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A Hearty Pizza Crust & A Nifty Gifty

On Cyber Monday (can we pleasepleaseplease retire that term?) I caved and bought some goodies online. I am a sucker for gourmet boxes of food that come with free shipping (who isn’t?). I saw the deal via a Mambo Sprouts email. Then I promptly forgot about it till I heard UPS running away the other night. A big box sat outside. Oh wait, was this my goodie goodie box from Cucina Antica Gourmet? Oh yes it was. For $27.95 I got all this shipped to me, shipping included. It was well packaged as well. Frankly I ordered it so I could try the pumpkin sauce…..I had seen their products before at our local natural foods store, PCC, but hadn’t taken the leap to trying it.

If you have anyone to get a gift for, consider this box. It is cool, tasty and ummm…tasty. Fancy-pants too.

Fall2012-deal-210x370

In the box was a 16 ounce jar of Pizza Sauce:

USA-CA-la-Pizza-16oz

Well that meant I “needed” to make pizza. The menfolk of course were thrilled. The sauce is “accidentally” vegan (bonus) and oh-wow-so-good smelling. The kind where you crack open a lid and it smells as fresh as when it was made. This is good stuff. No questionable ingredients, no sugar, just wonderful flavor.

I spread it over two massive pizzas. Leftover pizza is a wonderful thing. At least in our house! The crust I adapted out of my copy of 300 Best Bread Machine Recipes.

300bestbread

Why did I pull my Zojirushi BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme Breadmaker out of the cupboard and use it to make the dough? I couldn’t knead the dough. Why? Because my trainer at the gym worked me so hard I apparently had two useless arms on Tuesday…lol! Kirk normally sees the trainer we both go to 3 times a week, Monday he has a 1 hour workout. This Monday he was slammed with work – he was gone at a conference most of last week – so he said “want to take my place?”. Better that than us losing the money. I hadn’t done a 1 hour workout since spring of 2011. And John, our trainer, doesn’t take it easy on me. He has me back in the gym and his goal is to get me back where I was between babies. Anyhow, the thought of kneading dough wasn’t a pleasant one. So I let Super Machine do 99% of the work for me. Hehe.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp dry active yeast

Directions:

Add ingredients in order required for your bread machine (mine is liquids, flours, sugar and salt, yeast on top). Turn on ‘Dough’ setting, let machine do its magic (mine takes 1 hour, 50 minutes).

Lightly flour a work surface, take dough out of bread pan and lay on the flour. Cover with a large mixing bowl, let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare toppings as desired. I like to sauté the vegetables until golden. Preheat oven to 400°.

Divide in half, roll out to size desired (I made ours rectangles, baked on parchment paper lined baking sheets).

Pop the crusts in the oven, bake for 10 minutes, flipping rack position halfway. Take out and top as desired. (Be that traditional or vegan….)

Return to oven, bake for about 20 minutes, changing positions halfway through.

Let rest for a couple of minutes, then slice and serve.

Makes 2 large pizza crusts.

~Sarah

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August Vegan Food Swap Reveal

My friend (and hiking partner) Cat runs The Vegan Food Swap – since her starting it, it has taken off like crazy! If you like eating vegan or just like getting new items randomly in the mail, consider signing up!

This month my package went out to Magnolia Beginnings, and I received a box of goodies from The Radioactive Vegan.

She knew I have kidlings so part of my box was for them – of which Walker was quite happy to get into. There were items I had never seen before – such as the Jensen’s Orchards bag of nut clusters, which were incredibly tasty. The Fruiti Bears were all-natural no-dyes added gummi bears. I knew they existed but hadn’t been able to find them to buy, Walker ate them up without hesitating. He also thought the whole-grain pasta was fun. She picked well!

It took me a long time to love edamame, I eat it often when hiking now. Dry roasted and lightly salted is my favorite so the large bag was perfect. A bag of crunchy vegetable chips and lentils rounded out the box. I haven’t had the lentils yet, but soon.

~Sarah

Raw Sweet Cacao Nibs & Recipes

Recently I received a package of goodies from Navitas and in it was a package of Sweet Cacao Nibs.

Having had regular cacao nibs I was on the fence wondering what was the difference? I honestly have tried to find a love for the regular ones but they are to me….bitter. Well the sweet ones? Completely different! Just enough sweetener added that the bitter aftertaste is gone. A pleasant and chewy chocolate liquor flavor, they go nearly anywhere you might consider using semi-sweet chocolate chips. Eventually I know I will come to love the regular ones but for now I have a happy medium to eat and work with!

Navitas sells on their website their entire line, they can also be found on Amazon, which is sold with Prime shipping on most products (and you know how much I love Prime!).

And for recipes? First I was inspired to try NomEatNom’s newest baked oatmeal recipe, doubling it for Kirk and I – delicious! She comes up with very tasty creations – that I love to adapt!

Baked Cacao Chip Cookie Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned eats
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp sweet cacao nibs
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 whole eggs, preferably organic and local
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°, lightly oil or spray two individual ramekins, place on a small baking sheet.

Mix the oats, sugar, cacao nibs and salt together in a mixing bowl. Whisk the applesauce, eggs and vanilla together, add to the dry and mix. Divide between the two ramekins and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve warm or chill for later serving, reheat for 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds.

Serves 2.

In the package I found this:

I didn’t know they had a lip balm! Yum….lets just say you actually want to put it on! It smells and tastes great. All organic and nothing questionable. It is residing in my hip belt pocket on my daypoack now for hiking!

As for the next recipe? These little balls are sticky and sweet. They do best out of the refrigerator, not a good carrying treat, rather an ideal snack on a hot day where you are feet from the fridge!

Cacao Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey, local preferred
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sweet cacao nibs

Directions:

Add the cashews, oats and salt to a food processor bowl, grind until finely chopped. Add the honey and vanilla, process until mixed, scraping as needed. Turn out into a small bowl, work the cacao nibs in. Make Tablespoon balls, a 1 Tablespoon Disher works well, place on a plate and chill. Store covered, preferably on parchment paper due to being sticky.

Makes about 9 balls.

Notes:

Yes, you can make these vegan with raw agave nectar. I made a decision awhile back to use locally sourced raw honey – supporting our local bee population and our hardworking farmers and not buy agave in large jugs from sources I can’t meet in person. And honestly? I think raw honey has so much more flavor!

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received product samples for potential review.

Drink Find: Reed’s Butterscotch Beer

Do you love cream soda? Rootbeer? You might also find yourself in love with Reed’s Butterscotch Beer, a very mellow take on pop. All natural and sweetened with a blend of sugar and Stevia, it is great ice-cold or in my fantasies as a Butterscotch Float…..let us say that I received a dozen bottles and only got one for myself. Everyone else siphoned it down! I don’t often bring pop into the house due to avoiding HFCS and a multiple of dyes so it was a treat for me (and as always, Reed’s gets a bonus nod for bottling in glass!). Kirk isn’t a huge fan of Stevia as a sweetener but as noted he didn’t mind it in the Butterscotch Beer. Being a blend of it and sugar you don’t get the aftertaste. Look for it in natural food stores and upscale grocery stores, next to Reed’s delicious ginger beer!

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received the product for potential review.

Baby Food Find: Earth’s Best Fruit Yogurt Smoothie

Last weekend I was at Target and noticed they had a new line of Earth’s Best products for babies and toddlers – they are finally getting into the squeeze packet market (about time!). Even though Walker is now 16 months old I still carry the various brands in the van, the food is great for quick snacks and meals. With him being older I don’t need a spoon anymore, he happily squeezes them into his mouth. Have to love that! Amongst the many new flavors I noticed a couple of Smoothie ones so I picked up one to try, the Strawberry Banana flavor. The smoothies ones have been around for some time, I just hadn’t seen them before! There are 5 flavors so lots more to try out soon.

Yogurt and fruit juice? Perfect. He hoovered it down quickly. A satisfied toddler makes a happy mommy!

~Sarah

Food Find: Natural Vines Red Licorice

I grew up on Red Vines licorice and it was one of my favorite candies until I was told to quit consuming artificial dyes – it was one of the hardest things to realize I would never eat again – so when I was offered to review Natural Vines, an all natural Strawberry flavored licorice I was excited. Natural Vines is made by American Licorice who is behind Red Vines, a PNW based company that is coming up to its 100 year anniversary soon.

The candy is in bite size chunks, has a soft/chewy texture, is pleasantly sweet (nowhere as sweet as regular red licorice) and satisfying.I’d call the texture a cross between a Red Vine and a Twizzler. The hearty wheat base of the Vine and the glossy candy side of Twizzler. The pieces are solid and you only need a couple to cure a sweet tooth.

It contains: Wheat flour, cane syrup, sugar, brown rice syrup, palm oil, malic acid, natural strawberry flavor, beet juice (coloring), glycerin, licorice extract. So while it is still junk food, it is at least junk food I can eat 😉 And it is very delicious as well!

~Sarah

Drink Find – Lipton Natural Teas

I was sent a couple coupons to try out Lipton® Tea’s new drinks – the 100% Natural Lipton® Iced Tea. It took me awhile to find the product though. One issue was that the coupons had a price limit – that while was very reasonable at $1.49 – the few stores carrying the drinks in the cold section were charging $1.69 to $2.49 for a 20 ounce bottle. Ummmm…..that is a wee bit too high price-wise for a bottle of iced tea! This weekend though I was walking through a Safeway and found it sold in the non-refrigerated pop/drink aisle and it was being sold for under the coupon price (yet they sold the Green Tea version for $1.69 chilled but not in the warm aisle!). Finally I could try it out after searching all those weeks. Lesson learned, look in the warm aisle….

I picked up my bottles in Lemon flavor, there are four flavors to choose from. The tea is sweetened with a blend of Stevia and sugar, unlike their other iced tea that is sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup. The four flavors also do not contain artificial coloring, which again…the other teas they make some of the flavors contain. It isn’t easy for me to find products I can drink when traveling due to my restrictions on dyes and frankly I despise the sickly sweet nature of HFCS (once you quit drinking it, it is so intense to taste it). I am though a huge fan of Stevia. Kirk has found he can tolerate Stevia if it is cut with sugar – as Lipton does and so does other drinks like Vitamin Water.

The Natural tea is pleasantly sweet. I normally drink my ice tea unsweetened and don’t like it ‘sweet tea’ style. While I can drink it out of the bottle, having it over ice and diluted would be perfect. For traveling if it wasn’t over priced I would pick it up. I can only hope it becomes more reasonably priced.

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer – We received samples from the manufacturer for reviewing.

Bad Food Choices – Faux Cream Cheese

I was in the middle of making a cake with “cream cheese” frosting for a surprise after school snack for Ford today when I looked a bit at the package of Better Than Cream Cheese® I was about to put in my mixer bowl. I had picked it up at Trader Joe’s awhile back figuring I would give it a try – since it touts “No Cholesterol” on the front. Sigh. Maybe I should have read it a bit closer. My fault for being lazy. I was in a rush when I was shopping. And a big shame to TJ’s for even carrying it!

Why am I upset? It has Trans-Fats in it. EWWWWWW! It comes from the partially hydrogenated soybean oil used in it. So I ended up getting an 8-ounce brick of low-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel cheese) to use instead. While I am actively trying to avoid using dairy and meat products I won’t use fakes that are patently bad for us! The trans-fats take what could be good and wreck it without any chance of redemption. And it bugs me to no end that I wasted nearly $4 of Kirk’s hard-earned money on something I wouldn’t give away with a clean conscience.

So I compared the products – using the Lucerne® brand as a comparison from Safeway.

Tofutti® Brand Better Than Cream Cheese® 8 ounce tub (8 servings):

Ingredients:

Water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, isolated soy protein, maltodextrin, tofu, nondairy lactic acid, sugar, locust bean, guar and carrageenan gums, sugar, salt, veg. mono and diglycerides, potassium sorbate.

Per Serving:

  • 60 calories
  • 5 grams fat
  • 2 grams saturated fat
  • 2 grams trans-fat
  • 2 grams carbs
  • 1 grams protein
  • 120 mg sodium

Lucerne® Neufchâtel Cheese 8-ounce brick (8 servings)

Ingredients:

Pasteurized milk and cream, skim milk, cheese culture, salt, stabilizers (carob bean and or xanthan and or guar gums).

Per serving:

  • 70 calories
  • 6 grams fat
  • 4.5 grams saturated fat
  • 2 grams carbs
  • 2 grams sugars
  • 2 grams protein
  • 110 mg sodium

While the real cream cheese may have more saturated fat it doesn’t have trans-fats. It has a bit less sodium, a shorter ingredient list (and had I gone regular cream cheese it would have been even shorter) and no preservatives. In this case the real stuff wins for us. Read labels carefully! Whenever I get lazy I end making mistakes. I could have had a latte with that mistake! 😉

I did in my research find that they do make a trans-fat free version – but come on, it is 2011 – this should be the only version made! And hey, Trader Joe’s? Hows about you quit carrying the nasty version? Garbage can indeed. Sigh.

~Sarah

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