Vegan Shamrock(ish) Shake

Confession: I am a sucker for a limited time offer. (or LTO as they’re called in this Time Magazine article ).

I am their target audience. To me, fall means Pumpkin Spice lattes. Christmas isn’t Christmas without a McRib and Egg Nog Milkshake. And in early Spring, I have to have a Shamrock Shake.

I like to think its because I don’t visit Starbucks and McDonalds every day that these Seasonal items find themselves on my calendar. I’ve just named the two times a year I eat at McDs. So, when I do go its for something “special”. Or maybe it’s just because THEY ARE DELICIOUS. Whatever the reason, it happens.

But this year, I gave into my Shamrock Shake craving too early in the season. My husband had gone off skiing in France for a week with some friends leaving me at home alone with the baby. I love my little girl. But, around day 4 I lost it. We’re lucky that a Shamrock Shake was the worst casualty. So anyways, I found myself needing another hit a few weeks later. Since one shake is my annual limit, I thought I’d experiment with a healthy vegan version. And it turned out pretty great. It’ll never match a true Shamrock Shake in a blind taste test. But, its delicious in spite of lacking the McDonalds sickly sweet syrup (or because of it).

Enjoy!

20130317-113745.jpg

Vegan Shamrock(ish) Shake
Serves 2 (or one person who is very hungry after running with a baby jogger)
2 frozen bananas (peeled and chunked)
1 big handful of spinach
1 small handful of mint leaves

2 cups almond milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 can full fat coconut milk (chilled in the fridge for at least 4 hours before using)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Maraschino cherries

Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the thick cream from the sides into a bowl. Discard the watery milk or save for another purpose. Add the 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Whip on high for several minutes or until stiff peaks form.

Blend together the frozen bananas through the 1/4 tsp vanilla extract until desired consistency 1-2 minutes.

Pour into glasses. Top with coconut whipped cream and cherries.

And check out my pal’s blog for more delicious & healthy St Patricks day fare.
The Culinary Enthusiast

And…. Six Months!

20130317-114002.jpg

Advertisements

Experiments with Fruit Soft Serve – Take one

Chocolate Chip Banana Soft Serve (vegan)

Well, here’s a delicious treat that you can feel great about.  4 ingredients: bananas, almond milk, vanilla, chocolate.  YUM!

Soft serve fruit is something that’s getting a lot of buzz here in NYC.  Other places too?  Well, why spend $5 and schlep it to one of the stores (which are fabulous for a treat) when you probably have some ripe bananas in your kitchen right this very minute.

This is so delicious and easy that I can tell Banana Soft Serve and I are going to have a great summer together.  I’m already dreaming and drooling over the variations to try: peanut butter, coconut, fresh mint, strawberries…

The only drawback, is cleaning the blasted food processor.  There are so many parts and so many nooks and crannies, it takes FOREVER.  It’s a small price to pay.  But,  I also need to also start dreaming (and drooling?) about ways around the food processor.

Chocolate Chip Banana Soft Serve (vegan)

Here’s the extremely precise recipe: (Serves 1 very hungry pregnant lady)

  • 1 frozen banana (before I freeze bananas, I peel and chop them into 1″ slices)
  • Splash of Almond (or whatever) milk
  • One piece of a block of dark chocolate
  • Drop of vanilla extract

  1. Throw it all into the food processor
  2. Whirl
  3. Add some more milk to get to the consistency that looks “right”
  4. Sit outside and enjoy

The End.


Easy Gameday: Baked tortilla chips and guacamole

FOOTBALL SEASON IS HERE!!

Sorry for getting a little excited there.  As I write this, Clemson is beating last year’s Champs Auburn 35-24 and I WISH I was in Death Valley right now.

But, I’m not. I’m in Jersey City.  Had a little scare this morning, searched for the Clemson game on TV and couldn’t find it.  Not on ESPN, not on Fox Sports, not on BTN.  I was in the middle of chastising New York television and telling my husband we need to move to South Carolina asap… when I found it… on ABC!!  Glory be.

Anyways, a snack was then in order since we won’t be leaving the house until the last second on the play clock.

(Notice the Clemson cup in the background.)

Baked Tortilla Chips and homemade Guacamole

Baked Tortillas

  • 7 Corn tortillas
  • 1 Tablespoon Corn Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • teeny-tiny pinch of Cumin
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray oil on a baking sheet. 
  2. Brush tortillas with oil
  3. Stack tortillas and cut into 8ths 
  4. Lay tortillas on baking sheet.
  5. Bake 15 to 20 minutes rotate baking sheet 1/2 way through cooking.
  6. Remove from oven, place chips in a large bowl and toss with Salt and Cumin.

Homemade Guacamole

Easiest thing ever.

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • Few drops of Tabasco
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salsa
  1. De-pit avocado and lightly mash with a fork in a bowl. 
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix.
  3. Go Tigers!


Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip (mini) Muffins

Thursday morning we were up uber early to watch the USA v Russia Rugby World cup game.  4am, thank you very much.  Rugby is not really my thing.  Now, I’ll watch a game and a day at Twickenham is always fun times. Waking up at 4am to watch a game would never be my idea.  But, when the hubby is up and watching the game, I don’t know, I can’t sleep, I feel like I want to get up and be part of the fun.  (Yes, I know I’m crazy).

Once up, watching the game is, err, a little boring.  And I thought my time would be better spent baking.  So, I give to you Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip (mini) muffins.

That’s a lot of name for a mini muffin.  (Oh, and please ignore the melted chocolate on my hand.  Couldn’t be helped).

Lots of wholesome goodness in there and I could have easily called these “Pumpkin Banana Applesauce Chia Chocolate Chip Muffins”.  But, that sounds a bit pretentious. 🙂   Lovely, easy and a taste of fall that you can feel good about eating.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (vegan)

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 grates of nutmeg (does that make sense? take some nutmeg and rub it over a grater 4 times)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used almond but any would work)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (+3 T water)
  • 1 tablespoon egg replacer (+3 T water)
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Grease muffin pan.
  2. In one small bowl add chia seeds and 3T water and let soak, in another small bowl add egg replacer and let soak.
  3. Mix together dry ingredients.
  4. Mix together wet ingredients (banana through egg replacer).  Save the soaked chia and egg replacer for last to give them more time to soak.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, being careful not to overstir.  (Ha ha, i don’t really mean that.  I always see that in recipes and it drives me crazy.  You have common sense, stir until it’s mixed – no big deal)
  6. Add the chocolate chips to the batter.
  7. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake for 16-ish minutes until a knife or toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool & enjoy with coffee!


Oh, and the USA won.  USA!

Restaurant Review: FreeFoods NYC – Midtown

I headed off for another lunchtime meal in Midtown yesterday.  This time at FreeFoods NYC which I’ve walked by several times and have always been intrigued by the awesome looking juices people walk out of there with.

FreeFoods NYC  – Per their website

“Specializing in Contemporary Organic Cuisine – flavorful, nutritious , and creative foods designed especially for a busy lifestyle”

What it SHOULD say is “flavorful, nutritious, and creative foods designed especially for those with a lot of money“.

You see this…

That little slice of pizza will cost you $6.50.

Yes, it’s healthier than the $1 slices Ray’s (or whoever) is selling right across the street.  But, it definitely explains why this spot was close to empty during the lunch hours in Midtown.  And it explains why my salad and juice (to go) cost me over $20.

I absolutely understand that organic, healthily prepared food is worth more.  But, it’s hard to justify spending $20 a day on lunch.  This place is for a splurge, only.

My lunch was fine.  I went with the macrobiotic cobb salad.  (ate it too fast to get a picture) and a delightful juice.

The 7 Green (kale, spinach, parsley, cucumber, pear, apple & lime).  Well, mine was only a “5 Green” since they were out of pears and substituted my lime for lemon.  But, it still tasted fresh, delicious and healthy.  3 of my favorite things.

I think you can tell.  FreeFoods NYC was fine.  I was just a little put off by the prices.  Not customary for the neighborhood and not worth it, in my opinion.

  • Food – * * * *
  • Service – * * *
  • (The juicer was broken & it took about 15 mins for someone to fix it.  And they didn’t seem to care too much)   
  • Ambiance – * * * *
  •  (Cool, clean & beautiful)      
  • Price Value – *
  • Overall – Underwhelmed

And, nothing to do with FreeFoods NYC but, this was my view as I walked home last night.

This weekend, and anytime I look at the Manhattan skyline, my thoughts are with the victims, families and brave first responders who lost their lives 10 years ago on 9/11.  God Bless.

Special Anniversary Dinner (aka random stuff I found in the kitchen)

Today, the hubby and I celebrated 2 years of marriage.  Love you, Iain.  Here’s to many many happy years.

Us two years ago today:

To celebrate, I was planning on making these.  But, after having a long day at work, I had to come up with something pretty quickly when I was walking home.  I thought about Betsy Life’s current Pantry Challenge and thought that I have some pretty good stuff to work with, I’ll just figure something out when I get home.  And it turned out pretty great.  Good thing, because we have enough leftovers for the next 3 days!

Cheezy Orzo with fresh herbs

Recipe at the bottom of the page.

But, the real winner was dessert.  Gwyneth Paltrow’s Brownies topped with Chocolate Chip Banana Softserve.

And it was goooooood.  I mean, it was no White Chocolate Raspberry Wedding Cake.

But it was fast and Vegan – Vegan – Vegan.  (Don’t tell Iain).

Scroll down even further for the recipe.

Cheers!

Cheezy Orzo

  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 cups uncooked Orzo (one small box)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 oz vegan cheddar
  • Can of whatever beans you have in the pantry (kidney beans for us)
  • 2 cups of whatever frozen veggies (lima & green beans)
  • Handful of fresh herbs (parsley and basil)
  • Vegan mozzarella

In a large crockpot, heat the olive oil on medium high and stir in the garlic.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the orzo and tomato paste and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add the broth and white wine.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low.  Cover and let simmer 10-15 minutes.  Stir every few minutes to ensure orzo isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Once most of the liquid is absorbed, grate cheddar and stir in.  Add in frozen veggies and beans.  Stir until veggies are heated through.  Toss in herbs.

Dish it up, and top with a bit of shaved Vegan Mozzarella.

Chocolate-Chip Banana Soft Serve

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 Tablespoons almond milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons Trader Joe’s Chocolate chips

Chop frozen banana into medium chunks and put in a food processor.

Blend until soft serve consistency.  Add in milk, syrup and extract.  Blend.

Toss in Chocolate chips and process until blended.

Spoon on top of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Delicious Fudgy Chocolate Brownies.



Recipe Review: Gwyneth’s Brownies

I admit it, I LOVE Gwyneth Paltrow.  It’s a deep love that began my Sophomore year of college when I saw “Sliding Doors” and decided 3 things:

  1. I should cut my hair short.  (Thank you to my college roomie for changing my mind on that one)
  2. I should study abroad in the UK
  3. I LOVE Gwyneth Paltrow

And I truly believe we could be the best of friends.  I mean, we may have chosen different career paths. But, she has an English husband, I have an English husband (thanks to that year abroad).  Think of all the hilarious conversations.

Natalie: Hey Gwyneth, does Chris say that someone is “at hospital” instead of “in the hospital”?

Gwyneth: He does!!

Then we’ll laugh and laugh and then go grab some coffee, or maybe she’ll make me some Vegetable Paella from her book, or we’ll go watch ‘Shakespeare in Love’ in her private cinema or something.  Whatever, we’re relaxed, no agenda, just hanging out.

But seriously, the girl can cook.

I got a copy of My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness for my birthday in July and have been slowly and deliciously making my way through it since.   Yesterday, as Hurricane Irene shuffled up to NYC/NJ and we were confined indoors, I found time to make her “Fudgy Chocolate Brownies”, which happen to be vegan.

The verdict.  Delicious moist, chocolate-y brownies.  As Gwyneth says “These are about as healthy as brownies can get, with no flavor sacrifice”.

And I’ll say it a thousand times, the best part of vegan baking, getting to eat the batter!

I made a few substitutions, based on what I had on hand.  (Wouldn’t you know it, I was clean out of spelt flour).  I’m not sure on the copyright laws on publishing her recipe.  But, the below is my adaptation.

Gwyneth’s Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

Adapted From My Father’s Daughter

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup almond meal flour
  • 1 cup high-quality cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chips (vegan)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease a 9×11 inch baking dish with Vegetable Oil.
  2. Sift the flours, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup vegetable oil, syrups, coffee, soy milk, and vanilla.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Careful not to overmix.
  5. Pour 1/2 the batter into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1/2 the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the rest of the batter into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 50 minutes.  Until a toothpick or knife has just a little bit of chocolate on it when you test it.
  8. Cool and cut into squares.

Embarrassingly easy Vegan Tostadas with “refried” beans

Mmmmm Tostada…   (last night’s dinner)

A couple of questions for you:

  • Are you looking for a healthy, delicious and easy weeknight dinner?
  • Do you have a can of black beans, corn tortillas and some vegetables in your kitchen?

Then you need to try this out.  It’s husband approved.  (I had a good photo of Iain shoving one into his mouth but, he made me take it down- geez)

Embarrassingly easy Vegan Tostadas with “refried” beans

Serves 2

Total Time: 15 minutes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

  • 4-5 Corn tortillas
  • Spray Oil
  • Refried beans (either a can of Amy’s or from recipe below)
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of greens chopped (I had spinach)
  • 1/2 Avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons salsa
  • 2 ounces Vegan Cheddar Cheese (I wish I had used Daiya which melts much better than the brand I had on hand)
  1. Turn oven on to Broil
  2. Spray both sides of the Corn Tortillas, and cook each in a non-stick skillet until golden brown.  Then lay them out on a baking sheet.   

3.   Spread each tortilla with Vegan Refried Beans                                                             

4.  Top each tortilla with tomatoes, chopped greens, avocado, onion and cheese. (or whatever goodness you have on hand, I put some chicken sausage slices on the husband’s).  Slide baking sheet with tortillas into the oven and watch ( be careful to not let them burn) until the cheese is melty (3-5 minutes).

Top each with salsa and enjoy.  I know we did!

Vegan “Refried” Beans

  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor.
                     2.  Pulse until a hummus (ish), refried beans-y consistency.

First Post – Vegan City Grits

Well, this is my first attempt in the blog world.  I’ve been wanting to post for awhile but, decided I couldn’t have a blog with the name “Nitty Grits” without the first post being about grits. Come on!

Not just grits.  But, vegan grits.

Tough task.  I live in NYC and it is NOT easy to find grits in this town.  After a search of about 3 specialty food stores, I found a box of instant Arrowhead Mills hidden on the bottom shelf of a Whole Foods.  And it was the last box!  I pitty the next person who goes looking for them.

Obviously, instant grits are not ideal.  I usually love Arrowhead Mills but I’ve never tasted any instant grits that are anywhere close to the real thing.  But, if you find yourself in the same predicament (are there many people looking to make vegan grits outside of the south – or anywhere?), this recipe still turns out pretty fabulous.   I love the crunch of the fresh corn mixed in there.  Yum.

Vegan City Grits – Topped with Tomatoes, Peppers and Corn

Serves 2

  • 1/3 cup of instant grits
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (About 1 ear of corn)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Soy Milk
  • 1 oz nondairy cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 strips of tempeh bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Tabasco sauce (to taste)

Heat the 1 tablespoon Olive Oil on medium-high in a large skillet on medium high.

Add onions and cook until translucent.

Add the green pepper and cook until onion browns a little.

Add the tomatoes and jalapeno.  Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes.  Stir often.

While the onion mixture is cooking, bring water to a simmer and slowly add in the grits.  Reduce heat to low and stir constantly so that the grits don’t get lumpy for about 5 minutes.  Add the soy milk, cheese, Earth Balance, salt and pepper and stir until cheese has melted.

While onion mixture and grits are cooking, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet and add crumbled tempeh.  Cook until crispy then lay out on a paper towel to cool down.

Divide grits into two large bowls, top with 1/2 each the onion mixture and 1/2 the crumbled tempeh.

Top with as much Tabasco as you can take and taste the south, wherever you might be…