Thursday, October 27, 2011

Non-Dairy Creamer, or a replacement for Half and Half

I used to drink half and half in my coffee every morning. No sugar, just cream. It really made the perfect cup of coffee. And I am a huge coffee drinker. When even a little bit of half and half made me feel sick, I had a hard time handling it. At first I just dealt with it, then I tried to find other methods. I'm really crazy about the way my coffee tastes--working at a coffee shop will do that to a person.

Plain soy milk in coffee was just disgusting. Even Very Vanilla Soymilk didn't really cut it for me. I tried Coconut Milk Creamer--totally gross. I didn't want to do it, but for a long time I started using Coffeemate non-dairy creamer. That stuff is really terrible for you--it's like drinking trans fat. I tried all different flavors, and they were tasty. My favorites were the sugar-free vanilla, which tasted like marshmallow to me, the peppermint mocha, and original, which was the closest taste to half and half that I could find. But they completely covered the taste of the coffee as well, which is okay if you are drinking ground Foldgers, but not okay if you bought a new bag of fresh, whole bean Caribou Blend. What can I say? I love my coffee.

Then I realized that when I ordered a soy mocha or soy latte at Starbucks it tasted amazing. So why didn't my coffee taste amazing when I added vanilla soy milk? The answer was in the steaming. I don't really know why, but heated soy milk in coffee tastes ten times better than cold soy milk in coffee. Especially when that soy milk is very, very sweet. The sweeter the better.

So after all of my experiments and attempts to find the perfect healthy replacement for half and half I have finally found the answer, and I wanted to pass along my knowledge, which is actually a small recipe.

8ounce cup of coffee
1/3 cup Silk Very Vanilla Soymilk
1 packet of Splenda

1. Mix the soymilk and Splenda in a microwave safe mug and heat for 30 seconds.
2. Pour in the fresh, hot gourmet coffee and find your happy place.

New Tip
You can also substitute vanilla soy milk with soy vanilla ice cream-it's also a great cream alternative to your coffee, and helps it cool down as well.

Olive and Pimento Cream Cheese Alternative

I really miss cream cheese. I have cravings for it all the time. When I lived in Pittsburgh, PA, one of my favorite places to go for breakfast was Bruegger's Bagels, where they had a delicious selection of cream cheese to choose from, including strawberry, pumpkin, and, my all time favorite, olive and pimento.

I used to make my own flavored cream cheese when we first came out to California and had great success with pumpkin, blueberry, and olive pimento, but when dairy started bothering me I stopped. I've tried to come up with cream cheese alternatives, first by using creamy goat cheese instead. I mixed it with raspberry preserves to make raspberry cream cheese, and it was a great option, until goat cheese started bothering me as well. I thought about trying Toffuti cream cheese alternative, but I could never bring myself to buy it--it's made with hydrogenated oils and therefore contains trans fat. Why put that stuff into my body?

Then, when I was a Trader Joe's the other day, I found a container of cream cheese alternative called "This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese This is a Tub of Non-Dairy Spread." Yeah, that is literally what it's called. It is made out of coconut oil, sunflower oil, soy protein, and lots of thickeners. It is cholesterol free and also free of hydrogenated oils. The only problem with it is that it tastes nothing like cream cheese. It just looks and spreads like cream cheese. So I went to work to try to make it edible. I figured that adding strong flavor to it would really make a difference, so I mixed in some green olives and the spread became really something to be happy about. I devoured the two halves of my mini bagel with olive pimento spread and needed more. So I made another one. And another. It's almost like eating cream cheese again! Definitely worth a try. I would love to try pumpkin next.

1 container This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese This is a Tub of Non-Dairy Spread
1/2 cup Manzanilla olives stuffed with minced pimentos.
1 teaspoon Manzanilla olive juice

1. Dice the green olives with pimentos still inside.

2. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the diced olives with the cream cheese alternative and the olive juice. You can easily add more olives if you want. The more olives added the more it tastes like green olives and the less it tastes of the spread.

3. Spread it on your favorite toasted bagel and watch it disappear before your eyes!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sweet and "Creamy" Pumpkin Soup

I've always been disappointed by ready to serve butternut squash soups when I read the label and find out they are made with milk or cream. Recently I found one at Whole Foods that was made with soy milk, but I have to say it was a little bland. The taste of soy took away from the delicious sweetness of the butternut squash. So I had a go at creating my own "creamy" soup, and I used canned pumpkin since it was so readily available. The vanilla soy milk I used made it so thick and sweet that my husband and I devoured it! The sage and black pepper balances out the sweetness so it doesn't taste like you are slurping pumpkin pie. It makes a great compliment to an entree of chicken or turkey. I will probably make this again for our Thanksgiving dinner feast!

1 15ounce can pumpkin
1 1/2 pumpkin cans of Silk Very Vanilla Soymilk
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1. Empty pumpkin into at least a 2 quart saucepan and place burner on medium heat.
2. Measure the soy milk in the empty pumpkin can. Slowly stir in Very Vanilla Soymilk until evenly blended.
3. Add sage, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and sea salt and heat until almost boiling, stirring often.
4. Ladle in a bowl, sprinkle with ground sage, and serve with buttery crackers. We like Social Snackers from Trader Joes; they are dairy free and contain no hydrogenated oils, yet still maintain that buttery taste that is so addicting.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Soy Milk Pumpkin Pie

Soy Milk Pumpkin Pie

For my husband's birthday I usually make him a pumpkin pie instead of cake, since he considers it the best dessert ever created. I was an expert at making a creamy, melt-in-your mouth pumpkin pie. Now that eating anything made with 12 ounces of condensed milk is out of the question for me, I thought I would take a shot at making it lactose intolerant friendly. There are a bunch of dairy free pumpkin pie recipes out there, but I think you'll find mine particularly tasty. My husband loves it!

1 refrigerated pie crust
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, 1 egg white
15oz can pumpkin
1 cup Silk Very Vanilla Soymilk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Mold the pie crust into a pie dish and trim excess dough from the edges.

3. Mix sugar, salt, and spices in a small bowl until thoroughly blended.

4. In a large bowl, beat eggs and egg white. Stir in the pumpkin and then the sugar and spice mixture.

5. Gradually add Very Vanilla Soymilk and stir until completely blended. Pour into pie crust.

6. Bake for 15 minutes to set a crispy crust, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 40 minutes. To check if the pie is done, stick a knife through the middle and see if it comes up clean. If there is a layer of pumpkin on it, you may need to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve with dairy-free vanilla ice cream if you want to go all out. Happy Fall!