Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Umami Cabbage & Lemongrass Soup over Seasoned Rice

There's something about this soup...some people at our table may have moaned audibly, several times, and had seconds and thirds. 

I know it doesn't look like much, and when I first read the ingredients, I was seriously doubtful - but I thought I'd try it out, and then I tweaked and played with the flavor, and man oh I ever glad I did. My family requested that I add this one to the know, for posterity's sake. 

This is a spin off of a recipe by Jill Nussinow.  After making her basic recipe, it felt like it needed something more, so I added and played with the seasonings and decided to serve it over a garlic and seaweed flavored rice-which doesn't necessarily sound amazing I know. But, when it all combines together...oh my-you too may just moan! For us, this is definitely a umami recipe! 

1.5 cups diced onions
4 peeled medium potatoes - cut into fourths, then sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
1/2 cabbage thinly sliced (6-8 cups)
4 large garlic cloves, smashed and diced
2 Tablespoons diced or grated fresh ginger
4 stalks lemon grass, cut into 4-6 inch pieces
2 new Mexican chile peppers or jalapeno
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1.5 cans coconut milk
1/3 cup key lime juice
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt (additional/or to taste)
2 Tablespoons liquid aminos or soy sauce

4 cups water
2 cups Jasmine rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 large smashed garlic clove
1/4 cup wakame (dried seaweed)

Turn pressure cooker to saute setting, and heat 2 T. water. When heated, add onions and saute. Add ginger, garlic, chili, and lemon grass. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add potatoes and cabbage and stir a couple of times as they begin to soften.
Add broth, water, and coconut milk, salt and pepper.
Place lid on pressure cooker and cook for 4 minutes.
While this cooks, prepare rice (below)
Remove lid and add cumin, key lime juice, paprika, liquid aminos, cayenne, and additional salt to taste. Remove lemongrass stalks prior to serving.

Add water to saucepan and begin to heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt, smashed garlic, rices and wakame.
Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute. Stir, then cover with lid, and turn heat to lowest setting. Cook without disturbing for 20 minutes.
Remove lid, allow to sit for 5 minutes before fluffing.

Place rice in the bottom of the bowl, cover with soup and serve.

Monday, July 10, 2017

2 Non-Dairy Plant Based Corn Chowders, & Basic Grilled Corn

I made this a couple of weeks ago with a cashew cream base, and thought that it would also be awesome with fresh, grilled corn. This recipe is one of my teenager's favorites and I've adapted it into two recipes - one with a cashew base, another with a non-nut base. This recipe works well with freshly grilled, canned or frozen corn.

I normally cook my corn in the husk in the microwave for 6 minutes, and it comes out steamed and juicy. With this recipe, because I really wanted the grilled flavor, and I didn't want to cook 24 ears in the microwave, and I had some extra kids hanging around with time on their hands who were available to help shuck corn and man the grill...I created the grilled option - but work with what you have!

To grill corn: (this process takes about an hour)
Carefully peel husks back, (some outer leaves may be removed) and remove silk. Pull husks back up into place to protect the corn.

Soak corn in a bucket or tub of water with 1-2 Tablespoons salt for 10 - 30 minutes. This will help the husks to not burn so quickly.

Shake off excess water, and place corn on preheated grill, and turn every 5 minutes, grilling for about 20 minutes. Take care not to burn (too much). If a charred look or flavor is desired, peel husks back, and place on grill for a few moments to achieve desired charring.

To release corn kernels from husks, stand cob in a large bowl or pan, and with a knife placed close to the center of the cob, slice/cut in a swift downward motion. Slightly rotate corn, and repeat until all kernels are removed from the cob: I learned this trick from my grandfather who had dentures - and he usually used a butter knife.

Chowder Recipes

*3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2" chunks (Russet or Yukon) - see note
*1.5 cups peeled carrots - sliced into 1-2" chunks - see note
*3 quarts water with 1 teaspoon salt - see note

1.5 cups raw cashews
4 cups of water

Corn kernels from 4-6 ears of corn on the cob (or two 16 oz cans canned corn)
1-2 cans diced green chiles, or 1 diced jalapeno
1/2 - 1 cup. dry Maseca corn tortilla mix (found in hispanic or flour section of grocery store)
1-2 t. liquid smoke (optional) OR 1 t. smoked paprika
1 t. lemon juice
1.5 t. cumin (adjust to taste)
1/2 t. chili powder (adjust to taste)
Dash cayenne powder (optional - adjust to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

While the corn is grilling, place potatoes and carrots in a pan, with water, and boil until tender, (about 10-15 minutes.)
Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, (leave water in pan) and place them into the blender. Add water from pan to blender as needed, and puree until smooth. Return to pan (with the water), and stir to combine.

OR  Blend cashews in 4 c. water until smooth and place in a large pan.

Sautee onion, garlic and celery in a frying pan with water until tender. Add to the potato/carrot/water mixture OR cashew/water mixture.  

Place 2 cups of grilled corn into blender (or 1 can), and blend until smooth. Use potato/carrot water mixture or add additional water as needed.

Add to pan with other ingredients.
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

For potato/carrot option - to thicken this chowder base, place 1/2 cup Maseca corn/tortilla flour into a small bowl and add cold water, mixing until it reaches the consistency of a thick gravy.  Remove 1/2 cup of boiling chowder from the pan and mix into the maseca mixture - it will quickly thicken. Stir this mixture back into the chowder to thicken, and repeat this process until desired thickness is achieved.

For cashew cream option, if mixture is already at desired consistency, do nothing. To thin, add additional water to desired consistency, or use the maseca option above to thicken if desired.

Add additional corn kernels (1-2 cups,) diced (grilled optional) jalapenos or diced green chiles (including juices,) cumin, chili powder, lemon juice, liquid smoke/smoked paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Sweetness may be adjusted with a small amount of maple syrup or molasses if needed. Heat, then serve.

Garnish with chopped bell peppers, cilantro or pico de gallo if desired.

We enjoy this with a fresh garden or fruit salad, and hot sourdough bread with either chimi churri, or a fresh herb spread (chopped fresh herbs, salt, and a little coconut milk blended together.)

*Note - for a quicker  or cashew cream based chowder, the boiled potatoes and carrots may be omitted and replaced with a cashew cream.  To create this, combine 1.5 cups raw cashews in a high speed blender with 4 cups of hot water.  Blend until smooth, and use this as the chowder base. This cream base will thicken when heated, so it may need to be thinned with water to desired consistency.

Dairy Free Hot Chocolate ~ Creamy Cashew Cocoa

Rich, creamy, & chocolatey - this cocoa is made to be sipped and savored, rather than chased down the gullet, but my kids are still working on the concept of savoring, as they would drink this by the gallon if I let them (and they've been requesting the recipe here, so that they are no longer reliant upon me when their need for smooth and creamy chocolate hits.) 

This is what I find 2 minutes after I've made this for them: 

Keep in mind that this recipe is a guideline, and amounts should be adjusted to taste - add more cashews for a creamier consistency, more or less cocoa powder for depth/darkness of chocolate, and more or less dates or maple syrup for desired sweetness.  

1 cup raw cashews
2 T. cocoa powder
12-14 deglet noor dates 
4 - 6 cups hot water
1/8-1/4 t. salt
 Dash (or two) cayenne pepper (optional)
Dash (or two) cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla
100% maple syrup for additional sweetening (if needed...I don't need it, but my kids think they do)

Place all ingredients into a high powered blender -
 (or soak cashews for 4 hours beforehand in hot water.)
Blend for 3-5 minutes, until the beverage is heated, and all ingredients are thoroughly blended (er..blasted into microbits and emulsified into a delicious nectar, rather than still in chunks). 

Taste, and adjust for preference. 

Note, the salt brings out the sweetness, and the cayenne, cinnamon and vanilla add depth and a very subtle, difficult to figure out what the slight essence of flavor is, but oh so much yumminess! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Vegan Comfort foods - Cream of Mushroom Sauce

As we've been adapting to our new whole food, plant based lifestyle in the kitchen, we've made some really gross food, and we've refined some recipes into family favorites - it's definitely been trial and error.

Below is one of our favorite go to's -  probably number one on our kids list of favorite vegan foods.  For me, it is the ultimate comfort food for a girl who was raised on Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup!

1 cup raw cashews
3 cups hot water
1 cup thickly sliced shiitake mushrooms (or whatever you have but shiitake are our favorites)
1 medium onion - diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed and diced
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce

Place cashews and water in blender and allow to soak for 15 minutes to soften the cashews.

Place onion and mushrooms in medium frying pan and sautee in tamari or soy sauce for 5-7 minutes, occasionally stir gently. Add garlic and sautee for an additional 2 minutes to release the juices and oils.

Using high powered blender, blend the cashews until they are completely smooth, then with the heat on, add to the onion, mushroom, and garlic in the frying pan, stirring while adding.
Continue to stir as sauce will begin to thicken.  Salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Once heated, serve over rice, potatoes, pasta, or grain.

*This can also be thinned with additional water and served as a soup.

Moist Cornbread - Vegan, Sugar and Oil free

It took me a really long time to find a cornbread recipe that I liked...and then we decided to cut all animal products out of our diet. And so, following is the vegan, no sugar, oil, or processed ingredients version of my favorite cornbread recipe. Let it be known that my kids LOVE this (so do the adults) and we aren't really big cornbread fans. It's a keeper! 

3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1 can corn (pureed with corn liquid in blender)
1 can corn, drained (not pureed)
1/2 cup chia gel (add 2 T. chia seeds to 4-5 T. water, let sit 10 minutes)
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove - minced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 can coconut milk

Sautee the onion in small amounts of water for 25-30 minutes, stirring and adding water as needed.
Add minced garlic and jalapenos and saute for an additional 5 minutes.

Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt in a medium sized bowl.
Add syrup, pureed corn, chia gel and coconut milk - mix well.

Add drained corn and onion mixture. Stir to mix.

Line a 9x13 glass pan with aluminum foil and bake at 375* for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool before turning out of pan.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Vegan/WFPB "Chicken Tortilla Soup" Inspired Black Bean and Rice Soup

After thumbing through several vegan cookbooks tonight, I had decided to make a basic black bean and rice soup. However, as I began collecting ingredients, it morphed into something new, warm, comforting and reminiscent of chicken tortilla soup.
This soup comes together quickly and is awesome served over rice, topped with Pico de gallo, diced avocados, tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese (optional).

2.5 quarts boiling water
*2 cups cooked black beans
*1.5 cups cooked white beans
1 quart canned tomatoes (if home canned tomatoes are not available, add an additional 2 Tbsp. Lemon juice, & 1 Tbsp. sweetener such as maple syrup or sugar of your choice for taste as needed)
1/3 c. chopped leeks or onions
5 garlic cloves, diced or crushed
1 Tbsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup diced fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds (to taste)
1.5 Tbsp. white miso
1/2 cup Maseca corn tortilla flour
Salt and black pepper to taste

Cooked Jasmine Rice
Pico de Gallo
Diced avocados
Baked corn tortillas broken into pieces
Grated Cheese and sour cream (optional)

Add water to large pan and heat to boiling. While water heats, blend tomatoes until smooth. Add tomatoes to water, then add beans, leeks, garlic and spices. Stir to mix.

Scoop several Tbsp. of liquid into a small bowl, then add miso and mix until smooth. Add this mixture back into the large pan and stir.

Place Maseca flour into the small bowl. Add cool water, mixing until it is a thin paste, (similar to the viscosity of honey), adding water as needed.  Once smooth, add a small amount of the tomato liquid mixture (1/2-1 cup) to the Maseca and stir until smooth. Once mixed, add back to the large pan and stir to combine. This will thicken the soup slightly.

Add coconut milk and cilantro, and season to taste.

To serve, place a serving of rice in the bottom of a bowl, add soup and garnish with Pico de gallo, diced avocados, tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese as desired.

*I pressure cooker or slow cool beans and freeze them in 2 cup quantities.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Plant Based Carne Asada

I'm a sucker for latin foods...oh me oh my! 

This carne asada is one of my most visited recipes here, and it's probably in my top 5 favorite foods. My daughter asked for carne asada for her birthday and while I made hers with skirt steak, I was bound and determined to figure out how to make carne asada vegan style so that I could enjoy it too. 

I bet you can guess what we'll be having for Mother's Day??! Can't wait! 

I hope you'll enjoy this much as we do. I've tweaked my marinade and added mushrooms and honestly, could eat this raw as a salad as well as cooked.  

Carne Asada Marinade or Mojo
1/4 c. key lime juice (the very small green limes)**this is key for the flavor
1/4 c. coconut milk
2 T. white vinegar
4 garlic cloves - pressed or very finely diced
1/2-3/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 t. ground cumin
2 t. kosher salt (less if table salt)
JalapeƱo or serano chiles, minced (optional - to taste)
1/4 t. crushed red peppers (optional - to taste)
2 t. pure maple syrup (more or less to taste)

3-4 cups sliced mushrooms - portabello and shiitake

Combine ingredients except for mushrooms in a non-metal bowl. 
Add 3-4 cups sliced portabello and shiitake mushrooms and toss to coat. 
Allow to marinade for at least 1 hour, gently tossing - occasionally.

Heat grill. 

Place ingredients onto a sheet of foil, and fold edges to seal. Wrap with an additional layer (or two) of foil. 
Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning once. 

Remove and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. 

Serve inside of warmed corn tortillas, with black beans, rice, pico de gallo and guacamole. 

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta - Vegan,Plant Based, No oil/sugar

I made this 4 days ago and I can't stop thinking about it - wondering how long I should wait before I make it again, because I could probably eat it every day. My husband took all of the leftovers for lunch the next day, and my kids actually liked it too! See those divine rays of sunlight in the photo? Yes, they are a sign that you should make this too. Now. You are welcome. 

10 red and orange mini peppers - coarsely sliced (or 2 cups normal bell peppers chopped)
1 large jalapeno coarsely sliced
1 large onion coarsely chopped
6 large garlic cloves coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds
4-8 baby portabello mushrooms sliced
1/8-1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup boiling water
1/2-3/4 cup of coconut milk OR vegetable broth
1 package of pasta 16-18 oz (500 g)
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika (the smoked part is important for a deep rich flavor)
2 Tablespoons fresh/2 teaspoons dried basil
Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350* F.
Cover baking sheet with parchment paper, or silpat.

Place the peppers, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and sesame seeds into a bowl and toss to coat with balsamic vinegar. Place on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saute mushrooms in soy sauce until softened, then remove from heat and set aside.

Bring salted water to boil, and begin to cook pasta.
Add boiling water to cashews and allow to soften for 10-15 minutes, then blend with a high powered blender until smooth. Remove the vegetables from the oven and blend into the cashew milk, adding paprika, coconut milk or vegetable broth (to thin), paprika, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

Drain pasta. Leave in colander. Reserve some of the cooking water.
Add sauce to pasta pan and heat.
Add pasta to sauce in the pan, and if needed, thin using the reserved some of the pasta's cooking water.
Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh basil and freshly ground black pepper.

Marinara all purpose sauce - vegan, whole food/plant based, no oil

I came across a recipe for marinara at which I really liked....with a few tweaks of my own. My family devours this - as in, none left for my lunch the next day! This is vegan, plant based with no oils or processed sugars. And...this handy sauce can be used for a pizza sauce, a dipping sauce, lasagna, spaghetti, served over rice or other many possibilities!

1 medium onion - chopped
1 medium red, orange, or yellow bell pepper - chopped
5 mushrooms - sliced
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart canned tomatoes, or equivalent (reserve juice)
1 six oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1-2 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste - optional)
black pepper - to taste, optional

Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add oregano, paprika & basil (if using dried spices) and toast lightly, stirring constantly. Add fresh veggies and red wine vinegar. Saute until softened. Add water if needed to keep ingredients from sticking. 
Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Use a potato masher to break tomatoes down to desired chunkiness if needed
. Season to taste. 
Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Add reserved tomato juice or water to thin if needed, or blend if a thinner consistency is desired. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Green Goddess dressing

I made this the other day and loved it! I've missed having a good dressing for a salad or baked potato that didnt to rain oil or sugar.  The flavors blend and mellow with time. It was much better the next day.

1/2 c. chopped red onion
2 T. Fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 c. Firm tofu
2 T. Lemon juice
2 T vinegar (preferably red or rice wine)
1 T almond butter
1 T soy sauce , tamari or Aminos
1 T 100% maple syrup
1/2 T. Salt
1/4 T. Ground black pepper

Blend together in high powered blender.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Crusted Salmon With Herbed Mayonnaise

My friend Gwen served this about 17 years ago and it was the best salmon I may have ever had. I begged her for a copy of the recipe, and I've come across it every now and then, but it has never had a permanent home.  So here it finally is for posterity...  

Crusted Salmon with Herbed Mayonnaise

Herbed Mayonnaise
1/3 c. minced fresh Italian parsley
1/3 c. minced fresh cilantro
¼ c. minced green onions
2 T. red wine vinegar
½ t. minced garlic
¼ t. dried oregano
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 c. prepared mayonnaise

¼ c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
¼ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. chopped fresh thyme or 2 t. dried thyme
1 t. finely grated lemon zest
¼ t. salt
2 small cloves garlic, peeled
1 ¼ fresh white bread crumbs
¼ c butter (1/2 stick), melted, divided
2.5 pounds salmon fillet, 1 piece if available

In a small bowl, combine 1/3 c. parsley, cilantro, green onions, vinegar, ½ t. minced garlic, oregano, pepper, and cayenne.  Stir until well blended and let stand, at room temperature 30 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease large, shallow baking pan. In food processor or blender, combine ¼ c. parsley, Parmesan, thyme, lemon zest, and salt. With processor running, drop 2 cloves garlic through feed tube and process until finely chopped. Transfer to large bowl and add bread crumbs. Toss to blend. (May be prepared in advance. Cover and chill overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.) Add 3 T. of the melted butter and toss to combine.

Pat salmon dry and place, skin side down, in prepared pan. Brush with remaining 1 T. melted butter. Pack crumb mixture on salmon. Bake 20-25 minutes or until center is opaque. If using several small fillets, cook 10 minutes per inch of thickness. If crumbs brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Transfer to serving platter. Stir mayonnaise into chilled herb mixture and serve on the side. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Polenta Bites

We hit the jackpot with this one. I could probably eat it every day.

What's not to love? Corn meal, tomatoes, arugula, flax seeds, avocados, black olives and some hot sauce or homemade salsa on top, or whatever you have on hand and suits your fancy.

The hot polenta creates a palette or base for this meal, and causes the tomato juices to warm and run and mmm - these combine all of our favorite flavors and are a super quick and satisfying meal.

Simply slice polenta into 1/4 inch thick slices and place over medium heat in a frying pan (no oil needed - if it sticks add just a splash of water).  Heat on each side...just a few minutes.

Arrange on plate and top with baby arugula (which gives it a contrasting spicy freshness), freshly chopped tomatoes, sliced avocados, chopped black olives, a sprinkle of flax seeds for texture and some omegas, and hot sauce (if you want a little more heat) on top.

Lentil Soup - Pressure cooker

I've made various lentil soups over the years but my family didn't especially love them.
This one however, caught our attention and I'll definitely make this one often.
I've adapted it from a recipe by Jill Nussinow.
It takes less than 30 minutes.

1 onion - chopped
2 carrots - chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs dried thyme
6 cups liquid (at least 2 cups vegetable broth)
1.5 cups green or brown lentils
1/2 cup red lentils
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 knuckle fresh turmeric, peeled and grated
1 t. ground coriander
2 t. salt
1/2 t. black ground pepper

Place onion into pressure cooker insert and add 3 T. water. Bring to a boil using the saute setting, and add onions. Saute for 3 minutes, stirring if needed. Add garlic, and carrots, and saute for another minute or so.
Add bay leaves, thyme, broth/water, lentils, potato, turmeric, and coriander.

Lock the lid into place and cook at pressure for 7 minutes.  Allow the pressure to release naturally. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve as is, with crusty bread, or over a bowl of rice, quinoa, barley, faro, or a mixture of these grains.

Brussel Sprouts to fight over

Growing up I experienced brussel sprouts just a handful of times. On one of those occasions, my brother and I posed for a photo with our cheeks stuffed like chipmunks.  Then we spit them out because they were so bitter and I hoped to never have to eat them again. Blech!

You may have thought I was jesting with the title of this recipe, but no, for the children (teenagers) had a fight today over these brussel sprouts...complete with someone stomping off to her room crying.. because we used the "I cut, you choose" method when they were dividing them up, and her portion was a little less than her sisters.  Yeah, they are that good. We've had them twice last week.

Our discovery began this Thanksgiving. A friend invited us to dinner and kept talking proudly about how we would be having brussel sprouts. I was not excited...not in the least, but rather I was worried about having to eat them graciously. Somehow, I avoided them, but my family kept raving about them. They kept asking "why we don't eat those, are they too expensive??" So, I asked my friend for her recipe, which I've adapted here just a bit for our family's needs.  
Super simple, and it takes maybe 15 minutes start to finish.

1 lb brussel sprouts - washed, and bottoms trimmed
2 T. coconut milk 
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400*
Half brussel sprouts and place in medium sized bowl. 
Add coconut milk and toss to coat. 
Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet - I use a silpat, if you don't have one, I recommend a layer of foil. Salt to taste.

Place on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, gently stirring once.

Stand back and let the fighting begin - we have a tough time actually getting these to a serving bowl on the table...half usually go missing in the transition!  

Monday, January 2, 2017

Almond milk - whole food, plant based, vegan milk

Almost three months ago, I decided to try out a Whole Foods, plant based diet-not as in "diet" but as in lifestyle. In adopting this new lifestyle, I decided to cut out all processed sugars, oils, processed foods and refined flours.

I know, it sounds pretty extreme, but it has been an incredible adventure. I'm learning how to cook ALL over again. I didn't see that one coming!

I originally thought I'd try it just to see how my body would respond for 3 months.  And my body has loved it. I LOVE knowing exactly what I'm putting into my body.  I've looked and looked for a suitable milk option and just haven't found one that doesn't have sugar or oil, or ingredients I don't recognize or can't pronounce. So, I've been making my own almond milk.

I've tried it using a date or two as a sweetener, but found that it fermented and only lasted a day or so. So I've been using some raw, unfiltered honey.

Here's the method I've been enjoying the most:

1 cup raw almonds
4 cups water
Dash of salt
1/2-1 teaspoon raw unfiltered honey (preferably from your own bees!)

Place almonds into a quart jar and fill with water. Place in the fridge and
allow to soak overnight.
Drain and rinse almonds.

Place in a high powered blender. Add 4 cups filtered water, honey and dash of salt.
Blend until smooth.

Stain using a nut bag (best ever, takes about 3 minutes), or strain cheesecloth.

Add additional water for consistency.
Place in a container with a sealable lid, and refrigerate immediately.
Lasts 5-7 days.

Use ground almond meal remains in breads, granolas etc. 

Hot chocolate - Whole Food Plant Based, vegan

We woke up to 8 inches of snow and after our walk and some snow shoveling, we were totally craving a warm mug of hot cocoa. 

Honestly, I'd been mulling over how to make a sugar free, vegan hot chocolate for a while. My very skeptical non-vegan teenage test taster said it wasn't too bad (that's like winning the lottery), and she said I could probably sale it, she then suggested we move to Seattle and set up hot chocolate stand and hot cider stand.  She's a funny one, but she asked for seconds and thirds. 

This comes out warm and creamy and perfectly hits the spot of a great comfort food on a snowy day.  Mmmm 

3 cups almond milk 
2-3 T cocoa powder or cacao nibs (for a deeper chocolate taste)
6-8 dates (seeds removed) covered with and soaked for 15 minutes in boiling water
1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews preferably soaked overnight or 15 min in boiling water.
Additional boiling water

Cinnamon (optional)
Vanilla (optional)

Place dates and water they were soaked in, into a high powered blender. 
Blend until smooth.
Add cocoa powder, almond milk and cashews, blend until smooth. Add additional boiling water until it reaches your desired consistency. 
Add a dash of cinnamon or vanilla if desired (optional).

Serve immediately.