Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why Didn't I Think of That?
Pumpkin Pie Coconut Chai!

As soon as there's a chill in the air, I start yearning for hot herbal tea. My favorite blends include lavender-lemon and holy basil-spearmint before bedtime. The holy basil helps me sleep blissfully through the night, despite a snoring husband and perimenopause.

I also adore chai tea, and Mountain Rose Herbs makes an incredible red roiboos herbal chai called Firefly Chai. When I read a post this evening on the So Delicious Facebook fan page that mentioned Pumpkin Chai Tea, it sounded so delicious, I just had to try making my own recipe. It was so yummy, I finished the cup before I finished typing these first two paragraphs!


1/4 cup pumpkin purée
2 Tbs So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer (I used French Vanilla)
1 cup brewed chai tea
1 tsp sweetener of choice (optional—but I used agave)
dash of nutmeg


While brewing your tea, mix the pumpkin and creamer in a small cup and heat in a microwave for 2 minutes. Pour the tea mixture into the pumpkin (or visa versa), add sweetener, stir, sprinkle with nutmeg, and enjoy!

P.S. I'm excited that my friend, Millie, has invited me to be a guest on her blog with my favorite holiday cookie recipe! Watch for my Rosewater-Glazed Lemony Cranberry Cookies on Nuestra Cena next Friday!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Now, Dr. Cow?

Let the wine and cheese party begin! I've been talking about how good Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses sound for quite a long while, so it was about time I tried them for myself. I'm not kidding when I say "holy cow!" The innovative folks at Dr. Cow have made the art of making vegan cheese even more flavory and savory. With textures, mouthfeel, and flavors that are remarkably reminiscent of aged dairy cheeses, Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses are sure to make the phrase, "how will I live without cheese?" obsolete.


As soon as I got my package home, I couldn't wait to rip open the little compostable corn container of Cashew Cream Cheese. Its pearly-white loveliness beckoned to me from under the peekaboo lid. Dr. Cow's Cashew Cream Cheese just seemed to be crying out for me to try it with Dr. Kracker crackers. What a perfect pairing—it was love at first bite! ♥♥♥ Smooth, creamy, rich, and delicious. Everything a girl could ever want from a cream cheese. And yes, I do think it would be very geshmak (that's "tasty" in Yiddish) on a cinnamon-raisin bagel!

Dr. Cow's Cashew and Blue Green Cheese is strikingly colorful in its mold-colored rind and has many other characteristics of dairy bleu cheese, like its sharp and somewhat salty taste. But happily, it doesn't share dairy bleu cheese's distinctive smell. It would be delicious with pears, raisins, and walnuts. And I cannot wait to crumble some into my next salad!

The caramel-colored Aged Macadamia Nut Cheese is very soft and spreadable. With just the faintest hint of herbs des Provence, it reminded me of a cross between Reblochon and Morbier or even German Quark. (Yes, before I knew better, I very much used to enjoy my cheeses!)

Dr. Cow's Aged Cashew & Brazil Nut Cheese surprised me with its delightfully smoky flavor, and the blonde-colored Aged Cashew Nut Cheese was both pleasantly mellow and wonderfully sharp. But my favorite cheese of all was the Aged Cashew & Hemp Seed Cheese. Its texture was firm but creamy, and it had a decidedly sharp bite. Its creaminess was the perfect match for some crunchy apples from my happy apple tree! 

So, what's the secret? How do the brilliant folks at Dr. Cow make their 100% raw organic artisan cheeses taste so very much like cheese made from cow's milk? It's simple. (Well, it's simple to say. I'm not at all sure that it's simple to do). They use the same process that is used to make traditional dairy-based cheese: They prepare a nut curd using some of their own home-made acidophilus (friendly bacteria) and a little royal pink Himalayan salt. And it's even more wonderful that they do it without adding any preservatives, stabilizers, artificial ingredients, or additives of any kind. While these cheeses are made with whole-food ingredients, they're not low in fat—after all, they're made from nuts. Now you may be thinking, "What's a McDougall girl like Gail doing eating this stuff?" Well, Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses come in dainty packages, which makes it easy to enjoy them as delectable little indulgences. Like coconut milk ice cream, cashew whipped cream, and so many other decadent treats, they're a wonderful way to occasionally add some lovely flavor, texture, and excitement to your meals.

Hopefully by now you're asking yourself where can you buy all of this deliciousness. Check out Dr. Cow's store locator to see if there's a store near you that carries them. If not, you can order them online directly from Dr. Cow or from Vegan Essentials or Pangea. You can even order them online in Canada from upayanaturals.

Now you can tell all of your friends who say they can't give up dairy because they can't imagine living without cheese that there are some really great new alternatives. Challenge them to kick the dairy habit for a month. After thirty days, ask them how they feel. (You know they're going to say they've never felt better.) Then invite them to slowly start trying some of the cheese alternatives out there. (Some guidance here would be a good idea. After only thirty days, you may not want to start screaming about the cheese-like joys of adding nooch to everthing.) You might even buy your friend a little "congratulations gift" of Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheese to help celebrate their dairy-free month and encourage them to keep on going! Here's my list of favorite vegan cheeses in no order of preference, because each one brings something uniquely delicious to the table:

Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses
Ste Martaen Cheeses
Nacho Mom's Ultimate Vegan Queso
Sunergia Foods Soy Bleu and Soy Feta Cheeses 
2014 Update: Sunergia Foods Soy Bleu and Soy Feta are now from VegCuisine
Daiya Deliciously Dairy-free Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheeses
Vegan Gourmet Cheese and Cream Cheese Alternatives
Wayfare Foods We Can't Say It's Cheese Hickory-Smoked Cheddar-Style Spread

What's your favorite?

Monday, October 04, 2010

I Was Looking for a Good Bar
and Found Great Stuff, Instead!

Did you know that there are four types of snack bars? (I didn't.) Are they really all that different, or are these various appellations just marketing tools?

• Energy bars (aka "power" or "sports" bars), were created for marathoners to give them a portable, energy-boosting snack.

• Protein bars are basically just energy bars, but with added protein.

• Diet bars were designed as a meal replacement or snack for people who are dieting. Their calorie and nutritional content varies, depending on the type of weight-loss plan they're intended for.

• Meal replacement bars are intended to fulfill the nutritional value of a low-calorie, but still often high-fat, meal.

To me, they're all just "snack bars," something to you can reach for quickly, and a convenient way to obtain some calories or quiet a growling tummy when traveling, at work, or anytime real food is not available. This means I generally only eat them when hiking or on an airline flight. For my husband, who cannot seem to eat enough food to get the calories he needs, they're a quick, easy way to get some more calories into him in between meals. So he really depends on them much more than I do, and I'm always on the prowl for the next tasty vegan snack bar. Mark will eat one just about everyday, and he likes to eat one specific kind of bar at a time. After a few months he will grow tired of them, and I am off in search of his next replacement bar.

We've been through quite a few of them. Not in any particular order, we've consumed:

Raw Revolution Bars
Pure Bars
Lara Bars
Pro Bars
Luna Bars
Vega Bars
Prana Bars
Ruth's HempPower Bars
Macro Greens
Smart Monkey Bars
Optimum Bars
Just Great Stuff

The very cake-like Optimum Bars are my person favorite, as they seem more like dessert than a snack bar. But as I said, I don't eat them very often. Most recently, Mark has transitioned from Raw Revolution Bars to Just Great Stuff Bars, and my taste buds very much approve of his newest choice!

I love the raw goodness of Lara Bars and Pure Bars, but Just Great Stuff Bars seem to raise the flavor level up a few notches. Betty Lou's, Inc. makes Just Great stuff Bars, and I've found them at stores in three varieties: Organic Fruit & Veggie, Organic Superberry Açai, and Organic Cacao Açai.

See how fruity, nutty, and chewy-looking the Strawberry Açai bar is:

And now I see that they make a fourth flavor, Organic Chocolate Dream Greens, made with dark chocolate, dates, raisins, bananas, cashews, carrot, spinach, kale, and broccoli sprouts. That sounds like a pretty powerful nutritional punch, for a little 180-calorie snack bar! Since I haven't yet seen these in stores, I'll likely be ordering them online!

Not everything Betty Lou's makes is vegan, but they do have some other wonderful vegan snacks, many of which are great for kids, like their Organic Hippy Happy Apple Harmony Bars, (don't you love that name?), and their Gluten-free Strawberry Fruit Bars, which are low in fat and taste like delicious oversized strawberry Fig Newtons.

I also really like their North Shore Smackers—dark chocolate and almond butter patties wrapped around oats, crispy rice, and spirulina, and sweetened with agave and rice syrup taste more like dessert than a snack!

You can order their entire vegan lineup right here.

I was looking for a good bar, but I found Just Great Stuff and a whole lot more! Have you tried Just Great Stuff Bars yet? What's your favorite snack bar?