Mostly whole-food

Gracious Vegan Almond Poppy Seed Cake

By the Gracious Vegan

Almond cake with White Chocolate filling square.jpg

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


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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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Moo Shu Vegetables

By the Gracious Vegan

Makes 6 servings

Every cuisine has some kind of wrap, and Moo Shu vegetables are a delicious Chinese-inspired wrap. The hoisin sauce is the key. It’s available at most grocery stores, and certainly at all Chinese-oriented Asian markets. It’s sweet and tangy, not spicy-hot. There are moo shu wrappers you can buy at Asian markets, or you can use flour tortillas. If you haven’t tried moo shu before, you’re in for a tasty surprise.

Moo shu vegetables.jpg

Water-sauté these vegetables in a Dutch oven or other large open pan. The vegetables should be tender to your liking, and all the liquid should be evaporated.

  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.

  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced

  • 8 mushrooms (any kind), sliced or chopped

  • 1 small head of green cabbage, shredded, or use bagged coleslaw (1 pound)

  • 1 carrot, grated (if your bagged slaw has a lot of carrots, you can omit this)

Stir the following ingredients and briefly heat the entire mixture together. Test for seasoning adjust with salt and pepper if needed.

  • 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce (will need more below)

  • 1.5 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1/2 Tablespoon Chinese rice vinegar (or other kind, but not balsamic)

  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame paste

  • 2 teaspoons water

  • 1 teaspoon sugar or agave syrup (or 2 teaspoons date paste)

Stir in the tofu

  • 6-8 ounces baked tofu, cut into small pieces (use my Baked Tofu recipe, or you can buy already baked tofu in many stores)

Remove mixture from heat. Warm your wrappers of choice. Spread about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of hoisin sauce on each wrapper. Divide filling evenly into wrappers and top with a bit of sesame seeds. 

  • 12 small or 6 large whole wheat flour tortillas or rice flour wrappers

Extra hoisin sauce

Nutrition: Mostly unprocessed (the hoisin has sugar in it)

Time: 25-30 minutes

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Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnut Butter

By the Gracious Vegan

Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnut Butter FB 2.jpg

I adapted this recipe from the cooking magazine Fine Cooking. I decreased the amounts of nuts, oil, and butter by a lot and made the process easier. Otherwise they nailed it, especially with the combination of lemon zest and fresh thyme. This is a special dish. I recommend serving it with Pesto Stuff Pasta Shells for an elegant dinner. 

Serves 4-6 as a side.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Put the hazelnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven until they are just golden—check after 5 minutes and check after 2-minute increments from there.

  • ¼ cup hazelnuts (whole or chopped, about 1 oz.)

Turn the oven to 425°. Let the nuts cool for about 10 minutes. Finely chop the nuts in a small food processor. The nuts should be finely ground, but not so much that they turn into nut butter.

Pulse the finely chopped nuts together with the following ingredients in the food processor and set aside.

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1.5 teaspoon lightly chopped fresh thyme

  • ½ teaspoon agave nectar

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Separately, toss together

  • 1.75 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered or cut into 6 wedges if very large (about 6 cups)

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1.5 Tablespoons olive oil

Roast the sprouts for 15-20 minutes at 425°. If they are not golden, stir and roast longer until done. Remove from oven and stir in the vegan butter and the nut-herb-agave mixture in the roasting pan.

  • 1.5 Tablespoons vegan butter, cubed

Transfer the sprouts to a warm serving dish or arrange sprouts on each plate.

Timing: about 40 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food


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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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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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Mushroom-Ricotta Calzones

By the Gracious Vegan

Mushroom Calzones 2.jpg

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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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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Pesto Stuffed Shells with Pan Sauce

Pesto Stuffed Shells with Pan Sauce.JPG

I wanted to show people that vegan food could go upscale. This elegant presentation is matched by the scrumptious flavors. The pesto-based vegetable mixture inside the pasta shells offers a pleasant surprise if you don't know what's coming (and even if you do). The pan sauce adds a savory goodness with a hint of wine. This recipe can be easily multiplied to serve more people--I set up this recipe for a romantic dinner for two. Note in the picture that I served this with Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnut Butter. A lovely combination.  

2 servings

Preheat oven to 375°F and start the pasta water boiling.

When the oven is hot, toast the pine nuts for about 6 minutes (until just golden) and the breadcrumbs about 8 minutes, until golden. Leave the oven on after you take them out. 

  • 3 Tablespoons pine nuts

  • Half slice of bread processed into crumbs in food processor, then sprayed with spray-oil

Meanwhile, boil the pasta shells for about 10 minutes – until al dente, but not too firm. Drain. 

  • 8 jumbo pasta shells

Separately, cook the following vegetables in the microwave (or water-sauté on the stove) until the vegetables are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Drain off any extra water.

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion

  • 1 cup mixed vegetables, finely chopped (I use chopped raw broccoli slaw and red peppers, but use anything you think tastes good with pesto)

To start the pesto, mince the garlic in a food processor.

  • 2 cloves garlic

Add the following and process into a paste.

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

  • 2 Tablespoons of the toasted pine nuts

  • ½ Tablespoon yellow or white miso

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)

  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Add tofu and process for a few seconds to mix it in.

  • 2 Tablespoons tofu (any kind)

Transfer pesto mixture to a bowl and stir in 

  • The cooked onions and vegetables

Stuff the mixture into the 8 cooked shells. Transfer the shells to a baking dish, pour vegetable stock into the bottom of the dish, cover tightly with foil, and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes. 

  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock (see additional stock needed below)

While the shells are baking, make a pan sauce. 

Sauté shallot in vegan butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the shallot is softened and starting to turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes. 

  • ½ Tablespoon vegan butter

  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 1/8 cup)

Add vermouth or wine and boil rapidly until pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes.

  • ¼ cup dry vermouth or dry white wine (sauvignon blanc recommended)

Add broth and boil rapidly, 4-5 minutes, until there is about ½ cup of liquid left.

  • ¾ cup vegetable broth

Pre-blend the cornstarch and the water, then whisk the following ingredients into the skillet and bring to a boil while whisking. The sauce should come together in about 30 seconds. 

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch whisked together with 1 Tablespoon cold water until no lumps remain

  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened nondairy milk (I like soymilk)

  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/3 teaspoon dried

If the sauce is too thick, add more broth, water, or nondairy milk.  

When you are ready to serve, ladle a bit of sauce onto each plate, place the shells on top, then spoon on more sauce and top with breadcrumbs.

  • Toasted breadcrumbs (you may not need all the breadcrumbs you made)

  • The remaining toasted pine nuts

Timing: Between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on how much you can multitask

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (except for the vegan butter in the gravy, the 2 teaspoons oil in the pesto, and refined-flour pasta shells)

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta shells

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Gracious Vegan Toasted Quinoa Granola

By the Gracious Vegan

GV Roasted Quinoa Granola 2.jpg

This recipe is dedicated to my brother-in-law Kevin, who used this granola as fuel to hike up the Yosemite Falls trail this summer. The toasted quinoa adds a nice crunch and a solid dose of protein.  

Preheat oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place quinoa in a wide skillet and turn the heat to medium or medium/low. Stir or shake and toast the quinoa until it begins to pop and smell like popcorn, 5-7 minutes. As soon as it has been popping for about a minute, pour it into a large bowl and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes.

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa (white or red)

After the quinoa has cooled, add these ingredients to the bowl and stir.

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Pour in the liquid ingredients and stir until well-combined.

  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Spread mixture on baking sheet and bake until golden-brown, about 45 minutes, stirring twice. It tastes best when it is baked until very dark brown (but not burned), so continue to stir and bake for 5-minute intervals until done.

Let cool completely before breaking into chunks. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Timing: About 60 minutes to mix and bake, then you have to let it cool

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed (except for the coconut oil and maple syrup) 

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No Cream Creamed Spinach

By Food Network

Link to No Cream Creamed Spinach recipe.

No-oil version by the Gracious Vegan

No-oil version by the Gracious Vegan

GV comments: This recipe comes from White House Chef Cristeta Comerford who developed this recipe for the Obamas. It's a clever way of creating a creamy texture by pureeing some of the spinach rather than adding butter and cream to chopped or whole spinach. I even make mine without oil, resulting in No-Cream No-Oil Creamed Spinach -- a mouthful. This is a great side dish and can be served alongside many main dishes and other side dishes. It's a wonderful way to help those who don't eat enough greens to get a significant amount in one sitting. 

Timing: About 20 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (or completely whole-food unprocessed if you skip the oil)


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Gracious Vegan Vegetable Pot Pie

By the Gracious Vegan


I recommend using my Gracious Vegan Pie Crust. You’ll only need one half. You can freeze the other half for a later pie.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Vegetable Pot Pie.jpg

Béchamel (White) Sauce

You’ll need only half of this. Freeze the rest and use next time or for something else.

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.)

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews

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

  • 3 cups water

  • ½ cup tofu (any kind)

  • ¼ cup flour

  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pour the mixture into a large 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.

The Vegetables

Don’t use food processor for chopping the ingredients; it makes them too fine.

For the vegetable filling: In a large Dutch oven or sauté pan, water-sauté these for 5 minutes in a few tablespoons of water (alternatively, microwave them with a little water until soft).

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced or diced

  • 2 cups other vegetables (carrots, red pepper, green beans, broccoli, asparagus), diced

Stir in the spices.

  • ½ Tablespoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon paprika (not sweet or smoked)

  • ½ teaspoon dried basil

  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Remove from heat and stir in peas and steamed potatoes. Set aside.

  • 1 cup peas (or half corn, half peas), thawed

  • 2.5 cups potatoes, peeled and ½”- diced, steamed for 15 minutes (3 medium red or Yukon gold potatoes) (1 pound)

Assembly and Baking

Gently stir half of the sauce (2 cups) into the cooked vegetables. Spoon the mixture into an un-greased deep-dish pie pan. Roll out half of the pie crust (freeze the other half for another time). Gently lay the pie crust on top of the vegetables. Crimp the sides of the crust. Cut slash marks into the crust to allow steam to escape. 

  • One 9” or 10” pie crust

Bake at 375° for 40 minutes, until you can hear the filling bubbling and the top is golden brown. Increase the temp to 400 for 10 additional minutes to brown the top, if needed.

Timing: If you don't have a crust and you're starting from scratch, this will take 2-3 hours because of the time to chill the dough. If you have a dough, it will take around 90 minutes.

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food

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Kasha Varnishkes

By Vegan Street 

Link to Kasha Varnishkes recipe.

GV comments: I was a vegetarian for 30 years before I turned vegan. One of the dishes I remember loving so much was a vegetarian version of Kasha Varnishkes, a traditional Eastern European Jewish dish. The trick of the dish was to saute the roasted buckwheat groats (also know as kasha) with a lightly whipped egg--the egg formed a coating around the groats, so that when you then simmered them in broth, they wouldn't dissolve into each other but stay nice and separate. Once I became a vegan, I thought I'd never taste that wonderful flavor again. But I found this recipe from the website Vegan Street. The dish brought back all my good memories of the flavor, and I've heard the same from people I've served this to. 

Timing: A good 45 minutes, and you'll be working constantly (but worth it!)

Nutrition: Almost entirely whole-food unprocessed except for some processed-sounding ingredients in the Vegan Egg


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Chocolate Chip Coconut Pancakes

By Darshana Thacker for Forks Over Knives

Link to Chocolate Chip Coconut Pancakes recipe

GV comments: These are one of the few pancakes I've tasted that doesn't scream out for syrup. The chocolate chips are one reason, no doubt, because they provide just enough sweetness, especially when combined with the bananas on the side. But the combination of buckwheat flour and coconut also contributes to a self-contained goodness.  This is no puffy refined-flour puck begging to be slathered in syrup, but neither is it dense and tasteless. This is a winner!

Timing: Less than 30 minutes, start to finish

Nutrition: Mostly whole food, except for the chocolate chips and maple syrup


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Huevos Soy-Cheros

By Cooking Light

Link to Huevos Soy-Cheros recipe.

GV comments: My friend Mitzi found this recipe in Cooking Light magazine. Incredibly good! I particularly like how the tofu and pepper mixture is scooped onto the plates separately from the bean and soy-chorizo mixture, much better than mixing everything together. Layering those two mixtures, the tortillas, and then the avocado creates a feast for the eyes before it becomes a feast for the stomach. The blurb on the Cooking Light website says that this version saves 20 grams of saturated fat over a typical Huevos Rancheros serving. Wow! Hard to believe given how delicious and satisfying this is. 

Timing: around 45 minutes, including prep

Nutrition: Lots of whole foods here; a couple teaspoons oil, and some oil and possibly other processed food in the soy chorizo

Gluten-free (but check the soy chorizo label)

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Peanut Dressing

By Bon Appetit

Link to Peanut Dressing recipe.

GV comments: I found this when preparing to lead a demonstration on oil-free vegan dressings. Peanut butter is a natural for oil-free dressings, because peanuts are naturally rich in "good fats," and, when blended with water and other ingredients, peanut butter creates a dressing with a superb texture. This recipe is a bit on the bland side, so I recommend adding cilantro, sriracha sauce, and/or chili paste. It tastes great with a cabbage-heavy salad, because the sweetness of the dressing complements the slight sourness of the cabbage. And it's very fast to make.

Timing:  5-10 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed except for the tablespoon of sugar



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Sanctuary Dip

By Isa Chandra [Moskowitz]

Link to Sanctuary Dip recipe

GV comments: In quest of good vegan dips, I found this one, and because it was from Isa Moskowitz, I tried it. Little did I know that this recipe would fulfill my quest for the holy grail -- an oil-free vegan ranch dressing that sacrifices none of the flavor or texture of mayonnaise-based dressing. Wouldn't you know it that she combined tofu and raw cashews? The first time I made this, it came out runny, and my guests and I had to put a hand under our carrot and celery sticks to keep the drips from hitting the carpet. It took that first evening to realize that I didn't have an annoyingly drippy dip on my hands: I had a perfect ranch salad dressing! Woo hoo! It's very important to blend this for at least a minute and a half (that's what it takes with my Kitchen Aid blender). It may take less with a Vitamix or more with other blenders. The cashews really need to get the dissolved state so that the dressing is perfectly smooth (except for the dried dill, which is added at the end). 

Timing: once the cashews have soaked for 2 hours, it only takes 10-15 minutes.

Nutrition: only a teaspoon of agave nectar keeps this from being 100% whole-food unprocessed; so much better than oil-based dressings


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Gracious Vegan Sopa de Fideo

By the Gracious Vegan

Photo by Dale Cruse on flickr

Photo by Dale Cruse on flickr

This soup is based on a non-vegan recipe found by my friend Teresa, found on Hispanic Kitchen's site. The soup is basically a comforting noodle soup, but the chile, cumin, and smoked paprika make this stand out against blander versions of noodle soup. I haven't had a cold since I went vegan, but if I ever do again, I'm going to make this soup. My hard-to-please husband also liked this soup a lot. 

Makes about 6 cups (4 servings)

Take your peas and carrots out of the freezer and let them defrost slightly while you prep your ingredients.

  • 3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots

In a Dutch oven or other large soup pan, heat olive oil to medium hot. Add the fideo and cook until the pasta starts to toast in some spots. Turn as needed.

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces fideo pasta

After a few minutes, add the onions, garlic and serrano, stir well and cook for 2 minutes.

  • 1/2 cup onion white or red, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno chile

Add the remaining ingredients. Only add 2½ cups of broth to start, and reserve the other ½ cup.

  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons vegan bouillon powder (or two cubes)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 3 cups water 

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook until most of the broth is reduced.

If you need to, you can add the remaining ½ cup of broth at this time. Add the peas and carrots, cover, and continue cooking for another 3 to 5 minutes. Serve. If you want this more like a risotto, remove from heat and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes; the broth will be absorbed as the pasta sits. 

Timing: About 30 minutes

Nutrition: The two processed ingredients are the 2 teaspoons oil and the fideo. 

Per serving : 150 calories; 3g fat; 0g sat. fat; 25g carbs; 757mg sodium; 5g fiber; 7g protein

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Basic Green Soup

By Anna Thomas on The Splendid Table

Link to Basic Green Soup recipe

GV comments: This is a fabulous soup. It's flavorings are subtle and intriguing. The bright green color makes you want to try it -- it has to be healthy (and it is) -- and the tastes delivers on that promise. One source of the deep flavor is caramelized onions. After making it several times with the called-for amount of oil, I decreased to only one tablespoon and it worked perfectly. Low calories, evocative flavor? I'm in. 

Timing: almost an hour

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food



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Pasta with Kale Pesto and Zucchini (or Potatoes)

By the Gracious Vegan

This is an easy dish that will get more rave reviews than the level of effort suggests it should. The secret is the lemony-briny flavors in the kale pesto. The pasta and zucchini serve as an excellent base, although you could go all-pasta, all-zucchini, pasta-and-potatoes, or other bases that I haven't thought of. Serves 4.

Photo by  Jules on flickr

If using potatoes instead of zucchini, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring them to a boil. Simmer about 25 minutes or until just tender.

  • 4 Yukon Gold or other boiling potatoes (not russet) (about 1 pound)

Then drain, peel, and coarsely chop the potatoes and set aside.

Start the pasta water boiling.

Make kale pesto by placing garlic in a food processor and mincing it.

  • 3 large or 4 small cloves of garlic, peeled

Add these and pulse until all the ingredients are ground up into each other.

  • 4 cups chopped kale, stems removed
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons salt-brined capers, rinsed
  • 3/8 cup tablespoons blanched almonds (whole or slivered)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Then add the olive oil and pulse until you reach a good pesto consistency. Set aside.

  • 3/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cook and drain the pasta as directed on package. Add zucchini to the pasta pot during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

  • 8 ounces dry pasta of your choice (chunky or long)
  • 3 small or 2 medium zucchini, diced

Toss pasta and zucchini (or the roughly chopped potatoes) with about half of the pesto at first; see if you need more. 

Timing: 25-45 minutes, depending if you use potatoes (longer) or zucchini (shorter)

Nutrition: Mostly unprocessed ingredients (the oil is the main culprit)

Gluten-free if gluten-free pasta used

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