February 14 (aka: Valentine’s Day or Single Awareness Day)

So, have you been to the store to find a chocolatey treat for your Valentine yet?  Have you dared to look at the ingredients lists on those beautiful heart-shaped boxes that appeal so much to a woman’s heart for some reason?  (Image courtesy of pamsclipart.com.)  Um-hmmm…depressing, isn’t it?  I have yet to discover one that I can eat (dairy and corn syrup allergies.)  Sure, the health food store might have something passable, but it’s not in one of those cute little boxes, now is it?  And if I can’t have the box, don’t bother with only passable candy.  I want the good stuff!

Aaaaaannnd, how do I get the good stuff then?  Well, of course, I have to make it myself.  Not as romantic as a heart-shaped box, but, hey, it still is good chocolate.  ;)  If you don’t happen to have a Valentine, or are clear across the country from him/her, you get to eat it all yourself.  (My now-single eldest son says Valentine’s Day is actually Single Awareness Day – S.A.D.)

This year I am clear across the country from my adorable and adoring hubby.  How did this happen, you ask?  Well, I came to visit my oldest son and take care of my precious granddaughter while she’s with her dad this month.  I figure it is my “job” to make their Valentine’s Day special since we’re all on our own tomorrow.  The best thing I know to give my loved ones (since I can’t get any of those blasted unhealthy heart-shaped boxes!) is Chocolate FudgeChocolate (Nut) Fudge.  Now, I’ve posted this recipe before, but I learned something new making it in my son’s kitchen.  (I’ve posted about trying to cook in his kitchen before here.)  You do not need a double boiler (or a facsimile thereof.)  It is now easier than ever to whip up a batch of fudge.

So, grab your measuring cups and get busy making a wonderful gift for your favorite person!

Traditional and Radical Breakfast Ideas

To really give a kick my breakfast series, I thought I’d list some links to previous posts that are breakfast worthy.  Some are traditional items, but some are a little outside that box.  Remember, the point is to eat at least as healthfully as your box of cereal has allowed you to do.  Hopefully, a better goal is to eat more healthfully and to actually look forward to breakfast when you wake up!

Berries, Grapes, and CantaloupeSome of these recipes are gluten-free and some are not.  I am in process of recreating some of my old wheat-filled stand-bys into gluten-free versions.  I’ll post them as I have success.  I’ve marked (gf) beside the recipes that you might wonder about, but left it off of things like smoothies, which are a little more obvious that they already are gluten-free.

Meanwhile, dig in to some great breakfasts!

Continue reading

Cocoa-Banana Breakfast Cake (or Muffins)

Breakfast.  It can be so boring ~ so unhealthy ~ and so expensive.  Are you stuck in a rut?  Are you tired of paying an arm and a leg for boxed cereal that has little staying power and often little true nutrition?  I am going to start a series on make-ahead breakfast recipes to take the ho-hum out of mornings.  You’ll find yourself looking forward to breakfast!  You might even want to take a look at some of your current recipes and rethink the possibility of using them for a morning meal.  Of course, I always add some fresh fruit to the meal to round it out nutritionally.

Cocoa-Banana Breakfast Cake (or Muffins) 001Whether you have to eat gluten-free, or not, this breakfast cake will please you!  It was so exciting to put the first forkful into my mouth and taste how delicious it was.  The texture is moist and heavy like some decadent muffin that you might buy.  Mmmm.  In fact, Continue reading

Fiesta Quinoa

Fiesta QuinoaAh, the plans I make and the menus I create….only to be dashed to pieces the first night!  Grocery day can be crazy in our household, with stops at several stores, since no single one of them carries everything with which I cook.  Today (actually, several months ago, since I found this post hiding in my draft folder) was no different ~ except a couple of extra errands were tossed in for good measure.  This meant I didn’t have the needed time to make the do-ahead items on my menu for the week.  Which also meant that when I got home late, there was no instant supper to put on the table. Continue reading

Coconut Cream Topping

Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Cream 005If you are not happy with the vegan options for a whipped-type topping (cashew creme, tofu-based items, etc.) because they add a funny taste or texture, then this is the recipe for you!  As long as you like coconut flavor, that is.  :)  I find it accompanies just about any dessert well, with the mild coconut flavor melding seamlessly.

These days I couldn’t be happier about eating coconut in any way possible with all the health benefits of coconut being touted.  My two favorite coconutty things to consume are Continue reading

Ginger Lemon Tea

My sons were “kind” enough to share their cold bug with me.  One of them hates taking any remedies of any sort and the other one doesn’t mind them, but rarely remembers to take what I tell him he should.  I, on the other hand, start dosing wildly right and left with all manner of healthy things trying to knock the stuffing out of the virus!  Vitamin C in massive doses, oregano oil, echinacea…and now this tea.  I’m not sure which thing did the trick, but I’m almost well with far fewer symptoms than either of the boys who got sick days before me. Continue reading

Why I Choose to Use Honey and Still Call Myself a “Vegan”

This topic can be a hotly debated ~ something which I will not engage in on this blog.  This post is just to explain why I, personally, choose honey while calling myself a vegan.  Any comments that are confrontational will not be approved.  Sorry.  My blog, my rules.  :)

I gave up animal products gradually for health and, eventually, allergy reasons.  I didn’t do it to save the planet, or save the animals (both of which I love very much.) Therefore, my decision to use honey tends toward the health benefits it gives, as has my departure from animal products.

Labels that we give ourselves can get sticky over the years as the parameters morph with people’s opinions of what those labels mean.  I do not eat meat, dairy, or eggs.  I do, however, wear leather shoes (again, for health reasons, since it allows for the feet to breathe and plastics do not) and eat honey.  You see, many years ago, when “vegan” first became a term, I understood that it meant not eating meat, dairy, and eggs.  No one put an absolute definition in the dictionary.  So, I “became a vegan.”  Then more people jumped on the bandwagon.  The parameters began to change somehow.  (I really don’t understand how that happens.)  People became angry if you called yourself a vegan and still ate honey, or wore leather, but nobody created a new word to cover what vegan used to cover!  I suppose I could say I’m a plant-based eater, but that is a mouthful.  It’s easier to just say vegan and not bother to explain details.  Most people really don’t care anyway.

Now – the health benefits.  These I have seen for myself.  I know it kills bacteria, because in my younger days I stirred some into a large container of plain yogurt to sweeten it.  It was great the first day, but when I came back the next, it was a runny liquid mess.  It had killed all of the bacteria in the yogurt!  So I know the anti-bacterial effects.  Next, raw honey has been used on a gum infection in my family with a great healing effect when nothing else was working, not even prescription washes.  When people say it’s anti-bacterial, I believe it.

Here are a couple of links that speak to honey’s benefits:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02033065?LI=true

http://www.aces.edu/urban/metronews/vol8no2/HealthHoney.html

There.  I hope that clears up why I use it in my blog.  Feel free to substitute something that meets your personal ethics, or join me in using it.

Gluten-free Pie Crust

I have been very lazy where pie crusts are concerned.  In the past, I have resorted to press-in types, because I didn’t like fussing with rolling them out.  For health’s sake, I also tried whole wheat versions with oil rather than shortening.  No one gave rave reviews over those.  Then during the low-fat craze, my crusts became even less tasty and harder to get out of the pie plate.  Rarely were there pies coming out of my kitchen.  Then I had to give up wheat and figured that completed the demise of pies for me.

Gluten-free Pie Crust 005If any of this sounds familiar, I want to jump up and down and shout that it doesn’t have to end this way for you!  I have found the solutions to my problems.

First of all, let me just say that organic virgin coconut oil is the biggest answer to all of your crust problems, whether wheat or gluten-free.  This stuff is amazing and has many health benefits.  Even though you start with solid coconut oil, as you work the crust you do not have to worry about the warming from your hands melting it and causing it to destroy the crust.  It actually makes it easier to work with the crust!

The second answer to crust problems for those with gluten-free needs is a product called Orgran gluten substitute.  This is made in Australia, but is available through Amazon I am told.  A friend shared a box with me and I was hooked.  PLEASE note, that you do not have to use this in this recipe, as I’ve given another option, but it is the easiest to make when you do.  It is primarily starch-based with some “-oses” and guar gum.  If you do not like to use those things, I’ll tell you how to skip it.

When I used the Orgran product, I both pressed in a crust and rolled out a crust.  (Pictured above are both – the press-in in the foreground with no edging and the rolled out in the background with a crinkled edge.)  The crust was so pliable and workable, that rolling it out was easy!  If I tore the crust, it easily patched with a little pressing and rolling.  Warming the ball of dough and kneading it a bit allowed for the best workability.  When baked into a pumpkin pie, it was flaky, tender, and the best crust I had tasted in a long time!  Everyone liked it.  Success!  And it popped out of the pie plate without sticking, making for a pretty piece of pie on each plate.

The next time I did not use the Orgran and substituted more oat flour.  The crust still worked, but it was not as pliable and tended to want to stick to my rolling pin.  With some Pumpkin Pie Crust viewpatience and extra warmth/kneading, it still worked well.  When baked into a pumpkin pie, it came out of the pan easily and was tasty, but it wasn’t as flaky and tender.  It had a tendency to crumb a little more.  The crust in this picture of pie is using the extra oat flour, as is the whole pie pictured below.  You can see that it doesn’t fall apart.  I think it is a viable option, and definitely a cheaper one.  I am wondering as I write this if I used melted coconut oil whisked with the water if that wouldn’t help even more with the texture of the finished product and the pliability of the dough.  I will have to continue experimenting.

Another great thing about this crust is that if you want a fancy edge, it will handle the extra grief needed to produce one.  On the other hand, if you want to just bring the crust up even to the edge of your pie plate and hack it off there, smoothing the edge, it works, too!  How can you not love such a versatile crust?  :)

I have only worked this into a single crust pie.  I do not know how the more fragile no-Orgran crust will behave in a top-crust situation, but the one with the Orgran should be fine.

This makes 3, 9″ deep-dish single crusts with a little left over when you trim the crusts.  (If you saw my pumpkin pie recipe, you know that I have 3 pie plates to accommodate that recipe.  Thus the strange number of crusts.)  You can decrease the recipe to make a smaller amount if you have smaller pans or want fewer pies.

Pumpkin Pie-Whole

Gluten-free Pie Crust

  • 1 c. almond meal
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c. arrowroot
  • 1/4 c. tapioca flour
  • 1/2 c. Orgran gluten substitute or oat flour
  • 1 c. oat flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp. salt (with a sweet pie the 2 tsp. seemed a little too much)
  • 1 c. solid coconut oil (measure and refrigerate if necessary during the summer heat)
  • 10 T. cold water

Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the coconut oil until it is well mixed into the flour.  There should be smaller-than-pea-sized pieces formed when you are done.  Quickly stir in the cold water and knead/squeeze until the dough becomes well formed.  Divide into 3 equal balls of dough.  Onto waxed paper, roll out each circle of dough*.  If using the oat-flour-only option and it sticks to the rolling pin, use a lighter touch and be patient.  Transfer the crust to each pie pan by inverting the waxed paper over the pan.  Carefully peel off the waxed paper and fit the crust into the pan.  If there are splits or tears, just press the crust together.  Trim the top edge, finishing it as you would like.  Fill and bake according to pie’s directions.

*Another option would be to press the dough into each pan evenly and proceed with filling.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie SliceYes, I may indeed be a few months late posting this recipe compared to the rest of the recipe-blogging world.  Pumpkin everything is supposed to be served in the fall, right?  During the holidays, however, I was much too hurried to spend time taking photos before the pies were devoured and life rushed on.  Now, though, with winter swirling mightily around the corners of my home, pumpkin pie seemed like the kind of hearty dessert breakfast that my family needed.

*whispered*  “Did she just say pie for breakfast??”  Yes!  Yes, I did!  When you eat a Continue reading

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Have you seen this meme on the internet?  Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin(http://makeameme.org/meme/Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have, it’s possible you contemplated not even bothering to come see my new recipe because you are tired of seeing pumpkin in everywhere, too.  But how could I not share a fantastic recipe with you?  Even if it is pumpkin.  :)

Pumpkin Spice GranolaActually, this was an effort to try to convince my not-that-thrilled-with-granola family that granola can be special and just as tasty as the more expensive boxed cereals.  I think it worked at least for one of them, because I didn’t end up having to eat it all myself!

The great thing about this granola is that you put it in the oven for 6-8 hours and forget it.  Go to work, go to sleep; it will be there when you get back to it.  When you walk in the door, or get out of bed, the house will smell amazing!  Your stomach will begin to growl, and you might just decide to have a bowl of it right then before it has had much of a chance to cool off.

Pumpkin Granola

  • 10 c. rolled oats (not quick or instant oats)
  • 1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 c. walnuts, pecans, cashews, or your favorite nut to find in granola
  • 1/2 c. juice (apple, white grape, or another gently-flavored juice that blends well with pumpkin)
  • 1 14-16 oz. can of pumpkin puree (1 1/2 c. if you are using a pumpkin cooked from scratch)
  • 1/2 c. real maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. demerara sugar, raw sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 T. vanilla (or more if you like)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Break nuts into pieces – whatever size you like to chew in your granola.  I break a walnut half into about 4 pieces, roughly.  In a large bowl, mix oats, coconut, and broken nuts.  In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.  Pour pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until well coated.

Spread evenly onto 2 large cookie sheets.  (I really need to get another stoneware baking sheet.  It works incredibly well here.)  Put on racks in oven and set it to “warm” or 175°.  Bake for 6-8 hours.  (Note:  I have allowed a similar granola to bake for as long as 12 hours before, but it does get very, very crunchy.  If you choose 6 hours, it will be moist enough that you should store it in a cold location if you won’t finish it in a week.)  Place on cooling racks.  Store in an airtight container only once it has completely cooled down.  What you eat before that is up to you!  ;)

This is great served with raisins or date pieces.