Going meatless on Monday is a great way to help the environment while staying happy and healthy. But maybe you'd like to take the Meatless Monday movement a step farther. If so, have you ever tried going vegan? I was a vegan for a couple of years back in high school and I loved it - all except for two minor issues, those issues being pizza and dessert. Vegans don't eat animals or animal by-products. That means no meat, no milk, no eggs, no honey, and no gelatin to name the biggest offenders. What that translated to for me was no greasy New York pizza and no pastries, puddings, cakes, or ice creams. While I still have not discovered a good substitute for pizza - you just can't get that greasy goodness with soy cheese - I have found a great deal of vegan desserts that not only replace their non-vegan counterparts but some even surpass them in flavor and texture. And thank goodness because no one need go without dessert! There is a wide variety of delicious vegan desserts out there from soy ice cream to boutique vegan cupcakes. But what if you feel like something special, something homemade? Ever since I was a little kid I loved to eat tapioca pudding - but aside from the tapioca pearls that's all dairy and usually gelatin. Then I discovered agar-agar, the plant based substitute for gelatin, add almond milk and a little creativity to that and voila! - Vegan Tapioca and Mango Parfait. Here is the recipe:
For the Vegan Tapioca Pudding
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups almond milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 cup large pearl tapioca
Boil the water and add the tapioca.
Reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Bring the almond milk and the vanilla to a boil and then add to the tapioca.
Let simmer for about an hour, or until a little thicker than egg whites.
Remove from heat.
Chill until more solid.
For the Vegan Mango Pudding
6 grams agar-agar powder
250 milliliters water
30 grams sugar, or to taste
250 milliliters fresh soy milk or coconut milk
300 grams fresh mango puree
Yellow food coloring (optional)
Method: 1. Dissolve the agar-agar powder in 250 milliliters of water in a pot. Add the sugar and bring to a boil.
2. Remove pot from heat, stir in the soy milk, mango puree and mix well.
3. Pour the mango pudding mixture into the mold and leave to cool before refrigerating until chilled. 4. Serve chilled.
For the Caramelized Almonds
sugar and water
Put the sugar and water in a pot over a flame to make a light caramel.
Add the almonds and stir until a medium caramel.
Pour out onto a silpat or a non-stick surface to cool.
Break apart when cool and hard.
Yes, it is a multi-step dessert but all that preparation is worth it when the flavors and textures combine in your mouth. So why not give veganism a try this Monday? With the right ingredients it's as easy as pie. Stay tuned for more vegan recipes in the coming weeks.
And a special thank you goes to Debbie who requested vegan recipes for her new husband (congratulations!) - the world needs more vegans!