Category Archives: holiday

Enjoy the Winter Season With Chewy Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

Most of the gingerbread we ate during the holidays tended to be kind of dry and stale. This is a shame, because gingerbread cookies, cooked properly, are simply awesome.

We recently discovered a recipe for a chewy variety. They’re crisp on the outside, but melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside. We added vegan chocolate chips for an additional flavor sensation. You can bake these cookies without chocolate chips if you desire. They taste great either way.

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon flax seeds, soaked in 3 tablespoons water
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup gluten-free pastry flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (not the iodized variety)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup softened coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (for rolling)
3/4 cup unsweetened dark chocolate chips (optional — check label and make sure there is no dairy)

INSTRUCTIONS

Stir flax seeds and water together in a small bowl and let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes until the seeds swell and most of the liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, mix the two flours, spices, baking soda and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.

In a separate, larger bowl, stir together the molasses, coconut sugar, flax mixture, vanilla extract, grated ginger, and chocolate chips. Ladle the wet mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients, a little bit at a time. Your batter should be moist but not runny.

Place the bowl into the refrigerator and chill for about half an hour. Remove from refrigerator. One at a time, using a large spoon, scoop out dough pieces from the bowl’s interior. They should be about 1 1/2 teaspoons in diameter. Form each one into a loose ball. Sprinkle a layer of turbinado sugar on cutting board. Roll the dough balls around in the sugar until each one is thoroughly coated. Position them a couple of inches apart on a cookie sheet, greased with coconut oil or vegan butter (such as Earth Balance).

Place cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. The chilled dough will create a nice, crackly texture across the top of your cookies after you pop them into the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. Your cookies won’t get much bigger, so they won’t take long. Be careful not to burn them!

Makes about two dozen. Try to eat dinner before you dig into these cookies, so you won’t eat so many. They keep well, securely covered, for 4-5 days, but will be gone way before then. Enjoy!

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Gluten-Free, Apple Cupcakes Taste Divine With Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

You’re going to flip your lid when you bite into one of these moist, tasty apple cupcakes. They contain both applesauce and grated apples, so they’re ultra-dense and rich. Grocery stores carry a variety of different vegan cream cheese products, but our go-to favorite is Kite Hill. It’s a bit spendy compared to other brands, but worth every penny. These muffins are perfect for the holidays, since they contain cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Heavenly!

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS
2 cups gluten-free pastry flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup avocado oil
1 cup grated apple, lightly packed

FROSTING INGREDIENTS

8 ounces vegan cream cheese (such as Kite Hill)
3/4 cup organic powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger (try it fresh for a flavor kick!)
1/3 teaspoon powdered nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Stir them together thoroughly and set the bowl aside. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate, smaller bowl. Slowly pour them into the larger bowl with the dry ingredients, stirring until you’ve formed a nice batter. The texture should be smooth but not runny. Add the grated apple and stir for a little while longer.

Pour batter into cupcake tins. You can either place paper liners in the tin, or grease them with vegan butter or extra avocado oil. If you choose the latter option, don’t use too much oil, because these cupcakes will be dense and moist. Place the tin in the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and allow them to cool for approximately 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whip up the frosting by combining all ingredients and whisking them until they’re smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting along the top of each cupcake, swirling until the surface is smooth. If you can restrain yourself, allow the frosting to set for a few more minutes before you dig in.

Makes twelve cupcakes. Try to avoid eating them all at once. The cupcakes won’t rise much while baking, so they’ll be small. Yet they pack a wallop, so be careful! Needless to say, the addition of so much sugar means that these cupcakes are not a great diet food. But it’s the holiday season, so who cares? You can make your resolutions next year.

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Our Vegan, Gluten-Free Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie is a Winter Feast

Brrrrrr! It’s getting cold outside, and we’re craving comfort food! Shepherd’s Pie is an excellent meal for these chilly nights. It’s packed full of lentils and potatoes, combined with mushrooms and spinach, and served on top of gluten-free breadcrumbs. We made this hearty offering as a main dish for our recent Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s also perfect for the December holidays. You’ll feel pleasantly full in no time, ready to brave the cold winds.

INGREDIENTS

8 russet potatoes
2 tablespoons vegan butter or margarine, such as Earth Balance
1/2 cup rice milk
Sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cups cremini mushrooms, chopped
3 1/2 cups cooked lentils with a bit of leftover liquid
2 tablespoons dry red wine (optional)
1-2 tablespoons tamari (Don’t use soy sauce, as it contains wheat)
2 tablespoons seasoning blend (We used Bragg, with great results)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
fresh ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup spinach or arugula leaves
1 cup fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs
Dried oregano for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

Boil the potatoes until soft and remove the skins. Mash the potatoes in a large bowl with the rice milk and vegan butter or margarine. Cover your mixture and set aside.

Sauté the onions in olive oil in a medium-sized frying pan. Cast iron is best. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and mushrooms and continue sautéing until they are golden and the mushrooms are cooked through, but not mushy.

Add the lentils and their liquid and simmer. Stir in the optional wine, tamari, seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook for about five minutes on medium heat, then add cornstarch. Toss in spinach and cook until the leaves are just beginning to wilt. Continue stirring until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Scatter the breadcrumbs across the bottom of a two-quart baking dish. Ladle the lentil mixture inside, smoothing it to make sure the surface is even and free from lumps. Spread the potato mixture across the top and sprinkle with a bit of additional thyme and/or oregano.

Bake in a pre-heated, 400-degree oven for 30-35 minutes. The edges of the potato mixture should be browned and slightly crispy. Cut into wedges and serve! This dish is great with a salad or a variety of other holiday or non-holiday sides. Serves about 8 hungry guests. You can refrigerate any leftovers in a secure container for up to three days. Happy winter, and be sure to stay warm out there!

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Vegan, Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip/Hazelnut Cookies Are a Holiday Treat

Thanksgiving is barely behind us, and we’re already thinking about all the cookies we’re going to eat in December. Really, is it even the holiday season without cookies? It’s the time of year when you’re most tempted to stray from a vegan, gluten-free diet, because most of the offered desserts are packed with dairy and wheat. Still, there is no reason why you should miss out on the fun, just because you’re trying hard to be healthy. These cookies aren’t exactly a diet food, but they are vegan, gluten-free, and delicious!

INGREDIENTS

1 2/3 cups raw hazelnuts
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup gluten-free baking flour (we swear by Bob’s Red Mill)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
t teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup real maple syrup
3 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond or coconut
2 tablespoons coconut oil, warmed to room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cups dark, unsweetened chocolate chips (check label to make sure they don’t contain dairy products)

INSTRUCTIONS

Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan on your stovetop for about five minutes. Push them around a bit to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from burner and set aside to cool. Roll hazelnuts in your hands to remove as much of the skin as possible. It’s okay if some of the skin still remains.

Place the hazelnuts in a blender or food processor and pulse until the nuts become a fine meal. Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, stirring until they’re blended. Pour the dry ingredients into the blender or food processor and pulse together. Add the wet ingredients and continue blending.

The mixture will be quite thick, so add a bit more plant milk if necessary. When you’re finished blending, transfer the batter into a mixing bowl and add the chocolate chips. Chill the dough in your refrigerator for at least half an hour, grease a cookie sheet with some coconut oil, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the batter from the refrigerator and scoop dough with tablespoon, one mound at a time, onto the cookie sheet. These cookies don’t spread much, so don’t worry if they are close together. You can press down their surfaces with a fork to make a nice, textured effect. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned. Your kitchen will smell divine.

Makes about two dozen cookies. You can invite the whole gang over for a holiday treat, and they won’t have any trouble devouring every bite! Cookies keep well, covered, for 2-3 days, but are unlikely to last that long. Enjoy your holiday, no matter what you celebrate!

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Dried Cranberries and Hazelnuts For Your Holiday Feast

Many of us have unpleasant childhood memories of being forced to eat Brussels sprouts. Such a mindset is unfortunate because, cooked properly, this cruciferous vegetable is both tasty and nutritious. Many chefs are beginning to appreciate the flavor of the oft-maligned Brussels sprout, so the tide is slowly turning in its favor. Our delicious vegan, gluten-free recipe utilizes dried cranberries, orange zest and toasted hazelnuts to create a taste sensation. You’ll be proud to showcase this offering on your Thanksgiving table. It’s crunchy yet tender, with a hint of sweetness, and packed full of vitamins. The hazelnuts add a bit of protein to our elegant side dish. Yum!

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, with excess peels and stems removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup roasted, chopped hazelnuts
zest of one orange

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Wash the Brussels sprouts thoroughly, then cut them in half and chop off the stems. Arrange the Brussels sprouts on a cookie sheet or large rectangular pan and toss them with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Place the cookie sheet or pan in oven and roast for about 20 minutes. Flip the Brussels sprouts periodically with a spatula, then return the pan to the oven. They should achieve a lovely brown color.

Meanwhile, either roast the hazelnuts in your oven in a separate pan, or fry them on your stovetop in a small amount of olive oil. Do not burn them! Remove the hazelnuts from pan and crush them into coarse chunks. Grate the skin of one orange into a bowl to make zest. Toss the hazelnuts, orange zest, and dried cranberries in with the Brussels sprouts and combine everything thoroughly.

Return the pan to your oven and roast for another 5-10 minutes. The Brussels sprouts will achieve a dark brown hue and be slightly crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside. Remove your concoction from the oven and place the contents into a festive bowl. Give them another toss or two and serve!

This dish pairs well with just about anything you’d like to serve for a holiday meal — squash, pumpkin pie, lentil loaf, sweet potatoes, etc. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. It serves 4-6 guests, depending on everyone’s hunger level, and keeps well in the refrigerator for up to four days. Happy feasting, and enjoy your holiday, no matter what you celebrate.

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Three Delicious Vegan Wine and Beer Varieties For Your Winter Celebrations

The beginning of winter is often a time of celebration, as we chase away the gloom with eating, drinking, and socializing. Some of us opt for a more “hygge” approach and like to cuddle up by the fire alone, or with someone we love, wrapped in a cozy blanket. A good vegan beer or wine is perfect for either scenario.

two heartedMany people assume that all beer and wine is vegan, if they even give it a thought. They’re made from fermented grains or grapes, right? We were dismayed to discover that many companies utilize animal products in the manufacturing process. When drinks are filtered before bottling, they often use such substances as isinglass (made from fish bladders), gelatin, egg whites, and sea shells. Unfortunately, vegan beer and wine companies don’t label their products to show they’re safe for consumption by folks who eschew animal products. However, a quick perusal of the internet can help. If you need a few suggestions to help you get started, here’s a handy list.

Deschutes Brewery, www.deschutesbrewery.com. This Bend, Oregon-based brewery is almost completely vegan, with the exception of a few specialty brews. Its beer is available in 28 different states, so you should have an easy time finding it, especially if you live on the west coast. According to their FAQ section: “We do not use animal products in the cellaring or brewing process. The clarifying agent we use in our brewhouse is made from Irish Moss, a red algae. However, experimental beers brewed at our pubs sometimes use lactose, isinglass, honey or other specialty ingredients, but we call it out in the description listed on the menu.” Their popular Jubelale is great for your holiday festivities. Available from October through December, this robust, vegan brew boasts notes of cocoa, dried fruit, and toffee. You and your guests will love it!

Frey Winery, www.freywine.com. Mendocino-based Frey makes the claim of being “America’s first biodynamic winery.” They hold 90 percent of their land as a natural habitat for plants and animals. Since 1980, they have produced vegan, gluten-free wines with no added sulfites. Their 2015 Biodynamic Syrah utilizes the flavors of layered fig, anise, briar and bay leaf. It’s a delicious, elegant accompaniment to any holiday meal.

Bell’s Brewery, www.bellsbeer.com. The Kalamazoo-based brewery is constantly rolling out new varieties of beer, and almost all of them are vegan. Their popular Two-Hearted Ale is a smooth, vegan IPA, dark and not too hoppy. It’s available all year but is perfect for winter consumption. Brewed with 100 percent Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest and named after a river in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this brew never disappoints. You can enjoy it with almost every meal. Unfortunately, if you live west of the Mississippi, you’ll have a hard time locating it, and Michigan state law forbids shipping beer to other states. But it’s ubiquitous in the Midwest and East Coast, so check your favorite store or pub.

All of these offerings are available at stores. If you’re at your local supermarket and can’t find any of them, www.barnivore.com is a great resource for determining which alcoholic beverages are vegan. Just tap a product name into Barnivore’s handy search bar, and the site will let you know if it’s vegan-friendly. There are nearly 43,000 companies in their database. Enjoy responsibly!

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Get Into the Holiday Spirit With Cranberry-Applesauce Bread

cranberry bread

Nothing is more festive than cranberries, yet we often don’t use these tart little fruits for anything except sauce. (We’re going to assume that you eschew canned cranberries entirely. If not, we don’t want to know about it). When you finish making your own sauce from scratch, you often have a lot of berries left over. What to do?

After Thanksgiving ended, we found ourselves in such a predicament. Fortunately, we discovered this recipe, and it saved the day. The addition of applesauce adds sweetness, moisture and density. You’ll love it!

INGREDIENTS
2 ½ cups gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill has several varieties. We used white rice flour for this recipe).
1 cup turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons xanthum gum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon sea salt (not the commercial, iodized kind)
1 ½ cup applesauce (organic, please!)
½ cup melted coconut oil
½ cup coconut milk
1 cup fresh cranberries

OPTIONAL ADD-IN INGREDIENTS
½ cup chopped walnuts and/or pecans
¼ cup poppy seeds

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. When combined, add in the wet ingredients and stir thoroughly by hand or with a mixer. We used a large spoon and it worked fine. Stir in cranberries. The applesauce will bind the mixture together and give it a creamy yet solid texture. It should neither be stiff nor runny.

Grease one large or two small bread pans with coconut oil. Pour batter into pan (s) until about ¾ full. Because of the density of the applesauce, the bread will not rise much, so you needn’t worry about overflow. Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour. You can employ the time-tested fork or toothpick method in the center of the bread to see whether its done. Your kitchen will smell so wonderful, you might not ever want the baking to end. Be careful not to burn this bread!

Serve as is (scrumptious!) or with Earth Balance, organic preserves, vegan cream cheese (we love Kite Hill the most), etc. Be creative! Serves 8-10 hungry people. This bread won’t last! If you make two mini-loaves, you can always wrap one of them in festive paper, tie a ribbon around it, and give it as a gift to someone you love. Enjoy the bounty of the season, and happy holidays, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Solstice, or something else.

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Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls

It’s both easy to make, and colorful! Just the zest we need for these chilly, late-autumn evenings.

INGREDIENTS FOR SLAW
1 cup purple cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons and then cut into 1-2-inch strips
½ can black beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup chopped green onions
½ red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon olive oil
Pinches of salt and pepper

SALSA VERDE INGREDIENTS
¾ cup fresh salsa (hot or mild to taste)
1 avocado, diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1-2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

Slice medium-sized spaghetti squash in half (lengthwise) and coat inside with thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place squash halves upside down in medium-sized pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes at 400 degrees until pulp is soft. You should be able to insert a fork into it without difficulty.

Meanwhile, prepare the slaw in a large mixing bowl. You’ll be wowed by its beauty. After you have squeezed in the lime juice, set mixture aside to marinate.

Place avocado, salsa, garlic, cilantro and lime juice into blender or food processor and combine until your mixture is smooth and slightly frothy. Scoop the slaw into squash halves and fill to overflowing, then spoon a liberal dollop of salsa verde over the top. Finally, garnish your masterpiece with extra cilantro, salsa, toasted pepitas, or any other topping of your choice. Feel free to get creative!

This amazing creation serves 2-3 people, but feel free to double the recipe if you have more guests. Serve by itself (it’s filling!) or with wine, beer, cider and/or a side of gluten-free garlic bread. Of course, any leftovers will keep just fine in the refrigerator for several days. But they definitely won’t last that long.

Your friends will be begging you for the recipe, and you’ll want to make this meal again and again. With its vibrant, red and green hues, the dish is a great, festive lead-up to the holiday season.
Try it, we’re certain you’ll agree. Bon Appetit, and happy, stress-free holidays!

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Vegan and Gluten Free BBQ Tempeh Hoagies with Chipotle Mayo for Memorial Day

Memorial Day is almost here and one of our favorite cookbooks for festive food is Quick & Easy Vegan Celebrations by Alicia C. Simpson. To many, Memorial Day means gathering with friends and family to have time together, cherish the ones you love, and remember those who have served our country. Delicious food often plays a major role in these gatherings, and those who are vegan and gluten-free can still enjoy delicious food to mark the occasion.

Simpson’s cookbook offers recipes for all types of occasions and events, such as New Year’s Eve, the Superbowl and Valentine’s Day. We took today’s recipe from Simpson’s collection of recipes for Independence Day, and we think you’ll love it!

Vegan and Gluten Free BBQ Tempeh Hoagies with Chipotle Mayo

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 small white onion, sliced thin
1/2 medium bell pepper, thinly sliced (use any color you like, but certainly red is festive!)
One 8-ounce package gluten free tempeh (read the package, some do contain gluten)
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
4 gluten free hoagie rolls, split and toasted (there are several gluten free brands, such as Three Bakers and Udi’s, which are typically available at Whole Foods and other mass retailers, but if you have trouble finding them, your favorite gluten free bread will do just fine)

Chipotle Mayo

1/2 cup of your favorite vegan mayonnaise (we love Hampton Creek Just Mayo)
1 teaspoon vegan worcestershire sauce
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, with 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce reserved
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the canola oil. Add the bell pepper and the onion and cook for 1 minutes. Add the tempeh and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until the tempeh is warmed thoroughly.

While the tempeh is cooking, add all of the ingredients for the chipotle mayo into a food processor and process until smooth.

Stir the BBQ sauce into the tempeh and cook until warmed.

Spread the Chipotle Mayo on each side of the hoagie rolls, and spread the tempeh mixture on the hoagie.

Now you are set! Our favorite side to this dish? A cold green salad and crisp, hot french fries!

veganmemorialday

 

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