Feeding Vegan Children: A Plant-Powered Series

Most of you know that I don’t post many personal details about our children on my blog.  I’ve discussed it here.  I occasionally share photos (as with today’s post) that show them as part of our family, but without identifying their faces and features.  For the most part, I like to keep them anonymous so that they have their own life journeys apart from my blogging as an author.

Still, I AM a vegan mom of three strapping vegan girls!  And, I realize that this is a unique perspective as a vegan author and blogger, and that I have useful information and experiences to share.  I receive e-mails and comments daily about vegan parenting.  So I know you are searching for more information and insight – either as vegans moving into parenthood… or parents moving into veganhood!

Last week I was struck with the idea to do a series on feeding vegan children.  I should mention that I do share many family-friendly tips in my cookbooks, especially in Let Them Eat Vegan.  There is an entire section in the back of the book called “Powering the Vegan Family” and “The Plant-Powered Lunchbox”.  Plus, I sprinkle advice and tips all through the recipes.  But, after a brief discussion on facebook (as well as numerous e-mails these past few weeks), I decided it was time to consider a “Feeding Your Plant-Powered Children” series – here, on my blog.

If I start this series, I need information from YOU.  I need to know… what pieces of the puzzle you are missing, what stresses you, what is difficult, what is too time-consuming?  I’d like to have a “Feeding Vegan Kids Wish List” of sorts.  Tell me where you need help!  Is it recipes?  Day to day tips?  Meal planning and preparation ideas?  Social situation advice?  Help with ingredient groups (ex: nuts or beans)?  Lunch strategies?  Snack ideas?

Tell me – What information would YOU like to tap into from this vegan mom of three?

My intuition tells me I am on track with this idea.  I will run with this series if the response here is strong.  I am off to Summerfest this week, and will work on ideas once I return.  So, please comment if this is something you’d like.  And, equally important – please share this idea to recruit more feedback.  The buttons are above to share to pinterest, fb, etc, so get the word out – so I can get the word in!

Pecan Date Nibblers (with “Dreena & Daughters” video!)

Hello my plant-powered buddies!  You get a “2 for 1″ special today.  First, my recipe for Pecan Date Nibblers from LTEV (which are oil-free, sugar-free, and have a gluten-free option), AND you get to see this recipe in the making.

So, today instead of typing – I’ll let you watch me talking!

 

Pecan Date Nibblers
oil-free, refined sugar-free, gluten-free option

I’d been hankering for a baked cookie using dates as the primary sweetener; looking for a good pairing, I used pecans — perfect with their natural butteriness. The first batch was a winner, and these healthy, tasty little nibblers needed repeating!

1 cup whole pecans
1 cup pitted dates
1 tbsp nut butter of choice (or can substitute 1 tbsp organic extra-virgin coconut oil if you prefer)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
½ cup + 1 tbsp light or sifted spelt flour (see note for gf option)
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp (scant) sea salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon or orange zest (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a food processor, first pulse the pecans until just crumbly. Then add the dates, nut butter, vanilla, and maple syrup. Pulse again until the dates are broken up into smaller pieces (but not fully processed, leave some chunkier pieces). In a bowl, sift in the flour and baking powder, and then stir in the salt, cinnamon, and zest. Add the dry mixture to the processor and pulse until the mixture starts to come to- gether. (It does not need to be fully formed into a dough, but should hold together when pressed or squeezed into a ball in your hand.) Once at this stage, stop processing. Place spoonfuls of the dough (about a couple teaspoons to 1 tbsp in size) on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes.  Remove from the oven, let cool on the pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Makes 12 – 14 nibblers (please note: LTEV recipe indicates 16-20 as a yield, this should be 12-15).

Allergy-Free or Bust! For a gluten-free version, replace the spelt flour with 1⁄3 cup of rice flour, 11⁄2 tablespoons of tapioca starch flour, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of xanthan gum. That easy!

Extra-Extra!: Try adding some cranberries, non-dairy chocolate chips, or rolled oats (about 2-3 tbsp of either).

Recipage link here.

Enjoy, and I’m returning with a very special idea that will require YOUR feedback.  Please subscribe to my posts to stay in the loop!  And, check out Ricki Heller’s Wellness Weekend while you’re waiting!

Manly-Man Veggie Burgers for Father’s Day and “hegans”

Post preamble: My father passed away when I was young (I talked about it in this post), so Father’s Day is very meaningful for me.  My children are blessed to have a father that is most loving and selflessly devoted – and I am equally blessed to have him as my husband.  So, celebrate the good dads in your lives, give them a hug and a good meal.

A couple of years ago hubby and I visited a local raw restaurant for our anniversary.  Before leaving the house, I cooked some oven-roasted potatoes and veggie dogs for our babysitter to give the girls.  Once at dinner, we realized this restaurant epitomized how vegan food is perceived: light, airy, “crunchy-granola”, hippity-dippity.  The meals had decent flavor – but there wasn’t much to be eaten!  The portions were small, and because it was primarily raw courses, the burgers had lettuce leaves to sandwich the patties, and the pizza crusts were dehydrated crackers of sort with a scattering of toppings.  I actually enjoy these kinds of meals, because my digestive system does better with moderate portions rather than larger, heavier meals.  [I’m the classic Ayurvedic “vata“. My husband, Paul, on the other hand, is a pitta/kapha blend, and his digestive fire burns strong at lunch and dinner.  While I don’t subscribe to all of the dietary tenets of Ayurveda, elements of this ancient form of alternative medicine are fascinating and insightful.]  But these portions were small (even for me).  After we ate this raw meal snack, we returned headed home and Paul dug into the kids’ potatoes!  *sigh*

So, I “get” those men in your life that want hearty meals.  My husband is not the sprouts-‘n-wild greens, wheat-grass-shooting type.  He’ll eat salads and veg, but they had better be next to – or part of – some kind of substantial meal!  So, for Father’s Day I always make one of his favorite manly-man vegan meals.  And, “veggie burger” night is in his top ten recipe ranking.  I rotate the variety of burger, and always serve with some kind of baked spud – either sweet potato fries, chunky yukon gold  taters, red potato “chippers”… if it’s a spud, it wins!

In Let Them Eat Vegan there is a whole chapter on veggie burgers.  I wanted to show people that homemade burgers are far better than storebought, and hearty and delicious enough to satisfy any manly appetite (and can hold their own on any burger bun)!  These Nutty Veggie Burgers are one of our favorites.  They are dense and toothsome, and usually one larger burger (or two smaller) is more than satiating.  So, for the special dad or “hegan” in your life, why not make these burgers for Father’s Day?

Nutty Veggie Burgers, photo by Hannah Kaminsky

Nutty Veggie Burgers (gluten-free option, soy-free option, oil-free)

I came up with these burgers after realizing how fussy children can be with veggie burgers. Many recipes (mine included) are too savory for them, or have onions and other veggies that they feel the need to pick out. Also, sometimes the patties are too delicate for kids eating them on a hamburger bun. I got to work and made this recipe, which is very nutritious and delicious without being too heavy in herbs or spices. Perfect for kids and adults, and, yes, you can serve it with confidence on a burger bun!  And, if you have LTEV, be sure to try the “Almonnaise” and “Sunshine Fries with Rosemary and Coarse Sea Salt” to go with them!

1 1/2 cups raw almonds

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup raw pecans (or more walnuts)

1 small clove garlic, cut in quarters

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp ketchup (can substitute tomato paste)

2 tbsp nutritional yeast (add it! Even my nooch-averse hubby doesn’t know it’s in there!)

1 tbsp tamari (substitute coconut aminos for soy-free version)

1/4 tsp poultry seasoning or 1/8 tsp each of dried thyme and ground sage

1/2 cup finely grated carrot, packed

1/2 cup finely grated zucchini, packed

1/2 – 1 cup rolled oats (use certified gluten-free for gf option)

wipe of oil (for pan-frying, optional – can pan-fry dry or bake, see notes)

In a food processor, combine the almonds, walnuts, pecans, garlic, and salt. Puree until the nuts are finely ground. Then add the ketchup, nutritional yeast, tamari, poultry seasoning or sage/thyme, carrot, and zucchini, and pulse until the mixture becomes dense and is starting to hold together. Pulse in the oats. Remove the blade and shape the mixture into patties. To cook, wipe a nonstick skillet with a smidgen of oil (or omit) over medium heat (see note for oven-baking). Cook the patties for 5 to 7 minutes on the first side, and then another 3 to 5 minutes on second side until golden brown, working in batches, if necessary. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, and fixings of choice. Makes 5-6 larger patties, or 9-10 ‘sliders’. (RECIpage link to print or share).

If This Apron Could Talk: If you’d like to make this into a loaf, it works pretty well (will be slightly more crumbly than the patties). Press into a lightly oiled and lined (with a strip of parchment paper, for easy removal) loaf pan. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 minutes, uncovering for the last 5 to 10 minutes, just to lightly brown the top. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan, and then use the parchment to lift the loaf out of the pan to slice.

Ingredients 411: Using 1⁄2 cup of oats will firm the patties up nicely enough, and you can use up to 1 full cup of oats for even firmer patties.

Oven-baking:  If you use a non-stick skillet, you can pan-fry these without any oil and get a nice golden sear on each side.  If you don’t have a non-stick pan, you can oven-bake.  To do so, place the patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then flip sides, and bake for another 10 minutes.

Other burger suggestions:  Hubby also really loves the Mediterranean Bean Burgers and Mushroom Pecan Burgers Take II from LTEV – definitely try them!  And, for dessert, what about some brownies or cookies? – Or, hit the “Dreena Dazs” chapter in LTEV! 😀

p.s. This might be my last post for a couple of weeks.  I am speaking at Vegetarian Summerfest this year, and have a ton to sort before I leave, so ‘momputer’ needs to reboot!  Check out some other great recipe finds on Ricki Heller’s Weekend Wellness!

What are you making for Father’s Day?  Do you have any special Father’s Day memories to share?  I’d love to hear them!

Short and Sweet: Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping

 

Who am I kidding?  There’s nothing short about that recipe name!  But it IS sweet!  And this post will be short. Together: short and sweet!

Short post today because I’ve been up to my plant-powered eyeballs all week: prepping food samples for my book launch at Chapters tomorrow, preparing for in-laws visiting, and planning for when I take off to Summerfest.  Add that to daily life as a mom-of-three and the word “busy” just scratches the surface.

So, enough jibba-jabba.  Today you’re getting the recipe for my Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping (from LTEV).  Despite the name, there is NO vegan cream cheese in them (remember, I don’t use these vegan subs in LTEV).  These brownies are being tweeted left, right and centre lately, so here they are!

Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping wheat-free, soy-free RECIpage link here.

No processed vegan cream cheese to be found in these deep, rich, fudgy brownies. Cashews stand in for a cream cheese–like layer, which takes these brownies to, “OMG these are freaking good!” ’Nuff said—go make them.

Creamed Cheese Layer:

1 cup soaked cashews

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp water

1 tbsp  pure maple syrup

2 tbsp vanilla non-dairy yogurt (if using coconut yogurt instead of soy, add another 1 tsp lemon juice)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp (rounded) sea salt

Brownie Layer:

1 cup + 2 tbsp sifted (or light) spelt flour

¾ cup unrefined sugar

½ tsp sea salt

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tbsp arrowroot powder

3 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ cup + 1 tbsp plain or vanilla non-dairy milk

3½ tbsp neutral-flavored oil

Topping:

1/3 – ½ cup chocolate chunks (use a good quality dark chocolate bar, and break/ cut into small chunks)

Few pinches coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper. Prepare cream cheese layer: Puree all those ingredients with an immersion or high-speed blender until very, very smooth (a mini food processor can also be used, but it usually doesn’t produce as smooth a texture as does an immersion blender). Process for several minutes, if necessary, until very smoothed out. Prepare the brownie layer: In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, and sift in the cocoa and baking powder. In a small bowl, first combine the arrowroot with the maple syrup, stirring until smooth, then add the vanilla, milk, and oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry. Stir until evenly mixed and thick. Transfer about two-thirds of the mixture to the prepared pan. Use a square of parchment to help the press mixture into the pan evenly and spread it out. Spread the cream cheese layer over the top. Then, as best as you can, spread the remaining brownie batter over the cheese layer. You can take pieces and lightly spread first with your fingers and place in patches over the cream cheese layer—and it doesn’t have to fully cover; there can be spaces—most will fill in and come together while baking.  Add the topping: Place the chocolate chunks on top, and then sprinkle with the salt. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan, running a spatula around the outer edge to loosen. (The brownies will appear not fully cooked, but do not cook longer—I repeat, do not cook longer! Instead, let cool and they will become fudgy!) Once cooled, score the brownies with a sharp knife to ease cutting the chocolate before it completely hardens. Then refrigerate brownies to cool more, cut into squares and dig in!  Makes 16-20 brownies.

If This Apron Could Talk: Trust the baking process! The amount of batter used for the base—and then topping— looks like it cannot possibly fill out to form a beautiful brownie. Lucky for us, the oven creates some magic in about half an hour!

Enjoy your weekend, and enjoy the brownies.  Tweet ’em, stumble ’em, pin ’em… just be sure to BAKE ’em!  :)(and for those of you asking, here is how you can subscribe to my posts!)

Ch-Ch Chocolate Coconut Ch-Ch-Chia Pudding!

 

I know.  The “ch-ch-ch-CHIA” thing has gotten old.  But, it’s so hard to resist using it!  So I use it here – just the once. :)

If you aren’t familiar with chia seeds, they are itty bitty seeds that pack a nutritional punch!  Reported to have the richest and most stable source of omega 3’s, chia contains more of these essential fatty acids than flax seed.  And, unlike flax seed, you do NOT need to grind them to absorb their nutritional perks.  They are also high in protein, containing ALL essential amino acids, are rich in vitamin A, C, folate, calcium and iron, are high in antioxidants, and are an excellent source of fibre.  All that in these tiny seeds!  Mama nature, you rule!

Whole White Chia Seeds

The flavor of chia is fairly neutral, with just a mild nuttiness.  The texture is more noticeable than the taste.  The whole seeds are crunchy but soften (slightly) and plump if soaked in liquid.  The ground seed is much like flax meal in that is absorbs liquid, and becomes gelatinous. Unlike flax meal, it doesn’t have that bitter aftertaste.  Chia seeds are widely available in stores now, in both white and black colors.  I prefer the white seeds most often for culinary use, because they can more easily be camouflaged in cooking and baking.  But, black and white seeds can often be interchanged.

I use them daily in our green smoothies, and also often add ground and whole seeds to recipes like muffins, quick breads, pancakes, and even savory recipes like veggie burgers and loaves.  They also give a slick nutritional bump to oatmeal, non-dairy yogurts, and whole-grain cereals.

In this yummalicious pudding (Dreena vocab), you can use either black or white chia seeds.  And, the pudding is sweetened very simply and purely with dates, though I also give you the option to use coconut sugar and/or pure maple syrup if you prefer.  My tests for this recipe began with those sweeteners, but when I swapped in pitted dates, I fell in love with the new texture and flavor.  Plus, I add just a touch of shredded unsweetened coconut for texture, and also a few miniature chocolate chips (a little goes a long way). :)

And, this recipe delivers “instant” pudding.  Because the seeds are blended, the chia sets up almost straight away… so no need to chill, no need to wait.  (Even though slight chilling is optimal for serving.)

Our girls LOVE this pudding.  I’m talking L-O-V-E.  One of our daughters doesn’t like puddings in general, but will ask for this one.  They get giddy when I tell them I have chia pudding in the fridge.  This folks, is a very good thing.

“Instant” Chocolate Chia Pudding gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free  (Here is RECIpage link to print/share)

This chia pudding sets quicker than other versions, since the seeds are blended first.  It sets up almost instantly, and is fudgy, coconutty, and yummalicious!

1 cup plain or chocolate non-dairy milk (see note)

1/2 cup (packed) pitted dates, plus another 1-3 dates to taste (or 2 tbsp pure maple syrup plus 2 -3 tbsp coconut sugar or more maple syrup, adjust sweetness to taste, see note)

3 tbsp chia seeds (black or white)

1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or can use the seeds scraped from one vanilla bean)

2 – 3 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tbsp mini non-dairy chocolate chips (optional for sugar-free option – but SO fab, even a tbsp!)

In a blender, add milk, dates (or coconut sugar/maple syrup), chia seeds, cocoa, salt, and vanilla.  Blend (starting on low speed and then working up to high speed) for a minute or more (depending on blender), until the seeds are fully pulverized.  Taste, and if you’d like it sweeter, add another few dates or another tablespoon of maple syrup (or coconut sugar).  If you’d like a thinner pudding, add another drop of milk and blend again (it will thicken a little more as it chills). Transfer mixture to a large bowl/dish, stir in coconut and chocolate chips, and refrigerate until chilled, about 1/2 hour or more (it will thicken more with chilling, but really can be eaten straight away – especially if using the dates as they also thicken the mixture).  Serve, sprinkling with more coconut, and topping with fresh berries or other fruit if desired.  Serves 3.

Milk Note:  I typically use unsweetened plain or vanilla almond milk when I make this pudding.  If you are using a sweetened vanilla or chocolate milk, you may want to reduce the sweetener.

Sweetener Note: Dates are terrific in this pudding!  I wasn’t sure I’d like it as much as using maple syrup or coconut sugar – but I like it as much, or more!  If you’d prefer to use all maple syrup, it will thin the mixture slightly more than if using a combination of coconut sugar and maple syrup.  So, reduce the milk measure just slightly under 1 cup.

p.s. Don’t forget to subscribe to my posts to get every bit of plant-powered goodness delivered to your inbox!  And, thanks to Ricki Heller for featuring this recipe in her Wellness Weekend!

Have you ever made chia pudding?  How do you regularly use chia seeds?

Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip (without the junk)

If you have LTEV, you’re probably well aware of my love for all things saucy and dippy! I have a whole chapter devoted to them in that book. Indeed, I often say I’m saucy. Just don’t call me dippy. 😉

And, I do believe I have made some form of artichoke dip or spread in each of my books. Wait – correction, missed one in Vive le Vegan! GASP! Ok, I made up for it with two artichoke dips in ed&bv.

And yet I develop another. Why? (Because I’m half-mad, that’s why! But that’s just between you and me.) Madness aside, I wanted to create something creamy, full-bodied, and sumptuous, but using only whole foods and no added substitutes (such as vegan mayonnaise) and also no oil.

I like to challenge myself – and this one developed a little easier than I anticipated!  When I first posted this idea on facebook it received a LOT of comments. See, I had this idea of doing a dip like the bread bowl dips you find at potlucks and summer parties, but without (of course) the wallop of dairy products.

So, it started as that spinach bread bowl dip… until artichokes called to me from the freezer “we’re here, we’re here, have you forgotten about us?” (half-mad, remember)

How could I forget about artichokes! They are one of my very favorite plant-powered ingredients. I especially love the frozen artichokes from Trader Joe’s. They taste FAR fresher than canned, and you can bypass the steps of draining/rinsing that comes along with the jarred/marinated artichokes.

For me, artichoke dip tastes best warm. So, I do enjoy baking this dip briefly. Not too long, or the spinach turns off-color. Just long enough to warm it through.  You might say it’s um, half-baked. 😉

A creamy vegan artichoke dip made withOUT vegan cheese substitutes, all whole foods! Artichoke Spinach Dip - by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen  #vegan #glutenfree

Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip from Plant-Powered Families (now available)!

gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free

Go to RECIpage link to print/share this recipe

This dip is exceptionally creamy with a full-bodied taste and texture, and yet has no commercial dairy substitute and also no added oil.  It will be a hit at any party, bbq, or potluck!

3/4 cup raw cashews (unsoaked)

3/4 cup plain unsweetened non-dairy milk (I like almond or soy, but your choice)

2 1/2 – 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1-2 medium-large cloves garlic (I typically use 1 to make it family-friendly; use less/more to taste)

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp dry (ground) mustard

freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cups frozen artichoke hearts, partially thawed (helps for pulsing in blender)

2 cups (loosely packed) spinach leaves

Preheat oven to 425.  In a blender, first add cashews, milk, lemon juice (I like the full 3 tbsp for tanginess), garlic, salt, dry mustard, and pepper.  Blend until very smooth.  (If using Blendtec (purrrrr, meow!) or other high-powered blender, this will only take a minute or so.   If using a standard blender, keep blending until very smooth.   Add artichokes and spinach and just PULSE through.  Do not fully blend, keep some chunky texture!  Transfer to an oven-proof baking dish, and bake for 17-20 minutes. Remove, let cool for about 4-5 minutes, and serve.

Do you love artichoke dip?  What artichoke dishes do you like to make?