Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Recipe: Raw Bourbon Vanilla Almond Milk

Fresh almond milk has got to be one of my all-time favorite vegan discoveries. The first few times I tried making it, though, I was ready to write it off as more trouble than it was worth. Now that I have access to better appliances I am back on the homemade almond milk train. What a difference a good blender makes!

More photos on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Raw Almond Milk
Appliances needed:
  • a fine mesh strainer
  • a bowl
  • a good blender or food processor (I much prefer my blender for liquid recipes, the processor is better for solids)
  • cheesecloth(available packaged in most grocery stores, I use 1 pkg per batch)
  • whole, raw almonds, covered and soaked a few days in fresh water or at least overnight
  • fresh water to add, 4 cups to every one cup of almonds
  • vanilla bean (optional)
  • agave to taste
  • Other great options: cinnamon, dates, or cacao powder for chocolate almond milk!!

1.  Soak: Make sure to soak your almonds and rinse them well afterward. Not only does this rid impurities and make them easier to blend, but check out this amazing fact from the Livestrong website regarding digestion:

~"Almonds contain an enzyme inhibitor in their brown skin that protects the nut until the proper levels of sunlight and moisture allow it to germinate. Since the nut does not release its enzymes until those conditions have been reached, eating almonds without removing the inhibitor limits the nutrients your body can absorb and makes the almond difficult to digest. By soaking almonds, you provide the moisture that makes the almond shed its skin and release its enzymes. The process works with most nuts and seeds." 
I will always soak my almonds before eating them, after learning that!

2.  Blend: 4 parts water to every 1 part almond. So, if you have a cup of almonds, add about 4 of water. Blend very well, and add agave or dates at this point. Hold off on using a vanilla bean or powders though, that one comes later.

3. Strain:  Fit a strainer over a bowl or large cup, then line the strainer with cheesecloth. Use large pieces, you don't wait any almond pulp slipping through the sides or up out of the top when you squeeze. Fill the cloth just full enough that you can still gather all the ends into one hand. Now, SQUEEZE! The milk should run out of the cloth, drip through the strainer for good measure, and reach your bowl pulp-free. Strain as many times as it takes, and restrain if pulp slips out (this is a fairly messy undertaking, so don't feel inadequate if you have to re-strain a bit ;)

4. Taste & Presentation: Pour your milk into a seal-able container (you can find attractive ones very cheap at most any store that sells kitchenware, for mine I re-purposed a water kefir bottle from the market. Mason jars work well, too). If you are using a vanilla bean, cut a slit up the side and stick the whole bean in before refridgerating. The flavors will seep out and mingle. This is also where you might want to stir in powders or spices, or add them by the glass with a blender as you go. Don't blend the bean though. 

More photos on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Your milk should keep refridgerated for about 3-5 days, though mine never lasts that long. I love using it in my overnight oats! Also, you can use all the leftover almond pulp to make delicious cookies, bread, smoothies, dips... or dehydrate it for almond flour.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mexican Pizza with Homemade Sour Cream

Wishing you all a belated feliz dia de independencia! I celebrated by polishing off the leftover of a series of Mexican pizzas I started this weekend, and topping it all off with delicious homemade vegan sour cream, which is the exact same recipe as yesterday's cream cheese- it amazingly works for both!

See more pictures on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Vegan Mexican Pizza (makes approx. 5, to serve right away or as delicious leftovers):
-5 whole wheat pitas
-1 pkg chipotle-flavored Seitan
-1 can low-sodium vegan black or re-fried beans (or sub soaked beans)
-1 small can green chilis
-1-3 tomatoes
-2-3 tomatillos
-2 small green onions
-shredded vegan cheese (Daiya "cheddar" works beautifully)
-salsa (I prefer chunky pico de gallo)
-small head red leaf lettuce
-vegan cashew sour cream (see yesterday's post here for the recipe!)
-cumin and/or vegan taco seasoning
-fresh cilantro to taste
Optional healthy fat: add sliced avocado
  • Pre-heat the oven to 425. I wanted crispy crusts, so I left the pitas in the oven as it was warming, flipping them once. Meanwhile, chop the veggies and rinse the beans if needed, and heat a little oil in a pan.
  • Lightly fry the seitan and tomatillos in the oiled pan with the garlic and green onion. Add the chilies, cumin/seasoning, and tomatoes at the end. Don't forget to remove the warmed pitas from the oven.
  •  Layer the pitas with beans and the mixture from the pan, plus salsa, vegan cheese, and lettuce.
  • Bake in the oven til cheese has melted and lettuce wilted, anywhere from 10-20 min.
  • Remove from oven and top with any extra tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and a generous dollop of vegan sour cream. Enjoy! Que te pases un buen dia!
See more pictures on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

See more pictures on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Monday, September 16, 2013

Homemade Vegan Cream Cheese/Sour Cream

Last night I made a couple of major discoveries.
The first was that I can make my own cream cheese/sour cream substitute at home with just some cashews and a few common ingredients.
The second was that they are the same recipe.

I made vegan, soy free and gluten free sour cream to add to a vegan Mexican pizza (delicious recipe coming soon). At first I was really taken aback by the flavor, probably because I was expecting it to be just like non-vegan sour cream, plus I'm not used to apple cider vinegar. I actually thought, "Ick." Then I tried some more. Then some more. Then more. I realized I was licking it off the rubber scraper, then diving back for even more.

I can't really describe how the flavor works. But it was amazing on the Mexican pizza, and also delicious the next morning on toast, as a cream cheese, with a fruity jelly.
I am really, really excited about it.

Homemade Vegan Sour Cream AND Cream Cheese:
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked a few hours or overnight
  • 1/4 cup fresh water
  • 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • juice of once lemon
  • dash of salt (optional)
See photos for steps! 1. Soak (then drain, of course!)  2. Blend  3. ServeI only had time to soak the cashews for about 2 hours, and it worked fine. I used the Magic Bullet blender, which made short work of things.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

How-To: Make Perfect Rice Every Time

Happy Sunday!
The weekend is always great for cooking work-week meals ahead of time. I am healthiest (and happiest) when Monday rolls around and my lunch is already ready to go. Since I eat a lot of veggies, I am often cooking grains to go with them. I don't have a rice cooker, but I don't find that I need one! This rice recipe works perfectly every time:

More food photos on my Instagram! @veganlifeisgood

Perfect No-Cooker Brown Rice:
Cook Time: 50 min (mostly inactive)
  • 1 cup organic medium grain brown rice (tho it will work for any kind, really!)
  • 8 cups water (I use filtered)
  • dash of salt (optional, recommended)
  • a fine mesh strainer
There are 3 secrets to perfect rice:
  1. Rinse & Strain:   Before cooking your rice, rinse it and strain the water through the mesh strainer. That way you wont loose any tiny grains. 
  2. Add Water:  You need a large water-to-rice ratio for great rice. Measure out 8 cups of water per 1 cup rice. I use a soup pot. Granted, I only make about 1/2 cup of rice for 2 days worth of meals, because I keep my plate mostly veggies, but if you need to cook a lot at once you may need a bigger pot. Add the salt and rinsed rice to the water, and once it is boiling reduce heat to a medium boil and partially cover the pot. I leave the lid on halfway, balanced on the pot handles. Set a timer for 30 minutes. This is a great time to go cook your veggies!
  3. Steam:  After the 30 minutes is up, remove the pot from heat. Once again use the strainer to pour out all the water and return the rice to the pot. You could technically eat it now, but for truly perfect rice, cover with the lid and let it sit for another 20 minutes. Fluff and serve and enjoy the perfection!