Monday, January 1, 2018

Eat, Drink & be Merry this... Veganuary?

Whoa, two posts in one day, what is she, cray? 

Well, I don't know how much time I'll have after January the 8th when I get back into the writer's room and I want to hold myself accountable as well as offer support to you where I can, so yeah - two posts in one day my lovelies.

If you've decided to join me and try vegan for the month of January, thank you so much I always appreciate the company and you know how I love to moan about the hard shit so thanks for being here. If you're a hard-core carnivore and there is no way you could ever imagine your life as a vegan, but you've elected to try being a vegetarian for a spell - I'm so proud of you. I hope you enjoy trying some new food options. {My mother-in-law has been over this holiday from England and she lives on a dairy farm and she's been such an inspiration, rolling up her sleeves with me in the kitchen and pretty much going vegan. For the holidays! Whaaat? And she still loves me. Amazing

As for those of you out there who are already on the green brick road of a plant-based diet - thanks a million times over for paving the way --

Thank you for being the consumer that demanded more which has lead to fabulous options and recipes for newbies like me. I'm ever so grateful.

If Christmas day and New Year's Eve were anything to go by, we are going to want for nothing this month and who knows, by the time February rolls around, we might be so good at this vegan thing, it just may stick. 

First thing you need to know is I am no chef. I'm not great in the kitchen, getting me to try new things is like pulling teeth and I'm plain old lazy most of the time. However, since I had some time this holiday, I decided to go for it a little bit. Oh, don't get excited, I didn't step too far outside my square but I wanted to share what was created for these two rather momentous holidays {Christmas and New Year's Eve} to show you that if I can do this, then so can you. So can your child and likely so could a well trained monkey. I can't take credit for a single recipe here because as I said - not a chef - but Ima link you to all the stuff I tried. And you should also know that my Mother in Law made the bestest sous chef ever and I could not have pulled any of this off without her.

Lemme start with Christmas day. Like many of you I'm sure, I grew up on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy - plus some other less traditional stuff like cabbage rolls. Years back when I was vegetarian, I'd often relied on the old Tofurkey for special occasions, but since learning I had a gluten allergy, that option was glitterally {literally dressed up in glitter} off the table. So yeah, that's something else you should know - being gluten free presents its own challenges - but I'd always thought: Geez Louise, there's no way I could be vegan too, I'd starve to death. Au contraire my pretties. I've been extremely well fed these past few weeks.

Allow me to keep this as simple as possible. Our vegan Christmas feast consisted of homemade Tofurkey --

If you'd like the recipe, go here. It was kind of a lot of work, but nothing so complicated that a kid couldn't do it if they followed the directions. But I'll be honest - I didn't love it. Sad face. I think I may have preferred just plain old baked tofu. 

All was not lost however --

We also made vegan gluten-free stuffing, with vegan gravy {which was out of this world and I was eating straight out of the pan, lil piggie me} mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, steamed veggies and really awesome vegan cabbage rolls {again, I couldn't get the rice mixture in the cabbage fast enough because both my MIL and me were eating it straight out of the pot} so when I go to do this over, and I definitely will next Thanksgiving - I'd do it all exactly the same, but save the effort on the tofurkey and bake my tofu. Simple. Check out the spread.

As you can see, I did NOT in fact starve, rather I was STUFFED! I did have extra stuffing which I wrapped in foil and baked and it was still fabulous, so no need for the tofurkey.

Now listen, I know we're not going to go to the trouble of all this every time we get in the kitchen to make a meal - very few of us are Martha Stewarts - so I wanted to keep it plain easy for New Year's Eve.

What we came up with was filled with familiar nibblies and comfort foods that could easily be made for your carnivore family or friends. {I mean my MIL loved it and she makes a roast dinner every Sunday night so that should tell you something right there.} Again, I didn't want to do anything too off the wall. I thought, I want appies that we can snack on through the evening, be light enough not to put us to sleep, but hearty enough to carry us through to the midnight hour. So we created a menu of favorite finger foods and simply made the vegan alternatives. It was a snap! Take a look.

Complete with champagne! 

Obviously we wanted a good selection of fresh veggies which we served with hummus and a delicious smoky cauliflower and white-bean dip {added bonus, because this dip is made with awesome stuff like cauliflower, beans, and tofu, when I found we had leftovers, I molded it into pancakes and fried them in a pan for brunch New Years Day. Omigod - it was even better the next day warmed up! Two-for-one}

Along with the veggies we had a good selection of crackers - both gluten free and regular - and all we had to do for those was open the box. Yay for small victories! These were served with olives and a beautiful vegan walnut mushroom pate and that was the hit of the night! Brilliant.

And as anyone who drinks champers knows, it's easy to get carried away so you should always having something bread-ish to soak up the booze so...

We had fantastic bruschetta on French stick as well as GF bread, along with bites of fresh snappy guacamole in crunchy mini tortilla bowls.

To finish off the snacks, I had a hankering for something warm and chewy, dare I say... meat-like??  Yikes. And I'd had all the tofu I could handle so I found a wonderful stuffed mushrooms topped with an unbelievable vegan parmesan cheese. I am not even kidding, I was eating the stuffing and fake cheese right out of the bowls before I could get it into the baked mushrooms . Another huge hit.

Sorry I'm not a food photog but trust me, these little babies tasted way better than they looked. I'm telling you, I didn't miss the cheese tray one bit and that was ALWAYS my first and favorite stop at any party.

I also really enjoyed browsing through these vegan cooks' websites. There is so much inspiration out there, we only need google.

I hope this has inspired you to try something plant-based or new.  Once again, all the best for a sparkling 2018 my beauty.



  1. Your feast looks truly wonderful Shan! Well done for trying out the Tofurkey recipe, shame it wasn't better. I slipped up yesterday but today I've been 100% on Veganuary and loving it. Also watched Forks Over Knives again today, which was a great memory jogger as to why I'm doing this. Roll on Vebruary, Varch, Vapril, Vay... :-)

    Oh, and I deleted Easy Tasty Clean site and the book off Amazon today too, time to remove things I'm no longer 100% behind :-)

    1. Thanks Janice. I'm sure if I was eating the tofurkey made by the person who posted the recipe it would have been fantastic, but I'm limited in my abilities. I love that you're on board for Veganuary and that you watched the film again.
      Veguary! Varch! So great. Onwards and upwards.
      Hey I was thinking of that cookbook of yours on New Year's Eve because I was imaginging doing the small stuffed mushrooms in the big mushrooms like your cottage cheese ones - make them vegan is what I'm saying. How cool.
      I think it's so bold of you to take it down because you don't feel it represents your believes. Proud of you my friend.

    2. Beliefs, not believes. lol

    3. Thanks Shan. It was a relief to ditch the old book. Maybe there'll be a new one in me soon... ;-) I like the idea of taking old recipes and working them a new way though, good idea. x

    4. I think you have a fantastic foundation in that original book that you could easily adapt to a new way of eating and how great would it be to share that journey of health and compassion in a new book? I think it would be lovely.

    5. I've already had a few people say they'd like an update with my more up-to-date information and recipes, so maybe later this year it'll come to life :-) x