VVP: Cranberry Maple Compote

It’s that time again, bring on the VVP!
Who’s coming to the table:  The bright and beautiful cranberry.

Through the years, cranberry sauce has gotten a pretty bad wrap.  Give thanks to the trusty can o’ cran that plops out a gelatinous cylinder of cranberry goo with a nice, big “schluup.”  Great entertainment, but just not appetizing.

A couple years ago I discovered this little recipe.  No, big recipe.  It is chock full of goodness!  Made with fresh cranberries, pecans, fresh and dried fruit and the fabulous fall flavors cinnamon and nutmeg.  One taste and I was in love.

The only problem with the recipe is the large amount of sugar, especially being on an alkaline vegan diet.  So this year the cranberry compote recipe has gotten a facelift.  Welcome maple.

Cranberry Maple Compote

12 oz fresh cranberries
1 orange, peeled and pureed in the blender
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 pear, peeled and diced
1 c water
1 c chopped dried fruit (mix it up and have fun!  we love dried pineapple, cherry, cranberry if you’re sticking with the theme, I think a little crystallized ginger could be good for an added kick)
1 c chopped pecans
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
maple syrup, to taste (I used 1/4 cup but my sweetness sensor is pretty low these days.  You could add anywhere from 1/4-3/4 c maple)

Bring water to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and add all other ingredients.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cook until the cranberries burst.  Remove from heat and let cool.

I made a double batch this time around, measured it into 1 1/2 c portions, and stored it in the freezer.  Great to pull out for the holidays.

Some other ways to use your super delish cranberry sauce:

Eat it with a spoon!
Make a parfait with your favorite plain yogurt and granola
Layer on top of crackers and vegan cream cheese for finger foods
PB+Cranberry Sandwich?  Potential…
I’m thinking a ginger graham cracker crust with vanilla bean vegan ice cream topped with cranberry sauce.  Mmmmmm.
Mix in your morning oatmeal
Use as a topping for pancakes or filling for crepes
A tart spread for a savory sandwich

So there you have it.  Cranberry Maple Compote.  Love it.

Go Back

The previous VVP dish is found in Kelli’s Vegan Kitchen here:
http://kellisvegankitchen.com/

Go Forward
Cook to Love is the blog next in the potluck.  Visit it here:
http://cooktolove.com/

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chili

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chili

2 Tbl olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bell peppers, diced (rainbow colored!)
1 jalepeno, diced (keep seeds for more heat)
1 large yam, peeled and diced
4 cups water
1 Tbl veggie bouillon
1 can tomato paste
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 cans beans, drained and rinsed (we did 2 black and 1 kidney)
2 Tbl chili powder
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat oil in large pot with onion and saute until start to turn clear.  Add peppers, chili powder and sea salt.  When softened but not mushy  throw in garlic for 30 seconds.  Add water, sweet potato, tomato paste, tomatoes, beans, bouillon, and cinnamon.  Cook until yams are done.  Enjoy the healthy deliciousness!

Banana Pat-a-cake Bliss

Why pat-a-cakes?  Because I love playing pat-a-cake with my daughter and I LOVE these pancakes!  Not kidding, best “baked” good I’ve eaten in the last 4 months of veganism.  A perfect start to a cool fall morning.

Bonus points:  they are alkaline, gluten free, refined sugar free, vegan and just plain awesome.

Banana Pat-a-cake Bliss

1 1/2 cups oat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 c coconut oil, plus more for greasing skillet

2 Tbl ground flax plus 6 Tbl. water, stir together and let sit for a few minutes
2 c unsweetened almond milk plus 2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbl maple syrup

2 over ripe bananas, mashed

Mix dry ingredients together.  If you don’t have oat flour, just throw some oats in the food processor and make your own.

If your coconut oil is in a solidified form, cut it into the dry mix.  If it’s liquified because your house is nice and warm, mix it into the wet ingredients.

Mix liquid ingredients together and combine with the dry.  Add in banana.  I like to keep some banana chunks for happy flavor bursts, so if you’re like me, don’t mix the batter too well, just until combined.

Heat skillet to medium.  Melt 1/8 tsp coconut oil in skillet (I did this before each round, the bananas like to stick.)  Scoop 1/4 c batter per pancake (any bigger and they got moody about flipping.)  Cook until golden on each side.

Top with your favorites!  We love applesauce, apple butter, yogurt, or frozen mixed berries cooked down with a little cinnamon and sweetener.

Amended from a recipe found on this site.

Off the Beaten Path & Happiness in a Cookie Bite

Maybe I’m crazy… maybe I’m strange… but I have to say that this morning, I was unimpressed with the local morning news show. In fact, I was about ready to throw a shoe at the tv screen. But THAT would have been crazy, and destructive.

On the news roll:

Diet Coke: For 10 minutes I was told about the miracles of diet coke and the genius of new flavorings. Since EVERYBODY drinks it, now I will want to drink it even more because of said flavorings. The speaker even went far enough to compare this diet coke with a refreshing glass of cold water after a long run. Say what?!?

Party Decorations: Cut up a ton of plastic tablecloths to make tassels for balloons, the more tassels the better. Sure, a waste of plastic, but that’s not what irked me. They then went into the helium shortage saying that I need to search all over to find the helium and then use the VERY LARGEST balloons I can find because they are all the rage. So shortage= increased consumption. Awesome.

Diet coke: again! Every report included more comments about the miracle of diet coke. Over and over. Best part, the name of the recipe was the “DIRTY COKE.” Go figure. If only it were for the right reasons.

How to fill small empty spaces in your home: if you have an empty corner, fill it! Must have more stuff!

Eat more hotdogs: Garnishes. Where to buy the best ones. How to cut them creatively. Not a huge deal, people eat meat. But once again, not applicable to me.

I don’t drink diet coke. I would rather use fresh cut flowers than super-size helium balloons. And I am always on the hunt for more things to purge from our home in the name of simplicity. And hot dogs? Bleh.

I know I am not “normal.” But am I really THAT strange? So I’m mormon, vegan, running, nature loving momma. Honestly, I’m ok with that. In fact I feel like I am living true to myself and what I believe. It’s a good thing. No regrets.

Now for a recipe!  My fantastically talented step-mom Kim is a kitchen wiz and found a version of this recipe (she has an eye for a good recipe.) I switched to unsweetened coconut, added cinnamon, used almond instead of peanut butter and added sea salt (since we use unsalted nut butters.) I know we have other no-bake cookie options on this site but this is our family’s new favorite. It has been perfect for the kids cold lunches and a great way to get extra protein and omegas into their growing little bodies. The kids happily eat them up in moments, though I may help a little. 🙂

Happiness in a Cookie Bite

1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. almond butter
1/4 c. liquid sweetener of choice
1 c. unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. ground flaxseed
1/2 c. chocolate chips (best if chopped into smaller pieces)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch sea salt (to taste)

Mix ingredients in a bowl. Chill one hour. Add a little water or extra almond butter if too dry. Roll with wet hands into 1 inch balls. Refrigerate up to 1 week.

Garden Fresh Sweet Potato Chili with Creamy Polenta

Hello friends! I have to start by saying THANK YOU for sharing your wisdom, expertise and inspiration last week in the midst of my baking crisis. We have been cooking up a storm in our kitchen all week and have had some great success.

First, a couple favorites:
Oh She Cooks lovely Banana Bread– It was sweet, golden and beautiful.  I squealed with glee when we pulled it out of the oven!  And I love that she takes the bread one step further to make french toast.  I think next time we will add some cinnamon and berries.

The Double Chocolate Espresso Almond Cookies from Brandi at The Healthy Flavor tasted DIVINE.  They tasted even better than any “regular” brownie plus I got to eat the dough without any egg-related fears.  I substituted ww pastry flour instead of all purpose and Cafix (powdered chickory root) for espresso.  Oh, and I forgot the chocolate chips when gorging myself on the cookie dough…. oops.  I still need to play with the leavening for the right thickness due to the altitude, but regardless, this recipe is a keeper.

Lastly, tonight’s oh-so-tasty sweet potato crockpot chili, adapted from a recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie.

Garden Fresh Sweet Potato Chili

1 large onion, diced (or half of a monster walla walla, like I had)
2 medium sweet potatoes (or yams, whatever you like to call them)
3 cups zucchini, diced
3 cans beans, drained and rinsed (I did 1 can kidney, 2 cans black)
4 tomatoes, diced
1 green pepper
3 T chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
3 c water with 3 tsp veggie boullion

Put it all in the crockpot and stir together.  Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.

15 minutes before dinner, cook up some Creamy Polenta.

1 c corn meal
3 c unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp salt

Bring milk and salt to a boil.  VERY SLOWLY pour and stir in corn meal (or it will clump up, promise.)  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Stir until it is a smooth consistency.  Let stand for a couple minutes.

Scoop a few spoonfuls into the bottom of individual dishes and top with chili.  Garnish with lime and cilantro.  Delish!

Vegan No Bake Blueberry Maple Cashew Cheezecake

It’s Tasty Tuesday, what does “hope” mean to you?

I’ve been passed a blogging relay baton by my sweet friend Kristy at Keepin’ it Kind. Hope is something I struggle with at times, you can hope to be healthier, hope to be stronger and hope to be a better person but those things can’t happen unless you act. So for me hope is a seed that grows until it leads to action.

Here are things that have given me hope to act lately:

The Olympics! I know, cliche, but isn’t it amazing to see what people overcome to get there? I like cheering for the underdogs, like double amputee Oscar Pistorius. I’ve resumed my running routine this week, because even though a break is good now and again, I have two able legs and should use them. Plus I have the bestest running buddy in the world to help give me hope and motivate me. Irresistible right?!?

My blogging family here online that gives  me so much support and hope for the future of a healthier generation. I act as part of that group, hopefully sharing something that can help another even if its simply to EAT MORE PLANTS.

Those of my religion give me hope for humanity as I watch them give selfless acts of service to others on a daily basis. Witnessing these acts and trying to give of myself in a similar way helps me to be more at peace with myself.

Lastly, choosing (an act) a plant-based diet gives me hope that I will live to a ripe old age without succumbing to heart disease, cancer, diabetes or a myriad of other ailments. In the meantime, I will enjoy a small slice of this simply amazing vegan, gluten-free cheezecake.

Blueberry Maple Cashew Cheezecake

For the crust:

1 C. dates

1 C. almonds

For the filling:

2 C. raw cashews, ground

1/2 – 1 C. pure maple syrup (depending on your sweet-o-meter)

1 t. sea salt

1/3 C. fresh lemon juice + zest from one lemon

2.5  C. water, divided

1/2  package Pamona’s Pectin, method below (do not use another brand of pectin or your cheezecake won’t set)

1 T. vanilla

6 oz fresh blueberries

Method: First make the crust by combining almonds and dates in food processor until fine. If dates are too dry and the mixture is crumbly, add a tablespoon or two of water and pulse until mixture starts to form a ball. Press crust into a lightly oiled 12 inch springform pan. Next make the cheezecake filling: Grind 2 C. cashews until fine in a power blender. Add 2 C. Boiling water, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pure maple syrup, I used half a cup of the pure maple syrup and thought it was plenty, but my husband said the recipe could have been improved by more sweetness, hence the pick your own sweetness above. Blend until smooth and creamy. Mix all of the small calcium packet from pectin box with the remaining 1/2 C. Water. Add half of the large pectin packet (about 4.5 teaspoons) and 1/4 C. of the calcium water to the blender and pulse until all thoroughly combined. Store remaining calcium water in the fridge and keep the pectin packet in your pantry and use for jam making or another cheezecake. Stir in blueberries by hand, being careful not to break any. Pour cashew cheezecake batter into the springform pan. Refrigerate uncovered for 5-6 hours or overnight before slicing and serving. Makes 16 servings.

Time to pass the baton to these very worthy bloggers and give you the reasons they inspire hope in me:

The Vegan’s Husband for awesomest new vegan on the blogging scene

Lucy at Lucy’s Friendly Foods for her incredible plant based culinary delights

Thom at Don’t Switch off the Light for his big vegan heart and compassion towards all living creatures, including spiders.

Big or Little Sis at My Sister’s Pantry for helping me to constantly and frugally reinvent myself in the kitchen, Even helping me to be more creative with my leftovers.

Heidi at Lightly Crunchy for helping me to be more, well, crunchy! Love her!

TTFN!

Update: For an insane Chocolate Version of this recipe, please visit this post

Photo Courtesy of Annie at An Unrefined Vegan

Why I Run

I am a runner.  I love the adrenaline, the challenge, the feeling of fit.  In the midst of the Olympics (how AWESOME is the human body at it’s peak!?!) I have spent time pondering the “whys” of exercise.  Granted, I was sitting lazily on the couch while Michael Phelps powered through the water, Gabby Douglas flew through the air with speed and agility, and the women marathoners finished at break-neck speeds.  But my brain was working really hard.  🙂

I may not be an Olympian.  Or even close to one at that.  I face my own challenges, follow my own training schedules, and push my body to it’s limits.  It’s not always easy.  Or pretty.  In fact, more often than not, I turn tomato red in the face and I’m pretty stinky when all is said and done.  Not to mention being sore post-workout.  SO WHY DO I RUN?

1)  HEALTH:  I feel so much better when I run!  I feel strong, light on my feet, and more energetic, like an improved version of me.  I bounce up and down the stairs, play more with my children and am more willing and eager to go enjoy the beautiful mountains that surround Salt Lake.  I can better meet the demands of daily life.  Cholesterol is great.  Blood pressure is better.  Weight is down.  Fantastic.

2)  THERAPY:  When I hit the road running, all I have is my ipod and the scenery giving me a perfect opportunity to clear my thoughts and refocus.  The longer the run the better.

3)  STRESS BUSTER:  When life gets intense, as it often does, I run.  There is no better way for me to burn off some steam and come home level headed.  When my middle child was 2, I was having a bit of a rough day when he looked up at me and said “Mommy exercise?”  Kids are so perceptive!

4)  OUTDOORS:  Running gets me outside!   Fresh air, sunshine, chirping birds, blooming flowers, fall leaves, crunchy snow, waving to neighbors, off road trails, scenic runs through the mountains or on the beach- the world is waiting for you to explore it, one step at a time.

5)  FRIENDSHIP:  Outings with my running besties are fabulous adventures- can’t even tell you how many giggle fits Somer and I have had.  A running buddy is a friend through and through, no conversation left unturned, the more miles the better.  And a true friend knows when to talk, when to listen to steady foot falls, and when to power on the music.  More running friends always welcome.

6)  CHALLENGE:  I love a good challenge.  A new obstacle to face, a new course, a new distance- just because I am a grown up doesn’t mean I should stay stagnant.  Sometimes running hurts.  Sometimes the last thing I want to do is hop out of bed early to run when my bed is so cozy.  By pushing through those tough moments I become stronger mentally and in the long run, physically.

7)  MEMORIES:  Call me crazy, but some of my fondest memories have been while running!  Running in pouring rain (talk about cleansing!), running under the full moon, the silence of running on fresh snow at 6am when most of the world is still curled up in bed and sounds are dampened, taking my boys on a 5k run with Holi festival chalk exploding in the air, wildlife sightings, and visiting with cherished running friends as the miles melt away…  All of these moments are close to my heart, beautiful memories I can’t wait to make more of.

Take it from me, running rocks!
Get off the couch today, it is SO worth it.

PS- I haven’t always been able to run.  After my 2nd baby I found myself horribly out of shape and 65 lbs over my goal weight.  I huffed and puffed only walking a mile.  I was depressed and tired and just plain sick of being depressed and tired.  On my next mile walk I ran one block.  Then two the day after.  Little by little, block by block, I built up my miles and dropped the pounds.  You can do it to.  You are worth it.

And finally, a giveaway.  My all time favorite pre-workout energizer!  No synthetic sweeteners, natural vegan ingredients.  And just plain awesome.

Rules of Engagement:

1- You must be a follower of this blog, if you don’t know how to do that, there is a “Follow blog via email” button at the top column to the right. This contest is open to all followers, ALL AROUND THE WORLD. Can you feel the love? 

2- You must like this post (click on the title name of this post, then go to the bottom of the post just above comments and push the like button), 

3- You must tell me in the comments below what keeps you moving!

Giveaway ends Monday, August 13.

Oh Snap (No Worries) Mexi Bean Dip and Dreamy Agave Cornbread

I have to be honest.  I can’t sugar coat things and say I have had a lovely week of vegan bliss.  This week was challenging, in a knock the wind out of your sails kind of way.  It was HARD to be vegan.  Get togethers didn’t have vegan fare, restaurants had limited options, everything I made at home for 2 days was a flop (grey mush, doughy bisquits, the list goes on) and I can’t even tell you how many people gave me “the look.”  You know the one.  The are-you-kidding-me-you-crazy-non-conforming-health-nut-why-don’t-you-just-eat-like-a-normal-person one.

So I press on, determined to stay positive and 0n track.  I feel healthier and lighter as I eat a plant based diet.  When I have slipped and eaten something with processed sugar or have had more carbs than produce, I feel heavy, weighed down.  I know I am on the right path.  I know without a doubt that my health is worth it, for me and for my family.

Now I share  with you my go-to dish.  All ingredients are stocked in my pantry at all times, minus the produce, but those are staples in our kitchen anyways.  If there is a last minute company coming, I always know I can pull out a colorful batch of Oh Snap (No Worries) Mexi Bean Dip.  Add tortilla chips, roll it up in a tortilla, serve with cornbread, or eat as a side.  A very versatile dish.  And loaded with nutrients.

I had to show you the separate ingredients, so pretty!  Here it is all stirred up:

Oh Snap (No Worries) Mexi Bean Dip

3 cans of beans (or 6 cups cooked) rinsed and drained well
3 varieties- black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, be creative!
1 can (2 c. fresh) corn, drained
1 onion, chopped fine
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 pepper, diced (green, red, jalepeno, mix it up)
1 jar salsa (homemade is best, but whatever you’ve got)
1/2 packet favorite seasoning packet (fajita, guacamole) or individual seasonings to taste
1 avocado, cubed
1 lime

Important:  Save avocado and lime until just before you serve!

Combine all ingredients except avocado and lime.  Gently toss.  Right before serving, drizzle lime juice over avocado and add to other ingredients.  You’re done!

Like I mentioned, this dish is super versatile, so play with it, it’s a tough one to mess up.  That’s saying a lot coming from me. And I have to ask- what’s your go to dish?

Up next, Dreamy Agave Cornbread found on Allrecipes.  I have been craving a moist, delicious baked good lately and finally found one that hit the spot.  They were gobbled up by the family in minutes, next round will need to be a triple batch if I want leftovers!

Vegan Agave Cornbread Muffins

This Kitchen Approved Recipe has an average star rating of 4.8 by 87 voters! a good sign- now 88 🙂

Original Recipe Yield 6 muffins-I made 10 and they were a perfect single serving size for little hands

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I did closer to 1/3 to adjust for altitude)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (we had homemade in the freezer, the little apple chunks were a nice addition)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (I used coconut oil, yummy substitute, worked great especially since our house is so warm it was already melted for ease of use!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease a muffin pan.
  2. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; stir in the applesauce, soy milk, and agave nectar. Slowly add the oil while stirring. Pour the mixture into the muffin pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick or small knife inserted in the crown of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.

We topped ours with strawberry freezer jam- delightful.

And finally we put together this little number for dessert, thanks to Aijay at FreeFlowFoodie only hers was much more lovely seeing as I had three hollering, very hungry children needing me to hurry up.  Beauty had to be sacrificed a bit.  We served the fruit with a yummy berry yogurt and it was a hit.  Aijay, my family gives you props for presentation!