Friday, December 23, 2011

Bark! The Herald Angels Sing!

I've been baking up a storm in anticipation for Christmas - I'm so thankful to Mattie for his vegan butter recipe (my white chocolate version is found here), as this stuff enabled me to make all my favourite Xmas goodies that call for margarine.  With the allergy crap around here, this white chocolate stuff is the only thing that makes a sub!  And given that everything is so sweet, it goes perfectly!  This year's baking assortment is totally Kyson safe with no allergy stuff.  I've made the usual gingerbread, orange carrot cookies, sugar cookies, ginger crinkles, etc. but I needed to have a few things to whip up quickly to satisfy a nearly-four-year-old's urge to constantly be busy baking something. 

Enter bark!  I used to make a chocolate one with Oreo's, but given the palm and soy content, those were a no-go.  So I whipped up some alternatives...first, a bark with just melted Enjoy Life chocolate chunks (about 1 cup) with about 1 cup of semi-crushed PC Blue Menu Alphabet Pretzels (no soy or other vegetable oil - hooray!) then spread on a cookie sheet with wax paper and chilled in the fridge (of course, once chilled, broken into pieces).  I honestly think this bark has the look and texture of a peanut bark - but is happily nut-free!  The saltiness of the pretzels makes this super yummy. 

I also used up some of my expensive Natural Candy Store order and made crunchy candy cane bark - this time, 2 cups of chocolate chunks (melted) with about 1 cup of crispy rice cereal and about 4 ounces of crushed candy canes.  

I can't decide which one I love more!

I'm getting ready to book Kyson's allergy follow up for May 2012 and am already getting my hopes up that he will grow out of SOMETHING.  If I had to pick, I'd love to have legumes back.  Fingers crossed!

Hope you and yours have a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2012!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Baked Vegan Doughnuts

OK, so I seem to be making some really unhealthy things. But really, they are just distractions for my major seitan post that keeps building and building!

For years now, I've been searching for doughnut baking pans. I checked at Walmart a number of times (I thought that surely they would have them given that they sell fast-foodish stuff and it seemed right up their alley) but to no avail. I had seem them on, but I didn't feel like paying more for shipping than the price of the item itself. Finally, I made a very rare stop in at Michael's and to my surprise, I found them there! I was so giddy with excitement that I couldn't have cared less that I never bothered to cut out the 40% off-one-item coupon at home. As soon as I got home I washed them up and pulled out Vegan Yum Yum, remembering that a few years ago she was the queen of the vegan doughnut.

I whipped up a batch, subbing rice milk for the soy, canola oil for the marg and salba for the egg replacer. I was careful not to overfill my pan with the really thick batter. What happened? They were edible, but they barely rose. Here they are coated in melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips and vegan sprinklez.

I did not feel defeated, however.

Next, I used cornstarch for the egg replacer instead of the salba and doubled the batch (I had since clued in that I did not in fact have a mini doughnut pan but rather a regular sized one). The batter was alot more fluid and I filled to almost the top. I had a little batter leftover to satisfy Ash, the baking bowl licker. My results were much improved - this time I dipped them in an icing sugar/rice milk glaze. Better!

But I just found that the baked doughnut just didn't have the same yeasty flavour of a regular doughnut (I actually remember this taste, despite my last real doughnut was consumed in the '80s). So I opted to try the recipe again with a different topping - one similar to the stale doughnuts you buy in the grocery store - either with icing sugar or cinnamon sugar. I opted for the latter. Yum! And not stale!

I noticed Vegan Dad has a doughnut recipe that is fried. I'm petrified of frying anything in more than just a couple of tablespoons of oil, so I doubt I'll try this. But I am tempted to lube up the dough and slap it into my doughnut pan to bake. After all, I have to justify this long-awaited purchase! I think it will be a project to work on after Christmas, as I have my work cut out for me when it comes to Xmas baking this year.
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Monday, October 31, 2011

Better Butter!

Note: As of April 2012, I have been using Bryanna Clark Grogan's version of Mattie's vegan's found here.  It is based on his white chocolate butter and relies on cocoa butter.  But her version is much more spreadable!  And she gives links to finding deodorized cocoa butter so it can be made more savory!  Just thought I'd mention...I will blog about it in a separate post.

I've really been missing my vegan buttercream. Really bad. Whenever I've made cuppies or bday cakes, I've resorted to making an avocado chocolate mousse topping. But I really don't feel like giving Kyson chocolate or anything with caffeine given that his sleep stinks. And besides - dark chocolate icing doesn't lend to adding fun colours and such that Ash looks forward to. So I had to put my thinking cap on.

Earth Balance is out for several reasons, like sunflower, safflower and flax to name a few. Palm has been giving us issues, so that too is added to the list of no-no's. My usual coconut oil won't work either since Kyson is allergic to that too. Then I got a brilliant idea to use the nearly-expired bag of raw cocoa butter that I bought solely due to sheer excitement that I could make white chocolate. I never thought of actually using it for any other purpose! So I melted it to a softened state, and added icing sugar. It was quite stiff - in went a few tablespoons of rice milk and it seemed to curdle. I then broke my hand mixer. I couldn't resort to my Kitchenaid since there didn't seem to be enough quantity for the whisk attachment to do anything. So I pulled out my supertool - the Braun hand mixer. Beating it up, my hand was cramping and the mixer seemed to get warm. In the end, it actually mixed to something smooth! Now I should have iced some cuppies then and there while the frosting was soft, but given that I decided to make the frosting on a whim, I then had to whip up a batch of the Basic Vanilla Cupcakes from VCTOTW. By the time they baked and cooled, my frosting was pretty stiff. The end result isn't super pretty:

But man, they were darn good! They tasted like white chocolate! (Although that shouldn't be such a shocker, but it is when it looks like regular buttercream).

So I started thinking - how to make the cocoa butter more pliable? Enter Mattie's vegan butter solution. He lists a number of options - many using the preferred soymilk and coconut oil ingredients. He goes into a great explanation of the makeup of butter and how to scientifically produce a vegan version, which is interesting and like the vegan version of Good Eats. The best part - in there was a white chocolate version that uses cocoa butter! Hooray! I decided to sub extra xanthan gum to make up for using soy or sunflower lecithin and use the second choice of curdled hemp milk. I'm shocked at the results - I doubled the batch (risky since I had never made it before and was sacrificing about $13 of cocoa butter!) and I used a silicone muffin pan to create 1 tablespoon measures of the 'butter'. Had lots leftover and while still soft, spread it on bread.

I delighted at the taste of 'margarine' again! I quickly thought about all of the possibilities - melted on popcorn, vegan buttercream, xmas baking...I felt like a weight of sadness over all of the foods I have had to avoid was lifted. This must have been how former cheese lovers felt when Daiya came out!

Later that week, Ash was having her cousin over to bake. Since halloween was right around the corner, I thought perhaps some Roll-out Sugar Cookies from VCIYCJ would be appropriate. Scanning the recipe, I saw the requirements for vegan margarine and shortening and became fearful. Would my concoction hold up to satisfy two little girls in their baking endeavours? I melted it down and continued with the recipe...the dough came out PERFECT. Way better than when I had made it with the original ingredients. By the time I had all of the ingredients mixed, the 'butter' had hardened ever so slightly which made it a breeze to roll out immediately (no chilling!) and withstood several rolling iterations. It did take longer for the cookies to bake (almost 10 minutes more!), but they had a delicious flavour and were flaky too. Hooray again!  


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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sweets We Can Eat!

So a few more allergies to now add to the list:

Flax Seed

This is beyond ridiculous.

Things have actually been going OK...we are thriving (thanks for thinking of us Becky!) and more into the swing of things with this restrictive diet. It's not easy and I'm getting tired of acting like a pioneer making everything, but it's going and Kyson is growing. So I guess that's all that matters.

I have to admit that I find resources for our specific allergies to be particularly challenging...most allergy cookbooks feature gluten-free items (can't avoid gluten now! It's my lifeline!) and they all seem to include every other allergen that we have to avoid. And raw cookbooks aren't much help since there are so many nut recipes. Most vegan cookbooks are just a tease - they are filled with soy in so many ways. Thankfully cookbooks like Vegan Lunch Box and Veganomicon/Appetite for Reduction feature a soy-free recipe index that helps eliminate some of the recipes we have to avoid. I think I have to write a soy free vegan cookbook! I think it might be the only vegan cookbook not currently out there!

Getting back to food, just because Kyson is severely allergic doesn't mean he can't enjoy his birthday! He celebrated one year with a tweaked agave cupcake from VCTOTW topped with an avocado/melted chocolate chips/agave mousse-like frosting. Here he is eyeing up the goods:

I think he enjoyed it:

I realize this is pathetic blogging about this now, but I only recently uploaded all the pics from my iPhone and camera onto the PC. I made mini-cuppies for Canada Day that I presented in a maple leaf flag:

The base was my strawberry cuppie from a recent post and the icing was a mix of avocado, icing sugar and strawberry jam. I have to work on the frosting since I'm not sure if it was the recipe or the heat, but it was a little too glossy. I topped each cuppie with a homemade white chocolate dipped strawberry - I basically melted some cocoa butter and added icing sugar and scraped vanilla bean bits. Of course each was also adorned with a little Canadian flag!

In the past I've been used to finding new recipes to try week after week as I prepare my meal plan. I've been adjusting to sticking to some tried-and-true things that picky toddlers and preschoolers eat (different noodles with homemade pasta sauce with every veggie under the sun tucked in/homemade pizza) and rotating between some other recipes. Having said that, week after week I have to make a few staple items:

Blue Ribbon Bread from Vegan Lunchbox - it makes three loaves which is great for freezing and pulling out all week, never mind changing up the shape to breadsticks, burger buns, loaves and mini-loaves. I use quinoa as the grain in the recipe.

Vegan Lunch Meat from Vegan Dad - this is pretty much my only source of protein. I've changed up the recipe quite a bit since I can't use beans but I'll blog about that shortly. You wouldn't believe how I can use this all week in different ways!

Spaghetti/Pasta Sauce - I throw in lots of veggies and fruits in both fresh and jarred baby food form, puree and presto! Instant yummy sauce that the kiddos gobble up on pasta or pizza.

I'll devote a future post about my seitan dishes, but for now this is Jerk Seitan using my veggie lunch meat as the chunks - I prefer this texture more that making seitan the traditional boiled way.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

What's a Vegan to Do???

So I whined and complained when I tried going GF for the benefit of Kyson and his food issues. Well, the verdict is in via an allergy test. Kyson is allergic to:

Tree Nuts
Soy (!)
Coconut (so much for my cuppies! And linked palm oil is in everything)
Sunflower (this oil is in EVERYTHING)
Legumes (This includes beans too - yikes...)

Holy crap.

And since I'm nursing, I have to cut these out of my diet too until he weans. I would love to switch to formula now, but they also contain sunflower and coconut oil so that's not an option. Obviously he will have to drink homo milk and eat meat (I had to cook chicken for the first time yesterday...good God this is such a trial for me!). But for my diet, I guess I will have to rely on hemp and seitan. It seems like anything packaged is going to be tricky. And I can't really go raw since that diet seems to rely heavily on nuts. And of all of the things on the list, I can't even have them in the house due to cross contamination issues - it's that serious.


I have to remind myself that things could be a lot worse. I mean, it's not like Kyson has been diagnosed with some grave disease or anything, so I really shouldn't complain. It's just hard to limit these foods - especially for me, when my diet is already quite restrictive.

Just looking for some kind of pep talk I guess. Or any suggestions! I've taken out some books from the library and once I have time to read them with all of his frequent wakings, I hope I will glean some nuggets of helpful info.

Off to go eat a homemade breakfast bar with very limited ingredients...

Sunday, May 01, 2011

VegFest! My Cupcake Revealed!

This is probably my biggest post - both in terms of size and news!!!

First, I must go back to April 2...I held a cupcake tasting party with friends and family to help me narrow down my entry into the NCVA's inaugural Cupcake Challenge Contest. I think I mentioned this party way back but couldn't divulge any details for fear of giving hints about my entry into the contest!

I made about 250 mini cuppies. I have no idea how I had the time to bake them all, but lemme tell you there was a plan each night for a week before the party where I had a task or three to complete. And of course I had to freeze the little suckers. Somehow, on that fateful Saturday of the party, I managed to get Kyson to swim class, get myself all ready and stuff and ice these things - and everything went so smoothly!

In order, Senators Strawberry, Capital Coconut Cream Pie and M'eh'ple Cream. Everyone cast their vote and the Capital Coconut Cream Pie came out on top, narrowly edging out the Senators Strawberry!

Pics of each:

Perfecting this damn cupcake took alot of effort, mainly for the coconut topping. I'm totally sick of the icing sugar/Earth Balance marg/shortening frostings, as they are too sickly sweet. So I tried coconut cream with a little icing sugar. Remarkably, it's cool and light like whipped cream or Cool Whip, but without all the gross stuff. However, you can't just grab any can of coconut milk to try this out. I had a fave gold label Rooster brand from Loblaws but of course they had to discontinue it and the only kinds in the Barrhaven area just don't have enough fat to them. So Kyle trotted over to T&T for me, where they have the most ridiculous selection of coconut milks and canned creams! I find the best ones to use have more than 17g of fat per serving. My fave is the Savoy brand of canned coconut cream - stick it in the fridge overnight, then scoop out the fat at the top, add icing sugar and whip. Easy! You just can't get greedy with your scooping trying to get every last bit of fat out - once you hit liquid put your spoon down and give it up (use the leftover stuff in a smoothie - yum!). It's great on anything - hot chocolate, pie, in trifle...and it's just so easy.

Capital Coconut Cream Pie Cupcakes

¾ cup organic sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
¾ cup coconut milk
2 tbsp unsweetened soymilk
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
½ cup graham flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cup fine shredded coconut

Cream Filling:
¾ cup organic sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp powdered egg replacer
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup unsweetened soymilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 can coconut milk or cream (look for highest fat content possible – 17g or above per serving)
¾ cup icing sugar
2 tbsp medium shredded coconut, toasted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, canola oil, coconut milk, soymilk, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
3. Add flours, soda and salt, then whisk again until no large clumps remain in batter. Fold in coconut.
4. Fill muffins liners about ¾ full with batter. Place filled pan in middle of preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Use a steak knife (Finally - a use for these!) to carve out a hole in the middle about 1.5cm in diameter. Remove cone-shaped innards and discard or devour (I prefer the latter).

1. Mix sugar, cornstarch and egg replacer powder in a small saucepan.
2. Slowly add coconut and soymilks and whisk to combine.
3. Let come to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.
4. Once bubbly and thickened, cook for about 30 seconds, still stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.
6. Let cool for one hour at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
7. Transfer to a glass container, lay a piece of parchment on top to prevent skin from forming, and refrigerate for at least four hours.
8. Once chilled, mix with electric mixers to make filling completely smooth.
9. Pour into a plastic pastry bag for easy cupcake filling or simply scoop into holes using a small spoon.


1. Chill canned coconut milk or cream in the fridge overnight. Do not shake can.
2. Carefully open lid and scoop cream solids into a large bowl. Stop scooping once you hit anything watery – even the littlest amount of water will not enable you to get a whipped cream consistency.
3. Whisk or use whisk attachments on electric mixer to fluff coconut cream, then add icing sugar. Whisk or mix to combine until soft peaks form.
4. Spoon on filled cupcakes or pipe with pastry bag. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top. Keep chilled.

Anyways, fast forward to today. I prepped over the last couple of days and everything was going well until a crisis! My custard wouldn't set. I have found that my recently purchased cornstarch has not been thickening anything up. I quickly made a second batch this morning and it still didn't set as nicely. Ah well. I quickly filled them and topped with cream (with a hungry Kyson nipping at my ankles). So not the best feeling going into the competition! They were still cute though:

VegFest was a blast! It was so busy - it was great! Most of the food vendors were sold out halfway through! I think the organizers should be proud of the turnout! As for the contest, I found out mine made it through into the top 10 and would be judged by the panel - it was a little nerve-wracking since there were some gorgeous creations and they were all picked apart by real foodies.

I was hopeful to win, but alas, it wasn't meant to be :) But for the last couple of months, it made this stay-at-home mom pretty excited to have something fun to look forward to. And I love to bake for others! So my other big news is that I will soon be opening up shop and offering vegan baked goods (cuppies, muffins, cookies) to the vegan masses of Ottawa, or for anyone that's interested. I won't be returning to work until the kids are in school, so this will hopefully provide a little income and keep me sane. I'll be sure to post more about my upcoming venture!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Countdown to VegFest is on! Plus Some Grub...

Who is super pumped for VegFest on May 1st? Me! Me! Me! It's been almost a month since my Cupcake Party and I can't WAIT for the day that I can enter my creation. When they indicated that a preliminary round would not be necessary, I was so happy...not just because I felt that there weren't hundreds of competitors, but also because 6:30pm (the slated time of the potluck where said round would take place) is the equivalent of hell in this house. It would have been disaster. Anyways, I was so smug until I got an e-mail from the organizers indicating that there would be a preliminary round after all the day of the contest! Yikes! Must remain positive...I just am trying to write a big long post about my trials and tribulations with the major mystery ingredient of my cuppie...although I fear that come May 2nd I'll forget everything...

Similar to this post - I haven't had a chance to get on the PC and when I do to write up a post, I look at the pics and for the life of me, cannot remember what stuff is. Like this - I stared and stared and FINALLY realized it's one of my new fave dishes! From 1000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson Chinese Noodles with Black Bean Sauce. I think that's the title and am too far away from the cookbook right now. I toss in some edamame for added protein. So yummy! I added tri-colour chopped peppers since I have them for Ash to add like 'sprinkles' (likely due to my recent cupcake obsession).

This next treat was a mild disappointment...I came across one of Isa's blogposts from eons ago about a Raw Cheezecake. For forever, I have tried to mimic a childhood recipe from a kid's Better Home and Gardens cookbook - something like Be My Valentine Pie. It was made with gross Jello and soft ice cream in a cookie crumb shell. I liked it as a kid, and have tried re-creating it with vegan Jello and ice cream, but with no such luck. Reading the ingredients I was hopeful. But the darn thing just didn't set - I had read through the comments and it seemed like it either turned out great or not, and I so hoped I would be in the success group :( I even omitted adding water to combat my fear! But alas, it was a soggy mess. I had to keep it in the freezer. I will definitely try this again during strawberry picking season as the berries will be more plentiful then and I won't feel so badly for using up a ton of expensive raw cashews on top of it.

But this recipe of Isa's was a hit! Pasta De Los Angeles or something like that...with the black beans and cilantro and salsa-like sauce, it reminded me of the sweet potato and black bean enchiladas from Vegan Planet but just with pasta instead. Yum!

Always looking for snack stuff, I was drawn to a recipe on my PC Toasted O's cereal box for Honey Butter Crunch. Now the name alone is totally not suitable for vegans but it's pretty easy to make subs:

1/2 cup melted Earth Balance
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups toasted o's
1 bag plain microwave popcorn, popped
1 cup almonds

Mix wet ingredients. Add dry and stir. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes.

Not sure if I should have reduced the agave a little or upped the oven temp or cook longer, but this stuff was soggy but good. I don't think I'll make it again since you have to wait way too long for your snack. I prefer popping corn, then pouring melted coconut oil and chocolate chips on top and enjoying right then and there. Maybe I'll just add some almonds for a healthy boost to make me feel better!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Hail Seitan!

So I started off all GF-y. I felt especially inspired one day and decided to make Chef Chloe's Avocado Pesto Pasta. I had my little helper, Ashley, all pumped as she held all of the ingredients. So then I went to cut into a nice soft avocado. Surprise! All rotten :( Those damn avocados are so unreliable - they either never soften, or go from unripe to rotten and skip being all nice and creamy. Anyways, I was slightly bitter but went on and subbed some tofu to add the silky texture. Then, I had some frozen basil cubes - I went to add them in and noticed they were all dried up and gross. So in went some dried basil! I didn't have pinenuts so I subbed with ground almonds. I have to say that with all of my substitutions, it wasn't the most awesome dinner. Ah well. I took this pic:

Ash, my little budding photographer 3-year-old, now takes pics of her food just like mom - we just need to work on the food styling:

I did however redeem myself with Isa's Upside Down Shepherd's Pie from Appetite for Reduction. Rather stupidly, I got all ready to bake this puppy, until I re-read the recipe about four times, then saw the title and realized that I didn't have to bake this up - I nearly did a jig since I didn't feel like baking it up and having to wait eons to eat dinner (the small things in life these days make me so happy!). I had three full portions (thereby not really serving as a real 'reduction' recipe unfortunately - I have no self control), and even Ash gobbled this up. It was so freakin' good!

Well, that was the end of the gluten free trial. Kyson will soon be seeing an allergist, so I'm hoping I'll get more clarification as to whether my avoiding gluten is doing any good or harm. For now, I'm just too hungry still nursing every two hours that I can't take it! That and I tried making a GF pizza dough that even the smell had me gagging. I caved and made my usual recipe. But the real turning point came after making Vegan Dad's Veggie Lunch Meat. Good lord - somehow I missed the whole Seitan O' Greatness craze a few years back but I'm glad I found this - I will never go back to paying $3.49 for a package of Tofurky slices again when this makes up tons! It sliced so well. Ash said it was delicious! I'm going to try making one with maple syrup next time to punch up the sweetness.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Who Cares About the Beef...Where's the Bun???

OK, so I'm giving this whole gluten free thing a little go. Kyson has had three reactions to wheat products and despite not finding anything on the web about ME having to go wheatless since he's still nursing, I'm applying the same logic about nursing moms cutting out dairy in their own diet if their baby is reacting to it. I'm hoping this will help clear up his eczema and help him sleep better at night!

I have to say, I now have empathy for those who find themselves delving into a vegan diet and missing cheese, etc. I am one of those who never liked the taste of cheese in or on anything, creamy mayonnaise and cream cheese dips. So it was a cinch for me to go vegan and couldn't understand why others would 'miss' former foods they once consumed. I'm really finding the whole gluten free thing to be hard, as I'm such a carb-o-holic and while there are a wide number of GF substitutes out there, I still find a certain taste (tapioca starch maybe?) that seems to be prevalent in so many GF baked goods. I tried making a homemade loaf of GF bread and just one bite had me gagging. I also bought some GF crackers and am convinced I chewed up part of my tooth in eating them. So I miss my bread and my crackers.

OK, I'll stop whining.

Anyways, I have made some really tasty GF things. I need my snacks, and these have all been pretty helpful in helping me from pigging out on gluten filled goodness.

From the Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook, Buckwheat Apple Muffins. Fortunately no tapioca starch in this one, as it doesn't use the author's GF flour blend - just buckwheat. Ash devours these.

From the same book, Blueberry Millet Muffins. They look so professional! I actually really like these, despite the mild tapioca taste. They are incredibly fluffy for something gluten free!

Finally, again, from the same book, Banana Flax Muffins. I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips instead of the raisins. My fave!

And now for actual meals...

Caesar Salad from Appetite for Reduction. It actually calls for Eggplant Bacon, which I found a bit of a pain to make. Instead, I added baked tofu (suggested in the recipe) but in my marinade, I added a few dashes of liquid smoke. Thinly sliced, it was a nice smoky addition. I love how this dish has no garlic! It gives my breath a nice break. Pictured with GF pasta with Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Sauce from Vegan Yum Yum.

Brown rice + lentils + cooked veggies (onion, garlic, carrot, spinach) + Hurry Up Alfredo sauce from VYY = tasty little meal.

Give me a scarlet GF letter on my chest - at this weekend's cupcake party, I'm sooo cheating and will be scarfing down non-GF cuppies :( I already feel guilty as I know I'm not giving myself the full 3 weeks to see if this diet change impacts Kyson. *Sigh*

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gluten and Soy Free (!)

Not sure if our little Kyson has some allergies or what, but for one mere day I tried to be gluten and soy free in an effort to see if my milk is causing him issues. I failed miserably. The soy free part isn't too bad, and I think I can try that for a few weeks, but I love my carbs too much to give up the gluten.

However, having said that, I have made some fine stuff that meets both criteria!

First, a peanut butter cookie recipe from my friend - I'm guessing from 125 Best Gluten Free Recipes or something, since the font of my photocopy looks familiar to other 'Best' books. Made with amaranth flour, it really doesn't taste like a gluten free cookie! I love them!

Next, Coconut Curry Stew from Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. Fab!

A suggested side to the stew, Fruity Couscous (I'm my case, quinoa) from the same cookbook. I think both of these meal items had a total of like 10 fruits and veggies - we nailed our 5-10 per day quota with this meal!

Finally, Strawberry Shortcake! I made Spongecake from the Allergen-Free Bakers Handbook. It was so fluffy and delicious - I thought it was quite surprising for something with no gluten. With vegan whipped cream and yummy strawberries, it felt like summer was here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's! Low Fat and...Healthy?

Theme day! Before bed last night I cut up veggies for dinner tonight, and made the slow cooker seitan pot roast from Vegan on the Cheap. Instead of using my big crockpot and using all the veggies, I just made the seitan dough and put it in my little crockpot that I normally reserve for steel cut oats. I couldn't believe how much it puffed up today - it looked like a souffle! But I really should have added some more water to account for the water the poor roast didn't get from all of the veggies that would have otherwise surrounded it. I just had to cut off some dry bits but other than that it was perfect! Cooking it overnight worked out really well and cut down on the prep required at a busy time in the afternoon.

So what did I use the roast for? Appetite for Reduction's Irish Stew. Made with vegan beer, I can't get over how authentic this tastes! Now when I say authentic, I mean Puritan Irish Stew from a can. Tracy and I seemed to have that often when Dad was in charge of dinner. Can't say I've ever had it from a real pub. Anyways, I'm sure this tastes like what would be served in one! I included some of my oatmeal bread (see this post) as it contains Irish oats, or steel cut oats. Yummy combo!

But the real showstoppers were Chloe Coscarelli's Chocolate Beer Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Buttercream...yummy! I do admit that I love Isa's cupcakes as they turn out so reliably (I had these ones in the oven for 10 minutes longer than specified since they wouldn't cook!), but this flavour combo was pretty cool. Anyways, for the buttercream, I wanted green, and since I'm not a fan of artificial colours, I added a scoop of my Vega Smoothie Infusion powder. Spinach anyone? It gave a pale green hue and didn't impart any weird flavouring. Healthy cupcakes? Kinda. Sweet? Omigod...I swear I developed a cavity eating these! I also made the caramel drizzle...I don't know, but cooking sugar stresses me out. Seems like there's this fine line between soft ball and hard ball (?) and I always seems to mess it up. I found her instructions a little unclear for the slight moron I can be, so to salvage a crunchy hard sugar mess, I added about 1/4 cup of soymilk and cooked over medium heat. Seemed to work! It resulted in a sticky taffy-like confection. Anyways, it looked good.


With all her buddies:

I'm so happy for daylight savings time and the fact that spring is here! I can use natural light for pics! Hooray!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Vegan Yum Yum...Continued


Oh how I love quick dinners! A variation on the Hurry Up Alfredo, the Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta is divine! Again, using my batch of already ground cashews, I blend up the ingredients (and two whole tomatoes just to watch them puree in all it's goodness!). I also don't bother to heat the sauce, shaving off another 5 minutes from the already quick recipe. I just dump it into the hot noodles. Although it doesn't give the sauce a chance to burn off the couple of tbsp of wine, I always hope that it will cause the kids to sleep through the night! Of course it doesn't work.

This time I put it on some Eden Artichoke Pasta Ribbons I picked up from Rainbow Foods. They reminded me of thick egg noodles, so it's been awhile since I've enjoyed a texture like this! I'll be sure to pick up some more since I'm getting a little bored with the whole spaghetti/linguine/macaroni we seem to serve up too frequently.
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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Vegan Yum Yum...So Good...

I briefly wrote about VYY before, but man, I love this cookbook. I like how clear the instructions are - I need that, my attention span is horrific lately and I find myself re-reading parts of a recipe numerous times since I can't retain anything. The pics are also so nice too.

Anyways, the recipes are what its all about! Here are two faves that I make on a regular basis:

Hurry Up Alfredo - I'm sure every vegan blogger has written about this one. Easy, and awesome! I grind up lots of cashews and keep a bag in the freezer. I then scoop out a necessary amount and use my immersion blender to make the sauce to dump on hot noodles and often include some broccoli or peas (thrown into the last few minutes with the pasta in the pot). I had found in the past that I need to grind the nuts on their own to begin with - trying to grind them with soy milk only resulted in a gritty sauce. I must have a crappy blender or something.

Using a similar sauce, Broccoli Bake (exact title escapes me) - I love how this uses the stalks! The broccoli florets and stalks are ground up with mushrooms - all things Ash will never eat on their own - and mixed with a variation of the alfredo sauce and orzo! So tasty! If only I could find whole wheat orzo. Then again, I haven't spent all that much time looking for it :)

So my few minutes of free time these days are being occupied with thoughts of how I could possibly win the VegFest cupcake contest held during the event on May 1 at the Glebe Community Centre. I'm consumed! I know I have a slim chance, but I've thought of three original cupcakes that could stand a chance (that is, as long as no real professional chefs enter!). I secretly hope that not too many people enter as there may be a preliminary round taking place during a time that is just evil for my little family. I'd have to show up with two over-tired children to this round during 'dinner' (also known as 'chaos time before bed' in our house) and I don't think that would bode well for my chances! I'll be sure to post about a cupcake party I'm hosting for friends and family to help me narrow down the selection. Of course, I won't be able to reveal all too much since I worry that my fierce competition could be reading! ;)