Category Archives: Vegan

Chewy Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

When I was little, carrots were my favorite vegetable. Now, I can’t really get excited about them. I think it’s because they’re so hit-or-miss – sometimes you get a really good one that makes you think about your vegetable rankings (what, you don’t rank your favorite vegetables? or favorite everything?), but sometimes you get one so foul tasting you have to spit it out and throw the rest away.  Is that just me? Couldn’t be.

I bought a few (3) carrots the other day and cut one up to eat with lunch. I ate it with our new house favorite almond butter – Barney Butter. While the Barney Butter is fantastic, the carrot just wasn’t doing anything for me. I didn’t want to waste the other two carrots, but I know myself and know I would eat them before they went bad, so I grated them and put them in a container to add to salads or sandwiches (it dilutes the carrot-y taste).

The next day as I was about to make some homemade granola bars, I stumbled upon this recipe for Carrot Walnut Cookies from Whole Foods and decided I had to make them instead. It was fate – I already had my 2 carrots grated in the fridge, just waiting for me to add them into this healthy cookie.

Stuffed with only whole grains, and sweetened with only fruit (no added sugar!), this is the perfect way to get some fruit, vegetables, fiber, protein and healthy fats into your breakfast. You could eat these any time of day really, but I think they’d be the perfect Easter breakfast before you spend the rest of the day stuffing yourself with candy.

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies
(adapted from Whole Foods)

1 cup raw unsalted walnuts
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 carrots, grated
1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup orange juice

Combine walnuts, oats, and raisins in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Add carrots, apples, banana, and juice and stir until combined. drop by rounded tablespoons an inch apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment. Press down lightly on each cookie with your fingers or the back of the spoon/disher to flatten them slightly. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops and bottoms are lightly browned. Serve warm. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. They also freeze well.

Yield: 25 cookies

The one classic carrot cake ingredient missing from the recipe is coconut, and while you can easily add it to the dough, I decided to pour some warm, homemade coconut butter into the little bowl I made on top when I flattened them with the cookie disher.

They kinda look like little birds nests!

These are so quick and easy to make, and a wise way to start Easter or any day!


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Filed under Baked Goodies, Breakfast, Recipes, Vegan

Meatless Monday: Vegan Mac & Cheese

We’ve been doing the Meatless Monday thing pretty much for the entirety of our marriage so far. It’s been fun trying new recipes and realizing that you don’t need an animal protein to make a meal. Some of our favorite veg recipes are things like black bean burgers, tofu curry, eggplant parmesan, and this recipe for vegan mac & cheese. Admittedly, when I first made it I added a can of tuna and called it tuna casserole. Brett asked for seconds and couldn’t stop telling me how good it was. Even when I told him what was in it he didn’t change his mind. The flavors are great and really adaptable to any taste. It makes a great side dish with plenty of leftovers, or a main dish that will definitely fill you up.

Vegan Mac & Cheese
(adapted from the edible perspective)

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped (or about 1 cup of any mild vegetable such as carrots, cauliflower, etc.)
½ small onion, peeled and chopped (about ¼-1/3 cup)
1 1/2 cups raw cashews and/or almonds (in any ratio)
1 1/3 cup unsweetened, unflavored milk substitute
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard
12-16 ounces pasta (any type you would use for mac & cheese)
1 slice bread (or fresh breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon Earth Balance (vegan margarine)

Boil sweet potatoes and onion in a medium pot until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside. Add nuts and milk to blender. Process until smooth. Add the garlic, lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast, pepper, and mustard and process until smooth. Add boiled and drained vegetables and process until all combined. Cook pasta in boiling water for 7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Mix together cheese sauce and pasta. Pour into a greased casserole dish and sprinkle paprika over top. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, process slice of bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. Melt butter and combine with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over baked casserole and place under the broiler for 3 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Serves approximately 4-6 as a main course

Nutritional yeast is probably the only ingredient that would be hard to find. I get it out of the bulk bins at Whole Foods, but I’ve also seen it in the natural section at grocery stores (Bob’s Red Mill is a national brand that might be easiest to find). You don’t want to leave it out because it’s what gives the casserole its cheesy flavor (Read more about it here).

Also, if the strict vegan thing doesn’t matter to you, regular cow’s milk and butter work just fine in this (probably better, especially the butter). Once you blend the sauce, give it a taste. You might want to add some fresh herbs, or some cayenne for a little heat. And it does make a great tuna casserole with just the addition of one can of tuna. Like Ashley says on her blog, I can’t imagine someone not liking this. Try it!


Filed under Meatless Monday, Recipes, Vegan

Holiday Spiced Almond Butter

This Christmas, I wanted to make something for my friends and family that would be interesting and delicious. I did just that.

The first two jars are recipes I found on the edible perspective, the last (Honey Vanilla and Flax Almond Butter) was something I developed from a few of her recipes. I don’t think I could pick a favorite recipe of the three, they’re all so unique and delicious. We don’t use a lot of nut butters around here (Brett’s allergic to peanuts and addicted to Biscoff spread) but this was gone in days. We added it to oatmeal, spread it on English muffins and toast, ate it with a spoon… etc. And it’s so much cheaper than buying almond butter in the store (I may have payed $16 for a jar once) and you can control your ingredients and sugar levels. It also makes a great gift!

Holiday Spiced Almond Butter
(from the edible perspective)

2 cups raw almonds
3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses, divided
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, or more according to desired consistency

Spread almonds on parchment on a baking sheet. Pour on 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon molasses. Stir with hands so that all nuts are covered. Roast for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring once every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes. Pour into food processor and turn on. Process and scrape down bowl as needed, until it butterizes (10-15 minutes, past the stage where it turns into a ball of “dough”). Stop food processor and add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of molasses and 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and all of oil, spices, and salt. Process again until smooth consistency is met (another 5-8 minutes, past the second dough ball stage). You can add more oil if you want a smoother, more “drippy” almond butter. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Almonds coated with goodness. I use Grade B maple syrup because it has more flavor and less sugar. Win-win.

All of the in-process additions.

Hot out of the oven. There may have been a few of these that didn’t make it to the food processor…

Warning about processing: the first 30 seconds is very LOUD! Hold your ears. About 8 minutes into processing, the mixture will turn into this ball of “dough” that just circles around and around the outside of the food processor. This means your close to your goal!

Final product: about 1 1/2 cups of yumminess. This lasted about a week.


One word of advice: don’t double or half the recipe. This amount works great in a normal-sized food processor. I tried to double it and my (admittedly old. but great-working) food processor started smoking. If you cut in in half (which you would regret as soon as you immediately hit the bottom of the jar), I’m not sure there would be enough mass for the food processor to work with.

Happy butterizing!

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Filed under Recipes, Sauces & Spreads, Vegan

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

Do you like to eat raw cookie dough? We do. Very much. Proof: when I make a batch of chocolate chip cookies, I cook about 8 for us to eat warm, then scoop the rest and put them in the freezer, meant to be cooked “à la minute.” This is a really good idea, especially if there are only two of you in a house and one of you likes to make cookies faster than they can eat them. But usually the thought of waiting for the oven to preheat and the cookies to bake is too much at the end of the day, and we just enjoy the frozen cookie dough balls as dessert.

Yes, raw eggs can be scary. I’ve taken plenty of microbiology and food safety classes and know all about the dangers of Salmonella. But. It’s never made me sick (that I know of. Knock on wood). My love of raw eggs and runny yolks outweighs any fears of food-borne illness. (it also helps my confidence to purchase local farm fresh eggs). But if the idea of eating raw eggs isn’t your thing, or you’re pregnant, a young child, or an older adult (the most susceptible groups to food-borne illnesses), this is the recipe for you. It’s also the recipe for you if you want to satisfy your cookie dough craving but with something you’ll feel better about eating. It’s also the recipe for you if you’ve always wanted to eat cookie dough for breakfast without shame. Pretty much its a recipe for anyone.

(This is my first recipe I’ve made from MamaPea, and I can’t wait to make more! Her post are hilarious and heart-warming, and her food always sounds soo good that it makes being a vegan sound easy and delicious!)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

1 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup dried pitted dates (~14 whole dates)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 cup chocolate chips

Add almonds to a food processor. Process until they are the consistency of wet sand. Set the almonds aside, and add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor. Process until a paste forms, then add the almonds back in. Pulse until it all comes together and forms a dough. Empty food processor bowl onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a rectangle. refrigerate for at least one hour and cut into bars. Enjoy without hesitation!

The only thing I changed from MamaPea’s recipe was using dried dates instead of fresh. Since the dried have less moisture, I upped the amount to make sure the “dough” would come together. I probably could have used up to 1 cup of dates, but I only got 14 from the bulk bin so I made do.

The processed almonds in the bowl, with all of the ingredients minus the chocolate chips. I haven’t had to buy vanilla extract for a year thanks to gifts from flavor vendors. This big of a bottle would have cost $10+, easy.

Everything chopped up before combining.

The dough poured out on plastic wrap.

And formed into a block!

After 1 unbearable hour I took them out of the fridge to cut into squares and taste.

Yum yum yummm! Seriously, these are so good you won’t even think about the stuff made with loads of butter and sugar and raw eggs. Really. Save that stuff for baking. I think its the vanilla extract that makes it. And the salt. As you can see, my 14 dates didn’t hold the bars together completely, but I rolled all of those little crumbs into a ball and it was still delicious.

MamaPea made these before she tried the new Cookie Dough Larabars, and once she compared the two she claimed she ended up making a better version. I 100% agree. Her bars just have the essence of cookie dough that Lara’s are missing.

And Larabars are good, but they’re expensive! I’ve seen them range from $1.29-$1.79 for one 45 gram bar. I made the equivalent of 8 bars with mostly organic ingredients (organic dates and almonds from the bulk bin at Whole Foods, organic chocolate chips) for approximately $5 total – less than half the price! I don’t think I’ll ever buy one again!

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Filed under Raw, Recipes, Snacks, Vegan

Tomato Sauce

To continue with the theme of having way too many tomatoes and needing a way to convert them into a food that would be consumed by both members of our household, I present you with a recipe for tomato sauce.

I adapted this recipe from a food blog idol of mine, Kath from KathEats. It is her mom’s recipe for tomato sauce that she always raves about, and since I had a million tomatoes to eat, and I recently picked up a bottle of sherry, I figured it was the perfect time to try it out!

I made just a few changes just because of  my lack of pantry-stocking; I didn’t have tomato paste so I substituted a tablespoon of pomodori agrodolci… not really the same but I wanted to add a little dense, cooked tomato flavor and that is what I had. I also didn’t have any sun-dried tomatoes but I think the pomag (my new nickname for the stuff – much easier to say & type) flavor made up for that as well. And I skipped the sugar since the pomag is so sweet on its own.

(Here is the link to Kath’s original recipe, along with much much better pictures of the process!)

Homemade Tomato Sauce

13 roma-size tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon pomadori agrodolci (or 1 can tomato paste + 1 teaspoon sugar)
1/4 cup sherry wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 handful fresh basil (if you have it)
1 large roasted red pepper, chopped

Saute garlic in a large pan or dutch oven. Add chopped tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached. Process in a food processor or with an immersion blender if you want a less rustic sauce. Serve immediately or refrigerate and enjoy within a week.

First, I chopped all of the tomatoes we had. I didn’t count, but it was probably about 10 roma-sized tomatoes and one large heirloom tomato (the purple one!).

The chopped tomatoes with Kath’s recipe in the background – a typical sight in my kitchen.

Next I got the garlic going in some olive oil.

Then I added all the tomatoes to simmer for about 15 minutes.

Then I forgot to take any more pictures until I was done. Here is one to show the consistency of the final sauce.

The sauce and the vessel that made it all possible. I love my Le Creuset French oven. It almost makes cooking on electric bearable.

As with most first-time recipes, it needed a couple tweeks. The flavor was very good, but as with the pomag, I wish I had processed the tomatoes before cooking because the skins rolled up and formed pointy sticks in the sauce. I’m new to cooking tomatoes (I’ve never had so many at once!) so I’m learning as I go. Next time I would definitely add the tomato paste to give it some more body. Also, I would process it after cooking to make it less chunky and more Brett-friendly. We enjoyed this sauce in a yummy eggplant parmesan that I will share the recipe for soon (it is eggplant season!).

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Filed under Recipes, Sauces & Spreads, Vegan, Vegetarian

Pomodori Agrodolci

There’s a tiny shop in downtown Lexington called Oliva Bella. We used to drive past this shop every week for three years and wonder, “How can an Olive Oil Shop exist??” (We were young and naive!)

When I moved just a few blocks away from the shop in my last semester of college, I finally decided to go in. And let me tell you, I wasted those three years not going into that store. The tiny shop is full of artisan breads, real, aged balsamic vinegar, beautiful chocolate truffles, and olive oil imported from Italy. The owners immediately welcome you in and feed you anything and everything they have to sample. Each of the three olive oils the shop sells come from a family farm that produces only enough oil for themselves and the store. Each has a distinctly unique flavor, all worthy of drinking straight from the bottle. They often create recipes with their products and allow people to sample them, including pastas, sauces, and these amazing sweet and sour jams, one tomato and one with Vidalia onions. As soon as I tried the sweet, dark, rich tomato jam, I knew I had to have more. I brought a jar when I moved home at Christmastime, and my mom and sisters and I devoured it within weeks. I bought a jar for my mom and one for myself the next time I was in Lexington, and before I knew it, my mom was calling me to commiserate over seeing the bottom of our jars.

Spread it on french bread, add it to tomato sauce, spread it on crackers and melt cheese on top, add it to mac & cheese, or just eat it with a spoon. The Oliva Bella website also has a page of recipe ideas using the stuff. The possibilities are endless, though unfortunately the jar is not.

A few weeks ago, we got 3 1/2 pounds of tomatoes from our CSA. Being the only tomato-eater in the house (Brett hates fresh tomatoes), I knew I had to do something drastic. After giving a couple away, we still had about 2 1/2 pounds left.

2 1/2 pounds of tomatoes and 2 pounds of  sweet peppers in one week?! Is this a normal portion for 2 people?

As I watched them slowly ripen more and more, I racked my brain trying to think of something I could do that would either preserve them, or at least make Brett interested in sharing the load. I finally remembered this stuff. My mom kept the label from the jar with the ingredient list, just in case she every felt like trying to replicate it. She gladly sent me the list and I got to work. After 10 looong hours of waiting and stirring and filling our apartment with wonderful smells, it was finally ready to taste.

Pomodori Agrodolci

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 small onion or 3 small shallots, minced
salt + pepper

Combine all ingredients in an oven-safe dutch oven or baking dish. Roast uncovered at 275 degrees for 9-10 hours, stirring every two hours, until it reaches a thick consistency and a deep brownish-red color. Fill into an airtight containter, refrigerate and enjoy!

All the ingredients in the pot – too pretty to pass up a picture!

The final product – from 3 pounds of vegetables to not even filling a pint-size mason jar halfway. Not nearly as pretty but sooo good!

I cut the tomatoes in 2-3-inch dices, but next time would cut them smaller (or as my mom suggested use a food processor), only because the skin rolled up and formed little sticks. They don’t affect the flavor, just the appearance. Also, the only hot sauce I had at the time was Cholula Chile & Lime, which I didn’t think would compliment the other ingredients so I left it out. I didn’t miss it, but I would add a few splashes next time. Also, I don’t think I added any salt & pepper. It couldn’t hurt though!

If you’re ever in Lexington, I would definitely recommend stopping at Oliva Bella and trying everything they offer to feed you!

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Filed under Recipes, Sauces & Spreads, Vegan, Vegetarian