Peas and Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

By the Gracious Vegan

Peas and Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce 16x9.jpg

This creamy tomato sauce gives the traditional Italian vodka sauce a run for its money. Peas are the perfect complement to the nutty, cheesy sauce, and all kinds of pasta would work well in this dish. The sauce freezes well. 

Makes up to 21 servings

The Sauce (makes 7 cups). Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes. (You can skip this step if you have a high-speed blender.)

  • 1 cup raw cashews

When ready, drain the nuts and put them in the blender with broth or water and blend on high for as long as it takes to create a very smooth “cashew cream.” 

  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water

In a Dutch oven or other large pan, sauté garlic and onions over medium heat in 2 Tablespoons vegetable broth or water until the garlic and onions are soft (or microwave with 1-2 Tablespoons water).

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 

  • 1 red or white onion, roughly chopped 

Add the following ingredients to the pan and cook about 5 minutes.

  • 4 cups plain tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes)

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

Add in the cashew cream and the basil and stir. 

  • 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves (measured lightly packed), roughly chopped (or 1 Tablespoon dried basil, but fresh basil really makes a difference)

Use an immersion blender (or let the mixture cool a little and use a regular blender) to create a smooth sauce. You can add up to 1 cup water if the sauce is too thick. Make it as smooth or chunky as you like. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

  • Salt and pepper to taste (I use 1/2 teaspoon salt)

The peas and pasta. For each serving, use

  • 2 ounces chunky pasta (whole wheat or other whole-food version preferred)

  • 1/3 cup frozen peas (I like petite peas)

Boil the pasta and add the peas into the pasta for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Once they are cooked to your liking, drain them and combine with about 1/3 cup sauce per serving.

Timing: hands-on time 25 minutes; total time 25 minutes  

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta

Print Friendly and PDF

Spaghetti Squash with Cashew Ricotta, Spinach, and Peas 

By the Gracious Vegan

Spaghetti Squash ricotta peas spinach 16x9.jpg

Who knew that vegetables could taste this good? Add a little vegan ricotta and parmesan cheeses to these vegetables, and they become addictive. You can bake this dish in the squash shells or in a casserole dish. 

Makes 4 servings

Make cashew-based ricotta cheese if you don’t have some handy. (It freezes well.) Make vegan parmesan cheese if you don’t have some handy. (It refrigerates and freezes well.)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place the two halves of the squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish. Add 2 Tablespoons water. Microwave them, uncovered, until tender, 10-15 minutes, depending on your microwave’s strength.

  • One spaghetti squash (2.5 - 3 pounds), cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed

Separately, in a large skillet or cooking pot, bring a little water in the bottom to a boil (1/4 - 1/2 inch of water). Add the peas, bring it back to boiling, and cook them 2 minutes.

  • 1.5 cup frozen peas (I like petite peas)

Add the spinach and stir until it is wilted, 1-2 minutes. Then boil for another minute. Drain well and transfer the peas and spinach to a large bowl. 

  • 5 ounces fresh spinach (chopped if it is not baby spinach) (alternative: 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed)

Use a fork or spoon to scrape the softened squash from the shells. Put these innards into the large bowl with the peas and spinach. Then add the following ingredients and stir everything together.

Place the empty squash halves in a casserole or other suitable dish for baking. Spoon filling into each. (Alternatively, just spoon the mixture into a sprayed small-medium baking dish.) Top with more vegan parmesan.

  • 1/8 cup vegan parmesan cheese 

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 400°F until the top is golden. Garnish, if desired, with:

  • Additional crushed red pepper

  • Chopped fresh basil 

Timing: Hands-on time 25 minutes (longer if you need to make the cheeses), total time 50 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food plant-based; WFPBNO

Gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF

Garlicky Grape or Cherry Tomatoes with Angel Hair Pasta

Garlicky grape tomatoes with pasta 16x9.jpg

This easy recipe turns any grape or cherry tomatoes into an intriguing pasta dish that will keep you coming back for more. The combination of garlic, tomato juices, fresh basil, and vegan parmesan cheese creates a magical sauce that’s just hard to stop eating.

Makes 4 servings

Start a large pot of water to boil. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (4-6” from element). Use a 15” x 10” Pyrex pan or large rimmed baking sheet (optional to line with foil; do not line with parchment paper, which will burn) and lightly spray with oil (optional). Put broiler on high. 

Spread the tomatoes on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Broil, shaking the pan occasionally, until they are cracked, very soft, and shrunken, about 15-20 minutes. They’ll be blackened in places. 

  • 2 pints (20 oz.) grape or cherry tomatoes

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Microwave the garlic cloves for 45-60 seconds to soften them. Then chop them. 

  • 4 large or 5 small cloves garlic, peeled

Cook the pasta and drain. Return to the pot.

  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat angel hair pasta

Add the following ingredients to the pasta, toss, and serve.

  • The tomatoes

  • The garlic

  • Large pinch dried red pepper flakes

  • 12 large basil leaves, fresh, chiffonade-cut (i.e., sliced thin)

  • 1/3 cup vegan parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

  • Fresh ground pepper

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 30 minutes

Gluten-free if gluten-free pasta is used

Print Friendly and PDF

Sugar Snap Pea Stir-Fry

Sugar Snap Pea Stir-Fry.jpg

I mostly enjoy sugar snap peas raw with other vegetable sticks. This changes the game! Sugar snap peas are wonderful in stir-fry. They star in this one, along with other vegetables of your choosing. The sauce brings ginger, garlic, miso, sesame, and chili flavors to the party, meaning this is the opposite of bland. This recipe uses no oil or sugar, but you wouldn’t know it.

Serves 4 

Combine all the stir-fry sauce ingredients in a jar or bowl—or use a stick blender to get everything really well blended.

  • 2 Tablespoons mellow white miso

  • 2 Tablespoons regular or tamari soy sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons water

  • 1 Tablespoon minced ginger

  • 1 Tablespoon agave nectar or 2 Tablespoons date paste

  • 1 Tablespoon roasted sesame paste (or Chinese sesame paste) (if you don’t have this, use sesame oil)

  • 2 cloves minced garlic

  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Use a wok, very large non-stick skillet, or a Dutch oven. Water-sauté the following ingredients, using a Tablespoon of water, until all the vegetables are cooked until desired firmness is reached and the water is evaporated.

  • 8 ounces whole sugar snap peas (about 3 cups)

  • 3 cups of other vegetables, sliced or diced, which might include asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, yellow or green zucchini, grated or thinly sliced carrots, mushrooms, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, or cabbage (add red cabbage as late as possible, because the purple tends to stain other vegetables) 

After the vegetables are tender-firm to your liking, stir the sauce in and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Serve on rice. Garnish, if desired with

  • 3-4 green onions, sliced on the diagonal 

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 30 minutes

Gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF

Sweet and Tangy Edamame

By the Gracious Vegan

These are a fancy version of the edamame pods we often get in Asian restaurants as an appetizer. Here I add a no-oil glaze that takes the whole experience up a notch.

Makes 4 cups of edamame pods

Sweet and Tangy Edamame.jpg

Cook the edamame by adding the frozen pods to a large pot of boiling water. When they float to the surface, they’re done (either drain them or scoop them out). (Do not pressure cook.)

  • 4 cups frozen edamame in shell

In a large saucepan (so you can stir in the edamame later), water-sauté the following ingredients in a Tablespoon or two of water until they start to get tender. 

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

Add in the following ingredients and cook at a low boil for 3-5 minutes, to reach the desired glaze consistency. 

  • 3 Tablespoons water

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 3 Tablespoons date paste or 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1.5 Tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame paste (or sesame oil)

  • 1/8 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flakes

Add in the cooked edamame and toss to cover all the pods. Pour any leftover glaze into a small dipping bowl to serve it with. Garnish if desired with:

1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 20 minutes

Gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF

Edamame and Potato Soup

By the Gracious Vegan

Edamame soup 16x9.jpg

This delicious soup may surprise you. Most of us eat edamame only as appetizers in Asian restaurants. Here they co-star with potatoes in a healthy and tasty soup. Some people who say they don’t like dill even like this flavor, so give it a try. It’s super-easy in a pressure cooker, but I provide stovetop directions as well.

Makes 6.5 cups (5 servings)

Add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot. 

  • 1 pound potatoes (any kind), cut into small/medium dice (your choice to peel the potatoes or not)

  • 1 small onion or half a medium/large onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 medium stalk celery, chopped (about 1/3 cup)

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 cups vegetable broth

  • 1.5 cups frozen shelled edamame

  • 1.5 teaspoon dried dill (or 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped)

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (unless your broth is salty, then be careful)

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook on high pressure (“Manual”) for 5 minutes, with 10-minute quick release. 

Stovetop directions: Increase the water to 3.5 cups. Put everything together in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Mash to your liking (I like to keep some of the potato and edamame chunky).

Top with garnishes if desired.

Timing: About 45 minutes with the prep

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Gluten-free


Print Friendly and PDF

Edamame Salad Sandwiches

Edamame are fresh young soybeans, before the insides dry into yellowish-white beans. Those of us who know edamame likely tasted it first at an Asian restaurant, where edamame pods are served as an appetizer. In this recipe, shelled edamame are used as the foundation for a tasty sandwich spread. The beans don’t have a ton of flavor on their own, making it crucial to bring in some spices, mustard, and other flavors. This makes enough for multiple sandwiches – it may last all week!

Makes 2.25 cups

Cook the edamame in the microwave (4-6 minutes with 2 Tablespoons water) or on the stove (boil for about 5 minutes), until they are tender and still a bit firm. (I don’t use the Instant Pot for edamame, because they go mushy even with 0 minutes of high pressure.)

  • 1.5 cups frozen shelled edamame

Once they are cooked and drained, pulse them in the food processor briefly (5-6 pulses for me). Transfer to a medium mixing bowl. 

Pulse the next ingredients individually in the food processor until they are chopped. Transfer them to the mixing bowl.

  • 1 stalk celery

  • 1 medium (or 6 baby) carrots

  • 2 large or 3 small green onions

  • (optional) 1/2 cup olives, chopped (I like Greek black olives best, but green, green-with-pimientos, or California olives also work)

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and combine everything. Adjust the seasonings and hummus/tahini/mayo to your liking.

  • 1/4 cup hummus

  • or vegan mayo or a combination of tahini, water, and lemon juice (2 Tablespoons each of tahini and water, plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice, stirred together before adding)

  • 1.5 Tablespoons stoneground mustard (or other type if you prefer) 

  • 1 Tablespoon roasted, chopped nuts or seeds 

  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • Ground pepper to taste

For sandwiches, use bread of your choice (toasted or not) and one or more of the following toppings.

  • Lettuce leaves

  • Sliced tomato

  • Sliced red onion

  • Dill or sweet pickles

  • Avocado slices

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: Very fast — about 20 minutes

Gluten-free if gluten-free bread is used

Print Friendly and PDF

Chocolate Pudding Parfaits

By the Gracious Vegan

Choc Pudding Parfait 16x9.jpg

I am not a huge pudding fan, but combined with chocolate crumbs and whipped cashew cream, this pudding knocks it out of the park. It’s delicious and healthy at the same time.

Makes 3 cups of pudding and 1 cup of chocolate crumbs  

Soak the cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes.

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews

Blend the following ingredients in a blender until smooth. 

  • The soaked cashews

  • 2 cups water

  • 3/8 cup (6 Tablespoons) maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 2 Tablespoons almond butter

  • 1.5 Tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the mixture into a saucepan, stirring often with a whisk, and slowly bring to a boil. Reduce the heat immediately and boil on low heat for 1-2 minutes, until it thickens up. Transfer to a bowl or other container and put into the refrigerator to cool for at least 3 hours. 

Make the chocolate crumbs separately by putting all ingredients in a food processor or small blender (like a “bullet”).

  • 1/2 cup dates

  • 1/2 cup almonds (I like toasted, but raw works too)

  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 1/2 Tablespoon water

  • Pinch salt

Make parfaits in ramekins, ice cream dishes, or other kind of individual containers. Or make a layered pudding in a larger dish. Alternate layers of pudding and crumbs, then top with:

 Timing: Hands-on time 25 minutes; total time 25 minutes + 3 hours cooling time

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving (9): 181 calories, 10g fat, 1g sat. fat, 23g carbs, 3mg sodium, 3g fiber4g protein 

Gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF

Grilled Olive Tapenade and Almond Goat Cheese Sandwiches

Grilled Tapenade and Almond Goat Cheese Sandwich 16x9.jpg

These sandwiches evoke a special memory. On one visit to New Jersey by my sister and her daughters, I made and packed grilled tapenade and goat cheese sandwiches for our trip into New York City. We ate them on the train, and everyone loved them—they still talk about those sandwiches years later! Once I became a vegan, I feared that I’d never make them again. But now I can make them, even without butter or oil, and they taste fantastic! They take me back to that train ride and the wonderful day trip we had.

Adjust portions for as many sandwiches as you need. Spread one side of each slice of bread with mayonnaise or a very thin layer of tahini. Join together the two sides with mayo or tahini and lay the pairs on a plate or counter so you can spread the fillings on the top slice.

  • Whole grain bread

  • Vegan mayonnaise (I use this oil-free recipe, or store-bought is fine, but is not oil-free) or tahini

Spread a thin layer of olive tapenade on the bread. Then make thin slices of the goat cheese and spread them as much as possible on top of the tapenade.

Heat a skillet or griddle to medium-low. Uncouple the two pieces of bread. Put the one with the fillings on it mayo-side down on the griddle. Top that slice with the other piece of bread, mayo-side up. Cook for 2-4 minutes, until the bottom is golden (it can burn quickly). Then carefully flip the sandwich over. Cook for another few minutes until the second side is golden. Serve and enjoy!

Timing: 10 minutes if all the ingredients are made

Nutrition: Whole-food un-processed (if the mayonnaise is oil-free); WFPBNO

Gluten-free if gluten-free bread is used


Print Friendly and PDF

Red Cabbage with Almond Goat Cheese and Pecans

By the Gracious Vegan

Cabbage with cheese and pecans 16x9.jpg

I owe the genesis of this dish to Deborah Madison’s Warm Red Cabbage Salad. It took a lot of undoing and redoing, however, to create something as magical without oil and without dairy cheese. This is a dish with amazing flavors and totally worth the work every now and then. The dish itself doesn’t take too much work, but it’s not every day that I make the almond-based goat cheese that is a must for this to work.

Add the following ingredients to a Dutch oven or wide skillet. Add 1/4 cup water and cook the vegetables until they are wilted to your preference. This takes about 10 minutes. I covered the pot for the first 5 minutes, then uncovered it for the remaining time so that the water evaporated. 

  • 20 ounces red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced or shredded  (about 5 cups)

  • 1 red apple (do not peel), cored, cut into 8 slices and then thinly sliced

  • 1/2 large red onion, quartered and thinly sliced

  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Add the following and stir just enough to combine. Remove from heat quickly and serve.

  • About 2.5 ounces of Almond Goat Cheese (about a quarter of a 6” round), crumbled

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup pitted and halved Greek or Kalamata olives

  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar (or other kind if you don’t have sherry vinegar, but it is pleasingly mellow in this dish)

  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh)

  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram (or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh)

  • 1/2  teaspoon salt

  • Fresh ground pepper

Timing: About 30 minutes (assuming the goat cheese is made)

Nutrition: Whole-food, unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF

15-Minute Plant-Based Bowls

By the Gracious Vegan

FB no-oil roasted sweet pot bowls.jpg

Bowls aren’t always the fastest meal to make. You have to be very strategic to cook everything for a bowl in 15 minutes. Here are my suggestions. With a buddy in the kitchen, 15 minutes is definitely doable. Even with one cook it’s possible, but not as fun.  

Quick cooking grain 

  • Whole wheat, regular, or tri-color couscous (pour boiling water, amount equal to couscous, over it, cover, wait 5 minutes, stir, wait another 5 minutes)

  • Bulgur (boil 10-12 minutes with twice as much water as bulgur) 

  • Buckwheat groats (boil 10-12 minutes with twice as much water as groats)

  • Quinoa (boil 10-12 minutes uncovered with twice as much water as quinoa, then cover and let sit 5 minutes)

  • Cauliflower or broccoli rice (microwaving is the fastest way to cook these)

  • Prepare frozen or shelf-stable brown rice

 Protein

  • Beans (broil them with the vegetables) *

  • Broiled tofu, tempeh, or seitan *

Vegetables

  • Broiled zucchini *

  • Raw diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions

  • Boiled/microwaved corn, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and/or other

Sauce

Toppings

  • Green onions

  • Shredded red cabbage

  • Olives

  • Pepitas or other seeds

  • Cilantro

  • Lime zest

  • Garam masala

* Easy basting sauce for broiling vegetables and proteins: 

  • 3 Tablespoons water

  • 1 Tablespoon miso (your choice of color/strength)

  • 1 Tablespoon tahini

  • 1.5 teaspoon lemon pepper or other spice mix

Print Friendly and PDF

Zucchini Curry Soup with Legume Soup Mix

By the Gracious Vegan

Zucchini curry soup with mix 16x9.jpg

I’ve already published a Curried Zucchini Soup recipe, but this variation was too good to bury there. I love the soup mixes you can buy that have a mix of split peas, lentils, barley, and tiny pasta. The ingredient list is short, and the method couldn’t be simpler. On the stove or in the Instant Pot, you just put everything together and let it cook until everything is wonderfully mushed together. I prefer not to puree this soup — I like the chunkiness of it.

Makes 5 servings

Add the following ingredients to a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Simmer, covered, for 60 minutes. (Or use an Instant Pot: use 4 cups water or broth, set on Manual for 15 minutes, 10-15 minute Natural Release.)

  • 1 small-medium onion, diced

  • 1 medium carrot, diced

  • 2 medium stalks celery, diced

  • 12 ounces zucchini, sliced or diced

  • 4.5 cups water or broth

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix or other split-pea- or lentil-based soup mix (without flavoring packets) *

  • 2 teaspoons coriander

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Add salt to taste. Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the soup, if desired. 

  • 1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)

Timing: Instant Pot about 45 minutes; stove-top about 75 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if you make your own mix or buy a gluten free mix

* To make 4 cups of your own mix, combine 1.25 cup yellow split peas, 1.25 cup green split peas, 1/2 cup brown lentils, 1/2 cup barley (or gluten-free grain like buckwheat), and 1/2 cup small or broken up pasta

Print Friendly and PDF

Pasta e Fagioli

By the Gracious Vegan

Pasta e Fagioli 16x9.jpg

“When the stars make you drool, like a pasta fazool / That's amore.” This stew is worth singing over! I started with an Olive Garden copycat recipe I found, then I had to take out the oil and meat and build up the meatless flavor. It works! The fresh basil and the combination of oregano, thyme, and garlic give this a classic and satisfying taste. Topping with vegan parmesan adds more layers of flavor and texture and is so worth it.

Makes 7.5 cups (5 servings)

Put the following ingredients in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes. 

  • 1 small onion or half large onion, diced or chopped

  • 2 small/medium carrots, diced or chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, diced or chopped

  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water

Add the following ingredients and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, partly covered. 

  • 2 cans (15-ounce) of cooked beans (I like one can each of pinto and small white beans, but any kind works well), drained and rinsed

  • 1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced or petite-diced tomatoes

  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

While the stew is cooking, cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions; drain well and set aside.

  • 1 cup (dry) small pasta (ditalini is a common choice, but choose any kind you want)

After the stew is cooked, add the following ingredients, stir, and serve. 

  • The cooked pasta

  • 1/3 cup (well packed) chopped or sliced fresh basil (or 1.5 teaspoons dried basil added earlier with the other spices, but fresh works better)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Optional topping:

If there are leftovers, the pasta will swell up and absorb some of the liquid. You can add water or more tomato sauce. 

Timing: about 45 minutes

Nutrition: whole food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if made with gluten-free pasta

Print Friendly and PDF

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

By the Gracious Vegan

Jam Thumbprint Cookies square.jpg

In my quest to devise sweet things with no sugar, butter, oil, or eggs, I found several recipes that involved tahini, one of my favorite ingredients. In sweet foods, tahini can taste a little bitter to some people, but I happen to love that edge. If your tastes run toward very sweet desserts, you may not like these, because the sweetness (from date sugar) is mellow. Note that the date sugar makes these dark—they almost look like a chocolate cookie. A winner!

Makes 20-24 cookies

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two sheet or cookie pans with silicone sheets or parchment paper. Whisk together the following ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • 3/4 cup date sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • Pinch salt

In a smaller bowl or in a food processor, combine the following ingredients until they are smoothly combined. 

  • 1/2 cup tahini

  • 3/8 cup water 

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add the tahini mixture to the flour mixture and stir until smooth. If mixture is still crumbly, add water by the tablespoon as needed until smooth dough forms. 

Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in the sesame seeds before placing them onto the cookie sheet. 

  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds

Slightly flatten the balls and press a thumbprint into the center of each cookie. They will not spread much, so they can be fairly close together. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes or until the sesame seeds just start to brown.

Remove the cookies from the oven and fill each one with about 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.

  • 1/4 cup raspberry or other jam*

*To make a homemade berry filling, mash fresh, ripe berries (or berries that have been thawed) with maple syrup or agave nectar until desired consistency is reached.

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 45 minutes

Gluten-free 

Print Friendly and PDF

No-Bake Peanut Butter Wonder Bars 

By the Gracious Vegan

Peanut+butter+wonder+bars+16x9.jpg

When I was in Seattle recently, I bought a Flying Apron Peanut Butter Joy bar. It was incredibly delicious. I set out to create a slightly healthier version by replacing rice and maple syrups with date paste and replacing sugar-sweetened chocolate chips with alternatives. Based on the rave reviews of these bars, I think I’ve succeeded.

Makes 18 bars (3” x 1.5”)

Line a 9”x9” pan with parchment paper.

Mix the following ingredients in a medium-large bowl with a wooden spoon.

  • 1.5 cups rolled oats (the quick-cooking/instant kind, not old-fashioned, which result in a type of chewy texture I don’t like)

  • 3/4 cup natural peanut butter (I prefer smooth) (heat it in the microwave to soften it if it’s hard to stir)

  • 3/4 cup date paste

  • 1/3 cup raisins

  • 1/4 cup shredded or flaked coconut (unsweetened)

  • 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds or other roasted seed

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Spread the mixture into the lined pan and spread it out into an even layer. 

Top the mixture with any/all of the following – press the toppings into the bars.

  • 1 Tablespoon (or more) flaked coconut

  • 1 Tablespoon (or more) cocoa nibs

  • 1 Tablespoon (or more) chopped nuts

  • (not whole-food unprocessed) Melt 2/3 cup chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon coconut oil together; spread over the top and sprinkle with flaked coconut or chopped nuts

Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour or until set. 

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: 15 minutes to make (if date paste already made), 1 hour to chill

Gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF

Gracious Vegan Carrot Cake 

By the Gracious Vegan

Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting square.jpg

This recipe is an adaptation of Robin Robertson’s recipe for carrot cake. I did the multiplication to have enough for two layers or a 13x9 cake, plus I futzed with the measurements and replaced some of the oil with applesauce. Carrot cake is a bit old-fashioned now, but the autumn-spice flavor and the complex texture are timeless and appealing.

Makes one 8” double-layer cake or one 13”x9” cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. For a layer cake, line two 8” round pans with parchment or wax paper. Spray the sides lightly with spray-oil. For a sheet cake, spray an aluminum or glass 9x13” pan with spray-oil.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. 

  • 3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour (or a combination)

  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients. 

  • 1 + 1/3 cup sugar

  • 3/4 cup nondairy milk

  • 3/8 cup applesauce

  • 3/8 cup canola or other neutral oil

  • 3/8 cup maple syrup

  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Then stir in the carrots and add-ins until just combined.

  • 3 cups grated carrots

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins and/or 1/2 cup shredded coconut and/or 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30-40 minutes for 8” rounds or 40-45 minutes for 13x9”. The cake should be a definite shade darker than the raw batter, with the edges even darker, and a toothpick should come out clean.

For 8” rounds, let the cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert them onto wire racks to cool completely. 

Frost with: 

Timing: About 70 minutes, then more time to cool

Nutrition: Healthier than many cakes

Print Friendly and PDF

Vegan Cashew “Cream Cheese” Frosting

By the Gracious Vegan

This frosting goes well with the  Gracious Vegan Carrot Cake .

This frosting goes well with the Gracious Vegan Carrot Cake.

I don’t like frosting with a lot of vegan butter and shortening in them. I kept experimenting with combining a smaller portion of vegan butter than usual with some whipped cashew cream. The problem was that the water used in the whipped cashew cream made the frosting watery. So I approached it another way: I melted the vegan butter and had it serve as a liquid for whipping up the cashew cream. After you blend them together (with a few other ingredients) until the cashews dissolve, you refrigerate or freeze the mixture, then use a mixer to make it fluffy. I wish it could eliminate the chilling step, but I haven’t found a way to do so.

IMakes about 1.75 cups

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes (even if you have a high-speed blender).

  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces

Melt butter in a small container in the microwave (or on the stove). 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter

Put the melted butter and soaked (and well-drained) cashews in the blender. Add the following ingredients. Blend on high under you have very smooth cream. 

  • 2 Tablespoons water 

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • A pinch of salt

Add powdered sugar and blend again until smooth. 

  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar

Transfer to a container or the bowl you use with your mixer. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 4 hours (or freeze for 2 hours). Then whip it with a mixer on high for about 2 to 3 minutes until the frosting is smooth and as fluffy as you can get it. 

Timing: Over 2 hours because of the needed chilling

Nutrition: Not healthy, but better for you than frosting made with butter and shortening

Gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF

Vegan White Chocolate Cashew Buttercream

By the Gracious Vegan

Almond Cake with White Chocolate Filling 16x9.jpg

After I included vegan white chocolate chunks in a contest-winning cookie recipe last Christmas, I decided I wanted that flavor in a cake frosting. Many experiments later, I have arrived at this solution. This frosting also serves well as a filling, as I show in this photo with the Gracious Vegan Almond Poppy Seed Cake.

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes (even if you have a high-speed blender).

  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces

When they are done soaking, rinse and drain them. Then put them in the bottom of a blender and add just enough water to barely cover them. Blend on high under you have very smooth cashew cream. Set aside. 

Separately cream butter with a mixer on medium speed.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter at room temperature

Very carefully melt the white chocolate. Use a double-broiler or a microwave (for the microwave, start with 45 seconds, stir, then 30 seconds, stir, then 10-second increments). Stop heating the chocolate when there are still a few small lumps of unmelted chocolate in the bowl and stir them smooth. Do not let it cool much before adding to the butter, or else there will be chunky pieces of chocolate in the frosting. Add to the creamed vegan butter and whip on medium until creamy.

  • 3.5 ounces vegan white chocolate chips or roughly chopped bar chocolate

Add powdered sugar, and cream on medium until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. 

  • 1.25 cups powdered sugar

Stir in the following ingredients and beat on high for about 1 to 3 minutes until the buttercream frosting is smooth and fluffy. 

  • Cashew cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • A pinch of salt

Timing: About 20 minutes

Nutrition: Not healthy, but vegan/plant-based

Gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF

Gracious Vegan Almond Poppy Seed Cake

By the Gracious Vegan

Almond cake with White Chocolate filling square.jpg

This is a barely adapted recipe from Vegan Richa. The reason I am not simply linking to it is that her recipe is difficult to triple (I rounded some to the nearest familiar measure for ease) and I added extra nondairy milk, because every time I made her recipe it was too thick. Note that the cake will be darker if you use almond flour made from unblanched almond. I think it’s prettier to use blanched, but both ways work well. This cake has a phenomenal flavor as well as texture. It has a moist, delicate crumb.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9” round cake pan with parchment or wax paper, or use a tube pan. Spray the sides of the pan with spray oil.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, mix the flax and milk and let them sit for 5 minutes. 

  • 1 cup nondairy milk 

  • 3/8 cup (6 Tablespoons) flaxseed meal

After 5 minutes, add the following ingredients and mix well.

  • 1/2 cup granulated organic cane sugar

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar)

  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract (if lemon flavor is preferred, you can use lemon extract or your desired amount of lemon zest)

In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and break up any lumps with a spoon or whisk. 

  • 3 cups almond flour

  • 3/4 cup starch (recommended: 1/2 cup potato starch + 1/4 cup tapioca starch)*

  • 3 Tablespoons poppy seeds

  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick from the center comes out clean.

Cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan. Cool completely before icing. For a layer cake, slice the 9” round in half and fill with Vegan White Chocolate Cashew Buttercream, then top with a berry sauce and berries. Note that spreading frosting on the cut side of one of these layers is difficult, because the crumbs come off the cake and onto the frosting. It works best by piping the filling or turning over the bottom layer so that the bottom of the cake is in the middle.

* A note about starches. Too much tapioca starch (which is the same as tapioca flour) or cornstarch can make baked goods too dense. Too much potato starch (not the same as potato flour) can make baked goods too crumbly. This is why Vegan Richa suggests the blend she does. This cake’s texture is on the crumbly side, which is one reason I like it. You could go half potato starch and half tapioca or cornstarch.

Timing: 15 minutes to prepare it, 30 to bake, and 15 to cool

Nutrition: Mostly healthy, though it contains some sugar

Gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF

Hummus Variations: Beet and Spinach

By the Gracious Vegan

Hummus Tri-color square.jpg

I used to buy red pepper hummus from the store, so once I started making my own hummus at home, I wondered about adding other things to it. These two variations are the most colorful I found: beet and spinach. In addition to being tasty, the vegetables significantly lower the calorie count of the hummus.

Beet Hummus

Process 1 cup of Better-Than-Store-Bought Hummus with one can of sliced beets (well drained) and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Yield will be about 1.75 cups.

Spinach Hummus

Process 1 cup of Better-Than-Store-Bought Hummus with one 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and very well squeezed dry) and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Yield will be about 1.75 cups. 

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: about 20 minutes

Gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF