Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

The Substitute Teacher Returns

A few months back some of you may remember I blogged a recipe I tried out for vegan cupcakes. They were affordable, super easy and healthy to boot. Well I did it again, only this time with chocolate chip cookie brownies! I did the same thing I did last time, just buying a premixed box but substituting the “bad” stuff for the “good” stuff. I used Betty Crocker’s Supreme Bar, Cookie Brownie mix which isn’t the healthiest, but with the substitutions a lot of fat, cholesterol and what not is eliminated, and some
good nutrients are added. When we substituted the egg we saved ourselves 80 calories of fat, and 340 mg of cholesterol! (The flax seed mixture has no cholesterol in it at all.) Plus like I have mentioned before in previous postings, flaxseed is really good for you. It contains a lot of fiber, lignans (which are natural antioxidants) and omega 3 fats. Not only did the flaxseed have no cholesterol but it also has been proven that flaxseed lowers harmful cholesterol already in your body. And obviously substituting anything for butter is going to be healthier.

For anyone who is worried about the brownies tasting different, have no fear because they taste exactly the same. The vegetable spread tastes just like butter, and the flaxseed egg substitute tastes like nothing. You aren’t missing anything by not having the egg because the egg is actually used
for taste, it’s just used as a binder. My husband ate the brownies and he definitely could not taste a difference.

You need:
Betty Crocker’s Supreme Bar, Cookie Brownie mix
For brownie batter: 2 tbsp water, 1/2 stick or 1/4 cup of Vegetarian Spread melted (I use Earth Balance), 2 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water to make one egg substitute
For cookie dough: 1 tbsp water, 1/2 stick or 1/4 cup of Vegetarian Spread softened

1. Heat over to 325 degrees. Grease your pan.
2. Stir the brownie mix with 2 tbsp water, melted spread and flax seed egg substitute in a bowl until well blended. Spread in pan.
3. Stir the cookie dough batter with the tbsp water and softened spread. Once a dough forms, drop teaspoons (or chunks like I did) onto the brownie batter.
4. Bake. Here is what it comes out to:
8″ x 8″ (shiny metal or glass): 50 mins
8″ x 8″ (dark or nonstick): 43 mins
9″ x 9″ (all pans): 42 mins
11″ x 7″ (all pans): 40 mins
13″ x 9″ (shiny metal or glass): 35 mins
13″ x 9″ (dark or nonstick): 27 mins

I would even check it before the suggested time, just to be sure. Also follow directions. The first time I made this I used a 13″ x 9″ for 35 mins because thats what it said on the box – however I used a dark pan – and ended up making a nice brick. Sigh. It was pretty devastating. My whole house smelled like fresh treats, but there were none to enjoy since biting into the brownie may have cracked my teeth.

Enjoy and have yourself a pleasant Tuesday! 🙂

Advertisements

Peanut Noodles are Yum.

My lovely friends, The M family grow their own vegetables in their garden! I love this. I also really love green beans. So what a lovely surprise when my husband came home one day with a bag of green beans from the M’s garden! I didn’t know what to do with them. Oh the possibilities. We could sauté them. We could stir fry. We could steam. We could chop. We could munch on them raw. Oh what to do. Well, I was overwhelmed by my options so I tossed the bag in the fridge and decided to deal with that situation later. Later came the following day when my husband deserted me and I had some alone (aka boring, spare) time and no meal.

Crap, was I actually going to attempt to cook for myself? Oy. Anyone who knows me, knows I am no Top Chef. Plus I have weird cravings almost daily. Like this night, I wanted peanut butter but I also wanted to eat those green beans while they were fresh. So I came up with a concoction! Yes, I, me, myself, yours truly made something. And no, I wish I could say I made everything from scratch, but I did not. I have to start somewhere, don’t judge. So here’s the recipe for my lovely Peanut Noodles & Beans!

Ingredients:

  • Green beans (canned, fresh, whatever!)
  • Lo mien noodles (you can get these literally anywhere. I suppose you could substitute the noodles, but I don’t really recommend it.)
  • Any type of peanut sauce (you can find these in the Asian food aisle at the supermarket).
  • Peanuts.
  • Obviously, you can also make your own peanut sauce-there are countless amounts of recipes out there-but if you are cheap and lazy like me-a bottle of peanut sauce from the store is perfecto.
  • Sriracha sauce.

Steps:

  1. Make noodles according to package (usually just boil water, put in noodles, 5-7 minutes, done!)
  2. At the same time, either boil to cook your green beans or stir fry them in a separate pan.
  3. Drain noodles, return them to the pot and stir in peanut sauce. How much is up to you, however I don’t recommend overdosing since this is a sauce, not a broth!
  4. Stir in the green beans.
  5. Put a squirt of Sriracha into the pot and make sure to mix that ish up, or your going to set your mouth on fire.
  6. Chop up the peanuts (I like to put them in a plastic bag and then have at them with something heavy) and toss that on top of your dish!
  7. Done. Easy as pie. Actually probably easier than pie!

For people who are looking for more protein and/or are less lazy than me, toss in some stir fried tofu, or other vegetables…this recipe is pretty versatile!

Have fun experimenting in the kitchen! That’s what it’s there for!

Don’t be Clueless about ‘The Kind Diet’

One of the best books that I’ve read in the past year is “The Kind Diet” by Alicia Silverstone. A lot of people literally judged this book by it’s cover…Alicia Silverstone, the actress, is going to write a dieting book? Oh brother. At least that’s what my brother in law thought. But no, it’s nothing like that.

I have known for many years that Silverstone was a vegetarian and an activist for all things eco-friendly so I knew that this book would be knowledgeable. And also, it’s not a diet book peeps. By diet she means “lifestyle” and “what you eat daily” not just a fad diet that you try for a couple months then drop.

I had originally picked up the book just to see what she would talk about. I guessed it would be about her diet and why it works for her, and ultimately why it can work for us. Well it is that, but more importantly it is jam packed with information about animals, the factory farms, the industry, and more. Half the book is full of facts, statistics and studies, then the other half is recipes. So really it’s a cookbook too.

And it’s funky (in a good way) because the recipes are divided into three parts. She has the Flirt section, which are recipes for people who just want to flirt and experiment with a diet without dairy or meat. Then there’s the “normal” section that is filled with your many vegan dishes. Then the last section, the Superhero is hardcore recipes for the peeps who not only can handle no meat, no dairy, but also no soy, and lots and lots of veggies and fruits. This is close to the macrobiotic diet, since a lot of things are raw and the recipes focus around local grown veggies, and not ones that are flown in from around the world.

A lot of the things that I know about veganism, animal cruelty, etc. I found from this book. I give Silverstone huge props, and respect her much more now seeing how she is actively trying to make a difference. The book also touches on our natural resources, waste, the rainforest, etc. Anytime that I need a refresher and remember why I don’t consume meat, I just reread this book. It’s such a motivator and inspiration. Below is an interview Silverstone did describing her book, why she is a vegan, and what “diet” really means to her. It’s an excellent read so if you are lounging around the pool, or sitting besides the lake this summer pick up this book. I highly recommend it.

Gelatin Vs. Agar

I usually don’t consume gelatin or anything like that because I find it to be gross but many vegetarians, even some vegans and most every day people will eat it because it virtually is nothing. Just gelatin right? Low calories and tastes good! Well do you know what gelatin is? Gelatin happens to be a collagen in animal’s tissues, skins and bones that has been boiled and combined with acids. And it’s usually from cows and veal’s cartilage and tendons. Now what’s even nastier? Most commercial gelatin, (think Jell-O) is pig’s skin. Pretty gross right? That’s why I don’t eat it. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the taste. And also sometimes I need that consistency in a dessert recipe. So what can we do? What do we turn to? Agar!

Gummy Bears = Boiled Pig Skin

A lot of vegans already know about agar but for anyone who doesn’t (which is mostly everyone) it is a substitute for gelatin for recipes requiring it. What is agar?  It is a gelatin like substance derived from red algae, which is seaweed. Sound gross? It’s not. Seaweed’s consistency is actually really similar to gelatin. Almost the same as Jell-o but a bit tougher and less floppy. The Asians have been using this for years to get gelatin like desserts. I have tasted it myself and think it’s just like Jell-o. But I’ve also tried seaweed too. (My mom served us seaweed all the time growing up!)

Gelatin

Agar

More benefits of switching? Algae is fat free, low calories, high in calcium (more than milk), high in iron (more than eggs), and can remove radioactive and heavy metals from your system (think Mercury). So it’s pretty cool that you can have your dessert and health benefits too! Can gelatin do this? Gelatin is known for it’s protein (since it is from meat after all) so studies (although I don’t know how extensive) have shown that it can promote stronger nails and hair.

So for any ladies out there wanting to get stronger nails and hair, you could eat gelatin or you could take a multi-vitamin! You can still make signature recipes too…Agar Shots, Agar Cakes, etc. 😉

You can find agar at health stores, Trader Joe’s, or supplement shops.

When is it safe to NOT go organic?

When it comes to fruits and vegetables it seems that going organic sometimes means going more expensive. So how do you know when it’s really important to go organic and when it isn’t? Well think of the things you eat in it’s entirety, like grapes, apples, strawberries, spinach, salad, etc. These things can have left over pesticides accumulated on them. Even if you wash them thoroughly (which is all about what you can do), it’s a safer bet to just buy these things organic. To know that they were never sprayed with chemicals is just reassuring.

When it comes to things that you don’t eat in it’s entirety, say bananas, lemons, oranges, etc. you can definitely go conventional if its easier on your wallet. Although it’s probably best to try to get everything organic, I know that that’s not always practical.

Now I want to address potatoes because lots of people think that these are just fine conventionally and to an extent they are. They are fine conventionally grown if you plan on peeling off all the skin anyways, like to put into a soup or making fries, but ideally you should be getting potatoes organically. Why? Because the skin is very nutritious for you and you should be eating it! In the skin alone there are many nutrients (like vitamin C) and a lot of dietary fiber. Also when you leave the skin on, it preserves a lot of the nutrients in the potato that usually wool have escaped during the cooking of the potato. So when it comes to potatoes you may want to consider leaving the skin on, and buying them organic to get the safest potato. I know I love to eat my whole baked potato, even though my husband thinks I’m nuts! But really it’s so good! When you bake the potatoes, lightly drizzle some olive oil on the skin and a dash of sea salt and voila! Yummy potato skin that’s also good for you!

The Substitute Teacher

So you already know I am frugal. So today I attempted to make a cheap vegan cupcake. I love doing things as cheap as possible, but due to my laziness I also love it when they are easy on top of it! A lot of vegan cupcake recipes I have read involve too many ingredients for me or involve too much time. I found a very simple way to make vegan cupcakes and what is great about them is that they cut so many calories, cholesterol and other bad things that anyone, vegan or not, will appreciate them! On top of that it took close to no time at all to make! I’d say the whole thing, including baking time only took 20 minutes.

My helpers and also taste testers were the two lovely children that I nanny. These two kids do not eat anything. They don’t consume enough nutritional food in their diets and also have way too much sweets. They are beyond picky and do not have any variety in what they eat. In my eyes? Perfect taste testers!

(This is my assistant. The midget was very excited for the frosting.)

To be as simple/lazy as possible I used whatever I could that was already in the house. And you can do that too. I think if I were to become some cupcake artist I would probably look into more natural ingredients and find different products. But as I’ve said this was made without any additional purchases! Very frugal!

To begin with we used:

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix (Yellow) -We had this in the pantry and I decided this would work just fine. It also happens to be vegan! The original recipe on the back of the box requires a full stick of butter, vanilla and three eggs, and those are the things that I substituted in my version. Whole Ground Flaxseed -Any brand will do. This replaces the eggs by being a binder in the mixture to keep the cake from crumbling. It’s also full of great things that I will mention later on. Hungry Jack Lite Syrup -If I had my choice I would have gotten organic maple syrup but since we had this I went for it. At least it is Lite! Organic Unsweetened Apple Sauce -You can really use any brand of apple sauce. Canola Oil -If you don’t have it, vegetable oil will work too. We had Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Vanilla frosting which is deadly but I cut the servings in half and saved 75 calories per cupcake. And this brand is vegan!

Here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

Your box cake mix.

3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed with 3/4 water (The general rule is for every 1 egg in a recipe = 1 tablespoon flaxseed ,mixed with 1/4 water.)

1/2 cup applesauce.

2 teaspoons canola oil.

2 teaspoons maple syrup. (Acts as a binder.)

2/3 cup water.

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease your pan (for cake) or use paper baking cups for 12 cupcakes.
  • You can hand beat the cake mix, water, flaxseed mixture, maple syrup, canola oil and apple sauce until all the lumps are gone. Pour into your pan.
  • Bake! Remember to test your cupcakes with a tooth pick to make sure it was cooked all the way!
  • Frost!

Hard at work!

12 cupcakes: roughly 20 minutes. 9” round pan: roughly 43 minutes. 9” x 9”: roughly 35 minutes. 8” x 8”: roughly 38 minutes.

Easy isn’t it? And the great thing was they were super healthy! In this version the cake mix itself contributed less than 250 calories per cupcake and 0% cholesterol. The serving of frosting I cut in half, saving us 75 calories. Here’s a whopper; If we had used the stick of butter that would have been 810 calories and 92 grams of fat! Since we used applesauce and a dash of oil we only had 130 calories and 10 grams of fat! Holy smokes. When we substituted the eggs we saved 330 calories and 1020mg of cholesterol! Using the flaxseed we only had 90 calories and 0 cholesterol! As if that wasn’t good enough flaxseed contains lots of fiber, (only 4 grams of flaxseed is equal to 1-1/2 cups of oatmeal! Only 4 grams! We used 20 grams!) lignans, (which are natural antioxidants! Its like we ate 30 cups of broccoli!) and omega-3 fats. Not only did the flaxseed have no cholesterol but it also has been proven that flaxseed lowers harmful cholesterol already in your body. How super is all that?

Test taste results:

(My Diego and Dora gave me an A+!)

The kids knew no different. They loved it! Both kids devoured their cupcakes! I also liked it. This cake was a little more dense than a regular yellow cake, so it almost tasted like a muffin. I think next time I would even get rid of the frosting altogether and use an organic strawberry or raspberry jam! Try it for yourself or come up with another variation! It’s fun!

End result:

Other pictures:

Flaxseed + Water should look like this. Kind of gooey and clumpy.

Diego and Dora had to have sprinkles.