Category Archives: Plant Based Diet

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is notoriously unhealthy.  Loaded with mayonnaise and some other questionable ingredients it’s not something we really should be eating as it’s not the best thing for our bodies.  It is however something I adore and with the oppressive heat we’ve been living with for the last few days, I had a bit of a craving for it.  It’s one of those summer meals you eat at a picnic or on your back deck.  It’s something I knew I needed to make healthier if I was going to be able to indulge in it.

Yesterday after lunch I began the experiment and at dinner we sat down and feasted on the results.  My husband loved it, my son enjoyed it as well and I was able to satisfy my craving.  It was the perfect meal on a hot summer day.  If you have cookouts or BBQs ahead, give this a whirl.  I’ll be making it many times this summer as it was perfection and quite healthy too.  I hope you enjoy it as I did!


Pasta Salad:

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

  • 1 pkg mori nu silken tofu (soft)
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/8 of a tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp pickle juice {from a jar of dill pickles}

For the salad:

  • 1 jar of sliced olives {or 2 heaping handfuls}
  • 2 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • 1 jar of roasted red peppers {6 in total}
  • 1/3 c sun-dried tomato pieces
  • 1 box of whole wheat macaroni cooked and drained
  • the prepared dressing
Instructions:

  • In a food processor combine all of the ingredients for the dressing and process until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, combine the olives, chickpeas, red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and macaroni.
  • Add about 1/2 of the dressing and stir.  Assess the coverage and add more as needed.
  • Cover the salad and chill in the fridge until cool.
  • Enjoy!

Extra Information:

  • If you like red onions, they would go perfectly with this dish.  Dice one up and throw it in.  Raw onions and I are not friends so they are not included in my recipe.
  • You should have some dressing left over.  Put it in the fridge and use it on sandwiches or any other way you’d use mayo.  It should be good for a couple of days.
  • Feel free to mix things up and throw in whatever ingredients you would like to make it yours!
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Banana Muffins: Just like Grandma used to make.

Well almost.  They are almost like Grandma used to make.  I’ve replaced a few things, changed the recipe slightly and added some chocolate but let me tell you, Grandma’s essence is the heart of these addictive beauties.  I am absolutely delighted with the outcome of these muffins.

I started with my grandma’s recipe and tweaked some of the ingredients.  The result is a slightly healthier albeit equally delicious rendition of her recipe.  It’s so good.  If you have bananas that are soft, make these tonight!  Your breakfast tomorrow will be the best part of your day.

If you’ve noted the Thomas the Tank Engine wrappers please understand that I live with a two year old who is obsessed with trains and cars.  Imagine the devastation when he realizes we need to remove them in order to eat the muffins. 

Banana Muffins
just like Grandma made 

Ingredients:

  • 2 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 c soy milk
  • 3/4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 scant c unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  •  4 extremely ripe bananas
  • Optional: 1 c chocolate chips
Instructions:
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Line 2 muffin tins with liners.  Lightly spray each liner with cooking spray.
  • Cream bananas, sugars, applesauce, and vanilla.  Set aside. 
  • Combine soy milk with the apple cider vinegar to create sour milk.  Stir and set aside. 
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and corn starch. 
  • Alternating dry ingredients with the sour milk, add to the banana mixture and stir until just combined. 
  • If using the chocolate chips stir them in. 
  • Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. 
  • Enjoy! 
Extra Information:

  • This makes 24 good size muffins.
  • There are many add ins that would work with these.  I think walnuts would be delicious.  Some coconut or chopped dried fruit might be nice.  Anything your heart desires {and believes would go with banana} is a welcome addition.  Create your own masterpiece!  

Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

That name’s a mouthful, isn’t it?  This salad was thrown together tonight in a moment of desperation when I realized I was too late to begin my planned meal. The tomatoes were ripe on the counter, cucumbers fresh from the store and the honey from my farmer’s market was just crying out to be used.  It was delicious.

When the tomatoes are fresh and plentiful I tend to make use of them and this is one of my favorite ways.  Fresh tomato salad is refreshing, easy and quite attractive {if I do say so myself}.  Enjoy!

Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 english cucumbers
  • a small bunch of fresh basil
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
Instructions:
  • Chop your tomatoes into bite size pieces
  • Quarter your english cucumbers and chop into bite size pieces
  • Chiffonade your basil
  • Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and basil in a large bowl. 
  • In a small sauce pan bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil. 
  • Once it has reached a boil reduce heat and simmer.  
  • Add honey to the mixture and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. 
  • When the dressing is at the desired consistency remove from heat. 
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mixed until it’s coated. 
  • Enjoy!  

 Extra Information: 

  • This is a great side at a BBQ or an excellent quick dinner.  I often whip up a small salad just for lunch.  It’s so good!
  • If you don’t eat honey I’m sure agave nectar would work quite well.   I haven’t personally tried it but I’d be interested to know how it works. If you try it, let me know!
  • Just in case you don’t know what a chiffonade cut is, it’s essentially cutting your basil in ribbons.  I’m sure everyone knows that but I just wanted to clarify in case someone didn’t.  To make my life easier I stack all the basil, roll it tightly and then shave off tiny ribbons.  It’s much easier than chopping and looks quite pretty in salads and pastas.

Eating Clean!

I have some exciting news.  I’m being featured today on Tosca Reno’s blog about my plant based diet.  I’m thrilled to be part of the journey as she launches her new book, The Eat Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook.  I own every single copy of the the Eat Clean Series and I can honestly say her approach to food and eating has made a huge difference in my life {and I’m not paid to say that!}.

The blog I’ve written for her site talks a little bit about my weight loss journey, what we eat and how I got to where I am today.  I’m not quite finished my journey yet but am getting there as I continue to Eat Clean and try to be active.

Our house is a healthy one filled with diverse foods.  My son is a vegetarian, not a vegan so he does indulge in yogurt, milk and cheese.  My husband and I have chosen to be fully plant based but don’t feel bad for us as we don’t lack for diversity at all.  Our food is healthy, tasty and best of all packed with energy.

People often ask me what I eat because I don’t eat meat anymore and I’m always tempted to say ‘anything but meat!’.  There’s so much to choose from. With lentil soup, bean salad, tempeh tacos, homemade tofu nuggets and rice bowls in our repertoire I can honestly say that food is never boring in our home!

If you’d like to read more about my journey, join me here!

Here are a few of our favorite recipes if you’re looking for some inspiration:

  1. Kale Chips
  2. Healthy Whole Grain Pancakes
  3. Warm Spicy Carrot Soup
  4. Fat Free {almost} Chocolate Chip Cookies
  5. Homemade Trail Mix

I {heart} Kale

I’m seriously in love with Kale right now.  We use it in everything from salads to smoothies and it brings a smooth flavor to whatever we’re cooking.  Last week we had quite a few small bunches left the night before we were headed to the farmers market and I decided to make some Kale chips to use them up.  Kale chips are delicious.

If you’re looking for a kid/adult friendly way to include more greens in your diet, Kale chips may be the answer for you.  They take an already tasty veggie and crunch it up.  You get crunch, nutrition and some fun at dinner.  It’s a win/win in my book.

My recipe is simple and somewhat vague.  I’ve included step by step pictures so that you can see it’s an inexact but ridiculously easy process and one I highly recommend attempting!

Kale Chips:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small bunches or 2 large ones.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425. 

Clean the kale very well taking care to remove the tough woody stems from the leaves.  Break the leaves down into smaller pieces and place them in a bowl.  If the leaves are too wet at this point dry them a little before placing them in the bowl.   

This is how my leaves looked at this point.  Once your leaves are prepared, mix the olive oil and soy sauce together and then drizzle over the leaves.  Lightly toss with your hands to ensure the mixture is evenly distributed.  Place the leaves on your pan.  It should look like this:

I know the pan looks too full but trust me, it’s not.  The leaves shrink and everything will be fine.   Place your pan in the oven for 12-13 minutes.  After the alloted time remove pan from the oven.

Evenly distribute the leaves on the pan and place back in the oven for an additional 12-13 minutes.  When you remove the Kale chips from the oven a second time, check to ensure that they are cooked and crunchy.  If not, cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Transfer the chips into a bowl and lightly sprinkle onion powder and garlic powder over them.  I use a very small amount of onion powder and a slightly larger amount {though still small} of garlic powder.  The important thing to remember is to start small and taste as you go.  You do not want too much of either.  Gently toss the chips and serve!

Extra Information:

I don’t oil my pan as I have an old, beat up pan that I use for things like this.  The kale really doesn’t stick and if a few pieces do I can usually scrub them off with little to no effort.  If you are using a nice pan I would lightly spray it to ensure ease of cleaning.

You may find you have too much kale depending on the size of your bunches.  If I have a bit too much for the bowl or pan I’m using, before I drizzle the oil on I rescue a couple of handfuls and refrigerate them until I need them.  They keep very well and are quite handy once cleaned and prepped.

Hearth & Soul Hop

Grilled Hummus Wrap

We love hummus in this house.  I’m fairly certain if I gave my son hummus for breakfast he would be the happiest person in the world.  We eat a lot of it because it’s healthy, quick and so versatile.

Lately I’ve grown weary of the standard hummus, cracker and cut vegetable lunch my son favors.  I wanted something different, a little more grown up and this  wrap was the result.  It’s a grown up lunch and takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.  It’s fantastic.

If you’re in the market for a different lunch give this a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Grilled Hummus Wrap:

Ingredients:

  • One 10″ whole wheat tortilla
  • Hummus (I use light hummus but anything would work)
  • Sundried tomatoes.  These can be packed in oil or not according to your preference.
  • 1/2 of a roasted red pepper
  • a handful of baby romaine lettuce
  • 6 small olives cut in half. I like the olives stuffed with jalapenos but again according to your preference here.
  • 6 slices of english cucumber

Instructions:

  • Lay your tortilla flat and cover the about 2/3 of it with hummus.  Definitely hit the middle 1/3 and then move outwards until a fair amount is covered.
  • Lay the english cucumbers on top of the hummus in a strip from the top in a row of 4 with 2 on top of that row.
  • Lay the red pepper on top of the cucumbers.
  • Sprinkle with sundried tomatoes and olive halves.
  • Spread the romaine evenly on top of the wrap
  • Fold up the bottom half and then fold each side in on top of each other.  To aid in making sure my wrap stays together I always add a little hummus to the side that will be on top to make it a little sticky.
  • Place in your panini press and grill until golden brown and warmed through.
  • Enjoy!

Extra Information:

  • If you make this on the stove in a grill pan or frying pan you’ll have to grill it upside down to make sure the wrap seals before flipping it.  Because of this I would warn you not to overstuff the wrap as it can be disastrous {speaking from experience!}.
  • You could mix things up with other things you like.  When I don’t have roasted red peppers on hand, pepper strips work well.  I also enjoy adding basil and other seasonings from time to time.  The possibilities are endless!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge {dairy free}

Lately I’ve been dreaming of fudge.  The chocolate the melts in your mouth and contains loads of butter and milk.  The kind that is delicious and whipped up by my mother in her kitchen.  You know the kind I’m talking about.  Sadly as I no longer eat butter or milk I can’t indulge in my Mom’s recipe.  Also I’m exhausted after church on Sundays so when I want a treat it has to be easy.   This is my easy, lazy fudge.  So good!  Dairy free!  It’s probably something I shouldn’t eat every day but I figure once in a while won’t likely hurt me.  There are four ingredients and it takes about 20 minutes to pull it all together.   After a couple of hours in the fridge you’ll find yourself with a nice soft fudge square.  Life couldn’t be sweeter.

Cheater Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 3 c chocolate chips {we used dairy free}
  • 1 c natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp soy milk

Instructions:

  • Grease a 9×9 cooking pan.  Set aside.
  • Combine the cornstarch and 2 tbsp of soy milk in a small bowl until smooth.  Set aside.
  • Combine the chocolate chips, peanut butter and remaining soy milk in a sauce pan.
  • Melt the mixture over medium-low to medium heat until smooth and lump free.
  • Add the cornstarch mixture to the chocolate and stir until completely combined and the mixture is smooth again.
  • Remove from heat and beat the mixture by hand until it thickens {approximately 10 minutes or so}
  • Pour the mixture into a pan and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  • Enjoy!

Extra Information:

  • This isn’t your typical hard fudge.  It’s a smooth soft fudge that cuts well and you can definitely get pieces of it to serve individually.
  • This is extremely decadent.  Very little is needed to satisfy a chocolate craving.  If you freeze it you can enjoy some as needed.
  • I used the Enjoy Life brand of chocolate chips.  They are delicious!  If you can get your hand on a bag, try them.  You won’t regret it.