Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vegan Bakers Anonymous

Alright, this might be my last post about zucchini...  It's in it's bounty right now and so good for you!  It's a vegetable, duh.  

Mixing sugar, flour and some oil send my heart flying in more ways than just one.  First, I get flippin' excited, it's borderline embarrassing - think little puppy wagging it's tail anticipating a treat.  Yes, I did just compare myself to a puppy.  But a cute one none the less!  Second, I eat whatever goodness that is baked.  Then, I crash.  Depending on what it is and what's in it, I can crash pretty hard - Toddler throwing a tantrum in the cereal isle begging for more.  Lastly, like the bakery junkie I am, I crawl back to the pan, twitching for my next fix.  After the pan of brownies, muffins or cake is gone, shame and an awful bloated feeling usually set in.  If only I'd listen to myself!  

Eliminating brownies, cookies, cupcakes and other treats is pretty much impossible in my book.  So, in order to avoid an awful sugar hangover and 'chubby-girl' syndrome, I've paid close attention to what sets my blood sugar raging.  Just like anyone; refined flour, sugar and fat rock my bod, just a little to hard.  

This zucchini bread recipe is gluten-free and pretty close to being fat-free.  I replaced the oil with applesauce.  The applesauce helps to add a nice fluffier texture to the bread, delicious without a ton of guilt!  

Note: I tried to stretch the batter and make two loafs, this will only make one happy loaf.  As you can see in my pictures, my loaf looks a little short.  So, if you do want to make two loafs, double up the batter.  

Healthy Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 cup brown rice flour

1 1/2 cup garbanzo flour

1 cup brown sugar - feel free to use Sucant 

1/3 cup flax meal

1/2 cup shredded cocoanut

1 1/2  tsps cinnamon

1 tea spoon ginger

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp soda

1 cup apple sauce

1 banana 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup rice milk- add more if batter is still dry

Preheat the oven to 350 as you mix the dry ingredients together.  Mash the banana, grate the zucchini and whisk the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Once mixed, add the wet into the dry.  Grease the loaf pan and pour batter into the pan.  Top with extra coconut shreds.
Bake for 45 minutes and enjoy with some Earth Balance and a cup of tea!  You'll enjoy this knowing you won't feel like you're coming down from an awful sugar high in a matter of minutes.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bitter and Tough

Bitter, tough and a second away from ordering takeout had always been my association with eggplants.  They intimidated my culinary abilities.  Don't get me wrong, I love baba ganoush, ratatouille and a good moussaka.  It's all great, unless I try to make it.    I've never been successful preparing anything with eggplant that tastes good.  It's almost become an embarrassment.  Reviewing my eggplant failures, I realized I knew nothing about the fruit.  Yes, eggplant is a fruit!  A little bit of education can go a long way and lead to one dang tasty dinner.  

This even got the thumbs up on this dish by some hungry Packer fans.  

Eggplant Steaks with Chic Pea Cilantro Salsa

Slice eggplant lengthwise and coat in marinade.  I just used some olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Place the 'steaks' on the grill, wait about 3 minutes before flipping.  When they are brown and tender remove from the grill and plate them with any dressing or salsa.  

Eggplants fresh off the grill

Chic Pea Salsa

Chic Pea Salsa
3 tomatoes - a can of diced tomatoes would work fine here, too. 
1/2 cup cilantro - chopped
1 can chic peas
1/2 of a lime- squeezed
salt n' pepper to taste

Finally, a successful eggplant experience!  

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Thank goodness for spell check, because I always misspell zucchini.  After this post, I'm pretty confidant that I won't anymore.  Incorrectly or correctly spelt, zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables.  It's great in stir-fries, pastas, baked goods and even on pizza.  It would be very hard for me to get sick of it.  I hope I don't, because I have a ton of them!  

Shredded zucchini waiting to be added to the chocolate batter.  Yummm

Because it's been so warm, I've laid off of baking and cooking.  The raw foodist in me has blossomed in the past weeks as I've boycotted the stove and oven.  It cooled down a little tonight and I went ahead and made up some delicious chocolate zucchini muffins.  I wouldn't really call these "Muffins", they're so rich and chocolately, they resemble more of a brownie or cupcake.  How ever you want to name them, they're flippin' delicious.  

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

1 1/2 cup flours - I mixed brown rice flour and whole wheat

1/4 c cocoa

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

dash of salt

3/4 cup apple sauce unsweetened

1 mashed banana

1/3 cup rice milk

1 whole zucchini shredded

chocolate chips - to your liking

Preheat the oven to 350.  Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the wet.  Spoon into a greased muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes.  They are fantastic!  Enjoy with some soy milk!

Get on it and make these bad boys!  You won't regret it! 

Friday, August 14, 2009

Go on, Sweat! It's Summer!

Some of the Italians near and dear to me might ask where the pasta and parmesan is in this dish; but I guarantee they will still think it's delicious.  Especially on a hot summer evening.  This week heated up quite a bit and has been fostering many raw dishes.  This raw zucchini pasta recipe is so simple, light and flavorful, it could easily be served at a fancy dinner party to wow guests.  Never underestimate simplicity!  

Raw Zucchini Pasta

What you will need:
zucchinis - Green or yellow, or both! 
vegetable peeler
salt n' pepper - optional 

Hold zucchini on an angle and without a ton of pressure begin to peel the skin away.  That's basically it!  Feel free to dust with salt and pepper before tossing a sauce on.  I used a simple marinara sauce; but pesto would be just fabulous!  A definite summer keeper! 

Zucchini ribbons before adding the sauce

Grab a cool beverage and get peelin'!  Your friends and family will love this!  P.S.- It twirls lovely, just like spaghetti!  I'm sure you could fool the kiddos saying that it's cold spaghetti!  You'll be surprised when they finish their plates!  You'll know that they just ate a whole raw zucchini and I guarantee a proud "mom-moment" will take over! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fruit Frappe

Since I've moved to Minneapolis, I've had a chance to eat at brilliant restaurants with excellent vegan options and shop at fantastic co-ops and grocery stores.  It was overwhelming, the variety of vegan ice creams, snacks and baked goodies to try!  I can say... I tried a lot of them; and they were all soo tasty!  Don't even get me thinking about Purely Decadent soy ice cream.  Great, now I'm thinking about it - and I want it!  This leads me to my little problem.  Once I start a pint of soy ice cream, I can't stop.  Within a half an hour I have an empty pint and a terrible belly ache.  To make me feel even worse, the next morning I wake up with a head ache as if I had been drinking heavily instead of eating soy ice cream.  Don't I sound hard core?  he he he.  Oh, how sugar effects my body.  

Knowing I had to do something about this problem of inhaling delicious soy ice creams, I made a commitment and a healthy switch.  Sure, it might not be Chocolate Tofutti, but it's pretty refreshing and healthy.  I've started blending up a mixture of frozen and fresh fruits and placing the mixture into the freezer for about two hours before eating.  The finish product ends up as a whole fruit sorbet.  Sometimes when I'm feeling spry, I'll even add some cocoa powder! 

I usually blend one banana, and any mixed berries - freeze for about two hours and enjoy!  It's been perfect for these hot and humid nights we've been having in Minnesota this past week.  

So, my overeating of soy ice cream is at bay and is being curbed with my lovely new 'Fruit Frappe'.  Be creative and add any other goodies; coconut flakes, chocolate chips, cookie chunks?  Like I said, be creative and have fun!  

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summmah Time!

Sure, I don't eat meat, but I still love a good backyard BBQ.  How could one not love a gathering of good friends, family, food, cool beverages and lovely summer weather?  Hmmm... 

We grilled out tofu and zucchini kebabs with a cilantro pesto that my sister made up, it was delicious! For a side, we had fresh sweet corn from the farmers market.  It was heavenly!  Instead of using Earth Balance to top my corn, I used olive oil infused with jalapino peppers.  Such a great kick, I love spicy stuff.  There is a local store in Green Bay that sells it; Savore.   They have a variety of different oils, vinegars, bulk pastas and teas.  If you're ever in the NE Wisconsin area, definitely check it out!  It's a great place.  

My Mom put on the best BBQ followed by a brownie throw down.  "Throw what?" you might ask, let me explain...  When I went vegan, I told my Mom that I could make anything vegan and make it taste good.  To prove this to her, I proposed that we 'throw down', like Bobby Flay on the Food Network.  So with in a week or so, we had it all organized: Cookie Throw Down 2008.  What happens is just like the television show - but cooler, of course.  I challenged my Mom, I made a batch of my best vegan cookies, and she made a batch of her best cookies.  We had our family and friends taste test both of them and critique them on taste, presentation, texture, etc.  

I was so flippin' nervous having my family taste my cookies and then my Mom's.  She has always been an awesome cook, plus she's been to pastry school.  Need I say more... I was sweatin' in my oven mitt.  Sure enough, when the scores came in, I won!  Wow-e was I tickled!  So, I was awarded an apron that has since traveled around from challenger to challenger.  

My two sisters challenged each other over the weekend.  I was so pumped because both of them made vegan brownies!  AND they were both phenomenal!  It was definitely hard judging them.  I had seconds of both, which ended up in an awful sugar head ache... Sigh... 

Chef Amy putting her final garnishes on her brownie, a beautiful caramel glaze and chopped walnuts.  

Reining Chef Emily puts her final touches onto her Peanut Butter Brownies. 

Amy took the apron this time with her cake-like brownie and caramel glaze.  Her vegan glaze really tied the brownies together, the walnuts added a nice salty crunch which the glaze balanced.  Em's brownies were pretty darn tasty, too.  I love PB and chocolate.  I might have mentioned once before that they're my two favorite things together.  They were tough brownies to judge!  

Throw Downs pretty much rock.  It's helped me bring quality vegan goodies to the table; showing my family that it's not all just sprouts and lettuce.  If you have an unsupportive family (I'm blessed that mine doesn't think I'm too crazy...) that doesn't understand your lifestyle, opt for a Throw Down!  Show them that vegan baking and cooking is delicious and easy!  

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Romancing the Stone

Over the weekend I had a couple opportunities to bake on a pizza stone.  I've attempted baking on a stone before and never had the best of luck.  But, that all changed and now, and I'm in love!  The scones I made came out beautifully.  The bottoms weren't burnt, the outside was nice and crisp and the inside was soft and completely baked through.  Baking stones help to evenly distribute heat to whatever is being baked.  It only enhanced a good recipe!  I made a batch of these twice, and both days they were gobbled... 

Blueberry Scones on the baking stone

A beautiful way to start a Saturday morning

"Burp... Can I have another one?"

Blueberry Scones with a Crumble 

11/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 c white flour

1 cup cup oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

pinch of cinn. 

pinch of salt

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup water or rice milk

A squeeze of a lemon

Cup of blueberries

Mix the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients and add them to the dry.  Gently fold the bluberries into the batter and form into triangles, hearts, circles or any other shape.  Place on to a preheated pizza stone and generously sprinkle brown sugar and a few oats on top of them.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy warm! 

How could we not make some pizza on the stone?  It was soo soo good!  The crust came out soo much better than if we were to use our regular pizza pan.  Crispy on the outside and fluffier on the inside.  Beautiful!  

Garden pizza with a whole wheat crust

I'm so glad I had such success baking on the stone.  I'll be recommending it to everyone I know for the rest of the week!  

Monday, August 3, 2009

We've been lazy.

We were out of town for a fantastic long weekend.  I'll have some goodies posted later this week!  

Semi-Pro Napper and Lazy Bum: Baker