Gluten-Free, Vegan Bûche de Noël

Bad to the Bone

By Tracy Turi


Americans love diets just as much as they love junk food, which often turns us all into lustful, ravenous beasts. There’s a great scene in the movie This Is The End, when Seth Rogen is  driving away from the airport with a friend, whose big plan is to hit the fast food over at Carl Jr.’s.  Seth is demurring because he’s on a cleanse diet and can’t eat gluten. They banter back and forth about cleansing and the definition of gluten until, exasperated, Seth proclaims that gluten is a broad term, “…to categorize things that are bad. Calories are a gluten, fat’s a gluten. Gluten’s bad shit, man, and I’m not eating it.” Alcohol and weed habit aside (“I’m on a cleanse, man, I’m not psychotic!”), he’s committed to this particular diet because experts have convinced him that the body needs “six shits a day.” Cut away to the next scene and, no longer able to keep his promise to himself or suppress his urges, we see him crouched over in the driver’s seat, mouth open in orgasmic ecstasy, moaning loudly over his charbroiled burger meal. This scene characterizes the wacky feeding loop that most of us get ensnared in throughout the year, particularly before and after the holidays. Americans’ love affair with junk food is cultivated by our ‘time is money’ mentality (thank you Ben Franklin!), a love of novelty, and enough disposable income to indulge in convenience foods. It also parallels our self-flagellating devotion to diets. In other countries the word ‘diet’ is often linked more to health. In the U.S. the word has tended to be more weight-focused, typically offering a salvation of sorts, often under the supervision (or scrutiny) of some obligatory proselytizer guiding us down the path of righteousness, countenancing us to submit wholly to bodily abstinence. That is until we pull into a Carl Jr’s and pull a Seth Rogen. Tack on the recent lifestyle diets and diets as a political statement, which is a tremendous opportunity for both our own health and also the welfare of the planet . . .  it can be a bit stressful at the holidays. Fifteen years ago I was flabbergasted when a local family elaborated on their family’s Thanksgiving meal preparations. One son was a vegetarian, the other a vegan. Mom was gluten-free and dad loved a traditional holiday meal, as long as it was organic and kosher. Fast forward to today and family meals like this are the norm rather than the exception. The Intersection of Healthy and Indulgent Hopefully this marks a shift in sensibility, not just in what we eat but also how we prepare foods at home on a daily basis.  A lot of people, especially Millennials, are adopting a kind of ingredient-focused, mise en place approach, stocking their refrigerators with stacks of pre-cooked ingredients. After all, it’s just as easy to come home from the grocery store, get the box of quinoa cooking while roasting a head of cauliflower and a few whole sweet potatoes ahead of time. On any given night throughout the week, composed grain bowls and salads or a simple stir fry can be whipped up in minutes. And that includes baked treats, like this  gluten-free, vegan double chocolate cake. It‘s a snap to make because it utilizes numerous plant-based ingredients that pile up in my fridge every week. The dry ingredients can be quickly measured out and stored in an airtight container until needed. It can be made into a holiday Bûche de Noël (or baked in two 9-inch round cake pans for a double chocolate layer cake) and makes a great addition to a dessert table already laden with holiday pies and cookies. Instead of pounding tons of random holiday snacks and treats, much of it junk, why not enjoy one small piece of something rich and decadent that’s also chock full of plant-based nutrients. Benjamin Disraeli said it best when he wrote “There’s moderation even in excess.”  This cake will make you feel like you’re indulging yourself without the aftershock of the typical fat-salt-sugar bomb.



Gluten-Free Vegan Double Chocolate Cake

Vegan Meringue Mushrooms


Tracy Turi, is a trained chef, recipe developer and culinary trend watcher. She has a Masters in Education and has taught nutrition and culinary skills to area children since the 1990s. She is also an avid home cook and a mother to four children. She lives in Monmouth County, NJ.