Riddle me this…

I tried to go “off piste” last night and create a tofu pudding out of pure imagination. I felt inspired by my previous lemon dessert and threw tofu into my processor, along with cacao, and agave. Oh, add cinnamon. I kept blending, adding more cacao, adding more agave, and even plain soy yogurt to loosen it up. It just ended up looking like chocolate ricotta. However it tasted… hrm. Hard to put my finger on a good word but I’m going to go with “synthetically sweetened”. 2 words.

Days later I went to itoshii for copious amounts of (vegetarian) sushi and sushi related food, and realized that the tofu I’d used was far too firm. The tofu at itoshii was smooth like buttah and just melted in your mouth. This, I said aloud, is what I need to find for my pudding endeavours! Alas I haven’t had the time to do this but it’s lingering there in my brain…

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How sweet it is…

I’m having some degree of difficulty finding a way to eat really healthy. And I mean REALLY healthy. It seems close to impossible, or, maybe it has more to do with one’s (my) idea of “healthy”. Maybe in my head it’s as close to raw and natural as possible and really, that’s not a diet of convenience. Not even a little. Of course you can eat a piece of fruit easily and munch on choice raw veggies, but when it comes to grains, lentils, pasta, potatoes…. yeah then you’re more committed. Beans are easy peasy from the can, but cooking with most dried beans requires you to think ahead a day in advance to allow for soaking time. Grains need to be prepared, and even more, you need to procure them and in some areas (mine) finding more wholesome and unprocessed grains, such as quinoa or bulgar is about making a special trip to the local bio shop. When I started trying to consume less dairy and focus more on a vegan style diet, I began to notice that it’s way easy to make stunning desserts than savory meals. There’s a heavy lean towards fake cheese products, which for me defeats the purpose in some way of eating vegan. The supermarket is packed with synthetic meat replacements that have creepy ingredients in them, leaving me with the sensation of eating at Mc Donald’s. Vegan sauces are made with nuts, soaked and then blended and used on pasta and all sorts of ways but I’m not really sure consuming that many nuts in one go is great for you either. A lot of vegan or raw foods fall short (in my opinion) by over sweetening. It seems like so many recipes are laden with sugar via Stevia, agave, dried dates… I’m not sure about Stevia but I know that agave and dried dates both have a fair deal of sugar in them leaving them and the dishes they enhance a (camouflaged) calorie bomb. So much in fact that I’m not entirely sure it’s good to cook with them regularly. So maybe you have the opportunity to avoid refined sugar, but you substitute it for processed agave or calorie ridden dates. Where’s my healthy, natural food!?

Again, I’m seeing that maybe where I’m falling short here is by confusing my perception of the vegan diet as healthy and natural with the truth. The truth is probably more like, even vegans will consume processed foods of convenience because that’s just the “American lifestyle”. Also, many vegans aren’t herbivores for health as much as for moral beliefs, so who am I to go around making all these assumptions? I can accept that vegan or raw are not synonymous with low-calorie or even healthy at times, but I also keep in mind that choosing a recipe that doesn’t contain animal products doesn’t automatically earn me the “healthy well balanced diet” award, either.

Tonight I had a veggie stir fry with brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, peas, mushrooms, and red onions with sesame and soy marinated tempeh slices, and 2 buttery potatoes. Not a completely stellar meal, considering the oil required to sautée and the buttered potatoes, but better than what I really craved… pizza. And dessert was my attempt at adding more protein to my diet today; blended tofu with lemon, honey, and berries. I put in a fraction of the amount of honey stated in the recipe and actually found myself wondering if leaving it out all together wouldn’t have been the better choice. BUT, it was really tasty. I needed to finish my long, snowy day off with some degree of style, and I think this did it.

 Lemon Cream with Blackberries

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup honey (I used less and added it to taste)
  • 1 package (12 ounces) silken tofu, firm or extra-firm, drained (I used firm, and the end result was similar to ricotta cheesecake. I think if you use softer tofu the blended result will be silkier so it’s your preference really)
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries (I used frozen and defrosted them)

Directions

  1. Combine 2 1/2 teaspoons of the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, and tofu in a blender.
  2. Puree ingredients until smooth, scraping down sides of blender with rubber spatula as necessary.
  3. Divide lemon cream evenly among four bowls or serving glasses. Garnish each portion with blackberries and reserved lemon zest. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Images and recipes: Whole Living

Chocolate salty balls

Well, they’re not really the “Official” Chocolate Salty Balls, but I couldn’t help writing that. Maybe I watch too much South Park. These babies are “Almond Date Truffles”, and I seriously recommend that you go make these. Total prep time was 15 minutes then 1 hour in the fridge and Wham! you have something healthy and SO delish to nibble on.

Ingredients:

  • 20 Medjool dates, seeded and halved
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup creamy almond butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds, well chopped

I sliced my dates in half, removing the pits, which was really the most time consuming part of this, and that only took me a couple of minutes. You toss the dates and vanilla extract in a food processor and pulse it until you get a paste. I added a touch more of the extract because my mix was very dry and it immediately turned into a paste. So, I don’t think using fresh vanilla bean would be ideal here, unless you added a 1/2 teaspoon of water to compensate. Add the almond butter and pulse a few times to mix, then add the shredded coconut, cocoa, salt and cinnamon and pulse a few more times. The mixture looks crumbly, but when you press it between your fingers it binds perfectly. Mine were a good consistency, but the recipe states, “if it seems too wet to hold in a ball, add more coconut, if too dry, add a touch more almond butter or a spash of water.”

I scooped the mixture with my fingers and hand rolled it form a truffle sized ball.It should yield 18 balls and I ended up with 19, so I think you can get away with eyeing it rather than trying to measure it out with a spoon or anything too complicated. I set the truffles on a sheet of baking parchment in a small baking dish and then set about toasting the almonds. * I will say now that I think it’s better to toast them before you start, so they cool. So go do that first (hopefully you read ahead before starting, if not, oops!) OK, so put your chopped almonds on a plate or in a small bowl and roll each truffle in the almonds (apply a bit of pressure to get them to adhere). I actually wet my fingers with water and rubbed them on the truffles before applying the slivers, because they didn’t stick as well without, even with applying some pressure, so food for thought. Place the plate in the fridge to chill for an hour. The blog states that the truffles will keep covered in the fridge for a couple weeks but I doubt they’d last anyone that long.

The end result is dense, just the right amount of sweet, rich with cocoa, and just a bit of a crunch. They’re perfect for a party, as you can be a show-off and everyone will tell you you have mad skills, or you can easily make this for having guests over during the week even. I actually take a couple to work with me so I have something healthy and yummy to snack on in the afternoon when I’m feeling a bit peckish.

Now, the photo, like most of the others on this blog to date, are from the original source, however, I will take a photo of mine tonight from my own kitchen, and make more of an effort to showcase what my end result looks like!

Now, make these and let me know how they turned out for you!

Via: Sprouted Kitchen

Soothing my Soul

Cooking last night was from Post Punk Kitchen. I tried 2 recipes, which turned out quite nicely.

Tempeh Chili… below is a shot off their site of the chili. Mine looks JUST as good, actually. I made it über spicy (on accident) so it’s sort of ”hell fire” chili, but I don’t mind. If you’re not clear on what tempeh is, it’s essentially fermented whole soybeans which make a patty as a result of the fermentation process. Admittedly, it sort of smells like old socks… but when you prepare it properly, the smell lessens. It’s actually good, but I have a really sensitive nose so I have to adjust myself for it, perhaps more than an average person might.

What you need:

Ingredients:

1 package (8 oz) tempeh, diced medium
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
1 green bell pepper, diced medium (I forgot this)
1 large carrot, diced small
3 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil + 2 teaspoons
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Couple of generous dashes fresh black pepper
15 oz can pinto beans, drained
1 cup good dark beer (I use Negra Modelo) (I used wine)
15 oz can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste (forgot this)
1 1/2 cups water or veg broth
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup (forgot this too)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (oh, I forgot this, wow… the list keeps expanding)
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped (about a cup, lightly packed)

In a large pot, cook onions, green bell pepper and carrots over med-high heat, until tender and a little brown (15-20 minutes) stirring occasionally.

At the same time, put tempeh in a large frying pan and fill with water until it is almost covered. Add 2 teaspoons soy sauce and let simmer over high heat for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed, stirring occasionally. When water is mostly absorbed, mash tempeh with a fork, so it’s crumbly but still chunky. Lower heat to medium and add 2 teaspoons olive oil , saute for 15 more minutes.

At this point, the twenty minutes for your veggies should be up. Add garlic and saute one minute, then add salt and spices (except cilantro, you add that last) and saute a minute more. Add beer red wine and deglaze the pot. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, beans and water. Your tempeh should be done cooking so add that as well. Lower heat to medium, stir it up and cover for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 30 more minutes stirring occasionally. Add maple syrup, lemon juice and stir it up. Add cilantro. Serve.

I also made rice with this. Thank god because it’s so spicy, the rice helps to soak up the pain a little.

Recipe: Post Punk Kitchen