Easy Vegan Artichokes (Oil-Free)

Easy Vegan Artichokes PinThis Oil-Free Easy Vegan Artichokes recipe is super simple and absolutely delicious. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare the artichokes and another 20 to 30 minutes to steam them so they’re a great snack or appetizer to show off to your dinner guests.

Several years ago, long before we went Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB), Amelia tried to make some roasted artichokes but they came out tough as vegan leather. Since they were so expensive back in the states, we decided to not ruin any more perfectly good artichokes that someone else could prepare more successfully.

However, now that we live in Ecuador, the artichokes are much more affordable so I decided to give them another try. These artichokes cost us only 28 cents each! We already went back and bought 4 more after we made this delicious recipe!

The prep work is very easy. Just cut a little off the top and bottom of the artichoke, use a very sharp knife to cut them in half, and then scoop out the hairy fibrous material at the center. Steam them for 20 to 30 minutes until they’re nice and soft, then serve with some fresh squeezed lemon juice over them.

Easy Vegan ArtichokesA lot of people don’t know how to eat artichokes prepared this way, so here’s a quick tutorial. Peel off a leaf, hold the pointy end with your fingers and put the flat end in your mouth. Pull off the soft part at the base of the leaf with your teeth and enjoy. Once you get to the center, it’s all edible and delicious!

You can also scrape out all the good stuff and use it to make artichoke dip, but that would be very time consuming. We usually just by them frozen or canned for dip 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.

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Easy Vegan Lasagna (Overnight)

Easy Vegan Lasagna Overnight PinThis overnight Easy Vegan Lasagna was inspired by our other overnight Vegan Gluten Free Lasagna recipe, but with a few changes to make things easier and cheaper. However, you can mix and match the main ingredients depending on your taste preferences and the amount of work you want to put into it.

Lentil Ground “Beef”

Let’s start with the “meat” mixture. Our original recipe uses Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles as the meat substitute. This meat sub is tasty, but it’s not available everywhere and it’s also a processed food with added canola and sunflower oil. If you’re an oil-free eater, this won’t do.

Amelia made us a delicious Vegan Lentil Loaf awhile back, so that gave me the idea to use lentils as the ground beef substitute. And they work great! I cook them in our pressure cooker, but you can also boil them on the stove.

Our pressure cooker instructions say to cook them for 9 minutes, but we’re at high altitude so I cook them for 12 minutes. They need to be slightly overcooked and a little mushy so you can mash them into a ground beef texture. Then I stir fry them without oil or liquid in a large skillet to smash them up more and dry them out a bit to give them more of a ground beef look.

Our pressure cooker instructions also call for 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to keep the lentils from frothing too much and clogging the steam vent, but we never do this and haven’t had any issues. To keep this recipe oil-free, we recommend skipping the oil. You just may need to clean your pressure cooker steam vent more often.

Tofu Ricotta

Now for the Tofu Ricotta. Our original recipe uses Cashew Ricotta made from our Vegan Cashew Cream recipe. While this is less processed than tofu, cashews are also a lot more expensive. You can buy a package of organic tofu for less than $2, but it’ll cost you about $8 to buy enough cashews for this recipe. If you’re soy-free, you can swap the Tofu Ricotta with the Cashew Ricotta.

This recipe has quite a bit of salt so if you have heart disease or high blood pressure, please omit the salt. Salt substitutes are also best to be avoided if you have these health issues or kidney disease.

Tomato Sauce

Now for the sauce. Our original lasagna recipe uses our homemade spaghetti sauce for the lasagna sauce. This sauce is delicious, but it also takes quite a bit of extra ingredients and time to prepare. To keep things cheap and easy, we’re using jarred of spaghetti sauce in this new recipe. We recommend using a fat-free variety like Prego’s Lower Calorie Light Smart Traditional sauce. But you can always make your own sauce from scratch if you want to.

The Easy Vegan Lasagna Part

Finally, we made our original recipe gluten-free by using rice lasagna noodles, but we just used regular wheat noodles for this recipe. We prefer a whole-grain noodle, but those options are limited here in Ecuador. To make it gluten-free, just swap the noodles for your favorite gluten-free variety.

Since this recipe doesn’t use vegan cheese (which is mostly oil), it has more than 100 fewer calories per serving than our original recipe. It’s also oil-free since we’re using lentils instead of the beefy crumbles.

Easy Vegan Lasagna

Like our original recipe, this one is also “overnight” so you don’t have to cook the noodles. It only takes about 15 to 20 minutes of actual work to prepare this Easy Vegan Lasagna, which is nothing compared to a conventional, non-overnight lasagna. It makes 8 servings so you’ll have lots of leftovers (unless you’re feeding the whole family).

It’s also a great option to take to a friend’s house since you prepare it the day before and just pop it in the oven for about an hour before you’re ready to eat.

Enjoy with a simple side salad and some Vegan Garlic Bread. Save some sauce and heat it up on the stove to pour over the lasagna just before you serve it. We didn’t do that this time, but we will the next time we make 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.

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Easy Garden Salad

Easy Garden Salad PinI make this Easy Garden Salad every 3 to 4 days. It makes enough for 6 to 8 large salads so it saves a lot of time in salad prep. It’s also highly nutritious and checks off several of Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen boxes.

We used to make our salads individually, but we found that life often got in the way and we didn’t have time to make them. That’s when I came up with the idea to make a giant salad when I did have time, and store the ingredients in the fridge so they were ready when we wanted to eat them.

Save the scraps in a sealable container that you can keep in the freezer to make your Easy Vegetable Broth from Scraps. We have found that making our own veggie broth not only tastes better than store bought, it doesn’t contain oil or other preservatives, saves the packaging and makes great use of the scraps we were throwing away. We were using at least one veggie broth container per week so it saves us about $20/month.

Until recently, I put the greens and the toppings in the same container, but I found that all the tasty parts migrated to the bottom of the container making it difficult to dish out. To fix that issue, I now store the greens in a separate container from the colorful toppings.

When we’re ready to eat this delicious garden salad, we put a bunch of greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, arugula, mixed greens, lettuce, etc.) in a large bowl and then scoop out a cup of the rainbow and put that on top of the greens.

Our rainbow usually consists of carrots, cucumber, peppers, corn, beets, red cabbage, artichoke hearts (in water), hearts of palm, garbanzo beans, red onion and tomatoes. We also like Golden Berries (Uvillas or Peruvian Ground Cherries) that we get here in Ecuador. They’re a little yellow cherry tomato sized fruit with a citrus flavor.

Easy Garden Salad

Then we top the salad with nuts, seeds, olives and/or avocado for some healthy fats to help us get at all those fat soluble nutrients in the salad. You can also top your salad with some Tahini Salad Dressing or other nut or avocado based homemade salad dressings, but it’s best to avoid oil-based salad dressings because oil isn’t a whole food; it’s a processed refined fat.

We usually eat our salads with lime juice and some form of vinegar (rice wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar). Sometimes we use soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

Then we sprinkle our Easy Garden Salad with a generous amount of oregano and sometimes red pepper flakes and/or fennel seeds to get even more antioxidants.

Try different dark leafy greens, veggies and dressings in your salad to keep things interesting. According to Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Greger, Dr. Barnard, Dr. Kahn, Dr. Fuhrman and other plant-based doctors, we should all eat at least one large dark leafy green salad — every — single — day. So find things you like and try new things, too.

This recipe pairs well with any of our soups or sandwiches.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Tahini Stir Fry with Tofu

Tahini Stir Fry PinThis Tahini Stir Fry with Tofu recipe is one of our favorites stir fries. We used to eat this one almost every week because it’s fast, easy and flavorful. However, since I found out I still have high cholesterol, we’ve cut this one out for awhile.

We still eat stir fries similar to this one every week, but the tofu and tahini add 5 grams of saturated fat per serving, which is way more than I need to consume while trying to lower my cholesterol. It’s also not great for weight loss so if you’re trying to lose weight or lower your cholesterol, you’re better off eating our low-fat Easy Vegan Asian Stir Fry.

Greger might disagree with this advice, but I side with Esselstyn and Ornish on this one. They’re the experts in heart disease, which runs rampant in my family, along with cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity. With the deck stacked against me, Amelia and I have decided to err on the side of caution when it comes to foods high in saturated fat, like tahini.

With that said, the tofu in this recipe adds a nice meaty texture and contributes most of the 18 grams of protein. And it absorbs the flavors of the sauce and other ingredients so it’s very tasty. This recipe is also loaded with fiber, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

This is a nice one-pot meal (not counting the rice) so it’s also fast and easy to clean up.

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.

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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.

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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) no-oil 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.

This recipe pairs well with a nice Side Salad or some Corn Tortilla Corn Chips and Salsa.

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.

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Vegan Sweet and Sour Seitan with Veggies

Vegan Sweet and Sour Seitan PinThis Vegan Sweet and Sour Seitan with Veggies recipe is sweet, savory and delicious! It’s also a little spicy, thanks to the hot pepper Amelia added.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe in Dr. Esselstyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. I read Dr. Esselstyn’s book after discovering I still had high cholesterol after more than 2 years of eating a Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) diet. And I found this out on the same day my mom had a stent put in her heart to fix a large blockage. You can read more about this bad day in my blog post, “Can Vegans Get Heart Disease?

Dr. Esselstyn’s book is full of delicious, low-fat and oil-free recipes. It’s also full of scientific evidence showing that a WFPB diet is the only diet proven to prevent and reverse heart disease.

We modified this Vegan Sweet and Sour Seitan with Veggies recipe a little bit by using both broccoli and cauliflower, as well as a hot pepper that we got at our favorite mercado here in Cuenca, Ecuador. We also used a fresh pineapple instead of canned, which meant we had less juice than you get from canned pineapple. We added a tablespoon of brown sugar to make up for the missing sweetness. Finally, we changed the order of things a bit to make it a little quicker and easier to prepare.

It’s hard to find cornstarch here in Ecuador, so we use the widely available yucca powder as the sauce thickening agent. You can also use agar powder, tapioca powder or arrowroot. Use whatever you can find.

Try different veggies, using whatever you have on hand, or veggies that need to be used before they go bad. Being creative brings new and exciting flavors to recipes so they stay interesting.

We got our no-oil seitan from Fratello Vegan here in Cuenca, Ecuador. In addition to delicious vegan food made to order with a great view of the Tomebamba river, they also sell seitan, vegan chorizo sausage, vegan desserts and other vegan foods that can be hard to find in grocery stores.

While the plant-based and vegan movements are growing rapidly here in Ecuador, the grocery stores are still a bit behind the times. They do have some vegan options, but the selection is limited and often out-of-stock. It’s nice that Fratello is helping us to fill in the gaps.

Vegan Sweet and Sour Seitan Amelia Allergic ReactionAfter we ate this delicious meal, Amelia found out her pineapple allergy is still alive and well. Normally, cooking pineapple seems to make it safe for her to eat, but about 30 minutes after dinner, she broke out in hives all over her body. They lasted about an hour and then went away, thankfully.

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.

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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.

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