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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

DIY Vegan- Have Fun & Save $$!

Lately I've been into DIY (Do It Yourself) culinary projects:

  • Rolling my own sushi using recipes from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
  • Making my own seed milk with a nut milk bag. I recently tried making hemp milk this weekend. The verdict: super fast and easy to make (just blend...straining is optional) and very healthy (lot's of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids!).
  • Making soy yogurt in the Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker that I got Danny for his birthday. We found that to make yogurt with soy milk, we have to strain it in paper coffee filters for an hour or so after incubation to thicken it. The result: rich, creamy greek-style yogurt!
  • Aging raw cashew cheese using this recipe from Rawmazing. Perhaps I didn't let the sprouted wheat berries ferment long enough, because my cashew mixture didn't have an aged cheesy flavor. I added some onion powder, scallion, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast and voila! - herbed cashew ricotta.
I certainly save money going the homemade route. I also feel this sense of accomplishment in doing so. How many people can say they ferment homemade yogurt overnight? 

World Cuisine 48297-99 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable SlicerLast weekend I made a complete raw meal to let everyone sample at my aunt's BBQ. I finally bought a spiralizer (see the photo at left), and I love it! It is really easy to use and takes seconds to clean. It quickly cuts vegetables into long spaghetti-like strands or into thin chip shapes, making raw vegetables easier to chew and digest. Since I got zucchini in my CSA box last week, I made zucchini spaghetti using my spiralizer. I made a raw marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, bell peppers, and herbs and "not meat balls" from walnuts and herbs. Both recipes were from Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 People. Everyone who tried the dish loved it and thought that it tasted very similar to real pasta. (I even served the spaghetti to Danny's 5 year old brother a few days later and he seemed to enjoy it once he got over the idea of eating "cold pasta.") I was able to use the abundance of arugula in my garden to make arugula pesto. I tweaked the recipe a bit by using only 2 cloves of raw garlic and omitting the cooked garlic, and using 1/4 cup hemp seeds + 1/4 cup nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese. My 93 year old grandpa almost polished off the entire bowl! I'm glad I was able to sneak some more veggies into his diet, because he certainly loves his meat and cheese.

For dessert, I made the melon salad with mint, basil, and lemon vinaigrette that I made for the potluck last weekend. I tried another dessert recipe from Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 People, and like everything else I've tried from that book, it was delicious and easy! I made the Tropical Fruit Tart with a coconut, macadamia, walnut, and date crust and a simple filling of fresh mango blended with dried mango. I garnished it with fresh strawberries and kiwis. This pie was not as rich and filling as the Chocolate Tart I made a few weeks ago, but it was perfect for a light summer dessert. 

I've been trying to plan my meals for the week every Tuesday (that's the day I pick up my CSA veggie box). My CSA box is always a surprise, so I wait to see what I get and then pick up any additional items I need at the grocery store. My garden has been providing me with sugar snap peas, lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, herbs, and now yellow squash and carrots, so I really need to coordinate my meals for the week so that nothing goes to waste! (And luckily nothing ever does go to waste, because I juice any extra fruits and veggies and compost the scraps). Yesterday I made a salad recipe from my CSA's newsletter to use up the radicchio, golden beets, white onion, and scallions from last week's CSA box. I added arugula from my garden, dates, hazelnuts, and used raw cashew cheese in place of the feta. I spiralized the golden beets and added some balsamic vinegar to bring out the natural sweetness of the beets. This recipe is definitely a keeper! 

heart-shaped beet!

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