Tag Archive | vegan

Irish Stew

I’m not Irish, I don’t pretend to be Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, and I don’t play someone Irish on television. No offense meant to anyone who does celebrate it; it’s just not normally a day I acknowledge in any big way. But this year I made an exception. In menu planning for the week, I thought I would try to find a recipe for a vegetarian Irish Stew to make today. True to form, I also made a number of modifications either because I didn’t have an item, or because I prefer a different ingredient.

And so, here is the link to my Vegan Irish Stew. I wish I could say the photo was mine, but it was all gobbled up before I thought to take a picture! It’s got a whole bunch of yummy vegetables, along with soy curls and lentils for health protein and meatiness. The gravy was delicious and we sopped it all up with some crust bread.

I also made some cupcakes (not vegan) with green icing and green sprinkles… for the children! Yes, I enjoyed them, too, but I really made them as a treat for my son and grandson.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

IMDb: Irish Stew (1930)


The dreaded question of anyone who eats a plant based diet in any form (vegetarian, vegan, WFPBNO) is “where do you get your protein?” I was having this conversation with my son just today as he was eating the leftover tofu with sesame seeds from yesterday. Both the seeds and the tofu are great sources of protein!

Somewhere along the line, protein got elevated to this superior position in the world of nutrition. Not that protein isn’t an important macronutrient; it obviously is. But I think it’s been overrated in terms of its focus. I know so many people who are all about getting more and more protein in their diets, even drinking protein shakes and eating protein bars. As if more is better.

But there is such a thing as “too much”. Excessive protein can lead to a number of health conditions, including weight gain (I saw this first hand with my husband), constipation, and kidney damage. Depending on the source of your protein, other risks are cancer and heart disease.

So how much protein should you have in a day? On average, it’s 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. (A calculation I found online said .36 grams per pound of body weight.) If you are working out, it’s slightly higher.

Most foods contain all 3 macronutrients — protein, fat and carbohydrates — in varying degrees. You are probably getting enough protein, without supplementation, if you are eating a decent diet. If you aren’t sure, use cronometer.com to track your meals for a few days to see where you are at. Too much protein could be a reason you are struggling to lose weight.

Even if you are eating a plant based diet, it’s easy to hit your protein targets. I tracked my meals from yesterday in cronometer.com, and I ate 54.9 grams of protein. It was more than targeted, but over time, it balances out, as I’m sure there are a few days I’m slightly below that number. I wouldn’t want to be any higher, though. I did want to illustrate how easy it is to get your protein, though.

Great sources of protein for plant-based diet include: soy products like tofu and tempeh, nuts and seeds, lentils, beans, quinoa, and oats.

Protein IS important; I’m not downplaying that it is critical. Not getting enough is also an issue. Protein is important in building bones, muscles, cartilage and skin. It helps oxygenate your blood and repair cells, and more. I just think the push for more and more protein can be damaging and you should really look at how much you are getting in your diet before trying to supplement and/or adding more protein foods to your diet.

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As a mentioned, a great source of plant protein is tempeh. I have shared a number of recipes with you previously using tempeh, a great meat substitute. One serving of this recipe (Tempeh Satay with Peanut Sauce) is about 30 grams of protein! That includes 4 oz of tempeh, 1 cup of rice, and 1/8 cup of peanut sauce. (A cup of broccoli is another 2.6 grams!)


IMDb: Overrated (2016)

Mystic Pizza

Looking for a delicious pizza without the dairy? Then look no more.

This pizza was the brain-child of my son. I had made a modified version of a recipe from the cook book, Isa Does It. (I love her cookbooks, but she uses oil in everything, so I do a lot of modifications.) It was originally made to be a pizza bowl, with everything served over brown rice. The sauce is a creamy roasted red pepper sauce that is just fabulous and Ethan decided that it would be amazing on a pizza.

So that’s what we did.

You can use your preferred pizza crust, but we like to use naan breads. It’s an easy way to create personal sized pizzas, allowing everyone to customize their toppings.

The sauce is a blend of roasted red peppers, tomato paste, cashews, and a few other ingredients. I throw it all into my food processor (my favorite kitchen appliance), and blend for 3-5 minutes until really smooth. If you don’t have a high powered food processor, you can soak the cashews for a few hours to ensure smoothness.

I prepare all the toppings first, and then line everything up on the counter for each family member to do their own assembly.

  • Roasted red pepper sauce
  • Field Roast Italian sausage, sliced and browned on both sides. (You can use any vegan Italian sausage.)
  • Sliced garlic, fried in a non-stick skillet (no added oil). We like LOTS of this!
  • Red onion, sliced thin and sautéed in a non-stick pan (no added oil).
  • Kale, chopped and sautéed or steamed. Generally, I cook the red onions first, then move them to one side and throw the kale in the same pan. You can throw in a splash of water to quickly steam the kale.
  • Black olives, sliced. Please note that olive “oil” in its natural form (i.e., in an olive!) is healthy. Squeezing all the oil out of the olive, throwing away the nutrients and fiber, and eating only the oil is not.

I love to pile up the onions, garlic and kale! Lots of nutrients without many calories!

Once assembled on the naan breads, they only need to go in the oven for 5-10 minutes to heat up. If using another type of pizza crust, follow the instructions given.

This is Ethan’s second favorite vegan meal, right behind a Tempeh BLT (stay tuned)!

Here’s the recipe for the Roasted Red Pepper Pizza Bowl, which includes instructions for making it into an actual pizza.


IMDb: Mystic Pizza (1988)

8 Years

Eight years ago today is when I started on my plant-based diet journey. I remember the date so vividly because it was the day following my last chemotherapy treatment. I had been researching plant-based diets throughout my treatment and only just dabbling with trying to eat a plant based diet. During that time, many people were cooking for me, so I ate what was delivered. But I knew that once my treatment was done, I was trying a WFPBNO diet. (Whole Food Plant Based No Oil)

I had been reading every book I could find on the subject, as well as watching documentaries such as “Forks Over Knives”. In the beginning, I was still cooking some meat and fish, since I wasn’t making my family eat this way. I had to do this for ME, and I could worry about them later. My husband joined me in being meat-free a few years after. My son eats whatever I cook, but sometimes indulges in eating meat outside the home.

I dropped 20 pounds or so, without really tracking, measuring, etc. I just ate the right foods. I leaned more towards Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution diet (70% starches, 20% non-starchy veggies, 10% fruit) and that worked well for me. I had so much energy, recovered well from my treatments, and felt amazing. All that AFTER surgery, chemo and radiation.

Over the years, I am sad to say, my discipline waned. While I never ate any meat, I did allow cheese to sneak back in my diet, ever so slowly. Throw in some junk food, and the 20 pounds started coming back on. As I said, this is a lifestyle, not just a diet. It can’t be short term; it has to be a life-long habit, with few, if any, lapses. I will talk more about dairy tomorrow, but I’m making a renewed commitment to no cheese.

It’s been a great 8 years of trying new foods, international cuisine, and hundreds of new recipes. A lot of it was trial-and-error. I learned new cooking techniques, as well. My food processor became my favorite appliance. It’s been such a learning experience, and I am better for it on so many levels.

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Here’s a new recipe that I tried today. I modified it quite a bit, but I think a further reduction of the oil is needed on the marinade. Overall, it was delicious although my boys didn’t think it was quite enough for dinner… Marinated Tofu Salad.

IMDb: 8 Years (2020)

Know Your Resources

I promised a few people over the past few weeks that I would compile a list of my favorite cookbooks and other resources for good whole food plant based eating!  So here goes!

First, cookbooks….To be fully “McDougall compliant”, I eliminate all added oils from these recipes. Typically, it just involves saute’ing in veggie broth instead of oil.

  1. Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
    This one is my go-to cookbook and the source of many of my new comfort foods.
    Favorites: Cheddary Broccoli Soup, Creamy Potato-Leek Soup, Lentil-A-Roni, White Wine Risotto and Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings
    I think there are still so many more unexplored recipes for me to try!
  2. Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon
    Favorites: Quick & Easy Chana Masala, Creamy Vegetable Curry, Broccoli & Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burrito
  3. Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr
    Favorites: Veggie Quesadilla, Save the Tuna Salad on Rye
    Lots of beginner “know-how” in this book.
  4. The Happy Herbivore Cookbooks – my favorite is “Light & Lean”.
  5. O M Gee Good! Instant Pot Meals by Jill McKeever
    I got this one to help me better use my instant pot. I’ve only tried a few recipes so far. I love one pot meals for their ease of preparing; cooking them in minutes is even better!

While I do go to my cookbooks a few times a week, more and more I go to the web to find new recipes. I’m part of a few Facebook groups that post recipe links, so I’m never at a loss for new recipes. I have a stack of printed recipes that I plan to try, along with those I keep going back to!

If there’s a particular ingredient you want to try to incorporate into a dish, just google it along with “vegan recipes”. There’s a whole world of recipes waiting to be explored. I always review the ingredient list to make sure they are “compliant” or easily modifiable, and to see how difficult the recipe is to make. If it has too many steps or looks like it will take too long, I will skip it. I want to get dinner made in 30 minutes or less!

Here are some of my “go to” websites:

  1. 40-Year-Old-Vegan (an old college friend, now a vegan chef)
  2. Oh She Glows (yes, she has a website too!)
  3. Klunker’s Kitchen
  4. http://blog.eatplant-based.com
  5. http://www.brandnewvegan.com
  6. http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/

As a reminder, you can click on the “recipes” tab above. That will link you to all posts that contain a recipe link. And if you find any good recipes on your own, please do share!!

IMDb: Know Your Resources (1950)

Magic Kitchen

After spending the last five hours in the kitchen, it seems an appropriate post to talk about some of the latest recipes I’ve tried.

Since we have a three day weekend (yea!), I pre-made the Oh She Glows “Maple-Cinnamon Apple & Pear Baked Oatmeal”.  We’ll have that for breakfast tomorrow morning, plus it will give me some leftovers for Ethan’s breakfast for the week.

Today, I also made the Oh She Glows “Our Favorite Veggie Burger”. This took some prep work (grating carrots, chopping onions and cilantro, mashing black beans), but overall wasn’t too time-consuming. I served these on whole grain rolls with grey poupon mustard. You can add cheese, if desired, and all the usual burger toppings.  David and I enjoyed these burgers, but Ethan wasn’t a huge fan. He doesn’t care for “seeds” (sunflower) or onions… He did eat most of it, but the dog enjoyed the remainder. The batch made 8, so we have some for lunch tomorrow. (Won’t Ethan be happy?)

With the burgers, I made a new recipe for “French fries“. With no oil.  The trick is to partially boil the potatoes first, and then bake with some seasonings.  Everyone enjoyed these super healthy “fries”! I might mix up the seasonings a bit next time (a little less paprika, a little more kick).

Last week, I also made three new recipes:

Smoky Lentil Soup was a recipe I found on the blog, Plant Based Christian. This was a yummy soup, and the best part was the simplicity of preparation. Eight ingredients (if you count the water), thrown into my Instant Pot.  Turn on for 15 minutes. It counted get any easier.

Oh She Glows “Indian Lentil-Cauliflower Soup“. This was a big hit… except for the fact that David doesn’t like sweet potatoes. I didn’t think they were too strong/sweet based on the way they cooked in the recipe, but he noticed.  Ethan is a fan of curry and I loved everything in this recipe: red lentils (my favorite kind), cauliflower, spinach, fresh ginger…).


Oh She Glows “Tex Mex Casserole“. Everyone loved this one!  No complaints and definitely something to add to the rotation.  This dish has loads of vegetables and it’s the first time I tried out some vegan cheese (Daiya). Melted within the dish, you would never even know. I opted for spinach over kale, as always.


I also made the vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Torte that we all love. I took this to work once to rave reviews by everyone! As a reminder, I replaced the tofu with coconut milk vanilla yogurt. I think I’ll go have some now…  🙂


IMDb: Magic Kitchen (2004)

Animal Farm

Growing up, I was never much of an animal person. We had “outside dogs” but pets never had pets in the house. So I never really had the opportunity to get close to a pet, and I never really desired it. Those of you who know me well, know that a German shepherd came as part of the package when David and I married. I wasn’t happy about it, and still regret the scratched floors and unending fur balls in the corners of every room.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love our dog. She’s very sweet, loyal and protective. But, as I like to say, sometimes I just wish she lived somewhere else.  🙂

There are many people who follow a plant-based diet because they are huge animal lovers. That wasn’t me. I did it for health reasons, and helping animals was just a side benefit. It’s difficult, however, to read up on plant-based diets without exposure to articles on animal cruelty. And the more I read, the more horrified I am by the treatment of farm animals. Why is it that we fight to protect our precious dogs and cats, and all other animals are at the mercy of those who would gain financially from the cheapest form of death they can inflict.

I’m presently reading “Meatonomics” by attorney David Simon. I got to hear him speak back in February and he told a compelling story. It’s amazing (but not surprising) how Big Ag has influenced law to the point that they are super protected from litigation. And they are allowed to get away with more and more appalling actions under the guise of “customary farming practices”. Basically, as long as other farmer are doing it, it’s ok. So as soon as one farmer finds a cheaper method, even if it’s cruel and unusual, once the others adopt it, it’s “customary”. It’s just insane.

I actually made a donation to a farm sanctuary this morning. I was talking to a co-worker about it and she was sharing information about the FarmSanctuary.org. I just felt compelled to support it. You might want to check it out, or some other local organization.

Off soap box. (Although I’m sure there’s more to come as I read those eye-opening book.)


The update on my hubby… the surgeon put it in our court as to how soon (and if) to have the hernia surgery. David is weighing his options… get it done now while it’s super easy, but potentially have unnecessary surgery. Or play the odds that it will never get as bad as it is now. I felt we had some time to make the decision (he doesn’t want it to interfere with our December Disney trip…) but the decision is weighing heavy on him. I told him that, sort of like my decision around not taking Femara, it needs to be his decision. I don’t want to influence one way or the other. We all have to make decisions that are the best for ourselves. So I’ve provided some perspective and will now wait for his decision.


My mother-in-law is also home and doing well after several days in the ICU. Unidentified internal bleeding that stopped on its own. We were really worried for a few days there but are glad she’s doing better. Never a dull moment.


IMDb: Animal Farm (1954)



Feeling Minnesota

As part of the Facebook groups and other blogs and forums I follow, I often hear about how people struggle with getting good food choices when the visit friends or family. It seems that the majority of them do not feel supported with their lifestyle choices. I have to say, quite honestly, that I have never experienced that! I have been blessed by family and friends who go out of their way to make sure that they have choices for me. They ask ahead of time, they research on their own, and they challenge themselves to make healthy options (sometimes vegan, but minimally vegetarian) for me. And they never make me feel guilty — they always seem genuinely happy to do it for me.  What more could a girl ask for?!?!

This past weekend, my husband and I traveled to Minnesota to visit friends. We had so much good, healthy food! Smoothies, oatmeal and fruit for breakfast.  Delicious salads, black bean burgers, quinoa & spinach cakes… the list goes on. And luckily, Minnesota seems to be ahead of the Pennsylvania curve when eating out. Many healthy options on the menus. The whole culture seems much more focused on organic and healthy choices. We bought some wild brown rice to take home (who knew Minnesota grew rice…?) but had to walk away from a few other things, as they would likely be confiscate by the TSA. I took a lot of business cards, though, and may just have to order some of this stuff at home.

A new salad dressing recipe from my friend, Gina:  Apple Jalapeno Jam (or any jalapeno jam) with a little bit of balsamic vinegar.  Mix that up and toss in your salad.  Delicious, and easy!!  (The jalapeno jam was one of the things I wanted to purchase, but will have to order online when I get home, or look locally.)

I’m really enjoying my long weekend in Minnesota. I’ve learned a lot about the area and have just enjoyed some relaxing time with my hubby and friends. Today I celebrate my 52nd birthday! I treasure each and every one of them, as you can never be sure you’ll have another.  Thank you, all, for the birthday wishes!!


IMDb: Feeling Minnesota (1996)

Nutty But Nice

The vegan dinner was a success — especially the desserts!  The vegan pumpkin pie got great reviews.  It was very “pumpkin-y” and you absolutely don’t miss the dairy.  The peanut butter chocolate chip cookies were gone in minutes.  I’ve posted that recipe before, but here are both recipes again for the benefit of my dinner guests and anyone else with a sweet tooth.

PB Cookies:  http://thehairpin.com/2013/05/the-i-dare-you-to-make-these-cookies-chickpea-peanut-butter-and-honey-dark-chocolate-chip-cookies

Vegan Pumpkin Pie: http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/pumpkin-pie-vegan-soy-free-gluten-free/


Our vegan dinner featured some of my favorite recipes, but several did feature cashew cream. It’s a vegan alternative to adding dairy to the recipes.  I love how cashew cream tastes in recipes, and it’s so easy to do.  Typically, it’s soaked cashews (2 hours to overnight) and water.  Place them in your food processor and blend for 1-5 minutes.  I usually just turn the processor on and go do something else.

My hesitation on the cashew cream is that nuts are a very rich source of calories — and fat.  While nuts are healthy, they really shouldn’t be eaten every day.  I learned this at the McDougall conference and it made sense after I thought about it.  Typically, nuts are eaten to store up fat and prepare for winter.  They really are too rich to be eaten daily.

I used to eat a package of mixed nuts (carefully branded as “NUTritious”) every day for a snack at work.  It wasn’t until they discussed this at the conference that it really hit me.  I definitely think the daily dose of nuts contributed to my being stuck from a weight loss perspective.  So remember, once in a while is ok, but don’t do it every day.

And by the way, they feel the same way about avocados.  One of the books recommends avoiding avocados altogether.  I love them too much to give them up completely, but I totally get that I shouldn’t eat them daily.

woman-handful-nuts (1)


Nutty But Nice (1928) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1027117/

The Dinner Party

I am so excited!  After having been stuck at 154-157 weight range for months on end (after losing 13 pounds early last year), I am happy to say that I finally broke 150 pounds!!  So it’s only 149.8, but I will take it.  I have been really trying to follow the McDougall Plan… it’s a whole foods, plant based diet, but more focused on starches and zero added oil.  I can’t quite get to zero, but I have been making a conscious effort to remove all added oil, and have increased my consumption of starch (mainly potatoes and rice).  I think we’re on to something here…  I definitely recommend it for anyone trying to get healthier and lose weight.  As a reminder, the McDougall Plan looks something like this:  (WFPB) starches + veggies + fruits – added oil.


Tonight, I am making a vegan dinner for some friends who are interested but perhaps a bit skeptical that food can be healthy AND delicious!  I’ve selected an Italian theme:  White Wine Risotto with Peas & Shiitake Bacon, as well as Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Penne, both from “Isa Does It”.  A salad with a citrus vinaigrette and some Italian bread.  For dessert: peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies and vegan pumpkin pie.  The pie is a new recipe, so I’ll let you know how that goes… the filling tasted great before I baked it, so I’m hoping it’s awesome…I’ve include the recipe link below.  I used a regular crust, not the one in the recipe).  Add some wine and we’re all set! Here’s hoping they enjoy it. 🙂



The Dinner Party (1995) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0251667/