Monday, December 30, 2019

Best Hummus Recipe (Extra Garlicky, Vegan, Gluten-free, Low Fat)

Here you have what our family has come to call the BEST Hummus.


Because to our tastebuds, it is just simply the best tasting hummus!  

Where the recipe calls for 4+ Garlic cloves?  We really amp that up-- I think I used 7 today.

There is no olive oil or other oils-- just the tahini-- to carry to oily mouth feel.  Please feel free to add a little olive oil if you desire.

We enjoy the smoky taste of tahini, but if it tastes a little "off" to you, go ahead and use peanut butter or some other nut or seed butter (hemp seed would be tasty).

We likely use about a 1/2 - a full teaspoon of sea salt, but really not much is required if you trust the garlic and tahini to carry the flavour.

I also buy dry garbanzos and cook them up in my Instant Pot (electronic pressure cooker) until they are soft (today's batch of beans were kind of old and I had to cook them for a record-breaking 40 minutes on the bean/chili setting, but normally 20 minutes in the pressure cooker works fine.  Organic chickpeas from scratch works best for us.  But chickpeas from a can will work.

I used a blender today.  A potato masher, or even a fork, also does the trick.

The red sprinkle is organic Hungarian Smoked Paprika.  Go ahead and garnish with what you like: olive halves, cayenne, Middle Eastern spice blends, capers, minced garlic.... you're the chef!

If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy my recipe for BEST Garlic Bread-- (yeah, lotsa garlic)-- found with 3 great pasta recipes (scroll down on the page when you get there)

Sunday, December 15, 2019

5 Traditional Christmas Fruit Cakes Vegan-ized

When I was a young married woman, eons ago, the making of the Christmas cake (or "fruit cake," the recipes also interchangeable with "wedding cake") was still a big tradition in many families.

The recipe ingredients included a lot of dried fruits-- some that looked and tasted not anything like the original fresh fruits-- and the usual feasting culprits: sugar, dairy, eggs and alcohol.  The preparation that went into the cakes generally involved a lot of soaking (in alcohol) that could extend to many days.  With all the ingredients in, your typical fruit cake was dense and heavy enough to be used as a door-stop, if need be.

There were "light" and "dark" fruit cakes in my family.  The light cakes probably used less soaked fruits and were baked for a shorter period of time?  The dark cakes had a slightly bitter, burnt taste.  I preferred the light cakes that my Auntie Geneva baked every year and sent out.  They were sweeter and tended to have exotic fruits (i.e., exotic to our traditional recipes) like dried apricots in them.

But none of those fruit cakes has a particularly fond place in my memory.  I baked several myself over those novice years, and they were expensive little bricks, basically.  Unhealthy, too.

The vegan Christmas cakes I have chosen to review have some features of the original cakes I knew, but of course they also do NOT contain eggs or dairy (or suet or whatever other animal product folks thought was necessary to make the cake "rich.")  Just the removal of the animal products is enough to make the cakes more easily digested, and cerainly, over the long term, eliminating animal products such as dairy and eggs from your diet will reduce your risk of getting cancer, etc.


1. Chocolate Fruit Cake - with only 4 ingredients!
To get this very easy recipe for chocolate fruit cake, go to the Southern In-law site HERE

This cake was developed by a serious chocolate lover.  There is no added sugar, no alcohol, and of course, no eggs or dairy.  It also does not contain any added oils or fats, and NO gluten!

You would have to look pretty hard to find a fruit cake (well, any cake) to satisfy so many diet sensitivity issues.

Kristy, who put this recipe out there, is coeliac, so we know that she has to be very careful about avoiding any ingredients that can spark a serious digestive upset.  She can not tolerate the usual dried citrus peel, for example, and uses cranberries in lieu.  I know there are a lot of us cranberry lovers who find even just this part of the recipe intriguing!

If you were drawn by the chocolatey promise of this fruit cake and plan to give it a try, I'd love to hear your comments below the article!

2.  Naturally-sweetened Christmas Fruit Cake

             Find the recipe for this naturally-sweetened cake at Strength and Sunshine

Here is another cake designed by a coeliac baker to share with all other folks who have issues with gluten.  The recipe uses apple juice and erythritol for sweetening.  She does allow for any powdered sweetener of liking (some folks have issues with erythritol).  Like Recipe #1 above, this recipe does not contain alcohol, although it does call for "rum extract"-- that would be up to the baker, I guess.

Did you give this recipe a try, or do you plan to?  I would love to hear about it in your comments below the article!!

3. Easy Peasy 3-Ingredient Fruit Cake

This is the easiest-to-make Christmas vegan fruit cake so far. @ Wendy's Kitchen Table
This particular 3-ingredient fruit cake was certainly the easiest-to-make of all the cake recipes I looked at.  Besides the original 3 ingredients (self-raising flour, dried fruit, orange juice+ water) you can play around with additional ingredients of your liking.  This cake reminds me a little of Panettone (Italian Christmas bread) idea.  Maybe more like a large muffin?  If you give it a try, please let me know and we will publish your "review" here!  (please comment below)

4. Vegan Jamaican Christmas Cake

       Find this delicious spicy, Jamaican traditional-veganized cake recipe @ Healthier Steps

This recipe for vegan Jamaican Christmas Cake has all the bells and whistles for someone who is desirous of eating healthy over the holiday, while not wishing to pass up any of the yummy desserts that others are enjoying-- gluten-free, NO alcohol, and, of course, no eggs, dairy or animal proteins or fats.  Michelle Blackwood, the author of Healthier Steps, substitutes grape juice for alcohol in this recipe! And then there are the wonderful spices from the Caribbean added in just the right measures to fill your kitchen with heavenly aroma as the cake bakes and cools.  

If you try this, I would be ever so grateful if you took a few minutes to comment on what you thought of this particular recipe for vegan Christmas cake.  (comment below)

5. Steamed Butternut Squash Fruit and Nut Pudding

Steamed Butternut Squash Fruit Pudding is such a delish Christmas dessert! @Veggie School 
The above steamed pudding is technically NOT a cake, I know.  But I decided to include a vegan, gluten-free Christmas pudding when I went looking for a picture of the Unbaked Fruit Cake from my old, dog-eared copy of "Eat for Strength" cookbook from the Seventh-day Adventist Uchee Pines health community.  The recipe for the unbaked fruit cake is a combination of  4 cups of raisins, dates and other dried fruits soaked in 3/4 cup of water and 1 cup of fruit juice, and then a cup of whole wheat bread crumbs and 1 cup of nuts and/or seeds are combined and pressed down in a loaf pan before putting it in the fridge to set.  But NO recipe and no picture.  Lots of recipes for an old graham-wafer-marshmallow mash called "unbaked Christmas fruit cake" but it wasn't vegan.

Sooo... the last cake is this delightful Christmas pudding that I really love, and you probably would too.  This is contributed by Wyona Hertwig who conducted many many vegetarian / vegan Seventh-day Adventist "cooking schools".  This recipe, simple and tasty, is found HERE.  Please enjoy!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Christmas Tree Alternatives

courtesy of Pixabay
Yes, I too love the traditional Christmas tree-- the fragrant pine or the standard luxurious artificial tree with the built in LED lights that never need to be strung or removed.  But this year I thought it would be fun to have something in one of the corners of a room that was NOT a traditional tree as defined above.   The best place I find for ideas is on Pinterest


Pretty easy representation of a small tree.  More like a wreath.  But shaped like a tree, so it passes.  Get a pair of knit mittens and stuff them with greens-- fake here, but you could use fresh cedar, etc.

2. The Gentle Woodlands Tree Hanging ..

Alternative Christmas Tree ideas - Christmas decorating ideas - DIY Christmas decor - Different Christmas tree styles
Image Sourced from OHbaby
This is a simple and sweet stylized Christmas tree that would look good on any wall.  Drill some holes in some sticks of lessening lengths, put string through to take on the triangle tree shape, and hang (or perch) your choice of whimsical decorations on the stick branches.  Weave some lights in.

   3. The Wonderful Light-ness of Christmas

33+ Amazing Christmas Tree Light Decor Ideas #christmas #christmasideas »
                                         And then there was lights-- just lights!

This might work quite well if you have a ceiling hook that was originally designed for a hanging plant.  I have a few of those in my 70s house.  Even when my husband re-painted the ceilings, he replaced the hooks for the hanging plants.  Hmm.  Perhaps he was envisioning this light tree!  

4. The Scent of a Christmas Tree...

Christmas Tree Alternatives
When the bough bends....   Wedding Chicks

I really like this as an alternative to the artificial tree we have been putting up over the recent years.  A pine branch or a cedar bough-- all good.  The fragrance will be lovely.  There will be needles, but that is the cost of enjoying natural ions right in your home!  It appears that this tree is hung with tiny pots of Tillandsia or air plants.  Wouldn't my household spider just love this!

5. The Book Worm's Tree

Inspiring Christmas Tree Alternatives Ideas For Small Space 02
The Light At The End of the Semester   Trendehouzz

So, there you are!  Five interesting alternatives to your usual Christmas tree to whet your creative juices during this jolly season!   All the best!  Enjoy yourself!

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