Chocolate Deliciousness | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Eighteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Today is Chocolate Cupcake Day,
but you can make anything you want with chocolate!

This VeganMoFo, I tell ya. I’ll be honest: I’m a little disappointed that I haven’t been able to share as many brand-new original recipes as I’d have liked. Chalk it up to a few factors — being on vacation during the first few days of the month; being busy with freelance work; various recipes failing on the first try — but there it is.

Today, another sob story: I wanted to share a recipe for a super chocolaty banana soft serve, but alas, my bananas did not cooperate. They were either too ripe (like, I put them in the freezer when they were black  and smooshy and now their only possible use is for banana bread) or too unripe (I refuse — REFUSE — to eat bananas when any green is showing on the stem).

Then I thought I might make some chocolate aquafaba mousse, because I’ve never made one that truly succeeded. But Steven is avoiding added sugar at the moment, and I didn’t want to make something he couldn’t eat. (And I do think some sugar is required for a dish like this.)

Then I got sick! It’s a minor cold, but I am not up to the triple threat that is preparing a post for a new recipe (cooking the food and documenting the recipe; staging and photographing the food; editing the photos of the food). So, instead, please accept this  chocolate recipe round-up — and my sincere apologies for not giving you more. Luckily I’ve already made and shot the recipe for tomorrow, so at least I’ll have something new to share then! In the meantime… CHOCOLATE.

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

Vegan brownies

Vegan chocolate cookies and bars

  • Isa’s fantastic Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodles. I haven’t made these in a while, but they’re always amazing.
  • Chocolate peppermint crinkles — perfect for the holidays!
  • Chocolate-covered cookie dough bars.

Vegan chocolate cakes, pies, and tarts

Vegan chocolate puddings and frozen treats

Vegan chocolate drinks, boozy and not

Vegan chocolate candies and fudge

  • KINDER BUENO BARS, veganized. I really, really need to make these.
  • Five-ingredient salted caramel peanut butter truffles.
  • Chocolate-topped buttercrunch toffee. Yes, please.
  • Good ol’ fashioned fudge.

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Vegan Spiked Maple-Molasses Mug | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Seventeen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Let’s get boozy! Food involving booze, like beer brats, Welsh rarebit or a boozy dessert. Feel free to make a non-alcoholic version if you prefer.

It is perhaps not in the spirit of this prompt to offer up a recipe for a drink. But I made this delightful hot beverage the other night and knew I had to share, so I’m flouting the rules.

You might recall the hot molasses mug I shared during VeganMoFo 2014. It remains one of my favorite cold-weather beverages, a surprisingly nutritious and warming drink that’s superbly easy to prepare. Not satisfied leaving well enough alone, however, I took it a step further this weekend and added a healthy pour of my favorite maple liqueur. Holy smokes! It’s delicious, and just in time for the cooler weather. Forget hot toddies; this spiked hot maple-molasses mug is my new favorite boozy drink for the cold months.

Vegan spiked maple-molasses mug For added deliciousness, I topped my mug with aquafaba whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Additions like those are optional but delicious. ;)

(As a side note… did you know that you can make a single (well, single-ish) serving of aquafaba whipped cream with a  powerful immersion blender?! Game changer! I didn’t even bother with the cream of tartar and it worked fine.)

A caveat: If you’re not fortunate enough to have maple liqueur in your liquor cabinet, you can most likely substitute about 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup and a scant shot of bourbon or something similar. I haven’t played with alternatives like that, so let me know if you try it! Or go buy some maple liqueur. It’s worth it.

Spiked Maple-Molasses Mug

Serves one

  • 1 cup almond milk (or other nondairy milk of choice)
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 1 shot (or more?!) maple liqueur
  • Dash pure vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, warm the almond milk until it begins steaming. (You can also microwave it if you’d like.) Transfer to a mug and add the molasses, maple liqueur, and vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously until combined. Enjoy.

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Vegan spiked maple-molasses mug // govegga.com

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Survival Food | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Sixteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Survival food: There’s a zombie apocalypse!  What can you make
from just canned or foraged food?

So… at what stage is the apocalypse? Like, is society so far gone that we have no electricity? Have I depleted all my other shelf-stable provisions? What season is it? I need more information!

‘Round these parts, I could “forage” fresh veggies (well… tomatoes) from my garden during the spring and summer, and herbs for a bit longer. Depending on the season, paw-paws and various berries (black- and rasp-) are pretty abundant in parks and along the roads. Dandelion greens are probably pretty easy to snag, too. And I could always loot a nursery for edible flowers.

I guess that if the apocalypse were nigh and I had time to prepare, I would stock my pantry with beans and other shelf-stable items that don’t require cooking for safety. I would also make a ton of vegan jerky and try to vacuum-seal it or something. I dunno, man.

Meh. This prompt doesn’t really excite me. I considered making like, a mixed-bean salad or something that doesn’t need to be cooked, but I didn’t actually want to eat it.

Here’s a picture of Moria instead. Good thing her dog food is shelf-stable!

Moria on my lap

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Spice Drawer Tour | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Fifteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Spicy! Talk us through your spice rack or cook with your favourite spice.

Well, since I’ve already let y’all in to my kitchen, I might as well own up to my shameful spice situation! Here it is: I store my spices in five very different spots throughout the kitchen, because no one cupboard or hidey-hole provides easy enough access to them. Sigh!

Kitchen tour - spicesI buy quite a few of my spices in bulk, which makes these racks and spice jars from good ol’ Ikea just perfect. Here I keep things like turmeric, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and mustard seeds, among others. They’re within easy reach when I’m cooking and don’t look too shabby on the wall there. You can’t see in this photo, but many of the jars are labeled on the side thanks to my handy label-maker. Ideally I’d have all my spices easily accessible like this (and all bought in bulk), but I think those racks would need to be floor to ceiling to accommodate everything!

Kitchen tour - spicesHere is my most shameful spice storage area. Located in the cupboard to the left of my sink, this is where all the oddly shaped and less-commonly-used spices typically wind up. In there you’ll find a little of everything: a box of cinnamon sticks, a bag of mace, a jar of Jamaican curry powder I nabbed from the free table at work, and various spice and seasoning blends I’ve been gifted. It’s all just crammed in there and I’m quite ashamed of the disorder. At least it’s well hidden by a cupboard door most of the time… that’s helped make the situation more palatable! I really really need to clean out my cupboards and rearranged everything, but I’ve yet to dedicate the time to that arduous task.

Kitchen tour - spicesMoving on… a slightly more organized storage site: The drawer to the right of the stove, which is a fairly typical spice drawer. Here’s where all the jars and small containers wind up. Some are rarely used (poppy seeds, caraway seeds, the “pie spice” blend I also rescued from the free table) while others have been refilled with new spices (see the crossed-out label on the cumin jar?). This is also our junk drawer, as you can see, and quite frankly I’m proud it’s really only a quarter-sized junk drawer and not a full one! (Side note: That “everything bagel” seasoning blend from Trader Joe’s is THE BEST. )

Not pictured here is the carousel rack of really really old spices I “inherited” when Steven and I moved in together; it came from his apartment and I frankly shudder to think how old some of them are. But I hate waste, so… there they remain. And honestly, I do occasionally use them. It’s not like spices go bad; they just become less potent. Six giant shakes of “poultry seasoning” it is, then!

Finally, there’s one more cupboard with spices, but this one is high above my sink and functions as storage for the bulk bags of spices that I then mete out into the glass jars in smaller quantities. I don’t feel too badly about this particular spice shelf since it’s difficult to reach without a stool. It seems like a pretty good use of the space.

So! There it is. My shameful distribution of spices. If you have a great idea of how to consolidate everything, I’m all ears!

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Roasted Broccoli Galette with an Almond Meal Crust | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Fourteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Repurposing food: Show us what you do with mushroom stems, stale end bits of bread, carrot tops, etc.

If I were to take this prompt literally and to show you what I do with leftover bits of food, I would be sharing a picture of the compost bin at work, where all my vegetal leftovers wind up. Not a pretty sight, but perhaps a reminder to try a little harder to use all the bits and bobs leftover after cooking.

One remnant I do use up, every time, is the almond pulp left over after making almond milk. Although you can certainly use it right away as a wet ingredient in crackersfeta, and even coconut Bounty Bars (!), I prefer to dry mine to create almond meal or flour. To do so, I spread the clumps onto a baking sheet and put it in the oven at a low temperature (~250˚F) until it’s dried and crackly on top. Then I turn off the heat and let it continue to dry out, sometimes overnight. I then use the dry container of my Vitamix to process it into meal. It’s a relatively hands-off process, and I’m left with quite a lot of almond meal each time.

That being said… when I checked my almond meal stores in the pantry before embarking on the recipe I’m about to share, here’s what I found:

Nearly empty almond meal canisterThat is a sadly depleted store of almond meal, alas! So, for this recipe — which, by the way, makes a pair of sweet toasty galettes — I’m using less almond meal than I would have liked. Next time, I’ll increase the almond meal and decrease the flour accordingly.

So, with that out of the way… with what shall I fill my only-slightly-almondy crust, you ask? Another oft-discarded ingredient: broccoli stems!

Well, not just broccoli stems, but the whole broccoli stalk. In this simple galette, crispy roasted broccoli adds a flavorful crunch and lots of nutrition to a cheesy filling. As I mentioned in last week’s cheese-centric MoFo post, I don’t actually purchase premade vegan cheese all that often, opting instead to make my own. And although it’d be relatively simple to spread a nice cashew cream (or my tofu-walnut ricotta) on this galette, truthfully, I didn’t feel like making one! I wanted a sharper, deeper flavor and more meltiness, and I wanted the simplicity of using something pre-made. Use your favorite cheddar or go for the gold and make your own cheese. It’ll be tasty either way.

Broccoli-cheese galette with an almond meal crust

Roasted Broccoli Galette with an Almond Meal Crust

Makes two single-serve galettes or one large galette

For the filling
  • Two heads broccoli
  • 3 cloves garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dash sea salt, optional
  • ~1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup vegan cheddar shreds
For the crust
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup ice-cold water
  • Nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Roughly chop the broccoli, including the stems, into bite-sized pieces. I like to shave the rough edges off the stems but that’s not necessary. Toss with olive oil, salt, and garlic, then transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.

While the broccoli is roasting, make the crust dough. Combine dry ingredients (flour, almond meal, salt, and garlic powder), then use your hands or a pastry cutter to cut in the vegan butter until it forms sandy crumbs. Drizzle in the cold water and stir to combine, using your hands to knead if necessary.  Start with 1/3 cup and add more by the tablespoon if necessary. Work it gently until it comes together into a soft but not sticky dough; do not overwork. Form into a ball and place in the refrigerator while the broccoli finishes roasting.

When the broccoli is starting to crisp up and blacken just a little, remove from the oven. (It might take more than 15 minutes.) Turn the oven off to let it cool to 350˚F while you prepare the galette crusts.

Divide the dough into two equal balls. On a clean, lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rough circle or oval about 1/8″ thick. Transfer to a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper. Leaving a 1 1/2″ border, divide most of the cheese between each crust, reserving about 1/4 cup. Pile the roasted broccoli on top of the cheese, then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Optionally, dust with nutritional yeast as well. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, overlapping with each fold.

Bake at 375˚F for 30-35 minutes until crust is golden brown.

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Broccoli-cheese galette with an almond meal crust

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Marketing Myself? | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Thirteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Sell yourself: If you were going to market a food  you make, what would it be?  How would you package it, and who would buy it?  (Or if you have already done this, tell us about the creative process.)

Y’all, I do not have the energy for this prompt. I’m not presumptuous enough to think that I have anything brand new to offer to the ever-expanding world of vegan products, and even if I did, I would not be into marketing it. Promoting a product (or really anything) just does not appeal to me… which is partially why my blog remains a passion project, not a source of income.

Here’s what I do have to offer: an understanding ear and a kind, compassionate, gentle approach to veganism. I applaud the small changes, the baby steps, the cautious wading into the waters. If you would like to incorporate more animal-free meals into your life, if you want to know more about a vegan lifestyle, if you just want a judgment-free chat, I’m here for you! Email me and let’s talk. (It doesn’t even have to be about veganism. I also enjoy traveling, crafting, and puppers of all shapes and sizes.)

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Vegan-Friendly Online Grocers | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twelve

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Grocery store tips and tricks

It’s not exactly a stretch to say that I owe my veganism, in part, to the internet. It gave me the opportunity to research issues endemic to the dairy and egg industries and to realize that being vegetarian wasn’t morally consistent for me. It gave me access to the first generation of vegan bloggers, folks who normalized a lifestyle I still considered a bit out there. As I read their recipes and reflections on being vegan in what was then a much less vegan world, it seemed like something I could do. I did do it, and I haven’t looked back.

So for today’s topic — grocery store tips and tricks — it seems fitting to highlight another way the internet is there for vegans: by providing access to veg-friendly shopping! Even if you live somewhere remote, without easy access to a Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, co-op, or even a regular ol’ grocery store, you can stock your pantry by shopping online. Here are a few of my favorite online grocers. (These are all U.S. based, because the cost of shipping internationally would be prohibitive! I’m sorry I don’t have a similar list of international grocers.)

The best vegan-friendly grocers

Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexel

My favorite vegan-friendly online grocery stores

Vegan Essentials

Based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Vegan Essentials is a treasure! Along with food (including freshly baked pastries!), they carry a fantastic variety of other items: health products, cosmetics, books, accessories, and more. I particularly enjoyed ordering from VE when I lived in Wisconsin; the shipping was super quick and cheap since I was so close to their HQ! Prices are generally fair, but don’t forget to check out their sale section for marked down goods.

Best for:

  • The aforementioned pastries!
  • Hard-to-find niche ingredients (vegan gelatin, anyone?)
  • Sweet sales!
Vitacost

While not entirely vegan, Vitacost has lots of cruelty-free vegan options and focuses on health-related food, health and beauty products, and more. They have a house brand of products (including vitamins and supplements) that are priced competitively, and they offer frequent sales and promotions. I do find their vegan product filter a bit untrustworthy; some products that don’t include the word “vegan” in the title won’t show up.

Best for:

  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Shelf-stable ingredients
  • Health, beauty, and personal care items

Pangea

Pangea is the real deal — they’ve been an online business since 1995 and have the coveted veganstore.com URL! Besides food, Pangea sells everything from cosmetics to clothing. They’re also truly cruelty-free, offering only products that are produced and manufactured ethically. The website feels like the online equivalent of an old-school natural foods co-op in the best way possible.

Best for:

  • Old-school vegan ingredients and brands
  • Companion animal products
  • Household items you know are vegan, cruelty-free, and likely environmentally friendly.

Amazon

Sigh, I had to include it! For price and variety, it’s really difficult to beat Amazon. I’d prefer to put my money into the vegan-owned companies on this list, but Amazon is always a solid fallback.

Best for:

  • Most things :(
  • Cheap shipping (especially if you have Prime)

So — which retailers did I miss?

Note: For a while, the idea of ordering food online and having it shipped concerned me from an environmental perspective. But I’m honestly not sure whether it’s worse than getting in my car and driving to the market… to pick up food that was already shipped from afar, in most cases. And for items you just can’t get locally, the point becomes moot. I welcome stats on the environmental costs of both options, though!

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Kitchen Tour! | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Eleven

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Kitchen tour!

In the two years since my last MoFo kitchen tour, things have changed about as much as possible: I have a new kitchen! In a new house! That I own! Here’s a pano shot from the sliding doors that let onto the carport/driveway.

Our house was built in the ’70s but had been tastefully updated in the last few years, so we didn’t need to do any major remodels or redesigns when we moved in. That was a bit of a blessing and a bit of a curse. Of course I’m glad to be spared the expense (although you could argue that it was baked into the asking price), but it also means I didn’t get to personally design my kitchen, and I have no real excuse to remodel it in the near future.

Kitchen counter closeupThe appliances are new(ish) and work great, the cabinets are an inoffensive reddish wood (I know nothing about wood types), the countertops are a sparkly black stone that I actually quite like, and the backsplash is plain white subway tile. I’m not a huge fan of subway tile; I think it’s played out, and the white is just a bit boring. The floors are a textured grey stone, and they’re fine. We painted the walls a country blue, which I liked a year ago and still don’t mind, but I do think a brighter color might be better: Besides the ambient light that comes in from the living and dining rooms, the only real light source is the sliding door…which abuts our covered carport, reducing the amount of direct sunlight we get. Lighter walls might help.

My kitchen is not huge in terms of counter space (especially when compared to the massive butcher-block island we had at our rental!), but by keeping it clean and uncluttered, I actually never have a problem. I’m a methodical, clean-as-you-go cook, so I don’t end up with piles of dishes on every surface. The only appliance that has permanent real estate on the counter is my KitchenAid mixer because it’s a beast and would be a pain to lug back and forth. Everything else is in the pantry/laundry closet (behind the white panel doors in the pano shot above) or another storage spot and is easy to grab. (Steven’s SodaStream keeps encroaching on my counter space, though I try to stash it away…!)

Truth be told, our kitchen is a bit less personalized in our house than it was in our rental. I blame the somewhat impersonal features, but the lack of wall space (for art) doesn’t help. We do have a few Steven-made shelves for various ingredients and some Ikea spice racks on the walls. But the kitchen opens into our dining room, where we’ve put in more personal touches.

IMG_2495

I love our mid-century dining room table — we bought it off Craigslist from a Russian lady and her daughter, and it has built-in leaves that make it surprisingly spacious. The chairs are Crate & Barrel; combined with the table, they match the wood-and-dark-metal theme in our living room.

FullSizeRender 8

To the right of the kitchen entrance, you can see our little bar, a “cellarette” from my grandmother’s house. It’s gorgeous dark wood and just the right size for that space. It opens up to feature a set of cut glass barware that came with the piece. We have lots more booze stored above the fridge, but we keep the pretty stuff on display. (The dining room opens on to the living room, which you can see on the right of this photo.)

Above it is an awesome vintage victory garden poster Steven gave me for Christmas a few years ago. I’d love to get a few more posters of this ilk and move them  in a collage on the wall behind the dining table, which for now is filled with some colorful canvases from our old place.

Dining room detailsTo the left of the kitchen entrance is our coffee bar! The “bar” itself is a cheap piece of furniture I got at a yard sale for $5 years ago (you can see it in use in my previous tour too); I replaced the knobs and gave it a coat of paint and it’s serviceable for now. At some point I’d like to replace it with a piece that fits better with the rest of our decor, but it does offer a lot of storage for things like our food processor and random other small appliances.

Steven built those awesome open shelving units above the bar, which show off some of our prettier hot drink accoutrements. (Ignore the horrible vintage Ronald McDonald plastic plate in the rightmost shelf… Steven was going through some of his childhood crap and thought it would be funny to put it there. VERY FUNNY. HAHA.)

Dining room detailsMcDonald’s merchandise owning aside, Steven has some redeeming characteristics. Namely, the ability to build shelves! Aside from the shelves I’ve already mentioned, he also custom-built these corner shelves, which I use to display my beloved Pyrex collection. It’s just a few steps from the kitchen, so it’s a great way to store these pieces (which I use for cooking and eating regularly).

(You can see one of the previously mentioned colorful canvases in this photo. That wall is really tall because we have near-cathedral ceilings, and we just don’t have enough art to fill that space. Canvases will have to do for now!)

So, there we have it. My kitchen and dining room, such as they are. I’m excited to see everyone else’s cooking space!

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Vegan Pumpkin Streusel Muffins | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Ten

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
 Secret ingredient: Is there an unconventional ingredient or product you use to make a certain dish that no one would suspect?

The idea of “hidden” or “secret” ingredients in my food has always weirded me out a bit, perhaps because I grew up with a younger sister who has some pretty severe nut allergies. “Hidden” nuts in food sent her to the hospital or to her emergency Benadryl/EpiPen stash more than once, so I’m all for transparency in labeling and serving.

That said, I appreciate the idea that sometimes an ingredient might put someone off a food if they knew what was in it. (Hey, kinda like those dumb-dumbs who don’t want to try vegan dishes even though they contain nothing weirder than vegetables, grains, and not-animal-based proteins!) I also appreciate the recipe developers who have found immensely creative ways to add nutrients to apparent junk food in an effort to healthify treats. (Though, to be honest, I personally want my junk food to be junk food and my treats to be treats!) Chocolate-Covered Katie in particular has a whole arsenal of ONE WEIRD TRICK-esque recipes, which rely on surprise ingredients to add moisture and flavor to (and reduce fat and sugar in) her baked goods. (See: a chocolate cake featuring cauliflower!)

So perhaps my issue is with semantics: Call it an “unexpected” ingredient and I have no quarrel with the notion. I even have a few recipes featuring unexpected ingredients of my own (black bean brownies, anyone?).

"Pumpkin" streusel muffins But one of my favorite ways to subvert expectations — while offering superior flavor — is a relatively simple one: using mashed roasted sweet potato instead of pumpkin. Much of the flavors we associate with “pumpkin” are actually the warming spices that typically accompany it, the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice that just scream “autumn!” to most Americans. In reality, pumpkin by itself is quite bland; it really needs the augmentation of said spices (and some sweetness) to shine.

I offer up in its place sweet potato, which plays just as well with those lovely spices yet has an inherent mellow sweetness of its own. Cup for cup, it also boasts more fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Baked into a muffin and topped with a crumbly, oaty streusel, you get a treat that could easily pass for pumpkin. So, next time you fire up the oven to make muffins, pass over the pumpkin and pass me the sweet potato! (Just be on the watch for folks with sweet potato allergies.)

"Pumpkin" streusel muffins

“Pumpkin” Streusel Muffins

Makes 12

Muffin ingredients
  • 1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup roasted and mashed sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Streusel topping ingredients
  • 3 T softened butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 T rolled oats
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Dash salt
Method

In a small bowl, mix together the streusel topping with a fork until crumbly and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Prepare a muffin tin by adding silicone or paper liners or spraying it lightly with oil.

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flour through salt) and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the wet ingredients (almond milk through vanilla extract, whisking to combine. Add the sugar and thoroughly mix.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Use a plastic spatula or wooden spoon to mix just until combined; do not over-mix. (If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon or two of flour. Some sweet potatoes seem dryer than others!) Scoop batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each well about 2/3 full. Add a spoonful of streusel to the top of each muffin.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or just until a toothpick or other testing mechanism comes out clean. Enjoy! You’re not eating pumpkin!

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"Pumpkin" streusel muffins

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Vitamix Love | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Nine

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Go go gadget: A kitchen gadget you couldn’t live without, be it a simple grater or a blender. Alternatively, use a gadget you very rarely use.

Heads up: I’m about to become a total vegan cliche. Today I am extolling the virtues of my dearly beloved Vitamix!

Now, let’s get this out of the way: You don’t need a high-speed blender. You really don’t. I used a regular ol’ blender for six years in my vegan kitchen before welcoming a Vitamix into the appliance fold. But having one does make your culinary life easier, and it does open up new worlds of (creamy! smooth!) cooking possibilities.

Vitamix bookletTruthfully, I probably would have gone much longer without a Vitamix if my wonderful, generous parents hadn’t gifted one to Steven and me for Christmas 2015. They got a great deal on it and knew we’d appreciate it, and we absolutely do! For a while it had pride of place on our counter, but when we bought our house and actual lost a little counter space, it now lives in the pantry. (It’s still easily accessible and comes out to play very frequently.)

For me, a high-performance blender is most valuable when it comes to transforming nuts and seeds into creamy delights. Without a high-powered blender, you need to plan ahead if you want to make cashew cream or the like; you’ll need to soak your nuts to soften them. But that’s just no necessary with my Vitamix, meaning cashew cream, nut-based cheese sauces, and all things creamy are ready for your spur-of-the-moment whims.

My parents also kindly gave us a dry grains container, which is optimized to grind grains into flour. I love using it for turning dried almond pulp (leftover after making almond pulp in the regular Vitamix container!) into almond meal.

The regular (wet) container also makes short work of blended soups and, of course, smoothies. I do notice that it sometimes fails to “catch” the ingredients in my smoothies if I don’t add them in the right order, so it’s not exactly fail-safe.

Vitamix at homeSpeaking of which… I’d hoped to have a fun, slightly unusual blender recipe to share with you today: pancakes! I’ve always been leery of blender pancakes, fearing that the whir of blades would decimate any gluten strands in my batter and leave the resulting pancakes a gummy mess. Yet recipes for blender pancakes abound, so there must be some trick to it. I wanted to offer up a recipe that relied solely on roasted bananas (!) for sweetness, imagining that slow roasting would bringing out caramelly notes in the bananas’ flavor to make up for the lack of added sugar. (Steven is currently avoiding sugar, so I wanted to make something sweet he could still enjoy.)

Well. Well. My fears about blender pancakes proved true. I’m not sure what y’all are doing with your blender pancakes, but mine were gummy and just… odd. (The fact that I only had whole-wheat flour definitely didn’t help.) I’ll try again, but didn’t have the opportunity to do so before writing up this post. Alas.

So, instead, here are some other recipes that rely on a high-speed blender. Maybe my roasted banana pancakes will make an appearance another day… but not today. Sigh.

Editor’s note: This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.