Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Squashing the stereotypical vegan faire...

So while its true that many vegans are, in fact, tree hugging hippies that run around frolicing in the forest in birkenstocks singing to the woodland creatures, the majority of them are normal people that are married with 2.5 kids, a dog, picket fence and occupy cubicles instead of wall street.

Wait...aren't Birkenstocks made of leather?  Hmmm...

I recently spoke with the owner of a local business who is a local celebrity for his beignet and coffee stand, the most elaborate setup at our farmer's market.  He informed me that his original recipe, is actually vegan...but was stern about making sure I didn't let the cat out of the bag because if people knew they were vegan, he would lose business.  Vegan or not, deep fried dough is far from healthy....so don't worry Mr. Man, I'm pretty confident you could fry a vegan turd in your fryer and someone would eat it.  Nothing grosses me out more than deep fried anything... (although this is a far cry from what I believed several years ago where I would have been the one with the poop mustache munching on a deep fried turd.)

It remains pretty common that if you announce something is healthy, most people wont eat it.  They assume it will taste like cardboard.  This is the reason companies spend millions on advertising and product design, and add artificial colors...  Taste aside, it has to look and sound appealing.

On Thanksgiving my husband, kids and parents took a trip to South Florida (where I grew up) to spend the holiday with family.  There were 18 of us.  In a very small house.  It was a blast. 
Since no one else gives a rats ass to eat healthy, I cooked my very own Thanksgiving feast for my daughter and I.  I made enough for everyone, knowing there would already be a huge feast of traditional food.  Most of my glorious food was cast aside into a special area to let everyone know that was the "healthy food".  Safe to say, almost none of it was touched.  Only 2 of them tasted the Tofurky to see what it was all about...but the casseroles went untouched.  Then came dessert.  I brought my Who Cut The Cheese...cake with a festive cranberry topping.  It was beautiful!  Based on looks alone, about half of them tried it.  Then, based on their reactions to it...everyone finally tried it and its safe to say I am no longer allowed at family functions without it.  Although no one converted to vegan that day, it definitely opened some minds I think. 

So, then came Christmas.  When I open up my vegetarian magazines or google holiday vegan food...I am horrified!  Who in the hell wants to pick quinoa out their teeth or feast on some butternut squash risotto on Christmas??  Lovely as that sounds, when it comes to the holidays I am uber traditional.

My goal with this blog is not to create food for vegans; It is to create vegan food for the everyday omnivore.  You can't win them over with couscous and celery sticks. 

The one recipe that I worked hard to veganize without losing the flavor was my mom's squash casserole.  She got the recipe from Brian Hendrix's mom at a potluck holiday feast at my elementary school.  (Where ever you are, you have changed our holiday faire forever!)

So goes the holiday menu and the Squash Casserole Recipe - I promise it will not leave you disappointed!  NO one at my house for Christmas could tell the difference!

Free Range Turkey and Ham for Omnivores (The ONLY non-vegan items)
Green Bean Casserole
Creamy Veggie BakeSquash Casserole
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Rutabagas
Dinner Rolls
Olive and Pickles tray
Cranberry Sauce

Squash Casserole
1 C + 2 Tbsp Vegan Butter, divided
4 Tbsp Non-GMO Cornstarch
1 C Full Fat soymilk or creamer
1 C Imagine's No-Chicken Broth
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Parsley
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
2 lbs Yellow Squash, sliced thin
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 C Grated Carrots
1 C Vegan Sour Cream
1 C Daiya Cheddar Style Shredded Cheese
10 oz Stuffing Mix (I use Whole Foods Vegan Stuffing mix)

Preheat Oven to 350ยบ.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat.  In a sperate bowl, whisk the corn starch into the soymilk.  Add soymilk mixture and broth to the butter.  Add seasonings (Onion Powder - Pepper).  Bring to a boil and whisk constantly until thickened.    Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature until needed.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Add squash and onions and boil for NO MORE than 5 minutes.  You want very tender, but not mush.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop squash from cooking.

In a large bowl add squash mixture, broth mixture, carrots, sour cream and cheese. Mix by hand.

In a sperate skillet, melt the remaining 1 C butter.  Add the stuffing and toss to coat.  Remove from heat.

Layer half of the stuffing mix in a 9x13 casserole dish, followed by all of the squash mixture and topped off with the other half of the stuffing mix.  Bake for 1 Hour uncovered.


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