Holidays and food are so closely connected that it’s hard to even imagine one without the other. And not just any food, but very specific culinary traditions — often ones that have been passed down through generations. But what happens when you remove all animal products from your holiday goodies? Well, at least in the case of the New York’s legendary vegan restaurant, Candle Cafe, you end up with some incredibly tasty dishes. “Our restaurants always have wait lists on all the holidays, and we hate to turn people away,” says Joy Pierson, co-owner of Candle Cafe and coauthor of the new cookbook Vegan Holiday Cooking. “So putting our favorite holiday recipes in this book is a way to feed as many people as possible.”
Although it’s extremely difficult to pick a favorite recipe from my cookbook “At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well,” these brownies do stand out as one of the true winners. The idea of combining almond butter, dark chocolate and sea salt came to me on a car trip out of the city one weekend when I was craving something sweet and satisfying. The thought of those flavors combined in a vegan brownie was something I simply had to try. I wanted the brownies to be rich and nutty without being cloying; the flaky sea salt adds a lovely texture and helps balance out the sweetness. Dates blended with almond butter are the secret here for creating the fudgy texture. These brownies taste best when cold and also keep well in the fridge for a few days. I hope you get a chance to make them soon! Read more
Bake-Sale Ban: Half-Baked?
Ah, the beauty of the school bake sale: Hoovering homemade cookies somehow seems virtuous when the money is going to a good cause. (“It’s all for the kids!”) What to make, then, of reports that federal restrictions aiming to curb childhood obesity have led to a “ban” on treat-peddling school fundraisers? “In dozens of states, bake sales must adhere to nutrition requirements that could replace cupcakes and brownies with fruit cups and granola bars,” the Wall Street Journal warned. The Washington Post, however, was quick to point out that the states, not the federal government, will dictate the number of nutritionally questionable bake sales schools can have. Georgia, for instance, will allow 30 bake sales per year per school — which comes to 75,000 cupcake sprees state-wide annually.
Regulars in the celebrity-magazine rotation, including Jennifer Lopez, have credited their recent weight-loss success to the 22 Days vegan diet. It’s the same eating plan Beyoncé and Jay-Z popularized by posting food photos on Instagram. But is cutting out all animal products a healthy way to lose weight?
Why 22 Days?
The creator of this particular vegan diet, Marco Borges, is an exercise physiologist who believes veganism is the perfect way to achieve optimum wellness. His theory is that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, and so he developed the 22 Days Challenge in order to achieve his so-called “major breakthrough.”
Throw a bash these days, and you’ll likely be faced with a barrage of requests from friends who are gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free — you name it. But that doesn’t mean these guests are fun-free! Whatever your pals’ eating styles, they will be primed to party (and think you are the Best Host Ever) when you serve one of these dishes.
For the (Gluten-Free) Quinoa-tarian: Quinoa Salad (above)
Here, the gluten-free king of the grain aisle gets tossed with cubes of cucumber, red onion, and tomato in a simple oil-vinegar-lemon dressing. Fresh mint and parsley add bright flavor, and when the salad is spooned into endive spears with diced avocado, the whole thing becomes a party on a platter.
For the Flexitarian: Creamy Broccoli Salad
A little bit of bacon goes a long way in this tasty side — good news for friends who are trying to cut back on meat, especially the processed variety. Two strips of crisp bacon are finely chopped before being tossed with the broccoli, onions and golden raisins. Buttermilk, reduced-fat sour cream, lemon and bacon drippings form the irresistible dressing.
No meat, no cheese — no problem! Whether you’re aiming to eat a little bit cleaner or just want to be more like Beyoncé (who completed a 22-day vegan challenge last year), there’s really no wrong reason to add these vegan recipes to your repertoire.
Vegan Lentil Burgers (above)
Admit it: You’re pretty sure even the most serious vegans miss burgers from time to time. These hearty lentil burgers are packed with other wholesome ingredients, like spinach and walnuts, and get their flavor from a punchy trio of garlic, black pepper and cumin that will make you forget all about their beefy brethren.
Vegan Tofu and Spinach Scramble
For those in the “Vegan Before Six” club, we’d like to introduce you to your new egg-breakfast substitute. The tofu is spiced up with turmeric, pepper and cayenne; it may actually be better than your standard scramble. Read more
Everyone loves a good bowl of comforting mac and cheese, right? When it’s too hot to turn on the oven to make baked macaroni and cheese, make this easy, stove-top version instead. It’s extra-flavorful and you can whip up this easy dish in no time. I’ve tossed in corn and spinach for added fresh flavor (plus fiber) as well as red pepper flakes for a bit of heat to fire up summer celebrations. And did I mention, it’s both dairy and gluten-free? So you can rest assured your guests all have something to enjoy. Leftovers for this dish taste great the next day added to a fresh bed of leafy greens such as arugula.
With berry season in full swing, nothing beats a bowl of sweet, in-season fruit for dessert. Growing up, berries and Cool-Whip or whipped cream was a staple treat in my house. As an adult I’m not able to eat dairy, but still want to enjoy the classic combination. Here’s a fun, healthy upgrade to a traditional whipped cream that you’ll love. It’s bursting with rich, creamy flavor, is dairy free and added sugar is optional.