Rainbows — edible, adorable, easy, can be gluten-free and vegan

Edible Rainbows!

Cut-up peppers
In the spring, someone posted a picture on Facebook showing edible little rainbows of different-colored bell peppers on top of maybe bread, with cute little white clouds at each end of the rainbow — and it captured my imagination. The picture was simply a photo, without a recipe or any information about who had cooked it. Intrigued, I kept thinking about them until I tried out a way to make them. After some experimentation, I came up with a version that tastes great, is healthy, and looks adorable.

Pizza-dough basesWarning: Edible rainbows are very susceptible to puns. They are also fun to talk about. We laughed the first time we said, “Kendra ate two rainbows for breakfast.”

For the base, you can make this with any type of pizza dough that works for you, or you can use the recipe that I’ve posted here, which is gluten-free.

Pepper arcs arranged on base

Pepper arcs arranged on base. You can see that I intentionally broke the red stripe to make it more arc-shaped.

I’ve been happily using all-purpose Chebe Mix to make really good pizza dough for years, but it isn’t organic and we try to eat all-organic. So I am happy to report that I finally figured out a from-scratch recipe that comes out similar to Chebe dough, so you can make it with organic ingredients if you choose to do that. (I do.) Bonus: I also made the dough pourable, so you mix up a batter and pour it into pizza shape, rather than needing to take the time to knead it and individually roll out circles, so it is much quicker and easier — a big improvement all around.

Edible rainbow

Super cute!

A friend said this is Unicorn Food. I like that. :)

Anyway! Here is the recipe:

Rainbows -- edible, adorable, easy, can be gluten-free and vegan
 
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Extreme cute edible vegetarian rainbows! Fairly easy to make, wildly adorable, healthy, and yummy! This is one excellent recipe!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: Serves 4-8
Ingredients
Base
  • EITHER: your favorite pizza dough, enough for two pizzas
  • OR: The following ingredients
  • 2 cups tapioca flour (note that if you buy "Letz Do Organic" brand, a box holds 1 1/2 cups, so you will need to start a second box)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (or 2/3 teaspoon baking soda + 2/3 teaspoon cream of tartar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 6-7 tablespoons of water (start with six, add the other one if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 eggs (or, if you prefer vegan, you should be able to replace them with flax eggs, but I have not tried this recipe that way)
Peppers
  • 4 bell peppers -- one each of red, orange, yellow, and green (if you have a choice, red should be a wide pepper, then orange, then yellow, and green should the skinniest -- but if your peppers aren't in those sizes, it's fine)
Clouds
  • For an alternate nut-free version: Use a batch of my creamy white dressing
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
Base
  1. Preheat the oven to the temperature recommended for your pizza dough recipe.
  2. If you are using my dough recipe, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, except for the water, put all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add six tablespoons of water and stir. This should make a batter that is thick but pourable. If it is not pourable, add the other tablespoon of water and stir again.
  3. If you are using my dough recipe, use two awesomely nonstick cookie sheets, or regular cookie sheets with silicone mats on top. Make 16 tiny pizzas, using one dinnertable tablespoon of batter for each pizza, and spreading out each one into an oval about 2-3 inches by 3-4 inches. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. If you are using other dough, roll out blobs of dough to be about 2-3 inches by 3-4 inches and the thickness of a pizza crust. You may have extra dough left over. Bake according to the directions for your dough.
Peppers
  1. While the bases bake, cut up the peppers. Cut a circle around the stem and remove the stem. Now, with the hole where the stem was at the top, look at the ribs of the pepper. Cut from top to bottom along three of the ribs that are spaced on different sides of the pepper, ideally dividing the pepper into thirds -- but it is okay if the ribs aren't spaced evenly and your three pieces aren't very exactly equal. Trim off any seeds and ribs on the inside of each section, and rinse it out.
  2. Next, cut off the uneven part on the top of each section, then cut crosswise across each section about 1/4 inch apart, so that you get six arcs. There will be a bit of extra left over at the bottom. (If your pepper is especially large or small, make your cuts a little bigger or smaller than 1/4 inch apart.) The idea is to end up with 18 arcs of pepper in each of the four colors.
Clouds
  1. Use a good blender to blend all Clouds ingredients until they form a very smooth cream. My food processor doesn't make this smooth enough, but my blender does.
Assembly
  1. When the bases are baked, put four arcs of bell pepper on top in the shape of a rainbow, with red, orange, yellow, and green going from top to bottom. It's helpful to press the arcs together to get them closer together. For arcs that aren't arc-shaped, feel free to break the piece as needed to make it more arc-shaped. You should have a couple of pieces of each color of pepper left over at the end; you can break those into pieces and use them to extend short arcs to be longer.
  2. Next, use a dinnertable teaspoon to plop about a teaspoon of the cashew mixture at each end of the rainbow arcs (that is, use two teaspoons of cashew cream, one teaspoon on each end of the rainbow).
  3. Makes 16 rainbows. Serve 2-4 rainbows per person.

 

Tiramisu in 14 minutes – healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, and can be vegan

Tiramisu
cake slices

Chocolate chip pumpkin bread, cut into twelve “ladyfinger” sticks for this recipe.

Last August my kids and I visited Toronto.

Usually when we travel, I am fanatical about planning ahead so that we will always have gluten-free food available. But this one time my teens talked me into winging it. We had the impression that every street corner in Toronto had one of those restaurants where you order a bowl of plain rice and then pick three toppings from one column and four toppings from the next column, and many of this type of restaurant can make safe gluten-free food. So in the morning we went to the Royal Ontario

cake after dipping

Cake after dipping

Museum. In the afternoon we planned to go see Castle Loma. Our map made it look like these places were about three blocks apart, so we decided to walk from the museum to the castle, eating lunch at a bowl-type restaurant along the way. Alas, our map was not to scale. It was far more than three blocks from one place to the other. We walked for a really long time through an endless residential neighborhood that had no stores or restaurants of any kind. Finally we found a tiny grocery store. Hungry and tired, we bought mainstream GMO-filled potato chips and ate those for lunch sitting on the sidewalk outside the store, occasionally interrupted by people

Cake with cashew cream added

Cake with cashew cream added

who needed us to move out of the way so that they could get in or out of the building. Definitely not our best meal ever!

When we started walking again, we almost immediately found an organic gluten-free mostly-raw restaurant called Live Organic Food Bar. It looked intriguing, so my kids and I went in. Having just gorged on potato chips, we weren’t very hungry, but I really wanted to try the food there, so we ordered desserts. I ordered an expensive little tiramisu that was AMAZING!!!! It had been maybe fifteen years since I last ate tiramisu, and

Finished tiramisu

Finished tiramisu

getting to have it again was a real treat.

Weeks later, at home again, I kept thinking about that amazing tiramisu. It wouldn’t be easy to go back to Toronto for more, so I decided to create my own. I had a tiramisu recipe that I had loved many years ago, so I used that as a starting point.

To my surprise, the tiramisu that I invented is very fast to make, over-the-top healthy, and over-the-top delicious!!!

Tiramisu in refrigerator

Tiramisu in refrigerator – these glass containers are great for making tiramisu. You can pop on the lid and store it easily in the refrigerator.

Traditional tiramisu is made with ladyfingers — long, thin cakelike cookies that are shaped like very large fingers. In this recipe you can use a wide variety of baked desserts cut into finger shapes, as the ladyfingers. I think cookies would work well too. I suggest using something that is not all-chocolate — though actually that too might be interesting. I have done this with Corbin’s muffin bread, and with chocolate chip pumpkin bread, but you could also use storebought cookies or cake or banana bread. Also I have seen gluten-free ladyfingers available at the store, though they don’t look at all healthy. The finished tiramisu will taste like whatever baked good you choose, so you should choose a baked item that you think would taste good inside tiramisu.

TiramisuIn the pictures, I used the super-healthy version of chocolate chip pumpkin bread — the second recipe on that page. That version has no refined sugar, and I add a lot of veggies, so in the pictures you may notice that the cake part looks a little green. That’s kale. It made an awesomely healthy tiramisu that tasted fantastic to me, but if you or your eaters are at all skeptical about kale in tiramisu, you can totally make this with some other baked item. Not everybody is as crazy about kale as me, and I completely respect that. You can make a very excellent tiramisu with this recipe without any kale, if that’s what you prefer.

Anyway, I hope you will try this recipe.  It makes an amazing tiramisu!

Tiramisu in 14 minutes - healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, and can be vegan
 
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This tiramisu takes only 14 minutes to make. It is delicious, and can be healthy, vegan, and gluten-free. Yum!!! Warning: Addictive!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: gluten-free
Serves: 3 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 slices of baked goods, such as cookies, banana bread, Corbin's muffin bread, or chocolate chip pumpkin bread, or about 3 cups of cookies
  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 5 dates, pits and any bits of stem removed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 mug of coffee or espresso (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or cognac (optional - I leave it out)
  • 1 tablespoon baking cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Brew a mug of coffee. (I have an ancient one-cup-at-a-time coffeemaker that makes it easy to brew just the right amount.)
  2. In a good blender, mix the cashews, water, dates, vanilla extract, and optional brandy or cognac. Blend until creamy-smooth. When the coffee is ready, add 1/2 tablespoon of coffee and blend until mixed.
  3. If you are using baked goods from a loaf, cut each of the four slices crosswise into three sticks, so that you end up with twelve finger-shaped sticks of baked goods. If you are using cookies you can skip this step.
  4. Pour the coffee into a small bowl, such as a cereal bowl. Have a fork and a loaf pan handy.
  5. A few at a time, put half of the baked goods into the coffee (that would be six "ladyfingers" or half of the cookies), then immediately use the fork to scoop them out again and put them crosswise into the loaf pan.
  6. Evenly pour half of the cashew mixture on top.
  7. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of baking cocoa evenly everywhere on top.
  8. Make a second layer: Dip the other half of the baked goods in the coffee, put them into the loaf pan, spread on the rest of the cashew cream and sprinkle on the rest of the baking cocoa powder.
  9. In theory you should refrigerate this for a few hours at this point, but it is really hard not to just dive in and start eating. It firms up a bit in the refrigerator, but even when it is liquidy from being freshly made it is still good.

 

Fresh Fruit Pie with Chocolate Brownie Crust – gluten-free, raw, vegan, beautiful and yummy!

Fresh Fruit Pie With Chocolate Brownie Crust

Fresh Fruit Pie with Chocolate Brownie Crust This summer when the market was full of beautiful fruit and berries, I bought lots and made them into a series of beautiful pies. These pies take about 20 minutes to make, need no baking, look gorgeous, and taste delicious. Yum!!!

I fell in love with this recipe this summer, so I made it again and again, all summer long.

The chocolate brownie crust is adapted from a recipe in Chocolate Covered Katie’s cookbook.  And the cardamom cashew cream filling is adapted from a recipe in an older edition of the cookbook Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People by Jennifer Cornbleet. I love cardamom and think that the hint of it in the cashew cream really makes this pie recipe over-the-top amazing.

Two more pictures and then the recipe!

Fresh Fruit Pie with Chocolate Brownie Crust

Fresh Fruit Pie with Chocolate Brownie Crust

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Fresh Fruit Pie with Chocolate Brownie Crust - gluten-free, raw, vegan, beautiful and yummy!
 
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This beautiful pie is raw, gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, free of refined sugar, quick to make, totally delicious, and full of fruit!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 pie
Ingredients
Crust ingredients:
  • 1 cup dates, with pits and any bits of stem removed
  • 1 1/3 cups nuts (for example 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pecans, and 1/3 cup of almonds)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon water
Cardamom Cashew Cream Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 dates, with pits and any bits of stem removed
Fruit Ingredients:
  • strawberries, perfectly ripe mangoes, blackberries -- or whatever fruit you have handy, cut into chunks
Instructions
  1. Place all of the crust ingredients in a food processor. Blend until you have tiny bits, much smaller than the head of a pin. The mixture should have tiny bits of nuts visible in it but be soft and mashable. Don't blend it for so long that you turn it into nut butter!
  2. Empty the food processor into a pie plate. Use your hands to press down on the mixture, to flatten it. Push some of it against the sides, too, so that there is an even coating of crust pushed down all over the bottom and sides of the pie plate. I usually don't put the crust on top of the edges of the pie plate, because on a raw foods crust that tends to fall off during serving. Take the time to make sure that the crust is pushed down into the corners of the pie plate and that the edges are finished off neatly. I usually make the edges a tiny bit taller than the pie plate, so that the pie can be deep. If you press down on the pie crust on the insides of the pie plate, the crust will get taller and do exactly this.
  3. Place all the ingredients for the cardamom cashew cream in the food processor. (You don't need to wash it out after making the crust.) Blend until you have a very smooth cream. It should look and taste smooth. I usually let cashew cream sit in the food processor while I work on other parts of a recipe and then come back to it to re-blend it once the blended bits of cashews have had a chance to soften.
  4. Wash the fruit and cut it into chunks. If you are using strawberries, cut out the stem from each strawberry and then cut it in half. You can leave blackberries whole. For a mango, imagine a mango pit with a piece of paper on top and another piece on the bottom, lying down flat. Now imagine that pit inside a whole mango, and use a knife to cut where each piece of paper is, so that you end up with two mango hemispheres, and an oval of mango left behind that includes the pit. Now on each hemisphere, cut 2-3 lines through the flesh in one direction, cutting down to the skin but don't cut through the skin. Now cut 2-3 lines across in the other direction, across the first cuts, making a grid. So you should have a mango hemisphere with its skin still intact and the mango flesh scored into about 12 squares. Then use a dinnertable tablespoon to separate the mango flesh from the skin, so that you end up with about 12 cubes of mango. Repeat on the other mango hemisphere.
  5. Re-blend the cashew cream (which is still in the food processor) until it is super smooth, then put it into the pie crust and spread it evenly over the bottom.
  6. Arrange the fruit prettily on top of the cashew cream, to fill up the pie crust. Tip: A ring of cut strawberries interlocks really nicely, like Lego. :)
  7. Voila! One quick and yummy fruit pie!

 


This recipe is entered in Gluten-Free Fridays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, and Meat-Free Mondays!

Macaroni and Cheese – healthy, vegan, soy-free, and gluten-free!

vegan macaroni and cheese

cheese sauce after blendingOnce upon a time, I perfected my macaroni and cheese recipe. It was a specialty of mine — fancy macaroni and cheese mixed with a creamy white sauce, using a small amount of fancy cheese to make it healthier and yummy. Then we had to stop eating dairy and gluten, and so, my oldest son, stirring the cheese saucesadly, for a long time that was the end of macaroni and cheese at our house.

After that, I experimented with creamy vegan cheese-like sauces. I came up with some that I liked quite a bit. But nothing was quite right for macaroni and cheese.

thickened vegan cheese sauce on the stoveThen in March I ran across Vegan Richa‘s recipe for vegan Mozarella Sticks, made with homemade cashew mozzarella. The cheese sticks came out tasting really cheesy, even though they are totally vegan. I am convinced that Richa is a genius at creative food chemistry. Her blog is a wonderful mix of creative vegan versions of American food and Indian cuisine.

Richa’s recipe made a great starting point for experimenting with my own vegan macaroni and cheese recipe. The very first time I tried making it, it came out tasting surprisingly similar to my old macaroni and cheese recipe, with the white sauce and fancy cheeses.  I was very pleased!!!!!

So here is my version of vegan macaroni and cheese.

Nut-free option: I have not tried this, but I think you could replace the nuts and 1 cup of the water with a pound of firm tofu.

In the third picture, that’s my oldest son cooking.  :)

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
 
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A creamy cheesy VEGAN macaroni and cheese that cooks very quickly. Yum!
Author:
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 5
Ingredients
Sauce ingredients:
  • 2 cups cashews
  • 2 1/2 cups cold water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 2 teaspoons potato starch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Other ingredients:
  • 1 pound pasta -- gluten-free if you eat that way (which I do!)
  • optional: goes well with broccoli as a side dish (see my broccoli recipe)
Instructions
  1. Start cooking the pasta.
  2. Place the cashews and one cup of the water in a high speed blender. Blend until smooth. Let it sit for a couple of minutes (to soften the tiny cashew pieces) while you juice the lemon and add the rest of the sauce ingredients EXCEPT not the rest of the water, to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  3. Place the sauce mixture in a large nonstick pan. (Nonstick is essential for this recipe!)
  4. Start heating the sauce and stirring with a wooden spoon.
  5. Use the rest of the water to rinse out the blender, then add it to the sauce.
  6. Heat and stir the sauce until it thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  7. Mix with the cooked macaroni.
  8. Serve with broccoli on the side.

p.s.  You should try Vegan Richa’s mozzarella sticks recipe!

Umeboshi Calling – a quick vegan pasta dinner with a slightly addictive creamy cashew sauce

umeboshi calling

little umeboshiThis quick vegan recipe has creamy cashew sauce (or choose the nut-free variation that replaces the cashews with tofu), with spinach and red bell peppers. It uses an unusual ingredient called umeboshi paste, which adds a delicious salty sweetness to the recipe.

Umeboshi paste is made of pickled umeboshi plums — though it does not taste at all like pickles. It is salty and sweet and creamy, making the recipe’s sauce a little addictive.

If you can’t find umeboshi paste, you can replace it with 1 teaspoon of sea salt. That works okay and comes out tasting lovely, but if you can possibly use umeboshi paste, this recipe is much yummier for it.

I originally made this recipe with the kind of pasta that looks a little bit like a telephone cord. That’s how the recipe got the name Umeboshi Calling.

Nut-free version: Replace the cashews with 10 ounces of tofu, and reduce the water to 1/2 cup.

Variation: You can add 1-2 cups of your favorite protein source, such as Butler soy curls (rehydrated before adding!), seitan (note that seitan is not gluten-free), baked tofu, etc.

Tip: If you anticipate leftovers, you may wish to keep the sauce and the pasta separate, so that you can store them separately, so that the pasta doesn’t absorb all the liquid from the sauce in the refrigerator.

Umeboshi Calling - a quick pasta dinner with creamy cashew sauce
 
Prep time
20 mins
Cook time
10 mins
Total time
30 mins
 
This quick vegan recipe has creamy cashew sauce (or choose the nut-free tofu variation), spinach, and red bell peppers. It uses an unusual ingredient called umeboshi paste, which adds a delicious salty sweetness to the recipe.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound pasta, preferably something curly such as Field Day Organic Brown Rice Fusilli
  • 1 package frozen spinach (anything from 10 to 16 ounces is OK)
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons umeboshi paste
  • 1-2 bell peppers (any color is OK; red is especially good in this)
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Defrost spinach, but don’t drain it.
  3. Blend cashews, water, and umeboshi paste in a blender or food processor for several minutes, until it thickens and starts to look about the consistency of sour cream. Make sure you blend the mixture for long enough that it is really smooth.
  4. Chop the bell pepper.
  5. Mix everything together.
  6. Stir, but don't worry if the spinach stays somewhat clumpy.
  7. Serve. Yum!
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