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.

Picnic Pleasers

Here are a few recipes that are great for a cookout or a potluck because you don’t have to heat up your kitchen or reheat them at the event.  Which means more time for fun!Picnic_Seurat_1884


Waldorf “Chicken” Salad

4 non-GMO soy patties (I use a local manufacturer, Delight)

1 batch of Miracle Naise from Fat Free Vegan (xanthan gum not necessary)

1 apple, cored and diced into small pieces

1.5 c halved grapes (quarter them if they’re large)

3 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and sliced vertically

1 t poultry seasoning

salt and pepper

Make a batch of MiracleNaise mayo using a can of artichokes as described here and refrigerate until ready to use.  The main ingredient for the MiracleNaise is patience (and a can of artichoke quarters), but the result is well worth it.  Xanthan gum isn’t necessary at all, and I even add an extra bit of water to avoid the frustration of repeatedly scraping down the sides of the blender.

Shred the soy patties in your food processor or finely dice.  Add the diced apples, grapes, celery, and seasonings.  Mix in a few scoops of the MiracleNaise and stir until combined.  Add more MiracleNaise based on the desired texture and taste.  Adjust poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve on a bed of lettuce, in lettuce ‘cups’, in a wrap, with crackers, or on a plain ol’ sandwich.

Even easier than this is Three Bean Salad, which is also really filling.

Lemony Kale Salad

1 large or 2 small bunches of kale, stripped and torn into smaller pieces

Juice of 2 lemons

1 medium beet (boiled) or 1 can of beets, julienned

1 c cooked white beans

4 clementines or 3 tangelos or navel oranges, peeled and sections halved

1/2 c pecan or walnut halves (candied if desired)

Add the kale and lemon juice to a large bowl and massage the kale for a few minutes to break down the cell walls and tenderize it.  Add the beets, beans, and oranges, stirring to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Sprinkle the pecans or walnuts on the top of each serving.

This is similar to the Kale Ginger Quinoa Salad and Massaged Kale Salad if you’d like ideas on how to customize it to the ingredients you have available.

Strawberry Salsa

1 quart fresh strawberries, capped and diced

1 c yellow, red, and green peppers, diced small

1/4 c minced shallots or green onion

Juice of 2 limes

1 T balsamic vinegar

1/4 t organic sugar

1/2 t garlic powder

1/4 t salt

Optional 1 or 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced

Combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate.  Stir before serving with homemade tortilla chips or crackers.

This is a wonderful springtime alternative to our tried and true Black Bean Mango Salsa.  Some of us don’t ever get tired of strawberries, but having them in a savory dish is quite a treat for the tastebuds!


Photo Credit:

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Seurat#/media/File:A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte,_Georges_Seurat,_1884.png




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 fatfreevegan.com 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.





Photo Credit:


Sushi for Two

Since making sushi for two is half the work of making sushi for four, I was happy to oblige with my 13-year old daughter’s request that we have sushi while her dad and sister were out of town.  If you haven’t made sushi before, you should definitely try it because it’s fun.  But it’s certainly not something you want to try on a school night in between finishing up your work day, answering questions about homework, and shuttling kids to practice.


Bamboo sushi mat (these are inexpensive and make rolling sushi a lot easier)

Gallon size ziplock bag

Glass casserole dish or something similar

Wooden spoon

Cutting board

Sharp knife

Bowl of water

Ingredients for 4 rolls (assuming each person will eat 2 rolls):

4 sheets of toasted nori

1.5 c sushi rice

Splash of rice vinegar

Sprinkle of organic sugar

~1 c of leftover veggies (ex 1/2 avocado, 1 carrot, 1/2 cucumber, a few sautéed shiitake mushrooms, etc)

Toasted sesame seeds, pickled ginger, wasabi (optional)
Cook the rice as you normally cook rice and use a 1 part rice to 2 parts water ratio.  Once the rice is cooked, pour it into the glass dish and use the wooden spoon to spread it out to help it cool.  Splash a bit of rice vinegar and sprinkle a little organic sugar over the rice, then stir it around again.  Every couple of minutes, stir the rice until the rice is cool enough to comfortably handle.  While the rice is cooling, prepare your sushi roll fillings and start the miso soup (see further below).

Easy (and kid-friendly) vegan sushi rolls contain avocado, avocado and cucumber, avocado/cucumber/carrot, marinated mushrooms.  The possibilities are endless but if you’re paralyzed by the choices, just start with these simple combinations.  Slice the avocado.  Peel the cucumber, then remove the seeds and slice into strips as if you were going to dice it (but don’t).  Use a carrot peeler to produce thin strips of carrot.  Slice the mushrooms into strips (and marinate in Bragg’s liquid aminos or tamari if they are unseasoned).  If you’re ready to be adventurous, please do so as that’s the fun.  This time, we made avocado/carrot, avocado/ginger beet kraut, avocado/carrot/ginger beet kraut, and a green bean casserole roll with green beans and fried onions.  Surprisingly my daughter did not like the fried onion roll as much as the ginger beet kraut roll!

Now that the rice has cooled, you’re ready to start rolling!  Place the bamboo mat flat into the ziplock bag and seal it.  This will save you from having to clean in between the bamboo sticks each time you make sushi.  Lay the bamboo mat on a cutting board with the zipper furthest from you.  Place one sheet of nori on the bamboo mat.  Using the wooden spoon, place a scoop of rice onto the nori.  Dip your fingers in the bowl of water to prevent the rice from sticking to them, and gently press the rice down and spread it out across the nori, leaving 2 cm of nori farthest from you bare (no rice).  Add more rice and dip your fingers in the water as needed to cover all but the end section of nori with rice.


If you want the rice on the outside of the roll, using both hands, gently pick up the nori and flip it over.  Add your filling across the bottom (closes to you) inch of nori.  Rinse and dry your hands.  Using the sushi mat, roll the nori and contents, applying pressure and readjusting the mat as needed.  Slippery toppings like avocado may poke out of the ends, but gently push them back in.  You need to roll the sushi tightly or it won’t cut or hold together well.


At the end of the roll, moisten your fingertip and brush the bare strip of nori with water, then seal it against the rest of the roll.  Place the roll seam side down on a cutting board.  Sprinkle the roll with toasted sesame seeds, if desired.  Dip your sharp knife (I prefer a serrated knife) in the water and while holding both sides of the roll, slice the roll into whatever you consider to be bite-sized pieces.  Re-wet the knife as  needed to make clean cuts.


Repeat for the remaining rolls, adjusting and improving your technique as you go.  Arrange the sushi on a platter and serve with pickled ginger and wasabi.  If this has been a breeze for you, then carve some radishes into flowers or something to decorate the plate.  My family is just happy to get good food on their plates.  If the sushi rolling doesn’t go so well, serve it as sushi salad by cutting up the nori and mixing it with the toppings and additional rice.

For extra credit and to help fill those hungry bellies, make miso soup while you’re waiting for the rice to cool.  Fill the bowls you will use with water (to ensure you have just the right volume), add to a pot, and heat.  If you’re using mushrooms, add them in.  Start with 1T miso paste and taste for desired salt content.  If you’d like, small dice some tofu into the bowls (once poured in, the warm soup will heat the tofu).  I use chiffonaded strips or small bits of spinach instead of seaweed, but it definitely looks too bland without some color in there.

Above all else, enjoy.  Enjoy the process, enjoy the experience.  And if you’re lucky enough to have a helper, enjoy your company.


April Fool’s!!

I made a few new meals this week that I’m hoping work as well for you as they did for us.  First was an old favorite of my husband’s (Shepherd’s Pie) redone in an artful presentation especially for April Fool’s day.  (The lentils, peas and carrots are mounded underneath the mashed potatoes.)


The surprise success this week was a restaurant dish I was trying to recreate- Shiitake Tofu Lettuce Cups.  I served this with baked (okay, microwaved) sweet potatoes which was a nice tradeoff for the brown rice we so often eat with Asian food.  The final new meal was an attempt to use almost entirely frozen ingredients to create a warm, hearty dish.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

Mashed potatoes

Gravy (fat free or not)

Cooked or canned lentils

Frozen peas and carrots

Although my family loves the full version of Shepherd’s Pie made in a pie crust and baked, it’s extra work and the crust contains extra fat, so the weeknight version looks more like this.


The mashed potatoes are the most time consuming, so start them first.  Then start the lentils, followed by the gravy.  Because I was making individual servings this week, I made all of the ingredients separately instead of combining them as I normally would have.  This was a little more work but worth it for the prank.


Shiitake Tofu Lettuce Cups

1 head of butter lettuce

6-8 large shiitake mushrooms, cleanedshiitake_tofu_2

1/2 block of extra firm organic tofu (the refrigerated type)

1/4 c carrot shavings, diced

1/3 c diced sweet peppers (red, yellow, green or whatever you’ve got)

1/4 c cashew pieces, toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned

1 T sesame seeds


2T water

2T honey

1 T organic soy sauce or tamari

1 T Bragg’s amino acids

1 t ginger powder

1 t garlic powder

Add the sauce ingredients into a small jar and shake to mix.

Stem the shiitake mushrooms, discarding the tough parts of the stems.  Dice the caps and stems and sauté in a dry skillet over medium heat until the mushrooms exude their juices.

Add the sauce to the mushrooms, dice the tofu into small pieces and add to the skillet.  Once the mushrooms and tofu have absorbed half of the sauce, add the carrots and peppers. When the veggies are crisp tender, remove from heat.  Add toasted cashews and sesame seeds.  Serve with lettuce leaves and lots of napkins!


Veggie, Bean, Rice Bake

Frozen veggiesIMG_3797

Frozen or canned beans

Cooked brown rice

No-chicken veggie broth

Pour the frozen veggies and beans in the bottom of a glass casserole dish.  Add cooked brown rice to cover the veggies and beans. Pour veggie broth over the rice to almost cover the rice.  Season with pepper.  Cover and bake until heated through.  Especially if you’re using leftover rice this dish comes together very quickly however does require 15 minutes or so of baking time.  It’s one of those dishes that reminds us that simple meals can nourish us and taste good.

Notes:  Whenever I make a batch of beans, I always make a big batch and freeze the leftovers.  I do the same when processing large batches of vegetables like carrots and broccoli, which is what I used in this dish.



Winter’s Last Few Weeks

Late winter has certainly been cold enough for me here in the southeastern US.  I’m trying to continue enjoying winter vegetables and heavy stews, while anxiously anticipating spring veggies.  Eating asparagus, Quinoa Ginger Salad, and BLTA salad remind me of warmer days to come.

Roasted Veggies

Asparagus, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, orange peppers, golden beets, and onions (or other vegetables)

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes.  Dice the peppers, beets, and onions.  Break the woody stems off the asparagus.  Spread the vegetables out on lightly sprayed roasting pans and season with salt and pepper.  Roast at 400°F.  Using a spatula, turn the vegetables every 10 minutes.  If some of the veggies near completion before the others, remove them from the oven and return to the oven just before serving.

Quinoa Ginger Salad

Serves 12ginger 1

2 batches of kale, stemmed and steamed

1.5 c quinoa cooked in 1.75 c broth or water

2 sweet yellow onions, diced small and sautéed in water

3-4 c cooked white beans

2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and diced

Spicy Ginger dressing

This is a great pot luck dish, isn’t very time consuming to make, and has great appeal thanks to all the great colors and health benefits of the ingredients.  Mix the kale, quinoa, onions, white beans, and sweet potatoes in a large serving dish.  If you have access to a Whole Foods, look for this fabulous spicy ginger dressing in the fresh sushi section (there’s also a non-spicy version).  I dilute a few tablespoons of dressing with a tablespoon or two of water and mix in the salad.  If you don’t have access to a store bought version, I’ve included the ingredients below so you can create a lower fat version.  I’ve been wanting to make an oil free version for years but just haven’t gotten to it yet.

ginger 2








BLTA Salad

Shredded greens (lettuce, kale, spinach, etc)IMG_2677

Tempeh Bacon (see adaptation from Salad Samurai below)

Tomatoes, diced

Avocado, diced

Back at the Ranch dressing (see adaptation from Salad Samurai below)

Tempeh Bacon 

8 oz organic tempeh

2 T maple syrup

2 T organic tamari

1 T ketchup (without high fructose corn syrup!)

1/4 t liquid smoke

Slice the tempeh into 1/4 inch strips and then into ~1 inch long pieces (bite-sized).  Whisk remaining ingredients in a small bowl and marinate tempeh in the refrigerator overnight or at least for 10 minutes.  Preheat a cast iron pan over medium heat and lightly spray with oil if needed.  Reserve the marinade and cook tempeh pieces for 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Add marinade and simmer until it has absorbed.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Back at the Ranch Dressing

1/2 c raw cashew pieces

1/2 to 3/4 c water

2 T fresh lemon juice

1 T ground flax seeds

1 clove garlic or 1 t crushed garlic

2 t organic white miso

2 t Dijon mustard

1 t garlic powder

1 t onion powder

up to 3 T chopped fresh herbs such as dill, basil, or tarragon

Put all the ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until smooth.  (Without a high powered blender, you’ll need to soak the cashew pieces in water for 30 min or nuke in water for 15 seconds then drain and add to blender.)  The dressing thickens with refrigeration but if you don’t have much time to chill it, start with 1/2 c water and add more later if needed.  If you don’t have ground flax seeds, you’ll miss out on omega-3 fatty acids and selenium, but you can still make a thinner dressing starting with just 1/4 c water and adding more later if needed. My plain Jane family doesn’t care for dill, so we’ve been eating this dressing without the fresh herbs, and it works fine.  I’m sure it will serve as a great base for other recipes too.


Umami This, Umami That

Umami is the fifth and easily forgotten taste, after sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.  Umami describes the savoriness, the depth of a dish.  In Japanese, umami means delicious.  Umami is responsible for the use of MSG (monosodium glutamate) as many foods with umami naturally contain high levels of the amino acid L-glutamate.  If your whole food plant based diet seems to be lacking “oomph”, make sure you’re including ingredients that contribute to umami:

nutritional yeast (Cheez, Orange Cheez, fat free Brown Gravy, Gravy, Chicken-like Seitan)

fermented foods like miso, sauerkraut, tamari

ripe tomatoes or better yet, concentrated versions like sun-dried tomatoes or tomato paste (Mediterranean Pasta, Tomato Pie, BLTA Salad, Oat Loaf, Shortcut Gazpacho, Pasta Fagioli)

mushrooms or better yet, dried mushrooms (Spaghetti with White Beans, Mushrooms & Artichokes, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Green Bean Casserole)

olives (Panzanella)

vinegars, balsamic vinegar reduction sauce (Sautéed greens topped with quinoa, sweet potato steaks, and balsamic reduction sauce, pictured right)Sweet_Potato_Steak

umeboshi plums, ume plum vinegar

toasted nuts and seeds (Sautéed Kale with Raisins and Pine Nuts)

avocado (Black Eyed Pea Salad, Massaged Kale Salad, Wraps, MYO Pasta Salad, Easy Guacamole, Three Bean Salad, Black Bean Mango Salsa)

seaweed and sea vegetables like nori and kombu (Sushi for Two, Wraps)

asparagus (Grilled Vegetables)

smoked paprika

caraway seeds (no umami themselves but bring out the umami in cabbage and potatoes) (Irish stew)

toasted cumin

Chinese fermented black beans

There are also cooking methods that bring out the umami in foods.  For example, roasting, caramelizing, browning, and grilling all bring out the umami in any foods because they free L-glutamate from protein.

Intentionally including more foods with umami into your diet can help ease cravings and also aid in the transition to veganism as meat and cheese both have intense umami flavor.

Stoup’s On

As temperatures decrease and our days shorten, I am drawn to the warmth and comfort of soup.  Although I could eat soup daily, my family disagrees, so Tempslately we’ve been having a lot of stoup, or stew-like soup.  As with all of my recipes, please use them as a template and adjust based on what you have on hand and what you like.

Broccoli Sweet Potato Curry Stoup

Serves 4

3 – 4 c broccoli florets

2 – 3 c white beans

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 can coconut milk

1 T curry powder


Optional: kafir lime leaf

Microwave the sweet potatoes for 3 minutes to soften.  In a pot over medium heat, whisk the curry powder into the coconut milk.  Chop the large broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces and dice the sweet potatoes.  Add remainder of ingredients and water to reach desired consistency.  Cover, and cook over medium heat until the veggies have softened.  Add more curry powder if needed, and remove kafir lime leaf before serving.


Fickin and Rice Stoup

Serves 4

3 Delight non-GMO soy patties or 1/2 batch chicken-like seitan

5 c cooked rice

1 carton of No Chicken Broth

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Parsley, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, pepper to taste

Sautee the veggies or if short on time, just boil them in the broth.  Add the fickin (fake chicken) and rice and heat through.  Adjust seasonings, add more broth if desired, and serve.


Beef Stoup

Serves 6

1 batch of beef-like seitan using 2T Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base for the broth

4 – 5 c cooked brown rice

2 onions, diced

3 carrots, sliced into coins

1 green pepper, diced

4 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced

Broth or water with additional No Beef Base

Thyme, rosemary, oregano, pepper

Make the seitan and while it’s steaming, start the rice and chop the veggies.  You can also make the seitan and rice in advance so the meal comes together faster for a weeknight meal.  In a large pot, sauté the veggies using a little water as needed to prevent sticking.  Once the veggies have softened, add the broth and herbs.  Cover and cook over medium heat until the veggies have reached the desired texture.  Slice the beef-like seitan then cut into strips or bite-sized pieces.  Add the rice and seitan and heat through.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more broth if needed for soup.


Thai Butternut Soup

Serves 4

1 medium butternut squash or 4 c diced squash

2 c vegetable broth

1 onion, diced

2 T Thai red curry paste

1 can coconut milk

1 T or 3 cloves minced garlic

Cook the squash in the broth (I used No Chicken broth) until soft and add to blender.  Sautee the onion in a little water until translucent and add to blender.  Add rest of ingredients to blender and puree.  Serve immediately, transfer to crockpot to keep warm for a few hours, or refrigerate.  Add more broth or coconut milk as needed to reach desired consistency, particularly upon reheating.

IF you transport this soup in the car for say a work potluck lunch, please adequately secure the crockpot.  Although the soup smells and tastes great, it’s not something you want to smell for days on end. . .ThaiButternutSoup


Mac n Cheez Please!!

Who does not love a delicious bowl of mac and cheese?!?  Over the vegan years, we have tried many versions of mac and mac&cheezcheese and this one has recently been named the favorite.  Who knows how long it will stay in the top spot, but I for one am thrilled that it fits the bill for comfort food AND includes the amazing sweet potato.  You’ll be impressed with the beautiful color of this mac and cheez!!

Read further below for the meals we enjoyed last week.  The meals came together really quickly after prepping on Sunday.

Orange Cheez

1/2 c cashew pieces

1 medium/large sweet potato, baked and peeled

2 T fresh lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

1 t salt

1 T nutritional yeast

1 c water (then up to 1 more cup, depending on size of potato and desired consistency)

If you have a high powered blender, such as a VitaMix or BlendTec, combine all ingredients and puree until super smooth.  Additional water should be added as needed to reach the desired consistency.

If you do not have a high powered blender, soak the cashew pieces in water in the fridge overnight (or microwave in water for 30 seconds), then add everything to your blender or food processor and blend until very smooth.  Additional water should be added as needed to reach the desired consistency.

At this point, you can use the orange cheez or refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.

If making macaroni and cheese, for example, remove the orange cheez from the refrigerator when you start boiling 16 oz of macaroni.  When the macaroni is cooked, quickly drain it, leaving some water in the pot.  Add the orange cheez and stir well to combine.

Note: The best way to store the orange cheez is in the fridge before adding it to pasta.  Once the orange cheez is combined with the pasta and refrigerated, it doesn’t reheat as well.

Meals for the week:

Mac n Orange Cheez with broccoli (as a side or tossed in with the mac n cheez)

  • Bake enough sweet potatoes for mac n cheez and sweet potato pies
  • Make the orange cheez in advance

Fig Pecan Squash Casserole with wild rice and spinach

  • Cook the squash as directed here then
  • Assemble the casserole in advance
  • Bake the casserole while making the wild rice and spinach

Baked Bean Chili

  • If you cut the onion and peppers in advance and freeze, you can throw this recipe together in the crockpot in 5 minutes- perfect to work in while making lunches.

Rice Bowls

  • This is usually a leftover-like night for us, combining canned beans (or leftover chili) and whatever veggies are left in the fridge.  However rice bowls sounds much better than “leftovers”.

Sloppy Lennys

  • I always make a big batch of these and freeze half, so all I had to do here was defrost and reheat.  If you’re not in the same situation, making the dish or at least cook the lentils in advance (or use canned) helps get this on the table quickly.

And for dessert one night,

Sweet Potato Pies

  • Make the filling in advance

Planning for Thanksgiving

Apologies to the Canucks for once again missing their Thanksgiving celebration last month.  Hope it was tasty!!

For the ‘Mericans, though, now is the time to start planning how to navigate this food-laden holiday if you haven’t already.  Everyone else should make up a reason to get together with family and friends – life is too short not to celebrate whatever we can together.

As you’re looking through a myriad of recipes trying to figure out what to make, consider our favorites below.  The loaf, casseroles, and gravy travel well in a thermo pack or in a cooler if there will be oven space to reheat.  The desserts need a cooler.  The mashed potato-flowers travel well in a crockpot.  Of the recipes below, really all you’d need to make at the last minute would be the sautéed kale and for the best texture, the brussel sprouts.

Thanksgiving Loaf

Pineapple Casserole

Fig Pecan Squash Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Mashed Potato-Flowers

Brown Gravy

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Apples

Sauteed Kale with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Squash Casserole

Pumpkin Pie (GF, soy free)

Chocolate Ganache Pie

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, plan to start making food two days in advance so you can enjoy the day and spend time with your family and friends.  Maybe even do that 5k Thursday morning!!  Here’s the order I make these dishes in advance: desserts, gravy, loaf, squash and green bean casseroles, then the rest the day of.

Unless you’re hosting Thanksgiving or have converted your entire family and close friends, Thanksgiving can be a challenge for those who aren’t willing to sacrifice animals or their own health for a holiday.  Use the holiday to set an example for others in how you make your health a priority and still enjoy delicious foods.  If you’re a guest, always take at least one dish so you know you’ll have something to eat and to share with others who are open-minded about incorporating more plant based foods into their diet.  Remember that weight gain is highest in November and December and to stop eating before you’re full.  There’s no reason you can’t make that delicious dish again next week!!