Monday, May 31, 2010

DIY Vegan Ranch

(Photo credit:  Ace Fitness)

Since fresh vegetables are coming back into season now, I have really been eating a lot of salads and fresh veggies.  One of my favorite salad dressings has always been ranch.  After becoming a vegan, I have had a hard time finding a good vegan ranch.  I have been to a few restaurants that have it down.  The Spiral Diner in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas and Rosetta's in Asheville, NC have EXCELLENT vegan ranch, but I have never been able to buy a bottle at the store that I liked or make it at home.  But last summer when visiting some friends out in Portland, Oregon, we had a potluck together and one of my friends made some amazing vegan ranch!  She wrote down the recipe and I tried it as soon as I got home.  It was perfect!  But there was a catch-the recipe calls for 1 cup of Vegenaise.  Yikes!  For those of you who follow Weight Watchers, you know that even one tablespoon of Vegenaise is very high in points.  So I put the recipe aside and decided it would only be a special occasion kind of recipe.  But now Follow Your Heart makes a reduced fat Vegenaise!  I honestly think it's just as good as the original!  So last time I was in Asheville, I bought 3 big jars of it because the expiration date is not until November.  During the last couple of weeks, I have been using my DIY vegan ranch for salads, to go over steamed broccoli and for anything else I can use it for!  :)  Here's my friend's recipe:

Vegan Ranch

-1 cup Vegenaise (Like I mentioned before, I think the Reduced Fat Vegenaise is just as good.)
-1/4-1/2 cup soy milk (or other unsweetened non dairy milk)-it depends on how thick you want your ranch
-1/2 tsp garlic salt
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-2 tsp fresh parsley (I just use about 1 to 2 tsp of dried parsley and it works fine)
-1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
-1/4 tsp dill

Food process all ingredients-use less soymilk if you want to make a dip.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies

I came up with another cookie recipe yesterday!  I am really having fun coming up with cookie creations.  I felt like my first cookie creation was a success, so it gave me the confidence to come up with something new.  I was REALLY craving chocolate yesterday.  I was looking up all kinds of chocolate desserts from the Vegetarian Times recipe site so I knew that I wanted something with chocolate.  As always though, a lot of recipes I find online or in books are too high in Weight Watchers points.  I don't like using 3 or 4 points for a cookie because I usually can't just stop at one cookie.  Since I was craving chocolate and I have some really delicious cocoa from the bulk bin at Earth Fare, I decided to do a double chocolate cookie to really satisfy my chocolate craving.  The cookies turned out a little gooey in the middle, but it gave them a fudgy brownie like consistency.  That's why I gave them the title of Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies.  I think next time I will sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top just for looks.  Please note that the photo is from the Martha Stewart website-I cannot take credit for it.  Here's the recipe. 

Katy's Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies
-1 TBSP ground flax seed
-1 1/2 TBSP warm water
-1 cup whole wheat flour
-1/4 cup baking cocoa
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-3-5 tiny scoops of Stevia (I buy the organic Stevia from Trader Joe's that comes in a little container.  It's very sweet so it only takes a little bit of it to sweeten something.  You could also use another type of sweetener if you don't have stevia.)
-3/4 to 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
-2 TBSP agave nectar
-1/4 cup almond milk (or other nondairy milk)
-1 tsp vanilla
-Chocolate chips (45 grams) (I use Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.  They are vegan and the best I have tasted.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the ground flax seed and warm water together and set aside. 

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Then mix the wet ingredients together in another bowl.  Add the flax mixture into the wet ingredients.  Mix well and then add the chocolate chips. 

Spray a cookie pan with nonstick spray.  Using a cookie scoop, scoop out the mixture into cookies.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.   (You might want to cook a little longer if you want them to be less gooey.) 

My batch made 16 cookies.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Homemade Vegan Ice Cream Adventures!

A little over a month ago I had a gift certificate for Amazon so I decided to buy an ice cream maker.  Vegan ice cream is often expensive and very high in Weight Watchers points.  So I thought with an ice cream maker, I could experiment to create my own low fat vegan ice cream creations.  So far, I have tried two recipes.  The first recipe I tried was from the Happy Herbivore-it didn't work for me.  (Click on the Happy Herbivore link to check out that recipe.)  Instead of using the vacuum packed tofu, I used the silken tofu that's in the container.  The ice cream definitely had a tofu taste about it and it was still pretty runny.  When I left it in the freezer over night, it was solid as a rock with ice crystals on top of it.  I know I made some mistakes with the recipe, but it just wasn't for me.  (Although I LOVE Happy Herbivore and many of the other recipes from the site.)  Last night I tried a different recipe from Vegan Planet.  It was the double chocolate vegan ice cream recipe.  (<---Click on the link and then scroll down a little to see the recipe.)  This recipe had a GREAT taste, but once again, did not completely set up.  I think there's probably a trick here and hopefully with time I will figure it out.  I didn't want to wait though, so we went ahead and just enjoyed it after about 30 minutes of being in the ice cream maker.  I would love to try new recipes if anyone has one for me to try. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Very Own Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I have never created a cookie recipe without using another recipe as a guide.  But I have made enough cookies now (yes...I know that's a shocker) to figure out the basic elements that make a cookie work.  I basically just needed to know the right equation for baking soda and baking powder and then I felt like I was good to go.  I LOVE cookies with chocolate chips, but often they are the cookies that are too "pointy" on Weight Watchers.  Or the recipe calls for ingredients such as sugar and oil that make them too high in calories or fat.  So I decided to create my own cookie and just see what happens.  I am sure there's some variation of this cookie out there somewhere, but I feel proud of this nonetheless!  Here's my first very own cookie recipe!  (Please note that I can't take credit for the photo-I found it at 

Katy's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes a fairly small batch of 11-12 cookies)
-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup old fashioned or quick cook oats
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 TBSP ground flax seeds
-1 1/2-2 TBSP warm water
-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
-2 TBSP agave nectar
-1 tsp vanilla
-3 scoops of Stevia Extract (Let me explain this one-I buy this little bottle of organic ground Stevia Leaf from Trader Joe's.  The scoop inside the bottle is tiny.  I used 3 of those tiny scoops for this cookie recipe.  You could really use any alternative sweetener to taste or real sugar if you didn't mind the extra calories.)
-Chocolate chips (I have a food scale and I used 45 grams.) ***I use the Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips-they are vegan and SOOO good!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix dry ingredients together (the first 5 ingredients).

Mix the ground flax seed and warm water together in a small container and set aside.

Mix applesauce, agave, stevia, and vanilla together--then add the flax seed mix to it. 

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well mixed. 

Then add chocolate chips to the mixture and mix well. 

Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.  Using a cookie scoop, place cookies on cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are firm.

Monday, May 3, 2010

So.....Do you want to save the environment AND get a workout?!

Well....then this is what you want to get:

We recently bought one of these and it's such a workout!  We have tried about every eco friendly option for lawn mowers and so far this one is the best.  We have gone through 2 electric mowers (one that you plug in and one that has batteries) and both ended up dying on us.  We have also tried another type of push mower that just didn't end up working out.  But the one we have now is much sturdier and it's 20 inches across so it's bigger like a gas powered mower.  Our yard is big....about 1/4 of an acre.  It takes about 2-2 1/2 hours to mow.  I think that's some serious calorie burning.