30 June 2010

Veganism and the Archives

As you may or may not know, I have recently converted to a vegan diet (no dairy, no meat, no animal products whatsoever).  I will be leaving my omnivore archives open as some people still visit them, but for the foreseeable future, I will only be posting new vegan recipes.  I'm not here to convert anyone or make anyone feel bad about their choices, I'm only here to share great recipes that I love. 

I really love this way of eating.  It makes my body happy, energized, and healthier than its been in quite some time.  I'm hoping this doesn't dissuade you from returning to this page, and if it does, I'm sad to see you go.  This is just another step in the adventure of my life and I'm glad I can share it with everyone.  

28 June 2010

Pesto Pasta with Toasted Walnuts

June 27, 2010

I love basil. A lot. My two small basil plants have been flourishing this summer, and I was feeling inspired. So, I chopped almost all of the leaves off and decided to make some pesto. I had never before made pesto, but it turned out really tasty...even the somewhat picky husband couldn't quit dipping bits of baguette into it. I sliced my baguette into little rounds, brushed a dab of extra virgin olive oil on each slice, then sprinkled some garlic salt on top. Then I baked them at 375 degrees F for about 10 minutes or so to crisp them up into little garlic toasts. They go perfectly with the pesto pasta!
I didn't have a ton of basil, probably only about 2 cups of whole leaves, so this recipe doesn't make a big portion. I also gave up dairy recently, so I didn't use any parm cheese, which is traditional for this dish. As one last little note, I don't like pine nuts, so I substituted walnuts instead.

Here's the Recipe: (serves 2 as a main dish)


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup walnuts for pesto (more if you're going to garnish your plate with them)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (mine was extra juicy, so you may need a whole lemon's juices)
  • 1-2 TB extra virgin olive oil (add more if you want. I was trying to keep it lighter in calories)
  • 3 cloves garlic, skins removed but kept whole
  • salt to your tastes
  • 4 oz. pasta of your choice (I used penne)


  1. In a small pot, boil some salted water, then add your pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, place your walnuts into a skillet. Place skillet on medium heat, stirring often for about 6-9 minutes. Remove from heat when you start to smell the nuts toasting (careful not to burn them).
  3. Place the basil, walnuts, garlic cloves, olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor and whir until there are very little pieces remaining. I like some texture to my pesto. You may need to stop and scrape the sides down and whir some more to ensure there are no large chunks of garlic remaining. No one wants to bite into a big hunk of raw garlic.
  4. Add the salt and whir once more.
  5. Drain your pasta and return to pot. I added about 3/4 of the pesto to the pot and stirred well, coating all of the noodles.  I actually turned the burner on low for a few minutes to gently heat the pesto.
  6. The other 1/4 of the pesto is excellent for dipping your little garlic toasts into...or just add it to your pasta.

26 June 2010

Crunchy Kale Chips

I've done it.  I jumped on the kale chip bandwagon.  I like kale, yes, even raw.  So, I decided I had to try out the baked kale chips everyone seems to rave about.  And, let me tell you, I was not disappointed.  They are crispy and delicious.  I ate half a bunch of kale chips with my lunch today.  They made a simple, healthy replacement for my beloved potato chip.  I literally couldn't stop munching them until I saw that nearly 2/3 of a bunch of kale was gone.  Even the skeptical husband ate some.  He liked the taste, but said the texture was "like eating paper," and it weirded him out.  Regardless, you can add any combo of spices and I think they'll probably still turn out deliciously.  For the first half bunch, I used garlic salt.  For the second half, I used garlic salt and some chili powder.  Both were wicked tasty.   Who ever would have thought that greens could be so delicious?

Here's My Version:
  • 1 bunch kale (I used curly kale)
  • Olive oil (I actually used my olive oil cooking spray as it was less messy and quicker)
  • Spices of your choice, but you will want salt at least

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees f.  Get 2 baking sheets out and cover with parchment or cook directly on the sheet pan.
  2. Remove stems from kale and discard.  The easiest way, is to hold the stem in one hand and slide your fingers (of the other hand) up the stem, removing the curly leaf as you go.  Tear into 3-4 inch pieces.
  3. Wash your kale really well.  Mine had lots of grit/sand stuck on it.  Then, be sure to dry the pieces well with paper towel.
  4. Lay the pieces out on your baking sheets, try not to overlap much or they will not crisp up.** 
  5. Spray a light layer of your olive oil spray over the pieces to lightly coat them.  Then sprinkle your spices on top.
  6. Bake each tray about 10-12 minutes, testing their crunchiness occasionally.  You'll want them crispy, and lightly browned. 
**If you are using regular olive oil, place your kale pieces into a large bowl.  Drizzle 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil over the leaves.  Then, using your fingers, massage the oil onto the pieces until each is lightly coated with the oil.  Then place the pieces on the baking sheet and spice them up.

21 June 2010

Smoky Black Bean Soup (Vegan)

Okay, so I'm hooked on a relatively new food blog called VeganPiggy, which has some really great recipes. And, the proprietors are super friendly! Anyway, I found a version of this recipe on their website, and I just HAD to make it. It turned out really, really well. And, I highly suggest using a smoked paprika instead of just regular paprika. This gives the soup a lovely smoky flavor that really complements the black beans nicely. I also LOVE using some tortilla chips instead of crackers with black bean soups for a bit of a southwestern flair. This recipe makes a ton of soup, which is good for me since I love leftover soups, and I also love to share my food with friends. I think the only thing I would change next time I make this soup is to add some fresh corn. Well, on to the recipe!!

Here's My Version: (serves 4-6 as a main course)


  • 4 cans organic black beans, including their juices
  • 1/2 can organic diced tomatoes and its juice
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 4 ounces fresh cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 medium-sized basil leave, chopped (you could use any fresh herbs you like or omit them altogether)
  • 1 cup organic vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to your liking


  1. Heat your oil in your stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, garlic, and onion, and saute for about 6 minutes (until the carrots have softened somewhat and the onion is translucent.
  2. While the veg is sauteeing, use a food processor to puree 2 cans of the beans and 1/2 of the tomatoes.
  3. When the veg is done ready, add in the vegetable stock, mushrooms, pureed beans, the rest of the whole beans, the herbs of your choice and the spices, including salt/pepper. You can make the soup spicier by adding more chili poweder, cumin and some cayenne if you want. Stir well.
  4. Bring soup to a boil (about 6-7 minutes), then turn heat to low and simmer for another 15-20 minutes or more. If you like it soupier/runnier, add more vegetable stock and cover with a lid. I like mine somewhat thick, so I leave the lid off to cook down some of the liquid. Be sure to stir the soup every few minutes so no beans burn to the bottom of your pot.
  5. Serve with some garlic bread or tortilla chips and enjoy!!

18 June 2010

Veggie Chili

To make up for my extended absence, I have decided to share with you my very favorite chili recipe ever. Just use it as a basic guideline, because this chili turns out great no matter what you have on-hand. It turns out slightly different every time I make it, based on what I have available in my fridge and pantry when I whip it up. This recipe is 100% vegan, although the picture shows cheese (I forgot to take a picture of the chili before I served it up to the hubby--he loves cheese). There is virtually no fat in this chili, but it is packed with loads of fiber and protein from the beans and TONS of flavor!

Some helpful hints for this recipe:

  • I like to rinse my black beans, northern beans, and corn well using a strainer over my sink. This removes a lot of that unnecessary salt added in the canning process. If you LOVE salt, I suppose, just drain the liquids and don't rinse.
  • I prefer to use only 1 can of kidney beans. Just my preference. But, that can of kidney beans is nearly always the Bush's Chili-Ready beans in a medium sauce. I put the whole can and juice into the crockpot.
  • Use fresh corn cut from the cob when you have it. It gives a great taste. otherwise, use a small can of corn, rinsed well in a strainer.
  • Be adventurous and add whatever veggies you have in your fridge. I usually make this when I have some unused veg about to buy the farm.
  • My top secret weapon of choice is a very tiny pinch of cinnamon added in the last 20 minutes of cooking.
  • I use a crockpot to make mine, but if you don't have one, just use a dutch oven or stock pot on your stove over a medium-low heat.

Here's the Basic Starter Recipe:


  • 1 can diced tomatoes in chili-ready sauce (I like the Red Gold brand)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 can Northern beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 can chili-ready kidney beans in a medium spicy sauce
  • 1 ear of fresh corn, kernels cut from cob (or 1 small can of rinsed corn)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 - 3/4 bell pepper (I prefer the orange or yellow), ribbed seeded and diced
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • The following spices in whatever amounts you prefer: garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt
  • Miniscule dash of cinnamon...I probably used 1/16th of a tsp. A little goes a really long way.


  1. Heat your crock pot to high. Add your corn, Northern beans, black beans, tomatoes, and kidney beans. Stir well. Cover.
  2. In a small skillet, heat olive oil over med-high heat. Once hot, add bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic. Stir every minute or two until the veggies are soft and onions transparent.
  3. Add your onion mixture to the crockpot and stir well.
  4. I add my spices after the veggies and beans are heated well (about 30 minutes) so its easier to get a real feel for how your chili is going to taste. I add the spices just a bit at a time until the taste is exactly what I want. Then, put the lid on and cook another 30-40 minutes. You can stop there, or cook longer. I usually cook mine about 2 hours so the sauce is thicker and the flavors are well blended, stirring about every 30 minutes and taking tastes to see if I need to add anything. In the last 20-30 minutes I add in my cinnamon. Just a personal preference, but it always seems to taste better to me when I add it in the end.
  5. If you're into cheese, add some cheddar to the bowl when serving. I, personally, like to just add a few oyster crackers and forego the cheese. I also add a small handful of fresh diced onion to my bowl and stir it in when I'm about to eat. It's just something I grew up on and I LOVE onion. Well, enjoy!