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Vegan Ranch Dip

Editors note: We’re glad to bring you content from others in our community that are committed to a vegan lifestyle. This post is from Cheryl Still, who is working this summer with a local farm bringing wonderful produce to our local farmer’s markets. If you missed her previous post, check it out. This post takes a vegetable that’s plentiful in Michigan right now and gives you a great recipe!  Fresh and crisp raw vegetables—the amazing flavors of seasonal Michigan summer produce. Sugar snap peas, carrots, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers are just a few of the vegetables that aesthetically please the eye with their bright colors while the fresh flavors and crisp textures satisfy the tongue just as much. Looking for a flavorful dip for your summer veggies? I’ve got just the one—a tangy and cool ranch dressing made from raw cashews and coconut cream, exploding with the flavor of fresh herbs. Keep reading to the end for the recipe. I made the dip for the first time while preparing for a camping trip this summer. It blew my mind! As soon as I got back from the camping trip, I made it again to enjoy with more fresh veggies from the farmers market. I would recommend it for using as a veggie dip, salad dressing, or anywhere you crave the fresh flavor of ranch…even for dipping vegan pizza into. The original recipe comes from a book that has become one of my vegan cooking resources: The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutes: The Latest and Greatest Methods for Veganizing Anything Using More Natural, Plant-Based Ingredients by Joni Marie Newman and Celine Steen. Not only does this book suggest substitute ingredients and alternative products for veganizing recipes and dishes, but the authors also provide directions for making these substitutions in your own kitchen. Helpful lists of meat, egg, and milk substitutes are charted out in this book along with recipes and side-by-side recipes veganized from their original animal product ingredients. I’ve found the information in this book to be educational as I veganize recipes and try out their published recipes, including this vegan ranch dip. Give this dip a try! I wasn’t disappointed. It’s another great way to compliment the great flavor of fresh veggies and herbs this summer.   Ranch-Y Dipping Sauce Original recipe from The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutes. Adapted by...
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Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Editors note: We’re glad to bring you content from others in our community that are committed to a vegan lifestyle. This post is from Cheryl Still, who is working this summer with a local farm bringing wonderful produce to our local farmer’s markets. If you missed her previous post, check it out. This post takes a vegetable that’s plentiful in Michigan right now and gives you a great recipe!  Looking for great recipes to highlight the bountiful crop of zucchinis right now in Michigan? This time of year, I’m on the lookout for recipes that incorporate this highly nutritious vegetable in new ways. Do you easily get bored of straight-up zucchini? These nutrition packed muffins bring a satisfying chocolatey sensation. Instead of tasting zucchini, you taste chocolate.  The applesauce, almond milk, and zucchini provide moisture, and the airy muffin texture is brought through the baking soda and the natural fruit acid from the applesauce. So thankful for more delicious uses for zucchini. Enjoy! Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins Original recipe from Ambitious Kitchen. Veganized and adapted by Cheryl Still. Ingredients 3/4 c. oat flour (old fashioned oats ground into a flour) 1/2 c. whole wheat flour 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder 1 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. salt 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted (or substitute 2 Tbsp. unsweetened plain applesauce) 1/3 c. agave nectar or pure maple syrup (or more if you desire a much sweeter muffin) 1 tsp. pure vanilla 1 and a half flax eggs (1.5 Tbsp. ground flax seed + 4.5 Tbsp. warm water) 1 cup peeled and shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini) 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce 1/2 c. almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk) 1/2 c. regular-sized or mini dairy-free chocolate chips Directions 1. Stir together the ground flax seed and warm water in a cup and set aside for at least 10 minutes to thicken. 2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 3. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. (You could rub the inside of the liners with some extra coconut oil or cooking spray and then dust liners with cocoa powder if desired to enable easy removal from the liners, but this is not a necessary step.) 4.Squeeze the peeled and shredded zucchini of excess water with a paper towel. This is important, so don’t skip this step. 5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat and wheat...
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Buckwheat Corn Cake Recipe

Over the weekend we had some friends over for a Mexican fiesta. The spread was pretty epic, complete with tempeh taco meat, seasoned tofu and Mexican jackfruit filling along side slow cooked pinto beans, Mexican rice, a brussels sprout/broccoli slaw, vegan nacho cheese and all the fixin’s! I usually go overboard and this time was no different. I wanted there to be a little nibble before the main event, so I tried to think of a great way to start a Mexican fiesta. While we were on our European vacation, we had these unbelievable corn cakes (traditionally called Arepas) at Terre à Terre in Brighton, and that’s what I wanted to do a (MUCH) simpler version of. I came across this recipe from Inquiring Chef and adapted from there. With one of the party guests being gluten free, substitutions were made for buckwheat flour in place of regular flour. If you’re not worried about gluten, the 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour can be easily replaced with AP flour. I also added in red bell pepper for some color. It’s an incredibly adaptable recipe. Wanna add some spice? Go with cayenne and maybe add some cumin or fresh jalapeño! I’m pretty happy with how these turned out. Easy and delicious!   Buckwheat Corn Cakes 1 1/2 cups cornmeal 1/2 cup buckwheat flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 red bell pepper, small dice 2 cups frozen corn 3/4 to 1 cup water 3 Tablespoons canola oil In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, buckwheat flour, baking powder, and salt. Add corn and mix just until combined. Add the water, 1/4 cup at a time, and stir just until the mixture holds together. Create evenly sized cakes (I used a 1/8 measuring cup. Place the cakes on a cutting board or plate. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Cook in batches until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until golden brown. I precooked mine, just going about 2-3 minutes, and then reheated later in a 220 degree oven – that worked out perfectly. Serve the corn cakes warm, topped with whatever you like. I went with tofu sour cream and chives, but a guacamole, or fresh avocado would work nicely....
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Not all sugar is created vegan

Ever heard of bone char? It’s got a few names and according to wikipedia, you may also know it as bone black, ivory black or animal charcoal. It’s a pretty gruesome process as you can imagine, but the short of it is, animal bones are baked in an low oxygen environment to create a charcoal of sorts. It’s a 200 year old process, first patented in 1812! The applications for the finish product are plentiful. Tricalcium phosphate, the resulting product is used as an anti-caking agent in spices. Also this stuff is used in cheese, and as a raising agent. But the trickiest use of them all for vegans, is as a refining agent for sugar. Thankfully we live in a time where raw and natural sugars are more easily available. But sugar is in so many prepared foods. Is the sugar that went into those products vegan? So here are our questions for you. 1. Were you aware of bone char and it’s relationship to the refinement of sugar before you read this post? 2. If yes, are you concerned about your sugar? 3. Do you go so far with sugar to make sure that any product you buy that is made with sugar has only vegan...
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Latest Escapades in the Home Kitchen

Been a while since we’ve blogged! We’ve definitely been up to stuff, and I am anxious to hear your thoughts on a few things. First question! Have you tried the new Daiya Cheese Wedges? We’ve been a fan of the shredded cheese from these guys for a while, but the wedges are the next level! Believe me, I was skeptical about them. Vegan cheese that’s good enough to eat right from the fridge on a cracker? Seriously, if you haven’t tried them yet, do it! They come in cheddar, jack and a jalapeno-garlic havarti. Just like the shredded version, they melt but as previously mentioned, these wedges are good just to eat raw. Among other things, I’ve made a seriously delicious nacho cheese sauce with them. Look for them at Harvest Health and Apple Valley stores across the GR area. Ironically the second part of this post is about making an effort to move away from the processed products. As we all know far too well, being vegan or vegetarian can often become a diet full of the tofurkeys and other products out there to help fill a need for something meat-like. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we decided that we wanted to try to cut back on those things – in favor of a more whole foods type diet. We initially looked into a cleanse, but I’m not a big fan of anything that involves starving myself – no matter what the outcome may be. So after a bit of googling, we’ve decided to just focus on eating more salads, and less processed food. Also, the plan is to cut alcohol for the next month. So the second question is this; have you tried any “cleansing” diets? What were they and how did they make you feel? And lastly, a confession. I cook A LOT but I am the world’s worst food blogger. Even if I intend to, I never take photos through the process, and I never write down what I put in, how much, and how I did anything. But I made a really tasty taco “meat” from tempeh the other night – it was delicious and very easy, so I thought I’d try to let you know how I did it… Tempeh Taco Meat 1 8 oz. pkg Tempeh (any kind works here) About 1/2 cup of water Taco seasoning Teensy bit...
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Our Favorite Cookbooks

I love to cook at home. Turning my favorite meals vegan has been one of the best parts about being vegan. It’s made me more creative in the kitchen, and I definitely think more about ingredients and what they mean in a recipe. That being said, I am no professional chef. All of my cooking skills have been learned on the job, often with a cookbook to help guide. I wanted to share my favorites and see what cookbooks you use, as I am always on the search for new inspiration! Mark Bittman is one of those people who I would list on my “ten people to have dinner with” lists every time. He’s one of the best minds in the world on the future of food on this planet. “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” obviously isn’t a vegan cookbook, but it’s as instructive about food and technique as the Joy of Cooking was for a previous generation. There’s plenty of vegan stuff in here, or at least notes on converting a recipe to animal product free. Not every recipe is a hit, but there’s 1,000+ pages of awesome here that are sure to help inspire gourmet cooking in your own kitchen. Anyone who cooks at home, and is a vegan, must know Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Proprietor of the food blog, The Post Punk Kitchen, she’s also a prolific cookbook author. Best known, probably, for her book “Vegonomicon,” our two favorites are her book on creating a vegan brunch spread that will make you weak at the knees, and her book on cupcakes (whaaaaa? S’mores cupcakes? YES). Her sarcasm is an awesome bonus to go along with the collection of mostly very simple recipes. Her latest book, “Appetite for Reduction” is an awesome collection on how to live a healthy vegan lifestyle (harder sometimes than it should be!). The last aren’t actually cookbooks, but I feel I would be remiss to not mention a couple of vegan foodbloggers who really should have their own cookbooks. Vegan Dad is a crazy awesome foodblogger. This guy doesn’t let vegan stop him from making anything – you’ll find amazing walk throughs on everything from chocolate croissants, to veggie lunch meat and crispy cajun chickpea cakes (YUM). His work on homemade seitan really is worth a look. And I know I said above that these bloggers should have their own cookbooks, Vegan Dad...
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