Vegetarian/Vegan


Honey-Coconut Chex Mix

Honey-Coconut Chex Mix

Who doesn’t enjoy Chex Mix? There’s more than enough recipes to satisfy every sweet or salty taste out there, and if you ever lived in Hawaii, you may have received Furikake Chex Mix from one of your aunties or coworkers at Christmas.

I prefer a salty Chex Mix, so made a variation of the original recipe found here. (the Chex cereal website has a huge selection of sweet and salty recipes, mostly with microwave directions.) After sampling the savory, garlicky flavor, I decided I wanted a sweet one, too.  I checked out a few blogger recipes and came across several variations of a recipe that uses shredded coconut and Honey Grahams cereal. It already sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Improvise
I didn’t have corn syrup and I didn’t have Honey Grahams, so I made a few modifications. First, I used light agave syrup and honey. Next, I took one commenter’s suggestion and added a bit of coconut extract to give it a stronger, coconuttier flavor (and boy, does the kitchen smell GOOD!)  The addition of chocolate chips tastes great, but it may overshadow the wonderful coconut flavor, so you may want to sample a bit before adding a bunch of chocolate chips in your mix.

I was worried the butter-agave-honey mixture wouldn’t solidify, so I ended up baking it in the oven for 20 minutes (The Bomb Diggity recipe doesn’t need to be baked). I was glad I did. The syrup was more concentrated, intensifying the sweet, buttery flavor and created a crispy-chewy, coconut candy coating.

The Verdict
I had a feeling my husband would prefer the sweet version, so I asked him to try the salty one first. He liked it, but definitely preferred the Honey-Coconut Chex Mix. I gave him two containers of sweet and salty mixes to take to work, then started on another batch to keep at home. :)

Adapted from the Gooey Sweet Coconut Chex Mix (aka The Bomb Diggity), here is my version of a coconut Chex Mix.

Honey-Coconut Chex Mix

Honey-Coconut Chex Mix

Honey-Coconut Chex Mix
Make it Gluten-Free with GF pretzels!

Ingredients:

2 cups Rice Chex
2 cups Corn Chex
1 cup salted pretzels, twists or sticks
1/2 cup almonds (slivered or whole), macadamia nuts, or any nut you like
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light agave syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or white chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Combine cereals, pretzels, almonds, and unsweetened coconut in a 13″x9″x2″ baking pan. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, agave syrup and honey. Boil for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to let it boil over the sides. Remove from heat, stir in coconut extract.

Pour over cereal mixture and toss well with heatproof rubber spatula. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through baking.

With only 4 cups of cereal, you can use a casserole dish or rectangular cake pan.

With only 4 cups of cereal, you can use a casserole dish or rectangular cake pan.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 2 hours, stirring every 5-10 minutes (mixture will harden as it cools). You can also spread this out on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet if you don’t have time to stir the party mix, just break into small pieces when cooled. Add chocolate chips. Store in airtight container for up to 3-5 days. Makes about 6 cups.

ahhh...heavenly!

ahhh…heavenly!

A few days ago I got one of those warehouse-sized 4-flavor packs of cupcakes–and I had no problem putting them in my pregnant belly. There were coconut, red velvet, carrot and double-chocolate cakes, all deliciously moist, but topped with incredibly sugary frostings. Though they look almost too pretty to eat (almost) and I love variety packs of anything, making my own cakes give me the option of using more of the healthy ingredients and less of the not-so-healthy ones. I already have a delicious recipe for carrot apple ginger cake, so all I needed was a nice frosting to go with it.

Lemons to enhance and balance
I love using lemons in a lot of dishes, sweet or savory. Store bought cream cheese frosting is pretty sweet, so I used only a tablespoon of powdered sugar, left out the butter and relied on vanilla soy milk to add some flavor. The lemon juice rounded out that sugar and gave it a nice tarty sweetness. Adding lemon zest or orange zest made it fragrant and just about perfect!

My internet was down all day Tuesday, so what better time than to try this out? Enjoy!

Carrot apple ginger cake topped with creame cheese frosting and orange zest

Carrot apple ginger cake topped with creame cheese frosting and orange zest


Cream Cheese Frosting with Lemon or Orange Zest
You can also substitute goat cheese for the cream cheese.

Ingredients:
8oz block 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened (about 20 min at room temp.)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla soy or almond milk
juice of 1 lemon, about 2-3 tablespoons
zest of 2 lemons or oranges, reserving 1 tablespoon

Directions:
In a small bowl, use a fork and mash cheese with powdered sugar. Stir in soy or almond milk and lemon juice, combine until smooth. If still lumpy, let sit for 5 minutes and stir again. Stir in lemon or orange zest. Spread frosting over cakes, top with reserved fresh lemon or orange zest.

This month’s Recipe Redux theme is all about those necessary tools that keep us happy and efficient in the kitchen. Sometimes it’s fun to be MacGyver-ish and make do with whatever tools you may have in the kitchen (chef’s knife, cheese grater, rolling pin) but having a gadget that eases the hassle of grinding, chopping, blending and slicing can feel as if you have a new assistant to help you prep (but not help you clean up!)

Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift? This one might be a good one to chip in with your siblings or another friend or two and give it to that favorite home chef in your life.

This is my favorite tool in the kitchen, mostly because it was given as a wedding gift (gifted items are always the most treasured!) I was more than elated when I saw this wonderful Kitchen Aid food processor because 1) I would have NEVER purchased one for myself,  2) it was a beautiful, candy-apple red, 3) this thing is powerful, and 4) I knew I wouldn’t have to make my graham cracker crumbs with a rolling pin and Ziploc bag, anymore! Making basil pesto was faster, easier, and the consistency was much better than using a blender. I also love using it for chopping toasted nuts, which is great if you use a lot of it in your baking and cooking because you can conveniently scoop out whatever you need and keep the rest in an airtight jar.

Here is a recipe that’s quick to make with a food processor. The original recipe can be found at WholeFoodsMarket.com, but I made a few changes to lighten it up a bit and make it dairy-free.

Pasta_WalnutCream1

Add anything you want: mushroom, peas, even some grated Parmesan cheese!

Creamy Savory Walnut Sauce, Dairy-Free
don’t let the tofu scare you off, the nutritional yeast and garlic makes it incredibly flavorful, you won’t miss the dairy! You can also use this as a savory dip for veggies or a spread for crackers–just add more tofu to thicken it up.

Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (can substitute grated Parmesan cheese)
1/2 cup firm Silken Lite Tofu
1/4 cup soy or almond milk

KitchenAidMixer

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse toasted walnuts until chopped, about 5-7 times. Add salt through nutritional yeast flakes Pulse 2-3 times until combined. Add Silken Lite tofu, put cover back on. Run the processor and pour soy milk through the chute, blend for 5 seconds or until combined. If too thin, add more tofu. If too thick, add more soy or almond milk.

Walnut Cream Sauce_1

Creamy, savory walnut sauce–no cream, no cheese!

Heat and serve over pasta with your favorite toppings (mushrooms, chicken, bacon, etc.) Serves 4.

What is your favorite kitchen tool(s)? Where did you get it? What makes it your favorite out of all the other gadgets in your kitchen?

Don’t forget to check out the other favorite Kitchen Gadgets of other Recipe Redux members!



I’ve been busier with work the past couple weeks, which is good, but it also means more time away from my food blog (and I’m pretty bummed I missed the Recipe Redux for this month!) I usually spend about 2-3 hours creating a post, sometimes more, depending on the topic, photos, and the ease or difficulty of writing it.

Here is a recipe that I recently experimented with, and it’s all thanks to an Apple and Fennel salad I came across at Wegman’s. It was tart, vinegary, and sweetened with a sprinkle of golden raisins. I loved the combination of flavors and thought this would be great to serve alongside the richer Thanksgiving dishes (and it did!) But instead of ordering a couple pounds of this delicious stuff, I thought I’d come up with my own version of this tart n’ tangy palate-cleansing dish.

Simple is Best – All you need is six ingredients, super easy!

Tasty and Tart – Comparing several recipes for apple fennel salad showed me variations with the dressing. There were several recipes that used mainly olive oil and lemon, but I wanted something tarty. Apple cider vinegar was the way to go, and using frozen concentrated apple juice was an easy shortcut. Whole grain mustard was added for flavor as well as texture.

Is Thin Really In? – I came across this easy tip from The Purple Foodie in their version of an Apple Fennel Salad: “Cut everything thinly – the finer the cut, the better the chances of all elements of the salad coming together in a single bite, maximising flavour.” Wegman’s Apple Fennel Salad had thicker slices of apple, about 1/32 of an apple, and it still tasted great with the plump raisins and tart dressing, but I opted for thin slices.

Refreshing and tart. If you ever had pickled green mango, this might taste something like it.

Apple Fennel Salad with Raisins

The apples and fennel can be sliced the night before, just keep them in a ziploc bag–along with the raisins–until you’re ready to pour on the vinaigrette.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3-4)
1 pound fennel bulbs (2 bulbs)
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup frozen concentratred apple juice
2 tablespoons stone ground Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice apples into quarters, remove seeds. Slice thinly and place in a large mixing bowl. Thinly slice fennel crosswise and add to apples. Stir in raisins, set aside.

In a separate bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, combine apple cider vinegar, frozen apple juice, and stone ground mustard with a wire whisk. Put apple mixture in a gallon-sized ziploc bag, pour in vinaigrette and seal tightly, removing as much air without smashing apple mixture.

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, turning ziploc bag after a half hour or so to ensure vinaigrette gets distributed evenly. (NOTE: as a precaution, lay the ziploc bag flat in a baking dish, just in case it leaks.)

Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with fennel leaves. Guests may season their own serving with salt & pepper. Serves 12-14.

Last week I posted a Chocolate Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding recipe as part of a Recipe Redux Challenge brought on by the National Soyfoods Council in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Soyfoods Council is challenging Recipe Redux to inspire family, friends, and readers to add more soy foods to their diet by creating recipes using one of the most versatile soy foods available–tofu!

Since tofu tasted so good as a dairy substitute in the pudding I made, I decided to experiment with main dish meals that could also benefit from this stand-in without sacrificing taste or texture.

The experiment: alfredo sauce

Alfredo sauce. image source: http://www.buzzle.com

Background: The original alfredo recipe uses cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese cooked and served over noodles, sometimes with additional seasonings like parsley and garlic. My version uses tofu and almond or soy milk for the creamy base, and with the addition of a few seasonings, it tastes luxuriant and flavorful enough to rival the original, fat-filled version.

The verdict: I served the alfredo sauce on Ancient Grains Quinoa Spaghetti and Sea Tangle brand kelp noodles. My husband liked it (though adding some shredded Parmesan cheese on top made it closer to the real thing!) Adding lemon juice helped to sharpen up the flavor of the sauce, adding a much needed acidity to cut through the creaminess.

Creamy tofu alfredo with peas and kelp noodles–sample size!

Creamy Tofu Alfredo, serves 4
This versatile sauce–which comes out to less than 100 calories per serving–can be kept vegan or served with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, cooked chicken, or both! Pairing the sauce with 1 1/2 cups of zucchini noodles adds 45 calories, kelp noodles just 6! Got room for dessert?

Ingredients:

1 box Mori Nu Silken Lite Tofu, firm
1 cup soy milk or almond milk (plus extra if you want sauce less thick)
1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
add-ins:
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup broccoli florets
4 mushrooms, sliced
juice from half a lemon

Noodles of your choice (raw zucchini noodles, kelp noodles, cooked pasta noodles, etc.)
fresh spinach

Directions:

In a blender on low speed, combine tofu and milk until smooth, stopping blender and scraping down sides with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add yeast flakes, salt, and red pepper flakes. Blend on low speed until combined, about 20 seconds. Set aside.

In a medium sized sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sautee until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, add garlic to tofu mixture and blend on low for 10-20 seconds or until combined. Pour tofu mixture into sauce pan, bring to simmer over medium heat. Add frozen peas, broccoli florets, and mushroom slices. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to simmer. Turn off heat, stir in lemon juice.

Serve over your choice of noodles and fresh spinach.

Creamy tofu alfredo with quinoa pasta.

Creamy tofu alfredo on kelp noodles.

Disclosure: by posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Soyfoods Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Be sure to check out the other tofu-riffic recipes at The Recipe Redux: http://teaspooncomm.com/teaspoonofspice/2012/10/grilled-tofu-blt-sandwich-giveaway/.



To celebrate October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The Soyfoods Council is challenging Recipe Redux to inspire family, friends, and readers to add more soy foods to their diet by creating recipes using one of the most versatile soy foods available–tofu!

It’s easy to find tofu at almost any grocery store these days, and not all brands will taste the same. But one thing that’s good about tofu is that it can easily take on the flavor of sauces and spices, making it a versatile ingredient for almost any dish you wish to make.

Today I’m going to share a pudding recipe that uses not one, but three healthy ingredients: tofu, pumpkin, and coconut. Here’s a little background information so you know this dessert not only tastes good, but is good for you, too!

A Little Tofu Goes a Long Way. A 4-ounce serving is a good source of calcium (40% of your daily needs), protein (9 grams along with that calcium), and iron (nearly 34% of your daily requirements taken care of). As a cancer-preventing food, tofu contains selenium, an important mineral necessary in helping to create your body’s own cancer-fighting antioxidants.

It’s the Great Pumpkin! Sure pumpkin pie is great, but did you know you can eat pumpkin raw, too? Reap the most of the nutritional benefits by using a vegetable peeler and slicing it thin. Enjoy it in a crunchy salad with a spicy Thai peanut sauce or use in place of cooked noodles with your favorite pasta sauce. It’s a great source of Vitamin A and other powerful anti-oxidants. It’s low in calories, high in fiber, and even if you use the canned stuff or roast a whole gourd, cooked pumpkin will still be a good source of nutrition.

I’m Coo Coo for Coconut! Coconut is often thought to be a cholesterol-laden food that’s bad for your health. Although high in fat (about 50 calories per tablespoon), coconut cream and coconut oil contains saturated fats with a different composition from that of animal fats, which are difficult for your body to metabolize. The medium-chain fatty acids of coconut are metabolized much more easily and can also help your immune system by staving of viruses, plus its anti-carcinogenic properties help fight cancer. Be sure you use a VIRGIN coconut product, as these contain the healthy fats. Unhealthy coconut oil has been chemically treated and loaded with artificial hydrogenated oils.

Why tofu in pudding? Puddings are usually made with milk, sugar, eggs, and cooked until it’s nice and thick. Using tofu instead of milk is great for people who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy (like me!) or would prefer to cook vegan-style. This recipe is not only dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free, but there is absolutely NO cooking involved! The boxed silken tofu blends easily, especially with the canned pumpkin. But instead of just making a holiday pumpkin pie-flavored pudding, I wanted something else to compliment the warm spices. Blending in coconut cream brought out a fresh, creamy flavor. Making a separate chocolate pudding made it more indulgent, and went perfectly with the warm pumpkin pie spices. Topping it with toasted coconut deepened the flavor and gave a nice crunch to the smooth, creamy texture.

The verdict: I gave my husband a big cup of chocolate and pumpkin-coconut pudding, waiting to see how he liked it. After a few spoonfuls and a “mm, good!” I asked him what he thought of it. He said it reminded him of a Christmas dessert (he’s originally from Germany, where they have lots of delicious spiced cookies around the holidays.) I told him it must be the pumpkin pie spice, and ginger, and Chinese five spice. I told him it was made of pumpkin and tofu, and he said “mm…s’good,” and ate the rest. Good enough for me!

Chocolate Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding

Chocolate and Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding

This dessert takes less than ten minutes to prepare. Though it tastes good as soon as you’re done, give it a couple of hours in the fridge before you dish out this heart-healthy dessert to your guests.

Serves 6, appx. 3/4 cup serving each

Ingredients:

1 12.3 oz. box Mori-Nu Silken Lite Tofu, Firm
1 15 oz. can pumpkin pie filling (no sugar added)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon light agave syrup
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice (optional)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 – 1/3 cup coconut cream (Put a can of coconut milk in refrigerator for 1-2 days. Open, scoop out coconut cream from top of can. Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk is an EXCELLENT tasting brand!)
1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Toppings:

1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 ripe banana (optional)
gluten-free semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

In a blender, combine tofu and pumpkin pie filling on medium speed until well-blended, stopping and scraping down sides with spatula as needed. Add 1/3 cup agave syrup (reserve the 1 tablespoon for later),  spices, and coconut flour. Blend until well combined. If too thick, pour into a mixing bowl and stir vigorously with a wire whisk for a minute or two until thoroughly combined.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING: Scoop half of mixture into a small mixing bowl. With a wire whisk, stir in cocoa powder and agave syrup, mixing well.
PUMPKIN COCONUT PUDDING: To the other half of mixture, add 1/4 – 1/3 cup coconut cream and beat with a whisk until incorporated. Add more if you want a stronger coconut flavor. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour to firm up.

PREPARE TOPPINGS: Before serving, toast unsweetened flaked coconut in a skillet over medium heat until golden, stirring every so often to prevent burning. Remove from heat and let cool. Thinly slice bananas, and have about 1/4 cup chocolate chips handy for decorating. Remove puddings from refrigerator.

Set out six serving dishes. Starting with chocolate or pumpkin-coconut pudding, layer pudding alternately with toppings, finishing with a sprinkle of toasted coconut. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Have it your way: chocolate chips, bananas, toasted coconut–or all three!

Disclosure: by posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Soyfoods Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Be sure to check out the other tofu-riffic recipes at The Recipe Redux: http://teaspooncomm.com/teaspoonofspice/2012/10/grilled-tofu-blt-sandwich-giveaway/.



Today’s WIAW will be quick and dirty, as it’s been a busy week and an even busier Wednesday (hence the evening post!)  thank you again to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting this weekly round-up for us to share our recipes, a few laughs, and maybe some interesting stories to close out the summer.

In addition to my summer staples of fresh fruits and veggies, I came across an easy protein bar recipe that could be a great staple to take along on hikes, bike trips, road trips, or even as an on-the-go breakfast while running errands (like I did this morning) or a nighttime snack when you need a little something to satisfy your peanut butter and banana cravings (like I did five minutes ago!) I’ll share this recipe in a moment, but here’s a quick rundown of the day’s eats:

Breakfast: I wasn’t that hungry after this morning’s workout so I had peanut butter jelly toast and coffee (no picture, but it’s the same as last week’s recycled photo!) My stomach was ready for more after a couple hours, but coffee and tea was enough to keep me satisfied until lunchtime.

Lunch: fruit and veggie salad with protein powder-infused yogurt! Fruits: apple, pear, grapes, strawberries, blueberries. Veggies: celery, cucumber, shredded zucchini. This is a good way to add more veggies into your day, just slice them thin/small so you won’t be overwhelmed by a mouthful of zucchini…unless you like zucchini a lot!

Fruit and veggie yogurt bowl and a cup of Celestial Seasonings Blueberry Breeze green tea for lunch.

Snack: half a Peanut Butter Banana Protein Bar! It was so chewy and gooey, and half was just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth (picture and recipe below.)

Dinner: quick and easy chicken, broccoli and quinoa:

No dessert if I have wine…and I did have wine!

Protein bars are great, and I used to have them for lunch along with an apple on the days I had back-to-back classes in college. I haven’t bought one in a while and when I do feel like trying one out, it’s usually the price that convinces me not to buy one.  I got this super easy protein bar recipe from http://fatlossschool.com/how-to-make-your-own-whey-protein-bars/. You can make these bars whatever flavor you want with different protein powders and some of your favorite baking spices. I made this version using some powdered peanut butter to help cut down on the fat and it still has a great taste.

L-R: powdered peanut butter, oat flour, nut butter, protein powder & banana.

Thick and sticky, just like cookie dough.

I use tofu containers to mold them, but any small container will do.

Put the plastic wrapped protein mix in the freezer to firm up before slicing.

Peanut Butter Banana Protein Bars, also can be made into bite-sized nuggets (left).

Chewy Peanut Butter Banana Protein Bars (vegan)  recipe from http://www.fatlossschool.com
Give them a light coating of oats and chopped nuts. These protein snacks can also be baked.

1 cup oat flour
1 cup dairy-free vanilla protein powder (or protein powder of your choice)
1/4 cup powdered peanut butter (like PB2)
1 large ripe banana
1/4 cup nut butter
1/4 cup water (I used water that had soaked dates in it to make it a little more sweet)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine oat flour, protein powder and powdered peanut butter (if using) with a whisk. With a fork or pastry cutter, mash in banana and peanut butter, adding a little water at a time until cookie dough consistency. Blend well.

Line a small loaf pan or container with plastic wrap, leaving half hanging over the side. Spray the inside with cooking spray. Add mixture to loaf pan, or if using a small plastic container, add half of mixture. Flatten with spatula, cover mixture with plastic wrap and press firmly. Repeat with remaining dough. Freeze for 30 minutes before slicing. Makes 10-12 servings.

Baking option: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bars into thirds, place on silpat, ungreased cookie sheet or pizza pan. Bake for 10 minutes, cool before storing in airtight container in fridge for a week or wrap in foil and freeze for up to two months.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the nutritional info (oat and nut coating nutrition info not included):

Total 1/12th serving 1/10th serving
Calories 1360 113.5g 136
Protein 101.5g 8.5g 10.2g
Fat 61.4g 43.4g 5.2g 3.6g 6.2g 4.4g
Carbs 158.6g 13.3g 16g

(NOTE: I made a mistake on the fat! I counted 20 grams instead of 2, yikes!!! Luckily my recalculations brought it down, sorry about the scare, folks!)

Options (extra calories apply!):

– omit PB2 and increase nut butter to 1/2 cup, use less water
– substitute Nutella for half of nut butter
– substitute 1/4 – 1/3 cup apple sauce, pureed sweet potato or canned pumpkin for banana
– add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

What’s your favorite protein bar flavor? Are there any protein bars that are worth shelling our a couple bucks for or do you enjoy making them yourself?

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