Lemon Potato Orzo Soup [full recipe + video]

Warming turmeric and zesty lemon make this potato orzo soup extra healthy and immune-boosting. It's the perfect cozy soup to have any time of the year. 

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Yes, it is still summer and it's definitely still hot where I am, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying a delicious bowl of soup! Lately, I've been craving a hearty potato soup full of orzo pasta and fresh tangy lemon juice, so despite the heat I decided to go for it and spend a just few minutes by the stove top to make that happen. 

This is a variation on a tofu no-chicken noodle soup recipe I made a few months ago, but instead of tofu I used cubed yellow potatoes, and instead of noodles I used orzo pasta. I also added some ground ginger and a teaspoon of turmeric which tastes wonderful with potatoes and makes this soup extra healthy. It's a simple but flavorful recipe made with some of my favorite herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

I'm finally getting back to making recipe videos again! Let me know what you think of the video in the comments- do you like seeing the recipe in the form of a video, or do you just prefer a written recipe with photos?

For now, I intend to keep the videos short and simple, but eventually I want to make longer videos for our YouTube channel as well.

My plan is to start making recipe videos for each recipe from now on, as well as going back and making videos for some of my favorite older recipes, which I'm super excited about because making videos and the process of putting them together is actually so much fun.

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This soup is absolutely worth turning on your stove top for, even in the summer!

If you make this lemony potato & orzo soup, let me know what you think of it.


How to Make Oil-free Vegan Mushroom "Bacon"

Crispy, savory, vegan mushroom bacon. Made on the stove top with a simple, oil-free marinade of tamari, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. 

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Okay, so I guess everyone can stop eating bacon from pigs now... right?

I mean seriously, look at those mushrooms, it doesn't get any meatier than that. The marinade is just the right amount of smoky and salty with a hint of maple syrup to caramelize the mushrooms. The chewy texture of these large king oyster mushrooms makes them an even more realistic vegan bacon-replacement. 


 A sweet gentle pig sleeping after getting belly rubs at Catskill Farm Animal Sanctuary. 

A sweet gentle pig sleeping after getting belly rubs at Catskill Farm Animal Sanctuary. 

A few reasons to stop eating bacon:

  • Processed meats like bacon are classified as a class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization. 
  • Pigs are more intelligent than dogs and chimpanzees and they can even use a joystick to play video games. Pigs are also very social, they remember locations well, they remember negative and positive experiences, can tell the difference between individual pigs and humans, recognize themselves in mirrors and learn from other pigs.
  • Bacon contains high amounts of saturated and trans fats which lead to our #1 killer, heart disease. 
  • Ninety-seven percent of pigs in the United States today are raised in factory farms, where they are crowded into warehouses with no ability to move. They are fed drugs to keep them alive despite neglect and make them grow faster, but they grow so large so fast that many of the animals to become crippled under their own weight. 
  • Factory farmed pigs are on a steady diet of the antibiotics that we depend on to treat human illnesses. This overuse of antibiotics has led to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.
  • An average slaughterhouse kills up to 1,100 pigs every hour, which makes it impossible for them to be given humane, painless deaths. Even on small farms, pigs are smart enough to know when they are about to be killed and will fight to stay alive and resist going to slaughter just like we would if we were in their situation. 
  • We have so many wonderful alternatives to bacon, from packaged pre-made options, to less expensive homemade versions made form coconut, tempeh, seitan, eggplant, tofu, and of course... mushrooms!

Choosing your 'shrooms

The best "bacon" mushrooms are going to be the larger ones like king oyster mushrooms, also called king trumpet mushrooms (shown below), as well as portobello mushrooms. Both kinds will work well for this recipe, but I prefer king oyster mushrooms when I can find them.

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How to perfectly slice king oyster mushrooms using a mandoline

King oyster mushrooms are best sliced on a mandoline using a serrated slicing blade. This will give them the perfect looking texture for this recipe as well as ensure that the mushrooms are an even thickness which will help them to cook evenly. Aim for anywhere from 1/16th--1/8th of an inch in thickness. 

 King Oyster mushrooms sliced on a serrated mandoline blade

King Oyster mushrooms sliced on a serrated mandoline blade

How to slice portobello mushrooms with a knife

For portobello mushrooms, while you could slice them on a mandolin, I prefer to thinly slice them using a knife. Make sure your knife is freshly sharpened- it's especially important when slicing softer produce. 

Remove the portobello mushroom stem, then place your mushroom gills side up and carefully slice into long slices which are roughly 1/16th-1/8th in thickness, as evenly as possible. 

 Portobello mushrooms thinly sliced with a sharp knife

Portobello mushrooms thinly sliced with a sharp knife


How to pan fry mushrooms without oil

  1. First, mix together all of the marinade ingredients (2 tbsp tamari, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and 1/2 tsp liquid smoke) in a small bowl. Place your sliced mushrooms (8 oz.) in a large bowl, then pour over the marinade. Toss a few times to fully coat each mushroom, then let them sit in the marinade for 10-15 minutes. 
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, then once warm add a portion of the marinated mushrooms to the dry pan, placing as many as you can flat in the pan without layering or crowding them. You may need to do this in batches. Leave the marinade in the bowl for later use in the recipe.
  3. Let the mushrooms cook, undisturbed, for about a minute or until the bottom of the mushrooms turns golden brown. You may need to turn the heat down to medium/low or low if your pan starts smoking, but keep the pan pretty warm. Using tongs, flip the mushrooms back and forth every minute or two until each side is lightly charred and crispy. This could take anywhere from 5-8 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. 
  4. Add your next batch of mushrooms to the pan in a single layer and again let them sit for the first minute until the bottoms turn golden, then flip them every couple of minutes until each side is light brown and slightly charred. This will take less time than the previous batch because the pan will be hotter, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Once all batches have finished cooking, add the mushrooms you cooked in the previous batch(es) back to the pan and pour over the marinade. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 3 minutes or until the marinade has boiled away and the mushrooms are crispy on the edges but still have a nice sheen, then remove from pan and serve over rice or in any recipe where a bacon alternative is called for such as- sandwiches, wraps, or pasta. 

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If you can't find king oyster mushrooms at your grocery store, try your local Asian market. I think the king oysters look a little more meaty, but whichever mushrooms you choose, both make for a fantastic, healthy, plant-based version of bacon.

Portobello mushrooms are much easier to find and will also work well. You may actually find that they cook slightly faster than the time listed for the king oyster mushrooms, depending on how thinly you slice them. 

 portobello mushroom bacon

portobello mushroom bacon

My favorite way to enjoy mushroom bacon is on top of some vegan mac and cheese. It's the ultimate comfort food, made extra healthy with mostly unprocessed, 100% plant-based ingredients. 

 Nut-free  Vegan sweet potato Mac & Cheese  topped with mushroom bacon

Nut-free Vegan sweet potato Mac & Cheese topped with mushroom bacon

If you try this mushroom bacon recipe, let me know how it goes and what you serve it with!


Mediterranean Summer Squash Boats With Smashed Chickpeas & Almond Cheese Crumbles

Sunny yellow summer squash are stuffed with a Mediterranean inspired smashed chickpea filling and topped with sliced kalamata olives, fresh herbs, and almond cheese crumbles made from leftover homemade almond milk pulp.

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When summer squash made their first appearance in our CSA produce box this past week, I knew right away that I wanted to enjoy these golden beauties roasted and stuffed with a chickpea filling. 

Stuffed summer squash and zucchini are sometimes referred to as "zucchini boats" given their long hollow shape. They're so much fun to make and to eat! You can use any kind of summer squash you'd like including the classic zucchini and other colorful and striped varieties. 

Slice your squash in half the long way and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. You can save the seeds to add to smoothies or place them in a freezer bag to make your own vegetable broth. The seeds contain a lot of nutrients, so don't miss out! 

The more you scoop out, the less stable these boats will become, so only scoop out the seeds and be sure to keep lots of the fleshy part of the squash in there. 

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To make the smashed chickpea filling:

  1. Drain and rinse 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas and place them in a medium sized bowl. 
  2. Add in 1/2 cup pasta sauce of choice, I really like Engine 2 brand oil-free tomato basil marinara for this recipe, and add in 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast.
  3. Smash it all together using a potato masher or a fork, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Making vegan cheese from leftover almond milk pulp:

I've been making my own almond milk for the past few months now, so lately I've been finding myself with lots of leftover almond pulp. I've tried several almond pulp recipes, from cookies to crackers to muffins, all of which have never really worked out for me. Almond pulp varies so much in moisture content based on how much liquid you're able squeeze out of it when making almond milk, that it can be difficult to use in baked goods which require very specific amounts of liquid. 

Instead of baking it into something, I prefer to use it raw and make it into a crumbly nut cheese, which is very similar to Cotija cheese or an extra crumbly feta. It's salty, savory, and makes the perfect cheese topping on so many of my favorite meals. The slight bit of moisture in the pulp allows it to stick together and clump perfectly. 

I'm really impressed with how much this tastes like cheese, and while it's not white like traditional cow's milk cheese, you can make this with blanched or slivered almonds, which have had the skin removed, and then it will be perfectly white and the look of it will be even more similar. 

If you don't make your own almond milk and don't have any almond pulp, you can still make this recipe by using almond flour. You just need to add in water or more lime juice a few teaspoons at a time until it starts to form small clumps. 

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To make the almond pulp vegan cheese crumbles-

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond pulp, or the pulp leftover from making 1 liter of almond milk (1 cup raw almonds, plus 4 cups water), or use 1 cup of almond flour. 
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir together using a fork to mash the ingredients until well-mixed and crumbly in texture. If using almond flour, add more water or lime juice a teaspoon at a time until small clumps start to form. Taste and add more salt or garlic and mustard powder if desired. 

This nut cheese is best served on top of food and kept mostly dry. If added to a salad and tossed with a wet dressing, it will turn into an almond paste which you may or may not want on your salad. I enjoy it on top of tacos, pasta, avocado toast, and grain/legume bowls. 


Assemble & bake:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, or skip this step if you want to make these in an air fryer.

Scoop 1/4 of the chickpea mixture into each squash half, then place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until the zucchinis are tender and the mixture is browned. If using an air fryer, place the stuffed squash halves into the air fryer basket and cook them in the air fryer for 15 minutes at 380 degrees. Depending on the size of your air fryer you might need to do this in batches.

Remove the squash from the oven or air fryer and top with sliced kalamata olives, raw almond cheese, and fresh chopped herbs.

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Summer squash and zucchini have a very low calorie density, so I find it's best to think of these as a snack and not a full meal. Though, they could be a full meal if you doubled the portion size and served them over a bed of fresh greens. 

Have you ever tried squash or zucchini boats before?

If you make this recipe, I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of it!


Taco Salad with Walnut & Cauliflower "Meat" Crumbles

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This taco salad tastes just like a restaurant style take out treat, but it's made with minimally processed plant based ingredients so you can feel even better about making it an everyday kind of meal that will keep you feeling happy and healthy.  

I first tried a vegan taco salad made with raw walnut meat at a local raw vegan cafe near by and it completely blew my mind. The flavored walnut crumbles reminded me of the fast food tacos from my childhood, with all the right spices and the perfect crumbly texture.

While it was super delicious, it was also covered in oil and contained way more walnuts in a single serving than I would normally consume, and my skin was not happy about it. Since that version was a little too nut heavy for me, I set out to create my own more vegetable-based recipe using riced cauliflower and a moderate amount of walnuts and it turned out to be just as good!

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I didn't feel like using my food processor this time, so I chose to use thawed frozen riced cauliflower and I quickly chopped the walnuts by hand. Then I mixed them together in a bowl with some spices and tamari. 

If you are working with whole fresh cauliflower then all you'll need to do it chop it into florets then add it into the food processor and pulse a few times until crumbly, then place in a bowl. Next add the walnuts to the food processor and pulse a few times before adding them to the same bowl, then stir in the tamari and spices.

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Spread this mixture out in a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes then give it a stir and bake for another 10 minutes until lightly golden brown. 

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To make this taco salad, I started with a bed of chopped spring mix, but any kind of lettuce or tender greens will work. Then on top of that I added guacamole, my roasted corn salsa, shredded purple cabbage, the walnut cauliflower crumbles, a drizzle of cashew sour cream and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. It's the perfect zesty summer salad!

This taco meat replacement is also amazing in actual tacos. in grain bowls with rice or quinoa, added to tomato sauces to make a meaty bolognese sauce, in wraps, or pile it in a big lettuce or cabbage leaf instead of a taco shell- the possibilities are endless!

What are some of your favorite summer salad recipes? If you try out this recipe I'd love to hear what you think of it! 

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Instant Pot Burrito Bowl with Roasted Corn Salsa

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Beans and rice are a staple in my kitchen because not only are they super healthy, they're also budget friendly and so easy to make- especially in a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot. This simple beans and rice recipe is made with dried black beans, which are less expensive than canned and make for the best restaurant-style beans. 

While I love the instant pot now, it's taken me a long while to figure out how the dang thing works. When we moved into our new place, I picked up two new kitchen appliances at the same time, an air fryer and an instant pot. The air fryer, being as straight forward as an appliance can be, has been something I've used multiple times a day, but the instant pot took me a little longer to figure out.

What has impressed me the most about the instant pot is the fact that I can cook dried, un-soaked, beans, and in under an hour and  the result is the best fully-cooked flavored beans. Even though not soaking them is possible and very helpful when short on time, I still like to give my beans a good soak for at least a few hours ahead of time, so I can rinse out some extra lectins and make the beans even easier to digest. 

I topped it off with a delicious roasted corn salad, made with freshly roasted ears of corn, tomato, bell pepper, red onion, lime juice, and cilantro (or parsley if you're not a cilantro fan like me!) Not only is this salsa the perfect burrito bowl topping, it's also amazing in wraps, on veggie burgers, on top of chili, or even on it's own as a side dish. 

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How to Make Black Beans & Rice in an Instant Pot

1. Rinse and drain your dried black beans. Soak the black beans for a few hours if you have time, if not that's okay too. 

2. Chop your onion and garlic and then press the Saute button on your instant pot and wait for it to heat up. Add a small splash of water or broth then add in the onions. Cook the onions for 5 minutes, then add in the garlic and spices and continue to cook for another minute. 

3. Turn off the Saute mode by hitting cancel, then add in the beans, rice, vegetable broth, and salt, and give it a quick stir. 

4. Place the cover on the Instant Pot and set the valve to the sealing position (pointed away from you). Set the Instant pot to 30 minutes on HIGH pressure in manual pressure cooking mode. 

5. Allow the pressure cooker to release the pressure naturally for at least 15 minutes before releasing the valve and opening the lid. Give the beans and rice a good stir and then serve with the roasted corn salsa. 

*If you don't have an instant pot or pressure cooker cook the rice and beans separately. Cook your rice in a rice cooker or on the stovetop, and use canned beans or cook dried beans from scratch on the stovetop or rice cooker, then mix them together and top with the roasted corn salsa. 

This is a freezer-friendly meal that can be prepared ahead of time and enjoyed with all sorts of different toppings, so make a big batch to have instant burrito bowls ready to go for several weeks. 

If you try this recipe, I'd love to hear what you think of it. Leave a comment down below and let me know how it turns out! ❀


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Roasted Garlic Quinoa Tabbouleh with Tofu Feta [Oil-free, Vegan]

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Tabbouleh is a kind of zesty chilled grain salad full of fresh herbs and vegetables. In this version, I used fluffy white quinoa as my grain and fresh vegetables like cucumber, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and bell pepper. For extra flavor I tossed everything in a simple but flavorful dressing made with roasted garlic, fresh lemon juice, and tahini. 

Though this dish could be served without it, the tofu feta is such a nice touch and makes this salad much more filling. I've been making a feta cheese alternative using tofu for the past few months and I feel like I finally have discovered the perfect marinade sauce. The tofu cubes end up tasting eerily similar to how I remember feta cheese tasting with just the right amount of herbs, tang, and saltiness. 

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For the best results with the tofu feta, prepare it the day before you plant to make the tabbouleh so it has at least 8-24 hours to marinate before being added to the salad. For a firmer, more feta-like texture, freeze the block of tofu first then thaw it to release all the water or just press the water out of the tofu first using a tofu press or alternative method. This also allows the tofu to soak up more flavor before being chopped and added to the marinade. 

Once your tofu has marinated and you've cooked your quinoa, the tabbouleh comes together really quickly. Blend together the dressing, chop your fresh veggies and herbs, then toss together and let chill for at least a couple of hours in the fridge to let the flavors develop. 

This makes a perfect meal to take on the go or to add to a packed lunch. 

Recipe below!


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Prepare Ahead:

Herbed Tofu Feta


Tofu No-Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemon & Black Pepper [Vegan, Oil-Free, Gluten-Free]

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It's still cozy soup season in early April right? Here in the Pacific Northwest, although it's been a little warmer, we are still fully in the rainy season so I've been into all things cozy and comforting these days. 

Chicken noodle soup is one of those timeless classic soups that almost everyone loves. Even though I grew up as a vegetarian, I still remember enjoying cans of the Amy's no chicken noodle soup all the time. Those are great in a pinch, but nothing actually compares to a homemade soup- and this soup is so easy to make there's no excuse to go reaching for the canned stuff. 

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The tofu "chicken" is baked in a marinade of tamari, nutritional yeast, and paprika, which makes it so savory and delicious. I recently got an air-fryer so I've been loving that for making crispy tofu, but it's just as easy and efficient to bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes. 

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This soup is full of zesty flavors like lemon and black pepper along with savory tofu-chicken-complementing herbs like sage, marjoram, and thyme. What brings it all together and gives it that authentic savory broth taste is the no chicken bouillon broth paste made by the brand Better Than Bouillon. It's available in most grocery stores near where they sell the broth and while the packaging says vegetarian, it's actually vegan! It's so delicious but it can be a bit high in sodium so I've listed a low-sodium option in the recipe as well. 

This recipe will please vegans and non-vegans alike! The crispy marinated tofu makes a perfect chicken substitute for even the pickiest of eaters and the broth tastes like the most classic chicken broth from your childhood, all without harming any animals.  

If you try out this recipe, I'd love to hear what you think of it! Hopefully it's exactly the soup recipe you needed to stay cozy through this rainy early spring weather. 

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Balsamic Borscht- Beet & Cabbage Soup

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This vibrant red beet soup is packed full of nutritious whole plant foods and cooked with flavorful mustard and a splash of balsamic vinegar. The beets are peeled and become very sweet when cooked, so there's no earthy taste here! Just sweet, tangy, wholesome goodness. 

This soup contains a variety of some of the healthiest whole plant foods possible, including beets, potatoes, carrots, purple cabbage, leeks, garlic, and fresh herbs. Despite this soup being such a healthy meal, you wouldn't guess that from the way it tastes. It's lightly sweet from the beets and gets a delicious tangy flavor from the balsamic vinegar which is added in at the very end. 

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This recipe is fairly easy, but be warned- there's a lot to chop!

Sometimes it helps to put on a podcast to listen to in the background, but lately I try to use the time spent chopping as an opportunity to tune in and be more present with what I'm doing. It's a great time to slow down and feel grounded while preparing myself a truly nourishing meal. 

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Once everything is chopped and the cooking has commenced, I like to whip up a quick cashew sour cream. My favorite vegan sour cream recipe is this recipe by Hot For Food. While this soup is fantastic with or without sour cream, it's so easy to make that I usually find it worth the small amount of effort. 

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If you've been following my blog since the beginning, you may remember that one of my very first recipes was a for a borscht soup! Since then, my recipe has changed a bit with the addition of the balsamic vinegar and getting really specific on the exact measurements after making this countless more times since then. 

Over the years this has become one of my all-time favorite recipes and one that I've been really excited to update and share with you so that you can try it out for yourself. As good as it tastes, the way it makes you feel is the best part! I hope you enjoy the recipe, and if you do feel free to let me know what you think of it by leaving a comment down below.  


Oil-Free Veggie Fried Rice with Peanut Sauce

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Lately, I've been loving this rice and veggie stir-fry. Fried rice was a dish I was pretty sure I would never be able to make taste just as good without oil, but with the right sauce it's actually very possible!

Instead of oil, we fry the vegetables in coconut aminos which adds a wonderful umami flavor. Then the cooked rice is added in along with a savory peanut sauce which makes this dish taste rich without needing any refined oil. 

For this recipe, you can use any kind of whole grain rice you like. I've used wild rice, black rice, brown rice, and even quinoa- all with fantastic results. I think black rice is probably my favorite though, and it's actually the highest in antioxidants too!

Whichever rice or other similar whole grain that you decide to use, the first step is to give it a good rinse and then cook it in your rice cooker. 

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While the rice is cooking, prepare your veggies. You can use 2-3 cups of whichever finely chopped vegetables you prefer. I usually go for a mix of bell pepper, carrots, broccoli/broccolini, and edamame or peas.

While the variety of those veggies changes a bit each time I make it, I always use chopped green onions and garlic to add more flavor and give it a more authentic restaurant-style fried rice taste.

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Once you have your veggies chopped, it's time to make the sauce. 

My favorite stir-fry sauce is this spicy & savory peanut sauce. It's a simple mix of coconut aminos (or use low-sodium tamari), peanut butter, hot sauce, and maple syrup. There's no blending required- simply add the ingredients into a small bowl and give it a good stir until creamy. 

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Now on to the oil-free vegetable frying-

To make the veggies extra savory and avoid having them be soggy, I like to use just a 1/2 tablespoon of coconut aminos in place of oil. 

Once the pan is hot, add the coconut aminos and garlic, cook for a few minutes then and the rest of the veggies. Since they are chopped small, they cook in about 5 minutes. Then, add in the cooked rice followed by the sauce. Stir it all together while the rice cooks with the veggies for another 2-3 minutes. Then add in the green onions at the very end, remove from heat and serve. 

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Let me know if you try out this easy oil-free veggie fried rice recipe, I'd love to hear what you think of it!


Tempeh Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Wrap [Vegan BLT]

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This marinated tempeh & veggie wrap has been one of my favorite quick lunch recipes all week. Ever since getting the hang of preparing tempeh, I've been all about adding it to wraps, sandwiches, salads, and stir-frys. 

The trick with cooking tempeh is either steaming it or water-frying for about 8-10 minutes before marinating it. This removes any bitter fermented flavors from the tempeh and allows it to easily take on the flavors of the marinade. 

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There are so many different ways to marinate and prepare tempeh, but for tempeh in a wrap I like to stick with a simple marinade consisting of coconut aminos (or tamari) maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I also use just a bit of liquid smoke for a different flavor, but it's not entirely necessary and can be omitted. 

The longer you allow the tempeh to marinate (up to 24 hours), the better the flavor will be, but I'm one of those people who never remembers to plan ahead and I usually decide to cook something on a whim, which means often I manage to only marinate the tempeh for anywhere between 15-30 minutes, and it still takes on plenty of flavor in that amount of time.

Once the tempeh has marinated, you can either bake it in the oven or fry it in a pan on the stovetop for a few minutes on each side. I usually go with the baking option so I can cook all of the pieces at the same time. 

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The firm and crispy texture of the tempeh makes it fantastic as a bacon substitute in this BLT style wrap. The marinade is just the right balance of salty, tangy and sweet and makes the tempeh taste savory and delicious. 

I used a spring mix lettuce blend, fresh tomatoes, green onions, avocado with lime juice, and I added shredded carrots for some extra crunch, though finely chopped purple cabbage would well work in place of the carrots too. 

I find that when making a wrap it's important to use a spread of some sort because it helps to hold the wrap together when you're rolling it all up. There are a few different options for the spread to use in this wrap.

This week I've been going back and forth between using this homemade green olive hummus and this homemade pumpkin seed pesto sauce. They are both easy to whip up in the blender in about 5 minutes, but for more classic BLT and less preparation, use a vegan mayo spread.

Let me know if you try this out, I'd love to hear what you think of the recipe!


Chickpea "Tuna" Wrap with Oil-Free Pepita Pesto [Vegan]

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These chickpea "tuna" salad wraps with pesto sauce are the perfect meal-prep lunch recipe to keep you feeling healthy and satisfied during the work week. The best part: NO cooking is required to make either the pesto sauce or the chickpea salad! All you need is a blender for the pesto sauce and a mixing bowl and masher for the chickpeas. 

To be completely honest, I don't quite remember what tuna tastes like. I haven't had a tuna sandwich since I was a little kid, so I couldn't tell you if this actually tastes like tuna fish or just a delicious chickpea salad.

I would've just called it a chickpea salad wrap, but with the addition of some finely chopped seaweed in the mix, I feel pretty confident that these smashed chickpeas have a touch of oceanic flavor and a texture that gives off some tuna vibes. 🐟

While it might not be just like tuna, there are many reasons to try chickpeas instead and avoid eating tuna and other sea life-

  1. Mercury and other toxic heavy metals bioaccumulate up the food chain, so large fish that eat smaller fish, like tuna, often contain extremely high levels of these heavy metals as well as industrial pollutants. Even small amounts of mercury can negatively impact our digestive and nervous systems. This risk greatly outweighs any benefits we would receive from the omega 3 fatty acids in fish, so it's much safer to get your EPA/DHA lower down on the food chain, in the form of a micro algae supplement.
  2. Overfishing is destroying the oceans and the way in which tuna are captured is actually really disturbing. They are caught by net which means they have a slow and painful death and are often crushed by the weight of other tuna and sea life as they are dragged to the surface. 
  3. The CDC says that 75% of all food poisoning comes from seafood. I have experienced this for myself when I once ordered vegan avocado sushi rolls from a sushi restaurant that serves fish and got the worst food poisoning of my life due to cross contamination from the fish they were preparing on the same surface. 
  4. Tuna fishing kills more than just tuna. Dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and other sea life are also often killed when they're accidentally caught in fishing nets. 
  5. Farmed fish are not any better off. They often live in cramped conditions to increase profits, which puts them at a high risk for disease and parasitic infections. To keep the fish alive, fish farmers often give the fish powerful medications and antibiotics which we then ingest. These aquafarms are not even a more environmentally friendly choice. A 2-acre salmon farm produces as much waste as a town of 10,000 people.
  6. Fish DO feel pain and in many ways, such as their memory and cognitive abilities, they are just as smart as certain vertebrates and even primates. They are playful, social, and some fish even use tools. Why choose to eat them when there are other options?

This pesto sauce made with pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) is my new go-to pesto recipe to spread on everything. It only requires a handful of ingredients and as always I made it completely oil-free. Most of the recipes I have found use up to half a cup of oil, which is really damaging for the health of our arteries.

Even so-called "healthy" oils like extra virgin olive oil cause more damage than if we just didn't eat the oil at all. The natural oils found in the pepitas, which still retain their fiber and micronutrients, are a much healthier way to enjoy a delicious fresh pesto, full of necessary unrefined whole plant fats. 

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This pesto is easy to make quickly in the blender. I find that it blends very easily in my high-speed blender, no scraping down the sides required, but a food processor should do a great job of it as well.

It's so tasty I could eat it by the spoonful!

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The chickpea "tuna" salad is also super simple to make. Just throw all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl, then give it a good mash and stir until it's still a little chunky, but evenly mixed. 

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Make the wrap by starting with a layer of pesto sauce, then add a handful of fresh greens, cabbage, and carrots (I forgot to add in the carrots this time), and a nice thick line of the chickpea salad. Fold in the sides of the wrap then roll it up. For extra wrap-security, roll it up again in some parchment paper and tie it with a string.

It's a great recipe to take on the go as a packed lunch for work or school. The leftover chickpea salad and pesto sauce can be stored separately in sealed containers in the fridge for 4-5 days. The leftover pesto sauce is acutally fantastic on pasta as well!

I hope you love this wrap as much as I do! Recipe down below ↓

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Vegan Pizza Soup with Bell Pepper & Mushrooms

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This hearty soup has everything you love about pizza all in one bowl. The only thing missing is the crust, but if you want the full experience just serve this soup up with some fresh bread! 

When I first started making this variations of this recipe I didn't intend to call it pizza soup, but every time I'd make it my partner would tell me it tastes like pizza. I've since come to fully embrace idea of pizza flavors being in a soup and so I've tried to make it a bit more pizza-like each time which resulted in this thoroughly pizza inspired soup creation.

I chose to use classic pizza topping veggies like mushrooms and bell peppers and I also added in barley and white beans to make the soup extra filling and give it a bit more texture and substance. If you're not into barley feel free to leave it out, but it you like an extra thick soup it definitely lends itself to that consistency. 

The fresh herbs give this soup an authentic pizza flavor.  While I used dried oregano for convenience, I opted to use fresh basil and thyme as well which if you can find them fresh they really add such a good flavor. 

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While this soup is still delicious without the parmesan topping, I find that pairs nicely with the tomato sauce and gives it such a realistic pizza flavor. Check out my Vegan Parmesan recipe for a super quick and easy way to make your own at home and enjoy the extras on all sorts of food, it's seriously so good on almost anything savory. 

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This recipe requires a little bit of chopping, but it cooks up on the stovetop in just 30 minutes making it a perfect weeknight recipe! It's also oil-free and full of whole grains, healthy plant protein, and fiber to keep you feeling healthy and vibrant.

If you love pizza, give this soup a try and let me know what you think of it! 

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White Bean, Cherry Tomato & Heart of Palm Salad with Refreshing Lemon Basil Dressing

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If you love refreshing and zesty salads and are looking for a healthy alternative to fresh mozzarella, you'll love this salad recipe!

I have been loving heart of palm as a mozzarella replacement in salads lately. The texture and mild flavor is similar to fresh mozzarella and with the right dressing it can taste very similar. For convenience, I like to use canned heart of palm which is readily available and easy to drain, slice, and serve. 

I added in white beans for extra protein and fiber along with fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and sliced green onion.

The dressing is what makes this salad so delicious and zesty. It's super easy to throw together quickly in the blender. First, add to the blender the lemon juice, water, vegan cashew parmesan (or nutritional yeast), garlic, and mustard and blend until combined. Then, add in the basil leaves and pulse a few times until shredded into small pieces. 

It's amazing how flavorful this dressing is with no oil needed! The lemon juice and fresh basil in combination with cherry tomatoes, avocado, and heart of palm makes for a deliciously healthy fresh salad that's actually so filling and satisfying. 


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Sticky Sweet & Sour Sesame Baked Tofu [Oil-Free]

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This tofu recipe is as simple as it is delicious. The tofu is tossed in starch and then baked while the sticky sweet & sour sauce takes just a few minutes to whip up on the stovetop. 

It tastes amazing served over rice with a side of pan-seared broccoli. If you've been missing savory restaurant-style food, this dish will definitely take care of that craving. 

I've adapted this recipe from the Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu recipe by Hot For Food, following her instructions to make this completely oil-free by baking instead of frying the tofu and I also added a bit more ginger and garlic to suit my own tastes. 

I hope you enjoy this delicious oil-free tofu recipe!


Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce [Low-Fat, Vegan, Oil-Free, Nut-Free]

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This alfredo sauce is so flavorful and creamy with no oil, dairy, or nuts needed! It's made from cauliflower, which when cooked for a bit and blended with the right ingredients, it transforms into the most perfect alfredo sauce texture. 

Don't get me wrong, I love a good heavy cashew-based sauce, but over the years I've found that too many nuts can make me feel not so great. So instead of nuts, this recipe uses hemp seeds which are super healthy and contain lots of omega 3 fatty acids that support long-term brain health and cognitive function. 

Hemp seeds help to make the sauce creamy and thick without throwing your omega 3-6 ratios off-balance and they have a delicious nutty flavor that works perfectly with the other flavors in this sauce. 

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Behold, a creamy sauce you can feel good about pouring over your pasta. No dairy, nuts, or oil needed! 

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Does it taste like cauliflower though?

Well, a little bit, but not in the way you might expect.

Because the cauliflower is cooked for about 15 minutes it really softens up and loses that strong fresh vegetable taste. It does taste very subtly of cauliflower, but in a soft delicate way that won't make you feel like you're eating straight up pureed veggies. 

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I used whole wheat pasta and added in some peas and my favorite mushroom bacon, which I highly recommend, but feel free to add whichever veggies you have on hand or enjoy the sauce on it's own over the pasta, it's delicious either way!

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Almond Butter Tempeh Salad With Miso Ginger Dressing [Oil-Free, Vegan]

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This salad with marinated almond butter tempeh and creamy miso ginger dressing has been my go-to salad recipe for the past few weeks. It's filling and savory from the marinated tempeh but also refreshing and spicy from the creamy dressing made with fresh ginger and fermented miso paste. 

I used to think I hated tempeh, no matter what I did it always tasted bitter. Eventually I learned that tempeh really needs to be steamed first to remove the bitter flavors, but even then I didn't know what to do with it. Then I found this recipe for marinated peanut butter tempeh by Minimalist Baker and that changed everything for me. I adjusted the recipe to be oil free and also slightly lower in sodium, but still maintain that delicious flavor, and now I can't get enough of it. I love adding it to fresh salads, but it's also wonderful in warm grain bowls with rice and steamed greens, as shown below. 

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I like the tempeh cut into little triangles. Cut the tempeh in half the long way first and then cut the thin pieces into triangles. 

Making the marinade for the tempeh is really easy. Just mix together the marinade ingredients in a bowl and gently stir or toss the tempeh until it's fully coated. 

If I have time I try to let it sit in the marinade for as long as possible (2-24 hours), but usually I only have about 15 minutes. Even in that small amount of time the tempeh still picks up a lot of flavor. 

Lay out the marinated tempeh pieces on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees until golden brown. 

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If you like ginger, you're going to LOVE this salad dressing recipe. As always it's oil-free, vegan, and made with healthy whole food ingredients. It's got quite a kick to it and goes so well with the almond butter tempeh in this salad bowl. All you need is a high speed blender or food processor. Add all of the ingredients and blend until it's super creamy and no chunks remain. Store the dressing in a sealed container in the fridge and it will keep for 4-5 days for use in salads all week. 

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I hope you enjoy this flavorful salad recipe! 



Smoky White Bean & Caramelized Onion Quesadillas [Vegan, Oil-Free]

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Quesadillas hold a very special place in my heart. Since becoming a vegetarian as a young kid, quesadillas were just always the easiest thing to throw together at a friend's house or order out at restaurants. I always wanted them as plain as possible with just a ton of cheese and nothing else except maybe sour cream. Up until a few years ago, I had never heard of the idea of filling them with anything else besides cheese, but since becoming vegan and realizing how important fiber is I have wholeheartedly embraced the idea of healthier filling alternatives. 

These quesadillas are filled with smoky smashed cannellini beans and sweet caramelized onions. They are crispy, savory, and definitely have a tangy cheesy flavor that is so crucial to any quesadilla experience. They get their cheesy flavor from nutritional yeast, tahini, and lemon juice.

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What really takes these quesadillas to the next level is a layer of caramelized onions. They require a bit of time and patience, but add such a good flavor that it's worth it. If you don't have time, the quesadillas will still be delicious though, and by not adding them you can cut the cooking time down from 50 minutes to 10 minutes, so I fully understand if you choose to pass on them. 

If you do decide to take the longer route of adding in the caramelized onions, you'll be so happy you did once you taste how delicious the sweet onions are with the smoky white beans.

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I recently read a post on Sweet Simple Vegan about how to caramelize onions without oil and realized how impatient I had been being when caramelizing onions in the past. I'd always try to get away with saving time by making turning up the heat, but the key is to keep the heat on medium low the whole entire time. This allows them to brown slowly and not dry out, making them extra sweet and juicy. Another key point is to use water while frying, but wait for the pan to completely dry out before adding more water. I found all of these tips super helpful!

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I hope you enjoy this delicious & healthy quesadilla recipe!


Crispy Chickpea Salad with Creamy Caesar Dressing [Vegan, Oil-Free]

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This colorful salad with roasted chickpeas and creamy caesar dressing is the perfect way to start off the new year feeling nourished and glowing from the inside out. 

The chickpeas are seasoned with a cheesy onion flavor that makes them taste like croutons. The spice paste, which makes the flavors fully coat the chickpeas, is made with the liquid from the can of chickpeas rather than oil. This makes for a much healthier option which still packs a ton of flavor. I've adapted this brilliant chickpea roasting method from this recipe by A Virtual Vegan. These chickpea croutons are perfect in a salad but they also make a great snack to enjoy on their own!

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The dressing is super simple and requires no blending! It takes only 5 minutes to prepare and tastes so creamy and delicious. It's similar to a creamy caesar dressing; tangy, thick, and salty, but made almost entirely with unrefined whole food ingredients. 

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Store bought dressings are made to sit on a shelf for months so they are often filled with questionable preservatives and processed oils. To pour one of these dressings over an otherwise nutrient-packed healthy bowl of fresh vegetables would undo a lot of the health benefits of eating a salad in the first place. Now that I've learned how to make my own dressings, I can't imagine ever going back to store-bought, especially when they are this easy to make!

Feel free to choose any of your favorite crunchy veggies for this salad. My go-to salad ingredients lately tend to be romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, carrots, radish, and green onions or scallions. I love adding avocado to this salad bowl, but if you don't have any it's perfectly delicious without it too. 

This is a great recipe to meal prep for a week of healthy salads. Double the batch of crispy chickpeas and allow them to sit inside the oven while it cools to make them stay extra crispy for longer. Then store them in a glass jar and add them to salads and whole grain bowls all week. Make sure to make an extra large batch of the creamy dressing too! 

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Beet Hummus Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms [Vegan, Oil-Free]

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Roasted portobello mushroom caps make a deliciously healthy alternative to the classic hummus and avocado on toast. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with having hummus on some sliced whole grain bread, but it's a good idea to change things up every so often. Since I make a batch of hummus almost every week, after a few days of having it on toast, I find myself looking for other ways to enjoy it. This time I decided to try stuffing it in a roasted portobello mushroom and it was so tasty! 

My favorite hummus lately has been this vibrant pink beet hummus. The key to making the beets have sweet flavor rather than an earthy bitter flavor is to make sure to use well-cooked beets. Any way you choose to cook them is fine, as long as they are very soft and cooked all the way through. This hummus is so fluffy and easy to blend because we use some of the liquid from the can of chickpeas (aka aquafaba) which becomes really airy when blended making the hummus have a softer whipped texture. I also use a bit more tahini to balance out the flavor of the beets and make the hummus extra savory. 

This recipe takes only slightly more effort then having hummus on toast. The portobello mushrooms are wiped clean, coated in a simple marinade, and then roasted for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and stuff with hummus, then roast for another 10 minutes, remove from the oven and garnish with whichever toppings you like. 

I hope you enjoy the recipe! 


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I used boiled beets so the color of the hummus before it was baked was a light pink color which darkened to hot pink in the oven. If you use roasted beets, the color will be even more vibrant, and will turn dark red when roasted. 

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Tofu Benedict with Pumpkin Biscuits, Broccolini & Hollandaise Sauce [Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan]

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The first time I ever had a vegan tofu benedict was at Champs Diner in Brooklyn a few months after first going vegan. This was a time when I knew nothing about cooking and had no idea how amazing vegan food could potentially be. When I tried their tofu benedict I was amazed by how much it tasted just like the eggy vegetarian versions I remembered having before going vegan. It was the ultimate filling, comforting brunch food. Back then, I remember thinking that gourmet restaurant-style vegan food was something I'd only ever be able to enjoy at restaurants because it would be way too complicated to make from scratch. Over the years I've since learned just how easy it can be to recreate some of my old favorites and began experimenting with my own version of this classic brunch recipe. 

Traditional eggs benedict includes ham and this was also true of the vegan version at Champs, but I've always found faux meats unappealing and also not very healthy, so I chose to leave that out of the equation. I also decided to go with a less traditional almond flour and pumpkin biscuit instead of using regular white flour, which adds a nice autumnal twist and makes these biscuits much healthier- and they're also gluten-free! On top of the biscuits, I stacked smoky baked tofu, followed by a creamy, buttery cashew hollandaise sauce.

This recipe is a little nut-heavy with the almond biscuits and the cashew sauce, so it's not going to be the healthiest everyday kind of meal, but it's perfect for serving brunch guests or having a fancy sunday breakfast. While it is higher in fat than most of my recipes, it's still oil-free and contains plenty of fiber to keep your gut flora happy and thriving. 

My favorite topping for this recipe is usually pan-seared broccolini and fresh chives. The broccolini adds a great crunch and texture to the dish, but I have also had some success with using sauteed spinach and layering it underneath the tofu rather than on top. I'd still recommend trying this with broccolini if you can find it though! Regular broccoli won't work for this recipe as it's too thick, so if you can't find broccolini (the long skinny version of broccoli), spinach is the way to go. 

This is my favorite recipe to serve guests, not only because it looks so beautiful, it's also shows how delicious and filling vegan food can be. While there are many parts to the recipe, it's a lot easier to make than it seems at first. Make the biscuits, bake the tofu, blend the sauce, sear the broccolini, and then assemble & serve. I promise the time spent is well worth the effort! 


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