Delish Dairy Free Half-n-Half

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Ripple is non-dairy product that came out not long ago.
When my daughter was for sure diagnosed dairy intolerant, we were thinking she might have nut issues also. Other than soy, coconut and rice, there were few options. Even fewer she was crazy about consuming. I wasn’t crazy about having my girls consuming large amounts of soy. Soy mimics estrogen and I have no desire to mess around with natural hormone levels. So that limits the amount of soy we choose to consume. My daughter doesn’t much care for coconut milk, rice milk is watery, and oat milk is oddly sweet. Fine for cereal, not great for savory applications.

I then noticed Ripple appear on my local grocery refrigerator shelf. This is a plant based ‘milk’ that is extremely good and very creamy, mimicking whole fat dairy milk. (FYI: their chocolate milk is delish)

Being aware of (finally) a good tasting milk brand that fit all the parameters, helped me to notice when they released a Half n Half.
Finally.
I’ve struggled with the texture of dishes that require the richer and thicker taste/texture of a cream. You know, like a good french toast, Christmas quiche, and really amazing (GF) bread puddings.  When it comes to replicating half and half, this comes pretty dang close. In fact, with the exception of uses that are exclusive to cream, this is a bang up excellent substitute.

I can tell you that there are many non-dairy creamers out there that are quite suitable for coffee and such, but they are all have a sweet note to them. Not a natural ‘sweet’ cream note, but a ‘sweet creamer’ note. Even the ones not labeled as ‘sweet’ have a sweet taste to them. One Christmas, I thought I was doing my daughters a favor by making a quiche with a traditional non-dairy creamer that claimed to be just ‘creamer’. Trust me, it was not good. The girls graciously ate it, but an oddly sweet ‘ham quiche’ was not what they were expecting for Christmas brunch.

Enter: Ripple Half-n-Half. They have 2 formulas as of today. Vanilla and plain.
I love this stuff.
Seriously…I’m using it every weekend!
I use it to make my GF/DF christmas quiche, french toast, egg bakes (both savory AND sweet), pancake mixes, and more. I adjust which one to use based on the application. French toast? Vanilla. Quiche? Plain. Savory Egg Bake? Plain. Pancakes? Vanilla!
My new sunday morning default is an egg bake I’ve prepped the night before, ready to bake off when we get home from church! Oh…this stuff has changed my life!

This product is amazing. I’m constantly encouraged by the great products that keep coming out to appeal to the dietary demands we have.
Whether you are vegan or dairy intolerant, the market is driving some great innovations in products, and this is one.
Love it.
And I highly recommend it if you can find it.

Note: when mixed in coffee as creamer substitute, there appears to be some sort of a strange reaction that causes the solids to precipitate out of the milk. We notice a slightly gritty sludge at the bottom of the mug. The drink tastes perfectly fine, but be aware of that small drawback. My daughters have only noticed it happening with coffee. Not sure if it happens with other hot drinks.

 

 


Perfectly ‘Creamy’ Perfect Dairy Free, Gluten Free Pea Salad

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My daughter and I recently attended an IF Table Event. If you have never heard of IF, you are not alone. I hadn’t either. Well, correction, I had HEARD of it, I’d just never thought of going. My daughter however, wanted to go and it was a perfect opportunity to not only do something together, but do it together in faith. IF Table is where women gather to share food, fellowship and faith. An introductory story or theme sets the stage, with questions posed for the group to share personal perspective on. It may sound corny but it can actually be quite cool. If (yes, a little pun intended) you have the opportunity to attend one, I recommend it.

With that ‘table set’ (yes, I did it again, LOL) I wanted to bring a couple of dishes that my daughter could eat, if there was nothing else available. (Watch for my super simple asian glass noodle shrimp salad recipe to be posted next)
I decided, with the blush of spring finally upon us, to make a perfectly creamy pea salad w/o the dairy. This was such a hit with the ladies, I’m sharing it here. I’m really glad I chose this because surprisingly, in the group of 18 women, sitting at my table were 2 others who were not only gluten free, but dairy free also! What are the odds? Well, there are no coincidences in the life of a christian, so there you go!
This salad is a snap (I just cant seem to get enough of wordplays!) to put together, and is easy to make to feed a crowd, or just your family. (If its just 1 or 2 of you, make just 1 bag of peas and adjust the other ingredients to taste)
Its also flexible. If you have fresh basil, parsley or even cilantro on hand, use that. If you want to make it more hearty, add a chopped hard boiled egg, ham or bacon. Fresh farmers market tomato, diced, would be yummy too.
Since we are flush into spring greens here in MN, this is a great way to take advantage of all the fresh produce, and get your healthy veggies in!
Enjoy!

Perfectly Creamy Pea Salad (dairy free & gluten free)

*Serves 4 generously as a side
*double this to make for a potluck or larger gathering.

2 bags Stringless SugarSnap Peas (or approx 1 lb total)
1 medium shallot (about 1.5 tsp) diced fine
1/4 c *Silk Plain Almond Yogurt (see notes below)
1 tbsp Mayonaise
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8-10 Leaves fresh Mint, chopped fine (I julienned)
1/2 Lemon, zested and juiced.
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a 4qt saucepan, set 2 quarts of water on the stove to boil. Prepare an ice bath: large bowl with ice and a small amount of water next to the stove.
Salt the boiling water, and add 1 bag at a time to the water. Allow to cook 1-2 minutes, just long enough to set the color. You are not cooking, but merely blanching the peas. They will retain their textural crunchiness, but take on a vivid green color.
Immediately remove, using a spider ladle (see example here) and dump the peas into the ice water bath to stop the cooking. Repeat with the second bag of peas.
Remove the peas to a dry, clean tea towel and pat dry.
In a medium bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, and then toss with the peas.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Transfer to decorative serving container if desired. (I prefer lightweight plastic when I take to potlucks. Its easier to carry something light.

Note:
Because you shock the peas in ice cold water, this dish is ready to serve right away, awfully convenient when the opportunity to a last minute potluck invitation arises!
*I just started using DF plain yogurts. I know there are a growing number of brands of plain yogurts now on the market, just be sure there is no added sugar. You do not have to use Silk brand, that is what I used.


Best DairyFree ‘Butter’ EVAH!

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Since my daughter had to go dairy free as well as gluten free, my life has been in a conundrum. I love to cook, and the main tools in my cooking arsenal are olive oil, avocado oil and butter. Olive oil and avocado oil can substitute well in a lot of places, but there just doesn’t exist a good substitute for dairy.
I’ve experimented with various ‘vegan’ products and while they are getting better, many are just not there….until now!

This vegan butter is seriously a game changer for me, and my resistance to compromise on taste and quality. I simply hate having to settle for producing an inferior product, just to be able to have it. My daughter has tried enough mediocre GF/DF products to agree with me.

Enter Miyoko’s Creamery European Style Cultured VEGANButter. This product has changed my attitude (did i say that out loud?) about non-dairy cooking.

My first foray into testing was grilled sandwiches. Personally, as a super-sniffer I find most ‘vegan’ butters to be at best, meh. Sure, they are adequate when spread on something, but cooked/melted they take on a rancid smell.
IMHO.
(I believe this to be due to the fact that vegetable oil is processed at such a high heat to extract, that it is actually made sorta rancid. Of course, the processors then have to ‘bleach’ the smell out to make it palatable to consume. Well, I can smell it. Ick.)
This ‘butter’ performed like a charm. The toast was browned (a big complaint of non-dairy products), crunchy, and had the real creamy – smooth taste of butter. Pancakes performed just as well. Eggs need a touch of olive oil to keep from sticking, but I find that to be an issue with real butter also – due to the solids. The taste? Buttery.

Seriously…can I emphasize again: TASTES. LIKE. BUTTER.

Granted, this is european style cultured butter, with a smidge of that cultured tang, certainly not a negative in my book.

Since I’ve started using this product around Easter, I decided to try an egg bake.  I tested this in a GF cinnamon raisin bread, ‘French Toast’ style egg bake. I used this ‘butter’ mixed with brown sugar, sliced almonds and a bit of GF flour for the topping. While it did not hold up in a typical style crumble, (maybe next time I’ll use some oats) it did melt and created a nice crunchy caramelized top to the bread-y eggy concoction. I need to research the science to figure out how to keep the topping more texturally firm, but it was SOOOOOO GOOD!
And baked potatoes? Oh yeah. Slather it on.

I’m looking forward to testing out some of my daughters favorite sweets and treats using this product. I can’t wait to make ‘butter’-cream frosting and a butter cake.

I’ll keep you posted, so keep checking back. This one is definitely going to be a pantry item for me.