Vegan Macaroni & Cheese

Vegan Macaroni & Cheese

Yes, you read that right. Vegan macaroni & cheese! Who doesn’t love macaroni & cheese? It was one of the staples in our house before going vegan. And I don’t mean that nasty instant junk from a box! So I was ecstatic when one of my Instagram friends sent me the link for the recipe of vegan macaroni & cheese that they use. We made it and, guess what? It’s so delicious!! I will go so far as to say that, even if I decided not to be vegan any more, I would prefer this vegan macaroni & cheese to the traditional one made with cheese, butter and milk!

Vegan Macaroni & Cheese

If you read my blog regularly or know how I cook, you know I’m not good at following a recipe as it is written. I tried to follow the original recipe as closely as possible the first time I made it. Especially since this vegan thing is still relatively new to me. If you want to see the VegNews recipe, click here. We liked it, but decided we would change a few things the next time we made it. I don’t usually have shallots on hand, nor are they easy to find, so something else would have to be used. We have also never been the baked macaroni & cheese people. Why waste time and electricity baking when you can just eat it warm from the pot?

Vegan Macaroni & Cheese

The following recipe is a variation of the original. I decided to use things that I always have on hand and to leave out the breadcrumb topping that causes it to require baking. I think pasta with breadcrumb topping is a bit redundant with the carbs. While I’m not a carb-o-phobe, I was always taught that you don’t eat pasta, rice, bread or potatoes together in the same meal. The breadcrumb topping also adds extra fat with the margarine. So just skip it and make your vegan macaroni & cheese healthier and less complicated. And you’ll notice that there are no cheese alternatives used in the VegNews recipe or mine.

Vegan Macaroni & Cheese

Vegan Macaroni & Cheese

For the macaroni:

  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
  • 1 pound of organic macaroni noodles

To cook in a saucepan:

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 or 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 small organic yellow potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 2 organic carrots, washed and cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 of an organic red bell pepper cut into small cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups water

To blend in a food processor

  • 1/2 cup raw organic cashews
  • 4 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon organic lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 10 tablespoons (5 ounces, 140 grams) vegan non-hydrogenated margarine (I use Earth Balance Organic Vegan Buttery Spread)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon organic turmeric
  • 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast (A.K.A. nooch, which is also optional, but we love it, so we use it. If you don’t use the nooch, reduce the water to cook the vegetables in the saucepan to 2 cups)
     

What You Do:

Make the macaroni first. In a large pot, bring the 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Next, in a saucepan, add red onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, red bell pepper, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

In a food processor, process the cashews, salt, garlic, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne and nutritional yeast, if using. This will be really thick. Once the vegetables are ready in the saucepan, add them to the food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed to make sure everything is well incorporated.

Pour the sauce into the pot you boiled the macaroni noodles in and add the macaroni noodles and stir until all of the noodles are covered in the sauce. Serve and enjoy!!

We love eating our vegan macaroni & cheese with steamed broccoli. What’s your favorite pair to macaroni & cheese? I’m thinking about making this again and subbing some of the potato or carrot for sweet potato. I have also been thinking about throwing some fresh baby spinach in the food processor part. Always looking for ways to add more nutrition, while keeping it delicious. Let me know if you make this recipe. I would love to know your thoughts and if you changed anything. You may leave a comment below or tag me on your photos by following Organic Andrea on:

Facebook: @organicandrea1

Instagram: @organicandrea

Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Do you frequently have bananas that are past their prime? Tired of the same old banana bread? If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins is the solution! They are healthy enough to eat for breakfast, but delicious enough to eat for a snack, dessert or any time of day. I tend to think that making muffins is better than making a loaf, because they 1) take about half the time to bake as a loaf, and 2) are easy to portion, no slicing required.

Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

This recipe comes together quickly and easily. The best part is that you can mix it all in one bowl, so you don’t have much to clean up. These vegan peanut butter banana muffins call for millet, which you probably do not have on hand. Yes, millet looks like bird seed, but it really adds a nice crunch to your muffins and makes them look prettier too. So don’t leave them out. Make the extra effort to get your hands on some. You won’t regret it. I have found that I like millet so much that I am trying to figure out ways to incorporate it into other recipes. You’ll probably be seeing it here again in the future.

Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

These vegan peanut butter banana muffins also call for that powdered peanut butter stuff. I avoided this stuff for quite a while, because it just seemed weird to me. But one day, while on Instagram, I saw a recipe where someone used the powdered peanut butter, and I knew I needed to get some. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. PB Fit works great in this recipe, and I have also used it for a chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie. If you don’t want to commit to powdered peanut butter, you can try using regular peanut butter, but I’m not sure what your results will be. Please let me know how it worked in the comments below, if you do decide to use regular peanut butter.

I am giving you weights for a lot of the ingredients in this recipe. If you haven’t bought a decent cheap kitchen scale yet, what are you waiting for? Do it! You dirty a lot less dishes when you weigh your ingredients. That alone should be incentive enough. I have been through a few kitchen scales already and really like my current one, which I bought from Amazon. It is the Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen & Food Scale, and currently costs $13.95. It weighs in grams, milliliters, pounds and ounces. The best part is that it takes regular batteries. All of the scales that I had in the past used the same type of batteries that wrist watches use. Those batteries are expensive, come in many different sizes and are a pain to find. So, please, if you haven’t already, get yourself a kitchen scale.

Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

  • 300 grams (about 3) very ripe banana, mashed
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) organic sugar, (natural, light brown or dark brown, whichever you have on hand & want to use)
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) sunflower oil
  • 2 Tablespoons organic flax seeds, ground (measure them whole and then grind them)
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) organic oat flour (I buy organic whole rolled oats and then grind them in my coffee grinder, usually at the same time as the flax seeds)
  • 150 grams (1 cup) organic whole wheat flour
  • 48 grams (1/2 cup) organic PB Fit (powdered peanut butter)
  • 1/4 cup of organic raw millet (I buy mine dirt cheap in the bulk section of Whole Foods)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together mashed banana, sugar and oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well combined.

Scoop your batter out evenly between the 12 muffin cups. It should take about 1/3 cup for each one. If you have a 1/3 cup portion scoop, it makes life easier. I don’t. I have a 1/4 cup scoop, so I use that but scoop a little extra each time. Just do what you can to make them as much the same size as possible. They will bake more evenly that way and all finish baking at the same time.

Pop them into the oven. They will take anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes to bake. You will know when they are done with the old toothpick test. Take a toothpick and insert it in the center of the center-most muffin. If it comes out clean, then they are done. Make sure you rotate the muffins halfway through bake time. When they are finished, allow to cool in the pan for 5 or 10 minutes. Then remove them from the pan and place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy them any time!

The Neophyte Vegan

Neophyte Vegan

That’s me –> the Neophyte Vegan! That’s right, I have taken the plunge. You’re probably thinking, “What?!” Yeah, believe me, I know. I fought this for a long time. Or maybe you’re confused about what a vegan is. A vegan is a person who does not consume any animal products. No meat, eggs or dairy products.

The Neophyte Vegan

Let me tell you how this all came about. For the last several years, I have been reading and listening to audiobooks to learn more about all kinds of things. Knowledge is power, right?! The types of books that I actually read are usually religious or spiritual type of books. I usually binge on audiobooks during the summer when my workload drops considerably and I am stuck working by myself all day. Most of the books I read or listen to are the non-fiction sort. I think I only listened to 2 and read 1 fiction book in the past three years. All the rest have been non-fiction. After going through all of the books that my library had on Christian and Islamic religion, I started on Buddhism. In that, I found that I really enjoyed the books by Thich Nhat Hanh who is a Buddhist monk from Vietnam, but lives in France. It was one of his books that talked about the health benefits of veganism and also about the consequences of animal product consumption on the environment. The environmental impact statistics that he quoted made quite an impact on me. He said that if you could not give up eating meat, then maybe you could cut back to maybe one meal a day or one meal a week. Any movement in that direction helps. So that’s what I did. I wasn’t ready to give up meat and dairy products. I reduced that amount that I was consuming.

The Neophyte Vegan

Next, I got active on Instagram. Lo and behold, for some reason, I started following all of these vegan people with their beautiful smoothie bowls and colorful plates of fruits and vegetables. I don’t know how this happened, to tell you the truth. Serendipity? Kismet? Whatever the case, I suddenly had daily inspiration. And then I started trying to make my own vegan smoothies. But I still wasn’t vegan. And after a couple of months, I started having serious digestive troubles. I had to quit eating avocados, chia seeds and cashews. They seemed to really be bothering my digestive abilities. Plus, I was feeling fat and bloated. The whole fat and bloated thing had been going on for a while, but this exacerbated the situation. In December of 2014 and May of 2015, I had miscarriages. In the pregnancy of late 2014, I had been pregnant with twins and had gained a considerable amount of weight rather quickly. I was in the process of trying to lose the extra weight when I found out I was pregnant again in the Spring of 2015. After that miscarriage, the extra weight would not budge, no matter how much I cleaned up my eating habits.

With all of these health issues, bad digestion and weight frustration, I started looking for health related books. I stumbled across How Not to Die by Michael Greger, M.D. Greger is also the creator of nutritionfacts.org, which is a great online resource. I decided to check out the audiobook from my library on the Overdrive app on my phone. That’s how I listen to all audiobooks. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Greger does his research and quotes study after study. And he tells you if it is a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study or some other type of study. He gives you the facts. Maybe it’s my journalism background talking, but I really appreciate that. After finishing the audiobook, I decided that I needed to have a hard copy of the book for future reference. I ordered it from Amazon for about $16.50. The following weekend, I saw it at Costco for about a dollar cheaper. Whatever the case, you should get this book. It may end up saving your life. But it was this book that put me over the edge and, for health’s sake, made me decide that it was time to give up the meat and dairy and go vegan.

The Neophyte Vegan

Since my reading and listening options are limited to what my library has available, I listened to The Happy Vegan by Russell Simmons. I figured I needed some help in how to go about this and to point me in the right direction. I was really glad that this was the only other vegan audiobook available at the time I was looking. All the others were already checked out and had a waiting list. Simmons has been vegan since the mid-90s. The parts of the book that made the most impact on me, for good reasons to be a vegan, had to do with the environmental statistics and the way that factory farms, known by the US Environmental Protection Agency as concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFO, treats, processes and slaughters animals. I enjoyed the book. If you don’t know who Russell Simmons is, look him up on Google. He made it a fun and interesting read.

The Neophyte Vegan

The Neophyte Vegan

I started the neophyte vegan voyage at the end of May. I’m only really a few weeks into this whole thing, but I have noticed some positive changes. My digestion is back to normal. I can eat avocados and cashews again without any problems. I have switched from chia seeds to flax seeds, so I don’t know about those yet. I feel like I have a lot more energy. Nothing that I have ever done before in my entire life has made me feel like I have more energy, so that is saying a lot. The fat and bloated feeling has gone away. I still have some weight to lose, but it seems to be coming off gradually. What does one eat as a vegan? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, etc. Being vegan is actually a whole lot less restrictive than many of the popular diets these days. There are vegan meat, milk, cheese and ice cream alternatives available, but I would limit the amount of many of these items, because they are processed foods. I am not starving. When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m satisfied, I’m done. And I don’t have to worry about what I’m eating, because everything is healthy. Now, there are a lot of things that are vegan that aren’t healthy, but I’m not eating those. I’m limiting anything that is processed, meaning anything that comes in a package, box, bag, can, etc. Unless it’s a box or bag of salad greens or other fruit or vegetable. And, probably the most amazing thing of all, I don’t crave sugar. I consider that a miracle.

The Neophyte Vegan

What does this mean for Organic Andrea? I am going to have to start coming up with ways to make healthy, delicious and organic vegan food. Being the neophyte vegan that I am, I will probably be scouting the major vegan blogs for recipes that I want to try. We have already been making up some of our own stuff around here. I will bring you the best of all of our vegan experimentation. I hope you will come back and see what it’s all about and try out the things I will be bringing you in the future. In the meantime, check out the books and authors I have talked about here. Until next time…

Organically yours,

Andrea

Raw Vegan Dark Chocolate Pudding

Raw Vegan Dark Chocolate Pudding

As you might be able to see, I am currently experimenting with some vegan recipes. It’s really easy to make some super yummy sweet treat out of ingredients that aren’t necessarily that great for your health. Even if all of those ingredients are organic. I have taken it as a sort of challenge to see if I can make sweet treats that are not only healthy and packed with nutrients, but are also really delicious. This raw vegan dark chocolate pudding is a definite winner when it comes to healthy, nutrient-dense and, above all, delicious!

I have a lot of people on Instagram who inspire me. One of those inspirational people is Lisa at www.chocolatemeetsstrawberry.com. A couple of weeks ago, she wrote a post called “Healthy Chocolate Pudding for One.” Both of our recipes have ingredients that will surprise you. I had heard of this type of chocolate pudding nearly a decade ago. When I read Lisa’s post, I decided to give it a shot. But since I can’t leave well enough alone, I decided to put a little different spin on it. I think it might also be a little more acceptable to people who are just testing the waters of a more healthy lifestyle.

Chocolate pudding made with avocado? What?! There, it’s out in the open now. Yes, avocado is the mystery ingredient. For those of you new to this, take a deep breath. I promise you that it is really delicious, and no one will ever know that it’s made with avocado. I challenge you to try it out. As with a few of my recipes, this is best made and refrigerated at least eight hours before eating. I think the ingredients need time to chill and get to know each other.

This raw vegan dark chocolate pudding is so packed with nutrients, that it would be perfectly acceptable to eat it for breakfast. Avocados are loaded with several vitamins, B5, B6, C, E, K and folate and have more potassium than bananas. They also contain plenty of heart-healthy fat in the form of oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid. If you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard how good avocados are for you, just Google “health benefits of avocados.” There is really no reason you shouldn’t be eating this delicious fruit! If you don’t know the health benefits of the ingredients in this pudding, do the same thing for all of the ingredients. I promise you, I’m giving you a recipe for something super healthy and super delicious at the same time. Who wouldn’t want to eat chocolate pudding for dessert? And even better, who wouldn’t want to eat chocolate pudding for breakfast? Guilt free!!

Raw Vegan Dark Chocolate Pudding

Here’s a shot of all of the ingredients that I used. If you have any questions about where I get any of my ingredients, please ask in the comments below.

Raw Vegan Dark Chocolate Pudding

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 banana
  • 30 grams of organic honey
  • 2 packets (or 6 grams) of granular stevia
  • 28 grams (5 Tablespoons) raw organic cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon organic Ceylon cinnamon
  • 14 grams (2 Tablespoons) organic virgin coconut oil
  • 65 grams (about 2 Tablespoons) organic light canned coconut milk
  • a pinch or two of pink Himalayan salt
Raw Vegan Dark Chocolate Pudding

This is a happy dessert!

You could do this in a blender or a food processor if you don’t have an immersion blender. I’m giving instructions for an immersion blender since that is what I used. Put all ingredients into a glass 4-cup measuring cup. Insert an immersion blender and pulse on high until things get a bit mixed.

Raw Vegan Dark Chocolate Pudding

Blending up the ingredients

Then blend on high, moving the stick around and up and down a bit until it reaches a creamy consistency. This takes 30 seconds to one minute. Spoon about a half of a cup (about 125 ml) into similar sized dessert ramekins or dessert cups. You should be able to get 3 to 4 servings out of this recipe. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving. Top with unsweetened, shredded coconut, a light dusting of cinnamon, sliced strawberries, cacao nibs, chopped nuts, or other such yummy topping. Enjoy and know that even though it tastes decadent and sinful that it is really good for you!!

Raw Vegan Dark Chocolate Pudding

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

I know what you’re thinking already. How can anything with “vegan” in the name taste good? “Vegans only eat beans, kale and alfalfa sprouts,” I can hear you saying. Well, I’m here to fix that thinking for you. These vegan peanut cacao bliss balls really do taste good, and none of the ingredients are beans, kale or alfalfa sprouts. I promise.

Besides being super yummy, these little bites of deliciousness are also healthy and really easy to make. You only need five ingredients, and there is no cooking or baking required. And each ingredient has a myriad of health benefits. Let’s go through some of them before we get to the recipe, shall we?

Peanuts, which have gotten a bad rap in recent years due to peanut allergies, are first. Peanuts are delicious, and I feel sorry for anyone who has a peanut allergy. They are rich in monounsaturated fat, which is the heart-healthy fat found in the Mediterranean diet. Peanuts also contain vitamin E, niacin, folate, resveratrol, oleic acid and antioxidants. And roasting peanuts actually boosts their antioxidant content. If you would like to read more about the health benefits of peanuts, please click here.

Cacao is next. Cacao is not cocoa, so please don’t confuse the two. Cocoa is that bitter, processed powder that you have probably used to make hot chocolate or chocolate cake and/or frosting. You can actually use raw cacao powder in the same recipes, but the difference is notable. Since I found raw, organic cacao powder on Amazon, I haven’t even considered ever using cocoa again. If you would like to know, I buy Healthworks Raw Certified Organic Cacao Powder on Amazon. It’s a fantastic deal! This stuff is truly a superfood. Cacao contains high levels of powerful antioxidants that have numerous health benefits. If you would like to read more about the health benefits of cacao, please click here.

Dates are used in this recipe as a binder and a sweetener instead of sugar. Plus, dates have the added benefit of having significant health benefits with which sugar just can’t compete. Dates contain a variety of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber and have a long history of traditional uses. Modern research has backed up long standing beliefs about the fruit. If you would like to learn more about the health history and benefits of dates, please click here.

Honey is also used as a sweetener in this recipe. You have probably used honey to sweeten tea or lemon water when you have a sore throat. Besides as a sweetener, do you have any idea why you do that? It’s not just to sweeten your beverage or to coat your throat. Honey actually has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Honey also contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If you would like to read more about the health benefits of honey, please click here.

The last ingredient is vanilla extract, which, I have read, contains antioxidants and can boost mood and enhance mental performance. If you would like to read more about this, please click here.

See! I told you there would be no beans, kale or alfalfa sprouts!

Enough with how good it is for you. Let’s get on with the recipe so you can find out how good they taste in your mouth!

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

  • 120 grams of roasted, salted peanuts
  • 120 grams of pitted medjool dates
  • 15 grams (2.5 tablespoons) of raw organic cacao powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw organic honey
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

Here’s a shot of the ingredients that I used in this recipe.

Put peanuts, dates and cacao powder in the bowl of your food processor. Process for a few seconds to chop and mix everything up a bit. Add the vanilla extract and a tablespoon of the honey. Process on high for about a minute. Everything should be well chopped, combined and a loose dough should form. Pinch a bit into a ball and see if it will hold together. Have a taste and see if you want to add more honey or leave it the way it is. If it’s not holding together, process it until you can get it to hold together.

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

This is not a lovely picture, but it’s to show you what your dough should look like when it’s ready.

Scrape everything out into a bowl and use a small cookie scoop to make equal sized portions.

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

Scooping dough with a cookie scoop is the most effective way to get equally sized bliss balls.

Roll together in the palm of your hand to form a firm ball.

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

This is how your bliss balls should look after rolling them in the palm of your hand. Your hand will also be greasy. Think of it as moisturizer.

Once you have done this with all of the dough, for best flavor, refrigerate overnight. For some reason, these taste better after they have had a chance for the ingredients to blend together. So they actually taste better the day after you make them than right away. Eat and enjoy.

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls ready to eat!

Keep any uneaten bliss balls in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. With the size I made, this recipe yielded about 25.

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

I put the bliss balls onto a flat-bottomed bowl and covered with plastic wrap to refrigerate.

If you make this recipe, please let me know. Follow me @organicandrea on Instagram and tag me in your recipe photos. Also be sure to like the Organic Andrea Facebook page.

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

Vegan Peanut Cacao Bliss Balls

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

Besides boiling water, how much more basic can you get than scrambled eggs? I’m not that big of a fan of eggs by themselves, therefore, I try to find new ways to eat eggs that make them more palatable to me. With this grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free eating that I’m doing these days, eggs have become an essential part of my diet. I have noticed that my body craves more protein now that I have cut out sugar, grains and dairy. It’s always important to listen to the queues our bodies give us.

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

With summer’s heat blazing on, there is a bounty of fresh in-season vegetables available. I decided to take advantage of the vegetables that I had in my kitchen and make a scrambled egg invention. It turned out marvelously! In the past month, I have eaten this at one point or another for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but not all on the same day. This recipe provides a good dose of protein as well as more than one serving of vegetables. And it’s really great, because it will keep you satisfied and energized for hours. This recipe makes one large serving for one person as a complete meal, or it can be the main course at a meal with a variety of other sides. It would also be a great addition to a breakfast or brunch buffet!

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

  • 1-2 Tbsp. organic extra-virgin coconut oil, or bacon grease (a Southern favorite and my personal favorite)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 organic zucchini, grated
  • 4 mushrooms, diced
  • 1 handful of organic baby spinach, cut into ribbons
  • 2 small Campari tomatoes, diced
  • 3 large, organic eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 Tbsp. water
  • sea salt to taste

Heat oil in a large (cast iron, if you have it) skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and mushrooms and salt to taste and continue to cook for about another 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and tomatoes. While this cooks, beat your eggs with the water and salt to taste. I beat the heck out of my eggs in a glass bowl with a fork. I’m convinced that this makes my eggs lighter and fluffier. Pour the eggs over the skillet full of sautéed vegetables and use a silicone spatula to stir it around. At this point, you might want to put a lid on your skillet and then open it to stir it occasionally until all the eggs are cooked. Once all the eggs are cooked, plate, sit and eat. Bon appétit!

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

 

Have you tried this recipe? Do you have an even better recipe for scrambled eggs that is also dairy-free? Let yourself be heard in the comments section below!

orange cream chia pudding

Orange Cream Chia Pudding

With a sweet tooth like mine, it doesn’t take long to start coming up with dessert ideas, even if I’m following a sugar-free diet. I’m not totally sugar free. I consider naturally occurring sugars in fruits to be okay. I am not using added sugar, i.e. granulated sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave, etc. To sweeten anything exclusively with stevia, in my opinion, is completely revolting. I have found that a little bit of stevia to boost the sweetness where fruit or fruit juice is used is fairly undetectable, as long as you don’t use too much.

I had made chia pudding before, when I was still using traditional sweeteners and liked it. Plus, there’s no cooking involved, so it’s really easy. There is a waiting period while the chia seeds soak up the liquid and make the pudding-esque texture.

Chia seeds have come a long way from the Chia Pets that used to be advertised on television in the ’70’s. For several years now, chia seeds have been moving into the mainstream of the American diet. I picked up my last bag of organic chia seeds at Sam’s Club. How much more mainstream America can you get, other than their close relative Walmart? But you can probably buy them there too. Chia seeds are tiny powerhouses of nutrition. They are packed with fiber, protein, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and the list goes on. Do a quick Google search on benefits of chia seeds, and you will find a ton of information.

Who doesn’t love an orange creamsicle? Especially in the long, hot days of summer? This recipe is a healthier take on that idea. It tastes great and is great for your health. You can also make a pineapple cream version of this by substituting freshly blended pineapple for the orange juice. My husband, mother, two daughters and I all loved both varieties. Whip up a batch today to start enjoying the delicious heath benefits of the tiny, but mighty, chia seed!

orange cream chia pudding

Orange Cream Chia Pudding

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed organic orange juice
  • 1/4 cup organic unsweetened vanilla coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 packets of your favorite brand of organic stevia
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

Put chia seeds into a bowl that will hold at least one quart. Add the rest of your ingredients.

orange cream chia pudding

Stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve alone or garnished with fresh fruit.

orange cream chia pudding

As I said above, you can also make a pineapple cream chia pudding by substituting one cup of blended freshly cut pineapple for the orange juice.

pineapple cream chia pudding

Do you have a favorite way to use chia seeds? Please let me know in the comments below!

Dairy- and Grain-Free Cream of Broccoli Soup

Dairy- and Grain-Free Cream of Broccoli Soup

I know it’s hotter than Hades right now. And maybe soup is the last thing you want to eat. But, summer doesn’t last forever, except here in Florida. And some people still do eat hot soup in the summertime. Otherwise, why would restaurants like Panera still be making it everyday?

In my last post, I told you that I have given up sugar, dairy and grains. This causes one to be more creative in what one eats. As I said before, this is not that Paleo diet thing. I have a wider variety of things that I can eat, like potatoes and beans. I have never been a big cream of broccoli soup fan. I think I never ordered it once back in the days when I actually ate at Panera. But someone asked me how you make it the other day, and it got me thinking. How would I make it so that I can eat it with the constraints of my current diet? The very first experiment that I did produced a winner!! I have often read the blogs of other people who are doing the Paleo diet and variations of clean eating. Many times I have read them say, “It’s so good, I didn’t even miss (insert prohibited ingredient here)!” I have also thought to myself every time that I have read a statement like that, “Yeah, right!” Well, this recipe actually turned out so good that I really think it is better than the original that is made with cream, milk, butter and flour. This soup was really easy to make, which is also a big bonus. Besides a cutting board and knife, all you need to make it is one pot! And it makes enough for freezing for future use for one person or for dinner for a family. And if you are vegan, you can use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make this work for you.

I’m so excited about how well this recipe turned out that I’m dying to make a cream of mushroom variety and a creamy butternut squash soup too! Those will probably be coming up in future posts. I have also come up with some desserts for future posts also. I will quit making you wait and get on to the recipe.

Dairy- and Grain-Free Cream of Broccoli Soup

Dairy- and Grain-Free Cream of Broccoli Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons organic extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 medium sized organic yellow potatoes (like Yukon Gold), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons organic Better Than Bouillon Chicken base (or vegetable variety if you’re doing a vegan version)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 can organic coconut milk
  • 1 pound organic frozen broccoli florets
  • sea salt to taste

Heat your coconut oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add your onion and garlic and about a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and sautée until translucent. Add your potatoes, chicken base, water and coconut milk. Raise the heat and bring to a boil for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Use an immersion blender and blend the soup until the potatoes are smooth. Now, add your bag of frozen broccoli florets and let it cook slowly for about 15 minutes. Once again, use the immersion blender and blend the soup until the broccoli is in small pieces. Taste it to see if you need any more salt. Adjust it to how you like it, and voilà! You have just made a delicious, healthy version of a classic favorite soup.

FYI: I don’t usually buy organic onions or garlic. I buy my organic potatoes and organic canned coconut milk at Whole Foods. I buy my sea salt, organic Better Than Bouillon and organic frozen broccoli florets at Costco.

organic pizza dough

Organic Pizza Dough Recipe

For many years I have known that the key to fantastic pizza is the crust. The crust is the base for everything that gets added on. You must always start with a good base. Everyone has his or her preferred toppings, but the base or crust remains the same.

I have tried different recipes for different pizza crusts over the years. It was always a frustrating and disappointing experience. Within the last year, I read the book American Pie by Peter Reinhart, which is a book about the authors search for the best pizza. He traveled the United States and Italy eating all different kinds of pizza. Reinhart shares the story of his travels in the first half of the book and then shares recipes in the second half. After reading the stories, I decided to try his recipe for Napoletana pizza dough. The first time, I made the recipe exactly the way the recipe is written. It turned out well, even if the pizza crusts weren’t exactly round or even in thickness. I’m not a professional pizzaioli. I decided to tweak the recipe to make the dough a little easier to work with, healthier and a bit more tasty.

So here’s what I did. By using a mixture of organic all purpose flour and organic whole wheat flour, I made the dough stronger, so that it doesn’t tear so easily, more healthy and tasty. I also added more salt that Reinhart called for. I use sea salt instead of kosher or iodized salt. If you don’t like as much salt or are on a low-sodium diet, you can cut the salt in my recipe by half. Now, here’s how you make it.

As you may know from reading earlier posts, I like to weigh my ingredients. Having exact measurements, especially when dealing with breads and bakery products, is extremely important if you want it to turn out the same each time. Even then, temperature and humidity differences can change your end result as well, but we don’t necessarily have control over those factors. Therefore, it is important to control the factors that you can. With that said, I am going to give you the recipe with the flour and water by weight. If you want to convert it to cups, one cup of all-purpose flour weighs 4.25 ounces and one cup of whole wheat flour weighs 4 ounces.

First, combine 15 ounces of room temperature water with 1 teaspoon of instant yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Let this sit while you do the next step. Combine 12 and a half ounces of organic all-purpose flour, 10 ounces of organic whole wheat flour and 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Mix these together with your mixer’s dough hook. Add this flour mixture to your water/yeast mixture. Mix with the dough hook on medium speed of your electric mixer for 4 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then mix at medium/low speed for 2 additional minutes.

organic pizza dough

 

When you have finished mixing the dough, you will want to turn the dough out onto a floured surface, working the dough into a smooth ball.

organic pizza dough

Oil a large ceramic or stainless steel bowl with your favorite oil (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, etc.). Put your dough ball into this oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm area where it will not be disturbed for an hour and a half.

organic pizza dough

 

After the hour and a half has passed, put your pizza dough bowl into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Then, take the pizza dough out of the refrigerator at least two hours before you are ready to make your pizza. You have to get the dough back to room temperature before you will be able to work with it. During all of this time in and out of the refrigerator, the yeast will be working its magic on the dough. If you would like to know more about how yeast works on dough, Peter Reinhart has another book at explains it called, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

Once your dough has reached room temperature and you are ready to make your pizzas, put a pizza stone into your oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If you don’t have a pizza stone, don’t worry about it. You can still make pizza without it. I bake my pizza on the middle oven rack with a pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you might want to move your oven rack down a bit lower. Experiment with it to see which level turns out the best pizza.

Generously flour your work surface where you will be shaping the pizza dough. Remove your dough from the bowl as gently as possible and place it on your floured work surface. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the dough into four or six equal pieces. For me, since my pizza dough stretching skills are limited, six dough balls makes six personal sized pizzas, four makes normal small sized pizzas. If you are going for making those 18-inch pizzas, the you might want to just cut the dough in half. Form the cut pieces into smooth dough balls.

organic pizza dough

Take one of your dough balls and start stretching it evenly to form a circle. After a few, I decided that if I roll it with a rolling pin a bit, then work it with my knuckles from the edges, it turns out better. I even tried doing the pizza toss thing, and the dough held up fine. Just be sure you don’t drop it on the floor. My advice is to shape the dough however it is the easiest and least frustrating for you. As you can see, my first one didn’t turn out as a perfect circle.

organic pizza dough

 

Once you have your dough formed, you have a choice. If you have a pizza peel and know how to use it. Then proceed with preparing that and all your toppings. I don’t have a pizza peel. I have a pizza pan that has holes in it, so it still works on the pizza stone. If you have a pizza pan, then move your dough to the pan so that you can start putting on your toppings. Red sauce is not my favorite, so it is rarely on my pizza. Instead, I brush the dough with organic extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle garlic granules and a little bit of sea salt over the whole thing and then proceed with the rest of my toppings. Pesto is another one of my favorites to use as a base sauce. You know what your favorites are, so do it the way you like it.

organic pizza dough

 

On this pizza, I went very basic and just used pesto, mushrooms and shredded mozzarella cheese. If only I had some sun-dried tomatoes!

organic pizza dough

 

Bake your pizza in the oven, depending on the size of your pizza and the amount of toppings, anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through for even baking. If you made your pizza crust extra thick, you may need to bake it longer. Or bake a shorter time if you made your crust really thin. Keep an eye on it. Pull it out when you think it looks like the perfect pizza to you. I like my cheese a bit on the well done side, so my finished pizza might not appeal to you, if you like yours cooked for less time. It’s all about customizing it to your own taste. That’s why you are making it at home. So you can get exactly what you want!

organic pizza dough

 

Organic Pizza Dough Recipe

  • 12 1/2 oz. organic all-purpose flour
  • 10 oz. organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 15 ounces water, room temperature

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine water and yeast. In a large bowl, combine flours and salt. Mix flours and salt together well. Add the flour mixture to the yeast and water mixture. Using the dough hook, mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Mix again on medium-low speed for 2 additional minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and work the dough into a smooth ball. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl turning to coat the dough on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm, undisturbed area for 1 1/2 hours.

Move bowl of dough to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Remove dough from refrigerator at least 2 hours before you are ready to make pizza, to bring dough to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut dough into 4 or 6 equal pieces. Form your pizza crusts. Top with your favorite toppings. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of your pizza and your own preferences. Remove from oven. Let cool 5 minutes. Cut and enjoy!