No-Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes in Bowls 

By The Gracious Vegan

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Sweet potato cubes can be roasted on parchment paper without oil and will bake up nicely. The approach here is different. The tahini mixture coats the sweet potatoes and browns as the sweet potatoes roast. You get closer to a roasted look and feel but without the oil. 

Makes: 4 servings

Roast the sweet potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Whisk the following ingredients together in a large bowl. 

  • 5 teaspoons water

  • 4 teaspoons tahini

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Pinch of smoked paprika

Add in the cubed sweet potatoes and fold with a spatula until all the cubes are coated. 

16 ounces sweet potatoes, 1-inch cubes

Pour the sweet potato cubes onto the parchment paper. Roast for 15 minutes, then flip and roast for 10-15 minutes more, until desired tenderness is reached. If needed, switch to broiler mode and broil the potatoes 1-2 minutes to get the tops brown.

Ideas for bowls


Garbanzo beans; Cucumber, tomatoes, onions; Tahini Sauce; green onions, Greek or green olives


Black beluga lentils; Tomatoes, onions, zucchini; Vegan Tzatziki; green onions, Greek olives


Black beans; Corn, peppers, tomatoes; Vegan Crema and/or salsa; California olives, pepitas, cilantro


Baked/broiled tofu, tempeh; bell peppers, zucchini; peanut sauce; cilantro, lime zest


Baked/broiled tofu, tempeh; green beans, cauliflower, bell peppers; curry sauce; cilantro, garam masala

Timing: Hands-on time 20 minutes; Total time 45 minutes                                                

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed

Nutritional information per serving (roasted sweet potatoes only): 126 calories, 3g fat, 1g sat. fat, 23g carbs, 355mg sodium, 4mg fiber, 3g protein

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Baked Sweet Potatoes with Easy, Tasty Toppings 

By The Gracious Vegan

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Easy baked sweet potatoes can make for a quick lunch or dinner. Combine them with leftover soup or salad, and you’ve got a meal. 

Makes: Adjustable

Bake the sweet potatoes in the oven, microwave, or Instant Pot. Wash, dry, and pierce each sweet potato in several places with a fork or pointed knife. 

  • Sweet potatoes (as many as you want)

For oven-baking, place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Baking times can vary depending on potato size.

For microwave-baking, wrap each sweet potato in a paper towel (it doesn’t need to be moist). Microwave for 3 minutes, check it, then cook for a minute at a time until just tender (they will continue softening). Baking times will vary depending on your oven, how many potatoes you bake together, and the size of the potatoes.  

For Instant Pot, put 1 cup cold water in the pot, insert the steamer rack that came with your Instant Pot. Arrange 4-8 sweet potatoes on the rack. Set on “Steam” for 18-30 minutes (depending on size of potatoes, from small to extra-large). Use natural release method (8-10 minutes). 

Suggestions for toppings

  • Black beans and salsa (Guacamole optional)

  • Chili beans and Vegan Crema (ditto on Guacamole)

  • Cowboy caviar (a mixture of black-eyed peas, corn, avocado, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, a little vinegar and salt)

  • Chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and cucumber with Tahini Sauce

  • Leftover chili

  • Cooked vegetables with leftover sauce (peanut sauce, creamy tomato sauce, white garlic sauce, creamy pesto sauce, gravy)

  • Vegan Crema, pomegranate molasses, and an interesting dried spice like urfa biber, za’atar, or Aleppo pepper

Timing: Hands-on time 10 minutes; Total time 10-60 minutes                                             

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed

Nutritional information per serving (one 8-ounce sweet potato without toppings: 192 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat. fat, 46g carbs, 128mg sodium, 7mg fiber, 3g protein 


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Sweet Potato Cakes

By The Gracious Vegan

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This recipe looks a little fussy at first glance, but it results in beautiful, tasty sweet potato cakes with a light texture, and if you make it a few times, it will become routine.

Makes: 16 cakes (5 servings)

Preheat oven to 425°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the papers with cooking spray. 

Microwave one of the sweet potatoes (poke it with the point of a knife in a few places to allow air to escape; cook on high for about 5 minutes or until soft). Scoop out the flesh into a bowl and mash it. 

Grate the other two raw sweet potatoes. 

  • 3 sweet potatoes totaling around 1.5 pounds 

Make a vegan "egg" by blending the following ingredients together with a stick blender in an appropriately sized 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

Combine the mashed and grated potatoes, the “egg,” and the following ingredients in a medium/large bowl and stir together. 

  • 4 green onions, greens and whites, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (whole wheat crumbs work well)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Create potato cakes by taking 1/4-cups of the mixture, flattening them, and laying them on the sprayed parchment paper. Spray tops with cooking spray. Bake 20 minutes, then flip them over. Bake another 6-8 minutes until golden. 

Timing: Hands-on time 25 minutes; Total time: 55 minutes                                                

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed

Nutritional information per serving: 147 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat. fat, 33g carbs, 679mg sodium, 5mg fiber, 3g protein

Gluten-free if using gluten-free flour

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Gracious Vegan Tahini Sauce

By the Gracious Vegan

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I worked hard to get these proportions right. This comes out right every time, at least for my tastebuds. This works on everything: falafel, baked potatoes (sweet or white), all sorts of vegetables, and cooked grains as well. It is fast to make and lasts about a week in the refrigerator.

Makes 1.5 cups

Blend these together (food processor, blender, or stick blender). Add more water if needed.

  • 3/4 cup tahini

  • 1/2 cup warm water

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Timing: About 10 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food, unprocessed

Nutritional information (per Tablespoon): 46 calories, 4g fat, 1g sat. fat, 1g carbs, 49mg sodium, 1mg fiber2g protein


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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

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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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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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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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Mushroom-Ricotta Calzones

By the Gracious Vegan

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Mushrooms and ricotta cheese couldn’t be more complementary: earthy vs. sharp, chewy vs. creamy, brown vs. white. Throw in tomatoes and Italian spices, and you’ve got a delicious party going on inside the folded-over pizza crust.

Makes 2 calzones (4 servings)

If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven, preheat the oven to 500°, and let it heat 30 minutes after it hits 500°. If you do not have a pizza stone, preheat the oven to 475°.

The dough. You’ll need one pound of pizza dough, thawed. Most supermarkets sell one-pound slabs of dough. I have not found one that is oil-free. If you want to make your own, note that recipes with around 2 cups of flour make about a pound of dough. 

  • One pound of pizza dough (whole wheat dough works well)

The filling. Water-sauté these ingredients in a large skillet over low-medium heat until the liquid released by the mushrooms is evaporated and the mushrooms start to brown, 8-10 minutes.

  • One pound mushrooms of your choice, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, grated, or chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Turn off the heat and stir in the following ingredients.

Divide the pizza dough in half. Stretch out the first piece with your hands (or a rolling pin) into a ¼” thick round (10-12”).  Put half the filling in the center of the dough. Fold the round in half over the filling. Press or crimp the edges of the dough to seal the calzone. Repeat with the second piece of dough and remaining filling. Cut a few small vents in the top of the calzones to let steam escape.

Put the calzones directly on the pizza stone and bake for 12-15 minutes until browned. If you are not using a stone, put them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 475°for 16 to 18 minutes or more, until browned. Let them stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.

While the calzones bake, in the pan used to cook the mushrooms, combine the following and cook at low-medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Serve alongside the calzones for topping or dipping.

  • Remaining half of the petite diced tomatoes
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Red pepper flakes as desired

Timing: Hands-on time 35 minutes, total time: 45 minutes (the times assume you have the vegan ricotta and Parmesan cheese already made or bought)

Nutrition: most commercial doughs include some oil, so this is just shy of 100% whole-food unprocessed

Nutritional information per serving (assuming whole wheat pizza dough): 

493 calories, 18g fat, 3g sat. fat, 68g carbs, 770mg sodium, 13g fiber19g protein 

Gluten-free if gluten-free pizza dough is used

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Creamy Rice with Sundried Tomatoes

By the Gracious Vegan

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This dish is related to risotto, which is made from Arborio rice, not brown rice. I prefer to use brown rice and skip oil and butter, so I took my inspiration from a recipe by Kim Campbell and adapted it for one of my favorite combinations, sundried tomatoes and basil. This could serve as a side dish or an entrée. 

Makes: 6 servings

Over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large skillet, water-sauté the onions starting with ¼ cup water until the onions are transparent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

  • 1 onion, diced 

Add the following ingredients and cook for about 3 more minutes.   

  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (the pouches of Bella Sun Luci tomatoes, julienne-cut, are ideal, because there is no oil, and they are soft; available at many supermarkets)

Separately, blend the following ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. 

  • 8 ounces silken tofu (any kind)
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Add the cream sauce, brown rice and basil to the onion-tomato mixture. Cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened, about 3-5 minutes. 

  • 3 cups cooked short grain brown rice (or use long-grain rice; cooked brown rice can be purchased either frozen or in shelf-stable packages in the grocery aisle)
  • ¼ cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, chopped or sliced

You may need to add a little water to thin out the mixture, especially if you reheat all or some of it – the rice tends to absorb more of the liquid the longer it sits. 

Garnish with more chopped basil, if desired.

Timing: hands-on time 20 minutes, total time: 50 minutes (including rice)

Nutrition: 100% whole-food, unprocessed ingredients

Nutritional information per serving:           

231 calories, 7g fat, 1g sat. fat, 33g carbs, 45mg sodium, 4mg fiber10g protein


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Favorite Vegan Meatballs

By the Gracious Vegan

Spaghetti and Vegetable Meatballs 3.jpg

My husband is picky about texture. I have been through a lot of vegan meatball recipes. I kept tweaking this recipe once I was on the right track, and the finished result is here. These are great with spaghetti and marinara or with whatever sauce you fancy. They also have 15 grams of protein per serving and freeze well. 

Makes: 16 meatballs

Preheat oven to 375°degrees. 

Sauté the peppers and onion 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.) Set aside.

  • ½ medium green pepper, chopped
  • ½ medium red pepper, chopped
  • ½ medium white onion, chopped

Place the following ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times until well combined. 

  • 1.5 cups cooked brown rice (if using frozen, thaw it first)
  • ½ cup old-fashioned or quick oats
  • ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
  • ½ cup cooked black beans or lentils (if canned, drain and rinse)
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika 

Combine this mixture with the pepper and onions and mix them with your hands for a few minutes to activate the gluten’s elasticity. 

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Make 16 ping-pong-ball-size meatballs. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Turn them over and cook for another 15 minutes or more until they are a full shade darker with some parts nicely browned. 

Serve with Gracious Vegan Marinara Sauce or whatever sauce you like, and your choice of pasta. 

Timing: hands-on time 35 minutes, total time 60 minutes (assuming the rice is made)

Nutrition: 100% whole-food, unprocessed ingredients

Nutritional information per serving (based on 4 meatballs per serving):         

251 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat. fat, 44g carbs, 448mg sodium, 7mg fiber15g protein 

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Gracious Vegan Marinara Sauce

By the Gracious Vegan

Gracious Vegan Marinara Sauce.jpg

This recipe started with Isa Moscowitz’s recipe for spaghetti sauce in her Isa Does It cookbook. But I’ve tweaked enough aspects of it that it needs its own identity. You can use water instead of red wine if you don’t like the taste of red wine. 

Makes about 4 cups (1 quart)

Heat a large saucepan or small Dutch oven on medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup of red wine (or water) and wine-sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft.

  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Add the brown sugar and additional wine. Cook about 1 more minute.

  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar (optional)
  • Additional ¼ cup red wine

Mix in the spices and tomatoes and stir. Cook for about 15 minutes with the pot covered (but with the lid ajar to let steam escape).

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (about ¼ teaspoon or more if you like it hot) 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 

Timing: About 30 minutes

Nutrition: The wine and sugar are the only processed ingredients

Total for the batch: 440 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat. fat, 85g carbs, 1058mg sodium, 17mg fiber14g protein 


Photo by Foodista on Flickr

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Hearty Vegan Vegetable Lasagna


By the Gracious Vegan

You don’t have to tell people there’s tofu in this lasagna unless they insist on knowing. My guess is that they will not care what’s in it. They’ll only want to know if there’s more. Multiply the recipe by 1.5 if you want to use a 9” x 13” pan. This freezes well.

Makes 8 servings

Pre-heat the oven to 375°. 

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

  • 1 cup raw cashews (whole or pieces)

Thaw the package of spinach by leaving it out for a few hours or by microwaving it for a few minutes. Let it cool a bit then squeeze out the water well.

  • One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach

Noodles. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.

  • 9  whole wheat lasagna noodles

Vegetables. Microwave or water-sauté the following vegetables until they are fully cooked. Drain away any excess moisture. 

  • 2 cups chopped white mushrooms
  • 3 cups chopped vegetables of your choice (e.g., zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli)

Tomato sauce. Use Gracious Vegan Marinara Sauce or your favorite (you’ll need about 4 cups).

“Ricotta.” In a blender or food processor, process the following ingredients until smooth. The cashews may not get 100% smooth, but that’s okay.

  • The soaked cashews
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained (the kind sold in the refrigerated section, not the vacuum-packed, shelf-stable kind)
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

Stir the thawed, squeezed spinach into the ricotta mixture separately. 

Assembly. In a baking dish (9” x 9” or 7” x 10”), pour in about a cup of sauce to cover the bottom. Layer 3 lasagna noodles (fold or tear them if necessary). Top with a third of the ricotta mixture. Top with a third of the mushroom-vegetable mixture. Repeat 1 cup sauce – 3 noodles – 1/3 ricotta – 1/3 vegetables two more times. End with the final cup of sauce. Top with breadcrumb mixture.

  • ¼ cup dried breadcrumbs (Italian or plain) mixed with ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Bake uncovered for 50 minutes. Let sit about 5 minutes before serving. 


Timing: hands-on time 45 minutes, total time 1.5 hours

Nutrition: 100% whole-food, unprocessed ingredients

Nutritional information per serving:           

339 calories, 11g fat, 2g sat. fat, 45g carbs, 230mgsodium, 9mg fiber17gprotein

Gluten-free if gluten-free lasagna noodles used

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