Reflections in a cup of Juice!

A toast to Reflections (A-Z Blog Challenge) and bloggers – Happy Juicing
(Serves 1) – Vegan, Raw, Gluten-Free

2-3 Stalks Kale, stemmed removed
2 Carrots
½ Cucumber,
1-inch piece Ginger, peeled
½ Lemon
1 Granny Smith Apple
-Juice the above ingredients and enjoy! – Remember Organic is always best.

Good Morning my beautiful juice! I love juicing – feels revitalizing in the morning. What a great breakfast of Antioxidants, Nutrients and Phytonutrients.
I wanted to take a moment to touch on a couple things. First, I want to say thank you again to my fellow bloggers out there for the follow(s) and support, the comments, the likes and anyone who has perused my blog or tried any of my recipes too. It truly means a lot to me. I enjoy reading everyone else’s blogs and posts also. The amount of Vegans that are out there still amazes me sometimes and even the non-vegans too – just the amount of people out there that are looking for healthier alternatives…I think that is fantastic. I believe in my heart that one can heal through food, aside from the animal cruelty factor and ethical reasons, this world is really changing. We’re a long way from the vittles our parents and grandparents grew up eating. The food quality has changed over the years so drastically. So take care of yourselves out there.

Finally, I’d like to talk about the A-Z Blog Challenge that I participated in April 2015. It was a fun challenge for me to come up with a new recipe for each letter. I had a ball participating and enjoyed every minute. Posting everyday alone was challenge in itself, but I’m so glad I got it accomplished. 🙂  I’m newer to blogging so this challenge pushed me that much more to post daily and to get creative and even better to learn about blogging and meeting new people! I have enjoyed reading so many blogs – stories, posts, recipes and learning so much.


Zucchini Bread – Vegan

Zucchini Bread – Vegan
(Makes 1 Loaf)
Z is for Zucchini Bread! ‘Z’ the last letter during this A-Z Blog Challenge 2015. I’d like to say I ‘saved the best for last’, but I do have so many other favs amongst the prior blog post this April. This Zucchini bread has similar elements to my carrot cake – cinnamon, walnuts with a shredded veggie. This zucchini bread is hands down my favorite of Zucchini breads, my kids LOVE it too. Bonus – its kid friendly…Jasmine our daughter is obsessed! It’s moist, flavorful – fantastic as a snack, side, breakfast or dessert. What more can I say about this bread…except that it’s a must try, enjoy!

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
½ Tbsp Baking Powder
½ Tsp Baking Soda
½ Salt
½ Tbsp Cinnamon
¼ Tsp Nutmeg
2 ½ Tbsp Flax Seeds, ground up
½ Cup Pure Cane Sugar
1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
¼ Cup Applesauce
¼ Cup Non-Dairy Milk (I used Soy in this recipe)
3 Tbsp Canola Oil
¼ Cup Water
½ Cup Walnuts, chopped
2 Zucchini (8oz), grated (Large & Small – see notes below)

-Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan with Earth Balance/Flour or vegan cooking spray if you prefer. I used a 1.5-quart glass loaf dish.
-Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl: Flours, Sugar, Baking Soda/Powder, Salt, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and ground flax seeds – whisk all ingredients together.
-Add wet ingredients to dry: Vanilla, Applesauce, Soymilk, Canola Oil and Water with dry ingredients. Stir together to combine. Once incorporated fold in walnuts and Zucchini.
Note: I grate Zucchini using a box grater. One Zucchini I grate using the large side and the other I grate using the small.
Zucchini Grated
-Pour into prepared loaf dish/pan then bake for 1 hour. Let stand for 10-15 minutes to cool. Enjoy!
(I’m addicted to this bread especially when it’s warm. I can’t just have one slice).


Yautía y Yuca en Escabeche with plantains

Yautía y Yuca en Escabeche with plantains
(Serves 6) – Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free

Yautía (Taro Root) and Yuca (Cassava) en escabeche – are root vegetables in a warm vinaigrette. This was a staple growing up in our Puerto Rican home. Viandas! – a root vegetable dish, including potatoes and ñame (true Yam), served with plantains or guineos (green bananas) topped with avocado and when we were pre-Vegan it was also served with bacalao (salted dried cod fish) or hard-boiled eggs. A simple dish drizzled with olive oil and fresh red onions, sliced thin. Yautía are healthy and low fat, and this taro root is easily digestible. It’s a complex carb with Vitamins A, C and Iron. Yuca should be quartered to expose and remove the woody core. Technically speaking, the core can be toxic uncooked. However, it is not dangerous when cooked and it is easiest to remove the core before cooking. Verduras with Olive Oil is so simple and a favorite of mine. I really do love Yuca fries also. When my husband and I last went to Puerto Rico, we ate at a restaurant in San Juan that had the most delicious yuca fries – they were to die for.

3 Yautía (red), peeled and chopped
3 Yuca, peeled and chopped
2 Plantains
4 Sm.-Med. Gold Potatoes
1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Cup White Vinegar
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
½ Red Onion, sliced thin
2-3 Bay Leaves
½ Tbsp Whole Peppercorns (Black or Rainbow)
½ Cup – 1 Cup Green Olives, stuffed with red peppers

-Peel and Chop – Yautía, Yuca and Potatoes. Slice ends off Plantains and slice down from end to end.


-Bring large pot of water to boil. Boil: Yautia for 25 minutes. Yuca for 15 minutes. Potatoes for 10 minutes. Remove each and set aside after boiling. I cook each separately. Boil Plantains with skin on for 20 minutes. It will be easier to remove the skin once it’s boiled. –Remove skin, cut into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

-In a medium saucepan, sauté onions, bay leaves and peppercorns in ½ Cup of the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue sautéing for another couple minutes.
-Add remaining olive oil, vinegar and olives. Combine root vegetables then pour pickling liquid over top before serving. Serve as a side and Enjoy! – I can eat this without a side.


X is for Xanthan Gum – Raspberry Lemonade Sorbet / Lemon Blackberry Granita

X – Xanthan Gum — Raspberry Lemonade Sorbet and Lemon Blackberry Granita

X is for Xanthan Gum. I want to first talk alittle about Xanthan Gum then I also have a quick recipe to share. Xanthan Gum is popular commercially as a thickener for dressings and sauces. Look on the back of most salad dressings and you’ll find xanthan gum. It is favored in salad dressings because it is stable and it helps keep spices suspended and aids to prevent separation (oil/vinegar for example); it keeps those ingredients blended and staying together. Go ahead shake up that bottle up, what do you see?…most likely it will be the seasonings and spices floating inside. They won’t quickly settle to the bottom like a homemade dressing would, but it’s all good – I just whisk my dressings back up before serving usually. 🙂
Xanthan Gum is also very popular in gluten free recipes. Since gluten naturally provides elasticity to dough and allows for that chewy texture. Alternatively, Xanthan Gum provides the same benefits in gluten-free baking. Many gluten-free creations can be made using Xanthan gum from breads to cakes to cookies or donuts.
Additionally, it is used in Ice Creams and Sorbets similarly Locust Bean Gum or Guar Gum because it helps provide a desirable mouth feel. It also helps prevent ice crystals from forming. I created two frozen treats for you to sample – a silky sorbet and chunky icy granita.
Xanthan Gum
Raspberry Lemonade Sorbet
(Serves 4) – Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free
1 ¼ Cup Sugar
¾ Cup Water
Juice of 2 ½ Lemons
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 (6oz) Packages Fresh Raspberries
¼ Tsp Xanthan Gum

-In medium saucepan combine water and sugar over medium heat. Dissolve sugar in water to create a simple syrup.
-Juice lemons and combine with raspberries and lemon zest in blender, food processor or I used my nutribullet.

-In a bowl whisk together simple syrup with lemon mixture.
-Whisk in Xanthan Gum then pour into 9×13 dish and freeze for 2 ½ hours. Every 30 minutes scrape through sorbet with a fork. Enjoy!

Lemonade Blackberry Granita
(Serves 4) – Vegan, Gluten-Free

Juice of 2 ½ Lemons
½ Cup Water
Zest of 1 Lemon
6oz Blackberries
3 Tsp Blue Agave Nectar
¼ Tsp Xanthan Gum

-Combine blackberries, water, agave and xanthan gum in food processor, blender or I used my nutribullet for this recipe.

-Whisk blackberry mixture into lemon juice and zest.
-Pour mixture in 9×13 dish and freeze for 2 ½ hours. Every 30 minutes scrape through with a fork. You want to separate the ice crystals as the mixture freezes.
Notes: Both recipes were created without having to use an icecream maker. Granita can be made raw omit Xanthan gum. Also, a critique is the raspberry lemonade was super sweet so I added another container of raspberries to try and cut down the sweetness.
Also, kids (well mine at least) are not a huge fan of seeds so you can strain both before adding to the container for freezing. This time around I kept the seeds in.




W…Wild Rice and Vegetable Medley with Lemon Pepper Dressing

Wild Rice, Walnut & Spring Vegetable Medley with Lemon Pepper Dressing
(Serves 8-10) – Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, No Added Salt
W is for Wild…so get crazy about this Wild Rice! It’s perfect for the Springtime and great for a Pot-luck or family gathering. The veggies come alive with the lemon pepper dressing too. You can create this recipe using a Wild Rice Blend (I like Lundberg – Wild Blend) or you can use half Wild and Half Brown rice. I enjoy this rice as a meal in itself or prepare it as a side. Enjoy!

The chefs sample bite – yummy:

6 Cups Prepared Rice (2 Cups Dry Rice with 3 ½ Cups Water)
1 Bunch of Asparagus, sautéed lightly
2 Cups Peas, steamed
3 Radishes, Shaved thin or chopped
1 Handful of Curly Parsley, chopped
1 Shallot, sliced and sautéed
3 Scallions, chopped and sautéed lightly
½ Cup Walnuts, chopped and toasted
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Sauteeing veggies

-Prepare Rice: Combine dry Rice and Water in saucepan, bring to boil – cover, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork.
-In sauté pan with Olive Oil, sauté sliced Shallots over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, back to pan sauté Asparagus (rough ends removed), sauté for about 5 minutes. –While asparagus or shallots are cooking, steam up Peas.
-Combine all ingredients toss together with Lemon Pepper dressing (recipe to follow) before serving.
Lemon Pepper Dressing
Juice of 2 Lemons
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/3 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Horseradish Mustard or Dijon Mustard
3 Tsp course Black Pepper
2 Tsp Blue Agave Nectar

-Combine all ingredients and whisk together.



Vanilla Wafers with Banana Pudding

Vanilla Vanilla Wafers with Banana Pudding
(Makes about 40 cookies) – Vegan
Vanilla Nilla Wafers – these are better than store bought! I’ve had the store bought ones in the past before transitioning to a vegan diet and let me tell you, one bite of my cookies and they took my mind back in time.
This cookie recipe coupled with the banana pudding is a very special recipe for me. My husband is always telling us a story. Stories of his youth and childhood or of his family and friends…crazy stories and loving heartfelt ones too. He often speaks of his grandfather; his PopPop had such an impact on his life. Seth has a lot of great memories of his grandfather and Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafers was one of them. Every so often my husband makes a suggestion of what’s for dinner. Sometimes he’ll suggest Taco night or a Soup – he loves my soups, but last Sunday he suggested Soul Food Sunday. So I made a Soul Food southern style Dinner: Collard Greens, Black Eyed Peas, Baked Mac-No-Cheese, Corn on the Cob with Fried Tofu. While I was cooking, I started to think of some of my husband’s stories. Then I decided to try and create southern style Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafers and it was very successful! – I’m so cheesy too when I make something new that I’m excited about or when it’s a surprise. I do the whole – close your eyes thing, ha! He had no idea what I was making but after dinner, I surprised him with this recipe. He was left speechless…when he finally came to; he had a lot of great compliments. During his silence I was sure that he was reminiscing about his grandfather 🙂 and that was special to me…that nostalgia was my goal and that to me was the success!
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
¼ Tsp Salt
¾ Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Powder
½ Tsp Vanilla Extract + ½ Vanilla Bean, scraped
(or use 1 ½ Tbsp or 1 full Vanilla Bean)
½ Cup Earth Balance (vegan butter) softened, room temp.
1 ½ Tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
2 Tbsp Warm Water
2 Tbsp Non-Dairy Milk (soy or almond)

-Preheat oven 350 degrees.
-Mix all ingredients dry then wet, stir to combine.
-Place about a Tsp full of cookie batter on cookie sheet.
-Bake for 15 minutes until golden – turn cookie sheet halfway during baking so it bakes evenly.

Banana Pudding:
2 ½ Cups Non-Dairy Milk (I used soymilk), divided
¼ Cup Corn Starch
1/8 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
½ Cup Sugar
2 Very Ripe Bananas
¼ Tsp Turmeric, optional for color

-In high speed blender, combine Bananas with 2 Cups Soymilk
-In saucepan dissolve Sugar, Salt, Corn starch and ½ Cup Milk, whisk together to combine.
-Add Banana/Soymilk mixture to Cornstarch/Sugar mixture and whisk together.
-Whisk…Whisk…Whisk…keep Whisking…until your arm hurts. About 5 minutes until pudding mixture thickens up. Whisk in Turmeric.
-Remove from heat and pour into glass dish. Let cool for 20 minutes then refrigerate.

When ready to serve layer in Vanilla Wafers with Banana Pudding. Enjoy!
Pictured Below is our Soul Food Sunday Meal that I mentioned above, plus my husband’s homemade hot sauce. He makes his own hot sauce too!

Upside Down Cake – Raspberry/Almond Upside Down Cake

Raspberry/Almond Upside Down Cake
(Serves 8-10) Vegan, Soy-Free

U is for Upside Down…Cake that is! I entered this cake into a recipe contest over a year ago. I didn’t win or place but that is okay. The excitement for me is the challenge. I enjoy creating new recipes, coming up with new ideas and pushing my mind to the limits of creativity sometimes…even when the idea seems so simple. This cake is great as a dessert but I also found it to be a nice breakfast item…picture a slice with a little coffee in the morning. You’re looking out the window, sitting on your patio enjoying the beautiful morning. Haha – Enjoy!

1 ½ Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
½ Cup + ¼ Cup Light Brown Sugar, divided
1 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
½ Cup Warm Water
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
½ Cup Applesauce
½ Cup Raspberry Jam
½ Cup Sliced Almonds

-Preheat Oven 325 degrees. Grease one (8-inch) round pan – Earth Balance (Vegan Butter) or cooking spray, if you prefer.
-In mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt and ½ Cup brown sugar. Stir together to combine.
-Add wet ingredients: Apple Cider, Water, Vanilla and Applesauce. Stir to combine but Do Not Over mix.
-In a separate Bowl mix together Raspberry Jam, Sliced Almonds and remaining Brown Sugar (1/4 Cup).
-Place Raspberry mixture in the bottom of the baking pan. Then top with cake mixture – Be sure to spread evenly.
-Bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
-Run knife around entire edge to loosen cake from pan. Let cool for 10 minutes.
-Place pan over plate and turn out cake onto plate.
(Note: If some of the topping sticks to baking pan, scrap out with spatula and spread it back over the cake to make it look pretty).
-Serve Warm, preferably.


T…Tofu! – Blackened Tofu

Blackened Tofu
Vegan, Gluten-Free

TTOFU! I can’t let the letter ‘T’ go by during this awesomely amazing A-Z Blog Challenge without talking about Tofu. I really do love Tofu – the #1 reason is for its versatility. I look back through all the years, going through my recipe collection and pictures…tons of pictures!…there are countless Tofu recipes. Various Fried Tofu preparations: Lemon Pepper, Sundried, Blackened (See below); Breakfast – Hash, Breakfast Scramble (like eggs), Vegan Omelets; Vegan ‘Egg’ Salad; Desserts – Peanut Butter Pies and more! Low Calorie and it’s high in protein and calcium too. You can fry it, bake it, grill it and eat it raw. The way it takes on any flavor that you throw at it, is fantastic. Enjoy!
Blackened Tofu Seasoning Mix:
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Tsp fresh course Ground Pepper
½ Tsp Smoke Paprika
¼ Tsp Oregano
½ Tsp Garlic Powder
¼ Tsp Chili Powder
½ Tbsp Corn Starch

-Combine all ingredients to make seasoning.
-Slice Tofu and pat dry. –Coat Tofu in seasoning and fry in olive oil or bake.



S…Spinach Soup

Spinach Soup
(Serves 4) – Vegan, Gluten-Free
Happy Earth Day! – This is an older recipe of mine, but with Earth Day today plus today is “S” for the A-Z Blog Challenge so I was thinking Green and thought of this Spinach Soup.
There are various reasons for adopting a Vegan lifestyle. Helping to save the planet, I’ll say is a pretty good reason.
On Twitter today (Earth Day) I posted a quote. I wanted to share some great Native American wisdom. “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money” –Cree Indian Proverb. Think about it.

1 (16oz pkg) Frozen Spinach Whole Leaves, steamed
3 small white Potatoes, boiled
3 Cups Water (use water from boiled potatoes)
1 Cup Non-Dairy Milk (Almond/Coconut)
½ Tbsp Soy Sauce
½ Tbsp fresh ground Pepper
1 Tbsp Salt
½ Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
¼ Tsp ground Nutmeg
½ Tsp Cumin
-While the potatoes are boiling, I steam the Spinach.
-Blend all ingredients together. Garnish with Olive Oil and Sriracha. Enjoy!


Reuben on Rye with Russian Sauce

Reuben on Rye with Russian Sauce
(Serves 2) – Vegan
RRR – Reuben, Rye, Russian. Simple sandwich with intense flavors. The Russian dressing alone is fantastic on many sandwich combos but really pops on this sandwich with the sauerkraut. A classic sandwich veganized!
Today was a very busy day, work then vet appointments. Both my doggies had their routine check ups today and today is my Beanie’s Birthday, so I had to make him a birthday cake too. Happy 3rd Birthday Beanie! You have truly brought so much joy into our lives. With that said, today was the perfect day for a quick sandwich for dinner Enjoy!

4 Slices of Rye Bread
1 (8oz Pkg) Tempeh, sliced thin
½ Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Tsp Smoked Paprika
½ Tsp Salt
½ Tsp course ground Pepper
½ Tbsp Liquid Smoke, optional
Olive for frying (I used ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Sauerkraut (about 2-3 Tbsp per sandwich)
Red Onion, sliced thinly
Vegan Cheese, optional

-Combine sliced Tempeh with ½ Tbsp Olive Oil, Paprika, Salt/Pepper and liquid smoke and set aside for about 20 minutes for flavors to combine.
-Fry Tempeh in batches, I just divided in half. Set aside on paper towel to drain.
-Assemble: Bread, Dressing, Tempeh, Sauerkraut, Onions, and additional Dressing Bread. I also toast bread up also before assembling.


Russian Sauce/Dressing
½ Cup Vegenaise (vegan mayo)
3 Tbsp Ketchup
¼ Cup Dill Pickles, chopped finely
1 Tbsp Horseradish Mustard (Stoneground Mustard with Horseradish)
¼ Tsp course Black Pepper
½ Tsp Sriracha

-Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate any unused portion.


R (1)