What kind of vegan hippie helper is that….?

HippieHelperWhat kind of vegan hippie hamburger helper is that? Joked my husband as he entered the kitchen. I usually make dinners big enough that I can throw the leftovers into containers for the kids lunch for school the next day. I thought I had made enough tonight that I could get two meals out of it at least, but I was way wrong…they ate everything, and asked me to make it again, right then, like round two…… So, what I thought would carry us for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow, was such a hit that I had to make it twice. Next time I will just double the recipe. Best part is, it took about 10 minutes to assemble, and 30 to cook….

1 package of organic extra firm tofu
1 can black lentils
2 cups brown rice

For the sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp canola oil
3 Tbsp Soy sauce (GF)
¾ Tbsp ground ginger
¾ Tbsp ground garlic
¼ cup fresh spring onions
¾ cup warm water
1 Tbsp peanut butter

For Garnish:

¼ cup spring onions
¼ cup fresh chopped basil
¼ cup fresh mint
¼ cup fresh cilantro

Put all the ingredients for the sauce either in your blender or use a hand mixer but blend them together. Pour the sauce into a large, oven safe pan that will also hold the rest of your ingredients. Add the tofu, drained and cubed, and the lentils also drained. Put the pan in the oven at 350 uncovered for 20 minutes. While that is baking, cook your rice. Add the rice to the baked tofu and lentils when they are both done,
mix them together. Add the fresh cut herbs right before you serve….Next time, you will wish you had doubled the recipe!


The last gasp of winter vegetables….

Today is the first day of spring, but no one has told the vegetables. We are in the weird space where the winter fruits and vegetables look edible but don’t taste like much, and the berries and lettuces of spring have yet to appear. So, tonight for dinner we did our best with the last gasps of the winter vegetables. It worked out because, I have been want to making pumpkin soup in a pumpkin, and it was now or wait six months….I actually used large Kabocha squash, because real pumpkins were nowhere to be found.

PumpSoup1I cut the tops off the squash and scooped out the seeds. In a separate bowl I mixed the spices, almond milk and olive oil. You could use other kinds of milk easily, also, this would be great with chunks of bread added at the end.

2 Kabocha Squash, with the seeds scooped out

In a separate bowl:
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cloves
2 tsp salt
¾ tsp pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 ½ cups Almond milk

Depending on the size of your pumpkin/squash the amount of milk you need will vary. After you have mixed up the spices and the milk, pour the mixture inside your pumpkins. I put some foil between the hole I had cut, and the top that fit neatly in, when it cooks the top could shrink and fall in.

Bake at 350 for an hour. When the flesh of the pumpkin is soft but not collapsing, pour the mixture into the blender. Scoop the flesh of the pumpkin that has been softened by cooking, careful to leave a thick enough layer to act as a bowl. Blend the softened pumpkin and milk mixture and pour it back into the pumpkins, and serve.

As always, my kids will eat it because they find eating out of the vegetable fascinating….It was very filling, so after everyone was stuffed I threw the remain soup and the disinegrating pumpkin bowls in the blender and made a thick soup that will be great for lunch tomorrow.


Something for everyone…..

I have one child who dreams of pasta, he loves it in every shape, with every sauce or vegetable. He prefers it to dessert, and would have it for every meal. His brother will eat pasta as a base for other foods, but certainly does not have dreams of rigatoni with olive oil, basil, and salt. His dreams are filled with fruit. Today, I splurged on two containers of organic strawberries, and raspberries. They were a fortune, and he had eaten them all, before I could point out that they were for sharing….

So tonight, for dinner I split the difference. We had pasta in a cashew, avocado, pesto cream sauce and Vegan key lime pie in a graham cracker crust. They both tried and liked the other’s favorite thing, and each boy felt like they got a treat. The rest of us got to enjoy their favorites and everyone was completely stuffed by the end of dinner.

Pasta1For the pasta, I used fresh gluten free pasta, it can be hard to find but most specialty markets carry it. I went fettuccine, one of these days, I will learn how to make it myself. The sauce was:

2 cups of soaked cashews
2 small avocados
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
½ cup fresh parsley
½ cup fresh basil
1 Tbsp fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil

Throw it all in the blender, if it is too thick you can add a little water. Add it to the pasta after you have drained it, and let it all sit for a minute in the same pot. I garnished with red pepper flakes and fresh basil…


KeylimePieKey Lime Pie

Prep this about 3 hours before you plan to serve it, after you have prepared it you put it in the freezer to set.

The crust:

1 box GF graham cracker crumbs
6 Tbsp melted Earth Balance coconut for baking (vegan butter would be fine)
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup agave
Press into a greased pan and freeze for an hour

For the filling:

2 12.3 ounce boxes of tofu drained
1.5 whole limes chopped, with rind (use one if the are big)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup agave
¼ cup Tucuma Powder
¼ tbsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Blend in a high speed blender and pour into your pie crust after it has set, put the pie i the freezer for about two hours. I garnish with strawberries and pomegranates because I like the mix of sweet and tart.

½ cup fresh parsley
½ cup fresh basil
1 Tbsp fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil

Throw it all in the blender, if it is too thick you can add a little water. Add it to the pasta after you have drained it, and let it all sit for a minute in the same pot. I garnished with red pepper flakes and fresh basil…


This would make a great side…

Side2More than once my husband has finished a vegan dinner, and by way of a compliment observes, that the meal I have spent the better part of the afternoon chopping and blending would make a great side with Tri-Tip…

He isn’t wrong. It can be challenging to make vegan meals for omnivores that feel complete. I think of a smoothie as a meal, I could put the entire contents of our fridge in the Vitamix and my kids would still like a side of something on a plate with their smoothie. To make a vegan meal satisfying for omnivores it has to have a couple of different textures. I think that’s why the spring rolls are always successful, but a soup no matter how hearty, feels like a starter.

This meal was my attempt to get my kids to eat chick peas. I am not sure why, but they hate them. I may have been a little aggressive with the hummus when they were little. I have a vague memory of packing many hummus sandwiches for nursery school. Also, as my son pointed out, chick peas look like naked buns and kind of taste like dirty water….in this house, chick peas were in need of some good PR.

Typically, to encourage my family to like something new, there has to be a gateway food; something they like, which encourages them to try the new or previously rejected food item it is paired with. For this dinner, the gateway was potatoes, and guacomole. I used the medium sized white potatoes which I sliced slightly thicker than chips. I threw them in a bowl and added a can full of rinsed chickpeas. I marinaded the potatoes and the chickpeas in a dressing I had made from spring onions and grape seed oil.

Bake both the potatoes and chickpeas in a single layer on parchment paper at 350 for about an hour, flip the potatoes after 30 minutes. In this dinner, to vary the texture, I also made buckwheat, which is a great gluten-free grain. It is filling, and has a good nutty flavor. I use the Kasha brand and cook according to the directions on the box, for this recipe I added a cube of vegetable boullion to the broth.

When the potatoes and chickpeas are done, I threw the chickpeas in with the already cooked buckwheat, and then lined the plate with the potatoes. Since the chickpeas were mixed in with the buckwheat, no one objected to their presence, and the potatoes were delicious enough that they got everyone going on the meal with gusto. The guacomole on top was perfect for dipping, and is a major family favorite. The avocado’s were a nice raw addition to an otherwise cooked meal.


2-4 avocados, scooped out
1/2 cup of cilantro chopped small
juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste

Side1Marinade for potatoes and chickpeas:

½ cup grapeseed or olive oil
¼ cup chopped spring onions
1 tsp. chopped garlic
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup warm water
Blend using hand mixer, I also used a little fresh parsley in this but only because I had it in the fridge.


Springing Forward

SpringSmoothieI have a complicated relationship with springing forward. The loss of the hour of sleep feels personal, and as nice as it is that it isn’t pitch dark at 4:00 in the afternoon, it’s still too cold to want to sit outside and enjoy the late sunset. However, it does signal that very soon spring will be here, with all of its wonderful warmth and color. It also means that the clock in my car will finally, once again, be right…

This morning, I decided that in honor of the time change I would add a little kick to my breakfast. Typically, breakfast is coconut milk yogurt, some sort of seasonal fruit, and some sunflower seeds and walnuts. I am not a regular coffee drinker, and usually make it through about half a cup of tea before the morning gets away from me (inevitably, I find the mug later, tucked on a shelf or forgotten on one of the kids dressers…)

This morning though, I hit the hard stuff and made a smoothie with a kick that was so good it may become part of the regular rotation.

In the blender goes:
1.5 frozen bananas
2 pitted mejdool dates (3 if they are small)
1 rounded Tbsp Cacao with Maca
1-2 Tbsp ground coffee
1 scoop of Green Vibrance
Unsweetened almond milk (vary the amount based on the thickness you prefer, I probably added 1.5 cups)

Blend. Enjoy.


A bar that can be breakfast, but is good enough to call dessert

barThis bar is crumbly, and sweet, it is great mixed with coconut mik yogurt, and fares well in a lunch box.

This recipe is from It was a huge hit in my house…

I only used a .5 cup of brown sugar and added extra dates, I didn’t use white sugar at all. If the dough isn’t sweet enough, you could add a tablespoon of agave. I also used coconut oil becasue I am not a huge fan of vegan margarine.

1½ cups gluten-free rolled oats
1⅓ cups gluten-free flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegan margarine or coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups chopped dates
⅓ cup organic cane sugar
⅔ cup water


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish.
  • In a large bowl combine gluten-free rolled oats, gluten-free flour, brown sugar, vegan margarine or coconut oil, baking soda and kosher salt. Mix together until crumbly. Press half of the mixture firmly into the greased baking dish. Set aside the remaining half.
  • In a saucepan combine chopped dates, cane sugar and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes until the liquid is almost evaporated, the mixture forms a nice thick paste and the dates are softened.
  • Spread the filling evenly over the crust in the baking dish. Smooth to the edges.
  • Sprinkle the remaining half of the crumble mixture over top. Press gently but firmly into the filling.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes until the topping is golden brown.
  • Let cool before slicing and serving.

They don’t photograph well, mostly because they get eaten so fast. It was hard to get a picture.


What isn’t awesome about a spring roll?

sr3If you have never used rice paper, play with it a little. It’s stronger than you think. For dinner, I use the larger size rounds. If I am using them in lunch boxes or for desserts, I use the small ones. I love filling the small ones with banana, peanut butter, and some vegan chocolate chips…

But for dinner, my kids love these asian rolls.

In a saucepan, add peanut butter, GF soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Blend them over a low heat. Slice the tofu into strips and saute it. Soften the rice paper then lay it out on a damp surface. Place two romaine leaves upon it, then add broccoli sprouts, shredded carrots, cilantro, avocado, and, finally, the tofu. Wrap tightly and enjoy immediately or put in the fridge for later…

sr1Saute Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1Tbsp unsweetened, no salt peanut butter
1 Tsp ground Ginger
1/2 tsp ground Garlic



1 container extra firm Tofu
3 large shredded carrots
2 avocados
1 handful of chopped cilantro
1 head of romaine
1 package of large rice paper rolls


It may never warm up…

I don’t know anyone who isn’t super sick of this winter… It’s March. Winter is no longer cute, its charms have worn thin and the filthy snow hangover feels like nature’s walk of shame.

These days I can’t get enough soup. A big pot in the fridge is like money in the bank — a quick healthy meal in minutes.

soup3For this particular soup, start with water, add mushrooms, onion, ginger, potato, cashews, salt, and pepper, then let them all boil together. I went and took a shower and checked my email, so it was maybe forty minutes. After everything is sufficently soft, I threw it all in the Vita-mix and blended until smooth. It is super rich and filling, and definitely warms up a cold day…

4 cups water
2.5 cups mushrooms
1 yellow onion
1 medium sized red potato
1 small chunk fresh ginger (i ove ginger, but skip it if you don’t)
1/4 cup cashew
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with fresh cilantro


Some food for thought

One of my teachers, Gina Norman, talks about how when you start doing Yoga, all of a sudden your vices stop being fun.

When you eat something that you know is bad but tastes good, you feel awful, and eventually you start making different kinds of choices. I am not sure why it happens, and I was competely sure when I started practicing that it wouldn’t happen to me… But it did, and I have watched it happen to many of my students over the years. Something shifts, and all of a sudden they are juicing beets and carrying small bags of almonds everywhere they go.

It was all well and good for me to start slowly, over time, moving towards a plant based diet, and thinking about things like seasonal and locally grown, but I have a family. My kids are eaters, ever since they were little we exposed them to different flavors and foods. They love all foods, well, most foods. My husband (who grew up in California with a mother who made pesto mayonaise that while tasty, was a very bright green. Needless to say, other kids were not clamoring to trade lunches) is open to the idea of a vegan diet, is also be happy to down a large diet coke and a hamburger for lunch if need be.

Below are some of our meals over the last few months. Most of the recipes I improvised, via a blending of my recreational reading of the Joy of Cooking with the Candle Cafe cookbook, and tons of vegan blogs. I will make a list of my favorite books and blogs in a separate post.

Some tips for cooking vegan food for your not vegan family:

1. Keep it simple

2. Don’t take it personally if they hate it

3. Figure out a few staples and then vary them a little, ease in new flavors and textures

4. When in doubt, ask yourself if you would have eaten it as a kid…

One other wrinkle for my family, not only do I prepare vegan meals, they also have to be gluten free… I get jealous of people who can use regular bread in a rice cheese sandwich… Rice cheese, and gluten free bread is a horrendous option. So, I don’t make meals that use processed approximations of something that the indutrial food industry can make way tastier than I can.

Recipe 1:

Cauliflower Taco’s

tacos2If putting cauliflower in this doesn’t make sense for your family use rice, it will look the same and if you use brown rice it will have a ton of fiber.

Take cauliflower florets, I used two heads of medium sized cauliflowers. I filled the Vita-mix half way with raw florets and just shredded them enough to look like rice. This would work in a food processor as well. I put the shredded cauliflower in a pan with a little bit of water, salt, pepper and some crushed garlic to taste. In a second pan, I sauteed onions, black beans and some sliced red and yellow bell peppers, in olive oil and a littlle lime juice.

After the beans are cooked add them to the cauliflower and saute it all together. When everything is blended together, I chopped fresh avocado and cilantro and added it in. It was good in a bowl, with a little jalapeno for me, but for the kids I put it in a taco shell, and they chowed.

taco12-3 cauliflower florets
1 onion
2 cups of black beans
1/2 a lime
2 cloves of garlic
2 bell peppers
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Add jalapeno if that’s your thing