Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Keep Fido Out Of The Brownies
Marijuana Can Kill Your Dog

Our husky-lab Budha as a puppy.

Toking Up for the Holidays?
As marijuana is legalized in certain states for recreational and medical use, I would venture to guess that some of you will be toking up for the holidays or adding that special ingredient to your favorite holiday baked goods (perhaps there's some hope for that dreaded fruit cake after all.) Of course common sense would tell you to keep all alluring edibles away from the children, but what you may not know is that marijuana is very toxic to dogs. It's also dangerous for cats but most cats are finicky and wouldn't eat it, although they could inhale it.

I opened this morning's Press Democrat (our local newspaper here in Sonoma county) to find my friend Diane Szczepanski on the front page with her dog Rae who became terribly ill after ingesting marijuana at the fairgrounds. Unfortunately there were two events this weekend there. The canine agility competition (which is what Diane and her dog were participating in) and the Emerald Cup, the world's only outdoor cannabis competition. After her "potty walk" around the fairgrounds, the dog appeared a bit out of it. After getting home, Rae fell deathly ill. In the emergency room, they diagnosed the problem as marijuana toxicity.

Diane Szczepanski with her border collie Rae
from the Press Democrat article.

Signs of Marijuana Poisoning in Pets
Symptoms of marijuana poisoning are:
* glassy-eyes
* stumbling and incoordination
* dilated pupils
* vomiting
* urinary incontinence
* lowered body temperature and heart rate
* coma or seizures

Treatment and Recovery
Charcoal is often administered to absorb the toxins and IV fluids are administered. Ventilator support and hospitalization are required when critical. It can take pets 18 to 36 hours to recover. If severe cases are not properly treated, your pet could die.

Add Marijuana to the List
Three years ago I wrote an article on Foods to Avoid Feeding your Dog. Since those foods include chocolate, macadamia nuts, and raisins, any of these foods in marijuana edibles would certainly add to the toxicity if ingested by your pets. Pets can also be sickened by inhalation of the smoke. 

So if marijuana is on the menu this holiday, keep it far away from the kids AND the pets!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Chia Hachiya Vegan Eggnog
2014 Virtual Vegan Potluck
Ripen A Hichiya Persimmon Overnight!

No eggs, no dairy - just creamy eggnog goodness!

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download my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen
on Amazon and iTunes.

Welcome to the 2014 Virtual Vegan Potluck!
Bloggers from all over the world are participating once again to bring you delicious vegan recipes - from appetizers to desserts. You will be able to click to through to their recipes later on but first, let me share my mine.

Hachiya Persimmons
This recipe starts with a funny story - well, maybe not-so-funny story. 

Four years ago I planted what I thought was a fuyu persimmon tree. It hasn't done very well. In fact I haven't gotten a single persimmon on it - until this year. I got ONE. Yes, after four long years I got one stinkin' persimmon. I didn't even notice it until every leaf fell off the tree and then, there it was. A big hachiya persimmon. I waited all this time only to discover that the nursery sold me the wrong persimmon tree!

My entire harvest!

Ripen a Hachiya Overnight!
The reason I didn't like hachiya persimmons that much was because they took so long to ripen and lose their astringency. But I recently discovered that they can easily ripen overnight if you put them in the freezer! Who knew? 

Freeze overnight or longer and defrost.
If you have the time, let them sit out an extra day
after defrosting to ripen even more.
Slice and scoop out ripened fruit. 

Friends with Persimmon Trees are the Best Kind
My friends Bill and Lauren have been supplying me with fuyu persimmons while I've been patiently waiting for my tree to produce. My friends Ray and Rory have lots of hachiyas that I have never been that interested in because I didn't know the freezer trick. But now I'm thrilled about getting hachiyas from them and they have generously given me several boxes of them. His tree gets almost 1,000 persimmons on a good year!

Thanks Ray and Rory!

The Best Recipes are Accidents
Now that I am mother to many hachiyas, I've been wondering what to do with them. One day I made a smoothie with almond milk, cinnamon, chia seeds, and a juicy persimmon and my husband said, "this tastes like eggnog!" It sure did. To be certain, I threw a shot of bourbon in it, sprinkled it with nutmeg and it was wonderful. I was so excited because I LOVE EGGNOG but can't have dairy. And, I HATE CALORIES. Even the vegan eggnogs in the store are crazy high in calories.

So I have been playing around with this recipe all week and I think I've finally perfected it. 

Chia Hachiya Eggnog Ingredients

By the way, this eggnog has only 185 calories and 3 grams of fat, even with a shot of Maker's Mark. Regular eggnog, with a shot of whiskey, has over 400 calories and 19 grams of fat! 

          *                             *                            *

Chia Hachiya Eggnog
Vegan, Gluten Free (if using a gluten-free alcohol or omitting alcohol)
[makes 6 (1-cup) servings]
Requires a good blender

Plan ahead one day to freeze persimmons and a few hours to defrost and soak chia seeds.

2 large hachiya persimmons
4 cups Silk vanilla almond milk (or other non-dairy vanilla, sweetened milk)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg plus some to sprinkle
2 packets stevia, or to taste 
Tiny pinch of salt
6 ounces (3/4 cup) Maker's Mark whiskey (optional)*

* Maker's Mark does not claim to be gluten free because they use red winter wheat used as a flavoring grain that gives it its special taste. However, the bourbon is double-distilled which supposedly strips the gluten from the wheat. Use your own discretion given your particular sensitivity to gluten. For a gluten-free alcoholic eggnog, substitute rum, which is generally gluten free. If gluten is not a problem, I highly recommend adding Maker's Mark.

The night before, or sooner, place the hachiya persimmons in the freezer. 

Take them out of the freezer to defrost. Meanwhile, sprinkle chia seeds into the vanilla almond milk and stir vigorously until they are well separated. Do this several times over the course of 10 minutes to make sure they don't clump together. Set aside for an hour or more while the persimmons are just defrosted enough to cut. 

Slice the top off the persimmons and then cut each vertically in four pieces, cutting away the inner, fibrous center vein that tends to be astringent.

Scoop out the flesh and place in the blender, discarding the skin. 

Stir up the milk and chia seeds and add them to the blender along with the cinnamon, 1/8th teaspoon of the nutmeg, stevia and salt. Blend until smooth.

Pour into glasses and stir an ounce (2 tablespoons) of Maker's Mark (or other bourbon) or rum into each glass (optional). Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve. 

Per serving (without alcohol) 116 calories, 3 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 594 mg omega-3 and 219 mg omega-6 fatty acids**, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 108 mg sodium.

Per serving (without a shot of Maker's Mark) 185 calories, 3 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 594 mg omega-3 and 219 mg omega-6 fatty acids**, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 108 mg sodium.

** Omega fatty acids do not include contribution from almond milk since that information is not available.

OK, now for the rest of the Virtual Vegan Potluck Recipes!




Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Shiitake And Maitake Mushroom Stroganoff
An Elegant Vegan And Gluten-Free Holiday Recipe

Fresh shiitake and maitake mushrooms are used for this elegant
vegan stroganoff recipe but others can be substituted.

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Mushrooms for your Health
Shiitake and maitake mushrooms are both known for their heath-promoting and disease-fighting properties. I am so fortunate to live down the street from Gourmet Mushrooms Inc, where they grow a gorgeous assortment of yummy fungi. (See my Tour of Gourmet Mushrooms back in 2011).  In October they had a great direct-to-the-public sale and I was able to walk away with almost 6 pounds of fresh shiitake and maitake mushrooms for $20. Who could resist?

Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula endodes) have been found, in animal studies, to lower cholesterol, slow or stop the growth of tumors and inhibit viruses by boosting the immune system. Their medicinal use dates back to 100 AD.

Maitake mushrooms (grifolla frondosa), also known as "hen of the woods", have been shown to modulate glucose levels (important for limiting development of type 2 diabetes). Research has also studied their ability to fight tumor grown by restricting the proliferation of blood cells that feed them.

Shiitakes, around the edges, and maitake in the middle of bowl

Besides these important health benefits, they are both delicious and make the  perfect ingredients for hearty, meat-free main course meals. This shiitake and maitake mushroom stroganoff can be made with other mushrooms if you can't find fresh shiitakes and maitakes where you live. Cremini or white button mushrooms can be substituted for the shiitakes and oyster mushrooms for the maitake.

I like to make a simple veggie broth out of the shiitake mushroom stems and a few other veggies. If you don't want to do that, just use whatever broth you'd like. You can even use a veggie bouillon cube (my favorite is Rapunzel) in water. But save the stems in the freezer in case you decide to use them for veggie stock later.

       *                      *                       *

Shiitake and Maitake Mushroom Stroganoff
Vegan and Gluten Free (if using gluten-free pasta)
[makes 4 to 6 servings]

For the stroganoff
4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
8 ounces fresh maitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup almond or other non-dairy milk
2 1/2 cups veggie broth* 
1 tablespoon Earth Balance buttery spread
1/4 cup Tofutti dairy-free sour cream
1 or 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or vermouth, to taste
8 ounces pasta (for gluten free I use Garden Pagodas from Ancient Grains)
2 T chopped fresh parsley (optional)

* For the broth (if you want to make your own)
Stems from the above shiitake mushrooms
3 cups water
8 peppercorns
1 stalk celery, cut in thirds
1 thick slice of onion
1 small carrot, sliced in fourths

Prepare the mushrooms. Wipe the shiitake mushrooms clean with a slightly damp paper towel. Gently remove their stems and set them aside for the broth. Break apart the maitakes into smaller pieces.

Prepared mushrooms

Make the broth. Combine the shiitake mushroom stems, water, peppercorns, celery, onion and carrot and bring to a boil. Lower and simmer on medium low heat, covered, for 30 minutes.

Don't throw out the shiitake stems.
Use them to make this simple veggie-mushroom broth.

Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil to prepare the pasta.

Heat the oil in a medium pot and sauté the onion on medium low heat until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. 

Add the prepared mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they release their liquids, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and thyme.

In a small cup, add cornstarch to the almond milk and stir until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

After the broth has been cooking for 30 minutes, strain 2 1/2 cups of it into the mushrooms.

Stir in Earth Balance until melted. 

Stir in the cornstarch and milk mixture and simmer until it thickens. 

Stir in the sour cream and lemon juice (or vermouth). Adjust seasoning if needed. Cover to keep warm while making the pasta. 

Thickened stroganoff with sour cream and lemon juice.

If putting on top of pasta or noodles, prepare them according to manufacturers directions.

Drain the pasta and place in a large serving dish or 4 to 6 individual bowls. Top with stroganoff and fresh parsley and serve.

This is also delicious on top of baked potatoes! Just bake 6 potatoes, place in a shallow bowl and cover with stroganoff. Top with fresh parsley and serve. 

Nutritional Information
Per serving - 4 servings: (stroganoff without pasta or potato) 177 calories, 9 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 410 mg sodium.

 To make this dish even richer and more decadent, stir in some artichoke hearts. I prefer using the frozen ones (cook first before adding) than the canned ones.

Mushroom stroganoff with artichoke hearts

Want lots more yummy vegan recipes at your fingertips? Download my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen: Delicious and Easy Vegan Recipes and Seasonal Food Plan available on Amazon and iTunes -  only $9.99.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Chanukah And Christmas Gift Ideas
For Health-Conscious Cooks
Many Gifts Under $20 And $35

Gift ideas for health-conscious cooks.

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Meaningful and Useful Gifts
I love giving people gifts that involve cooking - gifts that inspire a person to create a delicious meal and enjoy it with family and friends. It's fun to help a young person stock their first kitchen or to give an experienced cook a new innovative kitchen tool. So here's my list of new things I've discovered or enjoyed this year that I think would make great gifts. 

Lots of people enjoyed my 2013 Great Christmas Gifts for Healthy Cooking so make sure you check out that list also. 

Things for the Kitchen that Make Wonderful Gifts - 2014
Gifts Under $20
I fell in love with Silpat mats this year. They line your pans and are perfect for making Garlicky Rosemary Roasted Potatoes or Vegan Italian Pignoli cookies. NOTHING sticks to these mats and they allow you to cook without using oil to grease the pans.

Making cookies is a snap on these Silpat sheets,
especially sticky ones like pignolis or macaroons.

You can buy Silpat mats in different sizes to fit half sheet pans, 14 3/8-inch x 9 1/2-inch pans, even toaster oven pans. These all run under $15 each.

Bean, Rice, and Grains make a beautiful and inexpensive gift, especially if you buy unusual heirloom varieties in pretty one-pound packages. You can find a huge variety of conventionally grown and organic beans, rice, corn, and corn flour at Purcell Mountain Farms. Rancho Gordo also has a very nice selection of similar products. 

Jubilee Rice, Marrow Beans, Black Beans,
and Anasazi Beans from Purcell Farms.

See my recipe for Marrow Beans with Lemon and Rosemary. I bought these lovely, creamy beans online from Purcell Mountain Farms. But purchase as many as you will need at one time to defray shipping costs.

Measuring Spoons are a great gift for any young chef, or experienced chef who needs new ones. You can pick them up anywhere and you can definitely find some for under $20. I like the ones that have a rounded spoon on one side and an oblong shape on the other. The oblong side allows you to fit the spoon into narrow spice jars.

Prepworks stainless steel magnetic measuring spoons
from Progressive International are under $15

Cookbooks are always a great gift. Just stroll through your local bookstore and find something with lots of beautiful pictures that would inspire someone to cook. I'm sure you will find lots of great cookbooks for under $20.

If the person you are buying a gift for has a reader, like a Kindle or IPad, you can send them my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen, available on Amazon and iTunes for only $9.99. You'll enjoy the 145 mouth-watering photographs and the 160 vegan recipes (most are gluten free.) And it's also packed with critical nutritional information, menus for entertaining, a Seasonal Food Plan as well as information and recipes to do a Raw Food Cleanse.

Thanks to all who have bought the book this year and who have supported my vision to teach people how to cook simple, delicious, and healthy plant-based meals. 

Gifts under $35
This year I bought my first Ceramic Knife and I love it! They are incredibly sharp and stay that way for a long time. The one I have is the Kyocera Revolution 5 1/2-inch Santoku Knife with a white blade. It's a good size for chopping veggies. The perfect gift for those friends with dull knives!

Kyocera Ceramic Knife

An Immersion Blender is an amazing kitchen tool. Instead of having to blend those creamy soups in your blender (and often in batches), you just immerse this hand blender into your soup pot and voila, you've got blended soup.

Here's one that's a little nicer than mine because it has 2 speeds. It's the Cuisinart Smart Stick 2-Speed Immersion Hand Blender in brushed chrome.  To see how I use this tool, read my post on how to make Creamy Celeriac, Potato and Pear Soup.

Immersion hand blender

Another great gift is Wine! Recently I wrote about why it's important to know What is in Your Wine. The Pinot Noir we grow in our vineyard here in Sebastopol is not only delicious but it's vegan and gluten free. Check out our Turtle Vines Pinot Noir which is one of the wines featured in the Modvive Ultimate Gift Guide.  

Gifts over $50
Spice up someones life with a collection of spices. I particularly like using and gifting Organic Spices. Go to a local spice store and buy what you think a person would use. If it's a spice that the person hasn't yet tried, it would be nice to include a sample recipe that includes the spice. It the person you are buying for is just setting up their kitchen (a newly married couple, for example), buy them a spice set.

This Simply Organic Gourmet Starter 12 Spices Gift Set looks really nice. I like to use organic spices because they are dried and concentrated and any toxins or pesticides on the leaves will also be concentrated. These spices are certified organic, kosher, and gluten free. They include: All purpose seasoning, basil, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, onion powder, oregano, paprika, and thyme. 

A very nice selection of spices from Simply Organic. 

Now for my favorite gift which I will happily give to anyone on my Christmas list who wants one. The Amazing Electric Instant Pot. I blogged about it in October and I still LOVE this pot and use it every day. Read about how this pot has changed my life! When I wrote about it, I only focused on its use as a pressure cooker, which is perfect for cooking beans, grains, stuffed artichokes, stews and other dishes that usually take a long time to cook. But it does a lot more. It's also a slow cooker, pressure steamer, and a rice cooker. I look forward to using every function of this pot!

Amazing Instant Pot Pressure Cooker and more.

Don't forget to check out my 2013 Gift Recommendations,
Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Are Your Dinner Guests Lactose Intolerant?
Dairy Alternatives That Will Keep Everyone Happy

How to ensure your dairy-intolerant guests 
have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Food Allergies and Preferences
Years ago you just had to count how many people were showing up for Thanksgiving dinner. How many kids and how many adults - that's it. But things are different now. Today, if you have more than two people coming for dinner, I would be willing to bet that someone has a food allergy or preference. It's important to take that into account when you are planning your menu. 

Since more than half the world is lactose intolerant, there's a good chance that at least one of your guests has an issue with dairy. It's important to ask ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.

Even if your guests tell you about their problems digesting dairy products, you may still be a little confused about what to do to your recipes so that everyone can enjoy the meal. I'll introduce you to some great dairy substitutes but first let me tell you what it means to be dairy intolerant.

What is Dairy Intolerance
A person is dairy intolerant if:
they are allergic to casein, the protein in milk, or
they are lactose intolerant and lack the enzyme lactase needed to digest milk.

Dairy includes milk and milk products such as:
Cream Cheese
Cottage Cheese
Ice Cream
Powdered Milk
Sour Cream
Any other food made from the milk of mammals. That includes dairy cows, goats, sheep, and camels. I must admit I haven't seen camel milk in the store recently, but you can actually buy camel milk from a company called Desert Farms in Santa Monica, California! Who knew? 

Some people tolerate dairy from goats and sheep (and maybe even camels) better than from cows but always check with your guests before you toss some goat feta in the salad.

Eggs are not dairy. Someone who is just avoiding dairy can eat eggs.

Dairy Alternatives
There are some delicious dairy-free products available that you can use in your recipes to accommodate your dairy-free guests and, in most recipes, your dairy loving guests may not even be able to taste the difference!

Milk and Cream
There are many alternatives to dairy milk. Soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, and hemp milk, to name a few, can all be used as a replacement. For everyday use, I probably enjoy almond milk the best. Whole Foods carries their own brand that is organic. These non-dairy milks can be used in most recipes that call for 1%, 2%, or skim milk. If you need a more creamy, dense milk to replace whole milk or cream, you can buy soy creamer or coconut creamer.

Substitute 1%, 2%, or skim milk with non-dairy milk.
Substitute whole milk or cream with non-dairy creamer.

Instead of butter, you can use Earth Balance. This buttery spread is vegan, lactose and casein free, gluten free and is non-GMO and it melts like butter. I've used it for years - it's great. They even sell a Shortening Stick that is handy for pie crusts. Olive oil is a healthier alternative to use on vegetables and in some baked goods. 

Sour Cream
If you want to make your mashed potatoes or twice-baked potatoes super creamy, blend in some Tofutti Sour Cream but make sure you get the one that is non-hydrogenated. For some odd reason they still continue to make one that contains trans fats. The non-hydrogenated one looks like this.

Tastes just like sour cream.

Dairy-free mashed potatoes are a snap by using Earth balance and Tofutti sour cream. To make them more moist, add the water from boiling the potatoes or some almond milk. 

Ice Cream
If you are looking for an ice cream substitute to top that dairy-free crisp, there are plenty of non-dairy frozen desserts. So Delicious makes some wonderful dairy-free ice creams made from coconut milk, almond milk and soy milk.

No need to skip the cheese and crackers now that Miyoko's Kitchen offers a wide selection of delicious artisan dairy-free "cheeses".  

Have a Happy Dairy-Free Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sweet And Orangey Brussels Sprouts
Stove Top Or Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipe
Perfect Side Dish For The Holidays

Orange and maple syrup flavored Brussels sprouts.

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For more holiday recipes, download
Health Begins in the Kitchen on Amazon & iTunes

Planning my Thanksgiving Menu
Thanksgiving should have been named the Holiday of Starch with mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and stuffing always being the highlights of the menu. But my favorite dish is always Brussels Sprouts, even though I also make garlicky green beens for those who aren't crazy about the petite cabbage. Last year I made Roasted Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Shallots with Pomegranate Seeds. A few years ago I served them raw in a Brussels Sprouts Salad with Orange Chia Seed Vinaigrette, Dried Cranberries and Almonds. But this year's recipe is super simple and flavorful with just a handful of common ingredients.

If you have a Instant Pot or similar pressure cooker, this recipe will take only a few minutes. But I'll also show you a simple stove top recipe too.

It's nice to have an extra pot on Thanksgiving day since
all the burners and the oven are full of other things!

             *                           *                          *

Sweet and Orangey Brussels Sprouts 
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 8 servings]

2 pounds Brussels sprouts (1.5 pounds when trimmed)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon Earth Balance buttery spread
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Trim 1/4 inch off the bottom of each Brussels sprout. If they are large, cut them in half. Otherwise, leave them whole. Rinse under cold water.

Stove Top Recipe
Place the Brussels sprouts in a 5-quart Dutch oven or medium pot with a steamer basket. Steam them until they are fork tender. Some people like them as hard as a rock but I am not one of those people. I think they taste creamier when you can pierce them easily with a fork. 

Drain the cooked Brussels sprouts in a colander and set aside. Remove the steamer basket and remove all water.

Using the same pot, combine the orange juice and zest, Earth Balance, and maple syrup. Heat at a low temperature until the Earth Balance melts, stirring so that it mixes with the other ingredients.

Orange sauce

Add the Brussels sprouts to the orange sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir until each Brussels sprout is covered with the warm sauce. Serve immediately or reheat before serving.

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipe
Place all of the ingredients in the Instant Pot or similar Pressure cooker.

Cover with the pressure cooker top, making sure that the quick release switch is closed. 
Push the manual button and set it for 4 minutes if the Brussels sprouts are good size and whole and 3 if they are very small or cut in half. If you like them harder than fork tender, you should set it for less time. You can always cook them longer if they aren't done to your liking.

When the time is up, hit the off button and quick release the pressure.

Stir until the Brussels sprouts are evenly covered with sauce and serve.

Per serving: 65 calories, 2 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 83 mg omega-3 and 45 mg omega-6 fatty acids*, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 179 mg sodium.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Have A Vegan Wine And Cheese Party!
Stock Up On Miyoko's Artisan Vegan "Cheese"
Perfect For Holiday Entertaining

Finally, Vegan "cheese" that tastes like cheese. Thanks Miyoko!

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Need holiday ideas? Download Health Begins in the Kitchen
on Amazon and iTunes.

Really, it Tastes Like Cheese!
I've always been very honest with you about vegan "cheese" because, let's face it, most of it is horrible. Some fake "cheese" products are passible buried in a lasagna or enchilada casserole but they simply do not taste good on a cracker and I certainly wouldn't ruin a good glass of wine eating them.

But Miyoko's Kitchen has produced a wide variety of "Cultured Nut Products" (they legally can't call it cheese because it lacks dairy) that are out of this world. 

A few years back, Miyoko tried to inspire people to make their own in her book, Artisan Vegan Cheese but enough people encouraged her to just make the "cheese" products and sell them. Well, she finally did just that and many vegans and those allergic to dairy, like myself, are very grateful. And, they are all gluten free.

If you want to try and do this yourself, buy
Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner

Lots of Products to Choose From
I haven't yet tried them all but I'll list them for you.

Classic Double Cream Chive
This one is amazing. I grated some on a baked potato with a spoonful of Tofutti sour cream and I was in heaven. You can also use some to stir into your vegan mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner. You won't be disappointed. 
This has a 60 day shelf life.
Double Cream Chive pairs well with a tannic Chianti, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.

Double cream chive on top of a baked potato with Tofutti

Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic
I also loved this one and crumbled it on top of a homemade veggie pizza. It didn't really melt  but the flavors were wonderful. I think next time I will spread it on the crust first before putting the veggies on or grate it so it's thinner. It think it would melt if it were stirred into hot pasta. It would go beautifully with a nice Chianti.
This product has a 60 day shelf life.

Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic on veggie pizza

High Sierra Rustic Alpine
I think this one is my favorite. It's semi hard so it cuts well if you want to put it on a cracker or a slice of apple. To me it has the flavor of an aged cheddar with hints of bacon. I wanted to try making a panini with this "cheese" but I loved it so much I just consumed it all before I had a chance. Time to buy more!
Although I can't imagine it lasting very long in the fridge, this product has a nice long 90 day shelf life.
High Sierra Rustic Alpine can stand up to a good Cabernet Sauvignon but is also delightful with a Sauvignon Blanc. 

Fresh Loire Valley in a Fig Leaf
This soft wheel is beautifully wrapped in a wine-cured fig leaf. I haven't had a chance to try this one yet but Miyoko suggests serving with fruit and crackers and pairing with a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, a classic Bordeaux or a Semillon. 
It has a shelf live of 60 days.

I'm borrowing this picture from Miyoko's website so you can
see just how beautifully this one is presented.

I will get a chance to finally try this one on Friday!

French Style Winter Truffle
Marbled with truffle-scented mushrooms, this earthy delight was my daughter's favorite. Perhaps that's because it paired so beautifully with our Turtle Vines vegan Russian River Pinot Noir!
This product has the shortest shelf life of 30 days but do you think it would last that long around your holiday guests? I think not.

Read more about why you should drink vegan wine.

Aged English Sharp and Aged English Smoked Farmhouse
I tried the sharp version which was wonderful just on a simple cracker. It tasted like an aged cheddar with very complex flavors and paired nicely with a Petite Syrah.
Both of these have a nice long shelf life of 90 days.

Country Style Herbes de Provence
This beautiful wheel is encrusted in herbs and since it pairs beautifully with champagne and Prosecco, what better "cheese" to serve on New Year's Eve? But you obviously have to be a fan of Herbes de Provence.
This one also has a nice long shelf life of 90 days.

Country Style Herbes de Provence

How to Buy
Since these are made in Fairfax, California, I assume the product will start popping up in some local grocery stores in Northern California soon. I believe it is being carried in a Whole Foods in Novato and in the Community Market at the Barlow in Sebastopol. But if you can't find it in your town, you can buy it online at Miyoko's Kitchen Website. Right now you can only buy preselected collections of these "cheeses" and are not able to select individual products (I don't know if that will change in the future). For example:

The Harvest Collection contains: 
Fresh Loire Valley in a Fig Leaf
French Style Winter Truffle
High Sierra Rustic Alpine
Classic Double Cream Cheese
Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic

The Traditional Collection offers:
Aged English Sharp Farmhouse
Aged English Smoked Farmhouse
High Sierra Rustic Alpine

The Party Platter contains:
A Limited Edition Double Cream Garlic Herb
Fresh Loire Valley in a Fig Leaf
French Style Winter Truffle
High Sierra Rustic Alpine
Aged English Sharp Farmhouse
Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic

But if you are going to pay for shipping, you might as well load up on these wonderful products and get a chance to taste a wide variety of them. Miyoko suggests you order before Monday, November 24th at 12:00pm (PST) if you want delivery before Thanksgiving.

A big THANK YOU to Miyoko for making these wonderful products!