Posts tagged recipe

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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3 Minute Mini Coconut Pudding Pies

3 minute mini coconut pudding pies

Dessert is served! In about 3 mins flat. And it’s healthy! Not overpoweringly sweet either. It’s just enough to fill you up and hit the spot after a light plant-based meal. Perfect for Summer.

Here it is… the simple coconut pudding pie I was telling you about. Life Changing! Ok, not really in the grand scheme of things, but still pretty fast and fun. I was playing around with coconut flour in my last post Mandarin Coconut Dressing Over Spring Salad. Coconut flour is in many-a-vegan athlete’s cupboards and I know why. It’s low carb, high protein and high fiber. It’s filling.  A little goes a long way, so be warned. You can do so many things with coconut flour but who knew you could mix it with a non-dairy milk and get an instant “pudding”?

I must STRESS that this won’t taste the same with all milks… You need a sweet milk. I used Silk brand Soy VERY VANILLA. It made all the difference. I tried rice milk and it was pretty good. It was not good with regular almond milk.

I would definitely make this again with the very vanilla soy.

Next, it’s only going to take 3 minutes if you have pre-made mini crusts. Graham cracker crumbs and coconut oil or earth balance buttery spread is all that’s necessary to press into some mini pie pans. You can use those Keebler Ready Crusts. They aren’t perfect, but they are vegan. I’m still alive and I’ve used them before. However, I don’t prefer to use them. Just take a look at the ingredients. Not stellar. But, I saved the little cute tins and just make my own now. You can freeze the crusts so they are ready to go when you want them. Or just take the 2 extra minutes to press the ingredients freshly into a serving dish of your choice. This 3 minute dessert will now be a 5 minute dessert. How awful. Lol.

Here is a great recipe for healthy graham cracker crust over at Chocolate Covered Katie. She has a great vegan dessert blog!

If you want to know more about coconut flour and where to buy online, check out the awesome site Nuts.com

Ingredients and Directions

This is quite informal because it’s really so easy…. you mix coconut flour and very vanilla soy milk with a fork until the right smooth consistency is achieved. I think I started with 1 tablespoon or 2 of flour for three mini tins. Pour the pudding into the pie tins, top with coconut flakes, mini vegan chocolate chips and a few raspberries. Then watch your seven year old’s face light right up!

You could also refrigerate for a while before serving if you like it chilled.

Enjoy!

Christa

~The Karmatarian

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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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Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna – My Review

Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna

If you happen to be plant-based savvy… you may have seen this recipe, tried it, or thought about trying it. It’s featured in the “Forks Over Knives” original handbook, Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue dvd and on the Engine 2 Diet website and possibly more places.

My post is a little story about our Christmas holiday that goes along with my review of this recipe, which I couldn’t wait until I had a reason to make.

As you may know from my earlier post, our family survived the flu this year, thankfully without antibiotics, and I am grateful for that. I am upset we got it at all. Don’t you think Vegans should be exempt?! All of these super bugs stemming from factory farms which we voluntarily choose to disconnect from! This is why us vegans spread the word! Everyone is affected by factory farms. Back to my story, the bottom line is that we had too much crazy energy happening in the weeks prior to Christmas and I believe it was due to the energetic alignment and 12/21, but it sure had us caught off guard. Luckily, we got over the flu before Christmas and we had energy to clean our house before our friends arrived from out of town. We were pretty excited that good friends of ours were staying with us for Christmas!

I will refer to our friends as T and G… because I have no clue if they want to be named in my blog.

Our friends are so dear to us. We have shared many dinners together, great conversation and a million laughs. We are so grateful to know such good-hearted people like T and G!

My husband and I met our friends when we lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, roughly 6 years ago. We were their first American friends, and what an honor! They had just moved to the U.S. from Croatia and we were happy to welcome them. We made sure that they experienced many of our traditions, including Halloween and an all American Thanksgiving.

Times have changed for us… well… food-wise that is. I still dress up for Halloween!

Our family is now a vegan family and T and G are known to eat similar to their culture in Croatia, where dining might as well be the national sport. And because of this, I was trying to come up with a meal plan (being a holiday with no restaurants open) that  everyone would like. I originally thought that I could make something for them that they would enjoy (meat dish), and something that we would enjoy (vegan dish).

The more that I thought about it, the more I could NOT bring myself to do it. It just affirmed for me how far I have come with this vegan thing. It was by no means out of stubbornness or trying to make a point. I just can’t bring myself to purchase meat and bring it into my home. I really feel it’s a bit of a vibrational/energetic/spiritual thing. I have also conditioned myself to cook the opposite of how I used to. I don’t even really remember how to cook meat. I really don’t want to remember how to cook meat. I prefer my kitchen and my body to be light with energy and my counters free from dangerous bacteria. And then there is the whole plant-based nutritionist thing I have going on… feeding meat to my friends would be criminal in my mind and that’s without even touching upon animal rights.

But what would I make? How can I keep everyone happy? Did I mention that T is almost 7 feet tall and and a good sized guy? He will be the first to tell you, he likes his meat and has to have it.

Racking my brain, I remembered this sweet potato lasagna recipe which has been said to be a winner in the plant-based community according to Rip Esselstyn.  Well, if it’s good enough for firefighters, then it has to be filling and satisfying! I also remember that my Dad made this recipe a while back and he told me it was worth all the work involved. He had so much food left over – this is what I wanted!

I narrowed it down. My menu for the few days our friends were visiting consisted of a beautiful salad, this sweet potato lasagna, a raw pecan pie that I made from the Cafe Gratitude recipe book, Whole Foods brand vegan blueberry and pumpkin pie (hey, it’s the holidays) as well as their 12 grain artisan bread. The next day I added spinach and “cheese” stuffed shells to the menu, using the recipe for the cheese from my Gluten Free – Spinach and “Cheese” Lasagna Bites post, but stuffing jumbo shells instead of making it a lasagna. For breakfast, I baked vegan pumpkin bread two mornings in a row as requested!

The menu, I thought would be filling. I wasn’t thinking at the time that the dinners would be two pasta sauce dishes and I should mix it up a little more, but it turned out that they tasted totally different from one another. I also took a huge leap of faith that this lasagna would be great. For I had no back up plan.

Luck has it and to our surprise, when our friends showed up, they announced that they had given up Dairy products! YESSSS!!!! That was half the battle right there. See? Just another example of how people are surprising me left and right. Smart people are catching on! We had even more to talk about!

The lasagna ended up to be a bit of work, but enjoyable work as I visualized the outcome while preparing it. And Dad was right, totally WORTH IT! I cheated just a smidge. I used a sauce that was not exactly Engine 2 approved. It was a Trader Joe’s Garlic Marinara. I know it to have a lot of flavor and a little bit of oil. I also added a touch of Himalayan sea salt to the veggie mixture because I wanted to be sure this was bursting with flavor. It was perfect and I have to say, it didn’t need the salt. That is how much flavor it brings on it’s own!

My suggestion… When you make this, just pick a sauce that you KNOW has good flavor, oil or not, as the sauce is so important in a dish like this. I also used gluten free lasagna noodles. I feel that they cooked up on the firmer side because I was cutting it close on sauce. Two jars are not exactly enough to cover the noodles. I think 2 jars plus 1/2 would be perfect. I also bought a throw away lasagna tray from the grocery store that was DEEP.  You are going to need that with all these layers. I realize now, that I need to invest in a good lasagna pan!

This lasagna was healthy and satisfying. Full of texture and flavor. It is hard to really explain the end flavors but they go so very well together. T said that he doesn’t usually like sweet potato. Surprise!!! He doesn’t even like lasagna, either! But he just loved this! Phew! Everyone wanted more and we happily ate it for lunch the next day, too!

Not to leave G out, she really enjoyed the meals as well and she got right in my kitchen to help with the dishes. What a doll!

The vegan cheese shells were super filling as well. You really only need to eat a few. Having salad first, bread and then dessert after, we were stuffed.

A million sweet compliments from our friends confirmed that I made a good choice. T said something along the lines of…ya know, I usually have to have meat, but these past few days I really enjoyed everything and haven’t missed meat at all… What a compliment! I hope I influenced them to look at a plant-based diet a little differently and know it can be very satisfying.

We ended up at PF Chang’s on the last night of our visit. I will never forget the nice comment from T. He said, “this food here at this restaurant is good and everything, but it’s nothing like yours, Christa. Look… just the way you cut your carrots vs. theirs…. It’s just different, and so much better”.

When you put love and intention into your home cooked dishes, there is a difference. How many restaurants do that besides some vegan/raw? There is an energy there, and if you are in tune, you can’t deny it. But aside from that, lucky for me, T and G appreciate home cooking, as that is how they were raised. I am not trying to brag here, of course their kind words felt really, really good and it’s always nice to have people appreciate your efforts and support what you do, but much credit goes to Engine 2 Diet for a fantastic recipe!

It meant so much to me to have been able to please our guests and knowing how honest they truly are, I trust that they really enjoyed everything. Food was a small part of the visit of course, we had such a great time catching up and just relaxing. It was so heart warming to hear that this was one of the best Christmases they ever had.

A successful Vegan-Croatian-American-Christmas in the books!

Here are a few pics of the pie. I have made it twice and dream of this one often…

Enjoy the Journey,

~The Karmatarian

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