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Food Matters

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3/6/2015

Cookies, cookies, cookies! I love cookies, but making them dairy-free, egg-free, low-fat and delicious can be challenging. Chewy and delicious, this healthy version of the American classic cookie is sure to please kids of all ages!

chewy chocolate chip cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 16 to 18 giant cookies

Ingredients:

• 2 cups whole-wheat flour
• 1 cup dark brown sugar, sucanat or maple sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 cup pecans, rough chopped
• 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I like Pascha Chocolate 55% or 85% chocolate chips)
• 1-1/2 cups fresh apple puree (see note)
• 1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons soy milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add the pecans and vegan chocolate chips, and stir with the whisk to combine. Stir in the apple purée, vanilla extract, and nondairy milk, and mix just until incorporated. If the dough seems overly wet, stir in a bit more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Alternately, if the dough seems overly dry, stir in a bit more nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.

3. For each cookie, drop about 2-1/2 tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly using the back of a flat spatula. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.

4. Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Cool for about 10 minutes. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the cookies will keep for about 2 days.

Note: To make the apple purée, peel and core 3 very large or 4 medium apples. Rough chop the apples. Put the apples in a blender and process until the consistency of smooth applesauce is achieved. Be careful not to liquefy!


Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.



2/27/2015

Going meatless and missing meatballs? Well here’s an easy fix that’s fun and fabulous–wheatballs! Tender, flavorful and satisfying these beauties stand in perfectly for a much loved culinary classic. Easy enough to make for a special weeknight meal, but fancy enough to serve when hosting a casual dinner party, this dish will become a staple in your house.

Spaghetti with Wheatballs

Spaghetti and Wheatballs Recipe

Makes 3 to 4 servings (12 to 14 wheatballs)

Ingredients

• 1 1/3 cups lightly packed, fresh, soft whole-grain bread crumbs (about 3 to 4 large slices—must be fresh!) (see notes below)
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 2 cups chopped mushrooms
• 1/2 cup diced onion
• 3/4 pound organic spaghetti (see notes below)
• 3 cups prepared vegan marinara sauce or your own homemade sauce

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a medium baking pan with unbleached parchment paper.

2. Put the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Put the walnuts in a blender, and pulse to process into coarse crumbs. Add the walnuts to the bread crumbs and stir gently to incorporate.

3. Put the mushrooms and onion in a blender, and process to a chunky purée. Add the mushroom mixture to the walnut–bread crumb mixture and stir to incorporate.

4. Spoon out about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mushroom mixture and roll it into a ball. Gently squeeze it together, to make sure it is compact and will hold together while baking. Continue in this way with the remaining mushroom mixture. Arrange the wheatballs on the lined baking pan. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Gently rotate each wheatball and bake for 12 to 25 minutes more, or until they are firm, crisp and golden.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm. Drain the spaghetti well.

6. Meanwhile, pour the marinara sauce in a medium sauce pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Gently add the wheatballs to the sauce, one at a time, cover, and simmer for 3 to 7 minutes.

7. To serve, put one-quarter of the spaghetti into each of four pasta bowls, and top with three or four wheatballs. Ladle marinara sauce over the top and serve immediately.

Chef’s Notes:

To make fresh bread crumbs: Put 3 to 4 slices of whole-grain bread in a blender and process into coarse crumbs.

Gluten-free option: You may use your favorite gluten-free pasta in this recipe. The wheatballs make a sensational base for a terrific hero-style sandwich too!


Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.



2/20/2015

For years I tried and tried to come up with an easy way to make a great-tasting burger substitute. When paired with a crusty bun, this burger has a hearty texture and robust taste that stands in magnificently for the meat-based version. Bonus: This burger freezes beautifully for up to one month, so to save time—make a double batch!

mushroom-nut burgers

Mushroom-Nut Burgers

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

• 1 1/2 cups lightly packed, fresh, soft whole-grain bread crumbs (from about 3 to 4 large slices) (see notes below)
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or all-purpose seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 2 cups chopped mushrooms
• 1/3 cup diced onion
• 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari or 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a medium baking pan with unbleached parchment paper. Put the bread crumbs, Italian or all-purpose seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Put the walnuts in a blender and process in pulses until they resemble coarsely ground flour. Add the walnuts to the bread crumbs and stir gently to incorporate. Put the mushrooms, onion, and tamari in a blender and process to a chunky purée. Add the mushroom mixture to the walnut–bread crumb mixture and stir to incorporate.

2. Place a 3-inch cookie cutter ring on the parchment. Pack one-quarter of the mushroom–bread crumb mixture into the ring and press it firmly and evenly into the ring to form a “burger.” Gently remove the ring. Repeat with the remaining mushroom–bread crumb mixture. Flatten each burger slightly with the back of a flat spatula. Bake for 18 minutes. Flip each burger and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes, or until the burgers are slightly crisp and golden.

3. Serve on sandwich buns, topped with lettuce, tomato, sweet onion, mustard, and ketchup.

Chef's Notes

Gluten-free option: To make gluten-free bread crumbs, use your favorite gluten-free bread in place of the whole-grain bread.

To make fresh bread crumbs: Put 3 to 4 large slices of whole-grain bread in a blender and process into coarse crumbs.


Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.


2/13/2015

Let them eat vegan chocolate cake! This is a rich, decadent-tasting, and gorgeous cake. This scrumptious confection, topped with a luscious, dairy-free chocolate ganache frosting, is ideal to serve as an enticing dessert at any gathering throughout the year. Oh yes, I have served this cake to my guests on many occasions, and no one can believe it is vegan. It’s just that good.

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Chocolate Ganache Cake Recipe

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

Cake
• 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
• 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
• 1 1/2 cups chocolate- or vanilla-flavored nondairy milk, plus more as needed
• 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ganache
• 1/2 cup nondairy milk (a thicker variety works best)
• 1 bar (3.5 ounces) vegan dark chocolate (snack-style bar, not unsweetened baking chocolate)
• 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Lightly coat a 9-inch round baking pan with vegan margarine. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add the brown sugar and whisk to combine.

3. Put 1/4 cup of the nondairy milk, vegan cream cheese, olive oil, and vanilla extract in a blender and process until smooth. Add to the flour mixture, along with the remaining 1 1/4 cups of nondairy milk. Stir until well combined and somewhat fluffy. The mixture will be stiff, but if it seems overly dry, stir in additional nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 3 tablespoons.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (If it seems that the cake is starting to burn during the last 10 minutes of baking, tent it with foil.) Put the pan on a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool completely.

5. While the cake is cooling, prepare the ganache. Heat the nondairy milk in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat until steaming hot but not boiling. Chop the vegan chocolate bar into small pieces. Put the chocolate pieces, olive oil and sugar in a large bowl.

6. Slowly pour in the nondairy milk, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition, until the chocolate is smooth and shiny. Immediately drizzle or spread the frosting over the cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until set. Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, leftover cake will keep for about 2 days.

Recipe taken from Jazzy Vegetarian Classics.


Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.



2/6/2015

Apples are readily available starting in the fall and throughout the winter season, so I find myself creating lots of new recipes for using this nutritional powerhouse in crisps and casseroles. As a satisfying snack, I adore them cored, sliced and slathered with peanut butter. Baking apples is another on of my all-time favorites and these delectable beauties are kept moist and juicy by wrapping them in parchment before baking. The result is a mouthwatering, healthy dessert that doubles as a delightful breakfast treat all winter long!

baked apple

Baked Apples in Parchment Recipe

Makes 2 to 3 servings

Ingredients

• 2 very large (or 3 medium) baking apples, such as Rome Beauty or Jonagold
• 5 heaping tablespoons raisins
• 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
• 2 teaspoons raw unsweetened shredded dried coconut
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper, leaving a 6-inch overhang of the paper on each of the lengthwise sides of the pan. Cut a 1/2-inch slice off the stem end of each apple and set aside.

2. Remove the cores to 1/4 inch of the bottom of the apples by using a paring knife to cut around the stem area, and then cut around the core. Use a teaspoon or serrated grapefruit spoon to dig out the core and seeds. Make the holes about 1 to 1 1/4 inches wide. (Alternatively, use an apple corer for coring the apples.)

3. To make the filling, put the raisins, walnuts, coconut, and 2 teaspoons maple syrup in a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Stuff each apple with the raisin filling, dividing it evenly between the apples. Brush the tops of the apples and stuffing with the remaining maple syrup using a pastry brush. Put the stem ends of the apples back on top of the apples. Carefully position the apples in the pan so they will remain upright while baking. Wrap the apples tightly in the parchment paper by pulling the excess paper over the apples and folding it together to firmly seal.

4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the apples are soft and the filling is bubbly. Let stand 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm, or cover tightly, refrigerate and serve cold.


Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.



1/30/2015

Nothing warms your tummy in the winter like a big bowl of soup. Thick and creamy in texture, this bisque-style potage is a true showstopper, perfect for any cold-weather meal. Whether presented as an elegant first course, hearty luncheon entree, or main dish supper soup, the butternut squash assures a velvety consistency and buttery taste, while steamed cauliflower made smooth in the blender, stands in for cream. Deeee-licious!

Bisque Recipe

Butternut Bisque Recipe

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

• 6 cups cubed butternut squash (1-inch cubes)
• 4 cups cauliflower florets
• 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1 small onion)
• 1 teaspoon Italian or all-purpose seasoning
• 2 apples, peeled and chopped
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Instructions

1. Fit a steamer basket into a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 inches of cold water then add the squash. Cover, bring to a boil, and steam for 7 minutes. Add the cauliflower and onion. Sprinkle with the Italian or all-purpose seasoning and steam for 20 minutes or until the squash and cauliflower are both very soft.

2. Put the squash mixture in a large bowl. Let cool for 15 minutes. Add the apples, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and stir to coat. Put half of the mixture in a blender. Add 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon maple syrup and process until smooth. Pour into a soup pot. Put the second half of the squash mixture in the blender. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and process until smooth. Add to the soup pot, and then stir the two batches together. If the soup seems too thick, add more vegetable broth to taste. Put the pot over medium-low heat, cover, and simmer, stirring often, until heated through, about 10 minutes. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls.

3. This soup may be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. If making in advance, let the soup cool after blending, then pour the cooled soup into an airtight container and refrigerate (see note).

Chef’s Note: To reheat the soup, pour it into a pot. If soup seems too thick add more vegetable broth, to taste. Cook for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often, until heated through.


Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.



1/23/2015

It’s pizza time! Making tasty pizza at home does not always require preparing yeast-risen dough. This delectable “pizza with a twist,” recipe is a gluten-free version that is sure to satisfy your family’s craving for a pizza dinner. Polenta as a pizza crust? Yep, it’s fabulous! This pizza develops nice crispy edges as it bakes, and the polenta provides a great base for the fresh tomatoes, artichokes and fragrant basil leaves. You can use any additional or optional toppings you like to make this versatile version your own.

Polenta Pizza

Polenta Pizza Recipe

Makes 4 se­­rvings

Ingredients

Crust:
• 3 cups, plus 2 tablespoons filtered or spring water
• 1 cup polenta (corn grits)
• 1 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Topping:
• 2 cloves minced garlic
• 1/4 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
• 3 medium-large tomatoes, sliced
• 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• Freshly ground sea salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• 5 to 10 marinated artichoke hearts, cut in half

Instructions

1. Make the polenta by bringing the water to a boil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low or low. Pour the polenta steadily into the water, while stirring constantly. Stir in the basil and salt. Stir the polenta frequently for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is thickened. (The polenta is ready when it easily comes away from the side of the pan and supports a wooden spoon.)

2. Pour the polenta onto a 12-inch pizza pan and carefully spread into an even layer using a rubber spatula. (The edges of the crust should be slightly raised to hold the toppings in place.)

3. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until firm to the touch. (The polenta crust may be made the day before, covered, and refrigerated overnight.)

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the crust for 12 minutes. Put the pan on a wire rack and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

5. Put the garlic and olive oil (if using) in a small bowl and stir to combine. Arrange the tomato slices on top of the crust by overlapping them in a spiral fashion, leaving 1/4 inch of the crust exposed on the outer perimeter. Sprinkle the garlic over the tomato slices. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil over the tomatoes and garlic. Top with the Italian seasoning and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Arrange the artichokes on top of the pizza. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil over the pizza. Bake for 15 minutes. Increase the heat to 425 degrees F and bake for 15 to 25 minutes more, or until the crust is crisp and the tomatoes are bubbling hot. Put the pan on a wire rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice and serve hot.


Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.





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