baked sweets/ breakfast/ vegan

Easy, Chewy Whole Wheat Bagels

It’s a whole new world, folks. The flood gates have been thrust open and I am now welcoming bagels of all shapes and sizes and flavors into my home.

I was able to overcome my vague, senseless fear of yeast long enough today to make bagels. Now all I can think about is how much of my life was wasted not making and eating homemade bagels. While it was wildly foolish of me to ever have avoided yeast, I can sympathize with my former self. The less you know about yeast, the more daunting it sounds… the more you know about yeast, the weirder it sounds. Yeah, so, like… yeast is alive and related to fungus (yum) and your job is to make sure it has plenty of sugar to eat and a warm enough place to hang out. Pretty wacky, huh? I’m enthralled by the aliveness of it. Sure, flour comes from a plant that was once alive and eggs from a chicken that is alive, but yeast is alive. In fact, it’s alive enough to be branded high-maintenance. I was so hesitant about working with yeast because I’d heard tales about how sensitive it is to temperature and how crucial it is that you mix it with the correct ratio of fats and sugars. While the former is all true, I’ve come to realize that the most important element about success with yeast is patience.

I’m certainly not a walking, talking, patience-brewing machine, but, like any virtue, I think patience can be specially cultivated (…for bagel making days, of course! I clearly payed attention in Sunday school). So, with a little help from patience and A LOT of help from vivid imagery (insert imaginary projection of freshly buttered bagel here), I was able to get through the kneading, kitchen pacing, and life pondering that comes with ballooning dough. Yes, these bagels will require a little chunk of your time. And yes, you could be chowing down on store-bought, perfectly delicious bagels in said time. But in all honesty, yeast doesn’t really ask for much. Just give it a warm bath in sugary water, bury it in flour, and let it fall asleep in a warm place; it will do the magic for you.

Ingredients~
Makes 4-6 bagels 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 tsps granulated sugar
Scant 1 tsp table salt
3/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
Sesame seeds for topping

Instructions~

1. Heat up the water and let it cool if necessary until comfortably warm (test: you should be able to easily stick your finger in without retracting it). Stir through the sugar until mostly dissolved and then pour in the yeast, leaving it to sit for about 7-10 minutes. As the yeast does it’s thing, whisk together the flours and salt and in a large bowl, leaving a well in the center. Once the yeasty water appears fuzzy and bubbly on the surface, pour it into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until it no longer appears to be taking shape/sticking together. Gradually add another 1-2 tbsps of water until the dough begins to hold together in one large mass but isn’t too sticky to handle.
2. Plop the ball of dough onto a surface lightly dusted with flour and begin to knead, continuing for at least 10 minutes (drift off to your happy place and think of the soon-to-be wonderfully chewy bagels). You will likely have to pinch flour onto the dough as you knead or dust your hands with it.
3. Once finished kneading, place the dough in the bottom of a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place (I preheat the oven to 70 C before switching it off and leaving the door ajar) to double in size, roughly 1-1 1/2 hours tops.
4. Once the dough has ballooned, transfer it to a clean, lightly floured surface to separate into 4-6 pieces (depending on desired size). I find that it helps to weigh each piece before forming them, so as to ensure an evenly cooked batch. In order to avoid dry bagels, return all but one chunk of dough to a covered bowl as you begin shaping. Using the palms of your hands, lightly roll each piece until it resembles thick rope. Join the two end pieces together, ensuring that they overlap by about 1/2 inch, before lightly pinching the ring closed. Repeat for each bagel, setting them on a tray lined with baking paper and covered with plastic wrap as you continue shaping. Ensure the plastic wrap is tightly sealed before returning the bagels to a warm place to rise for 20-30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 220 C. Bring a large saucepan of water (about 4 inches deep) to boil and slightly reduce heat once rapidly boiling. Add the baking soda to the water and drop bagels in, adding 2-3 at a time; note that the bagels should immediately float to the surface. Cook for 30 seconds minimum (I opted for a chewier exterior and let them sit for almost a minute on each side), before flipping and repeating on the other side. Transfer the bagels to a plate or tray to rest as you finish boiling the others. Once done, place the tray (lined with parchment paper) of bagels on a lower rack in the oven and cook for 15-17 minutes or noticeably golden in color. It’s best to rotate the pan 180 degrees halfway through cooking so as to ensure even browning. Enjoy fresh or store in the freezer and toast/thaw before eating!

baked sweets

White Bean Vanilla Cake

I’m going to be baking a lot more cakes from now on. Last night I suddenly became energized by the idea of cake. Sure, cake is usually full of sugar, hence the energy, right? No. I was simply enthralled by the visual I had created in my mind; a slideshow of cakes being imagined and created and frosted and polished. I eventually moved on to imagining cupcakes (still cake, I know), muffins, cookies, bars, brownies, and the rest of cake’s brothers and sisters and cousins and second cousins.

I don’t know why baking and confectionary make me wanna dance while savory dishes bore me. There is no doubt an element of devilishness weaved into the narrative of baking. When a batch of brownies are in the oven it’s suddenly only a matter of minutes until they will self-actualize and begin to tempt you. Sometimes it requires a lot of unpleasant self-control to stop from devouring half a batch, let along an entire batch, in one sitting. I’ve had this problem countless times. And yet, the annoying dilemma, to eat or not to eat, doesn’t stop the baker from baking. And sometimes, baking and baking and baking, until said baker is forced to share their delicacies with coworkers they don’t even like or neighbors they’ve never so much as said hello to. It’s a bit of a silly conundrum, having too many baked treats on your hands. The baker possesses an abundance of what people either want but are too tired or lazy to make, or want but try really, really hard to avoid being within sniffing distance of. The baker is not too tired or lazy to bake a three tiered cake, being within nose-hair-brushing distance of it all the while, and yet, the baker doesn’t feel any itch of frenzy over how much to eat or not eat. The baker makes the cake because that’s what they want to do. 

And so, back to me. Am I a self-proclaimed baker? Maybe. I’m not sure. The word ‘baker’ is usually reserved for individuals that support themselves financially through baking and that is something I do not do. I bake because it’s what I want to do. I’ve had not formal training. Sometimes a decent tasting cake will create itself in my kitchen as I fiddle around, but that’s it. Or rather, that was the case up until recently. I still fiddle around, but I fiddle around a lot more, so much so that the other day I began to feel a little uneasy with my extreme desire to bake cakes. Great, thanks self, what am I supposed to do with this urge? Not only is there the financial cost of buying ingredients and making ‘unnecessary’ edible things with them, but there is also the question of health and fitness, waters that start to become murky with the presence of so much fluffy dough around.

Despite the former considerations, I don’t want to limit myself to baking a cake once a week. Heck, even twice a week won’t cut it. I can’t remember the last time I was so effortlessly transfixed by a pursuit/task/idea. As for the practical side of things, I think my mind and body would only take a toll (from all the cake) if I dropped my care for exercising and eating platefuls of vegetables in between cake tasting. And moving right along onto the sour question of money, well, cake really doesn’t ask for much. Whole wheat and white flours are cheap, as are dates and eggs and butter (unless it’s all organic of course), so within sane, healthier limits, I should be able to jump full fledged into this new interest obsession. While you definitely won’t be seeing any fancy cakes that call for macadamia nuts or almond meal or coconut flour, you will find cakes that are saturated in genuine, unadulterated love and enthusiasm. And there will also be lots of dancing involved.

baked sweets/ vegan

Vegan Raspberry Swirl Rolls (Refined Sugar Free!)

Ingredients~

Dough:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps yeast
1/3 cup & 1-3 tbsps soy milk
2 tbsps melted Earth Balance/butter
1 tbsp rice malt syrup
1/4 tsp salt

Filling:
2/3 cup dates
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 tbsp melted Earth Balance/butter

Glaze:
1 cup soaked raw cashews (I quick soak mine for 2 hours in warm water)
1/3 cup & 2-4 tbsps soy milk
2 tbsps rice malt syrup

Instructions~

1. Heat up 1/3 cup milk in a saucepan on low heat. Once slightly hot (be careful not to scald!!), transfer it to a large bowl to cool until you can easily stick your finger in without retracting. If the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast! Stir the yeast through the warm milk and let sit for 5-8 minutes or until very foamy and thickened. If your mixture doesn’t change it means the yeast is likely a dud, so try again with more.
2. Once yeast is activated, stir in the melted (but not burning!) butter and syrup. Add the flour and salt, stirring in a circular motion until the mixture begins to come together. If it’s too dry, add more milk by the tbsp. I gradually added two more tbsps. If it’s too wet, sprinkle flour on top and continue to combine. Once the dough more or less forms a large blob, transfer it to a clean, lightly floured counter and knead with your hands for 5-8 minutes. It should be easy to handle, aka not too sticky, and bounce back when you press your finger into it. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the ball of dough at the bottom, tightly covering it with plastic wrap and setting it in a warm space for 1 1/2-2 hours or doubled in size. I preheat my oven to 80 celsius and turn it off before putting my dough in to kick off the rising process (leave the door ajar initially if it’s way too hot).
3. While the dough rises, soften the dates (unless using medjool) by pouring just-boiled water over them until they are submerged. After about 5 minutes, transfer them to a food processor and blend until sticky, thick paste forms. Set aside.
4. Once dough is done rising, plop it on a lightly floured surface and roll it out (about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness). Lather the dough with a tbsp of melted butter, making sure to leave cm or so of space around the edges to make rolling it up easier. Spread on the date paste before adding a layer of frozen raspberries. Use your fingertips to gently roll up the dough, starting with the closest lip; be sure to tightly curl it in. Pinch the last lip of dough together and voila, you should have a great big log on your hands. Use dental floss or a sharp, serrated knife to slice off the rolls.* Give each piece about an inch of thickness and place them in a pan lined with parchment paper. Allow to rise a second time for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours or doubled.
4. As the dough rises, make the cashew sauce. Simply blend soaked cashews in a food processor with 1/3 cup milk and 2 tbsps syrup. Continue to blend until cashew fully break up and only tiny flecks are visible. Add more tbsps of milk (I added two!) and continue to blend to achieve your desired consistency!
4. Preheat oven to 176 C/350 F and once heated, bake the rolls for 15-22 minutes or until the filling appears thickened and slightly darker and the dough is kissed with a toasty golden color. Drizzle on cashew cream and enjoy warm!

* If the dough feels ridiculously warm and gooey, you may want to refrigerate it for 10 minutes or more until cooler/firmer. You don’t want the rolls to squish and flatten upon cutting!

baked sweets/ vegan

A Peach Cake That Happens to Be Vegan

One of the protagonists in a book I recently read, All The Light We Cannot See, is described as eating canned peaches that taste like sunlight,

“Marie-Laure can hear a can opening, juice slopping into a bowl.  Seconds later, she’s eating wedges of wet sunlight.” (121)

Naturally, I became transfixed by the imagery created in that once sentence.

Coincidentally, my brother gifted me three cans of peaches for Christmas.

Obviously, I put the pieces together and made this cake.

The cake tastes like peaches, sweet and tart at the same time. There definitely isn’t an overwhelming tartness to it, but given the low amount of sugar in this recipe (1/3 cup rice malt syrup), the sweetness isn’t all you notice either.

Also, in an effort to make a cumbersome-free cake, the resulting recipe turned out Vegan. And soft, very soft… (meaning you’ll have trouble knowing when to stop eating).

A wedge of wet sunlight.

Ingredients~

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 can unsweetened peaches (about 1 cup chopped)
1/3 cup rice malt syrup
1/3 cup soft Earth Balance or regular butter
2 tsps lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsps baking powder
Pinch of ground rock salt (scant 1/4 tsp)

Instructions~

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F
1. Drain can of peaches and roughly chop them into 1/2-1/4 inch pieces. Meanwhile, whip the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the syrup, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and blend. Once well combined, stir through the peaches.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and add to the wet ingredients. Line two round cake pans with parchment paper and Earth Balance/butter and pour half of the batter in each one. Since each layer of cake is fairly thin, you may have to spread the batter out a bit in the pan to ensure an equal width all the way around. Cook for 18-23 minutes, or until golden in color and the center does not wobble when moved.
3. Allow the cakes to cool before layering with frosting or whipped cream, both of which you can easily color at home with the juice of strained fruit purees (I used 2-3 tbsps of raspberry juice to give my coconut whip cream a lavender color).

baked sweets

Healthy, Non-Traditional Key Lime Pie

It was 33 degrees (91 Fahrenheit) today, so I behaved as any sane person would and ate copious amounts of chilled pie. Not just any pie of course. This was a no-bake, zingy key lime pie with a vegan filling. Healthy fats in the form of pie, please. The filling is packed with soft cashews, coconut cream, and a generous amount of lime zest and juice. Featured on top is a layer of milky cashew cream and carrying the weight of it all is a base of tightly packed biscuit crumbs. This pie screams summer. But by no means should you base your decadent culinary experiences on the current season… I say take control of your life and make this pie regardless of the weather outside (if you’re in the mood for it at least, I’d never force pie on anyone).

No skimping on the crust with this one. Or any pie. Ever.

The cashew cream is by no means necessary for the success of this pie, but it does add a creamy, neutral layer that balances out the tangy, animated taste of the lime filling and the sweetness of the biscuit base. So yes, I recommend making it or whipping up some coconut cream (that has first chilled in the fridge overnight).

Ingredients~

Filling:
3/4 cup soaked raw cashews (I quick soaked mine for 2 hours in warm water)
1/4 cup soaked raw macadamia nuts
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 smaller/250 g can coconut cream (chilled for a few hours first)
1/4 cup & 2 tbsps rice malt syrup or other liquid sweetener
1 tbsp solid/soft coconut oil
6 tbsps lime juice (about three large limes)
Zest of two large limes (reserve the third lime for decorative zest)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of ground rock salt

Crust:
1 1/3 cups crushed biscuits (I recommend original flavored Digestives if you’re in Australia and graham crackers if you’re in America)
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup & 1 tbsp melted coconut oil

Cashew Cream:
2/3 cup soaked raw cashews
1/4 cup & 2-4 tbsps rice milk or milk of your choice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Liquid sweetener to taste (I omitted this, and you may want to initially reduce the milk as this will be more liquid on top of that)

Instructions~

Preheat oven to 180 C/356 F
1. Combine the crust ingredients in a food processor and blend until crumbly. Press the crumbs into the base of a greased/lined pie pan. The mixture should stick together once pressed down, but if it appears too dry add another 1-2 tbsps of oil. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until divine smell emanates from your oven. Once baked, let it cool away from the hot oven.
2. For the filling, add the nuts, coconut flakes, syrup, oil, vanilla, and salt to the food processor. Blend until nuts/coconut break up and the resulting consistency is very smooth and thick. If your processor is large enough, add the coconut cream, lime juice and zest, and continue to blend until batter noticeably thins out/combines. If you don’t have a big food processor, simply transfer the first mixture to a large bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients.
3. Once pie base has cooled, pour in the filling, cover with clear plastic wrap, and set in the freezer overnight to completely avoid messiness.
4. Before you think you’re finished, whip up the cashew cream. Simply combine the cashews, vanilla, sweetener if using, and 1/4 cup milk to the food processor and blend until resulting consistency is smooth, with only flecks of cashew strewn through it. You may have to blend the ingredients for a while, scraping down the sides ever so often if your food processor is like mine (cheap). I ended up gradually adding 2 more tbsps of milk to obtain the consistency I wanted, but you do you. Allow the cream to sit in the fridge and solidify further before dolloping it on the pie (or don’t!)

Note~ The coconut milk/cream foundation of this pie is based off of Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Key Lime Pie recipe!

breakfast/ recipes

Pumpkin Bread Pancakes

Up until a couple of weeks ago, pumpkin resided in the ‘weird and best avoided when baking’ corner of my mind; it existed on a mysterious plane between starchy, root vegetables (like sweet potato) and toss-in-a-salad vegetables (think carrots and peppers), so no wonder I didn’t think of it as a reasonably normal baking ingredient, right?

Maybe I’d notice butternut pumpkin was on sale, $4/kg down to $2/kg, but no pings went off in my brain. Long story short, my knowledge of pumpkin in baking was limited to pumpkin pie. Only after further pondering did I remember the time I was hooked on pumpkin bread in high school. The snack bar at my school served up moist, dense slices of the stuff and I would have it a couple times a week. Realizing the uniquely flavored success that pumpkin can have in bread-making, I decided to take the risk and venture down a less-familiar route with it: pancakes. And boy am I glad I did.


These pancakes have an incredibly soft and moist interior, while still offering up a bit of fluff. I was pretty overjoyed with the ridiculously good-for-you and good tasting result.

Ingredients~

2/3 packed cup pureed roasted pumpkin (or canned)
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tbsp rice malt syrup or other liquid sweetener (add more to taste)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup & 2-4 tbsps rice milk or milk of your choice
Pinch of ground rock salt

Instructions~

1. Combine pumpkin, lemon juice, egg, syrup, and 1/3 cup milk in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and whisk until well combined and the batter is goopy enough to drop off the whisk. If it is too thick add more milk by the tbsp (I added 3 more tbsps of rice milk).
2. Heat up a little oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add pancake batter by the spoonful. Each of my pancakes were about 1 1/2 heaping spoonfuls of batter, but add based on your size preference. The batter will initially spread out a little bit but mostly retain it’s plump pancake shape. Cook for 1-3 minutes on low-medium heat, flipping after tiny bubbles appear on the pancake’s surface.
3. Enjoy immediately with syrup, butter, and/or coconut yogurt (<— it makes for a divine combo).

baked sweets/ vegan

Triple Layer Date Caramel Slice

When I was a kid my grandma, sister, and I would have an annual Girls’ Night. My grandma would let us have free reign (within sane limits of course) to choose a few special items at the grocery store and then we would enjoy dinner, dessert, and a movie together. It was always a fun time. Because my sister and I grew up in Taiwan and only visited the U.S. during the summer, we would wander through the giant American grocery store aisles in awe. Compared to Taiwan, the rows of ice cream flavors, sugary cereals, and candy bars appeared infinite to our little dewy eyes. I can recall one summer when we (I likely did some convincing) chose both caramel ice cream and caramel sauce to be our dessert. It’s a memory I recall with a great feeling of abundance.

Though I’ve grown and changed, I think the vibrancy of that memory (or maybe just the fact that I’ve indulged in it all these years) illustrates my ever-persistent craving for caramel. However, just as age will mature a person or wine or cheese or a person’s taste for said wines and cheeses, it will also mature one’s taste for caramel. So, while the days of tooth-shocking, factory-processed caramel are behind me, the present and future are bright with rich and gooey date caramel. These caramel slices have a chewy base comprised of oats and coconut, a rich center made of mostly dates, and a top layer of dark cocoa and cashew butter to seal the the treasure in.


Above: straight from the freezer
Below: minutes after being handled in Australian summer weather

Ingredients~

Base:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup oat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsps sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
3 tbsps rice malt syrup or other liquid sweetener
1/4 cup coconut oil (melt first if yours is solid)

Caramel center:
2 cups dates
1/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter (or almond butter)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp hulled/unhulled tahini
3-6 tbsps date water*
Scant 1/4 tsp ground rock salt (omit if nut butter is already salted)

Chocolate fudge layer:
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2-3 tbsps unsweetened nut/soy milk (dairy milk works too)
3 tbsps cashew butter
1 tbsp rice malt syrup 

Instructions~
(These instructions may seem long and daunting, but I promise I’m only being thorough! The caramel slices are simple and straightforward to make.)

1. Preheat oven to 170 C/338 F as you prepare the base layer. Simply combine dry ingredients in a food processor and blend until a slightly crumbly mixture forms. Press down mixture in pan (if it doesn’t stick together when pressed down, add another tbsp or two of oil/water) and put in middle rack of oven for roughly 11-14 minutes. The edges should turn light golden-brown by the time you take it out.
2. As the crust layer cooks prepare the caramel filling. First, pour just-boiled water over bowl of dates until they are submerged. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.
3. Add softened dates, nut butter, pecans, tahini, and 4 tbsps date water to food processor and blend. You will have to blend for several minutes, stopping after a handful of pulses to scrape down the sides/stir before continuing to blend (time will vary depending on strength of your food processor). Ideally, the final caramel filling will be smooth and a rich, toasted caramel color. I added a total of 5 tbsps of date water to my mixture to obtain a thick but spreadable filling. You may only want to add 3 tbsps, but up to 6 will not drastically alter the consistency.
4. Once the base layer has mostly cooled down, evenly spread caramel filling on top and place in freezer for at least 30 minutes or until it has significantly chilled before adding chocolate layer.
5. To make the chocolate fudge simply stir together all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir for a few minutes until the cocoa powder breaks up and the cashew butter melts, thickening the sauce. Once combined, evenly drizzle/spread it on the caramel layer and return to freezer for at least 4-5 hours or overnight. After freezing you will find that the base layer has significantly hardened (think biscotti), so before eating you may want to let it thaw for a couple of minutes. Enjoy!

* Date water is simply the warm water left over after soaking the dates. Soaking your dates for at least 10 minutes in hot water before blending helps soften them and expedite the caramel-making process.

mains/ vegan

The Chipotle Carrot Hot Dog

Hot dogs are fun to eat.
Hot dogs can still be fun to eat if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
Enter the carrot dog.

I’ve been fascinated with mock-meats and cheeses/creams for a while now, but it’s no surprise that they often surpass my Young-Twenty-Something Affordability Test. So, in an effort to minimize unnecessary spending and up my creative game in the kitchen, I decided to give carrot hot dogs a shot. Aside from the carrots and hot dog buns (why is it impossible to find whole wheat buns anywhere?), the other ingredients are likely already in your kitchen. If you do have to make a trip to the store to buy them, they shouldn’t require you to fork out much dough (I am a baker on a budget after all).

If you’ve already searched the internet for carrot hot dog recipes you’ve probably noticed the term ‘liquid smoke’ frequently used (click here if you’re thinking what the heck is that?) This recipe doesn’t call for it because A) I wasn’t about to spend money on strange and novel ingredients I’d likely never utilize and B) I wasn’t in the mood to go on a hunt for it around Melbourne. Yes, the former may be close-minded of me (ironic considering the oddity of this very recipe), but sometimes a girl just wants to stick to the basics. So, with liquid smoke out of the picture I opted for the next best thing (or maybe THE best thing): chipotle sauce. Chipotle provides a warm and smoky barbecue flavor similar to that of liquid smoke and it is far more likely to be sold at your local mom and pop shop.

These carrot dogs are meant to imitate real hot dogs, but I’ll be honest and say up front that the texture is quite different from a real sausage. However, if you’re imagining chowing down on a mushy carrot cushioned in bread, stop. These carrots aren’t meant to be fully cooked to the core. In fact, they retain a reasonable amount of crunch in their final form (without being downright raw). As for their flavor, I’ll start by simply saying that they were YUMMY.  In all honesty, I was surprised to be so pleased by how they tasted. While preparing the hot dogs the know-it-all child in me couldn’t help but point out time and time again, “So, you’re planning on masquerading these carrots as hot dogs? You don’t really think you’ll get away with this, do you? And your Mom isn’t forcing you to do this? Really?”

While I haven’t tasted a meat hot dog in well over a year, I can say that the chipotle sauce and seasonings give these carrots a BBQ flavor much like the real thing. Also, the carrots certainly won’t be as oily or bursting with juices as meat sausages, but that wasn’t a game changer for me.

Condiments will obviously help dress these dogs up a bit; just lather on your usual favorite hot dog condiments, the carrot won’t change the way mustard, sauerkraut, or red/caramelized onions taste!

Ingredients~

3-4 medium-large carrots (for more of a ‘real’ hot dog appearance, pick carrots that are more even in width from end to end and shave down the pointy edges)
2 tsps soy sauce
1 heaping tbsp chipotle sauce (I used Tobasco’s Chipotle Pepper sauce)
1/2 tsp paprika (Sweet or smoky)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (sub with white wine vinegar but make sure acidity is at least 5%)
1 medium-large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup water

Instructions~

1. Boil carrots for 8-12 minutes or until you can easily stick a fork into them. You don’t want to overcook them till they’re soggy! Tip: run cold water over them to prevent them from continuing to cook.
2. Mix ingredients in a bowl or deep tray and add carrots. Use the tip of a knife to prick each carrot a few times, staying clear of the more delicate/thinner end (this adds to the BBQ sausage look and helps them soak up more marinade).  Be sure to lather the carrots in the sauce using your fingers before covering them and setting them aside to soak for at least 5 hours (the longer=the more flavorful). Make sure they are at least partially submerged in the marinade as they sit. Alternatively, put them in a large ziplock bag with the marinade.
3. Heat oil in a pan and add carrots, along with a few spoonfuls of sauce. Cook on medium heat, turning them ever so often for an even coating. It’s easy to burn the sauce, so make sure the heat isn’t on too high. Note that it may take 10 minutes or a little longer for them to become charcoaly and look as though they are fresh off the barbecue!

recipes/ vegan

POP Pink Beetroot Hummus

It’s been a few hours since I made (and devoured) this beetroot hummus, but I’m still in awe at the vibrant colors vegetables possess. Motivating yourself to eat veggies is not always easy, let alone fun, but with this pretty option around I can guarantee you’ll be eagerly reaching for the carrot sticks.

Simply toss a few things in the food processor and do a little blending. Maybe a little dancing, too.

Nearly there….



A healthier way to taste the rainbow.

Ingredients~

200 grams or 1 can of drained chickpeas
3 tbsps chickpea water (reserved from can or cooking)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 large lemon, juiced
Just under 1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup tahini
1/2 cup chopped beets (no added sugar)
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions~

1. Boil and peel beetroot if not already done so. Add it to the food processor with chickpeas and garlic. Blend until chunky mixture forms.
2. Next, add chickpea water, lemon juice, olive oil, and tahini. Continue to blend until thick consistency forms and pink color pops in your face. Add salt and pepper and blend. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt if needed.

mains/ recipes/ vegan

Vegan Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

What do you daydream about? Deep-sleep dreams can get weird and dark pretty fast, but cheek-to-elbow daytime dreams usually take on a brighter shade, for me at least. More often than not I’m at my desk daydreaming about scones or pie or cake. It’s no revelation that I’m obsessed with the baked, fluffy, and frosted. However, while I do love utilizing the scrolling feature on food blogs and Instagram accounts, sometimes the endlessness of it all can be overwhelming.

So, when I feel like I’m up to my neck in recipe ideas and visions I try to stop, backtrack, and buy a wagon-full of dried beans. There is a sizable place in my heart reserved for beans; good ol’ fashion home-soaked beans. Given that my boyfriend and I don’t really consume meat (other than fish once in a while), we make an effort to eat protein-dense veggie foods, namely tofu, tempeh, and beans, beans, beans of all kinds.

This recipe calls for black beans but don’t fret if you only have kidney beans on hand, they will work just fine (I’ve tried and tasted). As for the sweet potato, I opted for the truly magnificent Okinawa/Hawaiian purple sweet potato. These guys definitely possess some magical properties and I strongly urge you to seek them out wherever you live. Look on in awe:

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While making this chili I became convinced I had a future in alchemy or witchcraft. I mean, magic-infused sweet potato, fresh and dry chilis, vegemite, and dark chocolate make for quite the odd ingredient list. There are some other, far more conventional ingredients in this chili, but the former list of items are vital if you are after a satisfyingly sweet and rich chili. Yes, this is not a standard American chili. Yes, the ingredients may be puzzling and you may be nervous intentionally mixing them together in one cauldron. And yes, once the brilliant aroma of this bubbling chili reaches your nose your doubts about it will vanish. Again, magic.

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Ingredients~

1 large Okinawa/Hawaiian sweet potato (500-600 grams)
400 grams or 2 cans (drained) black beans
1/2 medium-large onion, diced
4 cloves medium garlic, minced
1-3 small chilis (I used green Thai), minced
2 dried chilis (I used large, Chinese chili peppers)
1 tbsp coconut/vegetable oil
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tsps sweet paprika
1/2 tsp chili
1 1/4 tsps oregano
1 inch-by-inch cube of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or richer)
1/3 tsp vegemite
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups of water

Instructions~

1. Heat oil in large saucepan on medium heat as you dice onion and mince garlic. Add dried chilis to oil and let sit for about 2 minutes until spice and flavor seeps from the chili (you’ll definitely smell this!) Next, add onion and garlic, watching/stirring for another 1-2 minutes or until onion is translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add minced chili and zucchini. Cook for another couple of minutes, until the zucchini is slightly less firm.
2. Add 1 cup of water to saucepan, stirring. Then dump all of the spices in at once, combining them thoroughly with the water-vegetable mixture. Now add the sweet potato, black beans, and remaining water (add a little more if sweet potatoes aren’t mostly covered).
3. Lastly, toss in the chocolate, vegemite, and salt. Bring it to a boil before reducing heat and letting the chili simmer covered for at least 30 minutes. Be sure to stir the chili a few times within the 1/2 hour and leave a small crack with the lid if it appears to watery.
4. Season with pepper and salt and enjoy with creamy avocado!

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