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.

 

Gluten Free Green Smoothie Waffles!

Hello, I’m sorry I’ve been fairly inactive lately. I’ve been focusing on graduate school and another blog of mine, streamoflaura.net, as well as dreaming up a concept for a youtube channel! I’ll try my best to keep you posted on all of that.

Here’s a new recipe I recently created though! There are plenty of green smoothie pancakes (although I haven’t found a good gluten free one yet), but as far as I could tell, no green waffle recipes! So, I made it!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups non dairy milk of choice
  • 1 banana
  • 1 serving of vegan vanilla protein powder (I used Aloha)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup sweet white rice flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat waffle iron accordingly.
  2. Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. You may need to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula several times to ensure everything mixes properly.
  3. Spray iron, and scoop or pour out about 1/4 of the batter. Cook in your waffle making appliance according to directions, waffle irons vary.
  4. Makes about four waffles.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Italian Rainbow Cookies Veganized

During Christmas, I had this bad habit of being at the grocery store and looking at the ingredients of the Italian Christmas cookies hoping some of them would be vegan. Not a chance. I’ve been craving these all season.

After Christmas, I looked up some recipes for this type of cookie. I wasn’t sure what they would actually be called, but it was easy enough to find. I found this recipe, which I knew I could veganize with the magic vegan ingredient, aquafaba.

I was so worried I’d really mess up making these a lot earlier on. The parts I thought would fail were not as difficult as I thought. The hardest part was cutting it after I put the chocolate on top, which ended up crumbling a bit and making it not as pretty as I would have liked. The recipe makes it sound much more complicated and some of the steps are needlessly complicated, so I’m re-writing the recipe in the way I did it with the vegan substitutions.

This recipe also required making vegan almond paste (with aquafaba as well!)

That is the first step to making these babies.

Vegan Aquafaba Almond Paste

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups blanched almonds
  • 1.5 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea water/brine from a can)
  • 1.5 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, blend the almonds until smooth and pasty.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, aquafaba, extract, and salt.
  3. Process again until smooth and dough-like (it should form into a big ball).
  4. You may need to scrape the sides down frequently throughout the process.
  5. When finished, set aside 3/4 cup for your Italian Rainbow cookies. You can save the leftovers, it’s super yummy!

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Veganized Italian Rainbow Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks plus 4 tablespoons Earth Balance sticks
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup almond paste (recipe above)
  • 3/4 cup vegan sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • 12 tablespoons aquafaba
  • 2 tablespoons vegan sugar
  • food coloring method of choice (red and green)
  • 15 oz Apricot Jam (not the kind with clumpy pieces in it, you want it to be smooth)
  • 10 oz vegan chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place parchment paper on three jelly roll pans or rimmed cookie sheets and spray parchment with cooking oil.
  3. In a stand mixer bowl, place the almond paste and 3/4 cup with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix on the medium speed setting until crumbly.
  4. Cut the Earth Balance into small pieces and place into the the mixture while beating together until all the Earth Balance is in there and the batter is smooth.
  5. Sift 2 cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Add into the mixer slowly and continue to mix until combined. Do not over mix.
  6. In a large metal bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, place the 12 tablespoons of aquafaba. Whip until foamy. Slowly add in the 2 tablespoons of sugar while continuing to whip on the highest setting. Stop when you have created firm peaks (if you take out the whisks from the meringue, and place them upside down, it will not drip down).
  7. Add 1/3 of the meringue into the batter and fold in with a rubber spatula. Add the rest of the meringue and mix until fully incorporated.
  8. Place the batter evenly into 3 bowls. 1 bowl keep plain, and then add green and red to the other two bowls.
  9. Transfer the batters onto their respective cookie sheets one at a time with a wet rubber spatula . My sheets were too big to be able to spread out the batter entirely, so I tried my best to make the most even shaped rectangles on each cookie sheet so they’d match up when layered together after baking.  Don’t worry too much about it, you’ll cut the edges so they’re prettier when it’s all assembled anyhow. Just worry about making relatively even thickness rectangles for now.
  10. Bake for 4 minutes, rotate the pans around in the oven so that one pan is not on the bottom rack the whole time, and bake for another 4-6 minutes until the edges are slightly browned.
  11. Allow to cool completely.
  12. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam on top of the red layer.
  13. Cut any excess parchment paper from around the white layer. Holding the bottom of the cookie with both hands, carefully line up and flip the white layer onto the red.
  14. Spread another layer of jam. Repeat step 13 with the green layer, but do not place anymore jam on top.
  15. Cover with plastic wrap. Place a clean cookie sheet on top to press down the layers. Place something heavy and even (like two cans on either side) on top of that, and place into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
  16. Take off the cans, cookie sheet, and plastic wrap. With a sharp knife, trim the uneven sides into a clean rectangle shape. Let sit for a moment or a few.
  17. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave.
  18. Spread over the top layer and sides with a spatula.
  19. Allow to set, and then cut into smalls squares.
  20. Place in a container and store in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Enjoy! I know I certainly will!

 

 

Jackfruit Sloppy Joe Recipe, slop slop sloppy joes!

Before I get to the recipe I have a funny story to share.

First of all, I don’t think my mother would have ever made sloppy joe’s for my brother and I to eat if it weren’t for my dad’s apparent love for musical comedy CDs.

My dad is famous in our family for several things. For awhile, it was always needing the newest technology to play music or movies with. He had cd players in his cars pretty early on. The other thing he was famous, but still continues to this day, is the sick joy he gets out of torturing his family with the way he listens to music when we are in the car with him. He will make a point to have a bunch of music queued up, and will play the first 30 seconds of each song, until he finds the most annoying song he has, and then listens to that one in its entirety.

Anyways, some time during my childhood, there was the song that all I remember from it was the chorus of “Sloppy Joe, slop sloppy Joe, yeah.” Except, until now, I had somehow thought that this song was either a Meatloaf song or some other classic rock group’s song (as those are probably my Dad’s other favorite types of Musicians). I don’t even know why, it’s obvious that this song was not meant to be serious. After researching for more details of the “Sloppy Joe song slop sloppy joe” (yes that’s what I googled) it was on an Adam Sandler CD. Apparently I was only 9 at the time when this song came out, and I don’t remember any of the other songs on this album. Up until now I hadn’t even realized it was an Adam Sandler song, even though I know all of the lyrics to the Chanukkah songs by heart.

So, as I realized that there did not yet exist a vegan sloppy joe recipe that’s main ingredient was jackfruit, this song popped back into my head and I made it up. The jackfruit ends up complementing the other flavors very well, because jackfruit is a bit tangy, and with the seasonings and sauce almost makes it taste like there are pickles in the recipe. To me it tastes kind of like a fake cheeseburger with no burger or cheese.

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Jackfruit Sloppy Joe Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans jackfruit, drained and rinsed, chopped in a food processor
  • 1 1/2 cups Heinz Chili Sauce or ketchup
  • 1/4 cup organic brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp turmeric (I’ve been reading all these articles lately about the benefits of turmeric lately, so I try to put it into my recipes as much as I can)
  • 1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce or vegan steak sauce
  • Vegenaise as needed
  • Vegan Kaiser rolls sliced in half

Directions:

  1. Heat oil on medium heat in a large frying pan with cover.
  2. Add in the onions, allow to cook until translucent.
  3. Add in the pepper and garlic and cook until the pepper turns bright green and then softens.
  4. Stir in the jackfruit and allow to cook for a few minutes. Stir for a bit, place the cover on top for a minute or two, and then take off the cover and stir a bit more.
  5. When the jackfruit has heated, reduce the heat to low and add the chili sauce, sugar, seasonings, and worcestershire sauce and stir until combined.
  6. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  7. Spread Vegenaise onto the bun and put a generous amount of the sloppy joe mixture onto the bun.
  8. Try not to make too much of a mess of yourself while eating it.

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Vegan Mofo 2014: Thirsty Thursday: Chicory Gingerbread Pumpkin Green Smoothie

First of all, my blog’s graphics got revamped! I love it. Thank you to my brother Chad Kaplan for that! You can check out more of his work on his facebook page. And here’s one of my favorite pieces that he did last year for Thanksgiving. That turkey is really getting some revenge:

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It’s another edition of Vegan MoFo 2014, and in my theme today is Thirsty Thursday! I have prepared a Chicory Gingerbread Pumpkin Green Smoothie recipe.

When I gave up coffee for the first time awhile ago, my boyfriend bought me some instant chicory from France. If you are unfamiliar with this ingredient, chicory is a coffee substitute (from a plant) without caffeine that tastes somewhat like coffee, among other things. It is believed to be able to help people fight intestinal parasites. Thankfully, I do not believe I have any of those. It’s just a good tasting drink that sort of tastes like coffee but to me has a sort of gingerbread flavor to it too.

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This smoothie was great for me because I used blackstrap molasses in it, which contains a high amount of dietary iron. I tend to lose a lot of iron when it’s that time of the month, so it can be really good for women to use as a sweetener or in other recipes where it’ll taste good. However, the full tablespoon ended up making it taste a little weird to me. I’d recommend depending on your needs that you put less molasses into it unless you’re not like me and really love the taste of molasses.

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Chicory Gingerbread Pumpkin Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp instant chicory
  • 1 tsp-1 tbsp (depending on preference, see above description) blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 pinches allspice
  • 2 pinches ground nutmeg
  • 2 pinches ground cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp flaxmeal
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • scoop or two protein powder
  • greens

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Vegan Mofo 2014: Too Good Baked Good Tuesday: Raspberry Lime Rickey Cupcakes!

Hello,

Today is the day I bring you the recipe that some of my friends from RIVA (Rhode Island Vegan Awareness) have been patiently waiting for almost a month since the vegan Summer picnic in which I originally brought them to. raspberrylimecupcakes

These have, in my opinion, the best tasting frosting ever! My mom who apparently finished all the leftovers of the frosting last night when I made them again yesterday from my class would agree.

Raspberry Lime Rickey Cupcake Recipe:

Makes 14 Jumbo cupcakes (use jumbo liners and fill them 2/3-3/4 full….)

or 24 regular size cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:

  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted not solid
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups unflavored (plain) almond milk
  • 2 limes worth of zest
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ~1/4 cup raspberries, preferably somewhat mushy when you use them

Ingredients for frosting:

  • 1/2 cup earth balance
  • 1/2 cup organic non hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups organic powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup raspberry lime rickey syrup (link here)

Directions for cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place jumbo liners (if using) into a muffin pan…it says you can place them onto a cookie sheet but I’m doubtful. Maybe try that if you have enough batter to make a few more cupcakes though. I just put 2 extra liners into a muffin pan that has 6 slots.
  3. Mix the melted coconut oil and sugar together in a stand mixer. Make sure you’ve already grated the lime zest and juiced the limes for the next step because the coconut will solidify more if you stop to do that after this step.
  4. Add the almond milk, lime zest, lime juice, and vanilla and mix on a low setting until combined.
  5. Add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and mix until a batter forms. You will want to scrape down the sides of the bowl really good with a spatula, and then mix a bit more.
  6. Fold in the raspberries and mix until the raspberries combine and are no longer whole.
  7. Place about 1/3 cup into each jumbo cupcake liner, or until 2/3-3/4 of the way full. For regular size cupcakes, you will have about 2 1/4 tbsp to put in each cupcake liner.
  8. Bake for about 23-25 minutes for the jumbo cupcakes, mine were good at 24. If using regular sized cupcake liners, bake for about 20 minutes.
  9. They will be an interesting green color when done, which I thought was cool and I hadn’t actually anticipated that effect!

Directions for the frosting (beware, this frosting is seriously one of the most amazing things I’ve invented, I believe…)

  1. Cream together the Earth Balance and shortening in the mixer.
  2. Slowly add the powdered sugar, mix until large clumps form.
  3. Add the raspberry lime syrup and mix until fluffy.
  4. It becomes the most beautiful light pink color! And its flavor is totally amazing!!
  5. Frost the cupcakes after they have completely cooled, and add garnishes like a lime wedge or a raspberry on top!

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Vegan MoFo day 4! Thirsty Thursdays–Cranberry Orange Dream Smoothie

HAPPY 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY (or thereabouts!) to my BLOG!

I am so excited to be participating in Vegan MoFo 2014 as a celebration. I have come along way since starting this blog. From being so afraid to make up my own recipes (literally shaking while my first real recipe was in the oven!) My recipes at first did not usually come out all that impressively. But now I’m excited to be having some really delicious things happen, and recipes becoming the biggest focus of my blog. Since I’ve tested a lot of the recipes I created for Vegan MoFo already, I know you are all in for a big treat!! I can’t wait to see what this next year of blogging brings!

Cranberry Orange Dream Smoothie

So Fall is just around the corner and I wanted to make a new smoothie that features a famous Fall ingredient aside from pumpkin—cranberry sauce! The cranberries do not overpower this smoothie and are not the most prominent flavor. Overall though, they make the smoothie sweeter and give a unique, comforting taste. The flax gives it some Omega 3 vitamins, something I’ve been trying to incorporate into my cooking more but haven’t been able to find many ways yet besides smoothies.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup plain flavored almond milk or water
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup baby spinach or other greens
  • 1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp flax meal
  • 1 scoop plain or vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tbsp agave or liquid stevia to taste

Directions:

Blend and drink.

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VeganMoFo.com

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! Aloha salad, holiday pie, green smoothies, galore!

Hello!

I was sick this week with a pretty exhausting cold. I’m feeling much better now, though. Since my exhaustion and my lung congestion made it difficult for me to work out, I decided I was going to try and eat much better than usual and eat more fruits and veggies than normally (even though on average I get at least 10 servings a day or so) and so I finally gave in and tried some green smoothies. I think I’m going to be better about eating more fruits and veggies (Including green smoothies) from now on even though I’m not sick, because… duh. I also ate a lot of Amy’s No Chicken Noodle soup, which was awesome.

The first one was a banana-less kale based “Green monster” one here

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I had to add a lot of extra water because it came out way too thick. Also, I gagged several times still, and it sort of tasted like a salad dressing or something to me, oops. But I thought it was decent at first, since I had never had one before, that is, until I tried the Caramel Apple Green Smoothie from the recipes here. That one is by far much tastier. I used almond butter instead of sunbutter though. I don’t have a picture of that one, though.

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Next was the Holiday Pie from The Vegan Stoner Cookbook. It’s basically tofu and non dairy milk blended together, mushrooms and garlic cooked in soy sauce, prepared stuffing, and I decided to use the optional tofu hot dogs on top. I also dipped it in cranberry sauce. It was quite delicious.

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I rate this recipe 4 good bananas, one bad! (It just didn’t have the total wow! factor of 5 good ones, but I like it)

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Then there is this salad I made tonight!

Aloha Salad with Tiki Tempeh.

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So good, and made me think of fond memories from the Summer. I didn’t think bananas would be so tasty and add such a great texture contrast to this but it was definitely the best part for sure! Everything tastes so good, though! I also majorly splurged on a small amount of macadamia nuts which are so yummy, and added reduced fat dried coconut. The dressing is creamy and super tasty, the tempeh has great flavor, and all the fruits along with the spinach and cole slaw mix are wonderful together.

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I’m hoping this upcoming week I’ll have time to write some more fun entries besides just on Friday, but we’ll see what my life has in store from me. Until then take care and eat yummy foods!