Louisiana Okra and Cheese Grits

As promised, today I’m pleased to share this Louisiana Okra and Cheese Grits recipe passed on to me by Esther, the dietitian from Rouses Market in New Orleans. All of the necessary ingredients can be found at Rouses, and luckily you can probably find these simple ingredients in your hometown, too!

Louisiana Okra and Vegan Cheese Grits | Orthodox and Vegan
Esther writes:
Here in Louisiana, grits are a staple in many dishes – don’t forget the okra and tomatoes! Usually, these come as sides, but I believe it’s time for them to join forces to become the main meal.

Louisiana Okra and Vegan Cheese Grits | Orthodox and Vegan
Usually this will include bacon or sausage, but not for this vegan dish.

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
3 cups sliced okra
1 14.5 ounce canned (no salt added) tomatoes

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about three minutes. Add okra and tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cheese grits.

Vegan Cheese Grits
3 Tbsp Daiya dairy free shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grits
3 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Over the stove, boil water in a saucepan and add grits, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cover allowing grits to thicken – stirring occasionally. Once cooked to desired thickness, add cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve grits and top with okra and tomatoes!

Thank you, Esther!!! I shared my meal with two non-vegans, and they both enjoyed it.

I have to admit I used way more than 3 Tbsp of Daiya in the cheese grits, I can’t resist adding more fat to every meal πŸ˜€ I may have added something like 1/2 C. I also added a few cloves of finely chopped garlic with the onions in the okra stew.
I appreciated the simplicity of needing nothing more than salt and pepper for seasoning, it really did come out beautifully.

Shout out to Esther and to Rouses Market for taking the time to reply to my email, to send me a HUGE list of every single vegan item in the entire store, and for putting together this fabulous recipe. It’s obvious Rouses cares about their customers, and I greatly appreciate it.

If you’ve got a favorite southern food you’ve learned to veganize, let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to stop by a Rouses Market next time you’re in Louisiana.

Tropical Watermelon Smoothie

For some reason I just don’t like eating fruit. I’ll have it once in a while if someone has already prepared it, maybe after a meal or something when it’s hot out. Otherwise I just really have a hard time getting myself to eat fruit…except, apparently, when it’s in a smoothie!

This summer I’ve been going through bananas like crazy, I eat about 8 a week. I peel and chop them and store them in a freezer bag in the freezer to use as a smoothie base (they’re nice and creamy when blended), and I’ve been drinking about 5 smoothies a week. Sometimes I freeze other fruit, too. I bought fresh pineapple rings from Meijer in a little plastic container and just chucked the whole thing in the freezer without even cutting the rings into smaller pieces first. I was kind of mad at myself for that when I went to use them yesterday, but was surprised to find they were still easy to cut through when frozen. My dad also bought a giant watermelon and asked me to chop it for him (one of my least favorite jobs). There was so much, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to throw some of it in the freezer, too. And so the Tropical Watermelon Smoothie was born.

Tropical Watermelon Smoothie | Orthodox and Vegan
Tropical Watermelon Smoothie
1/4 C frozen chopped banana
1/3 C frozen chopped pineapple
1 C frozen chopped watermelon
1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)

Blend all ingredients. Drink. Enjoy! As with pretty much all my smoothie recipes, this is made to fit perfectly in the single serve cup of my Ninja blender.

I could use a few more ideas for adding fruit to my diet. What is your favorite fruit during the summer months, and how do you prepare it? Please let me know by commenting below!

How to Make Prosphora (Bread of Holy Oblation)

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan

Thought I’d update this old recipe and step-by-step instruction for baking Holy Bread (Prosphora) for use in the Orthodox Church, according to the tradition of my Antiochian parish. There are various traditions, so check with your priest and ask his preference. The full recipe is at the bottom.

By the way, what is prosphora??? Prosphora is a Greek word meaning “offering”. Prosphora bread is made for use in the Eucharist in Orthodox Christian churches.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
We use all purpose bleached flour – Yes, it’s OK to use bleached flour, you can read more about that HERE. We use rapid rise yeast, so it isn’t necessary to dissolve it in water before adding it.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Just showing this because I thought the graphic was funny πŸ™‚

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Starting out with 2 C of water

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Looking a little dry. Time for another 2 cups of water, slowly added while the machine is mixing.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
One thing I hate about adding water is the dough starts to separate again, or gets some weird texture and looks like it’s ruined. Every time I added water, I had to step away from the machine because I started having a little panic attack. It seemed like it took forever for the dough to get back to “normal”.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Finally the dough looks okay. It’s smooth and soft, but very firm, not dry. Turn it out into a large floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap so it can rise.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
I like to take pictures of my fist punching the dough, that’s my favorite part.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Now we tear off equal portions to be rolled out, the size will depend on your parish tradition.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
We use a tin to cut a perfect circle – old coffee tins work well.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
We do two layers just like we do with our Artoklasia bread.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Now for the seal. Isn’t this a cute little loaf? It’s made from scraps.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
This is a very clear seal.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Press down very firmly. I like to give it a wiggle, too…but I was also told I had to work FASTER! Or while you’re working on the next loaf, your first loaf might start to puff up and the seal won’t look as awesome.

Orthodox Bread of Holy Oblation

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
He’s good at this.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Poke holes in the corners of the Lamb (the center part of the seal) and in a few places around the edge of the loaf to keep the seal from rising and getting distorted as it bakes. We used a chopstick, but you could use a wooden skewer or toothpick.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
I need to buy some seals of my own. Stamping the bread with a seal is an ancient tradition. St. John Chrysostom, who lived from 347-407, mentioned it in his writings, noting that all the bread was “sealed”. Probably with a cross.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Bake the bread until just barely golden brown. It should sound hollow when you knock on it.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Here’s a finished loaf. Let’s talk abut the meaning of the symbols. I’m just learning this myself, I was told to read The Prothesis from The Order of Preparation for Divine Liturgy from the red service book (I don’t know if there’s some official name for the book, but that’s what we all call it). First, notice the IC XC NIKA in the small squares on the top & bottom, and the large square in the center of the loaf. IC XC NIKA is an abbreviation which means “Jesus Christ conquers.”

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Typically the large center square is the Lamb, cut out and used for Holy Communion. Then the small square on the top is removed in honor of the living, and the one on the bottom in memory of the dead. Then other portions are removed in honor of various other things.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
This triangular piece is for the Theotokos. Theotokos is a Greek word that means God-bearer, or Birth-giver of God. In the year 431, the Council of Ephesus decreed that Mary is Theotokos because her son Jesus is one person who is both God and man, divine and human. So she not only gave birth to his human nature, but also to God Himself.

The Greek letters mu & theta are an abbreviation for “Mother of God.” Looking closely at the triangle, you’ll see it’s formed by kind of stacking the theta on the mu. Hovering on either side are the spear and the sponge (you can see those more clearly on the picture of the seal itself).

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
The 9 small triangles on the right represent the 9 ranks of commemorations:

1. Michael & Gabriel, and all the angels of heaven
2. Baptist John and all the Prophets
3. Apostles
4. Hierarchs
5. Martyrs
6. The Holy Ascetics
7. The Unmercenary Healers
8. Sts. Joachim and Anna, and the saints of the day
9. Saint whose liturgy we celebrate (St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil)

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
And these little guys that fill in the empty spaces are not only ornamental but functional. They keep air bubbles from forming. Neat! But from there, or elsewhere, other portions are removed in honor of the Archbishop, Bishop and every order of clergy.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Each portion is usually cut from a separate loaf, using five loaves total. The remaining bread is used for the antidoron – yet another Greek word, it means “instead of the gifts,” and it is a blessed bread not used for Communion. Customs vary, but generally it’s distributed to anyone present, including non-Orthodox (the lamb being reserved for Orthodox Christians since it’s in the Eucharist). Technically, though, you should not take a piece after Liturgy if you already had one after receiving communion (doesn’t seem like many people keep this rule anymore!) or you at least should not take more than one piece for yourself each time.

Prosphora (Holy Bread) Baking | Orthodox and Vegan
Just in case anyone thought this was fancy sandwich bread πŸ™‚

Prosphora/Holy Bread
5 lbs all purpose bleached flour, plus extra for dusting surface
1 packet quick rapid yeast
1 tsp salt
2 – 5 C warm (mildly hot) water, or as needed

Put 5 pounds of flour, yeast, and salt in large commercial stand mixer bowl. Briefly mix to combine dry ingredients, then add 2 cups mildly hot water and continue mixing. Add water as needed until a soft, but very firm, dough has formed.

Turn dough out into a very large floured bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a draft-free spot until doubled in size – approximately 2 hours.

Preheat commercial convection oven to 325 (you may need to use higher heat for a standard oven). Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper and dust them with flour.

Punch the dough.

Tear off equal portions of dough to roll out on a floured surface, the size will depend on the tradition in your parish. After rolling out the dough, you may choose to use a tin to cut it into a clean circle shape.

If making two-layer bread as we do: Place bottom layers on lined and floured baking sheets.

Wet the top of the bottom layers of dough, one at a time, then place the other layer on top.
(At this point some people let their loaves rise a second time, for about 30 minutes. We didn’t do that, but since we rolled out all the loaves at once, they probably did rise for about 10-15 minutes while they waited to be sealed.)

Dust the loaf tops lightly with flour, and be sure to flour your seal regularly between loaves.
Press the seal down very firmly, giving it a gentle wiggle during release.

Poke holes in the corners of the Lamb (the center part of the seal) and in a few places around the edge of the loaf to keep the seal from rising and getting distorted as it bakes. We used a chopstick, but you could use a wooden skewer or toothpick.

The bread should be a light golden brown (very light). Knock on the bread to see if it sounds hollow. If so, the bread should be done. Allow it to cool on racks.

After our bread is cooled we bag it up in very large freezer bags, 2 loaves to a bag, and they’ll keep in the freezer for several weeks. Let the loaves thaw overnight at room temperature (although you can defrost in the microwave in an emergency).

Raw Cashew Basil Pesto

Hello, Friends! Yesterday I shared some ideas for a vegan tea party-inspired picnic which included basil pesto tea sandwiches, and I promised to share the pesto recipe. Well, here it is. This pesto has a nice earthy, rustic flavor, and is oil free and perfect for strict fasting days. With only a few ingredients to blend together, you’ll be whipping this up in no time!

Raw Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto | Orthodox and Vegan
Basil pesto is great as a sandwich spread or vegetable dip – I particularly like it with cucumber and mint. It also works well as a pasta sauce. Of course you can use gluten free pasta sauce or spiralized veggies to make the meal gluten free or even completely raw.

Raw Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto | Orthodox and Vegan
Raw Cashew Basil Pesto
1 C raw cashews, soaked & drained
1/2 C fresh basil, or to taste
1 large clove garlic, or to taste
1 tsp course salt, or to taste*

Soak the cashews in water for at least one hour, or overnight. Drain and rinse, discarding soak water.
In a blender, add cashews, basil, garlic, and salt. Add 1/2 C fresh water and blend until smooth, adding more water as needed.
I recommend adding the minimal amount of basil, garlic, and salt and tasting after blending before adding more.

*If you are using a fine/table salt, you may want to start with 1/2 tsp

For Pasta Sauce do Not drain pasta completely. The pesto will be thick, so you’ll want to mix it with a little water to loosen it up for tossing. When I use the pesto for pasta, I like to add a little black pepper and top it with nutritional yeast. And on oil days this would, of course, be wonderful with a little drizzle of olive oil – but what doesn’t benefit from olive oil??

Pro tip: If you have a Ninja blender, this recipe can be made in the individual serving cup. In other words, quick & easy clean up!

Comment below and let me know your favorite way to use pesto. I’d love to hear from you!

Dormition Fast 101

The Dormition of the Holy Mother of God

Christ holding the soul of the Theotokos

Hello, Friends!

The Dormition Fast is almost here (August 1-15 New Calendar, August 14-28 Old Calendar) and I’ve noticed a few people have found my blog by searching for Dormition Fast menu planning. Unfortunately I am terrible at planning and didn’t even realize it’s nearly the end of July! So. While it’s a little late to lay out a menu for you, I will give you some ideas. I’ve also posted my official Dormition Fast page in the top menu of the blog which contains a bunch more ideas…not sure why I just spent so much time on this when that page exists :p

Breakfast Cereal for Kids
-Fruity Pebbles
-Cap’n Crunch
-Reese’s Puffs
-Rice Krispies
-Corn Flakes

Serve with your fav non-dairy milk (almond milk, cashew milk, flax milk, oat milk, soy milk, hemp milk, rice milk, coconut milk. I’d pair sweet cereals with an unsweetened milk)

In a Pinch
How to Order Vegan at Taco Bell

-Ezekiel sprouted grains (oil free)
-Brownberry Italian
-Arnold – according to LiveStrong.com, “Arnold’s Carb-counting multi-grain, Jewish rye, and stone ground whole wheat breads; and potato, wheat or sesame sandwich rolls.”
-Thomas bagels – plain, blueberry, cinnamon swirl, everything, and cinnamon raisin flavors are vegan, and at least a couple flavors are oil free.

Serve nut butter toast with breakfast, veggie sandwiches for lunch, with soup for dinner. A plain toasted bagel makes a great hot pretzel substitute – dip it in mustard! (Although SuperPretzels are also Lenten, and oil free)

This is so easy! Buy a 5 pound bag of potatoes (I prefer red, they tend to be more moist and have a somewhat buttery flavor). Bake a bunch of them at once, they’ll keep for several days in the fridge so do enough for the week.
Besides eating them like a standard baked potato, you can mash them, chop them up for a breakfast hash, or simply slice them up, season with salt, and eat them covered with ketchup.

On oil free days I do baked potatoes with a side of steamed veggies, and cover everything in tahini sauce. This Nacho Cheez tahini sauce is great, or you can customize it to your taste. On weekends I prefer straight up olive oil to margarine.

I love angel hair pasta because it cooks so quickly. And speaking of that tahini sauce, it’s great on pasta! You could also do an herb pesto and use avocado for the fat instead of oil.

On weekends, drizzle the pasta with olive oil, and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic, basil, oregano, and parsley. Top with sauteed broccoli and onions.
(Of course you can also just dump canned marinara on pasta if you don’t want to cook much!)

Buy one pound bags of lentils, chickpeas, and/or black beans, cook them all and pop them them in the fridge or freezer. With a few cans of refried beans, too, you can make all kinds of wonderful things. Such as…

-BBQ Lentils – Like Sloppy Joes. Simmer the cooked lentils in BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s and often find it on sale for $1) with minced onion. Eat it on a bun with pickles and mustard, or however you’d top your Sloppy Joe. If you’re gluten free, do a lettuce wrap.
-Lentil Tacos – season the cooked lentils like you would taco meat. Fill corn* tortillas with the seasoned lentils, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes & onions. And you can put that Nacho Cheez sauce to use again.
*I use corn tortillas because they’re oil free. If you’re only abstaining from olive oil, or if it’s the weekend, flour tortillas should be fine (at least here in Michigan I haven’t seen any that contain lard).

-Hummus – A huge bowl of hummus, and you can eat it with pita and olives and veggies.
-Curry – simmer the cooked chickpeas in canned coconut milk (I prefer full fat) seasoned to taste with curry powder and whatever else you like. Add cauliflower and onions and cook until tender. Serve over rice to bulk it up.
-Add chickpeas to salads for extra protein

Black Beans & Refried Beans:
-Tacos, Burritos, Tostadas, Nachos, Taco Salad, CRUNCHWRAPS
The black beans act as a meat replacement (be sure to season them), and refried beans hold things together and are great for bulking up tacos and burritos. Add your favorite veggies and, if you like, salsa and guac.

I put the tahini sauce on everything, but you can mix things up by making Coconut Milk Cheese and adding that instead. You can also use it to make quesadillas πŸ˜€

-Black beans & rice – top with a tomato sauce or your favorite hot sauce

Buy a few bananas for each person in your home. Peel, chop, freeze in a bag. Frozen bananas make a great creamy base for smoothies! Try this one:

1/2 C frozen banana
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter or PB2
1 C ice
1 C vanilla almond milk
(makes one serving)

If you wanna really bulk it up, blend 3 Tbsp hemp seeds and 1/4 C quick cooking oats with the almond milk before adding the other ingredients. It’ll add 12g protein and a decent amount of iron – but if you’re using unsweetened almond milk, you may want to add a tiny bit of maple syrup to mask the oatmeal taste.
This is also great with a couple teaspoons of cocoa powder. Or omit the peanut butter and half the ice, and replace with pineapple and frozen mango.

I hope between this and the Dormition Fast page you’ll have enough ideas to get you through this little two week fast. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch! If you have a go-to meal for fasting days, tell us about it in the comments below.

Sunwarrior Protein Powder

Sunwarrior Protein Shakes Review & Recipes | Orthodox and Vegan
Recently I received a few samples of Sunwarrior Illumin8 Organic Meal (vegan protein powder) in Vanilla Bean, Aztec Chocolate, and Mocha. And by recently I mean way back during Lent, with the intention of trying them all during Holy Week. Unfortunately I just didn’t have time then to put together some recipes, so I decided to try the Vanilla Bean on its own mixing it only with almond milk.

I am new to protein shakes, so I didn’t know what to expect. I blended the powder with the recommended amount liquid (12oz) and stirred it up. It was a little grainy, which I’m told all protein powder is, but actually kind of tasted like cake batter (yum!). It also had the consistency of cake batter, which kinda freaked me out at first. Welcome to the World of Protein Shakes & Protein Smoothies!

So a couple weeks ago I finally busted out the rest of my samples. The protein comes from peas, flax seed, brown rice, chia seeds, amaranth, garbanzo beans, lentils, and quinoa. You get approximately 20g of protein per serving. I sometimes add a serving of hemp seeds to mine for an additional 10g, and 2 Tbsp of PB2 (peanut butter powder) adds another 5.

I would drink these on their own, blended with just some almond milk and ice if I were in a hurry, but I liked changing the flavors up so I wouldn’t get bored…including adding a cookie one day, which is maybe not the healthiest thing I could have done, but tasted great. I also really wanted to try blending my chocolate caramel cake with the Mocha flavor, but managed to show some restraint.

Sunwarrior Protein Shakes Review & Recipes | Orthodox and Vegan
Coffee Chocolate Chunk
2 C ice
1/2 C frozen chopped banana
1 Just Cookies, Double Chocolate Espresso flavor
1 C almond milk
1 serving Sunwarrior Illumin8, Mocha flavor
optional: 3 Tbsp hulled hemp seeds

Blend EVERYTHING. Then consume! This one is a little thick, you might need to use a spoon.

Sunwarrior Protein Shakes Review & Recipes | Orthodox and Vegan
Raspberries are wonderful with both the Aztec Chocolate flavor and the Mocha flavor. The seeds are kind of annoying, just try not to chew πŸ™‚ I tried them with both flavors using 1 1/2 C frozen raspberries and 1 C almond milk. Simply blend all ingredients.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana
1/2 C ice
1/2 C frozen chopped banana
2 Tbsp PB2 or natural peanut butter
1 serving Sunwarrior Illumin8, Aztec Chocolate flavor
1 C almond milk
optional: 3 Tbsp hulled hemp seeds

Blend all ingredients. Drink!

If you’ve tried Sunwarrior products, what did you think? Tell us below!

Taco Bell Copycat Vegan Crunchwrap

Taco Bell Copycat Recipe: DIY Vegan Crunchwrap | Orthodox and Vegan
So, although I had gotten tons of requests for a Vegan at Taco Bell guide, I was still really surprised by the popularity of that post! So I figured I’d share this DIY Vegan Crunchwrap recipe with all you Taco Bell fans. It’s super easy, and you will wonder why you never tried it at home before πŸ˜€

Taco Bell Copycat Vegan Crunchwrap
flour tortilla shell or gluten free wrap (at least 10″)
fillings of choice
oil, for cooking

Start by quickly heating your tortilla or wrap in the microwave for about 12 seconds, so it will be flexible. While it’s in the microwave, get your lightly oiled skillet heating on the stove over medium heat. I usually just give the skillet a quick spray of cooking oil.

When your tortilla is warmed, place the tostada in the center. Layer on the fillings, keeping everything centered on the tostada. If you’re adding anything that could make the tostada soggy, first add a “protective” layer – I usually use a piece of lettuce.

Now, take the edge of the tortilla and fold it in towards the center. Hold it in place with one hand, and use the other to fold in another portion of the tortilla. Continue until you have made a sort of rounded hexagon…or in my case, a six-a-gon. Don’t have to be perfect!

Place your crunchwrap folded side down in the heated skilled until it begins to be brown – about 30 – 60 seconds. Flip it and brown the other side. Eat it as soon as it’s cool enough to handle, otherwise the tostada will get soft!

DIY Vegan Crunchwrap

I use a 10″ tortilla and I’ve never ever been able to get it completely closed. Ah well, I’ll just have to keep practicing which means I’ll just have to eat more crunchwraps.

*If you don’t have a tostada (a flat, round, toasted or fried little tortilla), you can use tortilla chips. Make a circle shape by placing the chips side by side with the pointed ends facing in. Different brands will be different sizes and you may have to play around with them.

Vegan Crunchwrap Fillings

You can pretty much put whatever you want in your vegan crunchwrap, as long as it fits. My favorites include:
-Refried Beans
-Frank’s Redhot Sauce
-Vegan Cheese (try it with Homemade Coconut Milk Cheese)

I put the cheese on last so it’ll get all melty – yum!! Even though I can never close the thing completely, I’ve never had an issue with my fillings spilling out. I think it’s because I layer it in such a way that everything sticks together inside.

Pro Tip: Add a second tostada or layer of tortilla chips to make your vegan crunchwrap EXTRA CRUNCHY.

What are your favorite crunchwrap fillings? Tell us below!!!!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tahini

20131129 tahini chocolate chip cookies9

This recipe for chocolate chip cookies with tahini is inspired by cookies my sister brought home from St. John Chrysostomos Greek Orthodox Monastery in Pleasant Prairie, WI. At the time, I found one recipe for tahini-based chocolate chip cookies online. It used vodka instead of water, but since I usually make booze flavored and booze soaked desserts for feasts, I decided to switch out the vodka for water during the fast.

The tahini works as a great replacement for butter, and the taste is surprisingly mild (if noticeable at all).

20131129 tahini chocolate chip cookies7
Drop onto a greased cookie sheet by the spoonful. After I bake mine for about 8 minutes, I stick them under the broiler briefly to give them a little color. They don’t brown like regular cookies.

20131129 tahini chocolate chip cookies8
The recipe made about 32 medium sized cookies. When I used 1 C of sugar there was a very faint taste of tahini, but when I used 1 1/2 C and couldn’t taste the tahini at all, it seemed too sweet. I think 1 1/4 C might be perfect.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tahini

2 C flour
1 to 1 1/4 C white sugar*
1/4 C brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tahini
2/3 C water (or unsweetened non-dairy milk)
2 tsp vanilla

1 C vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, add tahini, water, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet. You may add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, if dough seems too thick. Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop onto a greased cookie sheet by the spoonful and bake 7 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Then place cookies on top rack under the broiler just until they begin to brown slightly on top. Place on wire rack to cool.

*1 1/4 C sugar was pretty sweet for me, but cutting the sugar to 1 C means there’s a faint taste of tahini.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

A friend asked if I could make Lenten brownies for him. I know a few years ago I made vegan brownies with bananas, but I cannot find the recipe anywhere! Looking over a few classic brownie recipes, though, I realized this is one of the easiest desserts to veganize, and these vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies were born πŸ˜€

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
I replaced the butter with peanut butter, and egg is replaced with banana. I was also able to cut down on refined sugar thanks to the natural sweetness of the bananas. For my friend, I kept them extra “healthy” (I mean, they’re still brownies) by using chopped dates in place of chocolate chips. I’ve tried this recipe with a gluten free flour mix and it worked just as well, although the brownies were a little fudgier – is that a bad thing?? Nope.

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
Bake until beautiful πŸ™‚

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
I didn’t even get to try one whole brownie because they were promised to another, but…I cut off a piece to make a nice, even square. And it was wonderful.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
3/4 C natural peanut butter
8 squares unsweetened chocolate*
1 1/2 C sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 C flour
optional: chopped nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, etc

Preheat oven to 325.
In medium saucepan, heat peanut butter on low for approximately 5 minutes. Add chocolate and stir until completely melted. Add sugar and stir to incorporate. Add mashed bananas and vanilla, and stir until incorporated. Add 1 C flour, stir to incorporate. Removed from heat and fold in optional ingredients.

Pour batter into a greased 9×13″ baking dish. Bake at 325 for 25 to 30 minutes.

By the way, these are perfect for a strict fasting day since there’s no added oil!

*1/4 C vegan chocolate chips can be used in place of unsweetened chocolate squares. Since chocolate chips are sweetened, I’d recommend cutting the sugar to 1 1/4 C unless you eat like John Travolta in Michael.

Life Hack: Vegan Nacho Cheez

Vegan Nacho Cheez Sauce | Orthodox and Vegan
Have I told you how much I LOVE tahini sauce?! It is simple to make, includes few ingredients, and is quite versatile. The variation I use for vegan nachos is my favorite. I pay about $7 for a 32oz jar of tahini, enough to make approximately 25 large plates of nachos! It doesn’t really taste like cheese*, but it does taste pretty wonderful.

*UPDATE* So a friend of mine made his own little variation based on my recipe and had some friends totally believing they were eating a very non-vegan cheese sauce! SO THERE.

Lenten Tahini Nacho Sauce
And the rest of the ingredients for the nachos are just as simple: finely chopped veggies – I prefer bell pepper, onion, and tomato, and sometimes fresh garlic. Black beans and corn would also be great. Simply drizzle the tahini sauce over the chips, add toppings…

Vegan Tahini Nacho Sauce
and bake!

Vegan Tahini Nacho Sauce
The sauce thickens and keeps the toppings from falling off.

Lenten Recipes: Vegan Tahini Nacho Sauce
When the sauce begins to brown you know it’s done.

Lenten Recipes: Vegan Tahini Nacho Sauce | Orthodox and Vegan
Tahini Nacho Cheez Sauce
2 heaping Tbsp tahini
Lemon juice, salt and garlic to taste.
1/2 tsp turmeric, for color
20-30 shakes of Frank’s Redhot Sauce (depending on how hot you want it)

Whisk all ingredients together. Add water a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Other optional seasonings:
black pepper
smoked paprika
chili powder

Now, you can use this sauce as a dip (or eat it with a spoon, I won’t judge!), but for vegan nachos:

Preheat oven to 400.
In a small bowl, stir together tahini, water, and lemon juice. Season to taste with spices and hot sauce, adding turmeric for color if desired. Finely chop toppings of choice.
On a baking tray or large oven proof plate, arrange tortilla chips in a single layer. Drizzle with tahini sauce. Sprinkle with toppings.

Bake 10 – 15 minutes, until tahini sauce thickens and begins to brown.

Oh, and this sauce is also perfect for chili cheez fries! What’s your favorite way to spice up tahini sauce???