Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 5: Who says vegans don’t care about human rights?

Fluffy the Vegan Unicorn here:

Being that I am an ethereal being, who only wants to best for everyone, animals, and humans alike, I am here to share why human rights are important for vegans to think about and make food decisions based around in addition to animal rights. I implore you to treat humans as compassionately as you do animals. Humans are animals too, and deserving of peace and protection. Making excuses as to why human beings do not deserve fair treatment, such as some humans’ having the capacity for evil, will not challenge or end any suffering. Try to think of the essence and energy of me, a beautiful, positive unicorn who loves everybody and can spread love everywhere the next time you want to turn away from making a decision that will be good for the rights of both humans and animals.

Now I am sending some of that energy over to Laura, who will share some basic information on human rights and her favorite vegan resources doing powerful work for the vegan movement that also happen to include human rights in their missions.

Laura says:

Human rights are an expansive concept. To gain an understanding of what is generally understood to be considered universal human rights, check out the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights here. Though these rights have been declared and adopted by the UN, they are constantly being violated around the world and in the United States.

I want to try to keep this to food-related human rights issues since vegan MoFo stands for Month of Food, but know that I’m happy to have more comprehensive discussions the comprehensive subject of human rights more with others.

Food justice, cultural awareness, racism, classism, ableism, health, ethnocentrism, are just a few of the topics we should be aware of when we have conversations about veganism and making it a more inclusive movement.

As a social justice-minded white person, I want to lift up, value, and listen to the voices of people of color, women and people who are trans or gender non-conforming, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses (different than my own), people of different religions, and socioeconomic statuses when they say white vegans need to recognize their privilege and consider their criticisms about how the general vegan movement has failed to consider or be sensitive to their struggles and needs.

I believe that as a white person I need to educate myself about human rights and social justice, racism, and beyond, not rely on asking others who have experienced injustices to tell me how it is. It is not their responsibility and can contribute to further oppression.

So, I feel it is best, at this point, to share some of the resources, blogs, websites, books, etc. I have found helpful in educating myself. I hope if you are like me, that these resources open your eyes to others’ struggles in the vegan community and beyond and inspire you to take action towards justice. If you are a person who has experienced oppression from vegans in regards to your race/sex/gender/disability/class/etc. that some of these resources will be encouraging if you have not seen them yet.

These are just a small handful, but anyone is welcome to share more of these in the comments.

Food Empowerment Project. Website: http://www.foodispower.org/

F.E.P is a nonprofit vegan food justice organization. They seek to educate vegans about human rights issues present in chocolate, bananas, coffee, and more. They are behind an extensive amount of research on chocolate companies and whether they violate human rights (of children especially) and started a list of vegan chocolate lists they would recommend or not recommend based on their research. The list is on their website and also available as a searchable smartphone app.

Just as importantly, Food Empowerment Project addresses farm workers rights, food insecurity and lack of access to healthy foods in their community, provides delicious recipes for vegan Mexican food, and so much more. Their website is available in both Spanish and English.

Decolonize Your Diet. Website: http://decolonizeyourdiet.org/

This is a resource designed for and by Latinos/as with the purpose to reclaim their food choices to honor their ancestors who were colonized. They share recipes, information about food ingredients, herbs and tea, cooking techniques, health, and more. They have published a cookbook and have an index of their recipes on their website. When you visit the site, be sure to click on “kindred spirits” where they share other people and organizations in line with their mission.

Sistah Vegan Project. Website: http://www.sistahvegan.com/

Dr. A. Breeze Harper has lots of information on her website, in her books, on social media, in podcasts, and elsewhere about her own experiences being a black, feminist, vegan, scholar. Her book Sistah Vegan highlighted her own and other women of color’s experiences. It is considered a must-read.

Vegan Feminist Network. Website: http://veganfeministnetwork.com/

Vegan Feminist Network has a wealth of information on vegan intersectional feminism. Their website is a source for essays on almost any topic you can think of and beyond. They have comprehensive resources for all kinds of issues, including tips for understanding racism and sexism, for male allies,  reading lists, and more. I especially like their page titled “What You Can Do!” They are also on social media and have a podcast.

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So please check them all out and educate yourself on the importance of honoring human rights! Hopefully, the more of us that become aware of these issues, the less this perception of vegans not caring about humans will be true.

I’ve been a little overwhelmed by writing these last two posts, but I hope that they are useful to you and have stimulated some thoughts. It is now time I get started cooking my dinner tonight, which I hope will be successful and that I can share with you tomorrow to smash the misconception that vegan cheese is not real cheese!

 

 

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Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 4: Hidden Cruelties in our food

Laura here:

Hey there everybody, thanks so much for your awesome comments and likes so far! Fluffy and I really appreciate the support.

Today Fluffy and I want to talk about hidden cruelties in vegan food. Fluffy has asked me to speak on this today. The topic is very important to them, but they feel I am more experienced with explaining about it. As a humane education graduate student, I am used to doing a lot of research, especially about the life cycle of products and their impact on the environment, animals, and humans.

It’s not the most pleasant topic but I hope you will consider it and learn some new research skills and explore some new issues that require your compassion and empathy. As vegans, to be fully compassionate it is important that we consider supporting companies that are not just vegan, but also have good human rights track records for their workers at all levels of production and are better for the environment that we animals all share and need to not decline any further. Doing so makes for a better world where the goals are fairness, equality, freedom, sustainability, a restored planet, and beyond. We all want that, right? I’ll be talking more specifically about why human rights are an important issue for vegans tomorrow.

It’s ultimately up to you what companies, products, foods, etc you choose to buy. But I do urge you to think about what led you to first become vegan. Many of us had to open our eyes and face the realities of some immense cruelties that we maybe had never considered before. We opted out, we wanted to no longer contribute to such immense suffering. Now, we need to extend that compassion, keep learning, keep growing, keep researching the same way we did when we went vegan.

It can be really challenging to research a lot of the hidden cruelties behind our foods and their packaging. They wouldn’t be considered hidden otherwise.

Some tips for uncovering some of these cruelties in foods, ingredients, and packaging:

  • Look to the company themselves. Write to them and ask questions. Sometimes if you suggest they may be violating human rights or accuse them of something super serious, they won’t write back, so be polite and very specific. They will be honest otherwise. If you’re inquiring if a product is completely vegan down to something really specific like sugar sourcing, or whatever, be clear as to what that means. They don’t always know what it means, especially smaller companies that may not label their products as vegan but the products may actually be vegan anyways.
  • Main ingredients such as fruits and vegetables that are grown around the world are often easy (yet maybe a little overwhelming) to research their footprint and how they affect animals, human workers, and the environment in order to grow. Looking up their typical country of origin, growing season, water usage, transportation (how many miles do they travel to get to you? How do they keep them fresh if it’s a long distance? How much gas is involved in their transport?) will be a good start. Then once you get some of the answers to those questions you can begin to look into other factors. How are the workers treated who grow them, pick them, package them, ship them? Are there any current boycotts or labor actions such as strikes on behalf of the workers that you can find? What are the animal issues involved with their production (especially treatment of insects and other animals that risk the crop’s viability and what they do with other animals in the local environment that interact with the crop or the land used for growing it)? Is the land, water, air being destroyed in some way from the production of it? Etc.
  • To learn more about the effect plastic packaging is having on animals, humans, and our planet, I recommend starting with the film A Plastic Ocean. This is currently available on Netflix.
  • To learn more about the bottled water industry and the harm it’s doing, check out the film Tapped. It’s not on Netflix but may be available streaming elsewhere. This article provides an overview of some of the topics covered in the film.
  • To learn more about the human rights abuses involved in chocolate, coffee, bananas, and more, get familiar with the Food Empowerment Project.
  • There are lots of other issues and food products to be aware of that we often consume as vegans. Palm oil is a big issue as well, but to be honest I rely on other people’s research and try to reduce my use of products with palm oil in them as much as I possibly can. It feels a little too overwhelmingly upsetting to expose myself to the research on it myself. Which brings me to my next few points.

Take care of yourself and don’t get overwhelmed by researching everything all at once. If you feel your favorite food might be problematic in some way, don’t start by researching that one. You cannot be perfect and it does get overwhelming when you realize how many products have major problems with them.

Find a way to practice self-care when you uncover upsetting things, and take action when you can by boycotting the product, writing to the company to tell them you’d like to see them change, educate others about the problem and direct them to alternative products, etc

If you’re worried about a product you use and have heard many people’s rationale for avoiding it, and you feel like it might too much to expose yourself to the gory details, it’s probably a good idea to stop using the product. This is the same guilt and denial mechanism that prevents some people from adopting a vegan lifestyle.

I’ll say it again: remember you can’t be perfect. Sometimes we need to make trade-offs and analyze and use our critical thinking skills, remember our core values, and try our best to do the most good, least harm (from a book by the president of the Institute for Humane Education, Zoe Weil, which I highly recommend). It’s important to research and make fully informed decisions, but losing our sanity over it is also ineffective and harmful and prevents us from making a positive change in ourselves, the world, and for others.

Compassion fatigue is a serious issue as well. Here are some articles that provide some good tips and stuff about it.

https://www.vegansociety.com/whats-new/blog/self-care-vegan-activist

http://www.ourhenhouse.org/2013/05/how-an-activist-headed-toward-burnout-can-change-course-four-ways-to-cope-with-compassion-fatigue/

And this podcast sounds amazing. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I will. I like the link mainly for its awesome resources:

http://veganwarriorprincessesattack.com/137-burnout-compassion-fatigue-vicarious-trauma-vegan-activism-steven-dawson-lcsw/

Anyways, tomorrow will be the last serious post before I get back to some more super fun, unicorny stuff!

 

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 3: Body Positivity for Vegans

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Laura here: Yesterday Fluffy talked about food shaming and guilt and why it does not need to happen and how to be better at avoiding it.

This week’s MoFo topic is “Changing vegan perceptions.” Today I want to talk about another big bummer that plays into the topic of guilt and shame that I see happen within the vegan community a lot. Shaming people (or yourself) for their whole body or an aspect of it, beyond their daily food choices.

When I say the term “body shaming” let me be clear. I mean that these are negative comments directed at someone else’s (or your own) size (small or large or in between), disability, health status (such as a chronic illness, having a cold/flu or colds more frequently than others, or any other diseases, as well as general ideas about a person’s overall health, etc.), appearance, gender presentation (for instance, whether they look feminine or masculine or are non-binary), choice of aesthetics, and can go on to include even more. I think you probably know the type of comments associated with these areas, so I’ll spare you the added negativity.

But here is a personal example of body shaming from my own life and my experience in the vegan community. Several years back, I read this statement from a prominent vegan activist or media source that said, essentially, we cannot be good vegan advocates if we look unhealthy (as in fat).

I considered their rationale and took it to heart. I lost around 70 pounds. But I was obsessed with being thin to the point I was kinda miserable (I didn’t realize it right away because I was getting so much praise and attention for the way my body looked.) I was training for and ran a half marathon that I wasn’t quite ready for because I thought that was what good, successful, and most influential vegan advocates did.

Before the half marathon, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. Shortly after I thought I had recovered from my half marathon, I tried to start Crossfit in addition to running again, and I badly injured my back. I couldn’t even stand with my spine up straight, and I was barely able to walk and in excruciating pain.

 

After almost a year in physical therapy and chronic pain that continues long after I was discharged from physical therapy, and having gained a lot of the weight back due to my thyroid condition, my injury, reduced ability to exercise and no longer depriving myself of foods I love, I appear to be back to the body they said couldn’t be a good advocate for veganism.

Except they were wrong. My body is not wrong. I can assure you that despite my larger size and illnesses/disabilities, the fact that I do get colds once in a while, that I don’t conform to certain standards of beauty, etc. that I am just as good an advocate for veganism as I was when I was running half marathons and thin. In fact, I’d say I am now a better one because:

  • I am not grumpy and miserable all the time from depriving myself of foods I enjoy. Veganism should bring joy.
  • I have time to focus on my graduate studies in humane education instead of spending most of my time training for runs and doing a half-assed job at school
  • I can help vegans who get sick realize it is beyond their control and that they are not a bad vegan because of their illness
  • I can show vegans that you can still be a healthy vegan if you are a larger person, as my blood work levels are the same as when I was thinner
  • I have found a form of mind-body exercise that leaves me feeling restored and in less pain overall, that I devote a manageable amount of time to practicing and is ultimately a form of self-care so I don’t experience as much burn out when I’m wearing my vegan advocate hat. 
  • I have been going to talk therapy and working on loving my body for what it does for me and how strong and powerful it can be rather than attaching it to others’ ideals and ideas of perfection or what kind of a body is suitable to be a vegan advocate, which is what I am and will always be

Says Fluffy: All bodies are magical bodies. Never assume you know someone’s health story by looking at their body. Humans are complex and their uniqueness and differences make them beautiful. Vegans can come in all shapes and sizes, it’s not a one size fits all movement. Now it’s time to eat some cupcakes and do my Prancercise. (In case you were wondering, that is the official exercise of choice for unicorns).

Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 2: Eating Treats Without Guilt

Hi, it’s Fluffy here!

I want to talk to you today about something two concepts that never need to go together: food & guilt. Sadly, people often DO put them together.

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To avoid my salty unicorn tears from flowing, here is my take on the matter:

Vegan food, after all, is about eating with compassion and making a conscious effort to reduce suffering through our food choices. So, as long as you are doing the best you can to achieve this goal, there really is no need for guilt! (If you’re not vegan and are experiencing feelings of guilt because you’re becoming aware of the suffering that occurs from your food choices, there are plenty of supportive vegans who would love to help you make the transition! For example, my pal Laura, the owner of this blog, is a Vegan Outreach Mentor and also has her own site, veg-edu-ables.com that you might want to check out.)

I see a lot of people associate guilt and shame with supposed “bad” vegan foods as opposed to “healthy” vegan foods. There is no such thing as “good” and/or “bad” food. Vegan food is vegan food. Want to eat a delicious sugary vegan donut? Go ahead! Enjoy it. Savor each melt-in-your-mouth morsel. Think to yourself, well, that was magical! I deserved that experience! I am happy I ate that. Want to eat a salad? As long as you don’t feel with every bite that you live a joyless, hopeless, sad and tasteless existence, that’s okay too!

When we shame or guilt trip ourselves or others for eating certain foods it creates unhealthy problems with food, or our bodies, minds, and spirits. As long as you are eating a balanced diet that does not consist of around the clock cookies and nothing but cookies and turning into a cookie monster, you’ll be okay. In fact, you’ll enjoy life a little bit more when you allow yourself to have fun, enjoy, and savor all the delicious vegan treats that are exploding onto the shelves of grocery stores, in vegan bakeries, restaurants, cookbooks, blogs, Instagrams, and beyond. I know I do!

Tomorrow we’ll be talking about shame and guilt as it relates to people’s bodies, which goes together with this topic.

**If you feel like you have a real problem with guilt and food, or feel like you may have some seriously disordered eating habits, I encourage you to find a vegan-friendly registered dietician and/or a psychologist who specializes in disordered eating. It won’t be easy but you can recover. Fluffy loves you and wants to see you healthy, happy, and successful.

 

 

 

Vegan MoFo (Month of Food) Day 1 Introduction

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Hey everyone! I haven’t been posting much here lately but I’m going to be writing (hopefully) every day in October to participate in Vegan MoFo. I first started doing MoFo in 2014, and I skipped it last year, but this year I am back at it because I have a cool new project and life stuff I want to talk about.

Plus October is my birth month (my birthday is on the 29th), and in the previous years, I have done MoFo it has been in September. What a better way to celebrate my birthday than to do what I love best? Talking about vegan food!

So what is this cool new project? Well, for my Master’s thesis in Humane Education I’m going to be writing a Vegan Unicorn Party cooking and craft book. Humane Education is a field that seeks to help others learn about the environment, human rights, animals, cultural structures, and how to effect change in the world. You can learn more about the kinds of things I seek to practice from my grad program’s blog here.

So how do unicorns and humane education go together?

That’s where Fluffy the Vegan Unicorn Comes in!

Fat Unicorn

Fluffy the Vegan Unicorn is a body positive, gender non-conforming (they use they/their/them pronouns) treat loving unicorn who believes that vegan food should be fun!

Having fun with food is great for kids of all ages, even children at heart who happen to be adults. In fact, it is Fluffy’s hope that their food can bring joy to all, even the most grumpy, un-childlike adults. Fluffy believes that is healthy for all adults to have a childlike sense of wonder about food and other beautiful things, like the magic of nature.

 

The first week of Vegan MoFo is devoted to Changing Vegan Perceptions. This week Fluffy will help me share a lot of their attitude toward vegan food philosophy. There may not always be recipes or pictures of food every time, but hopefully, you will learn some new things about vegan food, be encouraged to play, treat yo’ self, and enjoy more. Maybe Fluffy will even change your perceptions of vegan food.

This is the rundown for the rest of the week, so you know what to expect:

Monday, October 2, Eating Treats Without Guilt

Tuesday, October 3, Body Positivity for Vegans

Wednesday, October 4, Researching Hidden Cruelties in our Food

Thursday, October 5, Who says vegans don’t care about human rights?

Friday, October 6, *keeping with the MoFo daily theme for this one* Vegan Cheese is Real Cheese with a surprisingly cheezy unicorn recipe

Saturday, October 7, Fluffy’s Vegan Dessert Food Pyramid

Sunday, October 8, You Can Make Friends With Salad *Vegan MoFo day theme* After reading about all this dessert stuff, don’t forget to eat your vegetables!

Then in the following week, you’ll be getting a behind the scenes look at some of the things I’m doing for the book, some of Fluffy’s favorite staples and tools, and rainbowy frosting tips. The third week will be mostly keeping in line with the daily themes for the ingredient challenges, with a unicorn twist. And the final week of MoFo will be all about entertaining, Halloween, unicorns, and their overlaps.

You can also follow my posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I also have an additional Instagram devoted to Fluffy Approved recipes and other unicorn things, that you can follow @unicorns.eat.vegan 

So get excited and I cannot wait to look at and read what my other vegan blogger friends are doing for MoFo this week and beyond!

 

 

 

 

Cake Batter Everything

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Thanks to this recipe for cake batter butter, I discovered that vegan butter extract exists, and started going a little overboard making all things cake batter.

Then I decided to make a raspberry cake batter smoothie.

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It’s basically two cups nondairy milk, a scoop of vanilla protein powder (I use Vega Essentials), 1/3 cup frozen raspberries, one banana, 1/2 tsp vegan butter extract, 1/2 tsp almond extract, and 2 tsp vanilla extract. I also added in some vegan sprinkles, So Delicious coco whip to make it creamier (about 1/3 cup in the smoothie, and more for the topping), and drank it out of a fun straw. If you make the nut butter, you can also add a tablespoon or two into the blender.

Enjoy!

PS: If you like vegan, gluten free, soy free, and protein packed waffles, check out the new Fitquick birthday cake flavor…I haven’t tried it yet but I love their stuff and can’t wait until I can!

 

Better than Cadbury Cream Eggs! (vegan, fair trade, and gluten free) with update for palm free/gmo free recipe

Hi!

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I’ve been wanting to make a vegan chocolate cream egg since…well…every year I’ve been vegan. This year I finally decided to take action.

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I bought an egg shaped mold from a craft store and everything. However, I found a recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Hell Yeah It’s Vegan which does not require a mold (and I think comes out better if you don’t). Please check the blog out beyond this recipe. It’s amazing!

Originally I just made some simple adjustments to the recipe. Instead of using yellow and red food coloring, I made the yellow out of water and powdered turmeric. I also changed the method a bit, instead of using two disks I used one and just free-styled the yellow part of the egg by placing it in the center and wrapping the white part around it and shaping it into an egg shape. It was actually really easy in terms of making candies and other stuff.

The chocolate I used was Equal Exchange Fair Trade chocolate chips which I am really passionate about buying from now on. Not only are they conflict/child labor/slave labor free and on the Food Empowerment Project chocolate list, but they’re also the best tasting chocolate and worked like a dream.

But I was annoyed that I was making these with Earth Balance, which has palm oil in it, and corn syrup, which is often gmo and not organic (genetically modified). So I had to totally revamp the recipe. It works just as well if not better. The updated recipe is below!

Of course, these are also gluten free and also nut free (if you don’t consider coconut a nut!)

Chocolate Creme Eggs–vegan, gluten free, palm oil free, fair trade, organic

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp refined coconut oil (solid) –plus 2 tsp for the chocolate
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3 cups organic/gluten free powdered sugar
  • Ground turmeric and water, as needed
  • 8 oz (or more, just use the full bag) fair trade, vegan chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer, cream the brown rice syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and water together.
  2. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar into this mixture, blending until well combined. If it is hard to mix add a small amount of water, no more than an 2 additional teaspoons.
  3. Place a small amount of the mixture into a small bowl (a third or less of it), and sprinkle the turmeric powder and a small amount of water (you do want this to get a little runny), use a small whisk or spoon to stir it together until it all incorporates and is a bright yellow color. It will be hard to combine at first.
  4. Cover both bowls and place them in the refrigerator for an hour or more. If you are short on time you can place them in the freezer for no more than 30 minutes.
  5. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper.
  6. With a small spoon, place little blobs of the yellow mixture onto the tray. You want to aim for about 15 nickel size pieces.
  7. Then shape the white mixture into 30 flat egg shaped discs and place on the other tray.
  8. Place the white ones in the fridge and the yellow in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Take one white disc, place the yellow blob and put it in the middle, then place another white disc to form a sandwich. Smush together and then shape by rolling in between your hands into an egg shape. Continue on with the rest of them. It’s okay if some of the yellow is oozing out, it gets better looking results that way.
  10. Place again in the freezer for a half hour (or more).
  11. Melt the chocolate with 2 tsp coconut oil in the microwave or a double boiler.
  12. Dip the frozen eggs fully into the chocolate one by one, placing on a cookie sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment paper or wax paper to set. I have found that the best method is to use a spoon to roll the egg in the chocolate and then carefully take out of the chocolate, letting the excess drip off back into the chocolate, and then placing onto the tray. They will not be perfect, you may have some drips that deform the egg shape. Once you let them set you can break those off a little bit.
  13. Place in the refrigerator or freezer to set fully. I like to keep a big batch of them wrapped in foil in the freezer, and when there is a day that I want one, I place it in the fridge for a few hours, let it sit out for a little longer at room temperature, and then dig in! They are so good.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Holidays! (xmas recap)

I’m in the mood to do a show and tell kind of post, with pictures and descriptions of my Christmas…so here it goes:

*Note: I decided to eat gluten this holiday…I need to go back to eating gluten free because I don’t feel great again, but I wanted to see how I felt with it. I’m glad I don’t have celiacs, but I’m definitely pretty sensitive. I’ve missed some of this food so much though.

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My brother illustrated a portrait of two of my cats for my dad’s business. It’s really cute. Cats seemed to be the theme of our Christmas this year.

In fact, I made a bunch of cat sugar cookies.

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Unfortunately, I am a little weak with my decoration skills.

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For Christmas Eve we made my Pizza Strips and this caesar salad.

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My orange cat, Sammy, woke me up very early on Christmas morning so I went downstairs to make some cinnamon buns with coffee icing for everyone.

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Yum! They were a hit with everyone. I actually bought pre-made vegan cinnamon buns and just made the icing myself, because it would have been difficult to make them from scratch in the morning and have them ready on time.

Later, we had Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s Pistachio Guacamole from her Italian cookbook for an appetizer:

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For my dinner I made Sporkfood’s frosted tempeh beet loaf. My mom made Chloe Coscarelli’s creamed spinach for me and twice baked potatoes.

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For dessert we made Chloe Coscarelli’s lava cakes with raspberry sauce, So Delicious coco whip and ice cream.

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And I got quite a few culinary presents in the form of new cookbooks!

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It was quite a delicious event! I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas all had a great holiday!

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Gluten free and Vegan Gingerbread House Info (as promised!)

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So, I promised I would share some more details about how I made this house! This post will come complete with some helpful recipes and tips.

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My mother bought awhile ago gingerbread house molds…she has 2 of them that make up an entire house. Each mold has 2 different sides with a different style of house on each. They have a victorian house and a log cabin. I’m sure you can find a set online like this with some googling. But if you want something easier, I think you could try one of these templates.

Once you’ve selected a template, have a stash of vegan candy at the ready, you can prepare the gingerbread dough.

Here is the recipe for the gluten free and vegan gingerbread house cookie dough:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup vegan white sugar*
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups superfine brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 2/3 cup potato starch (be sure the only ingredient listed is “potato starch” otherwise you might have a product that is actually “potato flour”)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

* if you are interested in making a tastier structure of the house to eat, I suggest you experiment a bit with adding more sugar.

Directions:

Note: you will definitely need a stand mixer for this, as the dough is really tough and needs to be kind of like cement. It’s also necessary to make the royal icing you will need later to assemble and decorate.

  1. In a stand mixer, cream together the shortening, sugar, molasses, and water.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until it becomes a stiff dough.
  3. Chill for at least an hour in the fridge.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Grease your molds or cookie sheets with spray oil.
  6. If using a mold, press the dough into it, trying as best as you can to make the dough even and filling the edges well. If you are using a template, this will require some extra work. You will need to roll the dough out to be about 1/3 inch thick, place the templates on top, and cut around the template. Take care in transferring the dough to the cookie sheet.
  7. Bake in the mold or on the cookie sheet for 25 minutes.
  8. Let sit for 10 minutes, and then carefully transfer to a cooling rack.
  9. It’s good to let it sit out for a day before you assemble so it can be a sturdier house and you don’t have any crumbling gingerbread houses! (believe me, I think tears have been shed by my mom–and maybe us kids– in Christmases of the past where she was putting the house together and wasn’t patient or calm for various reasons…)

Next, when the gingerbread is made and ready, you will need to create a royal icing. Don’t expect this to taste all that good either. It needs to be like glue to keep the house together and the candy stuck to it. That’s what we’re going for here.

Vegan Royal Icing:

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 9 tablespoons aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

  1. Start by placing 5 tablespoons of aquafaba in the mixer.
  2. Slowly add the 4 cups of powdered sugar.
  3. Continue to mix while adding the other 4 tablespoons of aquafaba, a tablespoon at a time.
  4. Add a teaspoon of water (you may want a little less, check to ensure a similar consistency as the picture above).
  5. Mix on high speed for ten minutes.
  6. Place into a ziplock bag with a corner cut off or a pastry bag with an attachment that has a wide sized opening (I used the former, it seemed like a safer bet because this stuff really is cement-like).
  7. Use immediately to assemble the house and then decorate with candy.

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To create the house:

This is the fun part, but you need to be calm and patient (and have a fairly steady hand)!

  1. Make sure you have some kind of clean surface to attach it to. My family has always covered cardboard with tinfoil.
  2. Start by making a line or two of icing on the board the size of the first side of the house you will attach to it. Press the gingerbread house piece into it and hold it in place for at least 15 seconds.
  3. Place icing for the connected wall of the house coming from the corner of the already attached wall and up the sides. Carefully press together and hold for another 15 seconds. You may also want to reinforce the inside corner with some extra icing.
  4. Continue to assemble in a similar manner. Take extra care in attaching the roof as this is where disaster can occur.
  5. Once you’ve completed the house, it should be safe to continue decorating. The icing has about a 30 minute window before it gets too stiff and unusable, so you kind of need to work quickly. If you have kids that you are doing this activity with, I recommend placing a lot of the icing on the roof and having them do that first. Just make sure they are lightly touching it, as it might be a little fragile still. Use the icing  for any other candy pieces that need security, but I recommend that you also use another favorite frosting recipe to decorate the rest if you have young kids, it will be less frustrating for them and more fun/delicious.

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I made a snowman out of Dandies marshmallows (that I used lots of toothpicks to achieve this effect with, including one in the middle). Gluten free vegan pretzels make great fences and stuff. Like I said in the other post about this, coconut flakes are great for making snow, but can get messy. I had bought some vegan gumballs to use too, but ran out of icing for them…there are lots of vegan candies and snacks you can use…I wish I had put more chocolate on mine! 😉 Enjoy!

 

 

Happy Holidays from Banana Curl, Vegan Girl!

First of all, it’s Chanukah right now, so Happy Chanukah for those who celebrate it! Some of you know from past posts that I grew up celebrating both Jewish and Christian holidays, and I really love the traditions my family has around both holidays.

This year I thought I’d share something a little different and funny. One of my favorite Christmas books as a kid was called “Jingle Bells.” One year, I think maybe in 3rd or 4th grade, I decided there needed to be a Chanukah Bugs version of the book. So, I made it myself! I wasn’t great at spelling…so please forgive that aspect…but here are some pictures I took of the pop up book I had created.

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By the way–check out my recipe for latkes from last Chanukah!

And as for Christmas–I’ve been trying to enjoy a childhood sense of magic this year because I have felt I need it with all the horrible stuff going on in the world. One of the biggest projects I took on this year was making a vegan and gluten free gingerbread house!

I’m going to make a separate post about how to create your own in a few days or so, but check out my results for now!

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I managed to find all vegan/gf, gelatin free candy at a dollar store believe it or not! I used gluten free/vegan pretzels, and Dandies marshmallows for a snowman (not pictured, you’ll see them later!).  I wanted to put coconut flakes for snow but it would have made too much of a mess and I had run out of royal icing (made with aquafaba–chickpea brine that is pure magic!) to try to make a fence to keep it in, so I did without that…now I need to find something to do with sweetened flaked coconut! 😉 The gingerbread itself is made with a blend of gluten free flours. Based on my experiments making gluten free cookies and such lately, I knew it’d be perfect for gingerbread houses because it’s so dense. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough sugar in the gingerbread cookie dough to make me actually want to eat more of it…oh well, it’s still a nice decoration!

So Happy Chanukah! And for those interested in more of the gingerbread house, hopefully you will see a post from me soon about how you can recreate it yourself! 🙂