I Made Tahini (And You Can, Too!)

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I’m free! Free from the tyranny of the ten dollar jar of organic tahini when all I need is a spoonful or two at a time! What took me so long?

This quick, easy recipe produces fresh, tasty, toasty sesame tahini for a fraction of the cost!

Easy Tahini

Ingredients:

1 cup raw sesame seeds

2 tbsp. mild flavored oil (I used sesame oil)

Method:

Toast sesame seeds lightly in a dry skillet, over medium heat, stirring slowly and constantly, just until slightly brown. Immediately transfer to a small food processor or blender.

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Grind until seeds resemble small crumbs. Add a tablespoon of oil and keep grinding, scraping down the sides as needed. Add another tablespoon of oil, if needed to create a creamy consistency. Keep grinding until smooth. That’s it!!

Makes about 1/2 cup of tahini. Store covered, in the fridge.

 

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Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’

IMG_6948For those of you struggling to get your sourdough baking off the ground, let me offer some advice: Don’t give up.

 

Here is my journey:

It took 14 days to activate a viable, bubbly culture for baking. My main resources for information and guidance were Tara Jensen’s book, “A Baker’s Year”

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and Baker Bettie, a YouTube discovery.

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When it came time for the baking, however, my first attempt was a bitter failure. I can look back and realize I simply didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t understand what the dough needed at any given time, or what it should look like at any incremental step in the process.

I got impatient with the wet, sticky dough that never looked like it would ever come together to turn into bread. I tried to ‘take over’ and control the outcome, adding handfuls of flour and wrestling it into form.

What I ended up with was a hard, unpleasant tasting flatbread spread out in a pizza pan and baked only because I didn’t want to waste all that work, not to mention the precious bread flour.

I fed my starter and put it away in the fridge for a couple weeks. I needed some space. Time to heal from the experience.


Sourdough baking requires time, commitment and most of all…surrender to the process. A beginner’s mind. Because the process can be frustrating. As cooks we are most often focused on the result of our effort. But here is where we must exercise patience, because the final product is a long time in the making.

But, once we get that sourdough starter going, well, the options are only as limited as our flour supply.

 

On my second attempt I found this ‘Tasty’ video on YouTube. It was a game-changer.

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After following the steps carefully, my bread came out perfect!

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So, I did it again the next day and turned out another beautiful loaf.

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Feeling confident, I decided to try English Muffins. After much research, this is the recipe I settled on and it is a good one! The only thing I would do differently is cut them larger, say, with a 4-inch cutter, because there was a bit of shrinkage in the baking.

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Vegan Whole Wheat English Muffins 

from thetinyveganlife.com

With this next success, I decided to wade into deeper waters. Sourdough baguette. This  is a work in progress, but I think I’m on the right track. This guy seems super smart and well-practiced in the art of sourdough baking. Joshua Weissman has over a million followers on YouTube. Not to shabby.

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Riding the wave of my sourdough success, I jumped right into Joshua’s baguette method, but I used the same dough formula from the Tasty video. I think that was a bad idea, because I had a terrible time shaping the high-hydration dough and ended up deflating the gasses. My bread didn’t rise very much, but it was still very much edible!

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There is so much more to learn. So many recipes to try. I’ve been exploring Sarah Owens’  Food 52 videos on YouTube. She is the author of the bestselling book, “Sourdough”.

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I think she is going to be one of my primary resources as I move into the next leg of this sourdough baking journey.

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For now, however, I’ve fed my starter and stored it in the fridge for a little while. I’m taking a little more space. Resting on my laurels. Reflecting on my successes and moments of challenge. Because, honestly, I am exhausted–having baked every day this week!

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So, for now–and until next time, the bakery is closed.

 

 

 

 

Coconut Chana Saag

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Here I am turning out a lovely pot full of Indian goodness called Coconut Chana Saag. Super simple when you have the spices handy. The rest is just basic cookery, like any other dish.

Coconut Chana Saag

(recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

1 tablespoon Coconut oil
½ med Onion, yellow, diced
1 ½ cloves Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Ginger, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon Curry powder
½ teaspoon Salt
Pepper
¼ teaspoon Anise seeds or fennel
⅛ teaspoon Garam Masala
¼ teaspoon Cumin
⅛ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
12 ounces Tomatoes,whole, canned
30 ounces Chickpeas
4 ounces Lacinto Kale, chopped

Finish with:
7 ounces Coconut milk
1 tablespoon Lime juice
2 tablespoons Cilantro, chopped

Method:

Saute the aromatics and spices:

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Add tomatoes and simmer to blend flavors:

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Add the other stuff and simmer until heated through, then finish with the last three ingredients, stirring in off the heat.

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That really wasn’t hard…and the flavor is phenomenal. Home-cooked Indian food can be way more delicious and fresh tasting than what you purchase from a restaurant. You control the oil, the salt and the level of heat you prefer. What’s better than that?

 

 

Garlic-Sesame Soba with Wild Mushrooms and Edamame

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I love noodles, especially soba. Here’s a quick and easy dish that works for a weeknight meal, but translates just as well to an elegant dinner party with a hot cup of miso soup as a first course.

Ingredients:

5 ounces SOBA NOODLES

2 tbsp. ounces AGAVE NECTAR
3 tbsp.  RICE WINE VINEGAR
3 tbsp. REDUCED SODIUM TAMARI SAUCE
1 teaspoon CHILI-GARLIC SAUCE (SAMBAL OELEK)
1 tbsp.  OLIVE OIL
4 ounces MUSHROOMS, MIXED
3 cloves GARLIC, MINCED
3 SCALLIONS, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. SESAME OIL, TOASTED
1 tsp.  SESAME SEEDS, BLACK

1/2 cup EDAMAME, FROZEN, SHELLED, thawed

Method:

1. Cook soba noodles, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

2. Whisk agave, tamari, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce and set aside.

3. Saute mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and scallions and let cook a few more minutes until fragrant. Add sauce and let cook for 1 more minute until heated through.

4. In a large bowl, toss soba noodles with sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Eat chilled or hot.

 

Chocolate Mousse Pie

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Here’s a recipe that will impress your sweetie pie, or heck– just impress yourself!  A no-bake chocolate cookie crust filled with super easy, super rich and delicious chocolate mousse.

The secret is buying the best darn vegan-friendly chocolate you can afford! This is a dessert I pull out every so often for a special occasion or to share with non-vegans who doubt whether a non-dairy dessert can measure up to what they are used to.

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Personally, I never truly appreciated chocolate until I enjoyed it without dairy and additives and the other junk it is often processed with.

Chocolate Mousse Pie

Adapted from “The Joy of Vegan Baking” by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Ingredients:
1 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips, chunks or bar cut into small chunks
12 oz silken tofu (soft or firm)
½ cup nondairy milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt

Vegan cookie pie shell, homemade or store bought

Melt chocolate in double boiler or in microwave until smooth and pourable. Puree tofu, milk, salt and vanilla in food processor until well blended. Stream slightly cooled but pourable chocolate into the tofu mixture and blend immediately until fully incorporated. Transfer to pie shell and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Plant-Based Mushroom Stroganoff (Vegan)

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Another super simple recipe!  I’ve made this recipe for my family, not all of whom are vegan and I’ve made it for  newly transitioned clients. It’s unanimous–they all love it!

Big chunks of earthy  mushrooms and onions in a savory, creamy gravy that tastes almost identical to its traditional counterpart.

Mushroom Stroganoff

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance non-dairy margarine (or olive oil)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 8 ounces Cremini, white or mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped and/or sliced
  • clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Vegetable stock, cold, or at room temperature, divided
  • 1/2 cup plant-based sour cream or cashew cream
  • 2 tablespoons Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Tamari
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cooking sherry (optional)
  • 8 ounces egg-free pasta or macaroni, cooked to your liking

Method:

In a medium-sized skillet, saute onions and garlic in oil or margarine with a pinch of salt, until tender.

Add mushrooms and sauté over medium heat until softened.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the sour cream (or cashew cream) together with the flour. This will be the creamy thickening agent. Set aside.

When mushrooms are finished, pour in 1 cup of the veggie stock and bring to a low simmer, stirring gently. Whisk the other 1/2 cup stock into the sour cream mixture just to incorporate.

Using your whisk, slowly add the sour cream mixture to the pan, moving the mushrooms to one side so you can make the sauce. Whisk gently until well incorporated and continue to cook on low heat until sauce begins to thicken.

Now stir in the liquid flavorings. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.

Serve immediately over freshly cooked pasta.

 

 

Smoky Pulled Jackfruit

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When I first heard that jackfruit can imitate the texture of shredded meat classically prepared as barbecue, I could hardly believe it. I was challenged by the prospect. I thought, how can a soft, canned fruit  make this transition?

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I researched recipes and the overall consensus seemed to be that the fruit must be cooked down with a sauce or flavorings in order to make it break apart and shred. I tried this technique and was sorely disappointed. The jackfruit did not have the texture I was looking for. Instead, it was like eating a mouthful of soft, wet dishrags.

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I put on my thinking cap and came to the conclusion that in order to get that meaty, pulled texture, the fruit must be relieved of much of its moisture and the sauce applied in finishing. Here’s my technique. It’s quick, easy and foolproof.

Pulled Jackfruit

2 cans young green jackfruit in *brine

Barbecue sauce, to taste (bottled or homemade, your choice)

1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Fabricate! Drain the jackfruit and cut out the hard, triangular core pieces (similar to pineapple) then tear the fruit into shreds with your fingers.IMG_3697.jpg
  3. Marinate! With a paper towel, press out as much moisture as possible and then apply the liquid smoke, if using and 2 teaspoons of barbecue sauce, for  just a touch of flavor. Toss the fruit to coat.IMG_3701.jpg
  4. Bake on dry parchment-lined sheet tray (no oil) for 20-25 minutes, stirring at around the 10 minute mark, until the edges are browned and the fruit has a dried appearance.IMG_3706.jpg
  5. Finish! Then and only then, apply the sauce of your choice and serve immediately.img_3711

Yield: 2 cups

Notes: In addition to traditional barbecue presentation, pulled jack fruit goes well in Mexican dishes like tacos, quesadillas and nachos.

*Do not use the jackfruit in syrup, only in brine. There is a big difference.

 

Thai Peanut Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

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This is one of my very favorite dishes! Creamy, sweet and spicy–with lots of tender-crisp vegetables and protein-rich tofu! My recipe is easy to prep ahead of time and enjoy whenever you are ready!

Thai Peanut Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

2 tbsp. Cornstarch
1 cup Veggie broth
¼ cup Peanut butter, creamy
1 tsp. Red curry paste
2 tbsp. Brown sugar
2 tbsp. Tamari sauce
2 tbsp. Ginger, fresh, minced
2 tsp. Garlic, minced
1 Bell pepper, red, diced
7 ounces Tofu, extra firm, diced
6 ounced Mushrooms, sliced
½ head Broccoli
1 cup Coconut milk
1 tbsp. Lime juice

1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

Method: First, make the sauce base. Combine ingredients 1 through 8 in a medium saucepan and whisk until smooth and well-blended. Continue whisking and cook on medium-low heat until thick. Remove from stove and set aside. At this point, you may wish to refrigerate your sauce base until about 30 minutes before meal time.

If not, continue on by adding the coconut milk and vegetables. Cook on medium low, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, about 7-10 minutes. Finish with lime juice and garnish with cilantro.

If using the make-ahead option:  Pull base from fridge and heat gently until warmed. Add coconut milk and vegetables and follow remaining recipe steps to finish. Enjoy!

Eggless Tofu Salad

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This is a quick and easy sandwich filling and certainly one of my husband Steve’s favorites. He’s what I lovingly refer to as a “meat and potatoes” vegan, and so am I, to some extent. We were both raised on the standard American diet which included familiar lunchbox staples such as tuna fish, chicken and egg salad sandwiches. We like veganized versions of homestyle, familiar dishes we grew up on as well as some of the more modern veggie dishes.

Interesting thing about these fillings, they are all made pretty much the same. This recipe is adaptable to chicken substitutes like soy curls and seitan and also mashed chickpeas that can stand in for tuna fish.

So this is my version, and I think it’s pretty darn close to the original in terms of flavor. I like a few high notes–sweet relish, tangy onion, crunchy celery and lots of black pepper. All of these ingredients are adjustable to suit your taste, so give it a try!

Eggless Tofu Salad

Recipe by Melanie daPonte

14 ounces Tofu, extra firm, drained
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tbsp. Sweet relish
1 stalk Celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp. Red onion, finely chopped
½ tsp. Turmeric
1 tsp. Dill, dried
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Pepper
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

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Drain tofu, squeezing out any excess liquid. Crumble with hands into large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and blend well to incorporate to a smooth, spreadable consistency.

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I cannot stress enough the importance of tasting for seasoning. If you like more salt, add it now. If you like it sweeter, add more relish, etc. Make this recipe your own, and you won’t regret it.

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Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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When I Google a recipe I narrow my search by starting with the word “best”. When it comes to vegan recipes this strategy has always turned out really well for me. Within mere seconds, I discovered this excellent recipe from Daily Rebecca’s blog and now it is the only one I use for chocolate chip cookies.

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I made just one modification by adding one flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax meal and 3 tbsp. water, let stand for 15 minutes in fridge).

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These freeze perfectly and in fact taste pretty delicious frozen, too!

The BEST Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Author: veganhousewives.com
Recipe type: Dessert/Vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-15 cookies
Ingredients:
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (please note alternate flours WILL change the outcome of the recipe!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s chocolate chips are accidentally vegan!)
Method:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream (aka thoroughly mix) together the coconut oil & brown sugar, then add the almond milk & vanilla. The mixture may be really “liquidy” this is OK.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Combine the wet & dry ingredients (it WILL BE crumbly – this is OK), then fold in the chocolate morsels & any other mix-ins of your choosing.
  5. Roll into Tbsp sized balls & place them on an ungreased cookie sheet (or on a sheet of parchment paper on the baking sheet), then flatten them out a bit with your palm. The dough may be a little crumbly, but just smoosh it together and it will work fine!
  6. Bake for 7-10 minutes. (I did 8 which was perfect)

 

Vegan Tuna Melt

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I’ve been looking forward to trying this new vegan product called “Toona”. When I told my husband I’d be making tuna melts for lunch I found out he’s never eaten one… ever. No pressure, right??IMG_2189

I guess I assumed everyone knows the classic tuna melt, a diner menu staple and one of my favorite picks in my pre-vegan days.IMG_2192

So, I chopped up my standard ingredients for any sandwich filling that ends in “salad”: onions, celery and parsley. I opened the can and drained off the bit of olive oil on top. The texture was a bit crumbly and firm, more so than I expected. It wasn’t flaky at all, but I mashed it up with a fork then added my veggies, egg-free mayo and a bit of sweet pickle relish.

To my pleasant surprise, it tasted great–not fishy at all, just the essence of the sea. The texture though, was kind of like Beyond Meat, which I have used to replicate chicken salad. I would advise not to add any salt to this recipe. It tasted plenty salty so I just added a big dash of black pepper.

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Meanwhile, I toasted a couple whole grain english muffins and set my oven to low broil. I lightly buttered the toast with Earth Balance and topped the bottom halves with a slice of organic tomato and a generous scoop of the salad. Then I placed a couple slices of Follow Your Heart Provolone on top.IMG_2197

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When the cheeze was nice and melty I pulled out my little beauties and served them with more tomato and topped with the other muffin half on top.

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Our sandwiches turned out really delicious and I would say better, cleaner tasting than conventional tuna melts. I think it’s really about the experience of the crunchy bread, hot broiled tomato and cheeze blending with the salad ingredients inside that really make it. I didn’t miss that “fishy” flavor or the fish for that matter. Leave them in the sea where they belong! 🙂

New Vegan Clam Chowder

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A rich, thick, stick to your ribs chowder–filled with hearty chunks of potatoes, celery and onion–this one has all the elements of the original, but gets its creaminess from my secret ingredient: navy beans! This version is not only healthier and cruelty-free, but it’s so filling and delicious!

New Vegan Clam Chowder

1 pound dried navy beans

3 strips dried kombu seaweed

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 strips tempeh bacon

1/2 medium onion

3 stalks celery

1 clove garlic, minced

8 ounces oyster or shiitake mushrooms

2 cups vegetable stock

1 large potato, peeled and diced

big sprig of fresh thyme

3/4 cup dry white wine

Handful fresh parsley, chopped

Dulse or kelp flakes (optional)

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Method:

Frame-16-09-2015-09-47-51Soak beans overnight in water. Cook in fresh water with kombu until beans are soft (they should look cracked open).

Frame-16-09-2015-09-49-32 (1)Drain beans and reserve liquid. Remove kombu and discard. Puree beans with enough liquid to make very smooth.

Frame-16-09-2015-09-50-45 (1)For a very smooth soup, run puree through a fine sieve. Transfer to a large soup pot and warm over low heat on stove.

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Dice the bacon, onion, celery and garlic.

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Heat olive oil in large skillet and add bacon.Saute until browned. Add onion and celery and  saute until softened.

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Add mushrooms and saute until softened. Increase heat and deglaze with white wine until pan is almost dry.

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Add stock, thyme and diced potatoes. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.

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Add  contents of skillet to pot on stove and heat through. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as desired. You may wish to add dulse or kelp flakes for more of a sea-derived flavor.

Vegan Patty Melt

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The key to a successful patty melt is in the assembly. You want a juicy, messy, melty experience, but you want it to hold together. It’s a bit of a process, but well worth the effort for as often as I make this decadent sandwich–maybe once or twice a year!

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Heat oven to 375. Start with your favorite patty. I like Gardein because it has a firm texture that holds up well. Brown it up in a skillet with a bit of oil and salt and pepper, then set aside and keep warm.

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In a separate skillet, and simultaneously with the patties if possible, brown sliced onions until well caramelized. Season with salt and pepper and set aside and keep warm. In the same skillet, sauté and season mushrooms with salt and pepper and a couple tablespoons of worcestershire sauce. Keep warm.

When the oven is hot, toast buttered slices of bread on a sheet pan (butter side down) for about 5 minutes, until a bit crisp on the bottom. Add slices of your favorite melty cheeze  ( I use Daiya slices) and return to the oven about 4-5 more minutes, until cheeze is melted and bread is crisp and brown on the bottom.

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Assemble the sandwich carefully while everything is still hot. This takes a bit of organization.

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Cut and serve immediately.

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Chocolate Chip Muffins (Vegan, Whole-Grain, Oil-Free)

Muffins are a happy little baking project. Quick breads are meant to be simple, tasty and portable. These little gems are that and so much more. A perfect balance between nutrition and sweet decadence.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup non-dairy chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan, either with liners or a light coating of oil.
  2. In a large measuring cup, use a fork to  mix together the milk, flaxseeds, and vinegar. Mix for about a minute, until it appears foamy. Set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk mixture. Add the applesauce and vanilla to the well and stir together. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the dry ingredients are moistened (do not overmix). Fold in the chocolate chips.

4. Fill each muffin cup three-quarters full and bake for 22 to 26 minutes, or until a knife inserted through the center of a muffin comes out clean

5. Let the muffins cool completely, about 20 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges of each muffin to remove them from the pan (if necessary).

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry

This quick and simple but intensely flavorful bowl is my current lunch favorite. And the recipe welcomes substitution for whatever vegetables and protein I have on hand. It’s really about the base flavors that carry the other elements along.

Here we have warm curry spice blended with tomato, onion and ginger– a slight twang of tamari, and a drizzle of maple syrup sweetness, rounded out by a smooth, creamy coconut finish. It’s comfort in a bowl.

And right now…

comfort is everything.

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry

Adapted from a recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Garlic, Minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh Ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Curry powder
  • pinch Crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups Vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari
  • 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato paste
  • 1 cup Garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup Butternut squash, cubed
  • ½ cup Coconut milk
  • Spinach leaves, fresh (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Cilantro, chopped fine (optional)

Method:

1.Saute onion in coconut oil until translucent. Add aromatics and saute about 30 seconds. Add all liquids, except coconut milk and bring to boil.
2.Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Add squash and chickpeas to heat through. Add coconut milk and warm until heated. Finish with chopped spinach and garnish with cilantro if desired.

 

 

Vegan Sweet Rolls with Fruit Filling

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Times like these, I am sure your family is thankful they live with someone who enjoys cooking. And it’s times like these that people like me are thankful they have something useful (and fun) to do in the comfort of their own home!

So, how are you all holding up? We are only making one trip per week for food shopping, so I’m really getting creative in the kitchen. Letting the larder run down. Using up my odds and ends.

This project began with me staring at a jar of sweet, sticky organic dried plums I had sitting in the fridge. Last week, I remembered finding myself lusting over the cover of the latest Bon Appetit magazine featuring a gorgeous closeup of a pan of cinnamon rolls.

I checked out the recipe inside and discovered the filling was made from dates. I thought my dried plums would sub just fine, here. Instead of using Bon Appetit’s conventional recipe for the dough, I turned to Tasty’s vegan version found here.

So, I used Tasty’s recipes for the dough and the icing, then instead of the butter, brown sugar cinnamon filling–I used the fruit filling below.


A nice change from the typical brown sugar cinnamon flavor, I find this simple, no-cook filling exceptionally yummy and a great way to use up dried fruit hanging around. I suppose you could use any filling here and make it your own.

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Dried Fruit Filling

2 cups pitted dried plums (prunes) or 1 cup chopped, pitted Medjool dates

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (for assembly)

Method:

Soak fruit in hot water for 30-45 minutes, then drain and combine in food processor with  other ingredients (except brown sugar). Mixture should become a spreadable paste. If necessary, add a bit more oil to smooth it out.

Spread the mixture carefully with an offset spatula over dough, then sprinkle evenly with brown sugar before shaping and cutting dough into rolls.

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Bake as directed here. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes and serve with icing, if desired.

 

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Deli Style Tuna Salad (Fish-Free)

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Having gone plant-based about eight years ago, I had actually forgotten about fish as food. But, when I read about this new product, well–I must admit, the food memories come flooding back:

A Subway 6-inch tuna (just albacore and mayo) on whole wheat roll with a bag of Doritos, my reward after working a long lunch shift behind the counter as a ‘sandwich artist’. Scoops of  deli tuna salad piled high on toasted English muffins, smothered in melted cheddar, shared with my best friend, Terri–at the local diner when we were kids. Tuna salad at home–studded with finely diced onion, celery and sweet pickle relish, first my Nana’s recipe and then, later, my best attempt at recreation. But it was never quite as good.

Then there were the Tuna Helper days. So many combinations of silky noodles, macaroni and savory sauce. Later, I would come up with my own creamy béchamel and whole grain pasta creations, folding in frozen baby peas for color.

So, yeah, the memories are there if I reach back far enough. Good memories. So, I thought, what the heck–if nothing else, trying this latest fish analog will give me something to write about.

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First impressions:

Upon opening the package I found the scent mild, briny, but not like seafood. No fishy smell at all. More like hearts of palm or artichokes from a can. That, to be honest, was kind of a disappointment. Not to say I wanted to smell fish, but I wanted to smell the sea, like the strands of seaweed floating in my miso soup. Just a hint. But, no–I didn’t get that here.

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Not unlike other vegan protein products, the bits are kind of hard and crumbly. From experience, I know this won’t bode well for incorporation with mayo. So, I take it for a spin in the food processor to break it down into more of a shredded paste-like consistency, yet still retain some texture.

The Sarno brothers would most likely frown on this, but, hey–I paid my five bucks, so I’m gonna make it mine.

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Now, we’re talkin’. The grinding actually released a bit more moisture, helping it combine quite nicely without being too wet. Here, I added mayo, celery, onion and pickle relish, 1 tablespoon each.

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The flavor was quite nice, the texture spot-on–even with that kind of dry, edgy mouth feel one expects from flake tuna. Of course, without the add-ins I wouldn’t find it as favorable to be sure.

The final analysis:

Would I buy the product again? I have to say no, I wouldn’t. At $5 per package and each package offering one hearty serving (or two conservative portions) it’s a high price/ low-yield way to spend your lunch money.

I have said this before, when it comes to deli sandwich fillings it’s really about the mayo, onion, celery and relish combination for me. You could basically grind up anything, mix it with these ingredients and it would make a delicious sando, in my opinion.

Take chickpeas, tempeh or white beans and mash em up. Take crumbled pressed tofu sprinkled with a bit of turmeric for color–bam! Eggless salad. So many creative ways to include less processed and whole foods in the equation and we know laboratory-produced protein isolates are not the best source of protein for our bodies.

Have you tried this product? What do you think?

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Blueberry Cardamom Muffins (Oil-Free, Whole Grain, Vegan)

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By the time I finish my morning coffee, I’m thinking about what I want to cook for the day. This is a constant–whether or not I even have time to cook at home. I am still thinking and planning for when I get back to my kitchen.

And it’s not necessarily a plan requiring an elaborate list of ingredients, or even a trip to the store. Most often I consider what I can do with the various components I already have in my pantry, fridge and freezer. Kind of a daily mystery box challenge.

I’ve been dreaming of creating these muffins for over a week now. The combination of blueberry and cardamom just sounds so nice. Today is the day.


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Blueberry Cardamom Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground cardamom seed (optional)
  • ½ cup mashed ripe banana
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, unthawed

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan, either with liners or a light coating of oil.
  2. In a large measuring cup, use a fork to  mix together the milk, flaxseeds, and vinegar. Mix for about a minute, until it appears foamy. Set aside. IMG_6852
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk mixture. Add the banana and vanilla to the well and stir together. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the dry ingredients are moistened (do not overmix). Fold in the berries.IMG_6857
  4. Fill each muffin cup three-quarters full and bake for 22 to 26 minutes, or until a knife inserted through the center of a muffin comes out clean. IMG_6860
  5. Let the muffins cool completely, about 20 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges of each muffin to remove them from the pan.

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The verdict? A tasty, aromatic muffin bursting with juicy berries and whole grains. Lightly sweet and fat free, they make a perfect snack or light breakfast.

 

Clean Out The Fridge Yakisoba

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Tonight was a good time to clean out the fridge. I rounded up all my pre-chopped salad veggies leftover from our lunch prep and put together a quick sauce to pour over the sautéed veggies and noodles for a delicious dinner and any leftovers will taste great as a cold salad later .

No strict ingredient measurements here. It’s mostly about the method with this dish.

Yaki-Soba On The Fly

Ingredients:

Soba Noodles or Veggie noodles (zucchini, sweet potato, etc)

Assorted veggies, chopped

2-4 Garlic cloves, chopped or sliced thinly

Crushed red pepper (optional)

Canola oil

Sesame oil (if you have it)

Yakisoba sauce (recipe follows)

Quick Yakisoba Sauce

(recipe courtesy Nami from justonecookbook.com)

 (Makes ½ cup (8 Tbsp) I halved this recipe and it was plenty for 10 oz soba noodles
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp vegan oyster sauce (or substitute more soy sauce)
  • 4 tsp ketchup
  • 4 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

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Method:

Heat a big pot of salted water to boiling for noodles, if using.

Meanwhile, heat a good quantity of oil over medium-high heat until a little piece of garlic sizzles when placed in the skillet. We’re talking a good 2-3 tablespoons with about 1/3 being sesame oil if using.

Add garlic and  1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper and fry until golden. Watch this very carefully so it doesn’t burn, but you definitely want some color. Reduce heat a bit, add your vegetables and saute until almost fully cooked (about 5 minutes).

Meanwhile, get your soba noodles cooking and add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the starchy water  to vegetables. This water will reduce a bit and help add body and flavor to the dish. Before the water is fully reduced, drain soba noodles and add them directly into the pan, mixing them around together with the vegetables.

When the water is reduced a bit,  turn the heat down to low. Go ahead and pour the sauce over, mixing until heated through. Serve immediately.

 

The Best Plant-Based Cookbook is Waiting For You, And It’s Free!

 

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“Do you cook a lot?” asks the librarian behind the counter.

It’s after work, I’m in my chef jacket, stuffing a reusable shopping bag full of plant-based cookbooks I placed on hold a week or so ago.  A regular ritual for me.

“Um, yeah…I sure do. I’m a personal chef and I do a lot of recipe research here at the library!” I smile broadly as he helps me place yet one more gorgeously photographed hardback on my pile.

At home with my stack, I sit down in a comfy chair with a hot cup of tea and flip through one book at a time.

But I am not just looking at pretty pictures. I am on a mission. Seeking inspiration and also solid, no-nonsense recipes that I can modify or add to my regular repertoire.

What makes a good recipe, in my opinion?

  1. Reasonable number of ingredients. Reading a long list of stuff I need to buy/prep makes me exhausted before I even get started, so less is definitely better.
  2. Accessibility of ingredients. Can I find the items at my local grocery on a regular basis or are they seasonal or hard-to-find?
  3. Ease of preparation. Are there so many complicated recipe components that one dish takes two hours to cook? Unless it’s Christmas or I have committed my day to bread-baking or ravioli-making, that’s a deal-breaker for me.
  4. Recognition. Yes, familiarity. I have found for my clients, and for my family, we like to return to dishes and flavors again and again that are familiar to our experience. What says comfort to you?
  5. Cost. Some ingredients are just ridiculously expensive. Here is where you have to use your instinctual higher judgement. Some cookbook authors assume that money is no object on the quest for the perfect plant-based meal. Next.

Here are a couple highlights from this week’s haul:

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The Book of Veganish by Kathy Freston (2016)

Why? This cookbook offers simple, economical no-nonsense recipes and lots of great everyday advice on making the transition to a vegan, plant-based lifestyle. I especially appreciate the relaxed language and easy-to-read page layouts with colorful images and text boxes throughout. A great starter book.

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Natural Feasts by Ella Mills (2017)

Why? First, a disclaimer. When you open it up you know you are stepping into a world. It’s easy to lose your way amidst the lush, natural light, the soft-focus images of radiantly healthy women and men beaming lovingly at one another over rustically styled food and furnishings and hand-picked botanicals. You get the sense that everyone loves Ella. And by the end, you realize you want to be Ella.

But behind all the window-dressing, Ella puts out quality recipes. I enjoyed her previous and more basic “Simply Ella” cookbook because she really focuses on creative combinations of whole foods in her recipes. Most of her dishes are low in sugar and oil and include simple, easy to find and afford ingredients, like butterbeans. Yes, butterbeans!

I highly recommend exploring your local library’s inventory of cookbooks to discover the right one(s) for you. Key words really matter when researching the database. Try vegan, plant-based, whole food, vegetarian, healthy, meatless, for example. And don’t give up entirely on conventional cookbooks and magazines for recipe inspiration. There are many recipes that are incidentally plant-based (like salad dressings, barbecue and other condiments).

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The book business being what it is, publishers are looking to appeal to the widest audience, so don’t get hung up on labels. I have found many excellent vegan recipes hiding between the pages of lacto-ovo vegetarian cookbooks.

I have read that folks are cooking less nowadays, opting instead for grab n’ go meals, food delivery services, personal chefs (yay), restaurant dining and takeout  more often than not.

Nevertheless, for those of us who read them (and need them) as well as those of us who just like the pretty pictures, the plant-based cookbooks keep flying off the presses. And thank goodness for that!

 

 

 

 

Plant-Based Macaroni and Cheese

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Hand’s down the best mac n’ cheese recipe I have tried, this one comes from Allison Rivers Samson as published in Veg News Magazine.

I made a couple of modifications to the recipe by adding steamed broccoli and substituting panko for the fresh breadcrumb topping. I hope you enjoy making this delicious dish your own!

Here’s the recipe:  Veg News Magazine Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

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Homestyle Oat Bars

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I really like those tasty, chewy individually packaged oat bars I find at Whole Foods Market. But I don’t like paying $2.00 per bar!

So, I cracked open the pantry  and came up with my own quick, no-bake version that as it turns out, I like a whole lot better!

This recipe is simple. One you can throw together with whatever nuts, seeds, cereals and dried fruits you just happen to have hanging around. You don’t have to toast the rolled oats or the nuts, but I like that roasty-brown taste. These bars are soft and sweet, without being overly so, with a deep caramel-like flavor from the brown rice syrup.

Homestyle Oat Bars

adapted from the recipe found at fannetasticfood.com

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups rolled oats

1 cup crispy brown rice cereal

Any combination of the following, measuring 1 cup:

Nuts, any kind, roughly chopped (almond slices, pecans, walnuts, cashews)

Seeds, any kind (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, sesame)

Dried fruit, any kind (raisins, diced apples, chopped figs)

Shredded coconut (raw or toasted)

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract

Himalayan pink sea salt (optional)

Method:

  1. If you like your oats and nuts toasted, preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. If not, skip ahead to step 2. Place oats on a dry baking sheet. Place nuts on a separate sheet. When the oven is ready, place the oats and nuts in the oven. Toast the nuts carefully watching the time. This should take 2-4 minutes. They burn easily. Pull them out and allow to cool. Stir the oats every 5 minutes and toast until they are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare a small-sized shallow, rimmed baking pan by lining with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Measure brown rice syrup, peanut butter and flavoring into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30-40 seconds, then stir until combined.

IMG_6010.jpg4. Stir the rice cereal, nuts, fruit and other dry ingredients into the bowl with the oats and then pour the wet mixture over, mixing all together with a spatula into a sticky, crunchy mass.

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IMG_6011.jpg5. Immediately press mixture into prepared pan and flatten with your hands. Lightly dust surface of bars with sea salt, if using. Allow to set up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long).

6. Cut into squares and wrap individually to prevent sticking together. For best results, store in the refrigerator.

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Tempeh Meatloaf II

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Image courtesy Chef Melanie daPonte

I don’t hear much talk of tempeh these days–but lest it be forgotten, tempeh is a wonderful source of protein and texture for those transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Tempeh is made from whole soybeans and is way less processed than tofu, so it is a great plant-based, whole food product.

Over the years, I have tried  more than a few vegan loaf recipes and I keep coming back to the same few over and over. These are the ones that make it to the blog.

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I don’t know what’s taken me so long to add this one. It comes from the Everyday Happy Herbivore Cookbook by Lindsay Nixon. It holds together exceptionally well, due to the addition of quick-cooking oats (which also makes it gluten-free, if you buy the gf certified oats).

It has a great flavor and I like to add a tomato glaze, making it more like the kind I grew up with. There is no added oil, so that’s also another plus. This loaf makes great sandwiches as well.

Enjoy!

Tempeh Meatloaf

1 c instant oats

1 8-oz pkg tempeh, shredded, using a cheese grater

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp yellow mustard

2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1⁄2 tsp browning sauce (optional)

Tomato glaze (optional, see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a standard bread pan and set aside. Mix all ingredients together and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to the bread pan and pack it down tightly, making sure it gets into the corners. Top with tomato glaze, if using. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until firm and golden. Let cool for 10 minutes before trying to pry it out and cutting slices. The longer you wait, the better it will hold.

Tomato Glaze

2 tbsp ketchup

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup

Blend together and spread over top of loaf before baking

Images courtesy Chef Melanie daPonte

Muesli!!

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For some reason I’ve always believed Muesli was this mysteriously complicated cereal made in Europe using some super-secret old-world technique, unapproachable by the average person. Like maybe they hand-rolled the oats or something. Why else would the little box offered by that one brand perch so stoically high on the grocery shelf all by itself with its exorbitant price tag?

Turns out, Muesli is nothing but naked and un-toasted granola! This, in my mind, makes it an easier and healthier choice than granola. Why? And don’t get me wrong–I am a true granola lover from way back before it was cool–but, you know and I know even homemade granola can be full of sugar and sometimes full of fat. And sometimes, even full of sodium.

But this. This is not that. It is a bowl full of whole foods, in their natural state, completely unadorned. No sugar, no added fat or salt. Just clean, pure energy.

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Cooking a serving of oatmeal in the microwave takes 2-3 minutes. Putting together this cereal takes about the same amount of time and you have breakfast for the week!

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That’s it! No soaking, no cooking, no need to heat up the oven. This recipe is completely adjustable to your tastes, with an endless variety of nut, seed, fruit and cereal combinations.

Yield:  10 cups (that’s 10 1-cup servings or 13 3/4 cup servings). Store refrigerated.

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I topped my first bowl of homemade muesli with fresh chopped strawberries and non-dairy milk.

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There is so much going on in this bowl!! So many textures and flavors. It’s crunchy and chewy, sweet and tangy from the fruit and then the little edge of cacao nib influence is a pleasant surprise against the fresh berries.

A healthy and delicious breakfast to take you through the morning feeling satisfied and energized!

 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

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The best part about this recipe is it’s simplicity. Many gluten-free recipes read like a science project, but this one has only a couple ingredients you may not already have in the pantry:  brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour (besan).

I could hardly wait for the muffins to cool. The aroma was heavenly, like spicy gingerbread. The flavor and texture did not disappoint, either. Sweet and flavorful, these muffins make a perfect snack or a light breakfast.

Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins

recipe courtesy Allyson Kramer (www.allysonkramer.com)

  • 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons besan/chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour (reg. works too)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375 ºF. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners, or grease a non-stick pan lightly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, olive oil, vanilla extract, molasses, salt and sugar until well blended. Gradually add in the rest of the ingredients, one by one in the order given. Mix vigorously using a whisk about 100 strokes, or until very well mixed.

Drop 1/3 cup batter into each muffin tin and place onto middle rack of the oven. Bake 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Depression-Era Chocolate Cake with Cocoa Buttercream

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During the Great Depression, a time of severe worldwide economic struggle–which took place in the 1930’s and lasted almost a decade– many couldn’t afford milk, eggs or butter, so recipes abound from this period that are accidentally vegan.

I came across this recipe for chocolate cake and just had to give it a try. I made a couple  small tweaks, adding a tablespoon of crushed espresso powder to bump up the cocoa flavor and spread raspberry jam between the layers for that little extra something special.

I also chose the classic Hershey’s Cocoa One-Bowl Frosting Recipe from the side of the cocoa can, handed down by my grandmother when I was a little girl learning to bake in her kitchen. I simply substituted Earth Balance buttery baking sticks for the butter to veganize.

Depression-Era Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
10 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa (or 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp)
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 cups cold water

Instructions:
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl then add the wet and combine until completely mixed. Pour into two 8 or 9 inch greased and floured cake pans and bake at 350-degrees for 30 minutes.

 

 

Notes: Careful not to over-bake. Check cake for doneness at around 25 minutes by sticking a toothpick in the center.

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Don’t skimp on the jam!!

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Also, this cake freezes really well. Cut into individual portions and freeze on a sheet tray, then transfer to covered container or ziplock bags. Easy!

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Tofu Vindaloo

This is a spicy Indian dish I decided to prepare without any added oil. It turned out  tasty and well balanced, served with a fluffy timbale of fragrant jasmine rice.

Tofu Vindaloo

Recipe adapted from the cookbook,

“Vegan Planet” by Robin Robertson

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1/1/2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

3 tablespoons water

One 16 oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained and diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1/2 large carrot, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch-thick half-moons

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced

One 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 cup water, or more as needed

Method:

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, ginger and spices with 1 tablespoon of water. Process until smooth and set aside. Very lightly spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium high. Add the diced tofu and sear until nicely browned. This may take up to 10 minutes. Move the tofu around carefully to brown evenly. Remove tofu from skillet and set aside. Season with salt and pepper.  Add 2 tablespoons water to the pan and heat until bubbly. Add onions and carrot, cover, and cook until softened. About 5 minutes. Add red pepper, cover, and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and juice and 1 cup water and bring to boil.

Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add the peas and tofu and heat through. This sauce may be served chunky or smooth. If you prefer a smooth sauce, use an immersion blender before adding the peas and tofu.

Buffalo Chickpea Tenders

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Okay, I’ve really done it this time! I know there are vegan variations on chicken wings and I’ve tried them all. But this. This is different.

What I did:

I took Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s tried and true recipe for chickpea cutlets and formed them into tenders and served them with homemade buffalo and ranch sauces.

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Here’s what I like best about this version. The texture. These tenders have a real “chew” without being dry along with an excellent flavor that actually tastes kind of like its traditional counterpart.

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Oh, and did I mention they are so, so easy to prepare? Thank you once again, oh mighty Isa!!

Chickpea Cutlets

Oh, and in case you don’t have recipes for buffalo and ranch sauces, she’s got that covered, too. These are recipes in my regular rotation:

Isa’s Buffalo and Ranch Sauce Recipes

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Vegan Mushroom Gravy

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Low-fat gravy?? How could that be? How about no-fat gravy? This gravy is so smooth and savory, but also light, therefore you can really feel good about pouring it over your favorite loaf or patty, mashers, biscuits or rice.

I am a firm believer in simplicity. I don’t get too fussy with small details and have little patience for long-winded recipes. So, I love The Happy Herbivore cookbook by Lindsay Nixon. The recipes are quick and easy, vegan and low-fat. Best of all, I downloaded the book to my Kindle for only five bucks!

Everyday Gravy

from “The Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon

1 cup water

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, divided

1/4 teaspoon of each: garlic powder, onion powder, ground ginger

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered

1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1/2 cup soy milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the first five ingredients in a non-stick skillet and bring to a boil. Add the garlic, mushrooms and Italian seasoning and saute until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes.

Shrooms

Soup Magic: Hearty Lentil

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Lentil is one of my favorite high-protein meal soups. It’s simple and low maintenance, and comes together in just a few minutes.

I enjoy cooking soup on the stove—that aromatic slow-simmering, stirring, tending, nurturing activity.

But, during the work week I usually don’t have that kind of time. The last thing I want to read in a crockpot recipe is the direction to sauté vegetables before adding them to the crockpot. If I had time to do that, well I would probably take it all the way on the stove!

Instead, I left my crock pot in charge this morning. By lunch time I had a rich, satisfying stew, and lots of it. I think about what a prepared cup of soup costs, about $5. For way less than that, I could feed a family of four, dinner sized portions of this hearty, healthful, tasty meal. Just saying…

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Hearty Lentil Soup

1 ½ cups raw brown lentils, rinsed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

2 or 3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 or 3 stalks celery, diced

Handful of celery tops (optional)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Big sprig of fresh thyme (or 2 tsp. ground)

5-6 cups vegetable broth (or water)

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

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Prepare all ingredients and add to crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Stir and check for seasonings. Depending on your broth, you may wish to add salt. With a pair of tongs or a fork, fish out and discard the bay leaves, thyme stems and celery tops, if used. Add a generous grind of pepper and add broth if needed, depending on how “soupy” you like it.

Yield:  4-6 big servings

Indian Curry Rice with Peas

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Sometimes cooking is the most enjoyable when I really don’t have to cook, but I just want to. Certain dishes say comfort to me and this is one of them. This recipe is not only quick and easy but it’s also cheap and comes together in less than 30 minutes.

Indian Curry Rice with Peas

(Servings: 6, or so)

  • 1 med Onion, yellow, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp. Garlic, minced, heaping
  • Handful shredded carrots (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. Oil
  • 1 cup white rice, Jasmine or Basmati or long grain
  • 1 ½ tsp. Curry powder
  • 1 cup Peas, frozen
  • 1 3/4 cups Vegetable broth (or water)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Saute onions and garlic. Add a handful of shredded carrots (optional).

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Add rice and coat with oil, stir. Add curry to coat and reduce a bit.

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Stir in vegetable broth (or water) and bring to a low boil, then reduce to simmer.

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Cover and steam for 12-15 minutes.

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Remove lid and add peas. Drape with towel and steam, off heat 5 minutes. This will warm the peas and they will keep their color and also bring down the dish temperature and stop the cooking process.

Fluff with fork.

Check salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

 

Sloppy Joe Sliders

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Here’s a new enlightened version of an old classic that is just perfect served in the traditional buns or over a bed of fresh-cooked grains.

Sloppy Joe Sliders

1 cup Cooked Lentils
1 cup Tempeh, crumbled
¼ Onion, large, chopped
½ med Green pepper, chopped
14 ounces Tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon Garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon Salt
1/16 teaspoon Black pepper
6 Slider Buns

Method:

1.Saute peppers and onions until soft. Add tomato sauce and seasonings to blend well. Add tempeh and cooked lentils and simmer until flavors are well incorporated, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt or sugar.
2.Portion 1-2 tablespoons per slider and serve with sweet gherkin pickles as a garnish, if desired.

Vegan Baking Powder Biscuits

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Fresh-baked biscuits are a rare treat at my house. They remind me of breakfasts at Nana’s. I sometimes do half whole wheat flour, just to bump up the nutritional value a bit.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. Earth Balance buttery baking sticks, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp. shortening

1 cup soy milk, plus 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Method:

Preheat oven to 475 F.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.

Cut the buttery stick and shortening into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork until mixture is crumbly.

Add the soy milk and mix until just combined, do not beat. Dump mixture onto floured surface and light press it out into 1 inch thickness.

With a biscuit cutter, cut dough into circles and place on baking sheet with sides touching. I like to dab a bit of extra buttery on the tops for a crispy brown surface.

Go ahead and press any extra dough out lightly and cut again, but I wouldn’t do it a third time. Just add the scraps alongside the pretty biscuits. They make for good eating, too!

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Enjoy!

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Sesame Grilled Tofu with Sichuan Vegetables

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Here’s a quick and easy weeknight treat! I do not own a wok and still refuse to buy one. However, I have learned to make do–by creating my Asian-style meal as components and bringing them together in one perfectly cooked meal.

prep

Sesame Grilled Tofu

recipe courtesy “Isa Does It’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, pressed and sliced into 8 planks

1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

3 tbsp. low-sodium tamari or soy sauce

grill

Press tofu slices into marinade and flip over to cover all surface area. Marinate while grill heats.

With a tabletop grill on the SEAR setting, grill marinated tofu for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Sichuan Vegetables

recipe adapted from Veg News magazine

2-3 cups assorted vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces or matchsticks (peppers, carrots, celery, mushrooms)

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari

1 tbsp. dry sherry (or mirin)

1 tbsp. Chinese black vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)

1 tbsp. water

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 tsp. natural sugar

1 tsp. chile-garlic sauce, to taste

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)

1 tsp. cornstarch

*If you have a micro-wave steamer, steam vegetables about about 3 minutes, until crisp-tender and set aside. Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients except cornstarch in a skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch with water to make a slurry and whisk gently into sauce until thick. Add vegetables and grilled tofu, cut into small triangles. Simmer until heated through.

*If you don’t have a micro-steamer, go ahead and stir-fry vegetables in a skillet or wok until crisp-tender then follow sauce instructions.

Dan Dan Noodles

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Nowadays you can pretty much Google search any recipe, type the word ‘vegan’ in front of it and come up with something good. I do this as a matter of course when I have something in mind I really want to make.

Browsing noodle dish recipes for ease of execution and simplicity of ingredients, I came across this creative and healthful new addition to my repertoire on Caroline Phelps website, Pickled Plum.

This spicy Asian noodle recipe is super-simple to make. After cooking and draining my thin, whole wheat spaghetti, I blitzed the sauce ingredients in the blender. Sauce done. Everything after that went super-fast.

IMG_5800.jpgBrowning the mushrooms and celery over high heat.

IMG_5802.jpgI added thawed edamame for texture and protein along with the scallions.

IMG_5806.jpgWarming the sauce with noodles and spinach. I used almond butter instead of peanut.

IMG_5808.jpgIt all comes together!

This is a good veggie-ful weeknight dinner option. It will go even faster if you make the sauce and cook the noodles ahead, like maybe the night before, or use leftover spaghetti from Italian night.

Find the full recipe HERE

 

 

Vegan Taco “Beef”

IMG_6132Hey, I can’t believe I haven’t shown up on the blog with this recipe until now. This one, from my home kitchen recipe box is always a big hit, whether featured in burritos, tacos, nachos, salads…the list goes on. Simple, simple ingredients, straight from the cabinet is what I like best about this tasty and quick to prepare recipe.

 

Vegan Taco “Beef”

Ingredients:

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1 tbsp. cooking oil

2 cups frozen vegan crumbles (Gardein is my favorite)

3/4 cup water

Spice blend:

2 tbsp. chili powder (mild or spicy, your call)

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic (or 1/4 tsp. garlic granules)

3/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)

Method:

Saute onion in oil over medium heat until translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in spice blend and sauté   for 30 seconds. Add water and crumbles stirring well to combine. Cover and lower heat. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally  until heated through and water is absorbed. Taste for seasoning, then serve hot. This stores well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

 

“Meaty” Grilled Tofu

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Through much trial and error over the years– I have come to a great appreciation and respect for the humble soybean curd with its versatility and its ability to absorb flavors and even change texture with the right method of preparation.

Start Here:

  1. Buy the right tofu. This seems like a no-brainer, but  it can be confusing, with all the brands and styles: silken, firm, extra-firm, etc. For this recipe, we need to start with the firmest tofu we can find, packed in water, found in the refrigerator section. If you stumble upon the Woodstock brand, extra-firm, know that you have found the holy grail of tofu. This brand is available only in select stores in my area and in limited quantity, so when I find it I buy it up!

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2. Dry, dry, dry! The secret to good texture with grilled tofu is to press out as much water as possible. Either press it with a pressing apparatus, or wrap it in paper towels and lay a cutting board on top, then add some weight to it. I have used heavy books, canned goods, even hand-weights. Let the tofu press for a good 20 minutes or so.

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3. Fabricate! Cut the tofu in the shape that fits the dish you are making. For grilling, obviously, you want nice strips that fit on the grill and not too thick, so as to absorb the flavorings. I cut the block in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again and so on, until I have 8 planks

4. Marinate! This step is crucial. If you want flavor in your tofu, you have to apply it yourself. My go-to marinade for grilling is 3 tbsp. tamari sauce to 1 tbsp. sesame oil. Simple and delicious! When you press the tofu well, it will be thirsty for the marinade, so you won’t need to soak it too long. Twenty minutes is plenty of time for this one, although, you can marinate longer or overnight if you like.

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5. Grill! Get your grill searing hot and you will have a nice, brown sealed outside on your tofu. You can also fry in a dry non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, for a crisp, brown exterior.

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6. Optional step. Another way to alter the texture of tofu is to wrap it after pressing and freeze it until solid, then thaw it out. Press the liquid out again, then marinate and grill or pan-fry. This gives the tofu more of a chewy and porous texture. It’s worth a try. I like it both ways.

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

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These tasty sausage crumbles are versatile, lending a satisfying umami flavor and a chewy  bite to gravy, sauces, rice or other grain dishes–even pizza!

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

adapted from a recipe by Lindsay Nixon

Ingredients:

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 8-oz pkg tempeh

2 tbsp low-sodium soy or tamari sauce

1 tsp rubbed sage (not powdered)

1 tsp onion powder (granulated)

1 tsp garlic powder (granulated)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

dash of black pepper

1/2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Grind fennel seeds into a fine powder using mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder and set aside.

Shred tempeh using a cheese grater and mix with soy or tamari sauce and spices (add fennel last)

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat then add tempeh mixture to saute, stirring constantly until browned and crisp.

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Use immediately or store refrigerated in airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Note: You can adjust the seasonings, such as leaving out the sage and adding basil and a pinch of crushed red pepper for an Italian flavor. For a sweeter breakfast style sausage, add a bit of maple syrup.

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Tofu Scramble

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Tofu scramble, when I reflect on my day to day cooking, is probably the recipe I cook most often at home and for clients. It’s quick, easy and versatile. Delicious on its own, it also lends itself well to sandwiches, burritos, casseroles…you name it.

And this recipe is SO tasty and good it’s a staple on my  menus. I think you will agree this recipe is the best!

Scrambled Tofu

recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Spice blend:
2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with your fingers

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (or more, to taste)

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Fresh black pepper to taste

First stir the spice blend together in a small cup. Add water and mix. Set aside.

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Saute the garlic in olive oil for about a minute. Break the tofu apart into bite sized pieces and saute for about 10 minutes, using a spatula to stir often. Get under the tofu when you are stirring, scrape the bottom and don’t let it stick to the pan, that is where the good, crispy stuff is. Use a thin metal spatula to get the job done, a wooden or plastic one won’t really cut it. The tofu should get browned on at least one side, but you don’t need to be too precise about it. The water should cook out of it and not collect too much at the bottom of the ban. If that is happening, turn the heat up and let the water evaporate.

Add the spice blend and mix to incorporate. Add the nutritional yeast and fresh black pepper. Cook for about 5 more minutes. Serve warm.

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Vegan Brunch

 

Carrot-Ginger Bisque

If you’re ready to get back on the good foot after the holiday indulgences of the past few weeks, here’s a place to start. A nutritious, light yet satisfying soup of simmered carrots and onions, finished with ginger and coriander. And so easy to make–you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now!

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Carrot Ginger Bisque

¾ tbsp. Olive oil
2 med Onion
4 cups Vegetable broth
4 large Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. Ginger, fresh, finely grated
¾ tsp. Cinnamon
¾ tsp. Coriander

Method:

1. Saute onions about 5 minutes. Add broth and 1/2 cup of water, more or less–carrots and half of the ginger.. bring to boil, reduce & simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes until carrots are tender.
2.Remove pot from heat and let cool for one hour, covered. Puree with immersion blender  (or Vitamix) until smooth, adding remaining  ginger, cinnamon and coriander. Taste for salt and pepper and add more water if needed, returning to pot if necessary to heat through. Finish with parsley (optional).

Soup Magic: Spicy Black Bean

bowl

Speaking of plant-based on the cheap: Here’s an idea, check your local thrift store for a crockpot (they run about $5.00-$10.00) instead of buying an expensive cooking device. I have two. One for meals and one for big-batch bean cooking. I like the “set it and forget it” aspect of slow-cooking and the way it fills the house with such wonderful aromas!

This soup didn’t even require any vegetable chopping! Can it get any easier?

I fired up the crockpot and added a few ingredients and let it cook on low for four hours. Dinner. Done.

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Spicy Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups cooked black beans

3 cups vegetable broth

16 ounces of your favorite tomato salsa

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Method:

Place all ingredients in crockpot and cook, covered, on low for 4 hours. Feel free to add a cup or so of frozen corn or other vegetables near the end of the cook time. Make it your own!

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Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Vegan Pancakes 101

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A pancake recipe is meant to be simple, created from staples, easy to pull together at a moment’s notice, provided you have a mixing bowl and a hot griddle.

Have you ever searched for a basic recipe online and found every variation or so-called simple recipes calling for oddball items that send you out to the store when you had no intention of going?

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The following recipe is as basic as it gets. The best part is the ingredients are easy to substitute. Oil means any oil, flour means any flour, sugar means any sugar. Now it may require a bit of adjustment on your end. Don’t hesitate to add a bit more liquid, or to taste the batter and adjust the flavors before baking. It’s your pancake!!

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If you follow this recipe exactly, I can guarantee a fluffy, tender, whole wheat pancake that tastes great with or without toppings. Feel free to create your own custom version!

Vegan Whole Wheat Pancakes

1 cup stone-ground whole wheat flour

1 tablespoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Method:

Whisk together dry ingredients. Stir in milk and oil and mix until blended. Add more milk if batter is too thick. With a 2/3 measuring cup, scoop out batter and pour onto an oiled, pre-heated griddle (cast-iron if possible). Bake until large bubbles appear on surface of cake. Flip gently and cook other side until golden brown. Yield: 4 large pancakes.

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The Clean 15

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The Environmental Work Group recently updated their list of the cleanest produce, which tests show the least amount of pesticide residues.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzes USDA data on the chemicals found on grocery store produce. Then, the watchdog organization compiles it into an easy-to-digest list of fruits and veggies that tended to contain the most and least pesticides in the past year.

EWG’s Clean Fifteen 2019

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Sweet Peas Frozen
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbage
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupes
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew Melons

Weekday workday lunches are a no-brainer when I take a little time out of my Sunday afternoon and pre-make salads. When Monday rolls around it’s grab and go.

I prep the same veggies pretty consistently with the protein being the variable. Beans are always an easy go-to addition. I like firm, meaty kidney beans, pintos and cannellinis. Sometimes I add chopped up chickpea patties, grilled tofu, tempeh or burgers from the night before. That’s the wild card that keeps it interesting for me.

Veggies

  1. Romaine or leaf lettuce washed, chopped and dried (I use a salad spinner)
  2. Fresh spinach leaves (optional)
  3. Cucumbers or zucchini, chopped or sliced
  4. Red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  5. Carrots, shredded or diced
  6. Celery, sliced or chopped
  7. Red onion, diced or sliced

You’ll notice that most of the veggies on the list are affordable and easy to find year-round. That’s the idea. No excuses.

Often I will make homemade VINAIGRETTE which is simple, fresh and also cheap!

Knowing I am getting a healthy dose of fresh vitamins, fiber, water and antioxidants is one less thing to be concerned about during a busy period of days. And there is never a week that goes by that I am not glad I took that bit of time to set myself up for success!

 

 

 

Why Wait?

 

 

My usual lunch at home: veggie salad with black beans, miso-tahini dressing, rice cake, hot tea.

My father-in-law suffered a cardiac event right after Christmas. One of his arteries was almost fully blocked. He is not overweight, he doesn’t smoke or drink. He maintains a high level of physical activity, even wears a pedometer. But he does consume meat, almost every day.

My mother’s carotod artery is 50% blocked on both sides. Over the past two decades she has been on high blood pressure medication, and now she takes a statin pill every day. She is about 25 pounds over her healthy weight, doesn’t exercise regularly and eats meat and dairy every day.


We went to dinner at my in-laws’ home on New Year’s Day. The talk was mostly of the upcoming heart surgery. A valve replacement for Pop. My mother-in-law hands me a sheet of paper:

“I know you’ll be happy to see this…” she smiles, and waits for my reaction.

Where did you get this?” I ask incredulously.

“From the cardiologist,” She says.

I give a big whoop. “Yes!! Finally…it’s starting to make sense.”

Whether they adopt a new diet remains to be seen, but over dinner Pops asked me about how I replace meat in meals. Although they know I am a personal chef and that we have both been vegan for the past 8 years, and they always cook a pan of roasted vegetables when they invite us to dinner, they NEVER ask about what I cook. So, I see the questions as a positive sign.


There are so many important environmental and ethical reasons to adopt a plant-based diet, and I strongly support them– but my main goals are to maintain a healthy weight and to prevent chronic disease. So far it’s working. Neither of us have any health problems and neither of us take any medications. We rarely even catch a cold. And we are both over 50.

Here’s the other side:

I am very impressed with this handout. It really marks a breakthrough, I think, in de-stigmatizing veganism and helping to show that a whole food, plant-based diet is not a trend. It is a solid (and simple) healthful way of eating.

But, why wait until a health crisis forces us to shift to a more mindful way of eating? Why not start right now, where we are, in this moment–taking steps to improve our health and the way we feel today?

Black Bean Fajita Bowl with Cilantro-Lime Chimichurri

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I had an opportunity recently to work with a local vegan restaurant, helping them come up with new dishes to feature. This is one of the best-selling specials to come out of this project. The chimichurri and the crispy tortilla strips really elevate this simple, healthy dish into something extraordinarily delicious!

BLACK BEAN FAJITA BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

8 OZ BELL PEPPERS, MIX, RED, GREEN, YELLOW
2 OZ ONION, RED, JULIENNED
⅔ CUP BLACK BEANS, COOKED
2 CUPS QUINOA, COOKED
2 TBSP OLIVE OIL
2 CORN TORTILLAS, JULIENNED
½ cup CHIMICHURRI (recipe follows)
2 tbsp. CILANTRO, FRESH, CHOPPED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE CHIMICHURRI AND SET ASIDE.:
2.PREPARE BEANS AND QUINOA, KEEPING WARM FOR SERVICE.:
3.FRY JULIENNED TORTILLA STRIPS IN HOT OIL UNTIL CRISP. DRAIN AND SPRINKLE LIGHTLY WITH SALT.:
4.SAUTE/STIR-FRY BELL PEPPERS OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT UNTIL COLOR BRIGHTENS AND THEY SOFTEN SLIGHTLY. ADD ONIONS AND CONTINUE TO SAUTE UNTIL TRANSLUSCENT. :
5.PLACE 1 CUP QUINOA IN A BOWL. TOP WITH FAJITA PEPPERS AND ONIONS, FOLLOWED BY BLACK BEANS.:
6.DRIZZLE DISH WITH CHIMICHURRI AND GARNISH WITH TORTILLA STRIPS AND CILANTRO.:

CILANTRO-LIME CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

½ CUP CILANTRO, FRESH
¼ CUP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF
¼ CUP OLIVE OIL
⅛ CUP LIME JUICE
1 TSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP AGAVE NECTAR
¼ TSP CUMIN
½ TSP SEA SALT
⅛ TSP BLACK PEPPER, GROUND

PUREE ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER. USE IMMEDIATELY OR STORE COVERED IN REFRIGERATOR.

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Spicy Red Bean and Tofu Jambalaya

IMG_3393This dish can be put together in 30 minutes or less but tastes like it’s been simmering for hours. My secret is a homemade cajun spice mix I always keep on hand for a quick kick of flavor! You can also use Emeril’s Essence right off the shelf.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun spice mix, homemade or store-bought (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced (reserve 1/4 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced medium
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (or 3/4 cup canned, undrained)
  • 1 14-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. Earth Balance non-dairy margarine
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • Hot cayenne pepper sauce (optional)

Prepare the tofu. Cut block horizontally across to make two slabs. Sprinkle both sides liberally with 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning. Sear in a hot pan coated lightly with a bit of canola oil, about 5 minutes on each side (cast iron is ideal). Remove from pan and set aside. Cut into bite-sized cubes or strips.

Add canola oil to the pan and sauté scallions, celery and bell pepper until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add tomato, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning and margarine, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to medium low. Toss in the rice and beans and heat through. Lastly, add the tofu back into the pan and stir occasionally until heated through. Adjust seasoning, adding more Cajun spice as desired. Garnish with reserved scallions. Serve hot sauce on the side.

Cajun Spice Mix

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container.

Cauliflower-Kale Soup

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A tasty way to get your greens! This  creamy, satisfying soup is a client favorite and only takes about 20 minutes to prepare!

Cauliflower- Kale Soup

Source: Prevention Magazine
(4 servings)

2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 Onion, diced
2 clove Garlic
8 cups Vegetable bouillon
4 cups Cauliflower, florets
4 cups Kale, shredded
½ teaspoon Crushed red pepper (optional)

Method:

Saute onion in oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add broth and cauli, cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add kale and cook until wilted about 4 minutes. Puree mixture until smooth. Season with crushed red pepper if desired.

John Legend’s Chili, Plant-Based Version

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I came across this recipe for chili in Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, “Cravings”. I decided to follow the recipe exactly (with a slight variation) just to find out what ole John is up to in the kitchen when he’s not at the piano working on another chart-topping single.

It’s super-simple if you’ve ever cooked a pot of soup. The recipe follows what I call standard procedure: saute the aromatics and vegetables, add seasonings and liquid, simmer and adjust seasonings. In this case I always save the beans for last, which I have pre-cooked, so they don’t fall apart.

I substituted Gardein meatless crumbles (but you could also sub cooked lentils) for the ground beef in John’s recipe and I would suggest taking it easy on the seasoning salt, depending on how much salt is in your tomato sauce. I also cut the original recipe’s measurement of 1 teaspoon ground red pepper down to 1/4 teaspoon, but you do you 🙂

 

John Legend’s Chili

1 1/2 – 2 cups Gardein Meatless Crumbles
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp. seasoning salt (preferably Lawry’s)
3 tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 tbsp. garlic,minced
2 cans tomato sauce, 14.5 ounces each

2 cups water
2 cans Kidney beans, 14.5 ounces each
2 tbsp. brown sugar, light

Saute onions, mushrooms and garlic in a bit of oil or water.

Add seasonings, crumbles, tomato sauce and water. Bring to simmer until thickened.

Add beans and taste, adding more salt or spice as desired.

 

 

 

Chana Masala

Image courtesy Chef Melanie daPonte

Image courtesy Chef Melanie daPonte

There will always be Indian food in my weekly meal rotation. Why? Because it’s delicious and nutritious, and need not be spicy to be enjoyed, although I do like a little fire myself!

This is a perfect transitional dish for those curious to try Indian flavors. It’s a simple, yet flavorful tomato sauce with chickpeas and warm Indian spices, brightened by a splash of lemon juice and fresh cilantro. What’s not to love?

Here’s the recipe generously shared by fellow blogger, Greenbeekitchen:

Chana Masala