Mostly whole-food

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


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Whole Wheat Flour Tortilla Crisps

By the Gracious Vegan

These tortilla crisps are great on so many levels. First, they're a great way to use up leftover flour tortillas. Second, they taste fantastic. They are just as delicious as, say, tortilla chips, but have much less fat. You can add spices (cumin, paprika, you name it) if you want more zing than just a bit of salt. You can also choose your shape--triangles, rectangles, whatever you're feeling like. 

Heat oven to 400° F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil or parchment paper. Cut tortillas into quarters or eighths and lay them on the paper or foil in a single layer. If desired, spray tortillas with spray-oil on the top and sprinkle a little salt on them. 

  • Four 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas (or whatever quantity you want)

Bake them, switching the sheets halfway through, until crisp (but not burnt), for a total of 5-7 minutes. 

Nutrition: Manufactured whole wheat flour tortillas are made with some fat, so these are not 100% unprocessed. 

Timing: about 10 minutes

I have not tried this with gluten-free tortillas.

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Moo Shu Vegetables

By the Gracious Vegan

Makes 6 servings

Every cuisine has some kind of wrap, and Moo Shu vegetables are a delicious Chinese-inspired wrap. The hoisin sauce is the key. It’s available at most grocery stores, and certainly at all Chinese-oriented Asian markets. It’s sweet and tangy, not spicy-hot. There are moo shu wrappers you can buy at Asian markets, or you can use flour tortillas. If you haven’t tried moo shu before, you’re in for a tasty surprise.

Moo shu vegetables.jpg

Water-sauté these vegetables in a Dutch oven or other large open pan. The vegetables should be tender to your liking, and all the liquid should be evaporated.

  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.

  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced

  • 8 mushrooms (any kind), sliced or chopped

  • 1 small head of green cabbage, shredded, or use bagged coleslaw (1 pound)

  • 1 carrot, grated (if your bagged slaw has a lot of carrots, you can omit this)

Stir the following ingredients and briefly heat the entire mixture together. Test for seasoning adjust with salt and pepper if needed.

  • 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce (will need more below)

  • 1.5 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1/2 Tablespoon Chinese rice vinegar (or other kind, but not balsamic)

  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame paste

  • 2 teaspoons water

  • 1 teaspoon sugar or agave syrup (or 2 teaspoons date paste)

Stir in the tofu

  • 6-8 ounces baked tofu, cut into small pieces (use my Baked Tofu recipe, or you can buy already baked tofu in many stores)

Remove mixture from heat. Warm your wrappers of choice. Spread about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of hoisin sauce on each wrapper. Divide filling evenly into wrappers and top with a bit of sesame seeds. 

  • 12 small or 6 large whole wheat flour tortillas or rice flour wrappers

Extra hoisin sauce

Nutrition: Mostly unprocessed (the hoisin has sugar in it)

Time: 25-30 minutes

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Gracious Vegan Potato and Pea Samosas

Potato and Pea Samosa.jpg

By the Gracious Vegan

Getting the spicing right for these samosas took many experiments, but we’re finally there. Samosas in Indian restaurants are deep fried. These are baked, with no-fat egg roll or wonton wrappers (the vegan kind) and a little spray oil. So these are quite healthy, but with all the warmth and goodness and none of the greasiness of restaurant samosas.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with spray-oil. 

Microwave the following ingredients together in a microwave-safe dish for 8-11 minutes (depending on your microwave). Stir once or twice. 

  • 1 pound of potatoes (any kind), peeled, cut into 1/2” dice

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Gently stir these ingredients into the potato mixture.

  • 1 cup thawed peas

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1/8 or smaller teaspoon ground cayenne

Set out an egg roll or wonton wrapper, spoon a small amount of the samosa mixture onto it, and roll or fold in any way you like. Repeat with remaining wrappers until the wrappers or the filling runs out.

  • One package vegan egg roll or wonton wrappers (I use Twin Dragon brand)

Spray the tops of the samosas with spray-oil, then put into the oven. 

Bake for 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until golden. 

Serve with Mint-Cilantro Chutney or other chutney.

Timing: about 45 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (wonton wrappers use processed flour)

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Easy, Tasty, Baked Black Bean Burgers

By the Gracious Vegan 


This black bean burger has incredible texture and taste without any added oil, except a little spray-oil (which could be skipped, but it helps crisp the surfaces). The burgers are baked rather than pan-fried, which not only saves on oil but also eliminates time standing at the stove. Big thanks to Matt Frazier, the No Meat Athlete, for the starting point of this recipe, his Veggie Burger Formula. These freeze well, meaning great leftover meals! 

Makes 10-12 burger patties

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two large sheet pans with parchment or foil. Spray with oil. 

Sauté the following ingredients in a skillet with water (start with ¼ cup water) for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are transparent and soft and the pan is dry. (Do not microwave, because that results in too much moisture.)

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms (4 mushrooms)

  • 1/2 cup chopped celery

  • 1/2 cup chopped green or red pepper

Transfer the vegetables to a food processor and pulse with the following ingredients until nicely combined but still chunky. 

  • 1.5 cups black beans (equivalent to one can; drain and rinse if using canned)

  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs (whole wheat crumbs work well)

  • 1/2 cup well-chopped walnuts

  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup

  • 1 Tablespoon regular or Dijon mustard

  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Form 3-4" patties (fairly thin) with your hands and lay them on the parchment paper. Spray the tops with spray-oil. Bake for 12 minutes, then flip them over and bake 8-10 minutes more or until firm with brown surfaces. Serve on English muffins or other bread.

  • Whole wheat English muffins, toasted

Timing: Around 50-55 minutes

Nutrition: The ketchup, spray-oil, and vital wheat gluten keep this from being 100% whole-food unprocessed. Pretty close, though!

Nutritional information per serving (including bread/muffin): 242 calories, 5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 40g carbs, 652mg sodium, 6g fiber, 11g protein

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Mushroom-Ricotta Calzones

By the Gracious Vegan

Mushroom Calzones 2.jpg

Mushrooms and ricotta cheese couldn’t be more complementary: earthy vs. sharp, chewy vs. creamy, brown vs. white. Throw in tomatoes and Italian spices, and you’ve got a delicious party going on inside the folded-over pizza crust.

Makes 2 calzones (4 servings)

If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven, preheat the oven to 500°, and let it heat 30 minutes after it hits 500°. If you do not have a pizza stone, preheat the oven to 475°.

The dough. You’ll need one pound of pizza dough, thawed. Most supermarkets sell one-pound slabs of dough. I have not found one that is oil-free. If you want to make your own, note that recipes with around 2 cups of flour make about a pound of dough. 

  • One pound of pizza dough (whole wheat dough works well)

The filling. Water-sauté these ingredients in a large skillet over low-medium heat until the liquid released by the mushrooms is evaporated and the mushrooms start to brown, 8-10 minutes.

  • One pound mushrooms of your choice, sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, grated, or chopped

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Turn off the heat and stir in the following ingredients.

Divide the pizza dough in half. Stretch out the first piece with your hands (or a rolling pin) into a ¼” thick round (10-12”).  Put half the filling in the center of the dough. Fold the round in half over the filling. Press or crimp the edges of the dough to seal the calzone. Repeat with the second piece of dough and remaining filling. Cut a few small vents in the top of the calzones to let steam escape.

Put the calzones directly on the pizza stone and bake for 12-15 minutes until browned. If you are not using a stone, put them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 475°for 16 to 18 minutes or more, until browned. Let them stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.

While the calzones bake, in the pan used to cook the mushrooms, combine the following and cook at low-medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Serve alongside the calzones for topping or dipping.

  • Remaining half of the petite diced tomatoes

  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

  • Red pepper flakes as desired

Timing: Hands-on time 35 minutes, total time: 45 minutes (the times assume you have the vegan ricotta and Parmesan cheese already made or bought)

Nutrition: most commercial doughs include some oil, so this is just shy of 100% whole-food unprocessed

Nutritional information per serving (assuming whole wheat pizza dough): 493 calories, 18g fat, 3g sat. fat, 68g carbs, 770mg sodium, 13g fiber19g protein 

Gluten-free if gluten-free pizza dough is used

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Gracious Vegan Marinara Sauce

By the Gracious Vegan

Gracious Vegan Marinara Sauce.jpg

This recipe started with Isa Moscowitz’s recipe for spaghetti sauce in her Isa Does It cookbook. But I’ve tweaked enough aspects of it that it needs its own identity. You can use water instead of red wine if you don’t like the taste of red wine. 

Makes about 4 cups (1 quart)

Heat a large saucepan or small Dutch oven on medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup of red wine (or water) and wine-sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft.

  • ¼ cup red wine

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Add the brown sugar and additional wine. Cook about 1 more minute.

  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar (optional)

  • Additional ¼ cup red wine

Mix in the spices and tomatoes and stir. Cook for about 15 minutes with the pot covered (but with the lid ajar to let steam escape).

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • Crushed red pepper flakes (about ¼ teaspoon or more if you like it hot)

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Timing: About 30 minutes

Nutrition: The wine and sugar are the only processed ingredients

Total for the batch: 440 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat. fat, 85g carbs, 1058mg sodium, 17mg fiber14g protein 


Photo by Foodista on Flickr

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Pesto Stuffed Shells with Pan Sauce

Pesto Stuffed Shells with Pan Sauce.JPG

I wanted to show people that vegan food could go upscale. This elegant presentation is matched by the scrumptious flavors. The pesto-based vegetable mixture inside the pasta shells offers a pleasant surprise if you don't know what's coming (and even if you do). The pan sauce adds a savory goodness with a hint of wine. This recipe can be easily multiplied to serve more people--I set up this recipe for a romantic dinner for two. Note in the picture that I served this with Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnut Butter. A lovely combination.  

2 servings

Preheat oven to 375°F and start the pasta water boiling.

When the oven is hot, toast the pine nuts for about 6 minutes (until just golden) and the breadcrumbs about 8 minutes, until golden. Leave the oven on after you take them out. 

  • 3 Tablespoons pine nuts

  • Half slice of bread processed into crumbs in food processor, then sprayed with spray-oil

Meanwhile, boil the pasta shells for about 10 minutes – until al dente, but not too firm. Drain. 

  • 8 jumbo pasta shells

Separately, cook the following vegetables in the microwave (or water-sauté on the stove) until the vegetables are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Drain off any extra water.

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion

  • 1 cup mixed vegetables, finely chopped (I use chopped raw broccoli slaw and red peppers, but use anything you think tastes good with pesto)

To start the pesto, mince the garlic in a food processor.

  • 2 cloves garlic

Add the following and process into a paste.

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

  • 2 Tablespoons of the toasted pine nuts

  • ½ Tablespoon yellow or white miso

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)

  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Add tofu and process for a few seconds to mix it in.

  • 2 Tablespoons tofu (any kind)

Transfer pesto mixture to a bowl and stir in 

  • The cooked onions and vegetables

Stuff the mixture into the 8 cooked shells. Transfer the shells to a baking dish, pour vegetable stock into the bottom of the dish, cover tightly with foil, and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes. 

  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock (see additional stock needed below)

While the shells are baking, make a pan sauce. 

Sauté shallot in vegan butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the shallot is softened and starting to turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes. 

  • ½ Tablespoon vegan butter

  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 1/8 cup)

Add vermouth or wine and boil rapidly until pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes.

  • ¼ cup dry vermouth or dry white wine (sauvignon blanc recommended)

Add broth and boil rapidly, 4-5 minutes, until there is about ½ cup of liquid left.

  • ¾ cup vegetable broth

Pre-blend the cornstarch and the water, then whisk the following ingredients into the skillet and bring to a boil while whisking. The sauce should come together in about 30 seconds. 

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch whisked together with 1 Tablespoon cold water until no lumps remain

  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened nondairy milk (I like soymilk)

  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/3 teaspoon dried

If the sauce is too thick, add more broth, water, or nondairy milk.  

When you are ready to serve, ladle a bit of sauce onto each plate, place the shells on top, then spoon on more sauce and top with breadcrumbs.

  • Toasted breadcrumbs (you may not need all the breadcrumbs you made)

  • The remaining toasted pine nuts

Timing: Between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on how much you can multitask

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (except for the vegan butter in the gravy, the 2 teaspoons oil in the pesto, and refined-flour pasta shells)

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta shells

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Gracious Vegan Toasted Quinoa Granola

By the Gracious Vegan

GV Roasted Quinoa Granola 2.jpg

This recipe is dedicated to my brother-in-law Kevin, who used this granola as fuel to hike up the Yosemite Falls trail this summer. The toasted quinoa adds a nice crunch and a solid dose of protein.  

Preheat oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place quinoa in a wide skillet and turn the heat to medium or medium/low. Stir or shake and toast the quinoa until it begins to pop and smell like popcorn, 5-7 minutes. As soon as it has been popping for about a minute, pour it into a large bowl and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes.

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa (white or red)

After the quinoa has cooled, add these ingredients to the bowl and stir.

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Pour in the liquid ingredients and stir until well-combined.

  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Spread mixture on baking sheet and bake until golden-brown, about 45 minutes, stirring twice. It tastes best when it is baked until very dark brown (but not burned), so continue to stir and bake for 5-minute intervals until done.

Let cool completely before breaking into chunks. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Timing: About 60 minutes to mix and bake, then you have to let it cool

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed (except for the coconut oil and maple syrup) 

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No Cream Creamed Spinach

By Food Network

Link to No Cream Creamed Spinach recipe.

No-oil version by the Gracious Vegan

No-oil version by the Gracious Vegan

GV comments: This recipe comes from White House Chef Cristeta Comerford who developed this recipe for the Obamas. It's a clever way of creating a creamy texture by pureeing some of the spinach rather than adding butter and cream to chopped or whole spinach. I even make mine without oil, resulting in No-Cream No-Oil Creamed Spinach -- a mouthful. This is a great side dish and can be served alongside many main dishes and other side dishes. It's a wonderful way to help those who don't eat enough greens to get a significant amount in one sitting. 

Timing: About 20 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (or completely whole-food unprocessed if you skip the oil)


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Gracious Vegan Vegetable Pot Pie

By the Gracious Vegan


I recommend using my Gracious Vegan Pie Crust. You’ll only need one half. You can freeze the other half for a later pie.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Vegetable Pot Pie.jpg

Béchamel (White) Sauce

You’ll need only half of this. Freeze the rest and use next time or for something else.

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.)

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews

Put cashews in a blender, add these ingredients, then blend until cashews are completely smooth (1-4 minutes).

  • 3 cups water

  • ½ cup tofu (any kind)

  • ¼ cup flour

  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pour the mixture into a large saucepan and bring to a boil slowly, stirring frequently. Once it boils, allow it to thicken for a minute or two, then remove from heat.

The Vegetables

Don’t use food processor for chopping the ingredients; it makes them too fine.

For the vegetable filling: In a large Dutch oven or sauté pan, water-sauté these for 5 minutes in a few tablespoons of water (alternatively, microwave them with a little water until soft).

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced or diced

  • 2 cups other vegetables (carrots, red pepper, green beans, broccoli, asparagus), diced

Stir in the spices.

  • ½ Tablespoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon paprika (not sweet or smoked)

  • ½ teaspoon dried basil

  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Remove from heat and stir in peas and steamed potatoes. Set aside.

  • 1 cup peas (or half corn, half peas), thawed

  • 2.5 cups potatoes, peeled and ½”- diced, steamed for 15 minutes (3 medium red or Yukon gold potatoes) (1 pound)

Assembly and Baking

Gently stir half of the sauce (2 cups) into the cooked vegetables. Spoon the mixture into an un-greased deep-dish pie pan. Roll out half of the pie crust (freeze the other half for another time). Gently lay the pie crust on top of the vegetables. Crimp the sides of the crust. Cut slash marks into the crust to allow steam to escape. 

  • One 9” or 10” pie crust

Bake at 375° for 40 minutes, until you can hear the filling bubbling and the top is golden brown. Increase the temp to 400 for 10 additional minutes to brown the top, if needed.

Timing: If you don't have a crust and you're starting from scratch, this will take 2-3 hours because of the time to chill the dough. If you have a dough, it will take around 90 minutes.

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food

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Peanut Dressing

By Bon Appetit

Link to Peanut Dressing recipe.

GV comments: I found this when preparing to lead a demonstration on oil-free vegan dressings. Peanut butter is a natural for oil-free dressings, because peanuts are naturally rich in "good fats," and, when blended with water and other ingredients, peanut butter creates a dressing with a superb texture. This recipe is a bit on the bland side, so I recommend adding cilantro, sriracha sauce, and/or chili paste. It tastes great with a cabbage-heavy salad, because the sweetness of the dressing complements the slight sourness of the cabbage. And it's very fast to make.

Timing:  5-10 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed except for the tablespoon of sugar



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Pasta with Creamy Beet Sauce

By the Gracious Vegan

When I was a vegetarian, I tasted a dairy-cream version of this at a friend's dinner party. What an epiphany! The dish is just fun--bowtie pasta with a vibrant pink sauce--and it tastes marvelous! Beets are super-nutritious, and using cashew cream instead of heavy cream moves this from the unhealthy to the healthy column. It takes a bit of courage to try this for the first time, but if you and your family or friends are adventurous eaters, go for it. 

Prepare the cashew cream. Quick-soak the cashews by pouring boiling water over them, covering them, waiting 20 minutes, then draining.

  • ½ cup raw cashew pieces

Once they are soaked, put the drained cashews in the blender and cover with water just until the water is at the same level as the top of the cashews. Blend for 2-4 minutes until the “cream” is entirely smooth – the cashews will essentially dissolve and become creamy.

In a large non-stick skillet, sauté the chopped onion in oil, vegan butter, or water

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or vegan butter (Earth Balance) (it is fine to water-sauté if you are avoiding oil)

  • 1 small onion, chopped

Add wine and sauté another 3 minutes

  • ¾ cup white wine

Add beets and sauté another 5 minutes (add a little water and cover if they are not getting soft).

  • 3 medium beets, grated

To create the creamy sauce, process the onion/beet mixture in the blender or a food processor with the following

  • 1.5 Tablespoons lemon juice

  • The cashew cream

Sauté this creamy sauce in the skillet for 3 minutes or so in

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil or vegan butter

In the meantime, cook and drain the pasta

  • 12 oz. bowtie pasta

Serve by tossing the pasta and sauce together in a large pasta bowl, or serve the pasta and sauce in serving bowls on the table and let everyone serve themselves.

Have extra lemon slices for those who would like to squeeze more lemon juice on their dish.  

Timing: 35-40 minutes if you parallel-process all the components

Nutrition: Mostly unprocessed ingredients

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta

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Raw Snickers Slab

By Livia's Kitchen

Link to Raw Snickers Slab recipe

GV comments: Wow, I never thought I'd taste a Snickers bar again, but this is very close and, in my opinion, BETTER than a real Snickers bar. This is more wholesome, even as it captures that caramel-nougat-peanut combination that screams "Snickers!" You'd never guess that the ingredients are mostly super-healthy: oats, maple syrup, dates, almonds. You'll have to brush off your metric-conversion skills, since this recipe is from the UK, but it's worth it.

Time: About 45 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food

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Northwest Blackberry Crisp

By the Gracious Vegan

Oregon and Washington are "blessed" with an invasive wild blackberry whose informal name is the Himalayan blackberry, although it evidently is native to Western Europe and was brought here in the late 19th century. The thorns are unbelievably large and sharp, but the berries bake up like regular blackberries...and the price is right! You can find them everywhere. I adapted my fruit crisp recipe especially for these berries -- this one is low in added fat and a definite winner.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, combine 

  • 1.5 cups blanched almond flour/meal
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Pour these over the mixture and stir them in with a spoon or your hand until you get uniform crumbs.

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (or grapeseed or walnut)
  • 1 Tablespoons agave nectar

In a separate large bowl, gently fold these together

  • 7-8 cups wild "Himalayan" blackberries (or regular blackberries), well rinsed and dried
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

Put the berry mixture in a small ceramic or glass casserole dish (I use a rectangular one, but any shape is fine, or even a ceramic pie plate). Sprinkle over the top of the fruit

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Sprinkle the almond meal mixture over the brown sugar. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. (My oven runs cool, so I set mine at 360 degrees.) 

Timing: around 60 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food


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Cuban Black Beans

By the Gracious Vegan

I don't remember where I found this recipe, but it's a real winner. With the overnight soak of the beans and the several hours of cooking, it takes some time, but the end result is worth it. The flavor is subtle and noticeably different from Mexican beans. You could use these beans as the centerpiece of a meal -- on top of rice or baked potatoes, perhaps. Surround that with a green salad and some roasted sweet potatoes or some corn, and you've got yourself a winning meal. Black beans are super-healthy, and the added vegetables in this dish add fiber and nutrients. 

Rinse beans and sort out any dirt or gravel.

  • 1 pound black beans

Cover with water by 2 or 3 inches, add the pepper, and let sit overnight

  • 10 cups water
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped fine (this is the first of two green bell peppers)

Next day:

Bring beans to a boil in their soaking water (if it's not one inch above the top of the beans, add more to get to that level), then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. DO NOT ADD SALT YET.

While the beans cook, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the following:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped fine

Transfer these sautéed vegetables to the pot of beans when they are tender. Then add

  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Let simmer for one hour more.  Then add

  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons dry white wine

Let cook for one more hour.

Garnish any way you like: cilantro, tomatoes, etc.

Timing: Overnight soak then about 3 hours of cooking

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (all whole-food unprocessed if you leave out the olive oil)


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Broccoli Rabe or Mustard Greens Stir-Fry

By the Gracious Vegan

A great dish for using your farmers' market greens!  This is downright healthy, even as Thai food goes. No coconut milk is used; the peanuts, jalapeno, and cilantro combine with the bitter broccoli rabe or mustard greens for a bracing and delicious entree

Makes 3-4 servings

Prepare the Rice

You’ll need about 3 cups of cooked brown rice. You can cook your own (start with 1 cup dried rice) or buy the kind that you can heat up in 90 seconds in the microwave (Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice or Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice; they are both excellent; you’ll need two packages).

Prepare the Broccoli Rabe or Mustard Greens

Use about 1.5 pounds of broccoli rabe. Chop it as much as you want (or not), then drop the bunch into a pot of boiling water. Cook for 5-10 minutes, depending on how tender you like it. Drain.


Use a large bunch of mustard greens (take out the stems and slice the leaves) or a large bag of mustard greens. Drop into a pot of boiling water. Cook about 10 minutes. Drain.

The Stir-Fry

Water-sauté the following ingredients until they are just tender (a couple of minutes).

  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (see more needed below)

  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped ginger

Add the following ingredients and stir until everything is hot.

  • The brown rice

  • The broccoli rabe or mustard greens

Then add the following ingredients, stir, and serve

  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (or leave them whole if you like)

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • Sriracha sauce as desired (mixed in or on the side)

Timing: Between 30 and 45 minutes, including prepping and chopping the ingredients

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO


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Gracious Vegan Brunch Tater Tot Casserole

I adapted this, with many failures along the way, from an egg-based recipe I had from years back. The tofu-based quiche filling is the key--who knew hummus would be the secret ingredient that makes it all work? My version is a mash-up of recipes from the Minimalist Baker and Fat Free Vegan. The casserole, with its top layer of sizzling browned tater tots, is a "wow" dish best served right out of the oven, but it might also work in certain potluck situations where you can reheat it in an oven so the tater tots are crisp. I enjoy the leftovers warmed up in the microwave, but I eat them with the memory of crisp potatoes. 

Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Spray a 9”x13” pyrex rectangular pan or other similar baking/casserole dish with spray-oil.

Water-sauté in medium skillet (alternatively, microwave them for 4 or more minutes until soft without oil) until vegetables are just soft and all the water has evaporated.

  • 1 small/medium onion, diced

  • 1 medium green pepper, diced (or a combination of red and green)

  • 3 cups vegetables, cut into thin slices or small dice (one or combination of broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, cabbage or other to your liking)

  • 8-10 ounces sliced or chopped mushrooms (3-4 cups)

Separately, combine the following ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

  • Two 12.3 ounce packages extra firm or firm silken tofu, drained of any liquid (use the kind in the vacuum pack, not the fresh packs)

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot or potato starch)

  • 6 Tablespoons hummus

  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon namala black salt if you have it, or regular salt

Pour the “quiche” mixture into the sautéed vegetables and gently fold together. Spread the mixture into the 9”x13” pan. Put tater tots on top in a single layer

  • 2 lbs. tater tots, thawed (put in refrigerator the night before)

Bake in preheated 350⁰ oven for 50 minutes or more, until the quiche underneath just starts to turn golden. (If the mixture is close to the top of the pan, put a large rimmed baking sheet underneath.) Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Timing: about 90 minutes, including prep and baking

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed except for the oil in the tater tots


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Marisa's Baked Beans

By the Gracious Vegan

Marisas baked beans 2018 FB.jpg

This recipe was dictated to me by my friend Marisa. I’ve tweaked it over the years, but it tastes as miraculous now as it did then. It is semi-homemade—the canned vegetarian beans are augmented with great-tasting add-ins, then the whole thing is baked for a long time so the flavors blend.

Stir these together in a 2-quart casserole

  • 3 cans (15-16 oz. each) vegetarian baked beans

  • 3/8 cup ketchup

  • One spoonful mustard

  • Scant ¼ cup brown sugar

  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion, chopped

  • 1 small or 1/2 large green pepper, chopped

Bake, covered, for 2.5 hours total: 30 minutes at 500⁰, one hour at 350⁰, and one hour at 200⁰.

Timing: About 3 hours, start to finish

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food



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Spinach Salad with Curry Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

Spinach Salad with Curry Dressing square.jpg

I don’t know exactly where I found the original version of this recipe. This always pleases, no matter where I take it. Don’t skip the dry vermouth in the dressing—it is crucial for the unique taste.

Toss together

  • One bag baby spinach (8-10 oz.)

  • 1 green apple, diced

  • 1/3 cup peanuts or walnuts, toasted

  • 1/4 cup golden raisins

  • 1/2 bunch scallions, white and green parts, sliced thin

Make the dressing. Use an immersion blender or small blender to blend all the ingredients together.

  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini

  • 2 Tablespoons water

  • 1 Tablespoon dry vermouth

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar (optional)

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Timing: Under 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed except for the vermouth and the agave nectar


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