Gluten-free and Oil-free Pumpkin Cookies

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies
Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Looking for something easy and healthy to make for the holidays? Look no further than these super simple and super healthy cookies. They are full of pumpkin – and we all know that this is the pumpkin season – and are completely and naturally gluten-free. The combination of oats, coconut flour and almond flour does not really need backing and you could mix them all together, let the mix stand, and form the cookies as is. So, if you are into raw food, or minimally processed food this could be a path you take.

Baking the cookies does enhance the flavors, and that’s worth keeping this in mind. Baking also makes all the spices develop and merge. A combination of cinnamon, ginger and cardamom really blooms when heated up! At the end, baking the cookies will give you a more aromatic kitchen and platter.

What will also enhance the flavors is roasting your own pumpkin. (So, I guess not everything will be as a raw as possible since I am not sure you can use raw pumpkin – I have never tried and I am not even sure that it can be done!). Roasting the pumpkin is super easy – you don’t even need to peel it, just slice it in half, scoop out the seeds and place the pumpkin halves on a baking sheet, cut side down and roast at 425 F (220 C) for 45 minutes or so. It also helps to line the baking sheet with some foil or parchment paper – this helps the roasting and the clean up!

After the pumpkin is roasted, all you need to do is scoop the flash and purée, either in a food processor or using a masher. Food processor will make everything much smoother, but if you prefer your a more rustic pumpkin hands or a masher will do.

Enjoy!

 

Gluten-free and Oil-free Pumpkin Cookies

What you’ll need:

  • 1 15 oz (425 g) can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) or 15 oz (425 g) roasted sugar pumpkin, puréed
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or solid sweetener of your choice)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • Optional: 1/4 cup maple syrup, for brushing

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large food processor. If you don’t have a food processor that’s large enough, you can either process in batches or process pumpkin and oats well and then just mix in the rest of the ingredients (except the optional maple syrup) by hand.
  3. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to measure out the amount for each cookie, than form a round and flat shape and place on the parchment paper. This amount of batter should yield about 12-14 cookies.
  5. Cross-hatch the surface of each cookie.
  6. Bake for 18-23 minutes. Cookies will be lightly browned but stay soft.
  7. Let the cookies cool for 15-20 minutes before brushing with maple syrup. You could skip this step, but why would you want to do that? Enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Mushroom Pâté

Nut-free Mushroom Pâté, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Mushroom Pâté, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

I grew up eating pâté and loving it. Some pâté, on a piece of freshly baked bread with a glass of yogurt (yes, the liquid kind you drink like they do in Middle East!) was one of my go to breakfasts. And the pâté I ate was not a fancy French kind made with duck fat. At some point I learned that it was actually made of who know what, random bits and pieces of an animal all ground up. Whether you eat meat or not, I hope we can all agree that that’s pretty unappetizing when you think about it!

But: if you don’t think about it and just go with your taste buds, pâtés are really tasty. They are full of umami, savory flavors that we all crave, they are silky and smooth, they are nicely spreadable, and they are an excellent add-on to a nice piece of bread. So, how can we re-create the perfect savoriness with just a small number of ingredients, and make a healthy and satisfying pâté that will keep you coming back for more?

Well, we start with mushrooms, the well-known source of umami. You can use white button mushrooms here or baby bella (cremini) mushrooms as well. I do not recommend some of the mushrooms that have distinct flavors, like shiitakes; however, other mild mushrooms may work. Still, white button mushrooms are readily available, affordable and work!

Another important umami component is tomato paste. Here, you can use any tomato paste you have on hand and you can adjust the amount – anywhere between a tablespoon or two will do the trick.

To make the dip smooth and rich in protein, I recommend adding canned beans. White beans work best (cannellini, great Northern or navy), but any other variety will probably be OK. If you cook your own beans, I recommend that you keep them slightly undercooked for this application, or at least squeeze some of the excesses liquid out before blending to avoid ending with a pâté that’s more of a soup than a rich and dense spread.

The main flavoring agent here is Herbes de Provence, a mixture of dried herbs that usually includes thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram and lavender. I use Trader Joe’s version, and they carry it only as a seasonal item in the fall, but any other mix with the same name will do. Alternatively, you can add a pinch of thyme, rosemary, oregano, and other herbs (including basil) that you may have on hand.

Finally, what also adds a lot to this pâté is sautéing and caramelizing onions, garlic and mushrooms before blending everything together. This will help the flavor deepen and develop!

Looking for serving suggestions? You can use it as a spread or a dip, as a pizza “sauce” and topping (why not?), in your quesadillas (let’s be adventurous!), for your baked potatoes, or for any other dish where you feel the need to add rich, yet smooth flavors. Enjoy!

Mushroom Pâté

What you’ll need:

8 oz white button mushrooms (or cremini mushrooms if you like stronger mushroom flavor), sliced

1/2 large, white onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence

1 15 oz (425 g) can white beans

Salt to taste

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Heat up than add the oil and onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic. Let garlic start to release its aroma – this usually takes a minute.
  2. Add the mushrooms and , increase the heat to high, mix well and sauté until mushrooms are browned. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
  3. While the mushrooms are cooking, drain and rinse the can of beans. Shake access water off and place into a food processor or a large mixing bowl if you rather use a stick blender (this is an incredibly useful kitchen gadget and it’s what I used here).
  4. Pour the sautéed mushrooms over the beans and blend until smooth and combined. Leave in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Serve cold as a spread for sandwiches or as a dip for chips or crackers. This pâté is excellent addition to your menu and it offers a healthy and humane alternative.

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Easy Gluten-free and Vegan Corn Bread

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Easy Gluten-free and Vegan Corn Bread, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

What you will learn from this recipe is how to make corn bread that needs only seven ingredients (that’s including baking powder, baking soda, salt, and oil), is completely gluten-free, and entirely vegan! It is also simple, yet delicious, without extra sugar and other funky stuff that many recipes include.

I grew up eating plenty of corn bread, especially during winter months. I’ve also shared a recipe or two, providing different variations on the theme. Here, I wanted to share a recipe that strips away all the complexity and uses corn meal, corn starch and oil, together with leavening agents and carbonated (sparkling) water to create a nutty and mealy corn bread.

The bread is a bit on a crumbly side and it is best used with hearty stews, chilis and soups, those types of dishes that need a bit of bread to mix it in. For example, it would pair well with a cabbage and bean stew, or a bean soup with chorizo, or 15 bean chili!

The down side of this corn bread is that it does not store well, and it is really at its prime when it is fresh from the oven. So, if you feel that you may not need this much corn bread, make a smaller batch. It is so easy to make that you can whisk it all together as needed. If you are bothered by crumbliness, you can add some flax egg to the batter or chia egg.

Easy Gluten-free and Vegan Corn Bread

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups of yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup of corn starch
  • 1/3 cup canola (or other vegetable or olive) oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sparkling (carbonated) water
  • Cooking spray

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cron meal, corn starch, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well, then add oil and combine. Batter will be soft (see picture above).
  3. Let the batter stand for 10 minutes or so.
  4. Spray the bottom and the sides of the 8 in x 8 in (20 cm x 20 cm) baking dish. Pour the batter in, smooth the top, then place in the preheated oven to bake at high temperature for 10 minutes.
  5. Lower the temperature to 350 F (175 C) and continue baking for another 20 minutes.
  6. Let the corn bread cool for 15 minutes or so, then cut and serve. Please note that this bread will not be asa great the next day so I suggest that you enjoy it fresh!

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Basic Vegan Waffles

Basic Vegan Waffles via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Basic Vegan Waffles, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

If you are looking to add some sunshine to your plate, look no further! The waffles are here, and they are egg-free and dairy-free, and they can very easily be made gluten-free and nut-free as well. So, these waffles are allergy friendly, yet satisfying – they will please absolutely everyone because they use only simple ingredients and don’t require fussing with egg replacements or similar.

The key to these waffles (as well as any other type of waffles) is a really good waffle iron, that you want to keep at medium high heat. And: you also want to keep it well oiled to help the waffles crisp up and reach that beautiful golden-brown stage without sticking!

Another crucial ingredient here is lemon juice – since you are not using eggs, lemon juice is essential to get the baking soda working. Remember that baking soda and vinegar volcano experiment you did in elementary school? Yes, the principle here is the same – you need some acid to give baking soda a bit of a nudge and release all that gas (carbon-dioxide) that will make your waffles puff up. I you don’t have lemons handy, a bit of apple cider vinegar or plain vinegar will also do the trick.

One tricky step here is adding the right amount of liquid. The amount will vary depending how you measure your flour and what type of four you use. Not all gluten-free flours are the same – the ingredients vary and how those ingredients mix with liquids vary. And gluten-free flours will behave differently from plain all-purpose wheat flour – so, I’m afraid, this is not one-size-fits-all type of recipe and you will need to pay attention!

After you’ve mixed (or whisked) the first cup of liquid in (milk or water), make sure all the liquid is incorporated well before adding more. And, add the rest in 1/4 cup increments, making sure all is incorporated before adding more. You want the waffle batter to be pourable but dense – so just slightly thicker than a pancake batter, a a shade thiner than cake batter. If you have not given up by now – and I hope you haven’t – once you’ve mixed the batter to the right consistency let it sit for 5-10 minutes before using.

These waffles freeze well, and can be reheated in the microwave, or a toaster oven. My favorite thick here is to get them defrosted in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and then transfer to the toaster oven to crisp up!

Happy breakfast time!!!

 

 

Basic Vegan Waffles (with gluten-free and nut-free options)

Serves 4 (2-3 waffles depending on the size of your waffle iron)

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour, I like King Arthur Flour (or all-purpose white flour)
  • ¼ cup raw sugar (vegan)
  • ¼ cup vegetable (or canola) oil
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter powder (skip if concerned about allergies)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or dial down the amount if you prefer less vanilla)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or oat milk, soy milk, or water for nut-free version), divided
  • Cooking spray or some extra vegetable oil for brushing the waffle iron

What you’ll do:

  1. Place all the ingredients except milk into a large mixing bowl, in the order they were mentioned in. Mix well.
  2. Add 1 ½ cup of milk and mix, check for consistency than add ¼ cup of milk more, mix, check the consistency and add more milk if needed. The best waffle batter should pour out without resistance, but still be dense. Let the batter stand while you prepare the waffle iron.
  3. Heat the waffle iron, spray with the cooking spray if needed (my waffle iron is old and sticky so cooking spray helps a lot), then pour ¾ of a cup of the batter in (please note that this amount will depend on the size of the waffle iron you are using). The waffles should be done in 2-3 minutes – my waffle iron comes with a handy light that turns green when a waffle is done!
  4. Serve your waffles hot with butter, maple syrup, chopped nuts, strawberries, blueberries, and/or whipped cream, or if you are looking for something new: chopped pineapple and coconut for a piña colada waffles!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Gluten-free Cinnamon Raisin Monkey Bread

Gluten-free Cinnamon Raisin Monkey Bread, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Have you ever heard of monkey bread? Well, neither have I until recently when I started thinking about an easy breakfast type of a bread that can be made quickly and without much fuss. Monkey bread, a pull apart sticky bread full of cinnamon and drenched in a sticky syrup, is one such option.

Most recipes for monkey bread out there start with a pre-made biscuit dough of some sort – this is fine, especially when you are in a rush, but most of these doughs are not gluten-free. Also: if you are paying attention to what you eat and how much salt and fat you consume, these products are probably not for you although most of them are actually vegan.

The recipe below is my attempt at making monkey bread that is gluten-free, relatively low on oil (and you can skip oil if you want an oil-free version), and full of lovely fruit and vegetable. To boost the flavors and sweetness, I am using pumpkin purée and raisins, and too boost healthy fats and provide a binder for the bread dough I am using chia seeds. Lastly, I am not using a great deal of sticky syrup – but just enough agave syrup to make this slightly over the top. This means that unlike monkey breads you may have had in the past this one is not dripping with gooey syrup, although it is sticky (and finger licking’ good!).

You can play with arrangements of the small dough pieces when you start to lay them out, and create any pattern you like. Traditional monkey bread is made in the Bundt pan. If you would like to experiment with that you will need to make several adjustments to the recipe below. First of all, you will need to prepare a different sticky sauce that is made from brown sugar and butter, and if you don’t want to use butter (vegan or otherwise), you may want to use a bit of corn or tapioca starch as a thickener. The sticky sauce would go to the bottom of your pan and dough chunks are layered one on top of each other. In that case, you will need to double the amount of dough from the recipe below and follow the instructions on how to assemble the bread here.

Gluten-free Cinnamon Raisin Monkey Bread

What you’ll need:

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup chia seeds

1 cup hot water

1 cup rice flour

1/2 cup arrowroot flour

1/4 cup glutinous rice flour (or corn/tapioca starch)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon cinnamon 

3/4 cup  pumpkin purée

3 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable; you can skip if oil-free)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

1/3 cup agave nectar (or maple syrup), divided

Butter or oil for greasing the baking dish (optional)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Cover the raisin with some water and leave them to soak overnight. If you are in a pinch and need them sooner, you can soak them in hot water and they should be ready to use within 15-30 minutes.
  2. When ready to make the monkey bread, turn the oven on to 350 F (175 C).
  3. Soak chia seeds in a cup of boiling water until gel-like substance forms. This usually takes 10-20 minutes.
  4. While chia seeds are soaking, mix together all the dry ingredients (flours and spices).
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: pumpkin puree, soaked chia seeds, oil, and vinegar. Mix well.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, mix well, then add the raisins and mix again.
  7. Grease the bottom and the sides of a baking dish (8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm)). You can skip this step if you are using a high quality non-stick pan. Pinch smaller chunks of the dough (roughly 1/4 cup), form into a ball by gently rolling (don’t pack too tightly, the dough should feel loose but not falling apart), and start arranging the monkey bread by placing the balls next to each other. Let them touch but don’t press the balls together. If you can’t squeeze them all in, start another layer and continue until all the dough is used up.
  8. When all the dough balls are all arranged, brush one half of the agave nectar over the top, and bake for 20-30 minutes. The monkey bread is done when the surface is completely brown.
  9. Take the monkey bread out of the oven, brush the rest of the agave nectar over, and leave to soak and cool for 15 minutes or so before digging in!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

 

Pumpkin Brownies with Chocolate Avocado Frosting

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Pumpkin Brownies with Chocolate Avocado Frosting, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

The magic of chocolate is real – just ask anyone who has ever had a piece of delicious, rich, dark chocolate goodness. Of course, that makes desserts like brownies so addictive. But: they don’t need to be such a guilty pleasure if you take the time to add couple of things that are good for you, like fruit and veggies, and take away couple of things that are not so good, like added sugar and eggs. And the best thing about this strategy is that, guess what? – nobody will know your secret.

I recently profiled a Veggie Patch Brownie recipe from a recently published cook book, and that inspired me to experiment on my own. My concoction includes lots of vegan chocolate – Enjoy Life is the brand I can find around where I live but any semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips or baking chocolate will work – and some vegan butter which you could likely omit if going for a really healthy version. But, if you are making these brownies for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, graduation…, being a bit indulgent seems justified to me. In a need of healthier option? These brownies full of oats and chickpeas may do the trick!

Another thing to note is that you don’t need to use pumpkin purée if not available. You can replace it with sweet potato or butternut squash purée. Even carrots would work here – all you need is a dense purée made of somewhat sweet vegetable and you should be fine. I usually recommend roasting (not boiling) the vegetables, as roasting brings out more sweetness and makes the veggies less mushy.

One final tip? Oh, yes: let the brownies cool completely before frosting and after you frost them it’s best to give them some time for the frosting to firm up a bit before biting in. Happy eating!

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Pumpkin Brownies with Chocolate Avocado Frosting

What you’ll need:

FOR THE BROWNIES:
  • 4 tablespoons golden flax meal (other flax meal will work as well)
  • 1 cup hot water 
  • 1 stick butter, softened (vegan, or if making vegetarian version regular butter will work)
  • 10 oz dark chocolate chips (vegan brand I like is Enjoy Life)
  • 1 15 oz (425 g) can pumpkin purée
  • 2 cups flour (all-purpose gluten-free if needed)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon clover
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
FOR THE FROSTING
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened

(Optional toppings): Sprinkle with crushed freeze-dried strawberries and/or raspberries for a Valentine’s Day version; or chopped shelled pistachios for St. Patrick’s Day; or top with chopped walnuts or shredded coconut for an extra special winter holiday spread.

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the flax meal, mix really well and set aside to soak for 5-10 minutes. Flax meal should become gooey and dense, almost like a gel.
  3. Place the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl or a double boiler. If using a double boiler, bring water to boil then add the chocolate chips, and mix until about 75% melted. Take off the double boiler and continue mixing until all chocolate is melted, smooth and combined. You will need to do the same if using microwave oven. Microwave on high in 30 second increments. After each 30 second period, check the chocolate and mix. Stop when about 75% of chips are melted, but continue to mix. Your bowl and the chocolate will have enough residual heat to melt the rest.
  4. Add softened butter, melted chocolate chips, pumpkin purée, and soaked flax meal into the food processor and combine until smooth.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder and all the dry spices.
  6. Add the wet ingredients as well as the lemon juice and mix well.
  7. Pour the batter into a 9 x 13 in (23 x 33 cm) slightly greased pan. Even the top out then bake for 25 minutes or so. Your brownies are done when the top looks baked and the sides look as they are starting to come loose. Please note that these brownies have lots of chocolate so the toothpick may not come out dry. But, it should still be fairly dry, with perhaps some melted chocolate on it.
  8. Take the brownies out of the oven and let them cool completely. They should be room temperature before frosting.
  9. To make the frosting, mix the softened butter with avocado using a hand held mixer, a stick blender or a blender. Add melted chocolate and mix until creamy. Spread the frosting over the brownies, decorate as desired (the wiggles on my photo above were done using a fork), and let the frosting firm up (30-60 minutes should do it!). You can sprinkle any or all of the optional toppings or leave as is. 
  10. Cut into square and serve! These brownies are very rich, without being very sweet and you will likely not need ice cream or whip cream to go with them – but if that’s how you roll, then just roll with it!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Gluten-free and Vegan Protein-Packed No-Bake English Muffins

Gluten-free Protein-Packed Mug English Muffins, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

“Where do you get your protein from?” is probably the most detested question that those enjoying plant-based (vegan) diet get asked all the time. Of course, we know that this is an easy question to answer because plants are full of protein.

But just in case you feel that you need an extra protein boost, especially when it comes to breakfast, I have a perfect solution for you. How about some protein packed English muffins? Actually, these are not oven-baked; rather they are done within a few minutes using a microwave.

Perhaps you’ve seen recipes for mug cakes? Or you may have seen new “mug cake” product lines in your local supermarket? The idea is that you whip up your ingredients in a mug, mix them together and after 3-5 minutes in a microwave you have your single-serve cake or a muffin ready to enjoy.

I use the same basic idea here except that instead of eggs and flour I use pea protein powder, peanut butter powder (which is really peanut protein powder), some flax meal, baking soda, a dash of vinegar (or lemon juice) and water or plant milk of choice. Believe it or not, after 3 minutes in the microwave on high power you get a nice little muffin. I recommend slicing the muffin across horizontally, then toasting it for some extra crunch. Yummy!

So, how does this work? I don’t know for sure but I do have a working theory that the carbon-dioxide released when baking soda meets a splash of vinegar or lemon juice is enough to lift the “dough”, and once up the protein molecules have sufficient strength to support the structure.

The main trick here is not to make the mix too wet. When you mix your ingredients together, you will have something that looks more like a paste than a muffin batter. Don’t worry, this is as it should be. The best dish to microwave the muffin in is a 3-4 inch (8-10 cm) ramekin, and I recommend that you grease it with either a bit of butter or some cooking spray. A little will go a long way to help your muffin slide out.

Lastly: a note about microwaves. They are all different and have moods of their own. I recommend you start on high power, and check how things are doing after about 2 minutes. You should look for a dry looking top and sides that are coming away from the ramekin. At the end, the muffin should slide out of the ramekin without much resistance, usually after you run a butter knife around the edges to release the muffin.

Gluten-free and Vegan Protein-Packed No-Bake English Muffins

What you’ll need:

2 tablespoons pea protein powder

2 tablespoons peanut protein powder

1 tablespoon ground flax meal (golden is preferred)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon almond milk or water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Vegan butter (optional)

What you’ll do:

  1. Place all the ingredients into a small bowl, and mix to combine. I recommend adding a splash of acid (vinegar or lemon juice) last. The batter will be dense and sticky, just FYI.
  2. Pour the batter into a microwave safe ramekin or a mug that’s about 3-4 in (8-10 cm) in diameter and that has been greased with butter or sprayed gently with some cooking spray.
  3. Microwave on high for 3 minutes or so. The top should be dry and look baked, and the sides should be coming of. If all is well, the muffin will slide out of the ramekin without much resistance after you run a knife around the edges. If not, it means that the bottom is still moist, and the mix needs to go back for another 30-60 seconds.
  4. Enjoy the muffin as is, or toast if you prefer things a bit crunchier. You can top the muffin with butter, jam, hummus, avocado, fruit, or anything else you like. The muffin itself is neither sweet nor salty so lends itself to utmost customization!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie
Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

It’s OK to indulge and be decadent from time to time, and in my book the best way to feel indulgent and decadent is to go for some chocolate. Vegan chocolate is not hard to find. Almost any dark chocolate with high cocoa content is likely to be acceptable, so there are no reasons to stay away from chocolate treats. Having said that, if you are trying to drop a few pounds, the recipe below is not for you and most of chocolate treats is probably off limits.

The amazing thing about my chocolate mousse pie recipe below is that it uses roasted sweet potatoes. Roasted sweet potatoes are my favorite snack, often even breakfast , and definitely one of my favorite ways to reduce the amount of sugar that I use in my recipes. Roasting helps the natural sweetness of the potatoes come through, and what you end up with is super sweet and super soft root vegetable ready for puréeing and use in things like pancakes and even ice cream! If you are looking for instructions on how to roast sweet potatoes, you may want to check my post on Sweet Potato Butter for details.

My Chocolate Mousse Pie is as easy as a pie – really! There is no baking involved and all you really need to do is melt lots of chocolate and not shy away from using some butter to help things along. My favorite brand of vegan butter sticks is Melt – the price may be higher than other butters out there, and especially the margarine which is plant-based but just not that good for you because of all those hydrogenated trans fat acids, but I recommend you use it only on special occasions and in small quantities. This means that the pound (half a kilo) of butter will last you a long time!

Final note is that you should feel to customize the frosting to feature your favorite nut butter, or to include cocoa powder for example. I personally love almond butter and also think that almond butter mousse frosting works really well to bring the pie together, by connecting the crust flavors with the frosting. In this way, every single mouthful has harmonized flavors, from the beginning to the end.

 

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

What you’ll need:

FOR THE CRUST

4-6 large madjool dates

1 tablespoon vegan butter, melted

1 cup raw almonds (unsalted)

FOR THE FILLING

10 oz silken tofu

2 roasted sweet potatoes

2 cups melted chocolate

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoon unsweetened, plain rice milk (or any other plant-based milk)

FOR THE FROSTING

1 stick vegan butter

1/2 cup almond butter

2 tablespoons agave syrup
What you’ll do:
  1. To prepare the crust, melt the butter in a microwave (1-2 minutes in 30 second increments until fully melted), then added it to a food processor with dates and almonds. Pulse for 8-10 times, until everything is finely chopped and combined. When the crust is smooth and sticks together well, transfer it into a springform pan, the pan you would normally use to make cheesecake. Using your fingers, press the crust into the bottom, until firmly packed. Place the pan into a refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to allow the crust to firm up.
  2. While the crust is firming up add the drained tofu and chopped roasted sweet potatoes into a large food processor and process for 30-45 seconds. Add the melted chocolate and process for another minute. To melt your chocolate, you can use a double boiler method or a microwave method. At the end, add the spices and plant-based milk and processes until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Pour the filling into the springform pan and even out the surface. Sometimes banging the pan on the kitchen counter helps the filling set, and prevents random empty space areas from forming. Leave the chocolate mousse pie in the fridge for at least 4 hours to firm up. I recommend leaving the pie in the fridge overnight and finishing the frosting the next day.
  4. To mix the frosting, combine the almond butter, butter and agave syrup (or another sweetener like maple syrup) into a bowl and mix until smooth and combined using a hand held mixer. You can also do this using a standing mixer. Apply the frosting any way you prefer. I usually place the frosting into a zip lock bag, and then snip of a corner with scissors to make a hole of a desired size. Holding the top of the bag firmly in my left hand (I am right handed), I then use my right hand to guide the piping bag and create frosting patterns I like. In this case, I went for a flower in the middle, but you can really do anything you like.
  5. After you frosted the pie, pop it back into the fridge for 30-60 minutes. This should be enough time for the frosting to firm, and once that’s done you are ready to pull the pie out. I recommend leaving the pie at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving, and then dig in!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Basic gluten-free vegan crêpes

Oui, oui… we all love crêpes! Savory or sweet these flat wraps are easy to make and delightful. Of course, those in the business of crêpes making may lead you to believe that crêpes are beyond your capabilities. And even if you are brave to venture into the crêpes land, you may hesitate to accept the vegan crêpes challenge. Yet, there’s nothing to worry about as crêpes can be not only vegan but gluten-free as well.

Choosing the right crêpes pan

The pan you use makes a huge amount of difference when making crêpes. You need a good, preferably non-stick, shallow frying pan with large surface area. The pan should also not be too heavy because there is a fair bit of pan handling (lifting, tilting, swirling) that will need to take place. I use IKEA but you can use any pan the fits this description – roughly.

Preparing the pan

I recommend getting the pan nice and hot before adding a batch of batter. Also, remember to oil the pan before each crêpes. I place my oil in a small bowl which I keep on the stove for easy access and use a silicone brush to brush the oil over the pan’s bottom just before pouring in a batch of batter. And keep doing this each time!

The first crêpe is always the worst!

One dirty little secret of crêpe making is that the first crêpe is always the worst!!! So, although this first crêpe will be nerve wracking and make you feel like a total crêpe disaster, please do persevere and things will get better. This phenomenon seems to be all down to improperly oiled and insufficiently heated pan – and following the instructions here or in this very helpful post will ensure that your second, third, fourth, and so on crêpe all come out perfect. What helps is keeping the heat up, oiling the surface and using a really long and thin spatula to gently peel the crêpe off and flip over. What also help is being stingy with a batter. You are going for a very, very thin pancake here and the pictures below show you what my crêpes looked like.

Finishing crêpe touches

There are many different ways to enjoy the crêpes. You can use light spreads, like jams, chocolate syrup or nut butters, or simply sprinkle with some sugar and cinnamon, or go for the classic combination of butter and maple syrup. Chopped up fruit and/or nuts, as well as walnut and almond meal also work. If you are want to totally impress your guests you may want to make a crêpe cake, and if you made a batch of savory crêpes you can definitely use them in the same way as tortillas or other thin, unleavened breads. If you are wondering what savory crêpes are all about, I previously shared an easy to make scallion crêpe recipe with a sesame dipping sauce.

All in all, this recipe is perfect for a Sunday brunch, or a nice family breakfast around the Holidays. It is something that you could make ahead and bring to a pot luck, but the best way to enjoy crêpes is straight out of the pan, while they are still hot and soft. Incredible – oh là là!!!

Basic Gluten-free Vegan Crêpes

What you’ll need:

2 cups chickpea flour

1 cup corn starch

2 tablespoon agave syrup (omit if you plan on savory toppings)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla paste

1 teaspoon maple flavor

2 cups almond milk

1 cup water

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine all the ingredients as listed in a large mixing bowl, and whisk them all together. Let the batter rest for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Place a large pan with a flat surface over high heat. Let the pan heat up then using a silicon brush spread some oil uniformly over the entire surface. Pour just enough batter to cover the surface with a thin layer – for my 9 in (23 cm) pan I use about 3/4 cup. Pour the batter gradually towards the middle and keep pouring as you twirl the pan around.
  3. Place the crêpe over high heat for 2 minutes or so, then lower the heat just a tad and let the crêpe finish cooking on the first side. The way you can tell the crêpe is ready to be flipped is by looking at the surface – once the surface starts looking dry you are ready to flip.
  4. If you have a very good pan and have done everything right your crêpe will not be tightly attached to the bottom and you may even be able to flip it through the air. But if your crêpe is not loose then use your spatula to gently loosen the crêpe and flip it over. The flipping needs some practice, so be patient.
  5. The crêpe needs to cook on the other side for just 1-2 extra minutes. Slide the crêpe out, then increase the heat, leave the pan on for a minute to get it back to being really hot, spread some oil and repeat. Your friends and family may want to start eating the crêpes are they come out of the pan, and I say let them! Crêpes are the best when fresh, so it makes total sense to jump right in!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Snickerdoodled Gluten-free Pancakes

Snickerdooled Gluten-free Vegan Pancakes, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Autumn and winter are both better with some cinnamon. This spice, which is actually a tree bark, fills our homes and kitchens with calm and coziness comes colder weather and can often be found in all the delicious food that surrounds our harvest and winter holidays. For example, cinnamon was the key spice that I used for my Spice Infused Apple Butter, and has made a significant appearance in Pumpkin Truffles, Buttercup Squash Pie, and Pecan Apple Baklava!

But, I don’t want to leave you with an impression that cinnamon is only good for sweets and treats. Actually, this rich spice can add a lot to Sweet Potato Burgers and Meatless Keema Matar, both lovely main dishes with complex flavor structure.

Having said that, these “snickerdoodled” pancakes are probably the recipe with the most cinnamon powder I ever used! If 1/4 cup of cinnamon seems like a lot you could start with less, but for the full snickerdoodle flavor on your breakfast plate I recommend going full blast ahead into the cinnamon bliss.

Because these pancakes are so rich in flavor you really don’t need to fuss too much about condiments and toppings. These are great with a splash of maple or agave syrup, or a dollop of a plant-based vanilla yogurt, or a simple Vanilla Sauce. I hope you give these a try – your kitchen will smell fantastic and your tummy will be happy!

If you prefer regular flour, this recipe can be made following same steps below using 1 cup white wheat flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, omitting corn starch, and going from there. In this case, please go easy with adding water, and start with 1 1/2 cups – that might be enough.

Snickerdoodled Gluten-free Pancakes

What you’ll need:

1 cup fine corn flour

1 cup chickpea flour

1/2 cup corn starch

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 cup cinnamon powder

1/4 cup sugar (vegan)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lemon)

1 1/2 to 2 cups water

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well, then add oil, lemon juice and 1 1/2 cup water. Whisk the pancake batter together, making it smooth and lump-free. The batter should be dense yet flowing, and you can add up to an additional 1/2 cup of water if needed. Please do add this last bit of liquid gradually to avoid adding too much. The mixing can be done in a blender, in which case you will need to add liquid ingredients first (1 1/2 cup water + oil + lemon juice) and then dry ingredients. Mix everything well before deciding whether any additional water is needed.
  2. Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan (or a non-stick griddle) until very hot. I usually crank the heat on my burner to the maximum for 1-2 minutes than lower down to medium-high before pouring in the batter. Please note that if you are using a cooking surface that is far from non-stick you will need to brush on some oil to prevent the pancakes from sticking.
  4. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Let them cook on one side until bubbles stop to form (2-4 minutes), then flip the pancake over and cook on the second side for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with maple syrup or a simple Vanilla Sauce.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

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Creamy Vegetable Soup with Roasted Garlic

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Creamy Vegetable Soup with Roasted Garlic, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Vegetable soups are supposed to be healthy and good for you. But on a recent plane trip I realized that some of the cooking shows out there go out of their way to make absolutely everything in their reach as unhealthy as possible, or even worse – talk up these recipes as good for you, usually referring to them as “soul food”.

Of course, all of us have a soft spot for rich food, the one our mom or grandma used to make… Most people have warm memories associated with big family meals and joy that comes from being surrounded by the loved ones. And, yes, it is true that most of the food consumed in those occasions is not something that any nutritionist would approve off!

To be honest, I don’t disprove an occasional overindulgence, but what rubbed me the wrong way was that during the three hours of different cooking shows there was not a single recipe that would qualify as healthful, and even couple of soup and salad recipes included exuberant amounts of butter, cream, bacon…

As I was watching the continuous array of that heart-attack-in-the-making “soul food” recipes I could not stop thinking that there must be a better way. Actually, I started jotting down recipe ideas and ingredient lists while still on the plane, and this creamy vegetable soup is the first one that I have now fully developed.

I’ve made quite a few creamy soups in the past, like the Cream of Carrot Soup, Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup, and the New England Clam-less Chowder, which are all rich in flavor and light in calories, or at least far lighter than the more conventional soups of their kind. The recipe below is super simple and cheap, so there’s no excuse not to try it.

The only slightly more time-consuming bit is the roasted garlic.  I am not even sure if you can get roasted garlic in the store, if you can you may try using the store bought stuff as a short cut. But roasting your own batch and then using it as needed is simple so you might just as well do it yourself, and here is a good recipe for you to follow (it’s basically putting a head of garlic in an hot oven for 30 minutes or so and you- there, I told you it was easy!)

To re-cap: angered by cooking shows that succeeded in making even soups and salads into a health hazard, I decided to roll my sleeves up and show the world that couple of simple ingredients, like a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, some starch and a carton of vegetable stock, when combined with flavor enhancing agents, like the roasted garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest, will make a wonderful, flavorful and rich-tasting soup without any butter, cream, bacon or cheese. Now that’s some real soul food!

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Creamy Vegetable Soup with Roasted Garlic

What you’ll need:

1 bag (1 lbs, 454 g) bag mixed vegetables, frozen

2 tablespoons corn (or potato) starch

4 cups (960 mL) vegetable stock

2 cups water

4 cloves roasted garlic

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 tablespoon oil (optional)

What you’ll do:

  1. Place a large post over the medium to medium-high heat, add the oil (if using), and all the vegetables. Let defrost and sauté with frequent stirring for 3-5 minutes.
  2. When the veggies have softened, add the starch. Make sure that vegetables are fully coated with a thin layer of starch. Sauté for another minute, just to let everything fully combine.
  3. Add the vegetable stock in a slow and steady stream, while mixing continuously. This vigorous mixing is essential to prevent lumps, so keep at it! You can use a large whisk for this if you like – the whisk works well for me.
  4. Next, add the water still mixing/whisking as you go, then let the soup come to a steady boil. Once you reach that point, lower the heat all the way down, add the chopped up roasted garlic, and allow the soup to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat off, and mix in the juice of one lemon, and all the lemon zest. Serve warm and enjoy! (As you can see from a photo above I had mine for lunch with some buttered homemade bread. If you are into making your own bread via a bread machine, my recipe is here.)

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Vegan and Gluten-free Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Vegan & Gluten-free Baked Eggplant Parmesan, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Eggplant Parmesan – the staple of Italian restaurants in our area, and a frequent favorite of many. Unfortunately, it is so easy to overdo this dish and make it almost inedible. For example, frying the breaded eggplant very often results in a mushy piece of oily eggplant that is far from appetizing. So, to compensate for absence of flavor of a soggy eggplant people usually dump in a whole lot of cheese, usually a mix of ricotta and mozzarella. This makes for a goopy mess of a meal that can be easily avoided by following couple of simple rules. Rule 1: bake your eggplant; Rule 2: make your own tomato sauce; and Rule 3: make the dish 100% plant based.

Prepping the eggplant

Eggplant has a bad reputation for being bitter unless prepared a certain way. However, I don’t remember the last time I had one that was bitter when grilled, or made into a stew. Having said that, for the eggplant parmesan I do recommend that you use the trick that’s supposed to draw the bitterness out. You slice the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and then let drain for 15-30 minutes. The way I did it is to place the eggplant on several layers of paper towels, sprinkle salt, cover with more paper towels, put a baking sheet over the top and weigh with some cans. The amount of liquid that eggplant releases is not enormous but the paper towel should be quite damp.

Breading the eggplant, gluten-free and vegan way

The next step towards your Eggplant Parmesan is breading and baking the eggplant. I don’t recommend frying the eggplant – baking at 425 F (220 C) will give you much better results, and nice crispy eggplant.

To get to a gluten-free version of this classic all you need to do is use gluten-free bread crumbs which are now available in most grocery stores. If you don’t have access to gluten-free breadcrumbs you can use stale and/or roasted gluten-free bread to make your own bread crumbs. Or, if that is not available either, you could use corn flakes and make them into the crumbs! And don’t forget to add some dried oregano and basil to your breading – that just makes everything better!!!

For the breading, you will also need an “egg” mix, in this case some vegan mayo mixed with some plant milk. This mixture gives a nice thick consistency, but if you’d rather skip mayo, you could use just plant milk. The main point of the “egg” mix is to make the surface sticky so that the breading adhere to it well.

Eggplant parmesan breading assembly line

So, your breading assembly line will look something like this – pile of eggplant slices, deep fish (soup plate) with the “egg”, a pie dish with the bread crumbs, and the baking sheet lined with parchment paper sprayed with some cooking spray. An eggplant slice would go from the “egg” mix, to the crumbs, to the pan.

After about 15-25 minutes in the oven the eggplant should be nicely golden and crunchy.

Making the perfect marinara tomato sauce

While the eggplant is baking, you can make your very own amazing tomato (marinara) sauce. The sauce starts with some olive oil and garlic, and includes only five ingredients. You will need olive oil, garlic, crushed and whole peeled tomatoes, and dried oregano and basil.

Vegan eggplant parmesan needs some good cheese

The cheese starts with cashews soaked overnight. It includes nutritional yeast, plant milk, lemon juice and that’s it! As with the tomato (marinara) sauce, this cheese is universally applicable to a range of recipes and dishes. The final consistency is that of a ricotta not mozzarella, but in this case that works great.

Putting the eggplant parmesan together

This magnificent eggplant parmesan starts with a layer of marinara sauce on the bottom, then a layer of breaded eggplant, followed by some tomato sauce then cheese, another layer of eggplant, sauce and cheese, and so on. You can keep layering until you run out of ingredients. Once all the layers are in, put your eggplant parmesan in the oven and let the top and the edges brown. Let the baked dish cool for 15 minutes or so, sprinkle some fresh basil and some freshly ground pepper, then serve with a simple salad. Yummy!

Vegan and Gluten-free Baked Eggplant Parmesan

What you’ll need:

FOR BAKED BREADED EGGPLANT

3 large eggplants, cut across into 1/2 in (1-1.5 cm) rounds

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mayo

1/4 cup milk

1 cup bread crumbs (gluten-free or regular depending on your preference)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

Cooking spray

 

FOR SIMPLE TOMATO (MARINARA) SAUCE

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoon olive oil

 

FOR SIMPLE RICOTTA CHEESE

1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 3 hours (overnight in the fridge is fine)

7 oz. silken tofu

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 lemon, juice

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon salt

Fresh basil, finely chopped (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Cut the eggplant into rounds, arrange on several layers of paper towel, sprinkle with salt, overlay with several more layers of paper towel, then weight down and leave for 15 minutes. This will draw excess moisture out – your towels should be quite damp, so pat the eggplant dry and set it aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with the cooking spray.
  4. In a large soup plate combine mayo and plant milk together. Whisk well. Next, in a separate plate combine bread crumbs and dried oregano and basil. Take a piece of eggplant, dip in the mayo/milk, then move to the breadcrumbs, and lay flat on the parchment paper. Repeat until all the eggplant is used up. You may need two baking sheets for this, so have another one on stand by just in case.
  5. Spray the top with a bit more cooking spray, then bake the eggplant for 15 minutes. Flip it once and bake for 10 more minutes. Take the baked breaded eggplant out and let it cool before handling further.
  6. While the eggplant is baking, prepare the sauce and the cheese. To make the marinara sauce, place a large, heavy pot (I use a Dutch oven) over the medium high heat, add the oil and sliced garlic. After 1-2 minutes, add the can of crushed tomatoes and the can of whole peeled tomatoes that you have smushed with your hands. Let the sauce come to a simmer, lower the heat down, and leave the sauce to simmer with a lid one until needed for the next step.
  7. While the sauce is simmering, combine all the ingredients for the ricotta and blend until smooth using a blender. Set aside.
  8. For the final step you will need a deep baking dish, like the 13 x 9 in (33 x 23 cm) dish. Pour in some tomato sauce, and spread around until the bottom is fully covered. Layer in the eggplant. Top with sauce, then cheese, then add another layer of eggplant, then sauce, and finally cheese. Keep layering until you run out of ingredients. Depending on the size of your baking dish, you may have 2 or 3 layers. If you end up with leftover sauce or cheese, you can store them in the fridge and use for 5 days or so.
  9. Bake the eggplant parmesan for 20-25 minutes, until the dish is bubbling and the top is browned. Let the baked eggplant parmesan rest for 15 minutes before serving and enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018