Tag Archives: carrots

All-You-Can-Eathiopian

Truth: I kind of hate living in this part of California–in the endless sea of suburbia stretching out from the center of Los Angeles. Granted, the weather generally rocks, but I won’t be crushed in three months when it’s time to leave Claremont and start my life somewhere else. Nonetheless, as long as I am here, I sure as hell am going to hit up as many vegan restaurants in the city as I can.

This quest continued two weekends ago when my friends Stephanie and Tori and I almost effortlessly (Hey–have YOU tried driving on LA freeways?!) made our way into Little Ethiopia.

We were headed to Rahel Vegan Ethiopian Cuisine at the glowing recommendation of Quarry Girl. And we were happy we did!

Ethiopian. Good. Vegan Ethiopian. Very good. All-You Can-Eat Vegan Ethiopian for under seven dollars. Um, hello?!

For any of you who don’t know, Ethiopian food is by far the most fun cuisine to eat! It consists of various stews, a.k.a. wots, that you scoop up with pieces of injera, a spongy sourdough pancake-like bread made of fermented teff flour. No utensils are necessary. Isn’t that how we all really want to eat anyways?

My favorite wots are always the lentil ones. Rahel’s lentils weren’t as amazing as those at my local Tempe Ethiopian joint, Café Lalibela, but they did the trick. As you can see in the above photo, there were both red and yellow lentils, as well as cabbage and string beans dishes. Also, below: a carrot/potato stew, collards, and–my unexpected favorite–eggplant!

That green sauce was wayyy too spicy! But it sure was pretty.

Since the injera under our food got a bit soggy, we used additional rolls of it to scoop up the food as we ate, leaving a colorful collage at the end of our meal. I think it looks like a snowflake. An insanely delicious, savory snowflake.

I say no trip to LA is complete without a stop at Rahel. The service, atmosphere, prices, and food were all out of this world. Or at least this country. ;)

Advertisements

Raw for Dessert

I was recently contacted by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee with the opportunity to review one of their many vegan cookbooks! Being a fan of some of the BPC’s classics–such as The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and Becoming Vegan–I was more than happy to take advantage of the offer, and gleefully requested a copy of Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet.

I love raw desserts. Not only are they easy to make and incredibly healthful, but they generally seem to feature more unique, creative, and exciting combinations of flavors and textures than their cooked counterparts. I’m not gonna lie–I love me a good chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, but sometimes a raw chocolate brownie, rich and dense, can do the job just as credibly.

Before I get to the recipes I made, I just want to say that this book is laid out really nicely, and it truly runs the gamut of the dessert world in its 7 chapters: Basics (mix-and-matchable creams, sauces, frosting, and crusts that many of the subsequent chapters require), Fruit Desserts (ranging from simple strawberries soaked in orange juice to the more complex Banana-Caramel Crumble, which I made), Sorbets, Ice Creams, and Sundaes (whether you want Concord Grape Sorbet or a Knockout Brownie Sundae, this chapter’s got it!), Cakes, Cookies, and Bars (Cheesecake, brownies, etc.), Pies and Tarts (which includes a pumpkin-less Pumpkin Pie that I’m dying to try), Creamy Desserts (you probably thought you’d never have crème brulée again after going vegan, but what about a raw Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée?!), and Candy (Truffles and stuffed dates galore!).

I tried to cover the book’s variety in choosing my review recipes, so there’s a little of everything!

First up, Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Talk about crack in spherical form. Made from coconut oil, dates, maple syrup, and cocoa powder (okay, so these aren’t quite raw due to the last two ingredients, but they’re a heckuva lot more raw than what I’d be eating otherwise!), these little gems were melt-in-your-mouth sinful.

I made half of them with the traditional cocoa coating, and half using the coconut variation that the recipe provides.

Next time I make these, I might try the curry variation. My mom vetoed it this time around, but what does she know?!

Along with the truffles, I made some Pine Nut Caramels. Who knew that dates, pine nuts, and vanilla were so sexy together? These caramels lived up to their name–buttery, sweet, and, well, caramel-y!

Leaving the Candy chapter, I also explored Fruit Desserts by making the Banana-Caramel Crumble, and, boy, did I choose wisely.

Bananas are mashed with a Shortbread Crust, then topped with a date-cashew butter-maple syrup caramel sauce, and finally with more crust crumbles. I took Cornbleet’s suggestion and placed the crumbles in a slightly heated oven so that they would “warm up,” while still remaining raw.

The crumble was quite sweet, but given that it’s served in small ramekin-sized portions, it’s just right. My family and I agreed that no one would ever know that this dessert was raw without being told.

In my last post, I mentioned that I made a raw carrot cake to go with the standard carrot cake for my sister’s birthday. What I was actually referring to was the Spice Cake from this book, to which I added some grated carrots, and frosted with Vanilla Cashew Cream. Lucky for you, the Book Publishing Company has given me permission to share one recipe, and I knew it had to be this one.

Raw Spice Cake with Vanilla Cashew Cream
Yield: one 6-inch cake (8 servings)

Cream Ingredients
1 cup cashews, soaked for 8 to 12 hours (1 1/4 cups after soaking), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup light agave syrup or maple syrup (I used maple)
1 vanilla bean, seeds only or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used extract)

Ahead of time: Soak the cashews for 8 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse. Soaked cashews can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Place the cashews, water, and agave syrup in a blender and process until very smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla bean seeds and process until well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Vanilla Cashew Cream will keep for 5 days.

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup raw almonds (unsoaked)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup raw walnuts (unsoaked)
1 cup raw pecans (unsoaked)
8 pitted medjool dates
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup raisins
1-2 carrots, grated (my addition!)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or dark agave syrup (I used maple)

Place the almonds, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add the walnuts and pecans and process until finely ground. Add the dates and orange zest and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Add the raisins, maple syrup, and carrots and process briefly to incorporate.

Line a 6-inch cake pan with a parchment-paper round. Pour the nut mixture into the pan and distribute it evenly. Press down with your hand to compact.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan. Invert, then lift the pan off. Remove the parchment round.

Frost with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Covered with plastic wrap, Spice Cake will keep for 5 days stored in the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

This cake is wonderfully dense, moist, and rich, so a little goes a long way. The orange zest was an especially nice touch–every bite was full of its vibrant flavor. Paired with the velvety sweetness of the cashew cream, this cake was dreamy.

If you didn’t get the message yet, this is a book that’s worth buying. Whether you’re an omnivore, vegan, or raw foodist, you’ll flip over these and countless other recipes. Plus, as far as I could see, none of the recipes called for a dehydrator, which, if I may generalize based on my own experience, can be frustrating for the average raw food amateur. As far as I’m concerned, Raw for Dessert blows Ani’s Raw Desserts (the only other raw dessert book I have) out of the water!

What are you waiting for? Go make some raw cake! If you’re still skeptical, check out Hannah’s, Celine’s, Bianca’s, and aTxVegn’s reviews!

Lean, Mean, and Nineteen

So my baby sister turned 19 a few days ago! We went shopping during the day, and to her favorite restaurant, Pita Jungle, for dinner.

We don’t do birthday desserts at restaurants though.

Instead we come home to homemade cake–in this case, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from The Joy of Vegan Baking.

This cake is quickly becoming our go-to birthday cake recipe. It’s perfectly moist and sweet (and the icing ROCKS), but, making it with whole wheat pastry flour as we always do, not totally unhealthy.

In decorating, I decided to go for the “Alice in Wonderland” look, because, if you know me at all, you know that the only thing I like more than peanut butter is Alice. :)

I also made a raw carrot cake for me to have since I’m trying to go easy on sugar and gluten right now (of course, everyone else had a little of it too, but they were mostly too full of the baked carrot cake to really have a slice). I’ll post about it soon (maybe with the recipe!) when I review the cookbook that it’s from.

I bought Olivia an intense Phoenix Suns plush blanket for her birthday. This girl is obsessed with the Suns (I’m talking watches-all-the-press-conferences and often-cries-when-players-get-traded obsessed), and is always complaining about the cold at Colgate, where she goes to school in central New York, so this blanket seemed like the perfect gift to both appease her and shut her up. ;)

To Olivia: a year older, but as weird as ever.

Dorm Room Dinners: Indian Feast

This is the first of a series of posts I’ll call “Dorm Room Dinners,” even though sometimes, it might be lunch. The point being to give you a look–or taste!–at how easy and delicious it is to be vegan, even on a dining hall meal plan in college. Sure, the quality’s not comparable to what you could produce living at home with your own kitchen (plus, I feel like, a year and a half into being vegan, my cooking skills have gotten to the point where I usually prefer my own handiwork to the meals I get–and pay more for–when I eat out anyways). Still, with a little creativity, dining hall food can be quite enjoyable.

Here’s a recent lunch from Pomona’s dining hall, Frary (it’s our “Harry Potter” dining hall…see for yourself!)

I got some Indian-spiced mixed vegetables (cauliflower, celery, carrots, potatoes, green beans, and onions) and stewed lentils from the regular buffet line, and steamed asparagus from the “Farm to Fork” vegetarian/vegan section. I brought them back to my dorm room in my reusable plastic take-out box, and rounded out the meal with half a microwave-nuked sweet potato (I know, I know, but I don’t have an oven!), drizzled with coconut oil, cinnamon, and sea salt.

Life could be worse.

More Vegan Brunch: Muffins and Frittata

So I’m still steadily making my way through Vegan Brunch – don’t you worry. First up, Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins! Made with half the fat (hello applesauce!) and a little bit of whole wheat flour because I ran out of spelt at 1 3/4 cups…

These muffins had such a nice springy texture and didn’t crumble apart in the slightest. Spelt’s the best, yo. And who can resist those bursting trickles of bluebie juice and little nubs of crystallized ginger peeking out of that muffin top?

I also made the Curried Cauliflower Frittata. This was good, but I didn’t loveee it.

I added an extra carrot because adding extra veggies is always better, but besides that, didn’t make any changes!

Here it is after inverting it. I kind of liked the first way better though…maybe I just don’t know what a frittata is supposed to look like?…

I definitely thought it needed a bit more salt, and the curry flavor was a little bit strong (to be fair though, Isa does warn that you might want to decrease the curry powder). The worst part of it was that I started making it with my friend Jo, but she had to leave halfway through and never got any. Sorry, Jo. Good thing it wasn’t amazing, or I would have felt really bad!

So, this post isn’t just brunch! I have a cookie recipe too. I made some significant changes to an old recipe I had lying around. I made these for a democratic event that my mom was volunteering for, hence the picture after the recipe. These cookies are delightfully chewy with a crisp exterior, and the lemon-cranberry-almond pairing – er, tripling? – is to die for! The banana flavor is subtle, but there. Enjoy.

Oatmeal-Lemon-Cranberry-Almond Bundle Cookies
(Adapted/healthified from my school’s coffee house’s recipe)
Makes two to three dozen

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 cup sugar
2 bananas
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roasted almond slivers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer, combine the sugar, banana, EB, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix well. Gradually add the dry ingredients, finishing with the cranberries and almonds. Form cookies into small balls and slightly flatten on a lightly greased baking tray (they won’t spread much at all). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops turn golden brown (they’ll firm up a lot on the tray, so don’t overbake them!)

More Simple Food, "Crummy" Muffins, and Magic Cookies

Today’s post is almost exactly the same as yesterdays: simple (yet delicious) flavors for me, and some decadence for my lucky family. :)

I had the same mango-banana-papaya-coconut smoothie as yesterday (also with flax seeds, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice), but I took a picture today so you can see its lovely shade (and my adorable baby bowl that I recently purchased from Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe).

A great smoothie strategy I’ve discovered lately is using extracts to pack flavor without extra calories. For example, in the above smoothie, I used a 1/4 tsp of coconut extract, which imparted a rich, yet calorieless coconut flavor to my smoothie (instead of coconut milk, which, though healthy, is pretty fatty, and in a smoothie with so many other flavors, I can do without i). I’ve also used almond extract – my favorite smoothie with it being cherry-almond. Obviously, vanilla goes with everything (especially PB smoothies!). I can’t wait to experiment with maple/coffee extract when I eventually get my hands on them.

My family requested muffins for brekkie, so I made the Apple Crumb Muffins from You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan! I’m actually not a HUGE fan of crumb toppings on muffins–they just annoy me when they get everywhere), so I didn’t mind making these when I couldn’t have them. Plus, I love the act of baking in itself so much, who cares?!

This recipe is loaded with a delicious apple-maple-cinnamon-“buttery”-flavor, or so I heard, haha. I made 10 muffs instead of 12 to get the tops, but, as you’re about to see, that didn’t work out too well…The tops just broke right off (I think the crumb topping weighed them down too much, so they couldn’t really achieve their full potential and sturdiness). Behold the saddest muffin of the batch:

OMG, I know. You don’t even need to say anything. But, they weren’t all like that, I swear. See?

For lunch I had the exact same chickpea-brown rice-kale bowl as yesterday, but for dinner I switched things up a little and had red quinoa with cumin, lime, cinnamon, raisins, and hemp seeds with green beans, peas, and leftover white sweet potatoes. I decided to go sauceless because I think that cuke-yogurt sauce goes better with the rice and chickpeas.

Extra cinnamon on top!

My mom requested cookies after dinner (they request a lot, don’t they?), so I whipped up Magic Cookies from the same cookbook as the muffins (You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan!). Now, these. THESE, I was jealous of not being able to eat. As in, the monster of jealousy inside me was greener than the peas in my detox bowl.

These are everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of cookies, loaded with carrots, pecans (and walnuts because I ran out), oats, chocolate chips, and coconut flakes. You’re supposed to make them really large (the recipe says 9 cookies per batch, and it’s NOT an unusually small amount of batter), but even making them as big as the book says, I got almost double the amount of cookies out of this recipe–and had to almost double the baking time, weird. Can’t complain, I guess. Their size allows them to have a crispy exterior while being delightfully chewy in the middle (or so I imagine, again…). My fam raved about these and said I could become FAMOUS for them!

I think that when I’m finally able to make these for myself, I’ll use: carob chips, oats, pecans, carrots, sunflower seeds, coconut, raisins, and PEANUT BUTTER. Doesn’t that sound like an even lovelier combo. Get better, tummy, please!

Raw Week So Far

Hey guys! I’ve been wanting to update for about 2 days now, but I’ve been transitioning from Photoshop to Aperture and having some issues therein with uploading my photos. Anyways, as I said in my last post, I’m eating 100 % raw this week–well, just Monday to Friday because my mom and sister and I are going to a spa with wonderful (non-raw) vegan food in Tucson this weekend. My main reason being a general cleanse, I guess, but honestly I just think it’s fun and I have some raw cookbooks/recipes I’ve wanted to dabble in.

So far, it’s been great! And I’m sure under normal circumstances, I would be able to report feeling amazing eating only living foods, but it just so happens that I’ve sorta been having appetite/digestion issues the past few weeks, so I honestly feel pretty crummy. I went to my doctor about it today, so hopefully they clear up and I regain my desire and physical ability to pig out on amazing vegan food soon!

I started Monday morning with a Green Smoothie with spirulina! This was my first time trying spirulina, and I was a little squeamish of a potential fishy taste, but you really couldn’t tell it was there once blended with the other ingredients, which were mango, banana, spinach, and enough water to blend.

Spirulina, for those of you not in the know, is a supposed superfood–blue-green algae with unusually high amounts of protein (and a complete protein at that!), essential fatty acids, B vitamins (including B-12), various minerals, and healthy photosynthetic pigments. It really does turn smoothies a vibrant shade of deep green!

I think I just had a salad for lunch, but for dinner, I pulled out all the stops and made raw sushi: Carpe Diem Carrot Almond Paté Nori Rolls from Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, which has a lot of living recipes. Pre-rolling:

I filled ’em with zuchinni, carrot, and cucumber matchsticks, alfalfa sprouts, and cilanttro leaves. I also made an impromtu sauce to accompany them out of raw almonds, pineapple, shoyu, coconut extract, garlic, and some spices. It was pretty good if I don’t say so myself!

The paté was delicious–gingery carrot almond dill deliciousness!–and I thought the whole roll was good at first…but after a piece or two, I started to get some little gag reflexes, and I realized that I just can’t stomach the fishy taste of nori, which I’ve never had if you can believe it! I never even had fish as an omni (only shrimp), so that characteristic fishy taste is just really foreign and revolting to me. I can take it in small quanities, like in miso soup, but this didn’t fly! Thankfully, my dad promised to eat the other three servings it made in the near future, so I don’t have to feel wasteful.

We had some really good friends over for dinner that night, our old neighbors, Kerry and Jen, and their adorable kids, Jackson and Frannie. For the dinner party, I made Isa’s Raw Strawberry Cheesecake from the PPK blog. I halved the recipe because she said it made 16 servings (!), and as a result, mine was much thinner than hers…and less pretty, I know! :(

It’s basically a pecan-almond-date crust with cashew-strawberry-agave filling. I even messed up a bit, putting too many cashews (the ones meant for the frosting) into the filling, and it was still delicious! I was worried everyone would be too weirded out by a raw dessert, but thankfully I couldn’t have been more wrong–everyone loved it!

The crust is totally the best part. The sea salt in it makes all the difference, and contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of everything else.

Served in a pool of Strawberry Coulis:

For Tuesday’s breakfast, I had a yummy raw fruit bowl with mashed banana, mango, raspberries, figs, and dates, topped with leftover strawberry cheesecake filling and live granola that I made myself: Queen Esther’s Live Granola Funk from Vegan Fusion (seriously, what’s with these recipe names?!) It’s soaked buckwheat groats mixed with blended soaked dried fruit, spices, and sea salt. And the coolest part is that I don’t even own a dehydrator. Instead, I used the most natural dehydrator in the world: the sun! Living in Arizona has its perks! Most raw recipes call for dehydration between 104-115° F, which is pretty much all day, every day here!

My granola was a little too bland, but I think that’s because I used dried cherries instead of dates (thereby decreasing the sweetness a lot). Plus, in the bowl, you don’t even notice. You just get a nice crunch!

For dinner that night I made Aiyah’s Garden Living Corn Chowder from Vegan Fusion again! This was absolutely fab. Raw corn, avocado, onion, ginger, garlic, and cayenne blended into oblivion and topped with more fresh corn, red bell pepper, and flavorful cilantro. Dayummm. This soup makes me feel light and happy. Perfect for summer!

The only changes I made were subbing cucumber for celery and leaving out the jalapeño (and adding extra cayenne) because I didn’t have any of either. I don’t think it lost anything in translation! Tomorrow I plan on making raw chili and sweet potato chips! Yay! :)

I’ll try not to be better about posting from now on! I think all my photo importing/organizing/editing/uploading should be a lot quicker and easier with Aperture.