I am addicted to all things holiday season. Joy and spirit fill the air and send me on a seasonal happy high. Lights strung throughout our home, the faint piney freshness of a Christmas tree, the jingling of bells, ginger spiced cookies, holiday sweaters, and the creamy, nutmeggy flavor of eggnog.
My childhood Christmas memories always included drinking eggnog. I thought everyone drank it! But I’ve since learned there are two kinds of people in life: those who love eggnog, and those who won’t touch it with a ten-foot straw (eh hem, my husband). It’s RICH! Cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, and bourbon — basically the equivalent of drinking melted ice cream. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if that’s the case, I’d rather eat eggnog ice cream. Unfortunately, it’s been years since I’ve enjoyed a glass without feeling guilty, heavy and bloated.
No, but not this year! What I’ve discovered is a more gut-pleasing approach to enjoying this once-a-year holiday drink. VEGAN EGGNOG. This recipe blew my mind when I tasted it for the first time. It’s much healthier than traditional eggnog, AND it is still just as creamy with the rich flavor of fresh nutmeg. It also takes no time at all to make. Add that to your holiday to-do list!
How does it get so creamy? CASHEWS! Once soaked in water, cashews soften and can be made into cheeses, milk, spreads, ice cream, and dips. I soaked my cashews for 8 hours. If you are in a hurry you can also pour boiling water over them and soak for 30 minutes. Rinse them a few times, and then add them to a blender with two cups of water. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes. You want the cashews to be completely broken up and for your mixture to be white and smooth.
Next add a can of full-fat coconut milk, 6-8 pitted dates, vanilla, salt, and freshly ground nutmeg to the blender. In my mind, there’s really no exception to fresh nutmeg, but if you only have ground it’s absolutely okay to use it. Now blend everything again on high speed for another 1-2 minutes. The dates should be completely broken apart.
Mixing everything at high-speed will add a little warmth to the eggnog. While I personally believe eggnog should be served ice cold, don’t feel bad if you immediately pour yourself a little taster of this vegan eggnog. Fresh out of the blender — so frothy, so creamy, so nutmeggy. SO GOOD! Of course, to make it the adult version, add in spiced rum, bourbon or cognac (or all three)!
WHO KNEW VEGAN EGGNOG COULD BE THIS CREAMY?
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and not hearing the words turkey and gravy couldn’t come soon enough. I’m still stuffed! I eat turkey pretty much once a year, so it doesn’t take much to hit my annual quota. Pumpkin pie is a whole other story. What quota? This year I’m thanksful for multiple turkey trots.
In between scarfing down the traditional holiday treats, we’re stuffing our faces with a slightly healthier version of indulgence — banana oatmeal blender muffins. Are you noticing a trend yet? I’m completely obsessed with making easy recipes that include the use of my assistants Mr. Vitamix and Mrs. Food Processor. Every once in a while we call in the Wizard living in the slow cooker. He’s pretty magical too!
If you recall how simple it was to prepare my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, these banana oatmeal blender muffins are even easier! Start with putting all ingredients, except the eggs and mix-ins, into the blender until combined. The blender might need a scrape down midway through. Next, add in 2 eggs and blend again until completely smooth. Finish by stirring in a half-cup of dark chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, or whatever else you can dream up! Mix well with a spoon — don’t blend.
Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full and top off with a little extra mix-in if you’re feeling inspired. Here I got crazy with a little toasted coconut for a change. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 375°. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.
I have a lot of love for food, but love it not a word that I would use with beets. I don’t want them, yearn for them, or crave them — like EVER. But, I do tend to make exceptions for foods with health values outweighing their taste. Sometimes they creep into recipes like beet brownies or spinach pancakes, but one of my favorites is BEET HUMMUS. Rich, magenta, homemade beet hummus. I know, it’s not quite a brownie, but go with me on this one. You’ll not be sorry!
I started making this recipe over the summer, and it’s been a major hit at quite a few events. The fresh garlic cloves combined with warm, earthy cumin and the nuttiness of coriander makes dipping into a bowl of this beet hummus simply irresistible.
The recipe starts with roasting the beets for 30 minutes in a little bit of water, which brings out the natural sugars making them slightly sweet and supple. After that, you’re almost done. Have you noticed I love easy? I think almost everything I’ve made on this blog by now incorporates a blender or a food processor. (You’re welcome!)
Drain the roasted beets in a colander and let them cool 10 – 15 minutes. Add the roasted beets and drained chickpeas into a food processor and combine until almost smooth. Next, add the tahini, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Process on high while drizzling the olive oil into the hummus.
Give it a little taste and add in a little more salt, pepper, or lemon juice to suit your taste. Process until completely smooth and magnificently magenta colored. Chow down with your favorite veggies, chips or crackers. I also love smearing this on a whole wheat tortilla to add some pop to my favorite lunch wrap.
QUESTION: What other ways do you love to incorporate beets into your favorite recipes?
Making a batch of homemade coconut milk is EASY. SO, SO EASY! I’ve seen some recipes that begin with cracking open a coconut. That’s where I stop. Who has that kind of time? Smashing a coconut open with a hammer is way more work than I’m willing to commit to. Picture a hammer, a coconut, and me — that story doesn’t end well. This SIMPLIFIED recipe starts with opening a bag of shredded coconut. No heavy tools. Watch this video to see how easy it really is!
Making coconut milk takes only two ingredients — water and coconut. Start with 4 cups of almost boiling water and 2 cups of shredded, unsweetened coconut. I use Bob’s Red Mill Unsweetened Medium Shredded Coconut. Combine both ingredients in a high-speed blender, and blend on high for 20-30 seconds. The Vitamix 5200 blender is my blender of choice (such a game changer!), but use whatever blender you have. After the blend, you are looking for a creamy, milky beverage.