Vegan food recipes

Review: Vegan Recipes in 8 Ingredients or Less — Say Hello to The Vegan 8 Cookbook!

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There are so many plant-based and vegan cookbooks coming out now! It’s exciting, because it means more people are taking an interest in the benefits and possibilities of this way of eating, but it can also be overwhelming. I stopped trying to keep up a long time ago, and I’m sure I’ve missed some good ones that I’ll need to hunt down. But when I heard Brandi Doming of The Vegan 8 was coming out with her own book, I know that was one I had to get my hands on.

The publisher was kind enough to send me a copy to review, which was perhaps not necessarily a good thing for my bookshelves, where books are already sitting two deep in places, but it was certainly a good thing for my kitchen. I’m in a life stage right now where my budget is limited, my schedule is crazy and, as much as I love seeking out new ingredients, it’s generally easier to cook with whatever I already have on hand.

Sound familiar? Then The Vegan 8 is for you.

Vegan Cooking for Everyonevegan 8 cookbook review cover

Brandi Doming started The Vegan 8 in 2013 after being fully vegan for about a year. The transition from an upbringing steeped in traditional Texas fare was sparked by her husband’s struggle with gout — and the change was dramatic. Already a fan of creating recipes, Brandi stepped into the role of vegan blogger and inadvertently created one of the most popular vegan recipe repositories on the web.

The Vegan 8 was written with the same premise as the blog: easy, delicious recipes using eight ingredients or less (salt, pepper and water excluded). We all have time for eight ingredients, right? With recipes that short and to the point, anyone can have dinner on the table in the same amount of time as calling for takeout, waiting for it to be ready and going to pick it up if it can’t be delivered. And the end result is, of course, much healthier.

With 100 recipes (10 from the blog and 90 brand new) for meals, snacks, desserts, sides, appetizers, dips, sauces and more, this cookbook can easily become a dog-eared favorite smeared with the delicious fruits of your labor. Because you know it’s absolutely necessary to christen a cookbook by spilling something on it while you’re cooking. Or is that just me? Anyway…

Straightforward, Simple and Tasty

Since every recipe has only 8 ingredients, it’s pretty easy to find everything you need to make Doming’s tasty creations. The book begins with a typical “here’s what’s in my vegan kitchen” list, which functions as a quick way to check how much you already have and what you might need to buy. There are only a few ingredients I wouldn’t consider typical or everyday, but nothing you have to go out of your way to find.

Two items I don’t keep in my kitchen but that make repeated appearances are cashew butter (and raw cashews) and lite coconut milk. Both function to add creaminess to the recipes, so they’re worth investing in. If the thought of buying prepared cashew butter makes your bank account scream, you can hunt down low-priced cashews in bulk and make your own using the recipe in the “Staples” section near the back of the book. (Also included there are incredibly easy DIY versions of things like pizza/pasta sauce, barbecue sauce and spice blends!)

By using a collection of recognizable ingredients, Doming has created a book with appeal for plant-based foodies, beginners and their non-vegan friends and family. It has just about everything you’d expect in a vegan cookbook, including:

  • Pancakes (even chocolate ones!)
  • Muffins
  • Baked oatmeal
  • Loaded potato skins
  • Breakfast hash
  • Energy balls
  • Granola
  • Alfredo
  • Beanballs
  • Bowls

Sprinkled in here and there are unique and inventive offerings, including a recipe for vegan caramel (Stop drooling in your keyboard! I see you!), “leveled-up” versions of staples like pasta with red sauce and new spins on favorite party dips. If you’re into dessert but not so into gluten, most of Doming’s desserts either are gluten free or have gluten-free options.

Usually when I write reviews, this is the place where I talk about the recipes that really stood out to me and that I’d like to make ASAP. One problem (totally in favor of this book): There are so many amazing ones, I can’t pick just a few. Simply flipping through the book makes my brain start to spin with happy anticipation, especially with the holiday baking season coming.

This is also the place where I post pictures of what I’ve already tried. And I have to be honest, I can’t. I blame my taste buds. I did put together the quick and absolutely fabulous “honey” mustard from the sauce section, but it was so good I didn’t get a picture before eating the majority of it as a dressing for my daily salad. That in and of itself should be an indication of how amazing this book is.

Here’s Why Your Stomach (and the Rest of You) Should Love the Vegan 8 Cookbook

With its simple premise, beautiful pictures, accessible ingredient lists and unique recipes sure to please both vegans and omnis, it’s hard to come up with a reason not to like The Vegan 8. But for those of you who prefer lists for comparison, here are my favorite things about the book:

  • The chapter breakdowns. Doming divides the book into chapters dedicated to meals and types of dishes yet manages to avoid falling into a predictable pattern of recipes. The result is a creative, refreshing presentation with a lot of surprises.
  • Distinctive recipes. No tofu scramble here! And the 8-ingredient blueprint gives other common dishes, like mac and “cheese,”  a makeover to be more approachable.
  • Oil-free. Most, if not all, of the recipes use plant-based fats from sources other than extracted oils without sacrificing rich or creamy textures.
  • The “Staples” chapter. I’m a sucker for a good sauce and am always a bit annoyed when I want to whip something up only to find the recipe just for the sauce is going to take all day. I’m also wary of pre-prepared sauces because they usually have sugar, oil or too much salt. Eight ingredients to the rescue!
  • The desserts. I’m not much of a dessert person. (Ask me about the Christmas cookies still in my freezer from last year.) But I’m always on the lookout for something delicious to make and bring to the monthly potluck at my church. I have a feeling I’ll be cooking a lot from this chapter in the coming months!

My verdict on The Vegan 8 is it’s a refreshing contribution to the growing library of vegan cookbooks available. If you’ve been looking for a book to help you get started with simple vegan meals or a collection of recipes you can make any time even if your schedule is absolutely insane, go grab yourself a copy.

In case you need more convincing, here’s one of those amazing dessert recipes, which I should probably run off and make before I eat my laptop in anticipation…

Follow Brandi Doming on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for more! (Warning: Her IG account is dangerous…in a delicious, delicious way…)


Chocolate–Peanut Butter Candy Bites

By Brandi Doming, from The Vegan 8

Photographer: Jennifer Causey, Prop Stylist: Christine Keely, Food Stylist: Anna Hampton

My favorite candy bar growing up was Butterfinger. I swear, I could eat those back to back. These bites have the same flavors of the classic candy bar but are so much better. Instead of the outside being the chocolate coating with the crunchy sweet interior, I reversed them and also made them into bites. Man, they are delicious and a favorite among my taste testers! If you can’t find salted peanuts, then add a pinch of salt.

Prep: 20 minutes

chill: 20 minutes

Yields: 8 balls

  • 1⁄2 cup (128g) smooth peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons (18g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons (60g) pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon (2g) fine salt
  • 1⁄2 cup (80g) roasted, salted peanuts
  • 1⁄4 cup (40g) coconut sugar
  • 3.5 ounces (100g) 70 to 72% dark chocolate chips or bar, finely chopped
  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Add the peanut butter, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla, and sea salt to a bowl, and stir until it comes together into a thick batter and is completely smooth. Roll about a heaping tablespoon of the dough into small balls, creating 8 balls total. Place the balls on the prepared pan.
  3. To prepare the coating, add the roasted peanuts and coconut sugar to a food processor, and process until the mixture is in very small pieces but not as superfine as a flour consistency. Add this mixture to a wide, shallow bowl. Set aside.
  4. Add the chopped chocolate to another small microwave-safe bowl. Melt in the microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds or in a double boiler. If microwaving, stir, and then heat in 10- to 15-second intervals until the chocolate is almost all melted. Be careful not to let it burn. Stir the chocolate until it is completely melted and smooth.
  5. Place 1 ball into the melted chocolate and use a fork to rotate and coat it completely. Tap the fork gently on the side of the bowl, letting the excess chocolate drip off. Immediately place the ball into the peanut coating mixture and rotate it multiple times with the fork until coated well. Place the ball back on the pan and repeat with the remaining balls.
  6. Place the pan in the fridge to set for about 20 minutes. Store the balls in the fridge to retain their shape. They can be set out at room temperature after they’re fully set for parties, but they will become softer and less crispy as time passes

Nutrition per ball: 260 calories | 23.2g fat | 8.7g fat | 26.3g carbs | 4g fiber | 19g sugar | 209mg sodium

Tip

Be sure to use a peanut butter without added oil or sugar. To make these nut free, sub the peanut butter with sunflower seed butter, if you don’t mind having that as a strong taste in these bites. With this sub, the batter may be a tad more wet and may need to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes before adding the chocolate.

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Top 10 GreenGut Wellness Recipes of 2016 & Sneak Peeks for the New Year!

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It’s been a big year here at GreenGut Wellness, and, as has become my habit, it’s time to look back on the best of the year!

The biggest news, of course, was changing over from Quantum Vegan to GreenGut Wellness. I knew it was time to narrow the focus of my wellness consulting services, so after a lot of research, planning and prayer, I launched under the GGW banner in October. Having suffered from a chronic digestive condition for many years and seeing it improve greatly after adopting a plant-based diet, I’ve become very interested in the “ecosystem” of microbes living in the human gut. Interest is exploding in the scientific community, too, so there’s a lot of fascinating research and some fantastic books to read. There’s even a Microbiome journal!

Gut health really is the key to overall health (more on that later), and your digestive system is at its best when you eat — you guessed it — a lot of plants. My recipe collection can help you do that — and you’ve all been enjoying some tasty selections from the list this year. Thank you! Your interest in eating more vegan meals made these ten recipes the most popular on the blog for 2016.

Top Plant-Based Recipes of 2016

Remember if you make these (or any other recipe from the GGW archives) to tag your Instagram posts with #greengutwellness or give me a shout at @green_gut so that I can see your creations!

What’s New with GreenGut Wellness in 2017?

I love sharing the plant-based life with you. For me, diet and lifestyle changes have meant moving toward greater health over the course of many years — giving up self-destructive habits, poor food choices and unsustainable exercise regimens in favor of a balanced approach to workouts and a whole, plant-based way of eating with a little wiggle room for my own psychological health. I still stumble and struggle, but that’s all part of the journey, right?

In 2017, I want to help you take control of your health. That’s why I started Quantum Vegan and re-imagined it as GreenGut Wellness. As much of a sucker as I am for the science, what I really want to do is help people. We all have so much stuff we’re dealing with, and everybody needs somebody to guide them in the toughest things. And let’s face it, making diet and lifestyle changes is hard, no matter how dedicated you are. It means reversing a lifetime of bad habits and rethinking the way you approach some of the most basic parts of daily life. But the changes are worth it. The road may be a little rocky at the start, but navigating the bumps pays off when you start to see and feel improvements in your health.

With this in mind, I’m offering two ways to help you get started and stick with a journey toward better health this year. The first one is going on right now with a range of fun health tip sheets to power up your daily diet. From now until January 6th, all sheets are on sale for only $2.50 (they’re usually $3), no code required. That gives you you plenty of time to load up on tips for making salads, crafting the perfect smoothie, batch cooking and more. All sheets are delivered in PDF format after purchase, so you can print them out and stick them up on the fridge to help with meal planning or carry them around on your mobile device to give you guidance when eating out.

The second is a little more comprehensive and designed to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions when you start to feel like giving up. It’s normal to hit a patch somewhere in mid-January when you wonder why you bogged yourself down with such huge expectations for change and are ready to throw in the towel. So from January 14th through January 20th, I’m starting a Resolution Revolution. Using the code RESOLUTION10 gets you 10% off any wellness consulting package:

Every package includes a detailed health history so that I know exactly what you’re dealing with and can tailor services to meet your specific needs. You get phone, email and text support to ask questions, educational handouts for additional guidance, relevant recipes and more to help cultivate ongoing diet and lifestyle changes — and to empower you to take care of you own health for years to come. I can work with your doctor to address more complex issues by looking at blood work and suggesting additional tests. And it doesn’t matter where you are — all services can be conducted via phone or Google Hangouts.

No more sifting through endless lists of what to eat and what not to eat, trying to decipher the truth in the midst of the hype. You don’t have to try and go it alone this year. I want to show you how proper planning, personal accountability and individualized nutrient support can create a sustainable diet and lifestyle plan you can follow indefinitely. So whether you’re looking to eat more plants, get rid of stress, cook more variety or kick a sugar habit, I’m here to help you do it.

You can find all of this in the GreenGut Wellness shop. It’s a one-stop marketplace for every handout and service I offer. More details are also available on my services page.


I don’t usually do New Year’s resolutions for myself, but I do have one big dream for 2017. I’d love to write a cookbook! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I’ve been saving up some interesting new recipes to put together into something that’s a bit different than the other (very lovely) plant-based cookbooks out there now. Most of all, I want to spend the year going where the Lord leads me in my personal and business life, helping as many people as possible along the way.

What are your plans for 2017? Share in the comments! And don’t forget to subscribe to the GreenGut Wellness mailing list for updates, sales, news and recipes throughout the year.

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. ~ Proverbs 16:9

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Have a Peaceful Plant-Based Holiday: 2016 Christmas Recipe Roundup!

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Can you believe Christmas is less than a week away? Time flies around the holidays. Preparing for the arrival of family and friends, grabbing last-minute gifts, heading to parties and trying to squeeze in sleep can make planning food for the actual day seem like an insurmountable task.

But let’s face it: food is part of the holiday fun! There’s nothing like throwing together a special dish and filling the house with the smell of cookies baking. The best part is settling down to enjoy the fruits of all that labor with the people you love.

In the spirit of holiday food sharing (and because it’s all so darn fun to make), I’ve rounded up recipes for every meal, plus desserts, snacks and drinks to make your Christmas a little merrier. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Breakfast

plant-based oat almond muffinsBreads& Muffins

Mains

Sides

pinwheel cookies christmasCookies

Even though I’ve already done a vegan Christmas cookie roundup and shared recipes in my cookie Q&A, there are still plenty of delicious holiday treats to try.

Other Desserts

Snacks

christmas tree closeupDrinks

And of course, there are always cookbooks for recipe inspiration. Check out my reviews of Zel Allen’s Vegan for the Holidays and Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings by Lindsay S. Nixon, two small but extensive volumes packed with holiday goodness.


In the midst of a busy season, I’d like invite you to take a moment to reflect on the true focus of Christmas. The story of Christ’s birth is familiar to most, and nativity scenes pop up everywhere this time of year, but it seems rare to consciously take a step back, pause and really think about the impact the event had on all of humanity. When Jesus Christ came into the world, angels praised God, saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Though the world didn’t yet know this tiny baby was the Savior of all who would put their trust in Him, shepherds rejoiced at His coming, wise men brought gifts and powerful men feared Him.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. — Isaiah 9:2

Christmas is more than the story of a baby born to a young virgin in a stable in Bethlehem. It’s the celebration of the reality that God Himself stepped down from the glory of Heaven into time to save the world from the darkness of sin, setting mankind free for all time from the curse that started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. ~ Galatians 4:4-5, KJV

Because of Christ, we have the chance to enter into an intimate relationship with the God who created everything and who sustains us day by day. Christmas is a shining ray of hope for all those yearning to be free from sin, for all those who are tired of trying to be good enough and never quite making it. Because of Christmas — and the sacrifice Christ later made on the cross — nobody has to stay in that place. We all have access to peace with God if we only put our trust in the One who came as a tiny baby, leaving behind the glory and majesty of heaven to take on human flesh and do what no one but the Son of God could: be the Savior of the World.

Merry Christmas!

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Peanut Blossom Bites — Plant-Based Christmas Cookie Makeover!

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I’ll admit it: when I was a kid, I snacked on cookies. My family was big on homemade baked goods, and I was kind of in love with Oreos. I would come in from playing in the snow and have a few Christmas cookies with hot chocolate or munch my way through the classic cookies and milk after school. And, of course, cookies were always a good option for dessert.

peanuts in a dish

Not unusual, right? But not the best idea when you’re trying to follow a healthy diet. That’s what inspired me to create Peanut Blossom Bites.

I may have mentioned before that I eat a lot. Currently I’m about ten pounds below what I consider to be an ideal and healthy weight for my height, which calls for a consistent strength training program and a high caloric intake. That means eating six times a day to spread out my calories in a way my digestive system is comfortable with.

Am I complaining? Nope. I love food, and I love eating. But snacks can get a little boring if I don’t make an effort to mix things up now and then. Sometimes the kid in me just plain wants to eat junk. What to do? Make something healthy that zings all the same “junk food” pathways as the cookie snacks of days gone by!

Inspired by classic peanut blossoms, these 100% healthy snack balls have it all: oats, peanuts, peanut butter, dates and chocolate. All you need is a food processor and about 15 minutes to make a batch of “cookies” you can happily snack on any time. With only three steps, it’s probably the easiest cookie recipe you’ll make all season. No more scrambling to bake something for a potluck — although it’s tempting to keep them all for yourself.

drinking cocoa for ChristmasAs I mentioned in my Cookie Q & A, these wound up tasting remarkably like Reese Puffs cereal. I think it’s because I used the Trader Joe’s peanut butter made with Valencia peanuts. I’d never tried it before — and didn’t even know what a Valencia peanut was — but wound up with a jar when my amazing landlady offered to pick up groceries for me while she was at TJ’s recently. Since I neglected to specify which peanut butter I usually get beyond “unsalted creamy,” she naturally assumed I was a fan of organic and picked up that variety.

I’m glad she did. The peanuts have a slight sweetness, making it perfect for recipes like this. (The linked article references the salted variety, but the flavor profile is the same.) The majority of Valencia peanuts in the U.S. are apparently grown in West Texas and New Mexico and are common in roasted peanut butter. Who knows, I may have tasted them before and never known it! But their particular sweetness is why I recommend Valencia for the bites. Regular unsalted creamy peanut butter also works, but I’d imagine the flavor would be a little deeper.

Peanut Blossom Bites
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Peanut blossoms are a Christmas classic, but they're not exactly healthy. These plant-based bites are the perfect snack when you want that traditional cookie taste without added oil or sugar.
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 20 bites
Ingredients
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates
  • ¼ cup natural unsalted creamy peanut butter (I used Trader Joe's organic with Valencia peanuts)
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp raw cocoa powder (can substitute regular or Dutch processed)
Instructions
  1. Place the oats and nuts in high-speed food processor, and process until chunky and well-combined.
  2. Add the dates, peanut butter and vanilla. Process until a sticky "dough" forms. (Add more dates or peanut butter if it's stubborn about sticking together.)
  3. Form into balls, rolling each in raw cocoa powder to coat.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
So go ahead, be a kid again and snack on cookies. I’m not judging!

vegan peanut blossom bites

If you make this recipe, tag @green_gut on Instagram so I can see your photos!

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Cookie Q&A: Your Guide to Plant-Based Cookie Success

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Christmas time is cookie time. It doesn’t matter if you’re a staunch believer in the oil-free lifestyle or a lover of all things sweet and sticky — the Christmas season just wouldn’t be complete without a few batches of your old favorites. So grab your cookie sheets, break out the mixing bowls and let’s get started!

Recipes for a Sweeter Holiday

Last year, I rounded up over a dozen cookie recipes ranging from traditional buttery, sugary treats to raw makeovers of the classics. This year’s list is a little shorter and includes a couple of repeats simply because they’re so darn iconic. These five recipes are great for inspiration, and they’re simple enough to tackle even if you’re not terribly familiar with vegan cookie baking:

For those of you who are ready to dive head-first into holiday cookie madness, Pretty Bee has a roundup of 50 — yes, 50 — recipes for you to bake your way through. But you don’t have to try them all. Unless you want to. (If you do, you’re inviting me over, right?)

On the other hand, if you want cookies you can snack on without sending yourself through the roof from the sugar rush, keep an eye out for my healthy-but-tastes-totally-like-candy peanut blossom cookie bite recipe. Believe it or not, they taste exactly like Reese’s Puffs cereal without a single trace of hydrogenated oil, refined sugar, artificial coloring or preservatives. I’ll be posting it in time for the holiday!

Tips for Plant-Based Cookie Successmaking gingerbread cookies

Now that you’ve got the recipes, it’s time for a cookie-baking reality check. I’ve been baking since I was tall enough to see over the counter (okay, my mom did the baking then — I just dumped things in the bowl and went crazy with sprinkles). Even with all that experience and a lot of trial and error since going vegan, there are still times when my baked goods are less than perfect.

Alas, baking is much less forgiving than cooking. Cooking gives you a little wiggle room, and you can generally salvage a “bad” dish with a little creative seasoning. Baking oscillates between demanding precision and not caring what the heck you do. In light of this highly fickle nature, I present to you a few tips for making your holiday cookie baking go more smoothly whether you’re a seasoned vegan cookie connoisseur or new to the world of plant-based desserts.

  • Use smart oil substitutions. I’ve learned from experience that cookies need fat to get the proper chewy or crunchy texture. Standard oil-free substitutions like mashed banana or applesauce result in cake-like finished products, so you’re better off swapping fat for fat using coconut butter or the nut or seed butter of your choice. Dreena Burton has a great primer on this over at Plant-Powered Kitchen, and her suggestions have worked quite well for me!
  • If you use oils, choose wisely. Look for non-hydrogenated options for vegan butter and shortening, such as the Earth Balance and Spectrum brands. In recipes calling for canola oil, either substitute vegan butter or choose a cold-pressed organic brand.
  • For completely oil-free baking, try nonstick mats. Silpat, Silchef and other brands offer silicone baking mats that eliminate the need for greasing cookie sheets and make cleanup easier. If you can’t find nonstick mats, grab a roll of parchment paper instead.
  • Opt for unsweetened, unflavored plant milks. Non-dairy milk can be used cup-for-cup in place of dairy milk, and avoiding sweeteners and flavorings preserves the taste of the cookies. But if you’re feeling adventurous, vanilla, chocolate and “eggnog” flavors can be fun to play with.
  • Need buttermilk? Add one teaspoon of cider vinegar per cup of milk and let it sit for about ten minutes to “curdle.” Ta-da! Vegan buttermilk!
  • Go natural with decorations. Standard food colorings and sprinkles can contain non-vegan ingredients and are almost always artificial. Keep your cookies chemical-free by using products made with vegetable or fruit ingredients from companies like India Tree and Sprinklez.

What if you’re diligent, do everything you should and your cookies still flop? Never fear! There are plenty of ways to “recycle” a less-than-perfect batch:

  • Pulse in the food processor and use them to make a crumb crust or topping for pies and cakes
  • Crumble on top of a bowl of nondairy ice cream
  • Break into chunks and add to a vegan milkshake
  • Invite friends over to help you “dispose” of unattractive cookies
  • Feed the birds in your yard (as long as the cookies aren’t too sweet)

Mittened hands holding hot coffeeWhat’s a Cookie Without a Warm Drink?

I have fond childhood memories of coming indoors after many hours of playing in the snow to sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and my favorite Christmas cookies. It wasn’t exactly the healthiest habit, but I don’t let that put a damper on my nostalgia. In fact, it makes me want to find ways to recreate those memories that don’t sacrifice any of the flavor but are more in line with the way I approach my diet now.

Enjoy your own little trip back in time by pairing your cookies with one of these warming beverages:

  • Luxurious Dairy-Free Hot Cocoa — My absolute favorite from Oh She Glows. She’s not kidding when she calls it luxurious; cashews make it decadent and creamy!
  • Mulled Cider — A classic with step-by-step instructions and pictures courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.
  • Hot Apple Cider with Superfood Power — Healthful Pursuit gives mulled cider a nutritious boost.
  • Vegan Chai Latte — Make this delicious drink at home with simple instructions from The Blenderist.
  • Vegan Peppermint Mocha — Vegnosity’s recipe for this drink is so easy, it’s like having a coffee shop in your kitchen.

Lattes and other drinks can be a bit challenging to recreate at home because non-dairy milks tend to be stubborn about foaming. Hence why I was happily surprised to discover a local cafe using a strange and wonderful product in their drinks — “Barista Series” almond milk from the Pacific brand. I had no idea such a thing existed, but apparently it’s formulated to behave the way milk should when it encounters the foam arm on an espresso machine. I haven’t tried it when making my own drinks, but if you have a way to foam milk at home, I’d say give it a shot (pun intended).

Baking cookies is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s even better when you bake big batches to give as gifts or share at parties with family and friends. For me, family time is a big part of the holiday season, and Christmas is the most special day of all. Getting in the kitchen and whipping up a batch of sweet homemade nostalgia offers a way to step back from the commercial craziness and reflect on what the holiday is really about and how the birth of the Savior of the world in a stable in Bethlehem changed the course of history for all mankind.

Warm cookies (and drinks) just make it that much nicer. Merry Christmas!

Have you started your holiday baking yet? What traditions do you have in your family? Are you cookie fans, or do you prefer other seasonal sweets?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

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Plan a Perfectly Plant-Based Thanksgiving — 2016 Recipe Roundup!

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Let us come before [God’s] presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. ~ Psalm 95:2

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone! I hope those of you in Canada enjoyed your October celebration and are prepared to bear with the Americans who haven’t yet gobbled our way through the holiday menu.

Speaking of, who says holidays have to feature traditional dishes? Every year around this time, I see ads for sales on scores of turkey alternatives. These are great options for helping new vegans transition away from meat or to satisfy a mixed vegan and omni crowd without compromising on the inclusion of animal products, but overall I think vegan “turkey” sells the plant-based community short. Plant-based food offers such a wide variety of options for any holiday (Isa’s New Book being a perfect example) that it seems to me there’s no reason to rely on prepackaged substitutions.

With that in mind, I’ve rounded up a collection of traditional and not-so-traditional recipes to grace your Thanksgiving table. From stuffing and stuffed squash to chili and cake, there’s something to satisfy everyone — with no un-turkey in sight!

Salads

autumn-tableau-by-petite-roux-freeimages

petite-roux/FreeImages

Sides

And then, of course, there’s stuffing. But why settle on just one when One Green Planet has 15?

Main Dishes

pumpkins-by-linder6580

linder6580/FreeImages

I couldn’t resist including this One Green Planet roundup, too, mainly because it contains an ingenious recipe for cauliflower pot roast!

Desserts & Snacks

Beverages

If you’re in the mood for a simple cup of tea, both Learning Herbs and The Kitchn can get you started with homemade chai.


Is this your first vegan Thanksgiving? No worries. Check out my guide to navigating the holidays!

Looking for more recipes? Take a look at last year’s roundup.

happy-thanksgiving-base-by-alya87-free-images

Alya87/FreeImages

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

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Guest Recipe: Lee’s Favorite Breakfast Smoothie

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Smoothies are fantastic for summer! The weather here in upstate NY hasn’t quite made up its mind as to what kind of summer it wants to be, but during the blazing hot stretches, I find myself craving something cool.

Smoothies are the perfect way to satisfy that craving! Thick, creamy and versatile, smoothies are the healthy plant-based answer to milkshakes. They’re great for hot mornings when you don’t want a heavy breakfast, or you can take one along to the gym to fuel up after a tough workout.

Today’s decadent smoothie recipe comes from Lee Kaplan, currently from upstate NY but self-described as being “from all over;” she’s lived in 28 different places in her life! She was inspired to go vegan just about three years ago. When she’s not experimenting in the kitchen, she likes to read, listen to music and tidy up around the house. Be sure to try her Kale-Inspired Slow Cooker Greens & Beans, too!

My morning smoothies are very convenient. Not only are they quick, but they’re also portable. By that, I mean I can prepare lunch while I’m sipping on my smoothie. Because it’s thicker than juice, it makes swallowing pills easier (never easy for me).

lees vegan smothie

About swallowing pills, I learned a little trick while interning as a respiratory therapist two decades ago. We watched a film called Follow the Swallow (no, I’m not making that up). Most people toss their heads back when taking pills. This actually makes the “tunnel” tighter. Instead, lower your head like you’re drinking through a straw or at a water fountain. This opens your throat to give the pills more room to flow.

Okay, back to the smoothie.

vegan smoothie ingredients

When I’m running short on time, I put my “flavor” ingredients in the blender first (wet and dry), then add almond milk to the two-cup line, and blend away. Start slow, increasing the power until everything is well-blended. I’ve found this amount usually fills a tall glass perfectly. (QV note: A large to-go bottle is great for taking smoothies on the road!)

bananas for vegan smoothie

Clean up is a snap! Put a squirt of dish soap into the blender and add water to about halfway. Put on the lid, and make a “soapy milkshake” using the high speed setting. Pour out and rinse until clean. That’s it!

Lee's Favorite Breakfast Smoothie
 
Prep time
Total time
 
This thick and creamy smoothie is just decadent enough to taste like dessert -- but healthy enough to enjoy for breakfast or as a snack to go!
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1 smoothie
Ingredients
  • ½ of a large banana
  • ½ of an average avocado or ½ cup cooked white beans
  • 1 cup minced fresh spinach
  • 1 Tbsp sugar-free, salt-free powdered peanut butter
  • 1 scoop chocolate vegan protein powder (QV note: try PureFood!)
  • Brewed coffee or hazelnut syrup, to taste
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Almond milk as needed
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients except for the almond milk in a blender.
  2. Add almond milk until the liquid hits the 2-cup mark.
  3. Blend until smooth and enjoy right away, or stick it in a to-go cup and bring it along as you tackle the day!
Notes
You can substitute ½ Tbsp natural peanut butter for the powdered peanut butter.
Replace the avocado with ½ cup drained and rinsed white beans (or home-cooked) for less fat and more protein.
 

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