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.
I’ve struggled with finding a good vegan sandwich that is quick to make and easy to pack for outings. I remembered my niece sending me a recipe for chickpea salad – but I couldn’t find it anywhere. So, I did a search online and found this very easy and very delicious recipe. I was able to whip it up in 15 minutes – and take it with me for lunch with my choir group.
This recipe was published on July 26, 2018 by Michelle Blackwood (updated on May 6, 2019) on her blog, “Healthier Steps“. “Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans are high in protein and a great replacement for meat. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.”
15 ounces chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1 stalk celery (finely chopped)
1/4 cup red bell pepper (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons red onion (finely chopped) – optional
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegan mayo (I used Just Mayo extra to spread on the bread)
4 slices bread (I used gluten-free bread)
2 lettuce leaves
Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas), and place them into a bowl. Next mash chickpeas with a fork or a potato masher.
Then add chopped red onions (if using), red bell pepper. celery, dill, vegan mayo, salt to taste and mix to combine.
Spread between slices of bread with lettuce.
This delicious, colorful and crunchy salad recipe would make a perfect sandwich for potlucks, school, work, or a family trip.
If you like Thai cuisine, I think you will enjoy this recipe with crunchy fresh asparagus and a delicious peanut butter sauce. I’m not a huge fan of tofu – but this is one of the best tofu dishes I have ever tasted! It is taken from One Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson. I really like this cook book for it’s simple and varied recipes that are easy to follow and use easy to find ingredients. This simple to follow recipe took us only about 30 minutes to make. It makes about 4 servings and the leftovers are delicious.
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp wheat-free Tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tsp ketchup
1/2 tsp natural sugar
2 tsp Asian chili paste, or to taste (I use Pad Thai sauce)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
14 oz extra-firm tofu, well drained, blotted dry, and cut into 1/2 inch dice
6 scallions (green onions) chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced (1 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup water
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Cooked jasmine rice (or instant brown rice), for serving
Prepare jasmine or other rice according to directions on package (make enough for 4 servings). Note: Jasmine rice will take about 40 minutes to cook.
In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, vinegar, 1 Tbsp of the tamari, the ketchup, sugar, and chili paste until well blended. Stir in the coconut milk, then taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and sauté until browned (about 7 minutes). Add the scallions, garlic, ginger, and the remaining 2 Tbsp tamari, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Remove the tofu mixture from the skillet and keep warm.
Pour the water into the same skillet over high heat, add the asparagus and stir-fry until just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the reserved tofu mixture, about half of the peanut sauce, and the cherry tomatoes, and toss gently to heat through. Serve at once over hot cooked rice. Drizzle the remaining peanut sauce over the top of each serving and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and basil.
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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 know I’ve said this before – but this Thai-inspired noodle dish truly is one of our favorite recipes! It is super easy to make and tastes so fresh and full of flavor. It only takes about 30 minutes (or less) to make and serves 4 people. You may already have the ingredients in your fridge! I found this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine. They state that the nutritional value per serving is: 365 calories, 13 grams fat (2 sat.), 567 mg sodium, 57 grams carb., 10 grams fiber and 14 grams of protein.
2 1/2 tsp grated lime peel (finely grated)
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. water
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger root (available in paste form in the produce section)
2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 oz. uncooked whole wheat linguine or spaghetti
2 cups small fresh broccoli florets
2 medium carrots, grated
1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned
2 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
Prepare the veggies as listed.
Place the first 10 ingredients in a blender or food processor; cover and process until blended.
Cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli during the last 5 minutes. Drain.
Transfer pasta and broccoli to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Add peanut butter mixture and toss to combine.
Optional: serve with chopped peanuts as a topping.
Give this colorful and delicious dish a try for Meatless Mondays - I think your family will enjoy it!
One of the biggest challenges we had when we first became vegans was dining out. Many restaurants just don’t offer many vegan options. The good news is – plant-based eating is becoming more and more popular.
We recently returned from a week-long trip to Berea, Kentucky and had a wonderful time exploring the beautiful trails, shopping for interesting handmade craft items, and eating some amazing plant-based food. We were fortunate this time – to find several good vegan entrees from local restaurants.
Below is a kale salad I had at the Trustee’s Table at Shaker Village of Pleasant Valley, KY. It was one of the best tasting salads I’ve ever tasted – for real! The ingredients included kale greens, Granny Smith Apples, Dried Cranberries, Sunflower Seeds, Grated Parmesan (not vegan), Lemon Parmesan Dressing. I’m not a huge fan of kale – but this kale was finely chopped and mixed well with all other ingredients. The flavor combination was amazing! I also had their delicious black bean soup and my husband had a bowl of their tomato celery soup along with a simple salad. This restaurant prides itself in being “seed to table” and they“celebrate Shaker Village’s roots by featuring dishes made of seasonal ingredients from our garden and local farmers.” No wonder the food was so fresh-tasing and good!
Another great place for vegan fare was Noodle Nirvana. This local hole-in-the-wall place served up a great variety of Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese-inspired bowls where you choose your noodles: ramen, pho (rice noodles), glass noodles, or “zoodles” (zucchini spirals). I chose the later along with sesame grilled tofu and a sweet and tangy pad Thai sauce. My husband chose rice noodles and the peanut sauce. Both dishes were delicious and we were impressed to find out that the restaurant gives 25% of it’s proceeds from the first Tuesday of every month to a non-profit that helps people in their community. Last year they raised over $44,000 for God’s Outreach Madison County Food Bank! Also, the Berea Urban Farm provides fresh, locally grown vegetables for the noodle bowls. Now that is truly a community centered eatery that we like to support.
Another great place for breakfast or lunch was the Native Bagel Company. I had the most amazing avocado spread on a whole wheat bagel. Their menu includes vegan options and their website tells that theirbagels are made fresh every morning and feature ingredients from over 20 local producers. I also liked their dining area which features an entire wall of plants (see below). How cool is that?
My husband happens to be half Italian so we usually like to find authentic Italian food when dining out. We found just the place – Papa Leno’s on the city square. We usually opt for a “build your own” pizza using our favorite ingredients: mushrooms, peppers, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. These guys know how to make a crust! It was bubbly, yeasty and very delicious (although we cheated and topped it with cheese). What is pizza without cheese, people?
One more food stop on our visit to Berea was the Berea College Farm Store. Even though the name sounds more like a produce store, they offer lunch daily, Tuesday through Saturday, made with ingredients produced by their student farming enterprises. The day we were there they had homemade soups, wraps, sandwiches and salads. We split a delicious veggie wrap made with hummus, spinach and lots of veggies. We also had some delicious home-made potato curry soup. Their fresh sourdough bread put out for diners to share was so good – we ended up purchasing a loaf to take home!
Dining Out Tips for Vegan:
Look up restaurants on travel sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp and search for the word “vegan” under categories or reviews.
Use a vegan app like Happy Cow to find vegan friendly restaurants – based on customer feedback.
Look up the online menu of a few well-rated restaurants and see what they offer for plant-eaters. Most restaurants will let you look at their menu before being seated.
Choose an Asian restaurant – they almost always offer a veggie stir-fry entree. Most of them will switch out tofu for just about any meat on their menu if you ask.
If you can’t find any vegan or vegetarian main entrees – look for an appetizer that is veggie-based (i.e. veggies & humus, or spring rolls, soups, fries, etc.).
Ask your server if they offer any vegan or vegetarian entrees. I did this when it was late and I had no where to go but to a Burger King drive through. They mentioned that they had a veggie burger even though it was not on the menu – and it was actually pretty good! Many burger places will offer a bean or veggie burger – even if it is not listed on the menu.
Order a salad! Most salads can be made large enough for an entree. If you add soup and/or bread – you will have a meal! Wendy’s, McDonalds, and even Chick-Fil-A offer a variety of salads. Just ask for them without the meat.
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.
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!).
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
Start by cutting up all the veggies (ask someone to help – it will go quicker)
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, red pepper and garlic. Cook until vegetables are tender.
Add oregano, basil, zucchini, and scallions. Cook until tender. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 8 minutes.
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.
Slowly combine sautéed 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.”
I like to top this dish with some nutritional yeast in place of parmesan cheese.
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.