Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cheezecake! (vegan)

For Olivia's first birthday, even though I was pretty darn sick, I still managed to make her a cake (yay hooray!) and for some reason, a cheesecake seemed just the thing...but all that dairy? Especially for a baby who's never even had a little bit? (ok, maybe she's snuck a sip or two from her siblings sippy cups, but still...

So, a tofutti vegan cheesecake it was! I found a great recipe in this cookbook and even my hyper-critical mother liked it! My dad liked it! The baby liked it! No one knew they were eating tofuuti and not rich, fattening cream cheese! (and then I told them, and, well, that sort of put a damper on things)...but they ate every bit!

Here's the recipe:
1 1/2 cups vegan cookie crumbs (we used vegan organic oreo cookies)
3 Tbs refined coconut oil. melted
1 cup plus 7 Tbs turbinado sugar
2 pounds tofu cream cheese (Tofutti)
1 pound silken tofu
3 Tbs arrowroot ( or 3 Tbs plus 2tsp cornstarch)
1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
Zest and juice of one lemon
Fruit glaze topping (optional, recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 325 F
In a medium bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, oil, and 3 Tbs of the sugar, stirring until the mixture is uniformly moist. Transfer to a 10-inch springform pan and press the mixture evenly up the sides of the pan. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is lightly browned and dry, 15-20 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.
While the crust is cooling, increase the oven temp to 350 F.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine about 1/4 of the cream cheese and the tofu; process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer. Add the remaining cream cheese and the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar and mix on medium speed until smooth.
In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot or cornstarch, vanilla, and lemon juice.
Add this mixture, along with the lemon zest, to the cream cheese mixture, beating until just smooth. Pour the entire mixture into the cooled crust. (Ours was a tad warm still, came out fine). Place the pan on the rimmed baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes.
When the time is up, turn off the heat, but leave the cheesecake in the oven until the edges are set and lightly browned but the center is still wobbly, about 60 minutes. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the edge of the crust, and let cool completely.
Cover and chill for at least 4 hours and up to a day before removing the sides of the pan. Just before serving, pour the glaze on top, spreading it evenly.
Fruit Glaze Topping:
1 cup all-fruit jam or preserves, whatever flavor you like (I used strawberry)
1 Tbs arrowroot disolved in 1/3 cup water (or 3 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch disolved in 1/3 cup water)
In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the jam and the arrowroot mixture. Bring to a simmer, whisking until thickened and no longer milky-looking, about 3 minutes. Cool and spread on the cooled, chilled cheesecake.
That's a lot of work, and waiting, but worth it! Enjoy!

Vegan Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies!

Here's a recipe for Vegan Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies that I worked up from a favorite recipe. It's pretty awesome! Makes about 22-24 cookies

3/4 cup Organic Whole Grain Pastry Flour
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread (original flavor)
1/2 cup Trader Joe's Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter
3/4 cup Natural Turbinado Sugar
1 'egg' worth of Ener-G Egg Replacer (mixed with water according to package instructions)
1 tsp vanilla

safflower oil for the baking sheet

Cream together the 'butter', sugar, peanut butter and vanilla. Add 'egg' and beat well.
In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, including the oatmeal, and then add to the creamed mixture and stir till eveything is 'wet', but do not over stir.
Pinch Tbs sized balls out of the bowl, press and roll slightly between your hands into balls and flatten on oiled baking sheet with a fork, for the classic peanut butter cookie 'look'.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and let cool on baking sheet for several minutes till they are not crumbly. The resulting cookie is a little chewy, a little crunchy...VERY yummy and impossible to tell apart from the same recipe with eggs, dairy and white flour.

Ok, so I have been trying to lose some weight, (four pregnancies adds up on a person) and I was having No success.

Turns out, I was eating too much dairy. Cheese, really. Just about every time I felt peckish, I'd have a little piece of cheese. "I need the protein", I rationalized, since we keep a vegetarian house, and I wasn't eating all that much tofu or beans...but after keeping a food journal for a week, I realized I still was getting about 3x the protein I 'needed'!

I've been doing a lot of reading on the virtues of Veganism...(one of which is that you can get skinny and healthy!) and so decided to try it. So I've given up all cheese, all dairy, eggs, white flour and coffee.

Which meant a couple of labor-intensive trips to different grocery stores...reading labels till I was dizzy, but determined to get the basics...whole wheat flour, dairy free 'butter', high temp cooking oil (safflower), also refined coconut oil, soy cheeses, vegan mayonaise (Veganaise is awesome), soy milk, rice milk, almond milk (yum!), arrowroot for thickening things, egg replacer and unrefined sugar (turbinado)...

So far I've made vegan pancakes, potatoes au gratin, (it was ok), 'pigs in a blanket' with 'cheese', sloppy joes (awesome! remember, I've got to make stuff the kids will like), burritos, barbeque 'chicken' panini sandwiches with fantastic homemade vegan coleslaw, a really yummy creamy 'chicken' and gravy stew with potatoes and corn and the filling from a chicken pot pie! I'd make that too, but the recipe I tried for a whole wheat crust was too crumbly...unless that was my fault...

And, I've lost 12 pounds! Yay me! The kids are still drinking cow's milk, since we buy organic, I am feeling ok about it...but may change my mind soon, we'll see...even the organic cows udders are milked for hours each day - whether or not they are irritated or infected and oozing pus. (Sorry, but it's true.) My sister said "But it's pasturized". Oh yeah, delicious.

For mind-bending info about this country's terrible factory farming practices, visit Even fish are not exempt, but are factory-farmed in truly gross conditions...and the global impact is shocking (and we are getting sick!).

So am I going vegan because I am so well informed and righteous or because I self-centeredly want to lose weight? I don't know. I do hope my good intentions balance out my self-centeredness, but eating all this thoughtful and yummy food AND losing weight? Kind of makes me feel pretty good about myself.

About Me

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Mamazakka is Mommy blogger Autumn Sousanis; also-known-as Autumn Dunbar; and also-known-as "Mama" to six little ones, ages 9, 7.5, 5, 3.5 2 and a 3 month old! :) Busy,yes. A graduate of C.C.S. (Center for Creative Studies, School of Art and Design in Detroit) with my bachelor's degree in Fine Arts, I have finally found my calling as 'Mamazakka', maker of everything and anything that might improve your home, life and outlook. :) It's my goal to create things that truly meet Wikipedia's definition for 'zakka'; (here's an excerpt)..."cute, corny, kitschy is not enough. To qualify, a product must be attractive, sensitive and laden with subtext." Oh yeah! You betcha! Well, that's my goal, anyhow! I'm also known as an over-user of exclamation marks(!) and parentheses (can't help it) though I do try to keep my smileys to a minimum :)