A Search for Great Vegan Food in San Diego

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Vegan Raw Balls

One of my all time favorite cookbooks is Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet.  It is a wonderful vegan resource full of appetizer, breakfast, soup, salad, and dessert recipes.  The recipes are truly unique and always delicious.  My mouth always begins watering when I get to the dessert section of the cookbook.  And the Raw Balls with their chocolately nut base are no exception — they are a rich and decadent treat!

[caption id="attachment_2708" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pair of Vegan Raw Balls Pair of Vegan Raw Balls[/caption]


First, gather up the ingredients for the Raw Balls.  I always enjoy seeing the natural and fresh ingredients laid out on my kitchen counter.  No refined sugar here!


[caption id="attachment_2699" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Raw Balls Ingredients Vegan Raw Balls Ingredients[/caption]


The first step is to grind the walnuts in the food processor.


[caption id="attachment_2700" align="alignnone" width="640"]Almonds in Food Processor Almonds in Food Processor[/caption]


Then add the dates…


[caption id="attachment_2701" align="alignnone" width="640"]Adding Dates to Food Processor Adding Dates to Food Processor[/caption]


And mix together!


[caption id="attachment_2702" align="alignnone" width="640"]Dates and Almonds Mixed Together Dates and Almonds Mixed Together[/caption]


Then add the carob powder and the almond butter to the mixture.


[caption id="attachment_2703" align="alignnone" width="640"]Mixing in Almond Butter and Cacao Powder Mixing in Almond Butter and Cacao Powder[/caption]


Finally, add in the almonds.


[caption id="attachment_2704" align="alignnone" width="640"]Adding in Almonds Adding in Almonds[/caption]


Make sure not to over process the almonds!  These balls taste great when there are small almond chunks mixed in for added texture.


[caption id="attachment_2705" align="alignnone" width="640"]Raw Ball Dough with Almond Chunks Raw Ball Dough with Almond Chunks[/caption]


Next, it’s time to roll the mixture into small balls.  It helps if you wet your hands before trying to do this as the mixture is sticky.  Spread out the coconut flakes on a flat surface and lightly roll the balls until covered in a snowy white layer.


[caption id="attachment_2706" align="alignnone" width="640"]Coating Raw Balls in Coconut Flakes Coating Raw Balls in Coconut Flakes[/caption]


Store the Raw Balls in the freezer, and enjoy!


[caption id="attachment_2707" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pile of Vegan Raw Balls Pile of Vegan Raw Balls[/caption]


Raw Balls
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup pitted dates
  • ½ cup carob powder
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ sea salt
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  1. Process walnuts in food processor until coarsely ground.
  2. Add dates and process until combined.
  3. Add carob powder, syrup, almond butter, vanilla extract, and salt and process until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Add almonds and pulse a few times -- there should still be pieces of almonds mixed in
  5. Form mixture into golf sized balls with hands and roll in shredded coconut.
  6. Place in sealed container and freeze until hardened.


My Favorite Holiday Barley Casserole

What does a vegan make for Thanksgiving?  While there are plenty of festive options, my “go to” recipe is for the Barley Casserole from my “go to” vegan cookbook, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone.



This casserole is hearty, extremely flavorful, and popular with both vegans and non-vegans.  It also tastes equally delicious hot or cold.


[caption id="attachment_1590" align="alignnone" width="640"]Aerial View of Barley Casserole Aerial View of Barley Casserole[/caption]


The first step is to prepare the barley.


[caption id="attachment_1576" align="alignnone" width="640"]Barley Boiling Barley Boiling[/caption]


And strain it!


[caption id="attachment_1577" align="alignnone" width="640"]Barley in Strainer Barley in Strainer[/caption]


Gather the ingredients…


[caption id="attachment_1578" align="alignnone" width="640"]Barley Casserole Ingredients Barley Casserole Ingredients[/caption]


And sauté the garlic and onion.


[caption id="attachment_1579" align="alignnone" width="640"]Sauteed Garlic and Onion Sauteed Garlic and Onion[/caption]


Then add the veggies.

The recipe also calls for shoyu.  What is shoyu and how is it different from soy sauce?  The short answer is that shoyu is natural soy sauce.  Natural soy sauce is made from a combination of soybeans, roasted hard red wheat, sea salt, and water while mass-produced soy sauce is made from chemically produced defatted soybean pulp.  To learn more about the differences between shoyu and soy sauce click on:


When I made this recipe, I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, a soy sauce alternative.  Bragg’s Liquid Aminos is a certified Non-GMO, gluten-free, protein concentrate made from soybeans.  It tastes like soy sauce and can be substituted in any recipe.



The bottom line is that you can use soy sauce, Shoyu, or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos in this recipe and achieve great results!


[caption id="attachment_1580" align="alignnone" width="640"]Veggies for Barley Casserole Veggies for Barley Casserole[/caption]


Add the spices…


[caption id="attachment_1581" align="alignnone" width="640"]Spices for Barley Casserole Spices for Barley Casserole[/caption]


And you’ve completed the barley layer!


[caption id="attachment_1582" align="alignnone" width="640"]Barley Mixture Barley Mixture[/caption]


Next up, is the Tahini Dressing.


[caption id="attachment_1583" align="alignnone" width="640"]Tahini Sauce Ingredients in Food Processor Tahini Sauce Ingredients in Food Processor[/caption]


Blend all of the ingredients in food processor.


[caption id="attachment_1584" align="alignnone" width="640"]Tahini Dressing in Food Processor Tahini Dressing in Food Processor[/caption]


Mix 3/4 cup of Tahini Dressing to the barley mixture.  It’s then time to assemble the casserole!  Start with a layer of barley.


[caption id="attachment_1585" align="alignnone" width="640"]Barley Layer Barley Layer[/caption]


Then add a layer of Tahini Dressing.


[caption id="attachment_1586" align="alignnone" width="640"]Tahini Dressing Layer Tahini Dressing Layer[/caption]


Then add a second layer of barley.


[caption id="attachment_1587" align="alignnone" width="640"]2nd Barley Layer 2nd Barley Layer[/caption]


And a final layer of Tahini Dressing and put the casserole in the oven.


[caption id="attachment_1588" align="alignnone" width="640"]2nd Layer of Tahini Dressing 2nd Layer of Tahini Dressing[/caption]


While baking, mouth watering aromas will fill your home.    And after 35 minutes, the Barley Casserole is done!


[caption id="attachment_1589" align="alignnone" width="640"]Barley Casserole Out of Oven Barley Casserole Out of Oven[/caption]


Dishes like this ensure that I never miss meat.  Dig in and enjoy!


[caption id="attachment_1575" align="alignnone" width="640"]Barley Casserole in Bowl Barley Casserole in Bowl[/caption]



Vegan Barley Casserole
  • Barley Layer
  • 2 cups hulled barley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 5 tablespoons shoyu
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ cup tahini dressing (see below for recipe)
  • Tahini Dressing
  • ¼ small onion, diced
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 1 tablespoon shoyu
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon dried basil or ½ teaspoon fresh basil
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup water
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350
  2. Boil 3 cups of water and add barley.
  3. Cook until tender (about 55-60 minutes)
  4. Add olive oil to saucepan and saute onion and garlic
  5. Add carroty, celery, shoyu, salt, basil, oregano, and garlic powder, until vegetables are tender.
  6. Add barley to vegetable mixture and set aside.
  7. Combine onion, tahini, shoyu, garlic powder, paprika, dried or fresh basil, dried oregano, and water to food processor for tahini dressing
  8. Mix ¾ cup Tahini Dressing to barley mixture
  9. Transfer half of the barley mixture to a 8 x 12 baking dish
  10. Drizzle half of the Tahini Dressing on top of the barley mixture
  11. Add the other half of the barley mixture on top of the tahini layer
  12. Drizzle the other half of the Tahini Dressing on top of the second barley layer
  13. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes