Cultured Creamy Cashew Spread

Cashews are one of my favorite fats to use during a fast. Of course they’re great to use any day of the year, but I’m especially happy to have cashew-based dairy substitutes on oil free days since most store bought products contain added oil. This Creamy Cashew Spread is currently in heavy rotation on my breakfast menu, it’s perfect to use instead of cream cheese on bagels or toast. It also makes a great dip for veggies, and I used it to dot vegan mac n cheese for extra cheesiness, with great results!

Cultured Creamy Cashew Spread | Orthodox and Vegan
I used homemade coconut yogurt for extra flavor. You don’t *have* to use it, but I highly recommend it. If you skip this ingredient you will just need to add a little extra water, but it won’t have quite the same flavor, and may not thicken up as well (although you could leave it to drip in a nut milk bag while it ferments to help it firm up better).

Cultured Creamy Cashew Spread | Orthodox and Vegan
Cultured Creamy Cashew Spread
2 C raw cashews*
1 C water
1/4 C Cultured Coconut Yogurt
1-2 tsp sea salt, to taste**
2 probiotic capsules, contents of

Add first four ingredients to blender (salt starting at 1 tsp, and adding another 1/4 tsp at a time as needed), and blend until smooth. Open probiotic capsules and empty contents into the cream, blending again to incorporate. Place the cashew cream in a sterile glass jar, and fasten cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar with string or a rubber band. Let it sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, then replace cheesecloth with a tight fitting lid and store in the fridge for 1 – 2 weeks. The spread will get a little thicker after a day or two in the fridge.

It is normal for a skin to form on top during fermentation – and it is totally edible! However, if you do happen to see mold appear or if the spread gets an “off” smell, dump it and start over.

Note: 2 teaspoons of salt is quite salty, but I love it this way on my German fitness bread. It’s probably best not to put in 2 tsp all at once, though.

*Soaking the cashews will make them softer for blending, and also help make certain nutrients more easily absorbed. You can soak them for 30 minutes to overnight in the fridge, then drain & rinse before using. I have been known to skip this step completely when I didn’t bother to plan ahead.

**Iodized salts and salts containing anti-caking agents should be avoided when fermenting foods.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Spice Cream

The nights are getting cooler and the days shorter. Fall is in the air, and It’s Time to Get BASIC! Pumpkin Spice season is officially here, as evidenced by all the pumpkin spice-related posts that began clogging my Facebook feed last week. I was planning to save this recipe for later since I already had something in mind for today; however, after sharing the picture below in my What Vegans Eat album, some of my friends felt they couldn’t live another week without Pumpkin Spice Cream 🙂 I’d hate to spend the rest of my life being haunted by Pumpkin Spice Latte-obsessed spirits, so here is the recipe by popular demand!

4 Ingredient 5 Minute Pumpkin Spice Cream | Orthodox and Vegan
Pumpkin Spice Cream
1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree or 1.5 C homemade pumpkin puree
1 (14oz) can coconut cream (use only the white cream)
3/4 – 1 C date paste, to taste
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend* (or see DIY pumpkin spice below)

Place all ingredients in a large bowl in the order in which I have specified, being sure to scoop out just the white cream from the can of coconut cream – the clear liquid can be used to replace oil in another recipe. Then WHIP IT GOOD, and that’s it! Rejoice, you have Pumpkin Spice Cream! It should keep nicely in the fridge for approximately 7 days. I do like to chill mine before eating it so it thickens up and gets extra creamy. You can eat it on its own for a healthy sweet treat (just try not to eat it all at once), add it to smoothies (recipe coming soon), or add a couple tablespoons to your coffee – seriously, I added it to coffee yesterday, and it was wonderful.

*If you don’t have a spice blend, no worries – you can make your own for this recipe by combining:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmet
1/4 tsp ground cloves

How will you use your Pumpkin Spice Cream? Comment below with your awesome ideas, I’d love to hear from you!

Classic Magic Bars

Happy Friday!! I promised you a recipe for Magic Bars, and a vegan Magic Bars recipe you shall have.

Magic Bars, My Grandmother's Recipe | Orthodox and Vegan
This is Tete’s recipe card, I use a combination of this and the original Eagle Brand recipe. All we need to do is swap out a couple ingredients. For the sweetened condensed milk, you can use any non-dairy version. I bought Nature’s Charm Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk, but you could also make your own. Here’s another option with soy milk.

Sadly, I recently discovered Ghirardelli started putting milk in their semisweet chocolate chips, but don’t worry – Trader Joe’s has vegan chocolate chips for $2!

Tete makes Magic Bars with a corn flake crust, but since I didn’t have any on hand I went with the traditional graham cracker crust.
(Honey is a perfectly Lenten ingredient, but to make these vegan you’ll want a honey-free graham cracker such as Nabisco’s Original flavor)

What I Ate Wednesday: Magic Bars | Orthodox and Vegan
Magic Bars
1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs (8-9 squares)
1/2 C margarine, melted
1 C chopped walnuts
1 1/2 C chocolate chips*
1 1/2 C flaked coconut*
1 1/3 C non-dairy sweetened condensed milk (or as close as your can is to that amount!)

Preheat oven to 350.
Pour into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over margarine. Add chopped walnuts evenly over graham cracker crumbs. Next, add an even layer of chocolate chips, and top evenly with flaked coconut. Now drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over on top. EVENLY.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and beautiful. Allow to cool at least 20 minutes before cutting (I like to let mine cool completely).

*Optional: After pouring on the sweetened condensed milk, you may wish to lightly sprinkle on additional chocolate chips covered with more flaked coconut. Whether you wish to reserve some chocolate chips & coconut for this purpose or simply use more is up to you.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich for Grownups: Aged English Smoked Farmhouse

No matter how old I get, my love for a perfectly browned and crispy grilled cheese sandwich never fades. It seems kind of silly, but even when I found a fancy cheese like Miyoko’s Creamery Aged English Smoked Farmhouse on sale at Whole Foods, the first thing I thought of was making a grilled cheese sandwich!

Grown-up Grilled Cheese with Miyoko's Smoked Farmhouse | Orthodox and Vegan

The round thing that looks kind of like a burger is the smoked cheese!

I grabbed a variety of olives and teeny tiny pickles from the olive bar, and Tofurky Bologna slices. Believe it or not, before I went vegan, I used to love fried bologna and cheese sandwiches (and I also really loved spam). So I think even when I eat vegan junk food it’s a big step up from the way I ate before 😀

The cheese from Miyoko’s Creamery is hardly junk food, though. It’s made with cashews, chickpea miso, nutritional yeast, salt, and cultures to ferment it. Miyoko describes it as “Semi-hard with rich, smoky, sharpness that lingers.”

It’s so good I could just slice it up and eat it on its own. Luckily I saved some for this sandwich, though 🙂

Grown-up Grilled Cheese with Miyoko's Smoked Farmhouse | Orthodox and Vegan
Grilled Cheese Sandwich for When You Adult
2 slices of bread
Approx 1oz Miyoko’s Creamery Aged English Smoked Farmhouse, sliced*
5 slices Tofurky Bologna
1/4 C sliced olives
margarine
garlic powder

Lightly spread margarine on one side of each slice of bread, and sprinkle that side with garlic powder. Place one slice margarine side down on a skillet. Layer on half the sliced cheese, olives, bologna, remaining cheese, and top with the second slice of bread margarine side up.
Cook over medium heat until bread is browned, then very carefully flip the sandwich and brown the other side.

*You don’t have to weigh the cheese, just make sure it’s enough to cover each slice of bread.

Cashew cheese doesn’t get gooey when it melts, but it does soften and is delicious warmed, no matter if the box says it’s best served cold or at room temp!

What’s your favorite way to dress up a grilled cheese sandwich?

Cleansing Vegetable Soup

Vegan Cleansing Vegetable Soup Recipe
This is the other dish I brought to the Lenten potluck earlier this week. I looked through a bunch of detox soup recipes online, then used the ideas to throw together this gorgeous green vegetable soup. It’s packed with veggies, easy to make, and this recipe makes a large pot so you could eat it for days…I would have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I were more disciplined.

Cleansing Vegetable Soup
2 pounds dried split peas
2 heads broccoli
1 pound carrots
1 pound celery
1 bunch green onion
1/4 C peeled & chopped turmeric (or more to taste)
2 bunches kale
6 C vegetable broth (homemade or high quality store bought)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
optional: 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Cook split peas according to instructions, allowing them to get very tender and soft (even a little mushy!).
Meanwhile, chop all the vegetables except kale, and add to large pot with turmeric and vegetable broth – include the leafy celery and carrot tops, they add a great flavor and are very nutritious. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat, and simmer until veggies are tender and falling apart, adding salt and pepper to taste (and nutritional yeast, if using). Tear kale from stems and add to veggies. Simmer until tender.
Let the vegetables and split peas cool slightly, then blend in batches – I did a few ladles-full of vegetables along with a big scoop of split peas in each batch. You can blend it all until completely smooth, or leave some of the veggies in chunks.

Vegan Cleansing Vegetable Soup Recipe
At home, I serve the soup with nutritional yeast sprinkled on top and finished with Mediterranean black lava salt (I love finding fancy salts at Home Goods). The split peas bulk it up and make it pretty filling on its own, but it would also be wonderful over rice or potatoes. I bought a container of rice with chickpeas from the monastery, it had bits of onion and dill in it, and it was delicious with the soup mixed in.

This soup is oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day…unless you accidentally grab a vegetable broth with safflower oil in it, which is a totally unnecessary ingredient and why you should make your own broth. But it is better to eat the soup than let it go to waste 🙂

Pizza Week 2016, Day 2: Tomato Basil VioLife on Ultra Thin Crust

Vegan Tomato Basil VioLife Pizza
Tonight’s pizza: the lazy woman’s Tortilla Pizza, smothered in Tomato Basil VioLife cheese, topped with thinly sliced onion and tomato, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with nutritional yeast. Tortilla pizzas remind me of the ultra thin crust pizzas I had in Rome, it made it easy to eat an entire pizza yourself. In this case, I ate two! To get a nice crunchy crust, I placed the tortillas under the broiler, turning every so often until both sides were nice and firm, and just starting to brown.

When the tortillas are firm enough that you could add the toppings and stick your pizza straight on the rack without fear of it falling apart, it’s ready! I skipped the sauce and went straight for the cheese since the cheese has a tomato flavor anyway. And I didn’t use any seasonings because the basil really comes through beautifully.
Besides having a wonderful flavor, the olive oil helps the cheese melt. VioLife isn’t the meltiest vegan cheese out there, but under the broiler it gets bubbly and soft. I only put two torn up slices on the first pizza, but on the second pizza (pictured) I did four. Yes, I’m admitting to eating six pieces of this cheese in one meal. It’s that good.

How is your Pizza Week shaping up?

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich

Yes, I am still celebrating Pizza Week, but I’ll be posting my pizza tonight. This morning I want to share a review of VeganEgg by Follow Your Heart. I’ve been purchasing it on Amazon since I can get free shipping with Prime (thanks to my brother for sharing access to his Prime account – did you know you can share access with multiple people??).

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich
It was selling out fast in the beginning. When I first heard about it, it was out of stock at every online retailer I checked, and I have yet to find it locally. After a week it became available, so I ordered two cartons and sent one to a friend. When my carton was running out, it was out of stock again! So a couple weeks later when it became available, I ordered four cartons all for me 😀 I used it to make scrambled eggs, omelets, a quiche-like dish, and even very experimental sunny side up eggs. I also did a very simple egg sandwich just because I love the taste of the VeganEgg with the VioLife herb cheese.

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich
For the sandwich, I poured the mixed VeganEgg into my skillet and let it cook over medium heat until it was firm, then flipped it and cooked a couple minutes longer. I used a biscuit cutter to cut rounds of egg the size of my bagel (I have a lovely antique set with nesting rings of several sizes).

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich with VioLife
I put tons of margarine on both halves of the bagel – I’m not vegan for my health! (but you could sub olive oil or coconut oil sprinkled with a little salt)

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich with VioLife
Then add a slice or two of VioLife herb cheese. But if, like most people reading this, you are in the United States without access to VioLife (YET), try it with Follow Your Heart’s Garden Herb cheese slices. You could also add your favorite vegan deli slices or vegan bacon.

Does it taste like eggs? YES. Okay, I don’t really know firsthand because I can’t remember what eggs taste like, although the consistency seemed right and I thought the taste was familiar. I made a sort of a quiche dish for a dinner party (recipe coming soon) and told everyone up front what it was. They all said it was like eggs, but in case I ruined it by letting them in on the secret ingredient, someone arrived late and took a big scoop. “Mmmm, who brought the quiche?” “It’s VEGAN.” “WUT.” So yes, I think it’s really similar.

VeganEgg Tips
-The instructions say to mix the VeganEgg powder with ice cold water – and they mean it! Put some water in a glass with ice when you get started, and pop it in the freezer or fridge while prep everything else. Then strain the water when you pour it into the measuring cup.

-If whisking, pour the water in gradually. Start with just enough to make a paste, and whisk to break up any lumps. Add a little more water, whisk until smooth, etc.

-Whisk the heck out of it!

-You can add a bit more water than called for to get more bang for your buck with the same great eggy results. Play around to see what works for you.

-The powder has a very mild/bland flavor on its own because its meant to also be used for baking. Personally, I would never waste it on baking when there are so many cheap alternatives! But due to the mild taste for that reason, I definitely recommend adding kala namak black salt for a sulfurous taste. It’s up to you how much, I usually do about 4 shakes per serving. I also add 1 tsp nutritional yeast per serving.

Overall, yes, this is an expensive little carton of eggs, but it’s totally worth it for a special treat or a shared meal with non-vegans. And it’s super fun to experiment with!

Breakfast Pizza with VeganEgg

It’s here, guys – Pizza Week is HERE!!! And I got started bright and early with a breakfast pizza. Now, I have to admit I lied yesterday when I finished my VioLife post by saying I was off to get my pizza crust started. I went to a party, came home and slept on the couch, got up at 3 to clean the kitchen, and made the dough around 3:45am. I didn’t realize I was almost out of flour, and the only yeast in the pantry…expired in 2010! But I decided to try it anyway, maybe it was still okay………

Well, this morning I checked my lump of dough safely set aside in the draft-free oven. It was REALLY cold in that oven! And the dough hadn’t risen at all. But I was not deterred, I would just have a flatbread pizza, simple as that.

Vegan Breakfast Pizza with VeganEgg and VioLife Cheese
And if you don’t mind my saying so, I think it turned out pretty darn well. In fact, it is beautiful.

Anyway, you can use your favorite crust recipe or a store-bought crust, or try my old favorite recipe from a vintage TimeLife cookbook. As for the toppings…

Vegan Breakfast Pizza
Crust of choice
1/4 – 1/2 C chopped onion (to taste)
1/4 – 1/2 C chopped bell pepper (to taste)
One serving VeganEgg, prepared scrambled
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil
Garlic powder, to taste
VioLife Prosociano (Parmesan), or other favorite vegan cheese

Preheat oven to 500.
Saute onions and bell pepper in oil just until tender. Set aside.
Prepare scrambled VeganEgg, seasoned with salt and pepper.

If you’re using a homemade pizza dough, oil your pizza pan, roll out the dough to desired thickness, and place dough on greased pan. If you’re using store-bought, just stick the crust on the pan 🙂 Lightly drizzle crust/dough with olive oil and spread evenly. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Top with sauteed veggies and scrambled VeganEgg.

Bake for 5 – 10 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned. Remove from oven and immediately top with shaved Prosociano. If you’re in the US, we don’t have VioLife yet 🙁 But you can use your favorite vegan parm, mozzarella, nutritional yeast, or just skip it!

But seriously…as soon as VioLife is available here, you MUST try the Prosociano. It’s a hard cheese with a great salty, nutty, and slightly sharp flavor. I’m going to be so sad when it’s gone, who knows when I’ll be able to get my hands on more??? If you’re ever in Greece or the UK, I recommend pulling an I Love Lucy-type move to smuggle it home – put a hollow prego-belly on under your shirt, and fill it with VioLife.

More pizza to come all week, more VioLife reviews, and a proper VeganEgg review coming soon!!! Until then, enjoy your breakfast pizza!

Pizza Week 2016, Day 1: Breakfast Pizza

It’s here, guys – Pizza Week is HERE!!! And I got started bright and early with a breakfast pizza. Now, I have to admit I lied yesterday when I finished my VioLife post by saying I was off to get my pizza crust started. I went to a party, came home and slept on the couch, got up at 3 to clean the kitchen, and made the dough around 3:45am. I didn’t realize I was almost out of flour, and the only yeast in the pantry…expired in 2010! But I decided to try it anyway, maybe it was still okay………

Well, this morning I checked my lump of dough safely set aside in the draft-free oven. It was REALLY cold in that oven! And the dough hadn’t risen at all. But I was not deterred, I would just have a flatbread pizza, simple as that.

Vegan Breakfast Pizza with VeganEgg and VioLife Cheese
And if you don’t mind my saying so, I think it turned out pretty darn well. In fact, it is beautiful.

Anyway, you can use your favorite crust recipe or a store-bought crust, or try my old favorite recipe from a vintage TimeLife cookbook. As for the toppings…

Vegan Breakfast Pizza
Crust of choice
1/4 – 1/2 C chopped onion (to taste)
1/4 – 1/2 C chopped bell pepper (to taste)
One serving VeganEgg, prepared scrambled
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil
Garlic powder, to taste
VioLife Prosociano (Parmesan), or other favorite vegan cheese

Preheat oven to 500.
Saute onions and bell pepper in oil just until tender. Set aside.
Prepare scrambled VeganEgg, seasoned with salt and pepper.

If you’re using a homemade pizza dough, oil your pizza pan, roll out the dough to desired thickness, and place dough on greased pan. If you’re using store-bought, just stick the crust on the pan 🙂 Lightly drizzle crust/dough with olive oil and spread evenly. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Top with sauteed veggies and scrambled VeganEgg.

Bake for 5 – 10 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned. Remove from oven and immediately top with shaved Prosociano. If you’re in the US, we don’t have VioLife yet 🙁 But you can use your favorite vegan parm, mozzarella, nutritional yeast, or just skip it!

But seriously…as soon as VioLife is available here, you MUST try the Prosociano. It’s a hard cheese with a great salty, nutty, and slightly sharp flavor. I’m going to be so sad when it’s gone, who knows when I’ll be able to get my hands on more??? If you’re ever in Greece or the UK, I recommend pulling an I Love Lucy-type move to smuggle it home – put a hollow prego-belly on under your shirt, and fill it with VioLife.

More pizza to come all week, more VioLife reviews, and a proper VeganEgg review coming soon!!!

Unboxing: VioLife Cheese

I’ve been saving this bit of happy news for so long, I thought I was going to explode! But now that Cheesefare Week is upon us (and therefore, PIZZA WEEK!!!! Starting tomorrow, March 7), I can finally share. A few weeks ago I posted some tracking information on my facebook page and asked people to guess what was being delivered. You can bet I was checking the tracking multiple times a day, I was so excited…because…I was getting samples of VioLife vegan cheese, all the way from Greece! I made another silly little unboxing video so you can experience my joy.


This time I just completely drowned out my voice with the music, I really don’t add anything :p

VioLife Vegan Cheese
Originally I was going to save all this glorious cheese for Cheesefare week, but then I realized…this is a LOT of cheese! I don’t think I can eat it all by myself in one week. So I’ve already sampled some and have a few things to share. But I’ll also be trying it out on pizza all week long.

I hope you are all prepared for Pizza Week, and I hope some of you will join me in enjoying at least one piece of pizza every day until (Orthodox) Lent begins. I’m going to get my dough rising for pizza crust right now. See you tomorrow, for the first day of Pizza Week!