his ‘n hers secret ingredient vegan black bean chili

 

Before I adopted a plant-based diet, there were some dishes that I never made with meat. Like pasta sauce (here’s my go to recipe). And chili.

Not sure why, but for some reason, I never liked the addition of meat in these dishes. However, once I went all in on the vegan eating, I knew I had to pay more attention to my protein sources.

 

Let’s pause a minute on this while I clear up the myth that you can’t get “enough” protein on a plant-based diet…

  • First, all plants have protein, though some have more than others (think nuts, legumes, beans, lentils).
  • Secondly, our bodies don’t store protein and will eliminate the excess or turn it into fat.
  • Therefore, there’s absolutely no point in consuming more than your body will use for that day. For example, 1 cup of cooked, chopped chicken has about 43 grams of protein. That’s only 3 grams shy of the recommended daily requirement for the average woman. So unless our lady eats almost nothing else the rest of the day, she’ll be consuming way more protein than is needed.
  • By comparison, I reach a third of my daily requirements with a thoughtful, 100% plant-based breakfast. Combine that with lunch, dinner and snacks, I rarely have an issue meeting my daily requirements unless I’ve skimped on the nuts and beans.

 

Which brings me to this secret-ingredient vegan black bean chili.

 

 

Beans are excellent sources of plant-based protein, but I wanted to dot my protein “i’s” and “t’s” in this dish and add a little more. Plus I wanted to give the appearance that meat was present to appeal to meat eaters. Like my husband.

So what’s the secret ingredient in this secret-ingredient vegan black bean chili? Walnuts! Finely chopping the walnuts with some garlic and onion powders and sage in a food processor or blender makes it look like I’ve added ground meat into my chili. Genius, right?!

But wait, there’s a second secret ingredient too…chocolate!

It may sound weird, but trust me on this. The chocolate tangos with the chili powder to deepen the flavor, plus it’s a superfood that has won many a woman’s heart so of course it needs to go there.

And there you have it. The his ‘n hers secret ingredient vegan black bean chili.

Let’s get cooking!

 

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his 'n hers secret ingredient vegan black bean chili
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 25 mins
 

This protein-packed chili has two secret ingredients to appeal both to him and to her.

Course: Entree
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 3 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup veggie stock
  • 4.5-6 cups black beans
  • 2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 7-8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Tbsp chili powder
  • 3 tsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp oregano
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3-4 dashes onion powder
  • 3-4 dashes garlic powder
  • 1-2 dashes ground sage
Instructions
  1. If you're cooking your own black beans, do so according to package directions. I usually soak mine in cold water overnight, rinse then add to a fresh pot of boiling water and boil for about 115-20 minutes. Then I turn off the heat and soak for several more hours.

  2. If you want the walnuts more tender, soak them for 30 minutes in water that been just boiled.

  3. Add the onion, garlic and peppers to a large stock pot along with the veggie stock over high heat. Saute about 5 minutes or until the veggies start to become tender.

  4. Add tomatoes and spices. (Hint: I like using the 1 cup of water to rinse out the cans and add it into the chili pot - it helps prevent waste that way!)

  5. Add cooked beans.

  6. For the walnuts, add to a food processor or blender along with garlic and onion powders and sage and pulse until the walnuts are finely chopped. Then add to the chili.

  7. Bring the chili to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about one hour to let the flavors develop.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES: This chili tastes even better on the second and third day as the spices work themselves through. It also freezes well!

 

 

 

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weeknight spinach tikka masala (vegan, dairy free, gluten free, soy free)

My love for Indian food – especially south Indian – has grown over the years and my favorite go-to curry sauce is this one. It’s one of the often-requested dishes from my boys (although they like chicken to go along with it…sigh). But, my girl…she’s a tough one! So far I haven’t won her over to that recipe, so you could have knocked me over with a feather when she actually liked this one. Praise the Lord.

If you’re looking for a quick-ish fresh meal to make and one that rocks leftovers – this one is it!

 

 

The sauce is the epitome of comfort food, Indian-style, with its warming spices and rich creaminess of the coconut milk. It gets an added nutrition boost from quick-cooking red lentils, which makes them ideally suited for weeknights, and freshly chopped spinach. It can be spooned over chickpeas or quinoa for added plant-protein or served traditionally with rice (brown is best). For our meal, I served it with oven roasted broccoli and green beans since those are two family favorites, but you can easily adapt your veggie add-ons to suit your tastes. Weeknight tip: use frozen veggies to save on chopping time!!

 

 

For a quick weeknight meal, I recommend following the preparation steps outlined in the recipe. Alternatively, you could prep the sauce ahead of time and simply re-heat when ready to serve.

 

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weeknight spinach tikka masala

Warm comfort food designed for weeknights and made for leftovers.

Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 6 people
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the tikka masala sauce
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 tsp freshly minced ginger or 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
For the rest of the dish:
  • chickpeas, quinoa or rice
  • veggies of choice
Instructions
  1. If you are serving with brown rice and don't have a rice- or pressure cooker, put a pot of water on to boil (like you would for pasta) and turn on the oven to 350 degrees F. If you are serving with quinoa, rinse thoroughly and add to pot with water. For less mushy quinoa use a scant 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. For example, if you're cooking one cup of dried quinoa, add only 1 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Cooks in about 10 minutes.

  2. Spread your veggies on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven. Rinse lentils thoroughly and set aside.

  3. Begin to chop the veggies for the tikka masala sauce. If cooking rice, at whatever point in this process your water starts to boil, add in the rice and cook uncovered as you would pasta. Set the time for 23 minutes.

  4. Finish preparing the tikka masala sauce and add in the lentils. Bring the sauce to a boil, cover the pot, then reduce to a simmer.

  5. Chop spinach and take a peek at your veggies in the oven. When they start to brown slightly, turn the oven off. Keep them in the oven until ready to serve so they stay warm.

  6. When the timer beeps, test your rice for doneness, then either allow to cook for another minute or two or drain immediately and return to the pot.

  7. When the lentils are fully cooked (about 10-15 minutes), add in the spinach and cilantro and stir to combine.

  8. To serve, add quinoa/chickpeas/rice to a bowl along with the veggies and spoon the sauce over top.

  9. 9) Store leftovers in the fridge for up to several days or freeze for later.
Recipe Notes

Recipe Notes

  • I prefer buying my broccoli and green beans frozen to save me a step.
  • If you want leftovers, I recommend doubling the sauce recipe.

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • I’m able to buy my broccoli organically and in bulk from BJ’s (a wholesale club). If you don’t have a wholesale club membership and want to check BJ’s out, click here to get details on a membership (if you sign up we both get $25!!). Or, if you’re not sure if a wholesale club membership is worth it, you can download an article here where I share my experience and steps in evaluating whether a membership made sense for us.
  • You should be able to find canned full-fat coconut milk in most grocery stores. I buy either the Thai Kitchen brand or Whole Foods 365 coconut milk (which is better since their cans are BPA free!). However, if you can’t find it, try here.
  • I get my red lentils in bulk from Whole Foods, but you also can find them here.
  • I love Trader Joe’s frozen french-style green beans which is what I used here.

 

 

 

vegan italian sausage soup (dairy free, soy free)

 

Last week, I shared my basic veggie stock recipe with you. Today, I’m giving you the perfect recipe to try it out with: vegan Italian sausage soup.

When I first decided to go all in with a plant-based diet, I immediately thought of ways to replace meat-based dishes with vegan versions that closely approximated those flavors and textures I was used to. But when I started experimenting with new-to-me-foods like TVP, seitan and pre-packaged vegan “meats,” I wasn’t too thrilled with the results. You see, my goal in adopting this new diet was to get healthier and eating a lot of wheat-based and processed foods didn’t feel like it would help me reach this goal.

So I tabled those foods and beefed up on the veggies and whole foods. It’s a food philosophy I continue to maintain with the occasional exception. Like this vegan Italian sausage soup.

The credit goes to my mom for finding a non-vegan version of this soup, but adapting it using vegan italian sausages created by Field Roast. (BTW, this isn’t a sponsored post.)

 

 

The thing I love about these sausages is the flavor dimension they bring to this soup…I’m not sure it would taste the same without them! I also love that the ingredients are straight-forward and consists mostly of foods I can find in my own kitchen, like eggplant, red bell pepper, garlic and onion.

As with many soups, this recipe comes together easily. Since it’s ready in about 30 minutes, it makes it perfect for hectic weeknights when you’re in a time crunch to get dinner on the table.

 

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vegan italian sausage soup
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

When you want a soup with a little "meatiness" to it, this vegan italian sausage soup is the answer. It's also perfect for hectic weeknights since it comes together in less than 30 minutes.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 people
Ingredients
  • 2-4 links Field Roast Italian sausage, sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 29 ounces sodium free veggie stock
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dashes freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup pasta of choice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add onion and garlic to a large saucepan with a little water and saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. If desired, finely chop tomatoes before adding them along with the remaining ingredients with the exception of the pasta (if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add pasta if using, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

roasted carrot coconut ginger soup (vegan, dairy free, gluten free, soy free)

This roasted carrot coconut ginger soup absolutely hollers “fall” doesn’t it?

The bright orange color. The roasted root vegetables. The richness of the coconut milk and comforting heat of the ginger. Then add a sprinkle of spicy sweet pumpkin seeds and this is a meal and the sings. The inspiration for this soup came from similar versions I’ve seen in stores. But my version comes without the added oils that most store-bought varieties include and cutting back on added oils = a healthier you.

There are two extremely important lessons I learned when making the soup: 1) peel the carrots before roasting them. I merely scrubbed them to leave the nutrient-rich skin in tact, but found it gave a bitter overtone to the soup.

 

 

2) Be extremely careful if you puree hot soup in a blender. I overfilled mine to “speed up” the blending step which resulted in a big mess and a couple burns on my skin. Yep. Big time blender fail.

 

 

Also, when I made this soup, I pureed the roasted carrots, onions and ginger with the coconut milk and then put in my stock pot along with the water, seasonings and lentils.

 

However, you could try adding everything to the stock pot, bringing it to a boil, then simmering for at least 30 minutes before blending it. Doing it this way would save you an extra step.

If you want to serve your soup with the spicy sweet pumpkin seeds – something I highly recommend! – you can get that recipe when you purchase a copy of the Perk Up Your Pantry – Fall edition recipe ebook. Not only does it include the spicy sweet pumpkin seeds, but you’ll get:

  • 5 essential sauce recipes
  • 5 essential snack recipes
  • 5 easy main dish recipes
  • 3 fall-inspired bonus recipes
  • A shopping list of all ingredients

PLUS you’ll receive two bonus items: a meal prep tip sheet and a meal plan tip sheet which includes a suggested meal plan featuring the recipe in the Fall Perk Up Your Pantry recipe book. All for only $8! Click here to buy it now.

 

 

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roasted carrot coconut ginger soup
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 15 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 

A soup that absolutely hollers, "fall." From it's bright orange color, warming heat and rich creaminess, it a perfect recipe to celebrate the season.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 8-10 medium carrots, peeled, cut in half
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 14-oz can full fall coconut milk
  • 1/5-2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup red lentils, well rinsed
  • 4 cups water
Instructions
  1. Place carrots cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet (avocado oil recommended) or one lined with parchment paper along with onions and garlic. Roast in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until carrots get a slight char on their cut sides.

  2. Remove from oven and add all ingredients to a stock pot, bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked and carrots are very soft.

  3. Using a blender stick or traditional blender, carefully puree soup until very thick and smooth. Serve immediately or store in fridge for a day or two to let flavors further develop.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES:  Serve with spicy sweet pumpkin seeds for a fun twist and added crunch (in place of crackers)

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • You should be able to find canned full-fat coconut milk in most grocery stores. I buy either the Thai Kitchen brand or Whole Foods 365 coconut milk (which is better since their cans are BPA free!). However, if you can’t find it, try here.
  • I get my red lentils in bulk from Whole Foods, but you also can find them here.

cabbage rolls (vegan)

100_1435

Despite the warmer weather today, I know we’re not quite in the clear yet…a few weeks of wintery weather may still be upon us. Which means there will be many days left which call for the warming dishes of comfort food.

Last week, I turned to my quarter-Polish roots to prepare a vegan twist on the traditional cabbage roll. For  the longest time, this was one dish that I never warmed up to until recently. I think it was the unusual color + size of the cabbage leaves that was a turn off.

But ever since I learned more about my great-grandparents who emigrated from Poland to Canada in the late 1920’s, my appreciation (and apparently, appetite) for this part of my heritage has grown. nanpics

Traditionally, cabbage rolls are prepared with ground pork, salt pork or ground beef combined with rice and onions. This recipe is based on the one my mother gave me, but I incorporated some coconut bacon to approximate the flavor of salt pork.

Despite the length of prep and cook time, this dish is simple to prepare.

cabbage rolls1

So, what kind of dishes have you grown to love?

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the vegan cabbage rolls recipe
CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the coconut bacon recipe

 vegan cabbage rolls

Prep Time: 90 minutes

Cook Time: 2-3 hours

Keywords: bake saute entree gluten-free nut-free soy-free vegan vegetarian whole grain cabbage rice tomato sauce lentils

Ingredients

  • 1 cabbage head, core removed
  • 1 c. brown rice (organic is best)
  • ½ c. brown lentils
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. coconut bacon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3-4 cups tomato sauce

For the Coconut Bacon (makes more than needed for the cabbage rolls- save the extra for other recipes!)

  • 2 cups large, flaked coconut, unsweetened
  • 3 T coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • ½ tsp. pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions

Cook rice in 1 ¾ c. water until liquid is absorbed. In a separate pot, cook lentils in 1-1 ¼ c. water until tender.

Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in dairy free butter until tender; set aside.

To prepare cabbage leaves: place cabbage head in a large pot of boiling water. Use tongs to remove leaves one at a time as they become softened and loose (about 20-30 seconds between each leaf layer). Set aside.

When rice and lentils are cooked, combine, then mix in coconut bacon and seasonings.

Depending on the leaf size, spoon ¼-1/2 c. of rice/lentil mixture into each leaf. Fold in bottom and top and then roll closed.*

Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with tomato sauce and place rolls seam side down into dish (you can do this as you roll each one). When all the rolls are prepared, pour remaining sauce over the rolls until they are almost completely covered.

Cover with foil and place in a 325 degree F oven and bake for 2-3 hours, turning down the temperature if needed to prevent burning. The rolls are cooked when most of the tomato sauce is absorbed.

for the Coconut Bacon

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Mixing by hand can help the liquids coat the coconut.

Let the mixture stand a few minutes while oven preheats to further aid absorption.

Spread coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake 7-8 minutes, remove pan from oven, stir, then return pan oven.

Bake an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring once or twice to help coconut bacon cook evenly.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Recipe Notes

Depending on the size of your cabbage leaves, you will need anywhere from 12-18 leaves for this recipe. You can use the remainder of the cabbage in other recipes.

Cabbage rolls are formed similar to burritos or spring rolls. There are online tutorials of how to roll them if you are unsure of the correct method.

Carefully monitor the level of the tomato sauce, especially as the cooking time approaches the two hour mark

For the coconut bacon, you can use tamari or soy sauce in place of coconut aminos, but you will need to adjust the salt content. I like using coconut aminos because it is free of additives often found in soy sauce and tamari and it has a lower sodium content. Vitacost.com* offers a great price per bottle.

I use Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke because it is one of the few liquid smoke brands that is free of sugar and other additives.

*Clicking this link gives me credit to Vitacost’s Refer-a-Friend program

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skillet pot pie (gluten free option)

100_1058Every year the  Dairy Farmers of Canada release a free calendar featuring recipes starring one or more dairy products. The Milk Calendar is a fixture on my parents’ fridge. Even though they no longer eat dairy. But it’s an endearing tradition and I always look forward to flipping through it.

While I cringe at the propaganda that continually tries to convince the public that eating dairy is a good and essential thing to do (it’s not), a few of the calendar’s recipes can be adapted to suit a vegan diet. One of the recipes my mum tried years ago was the Milk Calendar’s Turkey Pot Pie. It was an instant hit in our family.

I’ve been making the same recipe for years for my own family, although I had taken out the turkey even before changing my diet. Once I eliminated dairy from diet, I further modified the recipe to incorporate plant-based milk and butter.

Traditionally, I’ve made this recipe in a casserole dish, but decided to change things up and make it in one of our cast iron skillets.

No skillet? No worries. Simply cook in a regular pot, then transfer the filling to a casserole dish and top with the crust. It’s as easy as…pie.

spp

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Skillet Pot Pie Recipe

Skillet Pot Pie

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

Cook Time: 45-55 minutes

Keywords: bake saute entree casserole gluten-free nut-free vegan sugar-free potato carrot peas mushroom

    For the Filling

    • 2 cups diced organic potatoes*
    • 2 cups sliced carrots
    • 1 medium-small onion, minced
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 1 cup diced mushrooms
    • 1/4 red pepper, finely minced
    • 1 cup peas
    • 1 cup organic corn
    • 1 tsp tapioca flour or organic cornstarch
    • scant 1/4 cup flour of your choice, gluten free if needed*
    • 1/2 cup unsalted veggie stock
    • 1 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk*
    • 1/2-3/4 cup water
    • 1/2 tsp. thyme
    • 1/2-1 tsp salt
    • dashes of pepper and turmeric

    For the Crust

    • 1 cup flour of your choice, gluten free if needed*
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 T parsley
    • 1/2 c. of unsweetened dairy-free milk, chilled*
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/3 c. organic dairy-free butter, chilled*
    • 1/2 tsp. xantham gum if using gluten-free flour
    *see Recipe Notes for details

    Instructions

    For the Filling

    Par boil diced/chopping potatoes and carrots until just fork tender. Par boiling saved cooking time and ensures the potatoes and carrots will cook properly.

    Meanwhile, in the skillet, saute onion and garlic in a little veggie stock until onions begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and red pepper and saute until the vegetables are tender. Add more stock as needed to prevent the liquid from boiling away.

    Stir in tapioca and flour until thoroughly mixed, then pour in stock, milk and water and bring to a boil while stirring frequently to prevent the flour from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

    Once the mixture boils, add thyme, salt, pepper and turmeric and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Cool the filling, then add potatoes, carrots, peas and corn.

    For the Crust

    Mix together the flour, baking powder, parsley and salt. Cut in chilled butter until the mixture has crumbs the size of peas. Pour in milk and gently stir to combine. Drop by the spoonful over the filling.

    To Bake

    Place skillet in an oven warmed to 375 degrees and bake 45-55 minutes or until the filling is warmed through and the crust is baked. To prevent the crust from burning, you might need to cover the skillet loosely with foil for the last 10-15 minutes of baking. Placing a large baking sheet on a rack below the skillet is recommended to catch any drips from the filling as it likes to bubble over the pan.

    Recipe Notes

    Using organic vegetables is always best, especially for the potatoes (due to pesticides) and corn (because of GMO). If using soy-based dairy substitutes, it’s best to use organic because of GMO.

    I found cooling the filling mixture before adding the potatoes, carrots, peas and corn helps the peas retain a bright green color instead of turning an unappealing grayish green.

    For the filling, I used organic brown rice flour and unsweetened organic soy milk. For the crust, I used equal parts organic brown rice flour and whole wheat pastry flour, unsweetened organic soy milk and Smart Balance organic dairy-free whipped buttery spread.

    Since the crust is unfussy (more of a biscuit, really), feel free to experiment with your favorite blend of flour. However, its best to add xantham gum if going completely gluten free.

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