Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies

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Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies fresh outta the oven.

It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiime of the yeaaaaar! Why, it’s time for vegan holiday cookies! This recipe for vegan ginger molasses cookies is one of my favorites, I love the spiciness of these cookies (which, if you’ve ever seen any of the breakfast foods I post on Instagram, you’d notice a pattern of adding very friendly shakes of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to pretty much everything – smoothies, overnight oats, muesli, pancakes, life in general…). This baby is another great “make ahead” recipe – and you bet your bippy that I made this ahead. It’s currently residing in a cooler in the trunk of the Marshmallow Mobile for transport to CT later today (make sure you give me a honk on Waze to say hi if you’re on I-84 today). This cookie dough can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for a month. Also, I ALWAYS use blackstrap molasses in place of the other kinds of molasses, because it’s a sweetener that actually has some nutritional value (unlike refined sugar or corn syrup, which has been processed and stripped of all its nutrients except simple carbohydrates). The nutrients found in blackstrap molasses include manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. Bonus!! Okaaaaay, so that doesn’t exactly make these cookies “healthy” enough to eat the whole batch in one sitting, but a few of these holiday treats won’t kill ya. 😉 Without further ado….

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All the ingredients for Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies: flour, vegan marg, baking soda, baking powder, spices, blackstrap molasses, organic and coconut sugar.

Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened
3/4 cup coconut sugar*, plus extra for rolling
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1 -2 tablespoons water

*This time I actually used half organic sugar, half coconut sugar, but use whatever you’d like/you have. 🙂

Directions

Step One: Cream the butter and sugar together, using a stand or hand mixer. Slowly add the molasses and water and mix until well combined.
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Adding molasses to the butter and sugar. YUM!

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After the molasses has been added and mixed in, and before the addition of the flour mixture. It was smelling divine!

Step Two: In a medium to large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves. If any one of those smell particularly good to you (like for me, the cloves!) add an extra shake or two. Can’t hurt. 😉
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Flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices in a large bowl, ready to be whipped into shape.

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The homogeneous mixture after mixing (sorry, you can’t take the Chemistry out of this gal sometimes).

Step Three: Turn the mixing speed to low (see my note on Antiquing yourself in Vegan Christmas Cookies – Part One) and slowly add the flour mixture in small portions. Make sure you do a little Holiday jig while you wait for each portion to be combined.
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Action shot! Slowly adding the flour in so it doesn’t end up all over YOU. 😉

Step Four: Once the flour mixture has all been combined, you can stop here and transfer your dough to an airtight container for storage in the fridge up to a week (which is what I did). If you’re just rarin’ to go, proceed to step five.
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The finished dough! Ready either to be made into cookies, or transferred to an airtight container.

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As in my previous post, I simply transferred my dough into an airtight container, wrote out the directions on an index card and taped it right on the lid of the container.

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So pumped to make these! Woohooo!!

Step Five: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two to three large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners. Roll the dough into balls (about 1 rounded tablespoon at a time) then dip the top half in a shallow dish filled with sugar. Place them on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 miles, allowing them to cool directly on the pan.
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Roll the dough into small balls, and then roll in the balls in sugar. YUMMM. Try not to eat all the batter like my sister did when I was rolling these.

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Place the rolled cookies onto a baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper – it makes it a breeze to remove them once they are baked.

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As you can see, my family got to these cookies before I could take a picture of all of them baked. This recipe makes about 40 cookies.

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I wish you could smell these through your computer screen because DAMN they are good! They were gone in two days.

Yum!! These are literally the best. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family! We chowed them in less than two days, I think they were everyone’s favorite. Woohoo, Christmas!

Sending you all lots of love and holiday cheer today, yippeeeeee!!

xoxox,

L ❤

Vegan Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

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Holy sugar plums batman, it’s ALMOST CHRISTMAS!! Three days! Woooo woooo!! Instead of braving the crowd of people at the malls scooping up their last gifts before the big day, I spent the weekend a) relaxing before the madness (/recovering from a wicked cold, which through tea and hot yoga has been vanquished) and b) prepping food for transport to my sister’s house in CT. I made two types of vegan cookies, both of which have dough that is okay for “make ahead” and can be refrigerated up to one week before you bake it. And because baking cookies as a family is fun, and they taste best when they are hot out of the oven, and because I own zero cookie cutters and my mom has about 5689 in fun holiday shapes, I decided this was a great candidate for “make ahead and bring”. Also, I want to spend Christmas Day playing with my nephew, not standing in front of a KitchenAid.

First things first – what is Christmas without decorating sugar cookies as a family? Um, not one that I would like to participate in. Decorating cookies has always been a holiday tradition in my house, and we still are down for it, especially since the traditional recipe has been replaced with a new, improved vegan version that is way more delicious (and better for you, and the earth!). The best thing about these vegan cut-out sugar cookies is that they are guilt-free – they have less than half the amount of calories in the traditional cut-out cookies, are yummy and soft (no one want cardboard-textured ANYTHING), and DAMN good – even without the frosting. The second best thing? There are no eggs in this recipe, so you can eat as much raw batter as you’d like without getting whacked with a wooden spoon. YES LIFE. Without further ado…

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All the ingredients for Mom’s Vegan Sugar Cookies! So simple: powdered sugar, flour, flaxmeal, vanilla extract, almond extract, vegan margarine. So easy! 🙂

Mom’s Vegan Sugar Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

For cookies:
2 tablespoon ground flaxseed (or flaxmeal – same diff)
6 tablespoons (warm) water
1 cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance is my fave)
1 cup organic powdered sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling

For frosting*:
2 cups powdered sugar
8 -10 teaspoons vanilla soy milk
Sprinkles or colored sugar crystals

*Mom and I also added 2 Tbsp of soy butter to our frosting to make it more like butter cream and less like a glaze. YUM!

Directions

Step One: Make the flaxmeal “eggs” by placing 1 Tbsp flaxmeal into a small bowl, then adding 3 Tbsp warm water. Give it a good stir, and allow the flaxmeal “eggs” to stand for about 15 minutes, until they have an “egg-like” consistency. You can grind your own flax seeds up to make the flaxmeal, or you can just buy Bob’s Red Mill Brand like I did (let’s make this easy as possible, shall we?).
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Allow your flaxseed “eggs” to chill for a little bit. Do a dance. Make yourself a cup of tea. Stretch out in dancer’s pose. Whatev. You’ve got 15 or minutes to do YOU. 😉

Step Two: If your butter is coming straight out of the fridge, or if you just pulled it off the shelf in Stop N’Shop, place into a microwave safe bowl and give a good nuke to soften it (15 – 20 seconds should do it). Pour into the a stand-alone mixer or large bowl, and add the powdered sugar. Cream the butter and sugar using the mixer (whatever kind you like to use).
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Whooopsie! I forgot and added vanilla and almond extract before I took a picture of the creamed butter. Welp, my vegan marg was pretty much completely melted – but that’s ok because you put the whole dang thing in the fridge and let it chill for an hour or more. It’ll stiffen right up to where it needs to be after that, so it’s okay if your butter/sugar looks a little melty.

Step Three: Add the vanilla and almond extract and the flaxmeal “eggs”, beat well until combined.
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Vegan marg, sugar, flaxmeal “eggs” and vanilla/almond extract mixed in. If you don’t love the flax seed chunks, tough nuggets. Just kidding – you can just grind them down to a finer powder. Also, I think golden flaxmeal exists too, maybe try that? I’m not really offended by it so I just go with the flow, man.

Step Four: Turn the mixing speed to low and slowly add the flour in small portions (trust me, you do not want to dump it all in at once, or you will antique yourself – if you have no idea what I’m talking about, YouTube “Antiquing Flour Prank” and you’ll get a nice giggle. Otherwise you’ll look like the president of the frat diagonally across from my sorority house who once upon a time was antiqued in a very epic and elaborate fashion – you know who you are.)
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I slowly scoop my flour into the mixer using a big spoon, let it completely fold into the dough, then add some more. It takes a hot minute, so put on some good tunes and jam while you patiently add the flour.

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Here’s what my dough looked like at the end. It was still pretty flexible, which will be fixed by chilling it in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling.

Step Five: Once all the ingredients are happily mixed, knead the dough to combine and roll it into a bowl. Place that sucker into an airtight container (or plastic ziploc) and put it into the fridge for at least an hour to chill. I personally stopped here – the rolling and cookie cutting will be done on Christmas Eve in Southern Connecticut!
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Since I’m only semi Vegan Betty Crocker, instead of baking these cookies, I just scooped all that gorgeous vegan cookie dough right into an airtight container. To make my life that much easier, I wrote the remaining directions right out on an index card and taped it to the top of the container. And done.

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Step Six: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two cookie sheets with sil-pat liners or parchment paper, or really roll the dice and spray with nonstick spray and set them aside. Knead 1/2 of the dough for 10 seconds or so to make it more pliable (really get in there – use those muscles!!). With a rolling pin, roll it flat onto a clean, floured surface until it’s 1/4 inch-ish in thickness. (The flour is key so that your cookie dough doesn’t stick to the counter and turn you into a sad panda).
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L’s Mom in action rolling out the dough. We split our cookie dough in sections, and kept the sections we weren’t working on the in the freezer. The colder the dough was, we found the easier to roll it and cut out shapes. Once the dough warms up, it gets really pliable and difficult to work with.

Step Seven: The best part, woohoo!! Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes, and place cookies on the parchment paper.
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Go to town cutting shapes out! It helps if you dip your cookie cutters into a little pile of flour to help them come out of the dough easier (that’s a Tip from Mom right there – she’s the cookie cutting master!!).

Step Eight: Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (keep your eye on the ball – watch carefully to make sure the edges don’t brown). Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before attempting to remove them (it helps prevent them from breaking apart).
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It depends on your oven and how “done” you like your sugar cookies, we baked ours for eight minutes. Also to note, we had no trouble getting them off cookie sheets that were plain – no baking spray, no Silpat or parchment paper. As long as your cookie sheets are in good shape, it should be a piece of cake to remove them! 🙂

Step Nine: Allow to cool completely, and try not to eat them all before you can frost them. 😉
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After the sugar cookies have cooled for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, transfer to a wire rack to allow them to cool completely before frosting.

Step Ten: Mix together the ingredients for the icing to your desired consistency, and decorate however you want! Obviously, adjust the soymilk/powdered sugar ratios until it’s just right for you. Personally, we divide the frosting in a few smaller bowls and add food coloring (I’m sure there is natural food coloring and sprinkles that exist, but I just use the kind you find in the baking aisle). You can even make this super fun and “healthy” by adding coconut flakes, raw cacao nibs – whatever you’d like in addition or instead of sprinkles. What the hell – why not throw some chia seeds on there? Experiment, and most importantly, have FUN! 😀
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The best part: have fun decorating! Here my sister and bro-in-law are modeling our efforts. 😀 😀 Get creative and crazy!! 😀

These are seriously some of my favorite things to make for Christmas! I truly hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does, and I hope that I’ve inspired you guys to be easy on yourselves this holiday. Make stuff ahead. Don’t stress. We are all superwoman/superman (duhhh), but it doesn’t all have to be perfect all the time. You’ll never remember that stuff anyway. You WILL remember hugging your mom, or playing with your nephew, or laughing with your sister over a glass of wine. If it’s not perfect, who cares. Your family loves you just the way you are! 😀 K I’m off my soapbox now. But you guys are truly great, and I’m just here to remind you every now and then. 😀

Sending Christmas/Holiday/Hanukkah Spirit your way today! Happy Monday, too!

With warmth,

L

xox ❤

Friday Faaaaves!

photo-1It’s Friday! It’s Friday! And even better, it’s the last Friday before Christmas. Thus, this edition of Friday Faves will combine my fave ever gifts to give (and get).

1. A really nice bottle of booze.

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Aka, the namesake of this blog. But obvs pick one YOU like – bourbon, gin, scotch, champs, Merlot – you name it. It’s never a bad idea. 😉

2. A super sexy cozy flannel.

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Make sure you find a hunky Lumbersexual man to give it to. Or just keep it for yourself. Because the 90’s are NEVER over.

3. A race!

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Race registration fees add up over time (tell me about it, especially when you **need** a new cute running outfit for each one), and it’s the perf gift to give to those you love. You can train together and celebrate afterwards as well (maybs you can even crack open that bubbly you got in celebration)! 😀

4.  A gift certificate to the spa.

spaBecause, let’s face it, we are all busy and prob have something better to spend $100 on than getting wrapped up like a burrito after a rub down. But it’s amazing, stress-relieving and just gosh-dang INDULGENT. And that, my friends, is a perfect gift (unless you’re insanely ticklish like I am, it’s pretty amazing to get a full body rub down, or pedi, or facial – whatever you’re into).

5. A super delicious meal.

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Cook for your people. Crack open a bottle of wine. Put your phones away and sit around the table and LAUGH. Savor the meal slowly over candlelight. Enjoy life.  It’s the little things. We (it’s a royal “we” –  I’m including all of you in this but it’s a very serious L prob) don’t make time for these things. Life is busy, we are busy, but it makes you (/me) enjoy life so much more when you take your time to appreciate those little things with the people you really, really care about. That’s what it’s all about.

Here are just a few delicious ideas to get your creative cooking juices flowin’…

Yummm…I just got SO hungry looking through the recipes I’ve posted!! Is it lunch time yet? 😛

I hope you guys are all feeling inspired, warm, fuzzy and holiday-ish on the inside now. I certainly am! I am ready for the weekend. It’s a long run weekend, and I’m ready to bundle up and get my lil rear out there running along the trails. LOVING. IT.

Falalalalaaaaaaaaa!!

With love,

L

xo ❤

PS: Did I say Happy Friday yet?! HAPPY FRIDAY, MY B&B LOVES! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 😀 😀 😀

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Doesn’t Boston look so pretty dressed up for the holidays? I’m just not over it yet. 😉

L’s Goin’ CRAZ-AY!

Fear not all, I have not actually fallen off the face of the earth. Life got crazy, crazy busy – I haven’t bought groceries in two weeks (I’ve been living on smoothies and toast, thank you very much) and I have a trillion Holiday engagements this week (one of which includes getting my brows waxed and then finishing my holiday shopping on Newbs with scary red blotches around my brows – I may terrify some small children). I didn’t forget about you all – I’m sending you lots of love and happy Christmukkah thoughts your way (maybe it’s due to the current level of crazy I’m experiencing, but I just picture this as sending red and green wavy lines from my fingertips into the blog-o-sphere – I’m looooosing it!). 😉

So to re-cap:

1. Work is crazy (this is what happens when you have the best, relaxing day of your life on your day off and then come back to a mountain of work taller than you on your desk).

2. I have no food in my house (and I can’t stop eating all the holiday treats everyone is bringing into work – aaah!).

3.I haven’t had a decent workout since Monday (but it’s happening today. It’s on like Donkey Kong, or I really just MAY go off the deep end).

4. I’m kind of losing my mind (see 1, 2, 3 above).

5. I miss you guys, and all your comments on the usually bomb food I make. I promise not to let you down! This weekend and early next week I will be cranking away in my kitchen making food, and sharing the deliciousness that I dream up. I’m SO excited to eat quinoa and kale and tofu again, you have no idea. I’ve been missing all the super crunchy food that my diet is usually composed of (i.e. not the stuff I’ve been eating out of take-out containers, or a crinkly bag, or off a tray of treats that Accounting brought in).

I hope that all of you have been experience productive, mellow, and harmonious pre-holiday-ness (aka pretty much the exact opposite of what I’ve been experiencing here). I am sending you all lots of love and once I am able to iron out the cray wrinkles in my schedule I’ll be back with tons of recipes and deliciousness. Have no fear, L is here! 😀

I’ll leave you with some pics of my city all dressed up for the holidays!

photo 1 photo 3With warmth,

L

xo ❤

Life Update!

Good morning good morning!! I’m writing to you not from my desk but from my kitchen table! I am taking today off to spend time with my little sister (from my sorority) who I haven’t seen in what feels like a billion years. When I landed on Friday night from New Mexico, there she was! We have had such an amazing weekend. It’s been sooooo much fun to drag her all over Boston (and the surrounding towns of course) and show her all of my fave haunts. We went to one of my fave spots EVER Highland Kitchen in Somerville, MA and got amazinggg food and drinks.
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Yesterday we ran in the Jingle Bell 5K with 7,000 of our closest friends. People were DECKED OUT. It was pretty fantastic. I did “okaaaay” for me and ran it in about 26 minutes. It was not a PR but at least I was faster than 8:30 min/mile. 😉

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I made a pretty stellar muesli with apples, cranberries and spices cooked right in for our pre race breakfast. Don’t worry, recipes to come. It’s kinda tricky writing posts from your phone, so check back later on. I topped the muesli with banana, pomegranate, cacao nibs, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, coconut and almond butter. It was one of the best combos I’ve ever made! Amazingggg.

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Today we are going to get to so my dream day off – gym (check, already done), a mellow morning yoga class and then shopping on Newbury Street and romping all over Boston to see my fave city all snazzed up for the Holidays.

Welp, I’m off to have my holiday filled day! I hope you all had great weekends and have a great Monday today!!

With warmth,

L

Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale with Vegan Parmesan Cheeze

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale with Vegan Parmesan Cheeze

Last week I made a trip to my local farm stand and picked up locally-grown butternut squash and kale (I’m all about the local fruits/veggies, even if it is a little more expensive – you’ve gotta support your local farmers!). Besides apples, they were the only locally grown items I could find, and so I decided to combine them together into the perfect late fall/winter dish. I’m still on the whole “Thanksgiving detox” train where I want whole, fresh foods with lots of flavor without being rich or heavy. I decided to venture into relatively unknown territory, and make some vegan cheeze to sprinkle on top. I love trying new things, stepping outside of familiar territory and the further along I go on this blogging adventure, the deeper and deeper I go down the Vegan Rabbit Hole. Because some of my favorite people in the universe have allergies to some nuts, I made my vegan cheeze with almonds, hazelnuts and nutritional yeast as the main components (however, only after my dad mercilessly made fun of the fact that I was about to ingest something called “nutritional yeast”- lots of inapprop jokes followed which, I will do you a favor, and not re-post here). This dish was surprisingly easy, and I was (not gonna lie, I was prepared for the worst) pleasantly surprised as to how “cheesy” my vegan parm tasted! It was SO delicious, and it really elevated the flavor of the roasted veggies to something exceptional and very tasty.

This recipe has all of your fave qualities that you typically find on B&B: fast, easy, nutrient dense and SUPER flavorful. There really isn’t much to it (cooking skill-wise – I’m giving a hard look at you B, and all my readers who are a little cooking-challenged – you can DEF handle this one). 😉 I will definitely be making this dish again for my family for the holidays, and will wait until after my dad has eaten an entire serving before I kindly inform him that he just ate nutritional yeast. 😉 It would be a great additional to your holiday table – healthy, hearty and sure to be a crowd-pleaser because of the AMAZINGGG flavor. If you’re not down with the yeast, I would still make the topping sans yeast because the nuttiness is an excellent addition to the roasted veggies.

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Ingredients: Kale, butternut squash, shallot, hazelnuts, almonds and nutritional yeast.

 Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale with Vegan Parmesan Cheeze

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, patted dry and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium-sized shallot, diced
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Step One: Prep your veggies. Peel and chop the butternut squash into 1″ chunks (Hint: make sure your knife is sharp enough, without a sharp edge, it will make prepping this squash a doozy). Dice the shallot. Make sure you give that kale a good rinse and either pat dry or put it into a salad spinner after roughly chopping.
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I tend to cut my squash off at the neck and peel the two pieces separately – that way, you have a flat surface to stand your squash on as you peel. (And you are less likely to chop one of your phalanges off – we all need those). 😉

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I roughly chop mine into “fork-able” pieces, so the texture of the kale is still there, even after baking.

Step Two: Transfer your butternut squash and shallot into a shallow baking dish. Toss with a little bit of extra olive oil, just enough to lightly coat the pieces. Stick in the oven and roast at 400°F for 40 – 45 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.
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Here’s the squash before baking. Make sure you toss the butternut squash and diced shallot well in the olive oil; that way, they won’t stick to the pan and make your life/clean-up a disaster. 😉

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The squash after baking. These pieces were pretty done, so definitely check your squash after about 40 minutes of baking time. Give it a stir at least once during the baking time so that you are cooking all pieces evenly.

Step Three: Meanwhile, while your squash is roasting away and filling your kitchen will all sorts of delicious smells, make your cheeze. In a food processor (or even in a mini food processor, or personal size blender), combine the nuts, yeast, olive oil and salt. Blend until the cheeze becomes mixed and pretty well chopped but still retains some of the nutty texture.
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Cheeze ingredients in the blender. You can use other nuts if you’d like in place of the almonds/hazelnuts, like cashews or pecans, or if you’re totally nut-free you can substitute seeds like pumpkin seeds and sesame. Yum! All combos will be pretty bomb. 😀

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Cheeze after blending. As you can (hopefully) see here, there is still some of the nutty texture retained – it adds a nice crunch to the dish.

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Another close up of the cheeze – it makes a bunch, like two to three handfuls (sorry my measurements are not always cup and tablespoon related, but hey that’s just how I roll). 😉

Step Four: Once your squash is done roasting, add the kale directly into the baking dish. Toss with the butternut squash to combine, and allow the kale to slightly wilt. Then, pour the cheeze mixture over the entire pan of veggies and toss to combine, until the cheeze is well distributed.
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The kale and butternut after baking, with the cheeze sprinkled on top. Make sure you give the veggies and cheeze a good toss to evenly distribute the cheeze. YUM!

Step Five: Turn the oven down to 350°F and place the butternut/kale mixture back into the oven for an additional 6 or so minutes. Be careful not to burn your “cheeze” (you wouldn’t want to bake it for more than 8 minutes).
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The kale and butternut after the second bake cycle, ready to be chomped!

Step Six: Enjoy!! 😀
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And voila! Butternut-y, kale-y cheeziness! YUMMMMM!!!

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I ate two plates worth, it was THAT good.

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Noms 😛

This dish is stellar. Even your omnivore friends will be down with this buttenut/kale/cheeze combo – it’s delicious. It’s a great side dish, or if you want this to be a major player, put over your fave grain like quinoa/farro/rice/pearl couscous/whatever and throw some L’s Best Baked Tofu Ever on the side. I ate mine with some leftover Spanish Style Lentils a la L that I made earlier this week – it was a fantastic, super healthy dinner (which I give at least partial responsibility to my supreme ass-kicking in 5:45 am bootcamp this morning – BOOYAH!). As for the “is the juice worth the squeeze?” rating, I would give it an 8 out of 10 for labor input to flavor output (if you use pre-chopped butternut squash, it would skyrocket to at least a 9, and if you’re wondering – only smoothies are ever a 10 out of 10 because there is no chopping involved). 😉 😉

Also (one last thought before I send this off to the interwebs) – why nutritional yeast? Well, nutritional yeast is a great vegan source of vitamin B12 (if it’s fortified). I use Bob’s Red Mill brand nutritional yeast which provides 133% of your daily value of B12 (it’s fortified with B vitamins). B12 is super important: it plays a key role in the functioning of the brain and nervous system and the formation of red blood cells (for all of us active, vegandos out there – we need it!). I actually just got a vegan multivitamin with a whoooole bunch of B12 in there for that reason (I went a little cray on Amazon Black Friday sale and bought like $50 worth of natural foods and vitamins. Don’t believe me? See my haul below). Another important guy for us veg folks is Vitamin D (I got some of that, too). Last year when I was tested in January during my annual physical, my vitamin D level was 7. Yup, that would be in the category of extremely deficient (which was alarming, and I had to take those super prescription-level of 50,000 IU of vitamin D for two weeks to bring my levels back to normal). Remember, I’m a fair redhead (which means I don’t leave the house without SPF 30) and I live in the Northeast. Everyone is different, but just wanted to put a little personal PSA from L out there for you all to ponder. Just sayin’. (Also, the Vitamin D Council offers a $50 in home testing kit – I found this from all my Googling to find the best vegan Vitamin D supplements, just in case your insurance really sucks or you don’t feel like seeing your doctor, or you’re fiercely independent and stubborn and science-y like me and just want to do it your DAMN self).

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L’s Amazon haul: Vegan vitamins, farro, nutritional yeast, a 4 pack of Museli, cocoa nibs (literally chased the UPS man up the hill on my street yesterday evening bc I was so excited about this package, oh and the butternut squash was already roasting – I needed that nutritional yeast!). PS: I ❤ Bob’s Red Mill with all my heart ❤ ❤ ❤

I hope you all have a fantastic day today!!! Enjoy this butternut/kale recipe – it f***ing RULES.

With warmth,

L ❤

The Five Stages of Holiday Traffic Grief: Driving on the Mass Pike

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Whewwwwwwwwwwwwww! We all survived Round 1 of the holidays. I had a pretty interesting one, my sister and brother in law became very ill Monday evening, and so Tuesday I “whipped” down to CT to help them out with my 8-month old nephew (as you will soon see, I am using the term “whipped” loosely). Unfortunately for me, just about everyone else in New England had the same idea (we were due for a Nor’easter with lots of snow and ice on Wednesday) and a usually ~2.5 hour trip took 5 hours and 52 minutes. Yep, I was basically sitting in the Marshmallow Mobile on the Mass Pike in standstill traffic. For several hours. Barely inching forward. During those six hours, I had plenty of time to go through the five stages of holiday traffic grief.

Stage One: Denial and Isolation.

When my car first coasted up the line of stopped cars I thought, “Well there must be an accident somewhere. This should ease up soon.” I tapped my fingers on my steering wheel to the throwback station 96.9 and mentally relived the amazing hip-hop songs of my formative years. I looked at the clock. Six minutes had passed by and no movement. “Ah, maybe the police are blocking off a lane and we can’t move.” I looked at the Waze app. It was red (indicating heavy traffic) until I-84. I was barely outside of Boston. “That can’t be right…” I thought. Nope, nope – it was. I was just hiding from the facts, a reaction that carried me through the first wave of my painful drive in gridlock.

Stage Two: Anger.

I could NOT be stuck in this traffic when my sister and bro-in-law needed me! NO way, no how. I was not ready for this. The Masshole driving behavior we all know and love here in the Boston area began to make an appearance. Waze re-routed me off of the Mass Pike. I shifted over to the far right lane, and was stuck behind Mr. Cool wearing a suit in front of me. He was twiddling around on his phone, not paying attention and leaving huge gaps in between his very expensive car and the car in front of him. This allowed just about everyone to shift into the far right lane and move forward, while we sat unmoving behind them. “Really, dude?” I said aloud, to no one. I honked my horn once. No response. Still twiddling. “Helllllooooooooooo!!!” I shouted, still to no one. I looked left, and I looked right. There was no escape. Except there was the hard shoulder…I could see the exit. I threw caution to the wind and swerved around him, I honked (to ensure he would look up) and gave him the thumbs down sign as I passed by him. “DUDE, PAY ATTENTION!!” I yelled, gesturing wildly from behind my closed window (dude, it was cold out) and made several illegal maneuvers to get the hell outta there.

Stage Three: Bargaining.

As I swerved off the exit to the “short-cut” I was going to take, I mentally kicked myself. If only I had left sooner! I should have just LEFT early, as soon as I found out what rough shape they were in. I totally would have avoided this nightmare. There are grocery stores in CT, I didn’t NEED to stop and get ginger ale and broth on my way home, I could have waited. I should have just left without packing anything, my sister has clothes I can wear. If only, if only, if only…

Stage Four: Depression.

As I passed through the toll booth at the end of the exit. I stopped short. What?? What are all these cars doing here?? Do they all have the Waze app too? Maybe there is just some back-up getting onto the short-cut highway. After not moving and waiting through several rounds of lights, I finally turned onto the short-cut route and was immediately stopped behind another car. Gridlock traffic extended as far as the eye could see. Nooooooooooooooo, seriously?! This can’t be happening! It’s going to take forever!! I was already about three hours in at this point and still had 100 miles to go. A deep, dark, misty gloom hung over my head for the entire (first) hour I inched along the short-cut route.

Stage Five: Acceptance.

After a while, I realized that I could do absolutely nothing about this traffic and I just needed to buck up and get over it. I was still crawling along the short-cut route, and winding under the Mass Pike several times (which was still gridlock as well). I pulled off the road and stopped at Wendy’s to stretch my legs. Sigh. I just need to deal. Deep breaths (in, out, in, out). There is no turning back now. Only moving forward.

I finally made it, at around 8 pm. Once I saw my sister’s face, I knew that the nightmarish traffic was worth it – to put it mildly, she was not looking good. Sometimes, especially during the holidays, you just have to suck it up and do the not-so-fun, but extremely important thing – be there for those you love. We all got through it, and now it will be a funny story to look back on for years to come (uh, we are not at the point where it is funny yet, but relaying this to my mom over the phone during Stage 5 made her laugh pretty hard, so I thought I would share with all of you). Life is not always easy, pretty and tied up with a bow. Sometimes it blows big time, and there is gridlock traffic, and food poisoning, and road rage, and lots of swearing at inanimate objects in your car, but we get through it, we stick together and we help each other out through the bad parts. Then we can really enjoy the good ones when they come along. 😀

Happy Holidays folks!! It’s the first of December already, can you believe it?!

xo,

L