Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chocolate Nut Brownies

After tasting these Chocolate Nut Brownies, you would never guess what's in them. Carrots? Spinach? Squash? Sweet Potatoes? That's just crazy! But that's what's in these wonderful brownies. You can't taste the veggies AT ALL, but they are all there. They're also made with spelt flour, and only sweetened with fruit.

These are not a super sweet dessert, and I wouldn't expect that they taste exactly like a store bought brownie mix, but they are moist, chocolately and delicious. My kids really liked these; I'll definitely be making them often. They are to die for with Macadamia Cream on top, or even a little nut butter on top. YUM. Adapted from

Chocolate Nut Brownies

This recipe makes two 9 by 13 pans of brownies. You could cut the recipe in half, but I like it this way so I can freeze half. They're nice to have on hand for a quick snack or dessert, especially for kids. 


2 cups spelt flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup steamed baby carrots(or regular carrots)
1 4 oz jar baby food squash
1 4 oz jar baby food sweet potatoes
1 4 oz jar baby food apricots
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup baby spinach
3 cups dates, pitted
3 tablespoons ground chia seeds in 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


1. Mix the ground chia and water in a small bowl, set aside. Lightly spray two 9 by 13 dishes or one large jelly roll pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Mix well. Mix in the walnuts or pecans. Set aside.

3. Add the steamed carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, apricots, pineapple, applesauce, baby spinach, pitted dates and the chia seed mixture to a high powered blender. Blend for a few minutes, until very smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract and the balsamic vinegar.

4. Now add the pureed mixture to the flour ingredients. Mix by hand but do not over mix.

5. Pour the mixture equally into the pans. Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean in the middle. Cool completely before serving for best results. These really do taste much better when they have been refrigerated overnight. Store in the fridge for several days, or freeze some for later.

*To freeze: After the brownies cool completely, cut into squares, wrap each brownie in cling wrap and place in a large freezer bag.

Macadamia Nut Cream

1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup OR 2/3 cup medjool dates, pitted

Blend in high powered blender until smooth. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Mix a tablespoon into your morning oatmeal for a real treat. Or dip strawberries in it. This really is the best healthy whip cream ever.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Savory Tahini Dressing

Have you tried a tahini based salad dressing yet? Tahini makes a great base for dressings and sauces. It gives you a rich texture and flavor without needing any oil at all. If you like your dressings a little on the sweeter side, then try my Maple Tahini Dressing. But if your looking for something a little more savory with a garlic kick, then give this one a try. This is great on salads, but I prefer it drizzled over steamed broccoli. I can't wait to try it with cooked kale, the possibilities for this dressing are endless!

Savory Tahini Dressing


1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup low sodium tamari or soy sauce
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1/8 cup water, depending on the consistency of your tahini


Blend all ingredients except for the water in a blender (or food processor) until smooth. You could also just whisk all the ingredients in a bowl.  Add water until desired consistency is reached. I used 1/8 cup water and my dressing stayed quite thin and was perfect over steamed vegetables.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vegan No Oil Potato Salad

Creamy, classic potato salad. But I've taken out all the "bad for you" ingredients, and replaced them with health promoting ingredients. Instead of eggs and oil (mayonnaise) you get silken tofu and cashews. Tastes better than the SAD (Standard American Diet) version, and it will leave you feeling light and energized, instead of heavy and tired. I took this to a potluck, and it was gone within 15 minutes. No one will know it's vegan, I promise! Dressing for the potato salad adapted a little from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

Vegan No Oil Potato Salad


10 cups cubed peeled yellow potatoes
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste, optional

1 12.3 ounce package silken tofu
1/2 cup raw cashews
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard, dijon or regular


1. Place the potato cubes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Once they are tender, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

2. Next, place the chopped red bell pepper, green onions, celery and red onion to a large bowl. Add the potatoes to the vegetables and mix together.

3. Make the dressing: Put the silken tofu, cashews, lemon juice and mustard in a high powered blender and blend until very smooth. Add salt to taste if desired.

4. Pour the dressing onto the potatoes and vegetables and mix well. Add the fresh parsley, pepper and salt to taste and mix until well combined. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Black Bean Brownies

I've tried some really awful black bean brownies in the past. The first couple of recipes I tried were barely edible! These are the opposite of that. I'm pretty sure I could eat the whole pan if I wasn't slowed down by kids wanting another brownie. These brownies are perfect, you can't tell they're made with black beans. These are the much healthier version of the fudgey, chocolatey brownies you desire, and they happen to be gluten free. Give them a try! My kids have no idea that these are a "healthy" brownie. Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie.

Black Bean Brownies


2 cans black beans, low or no sodium, drained and rinsed well
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup quick cooking oats (gluten free if needed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup organic sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 cup vegan chocolate chips, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 9 by 13 pan with oil. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a really good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. This will take a couple of minutes, make sure there are no whole beans left and it is VERY smooth. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in batches. Add mixture to a large bowl and mix in the chocolate chips, as desired.  Pour into the greased pan and add additional chips on top for presentation if desired. Cook for 20 minutes, then let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Apple Currant Confetti Salad

Confetti salad or micro salad, they both refer to a salad that has been pulsed in a food processor into tiny pieces. I love these sorts of salads for many reasons. One, a salad like this makes it super easy to eat a ton of veggies in one sitting that I wouldn't normally eat, such as raw broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower. Second, these salads are much easier on digestion since everything is chopped so small. Third, they are quicker to eat which is great when I'm in a hurry at work and have to eat fast. I also love that I don't need any salad dressing with this salad, and I can make a ton over the weekend to eat all week long. This will stay really well in the fridge for several days.

You can eat this as is, or for added nutrition use it as a topping for salad greens, and even add some garbanzo beans for a complete meal. Inspired by Oh She Glows and Dr. Furhman.

Apple Currant Confetti Salad


2 heads of broccoli, stems removed
1 small to medium head cauliflower, stems removed
3 large carrots, cut into smaller 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsely
1 apple, cored and cut into 4-5 pieces
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
3/4 cup currants
2 medium lemons, juiced or 4-6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper


In a food processor, chop the broccoli with the S blade until fine, like pieces of confetti. Add to a large bowl.

Process the cauliflower until fine, then the carrots and add both to the large bowl with the broccoli.

Put the apple pieces and the coarsely chopped parsley in the food processor and pulse until they are both in very small pieces. Add this to the bowl.

Stir in the sunflower seeds, currants and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy immediately or store in the fridge for later. You could also put some in individual containers to take to work all week long. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Simple roasted sweet potatoes are this plant based family's favorite side dish (or main dish). Pair these babies with some steamed broccoli, and you've got yourself a great meal. My kids go crazy for sweet potatoes, they can't get enough of these. We especially like them alongside some veggie/bean burgers, baked beans or with the No-fu Love Loaf.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

4-6 medium sweet potatoes
Parchment paper
spray oil, optional
salt, optional


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut parchment paper to fit a large pan for roasting. Peel and chop your sweet potatoes so that the pieces are pretty equal in size. Lay the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the parchment paper/pan. Sometimes I need to use a smaller roasting pan as well, depending on how many sweet potatoes I'm cooking. Spray lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt if desired. Roast for 25 minutes, flip sweet potatoes and roast another 25 minutes. Watch carefully so they don't burn. Remove from oven and serve.

No-Fu Love Loaf

This is another one of our family favorite meals. We usually eat this once a week. The loaf ranks high on my list of frugal meals, especially because it's so delicious. My whole family likes it, there's no chopping involved, and it freezes beautifully. From Let Them Eat Vegan, by Dreena Burton. Make some roasted sweet potatoes and Best Brussel Sprouts to go with it. Healthy comfort food!

No-fu Love Loaf


1/2 cup green lentils
1 cup vegetable stock (I usually just use water)
1/3 cup water
1 dried bay leaf
3/4 cup bulgur or steel cut oats
1 cup water, boiled or warm
1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup rolled or quick oats
3 tablespoons tamari (soy sauce)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons ground chia or flax meal
2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoons dried basil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

3-4 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce


Combine the lentils, vegetable stock, 1/3 cup of water, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium low, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes, until just about tender. Once done, add the bulgur (or steel cut oats) and boiling water, cover, and cook on medium low heat for another 8-9 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375. Lightly oil an oven-proof glass loaf pan. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl.

Once the bulgur is cooked, remove the bay leaf and add all the remaining ingredients (except topping). Stir very well. Transfer the mixture to prepared pan and pack it in. Spread the topping mixture over the top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25-28 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes or so, before cutting to slice and serve. Serves 5-6 people.

*To save on money and time, double the recipe and freeze 1 loaf. See this website on freezing vegan foods for more details: Vegan in the Freezer.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Whole Grain Blender Waffles

These waffles are gluten-free (as long as you use gluten-free rolled oats), full of healthy fats from the flaxseeds and nuts, oil free and dairy free of course. My kids pretty much eat a waffle for breakfast every morning, so I make a ton of these and freeze them. For being so healthy, these actually have a really great flavor and texture. They are crispy on the outside while being pretty light, not dense like some vegan waffles I've made before. This recipe makes about 22-24 waffles, depending on your waffle iron. Feel free to cut the recipe in halves or thirds if you don't want that many. Recipe adapted from Whole Food Mommies.

Whole Grain Blender Waffles


6 cups water
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup millet
3/4 cup flaxseed
3/4 cup almonds or cashews
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar OR 12-16 medjool dates
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Preheat your waffle iron. Blend all ingredients in a high powered blender such as a Vitamix for 1 minute or so until smooth. Your blender will be very full, but it will work. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes if you can to thicken. Pour mixture in to waffle iron and cook according to waffle iron instructions or until steam stops rising and the waffle is golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately with desired toppings.

 * If freezing: Spread waffles out on your counter to cool completely. Once cooled, place stacked waffles in freezer bags and freeze. Then, when you want a waffle, just pull one out of the bag and pop it in the toaster.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kung Pao Vegetables

We have been eating this meal once a week for the last couple of years. That's how good it is. We just don't get sick of it. The vegetables stay a little crunchy and the sauce is simple yet delicious. It's also one of those meals that is super budget friendly and tastes great. My kids don't eat a ton of the vegetables yet (Have I mentioned how picky they are?), but they love the Baked Tofu and brown rice.

In the book, Super Immunity, Dr. Furhman says "Cruciferous vegetables are not only the most powerful anticancer foods in existence; they are also the most micronutrient-dense of all vegetables." Bok choy is a cruciferous vegetable, as well as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and kale. Mushrooms are also a super immunity, anticancer food: "..they prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell or tumor growth, cause programmed cancer cell death, and/or prevent tumors from acquiring a blood supply. These effects have been shown in breast, prostate, and colon cancers.."

So while this recipe is inexpensive and simple, it delivers a nutrient packed punch. Happy health!

Adapted from Fat Free Vegan.

Kung Pao Vegetables

8 oz sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced onion
8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup peanuts (optional)
3 cloves garlic minced
1 package baby bok choy from Trader Joes (about 4), chopped small

3 tablespoons mirin or rice wine

3 tablespoons low sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed in 1/4 cup water
asian chile sauce to taste
cooked brown rice
Baked Tofu, 1 batch


Before starting the vegetables, cook your brown rice according to package instructions. If adding Baked Tofu which I recommend, have that in the oven before you start the stir fry as well.

To make cooking a breeze, first slice your mushrooms and put them in a large pan or wok, no heat yet. Chop your carrots, celery and onion and put them in a medium bowl. Put the drained water chestnuts, garlic and chopped bok choy stalks in a different bowl. Leave the bok choy leaves on the cutting board. Now when you start cooking, everything will be ready to go.
Place the sliced mushrooms in a dry wok or large pan and heat on high. Stir until the mushrooms release their liquid, it will happen after 1-3 minutes, I promise!  Then, add the carrots, celery, and onions and cook until the colors brighten.  Add the water chestnuts, garlic and bok choy stalks and cook until heated through.  Add the bok choy leaves and cook until slightly wilted.
Mix together the mirin/rice wine, tamari/soy sauce and seasoned rice vinegar.  Pour over the vegetables and stir cook until slightly bubbly.  Add the cornstarch dissolved in water to thicken the sauce. Remove from heat.
Serve over brown rice. Add a few peanuts, baked tofu and/or asian chile sauce to taste. Also makes great leftovers the next day for lunch, if there's any left!

Baked Tofu

Simple to prepare, this is my kid's favorite way to eat tofu. I add this to stir fry dishes, or put it in the kid's lunch boxes with some brown rice. It's also great in sandwiches. From

Baked Tofu

1 lb extra firm tofu
about 1/8 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Press tofu for 30 minutes, or squeeze excess water out of tofu. 

Slice tofu into 1/4 inch rectangles. Brush with soy sauce, front and back, and allow to marinate for 10 minutes. Place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, turning once halfway through, until brown and crispy on the outside, but tender on the inside. Remove from oven.

If using in a stir fry or serving to little ones, cut the pieces into cubes before serving.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Zucchini Bars

This summer, the plot in our community garden has been producing more zucchini than I know what to do with. So far I've made my version of Zucchini Bread and Happy Herbivore's Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (which are my kids favorite zucchini recipe). But I wanted to make something with zucchini that was even healthier, free of flour and sweetened with only fruit and dates. This recipe is adapted from Dr. Furhman's website, a great place to find fruit or date sweetened only desserts, plus many other wonderful recipes. These certainly have a much healthier taste than your average zucchini bread that is filled with white flour, sugar and oil, but that's what I like about them. My kids liked these a lot, I think they would be a great lunchbox addition once school starts.

Zucchini Bars


12 pitted medjool dates
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 very ripe medium bananas or 3 small bananas
4 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
4 tablespoons ground flax seed
4 cups oatmeal, divided
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips, or raisins, or carob chips
5 cups shredded zucchini
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 by 13 dish with oil and set aside.

Using a high powered blender, process 2 cups of the oats into oat flour. Place in a large mixing bowl.

Next, add the dates, soy milk, bananas, sunflower seeds and flaxseed to the blender. Blend until very smooth. Add this mixture to the bowl with the oat flour. Add the remaining 2 cups of oats, cinnamon, walnuts, chocolate chips (or raisins), zucchini and vanilla. Mix well (mixture should be moist but very thick, if it seems too runny or wet, add a little extra oats). Spread mixture into the 9 by 13 dish.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown and the center is firm. Mine took 45 minutes. These also firm up a lot as they cool, so don't worry if they seem a little mushy right out of the oven.

Store in the refrigerator for several days. Happy Summer!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pico De Gallo

My favorite version of Pico De Gallo. Recipe inspired from 

Use on Vegan Enchiladas, Best Burrito Bowl, Tacos, Beans and Rice, or with homemade baked corn tortilla chips.

Pico De Gallo

4 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1 small red onion, or half a large one, finely chopped
2 medium sized jalapenos, seeds removed and finely chopped
1/4-1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt to taste, optional

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Non-Dairy Sour Cream

A great stand in for the real thing, this Non-Dairy Sour Cream comes together in seconds. Use anywhere you would use sour cream. **Look for the silken tofu that comes in the vacuum sealed containers, usually on a shelf in your grocery store. Trader Joes now carries their own brand, next to their canned beans at my store.

Tofu Sour Cream

1 package silken tofu, vacuum packed
3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tsp agave or other sweetener
1/4 tsp salt

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Keep refrigerated.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vegan Enchiladas

I was so excited about these enchiladas! I wanted to create a recipe that had greens, beans and the creaminess of cashew cream. These also have a good amount of spiciness to them, so if you've got kids who aren't so fond of that sort of thing, you might want to tone down some of the spices. Since I had some leftover, I drizzled some Creamy Cashew Cilantro Lime Dressing over the top, which added to the degree of "YUM". Serve with a large salad so you don't eat the whole pan at once!

Vegan Enchiladas

 The Sauce
 Adapted from the Happy Herbivore Cookbook

2 Tbs white whole wheat flour, or other flour
1 tsp cocoa powder
2 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper, optional for heat
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
16 oz tomato sauce
salt to taste 

The Enchiladas

6-8 cups kale or spinach
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbs chili powder
1/2 tsp salt, optional
corn tortillas, about 20

Cashew Cream

1 cup cashews
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup water
few dashes freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. Make the sauce. Whisk together the flour, cocoa and spices in a medium saucepan without turning on the heat. Add 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth and stir into a paste. Slowly whisk in the remaining vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and add the tomato sauce. Allow to cook for a few minute until it thickens a little. Remove from heat and set aside. Taste for salt.

2. Make the cashew cream. Add the cup of cashews, lemon juice, water and pepper to a blender. Blend for a few minute until smooth. Set aside.

3. Steam your greens. Add to a large pot with a little water and steam chopped greens until wilted and softened. Squeeze out any water and bring the greens to a cutting board. Chop cooked greens into very small pieces. Add the greens to a large bowl. Add the black beans, chili powder, salt and Cashew Cream to the bowl with the greens. Mix very well.

4. Assemble enchiladas. To fill the enchiladas, it works best to create an assembly line. Have your corn tortillas, 9 by 13 casserole dish, filling, and a pie pan or bowl filled the sauce ready to go. Spread a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of your casserole dish. Drop a tortilla into the sauce, and then flip so it is coated in sauce. Now, place the tortilla in the casserole dish, fill with a few spoonfuls of the filling, and roll up. Continue with the rest of the tortillas, packing them tightly next to each other in the casserole dish. I had enough for a 9 by 13 dish and a smaller casserole dish. Pour about 1 cup or so (depending on how saucy you like it) over the rolled enchiladas. Baked uncovered for 20 minutes. Serve topped with Creamy Cashew Cilantro Lime Dressing, vegan sour cream, nutritional yeast, or cilantro.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Healthiest Cashew Grilled Cheese

What kid doesn't love a grilled cheese sandwich? My kids love a grilled cheese made with daiya or any other store bought non dairy cheese, but I'm trying to get away from buying that stuff anymore. It's expensive and not health promoting. The main ingredient is oil, and often "whey" or "casein" (milk products) are added. So I thought I would give cashew cheese a try, and it worked wonderfully! The nutritional yeast adds a yellow hue and a cheesy flavor. This is a very thick "cheese", and the recipe made enough that I have leftovers for probably 2-3 more sandwiches. I'm also going to try this recipe in place of shredded vegan cheese on pizza. Yum! If you haven't tried Cashew Cheese, you should! It's delicious and way better than store bought non-dairy cheese.

Healthiest Cashew Grilled Cheese


1 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for a few hours if you have time
1/2 cup water
3 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt, optional

Whole wheat bread
Spray oil or non dairy butter spread, optional


Add all ingredients to a blender (I used my Vitamix, but I think this would work with a regular blender, just make sure you soak your cashews at least a few hours first). Blend for a few minutes until a very smooth consistency is reached. Because this "cheese" is so thick, it took me a few minutes to make sure their weren't any whole cashews left.

Next, if using non dairy butter spread, spread a little on each slice of bread. Alternatively, just use a tiny bit of oil spray directly on the pan, or don't use any at all.

Spread some cashew cheese on one piece of the bread, and then put the other slice on top. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes on each side. Serve immediately, with or without ketchup.

*Variation: Add tomatoes before cooking for a tomato grilled cheese sandwich.