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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Oil-Free Vegan Pesto

About a month ago, I found a gluten-free section at my favorite discount grocery store, ALDI. I purchased a gluten-free pizza crust mix in the hopes of making a delicious pizza that night. Well, to say the least, that did not happen. Here I am, a month later, desperately craving pizza, but conflicted on how to make this pizza healthy. My first thought was simply to eliminate the cheese, but then again I did not want to sacrifice that rich, creamy flavor. That is when it hit me! Ricotta could be used for the creaminess and pesto for the rich, bold flavors. Finding a healthier option to ricotta is easy because most groceries stores have low-fat and fat-free versions. Finding a healthier option to pesto...uhh...not so much.

This dilemma inspired me to create my own oil-free vegan pesto. It is simple, easy, and most importantly healthy. Typical pesto has about 80 calories per tablespoon. My healthier option has about 30 calories! With one recipe yielding 1 cup, make sure to double up because this will go quickly.

Tomato, Ricotta, Pesto Pizza topped with Grilled Onions
2 c spinach, well-packed
3/4 c raw walnut, halved
1/2 c basil leaves, well-packed
3 tbsp water
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt  

NOTE: Constantly TASTE the pesto, to make sure it is to your liking. When adding the salt, add a little less than the measured amount and work your way up to it. That way it does not become too salty for you.

Blend all ingredients well in a blender or food processor.   Enjoy!


  • Great as a spread, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, etc.
  •  If you have enough, feel free to replace the amount of spinach with basil leaves.
  • Add nutritional yeast to add a cheesy touch (without the dairy).
  • Feel free to experiment with other full-flavored nuts.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ginger Tofu Burgers

In Arcata, CA, the town that I went to college in, there is this tofu company that makes these delicious tofu burgers. The tofu burgers are EVERYWHERE! In the stores, at restaurants, even at the university. Lately I have been craving these deliciously flavored burgers, but considering I am over 3,000 miles away, there is a bit of a dilemma. This inspired me to try and duplicate the Tofu Shop's Baked Tofu Vegie Burgers

These vegan burgers are simple, healthy, and very versatile. With only about 150 calories per burger, you have no reason to worry about counting calories.

Open Face Bun-less Homemade Ginger Tofu Burger with a side of Spicy Mayo
1 package firm or extra-firm tofu, pressed
1 small onion, diced
1 c shredded carrots
3 tbsp extra fine cornmeal
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp liquid aminos, or soy sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Make sure that the tofu is pressed. This means that the excess liquid is pressed out of the tofu. To do this, open the package, drain the liquid, and place the tofu into a sealed zip locked bag. Place weighted objects (plate, filled plastic containers, etc.) on the tofu and allow the tofu to sit for about an hour until excess liquid is pressed out.

Crumble the tofu into a mixing bowl and combine the rest of the ingredients. Form the mixture into burger patties (I recommend 1/2 c mixture per burger). Place patties on a cookie sheet that has been greased with non-stick spray. Spray over each burger with non-stick spray. Cook for 30 minutes, flip each patty, and cook for another 10 minutes or until burger is golden and slightly crispy. Enjoy!


  • Lose the bun and use lettuce leaves instead (as pictured) for a gluten-free alternative to a traditional burger.
  • Serve sliced over a fresh salad to add more crunch and flavor.
  • Add other vegetables to the mixture (corn, green onions, bean sprouts, etc) for your own twist.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

Before I left for my cruise, I made the mistake of buying some groceries. Thankfully, I was able to finish almost all of the produce. I had a few onions and four medium-sized zucchinis left, but I knew that they would still be good after my five day adventure. Once I came home, I decided to find a creative way to use them (other than zucchini bread). Half of them went into a black bean chili and the other half went into this wonderful vegan, gluten-free concoction.

Making fritters is a great way to use up those excess fruits or vegetables that are lying around. These are simple, versatile, and (of course) tasty! The fritters are just as good baked as they are fried, so feel free to experiment.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters with a Creamy Herb Sauce
2 medium zucchini, finely shredded or diced
1 c corn
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/4 c + 2 tbsp water
1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sugar (or other sweetener)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Fritters with Cucumbers, White Rice,
and a Yellow Curry Sauce
Combine all of the ingredients in a pot on the stove and allow to heat while stirring constantly. Wheat flour has a smoother texture than rice flour so in order to achieve the same effect, the rice flour should be heated and allowed to absorb the liquid. Once the mixture has a smooth, almost gummy texture, remove from heat and allow to cool.Make evenly sized balls and flatten to resemble a patty. The desired size of the fritter will determine how much of the mixture to use.

For baking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a cookie sheet in non-stick spray and arrange your patties. Spray moe non-stick spray over each fritter. After 15-20 minutes (or once the bottom is browned) flip the patties and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes.

For pan-frying, heat a frying pan (with just enough oil to cover the bottom) on medium heat. Once the oil is ready, place your patties in and allow to brown on both sides. Allow the fritters to cool on paper towel to drain excess oil.

Vegan Patty with a Creamy Herb Tomato Sauce 
topped with Green Beans
  • Experiment with different types of flours, or even a blend of your favorite kinds.
  • Shredded carrots, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers are just some examples of great veggies to add to these fritters.
  • Try using different sauces to pair with your fritters for an exciting flavor exploration.
  • Make a decent sized fritter and use it as a patty in a sandwich.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Gluten-Free Oat Muffins

This recipe was inspired by the idea of having a quick and easy breakfast. Some mornings I wake up and do not want to whip up some fancy, lavish breakfast. Instead, I rather grab something pre-made and (of course) healthy! Most granola bars or meal replacement bars are loaded with sugar, so I decided to create my own gluten-free, low-fat solution. 

These muffins are super simple, tasty, and packed with protein.

1 c oats (quick oats or old-fashioned)
3/4 c applesauce
1/2 c egg whites
2 tbsp stevia (or other sweetener) 
cinnamon & nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Allow the oats to soak in the liquid for about ten minutes. Spray the muffin tin with non-stick spray and spoon in the batter until two-thirds full. Bake until the muffins are firm (about thirty minutes).


  • For a lighter muffin, add more egg whites and applesauce.
  • Serve with a thin layer of nut butter for a fuller flavor.
  • For variation, add some nuts, cocoa powder, or carob chips (healthier version of chocolate chips).

Mock Tuna Salad

One of the things I have missed the most, since becoming a vegetarian almost 7 years ago, is tuna salad. My mom makes the BEST tuna salad. I came home a few nights ago having this massive craving for my mom's tuna salad and decided to whip up a healthy, vegan version. 

This recipe is simple and healthy. Only about 90 calories per 1/4 cup!
Mock Tuna Salad on Romaine Boats

1 15 oz can garbanzo beans
1/4 medium onion, diced
1/3 c bell pepper, diced (green and red)
2 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise, low fat (vegan or non-vegan) 
2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1/2 tbsp liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
seasoning (garlic powder, pepper, paprika, sweetener)

Drain and rinse the can of garbanzo beans. Mash the garbanzo beans with a fork (some chunks are fine) and combine all the ingredients. Mix well and season accordingly (a little bit of agave/sugar really brings this recipe together). Chill before serving. 


  • Double the recipe and store in a glass jar to use at your convenience. The recipe will last about a week.
  • Feel free to add any other veggies you would like (shredded carrots, green onions, etc.)
  • For an even healthier alternative to the traditional tuna salad sandwich, serve this salad on whole romaine lettuce leaves.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Homemade Applesauce

More and more I have been trying to find ways to cut back on spending money on food that I could make at home. I recently went through through an applesauce phase: eating it for breakfast, incorporating it into baked goods, and trying to find different uses for it. I decided to just make my own jar of applesauce. 

This is a simple, inexpensive, healthy recipe that should last about two weeks. 

7 medium apples, sliced
1/4 c water

Allow the apples and water to simmer on medium-low in a covered pot until apples soften. Occasionally stir with a fork and mash up the apples once they have softened. Uncover the pot and let the liquid evaporate. Season with cinnamon and nutmeg to your liking. Makes about 3 cups. Enjoy!


  • For a smoother texture, place the applesauce in a blender and bled until smooth.
  • Applesauce is a great fat substitute for baking cakes, brownies, etc. It does not work as well for cookies though. I suggest substituting half the amount of fat in your recipe with applesauce.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Red Curry Vegetable Soup

I am back and ready to overload you with all the recipes I have come up with from the past two months. Trust me, there are A LOT! 

This recipe came about when my mom sent me a package with eight cans of coconut milk. I wanted to come up with various ways to use the canned good, but once I made this soup I knew that curry was going to be the only thing they were to be used for. Making a curry soup is simple and versatile. You are welcome to use whatever vegetables your tummy desires and it will still turn out delicious!

My  vegan red curry vegetable soup makes about seven cups with only 150 calories per cup.

1 can coconut milk
2 c carrots, chopped
2 c water
2 broccoli spears, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 large zucchini, chopped
2 tbsp + 1 tsp red curry paste
2 tbsp liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 bay leaves 
seasoning (garlic powder, pepper)

In a pot 3 quarts or greater, combine onion, ginger, coconut oil, and garlic. Allow these ingredients to brown on medium-high heat. Add the curry paste and vegetables and allow to cook for five minutes while occasionally stirring. Add the water, coconut milk, liquid aminos, bay leaves, nutmeg, and other seasonings. Make sure all the ingredients are mixed well and allow the soup to simmer on low-medium heat with the cover for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. To allow the soup to thicken, uncover the pot and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes while occasionally stirring. 


  • Serve the soup with cashews, green onions, fresh herbs, or any garnish you feel is appropriate. 
  • A cup of soup along with a 1/2 cup of brown or white rice makes a healthy, low calorie meal.