Jamaican-style Coconut Rice Bowl

We spent part of our honeymoon in Jamaica and really like the fresh Caribbean flavors of coconut milk, sweet potatoes and broccoli. We modified the original recipe – taken from One Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson – and added Caribbean Jerk Marinade to give it more ‘pop’. This recipe took 30 minutes (or less) and serves 4 people.

Jamaican-style Coconut Rice Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil or 1/4 cup water
  • 1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 russet or sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (we prefer sweet potato)
  • 1/2 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (we prefer red)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped (or 1 1/2 tsp. minced)
  • 1 or 2 small hot chiles, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 medium-size zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 (13 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked dark red kidney beans or 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups hot cooked rice, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Caribbean Jerk Marinade (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, potato (or sweet potato), bell pepper, garlic, and chili, and sauce for 5 minutes to soften. Add the thyme, broccoli, zucchini, and coconut milk, stirring to combine, then stir in the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in Caribbean Jerk Marinade (if using) and heat through.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve over the cooked rice in shallow bowls with a squeeze of lime, if desired.

Lentil and Butternut Soup

I had purchased a butternut squash and was looking for a recipe to use it. This has been a cold winter – a good time for veggie-packed soups. I thought I would try this lentil and butternut soup recipe to add some color to our menu. It ended up making a lot (6+ servings) and is another way to get some protein (lentils) and nutrient-rich leafy greens (I like to use spinach). This recipe was taken from “One Dish Vegan” by Robin Robertson and is budget friendly. I made some minor adjustments – including adding the squash earlier. Preparation should take an hour total (about 15 minutes to peel and cut veggies and 45 minutes to cook). You could try putting all the ingredients into a crock pot and cooking on low for 3-4 hours. If you try it – let me know how it turns out. 🙂

Lentil and Butternut Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or 1/4 cup water
  • 1 medium-size onion, minced
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 7 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small (or med.) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (about 3 cups) – use 5+ cups for 6+ servings.
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped stemmed chard, kale, or other leafy greens (I like to use spinach)
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil or water in a large pot (or dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the lentils, squash, tomatoes with their juices, marjoram, and broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 35 minutes (covered). Stir in the greens and thyme and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are tender (about 10 – 15 minutes). Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve hot.

Linguine Vegetable Toss

Linguine Vegetable Toss

I was recently looking through my recipes and found this one written in my mother’s handwriting. My Mom is 84 is not a vegetarian or vegan, but she has always liked to try new recipes from time to time. This dish is easy (takes 30 – 35 minutes), is packed with vegetables and noodles, and serves 6 – 8 people (great for a family). Both my husband and I really liked it and I’ve been enjoying the left-overs this week (yummy!).

Linguine Vegetable Toss

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz box of linguine or other pasta
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into strips
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups zucchini unsealed, cut into thin strips
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 cloves of garlic (2 tsp.) minced
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 4 scallions (green onion) sliced
  • 4 cups plumb tomatoes cut into chunks (I substituted this with 2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (unsalted)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Linguine and carrots after cooking together
  1. Start by cutting up all the veggies (ask someone to help – it will go quicker)
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, red pepper and garlic. Cook until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add oregano, basil, zucchini, and scallions. Cook until tender. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 8 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, put pasta and carrots in a pot of boiling water. Cook for 8 minutes (or whatever is called for on package). Drain and put back into pot.
  5. Slowly combine sautĂ©ed vegetable mixture with pasta and toss until coated. I like to put the pasta in a large serving bowl (pictured above) and then cover it with the veggie mixture and toss it together. My Mom’s recipe says, “Don’t let veggies fall to the bottom of the bowl.”
Veggie mixture simmering

I like to top this dish with some nutritional yeast in place of parmesan cheese.

Linguine Vegetable Toss

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Lentil Sloppy Joes

As a vegan, it is sometime a challenge to know what dishes to bring to social gatherings. Recently our church had a special potluck lunch with the theme “Holy Smokes” – featuring BBQ meat dishes. I took up the challenge and decided to try a recipe I found in the Feb/March 2019 edition of Taste of Home Magazine. This would be a great meal for families with younger kids. It was simple to make, tastes great and it serves 14 (perfect for potlucks and family gatherings)!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced (3 tsp.)
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 5 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can (8 0z) tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
  • 4 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 14 whole wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted.

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, peppers and carrot; cook and stir until crisp-tender, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
  2. Add broth and lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered until the lentils are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve on buns.

Note: I found that this mixture was too sloppy so you may want to reduce the vegetable broth some. It did thickened some in the fridge overnight.

Nutrition info: 1 sandwich: 215 cal., 5 g fat (1 sat. fat), 0 cholesterol, 438mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate (8g sugar, 7 g fiber), 8g protein.

How do you get your protein?

The first question most people ask when they discover that we eat a plant based diet is “why”? I covered our reasons on my home page: “You don’t Eat No Meat?!” The second question they ask is – “How do you get your protein without eating meat or dairy?” I remember asking my vegan friends the very same question.

The simple answer is – plants supply all the protein I need for a balanced diet. We get protein from the same place other herbivores do – plants! Those eating a vegan diet can get plenty of protein from grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, leafy greens and small amounts of healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocado. Here is a video posted by Dr. Michael Greger (NutritionFacts.org) that talks about plant-based proteins being better for long-term health than meat & dairy (Published on Oct 26, 2011).

According to Medical News Today.com, these are the top 15 sources of plant-based protein:

Tofu in curry sauce
  1. Tofu, tempeh, and edamame
    1. Firm tofu (soybean curds) contains about 10 g of protein per ½ cup.
    2. Edamame beans (immature soybeans) contain 8.5 g of protein per ½ cup.
    3. Tempeh contains about 15 g of protein per ½ cup.
  2. Lentils  
    1. Red or green lentils contain plenty of protein, fiber, and key. nutrients, including iron and potassium. Cooked lentils contain 8.84 g of protein per ½ cup.
  3. Chickpeas
    1. Cooked chickpeas are high in protein, containing around 7.25 g per ½ cup.
  4. Peanut Butter
    1. Peanuts are protein-rich, full of healthful fats, and may improve heart health. They contain around 20.5 g of protein per ½ cup.
    2. Peanut butter is also rich in protein, with 8 g per tablespoon, making peanut butter sandwiches a healthful complete protein snack.
  5. Almonds
    1. Almonds offer 16.5 g of protein per ½ cup. They also provide a good amount of vitamin E, which is great for the skin and eyes.
  6. Spirulina:
    1. Spirulina is blue or green algae that contain around 8 g of protein per 2 tablespoons. It is also rich in nutrients, such as iron, B vitamins (although not vitamin B-12) and manganese.
  7. Quinoa
    1. Quinoa is a grain with a high-protein content, and is a complete protein. Cooked quinoa contains 8 g of protein per cup.
  8. Mycoprotein
    1. Mycoprotein is a fungus-based protein. Mycoprotein products contain around 13 g of protein per ½ cup serving.
  9. Chia seeds
    1. Chia and hemp seeds are complete sources of protein that can be used to make smoothies, yogurts, and puddings.
    2. Seeds are low-calorie foods that are rich in fiber and heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are a complete source of protein that contain 2 g of protein per tablespoon.
  10. Hemp seeds
    1. Similarly to chia seeds, hemp seeds are a complete protein. Hemp seeds offer 5 g of protein per tablespoon. 
  11. Beans with rice
    1. Separately, rice and beans are incomplete protein sources. Eaten together, this classic meal can provide 7 g of protein per cup.
  12. Potatoes
    1. A large baked potato offers 8 g of protein per serving. Potatoes are also high in other nutrients, such as potassium and vitamin C.
  13. Protein-rich vegetables
    1. Many dark-colored, leafy greens and vegetables contain protein.
    2. A single, medium stalk of broccoli contains about 4 g of protein
    3. Kale offers 2 g of protein per cup.
    4. 5 medium mushrooms offer 3 g of protein
  14. Seitan
    1. Seitan is a complete protein made from mixing wheat gluten with various spices. The high-wheat content means that it should be avoided by people with celiac or gluten intolerance. For others, it can be a protein-rich healthful meat substitute.
    2. When cooked in soy sauce, which is rich in the amino acid lysine, seitan becomes a complete protein source offering 21 g per 1/3 cup.
  15. Ezekiel bread
    1. Ezekiel bread is a nutrient-dense alternative to traditional bread. It is made from barley, wheat, lentils, millet, and spelt.
    2. Ezekiel bread offers 4 g of protein per slice. Get even more protein by toasting Ezekiel bread and spreading it with peanut or almond butter.

I also found a more extensive list that can be printed out at a website called OrdinaryVegan.com.

Do I have to eat all this stuff??

To be honest, I have not tried every food item on the list above. In fact some I have never even heard of (Spirulina). I just wanted to share this list so you can see that you don’t have to eat tofu every day just to get the daily recommended amount of protein. There are many options and most of them are actually cheaper to purchase than meat or cheese. I would say that most of our daily protein comes from beans, nuts, dark green vegetables and quinoa. We add tofu or tempeh to an occasional recipe but usually only once every 2 or 3 weeks.

Do you get the ‘Meat Shakes’??

Roasted boar in Tuscany, Italy

A friend of mine once asked me if I experienced any meat withdrawal symptoms when I stopped eating meat (he called it the “meat shakes”). Although I occasionally crave Chick-Fil-A or some good BBQ pulled pork – I am actually fine not eating meat and dairy. My taste buds have changed to actually want to eat more veggies and fruit. To be honest, I actually feel relieved to not have to deal with slimy chicken breasts and bloody red meat. It used to make me hate cooking – for real! I will say that I still have a weakness for ice-cream or anything chocolate (which is not good for my sugars – see blood tests below). We found a really good coconut based ice-cream called “So Delicious” which is true to it’s name.

I also wanted to share my most recent blood work (below) which was taken just a couple weeks ago. You will see that the protein in my blood has not gone down much at all since I began eating vegan in June of 2017. The good news is that my cholesterol still remains low – compared to 2015 and 2016 (when it was inching up to 200).

The only nutrients that are not found in a vegan diet are B12 and Omega 3 fatty acids. We take a multi-vitamin that provides the B12 and other B vitamins and I also use nutritional yeast a few times a week (has the same nutrients). I’ve recently found a plant based source for Omega 3 called Ahiflower Oil (it can be found on Amazon at a reasonable price). Flaxseed oil is another possible source.

I hope this information helps you understand how easy it is to get protein on a healthy plant-based diet. If anyone asks you about protein, just tell them that broccoli has more protein, per calorie than steak! If you would like to learn more about eating a healthier plant-based diet make sure to sign up for or follow my blog.

Mediterranean Pasta

Some friends took me out to lunch for my birthday earlier this week and I had a fantastic Mediterranean Pasta dish. It had all my favorite ingredients: spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes and pine nuts! I was determined to try to make it for my husband.

Tonight I looked up the menu description online and decided to take my best stab at replicating the recipe. I also had help from another Mediterranean Pasta recipe I found on Wellplated.com. I made some modifications and swapped out a few ingredients. My husband loved it and rated it 5 stars – even without the feta cheese! It only took about 25 minutes to prepare and serves up to 4 people. This is so easy and the savory flavor would go well with a nice sweet wine.

Mediterranean Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz (or half a box) of penne pasta (a little more if serving 4)
  • 4 cloves of garlic – minced (about 2 tsp)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (or 1/4 cup water if avoiding oil)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes – cut in half
  • 1 can or (14 oz) jar quartered artichoke hearts (I use water-packed)
  • 1 can whole pitted black olives (6 oz) – drained and sliced (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • A pinch (about 1/8 tsp) of red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz of sliced of baby bella mushrooms (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups of baby spinach (stems removed)
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes – chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup feta or parmesan cheese (omit if vegan)
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley – or fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Instructions

  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tsp. of salt (opt.). Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain.
  2. While water boils and pasta cooks, prep vegetables and remaining ingredients: mince garlic, cut cherry tomatoes in half, drain and roughly chop the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil (or 1/4 cup water if not using oil) over medium high heat. Add the cherry tomatoes, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, the 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes (if using). Sauté, stirring frequently unit the garlic is fragrant and the tomatoes begin to break down and release some juices into the oil, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat. Add the artichokes, olives if using, and spinach. Dried the lemon juice over the pasta. Continue tossing and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the spinach is wilted and the mixture is warmed through. If pasta seems too dry, add a splash of the reserved pasta water to loosen it. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as desired. Remove from heat and sprinkle with feta (or grated Parmesan), pine nuts and parsley or basil.

Creative left-overs in a flash!

I don’t know about you – but most weekends we try to clean out our fridge before going to the store to restock. Although veggies tend to last longer in the fridge than meat – they can still go bad if not used within the week. Here are a couple of go-to recipes for using up those left over veggies.

Stir Fry Veggies and Tomatoes:

This week I had to find a use for left over spaghetti and spaghetti squash, zucchini squash, mushrooms, a yellow pepper and half an onion. After a busy week, dinner was basically on the table in about 20 minutes or less. It serves 2 – 4 people depending on amount of veggies and pasta.

Ingredients:

  1. 3 cups of cup up veggies (zucchini, colored peppers, mushrooms, onion – or whatever sounds good to you).
  2. 1 Tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning
  4. Salt and pepper to taste
  5. 1 – 14.5 oz can of tomatoes, undrained (optional: Diced tomatoes with onions and garlic)
  6. 2 cups of cooked spaghetti or other pasta (or cooked rice)
Veggie and Tomato Stir Fry

Instructions:

  1. Sautés the veggies in a tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes (add 1 tsp. of minced garlic during last minute)
  2. Stir in 14.5 oz can of undrained diced tomatoes with garlic and onions. Add 1+ tsp. of Italian seasoning.
  3. Let mixture simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Check to make sure the veggies are tender and then add a little salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve over the warmed spaghetti noodles, spaghetti squash or rice.
  6. Optional: top with Nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan (ground up almonds and Nutritional yeast).
Veggie and Tomato Stir Fry over spaghetti squash

Sweet Potato & Bean Quesadillas

Another favorite quick and recipe using left-overs is Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas. These are easy to make for 2 – 4 people or more depending on how many sweet potatoes and tortillas you have on hand. If you are not vegan you may choose to add the cheese. If you are vegan – it tastes fine without cheese. I found this recipe in the Feb/March 2014 issue Taste of Home magazine. This takes 30 minutes or less to make.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Quesadillas

Ingredients:

  1. 2 medium sweet potatoes
  2. 4 whole wheat tortillas (8 inch)
  3. 3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  4. 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (omit if you are dairy-free)
  5. 3/4 cup salsa
  6. Vegan sour cream (optional)
  7. Diced Avocado (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Scrub sweet potatoes: pierce several times with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 7 – 9 minutes or until tender, turning once.
  2. When cool enough to handle, cut each potato lengthwise in half. Scoop out pulp and spread onto one half of each tortilla. Top with beans and cheese (optional). Fold other half of tortilla over filling.
  3. Heat a griddle or a skillet over medium heat. Cook for 2 -3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve with salsa, vegan sour cream and/or avocado chunks (or guacamole).

Another quick and easy recipe to use left over veggies is the “Everything Minestrone” recipe that I shared in a previous post entitled “Soup in a Hurry”.

Show your heart some love!

I thought Valentine’s Day would be the perfect time to talk about something very near and dear to each of us. In fact, none of us could live without it! It is your heart!

On this day we see hearts everywhere, but we rarely think about our own heart and how important it is to us (or to those we love). You may already know this, but Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. and also the leading cause of death worldwide.* That’s right – not cancer, not drugs, not suicide – but something that in most cases is preventable.

My Dad’s list of 12 medications

This hits close to home for many of us with aging parents. It was just a year ago this week that my family gathered to mourn the death of my father. He died of a massive stroke at the age of 85 after having surgery to restore circulation to his foot (which had a bad ulcer). He had high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and was taking 12 medications just to stay alive (I found this list in his personal calendar). Like many men his age, he was overweight, rarely ever exercised and had a love for food (which I do as well). He was a veteran of the Korean War, faithfully loved his wife for 64 years, provided for us 4 kids – but he didn’t make his health a priority. Now my Mom is living alone in an assisted living facility and dealing with dementia.

As we get older, we look at our parents to see what we could become (both good and bad). Some of us have the genetics hardwired toward certain diseases and we just accept the fact that we will probably have to deal with the same illnesses. When I stated in this blog, I mentioned how genetic testing showed that I have a higher chance of getting several diseases that my parents and grandparents dealt with (and are still dealing with). There is good news, though! Science is starting to show the impact of healthy lifestyle choices in preventing and even reversing many of these same diseases!

One of the websites that lead to my husband and I cutting out meat, fish and dairy from our diet was NutritionFacts.org. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM also had seen firsthand what heart disease did to his own family and it lead to his becoming a medical doctor. Today many doctors ignore diet as a means to prevent or treat disease and instead just prescribe more medicine with terrible side affects. Even as far back as the ancient Greeks, the physician, Hippocrates knew the importance of good nutrition to counteract disease. He is quoted as saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

OK – I’ll get off my soapbox for now and give you a heart-healthy recipe to cook up for your favorite Valentine. But remember, the biggest gift you can give any of your loved ones is a healthy heart. Lord willing, you will be sticking around for them as long as possible!

Black bean and sweet potato chili

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

This is one of our favorite soups for cold nights. I love the colors, flavors and textures – and it has been a hit with company who come to visit and are not into the vegan thing. Another bonus is the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find at your local Aldi or grocery store. I found this recipe in One Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson. It serves 4 – 6 and takes about 1 hour to prepare (depending on help with chopping).

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I like sweet yellow onions)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced (optional: we leave this out because it’s too spicy for us wimps)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, plus more if needed (I use low sodium if available)
  • 1 1/2 – 3 Tbsp chili powder (according to taste)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups cooked black beans or 2 (15.5 oz) cans black beans, rinsed drained
  1. Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until softened (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add the sweet potatoes, chipotles (if using), diced tomatoes with their juices, crushed tomatoes, broth, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, salt, and beans. Stir to combine, then bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender (about 45 minutes).
  3. Add more broth if the chili is too thick for your taste. If you prefer a thicker chili, cook uncovered for 15 minutes to thicken. Serve hot. We like to serve this with vegan cornbread muffins.

*According to the article, “The top 10 leading causes of death in the United States” posted by Medical News Today. Last updated 23 February 2017 By Hannah NicholsReviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP

Ziti with Sicilian-style tomato sauce

This is one of our favorite Italian dishes. It is filling, quick and easy to make, and serves 4-6 depending on how much pasta you use. With two of us cutting up the veggies it took about 35-40 minutes total to prepare. This recipe is taken from the book One dish Vegan, by Robin Robertson (page 136).

Ziti with Sicilian-style tomato sauce

Ingredients:

  1. 1 Tbsp olive oil
  2. 2 vegan sausage links, chopped (optional)
  3. 1 small yellow (sweet) onion, chopped
  4. 1 small eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  5. 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice
  6. 5 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 1/2 tsp)
  7. 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  8. 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  9. 1/2 tsp dried basil
  10. 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  11. 1/2 tsp natural sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)
  12. 1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes, undrained
  13. 1 Tbsp capers, drained
  14. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  15. 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried basil (optional)
  16. 8 to 12 oz of uncooked ridged ziti or penne pasta

Directions:

  1. If using the vegan sausage, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned. Transfer the sausage to a plate and reserve.
  2. Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Add the onion, eggplant, and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and a little water if needed so the vegetables do not burn. Cook for 1 minute longer.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, oregano, 1/2 tsp dried basil, red pepper flakes, sugar, diced tomatoes and their juices, capers, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring just to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have blended, about 15 minutes.
  4. In the mean time, cook the ziti (or penne pasta) in a large pot of salted boiling water, stirring occasional until it is al dente (about 9 minutes). Drain well and return to the pot.
  5. Add the fresh basil and the reserved sausage, if using, to the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Keep warm over low heat.
  6. Add the cooked and drained pasta to the sauce and toss gently to combine. Serve hot, garnished with parsley if desired.

I like to top this dish with “faux parmesan” (a mixture of Nutritional Yeast and ground almonds) and serve with crusty whole grain bread and vegan butter. The leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen for another delicious meal.

Quick Burrito Bowls

Who doesn’t like to get a quick bite at Chipotle for some yummy Mexican? I was looking for more ways to use my 49 cent avocados from Aldi and I thought – how about a burrito bowl? We really enjoy their burrito bowls with beans, rice, lettuce and chorizo (plant-based protein). I’ve run across a few recipes that are really delicious and quick to make when we are craving Mexican. Our new favorite is the vegan burrito bowl, taken from Forks over Knives. I’ve added some of our customizations in italics.

Vegan Burrito Bowl

Vegan Burrito Bowl

By Heather McDougall. Serves 2 – 4 Ready in 30 minutes or less (depending on the use of pre-cooked beans, grains and chips).

Ingredients:

  • Baked tortilla chips (see notes)
  • 2 – 4 cups of cooked grains (see notes)
  • 2 – 4 cups chopped romain lettuce or steamed kale
  • 2 – 4 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 – 2 chopped green onions (opt.)
  • 1 – 2 cups corn kernels (see notes)
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • Fresh salsa (our favorite is Newman’s Own Peach Salsa)
  • Vegan sour cream (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Break a handful of the chips into pieces in the bottom of each serving bowl.
  2. Spoon some of the cooked grains over the chips followed by some of beans, then layer on the rest of the toppings: lettuce or kale, tomatoes, onions (if using), corn, and avocado. Top with the salsa and a spoon full of vegan sour cream if desired.

Notes:

Chips: Read labels carefully to find baked chips without added fat, or make your own chips from soft corn tortillas: Cut them into wedges, spritz with water, and bake at 300 degrees until crisp.

We found some great healthy chips like these Veggie and Flaxseed Corn Tortilla chips from Aldi (right). We also really like the organic blue corn chips from Meijer. You can find a variety of options in the health health food aisle of your local grocery store. Make sure to check the nutrition label for added sodium and fat.

Grains: If you have leftover cooked grains and beans in your refrigerator, this can be a really fast meal. We like to use the Simply Nature Seven Grain pre-cooked blend from Aldi or the Birdseye Protein Blends Southwest Style (does contain a small amount of skim milk – see packages ingredients below).

Beans: You can slow-cook your own beans, cook them in a pressure cooker in a fraction of the time, or use canned beans (we like organic black beans from Aldi).

Chorizo: We found this Loma Linda Chorizo (plant based protein) at our local grocery store and gave it a try (see below). It isn’t bad – but it was saltier and not as light as Chipotle. Give a try if you want the feel of meat in your burrito bowl.

Burrito Bowl with Chorizo

Corn: I usually use frozen organic corn kernels thawed under cold running water until tender and then drained well.

Vegan Sour Cream: We found that we liked Tofutti vegan sour cream as a toping (pictured below) – available from Whole Food and some other food stores.

This recipe is very flexible and may be different every time you make it depending on the ingredients you have on hand. Enjoy experimenting with it and let your kids pick and choose what they want in their burrito bowl.