Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

OKTOBERFEST ADDS WILD CELEBRATORY FLAVORS TO THE FESTIVITIES OF THE MONTH

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 7, 2013

 BIERFEST POTATO SALAD

Bierfest Potato Salad

 

Oktoberfest is a fun celebration that actually began in Germany toward the end of September and ended the first Sunday in October. The first Oktoberfest was a very festive occasion that took place in 1810. If you have a yen for the juicy details, you can read about the grand historical and celebratory event at Vegetarians in Paradise.

For now, I content myself with the thought that the entire month of October brings such beautiful, freshly harvested foods to the market that I plan on incorporating them into some tantalizing dishes and partying all month long.

There are probably hundreds of ways to make potato salad. Traditionally, this age-old favorite party salad is dressed with mayo, a rather fatty ingredient. In an effort to reduce the fat content and still create an appealing potato salad with satisfying flavor, I ditched the mayo completely and turned to cider vinegar instead.

Sound weird? It’s actually a handy little trick I picked up many years ago.  As soon as the potatoes are cooked and drained in a colander, I transfer them to a bowl and pour the apple cider vinegar over them. I  toss gently with a wooden spoon to make sure all the potatoes get the cider bath. What takes place at that moment is that the cider vinegar gives the potatoes an instant infusion of  a very pleasing tang.

Then, all the potato salad needs is a little salt and pepper, if you like, and some crunchy veggies. I decided to combine my end-of-the-summer tomatoes and bulbous bell peppers in a potato salad that would reflect the stunning harmony of the autumn season’s dazzling colors.

And, oh! I forgot one more little ingredient, tempeh bacon, that adds so much to the Octoberfest theme  and to the overall flavor. The grand result is a gorgeous potato salad that’s also deliciously flavor-drenched.

The salad is also good keeper that can be made a day ahead or enjoyed as a leftover that still retains bright beauty and lusty flavor. One big cautionary note–don’t overcook the potatoes (like I sometimes do when I have too many things going at the same time!) or you’ll have mushy potato salad!

 

Yield: 5 to 6 servings

2 pounds  Red or White Rose potatoes, scrubbed, cut into bite-size chunks

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided

1/4 cup  apple cider vinegar

1 cup  cherry tomatoes, halved

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

6 to 8 green onions, chopped

1 (8-ounce) package tempeh bacon, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, or to taste

1/4 bunch parsley, for garnish

1.    Put the potatoes and onion in a 4-quart saucepan with water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and cover the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until just fork tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.

2.    Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a large bowl. While the potatoes are still hot, pour the vinegar into the bowl and toss well with a wooden spoon.

3.    Add the cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, and tempeh and toss gently.

4.    Add the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and adjust the seasonings to taste. Transfer to an attractive serving bowl and garnish with the parsley.

Posted in Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Octoberfest, Side Dishes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SHIITAKE TORNADOES FOR CANADIAN THANKSGIVING

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 3, 2013

SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/zelallen/Desktop/SHIITAKE%20TORNADOES%20copy%202.doc

SHIITAKE TORNADOES IN

CASHEW CREAM SAUCE

SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/zelallen/Documents/Zel’s%20Documents/GONE%20VEGAN%20FOR%20THE%20HOLIDAYS/CHRISTMAS/Main%20Dishes/Shiitake%20Tornadoes%20in%20Cashew%20Cream%20Sauce.doc

Shiitake Tornadoes in Cashew-Cream Sauce copy

Picture-perfect, this sumptuous and very festive main dish makes a showy presentation on the Thanksgiving holiday table. Adorned in black sesame seeds, these 12 striking globes rise up from a rosy pool of seductive cashew sauce and entice the inquisitive palate.

To ease the holiday stress, have the cooked brown rice ready and make both the tornadoes and the sauce the day before. Stored them separately and assemble the dish shortly before serving. Briefly warm the tornadoes in a 350-degree F. oven and the sauce on the stovetop.

Presentation is everything with this dish. It’s so simple, yet makes these sesame coated balls look amazing. Hunt for long sprigs of rosemary to poke into each “tornado.” I just know that when you bring this dish to the table, you’ll hear some very pleasing ooohhs and aaaahhhs.

Present the tornadoes on a recessed platter that will hold a pool of sauce and allow you to garnish the edges. If you can’t locate black sesame seeds, roll the tornadoes in toasted or natural sesame seeds and they will still make an awesome main dish.

Yield: Makes 12 balls; 8 to 12 servings

Tornadoes

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps cut into quarters

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon tamari

1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives

3 cups cooked short-grain brown rice

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely ground

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 cup black or regular sesame seeds

12 long sprigs fresh rosemary, for garnish

6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half, for garnish

1.    To make the tornadoes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2.    Combine the mushrooms, onion, tamari, and tarragon in a large, deep skillet. Add water and cook and stir over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked and the onion is softened and transparent. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.

3.    Transfer the mushroom mixture to a food processor and add the olives. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl.

4.    Add the rice, oats, walnuts, salt, and pepper and mix well. Pour the black sesame seeds into a deep, medium bowl.

5.    Using your hands, form the mushroom mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll each one in the sesame seeds to coat well. Place the coated balls on the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Cashew Cream Sauce

2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste

1 to 2 tablespoons tamari

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

Pinch cayenne

1/2 cup cashews, finely ground

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1.    To make the sauce, combine the vegetable broth, tomato paste, tamari, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, marjoram, and cayenne in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer 1 to 2 minutes.

2.    Add the cashews, whisk and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. The sauce will continue to thicken upon standing. Add extra vegetable broth to thin the sauce as needed. Before serving, stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

3.    To serve, spoon the sauce into a large, deep platter and arrange the tornadoes over the sauce. To garnish, poke a rosemary sprig into each tomato half and push them into the tops of the tornadoes, so they stand upright.

Note: If not serving immediately, refrigerate the tornadoes and sauce separately. Warm the tornadoes in a preheated 350-degree F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes before serving. Heat the sauce in a saucepan over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes.

Posted in Canadian Thanksgiving, Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS GIVE-AWAY!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 1, 2013

My Beauty Bunny is THE PREMIER blog that reviews cruelty-free beauty products, including make-up, body, care, skin care, hair products, and a special section on vegan products. Visitors to this compendium of cruelty-free beauty products site will also find Leaping Bunny, a program that recognizes companies for their cruelty-free practices.

MBB-VH

If you love contests, My Beauty Bunny is the place to check out. There are plenty of happenings ongoing all the time!

MBB-VHHere’s how to win a Vegan for the Holidays Cookbook! http://www.mybeautybunny.com/win-vegan-holidays-cookbook/#ixzz2dSysAv00 thru Dec 31

*****************************************************************************************

HOW THE VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS COOKBOOK WAS BORN

Many years ago I remember being bummed out when one of our kids brought a vegan friend over the house for dinner. At that time, it was a big deal because I had no idea of what to fix for them.

Now that I’ve been vegan for 24 years, the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. Though things have changed considerably over the years, and many people have become pretty darned savvy about what’s vegan and what’s not, there are still some big gaps and big humps for vegans to overcome.

One of the major humps still plaguing vegans is the traditional holiday dinner, when the whole family comes together for the festivities. The lone vegan in a non-vegan family may be one of the lucky ones to have a vegan-savvy family that knows just what to cook to satisfy all tastes.

For the vegan whose family cooks the Standard American dishes for those big holidays like Thanksgiving, the struggle goes on.

That’s mainly why I created the Vegan for the Holidays Cookbook, but it was for me, too. I thought it would be fun to have a whole bevvy of holiday dishes in my repertoire that I could count on year after year and not have to struggle to come up with something special for the occasion.

I figured I wasn’t the only vegan who faced the quandary of what to cook for those special holiday meals–dishes that really stand apart from stuff I cook the rest of the year.

A FEW DISHES FROM VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS

I also wanted to be able to share those special dishes that make the holiday dinners so divinely delicious and so very memorable. Here are a few dishes to stir your curiosity:

carrotwreath copyAlmond Thumbprint CookiesNew Year LogSanta's Favorite Panforte

There’s nothing like a tasty teaser to spark even more curiosity, so I want to share one of my favorite appetizers that appears in the Christmas section of Vegan for the Holidays. Truth is that this recipe is so versatile, it doesn’t have to wait for the holidays to arrive.

Because the ingredients are available year round, Tofu Tijuana Cocktail is a delight even in the middle of July. Actually, it’s a fabulous starter in July when avocados are in abundance and reasonably priced.

Another point of versatility is the inter-play between tofu and chestnuts. When chestnuts are in season, generally from October through December and sometimes January, they ought to be the featured item in this starter. And, if you’ve never ventured into the land of cooking and peeling chestnuts, check out the step-by-step Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts details that appeared in an earlier post Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts.

The thing about chestnuts is their ultra sweet flavor and soft and pleasing potato-like texture. Chestnuts are not like any other nut, yet they are still considered a tree nut, like walnuts or almonds. What makes them so different? For starters, they have a soft and starchy texture rather than a crunchy nature like other nuts. They are extremely low in fat–about 2% rather than the usual 50% to 80% fat in most other nuts. Chestnuts are starchier than other nuts with about 27% carbohydrates, while other nuts range in carbs from 12% to 32%.

When chestnuts are not in season, replace them with chunks of firm tofu and enjoy a delicious starter that looks elegant served in long-stemmed wine glasses or champagne flutes.

DON’T MISS AN OPPORTUNITY TO WIN YOUR OWN COPY OF VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS! CLICK ON My Beauty Bunny <a href=”http://www.mybeautybunny.com/win-vegan-holidays-cookbook/#ixzz2dSysAv00&#8243; title=”My Beauty Bunny cookbook give-away”>

TIJUANA TOFU COCKTAIL

Colorful and inviting, this zesty appetizer comes alive with bright colors, bold flavors, and a glamorous presentation. I created this recipe to spotlight fresh chestnuts, then replaced them with tofu for its ease of preparation. Either way, this is a delicious starter. If you enjoy chestnuts as much as I do, go ahead and substitute them for the tofu and you’ll find they add a pleasant sweet balance to the savory and spicy flavors.

Yield: 6 to 8 servingsTijuana Tofu Cocktail 2copy

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cups diced firm tofu, or chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts
1 large avocado, diced
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

1. Combine the canned and fresh tomatoes, tofu, avocado, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, and salt in a large bowl and mix well.

2. To serve, spoon the cocktail into long-stemmed wine glasses, old-fashioned glasses, or glass dessert bowls and garnish each with a sprig of cilantro and a wedge of fresh lime perched on the rim. Serve with spoons. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve later.

Posted in Appetizers, Celebrations, chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Holiday Recipes, Vegan for the Holidays, Zel's Cookbooks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

VEGAN TASTINGS GO ELEGANT FROM HOTEL TO PARKING LOT

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 26, 2013

Reuben among guestsIn the last week Reuben, at left, and I attended two important vegan launch events as representatives of our vegan website–Vegetarians in Paradise. The first soire, on August 15th, was held in a beautiful setting on the sprawling lawn at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. The hotel’s aim was to introduce the new summer and fall vegan and farm-to-table menu items served in the Breeze Restaurant.

The second event, on August 22nd, took place in the parking lot at the Follow Your Heart food service facility called Earth Island. For Los Angelenos, Follow Your Heart is a long-standing and very beloved natural food market and vegetarian/vegan café where diners can order popular items like the Love Plate and Om-lette. And their exceptional soups are famous and even featured inEarth Island #1 their Follow Your Heart Vegetarian Soup Cookbook. The focus of the event was to introduce something vegans can never seem to get enough of–vegan cheese–specifically their new Vegan Gourmet Shreds–a meltable dairy-free cheese available in Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Fiesta Blend flavors.

The tasting at the Hyatt Regency was an elegant event with Executive Chef Felix Nappoly and Sous Chef Ali Parvinjah, who is vegan, greeting guests and chatting about the new menu offerings. Posing between the chefs is Co-host Carolyn Scott-Hamilton of The Healthy Voyager. Carolyn was instrumental in coordinating with the hotel’s PR Director Adrienne Devore to invite vegan media and VIPs to taste the new vegan items and signature vegan cocktails.

Chefs & Carolyn

Both chefs were recognizing the need to meet the growing demand of patrons requesting vegan foods. This is a really big deal–the Hyatt Regency is a very large and very well known hotel in Los Angeles where visitors come from all over the world. The hotel also caters large events for foreign visitors as well as local residents.

The chefs were gracious as they strolled around the outer perimeter of the 4-sided bar answering questions and posing for photos. Behind the bar a number of chefs were busily preparing gorgeous tidbits for tasting. On the vegan side were bit-size morsels of stunning appetizers, each served it its own unique mini dish.

The Breeze Restaurant will feature the following items in their new menu:
Beet Carpaccio, Gardein Chicken with Risotto, Macadamia Caprese with semi Dried Tomato, Basil oil, Mizu Vinaigrette, and Balsamic Caramel, Smoked Tofu Dijon with Stone Fruits, Red Beet Quinoa with Zucchini Noodles, Golden Raisins and Toasted Almonds, with Avocado Basil Oil and Yellow Beet Chips, and Vegan Breakfast Wrap.

Beet Carpaccio with Edamame Hummus and Basil Oilmacadamia Caprese with semi Dried Tomato, Basil oil, Mizu Vinaigrette, Balsamic CaramelRed Beet Quinoa with Zucchini Noodles, Golden Raisins and Toasted Almonds, Avocado Basil oil and Yellow Beet Chipssmoked tofu dijon stone fruitsGardein Chicken with RisottoSushiEnglish Pea Soup ShootersCherry Pie in mini jars

The photos suggest vegans will have an opportunity to enjoy an elegant array of menu choices that are stunning as well as tasty. If you drop in to Breeze Restaurant for a lunch or dinner and don’t see the new vegan items on the menu, be sure to ask. The menu will change with the seasons. And, as you might expect, the ambience is elegant and upscale.

*****************************************************************************************************************

Follow your Heart’s Vegan Gourmet Shreds Tasting was a smashing success! Earth Island is a huge, completely solar-powered facility where the popular Vegenaise, Vegan Gourmet cheeses, and the multitude of Follow Your Heart’s salad dressings are prepared and shipped across the country. The parking lot in front of Earth Island easily morphed into a charming gathering of vendors and bloggers who will spread the word about the exciting Vegan Gourmet Shreds, the cheese that melts and makes so many foods taste so compelling.

Bob GoldbergMichael BesanconPaul Lewin

Three of the original four owners Bob Goldberg Michael Besancon, and Paul Lewin meandered about the crowd chatting and shaking hands. While Michael Besancon moved on many years ago, Bob Goldberg and Paul Lewin are still leading Follow Your Heart’s 21st century journey forward. Marketing Director Katie Franklin stepped up to the mike to greet everyone and lead tours of the impressive solar facility. Bob gave a brief history of how Follow Your Heart began back in 1970 and grew into the wel-admired company it is today.

The parking lot was attractively outfitted with linen-draped standing-height tables with umbrellas providing welcome cover from the hot sun. Several of the familiar staff members from the café were busily weaving among the crowd and passing little dishes of cheese filled irresistibles.

Here’s what we gorged on as we waited in anticipation to taste the next delicious nibble. The photos follow the same order as the the names are listed:

Spinach & Artichoke QuicheEnchilada Bites 2Salad 2Crispy Chick'nMini TacosGrilled Cheese SandwhichesMac n Cheese

Mini Spinach and Artichoke Quiches featuring their Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Shreds

Enchilada Bites

Iceberg Lettuce Salad with cherry tomatoes topped with the new and very exceptional Bleu Cheese Dressing

Crispy Chicken w/mozzarella & tomato sauce

Veggie Tacos topped with their Fiesta Blend unmelted shreds

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches featuring Cheddar shreds in two versions: Roasted Garlic Vegenaise and Pesto Vegenaise

And Mac ‘n’ Cheese featuring their melted Cheddar

Each of the tasty cheese-filled morsels was an excellent example of how easy it is to incorporate the shreds into everyday favorite dishes. The killer-delicious mini quiches added an elegant touch to the array of samples, demonstrating how well the shreds could boost the flavor and appearance of party dishes to make them extra special.

In addition to the delightful cheese tasting, representatives of The Vegan Vine were serving up samples of their white and red wines in elegant, long-stemmed wine glasses, while Angel City Vegan Brewery was on hand to introduce two vegan beers by serving up generous cups filled to the brim.

The new vegan foods introduced at both the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel and Follow Your Heart have earned a special place at Vegetarians in Paradise–and we will happily spread the word. Both are representative of how far vegan cuisine has come in recent years. May vegan foods be THE foods of the future for humans, animals, and the entire planet.

Posted in Appetizers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NUT MILKS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE BABY FORMULA!!!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 12, 2013

Over the years posting nut information on this blog, I’ve noticed the items that receive the most response are those that discuss nut allergies and some of the allergic reactions people have experienced from consuming nuts.

I usually address these by replying to comments people post on the blog. However, I recently received an email from a concerned Mom of a 13-month-old boy. This caring mom was breast-feeding her son for 9 months until she became pregnant and lost her milk supply.

Apparently, she turned to a cow’s milk formula and became concerned when her son developed a nasty diaper rash that would never clear up. She suspected the child may have an intolerance and sensitivity to dairy and began preparing various nut milks for him, one day making almond milk, almondmilkw:pitcheranother hazelnut, or macadamia milk using 1 to 2 cups of nuts to 4 cups of water.

She read my blog post on Brazil nuts and the many many comments people wrote in discussing their unpleasant reactions caused by the nuts and decided Brazil nuts were not a good idea for nut milk. I totally agree with that decision.

almondmilk bottleWanting to be sure her son was getting enough of the proper fats and nutrition in his diet, she began to question whether nut milks in general were an appropriate substitute for baby formula. She was adamant she did not want to return to cow’s milk formula and asked me if I had any resources she could research for proper baby/toddler diets.

Because this issue is so important to the healthy growth of her young child, I knew I was not qualified to address this with the wisdom it needed. I turned to my friend Vesanto Melina, MS, RD who kindly answered my call for help.

Articles180Here’s what Vesanto wrote:

“This family should definitely be using fortified nondairy milks–not nut milks for their little boy.

Fortified soymilk or infant formula are the only cow’s milk alternatives recommended before age 2
as these have enough calcium and vitamin D (and other nutrients) which nut milks made from nuts do not.

She should not be afraid of soy; the anti-soy hype comes from the dairy industry-related folks and is unfounded.

If she is concerned and does not want to use soy or dairy I could do a consultation with her
and figure out some options that work and are entirely nutritionally adequate for her son.”

If you or anyone you know might be struggling with a similar issue, registered dietician Vesanto Melina would be happy to consult and can be reached at her website Nutrispeak.

Some parents of infants may have read articles about soy that suggest it is an unhealthful food. Addressing this topic, Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, writes in her book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, “The media have propagated concerns about soy’s effect on Julieanna Heverhormones. You may have heard how soy consumption decreases fertility or gives a male ‘man-boobs.’ But no solid evidence supports these assertions.

“Similarly, fears circulated that soy-based infant formulas led to problems with sexual development, brain function, immunity, and future reproduction. No conclusive evidence supports these claims, either. Most experts are confident in recommending soy-based formulas.”

Because of its purity, several vegan moms recommend Baby’s Own Organic soy formula made for babies 1 year or older. This formula contains no GMOs and is the only formula that does not contain corn syrup, also called glucose syrup. It also does not contain ingredients like organic palm olein oil or hexane processed DHA.

Nutritional Comparison Chart -Soy Pediatric Formula is an excellent chart comparing the nutritional profile of several soy formulas with human breast milk and cow’s milk.

The important issue with nut milks is they do not contain the proper balance of nutrients to takealmonds & glass the place of breast milk or properly designed soy formulas.

Becoming Vegan bookIn their book Becoming Vegan, authors Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, both registered dieticians write, “The rationale for using formula in the 12-24 month period is that commercial formulas are modeled after breast milk and thus include most of the nutrients provided by breast milk (with the exception of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids) in amounts that are especially suited to the growth and development needs of infants.”

Most parents are aware that for feeding infants, there is no true replacement for the many benefits of breast milk. Dr. McDougallJohn McDougall, MD, extolls the virtues of breastfeeding in his Dr. McDougall’s Moments video, calling it the best and safest food for babies. In his video, he tells his audience that breast milk is always the perfect temperature, it’s clean, comforting, and is always free.

Posted in almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, Macadamias, Nut Allergies, Nut Nutrition, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

SWEET SUMMER PEACHES DANCE WITH CHOCOLATE AND WALNUTS

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on June 13, 2013

Summer desserts often spotlight fresh fruits as the center of the season’s sweet indulgences. Many of us home cooks, feeling a little weary of the long, long season of apples, pears, and oranges, really look forward to the refreshing flavors of stone fruits. They perk up the fruit bowl with their brilliant colors, and every bite is divinely sweet and juicy.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the market on a hunt for fresh, ripe peaches with the hope they would also be sweet. Often, the first-of-the-season fruits tend to be a bit tart–and they were–so tart they even made my mouth pucker. On this week’s shopping trip I was thrilled to discover bins of beautiful yellow peaches with a gorgeous rosy glow. I bought some for my cooking class and had the pleasure of hearing the peaches were delicious and the dessert was a smashing success.

This is a dessert I devised especially because it contained no sweeteners of any sort. The sweetness comes only from dates. It’s also gluten-free. Anyone wanting to avoid sugar or suffering from gluten intolerance will find this an ideal dessert because there’s no sacrifice–really–none at all because it’s decadently sweet and chocolaty rich without the offending ingredients. If allergies are a problem, just leave out the walnuts, and you’ll still have a fabulous dessert.

Easy as pie–that’s how I think of this recipe, and I think you’ll agree. You can also make it a day in advance by brushing the exposed peach flesh lightly with lemon juice to prevent discoloring.

nut toolsThe only tools you’ll need are a food processor and a hand-crank nut mill to grind the walnuts into a coarse meal. I’m pretty sure everyone knows what a food processor looks like, but I often encounter puzzled looks when I mention nut mill. If you don’t have one, you can use other tools, like a hammer, food chopper, rolling pin, or mini blender, to grind the walnuts into a coarse meal. The nut mill is the item in the center of the photo and has a black cover and black handle on the end of the hand-crank. It’s a good old-fashioned low-tech tool, but turns out perfectly ground nuts I often use as garnish or to add a little texture to a recipe.

And don’t skimp on the garnish! Those little finishing touches are what dazzle the eyes and ramp up the temptation meter. A few perky sprigs of fresh mint and some scattered nuts on the dish do the deed.

Well, here they are–fresh, sun-ripened peaches stuffed with indulgent chocolate all ready for dessert. They look so irresistible, chocolate fans will snap up these gorgeous treats in a flash. The best part is that you won’t need to use the oven or stovetop to prepare this hot-weather dessert–it’s deliciously raw and can be assembled within minutes. And it doesn’t hurt that they look so tantalizing.

Chocolate Stuffed Peaches copy

CHOCOLATE STUFFED PEACHES

Yield: 4 servings

6 fresh peaches

1 cup firmly packed dates, cut in half
2 to 3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely ground in a hand-crank nutmill
12 golden raisins, for garnish
3 to 5 fresh mint leaves, for garnish

1. Cut the peaches in half, discard the pits, and set aside.

2. Put the dates into a food processor and pulse chop a few times. With the machine running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the water and process until well mixed but still very slightly chunky, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Add all or part of the remaining tablespoon of water if needed to moisten the date mixture.

3. Add the cacao and almond extract to the processor and process briefly until completely incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons of the ground walnuts and mix well. Put the remaining ground walnuts into a separate small bowl.

4. Using your hands, form the cacao mixture into twelve 1-inch balls. Press a ball into each of the peach halves. Holding the peach carefully, invert it and dip the top of each cacao ball into the ground walnuts to coat the top of the ball. Arrange the peach halves on an attractive serving platter.

5. For the finishing touch, poke a golden raisin into the center of each cacao ball. Sprinkle any remaining nuts around the platter and garnish with the mint leaves.

Posted in Vegan Desserts, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE NUTTY SIDE OF THE NATURAL PRODUCTS EXPO DISCOVERY #2 – DON’T GO NUTS! PEANUT-FREE SOY BUTTER

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on March 15, 2013

Don't Go NutsThere were so many great nutty finds at the Natural Products EXPO West this year. But here’s a no-nut twist – nut-free, peanut-free Soy Butter – and it’s delicious. It’s flavor and texture are reminiscent of peanut butter, but with its own distinct and different nature.

Created by Jane and Doug Pinto especially for their daughter, Lily, who has a serious, life-threatening nut and peanut allergy. This very enterprising Pinto family wanted to help their daughter and other families with children suffering from nut and peanut allergies.

Their effort led to creating their own facility where no nut or peanut has ever entered the building. They even have equipment that blows dust off every item before it enters the facility to be sure there is no nut contamination.Don't Go Nuts Soy Butter

DON’T GO NUTS is a unique company with a focus on social responsibility, sustainability, and creativity.

The product comes in several varieties to please all preferences. There’s Organic Chocolate, Organic Pure Unsalted, Organic Slightly Sweet, Organic Lightly Sea Salted, and Organic Cinnamon Sugar. All the flavors are USDA Certified Organic.

Posted in Nut Allergies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE NUTTY SIDE OF THE NATURAL PRODUCTS EXPO WEST

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on March 13, 2013

One step into the Natural Products EXPO West vendor floors at the Anaheim Convention Center and you’ll have no doubt this annual event is THE premier trade show for manufacturers of natural products like food, supplements, body care products, pet foods and supplies, and eco-friendly items for the home.

Aisle Busy

With 2428 exhibitors and a whopping 63,000 attendees, you can bet the aisles were crazy busy, making it all the more exciting for those attending to discover emerging trends, new products, and indulgent flavors of old favorites.

With wildly colorful displays and costume-festooned participants, there was never a dull moment for both attendees and vendors. I walked my feet off and loved every moment! It was such a exciting learning experience asking how some of our foods are made, where they come from, and how they’re creatively formed and assembled.

Over the next few days, I’ll be blogging about some of the nicest, nuttiest niche num nums I found. I know some terrific items will be left out because the 3-floor, 393,000 square-foot show-floor event is so large it would be impossible to see it all, in spite of spending two very full days traversing the aisles ’til our feet ached. (It was worth it, of course!)

Chestnut Chips made their world premiere debut at the Chestnut Growers, Inc. booth on the 3rd floor of the convention center. These delicious, crunchy snacks were probably the most unique product I encountered. While fresh Chestnut Chips 2chestnuts are only available from October through December, these neat little chips are a year-round, totally natural, and very tasty snack food. Also neat is that chestnuts are a really low-fat, gluten-free food. Here’s the process that turns fresh chestnuts into chestnut chips: Once the shells are removed, the chestnuts are thinly sliced by machine and oven dried at Michigan State University Rogers Reserve in Jackson, Michigan where the chips were developed. That’s it–nothing added and nothing removed except moisture.

At the WEBSITE visitors can order fresh, dried, and frozen chestnuts as well as pure chestnut flour that contains no pellicle, the dark brown inner skin that’s sometimes a bitch to peel. They also have nutritional information and a ton of recipes.

Posted in chestnuts, Nut Organizations, Nut Uses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

OPEN SESAME!–DIVA OF THE PATTY PAN

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on February 25, 2013

Like me, you’ve probably rediscovered an old favorite recipe that had somehow gotten lost and ended up at the bottom of a pile of papers you keep meaning to tackle. Well, actually, this little gem of a recipe didn’t end up in a pile because it’s one of the recipes in my cookbook, The Nut Gourmet. But it did kind of get lost between files in a hidden corner of my memory.

An upcoming visit from my friends Vesanto and Cam from Vancouver triggered my memory to bring up that file and I’m thrilled to share this flavor-filled recipe that’s never failed to get raves. I love recipes that can be prepared in advance and still taste great when you serve them a day or two later. This one’s a winner in every way.

The recipe is a unique take on a nut-filled patty that tastes great tucked into a pita, piled into a giant sandwich, enjoyed as an open-faced sandwich, or relished all by its delicious little self. You can even eat the patties cold, right from the fridge and find them perfectly flavorful.

Although the sesame seeds remain on the top and bottom of the patties, they successfully impart their definitive flavor that oozes sesame with each delicious bite. Versatility works great with this recipe–you can vary the nuts and vary the grain. It’s an excellent recipe to fall back on when you have 2 cups of leftover cooked grains. I like the patties with a little dollop Tofu Sour Cream, but you can shmear with any of your favorite toppings.

SESAME NUT PATTIES

Yield: Makes about 12 to 15 two-inch pattiessesame nut patties

1/2 cup hulled sesame seeds

1 cup walnuts
2/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup pistachios

1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon psyllium husks

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

2 cups cooked wild rice

1. Lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet or line it with parchment. Put the sesame seeds in a medium shallow bowl and set aside.

2. Grind the walnuts, cashews, and pistachios to a coarse meal in a food processor, and leave them in the processor.

3. Combine the water and psyllium husks in a small cup or bowl and stir well to moisten. Set aside for 1 minute to thicken, then add to the processor.

4. Add the soy sauce, chili powder, oregano, nutmeg, and thyme to the processor. Process briefly until all the ingredients are well combined.

5. Add the wild rice and pulse and process until it is well incorporated. If needed, add 1 to 3 tablespoons of water to moisten the mixture.

6. Form the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls, place them on the baking sheet, and flatten slightly with your hand. When all the patty mixture is formed, dip each of the patties into the sesame seeds, covering both sides. Place them back on the baking sheet.

7. Shortly before serving, place the baking sheet under a preheated broiler, about 3 inches from the heat source. Watching carefully, broil for about 1 to 3 minutes, or until the sesame seeds are golden. Turn the patties over with a spatula and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden. Serve with Tofu Sour Cream or your favorite sauce.

Posted in cashews, Main Dishes, pistachios, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NEW YEAR REFLECTIONS ON VEGAN CHRISTMAS IN A NUTTY WORLD!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 2, 2013

Well, 2013 has officially begun and I’ve been considering resolutions to help make this world a healthier, happier, and more peaceful place for humans and animals and a more sustainable one for our planet. Reflecting on the past year, I realized those ideals have been my steadfast focus. They’ve enriched my life with purpose and joy and have helped others who have stopped by to visit this cozy little vegan niche. So, I’ve settled in and look forward to another fulfilling year.

Now I’m feeling a bit sentimental and want to share a smidgeon of holiday nostalgia.

Vegan Christmas – two words that may not go together in every household, but in my home, it was an exceptional holiday with tender memories to cherish. Imagine all the warm and wonderful traditional winter holiday blessings, and, then, put them all together into one special day on December 25th. Bit by bit, I baked a few batches of sweet goodies, sent invitations to friends to join us for a holiday potluck, and readied the house for a comfy crowd. I knew it would be a happy occasion, but I never imagined it would be as cozy, delicious, and nostalgic as it turned out.

I think there was a little vegan magic whirling in the air that day. My sweet hubby built a fire in the fireplace and lovingly tended it all afternoon. Coming in from the cold, our guests immediately gravitated toward the warm and cozy living room as they shed their coats and scarves.

A boldly-spiced apple cider was mulling on the kitchen stovetop ready to offer warming comfort, while the entire house became infused with a rich medley of lively aromas. The gently simmering cider was happily sharing its generous gifts of cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and freshly grated nutmeg. Floating to the top of the cider were slices of lemon and orange contributing a subtle note of citrus. And, as if that were not enough, whole almonds and golden raisins, borrowed from my Happy New Year Glogg recipe, were also quite visible as one peered down into the large pot.

I loved seeing jolly faces stretch into big smiles as I passed the tray of apple cider. Into each of the small, glass punch cups I ladled the hot cider and included a few almonds and raisins in each glass. Within a couple of hours, that cider-filled, 12-quart stockpot was nearly empty.

When everyone’s potluck contribution was well warmed or perfectly chilled, we gathered around the table to fill our plates with a feast to boast about. There dishes too numerous to list. I will simply remember the tantalizing medley of savory, lemony, spicy, pungent, and sweet flavors that strolled across my taste buds.

Aside from making hot mulled apple cider, cookies, and confections, my contribution was an eye-appealing Tomato Pine Nut Pie with Sweet Potato and Nut Crust, a recipe from my new cookbook VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS. This is what the pie looks like:

Tomato Pine Nut Pie

The pie crust of crushed almonds, tofu, and yams makes this a unique dish and one that was enthusiastically received.

Because we were expecting about 20 people, I thought it would be best to triple the recipe and prepare it in a large rimmed baking sheet. It was the perfect amount and allowed for extra helpings.

Tomato Pine Nut Pie 1

This is what the dish looked like after it was ravished:

Tomato Nut Pie Leftovers

While assembling the pie, I realized this is not a dish that’s just for Christmas. It’s a charming recipe that can be enjoyed year round because the ingredients are readily available no matter what season. During summer, when green tomatoes are available at the farmstand, they can be substituted for ripe ones or intermixed, creating an appealing red and green theme.

This is one honey of a make-ahead dish, even up to two days ahead. To serve, remove the dish from the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature, and warm in a preheated 350-degree F. oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into serving pieces and enjoy.

TOMATO-PINE NUT PIE WITH SWEET POTATO AND NUT CRUST

Melt-in-the-mouth delicious and decked out for the festivities, this attractive Italian-inspired dish makes an ideal savory dinner pie with a unique crust.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie or 6 servings

Crust
12 ounces sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups whole almonds
2/3 cup mashed tofu
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Light oil a 9-inch pie pan.

2. To make the crust, put the sweet potatoes in a 2-quart saucepan with water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the sweet potatoes well, transfer them to a large bowl and mash them well. Set aside.

3. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground yet still retain a little texture. Add the tofu and salt and process until well incorporated, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the tofu mixture into the bowl with the sweet potatoes and mix well.

4. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to press it onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Build up the sides of the crust 1/2 -inch higher than the pie pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes and let cool.

Filling
2 green onions, sliced
1 to 2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 to 3 tablespoons Homemade Parmesan (recipe below) or prepared vegan Parmesan
2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 small eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch slices
4 to 5 large red or green tomatoes, seeded and sliced.

1. To make the filling, put the green onions, garlic, pine nuts, and Homemade Parmesan in individual bowls. Sprinkle the cornstarch on a plate.

2. Cover the bottom of the crust with one layer of eggplant slices. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy). Reserve remaining eggplant for another use. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and pepper.

3. Dredge one-third of the tomato slices in the cornstarch. Arrange the dredged tomato slices over the eggplant, filling all the spaces with small bits of tomato. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one third each of the green onions, garlic, pine nuts, and Homemade Parmesan over the tomatoes. Repeat the process to make three layers.

4. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Note: If using green tomatoes, the pie might have to hake another 15 minutes.

HOMEMADE PARMESAN
Often I’ve come to rely on a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan to add sparkle to a dish, soup, a casserole, or an appetizer. With only five ingredients, this recipe is almost instant to make and tastes enough like the real thing to put the Italian touch on everything from pizza to minestrone and a host of holiday or everyday dishes.

1 cup almonds
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground, yet still retain a bit of texture, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. (Avoid overprocessing or it will turn into almond butter.)

2. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, and garlic powder and pulse until well mixed. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Covered and refrigerated, Homemade Parmesan will keep for 3 months.

Posted in almonds, Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes, pine nuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,471 other followers

%d bloggers like this: