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%