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Vegan Passover Menu

Why a plant-based Seder beautifully reflects the values of this important Jewish holiday

A brief history of Passover

The story of Passover dates back over 3,000 years ago when the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt under the rule of the Pharaoh. Moses, who was raised as an Egyptian, learned of his true heritage and led the Israelites to freedom.

After enduring a series of plagues, including the death of all their firstborn, the Pharaoh finally relented and let the Israelites leave Egypt. They were in such a hurry to leave that they did not have time to let their bread rise, and instead made unleavened bread to take with them on their journey.

The Passover Seder, the ritual feast that begins the Passover holiday, includes a retelling of the Exodus story, using symbolic foods and rituals that represent the Jewish people’s journey to freedom. It is a time for families and communities to come together and share in the tradition, history, and values that have sustained the Jewish people for generations.

How the values of Passover and veganism align

Passover commemorates the Jewish people’s journey from slavery to freedom, and emphasizes the importance of treating others with dignity and respect.

Similarly, veganism seeks to minimize harm to animals and reduce exploitation in the food system, promoting compassion for all beings.

Both values highlight the importance of recognizing the inherent worth and value of all individuals, regardless of their species, background, or circumstances. Freedom from harm, liberation from enslavement, and hope for a better future are central values in both Passover and veganism.

Vegan Passover Seder menu

The Seder, which means “order,” is the traditional Passover meal that includes reading, drinking wine, telling stories, remembering history, eating special foods, singing, and other Passover traditions.

One significant practice of this holiday involves the removal of leavened foods commemorating the fact that the slaves fleeing Egypt did not have time to let their bread rise.

Matzo represents this unleavened bread and is used in many forms throughout the holiday — as crackers, as flour, as meal / bread crumbs, as bread. 

Options for a vegan Passover menu abound, and you can find 11 delicious recipes in my specially curated RECIPE BUNDLE FOR A VEGAN PASSOVER. Enjoy these easy-to-make, eager-to-please recipes for:

  • Matzo Ball Soup
  • Borscht (Beet Soup)
  • Charoset
  • Noodle Kugel
  • Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers
  • Roasted Beets and Fennel Bulbs with Fennel Oil
  • Matzo Pizza with Cashew Mozzarella
  • Mushroom Walnut Pâté
  • Matzo Chocolate Brittle
  • Flourless Chocolate Tart
  • Coconut Macaroons

Most of the ingredients in these recipes are whole plant foods, some of them call for store-bought ingredients, such as olive oil or balsamic vinegar. If you are keeping kosher for Passover, just double-check your commercially bought ingredients before using.

I included ingredients that you should have no problem finding certified kosher, but depending on how observant you or your host and their guests are, you’ll want to double-check if they’re labeled “kosher for Passover.”

Your best bet is to check a kosher grocery store, the kosher section of a larger grocery, or one of the many online stores that carry kosher products, especially if they come from Israel!

GET YOUR PASSOVER BUNDLE TODAY!

Vegan Seder plate

The six symbolic foods on the Seder plate play an important role, since they’re used to recount the story of the exodus and convey the elements of the powerful message of Passover: that freedom is possible, that slavery can end, and that the future can be better than the past.

Many plant foods are already traditionally part of the Seder plate, namely:

  • Charoset, which represents the mortar that Jews worked with when they were enslaved by the Egyptians. Ashkenazi Jews typically make charoset with apples, walnuts, cinnamon, and wine; Sephardic Jews often use figs and dates. Also delicious.
  • Bitter herbs, which symbolize the bitterness and harshness of slavery. This is often represented with horseradish.
  • Additional bitter herbs, such as romaine lettuce or endive, have the same effect.
  • A green vegetable, such as parsley, which represents new life, is dipped in salt water, signifying the tears of the slaves.

A couple animal products are also used as symbols, namely a boiled egg to symbolize new life and a shank bone to represent the lamb who was offered for sacrifice, but non-animal alternatives are widely accepted:

  • The most common vegan substitute for the shank bone is a roasted beet, whose “bloody” appearance is used to represent the blood of the sacrificial lambs. Beets are referenced as a Passover Seder option in the Talmud.
  • While the egg doesn’t have the same kind of long-established traditional substitute, there are a few different options used by Jewish vegans in its place:
    • something egg-shaped — like a plastic or wooden egg, or even a smooth rock 
    • seeds, because they symbolize and hold the potential for new life, can be used in place of an egg. An avocado pit is used by many because it is a seed and it somewhat resembles the shape of the egg it is replacing.
    • the type of eggplant that is round and white is a great substitute; it even looks like an egg.  
    • rice, being outside of the category for grains forbidden to eat at Passover, was another vegetarian Seder option given in the Talmud.

Pick the one that resonates with you and take heart in the fact that a vegan Seder is not only traditional in its own right, it reflects the principles of freedom and mercy that signify this holiday.

Traveling in Tuscany: A Conversation

In this special episode, my travel business partner Brighde Reed (of World Vegan Travel) and I chat with some of the travelers from our Tour of Tuscany trip. First airing on the World Vegan Travel Podcast, in this special conversation, we talk about food, culture, language, highlights, surprises, and recommendations. If you have been curious about our vegan tours or just want to bask in the wonders of Italy — especially from a traveler’s perspective, this is the episode for you.

Join me on an all-inclusive luxury vegan trip: JoyfulVeganTrips.com

AFFILIATE PARTNERS

Nama Juicer — Use this link and coupon code COLLEEN10 and get 10% off my favorite juicer.

Plaine Products — Use this link and coupon code “compassion” for 15% off my favorite zero waste bath and body products.

Complement — Use this link and coupon code “joyfulvegan” and get 10% off my favorite supplements.

Tools for Making Homemade Tofu (Zero Waste + Vegan)

The Benefits of Making Tofu At Home

Mastering homemade tofu (well, as much as a little grasshopper can master a 2,000-year-old practice) has been my highlight of 2020. It’s all the more exciting because I failed so many times, and when I realized what was hindering my success, it was like a dam breaking. I’ve never looked back and now make tofu successfully a couple times a week. 

Is it worth making tofu at home? ABSOLUTELY! 

  • Homemade tofu is so much less expensive than store-bought
  • Homemade tofu eliminates plastic packaging (i.e. zero waste / low waste)
  • Homemade tofu tastes absolutely scrumptious!

Whether or not you join me in my upcoming live cooking class for making homemade tofu, I thought I would share with you the basic “equipment” needed to make your own tofu at home. As you’ll see, I mention a couple things you probably already have on hand, but there are some things that will be new to you. 

Tools You’ll Need for Homemade Tofu

As for the tofu mold, I prefer a wooden tofu mold, which I’ve had for years, but when I looked for one to refer you to, I found it difficult to find one that wasn’t part of a tofu-making kit. However, considering the fact that the kits provide you with everything you need, it may be worth it in the end. The two kits I recommend are:

  1. SoyaJoy Tofu Kit with Wooden Mold, Nigari, and Cheesecloth 
  2. Yamako Tofu Kit with Wooden Mold, Nigari, and Cheesecloth 

Because I wanted to ease you into the homemade tofu-making process, I also wanted to find an option for you to use a mold you may already have on hand without having to buy one just yet. While a “colander” would work (as some blogs suggest), you need more than just a colander…you need a colander/strainer that will also act as a mold (usually square but any shape will do). So, two options to consider:

  1. A plastic tupperware container you punch / drill holes into the bottom of.
  2. A small plastic basket — like those that strawberries come in. The fruit basket is actually the perfect size, and it creates / presses a pretty little design into the tofu block once it’s finished pressing. 

Cheese Cloth: Whatever mold you use, you still need a cheesecloth, though, so just purchase some at a store near you, or buy some online; here’s one I like — it’s unbleached, you can cut it into whatever size you need, and you can wash it and use it again and again and again. And I do.

Nigari: As for the nigari, as I mentioned, it can be purchased in crystal or liquid form and can be found at most Japanese or Asian grocery stores, or you can order online here (in crystal form) or here (in liquid form). FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve used only the crystalized nigari that I dilute in water, and while it comes in a plastic bag, the amount of plastic waste you avoid using by making your own tofu makes up for it a hundred fold. (For instance, 1 pound of crystallized nigari makes about 240 pounds of tofu!) HOWEVER, I *am* curious about using liquid nigari, and since the one I recommend comes in a glass bottle, it would be even less plastic waste. I just haven’t tried it yet. What I use at the present time is nigari salts that I dissolve in water. 

Kitchen / Candy Thermometer: I mention below that this is not required, but I like to know I’m at the right temperature when adding my coagulant, so I use a simple thermometer to do so. Here is the one I have

The main thing I learned in terms of successfully making tofu was that the soy milk has to be made … from scratch. I mean…you definitely can’t use store-bought commercial soy milk and try to make tofu, but my failed attempts at making tofu also came from using soy milk I made in my favorite soy milk maker. I still use that soy milk maker just for making soy milk for daily use, but for making tofu, you have to do it without a machine.

Learn How to Make Tofu

There is a LIVE ONLINE COOKING CLASS coming up to teach you how to make tofu! REGISTER TODAY!

And let me know about your experience! I want to hear your comments and questions.

How to Make Delicious Bruschetta!

Black Olive and Cashew Cream Bruschetta

Can you tell Italian cuisine is on my mind? Between our trips to Italy and my Italian cuisine podcast series, I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes: bruschetta.

Traditionally, bruschetta features tomatoes and basil, but bruschetta itself just means “burnt / toasted bread,” so really, we can do whatever we want.

BUT, you can’t say broo-SHET-a. The “ch” sound in Italian is a hard “k” sound (like Chianti or Gnocchi), so it’s pronounced broo-SKET_a.

Ingredients

🌱2 tablespoons olive oil
🌱3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
🌱2 shallots, finely minced
🌱Salt and pepper, to taste
🌱1/4 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
🌱1/2 cup pitted black (or kalamata) olives, finely minced
🌱1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
🌱1 whole grain baguette, sliced
🌱Olive oil for brushing
🌱Basil Cashew Cream (see below)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400, and line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

2. Add the oil to a large sauté pan, along with the garlic, shallots, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Cook over medium heat until the shallots begin to glisten, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and olives, and sauté for 3 minutes more.

4. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, and turn off heat.

5. Lightly brush both sides of the bread slices with oil.

6. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, and bake until about 5 to 7 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Spread a generous amount of cashew cream on each bread slice, and carefully spoon the olive mixture on top.

8. Sprinkle with some minced basil.

MANGIA!

Basil Cashew Cream

Because the cashews have to soak for at least an hour, you will want to factor that in to your total prep time.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (300 g) raw cashews soaked in 3 cups (720 ml) of water for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced basil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water

Directions

Once the cashews have soaked, drain and rinse them in a strainer.

Place them in a food processor, along with the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and basil. Turn on the machine, and let it run for a few seconds to start combining the ingredients.

Add most of the water, and process until the mixture is completely smooth, about 2 to 4 minutes, turning the machine off periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Before adding all of the water, I like first seeing what the consistency is; it’s always easier to add more than it is to take any out!

Salt, to taste. The consistency should be thick but spreadable.

For Your Modification

*Instead of basil, add chives, dill, parsley, or any combination you desire.

*Add finely chopped sundried tomatoes and/or olives instead of or along with the fresh herbs.

For Your Information

It will keep well in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.

Did you make this bruschetta recipe? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Panzanella (Bread Salad)

Don’t Waste That Stale Bread!

Panzanella is an Italian salad (pan means “bread”) that was most likely invented out of necessity as a way to use stale bread, along with fresh vegetables from the garden. The earliest written reference to Panzanella is from the 1500s in a poem by the famous artist, Bronzino. Because the tomato hadn’t yet been introduced to Italy, the original recipe wouldn’t have included tomatoes. 

Instead of discarding that hearty Italian loaf that’s going stale, make this delicious salad that is absolutely divine in the summer when tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil are at their peak. Vegan, of course.

Panzanella Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 medium tomatoes, cut into large chunks 
  • 4 to 6 cups (360 to 540 g) day-old crusty bread (Italian loaf or French baguette), cut into cubes the same size as the tomatoes (a full loaf or baguette should be fine)
  • 1 medium hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 medium cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons high-quality balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Add the tomatoes, bread, cucumber, red onion, garlic, capers, and basil to a large bowl, and toss together. Drizzle in the vinegar and ¼ cup olive oil, and toss some more. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add additional olive oil, if desired. 

Set aside and marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. I would avoid marinating the salad in the refrigerator, since the tomatoes tend to become somewhat “mealy” in the fridge. 

Serve at room temperature. 

Yield: 8 generous servings as a side 

If you don’t have stale bread, take a fresh loaf of hearty bread, cut it into large cubes, spread them on a baking sheet, and bake in a 200°F-degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. You don’t want to completely toast the bread; you just want to dry it out. It’s essential that you dry out the bread first before soaking it in the oil and vinegar; otherwise, it will just become soggy.

Soy free

For Your Modification

Add other ingredients that pair well with the traditional classic, such as olives, sundried tomatoes, capers, red wine, parsley, mint, roasted bell peppers.

Reprinted with permission from The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. For more recipes and resources, check out The 30-Day Vegan Challenge Online Program.

Let me know if you have any questions!

We Mastered Distanced Dinners in 2020

As someone who entertains a lot, it was no surprise that one of the things I missed the most when the Covid-19 pandemic hit was hosting friends and neighbors. I compensated by enjoying social engagements online, but of course they’re no replacement for in-person parties. And while we never went “back to normal,” I was relieved when the science was clear enough to indicate that we could safely see people in person — masked, physically distanced, and a few at a time. Cue the distanced dinner party!

Check out photos from our (many) distanced social gatherings

This good news coincided with the onset of warmer weather, and so we quickly adapted to hosting one or two people at a time in our backyard. Having sitting areas with plenty of options for 6-foot distancing, we arranged cafe tables and chairs several feet apart and set one table for us and one table for our guests. (I actually love this and may continue this set up after this is all over — just moving the tables closer together!)

Friends at dinner

Friends at dinner

Colleen and David at dinner

Sometimes we’d host physically distanced drinks in one sitting area and dinner in another.

 

Ana and Colleen

Physically distance dinner

Physically distance dinner

 

Living in northern California where October and November are even sunnier than the summer months, we were able to extend our outdoor gatherings all the way through late fall — albeit with some blankets to keep warm when the sun went down. 

 

Physically distance dinner with blankets

Friends in blankets

We even celebrated a couple of birthdays — with cake and candles…

Birthday with friends

Chocolate birthday cake

 

Thwarted temporarily by fires, smoke, ash, and virus surges, we’d take a break from hosting when it wasn’t healthy or safe, but once it was, we were back at it — even able to host a couple friends for Thanksgiving.

Two people at table

Until we can host friends inside again  — and more than two at a time — without the risk of catching or spreading Covid, we are grateful to have outdoor spaces to accommodate our needs and our friends. 

To all the healthcare workers: I’m amazed by what you do in normal times. I’m in awe of what you’re doing now. We promise we’ll keep making choices that keep us healthy, keep our friends safe, and keep you from being overtaxed. We don’t take this lightly. Thank you for all you do!

Did you find ways to throw your own distanced dinner party or another kind of gathering?

 

 

Staying Healthy — Physically, Emotionally, Mentally — During (and After) a Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lock-down have added stress and strain to our bodies, hearts, and minds. Listen to this episode for ideas for staying healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally during this time and always. 

AFFILIATE PARTNERS

Nama Juicer — Use this link and coupon code COLLEEN10 and get 10% off my favorite juicer.

Plaine Products — Use this link and coupon code “compassion” for 15% off my favorite zero waste bath and body products.

Complement — Use this link and coupon code “joyfulvegan” and get 10% off my favorite supplements.

Online Vegan Cooking Classes

Covid Silver Lining

I started teaching the cooking classes when the coronavirus started threatening our lives and our regular routines. They became so popular they’ve continued every since.

The Joy of Teaching Cooking

The classes are fun, interactive, and live in real-time! This means, I see you, you see all the other participants, and you see me cooking in my Oakland kitchen and answering your questions. You receive all the recipes in advance of the class and a video recording of the class after it’s over. If you cook along with me, just have everything prepped in advance!

Upcoming Schedule

You can view the upcoming class schedule on the main cooking class page, where you can book a class, gift a friend, or take advantage of the discounts and specials we have.