Grilled Pineapple Fried Rice

This rice dish was something I was able to throw together one night, using items I had on hand.  Love it when that happens.

The tofu I used was a packaged, Thai marinated flavor.  Feel free to use any flavor you like, or bake your own.  I was on a mission to make this dish as quick as possible so I used the pre-baked kind.  Nice and easy.

Also, in the spirit of ease and convenience, I used the frozen brown rice you can find at almost any grocery store these days, including Costco.  I separately microwaved 2 bags, and spread the warmed rice out on a large plate in a thin layer to cool.  This is important as the rice can get gooey and clumpy when added to the pan with the other ingredients if not cooled, and the grains somewhat separated.

Make sure to have, as they say in cooking school, your ‘mise en place’ ready (i.e. everything prepared and measured, ready to throw in the pan) as this dish is completed rather quickly.  I served steamed Chinese broccoli alongside this dish.  🙂

Potato and Cauliflower Samosa Patties


If you’ve ever eaten a samosa at an Indian restaurant (or Whole Foods salad bar for that matter), you know those delectable little things are deep fried.  These patties have that mouth-watering samosa flavor, without all the fat and flour.

This recipe is adapted from Rouxbe, the on-line plant-based culinary school I’m attending. The first time I made these I followed the recipe to the letter but felt they could be improved and made to be lower in fat.  The family actually preferred my version.  Score!

Keep in mind the heat of these will depend on how much of and the type of curry powder you use.  I’m a total wimp when it comes to spice so I only used 1 TBS curry powder (half Penzey Sweet Curry Powder and half Madras Curry Powder).  Use more, or some cayenne, if you like the heat.  They have tons of flavor regardless.  Enjoy!!

Chickpea Curry Lettuce Wraps with Tamari-Lime Sliced Almonds

If you’ve ever made my Mock Chicken Salad you’ll already have an idea of how this dish is made – it’s the same process.  I set out to make the Mock Chicken Salad but I was feeling creative and wanted to change it up significantly.  I absolutely LOVE what I ended up with. SO delicious.  And, it’s really easy to make!! No cooking required for the filling.  Though, if you would like it warm and/or find raw celery and onion too crunchy or strong, feel free to sauté those first.  I made these for lunch on a fairly warm day but I think the warm/cooked filling would be nice on a chilly day or at dinner.  It’s up to you! Experiment….I did!

Feel free to use this filling for a sandwich instead of lettuce wraps.

They are only a garnish, so a small amount is used, but the Tamari-Lime Sliced Almonds are AMAZING here.

Swiss Chard Quesadillas (vegan, low-fat, gluten-free*)

What the heck is that plant? Is it beets? Is it spinach? No! It’s chard, or Swiss chard to which its often referred.  This leafy green is one of the healthiest plants you can eat. It comes in green and white, green with yellow stalks, or the type I grow, green with beautiful red stalks. Foods belonging to the chenopod family—including beets, chard, spinach, and quinoa—continue to show an increasing number of health benefits not readily available from other food families.  Containing powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients beneficial for all aspects of health, this amazing vegetable is an important component to the diet.  And, it tastes great!

Swiss chard and kale growing beautifully in my Tower Garden!

I never knew what the heck to do with chard before I started growing my own.  I grow it in my amazing aeroponic Tower Garden, which I absolutely love.  I never had success with growing my own food before.  The feeling of going out back to grab some homegrown chard, a few cucumbers, some kale and lettuce, or some strawberries, is like none other!  I had read that chard was easy to grow so I bought the seedlings and in no time, I had these gorgeous, huge, green and red leaves ready to be eaten.  The young, smaller leaves are good raw, but the mature leaves are too “green” tasting and bitter for me.  I much prefer them cooked.  The way I prepared them yesterday is my favorite so far.  Up until then I had just steamed them, and eaten with a little sea salt and lemon juice, or added to pasta with marinara sauce.  I’ve enjoyed all preparations, but this one is the winner so far.

*gluten-free if you use gluten-free (i.e. brown rice) tortillas.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas (vegan, gluten-free*,soy-free, low-fat)

Doesn’t get much easier than this.

When I bake sweet potatoes, I usually do 1 or 2 extra for leftovers.  They are a quick, easy snack and great for dishes like this.

You can use whatever type of tortillas you like, but I really enjoy the brown rice tortillas.  I don’t need to eat a gluten-free diet but for the sake of variety and not wanting to overdo it on wheat, whenever I can I opt for the alternative, as long as it’s a healthy one.  Many gluten-free alternatives are filled with fat and have little to no fiber.  These brown rice tortillas I get from Trader Joe’s are really nice.

I made this for lunch one day and it took all of 10 minutes.  I couldn’t believe how good it was.  My girlfriend Lori, who likes to be difficult :), says I shouldn’t call these quesadillas because there is no cheese.  I wholeheartedly disagree.  We can eat pizza without cheese and it’s still called pizza, omelets without cheese and it’s still an omelet (though I don’t eat those anymore), cheese-less burritos….you get my point.  So, sorry Lori but these are being called Quesadillas and that’s that!

*gluten-free if you use gluten-free tortillas (i.e. brown rice).

Tofu Scramble and Potato Quesadilla (vegan, oil-free, can be gluten-free)

I got the idea for this recipe last weekend when we got food from the Seabirds truck, a vegan food truck in OC.  Very tasty!  We had it for dinner but it would be great for any meal.

Traditional quesdillas call for ooey, gooey sticky cheese but this one does not.  You can use some Daiya vegan cheese if you like (it would be delicious, not gonna lie), but just keep in mind its a processed food with a lot of fat.  Maybe you can use a tiny bit.  🙂  In this recipe I used a cashew cheese concoction made with cashews and green chiles.  I didn’t use much since cashews are very high in fat as well.  I took my “Cheesy Sauce” recipe (see in Recipes), and tweaked it a little bit to make a thicker, spreadable mixture.  See below for details. You can use all sorts of different veggies in this dish; I used what I had on hand which happened to be mushrooms and spinach, along with the potatoes.

You can use brown rice tortillas to make these babies gluten free.

Red Lentil Curry || vegan + oil-free + low-fat + gluten-free

I needed something to eat for lunch and the red lentils in the pantry got my attention.  I literally threw these ingredients together without a plan, and was SO happy with the result. It’s hard to believe something this easy could be so flavorful.  It was so good in fact that I included the dish in an Indian themed feast I cooked this past weekend.   It was a big hit along with the Indian Spiced Cabbage, Roasted Aloo (potatoes), brown basmati rice and whole wheat flat bread. 

Red lentils are great because in addition to being extremely healthy and low-fat, they are quick-cooking.  They can be used in sauces to add fiber and protein, or as the main ingredient along with a few others such as the recipe here.  Unlike brown/green lentils they break down easily, blending in with whatever else is in the dish.  They also end up being more yellow in color, even though they are called red and start out more of an orange color.  At 140 calories per cup (dry), 0 grams of fat, 7 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein, red lentils are a great addition to the diet.

In this dish I used two different types of curry powder, but you don’t have to.  Regular curry is the yellow/orange version you see in most stores.  Different brands can taste different from each other, with some more mild than others.  Madras curry is another type that is similar to regular but with more spice.  Berbere curry is an Ethiopian version, that has a smokier scent/flavor and is much spicier than the others.  Feel free to use whatever variety you have on hand, or a combination like I’ve done here.  The measurements I used result in a mild dish.  As I’ve said before, I’m a spice wimp.

PAQUITOS! Potato and Bean Taquitos – Baked not Fried! (Vegan, low-fat, gluten-free)

I’m not proud of this,  but when I was in junior high, I ate taquitos from the cafeteria nearly every day.  I don’t even want to think about what they were filled with, but I just loved them; mostly for the crunchy corn tortilla and the green dipping sauce with which they were served.  We won’t even talk about the Hostess mini crumb donuts I ate too.  Geez.  Gotta love the offerings in school cafeterias.  Sad to say it’s no better 30 years later.  Did I just say that?  30 YEARS?  “sigh”.

Anyway, I digress…sorry.   As we all know, traditional taquitos are deep fried.  We also know deep fried foods = bad news.  I set out to create a plant-based taquito that I could bake, but would still be crunchy.  I don’t cook with oil as a rule, but for form and function, a small amount was required for this to work.  I tried it without.  Fail.  However, I was amazed how such a small amount could make a difference.  1 tablespoon of olive oil or less for the entire batch of 12 taquitos.  Not bad.  Since these taquitos are filled with potatoes, I’m calling them paquitos.  🙂

Double Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup (vegan, oil-free, gluten-free)

As much as I complain about not enjoying cold weather and shorter days, I must admit the food that is most often consumed during those months, i.e., soups and stews, is my most favorite!  I made this soup in the crock pot recently on a rainy Saturday.  Perfect! I really like lentils so a soup that calls for two kinds – even better!