Monthly Archives: September 2014

A Smoothie for The Full Plate Generation

Chuncy Monkey 002At a recent family gathering, our niece Cheryl mentioned that she’s been following my blog. I was both happy and surprised. When I asked if she was switching to a plant-based diet, she said no but she did like reading the posts. Cheryl and many other young and/or single professionals don’t have either the time or the passion for cooking that I have. I call them the “Full Plate Generation” because their lives are like full plates . . . advancing their careers, starting families, social networking — you get the idea. With all that going on, it’s easy to resort to unhealthy choices. With that in mind, I’d like to give the Full Plate Generation some strategies to become Vegi-curious.

A good way to know what you can and can’t eat, just remember that if it has a mother, a father or a face then don’t eat it. I’ll start you off with some ideas (and a quick recipe) that don’t need much explanation or are simple recipes from previous posts. I’ve created a Full Plate category and will try to put out a new post every week. It’s easier and more fun if you enlist the support of a friend or family member to do it with you, so start networking in a Vegi-curious way.


Oatmeal with raisins
Nature’s Path Cereal with almond or soy milk
Corn Muffins
Whole grain bagel or English muffin with nut butter; jelly; or cashew cream cheese
Home Fries
Any type of smoothie
Chia Pudding


Killer Griller Sandwich (cashew cream cheese optional)
Hummus, avocado, tomato on multi-grain rustic bread
Greek Salad Wrap with hummus, Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes and greens
Three Bean Salad
Salad made with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, chickpeas/beans, olives, carrots, mushrooms and any other vegetables you enjoy


Baked potatoes with cashew sour cream and steamed vegetables
Steamed vegetables with brown or white rice dressed with soy sauce
Pasta with marinara (store-bought or homemade) and salad

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie

1 cup almond or soy milk
2 bananas, preferably frozen
1 tablespoon cocoa or carob powder
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/4 cup dates (optional)

Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Makes one serving.

30 Sep 2014

Vegan Sausage

Our nephew, Paul, left a message on my Facebook page saying that he had a disappointing experience a few months ago making Red Beans and Rice (see my recipe on prior post). He tried to turn tofu into sausage, which turned into a disaster. Now, I’m not a huge fan of faux meat, however I have tried a vegan sausage that’s not too bad. Field Roast Sausage is made from seitan, which is a gluten-based faux meat. The pros? Well, after you’ve acquired a taste for it, it can give you the illusion of ground pork texture. The cons? Well, not everything “vegan” is necessarily healthy. There are 8 grams of fat and over 600 mg of sodium in one sausage link, so I wouldn’t eat it straight up. However, if I were to include it in a large pot of beans the amount of fat and sodium per serving would be spread out among many servings. I do my best to follow a whole-food, plant-based (aka low fat vegan) diet because I believe this to be the healthiest way to eat. It works for me, but when I first started my plant-based journey I was using more fat in my recipes. My body adjusted and now my fat intake is much lower. This is your journey, so if you want to make a change in your diet you will be more successful if you find what works for you and make changes along the way. What I’d like you to take away from this post is to know what you’re putting into your body by reading food labels and making choices that will be a positive change in your health and well-being. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

30 Sep 2014

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans2 001So tonight, the Men from Z-Fanatical (aka nephews Gene and Jeff) are stopping by on their way to a wrestling event Maryland. Bruce (aka “UB”) has been relentlessly trying to get them to go 100% plant-based for quite some time, so I thought I’d hit ‘em with both barrels and make a tasty, protein-packed Red Beans and Rice dish. The recipe was inspired by Emeril Lagasse. Hey, if you’re gonna make Red Beans and Rice, you might as well see how Emeril does it. In fact, I was using his recipe during my pre-Vegicurious years, so this was a good place to start. The big switch is that I eliminated the smoked sausage and ham hocks. I captured that smoky “essence” by adding liquid smoke instead. The recipe starts out with celery, onions and bell peppers, commonly referred to as the “trinity”. Of course, there’s plenty of “gahlic” as well. Throw in the soaked beans, water, liquid smoke, bay leaves and thyme. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the delightful aroma that will fill your kitchen as the beans get happy. Muscle-building protein from the beans and sustained energy from high-fiber brown rice – doesn’t get more Fanatical than that. BAM! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Red Beans and Rice

• 1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted over
• 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
• 3/4 cup chopped celery
• 3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Pinch cayenne
• 3 bay leaves
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
• 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
• 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
• 10 cups vegetable stock, or water
• Liquid smoke to taste
• 4 cups cooked white or brown rice

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot, sauté the onions, celery and bell peppers until lightly browned adding water 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, beans and stock or water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.)
Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.
Serve over rice.


26 Sep 2014

Confetti Farro Salad

Confetti Farro SaladHere’s a colorful, fun whole grain and bean salad that’s easy to make and versatile. You can vary the grain by using white or brown rice, barley or quinoa. Don’t have fresh corn? Use frozen corn. Used your last can of chickpeas to make some hummus? Why not try pigeon peas instead? Experiment with different dressings and herbs to put a regional or ethnic spin on it. I love sharing recipes like this because it is very forgiving . . .  there are no mistakes to be made, just new recipes to be discovered. Since it is best served at room temperature, it’s perfect for filling your brown bag or a fall picnic basket. Served with some toasted sourdough bread and a glass of chardonnay, we enjoyed it as a sunset dinner on our back porch. This is healthy living. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Confetti Farro Salad

3 cups cooked farro
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen corn kernels, thawed)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
¼ cup chopped onion
parsley, oregano or thyme to taste
½ – ¾ cup honey-mustard salad dressing (see below)
salt to taste
While farro is cooking, marinate beans in dressing. Add the cooked farro, corn, peas, onion and herbs. Toss well to mix. Serve at room temperature and store in refrigerator. Can be served straight up or over a bed greens.

Honey Mustard Dressing

¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced

Measure all ingredients into jar and shake to combine. Store in refrigerator.

17 Sep 2014

Harvest Succotash

Harvest is such a great time of the year. Farm stands are just overflowing with corn on the cob, red and green bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, lima beans, onions. It’s so easy to get carried away and leave with a trunk load of glorious vegetables. One of my favorite harvest recipes is a medley of vegetables called Succotash, so let me show you how to turn this:

Harvest Bowl







into this:

Harvest Succotash Bowl







Harvest Succotash

1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic clove, minced
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 3 ears)
2 medium-size zucchini, 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium-size yellow squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups cooked lima beans
Dried thyme to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, both bell peppers, and garlic in non-stick skillet adding water 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. (You can use olive oil sparingly if desired.) Sauté until peppers are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add corn, zucchini, yellow squash, and lima beans; sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 7 minutes longer. Season with thyme, salt and pepper.

So easy, so good. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.






07 Sep 2014

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