Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Creamy Dill Dip

Simple. Creamy. Delicious. Need I say more? 


1 cup vegan mayonnaise (I use Vegenaise)
1 cup vegan sour cream or plain vegan yogurt (I use Wayfare brand sour cream)
2 tsp dried dill weed
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)


Combine all ingredients and mix well. Chill at least 20 minutes before serving for flavor to meld.

*gluten free, can be soy free if choosing a soy free mayo and sour cream

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Chick'pea & Grape Salad

I have always been a big fan of Summer salads! You know, all those delicious favorites that show up at potluck gatherings. *drool*

I was thinking of titling this recipe "Chickens run wild and free salad." Since stepping on to the path of a compassionate lifestyle, I have been reworking my favorite dishes from earlier in life. This recipe is the IDEAL salad to get cruelty off the Summer salad menu, as it is packed with flavor and can easily make it's way onto the non-vegan's plate. Every year, 50 BILLION chickens are slaughtered worldwide. We, the consumers, are the only ones who can drastically reduce (and perhaps someday, eliminate) this astounding statistic.

If you are or were a fan of chicken or tuna salad, this tasty replacement is a great place to start. I have been totally vegan for just over 3 years now, and can I say…this tastes so much like chicken salad to me that I had trouble eating it at first! :)

So go ahead, give it a whirl. You will love the taste of cruelty free.


1 (24 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup small diced onion
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 cup grapes, sliced into quarters
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I use Vegenaise)
1/4 cup vegan sour cream OR plain vegan yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice

dash of paprika
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
sea salt to taste


In a food processor, pulse chickpeas 5-8 times, until they appear coarsely chopped (be careful not to turn them into a paste or hummus-like texture).

Place pulsed chickpeas in a mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients and stir gently to blend. Adjust salt to taste and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Serving Suggestions

√ serve on your favorite bread or wrapped in a tortilla with a crisp of lettuce
√ serve over a bed of kale, lettuce, spinach, or mixed greens
√ serve a scoop as a 'side' dish on a crisp of lettuce

*gluten-free, can be soy-free if choosing a soy-free vegan mayo and sour cream (like Wayfare brand) or yogurt

Friday, June 13, 2014

Garlic Chive Almond "Feta" Cheese

Oh my goodness. I am in LUV with nut cheese.

Yep, that's right. You can make cheese with almonds, cashews, macadamia and more!

Making nut cheese can be really easy depending on your approach. Although there ARE more complex ways to create nut cheeses with different flavors and textures depending on the intended use, this is a very simple way to get started.

Warning…this is delicious. Prepare to have it fly off the party cheese platter, it's delightful for non-vegan pallets as well!!! Just make sure you notify those you share it with that this cheese is made of nuts, as some people have (sometimes severe) nut allergies.

Do allow at least 24 hours to make this cheese (although I have been known to eat it straight from the blender).


2 cups whole raw almonds, soaked overnight and skins removed (optional, see notes)
2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup purified water
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves fresh garlic)
1 Tbsp dried chives
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 tsp sea salt (depending on your taste)


In a food processor or high powered blender, pulse the almonds until they are coarsely ground. Add the remaining 6 ingredients and process until as smooth as possible (up to 10 minutes depending on your processing method).

Place the almond mixture in 3-ply cheese cloth and hang over a bowl (see photos above) for 12 hours or overnight at room temperature (you can also put it in the refrigerator, I just prefer the flavor better when it cultures at room temp). As the cheese hangs, the excess moisture will drip into the bowl, just discard this liquid.

Unwrap the almond mixture, form into 3 or 4 small "disks"  and place in a lightly oiled (I used coconut oil) oven-safe dish or pan, and bake at 350˚ F for 40 minutes or until very lightly golden in color (my oven is temperamental, so the ones pictured here are very golden…still delicious). Cool (or eat warm!) and serve as a spread cheese or crumble into any dish that calls for a "feta" style cheese.

Recipe Notes: 

About the Flavor
The good news is the flavor of this cheese is delicious immediately after mixing it together. The even better new is that the flavor improves after the initial 12 hours in the cheesecloth at room temp, again right after baking, and even more when it rests overnight in the refrigerator after baking. I enjoyed the flavor at 48 hours immensely. 

About the Texture
This cheese will be a wonderful texture for cheese spread or a thick dip immediately after mixing. After baking and a few hours of refrigeration, it slices easily for crackers or hors d'oeuvres. If you let it rest in the refrigerator overnight after baking, it takes on more of a "feta" style texture and can be crumbled. So far it hasn't survived more than 48 hours in my house…so maybe I will hide some in the fridge for texting to see what happens over the course of a few more days. You can also experiment with baking time if you want a drier, more crumbly cheese.

About Soaking and De-skinning the Almonds
The first time I made this cheese, I did not soak the almonds or remove the skins. It was delicious. If you are not going to soak the almonds, increase to water to up to 1/2 cup to provide enough moisture for processing the almonds to a smooth consistency. For ease of removing skins, bring a small pot of purified water to an almost boil, remove from heat and add almonds, soaking them in the hot water for a couple of minutes; strain the almonds and pop off the skins.

Raw Almond Cheese Option
Baking the cheese is optional, you can skip the de-skinning step to keep the almonds raw and serve as a raw nut cheese spread. I haven't tried it in the dehydrator yet, but I'm sure that would work nicely as well to dry it to a feta consistency.

Flavor Variations
Feel free to experiment with flavor variations. Try replacing the peppercorns with 1 Tbsp dried chives or any other flavor combinations you can imagine!

*gluten-free and soy-free

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.