Cider & Rum Punch

Here’s a mulled cider cocktail recipe for all of your holiday parties. It is so easy to make! You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy this drink. Bonus, it’s gluten free! If you’re looking for more gluten free drink options, Glutenista has a great list.

Ingredients:

4 cups of apple cider

6 oz spiced rum

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

Pour the apple cider into a saucepan on high heat and add the cinnamon sticks and nutmeg. Stir slowly until the cider boils, then remove from the heat and take out the cinnamon sticks with a spoon. Add the rum and stir, then pour into a pitcher or punch bowl. Serve warm.

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Butternut Squash Lasagna with Maple Cream Sauce

My favorite fall vegetable is butternut squash. I use it in soup, salads, mac and cheese (seriously–try this amazing recipe from Oh She Glows), and now lasagna! The inspiration for this came from a friend’s incredible butternut squash ravioli made with hand-rolled pasta and lots of goat cheese. I’m still working on a ravioli version of my recipe, but the lasagna is pretty awesome too. Whatever package your butternut squash puree comes in, this dish is some serious autumn comfort food.

It’s also a good option for a vegan Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you are attending a non-vegan dinner and want to bring something that you know you’ll be able to eat. It is really easy to pack up at home and reheat when you arrive, but make sure to put the sauce in a separate container. To reheat this dish, put it in the oven at 350F for ten minutes, or microwave on high for 90 seconds. Reheat the sauce in the microwave (covered) for 30 seconds on high, or in a saucepan on the stove.

Ingredients

For the lasagna:

20 oz cubed butternut squash, frozen or fresh

1/3 cup goveggie parm cheese OR 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast (soy free option!)

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup plain almond cheese (recipe here) –leave out parsley, chives, and garlic from the almond cheese

1 box of gluten-free lasagna noodles

For the cream sauce:*

4 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp onion powder

1 cup almond milk

2 tbsp potato starch or cornstarch

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp ground thyme

*If you don’t want a sweet sauce for your lasagna, you can replace the maple syrup and thyme with 2 tsp ground sage OR 2 tsp dried basil instead. Sage or basil cream sauces go well with this dish, and you can follow the same directions below to make them.

Directions:

First, soak your almonds for the almond cheese in water so they are ready to blend in an hour.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Next, take the cubed squash and place it on a tray lined with parchment paper. Brush the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

Cook the lasagna noodles according to instructions on the package, then drain and set aside.

When the squash is done, take it out and let it cool. While the squash is cooling, make the almond cheese in a blender. Place almond cheese in a small bowl in the fridge for ten minutes.

Next, put the squash into a mixing bowl. Mash the squash with a fork until you reach the consistency of mashed potatoes. Mix in 1/2 cup of almond cheese, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (or 1/3 cup soy parmesan cheese), and 1 tsp nutmeg. Stir until everything is combined.IMG_0309

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place one layer of lasagna noodles on the bottom of a baking dish. Spoon half the butternut squash mixture over the noodles, then cover with another layer of noodles. Spoon the rest of the mixture on top, and cover with one more layer of noodles. Bake this in the oven for 10 minutes.

 

While the lasagna is baking, melt the coconut oil in a saucepan on medium heat on the stove and pour in the onion powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond milk and potato starch until all of the starch is dissolved and there are no clumps, then pour this into the saucepan and whisk until everything is combined. Pour in the maple syrup and thyme powder and continue whisking the sauce until it starts to bubble and thicken. When it has reached the consistency of pudding, remove it from the heat.

Take the lasagna out of the oven and cut it into squares. Pour the sauce over each piece of lasagna and serve warm.

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Holiday Survival Tips

So you’ve made this big change in your life, you’re eating healthier, you feel great, and now you have to go to a big family dinner where nobody understands your choices and will probably not be serving foods that you can eat. The holidays can be a stressful time even without the extra food restrictions, so here are some tips to avoid the stress that goes along with being a vegan in a non-vegan world:

1) Don’t assume that anybody knows what you can and can’t eat! They might not know exactly what your dietary preferences are. Be specific in your examples. When I go to a family dinner, I tell them I cannot eat milk, cheese, eggs, meat, or bread, but that I would LOVE some green beans with garlic and oil. I once told someone I was a vegan without giving examples–I got a dairy-free cookie with eggs in it, but I really appreciated the effort. They just didn’t know what vegan meant, and that’s OK! If you’re going to a non-vegan party, ask the host if you can see the menu beforehand, and let them know about any specific dietary restrictions. They might ask what kind of food they can make or order for you, or you can offer to bring your own. Your friends and family might even want to try what you brought! Choose something that travels easily and can be reheated and served in someone else’s kitchen with minimal effort.

2) Don’t get preachy. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to a dinner you’ve been looking forward to and having someone tell you how it’s terrible for you and how could you possibly put that into your body? You’ve made a choice to go vegan or gluten-free, but nobody else at the table has made that choice, and they shouldn’t feel bad about that. Offer your food as an exciting option: “Hey look! Cool hipster food! Try something new!” but don’t try to convert others at their favorite meal of the year.

3) Have your elevator pitch ready to go. If you haven’t seen your family and friends in a long time (or if you have recently seen them, and then they forgot they asked you already), be patient with their questions. They may genuinely be interested in why you chose this lifestyle, or they might disagree with it and tell you it’s silly. Either way, if you already know what your 30-second answers are to “why did you go vegan? how is it helping you? what can you eat?” you won’t spend the entire night trying to teach everyone about your food, since that can get a little exhausting.

4) Have snacks on hand for emergencies. If you’re going to a party that will have nothing you can eat, and something goes wrong with your food or the party goes on for a long time and you get hungry later, you’ll want to have a backup plan.  Pack some trail mix, granola bars, fruit, cookies, or a PB&J so you can avoid any blood-sugar related issues and you won’t be tempted to eat something you’re not supposed to.

5) Have fun! Enjoy spending time with your friends and family, and don’t stress too much about the food–with a little bit of planning, you can have a great dinner wherever you are!

Sweet Potato Sandwich

If you have a lot of Thanksgiving leftovers to finish, you can get sick of eating the same thing for days after the big dinner. This sandwich is perfect for a new spin on your leftover roasted sweet potatoes. It’s so good, I eat it throughout the year too! This recipe was given to me by a non-vegan friend who suggested I replace the goat cheese with something else, and I knew my almond spread would be perfect for it. It’s delicious whether you eat it while you’re tanning on the the beach or warmed up with all of your Thanksgiving leftovers!

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

Arugula lettuce

Balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Almond Herb Spread (or goat cheese if you’re not vegan)

Ciabatta bread or your favorite gluten free bread

Directions:

Start preparing the almond spread first by soaking the almonds in water (full recipe here).

If you’ve already got roasted sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner, skip this step! If not, cut a sweet potato into slices that are about 1/2-inch thick, and place them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Melt the coconut oil in a small bowl in the microwave, then stir in the brown sugar. Spoon this mixture onto each sweet potato slice.

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Place the potatoes in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 425F, until the sweet potatoes are golden brown and can be cut easily with a knife.

While the sweet potatoes are baking, make the almond spread and place it in the fridge for 20 minutes to set. Take the sweet potatoes out when they are finished, and let them cool for about 10 minutes.

To assemble your sandwich, first toast the bread. Place one layer of sweet potato slices on a piece of bread, then top it with arugula, almond cheese, and balsamic dressing.

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Enchilada Madness Part 2: Enchiladas Suizas

If you couldn’t get enough of that Chocolate Mole, here’s another one to put on your favorites list: Enchiladas Suizas! My sister and I order this at every single Mexican restaurant we go to. It’s a sweet and tangy sauce made with tomatillos or salsa verde, which gives it a greenish color. It’s one of my super quick weeknight dinners because the sauce is so simple and goes great with some rice, beans, and frozen veggies. In restaurants it is often made with cream or milk which I replaced with almond milk, and it was still a big hit with my non-vegan taste testers!

Since I made this sauce for a dinner party, I wanted to serve an awesome dessert but didn’t have too much time to make one.  I ended up making a vegan chocolate fudge the night before with this insanely easy 10 minute recipe from Katy’s Kitchen and it was fantastic.

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 cup salsa verde (I like White Girl Salsa’s mild tomatillo)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tbsp potato starch or cornstarch

1/2 tsp cumin

pinch of black pepper

For the fillings:

1 can black beans or refried pinto beans

2 cups rice

4 cups vegetable stock

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 avocados, sliced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F. 

Cube the sweet potato and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes at 425F.

In a pot, bring 4 cups of vegetable stock to a boil. Add 2 cups of rice, lower to medium heat, and let it cook for 20 minutes. 

Drain and rinse the beans in a strainer over the sink. Heat in a bowl in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Keep covered with tinfoil to stay warm.

Melt coconut oil in a saucepan. In a measuring cup, whisk together potato starch and almond milk until fully dissolved. Pour the almond milk-starch mixture into the saucepan and whisk until fully combined. Pour in the salsa verde, pepper, and cumin. Stir for 5-10 minutes on medium heat until sauce bubbles and thickens, then remove from the heat.

To assemble the enchiladas, place rice, beans, sweet potatoes, and avocado slices in a tortilla and roll it up. Pour the sauce over the tortilla and you’re good to go!

Enchilada Madness Part 1: Chocolate Mole Sauce

It’s the middle of November. I should be posting about pumpkin bread and butternut squash. I promise, I’ll get to those soon. But right now, all I can think about is this Chocolate Mole Sauce. It is the perfect combination of spicy and sweet, dinner and dessert, Mexican food and chocolate. It is a chocoholic’s dream come true.

I would drink this sauce if I could, but it’s probably best to put it on some actual food. I used lightly seasoned sweet potatoes, black beans, and rice to complement the sauce without overpowering the rich chocolate flavor. Add some sliced avocado on top of this wonderful mole mess and you have basically achieved culinary perfection.

Now, as much as I like spicy food, I’m just not really equipped to handle it. Mole (Spanish for “sauce”) is made many different ways, often without chocolate, but it always has some combination of chili peppers. Depending on the type of mole, the flavors and level of heat of the peppers in the sauce can vary. I love the flavor of poblano and chipotle chilis, but I tried to keep my mole as mild as possible by only adding one of each. If you’re one of those people who carries around a pocket-sized Sriracha sauce and can handle the heat, by all means add more chilis! The secret to this sauce is to simmer it slowly on a low heat and keep adding things until it tastes right to you. If you’re not sure how spicy you want it, try it with only one or two chilis, and if it’s not spicy enough for you, add a few more. I can guarantee you’ll love this sauce even if it doesn’t burn your face off.

I made this sauce two ways. I used solid vegan chocolate, dried ancho (a.k.a. poblano) peppers, and canned chipotle chili peppers in one version, and tried another version with cacao powder, ancho powder, and chipotle powder. The “powdered” version ended up being way too spicy for me, but I will post both below since they both got a thumbs up from my very brave (and non-vegan!) taste testers.

Since it was an extremely chocolatey dinner, I decided to serve a lighter dessert: Key Lime Pie! I used my own Gluten Free Pie Crust with with this really simple cashew-based filling recipe, which also got the approval of my non-vegan dinner guests.

I now present what might possibly be my favorite dinner of all time, Gluten Free/Vegan Chocolate Mole Enchiladas!

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

2 tbsp Nutiva vegan shortening or coconut oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 white onion, diced

1 tomato, diced

1/2 banana

1 dried ancho chili (also called poblano), stemmed and seeded

1 chipotle chili from a can, stemmed and seeded*

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

4.5 oz vegan dark chocolate (I used one and a half bars of Taza 80% dark chocolate) 

1.5 cups water

2 tbsp almond butter

For the fillings:

1 can black beans

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 cups of rice

4 cups of vegetable stock

2 avocados, sliced

Brown rice or corn tortillas

For the alternative “powdered” version of the sauce (note, this will be spicier than the version shown above), keep all ingredients previously listed except:

Replace dried ancho chile with 1 tsp ancho chili powder

Replace canned chipotle chile with 1 tsp chipotle chili powder

Replace vegan dark chocolate with 3-4 tbsp cacao powder

Add 1 tsp white or brown sugar 

Add 1 tbsp full fat canned coconut milk 

*Tip: take your leftover chipotle chilis out of the can and store them in a plastic or glass container in the fridge for a few weeks to use them in other recipes!

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F
  2. Dice the onions, garlic, tomato, and sweet potato. 
  3. Place the sweet potato on a tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake at 425F in the oven for 45 minutes.
  4. WEARING GLOVES, seed and stem the chilis. The oils from the chilis can burn the skin on your hands and if you touch your eyes, it will not be pleasant. The chili seeds can pack some serious heat, so if you don’t want your sauce to be too spicy, you should remove the seeds from the inside. Cut off the stem of the chili with a sharp knife, and then slice lengthwise along the chili to open it. Remove the seeds with a knife or by running under water.
  5. In a small frying pan, toast the chilis (dry, no cooking oil) for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Once they are done, set aside.
  6. Melt the shortening in a saucepan. Add the diced onion and garlic, and let it cook for 5 minutes on medium heat. Lower the heat a little bit and add the tomato and banana, cooking another 5 minutes.
  7. Add the cinnamon, pepper, and salt into the saucepan and mix to combine.
  8. Add the chocolate (or cacao powder), water, and almond butter to the saucepan, and stir this until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined. 
  9. Add the chilis to the saucepan mixture and simmer everything, covered, for 20 minutes on low heat.
  10. While the mole is simmering, bring 4 cups of vegetable bouillon to a boil on high heat in a separate pot. Then add the 2 cups of rice, lower to medium heat, and let it cook for 20 minutes.
  11. After the mole has simmered for 20 minutes, it’s time to blend it (I recommend doing half the sauce at a time to avoid it boiling over in the blender and burning your hand). Process the sauce in the blender until smooth.
  12. Pour it back into the saucepan and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. If you have used the chili powder instead of the dried chilis and want to cut the spice a little bit, add 1 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp coconut milk at this point. If you have used solid dark chocolate, you can also add the sugar if the sauce is not sweet enough for you.
  13. Drain and rinse the can of black beans in a strainer over the sink. Heat in a bowl in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
  14. Slice the avocado and set aside.
  15. Once the sauce has simmered for ten minutes after blending, assemble the enchiladas. Place rice, beans, sweet potatoes, and avocado slices in a tortilla and roll it up. Pour the sauce over the tortilla and you’re ready to eat!

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