Friday, November 22, 2013

Tips for "Going Veg"

You Don’t Have to Starve to Be Vegetarian!

Increase Your Variety, Increase Your Options!

When a lot of people find out I’m vegetarian they usually ask, “What do you eat?” and I have to laugh.  Being vegetarian doesn’t limit me at all, in fact, it INCREASES my variety of meal options!  As long as you are open to cuisines from around the world, you will never feel bored eating a vegetarian, or even vegan diet.

Tips for Adding More Veggie Meals to your Diet

1.  Try eating Meatless at least once a week
Cutting back meat from your diet is not only good for your health but also the environment!

Many leading environmental organizations, such as the National Audubon Society and the Sierra Club, are now establishing the link between eating meat and eco-disasters like climate change. According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads!

2.  Erase the concept of “Meat and 3” from your menu planning
Almost all cuisines from around the world have vegetarian options, many without meat as the center of the meal.  The fun part is picking a type of food (Chinese, Mexican, Italian etc.) and trying out new recipes. 

3.  Eat More Food and Feel Full -
    Whatever type of main course you are having, make a big side salad to go with it
Experiment making or buying dressings to compliment the meal (ex. Asian salad to go with Chinese food, Salsa dressing to go with a Mexican main course etc.)  Also, a quick meal idea that is great in the warmer months is a dinner entrĂ©e salad.  Just pick a cuisine type and dressing.  Serve with rolls and/or a soup or both.

4.  You Don’t Need to Buy a Library of Cookbooks to Cook Vegetarian
     (although there are a TON out there!)

We all use the internet for everything and that includes finding recipes!  Good all-vegetarian websites are out there, but I also use “regular” cooking websites and just modify the ingredients (ex. If it calls for ground beef I just substitute in veggie “beef” crumbles” or black beans etc.)
Good Veg. Recipe Sources Online: – Sign up and get recipes delivered into your mailbox weekly or just look at the site for an index of recipes – Also has a section on veggie kids nutrition, tips and recipes - A good source of veg. recipes and also a great magazine to subscribe to – I can’t wait to get it every month! – Not a “veg” recipe site but I use this site often to get ideas which I then modify to make veg.

Good Veg Recipes for Kids Online: - A Stay at Home Mom who makes all of her son’s lunches and snacks, and she even has 2 cookbooks now out in bookstores! (but you can get many free ones on her blog!) A great source of all kinds of veggie info. and recipes for kids

Ultra Speedy Veg. Meal Ideas for Busy Nights

Hormel Canned Vegetarian Chili
Comes with the “beef” crumbles mixed and you can find it in the bean aisle of any grocery store.  One can is 2 servings.  We usually microwave 2 baked potatoes and then top each with a half of the can.  Top with a spoonful of sour cream and some diced green onions and serve with a side salad and you have dinner in under 30 minutes!

Indian - Trader Joe’s Curry Simmer Sauce
If you like Indian food, this jar of sauce is a must.  Just add to it whatever you want – I usually use add a can of diced tomato and pick some other things to go in like microwaved cauliflower, chickpeas, diced cooked potato, peas or some firm tofu.  Serve over brown rice or grain of your choice.  Super easy and not too spicy!

Italian Night
Pick a pasta and tomato sauce to go with it, microwave some vegetables to go into the sauce if you’d like (chopped frozen spinach, mushrooms or broccoli are good ones), or if you prefer, stir in “beef” crumbles or add a side of veggie meat balls or veggie Italian sausage (Tofurky is a great brand), serve with salad and crusty bread.

Mexican Night
Burritos, Taco Salad, Fajitas or Hard Tacos

Fajitas-  Morningstar Chicken or Beef Strips can be fried up with peppers and onions to make fajitas, just put the filling in flour tortillas and serve with guacamole, salsa and chips.

Ground “beef” can be seasoned with taco seasoning for filling tacos, burritos, taco salad etc.

Vegetarian Refried Beans or Black beans go well in burritos, taco salad or hard tacos
Ultra Speedy Veg. Meal Ideas for Busy Nights

Trader Joe's has lots of veg/vegan stuff - if there is one near you - that's a fun place to stock up!

Mediterranean Night
Hummas and Pita Sandwiches with tomato, cucumber, olives, lettuce
Serve with a side of pre-made tabouli or grape leaves from the grocery store (Whole Foods has a good selection) and a side salad.  Trader Joe's has EXCELLENT frozen falafel for sandwiches. 

Asian Night
Purchase frozen stir fry vegetables and add tofu, veg. chicken or beef strips or serve just as vegetables over rice.

Chinese “Chicken” Salad - Marinate veggie chicken strips in Ginger Sesame Dressing, then fry and let cool.  Add to salad greens with cucumber, green onion and garnish with crispy Asian noodles and fresh or canned mandarin oranges (Clementines) with more dressing.

 The possibilities are endless.  

 Be creative and have fun!

Other Helpful Links:   

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lentil "Burgers" (vegan/soy free)

In a large bowl combine the following and mash together with hands (I use rubber gloves)

1 c. oatmeal
1 c. cornmeal
1 can black lentils, drained
1/2 c. spaghetti sauce

1/2 c. nutritional yeast (optional, or add in some Parmesan or shredded cheese of choice)
Additional spices of choice (salt, garlic powder, basil, oregano)

Form into patties
Lay on baking sheet rubbed with olive oil *this makes them crispy on the outside, yum!
Bake 10 min. per side at 400 degrees

Serve on buns with additional spaghetti sauce and other sandwich "fixins"  :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Banana "Nutella" Popsicles (vegan and nut-free)

Puree ripe bananas in Ninja, set aside

In a microwave safe measuring cup, heat Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips until melted
(watch carefully not to burn!)

Stir in sunflower seed butter (ours is from Trader Joe's)

Spoon pureed banana in first, then spoon in some chocolate/sunflower "nutella" mixture, then more banana, layering until filled

Freeze until set

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Quinoa Pancakes

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Crispy "Cheesy" Tofu

Slice a block extra firm tofu into thin rectangles (drain water and press if you can, I have the Tofu Xpress)

Dredge slices in mixture of nutritional yeast and salt and any other spices you like

Heat oil or butter (I used coconut oil) in frying pan and fry for about 10 min. per side on medium heat, checking often to make sure it doesn't burn

Friday, February 1, 2013

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins (vegan)

I made these today and added in a handful of kale to the blender with the soy milk - the green disappears once you bake.

Makes 12 standard sized muffins

Preheat Oven to 400


  • 1 1/4 c oatmeal
  • Handful of chopped raw kale
  • 1 1/4 c soy milk
  • 1 TBSP ground flax mixed with 3 TBSP hot water until gooey (or 1 egg)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts *optional (chopped finely in Ninja)
  • 1/4 c shredded coconut *optional
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Combine oats and milk and allow to stand for 15 minutes

Spray muffin tin with cooking spray or line with liners

Stir flax, oil, brown sugar, and chocolate chips into the oat and milk mixture

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. 

Add oat mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just moist. 

Bake at 400 for 15 min., check and bake 5-10 min. more (mine were close to being overdone by 20 min.)

You can also drop these by spoonful on a greased cookie sheet to make "muffin cookies" - I did this with the last of the batter that wouldn't fit the muffin tin and they turned out well

Freeze or eat immediately

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Triceratops Treats" (vegan) - Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with a Twist

My 3 year old and I made these up together and got crazy with the ingredients.  We took the basic Quaker "Chocolate Chip Raisin Oatmeal" Cookie and added in some kale, black beans and walnuts.

Because of the kale, he declared they were cookies and herbivorous dinosaur would eat, and after naming a few plant eating dinos, he decided they were best suited for a Triceratops.

Hey, whatever it takes to get him to eat kale and black beans!!  The amazing thing is, you can't taste either in this recipe!  But all the kale and black bean goodness is there...invisibly!

It was fun to make them together and they are tasty little bundles of nutrition if I do say so myself.  Yummy for breakfast, packing in lunches or throwing in my diaper bag for snack time, for both me and the boys!

Here's the recipe:

  • 1/2  cup Earth Balance (or butter), softened
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil 
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup granulated sugar
  • 2 TBSP Ground Flax mixed with 6 TBSP hot water  (or 2  eggs)
  • 1-1/2  cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed and chopped in food processor until small chunks but not paste
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3  cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Kale
  • 1/4  cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts


Heat oven to 350°F. 

In a bowl, combine all ingredients

Roll into quarter sized balls and flatten

Lay on ungreased cookie sheet

Bake about 15 min.
Cool a few minutes on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. 

Cool completely. 

Store tightly covered or freeze.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nacho Cheese Sauce (vegan)

Based on The Un-Cheese Cookbook's "Gee Whiz Spread"

Serve with tortilla chips as a dip or as a sauce for taco salad or over anything Mexican!  My 16 month old likes it stirred into quinoa or rice.


1 can White Beans, drained and rinsed (Northern Beans)
2-3 TBSP Tahini
6 TBSP Nutritional Yeast
3 TBSP Lemon Juice
2 Cloves Garlic
Small piece of red onion (1/4 of whole onion)
1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. Turmeric *optional to make sauce more yellow (I did not for this recipe)

Fresh chunky salsa *add in after blending

Combine all EXCEPT salsa in blender (I use Vita-Mix) and process until smooth, adding water as necessary to thin down

Stir in salsa

Heat covered in container in microwave and then it's ready to serve!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

White Bean Falafel with a secret...

The secret ingredient is...OATMEAL!

The kids find most falafel too spicy.  Sometimes we buy the Trader Joe's frozen falafel but we are out and I wanted to make something different for dinner.

But of course I also discovered I ran out of chickpeas (what?! We always have beans on hand!), and chickpeas are the ONE thing you really need to make falafel.  So I had to make the best of it and I made up this recipe on a whim just to see what would happen.

It turned out great and my 3 year old and 16 month old both ate some.  Success!

Anyway, here is what I did:

1 can of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed *or any white bean, or I would imagine chickpeas!
1 c. Oatmeal (dry)
3 TBSP Hummus
Spices of choice (I used garlic powder, salt and oregano)
Sesame Seeds

Combine all except sesame seeds in a large bowl and squish up until it forms a dough and there are no visible beans (I wear latex gloves to make it less messy for me)

Refrigerate "dough" for at least an hour

Heat oven to 400

In a large frying pan, put a little olive oil (no more than 1 TBSP) and spread it around with a silicone brush or a paper towel before the pan gets hot

Roll dough into 1/2 inch balls and roll in sesame seeds, then flatten very thin in your palm

Fry on each side until golden brown (about 5 min. each side)
Finish in oven on a baking sheet to crisp them further and keep them warm 5-10 min.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quinoa Granola

Quinoa is gaining popularity for being a "complete protein".

It is also gluten-free and a great alternative to rice.  It has a mild flavor and goes with sweet as well as savory dishes.  Eat it hot under dishes with gravy or sauce or eat it like oatmeal with cinnamon and sugar...or bake it uncooked to make a fast and easy and healthy granola!

This recipe combines it with oatmeal and flax to make a crunchy protein rich granola to sprinkle on yogurt or eat with milk.

Preheat oven to 375

In a large bowl combine all but the Craisins -

1 c. uncooked quinoa, but RINSED (no need to dry,  just drain well in colander)
1 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. ground flax
1/4 c. shredded coconut
a handful of Craisins
1/2 c. honey or agave (I used honey, which makes it technically not vegan for strict vegans)
3 TBSP cinnamon

Spread on baking sheet and stir every 10 min. until nicely browned
Add in Craisins during last 5 min. of baking
Let cool and store in a ziplock or other container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (vegan)

Makes about 45-50 cookies

*Adapted from Penzey's "Sweet Potato Chocolate-Chip Cookies" in this month's issue

3/4 c. Canned Pumpkin (or you can used mashed cooked sweet potato)
1 c. Coconut Oil (the original recipe called for butter)
2 TBSP Ground Flax mixed with 6 TBSP hot water (to equal 2 eggs)
3 TBSP Honey (to replace refined sugar)
3/4 c. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 c. Whole Wheat Flour (to replace all purpose flour)
1 tsp. each baking soda and baking powder
Dash of salt
1/2 c. Dark Chocolate Chips, chopped in Ninja to fine pieces (to replace 1 c. chocolate chips)
A sprinkling of chia seeds just for fun and good measure

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix wet ingredients, slowly add in dry

Roll dough into small balls (about the size of a quarter or a little bigger)
Place on ungreased cookie sheet and flatten a bit

Bake for 25 min.

Cool on wire rack

Eat some right away and freeze some for later!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Cheesy" Sauce (made with white beans...and kale)

1 can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c. Nutritional Yeast
1 handful of Kale *optional to add nutrition but if you have picky eaters, leave it out to make it a cheesy yellow "white" sauce
Garlic Powder or 1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
Plain Soy Milk - at least 1 c. but add as needed

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender (we use VitaMix) and blend until creamy

2 options for serving:

1.  Pour into a sauce pan and cook until bubbly, then mix with cooked pasta
2. Mix with cooked pasta and bake in oven at 350 for 20 min. until heated through

*Sauce thickens substantially when cooled so make sure to eat over pasta immediately