About equal processed/unprocessed

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

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie with Gingersnap Crust

By The Gracious Vegan

FB Sweet potato pecan pie.jpg

Make this for Thanksgiving and you will be showered with praise. It’s not whole-food unprocessed, but it’s incredibly delicious and can show omnivores how good desserts can be without dairy and eggs.

Makes: 12 slices

Preheat oven to 365° F.

Crust. Use a food processor to break down the gingersnap cookies into crumbs

  • 9 ounces gingersnap cookies

Add the following ingredients and process briefly until incorporated. 

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 5 Tablespoons vegan butter, melted

Transfer the crumbs to a 9-inch springform pan and pat with your hands into the bottom and up the sides (about 1 - 1.5 inches). Bake the crust for 5 minutes.

Sweet potato layer. Process the following ingredients in the food processor until smooth.

  • 1.5 cups cooked sweet potato (18 ounces baked or microwaved, skins removed)

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup tofu (I prefer firm silken tofu that comes in the vacuum pack) (see more tofu needed below)

  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Carefully spread the sweet potato mixture over bottom of pie shell.

Pecan layer. Sprinkle the pecans over the sweet potato layer.

  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Process the following ingredients in the same food processor.

  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup

  • 3/8 cup tofu (same recommendation as above)

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the corn syrup mixture gently over the nuts and smooth it out evenly. 

Bake for 60 minutes or until the top is bubbly and the filling looks almost fully set. Cool on wire rack.

Serve with Vegan Whipped Cream.

Timing: Hands-on time 30 minutes; Total time 90 minutes + cooling

Nutrition: About equal processed and unprocessed ingredients. 

Nutritional information per serving: 336 calories, 13g fat, 3g sat. fat, 52g carbs, 255mg sodium, 2mg fiber, 3g protein 

Gluten-free if gluten-free crust is used

Print Friendly and PDF

Gracious Vegan Fruitcake

By the Gracious Vegan

Gracious Vegan Fruitcake square.jpg

Fruitcake without candied fruit, just dried fruit! What a joy! This recipe has been a long journey for me, but it's been worth it. It all started with a "Wall Street Journal" mention of a recipe by Brian Paul, which I can't find online anymore. I had to veganize it, and it took about 5 years (making it once a year) to get right. But now it works incredibly well, and it's delicious.

The Fruit and Rum. Chop everything up into small pieces with a heavy, sharp knife. (The vegan cake batter doesn’t hold large fruit pieces together well; having small pieces is key to the cake not crumbling.) Place in a gallon Ziplock bag. Of course, try your own combination of fruits if you like -- aim for a total of about 2 pounds of dried fruit. 

  • Dried apples (6 oz.)

  • Dried pineapple (4 oz.)

  • Date bits (4 oz.)

  • Dried apricots (4 oz.)

  • Golden raisins, currants, or dried blueberries (4 oz.)

  • Dried cranberries (4 oz.)

  • Dried cherries (4 oz.)

Pour ¾ cup of Myers's dark rum (golden rum also fine) over the fruit bits, close the bag, toss them, and let them sit for a few hours to absorb the liquid. If they absorb the ¾ cup, add more in ¼-cup increments.

The Nuts. 1.5 pounds pecans, well chopped (again, the vegan cake batter has trouble holding large nut pieces together).

The Pans. I use four disposable 8” x 4” aluminum pans, or sometimes 3 of those plus 3 smaller pans (so that I can give them away as gifts). Loaf pans, ring molds, or other pans are fine, too. Coat aluminum pans with cooking oil spray. For others, spray and line with parchment paper. Don't use waxed paper.

The Batter. Whisk these together in a small bowl. Let sit 10 minutes while you prep the next ingredients.

  • 3/4 cup warm water

  • 3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed

  • 1 Tablespoon Ener-G powder

Sift together in a bowl or bag

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 Tablespoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2.5 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons cloves

  • 2 teaspoons allspice

  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon mace

Combine these in a small bowl. 

  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Start batter. Cream together 5 minutes or until fluffy

  • 1.5 cups sugar

  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine (room temperature)

Add flaxseed-Ener-G mixture and beat until combined.

Alternate dry and wet ingredients and use low speed to combine without over-beating.  

Put the soaked fruit in a very large bowl—discard (or otherwise dispose of…hint hint) any extra rum that the fruit did not absorb.

Spoon the batter on top of the fruit in the large bowl, then add the nuts. Use a wooden spoon or just plunge in with your hands. Mix it all up. You will have a mixture that is mostly fruits and nuts with just enough batter to hold it together.

Assembly and Baking. Place the finished batter in the prepared pans, pressing down very well to fill in the corners. You can fill the pans almost to the brim because the cake will rise only slightly.

Place the pans in the lower third of a 275 degree oven for about 1 hour and 50 minutes, until a knife or testing stick comes out clean, the top is golden brown, and the fruit on top starts to change to darker colors. Timing is extremely variable. Small cakes will cook quicker, and larger cakes take longer. Test each cake separately and take it out as soon as your tester comes out clean. To paraphrase the old Orson Welles wine commercial: "We will take no fruitcake from the oven before its time."

When the cakes are done, let them cool on racks in their pans. When they are cool, use a plastic knife to loosen any stuck spots as you gently remove the cakes from the pans.

Sprinkle the cakes all over with rum or juice to get the outsides good and moist. Enclose them in plastic bags or, if you use aluminum pans, put them back in their pans and enclose the pans in plastic bags or cover well with plastic wrap or foil.

We like to eat one loaf starting on Day 2, like a Beaujolais wine. Other loaves we let mature in the refrigerator or other cool space for at least a couple of weeks to blend the flavors. If they seem to be getting dry, sprinkle on more liquid, but don't make them wet and soggy. After 3 months or so they lose their tastiness, so enjoy within 3 months.  

For chocolate-covered fruitcake. Slice the fruitcake.  Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and 1.5 Tablespoons vegetable oil. Spoon and spread the chocolate on one side of the slices, laying each on a sheet of waxed paper, then coat the other side and let harden in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Timing: About equal processed and unprocessed ingredients

Print Friendly and PDF

Chocolate Infinity Pie

GV comments: This phenomenal recipe could become a staple in your repertoire. It comes out perfect every time--no trickiness here. And it's relatively healthy. There's a package of tofu in the filling, but none of my guests have yet guessed it. The divine crust and creamy chocolate texture of the filling win people over. Frankly, they don't care what's in it. 

Timing: Over 2 hours, but that's only because it needs to be chilled for 6 hours to firm up. The active preparation takes less than 30 minutes.

Nutrition: Healthier than most pies... The chocolate chips and maple syrup are the only processed foods.


Print Friendly and PDF

Cookie Dough Truffles Vegan Gluten-Free

By Vegan Richa

Link to Cookie Dough Truffles Vegan Gluten-Free recipe

GV comments: My sister made these on my birthday this year. All I can say is "WOW"! All the omnivores loved them, too. They're not super healthy, but they have much less fat than regular truffles. I recommend them highly!

Timing: Under an hour, including time for the melted chocolate to set in the fridge

Nutrition: About equal processed/unprocessed


Print Friendly and PDF

Fruit Crisp Theme and Variations

By the Gracious Vegan

Fruit crisp is successful in so many different ways: I couldn’t pin down just one favorite recipe for this one. I’ve presented a number of mix-and-match alternatives—choose one topping and one filling. Try them all!

Fruit Crisp Theme and Variations.jpg

Preheat the oven to 350˚.

Topping (choose one)

 Option 1: Almond Goodness

In a medium bowl, combine almond flour and sea salt.

  • 1.5 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

In a small bowl, combine oil and agave. Stir wet ingredients into dry and set aside.

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar

 Option 2: Traditional Strudel

Mix until crumbly

  • 1 cup flour (or ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour and ½ cup instant oats)
  • 2/3 cup evaporated cane sugar

Use a pastry cutter to cut in. Set aside at this point or after stirring in the optional add-in.

  • 5-6 Tablespoons margarine

Optional: stir in

  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds or chopped hazelnuts or chopped walnuts

 Filling (choose one)

 Option 1: Pear Cranberry

Place all these together in a large bowl; toss together until fruit is coated.

  • 4 ripe, medium pears (about 1.75 pounds), each peeled and each cut lengthwise into 16 thin slices
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar

Place mixture in an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish or equivalent size.

Option 2: Keeping it Simple

Cut up fruit and put in a baking dish

  • 4 cups fruit (apples, blueberries, pears, peaches, raspberries, etc.)

Toss fruit with

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Place mixture in an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish or equivalent size.

Spread brown sugar over the top of the fruit

  • 1/3 to ½ cup brown sugar

Option 3: Strawberry

Toss together

  • 3 pints strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
  • 1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt

Place mixture in an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish or equivalent size.

Option 4: Cranberry Orange

Toss together

  • 3 cup cranberries (one 12-ounce bag)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • Finely grated rind of one orange
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoon orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier)
  • ½ teaspoon minced, dried orange peel (optional)

Place mixture in an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish or equivalent size.

Sprinkle topping over fruit. Bake for 45–60 minutes (for pear-cranberry version, cover for first 45 minutes), until fruit is soft and bubbling and topping is lightly browned.

Timing: 60-120 minutes

Nutrition: About equal processed/unprocessed


Print Friendly and PDF

Apple Raisin Cake

By The Gracious Vegan

The recipe for this lovely and very reliable apple cake is adapted from Gourmet magazine. My friend Jo found the recipe, and another friend, Patty, veganized it. It doesn’t need frosting, but you could dust it with powdered sugar,  top it with an apple or cinnamon glaze, or—my favorite—top it with a dollop of whipped coconut cream.  

Preheat oven to 350⁰. Use cooking spray to coat 12-cup bundt or tube pan. Wipe off excess with paper towel. Gently flour if your pan needs it. 

Create egg substitute in a small bowl by whisking together

  • 2 Tablespoons Ener-G powder
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Sift together in a medium bowl 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk together separately in a large bowl

  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 generous teaspoon vanilla

Fold the flour mixture and the egg replacements into the wet ingredients until just combined.

Fold in apples and raisins and spoon into the pan. Even out the batter.

  • 3 Cortland or Empire apples, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • ½ cup raisins

Bake in the middle of the oven until a tester comes out clean. Check after 55 minutes, but it may take up to 75 minutes. Cool in pan or rack for 10 minutes, then turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Timing: Over 2 hours

Nutrition: About equal processed/unprocessed

Not gluten-free

Print Friendly and PDF