Chickpea sandwich salad with vegan avocado mayo

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Today’s post is full-blown vegan!  Getting back to the roots of this blog after a long break…too long…and I’m slowly documenting the story behind it on my sister site about surviving cervical cancer.  It’s very much a work in progress, but for now, I’m happy to be back on this site with a post that’s a delicious alternative in hot weather.

If you like tuna salad or egg salad but would like a vegan, clean eating version, give it a try!  First, you’ll need to make avocado mayo.  There are several recipes out there, but after scanning several, I started with this version: from Pinterest. (Thanks, Alissa!)

My adapted version of avocado mayo:

1 avocado, pitted, scooped out of the peel and into a blender

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 T. apple cider vinegar (skimpy tablespoon)

1 T. olive oil (omit if you wish…but I found it to blend more easily with the addition of healthy fat, which is okay with me)

1/8 t. onion powder

1/8 t. garlic salt (note that the original recipe calls for garlic power and salt separately, but I ran out of garlic powder…)

Blend everything in a blender until it is smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.  Spoon out into a bowl and rinse the blender.


Chickpea sandwich salad:

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

2 T. chopped onion (I used a sweet white onion)

1/2 to 1 t. celery seed (chopped celery is okay to add as well…experiment)

freshly ground pepper to taste

salt to taste ( I used sea salt)

Drain the chickpeas and reserve the juice/fluid/water for another use…if you wish.  (Like what, you say? Check here.)

Dump the chickpeas back into the blender and pulse a few times.  You do NOT want hummus…but you do want a chunky, mashed consistency.  It’s okay to use a potato masher for this, but if the blender is already out…why not?  I’m all for working efficiently and having less clean-up.


Add the chickpeas to the avocado mayo.  Add the onion, celery seed, salt, and pepper.  Fold together into a sandwich salad…think tuna or egg salad.  At this point, you may need to taste and add more celery seed, salt, and pepper.  Don’t go too light on the salt unless it is restricted in your diet, as it really enhances the flavor to have the right amount of salt in this recipe.


Serve as you would your favorite sandwich salad.  Today, I chose an Ezekiel English muffin, open faced with Grey Poupon and more freshly ground pepper.  Yes, I do love ground pepper!  Hope you try it and enjoy.  Happy experimenting! –LindaFullSizeRender (1)


Balsamic wine reduction…portabella caps!

 This is so easy I shouldn’t even post it, but that’s the very reason to publish it ASAP.  I could be saving someone from a dinner of Cheez-Its this evening.

Recently I saw a FB post about making a balsamic vinegar and red wine reduction to serve with steak.  While it looked tasty, I wondered what was stopping me from trying it with portabella caps.  The answer, obviously, is nothing!

The “recipe” is a bit of a joke, but regardless… I added a bit of olive oil to my pan, turned it to medium high heat, and removed the stems from the caps.  Next, I added two portabella caps and cooked for a bit on each side.

Next, I added balsamic vinegar, a generous splash of pinot noir (thanks, Camie!), and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  After a few minutes on medium high, the reduction was…reduced…and dinner was nearly ready.

  Although I’m not much of a bread eater, Sam is…and tonight’s “bun” was a mini-naan cut in half .  (It’s delicious…try it.  Also excellent as a base for pizza.)  Tonight’s topping of choice was mashed avocado with salt and red pepper.  Another excellent choice…although my favorite is to have it over Ezekiel toast for breakfast!

Hope you have a new idea and that you’ll both try it and enjoy it.  Let me know!


Hummus evolution

Hummus is a staple in my diet, but the type and quality of hummus is constantly evolving. For Saturday’s girls’ night, we opted for a plain variety and a roasted red pepper rockstar.

Two years ago I posted my early version of hummus, and while the current version isn’t drastically different, it now includes a bit of nutritional yeast and some tahini.

Hummus…enough for friends:

  • 2 15 oz cans organic chickpeas (garbonzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • Juice of one whole lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (used Whole Foods 365)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • Freshly ground black pepper (1/2 to 1 tsp)
  • Salt to taste (used 1 tsp celtic sea salt)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Water to thin to desired consistency
  • Extra olive oil to drizzle on top

Add ingredients to a food processor and turn on for at least a minute.  Check the consistency and slowly add water until the hummus is smooth and creamy – or whatever consistency you like.  Usually it takes another two to three minutes in the processor. Scoop into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Finish with freshly ground pepper.

Roasted red pepper hummus:

  • 1 15 oz. can organic chickpeas
  • 1/2 whole fire roasted pepper (used Whole Foods brand…sold in a glass jar…enough for 3-4 batches of hummus)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The fire roasted pepper adds additional moisture to this version, so wait to add water and/or olive oil until you’ve judged the consistency. As above, finish with an olive oil drizzle and a turn of the pepper grinder. (Note: Sometimes I add cumin powder to this version, but Saturday I kept it in its basic form.  Experiment!)

We enjoyed both versions with gluten-free treats…corn chips, rice/flax crackers, pepper strips, and celery.  Healthy snacks, treasured friends, conversation long overdue, and a little wine…couldn’t ask for more.

Photo credit:  Nicole Erikson.  : )

Some like it hot!


And so do I, apparently! A friend of mine forwarded this recipe to me with the correct assumption that it would be “my kind of thing.”  Indeed…kale, sweet potato, white beans, curry, coconut milk…what’s not to like?  Lunch for a week paired with jasmine rice…(well, three days with two freezer lunches), and a nutritional powerhouse.

So what’s the problem?  None, if your tastes lean to the mild side. I started with the recommended amount of curry, added to the sweet potatoes.


The recipe calls for chopped kale, but I happened to have baby kale on hand, so I threw it in as is. (Am I the only one who over-estimates how many greens I can fit into a green smoothie…and how many green smoothies I can consume?  Let’s just say I needed to use that kale.)


The problem came during the taste test.  The foundation was there for a great meal…a variety of fresh ingredients, pleasing color for the eye, and coconut milk (come on).  But it didn’t pack a punch…that is…until I doubled the curry, added salt and pepper, and added red pepper flakes.  That brought the heat up to a noticeable level, but it needed a balancing element.  Bring on the agave nectar!  Personal preference, but I think that a spicy coconut base comes into its own with a bit of sweetness.  A tablespoon was all it took, but the difference was amazing.  Give it a try, and if you agree, please leave a comment.  I would love to hear about your adventures on the vegan journey!

Feta keeps me in the rookie league

But I am so very close… Check out this spaghetti squash Caprese bake courtesy of Pink Troll Kitchen on Pinterest.  The foreground features the nearly vegan version, and the original vegetarian (and gluten free) version shines on the back burner. (Punny, eh?)

My son will enjoy the mozzarella… 

While I’ll stick with nutritional yeast and yes…a tablespoon of feta on top. 

Feta may prevent me from going 100% vegan, but perhaps my resolve will be stronger some sunny weekday in the future. As it is on this dreary, soggy, Friday evening…I will give in to a tablespoon of Feta bliss. In truth, the two tablespoons of nutritional yeast (one in the mix, one on top) give this enough cheesy flavor to make any vegan happy. As a full batch, I’d probably mix in 4-5 tablespoons. Experiment…

The other kicker… It’s squash! Squash that actually tastes like something sinfully Italian. This one will stay on the short list, with or without the feta. And with the smell of basil and the warmth of the oven filling my kitchen, let it rain. 

Acorn squash in its Sunday finest

Nicole Erikson, thanks for the inspiration! It may be intended as a side dish for dinner, but because I’m a rule breaker, I’ll be having it for breakfast. What a gorgeous way to welcome fall! 

I baked the squash in the oven at 400° for 30 minutes, then added a teaspoon of coconut oil in each half and topped with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. The rest is a slight variation from your version, based on ingredients that I had handy. 😉

I added roughly chopped dates and walnuts, and topped off with coconut milk… Maybe 2 tablespoons in each, or a little less. More evidence that vegan does not have to be boring or tasteless.

Probiotic Queen

Today I give an enthusiastic shoutout to Pam DuRousseau of California Girl Functional Foods, for her probiotic kraut offerings. In my opinion, her work is a community service, if not a personal service, to those of us who are not skilled enough or motivated enough to make our own probiotic fermentations.  

 Those of you who have been reading my posts know that I am trying recipes from The Plantpower Way and sharing my experiences here. One of the most recommended ingredients in the one bowl recipes is fermented kraut. Getting this at the grocery store is a bonus, but getting it at the farmers market…locally…is a tremendous gift. Thank you, Pam, for making it easy. 

Happiness is…a savory cauliflower white sauce 

 A warm puppy helps too, but for now we’ll focus on food. First, a shout out to Nicole Erikson ( for sparking this idea. Nicole shared a link for vegan lasagne and issued a friendly challenge to try it. The cauliflower white sauce intrigued me more than the lasagne itself for two reasons. First, I’m one of those oddballs who doesn’t love layered foods…unless it’s seven layer dip, then get out of my way. Second, I limit pasta, even gluten free, and shaved zucchini just doesn’t motivate me. That white sauce though…the wheels were turning about the one bowls…posted earlier. 

One bowls need a sauce. If you’re easy to please, lemon juice or tamari may do. My preferred sauce would be cashew cheese, but dang. When a girl wants to drop a few pounds, cashew cheese isn’t ideal either. Enter the cauliflower sauce, which as it turns out, is amazing! Nicole’s post was here.  I skipped over the lasagne and went to the sauce. 

Bowl before:

And after:

Oh yeah! (Yes…packaged for lunch at work. This time with a bit of toasted millet hiding at the bottom.)

The possibilities may be endless for this sauce, but this week it will satisfy me at lunchtime and make me feel like I’m getting away with something. 

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!

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!