Hi, I'm Brandi! Welcome to The Vegan 8! I started this blog October 2013 and I'll share with you my passion behind it. I love simplicity when it comes to cooking. I like to create recipes that anybody can make, whether you are a novice in the kitchen or an experienced cook. I like to create food that wows anybody's tastebuds, whether they are vegan or not. My favorite thing to do is bake. My passion is truly in creating the most amazing desserts where my creativity really flourishes.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
The recipes on this blog are vegan, oil-free, dairy-free, tofu-free, no added gums, almost all are gluten-free and 8 ingredients or less! I challenge you to find many recipes that are vegan, gluten-free and oil-free all containing just 8 ingredients.
In fact, most gluten-free recipes alone contain 3-5 different flours, which is a bit too much for me. Not here, I try to make things as simple as possible for you. I like easy recipes with few ingredients personally, so that is what I share on my blog.
I previously ran a different blog called "The Healthy Flavor" from June 2012 to October 2013. The Healthy Flavor, for me, was a wonderful expression of my passion with vegan cooking, baking and sharing some delicious food to all of you. I started that blog because I had learned a whole new way of cooking while trying to heal my husband's gout (more on that below). As I blogged throughout that year, I felt a strong urge and passion to change things drastically. Through operating The Healthy Flavor, one thing stood out to me about what appealed to most readers....you want easy and simple recipes. I started doing some blog searching and found that my most popular and repeatedly made recipes were 8 ingredients or less (not necessarily including salt/pepper or water). Concept being, you only will need to purchase 8 ingredients to make each individual recipe. Sometimes I will list an optional ingredient or garnishes for presentation, but these are NOT required to make the recipe.
Therefore, that became my new concept and dedication to my readers! In today's world, most people are going to gravitate towards easy recipes that don't take forever or require 10-20 ingredients. I personally am attracted to recipes that I see and know will be easy. I took a little poll among people and everybody said what attracted them most to actually make a recipe was that it needed to be easy and not too many ingredients. 8 ingredients can be very challenging and add up quickly, especially when you have the added challenge of making the recipe gluten-free and oil-free, in addition to vegan! However, I love to challenge myself.
I will still have all of my original recipes from The Healthy Flavor that I transferred on here (there are a few that have gluten and oil) simply because they are still popular recipes that a lot of my readers love and some may not care if they have more than 8 ingredients. For example, the response to my Banana Molasses Cake has been overwhelming!
However, going forward, all will be 8 or less ingredients. This does not include staple pantry items like salt/pepper or water. Pretty much anybody has those already and won't require an extra trip to the grocery store or make a recipe any more difficult. In fact, you may have several of the ingredients in general, as I'm attempting to make the recipes as easy as possible.
I'm a wife and mother to a wonderful husband and daughter. But before I ended up in this place in my life, I lived a very different one. Before I became a blogger, I traveled many different roads. Right out of high school, I entered into overseas professional modeling, then moved into doing auto loans for many years (what a change!) to then running my own little real estate gig as a full-time realtor and home designer/stager. I still have my license, but my full attention and passion is creating in the kitchen. On the side, my husband and I have a home renovation company where we do house flips. In addition to cooking, I love interior design, painting and sewing, but my greatest love is being in the kitchen. I'm basically a person who loves to create things and express myself through creation. I find immense satisfaction on creating something entirely on my own, as I've always been extremely independent.
When it comes to food though, I didn't always eat healthy. I grew up in Texas, where barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs and tons of cheese, was the norm. I drank tons of milk growing up, all the way into my adult years. I started cooking when I was just a kid from cookbooks my mother had. I remember her letting me plan out a few dinners here and there and cook them myself. My mom's favorite thing in the whole world to do, is cook. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that I became that same way. Although, I never saw it as a "career" or passion or focus that it is now. That all changed because of my husband.
It became a huge part of my life. Not so much because I loved to cook, but because I had to learn to cook a certain way. My husband suffers from gout, a very painful form of severe arthritis. It affects mostly men over the age of 35. Almost always, gout can be controlled through proper nutrition. It's been many years of struggle, living on crutches and tons of research to learn what to avoid. It seemed no matter what my husband ate, he would suffer painful flare ups. The main culprit is high purine foods and many acidic foods, including meats, dairy and even some veggies as well. We decided for the better of his health, a vegan lifestyle was a must. It has been the best decision and has been life changing. Because of having to learn to adapt in the kitchen to better his health (and mine), I fell in love with cooking and creating in a way I never imagined! That is why I started blogging, to share all the amazing, creative food that comes out of my kitchen that is better for you, but still tastes sinful. To read our full story, go here!
To make my recipes, I try to stick to the same flours, so I'm not using a different flour for every single recipe. Since there are so many allergies out there, I will often share many different versions. For example, some recipes I use almond flour in and others I will make nut-free. Some people can't have oats, so some are focused on being oat-free. Basically, I try to create something for everybody. I find that baking is where I excel at and am very creative because I LOVE to bake so much and I love to help others enjoy baked goods and not have to miss out, just because of an allergy. You get the idea. Flours that you should keep stocked in your pantry for my recipes are:
- Blanched Almond Flour: This is separate than almond meal, as the skins are removed and it yields a lighter, more moist result. I recommend the following brands the most: HEB brand (if in Texas) is my favorite, Kroger "Simple Truth" brand, Honeyville or King Arthur brands are good too. I really do not recommend Bob's Red Mill almond flour, as it consistently yields poor results in baking. His flour is not finely ground up well at all, is quite gritty and everything always ends up flat, dense and wet. I have used it on occasion in a few recipes, but I no longer use it. Blanched almond flour is the star ingredient in a ton of my recipes, including my Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cake.
- White Rice Flour: This is just white rice ground into a flour. It yields a neutral flavor to baked goods and a light, fluffy result. It also has great binding qualities. I love this stuff. Check out my Garlic & Chive Dinner Muffins.
- Brown Rice Flour: This is just whole grain brown rice ground into a flour. It yields similar results to white rice flour, but a tad less fluffy and leaves more of an earthy taste. Depending on the recipe, I will recommend white over this one. It's what I use in my most popular cookie recipe, these Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies.
- Potato Starch: This is not the same as potato flour, so make sure to not buy the wrong one. Potato starch is simply the extracted starchy part of a potato that has been dried, whereas potato flour is the entire potato dried and made into a flour, big difference. I never use potato flour, but I use potato starch a lot. It yields a very light, fluffy result to baked gluten-free desserts. Check out my Dreamy Vanilla Cake or my Life Changing Pancakes. I use this starch a lot.
- Tapioca Starch: In this case, tapioca starch and tapioca flour are the same. Both names are used interchangeably. This starch comes from the cassava plant. It also helps to yield light, fluffy results to baked goods, however it becomes very gummy or gelatinous than potato starch if too much is used. It has a bit better binding qualities. I use it a lot in my muffin recipes.
- Oat Flour: This is just simple oats ground into a fine flour. I use organic gluten-free quick cooking oats because they grind finer than the larger oats. Just use your vitamix or a food processor and get them really fine into a flour and keep stored in a container in the pantry. While dedicated gluten-free oats are labeled gluten-free, apparently some people still cannot tolerate oats, so use caution if you are sensitive. I use oat flour in so many recipes, like these World's Easiest Chocolate Chunk Blondies, which happen to be my husband's favorite. He likes these over cake for his birthday!
- Sorghum Flour: While I rarely use this one, I do use it more for seasonal type of recipes, where lots of spices like cinnamon and pumpkin are used. Sorghum is a grain and it leaves a rather strong, almost spice-like flavor, so it needs to be combined with other strong flavors to mask it. It also can make baked goods rather crumbly, so good binding additional ingredients are crucial. It is the perfect flour for my Caramel Crusted Pumpkin Loaf.
- Spelt Flour: This is not a gluten-free flour like all of the above mentioned are. I do not use it in most baked good recipes, since I try to gear towards mostly gluten-free so everybody can make them. However, I do really love spelt for it's nutritional properties, easy digestion and the soft texture it gives to baked goods. I use it to make homemade sandwich bread and also some killer Blueberry Pancakes.
See, that's not bad at all, only 7 flours, for nearly all of my recipes! Some gluten-free blends alone contain that many! And since I use them repeatedly in my recipes, you definitely get your money's worth. Now, occasionally you will see another ingredient used like wheat/all-purpose flour in my much older recipes or listed as subs in a recipe, but that is rare, so I didn't list it in my list of pantry staples here.
Thank you for visiting and stop by as often as you like, follow my blog, share with others and feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts! I'm here always to answer your questions, so you can contact me anytime.