Powie! Pesto Pasta

4 Sep


I have my garden in pots on my deck this year which is wonderful because I take better care of them when I see them all the time!  I have dino kale and curly kale, fennel, collards, swiss chard, parsley, basil, dill, oregano, three kinds of cherry tomatoes and jalapenos.  My basil plants were calling out to me “eat me, eat me, can’t you see I’m ready?”  Which only means one thing to me…..PESTO!  In previous years, I have always run out of basil before the growing season is over.  This year I made sure to plant plenty, which as it turns out is 8 plants.  I haven’t run out yet!  I’m leaving on a three week trip mid-month so I think I may need to make more pesto to freeze before I leave.  Can’t let delicious fresh basil go to waste!

I’ve been using this kind of brown-rice pasta lately and I’m loving it!  I added some lightly steamed broccoli on top and I had a gorgeous green meal.

Note to self:  Although you like to use the whole recipe on a pound of spaghetti, your sweet husband likes less pesto on his pasta  (more for me!).

This recipe is based on an oil-free vegan pesto you can find here.  I tweaked it ever so gently.

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil (go ahead and pack it in!)

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup pine nuts

juice of 1/2 medium lemon

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/3 cup water

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients except salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Process until smooth and season with sea salt and pepper as desired.


Lentil Soup with Eggplant and Mushrooms

2 Sep

After our 14 hour mega-marathon drive home from upstate NY yesterday, I woke up with a scratchy throat.  I don’t know about you but my scratchy throat was crying out for some soothing soup. So after a trip to People’s Food Co-op and Trader Joe’s, I started chopping. I decided to use The China Study Cookbook‘s Lentil Soup as my base and then add more vegetables. I had been craving mushrooms and eggplant for a while and this really satisfied.  This soup has no oils, nuts, soy or gluten,  Just pure veggie/lentil goodness!

Lentil Soup with Eggplant and Mushrooms

1 medium onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 cup scallions, chopped

juice of 1/2 lemon

6 cups water and 2 tablespoons  vegetable Better Than Bouillon paste or 6 cups vegetable broth

1 cup lentils (brown, green or black, not red)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 8 ounce package baby Bella mushrooms, sliced

1 medium eggplant, chopped into 1″ cubes

In a large soup pot, saute onion, celery, carrots and garlic in 1/2 cup water over medium-high heat until soft.  Add curry powder and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add 6 cups water and Better Than Bouillon, stirring to dissolve.  Add lentils, scallions, nutritional yeast, lemon, red pepper flakes, black pepper, eggplant and mushrooms.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

(The Better Than Bouillon is salty so taste first before you add extra salt)

Vegan Travel-Lake George and Saratoga Springs, NY

1 Sep


I’m on the road as I write my first post for Vegan MoFo 2013. We are heading back to Michigan after a week in Bolton Landing on the western shores of Lake George, NY. Wow, Lake George is stunning! Forty-four miles long and surrounded by the Adirondack Hills, oh my!
It was challenging in this area to find vegan options eating out at restaurants. Some places had the standard portobello mushroom or black bean burger or you could get the typical pasta with marinara sauce but after one meal, how boring! We ended up making several of our own meals and always had breakfast at home.
As someone who loves to travel I have become quite adept at making things work wherever I am….so if I’m going to a restaurant I call ahead and talk with them about options and let them know to expect me. If I don’t do that, I just kindly make requests for changes or adjustments of the menu. I have found most restaurants to be gracious and accommodating and I hear frequently from them that they get requests for vegan options more and more. YIPPEE! That means we’re making headway!

Nevertheless, here are some highlights:

1. Our 4 hour boat tour of Lake George on the Mohican! The captain provides great historical information and the bartender makes amazing Bloody Mary’s. No vegan food available, we brought our own fruit and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s so soothing to be on the most gorgeous of lakes! Highly recommend this tour!
2. Sitting outside on the deck at The Sagamore Resort. There is no view better than this in Lake George! I could have sat there forever soaking up the view. There is nothing vegan on the menu but we ordered the veggie flatbread without the cheese. It was delicious! Drinks and snacks and the most incredible view! Highly recommended!
3. Vegan options at Skidmore College-Saratoga Springs-we moved our daughter in on Wednesday and in the last few days already the chefs have introduced themselves, know she’s vegan and have told her they can make anything she wants. The food selection in the cafeteria already includes a vegan/vegetarian section called Emily’s Garden.
4. Four Seasons Natural Foods Store-place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Small cafe attached to a small grocery store. Everything at the cafe is vegan and delicious!

Nikki’s Healthy (and oh so delicious) Cookie Recipe

29 Oct

Well, I guess I just wasn’t meant to post 20 times this month for Vegan MoFo.  I had the flu and then a week later, benign positional vertigo.  Both of these forced me to lay still, cancel my days and breathe through it with hopes it wouldn’t last long.  Neither malady lasted longer than a week, but that’s a long time and lot’s of posting days missed!

Heidi Swanson writes at 101cookbooks.com  and she is one of the blogs I follow on a regular basis. She’s also written cookbooks, is a fabulous photographer and world traveler.  She’s not vegan but primarily vegetarian and posts many plant based recipes.   These cookies looked so delicious I had to make them.  Unfortunately, my camera failed me so I have no picture.  Check out Heidi’s picture here.  You know how sometimes things look way better than they taste?  Not these.  They are so yummy.  My husband and I have been rationing them over the last week to make them last.  I think I may be making another batch very soon.  These are definitely a winner!

Nikki’s Healthy Cookie Recipe

3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)

1  teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm-so it’s liquid

2 cups rolled oats

2/3 cup almond meal

1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded and unsweetened

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

6-7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the top third.

In a large bowl, combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil.  Set aside.  In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  The dough is a bit looser than standard cookie dough.  Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.  Bake as long as possible without burning the bottoms.

Makes about 3 dozen bite-sized cookies.

Eating Vegan in Tampa

20 Oct

Jim and I are here visiting family and last night we went to the Cinebistro. What a cool idea this is! Big comfortable seats to lounge in while dining, drinking and watching a feature film!
It was very fun!
My sister-in-law had sent the menu to us ahead of time for approval since she and her husband are omnivores. There were some salad possibilities sans cheese but instead I thought I’d write the restaurant and ask them if they could suggest any vegan options on their menu. Chef Jason responded quite quickly saying although they didn’t have anything vegan on their menu, he’d be happy to make me something if I would tell him what I like. I was so appreciative of his willingness to accommodate me. I told him I love everything except okra. He created a vine ripened tomato stuffed with roasted veggies and quinoa with a portabello mushroom sauce. It was so delicious!!!! Unfortunately, the lights were already out for the movie to begin so I didn’t get a picture!
Trust me it was good. And so was Argo, the movie we saw!

Try calling or writing ahead next time you’re going to a restaurant without obvious vegan options. The chef is usually happy to let his creativity flow and make you something.


Broccoli and Gardein Beefless Tips Stir Fry

16 Oct

Vegan MoFo Post number 8!  I had just a little bit of time to throw a meal together and wanted to clean my refrigerator by using up everything in there.  I looked in my fridge and found fresh broccoli from the Farmer’s Market and fresh button mushrooms.  I found Gardein Beefless Tips in my freezer.  Perfect.  I got out my wok and made a delicious stir fry.  I also made some whole wheat couscous as I didn’t have time to cook brown rice and didn’t feel like quinoa, which is also relatively quick cooking.

I don’t know if you’ve tried any of the Gardein products but they are fantastic.  Their meatless burger is the best vegan burger I’ve had, except when I’m in the mood for a homemade bean burger!  These Beefless tips just needed a bit of browning before throwing together with the stir fry.  I used very little oil, some no chicken broth, some soy sauce, some hoisin sauce, garlic and crushed red pepper.  Deelicious!

Give Gardein a try!

“I Don’t Want to Know”

15 Oct

What does it mean when someone says “I don’t want to know” when it comes to being aware of where their meat comes from?  Does it mean “I don’t want to think about it because if I did meat might not taste so good to me anymore”?  Perhaps it means “I don’t want to have the visual of the reality of where my meat comes from in my head because it may ruin my enjoyable experience of eating it”.  In any case, I think it may mean “I don’t want to know because I think it may be horrifying and I don’t want to have uncomfortable feelings about what I’m doing”. I’m sure there are other possibilities also.  After all, many people don’t want to know the truth about other choices they’re making either.

As a Life Coach, my clients come to me with a desire to make positive changes in some aspect of their lives.  As they define what keeps them stuck, one of the questions I ask  is “What are you not facing about this issue?”  Choosing to turn towards and face the whole truth about whatever the issue is invites them to open their heart and mind to know all the relevant information and fully own it.  It allows them to fully see that they can know the whole truth in this moment and that they are strong and solid enough to know the truth.  And then they get to make a choice about what they want to do with their knowing.

It’s the same thing with choosing what you eat also.  Conscious living includes conscious eating and can only be done with an openness and willingness to know the whole truth about where your food comes from.