Thursday, October 6, 2011

My crush on the 30-Day Vegan Challenge + chocolate cake!

My family has fallen in love with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The 30-Day Vegan Challenge book. More than just a collection of some of her best recipes, it's a manifesto for vegans, ultimate guide book for the veg-curious and must-have resource for anyone who wants to eat well to feel well and live compassionately.

We love the easy to follow recipes and I enjoy giving the book away to friends and clients. If you know someone who would like to be vegan but says they don't have enough money/time/patience to stick with it or "just can't give up cheese", The 30-Day Vegan Challenge is for you (and them!). It addresses these concerns plus many more in a non-confrontational, encouraging, compassionate manner.

This fantastic book is organized into three primary sections:

"get ready!"
  • Simplifies what being vegan means and what to expect from the book
"get set!"
  • Encourages readers to understand their current state of health, find a support system, and to set clear goals and intentions
  • Offers 30 days of support, ideas and information on sustaining a vegan diet. I can't say enough about the valuable information contained in this section. Some of my favorite topics include:
    • Stocking a healthful vegan kitchen
    • Eating healthfully affordably
    • Discovering that there IS life after cheese
    • Putting to rest the great protein myth
    • Strong like Popeye: increasing your iron absorption
    • Skipping the middle fish: getting omega-2s from the source
    • Finding harmony living in a mixed household
    • Keeping it in perspective: intention, not perfection
    • Easy and convenient recipes
It's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options available in a vegan diet when you first get started. The meal planning guide in this book makes it tremendously easy for you to plan three quick and easy meals a day plus snacks. There are even helpful tips on what to eat at restaurants!

While the information is easily digestible, the recipes are delicious, and very easy to make, with ingredients available at your local grocery store. For example, my 13 year old son was inspired to make Colleen's Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting recipe all by himself while I was catching up on some work after dinner. He did a fantastic job and even cleaned the kitchen afterwards! Unfortunately he had already sliced up the cake and served it to the family before I could take a picture, but trust me on this one, if you need a quick and easy recipe for cake or cupcakes, make this one your no-fail, go-to recipe.

by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Chocolate Cake Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup cold water
Chocolate Cake Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan or cupcake tins.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the vanilla, oil, vinegar, and water. Mix until just combined.
  3. Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If making cupcakes, check for doneness after 15 minutes.
  4. Cool on a wire rack. To remove the cake from the pan, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake. Cool completely before frosting with Cocoa Frosting. You may also dust with sifted confectioner's sugar and top with fresh raspberries.
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons water or non-dairy milk
Frosting Directions:
  1. With an electric hand mixer, cream the margarine until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the sugar, and mix for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons more non-dairy milk if it's too dry.
  3. Cover the icing with plastic wrap to prevent drying until ready to use. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, and re-whip before using.
If you would like to own a copy of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The 30-Day Vegan Challenge , you can purchase it from your local bookstore, get it at a great price on Amazon, or you can enter to win a copy for free right here!  Just 1) leave a comment telling me how you will use this fabulous book to promote a vegan lifestyle, and 2) tweet this blog post to help spread the word about the book and how easy it is to be vegan.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off for a second piece of that cake...

Here's to your good fortune and health!

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