Vegan Baking … Bye-Bye Eggs!

As much as I love vegan baking, I still consider myself a novice.  While I’ve used products like Ener-G in the past to replace eggs, I’ve always been curious about other possibilities.  Yesterday I came across a great diagram by Christine Frazier that shows 11 egg substitutions and thought it was definitely worth sharing.  I really like the visual and how she made it so easy to understand!  Personally, I’m going to print it 🙂  When replacing eggs in a recipe, make sure to think about matching flavors and textures to create the best result.

Vegan Baking Subs

I can’t wait to try these substitutions!  I may just have to bake something today … I could use a treat 🙂  Here’s to a happy, healthy & decadent day!  Enjoy ~

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Homemade Almond Butter …. Yum!

I love nut butters – every kind.  To me, they’re all great!  Today, I’ll focus on raw almond butter.  It’s perfect with a piece of rich dark chocolate, slathered on some crisp apple slices or applied to fresh homemade bread.  Honestly, I can enjoy it just as much right from the jar – a big heaping spoon of it!

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Almonds are such a great snack and healthy too.  They’re dense in vitamins and minerals and provide a large dose of protein and fiber as well as essential fatty acids.  They also contain vitamin E, zinc, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.

When it comes to making almond butter, it’s super easy.  More than anything, you just need patience!  🙂

Ingredients:

2 cups dry almonds

Optional:

Pinch salt
Pinch cinnamon
Sweetener of choice

* You can add any of the above optional ingredients or forget them completely.

  • Blend the ingredients in a high-powered blender for at least 10 minutes until creamy
  • Stop blending periodically to push down the sides
  • Just when you think you’re done, blend a little more

Enjoy!

P.S. I’ve been told you can make nut butters using a food processor as well.  I haven’t done it personally, but feel free to experiment.

Raw Hot Chocolate For 2

IMG_3626I must admit that I’m not used to cold winters after living in the desert for so many years.  Being in Italy this time of year has been an adjustment on many levels – no complaints, of course! 🙂  The other day I was in the mood for some hot chocolate and wanted to see if a raw version would hit the spot, and I must say it did the trick!  It was warm, rich, decadent and delicious.  I enjoyed it so much I made it again the next day!  It’s a great way to unwind on a cold day and the perfect treat to share with that special someone.

Ingredients:

1 cup plain almond milk
1 cup hot water
2 Tbs raw cacao powder
1 Tbs chia seeds
3 dates (or 2 ½ tsp maple syrup)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
Pinch cinnamon

Garnish:

Cacao nibs

  • Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
  • Pour into a cup and garnish with cacao nibs

Enjoy!

P.S.  For the almond milk recipe, go to “Nut Milk … It Does A Body Good!

Great Winter Treat … Persimmon Pudding

IMG_3578Well, I’m finally in Italy.  It seems like ages since I’ve posted.  I spent about a month in the NW with family and did very little cooking.  The break was great, but it feels good to be back in the kitchen trying some new things.

My boyfriend recently introduced me to persimmons, and I must say I really like them.  They have a sweet, mellow flavor and can be eaten fresh, dried, or cooked.  They’re also a great source of vitamins, minerals anti-oxidants, and dietary fiber.

Since I love desserts, I’m always looking for healthy alternatives to my favorite foods.  Below is a simple yet delicious pudding recipe – sweet, creamy and smooth.

Ingredients:

2 ripe persimmons
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp raw cacao
Pinch salt

  • Peel the persimmon skins, place the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth

Like I said, super easy!  You can eat it right away or chill it for a bit.  Personally, I like it right out of the refrigerator 🙂

Buon appetito!

Let’s Cook! 2 GREAT Cookbooks …

booksplashI love sharing things I enjoy, and if you’re looking for some great cookbooks either for yourself or as a gift this holiday season, I highly recommend Chloe’s Kitchen and The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook.  They’re filled with delicious, plant-based, vegan recipes that are uncomplicated, easy-to-make and really good!

Whether you’re looking to add some healthy foods to your diet, dramatically change the way you eat, or want to release some weight, these books will help you achieve your goals without sacrificing taste or depriving yourself.  Chloe was the winner of the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” and she shares many of her tasty cupcake recipes – along with other mouth-watering treats and comfort foods.  As someone who has a background in preparing raw food but is new to cooked vegan cuisine, I really like trying her recipes and am not intimated by them.

KarmaChowI recently got Melissa Costello’s The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook and am impressed with the recipes so far.  I’m looking forward to cooking my way through it and learning a lot of new things along the way.  All of the recipes are accompanied by a beautiful photo, and I appreciate that her recipes are not only vegan but also gluten and soy-free.  I respect her food philosophy in that she doesn’t believe in dieting – rather, she believes in making long-term changes and believes in “keeping it simple.”  A woman after my own heart!  🙂

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do … Happy cooking!

Food, Fun + Festivities

Like many people, I really enjoy the holiday season.  It’s a time to gather with family and friends – eat delicious food – and, most importantly, reflect on all the things we have to be grateful for.  It’s a time to slow down, review the previous year, and prepare for the next adventure.  It’s also a time when some people tend to forget their health and wellness goals and put them aside.  In the past, I definitely fell into that category.  I wanted to achieve my goals, but I also wanted to participate in the holiday festivities.  I went from one extreme to the other.

Now, I live more in the middle. I don’t believe in “either/or” – I’m more of an “and” girl … eat and have fun, indulge and be fit, celebrate and honor my wellness goals.  I definitely want to have my cake and eat it too!  I don’t want to feel deprived, and I don’t want to gain weight.  I want to look and feel my best and also indulge in all the goodies.

After many years of trial-and-error and yo-yo dieting, I found a way to successfully do all these things without sacrificing my desires:

1.  Set Your Holiday Intentions.

There’s nothing as powerful as being clear about what you want to achieve.  Once you know what you want, you can figure out a way to make it happen.  Write out your goals and create an action plan to set yourself up for success.

2.  Nourish Your Body.

Eat!  Don’t skip meals.  Take your supplements.  Drink plenty of water.  Never go to an event on an empty stomach.  If you’re in a hurry – as many people are during the holidays – drink your way to success … and, no, I’m not referring to alcohol!  Juice, juice, juice 🙂

For more about juicing, go to “Just Juice It!

3.  Think Homemade.

Ever since I learned how to cook, I can eat so much more and not gain weight.  I can splurge without feeling guilty.  For me, this was an amazing feat!  My life changed when I set up my kitchen differently and learned to prepare my favorite foods with new ingredients.  Now, I really can have my cake and eat it too 🙂

For some great chocolate treats, try “Almond Joy Goes Raw,” “La Dolce Vita … Chocolate & Hazelnut,” and “RAW Bliss … Decadent Chocolate Brownie & Coffee Ice Cream.”

4.  Honor Yourself.

While many people love the holidays, it can also be a stressful time of year.  For some, it can be the most difficult time of year.  No matter where you are on the spectrum, have compassion for yourself.  Do whatever you need to do to nourish your yourself – meditate, pray, go in nature, journal.  The choices are many.  If you need support, seek it.  Surround yourself with love, and empower yourself.

5.  Correct & Continue.

Forget perfection!  It’s doesn’t’ exist.  No matter what you do, you’re going to stray from your well-intentioned plans at some point.  That’s OK.  You’re human.  It’s normal and to be expected.  When you do something you wish you hadn’t, practice self-forgiveness and move on.  Each moment is a new opportunity to begin again.  You don’t have to wait until tomorrow or next week to get back on track.  Learn from your experience and proceed.  It’s all about progress – not perfection.

Wishing you a great holiday season filled with love, peace, joy and lots of yummy food ~

My Kind of Pasta … Carrot Ribbons w/Rosemary Crème

With my busy travel schedule lately, I haven’t had much time to spend in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes.  I’m sorry I haven’t been posting a lot lately but promise that starting in mid-December, I’ll be back to writing regularly.  Soon, I’ll be heading to Italy and will have lots of new and exciting things to share.  In the meantime, my wonderful boyfriend sent me this recipe.  I must say it looks delicious, and I can’t wait to try it!  🙂  With how much I love fresh rosemary and carrots, I imagine this will become a new favorite of mine.  No guilt pasta … Yum!

Ingredients:

1 large carrot
3 Tbs almond milk
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp almond flour
½ tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Yield: 1 serving

  • Cut the carrot into strips with a potato peeler, place in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and set aside
  • In a separate bowl, prepare the sauce using the remaining ingredients, and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes
  • Squeeze the carrots to remove any excess water and mix with the cream
  • Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary, and serve immediately

Thank you Mario Green Chef!