Week 2: Vegan Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Glaze – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

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Week 2 is here and it’s time to take on sweet potatoes, but first, a confession… sweet potatoes aren’t my jam! I have a crazy-obsessive love for normal potatoes but that love never extended to the potatoes cousin, the sweet potato. I am well aware however, that no Thanksgiving feast is complete without ’em, and so, I knew that I needed some kind of sweet potato recipe in my Thanksgiving series!

Now, growing up, there was always a small dish of mashed sweet potatoes on our Thanksgiving table. (The dish was small because my mom was the only one who enjoyed eating them.) On top of the dish, a thick, toasted, gooey layer of mini marshmallows created a blanket that I wished I could have been under. I always thought to myself though, why do we need two mashed things? That was the starting point for this recipe.

These little babies are roasted which gives them a great texture. They are also coated not once but twice in a cinnamon glaze which has just the right amount of sweetness but is still savory and full-flavored. Right before serving, I like to add in some dried cranberries for a tart, chewy element, and a little more color, as well as some pecan halves for a little bitter, nutty crunch -but of course, each these are totally optional. Whether you choose to fancy ’em up with toppings or not, I’m sure you’ll find that this recipe is quite delicious and perfectly suited to replace any ol’ mashed sweet potato recipe that normally adorns your table. And dare I say, I may actually have enjoyed these… #ConvertInTheMaking

It all gets started with the making of the cinnamon glaze! In a large bowl, maple syrup gets combined with some melted vegan “butter,” olive oil, cinnamon, dried thyme, low-sodium tamari, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. The whole mixture gets a good whisking and then it gets set aside for a moment while the sweet potatoes are being prepped.

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4 medium size sweet potatoes get washed up well then completely peeled and cut into pieces that are about 1-inch square.

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Once all of the sweet potatoes have been cut up, dump them into the bowl with the glaze in it. Fold/stir everything around so that each piece gets coated with the glaze. Using a slotted spoon so as to not remove any glaze which remains at the bottom of the bowl, scoop out the sweet potatoes and transfer them to a large sheet pan lined in parchment paper. (Make sure they are flat on the pan in a single layer and not all bunched up or piled onto each other.) Reserve the glaze that remains at the bottom of the bowl once all of the sweet potatoes have been scooped out -it will be added to the sweet potatoes after they’ve cooked a little. Pop the sheet pan into a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.

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After 25 minutes, pull the pan from the oven and gently flip around the sweet potatoes to ensure even cooking. With what you reserved earlier, glaze the sweet potatoes again by simply pouring the glaze over them evenly. Return the pan to the oven and bake for a final 20 minutes or until fork tender.

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To serve, transfer the sweet potatoes to a bowl or dish and top with a sprinkling of dried cranberries and pecan halves (optional).

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Vegan Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Glaze

  • Servings: 6-8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 generous tablespoons vegan “butter,” melted
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 generous teaspoon dried thyme, crushed in palm of hand
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Dried cranberries, to taste (optional)
  • Pecan halves, to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a large sheet pan by lining it in parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the maple syrup with the “butter,” olive oil, cinnamon, dried thyme, tamari, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk this mixture well then set aside. Prep sweet potatoes, if you haven’t done so already, by washing them, peeling them, and then cutting them down into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Toss sweet potato pieces into the bowl with the glaze and stir/fold everything around so that each piece gets coated with the glaze. Using a slotted spoon so as to not remove any glaze which remains at the bottom of the bowl, scoop out the sweet potatoes and transfer them to the sheet pan you prepped a moment ago. (Make sure they are flat on the pan in a single layer and not all bunched up or piled onto each other.) Reserve the glaze that remains at the bottom of the bowl once all of the sweet potatoes have been scooped out -it will be added to the sweet potatoes after they’ve cooked a little. Pop the sheet pan into your preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. After 25 minutes, pull the pan from the oven and gently flip around the sweet potatoes to ensure even cooking. Pour the glaze you reserved earlier over the sweet potatoes evenly then return the pan to the oven and bake for a final 20 minutes or until fork tender. To serve, transfer the sweet potatoes to a bowl or dish and top with a sprinkling of dried cranberries and pecan halves (optional). Leftover sweet potatoes will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

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Week 1: Vegan Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy, and Vegan “Turkey” – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

Week 1 of my Thanksgiving series is here y’all and this week I’m talkin’ “turkey,” tackling the gravy of your (vegan) Thanksgiving dreams, and fancying up some mashed potatoes! Remember, if you make any or all of the recipes in this series for your Thanksgiving gathering, use #aCITSIthanksgiving if you post a pic on social media! Now, let’s get started with the “turkey!”

When it comes to the “turkey” on my Thanksgiving table, I trust other folks to make it for me! Yup, that’s right, I do not make my own vegan “turkey” substitute! Instead I go with Gardein’s Turk’y Cutlets! These things are flavorful, crunchy on the outside, have a really great “meaty” texture, and yes, they taste just like the real thing. I suggest you account for 1-2 cutlets per person at your Thanksgiving table. Most people will likely only eat 1, because their plates are going to be filled with lots of other yummy stuff too, but people with bigger appetites or those who eat less sides might want 2. The cutlets come 4 to a bag and I pay about $4 a bag at my local WF.

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So Gardein recommends that you bake the cutlets and I do too if you need to make more than 2 or 3 bags worth but, if you’re only making a couple bags, I suggest you fry them! Shallow frying them in a large skillet will give them even more crispy crunch and flavor, and it just takes about 3-5 minutes per side over medium heat to prepare them this way.

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When they come out of the pan I like to let them rest on a paper towel for a minute or two to let any excess oil drain off and then they’re ready to enjoy. But wait, you say, what about the gravy that come with the cutlets?? Well, you could use those 2 little packets but there really isn’t much in them. A better idea is to toss that pittance of gravy back into your freezer for use another time and make your own from scratch! Why, here’s a mighty fine looking scratch-made gravy right here…

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To make your own gravy from scratch, you must first make a roux. (Remember, all a roux is, is “butter” and flour cooked together!) Once the roux is starting to look a little foamy, you’ll then add in some low sodium vegetable stock, give everything a good whisking, and then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 3 minutes to thicken, whisking occasionally. After 3 minutes you can turn off the heat and add in all of the flavorful goodness that makes this gravy so delicious.

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Now, here are all the details (in legit printable recipe form) for the gravy but be sure to continue scrolling after this because I’m going to delve into the mashed potatoes in a moment!

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Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy

  • Servings: makes about 2 1/2 cups
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons vegan “butter”
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons low sodium tamari
  • 1 generous teaspoon dried thyme, crushed well in palm of hand
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt “butter.” When melted, add in the flour and whisk to combine. When the mixture becomes slightly foamy, add in the vegetable stock and increase heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes to thicken, whisking occasionally.
  2. After 3 minutes, turn off the heat and add in the remaining ingredients. Whisk or stir until everything is well combined. If serving right away, carefully transfer to serving container or gravy boat. If not serving right away, leave in pan for up to 1 hour, covered, and before serving reheat for 1 minute over medium-high heat, while whisking, to bring back to temperature and to remove any skin that may have formed at the top while the gravy was sitting. Leftover gravy can be kept in an airtight container in fridge for up to 4 days.


So we have the “turkey,” and we have the gravy, now we need some mashed potatoes! These mashed potatoes are so good that you can enjoy them without gravy if you wish. What makes them that good? A magical little thing called roasted garlic! It sounds super hard to make but it’s actually quite easy.

To make roasted garlic you’ll need a big ol’ whole head of garlic and some olive oil. Cut about a quarter to a half of an inch off the top of the garlic head, discard that little hat piece, then peel off some of the looser outer layers from the remaining chunk. Place the garlic head on a sheet of aluminum foil and then drizzle it with about a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Bring the edges of the foil up and squish them all together to create a completely closed foil packet around the head of garlic. Pop this onto a small sheet pan and then bake it in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. When the timer is up, remove your roasted garlic from the oven and let it rest for about 15-25 minutes so that it’s cool enough for you to handle. When it’s cool, unwrap the foil and retrieve the garlic cloves from the head using the point of a small sharp knife. Set the cloves aside for a moment while we get the potatoes started.

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To get the potatoes for our mashed potatoes going, we need to do some prep! Wash 2 1/2 pounds of red potatoes then, using a knife or potato peeler, remove the ugly bits, if any. We want as much of the skins on as can remain on so try to remove only what is absolutely necessary. Next, cut each potato down into about 1 1/2″ square pieces and toss those pieces into a large pot filled about halfway with some water. Pop the pot onto your stove and boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they are fork tender.

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When the potatoes are done, drain them then dump them into the bowl of your stand mixer. (If you don’t have a stand mixer you can use a large bowl and your hand mixer or a potato masher instead.) Add in the roasted garlic cloves you made earlier, some vegan “butter,” “sour cream,” salt, and pepper, then mix until smooth.

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To serve, I like to garnish the top of the potatoes with some fresh chives.

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Vegan Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • Servings: 6-8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of garlic, whole
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds red potatoes, washed but not peeled (it’s okay to remove any ugly bits with small knife or potato peeler)
  • 1/2 a stick of vegan “butter”
  • 1/4-1/3 cup vegan “sour cream”
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off a quarter to a half of an inch at the top of the garlic head, exposing most of the cloves inside, discarding the cut off piece. Peel off some of the looser outer layers then place the garlic head on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle it with about a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Bring the edges of the foil up and squish them all together to create a completely closed foil packet around the head of garlic. Pop this onto a small sheet pan and then bake it for 45 minutes. When the timer is up, remove your roasted garlic from the oven and let it rest for about 15-25 minutes so that it’s cool enough for you to handle. When it’s cool enough to handle, unwrap the foil and retrieve all of the garlic cloves from the head using the point of a small sharp knife. Set the cloves aside for a moment while we get the potatoes started.
  2. Cut each potato down into about 1 1/2″ square pieces and toss those pieces into a large pot filled about halfway with some water. Pop the pot onto your stove and boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes when done.
  3. In a stand mixer (or a large bowl with your hand mixer or potato masher), combine the potatoes with the roasted garlic cloves, “butter,” “sour cream,” and salt and pepper to taste. Mix just until smooth then serve topped with fresh chives (optional). Leftover potatoes will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to a week.


Well, y’all, that wraps up week 1 in my Thanksgiving series! Come back next week when I take on sweet potatoes!

 

 

Vegan Creamy “Cheddar” Zucchini Cakes

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The other day I was having a serious craving for something fried and “cheesy.” I guess it really should have been expected after I hopped on Pinterest in search of my next hair color but instead ended up getting lost in recipe pins for nearly an hour -most of which were so not diet friendly or healthy in the slightest. #ButDamnDidTheySureLookDelicious

I knew that I had nothing pre-made on hand that would satisfy my craving so I’d have to make something. I had the “cheesy” part covered, thanks to my always stuffed-to-the-brim “cheese” drawer in the fridge, but I needed something more, something that I could snuggle up with the “cheese.” Shredded zucchini, I thought, would be just the ticket. I ended up forming my zucchini mixture into little cakes and, when they were done, I was quite pleased with the results and my craving had been thoroughly satisfied.

The outside of the cakes are ever so slightly crisp, just enough so to hold everything together and give you a little change in texture as you take a bite, but the inside’s where it’s at. Inside you’ll find zesty, creamy, ooey gooey goodness that just might remind you of mac-n-“cheese” or “cheesy” mashed potatoes -either way, it’s yummy for sure. I enjoyed mine as a snack with a little vegan “sour cream” on top but I could totally see making these for breakfast in place of hash browns or serving them up alongside some vegan “chicken” for lunch or dinner. No matter what time of day you choose to enjoy them, the procedure’s the same and it’s a pretty quick and easy one at that!

First things first, 3 medium size zucchini get washed and finely shredded. Once shredded, you then need to squeeze as much water out of the shreds as you can. With as much water out as you can get out, the shreds will then get tossed into a large mixing bowl along with Daiya “Cheddar” shreds (that have been cut into even smaller pieces), some nooch (nutritional yeast), Ener-G egg replacer (just the powder this time -don’t add water to it), and some seasonings. Everything gets mixed together really well and then it’s time to form the cakes!

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To form the cakes, take about 2 tablespoons of the zucchini mixture in the palm of your hand and pat it out into a little puck-like shape. (I opted to wear some food safe gloves while I made the cakes just to keep the process a little cleaner but this, of course, is optional!) Once the cakes are formed they then get dipped in a mixture of whole wheat flour, salt, and pepper, and then they’re ready to be fried.

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In a large skillet, just enough oil to shallow fry gets brought up to about medium heat. When you think the oil is hot enough you can test it by dropping in a piece of leftover zucchini mixture from your mixing bowl -if it sizzles up, you’re good to go. Using a spatula, gently place the cakes into the oil and fry on each side until dark golden brown in color. (The cakes will still be pretty soft and that’s fine -we’re not going for super crunchy fried exterior with these but rather just a very light little crisp shell to hold everything together.) Once the cakes have all been fried up, let them rest for a minute on a paper towel before serving.

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Vegan Creamy 'Cheddar' Zucchini Cakes

  • Servings: 4-6 cakes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 3 medium zucchini, washed, finely shredded, and squeezed/pressed to remove as much excess liquid as possible
  • Generous 1/4 cup of Daiya “Cheddar” Style Shreds, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Ener-G (just the powder -do not add water as per the instructions on the box)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • About 1/4 cup whole wheat flour + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Oil for pan

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the shredded zucchini with the finely chopped “cheese,” nutritional yeast, Ener-G powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Mix everything together really well then set this mixture aside. In a small bowl or shallow dish, combine the whole wheat flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Whisk flour mixture with a fork then set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, pour in just enough oil to shallow fry and allow that to come up to about medium heat while you’re forming the cakes. To form each cake, take about 2 tablespoons of the zucchini mixture in the palm of your hand and pat it out into a puck-like shape about 3/4 of an inch thick. (Wear food safe gloves, if you wish, to keep this process a little cleaner.) Take the formed cake and gently swirl it around in the flour mixture until evenly coated on all sides. Repeat until you have all of the cakes made.
  3. To ensure that it’s at the right temperature, test the oil by carefully dropping in a piece of leftover zucchini mixture from your mixing bowl -if it sizzles up, you’re good to go. Using a spatula, gently place the cakes into the oil and fry on each side until dark golden brown in color, about 3-5 minutes per side. (The cakes will still be pretty soft when done and that’s fine -we’re not going for super crunchy fried exterior with these but rather just a very light little crisp shell to hold everything together.) Once the cakes have all been fried up, let them rest for a minute on a paper towel before serving. Cakes are best enjoyed fresh but can be kept in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

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Sweet, buttery, and a little toasty -that’s what this frosting is.

It was inspired by my mom who asked me to make her a chocolate cake with caramel frosting for her birthday. I knew that I could totally handle the chocolate cake part but the caramel frosting part? I hadn’t made vegan caramel before, let alone attempted a caramel frosting. Thrown for a loop, I decided to turn to that wonderful world of information that we call the internet where I learned that you can make vegan caramel using unsweetened, full fat coconut milk. With a little tweaking on the ideas I found online, I managed to come up with a recipe for a caramel frosting that has a slightly burnt, toasty flavor to it which contrasts nicely with the overall sweetness.

Now, it’s not the quickest frosting to make but it is pretty easy.

First things first, you’re gonna grab a small pot and pop it onto your stove over medium-high heat. Pour in a can of coconut milk and then add in some vegan “butter,” a little brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently, then reduce the heat to simmer. Here’s where the time factor comes into play -you’re going to let this simmer for 1 hour, whisking it about every 8-10 minutes.

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When an hour has passed, add in a dash of vanilla then carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, slowly add in powdered sugar (scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl as needed) until the desired consistency is reached.

Since I was frosting a 13×9 cake, which was remaining in it’s pan, I opted to kept the frosting on the softer side adding only 2 cups of powdered sugar to it. If you’re using this frosting for cupcakes or cookies though, where it needs to really stay in place, you’re going to want to add more powdered sugar. And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.

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Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

  • Servings: enough to frost a 13x9 cake
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can of unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 a stick of vegan “butter”
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk with “butter,” brown sugar, and salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently. After 3 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, whisking occasionally.
  2. Turn the heat off and add in the vanilla. Carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, add in the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. For a softer frosting, for a non-layered cake, add 2 cups of powdered sugar. For a more stiff frosting, for layered cakes, cupcakes, or cookies, add a little more powdered sugar until you reach the consistency desired. (And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.)

Vegan Eggplant & Zucchini Gratin

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Oh how I love me a good tater. However, since I’ve been on my new diet, the humble potato and I just haven’t been spending a whole lot of time together. Don’t get me wrong, I still love ’em and allow myself one every now and then, but I just can’t eat them day in and day out like I used to. #SadFace

When I’m craving a potato-based dish but really can’t do it with potatoes, I start to get creative -that’s how this recipe was born. A couple weeks ago I randomly started thinking about gratin potatoes and how much I had hated them as a kid. That led into me realizing that I actually hadn’t had them since I was a kid and that perhaps I should give them a try with my now fully grown palate. After convincing myself that this needed to happen, I then worked out which other veggies I could substitute in place of the potatoes. I ended up using eggplant and zucchini and do you know what happened when I ate some of my eggplant and zucchini gratin? I struggled to figure out why I didn’t like that shit as a kid because it’s really good -even without my most beloved vegetable in it.

It all gets started with the making of a Mornay sauce -that’s just the technical name for a roux-based sauce that has cheese (in this case vegan “cheese) added to it. Vegan “butter” gets melted down over low-med. heat and then flour gets added. Once the “butter” and flour start to look a little foamy, unsweetened almond milk is added and the mixture is brought to a boil. After a few minutes, the heat gets turned down and the seasonings go in. Then comes the “cheese” -Daiya “Mozzarella” shreds this time. You’ll whisk until smooth then set your Mornay sauce aside until we’re ready for it.

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Okay, time to prep the eggplant and zucchini! Each gets washed and then, using the 3.5mm blade on a mandoline slicer, each gets cut up into slices. Just a quick word of advice about this step: I like to cut the stem ends off of the eggplant and the zucchini and then cut each veg in half before I put them on the mandoline. This works out much better because then I’m working with more manageable chunks and not big long wibbly-wobbly pieces.

After you’ve sliced the eggplant, take a knife and cut the circles into 3 even wedge-shaped sections so that the eggplant slices are closer to the size of the zucchini slices.

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Finally, it’s time to assemble our gratin. Generously “butter” a medium sized, circular or oval, shallow baking dish (mine was an oval roughly 10 inches by 8 inches). Alternating the eggplant and zucchini, lay the pieces in the dish so that they’re at about a 60-degree angle from the bottom of the baking dish. (For those of you who are angle challenged, all this means is don’t be layin’ the pieces flat in the dish but don’t have them sticking straight up and down either.) You’ll be working the pieces around the edge of the dish and then creating concentric circles inward until you reach the center where you’ll just fill the middle however is best for your dish.

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Next, pour the Mornay sauce over the vegetable slices being sure to make your way around the dish as you’re pouring rather than dumping it all into the center. Grab a spoon or a spatula and push the sauce around, where needed, so that the vegetable slices are nearly completely covered with the sauce. Wrap the dish tightly with foil then pop it into a preheated oven for 50 minutes.

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After 50 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and, using tongs or an oven mitt, remove the foil from the dish. Generously sprinkle the top of the gratin with some vegan shaker-style “Parmesan” and then put it back in the oven, uncovered, and broil until gloriously golden brown.

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When done, let the gratin sit for about 15 minutes before you serve it.

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Vegan Eggplant & Zucchini Gratin

  • Servings: 6-8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegan “butter” + more for greasing dish
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2-3 garlic cloves + 1/2 teaspoon salt, mashed together to create a paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup Daiya “Mozzarella” shreds
  • 3-4 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2-3/4 cup vegan shaker-style “Parmesan”

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a medium sized, circular or oval, shallow baking dish by greasing it generously with “butter.” In a medium sized saucepan over low-med. heat, melt 2 tablespoons “butter.” Once melted, add in flour and stir to combine. When the mixture starts to look foamy and light brown, add in almond milk and increase the heat to bring it all to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. After 3 minutes, reduce the heat to low and add in the garlic cloves you mashed into a paste with salt. Also add in the dried thyme, paprika, sugar, white pepper, nutmeg, and celery seed. Stir to combine. Next, dump in the “Mozzarella” and whisk until smooth. Turn off the heat and let the sauce rest for a moment until we’re ready for it.
  3. Using the 3.5mm blade on a mandoline slicer, cut the eggplant and the zucchini into slices. (Just a quick word of advice about this step: I like to cut the stem ends off of the eggplant and the zucchini and then cut each veg in half before I put them on the mandoline. This works out much better because then I’m working with more manageable chunks and not big long wibbly-wobbly pieces.) After you’ve sliced the eggplant, take a knife and cut the circles into 3 even wedge-shaped sections so that the eggplant slices are closer to the size of the zucchini slices.
  4. Alternating the eggplant and zucchini, lay the pieces into your prepared dish so that they’re at about a 60-degree angle from the bottom of the dish. (For those of you who are angle challenged, all this means is don’t be layin’ the pieces flat in the dish but don’t have them sticking straight up and down either.) Work the pieces around the edge of the dish and then repeat to create concentric circles inward until you reach the center where you’ll just fill the middle however is best for your dish. (For my dish, I just did a straight line in the the center.)
  5. Pour the sauce you made earlier over the vegetable slices being sure to make your way around the dish as you’re pouring rather than dumping it all into the center. Grab a spoon or a spatula and push the sauce around, where needed, so that the vegetable slices are nearly completely covered with the sauce. Wrap the dish tightly with foil then bake it for 50 minutes.
  6. After 50 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and, using tongs or an oven mitt, carefully remove the foil from the dish. Generously sprinkle the top of the gratin with vegan shaker-style “Parmesan” then put it back in the oven, uncovered, and broil until golden brown -about 2 or 3 minutes. When done, allow gratin to rest for about 15 minutes before serving. Gratin will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

Vegan Benevolent Bean Spread

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It’s been said that I’m a bit of a bean fiend but how could anyone not love those wholesome little nuggets of deliciousness?! In fact, I was told to eat even more beans by my nutritionist so hate all you want but I’m gonna be cramming beans in my diet wherever I can! #BeanMeUpScotty

One of my favorite beans to cook with is the white bean but the other day I realized that I’ve only shared one recipe with y’all that features white beans. (I seriously did a recount because I couldn’t believe I had only shared the one.) I knew that I needed to up my white bean game and share not just a recipe with white beans in it but rather a white bean-based recipe so today I’m doing just that.

Now, maybe you’re like, “What the hell is a bean spread?” So before I go any further allow me to explain this for those of you who are a little confused. A bean spread is a super thick and delicious mixture that can be enjoyed by itself, as a side, or smeared on veggies, on a bagel, on a pita, on tiny toasts for a party, on your finger, on the finger of your lover, on a shoe, on a stick… you get the idea. And the “benevolent” part? That’s just a cutesy word taken from one of the ingredients (more on that in a moment) that I chose to add to the title because I can.

So now we know what a bean spread is, let’s talk about what it tastes like. My bean spread is so full flavored it’ll knock your socks off! It’s garlicky, it’s oniony -wait, oniony is not a word but garlicky is? Lame! Anyways… full flavored. There’s a creaminess that you get from the beans and a little vegan “cream cheese,” then you have a meaty, salty element thanks to Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon, and the whole thing’s rounded out with some baby spinach. It’s really good and it all gets started with a little prep.

First things first, drain and rinse a can of great northern white beans then plop them into a mini food processor. Add in the vegan “cream cheese,” some salt and pepper, a little extra virgin olive oil, then pulse the mixture until smooth. Set your white bean creaminess aside for a moment and move on the the rest of the prep.

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Wash up some baby spinach (or buy the prewashed stuff) then remove excess stems and  tear remaining leafy bit into smaller pieces until you have 2 cups worth of torn baby spinach leaves. Also, finely dice about 1/8th of a white onion, finely mince a few garlic cloves, and slice up about 5 slices of the “bacon” to get them down to more bite-size pieces.

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Now it’s time to get cookin’! In a medium size skillet over low-med. heat, cook the “bacon” and the onions in about a tablespoon of olive oil for 5 minutes stirring occasionally to ensure that the “bacon” is cooking up evenly.

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After 5 minutes, add in the torn spinach leaves and the garlic. Stirring occasionally, just as you did before, cook for an additional 5 minutes.

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The last thing that we need to add is the white bean mixture we made earlier. Pour that into your pan then fold everything together and cook for a final 3 minutes. Be sure to stir nearly constantly at this point so that the beans don’t burn to the bottom of the pan.

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Serve your finished bean spread hot or cold -it’s great either way!

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Vegan Benevolent Bean Spread

  • Servings: makes about 1 1/2 cups
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-ounce) can of low-sodium great northern white beans, drained and rinsed + 1 generous tablespoon vegan “cream cheese” + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + pinch of salt and pinch of black pepper
  • 2 cups of baby spinach leaves, torn into bite-size pieces (measured after being torn, not before)
  • 5 pieces of Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon, uncooked and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1/6-1/8 of a white onion (about 2 tablespoons), finely diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Something to smear bean spread onto like a bagel, pita, veggies, mini toasts, etc. (optional)

Directions

  1. In a mini food processor, combine drained and rinsed beans with “cream cheese,” extra virgin olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Pulse until smooth then set aside. Tear up baby spinach leaves and prep “bacon,” onion, and garlic, if you haven’t done so already.
  2. In a medium size skillet over low-med. heat, cook “bacon” and onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes, add torn spinach leaves and garlic then cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add in bean mixture then fold everything together and cook for a final 3 minutes. Be sure to stir almost constantly at this point so that the bean mixture doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan. When spread is done, serve it hot or cold. Spread will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Vegan Coconut Cornbread

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For those of you who don’t know this already, I have a brother named Thomas. He’s a couple years younger than me and we are two very different people. He’s a tech-savvy gamer-geek and I’m a crystal-loving, cow-hugging, artsy-fartsy free spirit. With that said however, there is one major thing that we have in common and that’s our love for food. We both enjoy cooking and baking (and eating) so our conversations are often very food centric. (Thank goodness you don’t gain weight just by talking about food!)

Our food centric conversation last week was about his upcoming birthday. I, as usual, offered to make him anything (vegan) that he wanted for dinner and he, as usual, said tofu scramble because he really loves my tofu scramble. Here’s the thing though, we both eat tofu scramble like all the damn time, so I told him that he should pick something that he doesn’t eat on a regular basis, something special, and that’s when he said he’d like some cornbread. (Of course I’ll be adding some main course to go with the cornbread, since cornbread alone isn’t dinner in my book, but I digress…)

Now, cornbread isn’t the most interesting thing ever, and y’all know I love to add my own special little twist to things, so I started to think of ways that I could jazz it up for my brother’s birthday dinner. He loves all things coconut, and I’m on a low-carb diet, so I thought that perhaps I should add in a little coconut flour. Then I thought that I should also add in coconut shreds, as well as coconut milk, to really amplify the coconut flavor. Then I remembered that I had some leftover amber ale in my fridge and figured, Why the hell not? It sounded crazy. It looked crazy on paper as I was writing it all down. But then I tried it, and had some other people try it, and there was no doubt that this crazy-ass recipe was crazy good.

My brother may not get to eat it until his birthday next week but y’all can try it right now! The first thing we’re going to do is prepare the egg replacer. For this, and most of my recipes, I use Ener-G egg replacer. In this case I took some of the egg replacer and mixed it with a little amber ale and a little water to create my “eggs.” Don’t worry if it’s a little clumpy, we’ll work those clumps out later when we add this to our cornbread batter. For now, just mix it as best you can then set it aside.

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Next, in a large bowl, you’re going to combine the cornmeal with the coconut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Whisk these dry ingredients together.

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Now we are going to add in the wet ingredients which are coconut milk, vegan “butter” (melted), the egg replacer we made a moment ago, and a little bit of sugar. Whisk everything together once more and then we’re going to trade out our whisk for a silicone spatula.

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Toss in the frozen corn kernels and coconut shreds then fold them into the batter using a silicone spatula. Be gentle and don’t overwork the batter but do make sure that there aren’t any clumps of frozen corn.

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Generously grease an 8-inch square pan then pour the batter in and flatten the top, if needed, with the spatula. Pop this baby into a preheated oven and in just 30 minutes you’ll have coconut cornbread! You’ll know it’s done when the top is a lovely medium shade of golden brown and a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Honey butter fan gone vegan? Try mixing a little agave with some vegan “butter” and smear that on a big ol’ piece of this cornbread for something so good your tongue will be crying tears of joy. #YoureWelcomeTongue

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Vegan Coconut Cornbread

  • Servings: 6-9
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer + 3 tablespoons amber ale + 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (13.66-ounce) can of coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons vegan “butter,” melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Coconut oil for pan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare an 8-inch square pan by generously greasing it with coconut oil. Prepare egg replacer, if you haven’t already done so, by combining it with the amber ale and warm water. Stir with a fork or mini whisk to break up as many lumps as you can then set mixture aside for a moment.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, coconut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Add in the coconut milk, melted vegan “butter,” egg replacer mixture, and sugar. Whisk just until batter is smooth and all of the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated.
  3. Toss in frozen corn kernels and shredded coconut then fold everything together making sure to break up any clumps of frozen corn.
  4. Pour batter into greased pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. You’ll know cornbread is done when top is medium golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean. Will keep in airtight container in fridge for up to a week but is best hot out of the pan.