Mexican Wheat Berry Salad
Sometimes you want something a little spicy, sometimes you don't. If you don't, thats okay. If you do, this dish is for you! We used our flavor-packed, low-fat Cauliflower Queso Cheeze recipe to coat one of our favorite and underused pantry staples, wheat berries, and added plenty of fresh veggies and cilantro to kick it up to party-worthy appetizer level! We fell in love with wheat berries a few years ago at a friends wedding where they served a lovely vegetarian salad (that I literally picked the cheese out of) and have been incorporating them into our diets more and more ever since. Wheat berries are the entire kernel of wheat, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. This means that they are the purest, whole, unprocessed form of wheat. When ground, they make whole wheat flour! Wheat berries are high in fiber and rich in vitamins B1 and B3, plus magnesium, phosphorous, copper, manganese and selenium. And since they're so hearty and full of fiber, a 1/2 cup serving of cooked wheat berries does a great job of filling you up and keeping you fuller, longer. We love this salad as an appetizer or side dish alongside our Jackfruit Asada Street Tacos. Its a crowd pleaser and requires very minimal work on your part, plus is easily made ahead for parties. Let's eat!
3/4 cup hard wheat berries
3 cups water
1/2 cup Queso Cheeze
1-2 tablespoons jalapéno, chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced (we used yellow tomatoes from the garden!)
1/2 cup green onion, sliced
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime
chips for scooping (optional)
In a medium sized pot, boil wheat berries in water for about an hour, until the berries become soft enough to eat. Drain the water, and set the wheat berries aside to cool.
If you haven't prepped the queso cheese, go ahead and do that. If you have, move on to the next step.
Prep jalapeños, tomatoes, green onion, and cilantro.
When wheat berries have cooled, mix in queso cheeze, jalapeños, tomatoes, green onion (save a little for garnish, if you like), chopped cilantro, and the juice squeezed from 1 lime. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine, garnish with remaining green onion, and serve with chips! Makes about 2 cups, serves 4. This dish will save well in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!
Chick'n Tortilla Soup
One of the first recipes I ever made when I decided to try being a vegan was a tortilla soup from 'How It All Vegan'. Its a super simple combo of canned tomatoes, veggie broth, onions, spices and a hearty sprinkle of tortilla chips- very user friendly for a new vegan. Alex loved it. It may just have been the thing that convinced him that this whole 'no meat' thing wasn't so bad after all- he jumped on the vegan train just a few months after I did. And having a vegan partner makes life in our house very harmonious and very delicious. Especially when you get to sit down and enjoy a meal like this with your ridiculously good looking boyfriend after!
This soup is a step-up from the stuff I was making way back then for sure, and takes less than an hour from start to finish. I added lots of onions, bell peppers, and fresh lime juice, plus the new Chick Seitan from Upton's Naturals. This stuff is amazing! It looks like chicken, it tastes like chicken (I mean I think- I haven't eaten chicken in years), and the texture would be great fried up and served with mashed potatoes or baked into pot pies- but also in this tortilla soup! It adds a great meaty texture and flavor to the soup and really makes it a meal. It's delicious! You can find the Upton's Chick Seitan anywhere their products are sold or you can order it online. But if you're avoiding gluten, ditch the faux meat and just enjoy a delicious, veggie-loaded tortilla soup. Let's do this!
1 tablespoon oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 limes, freshly juiced (about 1/3 cup juice)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 package (4 ounces) of Upton's Chick Seitan
tortilla chips + cilantro, for garnish
In a large pot heat oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onion, and peppers until softened. Add in tomatoes, veggie broth, lime juice, bay leaf, spices, and Chick Seitan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes. When ready, serve with tortilla chips and freshly chopped cilantro. Makes 4-6 servings, and keeps about a week in the fridge. Enjoy!
Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash Bake
When I started brainstorming this recipe, it came from a combination of laziness (I'm not ashamed) and a desire to cut my own work load. Cooking a spaghetti squash, shredding it, and then warming up spaghetti sauce, chopping up tomatoes and basil from our garden, stirring, and serving....well, it just seems like a lot! And the dishes it produces- far too many, if you ask me. I knew I could make it easier on myself. How exactly? Well, think of this as a 'one pot' meal, where all you really need is a squash. And maybe a baking sheet.
The beauty of this is that you really do just throw all the ingredients into your hollowed squash halves and bake for about an hour- easy peasy! Once its ready just remove it from the oven, shred the squash with a fork, and serve. Your guests will love the taste, and you'll love the easy clean-up. Its healthy, light. and full of fresh (from our garden, in this case) veggies. So lets give three cheers for a lack of dishes and more time to eat, 'cause thats the ultimate goal. Lets do it!
1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup basil, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the stem off the top of your squash, then turn on it side and slice it in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and innards, and toss in the compost. Drizzle each half with olive oil, a little over a tablespoon each, and sprinkle each side evenly with minced garlic. Pour about 1/4 cup of sauce into each half, then top each side evenly with sliced cherry tomatoes, basil, salt & pepper. Cover in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet to catch any drippings. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until mixture is bubbling and squash is fork tender.
Once ready, remove from oven and use a fork to separate squash strands. If you want, you can scoop mixture into a bowl and stir, if you like more room to work. Otherwise, use a fork to toss the squash pasta and tomato basil mixture together right in the squash halves, and serve immediately. Sprinkle with fresh basil and nutritional yeast to garnish. Makes 6-8 servings. Saves well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!
The Best Spicy Vegan Chili
I make the BEST chili. Alex and I voted, and thats what we decided. I mean it! There were a few years when we started dating that we were pretty poor and could really only afford to buy bulk rice and beans and occasionally some veggies. Spices are cheap enough, so chili became our meal of choice. Sometimes it seemed like there were weeks when all we ate was chili scooped form a huge dutch oven for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But that was okay! We bonded, we lost some weight, and we learned to really appreciate good food. There have lots of variations of this recipe depending on what we have in the fridge and in our wallets, but this is my favorite, most adaptable version.
It's full of veggies and three different kinds of beans, kicked up with cumin, chili powder, and spicy serrano peppers. It's yummiest with a squeeze of lime and some cilantro, and tastes great scooped up with salty tortilla chips. Let's eat!
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
3 bell peppers, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 serrano peppers, diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
2-15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1-6 ounce can tomato paste
1-15 ounce can kidney beans (about 2 cups)
1-15 ounce can pinto beans (about 2 cups)
1-15 ounce can black beans (about 2 cups)
1 can vegan refried beans (optional-for a thicker chili)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon himalayan pink salt
In a large pot or dutch oven melt oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onion, and peppers (bell & serrano) until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the sweet potatoes and cook about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the diced tomatoes and paste, plus all the beans- including refried if you're using them. Stir to combine. Add spices and simmer over medium heat 20-30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork-tender and chili has thickened. (If you want to add water or vegetable broth to make the soup less thick, feel free to add up to 1 cup at this point.) Remove from heat and serve with a squeeze of lime and cilantro or fresh avocado slices. Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated as needed for up to a week. Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!
Mexican Chickpea Scramble
Good morning! I can't believe this is the first time I'm posting this recipe. Alex and I eat this for breakfast at least twice a week, sometimes more. We add in different veggies and toppings depending on what we've got, but these specific ingredients are our favorites. With fresh garden tomatoes and a side of buttery avocados, it really hits the spot. We like pairing ours with a side of toast or corn tortillas and wrapping it up like a taco. Yum!
If you're new to the vegan lifestyle, the is breakfast makes a great substitute for scrambled eggs, and has nearly 20 grams of protein per serving! (A great answer when you get that snarky question "But where do you get your protein?") It'll fill you up and keep you full, and unlike cooked eggs, makes GREAT leftovers. Now, let's eat!
1- 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), half mashed
1/2 medium onion (about 1/4 cup), chopped
1 small bell pepper (about 1/4 cup), diced
1 medium tomato (about 1/4 cup), diced
1/4 cup shredded cabbage
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons coconut oil, separated
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
salt & pepper to taste
In a medium-sized frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with chopped onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook on medium heat, stirring regularly, until onions begin to soften and start to become glassy, about 5 minutes. While veggies cook, use a fork to mash about half of the chickpeas. (More or less, depending on the texture you prefer- more mashed is closer to a scrambled egg texture.) Add chickpeas & the last tablespoon of coconut oil to the frying pan, and stir to combine. Sprinkle in cumin, cayenne, smoked paprika, turmeric, salt & pepper. Stir to evenly distribute, and continue cooking several minutes, until mixture is heated through. Toss in chopped tomatoes & shredded cabbage, and cook 1-2 more minutes, so they slightly soften. Turn off the heat and serve your scramble with a side of avocado and salsa, plus a sprinkle of chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Serves 2. Leftovers save well in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy!
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Sometimes, I wake up craving salad. I have a hard time eating too many 'lunch' foods before 9 am, but when you want cucumbers, you want cucumbers. The last time this happened (2 days ago), I decided a green smoothie would be the way to go. I made the smoothie and started drinking it...but it was just too sweet. I wanted ONIONS. I wanted CHEEZE. I wanted a salad. To add a bit of protein and circumvent the fact that I didn't actually have any greens, I subbed in a healthy serving of quinoa and mixed in some of my favorite super fresh, summer flavors like radish, lemon, and fresh pear tomatoes straight from the garden. With all those tasty summer flavors you only need a light EEVO + lemon juice dressing and a bit of salt and pepper to round it out! This recipe is ready, start to finish, in about 30 minutes, and is ready for eating IMMEDIATELY! So snack on salad for breakfast- this salad isn't the whimpy green salad your taste buds are expecting. And I promise, it'll hold you over 'till lunch.
3 cups cooked quinoa (we used red quinoa, use what you prefer)
1 heaping cup of cherry or pear tomatoes, halved
1 cup cucumber, sliced & chopped
1/2 cup radishes, diced
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 lemons, freshly squeezed (about 1/3 -1/2 cup juice)
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup vegan cheeze crumbles (we used Teese Mozzarella!)
Cook quinoa according to package instructions. (Normally 1 cup quinoa + 1 1/2 cups water, bring to boil, simmer till water is absorbed.) Set aside to let cool completely before mixing in veggies.
Once cooled, toss in tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, green onions, parsley, basil, lemon juice, & olive oil. Toss to combine. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add in cheeze crumbles and toss gently to incorporate. Refrigerate until serving, makes 8 servings. Leftovers save well in a sealed container for 3-4 days. Enjoy!
Triple-Decker Caprese Grilled Cheeze Panini
It's been warm and sunny here in Southern California (surprise, surprise), and our tomato plants are EXPLODING! We're growing 4 different varieties and picking anywhere from 4 to 20 tomatoes a day. It's a good thing we like 'em! We've been making bruschetta, soup, and eating 'em raw with a little olive oil and salt, but this sandwich may be my new favorite way. The best part? You can spread it with your very own, super simple, homemade vegan cheeze! And now you'll have a quick recipe anytime you want spreadable vegan cheese. Don't have cashews? Use any nut you have on hand; fun flavors abound from brazil nuts, macadamias, and pine nuts as well! Keep it gluten-free with gluten-free bread or sub in hearty portobellos for a bread-less alternative. But use three slices anyway- the triple-decker-ness is the best part!
1 cup cashews, soaked
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2-4 tablespoons water
1 medium sized tomato, sliced OR 12ish cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
3 slices of bread (GF is that's your jam)
To make the cheeze, combine cashews, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and water in a food processor and mix until smooth. Scoop out, set aside.
Cut your tomatoes and basil, and set aside. Warm up your panini press (or just a greased pan on the stove). Assemble sandwich beginning with a slice of bread, a generous layer of your homemade cheeze, tomato slices, basil, and a sprinkle of pepper. Top with the next slice of bread, and repeat. Spread the final slice of bread with another thin layer of cheeze before topping the sandwich. Place in panini press until golden lines form and cheeze is melty, or grill until golden and crispy on both sides. If you prefer a crunchier sandwich (Alex does), consider toasting your middle slice before adding it to the sandwich. Enjoy immediately with a frosty bev. (Leftover cheezy spread can be stored in the fridge up to a week.)
Moroccan Chickpea Soup
We've gotten a lot of snow here, lately. Last week left us with just under a foot, and last nights storm added a cool 6-8 inches more. I don't mind cleaning off the car, shoveling the walk, or even driving in it...but I hate being cold. I mean really, really cold. For instance, lately I can feel my nose hairs freeze every time I breathe in through my runny nose. And the other morning, on our trip to get a Christmas tree, Alex's beard froze. Yep, froze. Did I mention that the first day of "winter" is December 21st? I think Maine got a jump start this year. And while I do love all the cute winter accessories (hats, gloves, scarves, funky boots), I don't love that they're mandatory. The only good thing about below freezing temperatures is all the warm comfort food. And my favorite comfort food is soup.
I have my beautiful friend Maggie to thank for the recipe inspiration. She made me a similar dish on our last girls date (where we made these adorable 2 Ingredient Christmas Ornaments), and I immediately loved it. For such a simple broth it is incredibly rich in flavor, blending sweet cinnamon with spicy cumin. Packed with protein from the chickpeas and vitamins A & K from the freshly spinach, this soup is a powerhouse of nutrients and good for you ingredients. But the best part? It'll warm you up from the inside out and keep you content all day.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 -15 ounce cans of chickpeas, or about 6 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1-15 ounce can (about 2 cups) of diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 packed cups fresh, roughly chopped spinach
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, optional
In a soup pot, melt the coconut oil on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute about 5-7 minutes, until onions are softened and slightly translucent. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, vegetable broth and spices. Stir to combine, and simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes. While simmering, wash your fresh spinach and roughly chop it into bite-sized pieces with a knife. When 40 minutes is up, taste a test bite and check the tenderness of the chickpeas. They should be soft, with a slight toothiness when bitten. If they're still a little firm, throw the soup on for another 10 minutes to soften them up. Once the soup is ready to be served, add spinach and stir, letting the heat wilt the spinach. Serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serves 6-8.
*Tip: If you throw all the spinach in and don't eat it all, don't fret. The soup can be refrigerated and the spinach will still taste great, it just will have lost its bright green color and be considerably softer. Whenever I re-heat this soup, I throw in another handful of fresh spinach to give it a little more body. Enjoy!
Creamy Tomato Soup