Trying recipes from The Plantpower Way

Trying recipes from a new cookbook is a process, and sometimes there’s a bit of trial and error involved. In my last post I mentioned that I’m going to try to work my way through The Plantpower Way, and I’ve decided to blog the journey. While I won’t print the recipe…that’s  just wrong when you can buy this book for $23 and get more than your money’s  worth… I will make some notes about the process. Today’s recipe is almond pesto with gluten-free pasta, and I will definitely be making it again!

The foundation is, of course, almond pesto. I’ve never done this before…but it wasn’t difficult. 

Note the open cookbook in the background…and I’ll just say again, what a joy of a book! 😀

The finished pasta includes bell pepper (it should have been red, but I needed to use an orange one in the fridge, and you know I use what I have), broccoli, and toasted pumpkin seeds, which bring on the wow factor. 

Delicious…different…and completely a success based on the fact that after eating it I felt great, not bloated or lethargic. That’s what whole foods do!

Next time I may thin the pesto more to make it better for pasta sauce. It starts thick and can be thinned depending on use as a spread or sauce. No other modifications, and there will be a next time. For now, at least there’s leftovers. 


Spreading the love…of this book!

It’s been a while since I decided to shell out cash for a vegan cookbook.  After all, there’s Pinterest, right?  But this one is well worth it, and has inspired me to recommit to the journey.  These two are non-judgmental and understanding of the fact that most of us don’t have their resources.  Read Rich Roll’s background…and his current achievements.  His transformation lets those of us in the 40+ range know that anything is possible.

View on Amazon’s site

Simple Black Beans and Rice


If you read the previous post, you know that I recently moved.  I’ve been craving some simple, healthy food, but haven’t had the time, energy, or supplies at hand to make that happen.  Now that my kitchen is unpacked, I decided to make one my favorites.  It didn’t disappoint in simplicity, speed, or taste.

The basic inspiration for this version of black beans and rice comes straight from the Goya can:


The variations come in because I want it to be easier (yes, even easier), create leftovers, and be healthier.  I enjoy this dish best over white jasmine rice, but you may like it better over brown rice or quinoa.  Follow your own rules and be happy.  If I hadn’t been famished, I would have made a southwestern salad or even a cucumber/tomato salad as a side, but as it was, I was too hungry to care and ate it solo.  It satisfied me.




Slightly less olive oil – 2 to 3 T.

An entire Vidalia onion

An entire yellow bell pepper (although I would readily use green or red…just had yellow on hand)

Instead of Sazon Goya, about 1 T (each) of the following seasonings: cumin, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano.  (This time I did not add cilantro because I did not have it on hand, but I like that addition as well.)  Why not use Sazon Goya?  MSG.  Just not necessary when you can create this mixture on your own.

Add 1/2 tsp. salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Otherwise…follow the directions as specified by Goya.  Personally, I have had reliable results with Goya and I usually buy that brand.  NOTE:  This version of the recipe uses the larger can — 1 lb. 13 oz.

In my opinion, you don’t have to make it complicated to make it vegan, and this recipe…which I didn’t create but only adapted…exemplifies keeping it simple.  Enjoy!

Back from hiatus…

Hiatus makes it sound relaxing and recharging…but not so much.  I’ve moved twice in the past year, but I plan to put down roots in my new abode, including getting back to this blog in a more regular fashion.  It doesn’t mean I have more time or anything as luxurious as that, but it does mean that I’m getting serious again about posting recipes that support the vegan journey — especially recipes that are fast and easy. Keeping in that spirit, I hope you enjoy the next post!

Quick and Easy Lunch Series…Avocado Rice

School is back in full swing, and I don’t find myself experimenting with new recipes as much as I’d like. As I was fixing yet another super-fast (but tasty) lunch for tomorrow, I thought I’d share it with you. Maybe you’re like me and you could use some simple ideas for work days — or lazy days — or home alone days. I hope to add to this collection in the coming weeks. For now, here’s the current selection:

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Avocado Jasmine Rice

Prepare jasmine rice according to directions. Typically this means: 1.5 cups water per 1 c. rice, boil with some salt (about 1/2 t. per 1 c. rice) and coconut or olive oil (about 1-2 t. per 1 c. rice). Bring to a boil and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this time. It’s okay to let it sit for a bit after you turn off the heat.

For one lunch sized-serving, place 1/2 to 1 c. cooked rice in your lunch container. Cut a ripe avocado in half. If you are saving the other half for tomorrow, wrap up the side with the pit — it keeps nicely in a plastic bag. Make vertical and horizontal cuts in the avocado half while still in the skin. Scoop it out (over the rice) with a spoon, and it will be in nice bite-sized chunks. Top with a little salt and pepper, then drizzle with sweet chili sauce. If you are taking it for lunch, heat gently in the microwave — about 30 seconds at a time, no more than one minute — so that your avocado doesn’t wilt.

Enjoy! It is simple but divine, particularly if you love avocado.

NOTE: Okay, so what about jasmine rice being a “white” rice? While I try to alternate grains — quinoa, brown rice, all that good stuff, I’ve found there is no replacement for the simple aroma, texture, and comfort that jasmine rice brings. If you want simple goodness that brings out the beauty of avocado, this is it.

Update to Creamy Fries…


carmelized onionsIt’s official! The next time I make the creamy crock pot fries, I’m going to use carmelized onions and sauteed mushrooms…mushrooms in the middle layer with some onions, and a separate layer on onions on the top. Will keep you posted on how it turns out, and if you try your own variations, let me know. : )

Creamy Fries in the Crock Pot (Comfort Food!)

This was a complete experiment, but my non-vegan son asked for seconds (instead of meat!), so I consider that a positive review. It’s getting colder outside, and I was looking for an easy Crock-Pot dish that would be a definite comfort food, but would also be definitely vegan. Here’s the first run… Be sure to read notes for modifications I’ll make on the next try.

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1 bag frozen french fries (try for a natural, lower fat variety…I used a 24 oz. bag)
1 to 1 1/2 cups frozen peas (or veggie of your choice…experiment)
2 T. rice flour
2 T. Earth Balance butter flavor sticks (or your choice of shortening)
1 t. minced garlic
1 c. almond milk
up to 2 c. vegetable broth
1 t. rosemary
1/4 to 1/2 c. french fried onions (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Use cooking oil spray to coat the inside of the Crock Pot. Layer half of the fries on the bottom of the pot. Cover with the frozen peas.
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Melt the shortening over medium high heat and saute the garlic. Lower the heat and add the rice flour to make a roux. Slowly add 1 c. vegetable broth and stir to begin a cream sauce. Add in 1 c. almond milk and continue to stir.
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IMPORTANT! I stopped with this amount of liquid, and part way through the cooking, I realized that the consistency would be too dry. I had to add 3/4 to 1 c. warmed vegetable broth to the crock pot to be sure to have enough liquid to cook the peas and not be “uncreamy.” Next time I will:
Add the final 1 c. vegetable broth and cook until a creamy gravy consistency.
Add 1 t. rosemary (This is a small but lovely addition to the flavor!)
Salt and pepper to taste. Remember that your vegetable broth may have added salt, so taste the cream sauce first.
Pour half of the cream sauce over the fries and peas.
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Add the rest of the fries. If desired, cover with french-fried onions. (I did…the flavor is savory and rich…but many of you may not want to use the processed product. Sauteed onions would be nice too!)
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Pour the rest of the cream sauce over the top. Next time mine will show more sauce…I’ll modify as noted above.
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Cook on low for 6-8 hours. As long as you choose low-fat fries, this is sinful without being unhealthy. The great thing is that it also makes a satisfying side dish for non-vegans. I served it to my non-vegan family as a side dish with chicken…see below. Let me know if you try it and enjoy it! Best wishes!
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Thai-Peanut Rice and Beans (Slow Cooker Version)

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Are you looking for a vegan recipe that’s economical, easy, and delicious? This one is a favorite of mine. While it can certainly be made on the stovetop (simmer for 20-30 minutes), the slow cooker gives the sauce a thick, delicious character. (Not to mention the joy of knowing that dinner is waiting when you get home.) This version uses chickpeas, but I have made it with a mix of white and kidney beans as well. If you try it and like it, let me know!

NOTE: This recipe was adapted from a chicken version at this link
If you are not vegan, you might want to give it a try. I made it often in the pre-rookie days, and it’s the reason this adapted version exists.

1 jar medium to hot salsa (or half of a large 24 oz. jar…ok to be flexible here)
1/3 c. peanut butter (increase to 1/2 c. if you love it, decrease slightly if calorie conscious)
1/2 c. vegetable broth (or water)
2 T. lime juice (substitute lemon if lime isn’t handy)
2 t. grated ginger root (refrigerated tube is incredibly convenient)
2 T. fish sauce (use soy sauce or Bragg’s Amino’s for vegan version…the fish sauce is more authentic for taste but isn’t vegan)
2 (15.5 oz.) cans drained and rinsed chickpeas (may substitute white beans, kidney, or mix)
Prepared rice or quinoa (I like jasmine rice prepared with 1 T. coconut oil and 1/2 t. salt)

Optional garnish: chopped peanuts and/or chopped cilantro

Mix the first six ingredients in the bottom of your slow cooker. Make sure that it is well blended and any visible peanut butter lumps are mixed in. Add the beans and stir gently.
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Set your cooker to low setting, and if it has a timer, choose 8 hours. Important — check the consistency when you get home and/or after 8 hours. If it is too thick, add another 1/2 cup of vegetable broth or water. Stir gently and add more liquid if needed — consistency is up to you! Depending on the type of beans you use, they may absorb quite a bit of liquid. Serve over rice with or without garnish, and enjoy leftovers another day!

Pasta with Tofu Tomato Cream Sauce

Although I would guess that there are many such recipes out there, this is one that I created while experimenting with tofu and jarred pasta sauce.  It’s been a bit of a miracle for me, because I love anything with “cream” in the title.  It’s just that my lactose intolerance doesn’t allow me to eat most of it!  This sauce gives me the taste and texture of of a great tomato cream (think Indian butter chicken) with an Italian taste.  Better yet, the family loves it — not just tolerates it as a vegan recipe, but really loves it!  Experiment with it yourself and see what happens.  If you like it, let me know.

Cream sauce shown over rice penne

Cream sauce shown over rice penne


*Please note:  This recipe is substitute-friendly!  See alternates listed.

1 jar (24 oz.) tomato-based pasta sauce  (used Tomato Basil Priano brand from Aldi)

About 8 oz. pasta of choice (used Tinkyada Brown Rice Penne)

1/2 block drained refrigerated extra-firm tofu to equal about 8 oz.  (If you use Mori-Nu, use the entire box)

1/2 c. vegetable broth or water (Mori-Nu users, you may not need to add liquid due to softer texture)

2 portabello mushroom caps, stems cut and discarded (you may use a container of baby bellas if you can’t find the large caps)

1 medium to large onion, any white or yellow variety

1 t. minced garlic

1-2 T. olive oil

1 T. butter (use Earth Balance or other butter substitute for vegan version, or add olive oil as needed)

1 t. salt (use 1/2 t. if you are salt-sensitive)

1 T. sugar (or agave nectar, sucunat, honey, or sweetener of choice) — this cuts the acidic bite of the sauce

Optional – finish with Italian seasoning (used Pennzey’s Tuscan Sunset) or nutritional yeast — or Parmesan cheese for non-vegans such as my husband.

Begin to prepare pasta according to package directions. As you are making the sauce, drain pasta and reserve.  Add olive oil and butter to saute pan and warm over medium heat.  Slice onion into thin strips/rings (chop if preferred) and add to pan.  Increase heat to medium high to brown and slightly caramelize onion.  While the onion is cooking, slice the portabello caps down the middle (in half), then slice into thin strips about 1/4 inch thick or less.  Add garlic to pan and stir.  Add mushrooms and continue browning.  Reduce to heat to medium as you prepare the sauce.

Cut or crumble the tofu into a blender.  Add the jarred sauce, vegetable broth, salt, and sugar.  Blend until all ingredients are smooth.  (In the Blendtec this took 30-45 seconds.)  When the mushroom, onion, and garlic mixture is browned to your satisfaction, add the tofu sauce mixture to the pan.  Reduce heat to medium low.  You want to warm the sauce thoroughly without overcooking the tofu.  Stir periodically until warmed through, and serve with your reserved pasta.  Enjoy!  Feel free to try adaptations to this simple base sauce.  The next time I make it, I’ll stir it in with gluten-free spaghetti, and perhaps I’ll add a seasonal vegetable.  It’s versatile!

Note sauce in Blendtec on the side

Note sauce in Blendtec on the side

Sauce combined and warming

Sauce - Aldi Pasta via Wegmans or

Sauce – Aldi
Pasta via Wegmans or

Speedy Garlic Pasta Sauce with Roma Tomatoes and Basil

Thanks to “deannarama” for posting the foundation for this recipe at  The recipe (with a few adaptations) is noted below.  While this isn’t a complicated recipe, it is beautiful and satisfying in its simplicity.  At this time of year, I want my cooking to be fast, the meals to be light and fresh, and the recipes to incorporate local produce.  This one does it all!


pasta of your choice ( I use gluten-free pasta, and for this version it was Mai-Fun Rice Vermicelli), about 8 oz. for this amount of sauce

1/4 cup reserved pasta water

3 T. olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced ( I used two)

2 small to medium roma tomatoes, diced into 1/4 to 1/2 in. chunks

2 T. chopped basil

1/4 t. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste


Prepare pasta according to package directions and set aside.  (For rice vermicelli, this often means just soaking in hot water for 1o minutes!)  Saute the garlic in the olive oil until soft but not browned.  Slightly golden is okay.  Add in the red pepper flakes, then stir in the tomatoes and basil just to warm.  Do not allow the skins to begin to peel from the tomatoes.  Stir in the pasta and reserved cooking water and toss to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Note that you can adjust the proportions to adapt to the amount of pasta you want to make.  This could have served four, but as it turns out, I had a small portion in the evening, with plans to have some for lunch the next day.  (I love leftovers.)  That never happened.  My husband ate the entire container for his lunch, which I suppose should be considered a compliment.  I made do with avocado toast (salted with red pepper flakes), and enjoyed that greatly as well.

A variation to try — saute baby bella mushrooms and add them in — either alone or with the recipe above.  The addition of mushrooms with this garlic sauce is heaven to the taste buds!

One variation on this versatile sauce!

One variation on this versatile sauce!