Simple, Fast and Vegan…


I love all vegetables but my favorite by far are members of the cabbage family. Green cabbage, always a reliable standby along with its cousins, purple, napa, bock choi and the popular cauliflower, broccoli and rapine. Lately kale has enjoyed a surge touted as a miracle green. All cruciferous vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber and rich in flavor. They are edible raw so cooking is fast and easy.

Green Cabbage and Kale Medley

Sauté a chopped onion in 1 tbsp. of oil till lightly golden. Add a chopped head of cabbage along with 4 cups of chopped kale. Stir and season with salt, pepper, tbsp cinnamon, tsp cumin and tsp coriander. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes stirring often. Add 1 cup of golden raisins, 1/2 cup of slivered almonds and stir. Taste for seasoning. Serve over cooked rice or noodles.

Mashed Cauliflower

Fry cauliflower in oil with a couple of carrots till golden. Season with salt and pepper and a smashed garlic clove. Add 2 tbsp water, cover and cook on medium/low for 10 minutes. Check for tenderness and mash with fork.
(Try the new green, purple and orange cauliflower).

New Potatoes with Sugar Peas and Mushrooms

Fry a chopped onion in oil till golden. Add 8-10 small new potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, sweet paprika and fry for 5-6 minutes. Add a pound of sugar peas and a smashed garlic clove. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of chopped mushrooms, 2-3 tbsp chopped parsley, stir and cook 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Stone Fruit and Berry Medley

In a large bowl assemble peak of ripeness sliced peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums or any stone fruit and add 2 cups of berries. Drizzle with Agave Nectar and toss gently. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and chopped mint. Serve over oatmeal or amaranth for breakfast or just as a light dessert.


More Vegan selections…

My favorite cooking pastime is to take old family recipes, both mine and TJ’s and transform them into Vegan ones. As I’ve shared before, I don’t like ‘fake’ meats or seafood which are nothing but highly processed plant proteins made to look like the original.
In many recipes, simply leaving out the animal proteins or substituting ingredients such as mushrooms, beans and legumes is sufficient. Stuffed vegetables are common all throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East. This recipe is a little labor intensive but worth the effort.

Stuffed Summer Bounty

Line a large pot with grape or lettuce leaves and set aside. Prepare peppers, squashes, onions, tomatoes, kohlrabi, potatoes or any combination of veggies for stuffing by carving into vessels. Sauté a chopped onion in a tbsp of oil. Cut up the removed veggie pieces and add to the onions. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add 2 cups cooked rice or cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup of cooked lentils and 1/4 cup of golden raisins. Add 2 tbsp of chopped dill and the zest of a lemon. Mix well. Stuff each vegetable with the rice mixture and arrange them in prepared pot. Mix 1 cup of water with 1 cup of tomato sauce and the juice if a lemon and pour over stuffed veggies. Cover and steam on low for 30-45 min. With the tip of a long knife, check if veggies are cooked but firm. Do not disturb arrangement till ready to serve then gently lift each vessel onto a platter and drizzle with sauce. Add more dill if desired.

Versatile Quinoa

Cooked quinoa is a great protein addition to any veggie dish. It has a nutty yet neutral flavor and it is lighter than rice. It comes in many varieties with little difference in taste.

Tabuli with Quinoa

Finely chop a red onion, 2-3 ripe tomatoes and a small cucumber, a cup of parsley and a 1/2 cup of mint and place in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, the juice of one lemon and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa and stir well. Taste and re-season. Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce or stuffed inside tomatoes for a nicer presentation.

Asian Style Zucchini with Pasta

Cook one pound of asian glass noodles, drain and set aside. Using a veggie peeler, cut 3-4 zucchinis into ribbons resembling the pasta. In a large pot, sauté one chopped onion till golden, add 2 crushed garlic cloves, one tsp of grated ginger and the zucchini ribbons. Cook for 5 minutes and season with salt, pepper and chopped cilantro. Toss with pasta and drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Mushroom Medley

Saute one chopped onion, one chopped green pepper and one chopped red pepper till golden. Clean and chop 2-3 pounds of mushrooms, such as Cremini, Oyster or White button and add to pot. Stir in 2-3 chopped tomatoes and cook for 5-6 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and sweet paprika. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and serve over brown rice, pasta, quinoa or potatoes.



Quick Summer Veggies


So many veggies, so little time!

Summer Zucchini Complete

Sauté an onion in a tbsp of oil till lightly golden. Add 5-6 sliced zucchini and a crushed garlic clove and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in a can of diced tomatoes and a can of drained chickpeas, season with salt and pepper and a tsp of cumin. Lower hear and simmer for 10 minutes. Add a cup of sliced mushrooms and a half cup of chopped cilantro and cook five more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with rice or noodles.

New Potato Salad

Boil 8-10 small red potatoes I their skins till done, drain, cool and slice. Dressing: 1 cup vinegar, 1 Tbsp agave nectar, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 3 Tbsp chopped dill, salt and pepper to taste. Pour over potatoes and toss gently. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Toast 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds and sprinkle on potatoes before serving.

Fast Layered Dip

Open a can of vegan refried beans and press them on the bottom of a small dish. Add a layer of smashed avocados, then a layer of your favorite salsa. Repeat and top with chopped onions, toasted sunflower seeds and cilantro. Spread on soft tortillas or eat with chips.

Pasta Salad In a Hurry

Pour boiling water over asian rice noodles, let stand for 5 minutes, drain and place in a large bowl. Add chopped lettuce, chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup sesame oil,  1 tsp grated ginger, 1 clove crushed garlic, 1 tsp agave nectar, salt and pepper to taste. Toss well and top with 3-4 spoons of sesame seeds.  


In search of vegan offerings…

The best place for vegan fare is my own kitchen where I can control the ingredients. However, a girl’s got to go out with friends and Hubby on occasion and that’s where things get a little tricky in the Dallas area. Of course I can always eat a salad or have a veggie or pasta dish but it’s not the same as when vegan fare is at the heart of the menu. The fact that I don’t like imitations also limits my choices since many restaurants pride themselves in offering fake seafood, fake meats and other look-alikes. Overall I’ve had the best luck dining at Asian, Indian or Middle-Eastern places. You do have to be careful though and remember that the wait-staff is not very knowledgeable even when they try to be. I had a waiter tell me once that I can have tofu in my soup but not realize that the broth was made with chicken stock or not know that rice and noodles were being cooked with chicken or beef base. Gelatin is also a widely used thickening agent as are yogurt and cheese.

At most Asian restaurants a nice selection of stir fried veggies with steamed brown rice is a safe bet. I also like to substitute rice noodles or add tofu. Thai recipes use eggs extensively so if you like Pad-Thai make sure they’re omitted, also Coconut Lemongrass Soup (Tom Kha Gai) is made with chicken stock.

A couple of Sundays ago, TJ and I had the best Veggie Burgers and fries at a new place that opened in our neighborhood. I realized later that the nice mesquite flavor was probably due to the use of the same grill on which meats were prepared.

The worst places for finding something vegan are Dallas’ Mexican restaurants. Even if you opt for beans and rice, you cannot be sure that lard was not used in their preparation. Also, chips may seem vegan but again, it depends on what they were fried in. Then there’s the cheese: it’s added to everything even when not visible.

Vegan Caesar Salad with Garlic Toast

Place washed and drained romaine in a large bowl. Chop 2-3 garlic cloves and whisk with 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, the juice of one lemon, an 1/2 cup of olive oil. Place 4 slices of good Italian bread on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil, smashed garlic and chopped parsley. Sprinkle toasts with Hemp Hearts, shelled hemp seed (my Parmesan Substitute) and bake at 400 till golden. Toss salad with dressing and use Hemp Hearts again liberally. This is a great way to add texture and protein. *If you miss the taste of anchovies, you may add a tsp of dried sea weed flakes to the dressing. Enjoy!


Summer is for Vegans…


More easy and fast recipes, since you asked…

Chopped Veggie Salad with Asian Flair

Chop the following into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl:

4 carrots, 1 daikon radish, 1 cup broccoli, 1 cup cauliflower, 2 cups kale, 1red pepper, 1 jalapeño pepper (veins and seeds removed if you don’t want heat), 1 cup of cilantro or basil.

Cook 1 lb. of rice noodles and set aside to cool. (Substitute cooked brown rice or quinoa.)

Prepare dressing: 1 cup rice vinegar, 1/2 cup toasted sesame oil, juice of one lime, 1 smashed garlic clove, 1 tsp. grated ginger, 1 tsp. honey, salt and pepper

Gently toss veggies with noodles and dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or any seeds or nuts you prefer, about 1/2 cup. *Top with Dulse flakes( dried seaweed), optional. *Seaweed is a great vegan substitute in all recipes that call for fish sauce.

Salad is best if it marinates for about 15 minutes.

Fast and Easy Hummus

Drain liquid from 1 can of chickpeas (garbanzos) and reserve. Pour peas into a bowl. Add 2-3 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup sesame tahini, 12/2 cup olive oil, juice of one lemon, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Puree ingredients using an imersion blender and slowly adding back some of the reserved liquid to desired consistency. Taste and re-season. Variations: add a roasted red pepper or 3-4 sun dried tomatoes. Use as a dip, dressing, or spread for veggie burgers, and of course with falafel.

Ratatouille (Mom’s Recipe)

Pour 2 tbsp. of sunflower oil to a large pot and place on medium high heat. Thinly slice an onion, a red pepper, a green pepper, a yellow pepper and fry in oil till limp. Add 1 cup of finely chopped tomatoes and 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Roast and peel a large eggplant, remove pulp and add to veggies. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cooked rice or quinoa.

*Variations: Add a can of drained chickpeas for a protein boost.

Sweet and Sour Green Beans 

Steam about two pounds of fresh green beans for 5 minutes. Toss with 1 small chopped onion, 1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms, 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh chopped mint. Great for a light lunch.

Hashu (TJ’S favorite), my version.

In 4-5 cups of salted water, cook 1 cup of yellow split peas mixed with 1/2 cup green split peas till almost tender, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup of golden raisins in water to soak. Chop 1/2 cup of almonds or use slivered ones. Fry 1 onion in 1 tbsp. of oil till golden. Add almonds and stir for 1 minute. Add 1 tsp. turmeric, cooked peas, salt and pepper and mix well. Drain raisins and add to mixture. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. of ground cinnamon, stir again, taste and re-season. Serve with rice and a finely chopped cucumber, tomato and onion salad.

More Confessions…


Yesterday’s post prompted a lively discussion and some questions. I would like to thank those who pointed out that I’m far from being a Vegan. Yes I know, we need a new name for the kind of practice I describe. No, not a wannabe, but something more positive. I propose mindful or selective, or just plain caring. I’m not pretending to be a purist. I still wear leather shoes and carry a leather purse on occasion. My den is filled with leather furniture and I sleep with down pillows. Although I love animals, I’m not doing this in support of PETA or any other organization which has their agenda, and I don’t know enough about them to comment on their mission.  I also don’t get freaked out by the fact that certain products I use daily such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste may also contain ingredients from animals. My only goal is to get healthy and as close as I can to consuming the least amount of animal sourced products. Maybe as I experience more of this lifestyle, I will feel differently.

Before the onset of industrial size feedlots and processing plants which reduced the price of meat, most of us consumed it only occasionally. Wealth has always equated meat consumption. We are witnessing this phenomenon in the developing countries such as China where it is rising along with per capita income. They are at the onset of what we already experiences here a generation ago. Given the readily available health data, one wonders why they are choosing this harmful path, but marketing is a powerful weapon.

Most of my Vegan recipes I developed by eliminating or substituting meat from favorites.

Persian Style Eggplant and Split-Pea Stew

Sautee a medium onion in about 2 tbsp. of sunflower oil till golden. Add a tsp. of turmeric and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Add two cups of roughly chopped mushrooms (vegan meat), 2 cups of diced tomatoes, and  3-4 tbsp. of tomato paste. Stir well and add enough water to cover. Add two dried lemons. Simmer for 5-6 minutes on medium. Peel and thinly slice an eggplant lengthwise and layer on top of the mixture. Cover and cook for another 7-8 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 1 cup of split peas till semi soft and drain. Check the eggplant for tenderness and gently stir. Add split peas and simmer another 5 minutes. Taste and re-adjust seasonings. Serve with brown rice and a chopped cucumber salad.