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adventures in vegan munchies

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Nutty carrot split with minty carob sauce

I had a really wild notion this morning. I was thinking over my meals for the day and was feeling very sad for myself that pudding wasn’t on the menu. Eating cakes and brownies and all sorts of treats nearly every day (because baking is fun!) is not so great, even when it’s relatively healthy. It’s still dessert, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not a nutritional necessity. I decided to make something that incorporated a number of necessities and still spoil myself…and probably only myself, since Man-thing’s reaction made it clear that this experiment bordered on the insane.

He’s a sugar monster, and I am a carrot monster. Ergo, carrot split! As much as I like the occasional banana, it feels like a bit of a waste to eat one outside of emergency hunger pangs (such as occurred this morning), or in smoothies and brownies. Carrots, however, are a different story. They may turn me slightly orange for a few hours after consumption (much to the horror of family), but they are so utterly versatile and delicious, that there cannot be any doubt that they can easily present themselves at any meal of the day without shame. For this dessert I wanted to use ingredients that were on hand – not have to make ice-cream or buy strange ingredients. Result? Success! Glee? Endless!

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Veggie sweet potato gratin with cashew ‘crumble’ (GF)

 Today we went over to the wonderful in-laws to catch up and have some serious talks regarding various life matters. On the more fun side of things the MIL and I dashed out to buy clothes whilst the men-folk were nattering about the fire they were making, and we also got some amazing gifts from their cruise around the Mediterranean. I’m always so happy and blessed to have such amazing people in my life, because I chose them specifically to be my family. Their endless kindness, warm-heartedness and ability to draw one into their nest so quickly and effortlessly is one of the big reasons I married Man-thing. Family is extremely important to me (and him!), and with such people one is pretty much set for life in terms of unconditional love and support.

When I phoned my FIL during the week sometime to hear what I should bring, he was asking random questions such as do I eat soy mince, and mash, and what not.  We show up today and he had made the most delicious shepard’s pie all for me with mushrooms and rocket and wauw – I was so spoilt! Never mind that it was tasty (because he can most certainly cook), but the idea that he and my MIL spent time gallivanting around the shops to make something just for this silly vegan really made me have to gulp down some happy sprinklers that were threatening to burst from my face.

Whilst I munched on that, I had made them their own side dish of a sweet potato gratin. My FIL is diabetic so sweet potato is excellent for him, and luckily my MIL also loves it. Simple yet delicious, methinks. After doing much research I realize that bread crumbs is the way it’s done on top, but I was rather twitchy about carbs atop carbs, and plus there’s nothing better than a bit of nuts to give a different flavour to the dish.

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Sprouted zucchini pasta with sun-dried tomato sauce

I always try to have some side projects going when it comes to baking/kitchen-faffing. A while back I got an awesome three-tier bean sprouter from my colleague Marmiet, so I’ve been sprouting beans for the past week and they have suddenly gone ballistic on us. I’m not sure if they’re over-sprouted (is there such a thing?), but I simmer-boiled (totally a thing) them for 10 minutes with the idea to dash them into all our salads, because we are SO frakkin excited to have made our very own!!

topsproutschick-1res mungbeans-1resI wanted to do something fun with this first batch of mutant sprouts (because the “normal” sprout collection at the supermarket seems very much more subdued than my lot), so with that in mind I set out to make myself a mean “raw” pasta (and in the process break a thousand rules regarding what is actually raw, whoops!). Either way, it is awesome. :D

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Apple streusel coffee cake (gf)

According to William Shatner, yesterday was National Coffee Cake Day. Well. If Monsieur Shatner says so, it must be. I decided to make some last night (so technically it was made on NCCD) to bring to work today, since every Wednesday a bunch of lasses have decided to meet up and have a quick half-hour coffee/lunch vibe on campus. Much like the banana crisis, we also had two bags of apples to get rid of, and what a wonderful way to munch through the little buggers – covered in cake! Yes please!

This…is so sweet, so delicious, so UTTERLY indulgent! I usually forgo non-natural sugar but HOMG I completely see why people are determined to bake with it in lieu of more natural options, because yowza! I still cut out some of the sugar where I could and replaced it with natural vibes, but oh yes, there is no messing around with this cake and it is worth it! Caramelized topping with lovely apples fried in chili ginger jam atop an oat cake sensation steeped in happiness? You know, those cakes where you take one bit and suddenly your face bursts out into a big grin? This may just be the sugar talking but damn. This is not an everyday cake…or perhaps even something you eat once a month. This is “special occasion tea party/William Shatner said so/life is sad” cake.

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Upside down banana + cranberry blondie cakes (gf)

The banana fest continues! I still have so many left, but luckily the internet is here to help. Admittedly it doesn’t aid my electricity bill any, after promising myself to be good and make things only once or so a week. I think at some point I need to dedicate a day to bake all sorts of monstrosities that I’ve been desperate to try out and then go donate them at the orphanage where I used to volunteer years ago. I know from experience that babies + crying + poo nappies = desperate need for comfort food, or at least something better than P&J sandwiches. Not that I scoff at the lordly impact of such a fine treat, but babies drive me crazy beyond the point where sandwiches can save me. Still, I went to go learn about babies before my sister was born so that I wouldn’t be an ass and mishandle her, so I owe that place a lot in terms of teaching me patience and building human connections with babies, even though Man-thing and I don’t plan to have any of our own.

So off topic! Today’s feast is a banana blondie, I guess! I’ve been eyeing this deliciously easy and yummy looking recipe from over at Including Cake for a while now, and decided it was time (past time, in fact, judging by how squishy my bananas were!). Some changes were made, but either way the scaffolding of this recipe is a win.

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Buckwheat-oat banana brownies (gf)

I’ve been sitting with a bag of over-ripe bananas for a while now, and I can’t bring myself to use them in smoothies since I got a box of delicious mangoes that I’ve been keeping in the freezer for that purpose to go with pumpkin. Bananas are fantastic as natural sweeteners in baked goods. They also provide that extra bit of squish and binding that one needs. Supreme in its yumminess! I decided to make some quick brownies to send with Man-thing to my female pals at the archives on campus, as healthy treats. If I bake as much as I did last night and kept it all for myself and Man-thing we would struggle to fit out the door to get more ingredients!

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Striking gold! Stevia, pumpkin-berry smoothies and giant zucchinis

A while back Ann from An Unrefined Vegan was awesome enough to host a competition in conjunction with NuNaturals, and guess who was one of the winners? That’s right, your local delinquent! I’ve been on the edge of my seat for a while now, because overseas shipping makes me nervous (hello, lost Amazon books?), but Man-thing sent a message yesterday that everything had arrived in one shiny box. Huzzah! He had to go look after my MIL’s African Grey whilst they gallivant on a cruise ship, so I had a whole evening to scour the internet looking for recipes to try out with my new bounty. In the end I decided to wing it, because I wanted to use as little ingredients as possible, and as little chocolate as possible (because yikes, overindulgence has been the keyword for the past month or so). Unfortunately “winging it” doesn’t always lead to success. So back to the drawing boards I go! That doesn’t mean I am not beyond excited about my free goodies – come take a peek!

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The best part of all this is that I actually got a free prize even though I live far, far away from the magical land of the US, where all these glorious giveaways usually take place – oh so privileged and stoked to have gotten something in the mail!

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