Cold Sesame Noodles, Without Oil

By the Gracious Vegan

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I finally discovered the secret to “real” cold sesame noodles: it’s the Chinese sesame paste. There isn’t a good substitution. If you have access to an Asian grocery store, that’s your best bet, but you can find it online as well. I owe this find to Sam Sifton of the New York Times and his recipe for Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles. I adapted and tweaked his recipe to remove the oil. I added options for whole wheat noodles and dates instead of sugar. The flavors are recall the best sesame noodles from Chinese restaurants, without the greasiness you can sometimes get.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes. (If you choose whole wheat noodles, it may take longer.) Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and pat dry with a paper towel.

  • 9 ounces dried chow mein noodles (or other noodles that don’t contain eggs)

In a medium bowl, blender, or food processor, whisk together the remaining ingredients.

  • 5 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 4.5 Tablespoons Chinese (roasted) sesame paste

  • 1.5 Tablespoons water

  • 3 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter

  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (or 3 Tablespoons date paste)

  • 1.5 Tablespoon Chinese rice vinegar

  • 1.5 Tablespoon finely grated ginger

  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (3 medium cloves)

  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon chili-garlic paste, or to taste

Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with

  • Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch by 1/8-inch by 2-inch sticks

  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Timing: less than 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed if you use whole wheat noodles and dates

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free noodles

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Gracious Vegan Potato and Pea Samosas

Potato and Pea Samosa.jpg

By the Gracious Vegan

Getting the spicing right for these samosas took many experiments, but we’re finally there. Samosas in Indian restaurants are deep fried. These are baked, with no-fat egg roll or wonton wrappers (the vegan kind) and a little spray oil. So these are quite healthy, but with all the warmth and goodness and none of the greasiness of restaurant samosas.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with spray-oil. 

Microwave the following ingredients together in a microwave-safe dish for 8-11 minutes (depending on your microwave). Stir once or twice. 

  • 1 pound of potatoes (any kind), peeled, cut into 1/2” dice

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Gently stir these ingredients into the potato mixture.

  • 1 cup thawed peas

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1/8 or smaller teaspoon ground cayenne

Set out an egg roll or wonton wrapper, spoon a small amount of the samosa mixture onto it, and roll or fold in any way you like. Repeat with remaining wrappers until the wrappers or the filling runs out.

  • One package vegan egg roll or wonton wrappers (I use Twin Dragon brand)

Spray the tops of the samosas with spray-oil, then put into the oven. 

Bake for 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until golden. 

Serve with Mint-Cilantro Chutney or other chutney.

Timing: about 45 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (wonton wrappers use processed flour)

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Creamy Pesto and Vegetable Sandwich

By the Gracious Vegan

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These sandwiches are great for picnics or just a nice meal at home. The creamy pesto spread makes people curious -- "What's in this? It's delicious." You can customize the rest based on taste and what you have in the house.

Makes 8 sandwiches

Creamy pesto spread. Put the almonds in the blender or other container. Pour in enough water so that the water line is at least 2 inches above the almonds. Let them soak an hour or more.

  • 2 cups blanched almonds (whole or slivered)

Drain and rinse the almonds in a colander and put them back into the blender. Add the following ingredients and blend until smooth. Add extra water a tablespoon at a time if the spread is too thick. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, cut into a few pieces
  • 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • Zest and juice of one medium lemon 

The vegetables. Use a peeler, grater, mandolin, or knife to finely julienne, grate or thinly slice the vegetables. (Choose from the following or use your imagination.) 

  • Carrot
  • Beet
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Red cabbage
  • Red onion 

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and skin, and slice into thin wedges. 

  • 1 avocado

To assemble, take a slice of bread or a roll, smear an eighth of the spread on it, and layer on the vegetables, avocado, sprouts/spinach, salt and pepper. Wrap the sandwiches in parchment or wax paper if you’re transporting them. Or eat immediately.

  • 16 slices of good quality bread, toasted, or 8 rolls (or use tortillas for wraps)
  • Fresh sprouts or baby spinach (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Variations for the vegetable filling:

  • Roasted red peppers or sundried tomatoes, Greek olives, artichoke hearts
  • Leftover roasted vegetables 
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Noodle-Vegetable Salad with Peanut-Sesame Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

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This delicious salad is also filling. I tried to evoke the taste of cold sesame noodle appetizers in many Chinese restaurants. Using roasted sesame paste and dates lets you avoid added sugar and processed fats. The gorgeous colors of the vegetables make this incredibly attractive. Good thing the taste doesn't disappoint expectations.

Makes 12 cups

Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

  • 4 ounces soba noodles

Gently stir the cold noodles together with the following vegetables in a large bowl. 

  • 4-5 green onions, green and white parts, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 small purple or green cabbage (or half of a larger head) (about 1 pound), core removed and then thinly shredded or sliced
  • 2 medium or large carrots, grated
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • (You can also substitute a pound of store-bought slaw mix for the cabbage and carrots)

Peanut-sesame dressing. Blend the following ingredients in a blender until smooth. The mixture should be thick but drizzly; if it's too thick, blend in additional water in 1-Tablespoon increments. 

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini (or, better, roasted sesame paste, available from Asian grocery stores)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 medium dates (softened if they are dry) or 2 Tablespoons date sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

Combine and garnish. Toss the dressing with the noodles and vegetables. It is ready to serve or can be refrigerated for up to a few hours (or more, but the dressing begins to soak into the noodles). Serve salad with one or more of the following garnishes.

  • Coarsely chopped peanuts
  • Chopped fresh cilantro

Timing: About 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed

Gluten-free if 100% buckwheat noodles used

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Classic Red Enchilada Sauce

By the Gracious Vegan

Enchilada fads come and go. I grew up in California I the 1960s and 70s and like classic red enchilada sauce. I know it may not be as authentic as others, but it’s familiar and comforting, and it doesn't have the sugar, oil, and preservatives you might find in canned sauces. You can add cayenne pepper if you want more heat. 

Makes 4 cups

Water-sauté the onions and garlic in a large frying pan or medium-large sauce pan.

  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

Add the following ingredients. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes.

  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1.25 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

When cooled a bit, use an immersion blender to create a smooth sauce, or leave it chunky, as desired.

Timing: about 25-30 minutes

Nutritional information (per cup): 86 calories, 1g fat, 0g sat. fat, 19g carbs, 1096mg sodium, 5mg fiber, 4g protein 


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No-Bake Corn-Pepper-Spinach Enchiladas

By the Gracious Vegan 

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If you’re good at multi-tasking, these enchiladas take only about 30 minutes, even if you make the crema and homemade enchilada sauce at the same time (although both freeze well, so you could build up a stash of them in the freezer for times like this). These beauties are as delicious as they are fast. The colors and flavors pop in your mouth!

Makes 6 servings

Start the vegan crema and enchilada sauce if you choose to use homemade (highly recommended). 

Filling. Sauté these ingredients in a large skillet with a Tablespoon or two of water, stirring frequently. (Or cook in the microwave for 4-6 minutes.)

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red, green, or yellow pepper, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced, grated, or finely chopped

Add the following ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until spinach is reduced and soft, and corn is tender.

  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach, or 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, with water squeezed out
  • 2 cups corn, fresh (from 2 large ears), frozen (thawed), or canned
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chili powder 
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt  

Drain mixture if there is excess liquid and cook a bit longer to make sure the mixture is dry. Then add the crema and stir it in. Set aside. 

  • 1/4 cup vegan crema (see my Gracious Vegan Crema), 1/4 cup silken tofu (whipped until smooth), vegan sour cream, cream cheese, or cashew cream

Tortillas. Heat 1.5 cups of the sauce in a medium skillet over low heat. Dredge both sides of each tortilla in the warm salsa using tongs, and stack the tortillas on a plate.

Place a large skillet on low heat and pour about 2/3 cup of enchilada sauce into it. Spoon a twelfth of the filling onto one side of the first tortilla. Fold it in half and place it at the edge of the skillet on low heat. Repeat for the remaining tortillas, arranging them in an overlapping row, and make sure they all heat up to serving temperature. Serve and top with 

  • Additional sauce
  • More crema (use a squeeze bottle for nice presentation)
  • Finely diced bell pepper, chopped onion, sliced olives, and/or cilantro

Timing: Hands-on time 30 minutes; Total time 30 minutes         

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed

Nutritional information per serving: 203 calories, 4g fat, 1g sat. fat, 38g carbs, 1028mg sodium, 7mg fiber7g protein 



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Old-Fashioned (but Vegan) Scalloped Corn

By the Gracious Vegan 

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Some dishes are just homey and good. Scalloped corn, like its close relation scalloped potatoes, is one of them. Blended cashews made into a white sauce provide an excellent (superior, in my opinion) substitute for a traditional dairy-based white sauce. This is a great side dish, or a “co-entrée” with stewed tomatoes, a substantial salad, a soup, and/or anything else you think would go well with it. 

Makes 6 servings

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

White sauce. Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes. (You can skip this step if you have a high-speed blender.) 

  • 3/8 cup raw cashews

Put cashews in a blender, add these ingredients, then blend until cashews are completely smooth (1-4 minutes). 

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup tofu (any kind)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil slowly, stirring frequently. Once it boils, allow it to thicken for a minute or two, then remove from heat. Stir in the bread crumbs and set aside.

  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs (whole wheat works well)

Vegetables. In a large microwave-safe dish, microwave the following ingredients until the onion is transparent and soft, about 4-6 minutes.

  • About 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • About 3/4 cup chopped green pepper

Add corn, stir, and cook until the corn is just tender (will vary depending on your corn and microwave).

  • 4 cups corn, fresh (from 5 ears), frozen (thawed), or canned

Stir in the white sauce. Spoon the mixture into an ungreased medium casserole dish. Sprinkle with

  • 1/8 cup bread crumbs

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the bread crumbs are golden. 

Timing: Hands-on time 25 minutes; Total time 60 minutes         

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed

Nutritional information per serving: 217 calories, 7g fat, 1g sat. fat, 34g carbs, 273mg sodium, 5mg fiber7g protein 

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free bread crumbs

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Three Sisters Quesadillas

Three Sisters Quesadilla.jpg

By the Gracious Vegan 

For many Native American communities, corn, beans, and squash are known as the Three Sisters. For centuries these three have been inter-planted because they thrive together. The corn stalks provide poles for the beans to climb. The squash plant’s large leaves shade the ground, retaining soil moisture and preventing weeds. Beans provide nitrogen to fertilize the soil, and their roots stabilize the corn during windy weather. Luckily for plant-based eaters, the sisters also taste delicious together. I take advantage of that in these delicious and easy quesadillas.  

Makes 5 servings

Water-sauté the grated zucchini in a large skillet (start with 1/8 cup water and add more if needed), until the zucchini starts to get tender, about 5 minutes. 

  • 2 medium zucchini (about 12 ounces), grated (do not peel)

Stir in the corn and black beans and cook until the zucchini and corn are tender and the mixture is relatively dry.

  • 1.5 cups corn (fresh from 2 ears of corn, or frozen)
  • 1.5 cups black beans (if canned, drained and rinsed), mash them a bit if desired

Stir in the spices.

  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Spread a fifth of the mixture onto half of each tortilla, then fold the tortillas in half. Cook the quesadillas on a griddle or in a dry skillet until light brown on the first side, then flip them and cook them on the second side until light brown. (Spray with oil if you want more brown color.) 

  • Five 8” whole wheat flour tortillas

Serve with garnishes (or add them into the quesadilla itself if desired).

  • Salsa, Gracious Vegan Crema, chopped green or red onions, cilantro leaves, chopped tomatoes, sliced olives

Hands-on time 20 minutes; Total time 30 minutes         

Nutritional information per serving: 244 calories, 6g fat, 1g sat. fat, 43g carbs, 520mg sodium, 8mg fiber, 9g protein 

Gluten-free if gluten-free tortillas are used

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Summer Squash and Chickpea Curry

By the Gracious Vegan


This lovely curry, with its smooth coconut-tomato base, is chock-full of tasty ingredients that happen to be good for you. Only the coconut milk is not whole-food, and going with “light” makes it healthier than full-fat coconut milk. I like to serve this curry with the baked Indian fritters. 

Makes: 6 servings

Water-sauté the following ingredients in a Dutch oven or other large pan (start with ¼ cup water and add more as needed.) Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender.

  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 medium straightneck summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (around 1.5 cups)
  • 1 large or two small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (around 1.5 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Stir in the following ingredients and cook 1 to 2 more minutes.

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon siracha sauce (or to taste) 
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Add the following ingredients to the pot and stir.

  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • One 16-ounce can tomato sauce or one 14-ounce can petite-dice tomatoes (your preference depending on the texture you’d like)
  • One 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (see more needed below)

Raise the heat to medium high and bring the curry to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the eggplant, squash, and zucchini are completely tender but still hold their shape, and the sauce has thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve the curry with rice and sprinkle with additional cilantro.

  • Cooked rice (preferably brown basmati rice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Timing: Hands-on time: 30 minutes; total time: 55 minutes        

Nutritional information per serving (including 1/2 cup brown rice each): 292 calories, 5g fat, 4g sat. fat, 51g carbs, 880mg sodium, 9mg fiber9g protein 


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Zoodles with Creamy Pesto Sauce


By the Gracious Vegan

Spiralizing is fun! Zucchini “noodles” cook quickly, making for a fast dinner. Pair it with a no-oil pesto and you’ve got a delicious, satisfying, healthy dish that’s light on calories. If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a small julienne blade on a mandoline slicer or other gadget. Grating isn’t a good choice because the zucchini gets too mushy.

Makes: 4 servings

Creamy pesto sauce. Blend these together in a small (mini) food processor or with an immersion blender in a relatively small container. If you double the recipe, a larger food processor or blender will work. Add additional water if you need it. 

  • One small/medium avocado, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut into a few pieces each
  • 1.5 cups (packed) basil leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon miso
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Zoodles. Trim the ends of the zucchini and spiralize them according to your spiralizer’s instructions. If you end up with very long strands, cut them to shorter lengths. 

  • 2 pounds zucchini 

Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven on the stove to medium-high. Add ¼ cup water, the spiralized zucchini, and a bit of salt (to taste). Cook, stirring regularly, for 7-10 minutes, until the zucchini reaches your preferred texture. (You could cook them in a large glass bowl in the microwave if you prefer.)

Stir in the creamy pesto sauce, heat it briefly, and serve immediately. 

Timing: Hands-on time: 35 minutes; total time: 35 minutes

Nutritional information per serving: 165 calories, 12g fat, 1g sat. fat, 14g carbs, 378mg sodium, 6mg fiber5g protein 


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Broiled Zucchini

By the Gracious Vegan


I like to broil zucchini instead of roasting or sautéing to avoid using a lot of oil and/or ending up with mushy zucchini. Broiled zucchini is very good with Vegan Tzatziki but goes with a lot of sauces too. With a substantial side dish, broiled zucchini with a sauce can serve as a wonderful low-calorie entree.

Makes: 4 servings

Preheat broiler on high. Place a rack 3-4 inches from the broiler element. 

Trim the ends off the zucchini. Slice it diagonally into ½” oblong slices.  

  • 1 pound zucchini

Line a sheet pan or cookie sheet with foil. (Parchment paper can catch fire, and silicone mats may melt at this temperature.) Spray or brush the pan with oil. Lay the zucchini slices on the foil. Spray or brush with oil and season with salt and pepper and/or other spices (e.g., Montreal steak seasoning, Italian herbs).

Broil the zucchini until it is brown on top (timing is extremely variable depending on the broiler—check after 4 minutes and go from there), then flip and broil until there are brown spots and it’s tender but not mushy. 

Timing: Hands-on time: 10 minutes; total time: 15 minutes        

Nutritional information per serving (4 servings, using half of the vegan tzatziki sauce recipe): 103 calories, 7g fat, 1g sat. fat, 9g carbs, 227mg sodium, 2mg fiber3g protein 


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Vegan Tzatziki

By the Gracious Vegan


Tzatziki is a delicious side dish from Greece. Traditionally made from yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, and dill, tzatziki can also be made with cashew cream, and it comes out divine. You can use tzatziki with many other dishes (or just eat it straight from the refrigerator!).

Makes 1.75 cups

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes. (You can skip this step if you have a high-speed blender.) 

  • 1 cup cashews

Drain the cashews and rinse them under cold water. Then place them in a blender with these ingredients and blend on high for 30 seconds to several minutes until very smooth.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Grate the cucumber (I peel mine first) and use a clean kitchen towel, cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or several paper towels to squeeze out the excess moisture. 

  • About 6” of cucumber, any kind; remove seeds if they are prominent

Stir in (don’t blend) the grated cucumber and dill. 

  • 1 teaspoon dried dill

Stir in more water if needed for a yogurt-like texture.

Timing: 25 minutes (more like 10 minutes if you have a high-speed blender)

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed


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Baked Indian Fritters

By the Gracious Vegan


These fritters are very much like pakora appetizers at Indian restaurants. Baking them rather than deep-frying makes them a lot healthier. They’re substantial enough to serve as a main course or side dish. 

Makes: 13-15 fritters

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

The zucchini. Trim and grate the zucchini. Move to a colander, sprinkle generously with salt and toss well, massaging the salt into the zucchini. The salt will be rinsed off later, so don’t worry. 

  • 1.25 pounds zucchini

Leave the grated zucchini in the colander for 20 minutes, then rinse under cold water. Squeeze as much water out as you can, then spread out on a clean dish towel. Cover with another clean dish towel and press or roll, getting the zucchini as dry as you can. 

The onion mixture. In a microwave-safe dish, microwave the following ingredients until the onion is transparent and soft, about 4-6 minutes.

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 fresh green or red chili (jalapeño or hotter), de-seeded and de-veined (to keep it mild if you wish), finely chopped (or use half a can of diced mild green chilis)
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

The “egg”. Blend the following ingredients together with an immersion blender in a smallish container (e.g., a two-cup measure). Blend on high until the mixture is thick, about a minute. 

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum 
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric

Flour and assembly. Whisk together the following ingredients ina medium-large bowl.

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (aka gram or garbanzo bean flour)
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add in the zucchini, “egg,” and onion mixture and stir until well blended. There should be no more flour showing and you should have a thick mixture.

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Drop scant 1/4 cups of the mixture onto the sheet. Press down lightly. Bake for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked with definite golden or brown edges. 

Serve with chutney, such as my Mint Cilantro Chutney.

Timing: Hands-on time 40 minutes; total time 65 minutes

Nutritional information per serving (5 servings): 113 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat. fat, 19g carbs, 427mg sodium, 4mg fiber6g protein 

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Curried Zucchini Soup


By the Gracious Vegan

Zucchini and curry play well together. This easy soup is thickened with beans and rice. No oil and whole-food ingredients mean this soup is super-healthy and low-calorie, though it doesn’t taste like it. 

Makes: 6 servings

In a Dutch oven or other large pan, cook the following ingredients in water (start with 1/4 cup and keep adding as needed), until onion is soft and transparent and zucchini cubes are soft, 5-10 minutes. 

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 12 ounces zucchini, cubed (about 3/4”)

Add the following ingredients, bring the soup to a boil, then turn down, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. 

  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1.5 - 2 cups cooked white beans (any kind) or black-eyed peas (if using a can of beans, drain and rinse them)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked white rice (or 1 cup cooked brown rice)*
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Once the soup is cooked, use a hand (immersion) blender to puree soup in pan.

* Pre-cooked brown rice is available in the frozen section of some stores, like Trader Joe’s.

Timing: Hands-on time: 15 minutes; total time: 40 minutes

Nutritional information per serving: 152 calories, 1g fat, 0g sat. fat, 25g carbs, 820mg sodium, 4mg fiber11g protein 

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Whole Wheat Flour Tortilla Crisps

By the Gracious Vegan


These tortilla crisps are great on so many levels. First, they're a great way to use up leftover flour tortillas. Second, they taste fantastic. They are just as delicious as, say, tortilla chips, but have much less fat. You can add spices (cumin, paprika, you name it) if you want more zing than just a bit of salt. You can also choose your shape--triangles, rectangles, whatever you're feeling like. 

Heat oven to 400° F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil or parchment paper. Cut tortillas into quarters or eighths and lay them on the paper or foil in a single layer. If desired, spray tortillas with spray-oil on the top and sprinkle a little salt on them. 

  • Four 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas (or whatever quantity you want)

Bake them, switching the sheets halfway through, until crisp (but not burnt), for a total of 5-7 minutes. 

Nutrition: Manufactured whole wheat flour tortillas are made with some fat, so these are not 100% unprocessed. 

Timing: about 10 minutes

I have not tried this with gluten-free tortillas.


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Golden Green Split Pea Soup


By the Gracious Vegan

This is one of those comforting soups that helps you relax. It's not trying to impress -- it just taste good and wholesome, and that's enough. The combination of green and yellow split peas gives it a golden-green glow, and the vegetables provide welcome chunkiness and variety.

Makes 9 cups (6 servings)

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, water-sauté the following ingredients until the onion is soft and transparent, 5-8 minutes. (Start with ¼ cup water and add more if you need it.)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped

Add the following ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the peas are very soft, about 1 hour.

  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced (1/2”)
  • 1 cup dried green split peas
  • 1 cup dried yellow split peas
  • 7 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ Tablespoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

The soup will thicken as it sits after cooking. Stir in additional water as needed. 

Timing: 20 minutes hands-on time; 80 minutes total

Nutrition: 100% whole-food, unprocessed

Per serving: 274 calories; 1g fat; 0g sat. fat; 49g carbs; 1091mg sodium; 18g fiber; 19g protein


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Mint-Cilantro Chutney

By the Gracious Vegan


This chutney is super-flavorful. Packed with cilantro and mint, it makes a big impact on breads, appetizers, roasted vegetables, or just spooned out of the container into your mouth! It has a great sweet-sour thing going on with the dates and onions. You can control the spiciness with the number of peppers and whether you de-seed and de-vein them.  

Makes about 1.75 cups

In a food processor or blender, add these and combine into a paste.

  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves, packed
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, packed
  • 2 dates, chopped (or 2 Tablespoons chopped dates, or 1 Tablespoon date sugar) (soften date pieces in hot water for a few minutes if they are hard; drain)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, deseeded and deveined (unless you like it HOT)
  • Juice of 1 small/medium lemon 
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup ground almonds or dry coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Then add water and process until blended

  • 3/8 cup water

Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Timing:  About 15 minutes

Nutrition: 100% whole-food, unprocessed ingredients


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Easy, Tasty, Baked Black Bean Burgers

By the Gracious Vegan 


This black bean burger has incredible texture and taste without any added oil, except a little spray-oil (which could be skipped, but it helps crisp the surfaces). The burgers are baked rather than pan-fried, which not only saves on oil but also eliminates time standing at the stove. Big thanks to Matt Frazier, the No Meat Athlete, for the starting point of this recipe, his Veggie Burger Formula. These freeze well, meaning great leftover meals! 

Makes 10-12 burger patties

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two large sheet pans with parchment or foil. Spray with oil. 

Sauté the following ingredients in a skillet with water (start with ¼ cup water) for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are transparent and soft and the pan is dry. (Do not microwave, because that results in too much moisture.)

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms (4 mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green or red pepper

Transfer the vegetables to a food processor and pulse with the following ingredients until nicely combined but still chunky. 

  • 1.5 cups black beans (equivalent to one can; drain and rinse if using canned)
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs (whole wheat crumbs work well)
  • 1/2 cup well-chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon regular or Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Form 3-4" patties (fairly thin) with your hands and lay them on the parchment paper. Spray the tops with spray-oil. Bake for 12 minutes, then flip them over and bake 8-10 minutes more or until firm with brown surfaces. Serve on English muffins or other bread.

  • Whole wheat English muffins, toasted

Timing: Around 50-55 minutes

Nutrition: The ketchup, spray-oil, and vital wheat gluten keep this from being 100% whole-food unprocessed. Pretty close, though!

Nutritional information per serving (including bread/muffin):

242 calories, 5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 40g carbs, 652mg sodium, 6g fiber, 11g protein

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Gracious Vegan Pie Crust (Savory and Sweet)


By the Gracious Vegan

I owe the gist of this recipe to Carole Walters. I veganized it, played with the proportions, and adapted it for savory pies (like my Vegetable Pot Pie). This dough is easy to make, easy to handle, and is reliably flaky. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry cutter or a couple of table knives to cut the butter and shortening into the flour. 

Makes 2 crusts

Put these in the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.

  • 2.5 cups sifted all-purpose flour (I use 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup white)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar for savory pie OR 1 Tablespoon for sweet pie
  • 1 teaspoon salt for savory pie OR 1/2 teaspoon for sweet pie

Add the fats and pulse as much as needed to get a texture with pea-size pellets of butter/shortening.

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, cut into ½” cubes (refrigerated)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening refrigerated, then cut into ½” pieces (refrigerated)

Transfer to a bowl. Add water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, drizzling it around the rim of the bowl. Use a kitchen fork to push the mixture toward the center with each addition.

  • 6 to 7 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

To determine if the mixture has enough water, gather some in your hand and press it against the bowl to see if it will hold together. If not, add more water sparingly, about 1 teaspoon at a time, adding only enough for it to form a mass. Too much liquid and/or overworking the dough will toughen it.

With floured hands, press the dough against the side of the bowl, forming 2 balls. All the crumbs should adhere to the balls and clean the bowl. If not, add a few drops of water. Flatten the balls into two 4- to 5-inch disks.

Dust the disks with flour. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes or longer before rolling out. If too hard to roll out, let it sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes.

Storage: The dough will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer. To thaw, remove from the freezer to refrigerator. Thaw overnight or at least 12 hours.

Timing: About 45 minutes, including chilling time

Nutrition: Crusts have a lot of processed fat, so they are not particularly healthy


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Avocado Chickpea Toast

By the Gracious Vegan


Avocado toast is a fast breakfast, and with this addition of chickpeas, it’s also the delivery system for lots of protein and fiber, not to mention iron, zinc, folate, and potassium (found in all legumes). You could prepare the whole can of chickpeas at once and have the topping ready for 4 servings.

Makes: 1 serving

Prepare the chickpea topping by mashing the following ingredients together with a fork, pastry blender, or potato masher. You’re going for a coarse mash, not a smooth texture.

  • 3/8 cup canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed) (1/4 of a can)
  • ½ Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Toast two slices of bread.

  • Two slices thin-slice whole grain bread

Spread a quarter of an avocado on each slide of toast.

  • Half of a ripe avocado

Spread the chickpea topping over the avocado and enjoy.

Timing: 10 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed

Nutritional information per serving:   

365 calories, 24g fat, 2g sat. fat, 51g carbs, 773mg sodium, 15g fiber, 13g protein

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free bread

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