Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

Since my answer to the Vegend’s question of “Do we have dessert?” is rarely one he wants to hear (“We have grapes!”), I decided to clean up his favorite treat–an oatmeal cookie–so we can have them around the house without much guilt.

In the past, I’ve attempted to satisfy his oatmeal-cookie-specific sweet tooth with all sorts of alternatives–oatmeal cookie “nice cream” (mashed up bananas, frozen and laced with lightly toasted maple cinnamon oats) and whole wheat maple oat bread–with varying levels of success. I think we’ve found our winner after many, many test kitchen versions of this one. I really hope he still likes oatmeal cookies.

Though brown sugar is still a part of this version, I’ve cut it down by half. By using a combination of almond butter and applesauce to replace the butter, neither overtake the oaty, cinnamony flavor you’re going for. Plus, they each lend their natural sweetness to the cookie.

You’d be surprised how quickly you get used to less-sweet desserts but if you feel that this version is a bit too ascetic, replace the raisins with good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips and/or keep the original amount of brown sugar in the dough (total for the original recipe is 2/3 cup). After all, as the Vegend says about this recipe, “At its essence, it’s still a cookie” so by all means, have fun with it. Just don’t share with the Vegend.

Be warned: this dough gets a little bit of chill time before baking (figure an hour), so plan your craving accordingly.
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Meet Sweets Days

Sweets Days

I recently got a request from the Vegend’s mother. She said, “Please stop baking so much! For the Vegend’s sake!” I reminded her, as I often do, that she and I are on the same team: we both want the Vegend to be healthy, to feel good, and to be around for a very long time. I assured her that I am careful with what I bake and that I often “disappear” nearly all treats out of our home under the cover of darkness (or an oversleeping Vegend) so there’s not even a crumb to find.

It also helps that my cravings for sweets have diminished over the years. Where I used to bake to satisfy my own needs (OMG peanut butter chocolate chip cookies), I now typically bake for celebrations, special occasions, or upon request. My cravings reduction is no accident; it is the result of a carefully designed approach that, after years of stops and starts with other methods, finally worked.

Meet Sweets Days.

Sweets Days are the three glorious days of the week in which you can–and should–have some sort of sweet treat, provided that nothing else you’re eating has added sugar (looking at you, drinks and packaged foods). It should only be one treat (don’t go all “kitchen sink sundae” on us) and your Sweets Days shouldn’t be consecutive–mine were Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The goal is to slowly wean yourself off too much sugar while still allowing for some fun. I’m not a masochist, after all.
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Make Your Awesome #DeskLunch Just 14 Times A Year

Meal Prep

The Vegend and I each possess a trait that may drive others quite mad: we could eat the same thing every day for about a week before we really can’t look at it anymore. He tends to use this approach when food shopping–we have our staples like farro, peppers, arugula, nuts, and lemons–and I use it when conceiving of and cooking my desk lunches. I typically eat the same meal every day for a week and then do it all over again, with a different dish, the next week. Since I started my current full-time job in February 2016, I have missed maybe (maybe!) two days of bringing my lunch. I figure that this slightly nutty approach has saved me more than $4000 over the last 23 months. That’s serious stuff!

Here’s the good news: you can do this, too. The secret, like in many things, is in the prep.

Because the Vegend and I both cook and/or bake, one of us is always jockeying for the kitchen. And since I love being served his fresh, amazing, and healthful meals, I usually let him have it (I mean, have you checked INSTAGRAM for the things he’s made?). But that means that my time in the kitchen is often limited, especially during the weekend prime cooking time, when I’ve ceded the territory in exchange for an awesome brunch. As a result, I’ve condensed my desk lunch prep time to a single day or afternoon (including the food shop) and make meals for three weeks at a time. That means that I only think about the whole deal for a couple of days each month and I get to approach most Sundays with nary a care about what I’ll be eating for lunch that week. Plus, I only really have to clean up once.
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Vegan Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato and Spinach

Lentil Soup

Here’s the deal. This soup is good. Like really good. It’s got all the right things in all the right places: it’s sweet courtesy of a medium sweet potato (large if you’re feeling extravagant), salty and earthy from kosher salt and cumin, and colorful from the handful (or two) of spinach you add in at the end. It’s also full of fiber. Like beware-if-you-eat-too-much-of-it levels of fiber. Don’t let that scare you off though. It’s worth it.

Lentil soup is an easy one for the Vegend and me. He doesn’t mind swapping out vegetable stock for chicken stock (really, who could tell?) and it provides a stick-to-your-ribs feeling that, say, a bolognese might (I guess). It also freezes well in case we need a last minute dinner.

It’s an excellent recipe to play around with; in my opinion, most soup recipes are. Fiddle with the spices, the veggies, the herbs to create flavors all your own. We typically use low sodium or no salt vegetable stock so we can control the saltiness.

Do your best to chop things up as described but don’t worry all that much. This is a soup best left chunky. Continue reading “Vegan Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato and Spinach”

Just Start

It’s the first of the year! No doubt it’s also the first of many things for you: the first day you’re going plant-based, the first day of your 10,000 steps challenge, the first day finally doing that thing you said you’d do. No matter what you’re tackling this year, you’re doing what that little voice in your head, your heart, your gut, is telling you to do:

“Just start.”

So here I am, too, just starting at I am Vegend. After months (years!?) of talking about the sort of blog I’d like to do, I’m actually doing it.

My food journey probably looks a lot like yours: born into an omnivorous house filled with the scents of roasts and ribs. At ten, my precociousness gave way to an aversion to red meat (I had seen a 20/20 special) but a devotion to chicken. Because I’m really cool, I used my early driving privileges for regular pickups of chicken fingers and french fries until I slowly nudged those out of my life, too.

Then, the final straw. After moving to New York City in 2008, I had no kitchen in which to cook and no money to spend. Vegetarian meals and ingredients were almost always less expensive than meat dishes so I began to fill at least half my plate with produce and grains. After a healthy dose of the hottest food books at the time, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Eating Animals, and others, there was no turning back.
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