Year of No Sugar, A Memoir by Eve O. Schaub

April 21st, 2014

Over spring break I read Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub.  Ironically I finished on Easter (which she talks about as surely one of the biggest sugar holidays).  In the book Eve takes her family on a sugarless journey after hearing esteemed obesity expert and pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Robert Lustig‘s YouTube video, Sugar, The Bitter Truth talk about the dangers of sugar.  It is great that Dr. Lusitg’s research and words can reach so many (over 4.5 million view and counting) and empowered this family to take on this challenge.  And the challenge is not only to avoid sugar but also agave, syrup, fruit juice, and any other added sweetener.  Eve is also empassioned by, and  meets David Gillespie, author of Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes Us Fat.  Because of this research on the dangers of sugar, and specifically fructose, are so important to this family’s project and the book I wish I would have seen the Dr. Lustig talk and/or read the Gillespie book before reading Eve’s book.  But remember I was on break and actually poolside.  Now that I am home and back to my computer, I will.

I liked Eve’s writing style – honest, warm and witty.  I especially enjoyed reading her 10 year old daughter’s journal entries about her thoughts on the no sugar project.  When I unwrapped my copy of the book and my 10 year old son saw the title he was very concerned and immediately asked “Are we going to do that?”  So I can imagine what Eve and her family went through to survive this challenge and year.  I already seem to some as the health food nazi as I cook,pack, order, and of course, teach, about healthy foods.  This would likely send my children over the edge.  And actually Eve wondered about whether her kids would then resent her and go for sugar overload as soon as they had the chance.

It was interesting to read about the challenges and changes that happened over the year of no sugar.  By no sugar, this also means no agave, no syrup, no fruit juice, or any other added sweetener.  Eve talks about everything from poop (more frequently), and absentees from school (fewer sicknesses), to changing palates and tastebuds.  There were also lots of discussion, and agonizing over the no sugar rules and what was an exception.  One dessert per month.  Kids could make choices at school functions and birthday parties.  Dad still got to drink Dr. Pepper.  (That one baffled me).  Then there was their italian vacation.  (What no gelato?)  While the project and book is about no sugar, really what the family found out is that it’s hard to avoid.  There were  many hoops they had to go through to make food without sugar, and even harder to eat food without sugar while at a restaurant or any venue or house outside their own home.  The book certainly made me think.  Our family does not eat what I consider an excess of sugar by any means.  However I do like to bake with my kids and I find it healthier than buying processed baked goods.  And I teach my kids to go for quality over quantity or quick satisfaction for all foods.  Such as skipping a carnival ice cream for a handmade cone of gelato at the local shop after.  But I also don’t always make my own marinara sauce or condiments.  And our family does like real maple syrup on pancakes.  And let’s not talk about our house specialty…s’mores.

I was a bit surprised by the recipes as a few have sugar and others have dextrose.  Obviously I need to listen to Dr. Lustig’s talk.  But I understand these were recipes they used to get through the year.  So those with sugar were for their monthly dessert, such as Great Grandma’s Hotchkiss’s Sour Milk Chocolate Cake.  Others were no sugar versions using dextrose.  Which by the way is not found in supermarkets.  I only found for purchase online for about $6 per 2 pound bag.  I must admit I have no desire to make any of her recipes.  Sorry.  I have some great no sugar recipes of my own.

I admire Eve’s family’s commitment but felt a little let down at the end, as did Eve herself.  What was going to happen after?  They made changes and the kids are well educated about the dangers and presence of sugar.  However the family’s diet like many other restrictions also had them feeling left out of life.  Funny how sugar plays such an important role in socializing when you think about celebrations, holidays and gatherings.  I was hoping for more of a revelation, and I think Eve did too.  But they had to get back to life.  Also focusing and living this project seemed very all consuming.  It’s easier to do and not think and write about 24/7.  In the end it’s all about moderation and picking your poison.  This book sheds light on our American obsession and hopefully makes readers want to learn more about avoiding sugar, making thoughtful food choices, and searching out the experts on the topic.

Here are a few of the things (excerpted below) Eve’s family took away from our their Year of No Sugar project.  (I know I’m definitely rethinking any juice in my house.)

Number one: don’t drink sugar. If we change nothing else in our culture, we should do this one thing. Not only will we be far healthier, but we’ll begin to realize what we are up against in the Sugar Wars: the ubiquity of sugar, the elevated degree of sweetness we’ve been trained to expect. Tellingly, this cuts out most of our society’s popular options: soda, juice, sugared teas, sports drinks, vitamin waters. What’s left? Water. Lots of water. More water. Milk. Unsweetened tea and coffee. And, due to its vanishingly small percentage of fructose, I hereby give you permission to include wine. You’re welcome.

Number two: read ingredients, always. We have come to a point where it has become all too clear we cannot trust the food industry to have our best interests at heart. The more packages, boxes and bags you read, the more amazed you will be at the number of things you buy, things that are not even sweet, that contain added sugar in all its myriad guises and aliases. Think you know your favorite tomato sauce? Chicken broth? Salad dressing? Cold cuts? I’d be willing to bet if you look closely, you’re going to be surprised. The good news is there’s almost always another brand, further down the shelf, thatdoesn’t contain that sneaky ingredient, if you take the time to find it.

Number three: order simply in restaurants and don’t be afraid to ask. Once you start to ask, you’ll be amazed at how much restaurant food has added sugar in it. And that’s assuming the staff even knows what’s in their own food, which is not always the case. The usual suspects? Dressings, glazes, broths, marinades and always,always the sauce.

Number four: make sugar special. Skip the crappy cookies someone brought to the office. Try having oatmeal with bananas and raisins on top instead of brown sugar. Save your sweet tooth for that oh-so-special something that’s really worth, you know, consuming a little bit of poison for.

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Happy Birthday and National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

March 27th, 2014

I always like to bake something to send to Poppa for his birthday.  How many golf hats and shirts can you have?  Although we did that too – sshhh.  When I realized today was Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (no it’s not on my calendar, another blogger informed me) I figured that was the start.  Trying something different I was inspired by a vegan chocolate mint cookie recipe.  I made some tweaks to reduce oil, omit nuts and amp chocolate and here’s what I came up with.  I had to pack them quickly and remind my kids they were (mostly) for Poppa.

Oatmeal Chocolate Mint Cookies

The mint and spices make set these apart from the same old chocolate chip cookie recipe.  They have a scone or cake like texture because of the lack of butter and addition of applesauce.  These can be made vegan by choosing dark or vegan labeled chocolate chips.

Makes about 24 cookies

2 cups flour

1  1/2 cups chocolate chips

3/4 cups rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch ground nutmeg

2/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup applesauce

3 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place dry ingredients, first six listed, in a large bowl and mix together.

Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl.

Add wet to dry ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula.

Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.  Drop dough on prepared sheets by heaping tablespoon or small ice cream/cookie scoop.  Gently press with spatula.  Cookies will spread so leave room between.

Bake until golden brown on bottom, about 12 minutes.  Let cool on sheets.

 

 

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Scary News About Plastics – Read, Shop and Rethink for Safety

March 25th, 2014

This is a follow up to my Facebook post and article link about the safety or rather “unsafety” of plastics deemed “BPA free”.  As Earth Day Approaches I hope more people will read these articles and come up with some solutions to protect not only our earth but our children and families as well.

 

I’ve always advocated for stainless steel for lunch boxes, utensils and snack containers.  I never put hot foods in plastic or in the microwave.  I’ve always used “real” dishes, utensils, and glasses (meaning glass, porcelain and stainless) even when my kids were babies .  So, I was already motivated to throw away most of our plastic.

 

I don’t think of our family as using plastic much, but it was surprising that we do and not even think about it.  My kids use their PlanetBoxes and sometimes a stainless KidsKonserve bottle,  but most days they use a BPA free (ha!) sports bottle for water.  We all thought BPA was the poison and were lulled and marketed into “BPA Free”.  My kids use a fluoride rinse at night and I pour it into a plastic cup.  So I threw those away.  But wait the rinse is already in plastic(!).  I also threw away my kids favorite curly straws.  They don’t use them often, but they weren’t happy to see them go.  I also tossed out some “BPA Free” storage containers I sometimes use (when the glass runs out) or we’re taking something to a potluck (and I don’t mind if I leave the container behind).

 

Plastic, BPA Free or not, really is everywhere.  So besides ridding our glasses and food storage we may have to think about some other changes.  Of course there’s the packaging of food items which is hard to avoid at the grocery store.  But perhaps now we should remove the food from packages and transfer to glass when we get home.  What about that fluoride rinse?  I can’t really keep that in a pitcher or thermos.  Maybe tin cups for the bathroom?  I get worried with glass in the bathroom.  I ordered some stainless straws online (they don’t come in curly).  I went out and bought more glass food storage containers – but even most only offer those with plastic lids.  I’ll have to be more careful when packing for potlucks and events and remind myself to get my dishes back.  I’m working on the water bottles.  We already have glass and stainless but my kids like the plastic for sports games.  They don’t have to worry about breakage and are lighter to carry in their bags.  Anyone with the perfect non plastic sports bottle/container?  Please share and we can all work together.

I was so angry after reading this article about plastics.  And I grew angrier trying to rid my house of these.  I know it’s been excerpted in other periodicals and shorter articles but this full story is infuriating.  It’s amazing how big business and lobbyists are able to jump on the next bandwagon and fight consumers and families on issues of such important safety concerns.  This article details how the old tobacco consultants are now leading the efforts to keep plastic companies out of trouble.  Why not spend all those dollars to create a new plastic type material without harmful chemicals?  Here’s the entire article and study if you want a rude awakening.

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe

 

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Power Outage – Eat the Ice Cream!

March 10th, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week we had some electrical work done on our house and PG&E had to turn off our power.  I was sure to time this when I didn’t need to cook for any classes or occasions.  I needed the power to only be off 24 hours as the next night would be the school book fair cafe and I was making 3 pounds of pasta and 24 cookies.  I actually thought the day may be kind of relaxing.  No electricity meant quiet, and I would catch up on some reading and writing.  This wasn’t  really the case as the electricians had their own power and a radio with some bad metal music.  It also meant my WiFi wouldn’t turn on, so no writing (at least online).

 

After some errands and about an hour of cleaning and organizing ….  (I couldn’t figure out much more to do as reading wasn’t happening with the bad rock in the background) I thought about my refrigerator.  I couldn’t see the temperature because the digital was off.  Luckily I have an old fashioned thermometer and I checked the temp.  The refrigerator was 43 and the freezer was 14.  Oh no!  In case you don’t know the refrigerator should be 37F or lower and the freezer 0F degrees or lower.    I moved the refrigerator items to the freezer.  I couldn’t move everything but went with the most perishable – milks, veganaise, eggs, cheeses, meats, etc.  As far as the items in the freezer?  Well those would have to wait and see what happens.

mango meets vanilla

 

 

 

 

 

here comes pineapple

 

By the time I left to pick up my kids from school, the freezer was now 35.  So my freezer had become the refrigerator.  When we got home from school I announced we could eat the sorbet and ice cream in an effort not to waste food.  My kids were thrilled.  I had to improvise and say we would make a shake since some of it was a little soft and melty.  My kids suggested the blender and I reminded them about the power.  So it was the power of the whisk to blend the mango sorbet with the vanilla ice cream.  Then to really get crazy we added chunks of frozen (now just cold) pineapple pieces.  This new “whip” was a big hit.

Vanilla Mango Pineapple Whips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the time approached dinner prep, thankfully PG&E arrived to turn back on the power.  Now I had to think about dinner.  Not wanting to waste again; my kids and I took inventory of the freezer and refrigerator.  Some of the items such as vegan burgers and potstickers had already thawed.  And I was worried about eggs and veggies that sat below optimal temperatures before I got them to the freezer.  So it was an everything dinner.  I let everyone pick what they wanted from the thawed and perishable ingredients.  It was quite a smorgasbord.  I stayed with dinner left-overs while my kids crossed flavors, countries and imaginations (egg nachos and potstickers anyone?).  It was actually pretty fun.  Did I mention my husband was gone?  When we told him what happened and our crazy dinner he asked “why didn’t you just go out?”  He didn’t get it.  That would’ve been giving up and we were on a mission to save the food.

smorgasbord of makings

 

leftovers for mom

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Family Heritage Homework – Pfeffernusse Cookies

February 28th, 2014

pfeffernusse cookies

Much of my kids homework these days is focused on learning about family history and ancestors.  Luckily my mom has been charting and using ancestry.com to come up with some great names and family tree material.  I didn’t know my family had much German but my daughter and mother figured out that six greats back came from Germany.  Like others came to America looking for a better life.  My kids are understanding to be  grateful they were born in America and provided all the opportunities and freedom that those in other countries and even in our own history, did not have.  They also can’t imagine giving up their shorts and yoga pant style for proper clothing.

 

Last night was the culmination of my daughter’s family heritage study.  All the parents and families were invited to a feast to bring and share a dish from their heritage, and view all the family trees and country research the kids have assembled.  This was such a fun night.  The number of countries and food represented was staggering.  While it’s all exciting to see, this sample from around the world does not work well on my stomach.  The kids seems to have no problem putting sushi, next to perogie, next to spaghetti, next to baklava.  I had to be a bit more selective (and still needed Tums when I got home).  Most people made their dishes from scratch but a few were store/restaurant bought.  No judgement.  In fact I complimented a friend on her dish and she said it was frozen from the grocery store.  Apparently she perked it up  with a homemade sauce.

 

Being that my daughter picked Germany, we had a tricky time with the recipe choice.  Remember she’s a vegetarian, so bratwurst and stuffed cabbage was not going to happen.  We did a test run of some baked goods and she decided to make pfeffernuse cookies.  They are similar in flavor to a molasses or ginger cookies but with more spice, specifically pepper.  I skipped on the anise extract, as I couldn’t find.  Thankfully this made about twice as many as the 3 dozen the recipe says.  While this was an easy recipe, I had to remember to build in the 2 hour refrigeration time.  Luckily one batch, and we were on time and ready to share at school.

Pfeffernusse Cookies from allrecipes.com

makes 3 dozen

  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  •  1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions

  1. Stir together the molasses, honey, shortening, and margarine in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the eggs.
  2. Combine the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, anise, cinnamon, baking soda, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Add the molasses mixture and stir until thoroughly combines. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Roll the dough into acorn-sized balls. Arrange on baking sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart.
  4. Bake in preheated oven 10 to 15 minutes. Move to a rack to cool. Dust cooled cookies with confectioners’ sugar.
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Whites vs Yolks – Quick, Easy and Fun to Separate

January 19th, 2014

My mother-in-law sent me this great video for how to quickly and easily separate egg whites.  It put a big smile on my face.  I couldn’t wait to show and test at home.

Http://www.youtube.com/embed/iAp8pEaWB1Y>

I had bought a bottle of water just for the purpose and had it waiting in the kitchen.    A few days passed and then I walked in to the kitchen to see my husband had just cracked a half dozen eggs in a bowl for scrambled eggs.  I quickly stopped him and set out plates.  He was a bit taken back and I showed him the video.  He’s used to waiting for me to take photos but not set up an experiment in the middle of his breakfast making.  He watched and was pretty impressed too.  We set out plates and dumped some eggs.  My husband was concerned we were going to waste some of his eggs on the plate and wondered why we could just do in the bowl.  We decided to test that too.

When we tried getting the yolks out of the bowl, it sucked up more than the yolk. Yuk.

However the plate method worked perfectly – just like the video. (Thanks Grandma) I couldn’t wait to share this great tip.  Think of all the meringues.  And all those moms with babies who aren’t yet eating egg whites.  It was fun and kind of addictive.   My daughter and I didn’t want to stop.  We eventually did and scooped them all back in the bowl, so dad could scramble.

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Christmas Wrap-Up – Fun, Family and Food

December 27th, 2013

I really feel like I did everything I wanted (and didn’t want) to do this Christmas.  I made the teachers cookie jars in time.  We listened to Christmas music (at home, not the mall).  I found the cracked crab for Christmas Eve dinner (after hitting three stores).  We went to the Nutcracker and the Symphony.  We took the kids to Glide to experience a church and community resource like no other.  I didn’t stay up until midnight wrapping gifts.  We didn’t race through decorating the Christmas trees and no ornaments were broken.  I made enough cookies for our family and to share with others.  I didn’t get in an argument over the grandparents giving too many gifts.  My kids got appropriately dressed for the events that required more than yoga/athletic wear.  My daughter found gingerbread house kits to decorate with the grandparents.

 

All in all it was a very nice and leisurely holiday.   It probably helped that my kids were out of school a week earlier than usual (construction and moving the school).  I was thankful to have shopped early and much of it online.  We were also fortunate to celebrate with various family and friends – not all on the same day.  Even on Christmas Day, I had a few blissful hours to myself  while my family went to the driving range.  Since we’re doing some remodeling I haven’t been alone in the house in weeks.  On Christmas Day there were no contractors to bang and clang while I cooked.  With everyone gone I made a lovely butternut apple soup, dessert and prepped for the rest of the dinner.

 

The menu?  Interestingly enough we went vegetarian.  With so many dietary restrictions and preferences between my family and my in-laws I wasn’t sure what to make.  No red meat.  No pork.  I was thinking of making a turkey but a few days before Christmas we celebrated with my family and a turkey spread (of which I was able to take lots of leftovers).  We always do cracked crab and fondue for Christmas Eve – so that’s easy (not easy to find at 3pm on the eve, but easy to make).  But while I was fighting the crowd and roaming the grocery aisles I remembered my vegan sister and the lovely “roast” she had, that my kids loved at Thanksgiving.

It all turned out great.  The butternut soup, the Hazelnut Cranberry Roast en Croute (so easy), roasted little potatoes, brussels sprouts (remember I promised more), and rolls.  My in-laws were surprised but pleased.  I didn’t know Grampa didn’t like brussels sprouts.  Oops!  Well he hadn’t eaten them in years.  He tried mine and he liked them.  Just to really mess with everyone I even did a vegan dessert.  My kids cruised through the Vegan Desserts in Jars Cookbook, since my mom returned my jars from Thanksgiving (brought in her luggage!) and picked a chocolate grasshopper.  My son loved it.  Others ate it.  But my daughter and I thought the mint tasted like mouthwash.  Luckily our neighbors gave us a box of chocolates so we happily dove into those.

 

 

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Santa’s Favorite Cookies – White Chocolate Peppermint Meringues

December 22nd, 2013

 

I know I’ve written about cookies as currency.  But this year it is true at our house like no other time.  You see we’re doing some construction on our house.  So some days I’m baking cookies for the contractors to show my appreciation.  And some days I’m baking cookies for the neighbors to apologize for the contractors.
In between I’m making ginger molasses cookies for my friend’s cookie exchange (super fun and great way to get a variety of cookies) and sugar cookie cut-outs for my kids’ play dates.  While Baking I’m cranking the Christmas tunes for the spirit of it and to drown out the 12 banging contractors.  I thought we’d already been doing some serious baking however  my daughter asked this morning “Where are the cookies for Santa?”  I said, while gesturing to the boxes of homemade cookies, “Well any of the cookies could be for Santa”.  She indignantly replied that Santa’s favorite are the peppermint meringues and we have to give him those.  I kind of chuckled and thought well yes, they are one of “Santa’s” favorites.
Ever since I saw this recipe in the Sunset Magazine in 2011 these have been a household favorite.  They’re actually called White Christmas Dream Drops and were a first place winner from a reader in Tustin, CA.  But that doesn’t describe how chewy and light but packed with chocolate and peppermint flavor they are.  I brought some to a family gathering tonight and was asked for the recipe.  I couldn’t find the blog I had done when first discovering the Sunset issue so I figured I’d repeat myself.  I think I’ll be needing another batch anyways…for Santa of course.
White Christmas Dream Drops or White Chocolate Peppermint Meringues
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar $
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips $
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp. coarsely crushed peppermint candies

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 250°. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a deep bowl with a mixer, using whisk attachment if you have one, just until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and salt. With motor running and mixer on high speed, pour in 1 tbsp. sugar and beat 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat until all sugar has been added. Scrape inside of bowl and beat another 15 seconds. At this point, meringue should form straight peaks when beaters are lifted. Fold in chocolate chips and 1/3 cup candies with a flexible spatula.
  2. 2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, using a bit of meringue at corners as glue. Using a soup spoon, drop meringue in rounded 1-tbsp. portions slightly apart onto sheets, scraping off with another spoon. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. candies.
  3. 3. Bake until meringues feel dry and set when touched but are still pale, 30 to 35 minutes, switching pan positions halfway through. Turn off oven, open door, and let cookies stand about 10 minutes. Let cool on pans.
  4. Make ahead: Up to 2 days, stored airtight.
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Brussels…Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Try them!

December 20th, 2013

I find that many people are divided about their likes and dislikes with food.  Texture is a big deal.  Some prefer more or less spice.  But one food seems to really divide people and that’s brussels sprouts.  People seem to love them, hate them or won’t try them.  This is definitely a case of depends on how you prepare them.  No one likes anything cooked to bitter mush, which is what some people remember them tasting like as a kid.  They are overcooked or boiled and lifeless.

I’ve shared a favorite brussels sprouts recipe before for brussel leaves.  However you don;t always have time to peel.  This year I’ve been making a quick roasted brussels sprouts recipes that are enticing people not ask for an actually try (and enjoy) brussels sprouts.

First there was a “feast” at my son’s school.  This was very cute as each child brought in a favorite recipe to share with the class.  They each got up and told why they brought the dish, when they usually eat the dish and if there was any significance to their family.  They are next making a poster with the written recipe with a photo of them with their dish.  Recipes had to be approved by the teacher first because otherwise we would have all been eating our favorite family desserts only.  My son asked me to make stuffed grape leaves and while I loved the suggestion I was short on time.  Next he asked for brussels sprouts.  I loved this idea because I am always asking people to try them.  And in the class there were a few kids (and adults) who tried them for the first time.  Especially cooking for babies, getting to be there for a first bite is so fun.  It’s still fun for me if it isn’t babies.

The sprouts were eaten, with the exception of about 5 pieces, and my daughter polished those off in the car on the way home from school.  We had a potluck for my son’s tae kwon do that night and wasn’t sure what to bring.  It’s always a lot of pizza and desserts.  We decided to head to the store for more brussels sprouts and I made them again for that night.  It is not even the holiday yet and I made two batches in one day.  I thought my kids would be burned out on these, but my daughter asked yesterday, “Can you make brussels sprouts for Christmas?”  Sure I will.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Choose small firm compact heads with tight fitting leaves that are bright green in color for the freshest taste.

1 lb. brussels sprouts

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon rosemary sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Trim bottoms of brussels sprouts, but keep leaves intact.  Cut each sprout in half lengthwise.  Place sprouts in a plastic bag or bowl with oil and toss to coat.  Place sprouts on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, turning halfway through.  Bake until outside leaves begin to brown and crisp, and inside is fork tender.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve warm.

 

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Vegan Desserts in Jars – Cookbook Review and Pumpkin Cream Brûlée Recipe

December 5th, 2013

A few weeks before Thanksgiving I received the cookbook, Vegan Desserts in Jars, Adorably Delicious Pies, Cakes, Puddings and Much More by Kris Holechek Peters.  I was very excited flipping through the book since we would be going to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner, sharing dinner with my sister and brother in law (the vegans) and in charge of making dessert.

 

I realized the best thing about this book is inspiration for making dessert to go.  I know the jars are trendy in some restaurants however they are quite practical.  Since we had quite a drive for Thanksgiving, a pie may not have traveled as well, however these little jars with lids on were super easy to transport.  I’m going to keep this in mind for other potluck and school occasions.

 

The other thing I like about desserts in jars is the individual servings.  There is no bickering between my kids about the size of the slice or dollop or dessert.  Your jar is your jar.  You can experiment too with various size jars and vessels. Though many of the recipes are for 4 oz. canning jars which means you can reuse and try a variety of individual pies, cakes and puddings.  Canning jars can be found easily online and even at the hardware store.  Mine are from The Container Store which has a variety of styles and sizes in stock now for the holiday.  There is a section of the book that talks about jars and options.

 

I skipped the brûlée part mostly because there were so many things vying for space in my mom’s ovens.  So we made the suggested coconut cream.  I’ll be using that for all kinds of dessert toppings (or eat right out of the bowl).  I must warn you my sister, the vegan did not eat the pumpkin brûlées and that’s because she doesn’t like pumpkin pie and the consistency.  I somehow forgot.  However everyone else loved them.  My mom seemed disappointed at first because there was no traditional pie.  However we bought one from the Whole Foods bakery last minute to please the traditionalists and non traditionalists.  However it seemed the brûlées went faster.  Even though I’m not expecting any vegan guests, I’m already flipping through to see what to make for the next holiday dinner,…perhaps S’mores in a Jar or Rustic Rhubarb Cakes or Raw Pecan Pie or all of them!

Book Review:

Pros: variety of flavors and textures from pies, to breads, to custards etc.  Most of them are quick to make and convenient to transport. Great for vegans as well as those with dairy allergies.

Cons: powdered sugar wasn’t specified as “vegan”, which many vegans do not eat (see blog about bone char) . May have to invest in canning jars.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée (page 74, Vegan Desserts in Jars)

Creamy, spiced pumpkin with a crisp sugar crust is as elegant as it is comforting.

Ingredients

¾ cup non-dairy milk of choice

½ cup raw cashews

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar, divided

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)

¼ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1∕8 teaspoon salt

Makes 6 crème brûlées

Directions

Set aside six 4-ounce canning jars.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and cashews. Let them soak for about 30 minutes. Place the milk and cashews in a food processor or blender container. Purée until creamy. Add ½ cup of the sugar and the remaining ingredients, and blend until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed, about 2 minutes.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes. Fill each jar to just under the brim, leaving about ¼ inch of space. Refrigerate the jars until ready the serve.

Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar over the top of each jar. There are two options for brûléeing the desserts: using a propane brûlée torch or by broiling the tops of the desserts. If using a torch, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If broiling, place the jars on a rimmed baking sheet and turn the broiler on high. Place the jars under the broiler, with about 2 inches of space between the jars and the element. Keeping a watchful eye (the sugar burns quickly), heat the jars until the sugar caramelizes and becomes brown, 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the heat intensity.

Note: Don’t feel like messing with the brûlée part of crème brûlée? This recipe is just as delicious as a lovely custard. Dollop some Coconut Whipped Cream (page 111) on top and call it good.

Coconut Whipped Cream (page 111)

This coconut whipped cream is deceptively simple and will change your life.Be sure that you use good old canned coconut milk, rather than the boxed coconut milk beverage, so the fat content is correct.

Ingredients

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (not low-fat)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ to ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

Makes 2 cups

Directions

Refrigerate the coconut milk for at least 3 hours, overnight if possible. Open the can and scoop out only the hard, white coconut cream, leaving the watery part in the can. Place the coconut cream in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and ¼ cup powdered sugar. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, whip the cream until fluffy. Add more powdered sugar, if necessary, to your desired sweetness.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using. Store the coconut cream covered, in the fridge, for up to 4 days.

 

 

 

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