Spring Cleaning Day 1

Green Lemonade and Broccoli Soup

We started our day with drink number one: Green Lemonade. I modified the quantities somewhat as I don’t have a juice extractor, but rather a Vitamix blender. It was thicker and frothier and while my daughter found it too sour, we drank up and enjoyed.
Our lunch would be a little off: it was leftovers from the evening before. Sautéed vegetables in a coconut sauce, with noodles made from a Japanese root. It has some corn starch and the dish had organic GMO free tofu. Other than that, for better or worse we were off to a good start.

In the evening I came home and got the cleansing broth going while Walter ran to pick up a few missing ingredients. During that time I got to browse the on line version of the article. Online you can launch a little app called ziplist which allows you to create shopping lists with a couple of clicks for each recipe. In this tool I created lists for weeks one, two and three. I still think it would be better to include a weekly shopping list that gives you quantities for one, two, and four participants. And online there could even be a calculator where you plug in the number of people and the quantities adjusts accordingly.

Dinner for night one was a creamy broccoli soup with the broth as the base. As I just made the broth, I used the spinach from it for the soup. The recipe worked as expected and it was delicious.

Cheesecake?

Raw Cashew CheesecakeIt’s that time of year again. Shavuot.  A holiday that falls just seven weeks after Passover when the Jews are given the Torah.    The Torah is compared to a “life of milk and honey”.  That is why for this holiday it is all about dairy which means cheese cake.

Sounds wonderful. Who wouldn’t love cheesecake? But what about for those of us who can’t or choose not to have dairy?  In comes the wonderful cashew.   From a hard cheese platter or lasagna enjoyed at Pure Food and Wine, to pesto, spreads and desserts the cashew is an integral ingredient to replace cheese.   This nut  is delicious and  fabulous for you too!  All nuts are beneficial  for you. They are a source for protein, fiber and minerals like potassium and calcium.  And yes, cashews are high in fat which our bodies need – just not too much.  You can read more about them at at one of my favorite resources: Worlds Healthiest Foods.

So why am I so stuck on cashews?  Because they make a delicious ‘cheese cake’.  Replace the typical graham cracker crust with almonds, and sweeten with maple syrup and you have a delicious vegan, gluten free option.

The version I make is raw and extremely easy to make.  You blend the almonds with dates to make the crust.  Then blend the cashews with coconut oil and dates.  For variety I blended in mango and then lightly mixed in blueberries.

So now even the dairy free can enjoy this holiday.

Where’s the Beef? A New Taste for Stroganoff.

For some reason when my mother was describing a dinner she attend where she was served Beef Bourguignon it made me think of Stroganoff.  Not just any, but mom’s in particular.  She made this dish for us as kids and it always felt fancy and tasted great.  I hadn’t thought about this dish until this point but I remembered how much I enjoyed it. Not the beef per se, but the flavor of the wine and mustard. The creaminess of the sauce.  What’s a girl to do who doesn’t eat meat, wheat or dairy?!

Mom’s response? Make it vegan. Make it gluten free. You can do it. You will just have to find replacements for the beef, the cream…

I headed for my computer and looked online. The recipes all shared paprika, mustard, and soy sauce. Some had broth, others wine.  All had flour. All had soy.  So, with a little imagination I had to come up with something different. Cashew Cream, shitake mushrooms and a gluten free pasta – my favorite brand is Ancient Harvest.  And I chose the wine, a nice dry white, over the broth.

The result fulfilled my childhood memory, left me sated and my family thoroughly enjoyed a new entry to our meal menu.

What’s for Breakfast? Did You Say Soup?

Vegetable Miso Soup

Thinly sliced swiss chard, just a leaf or two, carrot slivers, shitake mushrooms, finely cut scallions, and small cubes of firm tofu simmered in water.  Then, a couple of teaspoons of miso paste stirred in.  Breakfast?  It was for me and my daughter this morning.

I remember being a little girl at a friend’s house and just wanting tomato soup for breakfast.  My hosts thought it was an odd choice but it hit the spot.  While we are accustomed to particular breakfast foods like eggs and bagels, do you ever get a craving for soup in the morning?  Especially on a cold morning this is a terrific way to start your day.   Miso soup can be put together in 10-15 minutes.  Just pull a few veggies out of the fridge, thinly slice and let simmer for a few minutes. It’s filled with healthy ingredients so why not listen to this craving? Fill up and warm up all at once.

Thanksgiving: Let’s Talk Turkey

Veritable Thanksgiving Feast

People always ask me “What do you eat if you don’t eat turkey?”  I have gone many times with an abundance of delicious vegan side dishes that to me make up a fine meal. This year I – by my son’s inspiration – included fish to the menu.  The fixings I created can be enjoyed well beyond Thanksgiving: Chipotle Quinoa Salad, Arugula Salad with Apples and Walnuts, Broiled Salmon marinated in ginger pomegranate juice, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Cornbread with a side of cranberry sauce.  Everything I made was gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and delicious; including the chocolate brownie topped with fresh fruit.

The real topper was the next day my daughter and I headed off to the Woodstock Farm Animal SanctuaryWoodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.  We spent the rest of the weekend taking care of these wonderful animals which was the best treat of all. So not only were our palettes satisfied over this holiday; our hearts were too.

Pass the Cheese Please: Cashew Cheese

Cashew Cheese SpreadThe other day I bought these great Provencal olives that were pitted and sliced: ready to use in a recipe.  It brought me back to the days when I ate dairy and really enjoyed cream cheese with olives. I haven’t had dairy in close to 20 years yet I still miss cheese at times.  I know there are soy brands like Tofutti cream cheese, but I need to avoid sugar and soy so this isn’t the option for me.

I use cashews a lot as a cheese substitute when I make pesto and also to thicken up and richen soups.  And I know it is a common cheese replacement for many raw recipes. Raw cashews just have a cheese type flavor.  So I thought, let me see what recipes there are for me to try and make my own cheese at home.

I did a little search and found a great simple recipe on one of my favorite food blog sites, Chocolate&Zucchini.  I didn’t do everything exactly to spec.  I soaked the nuts for 8 hours (overnight is optimal) to release any toxins and all the great nutrients locked inside.  Instead of measuring the lemon juice I just squeezed the juice of one and a half lemons into the mix.  But everything else I followed as proscribed.

Once the cheese was ready I spread it on some toast, topped with sliced olives, and took a bite.  It was not a replica but it gave me the savory essence to a snack I always enjoyed.  The next time I made this cheese I mixed in sun dried tomatoes adding another delicious option to my ‘cheese’ cupboard. Cashews are a great base for creating vegan cheese.