Sprout New Roots


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Vegan Walnut Pesto

I’ve always loved pesto. Pesto on my pasta, pesto spread on toasty bread, pesto on a sandwich or wrap, etc. After going from vegetarian to vegan, I learned that a lot of pesto’s usually have parmesan cheese in them. I also learned that making vegan pesto is crazy easy and whatever that parmesan cheese added to the flavor, nuts could add an even cleaner taste to it-while maintaining the “cheezy” notes. For the last few years, however, I’ve not really fooled around with pesto. Then we started an herb garden and I found what I’d been missing out on-fresh basil. I’d searched the web, collected and saved recipes and when my basil was ready-I was more than ready. My mouth watered just looking at the basil leaves! So here’s what I did. I used NeverHomeMaker’s Pesto recipe as my base, slightly altered it, and added a little nutritional yeast. (Check out her blog if you have not already-I have a crush on her food pictures!)

Once we made this and served it over pasta, we literally looked at each other constantly saying “Oh my god, now this is delicious!”, “Oh my god, I can’t even believe how good this is!”, “Wow.” haha!

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Walnut Basil Pesto

(slightly altered from NeverHomeMaker’s version)

Makes about 8-12 oz of sauce

  • 3/4 cup walnuts (or pine nuts-but I used walnuts because they’re cheaper)
  • 2.5 cups fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped up a bit
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes

How-To

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a rimmed baking sheet, spread your walnuts and then roast for 5 minutes. Stir. Roast another couple minutes, until you can smell them. Set aside to cool completely. I put mine in the freezer while I did the other steps to speed up the cooling process.
  2. Boil a cup and a half of water and then “shock” the basil (helps keep the green color longer) by placing it in water for 10 seconds. Then immediately pour into colander and rinse with cold water and pat dry with a tea towel. You’ll be shocked at how much the leaves shrivel down to nothing!
  3. In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Then pulse until well combined.
  4. Store in an air-tight container for 2-4 days in the refrigerator for use or freeze in ice cube tray for the future.

Thank you NeverHomeMaker!!

photo(9)Reaping my harvest! Ha!

photo(11)We cooked some quinoa pasta and steamed and sauteed veggies, then topped it with the pesto!

This made for such an incredible meal!

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Do you have any pesto tips or recipes? I’d love to hear them!

 

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The Mac-n-Vegan-Cheesiest!

Everyone loves comfort food. Including us! Who doesn’t appreciate food that’s tastes like home? We grew up in New Orleans and pretty much all of the cuisine here makes people feel happy when they eat it. They may not feel so good afterwards-but it’s worth it to them. Not so much to us. However, we love that warming, comfortable feeling of tasting a slice of home-which brings me to this post! What we consider comfort food. Mac –Cheese! But not just any old mac n cheese- Spaghetti Squash Mac-n-Cashew “Cheese”! There are many recipes that you can find online for different nut and cashew cheese sauces, but I wanted to show you guys exactly what I did with what I had in my pantry because I believe it’s a simpler recipe than a lot that I found online. I chose spaghetti squash for the “noodles” because I have noticed, over time, that I’ve tended to “crowd out” pastas with whole grains and other “whole foods”. The last few times I have eaten pasta (even whole wheat or multi-grain) I feel heavier than I like to afterwards. I think my body is just used to lighter fair these days. And by “lighter” I certainly do not mean only salads-just food that takes less processing by my body. I still love pasta though and of course I still eat it occasionally. It’s just a small change I’ve experienced gradually over this past year and a half. Also, I like to eat a lot-so if I eat pasta-I can’t eat as much and that’s just no fun for me!
So here’s what I did!

cashews

Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash, or 2 small spaghetti squashes

You can bake your spaghetti squash whole or in 2 halves (cut lengthwise) in the oven.

If you choose to bake it whole, pierce the skin with a sharp knife several times around the squash. Bake it for an hour if it’s a medium-large size at 375 degrees. Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees if it’s a small one. You’ll need to be careful that the skin doesn’t burn.  Check it occasionally and reposition it if you notice it beginning to brown in one spot. Once it is finished (you should be able to pierce the skin with a knife without much resistance) , remove from the oven, cut in half, and carefully scrape out the seeds and pulp in the center, then scrape the inside “meat” of the squash out with a fork and you’ll notice it comes out in “noodles” just like spaghetti!

If you choose to bake it in half, cut it in half, scrape out the seeds and pulp from the center and place it in the oven on a baking pan rind side up for 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees. Again, once it is finished, scrape the inside of the squash out with a fork.

Cashew Cheese Sauce

  • 1 cup of cashews
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups of non-dairy milk (I used soy milk, but almond milk would work fine as well. Avoid coconut milk for this)
  • 1 heaping tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Put cashews in your blender or processor. Blend until they’re crumbly but be sure not to blend to a paste. Add the nutritional yeast flakes along with the garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt. Pulse the blender 3 or 4 more times to mix it up. On the stove, heat the nondairy milk, olive oil, and the cornstarch. Heat and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Turn your blender/processor back on and slowly add the hot milkiness and blend for 2 minutes until smooth. Mix it into your spaghetti squash noodles! Add steamed/sautéed veggies into it or on the side. I have added in fresh spinach (picture below) and also steamed broccoli and carrots! Viola! Guilt-free comfort food!

Little Tip! Use this cashew “cheese” sauce to pour over your veggies or rice! Slather it on a sandwich! Dip chips or veggies into it!

spaghetti-squash-1

What do you consider comfort food ?

Please let us know in the comments below!


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Bonnie: A Veggie Tale

We would like to introduce you to our cousin, Bonnie. She is one of the many veggies in our family.

bon-jenn-kel

(Bonnie, Jenn, Kelli)

When Bonnie was 12, she decided to give up eating animals.  Then, years later, she decided it was also the right decision for herself to give up dairy and eggs.  We each have a unique story to tell when it comes to our journey as vegetarians and now, as vegans. So we wanted to include Bonnie’s story on our blog because she has been living this lifestyle for many years now (she is now 27)-and, not to mention, she makes some damn good food that we both appreciate!

Every Thanksgiving, Bonnie shows up with this incredible dark chocolate cranberry cake that she makes. It is decadent, rich and beautiful and we look forward to it every year! We asked her to share the recipe with us for this blog post. We also thought it would be fun to ask her some questions, so you guys can get to know her better! So, here she is with her recipe and answers!

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Bonnie:

To be honest, this cake recipe changes every year! A few requirements: CHOCOLATE, layered, icing, filling, and topped with homemade candied cranberries. Also, I somehow always incorporate liquor into it.

This year I based my cake off of a recipe from “Babycakes Covers the Classics” by Erin McKenna.

The actual cake I brought to Thanksgiving was born from the following recipe, “Six-Layer Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Preserves”

  • 1 ½ cups melted refined coconut oil or canola oil, plus more for brushing (I used coconut oil)
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 ½ cups sorghum flour
  • 2 cups vegan sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • ½ cup arrowroot (I used cornstarch)
  • 2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • ½ cup vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1½ cups hot water

Directions (sort of what I did) preheat over to about 300 degrees. line 3 large round pans with wax paper and brush with coconut oil. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients (I use a sifter I found at goodwill). Mad the wet to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly with an electric mixer. Divide the batter between the three pans. Put the pans in the oven. Cook for a while till you start to smell it. Take a look in the oven and see if its working. Increase the heat to 310. Let some time pass. Smells really good in the house! Put a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the cake pans and increase heat to 325. It’s gonna be about 20 more minutes from here. Use a
toothpick and if it comes out clean then you’re good to go. Let pans cool completely before removing. Place plate on top of pan. Invert and cake should come out. Trim the hump off of the top of the cakes so that you can layer them flat. Make a filling and icing. Layer the cranberry filling and icing between the layers. This year I used toothpicks to keep the layers from sliding off of each other. Top with rest of chocolate icing and pile the cranberries in the center and spread out to almost the edges. This cake is heavy!

Thank you Bonnie! Now we’d like to ask you some questions so that our readers can get to know you a little better!

Summarize your journey to eating and a plant-based diet and lifestyle. When did you begin, what sparked your interest, etc.

My first memory of rejecting meat was probably around age 10; I use the word rejecting because this was not premeditated. I was on a family vacation in Gatlinburg, Tn. My parents had rented a chalet in the mountains equipped with a kitchen. As usually, when my mom cooked us dinner it was the “well-rounded” meal with a starch (potatoes with cheese), vegetable (spinach or broccoli with cream sauce) and a protein (chicken with ketchup). This particular night I remember gobbling up my side items and jumping up from the table saying I was done! I was anxious to “swim” in the giant jacuzzi tub that I had to wait to fill up until AFTER dinner. My mom quickly urged me to finish my chicken, and within 30 seconds it was gone! Like I had seen my brother’s hamster do, I quickly stuffed my chicken into my cheeks, quietly walked to the garbage can, and disposed of my dinner meat. Tada! Mission accomplished- time to swim. Before the chicken incident in Gatlinburg, my mom would always have to “trick” me into eating my meat. For example, she would cut up a hamburger patty, melt atop a piece of American cheese, and plot a dollop of ketchup next to it. She had figured this was the best way to get me fed with the least amount of difficulty knowing that had I walked to the dinner table and saw a constructed two bun, patty with cheese hamburger, the odds were against her. About two years later, age 12, I had a burst of self awareness. I didn’t like meat! And, no one can make me eat it! January 15, 1999 was my last bite of fried chicken fingers at the late Joe’s crab shack at the New Orleans Lakefront. It was my friends 13th birthday and all of the girls were sitting around the table eating chicken fingers, french fries, and coke. In my mind I had a moment of clarity; no second thoughts. This was it. I told my mom I was a vegetarian the next day. This worried her because a childhood friend who had become a vegetarian soon after developed anorexia; in her mind the two words were linked together. Although at first she didn’t quite understand, she respected my decision and began modifying her recipes so that meat was served “on the side”, and vegetable dishes did not contain meat flavorings like so many southern vegetable recipes do. Weeks later Lent began, and I saw this as an opportunity to be more open with family and friends… “I gave up meat for lent” I would say with a soft smile. “I can’t eat that because I gave it up!” Awesome, I thought. This is working. Lent ended and I continued my story, “well, I gave it up for Lent and decided I don’t want it anymore.” I was “out”, and publicly being a vegetarian had its difficulties- people really had a problem with it. Every time I had dinner at a friend’s house or went to dinner with a group of people, IT came up. I always aspired to give up dairy and egg, but knew in my mind that this was something I had to be ready for. Cheese had became a meat replacement, and egg seemed to hiding in EVERYTHING. Around Mardi Gras 2007, it was time! I made my first vegan sliced tofurkey and cheeze sandwhich to pack in the cooler for the Endymion parade– not delicious. It’s time to learn how to cook. From there, my interest in eating veg took off. Recipe books, blogs, reading labels; I was on my own trying to navigate this new world and way of eating. Restaurants were a challenge. I learned my go-to places to eat where I knew I could order something “safe”. I quickly learned that my best chance of not having to send my food back was explicitly explaining to the server/manager that I had an ALLERGY. This only has about a 70% success rate.

What is your favorite vegan indulgence?

Ahhh, I love a piece of oreo cake from whole foods’ bakery. My mom usually buys a whole cake for my birthday. It’s fabulous. Right now my husband and I are loving Vegan Crab Cakes by Sophie’s Kitchen (freezer section of whole foods). We even eat these for breakfast!

What changes have you noticed since giving up meat, poultry, and dairy?

Other than not having traditional digestive problems from eating… I have such an appreciation for flavors! When food isn’t masked by butter or cream you can actually taste things in a way you never noticed before

What is your favorite vegan holiday dish?
My cranberry cake 😀

Do you have a favorite vegan cookbook and/or blog?

The first vegan blog that I started reading on the reg was Fat Free Vegan (here) . I also like Vegan Yum Yum (here). And, of course Sprout New Roots!

What is/was the biggest challenge for you in this lifestyle?

Not spending a fortune at Whole Foods.

What motivates you to continue to cook and eat plant-based foods?

My health, my love of quality food, and being true to myself. “I was born this way!” -Lady Gaga

What advice do you have for someone interested in trying veganism?

Vegan food just tastes better! Veg eating is a journey. Do what feels right for you. Take recipes you love and see how you can
use veg substitutions to eliminate animal products. Call ahead at a restaurant and ask questions about menu items. Cook from
scratch. Add veggies to everything! Make your own almond milk. Eat fruit. Small changes in your food choices can lead you in the
veg direction!

Thank you again, Bonnie!


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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups! (V)

Since I made my homemade peanut butter yesterday, my brain has been consumed in peanut butteryness! And since Wednesday is Halloween, I thought it’d be fun to make a chocolate that I used to LOVE during Halloween-time before I gave up dairy-Reeses Peanut Butter cups! I know, I know…we’re “healthy” eaters and this amount of sugar is absurd. But every now and then, I think it’s good to indulge a little-at least until I officially give up my sugar addiction-which was getting better by the way until I made these tonight. Anyways, I had to share this with you guys because, while it still is sugar, it’s Halloween week and it’s at least free of animal products and the peanut butter is fresh and whole. Am I justifying myself enough here or what? Hah! Oh and in case you missed my Homemade Peanut Butter post-check it out here.

Ingredients:

(makes about 12-16 choc. pb cups)

  • Vegan dark chocolate chips
  • Peanut butter
  • Coconut Oil (optional)
  • Baking Cups

Directions:

First, cut the baking cups in half so that they are short sided. Place into your muffin tin. Then, melt half of the chocolate chips in a double boiler or very slowly in a small pot on the stove. Add in some coconut oil (not a lot at all) to make the chocolate more soupy. Pour the melted chocolate into the cups-covering the bottoms completely. Place the muffin tin into the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Take it out and add some peanut butter on top of each hardened chocolate piece in the muffin cups. Place the tin back into the freezer for another 10 minutes. In the meantime, melt the rest of the package of chocolate. Take the muffin pan out and pour on top of the peanut butter then put into the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. You can skip this step if you want because there is definitely enough chocolate in each piece with the bottom slab of chocolate. Or if you do proceed to add the chocolate on top-it makes for a cleaner solid piece of candy-but be warned-this is A LOT of dark rich chocolate in each piece. One piece per person is more than enough due to its richness. I honestly recommend you don’t top them off with chocolate, or you pour 2 thin layers of chocolate for the top and bottom. I made them both ways to test it out.

Happy Halloween!!!