Creamy Roasted Garlic Salad Dressing

3 Aug

Garlic is perhaps one of the most popular seasonings used to flavor savory dishes, and just the sheer aroma alone is enough to make your mouth water. A relative to the onion, garlic is low in calories and free of fat, cholesterol and sugar (source). Want to know more? Check out my All About Garlic post.

When garlic is roasted, its pungency is reduced while its flavor is brought to the forefront. This makes it an excellent inclusion for sandwiches and wraps. In addition, you can kick up your salads by incorporating garlic into your dressings. Check out this recipe for Creamy Roasted Garlic Salad Dressing. Almonds lend themselves to this recipe by providing a nice, creamy consistency, all while providing a healthy dose of potassium, dietary fiber, protein, calcium, iron and magnesium (source).

Creamy Roasted Garlic Salad Dressing

Creamy Roasted Garlic Salad Dressing
Yields approximately 1-1/2 cups

1/2 cup whole blanched unsalted almonds
1 cup + 3/4 cup filtered water, divided
1 bulb fresh garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place almonds in a bowl and cover with 1 cup filtered water. Set aside and allow to soak for 8 hours, or overnight.

After almonds have soaked, preheat oven to 400° F. Cut off top quarter of garlic bulb and place on a piece of aluminum foil approximately 12″ by 12″ in size. Drizzle garlic with olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake garlic, cut side up, in preheated oven for 40-60 minutes, depending on flavor preference. Remove and allow to cool. Garlic should be very fragrant and golden brown in color. Once cooled, squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins and place in the bowl of a blender.

Drain and discard water from almonds. Add soaked almonds, 3/4 cup fresh filtered water and remaining ingredients to blender and puree until smooth, approximately 30-90 seconds, depending on your type of blender.

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Easy Egg-Free Mayonnaise

20 Jul

Mayonnaise (or mayo for short) is a staple in households all over the world. Said to have originated in Spain, this creamy white condiment is used in various dishes both savory and sweet (source).

In traditional mayo, the lecithin contained in egg yolks serves as not only a thickener but an emulsifier, which stabilizes the mixture, allowing it to hold its shape. In other words, when something is emulsified, it allows two naturally repelling liquids (i.e. oil and water) to stick together. So how does one go about making an egg-free mayo? The answer: use alternative sources of fat and lecithin. Oil may be used in place of the fat. With regard to lecithin, various foods such as raw cauliflower and mustard naturally contain lecithin, but perhaps the most concentrated sources are soy and sunflower lecithin. These alternatives serve as excellent stand-ins and flawlessly replace the eggs.

This super easy Egg-Free Mayonnaise is made in under a minute. The result is a light, creamy, cholesterol-free mayonnaise that looks and tastes like it came straight from the grocery store. If you’re feeling fancy, you can easily flavor your mayo with whatever you choose such as garlic or fresh herbs.

Egg-Free Mayonnaise

Easy Egg-Free Mayonnaise
Yields just over 1 cup

1/2 cup organic unsweetened soy milk
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid soy lecithin*
1/2 scant teaspoon salt
1 cup organic canola oil

Using a blender with a 2-piece lid, combine first four ingredients and purée until smooth, approximately 10 seconds.

With the blender still running, carefully remove center part of lid and slowly add oil in a steady stream. Watch mixture closely and stop blender once mayonnaise becomes thick. You will know it is ready when the mixture no longer blends. This should take approximately 5-10 seconds. Be careful not to over-blend as doing so will result in a runny mayonnaise.

Scoop mixture into an air-tight container and store in refrigerator. Mayonnaise should keep for 2-3 weeks.

*If preferred, you may substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard in place of the soy lecithin. Resulting mayonnaise will have a slightly yellow color and may not be as thick.

Getting More Juice Out of Citrus: Did You Know?

13 Jul

When juicing grapefruit, lemons, limes or oranges by hand, it can be a little tricky squeezing out all the juice, as a little elbow grease can only get you so far. So what can you do to get extra juice out of your citrus fruits? Microwave them for 15-20 seconds, or just until warm. Microwaving heats the cellulose and pectin contained in a fruit’s cavities, which weakens their hold on the actual juice. Furthermore, the natural sugars contained in fruit juice have a lowered viscosity when heated, allowing it to flow more freely.

Based on personal experience, I have been able to get up to an additional tablespoon juice out of a whole lemon after microwaving. Results, however, vary depending on the size and type of fruit you are juicing.

Pesto Pasta Salad

30 Jun

Pasta salad is an excellent way to incorporate various vitamins and minerals into your diet. You can include whatever vegetables you want and then smother it all in your dressing of choice. Having been raised with Italian dressing on my pasta salad, I grew tired of it and wanted to try something new. Enter pesto. The result is a burst of flavor that accents the various vegetables included within and makes for an excellent, refreshing salad you can enjoy on any spring or summer day.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad
Yields approximately 8-10 cups

1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained
1 (12-ounce) box farfalle pasta (or pasta of choice)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper or seasoning of choice
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts marinated in water, drained and chopped
1 (10.5-ounce) container cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
1 (8-ounce) bag fresh broccoli, separated into small florets
3/4 cup extra-large black olives, halved

Pesto:
3 ounces fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 medium cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 rounded teaspoon salt (adding more to taste)

Begin with tofu by pressing out excess liquid. You may either use a tofu press or wrap the tofu in cloth or paper towels and place a heavy item, such as a plate or two, on top and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes.

While tofu is being pressed, prepare pasta according to manufacturer’s directions. Drain, set aside and allow to cool completely.

Prepare pesto by first processing basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add olive oil and salt, and continue processing another 10-15 seconds, or until oil is incorporated. Set aside.

Slice pressed tofu into small cubes. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add tofu in a single layer and fry until golden brown on all sides. Season with salt and pepper, or the seasoning of your choice (I use a chicken-style seasoning). Set aside on a paper towel-covered plate in order to remove excess oil. Allow to cool.

Once pasta and tofu have cooled, combine with prepared pesto and remaining ingredients.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Product Review and Recipe: Tyrrells English Chips

22 Jun

Tyrrell's English ChipsSometimes when I have a craving for salt the easiest and most satisfying thing (albeit not the healthiest) to eat is a bag of chips. There is something about their light, crispy texture that leaves me wanting more. Here’s an interesting fact if you didn’t already know: what we refer to as “chips,” the English refer to as “crisps.” Luckily for us, Tyrrells English Chips, based out of Leominster, Herefordshire in the UK, have kindly used the word “chips” on their U.S. packaging to prevent any confusion. Offering hand cooked potato chips and mixed vegetable chips, Tyrrells USA currently offers five flavors that are completely plant-based.

Tyrrells leaves the skins on their spuds which provides more fiber. The potatoes are then thick-cut and cooked in small batches, spun in their Big Spinny Thing™ to remove excess oil, and finally tossed with their special seasonings, none of which are artificial (source). The result is a crispy chip with a pleasant amount of flavor. This company has some spunk and I like it. A quick look at their website alone was enough to convince me!

Oddly enough I have not had the opportunity to try Tyrrells English Chips until now, even though they are sold in stores all over the United States. So, without further ado, here is my review of their five plant-based potato chip flavors:

Tyrrells Lightly Sea Salted Chips Lightly Sea Salted
These chips are exactly as described. With just a touch of salt, Tyrrells Lightly Sea Salted chips have less sodium than your typical bag of chips. In fact, 1 ounce of these chips provides 70mg sodium, whereas the same serving of another popular brand has a whopping 170mg! If you want to have your chips and eat them too, this would be the flavor to choose.

Tyrrells Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar Chips Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar
Tyrrells lovingly describes their Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar chips as having a “burly kick,” and boy, do they! With three kinds of vinegar seasoning these chips, they are sure to please any vinegar-lover and would go excellent alongside something sweet. I envision these chips being crumbled atop a fresh salad with sweet dressing.

Tyrrells Sweet Chili & Red Pepper Chips Sweet Chili & Red Pepper
I was expecting these chips to be too hot for my sensitive tongue, given that they contain cayenne pepper and jalapeño chili pepper, but was pleasantly surprised to find that they give off just a slight kick as an after-note. With just a touch of sweetness to accent the slight kick, I find this flavor to have a nice balance of sweet, salty and sassy.

Tyrrells Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper Chips Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper
Black pepper is often the more dominant flavor in a chip, but these chips provide a nice balance of salt and pepper and are perhaps my favorite of the bunch. These Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper chips compliment any sandwich or soup, and even have the most protein out of the five flavors I’ve tried: 6.3g per serving to be exact!

Tyrrells Veg Chips Veg Chips
Rather than using traditional potatoes, Tyrrells uses beetroot, carrots and parsnips for this version of their chips. With only 5 ingredients total (including the aforementioned vegetables), these Veg Chips are slightly sweet with a bit more salt than the rest; 170mg per serving, to be exact. I prefer a little less sodium but that doesn’t mean these chips are any less tasty.

Potato chips are becoming increasingly popular in recipes and serve as an excellent stand-in for salt, breading and toppings. Fashioned after traditional shortbread but reminiscent of Russian tea cakes or Mexican wedding cookies, these light and airy Potato Chip Pillow Cookies utilize Tyrrells Lightly Sea Salted Chips and are sure to satisfy your sweet (and salty) tooth.

Potato Chip Pillow Cookies

Potato Chip Pillow Cookies
Yields approximately 14-16 (2-1/2 inch) cookies

1/2 (5.3-ounce) bag Tyrrells Lightly Sea Salted Chips
2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups solid butter-flavored vegetable shortening
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Pour chips into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until thoroughly crumbled. Combine with flour and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.

Add flour mixture and stir on low until combined.

Scoop mixture out onto a clean, flat, lightly floured work surface and roll out until 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 2-1/2 inch circles (or whatever size you prefer) and place cookies at least 1 inch apart on a baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until very light golden brown. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before consuming.

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NOTE: The products noted above were free samples provided by Tyrrells, which has no affiliation with Vegan Food Addict. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely that of Vegan Food Addict and do not necessarily reflect that of others.

Product Review and Recipe: FoMu Ice Cream

8 Jun

FoMu Premium Alternative Ice CreamOne thing I love about the vegan lifestyle is that many of those involved are committed to the environment, and the folks at FoMu are no exception. Specializing in premium alternative ice cream, the company’s ingredients come from local sources, their disposables and packaging are compostable or recyclable, and their stores are built from recycled materials (source).

Based out of Watertown, MA, FoMu (short for “faux moo”) started making and selling their gourmet ice cream in 2011. FoMu’s products are 100% plant-based and certified kosher, using organic ingredients whenever possible, and sweetened with agave nectar and unrefined cane sugar. Not only are their ice creams, toppings and inclusions made from scratch, most of their ice creams are coconut-based, some of which are free from gluten and nuts.

Upon first glance at their list of ice creams, my interest in FoMu was piqued when I noticed flavors such as Avocado and Bourbon Maple Walnut. Alcohol in ice cream? Yes, please! Should you not be the adventurous type when it comes to ice cream, have no fear, among their current selection of 21 flavors, FoMu offers classics such as Mint Chip, Strawberry and Vanilla Bean.

If you don’t live on the east coast, this will come as great news to you: FoMu ships their ice cream to nearly anywhere in the Contiguous United States! With summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to enjoy some of this sweet, creamy goodness.

FoMu Banoffee Pie Ice Cream Banoffee Pie
The word I would use to describe this ice cream is magical. FoMu’s Banoffee Pie is a banana and toffee ice cream studded with dark chocolate chips and graham crackers. Basically it is a pie turned into ice cream. Clever! The various inclusions in this ice cream go very well together, with each bite giving you different flavors to enjoy. Banoffee Pie is perfect for anyone, especially the kids.

FoMu Cake + Batter Ice Cream Cake and Batter
Tied for first place as my favorite FoMu ice cream, Cake and Batter is vanilla cake batter ice cream with chunks of homemade cake. I find this particular flavor to be refreshingly sweet, and the chunks of chocolate cake bring it to the next level. This is one of those ice creams that someone could easily eat a whole pint of if left to their own devices. It’s sinfully delicious!

FoMu Dark & Stormy Ice Cream Dark and Stormy
The most creative and mature ice cream of the bunch, Dark and Stormy is fashioned after the popular cocktail, which features dark rum, ginger and a hint of lime. With a softer texture, this gluten-free ice cream is ready-to-eat right out of the freezer. Upon first bite, Dark and Stormy has a strong ginger flavor, which is a bit overpowering for my tastes; however, this ice cream is an excellent choice for those who like the spice. The ginger provides a very slight kick, which is accented by the rum undertones.

FoMu Salted Caramel Ice Cream Salted Caramel
I like salted caramel and am somewhat of a self-proclaimed caramel snob. There is a particular sweet to salty ratio that needs to be met in order for me to approve of it. When I tried FoMu’s Salted Caramel ice cream, I was very impressed! The salted caramel flavor is excellent and keeps me going back for spoonful after spoonful. One minor thing I noticed, however, is a slight burnt aftertaste. Depending on how you look at it, it can be a good thing as it adds an extra dimension of flavor. This gluten-free ice cream is tied for first place as my favorite of the bunch.

I’ve always enjoyed going against the norm by having breakfast for dinner, so why not have dessert for breakfast? Feeling adventurous, I wanted to try melting one of FoMu’s ice creams and using it in pancake batter…it worked! These pancakes are gluten-free (if you use a gluten-free ice cream) and can be flavored with any ice cream of your choosing.

Banoffee Pie Ice Cream Pancakes
Banoffee Pie Ice Cream Pancakes (pictured above)

Gluten-Free Ice Cream Pancakes
Yields 8 (5-6 inch) pancakes

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1/2 cup + 4 teaspoons gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup + 4 teaspoons potato starch
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon gluten-free baking powder
pinch salt

Wet Ingredients:
3/4 cup gluten-free FoMu ice cream, melted*
1 cup regular unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons canola oil

In a medium-size bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir just until combined.

Heat a non-stick frying pan or pancake griddle over medium heat. Pour approximately 1/3 cup batter into the pan.

Allow pancake to cook for 30-60 seconds, or until bubbles form and edges lose their gloss. Flip over and cook an additional 30-60 seconds on the other side. Remove and place on a paper towel-covered plate.

Repeat until all batter has been used. Allow to cool slightly before consuming.

*There are currently four FoMu ice cream flavors that are not gluten-free: Banoffee Pie, Chocolate Brownie, Cake and Batter, and Cookie Dough.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Pancakes
Salted Caramel Ice Cream Pancakes (pictured above)

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NOTE: The products noted above were free samples provided by FoMu, which has no affiliation with Vegan Food Addict. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely that of Vegan Food Addict and do not necessarily reflect that of others.

All About Asparagus

1 Jun

Asparagus

Asparagus officinalis, or simply asparagus, is a flowering perennial and cousin to garlic and onion. Native to Africa, Asia and Europe, asparagus is not only enjoyed as food but is also used in medicine due, in part, to its diuretic properties (source).

Grown in saline soils, asparagus crowns are planted in winter, and shoots begin to peek out of the soil in spring. White asparagus, which is the same botanical variety as green asparagus, obtains its color via a blanching process, which involves covering the growing shoots with soil in order to prevent photosynthesis from occurring. The result is a pale, less bitter, tender shoot sometimes referred to as “the royal vegetable.” Purple asparagus differs from the green and white varieties in that not only is it a different color, it was developed by means of a different process. Asparagus is typically cultivated when young, otherwise the shoots can become woody in texture.

Providing a plethora of nutrients, asparagus is a very good source of beta-carotene, chromium, copper, dietary fiber, iron, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, rutin, selenium, thiamine and vitamins C, E and K. Also a good source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and zinc, asparagus is low in calories and sodium, and is made up of approximately 93% water (source).

Asparagus is very easy to prepare. Simply spray it with a light coating of oil, sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then bake in the oven until crisp tender.

Interesting fact: In Turkish, asparagus is called “kuşkonmaz,” which literally translates to “bird can’t land.” This is in reference to the shape of the vegetable.

Carrot Cake Smoothie

19 May

It’s no secret that a great deal if us have what we lovingly refer to as a sweet tooth. We crave sugar, which is a carbohydrate that our bodies convert into energy. The most beneficial forms of sugar to consume are unrefined sugars that occur naturally, such as in fruits, sweet vegetables, and liquid sweeteners such as raw maple syrup.

Cake happens to be one of my favorite desserts. With its sweet flavor and moist, soft texture, I find myself craving it…and often. When I want cake but not the guilt, I typically choose something like carrot cake; this way I am getting a serving of vegetables. One medium-size carrot contains approximately 2.9g sugar, which is a little over 1/2 teaspoon (source). With their low glycemic index, carrots are excellent for those who are watching their blood sugar levels. For more information on the health benefits of carrots, check out my Whole Wheat Carrot Zucchini Muffins post.

Below is a recipe for a healthier carrot cake in smoothie form. Made with pecans for a hearty texture and sweetened with maple syrup, this smoothie can be enjoyed any time of day, especially as an after-dinner treat. Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Smoothie

Carrot Cake Smoothie
Yields approximately 2 servings

1-1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
3 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (16-ounce) bag carrots, peeled and sliced with ends discarded
2/3 cup whole pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender* and puree until smooth.

*If you do not own a high-speed blender (i.e. Blendtec or Vitamix), first process carrots and pecans in the bowl of a food processor until finely chopped. Pour mixture into a blender and add remaining ingredients, pureeing until smooth. Add extra almond milk for a more liquid consistency.

Ethiopian Chickpea Salad

9 May

In Ethiopian culture, fasting is common on various days of the week and during certain times of the year. During their fasts, Ethiopians refrain from consuming animal fats, which is one of the reasons why their cuisine is so veg-friendly. Utilizing legumes and vegetables seasoned with various spices, many these dishes are referred to as wat, a curry or stew-like dish. Because silverware isn’t common in Ethiopian culture, wat is scooped up with a type of sourdough flatbread called injera (source).

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are often used in Ethiopian cuisine and are one of the earliest cultivated legumes. Ethiopia is currently the sixth largest producer of these legumes and most commonly uses them in wat and salads (source). One cup cooked chickpeas provides 13% DV Potassium, 48% Fiber, 30% Protein, 26% Iron, 10% Vitamin B6 and 19% Magnesium (source).

This simple Ethiopian Chickpea Salad is light and refreshing, and makes for an excellent side dish to any meal.

Ethiopian Chickpea Salad

Ethiopian Chickpea Salad

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 shallots, peeled and minced
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Heat 1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until caramelized, approximately 1 minute. Remove shallots from pan.

Heat remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil in pan and add chickpeas, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown, approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Place remaining ingredients in a bowl and add shallots and cooled chickpeas. Stir to combine.

Product Review: VBAR

2 May

Benefit Foods LogoBenefit Foods is an environmentally conscious company that buys locally, supports family owned businesses, uses 100% compostable packaging and purchases carbon off-sets to reduce its impact on the environment (source).

Offering clean foods made from responsibly sourced ingredients, Benefit Foods introduced the VBAR in 2012. A line of energy bars free from gluten, soy and GMOs, VBARs are as minimally processed as possible (source).

As of this posting, there are seven VBAR flavors, which I have been given the opportunity to review. I’d like to begin by saying that I really like the texture and consistency of these bars. Not only do they remind me of rice krispie treats due to the crispy rice cereal contained within, they have just the right amount of moistness and remind me of homemade granola bars I grew up with, but without the corn syrup! Sweetened naturally with sorghum syrup and fruit, these energy bars are a healthier option and have a base of either almonds or sunflower seeds for added protein.

Almond/Blueberry

Perhaps my favorite flavor of the bunch, Almond/Blueberry has pleasant blueberry undertones with just enough sea salt to heighten the sweet, slightly sour flavor of this bar.

Almond/Chocolate Chip

With its natural antioxidant properties, chocolate not only lends a healthy helping hand but also provides more of a dessert-like feel to this bar. The Almond/Chocolate Chip bar has almond bits and chocolate chips and is up there in my top three.

Almond/Cherry

Tart cherry seems to be in these days, and I feel this bar nicely encompasses the flavor without too much tartness. The nice sweetness of this bar balanced out the slightly tart undertone.

Almond/Fig/Carob

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen figs and carob together before, and I’m usually not much of a carob fan, but this flavor was actually very good. Perhaps this is because the folks at VBAR lovingly make their own. Needless to say, I enjoyed this flavor and it is my second favorite.

Sunflower/Cashew

Primarily a sunflower-seed base, this bar has a few cashew pieces thrown in for added protein and crunch. Pleasantly sweet just like the rest, I wonder if this bar could be kicked up a notch with some cashew butter added into the mix so that cashew is a little more in the forefront.

Sunflower/Cranberry

Having a couple of samples of this flavor, I found that I didn’t taste much cranberry, but this is quite possibly due to the fact that the samples were bite-sized. The flavor and texture were excellent, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Sunflower/Ginger

Upon first biting into this bar, I noticed the taste of sunflower seeds. After chewing, there was a pleasant ginger flavor that arose with just a tiny hint of a kick. Ginger is something that is easy to over-do but VBAR has added just enough to make it nicely accent the sunflower seed butter.

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NOTE: The products noted above were free samples provided by Benefit Foods, which has no affiliation with Vegan Food Addict. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely that of Vegan Food Addict and do not necessarily reflect that of others.

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