I think as vegans, we can all relate to Lisa Simpson on one level or another. Whether you're at work, with friends or family, or at a wedding (ugh), you can bet that you will be in the dietary minority (unless you're only around fellow vegans all the time, which, congrats). I get strange looks all the time from people when I politely decline their food and start to drink green juice instead. I've also gotten positive reactions from chefs willing to accommodate me to acquaintances asking insightful questions pertaining to the reasons why I went vegan, etc. Navigating social landscapes is definitely something that can be challenging but also rewarding as someone who lives this unique lifestyle.
The most challenging dish to sell to people who aren't keen on vegan (or just "healthy" food in general) is plain old salad. Hence this...
Yep. I feel her pain. (#same)
The funny thing about salad is, though, it can be just as easily mind-blowing as it can be boring and unappetizing. This rule applies to every food, though, in my humble opinion. Omnivores throw fried meat, potatoes and tons of cheese on their salads and say it makes them "tasty", so why can't vegans do their equivalent of the same?
I love salads. They're great all year round. I love that they can consist of cooked and raw vegetables alike. I also like to mix pickled and fermented vegetables in mine to add flavor, texture and nutrition. A great, quick and easy lunch is some salad greens, chopped seasonal vegetables and some make-ahead protein to throw on top. When I'm feeling lazy, I'll throw beans on top that are barely seasoned. However, for VeganMofo, I decided to do something a little more involved and special...
I made some oven-fried cornmeal crusted tofu. Not only did I make delicious and crispy tofu, but I made a Japanese bulldog sauce to go on top of it. What's bulldog sauce, you ask? Well, it's basically a sweet and sticky BBQ sauce that's usually served with tonkatsu (or fried pork cutlets). This is a classic and homey Japanese meal that I enjoyed as a young kid. I definitely recommend making a vegan version of the cutlets if you can (Here are a few ideas from some fellow bloggers: Vegan Ronin | Lazy Cat Kitchen). They're coated in panko breadcrumbs and are wonderfully addictive.
The sauce itself is interesting because it has fruit purees in it that lend their sweetness. Along with the fruit, bulldog sauce has tomato paste in it as well as carrot. Instead of trying to automatically recreate the sauce itself, I decided to create my own vegan version with household ingredients that most people have already or can find easily at the store. I added a kick to mine by throwing some Frank's Red Hot sauce in there! You can definitely sub sriracha and that would be an excellent idea. The resulting sauce is slightly spicy, tangy, thick with a depth of sweetness from molasses and mirin.
If you can't find mirin, you can always sub maple syrup or your favorite liquid sweetener. This sauce goes very well with the tofu and works as a dressing for the salad on its own. You can also dress your veggies with your favorite dressing if you'd like. I don't care for a lot of dressing so I left mine alone with the exception of a splash of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper!
The only thing I will tell you is this: if you're trying to impress someone with tofu, salad and your sauce making skills, use this recipe! There's no way anyone can deny that eating a vegan salad is a good time if you serve them this. (If they don't like it, then more for you!) Go out there and make some friends! 👯🥗
Bulldog BBQ Tofu Salad
Yield: About 5 Servings
Free from: Nuts, Gluten
Preheat oven 400 F.
So today's prompt is asking how I get my protein. I would imagine my question to this ever present question from non-vegans would be to show them a bit of a double whamey: a protein-packed breakfast.
It's very difficult to come by vegan breakfast foods that are prepared in this country. It's ironic, too, because breakfast foods can so easily be made vegan. The foods that are used to make a nutritious vegan breakfast are also pretty cost effective on the whole. These two items that I'm featuring today are both very economical and keep for the entire week. The protein oatmeal squares are also a much cheaper substitute for store bought energy or meal replacement bars. I'm guilty of buying those to keep on hand in case I'm stuck on the go without food for a while (especially after I work out). However, if you make these, they certainly can save you some money. They're also more eco-friendly!
These two recipes are very forgiving and are also great canvases for your own flavors. I chose chocolate because I had a tub of chocolate Sun Warrior protein on hand. Feel free to use your favorite flavor and brand of protein powder for these. Alternatively, you can also use natural sources of protein like flax and hemp seeds or nuts ground into a flour,
The nice cream is great stored in the freezer but will most likely need to be warmed a bit before scooping since it hardens into a solid mass depending how cold your freezer is set. You can either leave it thaw at room temperature or nuke it in the microwave if you aren't opposed. I like to top mine with nuts and seeds for more added protein! It makes a great option if you don't feel like whipping up a smoothie in the morning (or want to wake your housemates because you get up at 4:30 AM for work like I do).
Combine these two treats for a chocolate-filled yet also healthy and filling breakfast! I'm definitely going to come up with another post with flavor variations on these. The possibilities don't end!
Chocolate Protein Nice Cream
Yield: approximately 7 servings
Free from: gluten, nuts*, soy*
*Use appropriate ingredients for these options
Blend all those things above in a food processor or high speed blender until smooth! Images below. ✌️
Double Chocolate Oatmeal Protein Squares
Yield: 8 Squares (9x5 loaf pan)
Free from: Gluten
Adapted from: Chocolate Covered Katie's Wonderful Baked Oatmeal
Preheat oven 340 F.
I know, I know...today is supposed to be "junk food forever" themed. Nachos are a classic party food that can be as junky as you want. Having nachos drowned in dairy cheese, sour cream and other fattening ingredients is junk, for sure. I decided to take today's prompt and "de-junk" nachos so that I could eat them and not feel absolutely terrible afterwards. If they're too "healthy" for you, feel free to either
A. Fry those tortillas OR
B. Buy store bought chips and vegan refried beans
I won't judge you! There are days that I do just those things. But, that's the beauty of making nachos at home: you can choose your own ingredients. I made these as healthy as I could by baking the tortillas (sprouted ones, thanks to Food for Life) in the oven with no oil until they were crunchy and delicious.
There's good fats in this meal from the raw cashews in the "queso" sauce. I used a tried and true recipe of my own and I will link to one in the recipe below. But, feel free to use your own preferred vegan cheese sauce recipe. If you are unable to consume nuts, I recommend checking out these recipes out for your sauce: Cashewless Queso by The Minimalist Baker and Nut-free Nacho Cheese Sauce by Vegan Richa. If you're going for a store-bought option, you can always buy a pack of Daiya or So Delicious shreds and melt them on top of your chips! The real star of these nachos are the black beans, anyway...
Whatever you choose to do with these nachos, just enjoy them with all the delicious toppings you can! Nachos aren't nachos if they aren't loaded with fresh veggies. I topped mine with chopped avocado, tomato, green and red onion and roasted spiced black beans. The queso just holds everything on the chips from the plate to your face! Feel free to use whatever type of bean you like. I wouldn't mind trying azuki beans, myself....
Sprouted Spiced Black Bean Nachos
Yield: 1 Serving
Free from: Soy**, Gluten*
*Use all corn tortillas for Gluten-free option
**Use appropriate cheese recipe for soy-free or store bought
Spiced Black Beans
Preheat oven 300 F.
Rock cakes immediately remind me of Rubeus Hagrid, the lovable half giant from Harry Potter. When I looked for a rock cake recipe ages ago, I was shocked to see how simple they were to make. As a child, I always pictured rock cakes as something unappealing to eat that people always made anyway (much like fruitcake). However, when I realized that rock cakes were simply variations of a scone or biscuit, I became intrigued and determined to bake some. I love me some scones and biscuits especially with tea! ☕️😋
My sister and I recently decided to binge the Harry Potter films. We both grew up reading the books and cherish the stories dearly as if they were factual. She recently got her hands on a cookbook inspired by recipes in the books. I'm impressed that someone took the time to properly research and compile the foods in all 7 volumes of the series. That's a lot of reading to do.
Of course, most of the recipes are not vegan. However, the more popular and exciting treats are easily made vegan with a few adjustments. I started off with rock cakes because I had already wanted to make them anyway and they're quick and easy to whip up in the morning to have with tea or coffee! Luckily, my first batch was a success. I made them completely gluten, soy and nut free. They are a great canvas for all kinds of flavors and variations, though. Baked goods that offer flexibility in terms of flavor are my favorite. Because, let's face it, who wants the same boring rock cake over and over? I know I don't. 😏
The rock cakes I made are a little more rich and earthy than the ones in sample recipes I found. The cakes seem to feature all different types of dried fruits, spices and nuts. I wanted to keep mine simple yet still flavorful...and, of course, rock-like!
I got a great idea to use carob powder from Miss Kitchen Witch, who is a fabulous food blogger who made Harry Potter themed recipes for Vegan MoFo a few years ago. I posted that year too and was much more interested in her recipes than mine! I loved her theme and immediately thought mine was boring. Now, years later, I'm also going to give it a shot while altering the recipe a bit.
I flavored my dough with carob and chopped dates. I love the caramel-like flavor of dates and their richness that seems to be missing in many other dried fruits. They also go very well with the smokey quality of coconut sugar, which I use frequently. I added a little bite of acid to brighten the cakes by soaking the dates in orange juice, which is a trick I learned during my bakery days while making carrot cakes. Soak the raisins in warm water infused with different extracts and your cakes will bake up moist and flavorful! 😍 The same effect can be achieved with any kind of juice as your soaking liquid too.
The resulting rock cake here is very rock-like in appearance but soft and crumbly in texture with a crunchy sugar top. They aren't overly sweet, so they pair nicely with any coffee or black tea that is slightly bitter. If you want to make these cakes more decadent, you can add in some chocolate chips or a little more fruit to the dough. They cook up quickly, too, so you can enjoy them day of with minimal wait time! Keep an eye out and I may just post another flavor sometime soon (maybe for the holidays?!). 😉
It's good to be back, folks. Enjoy the rocks!
Date Carob Rock Cakes
Preheat oven 350 F
This cookie recipe is one from my BHG archives. My mom and I always used their "New Cookbook" (published in the early 90's I believe) for our Christmas cookie recipes back in the day. This cookbook has any type of cookie you could possibly desire with easy and simple to follow recipes. Making their baking recipes into vegan versions isn't so difficult anymore, especially if you use aquafaba. 😋
These cookies are as low maintenance as you can get: one bowl, use your mixer for easy clean up and easy mixing, and no rolling required! As cute as cutout cookies are, they are time consuming and temperamental. This dough comes together quickly with the help of a mixer and paddle attachment, if you have one. Once it's done, chill it for about 20 minutes while you heat up your oven and then use a mini ice cream scoop or teaspoon to portion out cookie drops.
The original recipe (linked at the beginning of the ingredient section) calls for banana butter icing. Instead of going through the trouble of making icing, I decided to make these cookies interesting by transforming them into "chunky monkey" cookies. There are chocolate chips and walnut pieces inside each little cookie, which offer crunch and richness. If you prefer to keep these cookies more simple, you can omit the chocolate and nuts.
Also, these are great to make for a last minute cookie swap or holiday get together if you have a spare banana lying around like I usually do. 😅 Enjoy and grab one for yourself. 💝
Yield: About 24 Cookies
Adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens Banana Drop Cookies
Holiday baking is something that I normally go overboard on...but I feel so behind today! I know it's only the Monday after Thanksgiving, but I feel like Christmas is already here. Lights and decorations are going up all around me and all I have to show are two dish towels with reindeer on them. 😳
#firstworldrpoblems, I guess...
I decided to bake some quick, easy, delicious and somewhat healthy cookies for this post. I'm a huge fan of Chocolate Covered Katie, one of the best dessert blogs I've ever encountered. She makes easy recipes that have accessible ingredients, delicious crave-able flavors, and offers all the substitutions you never knew you needed. Her blog was one of the first ones I read when I started to experiment with vegan baking. I had no idea what stevia was and had no clue that you could bake a cake in the microwave. She showed me the truth and I am bestowing my knowledge unto you now.
Behold! My recreation of a recipe from CCK's cookbook (which you should probably buy):
These pixie cookies are delicate and fluffy drops of cake-like chocolate with a hint of cool peppermint and rolled in powdered sugar to make them look like they've been on a romp in the snow. ❄️☃ These take only 12-15 minutes to bake and they are small, so if you are feeding a crowd of up to 9 people, you're perfectly fine without doubling the recipe. Also, if you have peppermint extract (or peppermint stevia at your own risk), you can whip these cookies up any time because they only use staple pantry ingredients. My rendition has a few minor changes so make sure you check the ingredients in case you need to plan ahead. Otherwise, whip up a batch now and join me in cookie heaven! 🍪🍫😇💖
Mint Chocolate Pixie Cookies
Adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie
Free from: Gluten, Refined Sugar, Nuts, Soy*
Yield: About 18-24 cookies
I'll spare you the anecdotes and get right to the Thanksgiving food porn. I've listed everything I made for my first Thanksgiving dinner here. I will be seeing my immediate family this weekend where a second feast will take place. I'm blessed to have amazing family and friends who allow my boyfriend and I to bring our own food. I'm also grateful for my mom and dad who make sure that all our sides are vegan so that I can eat everything I want!
I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and a festive weekend. I hope for those that work, you take a moment for yourself in any way you can. You deserve it.
Now, feast your eyes...😳😍🍂🍃🦃🍁🌳💝
Purple Sweet Potato Pie Bars
Mini Pumpkin Pies
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
No recipe for this...I literally threw it together. But, if you want a good homemade recipe recommendation, see The Minimalist Baker. We made this version last year and it was delicious. This year, i just approximated everything. It's a very forgiving dish. Also, we used an entire container of fried onions because it's time to feast.
Rustic Mashed Red Bliss Potatoes
Again, no real recipe. I can tell you roughly how I did this:
About two years ago, I made three different types of cake doughnuts to celebrate the fall season. Now, I'm back to make a new incarnation of one of them. I'm taking my pumpkin doughnut and throwing some fun Halloween flavors on top of it! Pumpkin and s'mores always seemed like two things that could be good together. I finally figured out how to successfully integrate them: pumpkin spice vegan marshmallows. 😮🎃
Once i found these precious gems, I knew I had to grab them. I was overcome by the pumpkin spice spell once more. The base recipe of these doughnuts is formulated from Erin McKenna's Babycakes Covers the Classics, which was one of the first all gluten-free vegan baking books I ever bought. It opened my eyes to what would ultimately become my fabulous vegan cake recipe, which I am very proud of! Its origins stemmed from how McKenna bakes at her bakeries. Although it isn't exactly the same, it's similar in the types of flours that I combine together.
I love these doughnuts because they are light and spongey but also moist. I used to be a huge fiend of cake doughnuts growing up. Unfortunately, I only ever had Dunkin's until I was older and discovered wonderful places like Voodoo Doughnut, Dottie's Donuts, The Cinnamon Snail, and Dunwell Doughnuts. Now, I am a doughnut explorer. I try all varieties as long as the flavor suits me. I'm also a fan of fritters. 😜
These doughnuts are safe for those who do not wish to worry about gluten or sugar overload while enjoying a delicious fall treat. The fixins on this doughnut do contain sugar, but the batter itself only calls for coconut sugar. You can also substitute an appropriate amount of stevia at your own risk. I recommend enjoying these with your friends/family/cat/dog and a nice hot cup of something. Enjoy and have a spooky weekend.
Pumpkin S'mores Doughnuts
Free from: Soy*, Gluten, Nuts*
You only need a small amount of ganache to drizzle onto the doughnuts so your marshallow and cookie crumbs will stick. If you have leftover, you can always use it to top ice cream later. 😏
Adjust the amount of milk/chocolate as needed for a thicker or thinner consistency. You can use a thick ganache to dip the doughnuts in for more of a glaze effect or drizzle a thinner ganache on top for a fun texture!
Fall is here!
This October, my posts are going to be Halloween all the way. Candy-themed delights, fun colors, and fall-inspired flavors. I'm kicking it off today with a doozy: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake !
One of my favorite candies growing up were Reese's peanut butter cups. This was a strange anomaly for me, however, because I actually despised peanut butter throughout my childhood and adolescence. It wasn't until college did I finally warm up to nut butters. Being a broke vegetarian responsible for buying food will foster creativity.
I began to try almond butter around this time, which I didn't totally dislike. I think this was mostly because of almond butter's more mild flavor. I also bought all natural almond butter, because it was all I could find at the time. I had grown up finding regular sickeningly sweet and pungent peanut butter horrifying, especially to smell.
Once I decided that almond butter wasn't so bad, I decided to try sunflower butter. That stuff, man. Let me tell you, I became infatuated immediately. It's deliciously sweet, a little roasty, creamy and mild in smell. I loved it and couldn't get enough of it.
After buying a couple jars, I realized that sunflower butter was very expensive. So, I decided to finally give peanut butter another go. This time, I bought creamy all-natural peanut butter with no added sweeteners or oils. I was amazed. The texture was very similar to the almond butter that I used to buy. The taste was a little more pungent than sunflower butter, but it still had the earthy tang that I had grown to love.
I've been a huge peanut butter advocate ever since. Actually, I've grown to love all types of nut and seed butters. I'll try anything that's creamy and spreadable.
But, anyway, back to peanut butter cups!
I've actually always loved peanut butter cups. I'm a big chocolate fan, as many people are. I found the sweet and roasty chocolate a great foil to the peanut butter as a child. The overly-sweet peanut butter icing inside was tolerable just because of how sweet it was. I think if I had never grown to like peanut butter cups, I would still be averted to peanut butter today. So, even though Reese's are certainly not vegan, they did help me to move towards a path of peanut acceptance in my later life. So, for that, I thank them. <3
As for this cake, I've combined my age-old love of chocolate and peanut butter and created a cake that's perfect for celebrating the greatness of anything, weddings, birthdays, Halloweens, Christmases, anything you want! For me, peanut butter cups are almost a symbol of Halloween in today's consumer culture. So, why not play along a little? Except, ditch all the junk. You don't need that cramping your cake style.
I always opt for natural (or if not, organic) peanut butter. I don't really like extra sugar or salt in my nut butters, but if they are GMO-free, they're alright in small amounts. The sugar I used is also organic, to ensure that it contains no animal products or GMO's.
The mousse was fun to make. I very loosely consider it to be a "recipe" here, since I just whipped up some aquafaba and mixed in peanut butter and sweetener. Nothing too complicated, but the result is to die for!
As far as the decoration of the cake, I went for a very simple look. This could also be done as a super lazy sheet or pan cake. After the cake is cooled completely, just layer the mousse on first and spread evenly. Then, pour the melted ganache all over the top to seal it. Let the cake sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight and you will have an equally delicious and no-muss no-fuss cake to serve and eat immediately! Alternatively, you can cut, fill and ice it like me. But only if you want to. 😛
Here's to a very delicious October and Halloween! 🎃
Peanut Butter Cup Cake
Preheat oven 350 F.
Again. this is a rough recipe as ganache is pretty easy to eyeball. You want a consistency that is pourable yet thick enough to hold its shape. I'd say a 1 to 1 ratio of chocolate to liquid is a good starting point, and then add more of either to adjust as needed. Definitely let the ganache cool for at least 15 minutes before garnishing your cake. Otherwise, it will run everywhere!
In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and coconut milk together on low heat. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula. When mixture is fully melted with no lumps, remove from heat and let cool before using, or pour directly onto some ice cream (if you happen to have any). 😜
Assembly and Decoration
For the assembling of the cake, I made a slide show to demonstrate how to put everything together. If you've never iced a cake before, then I suggest you search a tutorial because I haven't got one here just yet!
It's simple, but if you don't want to be bothered, I totally understand. That's the beauty of making cake...you can do it so many ways! Bake in a sheet pan, slap the layers on and be done!
But, if you want to be fancy, here are the steps:
So, I recently made my very first batch of lemon bars.
I'm just one of those people who doesn't particularly favor lemon desserts. I love adding lemon as an accent to a savory dish. Nothing beats a fresh pop of lemon juice in sauces and marinades. I also add lemon to my water and tea when I'm feeling congested. It does wonders!
I guess my main issue with lemon desserts was always that they tasted too extreme for me. I never cared for the intense taste of sour and sweet together. This combination always made me think of Sour Patch Kids or Warheads. My teeth hurt just thinking about it!
However, this past mother's day I decided to put my differences with lemon aside for my grandma. She loves lemon desserts. One of her favorite things is lemon meringue pie, which is definitely not something I care for. I wanted to try to make her something that I could enjoy too. What a challenge!
Luckily, I found a simple and seemingly delicious recipe from the one and only Minimalist Baker blog. I use Dana's recipes all the time if I need to make a quick batch of something for an impromptu meal (biscuits, pancakes, cupcakes, you name it). I love her recipes for their simplicity, short lists of ingredients, and quick prep times. I figured that she would have a trustworthy lemon bar recipe in her archives.
I was definitely right in choosing this one (link below). The texture of these bars is similar to cheesecake, amazingly creamy and refreshing. I used a shortbread recipe for the crust, but I followed the filling recipe as it was. The result was incredible. The lemon flavor wasn't overpowering at all. I also love how the maple syrup provides a mellow and rich sweetness that does not shock your taste buds. Needless to say, the bars were a hit!
And now, for the twist.
When I looked in the pantry the other day, I noticed I had a box of Choice Batter muffin mix. I brought this mix home with the thought of, "Well, I'll keep this on hand in case of emergency." In my mind, muffin crisis is always just around the corner. You need to be prepared.
I also wanted to give Choice Batter a try since I've seen their products many times. Their bake mixes are allergen-free, which means gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free! The recipe on the box also calls for just oil and water, which keeps the muffins vegan.
Then I got to thinking, "What if these muffins had cheesecake on top of them?" Well, that was when I channeled my inner Sandra Lee and whipped up a "semi-homemade" lemon bar concoction. I changed the ratio of liquids in the boxed muffin recipe to make them more dense and I added some more lemony essence with the help of freshly squeezed and zested organic lemons.
Then, I made some of Dana's lemon bar filling and poured it right over the muffin batter in a brownie pan. The rest is self explanatory. The finished product is a delicious square of lemon poppy seed and cheesecake goodness. The cheesecake layer is thin so it does not provide a gunky mouth feel, which cheesecake sometimes can in large amounts. The bars are satisfying, bright, slightly sweet, and creamy.
These little squares are great for baking ahead and bringing to your weekend get together or BBQ (hint hint, Memorial Day)! They are also free of many allergens (except cashews!) so they will be a safe treat for almost everyone to enjoy. Also, you technically made these at home, so you can have bragging rights. No one needs to know that Choice Batter gave you a head start. ;) Or, maybe they do! Thank you, Choice Batter! ^_^
Have a great weekend, everyone! Enjoy the sun and the lemons!
Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake Bars
Free from: Gluten, Soy*
Yield: about 9 servings
Cheesecake topping recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker Lemon Bars
This is my very first food blog! I post revised conventional recipes of foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. My cooking here is all gluten-free and cruelty-free, but full of flavor and comfort.