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Galaxy Nutritional Food’s New Vegan Cream Cheese – Chive & Onion

18 Jun

I’ve been really excited about Galaxy Nutritional Food‘s new vegan cream cheese since I read about it during the expo. Up until now, you’ve had two choices for vegan cream cheese… Tofutti or Follow Your Heart brands. From what I’ve read, most people seem to prefer the Tofutti out of these two, but I absolutely do not. I prefer the more accurate tang of FYH’s cream cheese, as well as sour cream.

A note: GNF makes both “veggie” and “vegan” cream cheese, though I’m not quite sure why. I know with some of their other products, the “veggie” ones contain cassein, which is milk protein, and the “vegan” do not. However, I read on GNF’s FB that both lines of cream cheese are vegan, and after comparing the ingredients of both [on their website], I’ve found that they’re actually identical. The website states that “veggie” is available at grocery stores, and “vegan” at natural food stores. Regardless, my whole foods is carrying the vegan in both flavors, plain or chive & onion, so I chose the latter.

Results:

I happened to have had a bagel this morning (i smuggled in some FYH cc in a little bit of aluminum foil to top mine with!) before I went to grocery shopping today [and found this], and had half a bagel leftover that was a perfect vehicle for this test drive.

I was immediately impressed with the texture. GNF’s texture is incredibly smooth and easy to spread. I decided to do a straight cream cheese taste. Again, very pleasantly surprised. I felt like I was eating actual cream cheese. The only thing missing is the distinctive tangy-ness of the real thing. I decided since I had some FYH left, to do a side by side comparison.

I was shocked at how the FYH tasted compared to GNF’s! In contrast FYH tasted fake, sweet and had a too firm texture. The tangy aftertaste was there, but it was no longer enough to carry it. The GNF was by far the winner, tang or no tang!

I tried both on crackers too, and still, GNF was the winner. In order for this to be more fair, I would have liked to try the plain against the plain, but the chive & onion sounded too good to pass up!

Thanks GNF for a fine new product!

VCIYCJ Peanut Butter Agave cookies with Chocolate Chips & Biscuits

17 Jun

I went on a big baking spree the other night! And it was all a sugar free! Meaning no refined sugar, but lower glycemic index natural sweeteners instead. I started with some simple biscuits, using agave in place of the sugar, and went on to bake some VCIYCJ cookies that used agave AND brown rice syrup for sweetness. They both used an almost 50/50 combination of unbleached all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour. Except the cookies were 1 c. unbleached AP, 1 c. ww pastry flour, and 1/4 c. brown rice flour. A. because I ran out of the other two B. because I wanted to try it out anyway.

Here are my results:

My biscuits turned out well, but I could have pulled them out a minute sooner. Maybe only 10 minutes with the agave?

I use a mesh strainer to sift my dry ingredients. Then I dump the last little bits of fiber left in it from the whole wheat pastry flour back in and mix.

Dough, pre-chocolate chips!

Chocolate chips in. Dough was super greasy at this point. Rounded tablespoons of dough smashed down with a glass bottom.

Two pans full! They were a little dry out of the oven and cooled, but after storing overnight, they are the perfect chewy consistency that peanut butter cookies should be. I was a little worried that it was that small bit of brown rice flour that dried them out, even though I did add an extra teaspoon of almond milk to try to balance it out. (brown rice flour absorbs more moisture.)

My fears were put to rest when two coworkers tried these yesterday, despite my warnings of them being fairly healthy. They liked them. Thumbs up. ; )

Enchilada Lasagna

14 Jun

So I’ve been messing around with this recipe in my head for a few weeks now. It had been written since last week, but it took me until tonight to take it for a test run. I’ve been really wanting to make enchiladas ever since I picked up the new Daiya pepperjack cheese, but hate the process of actually rolling enchiladas, so I went with enchilada lasagna. My goal was to make this a quick & easy, painless but yummy dish, so I used taco seasoning to simplify the sauce making. I like the recipe from Quick & Easy Vegan Comfort Food, but you can use a premixed one. This one contains chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, paprika, cumin, salt & pepper. I keep it in a small container in the cupboard.

Enchilada Sauce

2 c. water or veggie broth (or water + bouillon cube)
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 8oz can tomato sauce
2 tbsp. taco seasoning (i use the recipe from Q & E vegan comfort food)
1 tbsp. braggs or shoyu or tamari or reduced-sodium soysauce
2 tsp. liquid smoke

dash of hot sauce, optional

Filling

2 packages of crumbled tempeh
1 onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large pepper or 2 small peppers, your choice (bell peppers work well here. I used about 3/4 of a pablano pepper, because I happened to have one, and it was going bad, and I also used 3 chipotle peppers that I had sitting around in adobe sauce.)

2 tsp. braggs (or alternatives, see above)
1 tsp. liquid smoke
2 tbsp. taco seasoning
salt & pepper
3 tbsp. of enchilada sauce

Also…

4 large Tortillas or your choice, I used organic mutli-grain tortillas about 10″ in diameter, cut 3 into quarters and one into 6ths. (use the quarters for the corners and fill in the gaps with two of the sixths per layer.)

3-4 c. Daiya cheese, cheddar or pepperjack, or a combination of flavors including mozzarella, which is what I did

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350*F and grease an 9×13″ baking dish.

2. Mix together all sauce ingredients. (I used my food processor to chop the onion, peppers, and garlic finely.) Mix together all filling ingredients. You are ready to assemble.

3. Spread a thin layer of sauce to cover bottom of your prepared baking dish. Dip tortilla pieces in sauce and line the bottom of your dish with four quarters for the corners and 2 sixths for the middle.

4. Add half of filling mixture and 1/3 of cheese. Add another layer of tortillas dipped in sauce. Add remaining filling and 1 /3 of cheese. Top with last layer of tortillas, and pour remaining sauce on top followed by last 1/3 of cheese.

5. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. (I broiled it for just a couple more minutes too.) Eat!

Result: It’s kinda messy when you serve it, but man, is it delicious! : )

4th Generation Organic Market, Boca Raton

11 Jun

I decided that I was going to pick up some dinner for myself on my way home from work yesterday, and had a wonderful light bulb moment when I remembered that 4th Generation Organic Market existed, and right there in east Boca no less. It’s easy to forget about this place, because it’s just tucked away off of federal, but they have a lovely little cafe nestled in the back of this small market with LOTS of vegan offerings. I’d been here twice with my mom, but not for quite a while. We just tend to get into grooves as far as places to lunch.

I picked up a raw falafel wrap (I was craving falafel) and few other things to try.

I bought a couple of raw vegan “mozzarella sticks” $1.99 each. (Made with macadamias, probiotics, salt, onion, nutritional yeast, flax seeds, basil and oregano.)

These were about the size of my ring finger, so pretty pricey for the portion, but also pretty tasty. They definitely got the mozzarella stick taste they were after.

Here’s my raw hummus n falafel wrap, $9.99. (Made with zucchini, flax, salt, cayenne, sunflower seeds, sesame, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin seed, parsley, cilantro, garlic, sea salt, celery, extra virgin olive oil, and hemp seeds.)

I’d had this before, and it was really good. It also had lettuce, tomatoes, and sprouts. I only wish it came with a side of tahini sauce!

I also picked up two different dessert items. I’ve been craving cookies a lot lately and always enjoy a good coconut cake, so they were easy decisions to make.

The oatmeal raisin sandwich cookie was super good, $2.49. (Made with teff, sorgum, millet, quinoa, agave, coconut oil, potato flour, baking powder & soda, vanilla, oats, raisins, soy butter, powdered sugar and lemon.)

The little bit of lemon in the frosting was a nice surprise and complemented the flavors nicely with some brightness. It was only after I tasted it that I read all the wonderful ingredients. This was A+.

Organic Coconut cake, $5.99 for a HUGE piece. (Made with spelt flour, vegan butter, agave, coconut milk, coconut oil, confectioner sugar, coconut extract, coconut flakes, baking powder & soda.)

I didn’t realize until after I took a few bites how great the ingredients were. (and that’s when I went back and read the cookie ingredients too.) I was expecting one of those ridiculously sweet first bites that sort of turns me off when I choose to indulge in cakes and such. This was such a nice surprise, delicious, moist, so much coconut flavor, and subtly sweetened. This is the way I’m intending to bake from now on, when I do. No more straight up sugar in my treats. Absolutely NOT necessary!

If you’re local, I highly recommend adding 4th Generation to your lists of spots to grab snacks, sweets and/or a casual lunch or dinner. If you want to dine in, they have a little bit of seating next to the counter. They’re located at 75 SE 3rd Street in Boca Raton, just south of Palmetto on the east side of US-1/Federal. Open Monday – Saturday, 8-7, and Sunday 9-6.

Maggiano’s, Boca Raton – Custom Vegan Dish

9 Jun

So yesterday was my niece’s 16th birthday, and we had dinner at Maggiano’s in Boca. Upon hearing the location I immediately typed it into vegan eating out to find out how my prospects looked. Not fantastic, but not too bad. They recommended any of the “string” pastas (spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, etc.) and garlic and olive oil sauce. They also made a point of mentioning that they had no problem creating a custom dish with existing ingredients to meet dietary restrictions. I perused the regular menu to see what sorts of items they included in some of their signature dishes, and made a list.

This was actually really delicious. Fettuccine with garlic and olive oil, spinach, pine nuts, and sun dried tomatoes! Yum! Eating vegan when dining out can yield great results, it just takes a little bit of thought.

Cheeseless Pizza + Daiya = Happy Vegan Pizza

5 Jun

Okay, so there are quite a few choices for prepackaged frozen vegan pizzas out there now, most of which I think I’ve reviewed!  However, I still find that adding my own Daiya to either a home made pizza or a frozen cheeseless one still gives me the best results for my palate. I keep all 3 flavors of Daiya (though I still haven’t tried the pepperjack yet, but the reviews are awesome) in the freezer at all times. Keeping in the freezer lets you just use however much you need without the worry of it going bad after opening.

My two current faves are the Amy’s roasted veggie cheeseless pizza, and the 365/Whole Food house label personal size vegan cheeseless pizzas.

My frozen pizza making usually goes like this…

1. Preheat toaster oven. I use the convection setting. Remove pizza from box. Remove overwrap. Cut pizza box open and place pizza on it*.

2. Shake nutritional yeast, oregano, and crushed red peppers all over pizza. Top with preferred amount of Daiya cheese(s).

3. Bake 10 minutes. Cut into 4ths or 6ths or 8ths. Eat. YUM!

*this keeps everything clean. you can dress the pizza in the cut open box. put the pizza in to bake. shake out the mess, and then cut it back in the box. oh? you have some leftover? close the box, and put it in the fridge!

Gardein BBQ Wings

4 Jun

I’m not the biggest fan of Gardein’s chick’n products. (Their beefless tips are my fave.) Mostly because they remind me of eating somewhat overcooked chicken. Surprisingly (to me) though, it’s actually a big hit with ex-chicken lovers, or lovers of vegans who are also lovers of chickens. (Note: I stopped eating chicken a full year before going fully vegan, and it’s not something I ever miss. The only exception is Foodswings (nyc – vegan)  southern style bbq drumsticks. Man, those things are good.)

Anyway, back to the BBQ wings! ; ) These were really easy to make and done in a jiff. They tasted awesome, but that’s never a problem. Gardein does a really good job with all their seasonings and sauces. I just wish they’d make the texture on these things a little less dense! I made them in the toaster oven, and ate them straight outta the pan with a fork and knife. I know, I know, but cooking for just me is not all that inspiring. It’s more like, look, I fed myself, done.

Bocaditos w/ “Ham” Filling – Cuban Tea Sandwiches

3 Jun

One of the things I really needed was a vegan recipe for bocaditos. Especially before Christmas rolls around again. These are one of the hardest things for me to resist at my Cuban Christmastime. ; ) I’ve most often seen these served on an egg-type bread, which I will have to work out at a later date. Since it’s only June, I have plenty of time to perfect my recipe, and will currently be eating this smeared on some sprouted grain bread, or rather by dipping pieces of bread into it.

Note:  it came out just a little thinner than I wanted, but it’s still tasty. I’m pretty sure it was from the pimentos, and it was slightly overwhelming the flavor so I dropped down the amount in the recipe below. I’m going to keep thinking about additional tweaks for next time as I eat my way through this batch!

Vegan Bocadito Filling

1  5.5oz package of vegan ham slices (about 10)
2/3 c. vegan cream cheese
1/4 c. vegan mayo
1/4 c. sweet pickle relish
3 tbsp. chopped pimentos
1 tbsp. chopped pitted olives
2 tsp. dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cube ham slices and add to food processor. Pulse into well ground.

2. Add additional ingredients and pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Mix in a little pickle relish after blending for texture.


Video blogs?

31 May

You may recall that I included video in one earlier post, the results of my first Vitamix green smoothie.

Also, my regular post on how to cook black quinoa has turned out to be pretty popular.

So I was thinking… I may occasionally combine the two into how-to posts with video to make them even more useful.

Any ideas on what kinds of things you’d like to see?

Amy’s New Sonoma Veggie Burgers (Vegan)

28 May

Amy’s came out with a great new veggie burger recently that’s sure to be a big hit with a lot of people. Not only is it vegan, and thus dairy free, but it’s also soy and gluten-free as well. So what is it made of? Veggies, Quinoa & Walnuts. So not good for those with a tree nut sensitivity, but a great option for just about anyone else.

I didn’t get to dress them up as pretty as the serving suggestion on the box, and ate them straight off the plate instead. Still good, but I think they’re right, they’d probably be amazing with some avocado in sandwich. I tried them with balsamic dressing, ketchup and hot sauce, and mustard, (not all at the same time!) and they were also delicious on their own.

If you like quinoa, you’ll definitely like these, as that’s the most prominent flavor. Here’s a link to the nutritional facts.