Sunday, November 30, 2008

Red Pepper-Walnut Dip

Here's another easy, make-ahead dip. Serve with pita wedges!

In a food processor or blender, simply combine 3/4 cup walnuts (toast them first in a skillet for a couple of minutes over medium heat), 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy), 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper and a 12-ounce can of bottled roasted red bell peppers (drained).

Process until smooth, and transfer to a bowl. 2 and a half tablespoons is 80 calories.

plain yogurt $0.99
bottled red bell peppers $5.99

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Brunch Tonic

Serve this with Saturday brunch for the end of a holiday weekend. Make the sugar syrup the night before so it's ready to go first thing when you wake up.

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 a cup raw sugar with 1/2 a cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Add 2 sprigs of rosemary and simmer another 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate over night.

In the morning, discard the rosemary. Combine the sugar syrup with 2 cups cranberry juice, one cup fresh-squeezed orange juice and a cup and a half club soda in a large pitcher. Pour 3/4 cup into each of 6 glasses. Each serving is 140 calories.

Double if you have a larger crowd!

cranberry juice $1.69
oranges $1.43
club soda $1.59

Friday, November 28, 2008

Green Tea Granita

This is a nice light dessert for the night after a Thanksgiving feast. Make it in the morning ahead of time because it has to freeze for 8 hours.

Bring 3 cups water to a boil and pour over 4 green tea bags and one (two-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 4 slices. Let steep 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 a cup agave nectar and 3 tablespoons lemon juice.

Pour through a sieve over a bowl, and discard the solids. Let the liquid cool completely.

Transfer to an 8x8 inch baking dish; cover and freeze 8 hours or until firm. Once frozen, scrape the surface with a fork to "fluff" it. 1/2 a cup is 90 calories. You'll have about 6 servings. Serve with lemon wedges if you like!

green tea $4.69
agave nectar $3.99

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Spiced Date-Walnut Snacks

Okay, I lied and I'm using dates again. But bring these along to Thanksgiving if you don't want to go to the whole hassle of making a vegan pie (I didn't have time this year!) They're quick and easy and delicious out on a dessert buffet.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons orange juice with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. ginger, stirring with a whisk. Add 3/4 cup walnuts and toss to combine. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.

In another bowl, combine 2 cups chopped, pitted dates with a teaspoon of grated orange rind.

Line a 9x5 loaf pan with plastic wrap, letting about 2 inches of wrap extend over the edge of the pan. Press one-third of the date mixture into the bottom of the pan (the dates will smoosh together to form a complete, thin layer). Top with 1/2 of the walnuts. Repeat with another third of the dates, the rest of the walnuts, and then the final third of the dates, pressing each layer into each other. Cover with the rest of the plastic wrap, and place a weight on top (such as a can of soup or can of beans). Let stand overnight.

On Thanksgiving morning, invert the loaf onto a serving plate. Cut into 20 little pieces. Each piece is 90 calories.

dates $5.39
orange $1.43

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spiced Cranberry and Zinfandel Sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce is so much better than the jellied kind bought in a can, which also is laden with corn syrup - yuck. Make this version at home instead to bring along to a Thanksgiving feast.

I leave it to other websites to give you recipes for vegan meat loafs or tofurkey's - however, this cranberry sauce is delicious over store-bought vegan Thanksgiving options. Check out the holiday line from Tofurky:
Another delicious alternative is the Celebration Roast from Field Roast Grain Meat company:
Either way, serve with this cranberry sauce on the side, and bring it along to Thanksgiving to share with everyone.

In a saucepan, combine one cup zinfandel (or other fruity red wine of your choice), 6 tablespoons raw sugar, 5 (1-inch) strips of orange rind, 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice, 3 cloves, 2 slices of peeled ginger, and one cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for fifteen minutes.

(Note: for the zinfandel, try the Lioco from Mendocino County - it is unfiltered, ergo, vegan and it's delicious! As to the ginger, the recipe didn't specify how big the slices should be. I made mine about as big as the slices of orange rind, in length and width).

Pour the mixture through a sieve over a bowl. Discard the solids, and return the liquid to the pan. Add one and a half cups fresh cranberries. Cook for ten minutes over high heat until you hear the cranberries "pop". Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thick - the recipe said 30 minutes, but for some reason mine was quite thick after only 10, so keep an eye on it!

1/4 cup is 120 calories. Double this recipe easily if you have a big holiday crowd.

zinfandel $21.66
orange $1.43
ginger $1.28

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Black Bean Spread with Lime and Cilantro

This make-ahead appetizer is great for the holidays, including setting out as a nosh before the Thanksgiving meal. Over the next couple days I'll give you a few more vegan Thanksgiving ideas as well...

Place three peeled garlic cloves in a food processor or blender and process until chopped. Add 1/2 a cup chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice, a tablespoon and a half olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, one drained 15-ounce can of black beans and one undrained 15-ounce can of black beans (this helps thin out the spread). Process until smooth.

Serve this either with store-bought organic tortilla chips or make your own at home by baking corn tortillas in the oven. If you have any leftover spread, serve it on quesadillas or burritos.

1/4 cup is 70 calories, and this recipe makes about two and a half cups total. Cilantro sprigs make a pretty garnish.

cilantro $1.99
limes $2.36
canned black beans $3.58

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pasta with Beet Greens and Raisins

If you made my Pennette with Asparagus and Pine Nuts recipe from the other night, you probably have leftover pasta up in the cupboard - here's an equally easy recipe that also serves two. As with the last, try to find pennette (which is just mini penne), but if you can't, regular sized penne works fine.

Cook 4-ounces of the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, place 2 tablespoons raisins in a bowl. Cover with hot water and let stand for ten minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat 2 and 1/4 tsps. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-heat. Add one cup coarsley chopped beet greens and 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic. Cook for three minutes. Stir in the pasta, the raisins, 3 tablespoons slivered almonds, 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper.

One cup is 350 calories.

Note: when buying beet greens, you'll probably have to purchase them attached to the beets themselves! Trim off the greens, rinse well, and chop for this recipe. Use the beets separately anyway you like - try roasting them and serving with a salad alongside this pasta.

beet greens (and beets!) $2.49
slivered almonds $4.99

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Orange Crisp with Coconut Topping

Before anything else tonight, a shout-out to my friend Jon, who reads my blog even though he's not vegan! John, you're the best and go easy on the sriracha shots :)

Anyway, this warm dessert is perfect for a cold night. Peel and section 3 large navel oranges, squeezing the juice from each section over a large bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the juice and discard the rest. Combine the orange juice with 2 and 1/4 teaspoons uncooked tapioca and one and a half teaspoons Grand Marnier liqueur. Add the orange sections, stirring gently, and let stand for 20 minutes (stir occasionally).

Meanwhile, make the topping: spoon 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife. Transfer to a bowl and add 1/3 cup raw sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cut in 2 tablespoons of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs - the recipe suggests using a pastry blender, but if you don't have one, I find that the back of a fork works quite well. Add 1/3 cup coconut and stir to combine.

Transfer the orange mixture to either an 8x8 inch baking dish or a one-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray (I used the former). Sprinkle with the topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes until the crisp is golden and bubbly. Divide into 4 servings of 240 calories and yum!

navel oranges $4.06
tapioca $2.69
all-purpose flour $4.69

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pistachio Granola

This granola is delicious for breakfast in the morning with either soy milk or vanilla soy yogurt - or just eat it by the handful as a snack!

In a medium skillet, combine 1/3 cup organic brown sugar and 2 tablespoons apple cider over medium-high heat. Cook for about 2 minutes until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently.

Add one cup regular oats, 1/3 cup chopped pistachios, 1/3 cup dried cherries, 1/3 cup cereal nuggets (the kind you're probably most familiar with are Grape Nuts, but I prefer the organic version by Kashi called 7 Whole Grain Nuggets), 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and 1/8 tsp. salt.

Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Let cool completely. You can store this in the fridge for up to a week in an airtight container. 1/2 a cup is 240 calories.

Cost: (note: the cost is so high because I bought a lot of the items in bulk - almost every ingredient makes for a great snack to have on hand).
apple cider $4.99
pistachios $7.99
cereal nuggets $6.78
dried cherries $6.99
sunflower seeds $1.50

Friday, November 21, 2008

Individual 'Goat Cheese' and Date Tortas

This is the last time I'll use dates this month, I promise! These open-faced mini sandwiches make a pretty appetizer, or part of a light lunch alongside an entree salad. Although they're best served right after you make them, you can make each separate part ahead of time until you're ready to compile them.

Cut 6 ounces French bread into 12 (1/4-inch thick) slices. Broil in the oven for two minutes on each side, until toasted. Set aside.

The original recipe called for 3-ounces of crumbled goat cheese here. Crumbling the vegan feta from Sunergia works great and tastes great! In a small bowl, combine this 'goat cheese' with 1/4 cup chopped, pitted dates. Set aside.

In another small bowl, combine a teaspoon and a half balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. raw sugar, 1/8 tsp. paprika, and one small minced garlic clove. Add 1/2 a cup arugula (or baby spinach if you prefer) and toss to combine. Set aside.

When it's time to serve, divide the arugula mixture evenly over each of the 12 bread slices. Top each with a rounded tablespoon of the date mixture. Cut 6 pecan halves in half again, and place one on each bread slice. Finally, sprinkle one and a half tablespoons diced red bell pepper evenly over all the tortas.

(Note: when the recipe called for 'pecan halves' this threw me off a bit, since I always assumed that what was sold in supermarkets was a whole pecan. But a 'pecan half' is just what you probably commonly refer to as a pecan. See image here if that description confused you further!

2 tortas are 170 calories.

vegan feta $3.69
arugula $4.99
French bread baguette $1.29
pecans $5.99

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pennette with Asparagus and Pine Nuts

This pasta dish is a quick weeknight dinner for two. Pennette is simply miniature penne - if you can't find it, (as I couldn't), just substitute regular penne. I used the whole wheat variety from Gia Russa.

Cook 4 ounces of pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.

While the pasta cooks, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of bottled minced garlic and a dash of crushed red pepper; cook for two minutes, stirring constantly.

Add one and a half cups asparagus (cut into one-inch slices - about 1/2 a pound), 1/4 cup vegetable broth, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Cook for five minutes until the asparagus is tender.

Stir in 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomato halves (buy the kind packed in oil), and 1/4 tsp. salt; cook for another minute.

Add the asparagus mixture to the pasta. Stir in 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese (try the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods instead of the Asiago in the original recipe), and 1 tablespoon pine nuts.

One and a half cups is 370 calories. You'll have two servings.

penne pasta $3.49
asparagus $3.87
vegetable broth $2.69
sun-dried tomatoes $3.99
vegan mozzarella $2.50

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Onion, Date, and 'Brie' Crostini

Now I'm getting creative with leftover dates - these crostini (which simply means "little toasts", in Italian) are delicious, using vegan cream cheese in place of the Brie to mimic the cheese's smooth, creamy texture.

Place 12 (1/2-inch thick) slices of French bread baguette on a baking sheet and broil for two minutes on each side until toasted (that's about 6-ounces of bread total). Set aside.

Melt a 1/2 tsp. vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add one and a half cups thinly sliced onion, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and one small minced garlic clove; cook for ten minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and saute for 4 minutes until the onion is starting to brown. Add 1 teaspoon raw sugar and saute 2 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (Annie's Naturals makes a vegan version without the anchovies!).

Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons chopped dates and 2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti), stirring until combined.

Place about2 teaspoons of the onion mixture on top of each bread slice. Return to the oven at 300 degrees fof 4 minutes. Each crostini is 70 calories.

French bread $1.29
onion $1.04
rosemary $2.99
vegan cream cheese $2.99

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Date-Orange Breakfast Spread

First, a word on dates, since I have a bunch at home to use in the next few days, and they also already featured in my recipe for Spiced Orzo Pilaf the other night. They've been a staple food for 5,000 years and grow on trees as tall as 100 feet, which can produce up to 100 pounds of fruit each year - wow!

Now with that bit of history, this spread is delicious in the mornings served on toasted English muffins, waffles, toast, or even with apple wedges.

Simply combine 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates, a teaspoon and a half of grated orange rind, one tablespoon orange juice, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, a dash of salt, and 2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) softened vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti). Stir together, and chill at least 30 minutes before serving. It will store in the fridge covered for up to 2 weeks.

One tablespoon is 30 calories.

orange $1.27

On an unrelated note, I have a moral question for vegans out there - what is an animal-loving, animal-rights activist vegan to do about a mouse infestation in an apartment? Discuss.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Creamy Mushroom Spread

Serve this easy spread on crackers or baguette slices, warm or chilled - it's delicious either way.

Place an 8-ounce package of pre-sliced mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 2 tablespoons chopped shallot, 3/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, and one minced garlic clove. Cook for about ten minutes until the liquid evaporates (it took me 8 minutes).

Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup vegan sour cream (such as Tofutti). This version of the recipe makes 5 servings of 2 tablespoons (50 calories), but you can easily double it.

mushrooms $2.49
shallot $0.64

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spiced Orzo Pilaf

This dish makes a filling dinner for two, and features flavors of the Middle East in the spices and the dates.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add 1/4 tsp. ground cumin, 1/4 tsp. ground paprika, and 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon. Cook for one minute until fragrant. Increase the heat to medium-high and add one and half cups vegetable broth, one cup uncooked orzo, 1/2 cup orange juice (make your own fresh-squeezed or use an all-natural oj like Simply Orange), and 2 minced garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes (the liquid will be nearly absorbed).

Add 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates, 1/4 cup chopped green onion, 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Cook for two minutes, uncovered, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand five minutes until the liquid is completely absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

Stir in 1/4 cup chopped carrot, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

One and a half cups is 560 calories. Voila! dinner for two.

orange juice $1.99
dates $5.39
green onion $0.99
lemon $0.63
carrot $0.20

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The secret to my tapenade is using a sun-dried tomato packed in oil instead of two anchovy filets packed in oil. Serve this as a spread with baguette slices. Leftovers are great as a sandwich spread or stirred into pasta.

Place two peeled garlic cloves in a food processor, and process until finely chopped. Add 2 cups pitted kalamata olives, 1/4 cup capers, and one sun-dried tomato, and pulse until finely chopped. (Buy sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil to mimic anchovies packed that way, but pat some of the excess off with a paper towel).

Add 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley and pulse until combined.

It's as simple as that! 2 tablespoons is 60 calories. You'll have about 1 1/4 cups.

kalamata olives $4.99
sun-dried tomatoes $3.99

Friday, November 14, 2008

Spinach-'Parmesan' Dip

This is a great party appetizer, and can be made in advance. Serve with crudites (celery and carrot sticks are especially good) or with wheat crackers.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 chopped garlic cloves and saute for one minute. Add 1/4 tsp. salt and one (10-ounce) package of fresh spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts (the recipe said 3 minutes; it took my spinach 5).

Transfer to a blender or food processor. Add 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, 1/3 cup vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese), and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Process until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/3 cup plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy) and 1/4 cup grated vegan cheese in place of the Parmesan in the title. (I shredded the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods).

Chill until ready to serve. You'll have about 2 cups, and 1/4 cup has 70 calories.

My goof while making this recipe was to mistakenly only put half as much 'cream cheese' as necessary in the blender. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why my mixture wasn't processing very smoothly. I didn't realize the mistake until I had already added the yogurt and 'parmesan', but luckily it worked just to stir in the remaining 'cream cheese' at the end - whoops!

garlic $0.39
spinach $2.49
basil $2.99
plain soy yogurt $0.99
'parmesan' $2.50

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Glazed Carrots and Cipollini Onions with Coriander and Orange

This side dish would complement a variety of vegan main courses - try it with the Fruited Couscous Pilaf from a few nights ago, or with the pasta dish of your choice.

Cipollini onions can be a bit of a bother to peel. For an easy method, trim the ends off the onions, plunge into boiling water for one minute, then drain and rinse with ice water. The peels will slip right off.

Melt a teaspoon and a half of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 pound peeled cippollini onions (see above for peeling directions) and saute for 3 minutes. (I also cut my cipollini onions into quarters, since I bought big ones; you can skip that step if you purchase smaller ones).

Add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 tsp. grated orange rind, 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice, 1 tablespoon organic brown sugar, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, 1/2 tsp. crushed coriander seeds (a fun excuse to use a mortar and pestle!) and 3/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick diagonal slices.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has nearly all evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in one tablespoon chopped cilantro, 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper.

2/3 a cup is 100 calories.

cipollini onions $0.88
orange $1.47
carrots $0.74
cilantro $1.99

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Roasted Tomato-Harissa Soup with Olive Toasts

Preparation of this soup takes a bit of time, but it is incredibly satisfying on a cold night. Harissa is a hot sauce made from chili peppers, spices, and garlic - you can buy it in the international food section of grocery stores, and nothing in it is un-vegan.

First, cut 1 pound of plum tomatoes (about 4 large) in half lengthwise. Arrange on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, along with one, unpeeled garlic clove and one medium sweet onion (such as Walla Walla), cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees - the original recipe said for 70 minutes, but mine were pretty done after about 50, so make sure not to overcook. Let cool before chopping the tomatoes and the onion, and squeezing out the garlic pulp. Set 3 tablespoons of chopped onion aside for use on the olive toasts later.

Heat 3/4 tsp. olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining chopped onion, one quarter of a red bell pepper (the recipe did not specify to chop it, but one would assume so, right? So I did); 1/4 tsp. cumin and 1/4 tsp. coriander. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 tsp. harissa and a dash of paprika; cook one more minute.

Now add the chopped tomato, the garlic pulp, one and 1/4 cups vegetable broth, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

While the soup simmers, make the olive toasts: cut one ounce of French baguette into 4 (1/4-inch) thick slices. Toast the baguette (if you use the oven, broil for one minute on each side). Cut a garlic clove in half and rub one of the halves over one side of each baguette slice.

In a small bowl, combine the reserved 3 tablespoons of chopped onion with 2 tablespoons chopped, pitted kalamata olives, 3/4 tsp. chopped parsley, just a splash of balsamic vinegar and a dash of fresh thyme. Place one tablespoon of the mixture on top of each baguette slice.

Once your soup is done simmering, remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 tsp. lemon juice, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper.

Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Ladle 1/2 a cup of soup into each of 4 bowls. Top each with 1 teaspoon of plain soy yogurt (I like Whole Soy best).

1/2 cup of soup plus one olive toast is 110 calories.

plum tomatoes $2.45
sweet onion $0.45
red bell pepper $1.32
harissa $3.39
vegetable broth $2.69
thyme $2.99
French bread $1.29
kalamata olives $4.99
plain soy yogurt $0.99

On a non-food note (or, non-recipe note anyway), I finally tapped into a few great vegan/vegetarian organizations through - I can't believe it took me so long! If you're vegan or vegetarian and want to meet like-minded animal-loving cool peeps, go to and put 'vegan/vegetarian' in the search field to find local groups near you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fruited Couscous Pilaf

Dried fruits sometimes get a bad reputation because they are dense in calories, but they're really quite good for you - high in fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients. It's just a matter of using them judiciously. This couscous dish is beautifully colorful, and versatile. Leftovers keep well and make an easily portable lunch the next day.

In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup dried currants, 1/4 cup chopped, dried apricots, 1/4 cup chopped, dried cherries, 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice and two tablespoons of warm water. Let stand for 45 minutes, stirring a couple of times throughout. Drain, discarding the orange juice mixture, and set the dried fruit aside.

Bring 1/4 cup water and one (14-ounce) can of vegetable broth to a boil in a saucepan. Gradually stir in the dried fruit mixture, and 1 and 1/4 cups of uncooked couscous. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 8 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a bowl.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped green onions and cook for two minutes.

Add the green onions to the couscous, along with 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, one tablespoon chopped mint, one tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a dash of black pepper; stir well to combine. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of pine nuts.

One cup is a side serving of 220 calories - double that for a dinner-sized entree. You could also stir chunks of vegan cheese into this to make it a heartier lunch.

dried cherries $6.99
vegetable broth $1.29
green onions $0.99
mint $1.99

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with 'Bacon' and Hazelnuts

This recipe features two more foods now in season - Brussels sprouts and hazelnuts. Try this side dish any night during the fall, but keep it in mind for Thanksgiving too - meat-eaters shouldn't get to have all the fun on that day.

Coat a Dutch oven with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup chopped vegan bacon (such as Smart Bacon - about 3 slices). Cook for 4 minutes until the 'bacon' is crisp; remove from pan and set aside.

Add 1/4 cup vegetable broth to the pan, and let it come to a simmer (which will happen quickly). Add 6 and 1/2 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts and cook 4 minutes until crisp-tender.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Sprinkle with the 'bacon' and one and a half tablespoons of chopped hazelnuts. This makes enough side servings for a small crowd - 6 servings of 2/3 cup. Double the recipe if you do decide to bring it to a Thanksgiving feast!

'bacon' $3.39
Brussels sprouts $7.92
hazelnuts $6.99

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Whole Wheat Apricot Muffins

Make these on the weekend, then freeze for a week's worth of breakfast. Once the muffins cool completely, just wrap them individually (two layers works best i.e. first saran wrap then aluminum foil) and place in the freezer. They'll thaw quickly if you pull one from the freezer first thing when you wake up. Or, since they're even better warm, just wrap in aluminum foil and heat for ten minutes at 350 degrees.

Of course, first you have to make them!

Spoon one cup all-purpose flour and 2/3 cup whole wheat flour into measuring cups, leveling with a knife. Place the flours in a large bowl, along with 1/2 cup raw sugar, one and 1/4 tsps. grated orange rind, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Stir gently with a whisk, and make a "well" in the center of the ingredients. Set aside.

Make one cup of vegan buttermilk by combining one cup plain soy milk (such as Silk) with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Let stand 5 minutes then, combine the 'buttermilk' with 1/4 cup melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, and the equivalent of one egg (try Ener-G egg replacer).

Add the 'buttermilk' mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until just combined. Gently stir in one cup of finely chopped dried apricots.

Spoon the batter evenly into 12 muffins cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes (the muffins should spring back when touched lightly in the center).

Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. One muffin is 170 calories.

(Note: I only had 2/3 a cup of all-purpose flour left at home, so I reversed the portions in the above directions - one cup whole wheat, 2/3 cup all-purpose. This substitution worked just fine).

orange $1.39
plain soy milk $1.00
dried apricots $3.99

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cumin Curried Hummus

Try this variation on hummus next time you want a good party appetizer.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add two small chopped garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add a teaspoon and a half of curry powder and 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds and cook another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Transfer the curry mixture to a food processor. Add 1/4 cup water, a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and one (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed. Process it all until smooth.

This recipe makes about one and a half cups, but you can easily double it if you're feeding a bigger crowd! 1/4 cup of hummus is 90 calories - serve with pita wedges.

chickpeas $1.79

Friday, November 7, 2008

Spinach with Chickpeas and Spices

This side dish hails from Andalusia, Spain, where it is called espinacas con garbanzos. Serve portions of it alongside the entree of your choice, or on toast, tapas-style - with a glass of sherry of course.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add 3/4 cup chopped onion, and cook for 2 minutes. Add a dash of crushed red pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves; cook another minute. Add 1/4 tsp. cumin and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Now add 3/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs (use regular breadcrumbs or the slightly larger Japanese panko), one tablespoon dry sherry (as always, unfiltered if you want to be sure it is vegan), one (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained, and 1/8 tsp. crushed saffron threads. Cook for two minutes until the mixture thickens slightly, stirring often.

Add half of a 10-ounce package of fresh spinach. Cook for two minutes until the spinach wilts. Repeat with the remaining half of the package.

Remove from heat and stir in a teaspoon and a half of parsley, teaspoon and a half of lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. 2/3 of a cup is 150 calories.

onion $0.37
sherry $17.99
chickpeas $1.79
fresh spinach $2.49
parsley $1.99

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Creamy Squash and Apple Soup

I'm making soup again tonight because I have the first cold of the winter season :( Consider this chicken soup for the vegan soul.

Combine 23-ounces of vegetable broth, 3/4 pound of (one-inch) cubed and peeled butternut squash, and one small sweet potato (peeled and cubed) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

While the vegetables simmer, melt 1/2 tsp. vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) over medium-low heat in a small skillet. Add one cup vertically sliced onion and 3/4 cup of peeled and sliced granny smith apple (about one small). Saute for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.

When the squash mixture is done simmering, remove the potato and squash with a slotted spoon, reserving the broth. Mash in a separate bowl (the recipe said 'to desired consistency'; I broke up all the chunks, but didn't make mine quite as smooth as, say, mashed potatoes). Set aside.

When the onion mixture is done cooking, remove from pan and set aside.

Return the small skillet to the burner, this time on medium-high. Melt an additional teaspoon and a half of vegan butter. Add a teaspoon and a half of all-purpose flour, stirring constantly with a whisk for about a minute. Add 1/2 a cup of the reserved broth. Cook another two minutes, until it thickens.

Add the thickened broth back to the remaining broth, along with the squash mixture, the onion/apple mixture, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a dash of black pepper. Return to a burner over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes until thoroughly heated.

One cup of soup is 120 calories. Try serving a bowl of this with an autumnal salad on the side - think pumpkin seeds, additional apple or pear wedges, arugula, dried cranberries...

vegetable broth $2.69
butternut squash $2.60
sweet potato $0.80
onion $1.00
granny smith apple $0.78

On an unrelated note, I had leftover oat bran in my pantry from making Maple Raisin Bran Muffins a couple weeks back - I've discovered that it makes a really satisfying breakfast. Not only that, but a single portion of oat bran (1/3 cup) has seven grams of protein. Double that portion and you have 14 grams of protein to start your day. Wowza. Add a few tablespoons of raisins or some cinnamon on top and it's delicious.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Portobello Mushrooms with Mediterranean Stuffing

Every time I cook with portobello mushrooms, I ask myself why I don't do so every night - they might just be my favorite food! On top of which, their meatiness makes for a satisfying vegan meal in whatever form. This could be an appetizer, or a main dish if you double the portions.

Remove the stems from 4 (4-inch) portobello caps. Chop the stems to equal 1/4 cup (discard any extra if you have it), and place in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup finely chopped celery, 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot, 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper, 1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning (available with other spices), and 2 minced garlic cloves.

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the vegetable mixture and cook for ten minutes until tender.

Combine the vegetable mixture with about 3 cups of 1/4-inch cubed French bread in a large bowl. Slowly add 1/2 cup vegetable broth, tossing to coat. Add 1/2 cup crumbled vegan feta (try the one from Sunergia); toss gently and set aside.

Scrape the gills from the mushroom caps using a spoon. Place the mushrooms, stem-side up, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush evenly with one tablespoon balsamic vinegar.

The original recipe said to sprinkle each mushroom cup with 1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan. I bought the Vegan Parmesan topping from Galaxy Foods for this purpose, but since the flavor tends to be stronger than real Parmesan, I only used 1/2 teaspoon per mushroom. Also sprinkle each with a dash of black pepper. Scoop 1/2 a cup of the bread mixture into each mushroom.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.

Toss 4 cups of mixed salad greens with an additional 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette. For main dish servings, place 2 cups of salad on each of 2 plates, and top each with 2 stuffed mushrooms (380 calories). For appetizers, cut that in half for 4 servings of 190 calories.

portobello mushrooms $3.49
celery $2.50
carrot $0.27
red bell pepper $1.88
green bell pepper $0.74
Italian seasoning $2.39
French bread $1.29
'feta' $4.19
balsamic vinegar $4.79
vegan Parmesan topping $3.29
mixed greens $4.99

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Seco de Quinoa

I'm pretty sure this title just translates as "Dry Quinoa." I've mentioned before that quinoa has high levels of protein compared to other grains, and it is also a "complete" protein since it has all 8 essential amino acids, which is key for vegetarians and vegans. This dish is a basic building block to prepare uncooked quinoa. From here, build entrees or side dishes by adding dried fruits, chopped vegetables, vegan cheese etc.

Place 6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) of uncooked quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse with cold water; drain.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add one large, minced garlic clove; saute 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped onion and saute another 4 minutes until the onion is tender.

Stir in 1 and 3/4 cups water, the quinoa, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for fifteen minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

As I mentioned, you can use this as a base for more creative dishes. Or eat it just as it is! A side portion of 1/2 a cup is 170 calories.

A few suggestions:
Make "tabbouleh" with tomato, parsley, cucumber, and lemon juice
Stuff into hulled-out bell peppers, poblano chiles, or large beefsteak tomatoes and bake in the oven.
Add dried apricots and pistachios.
Give it a Middle Eastern touch with dates and orange sections.
Go Greek with kalamata olives, diced cucumber, and crumbled vegan feta.

quinoa $3.99

Monday, November 3, 2008

Brown Sugar-Glazed Sweet Potato Wedges

These are probably the yummiest "French fries" ever. I'm sure you know as a vegan to be careful when ordering fries at a restaurant - more often than you think, they're cooked in animal fat. Make them at home, and you needn't worry about it. Although you can just roast potato slices with salt for normal French fries, this is a sweeter variation.

Peel 2 pounds of sweet potato (about 2 large). Cut in half crosswise, then cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges. Set aside.

Melt two tablespoons vegan butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed organic brown sugar, 2 tablespoons water, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. ground ginger and one cinnamon stick. Let the mixture come to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently (it will be quite bubbly).

Discard the cinnamon stick, and then combine the sugar mixture and the potato wedges in a large bowl, tossing to coat - careful not to burn your fingers, as the sugar will be hot!

Spread the potato wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.

2/3 a cup of sweet potatoes is 190 calories - you'll have about 6 servings. Serve alongside veggie burgers!

brown sugar $4.59
sweet potato $1.77

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Kabocha Squash Soup

This recipe comes from the chef of the San Diego Mariott hotel - with the one exception of butter used in the original recipe, it was almost vegan before I got my hands on it.

Kabocha squash is a variety similar to butternut or pumpkin. Substitute either of those if you can't find it. However, kabocha itself is beautiful, with a deep green skin, and an even sweeter taste than butternut squash, so do try to find it! Read all about it here:

To start, cut a (one and a quarter pound) kabocha squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place, cut-sides down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until tender. Let cool before scooping out the pulp and discarding the peels.

Melt a teaspoon and a half of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped leek (remember to rinse the leek in a sieve after chopping to get dirt from all the layers!), 6 tablespoons chopped onion, 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh ginger, a dash of black pepper, 2 small chopped garlic cloves, and one 1/2-inch piece of lemongrass, crushed under the flat side of a knife. (Note: I bought fresh ginger for this recipe, but when I peeled it, it was blue inside. I don't know if this means it had gone bad, but I decided it was better to play it safe; instead I used 1/4 tsp. ground ginger from my spice cabinet).

Anyway, saute all that for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add one and 1/4 cups vegetable broth, 3/4 cups water, 2 tablespoons organic brown sugar, and the squash pulp. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Puree the mixture in a blender until smooth. Strain it through a sieve back into the pan, and discard the solids. Add 1/4 cup light coconut milk and 3/4 tsp. grated lime rind to the soup. Return it to a burner over medium-high heat and cook until thoroughly heated.

Ladle 3/4 cup of soup into each of 4 bowls. Sprinkle all 4 servings evenly with a tablespoon of chopped green onions and a teaspoon and a half of chopped fresh cilantro. Each bowl of soup is 160 calories.

kabocha squash $1.89
leek $1.41
onion $0.71
vegetable broth $3.79
light coconut milk $1.99
cilantro $1.99

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash Dip

Here's another spread that goes great with either toasted baguette slices or pita wedges. You can make it up to three days in advance, but reheat it just before serving, either in a microwave for 1 to 2 minutes or in an oven-safe bowl at 350 for about 10 minutes, as it is best served warm.

To make it: cut a 2 pound butternut squash in half lengthwise. Trim the ends off a small sweet onion (such as Walla Walla or Vidalia), peel and quarter. Brush one and a half teaspoons of olive oil over the cut sides of the squash and the onions, as well as 4 unpeeled garlic cloves.

Place the squash, cut-sides down, on a baking pan, and arrange the onion and garlic around the squash. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Let cool slightly before peeling the squash and squeezing the garlic pulp out from its peel (I actually found it was easier to scoop out the squash pulp instead of peeling it). Place the squash, onion, and garlic pulp in a blender, and puree until smooth.

Add 2 tablespoons vegan sour cream (such as Toffuti), 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Puree again until combined.

As I mentioned above, serve this warm. 1/4 cup is 40 calories.

butternut squash $3.65
vidalia onion $0.75

The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance