Friendship

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

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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).

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

NOT SO FAST’S GOAL IS SIMPLE: TO FEED PEOPLE BY FASTING AND GIVING WHAT WE WOULD HAVE CONSUMED TO THOSE WHO HAVE LESS. 

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

not so fast

Bring Joy Guest Post! Vegan Egg Nog Milk Shake. Bring Joy Totes. Plus a Bonus Field Roast Celebration Roast. Vedged Out 12 Days of Christmas.

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So, I can’t even quite remember how Janae and I connected, but it’s been a fast and fun friendship even though I live in Utah and She lives in Texas. See, we’re both Mormon and Vegan (two things that don’t often go hand in hand). Janae found veganism over 7 years ago, while I went vegan just 2 years ago. Even though veganism isn’t common amongst members of our faith, we both feel it aligns closely with our church’s Word of Wisdom, which is kind of like a Mormon Law for Health.

Interestingly enough, we also both started out our vegan journey with more heavily restrictive vegan diets that eschewed added fats, sugars and sodium. Now we’re both into healthy moderation with all those things. Girls’ gotta live! Her blog, Bring Joy is much fancier and organized than mine! She showcases lifestyle and family posts as well as her recipes (and e-books). Everything she posts is beautifully photographed and mind-blowingly delicious.

Janae WiseLet’s welcome Janae Wise, the darling heavily pregnant, budget concious, gluten-free, mom and vegan Mormon behind the blog, Bring Joy.

The other day I went to Whole Foods. I don’t usually shop there. For one it’s not in my neck of the woods & I’m not into guzzling gas if I don’t need to.

But more importantly, my heart starts racing & I approach a near hyperventilative state whenever I look at the prices.

Don’t get me wrong–the gluten-free vegan brownies, the chickpea miso, & the organic cultured coconut yogurt certainly does cause m e to think I cannot live without these things–but I simply can’t afford to do too much shopping in that beautiful, beautiful place.

But on this recent trip (I was just looking for some light tofu, which wouldn’t ya know, they don’t carry), I came across a boxes of this:

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And they were on sale.
And there was a coupon.
So, I scored several boxes for just $1 each–yipee! I love a good deal, don’t you?

It’s nice to drink straight up, but I had other things in mind.

You see, I have four growing, always hungry, young kids. And when the older ones walk home from school each afternoon they’re especially ravenous. So, it’s my job to figure out how I can easily feed them a nutrient dense, calorie-packed snack.

I made this shake for them the other day–packed with lots of good stuff, & calorie dense (though each serving is perfect for an adult watching their calories).

The addition of nut butter & pumpkin seeds add some important nutrients for my kids, including fat, protein, zinc & vitamin E.

ingredients:

1 c. rice nog (or other non-dairy nog)
2 ripe bananas
2-3 c. ice
2 TBS. nut butter
1/4 c. unsalted raw pumpkin seeds
dash of cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg
1-2 packets stevia, if desired (though I think it’s plenty sweet without!)

Put ingredients in blender by order listed & blend until smooth. This is isn’t as thick & creamy as my candy cane or pumpkin pie milkshakes (which are more like soft ice cream), but that’s okay–drink with a straw & enjoy!

nutrition info: makes 4 servings; per serving–156 calories, 5 g fat, 25 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 3.5 g protein; WWP: 4 points 

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bring joy totes are on sale through 12/20 for only $7.50 + free shipping (enter hohoho at checkout): http://bringjoyshop.bigcartel.com/product/bring-joy-tote

Janae is offering one tote bag for two lucky blog readers! Enter the giveaway! And in the meantime, hop on over to Bring Joy to peruse it’s awesomeness.

For a chance to win this amazing Giveaway, Click on the link below to enter the Giveaway! This contest is open to entrants in the USA only! You must also follow this blog by email or RSS feed to qualify. You have until Sunday December 22nd!  I will notify the winner by email on Monday the 23rd December. GO!!

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Bonus Giveaway: Last but not least, Field Roast, the awesome company that makes the best “vegan grain meat” EVAH! mailed me some coupons earlier in the year, so I’m giving away one coupon for a Field Roast Celebration Roast to the first reader to go to my Vedged Out Facebook Page and message me there about how badly they want this Celebration Roast for Christmas! I’ll mail the coupon out to the winner today so that you have time to pick it up before Christmas!!!

field roast

Day 1: Free Vegan Lifestyle MagazineDay 2: Free Case of Butler Soy CurlsDay 3: Alternative Outfitters Vegan Boutique $25 Gift Card and Free Messenger BagDay 4: Sunwarrior Raw Vegan Protein Powder or Product of Choice GiveawayDay 5: Tropical Traditions 1 Gallon Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil Giveaway. Day 6: Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats, Allergy Free & Vegan Recipes. Cookbook Giveaway. Day 7: Extraordinary Vegan Cookbook Giveaway. Day 8: Emaline Delapaix, Music Download Giveaway. Day 9: Jazzy Vegetarian Classics Cookbook Giveaway.

Emaline Delapaix. Vegan Recording Artist. Worldwide Music Giveaway. Vedged Out 12 Days of Christmas.

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     Emaline Delapaix approached me last week with an offer for a giveaway. The timing was perfect because one of the giveaway sponsors I had for the 12 days of Christmas fell through. I think sometimes the Universe collides and makes wonderful things happen. This was one of those moments.
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     I took some time perusing Emaline’s sites and listening to samples of her music. All of it is right up my alley. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful and the music sounds like something you’re all ready familiar with, but only because it really speaks to the soul.

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     More about Emaline: Emaline is an Australian vegan singer, composer and musician who lives between rural Western Canada and Germany with her big orange cat Reece. She spends a lot of time writing odd folk pop for piano, acoustic guitar and harp and sometimes whatever else she has lying about the place. Some say she sounds a little like Kate Bush or Tori Amos, but she also loves a lot of Scandinavian music: music that invokes the weather like storms and warm sunsets. Emaline will be recording her first full length record between Berlin, London and Canada in winter 2013/2014, experimenting with sounds and space, the weather and environment, this CD will be her most ambitious yet with an expected release date of Spring 2014 including European, North American and Australian tour dates.
     She travels a lot and says that being vegan can be tough on the road but it’s possible. She’s living proof! She also gives a small % of CD sales to local animal charities via online sales and concerts.

Her CD’s are self recorded with her guitarist and then handmade and using recycled card and eco friendly inks.

     Emaline has generously offered a music download of her latest album, Between Breeding Seasons to THREE lucky winners.

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Listen to her music here. Visit Emaline on Facebook here and finally, check out her website herePurchase her music here with a 20% discount until January 1st 2014 with the discount code: xmas 

Or for a chance to win this amazing Giveaway, Click on the link below to enter the Giveaway! This contest is open to entrants WORLDWIDE! You must also follow this blog by email or RSS feed to qualify. You have until Friday December 20th!  I will notify the winner by email on Monday the 23rd of December. GO!!

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Day 1: Free Vegan Lifestyle MagazineDay 2: Free Case of Butler Soy CurlsDay 3: Alternative Outfitters Vegan Boutique $25 Gift Card and Free Messenger BagDay 4: Sunwarrior Raw Vegan Protein Powder or Product of Choice GiveawayDay 5: Tropical Traditions 1 Gallon Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil Giveaway. Day 6: Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats, Allergy Free & Vegan Recipes. Cookbook Giveaway. Day 7: Extraordinary Vegan Cookbook Giveaway.

*photographs in this post courtesy of  www.facebook.com/BinneGestaltung

Vegan Thin Mint Cookies at the Keepin’ It Kind Holiday Cookie Exchange!

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It’s Cookie Party Time!

Kristy over at Keepin’ It Kind hosts the most amazing Holiday Cookie Exchange Parties, you know, just for vegan blogger fun-ness. Today I’m sharing my Vegan Thin Mint Cookies and boy oh boy are you in for a treat. These may even be better than the real deal.

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There’s something about the Holiday Season that makes me want to put Chocolate and Peppermint together any chance I get, uh, kinda like I did at last years Keepin’ It Kind Holiday Cookie Exchange with these Brookie Grasshopper Squares. I won’t mind if you make both ridiculously yummy desserts…

Both recipes have a gluten free option, are egg freedairy free, soy free and nut free recipe, however these are NOT sugar free or fat free, but I think you’ll forgive me! Just click on the link below to get the recipe:

Vegan Thin Mints

Now for a word about Kristy:

I think if you peruse Kristy’s site, you’ll want to gobble up everything on there. Her and her husband Chris make an awesome team. She’s doing the recipe development and the cooking, he’s working the angles on the camera. The results are stunning, eye-catching and mouthwatering! They’re in the process of writing their first vegan cookbook! Follow her over at Keepin’ it Kind, you’ll be in love with every post and dish!

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Come back on Monday where I’ll be kicking off 12 days of Vedged Out Christmas with all kinds of giveaways, goodies and gifts! Happy Holidays!

Love, Somer

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

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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!

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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

 

And the Award Goes To…. Virtual Vegan Potluck Flashback

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It’s that time of year again, the Virtual Vegan Potluck is rapidly approaching! Annie (Creator and Head Mistress of the VVP) is the featuring the winners of each category over at the Virtual Vegan Potluck site, and today, my Jackfruit and Kimchi BLT Slider Bites are being featured. Head on over to check it out, and if you haven’t signed up all ready, what are you waiting for?

A Fork and Beans Halloween Special! Monster Rice Cereal Treats Recipe and Worldwide E-Book Giveaway!

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I’ve had a girl crush on Cara ever since I started stalking her at her site, Fork and Beans. For those of you that know Cara, she is infinitely creative, has a crazy sweet tooth, and makes everything that would seem impossible to make vegan, gluten-free, egg-free and dairy free into absolute perfection. I shamelessly use her Gluten-Free flour blend in nearly every gluten free recipe I make that requires a flour replacement. It’s so good that when I catered my brother’s art show, with more than 200 people in attendance, that no one could believe the baked goods were gluten-free (seriously).

Cara has recently taken the leap into full time blogger, meaning, she quit her day job to make all her culinary dreams at Fork and Beans come true. Radical! She offered me a chance to give one of my readers a copy of her very first E-Book, the very timely A Fork and Beans Halloween Special. If you know Cara at all, you know her love for all things Halloween borders on psycho obsessive (in the most endearing way)! Here’s a sneak peek at what’s inside:

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These recipes would all be fantastic for your next Halloween shin-dig! All of the recipes are vegan, egg-free, dairy-free and gluten-free, most of the recipes are also nut-free/soy-free. So, you’ll be happy to know you can serve it all to all your guests without worrying about everyone’s individual allergies/food needs! Today I’ll be sharing (with Cara’s permission) her Monster Rice Cereal Treats Recipe.

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Monster Rice Cereal Treats

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Dandies vegan marshmallows
  • 6 cups gluten-free rice cereal
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • Natural green food coloring
  • Edible candy eyes
  • Gauze
  • Skull cookie cutter

Directions:
In large saucepan melt the vegan butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Add a few green food coloring drops into the mixture and stir until evenly colored.

Add cereal and stir until well combined.

Using wax paper, evenly press mixture into a greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Allow to cool.

Cut out skull shapes with the cookie cutter.

Wrap each head with gauze and place the edible eyes on by either pressing firmly in the treats or “glue” with royal icing.

Now for the best bit. This E-Book is for sale on Cara’s site for a mere $7. While I’m doing a giveaway here, I know that most of you probably have that much in change under your couch cushions, so support Cara, buy this book and throw the best Halloween Party ever!

Oh and the book includes a special bonus! 10 of Cara’s Homemade Gluten, Egg, and Dairy-Free Candy Bars!candy bars

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 WORLDWIDEYou must also follow this blog by email or RSS feed to qualify. You have until Monday the 7th of October to enter!  I will notify the winner by email on Wednesday the 10th of October. GO!!

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