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5 Easy Weeknight Meals: Your 7 Day Family Jump Start!

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The Mexican Menu + New Recipes

T minus 1 day until Shavuot started, my Mexican feast totally planned and shopped for…then I realized that I’d invited someone to lunch who happens to be from Mexico. By then I couldn’t make a whole new menu. Besides, I love Mexican food and I wanted to eat it! My guest was quite gracious in insisting that I did just fine but he did inform me that in Mexico tacos are actually made with soft tortillas. The closest thing they have to what we consider a taco is a tostada. The good news is that I was just trying to make a delicious menu and not a completely authentic one!

Here is the complete menu, for your copying pleasure, along with the recipes, resources and shortcuts that I used. The point is healthy and delicious, not to kill yourself in the kitchen.

Soup

  • Gazpacho (Super fresh and tasted homemade, but purchased from Goldberg’s Bagels in Potomac)

Salads

  • Roasted Corn, Pineapple and Black Bean Salad (Click for link to cooking.com recipe)
  • Jicama Mango salad. I got the idea from a Kimberly Snyder recipe from The Beauty Detox Foods that called for papaya, basil and dill. See my recipe at the bottom of this post.

Main Dish

  • Taco “meat” made with walnuts. I used the recipe from Kimberly Snyder’sThe Beauty Detox Foods” book. I don’t have permission to reprint her exact recipe. However, if you grind raw walnuts in the food processor (to the consistency of ground meat) and add taco seasoning (make your own or buy a pre-made spice mix without additives or too much salt), you’ll get a pretty similar result. My guests loved it and they are not people who normally skip red meat! It’s actually kind of creepy how similar it tastes and feels to ground beef (minus the gross parts anyway).
  • Taco fixings: Garden of Eatin’ organic blue corn taco shells with Wholly Guacamole taco bean dip and guacamole, Wholly Salsa regular mild salsa and roasted tomato medium salsa. Tofutti and regular sour cream (If I’d had more time I could have made a healthier alternative to the processed store-bought non-dairy sour cream. Alas, I did not.) Shredded lettuce (purchased already shredded!).

Dessert

  • Freshly cut watermelon (When desperate, feel free to buy overpriced already cut watermelon. Better yet, ask a guest to bring it already cut up).
  • Non-dairy cheesecake. I used an organic graham cracker crust. Because it only made enough filling to fill it half way, I took the top of the crust and used it to dust the top of the cheesecake and served it with fresh blueberries, raspberries and non-dairy whip. Here is the filling recipe by Paul Jarvis that I found on Kris Carr’s website: Blend 2 cups raw cashews (soaked, rinsed and drained), juice of 1.5 lemons, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Pour into crust and freeze for at least 1 hour. Was that easy or what?

Jicama Mango Salad Recipe

(Image courtesy of www.bulldogbistro.com)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 medium jicama

1 avocado

1 mango

3 small kirby cucumbers

1 organic lime, juice and zest

Directions

Peel and dice jicama, avocado, mango and cucumber. Add zest and juice of 1 lime and mix.

Easy, right? Let me know how it turns out!

New Recipe! Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pudding

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia… Pudding!

Watching those Chia Head commercials growing up, did you ever imagine it would become the next Super Food? Did you know what a Super Food or Kale was? Chances are you didn’t. I know I didn’t and my parents were always into healthy food.

Per your request, here is the basic recipe (and some fun options) for the chia pudding I tricked my kids into eating. It’s not really a trick…it’s just reverse psychology. I eat it. It’s MY food. Then they want it.

Oh and in case you didn’t know, I wanted to trick my kids into eating it because it is full of healthy plant protein, antioxidants and omegas.

Chia pudding

Ingredients
1/4 cup chia seeds

2/3 cup liquid (water or non dairy milk)

Options:

liquid: water, unsweetened chocolate or vanilla almond or rice milk

sweetener: maple syrup or agave nectar

sweet: cinnamon, sliced fruit and berries

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other: nuts and toasted unsweetened coconut

Always add the sweetener and fruit right before serving.

2 great versions that I love:

1. Chocolate Banana: Use unsweetened chocolate almond milk, agave nectar and bananas.

2. Vanilla Berry: Use unsweetened almond milk, maple syrup, blueberries and strawberries.

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Directions

Mix the chia seeds with the water (or milk substitute) and place the bowl in the fridge to firm up. The minimum for this is 10 minutes, but the longer you leave it in, the firmer it will become. For breakfast, it’s easiest to make this the night before. Then, in the morning, just pull it out and add any optional ingredients of your choice. If making it as a dessert, put the pudding together and in the fridge before you start making the meal.

You’ll want to mix it well when you take it out of the fridge. In addition, if you are leaving it in for longer than the 10 minutes, feel free to give it a mix once or twice if you think of it.

Let me know on my Facebook page which combinations work for you and your family!

 

10 Tips & Tricks for Egg-free Angel Food Cake

Egg-free Angel Food Cake Recipe & Tips

If you’re allergic to eggs or vegan, you too can have Angel Food Cake! It’s not very good for you, but I was excited to find a recipe I could work with. I’ve always loved Angel Food Cake with whipped cream and strawberries. I’m happy to know I won’t have to go through life without it now that I don’t eat eggs! It may not be healthy, but it is nice to know I can make it once a year if I want.

My kids thought the batter tasted like marshmallow fluff! My daughter loves to tell me how she knows she can safely taste the batter for my concoctions because there aren’t any raw eggs in there.

I found a recipe online that I thought could work. I’m going to give you the recipe along with the lessons I learned along the way.

First, thank you The Vegan Chronicle for the recipe. I’m happy to give credit where credit is due.

You’ll find the original recipe at the bottom of this post.

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10 Tips & Tricks for Egg-free Angel Food Cake

1. I did not use blueberries because the author (she doesn’t provide her name on the blog) said they didn’t work so well.

2. I did not make the glaze because I thought there was enough sugar going on with this recipe. It’s up to you. I love lemon so the lemon glaze sounds delicious. It’s just another cup of sugar I couldn’t bear to use. I feel so guilty making unhealthy recipes! :)

3. There was no way I was going to hold a hand-mixer for 12 minutes while I waited for the egg-replacer powder to firm up. So, for the first time in 8.5 years of marriage, I pulled out my standing mixer. No wonder people keep that thing on the counter! It must way 50 pounds! (For the record, it hasn’t been collecting dust for 8.5 years. My mom has used it. :) Because I was unsure of using it I spent 12 minutes letting it mix on low. That did nothing. I turned it to high (wow is that fast!) and then the concoction turned into something resembling whipped egg whites.

4. I didn’t sift the flour and sugar and I also didn’t fold it. I didn’t sift because I couldn’t be bothered and I didn’t fold it in (I just put it in while the mixer was going) because I just forgot it was supposed to be folded! It turned out fine, but I’m sure could have been lighter if I’d done the sifting.

5. What the heck is cake flour? I’d never heard of it (except the Passover version) before this recipe. It is super sifted flour. It’s about as white and devoid of nutrients (except the added “enriched” ingredients) as possible! I found a brand called Silk in the baking section of my regular old grocery store.

6. I couldn’t find my angel food cake pan so I baked half of the batter in a silicone cupcake pan (those took only 20 minutes to cook) and half in an 8 x 8 square pan lined with parchment paper (40 minutes to cook).

7. What is Ener-G? It is egg replacer powder found at health food stores. I’ve read on some vegan blogs that there are people without access to it. However, you can buy it online from the company that makes it, here. You can also search for where to buy it in your area here.

8. I used a non-dairy whipped creme from the kosher store. Sometimes it is also carried in the refrigerated kosher section of major grocery stores. The recipe was already such a potschke that I just used the chemical non-dairy whip that comes in the canister like regular whipped creme.

9. I found a gigantic container of organic strawberries at Whole Foods for less than a million dollars. I cut them all up and mixed with one teaspoon of sugar to bring out the juices (Ok, Mom, you’ve converted me on this step!).

10. Have a great time making little strawberry shortcake stacks with your kids. Throw some blueberries on for good measure and you might even start making fun faces with the fruit.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
For the cake:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups vegan sugar, divided
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 12 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup vegan powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1. Sift together 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1 cup flour through a flour sifter or fine-mesh sieve into a bowl; set aside.

2. Make the Ener-G eggs in a large bowl (you’ll need 6 tablespoons of the powder whisked into 1 and 1/2 cups warm water).  Beat with a hand mixer for 12 minutes, until the mixture is thick and stiff like egg whites. After the first minute, add the cream of tartar and salt.  At about the 6 minute mark, begin adding the remaining 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time.

Note: be sure to use your largest mixing bowl for this process – the mixture is going to have a lot of volume.

3. Sift the cake flour mixture over the Ener-G mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, and gently fold in.  Fold in the vanilla extract and blueberries.  Although you could use either fresh or frozen blueberries, I chose fresh.  Next time, however, I might go with frozen since they are smaller and more uniform in size; I found that it was hard to fold in some of the larger, fresh blueberries, and they clumped together in batches, as seen in my final photo in this post.

4. Sift the remaining 2 tablespoons cake flour over the lemon rind in a bowl, and toss to coat.  Sprinkle the lemon rind mixture over the cake batter, and fold in.

5. Spoon the batter into a 10-inch angel food cake pan, spreading evenly.  Run a knife through the batter to break up any air pockets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes – I couldn’t believe (peaking through the window of the oven) how wonderfully puffed in volume my cake became, and the lovely golden tinge it took on.

6. Remove from the oven and invert the pan over a plate.  If the cake doesn’t fall out on its own, use a narrow metal spatula to release it from the sides of the pan; cool completely.  Alas, the cake deflated quite a bit the moment it was out of the oven (the batter was all the way to the top just before opening the oven door), but the sponge-y, spring-y texture remained.

7. To prepare the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Drizzle over the cooled cake.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 slice), Calories 297 

Tasting Notes:
I still can hardly get over the fact that this cake worked.  The texture was soft and sponge-y and delicious, and there was great blueberry and lemon flavor.  I actually would use less lemon glaze on top, since the tart lemon distracted from the cake itself, but overall, I was so pleased with this dessert.

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