Category Archives: Bread

Happy Holidays! A Big Blogging Break, Roasted Ratatouille on Olive Focaccia and Giving Back.

Roasted Ratatouille on Olive Focaccia

Wishing all of you the Happiest Holidays! I’m having hip surgery this Friday to repair injuries I sustained earlier this year. So, I’ll be taking a 2-3 month break from blogging while I recover. I wanted to leave you with one of my favorite recipes. A recipe I can’t believe I had forgotten about until now (I was making this like crazy two years ago, but somehow it slipped off my radar).


When my brother Abe and I were in college, we went on an Art Trip that was nothing short of magical with the Dixie State College Art Department. Outside the LA Art Museum was a food cart selling delicious wares.

photo 1 (1)Mixing the ingredients

We both ordered the most lovely focaccia sandwich. It had eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini on it, I didn’t know at the time that this magic combination was called “ratatouille”. To this day, this is still one of my favorite sandwiches. If you prefer, you can serve the roasted ratatouille over pasta or brown rice, but what fun would that be?


Roasted Ratatouille

  • 2 large sized globe eggplants, skin on, diced into 3/4 inch dice
  • 3 medium sized zucchini, skin on, diced into 3/4 inch dice
  • 1 very large purple onion, diced into 3/4 inch dice
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced very thinly
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • few dashes of red pepper flakes
  • one 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, juices drained (reserve juices for another use, you can freeze them and toss it into soup, pasta, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh chopped basil

Method: Preheat your oven to 425°. Toss all of the above ingredients EXCEPT the fresh basil together in a large bowl until all the ingredients are delicious. Pour everything onto your biggest baking sheet, it doesn’t matter if it’s layers deep, just even it out with your hands so that everything is evenly distributed. Place the baking sheet in the oven and let roast for 45-60 minutes (I like 60 minutes) stirring once or twice during roasting for maximum yumminess. Once nicely roasted, let cool for 10-15 minutes before sprinkling with the fresh basil. Ratatouille can be served hot or cold, and it’s even better the next day, especially when served on olive focaccia.

To make the Olive Focaccia, simply make this recipe and sub lots of your favorite olives for the grapes in this recipe.


And now for giving back, most of you probably do a little “Secret Santa” or give to one of your favorite charities this time of year. If you haven’t all ready done something like that (or you’d like to do more) please visit my favorite charity, an organization called Not So Fast created by my beautiful friend, Shira McDermott. Her concept behind the organization is direct and easy. Consume Less. Give More. People who want to donate can skip that cup of fancy coffee or that lunch out and donate those funds instead to impoverished families in need of food. Bigger “fasts” can include going without alcohol or meat for a month, or perhaps a “fast” from your automobile for a month and relying on public transport instead. Just $2 can feed a family dinner. $10 gives a family vouchers at a farmer’s market. $30 provides ingredients for a community cooking class for children to teach them how to prepare healthy and inexpensive meals.


To learn more about Not So Fast, please click here, also, read about my fast here.

not so fast


Filed under Bread, Friendship, Main Dishes, Sandwiches, Vegan

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Oil Free and Whole Grain Recipe.


Just in case you need another indulgent meal for Thanksgiving morning… I made these delicious pancakes a couple of weeks ago on a lazy morning. There was lots of happy food noises going on around the table. My youngest ate four pancakes, which I didn’t feel too bad about, considering this recipe is relatively healthy, as far as pancakes go…

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, or for gluten-free pancakes, simply sub your favorite gluten-free flour blend. I use this one.
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk (from a carton, not a can)
  • 2 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Method: whisk together the dry ingredients. Stir in the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon til just combined. This batter needs to rest for about 10 minutes so that it will begin to rise for fluffiness, so while you’re waiting, start preheating your pancake skillet, I use a large griddle so I can cook more pancakes at once. Lightly oil (or use a non-stick skillet) the skillet/griddle and measure out pancake batter with a 1/3 cup measure. Cook pancakes for about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Serve with Kathy Hester’s Pumpkin Coconut Caramel Sauce and Rice Whip if desired.



Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Holiday Recipes, Vegan

Vedged Out’s 2013 Vegan Thanksgiving Menu

Vedged Out Thanksgiving


Kick Ace Extra Sharp Raw Vegan Cheddar Cheese Ball, served with raw flax crackers and assorted vegetables.



Vedged Out’s Macadamia Nut Brie En Croute


Alexander’s Rainbow Salad with Kale and Orange Red Pepper Dressing from In Vegetables We Trust

rainbow-kale-salad-vegan-orange-red-pepper-dressing (1)photo used with permission 


Vegan Monologue’s Buttery Pan Rolls

You can also use whole grain white whole wheat flour in this recipe!


Amanda’s Whole Grain Cranberry Walnut Sourdough Bread

(this is what we slathered the Brie En Croute all over! They were made for each other!)

sourdough bread


Lemon Seltzer Water

Cranberry Fizzy: equal parts cranberry juice and ginger ale

 Mains and Sides

In Pursuit of More’s Cashew Loaf (just make it, and you’ll want it as the centerpiece at every holiday!)

Somerkey Sage and Maple Seitan Loaf, stay tuned, recipe still in testing mode, coming at the start of next week!


Dad’s Wild Rice, Cranberry and Pine Nut Stuffing

Dad’s Pine Nut and Glazed Onion Mashed Potatoes


Vedged Out’s Sauteed Green Beans, Red Onions and Radishes

  • 2 lbs fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches radishes, washed, greens removed and quartered
  • ½ C. Toasted Slivered Almonds
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large saute pan heat the olive oil until glistening over medium heat. Add green beans, radishes and red onions. Saute until vegetables are crisp tender, about 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and peper and sprinkle with the slivered almonds.

Maple Cranberry Sauce

Maple Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, lightly glazed with pure maple syrup and unrefined coconut oil


An Unrefined Vegan’s Apple Pie

applepie3photos used with permission

Razzleberry Pie 

Gabby’s No Bake Pumpkin Mousse Cake

An Unrefined Vegan’s Hazelnut Pumpkin Cheesecake w/ Chocolate-Hazelnut Topping

Hazelnut cheesecake

Vegan Coconut Whipped Cream

Healthy Happy Life’s 4 Ingredient Vegan Pumpkin Pie

and Vegan Ice Cream


Filed under Appetizers, Beverages, Bread, Gluten Free, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes, Nut & Seed Butters, Nuts and Seeds, Raw, Salad Dressings, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegan

Dad’s Vegan Wild Rice, Cranberry and Pine Nut Stuffing. Gluten Free Option!


My dad makes this incredible stuffing for the holidays, he always says: “Even the ‘no-stuffing eaters’ will fall in love with it” … And they do! I just found out today that I’m not going to be able to spend this Thanksgiving with my parents, so I thought I’d honor my dad this post.

Dad’s Vegan Wild Rice, Cranberry and Pine Nut Stuffing

Makes 10-ish servings, double for your biggest holiday crowds.

  • 5 cups cubed and dried vegan bread (use gluten free vegan bread for a GF option)
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, plus more, as needed
  • 1 white onions chopped fine
  • 3 celery stalks cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 t. dried sage
  • 1 1/2 t. onion powder
  • 1 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked wild rice (instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup shelled pine nuts
  • 2 shots vegan worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons + 1 tsp. vegan butter (divided)
  • 1/2 C. dried Cranberries

Method: Boil wild rice with water according to package directions until tender, about 40 minutes. Saute onions, mushrooms, celery and seasonings in the vegan butter. Saute pine nuts separately in the vegan butter until golden brown. Mix all ingredients in a large pot adding vegetable broth as you stir it in. Test for consistency and add more vegetable stock if too dry. Fluff with a large fork. Bake on low heat for (about 200 degrees) for half an hour or until golden.


Filed under Bread, Holiday Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Bake and Destroy. THE RADICAL HALLOWEEN EDITION. Review, Revenge Cookie Recipe and Giveaway.

When I was a kid, my favorite holiday by far was Halloween. My dad would bust out the bbq and fire up hot dogs for the whole dang neighborhood. Everyone came, warming up their cold little hands for a tasty meal amongst the sea of noxious candy. Of course it was also awesome that one of our neighbors brewed rootbeer in a giant cauldron and served it up while dressed as a cackling witch. We were lucky kids in that corner of Green Valley.

Revenge Cookies

One Halloween, I had the flu and couldn’t go trick-or-treating. I swear I thought it was a fate worse than death. I sobbed (and puked) on the couch in our front room as I watched out the front window and saw what seemed like hundreds of gleeful kids come eat hot dogs and enjoy the festivities.

I’ve always wanted to follow in the family tradition and grill up hot dogs too, but since I’m vegan now, and you can’t really give kids anything that isn’t store bought and pre-wrapped anymore without the parents having a heart attack, we do mini bags of potato chips, a savory salute to my childhood days.

Anyway, when I got a review copy of Bake and Destroy, it was like the perfect Halloween present had come early. I dare you to read through this book and not be thoroughly amused by the dark and silly humor whilst developing a sweet girl crush on bad-a** Natalie Slater.

Natalie Slater

First up, I made the Cannibal Corpse Crock-Pot, which is made with Jackfruit, in an awesome BBQ sauce that will blow your mind. I also put it all over a deep dish pizza, but we ate it before I could get non-Iphone photos of it. Oh, the Vegan Mayo in the book that’s on this sandwich is so delicious and diabolically simple that it’s worth the purchase of the book alone: you’ll have no more guilt over eating oil-laden store bought vegan mayo, but you’ll also stop pretending that blocks of tofu seasoned with lemon juice and pureed, or the non-fat vegan mayo versions taste anything like real mayo. Stop fooling yourself kids. Her special sauce tastes even better than the real deal without clogging your arteries or leaving your taste-buds fully disappointed.

Cannibal Corpse Crock Pot
As for the Samoa Joe Cupcakes, well, I took these bad boys to a Mormon Ward Halloween Party. They won the competition for Best Dessert Overall. Yes, they were that good. People are still talking about them… What’s not to love about a luscious cupcake filled with caramel sauce and topped with salted caramel-coconut butter-cream and chocolate drizzle? Yeah, vegan desserts rock.

Samoa Joe Cupcakes

Samoa Joe 2

Even more awesome, was that my brother Abe (vegan siblings rock) was staying at my house for several days for a printmaking show and conference while I was testing recipes from the book. He fully worshipped them all. We had this totally legit Non-Cop-Out Tofu Scramble on his last morning. Since Abe mostly eats beans and rice, he was on the edge of pure vegan food bliss at every meal.

Tofu Scramble

These cute cupcake mummies made out of Natalie’s ridiculously simple Vanilla Cake Mix also went to the church party. I got a second award for best themed dessert. Ah yeah.

Vanilla Cake Mix

Funnily enough though, the recipe I tested that made me the most nostalgic, was the Pretzel Dogs of the Dead. They were insanely delicious. You know I’ll be baking these up again on Halloween with a pot of chili and another batch of those Samoa Joe Cupcakes, even if I can’t serve them to the neighbor kids. (p.s. these really are vegan hot dogs, no animals were harmed in the making of this post). I made some of Natalie’s No-Honey Mustard to dip these in, but ended up using it as a delicious salad dressing instead after I forgot all about the dip.

Pretzel Dogs of The Dead

Now, for the awesome bit. I made these Cheryl’s Sweet Revenge Cookies (not in the book and based on the movie, The Evil Dead double bonus here) and there were so many, that I took a big part of the batch to a neighbor so I wouldn’t eat them all. Somehow during our discussion I found out that my neighbors know Natalie Slater and her mom. Some things are just meant to be.

Revenge Cookies 2

Cheryl’s Revenge Cookies

Recipe used with permission

Somer’s Note: I couldn’t help myself and added a half cup of mini-chocolate chips to this recipe to make them the ultimate “Everything Cookie.” They were amazing!


  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used half organic all purpose and half whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds + 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts, your choice (I used a combination of sunflower seeds, whole almonds, cashew pieces, peanuts and hempseeds)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried fruit, your choice (I used cranberries, raisins and goji berries)
  • 3/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut or whole rolled oats (I went with the coconut, but used unsweetened since that’s what I had on hand)

Method: Preheat your oven to 350º and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Whisk the dry ingredients into a small bowl. With an electric mixer, beat the margarine until smooth and fluffy. Add sugars and beat until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk the ground flaxseed and water together until thick and gooey. Add this to the sugar mixture and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Stir in the nuts and fruit. Drop batter (2 tablespoons = one cookie) onto the  lined baking sheet, about 2″ apart. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen vengeful, murderous cookies (unless you are Somer and you make smaller cookies and end up with 3-4 dozen).

Cover Photo

Buy “Bake and Destroy” Good Food for Bad Vegans in paperback format on Amazon here or get the Kindle version for $9.99 here.

Visit Natalie Slater at her site Bake and Destroy here.

For a chance to win a copy of this amazing cookbook, Click on the link below to enter the Giveaway! This contest is open to entrants in the USA onlyYou must also follow this blog by email or RSS feed to qualify. You have until Halloween on the 31st of October to enter!  I will notify the winner by email on Friday the 1st of November. GO!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Filed under Appetizers, Books, Bread, Breakfast, Desserts, Giveaway, Main Dishes, Mormon, Nuts and Seeds, Reviews, Salad Dressings, Sandwiches, Side Dishes, Snackage, Vegan

Oil-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Squares. Guest Post from Annie at An Unrefined Vegan + Last Chance for VVP!


Here’s a final, last minute shameless plug and call for sign ups for the Virtual Vegan Potluck. The potluck is nearly full, so if you haven’t signed up all ready, get in there. Oh, and the founder of the VVP (and my blogger BFF), Annie from An Unrefined Vegan is sharing a guest post with us today. Just looking at this recipe makes me think about all the other luscious desserts in store come potluck time!

potluck spoons

Let’s give a hearty welcome to Annie and her luscious Oil-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Squares! I think these are healthy enough to qualify as breakfast food!

Banana Cake Slice

Over the years I’ve made a lot of banana bread from many different recipes. A lot. This one is the simplest I’ve ever made and also the most delicious. While away from home recently, I needed a banana recipe fast so I did a Google search and used the very first listing – from Simply Recipes. I veganized it; traded out the oil for almond butter, used whole wheat pastry flour, added chocolate chips, and then baked it in a square pan rather than in a loaf. This comes together ridiculously fast and is craved by vegans and non-vegans alike (mom and dad, I’m looking at you).

Thank you, Somer, for inviting me to share this recipe with your readers and for letting them know about the Virtual Vegan Potluck! I hope that the food bloggers out there will consider signing up for the November 16 event. It’s always a lot of fun and it’s a great way to find new blogs to love and to add delicious, plant-based food to your recipe stockpile.

Quick Chocolate Chip Banana (Bread) Squares
Makes 1 9″ x 9″ pan

3 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tbsp. flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp. water (whisk together then let sit for a few minutes)
1/3 cup natural almond butter
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1 full stopper of liquid stevia (I used NuNaturals Alcohol-free Stevia Pure Liquid)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly spray a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with oil.

In a large bowl, combine the bananas, flaxseed meal, almond butter, sugar, and stevia. Stir well.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and firm on top. Let cool before slicing.

Banana Cake with Slice

Banana Cake on Plates



Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Desserts, Friendship, Guest Post, Nut & Seed Butters, Nuts and Seeds, Snackage, Vegan, Virtual Vegan Potluck

Vedged Out Turns One, Gets a Sweet Book Deal and More Awesomeness!

Howdy beloved readers! It’s Vedged Out’s One Year Blogiversary today and I’m taking you on a tour through the highlights and lowlights of the year:

chocolate layer cakeInsane Chocolate Layer Cake

It’s been an amazing year! Some highlights included Forks Over Knives featuring my health transformation testimonial and featuring me on their health page.


Then we’ve had two very. awesome. Virtual Vegan Potlucks.  

macadamia nut brie en crouteSpooky Macadamia Nut Brie En Croute 

um, I’m still dreaming about that one

vegan-blt-slidersMini Jackfruit and Kimchi BLT Slider Bites 

Two words. Jackfruit. Bacon.

The top viewed post on my site this year:pizzaIndividual Vegan Margherita Pizzas with Homemade Fresh Moxarella

people go crazy when homemade vegan cheese is tastier, easier, healthier and cheaper than running to your local Whole Foods for another bag of Daiya.

The least viewed post on my site this year:maple lima beansBaked Maple Dijon Baby Lima Beans

Yeah, can’t blame my readers, doesn’t look like the most appetizing dish, does it? I swear they were good!

The cookie bars that took over Pinterest by storm:cookie barHealthied Up Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

who doesn’t love an easy to put together ooey gooey dessert?

This ALL VEGAN Thanksgiving Menu shared with beloved friends and family, including Annie at An Unrefined Veganvegan thanksgiving

Then we had that low point, with that injury (currently still injured, I’ll have another healing series coming up soon).goodbye-runningGoodbye Running, I still miss you like crazy.

But when one door closes another one opens! And now I’ve also got some awesome news, I’ve signed a book contract with Vegan Heritage Press! I couldn’t be more proud to be working with such an amazing and compassionate publishing house. You’ll have to wait for all the juicy details, but it’s official. I’m an author!

vegan heritage press

The Vegan Heritage Press family all ready includes some Vegan Superstars: the amazing and talented raw vegan chef Amber Shea Crawley, prolific vegan cookbook author and goddess Robin Robertson, recipe developer extraordinaire Bryanna Clark Grogan, vegan baking fool Tamasin Noyes, national recipe competition winner Betsy DiJulio and several new faces that I can’t wait to become acquainted with!


Oh, and I’ve all ready been a recipe contributor for Sunwarrior for some time, but now I’m joining their expert ambassador team as well! Yeah, just gotta submit that Bio. They’ve truly got the best vegan vitamins and supplements on the planet. Pure love.

Thanks for all the love and support along the way. Can’t wait to see what this next year brings!

good-clean-foodAmanda, Somer (holding Amanda’s juicy baby), Carolyn and Erika

If you want to start at the very beginning, see my very first post on Vedged Out here: 20 Reasons Why Going Vegan Sucks.

Love, Somer


Filed under Appetizers, Books, Bread, Cheez, Desserts, Films, Forks Over Knives, Friendship, Healing Series, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Main Dishes, Running, Sandwiches, Sunwarrior, Ulcerative Colitis, Vegan, Vegan Heritage Press, Virtual Vegan Potluck

Antioxidant Purplicious Chia Jam with Super Powered Nut Butter


So, several months back, I was talking to Annie over at An Unrefined Vegan. We both had sworn we’d never do MOFO again after last year. Well, somehow during that conversation I suckered her in, I was going to go along for the ride as well, but circumstances for me didn’t allow it, so this is a bit of an ode to Annie’s PB&J MOFO theme. Wishing I was doing MOFO too, but there’s always next year!


Antioxidant Purplicious Chia Jam

  • 3 C. Pitted Cherries
  • 2 C. Raspberries
  • 1 C. Blueberries
  • 1 C. Strawberries
  • 1/2 C. Pomegranate Arils
  • 1/2 C. Pure Maple Syrup
  • 5 T. Chia Seeds
  • Dash Cinnamon

Method: Combine fruits, pure maple syrup and cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook until it reaches a low boil. Mash a bit with a potato masher, add chia seeds and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often until nicely thickened. Remove from heat and ladle into jars. Share. Keep refrigerated, will stay fresh for several weeks.

tower o jam

nut butter

Super-Powered Nut Butter

  • 2 C. Raw Almonds
  • 2 C. Raw Cashews
  • 1 C. Raw Pecans
  • 1/2 C. Sunflower Seeds
  • 2 T. Hemp Seeds
  • 2 T. Sesame Seeds (I used black and regular)
  • 2 T. Flax Seeds
  • 2 T. Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 C. Unsweetened Dried Shaved Coconut
  • 1/4 C. Pure Maple Syrup
  • 2 t. Kosher Salt

You may also need to halve this recipe if you have large food processor envy. 

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, roast nuts all nuts and seeds on a large baking sheet (except coconut) for 5-7 minutes, stirring once. Add shaved coconut to the nuts and seeds and roast for a few minutes more until the coconut turns golden. Remove from oven. Let cool briefly. Add to food processor and let ‘er rip. You may have to scrape down the sides a couple of times but in 5 minutes or so it should start to come together and stop looking like very finely ground nut flour. When that happens, add the maple syrup and the salt. If you notice steamy fragrant luciousness emitting from your food processor, you’re not the only one, and no the motor isn’t malfunctioning, the nut butter is heating up under blissful pressure. Process for a couple more minutes until delicious. Eat while gooey and warm and turn into a nut butter superhero. Add pretzel rolls, I know you haven’t forgotten these! :)

bread basket

 Instant Picnic! Make sure to visit Annie for 20+ posts of PB&J insanity!



Filed under Bread, Nut & Seed Butters, Nuts and Seeds, Sandwiches, Snackage, Vegan

Tuscan White Bean and Basil Pizza, Guest Post from Shira at In Pursuit of More

I’ve got the lovely Shira from In Pursuit of More guest posting here today. I’ll be honest, I probably cook more off Shira’s blog then I do out of any of the cookbooks in my house. That may have something to do with the fact that we’re a mere 5 days apart in age, us Virgos must have some very similar taste. Today she’s brought you this incredible Tuscan White Bean and Basil Pizza. Meet me again at the end of this post for more of my favorites from her site.Shira's Pizza

Howdy Vedged out readers! I’m super thrilled to be sharing a post with Somer’s amazing readers today and hope you guys enjoy this yummy recipe! When a friend reaches out and asks for a hand, there is really only one thing you can do: offer both of yours up and see if there is anyone else out there with a few to spare. I’ve been re-inspired of late by the amazing opportunities we have everyday to make other people feel special, and to literally make their day, or their week, or their year.

Of all the good deeds I’ve seen in the past few days, there is one that struck me as particularly potent, especially if we are looking to make a difference in the life of a stranger, and perhaps someone a whole lot less fortunate than we are (on the surface anyway). The other night, me and a girlfriend were ending an evening of wonderful food and drink at a friend’s new restaurant, when, as we walked to my car, we passed a woman about our age pushing a grocery cart.

It was raining, the first rain since the start of July, and she was well bundled in fleece, with a hat, and didn’t look like she had anywhere to go. She saw us walking past as there was no one else on the street, and her eyes caught mine. Used to walking past people asking for money (I regularly hand out 5 dollar bills – it just makes me feel good), I naturally assumed she might need/want some cash. But somehow her look that night was different.

“Hi”, I said, as I interrupted our chirpy girlfriend chatter, “Is there something you need?”. I rifled through my bag, searching for what I didn’t know. Did I have a bar? A snack? A bill I could spare? She didn’t answer but looked down as if embarrassed and waved both of her hands like she was sorry to interrupt us. We stood there for a split second in the dark night before my gorgeous girlfriend (inside and out) broke the silence with, “Do you need a hug?”.

With that, my girlfriend approached her, without giving her the option to decline, and gave her a giant hug. A long hug, the kind you settle into, and the kind that passes energy between two people the way nothing else really can. They both wrapped their arms around each other and shared. It wasn’t a fast hug, or a false hug, or the kind that passes between acquaintances and family as part of obligation, along with all the awkwardness that often goes had in had with those exchanges too. Afterwards, it was my turn, and I nestled into this woman’s fleecy softness and was filled with gratitude for such a sweet, simple exchange of love & kindness. It felt good. Pure. So simple. And so real.

A reminder that we are all human, born not of our choosing, and given the freedom to choose our actions every moment of every day no matter what our lot in life.

Shira's Pizza1

Afterwards, I was on such a high for the gift my friend had given not only the woman we saw on the street, who carried on into the darkness with her cart and hopefully a full heart, but to me too.

To realize that human need is so much more than just material, and that those all around us need love & kindness, and the kind you can’t buy with all the spare change in the world. Feeding the heart and soul is every bit as important as keeping our tummies full, and I was reminded of the power we all hold with just a simple extending of our arms.

I hope you’ll enjoy this beautiful pizza as it wraps its hearty arms around you, as this rustic Tuscan recipe conjures up images of old grandmothers & sunny countrysides. Simple, easy & good. Like a hug from a stranger, well maybe not that good, but you know what I mean :)

Shira's Pizza2

 Tuscan White Bean & Basil Pizza:

  • (1.5) cups white kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • (2) cloves garlic, minced
  • (1) tbsp olive oil
  • (1) cup vegetable stock (divided)
  • (1/2) tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • (1/4) cup fresh basil, cut in ribbons or minced
  • (3) roma tomatoes, cut in rounds
  • olive oil for baking the crust
  • (1) recipe pizza dough (my recipe here Basic IPOM Pizza Dough, Somer’s recipe here Vedged Out Pizza Dough)

First, prepare the pizza dough in advance according to directions, or use your favorite pre-made dough (I have a fave Italian deli I buy from and keep ‘emergency’ dough in my freezer).

To create this simple rustic pizza, complete the following steps. This is a wonderfully simple yet totally fresh take on pizza that I find simple yet still sophisticated.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium low until warm and add the minced garlic. Cook the garlic, stirring often to keep the garlic from burning. Cook the garlic for 2 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Add the drained beans, about (1/3) cup veggie stock to start and the salt & pepper. Cook this mixture for a few minutes until the stock has evaporated, adding more to achieve a creamy consistency. Do this for 10-15 minutes until all the stock has been used and the beans are hot and creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in half the basil.

While the beans are simmering, prepare the pizza crust (enough for one pizza). Oil a round or rectangular baking sheet and stretch the dough over the pan. Lightly brush the crust with olive oil and prick here and there with a fork. Cook in the pre-heated oven for 4 minutes. Remove, prick the crust again all over with a fork, and cook for another 4 minutes.

Tuscan Bean Pizza | In Pursuit Of More

Remove the pre-baked crust, and when the beans are ready, spread them evenly over the entire pizza. Place the tomato slices over the top and drizzle with a little more olive oil and black pepper.

Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the crust is brown on the edges. Top with the remaining fresh basil and the Parmesan cheese or vegan cheese topping of your choice.

Shira's Pizza3

This pizza makes a wonderful first course to a dinner party and offers folks a chance to try something new and delicious over a glass of wine and good conversation. It is beautiful to look at and showcases a good crust and the beautiful flavors of fresh garlic & summer basil.

Leftovers will keep in the fridge and make the perfect on the go lunch. Particularly if you like cold or room temperature pizza as much as I do :)

Tuscan Bean Pizza | In Pursuit Of More

Love and hugs to all, particularly to my dear blogging friend Somer, who asked me so kindly to be here today (insert gratitude here). We all need hugs, whether virtual or otherwise, so do reach out and hug someone today. You never know what’s around the corner, so don’t wait, not ever. The time is now, so reach out and grab it, squeeze it hard, and don’t ever let go.

Yours in Less,

Email Handwritten Signature

Somer’s Note: Feeling so much love from this post. Do you have an extra hand to lend to others in need? Visit Shira at her charity site, Not So Fast. Oh, and don’t forget to check out some of my very favorite recipes from Shira. I’ve made each of them more than a handful of times, and each one feels (almost) as good as I imagine a hug from the woman herself would:

Shira Collage

Clockwise: Cashew Rice Loaf with Red Pepper Sauce, Spiced Lentils & Indian Chapatis, Almond Chocolate Rice Crispie Squares, Fiesty Fried Cumin Hummus, 3 Ingredient Soy Balsamic Dressing, Chuffed and Roasted Potatoes, Incredible Cranberry Orange Dressing, Sunny Day Orange Date Shake


Filed under Beans, Bread, Friendship, Guest Post

Whole Grain Vegan Baking! Review, Giveaway and a Super Soft Whole Grain Burger Bun Recipe

Whole Grain Artisan Bread2

One of the most well loved and well thumbed books on my kitchen bookshelf is The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, co-authored by Celine Steen. It’s a book every vegan ought to have as a no-fail resource. So, of course I was thrilled at the chance to review Whole Grain Vegan Baking, written by both Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes. It’s any bread fiend’s dream. These women are miracle workers. Even though I consider myself an ardent bread-maker, I’d yet to master bread that’s soft and fluffy AND completely whole grain. I’ll be sharing that recipe with you below, (with permission of course), but first feast your eyes on some of the recipes I’ve tested since receiving my copy of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.

Jam Crumble Bars

Two ingredients I haven’t worked with before in my kitchen have become near and dear to my heart after making some of these creations. Whole Grain Spelt Flour and Sucanat.

The spelt flour adds lightness and eliminates the need to cut whole wheat or other whole grain blends with all purpose white flour to make them less hefty. It’s an ancient form of wheat that is high in protein. It lends a subtle nutty flavor to foods.

Sucanat is a contraction of “Sugar CanNatural”, It is a whole cane sugar. It’s made by crushing freshly cut sugar cane, extracting the juice and heating it in a large vat. It’s less refined than raw sugar and tastes much like brown sugar because of it’s high molasses content. It adds a lovely caramel flavor to the foods you bake it with. It is an excellent source of iron, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium and chromium, which helps balance blood sugar.

Bread CollageSavory Spinach Loaf made with Roasted Spanish Onions. I hadn’t made a savory quick bread before this one and now I wonder why! It made my socks go up and down. I swear it was much prettier than I could capture with the photos.

Noochy CrackersDid you used to be a “Cheese” Cracker fan too? These should help with the withdrawals…

Sun-Dried Tomato FocacciaThis focaccia was every bit as tasty as one made from white flour. I’ll be making it again and again.

Carrot Cashew LoafA less sweet treat than you might expect. This would go perfectly paired with a green smoothie for your breakfast (perhaps minus the icing in that case) ;)

Whole Grain Burger BunsNow the moment you’ve been waiting for… Super soft and tasty, I didn’t believe this kind of tenderness was possible with all whole grains.

Whole Grain Burger Buns (and Sandwich Bread!) 

Hats off to our friend Kelly Cavalier for thinking of using whole spelt flour instead of all-purpose flour in Celine’s recipe making this bread 100% whole grain, super soft, and even better than the original version.

  •  1 cup (235 ml) lukewarm water
  • 21⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 22 to 44 g (1 to 2 tablespoons) molasses or barley malt syrup, to taste
  • 210 g (11⁄2 cups) whole spelt flour
  • 180 g (11⁄2 cups) whole wheat flour, more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) neutral-flavored oil

Combine the water, yeast, and molasses in a medium-size bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate. Place the flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the oil and yeast mixture on top.

Mix until a smooth and pliable dough forms, about 6 minutes. Add extra whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon (8 g) at a time, if needed.

Alternatively, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding extra whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon (8 g) at a time if needed, until the dough is smooth and pliable. Shape the dough into a ball, place back in the bowl, cover tightly with plastic, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 11⁄2 hours. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Gently deflate the dough. Divide it into 6 equal portions; shape into round burger buns. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 30 minutes, until puffed.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6). Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the buns.

Bake for 14 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown on top and sound hollow when the bottoms are lightly tapped. Let cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 6 burger buns

Serving Suggestions & Variations

Make a sandwich bread out of the dough by dividing it into 3 equal portions after the first rise, placing them in an 8 x 4-inch (20 x 10 cm) loaf pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5). Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Whole Grain Vegan Baking

Buy ”Whole Grain Vegan Baking” in paperback book on Amazon here or the Kindle version here

Visit Celine Steen at her site Have Cake Will Travel here

Visit Tamasin Noyes at her site Vegan Appetite here

For a chance to win a copy of this amazing cookbook, Click on the link below to enter the Giveaway! This contest is open to entrants in the USA and Canada onlyYou must also follow this blog by email or RSS feed to qualify. You have until Thursday the 18th of July to enter!  I will notify the winner by email on Monday the 22nd. GO!!

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Desserts, Vegan