Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cheese - can you go without?

OK my Vegan friends, what is your favorite "cheese" or do you just go without? I have a LOVE of aged cheddar and Gouda cheese. You may have noticed that I often put cheese on meals as well. It is one of the the things (other than my meat eating partners) that make it hardest to avoid animal food products.  I'm fine replacing milk with coconut milk, almond milk, and the like, but I can't seem to find a cheese substitute (oh and I can't have soy)

Yes, I love cheese. Even on days that I go completely meat free, I often have cheese (please don't shoot me) and I have tried various vegan substitutes and none really taste right to me. I enjoyed the pumpkin chili with cashew "cheese" sauce at Aside of Heart, but it did not taste like "cheese" sauce at all to me, just cashew sauce on pumpkin chili. Which was delicious and fine with me... but not going to get me to quit having snacks with aged cheddar, and a piece of fruit. (Yes, guilty, my favorite mid day snack is an apple with a hunk of cheddar)

I was reading this blog that a Milo posted on FB: and it made me wonder, did I give up too early? Are there vegan cheese substitutes I could healthily add to my food plan now and then and further cut back on the animal fat products in my life?  If I could, maybe a fine cheese could become something I have on the rare occasion much like a fine wine.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Yams Gourmet Babylon Style

Thanksgiving Yams with Orange Cranberry Relish
What are your yam or sweet potato recipes for the holidays? Here is what I made. It was inspired by someone on Gourmet Babylon, a FB group a friend invited me to about a month ago. They have given me so many great ideas that I have neglected to blog. So I'm making up for it today with 2 entries. We will definitely be making this again.

Rinse 3 softball sized yams, poke with fork, and cook the yams in a microwave for 10 minutes. If you prefer you can bake them in the oven till mostly done. Then peel, slice, and layer in a baking dish with cranberry relish and walnuts.
Orange Cranberry Relish

Orange Cranberry Relish:
1 cup of fresh cranberries rinsed, strained, and placed in food processor with 1 sectioned orange, process briefly till pieces are the size you enjoy in your relish. Save the juice and peels. Place into an airtight container but do not cover yet, add 1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar or 1/8 cup of brown sugar, any extra juice from the orange you sectioned, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. You can double this recipe easily. Extras save well in the fridge and can be frozen. Chill for 2 hours before serving

Chop and soak the walnuts for 2 hours before then strain, rinse and set aside to dry. I soaked the walnuts while our orange cranberry relish was chilling in the fridge. this lets the chemicals in the walnut that make it bitter release, hence the need to rinse them, and it makes them softer and need less cooking time as well, in fact you can just eat them raw at that point and your body could process the proteins.
First Layer of Yam Dish
Layer yams, rellish, walnuts, and then Sprinkle a small amount of red pepper flakes on each layer. Squeeze a full orange worth of juice over the entire thing. Place baking dish in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes. We then turned the oven off and left them sitting in there with the stuffing until we were ready to serve. SO GOOD! You could use 1/8th of a cup of brown sugar for the same level of sweetness if you do not have coconut palm sugar, but I decided to use up the last of mine for this. It is said to be low on the glycemic index, and I've found that cooking low glycemic foods keeps my blood sugar more regulated. Before eating dinner my BG was 104, and after eating my thanksgiving meal this year my blood glucose was only 126 a full two hours later! Woohoo! (2 hours later is when they tell me to check, supposedly it's the highest your blood sugar will get after eating)

If you use either of these recipes, please let me know how you liked them, and if you have your own favorite you'd like to share, please do! You can also join in the recipe sharing in the Healthy Recipe Sharing Group:

Thanksgiving Brunch and Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Thanksgiving Brunch in my house has always been a quick and easy, light meal so that we have room for the big meal later, but energy for a walk before "linner" (late lunch, early dinner) which also means less cooking for the chef/s. So last night I made the Pumpkin Dinner Rolls. Based off of this recipe: which I altered to be whole wheat by substituting 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 3.5 cups whole wheat flour for the 5 cups of all purpose flour called for. The whole wheat flour tends to soak up liquids more easily, so I used less flour, and I also split my loaf into halves which I then split in half and then thirds so it made a total of 24 rolls instead of the halves and 15ths the original recipe called for, which made 30 smaller rolls. You could go either way, but this worked for me.

 Next time I would add some sweet potato (the orange/yam colored kind) in there as well, because it would add some natural sweetness, and it's bright orange color would make them more pumpkin like, as the originals look very cute with their orange pumpkin color. Normally I do not cook with yeast or egg, but I did with this recipe, because it was my first time changing it, and I've learned the hard way that it's best to only change ONE thing in a recipe at a time when your'e playing around with new recipes.

Thanksgiving Brunch,
Sliced in half so they're still cute pumpkin looking things, temporarily remove the nut/stem, spread each half with cream cheese (I used 1.5 tablespoons 1/3 fat cream cheese on each side) then add 1/2 a tablespoon (1.5 teaspoons) cherry preserves on each side, no nitrate happily raised turkey slices in the middle. I like to shop locally so the cherry preserves are from a local farmer, and are basically cherry and sugar. SO GOOD. Put the sliced turkey in the middle, close it like a sandwhich and for extra OCD bakers, line up the pumpkin's creases so they still match. Tastes (and looks) like Martha Stewart visited our kitchen.

Now back to the kitchen to make some butternut squash soup and orange cranberry sweet potatoes.