Thursday, April 17, 2014

Baked Mac-N-Cashew Cheese

Often non-vegans say something to me like: You made a choice to go vegan, why are you trying to make vegan foods that are like non-vegan foods (like cheese, burgers, etc.)? My reply is always that I did not lose my taste for foods like mac-n-cheese, I lost my taste for cruelty. I love recreating the flavors and textures I grew up with, and I've adopted a lot of new flavors and textures too. Being vegan isn't about deprivation, feeling like you have to give up a pleasure. Instead, it's about re-inventing how you experience a flavor or texture, so that the delight of your palate doesn't take away the life or freedom of another living creature.

I recently ventured into the world of making vegan cheeses, and I must say, my first attempts turned out great! I've explored recipes from several sources, and now I am ready to start exploring a little on my own. I took some of what I had learned about vegan cheese flavor and textures, and put it to the test making a baked macaroni and cheese dish. Much to my delight, it turned out deliciously!

Feel free to take your own experimental journey with this recipe. I have made several versions (ok, about a dozen or so!), all yummy in their own way, and this is the one I landed on as my favorite for texture, flavor, and satisfaction all around.

My partner, John, and I are doing lots more experiments with vegan macaroni and cheese, and we will share them with you in future posts! He made one a few days ago that was so velvety and creamy that I practically licked the plate clean (imagine a vegan and far healthier and tastier version of "Velveeta").


1 cup raw cashews or 1/2 cup cashew butter
1 1/4 cups water

3 oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained (optional)
1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 can full fat coconut milk (canned, not the stuff in the carton or low fat)

8 ounces quinoa macaroni or spiral noodles, uncooked

For extra YUM factor, feel free to add any other veggies like kale or spinach (wilt first), peas, onions, or sautéed mushrooms just before baking.


In a food processor, process raw cashews until it forms into nut butter texture (skip this step if using pre-made cashew butter, just place the butter in your food processor). Add water and process until cashew butter is dissolved in the water and it VERY smooth (you may need to scrape the processor bowl a few times). Add the next 10 ingredients and process until the tomatoes are fully incorporated. Add the coconut milk and process another minute or so to combine.

Poor the cashew cheese mixture over uncooked noodles placed in a 11x7 casserole dish. Bake at 450˚ F for 20-25 minutes or until noodles are al dente (liquid will completely absorb into the noodles and leave behind a cheesy, baked macaroni texture).

This dish is very flavorful and quite rich! Delicious served with freshly ground black peppercorns on top. Serves 2 for a full meal, serves 4 as a side dish.

*gluten-free and soy free

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmmmmmmmmm! When I first went gluten-free, I thought the world of warm, moist baked goods had vanished forever. It took me about a year to start experimenting with gluten-free baking, and much to my surprise, just like being vegan, it wasn't so bad. In fact, it was surprisingly yummy! The following recipe is adapted from a few other recipes I found when trying find a chocolate chip cookie that I could love. I often hear people exclaim that they would "never have thought they were gluten-free!"

Oven preheat: 350˚ F

Whisk together wet ingredients:

3/4 cup vegan butter, melted
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 flax and chia blended "eggs"*
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Whisk together dry ingredients and fold into wet mixture:

1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups oat flour
2 cups almond flour

Once dry and wet ingredients are well blended, fold in:

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (more if you like a very sweet, chocolatey cookie)

*To make one Flax and Chia blended "Egg" for binding (you will need to double this for the recipe above):
Combine 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds + 1/4 tsp ground chia seeds + 3 Tbsp warm water, process in food processor for about 1 minute or until it reaches an egg-like consistency. You could skip the chia if you like, and just use flax, but I find the combo works better for this cookie.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a non-stick baking sheet (or line with baking parchment) and bake at 350˚ F for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are just beginning to brown. The flax and chia "egg" is a great binder, but with gluten-free goods, you may need to wait a few minutes before removing them from the pan to a cooling rack to avoid unnecessary crumbling.

Enjoy with a tall, cold class of rice milk…oh, yeah!!!

*gluten-free and soy-free

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fudge Brownie Torte

Oh. My. Goodness.

Yep, I did it. Not only is this DELICIOUS, but also vegan and gluten free. You may just want to make 2 while you're at it.


You will need at 10" springform pan or tart pan. Place your pan in the freezer to chill at least 10 minutes prior to prepping it by lightly coating with chilled vegan butter and dusting with rice flour.

Brownie Layer

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Combine wet ingredients:

1/2 cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance), melted
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 flax "eggs"*
1 tsp vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl:

1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup garbanzo flour, sifted
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Combine wet and dry mixtures and whisk well until all dry ingredients are moistened. Spread brownie mixture into prepared pan (see above) and bake for 20 minutes, or until brownie layer begins to pull away from the edges of the pan. Do not remove from the pan, cool completely.

*To make a Flax "Egg" for binding:
Combine 1 Tbsp ground flax + 3 Tbsp warm water, process in food processor for about 1 minute or until it reaches an egg-like consistency

Fudge Layer

4 avocados, pitted and flesh scooped out
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 cup coconut sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp vanilla

Place all 5 ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Layer the avocado mixture on top of the cooled brownie layer. Scroll down for final instructions...

Cover and place the torte in the freezer for at least 1 hour before serving, removing springform or outer ring of tart pan and thawing about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Store leftovers (as if!) covered in the freezer.


*gluten-free and soy-free

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Roasted Fennel Cranberry Pear Salad

Utterly fantastic...just wait until you chomp down on this combination of flavors! Yum.

Prep the salad:

2 bulbs roasted fennel, diced
2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed, cooked and chilled
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 red pears, unpeeled and diced
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1/4 cup stemmed, chopped fresh dill

Toss above ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Now prepare the dressing:

Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
4 Tbsp olive oil
6 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground peppercorns

Add dressing to quinoa mixture, lightly stirring to coat. Ready to serve or refrigerate.

Recipe notes: This salad tastes even better on day 2, and keeps for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. A perfect addition to Winter holiday meals.

*gluten-free and soy-free

Roasted Fennel

I could just eat roasted fennel as a stand alone side dish, but it's also really delicious in my Fennel Cranberry Pear Quinoa Salad. This roasting formula works for most root and bulb veggies, so experiment and use creatively.

2 bulbs organic fennel, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

Toss fennel in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Roast at 400° F for about 40 minutes or until mostly tender (fennel remains slightly firm when roasted).

*gluten-free, soy-free

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lobia (Black-eye Pea) Masala

There are a couple of vegetables that I will usually not eat...unless prepared in an Indian recipe! Green beans is one. Black-eyed peas is another. This recipe for lobia or black-eyed peas brings a whole new perspective to this strong flavored bean. Prepare to have your taste buds dancing with delight!


You will need a food processor for this dish.


coconut oil
3 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger, peeled
1 medium onion, peeled
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (NOT powder, available at Indian grocers, labeled methi)
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 pint cherry tomatoes (or 2 medium tomatoes)
5 cups cooked black-eyed peas (lobia) WITH liquids
1 Tbsp Garam Masala (spice mixture, available at Indian groceries or make your own for better flavor)
1 tsp sea salt or to taste (salt is a key ingredient in Indian cuisine and required to bring the flavors together)

Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil over medium heat in a medium stock pot. In a food processor, pulse garlic and ginger until diced small. Add onion to the food processor and pulse until diced medium-small...careful not to puree the onion. Add the onion, ginger and garlic mixture to the heated coconut oil in your stockpot, and saute for 3-5 minutes, until onions are translucent. 

While the onion mixture is cooking, process the tomatoes in the food processor, pulsing until they reach a medium dice, careful not to puree them. Set aside.

Add the turmeric, fenugreek leaves, and red pepper flakes to the onion mixture and stir in, saute for another 1-2 minutes.  

Add the processed tomatoes to the onion mixture, stir in and simmer another 3-4 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to release the oil (they will look shiny).

Add the black-eyed peas along with their liquid, and stir well. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Remove the heat, stir in the garam masala and salt to taste.

Serve with freshly cooked Indian long-grain rice (ask your local Indian grocer, the rice makes ALL the difference).

*gluten-free and soy-free.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Garden Ranch Cream Cheese Pizza

With the warmer weather of Summer, I like to eat as much of the produce from the garden in the RAW as possible. But, I also love pizza. Now, I can have both! I am still celebrating the invention of this incredible gluten-free pizza crust, and am finding it to be very versatile. It holds up great in this recipe, and doesn't get soggy when refrigerated. This is a great way to get folks to enjoy their veggies without complaint!

Start by making my Gluten Free Vegan Pizza Crust recipe. Follow the direction all the way through the pre-baking...but bake it all the way, about 20 minutes in a 450 degree F oven. Then, pop the crust off the non-stick pan and onto a cooling rack and COOL COMPLETELY. If you don't have a non-stick pan, line the pan with baking parchment before pressing crust into pan for easy removal after baking.

While you are waiting, make the sauce and prep your toppings!

Ranch Cream Cheese Spread
Combine and refrigerate for about 30 minutes:

1 recipe Cashew Cream Cheese (or purchase about 12 oz pre-made at your local grocer, but these tend to be overly processed and quite unhealthy)
1 Tbsp dried chives
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 1 fresh garlic clove, minced)
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt or to taste

*hint...if you are a cream cheese lover, you may want to double the spread recipe, use it all on the pizza or use the leftovers as a spread or dip.

Prep Veggie Toppings
Be creative here and use anything you like! Here is what I have experimented with...

Bell pepper
Carrots (spiral sliced is nice)
Cherry tomatoes
Crushed red pepper

Assemble the Pizza
Slather the cream cheese spread on your cooled pizza crust, add toppings, and presto, you are done! 

Slice and enjoy. Refrigerates very well and is great for breakfast.

*gluten-free, soy-free depending on your choice of cream cheese

Cashew Cream Cheese

This delicious, creamy spread can be use creatively, in spreads, dips, and any recipe that calls for cream cheese. If you are planning to make a savory style cream cheese flavor, use the recipe as is. If you are planning to make a sweet style cream cheese flavor, you may need to omit the lemon and/or vinegar depending on your ingredients. For example, chocolate doesn't blend with lemon well.

Soak overnight:
2 cups raw organic cashews
4 cups water

Drain cashews and place in a food processor, add:

Juice from 1 organic lemon
1 Tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
water to create desired thickness (up to 1/2 cup seems to be a good range)
sea salt to taste (about 1/4-1/2 tsp)

Process until smooth, about 10 minutes. Refrigerate to thicken a bit more. You can also process for less time, so it is a bit more 'lumpy' and use to replace cottage cheese and ricotta in many recipes.

*gluten-free and soy-free

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Quinoa Fiesta Salad

THIS SALAD IS THE BEST!!!! Sorry for shouting, but this salad really gets me going. The flavor is outrageous, it is filling, and perfect for the hot Summer days we have been experiencing. This recipe started from another poster online, and we kept tweaking it to get just the right punch of flavors, colors,  textures and servings (because it disappears FAST). BAM!!! Enough chatter, here it is...

Remember, your health and the health of our planet depends on your choosing ORGANIC, NON-GMO produce!

Step 1: Cook the Quinoa
This is something I typically do the day ahead, so the quinoa can sit and chill in the fridge seems to have a better texture that way.

2 cups uncooked organic quinoa, rinsed
4 cups water

Place rinsed quinoa and water in your rice cooker (at least a 6 cup capacity cooker) and turn it on to cook. No rice cooker? Place the quinoa and water in a medium sauce pot on the stovetop over a medium high heat; bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a very low simmer. Cook on this very low heat for 10-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Step 2: Prep the Veggies
Prep and set aside...

10 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small Thai chili pepper OR 1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced small
zest of 2 limes (save the rest of the limes for dressing recipe)
2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 sweet bell pepper (orange is nice for COLOR), diced small
3 cups cooked black beans
1.5 pints cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 or 2 firm-ripe avocados, pitted and diced

Step 3: Make the Dressing
Combine the following ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to blend:

1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 4 limes
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 tsp ground cumin

Step 4: Put it Together!
Combine chilled quinoa, prepped veggies and dressing in a large mixing bowl and toss gently with a large spoon or spatula. Ready to serve, or chill in the refrigerator.

HINT: You can play with the veggie combination and even try adding small amounts of fruit, like mango or peaches. Delicious!

*gluten-free and soy-free