Thursday, March 28, 2013

Homemade Vegan Cream Cheese from Cashews

Cream cheese on a bagel is definitely something that I miss since going vegan, and although there are a few different cheese-less cream cheeses out on the market, I find that many of them aren't that great. I am not a fan of the soy taste, so this recipe by the amazing Miyoko Schinner (author of Vegan Artisan Cheeses) looked easy enough to make and totally appealing - no soy involved in the process!

At first, I wasn't sure if I was a fan of this recipe. The cream cheese is made out of raw, soaked cashews and a bit of non-dairy yogurt (I used almond yogurt), which didn't taste like too much at first. After a few days, I realized that this spread tastes way better the longer it sits in the fridge! After a week, it tastes amazing. I did make a few alterations - added some garlic powder, onion powder, and some fresh chives. It tastes fantastic on a bagel and definitely fills that void of no longer eating real cream cheese!

Here's the recipe! I should also mention that this keeps up to two weeks in the fridge, or 4 months in the freezer if you don't think you'll use it up all at once.

2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours and drained
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons non-dairy yogurt (I used almond yogurt)
1 pinch salt
optional ingredients to taste: onion powder, garlic powder, fresh chives

Put everything in a high-speed blender or food processor and process until smooth and creamy.

Transfer to a glass bowl, cover and allow to sit out at room temperature for 24-48 hours. (48 hours if using for a cheesecake.).

Cover and refrigerate.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chickpea and Rice Soup with Kale

Looking for a hearty, nutritious, comforting bowl of soup? Look no further! This one was originally posted over at the Post Punk Kitchen by the amazing Isa and it was another success in the kitchen (her recipes always turn out wonderfully!).  This soup is very healthy and satisfying with chickpeas, veggies, brown rice, kale, and a flavorful cashew cream is added to the broth. It is fairly quick to whip up as well and doesn't take too much preparation. In fact, I'm sure you have most of these ingredients in the kitchen already so you could make it...right now! It's also topped with green onions, which I love to devour.


3/4 cup cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours or overnight
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 cup rice, rinsed (I used parboiled brown rice - you'll want one that cooks in 15 minutes or under)
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, diced chunky
5 cups vegetable broth
1 24 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
4 cups chopped kale
Thinly sliced green onion, for garnish


Drain the cashews and place them in a blender with one cup of fresh water. Blend until completely smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor with a spatula occasionally to make sure you get everything. This could 1 to 5 minutes depending on the strength of your blender.

Preheat a stock pot over medium heat. Saute onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and saute a minute more.
Add rice, celery and carrots and then pour in the broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring down to a simmer, add the chickpeas, and let cook for about 15 more minutes, until rice is cooked and carrots are tender.

Add the cashew cream and kale, and simmer until kale is wilted, 3 to 5 more minutes. You may need to add water to thin the soup if it seems too thick. Taste for salt and seasonings and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to marry. Serve topped with green onions.

It thickens as it cools, so if you have leftovers, just thin with a little water when you reheat.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Apple Cider Mini Muffins

Originally, these were meant to be mini donuts. But, after making the first batch as mini donuts, they tasted much more like muffins to me - most likely due to the use of whole wheat flour. So, the next batches were baked in a mini muffin pan instead and these cutie little muffins were baked (and eaten!).

These muffins are slightly more wholesome than your average ones, using ingredients like whole wheat flour and apple sauce. Maple syrup is used in place of some of the sugar. Another special ingredient that I had to buy was apple cider, but I was able to easily find that at the grocery store. The muffins turned out super moist and had that wonderful apple-cinnamon flavor.

For an added sweetness, these muffins are topped with cinnamon sugar. I actually found a cinnamon sugar grinder at Trader Joe's that worked perfectly! However, you can easily mix together equal parts of cinnamon and sugar and dip each muffin into the mixture.

Ingredients: (Makes 48 mini muffins)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soymilk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, maple syrup, apple sauce, apple cider, oil, soymilk, and vinegar.
3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix but don't overmix.
4. Pour into the mini muffin tin (or mini donut tin, if you'd rather make donuts!). Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
5. Let cool completely in a pan. Mix equal parts of cinnamon and sugar, and dip each muffin top into the mixture.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Black Bean and Mexi Rice Tacos

My friends, Sarah and Ryan, have recently become vegetarians, and they are making the switch to becoming fully vegan soon! Sarah was really missing eating her standard meaty-Mexican food - but fear not, there are so many delicious vegan Mexican food recipes out there! We decided to make these delicious tacos using a tomato-y Mexi-rice, a black bean/corn mixture, and an assortment of delicious toppings. Needless to say, it was a success, and I'm sure they will both be re-creating this meal together in the future! It was also really fun cooking with friends.

Once you make the rice and the filling, you can add any toppings that you'd like on top! We had chopped green onions, fresh cilantro, chopped cherry tomatoes, salsa, lettuce, hot sauce, and Daiya vegan cheese shreds out in little bowls. We used corn taco hard shells warmed in the oven for a few minutes, but you could use flour tortillas as well. These could also be made into larger burritos with bigger flour tortillas.

Mexican Rice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups long-grain brown rice, rinsed
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1-14oz can of diced tomatoes, or whole tomatoes pureed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp salt

1. Heat oil on medium heat in a large pot. Add the rice and stir constantly until it browns.
2. Add the onions and garlic, stir 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the peppers, stir 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, and stir another 2-3 minutes.
5. Add the broth, cilantro, cumin, and salt. Reduce to medium-low, cover and cook until the rice has finished cooking and most of the liquid is absorbed. This can take anywhere between 45 minutes and 1 hour.
6. Remove from heat and let the mixture sit with the lid on for 10 minutes.

Black Bean and Corn Taco Filling
1-15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bag of frozen corn
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Mix everything together in a medium pot and place over medium-low heat. Stir until everything is cooked through and hot, about 10 minutes.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Delicious Dinner and Dessert at Kindfood

It is difficult to believe that I haven't blogged about Kindfood until now as it is one of my favorite restaurants! I live about 30 minutes away and I still try to visit this vegan food haven at least once a month or anytime I'm in the Burlington area. Tonight, one of my best friends, Shannon and I enjoyed a delicious and healthy dinner at Kindfood, followed up by dessert of course!

Kindfood is an all organic, gluten-free, and vegan restaurant that is recently renovated (looks fantastic!) and open for business Tuesday-Sunday during the day, and is now open for dinner in the evening on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I've enjoyed lunch on several occasions at the cafe and this was my first time going for dinner. The cafe now has multiple tables and it is set in a welcoming and cozy environment.

Both Shannon and I couldn't resist ordering the Mac 'N Cheese that came along with a side Caesar salad. The Caesar salad is "Romaine tossed in Kelly’s FAMOUS Cashew Caesar dressing, sprinkled with Brazil nut Parmesan and house-made quinoa croutons." The Mac 'N Cheese is ooey-gooey with vegan cheese and is also topped with that yummy Brazil nut Parmesan. The meal was incredibly satisfying, delicious, and was that classic comfort food that I had been craving!

Shannon with her pasta and salad dinner!
Of course, once we were finished dinner, we had to go for some dessert! I was craving some brownies or cupcakes baked from Kelly's Bake Shoppe (baked goods sold at Kindfood from their bakery that's located nearby, where you can find sooo many yummy vegan goodies!) - but they are so popular, that they sold out earlier in the day! Thankfully, there were some raw dessert options on the menu that certainly did not disappoint!

Raw Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Raw Chocolate Cake with Cashew Cream Sauce
Shannon ordered the Salted Caramel Cheesecake and I ordered the chocolate lover's dream cake, the Chocolate Cake with Cashew Cream Sauce. Naturally, we sampled each other's dessert so I was able to try both - they were both absolutely divine!

Me with my dessert!

If you're looking for a vegan restaurant to try out, I would highly recommend visiting Kindfood in Burlington, Ontario...and take a trip down the street to Kelly's Bake Shoppe while you're at it! You'll find fresh fruit smoothies, salads, sandwiches, quinoa bowls, soup, chili, burgers, and so many fantastic lunch or dinner options!  They also have a fridge and freezer section stocked with their own take-out meals, as well as many vegan essential food items.

I always like taking home some cupcakes with me and even though they were completely sold out at the it turns out, they had five left in the freezer! I bought all of them!

Vanilla, Chocolate, and Coconut-Chocolate Cupcakes!
Kindfood is located at 399 John St., Burlington ON and Kelly's Bake Shoppe is at 401 Brant St., Burlington, ON. You can also find Kindfood and Kelly's Bake Shoppe on Facebook!