Posts tagged vegetarian

Pinterest Inspired Spooky Smokey Spider Dip

Spooky Smokey Spider Dip

Pinterest Inspired Spooky Smokey Spider Dip. Ha! That’s a tongue twister.

If you are need a fun appetizer for your Halloween festivities this weekend, you really have to try this 5 minute dip! It’s about 5 minutes after you fumble around filling your cake decorator pouch with the vegan sour cream… You can always use a parchment paper cone! It’s also only 5 minutes if you have pre-made your guacamole or are using store bought. It’s up to you!

I love how the flavors came together on this one. So, do exactly as I say. Lol… ok, I just wanted to say that. Do whatever you want. Use your favorite salsa and vegan cheese but if you can trust me and my suggestions… you will like this! It’s just different enough that it’s not another regular old 5 layer dip.. blah blah blah. The salsa that I like gives this that spookiness… I mean smokiness.

First, make the vegan sour cream

Ingredients

  • A Half Block of Firm Tofu, Undrained
  • White Wine Vinegar, 1 to 2 tsp. Start with one.
  • Lemon Juice, about 1/2 Lemon Squeezed
  • Sea Salt *Optional
  • Agave *Optional

Directions

Add the undrained tofu to a high power blender, add the other ingredients minus the salt and agave. Blend, taste and adjust seasonings. I like to add a pinch of salt and a drop or two of agave just to round things out. See what you need. This should have a nice tang, like traditional sour cream.

Add your sour cream to the cake decorating bag with a small writing tip or use a parchment paper cone. See above.

Next, put together the dip

Ingredients

  • 1 Can of Refried Black Beans ( I used Whole Foods brand)
  • 1/2 Cup (guestimate) of Salsa. (I recommend Salpica Brand Rustic Tomato with Roasted Garlic. This is the key ingredient that makes the dish)
  • 3/4 Cup of the new Go Veggie Vegan Mexican Style Shreds
  • 1 Cup of fresh made Guacamole  (homemade or store bought.)
  • Tofu Sour Cream (Homemade – see above, or Tofutti brand)
  • Spices of Cumin, Chili Powder, Sea Salt or…. Pre-made Taco Seasoning
  • Scary spiders for the top
  • Fun Platter for Serving
  • Chips! You”ll need Tortilla Chips. We love Organic Blue Corn. But, what tasted great with this was Frontera brand with Lime and Sea Salt… it gave it an extra boost

Directions

Spread a full can of refried black beans into a nice flatish circle on the platter. Next, sprinkle some cumin, chili powder and sea salt… I just guessed it. You can also mix the beans with the spices first and taste and adjust before spreading, but I was feeling too lazy for this.

Next, spoon the salsa over the beans and spread it out being sure to still see the beans around the edge.

Then, over the salsa sprinkle the shredded vegan cheese, being sure to still see a salsa edge.

Spoon the guacamole in the center and spread out, being sure to see the cheese layer (I’m sure by now you get that each layer is smaller).

Last, take your cake decorator tube and draw your lovely spider web. Start in the center and draw your spider web. Top with the spiders, serve with chips and have a spooktacular time!

My Notes: I found this dip on Pinterest, here is the recipe but it doesn’t look like the original. It seems the original was lost in translation. That’s a shame. If you know it, let me know so I can give proper credit. Of course I veganized this and made it my own, which is always fun to do!

The new Mexican style shreds are great for this dip but don’t try in a quesadilla :( we were sorely disappointed with the drippy mess. We prefer Daiya for those.

I made this for Taco Tuesday this week and I should of heated the beans first, because it was for our family that planned to eat it right away. For the party, I didn’t bother heating it up, because dips sit around a while anyway.

This is a guess regarding how much of each ingredient. Make it to your liking and most of all, have fun with it.

Whip up a huge batch of my favorite Guacomole, carve a small pumpkin, and serve this along with it ~

puking pumpkin with guacamole

This idea seemed a bit over done to me, but I did it anyway, and I’m glad. It was a hit at our pumpkin carving party this year!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!!!

Enjoy!

Christa

~The Karmatarian

 

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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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Carrot Miso Dressing

Carrot Miso Dressing

What is going on in Facebook land lately? Have you noticed your friends sharing random recipes on the news feed in order to save them? I’m seeing this from at least a dozen friends. This wouldn’t disappoint me so much if they were healthy and appealing… but they are so called ‘comfort’ foods. Sure… so comforting that you can lay yourself to rest in a cozy casket much sooner than later. I know not everyone eats the way I do, but what happened to the healthier middle of the road recipes? It seems that everything is extreme lately and it’s either Kale or Bacon. I’m going with Kale.

Hale to the Kale!

Btw… Saving recipes… isn’t this what Pinterest is for?

Being that I don’t want to hide my friends (I happen to like them), the good news is that this may finally break me of my personal Facebook habit (fingers crossed). It’s been sucking the life right out of me for too long, and now, it’s gotten down right depressing. Why dear God, is the world moving backwards?

For the rest of us moving forward, I want to share a delicious, whole food, healthy and oil free dressing to enjoy with your kale.

This came about because I am ADDICTED to kale right now. I finally found a fun way to eat it. Sure, I add it to recipes and smoothies and make kale chips but salads usually don’t appeal to me because of the bitterness. Even when it’s rubbed with lemon juice and salt, it still doesn’t work for me (at least right now, but who knows?). All I do know is that because of this new found process, I am drawn more to kale. Kale, kale, kale!

Here is what I do… I take a skillet and fill it with purified water, just to cover the bottom of the pan. No more. Set it on the stove and turn the burner on high. I rip the kale into bite size pieces and wash it while the water starts to boil. I add the kale, cover it, turn the burner down a bit and set the timer for 2 minutes. I check it before the time is up because most of the time it is done. I drain the little water out and VOILA… Steam-boiled kale with no bitter taste! And fast!

I got the idea from the Forks Over Knives handbook. Oh, let me tell you, the recipe for kale with miraculous walnut sauce is MIRACULOUS indeed!  I can eat it Every. Single. Day. I don’t want to abuse a good thing, so I came up with a similar dressing that packs in carrots and miso… two things which I try to incorporate more of into my diet. Walnuts are not to over-do if you are overcoming heart disease or cancer, so keep that in mind. In that case you would want as low fat of a diet as possible. But walnuts are definitely a super-food that you want to eat. You will also need a powerful blender in order to make this happen for you. Sorry, it’s just the way it is.

Health benefits of this dressing FAR outweigh that cute sour cream, butter, milk, cheese and ham filled muffin cup on your Facebook news feed. There’s no comparison really.

Carrots when sliced, interestingly look like eyes.. and they just so happen to benefit the eyes but also the skin too. They protect us from disease and boost immunity. Carrots are also anti-aging whereas that bacon cup will age you just looking at it!

Miso is a fermented food which helps to establish good digestive bacteria and boost immunity. It is a complete protein and has high quality B12. It aids in digestion and protects us against radiation. It’s also anti-aging.

Sounds good so far, huh?

Walnuts are shaped like little brains for a reason – they contain high levels of DHA to help improve brain health. A super antioxidant rich food that is a high quality protein. Walnuts are considered the king of nuts and we really benefit by adding a small handful into our diet daily.

My healthy carrot miso dressing is fast and easy and depending on the amount of water you add, you could keep it on the thicker side and use it as a veggie dip. It’s not overpowering in flavor perhaps a little on the milder side. Add more miso if you prefer.

Update 6/13~ I just made this again with extra miso aaaand a little champagne vinegar which was a nice addition.

Carrot Miso Dressing

Carrot Miso Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 large Carrot, washed but not peeled
  • 1 large handful of Walnuts
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 teaspoons of Mellow White Miso
  • 1/4 Cup Water

Directions

Place all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Add more or less water depending on your preference.

Enjoy,

~The Karmatarian

Question – What are some fun ways that you add more kale, carrots, walnuts or miso into your life? 

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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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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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New Traditions Part 2: Holiday Side Dishes and Our Thanksgiving Menu

(Photo Courtesy of Farm Sanctuary) Adopt a Turkey this Year and Start a New Tradtion. Visit http://www.FarmSanctuary.org

“If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?”~ Edgar’s Mission

I’d like to add… and eat awesome food!!! I spent the entire day yesterday pinning more side dishes and desserts up on my Pinterest page! I was also planning our menu for Thanksgiving. I think I have it nailed down. There are just so many amazing vegan dishes to choose from that it took some time! If anyone claims a vegan diet is boring then they don’t know food and they certainly don’t know how to cook. Luckily it’s a learned skill. You can do it! Take a look at my Vegan Holiday Table board. I’m drooling!

I am not going to list all of the side dishes that I found, that will take too much time and I really just want to get a quick post out. So I am going to share my Thanksgiving menu with you. I am so excited!!

Here goes…

Appetizers:

Cranberry Walnut Pesto Crostini- Festive and delicious. The original recipe is on my Pinterest page under Pumpkin Gnocchi with Cranberry Walnut Pesto. It can’t be found right now because the website seems to be down. I have the recipe. If you are interested, let me know in the comments and I will share it with you. I plan to do crostini with this pesto or serve with delicious crackers. Although it would be good with a spoon alone! I made the gnocchi and it was an epic fail. This pesto turned out to be my favorite though and it’s so pretty!

Traditional Stuffed Mushrooms – You know, the smaller mushrooms with the crunchy, buttery flavored bread crumb filling with  flavors of garlic, basil and parsley. Yum!

Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip – I love the idea of cashews here.  Looks creamy and delicious. How will we ever make room for dinner?

Soup:

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup –  This is the closest recipe I could find to the one I am actually making. This one can be veganized by using margarine and vegan sour cream or using cashew cream for garnish. I am going to make the Vitamix Holiday Squash Soup. No fuss, right in the blender! I have a feeling I am going to run out of stove space so this will be perfect. Soup heats up right in the machine.

Salad:

Apple, Pecan, Cranberry and Avocado Spinach Salad with Balsamic Dressing – The picture in this link has cheese in it but it does not call for cheese in the recipe. I assure you, I won’t ruin it with cheese. This salad will be perfect, unless I run out of time… in that case, I’ll toss together mixed greens with sliced almonds and dried cranberries and top it with vegan poppy seed dressing! Voila, fast and festive and if I can’t much done ahead of time, this might actually be what happens!

Bread:

Gluten Free Sweet Corn Muffins – Can’t forget the bread, muffins or vegan crescent rolls. I tried the Trader Joe’s crescent rolls and they were a bit too sweet for my liking. I was thinking pumpkin muffins, but I don’t want to over do the pumpkin as pumpkin pie will be one of the desserts. I might make my corn muffins or just run out and grab an already baked garlic and rosemary Artisan bread. Mmmm.

Main Dishes:

Mushroom, Lentil and Wild Rice Timbales – A favorite! I have made this a few times for Thanksgivings past. Delicious traditional holiday flavors, great presentation!

Impromptu Vegan Mushroom Gravy – This can be found under the same post as above. I love this gravy!

Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute  – I was shopping at Whole Foods the other day and I had to have this! Maybe I was hungry, but I just figured I would try it along with the tried and true Timbales, just in case… More food for leftovers. Because this girl is taking a break after this!

Sides:

Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce – I have made this before. It’s baked, not boiled and I add orange zest. Delicious! Can be made days ahead!

Fruit and Toasted Almond Stuffing – The picture says it all. It sounds like an updated classic and there is nothing wrong with that.

Garlic and Rosemary Mashed PotatoesThis is pretty straight forward. Use vegan margarine like earth balance or the olive oil it calls for and almond milk instead of regular milk. I am imagining lot’s of leftovers. This will be perfect with the Timbales and gravy.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping – I usually make this type of casserole every year, one version or another. Vegan of course. I am thinking to add vegan marshmallows. Why not? I have some here.

Green Beans with Walnuts and Rosemary – Simple ingredients. Modernized tradition. Quick. How could you go wrong?

Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus – I am excited to veganize this with crushed walnuts and lemon zest. Olive oil or margarine instead of butter. It’s a choice between this or the green beans. I already have the phyllo in the freezer… this might be the winner. Or just make both!?

Desserts:

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie with Praline and Coconut-Pecan Crust – Mom eats gluten free and since she will be here for dessert I would like to make this!

Or… Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake –  I could always make the crust from the recipe above to make it gluten free.

Raw Lemon Cheesecake with Berry Sauce – This is a recipe from the Cafe Gratitude recipe book (minus the berry sauce). I have made it before and it gave me my confidence back for making vegan cheesecake. Holy Cow is it amazing and the texture is way better than real cheesecake in my opinion.

Baked Pears with a Buttery Baked Crumble Topping –  To veganize, just use Earth Balance (margarine) and Agave instead of honey. Top this with rice whip cream. I broke down and spent the 5 dollars on rice whip a few weeks ago. It is SO GOOD. Perfect for the holidays. It’s by Soyatoo.

Well, there you have it… I think I am in over my head with this menu! But it will be so much fun. I will take a lot of pictures and share on Facebook. Thankfully, a lot of these recipes can be prepared a few days ahead. I guess I better get started. I am off to Whole Foods now…

See these photos and recipes that I have I found, visit my Pinterest page.   Also check out my last post, part 1, with many holiday main dish ideas.

I would really love to hear what vegan dishes you are serving up this year…

Happy menu planning and hoping that your holidays are gentle and kind.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Pumpkins are in season… along with the Flu. I think nature is trying to tell us something. EAT PUMPKIN. Don’t forget the pumpkin seeds! Seeds are full of Zinc that not only heal and clear your skin, it vamps up your immune system. The Vitamin A in pumpkin is a huge immune booster. Now, loading pumpkin with sugar and dairy is going to have the opposite effect. Choose wisely.

I just love Chia pudding, and this recipe is really just a twist on that for this time of year. I would say that this is more for superfood enthusiasts, but my 5 year old seems to really like it. If you are thinking more of a sweet dessert,  you will have to add more dates or other sweetener of your choice. We eat this for breakfast so I don’t prefer it that sweet.

With the recent shortage on Chia Seeds. I am not sure I should be sharing this recipe. Next it will be Cashews and Quinoa… other staples of my vegan diet. I totally saw this coming! I hope farmers take notice and shift their crops. We want more real food! Wouldn’t that be awesome?! Dairy and meat consumption has declined recently and thankfully, but if you still partake of meat and eat dairy, leave my Chia alone!

Oh, I am only kidding….

Or am I?

Now, when you make this pudding, don’t be scared that it looks a little like Dijon mustard. Lol. I probably shouldn’t of told you that. Either way, vitamins and minerals and complete protein are yours! Pumpkin and Chia are two superfoods that you want to consume.

You can top this pudding with raw Pepita (pumpkin seeds) for a higher immune boosting experience, or top with more Chia Seeds, Nutmeg or Cinnamon.

Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds
  • 3/4 Cup water
  • 1/3 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Cup Pureed Organic Pumpkin
  • 3 Medjool Dates, soaked and pitted (see directions)
  • 3/4 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Dash of Sea Salt

Directions

Soak the Chia seeds in water for about 15 minutes. Soak your dates overnight… just kidding. Well, you can, but lets be real. Here is the fast route… I like to heat up water in my tea kettle until very warm, not boiling, and pour over the dates in a Pyrex or other glass bowl. Soak these for 15 minutes while the Chia seeds are soaking. Slice open the drained dates and pit (much easier when soft)

Add all the ingredients to your high speed blender or Vitamix

Blend until creamy and warmed, adjust the sweetener if necessary and sprinkle with topping and serve.

How are you enjoying pumpkin as a superfood this season? Please share your comments and ideas.

Enjoy!

~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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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – Oil Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

I just want to try to convince you here, to make your own Hummus. It’s fresher, lighter and you control what goes in it. Not to mention you get more of it, for the money. There’s no “natural flavors”, whatever those could be, and it’s not dripping with oil, because we really don’t neeeeed those empty fat calories.

I am addicted to Hummus! The problem is, trying to find a store bought hummus that is not filled with those things I mentioned above. This recipe won’t be that exciting for many of you and I totally understand, but for my friends who might not have stopped to think about how easy it is to whip up your own fat free hummus, this one is for you!

There are so many possibilities and all different kinds of flavors. Just leave out the roasted peppers and play with it. And depending on what you are going to dip… chips, veggies, pita bread, gluten free pretzels (which we love, along with sliced cucumber) or crackers, you can adjust the seasoning to compliment it best. For instance, you probably don’t want to over salt the Hummus if you are going to eat it with something salted. But you might want to add some extra spice and sea salt if you are going to eat it with plain veggies.

Without the oil, there is a lighter feel to the Hummus, you may have to spice it more to compensate until you get used to it. But did you see my post about the dangers of oils? We certainly don’t need the extra oil. I am now making my own Hummus and it tastes so good! It might take some getting used to if you are only familiar with store brands. Our taste buds can get so manipulated that we have to stop and reset them back to “natural”. It takes a little time.

Although everyone who tries my Hummus, likes it a lot. I am a picky person, a tough critic of my own creations.  I was right up until the other day, looking for that unique ingredient that will really push this dip above and beyond.  I was thinking that it may be I want to try adding another roasted pepper to really go bold? Or add some of my dad’s canned peppers from the garden? But what I stumbled upon was the addition of Vinegar. Yep. Vinegar. It gives it that zesty zing that makes this dip awesome.

When you make your own Hummus, just know that the flavors really come out as it sets, chills and thickens up (in case you added too much liquid) in the fridge. Just have fun and adjust the seasonings to suit you. Try adding different herbs and spices. Add lemon zest and cayenne pepper. Just don’t be afraid to make your own… your way! It’s so much healthier, especially when you soak and cook your own chickpeas. I haven’t gone that far yet. But I imagine I will one of these days. The canned chickpeas I found at my local Meijer store, are organic and contain only 100 mg of sodium per serving. Not great, but certainly better than most canned beans out there. These just make the cut off being 110 calories per serving. It is wise to make sure that any packaged products in a healthy diet contain no more sodium than it’s calories. Tough to do! So being in a hurry most days with our schedule, canned chickpeas it ends up to be.

I like the idea of adding roasted red pepper because red peppers have such a good dose of Vitamin C. Higher than an orange… 3 times more, actually. I understand that by lightly roasting the pepper, some Vitamin C may get destroyed. It’s still good. And I’m still gonna roast ’em!!

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 large Red Bell Pepper
  • 2  15 oz cans Chickpeas, one drained and one with liquid reserved
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 or 2 Tablespoons Tahini
  • 1/4 or Cup or more Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2  Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  White Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Lemon Zest
  • Optional*  Herbs of your choice

Directions

Note* The ingredients above can be adjusted to your liking.  First clean the pepper and remove seeds. Cut in half and place on a baking sheet and roast lightly. Do not brush the pepper with oil. I like to put mine in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes while I do a quick workout in my living room. Why not?

Next place all the ingredients except the spices and about half of the liquid from one can of the chickpeas into your Vitamix blender or high speed blender. If you don’t have a Vitamix, but you think your blender can handle it, go for it. I am pretty sure that this can be made in a food processor as well. Save the other half of the liquid from the chickpeas and use it to thin out the Hummus as you blend only if needed. Blend for 1 minute and use the tamper (with a Vitamix) to press the ingredients into the blades. Blend until creamy consistency.

Season the Hummus with the spices and lemon zest and plenty of sea salt. Place the dip into the refrigerator to chill and set for at least an hour.

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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Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

“Thoughts of lack manifest as limitation. Thoughts of abundance manifest as success and happiness. Failure and success are but two ends of the same stick.”

~Ernest Holmes

Happy Friday everyone! No, this quote doesn’t have much to do with chickpeas unless you think about all the creative ways in which chickpeas can be used in a plant-based diet. Plant-based eaters tend to think abundantly! After all, we have so many wonderful foods to choose from, it’s hard not to. I also believe the standard American diet tends to lend a hand in people not thinking about their food at all. Not caring where their food comes from and certainly taking it all for granted. At least this used to be me and it’s what I observe in others. Now I savor everything and appreciate the hell out of it! I appreciate colors, flavors, textures and good ethics that go along with creating it.

So have you ever heard of roasted chickpeas? I recently discovered this idea online and so I made these a few weeks back for the Forks Over Knives movie review and discussion I hosted. I didn’t exactly make them correctly, yet one of the guests couldn’t stop eating them! She even took them to go! So even if you screw them up a bit, like I did. They will still taste good. Practice makes perfect, but I think if you follow the directions you won’t screw up. I was in a bit of a hurry.

The key is to roast them until crispy on the outside. I didn’t quite get them that crispy on the first try because I was afraid of burning them. You just have to keep tossing them while baking. I used my toaster oven the second time around which seemed to help. I could see them a little better. Less distance. Maybe I need more Vitamin A for my eyesight?!

Chickpeas are a staple food in a plant-based diet. Think hummus. I do have a wonderful homemade fat-free roasted red pepper hummus that I will be posting soon. YUM! We go through hummus like water around here!

I like that we can switch things up regarding chickpeas. I actually used a chickpea oil blend in place of eggs for gluten free brownie recipe and it was amazing! They were like brownie protein bars! But in regards to this recipe, think about all the different spice combos to be tried. Many fun possibilities.

Roasted chickpeas, especially the spicy, salty ones, remind me of bar nuts, minus the musty bar smell, neon Miller sign and beer goggles.

Not only fun to eat, here is what you can expect from a cup of chickpeas: 14 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, 45 grams of good carbs. Of course lots of vitamins and minerals… not going to get into details because it’s Friday. Just trust me. It’s all good.

Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • 1 can of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained, (patted dry with a paper towel) and laid out to dry on a towel for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 Tablespoon of melted Coconut Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of Raw Organic Sugar. I used Coconut Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
  • Dash of Sea Salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly mist with oil.

Mix the sugar, cinnamon and dash of sea salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Coat the beans in melted coconut butter and sprinkle evenly with the sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Spread the beans out evenly onto your baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing every five or ten minutes, all while checking that they are not burning , just getting nice and crispy on the outside.

Let cool and enjoy. Have a great weekend!

~The Karmatarian

Ps. I certainly want to hear your comments, especially if you make these!

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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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