Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tis the Season to Forget Ones Greens

In the middle of a holiday where we are bombarded with sugar plums, candy canes, chocolate Santas, gingerbread men with their houses, and oodles of pies and cakes how do we make room for greens? I mean I will be honest with you, put a gingerbread village in front of me and I will demolish it into the ground taking no prisoners. (Oh I will, don't doubt this sweet tooth of mine combined with the bizarrely awful joy I feel when eating gingerbread men.) Who wants greens when there are sugary treats aplenty!

HAHAHA, bless this website for creating the vision I wanted to share 

Back to the greens... who thinks about them during the holidays? Your insides do! Dark leafy greens are so important to eat daily that I'm not sure there is any other way say it, but as I care about your insides I will try....

"Eat dark leafy greens for nutrients that your body needs to function."
"Want protein, grab a handful of spinach and shove it in your face"
"Think you are feeling a little anemic, eat kale asap and iron up. Kale has more iron than beef."
"I will personally go all gingerbread crazy on you if you don't eat your dark greens."

Hmmm... that last one was over the top... forgive me. I'm clearly in need of some dark greens right now. This sugar high wasn't the best plan right before typing. Quick look at this awesome article on kale:

Check out that delicious feast of kale salad right there. Again, because I care for your insides so much I want you to have this recipe. It is so yummy that you won't mind if you take a break from gingerbread demolishing.

Citrus Tahini Warm Kale Salad
serves 4-6 people
gluten free

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves (pressed)
3-4 basil leaves

Salad Makings:
2 large bunches of kale (dinosaur kale is best)
3 cups shredded cabbage 
3 cups shredded carrot
1 small red onion (diced)
1 cup toasted pecans

Place all your dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend, blend away! Make sure everything is combined really well, and then set aside. 

Clean all your veggies and put them all in a really big bowl. Make sure all the kale is torn into delightful bite sized pieces. Now about that bowl, its going to need to be big to fit them all, so you may have to use two bowls depending. Don't worry, it looks like a lot of food but once you bake the kale it shrinks! With all the veggies in the bowl(s) pour your dressing all over! Then roll up your sleeves and really massage that dressing into the kale with your hands. Once you have massages the salad so that the dressing is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl(s) and place them in the fridge to set for a minimum of an hour. 

Once you have waited an hour (or more, you can literally leave the salad in the fridge for hours before baking) you will need to preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Get out your large baking pans and fill them up with your salad. Bake for 7-10 minutes, don't burn your leaves. While that is baking you can also take your cup of copped pecans and toast them in your toaster oven, or in the oven with your salad if there is room. They don't need very long (5-7 minutes tops). 

Remove your salad from the oven, and sprinkle your pecans on top. Serve immediately, and enjoy the break from the sugar rush. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

On a Serious Note, and a Sillier One Too

Sometimes reading the news makes my insides hurt, and causes uncontrollable mood swings from a random fit of rage to unstoppable waterworks and everything in between. As someone who has experienced the loss of a younger sibling, my heart reaches out to those families in Connecticut. I am not here to use this blog as a political vehicle, and I won't, but I will say can we please find a civil/intelligent/healthy way to end mass shootings? I mean come on man, it's 2012! How have we not figured out a way to prevent these tragedies.

And now for a less than awesome segue (as there really isn't a good one I can think of... Speaking of 2012, how many of you have storage sheds filled with goods just in case the Mayans were right?? Oh those Mayans and their calendars, messing with peoples' heads for years. But seriously, do you have a stock pile of goods? If so, and you are right and I'm wrong, can I come visit on the 22nd? If you say yes I'll make you these delicious and wonderfully holiday filled Gingerbread Cupcakes! YUM!  Or in the spirit of the holidays I'll just share it on here for you folks to munch on before the Mayan calendar shuts us down.

But back to a serious(ish) note, if you are in need of holiday healthier comfort food these little cupcake morsels are the way to go! Yes, they are cupcakes and so aren't screaming health, but they are cholesterol free, refined sugar free (without the frosting), and free of any dairy excess fats. So grab these ingredients, and get to making yourself some extra delicious holiday gingerbread cupcake treats.

Gingerbread Cupcakes
makes about 12-14 cupcakes
(adapted from These Peas are Hollow)

3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each: allspice, ground cloves, ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger (best to use powder and not fresh)
4 tablespoons applesauce
4 tablespoons earth balance (or other vegan butter substitute)
3/4 cup dark molasses
3/4 cup maple sugar
1 large flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax with 4 tablespoons warm water whisked)
1 cup "buttermilk" (1 cup almond milk and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar whisked)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl mix together all your fours, starches, powders, xanthan gum, and spices. Set aside.

Whisk together your buttermilk mixture and let set for 5 minutes. Also whisk together your flax egg mixture and let set for 5 minutes.

Get our your stand mixer (or do this by hand, but the mixer is easier) and in the bowl add molasses, maple sugar, applesauce and earth balance. Beat until everything is combined. Next add in your flax egg and continue to beat until combined. Slowly add in the "buttermilk" and continue to beat the mixture until combined. 

Once your wet ingredients are well blended slowly add your flour mixture. Add it in smaller batches to make the mixing process easier. Once the flour has been completely combined with the wet ingredients it is time to get our your cupcake pan and fill it up! You can use cupcake liners or simply spray your pan, either way works. Fill each cupcake holder about 3/4 (maybe a wee bit higher) full. With the pan filled with cupcake fun place in the oven and cook for 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Place the cupcakes on a cooling rack. While they are cooling clean out your stand mixer bowl and lets make some frosting!

2/3 cup tofutti vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup earth balance
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 - 3 cups sifted powered sugar

Place all ingredients except the powdered sugar in the mixer. Once they all are combined slowly add in the powdered sugar. Beat until well combined. Place the bowl in the fridge and let the frosting set for at least 10 minutes. 

Then once the frosting is ready and the cupcakes are cool, frost, decorate, and devour. :)

Just beet it, beet it, beet it

Fa, la, la, la the holidays make time whirl by faster than a movie montage set to upbeat music. I cannot believe it is already the 14th!?! There were so many things I wanted to blog about, menu plans I wanted to get put together for you guys, and countless other foodie related to-do lists. But you know what they say, its better to be busy and working hard than relaxing poolside somewhere.... <- I am going to have to talk to whoever says sayings like this, because that relaxing option sounds way better!

Fa, la, la, la, I can't keep track of time...

In other news, the holidays bring out the need to bake in me, as I'm sure they do with most people. I had the good luck of stumbling upon a cookie recipe a while back that I really liked, but it wasn't vegan or gluten free. So I pinned it (oh yes, I am an avid pinner on pinterest you should check out the hundreds of pins I be rockin' and thought I would return to it another day. Let me now paint you a sad picture: a young woman logs into her pinterest account to pull up the Christmas cookie recipe she was so excited to try out, but what's this, the pin is no longer valid! The original site is missing!!! NooOoooOooooooOooooo!!!! Pinterest Fail!

This kind of trauma is right on par with breaking a nail or running out of baking powder mid cookie. I was forced to pick up the few pieces of memory I had of this recipe and run with it, and I have to say they turned out freaking delicious. May I present to you some delish vegan-gluten-free Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies! (No dye here folks, so when you get to the portion of the recipe that makes the pink/red color don't freak out. It will taste fan-freakin-tastic, and you will be happy you made them.)

Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies
makes about 20 cookies
gluten free

1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 potato starch
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
3/4 cup earth balance (room temp)
1 extra large flax "egg" (1&1/2 tablespoons ground flax and 6 tablespoons warm water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup beet puree (see recipe below)
1/4 cup peppermint water (see recipe below)

Beet Puree:

1 large beet

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash the beet well and place on a baking sheet. (If you are partial to your baking sheets maybe cover them with foil as beet can stain!) Bake that beet for about 50-60 minutes, or until very tender. Once it is super tender remove from the oven and allow to cool. You need it to cool off enough for you to skin the beet and then place it in your blender or food processor. And then you are going to "beet it, beet it..No one wants to be defeated" hahaha, that had to be done, sorry. On a serious note, blend that beet up until you get a nice smooth puree. You may need to add a little bit of water to get the desired consistency. *This will be the dye that gets your candy cane pink/red. I told you there would be doubt, but believe me you will love these cookies and so will everyone you feed them to.

Picture of Beet Puree is borrowed from Green Little Bites as I was so excited to make the cookies I didn't stop to photograph this step. But this is what the puree looks like if you add a little water :)

Peppermint Water:

1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

In a small bowl whisk the two together. And tah-dah you have peppermint water. Apparently you can also buy this from the store, but this is cheaper and super easy. 

All right, cookie making time! Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

In a bowl mix all your flours, starches, powders, and xanthan gum. Set aside. In a large bowl cream together your butter and sugars. Add the flax egg and beat the mixture well. Next add your vanilla and peppermint extracts (not your peppermint water). Once you have blended these ingredients, slowly add in your flour mixture. until a thick cookie dough is formed. 

Now split the thick dough into two parts in two separate bowls. In one bowl add your 1/4 cup beet puree and blend together until you have a soft, pink dough. In the other bowl add your 1/4 cup peppermint water and blend until you have a nice soft dough. Place both bowls in the fridge for about 20 to 30 minutes. 

Once the dough has set remove from the fridge and get ready for the fun part. (I'm sure you have been having fun up to this point, but this is the really fun part.) Using about a tablespoon or so of each colored dough, roll out about 4-5 inch dough ropes and twist the two colored ropes together to get the look of a candy cane. Place the candy cane cookies on cookie sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes. You want them to be firm but not brown when you remove them from the oven. Once they are out you can gobble them up as is or get a little sugary glaze (2 cups powdered sugar 1-2 tablespoons almond milk, whisk together) and dazzle up the cookies. Whatever you decide, I think that if you make these they will for sure become a holiday staple. Because they are effing delicious. :)