Monthly Archives: March 2015

Banana Rum Chia Pudding

Chia ParfaitRemember Chia Pets?  They were created in 1977 as American styled terracotta figurines used to sprout chia where the chia sprouts magically grew within a couple of weeks to resemble the animal’s fur or hair.  If we knew then what we know now we’d be a lot healthier. Chia seeds have many nutritional benefits. One ounce has 12 grams of carbohydrate. However… 11 of those grams are fiber, which isn’t digested by the body. By weight, they are about 14% protein, which is very high compared to most plants. They also contain a good balance of essential amino acids, so our bodies should be able to make use of the protein in them. Chia seeds can thicken milk the way that cornstarch does to create puddings and custards. Now that’s magic!

Alligator Chia Pet.jpg

While whipping up a batch of Chocolate Chia Pudding today, I thought it would be nice to make a parfait using two different flavors. Hmmmmm . . . bananas make a nice complement to chocolate, so what the heck. Throw in some dates for sweetness and rum for a little kick and SHAZAM! This might be my favorite chia pudding so far. A few weeks ago, I over-baked a batch of breakfast bars from the Thug Kitchen Cookbook. Well, I’m turning that kitchen blunder into a culinary wonder! I’ve been crumbling those bars on top of soy yogurt and anything else resembling pudding. Try layering the two puddings with sliced bananas, fresh berries, flaked coconut, chopped nuts or chocolate. Why wait for dessert? With all that goodness going on, you can have chia pudding for breakfast. Make some chia pudding and make your own magic. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Banana Rum Chia Pudding

¼ cup chia seeds
1 cup almond milk
2 bananas
6 dates
1 teaspoon rum or rum extract

Process chia seeds in coffee grinder until the consistency of flour. Place ground chia seeds and remaining ingredients in blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Pour into individual ramekins or a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cool.

Makes 4 servings.



31 Mar 2015

Jamaican Red Bean Stew

Jamaican Red Bean StewI ordered Vegan Slow Cooker for Beginners to give as a Christmas gift. As so often happens, the book didn’t arrive in time, so I kept it for myself. (You can never have too many cookbooks.) I’m not a big crock pot fan, but I do have a handful of slow cooked recipes that are worth waiting four to eight hours for. The nice thing about slow cooking is that all of the flavors really get to mingle and the aroma that fills the house throughout the day is delicious. If you won’t be home while dinner is cooking, be sure to use a slow cooker with a timer. Okay, back to the recipe.  I was looking for a break from bean dishes like 3-Bean Chili, Red Beans & Rice and Pasta Fagioli, so I was thrilled to come across a recipe for red beans made with Jamaican flavors. This dish is a medley of red beans, yams and carrots seasoned with coconut milk, curry and allspice. I altered the recipe to make it into a stew and served it over rice. I imagine it  would be nice served over quinoa as well. Something different and certainly delicious! I also made a Banana Brown Betty recipe from the book that’s worth trying. There are a lot of other nice recipes, so buy the book. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Jamaican Red Bean Stew

You will need a 4 – 6 quart slow cooker for this recipe.

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped carrots
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained (1 cup)
½ cup chopped yellow onion
1 large sweet potato, chopped (2 cups)
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups red kidney beans (2 15-oz. cans)
1 cup light coconut milk (canned)
1 to 2 cups vegetable stock

Add two tablespoons of water to a non-stick skillet and saute garlic, carrots, onions and sweet potatoes until slightly browned. Stir in seasonings and continue cooking until aromatic. Add tomatoes and heat through. (If you’re pressed for time, you can skip the sauteing step and simply place all ingredients right in the slow cooker.) Place in slow cooker; add beans, coconut milk and 1 cup of stock. Cook on low for six to eight hours, adding more stock if necessary. Serve over your grain of choice.


Makes 4 to 6 servings.



25 Mar 2015

Baked Polenta with Mushrooms & Tomatoes

Baked Polenta with Mushrooms & TomatoesPolenta. There seems to be some type of cult following for this Italian dish that  I never quite understood. After all, it’s rather bland (just cornmeal and water), so what’s the big deal? The big deal is what goes on top. I’ve had polenta layered with tomato sauce, fried eggplant and mozzarella or smothered in mushrooms sauteed in lots of olive oil. I took the healthiest ingredients from these two preparations and went to work. For the polenta, I added Better Than Bouillon No Chicken base and roasted garlic to give it some flavor. For the topping, I simply sauteed some garlic and mushrooms and added diced tomatoes. Fairly simple and very tasty. The recipe yields enough polenta for two recipes. You can either double the mushrooms and tomatoes or create another polenta dish later in the week. Try topping with sauteed mushrooms or broccoli rape or spoon on some marinara sauce.  I might try it with some ratatouille one of these days. If you prefer soft polenta, you can spoon it right out of the pot and onto your plate. For my “Full Plate” friends: if you don’t feel like making a big fuss with the polenta squares, look for ready-to-slice polenta logs in the grocery store. Bon Appetit and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Polenta Squares with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

For the Polenta:

5 cups water
1-1/2 cups coarse yellow corn meal
2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon No Chicken base or ¼ teaspoon salt
2 cloves of roasted garlic

Coat a baking pan with non-stick spray. (You could use an 8” x 8” square pan or a loaf pan.) Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Add bouillon (or salt) and garlic. Slowly pour corn meal into water, whisking to remove any lumps. Continue stirring until very thick. Pour into coated baking pan and refrigerate for several hours until firm enough to cut.

For the Mushrooms:

3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine
28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained (reserve tomato juice)
Oregano, thyme, parsley
Pinch of crushed red pepper

In a non-stick skillet, brown garlic adding 2 tablespoons of water as needed to prevent sticking. Add mushrooms to skillet and continue cooking until brown and most of liquid has evaporated. De-glaze skillet with wine and cook until evaporated. Add tomatoes, herbs and crushed red pepper and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, adding reserved tomato juice if necessary.

To Assemble:

Preheat oven to 400 degress. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut polenta into squares or slices. (I made six squares and used three for this recipe.) Place polenta squares on parchment and bake until polenta is heated through and develops a slight crust. Spoon mushroom and tomatoes on top.

Makes 3 to 4 servings

20 Mar 2015

Little Gems (Trail Mix Cookies)

Trailmix CookiesLet the party roll on!  Bruce is in the midst of a month-long birthday celebration. His co-workers had a little soiree for him today, so I sent him in with a batch of cookies. (All I got was an empty container on his return home.) Baking cookies without butter and eggs has proven to be a challenge for me. I baked quite a few cookies in my hey day and I can vouch that there is NO substitute for butter. Sure, there are “buttery” spreads that are made from vegetable sources, some hydrogenated, some not. But these”butters” usually have an “off” flavor, the cookies tend to spread out too thinly or come out too greasy. BLEH! And if you’re trying to follow a diet that is as nutrient-dense as possible, using ingredients that are 100% fat is NOT a good idea. Whenever possible, I use some type of nut butter (usually almond) in my baked goods. While nut butters have a high fat content, at least they have protein, fiber and other nutrients. These Little Gems are big on taste and will prove that you can be healthy and still have some fun.  They’re loaded with oatmeal and a whole lotta other good stuff. For today’s batch I used walnuts; sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds; and dried cranberries. What I love about this recipe is that you can have it  your way and use whatever type of nut, seeds and dried fruit you have on hand. And let’s not forget about the coconut and chocolate chips. They bake up nice and crisp; if you like a softer cookie, try baking for less time. In either case, these Little Gems will be sure to please. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Little Gems Trail Mix Cookies 

Wet Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax + 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or date syrup)

Dry Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats, (1 cup blended into flour)
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or other nuts)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips (non-dairy)
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, raisins, etc.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the ground flax and water in a small bowl and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond butter and syrup, then add in flax mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together all of the dry ingredients. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir well until combined. Drop by level tablespoons onto baking sheets. Flatten with a fork dipped in water.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes until light golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack until completely cool. Wrap up and store leftovers on the counter or in the freezer, if desired.

Makes about 28 cookies.


12 Mar 2015

Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherds Pie Spring is just around the corner, so now’s the time to turn up the heat in the kitchen while there’s still a chill in the air. Shepherd’s Pie is a casserole that’s traditionally made with mutton or lamb and covered with a potato crust. My version is filled with mushrooms, carrots, celery and parsnips bound together by a thick brown gravy, then baked under a layer of Garlic Mashed Potatoes. If you’ve been following my recent posts, you already know how to make Roasted Garlic and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. All that’s left is to put together the mushroom and vegetable filling, place in the oven and enjoy. Perfect for St. Patty’s Day or any winter day. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Mushrooms
Yield: 6 servings
Mashed Potatoes:
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Roasted garlic, to taste
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
Non-dairy milk, as needed

Place potatoes in cold water, bring to boil and cook until soft. Drain off most of the water. Add a few cloves of roasted garlic and nutritional yeast. Mash with potato masher, adding milk to thin out.

Note: You can boil the potatoes in vegetable broth instead of water.
Vegetable-Mushroom Filling:
10 oz. mushrooms, cut in half
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, peeled & cut into chunks
2 parsnips (or other root vegetable), peeled & cut into chunks
4 celery stalks, cut into chunks
1 cup, full sodium vegetable broth (or more as needed)
1/4 cup red wine (or more broth)
2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 tbsp flour
Preheat oven to 425F and lightly oil a 2.5 quart/2.3 litre casserole dish.
Lightly coat non-stick skillet with olive oil (optional) and heat on medium high. Saute mushrooms until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Saute the onions and garlic until lightly browned. Add in the chopped carrots, parsnip, and celery. Saute until browned, about 5 minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the skillet. Whisk together the flour and broth. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and heat until Stir in
Add this liquid mixture to the vegetables in the skillet and stir well. Add your salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes until thickened. Season to taste.
Scoop vegetable mixture into casserole dish. Spread on the mashed potato mixture and garnish with paprika, ground pepper, and Thyme. Bake at 425F for about 35 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

08 Mar 2015

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

Mashed Potatos with Roasted GarlicWhat’s wrong with mashed potatoes? Nothing, that is until you start adding in the butter and milk. Here’s a recipe for mashed potatoes that you can just pile onto your plate without one bit of remorse. I’ve discovered that the combination of roasted garlic and nutritional yeast adds a hint of buttery flavor to the mashed potatoes. If you want to add another layer of flavor, try using vegetable broth instead of water for boiling the potatoes. I like to use Better Than Bouillon No Chicken base, but you can use any broth you like. You can serve the mashed potatoes as a side dish for lentil loaf or bean burgers; or with some steamed or sauteed vegetables. I will be using this recipe to top off my Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie, so stay tuned for that recipe. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Roasted garlic, to taste
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
Non-dairy milk, as needed

Place potatoes in cold water, bring to boil and cook until soft. Drain off most of the water. Add a few cloves of roasted garlic and nutritional yeast. Mash with potato masher, adding milk to thin out.

Note: You can boil the potatoes in vegetable broth instead of water.

07 Mar 2015

Roasted Garlic Two Ways

Roasted Garlic. I put that s**t on everything. You can simply toast up some bread (my favorites are sourdough, pumpernickel or quinoa-flax seed), squeeze out the glorious contents of one clove of roasted garlic and spread the love. You can add it to mashed potatoes (or any vegetable mash you desire). Drop a few cloves into potato, broccoli, tomato or butternut squash soup and puree right in the pot with an immersion blender. Substitute roasted garlic for raw garlic in hummus for a kinder, gentler version. How about a Roasted Garlic and Mushroom Pizza? The possibilities are only limited by your own imagination. I’ve included two recipes for Roasted Garlic; one that uses olive oil and one that is fat free. Either recipe will result in garlic that has a beautiful caramel color and a savory yet slightly sweet taste. As long as you have the oven on, why not throw in a few potatoes to use up some of that garlic? Stay tuned for my next post, Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Roasted Garlic Two Ways

With Oil:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take as many heads of garlic that you want to roast. Cut off the top of the head to expose the cloves. Rub olive oil on entire surface, wrap loosely in aluminum foil and bake until soft and golden, about 1 hour. When ready to use, simply pull off a few cloves and squeeze out the roasted garlic. Store in a glass jar in your refrigerator.

Fat Free:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take as many heads of garlic that you want to roast.Cut off the top of the head to expose the cloves. Place baking dish just large enough to hold the heads of garlic. Pour vegetable broth to cover about ¾ of the garlic. Sprinkle with thyme. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until soft and golden, about 1 hour. Cool completely and drain off excess broth. When ready to use, simply pull off a few cloves and squeeze out the roasted garlic. Store in a glass jar in your refrigerator.


06 Mar 2015

Tofu Taco Scramble

Tofu Scramble TacoInspired by the Thug Kitchen Cookbook, here’s a break from breakfast boredom. This recipe calls for sauteed broccoli, peppers and onions scrambled with a mixture of tofu, cashew cream and nutritional yeast. I threw this together on the spur of the moment this morning and used whatever I had available. The key ingredients are veggies, extra firm tofu and nutritional yeast. The black salt and cashew cream are nice additions, but they are not essential. Mix it up with different vegetables, herbs and spices. I served them up on whole wheat tortillas with avocado, cilantro and salsa. I’ll try them again with some spinach, mushrooms or zucchini and sage on a toasted pumpernickel bagel. You still have time for brunch, so start scramblin’. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Tofu Scramble

¼ tsp. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 small head of broccoli (crown only), chopped

1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained
¼ cup cashew cream
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ tsp. black salt
Various seasonings, to taste (see below)

Heat oil in non-stick skillet. Add vegetables to skillet and saute until browned. While the vegetables are cooking, stir together tofu, cashew cream, nutritional yeast, black salt and seasonings. Do not over mix; you want the tofu to remain chunky. Add to skillet and continue to cook until heated thoroughly.

Seasoning Notes:

Use Sazon for Tofu Scramble Tacos and serve on tortillas with cilantro, salsa, avocado, jalapenos. If you don’t want to buy Sazon, a combination of cumin, garlic powder, coriander and annatto.

01 Mar 2015

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