Spinach and Mushroom Tarts

I was inspired by Veggie Test Kitchen’s Mini Pizza Tarts back in November and bought some 4″ tart pans. Well, I finally got around to making some tart pizzas and they were a huge hit! I love that these are so versatile—you can make pizzas, savory or sweet tarts, or even breakfast quiches. I have some leftover dough, so I think I know what I’ll be making for New Year’s Day breakfast. :) The recipe is for about 9-10 tarts, so feel free to halve the recipe, or freeze the leftovers for future, fabulous tarts!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

3 C flour

1-1/2 C Earth Balance margarine

1/2 C ice water

The rest: (optional)

Sliced mushrooms

Potatoes (I nuked 3 small red potatoes, then diced them up)

Pesto

Tomato, diced

Spinach

Almond feta

Vegan mozzarella, shredded

Olives

Artichokes

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. For the dough, place the flour and margarine in a food processor and pulse several times until the dough is crumbly. While the machine is running, pour in the water and combine about 30 seconds until the dough forms. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into about 9 equal pieces and roll out thin. I lightly sprayed the tart pans with cooking spray, then line the inside of the pan with the dough.

Press down along the edges to cut the dough and pull away from the pan.

Stick each crust with a fork a few times, then bake for 8-10 minutes. For mine, I spread on some pesto, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, almond feta. The guys added some potatoes and vegan mozzarella to theirs.

Bake for 22-25 minutes and enjoy!

Boca Enchiladas

When we first went vegan, the thought of having Mexican (or Italian) food again seemed like a pipe dream, but I think that some of my favorite meals have been just those—thanks to yummy meat and dairy alternatives. Lucky for me, too, because the Husband loves enchiladas and if I didn’t come up with a veg-based one, he wouldn’t be fun to live with. ;) I’ve also made a seitan version, and these Boca Crumbles ones are pretty darn delish, too.  I made a pretty big batch so feel free to halve the recipe for a smaller crowd.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil

1-12 oz bag Boca Crumbles

1 medium green bell pepper, diced small

1 small onion, diced small

1-4 oz can diced green chilies (I used mild)

3-10 oz cans enchiladas sauce (I used Old El Paso–mild)

20 LaTortilla Factory Hand Made Style Corn Tortillas (Love these!! They’re a cross between a corn and flour tortilla and come in white and yellow corn—see below)

1 pkg Vegan Gourmet Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded + 1/2 C Daiya cheddar, shredded, mixed together

1 C black olives, sliced

1 bunch green onions, sliced (both green and white parts)

Optional garnishes: Tofutti sour cream, cilantro, diced avocados

DIRECTIONS:

Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375. In a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add the bell pepper and onions; saute until softened. Add the Boca crumbles and cook until heated through; stir in the green chilies.

I think it helps to steam the tortillas first, but only do a couple at a time, as the bottom ones will stick if there are too many on top. In a 15″ pan (I made the mistake of using a smaller pan, so I had to use 2 pans) pour 1-1/2 cans of the enchiladas sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place 2-3 spoonfuls of the Boca mixture into the steamed tortillas; add some cheese on top.

Tightly roll up the tortillas and place, fold down, into the baking dish.

Once each tortilla is rolled, top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Sprinkle the olives and green onions on top.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5 minutes.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro and/or any of the optional ingredients. Enjoy!

Caramelized Onion Dip


Love onions? You’ll love this dip. Caramelizing the onions brings out a rich sweetness in them and are ideal for a dip—served hot or cold. Serve with potato chips, veggies or crackers.

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs yellow onions (about 3 large onions) sliced thin

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tsp sugar

3 Tbs Earth Balance

1 Tbs olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

8-oz Tofutti cream cheese

1/2 C Vegenaise

3/4 C Tofutti sour cream

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Over medium heat, melt the Earth Balance in a large skillet. Add the onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook for about 12 minutes, then stir in the sugar and increase the heat. Cover and continue to cook another 20 minutes, or until the onions are browned and caramel-y.

Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer the onions to a large cutting board and chop them up. You can also use a food processor.

In a small saute pan, heat the oil and garlic until the garlic begins to brown, then remove from the heat. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, Vegenaise, sour cream, nutmeg, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in the onions and thyme. Puree half of the dip, then stir back  into the other half.

Cover and chill or put transfer to a baking dish and warm. Enjoy!

Pesto and Almond Feta Pizza

After the craziness of the holidays, a quick, easy meal is a welcome reprieve. I usually have homemade pesto in the freezer, so it paired perfectly with the almond feta I made a few days ago. I had one flat bread left and a loaf of French bread which made the perfect pizza “dough.” You’ll love the softness of the cheese and the absence of all grease–this is probably my favorite kind of pizza.

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 pizzas)

3 flat breads or 3/4 of a loaf of French bread

1 C basil pesto

1-1/2 to 2 C almond feta

2-3 tomatoes, diced

1 C black olives, sliced

Shredded vegan mozzarella, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400.  On each piece bread, layer 1/3 C of the pesto, then equally divide the rest of the ingredients among the pizzas.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the feta begins to brown. Enjoy!

 

It’s A Cheeze Extravaganza!

Well, first of all, Merry Christmas! I hope everyone has had a wonderful, fabulous holiday full of family, friends and happiness. Even Moe-Dog is having a happiness hangover:

And apparently, he’s a little embarrassed about it:

My mom surprised me with a copy of The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and I have had uncheese on the brain since.  For Christmas Eve, we typically do drinks and appetizers, games and movies, so I made three different cheezes from the recipe book and one from Vegetarian Times. A few of the cheezes will require a couple days’ worth of time—but rest assured—they’re easy and worth it. You will need to blanch almonds, something I had never attempted before, but found it to be quite an easy process.

First up:

Port Wine Uncheese


This is super simple to throw together. The pinto beans give it that dry cheese taste and texture and even if it doesn’t taste exactly like cheese, it still has excellent flavor. I recommend adding some nutritional yeast–maybe a 1/4 C for more of a cheesy flavor if you feel it needs it. Otherwise, it’s fab on its own. The recipe calls for nonalcoholic red wine, but I went with an actual port.

INGREDIENTS:

2 C (1-15 or 16 oz can) pinto beans

1/4 C nonalcoholic red wine or port wine

3 Tbs sesame tahini

1 Tbs light or chickpea miso (I used light miso)

DIRECTIONS:

Throw it all in a food processor then let it chill several hours or overnight. You could then roll it in roasted walnuts or pecans for extra flavor, if desired.

Source: The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

 

Incredible Almond Creme Cheez


This one has a fluffy, lemony flavor that pairs really well with herbed crackers. The taste is very mild, so herbed crackers work great with this one. You will need to blanch the almonds for this, which is very easy: place almonds in a saucepan with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes, then drain and allow to cool. Pinch the skins between your finger and the skins will slide right off. Dry them off well.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 C blanched almonds

1/2 C hot water

1/2 C cold water

2 Tbs  lemon juice

2 Tbs kuzu, arrowroot, or cornstarch (I used cornstarch)

1/2 tsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

Grind the almonds to a fine powder. Transfer to a blender (I did as the recipe said, but I’m sure just using the food processor is fine) and add the hot water; process until thick and creamy. Add the cold water and remaining ingredients; blend until smooth and creamy.  Pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Once it thickens, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly for another minute. Let it cool. Fluff with a fork or whisk and transfer to a storage container.

Chill for a few hours. Before serving, beat again with a fork or whisk.

Source: The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

 

Onion, Dill and Horseradish Cheez

If you like cheese with a kick, you’ll love this one. The horseradish is perfect in this and makes for a great sliced cheese. I’m not crazy about dill, so next time I will go easy on it and not add the full two teaspoons, but aside from that, it’s a great addition to any cheese platter.

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 C water

5 Tbs agar flakes

1/2 C chopped raw cashews

1/4 C nutritional yeast

3 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs tahini

2 Tbs white horseradish (not creamed)

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp salt

1 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp dried onion flakes

2 tsp dried dillweed

DIRECTIONS:

Lightly oil a 3-cup plastic (I used glass) container and set aside. Combine the water and agar flakes in a saucepan and boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently 5-10 minutes, or until flakes are dissolved. Transfer to a blender and add the cashews, nutritional yeast, tahini, horseradish, mustard, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Process until smooth. By hand, add the onion flakes and dillweed. Pour into the prepared container and cool uncovered in the fridge. Once it is completely cooled, cover and chill several hours to overnight. Before serving, slice thin.

Source: The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

 

Almond Cheese: Spreadable and Feta-Style

 

(Spreadable)

(Feta-Style)

Now this is probably my favorite. This one comes from Vegetarian Times and despite the time and effort, I’ll be making it over and over again. I doubled the recipe because it can be made into a spreadable version and a feta-style. The only difference is that the feta-style requires baking—a very simple step.

INGREDIENTS: (undoubled)

1 C blanched almonds

1/4 C lemon juice

3 Tbs olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled (I used minced)

1-1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecloth

DIRECTIONS:

Place almonds in a medium bowl and cover with 3″ of water; soak for 24 hours. Drain and rinse twice with running water.

Puree the almonds, lemon juice, 3 Tbs olive oil, garlic, salt and 1/2 C of cold water in a food processor until smooth.  Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon mixture into cheesecloth.

Bring the corners and sides of the cheesecloth together and twist around the cheese, squeezing out any excess moisture. Secure with a rubber band.

Chill 12 hours or overnight. Discard any excess liquid—I squeezed a little more out. One half I left in the fridge and for the feta-style: Preheat oven to 200. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and unwrap cheese and transfer it from the cheesecloth to the baking sheet. Flatten to a 6″ round with a  3/4″ in thickness on the sheet.

Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool. I then transferred it to a bowl and used a fork to break it up into feta-like chunks. Place in a storage container and refrigerate for several hours.  Add to salads or soups—you’ll love it! Enjoy!

I’m sure Moe will recover from his Christmas overload soon . . .

Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes

Avocado and chocolate? Absolutely! You can’t taste the avocado, but it takes the place of eggs, as well as some of the oil. These cupcakes are so rich, moist, fluffy and decadent. Even the Husband said, “Oh man, these are dangerous.”

INGREDIENTS:

Cupcakes:

1-1/2 C flour

3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 avocado, pitted and peeled

1 C pure maple syrup (I used light pancake syrup)

3/4 C plain soy milk (I used almond milk)

1/3 C canola oil

2 tsp vanilla

Glaze:

1/4 block soft silken tofu (from a 14-oz container), drained and patted dry

3 Tbs pure maple syrup (again, I used light pancake syrup)

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp salt

4 oz semisweet chocolate chips, melted

DIRECTIONS:

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Puree the avocado in a food processor until smooth. Add the maple syrup, almond milk, oil, and vanilla; blend until creamy. Whisk into flour mixture.

Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cups. I wasn’t sure how much to fill them because you never know with muffins, but as long as you evenly divide the batter among the cups, you’ll be fine.

Bake for 25 minutes.

To make the glaze, blend the tofu, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in the food processor. Add the melted chocolate and blend thoroughly.

Transfer to a bowl.

Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the glaze, pulling up straight to form peaks. Enjoy!

Recipe: Vegetarian Times

Swirled Mint Cookies

These cookies were always a classic Christmas treat growing up—they seriously date back to 1987. They’re from an old school Better Homes and Gardens cookie cookbook.

I just had to veganize the recipe by using Earth Balance and egg replacer. They remind me of my childhood and are now a fav with the Sixth Grader.

INGREDIENTS:

2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 C Earth Balance margarine
1 C sugar + plus some for sprinkling
1-1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg replacer + 2 Tbs water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
10 drops red food coloring
10 drops green food coloring

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk together the egg replacer powder and water; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together margarine until softened. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add “egg,” vanilla, and peppermint extract and beat well. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder, then mix it into the butter mixture. Divide the dough into thirds. Stir red food coloring into one third, green in another third, and leave the last third.

Cover each and chill about an hour.

Preheat oven to 375. Divide each dough into fourths. Roll out each fourth into a 1/2″ diameter rope. You’ll need just a tad of flour–mostly just for your hands.

Place each one side by side and twist together. Pour some extra sugar into a bowl and set nearby.

Slice into each rope:

You can carefully roll into balls, or just place the cut pieces 2″ apart on a cookie sheet.

Using a flat-bottomed glass dipped in the sugar, flatten the dough to a 1/4″ thickness.

Bake for 7-8 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 72 cookies. Enjoy!

Swedish Tea Cookies

These treats are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies, but growing up, they were known as Christmas cookies around my house. I suppose since I’m also a fraction Swedish, I’ll go with the Scandinavian title. The recipe is my mom’s and all I had to do to veganize them was to use Earth Balance.

INGREDIENTS:

1 C Earth Balance Margarine

2 C Confectioner’s sugar, divided

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp almond extract

2 C flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 C almonds, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Place the oven rack in the middle—maybe a bit higher, otherwise the bottom of the cookies will get too brown. Preheat oven to 400. Cream together butter, 1 cup of the Confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt and nuts; add to the butter mixture. Combine well until the dough holds together.

Form dough into 1″ balls and place on a baking sheet. Once you get down to the last 1/2 dozen, the dough will be crumbly, but just squeeze it together—works great.

Bake 10 minutes.

Once the cookies are cooled, roll them in the remaining cup of Confectioner’s sugar and enjoy!

Makes 3 dozen

Field Roast-Stuffed Bell Peppers

These are one of my favorite things to make, especially since the the filling can be changed to suit your tastes and what you have lying around the kitchen. I used Field Roast’s Chipotle flavored sausages which has great flavor and seasonings, that there was no need to add any spices. These were creamy, spicy and filling. The recipe is for 4 bell peppers, but I had 3—luckily, the stuffing makes a great breakfast burrito filling.

INGREDIENTS:

4 bell peppers, any variety

1/2 C arborio rice

1 C vegetable broth

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs olive oil

2 Field Roast sausages, chipotle-flavor, crumbled

1 medium onion, diced

1-1/2 C mushrooms, diced

2 small tomatoes, diced

1 C vegan cheddar, shredded

1/4 C Tofutti sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. In a small saucepan, combine the vegetable broth and arborio rice; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Slice the very tops off of the bell peppers and clean out the innards; set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onions and Field Roast and saute until the onions start to soften and brown, then add the mushrooms and tomatoes. In a small bowl, combine the cheese and sour cream and then stir it into the Field Roast mixture.

Spoon the Field Roast mixture into the peppers—firmly pack it in. Place into a 8″ baking dish.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5 minutes and enjoy!

Product Review: Tofurky Vegan Cheese Pizza

For the Sixth Grader, finding a tasty vegan pizza is a must. Pizza parties are a thing of the past for him, so I think it’s important for him to have this treat every now and again.

Tofurky claims that this is the “1st Non-Dairy Cheese That Really Melts”. Well, they use Daiya cheese, just like Amy’s Mac and Cheeze so that is promising!  The 12-oz frozen pizza will cost you $6.79 at Vitamin Cottage Grocers, but $8.99 at Whole Foods (gee . . .big surprise). I certainly don’t think that’s right to pay that much for a frozen pizza. Unfortunately, I think that’s one of the reasons why vegan food gets a bad rap as being more expensive. But I think the more people eat vegan, the cheaper the products will become.  (The Sixth Grader, of course has no problem with the price . . . ;) )

You bake it at 420 for 11-12 minutes (10 was perfect). It was quite good! They don’t skimp on the cheese and like they claim, it melts beautifully. Very impressive.

A third of the pizza contains 240 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, NO CHOLESTEROL, and less sodium than regular cheese pizza.

Overall, this is a great choice for a vegan pizza, if you don’t mind the price tag.

Creamy Veggie Bake (Made possible by Green Buffalo Food Co.)

When one door closes, another one opens. In this case, when one CSA ends, another comes! We had our last week of our CSA this last Monday, and luckily, I met another food delivery company in my area, at an event for our Writers Association. Green Buffalo Food Company delivers organic, locally-grown/raised food right to your door. I was very enticed by the fact that they don’t require a contract–just weekly or bi-weekly delivery and we can tell them what we don’t want in our delivery. I have 3 butternut squashes on my counter, so I can wait on getting more. Oh, and fruit! It includes fruit!

We received our first delivery today and let me tell you . . .I get excited over home-delivered organic vegetables! Christmas came early.

Isn’t it a gorgeous box of produce?! (potatoes are in the bag). Organic is of course wonderful, but it  isn’t always the prettiest—or the very large, so I was very impressed with what we got.  And everything is packed so carefully and sweetly (which is fitting because Ali and Ryan, who own GBF, are incredibly lovely people). (sorry, that’s a lot of adverbs). I was giddy with vegan excitement as I perused through the box, wondering what to make for dinner. I had to refrain from using everything—reminding myself that it needed to last the week. I opted for a vegetable bake that didn’t use up everything and certainly didn’t disappoint.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil

2 tsp garlic

1 large zucchini, sliced, then quartered

2 C mushrooms, quartered

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1-8oz pkg. tempeh, cubed (small)

2 small broccoli heads, florets only

1/2 C almond milk

1 pkg Silken tofu

1/2 C nutritional yeast

1 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 C vegan cheddar (I used a combo of cheddar and mozzarella)

1/2 C bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS:


Preheat oven to 375. In a large skillet heat olive oil and garlic. Add the zucchini, broccoli, bell pepper, onion, and tempeh. Saute on medium heat until they just barely begin to soften. Add mushroom and saute another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the tofu, nutritional yeast, almond milk, garlic salt, and pepper in a food processor. You can also just whisk it in a bowl; stir in the cheese.

Lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish and layer half of the sauce on bottom. Add the vegetable mixture, then top with the rest of the sauce. Stir around to combine everything.

Cover and bake 40 minutes. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and bake another 10 minutes.

Let sit for about 5-8 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Spinach & Mushroom Ravioli

I lost my pasta maker. You’re probably wondering, how on earth do you lose a twenty-five pound kitchen appliance? Well, if I knew that, it wouldn’t be lost, right? ;) Somehow, it didn’t make the one mile move to our new house a year ago—and we didn’t use movers; just us. Apparently, the pasta maker in question ran away with my Chantal soup pot because it’s missing as well. Not sure what kitchen conspiracy happened, but I’m hopeful that someday, both (and whatever else was in the box) turns up. So I don’t recommend making ravioli without a pasta maker, otherwise, the process is a lot harder than it needs to be. The taste however, was well-worth the work. There’s nothing like fresh pasta.

INGREDIENTS:

Pasta Dough:

1/3 C nutritional yeast

2 C flour

1 Tbs olive oil

Dash or two of salt

1/2 to 3/4 C water

The rest:

1-1/2 C sliced mushrooms

1-1/2 C chopped spinach

1 C vegan mozzarella, shredded

1 jar marinara sauce

Yummy, gluten-free sauce

In a food processor with the sharp S blade, pulse the nutritional yeast a few times to make a fine powder. Then switch to the plastic dough/bread blade.

Add the flour and salt and pulse to combine. While the machine is running, add olive oil and water to form an elastic-y dough.

Roll out small pieces of dough at a time into a long rectangle. I used a pizza cutter to slice into squares. Place some spinach, 2-3 mushroom slices and a pinch or two of cheese.

I then folded over one side and pinched the edges.

To seal the edges, I used the pizza cutter to the three sides.

I ended up with 18 pretty ugly raviolis that I placed on floured waxed paper, otherwise, if they sit too long, they will stick to the surface and it would be a terrible mess.

I boiled about 3-4 raviolis at a time, then transferred to an oiled, glass dish. Be sure to turn the ravioli once to cook the tops and bottoms—about 1 minute per side.

Brush the tops with olive oil as well. Ladle sauce over individual servings and top with any remaining vegan mozzarella. Enjoy!

Feast On This!

Wow…Friday already?! That was fast. . .

Staying Vegan (.com)

I’ve recently discovered this Staying Vegan, a blog dedicated to giving you tips and tricks to staying on the vegan path. You can meet (and see) Jason Doucette, owner of Staying Vegan everyday on videos he posts–giving advice and tips on living as a vegan, in a non-vegan world!

He gives practical, thoughtful, and oftentimes, clever answers and advice to everyday vegan dilemmas such as, finding vegan products in a small town, what to say to meat eaters who say they “love animals”, and vegan kitchen essentials, which leads to. . .great recipes and other advice for the vegan chef in you.

Check out Staying Vegan and once you do, I’m sure you won’t hesitate to sign up for his newsletter!

Do you find that it’s had to stay vegan? What are some frustrating  issues that you encounter often from being a vegan?


How to Raise a Vegan Mini-Me


Well, I don’t know if I really have the answers to this, but I think I’ve learned a few things along my vegan journey. My son went vegan shortly after turning 11, so weaning a kid off animal products at that age, could be like starting World War III, but lucky for me, my kid takes after his mother.  :) I was never a big meat eater as a child, and neither is The Sixth Grader. That helps. So here are a few things I’ve learned as a vegan parent:

1. Cook Good Vegan Food. Easy, right? It really is, actually. Today, meat and dairy alternatives are so much better than they ever used to be and make cooking veg a lot easier than you think. However, I would introduce these “alien” foods little by little—don’t want to induce shock. When making things with ground beef, try subbing half the meat with Boca Crumbles, then every time you make junior’s favorite tacos, add more of the plant-based crumbles. Do the same with dairy: Make a mixture of almond milk and cow’s milk in a container for their morning cereal, and slowly convert it completely to almond milk. This may take a couple of weeks. Wean. . .think wean. My suggestion, is not to make it a big deal. Don’t go saying, “Guess what? Mommy’s going to make Tofu Steaks for dinner! Yea!” Won’t work; they’ll hate it before they even try it. Also, don’t try to focus on veganizing their favorite meals because it could backfire. Perfect it first, before surprising them with it.

2. Let the Kiddo be the Cook. Or at least be the sou chef (if knives aren’t involved). Whether it’s once a week, every two weeks, or once a month, let the kid pick out ingredients to make a meal for the fam. The main rule: ingredients have to be plant-based. Take them to the farmers’ market or Whole Foods and let them have a gander—rule number one won’t be a problem. There will be plenty to choose from. I think that when kids know they can be part of something and to also know a little of what to expect, they’re putty in your hands. Being able to create a meal for the family (with your help, of course) give them so much confidence and pride, they’ll probably forget that it’s vegan. Not only that, what a cool activity to do together that gives you chance to instill healthy eating habits!

3. Watch Food, Inc. This one is great for kids 5th grade and up. They “get it.” Watch it with them, then talk about it. Even though it’s not about veganism, it raises poignant questions regarding animal consumption and where it comes from. The Sixth Grader said that this movie really pushed him to go veg. For the reader, try The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Young Reader Edition. I have not read this version, have you? What did you think?

4. Try a Heaping Scoop of Guilt. That’s right. Mom’s are awesome at this. Or maybe what it is, is just tugging at your kids’ heartstrings. Take them to an animal sanctuary/rescue. Yea! Field trip! Kids love this stuff, especially when animals are involved. This is a perfect opportunity to explain why and how these animals came to be at the sanctuary. I’m sure those in charge of the sanctuary are great when talking to kids about their fabulous organization and would gladly help you out.

5. Be the Coolest Lunch Lady Ever. Pack your kid’s lunch and be the envy of all grade-schoolers everywhere and let your kid help! Ask for their suggestions, then of course, compromise (because you’ll have to), but also let them pick something out. Again, like dinner, it has to be plant-based and preferably healthy, but it gives them a little bit of power. And change it up every so often; the same-o, same-o gets boring and thrown in the trash. The Sixth Grader gets a sandwich with Smart Deli meat, a Tofutti cheese slice, tomato and spinach. He picks out his favorite soy yogurt and other snacks, such as peanut butter pretzels and trail mix. Make it a team effort and they’ll look forward to their vegan lunch everyday. Maybe you can make their favorite chili Sunday night and send it with them all week, or vegan mac n’ cheese.

6. Don’t Give Up, But Don’t Be a Nag. They’ll come around. Kids learn from their parents’ actions and will see from  you, that being a vegan works. Cut them slack though, because otherwise, they’ll fight you the whole way. If you include them in the process, they’re more apt to be open to it—they may even teach you a thing or two!


“To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.  I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

This was probably one of the strangest meals I ever made. Not in a bad way, just a strange process. This recipe is from my friend over at Kitchen Challengers and I finally got around to attempting it—I had never made gnocchi before, but have always wanted to, plus, I needed to veganize the recipe, which wasn’t hard.  I suggest making the dough ahead of time and perhaps even having some help once it comes time to boil these squash pillows. The results were fabulous! I love squash, and combined with the seasonings and some vegan mozzarella, the gnocchi was savory and delish!

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 lbs butternut squash (I used one large and one small)

1 Tbs olive oil

1-1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer powder + 2 Tbs water

1-1/4 C flour

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 C Vegan Parmesan

5 Tbs Earth Balance margarine

2 Tbs fresh sage, chopped

1/4 C Vegan Rella

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425. Cut the squash in half, clean out the seeds and place in a baking dish with 1/2 C (I used about a cup) of water. Bake for 45 minutes. Using tongs, I transferred the squash to a cooling rack.

Once they have cooled enough to handle, scrape out the squash into a bowl and mash them. I used a pastry blender.

Mix in the egg replacer, flour, nutmeg, salt, pepper and vegan Parmesan. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. I did this step earlier in the day, so it sat in the fridge for a couple of hours. I think the longer the dough chills, the easier it is to use later.

Boil 6 quarts of salted water. So here comes the fun part. The recipe recommends using a pastry bag and kitchen scissors to create the gnocchi. It gave me a good excuse to head over to Bed Bath & Beyond to pick one up—I had been needing one anyway. I’ve also seen it where the dough can be rolled out by hand and cut into pieces. Either way will work . . .I’m sure. ;)

So squeeze out 1/2″-1″ “dumplings” and cut into the boiling water. You can cook about 20-30 at a time and within 2-3 minutes, little water-logged Cheetos, will rise to the surface—one by one. Using a slotted spoon or mesh strainer, fish them out and transfer to a large bowl of ice water.

After a few batches, I then transferred them to a bowl lined with paper towels. You will probably have to add more ice to the water once or twice until you have made all the gnocchi.

In a large skillet, melt the margarine and add the sage and gnocchi until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with mozzarella. Enjoy!

Mushroom and Kale Stroganoff

I saw this recipe this morning from Healthy Exposures and I knew I had to make it. It calls for some roasted red pepper hummus and I actually had some in the fridge, so it just had to happen. It also has two of my favorite ingredients: mushrooms and kale. I was sold. I doubled the recipe, as originally, it’s for 2 servings. The fennel, I believe, was key. It gave the dish that stroganoff-beef taste, which surprised me, as I’ve only used fennel in chai flavoring. Be sure to check out Healthy Exposures’ yummy vegan recipes, (plus this original recipe),wonderful photography and her beautiful horse, Teddie. :)

INGREDIENTS:

14-oz whole wheat pasta

1 large onion, chopped

2 tsp garlic, minced (I added this)

1 Tbs olive oil

3 C sliced mushrooms

6 large kale leaves, thinly sliced (I tore them up)

1/2 tsp  fennel seed

salt and pepper, to taste

2 C  reserved pasta water

2 Tbs white bean flour (I used garbanzo flour since that was all I had)

4 Tbs roasted red pepper hummus

1 Tbs pub-style Dijon mustard

2 Tbs  nutritional yeast

Cook pasta until al dente. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add the garlic and onions. Saute until the onions begin to brown. Add the mushrooms, kale, fennel, salt, and pepper.

Ok, I went a little nuts with the kale, but I LOVE kale so much, I could not be stopped.

Add 4 Tbs of water and cover until kale cooks down. In a small bowl, whisk together the pasta water, flour, hummus, Dijon, and nutritional yeast. Once the kale mixture has cooked down, add the liquid mixture to it and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it thickens.

I then served this over individual servings of pasta and seasoned with a little salt and pepper. It was phenomenal! We all loved it. Enjoy!

My Cure-All Vegetable-Miso Soup

Well, curing colds is the idea. If anything, this soup is hearty and flavorful. It’s also chocked full of immune-boosting ingredients. The Husband was struck with a cold for two weeks, then after four days of wellness, got hit again. The Sixth Grader is now catching on to this cold business. I’m a firm believer that fresh fruits and vegetables are the best remedy for the cold. Unfortunately, the Husband didn’t load up on them when he was sick . . .hmmm. . . Twice, I did feel it coming on, and both times I ate a big bowl of steamed kale. Cold symptoms gone. I make the kale a regular thing for me now—at least three days a week and even for breakfast. So last night my sniffling, coughing guys were asking for me to make the colds go away, so to the kitchen I went and for a appetizer, I made them split an orange bell pepper, which is loaded with beta carotene, vitamin A and antioxidants.

INGREDIENTS:

4 C low-sodium vegetable broth

3 C water

2 C red potatoes, diced

1 large leek (loaded with Vitamin C, potassium, chromium and selenium)

2 tsp garlic, minced (also loaded with Vitamin C, potassium, chromium and selenium)

1 C carrots, sliced (get your beta carotene, Vitamin A and antioxidants)

2 C button or shiitake mushrooms, quartered (packed full of nutrients–long list–plus some fiber)

1 15oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (high in fiber and protein)

1/2 C yellow miso

Optional: 1 C kale or spinach

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the vegetable broth and water in a large soup pot. Bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes, carrots and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes and then add the garlic and beans. Simmer again for another 8-10 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are soft, but still with a bit of a crunch. Stir in miso and mushrooms and simmer 5 minutes. It’s that easy!! Serve with a little extra love and it’s sure to cure colds! Enjoy!