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One of my favorite food memories growing up was fondue night at the Oatmans’.   We’d have a bunch of people over, long tables of fondue pots and reclettes, and a three-course feast.  Far from vegan, our fondue courses featured chunks of steak and chicken cooked in oil, several different cheese fondues (we lived in Wisconsin, enough said!), and a killer chocolate fondue that far exceeds anything served at The Melting Pot.

So due to the the recent release of Artisan Vegan Cheese and my desire to health-ify food from my roots, I’m planning a legendary Thanksgiving weekend vegan cheese fondue feast.  And as you may or may not know, culturing your own vegan cheeses often starts with a healthy probiotic drink they call rejuvelac…

Step 1: Soak your grains overnight. They should be just immersed in water. Here I am soaking quinoa (left) and hard red winter wheat berries (right). Make sure you’re using whole grains and not a processed version. On the top of the jars is a double layer of cheesecloth secured with rubber bands.
Step 2: Drain the grains well and return them to the jars with enough water to just moisten the grains and not immerse them (I did 1/3 to 1/2 the way up from the bottom of the jar). Drain and replace water 1-2 times a day till sprouts appear.

Step 3: When the grains start to sprout, drain again and return to the jars, immersing them with filtered water (6x the amount of water compared to the amount of grains you started with).

Step 4: When the mixture smells tangy (somewhat like lemon juice), after 1-3 days, strain the liquid of the grains and store in jars! 1 cup grains yields 6 cups rejuvelac.

I made this delicious chili a few days ago and man does it go far!  This quinoa cornbread goes amazing with it… it’s moist, savory, and and the quinoa gives it a bit of a nutty flavor that’s really nice.  Both recipes are from Cathy Fisher at StraightUpFood.com.

Both of these recipes are gluten-, oil-, sugar-, and salt-FREE!

A couple modifications and tips:

For the cornbread (click here for recipe)

  • Don’t use the banana unless you want to taste it in your bread.  I subbed out 1/2 cup applesauce (one of those little containers) for the banana and it worked perfectly.
  • I also left out the cinnamon, because I thought that was weird for cornbread.
  • If you want a sweeter cornbread, you are either going to have to add a few more dates to your soaking liquid (discard any additional liquid you use to soak) or use sugar.
  • Use a coffee grinder to grind your whole flaxseeds, oats, and cornmeal.  I just bought this one recently, and I LOVE it!  I put it next to my 13-inch macbook so you could see how compact it is.  Click the photo for an amazon link to purchase it. 

For the chili (click here for the recipe):

  • Use Pomì Tomatoes (pictured above and can be purchased here in bulk on amazon, or in Arizona at Sprouts or Whole Foods).  Then you don’t have to worry about what’s leeching from the cans.
  • Don’t leave out the celery.  In her cooking demonstration at True North, Cathy said that celery gives the impression of saltiness… and it really does work in this chili.  I ALWAYS miss salt when they are left out of soups and stews, but I don’t miss it here.
  • If you like your chili spicy, then add come chipotle chili powder and some cayenne.  I also doubled all the spices she listed.
  • I heard this great tip about beans that I haven’t tried yet… If you want to avoid canned beans, but don’t want to be soaking and cooking dried beans every week, cook them in larger batches, then store in plastic sandwich bags or small jars in 1 1/2 cup portions in the freezer.  Most canned beans equal about 1 1/2 cups, so if a recipe calls for canned beans, you just pull out a bag or jar from the freezer!  I’m so doing this.