Friday, October 23, 2015


Best Blog Tips

A couple of weeks ago, I had a big bag of lovely little fresh Brussels sprouts--they are always a great price this time of year.  I also had some beautiful firm-but-ripe pears froma friend's tree, and it occured to me that they might mix well in a salad.  This is what I came up with and they did, indeed, mix well!  We've had it a couple more times since then. (I think it would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast, BTW.)

Printable Copy

Servings: 6

1 1/2  lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced 1/4" thick
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large pears, firm but ripe, peeled, cored, sliced 1/4" thick
1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
2 large green onions thinly sliced
2 Tbsp water or aquafaba
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (smooth or grainy)
1/4 tsp salt

Toss the Brussels sprouts with the 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes, or until they have browned a bit on top. remove from the oven.

Cut the pear slices into about 1" pieces. Whisk the dressing ingredients together well. Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Serve at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 205 calories, 98 calories from fat, 11.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 125mg sodium, 598.3mg potassium, 25.4g carbohydrates, 7.6g fiber, 11.9g sugar, 5.1g protein.


Monday, October 19, 2015


Best Blog Tips
My results for Butternut Squash Soup with Quick Cashew “Cream” 
You might know Laura Theodore as "The Jazzy Vegetarian", which is the title of her first book.  Laura is not only an author and talented singer, but is also a popular vegan radio host (she interviewed me a while back) and television cooking show host. She's one busy woman, and very down-to-earth and kind one, too (evidenced by her long-time vegan lifestyle and support of animals). She is an accomplished chef, as well, and her busy lifestyle has made her aware of the need for colorful, healthful, tasty and EASY meals to help other busy vegans put meals on the table.

And that is the theme of her latest cookbook "Laura Theodore's Vegan-ease", which I've had the pleasure of reviewing.  Yes, it it is full of gorgeous photos, but I was impressed by much more than that: 1.) The practical advice and tips about menu planning, holiday menus, tips and recipes, shopping, ingredients, kitchen tools, no-oil cooking, eco-cleaning your kitchen, and basic vegan nutrition; 2.) The concept of the "Ease-Factor" rating for each recipe; 3.) The fact that, though she has soy-free options, she's not afraid to use tofu! 4.) The book is not fat-free, but she's very moderate with fats (and there's a no-oil Crispy Steak Fries recipe!); 5.) The use of whole foods throughout the book; 6.) The dessert recipes are inspiring, but easy on sugar of all kinds; and 7.) Last but not least, colorful, flavorful, interesting dishes made with real foods!

I've got quite a few recipes marked in this book to try soon (Deep Dark Chocolate Truffle Pudding, for one!), but, this being squash season and a bountiful squash year where I live, I chose to try this delectably smooth butternut squash soup for this review. It was a cinch to make, lovely to look at, full of rich flavor and very satisfying.

Bon Appétit!

A photo of this soup from the book Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease
Butternut Squash Soup with Quick Cashew “Cream” 
Makes 4 to 6 servings / Ease Factor 2

This simple-to-prepare potage is rich in taste and creamy in texture, without the use of dairy. A quick cashew “cream” (no pre-soaking of the cashews required) adds a touch of elegance, and the coconut milk beverage adds richness and depth to this impressive soup.
Recipe from Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet © Laura Theodore (Jazzy Vegetarian, LLC 2015), reprinted by permission.

5½ cups cubed butternut squash, (about 1 medium squash, peeled, seeded and cut in 1½-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend (I didn't have any, so I used a blend of dried basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary, ground in a spice grinder- BCG)
¼ teaspoon sea salt (Laura recommends that you use salt according to your taste-BCG)
2⁄3 cup raw cashews (I soaked mine in boiling water for 10 minutes before blending-BCG)
2½ cups filtered or spring water, plus more as needed
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage or nondairy milk of your choice (I used soy milk- BCG)
4 to 6 basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

Put the cubed squash, olive oil and Italian seasoning in a large bowl and toss gently until thoroughly coated. Arrange the squash in a single layer on the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the squash is soft and slightly golden. Put the pan on a wire rack and sprinkle with the sea salt. Let the squash cool for 25 to 30 minutes (see note).

Meanwhile, put the cashews and 1⁄2 cup water in a high-performance blending appliance and process until smooth and creamy. Transfer the cashew “cream” to a small bowl, leaving about 2 heaping tablespoons in the blender container. Add the cooled squash, coconut milk and 2 cups water to the cashew “cream” in the blender container and process until smooth, adding more water, about 1⁄4 cup at a time, as needed, to achieve the desired consistency.

Pour the soup into a medium-sized saucepan, cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until heated through. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Using a small spoon, swirl about 1 tablespoon of the cashew “cream” into the top of each serving, in a pretty pattern. Garnish with a basil leaf (optional). Serve piping hot (see notes).

Chef’s Notes
-  You may roast the squash up to 24 hours ahead of time. After cooling, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until use.

-  This soup may be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. If making in advance, let the soup cool after blending, pour the cooled soup into an airtight container and refrigerate. To reheat the soup, pour it into a pot. If the soup seems too thick, add a little more water to achieve the desired consistency. Cook for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often, until heated through.

- The cashew cream may be made up to 24 hours ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until use.

Nurtrition Facts:

Amount per serving, based on 6 servings:  93 Calories; 4g Fat; 1g Saturated fat; 2g Protein; 8mg Sodium; 15g Total Carbohydrate; 3g Sugars; 2g Fiber


Saturday, October 17, 2015


Best Blog Tips

I made WAY too many mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving last weekend.  I ended up freezing a big bag of them, which I had never done before.  I was a little worried about freezing them, but I checked some cooking sites online and was assured that, though the liquid might separate from the solids (it did) and the solids might get a bit "grainy" (they did), they could be re-mashed when reheated and be as good as new.

So, the other night we wanted something lighter for dinner, like soup, and I wanted to use up at least some of those mashed spuds, so I decided to make a vegan and lower-fat version of something I've read about, but never tasted-- mashed or baked potato soup with cheddar cheese and bacon.  There are a zillion recipes out there for this soup, so it must be wildly popular, especially after holiday meals!

The usual recipes for this soup are, of course, laden with butter, cream, cheddar cheese (sometimes 1/2 a lb. in one recipe), and, quite frequently, bacon (the bacon fat being used to sauté the onions). What I had in mind was something, not only vegan, but much lower in fat than these recipes.

To begin with, I don't use vegan "butter" or even olive oil in my mashed potatoes. I use yellow potatoes, which have a lovely color and texture and some varieties even have a "buttery" taste. Yukon Golds are fine, and easily available, but our favorite is the German Butter potato-- Sieglinde or  Carola (German Butterball).  Fortunately, they are grown locally.  I generally steam them.  (You can either peel them before steaming, or run the potatoes under cold water and pull off the peels after steaming.) If I'm in a hurry and making a smaller amount, I peel and chunk them and microwave them in a covered microwave-proof casserole for about 10 minutes-- no water needed.  (This method saves energy as well as water and nutrients.) Then I mash them well (or run them through a potato ricer if I have time) and then beat in some soy milk (or other plant-based milk) and salt to taste until they are creamy. Believe me, these mashed potatoes  are delicious, and, if you or your guests insist on "butter" (like my homemade vegan palm oil-free "Buttah"), it can be added at the table individually. See:

Anyway, if you have leftover mashed spuds, I think you'll be pleased with this yummy way to use them up.

Printable Recipe

Serves 6 (Can be GF and soy-free, if you wish)

1  Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 a medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups cooked, peeled potatoes (made with about 2 1/2 lbs. potatoes [I prefer yellow]-- microwaved, steamed or baked)-- these can be leftover
Mashed with: 1 cup (approximately) soy milk or other plant-based milk and salt to taste
Extra-Tangy Melty Cheddah Cheeze Sauce:
1 cup water (OR use 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup beer)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp white flour
(another option would be 1/4 cup very finely-ground oat flour instead of the starch and white flour)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp tahini
4 cups vegan "chickeny" broth (I like Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Soup Base)
1  cup unsweetened vegan creamer (such as So Delicious Original Coconut Creamer) OR 1/2 cup each plant-based milk blended with 1/2 cup extra-firm silken tofu (or medium firm regular tofu)
vegan "bacon bits"
smoked paprika
chopped green onions (green parts only)

Sauté the chopped onion and minced garlic in the two oils over medium heat until soft OR microwave them with the oils in a microwave-safe pie plate or bowl with lid for about 4 minutes.

Mash the cooked potatoes with the soy or other milk.

Make the Extra-Tangy Melty Cheddah Cheeze Sauce: In a blender, mix all of the Cheeze Sauce ingredients EXCEPT the tahini until smooth.  Microwave in a 1-2 qt. microwave-safe batter-bowl or measuring pitcher on High for 2 minutes; whisk; microwave for 2 minutes agai and whisk.  OR Pour the blended mixture into a medium saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens.  Let bubble for 30 seconds, whisking vigorously.  Remove from heat.

Stir the tahini into the sauce.

Mix the Sauce in a large pot with the sautéed onions and garlic, the mashed potatoes, the creamer and the broth. Use an immersion blender right in the pot to make it smooth.  (Otherwise, you will have to blend the mixture together in a regular blender in two batches and return it to the pot.) Bring to a simmer, turn down and simmer, partially covered for about 10 minutes.  Add more vegan creamer or plant based milk if it's too thick for your taste.

Serves hot with plenty of vegan "bacon bits" on top and a sprinkle of smoked paprika and green onions.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, with no garnishes):
335 calories, 59 calories from fat, 6.9g total fat, Saturated Fat 0.87g, Monounsaturated Fat 3.02g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1.71g, Trans Fatty Acids 0g, 0mg cholesterol, 657.5mg sodium, 1550.9mg potassium, 58.1g carbohydrates, 6.2g fiber, 4.3g sugar, 12.3g protein.

Compare the recipe above with this fairly standard non-vegan version of the soup from :
510 calories, 360 calories from fat, 40g Total fat, 23g saturated fat, 12g Monounsaturated fat, 2g Polyunsaturated fat, 188 mg cholesterol, 1056mg sodium, 610mg Potassium,  22g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 2g sugar, 17g protein.


Monday, October 12, 2015


Best Blog Tips

Leave it to Kathy Hester to come up with a book full of easy-peasy, healthful, inspired vegan recipes for time-challenged cooks!  Kathy is the author of four previous books and blogs at This new book contains 80 recipes that are full of healthful ingredients (lots of beans-- a plus, in my opinion!) and many inspired by cuisines of other cultures.  She has a chapter of "Make-Ahead Staples", which is really handy, and everything from Soups, Stews, Pasta, Stir-fries, and other Mains, followed by more recipes for easy Sandwich Fillings and Spreads, Sides, and of course, Desserts and Drinks. The recipes are low-oil and there are many GF and soy-free recipes and options, as well.

I had a hard time selecting the recipe to try for this post on Kathy's blog tour, but I'm so glad I chose this soup recipe.  We had our vegan Canadian Thanksgiving feast (12 of us) last night and over-ate, of course. This easy, light and delectable soup (and I love corn so much!) is the perfect simple-but-delectable day-after-feasting meal. The chopped mushrooms in the broth give it wonderful flavor.

Congratulations on another winner, Kathy!

KATHY HESTER'S ASIAN CORN CABBAGE SOUP (From "The Easy Vegan Cookbook", with permission from Page Street Publishing)
• gluten-free option** • oil-free option* • soy-free option**
This soup isn’t the prettiest, but the taste is bold and delicious. This recipe is my favorite way to use up the extra cabbage from my CSA.

½ small onion, minced
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil (*or sauté in water)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups (105 g) minced mushrooms
Pinch of salt
2 to 3 teaspoons (10-15 g) minced ginger
4 cups (356 g) chopped cabbage
2 cups (282 g) corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
4 cups (946 ml) water
1 tablespoon (5 g) nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vegetable bouillon
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ to 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon light soy sauce (**or use coconut aminos)

STOVE-TOP METHOD (This is the method I used.)
Sauté the onion in oil (*or water) until it’s translucent, then add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the mushrooms have cooked down and released their liquid, about 10 minutes. Add everything except sesame, sriracha and soy sauce (**or coconut aminos) to the pot and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Before serving, add sesame, sriracha and soy sauce (**or coconut aminos). Adjust seasonings if needed. (NOTE from Bryanna: I used 3 teaspoons of vegan broth paste [Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken vegan Broth Paste] and 2 teaspoons of soy sauce.)

To prep the night before, sauté the onion in oil (*or water) until it’s translucent, then add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the mushrooms have cooked down and released their liquid. Store the cooked mixture with cut cabbage and corn in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, add everything except sesame, sriracha and soy sauce (**or coconut aminos) to your 4-quart (4-L) slow cooker. Cook 7 to 9 hours on low. Before serving, add sesame, sriracha and soy sauce (**or coconut aminos). Adjust seasonings if needed.

Per serving with oil: Calories 156.8, protein 5.5 g, total fat 5.8 g, carbohydrates 22.4 g, sodium 41.8 mg, fiber 4.9 g

TIP: Cheater Slow Cooker Shortcut: Skip the onion sauté and use ½ teaspoon of onion powder instead. Then add the raw mushrooms into the slow cooker for a throw-it-all-in-and-go meal!