For my Halloween post, I wanted to make something chocolate and fun, but still pretty simple. So often it is difficult to come across vegan chocolate candy to purchase. I love all the chocolate bars...they were my favorites growing up. I'm not a huge fan of fruit flavored candy with the exception of Skittles and Twizzlers. Luckily, they're both vegan (though not healthy at all) so I still get to indulge in them once in a while. Chocolate bars, at least conventional ones, are very much not vegan (with the exception of Peanut Chews, which are accidentally vegan).
I usually just end up buying a bar of Endangered Species dark chocolate as a treat sometimes. I'll break off a square here and there if I want something sweet, bitter and caffeinated. Sometimes, though, I like to have a little fun with my chocolate! It brings me back to my bakery days...
We used to make chocolates using various molds for holidays, cake garnishes, and special orders quite often. I decided, since I don't own one, to buy a chocolate mold for myself. This is my first investment: frog molds! Because, duh, CHOCOLATE FROGS!
I've already posted a recipe for rock cakes this year. I decided to take my Harry Potter inspiration to this post with vegan chocolate frogs. I couldn't get these frogs to move on their own, unfortunately (but not from lack of trying). They are, however, delicious. The best part about them is that they are whatever chocolate you would like them to be. You can choose your own percentage of dark chocolate, make chocolate from scratch, buy vegan milk chocolate, or even vegan white chocolate! I decided to use vegan chocolate chips for mine since they were readily available. There are a ton of raw chocolate recipes out there, though. Check them out and experiment! The mold will always be there waiting for you.
I made two flavors of frogs here. The first one is stuffed with vanilla coconut butter. I wanted to try my hand at making homemade coconut butter finally. I saw a post from Chocolate Covered Katie forever ago about how to do this and I've wanted to ever since! The Minimalist Baker also has a great tutorial. But, in a nutshell, you're basically pulverizing dried coconut until it becomes a paste (nut butter-like) consistency. It takes a lot of patience, but it's so worth it! Coconut butter comes with a high price tag in stores otherwise. This is a great economical option if you're going to use it for a recipe especially.
The other frogs are pumpkin spice flavored. No, there's no actual pumpkin in them. However, there are pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie spices. They're deliciously festive for Halloween! The pumpkin seeds are also a good nut-free alternative for those who are allergic. There are instructions provided here for you, but feel free to take the idea and run with it! Chocolates are easy to make and even easier to customize. I recommend storing these in the freezer long term. If you want one, take it out and let it come to room temp before enjoying! If you will be consuming these quickly, keep them in the fridge.
Have a spooky day, everyone!
Vegan Chocolate Frogs
Yield: Makes about 12 frogs depending on the size mold you use
Free from: Nuts, Gluten, Soy*
*Use soy-free chocolate for this option
Five Spice Pot Pie
Yield: 1 pie, about 5 servings
Free from: Gluten*, Nuts
*Use appropriate ingredients
Preheat oven 350 F.
This is my response to the "unconventional grains" prompt! I love to bake with different grain flours often since most of my baking is gluten-free. I've experimented with all types of grain flours and some grain-free as well. I find that there is no "one" magical flour that can be substituted for wheat flour in a baking recipe. Gluten-free flours must be combined in order to achieve an optimal texture, fat content and taste for different applications. I find that my favorite "all purpose" gluten-free flour blend is good old Bob's Red Mill.
I like to combine this all purpose blend with other grain flours for awesome texture. This flour is also good as a 1 to 1 substitute for my purposes, I find. I make roux with it, dust surfaces, and use it alone for simple baked goods like biscuits. I've never found another flour blend that does it quite like this one for me. I also really love the flavor, which some people might not be partial to because it contains chickpea flour. Some people say it makes whatever you cook taste like falafel. I'm not in this camp but it's all a matter of taste, I suppose.
This recipe came to me one day when I was using leftover bananas to make banana bread. The original version was made with quinoa flour instead of buckwheat. Upon my second time using this recipe, I found that I actually like the buckwheat flour much more! The banana bread is wonderfully moist, sticks together, is dense but rises nicely, and has a depth of flavor that transcends just "banana and sugar". I also love the nutrition that the buckwheat flour brings to this recipe! It's got a good amount of protein and fiber! The only downside that I can possibly see with this recipe is its darker color. You can't really see the banana in there unless you look closely. I don't mind this too much. It's dang tasty and that's all I really care about.
I took the liberty of sprinkling some granola and trail mix on top of my banana bread. You can do this if you want some more texture and crunch as well. Alternatively, whip up some streusel and sprinkle that on top! How can that be bad?
Feel free to spread some of your favorite nut or seed butter on top of a slice of this for a hearty breakfast. Since there's no added oils or fats in this bread, you can control the type and amount of fats you add to it for a well-rounded meal!
Buckwheat Banana Bread (Oil Free)
Yield: 1 loaf (9x5 pan)
Free from: Gluten, Soy*, Oil*
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Today's post doesn't require much of an explanation. I love wet walnuts. I first encountered them at Dairy Queen (I worked there in high school). A lot of our customers loved them and I never understood why since they looked a little unappetizing. I tried the topping at one point and thought it tasted okay, but not fabulous.
Later in life, I learned that I loved nuts in ice cream A LOT. One of my favorite flavors to this day is butter pecan. I also love rocky road, moose tracks, etc. The wet walnuts I made for this simple (yet boozy) sundae are infused with the tart bite of hard apple cider, sweet maple syrup, and apple pie spices. There isn't anything more "fall" than the smell of apple pie on your ice cream.
The ice cream I made is a simple vanilla bean flavor (with bourbon, though). Again, I've always loved simple ice cream flavors. Vanilla is as basic as you can get with ice cream, but it's the base for EVERY FLAVOR. Any and all flavors of ice cream need to have vanilla extract in them (if they're sweet, of course). The vanilla gives the ice cream the essence that it needs to be rich and creamy and fragrant. I loved the fresh vanilla bean taste in this recipe. Using vanilla paste will give you a similar effect. '
The combination of the bourbon and cider is also very "fall". There's a great cocktail that calls for bourbon and apple cider. Not sure if it has a name, actually... Either way, it's pretty delicious hot or iced.
The wet walnuts I made were chilled when I served them over the ice cream. If you're not opposed to your ice cream melting a bit, heat the walnuts up slightly for a gooey treat! I also included a link below to a recipe for raw apple pie filling, which would be a wonderful addition to this sundae. There's already a delicious apple bite from the walnuts, but why not accentuate it?! Enjoy and don't sundae and drive. ;)
Boozy Apple Pie Sundae
Yield: about 6 servings
Free from: Soy*, Gluten
*Use appropriate ingredients for this option
Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream
Hard Cider Wet Walnuts
Toppings of choice (here's my raw apple pie filling)
Today's prompt is everything that I love about this time of year: SPICES!
I love warm spices. They always seem to find their way into my recipes in some form or another. I use cinnamon in almost everything. As I developed a taste for other spices, I discovered that I loved curries and stews with warm spices as well. I think savory applications of spices are my favorite simply because they offer unique depths of flavor. I love how the addition of spices to a simple chili or stew can create so much aromatic flavor.
One of my favorite foods in the fall and winter is sweet potato. Sweet potato is always known for its ability to carry sweet spices in desserts. I wanted to add spices to sweet potatoes this time in a more savory way. The blend that I created is nothing extraordinary, but it creates a wonderful combination of smoke, earthiness, and sweetness. The flavors are wonderful when mixed with the mellow sweetness of the potatoes. I added some bitter beet greens and sweet onions into the mixture as well. The simple blend of veggies is a wonderful meal on its own or can be served with a bread or grain of your choice.
I didn't create my own garam masala, but definitely do so if you're feeling up to the challenge. One of these days, I'd like to create my own spice blends. I've heard that fresh whole spices ground at home are the best. In addition to these spices tasting great, they also offer some wonderful medicinal properties (especially that turmeric). This mixture would also be a great breakfast to avoid any sugar crash during your day. Also, it would make a fabulous side dish for Thanksgiving. Just throwing that out there (it is next month, after all). Enjoy and feel good about it!
Spiced Sweet Potato and Greens
Yield: About 4 Servings
Free from: Gluten*, Soy, Nuts, Grains
Serve with bread or grain of choice, optional
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.
Happy Vegan MoFo, everyone! I'm proud to say that I'm participating again this year. I hope to contribute some solid recipes while following the prompts (somewhat, due to scheduling and general interest). I couldn't, however, ignore the first day! I love this idea: re-inventing a standard vegetarian option. All too often, as many vegans know, the "veggie option" consists of a boring salad and possibly french fries if you're feeling frisky (or a baked potato, you health nut).
When I first became a vegetarian in high school, the first meat product that I substituted was the burger. I wasn't a huge fan of burgers to begin with because I just wasn't too fond of beef in general. Luckily for me, veggie burgers were pretty easy to come by at the time (exactly 10 years ago). Today, I find top quality veggie burgers at my local super market. I usually look for burgers that are made with as many "whole food" ingredients as possible. The ones that are coming out lately are eerily similar to ground beef in taste and texture, which is exciting but also unsettling for someone who doesn't like the idea of eating meat. I just like that the products like the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Beef patties are marketing themselves towards all consumers, not just plant eating hippies like me! They offer a sound meat substitute for those who like the taste and feel of beef burgers. Whatever gets the job done, right?
The veggie burgers I whipped up today were a little bit of a mashup between "meaty" and "health food". I mimicked the texture of chewy and earthy meat with grated mushrooms and tempeh. The resulting burger is one of bite, chew, deep and smokey flavors with autumnal herbs laced through. This is a great fall treat, but you can switch the herbs around to be more bright and summer appropriate for the BBQ times! I nestled these burgers between some gluten-free and vegan buns that I found. They're quite pillowy and light, which I loved. Feel free to also garnish these with your favorite sliced vegetables, slaw, spreads, and what-have-yous. I kept it simple and seasonal with some local sliced tomato, red onion, sauteed spinach and some extra fresh rosemary.
This recipe yields about 5 decently sized burgers. I had lunch for the entire week when I made them! To make the burgers soy-free, substitute the tempeh for your favorite bean with slightly varied results. Play with it and make it yours!
Happy Mofo again, all! Dig in!
Herbed Mushroom & Tempeh Veggie Burgers
Yield: Approx. 5 burgers
Free from: Gluten, Nuts
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 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.