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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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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Butternut Squash and Almond Bisquit

When I decided to go gluten free, I thought I would REALLY miss my bread. I have found, though, that by incorporating a few different things into my meals — such as gluten free biscuits or pasta — I don't miss it nearly as much as I thought I would.  These biscuits can be used for savory or sweet dishes, but my favorite use is pairing with my Mushroom Thyme Gravy.

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Mushroom Gravy over Butternut Squash Bisquit

Mushrooms are probably my favorite food. Well, to be completely honest I have lots of favorite foods — but, if you add mushrooms to any thing, it makes them even better! 

While making this Mushroom Thyme Gravy to pair with Butternut Squash Almond Biscuits, I didn't realize I was creating something so voluptuous. This wasn't an ordinary dinner at home, but an elevated, fancy dinner that was worthy of a evening out at a fine dining restaurant wearing a dress and pearls. Although there wasn't much "date" talk going on at the table — only the repeating "yumms" "oooohs" and "aaaahs" bouncing back and forth across the table after each bite — it felt like an indulgent date night that my husband and I get so rarely these days with a 6-year-old companion. Our 13th wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks and I was pondering ideas.  I think this meal is a definite must for the celebration. It may not be the traditional Lace, or modern Textile gifts that they say are ideal gifts for the 13th year — but it's definitely a delightful way to show my husband how much I adore him.

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Raw Caesar Salad Dressing

I learned, rather late in my life, how great a Caesar salad is. Not that I'm old, really, but I was in my 30's when I was finally brave enough to try it. You see, sometime when I was young I heard that the dressing was made of raw eggs. Ew! And in my ignorance, never wanted to try it. To me, 30+ seems sort of late considering I had eaten thousands of salads and never once tried Caesar.  Then a few years ago, while dining with one of my dearest friends, we decided to split lunch as we often did. Her choice was a Caesar salad to go with our soup or sandwich.  Having become somewhat of a foodie a few years before, I decided that if my friend loved it, so would I.  Besides, our tastes in food are so similar, it seemed silly to me to NOT try it.  So try it, I did, and it was love at first bite — pardon the quip.

In my new sugar free gluten free vegan trek, I absolutely needed to find a Caesar substitute.  I knew I had to cut out the Parmesan cheese and crunchy croutons (oh man!), but I thought that if a dressing was good in flavor, I could handle it, and fill my Caesar void. I've tried both sweet and savory tasting dressings, and I like both.  This recipe is on the sweet side — and I needed to ad back in some of my "crunch" by adding carrots, cucumbers and radishes, but it was very tasty.  One of these days, I'll come up with a less-sweet version to post here.

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Vegan Lentil Chili

In my journey to become healthy, I pretty much forced my family into going Vegan with me. With equal parts of indifference and compassion I tried to create a dish that would satisfy my determination to become vegan, but would also fulfill my families' desire for "regular" food. In this mind-set, a Vegan Lentil Chili was cooked up.

I had purchased a bag of Tru Roots Sprouted Bean Trio and was dying to try the mix of lentils, adzuki and mung beans in a soup. And, since it was a particularly chilly this early spring day, I thought a nice and hearty chili was the answer. This vegan chili was a perfect warm-up, and completely filling — for the entire family.  I served it with sliced lime, diced onions and a side salad. Everyone needs an easy go-to recipe for cool days, especially in the snowy brisk winters of central Washington. This vegan chili could just be it.  It was fast, easy and best of all, delicious!

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