Wednesday, April 1, 2015


If you're visiting from my other site, welcome! You've come to the right place for the update on the new site URL. It's not ready yet, but I hope to post it soon. :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

low sugar vegan lemon curd

I cannot believe it's been a whole month since I posted.

But vacation,

a weekend getaway,

plus back to school craziness and redoing a kitchen put a glitch in my best laid plans to share recipes.

I've been wanting to post this recipe for vegan lemon curd for ages. It took awhile to get it just right, but it is so worth the wait.

Reducing sugar, refined or otherwise, is tricky, especially when working with lemons, limes and other highly tart and acidic fruits. After playing around and praying about it (yes, God is good to answer even in these trivialities of life), the winning combination includes stevia, white grape juice and agave or coconut nectars.

When the batch is freshly made, it's lovely to drizzle on blueberry pancakes or spread on scones. After refrigerating, it sets up and takes on the texture found in lemon meringue pie, but can still work as a spread on pancakes, scones, muffins or straight out of the jar.

Low-sugar, Vegan Lemon Curd (recipe notes follow)
dairy-free, fruit-sweetened, gluten free, grain free, low sugar, oil free, refined sugar free, vegan

3/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 c. 100% white grape juice
2 scoops of stevia*
2 T agave or coconut nectar
6 T corn starch, organic is best
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. full fat coconut milk
1 T vegan butter

1. Combine first six ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat.
2. Whisk constantly until mixture begins to thicken, then whisk in the coconut milk and vegan butter until smooth and pudding-like.

Recipe notes:
Though the recipe is basic and seems straightforward, it really is hard to describe what consistency is needed. The first few times I made this, the mixture seized up and got really thick, but once I added the coconut milk and vegan butter and whisked like mad, it smoothed up in the right consistency. If it seems too runny after you've added the coconut milk and vegan butter, just keep whisking it over medium-low heat until it thickens to the desired consistency.

I chose agave or coconut nectar as the sugar-based sweetener in the recipe since they have a low glycemic index.

*100% pure stevia usually comes with it's own scoop that looks tiny but is adjusted for the big punch pure stevia provides in a recipe. If you're without this small scoop, try 1/16 tsp. stevia using your 1/8th tsp measure.

Friday, August 1, 2014

banana bread bites (with gluten free option)

I'm always on the lookout for dessert recipes that are both good for your body and your taste buds.

The "good for your taste buds" part is easy since most desserts involve some sort of sugar and most people happily eat sweet. But good for you too? Now there's a challenge.

When I first spotted this recipe on Oh She Glows, I knew I had to try it. Unless you add the chocolate chips, it contains no added sugar other than what is found in the fruit. Score on the "good for you" part.

And happily, the recipe met the "good for your taste buds" requirement. It's a hands down favorite, especially with family and friends.

I made a couple of slight modifications and have included some suggestions for additional mix-ins.

Bring on the bananas...

Banana Bread Bites (recipe notes follow)
dairy free, fruit sweetened, gluten free option, nut free option, soy free, sugar free option, vegan

2 large bananas
1/2 c. date paste
1/4 c. coconut oil
2 c. rolled oats, gluten free if needed
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
mix in suggestions (use 1/4 - 1/2 cup): dairy-free chocolate chips, cacao nibs, unsweetened dried cherries, unsweetened coconut, unsweetened cocoa* (suggest 1/4 cup if using), chopped pecans 

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until thoroughly combined. If adding mix-ins, pour mixture into a bowl, then stir in mix-ins. Scoop out portions with a large tablespoon and drop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With slightly damp hands (the water prevents the mixture from sticking to your fingers), form each banana bread bite into a ball shape. Since these don't spread, you can place each bite as close as a 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake at 275 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the bottom of each bite is lightly browned.

Recipe notes:
1. I usually double this recipe, especially when making for more than our family of six. If, like mine, your food processor can't handle all the ingredients in one go, process 3 cups of the oats into oat flour and place in a bowl. Then process the remaining cup of oats with the other ingredients. Then add to the bowl and stir in the remaining oats plus any mix ins.
2. I think this recipe works best with perfectly to just a tad over-ripe bananas to avoid an overpowering banana taste.
*3. If you're adding unsweetened cocoa powder, I recommend blending this into the other ingredients with the food processor.
4. If you can't find date paste (I get mine at a middle eastern convenience/market store), use 1 1/4 c. firmly packed and pitted Medjool dates. If the dates are dry, soaking them in warm water 20 minutes before using.
5. I get my dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips from Trader Joe's and order my fair trade cacao nibs from vitacost.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

roasted eggplant pasta with pine nuts and basil

So far, our somewhat anemic garden has produced two japanese eggplants. And what better way to use them than to put them in pasta?!

Here's a super simple recipe that is quick to prepare and yummy to eat. The measurements are for a single serving but you can easily double it, triple it or plan it for a crowd. These measurements are also only a suggestion. If you like more or less eggplant, pine nuts or basil, adjust away.

Feel free to use your favorite marinara sauce. I'll be including the recipe for my favorite sauce on the blog in the near future, but it's your basic tomatogarliconionoreganosaltpepper kind of sauce.

I think this works best with the smaller, skinnier japanese eggplants, mostly from the visual aspect of eating, but the standard eggplants usually found in a grocery store will work as well.

roasted eggplant pasta with pine nuts and basil (recipe notes follow)
dairy free, gluten free, oil free, peanut free, soy free, sugar free, vegan
1 japanese eggplant
garlic powder
pasta sauce
1/8 cup of pine nuts
2 T chopped basil
brown rice fusili (or favorite pasta)

To prepare the eggplant:

1. Scrub skin well with a veggie brush, then slice into rounds about 1/2" thick.
2. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder - as many dashes per your taste.
3. Place on a baking sheet or in a pie tin and put under the broiler, keeping a close watch on it so you don't burn the eggplant.
4. Cook 5-10 minutes, turning at least once, until each side is nicely toasted.

1. Prepare your pasta according to the package directions.
2. Warm your sauce, measure your pine nuts, rinse and chop your basil.

When everything is ready...
Spoon pasta into the bowl, add your sauce, then add the eggplant, pine nuts and basil.

Recipe notes:
  • I usually use 2-3 dashes each of the seasonings
  • I chose to roast the eggplant to keep this recipe oil free. No need to line or oil the pan or baking sheet. You could grill the eggplant instead if you like.
  • I like the brown rice pasta from Trader Joe's for the price and the taste.

Monday, July 21, 2014

three-way oatmeal cookies (gluten free option)

I  used to love the "vanishing oatmeal cookie" recipe off the rolled oats container. And vanish they did indeed.

So when I decided to eat (mostly) vegan a couple of years ago, plus cut back on sugars and oils, I was at a loss for how to duplicate that buttery flavor or texture in a "healthified" oatmeal cookie. Multiple scraps of paper with oatmeal cookie attempts floated around my kitchen for the first few months, but nothing was worth making a second time so I gave up trying.

Until now.

The inspiration for these cookies comes from Angela's Turtle Oatmeal Cookies over at Oh She Glows - one of my favorite sites for vegan recipes. Since I've continued to look for ways to reduce or eliminate sugars (and syrups, honey and nectars are still sugars), I eliminated the brown sugar in the original recipe and used date paste instead but added stevia to boost the sweetness. And because pecans are pricey, I added in some raw walnuts as well (but feel free to use all pecans). As an added bonus, the walnuts sneak in some omega 3 fatty acids.


Baking Tip! It's really the pecans that make this recipe. I've learned that toasted pecans approximate the buttery flavor of an oatmeal cookie. God is good!

For fun, I also created these cookies three ways: with raisins, with dairy-free chocolate chips, and the super-healthy way (because raw chocolate is a health food) with fair trade raw cacao nibs.

three-way oatmeal cookies (recipe notes follow)
dairy free, gluten free option, reduced sugar, peanut free, soy free, stevia sweetened, vegan

dry ingredients:
1 1/4 c. pecans
1/2 c. walnuts, raw
2 c. rolled oats, gluten free if needed
3/4 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. date paste
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

wet ingredients:
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
3.5 T coconut oil, melted
2 T almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. raisins or chocolate chips or fair-trade cacao nibs

1. Lightly toast pecans in a pot over high heat. This takes 2-4 minutes or until pecans are fragrant. I recommend stirring constantly. Many a pecan have I burned by leaving them unattended. Let cool slightly.
2. In a food processor or blender, combine date paste with 1 c. of oats and blend to a small pea/fine crumb consistency. Then add to a mixing bowl.
3. Add nuts and remaining cup of oats to the processor/blender and mix to a fine crumb consistency. Add to the mixing bowl.
4. Stir in remaining dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
5. Combine wet ingredients in large glass measuring cup and stir to combine. Depending on the temperature of your milk or maple syrup, you may need to warm them slightly before adding the coconut oil or the oil will solidify.
6. Stir the wet ingredients and mix-ins into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. The mixture will be sticky.
7. Using a large spoon (I use a soup/cereal spoon), spoon out dough, roll into a ball and drop onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Flatten each cookie ball with the palm of your hand. The cookies don't spread too much, so you can place them 1 inch apart after flattening.
8. I don't recommend sampling the raw cookie because once you start, it's hard to stop. But if you must, you must. ;)
9. Bake cookies in a 275 degree oven (I use low temperatures when I a bake) for 18-22 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Let them sit 5-10 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack.

Recipe notes:
  • As mentioned above, you can use all pecans if you like, but I don't recommend reducing the amount.
  • Feel free to try this recipe with whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour but it will affect the consistency slightly.
  • If you can't find date paste (I get mine at a middle eastern store), you can use 1 c. pitted medjool dates.
  • Feel free to sub in a different dairy free milk.

Friday, July 18, 2014

buckwheat, millet & oatmeal bowl (low-gluten, gluten free option)

Earlier this week, I posted a recipe for the breakfast I ate on the anti-candida diet. Though, at first I mourned the loss of the creamy texture and subtle sweetness of the oatmeal I ate for years, my taste buds gradually adjusted to the new flavor of the buckwheat and millet.

They adjusted so well in fact that by the time I could eat just the oats again, I found them to be lacking in flavor! LOL

Nowadays, my staple breakfast is a mostly buckwheat/millet mixture with just a couple spoonfuls of cooked oat groats to smooth out the texture and my favorite mix-ins. Though my body can tolerate gluten, I like looking for ways to reduce my intake of it.

If you are celiac and can tolerate oats, you can use gluten-free oat groats in your bowl. As with the other recipe, I cook up more than I will eat in one meal so that I can store the leftovers and reheat them.

Buckwheat, Millet & Oatmeal Bowl (recipe notes follow)  
dairy free, gluten free option, nut free option, peanut free, soy free, sugar free, vegan

1/2 c. raw buckwheat groats
1/2 c. millet
1 c. oat groats (gluten free if needed)

favorite dairy free milk
unsweetened coconut

1. In one pot combine buckwheat and millet with 1 1/4 cups of water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.*
2. In a separate pot, combine the oat groats with 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 50-60 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.**
3. Spoon desired amount of the cooked buckwheat/millet into a bowl and add in desired amount of the cook oats (I usually add 2-3 spoonfuls).
4. Add your favorite mix-ins.
5. Store the leftovers in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Recipe Notes & Money Saving Tip
*I posted here, how you can save money and energy by cooking the buckwheat and millet the night before.
**Oat groats are the best form of oats you can eat since they are unprocessed. As my doctor explained it, the longer it takes to cook, the longer it takes for your body to break it down which is optimal for avoiding spikes in insulin - key for diabetics (though I am not diabetic). It also sticks with you longer, staving off hunger for a longer time period. I also discovered that oat groats are more economical than buying steel cut or rolled oats because it has a higher water to oat ratio and therefore a higher yield. The only downside is its cooking time. However, God was gracious to show me a time and money saving tip by accident...the night before you want to eat them, bring the groats to a boil, simmer about 5 minutes, then turn off the burner and leave overnight. By morning, most of the water is absorbed. When you reheat them, it takes care of finishing the cooking process. Sure it takes a little planning, but it reaps huge time, energy and money savings.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

anti-candida noatmeal (gluten free)

Earlier this year, I felt God was leading me to do a three-month sugar fast. It's one I'd resisted for some time because, well, how do you do life without sugar? It's in everything.

However, based on symptoms I was having, I strongly suspected a candida (yeast) overgrowth in my system and couldn't ignore it any longer. In this days of high antibiotic and high sugar use combined with high stress, it's quite easy to go from having some yeast in your body to one where the yeast takes over and causes all sorts of unpleasant side effects - many of which we put down to just feeling under the weather. If you google yeast overgrowth and/or anti-candida diet (ACD), you can learn more for the sake of keeping this post brief and because I'm not an expert*.

What I do know, however, is that 1) It is possible to live without sugar 2) The most annoying of my symptoms went away 3) I felt a lot better. 

One of the biggest challenges of the diet, especially during the very restrictive first month, was enjoying breakfast.

Before the ACD, I would look forward to the same fuss-free breakfast every morning: oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon, non-dairy milk, unsweetened shredded coconut and, occasionally, blueberries or almonds.

On the ACD which cuts out gluten, oats were out :( ,  so buckwheat was in.

It was hard to get used to. Especially without raisins (forbidden). And the coconut (allowed, but I chose not to).

So I experimented a little and threw some millet in there for good measure and by the end of the first month, I found my taste buds had adjusted to both the flavor and texture of this new breakfast.

If you are considering changing your diet, please be encouraged that the first month is the hardest. However, if you stick with it, your taste buds will adapt to the new palette of food you are eating.

Here's the recipe I ate for the majority of the ACD which I call "Noatmeal." As in "no oatmeal."

Anti-candida Noatmeal (recipe notes follow)
candida diet friendly, dairy free, gluten free, peanut-free, soy free, sugar free, vegan

1 cup raw buckwheat groats
1 cup millet
2.5 cups water

Suggested mix-ins (strict phase):
almond, hemp, coconut or rice milk (no soy)
flax seeds
coconut oil

Suggested mix-ins (post strict phase):
unsweetened, shredded coconut 

Combine all the ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Spoon into bowls and store any leftovers in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Recipe notes:
  • One way of saving energy, it requires a little planning, is to prepare the noatmeal the night before. Bring the mixture a boil, then turn off the heat and let it sit overnight. By the morning, the water is absorbed and you've saved on your energy bill. 
  • I always make more noatmeal than I need so I can reheat the leftovers
  • During the strict phase I increased the fats in the noatmeal by adding almonds and coconut oil to prevent weight loss as I already shed some pounds when I changed to a vegan diet. If you're also looking to lose weight, leave out the coconut oil and maybe the almonds.

*It's often recommended to see a doctor before you make dietary changes, which is sound advice especially if you have existing medical conditions.