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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Creating New Recipes from Old


New to healthy food?

Over the years -- I've been vegetarian for 37 years, 25 of those years as a vegan -- I have discovered, in order to have a large repertoire of vegetarian and vegan recipes, I needed to get recipes from non-vegetarian sources and adjust them to fit the needs of vegetarians and vegans.

Oftentimes, we have comfort foods that we just can't do without but we often need to make changes.

I like to read a lot of magazines, but mostly I like health and nutrition magazines. Prevention is one of my favorites and they generally have some interesting recipes. I even have a loose-leaf binder where I have ripped out pages from old Prevention issues with recipes I liked on them.

This lens is a guide as to how to take a recipe that sounds good, and make it vegan.

Fruit Bars

A number of years ago, one of our local grocery stores switched ownership for the second time in a couple of years. The new chain apparently has some freebie magazines that they give away in the hopes that some of the articles and/or recipes will induce you to buy more of their products. Well, in my case, it worked to some degree.

In the first free magazine I picked up there, I found a recipe for Citrus-Oatmeal bars. With a few minor (or major?) changes, I made the recipe vegan and cut out the added sugar. This is my version of the recipe. First of all, the recipe calls for mixed dried fruit bits. I discovered that Sun-Maid and Sunsweet both make mixed dried fruit bits of differing varieties. The ones I liked were Sun-Maid's tropical flavor and Sunsweet's melon mixture. The only problem with these mixtures is that they have added sugar. To resolve that problem, I took the 1 cup of fruit called for in the recipe and soaked it for a while in filtered water. I then poured off the water and poured more filtered water on. I repeated this procedure until the water stayed clear (and didn't get cloudy). It doesn't usually take too many times.

I took a medium baking pan and lined it with parchment paper (this keeps the batter from sticking without adding fat to the recipe). Then I take out two small mixing bowls -- in one, I put the fruit bits, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (substitute other nuts and seeds if you don't like walnuts) and 1/3 cup orange juice concentrate (or orange juice mixture like orange/pineapple juice concentrate) and 1/2 cup almond, rice or soy milk. In the other bowl, I mix 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 2 cups instant or quick oatmeal, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/4-1/2 teaspoon powdered stevia (that would probably be about 60-120 drops of liquid stevia -- if you can use honey or agave nectar, you can substitute 1/3 cup honey or agave nectar, but add that to the fruit and nut mixture instead of 1/4 cup of the rice/soy milk).

Blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until the dry ingredients are moistened. Take the batter and put it into the pan, flattening/spreading it with wet hands. Bake it at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour (it might need a few more minutes -- it needs to be firm). Cut into 16 bars. I then wrap each one in aluminum foil and place in a zipper bag and keep them in the refrigerator (or you can freeze them). These are good as take along snacks for kids or adults (I take them to work).

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