Nov 19

When using traditional sweet potato casserole recipes, with their sugar, butter, eggs, nuts, and toasted marshmallow topping, Thanksgiving cooks across the U.S. will be cooking up the most fattening and unhealthy side dish on the Thanksgiving Day buffet. There are healthier sweet potato recipes, however, that can turn the traditional Thanksgiving tuber into a non-traditional side dish that is both nutritious and delicious. A brand new twist to a classic holiday artery clogger this Thanksgiving may well be the most welcome addition to the Thanksgiving feast, especially for family and friends who have only ever eaten yams in their most sickening sweet form.

The two sweet potato recipes below taste decadent, look pretty, and are completely vegetarian, using only animal free ingredients. Most people don’t consider “vegan” dishes like these to be desirable for any meal, and they certainly are not common on the menu of the most indulgent holiday meal of the year. That’s why self-taught award-winning home vegan cook Lauren Ulm has taken on the mission to make vegan recipes more appealing, and vegan cuisine more respected.

“When I first went vegan, it was a bit of a mystery to me, too. I was totally amazed that you didn’t need eggs and dairy for baking, and that the resulting treat tasted just as good,” Lauren writes in her cookbook, “Vegan Yum Yum.”

“I became sort of obsessed with creating vegan food, both savory and sweet, that would be enjoyed by even the staunchest carnivores.”

These two sweet potato recipes are included in Lauren’s book, “Vegan Yum Yum: Decadent (But Doable) Animal-Free Recipes for Entertaining and Everyday.” The are both great examples of Lauren’s success in her mission to make vegan food appealing to non-vegans. The first recipe is more traditional, since it has the sweetness that Thanksgiving diners have grown up to expect.

The second recipe is a non-traditional Vegan Yum Yum savory alternative that will undoubtedly shock most people because of its complete lack of sweetness. But after their initial surprise, your diners will be most likely be giving thanks to you for introducing them to a new taste and a new use for Thanksgiving’s most neglected vegetable.

Yum Yum Yams - Healthy Sweet Potato Thanksgiving Recipe

Yum Yum Yams - Healthy Sweet Potato Thanksgiving Recipe

Candied Lime Sweet Potatoes
(3-4 entree size servings)


2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (no bottled stuff!)
Zest from1 small lime
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger of 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder (optional)
Earth Balance margarine, for dotting
Black pepper, to taste
Parsley or cilantro, for garnish

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the sweet potatoes thin, about 1/8 inch, with a mandoline or a food processor.

Step 2:

In a bowl, mix together the sugar, molasses, salt, lime juice, lime zest, and ginger to form a paste.

Step 3:

Coat the sliced sweet potatoes well with the lime sugar mixture.

Step 4:

In an oiled casserole dish, arrange the coated slices in overlapping rows in one layer. Dot with margarine, sprinkle with pepper, and cover the dish lightly with two layers of aluminum foil.

Step 5:

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. It’s okay if it looks a little watery when you remove the foil; it’ll reduce and form a nice glaze during the rest of the baking

Step 6:

To finish, turn on the broiler and broil until the tops of the sweet potatoes are brown. Remove, sprinkle with black pepper and parsley or cilantro, and serve immediately.

Sweet Potatoes Can Be Savory Too

Non-vegans will love the decadence of the Alfredo sauce in this next sweet potato recipe so much that they won’t even realize that what they are eating is very healthy and completely animal-free. Vegans also love this dish because of the hearty combination of ingredients, which will provide them with a delicious main entree alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving turkey.

More Yum Yum Yams - A Savory Sweet Potato Recipe for Thanksgiving's Most Neglected Vegetable

More Yum Yum Yams - A Savory Sweet Potato Recipe for Thanksgiving's Most Neglected Vegetable

Sweet Potato Bake with Creamy Alfredo Sauce
(3-4 entree size servings)


3 cups fusili pasta (or other similar shape)
1 head kale, deveined and chopped
1 1/2 pound sweet potatoes

Alfredo Sauce:

1 1/4 cups soy milk
1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 pinch nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked (optional)
Black pepper, to taste
Bread crumbs, for topping (optional)

Step 1:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta.

Step 2:

Two or three minutes before the pasta is completely cooked, add the chopped kale to the boiling water. When pasta is cooked and the kale is bright green but tender, drain and set aside.

Step 3:

Chop the sweet potatoes into bite-size chunks. Boil in salted water until tender, but not falling apart. Drain.

Step 4:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Step 5:

To make the Alfredo sauce, blend the soy milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, tamari, margarine, tahini, lemon juice, mustard, ginger, nutmeg, thyme, paprika, and black pepper in a blender. Blend well for several minutes until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Taste and season, if necessary.

Step 6:

Combine the pasta, kale, and the sweet potatoes with the sauce and stir well. Place in a casserole dish and top with bread crumbs, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve.

More About Lauren Ulm and Vegan Yum Yum:

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Sep 18

What most people know about being vegan is the list of foods that are excluded from the vegan diet. But animal free vegans don’t just define themselves by what they don’t eat, they also define themselves by the nutrient-rich superfoods that they do eat.

The ingredients, spices, and cooking techniques for a diet that is completely animal free might seem foreign to those who are accustomed to standard meals composed from meats and starches, but animal free meals are not so strange once you learn some of the tips and tricks of the animal free lifestyle. These days, vegan cooks have figure out how to make just about any dish animal free, including pancakes, macaroni and cheese, and snickerdoodles.

Lauren Ulm, the founder of the website, “Vegan Yum Yum” and the author of a cookbook by the same name, learned the how-to’s and how-not-to’s of vegan cooking by trial and error and error and error in her own kitchen. Here are some of the tips she gives to vegan cooks on her website and in her book:

  • There is a huge difference between fresh sugar snap peas and frozen ones. The longer peas sit after picking, the soggier and less sweet they become.
  • Sauteeing chickpeas brings out a lovely nutty flavor in them.
  • It could be that you don’t like brussel sprouts just because the ones you ate were overcooked. Brussel sprouts that are overcooked have a sulfur smell, and taste unpleasant. Brussel sprouts that are cooked correctly are crisp and sweet and have a slightly nutty aftertaste.
  • How you cut vegetables makes a big difference in the texture and taste of your dishes. A Japanese mandoline works well to slice potatoes extra thin, for example.
  • If you’re frying a potato, choose a potato that has high starch and low sugar, like a russet potato. A potato with high sugar will before it’s crispy, making the fried potatoes soggy.
  • Delicata squash is a sweet squash alternative that is easier to cut in half than other squashes.
  • A microplane grater makes citrus zest that is fine, light, fluffy, and practically melts in your mouth.
  • Spelt flour works well with pancakes because it is lighter and has a seeter,milder flavor than regular whole wheat flour.
  • Using a grill pan to add grill marks to tofu makes it prettier and more appealing to dinner guests. Just be careful not too scorch it!
  • When making tofu scramble instead of eggs, make sure your tofu isn’t too wet and that it is adequately seasoned.
  • Barley can be just as satisfying as risotto, and doesn’t require as much bothersome stirring.

More Information About Animal Free Cooking and Eating:

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Sep 03

The internet is buzzing this week over secret video footage that shows baby chicks being ground up alive in an egg-laying chicken hatchery in Iowa. The video was produced and released by Mercy for Animals, an animal rights activist organization that equipped an employee with a secret camera to document the treatment of chicks in the egg-laying breed hatchery, which is reportedly the world’s largest. Mercy for Animals estimates that 200 million baby male chicks are systematically destroyed each year by the egg industry, mostly using horrific methods like the grinder shown in this video.

This is one reason why millions of people around the world are choosing to become vegans.

A vegan is someone who does not consume any foods that are animal-based. This doesn’t just mean that they don’t eat meat, fish, or poultry like vegetarians, it also means that they don’t eat products produced by animals, like milk, cheese, butter, and eggs. For some vegans, the “Hatchery Horrors” video is the latest documentation of farm animal atrocities which motivates their dietary choices. For others, veganism is simply a matter of good health.

A recent Georgetown University study concluded that a vegan diet may be able to completely cure Type 2 diabetes. It’s the high-fiber and low-fat qualities of the vegan diet that proved to be highly beneficial to diabetics in the study. Also, the elimination of meat from the diet lowered the cholesterol in the Georgetown study participants and helped them to lose a significant amount of weight.

Another reason many Americans are turning away from meat is because they are losing faith in the safety of the American food supply system. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one in four Americans will be sickened by food-borne illnesses this year. E-coli and salmonella infections are the most dangerous food-related illnesses, and are most commonly contracted from eating meat and meat products that are unknowingly contaminated.

Even though the health benefits of a vegan diet are well-documented, many people still resist eating vegan because it seems radical and tasteless. “What most people usually picture is unappetizing steamed vegetables, a pile of beans with a sprig of parsley on top, and a block of wobbly tofu,” says Lauren Ulm, who writes a popular vegan blog, “They either haven’t had any experience with vegan food or the experience they had wasn’t a good one,” Lauren says.

Lauren shares her recipes on her blog because she wants to help people who are like she was when she first started eating vegan – clueless. She found herself standing in front of her refrigerator filled with vegan ingredients that she didn’t know how to use to construct any kind of dish or meal. With a lot of experimentation Lauren found that she could make just about anything vegan.

“I was totally amazed that .. with a little imagination and a few swaps, you could make decadent things like doughnuts, cupcakes, and a macaroni and cheese that rivaled my mom’s and weren’t just pathetic vegan stand-ins for the ‘real’ versions,” Lauren says.

Lauren’s way of combining healthy ingredients with good taste has revealed a growing trend in the way American’s are changing their eating habits. Her unknown blog became a popular blog, then an award-winning blog, and now a published cookbook by the same name, “Vegan Yum Yum” which was released in bookstores this week. When Lauren was invited to be a guest on the Martha Stewart Show, it proved just how popular vegan and vegetarian cooking are becoming.

Veggie enthusiasts are popping up everywhere. Paul McCartney is actively promoting “Meatless Mondays” around the world. The documentary, “Food, Inc.” has been playing in movie theaters across the country this summer. There are 200 separate accounts and 50,000 followers who tweet about eating vegan on Twitter every day.

Vegans are no longer just fanatics obsessed with animal rights, contaminated food supplies, or extreme eating habits. These days many people are eating vegan just because it’s cool. There are multiple iPhone apps made just for vegans now. Which just goes to show that vegans do wear shoes, hold jobs, and know how to operate modern electronic gadgets.

One of those vegan iPhone apps comes from Lauren, who wants her particular style of cooking to be appealing and accessible to vegans and non-vegans alike. “I wanted non-vegans to see my food and think, ‘Yum, I could really go for that!’ as opposed to,’Ugh, vegans.’”

Comparing a video of how to make Vegan Graham Cracker S’mores and a video of hatchery workers carelessly tossing live animals into a shredder, it’s becoming increasingly clear to people which is the “yum” and which is the “ugh.”

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