Am I a Vegan? | Walnut Scones with Maple Glaze

I have fond childhood memories of walking into a local bakery with my mother, greeted by the comforting aroma of sugary dough, and leaving with our favorite treat: a generously sized, dense yet flaky walnut scone with lip-smackingly sweet maple glaze. This scone was not vegan, and I – but a wee child who had not yet learned of animal suffering or intersecting oppressions – didn’t call myself one either.

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But should I now? Label myself as “vegan,” that is. The use of the word “vegan” comes up as a rather hotly debated topic in animal rights circles, from those who prefer to employ “vegetarian” in their advocacy – assuming that non-vegans feel less threatened by the word – to James McWilliams who just published a blog post on “The Vegan Identity,” to the Hens of Our Hen House who often discuss vegan diction on their podcast.

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Recently, as I read bell hooks’ Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center – recommended on my latest edition of “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” (#NewsandChews) – I came upon a passage that spoke directly to the issue of labeling oneself with a certain identity. Here, I’d like to quote the passage at length:

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“Focusing on feminism as political commitment, we resist the emphasis on individual identity and lifestyle…Such resistance engages us in revolutionary praxis. The ethics of Western society informed by imperialism and capitalism are personal rather than social. They teach us that the individual good is more important than the collective good and consequently that individual change is of greater significance than collective change…To emphasize that engagement with feminist struggle as political commitment we could avoid using the phrase “I am a feminist” (a linguistic structure designed to refer to some personal aspect of identity and self-definition) and could state “I advocate feminism.” Because there has been undue emphasis placed on feminism as an identity or lifestyle, people usually resort to stereotyped perspectives on feminism. Deflecting attention away from stereotypes is necessary if we are to revise our strategy and direction. I have found that saying “I am a feminist” usually means I am plugged into preconceived notions of identity, role, or behavior. When I say “I advocate feminism” the response is usually “what is feminism?” A phrase like “I advocate” does not imply the kind of absolutism that is suggested by “I am.” It does not engage us in the either/or dualistic thinking that is the central ideological component of all systems of domination in Western society. It implies that a choice has been made, that commitment to feminism is an act of will. It does not suggest that by committing oneself to feminism, the possibility of supporting other political movements is negated.”

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In the interest of our discussion, we can replace hooks’ use of “feminist” and “feminism” with “vegan” and “veganism” (though revolutionary feminism is also something in which all of us should be involved). For now, I find myself persuaded by hooks’ argument, and intend to begin discussing my veganism as a practice rather than as an identity. This linguistic shift in no way signals a wavering of my commitment to veganism (nor do I think that hooks’ implies that such a shift would do so), but a new mode of discussing the lifestyle in the hopes of reaching more people and furthering the movement in a revolutionary direction.

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I find this discussion absolutely fascinating, and would love to hear any and all of your thoughts.

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In return for your shared views on the topic, I give you a veganized recipe for those walnut scones of my childhood, dedicated to my mother.

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Walnut Scones with Maple Glaze

Makes 16 mini scones or 8 large scones.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup cold coconut oil, chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1 cup coconut sugar
1 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
(or use 1 cup of maple sugar in the place of both of these ingredients)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt. Stir well to combine.

Add the pieces of cold coconut oil to the flour mixture and use the tips of your fingers to “cut” (integrate wholly) the solid oil into the flour. You should end up with a mixture of grainy texture that almost resembles sand.

Add the maple syrup, cold water, and vanilla to the dry mixture and stir well to combine. At first it will seem like there isn’t enough liquid to wet the dough, but have faith and keep mixing until you have thoroughly incorporated the wet and dry ingredients. Stir in 3/4 of the chopped walnuts.

Flour a flat surface like your kitchen counter and drop the entire bowl of dough onto the surface. Form the dough into a disc that’s about 1 inch thick all the way around. Use a sharp knife to cut the circle into 16/8 (depending on if you want mini or large scones) even wedges. Separate the wedges and place them onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes for mini scones, and 15-17 minutes for larger scones, or until lightly golden brown.

While the scones bake, prepare the glaze. If using the coconut sugar-starch mixture, whir the coconut sugar and arrowroot or cornstarch together in a food processor until a fine powder forms. Whisk together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. You may need to warm the glaze in the microwave for a couple of seconds to render it pourable. Once the scones have cooled for a few minutes, spoon the glaze into the middle of each scone and let it drizzle down the sides. While the glaze is still wet, sprinkle each scone with the remaining 1/4 of the chopped walnuts.

These scones will keep for 3-5 days in an air-tight container at room temperature, or for a couple of months in the freezer.

You can make these scones gluten-free by replacing the flours with 1 cup brown rice flour and 1 cup almond meal.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {7-4-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Happy 4th of July! While the news highlighted in this fifth edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News may not contribute to your patriotism, July 4th still provides a fabulous excuse to fire up the grill for some summer veggies and dig into a pint of non-dairy ice cream. Let’s get to it!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Strawberry Sweet Rolls with Lemon-Caramel Glaze
via Yup, It’s Vegan

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Photo via Yup, It’s Vegan.

Though the end of strawberry season is upon us in Brooklyn (hellooo, cherries!), Shannon offers up a chewy, yeasty, doughy, succulent, mouthwatering recipe to make creative use (not that eating them unadorned isn’t a fabulous use) of any late-season strawberries you might be lucky enough to snag. I expect that these whole-grain, refined sugar-free sweet rolls would provide both a comforting breakfast and a lovely warm-weather dessert, perfect for enjoying on the patio just before sunset.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Ranch Potato Salad, Buffalo Tempeh with Homemade Sauce, and Sweet Kale Salad
via Betty Goes Vegan, Post Punk Kitchen, Emeril Lagasse, and Chef Mickiyah

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The “recipe” highlight of this week is actually a full meal made up of three components. The first: a Ranch Potato Salad with sweet green peas and a vegan ranch dressing adapted from the vegan-Betty Crocker remix cookbook Betty Goes Vegan. The second: crispy sauteed tempeh simmered in homemade buffalo sauce, inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe with a DIY twist. The third: a warm salad of wilted kale in a succulent sauce of Dijon mustard and coconut sugar with a sprinkling of juicy raisins, courtesy of Chef Mickiyah of Woodland’s Vegan Bistro (remember my rave review of this DC vegan hot spot last summer?). Hearty, boldly flavored, and nourishing, this dinner would have impressed any July 4th-celebrating non-vegan.

Must-Read News Article

This past week brought an onslaught of landmark court decisions, both inside and outside of the U.S.

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Photo via Grist.

Via Grist: In Canada, the Supreme Court ruled that any First Nation land that was never formally ceded to the Canadian government cannot be developed without consent of those First Nations that have a claim to it. In addition to challenging the Northern Gateway oil pipeline that would run from Alberta to China, the ruling recognizes the rights of the First Nations whose land the U.S. and Canada colonized long ago, and who have endured heaps of discrimination ever since. Way to go, Canadian Supreme Court.

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Photo via Slate.

Back home in the U.S., however, the Supreme Court produced decisions much less worth celebrating. Via Slate, Truthout, and Mother Jones: Not only did the Court strike down a Massachusetts law mandating a 35-foot buffer zone that anti-abortion protesters couldn’t enter to heckle patients outside of abortion clinics, it also declared that the government couldn’t require closely held businesses to provide their employees with health insurance that covers types of birth control that offend the owner’s religious beliefs. Both decisions severely infringe upon women’s health and reproductive rights, essentially indicating that corporations constitute “people” more so than do women. A much more sarcastic “way to go” to you, SCOTUS.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

BEST OF: Melissa Gira Grant on sex work, savior complexes, and a vegan dominatrix
via Citizen Radio

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Photo via Citizen Radio.

The topic of sex workers and their rights proves hotly debated, even in feminist circles, as many well-meaning folks attempt to control the actions of women who find themselves in precarious situations and choose to engage in sex work in order to get by. In this “Best Of” episode of Citizen Radio, Melissa Gira Grant—author of Playing the Whore, which is definitely next on my reading list—explains the politics behind the issue of sex workers with elegance, clarity, and wit. A must-listen.

For more information on sex workers’ rights, check out this recent article on Truthout, entitled “Cutting Off Sex Work Advertising Sites Disrupts Communities, Not Trafficking.”

Book Recommendation

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
by Matt Taibbi

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Photo via NPR.

While anyone who hasn’t lived under a slab of tofu for the past few decades has clearly seen the staggering wealth gap into which capitalism has sent our country spiraling, Matt Taibbi highlights the concrete impacts that this gap has upon the bodies of the poor and the criminal justice system. Switching between narrating startling stories of corporate/Wall Street money laundering and the clear discrimination in policing against people of color, Taibbi demonstrates the stark contrast between the treatment of the rich and poor in arrests, trials, and punishments. For example. on the one hand, the police arrest an impoverished Black man for “obstructing traffic” by standing in front of the door of his own home, while “too-big-to-fail” companies like HSBC receive no more than a slap on the wrist for major corporate fraud. A book to make your blood boil and your cynical laughter to ring.

In solidarity, Ali.

Seaweed & Edamame Salad | Thoughts on Vegan Privilege

Before introducing today’s recipe, I’m thrilled to announce the three winners of my most recent giveaway for two free pints of Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream. Congratulations to Becca FergusonRosie Riccio DeRensis, and Megan Digeon! Enjoy the creamy, decadent, coconutty goodness.

I got myself into a Facebook skirmish the other day. I don’t often do so, nor do I know that I can even call this incident a “skirmish,” so much as an instance of me replying to a post I found problematic, and never hearing back from the poster or commentators. The post in question—entitled “Dear White Vegans: This is Your Collection Agency Calling“—elicited enthusiastic responses from two individuals who referred to themselves as “former white, privileged vegans.”

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I responded as such:

“I agree with many of the sentiments expressed in this article. The current vegan movement contains an onslaught of classist, racist, sexist, and ableist elements. Equating the mass slaughter of animals with genocide and slavery co-opts the unknowable suffering of marginalized peoples in an effort to further another movement.

However, I feel that the arguments expressed in this article are a bit ad-hominem. Yes, the way veganism at large is being executed right now is hugely problematic. But at its core, veganism, for me, is simply an extension of an effort to combat the multiplicities of oppression in this world. The exploitation of people of color, women, members of the LGBT community, non-human animals, etc. are not the same, but they share a similar component: an unequal relationship between oppressor and oppressed. I would argue that if this relationship exists anywhere, the possibility for a liberated society becomes greatly hindered.

Consider the powerful activists in history who were also vegan: Cesar Chavez, Thich Nhat Hanh, Coretta Scott King, Angela Davis, and so on. They recognized that while different instances of oppression are not at all the same and each need to be understood in their own right, they are also intimately connected by their being perpetuated by a capitalistic, patriarchal, colonial mindset. To fight against these marginalizing power relations, I feel that we must engage in a multiplicity of social struggles in order to empower habitually silenced groups. And I would argue that these struggles should include non-human animals.”

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In essence, I don’t want to throw out the idea of veganism simply because its current execution involves a multiplicity of problematic aspects. Instead, since I’m currently privileged enough to enjoy access to a bounty of plant-based foods, an income to obtain such foods, and a social circle that won’t disown my non-mainstream lifestyle, I’ve passionately added animal exploitation to the list of oppressions I’m actively seeking to combat by leading a vegan lifestyle.

Equally important, however, is that in such a privileged position, I must also engage in actively combating the problematic aspects of the vegan movement, in part by constantly reminding myself that the privilege enabling my vegan lifestyle exists among the phenomena that I actively seek to combat. The actions I’m taking against such privilege don’t involve giving up veganism, since that would actively enforce another very real oppression. Instead, the actions involve supporting admirable organizations like Food Not Bombs and the Food Empowerment Project that work to make nourishing vegan options accessible to marginalized communities; working to free myself of the capitalistic mindset of nonstop accumulation of material goods; working not to reinforce my various privileges in my daily interpersonal relations; and educating myself about the histories and current manifestations of various oppressions by devouring anti-racist, feminist, anarchist, etc. literature and following progressive news sources.

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These efforts don’t stop my occupation of a privileged position, of course. I’m still able to take myself out for expensive dinners at upscale restaurants in Manhattan; I’m still able to host giveaways on the ol’ blog for free products while the vivacious homeless man, who hangs out most days on the bench in front of my apartment building, asks for donations; I’m still able to shell out $12.99 for a 6-oz bag of arame seaweed at Whole Foods.

But these privileges don’t exist because I’m vegan, and they’ll still exist even if I were to throw up my hands and give up veganism tomorrow (which I absolutely will not). They exist because I’m a white, straight, cisgender individual with an upper-middle-class background. And veganism is only the first way in which I hope to engage in a challenge to the capitalist, patriarchal, colonial, speciesist, etc. society that makes it super easy to thrive with such identity factors.

Now, before I recommence all this challenging, please excuse me while I enjoy the following salad that I made with a $12.99-bag of arame seaweed that I bought at Whole Foods after being inspired to make such a salad by a dish I enjoyed at a not-inexpensive restaurant in perhaps the most well-off neighborhood in Brooklyn. Don’t we all love a good contradiction?

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Seaweed & Edamame SaladNut Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat.

Serves 2-4 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

3 oz arame or hiziki seaweed (or a blend of the two)
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp finely sliced scallions
2 tbsp sesame seeds (both white & black are fine)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Place the seaweed in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let the seaweed soak for 15-60 minutes, or until it has expanded significantly. Drain.

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the shelled edamame and boil for 4-6 minutes. Drain.

When the seaweed has finished soaking, heat the coconut oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for a minute, then add the drained seaweed and saute for about 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated from the seaweed. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the toasted sesame oil, raise the heat to medium-high, and saute until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and relocate the seaweed mixture to a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the toasted sesame oil. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {6-27-14}

If you haven’t yet already, don’t miss your chance to win two free pints of amazingly decadent, creamy, rich, and delicious vegan ice cream from Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss on my latest giveaway!

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

This week’s News & Chews (fourth edition!) features the wonders of summery finger foods and artful salads, a roundup of the need-to-know news stories of the past week, a video highlighting the racial politics of a resurfaced court case from the 1980s, and a book that must grace the shelves of anyone even remotely involved in movement organizing.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Peach & Avocado Summer Rolls with Almond Butter Dipping Sauce
from Anya Kassoff’s new “The Vibrant Table,” via Katie at the Kitchen Door

Photo via Katie at the Kitchen Door.

Photo via Katie at the Kitchen Door.

This recipe, from the new cookbook “The Vibrant Table” by Golubka’s own Anya Kassoff, positively bursts with the goodness of summer produce, including juicy peaches, buttery avocados, and bright basil. Accentuated with the crunch of pistachios, the richness of hazelnut oil, and the unctuousness of a lip-smackingly tantalizing almond butter dipping sauce, these summer rolls all but beg to grace my dinner plate.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Salad Niçoise Bento Box
via Terry Hope Romero’s new “Salad Samurai

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 Lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of culinary genius Terry Hope Romero’s new cookbook (look out for a review & giveaway in mid-July!), I spent the last week reveling in fresh, creative, and hearty salads from the mastermind of the co-author of the vegan Bible “Veganomicon.” I don’t want to give away too much about this gorgeous Niçoise salad pictured above, but I will mention its innovative inclusion of coconut “bacon,” avocado “egg,”  and chickpea “tuna” salad. I’m in love.

Must-Read News Article

This past week saw such a proliferation of important news stories (both uplifting and gut-wrenching) that instead of featuring a single article on this week’s edition of News & Chews, I’d like to feature a “round-up” of sorts.
First, the bad news. From Daily Kos, 40 percent of Detroit residents who cannot afford to pay their water bills due to crippling unemployment and other poverty-related factors risk having their water supply cut off. In response, the Detroit People’s Water Board has petitioned the UN to make clear to the U.S. government that it has violated the human right to water. And in further draconian governmental news, from Al Jazeera, an Egyptian court has sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison and another to ten years, on charges including aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news. This ruling has the powerful potential to have a chilling effect on journalists, and represents a serious blow to journalistic freedom.
Luckily, we still have access to multiple outlets for independent journalism, many of which this week featured a number of hopeful stories. From Truthout, the Presbyterian Church, USA sets an exciting precedent in upsetting the power imbalance between Israel and occupied Palestine by divesting from three corporations that have been continually involved in the Israeli population of the West Ban. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, from BuzzFlash, a federal court struck down a municipal ordinance that made it a crime to use a car for overnight shelter, representing a victory against the city’s anti-homeless agenda that seeks to decrease visibility of the issue rather than securing homes for the homeless. Finally, Gerardo Cerdas, coordinator of the transnational social movement Grito de los Excluidos, shares his uplifting views of the future of social movements at Truthout. I would highly recommend this article to anyone interested or involved in movement organizing, especially those who (like myself) have become (more than a bit) jaded.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

NYC’s $40M Central Park 5 Settlement Resolves Wrongful Jailing Fueled by Race-Baiting, Police Abuse
via Democracy Now!

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Those of us born in the 1990s may have missed the infamous case of the Central Park jogger, in which the NYC court system convicted five black and Latino men of raping a female jogger in Central Park, only to be found innocent decades later after the real rapist came forward and confessed. The five convicted men having already served sentences of up to 13 years, the City of New York has finally reportedly agreed to pay $40 million to the wrongfully convicted men. The most notable aspect of this story involves the racial profiling activities of the NYPD, through which young men of color were targeted as significant dangers to society. Additionally, as professor of sociology Natalie Byfield notes, “the significance of a settlement, to me, is important because it starts to undo what became a historic lie. And I say it in this way because the case itself was the launching pad for a transformation of the juvenile justice system.” So many complexities to this story, and an important case to remember in terms of the racial politics of the U.S.

Book Recommendation

Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy
by Chris Crass

Photo via Racial Justice Allies.

Photo via Racial Justice Allies.

Written by longtime anarchist movement organizer (including with the awesome vegan organization Food Not BombsChris Crass, this book contains an invaluable assortment of reflections upon the history of anti-capitalist organizing in an attempt to learn from past mistakes and advance current movement efforts. From his background as an feminist-informed anti-racist educator of white people, Crass practices self-reflexivity with grace and provides important critiques of the un-discussed privileges and inequalities in past movement efforts. I sincerely hope that this book becomes widely read among activists everywhere.

Until next time, Ali.

Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Review & GIVEAWAY!

Sorry, this giveaway has closed.

Welcome to Round 2 of summer giveaways on Farmers Market Vegan! This time, I’m thrilled to offer you perhaps the tastiest, creamiest, richest, most decadent non-dairy ice cream on the market (I’m really not exaggerating here)Luna and Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss.

All Coconut Bliss Flavors

After Coconut Bliss founders Luna and Larry Kaplowitz embarked upon a dairy-free diet out of concern for their health and the ecological impact of dairy production, they had trouble finding a tasty non-dairy ice cream free of questionable ingredients. With soy- and rice-based ice creams proving gastronomically unsatisfying, Luna and Larry turned to coconut milk and– hand-crank ice cream machine in hand – began hosting weekly tasting parties for friends, family, neighbors, and anyone else interested in the wonders of coconut, agave-sweetened ice cream. Once two local shop owners requested that Luna and Larry start selling the ice cream in their stores, Coconut Bliss became an official business venture and expanded from a home hand-crank operation into a manufacturing facility in Eugene, Oregon. Today, you can find Luna and Larry’s top-quality ice cream in stores across the U.S. and Canada.

Luna and Larry at the Thai coconut farm that produces milk for Coconut Bliss.

Luna and Larry at the Thai coconut farm that produces milk for Coconut Bliss.

With this expansion, Luna and Larry made few compromises in terms of environmental and ethical sustainability. At least 95% of all Coconut Bliss ingredients are certified organic, including the coconut milk and agave, both of which are sourced from family-owned farms in Thailand and Mexico respectively with which Luna and Larry have connected in person. Additionally, all of the cacao used in Coconut Bliss comes from a fair-trade certified workers’ cooperative in the Dominican Republic, a production setup that minimizes the incidence of child slavery (read more about slavery in the chocolate industry here). Luna and Larry also offer substantial support to the local Eugene community by sponsoring events and donating to a number of nonprofits, and are currently seeking to donate a percentage of their sales the communities and animal shelters in the area of Thailand where the coconut milk they use is produced.

Coconut Bliss at the Beloved Sacred Music Festival in Tidewater, Oregon.

Coconut Bliss at the Beloved Sacred Music Festival in Tidewater, Oregon.

You’ll notice that I mentioned that Luna and Larry made few compromises in expanding Coconut Bliss. One compromise that they did make, however, I feel the need to mention. As explained in detail in this blog post from Larry, in 2011 Coconut Bliss became majority owned by Lochmead Dairy (and that don’t mean a vegan dairy, folks). As Larry explains, with skyrocketing demand, he and Luna began searching for a co-packer that could make Coconut Bliss for them, and supposedly could not find a vegan co-packer large enough to suit their needs. The couple then turned to Lochmead, who apparently used to manufacture Turtle Mountain’s So Delicious and Purely Decadent lines, and thus have 20+ years of experience manufacturing vegan ice cream in a separate facility from their dairy products.

While I understand the reasoning behind this decision, I’m disappointed that our current society necessitates that many vegan products need engage at least somewhat with animal agriculture in order to reach a wide audience (Tom’s toothpaste, anyone? How about Nancy’s soy yogurt?). I grappled extensively – consulting a number of trusted animal rights activists – with whether or not I should carry out this review, on the grounds that I would be providing publicity for a dairy company by extension. However, I ultimately decided that the unfortunate fact that we live in an imperfect world, in which “pure” veganism proves impossible, should not keep me from promoting what I truly believe is the most impressive widely available vegan ice cream on the market – one that I would venture to say has the power to change non-vegan hearts and minds.

Additionally, I thought that this giveaway might provide a great opportunity to reach out to Lochmead Dairy informing them of how enthusiastically I adore the quality of their vegan ice cream, and asking them to continue to expand their vegan options. I’ve already sent an email of this vein to Lochmead, and would wholeheartedly encourage you all to do the same!

So folks, let’s talk about the ice cream. It’s good. Like, mind-bogglingly good. Like, “OMG am I really tasting this right now this can’t be real” good. Creamy, rich, silky smooth, decadent…I could go on.

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For this review, I had the opportunity to sample two flavors of Coconut Bliss: Mocha Maca Crunch and Cherry Amaretto (though, I’ve tried the Lunaberry Swirl in the past and it remains my favorite). A gorgeous balance of maca maltiness and rich coffee flavor, the Mocha Maca Crunch offered a rather sophisticated ice cream, though its “wild side” shone through the crunchy cacao nibs that studded each spoonful. The Cherry Amaretto hugely appealed to my adoration of the flavor of almond extract, and offered ginormous chunks of icy-juicy cherries throughout the ice cream. I served both of these flavors to a room full of non-vegans, all of whom had nothing but “ooh,” “ahh,” “oh, man,” “this is really just coconut milk?,” and other laudatory remarks to make of the Coconut Bliss quality.

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Other than enjoying Coconut Bliss straight out of the container and sharing it with those not yet enlightened to the world of vegan ice cream, I also experimented with incorporating Coconut Bliss into a widely loved childhood dessert: ice cream sandwiches. Check out the recipe below, which pairs the Mocha Maca Crunch with chocolate’s frequent sidekick hazelnut, and couples the Cherry Amaretto with cherry’s good friend carob.

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Mocha Maca Crunch Ice Cream Sandwiches with Hazelnut Cookies & Cherry Amaretto Ice Cream Sandwiches with Carob Cookies—Soy Free, Low Sodium

Makes 3 sandwiches.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
5 tbsp buckwheat flour
2 tbsp plant-based milk
2/3 cup rolled oats
Pinch of sea salt

1 tbsp carob powder
1 tsp hazelnut extract

1/4-1/2 cup Coconut Bliss Mocha Maca Crunch Ice Cream
1/4-1/2 cup Coconut Bliss Cherry Amaretto Ice Cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place two small mixing bowls on the counter in front of you. Combine 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup, 3 tbsp buckwheat flour, 1 tbsp milk, 1/3 cup rolled oats, a pinch of sea salt, and 1 tsp hazelnut extract in the bowl on the left: this is your hazelnut cookie batter. In the bowl on the right, combine the remaining 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp buckwheat flour, 1 tbsp milk, 1/3 cup rolled oats, pinch of sea salt, and 1 tbsp carob powder: this is your carob cookie batter.

Drop the batters by the heaping spoonfuls onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread each cookie out with your fingers to create a thin disk. Each batter should yield 3 cookies. Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden around the edges. Allow the cookies to cool completely; they will crisp up as they cool.

You’ll use 1/4 cup ice cream for each sandwich, but you’ll have to use 1/2 cup total of one of the ice cream flavors since you have 3 cookies to fill. The Mocha Maca Crunch ice cream will go in between the hazelnut cookies, while the Cherry Amaretto ice cream will go in between the carob cookies. However, one scoop of one of the flavors of ice cream will go in between one of each cookie. Spoon one flavor of ice cream into a round-ish 1/4 cup measure, then overturn on top of one of the cookies to yield a dome-shaped heap of ice cream. Place another cookie of the same flavor on top of the ice cream and gently smush the ice cream down with the top cookie to create a sandwich. Immediately eat or place in the freezer to save for later. About5-10 minutes before you’d like to enjoy a sandwich, remove one from the freezer to allow to soften slightly.

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Three of you who enter the giveaway will win two product coupons for free Coconut Bliss! So what are you waiting for? Enter the giveaway via the links at the top and bottom of this post.

This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 29, and I will announce the three winners on the following day.

Sorry, this giveaway has closed.

I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with free product samples. All opinions are completely my own.

Until next time, Ali.

TastyMakes Raw Organic Snacks Review & GIVEAWAY!

Sorry, this giveaway has closed!

Get ready, dear readers, for a summer of exciting giveaways on Farmers Market Vegan! I have quite a few of these super fun product raffles up my sleeve for the next three months, so I do hope that you’ll keep a close eye on the ol’ blog amidst all of your warm-weather frolicking.

The first of these giveaways comes from the generous folks over at Tastymakes—a fabulous new snack company that specializes in raw, sprouted, organic, and ethically sourced savory crackers, sweet “barbites,” and crunchy granola clusters. Compelled to share the benefits of a raw, vegan diet with others after healing from a bike injury through alkaline eating, Tastymakes co-founder Melissa Lacitignola has joined with her husband and a professional raw foods chef to make her dream a reality. As if that story weren’t inspiring enough, TastyMakes also donates 5% of all its profits to anti-hunger organizations. Can you say “socially responsible company”?

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Not only do the folks at Tastymakes offer top-quality raw snacks, they also run a snack box subscription program through which customers can receive various amounts of crackers, barbites, and granolas each month. Arriving like clockwork every month with free shipping, these TastyBoxes ensure a pantry consistently stocked with energizing, nourishing snacks.

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Melissa and her team were kind enough to send me a couple product samples: one bag each of their Salt & Vinegar Crackers, Garden Herb Crackers, and Vanilla Nut BarBites. All of the snacks boasted a short list of hugely wholesome ingredients as well as an enormous punch of flavor.

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The Salt & Vinegar Crackers (the ingredients in which include apple cider vinegar, sprouted golden flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and sea salt) sported a supremely crunchy texture that dissolved pleasingly on the tongue as a hit of flavor spread through the entire mouth. These crackers will make you guffaw in disdain of those outdated salt & vinegar potato chips, whose muted flavor could never hope to stand up to that of these intensely savory crackers.

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The Garden Herb Crackers (the ingredients of which include sprouted golden flaxseed, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, rosemary, thyme, sea salt, onions, and garlic) held a firmer texture than did the Salt & Vinegar Crackers, providing more heft for optimal dippability. Indeed, I enjoyed these fresh-tasting crackers spread with a pea puree and fresh almond milk ricotta from Kite Hill—not bad for a rough-and-tumble dinner, if I do say so myself.

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The Vanilla Nut Bar Bites (the ingredients of which include dates, walnuts, cashews, sprouted Spanish almonds, vanilla extract, flaxseed meal, and sea salt) offered a super intense vanilla flavor, coupled with a texture perfectly balanced between chewy and crunchy. I also found that these bites provided ample versatility, able to function not only as an ideal energy-packed snack, but as a premade crust for raw desserts! Check out the recipe below to see what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

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Mini Lemon-Ginger Cheesecake Cups—Raw, Soy Free, Low Sodium

Makes 8 mini cups.

Ingredients:

16 TastyMakes Vanilla Nut Bar Bites
1 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours and drained
1/2 cup coconut oil (use this lemon-ginger flavored coconut oil for more of a kick!)
1/3 cup coconut or agave nectar (or maple syrup, if you’re not concerned about the cakes being fully raw)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger

Cut a sheet of plastic wrap about double the size of your 8-piece mini muffin tin. Spread the sheet over the tin and press the plastic wrap into each of the 8 cups to line them.

Take two Vanilla Nut Bar Bites and mush them together into one larger bite. Press the new bite into the bottom of one of the 8 cups. Repeat with the remaining 14 Vanilla Nut Bar Bites.

In the bowl of a food processor or the carafe of a high-speed blender, combine the soaked and drained cashews, coconut oil, coconut nectar or maple syrup, lemon juice, and ginger. Puree until very smooth. Fill each of the Nut Bar Bite-lined mini muffin cups to the brim with the cashew puree. Stick the entire mini muffin tray into the freezer and allow the cheesecake cups to set for about an hour. Remove each of the cups from the freezer about 5-10 minutes before you’d like to enjoy them.

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If that tantalizing recipe isn’t enough to get you ecstatic about this giveaway, I don’t know what will. Those of you that are ecstatic, though, have the chance to win your very own TastyBox! Simply click the links at the top or bottom of this post to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 15, and I will ann0unce the two winners on the following day.

Sorry, this giveaway has closed!

I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with free product samples. All opinions are completely my own.

Until next time, Ali.

Green Tea-Almond Cake with Coconut Glaze

This past semester, I had the immense pleasure of taking a college course dedicated to reading James Joyce’s Ulysses—arguably the greatest novel in all of English literature. Joyce has long held a special place in my literary heart, ever since my first reading of his short story “Araby” in my junior year of high school, and delving deep into his pivotal work proved challenging, thought-provoking, eye-opening, and hilarious. To conclude the course, in honor of protagonist Leopold Bloom’s gastronomic enthusiasm, our class decided to turn our last meeting into a potluck of sorts, each agreeing to bring an Irish dish to share.

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While my classmates covered the whiskey and soda bread, I opted to interpret Irish cuisine a tad more loosely and create a cake that celebrated the quintessential colors of Ireland and the Irish flag: green and white. To impart a naturally green hue into the batter, I employed the mildly sweet, unctuously flavored, and antioxidant-packed matcha green tea powder, enhancing its flavor profile with lemon, cinnamon, and a touch of nutmeg and adding a handful of toasted almonds to emphasize the matcha’s nuttiness. A simple coconut milk glaze added to the cake’s moistness and richness, while a decorative line of clovers imparted an extra dose of Irishness (right?) to the verdant cake. Expectedly, my class met the cake with great enthusiasm, reveling in our “Irish” food festival in true Bloomian fashion.

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For an additional kick of Irish flavor, why not spike the glaze with a splash of whiskey?

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Green Tea-Almond Cake with Coconut Glaze–Can be Soy Free, Low Sodium.

Makes 1 loaf, about 10-12 servings.

Cake Ingredients:

2 tbsp flaxseed meal
3/4 cup non-dairy milk of choice
1 1/3 cups whole wheat, spelt, or gluten-free blend of flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp matcha green tea powder
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

Glaze Ingredients:

1 can light coconut milk, placed in the refrigerator overnight and unshaken
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To Finish:
Clovers for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Oil an 8×4-inch loaf pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flaxseed meal and non-dairy milk. Set aside.

In another medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, matcha, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk in the flax mixture. Add a third of the dry mixture at a time to the wet mixture, stirring well to combine after each addition. After all the dry ingredients are incorporated, stir in the almonds.

Scoop the batter into the oiled loaf pan, place in the oven, and immediately lower the oven temperature to 375°F. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before placing on a cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cake bakes, prepare the glaze. Carefully pour only the creamy white liquid at the top of the can of coconut milk into a medium-sized bowl, taking care to get as little as possible of the clear coconut water at the bottom of the can into the bowl. Reserve the leftover coconut water for smoothies. Whisk in the arrowroot, syrup/nectar, and vanilla. Place the glaze in the refrigerator until the cake has cooled completely.

Once the cake has cooled completely, place it onto a baking sheet and spoon the coconut glaze over the top, letting the glaze drizzle down the sides of the cake. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and either serve immediately, or, for a moister texture, allow the cake to sit for a couple of hours while the glaze soaks in.

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Until next time, Ali.

Tempeh Pita Pockets with Tzatziki

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One of my favorite aspects of living in a 21-person vegan cooperative household involves the high-quality leftovers that my housemates will bring home after they’ve helped to host a catered campus event. In the past, I’ve arrived home to discover samosas and dipping sauces from the nearby Indian restaurant, fried plantains and beans and rice from the Caribbean restaurant down the street, polenta rounds and marinated baked tofu from the Latin American fusion restaurant across the road—all sitting in our refrigerator, free for gastronomic merriment.

Most recently, one of my housemates gifted us with a tray of hummus and whole-wheat pita bread from the nearby Middle Eastern restaurant. Seeking to stuff that pita with more than the standard hummus, I looked through the extensive, mouthwatering Sandwich section of the ever-inspiring Millennium Cookbook, only to come across the ideal recipe with which to experiment: Seitan Gyros.

Millennium’s recipe features homemade herbed seitan medallions stuffed into homemade flatbread and topped with a tofu, mint, and cilantro raita, a tomato relish, and a handful of shredded lettuce. Due to my packed student schedule, the premade pita bread at my fingertips, and the absence of seitan-making ingredients in the house, the recipe required a bit of tweaking to suit my needs. Subbing tempeh baked in a brightly flavored marinade for the seitan, a cucumber variation of the raita (aka, tzatziki) that uses soy yogurt, simply sliced tomatoes for the relish, and the generously donated whole-wheat restaurant pita, I created a less time-intensive spin on Millennium’s original recipe.

Be warned: you will need multiple napkins to fully enjoy this sandwich. But honestly, what sandwich worth eating doesn’t result in a little mess?

Tempeh Pita Pockets with Tzatziki—Oil Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat

Makes 2 pockets, serving 1-2 people.

Tempeh Ingredients:

6 six-inch strips of tempeh (about 4 oz)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp agave or maple syrup
1/4 cup veggie broth or water

Tzatziki Ingredients:

1/4 cup soy yogurt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 small clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup grated cucumber (about 1 small cucumber)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pocket Ingredients:

1 whole wheat pita, cut in half and toasted (use good-quality storebought or one of these recipes)
1/2 of a large tomato, sliced
Handful of mixed greens
1/4 of a small red onion, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Prepare the tempeh: Place a steamer basket in a pot of water and set to boil. Place the tempeh strips in the basket, cover, and steam for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small baking dish, whisk together the garlic through veggie broth or water. Once the tempeh has finished steaming, place the strips in the marinade, and place the baking dish in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

Prepare the tzatziki: While the tempeh bakes, in a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the tzatziki ingredients. Set aside.

Assemble the pockets: Open one of the pita halves and spoon some tzatziki into it. Layer the mixed greens on one side, three strips of tempeh on the other side, and one or two tomato slices in the middle. Spoon some additional tzatziki over the top, and finish off with a couple small slices of red onion.

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Until next time, Ali.

Broccoli Crunch Snack Bites (with Flavor Variations!)

You know how once a zucchini plant establishes itself in your garden you’ll find yourself with a constant supply of zucchini such that the little green squash works its way into your every meal? In the 21-person vegan cooperative where I live, we have no zucchini plants or any sort of garden, and yet last week we experienced the same phenomenon of single-veggie overload with that rascally cruciferous known as broccoli. Midway through last week, multiple shelves in our refrigerator suddenly overflowed with green florets, as if our grocery shoppers sensed an impending broccoli drought in New York state and thought it best to prepare by purchasing the nearby market’s entire stock of the veggie.

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Hypothesizing that my housemates would not consume this wealth of broccoli before it began to yellow and wilt, I sought to prepare a snackable goodie that would use up a substantial amount of broccoli and that my housemates would gobble up in no time. Enter the broccoli crunch snack bite. One of my co-workers at Compassion Over Killing last summer first introduced me to the idea of coating broccoli in a blended mixture of nuts, spices, and liquid—similar to those used to coat raw kale chips—before dehydrating it into a bunch of crunchy, flavor-rich, super fun nibbles. Drawing upon this preparation method, I employed the leftovers of an almond sour cream that I had prepared for dinner the previous evening to coat the broccoli and popped the florets into our house dehydrator. Hours later (no one ever said that dehydrating was a speedy process), three enormous heads of broccoli had reduced down to a couple trays of savory snack bites, and a couple hours even later, all of them had disappeared into the bellies of my housemates. Mission accomplished.

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Below you’ll find the base recipe for the crunchy broccoli goodness, followed by a number of flavor variations as well as directions for baking the bites in the oven if you don’t own a dehydrator.

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Broccoli Crunch Snack Bites—Can be Raw, Soy Free, Oil Free, Low Sodium.

Makes 5-6 cups.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup almonds, soaked 8 hours or overnight
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup or agave (use agave for raw variation)
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cups water
3 large heads of broccoli, separated into florets

Blend the ingredients almonds through water in a high-speed blender until smooth. Place the broccoli florets in a large bowl, and pour the dressing over the broccoli. Toss well to coat. Spread the coated broccoli on as many dehydrator trays as you need to fit all of the broccoli, and dehydrate at 110°F for 12-24 hours, or until dry and crunchy.

Oven Variation:Preheat the oven to 400° and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until crunchy.

Chili Cheese Variation:Add 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 clove garlic, and 2 tsp chili powder to the blended ingredients.

Spicy Maple-Chipotle Variation:Increase the amount of maple syrup to 2 tbsp and add 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp chipotle power to the blended ingredients.

Coconut-Peanut Butter Variation: Increase the amount of maple syrup or agave to 2 tbsp and add 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut, and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the blended ingredients.

Bright Miso Variation: Add 1 tbsp light miso, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 small clove garlic, and 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard to the blended ingredients.

Smoky “Bacon” Variation: Increase the amount of maple syrup or agave to 1 1/2 tbsp and add 1 tbsp tamari, 1 tsp smoked paprika, and 1/2 tsp liquid smoke to the blended ingredients.

Cool Ranch Variation: Add 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp dried dill, 2 tbsp fresh chives, and 1 tbsp fresh parsley to the blended ingredients.

Recipe submitted to Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays, Recipe Wednesday, and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Until next time, Ali.

Salted Caramel Date (or Fig) Loaf

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About one year ago, as I scoured the boards of Pinterest, I came across a recipe title that widened my mouth agape and my tongue lolling: Salted. Caramel. Date. Loaf. Faced with perhaps the most perfect ingredient pairing in all of baking-dom (caramel? And dates? In LOAF form?!?!), I of course clicked on the recipe…only to elicit disappointment. Featuring butter, eggs, heavy cream, white flour, and refined sugar, this particular iteration of Salted Caramel Date Loaf did not comprise something that I wanted to put into my body, largely due to the harm that it would inflict upon the non-consenting bodies of chickens and cows.

I moved on, X-ing out of the webpage and opting not to save the recipe on my extensive “Recipes to Try” Word document. But the recipe lingered. It lingered in the culinary-inspiration node of my brain as I prepared my breakfast that morning. It lingered as I attended my classes that day. It lingered as I started on a Geography essay that night. I wanted to find research articles on the commodification of human body parts in the global organ trade, I really did, but darn it all, that Date Loaf simply begged to be made.

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So I made it. And I made it vegan. And I made it free of refined flours and sugars. And I’ve made it for the twenty members—some vegan, some not—of my on-campus living cooperative about three or four times now, eliciting all but the kissing of my feet and near-weekly requests to replicate the loaf. Once you create this loaf for yourself (and I would very highly recommend, if not insist, that you do), you’ll understand my housemates’ enthusiasm. Dense, moist, succulently yet naturally sweet, and boasting pockets of sticky caramel, this loaf will leave you marveling at the possibility that such utter perfection can result from less than ten ingredients and a stint in the oven.

This loaf utilizes unrefined coconut sugar for the caramel, though I’m sure that Sucanat would also do the trick. I’m not certain, however, that either maple sugar or date sugars would work, as I don’t know if their physical properties would allow them to melt in the necessary manner. I’ve not experimented with this recipe using a gluten-free flour blend, but I have no reason to doubt that one would work. If you find yourself without flaxseed meal, you can substitute equal amounts of psyllium husks—but double the amount of water that you mix with them (six tablespoons instead of three). Finally, as you’ll note from the title, this loaf tastes equally decadent with the substitution of dried figs for dates. I’ve made the fig variety of this loaf about twice now, yielding terrific results on both occasions. Okay, enough with the introductions—get thee to a kitchen stat because you need this loaf in your life.

Salted Caramel Date (or Fig) Loaf—Soy Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat.

Makes one loaf.

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup medjool dates (or dried figs), chopped
1 cup hot water
6 tbsp coconut oil, room temperature
1 1/2 cups light spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp flaxseed meal mixed with 3 tbsp water (mix before you start making the rest of the recipe)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium saucepan, place the coconut sugar over medium heat. Stir the sugar gently (and constantly so that it doesn’t burn!) until it melts and caramelizes completely. At first, it will seem like the sugar will never melt, but have patience, because it always does (yay for physics!). Turn off the heat and stir in the water, chopped dates, and coconut oil. The mixture will probably harden as you do this, but don’t fret—simply place the mixture back over medium heat so that it re-melts.

Once the mixture has re-melted, lower the heat all the way and keep the caramel warm while you prepare the rest of the loaf. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Pour in the caramel, flaxseed mixture, and vanilla extract, and mix well to combine completely.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 30-60 minutes before slicing and experiencing the most intense culinary epiphany of your life.

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Recipe submitted to Recipe Wednesday, Healthy Vegan Friday, and Wellness Weekend.

Until next time, Ali.