Sugar Free Vegan

ABOUT ME:  I have been many things in this life. Among the highlights are: Mother, Daughter, Wife, Sister, Friend, Lover, Soul Mate, Graphic Designer, Artist, Animal Lover, Movie Buff, Bibliophile, Traveler, Homebody, Collector, and Food Aficionado. In my journey to become me, I have experienced a great deal of life lessons. I HAVE: lived, laughed, loved, lost, learned, lied, told the truth, danced and sang out loud (when no one was looking), traveled, been recluse, acted outgoing, been shy, become a wife, known hatred and resentment, been scared,  been divorced, been careless and selfish, found myself, existed, shown selflessness and compassion, been content, found my soul mate, learned true love, lived my life, mourned, found and kept true friends (let the others go bye bye), felt beautiful, felt truly and self-consciously fat, doubted and believed in myself, learned to be content again, felt proud of myself, been ambitious and lazy, and become a mother of the daughter I've dreamed of since I was young. I'm always on the look out for new life lessons, in hopes that I can take them on gracefully.

Throughout my life, food has been a constant companion — whether delicious and memorable, or bland and forgetful. The Sugar Free Vegan developed from a passion for good cuisine, a desire to be healthy and the necessity to cut out sugar. While I was at it, I thought, "why not cut out all animal products and gluten?" Follow my journey to great-tasting Sugar Free Gluten Free Vegan food. Cheers!

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In our home we are mostly vegan... I am vegan, but my husband labels himself a "Cheagan" which he coined as a "cheating vegan," since when we're out on the town he will usually (ok, always) order meat. Although it is usually easy for me to find or alter a restaurant dish to be vegan for myself, entertaining guests at home sometimes causes a little anxiety — as most of our friends and family are complete carnivores.

While for the most part we always try to follow a healthy and natural diet, in the same spirit as ALOHA — during the holidays, especially, it can be a difficult to find a recipe to please multiple meat-eating guests. More often than not, guests don't understand what being vegan really means and think that all they are going to be served is lettuce, on a bed of lettuce, with a side of lettuce.

The trick to making carnivorous guests feel more comfortable coming over for dinner, is to cook vegetables in such a way so that it seems like they are eating meat — and try not to mention "veggies" at all.  For instance, say you're serving Osso Buco — not the more descriptive Carrot and Mushroom Osso Buco. To the non-vegan, Osso Buco seems exotic, delectable and satisfying — while Carrots and Mushrooms sounds nothing at all like turkey dinner!

After I created this meatless version of the classic Italian dish, Osso Buco — roasted pearl onions, cremini mushrooms and rainbow carrots seasoned and stewed in wine — it has become one of our family’s favorite go-to dishes for both holiday gatherings and dinner parties.  It is not only simple to make, it is also so very flavorful and elegant. I guarantee that you will love it — and your carnivores will never miss the lack of meat.

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There is nothing worse than craving dessert and not having anything sugar-free around — especially if your family eats sugar. While my preferred dessert is a quick mix of my Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice cream, my husband and daughter prefer cookies, cake or brownies. To satisfy their cravings, but still serve a sugar free dessert, I make this sugar free chocolate cake, which also happens to be vegan. The nice thing for them, is because of its ooey-gooey dense-ness, it is sort of a cross between chocolate cake and chocolate brownies. One things for certain though... This rich gluten free chocolate cake will satisfy your dessert cravings in a heartbeat.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

One of my biggest vices is ice cream. While some consider themselves 'cookie people' or 'cake people,' I have undoubtedly constantly called myself an 'ice cream person.' I have my favorite flavors, but really never found an ice cream I didn't like (well except maybe chocolate chip mint which I think is the strangest combo ever). Imagine how immensely hard it was to give up ice cream as first I went sugar-free, then continued on to becoming a vegan. There are some fairly great coconut ice creams out there, sweetened with agave, but after a while I just got tired of the underlying coconut flavor. With this, I set out to create my own ice cream to help with my sweet cravings... My chocolate peanut butter ice cream was born, with all the ingredient and proportion details scribbled down on a hot pink sticky note.

A few weeks ago, one of my Facebook followers, Daisy, posted in a late night desperate plea "Can anyone please give me a sugar free ice cream recipe. Preferably coconut based? Am dying for an after dinner treat! Thanks."  When I received the message I was like — NO PROBLEM — and went to grab my recipe for her, only to find my hot pink sticky note had disappeared! Not only did I feel guilty for not being able to help this despairing woman in her time of need (we've all been there!), I felt a bit panicky myself. How was I going to get my own ice cream fix when the time came? I ended up scouring through all my recipe pages, one-by-one, and checking the drawers I keep them in again and again to no avail. Then, yesterday morning at the breakfast table, I was whining to my husband about not being able to find my precious ice cream recipe, and walked over to the buffet to go through my drawers once again. Suddenly, from over at the table, my husband said "you mean that sticky note?" while pointing directly at where I was looking. Behold! He was at just the right angle to see that the sticky note had made its way to the rear, sticking vertically to the back of the drawer. I'm sure you can envision how exited I was! No offense to my wonderful Facebook follower, but at this point I was just so relieved to have my reliable ice cream recipe back for MYSELF, that I was giddy the rest of the day. I stuck the note directly to my computer and here I am, typing away so it won't get lost again.

This recipe uses an Almond Milk base, but I'm sure it would still work wonderfully with coconut milk. One of these days I'm going to throw in some vegan chocolate chips to give it crunch. I hope you find this delicious, and most of all a great way to solve those sweet cravings.

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I've never been a big savory breakfast eater. Savory items were reserved for afternoon and evening eating, or the very occasional brunch. In fact, for most of my life, sweets were the only thing eaten before 11:00 am. Cold cereal, toast & jam, oatmeal, pancakes, french toast..... As you can imagine, going sugar free and gluten free would be really hard to do for someone like me. I made the big transition by having smoothies just about every morning. They were sweet but also full of nutrient rich veggies. After a while, savory things started to sound good before noon — like one of my scrambles. BUT — every once in a while I really have a hankering for something sweet (that you can't drink through a straw) — like pancakes! 

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