This quick and easy dish taken from “SmartintheKitchen.com” can be served alone or over rice or noodles. I added baked tofu (using the Easiest Crispy Tofu Recipe) but you could serve it with your favorite protein substitute (like seitan, etc.). Use fresh vegetables if you have then (like peppers, mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, etc) – but frozen stir fry mix is just as good and faster. This recipe takes about 20 minutes – but add another 25 – 30 minutes if making the crispy tofu too. Serves 4 – 6
1 Tbsp coconut oil or avocado oil
1 package frozen stir fry mix, without sauce
1 package frozen broccoli, without sauce
5 green onions, cut on diagonally into then slices
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated (I use ginger paste from a tube – available at Aldi)
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
1/3 cup tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), soy sauce or coconut aminos (or more to taste)
Sesame seeds, cilantro leaves or green onion (optional garnish)
Crispy Tofu Ingredients:
1 14 oz block of Extra Firm Tofu (if using)
2 Tbsp of Nutritional Yeast
1 Tbsp Reduced-sodium Soy Sauce or Tamari
If using crispy tofu – follow directions below (takes 45+ minutes – but can be baking while you make the vegetable stir fry).
In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, add 2 Tbsp coconut oil or avocado oil.
Add green onions, ginger and garlic and sauce until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add both bags of frozen vegetables and cook until tender. Don’t worry about defrosting them, just add them frozen and let the pan do the work.
Once vegetables have softened and thawed, add the tamari or soy sauce and taste for seasoning.
Add crispy tofu if it is ready (see recipe below).
Garnish with sesame seeds, fresh green onion slices or cilantro if you’d like.
Instructions for “the Easiest Crispy Tofu Recipe” (taken from “FrommyBowl.com“)
I don’t often make tofu to be perfectly honest (it tends to be mushy). The good news is – I finally found a very easy and fool-proof way to make crispy tofu that actually tastes good!
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Cut tofu into 16 cubes (about 1″)
Add tofu to a large bowl and add 1 Tbsp of Soy Sauce or Tamari toss with spatula.
Add Nutritional Yeast and gently mix until coated (add more Nutritional Yeast or extra seasoning to taste.
Transfer coated tofu cubes to a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat, leaving space between the cubes. Bake on the top rack to the oven for 20 minutes, then carefully flip the cubes. Bake for another 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your tofu. Leftovers will last in the fridge for up to one week.
This is my new summer favorite vegan dish! It is simple and quick to make – and it uses some of my favorite ingredients: avocado, quinoa and black beans. It is perfect for hot summer nights when you don’t want to cook over a hot stove. It is great for left-overs too (in fact, I like it cold). Again, all these ingredients can be found at Aldi which makes this a reasonably priced and quick vegan meal that your whole family will enjoy!
This dish can be found on page 44 of “One Dish Vegan” and it serves about 4. It usually takes me about 20 minutes or less. For mine I like to substitute black beans for the pinto beans. Enjoy!
1 1/2 cups of water
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto or black beans or 1 (15.5 oz) can of pinto or black beans – rinsed and drained
1 cup tomato salsa (our favorite is Newman’s Own Peach Salsa)
2 ripe Hass avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (opt)
2 scallions, minced (opt)
Juice and zest of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp. lime juice)
Freshly ground black pepper
Torn mixed salad greens for serving (opt)
Place water in a saucepan, add 1/2 tsp salt, and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa, return to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl to cool. (I like to pop the bowl into the refrigerator until the other ingredients are ready to add).
Add the beans and salsa to the the bowl, and toss to combine. Add the avocados, cilantro, scallions, lime juice and zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
If serving as a salad: arrange the salad greens on plates, top with the quinoa-bean mixture and serve.
I prepared this delicious and colorful dish for supper last night and served it over quinoa. This easy to prepare dish is from “One-Dish Vegan” by Robin Robertson and is packed full of antioxidants and protein from all veggies! It is soy and gluten-free depending on what you serve it over (couscous, rice, pasta, quinoa, or warm flatbread). It took me about 30 minutes to prepare and it serves approximately 4.
1 Tbsp olive oil or 1/4 cup water
1 medium (or half large) yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
6 t0 8 cups chopped stemmed kale, spinach or chard
Lemon wedges, for serving
2 cups of cooked quinoa, couscous, rice or pasta (enough for 4 servings)
Cut up the onion, sweet potato and spinach (spinach needed last).
Follow directions for cooking about 2 cups of couscous, rice, pasta or quinoa.
In the meantime, heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally, Add the sweet potato, coriander, paprika, thyme, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.
Add the tomatoes with their juices, chickpeas, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the kale (or spinach/chard), stirring to wilt. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender – about another 10-15 minutes. Serve hot over couscous, quinoa, pasta or flatbread and top with a squeeze of lemon.
Today’s Bonus Tip:
Eating a plant-based diet is great for your health – but we need to be mindful of toxins from the environment (chemical pesticides and fertilizers) found on our fruits and vegetables.
Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a list of the “Dirty Dozen,” or the fruits and vegetables the nonprofit claims have the highest amount of pesticides when grown conventionally versus organically.
The EWG has compiled the list annually since 2004 based on internal data that’s not peer-reviewed. Using 40,900 samples for 47 different types of produce, the EWG found these twelve had the most pesticide residue:
The 2019 Dirty Dozen Foods List:
Strawberries rank number one for the fourth year in a row, and the rest of the list looks similar to years past with one exception: Kale made the top 12 for the first time in a decade.
If you’re concerned about pesticides, the EWG also publishes a list of the “Clean 15,” a.k.a. the produce from conventional growers that generally had less residue in the group’s tests. This year they are:
I was looking for side dish to bring to our church’s annual birthday party potluck and I found this delicious vegetarian salad. Originally called “Summer Salad by the Lake” this salad was created by Ramya Ramamurthy – and was chosen as one of the winning winning entries for the Taste of Home Summer Sides Contest – included in their 2018 issue. I made it on two separate occasions: on a week night I cut the recipe in half for just my husband and I (didn’t include the pineapple) – and then the full recipe for the potluck. Several people asked me for the recipe afterword.
2 medium sweet bell peppers, sliced (I used red and yellow)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 12 tsp. salt
1 cup uncooked pearl (Israeli) couscous
1/2 cup red quinoa (I used regular), rinsed
2 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-in pieces
2 cups fresh baby spinach (or arugula)
1 cup cubed fresh pineapple (or Mandarin oranges or mango chunks)
1/2 cup fresh shelled peas or frozen peas (thawed)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (omit for vegan recipe)
1/2 cup sunflower kernels (pepitas) toasted
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp grated lemon zest
12 tsp. salt
12 tsp. pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl toss together garlic, sweet peppers, oil, salt and pepper; transfer to a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. Roast until dark golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, set aside.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring water, oil and salt to a boil. Stir in the couscous and quinoa. Reduce heat; simmer, covered for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Transfer the couscous and quinoa to the large bowl. Stir in the remaining salad ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients until blended. Pour over salad and gently toss to coat.
Substitutions: You can use peaches, Mandarin oranges or mango chunks instead of pineapple, or cherry tomatoes instead of heirloom tomato pieces. In the winder, use root veggies such as roasted carrots, broccoli or squash.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve over the cooked rice in shallow bowls with a squeeze of lime, if desired.
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. 🙂
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
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.
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.
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)!
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.
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.
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.
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).
Firm tofu (soybean curds) contains about 10 g of protein per ½ cup.
Edamame beans (immature soybeans) contain 8.5 g of protein per ½ cup.
Tempeh contains about 15 g of protein per ½ cup.
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.
Cooked chickpeas are high in protein, containing around 7.25 g per ½ cup.
Peanuts are protein-rich, full of healthful fats, and may improve heart health. They contain around 20.5 g of protein per ½ cup.
Peanut butter is also rich in protein, with 8 g per tablespoon, making peanut butter sandwiches a healthful complete protein snack.
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.
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.
Quinoa is a grain with a high-protein content, and is a complete protein. Cooked quinoa contains 8 g of protein per cup.
Mycoprotein is a fungus-based protein. Mycoprotein products contain around 13 g of protein per ½ cup serving.
Chia and hemp seeds are complete sources of protein that can be used to make smoothies, yogurts, and puddings.
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.
Similarly to chia seeds, hemp seeds are a complete protein. Hemp seeds offer 5 g of protein per tablespoon.
Beans with rice
Separately, rice and beans are incomplete protein sources. Eaten together, this classic meal can provide 7 g of protein per cup.
A large baked potato offers 8 g of protein per serving. Potatoes are also high in other nutrients, such as potassium and vitamin C.
Many dark-colored, leafy greens and vegetables contain protein.
A single, medium stalk of broccoli contains about 4 g of protein
Kale offers 2 g of protein per cup.
5 medium mushrooms offer 3 g of protein
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.
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.
Ezekiel bread is a nutrient-dense alternative to traditional bread. It is made from barley, wheat, lentils, millet, and spelt.
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’??
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.