Riz Bi Har – an addictive recipe with eggplant, vegan Tzatziki sauce, and rice

Riz Bi Har
cutting eggplant

To cube an eggplant, cut off the stem end, then cut it in half to make a flat surface. Then cut parallel lines the long way, half an inch apart. Turn the cut strips of eggplant on their sides, flat side down, and cut the long way again, so that you have long thin pieces of eggplant. Then cut crosswise to get cubes.

Once upon a time, there was a local Ann Arbor restaurant called Sharayar. Whenever I ate there, I always ordered a dish called Riz Bi Har. They had lots of other good food on the menu too, but I really especially adored the Riz Bi Har, so I started to order it every time I went there.

The restaurant Sharayar was a favorite for many years of happy eating. It was a sad day when they closed.

After years without Riz Bi Har, I decided to undertake making my own.

eggplant ready to cookI started by asking people on the Ann Arbor Parenting e-mail list, Arborparents, if they remembered the Riz Bi Har from Sharayar, and what they thought was in it.

People remembered eggplant, rice, cauliflower, other veggies, vermicelli noodles, and a tantalizing white garlicky sauce, wrapped in a cylinder of flatbread.

cooked eggplant

This is the same tray of eggplant after cooking. The volume decreases a lot as it cooks.

So, I set out to make that.  My experiments led to something really good, even on the first try. But over time this dish has evolved into something less like Sharayar’s version and more truly my own.

The magic in this is the combination of eggplant with a creamy, tangy, garlicky, vegan Tzatziki sauce. All of the other ingredients in this recipe can be swapped around and the results will still taste good. As a variation, you can serve it in a bowl

assembled riz bi har

Here is a filled tortilla, ready for folding or rolling. This one is really full, so I folded it in half rather than trying to roll it up.

instead of wrapped in a tortilla. You can swap around which vegetables you choose. If you are not a fan of eggplant, you can swap it out and replace it with some additional grilled or roasted veggies instead.

I am so glad that I tried making my own Riz Bi Har. If it was gone forever I would have missed it — it is very yummy and one of my favorite recipes.

riz bi har after folding

Folded, the yummy stuff inside gets covered up, which is harder to photograph. But it is still yummy. :)

 

Riz Bi Har - an addictive recipe with eggplant, vegan Tzatziki sauce, and rice
 
Prep time
Total time
 
A mix of rice, grilled veggies, and an addictive, garlicky, vegan tzatziki sauce, rolled up in a tortilla, makes a really delicious meal!
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: Middle Eastern-ish
Serves: serves 5
Ingredients
  • 11 tortillas (or a double batch of my homemade tortilla recipe, made with a little salt added to the batter)
  • tzatziki sauce or creamy white salad dressing (click to see my recipe for it)
  • 1 small to medium sized eggplant
  • 4 cups of assorted veggies (can be red bell peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.)
  • optional: a 15-ounce can of beans, eg. pinto beans
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • brown rice
Instructions
  1. Start cooking the rice, according to package directions.
  2. Cut the eggplant and other veggies (but not broccoli or cauliflower) into bite-sized pieces or half-inch cubes. Place on a nonstick cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and some salt. Bake at 400 to 450 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are getting well-browned and the eggplant looks toasted.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli and/or cauliflower in the microwave.
To assemble:
  1. If the tortillas are not warm, warm them up.
  2. Inside each tortilla, place a few tablespoons of rice, a few tablespoons of veggies, a few tablespoons of tzatziki sauce, and optionally the beans, if you are including beans.
  3. Roll up the tortilla and serve! Or, if it is too full to roll, then fold it in half -- that works nicely too. Mine are always too full to roll! :)

 

Potato Pancakes – gluten-free Latkes for Chanukah or anytime!

Chanukah table with potato pancakes

In honor of Chanukah, here is my potato pancake (latke) recipe. Served with a salad or a veggie on the side, these make a lovely dinner.

I’ve replaced most of the potatoes with sweet potato, and drastically reduced the oil, to make really healthy potato pancakes that taste delicious! Even my pickiest kids love these.

latke batter

The batter. You can see that it is mostly sweet potatoes, but there are also some regular potatoes in there too.

I originally got this from my oldest son’s kindergarten teacher, many years ago. His birthday is right around Chanukah, so when I asked his kindergarten teacher if I could bring in cupcakes as a birthday treat, she decided that since I am Jewish I should also help the class to make potato pancakes. It was really neat watching her cook with the class — she had one student practicing reading by reading the recipe, another student practicing math by multiplying the ingredients, another one learning kitchen skills by grating potatoes, and so on, with each student matched to a task that practiced something appropriate for that kid. I wasn’t happy about being pressed into volunteering in the classroom, nor about the teacher’s assumption that being Jewish meant I’d be knowledgeable about potato pancakes. But I ended up with an appreciation of differentiated multi-grade education and also a very yummy recipe for potato pancakes. This version is very different from her recipe — I’ve cut way down on the salt, reduced the eggs, took out the onions, replaced most of the potatoes (no nutrients) with sweet potatoes (lots of nutrients), added optional green leafy veggies, and lowered the oil content far below what’s traditionalatkes cookingl. And the resulting potato pancakes are delicious!

Some tips:
* If your nonstick pan is pretty good and the pancake is sticking anyway, it is not fully cooked. Let it keep cooking for a few more minutes and then try again.
* I always think about balancing the liquid as I’m making this recipe. The potatoes gradually give off liquid as they sit in the batter. So at first the batter is on the dry side, and later on it gets wetter. So for the first pancakes, I use batter from the wettest part of the bowl, to make sure there is enough liquid. Later on, I stir the batter to keep the liquid proportionate to the solids, so that both the liquid and the potatoes last until the end.

My pickiest eater, who normally eats only beige food, will gobble down potato pancakes and serve himself more. Go figure!

Jewish cooking tip: A pizza cutter is a quick way to cut up potato pancakes for a small child.  :) Kitchen scissors can do this as well.

IMPORTANT: This is a small recipe, about enough to serve one person. I multiply it by five to make dinner for the family.

Potato Pancakes - gluten-free Latkes for Chanukah or anytime!
 
These healthy potato pancakes taste delicious! I've replaced most of the potatoes with sweet potato, and drastically reduced the oil. Even my pickiest kids love these.
Author:
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: Jewish
Serves: 1 person -- makes 4-6 latkes
Ingredients
Note: I usually quintuple this recipe.
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, grated (use a food processor -- it is much faster and safer)
  • 1/2 cup potatoes, grated (don't omit - their liquid makes the recipe work)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons potato starch or, if you're not gluten-free, regular flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • optional: a few leaves of greens (chard, kale, etc.), chopped finely in the food processor
  • 1 or 2 glugs of oil (not a very exact measurement -- a glug is about a tablespoon)
  • toppings: applesauce, sour cream, homemade beannaise, etc.
  • a green side dish, such as broccoli or a salad
Instructions
  1. Preheat one or more nonstick frying pans on the stove. Good pre-heating helps to prevent sticking. For a big batch, I use three frying pans at once. I preheat the empty pans on medium-low, then turn the heat up to Medium a couple of minutes before adding food.
  2. Mix all ingredients (except toppings and side dishes!) in a big bowl. Stir very thoroughly, to make sure it's all well mixed, so that there aren't any lurking patches of salt or potato starch.
  3. Use a dinnertable tablespoon to ball up a wet blob of the mixture, then drop it into the pan and pat it with the back of the spoon to gradually widen it and shape it into a pancake shape. At this point for the first batch turn the heat up to medium-high, then once the pancakes are really cooking, lower it to just above medium and leave it there. When the pancake is gorgeous and brown on the bottom, use a spatula to flip it, pat it down, and cook the other side. When the second side is cooked, remove the pancake to a serving plate.
  4. Serve with bowls of toppings on the table. Eaters get 3-4 potato pancakes, and then put a spoonful of applesauce or sour cream or beannaise on top, spread it around and eat with a fork.
  5. The cooking time varies depending on how big a batch you are making. When I quintuple the recipe, it can take maybe 90 minutes to cook everything.

 

Macaroni and Cheese – healthy, vegan, soy-free, and gluten-free!

vegan macaroni and cheese

cheese sauce after blendingOnce upon a time, I perfected my macaroni and cheese recipe. It was a specialty of mine — fancy macaroni and cheese mixed with a creamy white sauce, using a small amount of fancy cheese to make it healthier and yummy. Then we had to stop eating dairy and gluten, and so, my oldest son, stirring the cheese saucesadly, for a long time that was the end of macaroni and cheese at our house.

After that, I experimented with creamy vegan cheese-like sauces. I came up with some that I liked quite a bit. But nothing was quite right for macaroni and cheese.

thickened vegan cheese sauce on the stoveThen in March I ran across Vegan Richa‘s recipe for vegan Mozarella Sticks, made with homemade cashew mozzarella. The cheese sticks came out tasting really cheesy, even though they are totally vegan. I am convinced that Richa is a genius at creative food chemistry. Her blog is a wonderful mix of creative vegan versions of American food and Indian cuisine.

Richa’s recipe made a great starting point for experimenting with my own vegan macaroni and cheese recipe. The very first time I tried making it, it came out tasting surprisingly similar to my old macaroni and cheese recipe, with the white sauce and fancy cheeses.  I was very pleased!!!!!

So here is my version of vegan macaroni and cheese.

Nut-free option: I have not tried this, but I think you could replace the nuts and 1 cup of the water with a pound of firm tofu.

In the third picture, that’s my oldest son cooking.  :)

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A creamy cheesy VEGAN macaroni and cheese that cooks very quickly. Yum!
Author:
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 5
Ingredients
Sauce ingredients:
  • 2 cups cashews
  • 2 1/2 cups cold water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 2 teaspoons potato starch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Other ingredients:
  • 1 pound pasta -- gluten-free if you eat that way (which I do!)
  • optional: goes well with broccoli as a side dish (see my broccoli recipe)
Instructions
  1. Start cooking the pasta.
  2. Place the cashews and one cup of the water in a high speed blender. Blend until smooth. Let it sit for a couple of minutes (to soften the tiny cashew pieces) while you juice the lemon and add the rest of the sauce ingredients EXCEPT not the rest of the water, to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  3. Place the sauce mixture in a large nonstick pan. (Nonstick is essential for this recipe!)
  4. Start heating the sauce and stirring with a wooden spoon.
  5. Use the rest of the water to rinse out the blender, then add it to the sauce.
  6. Heat and stir the sauce until it thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  7. Mix with the cooked macaroni.
  8. Serve with broccoli on the side.

p.s.  You should try Vegan Richa’s mozzarella sticks recipe!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread – addictive, healthy, and gluten-free – great for pot lucks and Thanksgiving!

chocolate chip pumpkin bread

another view of chocolate chip pumpkin breadThe first time I encountered chocolate chip pumpkin bread was when the wife of a colleague brought a loaf of it when their family visited my house. I didn’t think it sounded very good. Chocolate and pumpkin didn’t seem like they would go together very well. So I set it aside and forgot about it. Then, a couple of days later, just to be polite, I tried a bit of it. OH MY GOODNESS!!! I found out how VERY WELL chocolate and pumpkin DO go together!!!

After that I was hooked. They kindly gave me a copy of the recipe. It was originally published in a newspaper recipe column with the name “Mrs. Dugin’s Harvest Loaf Cake.”

pureed dates, raisins and eggs

pureed dates, raisins and eggs

For many years I made chocolate chip pumpkin bread for pot lucks and work events. It got to be kind of synonymous with Valerie. You know, if there’s a pot luck, Valerie will bring chocolate chip pumpkin bread.

When my family went dairy-free and then gluten-free, I converted the recipe and kept right on making it. This recipe is way too good to lose!

One interesting thing about this recipe is that it is so yummy that you can add all kinds of additional healthy veggies to it and my kids will still eat it. Also, I’m a big fan of converting recipes to use fruit as the sweetener instead of refined sugar. So I’ll give you two versions of this recipe. The first version is classic chocolate chip pumpkin bread, with refined sugar as one of the ingredients, and no sneaky extra vegetables added in. The second version is the wild and woolly version that I make for my family when I want the kids to happily scarf down lots of nutritious delicious food. That version has no refined sugar and lots of added veggies.

chocolate chip pumpkin bread before bakingTravel tip: Frozen slices of CCPB make good freezer bricks that you can put in a lunchbox and take along on an airplane or other travel, to help keep your other food fresh. And then you can eat the CCPB for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner, or a snack!) while you travel, or at your destination. Though one time I got stopped by the TSA’s scanners because they detected slices of frozen pumpkin bread in my luggage and incorrectly thought that they were liquids in more than a 3 ounce quantity. Oops. But once the TSA agent saw that it wasn’t a liquid, he let me right through.

Chocolate chip pumpkin bread is easiest to slice neatly and it tastes best once it has been refrigerated.

chocolate chip pumpkin bread after bakingIf you cook your own fresh pumpkin for this recipe, you can decide whether to puree it or leave it chunky. I like it chunky, but my picky kids prefer it pureed. Either way, the result is a really delicious loaf.

You can also bake the batter as muffins. Pour the batter into muffin cups and bake for about 19-20 minutes. Check for doneness the same as for a loaf.

I’ve also made a mug cake version, but I haven’t posted that recipe. If you’d like that recipe, please post a comment to let me know, and I’d be happy to post it!


 

First, here is the more traditional version of the recipe, with refined sugar:

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread - the classic version
 
Prep time
15 mins
Cook time
80 mins
Total time
1 hour 35 mins
 
Warning: chocolate chips and pumpkin are a Seriously Addictive combination. This loaf may be habit-forming.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2 loaves
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar (see other version of recipe for refined-sugar-free version)
  • 3 1/2 cups flour (I use my gluten-free flour mix, plus 1 3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum or guar gum)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups pumpkin (either canned or fresh)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Oil and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans. (Use rice flour for the flouring if you are gluten-free.)
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Smooth out the tops with a spatula.
  5. Bake for 75 to 80 minutes.
  6. Loaves are cooked when a knife comes out clean (except for some melted chocolate chips), or when a thermometer says it's 195 to 200 degrees inside.
3.2.2885


 

Now, here is the super-healthy version of the recipe. The refined sugar is replaced with ground up raisins and dates — which tastes sweet and not raisin-y or date-y. I’ve added a ton of blended veggies, more flour mix, and cut the spices in half because they taste much stronger when you’re not using refined sugar. Also I use ground flaxmeal to replace the xanthan or guar gum.

If you are feeding this recipe to picky kids, I suggest starting with the original recipe the first time that you serve it, then the next time you bake it add only a few tablespoons of additional pureed veggies, and increase the amount gradually from there. Don’t start out right away with six cups of kale for your supertaster kid.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread - the super-healthy version
 
Prep time
30 mins
Cook time
80 mins
Total time
1 hour 50 mins
 
Chocolate and pumpkin are an addictive combination. This loaf is super-healthy, with lots of added veggies and no refined sugar. My kids scarf this down!
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 3 loaves
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins (or dates)
  • 1 1/2 cups dates, with no pits or stem pieces (or raisins)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup quinoa flour (if you are not gluten-free, you can use regular flour for all the flour)
  • 1 cup teff flour
  • 1 cup garbanzo flour (if you like it, or replace with another flour if you're not sure)
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 2 cups pumpkin (either canned or fresh)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4-6 cups assorted veggies such as frozen broccoli, fresh or frozen berries, the flesh of a mango, a beet, and/or greens -- defrosted, drained of any liquid, and pureed smooth for several minutes in a food processor
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place raisins, dates, and eggs in a food processor. Blend until the raisins and dates are shredded into small bits.
  3. Add the baking soda and spices to the food processor, and blend again.
  4. Place the mixture from the food processor and all of the other ingredients in a big bowl. Stir until everything is mixed thoroughly.
  5. Oil and flour three 9x5 inch loaf pans. (Use rice flour for the flouring if you are gluten-free.)
  6. Divide mixture evenly between the three pans and smooth out the tops with a spatula.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 80 minutes.
  8. Loaves are done when a knife comes out clean (except for melted chocolate chips), or when a thermometer says the temperature inside each loaf is 195 to 200 degrees.
3.2.2885

 

15-Minute Chili – quick, gluten-free, vegan, and really good!

chili

Once upon a time, dry soy curlsI was talking with a mom from my kids’ school, Sue Barker, who has an awesome talent for organizing big, fun school events, often where chili is served as a fundraiser. While we talked, someone asked Sue for her chili recipe. Sue said that it was “just a recipe from allrecipes.com” and that the important ingredient was salsa.

The idea of putting salsa in chili rang all sorts of happy bells in my mind. Salsa transforms chili into something really amazing. Salsa is like yummy “pourable nutrients” — it adds magic to this awesomely easy and quick chili recipe.

rinsing beansSince this is a vegetarian chili, it (optionally) uses Butler Soy Curls. Soy curls are dried pieces of soy that you can reconstitute by soaking for ten minutes in warm water. Then they look a bit like cooked chicken. As they soak, they absorb the flavor of whatever liquid you use to reconstitute them, so by soaking them in chili while it cooks, they become chili-flavored. I haven’t seen soy curls available in the local stores, but you can order them from Amazon or from Butler’s website.

Note that this recipe makes about three bowls of chili, so you will need to pot of chilimultiply it if you are feeding a crowd. (Most recipes on this website make enough food to serve dinner to four to six people.)

There is no need to measure the quantities for this recipe — it’s fine to estimate.

The photos for this recipe show: 1) A bowl of chili ready for eating, with beannaise on top. 2) Dry soy curls, broken into shorter pieces and ready for cooking. 3) Rinsing beans in a strainer at the sink. I love how my camera caught individual droplets of water coming from the faucet. 4) A pot of chili being cooked.

15-Minute Chili - gluten-free, vegan, quick, and really good!
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This quick, yummy, super-healthy chili makes a great homecooked weekday lunch in minutes.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican-ish
Serves: 3 servings
Ingredients
  • optional: 1 cup (dry) Butler Soy Curls or other protein (such as seitan, if you are not gluten-free)
  • 1 1/4 cups spaghetti sauce (from a jar) (preferably a variety with veggies such as Muir Glen Garden Vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup salsa, or more (Amy's mild salsa is perfect here)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (check that it's gluten-free - most varieties are not!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 15-ounce cans of beans in contrasting colors, such as cannellinis and pintos, or kidney beans
  • vegan sour cream or Beannaise to serve it with
Instructions
  1. Put the dry soy curls into a pot, if you are using them. If there are any pieces that are more than one inch long, break them into pieces that are less than an inch long. Add enough cold water to just barely cover the soy curls. Turn the heat to medium-high.
  2. Add all of the other ingredients except for the sour cream or Beannaise.
  3. Heat to boiling. Turn down the heat and simmer for ten minutes.
  4. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Beannaise on top.

 

The White Dinner — a quick, gluten-free, vegan meal that my kids love

the white dinner

This recipe is adapted from a recipe called “Farfalle with White Beans and Cabbage” or “Halushki” from the cookbook Vegan on the Cheap. My kids renamed it to “The White Dinner.”  :)

I really love the cookbook Vegan on the Cheap, by Robin Robertson. We often eat vegan food at our house. I like this cookbook not because we are trying to eat cheaply, but because it has a huge number of very accessible recipes that are easy to cook and come out tasting great!

By the way, Robin Robertson has a nice blog.

This recipe is a mixture of cabbage, white beans, and pasta. I usually add either greens or broccoli to get additional healthy vegetables into the meal.

The White Dinner -- a quick, gluten-free, vegan meal that my kids love
 
Prep time
Total time
 
A buttery vegan mixture of pasta, cabbage, white beans, and optionally some greens. My picky kids love this dinner!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Eastern European-ish
Serves: 4-5 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound of pasta, such as Field Day Organic Brown Rice Pasta -- noodles or spirals or elbows work well in this recipe
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 small head of cabbage, finely shredded (4 to 12 cups) - don't include the solid core
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, or 3 cups of cooked cannellini beans
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
  • optional: 2-3 cups of cooked broccoli or 1-2 cups raw greens (such as kale or chard)
  • optional: smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Chop the cabbage. Put it in a big pot with the oil and salt. If you are using the optional greens, add them. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is starting to brown in places. Then turn down the heat to a lower temperature and let it continue cooking, still stirring from time to time. The longer the cabbage is on the heat, the better this recipe tastes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat water to cook pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the cannellini beans. Add those and the pepper to the cabbage mixture and stir.
  4. Meanwhile, if you are cooking broccoli, cook it and drain. In case it's useful, here is my quick, easy broccoli recipe.
  5. When the pasta mixture is cooked, stir it into the cabbage mixture, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Serve hot, optionally sprinkled with smoked paprika.

 

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos – quick, vegan, gluten-free, and satisfying

back bean sweet potato burritos

These burritos are filled with a creamy black bean and sweet potato mixture. They are soothing and nourishing. My whole family likes this recipe, especially my daughter Kendra.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Back when my youngest child, Corbin, was starting to eat solid foods, the filling from these burritos was the first food that really interested him. He liked it so much that it was his gateway to eating solid foods — so surely this is a very delicious food.

This is my version of a recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Lowfat Favorites — one of my favorite cookbooks ever! Their version is baked, which makes the tortillas crunchy on top; my version is served without baking.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos - quick, vegan, and satisfying
 
Prep time
25 mins
Total time
25 mins
 
These vegan black bean sweet potato burritos are creamy and satisfying.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican-ish
Serves: Serves 5
Ingredients
  • 5 cups of sweet potatoes (more is okay), cut into roughly 1 inch cubes, skin still on
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 cans black beans (4 1/2 cups cooked), rinsed and drained
  • optional: 2/3 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 11 tortillas (either storebought -- or my tortilla recipe, with a little salt added to the batter, is fabulous here)
  • salsa (such as Amy's mild salsa)
  • optional: lettuce, chopped
  • optional: chopped bell pepper
Instructions
  1. Put the sweet potatoes into a pot. Add enough water to just cover them. Heat to boiling. Turn heat to medium and cook for 12 minutes, or until the sweet potato pieces are very soft. (You can test for doneness by poking them with a fork.)
  2. Drain the sweet potatoes and let them cool for a bit.
  3. In a food processor, blend the sweet potatoes, oil, cumin, coriander, beans, lemon juice, salt, and optionally the cilantro, until smooth.
  4. Place about 3-4 tablespoons of filling in a line off-center in a tortilla. Add some lettuce and bell pepper, if you are using them. Roll up the tortilla.
  5. Serve with salsa on top.
  6. A time saving tip: If you are making your own tortillas, you can fill them one by one as they get cooked, rather than waiting for them all to be ready.
3.4.3177

 

Spinach Bean Soup and Breadsticks – nourishing, gluten-free, quick, and the soup is vegan

Spinach Bean Soup and Breadsticks

I invented the recipe for Spinach Bean Soup in 2002 or 2003, one evening when we all had colds. I wanted to cook something warm and soothing — and quickly!

Years later, I shared this recipe with a group of moms, who liked it and fed it to their kids. Later on, to my surprise, TWO friends of theirs shared this recipe with me, not realizing that I had invented it. I was very pleased that people liked this recipe enough to share it!

There are two versions of this recipe. The first one takes only about twenty minutes to cook, but it uses storebought veggie broth. The second version takes a little longer, but uses no pre-made broth, so it is onion-free and garlic-free. (We have a person in my family who is sensitive to onion and garlic in my family.) I’ve made both versions many times — they are both easy and good, and a real favorite in my family.

breadsticksAlso below is my recipe for breadsticks made from Chebe dough. These gluten-free breadsticks are warm, and delicious. They are free of gluten, dairy and yeast, and are reminiscent of French bread. Chebe dough is originally from Brasil, where it is known as Pão de Queijo. Traditionally it is made from cheese and tapioca flour. My version has tapioca flour, but it is dairy-free and has no cheese. I use Chebe Mix to make the breadsticks, but I hope to someday find a recipe for making dairy-free Pão de Queijo from scratch, without a mix.

A soup tip: The last ingredient to go into the soup is frozen spinach. You can use it to control the temperature that the soup is served at. If you are like me and you like to eat soup that is medium-warm, the frozen spinach may put the soup at the perfect temperature for you without any additional heating.

Spinach Bean Soup
 
Prep time
Total time
 
A quick, nourishing, soothing vegan soup. Great for toddlers, or someone who is ill, or as a warm soup on a cold day.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 quart (32 ounces) vegetable broth, such as Imagine No-Chicken broth or Pacific Vegetable Broth
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch (or 1/4 cup flour)
  • 1/4 cup canola and/or olive oil
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans or other beans, drained and rinsed
  • optional: 3-4 tablespoons miso
Instructions
  1. Put the potato starch (or flour) and oil into a soup pot. Stir them together.
  2. If you are using flour, heat and stir the mixture over medium heat until it gets thoroughly bubbly. If you are using potato starch, skip this step.
  3. Add all of the other ingredients to the pot, except the spinach and miso.
  4. Heat to boiling.
  5. If you are using miso: Scoop a few tablespoons of the soup into a coffee mug or bowl and stir in the miso. Turn off the heat under the soup pot. Pour the miso mixture back into the pot.
  6. Add spinach (still frozen is okay) to the pot. Heat to the desired temperature. Serve with bread, or Chebe breadsticks, and your favorite buttery spread, such as vegan Earth Balance spread. This soup is really yummy with bread or breadsticks dipped into it. See the recipe below for Chebe breadsticks.

 

Here is the recipe for Chebe Breadsticks:

Chebe Breadsticks
 
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These gluten-free breadsticks are warm, and delicious. They are free of gluten, dairy and yeast, and are reminiscent of French bread.
Author:
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: Brazilian
Serves: 16 long breadsticks, or 32 short ones
Ingredients
  • 3 packages of all-purpose Chebe Mix, or 4 1/2 cups if you buy it in bulk
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil, olive oil, or a combination of the two
  • 1/2 cup water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Either place all ingredients in a food processor with the dough-kneading blade, or place them in a bowl.
  3. Knead until a smooth dough is formed.
  4. Roll the dough into a long log. Break it in half and keep rolling and dividing it in half, until you end up with sticks of dough that are about half an inch thick. I usually make them about 9 inches long, but you can make them whatever length you like.
  5. Place the sticks of dough on a cookie sheet, with a little space around each one so that they have room to expand as they bake. They will end up two to three times wider.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve with your favorite butter-like spread.

 

Here is the recipe for the version of Spinach Bean Soup that does not use pre-made broth:

Spinach Bean Soup
 
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A quick, nourishing, soothing vegan soup. Great for toddlers, or someone who is ill, or as a warm soup on a cold day. This version is also soy-free and broth-free.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 medium-sized potato, about 3 inches wide
  • 6 baby carrots
  • 1 stalk celery (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon each dried: thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces)
  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, blend the potato, carrots, celery, and rosemary.
  2. Add the potato starch and blend.
  3. Add the oil and a little of the water and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into a soup pot.
  5. Use the rest of the water to rinse out the food processor and pour that into the soup pot.
  6. Add the herbs.
  7. Heat and stir until the mixture is warm and thickened.
  8. Add the spinach (still frozen is fine), cannellini beans, and salt.
  9. Stir, and heat to desired temperature.
  10. Remove the bay leaves and serve.
  11. This soup is really good with warm bread, or breadsticks (see recipe above for gluten-free Chebe breadsticks), with your choice of buttery-spread on the bread. We like to dip the bread in the soup -- yum!

 

Chocolates – quick, easy, dairy-free, vegan

Chocolates

chocolate daleksBack when my kids were eating dairy-free as well as gluten-free, most candy was off-limits for them. So for Halloween and Easter, we made our own chocolates. Even now that they can eat dairy, we still make our own chocolates. It is super easy!

The fun part is choosing candy molds to make the chocolates. I used to use plastic candy molds, but I worried about chemicals that might leach into the chocolate. So I replaced the plastic candy molds with silicone ice cube trays. There is an amazing variety of ice cube trays available. We have smiley faces, creepy Easter Island statues, peace signs — even Lego minifiguresDaleks, and Tardises (Tardii?) ! Also my local Meijer store sells seasonal silicone ice cube trays for about Minifigs and penguins$2 each. That’s where I got pumpkins, bats, musical notes, hearts, strawberry-shapes, and lots more.

I thought melted chocolate would be scary-hot, but actually if you think about it, chocolate melts at about body temperature, and that’s about as hot as you want to get it — so it is really more just warm than actually hot. To make chocolates, my kids and I melt allergy-safe chocolate chips in the microwave (some dairy-free vegan brands are Equal Exchange chocolate chips and EnjoyLife), pour into silicone ice cube trays, refrigerate for a few hours, and voila — adorable chocolates that were super easy to make.

Holiday Chocolates - quick, easy, dairy-free, vegan
 
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Cute, easy, homemade chocolates. Great for Halloween or Easter with allergic kids.
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 cup of chocolates
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Microwave the chocolate chips for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in a microwave-safe cup or bowl. (I use a Pyrex measuring cup.)
  2. Stir with a spoon.
  3. If the chocolate chips aren't fully melted, microwave for another 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until they are all melted.
  4. Pour into silicone ice cube trays.
  5. Gently tap the silicone trays, or vibrate them, or wiggle them, to get any bubbles out, and to get the chocolate into the farthest corners of the design.
  6. Refrigerate for a few hours.
  7. To unmold, spread out a dishtowel flat on a table or counter. Pop the chocolates out of the mold onto the dishtowel. The dish towel will catch any chocolate scraps.
  8. Tip: You can wrap the chocolates in aluminum foil, and maybe add a sticker for decoration. If you do that, I recommend that you tear the foil with your hands, not with scissors. Cutting foil with scissors will quickly dull and ruin the scissors -- I found this out the hard way!
  9. Tip: Some of the chocolate shapes (such as peace signs) break easily when you remove them from the mold. If you need a certain number of chocolates, make extra to account for breakage.
  10. Tip: If you have silicone trays that are very floppy or very wide, you may wish to put them on a cookie sheet to make it easier to get them into the refrigerator without spilling.

 

Falafel – gluten-free, healthy, and vegan!

Falafel

falafel ingredientsI discovered falafel when I was a young adult. Friends brought me to a restaurant called Jerusalem Garden that is known for its excellent falafel. The restaurant was located in a tiny house, where you sat across the counter from the kitchen and could watch the cook in action. The cook had a gadget that looked like my grandmother’s coffee percolator, of all things! He used that to shape balls of a greenish paste, which he then deep fried. Brown falafel balls emerged, which he served tucked into pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and a creamy white sauce, all wrapped up in a piece of foil so that you could hold it in your hands to eat it. It was delicious!!

When my family couldn’t eat gluten and dairy, I figured that falafel was lost to unbaked falafelus forever. But happily I was wrong! This gluten-free, vegan falafel recipe is one of our favorite recipes at our house. Even my pickiest eater happily scarfs them down.

This recipe easily mixes together in the food processor. Then you scoop blobs of dough onto a cookie sheet, and bake. A quick rinse of the food processor, and the sauce mixes together quickly in it. Add toppings, and you have a satisfying meal.

This recipe is my adaptation of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s falafel recipe in the cookbook Vegan with a Vefalafel after bakingngeance.

I’m a big fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Her cookbooks have some of the funniest text that I have ever seen in a cookbook (her description of falafel — and singing about it at summer camp — is hilarious!), and her recipes always turn out well. Back when I was a leader of a Girl Scout troop that had kids with food allergies, special diets, and picky eaters, I would often find recipes for baked goods in Moskowitz’s blog, The Post-Punk Kitchen, and make them as snacks for the Girl Scout troop. Her recipes always turned out well. Someday I will falafel for dinnerpost my gluten-free version of her Marbled Banana Bread recipe. It is always a big hit — it looks beautiful and tastes great. And her Green Lasagna Rolls — the recipe is currently on the front page of her website — are truly excellent. They have quickly become a favorite recipe around here.

Anyway, onward to falafel!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Falafel - gluten-free, healthy, and vegan!
 
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Baked orbs of chickpea dough, with a creamy vegan tahini sauce and lots of fixings. Yum!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: serves 5-6 people
Ingredients
Falafel ingredients
  • 4 cans cooked chickpeas, rinsed, or 6 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cups of gluten-free breakfast cereal, such as Erewhon's Crispy Brown Rice cereal
  • 6 tablespoons gluten-free flour (such as brown rice flour and potato starch)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder (or 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 cup parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons canola and/or olive oil
  • a little black pepper, ground
Toppings
  • lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • chopped avocadoes
  • tahini dressing (see recipe below)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place all falafel ingredients (but not the toppings!) in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Place blobs of dough on two nonstick cookie sheets or on parchment paper on cookie sheets. The blobs should be about 1 1/2 tablespoons. I use an OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop, but it will also work fine to use one dinnertable tablespoon to scoop up blobs of dough and another dinnertable spoon to push the dough off of it. The dough doesn't usually spread while it bakes, so it is okay to put the blobs close together.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the falafel is starting to turn brown.
  5. While the falafel bakes, make the tahini sauce, chop the avocado, etc.
  6. To serve: Place some lettuce on a plate. Mound eight pieces of falafel in the center. Top with tahini sauce, tomatoes, and avocado pieces. Yum!

Here is the recipe for tahini sauce. This is my version of the recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance. The sauce is really good on other things, too. For example, it is delicious mixed with spaghetti and veggies for dinner.
5.0 from 1 reviews
Tahini Sauce
 
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A creamy tahini sauce that is great on falafel or anything else!
Author:
Recipe type: sauce
Cuisine: Middle-Eastern
Serves: 1 1/4 cups
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • optional: 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup tahini (Look for a brand that doesn't taste bitter, such as Once Again or Maranatha)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup hot water (not boiling, just hot)
Instructions
  1. Tip: If your tahini is chunky, the easiest way to measure it is to put the 1/2 cup water into a glass measuring cup, then add tahini until you reach 1 cup.
  2. If you are using the garlic, chop it and cook it in the oil for 2 minutes -- don't let it burn. (I always leave out the garlic, because we have a person with a garlic allergy. I love garlic, but the sauce is still good even without it.)
  3. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  4. Serve warm on falafel or other food.

 

virtual vegan potluckThis recipe is a part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck.  Here are the links to the next and previous recipes in the loop:

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