Happy November, and Happy World Vegan Month! <3
The holiday season will soon be here. Holy hannah the baking begins, aprons on!
If you’re unfamiliar with the bake-off, it gives vegan bakers everywhere the opportunity to compete virtually for a chance to win incredible prizes. This year there are 4 categories: pies, savory baked goods, cakes/cupcakes, and cookies and bars.
I’ll be judging the pies category, and I’m also participating in an an Instagram “takoever” this week! So, if you’re on IG, follow me for more!
Some of you may be wondering… “Dreena, your recipes don’t use Earth Balance butter or coconut spread… what gives?” True. My current recipes utilize whole foods ingredients. However, I have used some of these products in my earlier cooking days. Plus, Earth Balance has a line of peanut butter products that I do use. Plus-plus… have you tried their popcorn? 😉
Seriously, my philosophy about eating vegan is that as a family we eat about 90% whole foods. I talk about this in Plant-Powered Families and Let Them Eat Vegan. So, while I cook and bake with whole foods ingredients, we also enjoy some convenience foods as a family. For instance, we use some store-bought vegan cheeses for school lunches and parties (as nut cheeses aren’t possible with nut allergies), and our girls love taking the Earth Balance popcorn to movies with friends! As a mom, I love that they can have these treats with their friends rather than feel they miss out at parties and events. In short, I’m delighted to be a part of this event. I always encourage a vegan choice, as diet is a journey.
Speaking of the popcorn, I’ll now share a timely (and fun!) recipe from Plant-Powered Families. These APPLE NACHOSE SUPREME will be a hit at holiday parties!
APPLE NACHOS SUPREME
Your kids will LOVE this treat. It feels so festive and special, yet is pretty easy to pull
together and is quite healthy! You can customize with toppings you like best. (Don’t be intimated by the length of the recipe, it’s just to give details, and I offer short-cuts!)
Spiced Caramel (see note for quick-fix option):
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon allspice (optional)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder (or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
1/3 cup plus 2–3 teaspoons water
3 apples, cored and sliced into thin rounds
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3–4 tablespoons nut butter of choice or peanut butter (see note)
1 1/2–2 cups popped popcorn (can pop yourself or use storebought)
3–4 tablespoons nondairy chocolate chips
2–3 tablespoons chopped nuts (optional)
2 tablespoons cranberries or raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 recipe prepared Spiced Caramel (or brown rice syrup, as in note)
To make the spiced caramel: Puree the dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, allspice, vanilla bean powder, and 1/3 cup of the water in a blender or small food processor (I use the Blendtec twister jar, which is the perfect size for this small batch—you can also use a mini food processor but it may not get as smooth). If it’s difficult to get the mixture moving, add another teaspoon of water, and more if needed. (Try not to add too much at once, or the mixture could become too thin.) Puree until completely smooth. Once smooth, transfer to a small zip-top bag (to later pipe onto the nachos). To make the apple base: Toss the apples in the lemon juice. Arrange on a large plate. To assemble with toppings: Add the nut butter to a small zip-top bag. Seal the bag, and push/twist all the nut butter to one end. Snip the smallest piece off a corner and you can then pipe the nut butter over the apples. Alternatively, you can gently warm the nut butter and drizzle with a spoon. Distribute the popcorn, chocolate chips, nuts, cranberries, and shredded coconut on top of the apples, as desired. Finally, take the prepared caramel in the zip-top bag, seal the bag, and twist/snip off a small corner. Drizzle over the apple nachos. Serves 3-4.
Caramel Note: For a quick fix, substitute brown rice syrup for the caramel. Use 1/4–1/3 cup, and you can choose to stir in some of the spices, or leave as is.
Serving Suggestion: I like to drizzle one layer of nut butter on top of the apples, to help the toppings stick, and then a drizzle of the caramel last—it looks so lovely! You can switch it up, using the caramel first and then the nut butter last if you like. Also,
another option is to make a nut caramel, blending the nut butter straight into the date caramel. You may need to add a touch more water to get it moving in the blender (depending on your blender).
Kitchen Tip: These are best served soon after making. The lemon juice will help preserve the color of the apples, but not for long. You can prepare the date caramel in advance, and get the ingredients prepped in advance, then simply assemble before serving.
So… do you have an original recipe that you think is a contender for the bake-off? I encourage you to submit it!
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