered the deviled egg and there is now even another new  product out there taking the place of egg yolks too called “The Vegg”, for your French toast of course!

About a week ago, my good friend Jinny posted this blog find on how to make vegan deviled eggs. I couldn’t believe it! I had to try this right away. Being too late in the game to gather all of the necessities, recreate it, and share my results before Easter so that you can do it too, I am letting you know now that these were dynamite! We still can’t get over how close to the real thing they are. Pretty darn eggsciting! I want to share my results with you because there are many more holidays and picnics ahead that will give you the opportunity to prepare this old family tradition… the vegan way!

So if the idea of eggs, and all that you have learned about them since being vegan hasn’t grossed you out of your mind and you can still enjoy the flavor of eggs, then it’s your lucky day! As far as deviled eggs go, I can live without the whites. It’s the filling that’s da bomb! This filling recipe alone is so good, that putting it on top of a water cracker or even crostini would be just as wonderful without having to turn your kitchen into a science lab. However, I am totally exaggerating here because the whites of these deviled “eggs” are ridiculously simple to make. You should really try it!

Since I happen to love a project and a challenge, I jumped right onto Amazon and ordered my egg molds and black salt. I didn’t order the Agar Powder because I was in a hurry to get everything. With my Prime membership, I could get everything before the holiday except for the most important ingredient, Agar Powder, only because they wanted some ridiculous 50 bucks for Prime (they have cheaper versions, but it comes snail mail) and I thought OH HELL NO. So instead I searched a few Asian markets nearby and the local Whole foods all to no avail. I ended up breaking the recipe’s rule, and tried the Agar flakes, which I found at Whole Foods Market. It did work, but only with my newly concocted measurements and the fact that I used the coffee grinder to grind down the flakes smaller and denser. I don’t have a mortar and pestle, and now I realize that I really need one! Anyway, my results had the whites turn out with a bit more texture than I preferred, but I continued on, and the final product was still amazing!

The other thing I need to tell you about is the egg mold. When it arrived I was so MAD. I was wrong about the math and these were FAR bigger than I wanted… What was I going to do? Luck has it, I married someone of Danish descent who suggested that I use our Aebleskiver pan. Brilliant!!!! I didn’t let the molds that I bought go to waste, we made gluten free vegan Easter egg cakes, converted from a cupcake recipe from my favorite cupcake book, “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World”. Those were AWESOME!

So, lightly oiling the Aebleskiver pan, I poured in the mixture and set it in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. When it was done, I just whipped up a second batch and did it again. If you want an entire platter of “eggs”, you may want to make these ahead of time so you can make batches, unless you have better luck finding a small half egg pan that makes a lot at once. Please let me know if you do! Turns out, our Aebelskiver pan that was collecting dust, was the the perfect size for these “eggs”. After these set, I used a butter knife to loosen and remove them and I used a tiny metal scoop to scoop out some of the white before filling them. I made sure to scoop a little off center, this helped the end result to look more egg like!

For the whites, I used:

  • 1 Cup Plain Soy Milk
  • 1 T Ground Agar Flakes
  • ¼ tsp Black Salt

I followed the recipe exactly for the “yolk” filling and let me tell you, you could eat this in it’s entirety by the spoonful!

Click here for the recipe, Maresa’s Vegan Deviled Eggs

You just have to try these if you were once a deviled egg fan! They are so much fun and would make a fun addition in texture and shape for a vegan party spread!

Having the black salt on hand in your pantry will be wonderful to use as an addition to tofu scrambles, “egg” salad sandwiches or even raw, coconut meat scrambled “eggs”. This gives a true egg flavor, (sulfur) but without the horrible smelling gas that you get from eating real eggs, not to mention ruining everyone’s otherwise pleasant atmosphere! Lol, just imagine all the people right now after Easter with this lovely egg farting problem! Well not I :) …I am also happy to report that I didn’t overdose on Peeps either. I feel so lucky that I don’t find those wretched things appealing!

So when I attempt these vegan deviled eggs again, I will be sure to follow the directions exactly, and use Agar Powder. I can only imagine how perfect they will turn out when I don’t break the rules! I will be sure to update my post with a new pic.

Good luck on your vegan adventure, have fun with your projects and take it on as a challenge. Remember, it’s about having fun with flavors!

Enjoy,

~The Karmatarian

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Gluten Free Sweet Corn Muffins

Gluten Free Vegan Sweet Corn MuffinsGluten Free Sweet Corn Muffins

You know what? Not bad for a gluten free vegan corn muffin! I made these yesterday with my Fast, Friendly & Vegan Big Game Chili. A little early, yes, but that’s what I had a taste for. I’m not sure what we are doing for the Super Bowl this Sunday. I am actually in the midst of a big move to a new house and as exciting as that is, it’s nuts over here and I’m overwhelmed! I should really pack. I guess Madonna is the half time show so I definitely want to at least catch that. To be 11 years old again with black jelly bracelets up to my elbows and a rag bow tied in my ever stiff, aqua net sprayed hair.

Nope. Glad those days are over.

My recipe was inspired by a Forks Over Knives recipe. Check out the other Super Bowl food ideas they offer. These muffins became gluten free when that was the only corn meal mix I could find around here. But so many people are looking for gluten free so I figured I’d share this recipe… and because it turned out! Gluten free is not always easy. My four year old gobbled these down and told me before he fell asleep last night that I was the best mommy ever for making him yummy muffins. Gotta love that!

Well, if it is chili you decide to make for this weekend, I sure hope it’s vegan! If it’s my recipe you make, you can omit the vegan ground meat and add extra beans or veggies to make it an entire gluten free meal along with these GF corn bread muffins. 

Unless you have another favorite chili recipe to share? I would love to hear it… although I really do like my fast prep chili recipe. Have you tried it yet?

Happy Super Bowl everyone! I hope your Sunday is fantastic.

Gluten Free Sweet Corn Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 Tbs Ground Flax Seed
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup, Grade B
  • 2 Cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 Cup Frozen Organic Sweet Corn Kernels

Directions

Heat oven to 375

In a bowl, combine the ground flax seed and almond milk and set aside.

In another bowl, blend the maple syrup with the applesauce and add it to the ground flax seed mixture.

In a larger bowl sift together the gluten free cornbread mix, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt (or do what I do and put these ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift”…. Idk? It works for me).

Add the wet ingredients slowly to the dry while mixing to incorporate well but do not over mix!

Fold in the frozen corn kernels.

Spoon into a lined muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes until they turn a light golden brown and a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

*Note: I tend to like my cornbread a little sweet. I think these could use added agave because they are not as sweet as the title makes them sound. If you really like sweet, try adding a sweetener of your choice.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Tempeh Coconut Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus

Ahhh, feeling like a college kid again. There’s a lot of studying going on over here! My hair is pulled back. I’m sporting my glasses. I’m hanging out in my comfy clothes. My schedule for just about everything is all messed up and I’m staying up late… well past 1 a.m. to read and research, every night.

I’m quite discombobulated regarding time lately. This could easily be someone’s normal life and schedule but certainly not mine. I like routine. A bit boring… but. My effort and temporarily crazed schedule will be well worth it! Education to expand your brain… Priceless. What am I doing? I’m in the midst of obtaining a certification in plant based nutrition! The program is much more in depth than I anticipated which is a pleasant surprise. I couldn’t be more impressed by what I am learning so far and I’m proud of myself for making the time and commitment to better my understanding of this life saving, modern nutrition we call… plant foods. Who knew something so natural, so basic, could save lives? I did, I did, but please… play along!

My outdated, conservative, structured and funded by the meat and dairy industry nutrition education, aka… my nutrition and dietetics degree from a big state university (to tell you how I really feel. Lol) plus thankfully my many years of life experience researching nutrition and trying many different diets personally, I  finally arrive right where I should have started out. I just happened to take a scenic detour through the trendy hair industry to get to this point. Life experience is never a bad thing. I’m here where I belong and I’m that much smarter. This new class helps me feel absolutely justified in why I do what I do. My intuition and path has lead me here for good reason. I have plans. Big Eeeevil plans! Whah-ha-ha-haaa-haaaa!

On to the recipe…

So I guess you are looking for a recipe here… it’s a pretty good one!  I recently cooked up this delicious hearty dish and then whipped it up again for a pot luck party. I was asked for the recipe by several guests… That’s how I know it’s a keeper. I was inspired by a recipe I found on the Whole Foods website and I played around with it and tweaked it using what I had on hand. I changed it enough to post it here but feel guilty taking complete credit.  You can find the link to the original recipe at the bottom of this post. I made this recipe again the original way and I didn’t care for it as much. 

Don’t be fooled by the curry, this dish isn’t that spicy – even my four year old loves this one! We do more flavorful around here over spicy. I sauteed the Tempeh which makes for better color and a nutty flavor. I use whole coconut milk for this because I like a rich sauce and I’ll be honest, I’ll eat a salad for lunch if I am eating this for dinner! It’s worth it! If you are watching your weight, or are unfortunately experiencing strict orders trying to avoid or overcome illness, you can stay away from the oil and whole coconut milk. You can use low fat coconut milk and steam the Tempeh instead of saute! The original calls for green beans but I think asparagus makes this dish fancier, it has more of a gourmet feel…

Tempeh Coconut Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 C organic Brown Rice
  • 2 C Water
  • 1  (8 oz) Package of Organic Tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Sweet Potato, large, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 large bunch fresh Asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbs Coconut Oil
  • 1 + 1/2 C low sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Shallot, large or 2 medium, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs freshly grated Ginger
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can regular Coconut Milk (or light if you prefer)
  • 1 Tbs Curry Powder
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 C chopped Parsley, divided
  • Sea Salt

Directions

Bring rice and water to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is completely absorbed, about forty minutes or so.

While the rice is cooking, saute Tempeh in coconut oil making sure to turn pieces so they brown on all sides.

Next, bring 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth to a simmer in a large deep skillet. Add shallots, garlic and ginger, cook 5 minutes until shallots are translucent and tender. Stir in curry powder and cumin and cook another minute. Add coconut milk and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook until potatoes are almost tender. Add cut asparagus and tempeh and 1/8 cup chopped parsley and cook until everything is tender. Add sea salt, about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp or to taste. Enjoy served over brown rice and sprinkled with remaining parsley for garnish.

Enjoy,

~The Karmatarian

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Original recipe of inspiration

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Blueberry Chia Pudding

I can’t believe that I have been using Chia seeds as long as I have and haven’t run across a recipe like this until now! I found a great breakfast blueberry chia pudding recipe by Brendan Frazier posted on One Green Planet that I LOVE! I slightly adapted the recipe to make it quicker and I will be adding this baby to my recipe rotation. The pudding base is amazing on it’s own and will be used as the base for many different flavors that I have in mind to experiment with! This is fast and easy. I know you will love it too!

Although nothing new… yet still new to many… this is for my friends who may not have discovered the wonders of the Chia seed.

  • Chia seeds absorb 9 times their weight in water and when soaked create a tasteless gel that can help to keep you more hydrated
  • Chia gel is 90% soluble fiber allowing a slow release of carbs into the body. Great for controlling sugar levels (diabetics) and great for keeping you feeling full and controlling your appetite!
  • Chia seeds have twice the protein of any other grain or seed and 5 times the Calcium of cow’s milk. They contain Boron which helps absorb this Calcium
  • Essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and 6
  • Chia gel can be used for many things including smoothies, puddings, desserts and as chia “eggs” (egg replacer)

Lets not over look dates which are used in this recipe as our sweetener. Dates are a powerhouse of nutrition as well. Read more about dates here.

This Chia pudding recipe is quick, nutritious and a must try!

What You’ll Need

2 Tbs Chia seeds… white or dark seeds

3/4 Cup Water

1/3 Cup Cashews

3 Medjool Dates soaked and pitted

Pinch of Cinnamon

Pinch of Sea Salt

1/3 Cup of Fresh or Frozen Blueberries plus more for garnish

This is makes 1 large serving or 2 smaller servings

Directions

Soak Chia seeds in 3/4 Cup water for 15 minutes. At the same time soak dates in very warm water for 15 minutes. When dates are finished soaking, slice in half and remove pits. In a blender, combine everything except blueberries. Blend until smooth. Add blueberries and blend again, top with blueberries and dig in!

*Notes*  Try this pudding before adding blueberries! You may love it plain and simply want to add your fruit on top. This is the base I refer to above that you can add many different flavors to. Experiment and have fun!

If you have a Vitamix, you can enjoy warm pudding straight from the machine…. Mmmm, I feel so lucky! I put frozen blueberries on top of my warm pudding and it was heavenly. Or if you don’t want it warm and it got a bit too warm for you in your Vitamix, place it in the fridge for a bit before serving.

I would love to know some of your favorite ways to use chia seeds and also your favorite pudding recipes and creations! Please share!

Enjoy!

The Karmatarian~

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Teese-e Caprese Salad

As far as rules go. There are none. We only place rules upon ourselves when it comes to choosing “vegan”. We shouldn’t let others define us. Do what is in your heart as you become more educated about what or ‘who’ is on the end of your fork. What is comfortable for you? Do you jump in to a plant-based diet or make an easy transition? First you have to Un-learn all you have in order to Re-learn a new way of living. Give yourself time. Set yourself up for success. Everyone is spiritually expanding at different times. Welcome to wherever you are! Just do yourself a favor and keep seeking growth and expansion. Desire to be the example you wish to see in the world. And then be it. Unless of course, you don’t give a crap.

As I struggled through the ups and downs about what choosing vegan means to me, in the end I realize that we make up our own definition.  I make my own choices despite the influence of many opinionated vegans out there. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand why they have that opinion. But I am not perfect. I transitioned slowly and when I still ate animals, I felt that I was still a compassionate person who eventually would get to a greater place where my ethics and taste buds would finally align. Now it feels truly amazing to be in that place. I feel genuinely compassionate. I have a deep sense of release from guilt and moral schizophrenia having to do with our animal ‘friends’. I didn’t let someone else’s opinion of how or what I should do take away the satisfaction of achieving my goal. I did it! And in my own time.

I do what feels right for me and my soul and my soul’s growth for wherever I am on this journey. But I am one to think about it. Not a lot of people do. It’s about expansion. I always strive for more. Learn more, grow more. I am a spiritual seeker. And I’m real with myself. I do walk the path less traveled as do other vegans, raw foodists and spiritual seekers and it isn’t all that easy, let me tell you. The beautiful thing is that my character has really grown and strengthened due to the contrast I have been faced with as I have been choosing a vegan diet. Funny isn’t it? Choosing a kinder way and there’s an opposition felt from friends and family as you show nothing less than strength to do what they only wish they could.  But I don’t judge. I will educate and be the light. Show people how much better it is… over here. I’ll be the example I wish to see in the world and I will get in that kitchen, and serve them up something yummy!

All these deep thoughts stemmed from a conversational thread on Facebook today. I meant to start this blog post with something like “what the hell are you going to do with all of those juicy little tomatoes you have growing in the garden?” So on that note… I have an entire counter filled with tomatoes that I just picked from my garden and basil coming out my wazoo! So I threw together a vegan Caprese salad like I made for my Son’s birthday party a few weeks back. Great as a side dish to say, what I had tonight- Gardein Chick ‘n Scallopini over quinoa with fresh asparagus.

This was a salad I thought was a goner until I found the ‘cheese’ I was looking for that could be sliced and eaten like a regular hunk of mozzarella. It tastes a little different,  because it is different. Still no complaints from my party goers who helped eat the whole bowl. 

Teese-e Caprese Salad

Ingredients

2 Cups of Cherry Tomatoes, halved

1 Cup fresh Basil Leaves

1 Garlic Clove, minced

1 10 oz package of Teese brand mozzarella vegan cheese using 2/3 package, diced into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 – 1 Whole Lemon, juiced (depending on your preference)

1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Himalayan Sea Salt and Pepper to taste… I use about a 1/2 tsp of sea salt and 1/8 tsp or so pepper

*Note Teese vegan cheese is gluten free!

Directions

Toss sliced tomatoes and minced garlic in a bowl. Stack basil leaves, roll and thinly slice across the roll. Add basil and the cubed Teese cheese to the tomatoes and garlic and toss lightly. In another bowl add freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil, whisk until well blended. Add Salt and pepper to taste. Add dressing to the salad and toss lightly. Taste and adjust flavor if necessary and serve.

Enjoy,

The Karmatarian~

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Maureen’s Mango Avocado Salad

So the story of Maureen’s mango avocado salad is three-fold… 

First, I just threw my son a birthday party. He turned 4! I can’t even believe how time flies. I really wanted it to be a party for me though. A celebration that mommy made it this far with my sanity still in tact! Had I remembered how much work a party is, I may have just packed us up and went on a fun trip (for the price) instead! Mommy didn’t  get to do much celebrating, she was hard at work in the kitchen! Do you know how hard it is to find a healthy gourmet caterer in the burbs of Chicago let alone anyone prepping vegan dishes? There’s a niche there just waiting to be discovered. I don’t think it’s for me though.

I wanted my guests to enjoy great food that is healthy and kind all at the same time.  So if you want anything done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself. I made it happen! Everyone loved the food. Kids included. They also had a blast with the batman theme and bounce house. When the party wound down, who do you think was in that bounce house getting her money’s worth and bounce on? That’s right. Mommy. That was a fun stress relief that I highly recommend. I am thinking some fitness classes need to be catered to grown-ups while in a bounce house. That could be fun!?!

I would love to show you more pics of the party and food. Visit me at my Karmatarian Facebook page. Please “like” me and check out a few photos! You can bet that this mango avocado salad was on the kitchen island along with some other yummy apps. When I was in search of another dish to serve, I thought of my amazing client and friend Maureen!

Fun story of how I met Maureen. Back when I worked at Emmett Rode Salon in Lincoln park, I was new there and trying to build my clientele. I plastered flyers all over that town. I hated doing it too. I went far and wide and put some on the back board at Karyn’s raw cafe. That’s how I met Maureen. She was interested in the organic hair color line that I use and took her chances and called me up. Any marketing person knows the feedback you get from a flyer. It’s like 1% or something ridiculous.  I don’t know why I bothered? No, I take that back. I got an amazing friend out of it! Who would have know that Maureen and I would hit it off so well and have tons of fun at our hair sessions every few weeks since!? Every time I see Maureen she hooks me up with the most amazing raw food! She makes wonderful green smoothies for us and our conversations are so much fun and in depth. I appreciate you Maureen! You are the best!

Maureen has been raving about this salad since I met her. She makes it for so many parties and occasions that she deserves the title. She didn’t make this one up though. I will get to that in a sec. Anyway, she swears people just devour this. I often wondered about it and it was on my “list” to try and then she served it to me a few weeks ago! OMG. She was not kidding! Something about this salad. It’s a refreshing change and very flavorful. A must try!

Maureen has a great hook-up herself. This is my third part to the story. Maureen has a really great friend named Linda who is a fabulous Raw food Chef! Hence, where all of Maureen’s raw food comes from that she in turn shares with me when I visit. Can you say… Lucky! Although I don’t know Linda personally, I feel like I do. She sounds like such a cool person. Linda owns Green Spirit – healthy living Please check out her great website! Linda offers home delivered raw food packages that are very reasonable. She has classes where you can learn how to create raw food for yourself and there are a lot of recipes on her website too. If she only wasn’t so far away from where I live, I would be there bugging her all the time! I do plan on taking a few of her classes in the near future and giving you a much more in depth review of Green Spirit! I love that places like this exist! Thank you Linda! Your food is amazing!!! This I know, because I have tried so many of your different dishes. Each one full of flavor and presented beautifully! So. A long story short. This recipe for Mango Avocado salad is originally from the famous Linda!  Please try it out for yourself and please check out Green Spirit if you are in or near the  North Chicago area! You will love the food!!!

Well here it is… The Famous Mango Avocado Salad!

You’ll Need

3 Mangoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes

3 Avocados, diced into 1/2 inch cubes

1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 bunch Cilantro, Chopped

1/4 Cup Sesame Oil

3 Tbs Lime Juice

1 1/2 TBS White Sesame Seeds

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

2 Serrano Chiles, minced (remove the seeds which are the hottest part)

Directions

Combine all ingredients and toss gently. Serve immediately.

Note* I have also tasted this recipe with just a small amount of diced (very tiny) red bell pepper. Maybe a tablespoon, possibly more. It’s great for added color. I had enough red colors running through my party theme as far as food goes, so I chose to leave out the red pepper!

Enjoy,

The Karmatarian~

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Mini Raw Chocolate Dream Pies

Raw chocolate pudding made with avocados is nothing new in the raw food world, but it is to me! It blows my mind how nature can give us just a few ingredients (minus any help from animals) and we can come up with friggin pudding! Mousse! Whatever you wanna call it… I call it smooth, creamy, awesome chocolate mousse pudding!!! WHY wasn’t this handed down through generations in my family? How is it that my ancestors did not know this EASY secret? It is so disappointing how we think we need to out smart mother nature and change it all up when we can create something this good and so simply.  Move over Bill Cosby, it’s time to think outside of the old commercial pudding mix “box”. Try this and prepare to be amazed!

Mini pies are a fun finger food that’s great for a party or pot luck. Tell people who are unfamiliar with the raw food world what this is made from and I bet the reactions will be quite interesting! I make the raw chocolate pudding a few ways: Just the pudding and lick the bowl clean. You will too, trust me! Fill the nut crusts to make mini pies or the lazy vegan version, using Keebler’s mini graham ready crusts which would not be an option for the gluten free folks. I know what your thinking. The Keebler mini crust ingredients are not uber healthy, but a good alternative for the nut allergies out there! If I were making a large pie, I know there are healthier crusts sold at places like Whole Foods or I could spend the time to make one myself. But time is tight for most and I would rather see someone do it vegan any way they can. A Keebler crust every now and then (but far in between) won’t kill anyone.  Not on the spot anyway. Lol. It’s fast, convenient and quite delicious.  I can’t claim perfection with my diet and although I have type-A tendencies, I try not to be over-the-top strict with myself all the time. But do as you do. There are many ways you could go about the mousse pudding in this recipe: straight up, over fruit in a festive glass, parfait style or pies.  Have fun and be creative.

Nutritionally, avocados provide about 20 essential nutrients that include fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They act as a “nutrient booster” enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, from foods that are eaten along with them. Dates also contain a lot of potassium per serving  along with 3 grams of fiber. They also contain magnesium, iron and calcium, B vitamins and trace minerals. Cacao is high in iron, antioxidants and have compounds that act as anti-depressants because they help increase the levels of specific neurotransmitters in our brains. Can you say all this about the old box mix?


Mini Nut Crusts

1/3 Cup Cashews

1/3 Cup Almonds

4 Medjool Dates, pitted

Water

Mini Cupcake Pan

Plastic Wrap

Easy to Prepare

Put the cashews, almonds and dates into a food processor and process until a crumb like texture. Add just enough water, (start with a sprinkle) so the mixture combines. You don’t want them soggy so be careful here. You just want to be able to press and form them into your pie pan. Line your mini cupcake pan with plastic wrap and portion evenly among each section. It’s approximately 1 Tbs of crumb mixture for each. Take more plastic wrap and lay it over everything and begin to press in with your fingers and shape each mini crust.  You may try doing this without plastic wrap but good luck. It’s a sticky mess.  The plastic wrap also helps to pop these babies out with ease. When you are done forming the pie crusts, remove the top layer of plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes or longer if desired to set firm.  Now you are ready to fill.

Raw Chocolate Mousse Pudding

2 Ripe Avocados

8 Medjool Dates

1 Cup of Hot Water

2 Tbs Cacao Powder, Raw and Organic

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Raw Agave Nectar or Raw Sugar to Taste

Dried Coconut flakes or berries as garnish if desired

The Procedure

Using a knife, cut and remove the pits from the dates. Soak the dates in one cup of very hot water for 20 minutes. Do not discard the water. Next using a blender add avocados, soaked dates, cacao powder, vanilla, agave or sugar and half cup of the date water. Blend until smooth and creamy.  Add more date water and sweetener as needed. Just a little note: You can sweeten this to match your sweet tooth’s preference. The nut crusts are not that sweet so it wouldn’t hurt if the filling was extra sweet to make up for it. You should then refrigerate this mixture for at least an hour for the flavors to blend. I usually can’t wait if it’s just a casual batch but you will get a better end result. I usually put my crusts into the refrigerator after I freeze them, while the pudding is setting. After your pudding sets, you can fill your pie crusts. Sprinkle with coconut flakes or garnish with a berry if desired.

Feel free to play around with this recipe.  Omit the dates and water, add coconut oil or coconut butter in it’s place along with maple syrup or raw sugar instead of agave. Raw food is very creative!

What are some of your favorite versions of raw chocolate mousse/pudding?

Find Raw Cacao powder and other ingredients here

Enjoy!

The Karmatarian~

P.S. Another version of this chocolate mousse can be found at the Soul Searching Vegan. Even though I have seen many different recipes similar to this and wanted to try them, I have to say that it was Chelsea who inspired me to do it and create something with it to share with you. I hope you will check out her fun blog at her newest blog address.

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3-Way Mac-n-Cheese

This dish really ought to be called No Excuses Mac-n-Cheese. Something this creamy and delicious gives us no reason whatsoever to exploit cows for the sake of comfort food.  Besides, there isn’t much comfort knowing dairy cows are the most abused and exploited of all factory farmed animals. Eating vegan mac-n-cheese you get the best of both worlds…. comforting yumminess and peace filling up your heart which might just help you sleep better at night! All it takes is going into your kitchen and doing things a little differently. It’s not that hard. Honestly!

If you’re not there yet, a recipe like this may be what you need to help kick your addiction to Casein. It’s way overdue that humans be weaned. After all, we aren’t calves needing the high of our mother’s Casomorphins which encourage us to stick close to her udders ensuring our nourishment along with IGF1 hormone to support our growth into a Heffer! Still most humans absolutely love cow secretions and walk around high on the breakdown of these bovine hormones waiting to get their next fix. It’s pretty ridiculous when you step back and see it for what it is.

3-Way Mac-n-Cheese

Ok, Let me tell you why it’s 3-way. No need for minds to be wandering. You can make this dish as a casserole two different ways or you can make it simply, noodles and cheese sauce. Did you know traditional mac-n-cheese is one of a toddler’s most consumed food if not number one! Yikes! But you won’t feel bad giving this version to your sweet Angel! Velveeta. Kraft. I shudder just hearing these words. Cheese sauce pouch full of pus and preservatives. Eeeew!  Powdered cheese… Blah! Well this dish doesn’t even compare. Mine blows that crap away! Bonus: Vegan versions won’t clog your arteries or fill you with unwanted growth hormones.  They actually come with a Halo. Well, I don’t know for sure, but there’s a good chance! And there’s three, four or more ways to make this cheese sauce. You can use the blended cashews or not and you can make it with many different kinds of “milk”. If you cannot get your hands on Daiya Cheese shreds (the best vegan invention yet) you can make the casserole version without it, no problem.  And, drum roll please…. Either way, you can make this Gluten and Soy free! So, all bases are covered and we are left with absolutely… No Excuses!

#1 – Basic Noodles and Sauce… a toddler’s favorite  (mine too!)

This is when I want to make a fast bowl of mac and cheese for my three year old and have just a few bites left over for myself. Or if you’re not into sharing, just a big bowl for yourself with no left overs. If you want more, you’ll need to do the math for this recipe. But this is such an easy one to eye-ball.

What you’ll need

1 Cup of Dry Cavatelli Noodles

1 Tbs Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1 Cup of Creamy Plain Almond Milk (I like the kind you find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Whole Foods 365 brand, Wal-Mart sells Silk brand or Almond Breeze, Trader Joe’s now sells their version… or use your favorite.)

1 Cup Daiya Cheese, Cheddar Style Shreds (dairy free, gluten free and soy free!)

1 large pinch of Garlic Powder

1 large pinch of ground Turmeric

about 1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt  (I love this salt, it has 84 trace minerals!)

*Update – I rarely add Earth Balance to this dish anymore, but if you are one that likes extra buttery flavor you might enjoy it. I am trying to cut back on oils wherever possible.

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions.  When done, drain thoroughly. Add 1 Tbs of Earth Balance. Mix and melt it into the noodles.

In a separate pot. Pour in the Almond milk and bring to a light boil. Add Daiya Cheese and stir constantly until it melts all the way.  This seems to take a bit. Patience young grasshopper! You”ll begin to see the mixture thicken…. and thicken until the desired consistency.  You may have to adjust the heat. Add the sea salt, Turmeric and garlic powder and taste to adjust. Add more Daiya cheese if necessary. Feel free to lick the spoon here. Pour the sauce over your cooked Cavatelli noodles, mix and serve!

*Note: My first attempt with this recipe I used large Penne Noodles. It was a No-Go with my son. He likes small shells. I switched, and now he devours this! Picky little things, those toddlers!

Secondly I had no Cheddar Daiya on hand. What to do… what to do… I used the Mozzarella style and added more Turmeric and Paprika for coloring. It was every bit as fabulous!

Thirdly, the first time I tried this with canned coconut milk because I only had vanilla almond milk on hand. And I do not recommend vanilla flavor milk for this. I screwed up  too many other recipes trying this.  Vanilla flavor works best for baking or desserts. I used half of a can of coconut milk due to it’s creamy nature and saved the other half for a green smoothie at a later time. This turned out just as wonderful!


#2 – Mac-n-Cheese Casserole…  A traditional comfort food favorite

What You’ll Need

10-16 oz Pasta  such as Penne    (I used a bag of Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Pasta to make this Gluten Free! Also you don’t want a type of pasta that has too much texture or it will soak up the sauce and end up dry. Use smooth pasta. You don’t really need the whole bag, but it didn’t hurt me to have more cooked noodles on hand)

1 Tbs Olive Oil

1 Can of Coconut Milk plus Water to equal 2 Cups Total Liquid

Or

2 Cups Creamy Plain Almond Milk    (You can also use other milks like hemp, oat, rice or soy. I make it with coconut or almond but hemp would be great too!)

1 Cup Raw Cashews 

2 Tbs Soy Sauce

1/2 tsp Lemon Juice

1/2 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp Paprika

1 tsp or more Sea Salt.

1 tsp Crushed Garlic  (Optional as you can omit and just add more garlic powder)

Large Pinch Garlic Powder

Large Pinch Onion Powder

Pepper, optional

1 + 1/2 Cup Daiya Cheese, Cheddar Style Shreds

Misto Sprayer filled with Olive Oil or your favorite Cooking Spray

1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs, Gluten Free Bread Crumbs or use Toasted and Crumbled Gluten Free Waffles as your topping!

Paprika to sprinkle on top

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and get your 8×8 casserole dish ready.  Make Pasta according to the package directions, drain, return to pot and drizzle with 1 Tbs of Olive Oil so it won’t stick together while you are making the sauce. This also adds to the rich creamy outcome of the sauce.

In a blender, add milk, cashews, soy sauce, lemon juice, turmeric, paprika, sea salt, crushed garlic, garlic powder, onion powder and blend away until thickened. Taste to adjust seasonings and salt. Seems like the salt gets baked away, don’t be afraid to taste the salt here.

Once blended and creamy, transfer to a large pot and heat to a light boil. Add your Daiya Cheese and whisk constantly until it’s all melted. You may have to adjust or raise the heat. When melted, add noodles slowly to the sauce… I may have used 3/4 or less of my 16 oz bag.

Just eye-ball the consistency of your noodles and sauce but it’s fine if it seems a bit saucy because that will bake in, and you certainly don’t want this to turn out dry.

After your noodles are coated, transfer the mixture to your casserole dish and top evenly with bread crumbs and paprika. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, remove and spritz with olive oil and turn your oven to broil. Lightly broil!  Watch it VERY closely here… Broil for about 2 minutes, give or take, until it is a beautiful golden brown. I did this because my casserole did not brown all the way within 15 minutes of baking and you don’t want to over bake this.

Remove, let cool for a minute and dive right in! No fear if you haven’t salted it enough, have your shaker with Himalayan sea salt near by. Problem solved.

# 3 (and 4)

You don’t have Daiya Cheese on hand

If you don’t have Daiya cheese on hand, just add your noodles to the cashew sauce without the step of melting in the Daiya Cheese and then bake in the oven.

Allergic to Cashews?

Cashews makes a fabulous creamy sauce, an idea which I stole from the wonderful world of raw food. I think cashew sauce plus Mozzarella Daiya cheese would make a wonderful Alfredo sauce!

But if you can’t do cashews, then follow the first recipe for basic noodles and sauce but make it into a casserole:

Cook about 10 oz or so of dry pasta

Use 2 cups of your preferred nut, soy or rice milk

Increase your Daiya Cheese from 1 to 2-3 cups

Add more Earth Balance, optional

Make your pasta. Make your sauce. Adjust your seasonings. Mix with noddles and pour into your 8×8 casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and paprika and bake for 15 minutes in a 375 oven until lightly bubbly and brown. See if you need to spritz with oil and broil to brown evenly.

*Note: A lot of vegan recipes call for Nutritional Yeast  especially in mac -n- cheese. Feel free to add it. I used to think I was allergic to nutritional yeast when I first started going vegetarian. It has a lot of fiber! My body was not used to it. It felt like daggers going through my digestive tract. Over time, the body adjusts to fiber such as beans and nutritional yeast. I’m so thankful because now I can’t get enough of this stuff and I do add it to my mac-n-cheese dishes and so many others. So definitely try nutritional yeast in your recipes for added cheesy flavor and vitamin boost. Especially B12. It also contains protein.

So there you have it, many ways to veganize an American classic. Have fun creating and I would love your feedback as always!

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Maple Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash with Tofu, Raisins and Walnuts

It’s been in the teens and single digits for days here in Chicago. I’m cold. I have a bad case of cabin fever and I’m craving some sort of comfort food. I was looking around the kitchen wondering what to do with that butternut squash just sitting over there… waiting for me. Stuck inside as it snowed yet again, it was a good time to be creative.

I was very impressed with the aroma’s that filled the house while this was roasting. I’m going to keep this in mind for a beautiful dish to present to guests. One whiff and they are sure to feel special.

Maple Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash with Tofu, Raisins and Walnuts

Ingredients

1 Medium Butternut Squash

1 14 oz Package Firm Organic Tofu, drained well and cut into 1/2″ cubes. I used Wildwood organic, high protein/super firm, no drain.

1/2-3/4 C Red Onion sliced in rings or largely diced

1/2 C Raisins

3/4 C Coarsely Chopped and Toasted Walnuts. I toasted mine in the toaster oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes

Prepared Quinoa or Short Grain Brown Rice for serving

 

Marinade

3/4 C Olive Oil

1/2 C Organic Grade B Maple Syrup

1/4 C Rice Vinegar. I used Trader Joe’s Seasoned Rice Vinegar

1/4 C  Organic Soy Sauce. If you want this recipe to be gluten free, be sure to use gluten free soy sauce

1 tsp Jarred Crushed Garlic. You can use Fresh, 2 cloves, minced.

1+1/2 tsp Fresh Rosemary. I used fresh that I had previously frozen.

1 tsp Dried Thyme

1/2 – 1 tsp Cinnamon. I used 1 tsp

 

Optional

Sea Salt, Pepper, Agave. I added 1/8 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt and 1 tsp Agave. A dash of freshly ground Pepper.


 

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

First drain tofu ~ While tofu is sitting and draining, make your marinade. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Keep in mind that roasting will bring out the sweet maple flavor and the salty flavor ends up a little more diluted. I added salt just in case.

Cube your tofu and add to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for about a half hour. Preferably longer.

Next, while the tofu is marinating, toast the walnuts and set aside. Peel the butternut squash. Be sure to use a good peeler to prevent an unnecessary headache. This is where  I grew frustrated in the past and would hesitate to make squash recipes. I recently found an awesome peeler called the Titan, that really does the trick! Cut the peeled squash in half lengthwise, clean and then cut into 1/2 inch cubes. The smaller the pieces the faster it will roast. You want bite size pieces for this dish.

When the marinade is ready, add the cubed squash, red onion and raisins to the tofu marinade and fold gently to coat everything. Be careful not to break apart your pretty tofu cubes. Once coated, transfer to a very shallow baking pan. I used a Jelly Roll pan. You can pour on every last drop of marinade or use a slotted spoon *see note below. Spread out evenly and put on middle rack of the preheated oven and roast for 12-15 minutes. Remove and carefully use a spatula to flip over as best as you can and put it back to roast for another 12-15 minutes.

When done roasting, transfer it all to a beautiful serving dish. Serve alone, over Quinoa or Brown Rice and top with the toasted walnuts for delicious added texture.

I divided my soy sauce in half with Bragg Liquid Aminos to reduce sodium.   You can use all Soy, all Braggs, Tamari, or Nama Shoyu or whatever you prefer. After all, cooking is your art.

*NOTE: You can make a side of Quinoa or Short Grain Brown Rice for this dish. Or it tastes great on it’s own. I added 1/4 cup more oil to equal 1 cup and made sure to use every last drop of marinade to roast this so I would have extra sauce to serve over brown rice, which gives an Asian feel or Quinoa for a modern comfort food feel. If you prefer to eat it alone, you may consider using a slotted spoon to lay it out on the roasting pan so it won’t end up too saucy or oily in the end.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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