Oil-free arugula pesto

arugulaWe had some arugula and a bottle of wine that said it went well with arugula pesto on Friday. Seemed like the perfect inspiration for dinner, except for the fact that almost every recipe for pesto I could find included tons of oil and cheese. We wanted something fresh and light.

I made one up, using miso instead of Parmesan to give it some umami. The lemon juice also helps cut the bitterness of the greens. And the white beans make it creamy.

We served it over roasted potatoes, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. This would also be excellent over pasta or as a spread for a sandwich.

Oil-Free Arugula Pesto

Yield: 4 servings

2 cloves garlic
1 cup arugula
1 cup cooked white beans, drained
2 tsp white miso
2 tbsp water
3-4 tbsp lemon juice

Peel the garlic cloves and process them in a food processor until they are minced. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Add water a tablespoon at a time if it is too thick.

Calories - arugula pesto

Photo by Susy Morris, used with permission

Eggplant Tapenade Pasta Sauce


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Kathy Hester published a delicious-sounding recipe for Eggplant Tapenade in her book Vegan Slow Cooking for Two. (Psst! It’s also available on her website!) I packed my slow cooker away for a few months but figured I might be able to make something similar in my pressure cooker.

Instead of a chunky tapenade the results were more sauce-like. We spooned it over fresh noodles last night and our taste buds did the happy dance. Nick, who has admitted to disliking eggplant, even thought it was great. He told me that he liked how the eggplant broke down and gave the sauce a creamy texture.

To speed up the recipe, start the water boiling before you start chopping vegetables for the sauce. The sauce and pasta should all be finished about the same time.

Eggplant Tapenade Pasta Sauce

Yields approx. 3 servings

1/4 cup water
3 cups chopped eggplant
1/2 cup chopped green olives with red pepper flakes (we found these in the deli section at Safeway)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons capers
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Add everything except the balsamic vinegar, fresh basil and salt/pepper to the pressure cooker. To avoid burning the dish, layer the ingredients in the order listed, adding the tomatoes last.

Bring to high pressure and cook for four minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally or release it.

Add the vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

You can either leave it chunky or purée it in a food processor. Serve over hot pasta.

calories - eggplant tapenade saucePhoto by Jim, the Photographer, used with permission

Mighty Muffins


I’ve been working a crazy amount of hours these last few weeks, so many in fact that I have had little time to cook. Pre-packaged food and take out is an easy fall-back, but spending just 30 minutes to make a batch of thee gluten-free, high-protein muffins gave me an easy grab-and-go breakfast that kept me going until lunch for two weeks!

Mighty Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

2 1/4 cups rolled oats, blended
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup walnuts, optional

2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup cooked white beans
6 dates, pitted
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Blend wet ingredients in a high-speed blender until you have a smooth, tan batter. Pour into bowl with dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Spoon batter into silicone muffin pans or regular muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray. Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until the muffins test “dry.”

mightymuffinsPhoto by JeffreyW, used with permission.


Beet Salad with Oranges and Beet Greens


Farmers markets are chock full of beautiful bunches of beets with their tops still attached. This salad makes the most of the entire vegetable – root to tip.

Beet Salad with Oranges & Beet Greens

1 bunch beets (approx. 12 ounces), greens still attached
1/2 tsp orange zest
1 large orange
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Trim greens from beets. Cut off and discard stems. Coarsely chop leaves and reserve. Cook the beets using your preferred method. (To roast them, wrap each beet in foil. Place beets directly on oven rack in 400-degree oven and roast until tender when pierced with fork, about 1 hour 30 minutes. To cook them in a pressure cooker, put the beets in the pot with about an inch of water. Cook under high pressure for about 11 minutes.  Or, alternately, you can boil them for about 40 minutes.)

Peel the cooked beets, then cut each into 8 wedges. Place beets in medium bowl with 1/2 tsp orange zest.

Cook beet greens in large saucepan of boiling water just until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Cool. Squeeze greens to remove excess moisture. Add greens to bowl with beets. Cut peel and white pith from oranges. Working over the bowl with the beets and greens and using small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release segments. Add orange segments and onion to bowl with beet mixture. Add red wine vinegar to beet mixture and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Serve.

Photo by Liz West, used with permission

Zippy Zummer Zucchini Zuppa


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Vegetable bean soup is always a crowd pleaser. This one makes the most of summer veggies. The addition of spoonfuls of Sriracha kicks it into high gear!

Zippy Zummer Zucchini Zuppa

Serves 4-6

1 red onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable stock
3 1/2 cups white beans
2 tbsp Sriracha sauce
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
juice and zest of one lemon
ground black pepper and fresh parsley to finish

Cook the onion, carrot and celery over medium high heat until veggies start to brown and make fond on the bottom of the pan. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of broth. Add the remaining broth, bay leaves, white beans and Sriracha sauce and cook for 15 minutes. Add zucchini and asparagus and cook for 5 more minutes.

Discard the bay leaves and stir in the lemon juice and zest. Serve with a bit of pepper and parsley for garnish.

Calories - zzzz

Photo by Vanessa Pike-Russell, used with permission.

Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Luke Jones over at Hero Health Room put together this awesome infographic regarding the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. It looks at what a plant based diet consists of, and as the title suggests, the main benefits. If nothing else, I hope it encourages you to eat an extra helping of salad today!

Spicy Red Bean Slaw


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shredded cabbage

Three cheers for BBQ season! This slaw was adapted from a recipe in Quick Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson and is the perfect accompaniment to whatever you’ve got on the grill. The addition of red beans and corn make it both pretty and tasty. Omit the chipotle if you are sensitive to spicy foods.

Spicy Red Bean Slaw

Serves 4+

For the salad:
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 ½ cups cooked kidney beans
1 ½ cups frozen corn, defrosted
1 chipotle chile en adobo, minced

For the dressing:
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground pepper
Pinch stevia powder (or sugar if you don’t have stevia and don’t mind using sugar)
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp raw cashews

Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Put the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Toss dressing with salad. Enjoy!

Calories - red bean slawPhoto by knitting iris, used with permission


Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Grapes




Years ago, my brother brought a tray of wonderful roasted vegetable to Thanksgiving dinner that included grapes. They added such a nice sweetness to the dish.

Yesterday, I had an aging bag of Brussels sprouts in the fridge that needed eating, and I wondered if grapes would work their magic on these too. Turns out they do! After 20 minutes of roasting, the grapes release their juices a little. Combined with a little balsamic vinegar and Braggs, it makes a great sauce for the sprouts.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Grapes

Serves 2-3

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 pound grapes, removed from the stems
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Braggs liquid aminos or light soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 7×11 baking dish with cooking spray. Add the Brussels sprouts and grapes and toss to coat with the spray. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are soft.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and turn it to broil. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and Braggs over the roasted sprouts and grapes. Place the baking dish under the broiler for about 5 minutes until the sprouts are nice and browned.

calories - sprouts and grapesPhoto by Sofie Dittman, used with permission



Chickpea Salad Sandwiches and Wraps




Confession: My mom never made or served chicken salad sandwiches when I was a kid, so I don’t know what they are supposed to taste like. That said, I frequently spend long days (12+ hours) in the mountains in search of far-away summits. PB&J sandwiches lose their luster week after week, so this easy-to-make chickpea salad sandwich filling is a great welcome to my lunch repertoire. I imagine it tastes something like chicken salad, maybe even better!

Chickpea Salad

Serves 4

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup celery, roughly chopped
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup Vegenaise
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse a few times until combined. I like to leave it a bit chunky, but my husband likes to pulse it until it is almost smooth – like a spread. It is tasty both ways.

Layer it in a wrap (these are my favorite) or on some sandwich bread with lettuce and tomatoes or serve it on a bed of chopped salad greens for a very satisfying and tasty meal.

Calories - chickpea saladPhoto by Samira, used with permission


Tested & Approved: Dream of Tomato Soup


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If you’re like me, you might be sneaking away for a mini-vacation on this long weekend. Preparing for the trip leaves little time for cooking. Thank goodness for blender soups! Dinner can be put together in five minutes or less if you have a few vegetables on hand.

Chef AJ first introduced me to blender soups with her Dream of Tomato Soup. Her recipe calls for a full cup of hemp seeds. We sometimes find that too rich, so we cut it back to ½ a cup. If you don’t have hemp seeds, you can substitute sunflower seeds for an equally good soup with a slightly different flavor.

Here is the video of Chef AJ and Juliana Hever making the soup. The full recipe follows.


Dream of Tomato Soup

Serves 4

1 pound roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 red bell peppers, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup fresh basil
¼ cup lemon juice
3-4 sundried tomatoes
½ tsp chipotle powder, optional
½ cup hemp seeds, see note above

Place the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, basil, lemon juice, sundried tomatoes, and chipotle powder in a high-speed blender and blend on high for about a minute, until the soup starts to steam. (If you have a Blendtec, use the soup setting.) Add the hemp seeds and blend again until the soup is hot and creamy.  If it’s not quite hot enough after blending, you can continue warming it on the stove.

Calories - dream of tomato soupPhoto by Andrew Storm, used with permission