Thursday, August 29, 2019

Garlicky Maple Walnut Vegan Cookies



So, summer is almost over.  I have hardly used my solar oven because of gardening, writing, what-have-you.  

I love the idea of the Sun Oven: not heating up the house, not having an electric bill that includes cooking (or other things like dehydrating or baking), and just being outside in my backyard a little more often than I have been.  

So, today, another warm day with a blue sky and direct sunlight, seemed like the time to do some sun oven baking of this intriguing garlic cookie recipe.  I have browsed the internet and considered various garlic cookie recipes, but none of them really appealed to me.  Then I thought of the super healthy Maple Walnut cookies that Dr. Neil Nedley recommended in the cookbook that went with his Depression-- The Way Out program that my husband and I helped to facilitate in our community a few years ago.

WALNUTS-- THE BRAIN NUT


  The walnuts and flaxseed in the vegan cookies are high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and fibre.   In  a study looking at Metabolic syndrome, now a large threat in China, requiring lifestyle counseling and nutritional intervention. The group assigned to eat a substitute bread containing walnuts and flax seed lost weight, although the nuts and seeds were fairly high in calories and one would think that weight gain would result.  Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that include mid-body obesity, high readings of cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure and hyperglycemia.  These symptoms speak of an increased risk for  heart disease and Type II diabetes.  So, this Chinese study would appear to validate what we learned about walnuts and flax seed in the Depression-- the Way Out program with the video lectures by Dr. Nedley.  He referred to walnuts as "the brain" nut.  It even looks like a brain when you crack it open.


Walnut courtesy of Ulrike Leone from Pixabay





INSTRUCTIONS FOR BAKING THESE COOKIES in BOTH YOUR REGULAR OVEN AND WITH THE AMAZING SUN OVEN

  So, here is the recipe for both regular ovens in your home, and for the Sun Oven, solar wonder that I carry out and set up in my back yard when I want to cook without heating up my house or running up an unnecessary electric bill in the summer (I also hang my laundry out when the sun shines on our We(s)t Coast home.


  1. Crank the regular oven up to 350F/175C or 
  2. Set up the Sun Oven pointing in the direction of the sun, and adjust every half hour.  Start the wait for the 90 minutes of heating in the sun so the thermometer on the Sun Oven reads 350F/175C.  (Adjust the oven to have the sun coming in directly.  This recipe is not too wet so I had no problem with condensation-- should the glass on the Sun Oven mist up, just wipe it off.  WARNING: Always wear oven mitts when doing anything regarding the innards of the Sun Oven-- like putting the food in there or taking it out)

INGREDIENTS:  
Process 2 1/2 C. of Walnut pieces into a fine crumble in a food processor.
Combine the following with the walnuts above, and mix well:
1/3 C. Flaxseed Meal (I grind my own fresh in a coffee bean grinder)
2/3 C. Wholewheat Pastry Flour
1    tsp. Salt (I skipped the salt, and you could use "to taste" or "a pinch" as you desire)
1/2 C.   Maple Syrup
3+        Cloves of Garlic, chopped (Reserve a little of the shreds for topping the cookies)
2 tsp.    Vanilla Essence/Extract (optional)

1/2 C.   Chocolate Chips (I use the Mini-Chips that are vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO (optional)

METHOD:

  1. Have food processor and measured ingredients ready to go.  DO NOT PUT Chocolate chips in the food processor.  Put all other ingredients in the food processor
  2. After mixing the above ingredients together well,  mix in the chocolate chips if using.  
  3. Place 12 same size balls of dough on a parchment-covered cookie sheet (parchment means you don't need to use grease on the sheet), and press the cookies down. (You can put the cookies for the Sun Oven right on parchment paper on the shelves for the oven and carry the shelves out to the oven-- no pan or lid required.)
  4.  For the Regular Oven: Put in to bake for approximately 10 minutes (depending on your stove temperature-- they vary! Check frequently to make sure they are not scorching or burning-- yeah, they are rather labour-intense-- but sooo worth it!  Cool on a rack.  Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.
  5.  Put it in the Sun Oven for about 20 - 30 minutes at a temp that might fluctuate between 300F and 350F-- if the temperature is hotter than that, bake for about 10 minutes as in the oven recipe.) The cookies tend to look NOT done because they don't brown as much in the sun oven, but they are best removed a little early since they harden up as they cool (the Maple Syrup?) Cool on a rack in the pan (what I do).  Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.
Here is a sort of goofy photo of the cookies in the Sun Oven: (gives you an idea of all the reflection that goes on with the sun to bake these cookies)

Another Garlicky Recipe celebrating the diversity of the Stinking Rose!

Find more Garlicky Vegan Recipes here:



Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Garlic Mushrooms - Vegan, GlutenFree




The other day a fellow commented that "a day without garlic is not much of a day at all!"

I happen to agree with this statement and rejoiced when my husband brought home some mushrooms, because then we could have GARLIC Mushrooms!  Pity, my husband went for a long bikeride and missed the small batch that I cooked up today (I'm not all that mean-- there are still some fresh ones in the fridge for him to cook up for himself if he so chooses.)  You can find a photo of some browner mushrooms below-- yours are more apt to turn out like these.

I think the mushrooms he brought home were Baby Bellas, a smaller take on Portobellas.  Did you know that Crimini are an even smaller version of Portobellas?

In any case, they slice up rather raggedy and don't have that cute picture appeal when cooked that little white mushrooms do.

But they taste very delicious... tender and with that umami taste-- "umami" is gourmet for "je ne sais quoi".  It's that lovely 6th flavour that reminds you that some mushroom genes are not far off from human genes.... although you can eat mushrooms as a vegan.  Happy about that!
Image by Photos for You from Pixabay

So, with little more ado, here is the recipe for Garlic Mushrooms:

INGREDIENTS: (FOR 1 - 2 people)

6 (medium-large) -10 (medium-small) Mushrooms

1/4 cup Olive Oil if vegan -- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil + 2 Tablespoons Butter if not vegan                

(or 1/4 C. water or broth, if you don't consume oils)

4 fine-minced Garlic Cloves

1/4 cup of Parsley, Thyme or Celery leaves, minced (leave some for garnish)

Lemon Juice (only a squeeze)  **Watch video below for more lemon zest-y mushrooms

Sea Salt


METHOD:

  1. Clean up and slice the mushrooms Wipe or brush the mushrooms with a dry cloth or mushroom brush-- the less water on/in the mushroom, the better they cook
  2. Heat the saute pan (or use saute setting on your Instant Pot) 
  3. Add 2 T. Olive Oil or broth/water and add in mushrooms,  (with lemon zest as per video, if desired) and saute-ing  and stirring the them until golden
  4. Add in remaining ingredients: minced garlic,  parsley (or thyme, etc.) and squeeze of lemon.  Stir for a few minutes and plate.  Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.
  5. Garnish
  6. Enjoy!
Here is the video that shows you the how-to details--- ENJOY! 

Some other garlicky vegan recipes located at Hubpages: <-- click here and when you get there, just scroll down to find the 2 recipes.  Or you can click on the following images for the recipes (and remember to scroll down to find them)






Monday, August 19, 2019

Vegan Carrot Burgers


I checked to see what I had in the fridge.  Lots of greens (chard, etc.), a couple of zucchinis and 2 large carrots that seem to be coming to the end of their days (a little spongy shall we say?)

I am all for NO FOOD WASTE-- use it or compost it, and we were hungry.

So, I googled CARROT BURGERS and actually came across a delicious recipe that also uses 1/4 C. of walnuts (meaning you don't have to go and buy a large bag-- you can buy yourself a small quantity from the health store bulk bin) and 1/2 C. Panko-- something I have never bought, but I did have some finely grated soda crackers sitting in a container in the fridge that I used in lieu of panko in some other recipe-- they work well for us.  I didn't have fresh cilantro, but I did have some basil-- yes, I know they are not too similar-- not at all-- but it was a taste of herb we were after, right?  And I had everything else right here available.



I stuck it all into the food processor, and presto, it was easy to make 4 good sized patties as called for in the recipe.

But I don't use oil to fry, and I prefer just sticking stuff in my toaster oven, if possible, so that is what I did.

And they turned out fine.

Go HERE to find this recipe.  You can make some swaps for things that they call for that you like better or things that you have available, for things that you don't.  Otherwise, the recipe is perfect, I think.  Thanks to the people over at connoisseurusveg.com for this recipe! You might have time and energy to make up their spicy maple ketchup as well-- looks delish!


Chickpeas with Penne, Greens, Walnuts and Raisins


I am cooking up and submitting this recipe because I have a library book that has this recipe in it and I want to remember it.  The book is One-Dish Vegan Revised and Expanded Edition: 175 Soul-Satisfying Recipes for Easy and Delicious One-Pan and One-Plate Dinnersand I highly recommend it.

I do a number of subs for things I don't have in the house/fridge (example, I don't have baby spinach, I would never buy pine nuts, and I don't really like red pepper all that much).

I do find, however, that many recipe-makers tend to have a very tasty outcome and that is what I go for!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 - 12 oz of Penne pasta, uncooked (I am using brown rice penne- gluten-free)
  • 1/4 C. water
  • 5 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 oz Baby Kale(or other greens on-hand, such as chard or spinach), chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 tsp Chipotle Pepper powder (or 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes)
  • 1/2 C. Vegetable Broth (such as Golden Bouillon)
  • 1 15-oz can of Chickpeas or 1 1/2 C. cooked Chickpeas
  • 1/2 C. Raisins
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Basil (or 1 tsp. Fresh Basil, minced)
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1/4 C. toasted Walnuts 
METHOD:
  1. Toast the Walnuts: https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-toast-walnuts-2216935
  2. Cook the Penne in a large pasta pot in salted boiling water, occasionally stirring until just tender.
  3. While the pasta cooks, add water to a large skillet over medium heat and add in the garlic, greens, and Chipotle pepper.  Cook, stirring, until the greens are limp and wilty (2 minutes).
  4. Add in the broth, chickpeas, raisins, basil and salt and pepper.  Cook a minute or two longer to blend flavors.  Keep warm over very low heat.
  5. Drain the cooked pasta well and return it to the pot.  Add the other mixture and the walnuts.  Toss to combine.
  6. Serve hot.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Zucchini and Pasta with Creamy Lemon-Basil Sauce



Are you looking for a way to use up all those zucchinis and/or basil in some kind of delicious one-dish meal?  Well, look no further... here is a delightful vegan pasta dish that will satisfy your hunger and your taste buds.

The following vegan (no animal products) dish is also oil free, so it is pretty low fat but you will think it is full of cheese.  You will see why!  This recipe feeds 4-6 adults.

INGREDIENTS:


  • 1 1/2 C. cooked or canned Cannellini Beans or other White Beans
  • 1/2 C. Vegetable Broth 
  • 3 T. Fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 3 T. Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • Salt 
  • 1/4 C. Fresh Basil (minced)
  • 16 oz uncooked Linguine
  • 2 medium size Zucchini cut into long thin  strips

METHOD:

  1. Blend up (or use a food processor) the beans, broth, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt.  It should be smooth and creamy, the texture of regular cheese sauce (or as close as you can get.
  2. Stir the minced basil into the sauce and set aside.
  3. Cook the linguine in a pasta pot (high pot sides make for less irritating boilings-over).  Stir occasionally.  While the pasta is still NOT quite cooked, add in the zucchini strips and continue cooking for a few more minutes until the zuke is just tender.  
  4. Drain the pasta-zucchini well, and then add back to the pasta pot.
  5. Add the sauce and gently toss until combined.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Vegan Blueberry - Lemon Bars




The harvest fruit is just pouring in these days, and the blueberries, sad to say, have pretty much reached the end of their season (thanks also to the little flocks of birds who make daily forays to the bush before and after I arrive).

This yummy vegan dessert is a fruit swap for a recipe using strawberries (link below BLUEBERRY-LEMON BAR recipe).  I don't have any strawberries on hand, but I did have all the other ingredients + blueberries, so....

There is a magic ingredient that allows this vegan recipe to look and taste like a lemon bar made with eggs.  Well, maybe 2 magic (that is, unusual) ingredients depending on how hip you are in your vegan subbing and general gourmet exploration of the vegan life.

Also, if you are suffering from diabetes and/or are obese and want to lose weight the healthy way, you might be interested in the excellent free online series of videos starting Tuesday July 30th with many of the inspiring Forks Over Knives physicians and scientists making speaking appearances.  Vegan physicians.  You can find out more and link to the video series by taking this 45-second quiz to see how your personality either helps or/and hinders your weight-loss plan. Click>>>


RECIPE FOR VEGAN BLUEBERRY- LEMON BARS


TOOLS and MATERIALS 


*8" x 8" square pan-- the original recipe author insists on this!  9"x9" is too big.  Won't work!

*Parchment Paper to line the pan 

*Lemon Squeezer.  I use an electric one that keeps the seeds from dropping through (see below) but any kind of squeezing apparatus is fine (the electric one is also very fast and preferable for anyone who has wrist problems, arthritis, etc.)

*Food Processor and/or Blender-- Food Processor is easier to get into but the blender does a smoother job for the fruit portion of the recipe.

*Large-ish mixing bowl

*Large-ish pot/pan for cooking the sauce

*Steamer or Steamer Basket for Magic Ingredient #1

*Fridge/Freezer-- don't think this will work if you are camping.


INGREDIENTS:

CRUST:
(This is the most delish vegan shortbread crust I have come across)


  • 1 C.    Oat Flour (use GF Oat Flour if you want to keep this Gluten Free)
  • 1/4 C. Coconut Flour
  • 1/4 C. Fine Sea Salt
  • 1/4 C. Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1/4 C. Maple Syrup (the real stuff, not the pancake take-off)
  • 1 tsp.  Almond Extract (or Vanilla)
=== Go ahead and make the crust since it will need to be cool before you add the filling!  Preheat the oven to 350F/177C.  Line the 8"x8" pan with parchment paper (important).

  1. In the large bowl whisk all the dry ingredients together: oat flour, coconut flour, salt.
  2. Stir in the 'wet' ingredients: Melted Coconut Oil, Maple Syrup, Almond Extract
  3. Stir well.
  4. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir dough a couple of times-- it should be soft and slightly spongy.
  6. Spoon the dough into the lined pan.  I began pressing it down uniformly from the middle of the pan until it covered evenly from corner to corner.
  7. Prick in several places with a fork.
  8. Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until the edges are beginning to tan ("barely golden").  The crust should be softly set but not yet crisp.  Let it cool completely in the pan.  Go ahead and prepare the filling.
BLUEBERRY-LEMON FILLING:
  • MAGIC INGREDIENT #1: 1 C. peeled, small-cubed (1/3" cubes) Yukon Gold potato (about 1 medium potato)
  • 1 C.   fresh  OR  frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 3/4 C. fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice (3 - 3 1/2 juicy lemons)
  • 2 T.    arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 C.  Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1/4  C.+ 1 T. Maple Syrup
  • 2 T.      Almond Extract (or Vanilla)
  • MAGIC INGREDIENT #2:  1/4 tsp. Hawaiian Black Lava Salt ("Kala Namak") which has a slight sulphur undertaste that will make the filling have a somewhat egg-y taste (or just use fine sea salt)
===I'm keeping to the original author's instructions for the filling:
  • Make sure you have exactly a cup-full of potato cubes, no more, no less, and steam until fork-tender. Avoid steaming in the Microwave.  I steamed in my Instant Pot set for 10 minutes, but the author recommends using a steamer or steamer basket for 20 - 25 minutes
  • Put the blueberries in the blender or food processor and process until pureed.
  • Let the potato cool a bit, and add it, lemon juice, arrowroot starch, coconut oil, maple syrup, almond extract and black salt to the carafe of the blender or food processor, and run for about 3 - 5 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.  It should be slightly thickening and smooth.
  • Transfer the blueberry filling to the large saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat until the filling thickens-- this happens fairly quickly, so be careful not to overheat or to leave the stove for more than a couple of seconds.
  • Pour the filling carefully over the crust-- for me, it just all slid into place, but you might need to spread it with a spatula.  
  • Loosely cover the pan (I used a spare piece of parchment paper) and put the pan into the freezer for 3 hours (to speed up the process) OR just place in the refrigerator to set if you are not in a big hurry.  After placing it in the freezer, (for the sped-up version) put it in the fridge.  It will firm up and set the longer it is in the fridge.  
  • When you feel that it is sufficiently dense in texture, gently remove the bar from the pan and set on a cutting board.  Cut into 16 equal sized (small) pieces.
  • Return the bars to the pan and the fridge until ready to serve.  Leftovers (haha) will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
=== Enjoy!  Ashley's original strawberry-lemonade bar recipe is found HERE.

Here is the handy-dandy electric Black and Decker lemon juicer that I use:














Friday, July 19, 2019

Summer Cooking: The New Solar Oven

Here is my latest "cooking gadget"-- An American Sun Oven -- solar oven.  It is some swanky item and it has been on my mind for a long time.

So I ordered it.

And then my husband and I were ill with a virus for about a month during which there were many beautiful sunny days, but we didn't have the energy.

Hahah... energy.  The one thing that the solar oven brings to mind is energy-- from the sun!  Solar energy.

Yesterday I opened the box and took it and all its accouterments out and laid them on the kitchen table.  I re-read the manual and watched the video online.

We took it into the backyard and learned how to adjust the leg so that I could follow the sun at the right angle.  I learned how to "focus" the incoming sun as well as position the oven properly.  I learned how to shut the various 'clasps' so that the heat would not further escape.

I made up a delicious baked bean dish so we could use the beans this weekend for burritos or perhaps Haystacks (that famous Adventist Salad where you pile lettuce, nacho chips, and a bunch of salad stuff in a "haystack" shape and then put baked beans and cheese on top). (fake cheese for us vegans).

I had fun running in and out and watching it cook, re-positioning it for the sun, etc.


WHA...?????


But as the the afternoon wore on (I didn't start the cooking process until noon), I noticed that the temperature went from 350ish down to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  I couldn't see what had gone wrong.  I also noticed that sometimes it seemed like there was a wind (it is a windy day) blowing inside because the little swinging rack was gently swinging away. 

And because it looked so delicious at 4:30, I decided it was done.  But when I tried the beans I was disappointed to find out that they were still very firm.  So I put it in the regular oven to finish it off.  We will see what we will see.

I think I need to get out there earlier as they casually mention 8:30 AM in their talk about the recipes.  Earlier in the day, and hopefully, with NO wind in the chamber (at one time the glass window was all steamed up).  I believe that the clasps probably need to be tightened up with a screw driver and untightened when the food is done.  Perhaps cool air was leaking in through the front as well.  I will have to do some looking to see if that is what was happening.

I am not feeling defeated.

I will be back with some successful recipes.

You can watch for them by signing up with me on Pinterest and Instagram where I will notify you of any successful solar cooking (and other vegan recipes, etc.).

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

REVIEW: YES Cacao Botanical Chocolate Bars: Dirty, KarmaMellOwl and GabaBaba

YES Botanical Chocolate Bars
Okay, as a big promoter of eating organic foods, I admit that I generally share recipes for whole food plant-based dishes that contain organic fruits and vegetables-- if you have been here before, you know the recipes: vegan soups, stews, 'cheeses', sauces, casseroles, breakfast foods, etc.
But what could I do when I received an email asking if I would consider reviewing some CHOCOLATE BARS?? (or more accurately, 99% organic, vegan, wild-sourced, organic, botanic cacao bars with No GMOs, and studded with healthy botanicals (herbs, spices, tea, mushrooms, essential oils??)).
They are also NOT ROASTED which means... tah dah.... RAW VEGAN!!  Oh, and handmade (I guess that means that they DO NOT have the chockies going down the conveyor belts like this classic clip we remember from an I Love Lucy episode:


OF COURSE I SAID 'YES' TO REVIEWING 'YES CACAO' BOTANICAL CHOCOLATE BARS!

And then because I live in Canada, it took several weeks to pony-express the package here via CUSTOMS from Santa Cruz, California.   Just when I thought they had either forgotten to put the package in the mail, that it was a big old scam to get my banking ID or whatever, or maybe there there was a crisis of some sort with our countries' trade relations.... they arrived!!

3 small, flat packages wrapped well so as not to crush their precious cargo.  Here are my reviews of each of the 3:

The 1st BAR Reviewed: DIRTY-- LAUNCH INTO YOUR DAY with Shilajit, Tulsi, Reishi, Maca




My husband and I had just come back from a dinner at my fave vegan eatery in our small city.  We had ordered their spinach burrito, forgetting how massive it is.  Delicious veggie fare with rice and beans and corn and a veggie sour cream topping and salad.

 We were still feeling quite full when we arrived home and found the package with the chocolate in it.  However, chocolate seemed like a very nice little dessert.  We each had a couple of the small squares.  They were silky smooth, dark cacao-- the difference from dark chocolate is that cacao doesn't have the sort of biting bitter edge that dark chocolate does, which I appreciate.  I could sense a tingle of Peppermint-- and when I read the ingredients, I did, in fact find organic Peppermint Oil as the last ingredient listed, so presumably, the smallest portion of the  botanical ingredients was the Peppermint Oil.  I liked the hint and do know from long-time use of essential oils, that Peppermint oil is quite assertive, even when minuscule amounts are used (for example, just dipping the tip of a toothpick into Peppermint oil and then into a cup of hot water is enough oil to flavour a cup of peppermint tea.)

Besides just the teeny hint of Peppermint Oil there was nothing that shouted "this chocolate is full of healthy herbs, reishi mushroom, and maca".  The flavour was pleasant and we also  noted that we felt a warming sensation when we ate it that was also pleasant.

I appreciate the cute little zip-lock feature on the packages so that one can keep the remnants of chocolate 'fresh' in a cool place, as advised on the packaging.

There was certainly no 'medicinal' taste such as one finds in certain chocolate-flavoured diet 'treats' that are claimed to be healthy because of various 'supplement' additives.  I am pretty impressed with the flavour and the mouth appeal of the "Dirty" bar.  It also seemed that just a couple of squares were sufficient, and that I wasn't hit with the sort of 'crave' response that I often have when eating regular chocolate.

Here are the ingredients for the "Dirty" bar:  (some of them I still have to google, such as Shilajit and Gynostemma.)


Very tasty, and all the ethical and health features impress the heck out of me, as I said at the beginning.  The price is a little steep at $5 USD (about $6.71 CAD) but good organic, fairtrade chocolate runs to that these days in the local stores, and doesn't have half the 'benefits' that these bars would seem to have.  As well, these 'botanical' bars are being marketed in much the way that supplements are, and there is a line on the front of the package that reads: "Benefits are cumulative with regular use."  While I am not a big fan of 'supplements', preferring whole food, plant-based eating, I might still buy into the notion that a square of this chocolate every day  is worth a trial (in the case of the 'Dirty; bar, with the goal of "grounding."

Where can you get the 'Dirty Bar'?  Not in Canadian stores at this point, but if you live in the United States, you can find several locations and are able to look them up on the YES Cacao site.  <<order at the site if you live in Canada.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

the 2nd Bar, GABA BABA reviewed: (FIND YOUR NATURAL RHYTHM with GABA, Kava, Blue Lotus, Turmeric)

Cutesy little name for this bar, capitalizing on GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid.  Astonishingly, GABA is an "inhibiting neurotransmitter" and helps in regulating excitability in mammal (human) nervous systems.  GABA is also responsible for the regulation of muscle tone.  Again, if you expect to feel instantly calm when eating your first Gaba Baba bar, you will be disappointed-- as it says on the package: "Benefits are cumulative with regular use."  Other botanical ingredients are listed below.

Like the last bar, "Dirty", the cacao-cacao butter mixture was silky smooth in the "Gaba Baba" bar with lovely mouth-appeal and a nice dark chocolate-y taste.  Again, because it is cacao, there was no bitter after-taste like you often find in chocolate that is made from cocoa powder--which has undergone varied treatments before the process of making the chocolate.

It seemed to me that the Gaba Baba bar had less of a pronounced flavour than did the 'Dirty Bar' in which I picked up both hints of Peppermint essential oil and Tusli ("Holy Basil")-- I like both flavour combinations equally.

Both of these bars were delicious and satisfied my desire for chocolate, but after a couple of small tabs, I did not feel compelled to gobble down the whole bar as I often do with other chocolate bars.  I just felt satisfied and content to put them back in their little zip-lock package until the next time I felt the need for a hit.

Each three piece segment of the bar spells Y-E-S which I guess you could say is positively affirmative of this bar?
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SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST (OOPS-- spoiler! )



the 3rd BAR reviewed- KARMA MELLOWL with Turmeric, Bacopa, Lions Mane: MASTER YOUR MIND!

As you can see from the package, only 41% of Karma MellOwl is composed of Cacao, considerably less than the other two bars.  This bar has slightly more sugar content (6%), and a whacking 12 g of Fat (4 g more than the Dirty Bar has).  Besides regular sun-dried cane sugar it contains organic Lucuma in second-listing position, an indication that they have used quite a bit of lucuma.

Lucuma is a fruit grown in the Andes and often used to sweeten ice cream and other foods.  It is said to taste similar to Maple Syrup or Butterscotch.  The pulp contains a full range of sugars: glucose, fructose, sucrose, inositol, as well as citric acid.  The sweet butterscotchy flavour of the Karma MellOwl bar is likely because of the amount of Lucuma used with a boost in cacao butter and a cut back in the proportion of actual cacao.
Lucuma Fruit- CC BY-SA 4.0
One other interesting botanical in this bar is the Lion's Mane Mushroom.  The Lion's Mane showed up in our local health food store this past couple of months, so I know that they grow around here.  This fungus grows on hardwood trees and contains compounds that are supposed to be significant for the brain.  They don't look like other mushrooms you might see in the bins at your grocery store:
Lion's Mane growing on a hardwood tree. 

While I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to sample all three of these  handmade botanical-cacao bars, I have to say that if I were given only one, I would choose the Karma MellOwl.  I love the sweet, butterscotch/caramel notes and I probably have most need for the botanicals related to the brain that are in this bar (being 68 and now hyper-aware of how brains can slam downhill into dementia if we don't take care of stimulating them).  But mostly I would choose this bar because it is so gosh-darn delicious!!

I encourage you to go and take a look at the YES Cacao website and find out more about the 'superfood' botanicals that are in these bars and other features that I only glazed over here.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Braised Red Cabbage Over Baked Sweet Potato- Rainbow YUM

Braised Red Cabbage over Sweet Potato
 I recently purchased Anthony William's Medical Medium Life-Changing Foods: Save Yourself and the Ones You Love with the Hidden Healing Powers of Fruits & Vegetables and although I am a skeptic around the "medical medium" tag, I was excited by the book's layout.  He introduces what he calls the Holy Four: Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs & Spices, and Wild Foods (Raw Honey being the only departure from the vegan whole foods listed as life-changing).

Each "life-changing" item, example: Cranberries, contains an Introduction explaining why the food is included, Conditions (such as allergies, staph infections, etc.) that eating the food can help with, a section on Symptoms (that could point to conditions that can be healed), Emotional Support and a Spiritual Lesson (for those who follow Louise Hay and other New Age gurus).

There is also a section on Tips and a RECIPE that uses the various life-changing foods, and highlighting the one that you have chosen to look up.

Soooo... we have tried a few delicious recipes and talked about some of the tips.  But the recipe-meal that has really excited us is this braised red cabbage over sweet potato.  Sweet Potato and Red Cabbage and a sauce that contains turmeric, ginger, olive oil and raw honey not only tastes exquisite, but it is power-packed with nutrition, and soooooooo beautiful to look at (remember, the deepest, brightest colours are the ones to go for with vegetables).  I have slightly modified the recipe, as happens with recipes-- you may do that also!


Here's one of the TIPS from the book's section on Sweet Potatoes: 'After you've cooked a batch of sweet potatoes (steaming and baking are the healthiest preparations), set some aside to save for later in the fridge.....a few bites of sweet potato when you are having trouble sleeping in the middle of the night will help get you some rest." p. 177
I would suggest that this recipe is well suited to anyone who has been vegan for quite a while, because chances are you will have most the ingredients on hand already-- and it also is a great choice for those transitioning to vegan who are looking for recipes that are simple to make, nutritious, and delicious.  Everything you see on the plate you can get at a nearby grocery store (with the exception of raw honey), or maybe from your back garden?



RAW HONEY??  Yes, this is the nutrient-packed sweetener that Anthony William recommends, and no, it will not work for many vegans.  For those who see honey as being flower parts merely passed through a bee's body, it is an acceptable choice. Our son (long-time vegan) calls himself "Beegan" when making the decision to eat a little raw honey.



So, here are the INGREDIENTS required for this recipe:

  • Makes 2-4 servings:
  • 4 Sweet Potatoes
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, minced ( I put the Garlic in the Sauce instead-- see below)
  • 1 Onion, diced (I used a red onion to match the red cabbage haha)
  • 1 T. Coconut Oil (Optional-- we left it out and used water for the sauté)
  • 1 small Red Cabbage (goes a long way)-- shredded or finely chopped
FOR THE SAUCE:
    • 1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 1 T. Raw Honey
    • 1 T. Lemon Juice (I used a cube of Lemon-Garlic.  See HERE).
    • 1 T. Grated Fresh Ginger

GARNISH:  4 T. Minced Parsley

(If you are feeding 4 people, double the quantity of  ingredients for the sauce)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/204 degrees C  
  2. Bake the potatoes on a bake sheet for 45-60 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.
  3. In a large pan sauté diced onion (and garlic, if you going to do that) over medium heat  5 to 10 minutes, stirring until the onions are translucent and soft. (Or follow directions for Instant Pot) 
  4. Add in the cabbage and sea salt, along with 1/2 cup of water.
  5. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes until the cabbage is tender.  Stir occasionally and add a splash of moisture as needed.
  6. Split open the sweet potatoes and mash slightly on the sides.  Stuff generously.
  7. Make the sauce just before serving the potatoes.  Add the sauce ingredients (except for raw honey) and stir until bubbly (1-2 minutes).  Remove small pan from the heat and stir in the raw honey.
  8. Garnish with fresh parsley.

You can grow your own sweet potatoes, even in Canada... I am.... see HERE.

Try Best Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Sweet Potatoes

Get Anthony William's book "Life Changing Foods" from Amazon HERE.



Friday, May 17, 2019

Making Basic Whole Wheat Bread Using a Stand Mixer and a Dehydrator


I am always on the look-out for great videos** that can illustrate a concept or recipe that I am including on my blog.  "Making Basic Whole Wheat Bread" is a current interest of mine.  I have the books.  I have bookmarked the links.  I went out and bought a Kitchen Aid stand mixer after having drooled and dreamed about one for a very long time.  I thought that I would start turning out perfect bread loaves (something I have never in my life done) but it was not to be.

This looks like a high maintenance bread recipe, eh?  Stand mixer and dehydrator for raising the dough?  I can see my grandmother chuckle.  She was always able to make more loaves from scratch than I could from with whatever "no fail" recipe I had at hand.  But somehow I know there are others out there who have the fancy equipment and are dreamers like I am.  This bread is for you!


Please watch the video (above) to get all the fine points you will find transcribed below in the recipe.  A video is really worth about 10,000 printed words, right?  After you watch the video you might want to copy and paste and print the following recipe:

RECIPE FOR MAKING BASIC WHOLE WHEAT BREAD USING A STAND MIXER

Set up the Mixer.

INGREDIENTS:

Measure out :
10 C. Fresh-Ground Whole Wheat Flour OR 6 C. Whole Wheat/ 4 C. White Flour (60% Whole Wheat)
1 T. Sea Salt
2 T. Instant Dry Yeast
6 T. White Sugar
5 C. Water at 110 degrees F. (you can barely keep your finger in it for 10 seconds) From the "The Back to Eden Cookbook" there is a suggestion that you use nut milk instead of water to get a tastier bread.

METHOD:

1. Set up the Mixer with the Cookie Mixer (General Mixer)
2. Add 5 C. W/W Flour to bowl
3. Add 1 T. Sea Salt to bowl
4. Add 2 T. Instant Dry Yeast to bowl
5. Add 6 T. White Sugar to the bowl
6. Put on your General Mixer / Cookie Mixer
7. Raise your bowl (Kitchen Aid) or Lower your Mixer (Viking)
8. Mix on LOWEST setting for a minute to get all mixed together
9. Slowly add the 5 C. of 110 degree F. water while the mixer runs on lowest setting
10. After water has all been poured in, let it continue to run for about another minute until mixture is fully incorporated.
11. Begin to add other 5 C. of flour little by little. You can turn up the speed on the mixer when the flour will not be flying all over. You may NOT need all 5 C. of flour.
12. Bread should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl. When you see that the dough is pulling away, stop the mixer and Lower the bowl (Kitchen Aid), Raise the mixer (Viking)
13. Remove the cookie dough mixer.
14. Put in the bread hook and Raise the bowl (Kitchen Aid), Lower the mixer (Viking)
15. The dough hook should pull the dough from sides of the bowl more. You may increase the speed again. .
16. Wait for flour to work itself in before adding any more (and keep your eye on the sides of the bowl)
17. Add small amounts of flour until the pulling away is pretty much complete
18. The magic in the bread happens when it pulls everything off the sides and it sticks unto itself and not to the mixer.
19. When you judge that all the flour is off the sides, stop the machine and flip the bread dough over carefully to see if there is any flour on the bottom of the pot.
20. Run the mixer for another minute or so, adding another tablespoon of flour if you think it is warranted. Whole wheat dough is better a little on the wet side than it is if it is too dry (=bricks or paperweights). Stop the mixer and lower the bowl (Kitchen Aid) or raise the mixer (Viking)
21. Remove dough hook.
22. Pat dough lightly to even out a bit in bowl.
23. Let it rest for about 20 minutes (make yourself some tea?)

RAISING THE DOUGH IN THE DEHYDRATOR

My old Excalibur-- bought on eBay, back when people did that-- makes a good dough raiser.  95 degrees Fahrenheit
You do not need to use the dehydrator-- it is standing in for something people have used for generations called a "proof box".  If you live in a house where lots of bread yeast is in the air, you can just do it old-school, sitting on top of the fridge with a warm damp cloth on top.  Or in a very cool oven (100 degrees F.) I have this idle dehydrator that I am experimenting with.

24. Get the Excalabar Dehydrator ready for the raising.
25. Take out all shelves except for one.
26. Put a flat tray of warm water on the bottom of the dehydrator
27. Fit the dehydrator shelf  just above the flat tray of water
28. Place the bowl of dough with a clean damp tea towel (linen works great) over the dough bowl and engage the setting for the raising.
29. Raise for one half hour (30 minutes) to 1 hour.
30. Preheat baking oven to 410 degrees F.
The dough rose enormously after 30 minutes in the dehydrator!

31. DO NOT PUNCH THE DOUGH DOWN. There will be big air bubbles in the dough and the bread will have holes in it. Put the bowl back on the mixer and using the dough hook, mix down for about a minute and a half. (Really, watch the video a couple of times)
32. If you want a fluffier loaf of bread, you can let it do a rise in the bowl for another 30 minutes in the dehydrator, or you can divide it into loaves/buns at this point and let it rise for about 20 more minutes on the kitchen counter before putting into the oven to bake. If you choose to do the second rising, then preheat your oven to 410 degrees before putting the bread in the dehydrator (and kneading afterwards with dough hook again).
33. Bake bread for about 30 minutes for a small loaf. About 20 minutes for buns. (This recipe made me 3 medium sized loaves)
34. Cool completely on racks before slicing.  If you want a tender crust, pat the crust when you put it on the racks with a sponge dipped in olive oil (this is from the "The Back to Eden Cookbook").       I haven't tried that... yet.

**I am very thankful to the woman who made the video for this recipe.  She appears to have had a blog with the recipe on it, but it no longer exists, so I took the recipe from the video and transcribed it to fit with adjustments as to what I was planning to do.

HERE ARE SOME OTHER BREAD-RELATED ARTICLES:

Bread Baking Tips by Darlene Blaney, PhD Nutritionist

Cranberry Orange Bread Recipe (Healthy Choices Recipe)

Millet-Honey-Nut Bread Recipe by Wyona Hertwig, Master Baker

Multi-Grain Sunflower Seed Mineral Bread Recipe, by Wyona Hertwig, Master Baker

Grandma's Health Bread Recipe (Adventist Cooking School)

Mediterranean Pocket Bread Recipe (Adventist Cooking School)



Sunday, April 21, 2019

Blueberry Nice Cream on Raspberry Chia Pudding

Blueberry Nice Cream on Raspberry Chia Pudding
If you follow the recipes on Organic Granny (you can do that on this site itself, or by joining the group on Facebook called Organic Granny Veggie Recipes) you will know that I have a longstanding relationship with chia seeds.  These high protein, high omega3 tiny seeds just happen to be the base for many of my dessert recipes-- either as a primary content or as a binder-- and some other recipes as well.  I sometimes make up something called Chia Gel-- basically, chia seeds gelled in water-- and keep it on hand in a mason jar in the fridge.  I often use the gel as a base for the puddings.  You can find out more about the chia gel and how to use it HERE.  Find more recipes at the base of this recipe post.

RASPBERRY CHIA PUDDING
INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cups Organic Chia Gel (make ahead of time, up to 24 hours)
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Raspberry Jam or Jelly (vegan is preferred - or blend and sweeten ripe fresh or frozen berries)
  • 1 Cup Non-dairy Milk (such as Almond, Coconut, Hemp, etc.)
  • 2 T. Maple Syrup or other preferred sweetener (optional)

BLUEBERRY NICE CREAM
INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 Very Ripe Organic Bananas, peeled, chunked and frozen in a baggie for 24 hours
  • 3/4 Cup Frozen Organic Blueberries
PUT THE PUDDING TOGETHER:
  • Stir together the Chia Gel, the Non-dairy Milk, the Sweetener, and the Jam or blended raspberries.  
  • Spoon into 1/2 pint mason jars (or old-fashioned glasses)
  • Put into fridge again to set for a couple of hours, or during the time you make the Nice Cream
PUTTING THE NICE CREAM & CHIA PUDD TOGETHER: 
  • AT SERVING TIME: Put frozen banana chunks and blueberries together into a high-speed blender like Vitamix, and process until smooth.
  • Scoop a 1/4 of the Nice Cream over each of the 4 chia puddings 
  • Sprinkle a few hemp seeds on each NiceCream as a garnish (optional, but yummy)
  • Serve immediately!
This is a lovely dessert that can be eaten by itself anytime and as breakfast!

OTHER CHIA RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE TO TRY:


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Recipe for Chickpea Tofu: By Ally


A dear long-time friend has passed along this recipe for Chickpea Tofu for anyone who is sensitive or allergic to Tofu (soy).

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup "Raw" Chickpea Flour
1 1/2 cup Water
Pinch of Turmeric



METHOD:

  1. Dissolve 1/2 cup of Chickpea flour in 1/2 cup of the water.  Add a pinch of Turmeric powder for colour.
  2. Heat remaining cup of water over medium heat.
  3. Add in the Chickpea paste and whisk/stir, scraping sides down.
  4. When the mixture is boiling and thickened, pour into a pan and let it cool.  
  5. Cut into desired shapes after completely cool. 
Ally also states that she often eats it with a Burmese Salad:  Fried Onions and Garlic along with Green Spring Onions, Tamarind Juice, chopped Cilantro and optional Chili pepper and Fish Sauce.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) and Spinach Patties- Burgers (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

This chickpea-spinach patty or burger recipe grew from some consternation with a commercial brand of chickpea-spinach burger that had more than a few ingredients, a few of which I felt could be excluded from a recipe and still have the same flavourful and 'kind' appeal without those ingredients.

 Plus, as an ethical vegan, I was not crazy about the idea that the particular brand is just a side line for a longtime "meat packing company."  While I think it is wonderful that there are an amazing number of vegan "meats" hitting the market, I don't think that I am reduced to buying a product that is likely just a way for this company to capture some of the 'new' revenue coming in with vegan foods, while they continue to support the factory-farming of animals, their "inhumane" slaughter  (is there a humane way to kill a sentient being to eat?) and the ongoing other ethical and morale concerns perpetrated by the meat industries.
The 8th Annual Food Revolution Summit, April 27 - May 5

So, yeah, this recipe was developed.  There are quite a few other vegan chickpea burger recipes online that you might want to google.  Some modified versions of them will likely turn up on here in the near-ish future since I plan to do a series of recipes that are (not exactly) copy-cats of some of the commercial burgers to show that these recipes can be put together without the kinds of ingredients that are often just meant to preserve shelf-life or be more like the solid-bulky texture you got used to with a hamburger, for example.

This recipe uses fabulous aquafaba (or a gel produced from chickpea "juice") as the "eggs" that appear as binders in the non-vegan burger recipes.  I was originally set to use the usual "flaxseed egg" (2 Tbsp. Flaxseeds plus 1/4 cup water) but noticed the chunky gel that I had poured off my home-cooked chickpeas as it sat in the fridge in a mason jar.  I subbed a 1/4 cup of it (picture below) for the flaxseed egg.  And it worked well!  I would suggest that you use the flaxseed gel if you feel less comfortable with using aquafaba.

Here is a close-up of the Aquafaba magic gel.... the thick liquid that came from cooking my chickpeas in the Instant Pot
 The original recipe I was most attracted to had 18 ingredients.  At the time I was "developing" this recipe (or "throwing it together" might be a less pretentious description), my husband and I were quite hungry, having gone past our usual suppertime schedule.  So, while I knew that it might be minimally tastier if I searched for and measured out a bunch of individual spices (cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, ground ginger, etc.) it would work just as well for our not very discerning taste buds if we just used a really good variety of organic Mild Curry Powder that involves all the of the above spices, and then some.  If you have experience with dealing with spices, or have a favourite formula that you love, by all means, use that in this recipe!

I also did a short cut on the 2 Tbsp. of Lemon Juice and the 1 Tbsp. of Garlic Puree because I use a combo frozen cube of Lemon Juice-Garlic every day in our smoothie (yes, it IS potent).  I just tossed a cube of that in-- easy peasy.  I include that in the recipe in case you want to go ahead and try making those cubes yourself, the recipe is HERE.  It really comes in handy for a lot of recipes (as well as for our smoothie, of course heheh).

So, here is a photo of the reduced number of ingredients:

INGREDIENTS FOR VEGAN CHICKPEA AND SPINACH PATTIES/BURGERS:

  • 2 Tbsp. Flaxseeds plus 1/4 cup Water OR 1/4 cup thick Aquafaba (Chickpea juice gel)
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1/2 Bell Pepper (red, yellow or orange-- green are unripe peppers)
  • 1 tsp. Oil
  • 1 tsp. Mild Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp. Red Chili Powder (I used Chipotle)
  • 1 Tbsp. Garlic Puree and 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice or 1 Garlic-Lemon cube
  • 1 Tbsp. Tomato Puree/paste
  • 14-oz/114 ml can Chickpeas (save the 'juice') OR 1 1/2 - 2 cups of cooked Chickpeas
  • 1 cup Baby Spinach
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup Chickpea Flour
DIRECTIONS:

  1. If making a Flaxseed egg, combine the seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Finely slice the onion, and chop the pepper into small cubes.  
  3. Stir-fry the Onion in the Oil over high heat, stirring continuously  Add in the Curry Powder. Stir for 3-5 minutes until golden.
  4. Add in Bell Pepper, Chili, Garlic Puree, Lemon Juice (or cube), and Tomato Puree/Paste.  Stir another 3-5 minutes until soft.
  5. Set aside to cool (briefly)
  6. When cool, add the mixture to a blender or food processor and blend until a smooth paste.
  7. To the food processor, add in the Chickpeas, Spinach, Flax egg or Aquafaba gel,  and a pinch of Salt.
  8. Process until mostly smooth, although a rougher texture of Chickpeas is great.  If you think it is too smooth, mash up some more chickpeas and add them in without further processing.
  9. Dump this mixture into a medium-large bowl and mix in the cup of Chickpea Flour.
  10. Stir until it is evenly mixed in.
  11. You can either divide the mass into six equal lumps and fry with in a pan with some oil, or you can turn the oven to 400F, cover a pan with parchment paper, and spoon six burger shapes onto the pan.  Bake for about 15 minutes on each side, more if you are not happy with the texture.
  12. These patties (baked in the oven) resemble pancakes, but are savory and have a very nice texture that is not like a cookie or a pancake...


Here are some other recipes you might also like to try:

How to make ChiaSeed Gel and How To Use It

How to Make Yummy No-Meat Balls (Gluten Free)

Barley Pecan Burger

Mushroom Walnut Burger

Vegetable Burger

The Classic Vegan Roast or Burger

Join  Organic Granny Veggie Recipes Facebook for lots more Transitioning-to-Vegan Recipes

3 Fun Things To Do With Grandkids in Edmonton, Alberta

3 Fun Things To Do With Grandkids in Edmonton, Alberta
Visit Fort Edmonton Park & A Review of Other Things You Can Do With Kids & Grandkids In Edmonton,Alberta (CLICK above)