Review of Nature’s Dairy-free creamer nutpods

img_20170131_110331809.jpg

It is great to have dairy-free milk for your cereal and creamer for your coffee, but I am always looking for dairy-free milks to use in cooking. Have you ever bought an unsweetened box of milk to find that it contained “natural flavors” that made your chicken and dumplings taste of vanilla? Or had a dessert turn out too sweet because you couldn’t figure out how much to adjust the sugar to compensate for the coffee creamer? I might be the only one, except for the chicken and dumplings because that was my sister.
My new favorite product is nutpods. So far I have used it in my coffee, tea, chai, hot chocolate, gravy and made the best mashed potatoes I have had in ages! Even my dairy eating husband thought they were the best mashed potatoes I have ever made. They were so creamy and didn’t have any weird flavors (like vanilla, coconut or almond). Even though I have a huge pot of Minestrone soup I might have to make mashed potatoes because I bought more nutpods! And a little cream in your gravy is always a nice touch. My aunt used to add a little half-and-half to the turkey gravy at holidays. I added a couple of tablespoons of nutpods to my pan gravy and served it over herb chicken, oh my, it was very good.

I am drinking chai right now and I can’t believe that it is dairy-free.  Speaking of chai, my favorite is from Blue Lotus Chai- Rooibos Masala Chai. I love that it is caffeine free and I can add how much of whatever sweetener I choose.

img_20170131_110639203.jpg

I don’t really have a story or anything to write, I just want to tell someone about the stuff I like. Maybe I’ll have a “favorite things” post. Not like Oprah, but for people who are going to a favorite things party and need some ideas. Who wouldn’t want to go home with coffee creamer?

New Year’s Resolutions

For many people a New Year’s resolution may look something like this.

“This year I will get in shape.”

Or

“My New Year’s resolution is to lose weight.”

Or, more specific

“I will lose 20 pounds in 2017.”

My New Year’s resolution is to “keep on keeping on.” I’m not starting anything new. I’m not setting a nebulous goal for myself. I’m not even vowing to break a bad habit. I am going to make a list of all the things that I have decided are part of a healthy day for me. Some of these things I have been doing for years, others for a few months, but I want to be aware of them and work to do them EVERY day.

  1. read the Bible
  2. take vitamins and supplements twice a day for hormonal health
  3. drink gelatin
  4. do T-Tapp
  5. drink a Green Thickie
  6. drink 5-6 glasses of water
  7. wash face using oil cleansing method
  8. use Wellness Mama toothpaste and oil pull
  9. go to bed with a clean kitchen sink

The last one is probably the hardest for me and the one my husband is most interested in. His love language is acts of service and clean dishes make him feel loved. Washing dishes is right up there with doing laundry. I’ll do it, if I have to, I guess. Doing the laundry should be up there too, but I don’t want to do it every day.

This list might change over the course of this year, but this is a good start.

Alright, here is my one, big, nebulous, hashtag-able New Year’s resolution: be a friend.

I don’t really have any friends and the one thing my husband is always saying to me is if I want a friend I need to be a friend. So there is my big idea for 2017. Now I have to figure out how to be a friend.

Not for FB

My love calls FB brag book and he is right. Cute kids, clean houses, perfectly presented food and filtered selfies cover my Facebook feed. Here is a little story not going on FB. I don’t post much anyway.

Today was going to be a great day. I woke up early and did my workout. I made pancakes for the kids. I was planning on taking my daughter downtown for a doctor’s appointment then to a donut shop for GF donuts for her and vegan donuts for me.

Reality: Oldest daughter hated the pancakes. We were running late for the appointment and it took me three tries to get our Suburban into a downtown parking spot. We get to the doctor to find that this appointment was cancelled three months ago and scheduled for next month. I was getting a little flustered by this time. I drove right past the donut shop, in the wrong lane. I decided I didn’t want to go around the block and try to park again anyway. We did have success at the post office, at least as far as I know. It only took a few tries to get everything in boxes, addressed and paid for. On the way home I got stuck in an intersection. I was turning left and couldn’t see that the cars weren’t moving where I needed to go. I got honked at. Like I didn’t know that I was in the way? I hate getting honked at. When we got home my sweetie asked how things went. When I told him about the appointment mix up, he rolled his eyes and went back to his office. I was really glad that he didn’t want to talk. Or lecture me about my calendar or “help” in any way.

I went to our closet and cried. Nothing was really wrong. No one was hurt. I was hungry. Being hungry can make a big difference in how you feel. After I left the closet I sat down by myself and read for a little bit. I was feeling better. My husband came in and sat down next to me. Asked if I was alright, and I gave a curt reply. He asked if I was mad. No.  “Are you sad?”

“Yes.”

“Well, let’s start drinking. We don’t have anything to do or anywhere to be.” He looked sideways at me and grinned. “Aren’t we supposed to spend our anniversary hung-over, puking our guts out?”

I couldn’t help smiling. “That was actually New Year’s Eve.”

Neither of us drink often, but we both get horribly sick when we do drink.  Eleven years ago, the day after our wedding we went to a party. A fighter pilot party. The Jeremiah Weed was passed around. I vaguely remember drawing on someone’s face with a Sharpie. As we were walking to our friend’s house where we were crashing that night we slipped on the ice and didn’t feel a thing. We just laid in the snow and laughed. That was the fun part. Then there was the puking part. My brand-new husband had a hangover that lasted three days.

Eleven years later it is easy to laugh about. I am so blessed to have someone in my life that can lift my spirits with a shared memory from over a decade ago.

Happy Anniversary! Let’s see what we can laugh about eleven years from now.

How-ya-like-it Halibut Chowder

How-ya-like-it Halibut Chowder

  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 2 cups cubed ham (optional)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 6 potatoes, pealed and cubed
  • 1 carrot, shredded (optional)
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk beverage
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2-1 cup white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 2 pounds of halibut or other fish
  • 2 cups broccoli, steamed
  • parsley

Preheat oven to 400°. Lay bacon flat on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until it is done to your preference. Set bacon aside, use 1-2 tablespoons of drippings to saute onion and celery in a large pot. When the onion is translucent stir in the chicken broth, milk and wine. Add potatoes, carrots and spices. Bring to a simmer, cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. While soup is cooking put halibut skin side down in a baking dish. season with salt and pepper. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until fish flakes. Back to the soup- stir in potato flour, don’t be too worried about lumps, just keep stirring. Make sure to taste the soup and see if it needs more salt or spices. Serve soup with broccoli and halibut arranged on top. Sprinkle with parsley.

 

One of my children loves fish and broccoli, the other child acts as if I’m trying to kill her when I even mention fish. Serving chowder this way means that my husband can have as much fish as he wants and the children can have theirs on the side if they want. I also like that I don’t have to skin the fish first. Baking is the easiest way to make fish. AND I only cook bacon in the oven. I got so tired of fat popping on me that I decided to never make bacon on the stove again. I made this soup in the crock pot. So, I didn’t saute the veggies, I  just dumped everything in the pot and turned it on. About an hour before dinner, I turned on the oven and cooked the bacon. Then I baked the fish. While the fish was cooking I prepped the broccoli and set it to steam. I added the potato flour last. It sounds like a lot of work when I write it all out, but it was really easy.

I love the way the wine and spices compliment the fish in this recipe. If I could order chowder in a restaurant, this is the way I would want it to taste. So yummy served with sourdough bread.

Holiday Baking! And…GO!

GF DF Chocolate Cream Pie

Crust:
Adapted from Minimalist Baker

3/4 cup gluten free rolled oats
3/4 cup  raw almonds
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar, plus more to taste
3-4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

Filling:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 tablespoons cocoa powder* (depending on taste)
3 cups unsweetened dairy-free milk**
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons vegan butter, dairy-free margarine

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 350°. Blend all ingredients in blender, except coconut oil, to a fine crumb. Gradually add coconut oil while blending. I used all 4 tablespoons and my crust was a little too wet. Add oil until the crumbs can hold together. Pat crust into pie plate, cover the bottom of plate and go up the sides as much as you can. Bake for 15 minutes then raise oven temperature to 375° and bake for 5-10 minutes longer, until lightly browned. Let crust cool on wire rack while you prepare the filling.

For the filling:

In a large sauce pan whisk all the dry ingredients together. Mix egg yolks and milk together and gradually add to the pan while whisking. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and add in vanilla and vegan butter. Pour into pie crust, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve topped with coconut whip.

*I used 4 tablespoon of cocoa this year to make the pie a little more kid friendly. 6 tablespoons of cocoa makes a rich, dark pie, a little more suitable for grownups.

**As with any custard/pudding the fat content of the milk that you use matters. I had half a can of coconut milk left over in the fridge that I used. I made up the rest of the three cups with a coconut almond blend. Just be sure to use unsweetened milk or the pie will be too sweet.

For some reason my husband doesn’t think that chocolate pie is Christmas-y. Chocolate was a regular at our house for holiday dinners. Then again we rarely had apple pie for holidays. My mom made fabulous apple pie, but it was an every day dessert, not fancy enough for holiday feasts. We always had pumpkin and pecan pie and then a chocolate pie or pumpkin cake roll or my Aunt Bonnie’s French Cherry Pie. (I’m still working on making that one dairy free!) I saw a Thanksgiving post on FB that showed three pies for six people. My first thought was that is not near enough pie, but my friend was thinking that was too much pie. Only three pies for six people? All families are different. Our family is a bit food centric, sweet centric to be more specific and we like it that way.

I’m not going to the store!

How did this happen? I only have about 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance in the fridge. Do I not know that it is Thanksgiving? My sweet husband needs butter to inject the turkey and I need butter for the stuffing, not to mention all the other things that “just need a little bit of butter”. Not to worry. I have coconut milk, coconut oil and a few pantry items needed to make vegan butter.
I used to make butter all the time, but then I got lazy and we moved closer to Fred Meyer, where they carry Earth Balance. It doesn’t take too long to make vegan butter, neither is it too difficult. The clean up after making butter is the most tedious part. Right now my kids are playing in a sink full of warm soapy water and greasy measuring cups. I’m quite sure that the cups and my children will need to be washed when they are done playing.
This is one of the first recipes I posted a few years ago. At the time Earth Balance was still a little tricky to find everywhere. It’s still a great recipe to have for those times when you run out of butter or the store is closed or you want something that just tastes a little better. My husband is still amazed that I can make something so close to butter in our kitchen. Here is the original post Can’t have Thanksgiving without BUTTER.10007488_10202338683121303_2497104984883312772_n

Here is the recipe just a little updated:

Vegan Butter

  • 1 cup+2 Tbsp+2 tsp unsweetened coconut milk beverage (not the kind in a can)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups+1 Tbsp+1 tsp coconut oil, measured after melted
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or any other liquid oil)
  • 1 tablespoon+1 tsp liquid sunflower lecithin
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  1.  Measure coconut milk, add apple cider vinegar and salt and whisk together . Let sit while working on rest of recipe.
  2.  Melt the coconut oil in a microwave so it’s barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. (There are still some chunks in mine, but they get blended up. I just don’t want the oil to be too warm.) Pour coconut and olive oil into processor or blender.
  3. Add the liquid lecithin, sprinkle the xanthan gum over oils and process until well blended. Pour in the coconut milk mixture and process 2 minutes in food processor or 30 seconds in high powered blender. It will thicken up to the consistency of heavy cream.
  4. Place silicone mold on a cookie sheet. Measure ½ cup at a time and pour into mold, I use a mini loaf pan that is just right. It makes it much easier to use in baking if you measure before you mold.
  5.  Pop the pan in freezer.
  6. After they are hard take the cubes out of the mold and wrap in plastic wrap.

I usually keep my butter in the freezer and just have one or two sticks in the fridge. You can’t leave this butter out like dairy butter, but it will melt easily on toast or warm rolls.

This recipe is based on the recipes I found here.  www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/veganbutters/veganbutter  There is no way I could have come up with this concept on my own. Mattie is a bit of a genius! If you want learn more about butter and vegan butter, read this article. Again, I have to thank the vegans for improving my quality of life. THANK YOU!

 

Mexican Veggie Soup

I bought my first package of “Veggie Ground”…um…meat? product?…fake hamburger. Yves Veggie Cuisine. I am not a fan of soy. I remember reading several papers about the dangers of soy years ago and I stopped using soy milk. Ask me what those papers were specifically warning against and I will give you a vague answer, possibly involving hormones. Anyway, I was scared enough to not buy another half-gallon of soy milk. But some things, like Tofutti cream cheese taste better to me than other brands I’ve tried. Moderation! Plus, I’m a bit stumped coming up with vegan protein. I can’t seem to eat enough nuts and seeds to get enough protein. And yes, I have read the blogs about people not needing as much protein as “guidelines” tell us we need, but when my hair starts falling out, I’m eating more protein.

I started making this soup a couple of years ago with ground beef. My sweetie loves it! Not sure how the no beef version will go over.  I love it! And if I’m cooking, that’s what matters. It is a great way to get my kids to eat veggies. For some reason I can put just about anything in soup and they will eat it. Unless they have decided that they no longer like soup. In which case, I just give up.

Mexican Veggie Soup

  • 1 package of veggie meat crumbles or 1 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced or shredded, what ever you prefer
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (or beef broth)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups green beans, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cups baby spinach

If you are using beef, brown it first then on to the next step. Saute “meat”, onion, celery and bell pepper in a little olive oil. When the onion is transparent add carrots, crushed tomatoes, broth and seasoning. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 20 minutes. About 10 minutes before serving stir in the green beans. Right before serving stir in spinach. There have been times that I wanted the spinach just wilted so I filled my bowl with greens and then poured hot soup over the top. OR if my children are being picky I’ll chop the spinach and let it simmer for a couple of minutes in the soup. Greens can be a personal thing.