Gingersnap Cranberry Balls

Since the raw brownies  I made a few weeks ago were a success I thought I’d try some of the other energy balls I saw on pinterest. But since I cannot follow a recipe verbatim to save my life I drew inspiration from a few recipes and decided to do my own thing.

Gingersnap Cranberry Balls

20 Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger snap cookies

1/2 cup walnuts, ground

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 TB Maple Syrup

8 Medjool Dates (SEEDS REMOVED)

Toss everything in food processor, process unti everything is incorporated, roll into 3/4 inch balls, should make at least 20 balls

Here is your SCHWEET nutrition facts for 1 ball, 90 kcals isn’t too bad.

Bearded men like gingersnap cranberry balls

So do beautiful nurses

Thank you to D.O. and to Laura for being great taste testers and food models.

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Mmmmm, I don’t know why I was drawn to this recipe initially, other than I FREAKIN LOVE MACARONIC AND CHEESE.

I love the 800 calorie a serving Stoffers frozen mac and cheese. I love the fluorescent orange Kraft mac and cheese (however I prefer the “shapes” version the most, dinosaurs, spongebob, etc). A treat is Annie’s brand Whole Wheat Shells and White Cheddar boxed macaroni, mmmm. Absolutely loved that stuff.

But, as stated, mac and cheese is usually chock full of fat and cholesterol.

This recipe is low on saturated fat, “meh” on protein, and has ZERO cholesterol.

Okay, mild rant on cholesterol . . . it’s not as bad as everyone says it is, so take a chill pill. Breast milk for goodness sake has copious amounts of cholesterol in it. . . actually on second thought I’ll tackle cholesterol another day.

Back to the recipe.

First of all, this is far from original for me. I’ve tried other vegan mac and cheese recipes with nutritional yeast, cashews etc, but my favorite HANDS down is Hannah Kaminsky’s from her blog BitterSweet. I won’t use her pictures (which are GORGEOUS by the way) and I won’t post her recipe either. But you can access it from here.

My changes: Double the tumeric, use 1 cup instant mashed potatoes rather than the 1 cup yukons. I also omit the oil, it’s a texture/consistency thing, add it in if you want the consistency, but I don’t miss it or the caloires.

You really do need a food processor for this recipe. Yum. Seriously my favorite comfort food ever.

And nutritional yeast? It’s a dream. Love that stuff, anytime I’m making something and I want it “cheesy” I just add a few TB of it, does the trick everytime. Kind of challenging to find. I purchase it in the bulk sections of health food stores, Co-Ops, Whole Foods, Main Market . . . how I wish Trader Joe’s would carry it, but it is a little obscure, even for TJs.

When I buy it, I buy a lot, so I don’t have to hunt it down another day. 

At the end of the day is this REALLY all that better for you? Well, I did the calculations following the recipe WITH my changes (omit the oil etc) and this is what I found. Here is one “unit” of Kraft Easy Mac

And here is one LARGE serving of the Vegan Mac and cheese (this is calculated on my own using FDA data for nutrition facts)

Pretty much better all the way around. Of course, bear in mind this is macaroni and cheese, it has tons of sodium and carbs in it. So, still probably not an every day food. But pretty darn reasonable. And not bad on the tummy either. Oh, I forgot to mention it has tons of vitamins in it, since you actually use the water you cook the carrots and onions in, and nutritional yeast has lots of vitamins in it. Here is the rest of the nutrition data.

Dang! Look at that! Pretty great I think.

Black Bean Burgers

My mom went through this fantastic health food phase in the early 90’s, and that is when I was introduced to manufactured “Garden Burgers”, they have greatly improved over the years, my mom and dad still get garden burgers on occasion.

I think it was the Morningstar Farms brand that came out with a spicy black bean burger that was delicious. That was my inspiration for this recipe. I absolutely love black beans. If you took all the bean varieties and rated them by their percent of nutritional awesomeness black beans are right up there with the top 3 in my opinion.

They’ve got loads of protein, iron, calcium, B-vitamins and lets not forget FIBER. Very important for many reasons.

Oh, and yes, this meal does constitute as a COMPLETE PROTEIN, there is egg in the patty. The only fat in addition to the beans is in the egg, so this is an incredibly low-fat, high protein meal. Mmmm yum.

We ate these burgers with spinach, tomato, Dijon mustard and ketchup.

Black Bean Burgers

3 cups black beans

4 slices bread toasted*

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp salt

2 tsp cumin

2 TB hot sauce

Toast 4 slices of bread (I used stale oatnut bread) tear up and pulse in food processor until desirable size (see above photo, anything works really). Pour bread crumbs into large bowl. Pulse black beans in food processor with eggs, pepper, salt and cumin until smooth (if it all doesn’t fit in processor then blend beans in smaller portions and mix all together in bowl). Mix black bean mixture with bread crumbs (add hot sauce if that’s your thing), roll into 10 balls. Spray small pan with non-stick coating, press a ball into a patty with hands and place on heated pan (medium heat) cook on each side until browned, about 3 minutes on each side.

This recipe made 9 burgers, but could have EASILY made 10, I just wasn’t paying too much attention.

*I suppose you could use bread crumbs, commercially packaged bread crumbs, however, without sounding like a nutritional snoot, I would encourage you to read the ingredients and nutrition facts on a container of . . . let’s say Progresso Bread Crumbs, it’s kind of yucky. Many more ingredients that just a slice of bread and often additional trans fat. One of the few food products STILL on the market with significant amounts of trans-fat. You’ve been warned.

More Bean facts (I LOVE WSU)

The Ultimate Leftover Food: Fried Rice

We went camping this weekend, along Lake Coeur d’Alene. It was beautiful, warm and very relaxing. We were blessed with wonderful company. We also ate amazing food. More on that later. Here is one photo from the trip!

We made hobo packs, they were great, we had a lot of leftovers though, and they all had one thing in common, they were great in fried rice.

I’ve mentioned my obsession with cabbage and basmati rice. Both of these made an appearance in this fried rice. I kind of am under the impression that just about anything can show up and meld well in a pan full of fried rice. You just need eggs, cooked rice (ideally leftover) and soy sauce. But this particular batch was unparalleled in goodness.

I call my fried rice “fried”, but it isn’t really. I actually never used oil or additional grease. The veggies had enough moisture and I just pan fried the finished product a little to give it a a final color and texture of fried rice.

Fried Rice

1.5 cups basmati rice

3 cups water

1 head of cabbage, chopped

1 package Trader Joe’s Jalepeno Chicken Sausage, chopped

3 Carrots, peeled, chopped

1 onion, chopped

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 red pepper, chopped

8 eggs

3 TB soy sauce

2 tsp fish sauce

2 TB Sriracha Sauce

In medium saucepan heat water and rice until boiling, put a lid on it and allow to simmer 20 minutes (OR use a rice cooker). In large wok or non-stick skillet pan (large frying pan . . . what have you . . . ) add onion, carrots and chicken sausage cook on medium, cover, stirring occasionally. When carrots are softened add mushrooms, red pepper and cabbage, cover and allow cabbage to soften, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  In separate pan cook eggs with soy sauce, kind of like a mix between fried eggs and scrambled. Add rice and cooked eggs to skillet and stir in fish sauce, sriracha sauce and additional soy sauce to taste. Cook on medium high and mix occasionally, allowing bottom of pan to brown rice and veggies slightly.

Mmm yum. Serve with chopsticks! This is a great side dish, but Matt and I eat it most often as the main entree. Enjoy!

Cherry Caribbean Mockarita

I made tamales today, again.  But I made some changes to my recipe which I’ll change in the recipe itself.

It’s almost getting too hot outside to make tamales, it got to a whopping 68 degrees here today. Oh Spokane. . . seriously now, you had your winter, 8 months of it in fact, since you are determined to only recognize 2 seasons, that obviously means it is now summer. Please act accordingly. Sincerely, Laura

Despite the “warm” weather, cool drinks are always great w/ Mexican food, and my sweet mom gave me her old ice chipper. It’s loud and it doesn’t work very well. Often it stops working all together and I have to un-assemble it and melt the blade with warm water, then reassemble for it to work again. Matt questioned whether the Snoopy ice grinder, beloved by our generation would work better. I think it would.

But as long as Margaritaville ice shavers are $199 at Target and I have a conscious about spending $199 on something that shaves my ice for me, we will continue to use the beast with a thankful heart.



Cherry Caribbean Mockaritas

1 part Corona

1 part Cherry 7-up

1 part Rum (the cheaper the better . . . )

1/2 part frozen limeade concentrate

Mix and Pour over shaved ice. Garnish with maraschino cherries


Refried Beans, but not


I grew up with canned vegetarian refried beans. That was the bean product of choice for tacos. I really didn’t like them. Something about how they “slurped” out of the can and how thick they were, even when well heated, just didn’t sit right with me. I remember getting Rosarita’s “vegetarian refried beans with lime”, which was more tolerable, but still mildly dreadful.

I liked the lard laden ones at the local taco joint, those were great, but not really something I would want to eat on a regular basis.

Now, I’ve always enjoyed whole beans in tacos, black beans and kidney beans primarily.

But it wasn’t until I went to my friend Laura’s house  (owner of a white plate that I borrowed for blog photo purposes), that I discovered homemade “refried beans” style mashed pinto beans. She made them from whole dry pinto beans with a few seasonings and mashed them.

Mind blown.

You mean, you can make refried beans from scratch??? (I’ve obviously never considered this)

Last week, while visiting my mom, she gave me some dry beans she didn’t get around to usingImage

Pinto Splits? Good enough.

I found it funny, that the bag said “No Cholesterol”. Well, there better darn well not be any cholesterol in DRIED BEANS. I would be terrified if there was. Made me think of Almost Pizza.

I dumped a half a bag of them in my slow cooker with water, a diced onion, garlic, cumin, hot sauce and black pepper, let it do it’s thing for awhile and then, according to other recipes, I drained the water out, and then mashed the beans up. At that point I added salt, adding it before would have made the beans more difficult to cook. I then re-added additional water to get it to a perfect consistency, and squirted a little lime juice in for flavor.


Oh my. Delish.

The beans were so good, we just wanted to eat them plain with chips or tortillas. We were out of tortilla chips so we made some with leftover corn tortillas.

But then we burnt them, smelled the whole house up, practically caught the oven on fire (not the first time we’ve done that). We threw up the white flag and ran to Rosauer’s instead.


Refried Beans, un-fried

2 lbs Pinto Splits

8 cups of water

1 TB ground cumin

1 onion, chopped

3 TB fresh garlic, chopped

3 TB Valentina Hot Sauce (I think this is in every recipe I’ve made, lol)

1 lime

4 tsp salt (to taste)

Toss beans, water, cumin, onion, garlic and hot sauce in slow cooker for 6 hours on high (or over night), drain liquid from beans and reserve. Mash beans with masher or puree in food processor if you desire a more uniform texture. Add salt and the juice of one lime.

Eat as a side dish, as a dip with chips (ideally not burnt ones)

Brownies in the Raw

Okay, I’ve heard of such things, but I really didn’t believe there could be a better gluten-free, low carb brownie out there that beats my black bean brownies, yes, shamelessly arrogant brownie snob here.

But if there is a brownie that is up for the challenge of dethroning the black bean brownies in this house it’s these raw brownies.

They require no cooking, no stirring, no bowl, no eggs, oil or butter.

Oh my. They are incredible.

However I made an elementary cook mistake while preparing them

The brownies call for dates, I had never used dates before, and I didn’t realize they had seeds.

Huge seeds in fact, like the size of a small almond.

Really. Hard. Seeds.

And I plopped 13 dates into my poor indentured servant, Mr. Cuisinart F. Processor, and pushed start. The poor dear tilted on two feet one way and then the back to his other two feet then his blade disconnected and made a horrible sound.

Oh Cuisi, forgive me for those horrible seeds that knocked you senseless. I think after a nice soak in the sink ahem “bath” he is recovering.

But, please, friends, I’m sure you are all aware of date seeds, I was not. Please beware, they do not grind.

There are many raw brownie recipes, and I played with a few of them until I found my ideal. Some call for bananas, avocados, maple syrup, walnuts, cashews. They ALL call for cocoa powder

A word on Cocoa Powder and the different types here

I used Trader Joe’s unsweetened cocoa powder, oh it’s so good.

These brownies are insanely easy to make, you do need a food processor, and a few hours to chill brownies.

Brownies in the Raw

1 cup pecans

1/2 cup almonds

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 TB honey

12-13 Medjool Dates **SEEDS REMOVED**

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Place 1 cup of pecans and almonds in food processor, pulse until ground finely. Add dates, remember to remove the seeds (haha), 2 at a time, and use the pulse button to incorporate them slowly. Add cocoa, honey and vanilla. Pulse gradually until the brownie mixture looks like really great soil.

Press into 8×8 pan that is lined with saran wrap (add chocolate chips at this point). Allow to chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Cut into 12 brownies. Store covered and refrigerated (I wouldn’t be that concerned about it, other than the fact that the medjool date container from TJs says to refrigerate after opening).

I brought some to gathering with friends yesterday, and they were a hit! This is my beautiful friend Annie May, miss that girl already!