[Seems to be "dessert week" on DDD! Here's another healthy recipe for you today, the second in a trio of "good for you" desserts that can all be served up to those you love for Valentine's Day: the first was Butterscotch Pudding that can improve heart health; and the final installment is coming up on Thursday with a beautiful, decdadent, traditional V-Day treat revamped to be super-quick and healthier. Be sure to come back and check that one out, too!]
I’ve never really understood the expression, “easy as pie.” In the home of my childhood, it was more like “almost-unheard-of-plus-totally frustrating-and-usually-botched-results” as pie. Although my mom was a superlative baker, the one thing she almost never made (and when she did, it wasn’t very good) was pie. Give her a cookie dough, and she could nail it; a chiffon cake was her speciality; and cheesecake–no problem. But pie crust somehow eluded her.
As a result, neither one of my sisters nor I excel at pie or pie crust. In fact, the only pie my mother ever baked was called “Chocolate Dream Pie,” and as I recall, and it consisted of one ready-made storebought crust filled with chocolate cake batter and baked. In other words, the only pie in her repertoire was actually a cake.
My mom’s sister, Auntie M, on the other hand, a former caterer who excelled in the kitchen well into until her final years-well, she could bake anything.
Like so many pairs of sisters, my mother and aunt were more dissimilar than alike. Mom was softspoken, with a quiet, murmuring voice and (despite her hefty weight) a delicate frame, with tiny ankles and wrists. Her thin, fine hair was the color of wax beans. Auntie M, in contrast, was taller and broad, with sturdy legs thick as telephone poles. Her height was enhanced by the towering beehive of coarse, mahogany hair; her gravelly voice was both commanding and insistent, paired with an easy laugh and an equally easy tendency to criticize. My mother, the younger, was also “the pretty one,” while Auntie M was more what used to be described as a “Handsome” woman (think Mrs. Doubtfire with dark hair). Tough on the outside, she rarely revealed an inner softness, like a cautious turtle peeking out of its shell only when every possible threat is removed.
At once assertive and strong, Auntie M embodied the concept of pure domesticity, yet without even a whiff of the usual sense in which women are considered domestic. She was an archetypal feminist, one who encouraged independence, intelligence, strength and self-sufficiency all within the realm of marriage–and I believed she could accomplish anything. I idolized her, and in many ways wanted to be her (well, minus the shapeless legs).
When I was about 16, I spent a couple of weeks living at my aunt's house after she had broken her arm. While ostensibly there to help her keep up with housework, my role as her personal assistant quickly morphed into culinary protégé as well. It was under her tutelage that I first learned aboutmis en place (though of course she didn't call it that), which I had never encountered before; she also taught me about professional wash-up technique, filling one sink with soapy water, the other with clear and washing the least-dirtied dishes and utensils (such as glasses or cutlery) first, reusing the water for the more grimy pots and pans at the end. I discovered how rotating your baking pans halfway through the cooking time helps to compensate for uneven oven heat, allowing for a smooth, even top to cakes and breads; how sifting flours helps to aerate and separate out impurities like pebbles or bran; and how using an ice cream scoop creates perfectly measured, uniformly sized cookies.
The one thing that Auntie M never got round to teaching me, unfortunately, was how to bake a pie (though I have no doubt that, if she had, it would have been stellar). After years of promising myself that I'd tackle the skill on my own, I suddenly switched to gluten-free baking a few years back, which means that most of my crusts are now "pat-in" versus "roll-out." (Though if you're looking for a good rollable GF pie crust, you must try the one I used in this tortière, which I found on Maggie's blog). As a result, I still have a bit of an irrational aversion to making pie crust (though I did manage to create two fabulous crusts for the upcoming cookbook).
So you can see why I was elated to come across this recipe for Granola Topped Blueberry Pie Bars in Hallie's latest cookbook, Super Healthy Cookies: They're just like pie--without the pie! If you haven't checked out the book yet, I'd highly recommend it: with 50 recipes for healthy cookies from fruity to chocolate to bars to special occasion and more, it also provides a great glossary of ingredients, a resource guide, tips and tricks throughout, and a fantastic appendix of all the recipes listed by different diet type (eg, vegan and egg-free, grain-free, nut-free) plus a list according to taste prefernces (eg, sweet and salty, chocolatey, warm and toasty spices, etc.). All in all, it's full of the healthy, delicious recipes and useful information I've come to expect from Hallie's work!
This recipe is actually not even listed in the "vegan" section, but it was a snap to adapt to my ACD diet. I used The Vegg (vegan yolk) instead of the egg yolk listed, and subbed coconut nectar for maple syrup (obviously, you could make the recipe exactly as written if it jibes with your own diet). I also loved the "sweetness scale" next to each recipe (this was a "two spoon" treat, right in the middle of the scale).
These bars came together incredibly easily. In less than 45 minutes, the HH and I had a fruity, crumbly, warm and inviting pie-like dessert. To make the bars a bit more indulgent for the HH (he does love his creamy desserts), I topped his with a dollop of coconut whipped cream. These do, indeed, taste very pie-like and indulgent--and the HH consumed nearly half the pan in only 2 days! You should have no qualms at all serving these bars as Valentine's Day treats; they live up to a special occasion with the bursting-with-berries filling and yet are made with whole, healthy ingredients. They also fall into my very favorite dessert category: those that can be eaten as breakfast!
Despite the ease of preparation, I'd never call them "easy as pie," though. Unless, of course, we're talking about eating them.
Hallie says: "I took one bite of these bars and my taste buds shouted, 'Hello, Blueberry Pie!' The moist crust and crunchy topping of these bars paired with the juicy blueberry filling is just sublime. Don't let the rather long list of ingredients scare you. They're very easy to make." I agree! And equally easy to adapt to my diet. I've included my changes in square brackets, below.
Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Grease an 8 x 8 inch (20 cm) baking dish with coconut oil.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the oats, brown rice flour, coconut sugar, psyllium husks, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 20 seconds. Add the coconut oil, applesauce, and egg yolk. Process to combine. Using moist hands, pat half of the dough firmly and evenly into the greased baking dish. Crumble the remaining dough into a bowl and mix in the the pecans and raisins. Set aside.
Make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the blueberries, honey, lemon juice, and arrowroot starch. Spoon the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the blueberry layer nd press gently to adhere.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely at room temperture, then refrigerate fro 1-2 hours before cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 16 bars.
You asked for it, you got it! A couple of days ago, I couldn’t decide which recipe to post here on the blog, so I polled readers on my Facebook page, and the votes were about two to one in favor of these savory veggie-lentil loaves! I must admit I was a bit surprised given my own love of sweets. For those new to an anti-candida diet or anyone who follows a dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free diet, this recipe will meet your dietary needs perfectly–and it’s here just under the wire for the holidays! In fact, it may just make an appearance on our own holiday table this year, we enjoyed it so much. And not to worry–the sweet option will show up next time. Thanks to everyone who voted!
As a rule, I must admit I’m not a huge fan of the concept of “mini” (unless you count mini skirts, which I adored in my 20s and 30s and wore fairly frequently). One of my friends in childhood collected those Wade figurines that used to come for free in boxes of Red Rose tea–tiny birds, rabbits, puppies, frogs, even flowers and plants, all painstakingly painted and glazed. They were cute, I supposed, but I would have been worried I’d lose them too easily; and really, I wondered what the heck one would do with them except perhaps count them and then place them back on the shelf (and these days, I’d wonder how the heck one would dust them all). When I was first introduced to a platter of petits fours at a party years ago, my initial impulse was to eat four or five of them to equal the same mass as one “full” piece of cake. (Miniature chocolates never interested me, either–obviously).
The HH does keep telling me that he thinks my car is far too “mini,” but I love it even if there isn’t quite enough room to house both my groceries andThe Girls in the back seat at the same time. (“We love it, too, Mum. And I don’t mind having to drive with my head resting on Elsie’s bum because of how crowded it is. . . it’s worth it if it means we get a drive to the trail!”).
Besides, my little vroom-vroom is a Bugatti Type 41 compared to the car I once rode in on a blind date. My friend Sterlin had fixed me up with her classmate’s brother. Mr. Bro drove up in a red Alfa Romea Spider, shook my hand, then rounded back to his side of the car without so much as a glance in my direction (despite the fact that I was wearing one of those aforementioned mini skirts). Had I not rushed to grab the handle and slide into the tiny seat, I daresay he would likely have driven off without me. We proceeded to have the shortest date on record (less than 45 minutes, including dinner, as I recall), and that was the last I ever heard from him. Despite the enormity of his ego, his car remains the smallest one I’ve ever seen.
But back to the loaves. An exception to my miniature-aversion, they won my heart (and stomach). While I will always adore my full-sizednut roasts, I wanted something a little more elegant for this recipe, something you could feel proud to serve to friends–or at a holiday dinner. They provide a rather impressive presentation with their verdant cloak of rich avocado-tahini sauce, inspired by a sauce made with an avocado-tahini combo in Nava Atlas’s latest cookbook. And since the serving size is already pre-determined, there are no awkward moments after starting to cut slices too thick and ending up with only a few paltry dregs left by the time you get to Aunt Agnes if she’s the last one served.
The loaves themselves are not another attempt at mock-meat, but rather a full-on, veggie-centric offering, moist and colorful with carrot, zucchini and fennel (if you’re not a fennel fan, you can use another veggie such as celery or even broccoli in its place; but do give the fennel a try. 2012 was my Year of Learning to Love Fennel, and I highly recommend it in this dish). The mild flavor of the loaves is perfectly complemented by the creamy, savory sauce.
And it may be a cliché to say, but the loaves are big on flavor despite their diminutive size. And clearly, they won the maximum number of votes among all of you, too.
Individual Veggie-Lentil Loaves with Warm Avocado-Tahini Sauce
Delicious, nourishing and comforting, these mini loaves are chock full of vegetables and high in protein. And they make a lovely presentation if you’re serving to guests at a holiday dinner. For a weeknight meal, you can bake in a regular loaf pan. This recipe can be easily doubled.
For the loaves:
1/2 cup (120 ml) dry brown or green lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove any small stones
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) vegetable broth or stock, plus up to 1/2 cup (120 ml) more, if necessary
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 small or 1/2 large zucchini (4.5 oz or 125 g), coarsely chopped (you can leave the skin on)
Prepare the loaves: Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Spray 6 miniature loaf pans with nonstick spray, or grease with coconut oil. Set aside.
Place the lentils and broth in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer; cover the pot and allow the lentils to cook for 25 minutes, checking for doneness after 15 minutes or so. Once the lentils are soft and the liquid has been absorbed, turn off heat (if the liquid is absorbed before the lentils are cooked, add another 1/2 cup/120 ml broth and keep cooking).
In a large nonstick frypan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini, fennel, onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the carrot and quinoa flakes and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is golden. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor along with the remaining ingredients. Add the lentils to the processor and blend until well mixed but there is still a bit of texture from the vegetables (I made mine almost smooth, but a few flecks of carrot and zucchini were still visible). Transfer to the pans and smooth the tops of each.
Bake the loaves in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until the tops are well browned. Allow cool for 15 minutes before inverting onto serving plates. Top with a spoonful of Avocado-Tahini Sauce and serve. Makes 5-6 mini loaves.
During the final 15 minutes while the loaves bake, make the Avocado-Tahini Sauce (you can make it before hand, but note that the color will darken as the sauce sits): In a small food processor, blender or Magic Bullet, blend together all ingredients. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until just warmed through. Spoon over lentil loaves and serve. This sauce is also terrific over pasta. Makes about one cup (240 ml).
It’s almost the holidays!! Are you as excited (and as yet unprepared) as I am?
This year, Hallie of Daily Bites had a great idea: host a progressive dinner party to provide you with some fabulous recipe ideas for your own holiday tables, making everyone’s life easier! Starting Monday, December 10th, a different blogger will offer up a fantastic recipe each day, moving from course to course one at a time. And you’re all invited!
Even better, each day the hosting blog will offer a cookbook to give away. Each day will feature a different book, so check them all out and be sure to enter to win!
Here’s the lineup (and can you guess which course I’m creating?):
Friday, December 14: Dessert from–moi, of course! (what else would I be making?).
I hope you’ll join us as we hop from “home” to home to partake of different delectable dishes, all gluten free! (Note: not every blog listed is entirely vegan, but most will offer lots of vegan options).
And to pique your interest, here’s a peek at what I’ll be serving up on December 14th (yes, Ricki actually got a blog post done in advance–don’t faint!):
“Mum, we love dinner parties–guests always drop food on the floor! And I bet we can even eat this dessert, too–no chocolate!”
Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to Diet, Dessert and Dogs via email. (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”)
[Random Broadway photo. Can you spy the person in the crowd wearing a squirrel costume?]
So, where the heck have I been this past week? It feels like a long time since I last posted on this blog. In reality, it’s only been since last Thursday’s Wellness Weekend. Even though Wellness Weekend does occur each week–and I do LOVE all your incredible, healthy, sugar-free recipes, so please keep ‘em coming–I’ve been itching to post a new recipe of my own for a while, but, as sometimes happens, life intervened.
In a nutshell, here’s what’s been going on:
Visit to New York (aka, birthday extended!)
Cold/flu bug (also mine; aka, why do I tend to get sick on vacation?)
It all started with that darned birthday. . . .The HH and I decided to skip over to one of my fave places on the planet, New York City, for a quick junket and meetups with friends. As it turned out, our two days there preceded Hurricane Sandy by one day–we literally flew out of the city the night before they began preparations, a weird coincidence that left us feeling lucky and, at the same time, devastated for those we left behind.
And, like so many of you, I’ve been riveted to the TV, twitter, etc. following the aftermath of the hurricane and feeling heartsick for the poor people who’ve been ravaged by it, thinking about the city and environs since we left. And while I’ve heard from friends and family (and thankfully, they’re all safe), there are still so many others left without power or supplies who need help. If you’d like to help, here’s one list of ways to support the New York area and New Jersey, and a more general list here. Angela from Oh She Glows has created a Disaster Fundraiser (and an amazing giveaway at the same time) through which you can donate. I’m sure there are many others, too–please add any other ways to help that you know of in the comments!
So it feels a bit odd to be recapping a trip to New York when it’s currently so different from the place we saw last week, but I will cherish these memories all the more now.
As you might expect, most of our adventures involved. . . food! Mealtimes were spectacular, both because The HH totally indulged me and ate every meal (save for one, which was his choice) at one or another of the incredible vegan haunts in the city, but also because we met up with so many friends, online or otherwise, while there.
Unfortunately, my highly portable point-and-shoot camera is not great at taking photos in semi-darkness. . . so most of the shots came out sort of like this:
Do you feel dizzy yet? No, it’s not you. But that is kind of how I felt once the flu bug hit (bed, tea, tea, bed). Oh, and that’s a blurry image of the amazing Ruby Red juice I had on our last morning: brunch at Cafe Blossom.
In other words, please forgive the photos here . . . I really do need an iPhone for those instagram ones, don’t I?
Our first dinner was a return visit to Candle 79 (we loved it so much last time, we just had to go back there again), where I savored the Pomegranate-Chipotle Grilled Tempeh while the HH went for the Baby Arugula Salad (after scarfing down a huge bowl of meaty pasta for lunch). Dinner was followed by Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfon Broadway (for which we scored half price tickets–yeah!). We were joined by my friend Babe, who also just happened to be in New York for business! The play, what was likely one of the most spectacular productions of it ever mounted, kept us entranced for the full three hours. If you’ve seen the movie or read the play, you know that this is not a light entertainment, and I could only marvel at the energy required by the actors to remain so focused for the duration.
[My Green Spice juice; the HH's Strawberry Blonde shake.]
Friday was a food-and-fun-filled day of meetups! We started at One Lucky Duck, where I finally met my colleague Andrea Nakayama, the genius behind Replenish PDX and with whom I’ve taught the Sweet Victory detox, in person. It was like meeting an old friend as we sampled some of the famous raw goodness at One Lucky Duck (that’s my kale juice on the left; The HH’s shake on the right).
After wandering a bit in the East Village, we strolled over to Caravan of Dreams to meet up with JL and her hubby for a farewell lunch before they move across the country to Colorado. JL writes the fabulous blog, JL Goes Vegan, as well as the blog Stop Chasing Skinny. As she tells it on her blog, “I am proof that you are never too old to change!” JL ran a marathon, became a triathlete, and transitioned to a vegan diet. . . all in her 40s. Now she practices as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach and lives as a fabulous role model for all women who want to achieve their dreams. Go, JL! It was so great to see her and Dave again, and gab over great food!
[JL and me in the cavernous Caravan of Dreams. Did we plan our matching all-black T-shirts and sweaters? Our mirror-image pixie cuts with bangs swept in opposite directions? Our same-shape glasses? Ah, we'll never tell.]
Dinner took place at one of my dream destinations: Pure Food and Wine. I’ve read so many great reviews of this place, and after my friend Gena recommended it as a favorite, I knew there was no other choice for the evening. And what an evening it was! I met with one of my favorite bloggers with whom I’ve had an online friendship since I bought her first cookbook, My Sweet Vegan, back in 2008–the incomparable and amazingly talented Hannah from Bittersweet! Hannah was just as lovely in person as she is on her blog, and we thoroughly enjoyed catching up–in person.
We were joined later by Tess, The Blender Girl, and her partner for a raucous, rollicking evening. If you don’t know Tess yet, you should–head over to her blog asap! It’s filled with amazing, mostly quick-and-easy recipes that can be made in a blender, food processor, or mixer. And she hosts some pretty awesome giveaways, too! I met Tess for the first time last April at the Nourished conference, and immediately felt as if I’d known her for years. Not only is Tess one of the most hardworking bloggers I know, she’s also one of the most generous–and fun! It’s impossible not to spend an evening filled with laughter when you’re with Tess.
[Dr. Cow Cheese Plate.]
And the food! We began by sharing the Plate of Assorted Cultured Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses and Rosemary Crisps. Oh. My. Goodness. Having never tasted fermented raw nut cheese before, I couldn’t have imagined the buttery soft yet firm and even slightly gritty texture of the cheddar–just like dairy cheese. Next up, I ordered Alfredo Noodles made with raw salsify (yep, I even learned something new at Pure Food!). Finally, the meal was capped off with what may very well be the most decadent chocolate-mint sundae I’ve ever tasted. Behold:
[No, it didn't really glow with a thousand tiny diamonds, as appears in the this flash-enhanced photo. But I did have a bit of an afterglow when I ate it.]
After staying up too late despite that nasty flu bug, the HH and I ended the trip with a brunch at Cafe Blossom, where I indulged in raw nachos and an incomparable Farinata Puttanesca (chickpea crepe with caramelized onions, capers, olives–hold the mushrooms).
[Raw nachos and guacamole]
It all ended far too quickly, but as chance would have it, just in time: we flew out of the city literally hours before the city shut down. As I write this, many in the region are still without power or full utilities. It’s bizarre to me that many of the places we visited were flooded a couple of days later.
And what about the week since our return? Well, once I finally kicked that nasty flu bug, I got to the kitchen and testing recipes for the cookbook! Here’s a glimpse of what my testers have been cooking up (everything gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan!):
Sunshine Breakfast Loaf
Dalmatian Cheesecake Brownies
High Protein Waffles
. . . and much more! To get a peek at all of the testers’ own photos of what they’ve been baking, check out the cookbook Pinterest board.
Now that I’ve whetted your appetite. . . it’s time for a new recipe. I promise to bring one along later in the week.
Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to Diet, Dessert and Dogs via email. (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”)
As of this week, I have a contract with the fine folks at Sellers Publishing (who excel at producing high-quality, artistically designed, beautiful books) for a new, all gluten-free, refined-sugar free, and–of course–vegan cookbook!
This is the book many of you have been requesting for some time–and I’m so glad I can deliver!
The book will be a revised, updated and expanded version of Sweet Freedom, made to reflect more the way I cook and bake now: no gluten, with with lower glycemic sweeteners and with whole, real-food ingredients. The recipes are also allergy-friendly, with no dairy or eggs and many nut-free, soy-free and corn-free options as well. Recipes will range from breakfast foods like muffins, pancakes, biscuits and scones to cookies and bars, cakes, tarts and pies, puddings and ice creams, to raw treats and more. There will be over 30 new recipes that weren’t included in the first book. And I think they are all pretty delicious, too!
I am thrilled to be working on the book and so grateful for this opportunity. More than anything, I want to thank all of YOU for helping to make this happen--your continued support for this blog over the years, your wonderful comments and feedback about the recipes, your ideas and advice, all were essential in moving me toward this very book. So thank you, all, for continuing to visit me here, for reading and trying out my recipes, for letting me know what you think. I couldn’t be more grateful for this wonderful food blogging community!
I want the book to be something special that DDD readers will love to own.
I hope you’ll continue to help shape the contents of the book with your continued feedback, ideas, opinions and suggestions along the way (and feel free to start in the comments below: which recipes from Sweet Freedom are “must-keep,” remade as gluten-free? Which recipes from the blog absolutely must be included? What are some new recipes you’ve been dreaming of, that you’d love for me to develop without gluten or refined sweeteners? Dish, readers!).
I’m ecstatic about this new book–and I decided I wanted to do something special for one of YOU, too!
In order to express my thanks, I’ve created a very special giveaway: an individualized, custom box of hand-picked goodies from me to one of you! This is not a sponsored post; I am personally choosing and purchasing each of the items on my own. The prize will contain a selection of some of my favorite products that I’ve used or promoted on the blog, some fun kitchen tools, and a few other surprises! Once I select a winner, I’ll contact you so that I can further personalize the gift. For full details, see the end of this post!
Recipe renovations have already gotten underway in the DDD kitchen, and now I need your help!
I’m seeking recipe testers and hoping that some of you will be interested (and if you’ve tested for me previously you are of course welcome to return)! The book’s current projected publication date is Fall, 2013, so the testing will begin fairly soon and will run fairly quickly.
Here are the basic recipe parameters for recipe testers:
All recipes are gluten-free. You must be willing to purchase a variety of gluten-free flours (especially these four in my All-Purpose Mix, which is used most often; other flours, such as brown rice flour, sorghum, quinoa or amaranth will also be used occasionally).
All recipes are refined sugar-free. The most common sweeteners used in the recipes are coconut sugar, stevia, coconut nectar, and (very occasionally) agave. I will rarely use maple syrup or brown rice syrup.
Most recipes will be ACD-compliant, with a few suitable for ACD maintenance.
All recipes are vegan, of course!
The testing due dates and turnaround will be fairly quick; we will test throughout mid-September through end of November, 2012. You must be willing to commit to testing at least 8 recipes in that time.
All testers will be acknowledged in, and receive a complimentary copy of the finished book.
If you are interested, please email me at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom with the subject line, “Cookbook Tester.” I can’t wait to hear from you!
And now, THE GIVEAWAY!
What: A prize package of gluten-free, sugar-free foods and ingredients, kitchen tools, a cookbook, and a few other surprises, hand picked and purchased by me. Value: minimum $75.00.
Who: Open to anyone, anywhere.
When: Giveaway open until midnight my time on Friday, September 14, 2012.
What: To enter, simply leave a comment below, telling me any or all of the following: (a) what your favorite food is; (b) what kitchen tool you’ve been wishing for [EDIT, Sept 1/12: As much as I'd LOVE to get one of you a VitaMix--and judging by the comments, that's what most of you would like--as I mentioned, I am paying for these prizes out of my own pocket, and a VitaMix would send me waaaay over that $75 or so value for this prize!! LOL! For this item, I was thinking of smaller, hand-held kitchen tools that I could easily fit in your prize pack--like a whisk, a good knife, maybe a spiralizer, or whatever else you can think of! But really, I do wish I could get one of you a VitaMix--sorry I can't (hear that, VitaMix people?!)]; (c) which cookbook you wish you could have. BONUS ENTRIES: for extra entries, you can follow me on twitter, Facebook or Pinterest; tweet about this giveaway by clicking here; subscribe to DDD; or mention this on Facebook with a link to this post.
PLEASE BE SURE TO USE THE RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM, BELOW, FOR YOUR ENTRIES TO COUNT!
Good luck, everyone! Whoo hoo!
“That’s great news, Mum, especially since it means more recipe ‘testing’ for us, too! Whoo hoo, indeed!!”
[This post is part of an ongoing series of interviews with cookbook authors, bloggers, women entrepreneurs and home chefs whose work I enjoy and admire. If you've got someone in mind you'd like me to approach for an interview, please shoot me an email at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom, or leave a comment here and let me know! And now, enjoy today's installment!]
Today’s guest is someone I have admired for a very long time, ever since I bought her first cookbook, The Everyday Vegan. It was one of the first vegan cookbooks I owned, and it was a bit of a revelation (that tiramisu! those “neat” balls!). In the decade since she first shot to fame, Dreena Burton has since developed and maintained her reputation as a consummate recipe creator (her Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies are legendary), engaging writer (in her books and now on her blog, Plant Powered Kitchen), fabulous vegan role model and, not least, mom to three growing girls. (Being one of three sisters myself, I cannot imagine how she gets it all done–but she does!)
In fact, when I first thought about publishing a cookbook back in 2008, I contacted Dreena and asked if she’d mind sharing some information with me. Even though our connection was tenuous at best (someone she knew had taken several of my cooking classes back when I taught them in my home), she graciously agreed–and did so with incredible generosity. I was over the moon thrilled when she agreed to write a blurb for my book! Although we’ve never actually met in person, Dreena and I have gotten to know each other over the past few years via our blogs, Facebook, and being part of the vegan community. I’m delighted to be able to share a little more about her and her latest book, Let Them Eat Vegan, with you today!
I’m also sharing Dreena’s recipe for Chocolate Coconut-Goji Granola AND giving away a copy of her book! Skip to the bottom of the post for details.
[The soy-free "Momelet," here filled with "Vegveeta" for a delicious breakfast cheese omelet.]
Well, my recipes have always utilized whole foods, I think I became known as the “crunchy-granola vegan cookbook author” for many years! It’s always been important to me to use plenty of whole foods, and to maximize flavors while minimizing sweeteners and fats. With my previous books I did just that, but in my earlier cooking I included some refined flours and also a scattering of recipes with some processed vegan foods (not much, but some). Over the years, I evolved more into using whole-grain flours for baking (and wheat-free and gluten-free flours), and also simply using what I call “the vegan basics” (those beans, nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices). In Let Them Eat Vegan, I went full-steam-ahead with this concept, and I think this book represents not just how I’ve evolved as a vegan cook, but also represents an evolution in vegan cooking in general – with an emphasis on non-processed and minimally processed ingredients. All of the recipes in Let Them Eat Vegan are made with these “vegan basics”, for everyday plant-powered eating. You won’t find any ‘white processed stuff’ – no white flour, no white pasta or bread… and also no commercial vegan substitutes like vegan sour cream, mayonnaise, etc. The recipes are wheat-free and also largely gluten-free, and you’ll also find a sprinkling of raw delights for good measure.
Which recipe in the book would you say is most kid-friendly? Which one would you feed to skeptical omnivores?
Oooh, that’s tough. So many are kid-friendly as I make many of these recipes regularly for our family. Let’s see, some top picks for “kid-friendly” are: “BF Blueberry Muffins,” “Hempanana Smoothie,, “Chipotle Avocado Cream” (I know that sounds not very kid-friendly, but I omit the small amount of chipotle and our kids love this!), “Cheesy Sprinkle” (a fave with our girls for pasta, rice, beans, just about anything!), “Vegveeta Dip,” “Almond Roasted Cauliflower,” “Mac-Oh Geez”… and many healthy treats too (“Raw Orange Chocolate Pudding,” “Troll Cookies,” “Banana Butter Pie” to mention a few!).
Picks for omnis? That’s even harder for me to say, but I think some of the dishes that “wow” omnis so far are the “No-fu Love Loaf,” “Panfried Falafels with Quinoa Taboulleh and Smoky Tahini Sauce,” “Jerk Chickpeas,” and “Nutty Veggie Burgers.”
[Kale slaw with almond-curry dressing]
You devote an entire chapter in Let Them Eat Vegan to “Plant-Powered Lunchboxes” and the idea of packing healthy lunches for your vegan kids at school or out of the home. What would you say is the most important piece of advice for moms who are raising their kids as vegans?
I start with my motto that “kids come to love the foods they know”. If you are introducing new foods to your children – whether vegan or not – it may take some time. My girls wouldn’t want to drink cow’s milk or eat ham sandwiches or string cheese – all pretty typical school lunch fare. It’s not always about the food being vegan, but about the food becoming healthier. Working towards eating less processed, whole plant-based foods may take some adjustment for your children. But, remember that so many of the foods we eat are already vegan! Your children are already eating fruits and vegetables, grains, breads, pastas, and beans and possibly nuts and seeds. It’s about eating more of them, and combining them in some pretty fantastic ways! Our daughter said to me just the other day “Really all of our food is regular food – regular food that people eat anyway… just with no milk or meat!” If we can remember that it’s not “different”… but rather an expansion of what we already know, it becomes far more approachable and acceptable.
And, in terms of school lunches, it’s easier now than ever before for children to eat vegan. Not only is the word well known, and convenience products and foods far more available for quick lunch-fixes – there are so many allergies in schools that teachers and administrators are very accommodating of varying dietary needs. Many children are allergic to dairy, and of course many to nuts and peanuts. That is the only slight challenge with packing plant-powered lunches, is that just about every school has a “nut-free” policy. Still, there are PLENTY of other choices for packing lunches beyond pb&j (or even almondbutter&j)!
These days, with so many celebrities touting the benefits of veganism, scientific studies, documentaries, and a slew of vegan cookbooks, veganism is positively mainstream. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in how people view vegan diets, compared to when you first adopted a vegan diet 15 years ago?
As you’ve also surely noticed, being vegan is no longer fringe. When I started this journey almost 20 years ago, vegan was largely unknown. It felt almost embarrassing to say the word, knowing I would be unfairly judged for its stigma at the time. Vegan was ‘out there’, it signalled radical and extreme, and even unhealthy… when ironically a whole-foods vegan diet serves to promote health and reduce risks of disease! Now, the word vegan is widely known, it’s trendy, and sparks interest and curiosity more so than any negative judgements.
[Raw Carob-Goji Truffles]
Are any of your girls budding chefs as well? If so, what do they like to cook?
Not as much as people might think they would be! They like to get in the kitchen with me occasionally, but they have their own very individual interests. Our eldest (11 years) loves (loves!) to read and draw, and also play hockey. Our middle daughter (7 years) is very musical and loves to sing and dance and has music blaring in the background most of the day! And, our “wee one” (3 years) – not quite sure where her interests are at this point. Maybe she will return the cooking love in years to come.
If you had to eat one food every day for the rest of your life, which food would you choose?
Ice cream. With a side of dark chocolate. (And as much as beans and greens sound like a boring answer, they run a close second, I love beans SO much, eat them every day – and usually in some form in a big green salad!)
[Creamy Eggplant Dip]
The Everyday Vegan was one of the first vegan cookbooks I bought, and I still consult it regularly when I’m looking for reliable recipes that I know I’ll enjoy; you are one of my culinary role models (thanks!). Who are your role models when it comes to cooking?
That is so lovely to know, Ricki. I really appreciate that. Some of my early mentors and teachers may not be well known to many of your readers. Some were Canadian chefs and cooks that I learned a lot from in their tv shows, and books and more. James Barber, “the urban peasant”; Bonnie Stern, Ken and Mary Jo from What’s for Dinner? – these chefs taught me some of the basics about using basics! Using things like fresh herbs and vegetables, and citrus, and beans – and even tofu! And, one of my first cookbooks was The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen – a classic. There are others I still learn from – not vegan chefs, but chefs that really teach intricacies about flavors and ingredients – like Bobby Flay and Jamie Oliver.
Thanks so much, Dreena! It was such a pleasure learning more about you, your recipes and your approach to cooking.
And thanks, too, for letting me share this recipe for Cocoa-Goji Granola. I loved this cereal (well, duh–chocolate AND goji berries?!). And unlike most cold cereals, the millet here stayed crunchy right down to the last spoonful (of which there were many).
recipe provided by Dreena Burton, with permission, from Let Them Eat Vegan
This granola is lightly sweetened, rather than sickly sweet as some commercial varieties of granola can be. Full of healthful ingredients, it makes a great snack to eat straight out of your hand! [Ricki's note: yes, it does!! ]
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dry millet
3/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (see note)
3-4 tbsp unrefined sugar [I used coconut sugar; Dreena recommends sucanat or date sugar as other good choices]
¼ cup sunflower seeds (see note)
¼ cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp (little scant) sea salt
1/2 cup brown rice syrup [I used coconut nectar]
3 tbsp organic extra-virgin coconut oil (at room temperature so softened, see note)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 – ½ cup goji berries (or raisins, see note)
1 tsp orange zest
Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine the rolled oats, dry millet, hemp seeds, coconut, sugar, sunflower seeds, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and stir until well mixed. Add the brown rice syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla and stir well (see note). Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet and spread out to distribute evenly. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times throughout the baking process to ensure the mixture browns evenly. Remove from oven, stir in the goji berries and orange zest, and let cool completely. Serve with cold nondairy milk, and store in an airtight container.
If This Apron Could Talk: If your coconut oil isn’t warmed until liquefied, take a shortcut! Simply toss all ingredients as best you can and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. After 2 to 3 minutes of baking, the oil will have melted. Remove your baking sheet from the oven and now toss everything until well combined. Back into the oven it goes, but do re- member to stir a couple of times again during the total baking time.
Savvy Subs and Adds:
1) Chopped almonds are a natural complement to the orange and cocoa flavors in this granola, so feel free to replace the sunflower seeds (and/or the coconut) with some chopped almonds.
2) Not everyone is fond of goji berries. Feel free to substitute raisins or even cranberries (or combination of both) for the goji berries. Add them at the same time in the recipe, just after removing the granola from the oven.
Win a copy of Dreena’s latest cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan, just by leaving a comment here! (Be sure to leave the comment through the Rafflecopter entry form, below, as well, or it won’t register as an entry). That’s it!
You can also gain extra entries by doing any of the following: follow me or Dreena on twitter or facebook; tweeting about this giveaway; or sharing it on Facebook. (Remember that each option is a separate entry and you’ll need to do it through the form below).
The giveaway will remain open until 11:59 PM my time (EST) on Friday, August 3rd, after which point I’ll choose a winner at random and let them know via email. If I don’t hear back from the winner winner within 3 days, I’ll choose another winner.
Before I begin this review–and in the spirit of full disclosure–I must confess to you all that my opinions in this blog post are biased.
No, not because I was paid to do this review (which I wasn’t); not because I received a free copy of the book (which I did); and not because I was asked to write something specific by the publishers (which I wasn’t). No, it’s because my own personal views of the author and her work have undoubtedly influenced what I will write here.
You see, ever since I first discovered the cookbooks of Nava Atlas (classics like Vegetariana; or Vegan Express; or Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews) , I’ve been in love with her recipes. They tend to embody “my” kind of food: mostly whole foods, lots of comfort-food dishes, innovative and interesting combinations of flavors, textures, spices and herbs. Good, hearty fare.
And while we’re on the topic of true confessions, let me also admit that when I find myself with a bunch of unassigned broccoli in my fridge, or a few lone kiwis in the fruit bowl, or a butternut squash lingering on the counter, it’s to Atlas’s books that I turn first to see what she’ll offer. I have never made a Nava Atlas recipe that didn’t work according to directions; and I’ve never made a Nava Atlas recipe that I didn’t like.
So, with that declaration off my chest (whew!), and both Easter and Passover just around the corner, I’ll move right to my review of the book. And I’m sure it will be no surprise to learn that I think highly of this one, too.
As it turns out, most of us do judge a book by its cover, and Vegan Holiday Kitchenis a visually beautiful book. Warm, earthy tones and opulent gilt edging grace its cover (along with a show-stopping photo by Susan Voisin–she of Fat Free Vegan fame–whose photos also occupy the interior of the book). The exceptional production values are evident throughout, from paper that’s thick and sturdy, to text that’s easy to read, to additional tips and notes and winsome line drawings (which I assume are Atlas’s own–the woman is also a talented visual artist) on chapter headers. Recipes are written in an easy-to-follow, clear and concise style, each one indicating specific dietary restrictions for which it is suitable.
The introduction offers various useful tips on how to navigate the holiday season as a vegan who may be strapped for time, invited to an omnivorous celebration, hosting an event, or wishing to make certain dishes ahead of time (while not Atlas’s preference, she does include a few pointers nonetheless).
Chapters cover all major holidays such as Thanksgiving; Christmas (and the attendant holiday season in general); Jewish holidays (Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah); Independence Day and Summer Entertaining (applicable to any summer holiday); and an entire chapter on Brunches, Appetizers and Potluck Dishes (for which this brunch lover was very grateful). Each chapter begins with an entertaining and informative section that discusses the holiday and how it can be adapted as a vegan celebration.
The first recipe I made may well be the most famous from the book (at least, I keep seeing photos of it floating around the blogosphere): the Red Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn. Deceptively simple to put together, this is a filling, warming and satisfying dish highlighted by an unusual pairing of rosemary and cumin. I took Atlas’s advice and added beans to convert the side dish to a main meal. The smoky roasted peppers complemented the sweet, juicy pop of corn kernels and firm bite of kale in each mouthful. This would make a wonderful autumn or winter dish for any occasion.
Next up was the Squash, Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder. Initially, I chose this soup as a vehicle to use up the rest the bag of organic corn I’d purchased for the pilaf (and since I love sweet potatoes beyond measure, I’m happy to eat themanywhichway). Upon reading the recipe (which combines butternut squash along with the sweet potato in a slightly sweet, slightly chunky soup), I was concerned that the spices might prove too strong for the delicate flavors of the vegetables. But once the soup simmered according to instructions, it softened and developed a perfectly smooth and subtle flavor with a great savory undertone. The HH had nothing but praise for this one and made me promise to make it again.
Finally, I turned to the Spectacular Spring Salad. With my recent decision to cut back a bit on grains, I’ve been enjoying a variety of salads, most of them featuring my favorite green, kale, as the base. Since we don’t regularly consume the bitter greens in this salad (watercress, arugula and radicchio), it seemed like a good choice. Combined with more common ingredients such as radishes, avocado and carrots, it was, indeed, a spectacular tangle with greens, sprouts and seeds. Tossed with a simple, fresh dressing, it created a perfect first course.
On my list of recipes still to try are Moroccan-Flavored Tofu with Apricots and Olives; Corn Fritters with Cilantro Sauce; Watermelon and Peach Gazpacho; White Bean and Sun-dried Tomato Pate; Sweet Potato-Poppyseed Coleslaw; and Rice and Pecan Stuffed Squash. But honestly, this list is bound only by my dietary restrictions; if I could eat mushrooms, or gluten (some of the recipes for desserts look divine), or maple syrup, well–I’d likely have tagged every single recipe in the book.
I may be biased, but if you’re heading into the holidays next week still looking for menu options; or if you’ve invited someone at your table to whom you’d like to give a worthwhile gift; or if you’re planning ahead for warm weather Bar-B-Q’s and brunches–well, get yourself to the closest bookstore buy Vegan Holiday Kitchen. I know that, like Atlas’s other books in my collection, this one is destined to be my go-to source any time I’m planning a special occasion meal.
[I should have just given up on the sticky notes, because I want to try Every. Single. Recipe. in this book!!]
Okay, so if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time at all, you know that I am decidedly not the type of gal to attend a rave. (Read: too old. And even when I wasn’t too old, I was too health conscious. And, well, even when I wasn’t too old or too health conscious, I was too nerdy.). So when I say, “rave,” you probably know I’m referring to the verb rather than the noun; as in, “I simply can’t rave enough about this spectacular new cookbook that has quickly assumed a place among my all-time favorites!” (And believe me, with over 200 cookbooks cramming my shelves at the moment, that is saying a lot).
Full disclosure: as with most reviews I write here on DDD, this book was provided free of charge by Christy’s publishers and I was not required to write anything positive about it (or anything at all, for that matter). You may know Christy Morgan as “The Blissful Chef,” whose blog,ebooks and live cooking classes have been offering up healthy, delicious recipes to eager masses for several years now. Christy also chronicles her culinary adventures (from LA to Texas and elsewhere), on her Facebook page.
Before we begin, however, I feel I must be entirely honest and admit that I was already somewhat biased in favor of the book even before receiving it. You see, I had done a review of one of her previous ebooks, Cooking with the Seasons: Summer Edition, last year, so I already knew I had loved those recipes and suspected I’d like these as well. Perhaps even more important, I was aware that Christy’s focus on traditional plant-based diets (vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, low fat and raw foods) jibed well with the ACD and I’d probably find lots of recipes I could eat within my dietary restrictions, with a minimum of adjustments to boot.
Well, let me tell you, this book is aptly titled. I was literally blissed out as I leafed through this gorgeous tome, which provides not only a full explanation of Christy’s approach to food and eating; a complete list of pantry basics and tools plus various chef’s techniques (now you’ll know just how to chiffonade–perfectly!); over 175 recipes organized by seasons (as well as “anytime”); but also a full resources section at the back and a metric conversion table. The full-color photos offer mouth-watering illustrations of many of the recipes, and the book’s pages are printed on thick, sturdy paper, an important detail when you plan to subject your book to repeated, regular usage (as I most definitely do!).
I literally couldn’t decide what to make first, there were so many recipes that appealed to me–and that I was permitted to have on the ACD! Should I try the Orange-Pumpkin-Ginger French Toast? Or perhaps the Asian Millet and Quinoa Pilaf? Maybe the Blissful Two-Bean Harvest Chili? Eventually, I settled on Kale Salad with Curry-Coconut Sauce, simply because I already had all the ingredients on hand.
[Damn these dark winter evenings. . . this photo totally does not do the dish justice!]
I’m going to preface this next comment by saying that the HH is a very picky omnivore. In other words, he has no trouble whatsoever eating hocks, haunches, brains, kidneys, hearts–even intestines of animals, but will balk at “veggie” foods I serve, such as grated daikon radish (“What is that? Anemic carrot?“), chia seeds (“Looks like fish droppings“) or spirulina (“Isn’t that the water you cleaned your brush in for your watercolor painting?”). Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled about eating a salad with arame (seaweed) as a major player.
Well, we both swooned over this salad. When I first read the ingredient list, I was a bit concerned about the quantities in the sauce–it seemed like SO much spice–but mixed with the still-moist kale and arame, it was perfect. A spicy, creamy, slightly nutty coating on firm, toothsome kale with light marine influences. I simply loved it, and the HH even requested it again!
Next up was the Broccoli Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing. If you’re familiar with that once-ubiquitous broccoli salad from buffets a few years back, this dish will evoke memories of those times. . .but vastly improved. The piquant dijon is balanced by the sweet (I used stevia instead of the suggested maple syrup); the crispy, green and fresh with a creamy sauce and crunch of radishes. An aesthetically pleasing as well as flavorful mix of ingredients.
We also thoroughly enjoyed the Wasabi Sweet Potato Salad, which had been beckoning me from the moment I first spied the recipe. I adore sweet potatoes, of course, and have had them spiced in sweet potato fries, but never with something quite so hot as wasabi. Again, I wondered at the proportions of the spice mix in the ingredients, but should have trusted Christy. The sum worked out to be greater than the parts, and I loved this salad as well (I had run out of the called-for cucumbers, so subbed radish instead; still worked wonderfully). I could have eaten the entire batch by myself!
[I swear, it's not tomato sauce! But even tastier.]
Next up was another ingenious, fantastic recipe: the Mama Mia Magnifico Sauce, ideal for those who are either allergic to tomatoes or can’t eat nightshade vegetables (eg, those with arthritis). I didn’t tell the HH that this sauce was tomato-free, and he had absolutely no idea. When I finally let the cat out of the bag, he was genuinely surprised and commented that this was “as good as any tomato-based pasta sauce we’ve ever had.” I concur. I loved it on pasta, of course, but also used it the next day on a grain-free pizza crust, and later, defrosted, with crumbled frozen tofu for a sloppy joe lunch. You’ll be amazed by this one!
And I just couldn’t resist one more. . . while I don’t eat many sandwiches (or much bread at all, for that matter), I have always made an exception for Reubens, one of the most satisfying combinations of protein, complex carbs and creamy dressing I can imagine in existence. I couldn’t resist giving Christy’s healthified version a try. The marinated tempeh and tangy Russian-style dressing complemented each other marvelously, and the use of avocado in lieu of standard melted cheese was a brilliant way to incorporate the smooth creaminess you’d expect without the dairy or any artificial ingredients. The HH actually ate two of these (as open-faced sandwiches). With leftovers the next day, I enjoyed mine à la raw, wrapped in a crisp collard leaf, like so:
I literally can’t wait to cook through this entire book (counting the days until I can use maple syrup again. . . ), there are so many appealing recipes in it.
If you’re looking for a cookbook filled with mouth watering, healthy and flavorful plant-based recipes that are also impressive to the eye, I’d recommend Blissful Bitesas your first choice. I love that Christy focuses on whole foods ingredients, low fat and low sweeteners (and when she does use sweeteners, they’re all natural, like maple syrup or brown rice syrup). If you’re on a restricted diet (as I am), this book will likely still offer up a plethora of recipes you can enjoy.
Now, go out and find your Bliss(ful Bites)! (PS. Just checked–if you order through amazon.com, you can still receive it in time for Christmas with 2-day shipping!).
And Happy Hanukkah to everyone who’s celebrating tonight!
This is a healthy plant-based take on salads you may have had at a salad bar or at potlucks. It is easy to make and will be a crowd-pleaser at get-togethers. It’s also a great way to use leftover beans. if you throw in some cooked quinoa, it makes a one-pot meal perfect to take to work for lunch.
1 large crown broccoli, cut into florets
1 large carrot, grated
1 cup (240 ml) cooked chickpeas, or 1 can (15 oz/500 ml) drained and rinsed
We’re into our last week of A Gluten Free Holiday 2011! You can still enter over at Maggie’s blog to win one of two great cookbooks, until this coming Wednesday, December 21st. She’ll announce the winners shortly after that.