Posts Tagged ‘fat-free vegan’
Trying New Things
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The Santa Monica Farmers Market is lousy with “broccoli sprouts” right now. It seems like every third booth has a huge cardboard box of these things. I had never tried them before, but they looked pretty healthy so I decided to go for it. A little internet research revealed that all of these people are liars. What they are selling is something called sprouting broccoli. It’s rich in vitamin C and harvested January-April. It is pretty similar to chinese broccoli, in the sense that the stems are pretty long. I picked some up for a dish, and I was pretty satisfied. The stems were a little tough towards the end, and next time I would probably trim off the bottom 2 inches from each piece. Otherwise, they were perfect with some spinach and basil gnocchi that’s been hanging out in my freezer for a few months. This is an oil-free recipe. Ever since my juice fast, I’ve been on a real healthy eating kick, so I should have some good recipes for you guys in the coming weeks and months. Check out this one after the jump.

We Jammin’
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My boyfriend has been practically begging me for weeks to make him a batch of homemade jam. He keeps dropping little hints, like putting post-its that read “fill me” on all of the jam jars in the refridgerator. The other day I was getting ready for work and say that he had hung a basket and a sunbonnet on the hook in my closet. He keeps sending me links to articles about canning and the benefits of making your own jam from scratch. He bookmarked the pick your own berry farm in my google maps. When I found the DVR full of Little House on the Prairie episodes, I decided it was time I did something about this behavior. Saturday just happenned to be a beautiful day, although it was sunnier than I expected and I ended up getting a little color. I drove all the way up to Moorpark, CA and the Underwood Family Farm. It was a quaint little farm with lots of picking options and a full-service farm stand. They had everything from sweet potatoes to string beans, and I am definately going back in October to pick my own pumpkin (meetup outing, anyone?).

The next time I go to a farm, I am bringing some children. There’s a reason why schools had summer vacation, and it’s that kids are really useful when it comes to harvesting crops. They are low to the ground and have little hands. I, on the other hand, ended up with a sore back and scratches all over. The strawberry field was amazing, and there were so many ripe, delicious strawberries that I had a hard time choosing. The raspberry field was a little picked over, but I was determined to get enough together for a jam, and I managed to get an entire pound of them. It just took an hour and a half. I also picke dup some boysenberries, but I don’t think they were quite ripe enough, as evidenced by the disastorous consistency of my boysenberry jam.

I managed to find a basic jam recipe that worked well for all three of my berries.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh berries
  • 2 c. of sugar

Use a potato masher to break the berries down into a pulp. Add sugar and stir well to combine. Pour into a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Over the course of about 10 minutes, stir the mixture frequently while it begins to boil. It will darken in color. The way to test the jam is by keeping a spoon in ice water and scooping up little bits of the jam. Blow on it to bring it to room temperature, and when it’s thick and gloopy, you have jam.

At this point, if you know what you are doing, you can pour it into sterilized jars. This is what I did, but I have no idea whether I did it right, so I can’t really dole out advice on that topic. For the record, I will be keeping my jam in the refridgerator and finishing it as quickly as possible.

Recipe Review: Banana Bread
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Unfortunately, there is no picture to document the absolutely delicious and fat-free banana bread that I put together. It is August in  Southern California, and that means it’s not a good idea to make banana bread, wrap it in plastic, and leave it on the counter overnight. It gets moisture-ridden, icky, and fruit flies move in. I had to toss what was left of the loaf and disinfect the entire kitchen.

I’m not terribly sure how a fruit fly invasion starts, but we had the beginning of one this week. I responded by getting rid of any fruit that had been sitting out. This was a shame because I usually rely on buying bananas when they are a little under-ripe and then letting them sit out on the counter. Until the weather cools down, I guess that I will have to be a little more careful about picking out riper fruits and leaving them in the fridge, which I am slowly learning is where food belongs in the summer.

Anyway, you can find the recipe that I used over at fat free vegan http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/06/blueberry-banana-bread.html. Sometimes her fat free recipes don’t really work out for me, but this one was pretty good. Originally, I planned on making the bread to share with some friends, but when it came out it just wasn’t up to par with something I would serve to a bunch of non-vegans. I’ve found that when feeding non-vegans, it has to be REALLY good, lest you risk tainting their opinions of all vegan food. However, for someone who is used to the texture and density of fat-free vegan baked goods, this recipe is amazing.

The Winningest Cupcake Recipe
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As of 1 minute ago, I am 25 years old.  I’ve always felt like something special was going to happen on my 25th birthday, that I would get some sort of air of legitimacy and suddenly be taken much more seriously. Now, I don’t think this is the case. However, I do think that I’ve grown a lot as a person in the past year. I’m not the same girl I was 365 days ago. Veganism has been good to my body (52 pounds as of this morning!), but it’s also been good for my soul. Tomorrow I am going to celebrate with a pre-dawn bike ride up to Will Rogers. A year ago, I could barely make it the mile and a half to work without getting completely winded. I’m going to come home to my apartment and make breakfast. A year ago, I would have had to come home to my then ex-boyfriend, who I was still living with despite being broken up for 9 months. Tomorrow I’ll bring fat-free vegan cupcakes in to work. Last year, I believe I ate an entire full-fat Red Velvet cake over the course of 4 days. Tomorrow night, I will gather with friends for a few drinks. Last year, I don’t even remember what I did because I didn’t feel like I had anything to celebrate. After work today, I drove down to Santa Monica. I walked a bit and then took out my yoga mat for a few vinyassas overlooking the sunset. I can honestly say that I felt alive. In spite of myself and all of the issues and stresses I’m still working through, I felt this wave of contentment wash over me and I realized that I have a good life. Yes, it has its ups and downs, and it had an arguably rough patch from adolescence through college, but I feel like I’ve maybe overcome all of that. Not mentally or emotionally, but at least on the surface. I have a good job, a great circle of friends, a home (albeit a small, rented one). I’ve built out a real support system for myself here in LA, and I’m proud of that.
Thanks to my uncle Jimmy for finding these baby pictures of me and sending them. Look at how young and terrified my parents look.

A funny story: I was working on the following cupcake recipe and added 4 tablespoons of baking soda instead of 4 teaspoons. For those of you who like to get mathy, that’s a 3x difference. In retrospect, I should have just started over, but instead I increased all other ingredients by 3x. The end result is over 4 dozen cupcakes and a cake. The recipe below is just for one, and I iced it with a simple cream cheese frosting.
Very Vegan Velvet Cake
taken from Spectacle

1 can of beets
unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. water
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. cocoa powder
2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Blend the beets and their water until smooth, measure it out, and add enough applesauce to make 2 cups of liquid. Combine in a bowl with the water, vanilla, and cider vinegar. Mix well.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients and slowly stir into the wet until just blended.
  3. Bake at 325 for 35-40 minutes for a cake, 20-25 for cupcakes. A toothpick in the center should come out clean.

Optional Peanut Butter Frosting
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla
handful of roasted peanuts

Beat together ingredients until well combined and sprinkle in peanuts. This is a great “middle frosting”.

Cupcake Wars
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Sometimes I like to have days where I put a few recipes in direct competition with one another. It’s really the only way to determine which particular recipe is the best. It’s difficult, for example, to remember whether the cupcakes I baked last time were better or worse. Also, trying several different recipes at once feels a little bit like science. I like science. If I were to put together a cooking show, it would vamp on this concept and be some sort of recipe showdown. It’s just like Iron Chef, except there is no secret ingredient, and the only person I am competing with is myself. OK, so maybe it’s nothing like Iron Chef. Maybe it’s more like “Nicole Likes to Screw Around in the Kitchen”. That doesn’t http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=5476272419264001711sound right either :) . I’m just going to call it Cupcake Wars and leave it at that.
Anyway, I’ve put together an expert panel of vegans, foodies, and friends who I subject to my culinary machinations. Two weeks ago their mission was simple: test and report back on three different cupcake recipes. There was one clear winner, a Red Velvet cupcake that I will be using for my birthday party this Thursday. It’s going to be at the Daily Pint on Pico in Santa Monica, right by the intersection of Pico and Cloverfield. The party starts at 7 pm, but possibly earlier. Feel free to stop by if you like, since I’m an internet celebrity now. Actually, I’m not an internet celebrity, and I don’t even have that good of a track record for friends showing up to my parties. So, if you are reading this blog and live in the greater Los Angeles area, you should probably make an attempt to drop by. Here are the two losing recipes, which were still very good cupcakes and excellent vegan cupcakes. The winner will follow in a post where I wax poetic on growing up and what it means to be 25, which I have always seen as the beginning of real adulthood.

Chocolate Applesauce Cupcakes
This recipe is kind of cool, because it is so easy to make and it’s fat free. Everybody loves a fat free cupcake. 

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce

Line a cupcake tin with wrappers and pre-heat the oven to 325.
Mix the pastry flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and cocoa powder until well blended. Add the sugar and then the applesauce. Beat the ingredients together until just combined and spoon into cupcake wrappers.
Bake at 324 for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Lemon Cupcakes
These cupcakes were ok, but I thought that they should have been better, considering that they use actual earth balance instead of just some fat replacers. They were pretty dense, and reminded me of muffins more so than cupcakes.

1/3 c. earth balance
1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 c. sugar
3 1/2 c. flour
3 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. soy milk
1/2 c. lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon
Mix the lemon juice and soy milk and set aside. Let it curdle while you do everything else.
Line a cupcake tin with wrappers and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Beat the applesauce and earth balance together until well combined and light in color. Mix in the sugar.
Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and soda, and salt. Mix in half the applesauce mixture, then half the milk mixture. Repeat until everything is combined.
Spoon into cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes at 350.

30 Days
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Today is March 18, 2010. Today I have been vegan for 30 days. It might not seem like a big milestone, but since last time I cracked after 28, it’s kind of a big deal for me. I feel amazing. I’ve especially been focusing on packing my diet full of vegetables, and I really feel like I’m doing it right. I take a daily multivitamin for my B-12, fill up on spinach and leafy green vegetables, and have, for the most part, been able to resist the call of vegan chocolate chip cookies.
My 25th birthday is coming up, and as an ex emo-kid, I like to get a little retrospective around this time of year. I have really had a trans-formative couple of months. I want to thank all of my friends for being so supportive and for all of their positive thoughts. I don’t think that I would have been able to get this far without their help. I’d also like to thank all of the vegans that I’ve met lately. They’re a great bunch of people and are always ready to offer recommendations for grocery stores, restaurants, recipes to try, etc. It’s a great community and one I am looking forward to being more a part of. You know, before I went vegan I thought that being vegan was about avoiding food and missing out. Now I realize that most vegans love to eat, we just choose to put the right things in our bodies.
I know that I originally went vegan for Lent, which is over in 10 more days, shortly after my birthday. However, I have no intention of going back. I have no desire for any of the meat or cheese that I used to enjoy. My energy is up despite a recent shoulder injury. I’m slowly but surely getting back into my workout routine, and I feel like my new nutrient-packed diet is going to be instrumental in getting into even better shape, inside and out. I would recommend that anyone who feels sluggish or depressed at least consider going vegan for a set period of time. To use a project management term, you should time-box it to start. That helps you dedicate yourself fully to the new routine, because you can always take comfort in the fact that you can go back when you are done. Sometimes it’s hard, especially in the beginning. However, your body will eventually let go of its unhealthy cravings and you will see a happier, healthier person in the mirror every morning.

Fat Free Carrot Cake!
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 Editor’s Note: we are up to 991 uniques as of 9 AM Tuesday morning. Please keep coming back and posting links on your facebooks, twitters, and the like. I started posting on February 6th, so this is a huge milestone for me. 

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I am suggesting that there is a way to have your cake and eat it too. Fat Free Vegan is one of my favorite resources to find new vegan recipes.When I needed a cake recipe a couple of weeks ago, it was my first stop. I found a carrot cake recipe that is absolutely out of this world. It doesn’t use any fat or butter, and incorporated unsweetened apple sauce and fresh grated carrots. It is the densest, richest, moistest cake that I’ve ever baked, and no one can believe that it’s vegan or fat free. It does use a bit of sugar, but I’m not really sure that you can ever have a completely healthy baked good. However, if any of my readers know anything about that, I would very much like to be clued in.
Now, the reason why I love carrot cake so much is because of the cream cheese icing. The original recipe recommends a lemon glaze, but that would be total bullshit. Everyone knows that the best part of carrot cake is that delectable cream cheese icing. I would eat bowls and bowls of it if I could. So I consulted several different frosting and vegan frosting recipes online, and finally settled on my own combination of soy cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla soy milk, and earth balance.
I’ve made this cake three times now. The first was for a birthday and was a huge success. The second time I tried to make cupcakes for work, but I got lazy and bought this weird, sticky vanilla frosting from Whole Foods. That was a disaster. The third time I went back to basics, but made a double batch so that I could put together a layer cake for my tea party. That was a win as well. This cake keeps great in the refrigerator, and doesn’t lose any of its moisture or deliciousness. In fact, I think that I like it better slightly chilled.

Fat Free Vegan Carrot Cake (from fatfreevegan.com)

  • egg replacer for 2 eggs
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. grated carrot (I buy the shreds from the grocery store)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. raisins (my addition)

Combine egg replacer, sugar, and applesauce and beat together until light in color.
Stir in cinnamon, salt, and carrot.
Sift together the baking powder and flour, then mix both of them in until nicely blended.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Since there are no eggs, I usually take it out at around 40 minutes. Under baking it a little bit just adds to that dense, rich carrot-cake experience.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (my own recipe)

  • 1 container of vegan cream cheese (about 7 oz. works nicely)
  • 1/4 c. soy milk
  • 2 tbsp. earth balance
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar

While you’re waiting on your cake to cool, take the cream cheese and earth balance out of the fridge and let them get to room temperature.
Just before frosting, mix together cream cheese and earth balance until smooth in a medium-sized bowl.
Beat in powdered sugar and soy milk until the entire mixture is creamy and a little fluffy. If you like, you can add 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.