Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 84: Burgers and Ice Cream

This week has been really hectic, hence the long gap in between posts. However, tonight I will make it up to you by giving you some healthy solutions to some typically really unhealthy foods. I liked the challenge of coming up with a salubrious way to tackle these doozers, and in the end, it was so worth it and I hope that it will be for you too! Burgers and ice cream--two classic American calorie and sugar-packed food items. You may be thinking, "Yeah right, how can I make THESE recipes healthy?" Well, I will prove your negative thoughts wrong and show you and you never know, maybe you will like my sugar-free, low calorie alternatives better, or at least that's my hope. Also, I should mention that there's no real meat in the burgers so this meal can actually be kosher too as you wouldn't be mixing milk and meat.  Plus, I found out a way through another blog how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker, which is another plus, especially since I don't have one and don't want to have to buy one! So don't be a wuss and take the challenge--you will thoroughly enjoy the results, I promise!

Mini Spicy Black Bean-Mushroom Burgers on Grilled Artichoke Buns
Makes 12 mini cakes

2 tbsp soy chorizo (Trader Joe’s brand)
1 c. black beans
5-6 mini Portobello mushrooms
1/4 block light firm tofu
1 c. collard greens
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Spanish olive juice
1 tbsp capers and pimentos from Spanish olive jar
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/4th chickpea flour
¼ c. sunflower seeds grounded
½ c. walnuts
½ c. EVOO (olive oil) 
2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp cumin powder

2 slices vegan cheddar cheese (I like Vegan Gourmet brand)
1 tbsp vegan Bac’un bits, grounded

Artichoke Buns with Vegan Egg Substitute:
2 fresh artichokes
3 tbsp flax seed powder
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/8th tsp black pepper
1 tsp seafood seasoning (Le Flor brand)
6 tbsp water

1) Gradually blend the mushrooms with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor until creamy.
2) Place in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours (can be made the night before).
3) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4) Line a muffin pan with foil liners and pour the bean mixture into each cup.
5) Bake the bean burgers in the oven for about 30 minutes or until they feel slightly firm to the touch.
6) Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the artichokes for about 30 minutes on medium-high setting.
7) Drain the pot and remove the leaves from the artichoke, reserving them for a side dish or snack later--they're good with mayonnaise or light Italian dressing. Note: Make sure you remove the 'hairs' with a spoon from the hearts--these are NOT edible and you will choke on them if you try to eat them. 
8) Grease a medium-sized skillet with Pam olive oil and set the heat to a medium setting.
9) Whisk together the vegan egg mixture (flax seed powder, water and spices).
10) Saturate the artichoke hearts in the vegan egg mixture and place into the pan, placing the lid on top for it to steam for a few minutes.
11) Flip the artichoke hearts on the other side carefully and pour some of the vegan egg mixture on top, covering the skillet with the lid again.
12) After the egg mixture looks browned, remove the hearts from the skillet.
13) Layer 1 slice vegan cheddar cheese onto one artichoke heart with some vegan bacon bits on top.
14) Place a burger on top, along with another slice of vegan cheddar and some vegan bacon bits.
15) Top with the remainder artichoke heart and serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Lemony Ricotta Cream With Candied Almonds & Toasted Coconut
Makes about 5 cups

2 c. light coconut milk
1 ½ c. part-skim ricotta cheese
1 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk
1 ½ tsp raw stevia extract (comes in a small bottle with a dropper)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp ground basil leaves (can use fresh)
2 sprigs of fresh lavender leaves
2 sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp ground mint leaves (can use fresh)
4 egg yolks
1 ½ tsp guar gum

3/4-1 c. light coconut milk

½ c. slivered almonds
½ c. unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 c. coconut vinegar 
3/4 c. white Balsamic vinegar or Pinot Grigio vinegar (I used Bertoli brand)
2 packets of raw stevia


1 handful sliced almonds
1 handful unsweetened coconut
1 square bittersweet or extra dark chocolate (I'm talking at least 70%--the darker, the healthier and tastier in my opinion: I like Scharffen Berger brand of bittersweet chocolate because the whole bar is only 2 servings so one small piece is really not that may calories! Lindt 85% is also pretty tasty.)
1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk + 1 packet raw stevia

1) Soak the herbs in the coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight or for at least several hours 
2) In a large pot, mix together the ricotta, almond milk and herbed coconut milk and turn the heat onto a medium setting.
3) Add the stevia extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and almond extracts, guar gum and the ginger.
4) Whisk the egg yokes with a fork in a small bowl and then dump them into the pot with the creamy mixture.
5) Now I want you to whisk the bejeezus out the ricotta cream for at least 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Not only will you get a good upper arm workout doing this, but you want to make sure that the guar gum fully dissolves and doesn't clump up in the mixture (something I learned from thickening soup--it acts like corn starch and will clump up and become 'gluey' if you don't really whisk it into the mixture, and nobody likes eating glue...unless you're 5 years old). 
6) Once mixture is thickened, pour the ricotta cream into ice cube trays (I filled about 3 trays) and place in the freezer overnight.
7) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
8) Place the coconut on the sheet and bake it for about 15 minutes (until it looks browned and toasted).
9) Meanwhile, heat up a large skillet on medium heat and pour in the vinegars with the 2 packets of stevia, stirring them together for about 5 minutes.
10) Add the slivered almonds and cover the pot with a lid for a couple minutes or until the vinegar starts to boil and become syrupy.
11) Turn down the heat to medium-low setting and stir until the syrup thickens slightly.
12) Place toasted coconut and candied almonds in separate bowls in the refrigerator to cool down a bit while finishing the ice cream.
7) Put the frozen cubes of cream into a food processor starting with 3/4 cup of the coconut milk.
8) Blend throughly, adding more coconut milk if necessary. Note: The air from the processor will act like an ice cream maker and whip the mixture into soft ice cream and yet, you didn't even have to use an ice cream maker (which I don't have)! Thank you, Food Lab! It won't however, make hard ice cream, because that machine does keep it consistently cold while you're churning it. I might try to emulate this process next time by placing the food processor in a big bowl of ice to keep it cold as it's blending the ice cream. And it'll be vegan since my sister can't have dairy. 
9) Once ice cream is smooth, pour into a large container and stir in the coconut and candied almonds.
10) Heat up bittersweet chocolate, almond milk and stevia in a small bowl in the microwave on high for about 1 minute and stir until it's melted completely.
11) Place sauce on top of ice cream, along with the sliced almonds and unsweetened coconut. Serve immediately or place in the freezer again. Note: If you put it in the freezer, just place the container in the microwave on high for about 1 1/2 minutes and scoop out the ice cream into a bowl. 

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

I gladly used my adorable skulls and cross-bone ice cube trays leftover from Halloween to freeze the cream mixture:
                                                            Aren't they cute???

    Finished product topped with sliced almonds, coconut and melted bittersweet chocolate

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