Category Archives: Vegan Food

Easiest Black Bean Soup EVER!

EBBSEI still remember the taste of the Black Beans and Rice I had at a restaurant in Ybor City. We were visiting my grandparents in St. Pete Beach. It was a very difficult time for our family and our mom decided that several weeks in Florida were needed. As a parent now, I can only imagine what was happening in her world that caused her to make that decision. Whatever it was, it must have been awful for her. And sadly, she is no longer with us so I can’t talk to her about it. The difficult times she experienced trying to raise five kids largely alone make me appreciate all she did for us. Of course, typical of a kid and then a young woman with my own life and issues, I never said those words to her. I regret that very much.

Back to the restaurant and the Black Beans and Rice. Delicious. I remember the bite of the vinegar and the saltiness of the ham. I had never had Black Beans and Rice before. We are descendants of Eastern Europeans, and beans and rice weren’t in our family cuisine.

Thankfully, they are now. My Faithful Assistant will make them as an after school snack! For years, I have been on a quest for the quintessential Black Bean Soup. I scour the internet looking for something easy and flavorful all the time and after reading dozens of recipes, I have come up with one that I think combines the best of them all into one super simple recipe.

Easiest Black Bean Soup Ever
3 cans black beans
2 cups salsa
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Cumin
Cayenne

  1. Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until translucent.
  2. Combine everything in a slow cooker or stock pot.
  3. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Did you notice I didn’t say drain and rinse the beans? I read up on that too. It’s water, salt and starches from the beans and can be a nice way to give your Black Bean Soup a little thickness.

As the soup heated and all the aromas started filling the house, I was in heaven. The smells didn’t bring back bad memories of our struggles. They brought back memories of new experiences, the warm Florida sun, the beach, and many other things. I think it’s safe to say that I will never suffer as a parent the way my mother must have. She had a very difficult life that was sprinkled here and there with some brightness. I’m going to choose to remember the brightness.

Enjoy.

Super Fast Red Beans and Rice

SFRBRIt’s been a very long couple weeks. Finally this weekend, we have almost nothing to do. I couldn’t be happier. I felt it was important to welcome in this stress-free weekend with a healthy and delicious dinner. Of course, with a starving teen at home, speed is life.

This morning, I decided to make a more concerted effort to have more meat free meals. My initial plan was to make some Vegetable Wontons but alas, no wonton wrappers. Plan B was nonexistent. That left me wandering. I meandered around, when the Vegan meats in the refrigerator case caught my eye. I decided to grab some Tofurky Andouille Sausage, veggies, and make a colorful, healthy dinner.

Super Fast Red Beans and Rice
1 cup rice, cooked, and set aside – about three cups
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
I can red kidney beans
2 cups vegan broth
4 andouille sausages, sliced

  1. Saute onions, celery and garlic in a small amount of olive oil until slightly softened.
  2. Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, broth, beans, and cooked rice. Heat through.
  4. About five minutes before you are ready to serve, stir in the sliced peppers and heat until they have warmed. They’ll still be crisp. You’ll love it!

If you have never tried vegan sausage, the first thing you will notice is the texture. It’s very different than traditional meat sausage. After a few bites, you should be able to move beyond it. As for the flavor, it was great! You may have noticed that I didn’t add any spices to my dish. You could easily add some salt and pepper and maybe a little cayenne; maybe even some cumin. I didn’t because I wanted to really taste the flavors of the sausage. I was not disappointed at all. And for those in my household who are actually afraid of a little heat, there wasn’t too much of that at all!

With Lent right around the corner, you may be looking for some meatless meals. I encourage you to try some vegan sausage or other vegan meat substitutes. If you’re worried about protein, you shouldn’t be. The Tofurky Andouille Sausage has 29 grams of protein per serving! And it appears to be a pretty good source of iron too!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sun Butter Bars

sbbIn mid January, nothing seems more important than the sun. And since days are short and cold, today, I got my dose of sun from these delightful Sun Nut Butter Bars.

I came across a recipe for sun butter bars on Big Man’s World. The original recipe is here.

I mostly follow the original recipe and make the bars with coconut flour, almond flour, and coconut sugar so they are gluten free. I love the slight aroma of coconut that comes from the flour and sugar. It gives these bars a little tropical flair. Even more sun! I added the sea salt and vanilla. I feel like dessert is missing something if it doesn’t have a little vanilla in it.

Sun Butter Bars
1 cup+ 1 tbsp sun butter
1 cup coconut flour
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla – I used powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Combine the flours, sugar and spices and mix well.
  2. Add 1 cup of the sun butter and mix until a thick batter forms.
  3. Gradually add the almond milk 1/4 cup at a time to moisten the batter. It should be thick but not crumbly.
  4. Press into a 9 inch square pan lined with parchment.
  5. Melt the chocolate chips with 1 tbsp of sun butter and spread over the top of the bars.
  6. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until chilled and set.

I have very fond memories of Peanut Butter Bars from elementary school lunch. But your average Peanut Butter Bar is loaded with butter, sugar and more sugar. I figure if I can’t even read the recipe without feeling a little queasy, best not to make them.

Nothing about this recipe makes me queasy. They are a nice satisfying treat without leaving me full or guilty.

Enjoy!

 

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Spritzer

acvsWhen I stop at the store on my way home from work, I often text my family and ask them if they need anything. Imagine my surprise when My Faithful Assistant asked for organic apple cider vinegar. ??? What? Why? Because apparently, in addition to teaching Spanish, my son’s Spanish teacher was also extolling the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. Alrighty then.

Fast forward a few months and my husband, thanks to a health conscious co-worker,  was also on the apple cider vinegar bandwagon. We have a big bottle of the stuff and it goes in tea with honey and lemon, juice, water, and recently, we concocted this delightful refreshing spritzer.

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Spritzer
1/2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar – use more if you want!
4 ounces 100% fruit juice – We used pomegranate juice
8 ounces seltzer
Ice

  1. Combine the apple cider vinegar and juice in a tall glass.
  2. Add ice then seltzer.
  3. Stir gently and enjoy!

Now apple cider vinegar is an acquired taste so I would recommend you ease yourself into this. Get used to the bite of the vinegar and the tingle in your throat and sinuses.

I have no idea if any of the health benefits claimed are actually real benefits backed by science. You can read the claims and decide for yourself what you want to believe. We drink it more often when I’m feeling a cold coming on because I find it soothes my sore throat.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Winter Fruit Salad

img_1446I’ve had a pet peeve for decades now. It is the lame excuse for a fruit cup that is served with brunch by restaurants around the country. Yes, even into the 21st century we are still tortured with a small cup with some underripe melon, a couple grapes, and a sad excuse for a berry or two. I get it. Fruit can be hard to come by, and expensive. Okay. Maybe not so hard to come by, but it can be expensive.

I am heading to a potluck this evening and I am bringing some fruit. But rather than breaking the bank and bringing some prepared (and lovely) offering from a local grocer, I am keeping it very simple. I harken back to my early childhood when winter meant apples and oranges, perhaps an occasional tangerine, and on holidays, the ruby prize of the Midwest; the pomegranate.

Winter Fruit Salad
2 oranges, peeled and cut into chunks
2 large apples or 3-4 smaller ones, cut into chunks
Seeds of a pomegranate

  1. If you didn’t see that you should cut the fruit, please do so now.
  2. Find the loveliest bowl that you have, or if you’re me, just put it in anything you can find that isn’t plastic and stir carefully.
  3. Chill for at least an hour and serve.

Isn’t it pretty? Wouldn’t you be so happy if Fancy Restaurant That Charged you too Much for Waffles would serve you that instead of the hard, flavorless chunk of anemic green melon? ME TOO!!!

For the record, as tempting as it was, I did not buy pre-seeded pomegranate. I did it myself. Here’s how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hY2c44PA0Ms

No fancy kitchen. No overly verbose person letting you know how clever they are because they can open a pomegranate in under five minutes. Just a guy in a field with a little knife. I believe he is the one who truly knows how to get the job done.

Don’t be afraid of winter. The fruit’s still there, and it still tastes great!

Enjoy!