My New Favorite Vegan Cookbook- Naturally Gourmet

A few months ago, one of my husband’s relatives gave us a vegan cookbook- Naturally Gourmet by Karen Houghton.  The recipes are all pretty simple and easy and, so far, all of the dishes have been VERY tasty!  I actually made every single dish at our recent Christmas dinner from recipes in this book:

  • Lentil Roast
  • Zucchini Casserole
  • Whipped Potatoes
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Pear Pie

I’m a pretty big fan of pumpkin pie, so I’ve been extremely interested in finding a good vegan pumpkin pie.  This cookbook just happens to have the best vegan pumpkin pie recipe that I have EVER tasted!

Other recipes I’ve made and really liked:

  • Brazilian Salad
  • Lentil Soup
  • Eggplant & Garbanzo Ratatouille
  • Indian Lentils and Rice
  • Mushroom Gravy- my husband really loves this one!
  • Vegetable Pot Pie
  • Pesto Pizza
  • Apple Walnut Muffins- YUM!

As you can see, the recipes don’t have fancy names.  They usually don’t have fancy ingredients either, which I like.  My ONLY complaint would be that sometimes they call for processed products (such as Better Than Sour Cream).  However, a lot of the recipes don’t, and often you can make your own substitutions. Oh, and here’s the really great part- EVERY recipe in the book is accompanied by a full-page beautiful color picture of the finished product.  As a visual learner, I really respond to this type of cookbook, and so do my digestive juices  🙂  I also love that the cooking directions are simple and to-the-point.  Read-with-a-dictionary words can be fun, but not when I’m a hurry to get some dinner on the table.

Here’s something you can try at home right now- a mushroom gravy recipe that I adapted from the one in Naturally Gourmet.

Vegan Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 T La Chikky Seasoning (or similar MSG-free vegetarian chicken or beef seasoning)

    I really love this stuff

  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3-4 fresh mushrooms

Blend water and cashews until creamy.  Add cornstarch, vegetarian chicken seasoning and salt.  Blend well.  Add mushrooms and blend briefly.  Cook gravy in a kettle until thickened, stirring frequently.  Serves 6.

Many of the recipes in Naturally Gourmet use their version of this basic gravy recipe.  I changed it just a tad based on the ingredients I preferred or usually had on hand.  It is delicious over mashed potatoes, in a vegetarian pot pie, or over toast!  If you like it, I would highly recommend this cookbook, especially if you’re new to vegan cooking.  It’s my current go-to when I’m looking for weekday recipes to try.

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Roasted Potatoes with Lemon and Dill

Prebaking: Everything except the dill

I’m sitting here feeling very guilty that I haven’t posted anything in awhile.  I’ve actually tried several RAVE recipes that I haven’t written about yet.  And it’s NOT because I haven’t been sticking with whole foods, I’m happy to say!  Well, I’ve had a few slip-ups and exceptions, of course, but the couple of times where I just threw everything out and decided to, I don’t know, eat a bunch of cheese or something, I found that after just a bit of it I was completely sick of it and wanted to eat some whole foods again!  So I’m still eating whole foods and still loving it.  I’ve relaxed my standards a bit from what I was doing during the months of January and February, but I’ve really never been this consistently healthy in my dietary habits for so long, and I’m beginning to think it may last.  I’ve found that once I’ve switched to a healthy diet, my body really gets a lot better at recognizing the bad stuff and reacting to it.  A little dairy and, wow, I really see it in my skin!

I need to really get cracking on all my RAVE recipes if I’m going to make my August 13 deadline, but it’s tough when there are so many great whole food recipes elsewhere that I’m dying to try!  Last Friday I made a recipe I found in the latest issue of Real Simple.  It was truly simple, but delicious as well.  My husband didn’t like the lemon so much, but I thought it was nice and different.  The potatoes I used were a liiiittle bigger than they should have been, so I probably should have increased the baking time a bit, but they were just barely done. It might be good to try this recipe with just the olive oil, dill, and rosemary if you’re not into roasted lemon.

Ingredients (you can also find the recipe from it’s original source here, as well as the delicious-looking picture the lured me in 🙂 ):

  • 2 pounds new potatoes, halves
  • 1 thinly sliced lemon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss all ingredients (except the dill) on a baking sheet (or a large baking dish, like I used).
  2. Roast for 30-35 minutes until tender, tossing once.  Toss with the dill before serving.  Enjoy!

After baking: chopped fresh dill mixed in

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #12- Sweet Potato Fries

I couldn’t stop eating these deliciously sweet fries!  My husband and I both rated Sweet Potato Fries an 8.  This was actually the first sweet potato fry recipe I have tried in which the fries have actually turned out a little bit crispy, so that was exciting.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, cut like fries (this is time intensive, but worth it)
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Toss cut vegetables, broth, & cinnamon in a bowl.  Transfer to baking sheet.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for about 50 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  During the last 30 minutes of baking, toss occasionally.  At the end of baking, toss with maple syrup.

This recipe is GUARANTEED to smell delicious while cooking and taste the same!  It’s sweet enough to almost be a dessert without being overpoweringly so.  I can’t wait to have this again (not looking forward  to chopping the potatoes, though, haha!)

Vegan Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Roasted Garlic

There’s a potluck at church tomorrow, so I made a soup to bring.  I got the recipe off of ChooseVeg.com.  I’ve gotten a couple of recipes from them lately and they’ve both been good, so I think I’ll be trying some more!  This recipe is vegan, though not necessarily whole foods.  My whole foods cookbook does use vegetable stock, though, so maybe that isn’t processed enough to count as a processed ingredient??  Vegetable don’t come out of the ground that way, though…  Anyway, it’s a very healthy recipe, and you could even eliminate the oil if you sauteed the garlic in a little vegetable stock instead.

Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

makes 4 servings

prep time: 20 minutes

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly pressed
  • 2 green apples, peeled and chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • olive oil (or a couple Tablespoons vegetable stock)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • lemon (optional)

In a large pan, heat olive oil and saute the garlic cloves until golden.  Add apple and squash.  Add salt and pepper and stir.  Let cook for 3 minutes.

Add vegetable stock and simmer until squash is tender.

Blend in a blender in batches.

Serve with lemon if desired.

It’s that easy!  A super simple recipe (once you get done with all the chopping).  I did a little taste test and it’s quite delicious!

Vegan Strawberry Milkshake

Best vegan milkshake ever!

I made the BEST strawberry milkshake tonight!!!  My friend on Facebook was talking about dipping fries in her milkshake and I got the biggest craving :-/

Anyway, I didn’t measure very well, but here’s my recipe:

  • one cup of vanilla almond milk
  • a handful of frozen strawberries
  • a generous amount of agave syrup (maybe 2 or 3 Tablespoons?)

I put it all in the blender and blended until smooth.  This makes enough for one serving in a tall glass.  Double it if you want to share with someone 🙂

It was de-licious!  Very sweet, which made it taste very milkshake-like and totally satisfy my craving.  You could use less agave if you like.

Anyway, I don’t suppose this actually counts as a “whole food” recipe because the almond milk and agave syrup are processed, but it is vegan.

RAVE Diet Recipes and Whole Foods Eating

So, just a little report on my progress.  So far I’ve made four recipes from the RAVE Diet book: Lentil-Bulgur Pilaf, Smoothie #1 aka Baby Poop Smoothie, Spinach Barley Cakes, and Curried Sweet Potato Soup.  I posted the recipe for the Sweet Potato Soup, if anyone is interested- it was yummy!

I think doing this is working pretty well so far to keep me on track with the whole foods diet, if only because I have to constantly think about being healthy when I’m always buying healthy ingredients, making healthy recipes, and then writing blogs about them.

I was disappointed in myself yesterday at someone else’s house when I knowingly took some food that had cheese in it.  Granted, I took minuscule portions, but I still could have easily passed those foods by, especially since the person serving them completely understood my eating habits and purposefully told me of the contents of the foods.  Ack.  Fail.  But really I’ve held up so much better than in the past that I’m greatly encouraged, and I really do feel good about the way I’ve been eating.  Maybe I can really make this a permanent lifestyle change!

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #3- Spinach Barley Cakes

Today I made Barley Cakes- Spinach.  They were pretty tasty, though I’m still struggling to get used to the salt-less cooking.  I added some salt after the fact, but it’s really not the same.  I tried cooking these in a skillet like the recipe says, but they stuck and fell apart.  I then tried baking them.  It took a long time, but they did seem to stick together better.  Anyway, my husband gave Spinach Barley Cakes a 6 and I gave it a 7.  After eating the leftovers today, I almost feel as if I’d like to lower my score, but I’ll stick to my original impression.

Spinach Barley Cakes