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Food Matters

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4/3/2015

This pie is quick to prepare, gorgeous to look at, delicious to eat and a delight to serve! It’s the perfect pie to offer for any festive occasion or elegant dinner party. Bonus: The filling takes a mere five minutes to prepare and the crust comes together in a flash! Your family and guests will think you slaved for hours creating this luscious and beautiful dessert! (So it can be our little secret that it was super easy to make)!

Ginger Chocolate Mousse Pie

Ginger Chocolate Mousse Pie

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

Crust
• 2-1/2 to 3 cups broken vegan ginger cookies (enough to make 1-3/4 cups crumbs)
• 1/2 cup vegan margarine, melted

Filling
• 3/4 cup vanilla-flavored nondairy milk
• 14 to 16 ounces soft regular or silken tofu, drained and broken up
• 2 bars (3.5 ounces each) vegan dark chocolate (snack bars, not unsweetened baking chocolate), finely chopped

Garnish (optional)
• 1/2 vegan dark chocolate bar, cut into curls (see note)
• 10 to 15 raspberries (frozen raspberries work well for this)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the cookies in a blender and process into coarse crumbs. Put 1-3/4 cups of the crumbs in a medium bowl. Add the melted vegan margarine and stir to combine. Press the crust into an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Put the plate on a wire rack to cool.

2. Meanwhile, heat the nondairy milk in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat until steaming hot but not boiling. Put the tofu in a blender and then add the vegan chocolate pieces. Pour in the hot nondairy milk and process until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the mousse into the prepared pie crust and smooth the top with a soft spatula.

3. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. To serve, garnish with chocolate curls and raspberries, if desired.

Chef’s Note

To make chocolate curls, slice a vegan chocolate candy bar into small “curls” using a carrot peeler.


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.



3/27/2015

One of the first crops of spring, asparagus makes a refreshing salad, adding color and crunch to any meal. It makes a nice light lunch perched on top of a bed of lettuce or presents an enticing first course to an elegant party meal.

Marinated Asparagus Salad

Marinated Asparagus Salad Recipe

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

• 1 bunch asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
• 1 clove garlic, minced

1. To make the dressing, put the lemon juice, tamari, and garlic into a small bowl and briskly whisk until smooth and emulsified.

2. Steam the asparagus until crisp tender.

3. Put the hot asparagus into a large bowl and add the dressing. Toss gently to coat the asparagus with the dressing. Cover and chill for 3 to 24 hours.

4. Serve chilled, on a pretty platter or arranged over a bed of baby greens.


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.



3/20/2015

I love to make this satisfying pasta dish to serve at any festive occasion. Baby spring spinach adds substance and visual interest, offering up an enticing way to serve up a dose of leafy greens. The potato pulp, baked and then pureed, stands in beautifully for cheese. The lively color combination of this dish makes a lovely presentation.

Vegan Stuffed Shells Recipe

Festive Stuffed Shells Recipe

Makes 5 to 6 servings (20 to 22 shells)

Ingredients

• 20 to 22 jumbo pasta shells
• 3 to 4 large russet potatoes, baked and cooled
• 1/4 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
• 1/2 cup diced yellow or sweet onion
• 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach, finely chopped
• 1-1/3 cups your favorite prepared vegan marinara sauce, plus more for serving
• Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the shells. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shells are almost cooked but still quite firm. Drain and let cool.

3. Meanwhile, slice each potato in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the pulp, using a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon. Measure out 3 cups of the potato pulp, making sure to pack it very tightly into the measuring cup. Put the 3 cups of the potato pulp in a high-performance blending appliance. Add the nondairy milk, onion, garlic, and salt. Process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Fold the chopped baby spinach into the potato mixture.

4. Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 12 inch casserole dish. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the potato filling into each of the shells. Place each shell into the prepared casserole dish. Repeat until all shells are stuffed. Top each shell with 1 heaping teaspoon of the marinara sauce. Cover loosely and bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the sauce is bubbling. Uncover during the last 5 to 7 minutes. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with optional chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, if desired.

5. Serve extra sauce in a gravy boat or small bowl to pass around the table.


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.



3/13/2015

These sassy “steaks” are served with a colorful, low-fat sauce that’s simple to make, but full of robust flavor. Steaming the cauliflower heads ahead of time, cuts down on baking, making this a nice entrée for a weeknight meal. Now you can make cauliflower the star of your meal!

cauliflower steak

Cauliflower Steaks Recipe with Sweet Pepper Sauce

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

• 2 small heads of cauliflower
• 1 red onion, thinly sliced
• 1 yellow or sweet onion, thinly sliced
• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
• 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari
• 1/4 cup filtered or spring water, divided, plus more as needed
• 2 cups cremini or white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
• 2 sweet red peppers, thinly sliced
• 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
• 2 cups jarred, low-fat marinara sauce

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Trim one to two inches off two opposite sides of the cauliflower heads and set aside for use another time. Steam the trimmed cauliflower heads for 12 to 18 minutes or until they are just crisp-tender. Cool for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, put the onions, Italian seasoning, tamari, and 2 tablespoons water in a large skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, adding more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to prevent sticking. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the peppers and 2 tablespoons water, and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and stir in 1 cup of the marinara. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes.

4. Spread 1 cup marinara sauce evenly in the bottom of a rimmed casserole that is large enough to accommodate the cauliflower steaks.

5. Cut each cauliflower heads down the center into two or three 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick slices, as if slicing a loaf of bread. Set the cauliflower slices in the prepared casserole. Top each cauliflower slice with one-quarter of the onion and pepper sauce. Cover and bake 25 to 35 minutes or until the cauliflower steaks are tender, but still firm. Uncover the casserole for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

6. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

NOTE: For a completely oil-free recipe, use no-oil marinara sauce.


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.



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.




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