Raw Lasagna Rolls

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Tasty, easy and healthy—these rolls are an exciting twist on a classic Italian dish. Having just recently begun my exploration of raw foods, I admit I was skeptical at first. However, I am so pleased with the intense flavors of foods in their natural state when you have the right mix of ingredients! Now, it would seem a shame to cook this dish and wash out the flavor and texture.

This raw marinara sauce is so flavorful–it just pops! With the creamy smooth nut ricotta filling and the thin wrapper of zucchini these rolls make a perfectly delicious snack or light meal.

RAW LASAGNA ROLLS

from www.nakedavocado.com

Two Bean and Bulgar Chili

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I came across this recipe, while sifting through a drawer. It was a page torn from one of those little paperback supermarket cookbooks at the register called “Meatless Meals”.

There is a handwritten note beside the recipe, “Steve’s favorite 2005”. This little memory jog took me right back to that year when I first met the man who would become my husband, though neither of us knew it yet.

I am really glad this recipe was Steve’s favorite back in 2005, because that was long before we  became vegan. What an evolution together, over time, to a more compassionate lifestyle, a deeper enjoyment of food and a more humble appreciation for nature.

I am ever grateful for my husband’s love and support on my personal and professional journey, and I can’t imagine a better partner with whom to share the ride.

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Two-Bean and Bulgar Chili

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups water

1/2 cup uncooked bulgar wheat

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

3 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

Method:

Saute in oil over medium-high heat, carrot, bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 4 minutes.

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Stir in remaining ingredients, except beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 40 minutes, until bulgar is tender and flavors are blended, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

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Add drained beans and simmer 5 minutes until heated through. Serve with your favorite cornbread.

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Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

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Soup is a comforting food. It warms and soothes me, no matter the weather. Soup and a sandwich, soup and salad, soup and crackers, croutons or bread. It can be a healthy, filling and economical addition to any menu. This is a delicious, simple to make recipe that uses just a handful of ingredients.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

adapted from a recipe by Allison Rivers Samson

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon vegan margarine

1 cup chopped onions

3 1/2 cups vegetable broth

28 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil chiffonade

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Saute.2

Saute the onion in a 4 quart pot in the oil and margarine until translucent (about 7 minutes).

Simmer.2

Add tomatoes, broth and maple syrup. Bring to a low boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Grind

In a dry food processor, grind cashews to a fine powder, then blend with water and vinegar. Add the mixture to the pot and blend well with an immersion blender or (carefully) in a high speed tabletop blender, in batches. Simmer another five minutes or so, stirring until heated through.

Chiffonade

Taste for salt. Depending on the tomatoes and vegetable broth you use, you may not need to add any salt. Sprinkle with black pepper and basil chiffonade just before serving.

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Thai Curry in a Hurry

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I just love when a dinner idea sparks my imagination and I happen to have everything on hand to create exactly what I envision. Inspired by my favorite Thai restaurant, I set out to make a sweet, spicy, creamy curry filled with fresh, delicious veggies.

This dish is quick and easy to prepare and works great with green or red curry pastes.  And it only takes a few minutes if you cook the rice ahead to warm at service time.

Thai Coconut Curry with Vegetables

¼ cup Thai green or red curry paste
4 ounces Mushrooms
4 ounces Carrot, sliced thinly
8 ounces Broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 Red bell pepper, cut into chunks

1/2 cup frozen peas

Note:  Substitute any vegetables for those listed.

13 ounces Coconut milk
1 tbsp. sweetener (optional, but tasty)
¾ cup Vegetable broth
2 tsp. Tamari or soy sauce

Squeeze of fresh lime juice (optional)
¼ cup Cilantro, for garnish
2 cups brown rice, cooked

Method:

Take your hard vegetables, like carrots, celery, onions, peppers, broccoli and gently simmer them in the broth until crisp-tender. Now add all the other sauce ingredients and the soft veggies like mushrooms and peas. Bring it up to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more soy sauce for salty-ness if desired, a squeeze of lime for a mild sour influence or more sweetener, if desired. Balance the flavors. Finish with chopped cilantro.

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Note: If you have an Asian grocery in your town, check out their curry pastes. The one on the left costs $1.49 and tasted better than the one on the right from my local Whole Foods Market at $4.00! A little spicier, but hey, I like it that way!

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.

Soup Magic: Homestyle Split Pea

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Okay, I know ’tis the season, but we can’t live on vegan holiday cookies and peppermint bark! Put something warm and nourishing in your belly with this super-easy soup recipe.

When I think of split pea soup, I think simplicity. A  savory stew of peas, tender chunks of carrots and celery with just a hint of onion and garlic.

This recipe is simple as simple can be. I load the ingredients in the crockpot on my way out the door in the morning, and a few hours later I have a thick, hearty soup. That’s magic.

Magic Split Pea Soup

1 pound green split peas, rinsed

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 large garlic clove, finely minced

6 cups vegetable broth

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 Method:

Just pour everything into the crockpot, cover and cook on low for 3 ½ – 4 hours. Check for salt and add seasonings to taste. Yield: 6 – 8 servings.

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Thai Red Lentil Chili

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This is my new favorite stew! Imagine spicy smoky chili flavor mingled with sweet creamy coconut milk, hearty kidney beans, lentils and sweet potatoes. This dish is tasty, nutritious and filling. Oh, and did I mention…it’s super quick and easy to make!

This is one that I think most non-vegans can enjoy as well. Veggie stews and chili are a great introduction to vegan cuisine. Today’s chili was just one of the five entrees I cooked for my client’s weekly meals.

IMG_1938 I enjoy cooking vegan and sharing wholesome food with others. I love my job!

Thai Red Lentil Chili

Recipe courtesy of Post Punk Kitchen

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced medium

1/2 red bell pepper, diced medium

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. chili powder

3/4 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks

1/2 cup red lentils

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups vegetable broth

14.5 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp. Thai red curry paste

8 ounces coconut milk

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Method:

Saute onions and pepper in oil with a pinch of salt, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute more. Add chili powder, sweet potatoes, lentils, salt and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil

Let boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When lentils are cooked and sweet potatoes are tender, add the remaining ingredients and heat through.

Taste for seasoning, top with cilantro and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

French Onion Soup

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They said it couldn’t be done…but here it is, a veganized version of the classic French onion soup!

This recipe comes from Allison Rivers Samson, owner and operator of Allison’s Gourmet Online Vegan Bakery and Confectionary. She is famous for her ultra-decadent gourmet vegan chocolates and other sweets, but it doesn’t end there.

Allison is also the author of the “Veganize It” column for VegNews magazine.  Her recipes feature veganized versions of many comfort food favorites, like macaroni and cheese, lasagna, burgers–even Caesar salad! These recipes and so much more can be found here on her blog. I am a big fan of Allison’s work, both sweet and savory!

 Here’s a basic rundown of this deceptively simple, yet impressively elegant recipe:

Slice

Slice onions very thinly and sweat them in a large stock pot with a bit of salt.

Prep

The most critical step in this recipe is the caramelization of the onions. It is important to allow the onions to really cook down nice and brown. This is going to provide a very rich flavor to the soup.


Carmelize

Once the onions are done, the pan gets deglazed with a bit of white wine then vegetable stock and seasonings are added and the soup simmers for a few minutes.

Soup

Top with a toasted vegan cheese French bread slice and serve immediately!

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Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Farro (soy free, gluten-free option)

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This is a fun, easy, delicious whole foods meal–elegant enough for guests, but simple enough to whip up on a weeknight. Feel free to substitute rice for the farro, but you don’t know what you’re missing!

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Farro (or brown rice for gf option)

adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine recipe

6 4-inch-diameter portobello mushrooms, stemmed
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 leeks, white and pale green parts thinly sliced (2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbs.)
1 ½ Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1 lb. fresh baby spinach
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese substitute, shredded ( I use Daiya)
2 Tbs. pine nuts
1 cup farro
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray. Spray mushroom caps with cooking spray, and sprinkle gill sides with salt and pepper, if desired. Arrange mushrooms gill-sides down on prepared baking sheet. Roast 10 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to soften. Turn mushrooms over.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, and thyme, and sauté 4 minutes, or until leeks are tender. Add 2 large handfuls spinach at a time, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until spinach is wilted and most liquid has evaporated, stirring often.

IMG_1614Stir in cheese and pine nuts. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Fill mushrooms with spinach mixture, mounding on top and packing filling down with hands. Bake 25 minutes, or until filling browns on top and mushrooms are fork-tender.

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3. Cook farro in large saucepan of boiling salted water 20 minutes, or until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. To serve, spoon 1/2 cup farro mixture onto each plate; top with 1 stuffed mushroom.

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Tempeh Picatta

Tempeh Picatta

Tangy lemon and capers in a savory butter garlic sauce over pan-seared tempeh. A very easy, enlightened version of the restaurant classic!

Tempeh has been a staple in Indonesia for over 2000 years. It is a highly nutritious fermented food traditionally made from soybeans and its high protein content makes it a wonderful substitute for meat. It is found next to the tofu in the grocery store. I like to use it in recipes that call for a “meatier” texture like for loaves and faux meatballs.

This recipe makes plenty of sauce, so it goes great with pasta or rice on the side.

Tempeh Picatta

from “Chloe’s Kitchen” by Chloe Coscarelli

1 8-ounce package tempeh, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons vegan margarine

2 tablespoons drained capers

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

*In a large pot, place the tempeh in a steamer basket over enough water to reach the bottom of the basket. Cover and steam for 20 minutes, checking the water level periodically and adding more if needed.

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In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat and cook tempeh on each side for 5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate.

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In the same skillet, heat remaining oil and saute onions until soft. Add garlic and let cook a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly add broth to skillet so the oil doesn’t spatter. Reduce heat to medium and let the broth bubble down for 1 to 2 minutes.

Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl and slowly drizzle it into the skillet, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low. Add lemon juice and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the tempeh back into the pan and turn over to coat and heat through. Turn off the heat and stir in margarine, capers and parsley until margarine is melted and well incorporated. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.

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*Note: Use this steaming method to remove any bitterness from the tempeh. If you use West Soy Brand tempeh, however, bitterness will not be an issue and you can skip this step!

Tofu Pad Thai with Rice Noodles

IMG_1381One of my favorite noodles dishes made vegan and oh so much healthier than take-out! This recipe is super-easy and is adapted from the cookbook “Big Vegan” by Robin Asbell.

Tofu Pad Thai with Rice Noodles

4 ounces Rice noodles
¼ cup Vegetable broth
¼ cup Lime Juice (or less, to taste)
¼ cup Tamari
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Cornstarch
1 ½ teaspoons Canola oil
7 ounces Firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/4 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons Ginger, fresh, minced or grated
1 cloves Minced garlic
1 ½ Scallions, Cut in 1 inch pieces
3 ounces Bean sprouts
2 tablespoons Roasted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons Cilantro

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a cup, mix together the stock, lime juice, tamari, sugar and cornstarch.

2. Heat the oil over high heat, and crumble the tofu into the pan. Add the pepper flakes and fry until the tofu is browned, stirring constantly. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for 1 minute.

3. Meanwhile, soak the noodles in the boiling water for 5-7 minutes, or until al dente. Drain them. Stir and add the stock mixture to the pan with tofu.

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4. Stir and quickly add the noodles, scallions and sprouts. Stir-fry gently until the liquids are thickened and the noodles are coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with the peanuts and cilantro.

Servings/Yield: 2 servings

Sesame Grilled Tofu with Spicy Green Beans

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I am all about a quick and easy dinner idea and here’s one of my favorites. Especially with a couple of pieces of timesaving equipment: microwave steamer and pasta cooker, this dish goes really fast from stove to table.

Sesame Grilled Tofu

3 Tablespoons Tamari or Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon Sesame oil

14 ounce pkg. Extra firm tofu, pressed

Preheat grill or grill pan to sear setting. Slice tofu width-wise in eight equal slices. Mix soy sauce and sesame oil. Marinate tofu while grill is heating. Remove tofu slices and reserve marinade. Grill tofu slices for approximately 6-8 minutes, until brown and nicely marked.

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Meanwhile, boil up your favorite asian noodle: ramen, soba and udon and micro-cook a couple servings of green beans. Heat about 1 tablespoon of light oil on low in a non-stick pan and add 1 tablespoon Tom Yum Paste or Spicy Black Bean Paste. Toss green beans lightly.

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Drain noodles and toss with remaining marinade. Divide into two bowls. Slice tofu and top noodles. Add green beans on top and serve immediately.

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Tofu Black Bean Quesadillas

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I’ve been working pretty hard the past couple of weeks, planning for a big upcoming event. This is where my diet tends to break down and food choices get kind of lax. Too tired to even think about dinner by the time I get to Sunday evening.

Sometimes, however, while rummaging around in the fridge I am hit with that second wind of inspiration. I thought about how I really enjoy scrambled tofu and how easy it is to flavor up with Indian spices and garlic. Tofu absorbs whatever you add to it. So I decided to flavor it with Mexican spices and see if I could make it like taco filling. It worked really well!

 I put it together with whole grain tortillas, leftover black beans, faux cheese, cilantro and green onions. This will make a great filling for tacos, casseroles, nachos or salads too. Dinner crisis averted!

Tofu Taco Filling

1 12-ounce package extra-firm tofu, pressed or squeezed well and crumbled

2 tsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 tsp. cumin

2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. salt ( or less depending on your taste)

1/2 cup water

Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds. Add tofu and sauté for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Add spices, salt and water to combine well. Cook and stir over low heat until moisture is absorbed. Check for seasoning and serve hot.

Soup Magic: Spicy Black Bean

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Another weeknight meal I pulled off with minimal work! 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

Five Minute Asian Peanut Noodles

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Noodles are high on my list of favorite foods. There is something so comforting in the simplicity of just noodles and sauce. And they are fun to eat.

This recipe is quick, quick, quick. You can dress it up or dress it down to its basics. Either way it’s a very simple no-cook sauce with three main ingredients, and easy to remember ratios. That’s my very favorite part.

ingredients

Ingredients:

1/3 of a 10 oz package authentic Chinese dried noodles

1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce ( or liquid aminos)

Dash of garlic powder

Dash of ground ginger

Optional Ingredients:

Shredded cabbage, carrots, scallions or other fresh veggies

Fresh cilantro, torn or chopped

Toasted sesame seeds or Gomasio

Asian Chili Sauce or crushed red pepper

Chopped peanuts

Noodles

Method:

Place noodles in a microwave safe bowl and cover with water. Microwave on high for five minutes. While noodles are working, blend sauce ingredients in a bowl with a fork. Add a bit of water if the sauce is too thick. Drain noodles and add to sauce. Toss noodles to coat and add any optional ingredients, chili sauce (if you like it spicy) or other garnishes.

prepYield:

One large or 2 small servings

 

Savory Scrambled Tofu with Sausage Bacon

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This is my favorite tofu scramble recipe. It features fragrant spices: thyme and cumin as well as a bit of garlic. It’s as easy to put together on a busy workday morning as a lazy Sunday. You can find this delicious recipe and so many others from the Post Punk Kitchen by clicking here.

I like to kick up my breakfast sandwich with thin slices of my favorite vegan sausage, seared crispy brown and layered on whole grain toast with a bit of yellow mustard.

sandwich

Today I used Field Roast chipotle flavor. It’s a spicy companion to the fragrant Indian spices in the tofu scramble. This scramble stores and reheats well (that is, if you have any leftovers) for wraps, stuffing mushrooms or peppers–even sprinkling on a salad.

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Smoky Cheddar Sauce

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The next recipe in my “Turning on to Tofu” series, this deceptively simple cheese sauce. I used soft silken tofu combined with cashews, to add a smooth, creamy consistency that pours easily over nachos, veggies, baked potatoes, burgers–you name it!

prep

I love that I always have these staple ingredients in my pantry and fridge. Tofu stores well, so I try to keep a couple packages handy for whipping up a batch of quick scramble or a cheese spread. Maybe even a chocolate mousse. I’ll get to those recipes later.

“Smoky Cheddar Cheeze Sauce” (from “The Sexy Vegan” by Brian Patton)

Ingredients:

1 cup whole, raw cashews

1 12 oz. package soft, silken tofu

1/4 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder and turmeric

1/2 teaspoon yellow miso

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon liquid smoke, to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2/3 cup water

Method:

Place the cashews in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook for 8 minutes, to soften them up a bit. While the cashews are cooking, measure the dry spices, combine and set aside.

Drain tofu of any extra liquid. Measure wet ingredients, combine and set aside. By this time the cashews should be done cooking. Drain them well and allow to cool. This is a good time to prepare the nacho toppings.snip

Here’s a little tip I learned from Martha Stewart back in the day: snip scallions with a sharp pair of kitchen shears. I found this also works great with herbs and olives. One of many great timesavers I learned from Ms. Stewart, including how to say, “Marin-ah-de”.

Grind the cashews in a food processor until fine. Add the tofu and half of the wet ingredients. Process until well blended. Add the remaining wet ingredients and process until very smooth. Add the desired amount to a small pot and heat very gently stirring often, until warmed. Do not boil. The sauce will thicken a bit as it heats and turn a lovely shade of cheese.

While sauce is heating, preheat the oven to 275 degrees and warm the tortilla chips for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour sauce over chips with desired toppings and enjoy! Store leftover sauce in the fridge for up to 4 days.

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