28 May 2012

Blueberry Cheezecake Popsicles

So this is the final week of the So Delicious® SO Much to Love Giveaway recipe contest. It's dessert week! As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I have a dessert1 recipe featured... and up for voting, starting today. It turned out to be a rather fortuitous contest scheduling arrangement, as the recipe happens to be a frosty popsicle treat - perfect for this balmy Memorial Day holiday.
Creamy, fruity, refreshing, and LOW sugar!!


Aaaand... here's the recipe for your Memorial (or any!) Day enjoyment. Simple. Decadent. Very low sugars - none of which are refined, of course.
Missing the "crust" element? Layer some crushed (GF/Vegan) Graham Crackers between the cheezecake and blueberry.

Holiday idea: If you're into patriotically-themed foods, a layer of strawberry could be added, for a red/white/blue look.

Blueberry Cheezecake Popsicles
(makes 4)

For the Cheezecake

  • 1 (15oz) Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 3/4 Cup So Delicious Original Kefir
  • 20-25 Drops of Liquid Stevia (or 5-6 Pitted Dates, if you're not into stevia)
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
For the Blueberry "Filling"
  • 2 Pints Fresh Blueberries
  • 3-4 Pitted Dates
You will also need...
  • 3oz Cups & Wooden Popsicle Sticks or
  • Popsicle Molds

Chill the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. This will allow the coconut cream to separate from the liquid.
Once chilled, scoop out the thick coconut cream, leaving the clear liquid behind.

Soak all of the dates in 1/4 room temperature filtered water for 10-15 minutes. If the dates are somewhat hard, they may need to be soaked a bit longer.

Blend the coconut cream, kefir, stevia (or dates, if you're using them), vanilla, and sea salt in a blender until completely smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and set in the fridge, while you prepare the blueberry filling.

Blend the blueberries and dates in a food processor or high powered blender until the dates have been fully processed and the mixture is  smooth. Transfer the filling to a separate bowl, and chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Both mixtures should have thickened in the fridge. The blueberry filling will have developed an almost solid, jelly-like consistency - give it a quick stir, before putting the popsicles together.
Assemble the popsicles by layering the cheezecake with the blueberry filling. Start with a layer of cheezecake, followed by a layer of blueberry, and topped with another layer of cheezecake.

Gently insert the popsicle sticks - the mixture(s) will be thick enough to allow them to stand upright on their own - , and freeze the popsicles until solid.


1. Naturally.
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25 May 2012

Raw Tempura Maki Rolls

Before I adopted a vegan diet, and even before I became a vegetarian... way back when I was still a small child, I never cared for fish. It was the fishy-taste. Fishy sugo was the worst. I hated the baccalĂ  that appeared in our sugo every Christmas eve, and you wouldn't have caught me anywhere near a plate of linguini alle vongole. Barf.

So what? Right? I've been vegan for more than half of my existence at this point. Why am I even blathering about fish/seafood?1
One of those chlorophyll/iodine/protein-rich weeds of the sea.2 You know, the ones that, if harvested from the right sources, are a great addition to a healthy diet.

I actually ate ALL of these.
Except...the first time I tried nori, I spat it out.3 I knew it was nutritionally dense, I wanted to be able to add it to my diet, but it was just too fishy. I couldn't stomach it. Until one day, my friend convinced me to accompany her to a sushi restaurant. She knew I was vegan, but insisted I would be able to eat something. I told her I had a hard time with nori, and she insisted I would be fine.
She wasn't entirely wrong. She introduced me to inari (rice stuffed in a tofu pouch), which I thought was pretty darn cool, at the time. She also encouraged me to try an inside out roll. I was skeptical, and slightly concerned.
With the rice on the outside (and slathered in wasabi), the nori inside was barely detectable.

This was uber-exciting, and I proceeded to incorporate nori into my diet by way of various inside-out veggie rolls. Somehow, I must have developed a tolerance, if you will, because years and years later, I found myself enjoying sheets of roasted nori... alone. I even chew chlorella tablets and add kelp flakes to salads.4
I say tolerance because every now and again, a little too much "fish-taste" comes through, or I get a bite of salad with a high concentration of kelp flakes, and I can't handle it.
Although the complete recipe does require a bit of pre-prep, you can certainly take a few short cuts, and still turn out5 a delicious roll.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this batch was the high-raw pseudo-tempura version because I didn't want to wait to dehydrate the tempura, and I used SeaSnax Wasabi Seaweed Snacks to make the rolls. SeaSnax are roasted but they're still amazing because unlike other nori snacks, they contain NO canola oil or maltodextrins - just nori, olive oil, salt and wasabi. YUM, indeed.

These rolls are a combination of conventional and non-conventional ideas/ingredients. White rice is nutritionally empty, so it's right out. Brown rice is ok, but it's neither my favorite nor something I would make at home. I would probably have used quinoa, but I wanted to make raw rolls... raw rolls that weren't based heavily on nuts and seeds.6

I have an effective little "trick" to soften/tenderize the asparagus, without using salt/tamari/aminos... freeze it.
Yep; that's it. Easy, eh?
Simply freeze fresh asparagus spears for 1-2 days, then allow them to thaw at room temp. They end up soft(er), almost as though they've been cooked... uh... except they haven't been. It's pretty neat.

That's just what I did with these little guys. However, as I mentioned above, I didn't want to wait for the dehydrator this time, so I just tossed the tenderized asparagus with the dry tempura ingredients until they were coated. The recipe shares the full tempura directions :-)

Raw Tempura Rolls
(serves 3-4)
  • 1 head of Cauliflower
  • 2 (large) Portabella Mushroom Caps (stems removed)
  • 1 Avocado
  • 5 stalks of Asparagus (frozen, then thawed)
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (or Unseasoned Rice Vinegar, if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp Coconut Nectar (or 3-4 drops of Liquid Stevia)
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Flakes 
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/4 Cup Ground Chia or Ground Flax Seeds
  • Dehydrated nori sheets (I used SeaSnax for this batch)
  • Raw Sesame Seeds (optional)
Cut the cauliflower head to remove the florets, then cut away the extra stems from the florets. A bit of stem is OK, but there should be very little.
Cut or crumble the florets into small pieces and add them to a food processor fitted with an S blade.
Pulse the cauliflower until it is evenly processed into a consistency resembling rice. It's fine if the "grains" are smaller; it's more important that they are mostly uniform in size. Although, it's difficult to over process, but it's still a good idea to take your time, in order to get the best consistency.

Transfer the cauliflower rice into a separate bowl. add the vinegar, coconut nectar (or stevia), and an extra 1/2 tsp of filtered water. Toss the mixture until the liquids are evenly distributed. Cover and allow the cauliflower to marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Slice the portabellas into thin strips. Place the strips in a shallow dish. Add the coconut aminos and gently toss to make sure the all the mushroom strips are evenly coated. Cover the dish and allow the mushrooms to marinate in the refrigerator.for 1-2 hours or overnight.

SHORT CUT #1:  Forget the marinating time, and skip straight to assembly.

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, combine the shredded coconut and nutritional yeast. Process for 30-60 seconds, or until the coconut reaches a finer consistency. Take care not to over-process.
Stir 2 Tbsp of the ground chia into the coconut mixture.

Add the remaining ground chia to a medium-sized bowl, and stir in 1/2 Cup of filtered water. Continue stirring as the mixture begins to thicken, to avoid lumps. Allow the mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes.

Once the chia mixture has thickened,  "batter" the asparagus spears by dipping them in the chia "egg" mixture, and then rolling them in the dry mixture, until they are evenly coated. Arrange the coated asparagus on a dehydrator tray lined with the mesh/screen fitting.
Dehydrate at 110F/ for 2-3 hours, or until the "tempura" is dry and crisp. The idea is to get the coating as dry as possible without shriveling the asparagus.

Cut the asparagus to match the length of your nori sheets. Since I used the SeaSnax, I cut mine smaller but allowed extra length on the pieces with the spear end, so it would stick out of the top, and look cool.

Cut the avocado in half, and slice each half into thin slices. I make the slices directly in the skin, and then carefully scoop the flesh out of the skin, so it comes out already sliced. Super-easy, and really helpful if the avocado is soft and ripe.

SHORT CUT #2:  Skip the chia "egg", and forget the dehydrating. Roll the damp, cut asparagus in the dry tempura ingredients, and add it to the roll.

Lay out one sheet of nori onto a flat surface. If you're using larger sheets, a bamboo sushi roller, would be helpful. Again, since my sheets were small, I was able to hand roll them easily. It was also not necessary to cut the rolls into pieces once they were finished.
  1. Spread an even layer of the cauliflower rice over 1/2 of the sheet (or 3/4 of the sheet if using SeaSnax). 
  2. Arrange one asparagus spear, 1-2 slices of avocado, and one slice of mushroom in the center of the rice. 
  3. Carefully roll toward the riceless edge of the nori sheet, and allow the edge of the nori to seal itself to the roll. The ingredients should have dampened the nori, making this step quite simple.
Repeat the steps above for each roll.

If using standard nori sheets, use a sharp knife to cut the roll into bite-sized pieces.
Sprinkle the rolls with sesame seeds, if desired. Serve as-is or with pickled ginger and wasabi.


1. Well, I do still find the smell pretty nauseating.
2. Aren't I clever?
3. I also have a grappa story that goes something like that.
4. Ohmygosh. Who am I??? Seriously.
5. I suppose "roll out" is more apropos here.
6. And I have to avoid sunflower seeds now anyway :-( 
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16 May 2012

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

First, I'd like to take a moment to extend a most heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who voted for my Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bake in last week's SO Much to Love recipe contest. I'm grateful and sincerely humbled by the support and effort extended by each and every one of you!
I did not offer recipes for this or next week's voting, but So Delicious did select my other recipe to be included as well. It will be featured in the final (dessert) week of voting. I will post details (and the recipe), when the voting week begins :-)

Because you are all so amazingly awesome, I would like to express my appreciation with cinnamon rolls! Well... Cinnamon Roll Muffins, to be precise.

I suspect I must have had a traditional cinnamon roll, at some point before adopting a Vegan diet; although, I honestly cannot remember. They definitely weren't a foodstuff we made/bought when I was growing up. By the time that cinnamon roll franchise began popping up in every shopping mall, I was already well into veganism.
As I write this, I'm struck by the feeling that I did try a vegan (albeit gluten-y) cinnamon roll many many years ago. If that did happen, I suspect it was probably dry and lackluster, or I'm sure would have sought out more of them.

I'm rather fond of cinnamon. I love the scent that permeates the area around those aforementioned cinnamon roll franchises - despite not being even remotely vegan-friendly. I'm certainly not alone. I don't know anyone who dislikes the scent of cinnamon.1 Studies have shown that the scent of cinnamon elicits positive, warm feelings, and other studies indicate that some people find the scents of cinnamon, vanilla and lavender sensual.2

Well, there is no lavender in these muffins, but there is a touch of vanilla and plenty of cinnamon. In addition to evoking all those lovely, warm feelings, cinnamon (when consumed) has proven to balance blood sugar levels.
Buckwheat flour gives the muffins an additional fiber and protein boost. It is is also a great source of Manganese, Magnesium, and Iron. Pretty cool for a little groat.3
With additional fiber, protein and EFAs from the chia, and MCFAs from the coconut oil, the result is a filling, nutritionally-packed muffin that you could (more) confidently serve for breakfast.

I mean, let's face it; muffins (especially store/cafe/restaurant-bought) are generally not much more than glorified, oversized cupcakes masquerading as some sort of "healthy" breakfast food option.
I certainly don't mean to slam muffins.4 They can be done right, as a once-in-awhile breakfast option... and ideally when home-made.
But let me get off this soapbox, and get down to the recipe.

Naturally, these muffins contain no refined sugars, and, although cinnamon could help balance the effect of those unrefined sugars, they can also be made free of sugars - I've included those mods below.
Part of this batch was experimentally topped with an impromptu maple glaze (as seen above). The actual intent was to add an icing.5 However, the consistency remained syrupy, as I ran out of a crucial ingredient, so glaze it remained. I went non-traditional6 and used it anyway, although I will wait until perfect it, before I post any directions for it.
Still, the sweet-toothed BFF gave it a thumbs up. I thought the muffins were delicious sans glaze.

Cinnamon Roll Muffins
(makes 6 muffins)

  • 1/2 Cup (70g) Sorghum Flour
  • 1/2 Cup (70g) Buckwheat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup (60g) Tapioca Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Chia or Flax Eggs (2T Ground Chia or Flax + 6T Filtered Water)
  • 1/4 Cup (80g) Maple Syrup (OR 30-40 drops liquid stevia + 3T non-dairy milk)
  • 2 Tbsp Non-Dairy Milk (I used So Delicious® Unsweetened Coconut)
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) Virgin Coconut Oil (gently warmed to liquid)
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract (optional)
Cinnamon Paste:
  • 1/4 Cup (80g) Maple Syrup (OR 1/3 Cup [60g] Coconut Palm Sugar & omit Coconut Flour. For Sugar-free option use: 3T non-dairy milk + 20-30 drops liquid stevia)
  • 2 Tbsp (15g) Coconut Flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (22g) Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
Oven: 350F/180C
Bake time: 25-30 minutes

Lightly coat a muffin tin with coconut oil, or line with muffin cups.

Prepare the chia/flax eggs and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the Cinnamon Paste. Mix well, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients for the batter. Add the remaining wet ingredients - including the chia/flax egg - and mix well.
The resulting mixture should have a consistency somewhere between batter and dough - it should be thick and retain some shape but also still sticky and slightly "loose".

OK now for the fun part. You can swirl the cinnamon paste in however creatively you like (dollop it on to 7/8 full muffin cups, and swirl with a chopstick... whatever works for you!)
In order to get the spiral/swirl and maintain more definition between the muffin and the cinnamon, THIS is what I did:

Lay out a sheet of parchment paper.
Scoop approximately 1/2 Cup of muffin batter onto the parchment, and spread it out to approximately 6" wide; the length should be approximately the height of the muffin tin cups - more or less rectangular, but doesn't have to be perfect.
Gently and evenly spread a heaping tablespoon (or so) of Cinnamon Paste over the batter blob.
Using a (silicone/rubber-style) spatula or spoon, carefully roll the batter over onto itself to form a roll - you can use the parchment to help keep it together.
As soon as you've formed your roll, scoop, slide or plop your roll into a muffin cup. If you work quickly but carefully, you can maintain the integrity of the roll.

Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Serve warm.


1. I'd certainly be interested to know of anyone who has an aversion towards it.
2. Lavender really surprised me, to be honest.
3. Which, again, is not a grain :-)
4. Trash muffins in a muffin recipe post?? I'd never! Not to mention doing such a thing on a blog with other muffin recipes.
5. Cucina Libera-style.
6. When making non-traditional cinnamon "rolls", I suppose it does make more sense to just ditch tradition entirely.
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07 May 2012

My recipe in So Delicious' SO Much to Love Giveaway!

Remember a couple of posts back, when I was hinting at some recipes that would "soon be on the radar"?1
Well, I'm lifting the veil of secrecy :-)

I was thrilled to be invited to participate in So Delicious' SO Much to Love Recipe Contest/Giveaway.
Over the next four weeks, So Delicious Dairy Free will be featuring a variety of recipes to vote on for a chance to win fun prizes.

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bake
This first week’s contest theme is BREAKFAST. I'm more of a mix-n-go (raw protein powder, chia seeds, Green Superfood) sort, but the contest inspired me to create a hot breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bake. It's the perfect weekend breakfast. No need to be tied to the stove; just toss together a few ingredients, and go hang out with your loved ones.

I could use your help though, my lovely readers, as the winner is determined by reader votes
So... please vote for my recipe in this week’s So Delicious® Dairy Free SO Much to Love Giveaway!  You’ll be entered to win daily prizes just for voting, and if my recipe gets the most votes, you’ll be entered to win a great weekly prize!  

[Voting for this recipe has ended. Thank you for all the support!!]

Want to hear the even sweeter news?? Well, each time you vote, you’re entered to win the daily prize. At the end of the week, if your favorite recipe gets the most votes, you’re in the running for a weekly prize. Every time you vote, you are also entered to win the grand prize: A weekend for two at the Red Mountain Resort in Utah.

Voting for this week begins at 9 a.m. PST on Monday, May 7 and runs through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 13

Here's the recipe, if you'd like to try it out :-)

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bake
(serves 2-4)
  • 1 1/2 Cups (160g) Fuji or Granny Smith Apples - cored and chopped (peeled or unpeeled, depending on preference)
  • 1 Cup (160g) Uncooked Quinoa
  • 1/3 Cup (60g) Raisins
  • 2 1/2 Cups So Delicious® Almond Plus Milk (OR So Delicious® Coconut Milk Beverage)
  • 1/2 Tbsp (7g) Coconut Oil
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2-3 (20g) Pitted Dates (optional, for sweetening/add'l sweetening of the almond milk)
For the Topping:
  • Maple Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds (see below)
  • So Delicious Vanilla Cultured Coconut Milk or Vanilla Greek-Style Cultured Coconut Milk

Oven 375F/190C

Rinse the quinoa a couple of times, and drain well.

The sweetened Almond Plus milk provided enough sweetness to the dish. However, if you prefer a bit more sweetness or are using the Unsweetened Almond Plus, blend the dates with one cup of the Almond Plus in a blender until well-combined; add to the recipe as usual.

Combine all the ingredients in a 2qt casserole dish or oven-proof bowl. Cover with foil and bake on the center rack for 45-50 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and most of the Almond Milk has been absorbed.

Serve warm into bowls, and garnish with a dollop of So Delicious Vanilla Cultured Coconut Milk and a generous sprinkle of Maple Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds.

Maple Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds
  • 3/4 Cup (60g) Raw Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
  • 1 Tbsp (20g) Maple Syrup
  • 1/3 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • Scant 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
Combine all ingredients so that the pumpkin seeds are evenly coated.
Spread the seeds in a thin layer onto a baking sheet, and bake at 375F for 8-10 minutes - this can be done simultaneously during the last few minutes of the Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Bake.
Allow the seeds to cool for a few minutes, before serving; the maple syrup should have caramelized in the oven, creating a sweet, crunchy coating.

Thanks and SO much LOVE!2

1. It's OK, if you can't remember that far back :-) 
2. See what I did there?
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