30-60 minutes

Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

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By the Gracious Vegan

I owe the base recipe to Forks over Knives, although I introduced the date paste to replace half of the maple syrup. The peanut butter swirl satisfies the craving for salty-sweet and, for me, makes the flavor deeper and more satisfying. You could go whole hog and serve these squares as a dessert with chocolate banana ice cream and my healthy, delicious chocolate sauce

Makes one 8-inch-square pan of brownies

Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, extending paper over the edges. 

Wet ingredients. In a small bowl or in a measuring cup, fork-whisk together the following ingredients.

  • 2/3 cup date paste (or you could use another 1/3 cup of maple syrup)

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup

  • 2 Tablespoons smooth almond butter

  • 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry ingredients. In a medium bowl sift together the following ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Peanut butter swirl. In a separate smaller bowl, fork-whisk the following ingredients together. 

  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (I like smooth)

  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1 Tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add the applesauce mixture into the flour-cocoa mixture and stir until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Drop the peanut butter mixture onto the brownie batter in about 8-9 dollops. Use a knife to swirl and feather it lightly into the top of the brownie batter. 

Bake for 30-33 minutes or until firm. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then life the uncut brownies out of the pan with the edges of the parchment paper. Let the brownies cool another 5-10 minutes before eating, or let them cool completely. 

Timing: About 50 minutes, then cooling time.

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

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Kale and Quinoa Greek Salad

By the Gracious Vegan

Makes 6 cups

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This salad has the taste of a Greek salad but is much healthier. The quinoa and lentils pack it with protein, while the two of them plus the kale offer a lot of fiber. Tahini substitutes for oil, which brings the fat content down and adds protein and micronutrients. But apart from all these benefits, it tastes great. I recommend green or black lentils because they don’t break down and dissolve like brown lentils. 

Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover by 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 20-25 minutes until tender. Strain and set aside.

  • 1/2 cup French (du Puy, green) lentils or black (beluga) lentils 

While the lentils are cooking, make the quinoa. Cook them however you like. One method is to place quinoa in a small saucepan with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat, keep the lid on and let sit another 2-3 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

  • 1/2 cup quinoa

Once the lentils and quinoa have cooled a little, place them in a medium-large bowl with the following ingredients and stir gently.

  • 3-4 ounces kale (any kind) (3-4 large leaves), chopped and massaged (3-4 cups) or processed into smaller bits in the food processor 

  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped

  • 1/3 cup Greek black (Kalamata) olives, pitted and halved (or chopped)

Whisk together the dressing ingredients with a fork or in a smaller chopper appliance. Toss the dressing with the salad and serve at room temperature or chilled. 

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini

  • 2 Tablespoons water

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Timing: About 40 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free

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Pea and Potato Creamy Masala

By the Gracious Vegan

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This curry dish features two popular vegetables along with an appealing creamy tomato sauce with Indian spicing. The fenugreek seed powder is key to its success, and you can find it online or in Asian grocery stores. 

 Makes 5 servings

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes while you start the rest of the recipe.

  • 1/3 cups raw cashews

Boil, steam, or microwave the potato chunks until they are just tender (the microwave will take 7-10 minutes, depending on your microwave’s strength). Put them aside.

  • 1 pound Yukon or red- or gold-skin potato, in 1” cubes (peeling optional)

Separately, water-sauté the following ingredients in a Dutch oven or other large pan until they are soft, 8-10 minutes.

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, grated, or finely chopped

  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger

Add the spices and stir 1-2 minutes.

  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seed powder

  • Cayenne pepper for spiciness (I use a pinch, but some like it hotter)

Add the diced green chili pepper and cook 1-2 minutes. 

  • 1 green chili pepper (jalapeno with seeds removed, or a spicier variety if desired), finely chopped

Separately, drain the cashews and place them in a blender with water 1 cup water and process until absolutely smooth and creamy.

Then add tomato paste to the blender and blend it with the cashew cream.

  • 1/2 cup tomato paste

Add the cashew-tomato mixture to the Dutch oven along with the following ingredients. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add additional water to achieve your desired sauce consistency.

  • The potatoes

  • 1.5 cup peas (thawed or frozen)

  • 3/4 cup water (or more)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice, other cooked grains, or with flatbread. 

  • Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish

Timing: Hands-on time 40 minutes, total time 40 minutes                     

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving (with 1/2 cup cooked brown rice per serving): 299 calories, 4g fat, 1g sat. fat, 57g carbs, 717mg sodium, 7g fiber, 9g protein 

Gluten-free

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Spaghetti Squash with Cashew Ricotta, Spinach, and Peas 

By the Gracious Vegan

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Who knew that vegetables could taste this good? Add a little vegan ricotta and parmesan cheeses to these vegetables, and they become addictive. You can bake this dish in the squash shells or in a casserole dish. 

Makes 4 servings

Make cashew-based ricotta cheese if you don’t have some handy. (It freezes well.) Make vegan parmesan cheese if you don’t have some handy. (It refrigerates and freezes well.)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place the two halves of the squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish. Add 2 Tablespoons water. Microwave them, uncovered, until tender, 10-15 minutes, depending on your microwave’s strength.

  • One spaghetti squash (2.5 - 3 pounds), cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed

Separately, in a large skillet or cooking pot, bring a little water in the bottom to a boil (1/4 - 1/2 inch of water). Add the peas, bring it back to boiling, and cook them 2 minutes.

  • 1.5 cup frozen peas (I like petite peas)

Add the spinach and stir until it is wilted, 1-2 minutes. Then boil for another minute. Drain well and transfer the peas and spinach to a large bowl. 

  • 5 ounces fresh spinach (chopped if it is not baby spinach) (alternative: 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed)

Use a fork or spoon to scrape the softened squash from the shells. Put these innards into the large bowl with the peas and spinach. Then add the following ingredients and stir everything together.

Place the empty squash halves in a casserole or other suitable dish for baking. Spoon filling into each. (Alternatively, just spoon the mixture into a sprayed small-medium baking dish.) Top with more vegan parmesan.

  • 1/8 cup vegan parmesan cheese 

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 400°F until the top is golden. Garnish, if desired, with:

  • Additional crushed red pepper

  • Chopped fresh basil 

Timing: Hands-on time 25 minutes (longer if you need to make the cheeses), total time 50 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food plant-based; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 379 calories, 17g fat, 3g sat. fat, 48g carbs, 60mg sodium, 14mg fiber, 14g protein 

Gluten-free

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Edamame and Potato Soup

By the Gracious Vegan

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This delicious soup may surprise you. Most of us eat edamame only as appetizers in Asian restaurants. Here they co-star with potatoes in a healthy and tasty soup. Some people who say they don’t like dill even like this flavor, so give it a try. It’s super-easy in a pressure cooker, but I provide stovetop directions as well.

Makes 6.5 cups (5 servings)

Add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot. 

  • 1 pound potatoes (any kind), cut into small/medium dice (your choice to peel the potatoes or not)

  • 1 small onion or half a medium/large onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 medium stalk celery, chopped (about 1/3 cup)

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 cups vegetable broth

  • 1.5 cups frozen shelled edamame

  • 1.5 teaspoon dried dill (or 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped)

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (unless your broth is salty, then be careful)

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook on high pressure (“Manual”) for 5 minutes, with 10-minute quick release. 

Stovetop directions: Increase the water to 3.5 cups. Put everything together in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Mash to your liking (I like to keep some of the potato and edamame chunky).

Top with garnishes if desired.

Timing: About 45 minutes with the prep

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Gluten-free


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Pasta e Fagioli

By the Gracious Vegan

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“When the stars make you drool, like a pasta fazool / That's amore.” This stew is worth singing over! I started with an Olive Garden copycat recipe I found, then I had to take out the oil and meat and build up the meatless flavor. It works! The fresh basil and the combination of oregano, thyme, and garlic give this a classic and satisfying taste. Topping with vegan parmesan adds more layers of flavor and texture and is so worth it.

Makes 7.5 cups (5 servings)

Put the following ingredients in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes. 

  • 1 small onion or half large onion, diced or chopped

  • 2 small/medium carrots, diced or chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, diced or chopped

  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water

Add the following ingredients and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, partly covered. 

  • 2 cans (15-ounce) of cooked beans (I like one can each of pinto and small white beans, but any kind works well), drained and rinsed

  • 1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced or petite-diced tomatoes

  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

While the stew is cooking, cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions; drain well and set aside.

  • 1 cup (dry) small pasta (ditalini is a common choice, but choose any kind you want)

After the stew is cooked, add the following ingredients, stir, and serve. 

  • The cooked pasta

  • 1/3 cup (well packed) chopped or sliced fresh basil (or 1.5 teaspoons dried basil added earlier with the other spices, but fresh works better)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Optional topping:

If there are leftovers, the pasta will swell up and absorb some of the liquid. You can add water or more tomato sauce. 

Timing: about 45 minutes

Nutrition: whole food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if made with gluten-free pasta

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Jam Thumbprint Cookies

By the Gracious Vegan

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In my quest to devise sweet things with no sugar, butter, oil, or eggs, I found several recipes that involved tahini, one of my favorite ingredients. In sweet foods, tahini can taste a little bitter to some people, but I happen to love that edge. If your tastes run toward very sweet desserts, you may not like these, because the sweetness (from date sugar) is mellow. Note that the date sugar makes these dark—they almost look like a chocolate cookie. A winner!

Makes 20-24 cookies

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two sheet or cookie pans with silicone sheets or parchment paper. Whisk together the following ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • 3/4 cup date sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • Pinch salt

In a smaller bowl or in a food processor, combine the following ingredients until they are smoothly combined. 

  • 1/2 cup tahini

  • 3/8 cup water 

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add the tahini mixture to the flour mixture and stir until smooth. If mixture is still crumbly, add water by the tablespoon as needed until smooth dough forms. 

Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in the sesame seeds before placing them onto the cookie sheet. 

  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds

Slightly flatten the balls and press a thumbprint into the center of each cookie. They will not spread much, so they can be fairly close together. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes or until the sesame seeds just start to brown.

Remove the cookies from the oven and fill each one with about 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.

  • 1/4 cup raspberry or other jam*

*To make a homemade berry filling, mash fresh, ripe berries (or berries that have been thawed) with maple syrup or agave nectar until desired consistency is reached.

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 45 minutes

Gluten-free 

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Gracious Vegan Almond Poppy Seed Cake

By the Gracious Vegan

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This is a barely adapted recipe from Vegan Richa. The reason I am not simply linking to it is that her recipe is difficult to triple (I rounded some to the nearest familiar measure for ease) and I added extra nondairy milk, because every time I made her recipe it was too thick. Note that the cake will be darker if you use almond flour made from unblanched almond. I think it’s prettier to use blanched, but both ways work well. This cake has a phenomenal flavor as well as texture. It has a moist, delicate crumb.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9” round cake pan with parchment or wax paper, or use a tube pan. Spray the sides of the pan with spray oil.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, mix the flax and milk and let them sit for 5 minutes. 

  • 1 cup nondairy milk 

  • 3/8 cup (6 Tablespoons) flaxseed meal

After 5 minutes, add the following ingredients and mix well.

  • 1/2 cup granulated organic cane sugar

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar)

  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract (if lemon flavor is preferred, you can use lemon extract or your desired amount of lemon zest)

In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and break up any lumps with a spoon or whisk. 

  • 3 cups almond flour

  • 3/4 cup starch (recommended: 1/2 cup potato starch + 1/4 cup tapioca starch)*

  • 3 Tablespoons poppy seeds

  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick from the center comes out clean.

Cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan. Cool completely before icing. For a layer cake, slice the 9” round in half and fill with Vegan White Chocolate Cashew Buttercream, then top with a berry sauce and berries. Note that spreading frosting on the cut side of one of these layers is difficult, because the crumbs come off the cake and onto the frosting. It works best by piping the filling or turning over the bottom layer so that the bottom of the cake is in the middle.

* A note about starches. Too much tapioca starch (which is the same as tapioca flour) or cornstarch can make baked goods too dense. Too much potato starch (not the same as potato flour) can make baked goods too crumbly. This is why Vegan Richa suggests the blend she does. This cake’s texture is on the crumbly side, which is one reason I like it. You could go half potato starch and half tapioca or cornstarch.

Timing: 15 minutes to prepare it, 30 to bake, and 15 to cool

Nutrition: Mostly healthy, though it contains some sugar

Gluten-free

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Classic-Style Vegan Enchiladas 

By the Gracious Vegan

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I grew up in Southern California when you couldn’t get authentic Mexican food everywhere. No food trucks, no pop-ups, no regional Mexican cuisines. I love all the new dishes you can get, but I still love the flavor of classic red enchilada sauce. Over the last couple of years I’ve tried so many types of fillings that I’ve lost count. Finally a combination clicked — mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and corn. I use a little tofu, with spices, to bind them together so the rolling is as easy as possible. I hope you find these as satisfying and delicious as I do.

Makes 16-20 enchiladas

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Water-sauté (start with 1 Tablespoon water) the following ingredients in a large skillet or Dutch oven until the vegetables are tender and all the liquid released by the mushrooms is evaporated, 10-15 minutes. 

  • 4 cups diced mushrooms (about 10 ounces)

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 1 red pepper, diced

  • 1 green pepper, diced

After the vegetables are tender, add the corn and cook for a few minutes to incorporate and thaw it, if frozen. Take off the heat. 

  • 1 cup corn (fresh, canned, or frozen)

Separately, blend the following ingredients in a mini chopper or with an immersion (stick) blender or whisk until smooth.

  • 1/2 cup silken tofu (any kind)

  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the tofu mixture into the vegetables for your filling.

Use one or two shallow casserole or glass baking dishes. Spread 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish. Pour a cup of sauce into a pie plate where you can cover the tortillas with sauce. Briefly microwave a few tortillas at a time so they are as soft as possible. Dip each one into the pie plate with sauce and turn it over to coat it. Then lay it down (in the casserole dish) and put 3-4 Tablespoons filling at one end and roll it up. Place it at the end of the casserole dish. Continue with the rest of the tortillas and filling. Top with more enchilada sauce. 

If you like your enchiladas to stay very moist, cover the casserole with foil and bake at 375°for about 20 minutes. If you like them drier, bake for about 25 minutes, uncovered. In both cases you should hear some sizzling, which tells you they’re baked through. 

Serve with any/all of the following.

Timing: About an hour

Nutrition: Whole food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free

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Massaman Peanut Noodle Soup

By the Gracious Vegan

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There’s hardly a Thai-inspired dish I don’t love. I’d seen a number of recipes for Thai noodle soup online, but most of them contained coconut milk (high in saturated fat), oil, and sugar. I had to figure out how to eliminate those without sacrificing taste and texture. Here is the result—a mouth-watering peanut-infused soup with noodles. It’s creamy and savory, but with hints of lime and curry paste to jazz things up.

Makes 5 servings

Start soaking the cashews and dates for the cashew broth, if needed.

Water-sauté the vegetables (start with 1/4 cup water) for 8 to 10 minutes, until the sweet potato pieces are soft.

  • 1.5 cups diced sweet potatoes (peeling optional)

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

Cashew broth. Create cashew broth for the soup by blending the following ingredients on high for 30 seconds or longer, until the cashews and dates are dissolved. (If you do not have a high speed blender, soak the cashews first for 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them and soak them for 20 minutes; drain.) Set the broth aside. 

  • 2.5 cups water

  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter 

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews

  • 1/4 cup, well packed, date pieces (pitted) (pre-soak the dates if they are hard) (or 1/4 cup homemade date paste)

Back to the sweet potatoes and red peppers: add the following ingredients to pot, stir them in, and cook for another few minutes.

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger

  • 1 Tablespoon red curry paste (I like Maesri or Thai Kitchen brand)

  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Increase heat to medium-high, add the following ingredients, stir, and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, until the thickness is to your liking.

  • 2 cups vegetable stock

  • The cashew broth

  • Juice from one lime (about 2 Tablespoons)

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce 

  • 1 teaspoon Chinese roasted sesame paste, if you have it

Add the following ingredients and cook for 3 minutes.

  • 3 ounces whole grain thin noodles or spaghetti (you can use a package of ramen noodles without the flavor packet, but note that they contain refined flour)

  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

To serve, ladle soup into bowls, and divide the garnishes among the bowls.

  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Timing: about 45 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if gluten-free noodles are used

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Oven-Roasted Vegetable Fajitas

By the Gracious Vegan

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Don’t be alarmed by the number of spices. They are common spices, easy to find, but they add up to an uncommonly great flavor. The oven-roasting means you can skip the oil and still get that one-of-a-kind fajitas effect of charred edges and a velvety softness to the vegetables. The toppings finish the drama: the more the merrier!

Makes 6 servings

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Toss the following ingredients together in a large bowl.

  • (optional) 4-8 ounces seitan, tempeh, or extra-firm tofu, sliced thin (about 1/2”), then cut at various angles

  • 4 bell peppers (a mix of colors is nice), sliced

  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

  • 2 small zucchinis, sliced

  • 1 onion, sliced thin or chopped

  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Mix the following ingredients together in a bowl or jar, then pour over the vegetables and protein and stir. 

  • ¼ cup lime juice

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini

  • 1 Tablespoon water

  • ½ Tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Divide the mixture onto the two sheet pans and spread out the contents into a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes, then stir and flip the vegetables. Roast for 10-15 more minutes, until the vegetables are tender, the liquid is evaporated, and the edges of some of the vegetables are brown. Serve with your choice of:

Timing: About an hour

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free tortillas and your omit the seitan

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Leafy Green Lentil Soup

By the Gracious Vegan

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This is the ultimate healthy soup. The lentils add critical substance, while the cumin, coriander, mint, cilantro, and jalapeño contribute incredible flavor. You may be surprised how addictive this soup is. It’s an intense green color as well. 

Makes 9 servings

Put the following ingredients in a large (at least 6-quart) Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender. 

  • 8 cups vegetable broth

  • 2 large onions, chopped

  • 1 cup brown or black (Beluga) lentils *

  • 1 medium potato (russet, red skin, Yukon gold), scrubbed (peeled if desired) and cut into 1/2"-inch dice

  • Sliced stems/ribs from 8 large green or red chard leaves

  • 2 teaspoons cumin 

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Then stir the following ingredients into the pot. Cover and cook 5 minutes more.

  • 4 scallions, sliced

  • 2 cups chopped broccoli (1 medium or large crown)

  • Chopped leaves from the 8 large green or red chard leaves

Finally, stir in the following ingredients. Return to a simmer, cover and cook until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more.

  • 10 ounces leaf spinach, any tough stems trimmed, chopped (or whole baby spinach)

  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (or 2 teaspoons dried mint)

  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced (make it a whole one if you like spicy-hot)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Stir in lemon juice. Use a stick (immersion) blender to make a smooth soup.

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, and/or pepper.

Optional garnishes:

* For a variation, you can use green French lentils (Lentilles du Puy) and keep the soup chunky and unblended. They have thicker skins and need about 15 more minutes cooking time. 

Timing: Hands-on time 40 minutes, total time 60 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 128 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat. fat, 22g carbs, 799mgsodium, 6mg fiber9gprotein 

Gluten-free

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Turkish Red Lentil Soup 

By the Gracious Vegan

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Turkish red lentil soup is a great soup for your regular rotation. It’s quick, cheap, and filling. It works well any time of year and is perfect for when you’re feeling under the weather. You can keep it simple or dress it up with lots of toppings.

Freezes well. Instant Pot instructions at bottom.

Makes 7 servings

Put all ingredients in a Dutch oven or soup pot, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, 30 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the lentils have virtually dissolved into a puree.

  • 8 cups vegetable broth

  • 2 cups red lentils

  • 1/4 cup uncooked white rice or 3/4 cup cooked brown rice*

  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 Tablespoons sweet paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon urfa biber or Aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1 medium tomato, finely diced

  • Add salt to taste. Add a little water if it’s too thick. 

  • Salt to taste (1.25 teaspoons)

Optional garnishes:

* Some stores, like Trader Joe’s, offer pre-cooked frozen brown rice in the frozen foods aisle. 

 

For the Instant Pot: Put the main list of ingredients in the Instant Pot. 

  • Use 7 cups vegetable broth instead of 8 cups

  • Valve in the sealing position

  • “Manual” setting for 10 minutes

  • 10-minute natural release

  • Stir in the salt 

 

Timing: hands-on time 15 minutes; total time: 50 minutes         

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 221 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat. fat, 39g carbs, 1011 mgsodium, 9mg fiber16gprotein 

Gluten-free

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Foolproof Baked Falafel

By the Gracious Vegan

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Boy, have I tried a lot of falafel recipes. I’ve pan-fried and baked — I don’t deep-fry anymore after nearly setting the kitchen on fire once. I’ve bought special tools from Israel for scooping the disks so the mixture won’t disintegrate. I’ve tried adding spinach for color, baking soda for leavening, and all sorts of inauthentic spices. My solution is not how it’s made in Middle Eastern restaurants and carts, where they soak raw chickpeas for 12-24 hours, grind them with the other ingredients, then deep-fry the balls. Mine are made from canned chickpeas and are baked with a minimum of spray oil. But they hold together without fail, are simply and well spiced, have a lot fewer calories and fat then traditional falafel, and go well with pita, vegetables, and tahini sauce. I’m sticking with these.

Makes about 2 dozen falafel rounds (enough for at least 8 sandwiches)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly spray the papers with spray-oil. 

  • Spray oil

Pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor until everything is minced but not reduced to a smooth spread. Stop and scrape down the sides if necessary. 

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed

  • 1 small onion, or half a medium-large onion, roughly chopped

  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves

  • 2 Tablespoons water

  • 1 Tablespoon cumin

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons flour (any kind)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Add another Tablespoon of water if the mixture doesn’t adhere.

Scoop the mixture into tightly packed 2-Tablespoon balls (a cookie scoop works well for this). Put the balls on the parchment paper, then flatten them into thick, tight patties. Spray the tops of the falafel with spray-oil. 

Bake for 15 minutes, until the bottoms are golden. Then flip them and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the other sides are golden.

Serve on: 

  • Pita bread (I prefer whole wheat)

With a salad of: 

  • Chopped tomatoes

  • Chopped or sliced cucumbers

  • Chopped or sliced onions

Topped with:

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Timing: About 50 minutes

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free flour and gluten-free pita bread

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Colorful Kale and Rice Salad

By the Gracious Vegan

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This healthy salad will fill you up and satisfy your taste buds. There’s no oil or other processed ingredients. A good amount of protein comes from the almonds and sesame seeds, there’s fiber from the brown rice and vegetables, and dozens of micronutrients come from the kale, one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. And did I mention it’s delicious?

Makes 8 cups

Cook rice per package directions. (I like to use the Instant Pot: 1 cup brown rice, 1.5 cups water, pressure release handle in “Sealing” position, 22 minutes on “Manual” setting, 10-minute “Natural Release.”) Let the rice cool for at least 10 minutes. 

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice

  • 2 cups water (or 1.5 cups with the Instant Pot)

Gently toss the cooled rice with the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

  • 5-6 large kale leaves (about 6 ounces), ribs removed, chopped and massaged until they just start to wilt

  • 3 cups shredded or chopped red cabbage (1/4 of a small head)

  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated

  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds (whole or chopped) (tamari almonds work well)

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, or 4 teaspoons dried dill

  • 2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds (you can roast raw sesame seeds in a skillet for a few minutes)

Dressing. Whisk the following ingredients together in a small bowl (or in a mini chopper, starting with the garlic). 

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 Tablespoons stone-ground mustard (or another mustard to your liking)

Drizzle the dressing over the rice mixture and toss.

The flavors definitely need time to mingle; otherwise the lemon juice and soy sauce can stand out too strongly. I recommend at least 2 hours for the flavors to blend.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. This last 4-5 days in the refrigerator.

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About an hour, unless you have cooked brown rice on hand

Gluten-free

 

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Yellow Thai Curry with Potatoes and Green Beans

By the Gracious Vegan

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Yellow curries are in the medium range of spiciness in Thai cuisine (green is the hottest, then red, yellow, and then Massaman). This curry is super-satisfying in part because of the potatoes and green beans, vegetables that most people like. I replaced coconut milk with cashew milk and coconut extract in order to decrease the significant saturated fat that coconut milk brings with it. Over rice, this is a great entree any time of the year.

Makes 4 servings

Start the cashews soaking if you don’t have a high-speed blender. Soakcashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes.

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews

Vegetables. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the potatoes for 4 minutes. Leave them in the pot. 

  • 1 pound red-skin or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed

Add green beans and cook another minute.

  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Add peas and cook 3 more minutes. Drain vegetables.

  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Cashew liquid

Drain and rinse the cashews (if you soaked them) and combine with the following ingredients in the blender. Blend until the cashews are dissolved (from 30 seconds to several minutes). Set aside. 

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 pitted dates (or two teaspoons brown sugar)

  • 1 Tablespoon cashew or peanut butter

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Putting it all together.In a Dutch oven or other large pan, water-sauté the following ingredients for about 5 minutes, until they begin to get tender.

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Stir in curry paste. Cook 2-3 minutes, so that the paste cooks a bit.

  • 2-3 Tablespoons Penang or yellow curry paste (I like Maesri brand yellow curry paste)

Stir in all the other ingredients and simmer about 2-3 minutes. 

  • Potatoes, green beans and peas

  • Cashew liquid

Add final ingredients and cook 2 minutes more. 

  • 2 Tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves (Thai or regular basil) 

  • 3 kaffir lime leaves or 1 Tablespoon lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice. 

  • Chopped fresh cilantro

Nutrition: whole-food plant-based; WFPBNO

Timing: About 50 minutes

Gluten-free

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Hearty Potato Chowder

By the Gracious Vegan

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This divine chowder is perfect for a fall or winter meal, even part of a holiday dinner. It’s substantial, with hints of thyme, onion, celery, and umami. The corn and carrots add specks of color. This chowder could become your go-to potato soup recipe. 

Makes: 8 servings

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 cups raw cashews (whole or pieces)

Add the following ingredients to a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

  • 6 medium Yukon gold, red skin, or russet potatoes, peeled (or not, if you prefer) and cut into 1/2” dice (about 6 cups of dice)

  • 5 cups vegetable broth

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4” dice

  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4” inch dice

  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

While the soup is cooking, complete the cashew cream by draining the cashews and rinsing them under cold water. Then place them in a blender with enough fresh cold water to barely cover them. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth, so smooth that you can no longer detect any bits of cashews.

After the potatoes are soft, mash some of them in the soup pot with a potato masher and stir to thicken the soup. Add the following ingredients and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, because the cashew cream can burn on the bottom of the pot.

  • Kernels from 2 ears of corn (or 1.5 cups frozen corn)

  • Cashew cream from 1 cup cashews

  • 1 Tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos, if you have it; or 2 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 1.5 teaspoons salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Remove the thyme twigs. Garnish each bowl, if desired, with chives and diced tomato.

  • 2 tablespoons minced chives (optional)

  • 1/2 cup diced tomato (optional)

Timing: hands-on time 45 minutes, total time 50 minutes          

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 223 calories, 9g fat, 2g sat. fat, 33g carbs, 127 mgsodium, 4mg fiber6gprotein 

Gluten-free

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Stuffed Potato Skins

By the Gracious Vegan

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This one’s for all of us who love the skin on oven-roasted baked potatoes. These stuffed potato skins make for great appetizers or can be served as an entrée for an informal meal. They’re so versatile, the foundation for many different kinds of fillings.

Makes as many as you want

Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly pierce each potato in 5-10 places with a fork. Place them directly on the oven rack or in a metal or glass pan (potatoes not touching each other) and bake until tender when pierced with a knife or cake tester, about 40 minutes. (The microwave will result in less crispy potato skins.)

  • Small or medium russet potatoes, well washed and dried

Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Cut each potato in half* lengthwise, and use a small spoon or melon baller to scoop out insides, leaving about 1/4-inch shell all around. Reserve insides for another use. Place the halves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Spray the bottoms and tops with cooking spray or olive oil from a mister. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Cooking spray

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Bake until crisp and edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Stuff the halves with one or more of the following toppings, or make up your own. 

Stuffing ideas

*  If the potatoes are large, you could cut the skins in half again, but note that you won’t be able to stuff them with fillings that could drip or fall out (like chili or diced vegetables).  

Nutrition: depends on stuffings

Timing: Hands-on time 10 minutes, total time about an hour (timing does not include stuffings)

Gluten-free

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Creamy Brown Rice Pudding, Sweetened with Dates (Instant Pot)

By the Gracious Vegan

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Rice pudding with sugar and white rice is a snap. But I wanted to find out if it was possibly to have a truly appealing rice pudding with brown rice and without sugar or any other unhealthy sweeteners. The answer is “Yes!” Blending the dates until smooth is the trick here, as is blending the dates with soaked raw cashews, which add creaminess to the pudding. With creative toppings (also healthy), you can create a dessert that will be tempting to omnivores as well as plant-based eaters, although omnivores who are suspicious of vegan or healthy dishes may not like this one much.

Makes about 4.5 cups

Add the following ingredients into Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker). Lock the lid and set the vent to sealing position. Press the Manual button and adjust time to 25 minutes. Cooking will start.

  • 2.5 cups nondairy milk (use 3 cups if you’ll be fully chilling the pudding—it will thicken as it cools)

  • 3/4 cup brown rice (brown short grain or brown jasmine rice preferred)

  • Pinch of salt

Separately, put the following ingredients into the blender container and let them soak together while the rice cooks. 

  • 1 cup water

  • 3/4 cup pitted, halved dates

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

When the Instant Pot beeps, allow the pressure to release slowly for 10 minutes. 

While the pressure is releasing, blend the dates, cashews, water, vanilla, and cinnamon until they form a smooth paste.

After the 10 minutes is up, press the Cancel button and open the vent. After it depressurizes, open the lid and stir in the date-cashew mixture. The pudding will thicken as it cools. Serve warm or cold.

Optional toppings: 

Nutrition: 100% whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 45 minutes

Gluten-free

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Healthy Chocolate Fudge Sauce (no added sugar, vegan, gluten-free)

By the Gracious Vegan

Makes about 1.75 cups

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If you’re eating healthy and just want some sweetness now and then, this fudge sauce is a life-saver. Dates and cashews give it sweetness and creaminess. Nondairy milk and cocoa powder do the rest. It goes with everything!

Let the first three ingredient soak together in the blender container for at least 20 minutes—better would be 30-45 minutes. (You can skip the soaking if you have a high-speed blender and your dates are soft, but I still like to soak, just to make sure everything will get dissolved.)

  • 1.5 cups nondairy milk

  • 2/3 cup pitted, halved dates

  • 1/3 cup raw cashew pieces

After the soaking time, add cocoa powder and blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook over very low heat, stirring or whisking continuously (because the dates and cashews burn) for about 5 minutes, until thickened. You can thin it out by whisking in water if you need to at any point.

Serve warm or cold. 

Nutrition: 100% whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 45 minutes if you soak the mixture for 30-40 minutes

Gluten-free


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