Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quick and Easy Enchilada Sauce

Want a quick and easy, creamy enchilada sauce, that doesn't contain MSG or dairy? I was super bummed to find out one of our favorite enchilada sauces contains MSG. So my husband came up with a brilliant idea. So here it is:
Creamy Enchilada Sauce

1 Jar your favorite salsa (we used a chunky green salsa)
1 package silken soft tofu
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
ENJOY!! :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Walnut-Mushroom Pâté

Pâté - a fancy dip - always sounded like something I would like to try.. or at least I did until I found out what it was made out of! Check it out here, if you don't already know what it is. In any event, it didn't sound appetizing. But this walnut-mushroom pâté is to die for! It is so rich and delicious. And best of all, it didn't make me gag when I read the ingredients list :) Now this is a dip for a fancy dinner party, or just whenever you feel like it.
I got the recipe from Veganomicon, but I had to change it just a little because I was lacking in some ingredients. As always, make it your own. 

Walnut-Mushroom Pâté
about 30 minutes plus chill time

3 Tbsp EVOO
1 cup yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 tsp salt (this is what the book calls for, but I added about 1 more tsp)
Fresh ground black pepper
8 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped *
3.5 oz shiitaki mushrooms (1 pkg), chopped *
1 cup walnuts
3/4 cup cooked cannellini beans
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
up to 1/4 cup cold vegetable broth

*Veganomicon calls for 1lb of cremini mushrooms, but I didn't not have that much so I improvised. I suppose you could use whichever mushrooms you like* 

Heat 2 tbsp of the EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until translucent, then add the garlic, thyme, tarragon, salt and pepper, and cook for another minute. Next, add the mushrooms and cook for 7-10 minutes until they are very soft, don't let them burn.
While the mushrooms are cooking, use a blender or food processor and process walnuts until very fine.
Add the mushroom mixture to walnuts in the food processor, along with the balsamic vinegar, beans and remaining tbsp of oil. Process until smooth, adding the vegetable brother 1 tbsp at at time as needed. Should result in a smooth, thick and spreadable paste. Scrap mixture into an airtight container to chill for at least an hour before serving, to let the flavors meld. Serve with delicious crackers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

French Lentil Soup

This winter I'm looking for hearty, filling, tummy warming soups. And this one is a winner. This recipe comes from "Veganomicon - The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook", written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. French lentil soup with tarragon and thyme is so delicious they say, "this is the last lentil soup recipe you will ever need." And I agree! I did change their recipe slightly, because I can! Always feel free to play around with recipes, makes it more fun. A recipe is mostly a guideline (I'm still trying to learn that when I cook I can substitute sometimes). Have fun!!

French Lentil Soup
Serves 8

1 Tbs olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 can diced tomatoes (I used Italian style)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika (Hungarian preferably)
6 cups water or vegetable broth
2 cups French lentils (or they are also called brown lentils)
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper

1. Preheat a large soup pot over medium heat
2. Saute the onion and carrots for about 10 minutes, until onions have browned a bit.
3. Add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, and paprika, and saute for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, with the juice and stir to deglaze the pot.
4. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add the water, lentils, bay leaves, salt and pepper, then cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, about 45 minutes, or you have tender lentils.
If the soup is too thin, cook uncovered for a few more minutes *I had to cook for 10 more minutes uncovered to get to where I wanted it*, If it looks to thick, add a little water.
Serve and enjoy.

I tried some with tortilla chips, YUM!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Better than Tuna Salad

This is a recipe I tweaked a little, from the cookbook The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. This really is better than tuna! It uses garbanzo beans instead of tuna, when these beans are chopped up they give a similar feel to tuna but without that unappealing fishiness.

Better than Tuna Salad
2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 cup eggless manyonnaise (I used Veganaise, but look for Trader Joe's reduced fat mayo, It is an eggless, dairy-free mayo)
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

Grind chickpeas in a blender, to small flaky pieces. 
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with chickpeas.
Season to taste.
You can make into a sandwich or serve a top some leafy lettuce. We used Dave's Killer Bread and made sanndwiches with lettuce and sprouts. Delicious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thai Salad Rolls w/ Peanut Sauce

One of my favorite appetizers that shouldn't be an appetizer. These things are so delicious, I could eat them as a main course, except an order only has like 3 rolls.
The ingredients are simple. The process somewhat precise. The end result, perfection. Here it is.

Thai Salad Rolls w/ Peanut Sauce
24 rolls (12 cut in half)
1/4 head of cabbage, sliced
2 carrots, shredded
3 stems green onions, diced
about 2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1 package of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 package rice wraps, square or round
Also you will need: plate with water, and a surface with a damp paper towel (I used a cutting board)

My basic set up
1. Wash, rinse, slice, shred, dice, and cube your ingredients. Arrange your work station.
2. Place one rice wrap in the plate of water and completely saturate, but don't let it get soggy. Transfer to your wet paper towel to fill.
3. Place a small hand full of cabbage in the center of the wrap, a pinch of carrots, 4 or 5 pieces of mushroom, and a pinch of green onions, and place 3 or 4 pieces of tofu along the side of your mound of veggies.
4. Wrapping may be a bit tricky, take the corners closest to you and fold over, tucking under your filling, try to wrap as tight as possible without puncturing the wrap, (they are fragile).
5. Place to the side until finished, cut in half. Serve fresh* with peanut sauce.

*They will keep in an airtight container for hours until ready in the refrigerator.

Peanut Satay Sauce
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp red chili paste (Sriracha)
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup hot water (more or less to preference)

Combine all ingredients expect hot water in a blender or food processor and pulse until well combined. Gradually add some hot water and pulse to thin the sauce to your liking.

*Sorry I don't have a picture with the sauce.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Roasted Purple Cauliflower

Purple cauliflower!! How come it's taken me this long to hear about these? Okay so purple cauliflower isn't much different than the white variety. This veggie is purple due to an antioxidant flavonoid called anthocyanin (also found in blueberries, red cabbage and red wine). This flavonoid helps stabilize capillary walls. Nice huh! Well enough about that! Here it is.

Roasted Purple Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 oz lemon juice
olive oil
salt and pepper
cheese (your choice)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Cut cauliflower into florets and put in a single layer in an oven safe dish. Toss in garlic. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Place in oven, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until top is slightly browned
3. Test for desired tenderness.
4. Douse in cheese :) I used mozzarella style daiya, but prefer cheddar style for cauliflower
Went a little weak on the cheese for the picture.
Had to add more :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mung Bean Salad

Mung Bean Salad with Peppers and Basil
Adapted from recipe at

2 cups sprouted mung beans*
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
2 tablespoon parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare beans according to directions on package; I used Truroots organic sprouted mung beans. Stovetop cooking directions: Add 1 cup beans to 3 cups boiling water. Cook 5 minutes, turn off heat, cover and let sit 2 more minutes. drain excess liquid, if necessary.
In a large bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar. Add the beans, peppers, onion, garlic, basil, and parsley, and toss to coat. season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve at room temp or chilled.
*1 cup uncooked yields about 2 cups cooked.
Serves 1 =P
Simple and delicious!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brussels Sprouts!

Brussels sprouts, not a food I've ever been interested in trying. In fact, in the past I might have said I didn't like them even before trying them. Movies and television shows always depict brussels sprouts as being disgusting and inedible. I think they can taste great (as can any ingredient really) if cooked properly.
My recipe today is a very simple recipe. Only 4 ingredients, let's get to it!

Pre-entering oven
Roasted Brussels Sprouts!
2 lb brussels sprouts (ends trimmed, leaves removed)
4 TBSP olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place all ingredients into a large resealable plastic bag, seal tightly and shake until sufficiently coated. Pour onto baking sheet, and place in center of oven.
3. Roast in oven for 20-35 minutes, shaking every 5-7 minutes for even browning. Reduce heat if necessary to prevent burning.* Brussels sprouts should be a dark brown (almost black) when done. Re-season if necessary.

YUM! Enjoy :)

*After about 10 minutes I turned the oven to 350 degrees and only continued cooking for 10 more minutes. How you cook them will depend on your oven. Ours doesn't like to be too hot. :)
Also, I made a small batch. This is less than one lb, so I adjusted the oil measurements.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where do you get your protein??

One common question you'll hear if you talk about becoming vegan (or being vegan already) is, "where do you get your protein if you don't eat meat or eggs?" Good question, and with just a little research we can clear that up and find good sources of plant based protein.
Not so keen on soy products? There are many products other than the soybean that can give you your daily dose of protein.
One website gives ingredients to keep stocked in your kitchen:
Lentils: Also high in iron and dietary fiber. They come in many types (Wikipedia names 13! Tho I've only tried 3 myself), and are easy to prepare. One cup of cooked lentils gives you 35% of your daily protein.
Chickpeas: Hummus anyone? One cup of chickpeas gives you 30% of your daily protein.
Tofu: Four ounces of the stuff gives you about 20% of your daily dose. Seitan and tempeh are used in faux meats, they are high protein.
Nuts: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts... the list goes on and on. You can get your fill by going raw, or using a nut milk or nut butters such as peanut butter or almond butter.

To name some more:
Nuts/Seeds: Almond, brazil nut, cashews, chestnuts, coconut (shredded), hazelnuts, flax seeds, macadamia, peanut, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts.
Beans: Adzuki, anasazi, black beans, black eyed peas (not the band), cannellini (white beans), fava beans, garbanzo, great northern beans, green beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, pinto beans, soy beans, split peas
Grains: Amaranth, barley (pearled or flakes), buckwheat, cornmeal, millet, oats, quinoa, rice (brown, white, wild), spelt, couscous, bulgar wheat
Cooked Fresh Veggies: Artichoke, asparagus, string beans, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chives, sweet corn, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, okra, onion, parsnip, peas, peppers, potatoes, radish, rhubarb, spinach, squash, sweet potato, tomato, turnip
Raw Fruit: Avocado, banana, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, cantaloupe, cherry, currant, date (pitted), gooseberry, grape, grapefruit, guava, honeydew, jujube (dried), kiwi, lemon, mango, melon, mulberry, nectarine, orange, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, pomegranate, prickly pear, quince, raspberry, sapote, starfruit, strawberry, tangerine, watermellon

What is protein? Protein is made up of amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids. Our bodies can produce 10 of the 20. And only 8 of them are essential. The names are too large and text book that I won't get into it. But just know that we can get all the nutrients we need by eating various complementary foods (such as rice/beans, rice/lentils, basically any legume (beans/lentils) mixed with any grain), and getting enough fruits and veggies. You don't need to much on a cheeseburger to get your amino acid fill. :)

Let's back up a step or two, the question that never seems to get asked is, "how much protein do I actually need?"
Calculating our protein requirement is simple mathematics. Multiplying 0.45 by your body weight in pounds should give you an approximate protein need for your body. Obviously if you are pregnant, breast feed or have a medical condition you will want to make sure with your doctor what your plan of action is. But for the majority, we can go by this standard.

Did you know that there is such thing as too much protein? Too much protein, especially sourced from animal products, can cause kidney damage, can cause kidney stones, along with osteoporosis, acid reflux, obesity, plaque buildup in arteries, high blood pressure, pain from arthritis, high cholesterol, bad breath from sulfur- containing amino acids, and increased risk of cancer (especially colon cancer).

One thing to note about protein is that it needs to be replenished daily. Our bodies do not store protein as it does other nutrients, and we're aware that it needs to be replaced to aid in building and repairing new cells, hormones, antibodies, enzymes and muscle tissue.

Glad we got that settled. Now we can stop thinking about if we're getting enough or too much and just have fun with trying new foods and eating a balanced diet! :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Coconut Oil Butter

Before I put this recipe up (which is super easy btw), I wanted to share some of the health benefits of coconut oil that I found. Many people think because there is a high amount of saturated fat (about 92%) that coconut oil is something to avoid. But there are many health benefits to coconut oil, including "hair care, skin care, stress relief, cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits can be attributed to the lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.." ( That's a lot of benefits!!
Coconut oil is a nice choice for those looking to lose weight, because it has less calories than other oils, it's fat content is easily converted to energy, and it does not lead to an accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. It also tastes good! :)
Enough of that now, here it is:

Coconut Oil Butter
(for 10oz of butter, by weight)

8oz** Coconut Oil, soft but not liquid *note, it is easier to use when it is not in it's liquid state, though if you store the coconut oil in the fridge it turns hard as a rock, which is less than desirable :)
2oz** Coconut cream

We used coconut oil that was liquid
1) Use a scale and measure 8oz of coconut oil in a bowl,
2) Add 2oz coconut cream (Kara brand is good and inexpensive)
3) Mix thoroughly,
4) Salt to taste

**If you do not have a scale, you can just use the ratio 80% oil to 20% cream, and salt is always to taste

<--while mixing, don't be alarmed if you are also using coconut oil that is liquid at the time and it looks kind of chunky..

<-- because after about 10 minutes (of resting, not mixing) it starts to emulsify

Now that you've made it yourself, where do you store it?
Like I mentioned above keeping it in the fridge makes it rock hard, which would be inconvenient for quick use. The reverse is true, if it is kept near heat (by the stove/oven) then it will keep liquid. I suggest keeping it in a cool cupboard, keeping it soft.

You might be thinking, why should I take the time to make this myself?
First of all, the benefits of using coconut oil are numerous! But also, it is less expensive than buying dairy butter.
We bought our 31.5oz jar of pure coconut oil for $6 (19cents/oz), not on sale, the Kara brand coconut cream are less than $1 for the 6.8oz pack (about 1cent/oz). At this price, it makes 1lb of coconut butter about $3.2
I price checked some dairy butters, and they are a little less than $5/lb or 31cents/oz.

As a side note, tried it on toast, and I couldn't tell the difference between dairy butter and the coconut butter.
Also, don't get frantic if you can't find coconut cream, you can use coconut milk or even go without it completely. The cream is just to reduce the amount of saturated fat per serving, to a level similar to dairy butter.

I rule in flavor of coconut butter ;)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Okay, so this is just a little update on how I've been doing not eating meat, dairy or eggs. My husband, Evan, and I started about the 1st of September ridding our kitchen of animal products and not purchasing more products that contain it. Not necessarily 100% avoiding it, because we're still newbies and didn't want to discourage ourselves by thinking we have to eat 100% animal free from the start. We're taking it one step at a time. Though we've generally been doing well, I slipped up at the grocery store this past weekend, totally and completely absent minded, picked up a sample of a new ice cream flavor, and when Evan pointed out that it was dairy I still ate it.. and you know, I didn't beat myself up for it. But next time, I probably won't choose to eat it.
Since starting this new lifestyle, I've lost 11lbs (and this is with ZERO exercise.. that's the next thing on my list of things to tackle) and on my way home from work today, I was thinking that I haven't really been having any food cravings, which I used to get daily. No extreme cravings for salty french fries, or ice cream and cookies.. nothing. Strange for me. But I LOVE it! And not only that, but I've been trying foods that I never thought I would and they are delicious.
And, I feel good too! I feel like my joints don't ache as much, I don't feel as tired, like I need my daily coffee, I can totally go without it and feel fine. At 21 years of age I don't think I can remember a time when I've felt this way, and that's sad. I should be in my prime, best shape, and soon hopefully I will be. :)
So that's enough about that for now.
Tomorrow (hopefully), I'll be putting up a recipe for coconut butter, a replacement for your dairy butter, and it's fabulous! It doesn't even have a strong coconut taste to it, so it's versatile. So, stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quinoa and Black Beans

I've heard about quinoa for years, but never had the courage to try to cook it myself. And to my surprise it is super easy! Pretty much the same concept as cooking rice. Who knew?? I purchased my quinoa from Whole Foods in the bulk bins, $3.99/lb. The recipe I'm using came from, and if you don't have an account with them (it's free!), then you should! (Seriously.)

Quinoa and Black Beans
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 (15oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.
 4. Enjoy!

**We also topped ours with a chilled medium salsa.
Total time: about 50 minutes (15 minutes to prep, 35 minutes to cook)

This is definitely a recipe we'll be holding on to. Next time we're going to try it in burritos! Maybe with some grilled red peppers. Let me know if you make this, what variations you experiment with :)
Happy healthy cooking!

PDX VegFest

This past weekend was the NW Veg Fest at the Portland Convention Center. It was super fun and very informative as someone trying to get started as a vegan. Tons of products to try out and demos to watch. I've got to say that my husband and I (and two of our close friends) are completely sold on the VITAMIX!!  Some of the products that I will be purchasing in the near future to experiment with are:
Earth Balance Soy milk (probably the best tasting soy milk I've tasted) -- (will send you coupons if you contact them)
So Delicious Ice cream bars,
Tempt protein powder (made with hemp seeds, rich in omegas 3 and 6, with 10 essential amino acids) --
Upton's Naturals faux meats, made with Seitan, (wheat gluten) great flavor, we bought some at Whole Foods already --
Genesis Organics Juice, Amazing flavor, never heated/pasteurized, they use a high pressure method which gives you a fresh squeezed taste that you just can't get from other juices. We tried the strawberry lemonade, ginger lemonade and a cranberry lemonade. Get a coupon sent to you from their website
Also tried gardein's meatless mandarin orange crispy chick'n YUM, Equal Exchange very dark chocolate and Orange dark chocolate, and Chia Seeds!
Got a list of some vegan restaurants in and around Portland, can't wait to check them out!
Leave a comment with your favorite veg products for me to try!
Thanks for reading :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Comfort Food (minus the guilt)

My go to comfort food would have to be a nice big bowl of garlic and cheese mashed potatoes. But who needs all those calories? Not very comforting. My recipe for today is Guilt Free Mashed Cauliflower.
About 6 cups of boiled cauliflower
1 med head cauliflower, washed, trimmed and chopped roughly
1/4 salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp almond or rice milk (original or unsweetened)
2 tbsp Earth Balance
Dash black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp garlic salt (optional)
After blending, about 4 cups cauliflower
1/4 cup daiya soy cheese cheddar style (optional)

Bring pot of water to boil and add salt
Either steam or boil cauliflower until soft (should take abot 20 minutes)
Strain cauliflower and transfer to food processor or blender.
Pulse a few times
Add in garlic, salt, and earth balance,
with blender on add your 2 tbsp of almond milk
If it isn't blending try scraping the bowl and starting a few times, 
if still not blending, add a touch more almond milk.
Add a dash of pepper and the thyme, (garlic salt, if using)
and pulse until incorporated.
Top with Soy Cheddar cheese (if using)
Serve hot, and enjoy:)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My fave thing right now

Okay, so I've been on a kick lately. Steel cut oatmeal with brown sugar (only a little so it's still healthy), blueberries, with a splash of so delicous vanilla coconut milk (you can use your favorite milk). YUM! Only thing about the steel cut oats is that they take longer to cook if you're in a time crunch, but they are so worth it.
Okay so here's how to make it at home:
Cook steel cut oats as directed on package, add 1/4 cup (fresh or frozen) blueberries, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon milk.

Nutrition Facts: 1/4 cup oats (Quaker brand) 150 cal, 2.5 fat, 27g carbs, 4g fiber, 1g sugar, 5 protein
1/4 cup frozen blueberries 24 cal
2 teaspoons brown sugar 30 cal
1 tablespoon (So Delicous) vanilla coconut milk 6 cal

Overall a very healthy and delicious breakfast!
Check out this websites to get coupons sent to your email for their products: -- So Delicious brand

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hello and Welcome!

Welcome, I'm so excited to start this journey to being a healthy individual, I hope you find this blog inspiring and helpful in your life also. Over the years I've tried many diets, fad diets to be exact, and none of them worked for me personally because I only saw it as a diet, a short term deal, a four letter word, and definitely a restriction. I would "cheat" on the diet but what I didn't realize was I was cheating myself. But I've changed my mind set. I'm no longer going to consider what I'm doing a "diet". It is a lifestyle, a "norm" if you will. One definition of the word diet is "a selection or limitation on the amount a person eats for reducing weight". I don't want what I'm going to eat to be about limitation or "I can't have that, I'm on a diet". It is a choice and it should be treated as such. I want this to be about opening up new and exciting possibilities and trying recipes that would have been daunting in the past, and making healthier versions of old favorites. You might notice that the recipes I share won't include and animal products or their secretions (for the most part), but instead will be mostly food that is from the ground, with as little processed junk as possible.
So, with that in mind, let's move forward and choose to be healthy and happy. :)