Spanakopita – Spinach Pie

My kids are Obsessed with Spanakopita so naturally I had to make some at home. It was hard to save them some 😉 but we did manage it. I have made this since without the puff pastry because the filling is just so good on its own. Also love my veganized version with tofu, no one would even notice, it is just so good!

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Spanakopita – Spinach Pie

2 – 10 ounce packages frozen spinach, thawed
1 pound extra firm tofu, crumbled
1 teaspoon dill
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup walnuts, ground​
​2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
pepper, taste
1/4 cup olive oil
dashes of nutmeg, thyme, marjoram, basil and oregano
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, quartered and chopped (cleaned super well!)
4 scallions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (or phyllo dough)

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Saute the onion with a little salt in olive oil until translucent. Add in the leeks, garlic and scallions, season with salt, and continue to saute until translucent.
  3. Combine the spinach, tofu, dill, lemon juice, walnuts, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, olive oil & spices together and mix well.
  4. Combine onion mixture with the spinach/tofu mixture.
  5. Line a baking sheet with ether parchment paper or aluminum foil. Unfold puff pastry and place on baking sheet. Spread the spinach mixture over the pastry, leaving a border of one inch all around the edges. Keep the spinach flat; do not pile high. Cover with the second sheet of pastry that has been slightly flattened to one inch bigger than the first sheet. (This ensures all the spinach will be covered). Press edges together with fingertips, making sure mixture is sealed well. Brush just the top with non-dairy milk, Cut a few slits in the top with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape.
  6. Bake 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Can be served hot or at room temperature.

You have options for the extra filling. You can use it like a dip, eat it with a spoon or take another sheet of puff pastry and made deelish spinach pinwheels!

For the pinwheels: Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface. Top with the spinach mixture. Starting at a short side, roll up like a jelly roll. Cut into 1/2-inch slices. Place the slices onto 2 baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.

Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce

I am obsessed with Lettuce Wraps! I think it is the ultimate light fresh meal. Typically the filling is cooked and hot, but it being so warm out I wanted a nice cooling easy no-cook meal.

I have always loved the ones at Gobo and also at Wild Ginger. I thought it was about time I made my own 🙂 I am so happy I did, loved this meal!

What is your favorite lettuce wrap recipe? I want to try out some more variations!!

Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce

2 blocks extra-firm tofu, diced
4 carrots, grated
4 stalks boy choy, shredded
1 sweet onions, grated or diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 cucumbers, peeled and grated
4 tablespoons mint, chopped
3 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
3 inches ginger, peeled and grated
2 jalapenos, diced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
24 large boston bib lettuce leaves, washed and patted dried
24 peanuts, chopped

  1. In a bow, combine tofu, carrots, bok choy, onion, pepper, cucumber and mint.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oils, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, ginger, jalapeno, and salt.
  3. Add tofu and veggies to the peanut sauce and toss.
  4. Serve on lettuce leaves garnished with peanuts.

Tempeh Tacos

We love tempeh and tacos so this was a perfect dinner for us! I have made tacos with soy crumbles before but decided to grate tempeh this time and it was sooo good! YUM!

Tempeh Tacos
Makes 4 – 6 servings

1/2  onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 red pepper, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 8-ounce packages tempeh, grated
4 tablespoons Mexican seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
12 whole grain or corn tortillas
avocados, romaine lettuce, and jalapeños for add-ins

  1. Sauté onion, garlic, bell pepper and jalapeño in olive oil until soft. Add tempeh and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add seasoning, salt, and water. Cook the mixture 10 to 25 minutes, until enough liquid evaporates.
  2. Fill each tortilla with 2 or 3 tablespoons of tempeh mixture and your choice of add-ins.

Vegan Creamy Polenta with Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers (vegan style of course) has always been the ultimate comfort food meal for me. But I think I totally stepped it up by adding super creamy and deelish polenta. The perfect combo! I would say make more of this one as it will go super fast!

Another Vegan Sausage and Peppers recipe 🙂

Vegan Creamy Polenta with Sausage and Peppers

  • 2 packages vegan sausage, sliced 1/2″ rounds (My favorites are Field Roast and Tofurkey)
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bell pepper, sliced (I don’t like green peppers so I always use red, yellow or orange – but your preference)
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Creamy Polenta, recipe below
  1. Saute sausage over medium heat until well browned on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  2. Over medium-high heat, saute the onion in olive oil about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute a minute more.
  3. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, Simmer until the wine has reduced by half. Add the peppers, fennel, salt and pepper, cooking about 3 minutes more until the peppers are tender but still brightly colored. Add the sausage back in and mix.
  4. Serve with creamy polenta.

Creamy Polenta

  • 4 2/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
  1. Add the water and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the cornmeal, whisking to break up any lumps.
  3. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring periodically.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vegan cream cheese. Serve & Enjoy!

Iron for Vegans & Kale and Lentil Soup!

We all know that Iron is super important in our diets. Iron transports oxygen to the blood, regulates the metabolism, provides energy and stamina, and supports other important functions. Besides hearing “how do you get your protein?” vegans and vegetarians also hear a lot of “where does your iron come from?” I thought this was important topic to cover especially now as I am not only cooking for my husband and me but also my two kiddos 🙂

“Some might expect that since the vegan diet contains a form of iron that is not that well absorbed (non-heme), vegans might be prone to developing iron deficiency anemia. However, surveys of vegans have found that iron deficiency anemia is no more common among vegetarians than among the general population although vegans tend to have lower iron stores.

The reason for the satisfactory iron status of many vegans may be that commonly eaten foods are high in iron. In fact, if the amount of iron in these foods is expressed as milligrams of iron per 100 calories, many foods eaten by vegans are superior to animal-derived foods. For example, you would have to eat more than 1700 calories of sirloin steak to get the same amount of iron as found in 100 calories of spinach.

Another reason for the satisfactory iron status of vegans is that vegan diets are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C acts to markedly increase absorption of non-heme iron. Adding a vitamin C source to a meal increases non-heme iron absorption up to six-fold which makes the absorption of non-heme iron as good or better than that of heme iron” (http://www.vrg.org)

We can eat iron rich foods with vitamin C foods which can increase absorption, ex. rice & beans, hummus & lemon juice, falafel with tomatoes and cucumber, and beans, grains and seeds combined with fruits and veggies. There are also plenty of natural combinations;  leafy greens, broccoli, bok choy and tomato sauce have both iron & vitamin C!

Here is a list of great non-animal sources of Iron.

  • black beans, kidney beans, chick peas, pinto beans, lentils, soy beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas
  • blackstrap molasses
  • tempeh
  • quinoa
  • spinach, turnip greens, swiss chard, kale
  • tofu
  • watermelon, cantaloupe
  • enriched pasta and breads
  • green beans, beets, broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts, peas
  • whole grains; millet, bulgur, oatmeal
  • prunes, raisins, apricots
  • peanut butter, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, other seeds and nuts
  • potatoes that contain the skin
  • tahini
  • veggie burgers & hot dogs

Also:

Don’t drink coffee or tea or eat calcium supplements with iron rich meals.

Cook with a cast iron skillet, especially Vitamin C heavy foods!

Once you get into the swing of eating a balanced vegan or vegetarian diet, iron is not really a concern at all:)

Here is an iron-rich delicious meal!

 Kale & Lentil Soup

Thankfully my kiddos LOVE lentils as much as we do. It has been SUUUPER chilly this winter so that makes me think soup to warm us all up. I made a super tasty soup and added kale which not only increased the iron & nutritious content but also gave such a great bite & texture to the soup. I used a crock-pot, which I have always loved, but really understand now that it can be a busy mama’s best friend!! Since then we have also revisited the Crock-Pot Oatmeal. Just as good as we remembered!

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  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 2-3 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups lentils, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 14 ½ ounce can of diced tomatoes

Super simple 🙂 Put all of the above ingredients in the slow cooker. Set it on low 8 hours or high 4 hours, if you need it cooked quicker.

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When done I like to use my immersion blender and blend it up about half way, this way there is still some good pieces but the soup gets thicker.

Next add and let cook for just 10-15 minutes longer.
3-4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3-4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped

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Serve and enjoy! Even better the next day!

Thanksgiving Post: Mom’s Stuffing – Vegan

HUGE bowl of stuffing with glimpses of tofurkey, brussel sprouts and apples & squash. Happy Thanksgiving!!

This Thanksgiving was a really great one! It has been quite the amazing year!

I am so thankful for my life and what this last year has brought. Although I have taught just a few yoga classes, cooked just a few meals and had literally just brief moments alone with myself (things that I always valued and still do) I am brimming with happiness and joy! There are not words to express how much I love these two angels, being their mama, how much I love my husband and how much I love being present to him being the world’s greatest and most loving father!
SO much has gone on this year with birthing and loving twins as well as buying and renovating a house all while the 4 of us live in a small 1 bedroom apartment and still this has been the best year ever. It has come with its frustrations and tensions but at the same time has brought such an overwhelming love between us and our children as well. I feel so blessed to have the amazing experience of raising and being raised by my children. Each and every moment has been amazing, even when I don’t have any free seconds, (Like right now as I type this I am still the “mama jungle gym” with the babies climbing all over me!)

This Thanksgiving we all gathered at my Sister-in-Laws apartment. Lots of great food and great family fun! (imagine her 4 year old twin girls running around everywhere and my twins crawling in every direction!)

I made enough brussel sprouts and stuffing as if there were 3x as many people but believe me, the leftovers did not disappoint us 🙂 I made my go-to brussel sprouts recipe, with 3 pounds of brussels.

Last year during my pregnancy when I was finally feeling well enough to cook again the first thing I made was Butternut Squash Cornbread Stuffing. So it only felt right to make stuffing again after another long departure from the kitchen! This year though I asked my mom for her amazing recipe and we were very happy with the results 🙂 (you can always halve or third the recipe if you don’t feel like you need enough stuffing for an army!)

The best thing (besides the stuffing of course!) is that this mixture can be prepared in advance and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use. It can also be used at a vegan/vegetarian side dish, a condiment or a bread spread. We have used it for spreads on sandwiches, a relish for vegan hot dogs, an easy tofu scramble recipe and in a pasta sauce so far this last week alone!

Also a great thanksgiving leftover idea (Inspired by the Thanksgiving sandwich as Terri’s): take a wrap, spread cranberry sauce all over, and add tofurkey and stuffing. ENJOY!! We loved these!

Whole Lotta Stuffing!

Mom’s Stuffing – Vegan

  • 1/2 cup oil (your choice)(I used olive)
  • 3-4 lbs of chopped onions
  • 5 stalks of celery
  • 10 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3-4 peppers, chopped (assorted colors, if possible)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Basic recipe for 3 boxes or bags of bread stuffing (I used some corn and some multi-grain) (I used about 1.5 cups of margarine & a 32 ounce box of veggie broth. My mom says to use slightly less broth and butter than specified on the package to compensate for liquid in vegetable mixture.)
  1. Saute onions until soft – about 15 minutes.
  2. Add celery and garlic and continue to cook another 15 minutes.
  3. Drain mixture into a large colander or strainer, reserving liquid.  Pour liquid back into pot, add peppers and saute for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add onion mixture back into pot and cook for 2 minutes to blend flavors.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Day of serving stuffing, prepare according to box/package with broth and margarine. (see my notes above) Add onion mixture and bake in a casserole dish (or several) according to the package. (Mine was 350 degrees for 30 minutes)

the onion mixture! fyi: my mom makes hers finer which is better for using it as a spread

Stuffing: Pre-baking

Easy Coconut Rice & Beans

I know I haven’t been in the kitchen too much these days, let alone posting/blogging! With our amazing 7 month old twins, involved and complicated recipe building is not really on my to-do list. Being hunkered down for Hurricane Sandy, I figured I could go through my idle ingredient stash and start to whip up some good, quick food. It felt amazing to be back in the kitchen and inspired, even if only a simple recipe!. And now that the kiddos are starting to eat solid foods I plan to be back in the kitchen making quick but deelish family friendly food. I loved that I could get a really yummy but still nutritious (one-pot) meal on the table in less that a half hour!

This recipe came out super creamy!! I used two cans of coconut milk but made sure to use one that was light to calm the fat content down a bit! I didn’t have onions but I could see sauteing some up and stirring in with the beans.  I also served this with Cholula sauce, Michael didn’t use it but since it’s my current obsession, I couldn’t resist. Also, Michael doesn’t typically love anything with coconut, but he really enjoyed this and was ready for seconds! And as you know I LOVE all things coconut!

Here is just a sampling of some of my other recipes with coconut milk:
Thai Root Veggie Curry with Coconut Milk
Coconut Lentil Soup
Polenta with Black Beans, Pan-Fried Tofu & Roasted Coconut Tomato Sauce
Dina’s Chili-lime Ginger Tofu in Coconut Basil Broth with Rice Noodles
Yummy Protein Goo Ball Bites
Vegan Fudge

If you are on the East Coast – Be Safe with Hurricane Sandy!! Prayers for a peaceful day ahead. We are already enjoying some inside time together after our fun-filled Halloween weekend 🙂

Easy Coconut Rice & Beans

  •  2 cans coconut milk (I used 1 Light and 1 Regular)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • onion powder, pinch (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups rice (short or long grain)(I used white basmati because it is what I had)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 can cooked beans (kidney, pinto, or black beans)
  1. In a pot, combine coconut milk, bay leaf, garlic, (onion powder), salt and rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once you see a boil, lower heat to low and cover, cooking for 10 minutes, stirring to prevent burning.
  3. Uncover and continue to cook & stir over low heat, until tender and creamy, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the beans, stir, and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Salt to taste and enjoy!

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