soy-free

Soy-Free Vegan Raw Cheesecake

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raw cheesecake

No-fuss elegant delectable desserts are my favorite to make – no-bake desserts specifically. It’s not just because I am lazy or pressed for time (even though I frequently finding myself in these circumstances; I blame the heat). I may have used this proverbial quote before but I will reiterate it again: If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.  In my case, I can’t stand the heat but won’t let it chase me out of the kitchen. With this soy-free vegan raw cheesecake that I recently made, I remained in my kitchen without the heat.

I’ve had my fair share of raw desserts before and even made some myself. Raw cheesecake was a novelty to me, especially a soy-free version. Many people I know are not particularly fans of soy oriented dishes and desserts so I wanted to share a dessert idea that both vegans and non-vegans can compromise on and mutually enjoy. Unless you have a nut allergy, you will appreciate this raw cheesecake recipe regardless of your dietary orientation. I,  for one,  love nuts. That is why I was devastated upon recently discovering my allergies for chestnuts and pine nuts. I pray hope that more onset nut allergies won’t follow. Thankfully, I can still eat cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts – ingredients I used in this no-bake raw cheesecake recipe.

When I served this raw cheesecake to guests, they had a hard time believing that I used nuts instead of Tofutti cream cheese. I like using cashews and macadamia nuts in my desserts primarily because they are versatile, creamy, and lovely tasting. I very seldom use macadamia nuts because they are very expensive so I alternatively used almonds instead which gave this raw cheesecake a ricotta cheesecake texture. With this raw cheesecake, it’s almost like biting into a slice of a New York style cheesecake minus the high fat content from the cream cheese and sour cream. Even a small slice is extremely satisfying and will give you a comfortable feeling of fullness without weighing your stomach down. You can enjoy a dessert that is equally exquisite, rich and gourmet without tacking on the extra calories. If you enjoyed my nut cream recipe, you will rave over this raw cheesecake recipe.  Hassle-free and easy to make, this soy-free, no-bake vegan raw cheesecake is perfect for beginners consisting of only 6 ingredients excluding the pie crust! This recipe is practically fool-proof. In fact, I will be very impressed if you manage to screw this recipe up.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. Prepared pie crust
  2. 2 1/2 – 3 cups of cashews, macadamia, or blanched almonds
  3. 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 cup of pure mayple syrup, agave nectar or honey
  5. 1/2 cup of coconut butter melted
  6. Juice and zest  from 1 lemon
  7. 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  8. 1/4 cup of water plus more for soaking nuts

Instructions

Cover nuts in a bowl and let it soak for 8-12 hours or overnight. Drain. Combine all the ingredients for the cheese filling a food processor or blender and process for 6 minutes or until completely smooth. Pour contents into prepared pie crust then cover and freeze till ready to use. Remove cheescake from freezer 5 minutes before serving. Store in freezer up till 2 weeks.

Yields 8 servings

 

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Nutty Vegan Brownie Delux

Posted on

2014-03-20 12.45.04

Although I am not a vegan nor anywhere close to embracing veganism, I have recently developed an appreciation towards vegan treats (mainly soy-free). I have been cutting back on my consumption of eggs due to the latest health scare. They are also easier to make and the ingredients are more accessible. Vegan or not, I am always open to a healthier and less caloric alternative. This isn’t your regular brownie recipe. Well, most vegan brownie recipes are not usually ordinary. I’ve seen vegan brownie recipes with kale, squash, etc. I’ve seen people use black beans for a gluten-free option. I contemplated this idea but since I’ve been using black beans as baking marbles on numerous occasions, I felt it was best to freeze the idea for the time being.If you have a gluten allergy or intolerance of some kind, the black bean option is at your disposal.  Although these are not gourmet brownies, the flavor and gooey texture is just as such. I almost neglected to mention that not only are these brownies soy-free but they are sugar-free as well.

Having your cake and eating it too is not a phrase I throw around lightly. Growing up using a regular brownie recipe, I have become accustomed to  dense, fudgy and soft brownies; not light, cakey and dry. Then why is emulating a traditional brownie recipe that simply consists of a few simple ingredients so difficult? It’s mainly due to the egg, which emulsifies, binds, slightly leavens then bakes up as part of the actual base of the brownie itself. Emulating this takes an expedition deep into the innards of brownie science.  It took me a number years of practice coupled with some failures to successfully perfect the brownie.  This vegan brownie recipe was a cinch to make. I used peanut butter, flaxseed meal with water,  almond spread, honey, vanilla extract, salt, spelt flour, apple cider vinegar,  and carob powder. I didn’t use these ingredients in that particular order but you get my point.

The process consists of  a luxurious batter that comes together in the bowl of your food processor. That’s right. No hand labor is required for this recipe.  Just dump and whirl. Let your food processor do all the hard work for you. It’s as easy as it gets. However, I strongly suggest that you don’t over mix your batter or you will get tough brownies; not the gooey dense texture that we all love. These indulgent, fudgy  vegan nutty brownies with a rich peanut butter flavor guarantee satisfaction. They are just pure, healthy decadence at its finest. They can be gourmet brownies without the excess amount of sugar, oil, butter, and eggs. Healthy treats are just as enjoyable and each bite of the brownies say a mouthful.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1  3/4 cup of spelt flour or oat flour (you can use the same amount of rinsed and drained canned black beans for a gluten-free option).
  2. 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal resting in 5 tablespoons of water
  3. 1/3 cup of carob powder (you can use unsweetened cocoa powder instead)
  4. 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  5. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  6. 1/2 cup of pure honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
  7. 1/2 cup of unsalted natural peanut butter
  8. 2 tablespoons of almond butter (you can use other nut butters of your choice)
  9. 1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar
  10. 200 grams of dairy-free bittersweet chocolate squares broken into bits

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F . Lightly grease an 8×8 baking pan. Once the flaxseed meal has rested for 5 minutes, place all ingredients except for chocolate chunks in a food processor. Pulse for a few minutes. Scrape down sides as needed. If the batter is too thick, slowly drizzle in some water. Fold in chocolate chunks. Transfer mixture to a baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven or until the top is no longer shiny. Let  the brownies cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

Yields 16 brownie squares

 

Soy Free Vegan Cheesecake

Posted on

2014-03-06 12.41.16

A lot of vegan desserts, especially vegan cheesecakes are laden with soy. I generally don’t have an issue with that but sometimes I do a appreciate a soy-free option every now and then. So can a lot of people in my family. I made this cheesecake once before with my mother who got the recipe off of a magazine. It has been buried for years which I didn’t understand why since everyone seemed to enjoy it. Only in recent times have I decided to revive this recipe with my own twist. I only remember pineapples being the main ingredient in this dessert.  It also had some eggs but I wanted to experiment without them. I made this dessert for a friend who recently gave birth. No one couldn’t believe that this cake lacked cream cheese, let alone soy cream cheese. The texture and the flavor are very similar. The only difference I can think of is that this version has lower fat content due to the crushed pineapples.

If you want to knock the fat content and sugar content further down, leave out the pie crust. Not only will you have a dessert that is soy-free, and sugar free, but you will have a gluten-free cheesecake as well. That is your option to use if you choose to. If you want a pie crust and a gluten free dessert, create your very own gluten-free pie crust. I always say less is more and minimizing the sugar can have a great impact on the cake. Plus you have enough sweetness derived from the pineapples.  I highly recommend you use fresh pineapple for this soy-free dessert recipe because the flavors are more natural and taste better. You can use canned crushed pineapples if you can’t find fresh pineapple. I nearly neglected to mention that I include a red berry sauce recipe as a topping for this cheesecake. If regular cheesecakes have them, then why can’t this one have any?

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 9 inch prepared graham cracker pie crust or greased 9 inch spring form round pan
  2. 3 cups of fresh pineapple chunks or 28 once can of crushed pineapples
  3. 1 cup of plain almond or rice milk
  4. 1/3 cup of cornstarch
  5. 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  6. 2 packets of stevia
  7. Scant 1/8 teaspoon of salt

For the red berry sauce, you will need:

  1. 2 cups of chopped strawberries or raspberries
  2. 1 cup of water
  3. 1 packet of stevia
  4. 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  5. 1 tablespoon of lemon or orange juice

Instructions 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend till completely smooth. Pour into prepared pie crust or spring form pan.  Bake for 45 minutes. While the cake is baking, place berries and water in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add the remaining ingredients.  Taste and adjust sweetness as desired. Mash the berries and heat until bubbly. Pour red berry sauce over cake and bake for another 15 minutes. Turn oven off and leave cake in there for an hour. Remove cake from oven and let it come to room temperature. Cover and chill cake before serving.

Yields 8 servings

 

Banana Berry Nut Smoothie

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2013-08-08 07.37.21I have been having an uncontrollable hankering for smoothies. I have also been looking for ways to diminish my consumption of coffee. As much as I love drinking a hot cup of Joe every morning, I curse the day I’ve became hopelessly addicted to coffee among other heavily caffeinated drinks. I have been searching for alternatives and found ways to curb my addictions in the most healthy and effective way. Smoothies usually do it for me. Aside for their rich and naturally fruity flavors, smoothies contain a lot of nutrients thus reducing the guilt factor. Every now and then, I would throw some yogurt and fruit in the blender and whip up a smoothie for myself since I am the only smoothie drinker in my family. I decided to try a non-dairy and soy-free version using ripe bananas, mixed berries, nut butter, nuts, and ice. You can use flax seeds and chia seeds as well if you like. You don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to the ingredient I used for this vegan smoothie recipe. You can use peaches, nectarines, pears and other tropical fruit if you don’t like berries. Healthy smoothies are satisfying and can keep you energized until lunchtime. This banana mixed berry nut smoothie is by far one of the best soy-free and non-dairy smoothies I’ve ever tasted. You can count on me making these breakfast drinks more often. I just hope I don’t wear out the moter in my blender when doing so. While I am not ready to permanently put away my coffee maker, smoothies may be my latest morning addiction.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 cups of mixed fresh or frozen berries
  2. 2 large ripe bananas
  3. 1 ripe avocado
  4. 1 large orange juice
  5. 1 tablespoon of nut butter of your choice
  6. Handful of nuts of your choice
  7. 1 cup of water, ice combo, or almond/coconut milk
  8. Flax seeds or chia seeds (optional)

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Serve cold.

Yields 2-4 servings

Macadamia Cream Cheese

Posted on

2013-08-02 09.05.20

I’ve heard of soy cream cheese but cream cheese made of nuts is a recent revelation to me. The concept behind it was intriguing enough for me to want to try to make my own. Plus I am always looking for non-dairy soy-free alternatives and macadamia cream cheese was the solution for me. Although made from macadamia nuts, this spread surprisingly has the texture and consistency to that as regular cream cheese. I saw many variations how to make macadamia cream cheese. Some recipes require probiotic powder while other recipes may ask you to soak the nuts at least 4 hours in advance. Some people like to add fresh chopped herbs, especially chives for a finishing touch as they would on dairy cream cheese. I prefer mine natural. While macadamia nuts are the highlight of this recipe, you can use cashew nuts as a cheaper alternative. This cream cheese is perfect for vegans, celiacs and those suffering from lactose intolerance as well. This morning, I spread some of this nut spread over laffa, topped with peach slices, sprinkled a dash of cinnamon and toasted it. It was absolutely sublime! Plus it was a change of pace of my usual yogurt and oatmeal routine (I have nothing against yogurt and oatmeal. Every now and then, I have a relentless itch to try something “different”). This macadamia cream cheese recipe is a 24 hour process unlike most of my speeded spreads and dip recipes. The results are worth the effort and wait though. This nut spread makes a great vegan and soy-free filling for a cheese cake or Danish.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1cup of raw, unsalted macadamia nuts or cashew nuts
  2. Juice of one small lemon
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 cup of finely chopped herbs of your choice (optional)

Instructions:

Soak your macadamias for 2 hours. You don’t need to do this step but it softens them up a little and makes blending easier and the end result creamier. I usually soak mine if I have time.

If soaking, rinse macadamias in cold water and let drain. Put your macadamias in the blender with lemon juice, salt and just enough water to cover. Blend on high for 1 minute if you have a Vitamix, or 2-3 mins if using a food processor or less powerful blender. The mixture should be smooth and creamy.

Place a strainer over a bowl where it does not touch the bottom. Line the strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth with the edges hanging over. Spoon the macadamia mixture into cheesecloth and fold the sides over the entire mix, making sure no mix is left uncovered.

Find a plate that fits inside the strainer and is big enough to cover the entire mix. Place some weights on top of the plate (jars filled with water work well). You don’t want so much weight that the mix is being pushed through the cheesecloth, just enough to press any excess liquid out.

Put the mix somewhere warm but not in direct sunlight, cover with a tea towel and let stand at room temperature for a minimum of 12 hours (I usually leave mine for around 24 hours).

Once the cheese has sat for 12 hours, uncover and have a taste for tanginess (it will continue to get more tangy the longer it sits).

Once you are happy with the flavor, remove from the cheesecloth into a bowl, season with any extra salt to taste.

Refrigerate until cold and your cheese is ready to eat. Delicious!

Yields 1 cup

Soy-Free Veggie Burgers

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veggie-burgers

Sometimes it came be difficult to find a vegetarian/vegan recipe that doesn’t require soy. Most vegetarian/vegan oriented meals do contain some soy or tofu. As I may have mentioned before, I never liked tofu since the beginning of times. I personally don’t have anything against those who do eat tofu. Its their prerogative. This blog post is not dedicated to bashing and vilifying tofu. Everyone has their taste aversions and food that you couldn’t pay them enough to eat. So do I  and its tofu and okra. When it comes to making vegetarian dishes, I try to limit my intake of soy as too much of it isn’t healthy. The point being is that if I could find a viable solution to do away with tofu or soy in any vegan dish I create, I would. As a meat-eater, I happen to enjoy vegetarian meals a lot. In fact, I grew up on veggie burgers. But as most of you know, veggie burgers have ample amounts of soy in them. Especially the frozen packaged kinds. When I decided to make veggie burgers for dinner, my husband was a bit reluctant with the idea mainly because of the soy aspect. Luckily for us, we are both on the same page on that subject. Veggie burgers are a creative and healthy way to incorporate more vegetables in your diet. For a kid friendly version (as a lot of kids can be fastidious when it comes to eating vegetable. I guess I was a freak because I liked most veggies, particularly those that didn’t smell), you can serve this burger with a slice of low fat cheese. You can serve these burgers on a bun dolloped with minted fat free plain yogurt on top of the burger. There are many variations to making veggie burgers. Feel free to share some of your ideas and suggestions 🙂

I promise to post a meat version at some point in the near future.

 

For this recipe, you will need:

  1.  1 cup of cooked chickpeas drained
  2. 2  1/2 cups of steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrot mixture drained
  3. 1 cup of red bell pepper chopped
  4. 1 small jalapeno seeded and diced (if you like your burgers to be spicier, use a larger jalapeno)
  5. 6 cremini  mushrooms finely chopped
  6. 1 onion chopped
  7. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  8. 1/2 cup of fresh spinach
  9. 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  10. 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup of egg substitutes
  11. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  12. 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  13. 1 teaspoon of paprika
  14. 1 teaspoon of celery seeds
  15. 1/2  cup of flour
  16. 1/3 cup of bread crumbs

Instructions 

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Stir in onions, garlic, mushrooms, scallions, and bell pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add cumin,celery seeds, and paprika and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Once the vegetables have been cooked, place them in a food processor along with the chickpeas and steamed vegetable mixture and mix well till smooth. Place vegetable mixture in a bowl and add some flour,bread crumbs,zest,salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add more flour if necessary. Shape each mixture into 10 disks and place them on a plate. Allow them to chill for an hour.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in non-stick skillet and cook veggie burgers until golden on each side.

Yields 10 veggie burgers