Virtual Vegan Potluck #3

I can’t believe it’s that time again…Virtual Vegan Potluck #3 is here!

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For the past two VVP’s, I’ve made desserts. (Click here and here to review my previous VVP posts.)  Surprised, aren’t you? Ha ha ha.  But, this time around, I’m shaking it up a bit, and I’m sharing a main course dish! Woohoo!

Ok, so here’s the deal. I’ve been eating a high-raw vegan diet off and on since last May. And I love it. It makes me feel my best. My heart doesn’t skip as much. My weight stays pretty stable. My energy levels are higher. I sleep better, and the list goes on. But, there are some popular foods in the raw-vegan circles that I’ve yet to embrace. Raw “noodles” is one of them. But, not one to be easily defeated, I keep trying. And this time, I think I got it! I’ve conquered my dislike of the raw noodle! Yes! Bring on the summer cucumbers and zucchinis!

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I’ve shared a recipe or two in the past that has featured raw zucchini noodles, and I’ve eaten and not disliked them, but I’ve never relished in their flavor. But, during my nightly watching of food related YouTube videos (I ❤ YouTube!), I stumbled upon a suggestion to peel the zucchini before using it. Hum…Why haven’t I tried that?! With this also came the revelation that I find the yellow summer squash milder in flavor than the green zucchini squash. A short trip to the store and a little digging for the spiralizer I bought last summer and promptly put in storage, and by golly, I think I got it!

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At the same time, I went ahead and spiralized a large, peeled cucumber, which I then squeezed in a kitchen towel to remove the excess water from the noodles. Success once again!

Both noodles went in the dehydrator for some warming while I made the sauces to cover each.

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First up, the sauce I used with the cucumbers. Sooooo gooood!

Raw Tomato-fredo Sauce (or Raw Tomato-fredo Hummus/Dip/Soup)

1/2 c cashews, soaked

1/2 c tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)

2 TBSP sun dried tomato powder (Read below to find out how to make your own!)

1/2 lg red bell pepper, diced

Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, granulated garlic, onion powder (all to taste)

First, make your sun dried tomato powder by grinding 1/4-1/2 cup frozen sun dried tomatoes in a small food processor or bullet style blender. After the tomatoes become a fine powder, add cashews, tomatoes, and red pepper to blender/food processor bowel and pulse to combine. Add seasonings and processes mixture until desired consistency is reached. (I left mine on the thick side, and it really stood up to the cucumber noodles.)  You might want to strain the resulting mix through a fine mesh strainer; this will enhance the flavor of your sauce and, of course, make it a little thicker 😉

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I loved this sauce on the cucumber noodles. I’m pretty sure I could spiralize three or four cucumbers and toss them with this sauce and call it a salad. I think some ripe olives and maybe some fresh herbs like parsley or a chiffonade of basil would be awesome adds to a cucumber and tomato-fredo noodle salad. Mmmm…

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I can also see myself using this sauce as a raw hummus type dip with raw veggies, spread on a lettuce leave for a raw sandwich or burrito, eaten with a spoon as a raw soup, and tossed with dehydrator warmed veggies for a primavera type dish.

For the second sauce, all I did was marinate some thinly sliced mushrooms in 2 TBSP of tahini and 1 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil. I stored the mix in a zip top bag so I could squish the mixture around a couple of times a day, making sure each ‘shroom was soaking in marinade. Then, I dumped the mushrooms and their marinate onto a plate and heated them in the dehydrator for a little while. Finally, I added the peeled, yellow summer squash noodles, mixed, and ate!

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As I was eating the mushrooms, I kept thinking how good it would be with a little tofu. So I added some 🙂

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Have you ever tried this tofu? I love it!

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All I did was slice the block into four slabs, then stacked the slabs and sliced them into long strips, then cut across the strips to create little blocks of tofu. I didn’t even have to press it! That’s why I love this stuff so much 🙂

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I gobbled up the rest of the noodles and shrooms after I added the tofu. Triple yum!

Thanks for stopping by!  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the VVP participants. Click here to start from the beginning, or click the photos below to work your way forward and/or backward through the VVP chain.

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Vanilla Cashew Butter Balls

Thanks to everyone who commented for a chance to win the free download for the Vegan Delish app! The winner was LV, who said…

I’m always on the lookout for inspiration in cooking! Sometimes I’m just not very creative.

Congrats! Be on the lookout for more give-a-ways! (There are at least two book reviews/give-a-ways coming, and maybe more!)

Today, I’m sharing another recipe to help use up the never ending supply of almond pulp you probably have hogging valuable space in your freezer. No? Well, I do! I need to dehydrate some SOOOOO bad! That’s a weekend plan 😉 And, bonus, it uses my favorite nut butter…cashew!

Vanilla Cashew Butter Balls

1/4-1/2 c cashew butter, softened

2 TBSP date paste

1/4 c almond meal/flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla powder (optional)

Stevia or other additional sweetener (optional)

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until combined. Scoop into balls and sprinkle with vanilla powder. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Notes:

Cashew Butter: If you’re cashew butter is stiff and/or dry, heat it up. It heats up beautifully and will be nice and creamy again in no time. [Of course, if you can’t eat cashews, don’t have/like cashew butter, use something else :-)]

Vanilla powder: What’s vanilla powder? It’s just just ground vanilla bean and/or pod. It’s a lot stronger than extract, so be cautious before you dump it into something if you’re new to the product.

Optional Sweetener: I gave my mix a little squirt of liquid stevia, but it didn’t make much difference in the sweetness. You might want to try some maple syrup (You may need to increase you almond meal due to the extra liquid.) or some coconut sugar (You might have to loosen the mixture with a tiny splash of non-dairy milk or water to counteract the extra dry ingredient.) I can see these rolled in sugar, too. Yum!

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Sharing is caring…Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Raw Food Thursdays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Gluten Free Fridays, Wellness Weekends

 

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

I’ve been wanting to make a raw pumpkin cheesecake forever. Well, for the last couple of years, anyway 😉 So, I finally did it.

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust

1/2 c almonds, soaked

8 jumbo dates (or about 10 regular size)

Filling

1/2 c cashews, soaked

2/3 – 3/4 c pumpkin puree (puree raw pumpkin to keep it raw or use cooked puree if you don’t care)

1 TBSP maple syrup (or another liquid sweetener to keep it raw)

1 TBSP chia seeds (grind into meal first if you don’t like the mouth feel of chia seeds)

1 tsp vanilla

First, make the crust by processing the almonds and the dates together until they begin to form a giant, sticky ball. If your food processor isn’t very powerful or is on the small end, process the almonds first, or use almond meal. Press the mixture into a glass container.

Next, make the filling by combing all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Alternately, make cashew cream by blending the soaked, rinsed cashews, liquid sweetener, and vanilla until smooth then fold in the pumpkin and chia seeds. Add the cheese cake mixture to the top of the almond crust and refrigerate until firm.

Note: Don’t store this in the freezer unless you aren’t going to eat it for a while (as in days or maybe a week or more) because the water content of the pumpkin makes it rock hard in the freezer. The fridge will keep your cheese cake nice and fresh – but it won’t last long enough to worry about 😉

If you have extra pumpkin left, you can use it to make pumpkin pudding by just making the filling and eating it without letting it firm up in the fridge, or you can try making pumpkin parfait by alternately laying the crust mix with the filling mix. Then there’s pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin balls, pumpkin bites, pumpkin custard, pumpkin smoothies…I could go pumpkin crazy!

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Allergy Free Wednesdays

Raw Food Thursdays

Healthy Vegan Fridays

Wellness Weekends

Potluck Party

Weight Gainer Smoothies

The past two weeks, I’ve made two new weight gainer smoothies for my friend Wendy. The concentrated nutrition is working – at least a little bit. I don’t think she’s gained any weight, but she did impress her surgeons with her speedy heeling. Woohoo! I’ll take that as a victory 🙂

Peach Pie Smoothie

2 cups cashew milk (I didn’t strain)

1/2 c cashews

1/4 c coconut oil

1 TBSP vanilla

1/2 c oats, soaked in nut milk

1/4 c maple syrup (more or less to taste)

1 TBSP chia seeds

1 heaping scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Sun Warrior brand)

2 c chopped peaches (about 5-6 whole peaches)

Combine everything in a high-speed blender, and blend until smooth. (Tip: Blend the cashews first, then add the oats unless you don’t mind chewing your smoothies.)

I don’t have any photos of that one. I forgot to take any at home, and it disappeared at work before I could snap a few.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

3/4 c pumpkin puree (I used canned)

1/2 c oats, soaked

2 c almond milk (I didn’t strain)

1 TBSP vanilla

2 TBSP cinnamon

1/4 c maple syrup (more or less to taste)

1/2 c cashews

1/4 c coconut oil

1 t ginger

1 t nutmeg

1/2 t clove

Pinch salt

Combine everything in a high speed blender, and blend like crazy.

This tastes just like the perfect bite of pumpkin pie. Yum!

Carmel Apple Cheese Cake Smoothie

My friend Wendy needs to gain weight. Don’t hate. The dietician gave her a stern talking to before she left the hospital after a recent back surgery. She tried to convince herself everyone gets that talk, but after a reality check, she conceded to trying to suck down more calories. Again, don’t hate.

The good thing about Wendy is that she’ll eat anything – as long as someone else makes it for her. She says she’s all cooked out after three kids. OK, I’ll give her a little credit for that. One of the three is practically a giant; he definitely got enough to eat!

Doing my part to add calories, I made a giant smoothie today and took it to work for Wendy. It was delicious! And at about 2000 calories for a half gallon, it should help put on a pound or two!

Carmel Apple Cheese Cake Smoothie

2 c almond milk

1 T vanilla

1/2 c cashews

1/4 c maple syrup

1/4 c coconut oil

1 heaping TBSP chia seeds

1 heaping scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Sun Warrior)

6-10 dates, pitted

4 lg apples, cored

Lots of ice!

Blend everything in a high powered blender until smooth and creamy. Drink with a giant straw. Mmmm…!

Tips: I blended the cashews with the almond milk, vanilla and maple syrup first, then added the dates and blended a bit. Then I added the rest of the ingredients. Everything blended very nicely.

The flavor of the smoothie is creamy and apple-y and carmel-y. Soooo good!

I suggested Wendy suck this down throughout the day AND eat her regular food, but if you’re calorie conscious, you might want to stick to a cup for so instead of a normal quart sized meal replacement. (I can’t be the only person who drinks a quart of smoothie at a time!)

Sorry for the bad and limited photo. I was in a hurry this morning, and we couldn’t find any cups at work, so the jar served as storage and serving device.

Fancy Fun with Hazelnuts

I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’m not a big fan of the hazelnut. (Add that to my growing list…). I try to like them. Really. I do! But they always kind of taste rancid. And no, they weren’t. (I had Mr M taste one just to be sure.) But, in my vein effort to convince my taste buds that hazelnuts are, indeed, the fancy culinary delight I keep reading so much about, I made a couple of recipes out of the bag that has been inhabiting my freezer for a few weeks. (There’s another bag in the pantry. Any takers?)

To begin, I soaked 1 c of the hazelnuts overnight in enough water to cover them. I like to store mine in the fridge in a covered container, but I’ve read that’s not necessary – soaking on a counter is fine.

First up, my very first attempt at making nut milk.

Spiced Hazelnut Milk

1/2 c soaked hazelnuts

2 c water

1T vanilla

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Clove – to taste

Blend everything together in a high speed blender. (I used my Vitamix). Strain through a nut-milk bag for silky smooth milk, or don’t strain if you don’t mind the floating nut-pulp. (I didn’t strain because I knew I was going to use the milk in recipes as opposed to drinking).

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Use within three days – give or take. (Most info I’ve found on the web says to use within three days.)

Optional Add: sweetener of choice

The hazelnut milk wasn’t too bad. The water diluted the nut flavor, and the spices really kicked it up. If you’re going to drink it alone or add it to something like cereal or oatmeal, I’d add some sweetener.

Next, I used the reaming soaked nuts to make a fancy pants dessert.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Vanilla Hazelnut Cashew Cream

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart Crust

1/2 c hazelnuts (soaked)

1 T maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener/stevia of your choice)

2 T raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa powder, carob powder, or a mi)

Combine everything in a food processor (I used my mini chopper) and blend until comes together in a ball. Remove dough and press into two mini tart pans. If your crust is too dry, add a tiny dribble of hazelnut milk at a time until it stick together.

Store in the fridge or freezer while making filling.

Vanilla Hazelnut Cashew Cream

1/2 c cashews (soaked)

1 T hazelnut milk (or regular nut/seed milk)

1 T vanilla

1 T maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener/stevia of your choice)

Add everything to a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

I used my Magic Bullet.

You want the cream to be thick – like pudding. (I had to force myself not to eat all of the filling before it went into the tart shells. I love this stuff!)

Add the cream to the tart shells and refrigerate or freeze until ready to eat.

Optional Adds: Make your tarts super fancy by adding some raw cacao nibs and/or crushed hazelnuts as a topper before serving.

I used my left-over hazelnut milk to make a  smoothie. Everything tastes good blended with some fruit!

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I’m sharing this recipe…

Wellness Weekends @ Diet Dessert and Dogs

Allergy Free Fridays @ Cybele Pascal (not vegan)

Fresh Bites Friday @ Real Food Whole Health (not vegan)

Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade (not vegan)

Foodie Friday @ Simple Living w/ Diane Balch (not vegan)

Foodie Friday: Summer Lunch @ Rattlebridge Farms (not vegan)

Friday Favorite Finds @ The Atwoods (not vegan)

Delicious Dishes @ It’s a Blog Party (not vegan)

Almost Raw Black & Tan Cupcakes

Sorry. These are alcohol free. Guinness isn’t vegan anyway 😉

In an attempt to make more gluten-free desserts, I’ve making more raw treats. Well, almost raw. I’m allergic to agave, so my liquid sweetener of choice is maple syrup. (I just bought two pints at Sam’s yesterday.) And, I don’t have any raw cocoa powder for my chocolate treats, so that’s not raw either. See…almost raw desserts!

This is what I came up with last weekend.

Black & Tan Cupcake

I thought I was going to make a blondie inspired by Amber’s 5 Minute, Single-Serve Raw Vegan Blondie. But after I made it, I wanted chocolate. So much for the blondie. Chocolate sprinkles didn’t quite work (they wouldn’t stick), so I opted for chocolate frosting. I’m so glad I opted for chocolate frosting.

Almost Raw Black & Tan Cupcakes

Cupcakes

1/2 c raw pecans

1/4 c raw almonds

1/2 c dates

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp (or less) salt

Blend ingredients in a food processor or blender. (You may need to blend nuts and dates separately.) Mixture will be course but should stay together when pressed. Press mixture into 4 regular cupcake molds (or 8 small molds or 2 large molds).

Chocolate Frosting

1/4 c cashews

1/4 c non-dairy milk

1/4 c cocoa powder

2 TBSP maple syrup

dash salt

Combine everything in a food processor or blender until smooth. Spread evenly over cupcakes. Sprinkle with crushed chocolate pieces. (I finely chopped a couple of pieces of Endangered Spieces chocolate bar in my Magic Bullet.)

Remove cupcakes from metal mold or leave cupcakes in silicone molds and place  in a covered container and refrigerate or freeze until firm. Store in freezer for firmest texture. (Cupcakes thaw in a few minutes.)

Good Enough to Eat!

The next time I make these, I’ll make them in mini molds. Half of a regular sized cupcake was plenty, and a whole one almost gave me the sugar shakes, but mmm mmm mmm…worth every bite!

I’m submitting this recipe to Cara’s Valentine’s Day Bake Off at Fork and Beans, Ricki’s Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert and Dogs, Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at SSGF, and Cybele’s Allergy Friendly Fridays at Alergen-Free Cuisine.

An Almost Raw Dessert

To go with my raw kale salad, I also made an almost raw dessert. It was only almost raw because I don’t have any raw cocoa powder (yet!).

The original recipe for the Chocolate Cashew Tarts only made two tarts, but I thought that might be a little bit much for me (in calories and richness), so I made mine in mini muffin tins. I had to make a double batch of the chocolate cream (and there was  a little left, which I was ecstatic to eat directly from my finger the blender cup.

The flavor of these tarts is amazing. I can’t believe how decadent they are. Even with a pretty significant amount of maple syrup (I can’t use agave, so again, not raw with the maple syrup), the sweetness of this dessert doesn’t make me crave more sugar. I’ve been noticing lately (thank you, holiday baking season!) that processed sugar REALLY makes me crave more sugar. (That and processed, white flour.)

I didn’t run the numbers on these little babies, but I’m sure they don’t come at calorie bargain. They are really, really rich, though, so you definitely don’t need more than one!

The one thing I will do differently when I make these again (yes, I will be making these again!) is to use more raisins (or dates or prunes) in the “crust.” Mine was too crumbly and not nearly sticky enough. It barely stayed together on most of the tarts. I’m guessing the original recipe assumes you’ll eat the tarts with a fork, but I prefer my fingers 😉

I’m a Dip…Convert

I’m not much of a saucy person. I don’t like a lot of sauce with my pasta; I don’t like a lot of sauce on my pizza; I don’t like a lot of dressing on my salad;  and I’ve never been a fan of dips – except for guacamole, but how can you not succumb to its creamy, fatty, salty, tangy goodness?!

I don’t know where my dislike of sauciness came from. I always had the ability to control my sauce-to-food ratio as a child. My mom didn’t think ketchup was the key to good food. (We rarely had ketchup in the house, but there was always plenty of mustard. Good ol’ yellow mustard. Yum.) And, I wasn’t forced to consume salad with a bucket of ranch. (I never ate ranch dressing until I was an adult. Italian all the way, baby!)  Regardless of its origin, I came to veganism without a favorite dip or dressing, so I  had no desire to find suitable substitutes for my favs because I had no favs!  That all changed when I started making the dips and dressings from Appetite for Reduction (Moskowitz, 2011).

I’ve made just about every dip and/or dressing in this book, and I’ve really liked them all. I’ve fallen in love with the Caesar Chavez Dressing, which I use as a dip  (Alton Brown would be so mad!), and I’m a huge fan of the Sanctuary Dressing (which I’ve altered to be WAY more of a dip than a dressing). After months of dipping,  I’ve developed a couple of my own. Enjoy!

Pesto Dip

1 pg silken tofu (boil it to get rid of the beany taste)

1/4 – 1/3 c nutritional yeast

1 oz almonds

1 – 2 clove/s garlic

1 – 2 c fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

Boil and drain the tofu. Allow to cool. Once cool, add to food processor (or high-speed blender). Add nutritional yeast, almonds, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. Blend until desired consistency is achieved. Add non-dairy milk or vegetable broth if too thick.

Use as a dip for veggies, or thin with hot pasta water for a more traditional use.

Creamy Spinach Dip

Use the same recipe as the Pesto dip, but substitute spinach for basil and cashews for almonds.

Creamy Spinach Dip

Note: I thought the Creamy Spinach Dip could use a little tang, so I added some lemon juice, but I think a little apple cider vinegar would be a nice add or even some miso. That’s a definite must try next time!