Shelter-in-Place Recipe: Egg-Free Sourdough Discard Chocolate Cupcakes

A couple of weeks before the COVID-19 stuff became disruptive locally, a friend gave me some sourdough starter. I read up and bought flour (just in the nick of time) and messed around with it and managed to keep it alive, but I had no idea when I’d have enough time to babysit dough long enough to bake bread.

Then came shelter-in-place, and suddenly there was that time I was looking for. (Silver lining?)

I used the Beginner’s Sourdough Bread recipe from The Perfect Loaf but because I can’t not mess with things, I made it 75% whole grain (whole wheat and spelt). The crust was a little darker and more assertive than was optimal, but my family loved the flavor of the bread and ate it happily.

All was going along swimmingly until I realized that I was very quickly using up flour and that I had a major sourdough discard problem. My family loved the pancake recipe from The Perfect Loaf, but it calls for 1 1/2 cups additional flour and two eggs per batch, and flour and eggs have become very dear in these pandemic times. Plus, the sourdough discard was adding up faster than my family wanted to eat pancakes, so I needed another solution.

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Is it a hickey…or just eczema?

Although I’m pretty much just tired of thinking about and dealing with eczema, I’m still getting a lot of hits on my Execrable Eczema post from May 2012, so I thought I’d post an update. After this I’ll go back to my regular schedule of photo challenge posts, homeschooling posts, and posts about how I avoided fights in junior high.

First off, all of this is just what I’m doing to treat myself. It’s not a doctor-prescribed regimen, nor is it something I’m suggesting for anyone else. I just thought I’d post about it because I thought people might be interested.

So, the eyelid eczema I wrote about in May 2012 lasted from September 2011 through April 2013, and it was joined in 2012 by a patch of eczema on my neck. I looked like I was a 36-year-old with a large, perpetual hickey. And I assure you, even though hickeys are associated with teenagers, a hickey look-alike does not lend an air of youthfulness any more than adult acne does.

All of the eczema went away in April after I made some changes to my diet and my habits, but the patches on my eyelids started trying to come back again in September. It isn’t too bad right now, though, and I think I’ve narrowed down a few things that help keep it at bay.

First, I’m pretty sure I’ve identified some triggers:

1) Dairy. This is what set off my flare in 2011, and the flare before that happened in 2009 when I did a dairy challenge. I normally avoid dairy, but sometimes I get it accidentally, so now I’m more vigilant.

2) Sugar. Sugar bothers me anyway, so I usually avoid it, but sometimes I just want to have a little something sweet. The current mild flare I’m having started after I ate a bunch of salt-water taffies a friend brought for my kids this fall (and then Halloween happened, and it took me a while to get away from the sugar again).

3) Whatever was in my old facial care products. I’ve gotten migraines from artificial fragrances since I was in junior high, so I always avoid those, but when I switched to using only unscented castille soap and extra virgin coconut oil on my face and body, my eczema improved dramatically.

I don’t think any of these is the root cause of my eczema because avoiding them doesn’t get rid of my eczema entirely, but they do seem to trigger it and/or make it worse.

When my eczema finally went away (for a while) this past April, it coincided with starting an immune-balancing regimen and quitting raw kale. Now, kale is a very healthy, nutrient-dense food, but I’d been eating a LOT of raw kale, and it might have been too much of a good thing. I was consuming 1/2 to 1 bunch of raw kale a day, in addition to 1/2 head of romaine lettuce and 1/2 bunch of cooked kale, collards, or other leafy green. I already have thyroid issues, and I think this was just too much for me.

In April I quit the raw kale—and my eczema went away. Hooray! (I also lost 7 pounds, which would support the idea that it was messing with my thyroid.)

But this fall when the eyelid eczema started coming back, I decided to tweak things again. I decided that I would focus on what I think are the two main causes of my eczema: inflammation and auto-immune reactions. I’ve not been able to get much help with this from my doctor (or, doctors, since I’ve been doctor shopping again), so I’ve been cobbling something together on my own. We’ll see how it works.

In addition to avoiding my triggers, here’s what I’m doing:

-Diet: I’m eating vegan, but with no raw crucifers. (Well, I’m vegan except for special occasions because I’m just not ready to trade turkey for lentil loaf.) I’ve been gluten-free since 2006, and now I’m avoiding all grains (not eliminating them, just eating much less of them). I’m also avoiding refined sweeteners, caffeine, and alcohol.

I went back to eating vegan because it’s the way of eating that most sources agree is the most anti-inflammatory. Personal, possibly TMI, anecdotal evidence of this: I have really painful menstrual cramps when I’m on an omnivorous diet. Like, wake-me-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night cramps. Like, “I gave birth to a nine-pound baby in a tub in my dining room and this is painful” cramps. I’ve been vegan again for a month, and it’s already better. Maybe it’s the anti-inflammatory effect? Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

-Supplements: I’m not super keen on dietary supplements, but there are a few I’m taking to help balance my immune system. I take an herbal immune balancing formula (Chinese mushrooms, vitamin C, vitamin D, selenium, probiotics), cod liver oil, time-release vitamin C, extra vitamin D, and a probiotic blend.

-Exercise: I take a brisk 30-minute walk and do 15-20 minutes of yoga every morning. I try to do other exercise, too, but this is the guaranteed, must-do, rain-or-ice exercise I do every day.

Things I want to add in, but I’m not quite there yet:

-Meditation: I do meditate, but it’s really hit-or-miss. My goal is to meditate for five minutes before lunch and then for 30 minutes in the evening. My sub-goal is to be able to meditate for 30 minutes in the evening without nodding off and then jerking myself awake when I start to teeter on my cushion.

-Essential oils: One immune-balancing protocol I’ve read prescribes specific essential oils at different times of day. I’m doing the morning one (rosemary or lemon, which I put in my morning shower and in the oil I use as a moisturizer), but the lavender at lunchtime and the eucalyptus in the evening aren’t happening regularly just yet.

-Sleep: 8-9 hours a night would be nice. My spouse attended a scientific conference last month where he heard a presentation about circadian rhythms and artificial light. Apparently, artificial light really screws up our circadian rhythms, and LED lights screw them up worst of all. Since the 1950’s, we’ve lost an average of 1.5 hours of sleep per night. While we sleep, our lymph system dilates and works to flush out toxins, like the metabolic byproducts of running our big brains, and if we don’t get adequate sleep, this process is incomplete. I’d like to give my lymphatic system ample time to clean out the junk, but I’m not quite ready to give up my evening quiet time or to read by candlelight, so this one’s going on the back burner.

For now, my eczema is in a holding pattern. My eyelids are itchy and varying shades of red, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was before. So, either what I’m doing is working, or it’s all just a big coincidence and I could actually be eating steaks and cupcakes and wearing eye makeup and it wouldn’t make any difference at all.

Because I like to have an illusion of control, I’m going with the former.

Once again, this is not a doctor-prescribed regimen, nor is it something I’m recommending for other people. It’s just what’s working (or at least what I hope is working) for me, and I’m sharing it because I think some folks might be interested. Please don’t take it as advice because that’s not at all what I intend.

Rhubarb. Yes, Rhubarb.

A couple of weeks ago, I acquired some rhubarb.

Rheum rhabarbarum - Rhubarb
Rheum rhabarbarum – Rhubarb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’d never cooked with rhubarb, and the only experience I’d had with it (aside from a vague memory of a song some high school friends used to sing that involved repeating “rhubarb” over and over) was when my mom would pick a stalk from my grandpa’s Ohio backyard and then eat it raw dipped in salt. One quick taste convinced me that this was not the way I wanted to enjoy my rhubarb, but neither did I care for the high sugar content of most rhubarb recipes I encountered. So, I kept looking while hoping the rhubarb would stay fresh-ish in my fridge until I found a recipe I wanted to use. Read More

Vegetable Rolls

I bought the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook more than a decade ago. It was our primary cookbook for a number of years, then it slowly fell out of favor when I stopped eating gluten and dairy. Recently, however, I was thumbing through my cookbooks, looking for inspiration.

I seem to have fallen into a vegan, gluten-free way of eating over the past year. If you’ve tried eating vegan and gluten-free and were raised eating pasteurized processed cheese food and bacon sandwiches on white bread with butter and mayonnaise as I was, you know it requires a lot of inspiration.

What I discovered in my aimless thumbing was the “vegan list” in the back of the cookbook. I spent a morning looking up each recipe, checking it for gluten and for likely acceptance by my family, and making a nice, long list of new recipes to try.

One of these was very simply named “Vegetable Rolls.”

CIMG9328

I’ve tried making spring rolls before using raw vegetable fillings, and they were kind of ho-hum. These Vegetable Rolls are not ho-hum. The vegetables are lightly sauteed, dressed in a basic sauce, and mixed with fresh tarragon and basil before they’re rolled in the rice papers. The result is a tasty, fresh, satisfying meal that’s well worth the time it takes to prepare.

My husband loved these, I loved these, my 7.5-year-old daughter opened hers up and ate the filling, and my 3.5-year-old refused to even taste them. That’s about the best we’re able to do these days. I’ll take it. I made them again later on in the week to use the rest of the mushrooms we’d bought.

The recipe includes a hoisin dipping sauce, but I couldn’t find any gluten-free, sugar-free hoisin sauce, so I made up my own little sauce out of tamari, water, rice vinegar, garlic, hot pepper sesame oil, and a little ginger. I can’t tell you the ratios because I really didn’t pay close attention, but if you play around with those, you should be able to come up with a yummy sauce. If you make your own sauce, you also might want to add a little sweetener (agave, sugar, honey).

Vegetable Rolls

Reprinted with permission from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2001.

Serves 4 to 6; Total time: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients:

1 1/2 to 2 ounces bean thread noodles

1 T peanut or other vegetable oil (I used sesame)

2 c grated green cabbage

2 c sliced mushrooms

4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1 T grated fresh ginger root

1 c peeled and grated carrots

1 c thinly sliced red bell peppers

1/2 c finely chopped scallions

2 T soy sauce (I used wheat-free tamari)

1 T rice vinegar

1 T chopped fresh tarragon

2 T chopped fresh basil

12 rice paper discs (8 inches across)

1/4 c chopped peanuts (I didn’t use these)

Directions:

Soak the bean threads in warm water until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the cabbage for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and ginger and continue to saute on medium heat for another 4 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft. Add the carrots and bell peppers and cook for about 5 minutes more, until hot but still slightly crunchy. Remove from the heat.

When the bean threads are soft, drain them and cut into 3- to 4-inch lengths with scissors or a knife. Add them to the sauteed vegetables with the scallions, soy sauce, vinegar, tarragon, and basil. Stir to combine and set aside.

Moisten the rice-paper discs a few at a time at a time by immersing each one in a large shallow bowl (I used a pie plate) of warm water, transferring it to a clean towel, and laying it flat (I just laid them one at a time on a clean cutting board. It was pretty wet, but I just didn’t let them get completely soft before taking them out of the bath). Let them soften for a few minutes. Soften more as needed and as space permits.

Place about 1/3 cup of filling on the bottom half of a softened disc, fold over the sides, nd then roll up from the bottom, as tightly and gently as possible. Place seam side down on a platter and repeat with the rest of the filling and discs.

Serve with Hoisin Dipping Sauce (see below—or your own improvisational dipping sauce) and a sprinkling of peanuts.

Hoisin Dipping Sauce

(which I did not make)

1/4 c hoisin sauce

1 T water

2 T rice vinegar or lemon juice

1 t dark sesame oil

1/2 t Chinese chili paste (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.

Miracle Pecan Smoothie, or Making Lettuce Into Liqueur

A very weird thing happened today.

I was making a Vegan Maple Pecan Pie Smoothie from Healthy Blender Recipes, and I made a few modifications. I added some romaine lettuce (no, this isn’t the weird part) and subbed a little stevia for part of the maple syrup and accidentally forgot the cinnamon entirely. The result tastes like a creamy coffee-flavored liqueur drink even though there’s neither coffee nor alcohol in it. Nor cream, actually.

And it’s not just my weird alcohol-and-coffee-starved taste buds that taste Kahlúa where there is no Kahlúa. My spouse tasted it, too, and he consumes way less kale than I do.

It’s possible it’s some kind of miracle. Or perhaps there’s some logical, scientific explanation that I’ve simply not discerned yet, some kind of chemical reaction between the pecans and the lettuce and the maple syrup. Or maybe my bananas were so ripe they’d begun to ferment.

Whatever it is, here’s the recipe. You give it a try and let me know what you think.

CIMG9273

Miracle Pecan Smoothie

(modified from Healthy Blender Recipe’s Vegan Maple Pecan Pie Smoothie)

Yield: 4 cups

1 cup romaine lettuce (3-4 leaves)

1 cup pecans

2 cups water

2 frozen ripe bananas

1 T maple syrup (I use grade B)

1 scant dropperful of liquid stevia

2 tsp vanilla extract

pinch sea salt

Toss everything into your high-powered blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy (this takes ~50 seconds in my Vitamix).

So? What do you think?

50 Shades of Green: Savory (and Sweet) Smoothie Roundup

I’ve been cautiously venturing into the world of savory smoothies the past week or so.

The first several I tried were…suboptimal. So suboptimal that I found them nearly undrinkable. I was discouraged and nearly gave up.

But while posting about savory smoothies last week, I found a link to Tess Masters’ blog, Healthy Blender Recipes. There I found savory smoothies that were not only palatable but delightful. I liked them so much that at the end of the week when I started adding fruit back into my diet, I tried out some of her sweet smoothies (and continued to drink the savory smoothies). I’ve been sending links to her blog left and right, and I figured I ought to just cut to the chase and blog my praises.

But first, a couple of general notes about green smoothies:

1) Tess recommends—and I agree—that if you’re a green smoothie neophyte, you start with the fruity green smoothies made with friendly, mild greens like romaine lettuce and spinach instead of moving on to more challenging greens and fruit-free smoothies. I’d been drinking fruity green smoothies for four years before I worked up the courage to try a savory one.

2) Savory smoothies are best very, very cold and fresh out of the blender. I also prefer to drink mine through a straw. I’m sensitive to textures and this helps me get past the sometimes off-putting thickness of a smoothie with avocado in it.

And now on with my Healthy Blender Recipes smoothie love-fest! These are a few of my favorites with links to her recipes accompanied by my notes and photos.

Savory Smoothies

Salty Alkaline Kale Green Smoothie

The only change I made to this recipe was to omit the sprouts because I didn’t have them handy. I really loved the salty, garlicky flavor when it was first blended. Two problems, though:

First, my daughter didn’t like my garlic breath after I drank it. I just made a point not to breathe/burp on her and that solved that.

Second, this recipe made a ton of smoothie…EIGHT CUPS! It almost overflowed my Vitamix. I could only drink about half of it at breakfast. I put the rest in the fridge, but when I came back to it at lunch, it had grown unpleasantly bitter. When I make this again—and I will make it again—I will halve the recipe unless I have two or three other friends over to share with me.

Raw Vegan Spicy Tomato Parsley Green Smoothie

This one is the first of Tess’s smoothies I tried. I’ve had it twice this week. It’s spicy and tangy and thick. Drinking it is kind of like drinking a spicy guacamole. I didn’t use roma tomatoes; instead I used the cherry tomatoes and “Garden Peach” tomatoes from my garden.

“Garden Peach” tomato

Tomato Tangent: The Garden Peach tomatoes have coloring similar to a peach and even have fuzz on the skin. I think they’re cute, and they’re very tasty, although it’s possible that their yellowish color contributed to my smoothie’s not-so-appetizing hue. (It might belong better on a “50 Shades of Ochre” post.)

Sweet Smoothies

Raw Vegan Creamy “Pistachio Ice Cream” Kale Shake

The recipe calls for agave syrup or dates, but instead I used stevia to sweeten this smoothie so as not to add any more sugar. Maybe that’s why it tasted more like bubble gum to me than pistachio. It was still very, very good. So good, in fact, that I’ve made it twice and both times I’ve finished the whole thing before my husband has been able to try it. The second time I even accidentally put in double the kale and it was still delicious. I’ve made it both with almond milk and with the water and cashews, as called for in the recipe, and both are fabulous.

Raw Vegan Banana Coconut Cream Pie Smoothie

This, friends and neighbors, is the best of the four smoothies I’m featuring from Healthy Blender Recipes today.

It is so good that my husband—the man who merely tolerates my green smoothie obsession and the resulting greens overflow from our refrigerator—loved it. “Wow!” he exclaimed when he tasted it after his run the other day. “This is really good!” Then, cautiously, “What makes it green?” And he kept drinking it even after I told him what made it green! (Romaine lettuce in this one.)

It is so good, in fact, that we drank it down before I had a chance to photograph it. I’m planning to make it again this weekend when the bananas are riper, and I promise to do a smoothie photo shoot and update this post with an image.

UPDATE: I took a picture when I made this smoothie again tonight! It turned out greener this time than it did last time. I used local romaine this time; maybe it was greener than the lettuce I used last week.

This concludes my post praising Tess Masters and Healthy Blender Recipes.

I admit, the title of this post is a bit misleading since I’m only featuring four green smoothies rather than fifty, but these are so good, they’re sure to keep you busy for a while. (And “50 Shades of Green” just sounds better than “4 Shades of Green.”)

If you get through these and want more, be sure to try out Tess’s other blender recipes. I plan to treat myself to a mocktail from one of her recipes this weekend. Or…maybe before the weekend.

The Apple-Crisp-and-Beach-Trip Anniversary (#12, of course)

Today is our 12th wedding anniversary.

I’ll wait for the applause to die down before continuing.

Yesterday we drove out to Gloucester to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary by spending the day at the beach. We had 80-degree temperatures and clear blue skies. We found a protected little cove with lots of sand and bordered by trees, so while my sun-loving family played in the water, I reclined in the shade and read. I walked in the water for a little while. Collected some sea glass, took some photos.

Afterwards, we had dinner at a Portuguese restaurant where we determined that my daughter loves lobster and that my son is convinced that it’s hilarious to even suggest he might eat it. “I doan eat wobter!” he’d giggle every time we offered him some. It was a good dinner, but I’ve yet to eat blow-your-mind seafood since we’ve been in New England. I’m still looking.

At the restaurant, I asked my husband if he had anything to say about our 12 years as a married couple.

“I think we’re keeping it real,” he said.

We got stuck in traffic on the way home for some undetermined reason probably explained by wave theory. We were tired of our music and entertained ourselves for a while with the erratic “seek” function on the car stereo. The highlight was King Harvest’s “Dancin’ in the Moonlight.”

Everybody here is outta sight, indeed.

Actually, I think my husband would say the highlight was “Kickstart My Heart” by Mötley Crüe. The fact that we listened to both songs in their entirety happens to be our secret to wedded bliss. That and the fact that we both remembered all of the lyrics to “Wonderwall” by Oasis.

Today, we biked to church in the continued awesome weather. But before we left, I threw together a gluten-free, dairy-free apple crisp. Three out of four of our family members agreed that it rocked. The holdout was my daughter who’s decided that she doesn’t like apples.

With any luck, we’ll be able to finish out our anniversary with some spaghetti, an early bedtime for the kids, and a couple of episodes of “The Office.” If my husband doesn’t feel too weird about the fact that I dreamed about Jim Halpert last night. (It was totally G-rated, I promise. Well, PG.)

Happy Anniversary, Honey!

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Anniversary Apple Crisp

modified from the Pear Plum Crisp recipe from Cynthia Lair’s Feeding the Whole Familyand is similar to her recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. (Follow the link for a much more attractive picture of a crisp than I took.)

Ingredients:

1 c gluten-free rolled oats

1/2 c gluten-free flour blend of your choice (I eyeballed a mix of rice flour, arrowroot starch, and buckwheat flour)

1/2 t sea salt

1/2 c dairy-free margarine, melted and divided

7 T maple syrup, divided

1/3 c chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

3 t cinnamon, divided

1/2 t nutmeg

2 t vanilla extract

5 to 7 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced (I used Cortlands. They worked great.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix oats, flour, salt, 1 t cinnamon, and nuts together in a bowl. Add 1/4 c of the margarine and 4 T of maple syrup and mix well. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3 T maple syrup, 1/4 c melted margarine, 2 t cinnamon, the nutmeg, and the vanilla, and set aside.

Put apples in a lightly oiled 8×8 baking dish. Pour the liquid mixture over the fruit and stir gently to distribute as evenly as possible. Spoon the oat-nut mixture over the top of the fruit. Cover and bake about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes to make the topping crisp.

Chocolatey Figgy Smoothie

Last week at the grocery store, there were figs. They looked so good that I bought them and brought them home before I remembered that I don’t really like figs.

They sat in the fridge for days while I hoped that someone else in the family would open the door, say, “Ooo! Figs!” and scarf them down.

After nearly a week, I finally looked up figs online to get some serving suggestions. All of the articles about eating figs were predicated on the idea that figs are really awesome and yummy, which really didn’t help me out. I needed something in which to hide my figs and make them palatable to me, if not to the rest of my family. All of the articles also made it clear that figs last only a few days in the fridge, so I needed to act fast.

I remembered a yummy chocolate smoothie recipe I’d made years ago. I looked up the recipe in I Am Grateful by Terces Englehart and Orchid. It called for dates and nut milk, too, neither of which I had right then, so I decided to wing it, buoyed by the assurance that adding figs to a smoothie was not, in fact, unprecedented.

I threw a bunch of stuff in the blender, and when I tasted it, I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted quite yummy. And between the caffeine in the cocoa and the laxative properties of the figs, this smoothie really got me going. So to speak.

I put figs in my smoothie this morning, too, without chocolate and with greens. It was fine, but not awesome. If you really want it, I’ll share that one, too. For now, here’s the chocolatey one.

Chocolatey Figgy Smoothie

yields about 4 cups

Ingredients:

3 black mission figs, washed

3 strawberries, washed

1 banana, peeled

soy milk or other non-dairy milk (about one cup)

2 T raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa, for a stronger flavor)

1 t vanilla

1 rounded scoop lecithin granules (optional. I like using lecithin for the silky-smooth texture it gives my smoothies)

5 ice cubes

Place the figs and strawberries in the blender. Pour soy milk over them until it reaches the “1 cup” line on the blender pitcher. Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 30-60 seconds until smooth.

Watermelon-Mint Smoothie

I love fresh mint, and I always buy it when I see it at farm stands and markets. I smell it on the way to the car and as I put it in the produce drawer, then I leave it there, unable to think of anything to do with it, until it gets all nasty and rotten and I throw it in the garbage or compost.

One day, I would like to try to make vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream, but the recipe I have calls for mint extract, and I’m not sure how much fresh mint that translates into (and I’m not sure if I’m prepared for the disappointment if it doesn’t turn out). If I figure it out, you know I’ll be posting about it.

For now, one thing I do make with mint is a watermelon-mint smoothie. It’s a refreshing summertime dessert/breakfast/snack/post-hike treat. It also helps me eat the watermelon. I like to buy whole watermelons (because I’m weird about worrying that the store people haven’t properly washed the rind before they’ve cut the melon) but the rest of my family only eats about three bites before they’re done and I’m left with 7/8 of a watermelon to eat on my own. This smoothie helps facilitate my watermelon-eating process. My husband likes the smoothie, too, so it also gets him to help me finish the melon.

If you want your smoothie to look more pink than the one I have here, you can use less mint, add more watermelon, or add a few strawberries. You can use seedless watermelon, or, if you have a snazzy blender (like a VitaMix or a Blendtec) you can use the seeded ones and toss the melon in seeds and all. Apparently there’s something healthy about the seeds, so there’s that extra benefit, vague as it is.

And one problem with our new house is that there’s not really a great place to take a photo with natural light without going outside. I’m going to have to work on that, though, because the flash really takes something away from the photos.

My son thinks it's beer when he sees it in the glass. It's not, though. I promise.

Watermelon-Mint Smoothie

Makes 1-4 servings, depending on how much the people you’re serving it to like it. (That’s about 5 cups.)

Ingredients:

1/4 medium-to-large watermelon, flesh cut away from the rind

leaves from 3 stems of fresh mint, washed

about 4 ice cubes

Put everything in the blender, blend on high for 45-60 seconds or until beautiful and smooth. Pour into a fancy glass and enjoy!

Super-Secret Vegetarian Lasagna. Part Two: Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free

This one has the approval of vegans and dairy-eaters alike, but if you eat gluten and dairy (and love lots of cheese), also check out my Super-Secret Vegetarian Lasagna!

I have been trying since 2004 to make a yummy vegan lasagna. Back when I could still eat dairy, I would top the ones that weren’t yummy with a thick layer of melted cheese and that would make them palatable. Now that I can tolerate neither gluten nor dairy, the stakes are higher.

This weekend, however, I seem to have broken the code. This lasagna had me going back for seconds (and thirds, if truth be told). For the first time ever I didn’t spend my meal wishing I was eating the gooey cheesy lasagna on my husband’s plate rather than my own.

It was a red-letter day. And I got to serve yummy lasagna to the vegan friend who was over, which made me quite proud!

CJ’s Kick-Butt GF Vegan Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 batch of sauce (see Saturday’s post for the sauce recipe)

1 pound gluten-free lasagna noodles (uncooked)

1 package extra-firm tofu

1 bunch spinach (washed very well)

1 bunch basil (washed well as well)

1 T olive oil

1 yellow summer squash, sliced into half-moons

1/2-pound cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 generous dash each, oregano and garlic powder

1 package mozzarella-style vegan cheese (Daiya is gluten-free and not awful, but it seems like everyone’s got their favorite brand. Use what you like.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the basil and spinach into thin ribbons and combine in a large bowl. In a food processor, process the tofu until it’s smooth and creamy, like ricotta cheese, about 30 seconds. Spoon tofu into the basil and spinach mixture and stir until incorporated evenly.

Spinach/basil/tofu mixture

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced squash and mushrooms along with the oregano and garlic and saute until the mushrooms have released their juices and the squash is just softened.

mushroom/squash/garlic/oregano mixture

Now you’re ready to assemble your lasagna.

Put a layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.

Layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Getting artsy with my layering.

Put a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles on top, using broken pieces to fill in the space at the end of the pan, if necessary. Spread half of the spinach/tofu mixture on top of the noodles and top that with half of the mushroom/squash mixture. Add another layer of noodles and cover the noodles with a generous layer of sauce. Add remaining spinach mixture and then mushroom mixture, and then cover with another layer of noodles. Cover the top layer of noodles with a generous portion of sauce and sprinkle with vegan cheese.

Cover the lot with a layer of foil and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and vegan cheese is melted.

Ready for the oven! (once I put the foil on)