Monday, January 30, 2017


Best Blog Tips

A few days ago I read about using yellow split pea puree as a fat substitute in baking on a Canadian site  (PDF here)  This concept intrigued me because split peas are so nutritious, easy to find, can be stored for long periods of time, and are very inexpensive.

Pulse Pledge was an initiative during the "International Year of Pulses" in 2016. Their website stated: "In 2013 the United Nations declared that 2016 will be the International Year of Pulses. The hope of the 2016 International Year of Pulses (IYP 2016) is to position pulses as a primary source of protein and other essential nutrients. IYP 2016 will promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by pulse farmers, be they large scale farms or small land holders." (PS: Pulse vs. Legume: What's the difference?)

This is a big deal for Canada because:

"Canada’s pulse industry meets the needs of over 150 markets around the globe. Canadian pulse exporters supply whole, split or milled peas, chickpeas, bean and lentils in a variety of shipment sizes. Over the past 25 years, Canada has emerged as the world’s largest exporter of lentils and peas, and one of the world’s top five exporters of beans."

"Canada's large and diverse agricultural land base is ideally suited for growing a range of pulse crops including pea, lentil, bean and chickpea. More than 2.3 million hectares are seeded to pulse crops each year. Long sunny days and suitable soil conditions provide Canada with a natural production advantage, which is enhanced by the use of the latest farm management technology and research. Cold winters not only protect Canadian pulses from disease and insects, but also reduce storage quality concerns."


"Pulse production has a significantly lower carbon footprint than production of animal protein. According to the Global Pulse Confederation: Producing one kilogram of legumes = 0.5 kg in Co2 equivalent, compared with 9.5 kg in Co2 equivalent for one kilogram of beef.

Planting pulses leaves behind nitrogen in the soil, providing valuable nutrients to future crops. Growing them in rotation with other crops can also disrupt disease and insect cycles."


So, though I use pulses in my going on a daily basis, and have used pulse flours (soy, white bean, chickpea, etc.) in cooking and baking, I haven't done alot of baking with pureed cooked pulses.  Ever curious and always on the hunt for ways to cut the fat in cooking without sacrificing flavor and texture, I gave it a shot.  (I had a big container of split yellow peas in my pantry.)

I mixed 2 cups of dried split yellow peas with 4 cups of water in my Instant Pot and pressure cooked at high pressure for 10 minutes. (PS: You could use any pressure cooker, or simmer, covered, for 30 minutes on your stovetop.) The resulting soft mush just needed a few stirs to "puree", and the yield was 5 cups.

I refrigerated the puree in the container for a day or so.  When I removed it from the refrigerator, it had hardened considerably! (See more about this below.) I pressed the puree into silicone cupcake liners and a silicone large ice cube tray in 1/4 cup portions and froze them.  Then I popped out the frozen portions, bagged them up and popped them back into the freezer for future use.

I first experimented with a muffin recipe of my own (a maple walnut muffin), using 1/2 cup of the pea puree instead of the 7 T. applesauce and 2 T. oil used in the original recipe (whIch also calls for a little soymilk and some maple syrup). The original recipe resulted in nice moist muffins.  The experiment with the pea puree produced smaller, drier, and paler muffins-- edible, but not great. (NOTE: I don't like dry muffins, and I especially don't like dry muffins if I'm not going to "butter" them!)

So, back to the drawing board I went. I seemed to me that the puree, when cooled, had hardened to a drier state and that was probably what caused those. So I decided that I would try adding 1 T. of water to each 1/4 cup portion of the pea puree before using the next time.

I had no walnuts left, so couldn't make the same recipe.  I decided to veganize and de-fat  a recipe out of  "The New All Purpose Joy of Cooking" and see what happened.  I chose their carrot muffin recipe. I substituted Aquafaba for the 2 eggs called for, and 1/4 cup pea puree with 1 T. water for the 5 T. oil.  I omitted the nuts and used whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour.

(NOTE ON USING WHOLE WHEAT PASTRY FLOUR IN LOW-FAT OR NO-FAT BAKING:  pastry flour contains less gluten than all purpose flour, so it works well in low-fat or no-fat baking (except in yeast breads).  You see, fat in a recipe coats the gluten strands as you mix, making the muffin or cake batter, for instance, more tender.  If you are using very little or no fat, using pastry flour gives you a more tender product even without the fat.)

I was pleased with the results-- only 134 calories each, very tasty, moist crumb, just the way I like them.  To be fair, the carrots help with the moist texture, but I think I'm on the right track. I'll post any future experiments that are successful, and would love to hear from anyone out there that has had success.

PS: Check out this brownie recipe using Yellow Split Pea Puree:  BRYANNA'S MOIST & DELICIOUS LOW-GLYCEMIC, LOW-FAT, VEGAN BROWNIES (soy-free and gluten-free if you use GF oats; NO added oil).

Printable Copy


Yield: 12 muffins

To make Yellow Split Pea Puree Fat Sub for Baking: Cook 2 cups split yellow peas (no need to soak) + 4 cups water, either 10 minutes at high pressure in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, or 30 minutes simmered on stovetop. Mash and stir to puree. Yield: 5 cups. Freeze in 1/4 cup portions. Thaw; add 1 T. water per 1/4 cup before using in recipes in place of fat in baking, tablespoon for tablespoon. 

Aquafaba (chickpea cooking liquid or liquid from canned chickpeas)Egg Sub for Baking: 3 T. per egg.

Dry Mix:

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup raisins (your choice of variety)
Optional: you can add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts or toasted sunflower seeds if you like.
Wet Mix:
3/4 cup organic light granulated sugar
6  Tbs Aquafaba (chickpea cooking liquid or liquid from canned chickpeas; see above)
1/4 cup yellow split pea puree PLUS 1 Tbs water, whisked together (see above)
1/4 cup orange juice (juice from 1 medium orange)
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 medium carrots)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan by lining with parchment (see how to make quick liners from parchment paper) or silicone cupcake liners, or spraying with oil from a pump-sprayer, or use a light film of cake release.  (See my homemade non-hydrogenated palm-oil-free version here.) I prefer to use my cake release-- I like the outside of my muffins to be a little bit crusty and I find that cupcake liners (especially the silicone ones) result in a softer crust and don't look as browned as they do when no liner is used.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the Dry Mix ingredients. Stir in the raisins.

In a smaller bowl or pitcher, whisk together the Wet Mix ingredients EXCEPT for the carrots.  If you see any lumps from the pea puree, use an immersion/stick blender to briefly blend the mixture until smooth.

Add the carrots to the Wet Mix and stir to mix thoroughly.

Scoop the wet Mix into the Dry Mix and fold the mixtures together until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened-- don't over-mix. It's a fairly wet batter, BTW.

Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cups and bake for about 15 minutes.  Test the center of one muffin with a toothpick.  If it comes out wet, bake for a 3-5 minutes more.  Cool on a rack for a few minutes before releasing the muffins from the pan.  Serve hot, or cool the muffins on a rack.

Servings: 12

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per serving): 134 calories, 4 calories from fat, less than 1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 195.1mg sodium, 221mg potassium, 31.5g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 17.4g sugar, 2.8g protein, 3.9 points.


Sunday, January 22, 2017


Best Blog Tips
UPDATE: There is a new post (Feb. 19, 2017) on making a double batch of this yogurt in the Instant pot insert, and it is a slightly streamlined recipe.

I've been working on this yogurt for a few months.  I wasn't having much of luck getting a tangy yogurt that was also medium-thick and creamy, like the yogurt I grew up with.  I also wanted a mixture that didn't include a thickener that needed to be cooked, and I also didn't want to have to sterilize the milk first.

I have finally refined the recipe to my satisfaction, and, now that I have an Instant Pot with a yogurt mode, that makes it even more convenient.  It's so quick to make that I make a batch every 5 days or so, rather than making huge batches that may or may not fit into my refrigerator!

Why do I make soy yogurt?  I want the nutrition of soy milk and the creaminess without too much fat. The most thorough chart of the nutrients in various plant-based milks is here:  You can see there  how superior soy is in nutrition.

If you are wary of soymilk, check out my page of research here: If you are worried about GMO beans, just buy organic soymilk-- organic products cannot contain GMO ingredients or they lose their organic labelling. The thickening ingredient is also NON-GMO, according to my research.

Many people make coconut yogurt from canned coconut.  However, 1 serving (1/2 cup) of that type of coconut yogurt is 240 calories compared to about 57 calories for this soy yogurt (made from full-fat soymilk). The coconut yogurt contains about 20 g fat per serving, 14 g of it saturated, compared to 2 g fat (.4 g of it saturated) in the same amount of soy yogurt. And 1/2 cup soy yogurt contains about 3.2 g protein, compared to 2 g or less with canned coconut milk.

Do we really need to use a thickener?
I've read so many blog posts and FB post and comments about making vegan yogurt and I scratch my head at how some people produce a soy yogurt so nice and solid with no thickeners at all. I have come to the conclusion that soy milks and other plant milks are vary in some way so that some of them thicken without help, and some don't.

I have experimented in the past with cornstarch, tapioca starch and agar powder (each by itself, and then various mixtures of the above) as thickeners and didn't really like the consistency or mouthfeel of any of them, alone or together with another. I also didn't want to have to cook anything in the procedure.  Instant ClearJel®(not regular ClearJel®, BTW) proved to be the answer to making nice creamy yogurt that will hold its' shape with any cooking.

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 amazon.comhoosierhillfarm.combarryfarm.comand King Arthur Flour for US customers. 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®.) According to their website, Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver, BC carries it, too, but I'm not sure if they do mail order (their website is under construction right now).
For information about these thickeners, see (According to this source and others, Instant Clearjel® and Ultra Gel® are both NON-GMO.)

Printable Recipe

Yield: 5 cups

Ingredients (only 3!):
The Milk:
4 cups (946 mL) UHT (ultra heat treated; in a Tetra Pak carton) organic soymilk,  original style-- use an UN-opened carton (I use PC Organics Fortified Soy Beverage, Original, a Canadian brand-- I prefer "original" to "plain".)
The Starter:
1/4 cup commercial or homemade soy yogurt with live culture (I have used "Nancy's Cultured Soy" with success), OR 1 tsp. dried vegan yogurt culture OR powder from 2 probiotic capsules (live, nondairy)
The Thickener:
3 Tbs Instant ClearJel®-- DO NOT use regular Clear Jel for making jam and pies

An 8-cup microwave-safe (Pyrex) batter bowl or something similar
measuring cups and spoons
Immersion/stick blender
an 8" fine mesh stainless steel strainer with handle
a soup spoon
another bowl or pitcher (or even a pot) that will hold at least 6 cups-- the strainer should be able to rest on top of it without slipping.
5 half-pint canning jars and lids

Sterilise/scald all equipment with boiling water, including the jars and the working end of the immersion blender.

Pour 1 cup of the soy milk, straight out of the newly-opened carton, into the batter bowl.  Heat on High in the microwave for 2 minutes. Pour in the remaining milk. Add the starter or yogurt and sprinkle on the Instant ClearJel®. Blend with the immersion/stick blender until well-blended with no perceptible lumps, but not excessively frothy.
Place the strainer over the extra bowl, pot or pitcher and slowly pour the yogurt mixture into it.  Press the mixture through with the back of the soup spoon if it won't go through easily.  Strain all of the yogurt mixture. This will make for a very smooth yogurt and only takes a minute or two.

Pour the mixture into the 5 jars, screw on the lids and place on the rack inside of the Instant Pot.  Secure the lid, open the steam vent and push the Yogurt function button.  Set the time.  I like a fairly tangy yogurt, so I set it for 10 hours, depending on how long I've been using the starter (it gets tangier with age, and then weakens, by which time you need a new starter). You can taste it after about 8-9 hours and add time if need be.  It will get a little tangier as it cools in the refrigerator.

When it's done, refrigerate the jars for 12 hours before serving.

Save 1/4 cup for the next batch (use within a week) until you judge that the starter is weakening. (Weak starter may cause the yogurt to curdle, separate, and/or be lumpy or runny, and the taste may be not as tangy. If this happens, use the results for smoothies and, next time, start with powdered vegan starter, probiotic powder or newly-purchased soy yogurt.)

Servings: 10

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/2 cup serving): 57 calories, less than 1 calories from fat, 2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 26.1mg sodium, 160mg potassium, 5.9g carbohydrates, less than 1g fiber, 3.2g sugar, 3.2g protein, 1.4 points.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Best Blog Tips

About 10 years ago, I developed the original of this recipe for my now-defunct cooking newsletter The Vegan Feast Kitchen.  I was going for a partially whole-grain, low-fat, moist muffin with good structure.  (I don't like dry muffins.) In those days, I often used medium-firm or silken (extra-firm) tofu as an egg replacer in this type of baking, and it worked well. The other day I came across the recipe and I had all the makings. They sounded perfect for a cold winter day, along with a hot cup of tea. 

As I was assembling the ingredients, I wondered if I could use aquafaba instead of the tofu (my freezer is full of aquafaba ice cubes!). I had my doubts, because tofu is solid and aquafaba is liquid.  But, you never know til you try, so I took the plunge and substituted aquafaba for the tofu, measure for measure, but cut the non-dairy milk down by 1/4 cup. I also decided to cut the sugar down by a third, which turned out to be a good decision. The batter was very moist, even by my standards (my muffin and cake batters tend to be more moist than traditional ones) and I was a bit worried, but there was not much I could do about it at that point, so into the oven they went.

I also opted for using the two-thirds of the batter for muffins and one third for mini tea breads in little fruitcake pans, just for the heck of it.

It worked! The muffins and the tea breads came out beautifully.  (Note: I don't know if the batter would turn out so well in a large loaf pan.) The crumb was moist but the muffins and bread were easy to slice, and the flavor and aroma were balanced and delicious. This recipe is definitely a keeper and I'm happy to be able to use up some of my aquafaba stash in all of my old muffin recipes.

Printable Copy

Makes 18 muffins OR 12 muffins plus 2 mini tea breads

2 cups whole wheat PASTRY flour (do not substitute regular whole wheat flour or the muffins will be tough)
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk (I use soy milk)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup aquafaba (liquid from cooking chickpeas, or from canned chickpeas)
1 cups light unbleached granulated sugar
6 tablespoons smooth unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup oil
1 tablespoon oat bran
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
grated zest of 2 of the mandarin oranges/tangerines from "Additional" below
3 large mandarin oranges/tangerines (or 6 small ones)
1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup lightly-toasted chopped pecans (or other nuts, if you prefer)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare 18 muffin cups. (OR 12 muffin cups and two mini loaf pans [5.75 x 3 x 2 inches). You can use silicone cupcake liners, if you wish. I use my Homemade Cake Release to grease the muffin pans (and mini loaf pans) and don't use liners, because I like a bit of a crust on my muffins.

Use a citrus zester to zest two of the mandarin oranges. Set the zest side. Peel all three of the mandarin oranges and section them. Remove any pits that might be present. Carefully cut the sections into small pieces with a sharp knife. Set aside.

Whisk together the Dry Mix ingredients in a large bowl. Add the mandarin orange
pieces, pecans, and cranberries and toss briefly to coat.

In a blender, combine the Wet Mix ingredients until smooth, including the mandarin orange zest.

Pour the Wet Mix into the Dry Mix and stir briefly-- it will still be lumpy. Don't over-stir. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin cups (and mini loaf pans, if using). Bake for about 20 minutes for muffins and 25 minutes for mini loaf-- test for doneness with a cake tester or toothpick. Cool the pans on racks for 10-15 minutes before removing the muffins.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1 muffin or 1/6th tea bread):  249 calories, 52 calories from fat, 6g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 150.8mg sodium, 253.7mg potassium, 46.9g carbohydrates, 3.8g fiber, 13.5g sugar, 3.8g protein


Sunday, January 1, 2017


Best Blog Tips

I don't know about you, but, after all the feasting and festivities, we feel like eating pretty simple food.  But, given the cold Northern wind blowing here today over the water, it's got to be solid winter food-- solid, but not stodgy.  Tonight, of course, we're having my vegan version of Hoppin' John, a New Year's tradition with Southern roots (I do have ancestors who hailed from Virginia).  The beans (or black-eyed peas, in this case) are for luck, along with some cooked greens for money, and some corn bread or brown rice (I haven't decided yet).

But, after that, we often have winter soup meals. (I love making soups, in case you hadn't noticed!)  So here is a soup that I developed some years ago, but have not ever posted on this blog. It's a creamy chowder-- so warming and satisfing-- but with a few twists.  I hope you enjoy it!

Serves 6 
Can you ever have enough good soup recipes? Not in my book! This recipe uses a bit of smoked salt for extra flavor.

4 cups vegetarian bouillon (I prefer Better-Than-Bouillon No-Chicken Vegetarian OR  Better-Than-Bouillon Vegetable broth pastes-- use a little more salt with the vegetable base)
1/2 lb sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced celery
1 bay leaf
1 tsp smoked salt (or sea salt with a few shakes of liquid smoke)
2 cups frozen corn kernels
2 vegan "Smoked Apple Sausages", sliced (Field Roast or Tofurky brands)
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk of choice
1/2 cup medium-firm tofu OR firm to extra-firm SILKEN tofu
2 Tbs potato starch
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
smoked paprika (pimenton) for garnish

Mix together the broth, sweet potatoes, potatoes, green onions, red pepper, celery, bay leaf, and smoked salt in a medium soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the potatoes are just tender. Add the corn kernels and the sliced sausage and heat through.

In a blender, combine the milk and tofu with the potato starch until smooth. Pour, stirring, into the hot soup. Stir until it thickens (potato starch thickens when mixed with hot liquid-- it doesn't actually have to cook). Add pepper to taste and taste for salt.

Serve hot, sprinkled with the optional smoked pimenton, if you like.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 248.2 calories; 20% calories from fat; 5.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 586.5mg sodium; 558.1mg potassium; 36.2g carbohydrates; 6.9g fiber; 8.2g sugar; 15.8g protein; 4.6 points.

I wish you all a Happy New Year!