A Celebration of Green (including guilt-free vegan ice cream)

I know, I know. The whole world is talking about green and leprechauns and luck today. So let’s embrace it!  To celebrate my happy feelings on this very GREEN holiday, I give you my celebration of Green!

Green Smoothie Goodness

Green Smoothie Goodness

1. The every morning, make me feel awesome, make my kids happy GREEN SMOOTHIE. Mine is always different from the day before, but it’s always good.

Early Spring green

2. My happy green plants in my early garden. Somehow we managed to overwinter quite a bit. The spinach is READY and baby lettuces and chard and kale and even my little garlic tips are coming up!

Nut based mint chip ice cream

Nut based mint chip ice cream

3. This green by nature (Spinach!) nut-based Mint Chip Ice Cream.  And I never fail to obliterate my chips, so I’m going to have to work on that, but it’s fantastic. And it’s (almost – I want to try the sweetened cacao nibs in it when I get some) completely unrefined plant-based awesomeness. The recipe is below!

Green frisbee (Medium)

Giant Green Frisbee

4. This GIANT green frisbee. It represents a lot of wonderful things in my life, most recently the chance to play with my almost six year old, and not the least of which was getting to know some random guy in Monterey while playing frisbee in the dark more than nine years ago.

Green girlGreen Boy

5. This little girl in in the little green shirt, and this little boy in the little green dinosaur pajamas. Happy, happy green-ness!

It's this good.

It’s this good.

Nut-based Mint Chocolate Chip Vegan Ice cream (almost guilt-free)

Yield – about 3 cups

1 c. mixed nuts*
8 pitted dates, soaked + 2 T cold water
OR 3 pitted dates + ¼ c. sweetener (agave, maple, honey for the non-veganers)
Small handful of spinach (your natural food coloring!)
2-3 drops peppermint oil or ½ t. peppermint extract
Pinch of salt
2 ½ c. ice

¼ to ½ cup chocolate/carob chips or sweetened cacao nibs

Blend everything but the chocolate in a high powered blender until it just starts to move together. It will look nicely mixed but still really thick. If you can tamp it down (Vitamix) that might help it along. Add your chocolate and blend on low until just broken up. And enjoy!

Try not to overblend. I usually do and am disappointed when mine is more like soft serve than ice cream, but you can always pop it into your ice cream maker to freeze it up more like ice cream.

* If using all cashews, add 3-4 pecans to neutralized “that” cashew flavor. I’ve tried the Costco roasted mixed nuts, and that was awesome. Any blend will do, but a stronger flavored nut will make itself known if given the chance.

Matt’s birthday dessert – including the infamous homemade “Magic Shell”

I’m about to introduce you to Choc-Top. It’s like the Magic Shell you used to get as a kid (or last year in our case – same thing really) and put on your ice cream, after which you would whack it with your spoon to see if you could shatter it. I think it was one of the best ice cream toppings. Ever. And I even learned to recreate it just before giving up dairy (for the most part, of course). I was afraid my efforts were wasted since I really don’t love most vegan ice cream substitutes. And it hurts to spend $6.99 on something you don’t really love.

That is until last month when faced with Matt’s birthday and his request for something cold and frozen for his birthday cake. Really? Isn’t it bad enough that his birthday is always right before Father’s Day? And I’d already failed in the present department – read: I bought him a belt, a boring brown belt. So, his cake was important. And you can’t just call up Cold Stone and get a vegan ice cream cake. Jerks.

So somehow, while perusing Sunflower with two of my screaming children, the inspiration came. Or maybe I was just looking for an excuse to buy a treat and I grabbed some Newman-Os. Okay, I get it. They may be vegan but soo not healthy, but since I was failing in present-land, I needed to succeed in treat-land.

And I was shopping hungry again. Fortunately, the soy ice cream was on sale, so I bought two pints with minimal cursing at the price.

To make this short story too long, I made a vegan ice cream cake with a bashed up Newman O crust (with some coconut oil to give it structure), two pints of soy ice cream, and Choc-Top on top in a spring form pan. I let the whole thing set up until singing time and belt present opening.

The results were very tasty, and it made a lovely ice cream cake that could not be consumed in one sitting by our family (thank goodness). But, I also learned a few things:

1 – Put the candles in when you pour in the Choc-Top or they are NEVER going in.

2 – Choc-Top is hard to cut, so if you have an electrically heated knife, use it. And if you have one, I’d really like to know, because I just made that up.

3 (Most Important) – If you try to cut the cake and the Choc-Top stays in place but the rest of it collapses, there may be a problem with your freezer. Take that opportunity on Father’s Day to clean out said freezer and throw a bunch of food away. Then consider that it might not be the freezer, but rather the ground-fault interrupt in the BATHROOM! that your daughter pushed for fun the other day that led to complete and total freezer melt-down. Literally.

Choc-Top

9 oz (3/4 bag) Ghiradelli Semi-sweet morsels, or other vegan chocolate

1/4 c. unrefined coconut oil

In a heat proof bowl over simmering water (a double boiler, if you will), melt the two together and stir. Remove from heat. Lick the spoon.

Store in a glass jar at room temperature or pour immediately over preferred frozen treat, which will, of course, melt said treat but leave you with a really cool shell of chocolate where your treat once was. To return Choc-Top to a liquid state, place jar in bowl or cup of hot water. Betcha didn’t know it was that easy to have SO MUCH FUN!! You’ll probably start covering frozen bananas and ice cubes, and maybe even a cake. Just make sure your freezer is still working when you do.

Variations: add toasted nuts or coconut; replace unrefined with refined coconut oil and add a teaspoon or two of vanilla/almond/orange/peppermint extracts or a few drops of essential oil.

Why this works (in case you’re wondering): Coconut oil is solid to just above most room temperature, and liquid at 76 degrees or just higher. When added to something cold, it becomes hard, thanks to the solidity of the chocolate combined with the coconut oil. And they’re both super tasty, so why wouldn’t you combine them?

I don’t know about green eggs and ham, but I do. not. like. millet.

I tried this cozy millet bowl with mushroom gravy recipe on ohsheglows.com I didn’t really like it, as I have decided I don’t really like millet. So that is all I will say about that.

I did make up a chowder recipe that was pretty tasty though. I didn’t mean to make chowder, but that is what it most reminds me of. I was trying to make a tasty version of an Amish potato soup my sister makes. It is sooooo yummy, but requires milk and cheese. My vegan version (tastes nothing like the original). I liked it, but the cauliflower gave it kind of a bitter “bite.” My sister LOVED it and wanted the recipe. As she wolfed it down she wondered if her husband would like it—he never even got a taste. My son did not like it  (but he doesn’t like much) He insisted there was a grain in it (so did my sister) but it is the cauliflower, when it is lightly blended, it has the texture of a grain. I will try this one again, but I think with broccoli next time.

Creamy Vegi Chowder

 Creamy Vegi Chowder

Ingredients:

½ c diced celery

1 c diced carrots

4 diced medium potatoes

1 med head cauliflower

2 cups chopped kale

3 cups vegetable broth

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or crushed red pepper flakes, this gives it a bite, so leave out if you don’t want so spicy)

Low-fat vegan cheeze sauce, divided (see below for recipe)

1/2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)

1 tsp onion powder, to taste

Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup fresh minced parsley, plus more to garnish

Smoked paprika for garnish

Add everything to large pot, simmer for about 15 mins, until potatoes are tender to fork, but not soft. You can leave in big chunks, but I pulsed mine in the vitamix, a little. (Do it in 2 batches) then mix cheese sauce with blended veggies. Garnish with smoked paprika

Low-Fat Vegan Cheeze Sauce (double batch)

Found this on OhSheGlows. Here is the link.

Ingredients:

1.5 cup unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk

3/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 tbsp Earth Balance or other non-dairy buttery spread

2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 tbsp + 1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1. In a skillet or pot, melt the Earth Balance over medium heat.

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/4 cup milk until all clumps are gone.

3. Whisk in the remaining milk (1.25 cups) as well as the milk and flour mixture into the pot. Now whisk in the nutritional yeast. Reduce heat to low-medium.

4. Add Dijon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste and whisk frequently over low heat until the sauce thickens up, for 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn it. Remove from heat once thick.

Andrew’s favorite because he doesn’t know it is good for him. Even as I make it, he tells me how much he hates spinach, but he loves these:

Peanut Buttercup shake

 Peanut Buttercup Shake

Servings: 2

½ cup chocolate almond milk

¼ cup peanut butter

1 heaping tsp cocoa

2 tsp agave (to taste)

½ c spinach (yup, weird and gives it a weird color, but can’t taste it. Warning: do not let child see this part)

2 cups ice

Blend on high in vitamix. Top with vegan whip cream (optional).

Nutritional info per serving: calories: 250, Fat 15, Carbs 17.5, fiber 2, protein 9

I found several other shakes in Chef AJ’s book that I am going to try this week.

Bread sticks

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I used my kamut sour dough bread recipe to make bread sticks. Andrew LOVES these!

In my quest to get nutrition into my vegan son who does not like vegetables, or protein—he just likes carbs really, I am always looking for ways to hide them in the food he likes. I hide them in EVERYTHING. I discovered the trick in “Deceptively Delicious” it is a cookbook by Jessica Seinfield,  it isn’t vegetarian or vegan, but I adapt the recipes. I puree veggies in bulk and put them in ziplock bags in the freezer.

One of his favorite foods is mashed potatoes and ranch. I modified my original concoction to be vegan. He loved them.

Complete Meal Mashed Potatoes created by me approved by my vegan son

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1 cup pureed cauliflower (steam it and add a little water to puree)

1 cup navy beans pureed (you will need to add a little water to get these to puree)

4-5 cups mashed potatoes (I leave the peels on if the potatoes are fresh)

4 eggs (optional)

½ cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp Italian seasoning

¼-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (just depends on how thick you like them)

Salt to taste

1 cup ranch dressing (I used this vegan dressing)

½ cup melted earth balance butter (sometimes I sub with olive oil, but the earth balance does add flavor)

1 cup dayia shredded cheese (optional, for top)

1 bag French fried onions (for topping, this is the piece de resistance for my son, he loves these on top)

Method: mix everything in a big bowl except cheese and French fired onions. Place in 9×13 pan, cover,  bake on 350 for 30-40 mins. Top with cheese and French onions.

Another staple at our house are homemade noodles. Andrew went vegan for moral reasons, so he will eat things I make with our chicken’s unfertilized eggs, and milk from our goats.

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Homemade egg noodles (vegetarian—I don’t know how to make egg noodles without eggs)

1 cup white unbleached flour     (these started with 2 cups white flour, but trying to wean him off white flour, so I replace 1 cup with kamut and pastry whole wheat)

½ cup kamut flour

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

¾ cup semolina flour

1 tsp  salt

4 eggs

2-3 Tbs olive oil

Mix everything in Bosch adding a little hot water until dough forms (1-2 Tbls). Mix for 10 mins. Cover dough and let rest 20 mins. Divide into sections,

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roll out (this part is Andrew’s job, I have a pasta maker I got for last years birthday, thanks sisters and mom) but you can do it by hand. Hang to dry. If you want to cook immediately bring broth to boil, cook noodles for 3-4 mins. Once noodles are dry cook 6-7 mins.

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