Two VERY handy sites, and making Coconut Butter

The internet is LOADED with too much information, so much that I have a hard time sifting. Let me sift a little for you. And hopefully, you’re not completely sick of white stuff in jars since I keep posting them. But don’t worry, real food is coming. I’m just setting the stage for future greatness, giving you the tools if you will, to make wonderful things soon.

So first, have you ever found yourself cleaning out your cupboard or pantry and realized you had three cans of veggie broth, or that jar of roasted red peppers you knew was back there had been tucked away for longer than you’d thought – like two years? Did you know that the best by date isn’t always the definitive date? Yes, you probably do, but I still have friends for whom this is new information and so, I share.

Still Tasty not only tells you how much longer your canned goods are good for (sometimes two or three years!), but your fruits and vegetables, and well, everything other edible in your kitchen. There is so much information on this site, you could spend days and still probably learn something new, or at least novel. I will confess, there are many items lacking, BUT the catalog is continually increasing.

So, if after checking StillTasty you find you probably shouldn’t use that tempeh that ended up in the back corner of your fridge for six months, there is yet another site I frequent. It is where I go when I realize I am missing what I THINK is a vital ingredient.

The Cook's Thesaurus

Unfortunately, the URL is rather than its name, but I love the URL since it’s easier to remember when I’m looking for a substitute ingredient. It’s not as easy to navigate as I would like, but the search bar is pretty helpful. One of the best parts is that some recommended substitutes have how-to directions!

I wanted to make Shira’s brownies at InPursuitofMore, but I did not have nor had I ever made coconut butter. So I foodsubbed it. This is what I found:

coconut butter  To make your own:  Toast grated coconut over low heat in a frying pan until lightly browned, then whirl it (while still hot) in a blender until it has the consistency of a smooth paste.

There were no pictures, but hey, those are pretty straight-forward directions and I’m not as dumb as I might look sometimes. So, I tossed some shredded, unsweetened, dried coconut and did just that. Heated it and popped it in the Vitamix and started it running. I was surprised by how it transformed from a pile of dried coconut into a creamy, SUPER-HOT, fatty quasi-liquid. It almost had the consistency of what happens when you mix cornstarch and water – a liquid-solid. It was also very much like butter (though very coconutty) and not anything I imagined should have worked.  As it cooled, it hardened much like coconut oil and works like butter in recipes. Cool, huh?

I have since repeated the procedure with more precise measurements to be more helpful. I know I would have appreciated a bit more info when I first tried it. I don’t think a regular blender could handle this, and I recommend a VitaMix because I found the tamper VERY useful. A BlendTec definitely has the power, it just requires more stopping and starting as you stir the contents.

Here are the details in a better form.

Homemade Coconut Butter
Adapted from Cook’s Thesaurus
Yield: 2 cups

4 c. shredded, unsweetened, dried coconut

Over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet, allow coconut to LIGHTLY toast, stirring or flipping frequently to keep from burning. (The goal is primarily to get it hot, but a bit of nuttiness from the toasting improves the flavor.) Quickly add the coconut to power blender, and turn it on and up. Using the tamper if you have one, push the coconut into the blades, adjusting blender speed in order to keep the coconut moving. You may need to stop and start, especially if you don’t have a tamper; pulsing it and shaking the jar will be helpful! This will take a few minutes and the contents will get HOT, as they reach maximum smoothness. The coconut will start moving itself as it begins to liquefy, at which point you’re close. Stop occasionally and check consistency – it should be quite smooth.

When it’s done, it’s done! Pour into a clean container and allow to cool at room temperature. If you’re really ambitious, pour into a muffin tin to get ½ cup portions because it’s pretty tough to break up after it cools.


Raw Vegan Sour Cream

cute nephew, right?

My nephew is almost 12 now, (5 in the picture above), but when he was 2 and more than a handful (no, seriously, he was tough), we lived in his basement. Sometimes, to give his parents a break, we’d have him down to visit and he’d help us make dinner. One of our common meals was guacamole and chips – super healthy, I know, in which we used just a “dollop” of sour cream.  My husband had a bit of a love affair with sour cream, so he’d always lick the spoon afterward. One time my cute nephew said, “I wike it, Nutsy!” anticipating a taste too, and so we gave him a little spoonful to try. Cute nephew gleefully took said spoonful into his mouth and immediately thereafter did that kid thing of just letting the food fall out of his mouth and said, “I don’t wike it, Nutsy!”

raw sour cream mimi kirk

We all miss sour cream just a little. I am not saying we’d take a spoonful like we used to, but it’s such a useful and versatile ingredient in baking, cooking, and adding just that little bit of tang to things like baked potatoes and burritos. I haven’t been happy with any of the store-bought ones, nor any of the recipes for tofu ones. So, a couple of weeks ago, I picked up Mimi Kirk’s “Live Raw” at the library (and one day I’ll own it) and flipping through found a recipe for sour cream.

mushroom stroganoff strawberry broken heart cake

So, I made it. And I didn’t soak my cashews because I have a Vita-Mix and that’s its job. And the second batch was better than the first for reasons I couldn’t tell you. And I used it a week and a half later and it was still fantastic – I think the probiotics actually make a big difference in curing it. And I only took a few pictures because I’m lame like that. But I have since used it in mushroom stroganoff (angels singing above), a strawberry coffee cake (I made two in three days and ate both of them), and topped potatoes (so good with chives!), burritos, and tacos happily with it. And Mimi said I could share it – thanks Mimi, you’re beautiful!

Raw Vegan Sour Cream


1 c. cashews, soaked for 4 hours (optional if you have a power blender)
½ t. probiotics, for curing – I emptied two New Chapter probiotic capsules
1 t. light miso paste
¼ t. salt
3 T. lemon Juice
¾ – 1 c. water


Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy, adding more water if necessary. Place in a covered container and store in the refrigerator. Mixture thickens as it chills. To thin, add more water. To thicken add 2 T. Irish moss paste. Use anywhere you would sour cream.


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.

Carrots, Unleashed (Carrot Butter?)

Carrot Butter is a weird sounding food, unless you’ve been to Sage’s Cafe in downtown SLC. Then, it sounds heavenly

The first time we went to Sage’s we had no idea it was a vegan restaurant and we were, quite honestly, relatively unimpressed with one exception. This was many years ago. We have been back many times now, and while the food is always tasty and we try something different every time (or the same thing we had before but forgot how we liked it), we always go back for the same thing. And every time I recommend Sage’s or someone asks what is good, I always say they must, MUST, get the Carrot Butter.

And what’s the deal? Apparently, it’s pick your favorite animal week here at GCF. We have two rat-bags and a “green” frog. This totally works though, because in my house, my five year old insists that we always choose an animal to be for the daywhen we wake up in the morning. So, today I pick a copy-cat (love your creations Chef Ian – I just need them family-sized!). So, with a bit of internet searching and a little tweaking, I’ve mastered this beautiful, NEON ORANGE creation. I sent my husband a picture of the Vitamix full of orange stuff, and he told me it might freak people out to know this was food. When he got home and saw the Vosen’s seeded baguette, he knew dinner would be amazing. At least for the grown-ups. (This is not a kid-approved recipe, which I totally don’t get because it’s sweet. And neon orange. What’s not to like?)

Then I brought some down to Somer’s for her post-birthday bash. It seemed to go over pretty well. (Her text tonight said this: Can’t. Stop. Eating. Carrot. Butter.) Erika was a bit thrilled with it as well, and told me I HAD to post it soon. I sorta wish I’d taken pictures today since we made lovely open-faced sandwiches with fresh garden vegetables on crusty bread. So, so good.

So, here is the scoop:

Sage’s Carrot Butter

1 ¼ lb. (about 6-7 medium) carrots, peeled, small dice
¾ c. macadamia nuts
¼ c. safflower or canola oil
2 T. maple syrup
½ T. salt
½ – 1 t. vanilla, to taste


  • Steam carrots until very tender, 20-30 minutes depending on how small you dice them. Reserve about ½ c. of your steaming water
  • Place carrots, nuts, oil, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and ¼ c. reserved water in blender or food processor. Let it rip until the texture is very smooth, almost the consistency of fluffy frosting. A Vitamix or Blendtec will do the job handily, but I make no claims to the performance of other apparatuses – consider soaking your macadamias if you’re ripping without super-blender.
  • Serve on crusty seeded baguette with cucumbers, or on a spoon. It also makes a delicious sandwich spread or cucumber spread (that’s how Erika ate hers since she’s giving wheat the crusty eye these days).

Cheesy, Creamy, Bacony, Potato Soup

If it had been a full moon Sunday I could blame it for transforming me into a werewolf and chewing on a piece of meat like an animal. I couldn’t help it, it was my favorite meat and it was taunting me, sitting right there in the fridge. I have to say I didn’t feel guilty afterward, at all. And it tasted really good. I still have fond memories of it. Since no full moon, I have to blame it on how stressed I have been this past week. I have a 13 year old son, I could give you details, but I think the only relevant detail is: 13 year old son.

Though I don’t feel guilty about eating the poor cow, I don’t really want to do it again (I was a little nauseous the rest of the night) so I created something really tasty to stave off any cravings (I also gave the rest of the roast beast to my sister). Since my produce shopping is done in my garden every morning, I wanted  to create something that used what I could get from there.  I have been happily feasting on this for two days!

Cheesy, Creamy, Bacony, Potato Soup

Makes 7 cups


2 cups Soy milk

4 cups diced boiled or baked potato (my potatoes were fresh out of the garden so I left skins on)

2 cups diced zuchinni or summer squash (optional, but I think it makes it better)

1/3 cup cubbed cashew cheese

½ cup onion

½ t dried dill

½ t dried rosemary (I had fresh so I used several sprigs)

½ t dried thyme (I had fresh so I used several leaves)

1 t Herbamare (or fav salt seasoning)

½ t liquid smoke

Method: sauté onions, pull out ¼ cup, add squash and sauté while you mix the following in the vitamix

Vitamix:  place milk, 2 cups potatoes, cheese, ¼ cup sautéed onion, dill, rosemary, thyme, herbamare and liquid smoke in vitamix. Blend on high for about 4 minutes. Add 2 more cups diced potatoes and gently pulse (on low) until incorporated, but you don’t want to lose all the chunks. If you are using old potatoes I would peel these.

Mix in sautéed squash and onion (optional, I left these out for Andrew). Enjoy!

Makes 7 cups, Nutritional info per cup

Calories Protein Fat Carbs Sugar Fiber
136 5.4 1.8 25 2.7 3.8

Progress Report (if you want the full story of why  you are getting my weight

Nutrition: not good, as I mentioned I had a stressful week.Stayed within 1200 calorie budget 3 out of 7 days then I was closer to 2000 and they were not good calories

Weight: I gained 2 lbs (could it be when I turned into a werewolf and consumed a carcass?) On Monday I weighed in at 154, now I have 7 lbs to go to get to the weight I was unhappy with last Oct.

Exercise : I ran six out of seven days, strength training twice, and taught one power yoga class

My favorite Julia Child tribute (Julia also loved this one)

Cows, Disney and Kale Chips

Last week Andrew and I went to Long Beach to meet our friends Colin and Jenn and their 2 year old Liam. Although it was the first time meeting them, it felt more like a reunion. Colin and Jenn are vegan, have been for awhile and have helped me be a better vegan mom to Andrew. It was such a delight  to be around like-minded people and it gave me joy to see Andrew devour everything Colin handed him without question. It must be exhausting for Andrew to eat. He scrutinizes every label, he basically doesn’t eat anything I don’t make from scratch, wait it is exhausting for me to feed Andrew! Colin and Jenn introduced us to a few new favorite things

  1. Veggie Grill. If you don’t have one of these restaurants in your area, start petitioning to get one! I can’t convey how good the food was with words or pictures, but here is one pic to give you an idea. This place will satisfy carnivores!
    All American Stack, steak strips with Onion rings and sweet potato Fries, Buffalo Wings with Ranch dipping sauce

See better photos and like them on Facebook at\

  1. Colin told me about VegNews magazine awhile ago and I love it

This magazine comes every other month, has great recipes, fun facts like:

Cows have BFFs—really a study measured the heart rate of cows who were isolated, paired with random cows or penned with their preferred partner. Those alongside their best friend exhibited reduced levels of stress compared to those who were with a stranger-cow.

 and excellent articles. You can subscribe and get an online newsletter: I just got a yummy recipe for Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

that I can’t wait to try, you can see it here,  if you make it let me know how you like it!

3. Ranch Kale Chips. I have made plain ones before and love them, but found these at whole foods and couldn’t stop thinking about them, so I figured out how to make my own—unfortunately I ate them all before I remembered to take a picture.

Ranch Kale Chips (Andrew approved)

1 cup raw cashews

1 bunch of kale, spines removed, torn into 2×2” (about)

¼ cup water

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 tsp rice vinegar

Method: blend everything in your Vitamix until smooth, coat kale with mixture, place on tinfoil lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with a little more sea salt. Cook on 275 for about 20 minutes, or until kale is crispy, I had to turn mine a few times to get it crispy on all sides. Next time I am going to throw the whole mess in a dehydrator for a few hours to get a more even crisp.

We also spent a few days in Disneyland and learned what the vegan options are—not many.

  1. Plain Mickey Mouse pretzel (we had more than 1)
  2. Popcorn (not healthy, but so tasty)
  3. Best Meal was in Carnation Café on Main street, they had a certified Vegan Burger, it was ok, Andrew thought it was outstanding, but that was because he was starving.
  4. I had a “veggie” sandwich in Adventure land and it was GROSS.
  5. We found Vegetarian chili in Frontierland, that you could make Vegan by holding the cheese and sour cream, but didn’t get to try it
  6. Blue Bayou  had a Portabella meal, but we didn’t try it

Virtual Vegan Potluck – Beverage: Frosty Strawberry Lemonade with Mint

It’s Somer Saturday and the Virtual Vegan Potluck! I am so proud of Annie at for putting this shindig together! Isn’t she the best!?!

You can’t get a much more refreshing combo than strawberries, lemons and mint. Somehow together they make a magical frosty drink that is tart with just a hint of sweetness, Most of the sweetness comes from the strawberries, just the way I like it! This is also lovely because it comes together in no time.

Frosty Strawberry Lemonade with Mint

 3 C. fresh or frozen strawberries

1/4 C. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 long strip of lemon zest (use your vegetable peeler) and go around the lemon once to get a strip

5-6 mint leaves

1 packet Truvia, or natural sweetener to taste

1 C. water (2 C. if using frozen strawberries)

2 C. ice (omit if using frozen strawberries)

Blend in high-powered blender until all bits are obliterated. Share, because this is a potluck, or not 😉

I drank most of it down then remembered I might need a photo of the finished product. If making for a real potluck, quadruple the recipe, just not all at once, because your blender will send debris of strawberry and lemon everywhere. Serve in a fancy punch bowl adorned with lemon and strawberry wedges.

Go back to see what awesome beverage Bacon is Not an Herb has brought to the table.

Go forward to see something amazingly refreshing at Tearoom Delights

To start at the beginning of the potluck, click here. Enjoy the virtual feast!!!

And a last but not least thanks to our host website: VeganBloggersUnite!

“Tastes Like Nummy Beautiful Butterflies” (Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Smoothie)

Its Somer Saturday! (At least for another few minutes on my clock!)

I don’t have enough brainpower to wax poetic or to conquer the world with more plant-based truths, but I can share a recipe with you, a tasty simple one at that. At our house, we called it dessert, you can call it breakfast, a really tasty smoothie or whatever the heck you want 😉

My 3-year-old, who growls out his sentences and is always wielding some sort of sword or weapon (he actually carries a water gun in his pocket at all times) exclaimed while drinking this: “Mmmm, Thanks MommyIt tastes like nummy beautiful butterflies!” And then I laughed so hard a little bit of the nummy deliciousness went up my nose. Good times.

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Smoothie

2 C. vanilla soymilk

2 sliced frozen bananas

1 T. cocoa powder

2 T. justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter (can you tell I’m in love with this stuff?)

1 T. honey or pure maple syrup

Blend until smooth. Makes 3  servings. Caution, may cause butterfly deliciousness to come out your nose.

Tasty Tuesday Series – In a Minute Blender Salsa

It’s Tasty Tuesday!

I will be posting my favorite recipes from the last week every Tuesday. I have posted the recipes individually so that they will be more recipe page friendly. So keep browsing down to get all the deliciousness!

Here is a bonus Tasty Tuesday Recipe:

Fresh Salsa is one of my favorite things in the world. Unfortunately, in the winter, store bought tomatoes just aren’t that tasty. I make my favorite salsa in the Summer-time when my next door neighbor’s garden is bursting with beautiful orange sun-sweet tomotoes. This is what I make in the off season. It is (nearly) as good! Comes together super quickly because you don’t have as much chopping to do!

In a Minute Blender Salsa

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted ones are extra tasty)

1/4 C. roughly chopped red onion

1/2 C. packed chopped cilantro

1-2 roughly chopped jalapenos (depending on how much heat you like, use just 1 and remove seeds and ribs for mild salsa)

2 T. lemon juice (yes, real-lemon in a jug works great in a pinch)

1 t. salt

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped.

Method: Chuck all in blender and pulse gently until just combined and roughly chopped.

I love this on my easy mediterranean tofu scramble

Week-long Green Smoothie Challenge Synopsis

So the moment of truth…….. Drum roll please…….. I lost my own bet! Girls, we are going to Cafe Rio! I’m down 4.2 lbs instead of the 5 lbs I hoped to lose. But am I disappointed? Not one bit. Let me explain:

Losing 4.2 lbs in one week is more than I lost in the last 3 weeks combined, so the Green Smoothie Challenge is super-turbo charged weight loss! I also missed 2 workouts in the last week and probably didn’t reach my goal because of that. I wish I would have done my measurements in inches before and after because I know it’s a considerable loss, especially around my waist, hips and thighs. My body fat went from 22.5% down to 20%. My jeans that fit great last week are a bit baggy and I tried on several pairs of my “skinny” jeans and to my delight, most of them fit.

I am also all ready fairly slim at this point after being on a plant-based diet for more than 3 months. So losing that amount of weight for my current size is a pretty big deal. I would expect that people who are doing this that have more to lose will have even more success then I did.

If you know my story, you know that weight loss has been something I’ve had to become a bit of an expert about while losing nearly 100 lbs several years ago. But in the past I always had to meticulously count calories and watch portion size like a hawk. I always felt starving and deprived. Not this time!

With the Green Smoothie Challenge I tracked calorie and nutrient intake for the purpose of proving stats on the blog, but it is not something others need to do. Most days I could not possibly have consumed more food while on the challenge. Others can consume as many approved foods as they like on the plan without tracking it and will be sure to still lose weight.

If you are doing the challenge, I would love to hear from you and hear about your success, how you stuck with it, how much weight you lost, things that were the hardest for you and more. I will be sending a natural product  give-away at the end of the month to 3 people with the most interesting green smoothie challenge story. Note: not necessarily those who lose the most weight! Please post your stories in the comments section of this blog post.

Here are some thoughts I had for myself and others while doing the challenge:

I read somewhere that on the very popular HCG diet that you can only consume 400 calories a day consisting of lean meat and very limited veggies. Not really a very nutrient dense choice for weight loss if you ask me. Those who wish to continue to turbo-charge their weight loss can safely do the green smoothie challenge for as long as they like, or even do it in phases like adding small servings of whole grains like brown rice, millet, or quinoa to a stir fry. Then adding back in healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocado. Because you are providing your body with tons of nutrients instead of starving it, you will not do any damage to your body, this is very unlike the HCG diet or many “fad” diets which are dangerous to your heart, your bowels, and your overall health.

I wish I had eaten more salads, the days I consumed them I was less tired and more full than the days I ate soups or steamed veggies instead. I also noticed that my iron and calcium stats were closer to what they needed to be because leafy greens provide large amounts of both nutrients.

Your food input will generally be the same color as your food output (as in #2), if it’s green that’s because you are eating copious amounts of green foods!

If the above statement is true for you and you are spending too much time in the bathroom with your food output (the opposite of constipation), I suggest you take a good probiotic to help slow things down!

Hydrate! Even though there is plenty of liquid in your green smoothies, you need to add at least an additional 4 glasses of  water a day. This will also help to flush any toxins out of your body that you are eliminating while on the diet.

If you find the Green Smoothie Challenge just too hard to stick with, still try to eliminate as many animal products, refined products and oils from your diet as you can. Drink green smoothies, incorporate more vegetables, fruits and whole grains into your diet. If you do that you will lose more weight naturally then if you had stuck with your previous eating habits. Eating a whole-foods plant-based diet is proven to reduce cholesterol, improve or eliminate diabetes and reduce your risk of almost all types of cancer. Through eating a whole-foods plant-based diet I have cured myself of my autoimmune diseases and disorders. I believe you can too.

Another truth: if you go back to your previous eating habits, you will eventually regain any weight you lose. Eating healthy is a lifestyle change, not a diet and this challenge should help you to make some of those necessary changes.

And finally since today is the first day post green smoothie challenge, guess what I ate to celebrate? A bowl of oatmeal with almond milk, sprinkled with some cinnamon………Followed by? You guessed it! A green smoothie. Best of luck-