"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

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

      Tuesday, June 1, 2010

      Clean Fuel

          My sister-in-law says eating vegan is such a clean way to fuel your body.  She is an awesome cook and the best baker I know.  When she gave me this recipe I knew it would be delicious.  I tried it today.  Her recipe called for zucchini to be cut in half lengthwise, hollowed out, then filled and baked.  Since I had some yellow squash from a friend's garden I used it too. This flavorful  hearty dish is easy to prepare.  The filling is made up of zucchini, red bell pepper, onion, garlic, basil, tomato, and chick peas. I baked them at 350 degrees until tender--about 35 minutes.