Vegan, Dairy-Free, Scrumptious Fruitcake — for Halloween or Anytime!
Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruitcake known for its unique connection to Halloween. The name barmbrack comes from the Irish term báirín breac, which means “speckled bread.” It’s a moist, sweet loaf made with tea-soaked raisins and sultanas.
What makes it particularly special is the inclusion of symbolic items baked into the cake. These items, such as a ring, a coin, a pea, and a stick, carry distinct meanings for those who find them. The tradition of including these objects in barmbrack turns it into a form of fortune-telling game.
Barmbrack’s association with Halloween in Ireland is rooted in the tradition of divination and superstition. People would eagerly anticipate the slicing of the barmbrack on Halloween night, as the item they found in their slice was believed to foretell their future.
For example, finding a ring meant one would be married within the year, while discovering a coin signified good fortune. Today, barmbrack remains a beloved treat during the Halloween season, and the tradition of including symbolic items continues to be a fun and cherished part of this festive time in Ireland.
2 cups mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas)
1 cup strong brewed black tea (cooled)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp marmalade or apricot jam (for glazing)
Start by brewing a strong cup of black tea and letting it cool. Once cooled, pour it over the mixed dried fruit in a large bowl. Make sure all the fruit is submerged. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight, allowing the fruit to plump up.
The next day, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and line a 7-8 inch round cake tin with parchment paper.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt.
Stir the applesauce and vanilla extract into the soaked dried fruit.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the fruit mixture, stirring until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove the Barmbrack from the oven and let it cool in the tin for a few minutes. Then, transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the Barmbrack has cooled, warm the marmalade or apricot jam in a small saucepan. Brush it over the top of the cake for a glossy finish.
Slice and serve your vegan Barmbrack. It’s best enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee.
This vegan Barmbrack is a delicious treat for Halloween or any time you want to savor a spiced fruitcake with a bit of Irish tradition.
Vegan Colcannon — Plant-Based, Nutrient-Dense, and Delicious!
Colcannon is a wonderful example of traditional Irish cuisine, resonating with the principles of “cucina povera” or “poor cuisine” reminiscent of Italian cooking, as I’ve previously explored elsewhere, especially in my podcast.
Both culinary traditions share a common thread of resourcefulness and thriftiness, elevating humble ingredients into wholesome, comforting dishes. Just as “cucina povera” in Italian culture transforms simple ingredients like bread, olive oil, and tomatoes into exquisite creations such as Panzanella, colcannon epitomizes the Irish approach to turning basic staples, such as potatoes and greens, into a heartwarming, belly-filling, and flavorful masterpiece.
These culinary legacies, rooted in simplicity and tradition, remind us of the enduring connections between food, culture, and our own ancestral stories — especially for those of us with Irish roots.
4 large russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups chopped kale (curly kale works well)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your preferred plant-based milk)
4 tablespoons vegan butter
4 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the Potatoes:
Place the diced potatoes in a large pot and cover them with water. Add a pinch of salt to the water.
Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork.
Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.
Prepare the Kale:
While the potatoes are cooking, blanch the chopped kale in a separate pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, or until it’s bright green and tender.
Drain the kale and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Mash the Potatoes:
Use a potato masher to mash the cooked potatoes until they are smooth and free of lumps.
Add Plant-Based Milk and Vegan Butter:
To the mashed potatoes, add the unsweetened almond milk and vegan butter. Mix well until the butter has melted, and the mixture is creamy. Adjust the milk and butter to achieve your desired consistency.
Fold in Kale and Green Onions:
Gently fold the blanched kale and sliced green onions into the mashed potatoes. Ensure they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
Season and Serve:
Season the colcannon with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
Serve your vegan colcannon hot, and enjoy this comforting and flavorful dish!
This vegan colcannon is a delicious, plant-based twist on the traditional Irish dish, perfect for a hearty meal any time of the year, especially around St. Patrick’s Day or Halloween.
Did You Know?
Traditionally, colcannon was a cherished dish served during Allhallowtide, a period encompassing All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween / October 31st), All Saints’ Day (November 1st), and All Soul’s Day (November 2nd). This hearty Irish fare, consisting of mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage, and often accompanied by hidden treasures like rings and coins, was not only a delicious treat but also a part of festive fortune-telling rituals.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 🍀🇮🇪 Today, we’re taking a deep dive into the rich culinary heritage of Ireland, celebrating the delicious traditional foods that have been passed down for generations and making a St. Patrick’s Day Vegan Menu.
You heard that right.
Traditions are meant to be adapted. Traditions are meant to reflect our values. So, let’s get to it.
Irish cuisine is hearty and comforting — thick soups, chunky stews, creamy sides, and warming drinks. This is the food I grew up on in my Irish-American family. My name IS, after all, Colleen Patrick — Colleen meaning “girl” and Patrick referring to the patron saint of this holiday. (The “Goudreau” part of my last name comes from my husband.)
Officially, I’m 75% Irish and 25% Italian, my ancestors having immigrated to the United States in the late 19th century. And I’m 100% vegan. So, that makes a St. Patrick’s Day Vegan Menu right up my alley! 😇
St. Patrick’s Day History
The history of St. Patrick’s Day dates back to the 17th century, when it was first observed as a religious feast day by the Catholic Church in Ireland. St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was a fifth-century Christian missionary who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.
He is also known for using the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the Irish people.
Over time, St. Patrick’s Day became a public holiday in Ireland, and it was celebrated with religious ceremonies and feasts. It was also a day when people would wear green, which is now a symbol of Ireland and a nod to the country’s lush green landscape.
In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day became popular among Irish immigrants in the late 19th century. These immigrants organized parades and other celebrations to celebrate their heritage and culture. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland and is celebrated around the world.
Irish Main Dishes and Sides
CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE (AMERICAN): One of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day food traditions is corned beef and cabbage, and I have memories of my mother cooking this in the slow cooker every March. However, this dish is not actually a traditional Irish meal. It is believed to have originated in the United States in the mid-19th century, when Irish immigrants substituted corned beef for bacon, which was more expensive in America.
Hearty Irish Vegan Stew
HEARTY STEW (IRISH): In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is more commonly celebrated with a traditional Irish meal of a thick, hearty stew with potatoes, carrots, and onions. For my vegan version, I use plant-based meat, though you can just leave that out and just feature root vegetables. You can use store-bought seitan, sausage, or any favorite vegan meat. To avoid extra packaging and cost, I make my own seitan, which is much more economical and ecological. You can find my recipe in the on-demand class library, or just click on the button below:
COLCANNON (IRISH): Another traditional Irish dish is colcannon, a delicious and creamy mixture of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. This simple yet satisfying dish would be served with a dollop of (nondairy) butter, and it’s a great accompaniment to any main dish. It is also a perfect way to get some St. Patrick’s Day GREEN in your menu — using healthy, delicious greens. You can take that further by making a side of
sauteed collard greens
spinach or arugula salad
BOXTY (IRISH): An alternative to colcannon is boxty, a traditional Irish potato pancake. There are different regional variations of boxty throughout Ireland, with some recipes including other ingredients like onions, garlic, or herbs. Boxty has been a staple of Irish cuisine for centuries and is still popular today, particularly in rural areas of the country.
SODA BREAD (IRISH): Another traditional item for this holiday is soda bread, which has been a staple in Irish cuisine for many years, and it’s still enjoyed today for a few reasons. One of the main reasons is that it’s a simple bread to make using basic ingredients that were readily available to the Irish people throughout history, including flour, salt, baking soda, and soured milk (or buttermilk).
Using plant-based milk instead of animal milk is an easy vegan switcheroo for a bread that is otherwise vegan. Enjoy my recipe for Irish Soda Bread here.
Irish Dessert and Drinks
For dessert, Irish people often enjoy traditional dishes like apple cake, bread pudding, or trifle. They may also indulge in Guinness beer (now vegan!), Bailey’s Irish Cream (a vegan version now available!), or Irish whiskey (always been vegan, thank goodness!). 😇 These iconic Irish beverages have been enjoyed for centuries, and their rich flavors are the perfect complement to any traditional Irish meal.
You can enjoy my Whisky Apple Cake recipe as part of the St. Patrick’s Day Vegan Menu. And if you have my book, Color Me Vegan, you will find a beautiful Green Matcha Cupcake, which is a fun way to feature some of the Irish green!
Green Recipe Inspiration!
Here are some more ideas for green recipes for St. Patrick’s Day:
Green Matcha Smoothie with Blueberries
Green smoothie bowl: Blend spinach, banana, kiwi, and coconut milk to make a creamy and nutritious green smoothie. Top with sliced fruit, granola, and nuts for a satisfying breakfast or snack.
Irish soda bread with green herbs: Add chopped green herbs like parsley, chives, or basil to your Irish soda bread dough to give it a fresh and savory twist.
Shamrock avocado toast: Spread mashed avocado onto toasted bread and use a cookie cutter to cut the shape of a shamrock. Top with sliced cherry tomatoes, green onions, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Green hummus: Blend chickpeas, garlic, tahini, and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth. Add a handful of fresh parsley, cilantro, or spinach and blend until the mixture turns bright green. Serve with pita chips or crudites.
Matcha latte: Whisk together matcha powder, agave, and warm plant-based milk to make a frothy and invigorating green tea latte.
Pistachio “nice” cream: Make a homemade pistachio nice cream by blending pistachios into your frozen bananas. Blend the mixture in a blender until it’s thick and creamy.
Shamrock sugar cookies: Make sugar cookie dough and add green food coloring to the mix. Cut out shamrock shapes with cookie cutters, bake, and decorate with green icing and sprinkles.
So let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in true Irish style with delicious, nutritious, compassionate vegan recipes! You can find my video, recipes, and menu of TRADITIONAL IRISH STEW, POTATO PANCAKES (BOXTY), AND APPLE CRUMBLE by clicking on the button below.
Abstaining from meat, dairy, and eggs during religious holidays has been a tradition for centuries in many religions. In Christianity, for example, during Lent (40 days prior to Easter) and Advent (40 days prior to Christmas), parishioners were forbidden to consume animal flesh as well as as dairy, cheese, and eggs.
In today’s episode, we explore this history and demonstrate that not eating animal products was more common than not, especially during the period of contemplation and contrition leading up to the holy days of Easter and Christmas. I share my own experience growing up Catholic, my memories of Fish Fridays, and the meaning of a common English word whose origins are steeped in religious abstinence.
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)
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
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!
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.
Having days marked out on our calendars — whether it’s Valentine’s Day or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday — to celebrate the people we love in our lives is a good thing, so make it whatever you want.
Here are a few ideas for romantic / platonic gift ideas that are waste-free, vegan, and meaningful.
#1 FLOWERS AND PLANTS
Growing flowers and shipping them around the world has a huge carbon footprint. If you can find locally grown flowers where you are, then that’s your best option. If not, consider buying a plant or tree from a local nursery that can be kept and loved as a house plant or planted in the ground in the spring. If you’d still like to buy flowers, consider a sustainable online retailer like Bouqs.com that wraps flowers in paper (not plastic) and features the farmers they source their flowers from.
#2 CONSUMABLE GIFTS
With chocolate — as with many things grown commercially and intensively — there are many considerations — such as how it’s produced in terms of environmental impacts, human rights, animal exploitation, so make sure you’re purchasing something that reflects your values. My favorite chocolate brands are
Endangered Species (best hazelnut chocolate spread / vegan nutella ever!)
Tcho (which is a local chocolate maker and works with farmers directly)
They’re all packaged in foil and paper, which means I can recycle the foil and compost the paper (and tell my gift recipient to to do the same).
Alternatively, check to see if you can get chocolate in bulk. It might be little chocolate candies or even chocolate chips you can add to a nice glass jar you have on hand, or look for a tin of chocolate pieces, cocoa powder, or vegan / plant-based hot chocolate mixes (or make your own with cocoa powder and sugar!).
–>glass and aluminum are the two materials I still purchase (in a limited way). They’re both still considered valuable in the marketplace, and so they’re properly recycled and then used again to make more glass and more aluminum (whereas plastic is not).
So, in that vein, what about gifting someone a beautiful bottle (or tin) of…
#3 HOMEMADE MEALS
Now, obviously I’m going to recommend homemade meals because…there is NOTHING more personal than making a beautiful meal for someone that you shopped for, prepped for, and made yourself (and because I have over 500 recipes in my cookbooks to guide you! It’s just so much more meaningful to cook a meal for someone over going to a restaurant. (In The Vegan Table, I have recipes and menus specific to romantic meals, and of course The Joy of Vegan Baking is chock full of sweet desserts.)
And if you want to think in terms of aphrodisiac foods, consider the sensory characteristics of the foods you choose: how they look, sound, smell, taste, or feel.
–> VISUAL: Red, for instance, has always been associated with passion, so choose beets, cherries, cranberries, and pomegranates. Asparagus has been enjoyed as an aphrodisiac because of its (ahem!) shape.
–> TEXTURE: Agave nectar, derived from a cactus-like plant, oozes a thick sweet syrup. The romantic effect of champagne has more to do with the bubbles than with the alcohol. Think mouthfeel (something creamy, something succulent, something scintillating.) I’ll let you use your imagination to come up with ideas.
–> HEAT: Spicy foods do heat up the body, so consider something like my Spicy Red Bell Pepper Soup (which is both red and spicy) and a slice of my Mexican Chocolate Cake – both of which are in my book The 30-Day Vegan Challenge.
–>BLOOD FLOW: Someone has to say this: a healthy body has everything to do with blood flowing unhindered to all of the organs in our body! Plant foods — vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, mushrooms, herbs, and spices — are all aphro-di-si-a-cal foods, because they increase blood flow. Meat and animal products, on the other hand, constrict the blood vessels, decreasing blood flow, and thus potentially decreasing the libido. Know what I mean, jelly bean?
#4 HANDMADE CARDS / NOTES
What would a commercial greeting card say that you couldn’t write yourself? Grab some paper or a blank greeting card you have at home, a marker, and get writing. Or send an email. Just take the time to tell your loved one(s) you appreciate them!
#5 EXPERIENCES NOT THINGS
Go to the theatre, a sports game, a bowling alley, the movies. Go on a picnic, a hike, a walk. Go create some memories.
Just don’t hurt anyone (including animals and our earth), keep it simple, keep in meaningful, make it special.
I’D LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU DO TO MAKE YOUR LOVED ONES FEEL SPECIAL, ZERO-WASTE, AND COMPASSIONATE FOR ALL!
The intention in my work on behalf of animals and veganism has always been to guide people to live compassionately and healthfully with joy and confidence — and without deprivation. And that’s why I offer so many opportunities for you to join me in living joyfully, fully, abundantly, compassionately, intentionally, creatively, and consciously — in other words, to enjoy The Vegan Experience.
For those who have never met them, turkeys are magnificent animals, full of spunk and spark, each with individual personalities and concerns. I was amazed the first time I visited rescued turkeys at a sanctuary for farmed animals, birds who had been abused, whose beak tips had been cut off and whose toes had been mutilated, but who still displayed immense affection for humans. A special turkey lady climbed into my lap and cooed as she fell asleep in my arms, while I stroked her soft chest and beautiful feathers. The next year, a special turkey named Lydia became very famous for hugging anyone who squatted down and held out his or her arms. Extraordinary animals they are.
If we claim to be a compassionate society—a compassionate species—don’t we have a duty to foster solutions that do not harm others? The great humanitarian Albert Schweitzer certainly thought so when he wrote, “The thinking [person] must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another.”