Burning Down The House: Allergy-Friendly Vegan Fall Treats

This month J.K. thought about her favorite fall and Thanksgiving foods. All of them contain dairy, and often eggs and wheat, so she decided to find alternative allergy-friendly and vegan ways to make pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and, yes, pumpkin spice lattes.

For her first pumpkin pie alternative, she whipped up pumpkin pudding (i.e., pumpkin pie without the crust) in a mug for each of us, which she heated in the microwave. I found the warm pudding incredibly good, the experience only enhanced by the near instant gratification of the microwave and the made-just-for-you factor of the mug. The first round of these each contained an egg, but later that night J.K. boiled ground flaxseed with water and substituted that instead. I have to admit I preferred the pumpkin pudding with the egg in it, but the vegan version was really tasty, too.

 That night J.K. made a vegan pumpkin pie  with one of the Co-op’s gluten-free crusts. The recipe used full-fat coconut milk but no eggs or egg substitute. I found this pie even more delicious than the usual ones with milk and eggs, and very rich. Though we all really liked this pie, the sad irony was that J.K. immediately got a stomachache from the coconut, and then another stomachache when she had another piece a few days later. (This is not to say that the general public should avoid coconut or this pie, only that maybe she should.)     

Next up was Vegan Roasted-Garlic Mashed Potatoes. J.K. and her younger brother both happen to be mashed potato fanatics, so we weren’t sure how this would go. (J.K. won her first mashed potato eating contest as a second grader, and her brother tirelessly makes huge vats of mashed potatoes for family holidays.)

When he heard about the pending vegan potatoes he said, “That sounds really bad. The reason mashed potatoes are good is because you dump in a ton of cream.” When he tasted them, though, he thought they were “pretty good,” and acknowledged he wouldn’t have known they were made without dairy. Fred and I thought they were as good as regular mashed potatoes with cream, only different.

Lastly, I’m pretty amazed that we could make a respectable vegan pumpkin spice latte at home, without an espresso maker or steamer. (Then again, since none of us except J.K. regularly drinks lattes, the bar may have been set pretty low.) J.K. and I had just been talking about whether pumpkin spice was “a thing” this year, when I headed to the Moscow Farmers Market. There I heard a voice inviting people over a microphone to come sample a Pumpkin Spice Lentil Smoothie.

Jessie Hunter of the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council was making smoothies with cooked pumpkin, cooked lentils, banana, honey, ice cubes, and an array of pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and powdered ginger). She noted that the lentils add protein and should be fully cooked to avoid crunchiness. (Residents of the Palouse already know to take pride and never be surprised when lentils are added to anything, right?) The version I sampled contained vanilla yogurt and skim milk, but when I left, Jessie had a long line in front of her booth and was making a version with apple cider.

Until the moment I saw Jessie actually adding cooked pumpkin to her blender, I had assumed that the pumpkin spice in pumpkin spice lattes was simply coming from some sort of fake-o flavoring, but how wrong I was. Back home, J.K. made Kathy’s Real Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte. She heated regular coffee in a small pot with the other base ingredients, just like in pioneer days, while I tried to coax the soy milk and pumpkin puree into a semblance of foaminess using our immersion blender.

We got really excited when foaminess indeed ensued, and I was reminded of a job I had many years ago making espresso at a vegetarian café in Seattle, back when—I swear—there was only one Starbucks.

We (being only lay-baristas) found the results “really pretty” and really good. And best of all, “it tastes like PSL!” J.K. exclaimed. (Psst for the uninitiated—that’s pumpkin spice latte.)

Her brother also liked it, and even Fred surprised us by really liking it as well. “It’s like something you’d get at a latte stand,” he said. (Translation: “fattening,” though I don’t think it was.) This version was made with soy milk, since J.K. had found that almond milk and coconut milk don’t work well in lattes, but I read online that hemp milk, which is sold at the Co-op, is another viable choice.

J.K. headed off to school with her soy pumpkin spice latte in hand. This was the obvious cue for Ollie, our bearded dragon, to make a snarky complaint about not being part of the taste test. Rather than hinting, however, and still decked out in her Halloween costume (a small top hat and pair of dragon wings), Ollie turned to me and said, “Hand me the rest of your latte, would you?”

Super Cute Pumpkin Pudding in a Mug

  • 1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin
  • 1 egg or 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground clove)

1. If you’re making it vegan, boil the ground flaxseed and water and simmer for about one to five minutes, or until thick. Be careful, as it can cook very fast! Let it cool.

2. Stir together all of the ingredients in a microwave-safe mug. Combine thoroughly.

3. Microwave for two minutes, or until the top is dry. (In our microwave, it took 3-1/2 minutes.)

4. Top with dairy-free whipped cream, chocolate syrup, coconut shavings, or nothing at all!