Tag Archives: healthy cooking

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili

Hey folks! It’s another Dinner and a Movie night! I don’t know about you, but this new year has been keeping me so busy! I’m definitely trying to make time for more blogging and especially for more ‘Dinner and a Movie’ nights! They are our favorites!

This week we watched Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (one of our all-time favorites) and made “Jack Skellington’s Bone-Chilling Chili” (aka Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili). READ ALL ABOUT OUR FUN MOVIE NIGHT HERE!!

If I have learned anything from having two kiddos, it’s that ANYTIME (esp. Dinner and a Movie night) is a good time to dress up!! So… “don’t be afraid”  to pull out the costumes & the Jack-o-lanterns for this spooky movie night! 😉

Vegan Broccoli and Cheese Soup

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Wow… 2014! I can barely believe it is the start of another new year. I have quite the list of resolutions this year… one is being more consistent on my blog… I know, I know… I’m off to a bit of a late start there, huh?! But for the last couple days, I have been putting some recipes from my newest cookbooks to the test, so I have lots of new favorites to share already. So here goes!

This is hands down one of the best vegan soups I have ever had! Creamy, filling and absolutely delicious. Oh… and did I mention healthy? This soup mimics traditional broccoli & cheese soup yet holds its own by remaking the classic recipe with a fabulous vegan twist. The recipe is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s newest book ‘Isa Does It’.  We devoured the entire pot (except for one bowl, which I happily took to work for my lunch the next day) – & even my 3-year-old son was a fan! And the best part? It is completely and amazingly 100% healthy. No dairy, no soy, no faux cheeses of any kind… If you would’ve told me I would be eating “cheddary broccoli soup” that contained no cheese at all, I would’ve never believed it could be this good… and neither will you. Thank god Isa was born!

The secret of the creaminess lies within the cashew cream. This cashew cream is amazing stuff. I hope you aren’t allergic to cashews, because the cashew cream train is swiftly chugging along… and I’m hopping aboard! Sorry, I know I can sometimes be a little “cheesy” 😉 I didn’t have any cashews pre-soaked, so I boiled them for 15 minutes and then let them sit for as long as possible, as recommended in the book – worked like a charm.

Oh – two more things – 1) You will need an immersion blender for this recipe, and 2) This AWESOME soup is not only dairy free, but gluten-free as well 🙂 Bring it on!

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Oooooh yeeeeeah. Serve with some homemade bread on the side for complete satisfaction.

Cheddary Broccoli Soup

Ingredients for the Soup:

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus a pinch
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chopped broccoli – stems and florets
  • 1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrots
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 cups vegetable broth

Ingredients for the cashew cream:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours, or overnight (*or the quick boil method I mentioned above)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsp mellow white miso
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the Soup:

Preheat a soup pot over medium heat and add the oil. Sauté the onion in the oil with a pinch of salt – just until softened, about 3 min. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or so, until fragrant.

Add the broccoli, carrots, turmeric, remaining 1/2 tsp salt and broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer. Cook about 10 minutes until the carrots are very tender.

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Can this soup REALLY be this easy?

Prepare the Cashew Cream:

In the meantime, make the cashew cream by draining the cashews and placing them in a blender/food processor with the broth, miso and nutritional yeast. Blend like crazy, until smooth. This can take anywhere from 1-5 minutes. Scrape the sides of your blender down with a rubber spatula every now and then. (Mine was full to the brim! Unless you have a giant food processor, don’t be alarmed if a little liquid leaks out. I just wrapped a towel around the base of my mixer bowl to catch any overflow.). And voila! Cashew Cream!

When the carrots are tender, add the cashew cream to the soup. Use an immersion blender to puree so that only tiny bits of broccoli and carrot are visible. Keep the soup on low heat, partially covered for about 10 minutes, until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Once thickened, add the lemon juice and pepper, taste for seasoning, and serve. It thickens a bit more as it cools, so you’ll probably need to thin out the leftovers, if there are any!

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And there you have it, folks… heaven in a bowl.

On another note, I would like to say, only my latest posts are listed on the sidebar – Don’t forget to try my search bar if you are looking for something in particular! I’ve been writing this blog since 2011 so there’s some delicious history back up in there!

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed creating food. Before I was old enough to be in the kitchen alone, I was outside letting my mud cookies “bake” on a wooden board out in the sun. When I realized that I could tie my passion for animals and baking together, my heart almost exploded.  I truly love it when someone is wowed by something i made, or surprised that vegan food “can actually be good”! (Geez, its mind-blowing and sad to me how disconnected some of us are from eating real homemade foods with no preservatives!) I love showing people that you don’t need to use dairy/eggs in baking. I love teaching others what I like to call “compassionate cooking”!

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Okay, I know… I really need better pictures of these – You’ll have to forgive me. I was in a rush – to eat them. I will take better pictures next time, which will be soon! Hey, I never claimed to be a photographer, I’m just your vegan neighbor who likes to make yummy food!

This recipe is more or less straight from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s book “Vegan Brunch”, which may be my favorite of her’s.  I actually own all her books except the pie one, which will be on my Xmas wish list! Chef Isa might slap me if she knew I used lemon juice from a jar instead of fresh lemon juice, but sometimes when you get a craving, you Tim Gunn it… and by that, i mean, you “MAKE IT WORK”. So, Isa’s original recipe contains fresh lemon juice and also 2 Tbsp lemon zest. Next time I’ll make Isa proud, but this time, it was still good enough to where my daughter said “Can i have another cupcake?” when it was gone! Now that’s a good muffin!

I actually had the pleasure (or should I say honor) of meeting Isa Chandra Moskowitz today! She came and had a reading from her new book ‘Isa Does It’ at our local bookstore Avid Books in Athens GA. (BTW, the book is filled with really simple amazing recipes I cant wait to try! Very pantry-friendly recipes & full color pictures! I highly recommend you go buy it!) This past weekend was VegFest in Atlanta, which unfortunately I was unable to attend, though I was happy to be able to be a part of Isa’s visit to Athens. She was very down to earth – and totally funny! Ahhh… just another reason to love her!! I also got to meet & briefly chat with another one of my favorite bloggers, “Vegan Dad”, who was in town for VegFest and was there for Isa’s appearance as well! 🙂

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Me & Isa – Too bad the guy in line behind me was a terrible photographer! It’s a little fuzzy and the light is terrible, but I’m just glad I got a picture! I didn’t want to take up anymore of her time asking for a re-do!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 5 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line with paper cups.

2) In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt.

3) Mix liquids in a small bowl separately. Make a well in the center and add the liquids. Mix gently until dry ingredients are moistened and no pockets of flour remain. It will look a little lumpy.

4) Fill muffin tins evenly and bake 23-27 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. When cool enough to handle, move out of the tin onto a cooling rack. Devour!

*Please note: I am working on taking better pictures of my food. I think day light is key to a good picture with my particular camera & I made these at night and I just couldn’t get a good shot. I know how important the pictures are to all you “foodies” out there, so just bear with me! 🙂

Vegan Chick’n & Waffles

Finally! Dinner & A Movie night is back! I hope you enjoy this Dinner and a Movie, featuring the ever so popular ‘Shrek’ quadrilogy! Feel free to watch ANY of the Shrek movies with this meal. We watched all four of them over a couple days and ended up eating this meal with the final movie  Shrek –  Forever After.

Read all about our movie night by clicking here! As always, feel free to comment and send me suggestions or ideas! Thanks! Hope you enjoy!

Potato and Vegetable Stir-Fry (compliments of The Grit)

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This meal is truly one of my favorite things in existence.

Ahhh… the Grit… If you are ever traveling near Athens GA, you would be wise to check it out. The Grit is one of my all-time favorite vegetarian restaurants, one of where I am never disappointed. I could eat there every day of the week and never tire of it. This is one meal that I order every time we go out for breakfast or for weekend brunch.  This recipe is featured in the Grit Cookbook.

This makes 8 servings, so feel free to halve it! It really makes a lot (even a half batch), which is awesome since its great for breakfast, lunch or dinner! I like to serve mine over brown rice with a side of toast (or a biscuit) and grits.

The Grit’s Potato & Vegetable Stir Fry

  • vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes, such as round white, round red or Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes (I prefer using small red potatoes, scrubbed well and unpeeled)
  • soy sauce
  • 1 cup button or crimini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly julienned
  • 1 small head cabbage (preferably red) shredded or sliced thin
  • 2 small yellow squash, quartered and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 small zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips (or red bell pepper)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion, cut into thin crescents
  • nutritional yeast
  • 1 batch of golden tofu
  • brown rice, or rice of choice… this could also be served over quinoa!

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1) Prepare golden tofu and set aside.

2) In a large non-stick skillet (or wok) coated with a minimal amount of vegetable oil, saute potatoes over high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with soy sauce as they cook. Set aside.

3) Stir fry mushrooms until tender and golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add vegetables, pepper and onion. Using minimal oil and sprinkling lightly with soy sauce, cook until vegetables are crisp-tender and somewhat seared, about 3 minutes.

4) Return potatoes and golden tofu to skillet and stir to mix with vegetables, then add nutritional yeast to taste and toss to cover completely. Serve over brown rice. Devour!

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I apologize… I could’ve taken a prettier picture, but we could barely wait to eat!! I basically threw it onto our plates and served it right up –  without our usual sides of toast and grits! Mmmm! Sometimes you just cant wait for a good thing!!

African Sweet Potato Soup

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Mmmm… I really love soup, especially when its cold outside! This is the first time I made this African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter, Black Eyed Peas and Beans and it turned out so delicious! This soup is also gluten free, and makes a great hearty bowl if you are having company.  This could easily be a New Years dish since it contains black eyed peas… Perhaps next time I make this, I may try adding in some greens!

(I slightly altered the recipe below from the original one here @ the gluten-free goddess. The original recipe also includes jalapeno and cilantro. The jalapeno I decided to leave out because my kids don’t usually care for spicy foods, and the cilantro I left out because I didn’t have any! I also used a white onion instead of a red one. What can I say?…. It still tasted absolutely great!)

I was pleased that my kids tried and (more or less) liked this soup.  My son scooped his bowl clean… I think he could sense that it contained peanut butter (hahaha) which is one of his favorite foods! My daughter wasn’t as big of a fan, but she did finish her bowl for me.  I am a sucker for peanuty soups… especially ones like this. It makes about 4 adult servings. We served ours with a side of coconut jasmine rice, which the kids always love! It would also be great with some cornbread. The peanut butter can be substituted for almond butter or sunflower seed butter if you have allergies.

African Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red or green Thai Kitchen curry paste – hot or mild, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 14-0z can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1/2 cup 100% natural peanut butter + 1/2 cup hot water (to equal 1 cup) I recommend using chunky peanut butter to give it a little  extra texture and crunch in the soup.
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red hot pepper flakes
  • Juice from 1 big lime
  • 2-3 tsp brown sugar (or agave nectar), to taste
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1) Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the curry paste and cinnamon; stir for a minute to mix the pol with spice. Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, yellow pepper. Stir and cook the veggies for 5-7 minutes, until softened.

2) Add the black-eyed peas, white and black beans, broth, melted peanut butter, red pepper flakes and cilantro.

3) Bring the soup to a high simmer, cover, and lower the heat. Keep the soup on simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, 25-30 minutes.

4) Stir in the lime juice and sweetener. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro, if you please!

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This delicious soup is packed with flavor AND protein!

P.S. This soup could easily make a ‘Dinner and a Movie’ night with Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’.  That was kinda my original plan. My kids love hearing about different places in the world (in this case, Africa) and how different people live  and how our lifestyles are alike or different.  It makes for a great educational conversation!  However, somehow on this night we got sidetracked &  we never got around to putting in the movie!

Fezzik’s (Get Well) Seitan Stew with Dumplings (aka Thieves Forest Stew)

Check out our favorite ‘Dinner and a Movie’ night ever! If you haven’t seen Rob Reiner’s movie ‘The Princess Bride’ (based on the book by William Goldman) you are seriously missing out!!  The movie came out in 1987 and it still remains one of my favorite movies in the world! It is also one of the most quoted movies ever!

Click HERE to read all about this inconceivably awesome movie and meal!

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KISS YOU?.. AS YOU WISH!!

Getting ready for the Big Thanksgiving Feast!

Somehow, Thanksgiving has snuck up on me this year!! I’m sorry I haven’t shared more recipes with you, but I did provide some links below to some of the things I will be making and more!

We are having a family feast for 21 this year on Thanksgiving day at my mom’s, so I decided to pitch in and bring a few things to help out! Plus, since many others at the feast are not vegan, it’s fun to bring a few dishes to show everyone that vegan cooking is incredibly delicious! It just so happens I have a  3-pot crock-pot cooker, so I chose dishes that would work with that. Another great thing about using a crock pot is that I won’t need to use the busy oven at my mom’s for reheating anything – I can easily heat things up just by plugging it in and stirring every now and then! You can’t beat that!

So, here’s what I’m bringing to share…

  • 1) my vegan pumpkin pie
  • 2) vegan macaroni and cheese (my moms mac-n-cheese recipe, veganized)
  • 3) maple pecan sweet potatoes (from the cookbook ‘Vegan Holiday Kitchen’ by Nava Atlas)
  • 4) and something I like to call “Green beans a’la Terry” (a recipe from my friend and old co-worker, Terry, who works at the Grit, my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Athens, GA)

Sorry – I haven’t put any of those recipes listed above on my blog (except for the pumpkin pie)! But don’t sweat it – there are TONS of recipes online that have been making me drool! Here are some recipes that I thought looked awesome from some other sites that I wanted to share!

  • The Post Punk Kitchen has an awesome looking maple pecan pie I am planning on making if I can squeeze it in… and there are many more holiday dishes to peruse here! Check out the Thanksgiving page.
  • Mmmm. We just made these scalloped potatoes tonight. We made them (minus the fennel) and they were spectacular! Definitely making these again!

  • The Gluten-free Goddess always has an amazing list of holiday friendly foods. Check out her list vegan and vegetarian foods here!
  • And don’t forget about Vegan Dad. He makes some amazing food! I have a “must-try” list accumulated from his blog site!
  • Another good site to explore is Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Life website. Full of good recipes and other veggie news!

If you are new to my blog, you may have missed some previous veggie side dishes that are great for the holidays, such as my lemon maple sweet potatoes, cauliflower mashed potatoes , butternut squash soup, green bean casserole, maple roasted parsnips, agave glazed carrots,… and these pot roast veggies cook up beautifully and easily with a tofu-turkey roast.

You definitely don’t need a turkey to have a delicious holiday meal, but if you need or crave that “meaty” centerpiece, I recommend the Tofurkey roast (available at most supermarkets) or a Field Roast.  Or you can make your own homemade tofu roast (which is a bit more complicated but worth the effort). The Post Punk Kitchen makes a yummy looking seitan roast on their Thanksgiving page (see link above). Regardless of what foods you choose to make, remember the purpose of the holiday is to relax and enjoy the company of those around you!

Vegan White Sausage Gravy & Biscuits

When the weather starts to get chilly, there is nothing like a big bowl of biscuits & gravy to warm you up from the inside out. I wish I could bring this to everyone affected by the early winter weather storms we’ve had this year. Hopefully you don’t think biscuits and gravy are just a “southern thing”… If you’ve never had a good meal of biscuits & gravy, you are missing out on one of the best comfort foods out there!

This is a meal packed with protein that both kids and adults can enjoy. It makes a great breakfast, lunch or dinner when served over these vegan buttermilk biscuits.

Vegan Sausage White Gravy (“Scarborough Fair style”)

(‘Scarborough Fair style’ contains parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme)

  • 1 tube Lightlife GimmeLean Soysage
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil (to saute soysage and onion)
  • 2 Tbsp soy margarine (like Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 large yellow or white onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 cups soymilk, plus up to another cup (to thin gravy as it thickens)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp each parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

1) Brown the soysage in a big skillet over medium-high heat with a little olive oil by chopping it into bits with your spatula while it cooks. Once it is chopped into bits and browned,  move it into a separate bowl and set aside.

2) In the same skillet, saute the chopped onion in a bit of oil until translucent. Then add the soysage back in there with the onion and mix them together.

3) Add in the flour and soy margarine to the skillet, mixing well until everything is mixed together thoroughly. Turn heat down to medium.

4) Add in 3 cups of soymilk and stir. Add the herbs & spices. Continue cooking and stirring while it thickens, adding in the last cup of soymilk bit by bit as necessary, until desired thickness is achieved (though once the gravy is pretty hot and getting thick, turn down the heat down to simmer/warm).  Serve over top of these buttermilk biscuits.

Mmmmm…. gravy!

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! I know most of us are looking forward to making (or eating!) our Thanksgiving day meals. Perhaps you are making your tried and true recipes, or perhaps you are looking to try something new… either way, I hope we all remember that the point of this upcoming holiday is to bring us all together, to overlook faults & shortcomings and to simply enjoy each others company as we share time on this precious earth together. 🙂

In my opinion, a really good Thanksgiving meal is about enjoying a collection of many different dishes… maybe the turkey is a big part of that to you, but in my family, we celebrate our gratitude by acknowledging that for us, a sacrifice is not a necessary component  on the table. The way I see it, there are enough sacrifices that each of make in our daily lives… this is one day we shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything! It is a day to enjoy, appreciate and be grateful for all that is in existence… every plant, every animal… and every person! That being said, Thanksgiving recipes will be forthcoming!

Vegan Caramel Apples

Just in time for Halloween, I have found a recipe for THE MOST AMAZING vegan caramel apples I have ever tasted. This vegan caramel is even better than the classic non-vegan caramel that I remember from my childhood… which is truly hard to beat! Vegan, soy-free, gluten free… this “caramel” is mostly made of brown rice syrup & coconut milk, so you could almost call it healthy, right?!  I will be making this vegan caramel again very soon to make  old-fashioned square candies, rolo-type candies & more! I can hardly wait to experiment! This stuff is GOOOOOOD!!!!

Vegan Caramel Apples

(makes 4 caramel apples)

  • organic apples
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • dash salt (about 1 tsp)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp earth balance vegan margarine (the soy free variety if you desire it to be soy free)

1) Wash and dry apples. Remove the stems. Insert a popsicle stick at the stem point. Cover a plate with wax paper or parchment paper and set aside.

2) Combine coconut milk, brown rice syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium heat  and heat until boiling. Whisk constantly to prevent it from sticking for about 10 minutes. It should thicken quite a bit.

3) Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and margarine.

4) Start drizzling the caramel quickly over each apple with a spoon, and spreading it a bit around the apples as you go. (Feel free to sprinkle and press them into chopped salted peanuts or chocolate if you so desire!)

5) Let the apples sit in the fridge for a bit to harden. DEVOUR!

Thank you, Vegan Action, for this amazing recipe! It is magnificent!