Italian Rainbow Cookies

VEGAN HOLIDAY RECIPE MAKEOVER

Want to indulge, but not overindulge in a treat this holiday season.  Try this fun-to-make made-over recipe that tastes yummy but isn’t as painful around the waistline. Lots of steps, but easy to make!

A usual Italian rainbow cookie recipe is made with up to 3 sticks of butter, 1 cup of sugar (plus extra found in some of the ingredients), 4 eggs and a lot of artificial food coloring.

To give this recipe a vegan makeover, here’s what I did:

  1. Used only ¾ cups of plant-based butter – replaced the rest with 1 ½ bananas and 1 cup of apple sauce.
  2. Cut the sugar in half and used maple sugar instead of white granulated sugar.
  3. Used organic, unbleached flour.
  4. Subbed out the egg for aquafaba.
  5. Used 100% fruit juice sweetened jam instead of cane sugar sweetened.
  6. Used low sugar oat milk chocolate chips – the closer to zero grams of sugar, the better!
  7. Replaced the artificial colors with natural coloring (e.g. made from beet root).

This recipe contains about 1/3rd of the saturated fat of the non-vegan recipe, has no cholesterol and contains less than ½ the amount of sugar.  

Servings: Makes 36 cookies – serving size is 2 cookies 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup plant-based butter
  • 1 ½ – 2 ripened bananas – pureed
  • 1/3 cup maple sugar OR 1/6 cup maple sugar and 1/6 cup turbinado sugar.
  • 7 ounces almond paste
  • ¼ cup soy or almond milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups organic, unbleached all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour 1-1)
  • 1/3 cup aquafaba
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Red and green natural food colorings
  • ½ cup 100% fruit juice sweetened raspberry jam
  • ½ cup low sugar vegan chocolate chips 

Directions

  1. Add parchment paper to 3 medium size baking sheets.   
  2. Preheat oven to 350° (375°if you live in altitude). 
  3. Put butter, sugar and banana into a large sized bowl. Blend with a hand mixer until the sugar has fully dissolved in the butter. 
  4. Add the butter mixture to a food processor. Break almond paste into pieces and add to the butter mixture. Blend until mixture is smooth and firm. 
  5. Place mixture back into the bowl. Add in dairy free milk, apple sauce, and almond and vanilla extract. Using a hand mixer, blend together until mixed well and smooth. 
  6. Fold in the flour a little at a time until you have a well-blended dough. 
  7. In a small bowl, beat the aquafaba and cream of tarter with a hand mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Fold it into the dough mixture and stir until it is fully mixed. 
  8. Divide the dough evenly into 3 bowls. Add 7-8 drops of red food coloring to one bowl and mix thoroughly. Add 7-8 drops of green food coloring to the other bowl and mix thoroughly. Leave one bowl plain.
  9. Pour the red dough batter onto a baking sheet. Use a spatula or knife to spread the dough until it reaches the edge of the pan.  It will be a very thin layer.
  10. Repeat step 9 with the green dough and then the plain dough.
  11. Place in the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes (8-10 minutes in altitude). Cookie dough is ready when you insert a toothpick into the dough, and it comes out clean.
  12. Allow the sheets to cool for at least 10 minutes. 
  13. Once cooled, cut each dough recipe into two even halves.  Then fold one half over onto the other half (using the parchment paper) and line them up as evenly as possible.
  14. Starting with the green cookie/cake, spread ¼ cup of the jam on top. Carefully transfer the white dough and place on top of the green layer. Top the white cookie/cake with the other ¼ cup of jam. Lastly carefully place the red cookie/cake on top.
  15. Cover the top red layer with parchment paper and place in the refrigerator. Place heavy books on top of it and let chill for 3-4 hours.
  16. Once chilled, remove the books and then remove recipe from the refrigerator. Melt chocolate and spread ½ of it (I used less) onto the red layer cookie/cake. Fully cover the red layer. 
  17. Place back in the refrigerator and chill until chocolate hardens (about 10-15 minutes).
  18. Carefully flip the cookie/cake over and spread the remaining amount of chocolate on the bottom layer. Refrigerate again for 10-15 minutes.
  19. Slice into approximately 36 cookies.  Please note: the chocolate and jam may have dripped over the side, so make sure to cut that off so you can see the vibrant colors. Enjoy!

Tempeh “Neat” Balls

Tempeh is really good crumbled and used as a great substitution for ground beef. This “pseudo” meatball recipe is an excellent of protein and iron and contains a considerable amount of fiber, potassium and Omega 3’s. 

Servings: 5-6

Ingredients

  • One 8-ounce package of tempeh – If you’re not a big fan of tempeh, you can sub out 1 cup of cooked lentils instead. 
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon white miso
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
  • ½ cup Italian style breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley – chopped into tiny pieces
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 pinches of granulated onion, sea salt and pepper
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil  

Recipe adapted from the New Baguette Tempeh Meatballs Recipe. 

Directions

  1. 1. Add parchment paper to a medium size baking sheet.  Lightly sprinkle with olive oil. 
  2. 2. Preheat oven to 375°. 400 degrees if you live in altitude. 
  3. 3. Chop the tempeh into tiny pieces. You can even pulse in a food processor to really break it down. 
  4. 4. Add the chopped tempeh to a medium sized sauté pan along with the soy sauce, water and minced garlic. Cook on medium heat until the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Let it cool slightly.
  5. 5.  While the tempeh is cooking, add the miso and tomato paste to a medium sized bowl and mix them together using a fork. Then add the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, parsley, Italian seasoning, granulated garlic and onion, salt and pepper and optional caraway seeds. Mix together thoroughly with a spoon or spatula. 
  6. 6. Form tempeh mixture into balls and place on baking sheet.
  7. 7. Bake for 10 minutes and then flip with tongs to the other side. Cook 10 – 15 minutes more. 
  8. 8. Serve on top of cooked zucchini or spaghetti noodles. Top with your favorite spaghetti sauce. Enjoy! 

Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie

This veganized version was inspired by the banana cream pie my mom made when we were kids. My mother discovered the recipe in an old Betty Crocker cookbook that was given to her as a wedding present. The recipe was a favorite of my grandfather, my mother and now me! Hope you enjoy this family recipe as much as we do.

Serves: 8

Prep time: 5 hours – much of this time is for the mixture to cool.

Banana Cream Pie

Ingredients

  • Organic pie shell – I used the Wholly Wholesome brand.*  
  • 2 tablespoons organic, non-gmo cornstarch
  • ¼ cup vegan sugar (I used ½ maple sugar and ½ turbinado sugar)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened plain organic soymilk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas pureed
  • One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 medium banana for slicing once pie is finished

*Time permitting: you can make your crust from scratch using a preferred recipe. 

**IMPORTANT: PLACE COCONUT CAN IN THE REFRIGERATOR THE NIGHT BEFORE PREPARING THE RECIPE**

Directions

  1. Bake pie shell according to directions on the package. Let cool.
  2. Prepare pudding by adding cornstarch, sugar and salt to a small saucepan. Whisk in soymilk and banana puree.  
  3. Heat on medium heat until mixture boils. Whisk continuously Then reduce heat to low and cook for another 4-8 minutes (depending on altitude).
  4. Once the mixture forms a thick gel, remove from the heat and whisk in    one teaspoon of the vanilla. Let cool for 10 minutes.   
  5. Once cool, put mixture in a bowl and cover it with a lid. Place bowl in the refrigerator and cool for 2-3 hours. 
  6. At least ½ hour before the mixture is done cooling, whip the coconut cream.  Remove the coconut can from the refrigerator carefully. DO NOT SHAKE. Open can and scoop out only the hardened coconut part on the top.  Discard the liquid part or use it in another recipe. 
  7. Add ½ teaspoon vanilla and maple syrup to the recipe. Whip with a hand mixer until light and airy about 2-4 minutes. Cover bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. 
  8. Once the pudding is cooled, combine pudding mixture with coconut cream and stir until combined. 
  9. Add combined mixture to the cooked and cooled pie shell. 
  10. Top with sliced bananas. Place back in the refrigerator for at least another ½ hour so that the pie will set. Cut into pie slices and serve. 

Top with extra whipped coconut cream if desired. Enjoy!