Chocolate Walnut Fudge (Vegan)

This recipe comes from one of my ultimate favorite cookbooks:

Jónsi & Alex’s Good Heart Cookbook, a raw vegan recipe collection by two wonderful musicians!

Jónsi & Alex’s cookbook features an array of treats like a superfood smoothie, Thai  coconut curry, raw apple pie (that happens to be my most famous Thanksgiving recipe) and a handful of dips and sauces. Their desserts are killer, and focus around naturally sweet ingredients like dates, coconut, agave and cacao powder.

If you don’t eat this fudge, I highly suggest their Nammi Nammi dessert. My family can attest to the fact that I have made that recipe . . . close to ten times. In two years. Without fail. THREE INGREDIENTS AND IT’S THE TASTIEST THING EVER.

With this fudge being the second tastiest. !

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Chocolate Walnut Fudge

•3 cups walnuts

•2 cups coconut (I used shredded unsweetened)

•1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder

•1/3 vanilla bean, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

•3/4 cup Light agave nectar

•a pinch of salt

 Blend the walnuts using a food processor until they’re not a fine powder, but still very small bits. Place in a large bowl and the blend the coconut. Mix it together in the bowl with your hands.

Add the other ingredients and then flatten the fudge out in a pan, refrigerating for at least one hour. Last, cut into rectangles. Last last, enjoy until your sweet little vegan tummies can’t contain the joy.

*A note about vanilla: My mother purchased this Mexican vanilla extract at least four years ago and I am still using it in my baking/dessert making/.. okay, who am I kidding, I put vanilla in almost everything sweet.

That’s because Mexican vanilla is packed full of flavor, and, as you can see, won a medal of recognition for it’s awesomeness. A quality vanilla like this one can make your dishes extra delicious. If you happen to stumble upon some as wonderful as this – grab it. You won’t regret* it.

*A note about regret: You may regret eating over five pieces of this fudge, like someone I know, who is deeefinitely not me, did last night.

(And one or two more today with my lunch.

Worth it.)

Nom-aste!

Shelby

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Vegetable Grain Medley with Sweet Balsamic, White Wine & Sun-dried Tomato Reduction

Last week, I got over my fear of piercings and decided to get a nose ring.

It wasn’t that bad.

Last night, I got over my fear of cooking Italian food.

It was momentous.

Vegetable Grain Medley

with Sweet Balsamic, White Wine & Sun-dried Tomato Reduction

(Serves 3-4)

•1 cup 365 brand Rice & Lentil Medley, dry (or grain of choice)

•2 cups water

•2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

•2 cloves garlic, minced

•1/4 white onion, diced

•1/3 cup white wine

•1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

•1 tbsp sundried tomatoes, finely chopped (I used preserves in oil)

•1/2 tbsp honey, if desired

•4 asparagus spears, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

•1 large carrot, sliced

•1/4 zucchini, sliced into half-moons

•1/4 summer squash, sliced into half-moons

•2/3 large portabello mushroom, sliced into thin pieces

•1 handful spinach

•1/4 block of tofu, cubed (if desired)

•1-2 sprigs of each: rosemary, sage, thyme

•Mozzarella style Daiya cheese, if desired

•4-5 cherry tomatoes, if desired

Combine 1 cup Rice & Lentil mix with 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil (or cook same about of your grain of choice). Cover with lid and simmer for 30-45 minutes. In a small pan, heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat, add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add white wine, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomato and honey (if desired) and cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, or until reduced. It should steam, bubble, and reduce into a nice sauce (this smells amaaaazing on the stove!).

In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a medium to large pan. Add remaining vegetables, diced your fresh herbs, add them to the pan and cook until the veggies are tender.

Add tofu & reduction sauce when it is ready to the pan and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Serve with rice & lentil mix. Top with Mozzarella daiya cheese and sliced cherry tomatoes, if desired.

I tend to shy away from salty and oily dishes. I guess this is because I eat a LOT of nut butter and get my oils from other places. I let got of that hesitance with this dish and the turnout was delicious! It would have been nice to have sun-dried tomatoes that weren’t drowning in oil. You can cut out extra oil by steaming your vegetables and then mixing it with the reduction. As you can see, I don’t use a lot of salt – but I’m sure a sprinkle in the rice & lentil mix, as well as one on the vegetables would really bring out the flavor.

This was my first time trying vegan cheese, and I must say – I’m pleased. Daiya cold and fresh out of the package? Not as tasty as it melted over veggies and rice. Gotta give that stuff a little heat before it’s edible (in my humble opinion).

I also experimented with sugar-free pumpkin butter last week-

I’ll get that recipe up soon.

Until then. Eat, drink, and be merry.

And watch this marathon of the Nutcracker that’s on TV like me!

Nom-aste!

Shelby

Sweet Potato Chili

(Original Recipe: SunnyVegan)

My roommate Rosalie is infinitely sweeter than a sweet potato. Adorned with contagious giggles and a beautiful smile, she never ceases to be a constant source of joy and playfulness in my life.

Bright-eyed and prickly-pear-jammed!

I was eager to get her in the kitchen with me last night to make dinner, listen to Frank Sinatra Christmas music, sip Candy Cane tea, and share laughter. When I posed to her the question of what to cook, we determined we wanted one (or all) of three things: tofu, butternut squash, or sweet potato. We wanted something hearty after an afternoon of hard climbing (ok, who am I kidding – I only climbed once due to my injured ankle – but I just couldn’t resist!)

Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon this little sucker. We ALMOST had everything to make it – but, as usual, the majority of ingredients ruled out the absent minor ingredients, and before we could say “But what about cilantro?” we had already chopped two sweet potatoes and half of a red onion. (Couldn’t resist the recipe, either.)

[And on the topic of resistance – what’s up with all this Christmasistence?! That’s a word I just coined about resisting what you really want to eat around Christmastime. With the abundance of new chefs creating recipes (including desserts) that are sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan, there’s no excuse for NOT trying a Mint Cacao Cookie Truffle or a Vegan Gingerbread Cupcake just because “it’s sweet,” or just because “it’s the holidays.” Allow yourself to indulge in all the wonderful flavors of Christmastime (peppermint, gingerbread, pumpkin, cinnamon, spiced apple) – all it takes is a little effort to find the perfect recipe. And in the spirit of Christmas, give some away so you don’t feel like you have to finish twenty peppermint brownies all by yourself. Just give, give, give!]

I was happy to share this meal with Rosalie as well as my other wonderful roommate Mike who had just finished a two-day fast and Vision Quest. What a perfect recipe to warm our hearts and bellies.

Ingredients:

(Serves 3, or 2 very hungry people)

•2 tbsp olive oil
•1/2 red onion, diced
•3-4 gloves chopped garlic (we’re garlic fiends.)
•2-3 cups 1/2 inch cubed sweet potatoes
•1/2  of a medium butternut squash, 1/2 inch cubed
•1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
•1 large tomato, diced
•1 large carrot, sliced
•1 green bell pepper, diced
•3-4 leaves of kale, in pieces (they’ll cook down)
•14 ounces water (if it begins to stick to the pan)
•zest of one small lime,
•juice of small lime
•2 tbs fresh cilantro
•1 tbsp chili powder
•1 tbsp cumin
•salt & pepper
•salsa (we used Mango), if desired
•alfalfa sprouts, if desired
•whole wheat tortilla chips, if desired
Pour the evoo in the pan, add onion and cook over medium low heat until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, sweet potatoes, and squash and mix well. Add cumin, salt, pepper and chili powder and stir. Add beans, diced tomato, carrot, bell pepper, kale, and simmer for 30 minutes.
(Our little stove light proves lackluster for dinner-time photographs. I apologize.)
Add 2 tbsp cilanto and lime zest juice, simmer an additional 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Serve topped with salsa of choice, alfalfa sprouts, and whole wheat tortilla chips (we made our own at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes in the oven – super delicious!) Garnish with fresh cilantro and/or vegan cheese.
– – –
Rosalie and I decided to chant Om a few times before tasting the chili. Our voices are in a similar range, and create the most gorgeous tonal quality chanting together. It was as if only one person was Om-ing. Such a peaceful practice to share with another before a meal.
After the first bite, we began to chant something different. “Nooommmmmm.” Soooo delicious! The crunch of the chips paired with the smooth, sweet and spicy potato/bean mixture was killer – and the sweet salsa and sprouts added a crisp and tanginess to it that made it out of this world. I’m happy we could utilize some of other other vegetables like carrots, kale, and bell pepper as well without taking away from the star ingredients.
Love versatile recipes like this that you can have fun with. To me, that’s what cooking is all about: working with what you’ve got, and creating something spectacular out of it.
Nom-aste!
Shelby