You must nourish your body; both with the right foods and thoughts. Cook something marvellous, for your body deserves nutrients. However, also speak softly to yourself, for this impacts our health just as much. You deserve the best of everything; both in your body as well as your mind.
Whether you’re planning to make a pasta, pizza, or casserole; many of them are held together by the life force of a red sauce–exactly like blood as one of our many connective tissues. Jarred sauce certainly could get the job done but variety is the spice of life. This red sauce features a cornucopia of different vegetables; some that aren’t really standard fare. Whether you’re trying to sneak more vegetables into your own diet, or perhaps have little ones, this is an incognito approach. Well–unless you’re my sister, who is the only person I’ve met who doesn’t like red sauce! There have been countless family arguments over this.
There’s nothing’ wrong with a tomato going solo but what’s more awesome than a bowl of pasta? A bowl of pasta that delivers me several more vitamins and minerals completely unannounced to me.
2 TBSP olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 bell pepper (yellow, orange, or red), diced
½-1 TBSP dried basil
1 tsp dried marjoram
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp red chili flake
salt, to taste
black pepper to taste
4 oz red wine (optional, could use another liquid)
2, 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes (preferably no salt added)
2 TBSP tomato paste
1-2 TBSP of table sugar
3 oz baby spinach (optional, but it’s part of the rainbow and you won’t see or notice it)
Directions: Have your vegetables prepared. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, then saute until soft and fragrant. Next, add the carrot and celery and do the same. Give a pinch of salt, stir. Then, add the bell pepper and cook until soft. Add the basil, marjoram, oregano, red chili flake, and another dash of salt. Stir to coat vegetables and allow the spices to heat up. Hit it with the red wine; hopefully, you get that “szzzz” sound. We like that sound! Take the heat down to medium-low and add your crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. If your tomatoes are unsalted, give a generous lashing of salt now. If they’re salted, be modest here. Add black pepper as well. Stir well, then finish off with a bit of table sugar to take down the acidity (but we’re not making tomato candy), then finally add the spinach. Let the contents come up to a low bubble, then turn the heat down to low, and cover with a lid. Allow everything to simmer for at least 30 minutes before taking it off the heat and letting it cool down for a bit. Then, take an immersion blender and smooth everything out. See! No off colors or particles! Secret nutrition!
This is something people either seem to have known about forever, or they find the concept so weird that when you mention it they just look at you funny and back away slowly.
Slice up some apples, grab some peanut butter, and use the apple wedges to scoop up the peanut butter. There’s a bit of an art to manipulating the peanut butter, but it’s one worth mastering because omnomnomnomnom.
a potato, wash it if you need to. Stab a bunch of holes in the top or
slice a cross halfway through it. Microwave on high for a few minutes
then stab it with a knife to see if it’s soft inside, it’s different
depending on the size of the potato and the power of the microwave.
Once you know the rough time, you can just do that.
- vegan butter/marg, hummus, crushed garlic or garlic salt, cashew
cream cheese, brewers/nutritional yeast, chopped fresh chives or spring
onion, the list goes on
Instant couscous like you can get in most supermarkets is super quick and easy to make. It tastes like pasta (because it’s made of the same stuff), and you can flavour it however you want.
Boil water, pour a cup of boiled water for every half cup of couscous, leave it for a couple of minutes, add a pinch of salt if you want, and fluff it up with a fork.
For flavourings (if you want them) you could just add a dab of vegan butter or margaraine, a teaspoon of mustard, or a splash of whatever stirfry, curry, or pasta sauce you have in the cupboard.
Instant noodles are awesome. The instant noodle cups are rough on the environment, so I try to avoid the ones with the styrofoam cups at least, or use noodles you can cook on the stove or in the microwave instead.
Sometimes finding your preferred noodles that don’t use animal unfriendly oil can be a bit of a challenge, but they’re out there! And there’s a whole range of noodles to choose from that cook almost as quickly as the instant variety (my favourite are these awesome ones made from sweet potato starch that are so springy you could use them for slingshots if you weren’t busy nomming them because they’re AMAZING with peanut sauce).
The flavour options can vary too. I’ve come across a fair few ‘chicken’ noodle packets that were accidentally vegan. If you just got plain noodles, or you’re mixing it up a little, here’s some of the easy sauces I like to use.
Sweet chilli sauce - make sure you drain the noodles for this one
Soy sauce - combined with sweet chilli sauce it’s really frickin’ good. You can drain the noodles or keep the water, either’s good.
Veggie stock - one cube to a cup of noodles (with water)
Barbecue sauce - just a little bit sweetens the noodles up nicely. Drain the noodles.
Peanut butter and soy sauce - A tablespoon of peanut butter, a splash of soy sauce, heat in the microwave (to melt the peanut butter) or stir straight through hot drained noodles, nommy. Add a bit of chilli if you like it spicy.
Frozen mixed veggies will also cook in roughly the same time as the noodles so long as they’re small, if they’re bigger, just put them in a few minutes earlier and then add the noodles to the boiling water.
You might find you like nuts and seeds in noodles, I prefer them in noodle dishes with thicker, more complex sauces, but that’s a personal preference.
Small TVP chunks will cook in roughly the same time as the noodles, and they flavour easily.
Sandwich type constructions
The humble sandwich. Cultures all around the world have developed technology to wrap some kind of delicious bread type scaffolding around other types of deliciousness. Pita pockets, Tortillas, Bagels, Burgers, Subs, the list goes on.
Some easy things to stuff in your bread type scaffolding:
Fresh tomato slices, fresh Basil (optional), and hummus. It’s super simple and it’s delicious. Also great toasted.
Banana sandwiches. I don’t know if this is a New Zealand thing only or what, but seriously, dry bread, or margaraine, or whatever, and banana slices. That’s all. It’s divine.
Avocado and tomato. With a sprinkle of salt and a splash of lemon juice if you’ve got it. Also fabulous toasted.
Tabbouleh. If you can get it easily ready made from the supermarket, this goes great on any kind of bread related construct. Also goes fabulously with hummus.
Falafel. Microwave a few spoonfuls for a minute or two, add to bread, add tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, hummus, whatever. Devour.
Cracker type things
There’s all kinds of crunchy crispy nommy things out there - rice or corn cakes, rice crackers, water crackers, the list goes on.
Stuff to put on them or dip them in
Peanut butter - surprisingly nommy on corn/rice cakes
Hummus - unsurprisingly nommy on everything
Fresh tomato (awesome with fresh basil)
Olives - There’s two kinds of people in this world. The ones who love olives, and the unlucky ones who don’t have the joy of olives in their lives.
Sliced banana - especially good on rice/corn cakes
Sticks, chips and dips
Stuff to dip with -
Toasted pita bread
Mini spring rolls (raw or cooked)
Stuff to dip in -
Hummus - it comes in a million flavours
Pesto (just need to find a vegan one, or make your own :) )
Salsa - home made or store bought
Sweet chilli sauce
Much like the humble sandwich, perhaps even pre dating it, we like to put stuff on bread, all kinds of bread.
Peanut butter - seriously. Just go buy some peanut butter and eat it
Bananas - yep, sliced bananas on toast is amazing.
Fresh tomato - Add salt, pepper (if you like it), and it’s divine
Avocado - mashed on toast with a fork, a pinch of salt, and some lemon juice, it’s divine.
Marmite - So about half the western world will know what I’m talking about. The rest will be dazed and confused. Google it. It’s awesome. Half of you will instantly hate it. Half of you will become helpless addicted to the magnificent mountain of b vitamins that is marmite. Also related to vegemite.
Baked beans - Heat em up, pile em on.
They’re cheap, they’re crunchy (cept for the giant soft ones, which are awesome in their own right), and they’re little edible bows. what more could you want? They’re usually vegan friendly, but it’s worth checking the bag just in case.
Yep. Grab some veggies, I quite like cauliflower and broccoli, put them in a covered microwave safe bowl and heat on high power for a couple of minutes. Then add whatever sauces you like (there’s a whole bunch listed here)
If you don’t have a microwave or don’t want to use one, just add about two cm (just under an inch) of water to a pot, add the veggies and cover. Bring to the boil on high heat, let it boil for a couple of minutes, then drain the water and the veggies should be cooked and nicely crisp.
Some meals for the 28 day health challenge. Cheap, affordable and really easy to make. I’m lazy but i still like eating delicious food.
Breakfast: - Fruit salad - Fruit smoothies - Overnight oats with fruit - Breakfast smoothie bowl (Any frozen fruit with fresh fruits) topped with muesli/cereal. - Cereal and dairy free milk - Toast with tofu scramble - Toast with spread (jam, peanut butter and what ever you like). - Toast served with grilled tomatoes, mushroom, spinach and hash brown.
- Pancakes with fresh fruits
Lunch/Dinner: - Mixed salad with mixed beans - Salads in general (mixed with whole grains, broccoli, pumpkin, beans, leafy salads etc.) - Burrito wrap with beans, tomato and veggies - Tacos, mixed beans, lettuce, tomato and baked wedges - Salad sandwich - Veggie burger with sweet potatoe wedges - Baked potatoe/sweet potatoe with mix salad - Salad bowl - cous cous, mixed veggies, roasted potato and mixed beans - Vegan pizza - tomato paste, garlic, mushrooms, onion, rocket, capsicum, olives, Italian herbs - Cous cous salad - Grilled veggies + tofu and hommus dip - Rice and vegetable stir fry + tofu - Rice, grilled tofu with mixed beans - Hokkien noodle/rice noodle stiry fry with vegetable + tofu - Tom yum noodles - rice noodles, vegetables + tofu - Miso soup noodles - rice noodles, vegetables + tofu
Generally, i have a big lunch and smaller dinner but always eat till satisfied. Simple little meals that i make on a daily basis, to which i’ll will play around with for the challenge. And of course there will be other meals on the menu which may use a little bit more expensive ingredients, e.g. quinoa, chia seeds, mushrooms etc.
1 Golden sweet potato, cut into bite size pieces 16 oz black beans 16 oz corn 1 cup packed broccoli sprouts 1 cup uncooked quinoa 1 avocado, cut into bite size pieces Salt and Pepper 1 tsp Cumin 1 TBSP lemon juice 1 TBSP vegetable oil of choice
1) Preheat oven to 425F. Toss sweet potato with oil, salt and pepper, and cumin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 2) While sweet potatoes are baking, rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Put in a pot with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until quinoa is translucent, about 15-20 minutes. 3) When everything is done cooking, toss everything together.
Optional: I like mine with a touch of habanero hot sauce. This dish would also be good with brown rice or faro.
Cashew Butter and Peach Chia Jam w/ a Lemon Cake Protein Shake
Mom. Mom. Mom? Can I be five for just awhile longer? I don’t want grown-up foods! OK, in all seriousness PB&J is not simply kid food. It’s just–
economical, delicious, nutritious.
Y’know how sometimes you have all these laborious, foodie foods in the fridge and you decide, “but, I really just want a PB&J.”
–well, I guess CB&J. That, or a bowl of cereal. …Tangent.
Cashew butter doesn’t really have much in the way of instructions. It’s actually way easy and there’s no reason to spend some of the outrageous grocery prices. I’m not going to tell you anything Earth shattering or revolutionary. I, in no way, came up with this. I’m just parroting the most basic instruction I’ve come across.
8 oz of unsalted cashews
salt, to taste (or if you can only pin down lightly salted, nix this)
1 TBSP lightly flavored oil
Directions: All you do is throw the cashews in the food processor and run it on low for 5-10 minutes, scraping down the sides when necessary. Then, toss in the oil and process again for 30 seconds. Add in any salt or flavorings you desire, and process again for 30 seconds. Store in the fridge. Pro-Tip. It gets really hard to spread after chilling so when I take my portion for a sandwich I nuke it for 30 seconds in the microwave.
Peach Chia Jam
½ lb peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks
3 TBSP chia seeds
juice of one lemon
½ tsp lemon zest
1 oz of water (depending on ripeness of peaches)
1 TBSP brown sugar (or whatever sweetener you prefer)
Directions: Prepare the peaches. In a small saucepan, add all the ingredients except the water and heat it up over high a high heat. Stir very frequently. If your peaches are a little on the unripe side and not readily rendering their liquids, add a little bit of water. Once it begins to bubble, take the heat down to low and continue to stir until it begins to thicken slightly. Take it off the heat and let it cool slightly. Transfer to a blender and puree. Let the chia continue to gel in the fridge for several hours before serving.
Lemon Cake Protein Shake
…for a half-size (double if you’d like as a post workout)
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup ice (or double the milk if you ain’t got time for that)
½ scoop unflavored protein powder
1 TBSP French Vanilla flavor syrup (I used sugar free Torani)
splash of lemon extract
sweeten, to taste (if the flavor syrup alone doesn’t quite do it for you)
Directions: Place all ingredients except the ice into a blender and let ‘er rip. Add the ice and blend again; use ice crush if that’s an available setting. If you’re going the double-milk route and omitting the ice it will mix up in a shaker cup just fine!
See! That wasn’t so difficult and nothing really beats homemade!
What I ate today: grilled salmon, canned black beans (seasoned with garlic powder, oregano, red wine vinegar, salt and black pepper), beetroots and mashed potatoes. I don’t know why people complain that eating healthy is boring… I actually quite enjoy simple healthy meals like these! :)
Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Brown rice, Spinach, and Mushrooms
1 acorn squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out 1 cup prepared brown rice 1 cup chopped spinach 1 cup finely diced mushrooms of your choice 2 TBSP vegetable broth 2 TSBP olive oil Salt and pepper 2 TBSP rubbed sage
1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the inside of the squash with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper to your liking. Rub the rims of the squash with the sage. Roast until the flesh is tender, about 20-30 minutes.
2) While the squash is roasting, sauté spinach and mushrooms over medium heat with olive oil or water. When spinach begins to wilt, add vegetable broth and prepared brown rice. Mix thoroughly and remove from heat.
3) When the squash is done roasting, remove from oven and stuff with the vegetable mixture. Serve warm.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. You want the dough to be lumpy when making pancakes, but you don’t want the starting base to be lumpy.
Melt your butter and combine with the apple sauce and sugar. With an electric hand mixer mix the brine until it’s stiff and fluffy.
Pour your milk and butter mixture into the peaked brine and lightly mix together.
Pour your wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and fold them together. Do not over mix! Your batter should be a little lumpy. Then set aside in the fridge for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes heat a large frying pan with some vegan butter. Take about 2 tbsp worth of batter and just drop it on your pan. Fry until little bubbles start forming then flip the pancake on the other side.
Once you’re finished you can top you pancakes with whatever you want. I used maple syrup and coco whip and some raspberries. Have fun!
Don’t mind my cat’s tail! That really is the best picture from my bunch and I couldn’t stop laughing, so I had to!
I had this ambitious idea to make lentil burgers this week and sometime around, hmm, right before lunch I said, “Or, I could skip getting it stuck all over my hands and sorting through the dud burgers and just smash the whole thing into a baking dish and call it a loaf.” I did make some significant changes to the flavor profile, so this is not my lentil burger recipe. I’ll have to share that with you sometime I’m not so lazy! I made the flavor profile much more Arabic seven-spice inspired and infused it with a tart glaze on top that adds a contrast to the deep earthiness of that spice mixture.
On the side, I served a Jerusalem salad. I had this salad for the first time at a shawarma place on my college campus and it’s taken me this long to properly replicate the dressing. It gives the plate a really nice fresh note and a little bit of coolness. I think these pair beautifully.
1 lb dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 eggs (or egg substitute)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 cup rolled oats, milled into flour
½ large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 serrano, minced
large handful of spinach, chopped
2 TBSP fresh parsley, minced
salt, to taste
½ tsp black pepper
1 + ½ TBSP cumin
½ TBSP paprika
⅛ tsp clove
⅛ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamon
2 TBSP pomegranate molasses
juice of a lemon
1 tsp sugar
Directions: Cook the lentils to package instruction ahead of time and have your vegetables prepared as well. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a food processor mill your oats and set them aside in a small bowl. Next, pulse your lentils in the food processor. Do not turn it into a puree, just pulse it around a few times to break them up a bit. If you think the lentils don’t have enough “give” to them add a tablespoon or two of water. In a large mixing bowl, toss in the lentil mixture, the 2 eggs, and the oil. Stir it around a bit. Now, add in the onion, carrots, garlic, serrano, spinach, parsley, and all salt + spices. Stir it around to combine thoroughly. Lastly, add in the oat flour and stir to recombine. In a small saucepan, pour in the pomegranate molasses, the lemon juice, and the bit of sugar. Heat it up over high heat and once it bubbles, take it down to low, and stir constantly until it thickens slightly.
Spray a baking dish (around 11”x13”) with no stick, spoon in the mixture, and even it out. Pour the pomegranate glaze on top and stick it in the oven. Cooking time will vary depending on ovens and dish dimensions so start checking for doneness at the 25-30 minute mark. 10-12 servings.
1 lb cucumber, diced
1 lb vine ripe tomatoes, diced (don’t keep too much of the “guts”)
½ red onion, diced
2 TBSP fresh parsley, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons depending on ripeness)
¼ cup tahini paste
3 TBSP plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt or alternative (I used So Delicious)
1 large clove of garlic
salt, to taste
Directions: Prepare vegetables (except the garlic) and place them in a mixing bowl. In the food processor combine the lemon juice, tahini, yogurt, garlic, and salt. Blitz it until completely smooth. Pour it on top of the vegetables and stir to combine. Ideally, let it sit the fridge for a bit before serving.
Peel and very finely slice the red onion, finely slice the lettuce and cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Drain the tuna, but keep the oil for the dressing. Boil the eggs for 7-8 minutes, peel and let it cool for few minutes, then cut it into quarters.
For the dressing, mix all the ingredients and oil from the tuna together, then season with salt and pepper to your liking.
To assemble the salad, add mixed leaves, lettuce, red onion, cherry tomatoes, tuna and eggs to a plate and top with dressing.
Homemade vegan spicy ramen miso soup! I used genmai (brown rice) miso pasta, tamari marinated mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, kale, green onion, broccoli, brown rice ramen noodles, sriracha, and sesame seeds. So good, so simple, so easy to make! Took like 10 minutes to wash and cut the veggies, and only 3 minutes to cook the ramen, and then you just throw em all together! Boom, done
Here’s the original recipe: