sweet potato & lentil soup (vegan, oil-free)

2009-01-19 17.49.37The first vegan cookbook I ever purchased was Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson*. It was during the season in my life that my oldest son likes to refer to as “the time when we weren’t eating healthy.” I refer to it as the time when I didn’t realize the benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

But the Lord knew He would bring me to this place, so He gradually encouraged me to go meat-free on more than just Monday. I started by exploring vegan and vegetarian cookbooks in our local library until I stumbled upon Vegan Planet*.

One of my favorite recipes from the book is Robin’s “Indian-spiced Lentil Soup” on page 78.

Although soups are most often thought of in the fall and winter, I make them year round. Especially when spring shows its chillier side.
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100_1757And I think this soup is especially spring-like with the bright addition of cilantro, an herb that flourishes in cooler temperatures.

2009-01-19 17.12.30Spring, summer, fall, winter, here is my version of this sweet potato lentil soup.

swplentilsoup CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the sweet potato lentil soup recipe

sweet potato lentil soup

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 60-70 minutes

Ingredients (6-8)

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled & diced
  • 1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ cups dried brown lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, minced
  • ½-3/4 tsp. salt
  • Dashes of pepper

Instructions

In a stock pot, sauté onions, celery and garlic in a little water until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes)

Add sweet potatoes and sauté 5 minutes more.

Add water, tomatoes and seasonings except the cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 50 to 55 minutes until the lentils and sweet potato are cooked through.

Add cilantro and cook 10 minutes more.

Recipe Notes

As with most soups, this one tastes even better the second day when the flavors have fully developed.

This soup freezes well, so make some extra and keep on hand when you need a meal in a pinch.

 *I am an Amazon associate. If you purchase the cookbook through this link, it will provide a small credit to my account.

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cabbage rolls (vegan)

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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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marinara sauce for pasta or pizza, oil & sugar free

100_0929For the longest time I could not bring myself to eat pasta with sauce on it.  Chalk it up to getting the flu after eating spaghetti for dinner. Instead, I requested my spaghetti be served with Italian Salad Dressing.

Years went by until I worked up the nerve to start eating pasta with a little bit of sauce, but it wasn’t until I went to Venice, Italy as a senior in high school that I finally understood why people love pasta.

I started making my own sauce a few years ago when I switched to eating vegan and also cutting back on oils (most store bought sauces contain oil and many also contain sugar). The inspiration for this recipe comes from the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease book which also inspired my change in diet.

Since we are a family of six and this sauce freezes well, I make a large quantity. That way, I only need to prepare this about once a month. It makes enough to fill about five large mason jars plus a few smaller jars for pizza sauce.

When I don’t have tomatoes on hand from my garden, my favorite brand of canned tomatoes are Muir Glen’s organic diced or whole tomatoes because 1. they’re organic and 2. Muir Glen took the BPA out of their can lining. Thankfully, I can buy these in bulk at BJs to save money.

marinara sauce collage

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the marinara sauce recipe

oil & sugar free marinara sauce for pasta or pizza

Prep Time: 10-20 minutes

Cook Time: at least 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-small onions, diced
  • 15-20 medium-large garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 28-oz. canned tomatoes
  • ½ c. fresh basil
  • 3 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Dashes freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 6-oz cans tomato paste (optional)

Instructions

In a large stock pot, sauté onions and garlic with a little water to prevent the vegetables from sticking.

Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, blend tomatoes in batches to desired sauce consistency.

Add blended tomatoes to stock pot along with other ingredients except the tomato paste.

Simmer at least 30 minutes or longer to let flavors develop.

For pizza sauce, set aside several cups of the pasta sauce and stir in tomato paste until thoroughly combined. Doing so in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat helps with this process.

Recipe Notes

I use Muir Glen’s organic whole or diced tomatoes and blend them to a fairly smooth consistency.

Garlic is the key to a tasty sauce, but if you’re not a big fan of garlic, start with a slightly smaller quantity.

This recipe makes a lot and it freezes well. One batch usually yields enough sauce for 3-4 pasta meals plus 3-4 pizzas.

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kashmiri curry stir fry

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In December, we watched The Hundred Foot Journey, a story about an Indian family who reestablishes their family restaurant in France after a tragedy in their homeland. It’s also a story about a love for food and the nuances of putting together a dish and how strongly a meal can evoke memories of ones loved and gone. Perhaps, it’s no mystery then of why Jesus had us remember His sacrifice with bread.

kahmiri sauce

And though this recipe could not do justice to a traditional Indian curry, I find it rather tasty. I took inspiration from this curry sauce, added my own twist, and poured it over a stir fry for Christmas Eve. (Hint: Naan bread is an excellent companion to this meal, perhaps even essential for sopping up the sauce. My husband used this recipe to make our naan bread, but subbed in vanilla soy yogurt and soy butter so I could eat it.)

For the stir fry, simply choose a selection of vegetables you like best paired with a side of rice, if desired. For a more authentic taste, I suggest tucking in cauliflower, peas and potatoes.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Kashmiri Curry Sauce Recipe

kashmiri curry stir fry

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Keywords: saute stir-fry entree gluten-free nut-free soy-free vegan paleo sugar-free coconut milk tomatoes Indian

Ingredients

    for the stir fry

    • selection of fresh vegetables (suggest cauliflower, peas, butternut squash, potatoes, onion, garlic, green beans)
    • coconut oil
    • rice

    for the kashmiri curry sauce

    • 2 small or 1 large onion
    • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
    • 1 14.5-oz. can full fat coconut milk
    • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tsp. cilantro, minced
    • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
    • 3/4 tsp. salt
    • 2 tsp. red chili powder
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1/2 tsp. garam masala
    • 2 tsp. corriander
    • 1 tsp curry

    Instructions

    for the stir fry

    If using, cook the rice according to package directions.

    Dice onions and chop remaining ingredients (except peas, if using) into bite sized pieces. Rinse.

    Heat oil in a wok or large skillet until it begins to smoke.

    Add onions + veggies requiring a longer cooking time first. Stir fry until just fork tender, then add quick cooking veggies (e.g. peas) and cook until just heated through.

    Spoon rice then stir-fried veggies into bowls and pour sauce over top.

    for the kashmiri curry sauce

    In a large saucepan, saute diced onions in a little water or veggie stock until translucent (about 5 minutes). Then add minced ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1 minute).

    Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes to let flavors combine.

    recipe notes

    I prefer letting each person add their own sauce to suit their preference which is why I add it at the end, but you could try simmering the veggies in the sauce instead of stir frying them if preferred.

    This sauce freezes well. Just be sure to cool it completely before freezing.

    You may finely dice the tomatoes if you prefer small pieces.

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