Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vegan MoFo 2015: Favourite Cookbook

I have to admit, I started out with good intentions for MoFo this year! But as much as I want to be creative with some of the subjects, a good functional meal for three hungry kids is all that I have time for.

But for today's theme, I wanted to spend a little time and effort because it is a subject that is important to me!

I went vegan ages ago. This is when you had to buy your TVP from a dusty shelf at the back of a natural food store that only serious tree huggers frequented. Cookbooks? There was the Single Vegan (because no one else was!) and a few macrobiotic cookbooks that just seemed a little *too* weird at the time. But eventually more and more books were published, and I snatched them up with eager anticipation.

One of those early books in my collection was The Everyday Vegan by Canadian cookbook author Dreena Burton. The recipes were great, the food was relatively normal for being vegan food. While some ingredients were not readily on hand, I was intrigued. Hemp seeds?, I thought. If I could have only known then that this cookbook would introduce me to an ingredient that I would consume at least a pound of each week. The As-You-Like Muffins were a staple, as were the Sweet and Sour Neat Balls.

As the books kept coming, you could see a maturity in the progression through the vegan diet. Fewer and fewer processed foods were being used, and her last book, Let Them Eat Vegan, really seemed to be focused much more on whole foods. While I couldn't make everything from Dreena's most recently published book since Kyson was diagnosed with 11 food allergies, I was able to make substitutes quite readily. I was so appreciative for Dreena's healthy recipes as I could still find a way feed a family healthy vegan food without legumes, nuts or soy. Thank goodness for those hemp seed recipes!

I have no idea how it happened, but somehow Dreena asked me to be a tester for her newest cookbook, Plant-Powered Families. I said yes, and warned her of the allergy situation I had that would prevent me from testing her recipes the way that she had written them. I also had a newborn, one that never slept and needed me constantly. But I was excited about having a new slew of recipes.

When the testing pages starting to roll in, I was hooked. Every recipe was so easy, kid-friendly and made from whole foods. And finally - it was vegan food that wasn't reliant on legumes, nuts and soy. There were allergy subs everywhere! This sounds really pathetic, but I had tears in my eyes and the sight of a cookbook that seemed to be made for us and our situation.  I felt like I needed to jump up on the rooftops and tell everyone about this book. I thought that every parent needed this book - they could send their kids to school with super easy, nutrient-dense food with nut-free options abound!

I can't even tell you all of the recipes I've made from this book. And I make them again and again. OK, here is a list, some of which I subbed allergy-friendly ingredients, either suggested by the author or from my own will:

Pumpkin Chia Pudding
Lemon-Kissed Blondie Bites
Chickpea 'n Rice Soup
Chunky Monkey Smoothie
Apple Pie Smoothie
Best Banana Bread
Blueberry Lassy Muffins
Double Chocolate Orange Banana Muffins
Artichoke Spinach Dip
All the burgers
Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies
Nicer Krispie Squares
No-Bake Granola Bars
Protein Power Balls
Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with frosting
A+ Caramel Apples

Plus it has a section to inspire you when dealing with picky eaters and back to school lunch menus and ideas and a meal plan when you are in a rut and tired of meal planning all of the time.

So even if you aren't dealing with kids, or even food allergies, but are a busy person looking for nice and easy healthy food to prepare, this book is ideal! I'm so grateful for this book and hope that it finds itself in everyone's cookbook collection.

Note: I will post up pictures of my creations of these recipes once I have a way to get them in here, other than sending my pics from my computer to my phone, then logging into Blogger and putting them in. It just doesn't seem so 2015. Why, oh, why, does Apple not like Google products and crash every time I try to upload?

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Vegan MoFo 2015: Recreating a Fave Childhood Food

I have to keep this short since I have only five minutes to write up something, figure out how to paste in a pic from my new Apple computer, and get the kids in the bath!

So I'm crazy enough to think that I will have a shred of time this month to officially participate in VeganMoFo. A few years ago I unofficially participated with my 'Hemp Foods' theme, and was amazed at myself for being so dedicated. But this year, the commitment-phobe I am, I decided to take the plunge and sign up my rarely-updated blog, fully expecting to rely on my Twitter handle to provide quick 140-character answers.

But today's challenge, of recreating a favourite childhood food, forced me to write something with a bit more detail. When thinking of the challenge last night, I had such a brain fart that it seemed as though my memories of being a child were long-lost. So I texted my mom, who wrote a pile of ideas (thanks mom! although you never read my blog so you won't take note of my appreciation...). But the first one she wrote stuck out. I forgot about Nutella! The delicious hazelnut-palm oil concoction that is marketed to be healthy with its nuts and skim milk powder.

I actually blogged about one recreation I already made (Hempella), but I wanted to try something different that might be less like a chocolate version of Map-O-Spread, and something like Nutella that had a texture similar to chocolate magic mud (colloidal suspension, anyone?). I haven't read my Hempella post for awhile, but I probably wrote that I ate so much of this stuff as a teen that I earned us a whole set of like 12 drinking glasses from eating the stuff.

As you know, seeing as though you are a loyal reader of this blog and know ALL about our food challenges, we are nut-free. So that eliminated many of the recipes that featured hazelnuts that look so delicious and authentic - as much as Nutella can be considered 'authentic'.

Enter this version with one of my newest fave versatile foods - pumpkin seeds. Not the ones that you scoop out of a pumpkin at Halloween, but the raw, shelled pepitas. So without further adieu, here's what I did and some basic photos since my toddler was having a tantrum at the time.


2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet and spread out pumpkin seeds evenly on top. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Pour seeds in a high speed blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend for about one minute, plunging where necessary.
3. Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge. I'll guess it will keep one month, but it only makes one cup or so, so it won't last that long - especially if it was in my house.

This is my fave childhood food - tell me yours!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Double Hemp Bars

Wow, it's been awhile! 

I've been busy making lots in the kitchen - I have a toddler that is happy to sample anything that prevents me from giving her undivided attention; two kids in school that need an endless supply of snacks; a better half with a wicked sweet tooth and myself - always looking for something quick to grab that is also healthy.

I devised these bars as a cross between a granola bar to pack in lunches, a protein bar after a workout (ha! When does that happen these days?!) and a fancy square that could be served at a bridal shower. 

If you've read this blog, you will see how over the last few years, I've become a major fan of the hemp products from Manitoba Harvest. A 3 tbsp serving of hemp hearts offers a whopping 10g of protein, never mind a slew of vitamins and minerals. Their hemp protein powders offer a similar nutritional profile, and I love how the Hemp Pro Fibre can substitute for much of the flour in many baking recipes!

Now onto the bars - the crust is thin and hearty, and the filling almost melts in your mouth. The hemp hearts offer a delicious nutty taste without the nuts - obviously - making them ideal to send to nut-free functions or school events. 

They do remind me of the sickly sweet, condensed milk creations my mom would craft when I was younger, but without all of the sugar, dairy and guilt! I'm looking forward to sharing these at a family function and surprising them with treats that don't have to be sinful to be enjoyable.

Double Hemp Bars

1 1/2 cups oat flour (I like Only Oats brand...GF!)
1/2 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro Fibre hemp protein powder
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp agave nectar

1 cup full-fat coconut milk, stirred before measuring
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot powder
1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life, or chopped dark chocolate would be fab)
1/3 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix oat flour, coconut, Hemp Pro Fibre and salt. Add coconut oil and agave, mixing with a pastry blender or your fingers until a nice crumbly texture is achieved that holds together when pressed. Press evenly into a glass 9x13" pan.

Wipe out bowl with a paper towel. Add coconut milk, agave, tapioca, vanilla and salt and whisk until no lumps remain. Pour over crust mixture in pan. Sprinkle coconut on top evenly, then chocolate chips then hemp hearts. Gently press these into the coconut milk mixture just slightly. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and centre is bubbly. Cool, then chill in the fridge until very firm. Slice into bars or squares. Store cut bars in the fridge until ready to serve.

Tell me - what family favourite would you love to see given a healthy makeover?

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Lazy Arrowroot Cookies

My allergic son attends preschool where a variety of snacks are served. I, of course, provide his food and find myself crafting allergy-safe replicas of what the other kids are having.  Every week I check the calendar for what I need to prepare; sometimes remembering to check at 10pm the night before and realizing I need to make safe noochie crackers to complement the Goldfish crackers that the others will be eating.

I was ahead of the game this week. Arrowroot cookies are on the menu! These are ridiculously easy - hence the name I gave this recipe!The only way to make these even lazier would be to buy them off a shelf...but taking a look at the ingredients of Mr. Christie's version, who would want to?

Ingredients: Enriched wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil shortening (soybean or canola, modified palm, modified palm kernel), arrowroot flour, glucose-fructose, salt, cornstarch, baking soda, glycerol, soy lecithin, diammonium phosphate, sulphites, natural flavour. Contains wheat, soy and sulphite.

Now, these are targeted to kids - mainly babies! I'm perplexed as to why anyone would want their 10-month-old sucking on these, after reading the list of crappy ingredients. But I digress...

I looked on the web everywhere for a vegan version that also didn't contain soy, one of my son's allergens. I found one that included coconut oil and agave that was dense and revolting; almost like a sugar cookie gone bad. It was missing that starchy taste too. Plus, it required that you roll out the dough, cut out shapes, transfer them to a sheet, roll dough out again...blah, blah, blah...I loathe cookies that require that effort.

Again, enter Lazy Arrowroot Cookies! Now I should disclose that I didn't even use arrowroot. I just can't seem to find one that hasn't been processed with soy or tree nuts. I did spend some time searching online then gave up. So I used a safe tapioca flour. You could even use cornstarch if desperate! Just try to be good to yourself and find one that is non-GMO, but good luck with that.

Lazy Arrowroot Cookies

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 cup arrowroot starch (or like me, tapioca flour)
2/3 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup hemp milk
1/2 cup oil (I used light olive)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 3 equal lengths of parchment paper, large enough to line a cookie sheet with. 

This is easy. Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Combine wet ingredients in a glass measuring cup and whisk to combine. Add wet to dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms. Divide dough in half to make two balls. Place one ball on a piece of parchment paper and top with a second piece of parchment. Roll out to an even 1/8"-thickness (don't worry about the shape if you can). Remove top parchment and make vertical then horizontal slices in the rolled dough using a pizza cutter. Prick dough with a fork, or a tool like I have that I think is for pricking pastry (it's awesome!). Pick up the parchment and transfer to a cookie sheet. Repeat process for other ball of dough. Discard the parchment topper just saves you from having to scrub the rolling pin, and not having to dust flour around!

Once dough is rolled and cut, transfer sheets to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. I like to turn the oven off at this point and leave the cookies in there to hang out for a 5-10 minutes to ensure they are crispy. I then remove them and let them cool completely on the cookie sheet. Since they have been pre-scored with the pizza cutter, they are a cinch to break apart and devour. 

Of course I have pics of all of my steps but getting them on my PC is too much work for someone who is too lazy to make real arrowroot cookies. And of course, mobile blogger is acting up.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy 2014 & Update

Happy new year! Hope this year is full of good times and great food!

A little update - I had to close my bakery biz to new orders as the demand for vegan, allergy-friendly cupcakes and cookies far exceeded what I had planned as a stay-at-home mom of three young kids. I hope to resume baking in the fall with more healthy options too!

But the good news is that I will soon be offering an e-book that feature my original vegan and allergy-friendly recipes! I'm really excited and will share more in the coming weeks!

So my publishing my own ebook is one of my resolutions...what are you planning as a new year's resolution?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Vegan MoFo - Day 30

Wow. This is it! 30 days (minus a few here and there...I'm a mom of three and was out of town!) of hempy foods...never thought I'd be able to blog about so many!

Smoothies, dips, bread, cookies, seitan...the possibilities are endless! 

Today I have an ultra hempy post. First up is dinner - Chloe Coscarelli's Avocado Pesto Pasta. Being nutfree here, and free of many other foods that are allergens to my son, pesto is normally off-limits due to pine nuts. But swap in hemp seeds and you not only have a safe dinner, but also a much healthier one too! Blended with an immersion blender with avocados, garlic, olive oil, basil and my touch, a big handful of spinach, and they are magically transformed into creamy deliciousness. After mixing with hot pasta, I topped with sundried tomatoes.

Next up is a healthy and yummy energy bar. I love this recipe because the combos are endless because it's based in ratios - you can read about it here:

Here's my combo:
  • 1-pound can of beans - black beans
  • ½ cup binder - chia/water
  • ¼ cup sweetener - agave
  • ¼ cup soft sweet fruit - applesauce 
  • 1 teaspoon of extract (optional) - vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of dry spice (optional) - cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • 1 cup dry base ingredient - hemp pro 70/ some cocoa
  • 1 cup stir-ins - choc chips/coconut/hemp seeds

I then topped the baked and cooked bars with 1 1/2 times the recipe of frosting from Dreena Burton's B-raw-nies. I could just make it and eat it out of the mini food processor. Thick and fudgey!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vegan MoFo - Day 29

It's breakfast time!!!

Great way to use the many apples we picked last week + get in lots of hemp!

My fave waffle recipe is actually a Dreena Burton pancake recipe from Let Them Eat Vegan. I always double the recipe and use hemp milk as the nondairy milk of choice. It's great because the only sweetener in the waffle is the apple (which I grate) and hemp I feel a little less guilty about that drizzle of maple syrup. And each waffle gets about two tablespoons worth of hempseeds...what a healthy way to start the day!

I would have embellished with more fruit but I had to snap a pic, gulp it down, then feed a little hungry 4-month-old...