Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vegan Roasted Garlic And Kalamata Olive Hummus

Roasted garlic and kalamata olives make a great tasting addition to hummus!

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Hummus - So Versatile!
There are so many ways to make hummus. You can try different beans and add all kinds of ingredients for different flavors. (See my GuacaHummus with avocado or Spicy Red Pepper Hummus that I use as a topping for Portobello mushroom burgers. Or check out one of my most popular posts, Raw Hummus with Sprouted Garbanzo Beans). 
A few weeks ago I picked up some olive hummus at the store. It sounded interesting and I wanted to give it a try. It was really good but I was wondering how to make it even better. Of course what could be better than garlic? So I tried adding an entire head of roasted garlic to some hummus along with a respectable amount of chopped kalamatas (my favorite olive). I think you're going to really like this!

Roasted Garlic
A entire large head of garlic may sound like a lot, but once garlic is roasted, it gets a sweet and mellow taste. In fact, I recommend throwing in a clove or two of raw garlic when making the hummus for an added kick. I will probably even add a second roasted head the next time I make it. Can you ever get enough garlic?

To roast the garlic, just cut the top, drizzle a tiny bit of oil and water over the cloves, wrap in foil and bake!
The roasted cloves pop out easily!

I find it easier to chop the olives in the food processor.

Roasted Garlic and Kalamata Olive Hummus
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 4 (1/2 cup) servings]
For the roasted garlic
1 large head garlic (3.5 ounces)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon water
For the hummus
1 large head roasted garlic (above)
15 kalamata olives
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained (1 1/2 cups)*
1 clove raw garlic, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons sesame tahini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
* reserve some of the juice in case mixture needs more liquid.

To roast the garlic, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut a square of aluminum foil.
Slice top off garlic head deep enough to expose the tips of the cloves.
Place garlic, root side down, in middle of aluminum foil. Drizzle oil and water over exposed cloves.
Wrap foil around garlic and close tightly. Place in a small ovenproof dish and bake 1 hour, until tender.
To remove cloves, break off individual pieces and press from bottom, squeezing the cooked garlic clove out of the trimmed top. Remove all cloves and set them aside.
To make the hummus, place kalamata olives in a food processor with an S blade and pulse until chopped (do not over process). Remove chopped olives and set aside. Wipe out the food processor to remove the olive residue (or you'll end up with a yucky colored hummus).
Add garbanzo beans, clove of raw garlic (if desired), tahini, salt and lemon juice to the food processor and process until smooth and creamy. If too dry, add a tablespoon or more of reserved garbanzo liquid.
Add roasted garlic cloves and pulse a few times until just blended.
Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in the chopped olives.
Serve with baked chips or use as a filling for a vegetarian sandwich.

Per (1/2 cup)serving: 163.5 calories, 7.3 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7.8 g protein, 21.6 g carbohydrates, 4.3 g dietary fiber and 560 mg sodium.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Trader Joe's Vegan Mochi - Delicious, Dairy Free And Discontinued!

I Finally Found Dairy Free Mochi But Not For Long!

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Mochi, One of my Favorite Desserts!
I'm not sure when I discovered mochi, that little Japanese ice cream dessert covered with a dough-like, rice based, shell. But it was love at first bite. I especially like the doughy texture of the mochi and the frozen, creamy fillings with flavors like green tea, strawberry and mango. But when I became lactose intolerant and stopped eating dairy ice cream, this was one of the things I missed the most.

The Exciting Text Message
One night I received a text message from my daughter telling me that she discovered a delicious dairy-free  mochi at Trader Joe's. "It's amazing", she said. "You've got to get some!" So the next day, off I went in search of this vegan treat filled with 3 flavors of coconut milk ice cream. 

The Last 2 Boxes
At first I couldn't find it but hidden in the back of the ice cream case were the last 2 boxes of vegan mochi. I couldn't wait to get it home - actually I almost ripped open the box in the store but I contained myself!

Dairy-free mochi comes with 6 per box in 3 flavors:
mango, coconut and chocolate.

Not exactly low in calories but if you can eat just one they are:
130 calories, 4 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat and 23 g of carbs.

But are they Gluten Free?
Before introducing this product on my blog, I wanted to check if it was gluten free. It's not always that easy to determine since there are ingredients such as "emulsifiers and stabilizers". So I sent Trader Joe's an email asking them if it was gluten free. Their answer was basically, "We always fully disclose all ingredients used in all our Trader Joe's labeled products. Therefore we encourage all of our customers who follow a special diet or that have allergen concerns to always read over all of our product labels carefully". Well, telling me to read the label wasn't very helpful. So, basically, I would say be very careful because unless a manufacturer checks to see if the emulsifiers and stabilizers are gluten free, there could be a problem for those of you with an allergy or intolerance to gluten. But for those vegans not concerned about gluten who are looking for mochi, this product fills the bill.

But Are They Good?
They are a bit different than the ones you find Japanese restaurants but they were quite delicious. My favorite was the chocolate, second favorite was the coconut and the mango came in 3rd place for me - but still good. I read some reviews on-line and most vegans adored the product but some didn't like the dough-like coating.

The Bad News
At the end of the email that told me to read the label, Trader Joe's informed me that this product has been discontinued in their stores due to slow sales! Since it didn't meet a "minimum sales volume", it will be discontinued so that they can sell things that sell better. However, they said if there was enough "outcry" to bring it back, they might reconsider.

Write Trader Joe's
So if this is a product you would like Trader Joe's to continue selling, fill out this little form. You may be able to still find a few boxes of this at your local Trader Joe's. If so, scoop them up!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Raw Vegan Blueberry Banana Fruit Leather - A Healthy Snack For School Lunch Boxes! And They Are Naturally Gluten Free!

A perfect snack for school lunch boxes!

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My First Try at Fruit Leather
When I bought my Excalibur dehydrator, it came with "Preserve it Naturally II, The Complete Guide to Food Dehydration" . The book has lots of ideas on how to dehydrate fruits and vegetables and many other recipes for things I'd never make, like beef jerky. It also dehydrates most things at higher temperatures than what raw foodists would normally use. But it did inspire me to make something that I have never tried and that's fruit leather. So last night, before I went to bed, I whipped up some blueberries and a banana in my Vitamix, poured 4 little pancake-like puddles of the mixture on a dehydrator sheet, popped it in my Excalibur and woke up to 4 little fruit leathers! It was that easy!

Perfect Time of the Year
This is the time of year when we are buried in fruit from our trees or from the farmers' markets. It's also the time of year when the kids are going back to school and we struggle to think of healthy things to put into their lunch boxes. This is the perfect solution! 

Endless Combinations
Mix apples with peaches and a touch of cinnamon. Try using strained blackberry pulp with a banana. Mix apples and pears with some ginger or vanilla extract. Just experiment with the fruit you have at hand! To prevent darkening of light colored fruit, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid to each 2 cups of fruit.  WRITE A COMMENT AT THE END OF THIS POST IF YOU HAVE ANY GOOD FRUIT LEATHER RECIPES TO SHARE!
To make your snack even more nutritious, spread some peanut or almond butter on the leather and roll it up. You can even drop some chopped walnuts or coconut onto the mixture before it goes into the dehydrator. These are some of the ideas from this book and I'm sure we can come up with lots more!

Healthy Snack
Many of the fruit leathers at the store add sugar and corn syrup to the mixture. Fruit is sweet by itself so there really is no need. By making these yourself, you can be in control of what your child is eating. You can use organic fruit, leave out the sweeteners and food coloring and be certain that your family is getting the most healthful snack possible! 

Some people spread the leather over the entire sheet and make one large leather. I like having little 4 inch pancakes.
Roll the little pancakes up or fold them over.
Wrap tightly in plastic and drop in the lunchbox or store.
Each fruit leather is only 51 calories and has 2 g of fiber!

Blueberry Banana Fruit Leathers
Raw Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 8 (4 1/2 inch round) fruit leathers]
2 cups blueberries ,cleaned (if you use frozen, thaw first)
2 large bananas, peeled and cut up

Place fruit in a Vitamix or other high speed blender and blend until smooth.
Pour out 8 pancakes (about 1/4 cup each) onto 2 large Teflex dehydrator sheets (4 pancakes per sheet).
With the back of a spoon, gently spread pancake so that it is about 4 to 4 1/2 inches round. The mixture should be 1/8 inch in the center and 1/4 inch thick at the edges. Don't make them too thin.
Dehydrate at 105 degrees F until leathery and pliable and the center is no longer sticky. Mine took 9 1/2 hours but this will vary depending on the amount of moisture in your blended fruit mixture.
Peel leather off the Teflex sheets. Roll up or fold in half and then in quarters.
To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in airtight containers in a cool, dark place.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the leathers will keep one month at room temperature or for 1 year if the tightly wrapped leathers are put in the freezer.

Per fruit serving: 51.3 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 55 mg omega-3 and 84 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.5 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber and 0.7 mg sodium.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Raw Vegan Blackberry Ice Cream On Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Served with sliced bananas for a raw banana split or with a slice of this simple chocolate cake, raw blackberry ice cream is a perfect  summer dessert!

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More Raw Ice Cream!
I know I just posted Mango Macadamia Nut ice cream a few weeks ago but hey, it's summer! I can eat ice cream every day, especially when it's full of fresh fruit and raw, heart heathy nuts! 
My last post, Blackberry Lemon Ginger muffins featured the neighbors blackberries that are growing through my back fence. Well, there are plenty of blackberries left so this time I'll be using them to make raw ice cream.

Strain the Blackberries First
If you've ever thrown blackberries in your smoothie, even if you have a Vitamix blender, you'll notice the distasteful chopped up seeds in your mouth. There's no way around it - to get a nice smooth ice cream (or even smoothie), you need to strain the blackberries first. This gives you a beautiful and intense flavor. It takes a bit of patience, but it's worth it. So please, don't skip this step!

First blend the blackberries with a little water and strain.
Straining blackberries takes patience but don't skip this step!

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
I'm still trying to perfect my gluten free baking so today I'm sharing a very simple recipe for chocolate cake I developed using Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour. The recipe is relatively low in sugar and uses apple sauce to cut down the amount of oil to only 1/4 cup. Each slice is less than 150 calories!

Each slice is only 134 calories!

Blackberry Ice Cream
Raw Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 8 servings]
2 cups fresh blackberries, cleaned
1 cup water
2 ounces raw cashews, (1/2 cup), soaked 6 hours and rinsed
3 Medjool dates, soaked 6 hours in 1 cup water (SAVE soak water)
1 large ripe banana, peeled 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract *
* vanilla extract is usually gluten free but if you are on a gluten restricted diet, check label.

Place blackberries and 1 cup water in a Vitamix or other high speed blender and blend until smooth.
Strain blackberries through a strainer pushing pulp through with the back of a spoon. Rinse blender.
Place cashews in the blender with dates and their soak water and process until smooth and milky.
Add blackberry pulp, banana and vanilla extract and process until very smooth. (I added a packet of stevia to mine to give it a touch more sweetness but this isn't necessary).
You can refrigerate this mixture until needed later in the day or the next day.
Place mixture in a 1 1/2 or 2 quart ice cream maker and process according to instructions.
Serve immediately. Place unused ice cream in individual scoops onto a cookie sheet or plate and freeze. Once frozen, place scoops in a plastic container and put back in freezer until needed. You may have to defrost slightly to get them off the cookie sheet or plate. (This process makes serving the leftover ice cream easier as low fat ice cream freezes very hard and is difficult to serve). Leftover ice cream scoops make a lovely addition to your morning smoothie!

Per serving: 94.1 calories, 3.3 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.9 g protein, 16.6 g carbohydrates and 1.5 g dietary fiber.

Simple Chocolate Cake
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 12 servings]
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour *
3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum *
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup organic cane sugar or Sucanat
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

* If you do not want to make the cake gluten free, replace gluten free flour with white whole wheat flour and eliminate the xanthan gum.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut wax paper to fit the bottom of an 8 inch cake pan. Place in the bottom and grease the sides of the pan with Earth Balance vegan buttery spread or olive oil. Set aside.
Make a flax egg by combining ground flaxseeds and water in a small bowl or cup. Beat with a fork until the mixture becomes gooey. Set aside.
Combine flour, xanthan gum, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl and mix well.
In a medium bowl, mix the soy milk with the sugar, vanilla extract, apple sauce, olive oil and flax egg. Mix with a hand beater or a fork until thoroughly combined.
Add mixture to the dry ingredients and beat again until well blended.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn the cake onto the rack, gently removing the wax paper from the bottom. Turn the cake back over so it is cooling face side up. Set aside until cool or serve slightly warm.
Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Per serving: 133.8 calories, 5.8 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.3 g protein, 21.6 g carbohydrates and 2.7 g dietary fiber.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Blackberry Lemon Ginger Muffins - Vegan And Gluten Free

Blackberries blend beautifully with lemon and crystallized ginger.

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Blackberries Everywhere!
If you live anywhere near blackberries, you know that they grow like weeds and around this time of year, they are everywhere! We have some growing all along a trail near our house which we occasionally nibble on but this year Doug discovered blackberries growing through our back fence. How exciting to have these healthful little berries right there for the picking!

Blackberries growing through our backyard fence!

One cup of these little jewels are only 62 calories.

They provide half the RDA of vitamin C and manganese and have 8 grams of fiber!
Blackberries are rich in polyphenols and anthocyanins and are very high on the ORAC scale which measures antioxidant properties.

Gluten Free Baking
After learning a lot about the effects of gluten on the body from Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo's lecture at the Raw Health Expo, I started to develop more gluten free recipes. Since we love making fresh muffins and other baked goods, I quickly had to find a substitute for wheat flour. It's hard enough to make vegan baked goods without butter or eggs, so I thought this was going to be an even greater challenge. But luckily, I found Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour . It works much better when you add Xanthan gum to the recipe. If you don't want to make the muffins gluten free, you can substitute your normal flour in this recipe (I suggest white whole wheat) and eliminate the xanthan gum.

For best results, add xanthan gum to gluten free flour.
For cookies, add 1/4 tsp xanthan gum per cup of GF flour.
For cakes, add 1/2 tsp per cup of GF flour.
For muffins/quick breads, add 3/4 tsp per cup of GF flour.
For breads, add 1 to 1 1/2 tsp per cup of GF flour.
For pizza crust, use 2 tsp per cup of GF flour.

Blackberries, Lemon and Ginger 
I love crystallized ginger. I pop a few pieces in my mouth, from time to time, like they were candy. So I thought they'd match well with the tartness of blackberries. In this recipe, I also add a little lemon zest to bring out the flavors even more.

Penseys is my favorite crystallized ginger.
It's minced into tiny pieces, each delicately coated in sugar.

Blackberry Lemon Ginger Muffins
[Vegan, Gluten Free]
makes 12 muffins
Earth balance for greasing muffin pan
2 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour *
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum *
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1 tablespoon aluminum free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup organic cane sugar or Sucanat
zest from one lemon
2/3 cup apple sauce
3/4 cup gluten free soy milk
1 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh blackberries
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, minced
* For non-gluten free muffins, substitute either white whole wheat or regular multi-purpose flour for the gluten free flour and eliminate the xanthan gum.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Generously grease a muffin tin with a vegan buttery spread like Earth Balance and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, xanthan gum, flaxseeds, baking powder, salt and sugar and stir until combined.
In another bowl, mix lemon zest, apple sauce, soy milk, vanilla extract and olive oil. Blend with a fork, whisk or hand beater until combined.
Add to the flour mixture and stir until well blended.
Gently fold in the blackberries and crystallized ginger until they are uniformly distributed.
Scoop batter into muffin tins with a spoon and bake for 24 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean when placing it in the middle of the muffins.
Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes.
Take a butter knife and gently go around the edge of each muffin. Remove muffins from pan.
Serve warm or place on rack until cool before storing them.

Per muffin: 163.1 calories, 5.8 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 2.8 g protein, 27.9 g carbohydrates and 3.5 g dietary fiber.

Gently fold blackberries and crystallized ginger into the batter.
Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Raw Vegan Chopped Salad With Fresh Tomato Basil Dressing - Enjoying Your Garden's Bounty! Naturally Gluten Free!

Raw chopped salads are simple and delicious!

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And Here Come the Vegetables!
Summer arrived late here in Northern California so my vegetable garden had a slow start but I'm finally getting some tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and fresh herbs. 
Whether you have your own garden or not, summer is the time when fresh vegetables are in abundance and at their peak. A good way to enjoy them is in a chopped salad.
A raw chopped salad is just a mixture of small diced raw vegetables. Besides vegetables, I like to throw in some walnuts for added crunch and heart healthy fats and some raisins for a chewy, sweet texture. Olives make a nice addition also.
Plan on about 1 1/2 cups of chopped veggies per person. Here's the ingredients of one I made last night along with a fresh salad dressing that used some tomatoes, basil and garlic from my garden.

Some of the fresh ingredients for my chopped salad.
You can use other veggies too along with nuts and raisins.

Squeeze lemon or lime juice on diced avocado before adding to salad so it doesn't discolor.
Add a few tablespoons of dressing to chopped vegetables.
You can make a little mold from aluminum foil and a clip.
Pour in the chopped salad and gently release the clip.
It may collapse a little (mine collapsed a lot!)

Squirt a little more dressing on top of the salad.
Bring extra dressing to the table.
I put mine in this cute little bear!

Chopped Summer Salad
Raw vegan, Gluten Free
[4 main course servings]
For the dressing
[makes about 1 1/4 cups or 20 tablespoons]
1 packed cup fresh tomatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped and packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime (or lemon) juice
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the salad
1 avocado, diced
squeeze of lime or lemon juice
1 cup corn kernels (1 ear)
1 cup red bell pepper, small dice (1 medium pepper)
1 cup yellow patty pan or zucchini squash, small dice
1 cup green patty pan or zucchini squash, small dice
1/2 cup red onion, small dice
1 cup asparagus, small slices (save 8 2" tips for garnish)
1/4 cup raw English walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup dried raisins
4 sprigs basil for garnish (optional)

To make the dressing, add all ingredients, except the olive oil, to a Vitamix or other high speed blender. Blend until smooth.
At medium speed, drizzle the olive oil in through the top of the blender until combined. Put in a small squirt bottle or container and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix avocado with a little lemon or lime juice so that it will not discolor. Set aside.
Add the rest of the salad ingredients, except the asparagus tips and basil sprigs, to a large bowl.
Mix in a few tablespoons of dressing. 
Gently stir in the avocado.
Mound 1/4th of the salad on to each plate. Top with a little more dressing and garnish each mound with 2 asparagus tips and a sprig of basil.
Serve immediately with bottle of additional dressing.

Per serving (salad only): 204.6 calories, 10.6 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5.7 g protein, 26.8 g carbohydrates and 6.5 g dietary fiber.

Per tablespoon of dressing: 13.8 calories, 1.4 g, 0.2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.1 g protein, 0.5 g carbohydrates and 0.1 dietary fiber.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Raw Vegan, Gluten Free, Mango Macadamia Nut Ice Cream Sweetened With Dates

Making your own ice cream is easy and fun.
Most of all, it allows you to control the ingredients!

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One of my Favorite Kitchen Toys!
Last summer we bought a 2 quart Cuisinart ice cream maker and we've been using it ever since! Basically you just blend up a smoothie, throw it in the ice cream maker and around 25 minutes later you have ice cream! This is especially nice when you have lots of extra ripe fruit. For a little more info on the Cusinart and some very low calorie recipes, check out  Vegan Mango Peach and Strawberry Ice Cream.

Knowing What's in your Food
The best thing about making your own ice cream is knowing EXACTLY what's in it. Especially for those of you who are on a gluten free diet, you know that gluten lurks in additives like food coloring and thickening agents. So today we are going to make a raw, vegan ice cream that is simply made up of nuts and fruit. 

Mango Macadamia Nut Ice Cream
Raw Vegan,Gluten Free
[makes 8 servings]
2 ounces raw cashews (1/2 cup), soaked for 6 hours and rinsed 
3 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in 2 cups water 1 or more hours (save water)
1/2 teaspoon gluten free almond extract (optional)
2 cups mango, peeled and sliced (about 2 mangos*)
1 medium banana, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts, slightly crushed.
* I like to use Manilla mangos when you can find them but other mangos are fine.

Rinse cashews and place them in a Vitamix or other high speed blender with the dates, all of their soak water and almond extract. Process until mixture looks like milk.
Add mango and banana and blend until smooth.
Add mixture to a 2 quart ice cream maker and process, according to instructions. 
To crush macadamia nuts, place them in a plastic freezer bag and gently crush with a mallet until each nut breaks into about 4 pieces.
Add macadamia nuts to the ice cream machine during the last few minutes of processing.
Serve immediately.

Per serving: 163.5 calories, 9.4 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.3 g protein, 20.6 g carbohydrates and 2.9 g dietary fiber.