Tag Archives: sweet potatoes

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Even being the master of denial that I am, I can’t help but think that, in this case, leftovers are symbolic of a bit more than the excess of Thanksgiving; this post itself is a bit of a leftover, seeing as Thanksgiving was over two weeks ago. The fact is, I’ve been a bad blogger, and I know it. I got crushed under the weight of 700+ India photos and sort of crumpled into a sad little heap – but I’m back! (And that India post is soon to come). I’m so back, that I’m actually making a casserole as I write this, my left hand checking its progress in the oven as my right hand commandeers the keyboard.

My family Thanksgave in Philadelphia this year with my dad’s side of the family. The first Thanksgiving I can remember away from home – I instantly told myself that I’d only be making the vegan main course, some gravy, a vegan dessert, and maybe, just maybe, one side. After all, I was going to be in someone else’s kitchen, without my trusty cookbooks, equipment, and stockpile of somewhat exotic ingredients (okay, I don’t think they’re exotic, but someone who’s not a foodie might…).

Of course, the vegangelical master chef in me reared her overachieving head, and all of a sudden, I was packing seven photocopied recipes – Faux Turkey Breasts, Rosemary Mushroom Gravy, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Pecans, Candied Sweet Potato Discs and Apple Slices, Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes,” Pumpkin Pie, and Apple Crumble – and multiple plastic bags worth of pre-measured and labeled spices, herbs, flour, and sugar into my suitcase. So much for sitting back and contentedly watching the parade.

This was my third Thanksgiving as a vegan and I knew I wanted to make a special main course. Year one, hosting my friend Chelsea and my visiting mom, dad, sister in my tiny Edinburgh University student flat in Scotland, I’d made a peanut-based nut loaf from a box mix because I was having trouble finding away to churn out a feast’s worth of food with little to no counter space and an oven the size of an Easy-Bake. It was good, but, c’mon, it was from a box. Year two, we just did the Tofurky Roast, which was pretty decent; but now, in my third year of veganism, I’m almost too vegan for those things. I try to avoid processed faux meats and pretty much stick to whole foods.

These Faux Turkey Breasts from the Real Food Daily cookbook are what the Southern California restaurant itself serves  for Thanksgiving. After combining shredded tofu and tempeh with sautéed onions, miso paste, mustard, and spices galore,  the mixture is shaped into breast-like patties, brushed with olive oil, and baked in the oven. The whole ingredients make for a delicious texture – almost like “turkey” and stuffing in one! As I said on Twitter at the time, “you know you’re a level-7 vegan when your homemade faux turkey contains three different types of soy, two of which are fermented.”

The Rosemary Mushroom Gravy from Get It Ripe was the perfect light topper for the “turkey,” and it also went pretty darn well with the Mashed Cauliflower I made. I used a recipe (see link), but it was more of a template than anything. My family loved it, and, I’ve become unpardonably obsessed with it. Proof: since Thanksgiving, I’ve made it almost every day and developed my own superior (in my opinion) iteration of it, the recipe for which I plan on sharing in my next post! I apologize in advance for making you “that person” who shows up at the Whole Foods check-out line with 6 heads of cauliflower.

Thanksgiving’s not Thanksgiving without Brussels sprouts. Roasted, they are truly the candy of the vegetable kingdom. But Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Pecans? Outrageous.

The recipe’s from The Vegan Table, with pecans subbed for pistachios; I’m all for being “alternative,” but pistachios at Thanksgiving just doesn’t fly with me. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, people who had Mac ‘n Cheese – vegan or not – at your holiday table. Pardon my language, Auntie Jane, but what the hell is up with that? You have 364 other days to have it.)

For the obligatory sweet potato side, I chose the Candied Sweet Potato Discs and Apple Slices from Vegan Soul Kitchen. We’ve made these before – you can’t really go wrong with layered apples and (pre-roasted) sweet potatoes, drenched in a spiced agave-lemon-orange-apple cider syrup. Plus, can someone please tell me what’s more fun than using a baster? I really have no idea.

The desserts Liv and I made were just mediocre, so I’m pretending they didn’t happen because I only publish the best. :)

Despite our Thanksgiving being a potluck with 25 extended family members and friends, all assigned to bring something, at the end of the day, my contributions turned out to be pretty necessary. My grandma had no idea I was making as much as I did, but if I hadn’t, there literally would not have been enough food for everyone. We hardly had any leftovers!

However, there were some leftovers. And like many before me, I enjoyed them for breakfast the next day even more than the original meal. I like them cold, after a long morning of Black Friday sales (okay, Liv and I just hit one store, but it took a while).

We had a little of everything, including the sweet potatoes my aunt made, whipped with coconut milk and topped with shredded coconut and toasted almonds, and a green bean dish contributed by my uncle.

I’d say it was a pretty successful T-day. Not only did I spend a lovely evening with family who I don’t see anywhere near often enough, but I got 25 people – many of whom know fairly little about veganism – to eat a meal that was at least 50 percent vegan. Making the world less cruel, one sweet tater at a time!

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Cuckoo for Coconut Peanut Butter!

As you all know, peanut butter is kind of my thang. Although straight up PB will always be my favorite, I do have a soft spot for “special” peanut butter–as long as it’s free of weird additives and oils. I thought I’d pretty much explored the world of specialty peanut butter–and what a wonderful world it is!–with Peanut Butter & Co., Justin’s Nut Butters, and Naturally Nutty, but I found out I was wrong when Tropical Traditions’ Coconut Peanut Butter walked into my life.

Tropical Traditions provided me with a jar to sample, and I’m so grateful that they did. This product contains just what it should and nothing else: organic dried coconut and organic roasted valencia peanuts. That’s it.

Those two ingredients are all it takes to produce a butter that’s so sinfully salty-sweet, you’ll think you’re eating frosting.

So after eating half of the jar with a spoon over the course of a couple weeks, I started thinking about what foods it would go best with. Turns out, coconut peanut butter can pretty much be put on anything you’d put regular peanut butter on, with similar or better results. :)

Like sweet potatoes:

As you can see, coconut peanut butter is much runnier than regular peanut butter. It takes on that thin meltiness of coconut butter more than it does the thick spreadableness of peanut butter. When cooler than room temperature, it’s solid.

Okay, so this next one’s slightly more decadent than a sweet potato, but hey–those peanut butter Newman O’s were asking for it!

And finally, the ever-versatile oat bran. In this case, sweet potato oat bran, topped with coconut peanut butter, and–get ready–sweet potato coconut paste! The paste was from the care package that Jessie at Vegan Minded exchanged with my mom. I stole it from her, hehe. Thanks Jessie!

As you can see, Tropical Traditions Coconut Peanut Butter is a fantabulous product; whether you’re a PB lover like myself, or just want to add a unique and healthy product to your diet, you should pick up a jar for yourself!

Cookies for Breakfast

Well, not just cookies (though i don’t have a problem with that either). I’m talking about incorporating cookies into an otherwise balanced breakfast!

I had some Liz Lovely Gluten-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies from my package swap with Lindsay at Cooking for a Vegan Lover, and decided that their best use would be to add a little sweetness to my mornings.

I give you: Sweet Potato Smoothie with Ginger Cookie Crumbles!

I just blended up a frozen banana, sweet potato purée, soy milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, a dollop of maple syrup, and some ice cubes, then crumbled half a cookie on top (these are BIG cookies).

I liked the sweet potato/ginger/molasses combination, so I stuck with the same theme for a bowl of oat bran the next day.

Sweet Potato Oat Bran with Ginger Cookie Crumbles!

What a carb fest. In a good way.

What random toppings to you all use for smoothies, oats, and/or soy yogurt? I still have to try the ice cream-topped oat bran that was floating around the blog world a few months ago…

Holy Yum Yum

It’s about time I give a shout out to one of my new favorite cookbooks, which I finally got a chance to cook from over winter break. The funny thing is, this book is so beautiful and its recipes so inventive, that it became one of my favorites from the moment I bought it, months before I could actually whip up any of its crave-worthy recipes. If it’s not obvious from the title, I’m talking about Vegan Yum Yum (I’m linking to it so you can buy it right now! It’s that good…) by Lauren Ulm, author of the beloved Vegan Yum Yum blog.

As I flipped through the book, I quickly realized that my usual post-it note system for marking “must make” recipes was not going to fly. My post-it notes were running low, and what’s the point of marking every single page anyways? With a beautiful color photo (taken by Lauren herself!) for every single recipe – recipes that are not only mouthwatering, but healthful and easy – can you blame me? Plus, sweet potatoes and chickpeas abound in Yum Yum’s recipes, which pretty much sealed the deal.

My first venture into the book was before I even had the book. Let me explain: the Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta has been on Lauren’s blog for more than a year, and one chilly frigid night in Scotland, I decided it was the only thing that could warm me up, heart and soul. Incredibly simple and “super quick” indeed, this recipe has become a staple for both lazy nights and dinner parties. It’s that darn good.
The first recipe we tried from the book once it was actually released were the Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Cream, a.k.a the cutest appetizers in the world, which my mom assembled for a good friend’s birthday party. If you don’t have the book, the recipe’s here.

With preparing the eggplant, cutting all the veggies-to-be-roasted into uniform circles, and stacking everything up, these are superrr labor intensive (hehe, good thing it wasn’t me doing the labor!), but totally worth it. We had to tweak the eggplant cream a little (I think we added extra cashews, lemon juice, and salt), but once it was tweaked, it was damn good. :) These were a huge hit at the party, so make ’em if you’re looking to impress and have some free time.

This is the Golden Chickpea and Artichoke Salad atop some romaine lettuce. This salad was bursting with fresh, simple flavors, and the crushed toasted almonds gave it a nice crunch. I think it’d be better on its own though, but it was my decision to serve it on romaine, so can’t fault the book there. And, yes, that is an artichoke bowl.

Another recipe that really caught my eye was the Delicata Squash Stuffed with Cherry Apple Almond Couscous. Obviously, a beautiful presentation…

I used this roasted brown rice couscous from Whole Foods, and I really liked its earthiness paired with the sweetness of the apples, cherries, and squash. A drizzle of agave-mustard sauce brings it all together. Since I prepared this meal with my good friends Allison and Vince, it was all the more special!

Okay, so the next two meals may not be quite as beautiful as the former (though they’re still pretty nice looking), but they were hands down two of the best meals I’ve ever made. So just prepare yourself.

I’m serious. Are you preparing?


Italian Rice and Beans. A modest name for a scandalously good dish. This is why having a photo for every recipe in a cookbook is valuable–if I hadn’t seen the wonderful burst of color and texture in Lauren’s photo, I may have skipped this recipe!

It’s just brown rice, spinach, Great Northern beans, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemon zest with a few seasonings, but, holy yum, is this good. Let’s just say I fully attribute my half marathon performance the next morning to this carbo-loaded dish’s excellence. I know everyone hates this expression (and I do too!), but this was a party in your mouth.

Aren’t the colors gorgeous? Nature is an artist.

Another colorful and unbelievably delicious recipe in Vegan Yum Yum is the Creamy Sweet Potato Bake.

Sweet potatoes, kale, and pasta (I used TJ’s brown rice fusilli), drenched in a tangy, cashew-based alfredo sauce, topped with bread crumbs (I used brown rice ones–noticing a trend here?), and baked until crispy on the outside. Comfort food at its finest.

I would make this dish again, and again, and again. And maybe again.

Sweet Potato Lentil Chili

What better way to ring in the new year than a giant pot of chili? It may seem random, but if you think about it, chili is hearty, warming, and perfect for sharing communally with all your friends and family.

That was my thinking when I made a triple recipe of Dreena’s Sweet Potato Lentil Chili from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan last Friday for our family’s all-day New Year’s open house.

This recipe’s been on my “to-make” list for ages, so I was glad that when I could finally make it, I could make it for 100 people!

Naturally, we have an insane amount of leftovers (even when I thought I’d finished them, my mom informed me that there’s more in the freezer…). As you can see, I’ve been enjoying them with TJ’s tortilla chips. This chili is chunky and perfect for dipping.

BAM.

Baked sweet potato + a mother load of coconut butter + cinnamon + sea salt =
Why, yes please.

I have recently discovered coconut butter, which, as you can see, is NOT just solidified coconut oil. Oh, no. Coconut butter is what you get when you blend coconut oil and flesh together. And let me just tell you, it’s absolutely dreamy–smooth, rich, and naturally sweet, it is definitely second only to peanut butter in the nut/seed butter family. Plus, I feel like coconut butter and sweet potatoes were created only to be eaten with one another.

The brand I bought is Artisana, and it’s raw, organic, 100% coconut! Yes, it’s a little expensive, but I never have any qualms about shelling out money for high-quality, delicious foods that fuel my body! Plus, the great thing about coconut butter is that you get all the health benefits of coconut oil, plus fiber (5 g/serving!) and essential amino acids. If you haven’t tried coconut butter, please don’t wait any longer. Artisana also makes a slightly sweetened chocolate coconut butter, Cacao Bliss, which I love, but I think the unadulterated one might be my favorite.

Dorm Room Dinners: Indian Feast

This is the first of a series of posts I’ll call “Dorm Room Dinners,” even though sometimes, it might be lunch. The point being to give you a look–or taste!–at how easy and delicious it is to be vegan, even on a dining hall meal plan in college. Sure, the quality’s not comparable to what you could produce living at home with your own kitchen (plus, I feel like, a year and a half into being vegan, my cooking skills have gotten to the point where I usually prefer my own handiwork to the meals I get–and pay more for–when I eat out anyways). Still, with a little creativity, dining hall food can be quite enjoyable.

Here’s a recent lunch from Pomona’s dining hall, Frary (it’s our “Harry Potter” dining hall…see for yourself!)

I got some Indian-spiced mixed vegetables (cauliflower, celery, carrots, potatoes, green beans, and onions) and stewed lentils from the regular buffet line, and steamed asparagus from the “Farm to Fork” vegetarian/vegan section. I brought them back to my dorm room in my reusable plastic take-out box, and rounded out the meal with half a microwave-nuked sweet potato (I know, I know, but I don’t have an oven!), drizzled with coconut oil, cinnamon, and sea salt.

Life could be worse.