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Showing posts from February, 2012

Low Fat, Vegan, Spicy Senegalese Peanut Soup

I had the most amazing vegan soup at Revolutionary Soup the other week.  I haven't stopped thinking about how delicious it was... and that was two weeks ago.  I wondered if I could come up with something similar on my own.  I scoured the web and found some delicious looking recipes but none of them were quite right.  I ended up having to play around quite a bit.

While experimenting, I tried versions with lite coconut milk.  I figured if it worked, I'd then work on finding a lower fat alternative but it really didn't add much at all to the dish.  I ended up omitting it all together.  By contrast, the curry powder was absolutely critical.  It added incredible depth to the soup.  I used Tandoori seasoning (my favorite curry powder blend by Penzey's).

I was able to reduce the fat in this dish quite a bit by using PB2 in lieu of full fat peanut butter.  Powdered peanut butter has all of the flavor of peanut butter but 85% less fat.  You can find it at the link I provided or…

On our way to healthy - End of the 28 day Challenge

So I finished the plant strong challenge on Wednesday.  Prior to this challenge I thought I was doing everything right, eating a low fat diet and exercising 5 hours a week.  I filled my plate at night 1/2 full of veggies, literally.  I lost 24 pounds, a.k.a. all my baby weight, and yet I still had crazy high blood pressure.  I couldn't believe I still had high blood pressure (160's/100's).  It was supposed to come down when I lost the baby weight.

Anyway, I know God gives us these signs for a reason and I prayed for resolution.  As you know a friend of mine had heard a lecture on a plant-based diet and its healing affects on the body in regards to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.  So after some research, I figured I'd give this vegan thing a go even though I was very skeptical.  I lost 6 pounds through the 28 day trial process.  I believe a good deal of that was water from a lower sodium intake and an increase in potassium from all the veggies.   I'…

Slow Rise, Vegan, Low Fat, Waffle Recipe (improved with lower sodium!)

OK, so I think I cracked the code for a low fat, vegan, low salt waffle.  I scoured the web and couldn't fine one that fit all those crazy requirements so I had to come up with one on my own.  I think you'll be happy with the results!

These waffles are a little crispy out of the waffle maker but if you are a super crispy waffle fan just give 'em a quick toast in the toaster oven once they're done.  We like them as-is.


3 cups whole wheat flour (you can use pastry flour)
3 1/4 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 TB sugar (this is needed for yeast to feed, you can try turbinado but I didn't)
1 TB agave nectar
2 1/4 cup non dairy milk (we use almond milk)
1 cup warm water (you can use more almond milk but this will raise sodium content)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 Energ-g Egg prepared (i.e. 2 1/3 tsp mixed with 3 TB water)


In a large bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients, then add the wet and mix just until combined.  Allow it to rise in your fridge overnight.  Remo…

Vegan Stuffed Pockets Healthified

I made a modified version of these DIY pockets from Chow Vegan today for lunch for the family.  My husband is kind of hooked on lean pepperoni pockets and if this is how I have to entice him to the herbie side, that's what I'll do.

I healthified the Chow vegan version by switching a few ingredients, namely by using only whole wheat flour, eliminating the oil completely, and reducing the salt.  They came out great.  They definitely aren't the old kind of pockets, but they are good and a joy to eat.

Vegan Stuffed Pockets Healthified
(makes 6 pockets)

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 TB baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar or other unprocessed sugar
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
3 TB alternative milk
3/4 cup water
3 TB cornmeal for rolling
additional alternative milk to brush on top at the end
your favorite salt free seasoning mix for top (I used a garlic blend)

Slow Rise Vegan Pancakes

I used to think my old pancake recipe was pretty awesome but when I examined the nutritional information in reference to my new guidelines, I discovered the salt was really out of control.  Baking powder and baking soda both contain sodium.  So, I went on a hunt to figure a new recipe out.

I found a good recipe with some good bones here.  Then, I made a few simple engine 2 modifications to make them healthier.  I'm so happy.  These were so good!

Some of the Engine 2 modifications I made include, replacing the white flour with 100% whole wheat, replacing the oil with applesauce, halving the salt (I might even quarter it next time), and thinning them out with some water.  These were so delicious and guilt free too!  Be sure to pile on the fruit and maybe limit the syrup.

I have 5 hungry people in my family so this makes a lot.  Overall we felt they could have been thinned out a little more.  We had already thinned them out a bit from the original recipe as evidenced below.

Slow Rise …

Three Weeks Plant Strong

We are 3 weeks plant strong and I think we are finally getting a hang of this.  My BP is hovering around 114/70.  It's awesome.  I was in the 130's/upper 90's on bottom when I started.  It feels like magic.

I've been doing my supper recipe planning and it's been kind of a breeze of late.  I'm getting comfortable with the ways of vegan cookery.   I've learned you can make a veggie burger out of just about any veggie you love.  Today I made one out of sweet potatoes and beans!  I was going to add quinoa but I chickened out at the last minute and went with a more straight forward recipe.  Next time, I'll add it.  I was inspired by several different recipes all over the web and I combined a few to make the recipe below.  They came out great!  Nick told me I should make them again.  
I would like to encourage anyone to try a recipe or two on the web to get a feel for veggie burgers  and then get creative and try your hand at it using the tastes and spices you…

Big Weekend Breakfast

It's 3 weeks into the challenge and I'm making a VERY adapted recipe of slow rise yeast pancakes I found on Vegan Yum Yum.

For the first time ever, I'll be using this beautiful product; Ener-G Egg Replacer.  Isn't it funny that this product hasn't updated it's box since what appears to be the 70's?

I'll let you know if it works out.  Among the many modifications, I'm using only whole wheat flour, I cut the salt in half, replaced the oil with applesauce and added some liquid.  I'll let you know if it works out.  You have to start somewhere!

Valentine's Day - Vegan Butter Bean (or any white bean) Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made chocolate chip cookies for my valentine and I made them out of white beans. Yep!  Beans.  I did.  And they were crazy good right out of the oven.  I got the recipe here.

They were moist, delicious, and sweet but not sickeningly sweet.  I love chocolate chip cookies but I hate how they give me an awful feeling afterward.  You won't with these, I promise.  I will say the only down side of this recipe is that they do change in texture over time (they get dry) so they really are best eaten right away.  Trust me on these.  Give them a try!

Note:  I couldn't find any no salt added white beans (I used white northern beans) so I read about a method to reduce the sodium.  I first drained the can of beans and rinsed them reserving the liquid as requested in the recipe.  Then I put the beans in a large container of fresh water and soaked them over night.  I drained and rinsed them again and proceeded per the recipe.  I tasted the beans before and after soaking and it did seem that…

Meatless dinners: Portabello Burgers

Wow, these were delicious and there is no recipe.  I basically took 4 portabellos, rinsed and patted them dry, de-stemmed them and sprinkled on some vegan steak sauce.  Then, I threw the mushrooms gill side up in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.  I took the stems, a half of an onion, and a chopped bell pepper and threw them in a pan.  I sauteed with some water and towards the end I threw in a dash or two of steak sauce.  I assembled the burgers gill side up so they could hold all the extra veggies.  These were so, so, good!!!!  My tummy is so happy tonight!

My eldest daughter doesn't like mushrooms so I served her the "ground" mushroom burgers by Happy Herbivore we made a while back and had thrown in the freezer.  I just heated those up for her. She has no idea that the burgers are made of mushrooms and she devoured it.

I served these with some asparagus and roasted potatoes.

Meatless Dinners: Cheese-less Pizza

A friend of mine recently asked me for our pizza dough recipe and I though I would share the tips I've learned through the years along with the recipe.

Cheese-less pizza covered in veggies.  The sprinkling of "parmesan" on top is nutritional yeast.

Here are a few additional notes you'll want to keep in mind:

- Engine 2 modifications: I use all whole wheat, and none of the white. I also don't add oil and it still worked out just fine.  Just add a few tablespoons of water.We prefer all whole wheat and have been doing it that way for years.  If you are adjusting the family to whole wheat though, I would recommend you gradually change your ratios as the kids may rebel.

- You must NOT forget the sugar and hot tap water to activate the yeast. The sugar is imperative, so is the hot water.  You could try using turbinado if you are against processed sugars but I think, in this case, it's a tiny am…

Vegan Oatmeal Shakes

I made oatmeal shakes for breakfast this morning and boy were they YUM!!!   I found the recipe here.  I love the recipes on the "Vegan Stoner" Site because they are all base recipes with the idea that you can add your seasonings/flair to make it personal.  Most of the recipes look like they'd be easy to convert to Engine 2 standards.  Some recipes don't need any conversion at all as with the oat shakes.  Good STUFF!!

For my version I took 1/2 cup rolled oats and 1 cup water and I nuked the oatmeal until it was done.  Then I added the specified ingredients along with a very large dash or two of cinnamon and a tinsy bit of vanilla into the food processor (we don't own a blender) and mixed until done.  Next time I might add a few soaked walnuts.  Or maybe instead of the apple I'll add a cup or two of blueberries?  Or maybe some of those blackberries we picked last year that are still in the freezer?  The possibilities are endless.

Update - Added 2 cups of spina…

Meatless Dinners: Chef AJ's Disappearing Lasagna

I'm a solid two weeks into this new plant based challenge and there have been some hits and misses.  This one was a real big hit!  Ladybug asked for thirds.  This was delicious and probably my favorite thing I've tried thus far. Nick too.

Delicious dishes high in fat, sugar, and salt are easy to make.  It takes mad skills to make things this healthy this tasty and I am IMPRESSED by the creator of this recipe, Chef AJ.

Video presentation of Chef AJ's Disappearing Lasagna
If you'd like to see a written version of the recipe you can see it here.

My favorite part of this dish was the creamy "ricotta" and spinach layer.  Oh, WOW!  The cashews made this dish so creamy and flavorful.  I ALMOST got a guilty feeling.  The cool thing is that I was able to use the garden basil I froze last year in place of the fresh basil and it really came through.  Nothing beats the taste of "fresh" garden herbs in your pasta dishes.  YUM!

Now that I've tried the recipe …

Valentine's Weekend - Vegan Low Fat Whole Wheat Waffles

Oh. my. gosh.  These are so good!  These waffles make my heart sing with happiness!  We haven't had waffles on our family menu for a long, long, time.  Mainly because they are so high on calories.  Well, waffles are BACK my friend!  We haven't made homemade waffles in so long that when we pulled out the waffle maker, GreenEyes exclaimed, "No!  You're doing it wrong.  Waffles are made in the toaster!"

I did a nutritional analysis of our new low fat, whole wheat waffle recipe.  It looks good in every way except for one thing.  It is a higher sodium food being a "baked" item so you'll need to limit your portions and pile on the fruit to stay in check for your meal.  Unfortunately, most breads are like that.  The only way to reduce the sodium is maybe to do a slow rise yeast waffle or to use baking powder/baking soda substitutes.  You'd want to be careful using potassium substitutes though.  It is my understanding that too much potassium is bad for…

Plant Based Challenge

I've been tracking everything (every last morsel) of what I eat on Sparkpeole while I do this plant based challenge.  I thought the pie chart below (provided to me thanks to Sparkpeople) was very interesting.  They provide me with traditional recommendations I should try to aim for, calorie ranges, etc.  I used to pretty much naturally match Sparkpeople's recommendation regarding the percentages of carbs, proteins and fats.  Now, I don't.

I'm exceeding on my carbs and going under in fat and coming slightly under the minimum of protein requirements.  You'd expect being on so many carbs I'd be jittery and weird, but I'm not.  I am encouraged to eat as much as I want so I never have the jitters.  I have had issues with running but I'm convinced that the last few runs I was coming down with a nasty cold/laryngitis thing.  I'll be able to better assess how the lack of protein affects my running performance next week.  Unfortunately, now that my girl is i…

Healthier Vegan Brownies

I have a killer sweet tooth.  I could eat chocolate for every meal.  I envision heaven to be an everlasting cornucopia of chocolate.

I was so happy to find something that's delicious and chocolaty and still fits the new plan.  Like most of the new recipes I've been trying, it's a a Happy Herbivore one.  You can find the recipe here:

At first, I kinda didn't like the banana flavor but I have grown to love these.  Like, really love them!  As with any lifestyle change, it took some time for my taste-buds to come around.  But they have and wow, these are amazing!

I have two of these for breakfast sometimes with a side of fruit in lieu of a donut.

Nutrition Facts (1 serving = 1/9th of pan)
I used the extra 1/4 cup sugar in the form of xylitol and subbed maple syrup for the agave.
  Total Fat1.0 g
 Saturated Fat0.3 g
 Polyunsaturated Fat0.2 g
 Monounsaturated Fat0.2 g
  Cholesterol0.0 mg

Meatless Dinners: Low Fat Vegan Falafel with Fat Free Tzatziki Sauce

I did a bunch of research and looked at a million falafel recipes. I combined some recipes and made this baked version below. It was delicious and would be added onto our rotation even if not on the new low fat vegan plan. It feels very substantial and filling and the kids LOVED it! We loved the flavor of cilantro and garlic bursting through. (You can sub fresh parsley for cilantro if you aren't a fan.)

To make the Tzatziki sauce:
Throw the following ingredients in a food processor. Refrigerate for an hour. Done! This made way more than we needed.

Plain Soy Yogurt, 6 to 8 oz
1 Cucumber, peeled and seeded
Juice from 1/2 Lemon (just a spritz really)
Dill weed, fresh, 3 tbs.
Garlic, 1-2 cloves (the more you add, the more the bite)
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse out the food processor because you'll need it again!

For the Falafels:

Throw in the following except the flour into the food processor and thoroughly mix/process:

1 can of chickpeas or fava beans, drained
1/4 cup …

Salt Sensitivity and Plant Based Diets

So I learned while watching a minute or two of The Revolution the other day that pregnancy is essentially a stress test on your heart.  If you had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy it's like failing a stress test.  It's a stress test I failed 3 times.  Yikes!

I believe the root cause of all of the blood pressure issue is salt sensitivity.  I've been reading more and more about plant based diets.  The reason why these diets are better for people like me is that a vegetarian diet means you have a higher potassium to sodium diet ratio.  Even at similar salt intake levels, plant based eaters tend to have less heart disease because they have all the potassium to counteract the sodium.  I've been doing my homework and I've read studies where people even of normal blood pressure who are salt sensitive are much more likely to die of heart disease.  So, even if I get I my blood pressure under control I'm more likely to be at risk for heart disease and I should always pay a…

New Tricks to Cut Fat: Low Fat Vegan Biscuits

Every weekend at our house, we like to make a big batch of whole wheat, reduced-fat biscuits.  I had found a recipe I loved many years ago and they quickly became a weekend tradition.  I always made them with 100% whole wheat using no white flour at all but even lightened up, the biscuits contained a 1/2 stick of butter.  Those are a no-no with the new plan.

So I was delighted to find that with just a few modifications, they could easily be on the new plan.  I simply replaced the whole wheat flour with whole wheat pastry flour for lightness, replaced the stick of butter with a banana and switched the milk with almond milk.  That's it!  These are amazingly good and you will not miss the fat!

The only thing I haven't gotten a grip on yet is the sodium.  The only way I control this is by portion control.  Eat two and pile on the fruit and you'll be fine for sodium.  My family of 5 is large so I need a big pile of biscuits but you can easily halve this recipe.

Who knew you c…

Meatless Dinners: Sweet Potato, Spinach, & Black Bean Enchiladas

I found an interesting recipe for veggie enchiladas on Spark People but it wasn't quite Engine 2 tweaked.  Their sauce included salsa, sour cream and cheese and they used oil to fry the onions.  I was delighted to find how easy it was to convert this to Engine 2 standards.  I really liked what the spinach added to the dish!

16-17 6-inch corn tortillas
3 cups no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded sweet potatoes (a medium sweet potato should be enough)
4 cups fresh spinach
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
1 T paprika
salt and pepper to taste
(you can go with two and half small cans of enchilada sauce or you can make it completely from scratch with your own favorite recipe or you can do it as I did below to cut the salt)
1 10 oz. can red enchilada sauce (without added oils)
1 can water from empty enchilada sauce can
1 10 oz. can tomato puree
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp chili powder (no salt added)

Meatless Dinners: Pepper Stir Fry

Orange, yellow and red peppers were on sale so I whipped up a yummy stirfry with tofu.   We served it with a side of broccoli under some brown rice.  Simple but good!