July 25, 2012

Haystacks - aka Adventist Taco Salad

For all of you vegetarian and vegan Adventists, here's a post from Ann, on an Adventist staple!

So, this summer has been especially lazy.  Just takin' it easy, going to the pool, late nights watching The Walking Dead.

Truly the most perfect summer.

Motivation to prepare new recipes has been the furthest thing from my mind.  I've been going with modifications of previous recipes, the easier the better.  And happy to say my resistant child has really started to warm up to some of the recipes.  I tell her she has to try something 47 times before she can say she doesn't like it. 

The things we tell our children.

With little time in the evenings when we have our "family" time, I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking anything..... it has been way too hot for that!  So I've been thinking about veganizing some gold standard Adventist staples (our family is Seventh Day Adventists for those that don't know)....... like, The Haystack. 

This actually wasn't very difficult, a mere two substitutions to make it vegan.  I grew up loving haystack day at school, and as an adult, haystack day at work (LOVE working for Adventist healthcare!).  

Now we all know that Adventists kinda have a strong hold in the health department, promoting vegetarianism and a holistic focus on body, spirit and mind.  In fact, on average, Adventists live 7 years longer than non-adventists (check out the documentary "The Adventists").

But I digress..... there is NOTHING easier than The Haystack (except maybe Ali's Baked Ziti).  It takes approximately 5 minutes from start to finish.  So it's perfect when you have better things to do than cook. AND it's even more perfect when you have picky eaters in the family, because every ingredient is OPTIONAL!  Pick and choose what you want to eat!

I have listed the things I use to make mine.  This is actually wonderful if you're planning on having several random people over and are not sure what they're going to like or not like because it takes the guess work right out of it.  Everything is served family style and they can take what they want!

So next I'm off to brainstorm how to veganize the amazing "Ketchup Loaf" while I'm on this Adventist staple kick.  Any suggestions welcome.

Love and laziness,

Vegan Haystack
(Serves 4-6)

  • 1 can of Loma Linda Vegeburger (this brand is vegan as opposed to the Worthington brand which I grew up with.  Alternatively, you could heat up a minimal ingredient veggie burger and crumble this instead, or just use more beans and mash them up with walnuts for a "taco meat" texture)
  • 1 - 15oz can kidney beans
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning of choice (or make your own quick seasoning - recipe here)
  • 1/2 head of lettuce
  • Handful of spinach 
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 can sliced olives 
  • 1/2 cup Daiya cheddar or pepperjack cheese 
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups tortilla chips
  • Salsa
  • Tofutti sour cream 

  • I heat the vegeburger, taco seasoning and kidney beans together over low heat in a pan, but it doesn't actually require heating.   Technically, you could just eat it out of the can like my husband does. Everything else is separate. The recommended order of layering (because I'm relatively traditional and resistant to change) is 

  1. Chips
  2. Vegeburger/beans
  3. Daiya cheese
  4. Lettuce/spinach
  5. Tomatoes 
  6. Onion 
  7. Black olives and 
  8. Garnish with Tofutti sour cream and salsa! 



Chop stuff up, throw in separate bowls!


July 23, 2012

Carrot Cake Muffins (Shh! They're really healthy!)

I love carrot cake.

Always have.  Plus, the fact that you can put a vegetable in a dessert and it doesn't suck....that's just genius.

I haven't had carrot cake in a LONG time because even the veganized versions of this fab dessert are usually loaded with sugar and fat.  Same with the vegan cream cheese frosting recipes.

So I just figured my carrot cake eating days were over, and I'd just have to make do with frozen grapes, raw brownies, macaroons, chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, no-bake cookies, mug brownies, peanut butter cups, etc.

Until I found this awesome recipe!!

Cathy Fisher is a nutritionist who develops recipes and teaches others about the value and importance of a low-fat, plant-based diet.  She works with the amazing Dr. McDougall in a program helping others change their health and their lives through nutrition.

Cathy's blog, StraightUpFood.com, has a TON of her amazing recipes - all of which are healthy, nutritious, devoid of oil, sugar, dairy, and animal protein......and from the recipes that I've tried, delicious too!

When I saw her recipe for Carrot Cake Donuts pop up, I may or may not have jumped up and down a little.  I couldn't wait to make them, however I don't own a donut pan (and why doesn't Ann!?), so I opted to make carrot cake muffins.

The muffins were full of flavor, texture - they were warm, chewy, and delicious!  Although they didn't last long in my house - I ate two everyday for breakfast with fruit.

Disclaimer: I very rarely eat sugar anymore (remember my post?), so my taste buds have changed.  These muffins were sweet enough for me, although I did opt to drizzle some honey on them to sweeten them up a bit (Cathy also has a recipe for frosting to go with the muffins - I didn't make it though cuz I ran out of freaking cashews).  So if you eat a lot of sugar, you will probably find these to not be sweet enough for you.  That's okay, just make the frosting, or drizzle some honey on them, like I did!  Try to focus on the flavors of the spices, the walnuts, and raisins - because without all that toxic sugar masking them, the flavors are really in full focus!

Love & Kale,

Carrot Cake Muffins
Original recipe from StraightUpFood.com
Makes 1 dozen or so

Print here.

  • 5 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2 a ripe banana, diced
  • 1 cup rice milk or almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the 5 dates, 1/4 cup raisins and 1/2 cup water. Let soak while you prepare the other ingredients (at least 15 minutes).
  2. Grind the rolled oats in a high-speed blender until it resembles flour; transfer to a large bowl. Add the baking powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, and combine.
  3. Transfer the soaked dates, raisins and water to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth (about 30 seconds). Add the banana and non-dairy milk and blend further until everything is smooth. Add this wet mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and gently fold together; now fold in the carrots, raisins and walnuts. The batter should be somewhere between a cake batter and cookie batter in consistency.
  4. Spoon batter into a lined muffin pan, filling to the top and smoothing batter flat. Bake for 20-25 minutes (I like to bake mine for 20 because it produces a moister cake). If you press on the cake lightly and it bounces back a bit (instead of staying indented), it’s likely ready. These continue to set up as they cool.
  5. Remove from oven and cool for 5-7 minutes before removing the muffins from pan (if left in too long it will be hard to get the donuts out). Serve plain or with the frosting.

Soak your dates and raisins in water for at least 15 min

Combine dry ingredients

Grate your carrots - so colorful!

My pretty little measuring cup (a birthday present from a wonderful friend) full of soy milk

Blend the wet ingredients together until combined

Add wet ingredients to dry

Combine - don't worry if the batter is a little runny at this step - it will thicken up in the next step

Add raisins, carrots and walnuts

Combine - batter should be thicker now

Fill muffin cups and bake

Yummy carrot cake muffins

I love you carrot cake

July 18, 2012

Plant-Based Rock Star Traveling Tips

So I know I promised y'all my recipe that I threw together the other day (on Facebook) - I'll post it, but first I need to talk about my travels lately.

We returned last week from Hilton Head Island, where our family has vacationed for the past 22+ years.

Love it there.  

I have to say, one of the best parts of vacation for me?  NOT HAVING TO COOK!

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cooking most of the time.  But there is something that is so, super indulgent about having someone else serve you a plant-based meal.  I don't think flesh-eaters understand just how wonderful is it to be able to eat something that you didn't have to make yourself - because they seem to have more choices.

However, this is becoming less and less true.  While traveling this last time, I found so many more vegan-friendly options than I ever have before.  Even at LaGuardia airport, there was hummus and pretzels, vegan wraps, vegan salads, and freaking buffalo tofu!!  Bananas! (Oh, and bananas).

So friends have mentioned that they don't have the "willpower" I have to stay completely whole-foods, plant-based while traveling.  While that's a nice compliment, I don't really think of it as a question of willpower.  That makes it seem so "diet-y."  Remember, this isn't just a "diet," this is a lifestyle.  So sure there are non-vegan treats that might be calling your name....

.....but you have to put on your blinders - that food is not for you.  Not for plant-based rock stars.  Soon, you'll only "see" the plant-based stuff.  Trust me.

So here's a run down of the food I ate while on vacation:


  • Pack Stuff - I always pack a bunch of stuff for road trips.  I filled a large cooler with cut fruit, carrot sticks, quinoa salad, vegetarian sushi, and water (but not too much water because we have a strict "don't stop until we need gas" road trip policy).  I also packed munchies like Larabars, trail mix, and pretzels.

Quinoa salad for the road trip!
  • Fast food - I've posted about this before here and here.  Chipotle is a great choice, as well as Wendy's, who now has sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and steamed broccoli (remember?).   Subway is always an awesome choice!  This time, on the way home, I even got some apples as a side!  
Restaurants - Dinner
  • Most restaurants nowadays have vegan-friendly options.  I had very little trouble when eating out, with the exception of once (see below).  We went to a Mexican restaurant (always good for plant-based rock stars!) where I got black bean soup and a taco salad with beans, instead of meat.

  • At another restaurant, they had a portabella mushroom burger with roasted red peppers, and for my birthday dinner, we went to a restaurant that had a few vegan items on their menu - and by items, I mean actual meals, not just sides.  I got the Black Rice Stir Fry - which was amazing.  We also ordered pizza one night - which was easy - veggie pizza, no cheese, extra sauce.
  • I'd say the most difficult meal was when we went out for 4th of July, and they only had burgers and hot dogs.  But again, it wasn't the end of the freaking world.  I just ordered a burger, hold the meat and cheese, extra lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion.  And a crapload of ketchup.  My favorite part of burgers was always the toppings anyway.  You won't miss the flesh and clogged arteries!

Breakfast & Lunch
  • At home, my breakfast is usually oatmeal with cinnamon, honey and fruit.  But I was on vacation (aka lazy), so I just had good old cereal with rice milk and fruit.  Easy peasy.
  • For lunch, my family usually likes to get lunch meats and cheese in for sandwiches.  This year, I was able to convince them to let me make veggie sandwiches with hummus!  So good, just as easy, and WAY healthier - whole grain bread, hummus, lettuce, spinach, tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado.  BOOM!  Lunch.

From Hilton Head, I flew with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law up to NY for a wedding.  It was super fab (a celebrity wedding!) and super fun.  The first night, I went out with my cousins - and had a blast.  We went out to eat at this great little restaurant that had a huge menu.  I was so excited because I knew I'd be able to find something!  But no.  Nothing.  Not a single freaking thing that was vegan besides salad (boring!).  So I just ended up getting a salad and sweet potato fries.  Very disappointing.  However, the wine, the tequila, and the company, made me quickly forget all about that!!

Love my cousin!

And this one too!
I got breakfast the next morning and had a soy iced mocha and a bagel (because when you're in NY, you must eat bagels.  As many as you possibly can).  

Onto the wedding.  Weddings are usually pretty hard for plant-based rock stars.  Usually, even if something happens to be vegetarian, it's made with cheese.  So I usually prepare by eating beforehand,  packing a Larabar, and crossing my fingers for an open bar.

Ceremony - beautiful bride and handsome groom!!
After the ceremony, I walked up to the cocktail hour and sitting before me was a large bowl of guacamole.  Yes, guacamole.  I knew at that moment that everything would be okay.  I parked myself in front of that bowl and celebrity-watched.

For the dinner, there was a beef and fish option (typical).  I was pretty full from the pound of guacamole I consumed, so I wasn't hopeful for dinner.  When I told the waitress I was a vegan, she said there was a vegetarian option.  I thought to myself, "Yeah, okay, probably something loaded with butter and cheese.  Whatever, I'm drunk, who cares."

However, to my delight, the meal was vegan!  Hooray!  Curried couscous with roasted vegetable skewers. AMAZING.

I was in vegan wedding heaven.  I ate every last bite on my plate, which was good, because I needed to sober up.

We stopped by my cousin's work on our way to the airport.  Did I mention she's NYPD?  Yup, our very own family hero :)

I have to admit, it was nice having the break from cooking, but I really did miss it.  I have been cooking and baking all week long....so be on the lookout this week for Carrot Cake Muffins, and Roasted Vegetable Quinoa recipes!

So tell us, do you have travel plans this summer?  Where do you go?  What foods do you eat to stay healthy while traveling??

Love & Kale,

July 11, 2012

Post-Vacation Southwestern Burritos

Coming off a vacation, where you may or may not splurge on vegan porn food, it's important to get back on track once you get home.

I usually go mostly raw for a few days.  Lots of spinach smoothies, raw fruits and vegetables, salads, etc.  

I have a great recipe from Ann that's perfect to help get you back on track after a weekend full of splurges.  But before I get into that, I wanted to address this "raw food" detox.  I decided to google some info about going raw and I was actually shocked to see warnings from a various websites about going raw.   It said to consult your physician before starting this very basic dietary change.  

I mean, really!?  Check with your physician before consuming healthy nutrient packed fruits, veggies and nuts!?  But by all means, continue eating processed cancer causing, artery clogging food without consulting your doc?  

I don't understand.......

Okay, so anyways, as I was saying, back into the kitchen, trying a new invention.  Ann based this recipe on her most trusted and true "base" of sweet potatoes and black beans, but this time turned it into burritos.  Add to this more protein, more colorful veggies, and more cumin - and you have a kick-ass recipe.  And I just had to indulge in a little Daiya cheese, and Gardein "Chicken."  

Here it is, another Ann creation! 

And it doesn't suck.

Love and Kale,


Southwestern Burritos
Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 35 minutes
Serves ALOT

Print here.

  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, julienned
  • 3 Gardein Chick'n Tenders, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cumin (I used more cos I LOVE this stuff)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Several whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup quinoa (cooked)
  • 1 handful of spinach (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Daiya Cheddar or Pepperjack cheese - optional

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Chop potato and veggies and "chick'n" (if you're gonna use) and lightly toss with a touch of olive oil and spices.
  2. Place mixture in casserole dish.  Bake for 20-25 minutes stirring half way through.  
  3. Meanwhile, cook your quinoa, rinse your beans and set aside.  When the veggies are finished baking, mix quinoa, black beans and spinach with the veggies.  Turn the oven down to 375.  
  4. Set aside leftovers (you will have a fair bit), and place two heaping tablespoons of mixture into a tortilla, top with a little Daiya cheese, if desired. 
  5. Place tortillas in a shallow pan and sprinkle with just a touch of olive oil.  Bake for 375 for another 10-15 minutes. For a softer tortilla you can wrap each burrito with aluminum foil. Top with your favorite accompiments (I used avocado), and ENJOY!

Bake veggies

Add beans, spinach, and quinoa

Lots of colorful filling

Add a couple tbsp to a tortilla, sprinkle with Daiya cheese

Place burritos in pan, bake for 10-15 min

Serve with toppings of your choice - ENJOY!