This Independence Day we celebrated free of animal products. No parade, no fireworks and no family gatherings. For this Indpendence Day spent at home, we put together a holiday meal reminiscent of those shared with family and friends in years gone by.

I got a big boost of help from Sweet Potato Soul! Jenné Claiborne’s cookbook by that name is packed with great easy vegan recipes. Her website is one I go to often for ideas. Even though her recipes are not gluten free, there are very few that rely on gluten. Most are whole, wholesome and delicious. All are independent of animal products. My recent blog post relied heavily on her history about veganism in the Southern African American community

I used what we had on hand. The CSA box Friday included a Savoy cabbage, radishes, parsley and portobello mushrooms. The parsley in the garden was going to seed, so I had ordered some for the first time this year and had a big bunch. A batch of chickpeas I had recently cooked needed to be used. We had several potatoes, a sweet potato and a purple onion left from a previous order.

“What says “Fourth of July” to you?” I asked my spouse.

“Getting together with people, the parade and fireworks,” was the reply I knew I would get.

“What about food? I know we can’t get together with others but if we were, what would we eat that you remember from previous years or childhood?”

“Barbecue potato chips, potato salad, burgers, but we don’t eat meat anymore.”

“How about baked beans?”
“Oooo, Yes! I loved baked beans.”

Sweet Potato Soul to the Rescue

Turning to Sweet Potato Soul for inspiration, I found almost everything I needed. “Hickory BAKED BEANS,” “Potato Salad,” “Quick Pickled Onions,” and “Sweet Potato Burgers.” Coleslaw with the Savoy cabbage made a complete meal. The recipe for “Rainbow Root Slaw” gave me enough guidance. I used Savoy instead of purple cabbage, and radishes instead of beets. Since we don’t use peppers in our house, I had pulled the remaining beets from the garden to use in place of peppers in the burger. While I got started, someone hastened to the local market for barbecue potato chips, an item we don’t dare keep at home.

Before the annual noise from nearby neighbors’ festivities started, we took our feast to the front deck. There we enjoyed our meal, independent of any animal products, and greeted dog-walkers passing by.

We even had enough left over for a Sunday picnic lunch in the backyard. Peace, quiet and a delicious reminder of how precious our freedoms are.

Leftover Lunch, slaw, potato salad, chips and a mushroom cheezburger reprise.
Backyard non-barbecue, sweetpotato burger with mushroom bacon,
slaw, potato salad, barbecue chips and a cherry chocolate smoothie.

Crispy Portobello Mushroom “Bacon”

This recipe from Author Minimalist Baker has become mainstay with waffles or for BLT’s, or salad topping, or just plain nibbling on.

PREP TIME 15 minutes COOK TIME 30 minutes TOTAL TIME 45 minutes


  • 2 medium portobello mushrooms, stems removed + sliced into 1/8th inch-wide strips (or sub comparable amount of other mushrooms, such as shiitake)


  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 ¼ Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 ¼ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 ½ Tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari, but start with half, work up as it’s saltier)
  • 1 heaping tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste (since w don’t have liquid smoke, I used alder smoked salt and a dash of Ume Plum Vinegar)
  • 1 dash liquid smoke (ensure gluten-free friendly as needed) (or see above)
  • 1 rounded tsp chickpea (or soy) miso paste
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper, plus more (or less) to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set an oven-safe baking/cooling rack on top for crispiness (if you don’t have a cooling / baking rack, just omit — it helps the “bacon” get crispier but isn’t necessary).
  • Prepare marinade by adding avocado oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos, paprika, salt, liquid smoke, miso paste, and black pepper to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Taste and adjust flavor. Add more smoked salt or paprika for smoky, spicy, vinegar for acidity, maple syrup for sweet, or salt to taste.
  • Once marinade is seasoned to your liking, add sliced mushrooms to bowl and gently stir to coat. I use my hands to coat mushrooms more carefully and thoroughly.
  • Lay mushrooms on the oven-safe baking/cooling rack set over parchment-lined baking sheet (or directly on the parchment paper) in an even layer. Make sure mushrooms touch as little as possible.
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes in top third of the oven, or until darker golden brown in color and fragrant. How long you bake them depends on how crispy you like your “bacon.” Check at the 15-minute mark and every 5 minutes thereafter to check for doneness.
  • Remove from oven, peel off of cooling rack. Enjoy immediately with your favorite breakfast items, such as roasted sweet potatoes or in a scramble. Would also be delicious in vegan/vegetarian BLT sandwiches, wraps, or salads!
  • Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days (if they last that long without being eaten!). Reheat in toaster or on stovetop until warm. Not freezer friendly.
mushrooms and marinade
Mushrooms marinated laid on rack to bake
Baked mushroom "bacon"
Mushroom “bacon” strips


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