Sunlight Cafe

You are looking for a  relaxing, light-filled setting to have a delicious meal. You want a server who immediately understands your dietary lifestyle and offers suggestions from the menu with an expression of “no worries” and a smile that says “you belong here”.  The Sunlight Cafe is my home-away-from-home for food in north Seattle.

The existence of this food oasis is probably not news to anyone in living in Seattle, since they’ve served the vegan/vegetarian community here for many years.  Maybe this will just be a happy reminder if you haven’t been there in a while.  For those of us who are looking for no-fat vegan eats, these guys are already there with us.  They actually have items on the regular menu that fit beautifully.  Try the Brown Rice Salad and make your own honey-balsamic dressing at the table or ask them to mix it in the kitchen.  The Steamed Vegetables with Tofu is also good, and the nice garlic-ginger sauce is fat-free.

The Sunlight is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. everyday.  Love it!

No-fat Vegan Creamsicle Mousse

No-Fat Vegan Creamsicle Mousse

I have been playing with flavor variations on a basic vanilla vegan mousse. This one brings the bright sweetness of oranges together with vanilla, and reminds me of those creamsicle ice cream cups we used to buy from the neighborhood ice cream man in summers past.  It is wonderful served in a parfait topped with fresh raspberries or strawberries, or you can make the almond cookie tartlet pictured above.

There are a number of recipes on the internet for tofu-based mousse.  This one differs only in that I use both firm and silken tofu to give the mousse good body, which helps it stand up well to whatever flavors you choose to stir in.

No-fat Vegan Creamsicle Mousse

Stir together and chill until serving:

1 Recipe Basic vanilla Vegan Mousse
1 C no-sugar orange marmalade

Basic vanilla Vegan Mousse

1 container firm tofu, drained
1/2 container silken tofu, drained
a pinch of salt
1 to 2 TBSP. vanilla, to your taste
1/4 to 1/2 C maple syrup, agave, or honey, to your taste

Instructions

1. Process all ingredients in food processor for about 1 minute, or until very smooth.  Taste and adjust flavor until you like!

You may add any number of extracts and flavors at this point. Try 2-4 TBSP Hershey’s Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa, or some Amaretto!  Use your imagination and enjoy! This makes about 3 cups.

No-sugar Orange Marmalade

No-Sugar Orange Marmalade

I’ve used marmalade as the foundation for several recipes lately, and to save money, I decided to make my own. This recipe is a no-cook version, and it is delicious and simple to make.

No-sugar Orange Marmalade

2 large seedless oranges
4 TBSP. frozen grape or apple juice concentrate
1/4 C. agave or honey (optional)
2 TBSP.  fruit pectin for no-cook freezer jam (I used Ball brand)

Instructions

1. In a stewpot, cover your whole oranges with water and simmer (no lid) for 2 hours on very low heat, adding water as necessary to keep them covered.  Drain and cool.

2. Cut off the ends of each orange to remove the stem area. Place all ingredients in the food processor and pulse process until you have the texture of peel that you like.

3. Spoon into clean containers (the new screw on plastic containers work fine) & leave 1/2 inch headroom. Store in the frig for 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 year.

St. Dalfour Orange Marmalade

I often use fruit to sweeten my desserts and breads.  Hey, it is no-fat and it’s vegan! One of my best fruit friends is St. Dalfour.  The company makes a variety of nice fruit spreads and conserves.  Their many flavors have inspired a number of new recipes in my kitchen. Today I want to highlight the orange marmalade!  With its sunny flavor and fruity texture, it makes a great foundation for several of my staple no-fat vegan treats, including my own version of Aussie Bites, as well as a beautiful vanilla-orange mousse that can be finished with a marmalade glaze.  St. Dalfour uses only grape juice concentrate for sweetening, with a bit of lemon juice and fruit pectin.  The result is a bright, juicy spoonful of sweetness to go with your morning toast and french press, or to inspire your new culinary effort of the day!  I get mine at Whole Foods, but some Walmarts also carry it.

St. Dalfour Orange Marmalade

Vegan No-fat “Aussie Bites”

No-fat Vegan “Aussie Bites”

My husband loves Aussie Bites.  You know, those crazy-delicious bite sized cookie-cakes that just ooze honey, butter, fruit and coconut.  We originally became hooked on the Costco bins of these things, to the point that we carry a container of them in our vehicle at all times, just in case we need a fix.  Finally, I pulled down a recipe from the internet so that we could have a never-ending supply at a more affordable price.

Needless to say, this buttery confection does not quite fit my new vegan no-fat lifestyle, so I have created my version with no fat or coconut.  This new “Aussie Bite” is only roughly similar to the original, but can honestly serve as a delicious stand-in, and might be fairly called an “awesome bite”, and my husband loves it!  The foundation of my “bite” is orange marmalade and graham flour.  I use St. Dalfour Orange Marmalade, but any favorite brand will work.  I have also made my own marmalade from scratch, which is very affordable.  These are very quick to put together and bake only 6-7 minutes (do not over bake)! You will need a mini muffin pan for these.

No-fat Vegan “Aussie Bites”

1/3 C seeds (combination of whole flax seeds and/or raw shelled sunflower seeds)
1/3 C dry rolled oats
1/3 C graham flour
1/3 C dried fruit (combination of golden raisins, chopped dates, chopped apricots)
1/4 tsp. each: baking soda, baking powder, salt
1 heaping TBSP. potato flour
1/3 C no-sugar orange marmalade
1/4 C agave or maple syrup or honey

Instructions

1. Stir together all the dry ingredients.

2. Fold in the marmalade and syrup or honey and mix thoroughly.

3. Using a non-stick mini-muffin pan, fill with each muffin with about 1 TBSP. of dough, pressing with the back of your spoon to ensure there are no air pockets.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 6 to 7 minutes or just until the top edges begin to brown.

5. Remove from oven and immediately use a sharp knife to loosen the edges around each bite. Give the pan about 5 minutes to cool, then use your knife to remove each bite.

6. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Makes 12 bites.

Linguine With Braised Fennel and Marsala

Linguine with Braised Fennel and Marsala

Pasta is one of my favorite easy dishes to prepare without fat.  Any super nice looking produce from your local market or weekly farmers market can provide the inspiration for a new flavor or texture combination.  I always feel compelled to just buy the thing that looks most interesting or particularly delicious that day, no matter what I had on the shopping list.

Today, that “thing” was a fennel bulb with its greens attached. It waved at me, and now its greens are building my homemade vegetable broth for the coming week, and it’s bulb is sliced and caramelized in Marsala with garlic, fennel seed, and lemon zest. I am kicked back in my garden with a little shot of limoncello and it isn’t much of a stretch to believe I’m actually in Sicily.

Linguine with Braised Fennel and Marsala

2 14 oz. cans chopped or crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. whole fennel seed
pinch dried red pepper flakes
1 whole fennel bulb, halved and sliced
1 Tbsp. capers, coarsely chopped
1/2 C Marsala
1 Tbsp agave or honey
1 tsp. salt
dash fresh ground pepper
zest of one lemon
chopped Italian parsley for garnish
3/4 lb. whole wheat linguine

Instructions

In your favorite sauce pot, bring first 10 ingredients up to a quick boil, lower the heat and cover, simmering for at least 45 minutes.  Cook 3/4 lb. whole wheat linguine in salted water until tender.  Drain, reserving 1 C of pasta water. Toss linguine with braised fennel.  Add reserved pasta water and toss on low heat for 5 minutes.  Garnish with lemon zest and parsley.

Best of the West 100% Lump Mesquite Charcoal

Grilling vegetables is a delicate business.  I want my no-fat vegan dishes to taste great and when it comes to charcoal, I don’t want any chemicals infused into my nutrition or the flavor of my precious veggies.  I’ve used a number of  hardwood products from chips to pellets to lump charcoal.  This product burns clean and fast, which works well for short-grill-time veggies of all types.  I buy it at Fred Meyer in Seattle, and I believe you can also get it at Sam’s Club.

Grilled Stuffed Portabello with Spinach, Garlic & Sun-dried Tomatoes

Grilled Portabello Stuffed with Spinach, Garlic, and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Grilling without fat is my new puzzle to solve for the summer. I’ve got a winner this week with my no-fat vegan stuffed Portabello.  The ingredients I’ve used are succulent, but the real trick with this one is to grill it over some natural mesquite wood charcoal.  There are a lot of whole hardwood lump charcoal brands available.  I used Best of the West Natural Mesquite Briquettes, which I got at Fred Meyer.  A small 8 Cup tower of them burned to “ready” in 20 minutes and lasted perfectly for my batch of 4 mushrooms.

This mushroom can certainly be done in the oven, but it is a whole different animal after spending 20 minutes intimately mingling with hardwood smoke on my Weber tabletop grill.  This recipe is an adaptation of one from the Weber’s Real Grilling cookbook.

Grilled Stuffed Portabello with Spinach, Garlic and Sun-dried Tomatoes

6-8 C Chopped fresh spinach
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 C halved fresh cherry tomatoes
1/2 C water-packed or re-hydrated sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1 Tbsp. capers, drained and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 or 4 medium portabello mushrooms
2 C fresh bread crumbs (Dave’s Goodseed or your favorite no-oil vegan bread)
1 clove peeled garlic
4 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley or cilantro

Instructions

1. Prepare the grill.  Make a stack of charcoal, enough for a single layer under your mushrooms, and light.  After 20 minutes, the coals should be ready to spread out in a single layer under the grate.

2. Gently rinse the portabellos and remove the stems. With a spoon, scrape out the black gills and discard.  Marinate the caps for 15 minutes with a few splashes of seasoned rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar.

3. Make the filling in a saucepan.  Put the first 7 ingredients together and heat over medium heat, covered with a lid, until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally and adding a small  amount of water when necessary to keep from sticking or burning.

4. Prepare the breadcrumbs in the food processor.  I use 2 slices of bread and 2 peeled clove of garlic.  Process and toast at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes.  Chop your fresh herbs and set aside with the breadcrumbs.

5. Grill your mushroom caps for 10 minutes on each side.  Remove from the grill and stuff each cap with your filling.  Return to the grill (which should now be on a low heat- maybe 300 to 325 degrees) for 15 to 20 minutes, closing the lid and allowing the wood smoke to mingle with the mushrooms.

6. Remove the cooked portabellos from the grill.  Cover each cap well with toasted breadcrumbs and sprinkle with chopped herbs.

Vegan Custard

Vegan No-fat Custard Sauce

I’m a custard freak. My mother always had baked custard with nutmeg around for dessert when I was a child.  I loved to break through the nutmeg crust with my spoon and sample the delicious cold, caramel-flavor of that smooth egg custard.  As a no-fat vegan, I use non-dairy milk and cornstarch to achieve a similar concoction.  This can be made as a sauce to use with fruit crisp or as a stand-alone pudding.  Use whatever non-dairy milk you like best!

Vegan Custard

2 C vanilla non-dairy milk (I use almond, but any, such as soy or rice, will work)
1/8 C agave or honey
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (or amount to your taste)
pinch of salt
Cornstarch

Instructions

1. Mix the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan.

2. Whisk in cornstarch as follows:

  • For custard sauce: 2 TBSP
  • For pudding: 3-4 TBSP depending on how thick you like it

3. Cook on medium heat until it just thickens.  Remember, it will firm up considerably when chilled.

4. Pour into glass dish or pitcher and chill.

No-fat Vegan Summer Fruit Crisp

No-fat Vegan Summer Fruit Crisp

My brother and I recently went on a no-fat vegan shopping spree at the fantastic Poulsbo Central Market.  We just went crazy in the produce section of the store, and for those of you who are familiar with this amazing supermarket, you know that is like going to Disneyland for a vegan. We left the store with a bounty of local  and fresh produce, including fuzzy nubby lychees, plump ruby and black currants, nectarines and local strawberries. For the 4th of July, I put together a no-fat fruit crisp using fresh currants and nectarines.   This is quick and easy, and you can use any fresh summer fruit or fruit-combination!

No-fat Vegan Summer Fruit Crisp

1. Toss together:
8 Cups fresh summer fruit (berries, nectarines, plums, rhubarb etc.)
1/2 C 100% whole wheat flour
1/2 C light brown sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon

2. Place in large pie plate or baking dish and drizzle with about 1/2 C agave (or honey).
3. For topping, mix well:
1 C 100% whole wheat flour
1 C dry oatmeal
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp. each: baking soda, baking powder, salt,  cinnamon

4. Stir 1/2 C water + 1/4 C honey + 1 tsp. vanilla into dry ingredients. You should have a very thick dough about the consistency of cookie dough.
5. Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the top of your fruit.  It will spread out a bit as it bakes.
6. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Lay a piece of loose foil over the top and continue baking for 25 more minutes or until fruit is bubbling and topping is evenly brown. Serve warm with chilled custard sauce, or just plain with a cup of coffee!