Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Vegan Mac n Cheese Recipe Roundup

1. Top Left: Chef Chloe's Vegan Mac 'N' Cheese
2. Top Right: Healthy Happy Life's Fake-Out Mac 'n Cheese
3. Bottom Left: Fat Free Vegan's Easy Macaroni and Cheeze
4. Bottom Right: Veg News Best Mac n Cheese on the Planet

Welcome to my first recipe round up of the best vegan recipes on the web. Take it from a girl who lives for a hearty bowl of elbow macaroni covered in creamy cheese sauce. I've tried every vegan recipe in the book and have even made some of my own versions, but have narrowed it down to my top 4 tried and true pics from some of my favorite bloggers and even one chef!

1. Chef Chloe's Vegan Mac 'N' Cheese

Not only is Chef Chloe completely adorable, but she exudes talent with her amazing vegan recipes. She was recently featured on The Food Network show, "Cupcake Wars" and came through with the first place prize being the only vegan pastry chef in the competition.

Chef Chloe's Vegan Mac "N" Cheese is a more traditional "roux" based sauce (flour and vegan butter) with additional flavors and textures from nutritional yeast (a MUST have ingredient for vegan mac n cheese), tomato paste, lemon juice and agave nectar.

This recipe is super easy to make, very creamy and delicious.

Click Here for Chef Chloe's recipe!

2. Healthy Happy Life's Fake-Out Mac 'n Cheese

I have been following Kathy's blog, Healthy Happy Life for a couple of years now and her recipes never disappoint!

What I love the most about her Fake-Out Mac 'n Cheese recipe is her addition of cannellini beans and mashed sweet potato. Of course, there is still a good amount of nutritional yeast, so you gotta get over to Whole Foods or your local health food store to pick some up! Or you can order it HERE and wait a few days for it to arrive at your doorstep.

Kathy's recipe has a little more ingredients and takes a bit more time, BUT this sauce is also delicious over baked potatoes, steamed vegetables, tofu and even chili! It's WORTH IT!

Click Here for Kathy's Recipe!

3. Fat Free Vegan's Easy Macaroni and Cheeze

Meet Susan Voisin; practically the Vegan Queen in the blogger world. Everyone who has been meat and dairy free for a while as scoured her Fat Free Vegan blog at one point. She is sheer genius, down to earth and her recipes are outstanding!

Susan came up with her Easy Macaroni and Cheeze because of her daughter's love for the vegan packaged brand, Road's End (which I'm a HUGE fan of as well). Trying to stay away from processed foods, she got to work and created her own extremely similar (if not better) replication of the store bought box brand.

Again, you'll be using Nutritional Yeast with a ton of spices for this recipe. It's lower in fat than the first two but still just as creamy and decadent.

Click Here for Susan's Recipe!

4. Veg News Best Mac n Cheese on the Planet
I'm going to be completely honest when I say although I do LOVE this recipe, it probably isn't the BEST (in my opinion).

The base for this cheese sauce is cashews, potatoes, carrots and onions, which is also a good way to sneak in some veggies. The sauce is very easy to make, but the one draw back I've found is that it drys up pretty quickly when tossed with the noodles. It's important to only pour the sauce over the noodles right before you serve or you'll have a bit of a "cakey" mac on your plate.

This recipe is also the ONLY one of the 4 that doesn't include nutritional yeast as an ingredient, so you should have no problem finding everything you need at your regular grocery store.

Click Here for the Recipe from Veg News!

Friday, December 23, 2011

6 Ingredient Raw Vegan Fudge

After scouring the internet for ideas on how to make vegan fudge, I came across a website that used Artisana Coconut Butter as the main ingredient. I certainly did not want to pay $15 for a jar of coconut butter that I most likely wouldn't use again, so I decided to make my own (and it only cost $4.00!) See my trick below...

½ cup coconut butter (I modified this and made my own. Its WAY cheaper and super easy)
1 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 ripe bananas
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. Agave nectar
1 Tsp. vanilla extract

Step 1: Make Coconut Butter
Simply take out your blender and add in about a cup or so of unsweetened coconut flakes. Blend on a low-medium speed for 4 minutes, and then on high for another 4 minutes...and Vuala! Smooth, creamy coconut butter! Use the leftover coconut in smoothies, on top of oatmeal, cereals, yogurt, or in savory Thai dishes. YUM!

Step 2: Combine
Add coconut butter, peanut butter (smooth or chunky), bananas, cocoa powder, agave and vanilla to your food processor.

Step 3: Blend Blend Blend

Step 4:
Fold mixture into a flat, sealable container lined with parchment paper. This step is crucial if you want to easily remove your fudge and cut into nice pieces.

Step 5:
Cover and place into freezer for at least 1 hour to harden.

Fun Variations
- Fold in chocolate chips into the batter and top with chopped walnuts before freezing.
- Add fresh orange zest, and fold in dried cranberries
- Top with leftover shredded coconut before freezing
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar
- Let your kids decorate after fudge has hardened with fun candies


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baked Vanilla Donuts. Round 2.

My second go-around at baked vegan donuts. This time its all about the vanilla.

After a few adjustments from my first attempt, I think we have a winner! Although not quite as pretty as the first, there is something very satisfying about a simple cakey vanilla donut.

My first batch

Although they aren't necessarily Green Apple Baby "approved," they are oil-free and would serve as a delicious treat for any fun occasion. I mean, come on... don't you just want to pick one up right now and eat it?

Preparing the batter took me exactly the amount of time that it took for my oven to heat to 325.

Donut Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 TB sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 TB unsweetened coconut milk + 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 egg equivalent (Ener-G Egg Replacer)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 TB Earth Balance butter substitute, melted

Glaze Ingredients
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 TB vanilla soy creamer


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease a donut pan (or muffin tin).

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Add coconut milk, egg-substitute, vanilla and melted Earth Balance. Stir to combine.

Carefully transfer mixture into your donut pan and smooth the top with your finger.

Bake 8 to 11 minutes in the preheated oven, until doughnuts spring back when touched or until dough is set. Donuts will not be golden brown, but should be springy.

Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan, about 5 minutes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quinoa & Chive Patties

Over the last year or so, I have dramatically reduced the amount of oil I use when cooking. Not only is it 100% fat and 120 calories for 1 teeny tablespoon, it is also a processed food. You would be amazed by how easy it is to saute with vegetable broth or even water and not taste the difference!

However, there are exceptions to my no oil rule, especially when it comes to getting something browned and crispy. There just really isn't a good substitute. Hence my perfectly browned patties shown above!

Quinoa is one of my favorite grains and my toddler devours Green Quinoa every time I make it! I made a big batch last night and instead of serving plain ol' quinoa as a side dish with dinner, I decided to make something fun out of it instead. I read somewhere that using prepared quick oats as a binder works wonders for vegan burgers, so I decided to give that a try. It came out PERFECTLY! You could cut with a fork and the rest still stayed perfectly intact.

Give these quinoa patties a try tonight.

1 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa (rinsed if needed)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 TB nutritional yeast
4 TB quick cooking oats
6 TB boiling water
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and reduce heat to simmer (low). Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until all water has been absorbed. Transfer to a medium bowl and allow to cool for another 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine oats and water and let sit until very thick. If after 5 minutes, there is still a little liquid, pop in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add to prepared quinoa, along with salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and chives. Mix well and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a saute pan over medium high heat with a little bit of olive or canola oil. Form your quinoa patties with your hands using about 1/4 cup of the mixture and slightly flatten. Add to pan and brown on both sides for 3-5 minutes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Green Pea Pancakes

This afternoon I experimented with my basic pancake recipe. A friend of mine in the baby industry mentioned to me a while back that she ate green pea pancakes from a woman who was demonstrating a baby food processor. I honestly don't know why it took me so long to incorporate pureed green peas into my pancakes, but better late than never. And who I am kidding, my baby is only 15 months old, so I don't think I'm too late to the pea pancake game anyways!

Welcome pancake exhibit number one: Green Pea Pancakes.

While most of you are probably relieved, I was actually hoping they would turn out green!! It may have something to do with the fact that I pureed my peas a little bit on the thicker side, as opposed to adding more water for a smoother texture. Oh well, you can still see the little green pea speckles.

They also tasted nothing like green peas. Just good ol' fashioned pancakes, but maybe not as sweet, since I normally use either smashed banana or apple sauce. The best part is that Kaden LOVED them and even ate the surrounding peas I added to his tray.

I love how easy my basic pancake recipe is, and adding pureed fruits and vegetables gives this already healthy recipe another boost of nutrition! Just 1 cup of pureed peas added 9 grams of heart-healthy protein, 9 grams of fiber and vitamins A, C, iron and calcium!

Coming soon to my new pancake world:
Strawberry & Spinach
Banana & Broccoli
Sweet Potato & Apple
Carrot & Orange

Green Pea Pancakes

(makes 8 small pancakes)

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup original or unsweetened almond, soy or rice milk
1 cup frozen peas
2 TB pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium sized mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour with either the back of a measuring cup or your hands.

In a microwave-safe bowl, add peas and about 2 TB water. Microwave for 1 minute or until thawed but not hot. Add your cooked peas to a food processor and blend until pureed. You may need to add a bit more water to blend properly.

Add the pureed peas, almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla to your flour and combine well.

Preheat a large saute pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Use cooking spray or a little bit of oil or butter (Earth Balance) so your pancakes wont stick to your pan. Add about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook 2-3 minutes, flip and cook for about 1 minute more.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Herbed Cashew Ricotta Cheese

I'm pretty much obsessed with Cashew Cheese.

In fact, when I discovered that nuts in general (cashews, almonds, macadamias, pine nuts, etc) have the ability to create silky, creamy and delicious dips, spreads, desserts and ricotta cheese, I was over the moon! What an amazing alternative to dairy. I am also pleased to report that I have never met a single person (vegan or not!) who has disagreed.

The trick is to soak your raw, unsalted nuts (in this case, cashews) in water for as little as a few hours or up to overnight. Once soft, they easily grind in the food processor. With just a few simple ingredients, transform your soaked cashews into a crowd-pleasing masterpiece.

Start with your BASE.

2 cups soaked cashews (drained & rinsed)
1/4 cup soy milk (or any plain milk alternative)
1 TB olive oil
1 TB agave (or honey)
1/2 tsp salt

Add cashews, soy milk, olive oil & agave to your food processor and blend until creamy. Add salt and pulse to combine. This cashew base will be your starting board to an endless world of dips, spreads, desserts and cheese. Here are some ideas to get your mind racing, and then below is the full recipe for Herbed Cashew Ricotta Cheese:

Lemon/Basil: add juice from one lemon and a handful of fresh basil. Garlic too.
Roasted Garlic: add a handful of sweet roasted garlic cloves soaked in a bit of EVOO.
Thyme and Citrus: Grind some orange zest and crush fresh or dried thyme into your ricotta.
Black and Blue: Add a few drizzles of a thick balsamic, throw in a few grinds of mixed color peppercorns and maybe even some sweet fresh or dried figs.
Spicy: Process in a fresh jalapeno, horseradish or roasted spicy pepper.
Savory Olive Mushroom: Add in black olives and raw button mushrooms.
Sweet Peach: Fold in chopped fresh peaches and maple syrup for a sweet twist on ricotta dip.
Strawberry Cream: Fold in maple syrup and fresh strawberries and top with fresh soy creamer. Cinnamon and dessert wafers for garnish.

Herbed Cashew Ricotta Cheese

2 cups soaked cashews (drained & rinsed)
1/4 cup soy milk (or any plain milk alternative)
1 TB olive oil
1 TB agave (or honey)
1 TB apple cider vinegar
2 TB fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh chives, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt (kosher or pink Himalayan is best)
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

In your food processor, combine cashews, soy milk, olive oil, agave, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice and blend until smooth and creamy. Add chives, garlic, salt and pepper and pulse until combined.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Got Hemp Milk?

Or Coconut Milk?
Or Almond Milk?

I've written about what goes into Kaden's sippy cup on my personal blog, but I realize that it probably belongs here, too. And after several requests and weeks without a post, I've finally found some quiet time to sit down and write!

Figuring out what cows milk-alternative I would use was not an easy task. Cows milk is touted for its high calcium, fat and protein content, as well as essential vitamins. Seems like a wonder beverage for a growing toddler.

Before I go on, this post is NOT going to list all the reasons why I choose not to give cows milk to Kaden. Food and diet is such a personal and emotional decision in our society and, thus, I am not looking to be a place of controversy. If you are looking for an alternative to cows milk, then I hope I am able to help you.

Here is a picture of the specific brands of nut & seed milks that I buy for Kaden.

Overall, each one contains less sugar than whole cows milk, almost 3 times more calcium per 8oz serving, they are enriched with vitamins A, D and B vitamins, and both the hemp and coconut milk are rich sources of essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are essential because our body cannot create them, yet need them to function, and so we must get them from our food. EFA's are required for energy production, brain development, skin health and digestive energy.

And just clarify, hemp milk has no drug value and is not marijuana (in case you were wondering).

With breakfast and dinner, Kaden gets 4oz hemp milk and 4oz coconut milk, and recently 1/4 scoop of Chocolate SunWarrior Protein powder. I typically use the Almond milk for his daily Green Smoothie, and his oatmeal.

Not only did I get a huge thumbs up from our pediatrician, but he also requested my "formula" so that he can recommend it to other patients that are also looking for alternatives. Don't forget to run it by your pediatrician, too! Happy drinking :)