Recipe: Creamy Low Fat Broccoli Soup [Vegan, HCLF]

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Calling all soup lovers! If you like broccoli and cheese soup but don’t want the dairy or processed fake cheeses, this recipe is for you. (Especially my fellow high carb, low fat vegans!)

Although we don’t get to experience much of a real winter where I am in California, I still can’t help but love soup season. I’ve been experimenting with spicy lentil, roasted tomato, and sweet potato soups over the last few weeks, but I keep coming back to this broccoli one. Yukon gold potato lends the soup its creaminess, and the cheesy flavor comes from nutritional yeast, along with onions, garlic, and a few cashews. It’s also flexible and fun to customize: you can add whatever veggies you have on hand, and vary amounts as you please and it’ll still turn out great.

It’s packed with nutrients (and even quite high in protein!), it’s quick and easy to make, and it’s especially delicious when paired with toasted sourdough!

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Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yukon gold potato (about 200g)
  • 2-3 cups broccoli pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 yellow or white onion
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 4-5 large mushrooms
  • 2-3 handfuls of kale or spinach
  • 1 tsp vegetable broth powder (or a vegetable bouillon cube, or veggie broth)
  • 2 tbsp cashews (omit for lower fat)
  • 3-4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or other non-dairy milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Toasted bread (especially sourdough) for serving

Instructions:

  1. Boil or microwave potato until soft.
  2. Roughly chop the garlic, onion, celery, and mushrooms. They’ll all be blended later, so just chop them enough so they have some surface area for cooking.
  3. Dry-sauté garlic and onion over medium heat until the garlic toasts slightly, then add the water, broccoli, celery, mushrooms, potato, and kale or spinach. Simmer until soft.
  4. Remove from heat, and add to blender along with cashews, nutritional yeast, and almond milk. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add more water and/or almond milk as necessary to get soup to the consistency you prefer.

Serve with freshly toasted bread, and enjoy!

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Nutrition information (for half the recipe):

Calories: 250 | Fat: 6g | Carbs: 35g (5.5g fiber) | Protein: 14.5g

 

Side note: I've been in LOVE with this broth powder. Finally, a broth-maker that is both oil free and lasts indefinitely!

Side note: I’ve been in love with this broth powder since I discovered it a month ago… finally a way to make broth that is both oil free and lasts indefinitely!

Recipe: Chocolate Caramel Turtle Bars (Vegan)

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Today, I had a bit of a milestone in my development as a food blogger: I successfully veganized the first recipe I ever posted here. I have cast off my shackles of dairy and eggs once and for all!

Dramatic descriptions aside, I’m pretty excited. I thought that my vegan baking would always be sub par compared to the creations I used to whip up; creations that had everyone ooh-ing and aah-ing and begging for more. I thought that my family, boyfriend, and friends would never be excited for my vegan food, always destined to elicit a resounding “well, they’re good for vegan food, I guess…” Not that I’d ever actually received that type of feedback, but I always feared it. I’m a perfectionist, you see.

However, after some wildly successful doughnuts, chocolate chip oat cookies, brownies, thin mints, cinnamon rolls, and now these turtle bars, I’ve finally found my vegan baking confidence. My fears of lukewarm responses are a thing of the past. I can now veganize recipes spontaneously and feel confident that they’ll turn out just as good as the dairy-filled versions!

I hope you guys will enjoy these bars as much as I did. Their familiar taste brought back happy memories of starting this blog–not to mention, they taste even better now because no animals were harmed to make them. (Okay, so the taste is pretty much exactly the same, but with the added psychological warm glow of not hurting cows.)

How ironic that my first post started with a silly disclaimer about not hurting turtles!

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Ingredients:

Dough and toppings:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1.75 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup earth balance butter, melted
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1.5 cups chocolate chips

Caramel ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup earth balance butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the chopped pecans on a tray and toast in the oven for 4-5 minutes until fragrant. Remove from oven and place in a heat-safe bowl with the chocolate chips when done (they’ll start to melt).

2. Prepare the crust: In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, brown sugar, and oats. Add in the melted earth balance and stir until combined. Press 2/3 of the mixture evenly along the bottom of a 13×9″ pan, and bake for 10 minutes.

3. Prepare the caramel: combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup earth balance in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and let it bubble for about 5 minutes–it should turn darker brown. Then, pour it into the bowl with the pecans and chocolate chips and stir until combined.

4. Spread the caramel-chocolate-pecan mixture evenly over the crust you just baked–be careful not to dislodge any of the crust. Then sprinkle the rest of the flour-oat mixture evenly across the top, and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.

5. Let cool, cut, and enjoy!

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Vegan Nutty Chocolate Coconut Bars

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Every time I open the fridge, there is a lonely little can of coconut milk waiting for me to finish it up. I love making Thai coconut curries, but I have a serious problem making enough curry to use up those monstrous 14oz cans of coconut milk before they go bad. All too often I end up sadly throwing one out, with only a quarter of it used. Whose idea was it to make those cans so big, anyway? You’d have to be some kind of superhuman coconut milk drinker—and I’m talking the thick kind, not the deliciously drinkable diluted ones in cartons—or a curry-loving family of 5 to use those things up in time. But I’m getting off topic here.

I decided that the best way to do that coconut milk justice was to turn it into a pastry. I ended up going with my own version of Ohsheglows’ lightened up coconut bars, because, as I’m sure we all know, she is the guru of all things vegan cooking. The condensed coconut milk idea she uses in the recipe is absolute genius–I’m not sure if it was a common thing that I just happened to discover through her, but it’s seriously amazing! I’ll definitely be using that trick more often to use up those pesky coconut milk cans–I bet it would make a fabulous ice cream base too. But that recipe will have to wait til summer.

Never again will I have to forgo recipes calling for condensed milk!

Also, about the bars: warning, they’re extremely addictive. I ate way too many, but my tastebuds are happy campers.

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Makes about 20 small bars.

Ingredients

Shortbread crust:

  • 1 + 1/3 cups flour
  • 6 tbsp earth balance, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp maple syrup

Topping:

  • 1 can light coconut milk (15oz?)
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup pecans or almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • Sea salt to sprinkle on top

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line a 9″ pan with parchment paper.

2. Prepare the crust: mix together the flour and brown sugar. Stir in the earth balance and maple syrup until the mixture clumps up and is evenly combined. Press crust into the bottom of the pan to form a somewhat compact layer.

3. Prepare the condensed coconut milk: combine the coconut milk and coconut sugar in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until it’s thickened up significantly.

4. Remove from heat, and pour in the chocolate chips, maple syrup. Stir until the chocolate chips have melted and combined. Pour this mixture on top of the crust. Sprinkle the chopped nuts, shredded coconut, and sea salt on top.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees, until it looks set and the coconut shreds are beginning to brown. Put in the freezer for a few hours, or in the fridge overnight. Once set, cut into bars, and serve!

– Serving size: 1/20 of recipe. Calories per serving: 190

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Recipe: Low-Calorie Fudgy Brownies

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First, I’d like to start with a disclaimer: Low calorie is a relative term. So, although these brownies are lower calorie than their high fat counterparts, they should still be eaten in moderation if part of a diet plan!

Now that that’s over with, I’m sure many of you are like me in that you want to stay or become svelte, but have an insatiable sweet tooth. Or, worse yet, you share my obsession with baking. And we all know that constant baking and a trim figure do not go well together.

So, before hanging out with my rather voracious friends, I decided to whip up some fudgy brownies that we could all enjoy! Better yet, the leftovers stayed moist and delicious for about a week in the fridge.

Modified from this recipe.

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Makes a 13×9″ or 9×9″ pan of brownies (depending on how thick you want them)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips + 1 tbs for topping
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

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Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a pan of your choice (I used 13×9″; smaller sizes such as 9×9″ will yield thicker brownies.)

2. Dissolve espresso powder into the hot water.

3. Melt together chocolate chips and butter in microwave using the available melt settings, or on high for 1 minute until everything is melted.

4. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, the butter/chocolate chip mixture, and the espresso mixture.

5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until combined and the lumps are gone.

6. Spread evenly into pan, and sprinkle the top evenly with the 1tbs chocolate chips (or as much as you desire).

7. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes for a 13×9″ pan, and more for a smaller pan. Bake until the top is set, but a toothpick still yields a few crumbs. This is the key to fudginess!

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Note: this recipe is male-tested and approved.

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Happy baking!

Michelle

Panko Substitution: Make your own Breadcrumbs

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When I was making my avocado fries the other day, I realized that I had no panko, also known as japanese breadcrumbs. (Okay, we actually had some hiding in the back of the cupboard, but I didn’t realize this until after the fact…)

Luckily, we did have some stale french bread, so I decided to share my way of making some breadcrumbs for recipes in a pinch.

Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Thin bread slices, preferably slightly stale

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread your bread slices out on a sheet of tinfoil or a baking sheet.

2. Toast bread in oven until crispy on top, and flip to crisp up the other side too.

3. Once bread is crisped through, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.

4. You can turn the bread into crumbs in a variety of ways: my favorite ways are to use your hands to crumble it up, or wrap it up in tinfoil or a bag and pound it with a mallet/rolling pin until at your desired crumb consistency.

The resulting crumbs worked perfectly for my avocado fries; hope this substitution can prove useful to you too!

Thanks for stopping by,

Michelle

Recipe: Butternut Squash Gratin with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

There’s something irresistible about butternut squash on a cold day. Although I could have gone with your typical brown sugar buttery concoction, I decided to whip up a more savory dish adapted from Epicurious that incorporated one of my favorite foods: goat cheese.

I served it with my cream of red bell pepper soup and mushroom leek galettes (which I’ll be posting the recipe for shortly!), and it made for a wonderfully warm winter feast.

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Serves: 10+

Time: Active: depends on starting ingredients (30 mins – an hour)
Inactive: About an hour

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes (8 cups)  [Timesaving tip: many stores sell pre-cubed squash, and the difference isn’t noticeable!]
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
  • 3 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 5.5-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (can also use half-and-half to cut down calorie count!)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Put butternut squash cubes in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out in a rimmed baking sheet or glass pan. Roast until tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.

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2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped leeks and sage, season with salt and pepper, and saute until tender and brown for about 15 minutes.

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3. Coat a 13×9 glass pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Spread half of the leek mixture over the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with half of squash and half of goat cheese, and repeat the layering. (The dish can be chilled and stored in the refrigerator for up to one day at this point)

4. Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour cream evenly over gratin, and sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Bake, uncovered, until it is heated through and the cream is bubbling, about 30-40 minutes.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

Michelle

Recipe: Cream of Red Bell Pepper Soup

Red bell pepper soup: sounds strange, but tastes oh so good. It’s a light, versatile recipe that can be spiced up to your liking and served with a variety of cuisines!

Recipe adapted from Epicurious; photos and instructions are my own.

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Serves: 4-6

Time: about an hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds red bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 cups (or more) canned vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Sliced fresh basil
  • (Optional) Crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

1. Prepare the peppers. There are a variety of methods for doing this, but my favorite strategy for large amounts of peppers is to use the oven. You can also char them individually over an open stove flame if the oven isn’t an option.  Cut the tops out of the peppers, deseed and devein them, cut them in half, and lay them out on a baking sheet. Crush them down with your palm so they lay flat (some breaking will occur).

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2. Position the oven rack towards the top of the oven, and set it to broil. Once preheating is done, put the peppers in the oven, leaving the oven door cracked so steam can escape. Broil until the skins are black and wrinkled, about 30 minutes.

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3. Once blackened, remove from oven, enclose in paper bags, and let them sit for 10 minutes. Remove peppers, and peel and slice them into strips.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped shallots, garlic and thyme and sauté 3 minutes. Add 3 cups broth and all but 4 slices of roasted pepper. Simmer uncovered until peppers are very soft, about 20 minutes.

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5. Puree the soup until smooth. I prefer to use a stick blender by simply submerging it into the pot; this method only takes about 10 seconds. However, a normal blender can also be used by ladling the soup into the blender, pureeing it in batches, and returning it to the pot.

6. Add half and half, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. For extra spiciness, I added crushed red pepper flakes and extra cayenne.

7. Rewarm the soup when ready to serve, thinning with additional broth, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with reserved pepper strips and basil.

I hope your eaters will be as happy as mine were! Feel free to leave feedback, good or bad.

Thanks for stopping by,

Michelle

Recipe: Chocolate Caramel Turtle Bars

DISCLAIMER: No turtles were harmed in the making of this dessert.

However, be warned: these bars tend to disappear quickly.

Years ago, before I had even begun my baking career, my dad bought me a book called “Baked Explorations.” At the time, I thought it was weird. He must have had a vision of some sort or simply a healthy dose of fatherly intuition, however, because I’ve managed to dig up all sorts of quirky and surprisingly tasty concoctions from that strange little book since that fateful day.

One of my favorites, these buttery Heartland Turtle Bars are a delicious combination of chocolate, oats, homemade caramel, and pecans. They’re quick and simple to make, and are sure to please chocolate-lovers everywhere!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1.75 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1.5 cups chocolate chips

Caramel ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbs heavy cream

Directions

1. Set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and butter the bottom of a 13×9 inch pan. You can also line the bottom with parchment paper if you’re worried about the bars sticking.

2. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium-size bowl.

3. Rub the brown sugar into the flour mixture with your (clean!) hands, and then stir in the oats until evenly combined.

4. Using a wooden spoon, make a well–or an indent–in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the melted butter. Stir until wet and evenly combined.

5. Spread 2/3 of the oat mixture into the bottom of the 13×9 pan, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the oven. If you bought whole instead of pre-chopped pecans, chop them (I prefer them chopped fine) and spread them on a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the oven for 4-5 minutes, or until the pecans become aromatic. Be careful not to scorch them!

7. Spread the pecans and chocolate chips over the oat mixture in the 13×9 pan.

8. Now, make the caramel. Cut the butter in the “caramel ingredients” section into cubes and melt it with brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Let boil for 1 minute while stirring occasionally. It should foam up, so make sure it doesn’t overflow!

9. Remove saucepan from heat, and stir in the heavy cream. Pour caramel over the pecans and chocolate on the oat mixture.

10. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the oat mixture on top, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

11. Remove from oven, and allow to cool. I personally like to put it in the fridge after it’s cooled down a bit, because it tends to set better that way. Once it’s set, cut into bars and serve, and prepare for them to disappear quickly.

Let me know what you think! I always love to hear your reviews and/or modifications to the recipe.

Thanks for stopping by,

Michelle