Ever since watching the documentary FForks Over Knives  last year I have actively been conscious of keeping my animal protein intake (both meat and dairy) to a minimum. It’s been quite a revelation for both my mother and myself in terms of the improvements that we have found in our overall well-being. As a result my enthusiasm for raw  and vegan  recipes (which have already been highlighted on the site) has increased as I find ways to adapt local favourites. Many of you have also asked for more gluten-free  versions of traditional recipes, and I want you to know that I am actively working on bringing those to you as well!
For much of this year a stressful workload has meant that my posting time was limited, as was the opportunity to have on hand the kind of healthful choices that I like to have. Old habits and ‘pigging out’ returned and inevitably created a physical backlash. I’m back in the saddle again now though, with renewed enthusiasm. Some of which I’ll be sharing with you This recipe for Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Shiitake Mushroom Gravy was inspired by a listing at Edenfoods.com.  It provides all the comfort elements that one looks for in this dish (without any animal-based fats/proteins).
Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Shiitake Mushroom Gravy
Vegan Mashed Potatoes
3 1/2 lbs. baking potatoes, peeled and cut into one-inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
12 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
nutritional yeast (optional)
1. Boil potatoes, onion, garlic, and salt until potatoes are tender.
2. Drain and mash well.
3. Combine almond milk and vegetable stock.
4. Add to potatoes along with remaining ingredients, mixing until smooth.
5. Add nutritional yeast, to taste, if using.
6. Keep warm.
Sliced Shiitake Mushroom Gravy
Adapted from EdenFoods.com 
2 cups water, including reserved shiitake soaking water
1 cup dried shiitake Mushrooms, soaked 10 minutes in 1 cup hot water
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 T. cold water
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped, scallions, or parsley
1. Pour boiling water over dried mushrooms.
2. Soak 10 minutes.
3. Remove the woody stalks (I use a kitchen scissors).
4. Remove the mushroom heads and thinly slice.
5. Strain mushroom soaking liquid and set aside.
6. Heat up the oil in a skillet (over medium-high) and sauté the garlic and onions for 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Add the shiitake slices and sauté another 2 to 3 minutes.
8. Pour the water, shiitake soaking water into the skillet.
9. Cover and bring to a boil.
10. Reduce the flame to low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.
11. Slowly pour in the dissolved cornstarch, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.
12. Season with soy sauce and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes longer.
13. Turn off the flame and mix in the chives.
ROUND OUT THIS MEAL BY ADDING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING
• Arabian Vegetable Medley (recipe) 
• Fried Eggplant (recipe) 
• 15 Minute Magic Chocolate Amaretti Torte (recipe) 
• Fruit & Nut Cookies (recipe) 
• Iced Lemon Ginger Tea (recipe) 
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