Saturday, March 26, 2011

Brownie Points

Last week was a friend and fellow vegan's birthday, Happy Birthday Lee! Seeing as I'm in the middle of a fast (today is day 13!) and I'm totally jonesin' for a juicy blog entry, I figured I'd post the delicious brownies I made for him! I mean, you don't wanna hear about juicing do you? Or do you..... haha! (thoughts of future juice blog entry swirl about in head)

If you've ever done a cleanse or juice fast, whatever you wanna call it- hunger strike of some sort- you know that willpower is KEY. I sure tested mine to the absolute limits when I made these stinkers, holy CRAP did they look GOOD! I swear, I didn't have a crumb! :)

I trust they were good though, as they vanished off their silvery platter right quick as they swooped around the room. This is a recipe I developed last summer, and the first time I made them I put flax seeds in thinking they could mimic the eggs. No good. I did not like the mouth-feel of them, nor the taste of the sorta fishy/flaxy taste when you hit one amongst the divine chocolate sea of flavor going on in the mouth. Blachk. I'll save the flax for my smoothies salads and raw crackers, but they won't be appearing in my baked goods again...
save bread perhaps.

Alas, my recipe needed tweaking and I think it came out quite desirable! I also was out of baking soda, which I would just assume put in, but didn't since my neighborhood grocery was out of stock (really? baking soda?) and I was running out of time. I have to imagine if they would have been a touch more elevated if I had used the BS. haha The result was a dense, fudgy and super chocolaty brownie, sent from the heavens. Also, Lee just finished and released his latest brewing of a new delicious stout called "Coffee Rain", brewed with a fine Nicaraguan coffee, so I thought it was appropriate to add a good amount of coffee flavoring in there. :)

Should you like to try your hand at them, which I encourage you too, please try the recipe! Play with it if you like, you could add walnuts too which would be delightful. Here it is:

Mocha Brownies- yield about a dozen

1 cups flour, unbleached white
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 t. baking powder
1 cups chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup cooked sweet potato purée
1/4 cup + 2 T. Earth Balance margarine
1/4 cup instant espresso powder, rehydrated with 2 T. hot water
1 cup evaporated cane juice, aka sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 t. egg replacer powder (i used Ener-g), whisked in 1 T. soymilk or warm water
2 T. Coffee Liqueur (i used Borghetti)
1/2 cup additional chocolate chips, to poke in the top *optional- but good

1) For the sweet potato purée, I simply peeled, cubed and steamed a small sweet potato in a small saucepot with some water until soft and then mashed it up. You could alternatively pre-meditate this venture and bake them, scoop out the flesh, and mash or whizz it up in your food processor. Steaming is much quicker. :)
2) Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9"x 12" pan, and also, if you like, line it with parchment paper. I used a metal sheet pan, so I lined it and they came out flawlessly.
3) Start a double boiler to get your chocolate chips melted. They can melt down while you're getting everything else blended together. Keep stirring occasionally to ensure even melting.
4) In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Set aside.
5) In a stand mixer start by mixing together the Earth Balance and the sugar. Once they're combined, add in the sweet potato, vanilla, salt, egg replacer mixture, coffee liqueur, and espresso. Start to drizzle in the melted chocolate while the mixer is running. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl if you need.
6) On a slow speed, start adding increments of the flour, cocoa, baking powder mixture. Once combined, pour the batter into your pan and smooth out the surface. If using, poke the remaining chocolate chips into the surface.
7) Bake for about 25-30 minutes. They should still be slightly soft to the touch in the middle, but if you poke it with a toothpick or knife it should come out clean. Allow them to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting. If you like, serve with ice cream, berries, or just eat them naked! (you can interpret that!) :D

Happy Baking!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011


<----- moi! Yesterday was the last day of "real" food before I start my juice fast, so I wanted to eat a delicious salad as one of my numbered last meals. Turns out the ingredients I had on hand made one of the most delicious salads I think I've ever made!

It's a kale salad mostly, but I also threw in cucumber, red bell pepper, carrots, red cabbage, cashews, apple, cilantro and fenugreek sprouts. Now, fenugreek sprouts might be hard to find, if not impossible, but they're sure easy to grow! All I did was soak a couple tablespoons of fenugreek seeds overnight, strain em, then put em in a glass jar with screen cover. Rinse them twice a day, and allow them to drain completely. After 2-3 days, you'll have beautiful, tasty, crunchy fenugreek sprouts. Fenugreek tastes divine- it's almost always used as one of the constituents in curry powder and also has a sort of maple-y taste. A funny side tid bit about them, for me anyways, is that my armpits always smell like curry/maple whenever I eat them. Today....sniff sniff... yep! It's fantastic I think, no deodorant needed here. :) Back to the salad..... So the sprouts are optional, but in this salad they lend themselves to the curried dressing. Put in whatever else you might like too- radish, broccoli, other leafy greens, whatever floats yer boat!

Here's the recipe:

Kale Salad with curried almond butter dressing

1 bunch kale, shredded thin

2 carrots, shredded or sliced thin

½ red cabbage, shredded thin

1 red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 cucumber, sliced thin

1 cup cilantro, chopped

1 apple, sliced thin

½ cup whole raw cashews

½ cup fenugreek sprouts (optional- they're hard to find, but easy to sprout yourself, as I did!)


2 T. apple cider vinegar

1 T. maple syrup or agave

juice of one tangerine

1 inch of ginger, shredded finely (preferably on a microplane)

2 cloves garlic, shredded or minced finely

½ cup almond butter

1 T. shoyu

1 t. curry

½ t. cayenne

½ t. salt

Just toss all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing! So easy to make, and so delicious. This made a good amount, but it should keep for a couple days, or you can share it with friends. :)

To your health! Enjoy!

nom nom nom

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring has sprung!

For me spring inspires and conjures so many beautiful feelings and smells. Honestly, I can't compare anything to a Wisconsin Spring. Lilies of the valley start pokin their little heads out, daffodils for miles, cherry trees in blossom and their nectar filling the air, apple blossoms blowing in the breeze, that CRAZED feeling you get when the big thaw finally happens and you're runnin in the grass barefoot and it's so squishy cold and fresh between your toes, robins and red winged blackbirds start dotting the landscape and swingin on the cat-tails.... ahhhhhh! Makes me feel SO HAPPY AND ALIVE!

Right now as I type on March 8, there is still 2 feet of snow there, and although my sis reported her first robin sighting, it's still cold as hell back in Wisconsin! Here in San Diego however, my bones are achin for that feeling! It's raining and crisp and 60's during the day, thus my inner clock thinks its time. Time to start planting seeds, blasting open all of the windows, shake the rugs, cleanin out the rafters, purging and donating to goodwill...... aaaaaand purging and cleaning out my body! That's right! For me now in my adult years, the second I get this crazed spring feelin, food no longer sounds appetizing (for the most part) and all I want to do is give this bod a break for a few weeks and flush it out! Alas, I will not be baking for the next month, but I'll still be here blogging about delicious juice concoctions, smoothies, soups (think liquids) and other ramblings and creations. My goal is to do a full 30 days of juicing this year! I've been doing a spring fast for almost 10 years now, and let me tell ya, nothin feels better!

I'll probably start it next monday, since I'm due to go to the big Natural Foods Expo this Friday (YAY!) and snacking and tasting are completely unavoidable. 3,000 vendors- all of which are under the umbrella of natural foods. Good God! There will be a whole blog dedicated to that this weekend, needless to say. I've never attended this expo, and now that I have my own personal chef service, I'm finally goin! Remember the first time you went to Disney? Yah, it's like that.

To close, I'd like to share this creamy and satisfying soup I made last night. It's the one thing I've been craving lately, and it sure did the trick. Very easy to make, especially if you use a pressure cooker like I did. I'll admit, I didn't take the typical notes and photos like I usually do, as I wasn't planning on bloggin, but it's a great enough soup I'd like to share it. For the spices, I generally just threw in a pinch of each.
Also, Hello, Meatless March! This is a great, warming and hearty soup for those of you graciously giving up animal flesh for the month. I hope you enjoy it!

Before and after pureeing... delicious any way you spoon it!

Coconut Mung dal Soup
1 large leek
5 cloves garlic
black pepper
fennel seeds
fenugreek seeds
2 small potatoes
2 carrots
1 red bell pepper
1 cup mung dal
*fresh ginger
Enough water to cover
1 bunch swiss chard
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 can coconut milk
1 lemon

If using a pressure cooker, this only took about 15 minutes. Regularly i'm guessing 30-40 minutes.
Saute leek, garlic and spices in olive oil and cook for about 10 minutes on medium/lo heat. Add chopped veggies, mung dal, and fill pot with water to about 2 inches above mixture. You will know this soup is done when the lentils have broken down and the soup has become thicker. Be sure to keep it on a low heat, or the lentils will scorch on the bottom. Be sure to stir often!

When the soup has finished, turn off the heat and throw in your chopped swiss chard, cilantro, can of coconut milk and juice of one lemon. Use either a blender or immersion blender to puree the mixture. Unless you like it chunky, you can also leave it that way. Season it to taste with salt or tamari, adding more cayenne or black pepper also if you like.

*In hindsight, i wish I would've used fresh ginger in the soup, so if you like ginger, toss some in when you saute the leeks and garlic. This soup is quite delicious without it too.

OOh, or jalapenos! There's many options to garnish it as well- toss in fresh scallions, chopped tomatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds, or you can even serve it over basmati rice for a good hearty meal. This is a very versatile soup, so play with it and add whatever you like :) Happy spring everyone, and happy cleansing!!