Tag Archives: vegan

“Easy as Pie” Spanakopita


As many of you know, I had to take a two-week break from any kind of cooking while my family relocated to a new kitchen- I mean house.  When we FINALLY unpacked the new kitchen, we had gained a collective 20 lbs from 2 weeks of restaurant eating, and we were in desperate need of something easy and nutrient dense.  So wah-la!  This tasty pie is packed with TWO POUNDS of spinach (that makes up for 14 days without any greens, right?), three eggs for protein, nutritional yeast for some veggie B-vitamins, and is made with spray oil- making it easy AND lower in fat than your traditional pastry. 
Afraid of Filo?  I was too, until I worked with it using Pam instead of the basting brush and oil method.  Try it once and you will no longer be intimidated!
To make this dairy-free, substitute crumbled tofu for the feta and add salt or Tamari as needed for flavor.


Make Ahead and Make it Easy

This dish can be made ahead in two ways.  You can make the whole thing, bake it for 30 minutes and freeze.  When it’s dinner time take it out of the freezer and bake it again for about 45-60 minutes.
Or, you can make the filling a few days ahead and when you are ready to finish the dish just throw the filling in the dish with the filo and bake.
  • 8 sheets filo pastry, defrosted 2 hours at room temp or 8 hours in the fridge (do not open the package, just defrost the whole packet)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8 scallions, chopped
  • 2 lbs fresh spinach, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 6 oz feta or tofu, crumbled
  • 3 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Spray cooking oil (such as Pam)

How to make it

  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. Heat oil in a large dutch oven or pot and saute scallions for 2 minutes.
  3. Add spinach to pot, stir, and cover.  Lower heat to medium-low and let cook for 10 minutes until wilted.  This will look like a LOT of spinach and it is- but it will reduce in volume by 90%.
  4. While the spinach is cooking, beat the eggs and dill in a separate large bowl.
  5. Add the feta or tofu to the egg mixture and stir in the nutritional yeast.  Add salt and pepper (if you are using feta beware it is already salty).
  6. When the spinach is done, drain it for a couple of minutes in a colander and then add it to the egg mixture and stir it up.
  7. Spray a 10-inch pie dish with the cooking spray.
  8. Open the filo, unroll it, and pull of one sheet.  Place it in the dish with the edges overhanging and lightly spry with oil.  Dont worry if you accidentally get two sheets stuck together, or if it tears.  Filo is VERY forgiving.
  9. Repeat until there are 4 layers of filo in the dish.
  10. Spread the spinach mixture into the dish, and top with 4 more layers of filo and spray.
  11. Cut around the edges of the filo as you like and roll the edges up into the dish.
  12. Bake for 45 minutes and enjoy!

Protein-Packed Lemony Chard Stuffed Shells

If you are a vegetarian you no doubt get asked all the time by [mostly] well meaning omnivores  “how do you get enough protein?” The more nutritionally-aware may even ask you about your iron intake.  This dish has all the answers.  It is made with crumbled tofu instead of riccota (you’ll never miss the cheese I promise) and the iron in the chard is made absorbable by the vitamin C in the lemon- making this recipe both delicious AND functional!

One of my favorite cookbook authors of all time is Robin Robertson- this recipe is out of One Dish Vegetarian Meals.  While just about every recipe in the book (and all of her books) is delicious, I have not found any of them to be doable with one dish.  But this one is worth it- easy, summery, light.  Since there is no ricotta it leaves you full, but not feeling like you ate a brick.  And the amount of chard you can fit in there is amazing!  It’s a great dish to just keep a tray of in the freezer for unexpected company. 

Oh- and between you and me, I can’t even count the number of tofu-haters that have gobbled this dish up and asked for seconds.  It is a GREAT way to get more protein into your family’s diet, especially if you are vegetarians.

To make it vegan simply omit the parmesan cheese.

 Make Ahead and Make it Easy
Cook up the filling, stuff the shells and place the pan in the fridge until you are ready to bake it- add the sauce before baking.  Or, assemble everything (sauce included) and freeze it til you are ready to eat it!  If frozen, double the cooking time.
  • 1/2 box jumbo shells, cooked al dente
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch chard, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 1 block firm tofu, drained and blotted dry
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (omit to make vegan)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 16 oz jar of your favorite “red” pasta sauce

How to make it

  1. Cook the shells until they are about one minute shy of being “done.”  Remove them and run under cold water.
  2. Heat oven to 350.
  3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the shallots for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms and saute another 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chard, cover, and cook for about 3 more minutes.  Turn off the heat.
  6. In a large bowl crumble the tofu in your hands until it resembles ricotta cheese.
  7. Stir in the parmesan (if using), lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
  8. Add the chard mixture and mix well.
  9. Using a teaspoon fill each shell and place it in a 9×13 baking dish.  continue until you’re out of shells or the pan is full, and sprinkle any leftover chard mixture over the shells.
  10. Pour sauce over the shells and bake for 30 minutes.

Adapted From One Dish Vegetarian Meals by Robin Robertson

Poblano and White Bean Chili

Back in October 2010, Vegetarian Times ran a feature on the Poblano pepper.  I swear, every recipe in that aricle was to die for.  This was one of my favorites.  I’m not gonna lie- it is not a quick fix.  But it is a great candidate for prepping on a lazy weekend afternoon and throwing together after work, so check out the “Make Ahead and Make It Easy” tips!

Poblanos are high in vitamin C and low in calories and their flavor is perfect- a bit of kick but never too much spice.  White beans add fiber and protein.  Serve this over rice or with some tasty cornbread to sop it all up! 

To make it vegan simply omit the goat cheese.

 Make Ahead and Make it Easy
 Though this recipe has a lot of steps there are a lot of them that can be done a few days early.  You can roast the peppers in advace and get them ready.  You can do everything through step 6 early and keep the chili in a container in the fridge for reheating.  I think this tastes even better after a day or two!
  • 6 poblano peppers
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  •  2 15.5-oz. cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbs lime juice
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

How to make it

  1. Turn on your broiler and place the poblanos within a few inches of the heat.  Rotate them every 5 minutes or so until they are nicely charred.
  2. Take them out and place them in a plastic bag tied shut.  This will allow them to steam and the skin will come off easier.
  3. Once the poblanos are cool, peel off the skin, remove the seeds and stems, and cut them into strips.
  4. Heat 2 tsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until onion is soft. Add garlic, oregano and poblano strips, and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  5. Add beans, broth, remaining oregano and cumin to skillet and simmer over medium heat. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir in corn, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook 2 minutes more.
  7. Warm milk in separate saucepan. Add goat cheese, and stir until smooth. Serve chili garnished with goat cheese sauce, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro.

Flipper Approved Chickpea “Tuna” Salad

This is a great one for when you are super unmotivated but find yourself with a family to feed.   Or superunmotivated with just yourself to feed.  Either way, it will take you about 10 minutes to throw together and my unscientific uncontrolled studies have shown than 100% of tuna-eaters find this to be a great substitution (without Flipper’s friends on your conscience).  I invented it while on a 3 week vegan, gluten-free, animal-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free cleanse (don’t ask).
My kid likes this, my omnivorous huband likes this, even my dog likes this.  Mash it together, throw it on some bread on in a bowl of lettuce and you’ve got yourself a nutritious meal packed with calcium, iron, fiber, B vitamins, and protein.

 Make Ahead and Make it Easy

 There isn’t much you can do to make this recipe easier.  Whip up a batch and use it in sandwiches for work and school.  r, make a tuna melt and enjoy with a bowl of soup.
  • 2 14 oz cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup vegan or regular mayonaise
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1.5 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs red onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

How to make it

  1. Place the chickpeas in a bowl with the mayo and smash with a potato masher or a fork.  You will be very effective at this if you’ve had a long day at work or your kid is screaming in the background.
  2. Once the texture is to your liking, add in all the other ingredients, adjust the flavor as  needed, and you’re done.  See?  I told you it was easy.

Sesame Ginger Bok Choy with Tofu


When researching interesting facts about bok choy (which, incidentally, is a member of the cabbage family), I learned that in Chinese medicine bok choy is considered to have a cold energy, and it should always be served with something with a hot energy- such as ginger.  Well, I don’t know about the medicinal effects of this meal, but I do know it looks darn pretty and tastes fantastic.
Bok Choy has all the benefits of a leafy green- calcium, magnesium, Vitamins A, C, Folate.  Ginger tastes fantastic and is great for digestion.  Indian traditional medicine believes sesame oil to be calming.  So basically what I’m telling you is that this dish will make you feel GOOD.
If you aren’t familiar with the technique of pressing tofu, it is worth doing so before cooking this dish.  It allows it to absorb all the flavors better.  And fry the tofu low and slow- that’s the secret to getting a good texture out of it like they do in restaurants. 


Make Ahead and Make it Easy

If you do a little bit of prep work a few days beforehand, this turns out to be an amazingly easy and impressive recipe to throw together in about 10 minutes (plus cooking the rice- if you don’t have a rice cooker then get one!).
First, press the tofu and cook it up good and crispy on your “prep day,” or when the kids are napping, or when you are enjoying a glass of wine after dinner the night before.  Once it is nice and golden store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
You should also wash and chop the bok choy.  BAM.  You are a cooking machine!
Then make the sauce but do not add the cornstarch until right before you use it, or it will get jelly-like.  Store the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge.  I always put the box of cornstarch on top of the sauce in the fridge so I dont forget to whisk it in before use.
Finally, making rice in big batches ahead of time is a swell idea because rice freezes well.  To re-heat it just pop it in an airtight container with a bit of water and nuke it.
  • 1 lb firm tofu pressed, dried, and cut into your favorite shape (I like triangles.  They taste sooo good)
  • 2 Tbs high heat oil (peanut or grapeseed)
  • 4 Tbs ginger, chopped (I cheat and buy chopped ginger in a jar)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb bok choy, leaves and stems washed and chopped (chop off the stubby end but the stems are great)
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth
  • 2 tsp Sherry or rice-wine
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • steamed rice

How to make it

  1. Heat 1 Tbs of oil in a large skillet and add the tofu.  Cook on medium heat until golden underneah- about 10 minutes.  Then flip it and repeat.  Its best not to stir too much or it’ll get crumbly.  Remove tofu and set aside.
  2. While tofu is cooking, whisk together broth, sherry, soy sauce, sugar , salt, and cornstarch in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved.
  3. Heat remaining 1 Tbs oil . Add ginger and garlic and stir for 5 seconds. Add bok choy and stir until leaves begin to wilt- justt a minute or two.
  4.  Pour the sauce over the bok choy and cook for about another minute.
  5. Add the tofu and let it get warm.
  6.  Remove from heat, drizzle with sesame oil.  Serve over rice topped with sesame seeds  

Adapted from Gourmet; December 2004

“Choose Your Own Adventure” Granola


“Breakfast cereals rank third in the list of grocery store items on which Americans spend their money, behind only carbonated beverages and milk…” The Breakfast Cereal Gourmet
We all know how expensive breakfast cereals are at the store.  And we all know how much added sugar many of them contain.  But with just one recipe you can turn your nose up to the cereal industry, have endless breakfast possibilities, and continue down the path to good health that you and your family deserve.
This recipe, as the name implies, is flexible.  Add what you like, mix n’ match, and come up with your own fancy pants varieties at a fraction of the price of grocery granola.  It’s a great one to make with kids because it allows them to “choose their own adventure” and an empowered kid is a happy kid.
The foundation is rolled oats- which have been proven to reduce cholesterol, ward off breast cancer (due to high fiber content), and even reduce childhood asthma symptoms!  One cup of oats has more protein that most veggie burgers AND it is tolerated by many gluten-free friends!

Make Ahead and Make it Easy

 If stored in an air tight container this granola will last for a week or more- in the fridge it will stay fresh for- well, I don’t know how long, but long enough for you to finish it all!
  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups unsalted nuts or seeds in any combination: sliced almonds, cashews, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut (if you can’t find unsweetened just lower the sweetener amount later by a few Tbs)
  • OPTIONAL: 1 tsp cinnamon
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 tsp additional spice: nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, ginger, etc.)
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup heathy adder: wheat germ, ground flax-seed
  • 1/2 cup honey, agave, brown rice syrup or maple syrup
  • 1-3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • OPTIONAL 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup neutral tasting oil (I use corn but I think coconut would be yummy)
  • 1 cup your favorite dried fruit or other sweet treat that doesn’t like the oven: blueberries, yogurt-raisins, cranberries, raisins, cherries, M&Ms (trail mix, anyone?) apples, candied ginger, pineapple, apricots, you name it!

How to make it

  1. Heat oven to 300F.
  2. In a large jellyroll pan (or roasting pan- anything with an edge to prevent spillage) combine oats, nuts, coconut, spices, and healthy adder if using.
  3. In a small saucepan heat syrup, vanilla, salt, sugar, and oil over medium heat until dissolved.
  4. Pour mixture over oats and stir.
  5. Bake the granola, stirring every 10-15 minutes for 40-60 minutes until it’s as golden brown as you like.
  6. Remove from oven and stir in the dried fruit.  Allow to cool before storing.