loaded sweet potatoes with spicy guacamole and black bean sofrito (vegan, dairy free, soy free, gluten free)

 

It always amazes me how hard it is to find a recipe that my entire family likes. I often get close with a 5 out of 6 thumbs up, but hitting a perfect score of 6 for 6 is maddeningly elusive. So imagine my surprise when this loaded sweet potato with spicy guacamole and black bean sofrito was a clear winner.

Even with my daughter who doesn’t usually like bean dishes. Or my boys who prefer mild to spicy. Let’s pause while I celebrate with a hearty “ole.”

 

 

I love the contrasting flavors, textures and color of this dish…the sweetness with the spicy, the creaminess punctuated with a light crunchiness, the deep orange flesh of the sweet potato with the brilliant green of the avocado.

This recipe is extremely easy to pull together and is simply packed plant-powdered nutrition. Let me break it down:

  • The sweet potatoes are high in fiber and vitamins like A, B6 and C and carry a low glycemic index. And did you know you can eat their skins? You can! Just scrub them well before baking. I thought it would be weird to eat sweet potato skin at first, but I really like it!
  • The black bean sofrito boosts the protein along with the fiber in this dish. I learned the secret of yummy black bean sofrito when I was on a mission trip to Panama earlier this year…at each lunch and dinner while we were in the mountains, beans would be served (along with rice and some meat). I couldn’t get over how good the beans tasted and had to know what made them so flavorful. When I tried it after I got back home, I was extremely pleased with the results.
  • For the spicy gucamole, I wanted to do more than simply give it some heat – I wanted to sneak in some extra nutrients too which I accomplished by adding spinach. Were my kids any wiser? Nope!

 

 

If you want to make this for a weeknight but anticipate being tight on time, bake your sweet potatoes ahead of time. Although the sofrito cooks up quickly, to make things speedier, you also could make it ahead of time. You’ll want to make the spicy guacamole fresh, though, but it will take less than 10 minutes. While you’re making the guac, you can be re-heating the potatoes and sofrito.

 

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loaded sweet potatoes with spicy guac and black bean sofrito
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 20 mins
 

A nutrient-dense meal that's easy to pull together and a beautiful contrast in flavors, texture and color.

Course: Appetizer, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 people
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 per person sweet potato, scrubbed
For the black bean sofrito
  • 3 cups black beans, cooked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dashes pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
For the spicy guacamole
  • 3 avocadoes, peeled and pitted
  • 4.5-6 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp, scant salt
  • 1/2 cup spinach, chopped fine
  • 1/3-1/2 cup jalapeno peppers, minced
  • dashes freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • dashes dried chili flakes, to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a knife then in a 375 degree F oven for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is very tender.

For the black bean sofrito:
  1. Add the onion, garlic and tomato to a pot with a little water and cook over high heat until the onion is translucent. Add more water if needed to prevent the vegetables from sticking.

  2. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer until the water is absorbed, using a potato masher to break up the beans slightly. For a creamier sofrito, add a little more water and adjust seasonings to taste.

For the spicy guac:
  1. Cut the avocado into a bowl and mash. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Make sure you save the avocado pit which can be added to any leftovers to prevent browning.

 

 

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

  • My daughter and I have a mild obsession with Jeff’s Natural’s jalapeno peppers which you can find here. Jeff uses purer ingredients than the canned kind and I love them in this spicy guacamole.

 

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.

 

 

 

building a better vegan BLT (+ VIP eggplant bacon recipe)

Today is National Sandwich Day. (Scratching my head over who comes up with these things, but we’ll run with it.) And what better way to celebrate than with a sandwich classic…the BLT? A vegan BLT.

Let’s dig in.

While it’s kind of hard to construct a bad BLT, there are a few tweaks you can try to make it even better both for taste and to give it a healthier nutrition profile. Here’s how:

 

  1. Start with whole wheat or whole grain bread. Whole wheat breads (and 100% whole grain breads are even better), give you the whole enchilada of fiber and nutrients and prevent sharp spikes in your blood sugar levels. They also add a nutty flavor to your sandwich. I also try to buy breads that are free of added sugars, additives and preservatives.
  2. Use red pepper hummus. Mayo – even vegan mayo – is rather empty on the nutrition side since it’s made mostly from fats. By using hummus (especially red pepper hummus), keeps your plant-protein game strong and is packed with other benefits like more iron, folate, B vitamins, fiber and vitamin C. Although hummus is incredibly easy to make, it’s also one of the rare go-to foods that I usually choose to buy instead of make – Sabra is my favorite brand.
  3. Add organic greens.  I reached for organic green leafy lettuce for this sandwich, but next time I would use organic spinach for its extra iron content. Buying organic for spinach is especially important since it ranks number 2 on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.
  4. Slice up organic tomatoes. Tomatoes rank number 10 on the Dirty Dozen list, so if you want to build a better BLT, go organic for the co-star of this sandwich.
  5. Stack on the eggplant bacon (VIP recipe alert!!). Sure, you could buy the processed vegan versions, but if you read those ingredients, I think you’ll agree they aren’t “better.” When I first went vegan, I made my peace about having my BLT’s without the “B” until I discovered “bacon bits” made from flaked coconut. While these somewhat worked as a substitute, they didn’t exactly cut the mustard. I think this eggplant bacon does. Not only can you make it look like strips of bacon, complete with crinkles, but I prefer the flavor and the texture.

 

 

The eggplant bacon is a VIP recipe reserved for the veggie-lovers on my newsletter list. If you want to get on the list and have the eggplant bacon recipe shipped to your inbox, click the button below. As an added bonus, you’ll never miss another recipe on Wildberry Press!

 

Last, but not least, don’t forget the pickles. What sandwich is complete without them? Apart from PB&J maybe. If you want to go better with your pickles too, look for brands that don’t include food dyes and other additives and preservatives found in most brands – especially the popular ones. Your best bet is to check the refrigerated section of your grocery store and it’s where I found a brand that is made here in Ohio and these are the ingredients: pickles, salt, dill, garlic and pickling spices. So simple. Why add anything else?

 

Now I want to hear from you…what is your favorite classic sandwich?

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

minestrone soup with sesame parmesan (vegan, dairy free, soy free)

(This post contains affiliate links which helps fund this blog but at no cost to you.)

With fall officially peeking around the corner and an early chill in the air – at least around here – I’m starting to crave  warm, comforting foods. Especially big pots of them for plenty of leftovers which matches with our busier back-to-school schedule. Like this minestrone soup.

I first came across this minestrone soup recipe in this cook book while I was trying to find more veggie-based recipes but before I went all in with a plant-based diet. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since.

One of the things I love about it is the subtle addition of zucchini. This is key when your garden produces monster-sized ones because you forgot to pick it (ahem). And when you are more of a zucchini liker than zucchini lovers. And in case you didn’t catch it, here’s a zucchini recipe I shared last week. The other thing I love is the use of rosemary – an herb I thought was a strange addition at first, but it definitely makes this soup sing.

 

I’ll warn you that although this minestrone soup is more labor intensive than many of my other soup recipes (like this one and this one), it’s completely worth it because of the quantity it makes and how well it freezes. If you have children who are able to handle a knife, have them help you with the chopping. Even a young child could help break the frozen green beans or help with the lettuce spinner for the spinach.

The original recipe called for using parmesan cheese. Since this wouldn’t fly for a vegan recipe, I whipped up some sesame seed parmesan which can be sprinkled on or stirred in (which also happens to boost the calcium and protein as well!). For those of you watching your fat intake (especially due to heart disease), you’ll be happy to know the soup is made without any oil and you can skip adding the parmesan altogether.

 

 

 

This soup tastes even better the second day because the flavors are able to develop. If it works, plan ahead and make it the day before you actually plan to eat it!

 

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Minestrone Soup with Sesame Seed Parmesan
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 30 mins
 

This soup is chock full of vegetables and herbs and tastes even better the second day after it's been made. The sesame seed parm is a nod to the traditional recipe and boosts the calcium and plant-protein and is just plain fun to sprinkle on.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the soup
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped carrots
  • 4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups finely diced tomatoes (or 1-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4.5 cups water
  • 2 small zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup green beans in 1" lengths
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped spinach
  • 2 cups beans (white or kidney)
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp crumbled rosemary
  • freshly ground pepper
For the sesame parm
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
Instructions
For the soup:
  1. Add the onion and garlic along with 1" water to a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until the onion is translucent, then add in the carrots, celery and tomatoes. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add all remaining soup ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45-minutes to 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender. Adjust seasonings as needed.

For the sesame parm:
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the sesame seeds are crumbly and look like parmesan cheese. Can be stored in an air-tight jar in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

Recipe Notes:

I prefer this soup with the vegetables (especially the tomatoes and zucchini) finely chopped - or in the case of the zucchini, shredded. This especially helps when serving it to children who tend to be suspicious of large chunks of vegetables - or adults who feel the same way. 😉

 

 

 

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

  •  Click here for my favorite mini food processor
  • I get both my nutritional yeast and sesame seeds in bulk at Whole Foods, but you also can find them here and here.

 

 

snack to school week :: more spinach trees! (nut free, sugar free, vegan)

As I was dreaming up this week of recipes for you, I had several goals in mind: the recipes had to be quick and easy to prepare, offered healthier, more nutrient-dense alternatives to typical kid-geared snacks and had an element of fun to entice tiny palettes.

When it comes to fruits and sweeter veggies like carrots, this isn’t so hard. But greens like spinach are another matter.

Which is why I’m so excited to share this recipe with you! I’m mildly obsessed with it and cannot believe I hadn’t thought of it before. It’s ridiculously easy, free of nuts, can also be make seed-free and takes an already healthy condiment to a new level.

Meet the “More Spinach Trees” snack.

You have two options for mixing up the spinach hummus dip. Either you can finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus for a leafy look.

Or place the hummus and spinach in a food processor and give it a whirl until the spinach is thoroughly incorporated and turns the hummus a light green color. While I love homemade hummus (you can find my favorite recipe here), I usually buy mine because it’s a time saver for me.

To assemble as the More Spinach Trees, slice some cucumber, spread on the spinach hummus dip and add a pretzel rod trunk. If you’re sending this to school, you can package each element separately and let your child assemble on their own. While it’s healthiest to leave the pretzel rods out all together, keep them in if it encourages your child to try the spinach hummus dip.

While I find it hard to notice a difference in taste or even texture when I’ve added the spinach, suspicious children may still balk at trying this (one of mine did). If that’s the case, start out with smaller amount and gradually increase it over time as they adjust to the new color.

If you try this, I would love to hear your feedback! Did your children like it? Or not?

 

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More Spinach Trees!

A fun and easy way to boost the nutrients in an already healthy snack and sneak some extra greens into your child's diet...and your own too!

Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup regular hummus of your choice
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed spinach
  • cucumbers, sliced
  • pretzel rods
Instructions
  1. For the "leafy" spinach hummus dip, finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus. For the blended green hummus, add the hummus and spinach to a food processor and blend the spinach breaks down and turns the hummus to a light green color.

  2. To assemble the "trees," spread the hummus on each slice of cucumber and place on a tray. Add a pretzel rod "trunk."

Recipe Notes

For pickier eaters, you may need to start off with smaller quantity of spinach and gradually work your way up. The spinach doesn't noticeably affect the taste or texture of the hummus, but the different appearance can cause little ones to be suspicious. 😉

One of the best tips for helping children accept vegetables and new flavors is one I encountered in a vegetarian cookbook several years ago: chop the veggies into smaller child bite-sited pieces. I’ve found I like doing this for myself too! For this dip, finely chop the spinach if you’re going to stir it in vs. blending it.

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I bought my pretzel rods at Trader Joe’s, but here’s a brand I like even better!
  • My go-to brand of hummus is made by Sabra which many grocery stores carry.