Monthly Archives: January 2019

Kidney Bean Meatballs

OK. So I’m probably getting an eye roll from my grandmother from her heavenly kitchen in the sky, but when I started eating vegan I missed my homemade spaghetti and meatballs! Sure, you can buy frozen plant-based balls from your grocery’s deep freeze, but those are made to taste like frozen store-bought ground meat meatballs … kinda weird with an odd rubbery texture. One of the joys I take away from cooking and experimenting with plant-based recipes is avoiding highly-processed foods, and nothing screams “processed” more than a store-bought frozen vegan meatball. So make ’em yourself! They’re cheap and easy, they hold up nicely in a sandwich or on top of a big bowl of pasta, and are packed with protein, flavor, and texture.

Vegan eggs. This recipe calls for a couple vegan eggs. In it I use a flax egg…pretty simple…add a little warm water to ground flax seeds and let that protein firm up. You’ll also see i’m keeping in a little of the “Aquafaba” (bean water) from the canned beans. You’re welcome to use other egg substitutes such as “Just Egg”, chia seed, “VeganEgg”, but this one worked right for this application. Essentially you’re looking for some binding properties.

Marinated cashews. I roughly hand crush some raw cashews and marinate them in a 2018-10-14 11.52.46couple teaspoons of high-heat oil (like grape seed) with a dash of rice vinegar, liquid smoke, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of black pepper. Let it sit for a couple hours at room temperature. I used these for the texture and for something to carry the smokey flavor rather than just mixing it throughout.

Kidney Bean Meatballs

½ cup chopped raw cashews, marinate (see above)

2 15 oz cans dark red kidney beans, partially drained, lightly rinsed, and slightly fork-mashed

2 cups of whole wheat dairy-free bread crumbs

1/3 yellow onion

2 cloves garlic

1 or 2 small cherry (or other hot) peppers

2 Flax eggs (1 Tbs finely ground flax seed and 2.5 Tbs of warm water, stir and let sit 5 mins before adding to recipe)

1/2 cup vegan parmesan

Chopped fresh parsley and basil – about 1/4 each

Dried spices – fennel seed, oregano, garlic, and onion powder

2018-10-14 12.57.27Roll into balls. Place about 2” apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake on 400 degrees for about 30 mins. Makes about 12 large balls.

Make sure they have a little crust on the outside and are cooked & warm throughout…just taste one! You’ll have plenty for pasta, sandwiches and, my favorite, pizza topping!

Buon Appetito!


Oatmeal Two Ways

Can I share a secret? It was only about 5 years ago that I realized that oats looked like an actual grain and not a little feathery disk that came out of an envelope with freeze-dried apples and tons of sugar. Now that that’s out in the open, I admit that I have never been much of a fan of a “sweet breakfast.” But when I started eating vegan over 4 years ago I wanted to start re-exploring whole grains and so oats were a natural fit. When you start making homemade oatmeal you quickly discover that it doesn’t have to be overly sweet and that it doesn’t just need to be some gloppy pasty bowl of mush, but rather a dish you can design to be sweet, nutty, crunchy, and even savory. It doesn’t have to be hard to prep either, here are a couple recipes (pretty standard stuff) that you can start the night before to make your hectic mornings easier…and nothing is more satisfying than a warm bowl of customized goodness!

Overnight Oats

1 part rolled oats

1 part almond milk

Mix ingredients and stir. Separate into single portions and chill overnight. Will last about a week in the fridge with fresh almond milk

Choose your own adventure: sweetners and add-ins … dates, raisins, nuts, seeds

Makes about 4 servings

Steel Cut Oats – Overnight Style

Bring four cups water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, add 1 cup of steel cut oats and simmer for about 3 minutes, stir occasionally.

With about one minute left, add a pinch of salt. I like to add about a ½ cup of raisins here too.

Cover, remove from heat and let cool. Then refrigerate overnight.

The next morning take the pot out of the fridge and simmer to re-warm on med-hi heat for about 15 minutes.

Add Tasty Things!

Makes 4 hearty servings

A disclaimer, a promise, but mostly encouragement

When I decided to start plant-based recipe blog, I began by checking out social media and other blogs that highlight vegan recipes. What I discovered that some of these places can be pretty scary – highlighting memes about animal slaughter and shaming folks for not taking an “official Vegan oath.”

This will not be one of those places…I would like to dedicate this space for helping the new vegan, the vegan before 6, the vegetarian, the pescatarian, and yes, even the concerned carnivore. Mostly to help everyone understand that plant-based foods are easy and economical and can improve your health and the health of our planet. I won’t make this a daunting or angry place and I hope the readers and comments will respect this as a safe resource for animal lovers, forward-thinking sustainers, and home cooks that need help broadening their horizons to explore the joy of plant-based meals and snacks.

Also, I’m not a chef or a dietician, I have not been professionally trained or coached, and I will not claim to be. Please be aware that a lot of the recipes I’ll share have tons of tree-nuts, peanuts, gluten, berries, etc., so if you’re allergic to any ingredient, be careful.

And finally, I’ve been a home cook for over 30 years, my training overseen by an Italian mother and grandmother who had me rolling cabbage rolls and meatballs at a very early age. Job hunting in Chicago in my 20s, I did my time in the food service industry, working as a barista, waiter, stocking shelves in gourmet markets, and even making grinders at the very first Potbelly on Halstead in Lincoln Park. My point is, please don’t mistake me for a professional, my recipes may not be perfect (but I do try them about 3x before posting) and I subscribe to “a little of this and a little of that” and I encourage you to as well to suit your tastes and to make each recipe your own. Cooking for yourself, family, and friends should be enjoyable, relaxing, and give you a sense of freedom and accomplishment – you should never enter into it stressed or come away sad thinking you’ve not produced something perfect. Good ingredients and a little love are usually enough to make something special. So…

Try it! One of the myths is that going plant-based is expensive and it can be if you’re relying on overly-processed packaged foods. Last I checked, a pound of dry beans is less than a buck and filled with healthy fiber and sustainable plant protein. For the beginner that’s not very encouraging I know because that lowly bag of dusty navy beans can be daunting. I feel like my job here is to help empower you to access and explore the varied textures of plant-based alternatives so you can expand your personal repertoire in the kitchen to include cooking plant-based, heathy, planet-friendly, and delicious food with confidence.

Enjoy! 🌱