Sunday, July 31, 2011


Best Blog Tips
This was made with a frozen three-berry mixture.
I promised (on FB and Twitter) to post this recipe today, so here it is!  This frozen treat is so easy, nutritious, inexpensive, light, and not-too-sweet-- and at the same time, delicious and creamy.   It’s quick to make, too, because using frozen berries means you don’t have to wait for the mixture to chill before freezing it!  Just blend it up and pour it into your ice cream machine! Perfect for lazy days of summer.  One of those inexpensive little manual ice cream makers with the metal insert that you freeze (like a Donvier) works just fine with this, so you don’t need an electric one, though that works fine, too. You could also freeze the mixture in ice pop molds .

The electric model I have is the Cuisinart Pure Indulgence™ 2 Qt. Frozen Yogurt-Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker
Makes about 5 cups
This recipe is definitely a "keeper"!
1 lb. medium-firm tofu, drained and crumbled (or use 1 1/3 [12.3 oz.] boxes extra-firm silken tofu)
1/2 cup nondairy milk
3/4 cup light unbleached organic sugar (or sugar-free sweetener of your choice)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
a pinch salt
*2-3 tablespoons vodka, rum, brandy or orange, lemon or berry liqueur
*AND/OR 1 tablespoon Instant ClearJel (see info about this below) OR 3/8 teaspoon Xanthan gum or Guar gum
(*These 2 ingredients are optional but recommended [one or both] because they help prevent the mixture from freezing rock-hard, and the liquor also adds flavour.)

3 cups frozen berries (I used a 3-berry mix of raspberries, blueberries and Marion berries from Costco)
NOTE: If you don’t have a heavy-duty blender (such as a VitaMix) that will puree the berry seeds so that you can’t discern them, you’ll have to first puree the frozen fruit in a blender or food processor and then press the mixture through a sieve to leave the seeds behind. (Using a manual mouli or food mill with the finest holes might work too.) Set it aside in the refrigerator.
Place all of the ingredients EXCEPT the fruit in a blender and blend until VERY smooth.  Add the frozen berries (either whole, or pureed--see Note above—depending on the strength of your blender) and blend well again until the mixture is smooth.

Quickly scrape the cold mixture into your ice cream machine and follow the directions for your machine.  (We ate some of it straight out of the machine—if you close up the machine and just let the mixture sit for 1/2 an hour or so, it will further firm up.)
Scoop the frozen “soygurt” or what you have left!) into a 1-quart (or two 1-pint) freezer container, cover, and freeze for a couple of hours before serving.

Nutrition Facts (Analysed according to a yield of 5 cups/10 servings; made with medium-firm tofu, soymilk; and Instant ClearJel, but no liquor)

Nutrition (per 1/2 cup serving): 123.3 calories; 17% calories from fat; 2.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 38.0mg sodium; 102.2mg potassium; 22.4g carbohydrates; 1.5g fiber; 19.4g sugar; 21.0g net carbs; 4.2g protein; 2.4 points.

 Cooking Tips
A while ago, I started playing with my gelato recipe from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen". I wanted to make it richer-tasting, easier to make, and with more servings. One of the things I did was to use Instant Clearjel® instead of the cooked tapioca flour mixture that I generally use (tapioca thickens the mixture instead of eggs, and it has better mouth feel than cornstarch). This eliminates cooking the starch mixture, which means the whole thing takes less time and it doesn't take so long to chill the gelato mixture before freezing. Another option is xanthan gum or guar gum, and I have given the amounts in the recipe.

In this recipe, DO NOT use the regular Clearjel® meant for making jam and pies and needs to be cooked.  Instant Clearjel® does NOT need to be cooked.  It is carried on, and King Arthur Flour for US customers (Nichols Nursery labels theirs non-gmo.]. It has been available in Canada primarily from baking supply wholesalers, but,  good news for finally carries Instant Clearjel®! (Make sure you add a note to your order specifying that you want INSTANT Clearjel®.) Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver, BC carries it, too, and they do mail order.
For information about this thickener, see:
Read about another instant thickener that I haven't tried yet below, called Ultra-Gel: Of their product, they say:
"Ultra Gel is a gluten-free, non-GMO cornstarch that can be added directed to any liquid, hot or cold, for instant thickening."


Thursday, July 28, 2011


Best Blog Tips

The Peruvian Flag
Peruvian Summer Recipes
a post on Peruvian ingredients
Vegan-Style Sopa de Frijoles (Peruvian Bean Soup)
Salpicón de Tofu con Col (Peruvian-Style Crispy Marinated Tofu Slices and Cabbage Salad) and pics from a vegan Peruvian cooking workshop
Saltado de "Pollo" Con Vainitas Vegano (Peruvian-Style Vegan Stir-fry of Soy Curls with Green Beans)
Arroz Con Conchas Vegetarianas (Peruvian-Style Rice and Vegetables with Vegetarian "Scallops")
Peruvian Green Sauce
Peruvian Quinoa and Apple Beverage
Peruvian Hot Chocolate with Oats 
Latin American Fruit and Oat Smoothie
Picarones (Peruvian Pumpkin Drop Doughnuts in Syrup)
Peruvian-Style "Chicken" Soup (Caldo de "Gallina" Vegan)
Vegan Lucuma Ice Cream (Peruvian), Take 1 (with Sweetened Lucuma Puree) 
Vegan Peruvian Lucuma Ice Cream, Take #2
Vegan Peruvian Lucuma Ice Cream, Take #3
Low-Fat Peruvian-Style Creamy Peanut Sauce (Salsa de Mani)
Peruvian-Style Coriander Rice with Peas
An Italo- Peruvian Yuba and Vegetable Stew-- Vegan Cau-Cau
Camote Frito (Peruvian Oven-Fried Sweet Potatoes)


Peruvian Independence Day, Peru’s independence from Spain won by Jose de San Martin, is actually a 2-day holiday on July 28th and 29th: Fiestas Patrias Peruanas. Peru has a new President (who recently signed into law the banning of wild animals in circuses in Peru!) and perhaps a new lease on the future!  (Since my father was Peruvian, and I have many relatives there, I certainly hope so!)

How better to celebrate than with food!  Peruvians love their cuisine and enjoy their food!  And it is a very delicious and unique cuisine-- gaining popularity in North America, too. Although the native diet was traditionally heavily plant-based, over time, with the influx of other cultures (Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, African...), it has become not-terribly-vegan-friendly. I am working on that!  I have "veganized" about 30 Peruvian recipes and have a long list to get through!  (Delicious work!)

(According to, "The Inca diet was mainly vegetarian based and involved them eating vegetables such as potatoes as their staple diet. Although potatoes were the main source of food for the Incas other food such as quinoa, beans, squash, sweet potatoes, avocados, tomatoes and manioc were also heavily involved within the Inca peoples diet.")

Here are four Peruvian, or Peruvian-inspired, recipes (and there are others on this blog-- just go to the recipe links page and use your browser's search or find function to look for "Peruvian") for you to try.


My low-fat "Salsa de Mani" on my vegan chorizo-stuffed seitan cutlets. (The cutlet recipe is in my book, "World Vegan Feast".)
Printable Recipe


Yield: 2 1/2 cups

This is a recipe I have been working on for some time in order to veganize it and make it lower in fat (the original recipe contains not only peanuts, but fresh cheese and enough oil to make it qualify for a type of mayonnaise!).  The final recipe is not only simple and inexpensive to make, but delicious! I developed it to accompany vegan Chorizo-Stuffed Cutlets for my now-defunct newsletter, The Vegan Feast, but it is also delicious on any type of "chickeny" seitan, tofu, vegan “chickeny” strips, or Soy Curls; on seitan kebabs; or on roasted or steamed new potatoes.

1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow (or orange) bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 1/2 Tbs sugar
water as needed

8 oz medium firm tofu (or firm or extra-firm silken tofu)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or 2/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts)
1 cup Bryanna's Eggless Low-Fat Mayonnaise (or Spectrum Light Eggless Vegan Canola Mayo or Reduced-Fat Vegenaise)
1 tsp Peruvian yellow pepper paste (aji amarillo paste) OR Sriracha hot sauce, or more to taste
1/4 tsp salt
freshly-ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet and sauté the peppers to soften a little, but not brown, over medium heat.  Add the sugar and a few tablespoons of water.  Cover and cook until the peppers are soft and the water evaporated.
Place all of the ingredients, including the cooked peppers, in a blender or food processor and blend until very smooth. 
Taste for seasoning.  NOTE: This sauce can be made ahead (store refrigerated) and reheated gently.  If it gets too thick after chilling, thin it with a little soymilk or water.

Nutrition Facts (using extra-firm silken tofu and my homemade low-fat vegan mayo)
Nutrition (per 1/4 cup): 140.8 calories; 63% calories from fat; 10.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 199.7mg sodium; 163.0mg potassium; 7.8g carbohydrates; 1.2g fiber; 3.2g sugar; 5.8g protein, 3.5 points.

Serves 6
Adapted from a recipe my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook".   
            This unusual Peruvian dish, made with whole wheat kernels, or wheat berries, was given to me by my cousin Rosario (Charo) Urbina Musso.  She just gave me an idea of the ingredients, and I consulted an old, badly translated Peruvian cookbook of my mother’s for more help.  This is what I came up with, and I like it very much.
          Charo says that the wheat kernels we get here are not the same as the “trigo” available in Peru .  Trigo is a bit smaller than our wheat, and you may be able to find it in a Latin American grocery store (UPDATE: I found some at Killarney Market in Vancouver, BC), but I have made it with cooked soft wheat berries, and it tasted fine to me.

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
(you can add a few drops of roasted sesame oil too, if you like)
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium, ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow hot pepper) paste OR Sriracha sauce
1 1/4 cups trigo or wheat berries (soft wheat, if possible), soaked in 4 cups water overnight, and then cooked in the soaking water  until tender (50 to 60 minutes) 
NOTE: Save the cooking water
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, cooked and cubed
1/2 cup grated vegan “mozzarella”-type cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet.  Saute the onions until softened.  Add the garlic and tomatoes, along with the chile flakes.  Saute for several minutes.  (This is what Peruvians call the “sofrito”.)  Add the cooked wheat and potatoes and  stir-cook for several minutes.  Add some of the wheat cooking water if it’s too dry.  Stir in the cheese and parsley, and taste for salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.
If you like savory foods for breakfast, the leftovers are delicious in the morning!

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 235.3 calories; 16% calories from fat; 4.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 37.0mg sodium; 598.6mg potassium; 43.3g carbohydrates; 7.6g fiber; 3.0g sugar; 35.7g net carbs; 8.9g protein; 4.3 points.

 Mushroom Cebiche (Ceviche/Seviche)(Photo by Debbie Knight)
Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S PERUVIAN-STYLE MUSHROOM CEBICHE (say-bee-chay) (Cebiche de Hongos)
Servings: 6
As many of you probably know, cebiche (or seviche) is a way of "cooking" food without heat-- usually raw fish, but sometimes vegetables. The acid from the lemon or lime juice "cooks" it. My Peruvian father used to take us out for "afternoon tea" in Lima when we spent some months there ,and we little girls would have pastries, while he ate cebiche. Here's my vegan version of this popular appetizer.  NOTE: Peruvian límones are somewhat like key limes-- less acidic than lemon, but more acidic than our limes-- so a combination of lime and lemon juice is a good substitute.

1 lb    whole white button mushrooms (cut in half if too large for "bite-size")  
1 cup    fresh lemon juice (or organic bottled, if necessary)
1 cup    fresh lime juice (or organic bottled, if necessary)  
2 medium    red onions, sliced into 1/8th " slices and separated into rings  
2 cloves    garlic, crushed  
1 tsp    salt  
   pepper to taste  
   slivers of 1 fresh or canned whole Peruvian hot yellow pepper (aji amarillo) or rocoto or habañero chile  
2 average    orange sweet potatoes (about 24 oz., total) steamed or microwaved until tender  
4 ears    yellow sweet corn, cooked  
2 small heads    crisp lettuce, cleaned and dried  
2 pickled or roasted red chili peppers, seeded, and sliced into strips (or roasted red bell pepper)  
   Peruvian Alfonso olives or kalamata olives  
   chunks of ripe avocado  
Mix the mushrooms with the rest of the salad ingredients. Marinate (in refrigerator) 1 to 4 hours.

Cut the sweet potatoes (unpeeled) into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Cut the corn into 2-inch chunks.

Arrange the lettuce on a large platter. Arrange the salad on the lettuce. Surround the salad with the sweet potatoes and corn, and decorate with the red pepper slivers (and optionals, if using)
 Nutrition Facts (they include the sweet potato, corn, lettuce)
Nutrition (per serving): 204.2 calories; 3% calories from fat; 0.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 393.7mg sodium; 979.6mg potassium; 48.3g carbohydrates; 7.8g fiber; 11.2g sugar; 40.5g net carbs; 7.2g protein; 3.4 points.

#4) And last, but not least, a recipe using quinoa, the Mother Grain of the Incas...

 Servings: 8
2 cup    dry quinoa (Many brands of quinoa are pre-washed these days, so you don't have to rinse the grains first.)  
4 cups    boiling water  
1/4 tsp    salt  
1/3 cup    fresh lime juice  
1 tablespoon    aji amarillo paste (Peruvian hot yellow pepper paste) or Sriracha sauce  
1/3 cup    extra-virgin olive oil  
2 medium    medium cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes (I use the edible peel variety)  
1 large    ripe, firm tomato, cubed  
4    green onions, thinly sliced  
1/3 cup    fresh parsley, minced  
1/3 cup    fresh cilantro or basil, minced  
   Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste  
2    heads lettuce, cleaned and shredded  
GARNISHES:  (any or all)
   Tofu "Feta"  
   Peruvian Alfonso Olives or Black Kalamata olives  
   2-inch chunks of cooked sweet yellow corn on the cob  
   1-inch chunks of avocado tossed in lemon juice  
   2-inch chunks of cooked, peeled sweet potato  
   wedges of fresh tomato
Toast the quinoa in a heavy, dry skillet until slightly golden.  Add the quinoa to the boiling water in a 1 qt. saucepan along with the salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down and cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Let stand off the heat for 10 minutes.  Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and chill.

Whisk together the lime juice, chile paste or sauce, olive oil, oil sub and salt to taste and set aside.

Combine the quinoa, cucumbers, tomato, green onions, parsley, and cilantro or basil and mix gently. Pour the lime dressing over the top and toss again. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

To serve the salad, divide the shredded lettuce between 8 individual plates, mound the salad on top and garnish with any or all of the suggested garnishes.
 Nutrition Facts (NOT including the garnishes)
Nutrition (per serving): 268.4 calories; 38% calories from fat; 11.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 126.5mg sodium; 646.8mg potassium; 36.3g carbohydrates; 4.2g fiber; 2.7g sugar; 32.1g net carbs; 7.2g protein; 5.5 points. 

¡Felices Fiestas!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Best Blog Tips
 Not a great picture, but a great soup!

Okay, I just posted a blog post on Facebook from 3 years ago tomorrow-- a yummy, crunchy vegan Asian-style salad.  I think I will make it for dinner tonight, even though it's cloudy and rainy and a little chilly and has been for most of July!  To be truthful, it IS a little warmer than 3 days ago, when I made the soup featured here today.  But it was so chilly then that I craved a hearty soup!  What a contrast, though!

I was inspired to develop this particular soup by my recent purchase of 454 g (roughly a lb.) of  The Wild Mushroom Co. brand dried wild mushrooms from our new local Costco store.  My sister had gifted me with a similar jar a couple of years ago from her Burnaby, BC Costco, but we could never get them in the Nanaimo, BC store.  But now we have a store in Courtenay, BC (our nearest shopping town) and it carries them!  It is such a bargain at under $15!  Its a combination of 25% each of porcini, shiitake, yellow boletus, and oyster mushrooms in nice big chunks. (The mushrooms are from Chile, China, Serbia and Montenegro,  and packed in France by

I decided to make a vaguely Polish-style soup with potatoes in it for heartiness, and added an option of a vegan chicken sub (Soy Curls in this case) for a filling whole-meal soup (well, we did have a salad on the side!).  Caraway seeds are often used in this type of soup, but I didn't have any (they are hard to find around here!) so I used cumin seeds-- tasted good to me!  We were very pleased with the result and ate it for 2 nights running-- it was even better the second night!  It is versatile in that it can be tailored to low-fat or no-fat diets, soy-free diets and gluten-free diets.

 Soy Curls soaking, and a jar of dried wild mushrooms

 Fresh mushroom slices and soaked dried wild mushrooms.

5 servings   
This is even better the next day! Low-fat and can be soy-free and/or gluten-free.

1 1/2 oz    dried wild mushroom mix
2 cups    water  
1 medium    onion, in chunks
2 stalks    celery, in large dice 
1 medium    carrot, scrubbed, in chunks
OPTIONAL: 2 Tbs    Earth Balance
1/2 lb    white or crimini (small brown) mushrooms, thinly sliced  
1/2 Tbs    cumin seeds  
2 cups    vegetarian "chicken-style" broth  
1 lb    russet potatoes,  peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice  
2 cups    nondairy milk  
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste  
1/2 cup    vegan sour cream  (commercial or homemade tofu sour cream, or cashew version)
2 Tbs   unbleached white flour  (or use 4 tsp. potato starch instead of flour for GF)
1 tsp    sweet smoked paprika  
OPTIONAL: 2 cups reconstituted Soy Curls® (2 oz. dry) (see here for info), or commercial vegan “chicken strips”, or "chicken"-style seitan
Place dried mushrooms and water in a 1 qt. saucepan. Bring it to a boil, then simmer, covered, while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a food processor (or by hand, if you prefer), finely mince the onion, celery and carrots.

Melt the Earth Balance (if using) in a soup pot over medium-high heat, and add the minced vegetables and a bit of salt. Sauté 5 minutes.   Or, just use a spray of oil from a pump-sprayer and “steam-fry”, keeping the vegetables moving and adding a squirt of water every so often—just enough to keep the veggies from sticking, not enough to “stew” them.  (**Another option, and one I often use, is to spray a microwave-safe casserole with a little oil, add the veggies and a bit of salt, cover, and microwave on High for about 7 minutes, or until tender.  Then transfer them to the soup pot.)

Meanwhile, strain the simmered dried mushrooms, reserving the cooking liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and set aside.

Reduce the heat under the soup pot to medium and add the fresh and dried mushrooms and cumin seeds.  Continue cooking until the vegetables are very tender, 15-20 minutes.

Add the strained, reserved mushroom liquid into a pot with the veggie broth and potato cubes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Mash the potatoes with a potato masher—a few lumps are okay.

Add the nondairy milk to the pot and heat it through, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir the vegan sour cream, flour and paprika together in a small bowl until smooth. Stir into the soup pot (along with the optional Soy Curls, if using)  until thoroughly mixed. Heat the soup for a few more minutes over low heat, then serve hot with more vegan sour cream and smoked paprika on the side.
 1.) Nutrition Facts WITHOUT the optional Earth Balance and SoyCurls:
Nutrition (per serving): 196.3 calories; 7% calories from fat; 1.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 312.6mg sodium; 1041.2mg potassium; 39.5g carbohydrates; 4.1g fiber; 6.2g sugar; 35.4g net carbs; 9.5g protein; 3.3 points.

2.) Nutrition Facts WITH the 2 Tbs Earth Balance but NOT the optional Soy Curls:
Nutrition (per serving): 236.3 calories; 23% calories from fat; 6.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 360.6mg sodium; 1041.2mg potassium; 39.5g carbohydrates; 4.1g fiber; 6.2g sugar; 35.4g net carbs; 9.5g protein; 4.5 points.

3.) Nutrition Facts WITH the 2 Tbs Earth Balance AND the optional Soy Curls:
Nutrition (per serving): 276.3 calories; 25% calories from fat; 8.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 362.6mg sodium; 1041.2mg potassium; 41.5g carbohydrates; 5.3g fiber; 6.6g sugar; 36.2g net carbs; 13.5g protein; 5.4 points.

4.) Nutrition Facts WITH the optional Soy Curls but WITHOUT the optional 2 tablespoons Earth Balance:
Nutrition (per serving): 236.3 calories; 13% calories from fat; 3.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 314.6mg sodium; 1041.2mg potassium; 41.5g carbohydrates; 5.3g fiber; 6.6g sugar; 36.2g net carbs; 13.5g protein; 4.2 points.
Enjoy! (Save the recipe for this coming Fall or Winter if you are actually having summer weather right now!)