Once Upon A Time, There Was A Vegan Blogger…

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Our story begins on a crisp autumn morning, when a young vegan decided that she needed to expand her blog’s readership.

She thought and thought about how to do this, when suddenly, while reading about Virginia’s upcoming elections, it came to her.

Bribery.

She knew that a couple of fat stacks would be just what she needed to persuade some neighbors to hop on the computer and take a look.

So she piled them high,

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and topped them with liquid gold.

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The warm, gooey morsels of apple, plum and streusel were better than currency.

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So with full bellies and sticky fingers, they all lived happily ever after.

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Bon appetit.

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Ingredients

3 apples

3 plums

Caramel sauce

Streusel filling

Caramel Sauce

1/4 C. light corn syrup

1/2 C. water

2 C. white sugar

1/2 C. coconut milk

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. vegan butter or margarine

Streusel 

4 Tbsp. vegan butter or margarine

1/2 C. flour

1/4 C. brown sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon
the dessert tower

Method

Core and slice the plums and apples (firmer plumbs will work best for this)

Layer apples, streusel, plums, streusel, and apples again until you have 5 layers

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until the apples are just soft, not mushy

Remove from heat and allow to cool

Top with caramel sauce, and chopped walnuts

Caramel Sauce

Bring sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and water to a boil

Continue cooking on a strong simmer until the mixture turns a deep golden-brown color, about 30 mins depending on your stove (once it begins to brown it goes fast, so watch it)

Remove from heat and carefully add the coconut milk and vegan butter (this will bubble up quite a bit; always be careful with melted sugar)

Allow to cool and thicken for 10 minutes before drizzling on apple-plum stacks

Streusel filling

Blend vegan butter, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor

Brown Sugar Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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I know, I know. You have deep and complicated issues with brussels sprouts. You get flashbacks of being forced to stay at the dinner table as a child until you had eaten them all, holding your nose at the repugnant cruciferous beasts. Believe me, your not alone. Nobody can blame you, brussels sprouts are often the main obstacle between a child and his dessert, or are used by parents as a threat.

“Timmy, no chocolate cake tonight if I don’t see you eat every vegetable on that plate, young man!”

But this is no way for brussels sprouts to be treated, all they’ve ever done for a body is good. Loaded with fiber, vitamin c, and cancer fighting properties, brussels sprouts deserve a second look.

And with caramelization like that, I’d say they look rather ravishing.

Bon appetit.

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Ingredients

2 lbs of brussels sprouts, cut in half

2 Tbsp. vegan butter, melted

1/3 C. brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

brussels

Method

Toss brussels sprouts in the vegan butter and brown sugar to coat evenly.

Spread the sprouts out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle on however much salt and pepper you prefer. I like this recipe to have a little bite of salt, so I add less pepper.

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 40-50 minutes, tossing the brussels once halfway through for even browning.

Serving suggestion: with fall pesto bean stew, or a whole grain.

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Dairy-free, Soy-free, and Sugar-free Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Remember those yoga pants girls I was talking about earlier? This is for them. I took a cult favorite seasonal drink and somehow managed to make it even more yuppie by keeping it dairy, soy and sugar free. How, you ask? Let me introduce you to a friend of mine, her name is Stevia. She’s super sweet, and let me tell ya, all natural.

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There’s nothing artificial about this bag of goods, and she cuts the calorie count of my pumpkin spice latte to under half of what the commercial version comes in at.  A 16 oz pumpkin spice latte from that cafe made with soy milk will run you about 300 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 48 grams of sugar. Mine comes in at 123 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 0 sugar! Need more convincing? This took me about two minutes to make. The longest part was waiting for the water to boil for my french press!

You know there’s a yoga pant-clad yuppie girl in there somewhere waiting to get out and talk about how she can’t get enough of her PSL’s. It’s ok, feed her.  At least with this she’ll probably thank you for not making her fat.

Ingredients

1 C. strongly brewed coffee (I used 1 very heaping Tbsp. for each cup of water)

1 C. 90 calorie almond milk (you can use a lower-cal version, it just won’t be as rich)

2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree

3 Tbsp. stevia

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

pumpkin spice latte

Method

Brew the coffee in whatever method you like, I used a french press.

Mix the stevia and vanilla into the almond milk and microwave for 2 mins.

If you have a milk frother, use it now. Although almond milk does not froth quite as well as cow’s milk, it does get a bit fluffier. If you don’t have one no worries, I didn’t use one either.

(Pro tip: If you’re in the vicinity of an IKEA, pick up one of these. It will change your life.)

Stir in the spices and pumpkin puree (which will dissolve beautifully).

Pour 1 C. of coffee into a mug and top with 1 C. of the almond milk mixture.

Stir and enjoy!

Serving suggestion: with some warm and gooey oatmeal for breakfast; outside if possible.

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Bon appetit.

Fall Pesto Bean Stew

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It doesn’t get better than a weekend free from responsibility, and beautiful weather. Today I got to experience both in one of my favorite places on earth.

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Although technically I’m supposed to wait until the 22nd to celebrate the official start of fall, a crisp 72 degree afternoon at Mount Vernon’s annual Colonial Market and Fair really got me in the zone.

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There were vendors, re-enactors, historical buildings, farm animals, and absolutely beautiful walks to and from the Potomac river. In my opinion, there is no better way to welcome the new season than at the home of the first President of the United States.

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Fall is absolutely spectacular in my corner of the world. There’s a good reason I want to ring it in early! Cool air moves in, the life-sucking humidity moves out, and I can once again tromp around in my beloved knee high boots that have been a gaping hole in my soul for the last four sweltering months. (I’m not the only one who gets excited about the change in season, just ask the couponers buying glittery pumpkins for 20% off at the craft store, or the yoga pants girls foaming at the mouth over pumpkin spice lattes.)

Fall has something for everyone, whether it’s a trip back in time, sparkly gourds or syrupy coffee. But now, I have something for you: Pesto Bean Stew. It’s warm, hearty, rich, and basically the most addictive way I’ve ever experienced beans.

Now go get in the kitchen and make this. George Washington says so.

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Ingredients

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 red onion, diced

1 garlic clove

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried sage

2 C. sliced mushrooms

1/2 C. dry cooking sherry

2 cans of great northern beans

4 Tbsp. vegan basil-walnut pesto

1/2 C. vegetable broth

2 C. baby spinach

fall pesto bean stew

Method

Saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.

Add the mushrooms garlic, thyme, and sage, and continue to cook until the mushrooms have given up about half of their water, and have become tender.

Pour in the cooking sherry and bring to a simmer until the liquid has reduced, roughly 4 minutes, until the mixture is a thick consistency.

Spoon in the pesto, and give everything a good stir to make sure it is distributed evenly before adding in the vegetable broth.

Simmer for about 4 minutes and toss in the beans and spinach, reserving roughly 1/4 C. of the spinach.

Stir until the spinach has wilted, about 1 minute.

Right before serving, stir in the remaining 1/4 C. of spinach for a pop of bright green color and texture.

Serving suggestion: alongside some sweet and savory brown sugar roasted brussels sprouts.

Bon appetit.

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