October 12, 2017

My favorite granola

The recipe makes two large pans of toasty, crunchy granola.

In the fall of 2010, I was gifted several coupons for free, and discounted make-your-own-books on Blurb.com, and I had the great idea to create cookbooks as holiday gifts for my immediate family members. I already had loads of photos, recipes and text from my blog, plus I was a graphic designer — it would be a piece of cake, so to speak. In my excitement, I 'forgot' that all the photos were sized for the Web, and would have to be re-edited for print. The text had to be edited, too, and the Blurb software was nothing like the professional layout software I was used to. I was constantly frustrated by not being able to design the book exactly as I wanted, and not to have access to my favorite fonts. But, I worked day and night — literally — until I had produced a 120 page, lavishly illustrated cookbook. Good thing I had all the coupons, as the cost of buying one of the books at actual price is substantial. I just looked on Blurb to see if my book was still there. It is, and a paperback copy sells for $46.99! (Granted, Blurb did a fabulous job on the printing, and the paper is beautiful, but, seriously? Who buys a cookbook for $46.99?) They even have an online preview where you can look at every page of my book in miniature. (If you're curious ... just click on the book and the pages turn) I see that Blurb now offers a way to design a book with Adobe InDesign. It's also possible to create the book using whatever software you prefer, make a PDF, and use the PDF to print the book. I guess the PDF feature was available when I made my book, but I was too far into it before I realized the personal  limitations of the free Blurb software, and the thought of starting over when I found out about the PDF option, was worse than just finishing what I had already started. In spite of the huge amount of work, and the frustrations, the end result was worth it. Everyone who received a copy seemed pleased, and in spite of all the difficulties, I was glad I had done it. The Blurb software, while a bit frustrating to me, would be fine for someone not as invested in professional design as I was at the time. If you start now, you should be able to finish a book in time to give as a holiday gift to a special someone. It doesn't have to be a cookbook— poetry, photography, stories — anything, really. There are many more choices of personal online printers now besides Blurb, some of them much cheaper. Blurb will give you great results, though. They now even offer lay-flat binding — for a price.

The liquid and dry ingredients are best mixed together by hand, as in, use your hands.

My husband got out the cookbook recently to find something to make for dinner, and I started looking through it. I didn't get far when I found my old favorite granola recipe which appeared on this blog in March, 2009. It's been years since I've made, or eaten, granola, and I was eager to revisit the recipe. Another blogger I know had recently posted about making granola, and although I never got around to checking out her recipe, the word "granola" was etched in my brain. Granola. It just has a delicious ring to it.

The recipe was just as good as I remembered, and I've been crunching it for breakfast all week. It's a breakfast that really satisfies, and keeps me full for hours.

A bowl of crunchy granola with soy milk.
Crunchy granola
  • 7 cups rolled oats, GF if needed
  • 1 cup hemp hearts (GF if needed), OR 1 cup hulled sesame seeds, OR 1 cup raw wheat germ
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raw walnuts, in halves or pieces
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (opt.)
  • 1 cup apple juice (I add 3-4 tablespoons of frozen apple juice concentrate to a cup measure, and add water to make 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or agave syrup, or sorghum, or 1/2 cup rice syrup)
  • 1/3 cup almond butter (or other nut or seed butter)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (opt.)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (opt.)
  • 1 cup chopped medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 1 cup non-dairy dark chocolate chips (optional) (I used 3/4 cup this time)
  1. Mix together the oats, hemp hearts, cashews, sunflower seeds, coconut and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the apple juice, sweetener and almond butter in a small pot and warm over low heat, whisking to dissolve the almond butter. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, cinnamon and ginger, if using.
  3. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. I used my hands for this because the spoon was too slow. Be sure to mix up the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Divide between two large baking pans and bake in a 325˚F oven for ABOUT 40-45 minutes. While it's baking, stir about every 10 minutes to toast evenly and to prevent burning. The bottom and edges will toast first, so stir them in.
  5. When it turns golden brown, turn off the heat and allow to sit in the oven about 30-40 minutes to continue drying.
  6. Remove from the oven and stir in the fruit. You will probably have to break up the dates if they are very soft. Let cool completely, then stir in the chocolate chips if you dare. (It's breakfast, after all. Be sensible!) If you do add chocolate chips, really let the granola cool well before stirring them in or the chocolate will melt. Yes, it will. I guess I didn't wait long enough because my chocolate chips melted. They still tasted great but the surprise of crunching on a chocolate chip was sacrificed for the taste of chocolate flavored granola. 
  7. Serve with your favorite plant milk.

October 06, 2017

Spicy hemp breakfast sausage - vegan, gluten-free

From the air fryer.

A few years ago, Nov., 2014, to be exact, I came across a recipe in Vegetarian Times for Spicy Hemp Breakfast Sausages.  I was intrigued. All the vegan sausages I'd ever made in the past depended on gluten, as in vital wheat gluten, for their texture and stability. The recipe used hemp seeds and masa harina to make the sausage dough. (You can find certified GF masa harina, and hemp seeds, but you can't assume all brands are GF due to contamination. Bob's Red Mill sells both.)

Mashing the beans into the spice liquid to cook until dry.

First you make a spice mixture, rehydrate the masa harina with some of the spice liquid, then stir in the hemp. Next you cook and mash the beans a little at a time with spice liquid until all the liquid evaporates, then you stir the bean mixture into the hemp hearts and masa harina. Refrigerate overnight, then shape and cook the sausage patties. I cooked some of the patties in my air fryer, and those were my favorites. The rest of the sausage patties were baked in the oven then frozen for future use. I baked them on parchment paper on two large pans, cooled them, then cut the paper into patty-sized squares and used the squares to stack the patties and pack them into a freezer bag. I've also cooked them in a small amount of oil on a cast iron griddle, and they turned out great. Yesterday, I reheated a frozen one in the air fryer, and it worked perfectly.

Refrigerate the mixture overnight before shaping into patties.

So, if I've been making these for three years, why haven't I ever mentioned them? Sometimes I question what 'easy vegan recipe' means. Does easy also mean instant? The sausage recipe is easy enough — anyone could do it — but it does take a little patience to work through all the steps. I never shared the recipe because I thought it might not fit with the 'easy vegan' theme, but it's so good, you might want to add it to your repertoire at least for special occasions, even if you consider it too much trouble for a regular rotation. I'm thinking of incorporating it into a Thanksgiving recipe, for example. The texture isn't the same as if it contained gluten, but the seasoning is spot on, and the taste and texture are great.

Toasted Olivia GF bread, garden lettuce, hemp sausage, dijon, jalapeño-stuffed olive.

As I mentioned earlier, the recipe originally appeared in an issue of Vegetarian Times, so I contacted the magazine to see if they would grant me permission to reprint the recipe. It took some time (a long time) to hear back from them, but they said no. That means if the magazine ever stops publishing, and takes down it's Web site, linked recipes will no longer be available. This has happened to me in the past when I linked to a recipe on a blog, so I prefer to share the actual recipe rather than a link. But for now, here is a link to the recipe. I'd rather share the actual recipe, but a link is better than nothing. The sausages are satisfying as part of a breakfast plate, or as a sandwich filling at lunch, or with veggies and a grain or potato at dinner. Do they sound like too much trouble? I admit, I'm often put off if a recipe has too many steps or requires chilling overnight, but this recipe makes a LOT, so you can eat some now and freeze some for later. You can also store the mix in the refrigerator for a few days, and fry some for breakfast each morning. This works especially well if you make just half a recipe. If you follow a gluten-free diet (or even if you don't) and have been longing for a sausage recipe, I encourage you to try this one.



Note: I just want to remind people that although it's tempting, it's not okay to reprint someones recipe or photos as your own. You can share a list of ingredients, but not the directions. You can adapt a recipe, but changing one ingredient isn't enough. You can also create a new recipe based on one you admire, and say you were 'inspired' by the original. In all cases, you should link back to the original recipe. When I searched for the spicy sausage recipe, I was surprised to find it, including the original photo, on a few blogs, without so much as a link back to Vegetarian Times. One blogger merely changed the order of ingredients, slightly changed the directions, and took credit for the recipe. I also found a slight variation of the recipe using chickpea flour instead of masa harina. If you have questions about what the rules are for sharing recipes, you might find this post helpful.

September 19, 2017

Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: cookbook review



Once you start cooking from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes With a Kick, you will never complain about bland vegan food again. Whether you're looking to spice up your own diet, or prepare fabulous foods to impress omnivore family and friends who may think vegan food is boring, Celine's newest recipe collection will provide the recipes you need to create beautiful and seriously flavorful vegan food.

Although not a gluten-free cookbook by any means, if you need your food to be gluten-free, (or soy-free or oil-free), Celine has you covered with clearly marked recipes and instructions that make it easy to find the kinds of meals you're looking for. In a hurry and need a fabulous dish you can make in 30 minutes? There are recipes for speedy, richly flavored dishes, too. In addition to instructions for creating the sumptuous dishes, there's a generous section called Staples, with directions for making homemade versions of, in Celine's words, "striking spice mixes, umami-packed broth, bright and tangy finishing sauces, and more." I admit to being someone who typically eats a pretty simple diet, and maybe you are, too, but when you are craving a flavor-intense meal, this is the book you need.


We tried several of the recipes, and were not disappointed. The first one we sampled was Tamarind Miso Soup, and it was an eye-opener. The tamarind paste completely changed the flavor of the vegetable-packed soup from what we were used to. I wish my photo had turned out as well as the soup, but, unfortunately it did not, so words will have to suffice.


Next, we sampled Smoky Kale and Chickpeas With Miso Peanut Drizzle. I think we've had this at least three times since receiving the book. Need I say more? Seduced by the great flavor and ease of preparation, we had to force ourselves to move on and try other recipes. I think this will become a standard in our dining repertoire. (You can find the recipe reprinted on The Vegan 8 blog.)



The next selection was Five-Spice Teriyaki Bowl, served over gluten-free buckwheat noodles, and cooked by my husband. He must have neglected to read Celine's recipe introduction warning about the "warm, yet pungent licorice-like flavor of five-spice powder." She cautioned about star anise and fennel haters, of which I AM ONE, but he added the full two teaspoons of five-spice to the pot anyway. This was his first (and maybe last) time cooking with five-spice powder. It didn't end well. The dish was beautiful and 'fragrant', and even though I only had one mouthful before exhibiting intense irrational behavior, I could tell that others might find it excellent. My husband sure liked it. I've been trying for years to teach myself to like anise and fennel, but I'm not there yet. I could have enjoyed a quarter or possibly even a half teaspoon, but not two. Not two. Remember, you can always adjust the seasonings you're adding to a dish to accommodate your personal preferences.



Last night I made Red Curry Veggies, and we loved it. One of the reasons I chose the recipe was because it featured green beans, and we had a bagful of fresh green beans from our son and daughter-in-law's garden. I also had a zucchini from my neighbor's garden which I used instead of the eggplant in the recipe, and a few pieces of leftover air-fried tofu from the night before which I threw in just because. The curry was excellent, and will probably show up at our next meal for company.

I'm looking forward to trying more of the recipes from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking.  

Just a note: The cookbook has one of those nifty bindings that allows it to stay open while you use it.

Author Celine Steen, is the talented writer, recipe creator and photographer behind the popular vegan blog, Have Cake Will Travel, as well as the author or co-author, and photographer of 12 vegan cookbooks including The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, Whole Grain Baking, and Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher, Page Street Publishing Company. I was not paid to write the review. All opinions are my own.

This post may contain Amazon links. 

June 13, 2017

Date Lady coconut caramel sauce

I've mentioned previously that I don't have much of a sweet tooth. My idea of sweet is usually another person's idea of 'not too sweet'. I didn't eat much candy growing up — because I didn't like it. I remember once finding a box of Valentine's Day chocolates I'd been given by a boyfriend, stuffed away into a drawer, a year later. A few of the chocolates were missing, however, because before stashing the box away, I'd searched for, and eaten, the caramel-filled chocolates. Caramel was the one candy I liked. Maybe that's why I like dates so much — they are reminiscent of caramel, and work well for making a vegan, vanilla-spiked caramel sauce, and giving baked goods a hint of caramel flavor. When I was offered a sample jar of Date Lady coconut caramel  sauce, what could I say but yes?

Date Lady's new syrup is not only easy to use and delicious, it's made from natural, organic, GMO-free, gluten-free ingredients. The sauce starts with a base of 67% organic dates and then includes organic coconut cream, organic vanilla extract and baobab powder.



"'From the beginning, we have always wanted to produce a caramel sauce that was made with traditional ingredients and methods,' said Colleen Sundlie, President, Date Lady. 'Our initial Date Lady Caramel Sauce was a top-seller, but we had trouble wrapping our head around the fact that we couldn’t get a detailed ingredient list for the organic flavoring. So, we decided to move forward and take on the challenge of creating new recipes using only food to create rich and creamy flavors.'"


I tried my syrup on a scoop of mint chocolate chip coconut ice cream. The syrup's flavor straight from the jar is rich, dark and delicious, with a velvety taste of coconut cream, but I'm afraid the flavor was a bit overpowered by the sweetness and mintiness of the ice cream. I was wishing I had vanilla ice cream to try instead, but, it's possible ice cream may be too sweet for the syrup to be its best.



I was thinking I needed something more cake-like to really showcase the flavor ... or maybe a waffle. And yes, it was perfect on the waffle, eliciting an enthusiastic "mmmmm" from both my husband and myself. I think it would be excellent drizzled over a bundt cake or on top of a muffin. Any slice of plain cake would be transformed with a bit of Date Lady coconut caramel sauce.

Normally $7.99, the coconut caramel sauce will be featured in a one-day flash sale on June 15 for $5. This would be the perfect time to grab a jar, and enjoy a bit of the luxurious topping. 

DATE LADY COCONUT CARAMEL SAUCE ($8.99, 11OZ. JAR)
100% Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free, Non-GMO
Ingredients: Date syrup, Coconut Cream (coconut, water), Coconut Oil, Vanilla Extract, Baobab Powder, Pectin, Sea Salt

I was given a free jar of coconut caramel sauce for review purposes. I was not paid for my review. All opinions are my own.

June 09, 2017

Everyday Vegetarian, cookbook review and recipe

Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. 
All rights reserved.

I usually only accept vegan cookbooks for review, but I made an exception for Everyday Vegetarian for several reasons. The book, by the editors of Cooking Light, contains more than 150 vegetable-centric dishes using easy-to-find ingredients. Although only 20 percent of the recipes are vegan, most experienced vegans could easily turn a majority of the other recipes vegan by a simple substitution or two — rice syrup instead of honey; plant milk, vegan butter or vegan cheese instead of dairy, etc. The recipes are straightforward, easy to follow, and each recipe is accompanied by an appetizing full-color photo.

So why am I reviewing a vegetarian cookbook? (No, I'm NOT a newly minted ex-vegan. No, no, no — never!) Vegetarianism and veganism seem to be on an upswing right now. More and more restaurants are offering vegan options, and more people than ever are expressing curiosity about plant-based and vegetarian diets. However, even when the interest is present, changing one's diet can seem like an insurmountable task without some sort of gentle introduction. Not everyone wants to be hit over the head with a 'be-vegan-or-else' mandate. Some folks prefer to ease into change more slowly. Lots of vegans, myself included, were vegetarians for a few years before becoming vegan. People give up animal products for different reasons. For some it's for health, others care deeply about reducing animal suffering, some might become plant-based for the environment. Some embrace multiple reasons for dietary change.  I try to accept people at whatever dietary stage they are, and help them move forward, which is why I'm reviewing Everyday Vegetarian; I think it's a great stepping stone to helping people move towards a vegetarian, and hopefully, vegan diet. Or just to add more plant-based meals to the menu.

No matter what their dietary motives are, I'd guess most people want their food to taste great, and that is where Everyday Vegetarian steps in.  Written by the editors of Cooking Light, it brings creative, colorful, delicious vegetarian and vegan cooking expertise into an already popular, mainstream cooking forum. I think it would be an extremely appealing cookbook not just for established vegetarians and vegans, but esprcially for those just starting to incorporate more plant-based choices into their diet. The people who are looking to make plant-centric changes to their diet, no matter how small those changes start out, are the perfect target audience for Everyday Vegetarian. (Note that the cookbook doesn't address food sensitivities so you will have to make your own adjustments to the recipes if you must, or choose to, avoid certain ingredients. I'm used to adjusting recipes for my own dietary needs so this isn't an issue for me, but I wanted to mention it for those who might be interested.) While easy cooking methods and familiar ingredients are emphasized, the authors also encourage readers to be open to trying new ingredients and flavors. For those just venturing into the whole foods, plant-based cooking experience, a description of ingredients and where to find them is helpfully included.

Asian stir-fry quinoa bowl - photo by Andrea

I have to say, I was delighted with the recipes I tried. They were easy, beautiful and delicious. The vegan recipe for Asian stir-fry quinoa bowl was so good, belying its everyday ingredients and simple preparation. It looked and tasted great — I loved it.  The main thing we did differently was cook the tofu in the air fryer — just because we love our air fryer so much, but that's certainly not a requirement for the excellent recipe!

Roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat spaghetti bowl - photo by Andrea

We also tried roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat spaghetti bowl — another seemingly simple vegan recipe with outstanding flavor. As I mentioned earlier, the recipes don't take food sensitivities into account, but if you are used to making adjustments for your own health and taste preferences, it shouldn't be a problem. For example, instead of whole wheat spaghetti, I subbed quinoa spaghetti to accommodate my gluten intolerance. And a sweet pepper was used instead of a chile pepper, because that's what we had. Next time, it will be a chile pepper.

There are so many more recipes I want to try, such as one pot green curry stew with potatoes and cauliflower, black bean cakes with ginger and cilantro cream, whole roasted carrots with black lentils and green harissa, tempeh with charred peppers and kale, etc., etc.

If you are looking to add more plant-based recipes to your diet, Everyday Vegetarian is a cookbook I recommend. If you're already vegetarian or vegan, you'll find lots of wonderful recipes to inspire you.

I have permission from the publisher to share the recipe for roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat spaghetti bowl with you. Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did.

Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. 
All rights reserved.

Roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat 
spaghetti bowl Hands-on: 35 minutes Total: 35 minutes Serves 4

This one-bowl meal is an ideal option for healthy meals on the go; It comes together quickly and can be made ahead. It gets wonderful texture from the chickpeas and cauliflower, nuttiness from the whole-wheat pasta, and rich umami flavor from the miso and tahini. You’ll find the miso paste in the refrigerated produce section and tahini in the international aisle.

  • 1 small head cauliflower, broken into 1-inch florets (about 31/2 cups)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 6 ounces uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
  • ½ cup firmly packed parsley leaves
  • 1 red chile pepper, thinly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Combine the cauliflower, chickpeas, oil, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Spread the mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet; bake at 425°F for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned.
2. Place ¼ cup water, miso, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a mini food processor; process until smooth.
3. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, omitting the fat and salt. Drain. Divide the noodles evenly among 4 bowls. Top evenly with the cauliflower mixture. Drizzle evenly with the miso dressing; top evenly with the parsley and sliced chile. 


Excerpted from Everyday Vegetarian by the editors of Cooking Light. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved. 
..............................................................................................................

EVERYDAY VEGETARIAN: A Delicious Guide for Creating More Than 150 Meatless Dishes by the editors of Cooking Light (Oxmoor House, May 16, 2017, $21.95) was sent to me at no cost. I was not paid for my review. All opinions about the book are my own.

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