Friday, August 27, 2010

Super Power After-Workout Smoothie

This is my favorite smoothie. I usually make it after I work out because it's full of protein and electrolytes that speed up your recovery.

For most people, you don't need to supplement with protein after your work out because you're able to get enough protein from your diet. It's only when you workout for over 45 minutes most days of the week that your need to consider eating more protein.

However, since most vegans have to make a effort to get enough protein in their diet anyway, it's important that a high-protein supplement be added to your diet if you workout (I suppose I should start including references). Actually, a vegan protein smoothie is probably just a good idea regardless. Like as a snack or something.

I tend to use rice protein and out of all the brands that I've tried, I like this one the best. I think I'm going to try the chocolate soon. It's still a little bitter (like most rice protein is), so use can use 3/4 a scoop of powder for taste. I've also tried Peaceful Planet's African Vanilla Soy Protein, and it's vegan and tasty as well. I recommend it.

Okay, now that being said, here's my favorite after-workout smoothie. Feel free to sub with your favorites, though it will change the overall nutrition information:

Raspberry-Banana Protein Smoothie:
1 scoop Peaceful Planet African Vanilla rice protein powder (it's my favorite, tasty and affordable!)
1 Tb. shelled hemp seeds
1/2 frozen banana
1/3 c. frozen raspberries
1/2 c. coconut water
1/2 c. almond milk or homemade almond yogurt or plant yogurt of choice
Water or coconut water for consistency

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add ice cubes and/or a little extra coconut water to get your desired smoothie consistency! Tasty!!

The Breakdown:
Protein powder - 14 grams protein
Hemp seeds -  8 grams protein
Banana - 0.5 grams protein
Almond milk - 0.5 grams protein

I got a little thirsty between shots.

Yay!! A smoothie made of 25 grams of vegan protein! Awesome. Using half a container of soy yogurt instead of almond milk would bump the protein up to 27.5 grams.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homemade Egg Replacer

I found this on Fat-Free Vegan, and by golly it works. I made up a batch and now I won't ever have to buy the stuff again. The main reason I decided to make it was because the commercial egg replacer contains citric acid, a no-no for one of the people that will be eating the wedding cake. This homemade version is citric acid free. Bonus: now I have some fancy flours for trying out some gluten-free recipes (I think my friend Ally might enjoy them). 

Homemade Egg Replacer:
1 c. potato flour
3/4 c. tapioca flour (or starch, same thing)
2 tsp. baking powder

Combine all ingredients and mix until well-combined. Store in an airtight container.

1 1/2 tsp of mix + 1 Tbsp water = 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp of mix + 2 Tbsp water = 1 whole egg

I usually mix it up first, then add it to the batter, though I know some people don't. The original recipe suggests that you shake it up in a screwtop jar first, but I found that whisking it up in a small bowl worked just as well. 

Chai Spice Tea Cake

My best friend is getting married on Saturday and I have the honor of making her a wedding cake. Luckily, it's a small, intimate ceremony with about a dozen people, so I'm able to just make a 9-inch round layer cake. She was wanting a spice cake since it's almost fall and I offered to bake her two sample cakes: a chai tea cake and an applesauce spice cake.

I loved, loved, loved this chai tea cake. It's not that sweet, meaning I can eat it for breakfast (yesss!) and it has a nice, subtle spicy flavor that goes well with the whipped "cream" I made for it. I prefer this cake over the applesauce spice cake, though both a very good.

Since this was a tester cake I halved all the ingredients to get a small one-layer cake. The recipe posted however, contains the full amount of all the ingredients so you'll get two layers. The whipped cream-cream cheese frosting is a real fluffy type of topping, that was actually made for the applesauce spice cake. It's good, so I just like to dab it on this one, but a sprinkling of sifted powdered sugar is recommended for this cake (the cream cheese frosting recipe will be in the applesauce cake post).

Also, no-one at the wedding is vegan, but my friend has some dietary issues (no nuts, no dairy, low sugar) and the groom's mom is allergic to citric acids/citrus fruits. It was decided by the bride that a vegan cake was a very good idea. Anywho. This chai cake was awesome, and I'd like to mess around with this recipe again as a sort of breakfast coffee cake, because that would be badass. Just because I feel the need to be honest, this recipe is very loosely based off a recipe from Cooking Light magazine. I feel the need to emphasize very loosely, lol.

Note: Before baking the cake I prepared a 9-inch round. I sprayed the bottom and the sides with some nonstick spray and then I lined the sides with sections of parchment paper. Using the bottom of the pan as a stencil, I then cut a round piece of parchment paper and set that inside. Once the pan was entirely lined with paper I gave the bottom a quick spray with some more nonstick.


This makes it super easy to get the cake out and it also makes the bottoms and the sides come out perfectly. This step must be done if you're making a wedding cake because it prevents crumbly, ripped sides. Even if you're not making a wedding cake, a parchment bottom will keep the cake from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  

Chai Spice Tea Cake:
6 chai tea bags (I used Tazo brand)
1 1/2 c. coconut milk (use leftover coconut milk in the can, then add water or plant milk to make 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 Tb. rice vinegar
4 Tb. Earth Balance (1/2 stick), softened
1/4 c. coconut oil, melted then measured
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
Egg replacer for two eggs
2 1/2 c. cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla (1 tsp. if it's imitation vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to simmer. Add the tea bags and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, squeeze the liquid out of the tea bags, and place in the fridge to cool.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and sea salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the Earth Balance, white sugar, brown sugar, and coconut oil until combined. Mix the egg replaced with water, then blend that into the creamed sugars. Beat in the vanilla.

4. Add the vinegar to the coconut chai tea mixture and stir. Alternately mix in the dry ingredients and the chai tea mixture, beating until combined. Don't overbeat.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes. The cake is done when it springs back slightly and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Serve with sifted powdered sugar and a nice cup of strong black coffee!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

$21 Challenge: Lentil Stew

One of the meals I had in mind this week as a part of the $21 Challenge was lentil soup. Lentils are a very nutritious food: high in fiber, high in protein, and low in fat. They're also easy to digest, meaning they can be enjoyed by people of all ages. French lentils hold their shape when cooked so they're often used to added to salads. I didn't know it though, until I looked it up, that French lentils take longer to cook than any other variety of lentil. I was wondering why my soup was taking forever to cook! They're so small I thought they'd be done in a half hour, max, but it was closer to an hour. All well. Now I know!

In a 1/4 cup of dry lentils (which is about 1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked), you get 11 grams of protein, no fat, no cholesterol, almost 30% of your daily fiber, and 15% of your daily iron. Not bad considering a pound of green lentils only costs about $1. Saying veganism is expensive is ridiculous!

Lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking (I never soak them. I just roll with it). And like beans, salt or acidic ingredients (tomatoes, citrus juices) may prolong cooking. I add these ingredients at the end. Always rinse your lentils a couple of times and pick through them, you never know when you might find a pebble or two. In general, you should add 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of lentils, though this depends on the contents of your soup. I always add a lot of vegetables to mine so I have to account for them. Lentils usually take about 30-45 minutes to cook, but the red ones take less time and the French ones take more time.

Red (or pink or orange) lentils fall apart when you cook them, making a sort of hearty stew or pottage. Many of the people who don't like the texture of green lentils like the red. I think they also tend to have a milder flavor. If you haven't ate lentils before and you're just not sure about them you should try the red ones (or Progresso lentil soup in a can, it's vegan). 

Anywho. This recipe makes a very hearty stew. It uses all of the things I bought this week as a part of the $21 challenge. I'm not gonna lie though, I did have some vegetable broth on hand (it's so cheap to make homemade... practically free... it's made of scraps!) and some raw buckwheat groats were tossed in (I mentioned these in my raw granola post. I bought 4 lbs of bulk groats for like, $15 and I'm on my last pound). I also threw in a potato, but it was free since it was grown in a backyard. Lol. This recipe makes a lot of stew so you'll be munching on it for a few days. I like leftovers though, they're quick and easy.

Actually, coming clean here, this makes a shit ton of stew so feel free to halve this. I don't know how I feel about eating lentils for lunch and dinner for the next week... Also, this recipe does call for tomato paste which is like the annoying, awkward neighbor kid of ingredients, but I will be using it all up in my next recipe. So feel free to open that can! Oh, and if all else fails you can freeze it. It freezes good.
Quick! Hide!! He wants to borrow your bike again!

Hearty Lentil and Vegetable Stew:
1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
4-6 mushrooms, chopped fine 
1 tsp. of minced garlic
1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked through
1 potato, diced small
1 Tb. tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar
Celery leaves, chopped fine (I just pick off all the good ones)
3/4 c. raw buckwheat groats, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (you don't have to drain them)
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water or more, if needed
1 bag of spinach (10 oz.)

1. In a stew pot, saute onion, celery, mushrooms, garlic, celery leaves, and potato for about 5 minutes or until soft and fragrant. You use 1-2 Tb. oil if you have it, or you can use nonstick, or you can just use broth or water if you're doing the challenge.
2. Add the lentils, broth, tomato paste, sugar, and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add the diced tomatoes and buckwheat groats and return to a simmer. Let cook for 15 more minutes or until the groats, lentils, and potatoes are tender.
4. Add the bag of spinach and let it wilt, just a couple of minutes.
5. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Week Two: $21 Challenge

This week I made good use of my $21 dollars. I only had a couple things on my mind: something Mexican-ish, lentil soup, and cold cereal. I planned out the week's food because I found that in order to get the most use out of the limited amount of groceries you have, you need to plan meals around them. Many of the things I bought this week, such as the rice, lentils, onions, and cereal, will probably extend into next week. This will help give next week's meals a little more flexibility. Everything in the picture was bought at Aldi's except for the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, which are from Big Lots (they had a lot of soymilk at Big Lots, I was surprised. They always have good stuff there). The bulk lentils were from Whole Foods, which is a place I don't actually get to shop at. It's over an hour away so it was kind of a special trip and when I'm there I only buy stuff that I can't find in my home town. When buying in bulk, I only buy what I would use in the near future. This helps keep the price down. These French lentils equal about 1 cup, which will still make me quite a few meals. The brown rice and the peanut butter (not shown) were both from WalMart. Peanut butter is one of those items that I'm very picky about. There are only two brands that I like to eat. So yeah, we all have our quirks. :)


This week's grocery bill was as follows:

Aldi's:
Vanilla Almond cereal (like Special K) @ $2.29
Original flavor rice milk @ $1.59
       This is the correct price (a correct AWESOME price). In a previous entry I stated it to be higher than it actually was because I was going from memory. In the little grocery store in my head everything costs $2.29 or $2.89...
Authentic tostada shells @ $0.99
       These were on special for the week.
White mushrooms @ $1.29
Vidalia onions @ 1.99
       These were looking real pretty today!
Flat leaf spinach @ $1.69
       That is an awesome price for a bag of baby spinach.
Roasted red pepper hummus @ $1.69
       Aldi's has very tasty, all-natural hummus. I usually get the roasted garlic but that was all snatched up.
Pinto beans, 2 lbs. @ $1.29
       That's about $0.65 a pound for a low-fat, super heart-healthy protein source.
Celery @ $1.19

My subtotal for Aldi's was $14.77

Big Lots:
Tomato paste @ $0.33
        This price is cheaper than Aldi's (theirs is $0.39)
Diced tomatoes @ $0.50

My subtotal for Big Lots was $0.87. I love Big Lots. I need to start going there more often. They have lots of overstocked items and such, and the prices can't be beat. Also, if you look around, you'll find lots of organic foods there for much cheaper than the conventional ones! This week there happened to be a lot of organic beans and jams. I once saw a 12 pack of Amy's Organic soups there once for either $5.50 or $7.50, which is nowhere near the regular store price. Nothing is ever expired and they even get a lot of awesome import foods (like sweet British biscuits and cereals). Today I saw packaged soups that were like ramen noodles, only there were made of udon noodles. They were in vegan chicken and beef flavors and they had all the fun little packets of veggies and oil in them. If you have one near you and you've never been, you should definitely check it out.

WalMart:
Long-grain brown rice @ $1.99
Skippy Natural peanut butter @ $1.99
         I used a coupon from the Sunday paper for $0.50 off. The original price was $2.49 (umm, I think). I should've been paying attention!

Whole Foods:
French lentils, bulk @ $1.31
        This is an estimate, but I know that's about right. I got about a third pound of lentils and the unit price was probably about $3.99 per pound.

Add all these together and you get a grocery bill of $20.94 and a pantry full of delicious, healthy food. I will be making lentil soup and tostadas with these so I'll put those recipes up on here with pictures when I do. I'm having a lot of fun showing that you can survive on $21 a week as a vegan because really, it's the meat, dairy and eggs that are expensive!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Week One: $21 Challenge

Like I stated previously, I'm going to do the $21-a-week challenge for about a month (or longer) to get a better idea of my food budget and to be more conscious of the amount of money I spend on food. Although this challenge is a good idea, I feel that a week is too short of a length of time. Adding a second week onto the first would allow you to see how you spending decisions in the first week affect the second. But anyway, how am I doing you ask?

Well, Tuesdays are usually my grocery shopping days (I had actually been getting groceries on Tuesdays for like, a year, before I noticed a pattern!). I get paid biweekly but I save money back so that I can get groceries weekly. This allows me to have a supply of fresh produce in my fridge at all times. This past Tuesday though, I got really sick. I thought it was food poisoning at first (yes, vegans can still get salmonella) but all the preliminary tests came back negative. No-one knows what happened so a virus is now suspected. This is important because it has completely changed my grocery habits for the week and probably for the next. They want me on a BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) until I feel back to normal (which is hopefully soon). So because of this, my groceries of the week were as follows:

1. Cream of Rice at $2.29
      This is actually easier on my stomach and since a serving is four tablespoons the box lasts forever.
2. Store-Brand, No-sugar-added, applesauce at $1.37
3. Store-Brand Peanut Butter Toasty Crackers, an 8 pack for $1.88
      This is close to toast in my book.
4. Organic Rice Milk, plain flavor, at $2.29
      This was a super score at my Aldi's. I'm soy intolerant so I normally buy rice or almond milk.
5. Progresso Lentil Soup at $1.48
       I usually make soup at home but the oven's broke, I feel like crap, and I'm under budget this week, so what the hell. This is my lunch and supper today.
6. Bananas at $.39/lb.
       This was an Aldi's price. I got around 3 pounds of bananas so the total price was $1.24.

This puts this weeks grocery totals at $10.55 plus tax. This is unusually low, but that's because I didn't eat anything on Wednesday and my mom provided me with applesauce, plain oatmeal, and popsicles on Thursday (it was free and a one-time deal so I'm not including it, but even if you add it in I'm under my $21 limit). I will be getting groceries this upcoming Tuesday depending on how I feel.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The $21 A Week Challenge

I recently read a post on Vegan Hope where she brought up the idea of a $21-a-week challenge. Basically, she is challenging fellow vegans to eat $21, per person, for one week. This is basically a food stamp budget (and I think it's pretty accurate estimate of stamps here in Missouri).

Many critics of the vegan diet argue that it is "elitist", since healthy food can be expensive. It's true that many vegans are foodies who enjoy food and love to spend money on tasty things and expensive ingredients. It's also true that some tend to buy a lot of mock meats and processed foods which ARE very expensive. However, I think this challenge is a wonderful idea and it proves a very valuable point: eating healthy and living cruelty-free is attainable by everyone, regardless of their income. However, it does take planning and it does take some sacrifice. You many WANT that dried strawberry and almond organic granola, but for only 6 servings and $4 of your cash, it's just not gonna happen (especially if you're sticking to a $21-a-week budget).

I myself am very budget conscious. Although I have steady income, it's part-time only (they freak out if I work over 24 hours a week) and I'm a full-time college student. I live on my own and pay my own bills and I absolutely cannot afford to be extravagant with my grocery budget. Where I live we have an Aldi's , a Big Lots, a discount bread outlet, and that's about it. I shop sales and I look for bargains. I also tend to buy from bulk bins because it's cheaper and my legumes are always dried. We have no Whole Foods. We have no Wild Oats. There are no fancy bakeries or vegetarian restaurants, and the only farmer's market we have is a joke. So, it's not actually like I'm giving anything up or making any changes, I'm just going to be more aware of the money I'm spending.

Anywho, I'm recovering from a serious virus (that still might be food poisoning), so all this talk about food is kind of grossing me out right now, lol. I'll elaborate about what I'm eating and how much it's costing me at a later date. Probably Saturday. In the meantime, I have a few posts that have already been written that I'll post between now and then.

Overnight Oats

I love overnight oats. Actually, since it's sooo effin' hot outside, I've been eating lots of overnight oats instead of the cooked ones. Though I'm sure that will change once it starts getting cool outside.

I tend to make my oats with a variety of kinds. I use rolled oats and steel-cut oats sometimes (though I don't think these are actually raw. I'm not for sure.) and lately I've been using whole oat groats because that is what's in my pantry. These are raw. However, even if you aren't on any sort of raw mission, overnight oats make a damn tasty and filling breakfast. Also, if you buy the ingredients in bulk, this makes for a very cheap breakfast as well! You just can't lose!

If you're using rolled oats or steel-cut oats:
Place all the ingredients in the bowl and let it sit overnight or for a couple hours. For the steel-cut oats you can also soak them in water in the fridge for up to two days before using them.

If you're using whole oat groats:
Soak the groats in water with a few drops of lemon juice up to two days before using them. Since they are a raw food product, it's possible that they could become rancid, so if they taste bitter they're no good. Oat groats aren't naturally bitter.

So here's my favorite recipes for overnight oats. I always put coconut in mine. It's almost cruel that I live in Missouri because I think I eat coconut every single day!

Badass Groats:
1/4 c. soaked whole oat groats or steel-cut oats
1/2 c. almond milk (sometimes I use raw homemade milk, sometimes I don't)
1 Tb. raw almond butter
1 Tb. maple syrup (my almond butter has no sugar; maple syrup isn't raw)
1 Tb. shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 tsp. golden flax seeds
1 tsp. chia seeds
A few shakes of cinnamon
Sliced banana, optional

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor except for the banana and blend it for a few seconds. This helps to incorporate the syrup and almond butter.
2. Pour into a bowl, add the sliced banana, and enjoy. I usually let it set for a few minutes while I make my coffee to activate the chia seeds, but that's up to you! You can also process the banana, but I like the balance of textures.

 It really does look like rabbit food. Delicious, tasty rabbit food.

Superfruit Oats:
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. almond milk
1 tsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. golden flax seeds
1/2 Tb. almond butter
1/2 Tb. maple syrup
1 Tb. shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 banana, sliced
5 or so strawberries, sliced
1 Wheetabix, crumbled (it's like a large, shredded wheat biscuit only kinda flaky as opposed to shredded)

1. Combine the oats, almond milk, chia seeds, flax seeds, almond butter, and maple syrup. Put it in a covered container and stick it in the fridge overnight.
2. In the morning, add a little more almond milk, if desired, for texture along with the coconut, banana, sliced strawberries, and crumbled Wheetabix. Enjoy!

That's soymilk in the picture. I'm just sure of it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Easy Black Bean and Toasted Corn Tacos

I'm not gonna lie, I got this recipe from the May/June 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times. I love that magazine. Seriously. I've been a subscriber for years and I've never been disappointed by anything I've tried. These tacos are no exception. They're SUPER easy and quick to make and the only deviation I made from the recipe was leaving out the cotija cheese (well, and cilantro. I don't use it fast enough to justify buying it, so I leave it out. Also, cilantro in Missouri is always sketchy. I'm not sure why).

I figured since the recipe was free and available online, I'd repost it, but I strongly urge you to get a subscription to VT. Many of the recipes are vegan or easily veganizable, and lots of gluten-free recipes abound as well. It's the longest running subscription I've held, and I plan on renewing for a fourth time! Huzzah!

 Not my picture. Just saying.

Black Bean and Toasted Corn Tacos:
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, divided
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 12 baby spinach leaves (green leaf lettuce is also super tasty here)
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red pepper strips
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 2 small green onions, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese, optional (leave out to make vegan... just saying...)
1. Bring beans, salsa, garlic, and 1 tsp. cumin to a simmer in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium low, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft. Remove from heat, and mash with fork to crush beans for creamier filling, if desired.
2. Heat skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with olive oil cooking spray. Wrap corn in paper towels, and squeeze out excess water. Add corn to skillet in single layer, and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tsp. cumin, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, or until golden and crispy, stirring frequently.
3. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350°F. Toast tortillas in toaster oven 1 minute to soften. Alternately, bake tortillas on taco baking rack in oven 7 to 10 minutes, or until crisp. Fill each tortilla with 1/4 cup beans, 1/4 cup corn, 3 spinach leaves, red pepper strips, cilantro, and green onions. Top each taco with 1 Tbs. cheese, if using. Serve immediately, or pack into lunch container, and chill.

To find the original recipe from Vegetarian Times, go here.

Note: When I made these I also added paprika to the corn while roasting in the skillet to give it a little spice and I left off the cilantro (it's not my favorite) and the cheese, of course. Many authentic brands of corn tortillas are already vegan, so those won't be hard to find. I got a huge stack of refrigerated Mexican corn tortillas for like, $2 and they lasted in my fridge for about 3 months. They got me through lots of these tacos! I also microwaved the tortillas when I was in a hurry, but they truly do taste better if you stick them in the oven.

I took these tacos to work with me on a couple of occasions and every time I made them my co-workers were like, "wow! Those smell great!". I really think this is my favorite taco recipe ever. Try them, and have a great day!

Adventures in Yogurt Making

The hardest part, for me, about maintaining the vegan lifestyle is giving up yogurt. I love that stuff. Especially the Greek kind. Aside from the fact that it's high in protein (organic Oikos Greek yogurt has 25 grams per cup) and full of friendly bacteria, it's also pretty tasty with granola and fresh raspberries. I live in a small town, almost smack dab in the center of the United States. I've only met two other vegetarians in my life and not a single vegan so my options for convenient vegan food are pretty much nonexistent. When HyVee opened up, it brought in a new way of eating for this town's (very few) health-conscious people with their "Health Market" section and small selection of organic produce. HyVee does sell nondairy yogurt, the Silk brand, but it is kind of expensive and it just doesn't taste good at all. To me, it's nothing like the yogurt I missed, so I'd rather do without. They recently got the coconut yogurt, which I love but it's almost $3 a carton and it only has 1 gram of protein.

So what's a vegan girl to do?

Just make it my damn self.

This was quite an adventure, but I was very happy the way it turned out. Most of the yogurt in the US is made with thickeners and stabilizers, although some dairy kinds are thick on their own (like Greek, which has a lot of the extra water gone). My homemade yogurt was more like kefir, so I bought some tapioca flour to thicken it. In the end though, I decided that I liked it added to my smoothies as is (and now I have a pound of unopened tapioca flour in my pantry... hmm...). I was so proud of myself that when my mom came over for coffee I pulled it out of the fridge, "MOM!! SMELL MY YOGURT!!". She then held her nose, but I persuaded her and she was surprised at how lovely it smelled ("kind of like ice cream"). Anyway. Let's get started with the yogurt making.

Warning: Yogurt is a very picky process. That's why they have those fancy yogurt makers. I however, am poor, so I just used a crockpot and a candy thermometer. I think I would like to get a yogurt maker eventually, just because the crockpot method requires a lot of supervision. However, if you want to try it out, this method works fine. I have only used this method with Silk Almond unsweetened milk, which is already kind of thick. If you try this, keep in mind that it won't look like yogurt from the store. It will be thinner and more like kefir (a cultured, yogurt-like drink). This is a great way to get some more probiotics in your diet.

Step 1:
In a medium-ish sized crockpot, place a large, capped jar. Fill the crockpot with warm water up to the halfway point in the jar. Place a candy thermometer (or any other kind of thermometer) in the water, cover the crockpot, and place it on low. The water needs to be at 105-110 degrees the ENTIRE TIME the yogurt is incubating. The jar also needs to be prewarmed to this temperature.

Step 2:
For this recipe I used:
2 c. Silk Almond milk
1 Tb. starter culture (can be from a previous batch or from a vegan packaged yogurt)

This is a good ratio of milk to culture. Adding more culture will not make it more potent. It will actually make it less potent because the bacteria will crowd themselves out and die off.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk up to almost boiling. DON'T let it boil. I'm not really sure why, and it might be more related to dairy yogurt-making, but I don't want to risk ruining a batch, so I just do it anyway. Lol. I used a candy thermometer to check the temperature and I took it off the stove at about 200 because the temperature will continue to rise a little bit more. You will need to stir occasionally while the milk is on the stove.

 
After taking it off the burner, set it aside and let the temperature cool down to 105-110 degrees.

Step 3:Once the milk has cooled to the proper temperature, pour it into the prewarmed jar from the crockpot. Stir in the culture, cap the jar, and place it into the crockpot.


Step 4:
Incubate the yogurt for 3-5 hours. The longer it incubates, the more tangy it will be. You must check the temperature in the crockpot often in order to ensure that it says in the proper range. If it gets too hot or too cool the culture will die out. When the temperature got down to 105, I would turn the crockpot on low for about five minutes to let it warm up. The temperature will continue to heat up inside for a little bit so I usually turn it back off when it gets up to 108. I usually check the temperature each half an hour. Don't stir the yogurt while it's incubating.


Step 5: Once the incubation period is finished, place the jar in the fridge and let it sit undisturbed for 12 hours. After this time period is up, feel free to stir in any fruit, sweeteners, starches (such as tapioca flour), or protein powder. Once I'm ready to toss it in a smoothie, I just give the jar a stir and measure it into the blender. It will be thinner than store bought kind but it's good for your tummy. It will keep up to five days in the fridge.

I'm also going to going to try the easy way by stirring an opened probiotic capsule into some almond milk then setting it aside for a little bit. Eventually, I'll probably just buy myself a yogurt maker. Or maybe I'll get some water kefir grains and make some fizzy probiotic sodas like I saw on the Green and Crunchy blog (which is now, unfortunately, disabled and lost in cyberspace). Mmm. That sounds like a plan.

Has anyone noticed that I finally learned how to name a link? Bwahaha!! Also, once my oven gets fixed I'm going to make some French dip seitan sandwiches and some gingery, brothy things. I'm also going to make a bunch of potstickers and freeze them. I saw a video of Maangchi (ahhaha!! Link!!!) making some Korean dumplings and she made it look super easy. I'm not quite sure when I'll get around to it, but hopefully soon (actually, I think I'm just craving ginger because I miss my beloved raw ginger kombucha. I need it back on the market now!!).

Oh, and my mom's birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks. There was a tasty looking Japanese spread in the September issue of VT so I'm probably going to make that for here. I'll post about all that too. Have a great day!

UPDATE (2/20/2011): I've just ordered a dehydrator with an adjustable thermostat and removable trays, as soon as it arrives in the mail, I'm going to be making myself a batch of yogurt! I'm going to be doing an entire post centered around it!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Moffles!

So, it's been a little while since I last posted anything. My computer was completely fried. It was so slow and so messed up that I would just look at it and become irrationally angry (effin' computer...). Then one day, I made my butt sit down and get it together and here I am now (two whole days later!!!) with a computer that runs like when I first bought it. Know what this means?? More posts!!

First up, is moffles. Moffles are mochi (a Japanese sweet rice dough thing) + waffles. I bought me a package of cashew date mochi on my first trip to Whole Foods with the whole idea that I would make these. I saw a post on Vegan Crunk about these creations a long time ago and I had to try them. Unfortunately, there isn't a store in my area that sold mochi so I waited and waited, then I forgot about them. I just happened to stumble upon a package at the store when I was looking at the miso and promptly placed a package in my cart.

These were super easy to make and I was especially proud because I finally got that lazy waffle iron to get down to business. To begin, I cut myself off two servings of mochi with a sharp, heavy knife. I then cut each of those pieces into three more pieces to make little squares that were about 1 inch x 1 inch.


I then sprayed my preheated waffle iron with some nonstick spray. I imagine that mochi is the kind of thing that would get gooey and rip all over the place if you don't use a little spray. I placed the little squares in my waffle iron and let it do its business. Since the lid wouldn't go down all the way with the (cold, hard) squares in there, I just waited until the mochi had gotten soft enough for me to clamp down the lid. After clamping the lid down, I let the mochi cook until the waffle iron quit making so much noise and steam stopped coming out.

Once cooked, I ripped the mochi into little squares and then I served them alongside some hot maple syrup that had some Earth Balance melted in it (I'm a dipper). The mochi I got wasn't that sweet, even though it was cashew-date flavored. Also, it just seems more waffle-y if there is maple syrup and butter involved.


Verdict: I'm officially a mochi-lover. I ate moffles for breakfast everyday until the package was gone. It's the texture that wins me over. It's so nice and chewy and super easy to prepare. I wanted to bake them in the oven like the package suggests just to try it out, but my oven broke so I'll have to wait until next time. Definitely, definitely try it!