Coconut cake is one of my favorites as is coconut ice cream and coconut candy. I add coconut to many things I cook, sweet potatoes and cornbread being two. Still, coconut cake gets me everytime. Mrs. Nashveggie made a delicious coconut cake this week and after raving about it on Twitter requests came in for a recipe. Many know I’m not a recipe person but Mrs. Nashveggie is. She has quite a few of her own and uses others from time to time. So here’s the recipe for a delicious vegan coconut cake. It’s perfect for a warm evening. This recipe makes a three-layer cake. The image above is a single round layer. I didn’t want to over-indulge.
Mrs. Nashveggie’s Vegan Coconut Cake
1 cup Earth Balance orignal, softened at room temperature 2 TBS egg replacer combined with 1/2 cup of water 1 1/2 cup vegan sugar 1 cup unsweet coconut 2 1/2 TSP vanilla extract 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (you can use almond milk but it may lend an undesirable flavor) 1 TBS vinegar 3 cups all purpose flour 1 1/2 TBS baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease, flour three 9″ round pans, 2. Beat earth balance, sugar, vanilla and coconut with a mixer. When combined mix on high until fluffy for about 3 minutes. 3. Combine baking powder and flour in bowl. in a second bowl mix soy milk, vinegar and egg replacer mixture. Add dry ingredients and wet ingredients slowly to mixer bowl a little at a time each, alternating each until all is added. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl to be sure all of Earth Balance and ingredients are mixing. Pour batter into pans. 4. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick is inserted into middle of cake and comes out clean. 5. Cool in pan on wire cooling rack for 30 minutes. Flip pans to remove cake and cool for an hour.
1 cup Earth Balance original, softened at room temperature 1 TSP vanilla extract 3 cups confectioners sugar 2 TBS water 2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1. Cream Earth Balance with mixer at high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. 2. Add water, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract and mix again on low for 30 seconds scraping sides of bowl to be sure all is combined. Whip at high for 2 minutes until fluffy. 3. Add 1/3 cup of coconut and mix with spatula to combine.
By now everyone has heard of the Engine 2 Diet and its Plant-Strong plan focusing on meals of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and whole grains. The bestselling book, The Engine 2 Diet, by Rip Esselstyn has been in the news and is seen in every Whole Foods which has developed a healthy eating guide based off the diet plan called Health Starts Here.
Health Starts Here is a program developed by Whole Foods and is an offshoot of the very popular Engine 2 Diet which has been proliferated lately by the movie Forks Over Knives. Helath Starts Here follows what is called a four-pillar approach to food:
Eat whole, unprocessed foods.
We believe that food in its purest state — unadulterated by artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives — is the best tasting and most nutritious food available.
Eat a colorful variety of plants.
No matter what type of diet you follow — including those with dairy, meat or seafood — reconfigure your plate so the majority of each meal is created from an abundance of raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Eat healthy fats.
Get healthy fats from whole plant sources, such as nuts, seeds and avocados. These foods are rich in micronutrients as well. Work to eliminate (or minimize) extracted oils and processed fats.
Eat nutrient dense foods
Choose foods that are rich in micronutrients when compared to their total caloric content. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
The diet emphasizes the use of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. It also makes a strong case against the use of added oils encouraging all fats come from those already found in foods such as nuts and cooking using vegetable broth as a replacement where oil is typically used such as sauteing.
Chef Chad Sarno gives a Health Starts Here cooking demo for Salud! at Whole Foods Green Hills
We were invited to a Health Starts Here event by Whole Foods Green Hills culinary demonstration that was instructed by Chad Sarno. Sarno is a classically-trained chef and a co-founder of the Health Starts Here program. He has owned vegetarian restaurants in London, Turkey and the US.
The demonstration class focused on dishes that could be made quickly and preparing ingredients in bulk to make the prep quicker. Cooking enough beans for a week’s worth of meals. Making sauces in portions to be used for many dishes as well as full dishes that could be kept in the refrigerator for easy lunches.
All of the meals prepared used no oil and no salt. In place of salt Sarno had created as seasoning mixture he calls Wicked Good Spice and Seed Blend, a mixture of sesame, sunflower seeds, flax and nutritional yeast. Instruction was given in making your own almond milk as well as a basic white sauce. The quick and simple Kale Avocado Salad was one of the most surprising dishes created. Kale, tomato, avocado, onion and the juice of a lemon made a very flavorful and satisfying salad without need for any extra seasonings. Quick and simple it can be kept in the refrigerator for a grab whenever the craving came.
I could easily go on about the dishes but it’s best to just give you some recipes. Give these a go and don’t worry about the omission of salt or oil where you may be accustomed to adding them. They’re unnecessary. The flavors pop in these.
Wicked Good Spice and Seed Blend
1/2 C Sesame Seeds, dry toasted 1/2 C Sunflower Seeds, dry toasted 1/2 C Golden Flax Meal 1/2 C Nutritional Yeast 2 TBS Onion Powder 1/2 TBS Chipotle Spice 1 TBS Garlic Powder Black Pepper
Toss all together and store in shaker or air tight container. Great all purpose seasoning.
Kale Avocado Salad
Kale Avocado Salad
This is a very simple, quick and delicious dish. Completely raw.
1 head of kale, any variety, shredded 1 large tomato 1 1/2 avocado, chopped 2 TBS red onion, green onion or leek, finely diced Juice of 1 lemon Pinch of cayenne
In mixing bowl, toss all ingredients squeezing as you mix to wilt the kale and creaming the avocado. Serve immediately.
Basic White Sauce
1 C raw cashews, soaked (or tofu) 1 1/2 onion diced & steam fried in veggie stock 2 garlic cloves 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk 1 1/2 Cup low salt vegetable stock 3 TBS Nutritional Yeast Pepper to taste
Saute onions and garlic with stock and steam fry until onions are translucent. Add to blender with soaked cashews, soy/nut milk and rest of ingredients and blend adjusting thickness to desired consistency. Add fresh herbs to finish. Sauce will reduce and continue to thicken on its own with time. Use as a base for any other sauces.
Chad Sarno has a return visit planned for Salud at Whole Foods Green Hills with a class on vegan cooking. The class is set for sometime in April/May. I’ll post dates and more on it when information becomes available.
Vegan Nogs: So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog, Rice Dream Rice Nog, Silk Nog and Earth Balance Soy Nog
Egg Nog. I once guzzled that stuff by the carton this time of year. I’m a nog lover. A connoisseur of the nog. AficioNOGdo. If your nog is off then I’ll know it. I’m on top of the nog. Etcetera etcetera… Let’s not think about the sugar and fat content in a glass of that drinkable pudding. I think it’s very tasty but of course since the vegan switch years ago egg nog has been off limits. Silk has had their variant on the shelves this time of year for a few seasons and now were confronted with other entries in this holiday guzzle-fest. I welcome them all but only want the one that tastes best and can hold up, as in coat the side of the glass, like a true nog should. No thin watery stuff. Nog should to be thick.
Looking on the shelves in the cold section of the grocery store this season I was greeted by the usual entry by Silk, a good standby when you just have to have the nog but I also found some new ones. So Delicious has a coconut milk version of nog and Earth Balance has their own nog as well. One I was surprised to find is Rice Dream Nog. You won’t find this one in the refrigerated section, it’s in a septic pack.
I have four choices now for my nog fix and a decison needs to be made as to the best vegan nog available. The best way to make such a decision and not be skewed is a blind taste test, Pepsi Challenge style. Four glasses blindly filled and letters corresponding to each nog placed in front of each glass. With paper in hand for notes on each nog this nog tasting was ready to get serious.
Vegan nog blind taste-tasting ready to begin. Each glass filled and with a corresponding letter.
Top view of nogness. Note color.
Tasting was not limited to just me. Mrs. Nashveggie and The Kid also participated. Mrs Nashveggie is not the most avid nog fan and it shows in her opinions but it’s still good to get such an objective view included. The Kid, on the other hand, likes most anything sweet.
A – Rice Dream $2.99/32oz
My first thought when seeing Rice Dream Rice Nog is it’s not supposed to be pink! Getting past the pinkness and tasting this overly watery drink left little flavor. There are what appears to be spices in the bottom of the glass so that’s a plus but the only one. Pink, watery, bland. F
Mrs. Nashveggie: Too pink! I don’t want to taste it… Sweet and chalky.
The Kid: It tastes good.
B – Silk Nog $2.69/32oz
I’ve tried this one before but it was still a little hard to pick out from the four. As a usual standby in recent years when I’ve had the urge for some nog it has stood up well. Being critical though, I could point out flaws as well as high points. Silk Nog has a good flavor. There’s nutmeg flavor you can pick out that should be there though the one flaw that makes this one fall is its consistency. While not as thin as Rice Nog it definitely could stand to be a little less runny. B
Mrs. Nashveggie: Did you put something in this? Smells like yogurt. Tastes like rum.
The Kid: I like this one. I think it’s my favorite.
C – Earth Balance Soy Nog $2.69/32oz
Earth Balance is known for their vegan butter substitutes but lately they have branched out into other endeavors such as mayonnaise and, more-notably, soy milk. Their seasonal offering of Soy Nog is likely my favorite of the four. It does have a good consistency and could hold up to a brandy, if that’s what you like. The flavor is a little lighter than I prefer but overall this is a good choice. A-
Mrs. Nashveggie: Gagged. Too thick.
The Kid: It tastes a little sour. Just a little sweet.
D – So Delicious Coconut Nog $2.99/32oz
I’m no fan of coconut milk beverages. I find them generally fatty tasting and off-putting. I do like coconut but everything has its place and coconut milk isn’t meant to be swilled like a bottle of cheap malt liquor. With that said So Delicious Coconut Nog had the expected consistency. Thick and rich and that works here. It has that right but that about the only thing. I thought I was drinking liquid candy! So sweet! My teeth hurt after drinking this. I couldn’t taste any spice, if there is any for the overpowering coconut flavor and booming sweetness. For those that want an alternative to soy you have this and Rice Dream Rice Nog to choose from. If I was forced to choose one of the two this would be it. For that reason alone I’ll give it a letter grade up. C-
Mrs. Nashveggie: Where’s the spoon? Thickest one. Tastes too much like coconut milk.
The Kid: This one tastes like coconut. Eww.
The clear choice of vegan nogs is Earth Balance Soy Nog. A good balance of everything though not perfect. Still, faced with the decision when these four on on the shelf it would be the one to come home from the grocery store with me.
Those are my opinions on the nogly offerings you’ll find this season. Suffice it to say Mrs. Nashveggie is not a Nog fan and I’ll not likely let The Kid near that much sugar at a time so I’ll be drinking what’s left of the nogs. Each of the four have room to improve, some more than others. Hopefully next year someone will have the perfect nog. I can hope.
When the weather cools down I crave comfort foods. Even better is a one pot comfort food. Nothing is quite as comforting and filling as dumplings. For this recipe I made my own seitan. Making your own seitan is quite easy and you can find plenty of recipes for doing it. I’ll post my seitan recipe later but if you don’t already have a recipe or you’re just not comfortable making it yourself you can always buy it pre-made. You can usually find it beside the tofu in Whole Foods or other grocery stores if you’re so lucky to find one that carries it. It’s very expensive to buy pre-made seitan versus making it yourself so if you start to rely on seitan for much of your cooking you’ll want to get into making it. Your cash flow will thank you.
This recipe is one I made from my little of this, little of that method and worked it to the right spot. I posted this recipe a few years ago but have tweaked it since and I think it’s worth posting again. Try this one on a cold, damp day.
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
1/3 cup Earth Balance
1/3 cup flour
16 oz seitan torn into small pieces
1 small onion finely diced
2 medium carrots peeled and diced into small cubes
2 medium potatoes peeled and diced into small cubes
1 TSP salt
1/2 TSP black pepper
2 TSP marjoram
Melt Earth Balance in large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender. Remove onion and set aside. Add flour to the melted Earth Balance remaining in the pot and create a roux. Add water and stock gradually stir or whisking to remove any clumps. Add all other ingredients. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
For the Dumplings:
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 TBS shortening or Earth Balance
1 TSP baking powder
1/2 TSP salt
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 TBS lemon juice OR 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
Add vinegar or lemon juice to the soy milk and set aside. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Using a fork cut in the shortening or Earth Balance and mix until only small clumps remain. Add the soy milk. Mix with a spatula or fork until a large wet dough ball forms. You’re needing a sticky mass not a dry clump. If your dough is too dry add a little more milk. Roll out dough on a floured board until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut rolled dough into 1 inch wide strips and cut strips into smaller lengths, about 2-3 inches long. Place dumplings on top of soup and let cook covered on medium-low heat undisturbed for 15 minutes. After cooking stir dumplings into soup and cooked covered for another 30 minutes on medium-low heat stirring occasionally.
After going through all of the notes I made on our trip to Portland and all of the food pictures I took, as well as the non-food pictures, I’ve come to realize that I could be writing a post a day. I don’t have the time to write a post a day and that would have me wriiting about Portland up until my next Portland trip. I’m not going to do that so I’m going to touch on a few of the highlights of the food portion of our trip and maybe a conglomeration post with a few tidbits of what’s left over with the pictures that are left.
I am a veggie burger lover. I will make one at home on occasion and always skip the frozen ones opting for fresh. If you’re looking locally in Nashville for a decent one in a restaurant you could always go with J. Alexander’s which makes a pretty good one. However, in Portland I encountered the best veggie burger I’ve ever had in a restaurant. For lunch one day we searched out Off The Griddle, a small food cart on the corner of SE 50th and SE Division. Serving nothing but veggie burgers, both vegan and vegetarian choices, you knew they had to have it down and would serve up a killer burger. No disappointments. All of Off The Griddle’s burgers are mostly organic, homemade and served on Dave’s Killer Bread. Dave’s Killer Bread is another anomaly of amazing food goodness but I’ll try to give you more on that later. The cart is also solar-powered. Solar-powered, homemade, mostly organic and vegan. How can you possibly beat that? Make the best veggie burger you’ll ever eat.
We ordered the Smoky Bleu Burger, topped with tempeh bacon, spinach, onion and a vegan bleu cheese sauce that was so close to bleu cheese that it had me questioning it’s vegan authenticity. Our second choice was the daily special, a Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger. This one had the usual inclusions, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and sweet pickles but also a great tasting curry coconut tahini sauce that made the burger perfect. Both burgers were, of course, vegan and had great texture. They weren’t mushy and didn’t fall apart. These could be the perfect vegan veggie burgers.
Smokey Bleu Burger
Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger
There’s ample seating available in the food cart pod so you don’t have to search our a place to sit on the street or walk with your food. These tasty burgers are prepared fresh to order so grab a seat and wait for the most amazing veggie burger you’ll ever encounter.
If I could get to Off The Griddle right now I would. If I could have the veggie burger perfection that I found at Off The Griddle right now I would. However, that would be a 2,351 mile trip and I don’t have enough time during lunch to get there and back. Next trip to Portland, though, it’s on!
Walk up and order the best veggie burger you'll ever eat. The special the day we visited was the Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger. Whatever it is the day you visit it's sure to be delicious.
Vegan and vegetarian veggie burger choices galore. Time to get your veggie burger eats on!