Saturday, May 11, 2013

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

When I was still a vegetarian, before my vegan venturing began, pizza was one of my all time favorite foods.  Seriously, my number one choice.  What is more delicious than the combination of crispy crust, tart tomato, and gooey cheese when hunger strikes?  As I've said before, pizza was the hardest food for me to give up when I went vegan.  Cheese cravings are intense and I now know this is because we are chemically addicted to cheese.  As addicted as morphine addicts are to morphine and for good reason, our brain uses the same receptor sites to respond to cheese as it does to opiates.  This dairy crack is probably why in my first few months of being vegan, I'd dream about breaking into pizza shops and eating all the pizza! 
Pizza is definitely high on my list of must have foods and thanks to the vegan food gods, we vegans have been blessed with delicious and healthy pizza.  We Seattleites have had the good fortune of having a local, vegan pizza parlor called Pizza Pi which is where I tasted these perfect pies:
Hard to believe they are vegan, right?  We loved their pizza so much that we ordered four pizzas!  And of course, we snapped a shot while we waited for our pizza.
If you ever happen to visit Seattle, the Pizza Pi is a great place to eat.  We had so much fun checking out the University District which also has a huge farmers market.  Eventually, the day got away from us and we had to head back to the ferry and back to our little island.  But just before we boarded to the ferry back to Bainbridge, we saw this beautiful sunset.
Well, one taste is never enough and my venture into Pizza Pi inspired me to make some of my own pizza.  This post will be the first of many more pizza posts to come.  I hope this becomes a staple for you as it has for me.  Making your own pizza is easier than you think!  Just give it a try and enjoy the fun of making pizza any which way you want.  For a delicious pesto pizza, check out my recipe for  Perfect Pesto!
Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 package active dry yeast or instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon sugar (I used raw coconut nectar)
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F
1.  In a small bowl, add the water to the yeast.  Gently stir with a wooden spoon.  Add the sugar and gently stir.  Allow the yeast to dissolve.  This will take about 5 minutes.  You know the yeast is active when bubbles rise to the surface.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, and olive oil.  Then slowly add in the activated yeast.  Stir until well mixed.
3.  Cover and let raise for 1 hour or until mixture has doubled in size.
4.  Remove dough from bowl and transfer to a greased 12 to 14 inch pizza pan.  Press the dough to cover the pan.
5.  Add toppings and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Pictured is the pizza I  made.  My toppings are, tomato sauce, olive, artichoke, mushroom, spinach, onion, sun dried tomato, and Daiya mozzarella.  It turned out beautifully. 
I hope this pizza crust recipe works as well for you as it did for me.  Once you try it, you'll be amazed how easy and simple it is to make pizza at home.  If you happen to have a helper like I did:
then it makes the process even more fun!  What kitchen fun is complete without a selfie pic while the pizza bakes?  That's me cooking up a storm on Friday night in :)
I hope you enjoyed this recipe and post.  If you did, please feel free to share this recipe with your friends and family or anyone else who you think might enjoy some plant based grubbin'.  If you want to follow me, then you can check me out on facebook.  Thank you for reading this post!  Happy Pizza Making!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Strawberry and Apple Crumble Cake

Anyone else out there have a new live in boyfriend?  Well, I do and he is ALWAYS hungry!!  He loves my vegan cooking and very rarely eats meat anymore but he is always hungry even right after he eats.  The other day he bought apples at the store and asked if I would make an apple pie.  Being short on whole wheat flour for crust, I decided to give my coconut flour a spin and I made this beautiful cake instead.  This Strawberry Apple Crumble Cake was a gift from the vegan food gods!  Not only is it simply divine but the boyfriend was finally full!!  Sure he ate half the cake but he loved it and after dinner he snacked on more cake when he got hungry again.  I guess this is what it is like having kids in the house! Stay tuned for lots more vegan baking since I know have someone who will eat all the leftover goodies from the kitchen.
This cake was very delicious for me and I enjoyed making it.  After all, who doesn't love to bake and then eat a beautiful treat straight from the oven as your boyfriend praises your kitchen prowess?  Cake is always a good idea!  This cake is a lesser evil as it uses whole wheat flour, coconut flour, oat flour, and walnut flour.  Naturally, to minimize ingredients you could just use whole wheat or whole wheat and coconut but I wanted to add a different flavor for the crumble on top so I opted for ground up walnuts and oat flour.  I took lots of notes so that I would be sure this recipe could be shared with all the other vegan bakers out there!
Instead of egg, I used flax eggs which are a wonderful and healthy alternative for baking.  To make a flax egg, just add 1 Tablespoon ground up flax seed to 1/4 cup water and mix.  Set it aside for 5 to ten minutes to allow it to thicken and then you will have this:

Strawberry Apple Crumble Cake
7/8 cup vegan butter, room temp
3/4 cup vegan sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
2 flax eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup almond milk
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup strawberries, washed, hulled, halved

Crumble Topping
1/2 cup flour (I used 1/4 cup oat flour, and 1/4 cup ground walnut but you can use wheat or coconut)
1/2 cup chilled butter (I used coconut oil)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1. Into a medium bowl, add your dry ingredients.  If using vanilla bean, add it here.
2.  Into a small bowl, add wet ingredients and mix.
3.  Slowly add wet ingredients to dry and mix well.  The dough will seem dry but this is normal.  Prepare a pie pan or springform pan by greasing with melted butter or coconut oil, and place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom.  This will allow for easy removal once your cake is done.  Using a spoon, drop the the batter into prepared pan. 
4.  Prepare crumble topping by mixing flour and sugar in a small bowl.  Then mix in your chilled butter or coconut oil until combined.
5.  Arrange apple and strawberry slices on top of your cake batter.  Then on top of this, drop your crumble mixture evenly over the surface of the fruit.
6.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Enjoy!

Y  U   M

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Gone Raw!!

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone and happy May!  I'm elated at the moment because this weekend Washington's coast has seen temperatures that feel like home back in Southern California!  I'm also very happy because my boyfriend bought me these beautiful flowers which he assembled all by himself!  Half impressed and half delighted, these were a great gift to kick off May and some fun in the sun!
To celebrate the sunshine, I went with my boyfriend to his brothers house an hour and a half away in the mountains.  Nestled between gorgeous evergreen peaks was a stunning, sparkling, and oh so inviting Lake Cushman. 

The drive up was beautiful and close to the farm he took me to last October to go picking for pumpkins!  The length of the trip was along the beach and I had this pretty view to gaze at while we chatted and listened to some Kayne West and stopped to take photos.

We spent the day with  his family at the lake working on our tans and watching the kids jump in that beautiful but icy water! 
Matt's family is not vegan, same goes with most of Washington state.  I've learned that when you are going to be in a social situation where food such as picnics or bbq's will be involved, it is a must to either bring a dish to share or bring food for yourself.  I opted to make myself a Killer Kale Salad to relieve the stress of what to feed the vegan girlfriend.  As an offering, I brought blueberries and dates to share.  One tip for vegans who are trying to maintain the "vegans are cool and totally sociable" vibe: help out with the food even if you aren't eating it.  Typical bbq fare is burgers and since I didn't get a chance to bring veggie burgers this time, I made sure I helped out in the kitchen by slicing tomato, avocado, and pickles for everyone's burgers.  Personally, I think the food snobbery that can be associated with being vegan (y'know, the "I'm not eating what you guys are eating because I have a special diet") can easily be broken down if you don't make a big deal over what others eat.  If you help out, that will be remembered over the fact that you didn't eat what everyone else did.  Give it a try, it works every time.  We had a day and no one seemed to notice that I didn't eat the burgers.  Only problem was, everyone wanted some of my kale salad!  I'll have to bring more next time! 
Since today is Cinco de Mayo and I am a San Diego native, I'm going to share with you my recipes for Awesome Guacamole, Raw Sunflower Chorizo, Cashew Sour Cream, and Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette.  Wrapped up, they make my Raw Burritos!  Check it out and I hope these recipes get you all in the mood for sun, healthy eats, and family fun!

Pictured are the ingredients for my Raw Burritos!  Awesome Guacamole, Raw Sunflower Chorizo, Cashew Sour Cream, Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, shredded zucchini, chopped cucumber, corn, and tender greens all get wrapped up in a giant and beautiful collard green leaf to make this a mouth watering raw experience!

Awesome Guacamole
2 large, ripe, Avocados, chopped
2 tablespoons cherry tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon lime juice, fresh
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste
Optional: 1 small glove of garlic, minced or a dash of garlic salt to taste
Optional for Spicy: Add sriracha, cayenne powder, or freshly minced jalapeno

To remove the flesh of an avocado, cut the fruit in half length ways.  Use a spoon to sun around the edges of the skin to remove the flesh.  To remove the pit, use one of two ways.  Either scoop out with a spoon or gently whack the pit with a carving knife and then pull it out.  I find that it is difficult to remove the knife from the pit once it is out so I always scoop it out with a spoon.

In a medium sized bowl, add your chopped avocado and mash with a fork to desired consistency.  Add the chopped tomato, lime juice, and salt and pepper.  Give it a stir and taste, add more salt and pepper if desired.  That's it!  This is a fantastic, basic guacamole recipe that is simple and quick and always a crowd pleaser!

Cashew Sour Cream
1 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 cups water
1 small lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or salt to taste

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.  Will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.  Leftover sour cream makes a great base for salad dressing like my Herbed Goddess Salad Dressing!

Raw Sunflower Chorizo
When I made this batch of chorizo, I had a huge amount of sprouted lentils so I used sprouted lentils and sunflowers seeds this time and it was incredible.  You can swap the walnuts for sprouted lentils to make a nut free version.

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds*
1 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup yellow or white onion, diced (you could even use red onion for more kick)
1 teaspoon, extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
pinch of cayenne (optional)

Add all ingredients to food processor fitted with the S blade and process until the texture is meaty and still a bit chunky - do not process until smooth or you will have a pate.

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
This is a fantastic salad dressing as is optional for this recipe but I am sort of obsessed with cilantro so I really put it on everything!
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
1/3 cup red onion, chopped (red really works best to add kick)
3 limes, juiced
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (great because grapeseed oil is relatively flavorless and good for dressings)
2 Tablespoons of brown rice syrup
2 Tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon corriander
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

To make the burrito, shave the stem of collard greed so that it is flat.  Place your leaf shiny side down and fill just like a tortilla.  Place a small amount of all your fixins' in the middle of the leaf, tuck in the edges, and roll.  I served mine with some roasted potato and carrot and it was a perfect and filling dinner!

For dessert, I surrendered to my sweet tooth and made a batch of my Spicy Mexican Fudge
Well, I hope that you have enjoyed these recipes and I hope everyone has a fantastic and fun Cinco de Mayo!  If you enjoyed these recipes, please share them with friends and family who are seeking to more Earth food recipes for a healthy planet and a healthy body.  Thank you!

Killer Kale Salad

This kale salad was inspired by watching the Engine 2 Diet documentary on Netflix.  In it, they made a kale salad where avocado was the only dressing.  For me, that tasted a tad too plain, since I'm not looking to keep fat and salt or TASTE to a minimum.  So, I dressed up my salad with lots of flavor and it was to die for! So, I named it appropriately :)

Killer Kale Salad
4-5 cups kale, de-stemmed and chopped to bite size
1 avocado, chopped
1 small lime, juiced
1 small lemon, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup corn
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cayenne

Directions: 1. Add the kale to a medium sized bowl.

2. To the kale, add the chopped avocado, lemon and lime juice and massage, with your hands, the avocado into the kale. The same works for oil when dressing a kale salad. Massaging the leaves will make them softer, allow them to absorb the flavor of the dressing, and will make them less rough on the inside of your mouth. So, always massage your kale!

3. Once your kale is a tad wilty, reduced in size from the massage, and the avocado is smooth, add the rest of your ingredients and toss.

With so much fresh kale around the house, I love to be reminded of what I've got on hand to juice/cook with so I make kale boquets

When I wake up in the morning or come home at the end of a long day, these kale boquets are a great reminder to eat healthy, fresh, and nutrient dense foods!
If you love this salad, then try taking kale for lunch.  Avocado can tend to turn if left too long so I make the same salad with a tad of oil instead of avocado and add some Raw Sunflower Chorizo  for a fantastic meal on the go!
 I hope you enjoy this recipe.  If you do, then please share it with others who are looking to eat healthy and support a healthy body and planet.  Thank you!