New Summer Faves

We’ve added a few new summer favorites to our repertoire that I hope you enjoy as much as we have.

The first I developed as muffins but as soon as you add icing, they turn into cupcakes- and geez does the icing really make these fantastic.  I wanted to call them muffcakes or cupfins but the hubby thought that was too much.  So they’re filed under Banana Cupcakes and as a bonus, they’re gluten free.  The oat flour does make them more dense than whole wheat pastry flour would, but I think it’s worth it (and honestly don’t have the patience in developing or using GF flour mixes that require multiple ingredients).  Recipes are pasted further below.

Another recipe that we’ve been wanting to veganize and enjoy corn-free for ages is “Dorito” Salad.  The kids and hubby feel like they’re getting away with something eating chips for dinner but it’s one of the few ways I can get away with everyone enjoying salad for dinner.  (I swear, we are the least salad-eating vegans ever.)

In trying to develop new recipes that are filling but don’t heat up the kitchen, I turned a traditional summer appetizer into an entree, Bruschetta Salad.  This has been my favorite way to enjoy home grown and farmers market tomatoes this summer.

The summer has brought lots of outdoor fun, from a triathlon to lots of pool time and playing outside.  Especially because of the extreme heat this year and the kids’ preference to play instead of hydrating, the hubby tried a few different coconut water drinks until we landed on one that everyone loves.  It’s filed under Snacks as Coconut Water Hydration Drink and is pasted further below.

Another success of the summer was Strawberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.  Very easy to make, which is great since it disappears so quickly!!

Banana Cupcakes

Makes 12


1/4 c unsweetened non-dairy milk + 1 t apple cider vinegar

1/3 c coconut oil

1/2 c sucanat (natural cane sugar)

3 ripe bananas

1 t vanilla extract

1.5 c oat flour (blend 1.75 c oats into flour)

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t nutmeg

1/4 t salt


6 oz non-dairy chocolate chips, like Ghirardelli semi sweet

Preheat oven to 350’F and insert parchment liners into muffin pan.  Once the apple cider vinegar has curdled the milk, combine all ingredients in a blender or mixer and process until combined. Pour mix into cupcake cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  Once the cupcakes are done, pour the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl (or double boiler) and heat in 30 second increments then stir until melted.  Drizzle icing over cupcakes.  Refrigerate leftovers.

“Dorito” Salad

Our new favorite brand of chips is Beanitos, so we’ve been able to bring back a favorite summer recipe from many years ago that we’ve been unable to enjoy since going vegan and corn-free (due to an allergy).  Use organic tortilla chips if you don’t need to avoid corn.

Serves 4

2 heads Romaine lettuce, sliced into thin strips

2 c kidney beans

2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced

2 avocados, pitted and diced


Optional: salsa, Hampton Creek Just Ranch dressing, Beyond Meat beef crumbles, diced onion, Daiya cheese

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to mix.  Add the chips into the salad (if you’re not planning to have leftovers) or plate the chips and serve the salad on top- either way it’s delicious!!


Bruschetta Salad

8-10 roma or 4 large tomatoes, seeded and diced

1.5 c or 1 can white beans, rinsed

~15 leaves or 1/4 c fresh basil, chopped

3 cloves garlic minced or 1 T minced garlic

2 T aged (high quality) balsamic vinegar

1/4 t sea salt

1/8 t pepper

Optional: 1 small Vidalia onion, finely diced

Mix all ingredients in a covered bowl and let marinate in the refrigerator at least 2h before serving.  To avoid discoloration of the beans, add the beans just before serving.  Serve over shredded lettuce or with toasted slices of whole wheat French bread.


Coconut Water Hydration Drink

1 L coconut water, like Zico

6 dates

2 clementines, peeled

1/4 c crushed pineapple

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 T fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender and process until smooth.  Refrigerate.  Serve over ice.


Strawberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

For the ice cream base:

2 cans full fat coconut milk

4 T maple syrup

3/4 c sliced strawberries

Add ins:

1 c diced strawberries

1/2 c chopped non-dairy chocolate chips (like Ghirardelli semi sweet)

If using an ice cream maker, place it in the freezer the night before.  Add all ice cream base ingredients to a blender and mix quickly – you don’t want to puree the berries.  Turn the ice cream maker on, and add the ice cream.  Allow the machine to make the ice cream (mine takes 15 to 20 min).  Once the ice cream has reached the desired consistency, turn the machine off and transfer the ice cream to a freezer storage container.  Stir in the remaining strawberries and chocolate chips.  Freeze for 1h or more.  If the ice cream is in the freezer for more than a couple of hours, remove it from the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes before you try to scoop it.  The lower fat and sugar content make it freeze harder.

If not using an ice cream maker, add all ice cream base ingredients to a blender and mix quickly – you don’t want to puree the berries.  Mix in the additional berries and chocolate chips and transfer to a freezer storage container.  Freeze for at least 3 hours and remove the ice cream from the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes before you try to scoop it.  The lower fat and sugar content make it freeze harder.

Notes:  The ice cream has a strong coconut flavor right out of the ice cream maker, however my family barely noticed the coconut flavor after the ice cream had been frozen.  Also, the strawberries and chocolate stirred in at the end make the ice cream quite chunky.  You may want to blend all the strawberries at the beginning and omit the chocolate chips for a more traditional ice cream.


Go Vegan for Earth Day

Earth day is coming soon (April 22nd) and what better way to appreciate the Earth than to go Earth-Day-2016-Quiz-3-465x465vegan for the day?!?  By changing your diet, you have the power to reduce global warming, deforestation, poverty and hunger, and the use of natural resources.  Check out this post for more info on how veganism makes such a big impact on the Earth.

Check out these meal and snack options and pick a few to try.  It won’t be as hard as you think.  Enjoy the day knowing that YOU are making a difference!!

Breakfast:  savory oatmealovernight oatmeal, or banana nut butter wrap

Savory oatmeal can be made in the microwave if you don’t want to dirty a pot- just nuke it for 1 minute.  Overnight oatmeal is eaten in the same container it is made and takes about 2 minutes to make.  The banana nut butter wrap is even faster, depending on your ability to peel a banana and spread peanut butter.

Lunch: three bean salad, black bean mango salsa, or black eyed pea salad

Each of these needs to be made the night before to allow the flavor to develop, which is perfect to ensure you have a healthy lunch to take to work without being rushed in the morning.  Add a piece of fruit and serve over lettuce or rice.  If you’re knocking it out of the park, make oven baked tortilla chips.

Snacks:  apple and nut butter, veggies and hummus, or roasted chickpeas

Dinner:  rice bowls or lentil chard sweet potato curry

Rice bowls are easy, however the curry is a one pot dish, a great intro to curry (not spicy at all), and makes plenty for leftovers.

Dessert:  strawberries and store bought or homemade coconut whipped cream

Load up on organic strawberries while they’re in season and enjoy this deliciously simple treat!!  Strawberries are listed as #1 on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list this year, so buy organic strawberries whenever you can.


Photo credit:

Sweet Potatoes Galore

Sometimes to keep things interesting in the kitchen and (always) to make cooking as efficient as possible, I use a theme ingredient for the week’s meals. This doesn’t mean that we have the theme ingredient every night, but even using the same ingredient 2 or 3 nights out of 7 helps, particularly when that ingredient is in season and on sale.

Last week was a sweet potato week. My husband and I had noticed that we hadn’t been fueling as well for our workouts.  When this happens it’s usually because I haven’t prioritized creative time in the kitchen, and we’ve fallen into a rut of rotating the same meals.  My strategy for countering this funk was to adapt existing recipes.

I’ve provided below a list of new sweet potato recipes and links to previously posted sweet potato recipes, so that when you are ready to try a few sweet potato recipes, you have plenty to choose from!

Sweet Potato Tempeh Burgers

This recipe was adapted from Whole Foods’ Health Starts Here materials and provides a good base for a variety of flavors. Makes 8 burgers.

3 small sweet potatoes, baked and peeled

1.5 c black beans, rinsed and drained

1 package of tempeh, crumbled into small pieces

3 T ketchup (no sugar added)

1.5 T minced garlic

1 t Braggs Liquid Aminos or tamari

1/4 c nutritional yeast

1 c oats


In a medium bowl, mash the sweet potatoes and black beans. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  If possible, refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes.  Remove from fridge and preheat the oven to 400°F.  Form 8 patties.  Sprinkle or baste the patties with your seasoning of choice- cajun, chipotle, lemon pepper, BBQ sauce, seasoned salt, etc.  If crispy burgers are desired, lightly spray with oil.  Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Flip the burgers, season again, and bake for another 10 minutes.


Lentil, Chard, Sweet Potato Curry

This recipe was adapted from Forks Over Knives and But I Could Never Go Vegan! by Kristy Turner. The key modifications were to minimize the spices and remove the vegan yogurt since the red (instead of yellow) lentils provided a creamy texture.  Serves 6.

1 onion, dicedsweet potato lentil curry

1.5 T minced garlic

1 T minced ginger

2 t curry powder

1/4 t garam masala (optional)

1/2 t turmeric

4 c diced sweet potatoes

3 to 4 c vegetable broth

1.5 c dried red lentils

juice from 1 lime (~1 T or so)

1 bunch Swiss or rainbow chard, stems removed, and cut into thin strips

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Saute the onion in a large pot over medium heat until translucent, adding a little water or broth to prevent sticking. Add the minced garlic, ginger, curry, garam masala, and turmeric and stir to coat.  Add more water or broth to prevent sticking.  Add the sweet potatoes, 3 cups of broth, and lentils.  Cover.  Once it boils, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Add the chard and more broth if needed.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add lime juice and adjust seasonings before serving.


Chickpea Sweet Potato Spinach Curry

This recipe was adapted from a Forks Over Knives recipe created by Veronica Grace. Serves 6 without rice and 8 with rice.

1 large onion, dicedsweet potato chickpea curry

1.5 T minced garlic

2 t minced ginger

2 15 ounce cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 t ground cumin

1 t turmeric

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (~3 c)

1 to 2 c vegetable broth

3 to 4 c chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach

1 to 1.5 c coconut milk or 1/2 c coconut cream

Cooked brown rice, optional

Saute the diced onion in a large pot over medium until translucent, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, cumin, and turmeric.  Stir and add the sweet potatoes and broth.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the chickpeas and cook for 5-10 more minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Add the spinach and turn off the heat.  Once the spinach has wilted (~2 min), add the coconut milk and serve with or without brown rice.


Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

This recipe was adapted from Brittany at  Serves 6.

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks, tossed with

1 t sea salt and

1 T melted coconut oil and roasted at 400°F until tender (~30 min)

4 oz baby spinach, chopped

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1 large or 2 small green apples, cut into matchstick sized pieces

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 T lemon juice

1/2 t sea salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

2 avocadoes, diced

hemp seeds, optional

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, chop the spinach, red onion, and green apple and add to a large bowl.  Sprinkle the apple cider vinegar and lemon juice over the mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Add the roasted sweet potato and gently stir to mix the ingredients.  Just before serving, add the diced avocado and hemp seeds if using.  Serve cold, at room temperature, or immediately after adding the roasted sweet potatoes.


Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4

1 onion, diced

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t turmeric

1/2 t ground mustard

1 c dry red lentils

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

2 to 3 cups vegetable broth or water

1 T Braggs Liquid Aminos or tamari

Saute the onion in a large pot over medium heat until translucent.  Add the cumin, turmeric, and mustard and stir to combine.  Once fragrant, add the lentils, sweet potatoes, and broth.  Cover and cook for ~15 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Add the aminos and stir.  Carefully transfer the hot mixture in batches to the blender to puree.  Use a dish towel to cover the blender (instead of the lid) to allow steam to escape.  Adjust seasonings and serve.

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Other sweet potato recipes you may be interested in:

Mexican Sweet Potatoes

Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potato

Butternut Black Bean Chipotle Chili (substitute sweet potatoes for the squash)

Quinoa Ginger Salad

Thai Butternut Squash Soup (substitute sweet potatoes for the squash)

Individual Sweet Potato Pieshoppin john 2

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

Hoppin John Bowl

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Easy Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Apple Casserole

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Broccoli Sweet Potato Curry Stoup

Check out Schweeeeeet Potatoes! for info on why you should increase your complex carbohydrate intake and eat more sweet potatoes.

Snow Days

Having the kids out of school for more days than anticipated means the kitchen becomes a revolving door and a big mess if I don’t plan ahead.  Making meals and snacks in advance means my workday doesn’t get interrupted quite so often and the kids get more independence.  Here are a few things I made for lunches and snacks once it was clear we were getting iced in.

Chickpea Tuna Salad

3 servings

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 T vegan mayo

1 T lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Optional: 1/4 c diced sweet onion, 2 T sweet pickle relish

Once the chickpeas have been rinsed and drained, test their firmness.  If they aren’t easily mashed with a fork, transfer the chickpeas to a glass dish, cover with water, and microwave in 1 minute increments until tender.  Drain the chickpeas and mash with a fork.  Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix well.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Deviled No Egg Saladcartoon-devil-clipart-1

14 oz firm organic tofu, pressed

1 t black salt (gives an eggy flavor)

2 T vegan mayo

1/2 T apple cider vinegar

1 t yellow mustard

1 1/2 T sweet pickle relish

Optional: onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, paprika

Press the tofu between two plates (over the sink) or balance something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top of it for 10 minutes.  Pressing removes excess water from the tofu and improves the texture.  Once pressed and drained, fork mash the tofu in a medium bowl.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Chia Banana Pudding

Makes 5 cups

4 ripe bananas

3/4 c chia seeds

10 pitted dates

1 can coconut cream (regular coconut milk will work too)

1 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or other non-dairy milk + 1 t vanilla)

Using a high speed blender, blend all ingredients until smooth.  Refrigerate.  Serve with banana coins, cocoa nibs, or vanilla cookies.

Hearty Soups

It’s been chilly here so my focus has been on meals to warm us inside and out.  As I’ve mentioned before in Stoup’s On, my husband and daughters do not prefer soups with lots of broth, which helps me focus on making really hearty soups.  This week we all enjoyed Italian Wedding Soup, which came together quickly using prepared vegan meatballs.

We also had Pasta Fagioli and Irish Stew this week with everyone’s favorite Soda Bread.  I’ve been in the mood for Thai Butternut Squash Soup but instead of making it homemade, I just doctored up a box of butternut squash soup.

Now I’m ready for the ice to melt so I can buy more kale to make a Tuscan-style white bean kale soup. . .

‘Til then, check out Soups and Stews and stay warm and dry!!

Italian Wedding Soup

Serves 4

1 quart un-chicken brothItalian Wedding Soup

1 small bunch of kale, stems removed and cut into ribbons

1 package of meatless meatballs

1 can of white beans, rinsed (or 2 cans if you’re not using meatballs)

15 oz fire roasted tomatoes

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 rib of celery, diced

12 to 16 oz small pasta, such as stars

Bake the meatless meatballs according to directions.  Sautee the onion, carrots, and celery for 5 minutes in a medium to large pot with a bit of broth.  Add the rest of the broth and bring to a boil.  Add the uncooked pasta, tomatoes, and kale to the broth, adding water or more broth if needed.  Once the pasta has reached the desired texture, add the meatballs and serve.


It’s important to me and my husband that our kids learn to make healthy choices, knowing that we won’t be around forever to help with that.  Therefore the kids are only vegan at home and make whatever choices they want (within reason) outside of our home.  This has worked really well for us, and the overwhelming majority of the time they choose to be vegan or vegetarian outside of home.  However it has really bothered our younger daughter when a couple of times in the last few months our older daughter has chosen to eat chicken at fast food restaurants.  We don’t mind at all, hoping it will curtail a significant backlash against being raised vegan as soon as the kids leave home.  But I was comforted in seeing that despite the bickering (okay, screaming and yelling) they do genuinely care for each other’s health.

Strategies other than vegan@home for healthier eating or moving more toward vegetarianism are discussed in Practice Vegetarian.

We were a bit late celebrating the new year with black-eyed peas, which are thought in the Southern United States to bring prosperity.  But this dish was such a hit that we will be eating it again in a few weeks- even if just for a big lottery drawing!!

Hoppin’ John Bowl

Black-eyed peas

Brown ricehoppin john edited

Kale, stems removed, cut into ribbons, and steamed

Sweet potato, peeled, diced and cooked

Frozen red, green, and yellow pepper strips, diced and steamed

Cayenne pepper hot sauce (like Frank’s Red Hot)

Optional: canned fire-roasted tomatoes or a tomato green chili mix (like Ro*Tel)

This bowl comes together really quickly if you use cook the black-eyed peas and rice in advance.  One option to cook the sweet potato faster is to peel it, then microwave it for 2 to 5 minutes depending on the size.  Once the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, dice it.  Remove the stems from the kale and chiffonade it (roll it together and slice into ribbons).  Dice the peppers.  Combine the kale, sweet potato, and peppers in the steamer and steam for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the number of servings.  Reheat the black-eyed peas and brown rice.  Mix everything together and serve with hot sauce to taste!

Stretching Your Dollar

I’d been looking out for a sale on the vegan butternut squash ravioli in the frozen section at Whole Foods, and when they finally Save_Moneywent on sale, I bought two packages.  But two packages weren’t enough to feed a family of four, so I sautéed an onion and then added micro-baked cubed butternut squash (see Squash It) and 1.5 c white beans to the cast iron pan.  I seasoned with a few minced cloves of garlic, rubbed sage, nutmeg, and white pepper then added half a cup of water and covered the pan to finish cooking the squash.  I brought a pot of water to a slow boil and added the ravioli.  Once tender I served the ravioli on top of the butternut squash mix and sprinkled minced parsley on top.  This strategy stretched the ravioli so well that there was a full serving of leftovers.

I do this with the Field Roast brand of fake meats too.  (Field Roast products only contain grains, vegetables, seasonings, and oil.)  Instead of having sausages in buns with sauerkraut, I cut up the sausages and add them to potatoes, carrots, onions, and sauerkraut.  Instead of having hotdogs in buns, I dice them up and can use one package to make both beans and franks and hot dog mac and trees – that’s two easy dinners for nights the kids have sports or the hubby needs to cook.

I also use this strategy for ingredients that I don’t want my family to eat too much of.  For example, I make this great Mock “Chicken” Salad that uses non-GMO soy patties.  Even though it’s non-GMO soy, it’s best to eat lots more whole foods than fake meats.  So I add as many grapes, apples, celery, and whatever else may work (nuts, unsweetened dried cranberries, etc) in to bulk it up with whole foods, and serve it over shredded lettuce or with lettuce cups.



Photo Credit:

Vacation Meals

Pulling together decent meals while on vacation can be even harder than when at home if you don’t have access to the ingredients you need.  With a little planning, though, it’s easy to be prepared and not spend the whole vacation in the kitchen.

Our vacation earlier this month was a “Big Family” vacation.  We are fortunate in that all four of our parents have big families, so whenever we get together with extended families, it’s always a big group – the more, the merrier!!   In addition to planning meals that are easy to make for a big group, we also needed meals that were easy for vegetarians and omnivores to enjoy together.  Check out the list below and give your suggestions in the comments!


Burgers (Prepared grain burgers were a treat here)

Tacos or Rice Bowls

Rainbow Orzo

Low country boil (Field Roast sausage, beans, potatoes, carrots, and sauerkraut for the vegans)


Spaghetti with pink sauce


Mac and cheez

Hot dogs (Carrot Dogs would be a good option here but we opted for Field Roast hot dogs as a treat)

Beans and franks

Sandwiches and salads

Leftovers from dinner



Overnight oatmeal

Apple pie oatmeal

Cereal and smoothies

Fake sausage, baked hashbrowns, and toast


Chocolate Ganache Pie

Lots and lots of chips. . .


Next time, I’ll do things a little differently:

  • I won’t be as worried about spending more time in the kitchen, since I can’t be out in the sun the whole day anyway.
  • Our easy meals did not have as many veggies as we usually eat, so I’ll focus a little less on fast and easy.
  • I’ll have more healthy snacks available.  Everyone was drawn to the chips- perhaps the combination of salt and dehydration or the fact that vacation sometimes means vacation from healthy eating.  Either way, having more healthy snack options will help.
  • Sharing a meal with non-vegans is a great opportunity to show that vegan food can be delicious in addition to nutritious, so I need to take more advantage of that opportunity.

I was really proud of my Big Family – those who were willing to try the vegan dishes thought they were fine, even tasty, if they even noticed they were vegan.  Between now and the next Big Family get together, I’ll be working on more recipes to showcase a whole foods plant based diet!!

A Week of Good Meals

No recent blog posts means no creative time in the kitchen lately, which I miss.  But I pulled together a good week of menus last week and wanted to share them in hopes of making it easier for you to do the same.

I prepped a few of the meals in advance- the sloppy lennys, quinoa ginger salad, and the three bean salad.  The rainbow orzo, Mexican sweet potatoes, and pasta with pink sauce didn’t require much prep so I made them during the week.  I’ve also started planning one take out night a week, with the goal of having the Hubbie take over dinner prep for that night.

Sloppy Lennys

I used red lentils this time (because they cook so much faster) and was pleased with the outcome.  They definitely have a tendency to get mushy by the end, but they are supposed to be sloppy after all.  If you prefer the lentils not to fall apart, use green or brown lentils.

Quinoa Ginger Salad

I should have halved this recipe but was gung ho about having plenty of leftovers for lunches since we hadn’t the week before.  But it was still too much as this recipe as written serves 12!!

Three Bean Salad

There were multiple versions of this in our fridge this week- some without celery, some without cilantro.  The secret to keeping it fresh was to add avocado each day to keep it fresh.

Rainbow OrzoIMG_2895

Be creative with the Rainbow Orzo- the point is that you get a variety of colors with the veggies you include.  If you don’t want to spend as much time dicing veggies, then use a larger pasta.

16 oz dried orzo pasta, cooked and drained

Assortment of diced veggies (sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, kale, carrots, onions, beans, broccoli, artichoke hearts, peas, cauliflower, etc.)

While the water is heating, cut or dice the vegetables.  For vegetables that require a minute or two of cooking, add them to the pasta for the last minute of boiling or saute them while the pasta cooks.  Add the veggies to a large bowl and cover with the drained pasta.  Allow the warm pasta to warm the veggies, then stir and serve.

Mexican Sweet Potatoes

This turned out to be a great fuel meal for a triathlon my husband and daughter did the next morning- very filling and reminiscent of Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution.

1 serving

1 medium sweet potato, baked or microwaved

1/3 c cooked kidney beans

3/4 c cooked brown rice

1/2 avocado, diced

1/4 c crushed pineapple (optional)

1/4 c prepared salsa (mango salsa or tomatillo salsa are particularly good here, but use whatever you’ve got)

Once the potato is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a salad bowl and split it open.  Add the toppings in the order given.  Enjoy!

Pasta with Pink Sauce

This is literally a 10 minute meal, so it’s one I keep in reserve for a week night that requires no prep.  You can also use cooked white beans (1.5 c or 1 can) instead of the tofu.  I also do a variation called Shrek sauce where I add greens to the blender as well.

16 oz dried pasta, cooked according to directions on package

1 jar of marinara sauce or 2 cans of fire roasted crushed tomatoes

1 box of shelf stable organic firm tofu (like Mori Nu)

Optional: 2-4 cloves of garlic

While the pasta is cooking, add the tomatoes/tomato sauce, tofu, and garlice to your high speed blender.  Puree until warm and pour over drained pasta.  Enjoy!!

Tomatillo Gazpacho

Our take out meal this week was prepared tomatillo gazpacho from Trader Joes.  It was a bit spicy for the kids, so I pulled out some bread and they were fine.  Since it’s not very filling, they could add white beans to the gazpacho or eat leftover Three Bean Salad or Quinoa Ginger Salad with the meal.  If you don’t have access to prepared gazpacho, check out Shortcut Gazpacho.

Saving time…

Saving_TimeI only had two hours to prep meals last week (not counting meal planning and the grocery shopping- just the kitchen time). However, because I had planned the meals and had purchased all ingredients by the time I started the meal prep, it was pretty straightforward and could be knocked out in one swoop.

The biggest time-saver was that I had batches of white beans and black-eyed peas already cooked in the freezer. I’m in the process of using up all my frozen beans, and then I’ll go through the cycle of making a few big batches again.

Here are the week’s menus and further below I’ll describe the advanced prep:

Quinoa Ginger Salad without onions and with avocado

Beef-like seitan with a new beef-like gravy, rice, and green beans with almonds

Black-eyed pea salad with roasted asparagus and potatoes

Breakfast for dinner




On my prep day, I started by washing any fresh produce that wasn’t already clean and that I needed for the meal prep (fruits and lunch box veggies were washed later to save time), which, in this case, was really just kale and sweet potatoes. Then I stripped and steamed 2 bunches of kale (as it took 3 batches). While the kale was steaming, I made the dough for beef-like seitan and microwaved the sweet potatoes. As each batch of kale finished, I transferred it to a large bowl and using kitchen scissors cut it into smaller pieces. Once the kale was steamed, I steamed the seitan. I also made a batch of quinoa (2 parts water to 1 part quinoa). Once the sweet potatoes were cool enough to handle, I peeled them and cut them into bite-sized cubes. The sweet potatoes also went into the bowl of kale, along with the frozen white beans. The cooked quinoa was dumped on top of the white beans, which along with the sweet potatoes, helped them defrost. Canned beans (drained and rinsed) would have been perfectly fine too. I added ginger dressing (the non-spicy version) diluted with a bit of water to the bowl, stirred it and put it in the fridge. ginger 1

On the evening I served the Quinoa Ginger salad for dinner, I took it out of the fridge, added diced avocado, stirred it well, and served it with more ginger dressing on the side. Even though this recipe had a number of key ingredients, they are all easy to make and it easily stands alone as a meal. The avocado is my favorite as it really helps bring all the flavors together (and I just love avocado. . . and ginger sauce). I usually make a big batch of this recipe so we can enjoy it for lunch during the week too.

Once the beef-like seitan had steamed and cooled, I sliced and refrigerated it. On the evening I served it, I reheated it for a few minutes, covered, in the oven while the brown rice and fresh green beans were cooking. I started the beef-like gravy first as it was a new recipe and I wasn’t sure how well it would work; this would have been good to make on the prep day, but I didn’t have time. I cooked the green beans in a saute pan covered with a few tablespoons of water so they would steam. Once they reached the desired tenderness, I removed the lid and allowed any extra water to cook off. For the last few minutes of cooking, I added sliced almonds. I served the beef-like seitan on top of the rice with the green beans on the side and gravy for anyone who wanted it. The gravy was a big hit and made the seitan much more interesting than a slab of wheat meat. I made two lunch-sized portions and then froze the leftover seitan to use in a stew or stirfry.

For the black-eyed pea salad, I started by making the dressing (vinegar, jelly, sugar, salt & pepper) in the bowl that I would store the salad in. Then I added the black-eyed peas to the bowl and diced frozen stoplight pepper strips. I didn’t have any red onion, so I just diced yellow onion and added that to the bowl as well. I gave it a good shake and stored it in the fridge. On the evening I served it, I added diced avocado. A commitment that I had for the evening was cancelled at the last minute, so I decided to roast some asparagus that were starting to wilt and while I had the oven on, figured I’d roast some potatoes as well.

There was no advanced prep for breakfast for dinner night, so I made sure I had time that evening to make this dinner. I made baked hashbrowns (which involved dumping frozen shredded potatoes on a baking sheet, spritzing with oil and salt and baking), scrambled tofu (sauteeing a block of firm tofu with black salt and a bit of turmeric), biscuits, and spinach (from a frozen package). I wanted to add lots of interesting stuff to the tofu scramble (mushrooms, spinach, peppers) but it’s not one of my favorites anyway, so I just ate it mixed with the spinach.

The other two nights we had BLTAs (bacon/lettuce/tomato/avocado) using prepared tempeh bacon (and using up the rest of the avocado) and homemade MiracleNaise from and then leftovers. It turned out to be a great week of meals (based on energy levels, avoidance of junk food, no last minute eating out) – thanks to the advanced planning!


Beef-like Gravy

1/4 c refined coconut oil

2 T flour

1 t no-beef broth concentrate (like Better than Boullion) in 1 c warm water

1.5 t vegan worcestershire sauce

1 t onion powder

pepper to taste

Melt the coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, then add the flour.  Stir with a whisk until the flour starts to smell nutty.  Slowly add the no-beef broth, whisking until smooth.  Add the vegan worcetershire and onion powder.  Turn the heat to medium low and continue to whisk in liquid (~1 c water) until the desired consistency is reached.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Gravy will continue to thicken once removed from heat.  Yield is ~2.5 c.

For added protein, add 1 c white beans and the gravy to the blender and puree until smooth, adding more broth or water as needed to reach desired consistency.  Taste and add more Braggs’s/tamari or poultry seasoning if needed.  Yield is ~3.5 c.





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