Healthy Cravings February Recap: A 5 Course Italian Meal

I almost forgot to share all of the deliciousness that happened at the last Healthy Cravings.

I admit that I was a little nervous, I didn’t know if everyone would like their favorite Italian comfort foods adapted into healthy plant-based versions. I didn’t want to create recipes that were merely “less toxic” than the originals, I wanted them to be truly nourishing. I’ve shared most of the recipes previously and I have a few more I’ll share in the coming weeks.

I want to mention that almost everything was gluten-free. I have several gluten-free ladies who typically attend but if gluten isn’t an issue for you whole grain noodles could easily be substituted. Also I forgot to take pictures of everything before we ate but I got a few leftover shots.

HC Feb 009

We started the evening with Bruschetta. Half was served on toasted French Baguette and the other half on gluten-free crackers.

HC Feb 011

Next was soup and salad. This is my new favorite salad by the way! I used a variety of lettuces and greens, pepperoncini’s , olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and red onion. I don’t even need a dressing with this, but I served a homemade oil-free dressing that everyone loved. Can you believe I can’t find the recipe? It’s true, I remember what’s in it but not the amounts so I’ll make it again today and post it soon.

Minestrone Soup

I served Minestrone Soup that was glorious, it may have been the favorite of the evening. I’ve always gotten good reviews from it. I bought new Italian seasoning and I have to say it has a bit more “kick” than my previous seasoning. I may have used less had I known it’s potency.

HC Feb 005Before

HC Feb 007After

Everyone LOVED the Lasagna! One friend wasn’t able to attend that night but has since made it for her family and they really enjoyed it. Initially she was skeptical and is a self-proclaimed snob when it comes to Italian food but she was pleasantly surprised and plans to add it to her meal rotation.

Mac & Faux Cheese

This isn’t your typical Mac & Faux Cheese. Yes it is still carbalicious but I’m not afraid of carbs. It has potatoes and cauliflower that add veggies and creaminess without the dairy or oil you would typically get in Mac & Cheese. I added a little too much potato the night of Healthy Cravings and it really muted the cheesiness of the nutritional yeast, I should have added more but I didn’t. The reviewers didn’t love this dish as much as the lasagna. My 2 year old couldn’t get enough. Most of the attenders are still eating dairy and haven’t completely transitioned to a plant-based diet. As I warn in the recipe this is better for dairy-free people. If you are used to eating dairy or boxed Mac & Cheese this will not tantalize your taste buds the same way. If you are plant-based I think you will like it, feel free to dress it up or add other vegetables.

alfredoI didn’t serve this with peas or mushrooms at Healthy Cravings but you get the idea.

We also had Happy Herbivore’s Fettuccine Alfredo. I have made this numerous times and it has always been fantastic. Until the night of Healthy Cravings. I couldn’t find the kind of tofu I normally use so I tried a different brand and it was a bust. I’m sure it scared everyone away from vegan alfredo. We don’t normally use tofu or soy, maybe a few times a year but this alfredo is (usually) worth it. Maybe that is a good lesson, you can’t let one bad experience scare you away from something.

We finished off the evening by enjoying coffee and dessert. I have to thank my Dad for giving me a Keurig for Christmas, everyone loved the coffee, especially trying the So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer in original and French Vanilla. They also loved the gluten-free Biscotti I made. It wasn’t as crisp as traditional biscotti but the flavor was great. I plan to give it another go and share the recipe soon.

Now you can imagine you were here with us! Next months food theme is Breakfast! I’ll also pay a little more attention to breakfast on the blog for the month of March.

Healthy Cravings Recap: Are You Ready for the Super Bowl

I don’t watch football but I don’t mind attending a Super Bowl Party, especially if there is good food. Since my idea of good food varies greatly from that of the average person this months Healthy Cravings focused on Super Bowl and party food.

Most of the recipes I’ve been posting lately were recipes presented at Healthy Cravings. Almost all of the recipes were given rave reviews.

Nachos

We started with  Nacho Bar! A friend let me borrow here Crockpot Trio which contained Quinoa-Lentil Tacos, Unfried Beans, and Faux Cheese Sauce. I also had salsa, guacamole, black olives, jalapenos and of course tortilla chips.

I also had the typical veggie tray with Somer’s Vegan Ranch Dressing. Everyone liked it, I used rice milk instead of soy and it didn’t get as thick. Somer told me the soy milk is better so you should try it that way instead.

CHICKpea salad

We also had the CHICKpea salad in lettuce wraps. One of the ladies who attended had just told her husband that she did not like chickpeas; her mind was changed once she tasted these.

I made a gluten-free chocolate cake for dessert but I’m still tweaking the recipe. Hopefully I’ll be sharing it soon.

Another popular item was deviled potatoes that are posted at Happy Herbivore; they were really easy too. I wanted to make Buffalo Cauliflower but as time got short they were cut from the line up. Two friends helped out by bringing a few things. We had Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms using this walnut-pesto recipe from Veggies In My Freezer; another friend brought a pea dip and some delicious energy balls. I don’t have the links for those unfortunately but they were good.

We had great conversation and watched some clips from the Forks Over Knives Extended Interviews. One of the ladies who started coming to Healthy Cravings in September and switched to a plant-based diet in October shared how she has lost over 40 pounds. She is eating healthier and so is her daughter.

Not everyone who comes is eating plant-based but many are trying to eat healthier or just get more ideas and add variety to their diets.

What are you favorite party or Super Bowl Foods? I think the Nacho Bar was my favorite!

November Healthy Cravings Recap: A Thanksgiving Feast

Last week I had a great time with the group of ladies who come to my home for Healthy Cravings. If you’re new here and not sure what I’m talking about Healthy Cravings is a monthly meeting I host to help ladies learn and hopefully transition to a plant-based diet.

My sweet friend Rene came to share her story. She has been eating a plant-based diet for about 4 months and loves it. She told the group that she had always been a dieter but the other diets weren’t sustainable. Eating a plant-based diet is a life-style change for Rene and her husband. After sharing her story she was gracious enough to answer questions for the group. Thank you Rene!

This month’s theme was Thanksgiving foods. I’d been looking for ideas for quite a while and organizing them on Pinterest. Every dish was vegan and gluten-free. unfortunately I didn’t get great pictures since it was already dark but I’ll be remaking many of these dishes over the next two weeks.

These Mashed Potatoes were the most popular dish of the evening. Everyone loved them. They need no accompaniment but I made the Happy Herbivore’s Thanksgiving Gravy that you can find by clicking here along with all of Linsday’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

I also made the Sweet Potato Casserole that I shared yesterday. Everyone loved it too and several of the ladies have been patiently awaiting this recipe.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving Dinner has always been the Corn Bread Dressing. I created my own vegan and gluten-free recipe based on my Memaw’s recipe (that is full of eggs and butter). It tasted great when I made it in the morning, unfortunately it dried out through the re-heating process. I’ll continue to tweak this and share the recipe soon.

I made two recipes from Susan at Fat-Free Vegan. First was her Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie. It is really easy to make but came out more like a pumpkin mousse that a pie, I even made it the day before like she recommends. Next time I’ll likely cut back on some of the spices because it was a little too “spicy” for us.

Second was The Best Vegan Green Bean Casserole. I made this last year also and it is really good. So much better and better for you that my old recipe that used canned green beans, cans of cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions. I’ll admit I love those french fried onions but they contain wheat so I made my own gluten-free topping featuring GF bread crumbs, onions, and broth made from my broth mix.

Lastly I made Good Clean Food’s Cranberry Maple Compote. Forget your old, canned cranberry sauce this Cranberry Maple Compote is amazing. I have never liked cranberry sauce until now. I soooo wanted to pour this in a flaky crust and scoop some almond milk ice cream on top. I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

Our next Healthy Cravings group isn’t meeting until January but the food will focus on plant-based party and Super Bowl food. Oh yeah, come hungry.

Thanksgiving is just over a week away here in the U.S. so I’ll be enjoying these delicious foods at least once more this year. We are getting together with two other families who have really become family to us. I’m so thankful for them and I’m looking forward to sharing this special meal with them.

A Healthy Cravings Recap

Yesterday was a super busy day. I woke up at 5:30 am and didn’t stop until 11:00 pm. Last night was my first Healthy Cravings group. I had a little over a dozen people show up. I had more than enough food and will not need to cook all weekend. 🙂 I made several recipes from the Happy Herbivore Cookbooks, the new Forks Over Knives Cookbook, and some of my own. I started the evening my sharing my story of switching to a plant-based diet which you can read here. Then we ate, then watched a clip from Forks Over Knives, followed by a little Q&A.

I’m not sure what everyone thought but I know several ladies are really interested in a plant-based diet. I’m already looking forward to October’s Healthy Cravings group. For yesterday’s group I mostly stuck to my meal plan but I made a few changes. All in all I made:

  • Taco Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing FOK Cookbook pg 74
  • An adaptation of FOK Cookbook Kale Salad with Maple-Mustard Dressing pg 79
  • A typical garden salad
  • Happy Herbivore’s Chocolate Cupcakes HHC pg 215
  • An adaptation of FOK Cookbook Fudgy Chocolate Frosting pg 286
  • Happy Herbivore’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes HHC pg 213 I meant to make the Maple Icing but I never got around to it
  • I had two of the ladies help make a parfait by layering vanilla soy yogurt, diced apples, and homemade granola
  • Almond butter granola bars, some had carob chips
  • Brown Rice and Broccoli Bake
  • “Cheesy” Broccoli Baked Potato Bake
  • Lentil Ragu from the FOK Cookbook pg 158 made by my friend Steffi
  • Creamy Basil Pasta FOK Cookbook pg 141 made by Steffi also

That is all I can remember. It was a whirlwind day. My refrigerator is so full, we will be eating salad and pasta all weekend. I’m really looking forward to not having to cook. I loved hearing people say, “this is so good, what is it” or “what’s in it.” Some of the ladies who came were already eating plant-based, other’s had tried it a bit, and some may have never heard of it.

In other bloggy adventures you may be wondering where my “Food Waste Friday” post is. I’ve been slowly phasing it out. I also haven’t been post every day. I’ve been trying to spend more time with my boys and keep my time better spent on my top priorities. With that being said blogging and helping other’s learn about a plant-based diet is still high on my priority list but it isn’t above time with my family. I still plan to post several times a week but I don’t stress about it. There are so many great blogs out there if I go a few days without a post I don’t think we will miss out too much. But if you do, I post regularly to My Plant-Based Family on Facebook. I also post random pictures of what we are eating, comments my kids make about food, and links to other fabulous blogs or sites.

Thanks to Annie for taking pictures and sending them to me. I was too busy but really wanted some. She just started taking them and I’m so thankful!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Peppermint (Black Bean) Brownies

Last weekend I held my first Food Demo. I had 22 ladies and two cute little babies come to taste a while host of plant-based dishes. I had a great time and I think they did too! I’ve even been invited to do similar Demo’s at a couple of the ladies homes.

There was so much to do I didn’t get much of a chance to share the “why” of adopting a plant-based diet, I focused more on the “you can eat real, delicious food” on a plant-based diet.

Dinner was Mexican food; it’s something that we really like and seems “normal” to people who don’t normally eat Plant-based. I had wanted to prepare a lot of different kinds of foods but as more ladies RSVP’d I knew I wouldn’t be able to prepare/store/serve that many dishes in quantities large enough for everyone to enjoy. I had a few more ladies RSVP that were not able to come. We enjoyed:

We also had lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, and faux cheese sauce served with a choice of organic chips, corn or flour tortillas.  I demonstrated the faux cheese sauce for the group. One of my friends has been dairy-free for years, she LOVED it! There was also the obligatory veggie tray and hummus trio.

I also had a wide selection of desserts:

I had two ladies coming who are mostly gluten-free so I wanted to have at least one more gluten-free dessert. I came up with these brownies.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Peppermint Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup agave
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract (I spilled it and add way too much)
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks)

Do

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Process beans in food processor.
  3. Add the rest of ingredients except flour and chocolate chips.
  4. Process until smooth then transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Stir in brown rice flour then chocolate chips.
  6. Pour into non-stick pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until done.

Serve

I cut these into bite size pieces for easy eating. They could also be cut into big pieces and served with non-dairy ice cream or even blended into a shake or other ice cream treat. I think these will be a go-to recipe at Christmas paired with candy canes or even red and green sprinkles.