I Have A New Blog: Please Follow Me There!

Hi All!

It’s a new year, and time for new things! I am launching a new blog called A Little Sage, located at www.alittlesage.com.

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A Little Sage is a vegan food blog too, but I hope to feature more advice and health news as well as whole-meal menu ideas rather than just individual recipes. I will post Meatless Monday meal ideas on Mondays. Yay for #MeatlessMonday!

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Example Meal Idea: Vegan Corn Chowder with Avacado Toasts and a Green Salad

I will post how-to ideas, health information and advice on Thursdays. I hope to hold myself to a more regular schedule this way.

So come on over! If you are an email subscriber, I’ve got you! You will receive today’s A Little Sage post around noon, barring any glitches or problems. (And there may easily be glitches and problems.) If you are not an email subscriber, go to the blog and hit “subscribe” in the sidebar! Or you may go to A Little Sage and follow me with Bloglovin’.

I will be new on:

Twitter
Instagram
Email
Bloglovin’
and
Pinterest

No doubt it will take me a while to populate all these feeds with interesting posts, but I’ll do my best! I’m sure there will be links to fix and things to learn. And never fear, I will find my favorite blogs at Bloglovin’ and follow you there. I’ll be in touch as before.

Thanks for your interest!

There! Did I give you enough links to click? šŸ˜‰

Happy New Year!

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Vegan Christmas Side Dishes: Time To Start Cooking!

Can you feel it? It’s in the air! It’s all around!

What’s that, you ask? Excitement? Good cheer?

No.

Stress. It’s Christstress, which occurs when thereĀ are fewer than seven days to go before family members begin expecting BIG THINGS from you!

Big things.

You need a plan, and fast! Here are four absolutely fantastic vegan side-dish ideas to help you with your grocery shopping list. I made each one using recipes from my some of my favorite vegetable-and-health-oriented bloggers. I loved all.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole from my friend Elaine of foodbod:

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This recipe plays up the sweetness of the sweet potatoes with orange juice, orange zest and maple syrup. I could have eaten the whole casserole, because, to tell you the truth, it could pass for dessert! People at your holiday table will rave about it. I feel strongly. Trust me on this one.

The sweet potatoes are one of many offered by Elaine in one post dedicated to the subject of how to feed the vegetarians/vegans on your holiday dinner guest list. (There’s bound to be one or two.) She has a load of delicious ideas. Do go visit her! She’s wonderfully creative and friendly. You’ll like her šŸ˜‰

(Tell her Susan sent you…)

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Guacamole Potato Skins with Ranch Dressing

Guacamole Potato Skins with Ranch Dressing by Vegan Bikini Doc:

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I made this as directed, using russet potatoes. Place one on each guest’s plate as a side dish. The crisp and salty potato base complements the creamy, yummy guacamole filling, vegan ranch dressing drizzled over top. Ā JalapeƱo peppers deliver zing! Just wonderful.

I imagine you could make these appetizer sized by using small, new potatoes, slicing them in half, cutting off each end a bit so they sit flat on a plate, and scooping out the centers using a melon baller. Each would take a tablespoon or so of filling. They’ll pop right in the mouth, no fork and knife necessary! I’m doing that next time just to see how it works!

Incidentally, Pete and I made a meal of these beauties, as we were just testing. What a great, weeknight dinner these made all by themselves, two per person.

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Superfood Crunch Salad with Homemade Balsamic Apple Vinaigrette

Superfood Crunch Salad with Homemade Balsamic Apple VinaigretteĀ by Angela of Oh She Glows:

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This is another winner! Kale, hemp hearts and pomegranate arils all lend this dish superfood status. I never knew what an aril was, and no one except a mean know-it-all will blame you for mistaking an “aril” for a “seed.”

Aril. Seed. Whatever! I never before knew how to remove pomegranate arils. I consulted this youtube video of Martha Stewart demonstrating how. It worked beautifully.

This salad is sweet and sturdy, meaning it will travel very well if you’re visiting rather than hosting. Simply add the dressing and toss just before serving.

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Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

Easy Stuffed Mushrooms by Finding Vegan:

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OK. This is a new favorite!! I used white button mushrooms that were about one-and-a-half or two inches in diameter. So they were on the large side. Two per person is a good plan for a side dish. Use small mushrooms if you would like a hearty appetizer.

Note: I used panko breadcrumbs and fresh spinach in my version rather than the suggested gluten-free breadcrumbs and frozen-thawed-drained spinach. That’s just what I had in my pantry. You may do it either way.

Loved them!!

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Whatever you do and whatever you make for Christmas dinner, don’t sweat it. Try and relax. Enjoy your dinner. Enjoy your friends and family. It’s a lot, I know.

I know how you feel.

Cheers!

Lunchtime Salad

I barely ever show you what I eat at lunchtime. (I know this is a serious blank spot in your life, not knowing what I eat for lunch.) Well, let me show you!

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Lunchtime Salad

(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

For the salad:

One cup cooked french lentils
One tub cubed, baked tofu (See Note)
Four cups bite-sized kale leaves, raw
Four cups baby spinach, raw
One cup chopped or sliced raw mushrooms, any variety
One-quarter cup chopped red onion
One-quarter cup dried cranberries or raisins
One-quarter cup sunflower seeds
One half or one whole sliced avocado, optional

For the dressing:

Three tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Three tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
One tablespoon sesame oil
One clove garlic, minced
One-half tablespoon grated, fresh ginger
One tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of cayenne
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
One-half teaspoon sesame seeds
Two or three chopped scallions
One teaspoon prepared dijon mustard

Note: Place all the dressing ingredients in a lidded jar except the scallions and the mustard. Close the jar and shake the contents to combine. Place the cubed tofu in a small baking pan and cover the tofu with HALF the dressing. Place the tofu into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Add the scallions and the mustard to the dressing jar and shake again to combine. Use this remaining half to dress the salad (below).

Instructions:

  1. Place the kale, spinach and lentils in a large bowl and toss with the dressing until the lentils are evenly disbursed.
  2. Add the baked tofu, mushrooms, onion, cranberries, avocado (if using) and toss some more. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.

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I hope you’re satisfied.

I am.

Vegan Chickpea Holiday Roast

Vegan Chickpea Holiday Roast

One of the great difficulties eating a vegan diet, besides convincing others you are NOT a protein-deprived, weak-muscled hunger victim and all-around strange person. No. (Being strange comes easily to vegans.) The difficulty is finding ways to be a full-fledged participant at the holiday table, not the person lurking around quietly eating only the vegetable side dishes, not the know-it-all evangelist spouting the virtues of vegetable eating, but the grown-up who prepares something lovely and delicious for his fellow revelers, a holiday centerpiece that also happens to be strange. I mean vegan!

I totally mean vegan! Not strange.

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Now, Tofurky is fine with me. First of all because the name is just silly. I’m for it! But a Tofurky is typically small and feeds a paltry few. I prefer something homemade at the holidays, something bigger, something that puts me in the spirit.

Here it is.

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Vegan Chickpea Holiday Roast

(Serves 8)

Ingredients:

For the roast:

Four tablespoons olive oil
Eight tablespoons good white wine (See Note)
Eight cloves garlic, minced
One-half cup nutritional yeast
Three tablespoons lemon juice
Two teaspoons lemon zest
One teaspoon nutmeg
Two teaspoons dried sage
One teaspoon salt or more to taste
One teaspoon pepper
Dash of cayenne
Four cups cooked chickpeas
One and three-quarter cup vital wheat gluten

Note: If you like things saltier, use four tablespoons white wine and four tablespoons soy sauce

For the filling:

Four ounces chopped mushrooms any variety
One cup shredded, washed kale
One small, chopped white onion
One cup cooked wild rice

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Instructions:

  1. In a small frying pan in about three tablespoons of water, cook the onion and mushrooms on medium or medium-high heat for about ten minutes. Add the kale and the cooked wild rice and heat everything through.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the olive oil, wine, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, zest, nutmeg, sage, salt, pepper, cayenne and chickpeas. Blend to combine until all the chickpeas are the texture of very coarse sand. Some chickpeas will stubbornly remain larger. That’s OK!
  3. Turn mixture out into a large bowl and stir in the vital wheat gluten, a little at the time. Knead the mixture with your hands for a minute or two, allowing the gluten to activate. Form a large ball.
  4. On a clean surface, roll the ball out into a 12-inch by 12-inch square. It will be more of a square with rounded edges. You see what I mean? (You’re now thinking, What’s she talking about, a “round” square? What a dope.) Just do it. The round square will be about an inch thick or so. It shouldn’t be sticky, and it all should be rather easy to work with.
  5. Spoon the filling onto the bottom third of the square with roundish edges. Flip the bottom edge up over the filling and roll! Pinch the edges closed. Try not to worry about perfection.
  6. Wrap the roast in foil. (You may place the foil-wrapped roast in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator for up to a few days before baking.)
  7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour and twenty minutes. Flip the roast upside down midway through cooking.

Serve with:

Vegan Onion Gravy

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(Serves 8)

Recipe from Kitchen Treaty

Ingredients:

One tablespoon plus three tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
One-half cup finely diced onion
Four tablespoons flour
Two cups vegetable broth
One tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place one tablespoon Earth Balance in a small pot over medium heat. Allow it to melt, and then cook the onions in the melted Earth Balance for about 10 or 15 minutes. The onions may brown a little. That’s nice if they do!
  2. Remove the onions to a small bowlĀ from the pot and add the remaining Earth Balance to the pot. Once melted, stir in the flour, whisking to combine. Add the vegetable broth, soy sauce, salt and pepper, whisking as you go and until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Adjust the cooking temperature lower if you need to so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add the cooked onions back into the creamy gravy.

Does all that square with you? I hope so!

Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan)

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This is the festive and magical time of year when we delve deep into the richness of the internet, discover scrumptious holiday treat recipes, attempt to vegan-ize them, fall short, throw a little fit, open a bottle of wine, re-try, fall short again, pour more wine, try again, fall short and pass out from holiday anguish (and wine).

I mean, obviously.

I don’t need to tell you things don’t go perfectly at the holidays even if certain people make it look that way. (I’m lookin’ at you, Martha Stewart.)

And yet.

I found this recipe on the internet from Martha Stewart for ginger chocolate chip cookies. Her recipe includes no eggs, so the only thing to do was to swap out the butter for Earth Balance, a vegan “butter alternative,” a non-hydrogenated, plant-based spread along the lines of margarine. Right?

(You may find Earth Balance products in organic sections of most grocery stores or in the margarine section of the dairy case. I find it’s pretty widely available. There are many varieties. I always use “original” flavor.)Ā 

But wait. Not so fast. I did the swap, Earth Balance for butter, and expected nice, chewy regular-looking cookies. You know.

What I got instead were um…well…balls:

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I intended to go with it! They tasted great. They were fine.

Until the next day, when they were a hardened mass of ginger-fied sugar.

Ugh.

Back to the drawing board. A few times. But persistence often pays off and I finally hit on the magic! Here are my tips along with a very successful vegan cookie recipe. (Your non-vegan friends will never know.)

Tips:

  1. Measure flour correctly. Too much flour in a cookie recipe may lead to what I am now calling “the ball problem” (see above). In this recipe, I kept the flour measurement the same as Martha’s, but I measured the flour correctly. That is, instead of scooping my measuring cup into the flour canister, I spooned the flour from the canister into my cup a little at a time, skimming the excess flour off the top gently with a kitchen knife. This prevents packing in–what amounts to be–too much flour.
  2. Use the appropriate sugar. In her recipe, Martha–as I like to call her as though we were on a first-name basis–uses brown sugar. Apparently, this works for her and her butter-filled recipe. However, brown sugar may lead to a denser, puffier cookie. Regular, granulated sugar allows the cookie to spread a little more readily. I often use this brand.
  3. Adjust baking racks accordingly. Ideally, cookies should bake on a rack placed in the middle of the oven. This promotes even baking. Most of us real human beings have limited time and therefore require doing at least two things at the same time. This recipe makes enough to fill three baking sheets. Instead of placing all three sheets using all three baking racks–top, middle and bottom–all at once, I used both my ovens. I placed two sheets in my top oven and one sheet on the middle rack of my second oven. Alternatively, you may bake the cookies in batches: two sheets in one batch and one sheet in the next. Even baking. It’s important.
  4. Refrigerate the dough if necessary (or not.) Refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight if you would like a denser, chewier cookie. I wanted to promote spreading, so I skipped the refrigeration stage.

Gingerbread Chocoloate Chip Cookies (Vegan)

Makes 24 cookies.

Ingredients:

Seven ounces veganĀ dark chocolate chips
One-and-a-half cups all-purpose flour
One teaspoon baking soda
One and one-quarter teaspoons ground ginger
One teaspoon ground cinnamon
One-quarter teaspoon ground cloves
One-quarter teaspoon ground nutmeg
One tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Eight tablespoons (1 stick) Earth BalanceĀ 
One tablespoon freshly grated ginger
One-half cup granulated sugar
One-quarter cup unsulfured molasses
An additional one-quarter cup granulated sugar for decoration

Instructions:

  1. Line three baking sheets with parchment. Preheat oven(s) to 325 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cocoa and baking soda.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat Earth Balance and grated ginger until whitened, about four minutes. Add granulated sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
  4. Beat half of flour mixture into “butter” mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture.
  5. Mix in the chocolate chips by hand.
  6. Drop cookies or roll them gently with your hands (about one and one-half inches in diameter each) two inches apart on baking sheets. Roll each cookie in granulated sugar to coat. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, about 12 minutes.

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IMG_17907. Let cool five minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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THAT’S a perfect holiday cookie even Martha Stewart would be proud to serve!

Hot And Sour Soup

For the past 24 hours, I have been tinkering with a ginger cookie recipe. I made three batches so far, altering ingredients each time. I haven’t hit on the magic yet, but when I do, I’ll be sure to share! And for a person who eats vegetables out of fear of sickness and in search of good health, I sure do eat a lot of cookies. (We all have ideal versions of ourselves, I guess, the state we’ll never quite reach. Hello! Are you out there?)

It’s good to have a goal, though! And to combat ill effects of sugar, I sought something ultra healthy, something warm. And something EASY. This is it! I just loved it, and so did Pete, my ideal husband.

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