Lemon Garlic Orzo with Fresh Veggies {Gluten-Free}

Gluten-Free Lemon Garlic Orzo with Fresh Veggies -- Epicurean VeganThis amazing dish will be ready in less than 30 minutes but will taste like you spent a good hour on it. I came across Viviana Foods gluten-free & vegan lemon garlic orzo and it looked pretty interesting, so I thought I’d give it shot.
Gluten-Free Lemon Garlic Orzo with Fresh Veggies -- Epicurean VeganThe orzo is ready in about 7 minutes and all I had to do was just had to chop some veggies and herbs and saute some for just a few minutes. The flavor is fantastic; I only seasoned it with a tiny bit of salt and pepper. The only downside is that the orzo costs around $7! Yeah, it was a splurge. I guess I was so drawn to the cute little package.  So it may not be something I’d buy on a regular basis, but it really was tasty!

1 8-oz pkg. Viviana Lemon Garlic Orzo
1 tsp olive oil
2 C mushrooms, sliced
1/2 C green onion, sliced
3/4 C fresh basil, chopped
1 C cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta in boiling water for 6-9 minutes. Test it for doneness. You’ll want to use a fine mesh strainer to drain the orzo, otherwise you’ll pretty much lose most of it down the drain. Rinse with hot water and return to the pan.

Gluten-Free Lemon Garlic Orzo with Fresh Veggies -- Epicurean VeganWhile it’s cooking, however, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the mushrooms and green onion. Saute over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes—just until the mushrooms start to cook down. Fold the mushrooms and green onions into the orzo and season with salt and pepper. Top individual servings with some basil and tomatoes. Enjoy!

Lemon Garlic Orzo with Fresh Veggies {Gluten-Free}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 3
  • 1 8-oz pkg. Viviana Lemon Garlic Orzo
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 C mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ C green onion, sliced
  • ¾ C fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 C cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cook the pasta in boiling water for 6-9 minutes. Test it for doneness. You'll want to use a fine mesh strainer to drain the orzo, otherwise you'll pretty much lose most of it down the drain. Rinse with hot water and return to the pan.
  2. While it's cooking, however, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the mushrooms and green onion. Saute over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes---just until the mushrooms start to cook down.
  3. Fold the mushrooms and green onions into the orzo and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Top individual servings with some basil and tomatoes. Enjoy!



BBQ Cauliflower Salad

BBQ Cauliflower Salad -- Epicurean Vegan

I never used to like cauliflower, mostly because I never really knew a tasty way to prepare it. Then, I discovered it makes great “chicken wings.” So why not “chicken wing” salad? This is salad is no joke. It’s also easier than you might think to make. The cauliflower takes very little time to prepare and the rest is chop-chop.
BBQ Cauliflower Salad -- Epicurean VeganI used OrganicVille BBQ sauce and Follow Your Heart Vegan Ranch Dressing
CondimentsPre-roasted cauliflower . . .

BBQ Cauliflower Salad -- Epicurean Vegan

BBQ Cauliflower Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 head of cauliflower florets
  • 6-7 oz BBQ sauce (I used half of a 13.5 oz bottle)
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 6 C lettuce, chopped
  • 1 C red onion, diced
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 C green onion, sliced
  • Vegan ranch dressing
  • Optional ingredients: cilantro, vegan cheese, corn
  1. To prepare the cauliflower, preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place the cauliflower florets on the baking sheet. I tried to keep the cauliflower pieces around the same size so that they cook evenly. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until they begin to soften.
  3. Pour the BBQ sauce over the cauliflower and stir well to coat. Bake another 10 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the black beans with the garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin and lime juice.
  5. To assemble, start with a bed of lettuce, then add the beans. Top with the rest of the veggies and drizzle on some vegan ranch dressing. Enjoy!


A Spectacular Superfood Salad

A Spectacular Superfood Salad

So what’s a superfood, you might ask? Well, according to the online dictionary, it’s “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” That sounds about right. Chances are, your fridge and pantry are stocked with these very ingredients and a salad is a great way to make the most of them—all in one bite. You won’t find meat and dairy labeled as superfoods. Ever. (Okay, some people consider salmon a superfood, but it’s really the omegas they’re after, which are readily found in plant foods). I made a very light dressing to coat the salad, also packed with immune-boosting deliciousness, so dig in and feel super energized, super healthy, and super happy with this spectacular superfood salad!

The super benefits:

Kale: high in fiber, iron, Vitamin K, C, and A; an anti-inflammatory food, supports cardiovascular health and is full of antioxidants.
Spinach: high in Vitamin A, K, D and E; good source of omega-3 fatty acids, loaded with antioxidants (fights cancer & inflammation), rich in calcium and magnesium, as well as carotenoids for eye health.
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds): high in magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber and anti-inflammatory properties. They’re also high in tryptophan—you know, the “sleep hormone” found in turkey? Sprinkle some pepitas on your next Thanksgiving dish and enjoy the same post-meal nap without the dead bird.
Walnuts: cancer-fighting properties, heart health benefits, extremely high in antioxidants, as well as Vitamin E, folate, melatonin and omega-3 fatty acids.
Red onion: high in quercetin, a bioflavonoid with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Blueberries: said to help with memory decline, reduce heart attack risk, and are full of antioxidants. Also high in Vitamin K, manganese and fiber.
Chia seeds: high in protein, fiber, phosphorus, manganese, calcium and potassium. They also contain healthy antioxidants and are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas): high in fiber, protein, manganese, and iron. They can also stabilize blood sugar and help lower one’s cholesterol.

A Spectacular Superfood Salad
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 8-10
  • 2 heads of kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped small
  • 3 C spinach, chopped small
  • 2 C fresh or dried blueberries
  • 1 C red onion, diced small
  • 1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ C pepitas
  • 1 C walnuts, chopped
  • .
  • Dressing
  • .
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs yellow miso
  • 1 Tbs tahini
  • 1 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • ½ tsp chia seeds
  • ¼ C water
  1. Toss all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Let the dressing sit about 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds to thicken the dressing just a bit.
  3. Add the dressing to the salad and toss to coat thoroughly. Enjoy!


Dreamy, Creamy Pasta Salad

Vegan Dreamy, Creamy Pasta SaladThis is the perfect picnic pasta salad . . . okay, perfect for any time. Summer is around the corner and chances are, you’ve got some get togethers on the horizon (the Fourth of July will be here before you know it), so this is a flavor-packed, crowd-pleasing salad sure to be gone in minutes.


16-oz of pasta
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 C green onion, sliced
2 carrots, shredded

2 cloves of garlic
12.3-oz pkg. Mori-Nu Silken tofu, firm or extra firm
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbs yellow miso
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dill
2 Tbs vegan sour cream


Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Meanwhile, chop up the garlic cloves in the food processor, then add the remaining sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth, 1-2 minutes.
20140526_154005Add the veggies to a large bowl . . .
20140526_153127. . . add the pasta and then fold in the sauce. Combine thoroughly; serve immediately, or chill in the fridge. Enjoy!


Creamy Kale & Mushroom Pasta

Kale PastaKale and mushrooms. Two of my favorite veggies. Together with pasta: a new favorite meal! It’s incredibly easy to make and will be ready in no time.


1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C onion, minced
3 Tbs flour, divided
1 C vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
3/4 C unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp lemon juice
2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced, then cut in half
2 C kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 C green onions, sliced
Optional: 1/3 C Dairy-free sour cream
12-14 ounces pasta of your choice (I used rotini)


Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and garlic over  medium heat; cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions, and cook another 6-8 minutes, or until the onions are softened. Add two tablespoons of the flour and coat the onions well; cook 1 minute. Little by little, add the broth and whisk until the mixture is thickened. While I prepare the sauce, I had the kale and mushrooms in my steamer pot. They only need about 5-7 minutes to steam, so keep an eye on the pot; I find that kale can get bitter-tasting if it gets over-steamed. Once it turns bright green, it’s perfect—remove from heat.

Stir the nutritional yeast into the sauce, along with the salt, pepper, thyme and nutmeg. In a small cup, whisk together the almond milk with the remaining tablespoon of flour. Again, little by little, whisk it into the sauce until it has thickened. Stir in the lemon juice. Combine the cooked pasta with the green onions and the steamed kale and mushrooms.
20140524_194257Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture and combine well. If using, add the sour cream and mix thoroughly. Season with more salt and pepper if you’d like, serve and enjoy!

Empowered Noodle Bowl + A Giveaway of The Oh She Glows Cookbook!

DSC08248I was thrilled to have an opportunity to post a recipe from Angela Liddon’s The Oh She Glows Cookbook AND be able to give a copy away to one lucky reader! I’ve been glued to this cookbook since I received it because not only is it full of beautiful photographs (about every recipe has a pic), but the recipes look downright delicious. Like Liddon, I had some unhealthy eating (or should I say, not eating) habits before I went vegan. I can truly say that a vegan diet saved my life. This is a great cookbook to have in your collection because it is full of tasty, healthy recipes that use only whole, minimally-processed ingredients. If you’ve been a fan of the Oh She Glows website, you’re going to love this cookbook with 75 brand-spankin’ new recipes, plus 25 updated reader favorites. So if you want to win this beautiful cookbook, leave a comment; it’s that easy! You have until midnight (PST) on Sunday, April 6. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, April 7th. 

Empowered Noodle2

You’ll love Liddon’s Empowered Noodle Bowl, two ways: Thai Peanut & Orange-Maple Miso on page 153. I decided to make both dressings and honestly, I can’t tell you which one is my favorite; they’re both delicious. The Thai Peanut is thicker with some garlic kick, whereas the Orange-Maple Miso is a tad thinner and milder. They’re both easy enough to make, so why not do both? This is a fantastic lunch or light dinner, that comes together rather quickly. I like how the veggies take precedence over the noodles—it’s not a heavy pasta dish, but rather, a bowl of fresh veggies with some noodles thrown in and coated with a tasty dressing. A winner for sure.

Serves 4


Thai Peanut Sauce

1 large garlic clove
2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
3 Tbs natural smooth peanut butter
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 Tbs + 1 tsp low-sodium tamari
1-2 tsp granulated sugar

Orange-Maple Miso Dressing

3 Tbs light miso
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs tahini
1/4 C fresh orange juice
1 Tbs water
1 tsp maple syrup


4 oz gluten-free soba noodles
Extra virgin olive oil, for the noodles
16 oz bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1 carrot, julienned
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
Sesame seeds, for serving


To make the Thai Peanut sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Do the same for the Orange-Maple Miso Dressing.

Empowered NoodleCook the noodles according to instructions on the package (5-9 minutes). Drain, rinse under cold water and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with a little of the olive oil, then toss with the veggies and dressing of your choice. Top individual servings with sesame seeds and enjoy! If you like the looks of this recipe, you’re going to want this cookbook, so leave a comment and you just may get it! Good luck!

DSC08246With the Thai Peanut Sauce
DSC08247With the Orange-Maple Miso Dressing

 Reprinted by arrangement with AVERY, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © GLO BAKERY CORPORATION, 2014.

Asian-Inspired Risotto

Asian Inspired Risotto with Bok Choy & Shiitake MushroomsYep, I’m still on my risotto kick. This time, however, I gave it an Asian twist by adding bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, and a touch of sesame oil (among other seasonings). This is a unique and delicious change from the usual risotto dish and would be great paired with some veggie crystal rolls. Yum!


4 C vegetable broth
1 Tbs red miso
1 C water
1-1/2 C Arborio rice
2 heads baby bok choy, chopped
2 C shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3/4 C green onion, sliced thin
1/2 C Sherry cooking wine
2 Tbs Earth Balance
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp Chinese 5-Spice blend
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs tamari ( or soy sauce)


Preheat oven to 350. In a Dutch oven, whisk the 4 cups of broth and 1 tablespoon of miso; stir in the rice. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Fifteen minutes before the rice is done, begin steaming the bok choy. Steam for 10 minutes, then add the mushrooms and green onion.

bokchoyWhen the rice is done (most of the liquid has been absorbed), stir in the one cup of water,sherry and Earth Balance. Stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes—it’ll thicken up. Next, add the nutritional yeast, five-spice blend, sesame oil, and tamari. Stir well for at least a minute. Fold in the bok choy mixture and enjoy!


Easy Baked Risotto

Easy Baked RisottoThis is a lot like the Creamy Wild Mushroom Risotto, but this one requires a lot less work, especially when it comes to stirring! I recently purchased a Dutch oven and decided to try making risotto in it. So much less work! Mine is 5-quarts and this recipe only took up about 1/2 of the Dutch oven, so I would think even a 3-quart one is plenty big enough.
DSC08169Risotto is a very versatile dish, so you can add whatever vegetables to it that you’d like. I stuck with spinach, onion and mushrooms, but feel free to add peas, asparagus, Swiss chard, kale . . . you name it.The great thing about using a Dutch oven, is that if you want to make this a side dish, you’ll have plenty of time to throw together the main entree while this cooks. But served with a salad and bread, this risotto makes an ideal main entree.


5 C vegetable broth
1-1/2 C Arborio rice
1 Tbs olive oil
1 C onion, chopped
16-oz mushrooms (cremini or white), chopped or sliced
2 C spinach, chopped
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C white cooking wine
2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1-1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350. Combine 4 cups of the broth and the rice in the Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. While the rice is baking, prepare your other ingredients. In a bowl, combine the spinach, lemon juice and salt; set aside. Next, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until softened and a little brown. Add the mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more.
20140126_171053I also combined the nutritional yeast, thyme, pepper, and salt in a small bowl to make it easier to add it all at once, when it comes time to add them.
DSC08164Once the rice is done (most of the liquid has been absorbed), add the remaining cup of broth:

20140126_172828Next, stir in the white wine, Earth Balance and seasoning. Stir vigorously for about 3 minutes, or until the risotto is thick and creamy. Stir in the mushrooms mixture, along with the spinach.
Baked risottoSo good! Serve immediately and enjoy!
Easy Baked Risotto

Tempeh-Salad Sandwich

Tempeh Salad

If you want to call this “Egg Salad” or “Tuna Salad,” go right ahead. It certainly has the feel, so to speak. I do put some kelp powder in this salad, so it can have that tuna-ish essence. I made this version somewhat chunky, but I’ve also made it more like a pate. If that’s more your fancy, I suggest using a food processor to mash up the tempeh, then finely cut the onions instead of chopping them. Either way, this is a healthy lunch that will keep in the fridge for a few days. Serve on some toasted bread with lettuce, and if you like, a slice of vegan cheese.


8-oz tempeh, cut into large chunks
1/3 C onion, chopped (I prefer red onion in this, but I was out)
1/3 C vegan mayo
1-1/2 Tbs yellow miso mixed with 1 Tbs water
1/4 C fresh parsley, minced or chopped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried dill
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp kelp powder
1 Tbs water

The rest…optional ingredients

vegan cheese
cucumber slices


Steam the tempeh for 15-20 minutes.


Transfer the tempeh to a bowl (or the food processor) and mash up until your reach the desired consistency.


Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Makes about 2-1/2 cups. Enjoy!

Tempeh Salad Sandwiches

Vegan & Gluten-Free Mini Quiches

Vegan & Gluten-Free mini quichesI’ve been wanting to figure out how to make vegan mini quiches for a while now, but I wasn’t sure where to start. Do I use tofu? Flour? Wave a magic wand? Well, when I came across this recipe, I knew my search was over. I only made one modification and that was to add the veggies to the batter instead of just topping the batter with them. Doing so, will give you about 4 more quiches (16 instead of 12). That works great as long as you have 2 muffin tins. Otherwise, you could add your veggies just to the tops. I was thoroughly impressed with these. They taste like a cross between an actual egg-y quiche and a biscuit. They’re packed with protein and make a great quick breakfast on the go—just zap in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and you’re good to go. (These are especially ideal for a post-workout snack).


2-1/2 C garbanzo/chickpea flour (I also had some garbanzo & flava flour mix that worked great, too)
3 C cold, filtered water
3 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp salt Cooking spray
Veggies/toppings: Use your favorites, but I like to use 1-1/2 to 2 cups of chopped . . . spinach tomato mushrooms green onion cilantro Other options: veggie bacon or ham, bell pepper, sauteed garlic, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, basil, Swiss chard, shredded (and squeezed dry) zucchini, peas, . . . the list is endless.
Note: I used sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil) in a batch and I recommend easing up on the oil in the batter by at least a tablespoon. Also, throw in some chia seeds. Pepitas or sunflower seeds would also be great additions.


DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 500 and lightly spray the muffin tins. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, water, oil, and salt. Be sure to whisk until all the lumps are gone and  you have a smooth batter. You can then pour the batter evenly among 12 muffin cups and just add your veggies to the top, OR (as I would recommend) add the veggies to the batter.


Fill the muffin tins . . . DSC08149Bake for 14 minutes, then crack the oven door slightly, and cook another 11 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes or so, and remove with a knife. Enjoy!