Vegan Blueberry Pancakes, Stuffed Peppers, and Well Lit Kitchens

by Gena on August 6, 2010

Never invite me over to cook for you. I will take over your kitchen.

I will bombard you with grocery bags full of dark, leafy greens:

And exotic whole grain breads (Mom hates Ezekiel, so I brought French Meadow hemp bread):

And bizarre appliances (that’s my Tribest blender in there, get your minds out of the gutter):

I will spill nutritional yeast on your countertops, I will banish your Splenda, and I will replace your Smart Balance with Earth Balance. All in a days work.

My mother, on the other hand, greeted me with nothing but gentle kindness. Check out the kitchen spread that I arrived “home” to:

I love you, Mom.

I won’t lie: staycation hasn’t been all that restful. I worked later than planned yesterday, and I had to pop into the office today. It’s also hot as heck, which makes Mom’s and my enthusiasm for touristy stuff a little low. The solution, of course, has been to lie on the sofa all evening watching bad movies. And that is precisely what we’ve done.

Thank you for all of your wonderful dinner suggestions yesterday! I may not get to all or even some of these in the next day or so, but you can bet they’re all going into my vault of “must make soon” vegan food. I was also amused at how my readers and I seem to love so many of the same foods: hummus, tempeh, whole grain pasta, nooch, roast veggies, curries, etc. No wonder we all like to hang out virtually.

So what did I end up making for dinner #1? An old tried and true: stuffed peppers. What I wanted to do with this recipe was make it a little “cheesy”; Mom has cut down dramatically on dairy, and eats almost no cheese at all these days (go Mom!) but I sense that she still misses it. Since all raw vegans have made at least one “cheesy” sauce that involved nooch and red peppers, I thought I’d transfer that principle to a rice and bean medly, and then bake it in two bell peppers. It worked out well. Here’s the crowd pleasing recipe:

Cheesy Vegan Stuffed Peppers (serves 2)

2 yellow or red bell peppers
1 tsp coconut oil (substitute olive oil if that’s what you have)
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1/2 cup black or aduki beans, cooked
2 roasted and chopped red pepper halves (fresh is best, canned and organic is fine)
3 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp tomato paste (organic, por favor! I like Muir Glen)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Bragg’s (or 1/4 tsp sea salt)
Black pepper to taste

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the tops off of your two peppers, and then remove the seeds and any white pith. Spray a baking pan and put the peppers on it. Stick them in the oven so that they can begin to cook.

2) Heat coconut oil in a skillet and add the brown rice, beans, and peppers, stirring rapidly until they’re warmed through.

3) Add 3-4 tbsp water to the skillet, along with the nooch, the tomato paste, the cumin, the Bragg’s (or salt), and pepper to taste.

4) When everything is well mixed, it ought to look something like this.


As soon as it’s thoroughly warmed through, remove it from the heat. Stuff the mixture into the peppers and return them to the oven. Cook for another 15-25 minutes, or until the peppers are starting to look soft and a little brown at the edges.

The resulting dish is flavorful and comforting. It’s also filling and loaded with protein, which means that moms who are used to eating omnivorously will probably feel satisfied with the dish! I know my Mom was.

I put hummus on top of mine. Why? Because I put hummus on everything.

For our sides, we decided on a summery and slightly Southern theme, alliteration not intended. First, Mom boiled some corn, which we served plain with a touch of Earth Balance.

And to get our greens in, I decided to make my “cheater’s” braised collards. These are collard greens that taste sweet enough to have been cooked for a good long time, but actually take no more than a few minutes. The trick is to flash steam the collards before you give them a sautee — this allows you to retain some texture and brightness while imparting plenty of flavor (there is nothing that creeps me out more than dark green/brownish collards–ICK).

Cheater’s Braised Collards (serves 2 people who really like dark leafies)

Begin with a small head of collard greens. Wash them all, remove the toughest and thickest stems, and then slice them into ribbons, like so:


Next, steam the collards in a colander or simply a sieve that’s been placed over boiling water until they’re still bright green, but still a little crunchy.

Heat a teaspoon or two of coconut or olive oil in a large pan. Swirl it around to coat, and add your collards. Once they’re coated with oil, you want to add a generous tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a very generous tablespoon of agave nectar (or maple syrup) and tamari or sea salt to taste (I actually used about 4-5 squirts of Bragg’s). Continue to swirl them around till they’re well coated and taste salty/sour/sweet. Yum.

All together, it was a perfect summertime dinner. And Mom even loved her collards. (If I can get her to love kale next time, I’ll really celebrate.)

In the meantime, I celebrated with corn on the cob, and Mom celebrated by stealing my camera for embarrassing candid photos.


Thanks Mom.

The next morning, I awoke to the cozy and welcoming sight of my Mom’s lovely, light-filled kitchen. I love my little kitchen, and I’d never trade it in, but I have forgotten how nice it is to cook in the light of day (my kitchen window looks out onto a stuffy air shaft).

I had also forgotten (since I’m a French press snob) how nice it is to make coffee by flipping a switch.


And I had forgotten — but was grateful to remember — that Mom also likes coffee that’s strong enough to burn a hole in your stomach wake you up quickly.


After a brief gym gaunt, I got to making some blueberry vegan pancakes. I am not a baker or pancake maker by nature — I usually mess up — but these basic vegan pancakes have always given me a pretty generous margin of error.


Vegan Blueberry Pancakes (yields 6 large pancakes, or 2 servings)

2/3 cup spelt OR whole wheat pastry flour OR Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free all purpose flour mix
2 tsps baking powder
1 tbsp flax seed dissolved in 1 1/2 tbsp water (this is what vegan bakers call a “flax egg”)
dash salt
2 tsps agave nectar
2 tsps coconut or olive oil
3/4 cup rice, soy, or almond milk (I like rice milk in this recipe)
1/4 cup blueberries

Mix all ingredients but the blueberries together till wet and incorporated, but not over mixed.


If you’re a perfectionist, you might want to add the blueberries to the tops of your pancakes as soon as they hit the griddle. If you’re not (I’m not, at least not with pancakes), add them once the mix is mixed.

Heat a griddle over a medium flame and spray with coconut oil or olive oil cooking spray. Drop the batter in 1/4 cup blobs onto the griddle.

The key to making perfect pancakes — or at least, pancakes that aren’t a giant mess — is to really try hard not to touch them for a bit once they hit the griddle. As soon as you see lots of air bubbles rising to the tops of the side that’s facing you, you can test the edges. If they feel solid, carefully pry your spatula underneath the pancake, and flip!


Leave it on side #2 till the pancake is obviously cooked through, and continue till batter is used up. You should have six large pancakes.

Serve with earth balance (if desired) and agave (Mom’s plate).

Or, if you’re me, smother them in banana and a touch of real maple syrup (yum).

My opinion was that the pancakes were pretty great. Mom liked them, but thought they had too many blueberries. I sort of agree, but then…the blueberries are my favorite part :)

Coffee, vegan pancakes, and a heated discussion about French literature. It was a standard morning in my Mom’s house.

After our chat, my Mom paused and said, “you made food you thought I’d really like last night. I appreciate that.” For a moment I wondered what she meant–don’t I always try to make her stuff she’ll like?–and then it was obvious: as much as I love to cook for my Mom, I do have the habit of infiltrating her apartment with heaps of raw kale, raw soups, and raw zucchini slices filled with cashew cheese. She’s pretty open minded, but some of my more “out there” uncooking–though dear to my heart–is a little hardcore for her. These crowd pleasers are better offerings to make, and Mom, I’ll be happy to make many more.

But you’re still getting massaged kale salad every Christmas eve, Mom. Sorry.

Stay tuned for more staycation 2010, and have a great Friday!

xo

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan @ Healthy Hoggin August 6, 2010 at 12:45 am

Looks like you’ve made some great meals for your mom! Stuffed peppers are one of my favorites! I try making stuff I think my mom will like when I visit, as well– some are winners, some are definitely “out there” for her, too! I have gotten her to enjoy green juice and smoothies, though!

I’m thinking next time, I’ll have her try my raw cheesecake! ;)

Hope you enjoy the rest of your time with your mom! I’m so jealous of those pancakes– you can’t have too many blueberries, if you ask me!

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Ameena August 6, 2010 at 12:52 am

You can come and take over my kitchen anytime Gena…especially if you are making pancakes. They look delicious!

My mom won’t eat much of anything I cook. I can’t really blame her, my food is a bit on the hopeless side.

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Gillian G. August 6, 2010 at 1:10 am

i have most of my neighborhood hooked on kale chips, and people drool over the vegan cookies & cupcakes I’ve made. i really love when people ask me about them and then I explain that they are vegan – i think showing them it tastes good – even great – opens their minds without having to force or preach anything. i actually really enjoy explaining recipes – like, the flax egg replacing a chicken egg. most people i’ve found are impressed and interested.

and your pancakes look wonderful. will have to try that recipe!

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Nola @ The Zetetic Gamin August 6, 2010 at 1:52 am

OMG – THANK YOU for the cheater braised collards!!!! I love my greens, and had some the other day that were sweet & sour, and perfectly happy-making, but was bummed as I have always failed at the sweet part – if I sautee the whole time, they tend to burn, and I’m not into the long cook, either. This method seems perfect – can’t wait to try it!

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Sarah August 6, 2010 at 4:16 am

I love that photo of you that your mum took- it’s cute and funny. And the stuffed peppers recipe is good timing since I’m cooking for the husband and our meat-eating friend this evening and this sounds perfect. Happy staycation!!! xxx

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Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) August 6, 2010 at 4:41 am

Those stuffed peppers look wonderful!

Please come visit me! :lol: You are always welcome when you come bearing bags of greens and other earthly goodness. :D I have frozen bananas… tempting, right? hehe

Jenn

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Melissa August 6, 2010 at 5:02 am

Thanks for the great inspiration-I have convinced my mom to become vegan about six months ago. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and fortunately all of the malign tissue could be removed. Since eating a high raw vegan diet she feels so much better and all of her food allergies have disappeared. Prior she was not able to eat any kind of fruit and only a limited choice of veggies – if she tried she would get signs of suffocation.

Your stuffed peppers is definitely a recipe I´m going to make for her birthday dinner on monday!! Sounds and looks so yummy!

Thanks and have a great friday and weekend!
xoxo Mel

P.S.: I love the pic of you – so cute :)

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mariannes August 6, 2010 at 6:15 am

Nammi nammi! Must make those blueberry pancakes asap!

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Christie {Honoring Health} August 6, 2010 at 6:28 am

What an awesome day of food with your Mom!

Please come stay with me in VA anytime. I will welcome you with flowers AND massaged kale salad.

:D

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) August 6, 2010 at 7:01 am

What an amazing spread of food! The pancakes look phenomenal but I would have put 10x the amt of syrup on mine..I LOVE real maple syrup. I could drink it :)

What a lovely compliment your mom paid you as well about cooking food that SHE would really enjoy. There is nothing better than when we go a bit (or alot) out of our way or really put time/energy/thought/effort into making or doing something special for someone & that gesture is not lost on the person. It makes you feel awesome! On the flip, when you do all that and it is lost on the person, it’s quite a blah feeling…which is why in your case I am so happy it was noticed and appreciated! How awesome.

And those pink flowers…the height of beauty..nothing says this house is a HOME like flowers.. Pink ones no less, nice!

:)

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Priscilla August 6, 2010 at 7:51 am

You and your mother’s “staycation” reminded me of this recent article in the Washington Post about using a week off of work to improve your eating and exercise habits:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/03/AR2010080303263.html

Thanks for the pancake recipe — looks great!

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winterapfel August 6, 2010 at 8:37 am

I will have to try the stuffed peppers on my Mom too – she loves stuffed peppers and your recipe is far more healthy than hers ;) What I always find funny (as Austrian), is what is being called whole grain bread in the US – where I come from this is what ordinary bread looks like. And just one more thing I wanted to mention – do you always use plastic bags? It is so easy to replace them with cotton bags and there is far less waste :)

greets from Austria – Katty

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Gena August 6, 2010 at 8:42 am

Hey Katty!

No, I don’t always use plastic, don’t worry. I shop on weekends with cloth. But I had one at home that I used for transport, and the other two were straight from the market (I had forgotten to bring my cloth bags with me. It happens.).

G

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Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg August 6, 2010 at 8:48 am

Awww, it looks like y’all are having such a fun time together! It makes me miss my mom!

I just made my first raw, vegan “cheeze” sauce a few days ago– it was tasty!

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Lauren August 6, 2010 at 9:00 am

Oh God, why did I come here when I can’t eat!! LOL! I have fasting blood work this morning (which should be outlawed for pregnant women). Now I want pancakes and stuffed peppers..yes, all at once! :) Enjoy the rest of your staycation, love the corn pic, you look so cute! :)

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melissa August 6, 2010 at 9:27 am

everything looks AMAZING!!!!!!!!

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Valerie @ City|Life|Eats August 6, 2010 at 9:30 am

Glad you are having a nice staycation with your mom. Both meals look scrummy. By the time I got to your previous post, other people had already made all the suggestions I had. Enjoy your weekend!

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nelly August 6, 2010 at 9:41 am

beautiful!!!

i am the same way…i take over kitchens…i’m your mama wouldn’t have it any other way!

the stuffed peppers and collard recipe sound divine…i have a so many collard greens to harvest in my garden, i had no idea what to do with them until now. thanks girlie!!!

i wouldn’t have my coffee any other way…”strong enough to burn a hole in your stomach and wake you up quickly”!!!

enjoy the rest of your staycation!!! it sounds so lovely…wish i could join in on the fun!!! and your mama’s kitchen is very beautiful!

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nelly August 6, 2010 at 9:42 am

that should read (the first paragraph)…”i’m sure your mama”…DUH!

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Sara August 6, 2010 at 9:46 am

What a great post! Your mother-daughter staycation warms my heart, since I’m far away from my own mom (but I get to see her in 2 weeks, whooohoo!). I also try to cook “my food” for my parents and although they were reluctant at first they have embraced it and have even changed some of their eating habits. I love all the recipes in your post. Stuffed peppers are a favorite of mine. I never make pancakes but you’ve inspired me to give these a try. Thanks!

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Sarah S. August 6, 2010 at 10:07 am

What a great start to your staycation, food-wise. Hopefully it cools down a bit for you so you can get to the touristy stuff.

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Krissy August 6, 2010 at 10:09 am

I love seeing your more personal posts :) That picture of you is SO adorable :)
Enjoy your staycation! xoxo

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Veronique August 6, 2010 at 10:15 am

These recipes look wonderdul, and your mom’s kitchen is beautiful! I wish I had a kitchen like that (mine is teeny tiny). I must try the blueberry pancakes soon… I tend to screw up my pancakes often, which sucks, but as these have the potential to come out perfect-o, then I shall make them for my boyfriend to impress him 8) haha. Thanks!

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Keri - I Eat Trees August 6, 2010 at 10:19 am

Aww, such a great post! I love cooking for my family members!

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Judy August 6, 2010 at 10:24 am

What a great, uplifting post! I love the photo of your mom’s kitchen – I haven’t a single window in mine, so I am very envious of hers!

It’s great that your mom is open minded to food, even if she’s not into everything that you are. The pancakes look great, and I am on your side – never too many blueberries :)

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Ellen August 6, 2010 at 10:32 am

Totally drooling over the stuffed peppers. Can’t wait to try them!

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Heather (Heather's Dish) August 6, 2010 at 10:47 am

this was seriously a joy to read :) and that picture of you with the corn is so adorable! you totally made my day :)

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JoLynn-dreaminitvegan August 6, 2010 at 10:57 am

Gina, it sounds like you had a nice visit with your mom. Your stuffed peppers turned out really good. I love blueberries too and I recently made some bluberry muffins, added too many bluberries, but I actually liked it like that.

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melissa @ the delicate place August 6, 2010 at 11:21 am

kudos to your mom for trying things! my mom thinks i eat “weird” and i’m not even vegan! i just eat local, fresh foods & meats and avoid processed stuff. growing up i lived on lunchables, hormel reheat meals & pasta by the buckets. i feel so much better now and encourage my family to do the same and drop the garbage but hey…it takes time!

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Molly August 6, 2010 at 11:28 am

Wow, all that food looks great! Though I already do not eat too much meat, it has been hard for me to not eat dairy, so I will have to try that cheesy stuffed pepper dish.

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Ian August 6, 2010 at 11:52 am

Glad you’re trying to have a somewhat restful staycation :) I feel the same way with the “too hardcore for my parents” dishes I have tried in the past. If you add raisins to your collards (or swiss chard and dandelion greens, some of my summer faves) it allows a bit of contrast in texture as well as sweetness. Now I know you don’t like garlic, but some nice sauteed garlic in there as well, minced to a fine paste, is absolutely divine.

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Katheryn August 6, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Your dinner looks divine! I’m definitely making this next week. Even my kids will eat this!

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Diana (Soap & Chocolate) August 6, 2010 at 12:42 pm

“Never invite me over to cook for you. I will take over your kitchen.”

Um, I think that would be glorious, actually. Are you sniffing glue or something?? Silly Gena.

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Hayley August 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I loved this post so much. I am going to make those stuffed peppers as soon as the weather gets cooler. Right now I am avoiding both my oven and stovetop at all costs, so I guess that means it’s time for some raw meals!

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Kari August 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Why is Earth Balance preferred over Smart Balance? Smart Balance light has no animal products and is labeled Vegan. What’s the difference between the two?

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Gena August 8, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Hey Kari,

My mom has the regular SB, which contains whey. And the ingredient list in EB is shorter.

G

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Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete August 6, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Maybe I need to take a hint from you, and start cooking for my family when they come to visit with things that I think they will like while still sticking to my values. People don’t like to be forced to eat a certain way. You are so right!

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Ilana August 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Wait, these are deterrents for inviting you over?? You’re welcome in my kitchen any day – although it’s probably smaller than yours. I even have a French press!!

…okay that’s the end of my desperate plea. Must go cook now. Inspired.

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Rachel August 6, 2010 at 5:49 pm

gah i totally have to make stuffed peppers again

i tried making vegan pancakes once, tasty but undercooked haha, and not fluffy! i want them fluffy but i suppose it’s difficult when you veganize them :(.

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Pure2raw twins August 6, 2010 at 6:14 pm

You are welcome to our kitchen any day and take it over ; ) Both recipes sound amazing…you are a chef/baker!!!!

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BroccoliHut August 6, 2010 at 8:48 pm

I heartily approve of the banana-bloob combo pancakes! I love adding wheat germ to my blueberry pancake recipe, but I bet flax would be awesome too:)

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Ashley August 6, 2010 at 11:36 pm

This was one of my favorite posts of yours, everrr!!! The corn eating photo is amazing :) As well as “I had also forgotten (since I’m a French press snob) how nice it is to make coffee by flipping a switch.” I completely LOVE that kitchen/light photo. I could go on + on but I won’t. I will leave you with this…”next week…eeeeeeeeeee” [yes, I just squealed.]

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Kathleen August 7, 2010 at 8:20 am

Gorgeous food! My parents are be no means vegan, however I relish in the fact that I can now come home to them cooking veggie burgers for each other! While my always evolving eating habits have kind of baffled them since my high school days, they have come around to accept my lifestyle and have grown to love many of the things I eat. Enjoy the rest of your staycation!

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Alisa - Frugal Foodie August 7, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I would never guess from looking at those pancakes that you were deficient in the pancake making field at all! They looks so perfect and hearty.

Love the cheesy idea for the stuffed peppers!

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Christine (The Raw Project) August 7, 2010 at 1:15 pm

What a cute post, the stuffed peppers look wonderful and I’ve gotta try vegan pancakes because It’s been ages since I’ve had them. Lovely post, Gena.

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Earth Mother – In The Raw August 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Darlin’, this fellow French press snob will allow you to invade her kitchen anytime!

Sweet kitchen, Mom. It’s so white. Enjoy your good eats!

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Mimi (Damn the Freshman 15) August 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I loooooove cooking for my parents. Especially introducing them to new foods. When I made my mom raw donut holes for the first time, it was so awesome to see how much she enjoyed them. My dad’s a type I diabetic, so I love making him raw desserts, since the fructose is easier to process for him. Splenda cookies do not compare with Ani Phyo’s raspberry chocolate ganache cake!

Anyway, your mama is a lucky lady to have you as her chef for the weekend!

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bitt August 7, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I tried to post a comment TWICE and it didn’t go through. Hope this works.

I love that you are making your mom yummy vegan food. I think cooked vegan food is more familiar than raw stuff–although I have found my parents love kale salads and raw desserts.

I will have to try that with collards. I’ve been enjoying them steamed lately but it gets a little dull without much seasoning.

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Jackie (Peaces of Earth) August 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Your mom is a lucky lady!! IThose peppers…those pancakes…everything! I love luring people in with cooked vegan food and raw desserts. :) No one has ever complained about a raw dessert. I love cooking collards with vinegar. It really takes the bitterness away if you’re not used to that.

That pic of you with the corn is priceless! Oh and I’m super jealous of that amazing light in the kitchen. I live in a dungeon. You wouldn’t believe where I have to go to get slivers of light for my pictures haha.

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Cammy August 8, 2010 at 4:32 am

Lol @ your corn pic! it’s adorable. it looks like your thinking: “CORN!! oh nom nom nom”

your relationship with your mom sounds really nice.. wish i had it with mine ;\

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Frank Bango August 8, 2010 at 6:49 am

It’s Sunday Morning and I’m making pancakes!!! and if all goes well, stuffed peppers for dinner. Thanks, both dishes look beautiful.

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Michelle (Raw Housewife) August 8, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Yay for moms, (short) breaks from work and pancakes!

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rachael August 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Glad to know I’m not the only one who puts hummus on everything! I swear I get hummus headaches, like most people get caffeine headaches. My mom is a little afraid of my food too, but is often pleasantly surprised when she actually tastes it.

By the way, you are welcome to come over with bags of leavy greans, take over my kitchen and cook for me whenever you’d like. :)

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KRISTEN'S RAW August 9, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Can I just say… that coffee looks fu*king GOOD!!!!!

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Tanya @ Life with the Kummerow August 9, 2010 at 10:32 pm

I love the role-reversal…how you are trying to get your mom to eat healthy food! The stuffed peppers look great. Can’t wait to try them!

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Kiersten August 10, 2010 at 9:56 am

Everything you made for your mom looks great! I’ve had to learn over the years what to cook (and not cook) for my family. It’s tough sometimes because we all have such different food preferences.

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elise August 11, 2010 at 1:40 am

geez, i’m starring one recipe after the next! your mom is one lucky lady. although the fact that she doesnt like ezekiel raises questions. i kid. im going to make this very very soon.

oh and that pic of you eating the corn is adorable. new header on your blog for sure :)

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Rebecca August 27, 2010 at 10:18 am

i’m going to tryout the vegan blueberry pancakes! thank you :) i’ll hopefully make them tomorrow morning or Sunday for brunch!

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Cappacinoo December 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

New to your site and love it. Thank you for all of the healthy alternative recipes. I tried the blueberry pancakes today for my family. Must admit, I was a nervous because we are not vegans but I really want to incorporate vegan eating into our diet. It was delicious! Everyone loved it. The only problem was it was very hard to get out of the pan. I tried it with a caste iron skillet and a metal pan. If I can get past that obstacle I certainly will be making it again.

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