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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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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This is one of my favorite weeknight dinner meals. It is quick, fairly simple and powerfully punched full of flavor. The crispness of the bok choi leaves are lovely in contrast to the soft, melt-in-your-mouth pieces of tofu, jointly creating the perfect bite.

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This hearty soup is extremely easy for a quick dinner. Plus, it re-heats well for lunch or dinner the following day(s). You can make it with little to no spice for the kiddos, or give it some punch for the adults. Either way it is a fun supper that allows everyone to build their own with fun and delicious toppings.

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My first experience with Quinoa was for a dessert "rice" pudding. It was early in my no-more-sugar-days, and I had read it was very much like rice. One brisk winter evening I was craving something sweet and homey, so rice pudding fit the bill.  I did a quick search online and found a quinoa pudding recipe with raisins - perfect.  Well, and hour and a half later I was sourly disappointed that my not-so-homey rice pudding had the distinct flavor of bitter broccoli.  Yuck.  Needless to say, my craving went unsatisfied and a bunch of ingredients made their way down the drain.

Well, I've come a long way since that unfortunate evening. First thing first — RINSE YOUR QUINOA! Yes, rinse all that bitterness away. Second, cook to your hearts desire. Being a bit gun shy, I've mainly stuck to savory recipes — mainly due to my husbands crisp memory of that sweet broccoli-flavored concoction, but I will try a sweet one again one of these days and maybe just not tell him what's in it.

For a lovely dinner entree, this Butternut Squash with Lemon Quinoa is a terrific fall dish, but we eat it year-round.  I love to serve with a side of this Walnut, Onions and Broccolini recipe.

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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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Mar 04 2012

Vegan Scramble

I've never been and egg person per say, as I have always preferred a sweet breakfast. But, every once in a while I get a craving for a nice and savory morning meal. Recently I started drinking smoothies for breakfast pretty much every day, but on the weekends we try and do something more. My six year old daughter usually requests pancakes (she absolutely hates eggs), but I really wanted something non-sweet, so I tried these faux eggs instead.

Made of tofu and seasoned with spices and the veggies I had handy in my crisper, this Vegan Scramble was a hit for both me and my daughter. It took me a few minutes of convincing her, since they "looked like real eggs" to her, but once she took the first bite she cleaned her plate then asked for seconds — a definite first!  Since then, I've made this scramble a couple of times using whatever veggies I have on hand, to scramble it up a bit. 

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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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