Pesto: vegetarian or vegan



2 oz. pine nuts
4 tbsp parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
1/2 lemon pitted and halved
2 cloves garlic
1 avocado
1 tbsp olive oil
basil and parsley


Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to start mixing, use a spatula to push down sides and pulse until all ingredients are chopped and mixed. salt to taste.

Serve over pasta.

Serves 2: 350 calories each just for the pesto. 700 for whole batch of pesto. One cup of pasta adds 200 more calories per serving.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is my favorite combination for pesto. The avocado takes place of the heavy oils usually in pesto. I don’t measure my basil and parsley, pretty much an even amount of both, at least a cup full of each. But if I have less, it’s also ok.

You can split it into four servings as well, but I like it really creamy.


Joe Froggers (dark molasses cookies): vegetarian



1/2 c sugar
1/4 c butter

1/2 c dark molasses
1/4 c water
2 tbsp rum
2 c flour
3/4 tsp salt (i like coarse salt)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice


Preheat over to 375º.

Mix sugar and butter with a hand mixer till fluffy. Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand. It gets pretty thick, so I literally use my hands to mix.

Spoon by large tablespoon full onto cookie sheet. Press down to flatten and sprinkle a bit of sugar on top of each cookie.

Bake for about 14 minutes, they will be soft, so scoop them off the cookie sheet carefully.

You can make these vegan by substituting a different shortening for the butter. You can also omit the rum if you don’t want to use it.

Makes about 17 cookies about 2 inches wide. Each cookie has around 130 calories. The whole batch is 2210 calories, divide accordingly based on how many cookies you make.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

These cookies are delicious, they have a burnt caramel flavor from the molasses. And they have a unique history. Here is some info from wikipedia:

Joe Froggers are named for Joseph Brown (1750-1834), the keeper of Black Joe’s Tavern in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The cookies were invented by Brown’s wife, Lucretia Thomas Brown (1772-1857), who worked at the tavern.

Joseph Brown was a freed former slave, born to an African-American mother and a Wampanoag father. Lucretia Brown was the daughter of two former slaves. In 1795, Joseph and Lucretia Brown went in with another couple on the purchase of a saltbox house at the top of Gingerbread Hill in Marblehead, next to a mill pond. Eventually they bought out the other couple. The house was both their residence and the site of their tavern. Black Joe’s Tavern was known as a racially integrated gathering place for hard-drinking fishermen.

There are many different stories about how the cookies came to be called Froggers. According to some sources, they were named for the froglike shape the batter would form when it hit the hot iron skillet. According to others, they were named for the frogs in the nearby mill pond. The name may be a misspelling or a play on “Joe Floggers,” which were a kind of pancake, also used as a ship’s provision.


Summer squash bake: vegan



1 large summer squash seeded
1 large green pepper
1 potato
1/2 white onion

1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste


Depending on the type of squash you are using you may have to get the seeds out. You don’t have to do this with any squash where the seeds are small and edible like zucchini. Cut all the vegetables into bite size pieces and mix in a bowl with olive oil and salt.

I put these in a roasting pan and place it in a hot bbq grill to bake in there because it’s too hot to turn the oven on here in Phoenix in the summer. Check after 15 minutes and stir if veggies look like they are browning a bit, then cook for about 15 minutes more. They should be browned but not burnt.

Serves 2: 150 calories each serving, 300 calories for whole dish.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

We try to keep the calories low, so we only use a little oil, but if you are not worried about calories, another tablespoon of oil will be good.

This could be made by just grilling the squash, pepper and onion and cooking the potatoes then mixing all together. It’s a nice combination of flavors, no matter how you cook them. You can also double the recipe to serve more people.


Cauliflower steak: vegetarian



1 whole cauliflower cut into “steaks”

2 tbsp olive oil
garlic powder to taste
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp parmesan cheese


When cutting the cauliflower cut off part of the stem to make it flat at the bottom and to get the greens off, then, starting in the center cut out four steaks about 1 inch thick. the outer edges will fall off, you can roast the outer florets as well.

Heat oven to 400º.

Mix the rest of the ingredients for the basting. Coat each piece sparingly with this mix, save half to use after you turn the steaks over. Bake for 20 minutes and turn over, baste and bake another 20 minutes. If they do not turn a little brown on the edges and you’d like more, put under the broiler for a couple minutes to brown.

Serves 2: 180 calories each serving, 360 calories for the whole thing.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was fun to make, but really it’s much easier to just cut up the cauliflower into florets and pour the dressing over it, mix and roast. Steaks seem to be a fad right now, but does not do anything to add to the flavor or the presentation. We served these with a side of spaghetti with sauce.


Sweet potato and peanut soup: vegan



1 tbsp olive oil
2 chopped green peppers
1 chopped shallot
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp chopped ginger

3 cups veggie broth
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 can fire roasted tomatoes salsa flavor
1 large sweet potato cut in chunks
1 bag frozen kale mix
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or tabasco sauce

1 tbsp peanuts for garnish per serving


Sauté peppers and shallot until brown and soft, add garlic and ginger and stir till flavors are released.

Add broth, peanut butter, canned tomato, sweet potato, kale mix, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are soft.

Salt to taste.

Serves 4: 183 calories each serving, add 52 calories for the peanuts. The whole soup is 735 calories.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This dish can be made with any other vegetables than kale, spinach, mixed greens, etc. We had left over arugula, a zucchini, and some salsa from chipotle, I threw that all in the mix as well. We topped each serving with a tablespoon of peanuts. It has just enough heat and is very flavorful.


Banana and bean dip: vegan



1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion cut into small pieces
2 vegan Italian style sausages cut into rounds
3 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 cup prepared pasta sauce
1 can kidney beans with some of the liquid from the can

2 ripe bananas cut into rounds

1 tsp fennel seeds crushed if you like the flavor
salt to taste

tortilla chips for dipping


In a heavy sauce pan, on medium heat, sauté the onion in olive oil till light brown, add the sausage and cook for about three minutes, add garlic and stir for a few seconds until flavor is released.

Add the pasta sauce and the beans, and fennel if desired, stir well until heated through. 

Turn off heat and add the bananas, stir, then with a potato masher mash the mixture until it’s roughly mashed. It should have some chunks of everything showing. 

Add salt if needed and serve with tortilla chips.

Makes about 7 half cup servings: 165 calories each, 1155 calories for the whole batch. Tortilla chips calories should be added separately. Roughly 8 chips equals 120 calories. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I used to eat this dip with real sausage meat and was hesitant to try it with veggie meat. This actually came out really good. I used Rao’s arrabbiata sauce, which has a bit of heat, so if you like it spicier, add pepper flakes, or hot sauce. 


Irish soda bread: vegetarian



5 c all purpose flour
1 c sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt (preferable coarse)
1 tsp baking soda

1 stick of room temperature butter

2 cups of raisins
2 tbsp caraway seeds

16 oz of greek yogurt
1 large egg

milk as needed


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the first 5 ingredients with a fork. Add butter and work into mixture using your fingers until it forms small crumbles. Add the raisins and caraway seeds and stir.

Mix the yogurt with the egg and add to the dry ingredients until it’s just blended, then add milk as needed to make the batter sticky and soft using a wooden spoon.

Butter a 10 or 12 inch iron skillet. Spoon the batter into the skillet leaving it higher in the center. With a sharp knife cut through almost all the way down to the bottom into 4 quarters.

Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes or longer until pick or knife inserted in highest point comes out clean. Cool in the skillet for about a half hour, then remove it from the skillet and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 32 slices: 150 calories per slice, 4725 for whole loaf.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I have made many versions of soda bread before, but this one is the best. It’s moist on the inside and crusty on the outside and I love the raisins and caraway seeds in it.

If you don’t have a heavy skillet, a pie plate will work. Just keep an eye on the baking as it may brown sooner.

I cut the bread into 4 quarters, then each quarter into about 8 slices. You don’t need to butter this bread, it’s delicious just toasted and plain.


Garam Masala with chickpeas and spinach: vegan



1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion chopped in medium pieces
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 c spinach

1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 lite coconut milk

2 tbls garam masala mix
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ginger

1 can chick peas drained and rinsed


Sauté onions in olive oil till translucent, add spinach and wilt it down, add the garlic and stir for just a few seconds on medium heat.

Add the tomatoes and the coconut milk and stir. Add all the spices and lower to a simmer, cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the chick peas, stir and turn off heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4: 190 calories, 760 for whole meal.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is the first time I made anything with garam masala spice mix. It was very fragrant and tasted delicious. I mixed in two cups of leftover spaghetti that had some rao’s sauce already on it. that added about 135 calories per serving. It would also be great with a side of rice.


Orzo with lemon and peas: vegan



1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion chopped in medium pieces
1 lemon, pitted and sliced in small pieces
2 c spinach

1 bag frozen peas (14 oz)
1 c Smart Ground Original Veggie Protein Crumbles
2 oz. white wine

3/4 c orzo


Sauté onions and lemon in oil till onions turn light brown, add spinach and wilt down, add crumbles and peas and stir occasionally to prevent sticking for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Deglaze the pan with white wine and turn off.

In the meantime cook orzo according to package directions and drain. Add to the vegetable mixture and serve.

Serves 4: 350 calories, 1400 for whole meal.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Well, this was an experiment and I would do it a bit differently next time. I think that the flavors are very good together, but it needed some sauce or liquid to make it more palatable.

Next time I will top it off with some tomato sauce, or the tahini sauce from the gnocchi and mushroom recipe.


Sweet potato medley: vegetarian



4 sweet potatoes

1 tbsp butter
1 eight oz. carton of sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic diced
2 oz. white wine

1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/3 c chopped parsley
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste


Bake sweet potatoes in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Let cool just enough to handle. Cut into small cubes.

Sauté mushrooms and onions in butter till browned, add garlic for a minute and deglaze with white wine and turn off.

Add to the mushroom mixture, potatoes and chick peas. Add parsley, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Mix and serve.

Serves 4: 311 calories, 1244 for whole meal.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a hearty meal with lots of flavor. Baking the sweet potatoes makes the sweetness come through, but in a pinch you can microwave them.

Note: If you cut off any spots of the potatoes before baking make sure to use tinfoil under them as they will leak while baking.