Vegan Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash

Some more comfort food for y’all in this chili weather. Get it? Chili! Haha. Alright, alright, I know. My jokes are terrible, but at least my food is tasty! Right?

ANYWAY, when I was a kid, my mom made the BEST chili. I know, I talk about my mom a lot. She was an amazing cook and is the person who got me interested in cooking. Before I was vegan I would prepare a lot of her recipes like jambalaya, chili mac, cabbage and noodles, and more. Since going vegan I’ve missed her food, so I have veganized a lot of it. My chili is no exception.

This simple and super easy chili recipe is a serious crowd pleaser. All you need to do for this killer recipe is toss everything but the squash in the crock pot before you head to work, or before you get busy with the kids, and 50 min before dinner time, pop the squash in the oven. And presto! A yummy meal the whole family will love.

Materials

Crockpot

Cutting board

Knives

Strainer

Ingredients

2 acorn squashes

Chili

1 cup dried black beans

1/2 cup dried lentils

1/2 cup dried chickpeas

1 15oz can crushed tomatoes

1 small yellow onion

1 Serrano chili, seeded and minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small carrot, diced

1 rib celery, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

1 cup chopped kale

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp lime juice

Vegetable broth

1 tbsp salt, plus more to taste

Toppings

Vegan cheese

Cilantro

Sliced cherry tomatoes

Green onions

Plain, unsweetened vegan yogurt (optional)

Instruction

Measure out your legumes and place in a strainer. Rinse thoroughly and place in your crock pot. Mix in all the veggies, EXCEPT THE KALE, spices, and tomato sauce then fill the crock pot the rest of the way with the vegetable broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Preheat over to 400° F.

Wash the acorn squash then slice them lengthwise (from stem to end) and remove all seeds. Drizzle or brush with olive oik and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack for 50-60 minutes, or until soft.

While the squash is baking, chop the kale and place it i the crock pot. Prepare all other toppings.

Fill each squash with chili then cover with toppings. Enjoy hot!

Tips

To avoid having to wait an hour for your squash to cook, try cooking it the night before and warm it up in the oven before you plan to serve it.

Conclusion

This is one of my favorite cold weather meals! My partner loved it so much, he didn’t even realize it was 100% vegan, and was downright shocked when he found out. He claims that he won’t go vegan, but he sure isn’t complaining when I feed him all my yummy vegan dishes.

Thanks for reading another recipe by The Vegan Mom. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and tag @theveganmom1 in your posts!

Sweet Potato Tofu Scramble

After making my vegan jambalaya for dinner last night, I had a bunch of leftover sweet potato I had cooked, but not used in the dish. Because I hate throwing anything out, I popped it in the fridge planning to use it in something the next day. I wasn’t sure what that would be at the time, but when I woke up this morning and saw that sweet potato, I was inspired. A couple of days I week I like to make a big tofu scramble with lots of veggies and oftentimes potatoes. But I had never used sweet potato before.

So, I pulled out the sweet potato, and a few other veggies I had in the fridge, and the experiment commenced. One of my favorite dishes is candies yams with walnuts, so I thought, why not throw some chopped walnuts in there too? I also had some vegan maple breakfast sausages to toss in there.

I wasn’t quite sure if this would be any good, but I had a really stong feeling that it just might be a hit.

Serves 4 or 5

Sweet Potato Tofu Scramble

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil or vegan butter

1 sweet potato, cooked and cut into bite-sized squares

1 cup fresh spinach

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped vegan sausage (optional)

4 large crimini mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 tsp turmeric

1 16oz package extra firm tofu

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro

Instructions

In a large skillet, warm the butter or oil over a medium high heat. Place the sweet potatoes, garlic, sausage, and mushrooms in the pan. Cook for 5-7 minuted, or until crispy. Add 2 tbsp of the nutritional yeast and 1 tsp of the turmeric to the mixture. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add in the chopped walnuts and spinach. Once the spinach has wilted, remove from skillet and place in a bowl. Set aside.

Drain the liquid from tofu, then break into small pieces with a fork. Toss into the skillet and cook out all the water. This will take about three minutes. Once all the water is cooked out add the rest of the nutritional yeast and turmeric. Mix thoroughly and toss in the sweet potato mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with avocado toast and fresh fruit.

Tips

Prepare your sweet potatoes ahead of time by peeling, chopping, and boiling them the night before. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Leftover scramble can also be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

Conclusion

This scramble turned out even better than I imagined. And now, I have lots of leftover that I will happily eat for breakfast tomorrow and the next day. I am so excited to try some different variations of this yummy tofu scramble.

Stay tuned for more, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @theveganmom1 for more!

 

 

Grocery Shopping Hacks: Save Time & Money

As parents, we’re always trying to save money and conserve energy whenever and wherever we can. After having my baby, grocery shopping soon became my least favorite thing. In my last blog post I talked about a produce delivery service I use called Imperfect Produce (IP). This helps me save a ton of money. If you’re interested, you can click here to learn all about it. But, and this is a big but, IP doesn’t deliver everywhere. Yet… So, I have come up with some shopping tips for you busy parents to help you save money and, of course, time.

This week, to give you a better representation of what the cost would be if I didn’t have access to it, I skipped my Imperfect Produce delivery. These hacks are a no brainer and include smart meal planning (we’ll go into detail below), using coupons and promo codes, and taking advantage of your local grocery store’s delivery service. For this experiment I shopped at Safeway, since there is a location less than a mile from where I live, and I often shop there for most items I don’t get from IP. To see if you have a Safeway location near you, click here.

How To Get The Biggest Bang for Your Buck

Smart Meal Planning

It’s one thing to plan your meals for the week, it’s another to do so smartly.  Let me explain.

1. Plan meals based around seasonal produce

Using seasonal fruits and veggies can help you save a ton of money. For example, in December here in California we are growing squash, root veggies, citrus, pomegranates, broccoli, and more. Use as many of these items as possible in your dishes since they will be cheaper than imprted produce. If you’re not sure what’s in season, a Google search will tell you all you need to know. Just make sure you take your region into account.

2. Keep It Simple

Choose a handful of fruits and veggies and plan all of your meals around those. No need to make things complicated. Because I’m a busy mom and no longer have the time or energy to prepare gourmet dishes, I like to come up with a few meals that are easy to throw together throughout the week. Here are five meals that I chose for this week, and their ingredients.

MONDAY: Acorn Squash Chili Bowl

INGREDIENTS:

Chilies, beans, lentils, corn, crushed tomatoes, spices, garlic, kale, carrots, onion, bell pepper, okra, cilantro, acorn squash, vegan cheese, green onions, hot chilies

ABOUT:

Chili is easy, delicious, and perfect for cold weather. Toss all the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and let it cook while you’re out running errands. Toss the squash in the oven when you get home and in 30 minutes you’ll be enjoying an amazing dinner. I decided to throw frozen corn into this recipe, and a couple others as well, since I already had some in my freezer that needed to be used up. Making use of what you already have is another great way to save money. I’ll talk about that more later.

TUESDAY: Jambalaya

INGREDIENTS:

Frozen corn, okra, yams, spices, tofu, vegan sausage, bell peppers, chilies, crushed tomatoes, rice, onions, celery, carrots, veggie stock, garlic, hot chilies, cilantro

ABOUT:

This is another great cold weather meal. Prep it early in the week, and store it in a casserole dish in the fridge for a quick and easy meal later on.

WEDNESDAY: Chickpea Pasta & Steamed Veggies

INGREDIENTS:

Chickpea noodles, vegan pasta sauce, mushrooms, vegan meatballs, spinach, carrots, vegan cheese, broccoli

ABOUT:

Everyone loves pasta! This meal is so easy to throw together, and cheap too. Before having my baby I would make all my pasta sauces from scratch, but now I simply don’t have the time. So I just pair my favorite vegan noodles ( I usually keep my pantry stocked in case I need to makea quick meal) and sauce with some vegan meatballs and steamed veggies. I also like to add more veggies into the store bought sauce to spice it up a bit, hence the mushrooms, carrots, and spinach (which I toss in at the very end).

THURSDAY: Miso Ramen

INGREDIENTS:

Noodles, miso, veggie stock, frozen corn, tofu, yams, carrots, spinach, broccoli, cilantro, green onions, mushrooms

ABOUT:

Before I was vegan, ramen was one of my all time favorites. It’s super easy to make, especially if you use miso paste for the broth. When I make ramen, I add whatever veggies and proteins I have left over from other meals. In this case, I have frozen corn, broccoli, yams, carrots, mushrooms, and tofu. You can add whatever veggies you want, which makes this super fun and different each time.

FRIDAY: Vegan Sausage, Garlic Herb Quinoa & Roasted Root Veggies

INGREDIENTS:

Vegan sausage, quinoa, carrots, onion, garlic, veggie stock, beats, turnip, potatoes, broccoli, spices, sweet potatoes, mushrooms

ABOUT:

Another easy meal. Cook your quinoa in veggie stock with garlic, herbs, and serve it with baked or pan seared vegan sausage and roasted root veggies. Yum!

As you can see, I used the same ingredients in most of my meals. But don’t worry, changing it up by using different spices and bases will keep it from becoming boring and monotonous. Just look at the variety I was able to produce with the same simple ingredients!

3. Stay Fresh

Try to avoid purchasing too many pre-made or packaged items. I know how hard it can be! Tofu and other vegan meats are okay, as long as you don’t overdo it. To save money you want to stick with grains, legumes, and fresh fruits and veggies as much as possible.

4. Stock Up

One of the best ways to save money is by stocking up on grains, seeds, nuts, flour, and legumes. Buy in bulk! It may cost you a pretty penny at first, but once you make that purchase, you won’t have to do so again for at least a couple of months.

Avoid purchasing canned goods since it’s a lot more expensive than purchasing dried legumes and such. My pantry is constantly stocked with dried goods that I store in glass containers. You don’t have to store them this way, but I find that it’s convenient, reduces clutter, and is a lot more efficient.

5. Use What You Have

Try to utilize the ingredients you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. If you have frozen veggies and dried black beans, plan to make black bean soup! You may need to purchase only a few ingredients.

6. Eliminate Waste

Instead of throwing out the rubbery carrot in your fridge, or the half eaten squash you know you won’t eat, make your own vegetable stock! Take all of your vegetable trimmings (yes, even those garlic and onion peels) and store them in your freezer. Once a week, toss all of the trimmings in your crockpot with some water and salt, and let it cook all day. Once it’s done, strain it and store the stock in either your fridge or freezer to use with your meals.

Use Coupon, Deals, & More

Go on the store’s website and take advantage of all of their offers! Safeway, for example, offers customers a club card. With it you get items for the club price, can upload coupons to your card, and get rewards points every time you make a purchase.

1. Coupons & Club Card

There is no shame in clipping coupons. Especially since these days you can do it online and don’t have to wait in the checkout line while the cashier scans them, all while trying to avoid making eye contact with the angry customers waiting in line behind you. With Safeway, you simply go onto their website and clip the coupons you want. They are then automatically uploaded onto your card and all you have to do is swipe it or enter your phone number at checkout. And BAM! Instant savings. And don’t forget to pay attention to the Club card prices as well. You can save a bunch just from that.

2. Deals

Stores often have BOGO deals, so make sure you keep an eye out for deals on products you often use and stock up if you can! It will save you money in the long run. You can often find these deals on the store’s website and add them onto your club card along with the coupons.

3. Delivery

You may have to pay a little extra, but shopping at a store that offers delivery will save you so much time! And we all know time is money. Especially for you mamas who have a new baby. I do 100% of my shopping while I’m nursing my 2 and a half month old baby. Talk about multitasking and being productive!

4. Promo Codes

The advantage to shopping online is that you can use promo codes. Before placing your order, always check to see what promos they are offering at the time. Sometimes you get free delivery, others you’ll get free items. Below is a screenshot of the order I just placed with Safeway. And before you guys get upset and say I’m a fake vegan, the honey is for my partner who is omni. Don’t worry, I’ll convert him someday!! Now, keep in mind that this is the cost of groceries for 2 people for the week. One who is a big muscular man, and the other (me) a breastfeeding mama.

 

Conclusion

As you can see from the screen shot, I saved over $30 on this purchase, and this is the price BEFORE all my coupons have been taken into account. I’m guessing I saved closer to $45, which is over 1/3 of the entire cost before coupons, promos, and other deals. Now, if I had used Imperfect Produce to get my fruits and veggies delivered this week, I would have saved even more since a 13 pound box only costs me $20 including shipping. Not bad eh?

As always my lovely readers, if you have any questions, please ask them below in the comment section. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @theveganmom1 for more tips and tricks. Ciao!

Imperfect Produce: Save Time, Money & The Environment

Hey moms (and dads)!

So, recently I’ve been looking for ways to make life just a little easier. When my car broke down and I was stuck at home with no way to get to the grocery store, I found a great solution!

Many years ago I worked for a company called Farm Fresh To You (FFTY). They specialized in delivering fresh, organic produce right to your door. While working for FFTY I also began to use their services.

It was pretty nice, but kind of pricey for the amount of produce the box contained. Still, it was convenient. At least that’s what I thought before moving into an apartment. The FFTY drivers would often not even try getting in the gate to deliver my box, even though I had left the code in the delivery instructions. After experiencing this a few times, I decided to ditch FFTY.

I was so bummed that FFTY didn’t work for me, and did a Google search to find other companies who offered a similar service. I had lost all hope until I discovered Imperfect Produce (IP). IP is very much akin to FFTY, but the boxes were so much cheaper and delivered at much more convenient times. Also, they had no problem getting into the gate. And now, with Amazon and IP, I barely need to leave the house to go shopping. Seriously, who knew shopping with a baby would be so nerve wracking? So much respect for you super moms out there who shop with three or four kids! I honestly have no idea how you do it.

Alright, let’s talk a bit about Imperfect Produce since I’m sure you have tons of questions.

Imperfect Produce

How Does It Work?

Every week, produce that is too “ugly” to be put on display in grocery stores is brought to IP and packed right into your box! Since what’s available will be different each week, a few days before your box is delivered you will receive an email to customize your box. My box, for example, is delivered on Monday, so I am able to customize it from 3pm on Thursday-11:59 on Friday the week before my scheduled delivery. You can choose what, and how much of each item, goes in your box. But make sure to read the quantity because you don’t want to accidentally order too much or too little of a particular item.

In addition to the amount, it will also show why the produce is not being sold in stores, and whether or not it is organic and non GMO.

If you’re not picky, or just like to be surprised, you don’t have to customize your box. It will arrive on your doorstep full of hand-picked goodies just for you. Most of the time I like to customize mine, but occasionally I decide to just be surprised and get to try things I normally wouldn’t buy.

The day of your delivery you will recieve a text with a link to track where your box is, and it’s approximate ETA.

You will also be texted when your box is dropped delivered. I wanted mine to be delivered at my front door, but if you want it dropped off somewhere else, you can specify in the delivery instructions.

And inside your box will be a beautiful assortment of fruits and veggies. BUT you can also get other items such as bread, flour, cereal, nuts, and so much more. In my next box I decided to add a bag of poppy seeds to put in my vegan breads and cakes.

Why Is It So Cheap?

1. The produce is often times locally sourced. Local seasonal fruits and veggies are always less expensive since they don’t need to be shipped from across the country, or imported from foreign countries.

2. It’s “ugly”. What I mean by this is that the produce you receive, though perfectly good, was deemed ugly, too big, too small, misshapen, in surplus, or not in high demand.

3. Did I mention that you’ll get $10 with your first purchase by clicking right  here?! You will also make another $10 each time someone makes a purchase using your referral link. Sounds like a killer deal to me!

Why Do I Use This Service?

1. It’s convenient! With a needy, breastfed three month old baby to care for, most days I can barely get off the couch to feed myself, let alone go grocery shopping. Getting a box from IP each week ensures that I will have delicious, nutritious snacks on hand every day.

2. It’s healthy! We all know that it is so much healthier to eat seasonal fruits and veggies. When customizing your box, each item will state where it came from. If buying locally sourced produce isn’t a concern for you, no need to even look. IP also has an option for an Organic box. Of course, that will cost a little more than one with non-organic produce. But hey, if cost isn’t an issue, go for it!

3. It’s cheap! Because I’m currently cooking for two adults, I get the medium-sized fruits and veggies box, which contains 11-13 pounds of produce. Including shipping, this only costs me about $20 for all my produce for the entire week. That’s a steal, especially considering you don’t even have to go outside!

4. It’s good for the environment! Because IP sends customers produce that grocery stores refuse to sell, using this service reduces food waste, thus is good for the environment.

What I Don’t Like

Not much really!

Last week I decided to try adding a few non produce items to my box such as poppy seeds, okara flour, dates, and almond milk. The poppy seeds and four were a great deal, but I wasn’t too impressed with the almond milk and dates. I only got a handful of dates. But that was my fault for not taking a closer look at the quantity. As for the almond milk, I payed three dollars for one quart. I could get twice that for the same price in the grocery store.

My advice? Do your research before buying any of the non produce items. Some of them are a really great deal, others not so much.

How Can I Get My Box?

The IP online platform is so easy to use! Just click here to head to the site. Once there, enter your zip code to see if they deliver in your area. If they do you can then create an account, choose your box and delivery frequency, and enter your payment info. It seriously can’t get any easier than that!

In Conclusion

I would recommend this service to everyone, vegan or not! So far, it has saved me so much time and money. Nust pay attention to the prices and quantity before adding items to your box. The only regret I have is that I didn’t discover this company sooner. So please, do your part in saving the environment and ending food waste. I promise you won’t regret it!

As always my wonderful readers, feel free to drop any questions you have into the comments section. If you purchase a surprise box and need some recipe ideas for some of the more odd items, comment below or email me to request some recipes. Another way to reach me is through my Instagram @theveganmom1

Vegan Comfort Food Recipes: Southwest Pasta

Alright, I know I’m not the only one out there whose partner isn’t vegan. It can be such a struggle sometimes to make meals that he and I will both enjoy. Oh, and did I mention that I’m the one who does All the cooking? Yup. And that means he expects me to cook meat for him. No thank you!

So lately I have been making him vegan meals without telling him they’re vegan until after he’s eaten them. This southwest pasta is one of those meals. He enjoyed it so much that now he frequently asks me to “make one of your vegan things”. His words exactly. He had no idea that the cheese sauce and chicken were both vegan and scarfed down every bite, then had seconds!

This pasta is creamy, cheesy, spicy, chock-full of delicious plant protein, and one of the best comfort foods for these cold nights. Oh, and did I mention how quick and easy it is to make? When I whipped this up for dinner last night it only took 20 minutes start to finish. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Easily serves a family of 5.

Southwest Pasta

Ingredients

2 cups frozen corn or the corn from four ears

2 (8-9oz) packages Rotini ( I like Barilla’s red lentil Rotini the best!)

1 package Gardein Chickenless Strips, OR 1 package extra firm tofu

1 (14-15 oz) can vegan chili (I used Amy’s Black Bean Chili)

2 TBSP olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced

3 cups vegan queso

Cherry tomatoes and cilantro for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Boil a large pot of water and cook pasta according to the instructions

2. While the water is boiling, prepare queso sauce. Click here for the recipe. Set aside.

3. Once pasta is cooked, drain all the liquid and place noodles back in pot. Mix the entire can of chili in with the pasta noodles and set aside.

4. In a large saucepan hear 1 Tbsp of the oil over medium heat. Add the diced bell pepper, onion, corn, and garlic. Cook until they are soft, then remove from pan and set aside.

5. Add the remaining 1 TBSP of oil to the pan, and cook chickenless strips until thawed. (If using tofu, make sure to drain and press the liquid before cooking. Cook until golden brown). Add the corn mixture back into the pan. Fry until the chicken or tofu are crispy, then mix in with the pasta.

6. Stir in the queso sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.

7. Garnish with sliced cherry tomatoes and cilantro if desired.

Recipe Notes

If cooking for small children, omit the chilies from the queso and add to your own plate after serving.

Conclusion

Your family will be so distracted by how delicious this pasta is that they won’t even realize it’s 100% vegan. Throw it together whenever you’re craving something cheesy. Toss it all in a baking dish, cover it with vegan breadcrumbs, and pop in the oven for a little extra yumminess. This pasta can be made in advance and warmed in the oven for a quick meal.

I hope you enjoyed my southwest pasta recipe! Don’t forget to tag me in all your Instagram photos @theveganmom1

DIY Yule Log: The Perfect Christmas Tree Alternative

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate cutting down trees. Not only are we killing perfectly good oxygen-producing trees, but we’re destroying habitats of countless species! And buying a fake tree is no better. Their carbon footprint is huge! So instead of cutting trees or buying a plastic one, why not make a Yule log?

Yule logs are cheap & easy to make, and incredibly beautiful. You can also use it for many years to come if you choose to.

What Is A Yule Log?

Origin

The Yule Log was originally a Nordic tradition that took place before medieval times in which an entire tree would be cut and burned for the twelve days of Christmas. Of course, it wasn’t called Christmas back then. Instead, the winter solstice celebration was referred to as Yule, hence the “Yule” log.

Many traditions involving Yule logs popped up all over Europe. In France, for instance, it was common to pour wine over the log before burning it to make it smell good. In other countries, a large candle was used in place of the log.

My Family’s Tradition

Traditions tend to change and evolve over time. For my family, the burning of the Yule log changed because we didn’t have a fire place or fire pit in which to burn our log. Instead, we would decorate a log that we found somewhere in nature and light candles on or around it. Since becoming vegan, the traditions has evolved even more to be vegan-friendly.

How to Make A Yule Log

Materials

1 log

Cranberries

Fallen leaves

Acorns

Pine cones

Vegan candles

Pine tree needles

Holly

Poinsettias

Flowers and other things found in nature

Runner, place mat or Large Platter

Lighter or matches (to melt bottom of candle), drill, or glue

Choosing Your Log

Make choosing your log and collecting your other materials a fun activity for your family. Go on a nature walk with your significant other and children and don’t forget to bring bags for all your treasures.

When it comes to choosing your log, there are a few things you should look out for.

Guidelines

1. Don’t disturb a habitat

Make sure when you choose a log you are not disturbing someone’s home. That includes bugs! If there are worms, beetles and other creatures living on or under a log, leave it be and keep searching. If there is a white powder on or directly near the log, that means there a wood boring beetles inside of it. You DO NOT want to bring this inside your home, as it may cause an infestation. Logs that have holes in them, but are not covered with insects, may be your best bet. Those holes indicate that wood boring insects have already left the log. Knock the log, and another piece of wood, together just to be sure.

2. Look for an appropriately sized log

Avoid choosing a log that is too large or too small for the space you plan on decorating. My Yule log is going to be used as a centerpiece on my coffee table, so I chose a log that was fairly small. If you plan on using your log to decorate a long dining table, try finding one that is skinny and long.

3. Shape matters

You get the best effect when using a log that has an organic shape, as opposed to one that that was cut down by a human. Drift wood is great for this sort of project since it is usually free of insects and can be found in many fun shapes.

If all else fails and you are unable to find a log that isn’t someone’s home, you can always buy one. But if you really think about it, many habitats were destroyed just to get that one log. This is why I prefer choosing one that fell on it’s own.

Constructing Your Log

1. You want to start by choosing a cloth runner, place mat, or large platter to decorate your Yule log on. Place your base on the surface you plan on decorating (It won’t be easy to move it once it’s constructed, especially if using a cloth base).

2. Clean any dirt off your log with warm water and allow it to dry in a warm room for at least 3 hours. If it is waterlogged from cleaning it, place it in the oven at 250° and check on it every 20 minutes until it is dry.

OPTIONAL: Gently remove the bark then lightly sand and coat your log in a clear finish. This will bring out all the beautiful colors of the natural wood.

3. Place your log onto the base in the most aesthetically pleasing orientation.

4. Attach your candles to the log. You can do this a number of ways.

* Drill holes into your log and place the base of the candles inside

* Melt the bottom of the candle and attach it to the log

* Use vegan glue and adhere the base of the candle to the log

Whatever method you use, you want to make sure the candles are secure and will not fall over since they will be lit eventually. If you are unable to attach your candles to the log, arrange them around it in candle holders.

If you have small children, you may want to consider using electric candles.

5. Decorate your log with the leaves, acorns, etc you picked up on your walk. Make sure to keep the decorations away from the flames of your candles.

*It is very important that you do not leave lit candles unattended at any time!

Conclusion

This is such a fun project to do with your kids! To make it even more exciting, try writing your wishes for the next year on a piece of paper and burning them on Christmas Eve using the candles. Be sure to have a bowl at the ready to place them in after the paper has ignited. Kids, DO NOT do this without parental supervision.

I hope you and your family had fun making your Yule log!

Happy Holidays!!

Vegan Comfort Food Recipes: Jambalaya

The temperature is dropping, the leaves are falling, and the sun is setting earlier and earlier. These are all signs that winter is on it’s way and you know what that means? It’s time for some vegan comfort food!!

When I was growing up, my mom would make the best comfort food! With seven kids to feed, she learned real quick how to feed a lot of people on a budget. As a kid, I didn’t realize how much effort and thought went into these amazing meals she would magically concoct. But boy was her food good! So, when I got older and started cooking for the family, I would watch my mom like a hawk, taking it all in and trying to learn as much as possible. One of my favorite meals was jambalaya. It was spicy, filling, and oh so delicious!

Now that I’m vegan and no longer eat animal products, I decided to create this vegan-friendly version of Mom’s Jambalaya!

Jambalaya

Materials

Saute Pan

Wooden Spoon

Ingredients

3 Tbsp olive oil or vegan butter

1 lb of Vegan Sausage, sliced into rounds

1 package Extra Firm Tofu, drained, pressed, and diced

1 yam, peeled and cut into bite-sized squares

5 or 6 cloves of Garlic (I LOVE garlic! You can add less if you prefer)

2 ribs of Celery, diced

1 Onion, diced

1 Bell pepper, diced

1 medium-sized carrot, diced

1 Jalapeno or Serrano, seeded and minced

1 cup chopped kale

2 cups uncooked Long Grain Brown Rice

4 cups of Vegetable stock

1 (14oz) can Crushed tomatoes

1 tbsp Cajun Seasoning

1 Bay leaf

1/2 tsp crushed Thyme

1 cup frozen okra, sliced

1 cup frozen corn

Salt and pepper to taste

Green onion (optional)

Instructions

Place the rice in a large pot and rinse with warm water. Drain out the water and cover the rice with 3 cups of the vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil, cover it, and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for 25-30 min, or until the rice is almost cooked.

While the rice is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, deep saute pan over a medium-high heat. Add the tofu, yams, and sausage and sauté for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sausage and tofu are lightly browned. Transfer to a medium size bowl. Set aside.

Place the remaining tablespoon of oil or butter to the pan. Add bell peppers, celery, chilies, carrots, onion and garlic. Sauté for 6 minutes. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the crushed tomatoes, remaining vegetable stock, cooked brown rice, and seasonings. Stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon to combine. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer, then add in the sweet potatoe mixture, kale, corn, and okra.

Allow the mixture to simmer for 5 -8 minuted, or until the okra is thawed. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Taste the jambalaya and season with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning if needed. (I usually add about 1  1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, but I typically don’t like my food very salty. You can add more if you’d like.)

Serve nice and hot and garnish with green onions.

Recipe Notes

If you have small children, cook the jambalaya without the chilies and add them to your own plate when you serve it. If you like spicy jambalaya, I would recommend adding in one more Chile, and maybe even some Cayenne.

Make sure to drain and press your tofu so that it can absorb all the flavors of the jambalaya.

Fresh okra can also be used in the recipe, but my local grocery store only have it in the freezer section, so that’s what I used.

Conclusion

My mom’s famous jambalaya was so easy to veganize, and turned out even better than I imagined! This recipe is great for those who have small children. The yams, which were not in my mom’s original recipe, are a sweet and tasty addition to this traditionally spicy dish. Since my daughter is too young to eat solid foods, I tried this recipe out on my sister’s kids and they absolutely loved it! All I did was omit the chilies and add them onto my own plate since I’m a huge fan of spicy food. Tossing some hot sauce on top also added to the flavor.

I hope you all enjoy my vegan jambalaya recipe as much as my family did. As always, tag me on Instagram @theveganmother1 whenever you post photos.

Pumpkin Cream-Filled Chocolate Donuts

Looking for an easy vegan dessert that everyone will enjoy this Thanksgiving? These donuts are just the thing! They’re chocolaty, creamy, and full of yummy fall flavors such as pumpkin and cinnamon. And because they are small, you don’t have to feel guilty about having more than one!

Pumpkin Cream-Filled Chocolate Donuts

Materials

​1 large mixing bowl

1 medium mixing bowl

3 mini donut pans

Whisk

Measuring cups & Spoons

Blender​ or Food processor

2 Icing Bags

Ingredients

Donuts

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegan chocolate chips, optional

Egg Substitute (6 tbsp pumpkin puree + 1/4 tsp baking soda)

3/4 cup plant milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons vinegar, white or cider

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted vegan butter or

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Filling

1 1/2 cup raw cashews​, softened

1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (such as soy or almond, you can even use coconut milk to make it extra creamy)

1/2 cup organic raw cane sugar, or coconut sugar.

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp corn starch

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the wells of three mini doughnut pans​. If you don’t have donut pans, you can use muffin tins instead.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Set aside.

3. Whisk together the egg substitute, plant-milk, vanilla, and vinegar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. The milk may begin to curdle a bit, but that’s okay.

4. Fold the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter or vegetable oil, into the dry ingredients. Fill an icing bag with donut batter and set aside.

5. Place all the filling ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until silky smooth. Once blended, fill an icing bag with cashew mixture. Set aside

6. A small amount of batter into the prepared pans, filling them about 1/4 of the way. Take your icing bag of cashew cream and pipe a small amount of the filling around entire donut, making sure to keep it in the very center of the circle. We don’t want the filling to ooze out. Cover the rest of the way with chocolate donut batter. Each well should only be filled about halfway to avoid spillover while baking  If using a muffin tin, fill halfway, then put 1 Tbsp of the filling in the center. Cover with chocolate batter.

7. Bake the doughnuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

8. Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and after 30 seconds or so, loosen their edges and turn the pan upside down over a rack. Gently let the doughnuts fall onto the rack.

Recipe Notes

If you don’t have an icing bag, you can use a Ziploc baggie and just cut off one corner. You can also cut the donuts in half after they’re cooked and put filling between the halves like an Oreo cookie. If you had to use a muffin tin, you can even ice them with the filling after they’ve cooled.

Conclusion

These donuts turned out amazing all the different ways I made them. Whether cream-filled, iced, sandwiched, or made in muffin tins they were DELICIOUS! I am so excited for you guys to try them. They were especially yummy with some vegan chocolate chips in them. If you can’t find vegan chocolate chips, click here for a quick and easy recipe! Just chop the chocolate up into small pieces and mix into your donut batter.

As always, please share your photos and tag me on Instagram @theveganmom1

Chili Cheese Tofu Scramble

Getting tired of your usual breakfast? Try this amazingly simple and delicious tofu scramble featuring homemade vegan queso and the vegan chili of your choice. I like to use leftover chili that I had made the day before, but will use canned chili in a pinch.

Missing one of my favorite breakfast items, chili cheese omelets, I took my favorite tofu scramble recipe and altered it, creating this vegan masterpiece you see before you! For my vegan queso recipe, click here.

Chili Cheese Tofu Scramble

INGREDIENTS

Tofu

14 to 16 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup vegan chili

Toppings

1/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 avocado, sliced

1/4 cup queso sauce

Fresh cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Place the tofu in a medium-size bowl and use a potato masher or fork to break it into small pieces.

2. Heat the oil in a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until. Add the tofu and cook until it has released some of its liquid, this will typically take about 5 minutes.

3. Next we add the nutritional yeast and turmeric. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tofu is completely yellow and piping hot. Quickly stir in the vegan chili. Before serving, top with vegan queso, sliced avocado, and halved cherry tomatoes then garnish with fresh cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve alongside potatoes, vegan sausage, toast, and fresh fruit.

*Make sure you don’t add any salt or pepper before you’ve covered your scramble in the queso! The queso may have enough salt as is.

*Leftover scramble can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Conclusion

This simple tofu scramble recipe will be a new favorite of the whole family! Keep the spice down to a minimum if you’re serving kids, or those who Can’t handle the heat, and just add hot sauce or hot chilies to your own taste. If you make the queso ahead of time (it will keep in the fridge for up to a week), this is a great recipe you can quickly throw together for a delicious, protein-packed breakfast.

Let me know what you think, and don’t forget to share your pics and tag me on Instagram @theveganmom1

The Best Vegan Queso

I don’t know about you, but giving up cheese was one of the hardest things for me when I was first transitioning. And if you have ever had store bought vegan cheese you know that most of it tastes nothing like the real thing. After transitioning I began to miss cheesy nachos, cheesy pasta, and everything else I used to cover in cheese. That’s when I created this vegan queso recipe.

This is the vegan queso you have all been waiting for and it’s so easy to make! Most of us already have all these ingredients in our fridge and pantry. If not, the links below will take you to where you can buy them.

This queso is creamy, cheesy, spicy (if you want it to be), and oh so satisfying.

The Best Vegan Queso

Ingredients

2 cans coconut milk (full fat, Thai kitchen brand preferred)

1 tsp rice vinegar

4 Tbsp corn starch

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp liquid smoke

2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup nutritional yeast powder

1 tsp of turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp cayenne powder OR fresh minced Serrano chili, plus more to taste

1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro

Instructions

1. Boil coconut milk until no longer separated. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix all dry ingredients with 1/2 cup of coconut milk mixture. Stir until smooth then slowly add to pot, whisking the whole time.

2. Bring to a boil. Place remaining ingredients in pot. Cook another 5-10 minutes until mixture is nice and thick.

Serve up with your favorite dishes right away, or store in the refrigerator for up to seven days. Before using, heat in the microwave or in a small sauce pan.

What Can I Use Queso On?

Vegan Burrito Bowl

Layer rice, black beans, sauteed onions, garlic, and bell peppers, lettuce, and guacamole smothered in this delicious queso for an easy lunch or dinner.

Vegan Nachos

Toss together your favorite vegan corn chips, beans, meat substitute, and guacamole with this queso. These nachos make an awesome snack!

Chili Cheese Tofu Scramble

Cover your favorite tofu egg scramble with my vegan queso, or click here for my chili cheese tofu scramble recipe.

Vegan Cheeseburger

This queso is so tasty on vegan burgers. My personal favorite is the beyond burger. I like to put onions, tomato, avocado, and queso on mine. Or you can make a chili cheese burger!

Southwest Pasta Bowl

With vegan noodles, vegan chicken, grilled bell peppers & onion, corn, and queso sauce, this is the perfect vegan comfort food. Click here for the recipe!

Conclusion

Who doesn’t love queso? Seriously!? And now with my vegan queso recipe you can finally enjoy it guilt free. Not only is this queso recipe super easy to make, but it’s so veratile! Because it’s (somewhat) healthy, you can smother all your favorite foods in it without feeling bad.

Tell me in the comments what you think of this recipe, and share your adaptations. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @theveganmom1 for more recipes!