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Greek Falafel and Vegan Tzaziki

8 Sep

I love falafel.  Didn’t even know it existed before going plant based.  Don’t know where I had been hiding.  But once I discovered it, I fell in love.  I made many, many recipes at home to a resounding thumbs down by the kids.  Every single time.

It had a knickname….falawful.

A few months ago, I decided to roast the garlic before adding it in and tweaking a few other things.  It worked!

And now it has a new knickname….falawesome!

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Here is the recipe!  If you soak the cashews in advance, then you can make the sauce a little ahead of time and it can be chilling.  I also roast the garlic ahead of time for the falafel.

Greek Falafel and Vegan Tzaziki

First, make the tzaziki!

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for an hour in water.
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into large chunks.
  • The juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 tsp dill
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 clove of garlic (I prefer it roasted)

Place all ingredients in a Vitamix or food processor.  Blend until it is smooth. Chill before serving.

Fal-awesome Falafel (this batch makes enough for 2 dinners for us.  Feel free to only make a 1/2 recipe)

  • 3 cloves of garlic, roasted (stick them in 400 degree oven til they brown, 10-20 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup gf oat flour (I used the vitamix to grind gf oats)
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained.
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 T cumin
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 T milled flax seeds, combines with 8 T water.  Stir and let sit until thick.
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • To serve: brown rice tortilla, if gf, (pita, if not), tomatoes, lettuce, and kalamata olives, diced.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor (I use my Cuisinart).  Mix until it is all ground and looks fairly homogenous.  Taste it for seasoning.  Add more spices if you think it needs it!

Scoop into little balls and flatten the balls.  I use my electric skillet and cook them on med-high heat until each side is looking toasty and cooked.  They are tastier if you cook them in a pan with a small amount of olive oil.  Med-high, again, and for about 5 mins each side.  But I make them without the oil to cut back on unnecessary calories.

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Enjoy!

Mock Chicken Salad (chickpeas and avocados!)

28 May

On a recent trip to Austin, my mom and I ate at Boldin Creek Cafe for a late breakfast.  Because I don’t often have the chance to eat gluten free, vegan sandwiches, I jumped (even at breakfast time!) at their “Chick Pea Chik’n Salad Sammich.”  I’ve been dreaming of it ever since!

Jennifer and I decided to tackle it today and came up with our own that does not have soy.

And boy did we!

The avocado made it creamy, the chickpeas gave it texture and substance, and the tiny pieces of celery gave it just the right amount of crunch.  But we think that the little gherkins and the blend of mustards took it over the top.  YUM!  Total success!

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Mock Chicken Salad (with chickpeas and avocado)

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 of a large avocado or 1/2 of a small avocado
  • 8 baby gherkins (sweet pickles), chopped
  • 1 rib of celery, chopped finely
  • 1/2 T tahini
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T yellow mustard
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  1. Place the drained chickpeas in a bowl and mash them a bit.  Add your avocado and mash some more.
  2. Add your chopped pickles and celery, as well as the tahini and mustards.
  3. Add a few pinches of salt and some fresh cracked pepper.
  4. Still all together.  Taste for seasonings and adjust until you think it is perfect!

Enjoy!

We served it on crackers that we whipped up right before making the chickpea salad. Here is the cracker recipe, only I made a flax egg in place of egg whites, added 1 T of water, and added extra nutritional yeast in place of the Parmesan.

Healthy, hearty, peanut butter flax oatcakes!

24 May

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We have come to LOVE these pancakes and I make them on a regular basis.  They are one of the very few recipes I will skip my morning shake for.  They are hearty, healthy, peanutbuttery goodness that are not only gluten free, but vegan!

Peanutbuttery Flax OatCakes

  • 3 T milled flax seeds
  • 6 T water
  • 2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 3 T agave
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 T peanut butter (we refer crunchy, but use either)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten free oat flour (make it yourself or use the stuff in a pkg)

1) Preheat your skillet to medium/medium high.

2) In a large bowl, combine your flax seeds and water.  Let it sit and congeal for a minute while you pull the rest of your ingredients out.

3) Add melted coconut oil, agave, baking powder, baking soda, peanut butter and vanilla.  Whisk together.  Add almond milk and whisk again.  Add oat flour.  Whisk until well blended.

4) Add a little bit of Earth balance (or butter or coconut oil) to your skillet and cook pancakes until brown on each side and cooked through.

Enjoy!

Chocolate chip scones with almond flour.

2 May

I love almond flour.  And I love chocolate.  And I love scones.

Do you?  Here is a recipe full of nutritious ingredients.  And chocolate.

This is one of the recipes I serve to people who don’t eat weird like us and always get compliments!
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Chocolate Chip Scones:

  • 2 T milled flax seeds
  • 4 T water
  • 2 1/2 cups almond meal or almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • 1/2 – 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
  2. Make a “flax egg” by mixing flax seeds with water.  Set aside.  
  3. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda.  
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk coconut oil, agave, and “flax eggs” together.
  5. Stir wet ingredients into almond flour mixture and combine thoroughly.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips.
  7. Use a 1/4 cup and drop batter on baking sheet.
  8. Bake 12-17 minutes, until golden brown.

Argentina and a health update.

20 Apr

Recently, when people have asked me how I am feeling, I can honestly say that I am feeling better!  I am certainly not 100%.  I still have to sleep a lot and have at least one or two days every week where I feel crappy.  But seriously, who knew knew I would come this far?!  It is incredible.

As far as my diet goes, I am keeping vegan at home.  And once a week or so I will eat some wild fish or some dairy.  Still no interest in chicken or meat.  Of course I am still gluten free, corn free, and soy free.

Mark Burnett, who produced The Bible series (If your family has not seen this…do yourself a favor and watch it.  It is INCREDIBLE!  It will spawn a lot of conversations with your kiddos.  If your kids are small, you should watch it first to make sure they can handle everything in it), spoke on Dr. Oz about how Jesus ate.  He spent years doing intense research in making this show Biblically accurate.  I was thrilled that his conclusion was that he ate a plant based diet, lots of beans, veggies and fruits, a little dairy, and fish.  This is almost exactly how I am eating.  Why wouldn’t I want to eat exactly as He did?  And as a bonus, he only drank water and red wine.  Now THIS is a diet I can handle!  😉

In mid March, our family was blessed with the incredible opportunity to go to Luck’s homeland…Argentina!  We visited family and explored Buenos Aires with his parents.  It was a perfect trip on all accounts.  We were able to find gluten free foods for the kids and for me the entire time.  I stayed vegetarian (nearly impossible to stay vegan and gluten free) except for one, glorious steak.  Argentina is known for BEEF!  I had to indulge once.  I split one steak with the kids and it was a perfect amount.  The kids were just a perfect age for taking in another culture.  We MAY have eaten dulce de leche all day every day.  But as they say, “When in Argentina….”

We came very close to not going.  I came down with the flu on Friday (we left on a Tuesday).  By Sunday (TWO DAYS BEFORE LEAVING), Reid was throwing up, both kids had fever, I was horribly sick, and Lucky felt like he was getting sick.  We prayed for health.  We didn’t want to cancel.  By Monday, everyone but me was fine. But we still didn’t know if we were going to cancel.  By Tuesday(the day we flew out), I turned a corner.  God allowed this trip to continue!  We were so very grateful!

It is amazing to think that I have come this far in my health quest.  PLEASE encourage anyone you know with any kind of illness to try eating plant based.  I feel like my life has been saved.  Remember back when I started this?  I felt it was where God was leading me.  People thought I was nutso!  And I am!!  But this is real.  My illness is real.  And these vegetables have truly given me the ability to travel with my family, to be a part of life, and to start to feel more like myself.  I will take a few days a week in bed.

I am so very grateful!

Paella Primavera

20 Apr

I’ve had this recipe on  my Pinterest board for quite some time.  I am SO glad I finally tried it!!!  Look at all of the goodness that goes inside of it!

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The recipe came from Vegetarian Times.  I normally change recipes, but really kept pretty close to the original on this one.  It was a big hit!  The kids are excited for me to make it again and let them pick which veggies I use.  I think they both want broccoli, peas, and asparagus next time.  Dani loved the olives.  But I can serve those on the side for her to put on herself.  Anyway, this came together really quickly, once everything is chopped.   Here is the recipe:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. crumbled saffron threads (If you don’t have this, try some turmeric or any other seasonings you feel like!)
  • 1 cup short-grain white rice
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen baby peas
  • 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 12 pitted green olives, halved
  • 12 pitted black olives, halved, optional
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • Take liberties with this recipe and just use whatever veggies you love!!

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper and green onions; cook 5 minutes. Stir in broth, garlic, and saffron; bring to a boil. Sprinkle rice over ingredients, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

2. Sprinkle broccoli, peas, tomatoes, and olives over rice. Cover, and cook paella 8 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, and let rest, covered, 5 minutes. Season 
with salt and pepper.

3. Serve and garnish each with lemon wedges.

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Homemade Lara Bars and an Update.

18 Feb


Ah, Lupus.  I have months of feeling well and then bam!  Sores in my nose, face breaking out, joint pain, insomnia, weight gain, mental confusion, and on and on…

I have had this theory that the reason I wasn’t flaring was because of the diet, combined with my proactive sleeping.  Even when I didn’t feel like I was going to die, I was taking lots of naps and staying in bed often. But then I way overdid myself a few weeks ago.  I tried to test my theory, I guess (not really, I just happened to have a lot going on).  Looks like I proved it correct!  This time, at least.  It isn’t easy because the inner me is still super active!  I forget that person is gone.

Lesson learned.  Ready for this flare to end.  It has already subsided a little.  But I still have all of those symptoms.  And am super exhausted.

Now, on to a recipe!
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We have a good number of grocery staples that just go in the cart every time we go to HEB.  Almond milk, OJ, gf bread, fruits and veggies, refried beans, and Lara bars.  No matter what, we almost always need more of those things.

A friend made me some home made Lara bars a few months ago.  I loved them and kept meaning to make them myself.

Finally, I did.  And BOY am I glad!  Homemade are just way, way better!  We all like boxed  Lara bars except Reid.  He will eat them, if he is asked.  But they are not his favorite.  However, he LOVED these!  I think it is the Mexican vanilla, the right amount of salt, and the tiny chocolate chips that makes these super.

So before you grab a box at the store next time, grab some nuts and dates and give these a go!  And if you are looking for a great breakfast or snack item, look no further.  Just tell your kids you made chocolate chip cookie dough bars!

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Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Lara Bars

  • 3 cups of nuts: I’ve done half cashews, have walnuts and all walnuts.  But you can also do peanuts or anything else.  Play with the combo.  Just stick with raw nuts and not salted and roasted.
  • 2 cups of packed dates
  • 1 tsp of water (or more, if needed)
  • 2 tsps of a good Mexican vanilla (NOT artificial vanilla flavoring, if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips
  • My latest version also had 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes and 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries. PLAY WITH YOUR ADD INS!  You can do raisins, flax seeds, dried blueberries, cinnamon chips, anything!

Grind the nuts and salt in a food processor for a 3-5 seconds.  Add the dates and grind away for about 15 more seconds.  Pinch your mixture.  Does it fall apart?  If yes, then turn your processor back on and add in a teaspoon of water.  Repeat, if needed.  Now, add the 2 tsps of vanilla.  It should have formed one giant clump of goodness.  Now dump that into a bowl and add in your dark chocolate chips.  Stir the mixture until everything is well combined.

Lay parchment paper or a Silpat on your cookie sheet and using slightly wet hands, press the mixture into a big rectangle, leaving space on the sides.  I used the margins of the Silpat as my guide in this pic, but the next time around, I made the rectangle smaller and cut them into thicker bars.  Do whatever floats your boat.  THIS PART IS OPTIONAL, but will make transferring easier. I did the last few batches without this step and prob won’t do it in the future: Stick the cookie sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Then pull it out, cut, and wrap in plastic wrap.  From here, throw all of those wrapped bars in your freezer and Voila!  Breakfast/snacks are finished!

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A few notes….play with this recipe.  Mix up the nuts and the add-ins.  In my perfect world, I would have done dark chocolate mini chips with chopped dried tart cherries.  But alas, this was for the family, not just me.  Also, add cocoa powder for a chocolatey punch.  You can’t mess this one up!  Also, GO BUY A SILPAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE!!  We easily use ours anywhere from 2 – 10 times per week.  Roasting veggies, baking anything, and then using them for things like this.  Well worth the $20!  Then you don’t have to wash the pan!  Just the liner.