Sunday, November 19, 2017

Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Red Pepper Alfredo

Tonight's recipe is our new favorite thing to do with a spaghetti squash. It technically serves 2 as a full meal (a HUGE meal), but could easily become a side dish if split into smaller portions. It's rich and flavorful and easy. It's not particularly photogenic, but it's really, really good.  It takes about an hour to make, but most of that time is just waiting for the squash to cook, so it's not very labor intensive.

1 spaghetti squash
1 TBS olive oil, plus enough to brush the squash's inner surfaces
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 TBS nutritional yeast
1 TBS lemon juice
1 cup of cashews (if you don't have a high powered blender, boil these for 10 minutes, then drain before using)
1.5 cups of unsweetened coconut beverage ( I use this one which is 45 calories/cup and imparts no coconut flavor)
1 TBS corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
dash of dried basil

First, slice your spaghetti squash in half (this is hard, but worth it), remove the seeds and stringy bits, then brush all of the inner surfaces with olive oil and place face down on a cookie sheet. I like to put parchment paper down first to keep it from sticking and to make clean up easy.

Bake at 375 for about an hour, flipping it over at 45 minutes. It's done when you glide a fork along the flesh of the squash and it easily makes "noodles" for you.

Once you flip the squash, it's time to make your sauce. Get a large pan and cook the onions and peppers in 1 TBS olive oil until the onion is lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Then add in the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the contents of the pan and all of the ingredients (except the squash and the basil) to the blender. Blend on high until very smooth and creamy. If it's at all gritty, keep blending! This should be silky smooth.

Add the sauce back to the pan and cook over medium heat while stirring constantly until it thickens.

Remove the squash from the oven and gently coax out the "noodles" by scraping the squash long-ways with a fork.  Pour sauce over each half and sprinkle with basil (I used dried basil, but I'm sure fresh would be delightful).

If you eat half of the squash and half of the whole batch of sauce, it's 581 calories - the other stats are too hard to calculate now that the old site I used to use for that is dead. RIP Calorie Counter. :(

Monday, January 2, 2017

Apple Pie Oatmeal

I've often mixed apples and cinnamon into oatmeal to give it flavor. However, the flavor is usually pretty mild and I always want to add too much sugar to make up for it. This recipe is a huge improvement on the old way.

3 cups water
1.5 cups rolled oats (not instant or steel cut - these are the 5-minute oats)

Topping:3 small to medium apples peeled and chopped (I use gala)
3/4 cup water
1.5 tsp apple pie spice
pinch salt
1 TBS  unpacked brown sugar
1 TBS corn starch
1.5 TBS pecan pieces (optional)
6 TBS Coco Whip (optional)

Peel and chop your apples, then place in a saucepan over medium-high heat with the water and apple pie spice for about 7 minutes, until apples soften nicely.

Bring another pot with the 3 cups of water to a boil at this point, and cook the oats in that pan for 5 minutes.

Back to the pot of apples, add in the sugar and salt and mix the corn starch in a separate container with the smallest amount of water you can until you get something you can pour (no clumps), then drizzle it into the apple pot slowly, while stirring. Keep cooking until the sauce gels up and the apples are tender.

Portion the oats and the topping into 3 bowls, then serve each bowl with a half TBS of pecan pieces and 2 TBS of Coco Whip (or other non-dairy whipped cream, but Coco Whip is really good). It's so rich, feels like a tasty dessert, and sticks with you for hours and hours.

Calories: 296
Fat: 7.2 g (11%)
Carbs: 56.2 g (19%)
Fiber: 9.3 g (37%)
Protein: 5.4 g
Vitamin C: 55%
Calcium 1%
Iron: 72%

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Turkish Stewed Green Beans and Bulgur Pilaf

I haven't really cooked with bulgur, but I see it in my future more because it's a quick-cooking and satisfying grain. This recipe combo is flavorful and the recipes are both simple, so this will probably wind up on regular rotation. It's a good bet for a night when you have a bit more time to spare. I rated it a 5 and Aaron gave it a 4.5. Emma won't touch it because of the tomatoes, but one day when she comes to the dark side, I bet she will like it!

 I used the green bean recipe here: Turkish Stewed Green Beans- the only change I made was to leave out the basmati. One helpful note: 500g of green beans is just over a pound and you absolutely must use fresh beans! I did use a can of  petite diced tomatoes instead of fresh, and that seemed just fine. Another note - 1/4 cup is a great deal of oil for this recipe. I'm not sure how critical it was in developing the delicious end result, but next time I make it, I will reduce it by 1/4 or 1/2 and report back!

In place of the basmati, I found this Turkish side: Turkish Bulgur Pilaf

My tweaks here were also limited: I used a Hungarian hot wax pepper instead of a banana pepper, I used 2 firm roma tomatoes, used olive oil for the fat, and I used 2 cups of water plus an un-chicken bouillon cube instead of the chicken broth. I opted for scant 1/2 tsp of salt, which seemed about right.  I could probably safely reduce the fat here by 1/2 as well. Hungarian hot wax peppers are not very spicy as far as spicy peppers go, but they add just a tiny bit of kick. If you do not like any spice, just use the banana peppers, which are in line with your average bell pepper in terms of heat.

It's important to note that the bulgur takes only about 15 minutes and the beans take about an hour, so start the beans, then prep your bulgur ingredients while the beans are cooking down, then get the bulgur on the stove when you're about 40-45 minutes into the bean-making process. This will get everything on the table at once with no over or under-cooking!

Nutrition (for 1/4 of the beans and 1/4 of the pilaf)

Calories: 439
Carbs: 57 g (28%)
Protein: 9.6 g (13%)
Fat: 21g (50% - this is why I want to reduce the fat in the recipes!)
Fiber: 13.9g (40%)
Vitamin A: 31%
Vitamin C: 47%
Calcium: 12%
Iron: 14%

Thursday, January 14, 2016

French and Beluga Lentil Soup

I had a half cup of French lentils and wanted to make a warming soup to help get the chill out of my bones on this cold, cold day! I decided that it would make sense to use more lentils to make it more satisfying, so I added some beluga lentils (aka black lentils) since they have about the same cook time. You can just use a whole cup of one of them and it should be fine. If you don't have either, type, be aware that the texture of other lentils is very different and will change the soup a lot! These lentils stay a little bit firm, and I like that.

I really enjoyed this! If you're not a cabbage person, you could substitute a cup of chopped celery or green beans, but the cabbage is really lovely here.

4 TBS olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic
2 cups of sliced carrots
1 cup of chopped cabbage
1/2 cup French lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup beluga lentils, rinsed
4 cups of water
1 bouillon cube (I used Edward & Sons Not Chick'n)
4 TBS tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp Parisien Bonnes Herbes (this is a blend of chives, dill, basil, tarragon, chervil, and white pepper - if you don't have it, you could do 1/4-1/2 tsp of each of the things on the list that you DO have)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper


In a pressure cooker: warm the oil on the brown setting and add the onion. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic, carrots, and cabbage. Stir for another 5 minutes and add in the rest of the ingredients. Mix them well, put on the lid, and cook on high pressure for 14 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for about 15 minutes and serve with French bread.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, it'll take about 1-1.5 hours to get the lentils soft enough, but the steps would otherwise be the same. You'll also need to stir occasionally to prevent things from sticking and you may need to add additional water because it will evaporate as you're cooking. It should be a little bit brothy, like in the picture. 

Nutrition per cup (makes 8 cups)

Calories: 204
Fat: 8.1 g
Carbs: 25.4 g (8%)
Protein: 8.2 g (11%)
Fiber: 30%
Sugars: 5.6 g
Vitamin A: 104%
Vitamin C: 20%
Calcium: 3%
Iron: 4%

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Merlot Unchicken

This is a spin on chicken Marsala for people like me who don't really keep Marsala wine on hand. The sauce turned out SO good! I served it atop a Gardein Scallopini and a serving of cavatappi noodles. I made simple garlic butter brussels sprouts as a side vegetable, and it was a great combination.

1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS margarine
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
12 ounces of button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
1 cup of water
1 un-chicken bouillon cube (I use Edward & Sons)
1/2 cup Merlot wine (or whatever red wine you have on hand)
 1 TBS tomato paste
.5 tsp dried thyme
.5 tsp cracked black pepper
1.5 TBS cornstarch whisked into 2 TBS water

Heat the oil and margarine until the margarine melts, then add the onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes, until the mushrooms have released their juices. Set this mixture aside in a bowl and add the water, bouillon cube, Merlot, tomato paste, thyme, and pepper to the pan. Cook that for a minute, then add the cornstarch and whisk until is boils (if you don't keep whisking, it'll thicken into clumps, which you do not want). Add in the mushroom-onion mix and let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring as needed until the flavors all come together.

Nutrition (for 1/4 of the recipe)

Calories: 132
Protein: 2.6 g
Carbs: 7.6 g
Fat: 7.9 g
Fiber: 1.5 g
Sugars: 3.4 g
Vitamin A: 1%
Vitamin C: 5%
Calcium: 3%
Iron: 3%

Nutrition for the meal
1/4 of the sauce, 1 serving of cavatappi, 3/4 cup of brussels sprouts with garlic powder and 1/4 TBS of margarine, and 1 Gardein Chick'n Scallopini

Calories: 522
Fat: 17.8 g
Protein 23 g
Carbs: 63 g
Fiber: 1.5 g
Sugars: 8.8 g
Vitamin A: 20%
Vitamin C: 133%
Calcium: 8%
Iron: 27%

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Fresh Bagels

Homemade bagels are SO GOOD. They're also pretty easy, albeit time-consuming.

4 cups bread flour
1 TBS sugar
1.5 tsp salt
1 TBS vegetable oil
2 tsp instant yeast
1.25-1.5 cups of warm water
Toppings! (I like kosher salt, caraway, dried onion bits, dried garlic flakes, and poppy seeds)

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl. I put it directly into my mixer's bowl to save time. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, you should use it.

Use the dough hook for 10 minutes (or knead on a floured counter for 10 minutes) until smooth and uniform.

Split the dough into 8 equal sized balls, and let them rest in the bowl for 10-20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425.

Poke a hole through the middle of each dough ball and work until it looks twice as big as you want it - it'll close up. You could also roll it out into a long snake, then press the ends together, but honestly it's easier to poke a hole in the middle and stretch it out. I did it both ways and the ones I poked holes in turned out better looking (in the picture above, the nice round everything bagels on the left are the ones I poked holes in. The uneven-looking ones are my attempt at making a snake and pinching the ends).

Let your bagels rest in a warm place (I did it on top of the preheating oven) for about 20 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and grease a large cookie sheet.

Your bagels should have puffed up by now (you can tell because the holes close up a bit). If so, it's time to boil them.

Add two at a time to your pot, boil for a minute, turn over, and boil for another minute, then take out with a slotted spatula.

If you're topping them, now's the time to do that. You can get a plate set up with the toppings and just plop the bagel onto it or you can sprinkle - whatever suits you better. I started with the plop method, but then the salt all melted, so I started sprinkling.

Place the bagels on the baking tray, bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for 10 more.

Let them cool for 10-20 minutes if you can resist.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mushroom Barley Soup

Even though it was a wonderfully warm December day today (61 degrees on 12/13 in MICHIGAN!), I still wanted to make the soup I'd been planning to make while the mushrooms were still nice and fresh. Aaron and I love this soup; it's thick and filling while remaining healthy and low cal!

It's a pressure cooker recipe, so it's easy and on the table quickly. If you don't have a pressure cooker, the parts that call for using the browning feature can be replaced by medium-high heat. The 11 minutes at high pressure should be replaced by 45-55 minutes at medium heat, stirring frequently, until the barley is tender.

1 TBS margarine (or olive oil)
1 onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin circles (should measure about 1 cup)
16 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced finely
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp dill
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup merlot (optional)
3/4 cup pearl barley
6 cups vegetarian broth (I used 6 cups of water and 3 cubes of Not-Beef broth)

3 TBS cornstarch

Using the browning setting of your pressure cooker, melt the margarine and add in the onion, celery, and carrots, cooking for about 5 minutes while stirring occasionally. I used this time to wash and chop up my mushrooms, which I then add to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Add in the garlic, thyme, dill, paprika, pepper, and merlot (if using), barley, and broth. Close the lid and cook at high pressure for 11 minutes. Use a natural release.

I like to throw together some simple biscuits at this point so they are coming out of the oven right around when the soup is done.

Once the pressure cooker's lid is open, turn the browning feature back on and steal about 1/4 cup of the broth and put it in a small bowl, then slowly whisk in the 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. It should form a thick (but smooth) sauce. Add that mix back into the soup and allow it to come to a boil (about 1 minute) while stirring. Once it thickens, it's ready!

Serve with biscuits!

Nutrition (per 2-cup serving, makes about 8 cups):

Calories: 248
Carbs: 45g (22%)
Protein: 7.4 g (10%)
Fat: 3.4g (8%)
Fiber: 9.5g (27%)
Vitamin A: 103%
Vitamin C: 7%
Calcium: 8%
Iron: 11%

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Perfect Cornbread

Cornbread is great to make with chili, soups, or stews, especially if you've been making biscuits too frequently, as I have been doing lately! This cornbread is moist and slightly sweet. I had it with soup, as a snack, and for breakfast, and it's still lovely. It's good with a dollop of margarine, but it really doesn't need it! Aaron and I thought it was perfect, Emma wanted it to be a little sweeter.

Side-view of muffin interior - there's nothing dry about this muffin!

3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 4 TBS water (OR 2 TBS ground flax meal mixed with 6 TBS water) and set aside
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS flavorless oil (I used canola)
1/2 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup plain soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 cup creamed corn

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with 12 liners.
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in all of the rest of the ingredients, and stir until just mixed. Fill the muffin cups to about 3/4 full (depending on size of cups - just use all of your batter among the 12). Bake for 15-20 minutes and serve.

Nutrition (per muffin):

Calories: 94
Fat: 2.8
Carbs: 15.9 g.
Fiber: 2 g.
Sugars: 3.6 g.
Protein: 2 g.
Vitamin C: 1%
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 3%

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dad's Potatoes

To say that my dad didn't cook much is an understatement - when I'd see him on Sundays, we nearly always went out to eat if we weren't joining family for dinner. Once in a rare while, we'd go to his home - a total bachelor pad - and he'd cook. He had a few recipes I loved and these potatoes were always at the top of the list (along with his homemade holiday noodles and mac & cheese). They're especially good for a post-party breakfast with a simple tofu scramble, but honestly they're good at any meal!

~1 pound of potatoes (red skin or Yukon golds are best here) sliced thinly- I use a mandoline to make life easier.
3 TBS Earth Balance or other margarine
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp garlic 

Put the potato slices on a plate and microwave them for a minute. This helps them cook faster in the pan. If you don't have a microwave or just don't like using them, you can skip this step and cook longer on the stovetop.

Melt the margarine in a large pan over medium heat, then add the potato slices. Coat the slices with the melted margarine. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover, then stir and flip the potato slices to help them cook evenly. Continue cooking uncovered for about 10 minutes, then add the seasonings and keep going until soft and browned to your liking - it was about 5 more minutes for me, but this varies based on potato type and thinness. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Spanish Rice & "Beef"

I adapted this from one of my totally-falling-apart Betty Crocker cookbooks. We give it about a 4 out of 5, and it's one of those dinners that comes together very quickly, which is always nice for a busy night.

2 TBS olive oil
1 cup uncooked long grain rice (I used jasmine)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, diced finely
2.5 cups of water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 pinch saffron
1 cup of tomato sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the rice, onion, and pepper, and cook for about 5 minues, stirring frequently, until rice is golden and onion has softened. Stir in everything else, and heat until it boils, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the rice is soft. While that's happening, take a package of Gardein Beefless Tips and cook per the package directions. Once cooked, dice the Beefless Tips. In the final 5 minutes of cooking the rice, stir the diced pieces in, then serve. 

Nutrition (for 1/3 of the pan - a very satisfying serving size):

Calories: 499
Fat: 14.8 g
Carbs: 67.2 g
Fiber: 5.5 g
Sugars: 4.1 g
Protein: 22.6 g (31%)
Vitamin A: 40%
Vitamin C: 119%
Calcium: 5%
Iron: 76%

Monday, September 7, 2015

Homemade Ravioli With Pesto

My boyfriend recently decided to take the plunge and go from vegetarian to vegan last month, which is really exciting! One thing he's always loved is pesto, which is often not vegan, so I decided to veganize that. After I made a little batch of it, I thought it'd be fun to make homemade ravioli. Do not start this process unless you have a lot of time. It's a labor of love!

If you can enlist help, DO! My daughter started helping me with the noodles and it made it go by so much faster! She'd put the dough balls in, get the sheets nice and thin, and make the circles and I'd fill, pinch, and crimp. There are three recipes here, but this is so flipping good, you will not regret the time spent. I promise!! You could also skip one or more of the recipes. For example, you could make the pasta into linguine and toss with pesto or top with red sauce and the filling.

Filling the ravioli
A sheet of ravioli

Emma did not want pesto, so her ravioli were
 tossed in Earth Balance and nutritional yeast.
You could really eat them with any topping. Or none.
Mmmmm pesto-topped pillows of filled pasta

The Pesto

This doesn't actually make much. In fact, it makes about 6 tablespoons when all is said and done, and that's not very much. I would recommend doubling it, but I was feeling lazy and didn't feel like washing and drying more basil. Yes, too lazy to deal with a second cup of basil, but not too lazy for homemade pasta. I don't get me either.

1/2 TBS lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup washed and dried fresh basil leaves (packed)
3 TBS pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic
1.5 TBS nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp salt

Put this all into a high-powered blender (in the order listed) or a food processor until mixed and somewhat smooth. You want it to be a bit gritty. Scrape it all out into a container and stick it in the fridge.

The pasta

I am so thankful for my Kitchen Aid's pasta attachment. I don't think I could have done this without it! 

2 cups semolina flour
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water

Prep your mixer with the dough hook. Mix the flours and salt in the bowl of the mixer.Add the water a little bit at a time until a nice, smooth dough forms, using the lowest speed setting and scraping down the sides as needed. You may need a little more or less, depending on your ambient humidity. Let the mixer knead the dough for 7 minutes. Break the dough into 10 equal pieces, cover in plastic wrap, and set aside for at least 20 minutes to rest. While that's happening, you can make the filling!

The Filling

This filling is delicious in stuffed shells as well! It's rich, creamy, and flavorful. My daughter was eating it straight out of the bowl. You may wish to double this to make close to 100 ravioli or leave it as is and make about 50. It's up to you!

3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 package of extra firm tofu, drained (standard 14 oz package)
1 TBS garlic powder (yes, tablespoon)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp lemon juice
1 TBS olive oil

In a small saucepan, boil 3/4 cup water and add 1/2 cup cashews to the pan, cooking for a few minutes until cashews are softened. Add the cashews (and none of the soaking water) to a high-powered blender or a food processor, then crumble in the tofu and add the rest of the ingredients. Blend until completely smooth, scrape out of the blender (this is the worst part because this stuff is thick!) and then put into a bowl and set aside. Try not to eat it; you'll need it all for the ravioli!

The long part

Once you have the filling together and the pasta dough has rested, it's time to put it all together! Get a few sheets of parchment and line some baking pans to make this part easier.

 If you have the Kitchen Aid pasta attachment I have, you'll use the one that makes sheets. Grab one of your pieces and put it through on setting 1 - the thickest setting. Then run it through on 4. Finally, run it through on 6. 

My glass was about 3 inches in diameter
and I think that was the perfect size.
You could use a cookie cutter or ravioli
maker if you're fancy like that.
You should have a long, thin sheet of pasta. Place the sheet on the baking pan. Take a glass that seems like a good size for ravioli and cut out circles. In the center of the circle, place 1/2 TBS filling and then pinch the sides shut. After you pinch them, take a fork and crimp them all around, to be sure your filling stays put. You'll wind up with scraps of pasta. Take those and run them through again and again until everything is used up. No need to waste! 

If you're like me and you did not double the filling, you will find that you cannot use all of the dough for ravioli because you do not have enough filling. I recommend popping on the linguine attachment and making noodles because they're really good!

I wound up with 50 ravioli - that's 100 circles cut out of dough, plus an accidental sad loss of two of the dough bits and two more dough bits turned into noodles. 

If you won't use them all, stick the ones you want to save on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put that in the freezer for an hour. You can then add it to a freezer bag or container and freeze until you're ready to use. You'll cook for 4-5 minutes when ready to use.

The easy part

Get a big pot, fill it with water, and bring it to a boil. Add salt, maybe 1 tsp or so? Pop the ravioli in about 8-10 at a time, trying to keep them from sticking together (they really don't unless you crowd them) and cook for 3-4 minutes. They'll float when they're done. Toss each 8-ravioli serving in 2 TBS pesto, then serve. 


For 8 ravioli (without sauce)

Calories: 408
Carbs: 59 g (29%)
Protein: 18.7 g (25%)
Fat: 11.7 g 
Fiber: 3.6 g
Sugars: 2.5 g 
Vitamin A: 53 IU 
Vitamin C: 1 mg
Calcium: 58 mg
Iron: 4.3 mg 

For 1/6 of the pesto (about 2 TBS)
Calories: 230
Carbs: 2.8 g (1%)
Protein: 2.4g (3%)
Fat: 25 g 
Fiber: 1 g
Sugars: .4 g
Vitamin A: 425 IU
Vitamin C: 2.1 mg
Calcium: 19.2 mg
Iron: .8 mg

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Potato & Bean Soup

Emma brought home some fresh potatoes from her grandparents' house, so I wanted to incorporate those into dinner. The original plan had been black bean soup, but I decided to go with something a little more delicate to highlight the freshness of the potatoes.

Emma thought it was great, but that the beans didn't match. Aaron really loved the beans (which is rare, he is typically pretty lukewarm about beans). I loved it, but I haven't met a bean or a potato I didn't like, so that was easy. :)

It would be cool if food looked as good as it tasted,
but that's not always the case. See above!

1 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 clove garlic
1 tsp dried dill weed
3 cups potatoes, peeled & diced
3 cups collard greens, sliced
2 un-chicken bouillon cubes
5 cups water
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 TBS flour mixed with 1/2 cup vegan sour cream (cashew cream would work here too, I'm sure)


Warm the olive oil over medium heat, then add in the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in the carrot and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, until the carrot is soft. Toss in the dill, potatoes, greens, bouillon and water and cook (covered) for 40 minutes.

Once the potato is at the stage where you could obliterate it with the back of a spoon, take an immersion blender and blend briefly - you want to have a thick and creamy base, but you also want to leave some texture. If you don't have an immersion blender, take 2 cups of the soup and put it in a regular blender until pretty smooth, then return to the pot.

Add in the beans and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add in the flour-cream mix and cook until heated through.

Serve with biscuits!

Makes about 6 cups.

Nutrition is per 1/6 of the recipe:

Calories: 224
Fat: 5.3 g
Carbs: 38 g
Fiber: 5.3 g
Sugars: 3.9
Protein: 7.1 g
Vitamin A: 92%
Vitamin C: 25%
Iron: 8%
Calcium: 7%

Friday, August 14, 2015

Easiest Ever Cashew Cream Sauce

I made some pasta tonight and decided to make a creamy sauce layer and then a spicy tomato sauce layer. The tomato sauce was a basic jarred marinara, some Boca crumbles, cayenne, and some chili oil.

The cream sauce, though, that was where the real magic was! It was good enough that Aaron insisted I write down the recipe. Sometimes simple is best!

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp lemon juice (I used the kind from a lemon-shaped squeeze bottle)
1 tsp nutritional yeast

Take the cashews and the water and put them in a pan. Boil for 5 minutes. Add this and the rest of the ingredients to a high powered blender (Vitamix or something similar) and blend for a few minutes until it's smooth and creamy. If you don't have a strong blender, it might turn out gritty, though boiling the cashews longer could help.

The sauce will already be warm and ready to serve!

Nutrition (per 1/6 of recipe - about 1/4 cup per serving):

Calories: 109
Fat: 8 g
Carbohydrates: 6.3 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sugars: 1.4 g
Protein: 3.6 g
Calcium: 1%
Iron: 7%

Sunday, August 2, 2015

My Mom's Apple Crisp

My mom makes the BEST apple crisp. I have tried many variations and nothing measures up. This is a very slight variation to accommodate more apples than her recipe calls for, but if you have fewer apples, you can use 4 cups of apples, 1/4 cup of water, an 8x8 pan, and the same topping recipe. It'll be thick with topping this way, and that's the way her recipe reads. My way below is healthier per serving and is still plenty decadent, but if you want the real mom experience, that's the way.

 I had a bunch of apples that we hated to eat out of hand - they were mealy and the skin was thick and the taste was that of an apple that lost some of its joy in life. They were sitting on the counter, getting sadder each day, when I had the idea that I would turn them into something wonderful. I figured if they couldn't be saved by becoming apple crisp, they were not salvageable. It turned out wonderfully, so I highly recommend using this method to prevent wasting apples you wouldn't otherwise eat. It also works well with delicious apples you want to turn into dessert, obviously. :)

Heat the oven to 400.

Make the cumble topping:
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar

Mix those 4 things together in a mixing bowl, then cut in 1/3 cup margarine (I used Earth Balance) until it is well mixed in and the mix looks like the world's most delicious gravel.

Put into a greased, 11x7 baking dish in this order:
6 cups of peeled, sliced apples
1/3 cup water
all of the crumble topping

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bubbly and beautiful. Good luck not eating the whole pan!!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Spiced Summer Squash and Green Beans and Cauliflower Curry

I tried gardening for the first time in many years and it's been successful! I decided to make a dinner to use up some of the summer squash and green beans I've grown. Since that wouldn't make a lot of food, I also made a dish out of a cauliflower that I knew wouldn't last much longer in the fridge. These turned out to be so light and fresh while being deeply satisfying. 400 calories including rice? Yes, please! Don't let the seemingly long instructions fool you. I was able to make both recipes and the basmati simultaneously and it took me about 35 minutes to get it all together and on the table (chopping included).

Spiced Summer Squash and Green Beans

1 large onion
1 TBS margarine, or coconut oil
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 lb summer squash (this was one very large one for me, but you'd probably need 2 if you bought from the store) peeled, cut into rounds, then quartered
1/2 lb green beans (about 40 beans) ends snipped, then chopped into 2-3 pieces
1 TBS coconut butter (you can take 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut shreds and pulverize them in the blender instead, but do NOT use coconut oil instead)
1/4 cup water

Spice blend (make life easy and toss these into a small bowl before you begin cooking)
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Saute the onion in the margarine until soft, then add the mustard seeds. Keep a lid nearby, these suckers fly everywhere if you're not careful. Once the seeds start popping, add in the spice blend, mix into the onions, and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the green beans and summer squash along with the coconut butter and half of the water. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, but covering while not stirring. It's done when the beans are softened, but still retain some of their original crunch. If you dislike any crunch, cook for another 5 minutes, adding a little extra water to soften.

Makes 4 1/2 cup servings (I'd double it next time, personally)

Cauliflower Curry

1 head of cauliflower broken into little florets
1 large onion, diced
1 medium red skinned potato, peeled and diced finely
1 TBS olive or coconut oil

Spice Puree (make life easy and add this to a blender and blend it up before you cook)
3/4 cup canned diced fire roasted tomatoes
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp coconut butter (or 1 TBS coconut shreds minced)

In a big pan, fry up the onion, potato, and cauliflower in the olive oil.  Cook covered for about 10-15 minutes, until everything has softened. You are going to need to add some water along the way and you'll want to stir often to prevent sticking/burning. Add in the spice puree and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the flavors have unified and the vegetables are totally softened.

Makes 4 1 cup servings.

Serve atop fluffy basmati rice.

Spiced Summer Squash Nutrition (per 1/2 cup serving, makes 2 cups total)

Carbs: 11
Protein: 2.7 g
Fat: 6.1 g
Fiber: 4.5g
Sugars: 4.5
Vitamin A: 23%
Vitamin C: 25%
Iron: 10%

Cauliflower Curry Nutrition (per 1 cup serving, makes 4 cups total)
Carbs: 21
Protein: 4.6 g
Fat: 4.6 g
Fiber: 5.5g
Sugars: 6.4
Vitamin A: 6%
Vitamin C: 108%
Iron: 4%

Saturday, June 20, 2015

French Toast

I typically buy only whole wheat bread and scoff at anything without at least 3 grams of fiber per slice. Earlier in the week, I saw some locally-made (Knickerbocker out of Madison Heights, MI) French bread on sale and bought it on a whim when I noticed that it was pretty decent nutritionally for white bread. This morning, while trying to figure out brunch, French toast popped to mind. I do make it with wheat bread, and it's okay, but it is SO GOOD made with a nice, thick French bread.  Do yourself a favor and make it with French bread; you'll be happy that you did.

French toast + Amy's sausages + watermelon = brunch

Extreme bread close-up!

9 thick slices of French bread
1 cup vanilla soy milk (or use plain and add a few drops of vanilla extract)
1/4 cup chickpea flour (aka besan)
2 TBS cornstarch
1/8 tsp ground mace (you can use nutmeg if you don't have mace, but mace is nicer because it's less bitter)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
3 TBS coconut oil
cinnamon sugar


In a large bowl, whisk the chickpea flour and cornstarch into the soy milk. Add the mace and cinnamon. Keep the whisk handy.

Melt 1 TBS of the coconut oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Whisk the soy milk mix again, then dunk the bread in, coating both sides and shaking gently to remove excess. Fry in the pan for 2 minutes, flip and wait 2 minutes, and repeat until the edges are beautifully golden (about 8 minutes total worked for me). I put 3 slices at a time in my pan - do whatever fits properly in your pan. 

Once they're golden and slightly crisp, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve. 

Nutrition (per 3 slices cooked in 1 TBS coconut oil, included)

Calories: 457
Carbs: 60g (29%)
Protein: 15g (36%)
Fat: 17 g (40%)
Fiber: 4 g (16%)
Sugars: 5.6 g (16%)
Vitamin A: 3%
Vitamin C: 4%
Calcium: 18%
Iron: 23%

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Chopped Salad

I almost didn't post this one because it doesn't feel like a real recipe, but I loved it and thought it was delicious and satisfying and very summer heat-friendly. It's simple, especially if you like chopping. If you don't like chopping, I wouldn't recommend it. The key to the chopped salad is that every ingredient is diced. It elevates something pretty banal into something where you get a lot of different flavors and textures in every bite. It's pretty versatile, too, so if I listed something you hate, you are probably fine to swap it for something else!

Cook 2 cups of edamame and toss with a little garlic, salt, and hot mustard. Put in the fridge to cool.

Dice the following:

4 cups romaine
4 cups cabbage (I'd use purple to make it prettier)
1 red bell pepper
1 green onion
1 cup bean sprouts
1 wax pepper (or another moderately hot pepper)
1 cup pea pods
1 large cucumber
1 cup water chestnuts

Important: Make sure to get ingredients as dry as possible, or you'll wind up with a nasty salad soup.

Once your salad ingredients are nice and free of excess liquid, add to a huge bowl and toss in:

Lime zest (from one lime)
2 tsp sesame seeds (I used black sesame seeds because it looks interesting)
1/4 cup toasted almond slices or slivers
2/3 cup won ton strips
The cooled edamame from step 1

At the end, add in 1/4 cup of sesame ginger dressing and toss well. I use Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger because it's really low in calories and packs a flavorful punch. You can use something else, but you'll need to adjust the nutritional information below!

You could add in mandarins, if you want, but remember to dry them as much as possible and to add them with the dressing. I did not use them because Aaron isn't a fan.

This makes a TON of salad. You should get about 13 cups. I'm the kind of person who likes to be able to eat a great quantity of food, and this allows you a massive 4-cup serving packed with nutrients and flavor.

In a 4-cup serving:

411 calories
14.5 g fat
49.3 g carbs (16%)
28 g protein (68%)
14 g fiber (56%)
204% Vitamin A
257% Vitamin C
29% Calcium
36% Iron

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Thai Curry Soup

I made this tonight and we both thought it was a solid 5 star dish. It is SO flavorful. I'll be making it again, no doubt!

I say it's a soup, but it's not super-brothy, so you could easily serve it over rice as a saucy curry. I have a high spice tolerance and found this to be mild. I would guess that it would be just right for people who like a little kick. If you're sensitive to spicy foods, start with 1/2 tsp each of the curry paste, chili garlic sauce, and Sriracha and go from there.


1 14-ounce container of extra firm tofu, pressed and diced
1 TBS toasted sesame oil
1 low-sodium vegetable bouillon cube
2 cups water
1/2 TBS Thai red curry paste
1/2 TBS chili garlic sauce
1/2 TBS Sriracha
3 frozen basil cubes (or 1 TBS basil puree or 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn finely)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin half-circles
1 cup of chopped snow peas
1.5 servings (30 grams) of dried shiitake mushroom slices, reconstituted in water
1 cup bell pepper strips (I used frozen strips, but fresh would be totally fine too)
1 cup of cut green beans (I used frozen here, too, but again fresh would work)
1 can coconut milk
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 sprinkle of Thai basil, optional


Using your soup pot, fry the tofu in the sesame oil until golden. Set aside.

Put the bouillon, water, curry paste, garlic sauce, Sriracha, basil, garlic, and ginger into the pot and bring to a boil. Add in the carrots, snow peas, mushrooms, bell peppers, and green beans and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Mix in the coconut milk and tofu and cook over low-medium heat for another 10 minutes, then add the lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and Thai basil and cook, covered, until the carrots have softened.

Nutrition per serving - makes 4 servings (1.25 cups each)

Calories: 401
Fat: 26 g (a lot, yes, but that's largely in the form of healthy medium chain fatty acids from the coconut milk)
Carbohydrates: 27.6 g (9%)
Fiber: 8.3 g (33%)
Sugars: 9 g (26%)
Protein 16.8 g (40%)
Vitamin A: 184%
Vitamin C: 147%
Calcium: 14%
Iron: 42%

Monday, January 5, 2015

Anti-Deprivation Goulash

If you're like me, you started the new year with the promise that you'd ditch some unwanted weight. If you're like me, even thinking about dieting makes you hungry. One of my goals while counting calories has been to feel as satisfied as possible because otherwise I'll get cranky and/or obsess too much about food and/or eat way too much. I'm not the kind of person who can forget to eat or who can eat a cup of lettuce and a teaspoon of dressing and feel sated; I need good quantities of nutritious food. Here's a recipe that produces a hefty serving size and quells that ravenous feeling.


1 TBS olive oil
2 bell peppers, diced (whatever colors you like)
1 large onion, diced
1.5 cups of Boca crumbles (or another beef substitute)
2 TBS red wine
2 14.5 ounce cans of fire roasted, diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp paprika (I used 1 tsp of sweet, 1/2 tsp of smoked, and 1/2 tsp of hot, but you can use whatever)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 bouillon cube (I used mushroom, but you could use unbeef. Vegetable could work okay too)
1/2 cup water
4 servings of elbow pasta, cooked and set aside.


Heat up the olive oil in a large pot/pan and add the onion and peppers. Cook until softened and caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add in the crumbles and the red wine and cook until the crumbles are broken up and are starting to warm up, about 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, spices, bouillon, and water (everything except the noodles). Cook for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to come together nicely. If you have longer, take longer! Add in the noodles and heat until warmed through and add salt and pepper to taste.

This makes 4 big servings: 2.25 cups each!

Nutrition per 1/4 of recipe (about 2.25 cups)

Calories: 367
Fat: 4.6 g (11%)
Carbs: 62 (30%)
Protein: 17.6 (42%)
Fiber 7.5 (30%)
Vitamin A: 19%
Vitamin C: 154%
Calcium: 6%
Iron: 16%

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rich Sweet Potato Stew

This stew is rich, flavorful, and packed with nutrients!

I don't know what happened to the pictures I took, so you get no useful photo. I'll take one next time.
Sweet potatoes!


1 TBS canola or peanut oil
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried jalapenos or crushed red pepper
2 TBS curry powder (I use Maharajah Curry from Penzey's)
1 TBS minced ginger
4.5 cups of water
2 unchicken bouillon cubes
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (pieces should be like an actual die. I got about 2 lbs from 3 average-sized sweet potatoes)
1/3 cup coconut milk
4 cups shredded kale

Heat up the oil in a big pot (this makes about 10 cups when finished). Add the onion and saute for about 10 minutes, then add in the spices and cook for another minute. Pour in the water and crumble in the bouillon cubes, then stir in the tomatoes and peanut butter. When that's combined, toss in the sweet potato chunks and cook for about 20 minutes, then add the kale and coconut milk, continuing for another 10 minutes, making sure the sweet potato pieces are soft enough to smash easily with the back of a spoon. If they're not soft enough, keep going until they are! Add water if needed and stir often.

Serve on a bed of couscous. I made mine by boiling a cup of water, adding in a tablespoon of roasted peanut oil, and a half an unchicken bouillon cube and mixing until dissolved, then I poured in a cup of couscous, stirred, and removed it from the heat. This makes 4 servings.

Nutrition (per cup of stew)

Calories: 199
Carbs: 28 g
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 7.3 g
Fiber: 5.2 g (21%)
Sugars 10 g (25%)
Vitamin A: 374% (yeah, really!)
Vitamin C: 50%
Calcium: 8%
Iron: 13%

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Unchicken Caesar Salad

It's been a really, really long time since I had Caesar dressing, but when I was a kid, it was the only one I thought wasn't disgusting. However, I never would have eaten this because it would have been weird for me to combine the cold lettuce and the warm "chicken". I was a very, very picky eater (sorry, mom)! I have come a really long way!

I love this salad, it's a family favorite and it's pretty easy, too!

Prep the lettuce: Buy one of those packs of romaine hearts and chop up and wash the leaves (you don't want to use the hard core here). Set that aside in a colander so it can drip dry or use a salad spinner if you have one.

Start the "chicken" baking - I used Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders and baked like the package said. Easy stuff.

Now make the dressing:

4 TBS dijon mustard
4 TBS nutritional yeast
4 TBS ground almonds
4 TBS ground macadamia nuts or cashews
7 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of water
2-3 TBS lemon juice (to taste)
1/2 tsp kelp granules (optional)
1 TBS soy sauce
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS vegan mayonnaise (I like Just Mayo or Follow Your Heart)
1 tsp ground black pepper

Put everything in the dressing ingredient list in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside in the fridge to thicken.

In the last 4 minutes of baking the "chicken", brush some of the dressing onto each strip and continue baking. The dressing will bake in a little bit.


Split the lettuce into even servings, then drizzle 2-3 TBS of dressing on the lettuce. Add the "chicken" and a few twists of freshly ground pepper. You're going to have extra dressing. You won't be sad about that.

I had some extra ground macadamia and almond blend, so I added a little nutritional yeast and salt to that and blended to make a pseudo parmesan topping and tossed that on there as well. If you're into croutons, you can knock yourself out and add some of those now, too.

This would be killer with a side of garlic bread sticks.

Per salad with 3 cups lettuce, 2 TBS dressing, and 3 "chicken" tenders:

Calories: 346
Carb: 25 g
Protein: 21 g
Fat: 13.6 g
Fiber: 4.1 g (16%)
Sugars: 2.8 g (7%)
Vitamin A: 280%
Vitamin C: 48%
Calcium: 7%
Iron: 15%

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stuffed Peppers

I had a few things in the fridge I wanted to use up, so I decided to stuff some peppers. I always hesitate to make them because they feel like too many steps, but it worked out to be worth it, in my opinion!

4 large bell peppers, any color - make sure they stand upright for best results
1 cup cooked orzo, mixed with 1/2 TBS olive oil or margarine
1 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium zucchini, peeled and diced
1 medium summer squash, peeled and diced
9 white mushrooms, stemmed and diced
3 TBS chopped kalamata olives
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (more or less, to taste)
1 tsp Herbes de Provence (I added more to taste, about another 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp mushroom salt (or regular if you don't have mushroom)
2 cups marinara sauce

1 recipe macadamia cream
(1 cup macadamia nuts, 1/2 cup water, 2 tsp lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt blended until rich and creamy)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While that's coming to temperature, carefully cut the stem off each pepper (it's like cutting the stem off of a jack o' lantern, but easier). carefully pull out seeds and pith, leaving the pepper intact.Boil each pepper for about 3 minutes, then set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Put the olive oil and onion in a large pan over medium-high heat, and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add in garlic, zucchini, and summer squash and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Toss in the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the wine, red pepper, Herbes de Provence, and olives and cook for a few more minutes, then add in the orzo for 2 more minutes, stirring often.

Place one cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish, then put the peppers on top of that, upright. Fill each pepper with 1/4 (about 1.25 cups) of the vegetable-orzo mix, then add 1/4 cup of marinara sauce, then 2 TBS of macadamia cream.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350, then turn the oven to broil and broil for a few minutes to get a little charring.

Serve by scooping 1/4 of the marinara from the pan and pouring it on top of the pepper.

They're heavy enough that one pepper is a solid meal. You can round it out with a nice salad if you want, but these are very satisfying on their own.

Nutrition, per pepper

Calories: 404
Fat: 24 g
Carbs: 36 g
Fiber: 11 g (42%)
Sugars: 8.6
Protein: 9.5 g
Vitamin A: 19%
Vitamin C: 336%
Calcium: 6%
Iron: 38%

Friday, December 5, 2014

Oreo Cupcakes

My daughter has a friend over tonight and I overheard them talking about Oreos. I decided it might be fun to make Oreo-inspired cupcakes.

The cupcake part is pretty easy, just take a standard chocolate cupcake recipe and replace the cocoa powder with black cocoa powder. Black cocoa powder is a little harder to find, but it transforms the flavor and will seriously remind you of Oreos.

My taste-testers gave it rave reviews.

Make the cupcakes and while they're cooling, make the frosting.

Here's a simple cupcake recipe if you don't have one you like:

1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 TBS black cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp Mexican vanilla (regular works too, but use this if you have both)
1 tsp vinegar (apple cider or white)
5 TBS canola oil
1 cup cold water


Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with liners. In a large mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients (flour through salt). Make three wells in the flour mixture. In one well, place the vanilla, in another, add the vinegar, and add the oil in the third. Pour the cold water over the whole thing, then stir until combined (no large lumps). Pour about 1/4 cup into each liner and bake for 20 minutes. It's done if you can insert a knife and it comes out dry.

Filling recipe:


1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I like Spectrum)
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract (if you don't have it, regular will work)
1 TBS non-dairy milk (I used plain coconut beverage)
1/8 tsp salt


Beat the shortening until fluffy, about a minute. Then add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and another 1/2 cup, and beat until incorporated. Finally, add the tablespoon of non-dairy milk, the salt, and the last 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and beat until thick and slightly fluffy. You may need to add a little more liquid to get the texture right, but it will remind you of Oreo filling.

Push a hole into each cupcake and place about 1/2 TBS of filling inside each hole. You could choose to scoop out a bit of each cupcake, but that's a total waste. Just push it aside and preserve the whole cupcake.  Serve with a side of extra filling.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bubble Lassi

I was in the mood for the kind of bubble tea that's like a drinkable dessert with no actual tea. You know the kind.

I eyed a big can of mango pulp and decided I'd make a fusion of mango lassi and bubble tea. It was SO GOOD. I only got a terrible picture of it because my phone was nearly dead and had to be plugged in while I took the photo, so I had to take the picture in a weird place at a weird angle. Do not let this terrible image dissuade you - it is SO worth making!


1 cup quick-cooking boba pearls (these are the tapioca-based black 'bubbles' - you can get them in Asian markets or online)
1 TBS sugar
1.25 cups sweetened mango pulp (you can get this in Indian markets or online)
1.5 cup of coconut milk-based vanilla yogurt

Boil the boba until cooked, drain, then add the sugar and enough cold water to cover them. Let that cool down.

Mix the mango pulp and yogurt with crushed ice. A blender would produce better, thicker results, but Aaron was sleeping and I didn't want to wake him by running the lovely but loud Vitamix, so I just stirred in some crushed ice after stirring the heck out of the mango and yogurt mix. I didn't measure the ice, so you'll have to get it to where it's nice and thick and cold. Place 1/3 of the bubbles in each glass, then add 1/3 of the mango mixture. Serve with giant bubble-friendly straws.

I promise, it is delicious!

Nutrition (per 1/3 of recipe): 

Calories: 214
Fat: 3 g
Carbs: 47 g
Fiber: 2.3 g
Sugars: 18.5 g
Protein: .5 g
Vitamin A: 7%
Vitamin C: 5%
Calcium 10%
Iron 4%

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Being a vegan or vegetarian at Thanksgiving does not need to mean deprivation!  In recent years, I have been fortunate enough to have two feasts; one my mother cooks up and one I host for my friends.

My mom is awesome because she has figured out how to make a tasty green bean casserole and doesn't mind making changes to other staples, like making stuffing with vegetable broth and mashed potatoes with margarine and non-dairy milk. She also makes sweet potatoes and rolls that are vegan and will get one of the many easy turkey substitutes for the main dish (this year we went with this: My step dad makes a vegan pumpkin pie and pie crust pinwheels that are addictive and dairy free as well. I know I am lucky!!
A plate of goodness from my mom's feast!
These cinnamon pinwheels are a thing of beauty, aren't they?

My feast started as a way to make sure my vegetarian and vegan friends could enjoy Thanksgiving because not everyone has a family who will make changes to leave out the meat/dairy. It eventually started to include a few non-vegetarian folks, then finally got to where it is today; about 50/50.

Things have changed with the recipes through the years, but I now have a solid bunch of staples I don't think I'll tinker with in the future unless new friends bring new food needs.

I always make a pair of faux turkeys (a slightly modified version of Bryanna Grogan's soy & seitan "turkey"), mashed potatoes & gravy (from the Compassionate Cook cookbook, but without mushrooms and swapping cornstarch for flour to make it gluten free), sweet potato casseroles (a recipe I may give out someday, if you're really lucky), two green bean casseroles (another secret recipe). The green bean casserole is best topped with homemade fried onions - do not let the gluten free label turn you away, they are really good! ( with unsweetened soy milk and Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour mix), stuffing, rolls (from a photocopy of a recipe my mom gave me), and impossible pumpkin pie (this one, but with canned pumpkin, mace instead of nutmeg, and no clove: This year, Emma made the rolls start-to-finish (they were PERFECT) and peeled all of the potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The table at my house is almost ready!

Fried onions

Sweet potato casserole with topping

Gluten-free green bean casserole

Faux turkey with stuffing

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vibrant Vegan Chili

This is a favorite of mine (and of a few friends of mine) but my daughter hates tomatoes and my boyfriend doesn't like chili so I rarely make it. They're missing out! I made this for a chili competition at work, though I'm not competing, just entering it as a non-competitive dish.


1 bag of Boca "beef" crumbles (other vegan ground beef substitutes can work, but this is the best)
1 large onion, diced
1 TBS olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 TBS regular chili powder
1/2 TBS hot chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp salt (optional, to taste)
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp epazote (this is an herb that's supposed to prevent stomach distress when eating beans!)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
1 large can (28 oz) of fire roasted crushed tomatoes (note - I like a very thick chili. If you like yours soupy, add more tomato (a 15oz can of tomato sauce will work), then add a few pinches more of chili powder and cumin)
1 can (15 oz) of dark red kidney beans
1 can (15 oz) of light red kidney beans

Heat the olive oil and add the onions. Cook for a few minutes, until the onions are translucent. While that's happening, measure out the spices (garlic through cayenne) and set them aside in a small bowl. Add the Boca crumbles to the pan, cooking until browned, then add the spices. Stir the spices in, then add the crushed tomatoes. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. Add beans and cook for another 20 minutes, still stirring frequently. Simmer for 15 minutes or more to allow flavors to meld. I love serving it with little slices of avocado or with vegan sour cream, but it stands alone pretty well, too.

Nutrition (per 1 cup)

Calories: 209
Carbohydrates: 33.3 g
Fat: 2.7 g
Protein: 16 g.
Fiber: 50% (12.5 g.)
Vitamin A: 28%
Vitamin C: 65%
Calcium: 10%
Iron: 20%

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Polenta with Mushrooms

I was having a friend over for brunch and wanted to make something a little different. I went for polenta two ways and smoothies. The other polenta didn't turn out like I'd hoped - it was in the pressure cooker and I forgot the salt, so it got clumpy. But it was a sweet polenta and I made a dark cherry sauce to go with it. The smoothies were pretty simple concoctions of frozen pineapple and strawberries, some soymilk and silken tofu, a bit of agave and a splash of lemon juice and vanilla extract. My guest does not typically enjoy tofu, but she said she could not tell it was in the smoothie. :)

I only took pictures of the polenta with mushrooms, but it was definitely the best part of the meal anyway. I was working with mushrooms I had on hand, but I am sure anything would work fine here. You need about 5 cups of mushrooms. For me, it was a bag of frozen Trader Joe's variety mushrooms and an 8 ounce container of fresh baby bellas, but I am sure that any mushrooms you like would be good!

Polenta ingredients:

1 cup polenta (the big dry grits, not the prepared or instant cornflour kind)
2 cups vegetable or mushroom broth
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS margarine (or more olive oil)
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups plain coconut beverage or plain soy milk (don't confuse this with coconut milk! Coconut beverage is much lighter and has no coconut taste. This is what I'm talking about:
1-2 cups of water, as needed

Mushroom Topping Ingredients: 

5 cups of mixed mushrooms (frozen or fresh! If using dried, you need to reconstitute them first)
1 cup of finely diced onion (two small onions yield the right amount)
1 TBS olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Herbes de Provence

First, you need to start the polenta since it takes some time. Add the polenta and broth to the pan and bring it to a rolling boil, whisking often to keep it clump-free. Add in the oil, margarine, and garlic and cook over low heat while adding the coconut beverage slowly over about five minutes, whisking in each addition. Continue to cook for about 40 more minutes, whisking frequently and adding water as needed (it'll thicken a lot as you go). It should be thick and creamy when you're done.

While that's happening, make your mushroom topping!  Since I used a combination of fresh and frozen mushrooms, I added them in phases, but you can put it all together if you're using all fresh or all frozen.

I added the oil to the pan, then added in the onion and diced fresh mushrooms. I cooked that for about 5 minutes, cooking off some of the mushrooms' liquid. Then I added in the garlic and frozen mushrooms and cooked for another 5 minutes. Finally, I added in the vinegar, sugar, and herbs and cooked for another 5 minutes.

Top the polenta with the mushrooms and serve with fresh black pepper and mushroom salt if you have it (or ordinary salt if you don't!)

Nutrition (for 1/6)
Calories: 240
Fat: 9.5 g
Carbs: 30 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sugars: 5.2 g
Protein: 4.2 g
Vitamin A: 3%
Vitamin C: 7%
Calcium: 4%
Iron: 11%

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pasta e Fagioli

I built my menu for the week and noticed that nearly everything started with the letter "p". My friends helped suggest options to fill out the week and pasta e fagioli was mentioned by the lovely Brian K.

It's a nice easy weeknight meal that comes together in about 30 minutes AND it tastes good.


2 TBS olive oil
1 large onion
6 cloves of garlic, minced finely
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
4 cups of vegetable or unchicken broth
1 can (~15 oz) of northern white beans
1 can (~15 oz) of dark kidney beans
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup uncooked ditalini (or other little pasta)

Heat up the olive oil and pan fry the onion until translucent (not browned). Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add all of the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the pasta.

Cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring often.

After 20 minutes, you can use a stick blender (aka immersion blender) to pulverize some of the beans and tomatoes to give it a thicker, creamier consistency. This is optional, but it makes the soup feel more substantial. You can also just add a cup or two to a regular blender, whirr until thick and creamy looking, then add back to the pan.

Add the ditalini and cook for 8 minutes or so. Check the label for cooking time and follow that, but check to make sure it's not crunchy. I had to add 2 minutes to  the suggested time to get it just right!

Serve with warm bread.

Nutrition (per cup - makes 7 cups)

Calories: 231
Fat: 5.1 g
Carbs: 37.2 g
Fiber: 8.5 g (34%)
Sugars: 5.5 g
Protein: 9.6 g
Vitamin A: 14%
Vitamin C: 22%
Iron: 15%
Calcium: 9%

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Soy Curl Pepper Steak

I haven't been able to find my favorite steak substitute anywhere lately. I'd put pepper steak on my menu for the week, but forgot that I'd never located the Gardein beef tips. I decided to see what I could do with some soy curls, since they're a pretty versatile substitute. This was really tasty!!! It got a 5 out of 5, which is super rare! It's not low fat AT ALL, but it is high in protein, fiber, iron, and vitamin C and it still beats takeout from pretty much anywhere.

Sauce Ingredients:
3 TBS tamari
4 TBS rice wine
2 TBS corn starch
1/3 cup low sodium faux chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 TBS sesame oil
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS freshly ground black pepper (yes, a whole tablespoon!)

Into the wok, in this order:
1 TBS peanut oil
1 TBS canola oil
4 servings of soy curls, soaked in hot mushroom bouillon (faux beef would work, too)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup of chopped leeks
1/4 cup raw cashews

First, make the sauce. Just put everything into a bowl, whisk it together, and set it aside. 

Add the peanut and canola oil to the wok and get it super hot. Drain and squeeze the soy curls, then toss them into the wok (carefully) along with the garlic and ginger. Cook for about 3 minutes - the soy curls should brown. Add the peppers, onions, leeks, and cashews and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the sauce and cook for 1 more minute, 

Serve on top of a bed of rice. 

Nutrition (per 1/5 recipe - about 1 cup each serving):

Calories: 235
Fat: 14 g
Carbs: 15 g
Fiber: 16%
Sugars: 6.39 g
Protein: 9.5 g
Vitamin A: 16%
Vitamin C: 87%
Iron: 69%
Calcium: 1%

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yeti Spicy Split Pea Soup

Yeti soup? Is that vegan? I decided to call it yeti soup because it is impossible to photograph properly. I do not know why, but cameras go all blurry when attempting to take a picture of it! Any clearer pictures just didn't look...right, much like the famous fuzzy being.

Blurry, but I promise it tastes better than it looks!

Anyway, this soup is SPICY! I wasn't expecting it to be so spicy because dried peppers, especially jalapeno peppers, lose their heat when cooked for long periods. I think the pressure cooker does something special with this. I love it, but it you don't order your Thai food in the neighborhood of medium + to hot, you're going to want to tone it down a bunch! It was excellent and flavorful, which is never really my expectation with split peas, to be honest.

1.75 cups of yellow split peas, picked through for stones
.25 cups of red lentils, picked through for stones
1 large onion, diced
1.5 cups chopped carrots
4 cubes of un-chicken bouillon (or enough to make 8 cups of broth, if that's not 4 for the brand you have)
8 cups of hot water
1.5 TBS minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
1 TBS jalapeno (if you like it hot!)
1.5 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Rogan Josh seasoning (a standard curry powder would probably stand in here just fine)
1/4 tsp Berbere (I'm not sure what would be a good stand in here, but in a pinch you could use more Rogan Josh or curry)


Place all of the ingredients into the pressure cooker, making sure to stir to get the bouillon cubes to incorporate into the water. Then cook on low pressure for 35 minutes. Release the pressure instantly, stir, and serve. It thickens as it sits, but never gets as thick as traditional split pea soup. Don't add salt before you taste it; it's salty enough.

Nutrition (per 1/5 of the batch, about 2 cups in each serving)

Calories: 256
Carbs: 53 (18%)
Fat: 2.8 g (6%)
Protein: 18.5 g (24%)
Fiber: 20 g (82%)
Sugars: 6 g (16%)
Vitamin A: 160%
Vitamin C: 14%
Calcium: 5%
Iron: 18%

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Berry Smoothie and Spoonbread

Spoonbread is a different take on cornbread. It's soft (you could eat it with a spoon, hence the name), it's savory, and it's versatile. This spoonbread recipe requires a small amount of blended soft silken tofu - about 1/4 of the block. I've put the other 3/4 of it away "for later" so many times, and I never seem to get around to using it. This morning I decided to use it as a smoothie base. For any tofu-phobic people out there, you really can't taste it in either recipe! It adds body (and protein) to both recipes, but the flavors around the tofu dominate.


1 cup cornmeal
1 cup hot water
2 TBS margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup of soft, silken tofu puree (just stick the block in the blender and blend until it's smooth and sorta fluffy looking, then take 1/4 cup of that)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 TBS flax meal mixed with 1/4 cup water and set aside to set up

Heat oven to 375. Mix the cornmeal, water, and margarine, whisking until the margarine has melted. 
Add remaining ingredients, then pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Makes 12 slices. You can make it in a smaller pan for thicker, even softer slices, but you may need to increase the bake time. Serve with maple syrup, margarine, jam, or whatever you fancy. I love strawberry conserves on mine, personally!

Berry Smoothie: 
I don't know how I managed to have no bananas in the house, but it happened! I used the agave to give the sweetness, but if I'd had a ripe banana, I'd probably have used that instead and increased the liquid.

Remaining tofu from recipe above (approximately 3/4 of a block)
1 bag of mixed berries (I used a 16 oz bag of Berry Medley from Trader Joe's)
3 TBS agave nectar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious coconut beverage) 

Add agave and milk to the tofu that's already in the blender, then add the berries on top (putting liquids in first makes the whole thing easier). Blend until smooth, then serve!

Spoonbread Nutrition 
(for 1/12 of the pan)

Calories: 71
Fat: 2.5
Potassium: 22 mg
Carbs: 11 g
Fiber: 1.2 g
Sugars: 1.2 g
Protein: 1.5 g
Vitamin A: 1%
Vitamin C: 2%
Calcium: 1%
Iron: 2%

Smoothie Nutrition
(for 1/3 of the recipe)
Calories: 188
Fat: 3.7 g
Carbs: 33.4 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sugars: 20 g
Protein: 6 g
Vitamin A: 8% 
Vitamin C: 45%
Calcium: 6%
Iron: 12%