Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bacon Flavored Coconut - Vegan alternative

 I don't miss meat. I don't even miss cheese, which was a surprise. I do, however, miss BLTs. Especially in the summer with a big piece of juicy watermelon and an ear of locally grown corn. Yum. I have been trying out some bacon alternatives to see if there is something that will make for a great sandwich. Last year I tried a marinaded tempeh which I thought was pretty good. My husband choked it down with a fake smile, gritted teeth,  and no complaints, but it was clearly not a favorite of his. Last week I thought maybe roasted mushrooms in a marinade would work well. However, between the dog and two small boys I got distracted and they burned. Laughably, this probably made them taste quite similar to the turkey bacon we used to eat because I inevitable burned that each time as well. So... last night I tried coconut flakes. There are some recipes out there using coconut flakes to mimic bacon in recipes. I liked the combination of seasonings I had used for the mushrooms so I based mine on that. They turned out great. Obviously, the goal is not a bacon replica. It is to find a substitute that has some similar characteristics (touch of hickory, salty, and a little crunch). They worked well on the sandwich, with the exception of not staying put as well as a longer piece of bacon and I ate them on a salad the next day for lunch and they were even better. I am seeing them turning up in soups and salads in the future. Yum. 


Coconut "Bacon"


  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 4 tablespoon Braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
  • 4 cups large flaked coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3.  Pour in flaked coconut.
  4. Stir or toss to coat the coconut in the liquid mixture. 
  5. Once the coconut is evenly coated, pour it onto a parchment lined baking sheet 
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes so it cooks evenly. It WILL burn if you’re not careful, so make sure to stir!
  7. For storage, place in glass storage container with lid and refrigerate.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Bars

These Oatmeal Raisin Bars turned out so well that they are definitely worth sharing.  A great treat for a potluck, an after school snack, or a picnic. Yum. I discovered, as well, that people don't even know they are vegan. Now, that is the ultimate compliment on a baked good.

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars
Yields 12 servings

for the bars
 1 1/2 cups oats
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder + 2 teaspoons (divided)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted Earth Balance
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon sunflower sunflower seed oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup raisins

for the glaze
confectioners sugar
Vanilla Almond Milk
Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance or Coconut Oil


For the bars:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).  Line an 8 inch X 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper so that it overlaps the sides and set aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl stir together the oats, flour, baking soda, 1/8 teaspoon baking powder and salt.
3. In a small bowl mix the  2 Tablespoons water, 1 Tablespoon sunflower sunflower seed oil, and 2 teaspoons of baking powder and let sit.
4. In a large mixing bowl (or standing mixer) cream the Earth Balance and 1/4 cup coconut oil for about 3 minutes on medium speed.  Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about another 3 minutes.
5. Add the sunflower seed oil mixture and vanilla and beat, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure it is completely combined.
6. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until combined.  Stir in the raisins.
7. Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are brown and the middle is light  brown and set.  A toothpick will not come out clean from these bars as they will still be a bit moist in the middle.
8. Let cool completely. (This was the hardest part.)

For the glaze: 
1. Place the Earth Balance (or coconut oil) and about 1 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar in a bowl.  Using a hand mixer, mix a bit and then pour in almond milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired drizzling consistency is reached. You may need to add a bit more confectioners sugar, it's ok to play with the proportions.
2. Remove the bars from the pan to a cutting board.  Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the top and let sit until glaze has crusted over.
3.  Cut into bars and serve.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Green Lentil Borscht

We had a fantastic meal tonight. The flavors were perfect. I started with a recipe but then ventured outside of it as I usually do. The result was magnificent. And very red. Very, very red. In fact, Patrick said that this would be an excellent plant based meal to take to a Husker tail-gate. It was that red. :)

This recipe is oil free, sugar free, dairy free, nut free, gluten free, soy free, and totally plant based. Whoo hoo! That makes it a "safe" option for vegans, vegetarians, MSPI mommas and people who are gluten intolerant. Perfect.

Green Lentil Borscht
made 8 1/2 servings (1 cup)

Vegetable broth
1 medium onion (minced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
3 medium beets (peeled and chopped)
5 small red potatoes (cleaned and chopped with skin on)
15-20 baby carrots (cleaned and chopped)
2-3 vegetable bullion cubes
3 bay leaves
2 cups cooked lentils
2 tsp dried dill
1 can diced tomato 
1 1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the vegetable broth in a large soup kettle or sauce pan over medium high heat.
2. Saute the onion until translucent.
3. Add the garlic and saute for one minute more.
4. Add the potato, carrots, and beets, 6 cups of water, bay leaves and bullion. Stir to combine.
5. Cook until the beets are tender, about 25-30 minutes, stirring occassionally.
6. Once the beets are tender, add lentils, tomatoes, and dill and cook 10-15 minutes more or until heated through.
7. Just before serving add the apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.
8. Adjust the herbs to taste and remove the bay leaves.
9. Serve topped with a nut based cream sauce.

NOTE: You could certainly use uncooked lentils in this recipe as well. Add them in at step 4 with the root vegetables. They should take about the same time to cook as the beets. I used precooked lentils because I typically cook a large quantity of lentils or black beans at one time and freeze them in portions so I have them ready to go into recipes. Lentils have a 1:2 1/2 or 3 cup ratio so use approximately 1 cup dry lentils for similar proportions above.

 My 3 year old insisted that his truck needed to be part of the photo shoot. I think it is a nice touch, don't you?

Dairy free "sour cream"

This nut based "cream" sauce mimics sour cream quite well. I serve it with tacos, soups, as the base for dips, in wraps and burritos and anywhere else sour cream is called for. The trick is to plan ahead in order to allow time to soak the cashews as well as to use a good blender to get the creamy consistency. Neglecting either of these will still give you a good tasting condiment but will most likely result in a different texture.

Dairy Free "Sour Cream"

1 cup cashews (presoaked for at least 4 hours)
Juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt or to taste
1/4 cup water

1. Process cashews, lemon juice and salt until well combined.
2. Add water little by little and process until desired consistency.
3. Continue to blend until lite and fluffy.