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

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

Lite Pumpkin Chickpea Curry & Chocolate Gingerbread Smoothie

Anyone will tell you that I go a little nuts around the Holidays. I know what you’re thinking: the Christmas gift panic, general anxiety, overwhelm with school, fear of stocking coal, and other severe clinical Holiday disorders.

But nay. Not that kind of nuts.

I really get into Christmas. (And Thanksgiving. [And Halloween.])

It didn’t really occur to me until this year living with my roommates that some people just don’t function at the high degree of Holiday enthusiasm as I do. And that is a-okay. For most, Christmas carols can be annoying as all get-out, a Christmas party is a synonym for bloating, and in December, all the little elves seem to be stealing money from your wallet instead of replacing it.

These things do not resonate with me. I have Vince Guaraldi on repeat, bought $1 stockings at Goodwill for our household, and have been making giant 3-d paper snowflakes out of red and green paper.

Granted, I am conscious of the new paradigm of Consumer Christmas (note: $1 Goodwill stockings). My family and I prioritize on spending time together rather than spending a lot of money on one another. Correspondingly, I celebrate Christmas through food – making and sharing it with others, and emphasizing ingredients like pumpkin, ginger, peppermint, chocolate, and chai.

This time of year makes me crave warm, spicy things (and this time of month makes me crave chocolate things. Badly.) Of course, this recipe was the only thing on my mind yesterday at the grocery store.

I’ve also been on the hunt for the perfect gingerbread smoothie recipe – thick, chewable, nourishing, sweet, and spicy. The Healthy Foodie’s recipe seemed to fit the bill. My interpretation probably would have been better with the white bean addition (genius!), but I’m (moderately) happy with my finished product. (Moderately) happy enough to share with you!

– – –

Lite Pumpkin Chickpea Curry

(‘Litely’ Adapted from An Edible Mosaic – Serves 4-5)

•2 tablespoon olive oil

•1/2 medium-large onion, diced

•1 medium carrots, thinly sliced

•1/4 teaspoon salt

•1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas

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

•6-7 large cauliflower florets, chopped into bite-sized pieces

•3 large cloves garlic, minced

•1/2 block of tofu, chopped into 1/2 inch squares

•1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated

•2 teaspoon curry powder

•2 teaspoon turmeric

•1 teaspoon ground coriander

•1/2 teaspoon black pepper

•1 teaspoon cinnamon

•1 bay leaf

•1 vegetable flavored soft bouillon cube

•1 cup pumpkin puree

•1/2 tsp Thai Kitchen red curry paste

•1 1/2 cups water

•1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

•1/4 cup Lite coconut milk

•red pepper flakes, if desired

•Fresh lemon wedges (optional; for serving)

•Fresh parsley or cilantro leaves (optional; for garnish)

(Note: I’m a weirdo who uses all the veggies I can that are in my fridge. If you’d like to stick to more curry-traditional veggies, link back to the original recipe for ideas.)

Place carrots, snap peas, asparagus and cauliflower in a large pot over a steamer and steam at high heat  for 5-10 minutes or until they’re cooked.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; add the onion and salt and sauté until the onion is starting to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the tofu, garlic, and ginger and cook 2 minutes; add 1 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and bay leaf and cook 1 minute more.

Drain your steaming pot, remove steamer, replace vegetables and add in the contents of your saucepan. Add the bouillon cube, pumpkin, red curry paste and water and bring up to a boil.  Add the remaining 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Cover the pot (leaving the lid ajar), and turn heat down to simmer and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the chickpeas and cook 3 minutes, then add the coconut milk and cook 2 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze on top, garnished with fresh parsley or cilantro, if desired. (I made mine reaallly spicy with red pepper flakes and garnished with sprouts, of course)

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Chocolate Gingerbread Smoothie

(Makes 1 serving)

•1 frozen banana

•1 – 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

•1 scoop chocolate, sugar-free vegan protein powder

•1/2 tsp maple agave

•1/2 tsp fresh, grated ginger

•1/4 tsp vanilla extract

•1 tsp cinnamon

•1/4 tsp allspice

•1/4 tsp cloves

•1 tbsp slivered almonds, if desired (for crunch)

•1 tbsp flaxseed meal, if desired

•Gingersnap cookie or flaked cereal, for garnish

Mix all ingredients together with a blender. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve with crumbled gingersnap or flaked cereal on top, for garnish.
– – –
These two recipes, although severely altered, have satisfied my Christmas taste buds. Last evening was a different story. I was determined to make something chocolate with my newly-purchased cocoa powder, but without applesauce, coconut oil, or vegan margarine, I was pretty much at a loss. I ended up using leftover lightly-salted rice cakes, crumbling them up, and making a banana-cocoa-peppermint-everything concoction that was then mixed in. Laid out on a baking pan and left in the freezer for a couple hours, they were pretty deerrrn good. Like chocolate peppermint rice krispie treats. I used way too much peppermint extract, but overall, not a disaster. Maybe I will try them again and formulate a recipe.
And now, yoga. My eyes need a break from this computer screen. And the sun just came shining into my windows!
Leave your favorite Holiday smoothies in a comment. I just found this precious article this morning: 5 Holiday Smoothie Recipes
Nom-aste!
Shelby

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

Ohhhh-ho-ho, do I have something gooood for you.

After meditation this morning, I was hungry for breakfast. I spilled all of my almond milk yesterday, so a protein shake was out of the question. My second favorite breakfast dish, a hearty bowl of steel-cut oats, was the next best thing. Naturally, I hopped onto FoodGawker to forage for a new oatmeal recipe to try.

It’s clear that pumpkin oatmeal is the trend lately. I’ve had about twenty bowls of it so far this fall. And while it is delicious, warming, and seasonal – I’m getting sick of it!

A few recipes jumped out at me. Apple Pie Oatmeal, Banana Berry Nut Butter Oatmeal, Rhubarb Baked Oats.

And then . . .

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal.

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal (Sugar-Free, Vegan)

(Original Recipe found at Une-Deux Senses)

Serves 1-2

•2/3 cup water/non-dairy substitute (almond milk/rice milk)

•pinch of salt

•1/2 cup dry steel-cut oats

•1/4 medium zucchini, finely grated

•1/4 tsp vanilla extract

•1/2 tsp. cinnamon

•1-2 tsp freshly grated ginger

•pinch of nutmeg

•pinch of allspice

•1 tbsp. almond butter/any nut or seed butter

•2 tbsp slivered almonds/walnuts/pecans

•1-2 tbsp raisins

•1 packet of stevia (about 1/4 tsp)

•Maple agave

In a small pot, bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat. Add in the steel-cut oats, lower the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I found I had to add in more water than the original recipe suggested occasionally to keep the oats cooking/prevent the bottom from scorching). After about 15 minutes, add the zucchini, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

Stir well, then cover again and cook for another 5-10 minutes (if oats are dry, add a bit more liquid). Remove from heat, stir in the almond butter, nuts, raisins, stevia, and a just a little bit of maple agave (save some for serving).

Prepare yourself, and serve with a few more nuts, raisins, and maple agave on top.

This is, without a doubt, the most delicious oatmeal I have ever eaten. The steel-cut oats and almonds add a soft crunch, mimicking the texture of baked zucchini bread. The sweetness of the raisins and maple agave really take this to another level. I am dreaming of my next adventure with this when I have almond milk, walnuts, and crystallized ginger. . .

I think I gobbled this down in two minutes flat.

If you want a unique, sweet, and seriously satisfying breakfast that’s sugar-free – this has gotta be it.

This recipe is also a great alternative to heavy starches and breads in the morning that can make you feel weighed down. Oats are a great replacement, and serve as a backbone for fun experiments. I’m itching to try banana bread oatmeal after eating this. My mind is full of enticing possibilities. . .

(P.S.: I definitely felt more centered this morning while cooking. For a day about to be full of rock climbing, it was nice to spend a gentle morning in the kitchen beforehand. I admit – it was hard to photograph this before diving right in, but it sure helped me appreciate it that much more.)

Nom-aste!

Shelby