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 {7-18-14}

This Saturday, I will review/reviewed (depending on what day you read this post) Terry Hope Romero’s new cookbook Salad Samurai on Episode 236 of the Our Hen House podcast. For all you OHH listeners looking for the giveaway I promised, head over to this post. Thanks for entering!

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.

Welcome to the seventh installment of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (#NewsandChews)! Get ready for a smoky-sweet summery pizza, an equally summery and oh-so mouthwatering creamy dessert, the best vegan “egg” salad on the planet, viable and inspiring solutions to our current crisis of democracy, the refugee crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, and a necessary read for all intersectional activists. Shall we?

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

BBQ Pulled “Pork” Pizza with Mango Salsa and Cashew Cream
via The Sweet Life

Photo via The Sweet Life.

Photo via The Sweet Life.

I have an understandably enormous love for barbeque sauce – smoky, sweet, tangy…what’s not to adore? Indeed, in my pre-vegan days I never actually consumed a pulled pork sandwich, but frequently found my mouth watering over Food Network programs featuring the southern American favorite. Now that I no longer consider pig’s flesh to serve as sustenance, I experience just as intense of a desire for heartily textured chewiness coated in the perfection of barbeque sauce. Sarah’s vegan rendition of pulled pork – using hearts of palm – would surely satisfy this desire, especially when coupled with refreshing mango salsa and cooling cashew cream. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go make a pizza

Sweet

Peanut Butter & Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches
via She Likes Food

Photo via She Likes Food.

Photo via She Likes Food.

Minimal-ingredient banana soft serve ice cream (no ice cream maker required). Dense, chewy peanut butter cookies. The infallible combination of bananas and peanut butter. The singular impeccability of peanut butter itself. If all of these factors combined into one recipe doesn’t constitute a revelatory dessert experience, then I no longer have any interest in sweet treats. Just to make sure, I guess I’ll have to recreate Izzy’s recipe here (twist my arm, jeez. I’ll sub coconut sugar for the brown sugar, though, and omit the chocolate chips).

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Tofu “Egg” Salad Sandwich with Buffalo-Maple Cauliflower
Original Recipe

tofu egg salad sandwich & maple-buffalo cauliflower 1

This week’s best dish doesn’t actually have a recipe to go along with it, as I created it on a whim with the bits and bobs in my dwindling refrigerator. To half a block of frozen and defrosted tofu, I added vegan mayo, Dijon mustard, scallions, and a crap-ton of herbs and spices, to surprisingly produce one of the tangiest, creamiest, most flavor-packed vegan “egg” salads I’ve ever experienced. For the cauliflower, I combined a generous helping of homemade red hot sauce with a bit of maple syrup to coat the cauliflower, then roasted it all in a 450°F oven for about 30 minutes for sticky, spicy, sweet, mapley goodness. An impeccable dinner, the recipe for which you can expect later in the summer.

Must-Read News Article

Crowdsourcing Our Way Out of the Crisis of Democracy
via Kevin Zeese & Margaret Flowers at Truthout

Photo via Truthout.

Photo via Truthout.

In the midst of a ridiculously false notion of “democracy” held up by conventional powers in America, this article truly gives me hope by offering viable alternatives to our broken political (and, consequently, economic, civil, social, etc.) system. So often we focus on critiquing the ills of society – a necessary practice, no doubt – while failing to take concrete action toward not reform, but revolution. The endeavors cited in this article take this hugely important action, and I feel newly inspired by them. Maybe if we can actually implement them, we’ll end up with a nation modeled after Spain’s “communist utopia” of Marinaleda, eh?

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Humanitarian Crisis at the Border
via Radio Dispatch

Photo via Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press, at Al Jazeera America.

Photo via Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press, at Al Jazeera America.

While most coverage of the staggering numbers of unaccompanied Latin American minors arriving in the U.S. refers to the situation as a “border crisis,” John and Molly at Radio Dispatch accurately assert that we should actually regard it as a refugee crisis. In Latin American countries like Guatemala and Honduras, children live in rampant poverty and fear of violence, and are essentially seeking asylum in the U.S. As Fernando Protti, regional representative for the U.N. refugee agency told the Associated Press, “They are leaving for some reason. Let’s not send them back in a mechanical way, but rather evaluate the reasons they left their country.” In this episode of the Radio Dispatch podcast, John and Molly explain this urgent situation and its political nature in accessible terms.

Other quality news stories regarding this refugee crisis come from Al Jazeera America, Counterpunch, Mother Jones, and Think Progress.

Book Recommendation

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center
by bell hooks

Photo via Free Thought Blogs.

Photo via Free Thought Blogs.

I don’t think the words exist to describe how pivotal and essential a role this book has played in my psychological growth as an intersectional activist – and with only 160-some pages! hooks critically analyzes the popular feminist movement of the 60s and 70s, pointing out that it worked toward achieving equal power to men for upper-class white women, rather than seeking to end hierarchies of domination for all people, regardless of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, etc. Offering much progressive theoretical knowledge for the development of liberatory social movements, this book will certainly endure much page-tearing and tea-staining as I read it during my every waking free moment. Pick. This. Book. Up. Now.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {7-11-14}

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.

The sixth installment of Vegan Chews & Progressive News features two creative and decadent animal-free recipes for traditionally animal-based dishes (one savory and one sweet); a gorgeously composed salad out of a much-anticipated cookbook; problematic coverage of recent developments in the Israel-Palestine conflict; the racist practices of the National Security Agency; and a book that every food justice advocate should have on their shelf.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Filet O’ Chickpea Sandwich with Tartar Sauce Slaw
via Keepin’ It Kind

Photo via Keepin' It Kind.

Photo via Keepin’ It Kind.

Kristy’s culinary creativity never ceases to amaze me, and she showcases her talent once again in this summery, sea-inspired sandwich. I’ve found myself on a vegan “seafood” kick lately, craving chickpea “tuna” salad sandwiches and experimenting with vegan smoked salmon from Sophie’s Kitchen in an animal-free, homemade version of bagels and lox. As such, Kristy’s fried chickpea-artichoke patty topped with creamy tartar sauce-coated slaw is supremely exciting my tastebuds. Plus, there’s vegan mayo involved. And man, I love me some vegan mayo.

Sweet

Hazelnut Mousse Parfaits with Strawberries & Pretzels
via Artful Desperado

Photo via Artful Desperado.

Photo via Artful Desperado.

The other night, I had the immense pleasure of dining at V-Note, an all-vegan bistro on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and reveling in their creamy, silky-smooth, decadent, rich, mind-boggling rendition of tiramisu. The dessert featured coconut cream, coffee-soaked pastry, and chocolate syrup layered in a glass tumbler, parfait-like. Still reeling from the experience of the tiramisu, I feel called to this Hazelnut Mousse Parfait, especially considering my deep adoration of hazelnuts. Paired with salty pretzels and juicy strawberries, this mousse may just pave my path to replicating my tiramisu-induced happiness.

Be sure, of course, to use cocoa included on the Food Empowerment Project’s approved chocolate list to ensure that you don’t contribute to the slave practices of the vast majority of the global chocolate industry.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Raw Cobb Salad
via the Choosing Raw cookbook by Gena Hamshaw

raw cobb salad

I’ve eagerly anticipated the release of my dear friend Gena‘s cookbook for over a year now, and I’m absolutely thrilled to have its physical manifestation gracing my bookshelves today. While you’ll have to wait until later in the summer when my in-depth review of the cookbook will be featured on the Our Hen House podcast, my excitement for Choosing Raw the cookbook overflows such that I feel then need to offer you all a sneak preview. As part of my recipe-testing for the OHH review, I recreated Gena’s Raw Cobb Salad – an expertly composed dish of lettuce drizzled in a creamy, smoky red pepper-cashew dressing, topped with rows of succulent heirloom tomato, buttery avocado, homemade tangy cashew cheese, and crispy eggplant bacon. A rainbow of flavors in a rainbow of a plate.

Must-Read News Article

What Fuels the Violence Against Palestinian and Israeli Youths?
via Counterpunch

Mourners carry the bodies of fighters Osama al-Hosomi and Mohammed Fasih during their funeral in Gaza City, 27 June. The two were killed and a third was wounded in an Israeli air strike. Photo via Ashraf Amra, APA Images, Electronic Intifada.

Mourners carry the bodies of fighters Osama al-Hosomi and Mohammed Fasih during their funeral in Gaza City on June 27. The two were killed and a third was wounded in an Israeli air strike. Photo via Ashraf Amra, APA Images, Electronic Intifada.

While heated for years now, the Israel-Palestine conflict has received considerable media attention in the past week due to the murder of three Israeli teenagers in occupied Palestinian land. Problematically, however, the coverage of this event has largely failed to mention Israel’s 60-year campaign of occupation against the Palestinians, as well as the collective punishment that Israel has unleashed upon the Palestinian population. Such punishment has included destroying Palestinian homes, farms, and Mosques; abducting over 600 Palestinians; and bombing the people of Gaza with 34 air strikes in one night. This article from Counterpunch fleshes out the pro-Israel media coverage surrounding these events, as well as speculates upon what drives Israel’s abuse of the Palestinian people.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Spied on for Being Muslim? NSA Targets Named in Snowden Leaks Respond to U.S. Gov’t Surveillance
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

This week, the newly launched NSA-whistleblowing site The Intercept published a lengthy investigative report based upon documents leaked by Edward Snowden that identify five prominent Muslim Americans spied on by the National Security Agency. Glenn Greenwald, a founding editor of The Intercept, joins the Democracy Now! team to discuss how “the only thing [the five spied-on individuals] really had in common is that they are all politically active American Muslims. And that seems to be enough in the intelligence community to render these people suspicious.”

Also in the segment, Democracy Now! airs a video from The Intercept of Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim civil rights group. Nihad responds to the government surveillance he experienced:

“I was not aware that I was under surveillance, except recently. And I’m outraged that as an American citizen, my government, after decades of civil rights struggle, still the government spies on political activists and civil rights activists and leaders. It is outrageous, and I’m really angry that despite all the work that we have been doing in our communities to serve the nation, to serve our communities, we are treated with suspicion.”

Wonderful coverage of a hugely important report revealing the intensely racist practices of the U.S. government.

Book Recommendation

Stuffed and Starved
by Raj Patel

Photo via IndieBound.

Photo via IndieBound.

I would call Raj Patel’s book Stuffed and Starved a must-read for anyone involved in or concerned with the global food justice movement. The captivatingly written book recounts Patel’s investigation into food systems around the world, uncovering the reasons behind famines in Africa and Asia, the rampant poverty of farmers in Latin America due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and more. In doing so, Patel clearly displays that the enormous power of controlling the global food system lies in the hands of just a few wealthy corporations and governments. Once you pick this book up, you honestly will not want to put it down (nor should you!).

In solidarity, 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!

Untitled

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.

CB-PintMochaMaca-1

CB-PintCherry-1

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.

Spring Panzanella with Vegan Parmesan Croutons

The springtime—with its bounty of green gems of produce like asparagus, peas, artichokes, and fava beans (hear more about all of these on my recent appearance on the Our Hen House podcast!)—has sparked in my memory a recipe that my mother and I enjoyed often during our pre-vegan days. A creation of our past Top Chef sweetheart Michael Chiarello, this innovative, spring-inspired take on panzanella (Italian bread and tomato salad) featured lightly cooked spring veggies and parmesan-coated croutons in a basil-asparagus puree, topped with shavings of ricotta salata cheese. Every iteration of this salad that my mother and I made offered a brilliant amalgamation of fresh and unctuous flavors and contrasting textures.

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While the past four springs have passed without my attempt at recreating such an artful salad (well, artful except for the exploitatively manufactured butter and cheese…), the urge to once again experience the dish’s symphony of tastes and mouthfeels recently overwhelmed my gastronomic sensibilities. To veganize the parmesan croutons, I employed a commonly invoked technique of the world of vegan cheese-making, and blended nuts with nutritional yeast for a parmesan-like cheesy sprinkle. Tossed with coconut oil-coated bread cubes, this nourishing vegan parm—packed with vitamins B12 and E, not to mention tons of umami—yielded croutons quite flavorful enough to shine alongside the fresh spring veggies of this exceptional panzanella.

Fresh nut ricotta from Kite Hill (photo courtesy of Kite Hill).

Fresh nut ricotta from Kite Hill (photo courtesy of Kite Hill).

Instead of the ricotta salata, I dotted the composed salad with fresh cashew-and-macadamia ricotta from the much-hyped vegan cheese company Kite Hill (now, excitingly, available at Whole Foods in the fancy cheese section!). While this cheese will blow your mind with its firm creaminess and deep tanginess, if you can’t find it, a homemade cashew cheese would work quite well.

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Hurry on over to your local farmers’ market, for asparagus season won’t last much longer! And I assure you: you’d be remiss to allow a whole ‘nother year to pass without reveling in this mouthwatering, substantial salad. Happy springtime!

Spring Panzanella with Vegan Parmesan Croutons—Soy Free.

Serves 4-6.

Parmesan Crouton Ingredients:
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp raw almonds or walnuts
2 tbsp raw cashews
Pinch of lemon zest
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
4 cups day-old whole grain bread, crusts removed and cubed (I used Ezekiel brand bread)

Panzanella Ingredients:
1/2 small head of radicchio, cut into ribbons
1 lb asparagus, trimmed
Freshly ground black pepper & sea salt to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
5 tsp lemon juice, divided
1 large handful of arugula
1/2 cup-ish Kite Hill firm ricotta (or homemade cashew cheese)

Make the parmesan croutons: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, pulse the nutritional yeast, almonds, cashews, salt, and lemon zest until crumbly. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the melted coconut oil. Add the nut mixture and toss to combine. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the croutons are crisp and lightly browned. Set aside.

Make the rest of the salad: Fill a medium-sized bowl with ice and cold water. Place the radicchio ribbons into the ice water and let sit as you prepare the rest of the salad.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Cut the asparagus in half, separating the tender tips from the more woody ends. Once the water is boiling, blanch the asparagus tips for one minute, then remove from the water with a sieve. Set aside. To the same water, add the asparagus ends and blanch for 3-5 minutes or until tender.

In a blender or food processor, puree the asparagus ends (not tips!), basil, 3 tbsp of the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, combine the parmesan croutons, asparagus, peas, and scallions. Add enough of the asparagus puree to coat the mixture lightly and evenly. Add 4 tsp lemon juice and toss again.

Drain the radicchio ribbons and dry with either a salad spinner or a clean dish towel. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Place the dressed arugula on a large platter, then mound the crouton mixture on top. Dot the plate with the Kite Hill ricotta or spoonfuls of cashew cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays.

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.

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.