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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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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A few years ago my husband, daughter and I traveled to Dallas, Texas for a business trip. It was our first time to the lone star state, but since it was in the middle of winter in Washington, we were happy to get out of town and head south where it was warm.  Even though it was January and all the local Texans thought it was freezing, we were happily sauntering around town in our short-sleeves and sandals — constantly getting odd looks and people stopping to ask us if we were chilled to the bone.

During a free evening, we walked from our hotel to explore the surrounding area and to hunt for dinner. Although it was a much warmer walk than had we been at home, ankle deep in snow, it was still January after dark and we became a bit chilled.  When we finally found a good looking restaurant, we were happy to sit, enjoy some hot tea and enjoy the warm and hopping surroundings, while the hostess offered us a complimentary appetizer to commemorate our first visit. They served us a lovely, creamy hummus dish that had a slight kick that helped liven our bones. It was a perfect starter to a wonderful meal.

After that trip, I kept craving that wonderfully velvety white bean dish and experimented to re-create it. No matter what time of year it is, whenever I make this it takes us all back to that brisk but fun evening. I hope you enjoy!

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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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I am addicted to broccolini. I think that it was one of my least favorite foods growing up; it had to be drenched in thick cheese sauce just to force it down. Well, now that I'm an adult, i don't have to eat over-boiled, mushy broccoli. I can, instead, opt for blanched, al dente broccolini with a hot walnut and onion saute drizzled over the top. No offense to my Mom, who was a great cook. But, what she liked in her broccoli is NOT what I like. Maybe if she had discovered this lovely dish I would have eaten it without complaint as a child. 

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This Purple Green Smoothie is currently my morning go-to drink.  I have found that I happily drink my greens in the morning when they are surrounded by beautiful juicy berries, then I can save the real green drinks for later in the day. I have a lovely blueberry farm up the road from my house where I can get blueberries fairly easy. They have a you-pick option in the summer, or you can get frozen for a great buy year round.  Adding blueberries makes the smoothie a tad sweeter than if I only used boysenberries.  Yummm!

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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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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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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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