Monthly Archives: February 2012

Coconut Dream

I have been trying to use a non-dairy milk for a couple years now. I started with soy milk, which I did not love the taste of and later found it did not agree with me. I used almond milk for a period of time, but developed an intolerance for almonds. Rice milk tastes like liquid cardboard to me. Hemp milk has a strange taste. Finally, I found So Delicious coconut milk beverage to be a great milk alternative, because of the taste. I suggested it to a client who is a real foodie and although he liked it he pointed out that it was a little too thick or viscous. That was a good point that he made. The product gets even thicker if you don’t finish the box either in the large carton or the 946ml tetrapak very quickly.

While on Oahu, I looked for So Delicious and found Coconut Dream instead. I used it on my granola while I was there and really enjoyed the taste and texture of Coconut Dream. I looked for it when I came back to Toronto and found it at Sobeys. I have yet to find the unsweetened version yet to give it a fair comparison, but so far, the Coconut Dream original is ahead of the So Delicious original in terms of taste and texture. Coconut Dream also comes in a chocolate flavour, which is nice to have after a tough workout. Another difference to note is So Delicious is an organic product, while Coconut Dream is not. Both contain medium chain fatty acids, the special type of saturated fat that is found in coconut, which is easy to digest and utilized quickly in the body. The saturated fat found in coconut is different, because it is from a plant source and its chemical structure of a medium chain fatty acid is different than the long chain fatty acid that comprises saturated fat from animal sources.
The concept of having a coconut milk beverage and working out is pictured in an ad for So Delicious featuring America’s toughest trainer Jillian Michaels. I saw the ad in Bon Appetit magazine this fall, long after I started using the product. I had no idea who Jillian Michaels was, because I do not watch much television. The ad was a good one, because it stuck out in my mind. America’s toughest trainer seems a real claim to fame. A few weeks later, I recognized Jillian Michaels on the cover of her book, Unlimited (which was on sale), so I purchased and read the book. I will happy to review the book at another time.
Why try a non dairy milk? From observation, it seems that many people become less able to digest milk and dairy products as time goes by and/or exposure increases. The symptoms of being intolerant to milk and dairy products include gas, bloating, cramps and even diarrhea. To prevent such symptoms, having an alternative to milk can lower your intake of dairy products and minimize the possibility of developing intolerance. Another reason to try is the health benefits of a vegan diet, which includes lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Having a non dairy milk with your morning cereal and fruit makes your breakfast a vegan one, which is a great healthy meal idea to try.

Recipe: Hummus

Hummus is a delicious and healthy snack that is good to have anytime. Great choices for dippers include, endive, baby carrots, celery sticks, cucumber, grape tomatoes, baked chips, and high fibre crackers such as Finn Crisp. Pita wedges is a tasty classic pairing, but try to have just half a pita each serving.

Here is a recipe that was inspired by Keith Froggett’s recipe that was printed in the Globe and Mail last year. I cannot find my copy that I clipped from the paper or on the Scaramouche website. I do recall that he had said it was one of his most requested recipes. I can understand why, this hummus is delicious because of its purity of flavour. Note that this recipe does not contain tahini. Using the highest quality olive oil delivers the best flavour. I cook the chickpeas from dry myself, because I find this form of preparation eliminates the issue of gas.
1 cup dry chickpeas or one can
1 clove garlic, slivered
Juice of one lemon
1-2 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Soak chickpeas in a bowl full of water overnight. Cook on stovetop or in slow cooker until tender.
Place chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil into the bowl of the food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Store in a airtight container if there is any left, it will keep for up to a week.

Recipe: Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

Here is a recipe that I whipped up one afternoon last April when I was inspired by a book I had read, The Thrive Diet and by a young lady who was told me she was consuming too many delicious cupcakes from D’Lish. She wondered if they would make a vegan version, as her roommate was vegan and she also figured it might be healthier. I suppose a vegan version would eliminate butter/eggs in the cake and the dairy in the cream cheese frosting. However, a cupcake will most likely contain sugar, which is something we should consume in moderation.

D’Lish does make the best cupcakes I have had in Toronto. With the red velvet flavour being their most popular. D’Lish does a fantastic job of rotating the flavours each day of the week much like they do at Magnolia in New York. I would even dare say that I prefer the D’Lish red velvet cupcake to the one I had at Magnolia…
I discussed the health consciousness issue with the owner of D’Lish last year. The purity of the ingredients he uses and the final delicious product is of utmost importance. Of course, I agree that a small cupcake that is made with natural ingredients is simply a delightful treat.
If you are vegan or want to create a moist, tasty vegan cupcake (hard to tell when you eat it) as an alternative treat, give this recipe a try. I will admit was not as successful with a vegan cream cheese like frosting, so best wishes for that endeavour.
Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup flour with added bran
1/4 millet flour
1/2tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cocoa
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1tsp beet extract for colour (use food colouring if you would like)
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix together dry ingredients in a small bowl, set aside.
In another small bowl, mix together coconut milk and lemon juice.
In a large bowl, cream coconut oil and sugar together until well combined and somewhat fluffy with an electric mixer. Add cocoa, mix well. Add applesauce, vanilla and beet extract or food colouring, mix well.
Alternately add flour mixture and coconut milk mixture in 3 additions, mix well each time. Add baking soda and lemon juice together, mix well.
Spoon into paper lined tin. Bake for about 25 minutes or until toothpick is clean. Makes about 9 cupcakes.

Dessert Inspiration: Miette Cookbook

I had the pleasure of going to both locations of Miette in San Francisco last November. The Ferry Building location is more of a counter and display table of goodies while the store in Hayes Valley is a special experience in charm. Hence, the subtitle of their cookbook is recipes from San Francisco’s most charming pastry shop, how true.

I had read about the gingerbread cupcake in Fodor’s, so I had it pretty much for breakfast at the Ferry Building and ordered a macaron and salted caramels for later consumption. The cupcake was visually charming and tasted even better. The macaron was good, but not my favourite, as the best ones that I have had so far are from Petite Thuet in Toronto. The salted caramel was a wonderful treat that came home with me.
I enjoyed the gingerbread cupcake so much that I had to visit their store in Hayes Valley for a second tasting. The store was beautiful with much attention to every detail. I got gingersnaps to take home, they were the best ever. Crisp, spicy and rich tasting.
Imagine my delight in discovering that there was a Miette cookbook. I read through it the past few days and what a great story from Meg Ray. The amazing treats I tasted were amazing because a lot of passion and care went into the selection of the finest ingredients and the execution of detail. Their standard of finest ingredients are organic and locally sourced as much as possible. That will be more of a challenge here in Toronto, but I am ready to try.
The book was a great inspiration, so I tried the buttermilk panna cotta recipe with some mini mousse glasses that I got last week. Yummy!!
I am all for desserts as a healthy part of enjoyment of life and food. I love them and eat them regularly. Nutritionally, they are not the best, but fun and enjoyment is a really important component to eating well and life in general.
The Miette philosophy is to make things small for presentation, balance and economics. Portion control is a great effect of this concept as well. The panna cotta recipe was so delicious and rich tasting that the mini mousse glass, which was around 5 tablespoons was very satisfying. Eating small portions of foods you love that are made with care sure is a great way to enjoy life all the time!