Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vegan Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of the things I missed a great deal when going vegan. This tofu-based alternative recipe is light, fluffy, creamy, easy to make, and not nearly as caloric.

Preheat oven to 375.

For the crust:
Crumble 1.5 cups Graham crackers (about 2 sleeves)
Pour directly into a 9" pie or cake dish
Add 3 tbsp veg oil and 3 tbsp water
Mix until a thick paste forms, roll into a ball in the center of the pan. Use your fingers to spread and press until pan is covered (covering the sides not essential.)

For the filling:
2 14 oz packages of medium firm tofu, drained
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c veg oil
1/2 c agave syrup
1/4 c sugar

Put the above ingredients in the food processor and blend til smooth. Pour into baking pan.

Bake for 45-50 minutes. It will appear slightly risen on the edges but not in the center. It will look fairly firm but is still going to be soft, so be careful.

Allow it to cool a few minutes and then optionally top with fresh fruit (strawberries with the bottoms dipped in agave are a good choice.) Chill in the fridge overnight. Serves about 6.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The World's Best Vegan Pancake Recipe

This is an adaptation of the Candle 79 recipe, which calls for white flour, a substance banned in my kitchen. My use of whole wheat did not detract from these pancakes awesome fluffiness. I also opted for a soy-free version.

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinammon
1 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer (dry, not combined with water)

Mix well, then add:
1/4 cup Earth Balance spread, melted**
2 cups almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Use a whisk to fold ingredients together until fully combined into a thick batter.

Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray over medium heat. Wait a minute or two for pan to heat up, then ladle a nice healthy dollop of batter into the pan. You can do huge IHOP style pancakes or several smaller silver-dollar type. You will know it is time to flip when bubbles have formed and then popped around the edges: about 2-3 min per side.

Enjoy topped with maple or agave syrup and fresh fruits.

** I use the Soy Free variety of this excellent, chemical-free and hydrogynated oil-free brand. You could use any butter substitute but try to avoid those laden with chemicals. I melt mine in a little dish in the toaster oven.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Homemade Calamine Lotion

This is, as usual, a hybrid of info from several sources, and I don't vouch for it being a panacea, but it is very similar to commercial calamine lotion, which certainly comes in handy after a camping trip ridden with mosquitoes, as I unfortunately just experienced.

Take 1 tbsp unscented kitty litter and grind to a powder in the food processor or coffee grinder. Add 1 tbsp baking soda, 1 tsp sea salt, and 1 tsp zinc oxide. Add water until it forms a paste. Add a few drops of peppermint and eucalyptus oil (perhaps like, 1 drop of each. I went with a liberal sprinkle and currently feel a little more tingly than I'm comfortable with.) Apply to affected skin.

The one active ingredient that commercial calamine lotion has that this doesn't is iron oxide, which is usually only 5% to 95% zinc oxide, and which I omitted because I don't think it's possible to buy or make it. The zinc oxide is the main ingredient, as it soothes, dries, and heals damaged skin. The kitty litter is made of bentonite clay, which absorbs impurities in the skin, and the salt and baking soda reduce itching. I'm not sure what the essential oils are doing besides setting me on fire, but calamine usually does give you that hot-cold sting, so perhaps it's serving some purpose. At the very least, it's a sensation which distracts from the itching!

The resulting goop will be grey rather than pink.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Raw Vegan Lasagna

This "lasagna," another recipe adapted from the Candle 79 Cookbook, does not require pasta-- or cooking! It does require a food processor, and nutritional yeast, which creates a cheese flavor and also is a massive powerhouse of B vitamins. Also, all of the vegetables are currently in season and came from the farmer's market!

The Parts:
Cashew Cheese
Soak 3 cups of raw cashews in water for 6-8 hours. Rinse and drain.
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
Process in food processor until smooth (it will take a while.)
6 basil leaves and a tbsp parsley, chopped fine, mix well

Tomato Sauce
2 large tomatoes
1/4 onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 basil leaf
Salt and pepper
Cut the veggies into large chunks and pulse 3-4 times in the food processor

1 cup basil leaves
1 cup fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup pine nuts**
Place all in food processor and puree.
** I couldn't find pine nuts in my neighborhood so I used a melange of raw sunflower seeds and raw pumpkin seeds, about a half cup total, and it didn't seem to detract in the slightest.

Raw Vegetables
2-3 big tomatoes, sliced
2-3 zucchini or yellow squash, halved and sliced very thin length-wise
1/2 onion, chopped, and soaked in a tbsp of olive oil and a juice of half a lemon, with a dash of salt and pepper
(The original recipe calls also for sliced mushrooms but I had none so I skipped it.)

The process:
Create a tower:
Spoon of tomato sauce
3 slices squash
Dollop (heaping tbsp)  of cashew cheese
Slice of tomato
Spoon of onion
Repeat once.
Top with another spoon of tomato sauce and a healthy dollop of pesto.

One squash and one large tomato makes about 2 "lasagne" servings. I had enough "cheese" and pesto for 4 servings total. The towers will be probably be a little messy and precarious.

This seems complicated but in actuality it took maybe 25 min because basically all of the "cooking" consists of using the food processor. It was even yummier the next day.