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!

breakfast/ vegan

No Oil Crunchy Golden Granola

Another day, another bowl of crunchy homemade granola. Ignoring the advice from successful food bloggers everywhere (under no circumstances should you post about granola two times in three days), I decided to whip together another batch of granola to share with you. Unlike my previous Coco Puffs inspired granola, this one is oil free and flavored with toasted cinnamon and nutmeg… mm mmm!

Homemade granola used to sound unattainable to me (what do you mean I can easily replicate delicious store bought granola in the comfort of my own kitchen?). Little effort, big reward. Also, making your own granola will save you money. I’m still baffled by how expensive store-bought granola is; even the brands that market themselves as ‘healthy’ and thus, more ‘worthy’ of your dollars, usually have heaps of sugar or oil in one serving (and who honestly sits down and eats one measly serving of granola at a time? The answer is no one. Not even babies).

After some trial and error batches, I learned that chia seeds are crucial in holding together the crunchy chunks otherwise created by more oil and sugar; and don’t let their size fool you, chia seeds are densely packed with fiber, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and protein, making it easier to go without snacking before lunch.

Ingredients~

1 cup traditional rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup chopped pecans (or nut of your choice)
2 tbsps chia seeds
2 tbsps sunflower seeds (pumpkin seeds are great too)
3-4 tbsps rice malt syrup/honey or other liquid sweetener
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg (about 1/16 tsp)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup puffed brown rice (optional)
Generous sprinkle of unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Instructions~

Preheat oven to 165 C or 329 F
1. Mix oats, shredded coconut, nuts, chia, spices, and salt in large bowl. Add syrup and, using clean hands, combine the granola using your fingertips. Be sure to separate any unusually large chunks of granola the syrup may have favored.
2. Lay the granola out on a baking tray, making sure to create one even layer for optimal crunchiness. Bake for 10 minutes, before turning the tray 180 degrees and baking for another 7-12 minutes or until light brown and toasted.
3. Allow the granola to fully cool (this will help it gain more crunch) before mixing in brown rice puffs and coconut flakes (or dried fruit). Serve with icy cold nut or soy milk!

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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baked sweets/ recipes/ vegan

Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Nut & Date Crust

Confession: I have never successfully made a pie on my own… until today that is, when this easy-peasy pumpkin pie fell into my lap. Okay, you will have to get off your tush to whip this together, but it won’t require you to cash in much effort or time AND it will be so worth it. Breakfast. Lunch. Snack. Dinner. This pie is healthy enough to constitute being a main course at every meal (aka that’s how my post-pie-making day played out).

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I don’t know about you, but the idea of successfully making a pressed and flaky homemade crust is what deterred me from making pie all these years. Alas, the discovery of date and nut crust. This crust recipe is like that super chill, undemanding friend of yours. You know the one that always radiates positive vibes and makes you feel good about yourself and life? Yes, well, this pie is just as unchallenging to deal with and (bonus points) it will leave you feeling proud of yourself for having just made a pie. from. scratch. That’s a pretty noteworthy accomplishment if you ask me. Why don’t you have a slice to celebrate?? I did.

ppie3.jpgpie8.jpgpie7.jpgJust look at this hearty, homey beauty. Sit by the fire with it awhile or make a place for it at the dining room table.

Ingredients~

Filling:

1 1/2 generous cups pureed roasted pumpkin (roasted without salt/oil/seasoning)
Heaping 1/2 cup dates*
2-4 tbsps brown rice malt syrup (I added 2 tbsps but increase it to fit your sweet tooth)
1 can full fat coconut cream (only use the top thickened cream, save the liquid for another use!)
3 tsps pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp Himalayan salt

Crust:
Heaping cup of dates*
2/3 cup pecans
2/3 cup almonds
2/3 cup traditional rolled oats
2 tbsps rice malt syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Scant 1/4 cup water

Instructions~

Preheat oven to 176 celsius/350 F
1. Roast pumpkin. After it has cooled, puree it in food processor along with the dates and syrup. Once thoroughly blended transfer it to a large bowl and add the coconut cream, spices, and salt. Blend with hand-held mixer or whisk until thick, copper colored mixture forms. Set aside.
2. To make the crust begin by blending dates, nuts, syrup, and coconut oil in food processor. Once a crumbly, but moist mixture forms transfer it to a bowl.
3. Next, add the oats and spice to the processor and blend. Once blended add 1/2 the date and nut mixture back to the processor to blend and combine. Add the remaining date and nut mixture, along with 1/4 cup water. Blend. The result will still be fairly crumbly but should be wet enough to stick together when pressed down in your pie pan. If it’s still too dry add water or nut milk by the tbsp and continue to combine and check.
4. Press crust mixture into pie pan, evenly spreading it out using finger tips. Be sure to press it up against the edges of the pan, too! Now for the fun part: pour the patiently-waiting pumpkin filling into the center of the crust and spread it out with a spatula. Give it a little swirl in the center (harder than it looks; my boyfriend, Matt, did the honors) and put it in the middle rack of your oven for 35 minutes, turning it 180 degrees at the halfway point.
5. Once baked (it will still jiggle a little/seem undercooked in the middle), cool it in your fridge for at least 5-6 hours (overnight=optimal). Enjoy with coco whip or ice cream as you deliver your heartfelt farewells!

* If using regular dates be sure to soak them in hot water for 5-10 minutes before blending them. Unlike medjool dates, regular store-bought ones can be quite firm and dry, so soaking helps soften them up a bit.

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baked sweets/ recipes/ vegan

Vegan Sweet Potato Brownies

When I was growing up my mom had a collection of binders full of recipes cut out from magazines and photocopied from cookbooks. Some were family favorites that had been enjoyed by her parents and relatives while others had been accumulated by her over the years. I remember viewing the binders as one would a trove of mysterious treasure. Such a collection couldn’t be instantly bought or made, it had to be slowly gathered over years of (often un-purposeful) searching and discussing.

As a kid I imagined my future self with a thick book full of personally found and mastered recipes. I am certain that this sweet potato brownie recipe has a special place in said book. It is a dessert that I have enjoyed three times now (in the last 1 1/2 months) and each time it has gotten better. Before tucking it away in my “to-be-compiled-into-a-cooking-bible” folder I thought I ought to share the unbelievably healthy and chocolatey magic with you. Safeguard this recipe in your own big binder… it is a beauty!

Ingredients~

1 cup whole wheat flour (about 90 grams)
1 large orange sweet potato (500-550 grams)
1 cup chopped dates (add a bit less if using medjool)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsps brown rice malt syrup or other liquid sweetener
1/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter
2 tbsps coconut/vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Chocolate chunks/chips to stir through

Instructions~

Preheat oven to 185 celsius
1. Peel and chop sweet potato before boiling. Remove from stove once soft and tender. Blend potato chunks in food processor and add dates, mixing until they form a mostly smooth consistency.
2. Add syrup/honey, peanut butter, oil, and vanilla extract to potato mixture and combine well.
3. Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl and add sweet potato mixture. The resulting batter should be quite sticky and dense.
4. Evenly lay out batter on lined baking tray and bake for 30-40 minutes. I like my brownies very fudgy in the center so I took them out just shy of 32 minutes. Let them sit or cool for a bit before diving in.

Note~ This recipe was inspired by Deliciously Ella’s sweet potato brownie recipe!

raw treats/ recipes/ vegan

Unreal Chickpea Cookie Dough Bars

I always make treats with the intention of really indulging. However, my achilles heel for sweet consumption never paired well with my concern about what I put in my body; “this is full of processed sugar so i should probably just have one” or “what are those ingredients? Maybe I ought to stick to the serving size.” I’m not a fan of the former two worries, let alone the bruised ego that can swell in size after you eat more than you told yourself you would. To make things easier for myself I now make an effort to whip up unbelievably healthy AND tasty things like chickpea cookie dough.  Now I get to reach for thirds without an inkling of shoulds or shouldn’ts clouding my mind. The only “should” to cross my mind is saving some to fawn over the following day!!

Ingredients~
1 can drained/rinsed chickpeas
1 cup traditional rolled oats
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp honey or other liquid sweetener
2 tbsps melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup nut/soy milk
Pinch of salt
For chocolate sauce~
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsps nut/soy milk
1-2 tbsps liquid sweetener (add more to taste)

Directions~
1. Melt coconut oil if solid and set aside to cool
2. Blend chickpeas, rolled oats, peanut butter, milk, and honey until thick and goopy. I did this step in batches because I don’t have a very large food processor. Add remaining ingredients and combine very well until mostly smooth. If batter is too dry and crumbly to spread on pan add milk by the tbsp.
3. Press batter into pan (mine was about 9 x 4 but do yours differently for desired thickness) and let chill in freezer for at least 1-2 hours before adding chocolate.
4. For chocolate topping melt ingredients on stovetop on low heat and drizzle evenly on cookie dough.  Let chill for another few hours in the freezer or until hardened on top. If left in the freezer over night you may have to let the pieces thaw for a bit before eating.

Note~ Inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie’s Unbaked Cookie Dough recipe

 

baked sweets/ recipes/ vegan

Cookie Crumble Bars

Today is dessert-for-breakfast day (Saturday). I’m a die-hard made-from-scratch pancake fan but this morning pancakes felt like too much of an investment. Whipping up the batter isn’t all that bad (unless you’re opting for a fancy meringue kinda batter), but having to babysit each and every puddle of pancake until it bubbles can be pretty irksome (I know i’m not alone on this…you impatient foodies are out there, right?!) and I also suck at pancake flipping so…

…I (happily) settled for oat cookies in the form of a bar (yes, the photographed bars have already suffered a bite or three). Cookies carry the connotation of being unhealthy, so why not morph them into a granola-bar inspired thingy majig and confidently chow them down under the gaze of your cookie-hating critics?

You’re going to like these because A) they taste like cookies B) they’re not sickeningly sweet (if that’s your kinda thing I apologize) C) they’re super quick and cheap to make!

Ingredients~
1 cup oat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup & 2 tbsps honey or other liquid sweetener
1 chia egg
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsps unsweetened shredded coconut (for topping)
Chocolate topping~
Scant 1/4 cup coconut oil
3 tbsps cocoa powder
1-2 tbsps honey

Directions~
Preheat oven to 180 celsius
1. Combine chia and water and set aside.
2. Mix peanut butter, vanilla extract, coconut oil, and honey. Add cinnamon and chia egg.
3. Blend rolled oats into flour. Add oat flour and regular rolled oats to batter along with cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir well until thick (but still moist) batter forms. If it’s too dry for your liking gradually add water/oil/nut milk by the tbsp.
4. Spread out fairly thin on baking paper or oiled tray (about 1/2 inch) and bake for 11-14 minutes (keep a watchful eye). You should smell something divine emanating from your oven.
5. Drizzle chocolate sauce on top and chill in freezer for 15 ish minutes unless you have patience for it to cool in the fridge.