Natural Plant Based Food Coloring

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There are all kinds of reasons to avoid artificial colors in food. Some color dyes are made with petroleum, they have a history of being tested on animals, and some people are or can become highly allergic to certain color dyes, as well as some people believe they can cause a host of other health problems. I personally make some exceptions to my

I personally make some exceptions to my no artificial color rule as long as they are derived from vegan ingredients, but I’d prefer to use natural colorings in my fun food experiments rather than fake stuff. Especially if I may even be adding to the foods’ nutritional value.

So, I set about to make my own set of natural food colorings.

I’m not going to lie, the blue was the hardest to figure out and I’m still working on making it more vibrant. When I researched how to do it, I also found that the method I used does not retain it’s color if the food you put it in gets heated up. So, I’m not happy with that either. I think I might try to find a company that makes a good plant-based blue dye and use that. Or, I’ll just use green instead of blue if it’s acceptable in what I’m trying to do. I tried to find the blue (as opposed to blue-green) spirulina powder but the only place I found it online, it was $60 for a tiny bottle. No thanks.

Anyways, without further ado, here are my steps for making vibrant red, yellow, green (and a weaker purple and blue), homemade natural food coloring. The agar agar powder might be optional.  I added it in because I thought it would make it more gel-like and thicker. You could experiment with adding xantham gum, arrowroot, or cornstarch as well.

Plant-based natural food colors

Red

  • ½ cup hot water
  • ¼ tsp agar agar powder (optional, you could use cornstarch or arrowroot if you do not have it)
  • ¾ tsp beet powder

Yellow

  • ½ cup hot water
  • ¼ tsp agar agar powder (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric

Green

  • ½ cup hot water
  • ¼ tsp agar agar powder (optional)
  • ½ tsp spirulina powder

Directions:

  1. Mix each color in a small glass jar.
  2. Shake well before using.
  3. Keep refrigerated until needed.

The purple and blue follow a different method:

Blue and Purple

  • 1 small head of red (purple) cabbage, chopped roughly
  • Enough water to cover the cabbage in a saucepan
  • ½ tsp Agar agar powder (recommended in this case, but you can get around it perhaps if you boil the water after you’ve taken out the cabbage longer), divided
  • ⅛-½ tsp Baking soda (as needed, for blue color only!)

Directions:

  1. To make the purple and blue coloring, you will need to boil the cabbage for 20 minutes (time after the water begins to boil, not just how long it’s on the stove for)
  2. After boiling, separate the boiled cabbage and strain the water into a bowl.
  3. Place the vibrant purple water back into the pot you boiled it in, and boil for 15-30 minutes until slightly reduced.
  4. Place ½ cup of purple water with ¼ tsp agar agar in your small glass container. Set aside and keep in the fridge until needed.
  5. Place another ½ cup of the purple water into a larger glass jar. Add the rest of agar agar (¼ tsp)
  6. Allow to cool fully.
  7. Slowly begin mixing in baking soda, ⅛ tsp at a time, stir, and continue until the water turns blue. If you’re having trouble determining if it’s blue or not, keep going until you know for sure. You can also test it out in some nondairy milk to see if it’s the correct color. If it begins to turn green, you know you’ve added too much baking soda. Also, try not to add more than a ½ tsp because it will taste rather foul. Keep chilled in the fridge until needed. Do not use if you are coloring something that will be baked or heated as the blue will not retain its color. Works well for frosting and such.

    IMG_3695Here is a picture of some cookie dough I colored using red, purple, yellow, and green dye I made.

 

Hi! A recipe for the best vegan mashed potatoes ever and some soy curls.

Okay, so I’ve been meaning to make mashed potatoes out of cashew cream, and finally did. The results are amazing. I need to share it with you, alongside an air fryer soy curl recipe. Put these two with some green veggies and maybe some cornbread if you want, and you have a whole meal!

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Mashed potato recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 large potatoes of choice, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews, either soaked in water overnight or boiled with water covering them for 15 minutes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp dried or fresh chives
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil the cashews if necessary. Allow to cool.
  2. Boil the potatoes in a pot of water (just enough to cover them). I start a timer once the water boils for 15 minutes, and they’re almost always ready for me after that. If you’re not sure, test to make sure a fork can smoothly go into them before you stop boiling them.
  3. Blend the cashews, water, and salt in a blender while the potatoes are cooking. Set aside. You want the cream to be smooth, not chunky, so make sure you blend for long enough to achieve this. I do think it works better when you boil the cashews as opposed to soaking them.
  4. When the potatoes are cooked, drain the water.
  5. Place back in the pan. Mash together with the vegan margarine and cashew cream.
  6. Fold in the nutritional yeast, chives, and salt and pepper as desired.

Enjoy the delicious creaminess. They taste even better when you reheat them the next day.

For the air fried soy curls, here is what I did:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups soy curls soaked in water with vegan chickun broth or veggie broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or gluten free tamari, added to the soaking broth
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke, also added to the soaking broth
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup gluten free Bisquick mix
  • Seasoning as desired, I sprinkled some cajun seasoning on top before placing them in the air fryer

Directions:

  1. Soak the soy curls for 15 minutes.
  2. Drain (but don’t rinse!)
  3. Coat the soy curls in the oil, then sprinkle on the Bisquick mix.
  4. Stir around a bit until the soy curls are completely coated.
  5. Place in the air fryer for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F.
  6. Enjoy along side the mashed potatoes with your favorite dipping sauces.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful February so far!

Vegan MoFo 2014: Day 6! Jackfruit Chick’un Noodle Crockpot Soup!

Saturdays are Soup, Salad, and Sandwich days! Here’s the first entry for a soup recipe!

This soup is the perfect sick day soup. The jackfruit shreds in the soup just like I vaguely remember the real deal to be like. You can add vegan oyster crackers and some nutritional yeast flakes into the soup like I did if you wish. It’s made in the crockpot to make it less time consuming and easier. It takes 6-7 hours to finish, so make sure you time it appropriately.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can young green jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed, chopped slightly
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 10 baby carrots cut into thirds
  • 1 large onion cut into rings
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary crushed between fingers
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 5-6 sprigs worth of leaves from fresh thyme
  • 1/2 lb noodles of choice (I used spiral noodles)
  • Vegan oyster crackers or saltines (as a side or to stir into the soup)
  • Nutritional yeast (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place jackfruit, celery, carrots, and onions in bottom of crockpot.
  2. Pour olive oil on top and stir.
  3. Add all the spices and herbs except for the thyme and mix with a spoon to coat the veggies.
  4. Add broth and water.
  5. Add thyme leaves and give it a good stir.
  6. Turn the crockpot to low and simmer for 6-7 hours. Go about your business until then.
  7. When your soup is pretty much all ready, add the noodles and turn the crockpot to high heat, let it cook for about 10-15 minutes until the noodles are tender.
  8. Turn the crockpot off, taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
  9. Serve the soup in big soup bowls with saltines or oyster crackers, with some nutritional yeast sprinkled on top if desired.
  10. You can easily freeze this in a big container for when you get sick or want it in the dead of winter but don’t feel like cooking…just defrost and reboil or even place back into the crockpot until it’s boiling on high…

Enjoy! Hope everyone’s Vegan MoFo 2014 is going well! Thank you for commenting and being so kind. I try to look at other people’s blogs who are participating but I just started going to school full time and so I don’t have the most time to do that/remember. But I hope to be able to keep discovering more blogs that I like when I do have time! 

Vegan New England Style “Lobstah” salad made from hearts of palm and 7 days of new smoothie recipes to share!

Hello everybody, 

I did this thing this past week that I was going to blog about. Unfortunately I got a new laptop and when I transferred all the pictures I had  from my phone to my laptop, (including the ones I needed to make the blog entry) some of them got lost in the shuffle. I tried a new smoothie recipe every day of the week, and wanted to talk about them. Instead, lacking pictures, I will post the links to the recipes I used at the end of this entry.

I do however have a picture for the recipe I am about to share!

Growing up in the New England area of the East Coast United States, lobster salads have always been a thing. They’re also usually kind of a big treat. Today I was inspired by that, and wanted to make a vegan version. This is truly “lobstah” as Bostonians and Rhode Islanders would say, but is free from any cruelty towards the real sea creatures.

I used hearts of palm as the main “meat,” and some sun-dried tomatoes as well to give color, flavor, and texture. There is a mix of seafood-y spices, lemon juice, and other seasonings, and the mix of vegenaise and vegan sour cream makes a delightfully creamy dressing for it.

New England Vegan Hearts of Palm “Lobstah” Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cans salad chopped hearts of palm, drained, placed in a food processor and pulsed a few times to further chop them
  • 1/2 cup julienned cut sun dried tomatoes (the kind that comes in a bag, not packed in oil. I’d actually recommend soaking these in warm water for an hour or until a bit softer prior to including them in the salad because I didn’t and some were chewier and a bit tough when I ate them…soaking would solve that problem, but is probably optional)
  • 1 tsp kelp granules
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1/4 tsp old bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (use less if placing on top of greens instead of on bread)
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup vegenaise
  • 1/2 cup vegan sour cream (I used tofutti)

Directions:

  1. Place chopped, drained, and processed hearts of palm in a mixing bowl or other large container.
  2. Add sun-dried tomatoes and stir.
  3. Add spices and take a spoon to mix them into the chopped hearts of palm and sun-dried tomatoes. Make sure they are evenly coated.
  4. Add lemon juice, vegenaise, and sour cream and stir. 
  5. Serve in a bun with some crunchy lettuce, or on top of salad greens with whatever other toppings you desire.
  6. Enjoy!

 

So there is that! Now as promised, here is the list and links to the smoothies I made each day last week:

  1. Raspberry Lime Zinger from Oh She Glows *Second place in my favorites!
  2. Pumpkin Chai from The Sweet Life
  3. Key Lime Pie Green Smoothie from Healthful Pursuit
  4. Pina Colada Smoothie from Foodie with Family
  5. Orange Creamsicle Smoothie (also from The Sweet Life) *My favorite one I tried!
  6. Chocolate Strawberry Almond Protein Smoothie from The Healthy Family and Home
  7. Chamomile Strawberry Quinoa Smoothie from Apron and Sneakers *Runner up for favorite 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Foodie (Photo) Friday, Thanksgiving Edition!

I’m still kind of super tired, I guess my cold is not totally gone and it’s upsetting to me a bit.

So I apologize, but I’m going to try to get through posting this fairly quickly so I can go to bed early, haha.

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This was one of my better Vegan Thanksgivings though. I ended up making a Tofurky roast feast in the crockpot with this recipe. I also cooked up the gravy that came with it. My grandmother brought some jarred pearl onions and we cooked them with some pepper, paprika and earth balance. I don’t know why, but I always liked that, it’s simple and really good. Probably the most elaborate thing I made, besides the pumpkin pie I ended up making, was the green bean casserole. It was well worth it though, it was quite tasty. Actually, I had been worried about it because I thought it might taste too parsnip-y, but it balanced really well. I only put 1/2 tsp salt in it total, though, and it was fine. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp! No way. I’ll definitely be making it next year, though (well, if I decide to make a green bean casserole…and other factors…heh).

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Additionally, I made potato latkes for Thanksgivukkah. I also made Baba Ganoush for an appetizer. I don’t think I can link the recipe to it though, I found the recipe that I had printed out awhile ago and have no idea where I got it from now. But it’s quite tasty. You roast 2 eggplants with some garlic (you put the garlic on it halfway through cooking the eggplants). Then you use the roasted garlic, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, olive oil, salt, etc and make a paste in a food processor, then add the eggplant and combine.

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I know I had said I was making pumpkin pie graham cracker squares for dessert, but I ended up getting the Eat To Live Cookbook I had ordered and they had a fantastic sounding pumpkin pie that I decided to make instead. So I did. It’s sugar and flour free, which is awesome. It’s sweetened with dates instead. Aside from the fact that the crust is made from almonds, I couldn’t tell any other aspect was done differently than the traditional recipe. It was soooo good and I liked the cashew cream to put on top but I should have made a little less since I ended up giving a lot of the pie away without it so that I wouldn’t end up eating the whole thing myself (my family is not big on pumpkin desserts for some reason, but I am…)

My meals leading up to Thanksgiving basically just consisted of two things:

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Pumpkin Echiladas from the Vegan Stoner Cookbook, and Green Bean Casserole Pizza from Bake and Destroy.

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I hope you all had a very Happy Thanksgiving, or Thanksgivukkah (Hanukkah…although it’s still happening…) if that’s your thing too. I was very glad to have a cruelty free and vegan Thanksgiving for myself once again, so I’m going to leave you this picture of me in my majestic Compassion Company Thanskgiving t-shirt.

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