[A bowl of pudding, a cup of herbal tea, and forget about what ails ya.]
I don’t suppose that butterscotch pudding is the first food that comes to mind when one thinks of foods that can be eaten “for what ails ya.”
Then again, it might be. . . if, when you think of butterscotch pudding, you think of Jell-O instant puddings. And when you think of Jell-O pudding, that might lead you to think of Bill Cosby, their former spokesperson, talking about puddings and kids and fun in one of his many unforgettable commercials. And then, if you happen to continue to think of Bill Cosby, that would lead you to think of all the TV shows in which Mr. Cosby has featured, such as I Spy, Fat Albert, Kids Say the Darndest Things, and the exemplar of all family sitcoms, the eponymous The Cosby Show. And when you think of The Cosby Show, you might then think of the protagonist of the show, Cliff Huxtable. Who, when you think about it, was a doctor (albeit an obstetrician) on the show. And then, once you’re thinking about doctors, you might be thinking that a doctor is a person you’d need to see, say, if you felt ill. And if you’re thinking about feeling ill, well, you might think about what you’d eat. Bringing it all together, you’d go on to think about “what you’d eat + Dr. Huxtable + Bill Cosby + pudding” sort of all mushed together in one thought. So, in the end, “food to eat for what ails ya” could, indeed, bring you to “pudding.”
[Yes, it tastes as rich and creamy as it looks. And just as butterscotchy, too.]
In my own case, this pudding is a creation I came up with as a result of a specific health condition; I’m eating it as part of my treatment. (No, really.). And whether or not you’ve got something that ails you, well, this pudding will make you feel much better. It’s creamy, it’s light, it’s velvety, and it tastes like afternoon tea and reading in front of the fireplace and knitting in a rocking chair and maybe a silky camisole thrown in as well. . . .but it’s filled with heart-healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients, too. All at 90 calories per serving.
As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, my mom died fairly young (aged 62) from complications of diabetes and heart disease. In fact, she suffered her first heart attack at age 55. Because I’m a hypochondriac health conscious, every year at my annual physical, I ask my doctor to conduct all the necessary tests to ensure that my heart is in tip-top condition. I’ve had my cholesterol, triglycerides and homocysteine levels measured regularly (all are great, thankfully). I take a treadmill stress test every other year. I sometimes undergo an EKG at my physical. And in recent years, I’ve repeatedly requested a C-Reactive Protein (CRP) test in my blood work, since it’s a good marker of inflammation in the body. Normally, my doc’s response has been, “Not necessary. Everyone has some kind of inflammation, so it doesn’t really tell us very much.”
When I started seeing my new naturopath last year, though, she wrote to my allopathic doctor and asked her to include the CRP test based on my family history. Finally, she complied. . . . and guess what? Tests revealed that my levels are elevated–gasp! I must admit this result annoyed me more than anything else. . . I mean, I eat a plant-based diet! I exercise regularly! I drink green tea ever day! My dad is 91 and in perfect health!! Why did I have to inherit my mom’s genes in that area? Et cetera, et cetera.
At the same time, I do suffer from several conditions that cause chronic inflammation. . . . definitely part of the problem. Not to mention that stress is a crucial factor that can also increase CRP levels.
[Quick--grab a big spoonful of this and lower those stress levels!]
Of course, my naturopath’s first words about this situation were, “Now, don’t get all stressed about it [she's obviously gotten to know me a bit by now]–there is a lot we can do to combat the genetic component here.” Aside from the need for stress reduction (must. get. back. to. meditation. daily.) and increasing my exercise (my regimen has definitely suffered since I pulled a tendon in my foot and haven’t been up to walking as much), she suggested taking turmeric (for general artery health and anti-inflammatory effects) as well as using lecithin (ditto). Well, I can do that. (In fact, you may have noticed that I added lecithin to my Veggie-Full Sweet Smoothie a while back).
While lecithin is a major component of most cell membranes and a key factor in heart health, it’s important to note that not all lecithin is created equal. In fact, there seems to be a bit of controversy about it on the web, with proponents on both sides of the issue. Whether pro or con, everyone seems to agree that if you do use it, you must avoid GMO soy at all costs, and that the granular form is superior. I use NOW granules.
What lecithin does in prepared or packaged food is create a rich, creamy, emulsified texture (though that type of lecithin is usually genetically modified). I tried this pudding without, and while it’s still very tasty, the lecithin is what elevated the mixure from “puree” to “pudding.” I’d highly recommend giving it a try if you can. The pudding is also super-quick to make (in fact, I daresay it takes even less time to prepare than Mr. Cosby’s instant variety).
While I may need to be more careful about what I eat from now on, it doesn’t seem so bad when I can enjoy desserts like this one, with fiber, healthy fats and even a hit of protein in every serving.
Gee, I think I’m feeling better already.
How about you? Have any of you tried lecithin? Are you in the “yea” camp, or the “nay”?
You won’t believe how rich, creamy, and pudding-like this tastes; I suspect partly because of the lecithin granules. The roasted kabocha and walnut butter combination creates a surprisingly butterscotchy flavor, too.
1 cup (240 ml) kabocha squash puree, from a baked kabocha squash*
3/4 cup (180 ml) unsweetened coconut milk beverage, or plain or vanilla almond milk (you may need less milk if using almond)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) white chia seeds
1 Tbsp (15 ml) lecithin granules
2 Tbsp (30 ml) Walco-Nut Butter (or use almond, cashew, macadamia or sunflower seed butter)**
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
15-25 drops plain or vanilla pure stevia liquid, or 1/8 tsp (.5 ml) pure stevia powder
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix (a food processor is not suitable, as the lecithin granules won’t dissolve). May be eaten immediately, but best if refrigerated at least 4 hours until very cold. Top with coconut whipped cream before serving, if desired. Makes 4 servings. Will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for 3 days.
*Note 1: I baked my squash at 400F (200C) for about an hour, then scooped out the seeds and scraped the flesh out from the skin (some people eat the kabocha skin; I’m not a fan. Though The Girls love it.) You could try this recipe with other orange squashes such as Butternut, or even sweet potatoes, but I can’t guarantee the flavor will be comparable.
**Note 2: If you use another nut butter or a seed butter, add 1 tsp (5 ml) lucuma powder or 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) butterscotch extract to achieve the same flavor.
*no, of course it’s not dairy butter, silly! The “butter” comes from “butterscotch,” which is what these babies taste like to me. I could have called them “berryscotch,” but that sounded too much like an alcoholic beverage.
Two posts in one day–am I mad?? No, just behind on my posting (as usual)–and I really, really wanted to tell you about A Gluten Free Holiday VI earlier today. So think of this as “Part II” of that post.
The holiday season is definitely upon us. Twitter is all a-twitter with messages about holiday shopping, tree decorating, and cookie baking. Blogs highlight amazing holiday meals and gift lists. The snow is making its inexorable journey to earth (wah, boo hoo), the temperatures are plummeting (sob, boo hoo HOO), and the general aura of holiday madness has permeated kitchens, living rooms, department stores and online retailers alike.
And what do I want more than anything at this time of year?
Take time to reflect and plan for the upcoming new year? (if I can find the time).
“Yes,” to all of the above. . . but that’s only a part of the answer. More than anything at this time of year, this gal’s mind turns to. . . . food!
When I think, “holiday,” my mind is flooded with childhood memories of the holiday season in our home. Mom clad in her pink polka-dot apron, cheerfully standing by the stove stirring mysterious vats of bubbling sauces or soups. And later in the day, still stirring. And then later, some mixing and some rolling. . . some cookie-cutting and some baking–not so cheerful now–and more stirring. . . . on her feet all day, wiping the sweat from her brow as she endures the rising steam and her ankles begin to swell to the size of wine barrels. . . .not having time to actually join us at the table as she weaves in and out of the kitchen, proffering platters of holiday fare to the rest of us at the table.
Oh, and the distinctive aroma of chicken grease and charred edges of kugel wafting across the room, Mom racing to get it out of the oven before it is completely ruined. A chaotic race to set the table, waiting to the last minute so there’s no time to iron the linen tablecloth or check the glasses for waterstains before the rest of the family arrives. My sisters and I arguing over who gets the last pickle, or who geos the biggest piece of chicken, or who gets the end piece of the casserole; and really arguing over who gets the most icing on their slice of cake. Eating too much, drinking too much eggnog, gorging on the six plates of cookies, cake, and chocolate, pigging out on all the foods that we’re never allowed to eat any other time of year–then plopping onto my parents’ bed to watch TV (theirs was the only room with a television), stomachs gurgling and heaving as we suppress the urge to upchuck it all and relieve the agony that is the holiday meal. . . .
Ah, yes, the holidays. Nothing like those childhood memories!
Obviously, I’ve learned a thing or two about eating since then. Miraculously, and even with our dysfunctional holidays, I never lost my love of throwing a big holiday dinner–including those desserts at the end of it. Of course, these days my confections are vegan, gluten free, sugar free, and (mostly) organic and whole-foods based. But you know what? I think that I cherish them even more precisely for that reason.
These bars are a cross between a cake and a blondie–hence the name “cake bars.” They’re light and tender, and the flavor is reminiscent of butterscotch. I’ve now made them on three separate occasions: first, with cranberries, then raspberries, and this time, blueberries. All were terrific. ”This tastes like a regular cake,” the HH remarked–his highest form of compliment.
If you’re looking for a dessert that’s a bit less indulgent than all the other offerings over the holidays yet still satisfying to your sweet tooth, this is the recipe for you. The bars make a great, light finish to an otherwise over-the-top holiday meal. Oh, and they just happen to be vegan, gluten free and low glycemic.
These are my contribution to A Gluten Free Holiday VI: Desserts, hosted this week by Amy–the brains behind the whole event! Amy made a decadent Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake. To see her recipe and to enter to win one of SIX autographed cookbooks, check out Amy’s post.
If you’d like to check out all of the “A Gluten Free Holiday” posts, here’s the lineup:
Use whichever berries you have on hand, or throw in some chocolate chips if you’re okay with those. I like cranberries for a totally festive option, but any combination of blueberry, cranberry, raspberry or strawberry would work. The ingredient list may look long, but this comes together very easily–it’s all blended in the food processor. Have no fear!–you won’t be sorry!
1 pear, cored (no need to peel)
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut or palm sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) natural smooth hazelnut butter (this contributes to the butterscotch flavor, but you could use cashew, almond, or sunflower instead)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) sesame tahini
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla rice, soy or almond milk
2 tsp (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp (1 ml) rum or butterscotch extract, optional
15-20 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1/3 cup (80 ml) light buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) lucuma powder (or use more buckwheat flour, or carob)
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, blueberries, raspberries or a combination
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8-1/2 inch (22 cm) square pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
Purée the pear in the food processor until smooth; you should have about 1/2 cup (120 ml) purée. Add the coconut sugar, hazelnut butter, tahini, oil, flaxseeds, milk, lemon juice, vanilla, rum extract and stevia and blend until smooth. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour, coconut flour, lucuma powder (if using), xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the liquid mixture from the processor and stir to blend well (it will be very thick–too thick to pour). Gently mix in the berries as best as you can.
Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan (it may take a bit of work) and bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until puffed on top, golden brown and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Makes 20-25 bars. May be frozen.
Look! It’s Ricki at the Vegetarian Food Fair again!
Nope, I didn’t take a spin in the Time Tunnel. Nope, I don’t have a twin sister who demonstrated a recipe at another Veg Food Fair this weekend. Nope, I haven’t figured out how to implement Einstein’s theory of relativity and traveled back in time. And nope, you did not unwittingly ingest some strange form of hallucinogen, which is now showing its effects in this blog post.
This post is simply a means to re-post last week’s Butterscotch Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries recipe, which was lost when a *&%$!!! hacker broke into my blog site and hijacked the page for a few days. I contacted my service provider and they cleared it up–minus a couple of entries (and minus all your wonderful comments about the Food Fair–sniff, boo hoo!).
I’ll post another recipe tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are those blondies again. And nope, I didn’t eat them this week, either.
These are a favorite dessert in our house. They are rich-tasting, chewy, and the combination of rice syrup and maple syrup mimics a butterscotch flavor extremely well. Use the suggested cranberries and chocolate chips, or any of the variations, below.
1 cup (140 g) light spelt flour
3/4 cup (90 g) barley flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1/3 cup (80 ml) brown rice syrup
1/3 cup (80 ml) pure maple syrup
1/3 cup (80 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
1 Tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp (1 ml) rum or butterscotch flavoring (optional)
1/2 cup (100 g) non-dairy chocolate chips
1/3 cup dried tart cherries (45 g) or cranberries (40 g)
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8” (20 cm) square pan with parchment paper, or grease well and then flour the pan (flouring is essential, as the blondies tend to stick to the bottom of the pan without the parchment).
In a medium bowl, sift together the spelt flour, barley flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the brown rice syrup, maple syrup, oil, vanilla and flavoring (if using) until well blended. Gently stir in the chips and cherries.
Pour the dry mixture over the wet and stir to blend. You will have a fairly thick and sticky batter. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating pan about halfway through, until a tester inserted in the center comes out just barely clean (a moist crumb or two is fine). Take care not to overbake, or these will dry out! The batter will fall a little as it cools; this is as it should be. Allow to cool completely in pan before cutting into squares. Makes 16 squares. May be frozen.
Variations: use 1/3 cup each pistachios (or nut of choice) and dried cranberries, or replace the cranberries with raisins and add about 2 tsp (10 ml) freshly grated orange zest.
I have to admit that I was never much of a pie person until very recently.
“I mean, really,” I would ask pie-lovers, “What is it if not just an oddly-shaped fruit (or veggie) sandwich? Apples and cinnamon between two layers of crust. Blueberries between two layers of crust. Pumpkin between two layers of crust.” Bah.
Oh, but that was just my cynical self, the one with pie envy, talking. Once I learned to produce a truly great crust, all my counter-crust sentiments dissolved, like butter under your fingers.
Traditional pastry, it seems, relies on the unique chemistry between cold fat and dry flour, cut into little bullets of butter or lard that subsequently melt and expand while baking, thereby creating pockets of air space. If you’re not using solid fat in the mix, the crust simply doesn’t work out the same way, even if you DO refrigerate it; it just never achieves the same degree of tender flakiness. As a result, I never had much success with pie crust. And because I don’t use margarines, the option of Earth Balance isn’t a possibility for me, either.
Every time I used to attempt a pie, I’d end up feeling a little like Jan, the “less-than” sister of the Brady Bunch: all I could do was clench my fists and wail, ”Crust, Crust, Crust!!”
Well, once I discovered vegan baking and nut-based crusts, those floury flakes lost their ability to bully this baker! Even though I don’t make them very often, I now truly enjoy a good vegan pie, and the crust is just as appealing to me as the filling (though I still favor non-fruit fillings).
After experimenting with various combinations of ingredients, I was completely euphoric to discover that a mixture of ground nuts and oats, with a healthy sprinkling of flour added in, served as an ideal base for vegan pie crust. With that discovery in hand, there was no stopping me! First, I made variations on traditional fruit-filled versions; then I moved on to explore pumpkin or sweet potato fillings; finally, I graduated to the much-loved vegan chocolate mousse and other “cheesecake” fillings. But what next? (“How about a dog-friendly pie, Mum? You know we love yourcrust!”)
Well, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am either blessed or cursed with the strange ability to remember numbers of all types–phone numbers or addresses that I’ve encountered once, weird statistics (like, did you know that 1 in 3 Americans can’t properly decode a bus schedule?), or single numerals from something I learned long ago (for instance, all I now recall from high school chemistry, a course in which I excelled at the time, is Avogadro’s Number: 6.02 x 1023 ). Similarly, I do remember that Pi is 3.14 (more or less)–though of course, I’ve never had a single occasion to make use of that fact.
Except for now! As it turns out, Kitchen Parade is hosting a Pie/Pi event this month: “Pi Day: Recipes for Homemade Pie.” Well, that suited me just fine, as I’m now happy to participate with both types of “pie/pi.” And I immediately thought of the perfect filling for my entry. (“Yay! A pie for us! What a great Mum!”)
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was recently fortunate enough to spend a week testing out my new cookbook, Vegan Express by Nava Atlas, and fixed my sights on the very last recipe in the book, Butterscotch Mousse Pie. Butterscotch is one of my favorite flavors after chocolate–and guess what? This pie has both! Soft and airy, the filling is a cross between a mousse and a custard, with a butterscotch flavor well represented by brown rice syrup and butterscotch extract. It was a big hit with my HH , who is normally a cow’s dairy kind of guy. (“But Mum. . . you know we can’t have chocolate. . . Aw, Mum, crust, crust, crust!”)
Nava has kindly allowed me to reprint the recipe here, so I’m going to copy it verbatim from the book (with any adjustments I made in square brackets beside the original instructions). I gussied it up a bit with my own version of whipped cream (the recipe for which I’ll post anon), so hope you like it!
To make the entire pie gluten-free, just use a GF pie crust; the filling and topping are both already gluten free.
Butterscotch Mousse Pie
Nava notes: “As I mentioned in Butterscotch Apples, I adore this seductive extract. If you do too, the scent of the pie as it bakes and cools will drive you mad. And I can almost guarantee that the rich flavor won’t disappoint. You can find good-quality graham-cracker crusts in natural foods stores or the natural foods section of supermarkets.”
Makes one 9-inch pie. Six to eight servings.
One 16-ounce tub silken tofu [I used an equivalent amount of firm-silken Mori-Nu]
1/3 cup cashew butter
1/3 cup brown rice syrup [I used a bit more, as we preferred it a bit sweeter--about 1/2 cup]
2 tsp. butterscotch extract
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
One 9-inch vegan chocolate graham cracker crust [I used my own crust--recipe below]
2 Tbsp. dairy-free chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. rice milk
1. Prepare pie crust if making from scratch.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
3. Combine the tofu, cashew butter, rice syrup, butterscotch extract and vanilla in a food processor and process until creamy and completely smooth. Pour the mixture into the crust.
4. Combine the chocolate chips and rice milk in a small saucepan and heat gently. Whisk together until smooth. Or, combine the chocolate chips and rice milk in a small bowl, heat in a microwavae for about 45 seconds or until melted, then whisk together.
5. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the pie. Using a spoon [I used a knife], gently create swirl patterns.
6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the pie feels set in the center. Cool competely, then serve. If time allows, chill before serving. [I chilled the pie about 2 hours before topping with "cream" and serving. ]
Buttery, Rich Oat-Nut Pie Crust
This version, while unlike a traditional pastry crust, is nevertheless rich-tasting, and crumbles delicately, melting beautifully on the tongue.
(“We do love this crust, Mum! Maybe just a taste of this part–??”)
1/2 cup (55 g.) whole barley flour
1/4 cup (60 ml.) ground flax seeds
1/2 cup (120 ml.) whole rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/2 cup (60 g.) walnut pieces
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2-3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml.) sunflower or other light-tasting oil
In a food processor, combine the flour, flax, oats, nuts and salt until you have a uniform, fine meal (there shouldn’t be any detectable bits of nut in it, though you may see bits of oats).
Drizzle the maple syrup and oil evenly over the top, then pulse a few times just until well-blended and the mixture comes together. It will be a soft dough, a little sticky, but not so sticky that it adheres to your hand when you pat it into the pie plate (if it’s too soft or sticky, sprinkle with another tablespoon or two of flour and mix in by hand).
Press the dough into a lightly greased 9″ pie plate and flute sides if desired. Dock the crust by poking holes with a fork evenly over the surface.
For pre-baked crusts: Bake for 15-25 minutes at 375F (190 C), until golden brown throughout.
For crusts that will be baked with the pie: prebake for 10 minutes at 350F (180C), until the crust begins to puff a bit and appears dry on the top.