Tag: Party

Back for the holidays

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Merry Christmas! So how was your Thanksgiving? Mine was… very vegan.

I cooked for two days straight and the results were less than amazing. As we sat down to eat, I was exhausted, disappointed and I watched my family gamely choke down Seitan loaf (we called it Satan loaf because it was so bad, I threw it away after a single bite!), a vegananized version of my family’s traditional southern cornbread dressing (meh), green bean casserole (also meh), a non dairy version of ambrosia (so-so), homemade rolls (pretty good, but I could only have a bite due to the wheat), mashed sweet potatoes (the only really delicious thing I made), and cashew gravy. I also made traditional stuff for the rest of my family; sweet potato soufflé and Mac-n-cheese.

I took NO pictures. It wasn’t pretty. So for Christmas, I am changing my tactic. I am going to make my family all their traditional favorites and I will eat something else. I think that will work better. You live, you learn, right?

Last night I attended my favorite Christmas party of the season. Every year the amazing hostess makes huge pots of the most delicious soups; Creamy potato and and Butternut Squash.  Decidedly NOT vegan, filled with butter and cream. Mmmmmm. Even though she offered to make vegan soups, she has enough on her plate hosting the BEST party, ever, so I decided to make my own and bring it.

I came up with an amazing version of Cream of Mushroom soup that is actually super creamy and amazing. I think it is also going to revolutionize my vegan green bean casserole.

I started with A Pinch of Yum’s Creamy Cauliflower Sauce:

INGREDIENTS

8 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
5-6 cups cauliflower florets
6-7 cups vegetable broth or water
1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
1/2 cup milk of choice (more to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS

Garlic: Saute the minced garlic with the olive oil (or water if oil free) in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook for several minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned (browned or burnt garlic will taste bitter). Remove from heat and set aside.
Cauliflower: Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.
Puree: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1 cup vegetable broth or cooking liquid, sauteed garlic, salt, pepper, and milk. Blend or puree for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth, adding more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender.

Once the sauce was finished in the blender, I chopped and sautéed 2 pounds of white organic mushrooms. 1/2 went in the blender with the sauce, to create the soup base and I stirred in the rest of the mushroom once it was done to create a chinky, delicious, super easy vegan soup that I can’t wait to make again!

As for the fact that I have been M.I.A. for so long, well, let’s just say that everything is status quo with my food. Boring, predictable and the best thing that ever happened to me. The only difference is, I have been eating a lot more soups than salads now that it is cold outside. I will try and post a couple more favorites in the coming weeks.

Weight wise, I am down 68 pounds. Woo hoo! It is now very slow and steady weight loss. I am happy with that. I have gone from a size 18 to a size 8. I feel fantastic. I am loving this whole “pain-free” living thing.

It’s worth the struggle, even during the holidays.

I hope your holidays are filled with love, joy, peace and family. 🎄

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Party Time

Party Time

Wow, 19 days since my last post. I have been a little busy I guess. I had a house full of family visiting and it was amazing, but didn’t leave me much time for extracurricular activities. My sister, nephew and mom were all visiting from out of state and my dad stayed the weekend to join in the fun. My house was bursting at the seams, and so was my heart.

During the nearly 2 weeks of fun, we had a chance to jointly celebrate FOUR birthdays and my daughter’s graduation from high school. It was quite a party.

I tried quite a few recipes and most were fairly successful.

We have varying degrees of veganism/healthy eating in my family now. Everybody has their own needs which makes for interesting planning. My daughter is vegan, but doesn’t mind eating sugar, wheat and soy.  My mom was treating her visit like a vegan spa week, so she was eating along with us for the most part. She, however, has soy sensitivity. My sister has wheat sensitivity and eats very healthy, but includes animal products. My daughter’s boyfriend is a full on carnivore with an abhorrence for most of our vegan treats. Hahaha. My dad loves raw vegan but doesn’t have the same restrictions we do. We all know my son would be happy to binge on Cheezits and Oreos with a big glass of milk.  What’s a girl to do???

Get creative, of course! Behold my cupcake spread! Top left: Vegan organic double chocolate cupcakes with sweet potato fudge frosting Top right: vegan strawberry cupcakes with vegan “buttercream” Bottom: raw vegan chocolate avocado mousse tarts.

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This was the vegan side of the table. Notice my beautiful, go-to party appetizer, cucumber hummus and heirloom tomato bites. Mmmmmmm. I won’t even bother showing you the other side of the table. It was a train wreck of processed crackers, sweets and animal products.

I will provide links to the Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes and the Vegan Double Chocolate Cake with Sweet Potato Chocolate Frosting. None of them were things I can eat, however. The only one I could eat was the Chocolate Avacado Mousse Tarts.  I modified them but I still wasn’t entirely pleased with the outcome. Here is what I did:

The tart crust consisted of oats, raisens, almonds and cocoa powder. I ended up adding a bit of almond butter to help is stick together. 

I pulsed it until it was nice and sticky. I pressed it firmly into the bottom of cupcake liners and stuck it into the fridge to firm up.


While those were chilling, I made the mousse. It was simple to make. Avadado, dates, cacao powder, vanilla, water and coconut oil.

Even though I am usually oil free, I did use one teaspoon of the called for 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil to help it have the proper consistency.

Once it was ready, I spooned the mousse on top of the crust.I chose to forgo the lemon cashew cream (we eat something very similar on a weekly basis in the form of vegan sour cream and vegan ranch, basically savory versions of the same recipe) and went with unsweetened Whipped Coconut Cream instead. I used Trader Joe’s 100% coconut cream. The brand at Walmart had added ingredients that I did not want.

Top tip for Whipped Coconut Cream, make sure you have NO coconut milk mixed in with the the solid cream. Mine would not whip until I blotted the last of the liquid out of the bowl, then it worked. I only used a bit on top of each tart.

The verdict? Meh.

For next time I would actually use my Almond Joy Bites recipe for the crust. I was not a fan of the raisen crust.

I would also tone down the dates in the mousse. 1 full cup was a bit too sweet for me. All in all, not bad. Next time will be better.

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The Gift of Friendship

I know I have said before how important friendship is, especially when it comes to support during big changes. May I just say again, my friends rock!

We just got home from our end of year potluck with our small group at church. Oh, how I love our group! We sat together and laughed, talked, shared stories and Pinterest Pins, and some amazing food.

All 3 of the vegans in the group actually had some great food to choose from. I made the Vegan Nachos. They seemed to be a hit, even with the carnivores in the group.  My friends Stacy made baked veggie chips. The fact that they didn’t turn out and she had to throw them away doesn’t detract, even slightly, from the fact that she made them to include those of us eating vegan.

Then, there was Melinda. My dear, wonderful friend, Melinda. My vegan buddy.  She made the most bomb chili and she brought dessert. For me. *insert contented sigh here*

I immediately went into fits of rapture, followed by bouts of euphoria as I nibbled on the decadent sweet treat. (No, really. I may or may not have danced a little as I ate it.)

What was this heaven on earth?

Banana bread!

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You don’t realize how much you miss sweet, baked goodies until the are gone. I have tried to make a few things, but with my current list of restrictions, it is difficult to find good recipes. Make that almost impossible.

Melinda found this recipe and baked a loaf, hoping against hope it would be good. It was. Epically so.  The texture is moist and bready and not too dense. It tasted like banana bread!

My friend, Deanna, brought home made date butter and gifted some to our pastor’s wife, who then opened and shared the love. Oh, the bliss of spreading the caramelly sweetness onto a second piece of banana bread.  Thanks for sharing, Sabina.

I am home tonight with my tummy full of happiness and love, courtesy of my awesome friends. Thanks to them, I successfully navigated my first potluck.  And I won’t hate myself tomorrow!

❤️

 

Winning at Losing

Winning at Losing

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This evening, I hosted an appetizer party at my house. I served Potstickers with Hoisin Sauce, Mozzarella Sticks with Marinara and Ranch, a Sushi platter, Mini Quiche and Virgin Mojitos. I didn’t eat any of it. I wasn’t even tempted!

 

In a nod to my newfound veganism, I also made cucumber, hummus and tomato hors d’oeuvres and a fresh fruit tray. Those I enjoyed heartily!

What a change for me! Usually, I would have nibbled and snacked my way through the preparations, fueled by coffee and little else. Then, I would have had a plate with my guests and then snacked on the leftovers during clean up. Especially because I am an emotional eater and this week has been busy and a little overwhelming. I would have eaten my feelings into oblivion.

Instead, I had plenty of energy all day, even though I never went near a cup of coffee. I cooked for others and, for the first time, didn’t feel sad that I wasn’t going to be eating any of it. I did not feel deprived. I am starting to rock this vegan thing.

My palate has completely changed. What I used to find slightly bland and tasteless, I now find bursting with fresh, clean flavors. Fruit tastes sweeter, savory items have more depth of flavor.  I have to say, I am surprised at how completely delicious simple things can be.

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I enjoyed these simple little hors d’oeuvres so much I will be making them for quick, cool dinners this summer. They are so easy! All you need is:

1 package grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1 small tub hummus

1 large cucumber

Using a potato peeler, shave long strips of skin off the cucumber, leaving it striped. Slice cucumber into 1/4″ thick rounds. Place on serving plate or tray.

Spoon hummus into a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip of your choice or spoon into a sandwich bag and cut one corner off.  Squeeze about a quarter size amount of hummus onto cucumber rounds.

Top with halved grape tomatoes.

Boom. Done. Amazing.

PS – 24.5 pounds gone and my pain continues to diminish. I can get used to this winning at losing.