Sunday, October 27, 2013

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

This soup sounds a little boring,  but I assure you it is not! It is my new favorite soup and you should definitely make this. Definitely! Make it! It is so good! We all loved it and it got a 4.75/5 rating!! I will double it next time.

1 cauliflower head, washed, cored, and broken into florets.
1 onion, diced
1 TBS coconut oil (yeah, the solid stuff)
1.5 cups frozen butternut squash cubes
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut milk (the stuff from the can, mixed well)
1 TBS nutritional yeast (optional)

Heat up the coconut oil in a large pot, then add the onion and cook until golden. Add in the butternut squash and garlic and cook for about 4 minutes, then add in the cauliflower pieces and cook for another 5 minutes, until they've softened somewhat. Add in the broth and water and cook for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft. Take half of the mix and put it in a blender, blend until smooth, then add it back to the pot. Add the salt, coconut milk, and nutritional yeast (if using). Serve! It makes 3 servings, but we all wished I'd doubled it. :)

Calories: 221
Fat: 11.7 g
Carbohydrates: 25.4 g
Fiber: 8.8 g
Sugars: 10.3 g
Protein: 7.1 g
Vitamin A: 110%
Vitamin C: 176%
Calcium: 9%
Iron: 11%

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Masala Baked Tofu, Asparagus, & Dilly Potatoes

I came home knowing that I wanted tofu to be the protein source for the night, so I immediately started pressing a block of extra firm tofu while I determined what I wanted to do with it. For you tofu newbies out there, pressing it is key to getting it to soak up flavors. You push out the water and the tofu acts like a little flavor sponge. When my friend Rachel gave me the gift of the Tofu XPress ( several years ago, I was intrigued and excited, but I had no idea that I would use it many times every week from then on! It's small and takes up almost no space in the cupboard and it is handy as all get out. I highly recommend it.

So I made the Baked Masala Tofu recipe from "Appetite for Reduction" which is a lower-fat and lower-cal vegan cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. It's good, but since it uses a ton of curry powder, the end result is that some of the tofu has sort of a pasty sauce on it. The boyfriend loves it, but the kid and I just scrape it off.

I also steamed some asparagus and sprinkled a little mushroom salt on top, and then made a new potato creation for the side. I took 5 Yukon Gold potatoes (my absolute faves) and washed them and chopped them into about 12 pieces each. Then I stuck them in the pressure cooker and put about a cup of water in and put it on high for 7 minutes. I let the pressure come down naturally. Once it was down, I opened it up and drained the excess water. I put a tablespoon of margarine in a pan and melted it, then added the soft potatoes and pan fried them briefly. I sprinkled dill and sea salt on top - I didn't measure, so I'm not sure exactly how much I used (maybe 1/2 tsp?), and stirred it up until it was pretty evenly spread. The potatoes were soft and falling apart a bit and the flavor was exactly perfect.

Dinner got a solid 4 out of 5. :)

Nutrition for 1/3 of the potatoes, 1/3 of the masala tofu, and 8 spears of asparagus:

Calories: 489
Fat: 11 g
Carbs: 75 g
Protein: 23 g
Fiber: 12 g
Sugars: 6 g
Vitamin A: 17%
Vitamin C: 64%
Calcium: 18%
Iron: 29%

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Farro Soup in the Style of Lucca

I wanted to make soup tonight because I was feeling awful all day. I was hoping to use farro in it, since I'd picked some up the other day while I was shopping, so I decided to use this recipe: with a few changes (my changes are in italics).

3 TBS olive oil
1 vidalia onion
no celery - didn't have any
1 leek, white and light green part only, thinly sliced
1 cup farro
1 can borlotti beans, rinsed and drained (I can now assure you that pinto beans taste and feel about the same, but are cheaper. Kidney beans would be okay, too)
1 TBS tomato paste
~6 cups water
1 bouillon cube (I used mushroom, but anything would work here, it serves to give it depth) 
1.5 cups frozen peas
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into small circles
1 tsp dried basil
mushroom salt
freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
no Parmigiano-Reggiano (for obvious reasons!)

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add onion and leek and cook until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the farro, beans, and tomato paste, stirring to spread the paste. Add about 4 cups of the water, or whatever it takes to submerge the pan's existing ingredients. Let it come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the peas, carrots, bouillon cube, and basil for another 30 minutes, adding water bit by bit to prevent the soup from getting too dry. Place the soup into bowls, then add a sprinkling of mushroom salt, freshly ground pepper, and 1/2 tsp of high quality olive oil to the top of each bowl. 

This is a hearty soup! It's more of a stew, so perhaps I didn't add enough water, but it turned out great. We all gave it a solid 4 and I'd make it again, though next time I'm thinking pressure cooker, since the sucker takes so long on the stovetop!

Calories: 286
Fat: 8.3 g
Carbs: 44.7 g
Fiber: 12.1 g
Sugars: 5.6 g
Protein: 11.2 g
Vitamin A: 96%
Vitamin C: 13%
Calcium: 7%
Iron: 21%

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Spicy Scrambled Tofu

I wanted something spicy and heavy on the protein today, so I opted for a double-whammy of vegan protein: tofu & seitan. You have surely heard of tofu, but seitan may be new to you. It is a high-protein item that comes in various formats (slices, crumbles, chunks, you name it) and is wheat gluten based. Sounds weird if you haven't had it, but it really makes some of the best meat substitutes out there, if you're into that sort of thing. I am! This was easy and SO FILLING.

It wasn't very pretty, but my stomach didn't care one bit.The picture's colors are a little off, but I can't seem to adjust them in a way that makes the salsa on top red without making the tortilla look like it fell into a bowl of turmeric.

1 block extra firm regular tofu, drained and broken up
1 package Upton's Naturals Chorizo-Style Seitan
1/2 TBS olive oil
3/4 cup salsa (as spicy as you'd like!)
2 TBS nutritional yeast**
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sharp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Fajita Seasoning
1/2 tsp cumin

Add olive oil to the pan, then add the tofu to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the chorizo-style seitan and cook for another 5 minutes, then add the salsa and spices and cook until nicely combined. Serve with toast or tortillas (I shoved it into the tortilla after I took the picture; it's nice like that) and add a dollop of salsa to the top.

**Nutritional yeast is one of those ingredients that's you probably haven't heard of if you're not vegan or vegetarian. It adds an incredible depth to things while adding tons of vitamin B12. It's worth looking for, since even my local Kroger sells it in the natural foods section nowadays. Do not try to use any other kind of yeast (baking, brewer's, etc) these are nothing like this stuff!

Makes 4 extremely filling servings! We rated it a 4/5.

Nutritional Information, per serving:

Calories: 224
Fat: 8.9 g
Carbs: 11 g
Fiber: 2.1 g
Sugars: 1 g
Protein: 26 g
Vitamin A: 3%
Vitamin C: 11%
Calcium: 6%
Iron: 52%

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mac & Cheese

I think the holy grail of vegan food is mac & cheese. It's something that nearly everybody loves and misses. I've made many versions of it - nutritional yeast-based, fake cheese-based, and others, but this is the stuff that I've served to my daughter's friends knowing it would pass as the real thing. Vegan cheese is an acquired taste, but this is pretty darn good. It's not health food, so it's not intended to be made daily, but then neither is regular mac & cheese (no matter what your kids tell you)!


9 ounces of uncooked pasta
2 TBS margarine
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground mustard (the dry powder spice version, not the wet kind)
1/4 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (Annie's and Wizard are both good, most other brands contain fish.)
2 cups plain soy milk
1 block of Follow Your Heart cheddar, shredded (I do not like their shreds as well as their block - the shreds have a chemical taste - and my boyfriend hates Daiya's texture, so this is our favorite option).
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I used panko with a generous helping of garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, dill, and some sea salt).
Ground pepper, to taste

Boil the pasta in one pan, then get to making the sauce in another. Oh, and heat the oven to 350. Melt the margarine in a big saucepan, then whisk in the flour, salt, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.Very gradually add the soy milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Once it is all added, boil while continuously whisking for about a minute, then add the cheese. Cook and stir frequently until it is melted. 

Drain the cooked pasta, then add it to the cheese mix and make sure everything is nicely coated. Pour it into a 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes, until nice and bubbly. Makes 8 servings and is best served with broccoli, because then you can mix them together and have cheesy broccoli too. :)

It gets a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

Calories: 281
Fat: 13 g
Carbs: 33.4 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sugars: 2.9 g
Protein: 7.7 g
Vitamin A: 2%
Calcium: 10%
Iron: 11%

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Many, many years ago, when I was a teenager, I went to a wedding and they were serving pumpkin curry. I thought this sounded pretty terrible, but once I tried it, I was hooked! This version is pretty close to the other, though as an adult I feel like I'd prefer it to have some texture. Still, we gave it a 4 overall because it was nice in spite of its smoothness!

Pumpkin Curry Soup

I used the recipe here, but with a few changes:

My version:
1 T. olive oil
1 mediucm chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium-sized leek, white parts only, chopped
1 cup peeled and chopped apple
2 T. sugar
1 TBS curry powder
¾ t. ground cinnamon
½ t. ground ginger
¼ t. ground mace
½ t. salt, plus more to taste
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup plain soy milk
Pepper, to taste
Cayenne, for garnishing

In a large pot, lightly brown the onions in the olive oil. Add the garlic, leek, and apple, plus the sugar and spices and cook until the leek is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and water and cook for 15 minutes, then transfer to the blender and puree until smooth. Add back to the pot, then add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 5 more minutes on medium heat, until flavors have come together.

Serve with bread - I used the cornbread biscuit recipe from the Vegan Brunch cookbook (Moskowitz) because it's slightly sweet, so it went with the sweet/savory theme.

I garnished the adult bowls with cayenne (this is nice!) and the teenager's bowl with some coconut milk to make it creamier.

I decided this made 4 large servings - about 2 cups each. So, for 1/4 of the recipe, the nutritional information is:

Calories: 255
Fat: 12 g
Carbs: 37.1 g
Fiber: 11.5 g
Sugars: 23 g
Protein: 5.4 g
Vitamin A: 526% CRAZY!
Vitamin C: 15%
Calcium: 10%
Iron: 13%

Monday, October 14, 2013

Unchicken, Kale & Butternut Squash

My workout was a test of my endurance yesterday, which meant I burned lots of calories. This meant I was extra hungry today. So I ate! When dinner rolled around, I didn't have many calories to work with (I get 1400/day), so I went with something quick, filling, and relatively low in calories. It also has crazy high vitamin values!

The unchicken is a Gardein variant we buy from Canada whenever we go there. Since Canada is really nearby (we're in metro Detroit), we go there often enough to keep a good number on hand. Any unchicken would work here. I just pan fried it (after misting the pan with olive oil), then added some Bavarian Seasoning (it's a spice blend from Penzeys - it has crushed brown mustard, rosemary, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and sage), a splash of lime juice, and a few teaspoons of dilly mustard. Whole grain mustard and a pinch of dill would be equally nice. 

The kale is my new favorite preparation of kale. I got one of those big 16 oz bags and just ripped the stems out, then set the leafy bits aside. I added 2 TBS of olive oil to a big stock pot, then added 8 cloves of garlic (I love the stuff). Once the garlic browned, I added in the kale, then 1 cup of broth, a teaspoon of red wine vinegar and 2 teaspoons of dilly mustard (again, whole grain mustard would be tasty here, too). I cooked for only about 5 minutes until it was nicely softened.

The butternut squash is a zero-effort sort of thing. I like to buy it frozen for the convenience. I cook the bag (1 lb) in the pan until soft, then add 1/2 TBS of margarine to the whole thing for creaminess. It's easy. You can add cinnamon if you're into that, too. 

Nutritional information

For one unchicken, 1/6 of the greens, and 1/4 of the butternut squash:

Calories: 326
Carbs: 32 g
Protein: 28 g
Fat: 12.5 g
Fiber: 9.5 g
Sugars: 6.5 g
Vitamin A: 395%
Vitamin C: 250%
Calcium: 23%
Iron: 96%

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Accidental Ethiopian Soup

I intended to make Ethiopian split peas tonight, but ended up making Ethiopian soup instead. What went wrong? Probably water ratios and pressure cooker experimentation. Still, the flavor was good, albeit mild, and the stuff is nutritious and SUPER filling. It does contain 91% of your daily value of fiber, so that's probably why it's so filling.

I served it with some pita bread we had left from eating at a Middle Eastern restaurant earlier in the week. Here's a good tip to reheating delicious bread without losing the texture: stick it in a pan over low-med heat and flip repeatedly until it's warm.

1.5 cups of split peas - I used half green and half yellow, but it really doesn't matter
1 onion, diced
1 TBS olive oil
1 chunk of ginger, peeled and grated
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4.5 cups of broth
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp berbere
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
Salt & pepper to taste

Stick everything in the pressure cooker and put it on high pressure for 15 minutes, then release naturally. I thought it would take less time based on some pressure cooker timer charts I found, but for some reason it wasn't the 6 minutes I hoped it'd be. Still 15 minutes to soup is not bad!

We all rated it a 4/5.

Nutritional information for 2 cups (1/3 of the recipe):

Calories: 281
Fat: 4.7 g
Carbs: 58.7 g
Fiber: 22.8 g
Sugars: 4.4 g
Protein: 22.6 g
Vitamin A: 16%
Vitamin C: 5%
Calcium: 5%
Iron: 30%

Peaches & Cream Oatmeal

Growing up, my favorite flavor of oatmeal was always peaches & cream. Sadly, they don't make it without the dried milk powder, so I haven't had it in MANY years! This morning, I decided I'd try to make some, since I had some freeze-dried peaches on hand. It was pretty good (but not very pretty, sorry).

1 cup rolled oats
.5 oz freeze-dried peaches, broken into little pieces.
1 cup water
1 cup Very Vanilla soy milk (regular will work too, it just won't be as sweet. Coconut milk would be amazing, but calorically dense).
1 TBS sugar
1 pinch salt

Boil the water and add the oats and peaches once boiling. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the soy milk, sugar, and salt and cook until thickened.

Makes 2 servings. We rated it a 3.75.

Nutrition per serving:

Calories: 262
Protein: 8.2 g
Fat: 4.3 g
Fiber: 5.3 g
Sugars: 19.8 g
Vitamin A: 2%
Vitamin C: 30%
Calcium: 23%
Iron: 29%

Thursday, October 10, 2013


This is an odd-sounding meal, for sure, but it's quick, easy, and filling and is fairly nutritious for something so creamy and rich. I served it with little side salads.

For 3 sandwiches:

First, make the slaw:

Add these ingredients together:
1/4 cup reduced fat Vegenaise
1.5 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar (you can use sugar instead)
1/2 tsp dill weed
1 tsp caraway seed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Then toss with 10 ounces of chopped cabbage (it's easy to use the prepared packages or about 1/2 head of cabbage).

Then pan-fry some vegan lunch meat. I like peppered Tofurky slices, but I think anything could work here. You don't need oil, just cook it to warm it up a bit. 15 slices = 3 sandwiches.

Finally, toast some bread. I used an onion rye. You can add a little spicy brown mustard to the bread, then heap on 1/3 of the coleslaw and 1/3 of the Tofurky for each sandwich. I ended up serving some of the slaw on the side because it was massive!

We gave these a 4.

Nutrition, per sandwich:
Calories: 315
Protein: 19.2 g
Carbs: 41 g
Fat: 13.3 g
Fiber: 8.3 g
Sugar: 9.2 g
Vitamin C: 136%
Calcium: 8%
Iron: 29%

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vegetable Paella

I know this won't win any authenticity awards, but I thought this was a tasty vegan take on a classic dish.

1 cup arborio rice (the kind you use for risotto)
1 TBS olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
8 ounces of artichoke hearts, broken apart
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup green peas
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup of carrots, cut into thin rounds
12 asparagus spears, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
some saffron threads (to taste/budget)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne (or more if you like spicy stuff)
salt to taste

Cook the pepper and onion in the oil until the onion is translucent. Add carrots and cook for another few minutes, allowing the carrot to soften. Add everything except for the peas and asparagus, and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often. You may need to add more broth, depending on how thirsty your rice is. Add the peas and asparagus and cook for another 10 minutes or until rice is done.

We loved it and rated it a 4.5 out of 5.

It makes 4 generous servings.

Calories: 274
Fat: 3.9 g
Carbs: 53.4 g
Fiber: 11g
Sugars: 10.3 g
Protein: 8 g
Vitamin A: 119%
Vitamin C: 116%
Calcium: 7%
Iron: 24%

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Crock Pot Cabbage Soup

You may have noticed that I haven't posted in awhile... sorry about that! I had too many nights in a row where it got to be too late to blog or I forgot to write down spice quantities or something. Anyway, I think I am back on track now!

This soup is, as most soups are, easy! If you have a crock pot it is even easier. Just toss the ingredients in, wait 5 hours as your house fills with a wonderful fragrance, then eat!

5 cups savoy or regular green cabbage, chopped (One medium head = ~5 cups after coring)
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 onion, diced
2 can tomatoes, diced
9 mushrooms, quartered            
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
4 cups broth (I used Edward & Sons "not beef" flavor bouillon cubes in hot water)
4 cloves garlic
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp paprika (sweet)
1 tsp paprika (smoked)
½ tsp caraway
½ tsp crushed peppers
½ tsp dill weed
Salt & pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low heat for 5 hours. You can cook it over the stove, too, cooking until the vegetables have reached the desired tenderness. 

A serving is 1.75 cups and is pretty filling and healthy! We gave it a 4 out of 5 overall.

Nutritional Info:
Calories: 335
Fat: 3.2 g
Carbs: 58.9 g
Fiber: 22.4 g (that's 90% of what you need for the day, hence why it is so filling!)
Sugars: 9.6 g 
Protein: 20.3 g
Vitamin A: 103%
Vitamin C: 106%
Calcium: 18%
Iron: 46%

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pasta Bar

My mom came to hang out last night, which was very nice! She's not vegetarian and doesn't care for many substitutes, so when hosting her, I keep the food pretty simple. Last night, I went for a pasta bar where everyone could assemble their own dish.  I boiled cavatappi and served that with a few toppings. We had a marinara sauce, some soy burger crumbles (for the vegetarians), freshly-chopped basil, and garlic mushrooms.

There really isn't much of a recipe to speak of here, since the preparation for most of it was simply to prepare as directed by the packaging, however, the mushrooms were something I altered.

I made the mushrooms by cleaning and slicing 16 oz of mushrooms and sticking those in a pan with 3 cloves of garlic and 4 TBS melted Earth Balance margarine. Once they cooked down, I added 2 TBS of Merlot and 1 tsp onion powder, and cooked off the alcohol and let the sauce thicken until it was only very slightly saucy. It was a tasty topping for pasta, though it wasn't a particularly healthy one.

Mushrooms, per 1/4:
Calories: 134
Fat: 11 g
Protein: 3.7 g
Carbs: 4.7 g
Fiber: 1.5 g
Sugars: 2 g
Vitamin C: 7%
Iron: 18%

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Kid-Friendly Channa Masala

My daughter pretty much hates tomatoes and onions, so it's weird that she loves this recipe. But love it she does, and that makes me happy!

3 tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 small onion, chopped
4 clove garlic, peeled
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 cans chickpeas
1/2 cup coconut milk

Place tomatoes, onions, and garlic in the blender and blend until frothy. Set aside.
Heat up oil in the pan, then add spices. Warm those spices up, then pour in the tomato mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, covered, then add the chickpeas and cook for another 10-15 minutes until they are nice and tender. While that's happening, whip up some basmati rice, because it's nice to serve with the channa masala. Any long-grain rice will work, if you don't have basmati on hand. Add coconut milk to the pan, then cook until warmed through. Makes 6 servings.

We all rate it a 4, because it's good! It's not the most authentic channa masala you'll ever eat, but we dig it. :)

Nutritional Info (1/6 of the recipe):

Calories: 275
Fat: 9.3 g
Carbs: 36 g
Fiber: 7.4 g
Sugars: 2.9 g
Protein: 12.7 g
Vitamin A: 15%
Vitamin C: 34%
Calcium: 8%
Iron: 17%

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Triple-Decker Mexican Pizzas

Since it was just me and the teenager, we decided to have a night in with a chick flick and a quick dinner. Based on what I had in the fridge, I went for triple-decker Mexican pizzas.

One pizza is quite filling, so you can size this recipe however you'd like. It's not really much of a recipe, honestly. It gets a 4.25 overall rating. 

Ingredients (per pizza)

3 corn tortillas
4 whole black olives, sliced
3 TBS salsa
1.5 TBS guacamole
1/2 cup vegetarian refried beans
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp Mexican oregano
1/4 tsp Smoked paprika
2 slices of Daiya cheddar, torn into strips
1 TBS Tofutti sour cream
a little bit o' shredded lettuce
hot sauce (optional)
Add the refried beans, liquid smoke, oregano, and paprika to a small saucepan and warm up. Keep it warm.

Pan fry the tortillas until softened, about 90 seconds per side. Place the Daiya on top two tortillas, and melt the cheese slightly, about 1 minute more.

Put one tortilla on the plate, cheese side-up. Spread 1/2 of the beans on this, add lettuce, and add 1/2 of the olive slices. Place the other tortilla on top of the layer you just made. Add the rest of the beans, the salsa, guacamole, and hot sauce on this layer. Spread the sour cream on the cheesy side of the last tortilla, and place that messy-side-down on top of the existing two layers. Cut into 4 pieces and eat it like a pizza. I served it with lettuce and a simple lime dressing that I made out of lime juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Nutrition, per pizza:

Calories: 467
Carbs: 64 g
Protein: 13 g
Fat: 19.9 g
Fiber: 10.5 g 
Sugar: 2.7 g
Vitamin A: 12%
Vitamin C: 4%
Calcium: 4%
Iron: 8%

Monday, September 23, 2013

Portobello Mushrooms, Polenta, and Butternut Squash

Tonight was pretty much a no-fuss sort of night. I made portobello mushrooms in the oven, polenta in the pressure cooker, and butternut squash on the stovetop. I didn't do anything terribly fancy, and my plating is horrible (sorry, it tastes better than it looks!), but it was a nice, satisfying meal anyway.


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
6 cloves of garlic
3 TBS olive oil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cracked rosemary (or 1/5 tsp whole rosemary)
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch sharp paprika or cayenne
5 portobello caps, cleaned and with stem and gills removed (use a spoon to take out the gills, it's the easiest way!)

Mix all of the ingredients except the mushrooms in a bowl. Place mushroom caps upside down in a baking dish (the place the gills used to be should face upward) and pour the marinade over the mushrooms, making sure every shroom is covered. Let sit for 20 minutes (or however long you have) and heat the oven to 375.  bake until they look ready, flipping about 10 minutes in, and spooning marinade over the tops. It took about 20 minutes for them to get a little flatter and wrinkly. 
While all of that is happening in the background, make the polenta. I made it in the pressure cooker by putting 3/4 cups of polenta, 3 cups of hot water, and a pinch of salt into the cooker. I whisked vigorously for a minute, then cooked it at high pressure for 10 minutes, with a natural release. You can make this stuff on the stovetop, but it's all stirring, all the time. Once it was done, I added a generous bit of a low sodium garlic and spice salt blend called Garli Garni by Garlic Festival. It needed me to be more generous; I've learned that polenta can take pretty intense flavors! Next time, I'll add some crushed garlic after cooking, to make it nice and strong.

As the pressure cooker was releasing pressure, I made the squash. I bought frozen cubed butternut, and dumped that whole bag (theoretically 5 servings, ha!) into a pan with some water. When it was hot, I added a tablespoon of coconut margarine and a tablespoon of brown sugar to give it sweetness and depth.

Remember that polenta starts out runny, but firms up once it hits the plate, so put it on the plate first. Serve with steak sauce for the shrooms and more garlic salt for the polenta.  

It gets a 3.5/5 from us.

Nutritional info for the plate, which is half of all of the recipes ^:

Calories: 497
Carbohydrates: 90
Protein: 15.3
Fat: 11.6
Fiber: 5.7
Sugars: 12.9
Vitamin A: 686%
Vitamin C: 87%
Calcium: 15%
Iron: 28%

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Unchicken & Dumpling Soup

I love this soup, because it reminds me of what my mom made when I was growing up. I know a lot of people who say their moms were/are bad cooks, but mine has always been solid! It's satisfying and tasty, and, if you don't have all of the listed vegetables on-hand, or you want to add spinach or potatoes or something, it is flexible enough to accommodate. It's especially good if it's a cold night or you're sick, but I like it all of the time.

Unchicken Soup Ingredients

1 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup green peas
2-3 servings of faux chicken, cooked & diced (I used a kind from Canada called Blue Menu, but I've used diced Morningstar Griller patties, Morningstar Meal Starter Strips, and off-brand faux chicken strips.)
3 large cubes of un-chicken bouillon 
8 cups of water
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 bay leaves
pepper to taste

Dumpling Ingredients
1.5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBS vegetable shortening
3/4 cup plain soy milk

First, start the soup part. Get a stock pot and add the olive oil, garlic, onion, carrots, and celery, and pan fry until the onions have softened. Add peas and cook for another 5 minutes. Then add in the water, poultry seasoning, bay leaves, and bouillon cubes and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat.

While the soup is cooking, mix flour, baking powder, and salt, the cut in shortening with a pastry blender. Add soy milk, stir until just combined (over-mixing makes hard dumplings instead of fluffy ones). Set aside.

After the soup had been cooking for 10 minutes, drop the dumplings in gently, and cook for 10 more minutes, uncovered. Then push a dumpling aside and add the cooked un-chicken pieces carefully, trying to keep the dumplings from getting jostled too much. Put the lid on the pot and cook covered for 10 more minutes, then serve. We served it with a simple side salad.

This gets a 4 overall rating.

Nutritional Info for 1/6 of the Soup with dumplings:

276 Calories
11 g Fat
32 g carbs
4.2 g fiber
4.6 g sugar
13.2 g protein
48% Vitamin A
9%   Vitamin C
11% Calcium
156% Iron

Friday, September 20, 2013


What the heck is quinoawesome and how do you say it? Quinoawesome is a dish that my daughter and I invented a few years ago and it's been a staple since. You say key-noah-awesome.  I served it with delicata squash rings (not pictured now, since I replaced the terrible picture that was here before). I love delicata because it's easy to work with, easy to cook, and wholly edible; you can eat the skin once cooked!

Quinoawesome Recipe:

2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup white rice (uncooked)
2 cups water
1 large faux chicken bouillon cube
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp oregano, crushed in your fingers
1 cup corn
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (red beans, kidney beans, and northern beans all work here, too)

Warm up the olive oil in a large pan, then add the onion and cook over medium heat until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add everything else except the beans and corn and cook about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed and grains are soft. I usually add up to another cup of water to get the grains softened nicely. Add beans and corn, cook for 5 minutes to let the flavors mix. Serve with a dollop of Tofutti sour cream and a squirt of Sriracha.

Overall, we rate it about a 4.

Delicata Recipe:

3 delicata squashes
1 TBS olive oil
Cinnamon & sugar to taste

Heat oven to 450. Wash squash, then cut each into rings, pushing out the seeds from the middle. Place the rings on a baking sheet and put the oil on the sheet, rubbing it around to cover each piece. Cook for about 30 minutes, flipping every 10. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar OR brown sugar (or both!)

Nutrition for 1/6 of the quinoawesome:

250 calories
4 g fat
12 g protein
43.8 g carbohydrates
8.5 g fiber
2 g sugars
337 mg sodium
2% Vitamin A
6% Vitamin C
8% Calcium
21% Iron

1 whole delicata + 1/3 TBS olive oil:

100 calories
4.6 g fat
2 g protein
7 g carbohydrates
2 g fiber
6 g sugar
0 mg sodium
140% Vitamin A
30% Vitamin C
4% Calcium
4% Iron

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Peanut Noodles

Yesterday did not work as well as I'd hoped. It was my first high school open house, and it was longer and crazier than I'd imagined. I was craving something rich and was just going to grab a quick bite out, but was thwarted by inconvenient restaurant hours. I whipped up some peanut noodles instead.

The peanut sauce I made will be good for other recipes, though there was some flavor missing that I can't quite place. It hit the spot, though, and makes 6 servings, so there's plenty leftover!

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup water
3 TBS hoisin sauce
2 TBS lime juice
1 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS chili garlic sauce
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Sriracha

Then I boiled up 1.25 servings of rice noodles while I was pan frying 3/4 of a red bell pepper and 1 cup of petite green beans in 1/4 tsp sesame oil and splashes of water and lime juice to deglaze. I served it all together with a little Sriracha heart on top.

The whole thing, noodles, vegetables, and 1/6 of the sauce recipe was hugely satisfying. It wasn't the healthiest option out there, but it's still in range for most people, calorie-wise. If I'd had more time/energy, I'd have added another few vegetables, since that's always good at making meals heartier and healthier. 

Calories: 517
Carbs: 81 g
Protein: 12.2 g
Fat: 17 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sugar: 15 g
Vitamin A: 7% 
Vitamin C: 335%
Calcium: 8%
Iron: 23%

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Since we had to go to the orthodontist last night for an evaluation, I thought the best dinner would be a fast one, so I made pizza.

It's not from scratch or anything, I just used a packaged crust, jarred sauce, mozzarella-style Daiya, mushrooms, black olives, pizza seasoning, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. I thought about making a side dish, but I was all about the simplicity! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fajita Bowl

Tonight I decided to make fajita bowls since I had bell peppers on the brain and was quite hungry to boot!

This meal was a pretty simple one, and while the bowl was an attractive vessel, it wasn't the ideal one. Next time, I'll serve it on a plate so it's easier to mix everything up!

2 cups of cooked rice
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow onion, julienned
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 servings of Beyond Meat Southwest Style (or 2 servings of any faux chicken of your choice)
1.5 TBS olive oil
1 TBS Fajita Seasoning (I use Penzey's)
1 TBS lime juice, plus extra as needed
2 TBS Tofutti sour cream
2 TBS salsa
2 TBS guacamole

Cook the bell peppers and onions in 1 TBS of the olive oil until very soft - about 20 minutes. Stir frequently, spritzing lime as needed to keep the bits from sticking. After 15 minutes, add the garlic to the pan and cook until it is browned.

While all that is happening, whisk together the rest of the olive oil, the fajita seasoning, and the tablespoon of lime juice. Then get another pan and add the Beyond Meat and the sauce you just made. Cook it over medium-high heat until it looks somewhat blackened and all of the liquid has been absorbed. Serve with hot sauce.

Serve in two bowls (or plates if you want it to work better!) with half of the rice, the pepper/onion blend, and the Beyond Meat. Top with 1 TBS each of the sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. This is a huge meal; I couldn't finish mine.

We rated it about a 3.75 - the lack of ability to mix stuff made some bites a little too homogeneous.

Nutritional Info:

527 calories
66 g carbs
27 g protein
19 g fat
488 mg sodium
6.1 g fiber
6.8 g sugar
7% Vitamin A
244% Vitamin C
10% Calcium
37% Iron

Menu 9/16-9/22

I try to stick to any menu I come up with because I buy groceries with it in mind, but sometimes it doesn't work out because nobody's feeling it, we experience an ingredient malfunction, time doesn't allow, or something else comes up. This is not necessarily the order the recipes will go in, as I base it on time, how much energy I have, and who will be eating it.

That said, here's what I'm planning to make this week:

* Fajita rice bowls
* Portobello steaks with roasted vegetables (savoy cabbage, carrots, & potatoes)
* Gardein beef tips with polenta & flowering kale
* Delicious tofu with spicy sesame green beans and rice
* Quinoawesome
* Pizza
* Unchicken & dumpling soup

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pressure Cooker Curry

I love, love, love having a pressure cooker. I never knew what I was really missing until I got one, but it does magical things in very little time. If you don't have one, you're probably thinking you don't need one or shouldn't get one. Maybe you worry it'll take up too much counter space or that it'll get used once a year like your food processor. The one I have ensures that won't happen, because it takes the place of 3 different gadgets: a rice cooker, a slow cooker, and a pressure cooker. It's called the Fagor Multi-Cooker. If you're considering getting a pressure cooker, I highly recommend it!

This dish is tasty, but not photogenic. It doesn't help that it's a primarily yellow food in a yellow bowl. A photographer I am not! It's somewhat spicy, but I like things to be very spicy, so next time I'll add some fresh peppers or more cayenne or something.

We rated it a 4.

1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 TBS olive oil
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 TBS fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
2 dried chili piquin peppers
1 tsp dried jalapenos (optional, if you like it spicy)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, if you like it spicy)
2 cups vegetable stock
Salt to taste

Cook cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, onion, and garlic in olive oil for five minutes, stirring frequently. Place in pressure cooker with the rest of the ingredients, and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Serve on top of rice. Makes 4 servings (1.5 cups each)

Nutritional Information:

Calories 209
Fat: 5.6 g
Sodium 364 mg
Carbs 35.8 g
Fiber 8 g
Sugars 9.6 g
Protein 6 g
Vitamin A 116%
Vitamin C 174%
Calcium 7%
Iron 13%

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lentil Soup with Garlic Drop Biscuits

It's been alternating between cold and hot weather here in Southeast Michigan. Yesterday was a cold one, so it was the right day for a hearty bowl of lentil soup and fresh biscuits.

I've been playing with lentil soups, and I now have the perfect recipe that gets about a 4.5 overall on my family's scale. 

Lentil Soup Recipe
1 TBS olive oil
1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
6 cups water
2 large bouillon cubes, crumbled (I used Edward & Sons Not-Chick'n)
1 1/2 cups red lentils (picked over and rinsed)

Heat the oil in the pan over medium-high heat and add the onion and carrot.Cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook briefly, then add all of the spices and stir until fragrant. 

Put the mix into the pressure cooker, then add the water, bouillon, and rinsed lentils.Cook at high pressure for 8 minutes, and allow for a natural release. I am sure you can do this over the stovetop, too, if you don't have a pressure cooker, but if you have one, use it here! On the stovetop, just keep everything in the same pan and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender. This makes 6 servings.

While the cooker is doing its magic, you can make the biscuits. Drop biscuits are THE way to get fresh bread on the table with minimal effort.

Drop Biscuit Recipe

1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup plain soy milk

Preheat the oven to 450. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and garlic powder and mix well. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender (easiest) or forks, until it looks like crumbs. Stir in soy milk until everything is just combined. Over-mixing will make terrible biscuits, so don't do that.  

Drop 12 equal portions of dough onto a non-stick (or greased) cookie sheet, then cook for 9-12 minutes on the middle rack. I told you it was easy!! The garlic flavor isn't very strong, so if you're not counting calories, you could melt some margarine and add in fresh garlic and parsley, then brush the tops of cooked biscuits with that. But they're really rich and don't need butter at all.

Nutrition Info:

Soup (1.25 cups)          
Biscuits (each)
Calories 207                  Calories 152
Fat 3.4g                         Fat 8.3g
Carbs 33 g                     Carbs 16 g
Fiber 8.5 g                     Fiber 1 g
Sugars 5.3 g                   Sugars 2.2 g
Protein 11.9 g                Protein 2.6 g
Vitamin A 72%              Vitamin A 1%
Vitamin C 8%                Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 6%                   Calcium 3%
Iron 18%                       Iron 4%

Friday, September 13, 2013

Taco night!

I always try to plan one or two easy meals into the week's menu, because I find it helps me stick to the menu much  more. That stops me from wasting food and money, which is a good thing! Last night, the plan was to eat a quick dinner and then go to the local fair, so I decided it was a good taco night. While I was cooking the crumbles, the rain began, so the plans were canceled, but we still had a quick, easy dinner.

I add faux beef crumbles and 1/2 TBS vegetable oil to a pan and cook until nearly done, then I add taco seasoning (to taste). Then it's all about chopping vegetables and assembly! Everyone likes them to be a little bit different. Mine have the crumbles, lettuce, guacamole, salsa, hot sauce, and Tofutti sour cream. It's not fancy, but it is easy and tasty!

Nutritional Info (for my 3 tacos)

Calories: 383
Carbs: 40 g 
Protein: 20 g
Fat: 16.8 g
Sodium: 777mg
Fiber: 5 g
Sugar: 4.7 g
Vitamin A: 9%
Vitamin C: 6% 
Calcium: 11%
Iron: 16%

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Volunteer Night

Tonight was my volunteer in-service, so I had a very quick, simple dinner and went to program. They had food there, but vegan options were limited to grapes and chips. No biggie - I don't go there for the food! I had grapes and chips, then we cleaned our bins, made supply lists, reviewed procedures, got our annual volunteer reviews (I did well!), took quizzes, and took off! It was a nice evening, though I came home to a power outage. It was a good night to be away and not cooking! I have had the power go out in the middle of dinner prep and that's never fun. Real food blogging returns tomorrow!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Shepherd's Pie

I'll be honest - I've never actually had an actual shepherd's pie. When I was a kid, the whole combination sounded gross and weird. So, when I went to make it myself tonight, I wasn't really sure what recipe to follow. I combined elements from many and added my own special touches. I'm sure it's nothing authentic, but I liked it and Aaron thought it was pretty good and it's hard to beat when it comes to amount you can eat for the calories.

We rated it a 4 out of 5.


4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 TBS margarine
1/4 cup plain soymilk
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 package Boca crumbles
1/2 TBS olive oil
1 cup carrots, julienned
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 cup chopped green beans
3/4 cup corn (I used fire roasted corn)
1.5 cups diced roasted tomatoes
1 cup unbeef broth
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp marjoram

Make mashed potatoes out of the russets either by boiling until they're soft or by pressure cooking on high for 5 minutes with quick release. Mash them with the margarine and soymilk and set them aside. Set the oven to 375.

Heat the olive oil and add the onion, Boca crumbles, carrots, celery, and beans. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, then add all of the other ingredients (except the potatoes). Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Put the contents of the pan in a deep pie pan, then spread the potatoes on top. Spritz the top lightly with olive oil. Cook for about 30 minutes, until the peaks on the potatoes have browned lightly.

Makes 4 servings. Yeah, a serving is 1/4 of a pie!

Nutritional Information:Calories 270
Total Fat 5.9gSodium 626mgCarbohydrates 40.2g
Fiber 9.9gSugars 8.0gProtein 22.7g
Vitamin A 121%
Vitamin C 39%
Calcium 21
Iron 25%

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mushroom Stroganoff & Broccoli

My daughter came home from a weekend at orchestra camp, so I wanted to serve a hearty favorite. Mushroom stroganoff is always eaten with glee in this house. It's not a pretty dinner and it's not the healthiest thing I make by far, but it tastes good!

I serve it with mushy broccoli (my family likes it when the broccoli is nearly liquefied) and atop "noodle style pasta" which is a vegan version of egg noodles.

Average rating: 4.5 of 5

The recipe:

16 oz. white button mushrooms (I have tried others, but the flavor wasn't as nice, IMHO)
3.5 TBS margarine
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cup water
1 Edward & Sons Not Chicken Bouillon Cube
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup Tofutti Better than Sour Cream
Salt & pepper to taste

Wash and dice mushrooms. Melt margarine in the pan, then add the mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the cooked mushrooms, whisk it in and let that cook for 2 more minutes while whisking. Drop in the bouillon cube, scatter in garlic powder, and then slowly begin adding the water, whisking until it is all incorporated. Finally, mix in sour cream and let it cook until warmed (don't boil it). Serve on top of cooked noodles*, then salt and pepper to taste.

*If you're not counting calories, slather those suckers in margarine before you put the sauce on top. It adds something to it.

The meal as a whole (1.5 cups plain noodles, 1/2 cup sauce, and 1 cup broccoli) has the following nutritional values:
412 calories
66g carb
13.7g protein
11.6g fat
267mg sodium
0 cholesterol (it's vegan, duh)
7.8g fiber
8.3g sugar
48% Vitamin A
171% Vitamin C
6% Calcium
26% Iron

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The World Needs More Vegan Blogs, Right?

'Sup, vegans? In my quest to make the best food for my family, I am always trying new recipes, tweaking old ones, and of course, making my family's favorites. This blog is my way of documenting what works for us, what doesn't, and the basic nutritional information for everything since I'm a calorie-counter and I wish more blogs did this for people like me. :)

The menu for the week ahead  (in no particular order) is: 

* Mushroom stroganoff with steamed broccoli
* Tacos
* Shepherd's pie with simple salad
* Lentil soup with garlic drop biscuits
* Sweet & Sour stir fry with brown jasmine rice
* Pasta primavera

I'm only planning 6 meals because I have a volunteer night next week and I usually just microwave leftovers or something glamorous like that on those nights.