This Dark Chocolate Peppermint Vegan Cheesecake is a holiday dream! Beside being naturally vegan, it’s gluten-free and grain-free, paleo-friendly, yet still epic enough to please the masses. Coated with a layer of peppermint-infused dark chocolate to bring the holiday vibes, this creamy, rich, decadent treat will be a show stopper at any holiday gathering.
Right, so I am not vegan and nor is this website, but as I prefer to limit / avoid cow’s milk dairy as much as I can, over these many years I have developed a plethora of naturally (read also: inadvertently) vegan recipes, in the process. Beyond that, I know that so many of you struggle with dairy allergies, lactose or casein intolerances or maybe like me, just prefer to avoid most dairy so as not to send your autoimmune disease or digestion into a massive tailspin.
One of my most favorite dairy alternative dessert recipes my No-Bake Vegan Cheesecake was created nearly 5 years ago now and there have been many, many varying iterations of it here on Tasty Yummies, since. From Pumpkin to a Mint Chocolate Chip to these little cereal crusted cuties, among others.
These Grain-free Spicy Cauliflower Fritters are an amazing way to embrace the cauliflower love, taking the cauli-rice trend to a whole new level. These versatile patties can be adapted to whatever flavor and spice blend you’d like and served with your favorite sauce, we like Chipotle Lime Aioli.
Veg based fritters have always been a favorite of mine, either as a quick bite appetizer or snack, or atop a large bed of greens as a main dish, I find them to be quick, simple, cheap and versatile. Since I have removed both grains and beans from my diet, due to my autoimmune conditions and my digestive issues, I haven’t really messed with too many veggie-based fritters, cakes and patties in recent years. But, after a recent exploration with cauliflower, which is one of my favorite, versatile, low carb, starch-like veggies – these fritters were born and they have quickly become a new fav.
Let’s just get this out of the way right now, yes I ironically used a z in the word cheese and yes, I also put quotes around it. That’s happening and I am totally into it. OK onto the show.
My hubby is like most, a meat and potatoes man. He’s a no-frills, gimme what’s easiest, fastest and tastiest – kinda guy. Of course, being that I make most of the meals around here, I can keep his poor decision making and junk-food loving ways in check. Over the years I have proudly gotten him off soda, I have proven that a piece of good quality dark chocolate after dinner can be just as satisfying at 4 Oreos, I have convinced him that it’s possible to eat more than just meat and still eat well and my latest feat, showing him that we don’t necessary HAVE to have a starch or grain at every single meal.
Football season however, this is a tough time around here, it can be a hard sell on the plant-based, less processed foods. Mark LOVES football and he LOVES eating the worst foods while watching it. If he had it his way, he’d be munching on fried chicken, eating a pile of nachos, diving face first into pizza and Buffalo wings and I don’t even want to think about what sweet he’d finish it all off with. He’s always asking me to come up with fun football snacks for him and of course, I try to always deliver him a much more mindful, yet still comforting treat. He never asks me to make him something “healthier”, per se, but I am smart enough to read between the lines. He could easily go to the store and get the junk for himself, he certainly knows how to pick up the phone and order a pizza. I think deep down, though he may never admit it, he wants me to take care of him and make these better choices for him. No complaints here!
I previously eluded to the fact that I was starting an Autoimmune / Leaky Gut Protocol on Monday of last week and that I would a some point fill you all in on more details. So here we are. As a reminder, I was diagnosed last summer via kidney biopsy, with an autoimmune form of kidney disease, called IgA Nephropathy. It hasn’t progressed too far, my kidneys are still functioning at very high levels and I have been lucky enough to have had little to no symptoms. After the diagnosis I was placed on several pharmaceuticals to protect my kidneys long term, from this progressive disease which can, if left untreated, in some patients lead to kidney failure later in life. As soon as I started taking the drugs, I found myself feeling terrible. I was tired and lethargic, I had rashes and developed acne, I found myself with terrible stomach aches and pains, I was chronically bloated and gassy, etc. In speaking with my Naturopathic doctor at the start of this year, we have discovered I am dealing with leaky gut and we have decided it best to first heal my gut and get this under control so we can properly investigate my kidney disease further. I have since been taken off all prescription drugs and I am on a regime of supplements and herbs with my doctor to protect my kidneys, aid in the healing of my gut and more.
I will work hard to keep this as short as I can, I don’t want for this to become a how-to or a resource on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet, many of those already exist online and in books and I honestly have no problem admitting that I am still a total newbie when it comes to all of this. Truthfully, I am slowly navigating my own way through this new journey, so I am far from an expert.
My plan is to follow this Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) for a minimum of 30 days. I am very grateful to have somewhat minimal symptoms on the larger scale of leaky gut and autoimmune conditions, though they are there enough for me to want to get things under control and get back to feeling like myself. The plan is to give myself these 30 days to allow my body and my gut the time it needs to heal. I am really crossing my fingers that this will be enough time. After 30 days I will slowly begin to reintroduce foods and decipher my body’s response to each and go from there on deciding if I need to pursue this protocol further or not.
It should be said, this protocol isn’t necessarily a full list of ingredients to be avoided forever just because you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder or leaky gut. This is simply a plan to follow for a minimum of 30 days to give your body the opportunity to heal and the time to remain on the plan, from there differs for each individual.
For me, after just the first 7 days I have already noticed marked improvement. Less bloating and gas. I am still dealing with some discomfort with certain foods, usually my tummy seems to be most agitated when I eat too many fibrous veggies. That huge bowl of cauliflower with a sh*t ton of kale on top, maybe not the best idea. Woowee! I am also noticing some response to the changed diet. I am not sure if I can call them detox symptoms or “die off”, but I have certainly noticed some other new symptoms. But I am happy to report that I am already be getting some relief, so I am on the right track.
Here is a super quick overview on the details of the autoimmune / leaky gut protocol I am following for at least 30 days:
I know it’s been a quiet week here on TY. I was away in Northern California for the long weekend, for our women’s empowerment retreat RISE and it’s actually taken me more than a few days for me to come down from it all. Wow! What a weekend. I am still riding high on the incredible energy and vibes from the beautiful women that I had the pleasure of sharing space with for those 4 days. I plan to write up a whole post in review of the weekend, sharing photos, thanking brands and all of that good stuff, so look for that some time next week. For now, I am still buzzing and processing all of the amazingness that happened and slowly getting back into the routines of my regular living. Gosh this has actually been quite a challenge, this retreat changed me and it’s been hard to just jump back into life, as if nothing has happened.
Since I have returned I have slowly been getting back into my everyday routines, yoga, exploring recipes in the kitchen and I am actually finding more time for myself. I am making more time to write and to meditate and using the extra hours in the day to read and just unplug, as much as I can.
Wednesday of this week, our organic produce box from Beachgreens arrived at our front door, loaded with organic produce – it was like Christmas morning to me. Nothing fills me up the way cooking in my own kitchen does. After two weeks of traveling and lots of going, I was happy to see my own personal stash of goodies. This is the stuff that gets me excited to eat and keeps me going. I sincerely adore vegetables and most meals in our home are based solely around what vegetable I want to cook with. These beautiful Shanghai Bok Choy immediately had me excited. I typically go with Asian-inspired flavors, making stir-fries or serving alongside a ginger soy-glazed fish of some sort.
It wasn’t that long ago that I shared a tutorial for How-to Make Homemade Mayonnaise. Right now, that feels like a lifetime ago. I am currently just over 2 weeks into a 6 week elimination diet with my naturopathic doctor, as we work to support my health, after I was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy, an autoimmune form of kidney disease. We are working through what could be several rounds of an elimination diet to explore what in my diet could possibly be causing an autoimmune response and affecting my kidneys. This round of the elimination diet, in addition to all meat which was removed from my diet 4 weeks prior, (as animal protein is highly taxing to the kidneys), she has also had me remove eggs and dairy for a minimum of 6 weeks. Dairy has been no big deal, I ate so little of it as it was, it’s the eggs that has been quite challenging for me.
With all of my current restrictions on this elimination diet, plus my already existing intolerances and dietary choices, I have to be honest and tell you it’s been a challenging 2 weeks. I have found in my current state, even without meat, eggs and dairy, legumes are simply not agreeing with me, likely the leaky gut I was diagnosed with at the first appointment. I work hard to limit my intake of grains on a daily basis, I avoid soy and of course, we all know I can’t have gluten and I don’t eat processed foods – so as you can imagine I have been working really hard to rethink my meals and meal planning, to rethink my snacks and I have been looking for protein and healthy fats in new places. Some days it feels easy and I am simply focused on the other side and what I am working so hard for, and other days, you may just find me in the corner of the kitchen crying over the egg sandwich my husband is starting his day with. Read the rest of this entry »
Kitschy halloween-inspired recipes aren’t exactly my thing. No judgement on those who dig it, I just personally don’t like food to look “gross”, even if it’s fake. So, while I think bloody witch finger cookies or a pumpkin puking up guacamole are kinda funny and probably great for a spooky, halloween-themed party, it doesn’t exactly make me want to eat. A lot of that stuff just turns my stomach a little. That’s just me. Maybe if I had kids I would feel different or maybe it’s just that I am the Halloween equivalent to Scrooge or the Grinch. I mean, I honestly can’t even tell you the last time I dressed up for Halloween. Bah humbug!
Either way, my good friends at Vega asked me to make a Halloween-themed smoothie using their amazing plant-based protein powders and I couldn’t say no. So, I took my simple, modern, toned down (see also, lame-o) approach to this challenge. This Green Monster Smoothie is about as “creepy” as I get, since I don’t do blood or guts as a meal, almonds as finger nails, brains on a plate, or rats and spiders crawling on my flatware.
Good morning! We are onto day 4 of the 5-Day Fall Cleanse. I am feeling great today! How are you feeling? When Sherrie and I talked about creating this short and simple cleanse, we wanted to be mindful of and gentle on our bodies to soothe our digestive system, instead of disrupting it and upsetting it. We wanted to create a simple plan that would continue to connect us with our food, but while slowly purging the toxins that like to hide out in all the little cracks and crevices. We weren’t looking to shock our systems with anything drastic like a juice-only cleanse, we simply wanted to get back to eating intuitively, to check in with our bodies, to return that conscious awareness back to what our bodies truly need right now, to reset any bad habits and get ready for the seasonal changes that lie ahead.
Cleansing and detoxifying can be quite challenging and difficult depending on your mental state at the time. It can not only bring on physical symptoms of the cleansing, but often times it can bring emotional imbalances to the surfaces, as well. I have cleansed in the past when I wasn’t quite ready for the full extent of it all and it wasn’t pretty. I simply felt deprived or left out the entire time, even angry at myself for choosing to do something so limiting and challenging to my own self. It is with so much gratitude this time, that I can honestly say the experience this time has been peaceful, to say the least. I honestly was worried that I would experience some amount of side effects/detoxing symptoms with how I had been eating leading up to this cleanse, but with how good I am feeling throughout this process, I think I can thank my general everyday clean diet for that. I possibly don’t give myself enough credit. With eating a clean diet, at least 95% of the time, it is easy for me to focus on the 5% when I am not at my best and beat myself up for it. I can tend to do that sort of thing, I am hard on myself. This cleanse has been a gentle reminder that I have been quite good to my body and that I want to continue to be as good or better to it. There truly is no greater reward than feeling good!
On the evening on day 2, I did experience some minor sweet cravings and Sherrie made the suggestion of stuffing a few dates with coconut oil, so I did just that and added some shredded unsweetened coconut on top. It felt like I was cheating. It was so delicious and rich. The next morning, I was looking for something a bit more substantial than a juice so I made this simple smoothie for breakfast. It really set the tone for my amazing day yesterday and it was perfect given the beautiful Autumn day that it was here in Southern California.
I love when a recipe I create ends up inspiring countless others. The reach one simple idea can have is so fun and I love seeing and playing with all the different possibilities. In the summer, I created a No-Bake Vegan “Cheesecake” recipe for a 4th of July celebration. That recipe inspired Meg of Beard and Bonnet to create a delicious chocolate chip crust version and from there she created a Key Lime “Cheesecake” Truffle, that in turn gave me the idea of creating these delicious Autumn-inspired pumpkin spiced “cheesecake” pops! Phew! I love it. I can only imagine all that is to come from here with this idea.
Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever stop being so amazed at all of the delicious things you can make with cashews. I love making various cream sauces for tacos or pasta and the fun you can have with desserts, like these cake pops, are endless. Whoever first came up with the idea to soak cashews and turn them into cream, they should be in some foodie hall-of-fame somewhere. (Does that exist? Because if it doesn’t, it should!)
These Pumpkin “Cheesecake” Pops are not nearly as complicated to make as what the different groups of instructions below leads you to believe. They are quite easy. There is no baking required and it takes more time to wait for the pops to set, then to do anything else. I have served these to several non-vegan, non-gluten free people now. Actually come to think of it, besides myself, those are the only people that have eaten these. “Regular eaters”. Every last one loved them and they just couldn’t believe they were totally vegan and grain-free!