Vegan Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats

Vegan Stuffed Zucchini Boats

 

It’s zucchini season again and if you are a gardener, you’re looking for zucchini recipes right about now. You would think that vegan zucchini recipes would be everywhere, but they’re not. I found a great Italian Zucchini Boat recipe online by Valerie Brunmeier, but it wasn’t vegan, so I made a few changes and voila! I really like this recipe first of all because it tastes delicious, second because it is a filling entree served with a side of brown rice or pasta, and third because it is beautiful.

Ingredients:

3 medium zucchini, roughly the same size

1 (24 to 26 ounce) jar marinara sauce, divided

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms or small jar of sliced mushrooms

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp dry parsley flakes

1/2 tsp pink sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper or to taste

1/2 lb hamburger style veggie crumbles

1 – 1 1/2 cups veggie mozzarella cheese

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Measure out 1 cup marinara sauce and set aside for later.
  • Trim about 1/2 inch from each end of the zucchini and slice in half lengthwise. With a sharp knife lightly outline the center area you will remove to create the hollow of your boats (this will include the seed area, leaving about a half inch of solid zucchini around all the edges). Be careful to not cut through the skin. Using the tip of a spoon remove the zucchini flesh inside your outline, chop and set aside.
  • Place the scooped out zucchini boats into a 13″x 9″ baking dish, and add about 1″ of water. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven 20 minutes or until just slightly fork tender but not soft. Remove from oven and set aside to cool a bit.
  • Meanwhile add olive oil to a 12″ frying pan and place over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook a few minutes until veggies have softened, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the chopped zucchini flesh, mushrooms, remaining marinara sauce, veggie crumbles, nutritional yeast and the spices. Stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the partially cooked zucchini boats from the baking dish and pour off water. Pour the reserved 1 cup marinara sauce into the empty baking dish and place the zucchini boats on top of the sauce.
  • Generously divide the cooked filling between the 6 zucchini boats (if you have extra filling just spoon it into the dish around the boats). Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 – 30 minutes until zucchini boat is fork tender, but not soft and droopy.
  • Remove baking dish from oven and set oven to BROIL.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle zucchini boats with half the veggie mozzarella, panko bread crumbs, and more mozzarella.
  • Place dish in oven and broil for just a few minutes (watch closely so it doesn’t burn) until the cheese melts and bread crumbs are golden brown.

 

Delicious!

 

 

 

Mexican Stuffed Yams

 

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This is one of my favorite go-to meals when I know there won’t be time to prepare dinner tonight. It takes just minutes in the morning to get the yams into the slow cooker, and then in the evening pulling it all together for serving is a breeze. Bonus: Everyone can even assemble their own!

Main Ingredient:

One organic yam per person, scrubbed and individually wrapped in foil. Place yams in slow cooker, and cook on high for 4 hours or 7 – 8 hours on low. This is all the early preparation you need to do before your busy day.

Other Ingredients:

Seasoned black beans — you may use your own recipe (a great way to use leftovers) or canned as shown below.

Guacamole — once again, your own homemade or purchased.

Vegan shredded cheddar cheese

Salsa — homemade or purchased (I like to add a squeeze of lime to my salsa)

Organic corn chips.

As you can see, making this is simple as can be if time is a factor. I know homemade everything is always the best, and I feel like I’m cheating when I open a can, but this is the 21st century. We’re all strapped for time, and if I can put a healthy inexpensive meal on the table, it sure beats take-out. So, dip your chips and enjoy a healthy meal with little preparation and lots of fun.

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Excellent “Chicken” Salad

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This is a wonderful vegan “chicken” flavored sandwich spread that is great for school or work lunches. Packed with protein, taste, and crunch it satisfies on every level. Even if you have a nut allergy, you can still enjoy this scrumptious “chicken” salad with no fear– simply substitute raw cauliflower for the nuts.

 

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Ingredients:

1- 15 oz. can chick peas, rinse and drain

1 handful each of almonds and cashews OR an equal amount of chopped raw cauliflower.

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

4 – 5 Tbsp. Vegenaise

2 tsp. prepared mustard

1/8 – 1/4  tsp. ginger powder

1/8 – 1/4 tsp. Adobo seasoning salt

pepper to taste

1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)

Method:

Chop scallions and celery (and cauliflower if using) — set aside.

Blend remaining ingredients in food processor ( blend only enough to chop — you want it kind of chunky, not creamy).

Place blended ingredients in a bowl and add chopped scallions and celery (and cauliflower). Mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

Makes 6 – 8 great sandwiches!

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

  Shepherd's Pie

   This is an entrée I love serving to meat-loving friends.  It’s fun to watch them try to figure out where the beef is!  It tastes like it’s there, but in reality it’s not.  Invariably, they have to admit this is a great version of the fat-laden Shepherd’s Pie they’re used to.  All the flavor, minus the artery-clogging cholesterol…what’s not to love?

As always, cook once but eat twice.  This recipe is easy to throw together if you have leftover Vegetarian Taco “Meat” https://vegtutor.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/recipe-vegetarian-taco-meat and cooked brown rice in the freezer.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. Vegetarian Taco “Meat”

1 1/2 cooked brown rice

1 small onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 tsp. olive oil

2 tsp. dried basil

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 c. dry bread crumbs

Bottom Layer:  Place Taco “Meat” and brown rice in a large bowl. Saute vegetables in oil for 4 – 5 minutes, then add to bowl with Taco “Meat” and rice.  Add spices, Dijon mustard, and bread crumbs. Stir with a large spoon to mix ingredients. Season with sea salt and pepper if desired. Spread mixture in an oil-sprayed glass casserole dish.

  Top Layer:  If you’re smart, you have leftover mashed potatoes on hand to make this recipe as simple as can be. If you don’t have any leftover mashed potatoes, here is a recipe:

Mashed Potatoes

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 qt. water

1/3 c. unsweetened rice, soy, or almond milk

1 – 2 Tbs. organic butter or substitute

salt and pepper to taste

   Bring water to a boil and add potatoes.  Reduce heat and cook 15 – 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain and place in a mixing bowl. Add seasonings and use an electric mixer or hand masher to mash potatoes.  Add milk a little at a time as you mash until potatoes are thick and creamy with no lumps. Adjust seasonings to taste.

   Spread thick layer of mashed potatoes on top of the bottom layer of Shepherd’s Pie. Top with vegan parmesan cheese or Gomasio if desired.

   Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 -45 minutes

   Cut into thick slices and serve with vegan gravy.

Easter Onigiri

Onigiri may be new to Americans, but in Japan it is a common snack and bento box lunch treat for kids. Usually, they are small round or triangular rice balls filled with vegetable surprises.  Onigiri is an ancient food that history tells us was wrapped in leaves and carried by Samuri warriors into battle.  Today, making the cutest Onigiri, shaped and decorated like animals or people, has become somewhat of a crafty competition among Japanese mothers when preparing school lunches.

Easter Onigiri

With Easter approaching I was inspired to try making something I’d never seen — Easter Onigiri! It was a little tricky getting the colors I wanted naturally, without going the standard food coloring route, but I think these turned out pretty cute.  They’re really not that hard to make and would be a fun project to do with the kids.  What a colorful addition to an Easter buffet table instead of the usual hard-boiled eggs — and no messy eggshells to deal with!

Ingredients:

1 cup sushi rice

3 Tbs. rice vinegar

1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. evaporated cane sugar

1 1/4 sea salt

1 sheet nori (to cut up for decorating)

Fillings:  1/2 inch slices canned baby corn, pickled radish (yummy!), red bell pepper, thawed frozen corn, diced avocado, etc.

I recommend making one color rice at a time.  To make the different colors you will need:

1 tsp. Turmeric – yellow

1 tsp. red beet powder (I’m sure Hallelujah Acres BeetMax* would work, too. You may have to adjust the amount to get the color you want) – pink

1 Tbs. Hallelujah Acres BarleyMax* – green (For brightest color, in a shaker cup put 1 ice-cube the BarleyMax and enough water to measure 1 1/2 cup. Shake vigorously until ice-cube dissolves. Add mixture, foam and all, to rice and cook as directed)

If you want to decorate white eggs, then add no coloring.

Method:

Rinse and drain rice several times (It takes about 5 times until the water is no longer cloudy). Place in a heavy saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water and whatever coloring you choose. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to med/low. Simmer 12 minutes (don’t peek!) Remove from heat and let stand 1 minute.

Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl whisk together rice vinegar, sugar, and sea salt. Mix in the hot rice until the liquid is absorbed. Spread on a foil covered baking sheet to cool for about 5 minutes.

Place a square of plastic wrap over a 1/2 c. custard bowl. Scoop a spoonful of rice into center of plastic wrap making a thumbprint indentation. Fill indentation with your choice of fillings. Cover with another spoonful of rice and pull up sides of plastic wrap. Twist and squeeze wrap around rice, forming a tight, smooth egg shape around filling. Unwrap and place onigiri on a large flat plate.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Decorate Onigiri with cut up nori.  Have a bowl of water nearby to glue down nori decorations.  If rice sticks to your fingers wet them to solve that problem.  I used die cut stamps (the kind used for scrapbooking) to stamp out flower and duck shapes, and a paper punch for little dots. Be creative — go wild!

*www.hacres.com

Raw Cranberry/Almond Cookies

It’s almost Christmas, and you still want to make some cookies — but they have to be vegan…and healthy…but still taste great.  Hmm, this recipe can meet all those requirements and your friends will ask for the recipe.  You can feel good about serving these raw cookies, and you won’t spend all day in the kitchen either; quick, easy, and delicious!

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal

1 cup rolled oats

2 cups dried cranberries*

5 pitted dates

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp. almond flavoring (or 1/4 tsp amaretto oil candy flavoring)

Method:

Soak dates and cranberries in distilled water (just enough to cover) for 2 hrs. Grind oats in food processor until fine. Drain dates and cranberries. Add remaining ingredients and process thoroughly to form a dough.

Roll into small balls and roll each ball into more almond meal. Refrigerate until serving. Keeps up to two weeks in the frig.

* This is a very versatile recipe. I have substituted dried cherries for half the cranberries, and you could probably use half light raisins, too.

“Vegetarian Times Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook” by the editors of “Vegetarian Times” magazine. MacMillan, 1998.

As Thanksgiving approaches we all (even vegans) yearn for the familiar tastes and aromas of the comfort foods we associate with the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner.  Trying to follow a vegan lifestyle during this season of feasting can be a challenge, but the editors of Vegetarian Times have compiled a cookbook to please any non-turkey eater’s appetite.  No longer do we have to be content with dry mashed potatoes, salad, and a roll while everyone else gorges on turkey flesh and gravy!  This cookbook is full of holiday favorites and treats.  The accompanying photos are mouthwatering in themselves, and the recipes I have tried live up to the excellent standards “Vegetarian Times” always maintains.

One recipe for Vegan Pumpkin Pie (page 193)  is, in my opinion, the very best pumpkin pie I have ever had.  That it is made without any eggs or dairy puts it way above conventional pumpkin pie recipes that are high in fat, calories, and cholesterol. You can use your own favorite pie crust recipe or the one included in the book.  This is the simple filling recipe, smooth creamy, and out of this world!

Ingredients:

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup low-fat soymilk or rice milk

1/2 cup honey or 3/4 c. granulated sugar cane syrup (I used 1/4 c. honey and 1/4 c. agave syrup)

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 Tbsp. dark molasses, or to taste

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt (I used Celtic sea salt)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. To prepare filling, in a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients until smooth and blended.  Pour into prepared crust and smooth top.  Bake 10 minutes — THEN:

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees; bake until filling is set, about 50 minutes.  Set on a wire rack to cool, then refrigerate overnight to set. Top with your choice of dessert topping if desired.  I’m sure you will love it!

For more recipes like this, the cookbook “Vegetarian Times Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook” sells for $21.00 (or less if you shop around).  For even more recipes for everyday cooking go to this great resource: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes.

 

Homemade Vegetable Wash (Spray or Soak)

I have to admit that it just breaks my heart to spend a big chunk of my food budget on veggie wash.  Those tiny spray bottles of veggie wash never seem to last long the way I use it, and plain water just doesn’t do the job for soaking leafy greens. Here are two simple solutions you can make at home with common household products you probably already have on hand. They cost only pennies to make and work really well.  (You should refrigerate the spray because it contains fresh lemon juice)

SPRAY:

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. baking soda

1 cup water

SOAK:

1/4 cup vinegar

2 Tbsp. salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. SPRAY: Put all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake gently to mix (it will foam). Spray on vegetables or fruit and allow to sit for 2-5 minutes, then rinse with cold water and dry.

2. SOAK: Fill a clean basin or sink with cold water. Add vinegar and salt, then stir until salt dissolves. Place vegetables or fruit in sink and allow to sit for 25 – 30 minutes. Rinse under cold water and dry.

These ideas came from http://www.food.com where you can find even more great recipes and money-saving hints.

Hearty “Chicken” Garden Soup

This soup is a melange of colorful garden vegetables and comfort food flavor with just a hint of hot cayenne pepper to spice it up.  As healthy as it is beautiful, this recipe will make the most of summer’s bounty all in one pot — sure to be a keeper!

In a large pot:

Lightly saute 1/2 cup chopped onion in 1 Tbsp oil (or 1/4 cup water for low fat)

Add:

4 cups water and 1 (32 0z) container Imagine brand “No Chicken Broth,” and bring to a boil.

All at once add remaining ingredients:

3 stalks celery, chopped

4 carrots, cut into chunks

2 large orange bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium zucchini (10 – 12 inches), cut in half lengthwise then cut into 1/4″ slices

1 large bunch kale, stalks removed and leaves chopped

1 Tbsp. whole fennel seeds

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. turmeric

1 – 2 tsp. gray Celtic sea salt (or to taste)

Simmer all ingredients together for 15 – 20 minutes.  Add 1 package chopped Light Life brand  “Chicken” Strips during the final 5 minutes of cooking (just to heat thoroughly).

Serve hot.  (Makes about 8 generous servings)

Two Easy Granola Recipes

These are two of my favorites.  I always have some type of granola in the house for a quick nutritious breakfast or an easy pie or cobbler topping.  With the price commercial cereals it really is more cost effective to make your own, and then you know exactly what’s in it — all your favorites!
Both of these recipes are very adaptable.  I’ve been trying to avoid wheat, so I don’t use the wheat germ or bran, but double up on one or two of the other ingredients or simply omit them. Granola #2 (low-fat) is perfect for the dehydrator instead of baking; 105 degrees for 4 – 6 hours, or until dry. (I haven’t experimented with Granola #1 in the dehydrator yet)
Granola #1
3 c. rolled oats                                                1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. coconut                                                     1/2 c. honey
1 c. chopped nuts
1 1/2 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. toasted sesame seed
1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds (unsalted)
Toast oatmeal 10 minutes @ 250 degrees.
Add other ingredients (I use a large oblong cake pan to do all this).
Blend together honey and oil, and pour this mixture on top of everything in cake pan.  Stir well to coat.
Spread out mixture and bake @ 300 degrees for about 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes.
Cool and add any dried fruit you like (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc.)
Granola #2
In a large bowl combine:
4 – 5 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. wheat bran
1/2 c. bran or bran flakes (optional)
1/2 c. sesame seeds
3/4 c. coconut
3/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
3/4 c. flax seeds (ground or not)
In a separate bowl mix together:
1/3 c. raw, unfiltered honey
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. fresh apple juice
Pour liquid over dry ingredients, stir to distribute evenly.
Spray oblong cake pan with PAM. Pour entire mixture into pan and bake @ 300 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes.
Cool.  Add any chopped dried fruit.  Store in airtight container.
Enjoy!