Tag Archives: Recipe

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!


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.




Back to my roots, Gumbo style!

4 Aug

If you asked me to summarize childhood in one bite, I think my mom’s gumbo would probably be that bite.  We did not have it weekly or monthly, but we had it often.  And hers is the best gumbo I have ever had.  Sometimes we would have it because company was coming in town, sometimes because our dear friends Buck and Alma brought us fresh shrimp from the gulf, but mostly, we had it because it tasted so good and was comforting to all of us.

My mom is from Biloxi, MS.  Making it regularly was her way of infusing her heritage into our Texas seeped roots.  And  now we all get to pass that on to another generation….who LOVE gumbo!

(Our gumbo does NOT have a roux.  Never has, never will.  Healthier and tastier this way.)

So tonight, we have family in town.  And she is making gumbo.  I so badly wanted to make a vegan version.  But really, what makes the gumbo taste so good is that bacon grease, the okra, the shrimp, sausage, and chicken!  And I can only eat one of those ingredients.  I had to try and see what I could do.  So this is what I spent the morning doing…and am SO glad I did!

Vegan Gumbo, Biloxi Style

  • 2 bunches mustard greens
  • 1/2 bunch red chard
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 quart of okra (next time will do 2 quarts)
  • 1-2 tsp Vegebase
  • 9 ish cups water
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Cajun seasoning or Tobasco
  • File’ 
  • Cooked brown rice to serve over

1) Wash greens and chard  in a sink full of water and let the dirt fall to the bottom.  Drain in a colander.  Place in a large stock pot.  Add a few inches of water to the bottom and some Kosher salt.  Bring to boil, then simmer with the lid on.  Using tongs, gently toss the greens every few minutes.  Continue until the greens are cooked down.  I prob let them cook for 40 minutes or so.

2) Chop all other vegetables.  Heat olive oil in a pot over medium high heat (this will be the pot you finish the soup in).  Add these veggies and cook until they are translucent and yummy looking.  Stir often.  It is almost always wise to add salt to veggies that you are cooking.  It coaxes the water right out of them.  These pictures of the veggies are before cooking down. I should have taken an after picture.  😦

3)Add Vegebase, water, Worcestershire Sauce, and any seasonings you would like.  I added fresh ground pepper and some Tony Chachere’s.  Bring the soup to a simmer and just let it cook away.  At some point, it stops looking watery and starts looking like gumbo.  That is what we are aiming for.

4) Somewhere during all of this cooking, drain your greens.  Chop half of them and put half in a blender and blend into a paste.  If you need, add a little water to your blender.   Then add all of this to the gumbo.

5) Cook and taste for seasoning!  Add whatever your heart desires.  At the very end, add the file’, if you have it. 

This gumbo is bright green!  You can certainly add soy sausage or whatever you would like.  Personally, I am trying to avoid all processed foods of any sort.  I *almost* didn’t add Tony’s or Worcestershire Sauce.  I am glad I did, though, because I consider this gumbo a huge success!  I actually love it! 

It tastes like home.  Thanks, Mama 🙂

Summer rolls!

31 Jul

My sweet friend, Gretchen, and I cook for each others’ families every other week.  We live only a street away, cook similarly in regards to nutrition, and both love to experiment!  It is FABULOUS!  I think everyone should find a neighbor or a good friend to share dinner duty.  It is awesome.

A few months ago, she made summer rolls.  They were wrapped in rice paper, and are gluten free!

After my splurge on produce this weekend, we thought this may be a fun thing to do as a family. We had no recipe…just some fresh ingredients. I am NO expert in rolling, as my ugly rolls will show.  But they were SO yummy!  The kids ate vegan and had no idea.  They rate every meal I make.  This one got a 100 (scale of 1 – 10) from one kid and a 6 from my picky eater.  This is quite exciting!


Romaine lettuce

A Carrot

An Avocado

A Cucumber

Cilantro Sprigs

Cooked brown rice

Gluten Free Teriyaki sauce

Rice Spring Roll wrappers

Variety of dipping sauces

Thinly chop all veggies (except cilantro).  Once your brown rice is cooked, add some Teriyaki sauce to give it some flavor.

Take a pie pan and fill with warm water from the tap.

Soak a rice sheet in the water then lay it on a damp dish towel.

Take a scoop of rice and lay it in the middle on the bottom, about ¼ of the way down.

Lay down some of each of the veggies.

Lay sides of rice paper in the middle.  Roll the bottom up and then roll the entire thing. (we were actually having a lot of fun, despite the serious looks on our faces! We look hysterical!)

Dip in a variety of sauces!!!  Here are our gluten free choices.

Enjoy your veggies!!

Addiction, revisited.

31 Jul

Remember my addiction?  You know, the whole marinara thing? Well, I have a new one. I have made 4 batches of it in two weeks.  I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  And it, too, is TOMATO!!!! Evidently, I have a thing for lycopene.

And here it is!

Vegan Roasted Tomato Basil Soup (adapted from Chow.com)


  • 6–6 1/2 pound tomatoes, cut into chunks (any that look juicy and good)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (sometimes blended in my blender instead)
  • 2 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups fresh whole basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Arrange the cut tomatoes on a large (10×16-inch) baking sheet. Drizzle the tomatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss with your hands until the tomatoes are evenly coated with oil, then arrange them cut side up; they should fill the pan completely. Place in oven and roast the tomatoes for 50 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and set aside.
  3. Warm the rest of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes and sauté for one more minute. Carefully pour in all the tomatoes and their juices. Add the basil and thyme. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Blend the soup in batches in the blender, pouring finished soup into a clean saucepan or bowl.  Once blended, it looks all creamy and orange.�
  5. After all batches are in the serving bowl, salt to taste.  Keep adding kosher salt until it tastes just right.  I add a lot.  🙂

Lots of Veg Risotto Recipe

30 Jul

I was so overwhelmed with the veggies I had and really just went with my instinct on what to make and how to make it.

Please read this recipe through before starting. It is a little bit of a juggling act.  Risotto is always best made with a helper. 

I made it today after getting all of these fresh veggies from the Farmer’s Market.  I am trying to just let the food guide me as to how to prepare each thing.  Thanks to some awesome cookbooks from: Nutritious Eats, I was able to read about some different veggies and prep ideas and put together this recipe.

So here is my creation (which I think you should try….vegan or not!): Vegan butternut squash, red chard, and roasted red pepper risotto!

Olive Oil

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1 yellow onion, chopped

2-3 large leaves of red chard (and stalk) chopped

1 handful purslane, chopped

2 medium sized butternut squash

1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

64 oz veggie broth

White wine (1/2 cup or more…you choose!)

Toasted pine nuts (toast on 350 for 5 minutes)

Preheat oven to 400.  Stem and slice butternut squash in half, scoop out seeds, and lay cut side down on a greased pan.  Add cut red bell pepper to the pan.  Roast these together for 35 – 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, do 3 things. 

1) Heat veg broth to a boil and lower to a simmer.

2) Heat olive oil and add rice until starting to brown (and maybe pop).

3) Heat olive oil in another pan and start sauteing the onions.

Once your rice is brown, add the veg broth, one hot scoop at a time.  Stir until the liquid is absorbed.  This will take a while. As you get toward the end of the broth, test for doneness. You may or may not need all of that broth. Somewhere during that process, pour in some white wine in place of the broth.  This really enhances the flavor.

As you are doing this, add the cut chard and the purslane to the onions and cook down, adding some Kosher salt as you cook.  This will help coax the water out of the veggies. The red stems will maintain a little crunch, but really cook those suckers down!

Once the veggies from the oven are roasted, skin and chop the butternut squash and chop the red pepper.  Add these veggies to the onion mixture and saute a bit.  Taste for seasoning.

Once the rice is done, remove from the heat and add this veggie mixture.  Top with toasted pine nuts and some parm, if you are not vegan!

Wondering WHAT THE HECK Purslane is???  Me, too!  But evidently it is the highest plant form of Omega 3’s!  Yay!  For more, read here: Purslane.  I bought some at the market today.  It is trickier getting Omega 3’s now because fish oil is not exactly vegan. 🙂

Eat well! 

Blah, black beans, and a blog.

9 Jul

Well, I achieved step one.  I got my doctor’s e-mail address!  Now I need to compile journal articles and books and whatnot to present to him.  I have been vegan this week, with exception of an egg used in the falafel I made on Tuesday and a tiny bit of diary that I served the Greek meal with (I could not pass up on my homemade tzatziki and some feta) and gluten and corn free.  Vegan just means vegetarian with no eggs or dairy or any animal products whatsoever.

I am feeling very sad about food.  I don’t have many options and end up eating the same few things over and over.  And then when I am finished, my stomach hurts.  So cry me a river, I am feeling a tad sorry for myself.  Get over it, right?  This is just Lupus.  This is not cancer.  I am not in a wheelchair.  I am still living life and loving my friends and family. 🙂

But I am blah. Blah about the prospective food future of mine.  Blah that my kids won’t remember the good baker and cook that I was.  Blah that I am that weirdo who only eats vegetables.

We enjoyed some Cuban black beans I made in the crockpot this week!  They are so full of flavor and so very yummy!  We all had brown rice and beans last night for dinner. Reid’s rating meter exploded he liked them so much. Picture his thumb going up and down, up and down and then POW!  He said on a scale of 1-10, it was a 100.  Dani gave them an 8.  This is HUGE.  Luck and I ate ours with fresh tomatoes and avocados and they all had cheese with their’s.  It was a cheap, fun family dinner we all enjoyed.

Cuban Black Beans!

5 cups water, plus a tad extra

1 lb black beans, rinsed

2 bay leaves

2 T Olive oil

1 onion

Bell pepper (any color…I used yellow)


6 garlic cloves

2 more T olive oil

2 tsp oregano

1 ½ tsp cumin

½ cup chopped cilantro

1 T fresh lime juice

Kosher salt and pepper

Pace water, beans, and bay leaves, and olive oil in crockpot.  Cook on high for 4 hours or until beans are starting to get soft.  Now you are going to make a sofrito!  Take the onion, peppers, and garlic and put in food processor, heavy duty blender, or chop with a knife.  I use my Blendtec and puree them.  Heat the next amount of OO on the stove and add the puree to the heated oil.  Cook for 10 minutes or so to really develop those flavors.  Add that mixture, plus the spices and lime juice to the crockpot.  Remove the bay leaves.  Finish cooking in the crockpot until the beans and tender.  Take a fork or a masher of some sort and mash some of the beans in the crockpot.  This will help them thicken.    Now is when you add salt and pepper.  If you salt beans before they are cooked, they will take MUCH longer to cook.  Please, please don’t be afraid of using salt.  Especially kosher salt or sea salt.  It takes more than table salt to get the right flavor. I really believe one of the main things that separates good cooks from bad ones is their ability to use salt. Enough brings out flavors. Too much kills flavors. So when you are to season to taste….this means that you must taste!  Add more if needed and keep that process going until you really, really TASTE that the beans are good!  Enjoy!

I know I will get my legs under me and get going on this.  But I am not quite excited yet.

If you would like to join me in meal planning, my friend Melanie Macedo Flinn and I went to UT together and studied nutrition. I got sidetracked after finishing my degree because I met this boy who wanted to get married. 🙂 She stayed the course and got her Masters and became an RD.  I am so happy we each took our own course and I love following her blog!  Join her each week as we plan our meals for the week.  You will get new recipe ideas and health tips.  And putting your meal plan out there in cyberspace is a great way to hold yourself accountable to healthy, good meals all week long.  Plus, you can see what your friends are eating.  So invite others because the more, the merrier.

Here is the website: http://www.nutritiouseats.com/

And follower her on FB so you can share with others: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nutritious-Eats/147142365314008

Happy Saturday!  And here is to finding fun in your food….whatever food you may choose to eat!

Food ideas for the whole family.

14 Nov

Want to try crispy kale?  My picky eater even liked it!

Preheat oven to 375.  Rinse, dry, and chop kale.  I removed the thick stem.  Place kale on a sheet pan and toss in olive oil and sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Be generous.  I also used a garlic press and held it right over the kale.  I tossed it in with my hand.  Then bake for 15 minutes.  If it is crunchy, it is ready!  Feel free to eliminate the garlic.  They will be more kid friendly that way.

What about roasted sweet potatoes?

Preheat oven to 425.  Peel sweet potatoes and then chop into french fry type slices.  Toss in olive oil and s and p.  Roast until the edges are turning brown and it is getting crispy.  Call them fries, and your kids will love you 🙂

Or try this for a tasty avocado dip:

Take frozen mangoes and pineapples.  Throw a few in your food processor.  Add some freshly squeezed lime juice and sea salt and pepper. Process.  Then add an avocado or two and blend on pulse. Keeping as many chunks as you like.  Taste for seasonings.  Serve with a spoon or with Beanitos or even tortilla chips.  This keeps really well in the fridge if you cover with saran wrap, pressing the wrap against the dip. All four of us ate this last week for a meal.  Dani was hesitant until she saw the other 3 of us talking about how great it was.  Then she dug in and liked it, too!  Don’t under season, though!

Have you ever tried Beanitos?  They are chips.  But they are made of black beans and some rice.  They are sooooooo good!!!  The kids love them.

Today, we served all four of us the carrot, split pea, leek soup I talked about in the last post.  I knew going in to it that it would be a long shot to get the kids to even try the soup.  So before we sat down, I told them both that I would give them a square of my beloved chocolate if they finished their bowls.  This chocolate that I was offering is nothing to take lightly and they KNEW it!  For this is “Mama’s Chocolate.”  They know better than even asking for some.  My current favorite is this: http://www.lindtusa.com/product-exec/product_id/353/category_id/5/nm/A_Touch_of_Sea_Salt_Bar

Amazingly, Reid dug in, rubbing his tummy saying, “yummy!”  Naturally, Daniella was a bit more apprehensive.  But the dark chocolate compelled her.  AND THEY BOTH ATE!  A victory in the Smith house.  Now no, they did not finish their bowls.  But they ate it.  With good attitudes.  So they got to share a square.

Don’t give up on your kids (or you!) eating healthy.  Just encourage, reward, and CONSTANTLY place healthful foods in front of them.  Often times it is reward enough for us to be so proud of the way they are eating.  And research shows over and over that simply placing it in front of them will lead to them eventually trying it and eating it.  Today called for the big guns.  And no, they won’t be coming out again any time soon. I am a bit possessive of that stuff!