Thursday, April 3, 2014

I Can't Believe It's Vegan "Cheesecake"


Springtime should make you feel light, bright and healthy. In nature, spring brings new growth and beginnings. Human beings should follow this pattern and take this time to get healthy. But let's be realistic, if having dessert makes your heart sing, just accept it and make it as healthy as possible! With the heavy recipes of winter behind us, it's time to lighten things up.

Traditional cheesecake is very rich and extremely fattening. It has no redeeming quality, other than being completely delicious. This makes cheesecake a perfect candidate for a healthy recipe makeover. My "cheesecake" is VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE and taste remarkably close to the real thing. It's a wonderful make-ahead option that keeps in the refrigerator for several days. Simply top with fresh fruit or fruit sauce and serve. With the help of these adorable 4-ounce mason jars you can easily bake, store and serve with little mess. 




Vegan Mini "Cheesecake"

Makes 8 - 4 ounce servings

Crust:
3/4 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup shredded organic coconut
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Process almonds and shredded coconut in a food processor until they become a fine meal. Add remaining ingredients until just combined, however do not over-process, you want the mixture to be crumbly. Drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of crust mixture into each 4 ounce mason jar. Using the bottom of a small juice glass or shot glass, slightly press the crumb mixture down into the mason jar so it forms a nice even crust.

Filling:
2 - 8 ounce containers of Trader Joe's Vegan Cream Cheese (*see note for substitute)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt


In a medium bowl, blend all filling ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Spoon about 2 1 /2 tablespoons of filling into each mason jar and smooth out the top as desired. Place jars onto baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until they are set, but still jiggly in the middle. While the mini "cheesecakes" are baking, it's time to make the blueberry sauce.

Blueberry Sauce:
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons orange juice
1-2 tablespoons organic sugar (optional)
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Combine all blueberry sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring, until thick. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl to cool slightly.



Spoon slightly cooled blueberry sauce over each mini cheesecake and cover with mason jar lid. Place covered mini mason jars in refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight if possible.

Enjoy!

*Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese is the substitute for Trader Joe's Vegan Cream Cheese in this recipe.


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Saturday, March 1, 2014

All Natural Sweet Potato Dog Treats


Clean eating means putting fresh, healthy, non-processed foods into our bodies. This philosophy should extend to all members of our family, even the furry ones. The best way to ensure my two dogs are eating healthful, preservative free snacks is to make them at home. Max and Maya go crazy over these all natural, vegetarian, grain free, gluten free, easy to make treats. 

What makes these dog cookies unique is the combination of sweet potato and coconut flour. Sweet potatoes not only taste great, but they are loaded with nutrients and they make a healthy addition to your dogs diet. Coconut flour is high in fiber. It's also a great source of protein, iron and is naturally gluten free. The ingredients in this recipe can also help benefit your pups digestion, skin and coat.


All Natural Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Makes approx. 36 cookies

1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg
1 tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil

Peel and cut sweet potato into 1 inch chunks. Place sweet potato pieces into a microwave safe bowl, cover with a paper towel and heat for 4-6 minutes until soft. Mash using a potato masher and let cool.

Once sweet potato is cool add peanut butter, honey and blend with a wooden spoon. In separate bowl lightly beat egg and then stir into potato mixture. Gradually stir in flour until just combined. Add one tablespoon coconut oil and use hands to mix until a smooth dough forms. Separate into 2 balls, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle light coconut flour on work surface and roll out dough, on ball at a time. Sprinkle additional flour on dough and rolling pin as needed to prevent dough from sticking. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheets and bake 20-30 minutes until slightly golden. 

Cool completely on wire racks. These dog treats cool to a semi-firm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week or in the freezer for up to six months.


"Bone" Appetit!


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Monday, February 10, 2014

Dark Chocolate, Coconut and Almond Hearts of Joy


Do you remember your favorite childhood candy bar? Mine was the iconic Almond Joy, made from sweet chewy coconut, toasted almonds and milk chocolate. However, that was a long time ago and commercially processed candy no longer interests me (sorry Peter Paul). This sugary classic needed a healthy makeover...food bloggers to the rescue! This recipe is from TastyYummies, it's all natural, healthy and best of all, decadent. 

To be honest most days I do "feel like a nut", so I added the crunch of roasted almonds to this recipe. Such a happy combination...chocolate, coconut and nuts. I also did a variation without nuts where I added a pinch of Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt to the tops. This gave the chocolate candy a different twist and a lovely sweet, salty flavor.

Just like the famous candy bar, this indulgent treat is rich and satisfying. Unlike the store bought version it uses healthy ingredients like 100% cacao chocolate, organic coconut and maple syrup. There is no refined sugar, it's vegan and gluten free. It melts in your mouth.

For Valentines Day I used heart candy molds, but I have also made these chocolates using a mini muffin pan with cupcake liners. The cupcake liners make the candy easy hold without getting chocolate all over your fingers! 




Dark Chocolate, Coconut and Almond Hearts of Joy

Makes 12-15 hearts or mini cups

Coconut Filling:
2 1/2 cups (8-oz bag) 100% organic shredded coconut - unsweetened
1/2 cup melted organic virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping:
6 ounces organic dark chocolate baking bar - 100% cacao, unsweetened
1 tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup organic maple syrup
Roasted almonds (see below) - coarsely chopped
Pinch of Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt (optional)

Roast almonds in a 300 degree oven, for about 15 minutes or until a nice nutty smell wafts from the oven. Watch them carefully because they could burn quickly. Once cooled, give the almonds a course chop.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the coconut filling ingredients and mix until well combined. Scoop 1 tablespoon of coconut filling into the bottom of a candy mold or a mini muffin pan lined with paper liners. Using your fingers press the coconut mixture down into the candy mold, try to make sure its evenly pressed. Place in freezer on a flat surface until frozen, about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes (when the coconut is frozen) it's time to make the chocolate topping. Melt chocolate with 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the microwave at 10 second intervals, stirring in between intervals. When the chocolate is melted, smooth and silky, add the maple syrup and stir until well combined. 

Take the coconut filled candy molds out of the freezer and spoon chocolate mixture over the top. Top with roasted almonds, a pinch of sea salt or any other topping you fancy and place back into the freezer to chill for another 30 minutes. 

You will be delighted by how delicious "healthy" can be. Store chocolates in an airtight container, between layers of parchment paper, in the refrigerator. Keep chilled because these candies will start to get soft at room temperatures above 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hope you enjoy!


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Monday, February 3, 2014

Pomegranate and Acai Super Smoothie


Valentines Day is approaching fast. Remember to give love to the one most important to you...yourself! That's right, nothing says "I love me" more then a heart healthy superfood smoothie. Satisfy a sweet tooth while giving your body what it loves most, vital nutrients. This vibrant smoothie gets its health boost by blending the freeze dried powder of two superstar fruits, pomegranate and acai.

Pomegranate powder is made from the whole pomegranate fruit. This ruby red powder is chocked full of vitamins and minerals and is particularly high in Vitamin C and potassium. It's sweet fruity flavor can be used in a variety of recipes. Pomegranate has three times the amount of antioxidants found in green tea and has been shown to be effective in fighting certain cancers, lowering blood pressure and supporting cardiovascular health.

The deep purple hue of Acai Powder indicates the abundance of powerful antioxidants, which makes it exceptional at fighting free radicals and promoting longevity. Acai is low in sugar, and is high in protein and fiber which helps to keep you feeling full throughout your day. The acai berry is said to be one of the most nutritious foods on Earth.




Pomegranate & Acai Super Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

2 cups frozen strawberries
1 1/2 cups almond milk ice cubes (see below)
1 frozen banana
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon acai powder
1 tablespoon pomegranate powder

To make almond ice, simply freeze unsweetened almond milk in an ice cube tray until solid. Almond ice creates a lovely creamy texture, similar to a milk shake. While blending if the consistency is too thick add additional unsweetened almond milk.

Blend all ingredients together until frosty and delicious.

Enjoy!


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Monday, January 20, 2014

Spicy Corn Ebelskivers with a Tomatillo Salsa Verde


An ebleskiver (pronounced "able-skeever") is a traditional Danish pancake in the shape of a sphere. It's solid like a pancake, but light and fluffy like a popover. These airy treats are often served with a dusting of powdered sugar and accompanied by a fruit jam. 

Ebelskivers can be sweet or savory, filled or unfilled, feature fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, preserves, chocolate, and more. The possibility for fillings is endless. These heavenly puffs can be served as a delightful breakfast, an innovative hor d’oeuvre, as a satisfying light supper or a delectable dessert.

Try something different this year at your Superbowl party. Instead of the standard football fare of chips and salsa, treat your guests to a more unique appetizer. These ebelskivers are also great served with Jakes Vegetarian Chili.

Spicy Corn Ebelskivers

Recipe from Ebelskivers by Kevin Crafts
Makes 21 pancakes, 4-7 servings

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded queso fresco
1 cup fresh corn kernels

Preheat the over too 200 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolk, then whisk in the milk and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and, and using a wooden spoon, stir until well blended. The batter will be slightly lumpy. 

In a clean bowl, using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest and gently blend until no white streaks remain. Carefully fold in the green onion, jalepeno, cheese, and corn kernels, taking care not to deflate the mixture.

Brush the wells of the ebelskiver pan with some of the remaining butter and place over low-medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble, add about 2 tablespoons batter to each well. Cook until the bottoms of the pancake are lightly browned and crisp, 3-5 minutes. Use two bamboo skewers to turn the pancakes and cook until lightly browned on the second side, about 3 minutes longer.

Transfer the finished pancakes to a platter and keep warm in the oven while you repeat to make two more batches. Can be made ahead of time and re-warmed in the oven. Serve with Tomatillo Salsa Verde. 

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Makes about 3 cups

10-12 tomatillos, husks removed, roasted
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup yellow onion - chopped
1 small bunch cilantro (about 1/2 cup packed leaves) - chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 jalapeno, seeds removed - chopped
1 large poblano chili, roasted and skins removed - chopped
1 lime - juiced

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well to remove stickiness. Roast tomatillo in whichever method you prefer. I like to roast them over a flame on the burner, it's fun to hear them sizzle and pop. Using tongs rotate the tomatillos on the flame until they are blackened and blistered all around. Roast the poblano in the same fashion. Once the poblano has cooled slightly, remove all the burnt skin and chop (keep the burnt skins on the whole tomatillos). 

Place whole tomatillos, onions and jalapeno into a food processor or high powered blender and pulse.

Add in remaining ingredients and pulse until desired consistency.

Enjoy!


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