Guilt-Free Alfredo Sauce

alfredo_gluten-free_vegan_meRich, creamy Alfredo sauce dresses up pasta but the high-fat, dairy version can make it hard to fit into your desired dress size, clog your arteries and of course harm animals and the planet. This version is made with potatoes and plant based milks.  It has no fat, no dairy but all the taste and makes a perfect topper for your favorite gluten-free pasta!

Guilt-Free Alfredo Sauce

  • 4 cups unsweetened plant based milk (make sure it’s unsweetened)
  • 1 cup white miso paste
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup cooked, smashed plain white potato (skins on or off)
  • 4 Tbs potato starch
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Put all ingredients into high speed blender and mix until smooth. Transfer to large sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Mixture will thicken.  Reduce heat and simmer until ready to serve on your favorite pasta or refrigerate to enjoy later. This recipe makes 10 – 1/2 cup servings.

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Fiesta Polenta

fiesta-polenta-2-gluten-free-vegan-meTonight I needed something quick, easy, filling and of course, tasty.  So many of my recipes start out with items in my pantry I need to use.  I found an extra bag of polenta this weekend, so that was top of mind.  Polenta whips up quickly. Now what to add to it? Beans already cooked in the fridge, a can of chilies, some fresh cilantro, tomatoes, onions and spices – voila! In less than 30 minutes, dinner is served!

Fiesta Polenta

  • 2 cups dry polenta
  • 6 cup  water
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup cooked or canned black, pinto or kidney beans
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup chopped green chilies
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 Tbs Dr. Bragg’s amino acids
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

First boil the water and slowly add in the polenta, stirring constantly. As soon as it boils, turn down to low heat and cover for about 5 minutes.  Add in the spices and aminos a few at a time, stirring well to ensure it all mixes together.  Then add the cilantro, chilies, beans and tomatoes stirring gently until everything is warm.  Spoon into bowls and top with a little more cilantro or some vegan cheddar cheese.

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Greek Lentil Loaf with Lemony Dill Sauce

lemony-lentil-loaf-gluten-free-vegan-meWe headed over to hubby’s family for Greek Easter. I had a request to bring my Red Lentil Loaf.  I love this recipe and it’s a hit with non-vegans too. It calls for sage, rosemary, thyme and lots of flavors I love in the fall and winter. But this weekend, with trees blossoming and the temperature on the rise, I was feeling more like spring, so I modified the recipe to bring in a little Greek flavor and a little springtime freshness.

I also realized I post amazing recipes I find to my Facebook page to share with others, but rarely follow a recipe because I like to create my own.  Everything I tried turned out terrific.

The picture sold me on this Vegan Carrot Cake from My Whole Food Life.  I didn’t have applesauce so I subbed out some pureed, canned mango.  I also discovered my maple syrup had molded, so I used agave for the frosting. It turned out beautifully.

Basil Walnut Pesto Quiche from The Whole Ingredient tasted as good as it sounded.  I modified mine a bit, subbing sun-dried tomatoes for the black olives and omitting the asparagus and tomatoes on top, just using potatoes in a pretty pattern to keep it simple. It was less like a quiche than I hoped, but the flavor more than made up for the texture. Not sure if maybe another chia egg would make it thicker, but it gave me inspiration to play around with this concept for sure.

The 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cocoa Fudge from The Frosted Vegan kept ending up in my mouth while I was cutting it.  Oops! I do recommend keeping this one frozen like the author also recommends.  I added the coconut oil, knowing we were bringing it to share at a party and it would not stay frozen.  The fudge stayed solid, but was kind of like weird jelly chocolate when it got to room temperature.  It was still delicious though!

Here’s the recipe for my Greek  Lentil Loaf with Lemony Dill Sauce.

Greek  Lentil Loaf with Lemony Dill Sauce

IMG_3409Greek Lentil Loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbs ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups chopped kale or other hearty greens
  • 2 cups gluten-free oats
  • small amount of olive oil to grease pan

In large pan, add lentils and veggie broth, bring to a boil, cover, turn down heat and simmer until soft (about 8 minutes.) In another pan, add celery, onions garlic, kale and spices with a bit of water and cook until tender.  Smash lentils until smooth and combine all previously listed ingredients into one pan, add oats and stir.  Allow ingredients to cool a bit and add them to food processor with “S” blade.  Puree briefly. Lightly oil 9″ x 5″ loaf pan and spoon mixture into pan. Bake for about 30 minutes at 325 F or until loaf starts to brown slightly on top and sides lift away from edges.  Cooking time may vary. Don’t overcook or loaf will be dry.  Cool and refrigerate. Once cool, the loaf can be sliced and eaten cold or reheated.

lemon-dill-sauce-gluten-free-vegan-meLemony Dill Sauce

1 large white potato, cooked
4 cups unsweetened plant milk
4 tbs potato starch
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs dried dill (double if using fresh dill)
2 tsps salt
½ tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in high speed blender and blend until smooth.  Transfer to pan and bring to boil on the stove until mixture gets a bit thick.  Add more potato starch for a thicker sauce. Serve like a gravy on top of the loaf as desired.

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Spring Roll Fever

spring-rolls-gluten-free-vegan-meSpring is here. What a great time for spring rolls! Actually, pretty much anytime is a great time for spring rolls if you ask me.  If you’ve never made them, they are tons of fun – but there are a few important things to know first.

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We use a cookie sheet with a ½ inch edge filled with water as our rice paper soaker. The rice paper gets very soft, very quick.  Don’t get it too wet or soak it too long.  Package says to only wet on one side.  I think this is a good idea if you’re making them to share later. If you’re making them to eat now, wet both sides quickly, let the water drip off, transfer to your plate and start filling them up.

Another thing – don’t fill too full. They are quite strong, but do rip if they are over-filled. Also, cut your fillings into bite sized pieces to make them easier to eat.

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Tonight we made ours with chopped greens, shredded carrots, marvelous mushrooms, fried tofu and homemade peanut sauce.

I’m still perfecting the peanut sauce.  Recipes for the tofu and mushrooms can be found by clicking on the links above.

What makes spring rolls fun is deciding what you want in yours.  Have fun, get creative and share your ideas below!

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Soy-Lent Green

soy-lent-green_gluten-free_vegan_meNo, it’s not people. No animals either.  I was playing with food and wanted to see if I could make something similar to an artichoke spinach dip or fritter, but I wanted to keep it low-fat and use just a few ingredients.

I tried frying the mixture in a little coconut oil. Tasted good, but wasn’t pretty.  It turned out to be a green plop on our plates. The name came from hubby who called it Soylent Green in honor of the creepy movie.  We both laughed and then said, “It does have soy (white miso) and it is acceptable for Lent.  We laughed and Soy-Lent Green is now on the blog.a recipe.

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While the mixture didn’t work well fried, It was nice baked as a dip or spread.  You could also eat it straight from the food processor without baking, but the heat tames the kale a bit and I liked it better baked. Even better top yours off with a bit of your favorite vegan cheese!

Soy-Lent Green

2 cups raw baby kale
8 artichoke hearts (packed in water)
¼ cup white miso paste
2 cups cooked chic peas
1 tbs Spirulina Sprinkle (or your favorite savory spice)
Salt to taste (I didn’t add any, but I try to keep my sodium low)
Vegan cheese (optional)

Place all ingredients into a food processor with “S” blade and mix until smooth.  Pour into a shallow glass dish or individual ramekins and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Top with vegan cheese and broil to melt the cheese. Serve with crackers or spread on toast or potato.

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Spirulina Sprinkle

spirulina_sprinkle_gluten-free_vegan_meUpdate!!  After watching Dr. Michael Gregor on NutritionFacts.org, it may be wise to consume spirulina sparingly if at all. It may hurt your liver and it’s linked to ALS, Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.  I’m leaving the recipe up, but feel a responsibility to share this news, as I’ve just learned it.  Here are a couple links from his website explaining the possible risks.

 http://nutritionfacts.org/video/blue-green-algae-spirulina/

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/als-lou-gehrigs-disease-fishing-for-answers/

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/update-on-spirulina/

Spirulina is a brilliant green powerhouse food!  This natural algae is loaded with protein, essential amino acids, iron, calcium, vitamins A, C, D. B-1(thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3(nicotinamide), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-9 (folic acid) and B-12. It may also help with allergies, detoxing from heavy metals and weightloss.  People have been eating it for thousands of years for its nutrients and health benefits, so I decided to try it too.

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I have the granules and when I tried to eat them straight out of the bag, they stuck to my teeth and turned my mouth and tongue a lovely shade of deep, dark green.  I could imagine adding spirulina to soups and mixing into a sprinkle.  You can also buy spirulina powder, which might be easier to mix with food.  Here’s what I made with my granules and I love it!

Spirulina Sprinkle

½ cup dried mixed veggies
(soup veggies – carrots, peas, red and green bell pepper, onion – nothing else added)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tbs spirulina (optional)
2 tsp garlic powder or dried garlic

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender (I used the small Blentec container for nut butters) or a clean coffee grinder. Blend to a powder.  Sprinkle on popcorn, veggies, toast and anything savory.

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Polenta Pizza Pie

polenta_pizza_pie_gluten-free_vegan_meWhat an awesome treat to find a bag of polenta on my desk, gifted to me by my thoughtful co-worker who had an overabundance in his pantry!  I had a small bag at my house too, but really had never prepared polenta so this was a sign from the universe to get cooking.

Polenta (corn grits) is a super quick, easy to prepare, gluten-free treat. It’s very versatile and makes a great side dish.  It also makes a great soft crust. I especially like polenta with some flavors and spices added.  So deciding what to make with this batch hinged on my current stock in the fridge. I had some portabella mushrooms and a half full jar of marinara sauce.  Italian was the way to go. This little pie turned out delicious and I’ll be creating more polenta recipes in the future!

Polenta Pizza Pie

2 cups uncooked polenta
6 cups water
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup vegan marinara sauce (I like Muir Glen or Classico Organic)
1 cup chopped portabella mushrooms
1 cup chopped artichoke hearts (I like Kirkland prepared in water)
½ cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
Bring the water to a boil, add polenta and spices, stir until well mixed. Turn down heat to medium-low, simmer covered for 5 minutes.

Lightly grease 9 x 13” glass baking dish.  Add cooked polenta, patting it evenly across the bottom and up the sides to form a thick, soft crust.  Pour in sauce and spread evenly; top with veggies and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Makes 12 servings

Substitute your favorite pizza toppings or add a little vegan cheese if you like.  Have fun with your polenta crust and share your ideas in the comment section below.

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But It’s Expensive to Be Vegan!

moneyWhen I think about expensive food, usually steak or caviar come to mind; neither is vegan.  Rice and beans, a couple staples of the plant-based diet, are some of the most inexpensive foods on the planet.  So why do people believe eating vegan will cost them an arm and a leg?

I Don’t Have Martha Stewart Time. You Probably Don’t Either.  I get it. We’re all busy. I work more than 40 hours a week and commute about an hour or more total each day, so I understand about limited time.   Sure I’m pooped when I get home. But I make time for what’s important to me – my health, my planet’s health and the health and prevention of suffering for the animals. And that means finding creative ways to eat healthy, tasty, plant-based AND gluten-free.

Time is money. It’s not that easy to stop by a fast food joint on your way home and grab some hearty vegan grub. But what is that fast food meal REALLY costing you? It might add a couple minutes to your day, but cheap food comes at a high price for the animals that suffer in factory farms, the environment, the workers barely making enough to survive and your health costs from eating excess fat, salt and cholesterol.  Eating a plant-based diet dramatically decreases your chances of getting the big three – heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Don’t believe me? Watch Forks Over Knives. How much does open heart surgery cost? Monthly diabetes medicine?  Chemo?  How much time will you spend at the doctor, in the hospital, at the pharmacy?  What’s your quality of life worth? Don’t forget to figure these costs into the equation.  Suddenly the time spent to prepare a healthy meal or head out to restaurant with vegan options and pay a little extra becomes worthwhile.

Convenience costs money.  Make friends with the produce and bulk sections of your grocery store. Sure there are awesome new vegan options, prepared meals, snacks and desserts that might cost more than their non-vegan counterparts. But if cost is truly what’s stopping you from eating plant-based, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and grains can be purchased in their bulk, unprocessed states at very reasonable prices.  And those ready to eat fruits and veggies are still less than expensive meats and dairy products.  It’s very do-able to eat a healthy plant-based diet on a budget.

Ellen Jaffe Jones even wrote a book about eating vegan on the cheap, called “Eat Vegan On $4 A Day.”  Here’s a short video of Ellen sharing her thoughts on the true cost of eating vegan.

I heard Ellen speak at VegFest Colorado a few years ago and she has some great ideas. She talked about shopping for your fruits and veggies in season and buying in bulk.  I watch the sales flyers and get weekly emails and coupons from groceries where I live. I love to look at what’s on sale to start planning my menus for the week.

What about gluten-free vegan you ask?  Well, again, processed items always cost more than making them yourself. And gluten-free processed items are much more expensive and especially hard to find vegan.  Breads, cakes and cookies can add up when someone else makes them for you.  I splurge and buy gluten-free vegan bread because I haven’t had much luck baking it; but cakes and cookies are pretty easy to make if you like to have them around the house for snacks. You don’t even have to bake them. Check out my Raw Cocoa Vegan Bon Bon Balls and Raw Vegan Cookie Dough Balls! I’ve found some great brands like Enjoy Life and Lucy’s and sometimes splurge on those as well, since I don’t eat them often and having just a few now and then makes them affordable for me.

Batch and Bulk Cook. To save money, I buy my beans dry, soak them and cook them in a pressure cooker in large batches. I keep 1/3 in the fridge and freeze the other 2/3’s in two containers so I have beans ready when I need them and don’t have to worry about them spoiling. I batch cook potatoes, rice and soups on the weekends or some evenings when I have a little more time. One of my very first blog posts, Staples I Have in My Fridge, shares basic recipes to make quinoa and rice from scratch.

Make extra everything, especially at dinner so I can pack a lunch for work.  It takes me about 30 minutes to create most of my dinners with the veggies, sauces, grains and beans I already have in the fridge. If I were to go out to eat, it would still take time to drive there, eat and then drive home, so this extra time to prep something healthy and vegan isn’t really much time at all.  Plus I know what goes into my food and how it was prepared.

I rarely get sick. My numbers are awesome (they didn’t used to be) and I take no medication. Hubby’s numbers are awesome too and he’s off cholesterol meds and in amazing shape.  I’d much rather spend my money on tasty, healthy gluten-free, vegan food than doctors and pharmaceuticals!

If cost is what’s holding you back from adopting a plant-based diet – don’t wait. Start saving (your money, the planet, the animals and maybe even your own life!) TODAY!!

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Check Out The World’s Heaviest Vegan Banana Split!

Banana_Split_ServingNormally ice cream wouldn’t be on anyone’s mind today.  Denver is a whopping 17 degrees Fahrenheit and we’re experiencing record snows.  Soup? Sure! Vegan hot chocolate? Absolutely. But vegan ice cream?

Well, today wasn’t just any other day.  This was a recording breaking day for more than snow! Today, students at Johnson & Wales created and served up the World’s Heaviest Vegan Banana Split

The banana split weighed in at a hefty 1,219 pounds and included flavors like Turkish Coffee, Blueberry Balsamic, Chocolate Mole and Strawberry Basil among many others.

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Chef Adam Sacks tells us, “We want to show the world that we can take any menu item typically laden with animal-based saturated fats and cholesterol, like the beloved banana split, and change it up, making it heart healthier and resulting in a finished product that is unbelievably tasty.” And yes, Chef Adam – it was unbelievably tasty!

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My portion had bananas, peanuts, chocolate and some kind of pumpkin-y ginger-y vegan ice cream. I couldn’t really feel my fingers from hanging out in the frigid winter cold waiting for my chance to eat a little of this masterpiece, but my tongue was working just fine and this stuff was terrific and totally worth the wait.

Congratulations and big thanks to Johnson & Wales University in Denver for showing the world that vegan food can be awesome!!

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Crispy Banana Caramel Delight

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Hubby and I went out for a lovely vegan dinner but the dessert options were limited.  I had a bunch of bananas back at the house and thought having something banana caramel-y would make the perfect end to our sweet evening.  I looked at a few caramel recipes on the ride home since I’d wanted to make caramel sauce but never tried.  Once I got home, I hit the pantry to see what I could create with what I already had in the pantry. I modified the ideas I saw online and came up with this yummy dish.  The caramel sauce stayed liquid and now I’m totally hooked on frying bananas!

Crispy Banana Caramel Delight

1 ripe banana for each serving
1 Tbs coconut oil
Vegan caramel sauce (recipe below)
Vegan vanilla ice cream

Peel bananas and slice in half length way like a banana split. Heat a skillet large enough to hold your bananas, add oil and turn on high heat for about a minute. Add sliced bananas flat side down.  Gently move them so they don’t stick or burn and allow them to get crispy and brown.  Flip and gently press the curved sides so the bananas touch the skillet.  Gently move to prevent burning until they are crispy and brown.  If the bananas break, don’t worry.  They’ll still taste amazing! Place the equivalent of one banana in each dish.   Top with your favorite vanilla plant-based ice cream and drizzle with caramel sauce.

This sauce is very sweet and a little goes a long way.  It stayed liquid and was perfect for my Crispy Banana Caramel Delight!

Vegan Caramel Sauce

1 cup Mimic Almond and Cashew Creme (this is a thicker sweetened plant based cream – other plant based creams should also work)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs Earth Balance Soy-Free (Coconut oil may also work. Avoid soy-based Earth balance.  While great for baking, with a high heat, it takes on a nasty, fishy, weird taste and really doesn’t work for caramels and toffees – trust me on this one!)

Add all the ingredients to a pan with extra room for boiling.  Turn on high heat and stir until mixture is boiling and bubbling consistently.  Turn heat down to medium high (it should still be boiling consistently) and continue to stir for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, cool down and transfer to a jar or glass container.  If you’re not using it right away, keep refrigerated and serve cold or reheat if you want a warm sauce.

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Jackfruit Fiesta Casserole – Gluten-Free Vegan Meals in Minutes

20131018_192026Some nights when I get home, it’s late, I’m hungry and I just don’t feel like making something totally from scratch.  Let’s face it. We’re a busy generation and if you’re vegan and gluten-free, it’s hard to grab some take-out for dinner.  What’s a busy girl to do?  Well, here’s what I did the other night and it was easy and really good.

20131018_190548I grabbed some dried hashbrowns and added a little water to the container and set them aside.  I opened a can of jackfruit (young, green)and added it, along with a can of black beans, some diced green chiles and some salsa.

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I simmered them and added the hashbrowns and cooked on medium heat for about 10 minutes until the hashbrowns were soft.

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Topped the pan with a bit of Daiya cheddar, added some avocado, tomato and lettuce and voila – dinner.

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Have You Heard About the Vegan Trade Council?

Shouldn’t vegan businesses have an organization to represent their interests? 

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Of course they should! That’s why I’m excited to learn about the formation of the Vegan Trade Council!  The vegan industry is vibrant, growing and will benefit from joining together. A  trade association can provide support for advocacy, industry growth and mainstream acceptance of vegan products.

Can you imagine school lunches allowing plant-based milk instead of the currently required cow’s milk?  Wouldn’t it be great if MyPlate made greater reference to healthy, plant-based foods? Public health?  Well, that’s an area where vegan lifestyles need to be promoted in a big way. And we all know how important adopting a vegan lifestyle is for our environment; watch Cowspiracy if you need convincing. We need the Vegan Trade Council to unite vegan trade and make our voice loud and clear.

Alan Nemeth, professor of animal law at the American University Washington College of Law and the University School of Law is leading the formation of the trade group. Nemeth stated, “The dairy, beef, pork, poultry, and seafood industries all have trade associations and high-powered lobbyists to represent their interests legally, legislatively, in the development of regulations, and in the promotion of their products in the press and in the marketplace. These trade associations are effective, because they represent the views and dollars of their entire respective industries. The vegan food industry currently has no such trade association and subsequently has no coordinated representation to help build public relations and promote plant-based interests nationwide. As such, the animal-based product industry has no vegan trade contemporary to argue the vegan industry’s positions with regard to issues such as public health, the environment, the Farm Bill, agricultural livestock, school lunches, dietary alternatives, and so on. It is time that the vegan industry gets a seat at the table.”

The Vegan Trade Council is reaching out to vegan businesses and the vegan community, building its membership and support base. If you’re interested in membership, learning more about the Council or contributing, reach out to them online, vegantradecouncil.com.

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Apple Buckwheat Cobbler Delight

apple_buckwheat_cobbler_gluten-free_veganI grew up using a pressure cooker so they don’t scare me. My mom used to make potatoes in her olive green Presto and I loved how it sputtered and jiggled on the stove. I used mine for potatoes too and not much else. At VegFest, I watched Chef AJ’s cooking demo and she inspired me to get an Instant Pot. I started cooking dried beans and used it a couple times a week, but I never mixed and matched.  Always one type of food, cooked or steamed.

I just purchased JL Fields’ new book, Vegan Pressure Cooking because I wanted some recipes to make one pot meals.  It’s a gorgeous book with tons of great recipes; many are gluten-free and all are vegan. I was inspired by a couple recipes, the Easy Applesauce and Fruit and Nut Rice Pudding.

I’m notorious for letting inspiration take me down my own road and rarely follow a recipe unless it’s for cake or bread.  I had a 4 lb. bag of apples that had almost been forgotten in the garage fridge.  I also had a few dates left in a nearly empty container, begging to be used.  Inspiration led me to make this Apple Buckwheat Cobbler Delight. Thanks mom for curing me of the pressure cooker fear. Thanks Chef AJ for introducing me to the electric pressure cooker and thank you to JL Fields for writing such a beautiful cookbook and giving me the inspiration to mix a few ingredients together in my pressure cooker.

Apple Buckwheat Cobbler Delight

3 – 3.5 lbs. raw apples, cut into bite sized chunks
½ cup dry buckwheat
½ cup chopped medjool dates
1 ½ cups water
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp powdered ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in pressure cooker. Stir well to mix spices, water and buckwheat with apples. Cook for about 12 minutes (some pressure cookers are faster or slower so check with your manufacturer’s directions – I used Instant Pot on medium pressure).  Serve warm or cold for dessert or breakfast and add a little vegan ice “cream” for a special treat.

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Red and Green Chili

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All four seasons, I love chili. Especially green chili. I call this red and green chili because it’s a little of both.  So I decided to wrap up my soup series with this little kicker. If you like your chili spicy, this is the recipe! You can pour it over a baked potato, smother a burrito or eat it straight from the bowl. If you don’t like your chili quite so spicy, reduce the amount of green chilies and chili powder for a milder version.

Red and Green Chili

1 Tbs avocado or olive oil
½ cup diced onion
1 clove garlic
2 cups canned or roasted diced green chilies
2 cups tomato sauce or strained tomatoes
2 cups San Marzano canned tomatoes or very ripe fresh tomatoes
6 cups cooked black beans (approx. 4 cans)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp salt (more or less to taste depending on added salt in your beans and tomatoes)
Heat pan and add oil, when hot, add onion and garlic. Stir until lightly brown. Add chilies. Stir well. Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, beans and spices. Bring all ingredients to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes so all flavors have a chance to mingle. Serve hot. Top with fresh chopped cilantro, fresh tomatoes and/or a bit of shredded vegan cheddar cheese or vegan sour cream.

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Yellow Split Pea Soup

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There’s something so smoothly soothing about split pea soup. I couldn’t have a soup series without adding split pea.  I had never tried making it with yellow peas, and honestly, to me they taste just like split green peas.  They happened to be in my cupboard.  If you have green ones, they’ll be fine as well. The smoky flavor comes from liquid smoke and smoked paprika so this version is not only delicious, but also cruelty free. The pigs are smiling and after you try it, I hope you will be too.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

9 cups water or veggie broth
3 cups dry yellow split peas
4 large carrots (6 – 8” long) or equivalent
½ cup chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp liquid smoke

Combine water, lentils and all veggies into pressure cooker or large pan.  Bring to boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or follow pressure cooking instructions for making lentils (about 18 minutes).  Once cooked, all ingredients will be very soft.  Stir with potato masher and add in all spices and liquid smoke. Stir until nearly smooth with a few small pieces of carrots visible.  Top each bowl or cup with coconut or tempeh bacon if desired. Serve as a meal or starter.

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Tofu Waffle Fail

Inspiration and photo from  SeriousEats.com

I saw beautiful photos on Facebook of crispy, perfect tofu waffles.  I was dying to try making these and thought it sounds like a really fun way to prepare tofu.  I even saw a video of a woman and a little boy making them – so easy a little kid could do it, right?

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Well… I don’t know if it’s my uber cheap waffle iron or my lack of professional culinary training, but my tofu waffles flopped – big time.  I cut my tofu into 1/2″ thick quarters and marinated them in some Bragg’s and sesame oil, used a little peanut oil on the hot waffle iron and plopped in my tofu. And waited. And waited. And waited. Hubby kept checking the waffle iron and thought the tofu would fall out easily, like a waffle.  Nope.  First batch got all stuck in the iron.  We cleaned it out.

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Tried more oil on the second batch which also got stuck in the iron and created an even bigger mess.  Yes, it got crispy.  Sort of. In spots. It didn’t absorb the Bragg’s and I used more oil than when I fry it in nonstick pan, so it was not as tasty and seemed oilier than the tofu squares I love to make.

So…bagging the waffle idea,  I took a second package of tofu and prepared it our favorite way, little sliced squares, cooked in a tiny amount of peanut oil (about a teaspoon or less) and some Bragg’s until crispy.

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Much faster, way easier to clean up and also tastier in my humble opinion.

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Indian Red Lentil and Mushroom Soup

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As far as I know, I’m not of East Indian descent, so I can’t help but wonder if maybe I was from India in a past life. I love the beautiful patterns in the fabric, the interesting architecture, the music, the spirituality and I really love the flavorful food and Indian spices.  I’ve been cooking and playing in the kitchen with Indian flavors for a few years and wanted to include an Indian inspiration in my soup series.  I used red lentils because they cook quickly and they’re very light.  You could also use green or brown lentils.  They will take a bit longer to cook and will have a thicker, heavier consistency, but they’d also work just fine in this recipe. Namaste!

Indian Red Lentil and Mushroom Soup

6 cups water
2 cups red lentils
4 large carrots (6 – 8” long) or equivalent
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 cup chopped cooked mushrooms
(I used portabellas but white button would be great too.)
1 cup chopped tomatoes (very rip fresh or canned)
½ cup chopped onion
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp fenugreek
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp ginger

In large pan, add water, lentils carrots, green pepper and onions. Bring to a boil for about 3 minutes and scoop off foam from the top and discard.  Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until lentils and veggies are soft.  It’s ok to stir occasionally will simmering to check on the consistency. Once softened, stir and mash lightly with a potato masher while adding mushrooms, tomatoes and all spices. Continue stirring and lightly mashing until all ingredients are mixed well, leaving a few chunks of veggies.  Cover and simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally for another 15 minutes or longer. Serve with your favorite gluten-free bread for a hearty meal or starter.

 

 

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Almost Mom’s Potato Soup

gluten_free_vegan_me_potato_soupOne of my favorite recipes from childhood was my mom’s potato soup. She’d make it in a stove-top pressure cooker and it was just so warming and comforting – the perfect tummy filler on a cold day.  Of course it wasn’t vegan and I haven’t had it in many years. When I decided to create the soup series on the blog, mom’s potato soup was the very first recipe I thought of. I knew I needed to create a vegan version. Hubby approves too. Hope you like it as much as we do!

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Fat-free Potato Soup

6 cups cubed potatoes
5 cups unsweetened plant milk (I used organic rice milk)
2 large carrots (6 – 8” long) washed, tops trimmed off.
1 cup water or veggie broth
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup dried or fresh chives
3 tsp Dr. Bragg’s Amino Acids
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground black pepper

Cook potatoes and carrots in water or veggie broth until soft. (Note: do not cook in the plant milk; this is added after cooking.) My mom used to cook them in  her stove-top pressure cooker and I still use mine for this recipe.  It makes it easy to finish the soup on the stove, but any method to cook them soft works fine.  In large soup pan (or stove top pressure cooker), on low heat, use a hand-held potato masher to begin mixing and mashing  the potatoes, carrots, remaining cooking liquid. Fold in the plant milk.  Add in the rest of the ingredients a few at a time and continue to mash until everything is mixed to desired consistency. Heat to desired temperature and serve.  You can top with a few chives or stir in some vegan cheddar or mozzarella cheese for an extra kick.

 

 

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Pumpkin, Kale and Leek Soup

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Working on your waistline this New Year’s? One of my favorite, healthy and usually low-calorie foods is soup. It fills you up; it’s warm and satisfying and it tastes good!

Here’s an easy soup to keep you warm. It’s low in sodium and very low in fat. In fact, if you choose to sauté your leeks and garlic in water, there’s no fat at all. But it’s thick and filling. And it’s perfect for a snowy, winter day!

Pumpkin, Kale and Leek Soup

1 cup cooked leeks (I love Trader Joe’s frozen leeks for a quick fix.)
1 glove minced garlic
1 tbs olive oil (optional – you can sauté  in water for a fat free version)
4 cups kale (you can sub spinach, collard or chard or any mixture of these)
4 cups cooked pumpkin or winter squash
2 cups veggie broth or veggie bouillon
2 tsp ground sage
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp marjoram
¼ tsp rosemary

In large soup pan, sauté leeks and garlic in olive oil on medium heat until tender; add kale and sauté until wilted and tender. Remove about ½ cup of the greens and leeks and set aside (optional). Add pumpkin or squash and veggie broth. Mix well, Pour ingredients into blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into soup pan. Chop the greens and leeks you set aside earlier into bite sized pieces and stir into puree for  added texture. Heat and serve warm.

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Find Your “Happy” this New Year

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The Free Dictionary defines “resolution” as the state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.” 

So here we go.  It’s 2015. We are firm, baby! We start thinking about all the stuff we wanted to do in 2014 that we didn’t do, or tried to do, or need to do better. We’ll think about it for a couple days, a couple weeks, maybe even a couple months and before too long, our firm determination will start to look more like soft, silken tofu.

Honestly, I’ve given up on resolutions. Kind of.  There’s something about an ending that inspires a new beginning.  One year ends, another begins, and along with it comes the freshness of new hopes, dreams, plans.   I succumb a little each year; do you? But making plans, hoping, dreaming and deciding to take action is somehow different that making a resolution.

Why?  Resolutions break.  And when something’s broken, it’s hard to fix.  There’s something wrong.  It’s not good anymore. Toss it out. Give up. You get the idea.  But if you dream, you can keep on dreaming. If you hope, you can never lose hope. If you plan, you can change or rearrange your plans.  Nothing’s broken.  The world keeps turning. The ideas keep churning.  The fires keep burning. And life goes on.

But before I get too hope-y dreamy on you, I do want to point out that actions are what really helps move those hopes, dreams and plans to reality. Are your hopes, dreams and plans the right ones? Ask yourself why you want to_______ this year.  Is it to feel loved, accomplished, prosperous, productive?  Dig way down deep in your soul and understand the reasons behind your aspirations and then ask yourself if it’s truly worth pursuing or if there’s a better way to be fulfilled.

And ask yourself how you’ll feel in another year if you don’t  ________. What does your gut tell you?  What do you feel in your heart? Guts and hearts are pretty smart.  Listen to them. They might give you the motivation to keep taking actions or the wisdom to change direction.

What are my hope-y dreamy plans for 2015? First, I’m aspiring to do a better job posting to this blog and making some updates and improvements. The “why” is my need to share the vegan message and that you can be vegan AND gluten-free and live a full life. I’ve got to do this.  My heart and gut said so.

I’m also deciding to say “no” when something doesn’t make my heart happy and just makes me stressed.  That one sounds easy, but the “should” girl inside me can be persistent and lay a good guilt trip. Heart and gut – speak loudly on this one!

I want to be healthy.  Yeah, I’d really like to be skinny – I am not a skinny vegan.  But the only times I’ve ever been skinny were when I was anorexic my senior year in high school and when I was stressed beyond belief about 8 years ago. I don’t want to go back to either of those skinny me’s, not even for a smokin’ hot bod. So, I’ll keep learning about how food, lifestyle and environment affect me.  Do my best to make wise choices.  And share some healthy recipes along the way. And maybe I’ll lose 10 or 15 pounds. That would make my heart happy, but it’s happy even if I don’t lose a pound,  since health is a blessing and without it life can stink, big time.

And I want to promote this wonderful, compassionate vegan lifestyle.  Yes, there is such thing as a “vegan diet” aka, plant-based or plant strong diet.  But eating the diet a vegan eats and being a vegan are two very different things.  I am a vegan.  Starting out for health reasons, I’m now in it for the planet, the animals and because I can’t be any other way, knowing what I know.  Working to help more people join this journey and change the world makes my heart happy and feels absolutely right in my gut – despite the sadness I also feel, realizing how much our paradigm needs to change and change quickly if we want to be able to hope and dream about the future of our world and end the suffering of more than 10 billion sentient beings who will lose their lives year after year if we don’t take action.

My wish for you is to find your “happy”.  To do things that make you feel good, that feel right in your gut, joyful in your heart, and make a better world.

What are your hopes and dreams for the coming year? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Happy15

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