Whole roasted cauliflower in a spicy vegan yogurt sauce

For some reason our family has been on the world’s longest cauliflower kick in the history of all time. Well, I know the reason, it’s basically because it’s awesome.

Seriously, I used to hate on cauliflower a lot. I was a die-hard broccoli lover and while I used to tolerate cauliflower, I basically that it was a wannabe vegetable.

And then I found out how damn versatile cauliflower can be and my life has never been the same. Anything from cauliflower rice to «cheesy» cauliflower breadsticks, it can, has and will be done.

So when my mom came across this idea to roast the entire head of cauliflower, I decided we needed to try our hand at this too.

Normally I just roast it in some seasoning and olive oil, maybe a little barbecue sauce if I’m feeling particularly lazy. This time though, with some vegan plain coconut «Greek» yogurt just wasting space in our fridge, I decided it was time to whip up a killer sauce.

Even though you roast the whole head, the florets end up really tender. The inner stem area gets a little tougher as you get deeper, but it’s adds a nice texture and the juices from the sauce drip down enough to give it a really subtle, mellow flavor!

This dish came out absolutely magical. It was super no-fuss and the presentation is killer. Even our cauliflower-snubbing daughter wanted to get her hands on a quarter of this decadence!

Spicy whole roasted cauliflower
(Serves 4-6)
1 large head of cauliflower, washed and leaves removed
1 container of vegan coconut plain Greek yogurt (we used So Delicious, it was 6 oz)
2 TBS dijon mustard
2 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS horseradish
2 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and set aside. After you’ve washed and cut the leaves off your cauliflower, set aside. In a medium bowl, whip together spicy vegan yogurt sauce. Blend vegan yogurt, mustard, horseradish, agave nectar, garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice. Place your entire cauliflower head on the baking sheet. Using a basting brush (ours is silicone), slather the whole cauliflower head (except the bottom side touching the pan) in your sauce. If you have some leftover just set it aside.

Roast on 400 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. If you have leftover sauce, pull the cauliflower out at 30 minutes and redress with the sauce. (If you don’t have leftover sauce because your cauliflower was huge it’s no big deal, I just don’t like wasting anything, sauce included!) After 45 minutes to an hour, the sauce will be a deep yellow (try not to let it «brown» too much). Allow it to cool and then cut in half and quarters to serve. Impress friends with how cool it looks. Or eat the whole damn thing yourself. Whatev. No judgement here.

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A week to remember the important things

Things have been a little quiet here at the Chubby Vegan home front.

The truth is, it’s been a really, really rough week for my husband and his family. A little over a week ago my husband got the kind of phone call you never want. His sister was calling to let him know their father had entered the hospital and wasn’t doing well. And now this past week we traveled close the three hours to be there as they laid him to rest.

It has been a trying week full of turbulent emotions and reactions. The truth is, no one really knows how to handle someone’s death. All we can do is the best we can; and realize that our best isn’t the same as everyone else’s.

Honestly, I can’t even really find the words to describe the past few weeks. They just wouldn’t do it justice to what everyone else has been feeling.

Because we’re both blessed to work for amazing companies who understand the value of family, we were able to take a few days of bereavement. This allowed us to start the healing process and bond a little more. When horrible things happen it puts a lot in perspective, kind of makes you re-realize what the super important things in your life are.

We spent the nice spring days we were blessed with doing lots and lots of family activities. We took the kids out, grabbed a few vegan cookies and enjoyed the sunshine. We went shopping for antique furniture to complete our living room and we picked out paint swatches. We watched movies until the wee hours of the morning and laughed with our friends.

So this week will no doubt feel like a heavy one, but we’re going to keep on keeping on.

Do yourself a favor, though. Take an extra few days and hug your people a little closer, whether it’s your kids, your spouse, a friend or your family. Don’t wait for the bad times to create good times.

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Butterfly kisses and eskimo smooches
Learning to love again

Vegan pineapple, coconut and cream cheese balls

With  the last snowstorm headed our way (said no Ohioan ever because we all know it could legitimately snow in June), I decided to combine a traditional «snowball» dessert with a little summer flare — pineapple.

These bad boys are not your run-of-the-mill «snowball.» Yeah, they’ve got some of the same elements between the cream cheese and shredded coconut, but adding a couple cans of crushed pineapple and some crushed pecans take this dessert to a whole new level.

The most awesome part about this dessert (you know, other than it being ridiculously easy to throw together), is that it only has FOUR ingredients and no added sugar. (I mean, because between the pineapple, cream cheese and coconut shreds we’ve got that sweet part covered).

This recipe makes two dozen one-inch sized «snowballs,» but if you plan on serving it to people I highly recommend just doubling the batch. We made 24 and these were gone in like no-time in our household.

The second best thing about this treat? They taste as amazing as they look. I highly, highly recommend making these for the next party or get together you’re having. They’re the perfect amount of sweet (but not overpowering) and the pecans give them a nice salty boost to balance out the other elements.

Vegan pineapple, coconut and cream cheese balls
(Makes 24)
1 container (or 8 ounces) of your favorite vegan cream cheese (we used Trader Joe brand)
1 8-oz can of crushed pineapple (drained)
1 cup crushed pecans (I pulsed them in the food processor)
3 cups shredded coconut (I used sweetened to balance out the pecans)

In a food processor, crush your pecans until they’re tiny pieces. In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese and pineapple. Stir in your crushed pecans. Refrigerate this mixture for two hours. After it’s been refrigerated, take a baking sheet and line it with wax paper. With a bowl of water nearby, grab a little smaller than a golf-ball sized amount of the cream cheese mixture and form a ball with your hands. If it sticks too much try wetting your hands a little with the bowl of water off to the side. Next, drop your rounded mixture into a small bowl of shredded coconut. Roll more into a ball shape if necessary and repeat until all the snowballs are formed. Once full, refrigerate overnight and until they’re gobbled down.

Which won’t be long.

Because they’re easy, but they don’t taste that way!

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Reclaiming the word ‘perfect’

You might remember a few posts back I declared my love to the «f» word — feminism.

Yeah, yeah, I’m a feminist, get on board already.

You might also remember this other post I wrote, about my battle with body shaming.

I’d like to say that since fully embracing my woman-power ways that I’d shaken all of those body shaming thoughts, but the truth is, it’s still a battle.

And planning our family trip to the beach this summer, hasn’t done a lot to help with my body confidence. Some days are better than others. I’m struggling with the realization that being 28 (almost 29) makes it harder to lose weight. Harder to tone things. And honestly, I’m not even sure I want to.

I’ve got friends who workout on a regular basis, devoting days to well-tallied meal plans and focusing on one body part at a time, and they’ve seen amazing progress, and I’m happy for them. But honestly, I’m tired of feeling like I’m a project that needs to be fixed. I’m tired of looking at myself that way and overall, it’s a completely unhealthy way to think.

So I complain about it being difficult to lose weight, but in reality, I’m just not wanting to put my time into those things. I enjoy carbs (A LOT), I like desserts and I still have an occasional soda here and there. But you know what else I do? I run. I run 5Ks, I run on my treadmill at home, I run around our block for the three months it’s nice in Ohio. And I’m not saying I’m the fastest, but I’m healthy enough to run three continuous miles; I’m healthy enough to roll around on the floor with my kids; I’m healthy enough to lift my daughter with my legs and let her soar; I’m healthy enough to carry in piles of groceries, on top of my children, my purse and whatever else I have to get through the doorway.

So no, I’m not calorie counting or planning out meals of low-fat, low-carb, low whatever fad diet is going around now, but I’m strong enough and healthy enough to live the life I live well, and I think that’s pretty damn good.

So I decided I’m going to wear a bikini for the first time in well, 10 years? Don’t worry, I don’t mean a «real» bikini. I’m going to get one of those high-waisted gettups that show like an inch or two of skin, tops. And I’m going to find a top that actually supports my gals, not a mute one piece that shoves them together into one giant uni-boob. So what if some people think I shouldn’t be wearing a bathing suit, I’m OK with it and they’re just going to have to get over themselves.

We have this problem in society where we «try» to pass off our judgment as worry. «Oh, that chunky girl shouldn’t be wearing that bathing suit, shouldn’t be happy with her body, doesn’t she know she’s unhealthy and shouldn’t be proud of that?» Or «that skinny girl should go eat a cheeseburger, I bet she has an eating disorder, nobody is that skinny naturally.» What if that chunky girl is healthy? What if she, like me, can run three miles and lift her kids? And what if, Heaven forbid, that skinny girl, really is just skinny? Maybe she eats cheeseburger after cheeseburger and doesn’t gain a pound, so what. We need to quit pointing the finger at others to make ourselves feel better.

As a thicker gal, I’m guilty of skinny-sharming, I’m guilty of the catty comments about a girl with pointy bones jutting out. But do you know why I really made those statements? Because my hip bones weren’t sticking out enough and that’s MY insecurity. I shouldn’t take it upon myself to make it hers too.

Instead of it being thick vs thin or skinny vs curvy, it needs to be us against the real machine churning all this garbage out. Our society. Our media. Our marketing. Somewhere, someone in the big seat decided that being pretty in this millenium meant being skinny. And don’t mistake me, I’m not saying skinny isn’t pretty, I have many svelte friends that are knockouts. I’m saying it’s not fair to define beauty as one damn thing. It’s like saying the only people who are smart are those who understand astrophysics.

It’s unreal, unbelievable and it’s un-fucking-acceptable.

And when you think about it, it’s really NOT little vs big.

Sure, us thicker gals, we’ve basically got rail-thin models shoved down our throats every.single.day. Take for example the problem I keep running into when looking on websites for swimsuits. This bikini top on the right appears in the «special sizes» swimsuit section. The swimwear is described as a «D-cup, ruched, french top.» Yeah, because if that model is sporting a D-cup then I’m a 38ZZZ. I mean for real? If you’re going to go to the trouble of making a «special sizes» section in the first place, maybe you could get a real representation of whatever «special size» you’re catering to.

I’m not just saying this from a ranty, chubby girl standpoint, I’m saying this from a seriously annoyed shopper who has a hard enough time finding a damn swimsuit to fit my boobs, how am I supposed to get a realistic picture of how that would fit me with Ms. A-cup all tucked in there?

And it doesn’t stop there, oh no, practically every body type is subjected to some type of this garbage. Take for example the results I get when I google «sexy tops.» Guess what pops up? Boobs, boobs and more boobs. Big boobs, large boobs, extra large boobs, boobs. No little boobs. Very few medium boobs. Here us thick girls are being told that we have to be skinny to be beautiful, but just to really fuck with women’s heads, we’re ALSO going to tell the skinny girls that they’re not sexy unless they’ve got big ole’ knockers.

Oh, and lets not forget the long hair. You’re not sexy if you don’t have long hair ladies.

Fires you up a little bit, doesn’t it? Well, if it doesn’t it should.

The truth is, I wish I could just blame it on today’s marketing. I wish I could point my finger and shame all the big wigs up in no-mans land deciding what THEY think WE should view as beautiful. But it’s not just them. Because sadly, women like me are buying into this bullshit. It’s been going on since the world had advertising, had media forms, had press. Back in 1912 the New York Times declared «the perfect woman» to be Elsie Scheel. She was 5’7″ and 171 pounds. The newspaper described her as «the most nearly perfect physical specimen of womanhood.»

I’m not using Elsie to shun today’s thinner women, nor am I using her to excuse an unhealthy lifestyle. I’m using her as an example to prove that we’ve allowed an outside source, a source fueled by money and many, many voices, to tell US what perfect is for more than 100 years now.

How insane is that?

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Do you matcha your muffins?

It’s not any big secret that I have a ridiculously sweet tooth. In fact, my love of all things sweet is probably the only thing that rivals my passion for carbs.

I know, talk about some healthy habits, right?

Anywho, I’ve been on a serious muffin kick. I’ve been cranking out muffins for our new neighbors, mini-muffins for my kiddos, you name it, I’ve been baking it.

From blueberry cheesecake muffins to wild berry, we have been consuming these for breakfast and light snacks for the last few weeks.

And then I was offered the opportunity to review Kiss Me Organics’ Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder. At first I was a little hesitant, because I’ve never been much of a tea fan. Every once and a while when it’s super hot outside I’ll get a monster craving for super sweet iced tea (go figure), but other than that, it’s not usually something I go out of my way to consume.

But I decided it was time to get out of my comfort zone. Besides, my husband loves all things green tea and the folks from Kiss Me Organics were kind enough to include a small recipe booklet with the product.

I had NO idea you could do so much awesome stuff with green tea.

You may not have any idea what matcha is, because I sure didn’t. Matcha basically means it’s super-finely ground up, so it makes it easy to add to practically anything you want.

I bet you can’t guess what we added it to?

Yep, you got it, muffins.

I decided the best way to give green tea a real shot was to put it in a muffin. And boy am I glad. These mocha matcha muffins were the perfect amount of sweet, earthy and rich. I added some chocolate chips to some of them, while I decided to top some with almonds. They were a sweet surprise!

There is a ton of other cool things you can do with the matcha green tea powder, including: putting in in lattes, smoothes and more baked goods! Green tea boasts tons of awesome  perks, like increased focus, energy, a metabolism boost, antioxidants and skin health!

A 4 oz bag of this matcha green tea powder retails at around $25, but trust me when I say a little bit goes a very long way. We’ve had our bag for almost a month now and it’s still going strong!

My husband was already a believer, but after trying this product, even I’ve started incorporating it into my morning meals!

Matcha mocha muffins
(makes one dozen muffins)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
2/3 cup vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1/8 cup cocoa
1/8 cup water
1 TBS matcha green tea powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coffee extract
1/2 sliced almonds or vegan chocolate chips (plus a few more to toss on top!)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar, cocoa, matcha green tea powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir in vanilla almond milk, applesauce, water and vanilla extract. Mix together until well blended. Stir in vegan chocolate chips or nuts of your choice.

Grease a 12-cup muffin pan and then fill each individual cup 2/3 full with muffin mix. Sprinkle more nuts or vegan chocolate chips on the top (this will allow them to appear on the top of the muffin after it bakes and gives it a more «full» appearance).

Serve with a class of milk or devour with your morning coffee!

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Why the «F» word isn’t so dirty

For most of my life, I’ve been the «F» word.

It was something that my own mother fostered in me, something that developed after years of being told by numerous outlets that I wasn’t good enough, something that was encouraged through friendships with women, something that was imprinted on me the moment I became a mother.

You see, I’ve always treated it like a dirty word, actually, a lot of people do — unjustly so. It was something I would say in a whisper, a label I playfully beat-around-the-bush about, something I mumbled under my breath to ensure the only people who picked up on it, were also members of the club.

But now, a little over a month shy of turning 29, a husband, two children and a career later, I’m no longer ashamed to admit what I am. I no longer stumble over my words when trying to describe that I’m an «F» word without saying the actual word. In fact, it’s something I encourage everyone to get comfortable with. I mean really, comfortable with. Really soak it up, let it sink in and embrace it.

You see, friends, I’m a feminist. (Ha! What «F» word did you think I was talking about!?)

I’ve alluded to it plenty in this blog. I’ve hinted at my feminist leniences and prattled on about my woman-power ways. But there have been few times I’ve really proudly proclaimed that I am a feminist and not only is it OK, it’s a wonderful, beautiful, passionate thing to be.

Truthfully, it’s taken me a long time to get here and to really be proud of it. Between all the woman-shaming and radicals out there, feminists can get a bad name. Ultimately it comes down to human nature. There have gotta be a few people out there pushing the buttons, raising their voices and causing a stir. So while the Gertrude Stein’s and «woMYN» pushers aren’t the kinds of girl power pills I wanna swallow, it doesn’t make those individuals any less important or me any less a feminist.

I’ve taken women’s studies classes, I read a lot of books written by feminists, however, they’ve always been shielded by something else, something safer. I think I first started wrapping my brain around the whole idea after reading Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter. After gulping down literally every drop of that book I was excited, rushed to run out and tell everyone what I’d learned. And what I’d learned, friends, is that as a society, we’re not really setting up our girls to be everything they can be.

It was easy to present the information I learned from that book. You see, I wasn’t being a pushy feminist, I was just being a concerned mother raising a young girl. Slowly, I began to seek out more information, this time not just to understand what was being done to my daughter, but what HAD been done to me as a young child.

And folks, I’m not here to play the blame game. I don’t know nearly enough to say it was the media’s contorted ideas of beauty, the ads I saw in the magazine of twiggy, leggy ladies or the pretty-in-pink toy aisles I strolled through.

Maybe years of playing with Barbie’s too tiny waist warped my mind into thinking I wasn’t good enough unless I, too, was skinny. Or maybe, maybe I would have done that to myself regardless of what the media was saying. Maybe, it started in my head all along.

I do know this. I’ve spent more than 20 years hating my body. Thats more than two decades of loathing my thick thighs, abhorring my bountiful bust, longing for lanky limbs and failing at every crash diet under the sun because clearly I’m not worth a damn unless I’m pretty.

But that’s where the problem lies, folks. I am pretty. I don’t know when I warped my brain into thinking I was only attractive or worthwhile if I weighed at least 30 pounds less, but somewhere along the way, that became my definition of beauty. And that’s just not healthy — mentally or physically. The truth is, even at my smallest, lowest weight, I’ve never dropped below a size 9 (and that was at 15 pounds UNDER my the lowest recommended weight for my height). I’ve got wide hips, a boy-shaped torso and a ginormous chest. I’m never going to be a small girl, but that’s OK, because I don’t have to be a size 4 to be pretty.

But here’s where I really, REALLY realized something.

It’s not easy to be a chunky girl this day and age. But you know what, it’s not easy to be a skinny girl either. At least when you’re a thick gal, you almost get to be a member of a club. Sure, you might not want to belong to it, but there’s a solidarity in having a little meat on your bones. We say clever things to each other like «real men like curves, only dogs go for bones,» and then giggle about it because after years of being told we should be ashamed of our figures, we’re fighting back.

The problem, though, with that way of thinking, is that we’re not fighting back fairly. We’re just pointing a finger in a different direction. Skinny women are gorgeous creatures. Thick women are beautiful. Women with curves for days are attractive and that woman with the small breasts, tiny waists and lengthy legs is pretty too.

I’m not trying to go all kumbaya on you, but as a group, we women need fewer «witty» quips and a lot more solidarity. There doesn’t need to be an «us» and «them» mentality. We’re all women. And regardless if you’ve got a 20-inch waist or 47-inch hips, we’ve all got the same damn parts. We’ve all got vaginas. We’ve all got breasts. We’ve all got ovaries. And a lot of times, we can be insufferable, raging bitches to each other.

Diving into the world of feminism, the photoshop police and raising little women has taught me a lot, but mostly, it’s taught me this; We all really are on the same team. Sure, a skinny girl might never feel my pain when trying on a dress that just doesn’t have enough room in the bust for my twins. But you know what? I may never understand what it’s like to look in the mirror and not feel womanly. I’ve heard so many of my skinnier friends longing for bigger boobs or a few curves to make them feel «feminine.» It’s something I’ll never understand. But just because some girl out there can eat 40 cheeseburgers and not gain a pound, meanwhile I LOOK at a burger and gain weight doesn’t mean we’re not suffering just the same.

I’m waving my white flag. I’ve certainly been guilty of «skinny-shaming» or this-and-that shaming because I allowed the extra weight on my body to bear extraweight in my opinion. But guess what? It doesn’t work that way, at least, it shouldn’t.

So what does my feminist proclamation mean? Does it change something?

Not exactly. I’m still going to be the Chubby Vegan Mom. I’m just not going to allow myself to be ashamed anymore. And I’m not going to do the shaming myself, either. To me, being a feminist means loving all my sisters out there, not just the ones going through the same things I am.

One day, we’re going to not just accept each other for our differences, but love the hell out of each other in spite of em.

«When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist — and only 42% of British women — I used to think, ‘What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?»

 -Caitlin Moran

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We’ve been pooping our pants, how bout you?

Warning: This blog contains spoilers uncensored stories of the stomach flu that just attacked my family. Continue at your own risk.

I had a lot of fabulous blog ideas lined up for this week. I really, really did.

But then we got sick.

Well, actually, they got sick.

It started last Monday with Braeburn tossing his cookies (and bananas, almond milk, farro and every other thing he ate). At first I thought maybe he wasn’t sick, maybe he’s just got a ridiculous amount of mucus in his body from teething, the hormonal weather of Ohio, those things. But then after multiple more up-chuck incidents, I knew we were dealing with a stomach bug.

The bad thing about the stomach bug, is that it absolutely loves company. And when the catalyst of said flu happens to be a 14-month-old kid that can’t keep his kids off anything (including people), there’s just no hope for your cause (short of lysoling your family’s mouths).

I can’t complain too much though, I seem to remain unscathed nearly two days after it ran its course, so there’s that. But boy, I’ve figured out what’s worse than having two sick kids. Having two healthy kids and two sick adults. That, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.

So Brae had his bug the longest. The first day, he probably slept for a good 18 hours, which some people probably think «hey, that’s a vacation!» but it’s really, really not. I spent all the extra hours he was sleeping googling whether or not I should let him sleep that long, what the signs of this and that was and when to start worrying (although, I clearly was doing enough of that). In my head I knew it was just a tummy flu, but I still feel like I have to run around like a complete nutcase for at least a few hours, just to earn my mommy badge.

While he was busy trying to get better, Pear was busy coming down with the stomach flu herself, a good 36 hours later. The rough thing about Pear is when she gets sick, there’s no «seeing it coming.» She’s just hanging out there having a dandy time and then BAM: you’ve got vomit in your hands (better than the bed)! And as if this weren’t messy enough, Brae’s tummy bug had moved to the lower half of his body. So while we were cycling out trashcans and holding back hair for Pear Bear, we were elbow-deep in poo. Yep, good ole, run-of-the-mill, runny poo.

Then, just because two kids with uncontrollable bouts of tummy flu wasn’t enough, my poor husband was stricken as well. And unfortunately, he seemed to get it the worst.

I ended up with a case of allergies and headache from the ever-changing Ohio weather, which, I’ll gladly have any day over the stomach flu, but by the end of the week it was two sick adults trying to tame two recently healthy, bouncing-off-the-wall, children.

Now, thankfully, going into the new month and new week, we’ve healed. We’re all in control of our bodily functions and somehow, we’ve even managed to catch up on the laundry (the washing of it, we haven’t even bothered to think about folding it). Psh, who’s got time to fold laundry?

So I appreciate you bearing with us and staying tuned. Now that it’s just Braeburn pooping his pants I think we’ll have a much better go at the blogging this week.

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Surrender your shelves to more spices

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a lovely woman on Facebook. Yeah, I’m actually on Facebook doing some fun stuff, you should check it out!

She asked if I could cruise on over to her website and check out the different selections of spices and blends she sold.

I get it. It’s probably not something you think about much on a given day. I mean you’ve already got your salt and your pepper, what else do you need?

I used to be in this line of thinking. I’d just buy some random, cheap salt blend at the store and throw gallons of it on our food that night because that’s how much it took to actually give some flavor.

So when I was asked to sample and review some of the products from Surrender Spices, I was giddy with anticipation. I got to select three and let me tell you something.

I am officially a spice snob. I will never go back to the cheapest, value brand spices again. I selected two blends: Louisiana Fat Tuesday Everyday and Tuscany Bread Seasoning, in addition to the Pink Himalayan Salt. (I know, you’re thinking wow, you could pick three things and you picked a salt?)

I literally never imagined there could be such a difference in salts. The pink himalayan salt was a crisper, fresher flavor than your run-of-the-mill salt. Foods didn’t taste «salty,» they just tasted invigorated. We used it in place of salt in numerous recipes, but the standout was putting it on the homemade corned beef! It was the perfect subtle, smoky saltiness we wanted.

Next, we made an awesome, barbecued, roasted cauliflower and rubbed some of the Fat Tuesday blend on it. It had just the right hint of spicy, but not the kind of hot where you can’t taste anything else. This was the kind of hot that made foods taste better, gave it more of a profile. And the cauliflower was the perfect canvas for it.

And instead of tossing our Tuscany spices into some oil and using as a dip for bread, we sprinkled it on some mushrooms we sauteed with butter. This blend was a step up from the usual Italian one, and made a great addition to veggies and probably would be just as excellent in the oil as the bread dip.

Surrender Spices are vegan, except for one sweet offering they have, For the Love of Honey. A few have names which are designed to be added to a «meaty» dish, but we found them equally enjoyable on our substitutes. Each spice blend is 2 oz and has a list price of $5.

If you haven’t opened up your shelves to a higher-degree of spices yet, I highly suggest you give this kind a whirl. Your food will thank you.

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Vegan corned beef … get your St. Patrick’s Day ON!

I went to college in Cleveland. It was one of the most magical times of my life (short of becoming a mother and getting married and all that jazz). Mainly because of the softball I got to play up there and the amazing friends I made, but partly, because it’s got SO much amazing food places to visit!

From Little Italy to West Side Market, this city has got it’s fair share of anything you could ever want! Including the most awesome corned beef sandwich in the history of the world. Every St. Patrick’s Day we would pregame — er — stop and get our grub on at this little sandwich place that had the MOST perfect corned beef sandwich you’ve ever had.

What was in it? I don’t know. Magic. And unicorn kisses. And hugs, definitely some hugs. And maybe a splash of awesomeness.

I haven’t had a corned beef sandwich of any kind since going vegan some seven or so years ago. In fact, I never even considered the idea of making our own vegan version since I had absolutely no clue what went into the thing, just that it was peppery and salty all at once.

But my husband and I started talking about it and I had already planned on making a seitan roast this week, so I started toying around with the idea of attempting a vegan version of this classically-consumed-on-St-Paddy’s-Day fare.

And I am utterly pleased to report back how freaking amazing this thing turned out, which not as much effort as I thought would be required!

So, ready to make one of your own? Heck yes you are!

Don’t let the idea of making your own seitan roast scare you off! If you’ve got a crock pot and access to vital wheat gluten you’re pretty much on your way to the most delicious and easiest thing you’ve made yet!

Vegan corned beef
(serves around 6)
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
4-5 bay leaves
2 TBS garlic powder
2 TBS onion powder
2 TBS paprika
1 TBS peppercorns (I bought one of the handy ones that comes in grinder form)
2 tsp salt (I used pink himalayan, it was magical)
2 tsp all spice
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger
2 TBS ketchup
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup vegan steak sauce
1 2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups veggie broth

Pour veggie broth into crock pot and turn it on low. In a medium mixing bowl, combine vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ground peppercorns, all spice, cloves and ginger. Add liquid smoke, ketchup, steak sauce and water. Mix together and then knead with your hands once it becomes doughy. It’ll be a strange, sinewy, damp dough. It’ll look something like this:

Next, you’re gonna smush this down to a rectangle shape, about 1.5 inches thick. Toss it in the crock pot and grind a little more peppercorns on top (to your taste) and sprinkle some of the pink salt. (Throw in a veggie if you want, I did baby carrots, but it’s not required). Add the bay leaves to the broth. Let it cook for two hours on low.

After two hours, you might notice your loaf looks a little gigantor. It’s cool, that’s what it should do. Go ahead and flip this roast onto the other side and sprinkle some more salt and peppercorns on it. It’ll feel a little spongey to your touch and that’s fine.

Now you’re going to let it cook on high for two hours.

Once you’ve got about 10 minutes left of cooking time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet down with spray. When your roast is done in the crock pot, we’re going to proceed to the second method of cooking, this is going to help us achieve that totally odd, but somehow perfect texture corned beef has. You know, how it’s kind of dry and moist at the same time?

You’ll take out your roast and place it on a cutting board. (I put a towel under mine because this bad boy was juicy and I didn’t want it getting everywhere). Don’t worry about «spilling the juices,» we’re going to bake this and want to take out some of moisture. Cut into thin slices (the thinner you get the better). Mine were about 1/8 of an inch or so big.

Once this are sliced up, you’ll lay them out on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with a little more peppercorns and salt. Throw these in the oven for about 10 minutes (if you get them thinner than I did check them a little sooner), then pull em out and serve them with your super favorite sides. We opted for red-skin potatoes, cabbage and carrots.

We have every intention of eating these leftovers as reubens today, I have no doubt that they’ll be utterly perfect!

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