Vegan Mexican Stir Fry

Vegan Mexican Stir Fry PinThis Vegan Mexican Stir Fry is a great weeknight meal since it’s quick to make and amazingly delicious. Since this recipe only has about 89 calories per serving, you really need to eat it with something else. You can prepare some brown rice and refried beans ahead of time and heat them up to save time.

It takes only a few minutes to chop up some peppers and onions, and since most of the flavor comes from the salsa, you can easily have this ready to eat in under 10 minutes.

We make ours with my Grandpa’s Vegan Dipping Hot Sauce and Amelia’s Vegan Refried Beans, but you can just as easily use store-bought refried beans and salsa. Just make sure they’re oil-free and lard-free. A lot of canned refried beans have lard. Yuck!

This is one of our go-to recipes. We eat this one almost every week, especially on nights when Amelia has her belly dancing class at The Tribal Fusion House here in Cuenca, Ecuador. If you’d like to see her belly dancing, here’s a video. She’s in front on the right.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.


Summer Black Bean Salad

Summer Black Bean Salad PinThis Oil-Free Summer Black Bean Salad recipe was inspired by a recipe from Amelia’s Aunt Marie. It’s easy to make and full of color and flavor. It tastes great all by itself as a side dish, or over a leafy green salad.

Last time we were back in Atlanta visiting Amelia’s family, her mom Jane made us this dish and everyone loved it! Aunt Marie included olive oil and cheese in her recipe, so we just removed those and didn’t notice them missing. In fact, I’m guessing the cheese would overpower the mild flavors of the other veggies.

A friend of ours told us this recipe is similar to Cowboy Caviar. However, real Cowboy Caviar also has black-eyed peas, diced tomatoes, and several other seasonings. Aunt Marie’s recipe is certainly a lot easier to make with its fewer ingredients and most of the flavor coming from the salsa.

Amelia’s mom inspired us to make more dishes with salsa as the flavor enhancer. It’s a lot easier and faster to make a delicious dish when all you have to do is open a jar of salsa and pour it in. We generally use my Grandpa’s Vegan Dipping Hot Sauce instead of store-bought salsa because we think it tastes better and it also saves us about $3/jar.

This recipe makes a great side salad for your favorite Mexican dishes, like Vegan Tortilla Soup or Mexican Lasagna.

If you choose to eat this Summer Black Bean Salad over leafy greens, you may want to add some fresh lime juice and/or vinegar to the greens beforehand to give them more flavor.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.


Brown Rice Milk Recipe

Brown Rice Milk PinThis Brown Rice Milk Recipe is a quick and easy, money-saving alternative to store-bought non-dairy milk. It takes just a few cents of cooked brown rice, some water, and optionally your choice of sweetener. We also like to add a little vanilla to ours.

We really like making our own creamy brown rice milk because it saves us quite a bit of money, but it also saves a lot of packaging that either goes in the trash or must be recycled. And it doesn’t have any preservatives or other mystery ingredients.

You can make a quart (4 cups) of brown rice milk for about 50 cents. Compare that to more than $4 for your typical store-bought non-dairy milk and the savings can really add up over time.

We use agave as our sweetener, but you can use your sweetener of choice. Maple syrup, stevia or U-Sweet would also work.

Our friend Rosy from Fratello Vegan likes to add cardamon to her’s and she says her three beautiful daughters love it.

You may want to use more or less water to get your preferred level of creaminess. One cup rice to three cups water gives it a pretty creamy texture.

The key to getting it creamy is to blend it in a mixer for at least 3 minutes. There will still be some settling as it sits in the fridge, but you can shake or stir it to mix it back up. We’re not big milk drinkers so you may prefer the store-bought milks if you want to swig a big glass with your chocolate chip cookies, but this works great for cooking (it thickens as you simmer it) and in cereals like our Rolled Oats Breakfast or Vegan Muesli.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.


Vegan Baked Beans

Vegan Baked Beans PinThis Vegan Baked Beans recipe (or BBQ Baked Beans) is absolutely delicious! It’s sweet, savory and spicy, but it also has a LOT of sugar, so do your best not to eat all of it in one sitting!

For a 1/2 cup serving, there are 207 calories with 92 coming from sugar. It has 23 grams of sugar (still far less than a can of soda), which is more than half of the recommended daily value. That means this is NOT a health food recipe. It’s meant to be a treat on a special occasion (like Labor Day) or a family event when you want to show people how good vegan food can taste. If you’re currently a diabetic, you should definitely not eat these beans!

While this recipe does have a lot of sugar, it also has some healthy ingredients. The beans are loaded with protein and fiber, as well as calcium and iron. They’re also really low fat, with less than half a gram per serving. Our bodies are very efficient at burning carbs (including sugar) for energy, and they’re very efficient at storing fat for future use during times of famine (that most of us never have to experience). So if you’re in good shape, at your ideal body weight, and without diabetes, you can enjoy these Vegan Baked Beans knowing your body will know how to handle the carbs (it’ll probably make you feel like going for a long walk after dinner).

Most BBQ Baked Beans are made with lard and/or bacon, which obviously isn’t vegan or healthy (unless you live in upside-down world). However, you can achieve a similar taste by using liquid smoke. After all, that’s what gives bacon it’s flavor. Without liquid smoke and sometimes maple syrup or molasses, bacon would taste like bland, fatty meat…pretty much how all meat tastes without plants added for seasoning. But if the liquid smoke is too reminiscent of bacon for you, just skip it.

If you’re in the US, most liquid smoke and molasses aren’t vegan. That’s because they contain non-organic sugar, which is processed using the ground up bones of dead animals to give it a pretty white color. Sugar in most parts of the world has a tan hue, which tastes the same, it’s just not as superficially pretty. Look for “pure liquid smoke” without molasses. And look for vegan or organic molasses, or molasses made with organic sugar.

These Vegan Baked Beans pair well with any vegan burger, potato salad, corn-on-the-cob, green beans, or any of your favorite vegan recipes.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.


Vegan Tortilla Soup

Vegan Tortilla Soup PinEven though I just finished eating lunch, my mouth is watering just thinking about this Vegan Tortilla Soup recipe! It’s that good!

While conventional tortilla soup typically uses chicken as the protein, we used white beans instead. Beans are loaded with protein and fiber, but contain no cholesterol nor measurable saturated fat. They’re also a good source of iron, magnesium and potassium.

There are several different types of white beans: navy beans, great northern beans, cannellini beans and butterbeans. We like navy beans in our soups because the starch gets released during cooking, making the soup creamier. However, you can use whichever beans you prefer or have on-hand for this recipe.

For the tortilla strips, we used two small corn tortillas made with only two ingredients: whole corn and water. Whole Foods carries organic corn tortillas that are made with corn, water and a hint of lime. When eating a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet, it’s important to look for minimally processed foods without added oils and sugars (or other mystery ingredients).

We cubed some avocado as a topping for our vegan tortilla soup, but if you’re trying to lose weight or lower your cholesterol, you may want to skip the avocado until you’ve reached your goal. Saturated fat, regardless of whether it comes from a plant or animal, will raise your cholesterol and can contribute to heart disease and weight gain.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.


Oil Free Grilled Plantains

Oil Free Grilled Plantains PinThis Oil Free Grilled Plantains recipe is exceptionally delicious! Unlike most fried plantains, these are much lower fat due to a little trick Amelia thought up.

We bought some plantains and I was standing there staring at them while Amelia was making some hummus. I was complaining to her that without oil, it’s hard to get the browned look that we take for granted when cooking with oil, especially with traditionally fried items like plantains.

She had reserved the aquafaba from the chickpeas (aquafaba is chickpea juice) and suggested I use that as a browning agent. It was a eureka moment!

So I took 1/4 cup of the aquafaba and put it in a bowl. Then I added some brown sugar, fresh squeezed orange juice, a little water and a little cilantro to the bowl and stirred it up. Then I added the sliced plantains to the bowl and stirred to coat them. When I put it on our electric griddle, it browned just like it had oil on it. It was even crispier than I expected.

Plantains have a lot of calories: over 200 for one plantain. That’s twice the calories of a large banana. So with the added sugar, this isn’t a very low calorie treat, but it is pretty healthy otherwise. If you’re a sugar-phobe, you can try it without the brown sugar or replace it with another type of sweetener. However, the brown sugar did caramelize on the griddle, helping to brown the plantains and seal in the flavors.

Remember, brown sugar in the States is only vegan if it says it on the package, or if it’s organic. Otherwise, it could have a variety of animal derived products in it.

This Oil Free Grilled Plantains recipe works well as a snack (it’s very filling) or as a dessert with some vegan ice cream. You can also use it as a sweet and savory side dish. Yum!!!

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.


Vegan Chana Masala

Vegan Chana Masala Pin

This Vegan Chana Masala recipe (made with chickpeas) was inspired by an Indian cuisine cooking class that we took at Baking Anis in Cuenca, Ecuador taught by two Chilean chefs. It’s such a small world!

The chefs normally sauté with butter, but they made a special batch using oil for Amelia and me (this was before we went oil-free). The Chana Masala was delicious, and I also learned how to make red roses from tomato peels in that class! (I can also make orange roses from peach and nectarine peels. They’re a fancy garnish.)

Amelia made our recipe oil-free and low-fat by sautéing with veggie broth instead of oil. This dish is a nutrition powerhouse with 15 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per serving. It’s also a quick and easy one-pot meal (not counting the brown rice, which we make in our pressure cooker).

This Vegan Chana Masala recipe makes 2 servings with 1 cup per serving. We usually eat a Hearty Side Salad with it.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.


Vegan Black Eyed Peas

Vegan Black Eyed Peas PinThis Vegan Black Eyed Peas recipe is one of my favorite dishes, even though I didn’t like black eyed peas before switching to a plant-based diet. Along with cucumbers, beets and onions, they’ve joined the growing list of foods that I didn’t like before, but love now.

Black eyed peas are loaded with protein, fiber and iron. One serving (about 1 cup) has 18 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber and 42% RDV of Iron with only 263 calories. That means this recipe is not only nutrient dense and filling, but it’s also relatively low calorie. That makes it a great weight loss recipe, too!

Black eyed peas are a staple in southern cooking. My mom’s side of the family comes from a small Missouri (pronounced Missour-a in my family) town so we know southern cookin’.

When I was a kid, mom always made black eyed peas on New Years day. It’s an old southern tradition that’s said to bring good luck throughout the year. Even though I hated black eyed peas back then, she still made me eat a spoonful…just in case.

Well, now I love them and Amelia is kind enough to make them for me on the regular. We normally eat them with a salad, but they would also pair well with another southern favorite, our Vegan Cornbread.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.


Vegan Refried Beans

Vegan Refried Beans PinAmelia’s Oil-Free Vegan Refried Beans are so good you won’t be able to stop eating them! They require very little effort to prepare and they’re amazingly delicious.

And did I mention they’re oil-free? That means no empty calories from oil, which is commonly added to canned refried beans.

This recipe calls for canned pinto beans, but it’s also delicious with black or canary beans.

If you’re using Dried Beans, soak them for at least 4 hours, then rinse and drain. Cook over low heat for about 2 hours in enough water to cover the beans. You want the beans to be soft. We usually do this the day before we want to make the refried beans so they’re good to go. You don’t need to rinse and drain your cooked beans…you can use the liquid from cooking previously for your refried beans.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.


Cauliflower Chickpea Buddha Bowl

Cauliflower Chickpea Buddha Bowl PinThis Cauliflower Chickpea Buddha Bowl recipe was inspired by a trip to a plant-based restaurant in Cuenca, Ecuador. It’s one of our favorite restaurants in Cuenca and they have several Buddha Bowls on their menu.

The co-owner and chef, Paul, backpacked throughout South America and ended up in Montevideo, Uruguay where he got a job as a chef in a plant-based restaurant. He returned to Cuenca with one of his co-workers and they opened their own plant-based restaurant called Café Libre. It’s what I would call gourmet vegan food (except for a couple of items that contain eggs).

Not only is the food delicious, it’s also presented in a way that is sure to draw your phone from your pocket so you can take a picture and share it with your friends on Facebook. It’s that good!

This Cauliflower Chickpea Buddha Bowl recipe is my own creation, made with some of my favorite ingredients and spices. Amelia usually makes our new recipes, but she put me in charge of the Buddha bowls since I love them so much.

We had some cauliflower that needed to be used so that’s where I started. Paul has a chickpea Buddha Bowl on the Café Libre menu and we had a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in the cupboard so that was ingredient number two.

We always have onions, garlic and chili peppers on hand so those were natural choices. I also like to add mushrooms for their chewy texture. Baby bellas are our favorite type and we usually have some of those in the fridge.

Swiss chard is a very nutritious dark leafy green, and recipes like this are a good way to add dark leafy greens to your diet. Kale, spinach or a combination would also be great. You could also skip the swiss chard and pair this with a dark leafy green Hearty Side Salad or a low calorie Spinach Salad.

Most of the time, we sauté with vegetable broth to reduce the calories (1 tablespoon has 120 calories) and also because oil isn’t a whole food. There is also a lot of evidence that oil may be as bad for our health as any other fatty food. Dr. Michael Greger thinks of “oil as the table sugar of the fat kingdom” and Mic the Vegan calls it the Vegan Killer.

From a calorie perspective alone, we think it’s worth avoiding oil if possible. And there’s absolutely no need to sauté with oil when steam frying with vegetable broth (or vegetable bouillon or water or wine) works just as well.

The remaining ingredients give the mixture its flavor and a lot of extra nutritional benefits. Lime is loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants. Apple cider vinegar has been shown to help with weight loss, turmeric has been shown to fight cancer and spices in general are loaded with antioxidants that have been shown to fight aging and all sorts of cancers.

I like a little sweetness to go with my spicy so I added some agave. Normally I would use maple syrup, but we didn’t have any (sniff sniff). You can skip this to reduce the calories and the liquid sugar. You can also skip the salt if that’s a concern (especially if you have high blood pressure or kidney disease), but it helps bring out the other flavors.

This is a great one-pot lunch recipe that you can make ahead of time and eat it cold or heat it up the next day. I made this a two serving recipe, but if you serve it over 3/4 cup of brown rice, you can get 4 servings out of it.

This Cauliflower Chickpea Buddha Bowl recipe is a nutrition powerhouse that’s loaded with healthy sources of protein, carbs and fat. It’ll keep you satisfied and powered until dinner. Enjoy!

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.