Archive for Main Dish

Favorite Vegan Macaroni and Cheese All-In-One Casserole

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Welcome Fall!

It’s my favorite time of the year for comforting and flavorful meals.

Piping hot casseroles, stews and soups. I’m all for it!

I know you and your family will love my revamped vegan Macaroni and Cheese recipe that I want to share. This is an update to the  3-Way Mac-n-Cheese post from forever ago.

Even though there are ten thousand delicious vegan mac-n-cheese casseroles already out there, this is my default recipe now. Why? Because it is simply a meal in itself. It’s fast and convenient. You don’t have to soak the cashews or thaw the frozen veggies, which makes this so easy to throw together.

That’s right, veggies are involved and smothered in cheese sauce, so 8 year olds gobble it down without complaint. You can even add Gardein Chick’n strips or Beyond Meat grilled or lightly seasoned strips… hence the “all-in-one”.

This recipe always leaves leftovers for our family of three, which I love. Some weeks we get lucky and one night we’ll do a leftover buffet from a few previous meals. Isn’t that the best? As much as I like cooking, I love NOT cooking!

You can serve this with a side salad as you may find you won’t be able to stop eating this casserole. A salad may help to slow you down.

I usually use a lot more broccoli than pictured, but I ran out for this round. I decided it was time to blog it anyway.

In my old post, I talked about not being able to eat nutritional yeast… well, I didn’t realize that as a newer vegan, when I tried nutritional yeast, it was too potent with fiber that my body was not used to. I wrote it off then, but THANKFULLY I gave it another chance after being vegan for a while, and now all is fine in my intestinal world… We can’t get enough of it now. High protein, high fiber, B-12 and cheesy goodness!

You can make this dish gluten free by using brown rice noodles, which we usually opt for. We like Tinkyada brand. For this dish pictured, I used mini wheat elbows for something different (not gluten free). I really like the look of this casserole with a brown rice Fusili noodle, which is mostly what I use. I know I said it would soak up too much liquid in my other post, but we take our chances and it works out fine. I even cut back the liquid from the original recipe in order to make it a thicker sauce. You can always keep it at two cups and add more cashews if necessary.

You’ll have to play around with this recipe depending on your preference and baking dish. I know you’ll make this more than once!

With that said, please take note of the casserole dish I am using, because I feel it needs to be a deeper dish in order to keep the casserole from potentially drying out.

Keep me posted in the comment section if you make this recipe. I look forward to hearing from you.

By the way, if you are looking for more recipe ideas or daily inspiration, the best place to follow me is on Instagram at karmatarian, or Facebook. I also have a few recipes over on Pinterest. I usually follow back on Instagram if you aren’t a private user.

Be sure to sign up for email notifications for future blog posts as I post when the mood strikes.

…and it would not be my post without a sarcastic comment about how much I hate the dairy industry!  I’ll leave it to Dr. Klaper and his now famous words from the must see documentary “Cowspiracy”. Listen to what he has to say about baby calf fluid…

 

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Favorite Vegan Macaroni and Cheese All-In-One Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 -16 oz Box or Bag of preferred Pasta Noodles
  • 1 plus 3/4 Cup Non Dairy Milk, Plain
  • 1 Cup of Raw Cashews
  • 2 Tbs Soy Sauce (I usually useTamari)
  • 1/2 Lemon – (Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp of Jarred Crushed Garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 of a 16 oz bag of frozen Broccoli (guesstimate on the frozen veggies because you can add as much or as little as you like)
  • 1/2 of a 16 oz bag of frozen Green Peas
  • 1/2 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs, Gluten Free Bread Crumbs or Panko Crumbs
  • 1 Tbs Melted Coconut Oil or Grapeseed oil
  • Optional Paprika to sprinkle on the top

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Boil  water and cook pasta according the the directions.

While pasta is cooking, add the next 11 ingredients to a high speed blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings. It should taste bold as flavor will dissipate a little among the noodles and veggies.

When noodles are finished, drain and pour into a 2.8 Liter oval casserole dish

Mix in the frozen veggies

Mix in optional cooked chick’n (I don’t usually do this, but it is an idea)

*Make sure all ingredients are at least level with the top of the casserole and not overflowing, because you want the sauce to cover everything, or at least have coated the top later.

Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and veggies and mix well

In a small bowl pour bread crumbs and 1 Tbs oil and then use a fork to blend well until nice and crumbly.

Sprinkle the coated bread crumbs evenly over the casserole. Sprinkle with a little paprika if desired.

Pop the casserole into the oven uncovered and bake for 20 to 25 mins. Bread crumbs should brown nicely.

Enjoy!

Christa

~The Karmatarian

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Roasted Winter Squash Over Garlic Fettuccine with Baked Vegan Cheese

Baked Cheeze and Roasted Squash over Garlic Fettuccine

Crazy me, I thought I could get back to blogging again, but crazier me decided that I was going to knock something off of my bucket list and enter a bodybuilding/bikini competition this year. Yep. CRAZY crazy me.

So far, training has been awesome. I have 21 weeks under my belt of working out 5 days per week and HARD! I am very proud that I haven’t missed one workout. Not one! Now if I could just be as dedicated of a blogger… I know :( There’s something about knowing that I’ll be 41 years old, half naked on a stage and competing against girls half my age that really lights a fire under my @ss!

The good news is that I only have four weeks until show time and then it’s back to cooking and baking things I can eat without a care. It’s like, do I wanna be a chef or an athlete? It’s a total dilemma! But in all honesty, it hasn’t been that bad. I still eat most things I want. It’s the beauty of already having developed a healthy lifestyle. Back in my old “bodybuilding” days it was chicken, chicken, a side of chicken, tuna, eggs and more chicken. YUK. I can still smell it. Now that I’ve opened my mind, I can eat wonderful meals with diversity, colors and flavor. No more chicken. Bleh.  “GASP – But WHERE do you get your protein???” I was recently asked this question by a very shocked figure competitor who’s eyes were as big as saucers when I told her I was vegan. I LOVE IT!!!!

My favorite thing about this competition is knowing that I won’t be the girl on show day who is constipated, crabby and tired as all hell. Nope. I’ll be feeling great and all CARBED UP! GO VEGAN!

This recipe I’m sharing goes way back, B.V. – Before Vegan – to when my husband and I lived in Raleigh, NC. We shared great times and great dinners with some truly wonderful friends. We miss you Nic and Carrie! It’s hard no to think of our friends every time we serve this. We are thankful they introduced it to us and thankful most anything can be veganized! IT’S AWESOME!

Try this dish and attach some of your own memories to it. If serving to friends or family, they will be impressed. We were! It’s straightforward, simply beautiful and pairs great with a colorful side salad.

Gluten Free? I use brown rice fettuccine noodles and I “bread” the vegan cheese with finely ground cashews instead of bread crumbs in order to make this a wonderful gluten free dish.

Right now, I’m going to give you a good tip: Buy the Butternut squash already peeled OR pierce it with a knife and microwave it on high for about 4 minutes BEFORE peeling with an INSANELY sharp peeler. Your thumb will thank you. Don’t worry, it’s all good now. I healed just fine ;)

Baked Vegan Cheese and Roasted Squash Over Garlic Fettuccine

 Roasted Winter Squash Over Garlic Fettuccine with Baked Vegan Cheese

Ingredients

  • 6 Cups Cubed, Peeled Butternut Squash (1 inch)
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 TB Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt, divided
  • 1 tsp or more chopped fresh Rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 package of Teese Vegan Mozarella Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup dry Organic Bread Crumbs or 1/2 Cup finely ground Cashews
  • 1 Package Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta Fettuccine
  • 1/4 tsp crushed Red Pepper (I put it on the table as an option)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°.

Add butternut squash and bell pepper to a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon oil; toss well. Arrange mixture in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and black pepper. Bake at 425° for 40 minutes, stirring once.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Return pasta to pan; add reserved pasta cooking water, remaining 1 1/2 Tablespoons oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic. Toss to coat.

Cut the Teese cheese crosswise into 8 equal rounds. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Either dip the rounds into oil (or water, if watching oil intake) and dredge each round in breadcrumbs; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 6 minutes. Check after 4 minutes to be sure it isn’t melting all over the place. You want it to stay round and somewhat firm.

Place 1 1/4 cups pasta in each serving bowl and top with about 1/2 cup squash mixture and 1 Teese cheese round. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired. Serve with crushed red pepper as an optional condiment.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Smoky Tempeh and Beans

smoky tempeh and beans

Mercury is in retrograde and whoah I’m feeling this one! Our Internet was down for a few days this week and I have this overwhelming feeling of frustration because I can’t catch up. I am pretty sure that feeling also has something to do with school being out for the Summer. I’m either pulling boys out of trees, wiping tears, refereeing arguments, icing bruises, chasing kids out of the house every 20 minutes or trying to get work done…. and I’m not getting any work done! I certainly love having my son home though. Every minute surely counts.

Not only is communication whacky but this week is also jam packed with energy of all kinds…. I’m letting go of my childhood home, as it sold yesterday. I have been in an out of that house for 32 years! No going back now! A lot of letting go happening there. Then a few days ago I talked with a friend who had a huge awakening after watching the documentary Vegucated and wants to go vegan….yay!!! Such a beautiful thing to see unfold! I assured her that this is an AhhhmAzInG lifestyle! There are simply not enough days in a year to try all the delicious vegan recipes on my list. Then there’s today – I am excited for tonight, to get my Sister Hazel fix, as they are in town. Woohooo. Yes, a little 90’s, but their lyrics speak to me and hold a few fun memories. I don’t know if I am more excited to see and hear them play or more excited to be going with an old friend who I haven’t seen in 20 years!!!! This week is all over the place and we are not through it yet!

Alright, I better share this recipe with you while I have means of communicating. BTW, I am SO thankful for having internet.

Ok. This is a new creation of mine and definitely a keeper. The family loved it! It is quick to prepare which is always nice for weeks like this. You can make this gluten free by ditching the organic pita and just serving over rice. I wanted something hearty and don’t mind the extra fiber and B vitamins so I added the pitas. This isn’t made too spicy because I have a 6 year old, umm and a 40 year old. Hubby doesn’t like spicy.

You can also omit the cheese if you prefer. This dish has enough flavor to hold it’s own. I just thought it was fun, so I added it.

Let me know what you think. This recipe is just different enough to help mix flavors up between dishes. I love when new recipes like this happen. I’m not saying it’s the prettiest thing you have ever seen, but who cares when you have to feed your family every night. You just want it to taste great and hit the spot.

Smoky Tempeh and Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 +1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tbs Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbs Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp regular Paprika
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 can Cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 8oz Package of Tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes ( I prefer 3 grain tempeh)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs divided, Grapeseed Oil – Optional
  • Grated Vegan Teese Mozarella Cheese – Optional ( I used about 1/2 cup or a little more)
  • 2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice
  • 1 Cup Cooked Peas
  • 1 or 2 Avocados – Optional
  • Organic, Whole Wheat/Grain Pitas

Directions

Heat the oven to 300 degrees

Cook the brown rice, and peas in which ever manner you prefer. Combine and set aside, keeping warm

Mix first 7 ingredients together for the sauce and set aside

Lightly fry the tempeh cubes in the grapeseed oil…. OR go oil free and steam your tempeh (I prefer to fry, it brings out a toasted nutty flavor). When the tempeh is almost done and lightly browned on each side, add the minced garlic and cook another minute, add the sauce and the beans. Cover and simmer until thickened a bit and boiled down slightly. Remove from the heat and add some grated vegan cheese in the amount you desire. Put the lid back on for a minute or two, to melt the cheese.

Place pitas in the oven to warm for about 10 minutes

To Serve: Scoop a hearty portion of the rice and peas over the warm pita. Top that with a scoop of smoky tempeh and beans…. and enjoy with a side of avocado and perhaps a side salad.

May you survive the rest of the retrograde….. Deep breaths…… I’m waiting until it’s over to make much needed changes and updates to my blog. Hence the font color change. This old format won’t let me match the colors anymore. It’s time for a makeover here to keep me inspired.  I’ll keep you updated on that.

~The Karmatarian

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Spinach Pesto Portobellos with Cranberry and Mint Quinoa Salad

Spinach Pesto Mushroom with Cranberry Mint Quinoa Salad

Alright, Alright…. I know you are tired of seeing that Turkey rescue post every time you come to my blog. My friends, you have spoken, I have heard you… and I am back. Yes, I ditched this blog. For many reasons. I really didn’t intend for that to happen, but it did. I will fill you in about the soul searching journey I have been on this year so far, and my new take on veganism. That’s for my next post. Right now, let’s eat…

Spinach pesto portobello mushrooms with cranberry and mint quinoa salad. This was our delicious dinner yesterday! I threw this together pretty fast. Don’t you just love when that happens!? I really liked this combo. Try it and be sure to let me know what you think.

I haven’t made portobello pizzas in a long time. I usually like them with red sauce as in my other mushroom pizza recipe on the blog. I tend not to do pesto too often because of the large amount of basil needed.  Basil costs a lot it seems, and it goes bad quickly for me. Maybe it’s just me? I don’t buy it too often. I prefer to grow it, but I don’t have any right now. I always have a huge tub of fresh spinach on hand, so I thought I would try a spinach pesto. This one is not fat free, it contains olive oil.

Before I share the recipe, let me tell you where I’m at with oil right now. The cleaner I eat, the more obvious it is that my body doesn’t like certain oils. Canola, Sunflower and Safflower oil for sure. I can feel the inflammation take hold. Gee, I wonder… could it be all the GMOs and the fact that I’ve eaten it my whole life? Manufacturers put in in EVERYTHING!! No more of that! I read all labels now and avoid canola and sunflower as best I can. I made a commitment a while back to cook whole foods plant based style, and that is… little salt, no sugar and no oil, nothing processed. I do this 4 nights per week. I have been doing this steadily for about a year and a half now. The other few days of the week I like to have fun. There might be a little oil, or lightly processed vegan foods combined with whole foods. These recipes happen to be more fun to post. Anyone can pick up a Forks Over Knives cook book. This is my go-to book! I’ll admit, it was intimidating at first, with few pictures, but now I just usually open the book and wherever I land, that is what I will try. Who said I’m not adventuresome?

If I do use oil, I prefer olive, grape seed or coconut oil. If I want to do a fat free pesto, I use veggie broth, tofu, water or soaked nuts in place of the oil.  The mixture just needs something to wet it down a touch in the food processor. I have to get dinner on the table every night. I do balance out the oil/no oil/ fat/no fat recipes over the course of a week. I definitely have a family with differing needs in the calorie department. The oil of course, helps to make this dish rich and creamy. It sure makes it good and we enjoyed it!

Here are the recipes…

Spinach Pest Portobellos

Spinach Pesto Portobellos

Ingredients

  • 5 Portobello Mushroom Caps (I used 2 very large and 3 medium/small)
  • 5 Cups Fresh Spinach Leaves, packed
  • 1/4 Cup Almonds
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Olive Oil
  • 4 Small Garlic Cloves (I don’t know what they are doing to garlic these days but the cloves are HUGE. Have you noticed?)
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp Salt, or to taste (I used 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tsp of Lemon Basil dried herbs or just plain dried basil. If you have a little fresh basil on hand, use that
  • Lemon Juice – Half Lemon, Squeezed
  • Squirt of Agave (Optional. I did this because mine was a bit too salty. Be careful with your salt.)

Directions

Add all of the ingredients (except the portobellos of course) in the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry the mushroom caps and remove the center stem. Fill the mushrooms with pesto sauce and place them in a glass baking dish (non greased). Bake for 25 minutes until the juices of the mushroom start to run. Let cool slightly to set, before cutting.

Cranberry and Mint Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Tri-Color Quinoa, cooked according to package directions, and cooled or cooled mostly
  • Lime Juice – 1 Lime, Squeezed
  • 1/2 – 1 Whole Lime Zested (start with 1/2 and adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp Agave
  • 1-2 Tbs Orange Champagne Vinegar (or a little orange juice plus more lemon juice and a dash of apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Mint
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Scallions, Chopped ( I included the whites. Why not?)
  • Handful or 2 of Chopped Dried Cranberries

Directions

Mix all of the ingredients together and toss. Taste and adjust.

Enjoy!

~ The Karmatarian

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Good Karma Bowl

The Good Karma Bowl

Who has been to the Native Foods Cafe?!! OMG. I just love that place. One of my favorite dishes is their soul bowl. I wanted to recreate this at home since the drive to the cafe is about an hour or so for me. Boooo. So the good karma bowl is just my knock off, give or take some ingredients. Ok, I totally just guessed at it, but I’m quite happy with the result. I bet the Native Foods Cafe cookbook has the exact recipe, as Chef Tanya seems happy to share, but I don’t have my own copy yet. I was just looking for another great vegan meal and remembered this dish… and let me tell you, it is comforting, it is delicious and it is fun! I tried to be a little fancy when I served it to my family, kind of like they do at the cafe. I put the veggie tenders on a skewer…

 Good Karma Bowl

What makes the original soul bowl so great is the Native Food’s homemade seitan. Homemade seitan is not going to happen anytime soon in my house, so I just buy it from the store.

But that’s not so healthy so you say? Here is what works for me… I committed long ago to making 4 or more dinners per week out of the Forks Over Knives cookbook or handbook or similar style cookbooks and recipes off the web. That means, no oil, little to no salt or sugar, no vegan processed foods, only tons of flavor through whole plant based foods and spices. The other nights I might add a little oil. One night a week I may add convenient vegan foods. This way I know me and my family eat top notch, delicious and healthy the majority of the time. So when I throw in a vegan pizza, or we cook veggie brats on the grill or enjoy gardein crispy tenders… it is fun, enjoyable and our cheat… but is it really cheating? I refuse to feel guilty. Sounds funny for a vegan to “cheat” with versions that are actually healthier than the original meat counterparts, but I’m just throwing it out there because too many non-veg people tend to look for flaws with people who eat healthy or vegan. They falsely think these types of vegan products are bad. They aren’t bad. Certainly not when you compare them to animal products and that whole mess. These types of vegan foods have their wonderful place and when vegans enjoy what they eat, they tend to stay vegan. That is key. You can be vegan or you can be a health nut. I am a bit of both, so I am armed with all the ammo I need to stay on this awesome vegan wagon!

We might be vegan in our home but we still enjoy the chewing sensation, which unfortunately is what eating dense animal flesh provides to many a non-vegan. This is why us vegans enjoy these kinds of convenient vegan foods and “meats” which are familiar to what we grew up with, without the harming the animals part. So there you have it and now there is no need to wonder any longer. It is as simple as… vegans still like to chew and we still like variety. I wish I didn’t have to justify any of this… but so go I. 

This recipe is easy, but takes some prep, multi-tasking and assembly. Over all it’s quick and easy. The whole recipe can be found at the end of the post.

rice for the good karma bowl

First, you need to prepare some brown rice. I like to use my rice cooker. I tend to throw it on early in the day when I am thinking about what’s for dinner so that I am not left scrambling without brown rice at 5 o’clock or forced to make something else that doesn’t require rice because I forgot or ran out of time. Brown rice takes a long time to cook. You can always freeze portions to be used at later time, too. The brand of rice I really enjoy lately is Lundberg short grain brown rice.

veggies for the good karma bowl

You’ll want to get your water boiling to steam your veggies. I enjoy a blend of broccoli, cauliflower, sliced carrots and this time I threw in organic shelled soybeans but you can omit these if you choose or add another type of veggie.

Gardein nuggets for the good karma bowl

Bake your gardein crispy tenders while your veggies are steaming. These take the longest amount of time, a whopping 20 minutes.

Beans and vegan mayo and bbq for good karma bowl

Prepare your kidney beans (meaning take them out of the can, rinse and drain). Pull your vegan mayo out of the fridge or make your own (recipe below) and find your favorite bbq sauce minus the high fructose corn syrup, of course.

Steamed kale for the good karma bowl

Lightly steam your kale in a skillet will a small amount of boiling water and a lid. Takes about 2 minutes to steam.

The Good Karma Bowl

When everything is ready, assemble. Start with a scoop of rice, then a scoop of beans, a scoop of veggies, a helping of steamed kale and then approximately 2 tablespoons of bbq sauce and 2 tablespoons of vegan mayo.

Good Karma Bowl Mixed

Mix until all the flavors are incorporated. You can cut the tenders into the dish….. and EN-freaking-JOY!

 Good Karma Bowl

 Good Karma Bowl

Ingredients

  • Cooked Brown Rice
  • Veggies for steaming (ex. California blend or broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and organic shelled soybeans)
  • Organic Kale
  • 1 Can of Organic-Low Sodium, Red Kidney Beans
  • Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Tenders 
  • Favorite BBQ Sauce
  • Vegan Mayo
  • Sea Salt for serving, to bring out the flavors, only if necessary.

Directions

Pre-heat the oven according to package directions for the crispy tenders. Boil water for steaming your vegetables. Rip the kale from the stems into bite size pieces and rinse. Set aside. Open the can of kidney beans, rinse and drain. Prepare mayo and bbq sauce. 

Bake the crispy tenders and steam your veggies. When those are both finished. Steam the kale in a skillet with about a 1/2 cup boiling water for about 2 minutes covered with a lid. Drain.

Assemble your bowls. Put a scoop of cooked brown rice, topped with a scoop of kidney beans, a scoop of steamed veggies and finish with steamed kale. Add approximately 2 tablespoons bbq sauce and 2 tablespoons mayo. Mix to incorporate flavors before digging in and enjoy!

My Homemade Vegan Mayo

Ingredients

  • 1 Package Silken Tofu or Firm Silken Tofu
  • 1 Cup Cashews
  • 3 Tbs fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1/8- 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Splash of Agave Syrup to taste

Directions

Put all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. This keeps for about 2 weeks and will thicken upon refrigeration.

Enjoy

~The Karmatarian

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Teriyaki Tofu and Pineapple Skewers over Sweet Coconut Rice

Teriyaki Tofu and Pineapple Skewers over Sweet Coconut Rice

After three back-to-back eclipses, many solar flares, intense astrological alignments and waves of higher energetic frequencies sweeping the earth, helping us to release and ascend higher (which hit me pretty hard), I finally had the strength to veganize a recipe! This recipe, I used to love to make – Salmon Teriyaki Skewers with Pineapple. Salmon and Turkey were among the last to go when I was transitioning our family vegan. Now I can barely type those words. Ok, exaggeration. But I did make those type of dishes once per month in between great vegetarian and vegan meals while building my confidence in the vegan arena. 

This recipe was always a hit. To veganize it, I was looking to replace the Salmon with Tofu, and mind you, I am still experimenting with this. I used firm tofu and it worked very well, but it was rather fragile. I baste and turn this VERY carefully. I may try using extra firm next time until I can find a vegan salmon alternative. Extra firm Tofu would be good especially for grilling. Maybe even high protein super firm! I prefer to broil the skewers, so firm tofu was just fine, nice and delicate like the “fish” I used to… dare I say – enjoy.  

As a vegan I can say, we aren’t vegan because we didn’t like the taste of meat or fish. I speak for most. We are stronger now. We know better and do better and have adjusted our taste buds accordingly.

My husband really enjoyed this dish and he is well aware of the original recipe, because I made it so often. I say it’s a keeper! My tips – Just be sure to like your marinade because your tofu will taste exactly like it! Feel free to use low sodium or gluten free soy sauce. And DON’T use coconut oil unless the marinade is at room temp or the oil will harden and it will not be pretty. I have made this mistake.

You can get the recipe HERE.  I follow it as is.  Just promise me you will use Tofu, not Salmon for these Top 10 reasons NOT to eat Salmon. They didn’t even touch on the fact that you can obtain 600% more Omega 3 from Chia Seeds than from Salmon. Eat smart!

I have always served this dish over coconut rice. It’s my added flair. Yes, the rice is white… because when I’m feeling bad, white rice is about as bad as it gets. Also because I have made it with brown, and it’s just not the same. It’s a bit too heavy for this light theme and takes away from the coconut flavor. Try it both ways. You’ll see.

Here is my recipe for the rice:

Coconut Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cup Jasmine Rice
  • 1 Can Coconut Milk (light or regular, it’s up to you)
  • 1 +  3/4 Cup Water
  • 4 tsp Organic Sugar
  • 1 Pinch Sea Salt
  • Handful of Sliced Almonds

Directions

Combine the coconut milk, water, sugar and salt – dissolve. Stir in the Jasmine rice and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer for 18-20 minutes. Stir in a sliced almonds and serve.

I hope you are navigating these intense energies with grace. A lot of us seem to be introspective right now, having a roller coaster of emotions and unexplainable physical symptoms. Just remember that we are being divinely guided and better things are in store for all of us. When something from the past comes bubbling up for you, just know it is doing so to be released. Thank it and let it go!

Stay in gratitude to manifest your hearts desires.

Enjoy,

~The Karmatarian

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Portobello Pizzas

Vegan Portobello Pizza

I love Portobello Pizza. It’s one of the easy, fast, low fat staples in my recipe rotation. It’s the kind of meal that let’s you have dessert afterward without guilt.  I usually serve this with a side salad and wild rice blend that is cooked up in veggie broth with a little added nutritional yeast. Or… whatever leftovers I might have on hand. In just 30 minutes, Dinner can be served!

Sometimes I add basil and extra garlic or spinach leaves. Sometimes I fill these with a vegan pesto. Either way, they are fast and good.

This idea of Portobello Pizza isn’t new to me and probably isn’t new to you, either. However, I used to make this pizza with dairy cheese (pre-vegan) and then went on to make it with vegan cheese. I found that in both scenarios, the texture of the mushroom paired with sauce AND slimy cheese, was well… too slimy. I can’t think of a better word. Maybe slippery? I mean, the whole topping just slides right off the mushroom if you aren’t careful.  Maybe you can relate?

I like to change up textures and flavors all the time in the kitchen and Portobello anything is a nice change of pace.  As for the pizza, I finally found a good combination that is very pleasing and complimentary. I now use a crushed cashew “cheese” topping that I have used before in other recipes, and it happens to be perfect for the mushroom pizza. You have to try it!

This can be a low sodium, oil free and gluten free meal depending on your sauce and your side dishes. It can be VERY hard to find a jarred pasta sauce without oil, a ton of sodium and sugar. Good luck to you! The last sauce I used was from Trader Joe’s, you know the fat-free organic one they usually hide waaayyyy down on the bottom shelf. I don’t know why? If I had the jar here now, I could tell you the sodium and sugar content but my guess is that it’s not great. I was just happy it was OIL FREE and ORGANIC. I’ll double check it next time I’m there. You probably can’t believe I let that slip by. I try to choose my battles over here and I tend not to fight them all at once. Things usually balance out over the course of the day.

I do know there is a brand of oil free and low sodium pasta sauce out there which my dad recently found and likes. It will most likely have to be ordered on line. I will get back to you with the name of it.

 

 

Portobello Pizzas

Ingredients

  • Large Portobello Mushroom Caps (the amount is up to you, I usually make 5 or 6 – 2 for each adult and one for my little guy)
  • A Jar of Your Favorite Pasta Sauce
  • 1 Cup Raw Cashews (this depends on how many pizzas you make but I always make extra topping to keep in the pantry
  • Optional – Other toppings you might enjoy, such as fresh basil, minced fresh garlic, spinach leaves

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees

Wash the mushroom caps gently, remove the stems and pat dry with paper towels

Fill the mushrooms with sauce and extra optional toppings and place in a shallow glass baking dish (I usually use a 9 x 13)

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until the juices begin to flow (if the juices aren’t flowing, they have not finished cooking)

While the mushrooms are baking, pulse the cashews in the food processor until desired texture (I like a semi-fine Parmesan cheese-like texture mixed with chunky bits of cashew)

Remove the pan from the oven and top pizzas with ground cashews and bake again for 5-10 minutes longer… but watch closely. Cashews should be barely toasted. If you are brave, you could broil on low for a minute.

I would love to hear your reviews, topping ideas and more. Feel free to comment below.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Lentil Loaf by The Vegan Stoner – Recipe Review

Great recipe find! How do I know? Because my rather picky 5 year old ate every morsel off his plate last night and deemed me the BEST CHEF EVER… over and over and OVER! I can deal with that.

I am glad I gave this easy recipe a whirl as lentil loaves past, lacked in taste, which made me a little nervous to try again. I’m happy to report that this recipe is worth a try. I also scrolled through The Vegan Stoner blog and it looks like a lot of fun! I am glad that Pinterest led me to it. They have other great looking recipes I want to try. Check it out!

The rundown on lentils

They are filled with Phyto-chemicals… an anti-aging must have in your arsenal! They are packed with protein and very high in fiber. Lentils do not require soaking and cook rather quickly, from 15-20 minutes. Lentils provide the same protein benefits as meat without all the fat, calories and cholesterol. Lentils pack 17 grams of protein per cup!

The review and a couple minor changes

I only made a couple changes, so compare and try the recipe as is or come up with your own twist.

I was waiting to see if I over did it on the onion… using 2/3 of a large onion. But we do like onions around here and luckily it ended up adding a lot of flavor. I would add just as many next time.

I used a LARGE handful of walnuts as opposed to just a handful, and chopped them in my chopper.

My frozen/thawed veggies were Trader Joe’s Organic Foursome with carrots, peas, corn and green beans.

I did not use garlic salt but rather 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder plus 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

I added dried parsley… just a few shakes. I would have added fresh had I not run out.

Let’s talk CRACKERS – Thankfully, my husband helps out a great deal and he does a lot of grocery runs! He likes the 12 grain vegan mini crackers from Trader Joe’s. They are very tasty with buttery flavor, but I do have issues with them. What am I to do? When your husband goes vegan, you just can’t nit pick. I feel very lucky that he is more than on board with this rewarding lifestyle.

… so the crackers

A. Are not organic.

B. They don’t contain whole wheat. Whole is the word you want to look for on the label when it comes to wheat.

C. They contain too many ingredients including sugar and oil. UGH. I didn’t have any other crackers on hand. I wanted to try them because not too many lentil loaf recipes call for them (probably for health reasons. Lol) But I have to say, I think they made this dish taste pretty GREAT!  SOOO if you happen to come across another vegan, buttery, actual healthy cracker. PLEASE let me know, because a flavorful cracker is what made this dish so darn good.

My last note is that when I packed the mixture into the loaf pan, I had a feeling the final product wouldn’t come out sliced firm enough. And indeed, it fell apart, BUT it was mold-able back into shape! Next time I will try my own tip and put some of the mixture into the food processor and add it back, like what I do for my Let’s Stay Together Veggie Burgers. I just want to see the difference, but if it takes the chunky texture away, it might not be as pleasurable to eat.

My sides

I whipped up (literally) some sweet potatoes with a little almond milk, a touch of coconut oil, and a splash of maple syrup. Always a hit – and truly needs very little sweetener if any.

I also cooked up fresh spinach along with minced garlic in veggie broth on the stove top. I sprinkled it with a pasta seasoning blend and gave it a squirt of lemon. Delicious!

I have no pictures. I know. It was gone before I could think to grab my camera. However, it did look a lot like the picture above. It’s always nice when that happens!

So here you have a great vegan meal idea. Keep me posted when you try this and any variations you create. Until next time…

Enjoy the journey,

~The Karmatarian

UPDATE: When we reheated the left overs, the slices were much firmer and held together much more after resting in the refrigerator.  So it would be better to let the loaf settle and cool a bit after you take it from the oven. We were just too hungry.

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Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

There are a million vegan egg salad recipes out there! I have tried a few, and I thought I had it figured out. Then one day, I combined a few different recipes along with a twist of my own and came up with what I think is the perfect vegan egg salad. I really enjoy this and I know you will, too.

I don’t fear a little tofu

If you don’t already know… Organic tofu is alright with me.  Ever since going plant-based and focusing on whole foods versus processed foods, I don’t fear soy. I am in control of how much soy comes into my life. I make my own meals and rarely eat out. If I were still consuming mostly a standard American Diet and still eating soy and tofu along with all of that soy lecithin and soy oil and soy fed animals, etc… I would be worried about it.

Soy is a highly genetically modified food, I believe somewhere around 90% of the crops are GMO. You have to be very careful. Only choose organic tofu from a good responsible brand you recognize or research.

Another reason that I don’t fear tofu or fermented soy is knowing that Dr. T. Colin Campbell can turn his cancer patients around on a plant-based diet that has some tofu and whole food/fermented soy involved. So why be so afraid? It certainly helps add fun to the vegan diet. Btw, I am not talking soy protein isolate here.

I remember a great interview I watched with Dr. Christine Horner talking with Dr. Mercola, and she really explained breast cancer and estrogen and the difference between plant estrogen and the evil estrogen that actually contributes to breast cancer. It is eye opening and nice to relieve the fear. You can watch the video or read the article here.

Here she talks about flax and soy falls into the phytoestrogen category as well:

“I hear from patients, “Oh! My oncologist told me not to take flaxseeds, because they’re estrogenic,”” Dr. Horner says.”They don’t understand how plant estrogens or “phytoestrogens” work.

There are all sorts of different strengths to estrogens. Let’s say estradiol, which is the strongest, most abundant form– if it hooks on to the estrogen receptor, it may cause a thousand cell divisions. But if a plant estrogen hooks on, it may cause one. When you flood your system with these plant estrogens, I’d say it’s kind of like a game of musical chairs. There are only certain numbers of receptors, and whoever gets their first, gets it. They’re blocking the strong estrogens from getting on, so that’s why it has an inhibitory effect.”

~ Dr. Christine Horner

If you read that article – Just for the record – I don’t agree with Dr. Mercola about eating grass fed beef. Grass fed, organic or pampered like a family member before slaughter… Meat has No fiber, No disease fighting phytochemicals and is still too high in calories and fat and lowest in nutrients compared to other foods, so why bother? Not to mention, all cows headed for consumption have to stand in this line.  Why tap into fear and anxiety energy? By consuming it, we become it.

Fiber

It’s one of those things I always thought only old people had to worry about. Little did I know fiber is SO damn important for all of us at any and every age. It helps to rid the body of toxins and excess hormones as well as help with weight management.  I choose not to get excess hormones from dairy. Yes, even organic and raw milk has natural growth hormones. A lot of them!  Being that I have less hormones to remove from my system, I don’t see soy as a big threat.

I have realized that beef and meat Agri-giants have something to do with a lot if not most of the negative studies that come out against soy. They have the money to fund ’em and push the ones that have miniscule findings against their end goal. They make money when you eat more beef, not more soy. If you eat all the soy, what in the world will they feed their cows and chickens? Oh my!

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Let’s get back to the recipe!

A few things to note… I tried fresh lemon juice and zest in this and it’s OK… I don’t like lemony egg salad. If you love lemon and have to add it,  just add a touch to bring out flavor, but I think you will find this is flavorful enough on it’s own.

I also ran out of regular Dijon this last time and used whole grain Dijon. Wow! It really added quite a spicy kick. It was good though!! If you like that sort of thing, great.. if not pay attention to your Dijon and maybe add less to start, even with the regular Dijon. This is where the dash of agave came to play… it cuts the spice and rounds things out. I prefer it in the recipe.

Instead of using vegan mayo to mix things up… my special twist that makes this so creamy and hearty is cashew cream. When I have it on hand, I remember to make this salad. I love cashew cream for topping so many things, from baked sweet potatoes, to burritos, to chili… I used to use Tofutti but I rarely ever do now that I make cashew cream. I even use this as a sandwich/wrap spread from time to time. I love it more than vegan mayo that I usually make, as I can cut back on the soy/ tofu and enjoy it other places… such as in this egg salad!

Black Sea Salt – You have to have this on hand to make “egg” dishes taste egg like. I use The Spice Lab brand.

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 – 12 oz Package of Organic Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1/2 Cup Carrot, grated
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion, diced very small
  • 3 Stalks of Celery, diced very small
  • 2 Tbs Sliced Almonds (2 heaping Tbs)
  • 2 Tbs Chives or Green Onion, chopped small
  • 2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Agave
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp or more of Black Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Cup, (plus 1 or 2  if needed) Tbs Cashew Cream (See Below)

Directions

Drain the Tofu while preparing the other ingredients. Line a plate with paper towels, place tofu on top and cover with the paper towels. I like to put a clean kitchen towel on top at this point. Place something heavy on top of everything so that the weight pushes the liquid out of the tofu. I like to use a stack of  large heavy plates. You can also buy a tofu press. I really need to order one!

Place all of the ingredients in to a medium sized bowl and crumble in the drained tofu while squeezing out any excess liquid that remains. Mix and fold all ingredients with a spatula until well blended and evenly colored (turmeric).

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Refrigerate to chill and incorporate the flavors.

Cashew Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/4 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp Curry Powder ( I don’t always add this, but lately I have. More flavor!)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Sea Salt (Pink Salt)
  •  Favorite Non Dairy Milk or Filtered Water

Directions

Soak the Cashews in purified water for 2 hours + or overnight. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and place them in your high speed blender or Vitamix along with the other ingredients except for the milk or water. Blend until creamy. Use the non dairy milk or filtered water a little at a time to adjust the dressing to your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasonings and it’s ready. Also note that it will thicken a bit when refrigerated.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Magic Miso Noodle Soup

magic miso noodle soup

Well isn’t this fitting… my last post was all about cookies and sugar and this post is all about warm soup to help soothe your body while you fight the flu. Because alllllll that sugar leads to a defenseless immune system! I know better! The funny thing is, I think I only had like 5 or 6 cookies and the rest are in my freezer. I didn’t go crazy, so I know it wasn’t the few cookies alone that invited the flu into our home.

A few weeks back I remember shuffling my deck of Angel cards, asking for whatever message was meant for me that day. I pulled the “body care” card. I was frustrated and I thought, how many more vegetables can one person eat? What do the Angels want me to do? It’s funny how you can see things in hind-sight, because now I see what happened…. a lot of late, late nights studying for a new class I’m taking mixed with Christmas stress and late work nights (on school nights) doing other people’s hair. I’m taking care of everyone else so that they look good for the holidays and I realize now that the last person I was taking care of was myself. This is how it’s been for many years. Maybe this flu will shake some sense into me. I need to revisit the concept of Honor Self.

So for now it’s warm soup, warm tea and a lot of rest!

We have all heard people say that there is just something about chicken noodle soup when you are sick. Well, it certainly has NOTHING to do with the chicken. I can promise you that chicken holds no magic. On the contrary, chicken has very little nutritional value. It’s not the chicken, it’s the sodium via broth that our body craves to put us back in balance and the noodles give us energy to fight those nasty bugs. See? Isn’t it nice to know this? Now we have one less excuse. Being vegan, you can still have magic soup when you are sick, because it’s all about the broth…. veggie broth.

I remembered reading somewhere that miso soup is Alicia Silverstone’s favorite soup when she is sick. Alicia knows a thing or two about good, kind food, being vegan herself; but I couldn’t find a recipe for miso soup on her site. Perhaps it’s in her cookbook? I didn’t look really hard being so sick. I just came up with my own recipe and it turned out really good. I want to share my soup with my fellow sick warriors out there. Consider this a warm healing hug via bowl of soup. It’s fast to prepare so you can be back under the blankets in no time!

You know what they say? There is just something about miso noodle soup…

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 large Shallot, chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, Minced
  • 1 Cup of Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 Cup Organic Mellow White Miso
  • 7 or 8 oz (1/2 block) of Tofu, cubed
  • Noodles (I had a package of Japanese style ready-to-use noodles on hand)
  • 2 large handfuls of Spinach
  • Organic Soy Sauce to taste

Directions

In a medium pot, heat a little bit of water or vegetable broth and cook the shallots, garlic and mushrooms over medium heat until soft. Keep adding water if necessary.

Add 4 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil.

Add miso, noodles and tofu cubes and heat through. Add spinach and let it wilt in. Add soy sauce to taste.

Pour the soup into a serving bowl and enjoy.

*Notes: I never thought I would be so happy to have ready-to-eat noodles in my pantry. I probably would have never used these otherwise. The noodles just needed to be warmed up. If you have regular noodles, cook them in a separate pot and then add the cooked noodles to the soup. Also, I always have miso on hand because quite a few recipes in the “Forks over Knives” handbook and cookbook I like to use, call for it. If you haven’t tried those recipes, you should. Be sure to get organic miso!

The only thing that would makes this soup better is if someone else could make it for you! I just can’t help you out there… I had to make my own soup, too.

Let’s get well soon!

~The Karmatarian

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New Traditions: 24 Holiday Worthy Plant-Based-Vegan Main Dishes

“Now is the Thyme to start a new Thanksgiving tradition: Adopt a turkey!”
~Farm Sanctuary

“When a sense of consciousness informs our actions, when our intentions reflect kindness and nonviolence, when our thoughts turn to someone else’s needs rather than our own desires, there is no denying that something profound takes place. In the absence of suffering, there is peace. In the presence of compassion, there is joy.” ~The Vegan Table

Hey everyone, meet Thyme. One very lucky turkey. Notice the heart on Thyme’s neck? He’s my son’s choice for our annual adopt-a-turkey tradition through Farm Sanctuary. I had my eye on a cuter turkey, but when I expressed my opinion, my son quickly scolded me “NO he’s the cutest!”. Ok! And there you have it…

Thanksgiving~  Such a tough holiday for many of us, knowing the grim outlook for 46 million of these gentle spirits. Exactly how did turkeys become the centerpiece for a holiday of thanks and gratitude? We do have so much to be grateful for and a beautiful feast helps us to express that, but there are no rules. Traditions can be altered and improved.

99% of turkeys are factory farmed birds and have absolutely nothing to be thankful for. The conditions are grim. The truth is brutal. Click this link to meet your Butterball turkey and witness your typical store bought bird’s life experience before making it to your plate. Warning: the video is disheartening and will make you angry. You certainly don’t have to watch it, but a good rule of thumb to remember is, if it’s not good enough for your eyes, it should not be good enough for your stomach.

Did you know…

Although the turkey as the centerpiece of of the holiday dinner is deeply entrenched in our society, diners at the original 1621 Pilgrim’s feast made no mention of turkey as part of their meal. In fact, turkey only became popular as a Thanksgiving staple in the mid-twentieth century, after decades of MEDIA PROMOTION and breeding of the white, domesticated turkeys exploited by factory farms today.

~ Farm Sanctuary

…Ok, so we were pushed into this tradition of serving up turkey, so why not opt out? We have plenty of information about the truth of factory farming and the ill affects of meat in our diets. While Thanksgiving might not be the day for optimal healthy eating, it can still be held consciously and kindly.

I have learned one thing throughout the past few years being vegan, which has lead me to actually enjoy this holiday.

HONOR SELF.

GO WHERE YOU ARE CELEBRATED, NOT JUST TOLERATED. And that is a general lesson. Life is too short and just because most of society celebrates one way, figure out a way that makes you happy. Or find a compromise. It’s a tough holiday for an ethically minded vegan. No doubt about it.

I am excited to be hosting Thanksgiving this year for my husband, my son and a dear friend and her daughter (who are new to choosing vegan). We have decided to compromise by enjoying a kind holiday feast and then head separately to our family’s homes for dessert.

Dessert is easy to veganize and bring along quietly, without anyone even suspecting a thing, and dessert makes everyone happy. See? I don’t give family a reason to antagonize me about my Tofurkey, nor do I have to listen to them rave about how juicy their dead bird is this year, compared to last.

Being thankful for the life and abundance we are given is not dependent upon how juicy the turkey is. It’s just not. But sadly it has come to something like this here in the USA.

Actually, I don’t do Tofurkey.  But I appreciate the alternative choice that it represents. Maybe I cooked it wrong? Who knows? It didn’t turn out well for me. I love all the newer options from Gardein and Field Roast.

I put together a list of home cooked meal ideas for you from around the internet. I have found some wonderful main dishes that not only have the traditional flavors of the holiday, but are appealing to the senses.

Meat free main dishes are important and take more effort to plan out. Side dishes and desserts are easy. Many of which are your own family traditional recipes that are surprisingly easy to veganize with some thoughtful substitutions like earth balance in place of butter, egg replacers, and your choice of non dairy milks that are on the market.

A main dish on our plate expressing the idea of something special is what I was looking for, not every day meal kinda stuff. I am also not worrying about perfect “healthy” oil free dishes for the holiday. After all, in general, it is a holiday known for a few more heart attacks. Shame on society. But luckily for us with a vegan menu, nothing in these main dishes would send you to the emergency room. See? Peace of mind… and heart.

Ok, here we go…

24 Holiday Worthy Plant-Based/Vegan Main Dishes

1. Mushroom, Lentil and Wild Rice Timbales with Impromptu Vegan Mushroom Gravy – This is my favorite! I have made this recipe twice. Beautiful presentation, with all the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving.

2. Baked Acorn Squash with Chestnuts, Apples and Leeks – I might be making this one.Looks like a winner!

3. Sweet Potato Lenti Pie – Adorable single serving pies  with good combination of textures.

4. Butternut Squash Ravioli with Garlic and Sage Sauce – A recipe I have wanted to try for a while now

5. Seitan Roulade with Chestnut Stuffing – Unique and sure to impress

6. Flaky Harvest Vegetable Squares – Be sure to brush with olive oil instead of egg

7. Baked Apples with Wild Rice and Quinoa – Make sure the mushroom broth is vegan, sub vegan cream cheese and ditch the optional cheddar. I am sure these will be fabulous.

8. Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna – My Dad made this one recently. It’s a little bit of work but worth it!!!

9. Maple and Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash with Tofu, Raisins and Walnuts – This is one of my personal creations. It will fill your home with the best aromas, very inviting for your guests this holiday

10. Jeni’s Lentil and Mushroom Loaf with Savory Potato Filling – A lot of fun textures and a nice meal centerpiece

11. Nava’s Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie – It’s all in one for a simpler holiday. Very pretty.

12. Millet Loaf – I love millet! I am thinking to add sage and pecans in place of sunflower seeds on this one.

13. Celebration Pot Pie with Pumpkin Biscuit Crust – Wonderful and comforting. I know my son would LOVE this one!

14. The Smoky Tofu Sweet Potato Stacker – Looks impressive with different textures. Reminds me of a Cheescake Factory dish.

15. Harvest Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms Beautiful

16. Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms – Another Portabello recipe. Portabellos are hearty. Use baby or large mushrooms for this.

17. Tofu Stuffed with Brown Rice and Mushroom Dressing – Another hit from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

18. Squashducken – Elegant and sophisticated but remember to substitute Earth Balance for the Butter

19. Black Bean and Pecan Butter Sauce over Grilled Eggplant and Sauteed Spinach – Gorgeous and another “meaty” texture like portabellos.

20. Holiday Ham Recipe from Caribbean Vegan – Festive!

21. Pineapple Glazed “Ham” – I have always wanted to try this recipe. It looks so pretty on the platter.

22. Field Roast Celebration Roast – A store bought vegan roast, but I like this company! Their other products taste great so this is bound to as well. Definitely not gluten free.

23.  Currant-Maple Citrus loaf – Which is just a Celebration Roast (above) with Zest! Looks much prettier than the plain roast.

24. Holiday Roast by gardein – Who doesn’t love gardein? It’s sure to be wonderful for someone who doesn’t want to fuss. They also have single servings for those having a low key celebration.

 …And I bet I could find a million more great recipes out there. One thing a vegan has is an abundance of great food!

I love to see photos of food! You can view the wonderful mouth watering photos of all these links  here on my Pinterest page. Follow me there as well. I will be adding more photos and a part 2 blog post with side dishes and desserts in just a few days, so be sure to check back!

Check out these wonderful short videos, both turkey rescues that will warm your heart and remind you that there are good people out there in the world.

Rescued Turkeys

Turkey Rescue

Here is a heart warming family documentary to watch that will change your views forever about wild turkeys, watch this PBS special “My Life as a Turkey” by Joe Hutto  I felt that it was really touching and well done.

My Life as a Turkey

“The symbolism surrounding the Thanksgiving turkey, much like the modern domestic turkey himself, has been largely manufactured by cynical commercial interests. There is neither compelling historical precedent nor meaningful rationale for associating the butchered carcass of a turkey with our national day of thanksgiving.”

~ Farm Sanctuary


Read more about the history of Thanksgiving here

See all of these recipes in one easy place on Pinterest

Enjoy the journey,

~The Karmatarian

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Baked Sweet Potato with Black Beans, Chives and Cashew Cream

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

~ Leonardo da Vinci

What ever happened to keeping it simple? All this fancy foo foo food out there trying to over-impress and complicate everything. Sometimes my brain goes on gourmet overload, and then I don’t know what to make for dinner. The bar is being raised out there by food bloggers and Pinterest on a daily basis. 

I do enjoy fancy food from time to time. For everyday, I just want something that looks appealing, tastes amazing, fuels my body in a healthy way but it doesn’t have to be all “beetle juice”. Beetle juice is the term I like to use for artsy fartsy. Speaking of insects, I have a bit of a spider sense when people or places that write about or serve food are trying a little too hard to be different. There is a fine line. Sometimes I just don’t have the patience. Yet, I am a little guilty of crossing the beetle juice line once in a while for the fun and art of it. But for the most part. I enjoy real food…. I also enjoy looking at photographs while holding them in my hands. So long are those days.

Most times, I want simple, real and fast for dinner. Not every day goes according to my daily planner and I am squeezed for time. Rushing often leaves little spark for creativity. Even pressed for time, I still want to get something out on the table that is healthy and enjoyable. This dish has quickly become a family favorite. It is only quick if you microwave it. We don’t do that!!! But it’s a simple meal with a few ingredients. Throw a side salad into the mix or finish with dessert and you will be pretty much stuffed. I guarantee it. We enjoyed this last week with no salad and no dessert and we ended up stuffed. Who knew this could be such a filling meal? I couldn’t even finish what I had on my plate. We may have munched on cucumbers and hummus as an appetizer, like we often do, but I can’t recall. I am pretty sure we didn’t. Either way, this will be enough food. Don’t worry.

Sometimes we (or maybe I ) just need to be reminded that dinner can be simple. And it’s ok. It’s great, actually. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the simple dishes that we can make, because we forget about them while thinking about dishes and ingredients we can’t even pronounce.

Cashew cream sauce might seem fancy to you but it is so simple! It is a healthy alternative to sour cream, dairy or vegan. It’s now taking the place of Tofutti brand sour cream here and we are not complaining one bit! It’s versatile and can be used for many other dishes. I used it the next day for an eggless egg salad recipe instead of vegan mayo. In other words, don’t spend money on Tofutti or vegan mayos. Buy cashews instead!

If you have any whole food topping ideas to share, let me hear them. I am looking to change this recipe up a few different ways. But I feel that this one will be in the rotation for a while because these flavors do go well together.

Baked Sweet Potato with Black Beans, Chives and Cashew Cream

Ingredients

  • Large Sweet Potatoes
  • Black Beans (if I am going for fast, I use canned organic black beans from our local Meijer grocery store. They contain only 100 mg of sodium per serving. You can cook and freeze your own beans for later use, too.)
  • Chives, chopped
  • *Optional – Olive Oil

Ingredients for the Cashew Cream

  • 1 + 1/4 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Sea Salt (Pink Salt)
  • *Optional – Favorite Non Dairy Milk or Filtered Water

Directions

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the cashews in a bowl and fill to cover with filtered water. Set aside to soak. It is ideal to soak for at least 2 hours – to overnight, but I’m assuming you are throwing dinner together here!

Wash sweet potatoes, air or pat dry and brush the outside skin with olive oil. (This is optional. I have done this each time I make these. I don’t eat the skins, but my husband does. By all means, try it with no oil and let me know how it goes).

Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Depending on how large or small the potatoes are, you may want to be flexible on the cooking time. Potatoes are done when easily pierced through with a knife. When potatoes are done, remove and pierce the skin several times to let out the steam. Make a slit in the center of each potato, lengthwise and push in and up from the ends, if you want to be all fancy. Or just slice and place open face onto a plate. Texturize them using a fork, if you prefer, so your toppings won’t slide off!

Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and place them in your high speed blender or Vitamix along with the other ingredients except for the milk or water. Blend until creamy. Use the non dairy milk or filtered water, if necessary, to adjust the dressing to your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasonings and it’s ready.

Chop your chives.

Get your beans ready to go.

Top your baked sweet potato.

Dinner is served.

Enjoy

~The Karmatarian

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Spaghetti with Mushrooms, Spinach and Tomatoes in a Garlic Wine Sauce

Simple. Light. Perfect for a Summer evening dinner out on the patio. It’s gluten free, vegan and low fat (oil free), but you will need to finish off that bottle of white wine… but who’s complaining?

My summer is picking up and I’ve really been enjoying it. I hope you are enjoying yours. I managed to style 15 updo’s for Cirque du Soleil performers and staff a few weeks ago with the help of a good friend. We got to enjoy the show from very good seats and my little guy LOVED it! It made me so happy. Also happy that no animals were involved. I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it was to discover the abuse that goes on toward such majestic elephants and wild animals for the traditional circus. I recommend watching Earthlings if you haven’t yet. And boycott the old circus at all costs! The Dralion or any Cirque show is worth saving up your money and taking your family out for a memorable day.

… Another happy vegan moment. Finding cute cowboy boots – man made material! I have been looking for a pair for a few years and unfortunately it was tough, so I stopped looking. Last week, I ran into a cute little store here called Francesca’s Collections and I spotted them, they actually fit, and off I went to a country concert…. Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney! Brothers of the Sun tour. Who wouldn’t have a fabulous time seeing these two hotties perform?

Next on the agenda, we rented a cute little lake house for some fun in the sun…. I hope to take some time to evaluate life and set some goals for the future in a quiet natural setting.  There’s no chance of getting on the computer as I was told there is no internet access. This might be really interesting to see how addicted I honestly am to technology. I might just go a little crazy, but maybe not? We’ll find out, won’t we?

Spaghetti with Mushrooms, Spinach and Tomatoes in a Garlic Wine Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 – 16 oz Package of Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti Pasta (gluten free)
  • Vegetable Broth (approximately 2 cups but I just had a carton on hand and freely used it as needed)
  • 8 oz container of Baby Bella, white or Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 Cup chopped Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 package of fresh Spinach leaves (about 2-3 large handfuls)
  • Your choice Tomatoes, either  3 chopped Roma or 1/2 container of sliced Grape Tomatoes (I made it both ways and liked it either way)
  • 1/2 Cup of good White Wine (that you will enjoy drinking with your dinner)
  • 1/4 Cup of Nutritional Yeast
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Heat a large shallow pan over medium to high heat and add a splash of vegetable broth. Once heated, add mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes until soft adding vegetable broth as needed. Remove mushrooms to a medium bowl.

Add more broth (just enough to cook) to the pan if necessary, return to heat and add the onion, cook until translucent and stir in garlic and cook 2 minutes more adding broth as it cooks so not to burn or stick to the pan. Remove these to the bowl with the mushrooms.

Return the pan to the heat and add more broth, heat and add spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Bring back the mushrooms, onions and garlic to the pan with the spinach and add the tomatoes. Add more vegetable broth if needed and add the white wine and cook until slightly reduced, add about a cup of vegetable broth (or how much you prefer) and cook for 5 minutes until everything is heated through and tomatoes are softened. Add nutritional yeast and the salt and pepper to taste…. stir and heat through.

Top the pasta with sauce and veggies and enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

A few fun pics….

Fun with the girls at the Brothers of the Sun concert… check out my vegan boots! (I’m on the right) :)

Me and my little guy at the United Center to see Cirque Du Soleil – The Dralion

… and Michael Jordan’s “legs”… lol

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Gluten Free – Spinach and “Cheese” Lasagna Bites

“Genetics account for a very small percentage of health issues – habits run in families and habits determine health outcomes” ~Pam Popper, Ph.D., N.D.

Recently, I heard about a nutritionist who ate vegan for many years and now claims that she developed diabetes because of it. She isn’t vegan anymore. I am very disappointed to hear this as this person, who is held in high regard by her clients, tells them what to eat, but shys away from telling them to omit animal products from their diet.

Omitting animal products can save lives and can reverse such things as type 2 diabetes. But you have to eat properly regarding the rest of your diet! Her deep rooted fear and negative experience is now rippling out and doing a lot of damage. She could very well be helping to cut some unlucky person’s life short! After discussing this with my former mentor from the T. Colin Campbell foundation, I felt better, but just a little. It was, however, good to talk with someone of sound mind.

We discussed the fact that ALL credible nutritional science points to a whole foods plant based diet for optimal health. A high fat diet and fat in our cells can help to trigger diabetes, which is why it is important to limit our fat and oil intake and reject sugar, refined, processed, and animal products.

This nutritionist is not admitting what her old diet consisted of, but I can place bets that it contained a lot of processed food, sugar and fat. Not to mention supplements and gimmicks. She happens to work in the “health store” industry. If she told us to eat our fruits and veggies and that all of our problems would disappear, as far as she is concerned, her business would disappear.

To quote myself and my famous phrase: Any diet can be a bad diet if you don’t understand nutrition, especially a vegan diet.

The moral of the story is, be careful who you seek advice from. Do they have ulterior motives? Are they healthy? What do they eat? Do they have a lot of stress in their lives? Finally, are they a person with positive or negative energy? If you notice the latter, RUN! Don’t give these people your time or money.

It’s important to find someone who’s ethics align with that of your own. You won’t do yourself any favors if you seek out someone who is all for meat and dairy if that’s not what you want to be recommended. Not many people including doctors and nutritionist have the will power to let food be thy medicine.

It would be wise not to talk to people who lack the ability to understand where you are coming from, or where you want to go. Don’t take advice from those who don’t have the will power themselves to seek out alternatives to their own problems. Look for mentors and advisers who are up to speed on latest nutritional science, who are of sound mind and have positive energy and will not project their own fears onto you. 

If there is a will, there is a way. Too often, people look for excuses and justification to give up. If you are not careful, you will attract this type of advice into your life which can totally ruin a good thing.

Nutrition can be a dense and hard topic made very simple with a whole foods plant based diet. The reality is, many people don’t want a simple answer to their problems, just as a lot of people don’t want to be drama free, even though they say they do. Life would be far too easy going. Who in the world would want that?!

There are two fantastic books are out about reversing and even curing Diabetes. They are a must read for you or a loved one that may be suffering from this disease. Visit my store to see these titles.

On to the recipe… This dish was fun and delicious! I made it for Easter. I think it could easily be made oil free by subbing water to make it more blend-able, maybe a little lemon juice? You’ll just have to play, because I did add oil to this one.

These are party friendly! My cousin made a similar recipe as stuffed shells, (she’s the one who gave me this idea, thanks D!) and it was a hit among everyone. But I can’t seem to find large gluten free pasta shells anywhere, and since I was bringing these for family who prefer a gluten free diet, lasagna bites they became.

There are no gobs of melted dairy cheese on top like in the days of old. Now it’s texture and flavor without all of that heavy fat and cholesterol.

Gluten Free – Spinach and “Cheese” Lasagna Bites

Ingredients

  • 2 Jars of your favorite Pasta Sauce
  • 1 Package of Tinkyada’s Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles
  • 1/2 – 1 Cup of Crushed Cashews

Cheese Filling

  •  2 Cups Soaked Cashews
  • 1 Cup Spinach. Use Frozen, Thawed and Squeezed of Excess Liquid
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 + 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Plain Almond Milk
  • 3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Italian Herbs
  • 1Tbsp Agave
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Chives
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • Sea Salt to taste

 Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Give the cashews, for the topping, a whiz around in the food processor, so that there are multiple textures, fine and chunky. Set aside.

Boil the Tinkyada noodles until done but still remaining firm. (For whatever reason I never boil this brand as long as the directions say, or they get too mushy.)

While the pasta is boiling, blend all of the ingredients for the cheese filling  *except the spinach* in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt if needed, then gently mix in the spinach by hand.

Layer the bottom of two 9 x 13 pans with a few spoonfuls of pasta sauce.

When the noodles are done remove them from the boiling water, drain and let them cool enough to touch. Take each noodle and cut it into thirds crosswise.

Fill each section with a spoonful of filling, roll and place seam side down. Line them up in two columns in the prepared 9 x 13 pan.

Cover with lots of pasta sauce and sprinkle each with crushed cashews, cover both pans with tin foil and bake for about 30 minutes, remove tinfoil and continue to bake 5 -7 minutes longer, until cashews are a light golden brown.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Let’s Stay Together Veggie Burgers

Let’s Stay Together Veggie Burgers

Lately, I have been experiencing some good kitchen mojo. Two recipes posted in one week!? Why not? Lucky me and lucky you!

Summer is coming, and you (and I) absolutely have to have a great veggie burger recipe. Trust me, I have been looking around the web for good recipes for a long time. Most disappoint in either texture or flavor and they always fall apart while cooking. Frustrating! I am sure that I’ve been looking in all the wrong places because the technique I use in this recipe, which I discovered is KEY for a stay-together burger, has to already be out there somewhere, I just never found it.

So in creating this amazing burger that retains it’s shape while cooking and is easily re-shapable if need be, I believe I found my new burger base! I have some good ideas for variations, which I can’t wait to try.

You can omit the oil and skip the frying. Just grill or bake and save yourself a few fat calories. However, I used one Tablespoon of oil, just barely enough to fry. My oven was already in use, see below, but when this weather heats up here, I’ll be grilling.

For a side dish, I cut up and oven roasted small red potatoes that I bathed in low sodium veggie broth and sprinkled with fresh rosemary.

Note: To make these gluten free, use gluten free oats. Omit the Worcestershire sauce and try using organic gluten free Tamari Soy sauce instead. Perhaps with ketchup instead of barbeque sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 Can of Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • 3/4 Cup Frozen Veggie Medley, Thawed ( I used Organic Foursome from Trader Joe’s, with peas, corn, carrots and green beans)
  • 1 C Short Grain Brown Rice
  • 1/4 C Oats
  • 2 Tbs Barbeque Sauce or to taste (No high fructose corn syrup. I used Trader Joe’s Bold and Smokey Kansas City Style)
  • Dash of Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (The Wizard’s brand)
  • Dash of Liquid Smoke
  • 1/4 tsp  or more Minced Garlic (jarred or fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
  • 1 Tbs Grape Seed Oil

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients, mix, taste and adjust the seasonings. You can do this and not die of E.coli poisoning… that’s the beautiful thing about plant based cooking! Anyway, spice these up how you like ’em!

Take a potato masher and mash some of the red beans, just so you have a mix of texture in your burger

Then, take half of this mixture and put it into a food processor. Pulse, until well blended and mushy, but still with remaining texture. Add this back to the bowl with the other half of the mixture and blend well together. Now it should resemble raw ground turkey burgers or raw hamburger with veggies in it. Shape the mixture into patties and pan fry, grill or bake! Voila.

If your kids (like my little guy, who is going through an anti-bean phase) or significant other, hates beans, you can combine everything on the ingredient list but the beans, put half of the mixed ingredients into the food processor along with all of the beans and process (this way, you blend all of the beans so you don’t see ’em).

A little Al Green for your entertainment…

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Awesome Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit.
When one is free from physical disabilities
and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.
~B.K.S. Iyengar

We eat with our eyes first. So have fun with color! These are green house grown “stop light” colored peppers that I used for this recipe. I also used Trader Joe’s Beef-Less Crumbles. This isn’t necessary, you could certainly and easily substitute beans. But if you are leaning into a plant based lifestyle and want your family along for the ride, I think it’s perfectly fine to partake in vegan meatless products, every now and then. Let me rephrase… On rare occasion. Your family won’t even notice that anything bad for them is missing from this classic recipe, as long as you keep quiet about it!

I used to love making stuffed peppers from a recipe out of my ancient Betty Crocker cookbook. The pages in that book are now a lovely shade of brown, it’s that old. Those outdated ways of cooking are fading away and times are changing. We are all experiencing 5 universal energy. People are popping up everywhere who are curious about healthy food and how they can take control and redirect their health with diet, rather than rely on pills. And unfortunately, others are overdosing. But hey, that’s 5 energy for you! 

One taste of these healthy stuffed peppers, and you won’t remember the days of black and white. It’s all about the colors and variety of fruits and veggies that work so hard for you (unlike animal products) with antioxidants and phyto-nutrients keeping you disease free. And we need these now, more than ever! I made this without adding extra oil, so they are also quite low in fat.

Awesome Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 6 Colored Peppers (I used 2 packages of stop light colored peppers)
  • 6 tops from the peppers, diced
  • 1, 12 oz Package of Trader Joe’s Beef-Less Crumbles (or your favorite brand)
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Cup Frozen Sweet Corn Kernels, thawed
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Cup Cooked Organic Brown Rice
  • 1 Can Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, No Salt
  • 3-4 Tbs (Heaping) Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomato, Pasta Sauce
  • 1/8 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbs Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt

Directions

Heat oven to 350

Cook brown rice according to package directions. I followed the directions for 1 cup dry/4-6 servings, because I like leftovers. Remember that brown rice takes forever, so you could do this ahead of time.

Bring a large stock pot filled with water to a boil. Wash the peppers and cut the tops off. Clean the insides of the peppers and remove the stems from the tops. Dice the tops of all six peppers and set aside. Blanch the cleaned peppers in boiling water for about 5 minutes, remove, drain and let cool on a towel.

Heat the vegetable broth in a large skillet, add diced pepper tops, onion and garlic to the pan and cook to soften for a few minutes.

Add the thawed corn and cook another minute. Add the beef-less crumbles and cook another two or three minutes until heated through. Add the can of diced tomatoes and pasta sauce, heat through.

Add Worcestershire sauce, nutritional yeast and sea salt. Adjust the seasonings, heat through and add the fresh herbs last. Mix well and transfer everything to a large bowl (unless your skillet is big enough, mine wasn’t). Add 1 cup of cooked rice to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Fill the peppers and place them standing up in casserole dish. Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes.

Optional: At the 25 minute mark, you could take the peppers out of the oven and sprinkle with bread crumbs and or nutritional yeast and then bake for the remaining 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Enjoy!

 ~The Karmatarian

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Power C Tempeh Over Minted Tricolor Quinoa

My cousin Rocks! She started researching food production and she took her new shock and awe and did exactly what I did… she turned that energy into something productive. She is very much on board with the vegan/raw movement and she is making the important and necessary changes for the health of her family. I am so proud of her!

Hard at work in the kitchen, she’s experimenting and trying new dishes that not only taste good, they are good for you. The best part is, she shares her good finds with me. She is an awesome cook! How exciting that I could just relax at her family parties, knowing I can graze on anything at the table! Could there be a family raw/vegan restaurant in our future? We might just change our family’s reputation from the family of Hair Stylists (although she isn’t a Hair Stylist, she escaped that gene, lucky her) to the family of passionate and healthy foodies. I am all good with that! My other cousin, sister and dad are also on the right train… My dad being very much vegan now, and wow did he turn his health around!

Recently, my cousin served this Tempeh recipe she found, at her daughter’s birthday party. It was so delicious! I went home and had to make it, but of course I didn’t have the exact ingredients on hand… so this is the twist I came up with. It got rave reviews!  At least I hope my husband wasn’t just being nice. He happens to be a great taste tester (and sport) for my recipes. Some days he gets a little luckier than others! And we are still talking about the food here.

Power C Tempeh over Minted Tricolor Quinoa

Ingredients

  • 1- 8 oz package of Tempeh
  • 1 Cup Tricolor Quinoa (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 tsp Concentrated Vegetable Broth (I like Better than Bouillon brand)
  • 1 Cup Naked Brand Power C Smoothie
  • 1 Tbs Grated Ginger
  • 1 Tbs Rice Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 tsp Tamari
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1-2 Tbs Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Lime
  • Handful of Chopped Mint Leaves
  • Sea Salt

Directions

Fill a medium saucepan with 2 cups water. Rinse quinoa well in cold water and add it to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and add concentrated vegetable broth. Stir, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook down until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, add the Power C smoothie to a bowl. Add the grated ginger, Tamari, rice vinegar, maple syrup, ground coriander and garlic. Mix this and set it aside.

Cut the Tempeh into 3rds, then diagonals, then turn pieces on their side and slice in half again to make thinner triangles. You could even cut these again to make them more bite sized.

Heat the coconut oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat. When heated, add the tempeh and cook 5 minutes per side until golden brown.

Add the Power C mixture and simmer for 10 minutes, being sure to turn the tempeh while simmering.

Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork and add a handful of chopped mint to taste

Serve the tempeh over the minted quinoa,  spoon the sauce over the top and finish it off with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of sea salt, which really helps to bring out the flavors in this dish. Garnish with mint leaves if desired.

Enjoy,

~The Karmatarian

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Tempeh Coconut Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus

Ahhh, feeling like a college kid again. There’s a lot of studying going on over here! My hair is pulled back. I’m sporting my glasses. I’m hanging out in my comfy clothes. My schedule for just about everything is all messed up and I’m staying up late… well past 1 a.m. to read and research, every night.

I’m quite discombobulated regarding time lately. This could easily be someone’s normal life and schedule but certainly not mine. I like routine. A bit boring… but. My effort and temporarily crazed schedule will be well worth it! Education to expand your brain… Priceless. What am I doing? I’m in the midst of obtaining a certification in plant based nutrition! The program is much more in depth than I anticipated which is a pleasant surprise. I couldn’t be more impressed by what I am learning so far and I’m proud of myself for making the time and commitment to better my understanding of this life saving, modern nutrition we call… plant foods. Who knew something so natural, so basic, could save lives? I did, I did, but please… play along!

My outdated, conservative, structured and funded by the meat and dairy industry nutrition education, aka… my nutrition and dietetics degree from a big state university (to tell you how I really feel. Lol) plus thankfully my many years of life experience researching nutrition and trying many different diets personally, I  finally arrive right where I should have started out. I just happened to take a scenic detour through the trendy hair industry to get to this point. Life experience is never a bad thing. I’m here where I belong and I’m that much smarter. This new class helps me feel absolutely justified in why I do what I do. My intuition and path has lead me here for good reason. I have plans. Big Eeeevil plans! Whah-ha-ha-haaa-haaaa!

On to the recipe…

So I guess you are looking for a recipe here… it’s a pretty good one!  I recently cooked up this delicious hearty dish and then whipped it up again for a pot luck party. I was asked for the recipe by several guests… That’s how I know it’s a keeper. I was inspired by a recipe I found on the Whole Foods website and I played around with it and tweaked it using what I had on hand. I changed it enough to post it here but feel guilty taking complete credit.  You can find the link to the original recipe at the bottom of this post. I made this recipe again the original way and I didn’t care for it as much. 

Don’t be fooled by the curry, this dish isn’t that spicy – even my four year old loves this one! We do more flavorful around here over spicy. I sauteed the Tempeh which makes for better color and a nutty flavor. I use whole coconut milk for this because I like a rich sauce and I’ll be honest, I’ll eat a salad for lunch if I am eating this for dinner! It’s worth it! If you are watching your weight, or are unfortunately experiencing strict orders trying to avoid or overcome illness, you can stay away from the oil and whole coconut milk. You can use low fat coconut milk and steam the Tempeh instead of saute! The original calls for green beans but I think asparagus makes this dish fancier, it has more of a gourmet feel…

Tempeh Coconut Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 C organic Brown Rice
  • 2 C Water
  • 1  (8 oz) Package of Organic Tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Sweet Potato, large, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 large bunch fresh Asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbs Coconut Oil
  • 1 + 1/2 C low sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Shallot, large or 2 medium, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs freshly grated Ginger
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can regular Coconut Milk (or light if you prefer)
  • 1 Tbs Curry Powder
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 C chopped Parsley, divided
  • Sea Salt

Directions

Bring rice and water to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is completely absorbed, about forty minutes or so.

While the rice is cooking, saute Tempeh in coconut oil making sure to turn pieces so they brown on all sides.

Next, bring 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth to a simmer in a large deep skillet. Add shallots, garlic and ginger, cook 5 minutes until shallots are translucent and tender. Stir in curry powder and cumin and cook another minute. Add coconut milk and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook until potatoes are almost tender. Add cut asparagus and tempeh and 1/8 cup chopped parsley and cook until everything is tender. Add sea salt, about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp or to taste. Enjoy served over brown rice and sprinkled with remaining parsley for garnish.

Enjoy,

~The Karmatarian

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Original recipe of inspiration

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Chinese Spiced Beefless Tips Over Rice Noodles

Quite the emotional start to my Summer with the passing of my sweet Grandmother. A big life event that understandably set the tone for the rest of the season. And although I have a strong faith about where she now resides, I am waiting patiently for her to give me a sign that she is safe at home wearing her new angel wings. So, missing Grandma, I am feeling kind of melancholy for now. I’m hoping to create some relaxing days in the sun yet to come with gratitude for all things, big and small.  I’ve learned from my Gram that even 95 long years go by way too quick! But until I feel like whoopin’ it up again, I am living vicariously through everyone else and I’m ok with that. This is kind of a working summer for me anyway, being a 4 personal year (numerology). It’s pretty basic. 

My own experience aside, it is my sincere hope that Summer so far has been a fantastic one for all of my fabulous friends and readers!

So I’m thinking about all the wonderful miracles of life growing in gardens everywhere. The need may arise for another great recipe to showcase those robust tomatoes, flavorful green onions and delicious basil to come. Ha… I just like saying the word Rrrobust! This recipe I want to share I never thought I’d see again having gone vegan.  Hard to believe I used to make this with flank steak. Gasp-right?! Then I got my hands on the gardein beefless tips and remembered this old favorite. Now I can proudly share it with you! Even though I started this post off on a mellow tone, this recipe is anything but.

This dish is a fast fix (fast is always welcome) with bold flavor that flirts with spicy. You could amp up the spice if you like.  I’m not a huge spicy food fan, I don’t mind a little, but I really enjoy the spicy flavor in this particular dish.  I make this on rare occasion for a delicious change of pace. It shocks me that it even passed the toddler test. Well maybe I’m not too shocked, it’s pretty good! I have to add that the spice is nicely offset by the simple rice noodles. However, white rice noodles aren’t the usual ’round here, but they certainly make for a great presentation for this. You could substitute whole grain fettuccine or brown basmati rice and your favorite soy sauce sub for a health nut version.

Chinese Spiced Beefless Tips Over Rice Noodles

Ingredients

1/2 bag (about 6 ounces) Trader Joe’s Rice Sticks (Thai Style Pasta) Or 4-6 Oz Wide Rice Noodles

1 Tbs Organic Canola Oil

1/8 Cup Hoisin Sauce

1/8 Cup Trader Joe’s Mango Butter (Or you can use more hoisin sauce. I use the Mango Butter to tone down the spice a bit and to round out the flavors)

3 Tbs Low Sodium Soy Sauce

3/4-1 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder (Usually found in the Asian isle of the supermarket. It consists of Cinnamon, Star Anise, Fennel, Ginger Cloves, White Pepper and Licorice. My taste buds prefer to use 3/4 tsp)

1 tsp Dried Basil or 1 Tbs Fresh Basil, chopped

1 Bag of Gardein Home Style Beefless Tips (frozen 9 Oz bag)

1 large or 2 medium Garlic Cloves, minced

2 Tbs Green Onions, minced

1 large Tomato cut into 8 wedges (If you love tomatoes, you can use 2 medium)

2 Green Onions, cut into 2-inch pieces

How to Prepare

Cook noodles according to package directions, omit salt and fat.

While noodles cook, heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Combine hoisin sauce, mango butter, soy sauce, five spice powder, dried basil (if using fresh basil, add near the end with tomato) set aside.

Once the oil is heated, add package of Gardein Beefless Tips and stir fry for a few minutes to brown.

When Beefless tips are browned and almost heated through add minced garlic and chopped green onion to the pan. Stir fry another minute until garlic and onion are just softened and add sauce mixture. Cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the beefless mixture is hot and lightly bubbling, stir in your tomato wedges and 2-inch green onion pieces (fresh basil now if using). Cover with a lid and cook another 2 minutes until softened and hot. Serve over noodles.

This recipe yields 2 large servings or 3 smaller servings.

It’s always nice to finish a spicy meal with a sweet treat. How about Vegan Chinese almond cookies? Here are two recipes I found. Personally, I would omit the sesame seeds on this first one. This second one looks good and is a bit healthier!

As always, I love to read your thoughts. Keep me posted!

Enjoy!!!

The Karmatarian~

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3-Way Mac-n-Cheese

This dish really ought to be called No Excuses Mac-n-Cheese. Something this creamy and delicious gives us no reason whatsoever to exploit cows for the sake of comfort food.  Besides, there isn’t much comfort knowing dairy cows are the most abused and exploited of all factory farmed animals. Eating vegan mac-n-cheese you get the best of both worlds…. comforting yumminess and peace filling up your heart which might just help you sleep better at night! All it takes is going into your kitchen and doing things a little differently. It’s not that hard. Honestly!

If you’re not there yet, a recipe like this may be what you need to help kick your addiction to Casein. It’s way overdue that humans be weaned. After all, we aren’t calves needing the high of our mother’s Casomorphins which encourage us to stick close to her udders ensuring our nourishment along with IGF1 hormone to support our growth into a Heffer! Still most humans absolutely love cow secretions and walk around high on the breakdown of these bovine hormones waiting to get their next fix. It’s pretty ridiculous when you step back and see it for what it is.

3-Way Mac-n-Cheese

Ok, Let me tell you why it’s 3-way. No need for minds to be wandering. You can make this dish as a casserole two different ways or you can make it simply, noodles and cheese sauce. Did you know traditional mac-n-cheese is one of a toddler’s most consumed food if not number one! Yikes! But you won’t feel bad giving this version to your sweet Angel! Velveeta. Kraft. I shudder just hearing these words. Cheese sauce pouch full of pus and preservatives. Eeeew!  Powdered cheese… Blah! Well this dish doesn’t even compare. Mine blows that crap away! Bonus: Vegan versions won’t clog your arteries or fill you with unwanted growth hormones.  They actually come with a Halo. Well, I don’t know for sure, but there’s a good chance! And there’s three, four or more ways to make this cheese sauce. You can use the blended cashews or not and you can make it with many different kinds of “milk”. If you cannot get your hands on Daiya Cheese shreds (the best vegan invention yet) you can make the casserole version without it, no problem.  And, drum roll please…. Either way, you can make this Gluten and Soy free! So, all bases are covered and we are left with absolutely… No Excuses!

#1 – Basic Noodles and Sauce… a toddler’s favorite  (mine too!)

This is when I want to make a fast bowl of mac and cheese for my three year old and have just a few bites left over for myself. Or if you’re not into sharing, just a big bowl for yourself with no left overs. If you want more, you’ll need to do the math for this recipe. But this is such an easy one to eye-ball.

What you’ll need

1 Cup of Dry Cavatelli Noodles

1 Tbs Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1 Cup of Creamy Plain Almond Milk (I like the kind you find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Whole Foods 365 brand, Wal-Mart sells Silk brand or Almond Breeze, Trader Joe’s now sells their version… or use your favorite.)

1 Cup Daiya Cheese, Cheddar Style Shreds (dairy free, gluten free and soy free!)

1 large pinch of Garlic Powder

1 large pinch of ground Turmeric

about 1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt  (I love this salt, it has 84 trace minerals!)

*Update – I rarely add Earth Balance to this dish anymore, but if you are one that likes extra buttery flavor you might enjoy it. I am trying to cut back on oils wherever possible.

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions.  When done, drain thoroughly. Add 1 Tbs of Earth Balance. Mix and melt it into the noodles.

In a separate pot. Pour in the Almond milk and bring to a light boil. Add Daiya Cheese and stir constantly until it melts all the way.  This seems to take a bit. Patience young grasshopper! You”ll begin to see the mixture thicken…. and thicken until the desired consistency.  You may have to adjust the heat. Add the sea salt, Turmeric and garlic powder and taste to adjust. Add more Daiya cheese if necessary. Feel free to lick the spoon here. Pour the sauce over your cooked Cavatelli noodles, mix and serve!

*Note: My first attempt with this recipe I used large Penne Noodles. It was a No-Go with my son. He likes small shells. I switched, and now he devours this! Picky little things, those toddlers!

Secondly I had no Cheddar Daiya on hand. What to do… what to do… I used the Mozzarella style and added more Turmeric and Paprika for coloring. It was every bit as fabulous!

Thirdly, the first time I tried this with canned coconut milk because I only had vanilla almond milk on hand. And I do not recommend vanilla flavor milk for this. I screwed up  too many other recipes trying this.  Vanilla flavor works best for baking or desserts. I used half of a can of coconut milk due to it’s creamy nature and saved the other half for a green smoothie at a later time. This turned out just as wonderful!


#2 – Mac-n-Cheese Casserole…  A traditional comfort food favorite

What You’ll Need

10-16 oz Pasta  such as Penne    (I used a bag of Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Pasta to make this Gluten Free! Also you don’t want a type of pasta that has too much texture or it will soak up the sauce and end up dry. Use smooth pasta. You don’t really need the whole bag, but it didn’t hurt me to have more cooked noodles on hand)

1 Tbs Olive Oil

1 Can of Coconut Milk plus Water to equal 2 Cups Total Liquid

Or

2 Cups Creamy Plain Almond Milk    (You can also use other milks like hemp, oat, rice or soy. I make it with coconut or almond but hemp would be great too!)

1 Cup Raw Cashews 

2 Tbs Soy Sauce

1/2 tsp Lemon Juice

1/2 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp Paprika

1 tsp or more Sea Salt.

1 tsp Crushed Garlic  (Optional as you can omit and just add more garlic powder)

Large Pinch Garlic Powder

Large Pinch Onion Powder

Pepper, optional

1 + 1/2 Cup Daiya Cheese, Cheddar Style Shreds

Misto Sprayer filled with Olive Oil or your favorite Cooking Spray

1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs, Gluten Free Bread Crumbs or use Toasted and Crumbled Gluten Free Waffles as your topping!

Paprika to sprinkle on top

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and get your 8×8 casserole dish ready.  Make Pasta according to the package directions, drain, return to pot and drizzle with 1 Tbs of Olive Oil so it won’t stick together while you are making the sauce. This also adds to the rich creamy outcome of the sauce.

In a blender, add milk, cashews, soy sauce, lemon juice, turmeric, paprika, sea salt, crushed garlic, garlic powder, onion powder and blend away until thickened. Taste to adjust seasonings and salt. Seems like the salt gets baked away, don’t be afraid to taste the salt here.

Once blended and creamy, transfer to a large pot and heat to a light boil. Add your Daiya Cheese and whisk constantly until it’s all melted. You may have to adjust or raise the heat. When melted, add noodles slowly to the sauce… I may have used 3/4 or less of my 16 oz bag.

Just eye-ball the consistency of your noodles and sauce but it’s fine if it seems a bit saucy because that will bake in, and you certainly don’t want this to turn out dry.

After your noodles are coated, transfer the mixture to your casserole dish and top evenly with bread crumbs and paprika. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, remove and spritz with olive oil and turn your oven to broil. Lightly broil!  Watch it VERY closely here… Broil for about 2 minutes, give or take, until it is a beautiful golden brown. I did this because my casserole did not brown all the way within 15 minutes of baking and you don’t want to over bake this.

Remove, let cool for a minute and dive right in! No fear if you haven’t salted it enough, have your shaker with Himalayan sea salt near by. Problem solved.

# 3 (and 4)

You don’t have Daiya Cheese on hand

If you don’t have Daiya cheese on hand, just add your noodles to the cashew sauce without the step of melting in the Daiya Cheese and then bake in the oven.

Allergic to Cashews?

Cashews makes a fabulous creamy sauce, an idea which I stole from the wonderful world of raw food. I think cashew sauce plus Mozzarella Daiya cheese would make a wonderful Alfredo sauce!

But if you can’t do cashews, then follow the first recipe for basic noodles and sauce but make it into a casserole:

Cook about 10 oz or so of dry pasta

Use 2 cups of your preferred nut, soy or rice milk

Increase your Daiya Cheese from 1 to 2-3 cups

Add more Earth Balance, optional

Make your pasta. Make your sauce. Adjust your seasonings. Mix with noddles and pour into your 8×8 casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and paprika and bake for 15 minutes in a 375 oven until lightly bubbly and brown. See if you need to spritz with oil and broil to brown evenly.

*Note: A lot of vegan recipes call for Nutritional Yeast  especially in mac -n- cheese. Feel free to add it. I used to think I was allergic to nutritional yeast when I first started going vegetarian. It has a lot of fiber! My body was not used to it. It felt like daggers going through my digestive tract. Over time, the body adjusts to fiber such as beans and nutritional yeast. I’m so thankful because now I can’t get enough of this stuff and I do add it to my mac-n-cheese dishes and so many others. So definitely try nutritional yeast in your recipes for added cheesy flavor and vitamin boost. Especially B12. It also contains protein.

So there you have it, many ways to veganize an American classic. Have fun creating and I would love your feedback as always!

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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