"But food is not just a conversational common denominator like the weather is in Britain. The subject, sometimes passionately debated, represents a personal philosophy of life." --Kinta Beevor

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mock Egg Salad

     This is by far the best "egg salad" I've ever had and it doesn't have any eggs, mayo, or salt in it.  I mixed a brick of firm tofu with an equal amount of hummus.  Before using the tofu I put the brick in a colander and placed a weight on top of it for about 20 minutes. This removes excess water and makes for a firmer texture. I cut off about 1/4 of the brick and diced this portion and set it aside. Next, I mashed the other 3/4 of the brick of tofu into the hummus. To this mixture I added 1 tbsp. turmeric, a pinch of smoked paprika, 1 tbsp. no-salt seasoning, and chopped celery. Then I carefully incorporated the diced tofu.  
     Chill in a covered container in the refrigerator.  Pictured here is  a mock egg salad sandwich with freshly picked Boston lettuce on toasted Ezekiel 7 grain sprouted flourless bread.
  • Nasoya lite firm brick of tofu (14 ounce)
  • Sabra hummus
  • turmeric
  • no-salt seasoning
  • chopped celery
  • smoked paprika

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vegan Meatloaf with steamed vegetables

  Here's a vegan meatloaf that has the texture and zesty flavors that rival any meatloaf I've enjoyed in the past.  I served it with steamed cauliflower, steamed yellow squash, and a mix of red peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

Vegan Meat Loaf
1 10 ounce package of Tofu Crumbles
1 cup TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
1 or 2 chopped garlic cloves
3 tbsp. mustard
4 tbsp. Pomi strained tomatoes
4 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 cup cooked thin sliced onion
1/2 cup cooked red peppers (diced)
1/2 cup cooked mushrooms (sliced)
2 cups black beans (hand mash or  use food processor)
3 tbsp. flax meal 
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. dried basil
2 tbsp. no-salt seasoning
 splash of hot sauce
1 tsp. smoked paprika
3 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. salt 
3tbsp. veg broth or water
     With a large fork, mix all the ingredients together. I spread mine evenly and pat it down into a 9" X 12" glass Pyrex pan. 
     Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Split Pea Soup

    I used to think that it was the leftovers from the baked ham that gave split pea soup all its wonderful flavor.  Now I know otherwise. My split pea vegan soup has all the flavor I remember and none of the fat and salt.  No one who tries this soup misses the ham or the salt because it's the ground cloves and the split peas themselves that give this classic its distinctive flavor.
  I achieve a great texture to the soup by cooking some of the split peas in the pot of water along with the chopped onion, celery, and spices. When these peas are just getting soft, I add the rest of the peas to the pot and cook until these are tender.  This way, some peas are creamy and mushy, while others keep their pea shape and have a slight soft bite to them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mushroom Pasta

This recipe has all my favorite attributes for a home cooked meal--quick, easy, tasty, and nutritious. 
  • pasta
  • sauteed baby portobello mushrooms
  • roasted red peppers
  • tofu
  • no-salt seasoning
  • nutritional yeast

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lentil Soup

     One of the strategies I use to stay on the low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index, vegan eating plan is to always have proper foods on hand.  I make a big pot and freeze portions to serve on the days when I don't cook.  Freezing works very well for soups, cooked beans, and cooked pasta. Simply run warm water over the pasta and it defrosts and is ready to use in seconds.  I've been on a soup-making kick lately. Here's a hearty lentil soup.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Farro Soup

     It's funny how the most humble of ingredients can sometimes transform a simple meal into a cherished memory. In my case farro is this type of ingredient. Farro is a nutritious whole grain that has a firm chewy texture when it's cooked. It's an ingredient commonly found in Italian kitchens, and when I was living in Florence my friend Alice made farro soup for me.
     In Italy, food connects people to family, friends, and community. Relationships are forged on the walk to the daily outdoor markets where you buy food from folks you know who proudly raise and grow what they sell.
     Apartments in Florence are small and the kitchens are tiny.  Actually, "intimate" not "tiny" more appropriately describes these wonderful spaces.  I've had the most satisfying and memorable meals sometimes with one dear friend, other times with a crowd  fitting so comfortably that it defied the square footage.
    One blustery autumn day, Alice and I walked down the narrow side streets to a small shop that sold dried beans, rice, and grains like farro out of large open barrels.  It was akin to a mom-and-pop old general store--choc full of essential household and kitchen items. Things like clothes drying racks, tea kettles, rubber replacement washers for on-the-stovetop espresso coffee pots, emergency candles, matches, pots, aprons, and so on. The space was so crammed with stuff that only the proprietor himself knew where to fetch most things. This agile older gentleman would climb this precarious stair, that I swear was as ancient as the city itself, up to a small loft-like area where, with ease and efficiency, he'd collect the item and bring it down to you.
    The next day, while Alice put the finishing touches on the soup, I set a portion of the long narrow farm table with a hand embroidered linen table cloth, wine glasses, and china dishes. Yes, this simple farro soup is a part of a vivid and treasured memory.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Technical Difficulties

Blogger recently changed the way it uploads pictures to a blog post and I am unable to get my photos to upload. I've been trying to get this problem resolved.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Naturally Sweet

    My tastebuds have a renewed appreciation for the natural sweetness in fruit since I've cut added sugars and artifical sweeteners from my diet. For the best taste I search out ripe locally grown fruit when available. This summer I spent a month in southern California. Each day, my friend and I picked and enjoyed juicy sweet tree ripened nectarines from her back yard. It was such a treat.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Minestrone Soup

      Today is the first day of autumn and I celebrated by making a big pot of minestrone.  And, if I do say so myself, it's really good.  I get excited when a new vegan recipe turns out to be as good, or better than my non-vegan version of a favorite dish.
     I cooked the kidney beans in a big pot of water.  When the beans were nearly done I added the tomato, TVP, seasonings, fresh cut carrots, celery, onion, and yellow squash. I let the vegetables cook with the beans and water.  I kept the bean cooking water to add a little body to the soup.  I was careful to check the veggies so they didn't overcook to mush.
  Then, I added the frozen veggies, cooked chick peas, fresh spinach, and cooked pasta.  The heat already in the soup warmed these ingredients.
   One of the best things about minestrone is that you can vary the ingredients depending on what you have on hand.
  • kidney beans
  • no salt added diced tomatoes
  • no salt added crushed tomatoes
  • TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
  • garlic
  • bay leaf
  • basil
  • parsley
  • oregano
  • Spike no salt seasoning
  • turmeric
  • hot sauce
  • celery
  • carrots
  • onion
  • yellow squash
  • pasta
  • chick peas
  • frozen cut green beans
  • frozen corn
  • fresh spinach

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Navy and Pinto Bean Salsa

 Here in Florida, the balmy summer temperatures linger into September so I've been in the mood for recipes that call for fresh ingredients served cold. This quick and colorful salsa is a favorite because it is tasty and nutritious. Beans are low in fat and high in fiber. Navy beans contain 9 1/2 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup serving.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pasta Primavera

      Pasta primavera is a great example of a quick and easy vegan meal. I cook thin spaghetti and drain it in a colander. While it's still hot and steamy I add fresh raw spinach and tomato.  Next, in a large serving bowl, I toss steamed  fresh veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, and yellow squash with the pasta and wilted spinach.  Family style, everyone serves themselves and dresses and seasons their own dish to their taste.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Food For Thought

      Some vegans take a high moral ground saying that, since they eat vegetables, they sleep better at night because they avoid the cruelty and suffering associated with the meat, dairy, fish, and poultry industries.   I don't think store bought vegetables are guilt-free eating.  I recognize the realities of migrant workers who pick most of the produce we eat. I'm not saying it's all bad, but there is plenty of poverty and human suffering in this industry. Just saying, I'm grateful for the food I eat and appreciate the labor involved in producing it. The following article from Eye witness to history.com includes  Dorthea Lange's account of the day she took this photo of a widowed migrant mother.

In 1960, Lange described her experience in an interview with the magazine Popular Photography. The photos that accompany the following account are captioned with Lange's field notes: "It was raining, the camera bags were packed, and I had on the seat beside me in the car the results of my long trip, the box

"Nipomo, Calif. March 1936.
Migrant agricultural worker's family.
Seven hungry children and their
mother,aged 32. The father
is a native Californian."
containing all those rolls and packs of exposed film ready to mail back to Washington. It was a time of relief. Sixty-five miles an hour for seven hours would get me home to my family that night, and my eyes were glued to the wet and gleaming highway that stretched out ahead. I felt freed, for I could lift my mind off my job and think of home.
I was on my way and barely saw a crude sign with pointing arrow which flashed by at the side of the road, saying PEA-PICKERS CAMP. But out of the corner of my eye I did see it I didn't want to stop, and didn't. I didn't want to remember that I had seen it, so I drove on and ignored the summons. Then, accompanied by the rhythmic hum of the windshield wipers, arose an inner argument:
Dorothea, how about that camp back there? What is the situation back there?
Are you going back?
Nobody could ask this of you, now could they?
To turn back certainly is not necessary. Haven't you plenty if negatives already on this subject? Isn't this just one more if the same? Besides, if you take a camera out in this rain, you're just asking for trouble. Now be reasonable, etc. etc., etc.
Having well convinced myself for 20 miles that I could continue on, I did the opposite. Almost without realizing what I was doing I made a U-turn on the empty highway. I went back those 20 miles and turned off the highway at that sign, PEA-PICKERS CAMP.

"Destitute in a pea pickers camp,
because of the failure of the early
pea crop. These people had just sold
their tent in order to buy food."
I was following instinct, not reason; I drove into that wet and soggy camp and parked my car like a homing pigeon. I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was 32. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.
The pea crop at Nipomo had frozen and there was no work for anybody. But I did not approach the tents and shelters of other stranded pea-pickers. It was not necessary; I knew I had recorded the essence of my assignment."
   Lange, Dorothea, "The Assignment I'll Never Forget: Migrant Mother," Popular Photography (February 1960); Curtis, James. Mind's Eye, Mind's Truth: FSA Photography Reconsidered. (1989).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Good Earth Teas

     A friend introduced me to Good Earth Original caffeine free tea. It remains my favorite ever since that first cup. Its spicy sweet flavor hits the spot served iced or hot.  
     In place of a cup of coffee in the afternoon, my husband enjoys a mug of Good Earth Decaf Green Tea with lemongrass. He says it refreshes and revives his energy without added sugar or caffeine.       
     Dr. Oz routinely touts the health benefits of drinking green tea on his TV show, and says that if there were a "pill" that did what green tea does, we'd all be running to take that pill.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hot Sauce

      I often season my low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index dishes with hot sauce. The hot sauces we use add more flavor than heat. After trying different brands, my husband and I have some favorites. We like Cholula brand original which wakes up the flavor of  the ingredients in a dish without adding salt, sugar, or fat. Cholula brand chipotle adds a really nice smoky quality to a recipe. We also like Pickapeppa which adds a sweet fruity essence to savory dishes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Best Pasta Salad Ever

      This pasta salad is simply the best.  It gets rave reviews whenever I serve it.  The roasted red peppers, marinated mushrooms, soy nut/pumpkin seed/dried cranberry mixture, no-salt seasoning, and sun dried tomatoes are items I pick up at Costco.  They all meet the low sodium, low fat, low glycemic index criteria.
  • pasta
  • chick peas
  • cucumber
  • marinated mushrooms
  • pumpkin seeds
  • corn
  • soy nuts
  • dried cranberries
  • vidalia onion
  • garlic
  • parsley
  • roasted red peppers
  • balsamic vinegar
  • pinto beans
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • no-salt seasoning
  • dill

Friday, September 10, 2010

Don't Re-Invent The Wheel


      I have found it surprisingly easy to convert many of my favorite recipes to fit the low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index food plan.  However, if you find yourself stuck for vegan recipe ideas, don't feel you have to re-invent the wheel. Check out vegan recipes available in cookbooks or online. Many vegan recipes are not low fat, low sodium, and low glycemic index so make adjustments as needed.
   I make my own version of vegan sushi. I roll brown basmati rice, black beans, carrot, avocado, and cucumber in dried sea weed sheets called nori.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Artichoke Dip

     Here's a flavorful artichoke dip that's quick and easy to prepare. Simply mix together minced garlic, lemon juice, tofu, chopped artichoke hearts, nutritional yeast, no-salt seasoning, and a touch of chipotle hot sauce.
     We scoop this tasty dip with tortilla chips.  I toast Ezekiel brand tortillas in a dry frying pan on the stovetop. The crisp tortillas are cut into triangles while they are still warm.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Frozen Assets

     This past week I enjoyed a variety of delicious meals without preparing or cooking a thing. They were all dishes I had in my freezer. Since most of the recipes I prepare lend themselves to cooking for a crowd, I have the habit of making a lot and freezing what can't be eaten within a few days. This week my husband and I enjoyed healthy and satisfying entrees including lentil, carrot, and mustard green soup; split pea and onion soup seasoned with clove; squash stuffed with veggies and chick peas; and the rustic tofu chili shown above.  It was a welcome break from cooking and food shopping.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Latte

     Labor Day weekend ushers out summer and welcomes in autumn and seasonal treats like pumpkin spice lattes.  I make my own delicious iced latte by combining a strong half cup of brewed pumpkin spice herbal tea with brewed hazelnut Teeccino, almond milk, and lots of ice. (Sweeten to taste.)  It's creamy with a lovely finish from the nutmeg.  
     Teeccino is a caffeine-free herbal coffee alternative.  It's brewed the same way you'd make ground coffee, and it has real coffee flavor.
     I also make an aromatic hot version by sprinkling dried pumpkin pie spice on top of the dry Teeccino grounds right before I start brewing a pot. The Teeccino is really good on its own so the added hint of autumn flavor is all that's needed. This harvest time treat is so good--the smell alone makes green leaves start turning red and orange. 
     We do experience a subtle change of season here in northern Florida, but it's enjoying autumn treats like pumpkin spice lattes that help mark the season.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Being Flexible

     Don't you just love weddings? I do. (No pun intended.)  Such care and love goes into planning every detail of the special day for the happy couple. A few weeks ago, we had the best time celebrating my niece Jami's wedding day. In addition to the heirloom tomato salad and my vegetable napoleon entree, I tasted my husband's filet mignon, and enjoyed delicious appetizers, and wedding cake.
     I heard a comedian say the reason vegans live so long is because they don't get invited anywhere or to do anything fun.  Vegan eating is a mystery to most people. Non-vegan eaters don't quite know what to do with us so it's just easier to avoid inviting us to any event where food is involved. I prefer to be flexible and low key so people feel comfortable including me. Eating a low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index, high fiber vegan diet has eliminated my food cravings and the desire to over eat. I feel balanced and relaxed in a way that allows me to be a gracious and low maintenance guest when I'm visiting with family and friends. 
    I find people are interested in learning what vegan eating is all about.  I try not to put them on the spot thinking they have to prepare something vegan before they even know what it means. I remember feeling freaked out and clueless when I first started eating low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index vegan.  Gradually, over time, I am learning more and more and I'm feeling quite comfortable and confident in our vegan kitchen.

Photo: Jami and Johnny's wedding cake. My sister, Jami's mom, made the amazing sugar flowers on the cake.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Plant Yourself Where You Will Bloom

     In addition to the adage "bloom where you are planted"  I say, whenever possible, "plant yourself where you will bloom."  Optimal health is achieved by consistently making wise choices concerning food, exercise, relationships, as well as one's living and work environment.
     I just spent a month living and painting in the southern California home of a friend and her parents. She and her mom are artist friends I know from my time spent studying classical realism in Florence, Italy. This past month we worked long hours each day in the painting studio attached to their home. I was overwhelmed by the generous spirit in this household.  (Imagine having me as a house guest 24/7 for a month!) I felt like a plant in a greenhouse where everything was geared to promote growth, strength, and blooming.  Having been nurtured--body, mind, and spirit, I left their home and studio encouraged and confident.
     Surrounding oneself with people who inspire you to become a better version of yourself is important. Similarly, be mindful of the impact your living space is having on your mood and productivity.  As I continue to grow as a person, and artist, I plant myself in living and work spaces that meet my needs and motivate and energize me on a daily basis.  Life is full of moves, changes, and adjustments which are well within our control if we have faith and are willing to put in some work to better our situation.

Photo:  my still life is oil on canvas and measures 18" X 24"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thumb Print Cookies

     These chewy thumb print cookies have Simply Fruit jam in the center.  The the dough is made with banana, fiber cereal, oatmeal, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract, almond milk, and pumpkin pie spice.  I don't use exact measurements because this isn't really baking in the sense that you need to measure precisely for the recipe to work. These cookies have no flour, eggs, sugar, leavening, and so on.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Peach Salsa With Grape Tomatoes

     Sometimes it's too hot to cook.  Today, we made this colorful peach salsa.  It's a refreshing mix of fresh peach, grape tomatoes, mild sweet vidalia onion, fresh raw sweet corn taken off the cob, black beans, cilantro, and hot sauce. It was a tasty way to beat the heat.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


     When I was living in Florence, Italy, my friend Alice would cook the most amazing things. We would walk to the daily outdoor market, shop, and then go back to her home and cook.  She often served raw fennel salad.  I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it's fresh delicate flavor and it's crunch. 
     Now, I have been buying  fennel from the farmers market. I like  eating it raw. It is similar to celery in crunch and texture. I take off the green tops and slice the bulb parts. I store the sliced bulb, like I do celery, in a bowl of water in the refrigerator. The fennel keeps drinking and stays crisp.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What's On My Vegan Shopping List?

My low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index, high fiber, vegan shopping list

  • Fiber One original 57% cereal (looks like twigs)
  • Steel cut oatmeal
  • Fruit (except watermelon and pineapple)
  • Unsweetened low fat almond milk or soy milk
  • Multi-vitamin/mineral
  • Water
  • Green and other decaf teas
  • Teeccino coffee alternative
Lunch and Dinner:
  • Beans like navy, black, chick peas, kidney, and so on
  • Lentils
  • Brown basmati rice
  • Hulled barley
  • Herbs and spices
  • Garlic 
  • low sodium hot sauce
  • low sodium mustard
  • Pasta
  • Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas
  • No-salt-added, or low sodium canned diced or pureed tomatoes
  • Vegetables
  • Sweet potato or yam (no white potatoes)
  • TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
  • Tofu
  • Nutritional yeast
  • vinegar
I use these high fat foods sparingly:
  • Walnuts (unsalted, no added oil)
  • Almonds (unsalted, no added oil)
  • Avocado
  • Extra virgin first cold-pressed olive oil (used only to dress raw salad, 1 teaspoon)

NOT on my low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index, high fiber, vegan shopping list
  • no cold cereal
  • no dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt, butter, and so on
  • no watermelon
  • no pineapple
  • no bread (no whole wheat bread either), if you must eat bread choose pumpernickel or rye
  • no crackers, chips, and so on
  • no white potatoes
  • no popcorn
  • no eggs
  • no meats like beef, pork, chicken, and so on
  • no fish
  • no refined flour or sugar products like cookies, cakes, and so on
  • avoid products with preservatives or artificial colors
  • no high fat or high sodium prepackaged vegan products like burgers, cheese, hot dogs, and so on
  • no added salt 
  • no alcoholic beverages  
  • no soda
  • no diet soda
  • no artificial sweeteners
  • no added sugar
  • no honey
  • nothing fried
For specific information on shopping tips, meal prep, the do's and don'ts, and the why's and wherefore's of the low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index, high fiber, vegan diet go to Dr. Neal Barnard's website listed above on my helpful links.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies


     My daughter made yummy oatmeal cookies that are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  She made some in bars and some in haystack shapes.  Similar to most cookie recipes, the raw dough is as good as the baked cookies.  They are a mix of Fiber One cereal, oatmeal, banana, vanilla extract, almond milk, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.  The cookies are either rolled out in a slab or dolloped on parchment paper.  They are baked at 350 degrees until crispy on outside and still chewy on the inside.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stuffed Shells

     Thankfully, my daughter has been tweaking recipes to make them delicious and low fat, low sodium, low glycemic, vegan. It's been awesome having her here for a visit. I could live on the shells stuffed with tofu and covered in tomato mushroom sauce she made over the weekend; they are that good.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Troll Cheese Ball

     Another hummus attempt gone awry turned into a happy accident I call the troll cheese ball.  My daughter says it looks like something a troll would roll out from under a bridge. Okay, so you think I'm insane, and the theme to the Twilight Zone is starting to run in your mind.  My husband has a co-worker who says that she can tell I'm in this for the long haul. Well, she's absolutely right. 
     I am, what my son calls, a faux-cook.  I prefer eyeballing measurements and hate making the same thing twice. Nice qualities for an artist perhaps, but not so much for a cook. Ah well, I remain undaunted and am going to figure out how to eat low sodium, low fat, low glycemic index, high fiber, vegan.
     A vegetarian friend asked me this week what made me decide to go vegan.  I tried low fat, low sodium, low glycemic, vegan for three weeks not knowing that I'd stick with it past that trial period. However, by week three I was feeling and looking so much better that I was sold. I continue to feel and look better, so why would I eat any other way?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Alfredo Sauce

     We recently purchased a blender and food processor.   My daughter has been making the most awesome creations. This alfredo sauce is fantastic.  She served it over rotini and sauteed mushrooms. It's a simple mix of these ingredients in the food processor. Then heated on the stove for about 5 minutes.
  • nutritional yeast
  • tofu
  • almond milk
  • nutmeg
  • garlic 
  • onion powder

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fruit Dip

     Here's a mousse-like fruit dip that is light and creamy. Whether it's spread on a black bean brownie, eaten alone, or as a fresh fruit dip, this treat tastes like dessert.  Simply blend, silken tofu, banana, unsweetened cocoa, and vanilla extract in a food processor until smooth. Chill in refrigerator.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Turkish Cucumbers

     Trying new vegetables is a great way to keep vegan eating interesting.  A friend gave us these Turkish cucumbers from her garden. This is the first time I tried them.  They remind me of a honey dew melon. These cucumbers have a cool and refreshing mild melon flavor and texture which I love. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010


     The thing I love most about eating a low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index, high fiber vegan diet is that I can actually eat! Yay, I can eat! There is no need to ever be hungry when eating this way. I feel and look healthier, have more energy, and am steadily losing weight. It's such a relief from the days of struggling to drop weight to no avail.
     My daughter made this pasta sauce and said she didn't miss the oil or salt. This easy sauce is made by mixing roasted red peppers, fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, and lots of fresh basil leaves in the food processor. It is packed full of flavor and very satisfying.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stuffed Mushroom Caps and Veggie Burger

     My daughter and I made these veggie burgers and stuffed mushroom caps. They were really good. I especially love stuffed mushrooms, and these were as good as any I've had in the past that had added oil and salt. We filled the mushroom caps with the same mixture we used to make the veggie burgers. We baked the burgers and stuffed mushroom caps, on the same baking sheet, for 30 minutes. Turn the patties after first 15 minutes.

     In a food processor pulse the chick peas until there are no whole chick peas left in the mixture--but not smooth like you'd do for hummus.  Put this in a large mixing bowl. Now process the vegetables until chopped like the chick peas. Add this mixture to chick peas along with TVP and herbs and spices.  (When it comes to food, I have an omni frame of reference;  this mixture reminded me of turkey stuffing.)  Stuff mushroom caps and form patties.
chick peas
black beans
sliced carrot
nutritional yeast
smoked paprika

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cayenne Black Bean Brownies

      While I was living in Italy, dark chocolate flavored with hot chili pepper was popular in chocolate bars and hot cocoa.  I tried it and thought it was an interesting combination.  These brownie's are really easy and tasty. This recipe makes chewy fudgy brownies.

1. Mix together in food processor:
    2 c. black beans
    2 ripe bananas
    1/4 c. almond milk
    1/4 c. no sugar added natural apple sauce
    1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
    1 pinch cayenne powder 
    1/4 c. TVP
    2 tsp. vanilla
    1 c. instant oats
    2 tbsp. flax meal
    1/4 c. chopped walnuts

3. Pour mixture into an 8" X 8" pyrex that has parchment paper cut to fit bottom of pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let brownies cool. Then, cut and enjoy.  Store covered in refrigerator.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Here's a recipe for faux chicken nuggets, or as we call them, fuggets.

 1.  Mix 1/4 c. almond milk (or soy milk) and 1tsp. lemon juice.  Set aside. It will start to foam.

 2.  Mix fugget ingredients in food processor.

      1/4c. TVP
      2 c. chick peas
      garlic powder

 3.   Form into ping-pong size balls
 4.   Flatten into chicken nugget shape.
 5.   Dip and coat in almond milk and lemon juice mixture.

 6.   Roll in dry coating.

Dry Coating mixture
Blend together in a food processor the following dry ingredients:
nutritional yeast
fiber cereal

7.  Place fuggets on cookie sheet and bake 12 minutes on each side in 350 degree oven.

Dipping Sauce #1
  Blend together in food processor: 
roasted red peppers
nutritional yeast
fresh basil
6 walnut halves

Dipping Sauce #2
  Blend together: 
roasted red peppers 
fresh basil 
hot sauce
dried herbs:  parsley, oregano

Dipping sauce #3

Clockwise in photo: fuggets, dipping sauce #1, dipping sauce #2 

Saturday, June 12, 2010


     When my husband saw the lasagna my daughter and I made he said, "Wow, that looks good.  We can eat that?"  Then he proceeded to eat multiple helpings of this guilt-free lasagna.
  • Build the lasagna in layers. Start each layer with lasagna noodles then top with sauce, tofu filling, and Tofu Crumbles. 
  • The sauce is made with no-salt-added diced tomatoes, low sodium tomato puree, tomato paste, chopped onion, chopped roasted red peppers, Italian seasoning, hot sauce, chopped basil,and  parsley. Sometimes I add mushrooms, green pepper, or spinach.
  • I use TVP, or Tofu crumbles--which can be found in the refrigerated natural food section of the grocery store.
  • Lasagna filling:  Mash tofu with a fork, then add chopped parsley, basil, garlic, and nutritional yeast.

  • Bake the lasagna for about 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

    Top photo:  spinach lasagna
    Bottom photo:  mushroom lasagna

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Gifts From A Home Garden

         I'm so grateful to receive fresh vegetables from a friend's garden.  My husband has a co-worker who routinely shares the most wonderful vegetables from her garden.  She leaves these vine-ripened beauties in the office kitchen for anyone to take home and enjoy.  When my husband came home tonight he had some of her grape tomatoes. I was so excited when I saw them, you'd have thought he was handing me gold nuggets.  They are such a treat because they have that unmistakable just picked home garden flavor that can't be beat.  Although I usually prefer to eat these raw, I put some of the tomatoes in the sauce I was making for lasagna. They added so much fresh sweet flavor.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Mainstream Vegan

         The words "mainstream" and "vegan" haven't always been synonymous. However, in the words of Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin.  Lately, I see vegan eating promoted all over the news media and TV.  For example, I just saw The Dr. Oz Show do a segment featuring Chicago Firefighters looking to improve their overall health. They were put on a low fat vegan diet. 
         Fifty-somethings like myself, together with the sixty-something baby boom generation are on a quest to make lifestyle adjustments that will optimize our health.  We are rethinking our food choices and priorities. Those of us already committed to the low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index, high fiber, vegan lifestyle and mindset are certainly ahead of the curve.  A plant-based diet is no longer on the fringe. Vegan eating has become essential mainstream wellness.
         Link to Dr. Oz Show segment:  http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/engine-2-diet

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    TVP, Texturized Vegetable Protein

         TVP, texturized vegetable protein, is made from soy and looks like coarse bread crumbs. It takes on the flavors of other ingredients in a recipe.  I use unflavored TVP because it contains no fat, it's low sodium, high fiber, and high protein.  I incorporate it into a variety of recipes including soups and stews.  It rehydrates and adds body to a recipe.  I usually find TVP in the self-serve bulk bins of a health food store, or prepackaged in the natural food section of the grocery store.

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    The Planet Vegan

         Sometimes I feel like Dorothy as she follows the yellow brick road in the foreign land called Oz.  Just when I think I'm getting the hang of this new approach to eating, I have a setback reminding me that "I'm not in Kansas anymore."  Eating low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index, high fiber,vegan is not just a foreign land it's a whole other planet. Yes, I've landed on the planet vegan and am now in the process of trying to master new cooking skills, a new vocabulary, and deal with foods that are unfamiliar to me. 
         For example, I mixed chick peas with roasted red peppers and parsley to make hummus in a little food chopper. Unfortunately, the chopper didn't have enough power to really blend the chick peas until completely smooth. I was dejected. After all, how difficult is it to make hummus? As I started to transfer the failed mixture into a bowl I realized how much it looked like ground beef.  I got excited, but not because I wanted meat or missed meat. The thing is, I know what to do with beef, and I know lots of ways to prepare and cook it. With a renewed sense of hope and competence I scooped up a handful of the chick pea mixture and formed a perfect patty. I threw that  "burger" in a hot skillet and proceeded to, well, scorch the outside. It may have looked like beef, but it wasn't and needed a different cooking temperature.
        I realize that eating low fat, low sodium, low glycemic index, high fiber, vegan is a mouthful.  Someone, please, come up with a short easy name for this way of eating.  And I want new names for the recipes I'm trying--names that don't include "faux" or "mock."
    I used to make pizza with puffy yeasty dough, olive oil, meat, and cheese toppings.  Now, I make "pizza" with a crisped sprouted grain tortilla "crust" topped with thinly sliced fresh tomato, chopped mushroom, and onion. Is this still pizza, or is it something else?  And if so, what is it called? What do they call this on the planet vegan?


    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Garlic Fries

         The first time I had garlic fries was when I visited my son in LA.  I have been a fan ever since. Today I made them with sweet potatoes. They are quick and easy to make at home. I cut up the potatoes into sticks, tossed them with a little garlic hot sauce,  garlic powder and chili powder. Next, I spread them on a cookie sheet and popped them into a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.  While they were baking, I minced up some garlic and parsley.  Then, I tossed the hot fries with the garlic and parsley.

    Teeccino Coffee Alternative

         A friend gave me a bag of caffeine free Teeccino.  I'm so glad she introduced me to it.  My husband and I like it so much we have replaced coffee with Teeccino.  When my daughter came to visit this week she gave me a skeptical look as I urged her to try it.  She hesitated, took a sip, then smiled and said, "It's actually pretty delicious.  It tastes like flavored coffee."  It's brewed in a coffee maker just like coffee.  I think it's great hot or iced.  A few of it's health benefits are:  it's naturally caffeine free, non acidic, and prebiotic.  For more information click on Teeccino in my helpful links at the top right of the page.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Tostada and Burrito

          I like to make my own burritos and tostadas because they are a quick and tasty meal full of fiber and protein. The burrito makes a great portable meal, and the tostada is great because I can load on more of the fillings since it doesn't have to be folded.  I fill them with fresh tomato, lettuce, onion, avocado, and what I call my burrito mash. I make the mash ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator. 

    Homemade Burrito: 
    • warm Ezekiel tortilla in pan on stove top  
    • remove warm tortilla from pan
    •  dollop onto center of tortilla:  burrito mash, diced fresh tomato, avocado, lettuce, onion, brown basmati rice, chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice, hot sauce
    • fold and roll into burrito shape

    •  place seam side down in warm pan to seal 
    • turn burrito over and lightly crisp and brown top

    There's a really nice contrast between the creamy coolness of the avocado and the spicy filling.


      Burrito Mash:
           I combine the ingredients in a pan, and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
      • corn
      • black beans
      • onion
      • no-salt-added canned diced tomato
      • tvp (texturized vegetable protein)
      • nutritional yeast
      • chili powder
      • cumin
      • paprika
      • garlic
      • lime juice
      • chipotle hot sauce