No Bake Cookie Bites, a recipe preview from The Abundance Diet!

Cookie Bites1 LRThese No Bake Cookie Bites area great pre or post workout snack you can feel good about eating! When I shared the recipe recently during a cooking class at the Downtown Yoga Festival. The students in the class kept going out in the hallway to share these with their friends. More and more people kept coming in for samples who hadn’t even attended the class. You’ll find they disappear quickly at your house too!

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No Bake, No Stovetop Cookie Bites

When I was growing up, my mom made these great no-bake cookies all the time as an afterschool snack. They were super delicious and full of oats, chocolate, and peanut butter. Such a good combination! However, the recipe also had a stick of margarine and loads of sugar, making this a treat I haven’t made as often for my own kids. One day I was trying to make a raw-ish brownie out of dates, nuts, and chocolate. Instead, my creation tasted just like those no-bake cookies I loved so much as a child. I couldn’t have been happier about my kitchen mishap.
(Recipe from The Abundance Diet, © 2015 by Somer McCowan. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press LLC.)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, almonds or walnuts (or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup pitted soft medjool dates (roughly chopped after measuring, packed into a measuring cup)
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or pure maple syrup
In a food processor, combine the nuts, oats, dates, salt, vanilla, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and maple syrup. Process until finely crumbled. Continue processing until the mixture starts to hold together into a mass. If your mixture seems dry, add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it adheres.
With wet hands, press the dough into an 8×4-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate the dough until firm. Remove the parchment and the chilled dough from the loaf pan and cut into 1-inch x 1-inch cookie pieces. These cookies
keep nicely well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Makes 4 servings

Stay tuned! Next week I’ll be sharing my recipe for the Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Bake (my healthier updated version of Mormon Funeral Potatoes).

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The Abundance Diet is available for pre-order on Amazon here NOW! The book will be released on June 9th!

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The Abundance Diet (Pre-order Now!) and a Delicious Guilt-Free Nacho Cheesy Sauce!

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My cookbook, The Abundance Diet is going to be released in just 14 days! I’ve received a boxful of copies and I’m so excited to share it with you! The book is visually stunning with photography and cover design by my dear friend, Annie Oliverio of An Unrefined Vegan.  The cookbook is formatted for ease of use with meal plans, shopping lists and over 100 healthful plant-based recipes. You can preorder your copy on Amazon here at a significant discount off the publisher’s price. The Abundance Diet will also be available for purchase at Barnes and Noble and other notable retail book sellers.


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I haven’t been blogging much since I’ve been focusing most of my efforts on just being a mom lately. However, every once in a while I still come up with something that’s just too good not to share. I developed a vegan nacho cheese sauce last week that knocked my socks off! Now, I’ve made plenty of vegan cheese sauces and many of them claim to taste just like the real deal. I’m here to tell you that most times I’ve been disappointed. I’m going to tell you that this vegan cheese doesn’t really taste like exactly like the dairy nacho cheese you remember. I think it tastes even better, especially because it’s actually good for you because it’s made with all whole food ingredients and no fake stuff. When I served it to students at my vegan cooking class at a yoga festival over the weekend I heard excited whispers everywhere “This tastes like nacho cheese!” I’ll let you make it and decide what you think.

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You can use it as a salad dressing on your favorite taco salad fixins. Or you can just serve a giant bowl of it with your favorite corn chips, like these gorgeous ones from Trader Joes that are filled with plant goodness.

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Guilt-Free Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

  • 1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk, from a can (alternatively, you can use 1/2 cup soaked cashews)
  • juice from one lime
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon redmond real sea salt or your favorite sea salt to taste
  • 1 cooked russet potato, about 4 oz. roughly diced (alternatively, for a more hummus like dip, use one cup white beans)

Method: Add the roasted red peppers, coconut milk, lime juice, nutritional yeast, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, black pepper and salt to a blender or a food processor. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Add the potato and blend again until silky. If you are using a high speed blender like a Blendtec, continue blending on high speed until the sauce is warmed through. Or pour it into a small saucepan and heat until bubbly. Serve immediately.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups cheese sauce.

Crave Eat Heal: Plant-Based, Whole-Foods Recipes to Satisy Every Appetite by Annie Oliverio. Review, Giveaway and Recipe for Butternut Squash Queso

Crave Eat Heal Cover

Sometimes I can’t even believe how the Universe works. I met Annie from An Unrefined Vegan over the internet several years ago through the vegan blogosphere. We became fast online friends during a strange series of serendipitous events. Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to meet in real life many times. We’ve helped each other through hardships and celebrated each other’s joys.

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When Annie got her publishing contract through the Cedar Fort Publishing, a publishing company with Mormon roots and based in a town I used to live in, I thought things couldn’t get any more unexpectedly surrealistic. I’m convinced more than ever in fact that fate has gifted us both with this friendship.

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During the last few years I’ve had the sweet opportunity of watching Annie climb her way up the ladder to a seriously professional photographer and recipe creator. She’s passionate about her work and it speaks for itself. Crave, Eat, Heal is definitely one of the most beautiful, well photographed and planned out vegan cookbooks to date.

matcha shortbreadGreen Matcha and Herb Shortbread

I was lucky enough to be involved in the recipe testing for this cookbook. The recipes are wholesome, with unrefined ingredients and lots of yummy flavors. Most of the recipes in the book are gluten-free to boot.

French Onion Dip

In a completely new and unique format, the recipes in this book are divided into chapters by cravings: carbs, chocolate, comfort, cool, creamy, crunchy, green, junk, salty, spicy, sweet, tart and warm.

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Of all the recipes I tested however, the butternut squash queso was my absolute favorite, plus this base recipe serves as the cheddar cheez, which is absolutely divine.

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This recipe was inspired by an appetizer at Matthew Kenney’s now-defunct “plant-based Mexican kitchen,” Tamazul, in Oklahoma City.  While everything I’ve eaten there has been delicious, fresh, and creative – their queso impressed me more than any other dish.  I was too shy to ask how they made it, so I set about creating my own version.

This also makes a delicious sauce for mac ’n’ cheez.

Gluten-free, Oil-free, Easy

BUTTERNUT SQUASH QUESO

Makes ~2 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups roasted* butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 8-12 hours, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp. white miso paste
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • Water, as needed

DIRECTIONS

Add all of the ingredients to a high-speed or regular blender and process until very smooth.  You will need to tamp down the ingredients and add water – just a little at a time – during processing to get a very smooth texture.

Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and gently heat.  Serve warm with baked tortilla chips or fresh steamed vegetables. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Suggestions: Try using pumpkin puree or roasted sweet potato in place of the butternut squash. Reserve 1 cup of the queso to make Cheddar Cheez (see recipe on page XX). If you like it spicy, stir in a 1/4 cup of fresh, diced jalapeño peppers (or pickled jalapeños) – or for milder flavor – stir in a 1/4 cup of roasted red bell pepper. *Here’s how I roast a butternut squash:  Preheat the oven to 425-degrees and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Cut off the squash’s stem and pierce the skin a few times with a knife.  Place the whole squash on the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the flesh of the squash is very soft (I test it by inserting a knife).  The skin will be shiny and dark brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before handling.  Peel off the skin, then break open the squash and scoop out the seeds.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Ann Oliverio and Front Table Books.

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Visit Annie Oliverio at her blog: An Unrefined Vegan

Purchase your own copy of Crave, Eat, Heal: Plant-based, Whole-food Recipes to Satisfy Every Appetite. The book is available for pre-order now and will be released early in May.

Or, for a chance to win a copy of Crave Eat Heal, simply leave a comment on this post below. Two winners will be chosen, one  winner for the US and Canada will receive a hardcopy of the book, and one International winner will receive an electronic copy of the book. The winners will be chosen at random on April 30th! Good luck! <3

 

 

 

The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

My laptop is down, so I’m posting from my phone because you need this cookie recipe. It’s a cookie recipe my from my sister Holly (she makes the best cookies!) I’ve been veganizing it for several years now, but yesterday I had a breakthrough discovery.image

If you’ve been hiding under a rock you may not know that “magic chickpea brine” has taken the vegan world by storm. People are making meringues, pavlovas, macarons, marshmallow fluffvegan lucky charms marshmallows, sponge cake and even angel food cake with the stuff. I was curious about what else the liquid from a can of chickpeas might do and wondered if it might make a successful egg replacer. I hope you’ll you’ll be pleased to know it successfully replaces egg in a traditional cookie recipe. In fact, it’s the best egg replacer I’ve ever used! it binds, it leavens and it provides that chewiness that I’ve missed in vegan cookies.

Previously I always used ground flax or cornstarch. A neighbor of mine is allergic to flax and cornstarch seems to make a drier more crumbly cookie. I’ve probably tried every egg replacer you can think of and this idea has performed the very best of all. You simply use 3 tablespoons of chickpea brine per egg you need to replace. I’m going to venture out on a limb and say this will easily work for cakes or any other baked good that doesn’t use more than a couple of eggs. These are literally perfect!

Recipe for The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted and veganized from my sister’s recipe)

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter at room temperature (earth balance buttery sticks or homemade: Bryanna Clark Grogan, Miyoko Schinner and veganbaking.com have good recipes for homemade vegan butter)
  • 1/2 cup packed organic brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic unrefined granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons chickpea brine (from a can of chickpeas, or the liquid from any other can of white beans)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic all purpose unbleached flour (or whole wheat pastry flour, for GF use all purpose flour GF flour plus 1 teaspoon xanthan gum)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips (I like 1 1/2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, (or in your stand mixer) Cream the butter and the sugars with an electric beater. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla and chickpea brine. Beat to combine.

Add the flour and beat until well mixed. If the cookie dough seems too wet, add an additional tablespoon or two of flour and mix till combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet, I use this medium sized cookie scoop. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Let cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack to cool for several minutes more. Store in an airtight container for up to five days. Makes about 24 cookies.

Notes and troubleshooting: you can also use the liquid from home cooked chickpeas or any other white bean. The key is having a viscous liquid. Think raw egg consistency.

When measuring flour, I use the scoop and level method. Spooning flour into a cup spoon by spoon and then leveling it will make cookies that are too thin and flat.

Be sure to use proper vegan butter and not buttery spread or coconut oil as a substitute. Vegan butter spread has a higher water content and coconut oil needs modifications to work in this recipe.

When the Stars Align! Kittee Bern’s Teff Love! Review (Gush Fest) and Giveaway!

platter 2Platter of Yum: with homemade 100% teff injera, spicy red lentil wot, mild yellow split peas in a creamy sauce, Ethiopian inspired Mac and Cheesie, Tangy lentil Salad and a tasty green salad with Italian Salad dressing.

Luckily for me, I’ve been stalking Kittee Berns of Cake Maker to the Stars for quite some time now. The infatuation/hero worship began when I first ran across her crazy awesome blog, and then found out she’s been vegan for 23+ years. Kittee is incredibly talented inside and outside the kitchen! She’s forever cooking/crafting/knitting/sewing all of the most fantastic things! A dear friendship has developed out of that stalkerhood and sometime in the last year I became an unofficial recipe tester for Kittee’s debut cookbook, Teff Love. During that time period, I’ve developed a serious hunk of burning love for all foods Ethiopian and sprinkled with berbere.

hummus and teff crepesEthiopian spiced hummus with toasted sunflower seed butter base, quick teff crepes and a bit of greens with Italian dressing on the side.

As you know, I LOVE food. So it’s no surprise that I adore pretty much every ethnic food I’ve ever tasted, and it turns out that despite never visiting an Ethiopian restaurant (0r Ethiopia, obviously), Ethiopian food is my new favorite cuisine. The recipes in Teff Love are straightforward, well explained and mouth-wateringly delicious. Most of the ingredients required to make these recipes are simple whole foods you can purchase at any grocery store and the book is almost entirely gluten-free. However, like any different genre of food, there are a few specialty ingredients/spices that you need in order to make the recipes in the book, these ingredients can be purchased at an Ethiopian Market/Grocer or easily online. Buyer beware: make sure to purchase imported berbere for these recipes! It packs some heat, but it’s a very delicious and complex spice mix, while berbere that’s produced stateside is mostly cayenne pepper and is EXTREMELY spicy.

pudlaEthiopian spiced chickpea pancake.

shehan ful (2)Shehan Ful, these are some of the best beans I’ve ever eaten, and guess what?!? You eat them for breakfast! Though I’ve made them for lunch and dinner plenty of times too!

If you’re like me and just wading into Ethiopian food bliss for the first time, Kittee has plenty of fusion recipes for you to dabble with that are all ready familiar and comforting to your palate like: brownies, crispy potato wedges, tofu scramble, vegan mac and cheese, pancakes and more.

browniesOutrageous Fudgy Mocha Teff Brownies! Look at the amazing crinkle top!

JojoCrispy Garlicky JoJo Potatoes Deliciousness

sourdough pancakesBlueberry Sourdough Pancakes, plus some banana ones for good measure

Tempeh SaladEthiopian spiced Mac and Cheesie and an Insanely good Tempeh Salad loaded with Apples.

tofu scrambleTofu Scramble tastiness

When you’re ready to take it to the next level and start making real Ethiopian food, Kittee holds your hand throughout the book and teaches you everything you need to know. The book includes menu plans, instructions for how to make your own 100% teff injera and even advice for putting together your own Ethiopian food shindig.

My favorite thing in the universe right now is Kittee’s injera. The injera is a fermented sourdough type crepe and serves as a base for all of the delicious recipes that top its surface. Its texture is slightly spongy and stretchy and it absorbs the flavors from the foods that sit on top of it and makes for a gorgeous flavor explosion. I cooked my injera on a well seasoned cast iron skillet and it turned out perfectly. You can watch a short video of Kittee making injera and get more injera skills info here.

Somer and Kittee

I found out Kittee was going to be in my neck of the woods and I invited her over for lunch. I made her and her bubs (Dazee and Vee) an Ethiopian feast with some of the recipes in the book. I love that although this was the first time we’d “actually met” it just felt like old friends getting together. Our two hours weren’t nearly long enough!

platter 1  SO MUCH GOOD FOOD! 

We gobbled up our feast and I still had plenty of yummy leftovers to serve my family for dinner that night. I’ve all ready got another batch of injera fermenting!

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Visit Kittee Berns at her blog: Cake Maker to the Stars.

Read more about Kittee’s love affair with Ethiopian food here.

Purchase your own copy of Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking!

Or, for a chance to win a copy of Teff Love, simply leave a comment on this post below. The winner will be chosen at random on March 11th! U.S. Residents only please! Good luck! <3

Umbrian Lentil Salad from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson, Plus Review and Giveaway!

Vegan Without Borders

Robin Robertson’s Vegan Without Borders! Oh my goodness I love this book so much, It’s a beautiful and hefty hardcover cookbook with recipes from all around the world. The photography inside is pretty enough that you could use it as a coffee table book, but I suspect instead it will become one of your most well thumbed and worn cookbooks, thank goodness it’s designed to stand up to the rigors of any kitchen enviroment!

Coconut Spinach and Lentil DalCoconut Spinach and Lentil Dal, page 177

This fragrant and delicious dal was the very first thing I made out of the cookbook. It’s one I’ve made several times since it is quick to prepare and super comforting for cold winter days.

Kung Pao SeitanKung Pao Seitan, page 194

I made this dish one Sunday dinner for several non-vegan guests. The original recipe uses eggplant and a variety of other colorful vegetables, which of course I adore, but not wanting to scare away my guests (not veg centric…) I kept this dish simple and used broccoli as the star. My dinner guests had never tasted seitan and were blown away by its delicious meaty texture. The sauce was perfect and even though I made a double recipe, we didn’t have any leftovers.

Soda Bread SconesSoda Bread Scones, page 76

I’d never made soda bread before and was intrigued by these scones. The dough isn’t sweet, but is dotted with raisins for a nice flavor burst. These would make for a perfect pairing with a warm cup of herbal tea.

FarinataFarinata with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives, pages 4-5

Lets just say that even though this dish is supposed to serve six, I kept snacking on bits of it throughout the day I made it. I ended up eating nearly the whole thing by myself. It’s that good.

Butternut Mac and CheeseButternut Mac and Cheese, pages 90-91

This American classic gets healthy with this no-oil-no-butter version of the family favorite. Don’t worry, it’s still every bit as rich, creamy and delicious as the original while allowing you to go back for second helpings without any guilt.

Umbrian Lentil Salad1Umbrian Lentil Salad, page 9

Now for one of my very favorite recipes I tested from Vegan Without Borders. This salad is so incredible. Make it during your Holiday preparations (or any time) as a light and refreshing main dish or as a beautifully presented side dish. Robin’s recipe calls for arugula, which I couldn’t get locally, so I put the salad in red cabbage leaves. I think that’s the second best choice.

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Umbrian Lentil Salad

This recipe is from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing. Used with permission.

This hearty salad is inspired by a similar dish that I enjoyed for lunch at a small café in Assisi in the Umbrian region of Italy where lentils are quite popular.  The salad was served to me at room temperature with warm crusty Italian bread, and I encourage you to do the same.

2 cups brown lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup or agave nectar
2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 cups chopped arugula
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup toasted walnuts pieces
1/2 cup raisins
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or basil

Cook the lentils in a pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm, 30 to 40 minutes. Drain well and rinse under cold water, then drain again. While the lentils are cooking, combine the oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, coriander, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Stir to combine well. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked, drained lentils with the arugula, onion, walnuts, raisins, capers, and parsley. Pour on the dressing and toss to mix well. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate and serve chilled.

Serves 4

Gluten-free; soy-free

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Visit Robin Robertson at her site Global Vegan Kitchen, here.

Click to purchase Vegan Without Borders.

In order to enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below. Winner will be chosen at random, and an email will be sent to notify them of their prize one week from today. USA residents only.

Virtual Vegan Potluck, Tempeh Lettuce Wraps, a Guest Post from Chef Ian Brandt

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So, in the last couple of weeks, I had not one but two recipe snafus while trying to put something together for this year’s Virtual Vegan Potluck.

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First I made a tofu piccata. It was delicious. I photographed it and got it all set up and ready to pre-schedule the post. Then later that night I was flipping through a cookbook I own and saw a tempeh piccata that was nearly the exact recipe. Not wanting anyone to think I plagiarized a recipe, I decided not to post it.

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Then I made a second recipe, this time a lentil, olive and thyme hummus. Conceptually it was brilliant. The execution not so much. If you’ve ever tried to blend lentils as smooth as garbanzos, you may find out instead of getting deliciously creamy, they turn into lentil glue. Blast.

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Thank goodness I had backup! Several weeks ago Chef Ian Brandt and I had met up and discussed him sharing guest post recipes on my blog from time to time. So I called in a favor and Ian pulled through with this fantastic appetizer! A huge thanks to Ian for saving my vegan bacon.

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As you can see, this dish is exquisite, but probably leaves me out of the running for any potluck awards! I hope you’ll enjoy it anyway!

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Chef Ian Brandt

Executive Chef, Owner:  Sage’s CaféVertical DinerCafé SuperNaturalCali’s Natural Foods. All downtown Salt Lake City, Utah locations.

All photos by Somer McCowan of Vedged Out

Lettuce Wraps with Tempeh

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 brick diced tempeh
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup, diced carrot
  • ½ cup diced celery
  •  1 head romaine lettuce
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno chili, minced and deseeded
  • 1 thumb minced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • a few sprigs cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling / garnish

What You Do:

  1. In a sauté pan on medium temperature
  2. Put into the pan the oil, tempeh, onions, carrot, celery, garlic, jalapeno and ginger. Saute ingredients till dark brown.
  3. Add tamari and maple syrup
  4. Cut down lettuce into leaves used to wrap the ingredients
  5. Put the reduced filling into a serving bowl and garnish with lime wedges, sesame seeds and fresh cilantro and Enjoy!

Somer’s notes: I made these wraps with radicchio instead of romaine, because, pretty! I made these a second time with tofu instead of tempeh with equally delicious results. My kids ate the tempeh mixture over basmati rice and loved it so much!

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A huge heartfelt thanks to Annie at An Unrefined Vegan for creating and organizing this event, and for Poppy and Angela for being her trusty sidekicks along with other helpers. I’ve been privileged enough to help out with the VVP in years past, but life is just a bit too crazy for me to be on the VVP train right now!

Previous Potluck Posts from Vedged Out:

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If you run into any broken links along the way, (some bloggers show up a little late to the party) here’s a list of the bloggers in the potluck to help you get back on track. Pretty cool to see over 86 bloggers from all around the world flaunting their vegan awesome! Use the buttons below to Go Back to visit Veggie Inspired JourneyGo Forward to see what Glue and Glitter brought to the party.

Stay-Calm-Go-Back2 Stay-Calm-Go-Forward2 (1)