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First Steps for Switch to a Vegan Diet

With the New Year upon us, many of us are making changes to the way we eat, work, and play.  I hate to use that R word (you know, resolutions!), but the down time of winter does make me think of things I like to change or explore.

Even though I changed my diet over three years ago, (if you want to read me story, check it out Girl Studyinghere:  My Story) I am still looking at ways to improve what I am already doing.  First Steps for Switching to a Vegan Diet seemed to fit the direction I am going.

I found this post, Vegan How To: Part 1 (How To Make The Transition), on the Oh She Glows website.  Angela makes some very good points about changing your pantry, packing food and getting support from friends and/or family.

Here are some of the points she makes:

How I made the transition to a vegan diet:

1. Slow and Steady

2. Stock your pantry

3. Be your own teacher

4. Focus on what you add, not take away

5. Don’t expect perfection

6. Get support

7. Pack food

Taking time is very important in the beginning because change is not always easy.  I needed to explore the different options I had before I could make some good choices for me.

I, too, restocked my entire panty.  In fact, I wrote a series of posts on My Pantry to share what I keep on hand to make sure I have the food I need.

Learning to prepare new foods can be a long process, but after my 3 years, I feel very confident in making good nutritious and balanced Vegan and Gluten Free foods.

Focusing on what you add, rather than take away is very good advice.  In my case, I was intolerant to so many foods I felt like I just wanted to give up.  I slowly learned to look at what I COULD eat instead and endless possibilities opened up for me.

And yes, don’t expect perfection right from the beginning.  Changes take time …. and the dog or compost pile may receive more than their fair share at the beginning!!  Take heart as it will get better!

Support is really helpful.  A new health food store opened in the town I live about the same time that I discovered my intolerances.  The gal that ran the store spend several months giving demonstrations and teaching on how to prepare and cook Gluten Free Vegan meals.  She was a god-send!  I still go to her when I have a question about a recipe or certain way to cook a food.

Last, but not least, make it a point to pack your own food when you go out.  Nothing is worse than sitting at a potluck or friends home only to find that you cannot eat anything offered!  I find that packing a salad is pretty easy.  I also keep a supply of Amy’s soups around to take with me if I am out and about.  Humus and chips are another good easy snack.  Use your imagine!!

If you are new to the Gluten Free Vegan diet, don’t hesitate to comment about your issues with your new diet.  Or if you like, like my Facebook Page, and we can chat there as well!

I am committed to helping you through this change!

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Holiday Florentine Cookies

Did you see my post yesterday?  I shared a recipe from Lindsay Nixon’s new cookbook:  Happy Herbivore Abroad.  Along with the post, I announced that YOU can get a free copy of Lindsay’s cookbook just by submitting a Gluten Free Vegan Holiday cookie recipe.  All recipes submitted will be featured on the site and a winner for a FREE copy of the cookbook will be drawn on January 1!

In the meantime, today, I am featuring a Florentine Cookie (almond lace cookies) recipe originally posted by Oh She Glows.

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Holiday Florentine Cookies

Recipe Type: Holiday Cookies
Author: Oh She Glows
Ingredients
  • 1 & 3/4 cup (190g) sliced blanched almonds
  • 3 tbsp (25g) gluten-free all-purpose flour (or other flour)
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (85g) coconut sugar (or cane sugar or Sucanat)
  • 1/4 cup (40g) non-dairy buttery spread (I used soy-free Earth balance)
  • 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbsp full-fat canned coconut milk (use the cream from the top of the can)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/3 cup dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • Confectioner’s sugar/icing sugar, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 275F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Finely chop sliced almonds and place in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients (flour, orange zest, salt, sugar).
  3. In a medium-sized pot, add the wet ingredients (non-dairy butter, brown rice syrup, coconut cream) and stir until combined. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil. Immediately remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Set aside to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Wet fingers and shape dough into tiny 1/2 tablespoon balls. Roll with hands into a uniform ball and place on baking sheet, at least 3 inches apart. Repeat until you can’t fit anymore on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes at 275F, rotate the pan, and bake for another 7-9 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the pan and then carefully transfer to cooling rack. Repeat baking process for the rest of the dough. When cookies are cool, place on paper towel and press lightly to absorb any butter on the bottom of the cookie.
  7. Melt chocolate and coconut oil over low heat. Drizzle cookies with melted chocolate (a fork works fine for this) and sift with icing sugar. Chill in the freezer until hardened, Cookies also freeze well.

Make sure to check out the original post to see the many pictures and substitution listed for this recipe.

And email your holiday cookie recipes to me, Sandy, to get your name into the drawing!!

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Christmas Thumbprint Cookies

Christmas Thumbprint Cookies are an old time favorite at our house.  My kids use to help me make these — they loved playing in the jam (homemade, of course), rolling the cookies in nuts, sprinkles or coconut, and adding chocolate kisses to the ones we made without the jam.  It was a fun family project.

Now, as an empty-nester, I make a small batch of the Gluten Free Vegan Christmas Thumbprint Cookies.

Our featured recipe is Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies from the Oh She Glows Blog.

Christmas Thumbprint Cookies

Recipe Type: Holiday Cookies
Author: Oh She Glows Blog
Serves: 18 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 & 1/3 cups raw almonds, processed into almond meal (about 1.5 cups almond meal)
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/8th tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 cup raw almond butter (see note)
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 5-6 tbsp raspberry jam
  • approx 1/3 cup shredded coconut, for rolling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray a large baking sheet with oil, use a silpat mat, or line with parchment paper.
  2. If making almond meal, place raw almonds into a high-speed blender. Process on high speed until a fine crumb, making sure not to process too long or the oils will release. Alternatively, you can use store bought almond meal.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (almond meal, rice flour, ground flax, salt, and baking powder). Use your fingers to break up any clumps of the almond meal. In a smaller bowl, mix together the almond butter, maple syrup, and almond extract. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Shape dough into balls (about 1.5 tbsp or so). If dough is too sticky, place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up.
  5. Roll balls in coconut. Place balls of dough about 1.5-2 inches apart on the baking sheet. With your thumb, press into the middle of the ball and shape a small well with your fingers. Add 1 tsp of jam into each well.
  6. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes, watching closely after 9 minutes. I baked mine for 11.5 minutes. Cool on sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Channel your inner grandma and enjoy with hot tea!

 

When we made these type cookies, we used peanut butter (could probably use any type of nut butter for the almond butter) and then pushed a upside down Hersey Kiss in the middle of the batter.

You can also roll these into sugar, coconut or nut meal for an additional variety.

So much variety with these cookies!!

Do you have a holiday cookies recipe you would like to share with us?  Email it to me at GFDFSandy (at) gmail.com and I will feature it in an upcoming post!

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