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.

prep

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

Pasta Fagioli

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Pasta fagioli is a classic Italian soup combining hearty white beans and pasta in a savory tomato broth with fresh thyme and a hint of garlic. It makes a perfectly filling dinner and reheats well for lunch the next day.

Pasta Fagioli

Adapted from a recipe by Chloe Coscarelli

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup water
4 ounces tomato sauce (or leftover spaghetti/pizza sauce)
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped ( or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup pasta shells or other small dried pasta, cooked and cooled

Method:

Saute onion and carrot in olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add broth, water, tomato sauce and thyme. Bring to boil and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add beans and pasta and simmer until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fast (and Easy) Whole Wheat Bread

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Time was…young girls were taught to bake as an essential life skill. As with cooking in general, this knowledge and feeling of self-sufficiency comes in handy during times times of scarcity.

We can always turn to our humble pantry heroes– yeast, flour, salt, sugar, oil and within an hour or two come out with a couple of delicious, fresh loaves to enjoy.

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Fast (and easy) Whole Wheat Bread

recipe courtesy Vaishali from Holycowvegan.net

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water (not hot– you will kill the yeast)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Place  1 cup of the bread flour, the whole-wheat flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to mix together.
  2. Add the water and the olive oil and mix. Add more of the bread flour if needed. How much flour you will need will depend on where you live and what the weather’s like. I made this bread on a rainy day in Washington and I needed nearly the whole cup. If you live in a dryer region you might need less.
  3. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or with your dough hook set to low speed.  You should now have a smooth, pliable ball of dough that’s not at all sticky.
  4. Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat the top with oil.
  5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside for 30-45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and punch it well to deflate all the gases. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a triangle about 10 inches long. Now roll the dough toward yourself and make a cylinder, tucking down the seams and pinching them in so you have a smooth loaf.
  7. Place the dough in a standard loaf pan, seam side down (most loaf pans are 9 X 4 1/2 or 10 X 5 inches)
  8. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let the bread rise in a warm place about 30-45 minutes or until the loaf has risen and domed over the top of the pan.
  9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

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  1. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the loaf pan to a rack and let it stand until the bread is cool enough to handle. Remove the bread from the pan by loosening the sides with your fingers or a spatula. Place on a rack until it has cooled through.
  3. Slice. Eat.

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Senate Bean Soup

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U.S. Senate Bean Soup  is traditionally made with navy beans, ham hocks and onions. It is served in the dining room of the United States Senate every day, in a tradition that dates back to the early 20th century.

This hearty, economical soup grew in popularity during and between World Wars I and II. It was frequently served to the military.

Here, I have taken the original recipe and made it vegan, by replacing the ham hocks with vegan bacon, kicking up the flavor with a bit of veggie paste and liquid smoke. I’ve given it a creamier consistency by pureeing half of the beans and I finished the dish with crisp, fresh-baked croutons.

Senate Bean Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound dried navy beans
2 quarts  water
1-2 cups chopped vegan bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoons olive oil

1 Tbsp. vegetable broth paste, such as Better Than Bouillon (optional)
1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Soak beans overnight in water to cover, plus 2 inches to allow for swelling.

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Drain and rinse beans then add to a large pot with water to cover plus another inch or two over medium high heat. Bring to boil and skim off any foam that accumulates on the surface. These are impurities that should be removed.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour.

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Meanwhile, cook the onions and bacon in olive oil until lightly browned, about 10 minutes over medium heat. When the beans have been cooking for an hour, they should be tender, almost done.

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At this point, scoop out about half of the beans and puree them in a blender until smooth. You may want to remove some of the cooking water if it looks too watery. You can set it aside and add some back in later if you need it.

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Add the pureed beans back into the pot along with the bacon and onions. Add a tablespoon of vegetable broth paste and liquid smoke, if using. Stir and adjust water as necessary to make the soup the consistency you like. Simmer for another half hour or so, stirring occasionally until flavors are blended and heated through.

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Serve with crispy croutons, if desired. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Fancy Potatoes

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Okay, we’ve established potatoes are cheap plant-based eats. They are also whole and perfect in their natural state. Although I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw, they cook up in so many delicious ways.

A plain old baked potato is fine, but if you’re looking to elevate your side dish a bit, this recipe can really spice things up at the table. It’s actually easier than it looks!

Hassleback Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized russet potatoes

1 tbsp. dairy-free butter or margarine, melted

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp garlic granules or powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Line a small baking tray with aluminum foil.

Wash and dry potatoes, then cut a series of horizontal slices about 1/8 inch wide and going only 2/3 of the way through the potato, so it holds together, but the gaps open wide enough to slip the seasoning in between.

Mix together the seasonings and the butter and oil, then rub the potatoes all over with the mixture, getting it in between the slices well.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, uncovered, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. You may wish to serve with a bit more seasoned butter, as potatoes are very absorbent.

 

 

 

Easy Homemade Pizza Dough

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When I have a bit of extra time, usually on weekends, and a little forethought, I whip up a batch of homemade pizza dough. This super simple recipe by Chloe Coscarelli, makes a nice, smooth, fluffy dough that bakes up almost like a pan pizza crust. I always mix a double batch, so I have dough left over for Cinnamon Rolls.

You can play with the flour ratios. I used half whole wheat and half white, to make it a little healthier. You just need to get started about 2 hours before you plan to eat the pizza.

Easy Pizza Dough

Source: Chloe’s Kitchen

  • 1 package Active dry yeast
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 ½ cups All-purpose flour, or 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Maple Syrup

hook

bowl

roll

1. Blend ingredients with dough hook until smooth. Placed dough in well-oiled bowl and rotate
2. Place in warm place until doubled (1-1 1/2 hours). Place dough on lightly floured surface and shape into a disk.
3. Knead for 5 minutes, using the steering wheel technique. Use immediately or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze.
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oven

Roasted Carrots with Cumin and Dill

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I admit I often overlook the humble carrot when deciding on a vegetable side dish. Let’s face it, they are cheap and always available, so I tend to take them for granted.

I forget how a simple vegetable can be so deliciously sweet and yet substantial and healthful and nourishing when gently oven-roasted with a few basic seasonings.

I found this recipe while skimming through a local Portland, OR magazine called “MIX”. It is so easy to prepare and the recipe is simple enough to remember that I know it will become a staple side in my repetoire.

Warning, though, make sure you purchase enough carrots, because I can eat half a pound of these no problem. So, I would say a standard bunch of organic California carrots such as Cal-Organic brand would provide 2-3 servings.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Roasted Carrots

                                                  –From Anne Parker

2 bunches carrots, with the tops removed, sliced in half lengthwise

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt (or less, depending on your taste)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 handful fresh dill, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange carrots in a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.

the raw

Toss to coat. Season with salt, cumin and fresh dill.

the cutBake for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender and beginning to brown.

IMG_9622“Be Vegan Make Peace”  Aaaah….Portland

January 2020 Menu

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Nutritious and nourishing to the body without depriving you of flavor or satisfaction, a plant-based diet supports the wellness of people and it is good for the planet. Food is sourced from eco-conscious purveyors and environmentally friendly practices are used in the kitchen.

January 2020 Menu

Choose six (6) mains and two (2) sides or desserts

Bowls

NEW! Three-Cheeze Lasagna Bowl

Organic Lasagnetti Pasta, Herb-Roasted Mushrooms, Creamy Ricotta, Parmesan and Mozz, Rich Tomato Gravy

NEW! Grain-Free Sunset Bowl

Miso-Roasted Yams and Sweet Corn, Cumin-Simmered Black Beans, Charred Peppers, Pico di Gallo

Burgers

Beefy Beyond Meat Burger with Lettuce, Tomato and Onions and Special Sauce

Beet Burgers with Horseradish Mayo

Dinner Favorites

NEW! Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Penne with White Beans and Spinach

Shiitake Mushroom Risotto with White Truffle Oil

NEW! Smoky Barbecue Sloppy Joes with Purple Slaw and Baked Beans

Portobello Stroganoff with Noodles

NEW! Sesame Tofu and Broccoli with Soba Noodles

Lemony Artichoke Spinach Pasta with Whole Grain Linguine

NEW! Scaloppini Florentine with White Wine Sunflower Cream Sauce

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Roasted Mushrooms

Chinese Stir-Fried Vegetables with Brown Rice

NEW! White Bean Etouffee with Homemade Andouille

Chana Masala with Indian Spinach

Gardein Cutlet Marsala with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Hearts of Palm Cakes with Tomato-Caper Remoulade

Thai Red (Spicy) or Green (Mild) Coconut Curry with Tofu and Vegetables

Baked Ziti with Whole Grain Pasta and Fire-Roasted Tomato Gravy

Vegetable Flatbread Pizzas

Vegetable Pad Thai with Rice Noodles

Sides

Broccoli-Spinach Soup

Sweet Potato-Poblano Soup

Sauteed Kale with Shallots

Macaroni and Cheeze (GF, Nut-free)

Desserts

Blueberry Crumble (GF)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Banana-Walnut Bread

Raw Cocoa-Pecan Brownies

Plant-Based: On The Cheap

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“I would try the plant-based diet, but I can’t afford it!” A phrase I have heard often. But, it’s a myth that a plant-based lifestyle has to blow your grocery budget. And it needn’t include strange ingredients you’ve never heard of. A healthy, whole food diet can actually be totally the opposite. A simplification.

Keeping in mind the basic foods your body needs  makes shopping so much easier:

  1. Protein (beans, peas and lentils, nuts, nut butters). Remember that one type of bean, legume or nut choice in combination with a grain or healthful vegetables provides enough protein in a meal. There’s no need to overdo it.
  2. Complex Carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains).
  3. Fats. The health benefits of processed oils is still a controversial subject in the science of nutrition, so I will simply offer that many foods contain naturally occurring fats such as nuts, coconuts and avocado. Choose oils conscientiously and use  sparingly if you are concerned about calories.

 

Here’s a list of healthy and inexpensive foods to get you started:

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Brown rice
  4. Creamy natural peanut butter (multi-purpose protein for toast, sandwiches and sauces)
  5. Dried black or other beans (easier to cook than you think. Google it)
  6. Dried lentils (even easier and quicker than beans)
  7. Frozen fruit
  8. Frozen mixed vegetables
  9. Hummus (homemade tastes best and is cheaper if you sub peanut butter for tahini)
  10. Rolled Oats (they micro cook in two minutes)
  11. Russet Potatoes (let me count the ways to prepare this cheap and filling vegetable)
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A very decent, nutritious meal.

Although a constantly rotating variety of produce (eating the rainbow, as they say) is ideal, it is not within everyone’s budget. It’s okay to eat apples and bananas all week. The point is, you are eating fruit! You are getting vitamins and fiber, water and minerals. All good stuff!  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Sometimes you will splurge on the raspberries or juicy peaches in season. And it will actually be a treat, because your flavor palate is now accustomed to the natural sweetness of fruit sugar, as opposed to all the jacked-up laboratory produced sweeteners in processed snacks. It actually prefers it.

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Top Shelf Fruits!

The food industry is always coming out with new products. And that’s just what they are. Products, that are processed. Not whole and healthy foods in their natural state. There’s nothing wrong with these products as long as they are kept in perspective–as only the smallest part of our overall caloric intake.

Upcoming posts will feature recipes and ideas for simple and delicious meals that make going plant-based a sustainable choice without breaking the bank!

 

 

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

Hearts of Palm Cakes with Tomato-Caper Remoulade

Image Credit: Melanie daPonte

This recipe is hands-down the menu item my clients request most often! Light, but filling these vegetable cakes are actually loaded with protein in the form of quinoa flakes that help hold it all together.

With a little fresh greenery and a bit of sauce, you’ve got yourself a meal!

HEARTS OF PALM CAKES

(6 servings)

14 OZ HEARTS OF PALM, DRAINED
1 STALK CELERY
½ CUP CARROT, DICED
½ CUP ONION, RED, DICED
½ CUP BELL PEPPER, RED, DICED
2 TBSP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF, CHOPPED
2 TSP OLD BAY SEASONING
1.5 OZ VEGANAISE
1 CUP QUINOA FLAKES (look for them in the oatmeal aisle or with the gluten-free products)

1.DRAIN HEARTS OF PALM AND LIGHTLY PULSE IN FOOD PROCESSOR, PRESERVING TEXTURE. TRANSFER TO LARGE MIXING BOWL. :

2.PULSE VEGETABLES TO CHOP AND ADD TO BOWL WITH HEARTS OF PALM. MIX IN VEGANAISE, SEASONING AND QUINOA FLAKES. LET REST, REFRIGERATED FOR AT LEAST 20 MINUTES.:

3. FORM INTO PATTIES AND BAKE ON GREASED PARCHMENT IN 400 DEGREE OVEN 15 MINUTES, THEN FLIP AND SPRAY WITH OIL, BAKING ANOTHER 15 MINUTES, UNTIL FIRM.

Tomato-Caper Remoulade

¼ cup Vegan Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Chili sauce or ketchup
1 ½ teaspoons Mustard, Creole
1 ½ teaspoons Olive oil
¾ teaspoon Hot sauce
1 ½ teaspoons Lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 med Scallion, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Parsley, flat leaf
1 ½ teaspoons Olives, green, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Celery, chopped
¼ clove Garlic, minced
⅛ teaspoon Chili powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
⅛ teaspoon Pepper, black
¼ teaspoon Capers, minced

Mix all ingredients together by hand and allow flavors to blend for 30-60 minutes before serving.

Vegan French Toast

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As a lifelong  pancake girl, I never thought I’d get around to writing this post. But my husband’s a French toast guy, and last weekend I wanted to make him a special brunch treat, so here we have it.

I’ve tried vegan French toast recipes before and they just seemed too soggy or blah in the flavor department. But this recipe gets the dipping mixture right, with the addition of a bit of starch and garbanzo bean flour (besan) for a thicker consistency. The trick is a quick run through the blender to well incorporate the ingredients. Also, making sure the baguette is at least a day old helps ensure a crisp result.

Vegan French Toast

recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients:

Loaf of Italian or French bread, baguette shaped, preferably stale
1/2 cup soy creamer (soy or coconut milk would make a good substitute)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup chickpea flour (this is key)

Dash of vanilla extract (optional)

Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Several tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (for frying)

Powered sugar for finishing (optional)

Method:

Slice the baguette into rounds about 1-inch thick and set aside. Combine all remaining ingredients (except oil and powdered sugar) in a blender and mix for a few seconds until fully incorporated. Pour into a shallow dish ( I use a pie plate).

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Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high with a thin layer of oil. Dip rounds of bread (don’t soak, you just want the mixture to cling to the outside) and place immediately in hot skillet and brown on both sides. Serve hot with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, vegan butter and maple syrup.

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Chocolate Mousse Terrine

platedHere is a rich, elegant, special occasion dessert that is pretty easy to assemble, believe it or not. Fudgy brownie layered with creamy chocolate mousse enrobed in smooth chocolate ganache. I have garnished this slice with a chocolate-dipped strawberry and Coco-Whip non-dairy whipped topping. It’s also nice served with raspberry sauce.

Chocolate Mousse Terrine

1 recipe chocolate brownies (here’s a link)

1 recipe chocolate mousse (here’s a link)

1/2 recipe chocolate ganache (here’s a link)

Whipped topping, berries, mint (optional)

Method:

Bake brownies in a jelly-roll pan for about 20 minutes and cool completely. Line a loaf pan  with plastic wrap to extend with enough excess to cover when finished layering.

While brownies are baking, whip up the chocolate mousse and chill in the refrigerator. When brownies are completely cooled, cut into three wide strips to fit the interior of the loaf pan.

Press a layer of brownie into the loaf pan. Spread a thick layer of mousse then top with a second layer of brownie. Repeat layering, ending with brownie. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least 6 hours or overnight.

When ready to glaze your terrine, prepare the ganache recipe. Place a metal rack on a wax or parchment paper-lined rimmed sheet tray. Flip the frozen terrine out of the loaf pan and unwrap. Set cake right side up and place on the rack.

ganache

Pour ganache over cake, making sure to cover  the top and sides completely. This can be best achieved by pouring quickly and from a height above the cake that allows the glaze to flow rather than just to rest on the surface. If you can, try to avoid spreading the glaze with a knife or spatula, as it creates imperfections and bubbles on the surface.

Return the cake to the freezer to allow the ganache to firm up well. Make sure the cake is on a non-stick surface such as waxed paper or parchment.

You may wish to give the cake another coat of ganache, depending on the thickness of the glaze. If so, make sure the ganache is warmed very slightly to a pourable consistency. Return cake to freezer, but do not wrap until completely frozen, if at all.

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It is easiest to plate this dessert in advance. Pull from freezer, Slice with large, sharp knife dipped in hot water and cleaned in between slicing. Garnish as desired and keep plates refrigerated until service time. Enjoy!!

production

Brown Sugar Blondies

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These are classic–brown sugary goodness with the addition of chocolate chips, pecans and just a touch of bourbon. A delicious change of pace from traditional brownies, these are guaranteed to create a stir!

Blondies

from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts

by Chloe Coscarelli

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  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. Baking powder
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 6 tbsp. Vegan margarine
  • ¾ cup Brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. Dark rum or bourbon
  • ⅓ cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup Walnuts or pecans, chopped

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1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper long enough to overhang the edges.:
2.In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until combined. Set aside.:
3.Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the margarine, brown sugar, vanilla and rum or bourbon, if using, until combined. Slowly beat in the flour mixture. Once the flour mixture is incorporated, add chocolate chips and walnuts. The batter will be thick.:
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4.Evenly pat the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Once cooled, lift the parchment paper to release the blondies from the pan and unmold. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2-inch squares and serve.:

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Simple Cinnamon Rolls

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I love home-cooked breakfast on Sundays. I woke this morning thinking about the other half of a double batch of pizza dough I whipped up yesterday. The dough was what my Nana would describe as “happy”– full of air, fluffy and nearly bursting through the wrap, eager to get into whatever creative plan I would soon hatch.

So inspired, I came up with this delicious treat. The scent of warm cinnamon and buttery brown sugar wafting through the house is irresistible.

Ingredients:

1 batch pizza dough (homemade or store-bought, my whole wheat version shown here)

1/4 cup flour for rolling

1/4 cup dairy-free buttery spread (such as Earth Balance), softened, plus extra for pan

1 big tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Note: Ingredients amounts are flexible. If you like more cinnamon, by all means, pile it on. That goes for sugar, nuts, raisins, chocolate–whatever you like. You can’t mess this up. It’s your creation!

Method:

Grease a 9 inch cake pan with buttery spread until well-coated.

dough

Lightly flour a clean surface and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, checking underneath periodically, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Spread the margarine to cover the dough to the edges. Sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and nuts evenly and pat down to adhere to dough.

prep

Roll the long side tightly to form a log shape. With a very sharp knife, cut into 1 to 1/2 inch thick slices and place side by side in the cake pan. Brush with additional margarine if desired.

cuts

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until sugar is bubbly and rolls are lightly browned.

pan

Serve with vanilla glaze if desired:

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend together well and drizzle over rolls

Vegan Apple Crisp

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I remember when I first became aware there was such a thing called apple crisp. And it wasn’t at home. It was in my elementary school lunchroom. This exotic dessert was warm and sweet and cinnamon-y, with this outrageously crispy topping…so way over and above apple pie. It made an impact on me!

I am sure the recipe originated in somebody’s grandma’s kitchen. Most warm apple desserts do 😉 But, I was ever after held captive by that crispy sweet crust of oats and pecans and brown sugar atop those sweet-tart warm apples.

I hope you enjoy this version, from America’s Test Kitchen, slightly modified by the substitution of vegan margarine for the butter called for in the original recipe:

Apple Crisp

Topping:

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup pecans, chopped fine
¾ cup oats, rolled
½ cup brown sugar, light
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. Earth Balance, non-dairy baking stick, melted and cooled

Filling:
1 ½ cups apple cider
1 tbsp. lemon juice
4 pounds apples, golden delicious, peeled, cored, halved and cut into 1/2 inch-thick wedges
⅓ cup sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. Earth Balance, non-dairy baking stick
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit . Set oven rack in middle position. Mix together topping with margarine until moistened and crumbly.

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2.Bring cider to simmer in 12-inch skillet over medium heat and cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 7 minutes. Transfer to liquid measuring cup and stir in lemon juice.

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3.Toss apples with sugar and cinnamon in bowl. Melt butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add apples and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften and become translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. (do not fully cook apples). Off heat, gently stir in cider mixture.

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4.Transfer apple mixture to 13 x 9 inch casserole dish (or individual dishes as shown), sprinkle evenly with topping, breaking up any large chunks.

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Bake until fruit is tender and top is deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.

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5.Reheat in 425 degree oven until slightly warm, about 5 minutes.

Serving suggestion:  Top with vanilla non-dairy ice cream and this fantastic

vegan caramel sauce

from our fellow blogger, Larice at feedingyourbeauty.com.

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Oh, yeah!!!

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Dixie Dharma Vegan Restaurant, Bakery and Bar, Orlando

 

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Breakfast at Dixie Dharma              Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

When traveling, we are always on the hunt for vegan eateries and this past weekend was no exception. iPhone technology has been a real game-changer in this regard and driving through the Orlando area we were able to nimbly avoid the Disney-bound traffic and score a real winner in Dixie Dharma vegan restaurant!

Market on South, which houses Dixie Dharma, is a vendor collective, located on the first floor of a small, gray two-story just off the interstate and abutting a picturesque and visibly gentrifying suburb of Orlando. The building itself seems oddly placed alongside an old barber shop with a gravel parking lot alongside, but don’t be put off by the lackluster surroundings. This place is not to be missed.

A small, but clean and cozy interior offers comfy, mismatched tables and chairs, a few booths and a short row of barstools at the counter, overlooking the open kitchen.

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Dixie Dharma interior, order counter/bakery          Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

We arrived early, around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The restaurant was quiet, but the bakery cases were fully stocked with goods from Valhalla  and Valkyrie vegan bakeries.

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Dixie Dharma/Valhalla Bakery case                Photo credit:  Melanie daPonte

 

The cashier was friendly, attentive and fast! We ordered the dirty scramble and the biscuits and gravy along with two hot cups of coffee. While waiting for our food, we perused the various offerings for sale from local artists and artisans displayed on the shelves surrounding the dining room.

Meanwhile, the back of the kitchen bustled with energy as the row of cooling racks filled with fresh-baked cakes and cookies. Every now and then a baker would emerge, producing a huge iced and decorated layer cake to place in the cold display case with a price tag marked $50.

A line of eager patrons started to form as our food was delivered. Young, fit couples, some with baby strollers, many in athletic wear, an occasional smiling grandma in tow, ordered vegan doughnuts and coffee, seating themselves in a happy, relaxed smattering about the place.

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Dixie Dharma Dirty Scramble

 

The food was flavorful with generous portions! The dirty scramble in particular, I think, could have fed two or even three people for breakfast! The coffee tasted smooth and fresh. All in all,  one of the best vegan breakfasts I have ever eaten on the road.

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Dixie Dharma Biscuits and Gravy with Maple Bourbon Sausage           Photo: Melanie daPonte

 

The vibe was so low-key and comfortable I was sure we would return for a late lunch and a few choice baked goods before we headed for home.

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Dixie Dharma outdoor seating in front of building         Photo credit: Melanie daPonte


 

At lunch, the place was really at peak business with a long line waiting up front, but the staff was breezy and professional as they went about taking orders and delivering food to both seated diners and takeout customers.  We shared the chili dogs with ‘tater salad at one of the large picnic tables in the back yard.

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Dixie Dharma Chili Dawgs             Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

I can see why Dixie Dharma is famous for their vegan hot dog truck! The dogs were the best vegan franks I’ve ever tasted. I swear you couldn’t tell they were meatless. And the Indian-spiced chili was hearty and wholesome–filled with beans and lentils. A truly substantial meal before our drive back to Palm Beach County.

Saving the best for last, our visit couldn’t be complete without a sampling of the beautiful bakery offerings. There were just too many choices and I had to be reasonable, breaking it down logically. I have to be careful not to lose my head in the face of such a decadent display of sweet vegan goodness!

Although there were so many treats I wanted to sample,  I only had this one shot, so here is my selection:

Bourbon Chocolate Chunk

Thick, sweet bourbon vanilla buttercream chocolate chunk cookie sandwich.

Cake Slice

I fine wedge of chocolate layer cake expertly filled and iced with vanilla buttercream

(like birthday cake)

Lemon Bar

Lemon curd on a shortbread crust with crumb topping

Chocolate Brownie

Dark chocolate brownie, dipped in more melted chocolate

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Dixie Dharma/Valhalla Bakery selection              Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

It was a tough choice. Of course we had to try the cookies, and the cake and the buttercream and the brownies. The lemon bar was a wild card and I ordered it simply because I don’t like squeezing lemons and no vegan bakery in my town makes them!

What we didn’t order (this time):  Vegan cheesecake,  fruit cobbler, cupcakes, mini-cream pies, a chocolate-coated ‘Naimo(?)’ bar–which looked amazing, vegan doughnuts, a ‘brookie’ which is chocolate chip cookie dough baked on top of a brownie!! There’s more I am forgetting to be sure.

We we got home we sampled each item and they were delicious! Over time we have learned to manage these multiple item bakery sprees by cutting each item into small portions, say, the cookie sandwich into four quarters, and freezing them on a sheet tray, then transferring to an airtight container. Weeks later (or days) later we can enjoy them again.

Dixie Dharma was a delight. Wholesome, plant-based meals, a uniquely creative menu and presentations, outrageous, professionally-baked desserts, friendly, competent staff. They open at 8:00 a.m. and close at midnight!

We plan to make this outstanding vegan restaurant, bakery and artisan marketplace a regular destination every time we are in the Orlando vicinity!

DIXIE DHARMA WEBSITE

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