Make Your Muffins Healthier

It’s possible to re-make your favorite muffin recipes into healthier vegan versions.  Don’t hesitate to experiment with them.  Here are some tips:

  • Replace from half up to all of the oil with applesauce (the best texture comes from leaving about 2 T. of oil per dozen muffins)
  • Replace eggs with Ener-G egg replacer powder (1 1/2 tsp. per egg, plus 2 T liquid such as water or non-dairy milk added to the liquid ingredients, or if replacing the sugar with liquid sweetener, omit the extra liquid for just 1 egg)
  • Replace the sugar with honey or maple syrup to add more moistness, but be sure to reduce the oven temperature by 25°
  • Use whole grain flours and oats instead of white flour
  • Use non-dairy milk

Here is an example of a modified muffin recipe:

Original:

  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Healthier Version:

  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 3/4 c. non-dairy milk
  • 2 T. light olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 T. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour (*note)
  • 1/3 c. honey or maple syrup
  • 1 T. non-aluminum baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Original directions:  Heat oven to 400°.  Grease bottoms only of about 12 medium muffin cups.  Beat egg; stir in milk and oil.  Stir in remaining ingredients all at once just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy).  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Immediately remove from pan.

Healthier version directionsHeat oven to 375°.  Spray 12 medium muffin cups with oil mister or use paper liners.  Whisk all dry ingredients together in large bowl.  Whisk all wet ingredients in small bowl.  Pour wet ingredients into dry, stirring just until moistened.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake until golden brown, about 18 minutes.  Immediately remove from pan – slip knife around edges if necessary to loosen.

Variations:

Blueberry: Stir in 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries during the last few stirs after wet ingredients are added to dry.

Banana: Decrease milk to 1/3 cup; stir in 1 c. mashed bananas (2-3 medium) with the wet ingredients.  Add 1/3 c. chopped nuts and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, if desired, to the dry ingredients.

Oatmeal-Raisin: Stir in 1 cup raisins with the dry ingredients.  Decrease flour to 1 cup; stir in 1 cup quick oats, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon with the dry ingredients.

Pumpkin: Stir in 1/2 c. pumpkin with the wet ingredients.  Stir in 1/2 c. raisins and 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice with the dry ingredients.

Date-Nut: Stir in 1/2 c. chopped dates and 1/3 c. chopped nuts with the dry ingredients.

Apple-Nut: Stir in 1 medium apple, pared and chopped, with the wet ingredients.  Stir in 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 c. chopped nuts with the dry ingredients.

*NOTE: King Arthur’s white whole wheat is fantastic to use, as it’s made from spring wheat that is lighter in color and sweeter in flavor.  You can also use 1/2 – 1 c. oats in place of part of the flour.

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Secret Ingredient Brownies

There are some dietary “fads” that just seem inherently wrong.  When I heard of this particular whopper, I backed slowly away from the recipe source and ran.  There was NO WAY I was making this dessert.  Just no way.

Enter my doctor.  He told me I needed to not eat flour products – not any.  After going through serious withdrawl and pouting a significant amount, I did lose some weight.  But more than that, I discovered that my aches and pains had receded!  That was enough to keep me away from wheat forever.  (Especially after I binged on a batch of cookies and a few slices of cornbread and was slammed back into pain.)

Therefore, the next time a recipe mentioning beans in brownies showed up (yes, I said beans), I paused before running screaming into the night.  Brownies without flour?  I could have brownies again?  Hmmmm…maybe these did bear some closer examination.  After all, if you throw enough chocolate at something, it’s bound to be good.

Per usual, I didn’t choose the first recipe I saw.  That’s not my style.  With the availability of the internet, there are comparisons to be made.  I wanted the BEST tasting brownies for the minimum amount of fuss.  (It’s not unusual for me to take the best ideas from several sources and whip up my own plan like I did here.)

Are you feeling brave?  Would you like to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes (especially a fussy eater)?  Never fear…these taste wonderful.  I even licked off the spatula and scraped out the blender while my first batch was baking.

Now these are my go-to recipe when I need cookies for my husband’s lunch and I’ve run out of time.  He loves them, the kids love them, and I love how fast they are to make!  Seriously ~ just throw the batter ingredients into the blender, whiz it up, and pour it into the pan.  Sprinkle the nuts and chocolate chips across the top, give it a stir, and pop it in the oven.   Done.  Baking doesn’t get any easier than this.

Secret Ingredient Brownies

  •  1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil (preferably virgin)
  • 4 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no water added)
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia powder
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coffee substitute powder (Cafix, Roma, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4-1/2 c. chopped pecans (or other nut of choice)
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips (non-dairy)

Preheat oven to 350° and spray an 8” x 8” pan with oil.

Puree all except the nuts and chocolate chips in a blender, scraping down the sides occasionally to make sure all ingredients are well incorporated.  Blend until very smooth.  This is the key to making them good.  If you don’t blend them enough, they will taste ever so slightly beany.

Scrape batter into prepared pan with a rubber spatula.  Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips over the batter, stirring them in with the rubber spatula.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Do not overbake!  Cool on rack.

These may be doubled easily in a 9″x13″ pan, but if you don’t have a high powered blender, it may be harder to get the batter smooth.  This is the way I’ll be making them from now on, because otherwise they disappear to quickly!

Unburgers

When I was 18 I worked in a health food store in western New York called Ye Olde Nut Tree.  They served something called Unburgers that Jean Young created when she worked there.  They were made daily for the snack bar.  (The “batter” kept in the frig. for a day or two.)  Hard-working, non-vegetarian, construction workers would come in just because they loved them.  They were served on buns with alfalfa sprouts, tomato, etc., or on split open pita bread with cream cheese, avocado, cucumbers, and alfalfa sprouts, topped with an oil and vinegar dressing.

I made Unburgers so many times that I had inadvertently memorized the recipe.  When I quit working there, I wrote my memorized recipe down and made it for my growing family.  Unfortunately, the original recipe contained 9 eggs!!  Needless to say, I had to turn them into a vegan version when we gave up eggs. 

The recipe makes 12-16 patties, but they freeze marvelously.

The Nut Tree (the shortened name) exchanged owners and names, moved, and eventually went out of business.  For any of you who used to go there to eat lunch, now you can make your own at home.

Unburgers

  • 1 pkg. extra firm Morniu silken tofu
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. Savorex, Vegex, or Marmite paste (from original recipe)
  •                OR (my preferred method)
  •                2 T. Brewer’s yeast flakes
  •                1 1/2 tsp. Spike seasoning
  •                1/2 capful Liquid Hickory Smoke
  • 1 1/2 c. walnuts
  • 3 c. quick oats (you may use half rolled oats for a chewier texture ~ for gluten-free, use certified gluten-free oats)
  • 1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds

Whiz in blender everything except walnuts, oats, and seeds until fairly smooth.  Add walnuts – allow blender to run until no large pieces remain.  Pour into large bowl and stir in oats and sunflower seeds.  Let stand for 5 or more minutes.

Preheat electric griddle to 250-275 degrees F.  (I suppose you could use a square stove-top griddle, but you couldn’t cook as many at a time on it.  Use medium-low heat.)  Drop large scoops of mix onto griddle and flatten into patties.  (Sometimes this isn’t a quick process – be patient.)  When browned (about 8-10 minutes), turn them over and continue cooking another 3-5 minutes.  If you flip them too soon, they will be gooey inside.

Serve with gravy, on sandwiches, or alone with guacamole and slices of tomato on top.  Try one crumbled onto a salad.

Makes 12 large patties, or 16 medium patties.  Freezes well with waxed paper between layers.

Quick Bean Dip

Fast food.  Some days you just need the availability of a quick meal.  A drive-thru sounds so easy and helpful, but doesn’t exist for vegans who want truly healthy foods to eat.  I have a solution for those busy days when you have little time to spend standing in the kitchen “slaving” over something healthy to feed your family.  Keep these ingredients in your cupboards on a stand-by basis for those crazy nights.

Unless you live next door to a restaurant, I can have this prepared and on the table by the time you can drive through the window during the supper rush at your local Mickey D’s (if you are willing to eat there) and get back.  Throw some veggie sticks, salad, or fruit onto the table with it and you’re ready to go!

Quick Bean Dip

  • 1 can black olives, drained
  • non-dairy cheese, shredded, such as Daiya or Vegan Gourmet (optional)
  • 2 cans of chili beans (do not drain)
  • 1 can refried beans

Pulse the olives in a food processor until they are small pieces.  Shred the “cheese” if using.  Stir all ingredients together in a 2-qt. bowl and heat in the microwave while you set the table and put out the fresh veggies, salad, or fruit you are serving with it.  (Some non-dairy cheeses don’t melt very much, but do add to the taste of the finished dish.)  Serve with corn chips (organic, if you can, to avoid any GMOs) or spread onto and roll up in tortillas.  Leftovers make a good sandwich filling with a little ketchup or vegan mayonnaise.

You can spice things up a bit with some salsa, guacamole, and/or soy sour cream.

This serves enough for a party, or to fill 2-3 hungry teenaged boys.  You can use just one can of chili beans to make the dish smaller.

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Celiac disease seems to be on the upswing.  All of a sudden, you have friends or family who can’t eat wheat and other grains.  What do you feed them?  Panic ensues.  The packaged gluten-free items can be tasteless or hockey pucks – and expensive.  Plus, how good for you are those starches that they use to replace the flour?

As I researched cookies online, I found that there are a lot of recipes that I wouldn’t even want to try to gather the strange ingredients to make.  Who wants xanthan gum in a cookie…and what IS it?  After a few “unorthodox” recipes (read: not the gluten-free industry standards) were perused, I decided that I was probably better off to quit reading and start cooking.  Those “unorthodox” cooks had used some healthy ingredients in their baking and the pictures looked tasty!  Modifying my already-modified vegan recipes was obviously the place to start.

There’s another thing ~ if you have been vegan for long, you know it can be sticky enough bringing vegan cookies to a school, church, or family function, but gluten-free vegan cookies?  Oh, my.  Now nobody will touch them, right?  Relax.  These actually taste pretty good!  My teen boys, J & R, gave them a thumbs-up.  In fact, J even liked them better than my usual ones because he likes a softer cookie.  (Which means if you put a little sign on them “gluten-free vegan cookies,” it virtually guarantees nobody will eat them, and you get to take them home.  Win!)  (Addendum ~ that actually didn’t work at a party we attended.  There were only crumbs left.)

I started with the chocolate chip cookie recipe that I posted yesterday and cut it in half.  (Just in case my plan didn’t work and they flopped!)  It was a good thing that I did.  By the time I got to the last pan, the dough had begun to change a bit and become drier.  Therefore, I do not recommend doubling this recipe. The next time I make them, I might drizzle in some more non-dairy milk toward the end and see if that changes anything.  (If you try it, let me know how they come out.)  The picture shows the story of the order of baking from top to bottom ~ it’s readily apparent that things changed.  (I used 17″ cookie sheets and had 3 sets go into the oven.)

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/4 c. non-hydrogenated soy margarine, softened (1/2 stick), such as Earth Balance
  • 2 T. melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice or sugar
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no added water)
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk plain or vanilla soy)
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (more if you want them bursting at the seams)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda, sieved to remove lumps
  • 1 1/2 c. fine almond meal or almond flour (I used Trader Joe’s brand), breaking up any lumps
  • 3/4 c. coconut flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheets.  This step is non-negotiable.  Without it, I cannot be responsible for how awful your cookies look.

With a wooden spoon, in a large bowl, combine and beat margarine, coconut oil, cane juice, molasses, and vanilla.  Thoroughly stir in egg replacer powder.  Add a fourth of the non-dairy milk, or so, at a time, beating it in completely after each addition.  Keep whipping it until well incorporated.  It may look a little separated due to the extra liquid needed with the coconut flour.  (You can toss the milk in all at once, but it tends to cause separation and then you have to work harder to whip it together.)  Stir in chocolate chips, salt, and baking soda, mixing well.  Stir in almond and coconut flours until no dry spots remain.

Drop by teaspoon onto parchment-covered cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Carefully remove to cookie racks to cool.  I found the last cookies will be more fragile than the first ones.

Variation:  Make into blondies/bars here

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let’s face it ~ most people realize that cookies are not health food.  And those of us who are vegan realize that most cookies contain milk, eggs, and butter (or worse, hydrogenated oils.)   But sometimes, the siren song of cookies in the bakery window is just overwhelming.  Despite a desire to eat a whole-plant-food based diet, sometimes the cookie monster inside simply won’t be put off with another piece of fruit for dessert or an imitation cookie (you know the kind ~ the ones even undiscriminating little kids won’t eat.)

Before you succumb to that cookie (or worse yet, a package of store bought ones), hurry home and make these.  They are not CHIP- or Forks-Over-Knives- approved; they contain too much sugar and fat for that.  But they are a far sight healthier than Toll House chocolate chip cookies that most of us grew up eating!

I spent several years perfecting this recipe.  I wanted to cut the fat, do away with the dairy products, and use whole wheat flour.  I had some pretty sad and sorry cookies at the beginning!  You get the benefit of all that trial and error.  The final piece to the puzzle was parchment paper.  I know it’s a pain to use and adds extra expense, but it is worth it.  No more squashed cookies trying to peel them off of the pan with the spatula.  No more stuck-on goo to scrape off before the next ones can be put on the cookie sheet.  And no more washing the pans, either.  If you are careful about keeping the dough off of the sides, you can just throw the paper away, wipe the pans off, and put them back in the cupboard.

I usually have “one extra note” to make about my recipes.  Here is today’s.  When it comes to vanilla in cookies (or anything, for that matter) use a heavy hand.  If the real stuff is too expensive for you to do that, then by all means use imitation.  The taste difference will amaze you.  Confession:  I don’t measure my vanilla – I guesstimate and splash it in.  (I taught my kids to do this, and it got my daughter, K, in trouble one of the years she wasn’t homeschooled.  She was in home ec. making chocolate chip cookies and her teacher spotted her splashing in the vanilla and romped on her for it.  It was too expensive for such a thing and besides that, you are supposed to measure it, don’t ya’ know!!  When it came time for the teacher to taste test all the groups’ cookies [not a bad job to have…], guess which ones got the highest praise?  Ha!  Vanilla for the win!)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 c. non-hydrogenated soy margarine, softened (1 stick), such as Earth Balance
  • 1/4 c. light olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 3 c. evaporated cane juice or sugar (you can use 2 ½ c., but it’s better with 3)
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no added water)
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk plain or vanilla soy)
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional, but it adds extra nutrition and omega 3 fatty acids)
  • 2 c. chocolate chips (more if you want them bursting at the seams)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda, sieved to remove lumps
  • 4 1/2 c. King Arthur’s or Trader Joe’s ‘white’ whole wheat flour (from spring wheat that is sweeter and not as strong in flavor)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheets.  This step is non-negotiable.  Without it, I cannot be responsible for how awful your cookies look.

With a wooden spoon, in a large bowl, combine margarine, olive or coconut oil, cane juice, molasses, and vanilla.  Thoroughly stir in egg replacer powder.  Add a third of the non-dairy milk, or so, at a time, beating it in completely after each addition.  Keep whipping it until fluffy and creamy.  Tip the bowl some to make it easier.  (You can toss the milk in all at once, but it tends to cause separation and then you have to work harder to whip it together.)  Stir in nuts, chocolate chips, salt, and baking soda, mixing well.  Stir in flour until no dry spots remain.  Don’t be afraid to add an extra 1-2 T. non-dairy milk at this point if the dough seems crumbly.  You want the dough to just stick together if you press a clump on a spoon, or between your fingers.  The moisture content of whole wheat flour varies causing slight differences each time.  Just don’t add too much extra milk, or your cookies will be very flat and hard.

Drop by tablespoon onto parchment-covered cookie sheets.  (Or roll into balls for perfectly round cookies.)  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Remove to cookie racks to cool.  If you want smaller cookies dropped by teaspoon, reduce the baking time to 8-10 minutes.

Vegan Coconut Cream Pie

I’ve had coconut cream on my mind a lot lately.  It started with another blogger’s recipe for vegan cheesecake that wasn’t quite what I was looking for and had more the texture of a cream pie.  Or maybe it started when my BFF told me about Tropical Traditions’ coconut products – and then I won a quart jar of their virgin coconut oil.  However it began, next Katie over at www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com posted a vegan whipped cream recipe using coconut cream.  (All of her pictures make my stomach growl.)  Well, I just about couldn’t stand it any more!  I had to find a coconut cream pie recipe by search engine.  I spent a good chunk of time looking…and wasn’t satisfied.  None of the pictures looked like what my imagination was projecting and some of the ingredients were pretty bland and used cornstarch to obtain a thick product.

So, I gave up.  Well, sorta.  I gave up the computer search and went to the kitchen to play.  I had enough ideas of what not to do and some ideas of what I wanted to do – at least enough for a trial run.  It was more of a trial runny.  If I froze it, it was too hard to slice.  If left in the refrigerator, it was more like a soft pudding and wouldn’t slice well that way, either.  Don’t get me wrong – it tasted good and we ate every last crumb!  🙂  But I knew I wasn’t done.

The second one I made for the weekend when I knew my daughter and son-in-law would be over to help eat it, so I doubled the recipe into a 9″x13″ pan.  This time it worked!  Everybody really wished there had been more of it.

If you have friends who are gluten sensitive/intolerant, this dessert recipe is for you.  There is no grain used in the whole batch – not even the crust (unless you used flour-covered date pieces.)

This recipe is for a 9″ deep-dish pie pan.  You will have a little of the filling leftover than won’t fit that you can put in a bowl for pudding.  It might work to fill 2 smaller pie crusts, but the crust recipe would have to be adjusted – probably 1 1/2 times.

Vegan Coconut Cream Pie

 Crust:

  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 c. raw almonds
  • 15 pitted soft dates (or 1 c. date pieces, may be oat flour-covered)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 T. virgin coconut oil (this is optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/16 tsp. salt

Filling:

  • 1 can chilled coconut milk (chilled at least 8 hours)
  • 1 c. raw cashews (may soak 4-8 hours before using)
  • 1 pkg. extra firm Morinu tofu
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered stevia extract (or 1/4-1/2 c. more sweetener)
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals or sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 T. virgin coconut oil

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, coconut, and almonds until tiny pieces. Add the remaining crust ingredients, pulsing and processing until the dates are completely incorporated and you can press some together and it sticks well.  Press this into a 10″ deep dish pie pan.  Be patient – it takes a little bit to get it evenly distributed.  Also, if you are using a glass pie plate, you can hold it up and look through the bottom to see if there are thin spots.

Open the chilled can of coconut milk carefully.  Scrape out the hardened coconut cream into a high-powered blender.  Add 2 T. of the thin liquid from the can of coconut milk.  (Save the rest of the liquid for making smoothies.)  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until there are no grainy pieces of cashew left on a spatula dipped into the cream.  Pour into the crust.  Chill for 4-8 hours.

Vegan Mock Meatloaf

This recipe took a few sideways steps over the years.  I grew up eating my mom’s meatloaf – of the cow variety.  When hubby and I became vegetarians, I learned about a mock meatloaf called cottage cheese loaf.  It was tasty – after all, most recipes contained gobs of cottage cheese, eggs, and butter/margarine – but far from healthy.  My very favorite version repeatedly received rave reviews.  But hold the phone! ~ there was another necessary morph coming.  I next needed a vegan version without unhealthy levels of fats.  (Vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, you know…potato chips are vegan.)  We ate some “interesting” concoctions as I played with ingredients trying to get the taste I remembered.  Now I get rave reviews over my vegan version!

Mock Loaf

  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 4 ½ c. semi-crushed cereal (see note)
  • 1 c. water (if you aren’t trying to eat completely fat-free, I recommend replacing 2 T. of the water with olive oil for better texture)
  • 2 large onions (at least 2 cups worth once it’s chopped)
  • 2 boxes Mori-nu Lite extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 4 ½ T. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 3-4 T. “chicken”-style seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9″ x13″ pan with olive oil.  Chop walnuts in food processor; set aside.  Semi-crush cereal flakes in food processor or with potato masher (depending on which cereal you use); set aside with nuts.  Chop onions in food processor and place in skillet to simmer with 1 c. water until onion is softened – about 5 minutes.  (If you prefer a drier end product, decrease the water by 2-3 T.  My family likes a very moist loaf.)  In large bowl, mash tofu with a potato masher until the consistency of small-curd cottage cheese.  Stir “chicken” seasoning and egg-replacer powder into tofu.  Add the reserved nuts and cereal; mix until evenly distributed.  By this time, the onions should be ready.  Do not drain the water off of the onions, but pour them both into the tofu mixture.  Stir vigorously until everything begins to stick together quite well, as the water and egg replacer powder come together.  Scrape into prepared pan.  Flatten and smooth into corners.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (or if preparing ahead, bake for only 45 minutes, reheating at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes).  This also freezes well.  Thaw before reheating in oven.

NOTE: If you prefer using “Special K” or “Product 19″ cereals you may, but to avoid refined sugars, etc., that they contain, you may use something like Kashi “Good Friends” cereal* or another flake cereal* from the health-food section of your grocery store.

*will most likely need food processor to crush.

Cornbread (muffins or pan)

This recipe has been in my possession for so many years that I didn’t own a printer and it’s handwritten ~ probably didn’t even own a computer and if I did, I doubt it had a word processing program on it!  Yikes.  Some of you may wonder if the world existed then.  The notebook page it’s written on has bent edges, stains, and it needs its 3 holes repaired, causing it to fall out of the notebook regularly.  Originally, it was cut out of a woman’s magazine (who knows which one at this point?) complete with picture.  It was full fat, full milk and eggs, regular degerminated cornmeal, white flour – you name it.  It was pretty bad for you.  The recipe strongly called for cast-iron corn tins – but I didn’t own those, so I substituted the variation provided ~ muffin tins.

Because I wasn’t vegan at that time, I only changed one thing about the recipe – I used whole wheat flour in place of the white.  They were very tasty and everyone was happy when I served them.

Not long afterwards, I had to set the recipe aside.  My children and I were found to have allergies and we all became vegan overnight.  *gulp*  Since I didn’t have such a thing as internet yet to look for new recipes, I needed to learn how to take my much-loved ones and transform them.  (And while I was at it, one son had wheat and corn allergies, so I had to make something work for him, too.  I substituted millet flour for the cornmeal and barley or spelt flour for the wheat and made a small pan for him.  It had a stickier texture – you have to cut back on the liquid a bit – but it was worth it to him to eat something similar to our version.)  After a few attempts and substitutions, the recipe was deemed successful.  Update: I’ve learned that substituting oat flour for the wheat works very well.  It’s a little more fragile than the wheat version, but not terribly so.

This still is a favorite of mine.  I love it with chili, “chicken”-noodle soup, baked beans, and for breakfast with strawberry or raspberry jam and non-dairy milk over it  (Hey, don’t knock it until you try it!  Esp. if you use coconut milk.  Mmmmm….) – or warm for “dessert” with vegan “butter” and maple syrup drizzled over it.

Cornbread

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour or oat flour (whiz rolled oats in blender until floury)
  • 1 c. stone-ground cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1/4 c. honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1 1/3 c. soy milk
  • 2 T. melted coconut oil (for best texture) or unsweetened applesauce or half and half of each

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray muffin tin or 8”x8” pan with oil.

Combine dry ingredients.  Whisk liquid ingredients in separate bowl; add to dry ingredients and whisk until batter is smooth and just begins to thicken – about 30 seconds.  Spoon into pan.  Bake muffins for 14 minutes or 8”x8” pan for 18-20 minutes, until edges are beginning to slightly brown and center is firm.  (If the edges begin to look too brown, the bottom will already be too dark.)

Variation:  Double and place in a 9”x13” cake pan and bake for 22-25 minutes.

“Cream” of Tomato Soup

I grew up eating Campbell’s Tomato soup.  One parent liked it made with milk for cream of tomato and one liked it plain without milk.  So they split the difference, making it with half milk and half water.  That’s the way I still like my cream of tomato soup and the way this recipe is designed.  If you prefer, use all non-dairy milk or all water in your soup.

This vegan version is quick and easy.  Like the classic “little black dress” – it can be modestly understated or dressed up into something special.  Kids (oh, okay…and adults) will like it with a grilled “cheese” sandwich.  If you need something more substantial, you may add in interesting things like sauteed onion and garlic, basil, chopped spinach, etc.

My recipes tend toward the “feeding the troops” mentality, so I’ll give you different measurements for different portions.

Tomato Soup – for 1-2

  • 1 15-oz can of tomato puree
  • 1/2 can of non-dairy milk, plain
  • 1/2 can of water
  • 1/4 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. honey or other sweetener (optional)

Tomato Soup – for 3-4

  • 1 28-oz. can of tomato puree
  • 1/2 can of non-dairy milk, plain
  • 1/2 can of water
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 T. honey or other sweetener (optional)

Tomato Soup – for 6-8

  • 2 28-oz. cans of tomato puree
  • 1 can of non-dairy milk, plain
  • 1 can of water
  • 2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 T. honey or other sweetener (optional)

Stir all ingredients together.  Heat to desired temperature.

Variations:  Add to the original soup, or to any leftover soup, whole wheat pasta shells or cooked rice, sauteed onion and garlic, cannellini beans, chopped spinach, basil, and veggie Parmesan cheese – I like all of them at once.  Or check with the Campbell’s Soup website to see what they are showcasing as add-ins to their tomato soup.