Easy On-The-Go Vegan Breakfasts


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easy vegan breakfasts

My work life has gotten pretty busy over the last several months. A new full-time job and getting up extra early to squeeze in some exercise leaves me little time in the morning to have a breakfast at home. As a result, I’ve focused on trying to either prep my breakfast the night before or have a few grab-n-go breakfast items on hand.

If you’re looking for some easy on-the-go vegan breakfast ideas, I’d be happy to share a few of my go-to’s with you:

Larabars + fruit (I particularly like the peanut butter cookie, cashew cookie, and cherry pie)

Overnight oats — soak oats and your favorite plant-based milk (plus a teaspoon of chia seeds) and top in the morning with fresh fruit, chopped dates, some nuts, or shredded coconut. Here’s a great recipe.

Speaking of oats, oatmeal cups are pretty handy! Try Bob’s Red Mill or Dr. McDougall’s — I’ve had both of these and really enjoy them.

Non-dairy yogurt + seeds + fruit — Daiya makes a new vegan Greek yogurt and they’re pretty yummy! Toss in some chia seeds, flax seeds, or hemp seeds and top with your favorite berries. Super yummy!

If you have a little more discipline, in the evening assemble an amazing breakfast sandwich with your favorite english muffin (I like Ezekiel muffins), a plant-based meat (I prefer Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon, Sol Cuisine Veggie Breakfast Patties, and occasionally Gardein Breakfast Patties), a slice of vegan cheese (Chao cheese is the best!), and a topping of spinach or kales leave. Wrap it all up in foil so it’s ready for the morning.

Whole grain english muffins or bagels smeared with some peanut butter or almond butter (or your favorite nut butter) have real staying power. And what’s not to love about starting your day with peanut butter😉

Smoothies! Combine plant-based milk, a frozen banana, and a scoop of vegan protein powder in a high-speed blender. There are a variety of vegan protein powders on the market — Vega, Plant Fusion, Phood, Nutivia, hemp-based powders — find one you love and drink up.

Coffeehouse stash — Some Fridays I like to treat myself by rolling by a local coffee shop. I grab a soy or almond milk latte, a banana, and a baggie of almonds. Between the protein in my soy milk and nuts, and the fiber in my fruit and nuts, these give me a hit of energy and satiety.

So now that I’ve shared my easiest, quickest breakfasts…what about you? How do you do breakfast on-the-go vegan style?😉

How To Be A Healthy Vegan: Helpful Books and Cookbooks


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healthy vegan books and cookbooks

I’ve been going through a lot of life changes, some of them great, some of them not-so-great. But no matter what 2015 threw at me, or what’s in store for 2016, one thing I know for sure: if you don’t have your health you have nothing.

I decided to go vegan in the first place for health reasons. Eventually my heart expanded to recognize the sentience and beauty of all living things and now I consider myself an ethical vegan, but good health is still very important to me. Does that mean I’m perfect? No. I’ll admit on an emotionally tumultuous weekend I’ve polished off a whole bottle of wine to myself (ha ha!), but that’s a rare occurrence. Overall, I endeavor to be a strong example of vegan health not just for my own sake, but also to show that yes, you can be healthy on a vegan diet.

There are a lot of amazing books out there on healthy vegan diets, usually with a focus on eating whole foods. If being a healthier vegan in 2016 is on your list of to-do’s, here are just a few titles I have on my own bookshelf (as seen in the photo above) and would recommend to you:

  • The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, MD, Thomas Campbell, MD
  • The China Study Cookbook, Leanne Campbell, PhD
  • Vegan for Her by Virgina Messina, JL Fields
  • The Good Karma Diet by Victoria Moran
  • The Plant-based Journey by Lani Muelrath
  • The Vegiterranean Diet by Julieanna Hever M.S., R.D., C.P.T.
  • The Abundance Diet by Somer McCowan
  • Forks Over Knives The Cookbook by Del Sroufe

Beyond what I have on my own bookshelf, you can find loads more titles around the internet, in bookstores, and in libraries. For more information on a healthy vegan diet, check out these titles:

  • Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina
  • Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet by Brenda Davis
  • Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell, PhD
  • Unprocessed by Chef AJ
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Julieanna Hever M.S., R.D., C.P.T.
  • The China Study All-Star Collection: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes from Your Favorite Vegan Chefs by Leanne Campbell, PhD
  • The Campbell Plan by Thomas Campbell, MD
  • Food for Life: How the New Four Food Groups Can Save Your Life by Neal Barnard, MD
  • Rethink Food: 100+ Doctors Can’t Be Wrong by Shushana Castle, Amy-Lee Goodman
  • The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn
  • How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD
  • Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
  • Eat to Live Cookbook by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

Do you have a favorite book or cookbook you would recommend to anyone who wants to adopt a healthy vegan diet? Please share in the comments; I’d love to keep a list of recommendations from you🙂

How to Adopt a Plant-Based Diet: Check out “The Plant-Based Journey” by Lani Muelrath + Pumpkin Muffin Recipe


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The Plant-Based Journey by Lani Muelrath

The holiday season is upon us and before you know it, people will be thinking about New Year’s resolutions. And what’s one of the most common resolutions people make? To get healthier. Research shows one of the best ways to reclaim your health (and the health of the planet, I might add) is to adopt a plant-based diet. But where does one begin? Between news articles, “health” blogs, numerous books, and various online resources, it can be overwhelming to choose a starting point from a source who knows what they’re talking about. If there’s one book I would encourage someone who is interested in making the switch to a plant-based diet, I would highly recommend The Plant-Based Journey by Lani Muelrath.

If you don’t know of Lani Muelrath, let me give you the (impressive) scoop: she’s an award-winning teacher, transition strategist, fitness expert, and dietary coach whose been plant-based for more than 40 years! Now she’s literally putting her knowledge and expertise right at your fingertips.

I’ve been vegan for over four years, so the idea of a plant-based diet is not new to me. That being said, even I found several (tofu) nuggets of inspiration and wisdom in this resourceful book.

The book has 6 sections (see the full table of contents here) that focus on several key areas to adopting a plant-based diet including:

  • Why choose a plant-based diet
  • How to plan a plant-based diet from kitchen tools, to pantry, to plate
  • The transition process that includes references to many helpful resources, as well as meal planning, social situations, and travel solutions
  • Keeping the commitment to a plant-based diet and long-term health going for the long-haul
  • Recipes!🙂

As I read this book, I noted several nice touches that I felt really added a special something to this plant-based “field guide”. I recognize that Lani is passionate about helping people get healthier and these extra touches really emphasized that passion. Some of the things I absolutely loved were:

  • Lani’s sharing of her personal story to going plant-based
  • A 7-day plant-based food journal from Lani as an example of what to eat (walking the walk and talking the talk!)
  • “Beware the FOP” — the “front of package” labeling that often provides misguiding food descriptions by way of clever marketing
  • Reader tips — words of advice, encouragement, and wonderful insights from Lani’s own blog and newsletter readers. In other words, folks just like you and me😉
  • Easy meal templates that help you compose a plant-based meal with plenty of flexibility
  • A personal testimony from my friend Sharon — who I had no idea was featured in this book! Sharon’s story details not only how she went plant-based but how she even got her husband and three young children on board, too. Yes, it can be done!
  • Recipes!🙂
  • This encouraging quote for a plant-based newbie:

You can think about food as being in three categories: 1) plant-based, 2) animal-based, and 3) refined/processed. As long as you’re eating as much as you can from the first category — plant-based foods — while minimizing or eliminating the other two, you’ll be well on your way.

I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to review The Plant-Based Journey by BenBella books. It’s so exciting to see such an amazing resource become available in a day and age where more and more people are turning to plant-based and vegan diets, and we want to be able to point them in a direction that is truly helpful and healthful.

I’m not the only one who has praise for The Plant-Based Journey, so please be sure to check out the blog tour. You’ll be amazed by the lovely food photos and have access to several delectable recipes. To start things off, and just in time for Thanksgiving, check out this pumpkin muffins recipe from The Plant-Based Journey — yummm!!!🙂

PUMPKIN MUFFINS from The Plant-Based Journey by Lani Muelrath

This recipe is adapted from the Easy Pumpkin Muffins in The China Study Cookbook, by LeAnne Campbell. Just like LeAnne, I use whole foods for sweetening when I can, and I decided to make this recipe using date cream—with excellent results. Sweet, moist, and delicious, these don’t beg for even a hint of jam, though a dab of Sweet Bean Cream (page TK) is a perfect match—kind of like whipped cream on pumpkin pie.

Date Cream
10 pitted Medjool dates (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup water

Muffin Base
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 (16-ounce) can pumpkin puree (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup soured plant milk (see instructions on page TK)
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the date cream:
1. Cover the pitted dates generously with water and soak for a couple of hours or overnight. Drain, saving the water to use as part or all of the 1/2 cup of water in the recipe. Add the soaked dates and the water to a food processor or blender. Blend to a rich paste.

For the muffin base:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners (or use a silicone pan).

3. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients, including the date cream. Add to the dry ingredients until just mixed.

5. Fill the prepared muffin cups to the top and bake for 40–45 minutes, until the tops bounce back when lightly pressed. Muffins will be moist and flavorful.

6. Remove from the oven and let stand for 1–2 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan and serve as is, with Sweet Bean Cream (page TK), or with your favorite jam. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: About 10 muffins


Fresh n’ Lean: #Vegan Meal Delivery Service Review (I Was Impressed!)


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Fresh n Lean Plantbased Meal Delivery

image source: Fresh n’ Lean

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they don’t have time to prepare healthy meals (let alone vegan meals), I’d be a rich woman. But I get it: not everyone has the energy to cook some days, knows how to cook a delicious, nutritious vegan meal, or even likes to cook. So…what if you could pay to have healthy, convenient, plant-based meals made for and delivered to you? Would you be interested? I sure would! That’s why I was so intrigued when Fresh n’ Lean contacted me for a product review.

If you’ve never heard of Fresh n’ Lean (which I hadn’t), they’re a plant-based meal delivery service (very cool!) that prides itself in helping people eat conveniently for overall health by offering nutrient-rich, fiber-full, balanced meals using all-natural ingredients, without any preservatives, GMOs, or artificial ingredients.

I’ve never tried meal delivery services. I’ve certainly tried my fair share of frozen, prepared meals. As someone who tries to be relatively health-conscious, I’m oftentimes turned off by the high levels of sodium in some of these frozen meals, not to mention they tend to be a soggy, sad mess once they’ve been heated😩 But then I had a fantastic experience with Fresh n’ Lean…

I had five items delivered to my home: apple almond oatmeal, lemon seed loaf, roasted bok choy & savory quinoa, Spanish vegetable rice, and garlic mushroom & kale pasta. Each little package has a nutrition label and ingredients list for reference. I decided I would have the oatmeal and lemon seed loaf as breakfast options and the other three meals as dinner options.

The ingredients are very clean — lots of non-gmo, organic, whole foods-based and gluten-free ingredients. For those of you that eschew oil, there are some oils used in a few of the meals. I’m not a nay-sayer to oil, so I was overall really delighted with the ingredients list.

You can either cook the meals in the oven or the microwave. For a true test of how these meals stood up to being re-heated, I used the microwave. Plus, nuking them only took 2-3 minutes. Whoa! I couldn’t believe how fresh everything tasted! I know that statement sounds like a cheesy infomercial statement, but it’s true! The diced apples in the oatmeal were crisp, as were the peas in the rice. The mushrooms in the savory quinoa and pasta dishes weren’t mush! (No pun intended, heehee.) All the dishes were flavorful despite a low-sodium focus and had really fantastic texture. I was truly impressed considering these were frozen meals!

Fresh-n-Lean-Apple-Almond-Oatmeal-ingredients Fresh-n-Lean-Apple-Almond-Oatmeal Fresh-n-Lean-Lemon-Seed-Loaf-ingredients Fresh-n-Lean-Lemon-Seed-Loaf-1 Fresh-n-Lean-Lemon-Seed-Loaf-2 Fresh-n-Lean-Roasted-Bok-Choy-and-Savory-Quinoa-ingredients Fresh-n-Lean-Roasted-Bok-Choy-and-Savory-Quinoa Fresh-n-Lean-Spanish-Vegetable-Rice-ingredients Fresh-n-Lean-Spanish-Vegetable-Rice Fresh-n-Lean-Garlic-Mushroom-Kale-Pasta-ingredients Fresh-n-Lean-Garlic-Mushroom-Kale-Pasta-1 Fresh-n-Lean-Garlic-Mushroom-Kale-Pasta-2

I tried to take some “prettier” photos of my samples, but I also wanted you all to see exactly how the items come packaged, so the photos of the foods eaten in their original containers (complete with fork punctures in the plastic) are intentional.

My favorite item was the lemon seed loaf. Such a filling breakfast with all those healthy seeds and the essence of lemon really perked me up in the morning. I also found the oatmeal to be very filling considering it’s a portion-controlled meal; the oatmeal really stuck with me all morning and kept me fueled until lunch time. The savory quinoa was also one of my favorite meals. It felt like a lot of food on the plate (for all you visual eaters) and was very satisfying. I really did like all the options I was sent! I honestly can’t complain🙂

If you check out more of the menu options on the Fresh n’ Lean website, you’ll see just how many delectable-looking meals they offer. YUM!

If you’re thinking about trying out Fresh n’ Lean’s meal delivery service, check out this great cost-comparison guide, too. Yes, a meal delivery service might be more expensive compared to buying foods yourself and cooking meals at home, but you’re paying for the convenience plus the added benefits of healthy, wholesome, plant-based ingredients. I actually think the plans are surprisingly affordable.

image source: Fresh n' Lean

image source: Fresh n’ Lean

I hope you’ll spread the news about Fresh n’ Lean and let others know about this resource that makes it easy for people to start incorporating more plant-based meals into their eating regimen. With the holidays upon us, wouldn’t this just be a great treat for someone!😉 Many thanks to the folks at Fresh n’ Lean who gave this humble blogger a chance to try their products. You’ve made me a believer in the work you do and I’m all the more grateful that companies like yours exist. Keep doing what you’re doing — putting plants on the plate.

BONUS! For all you fabulous readers, enter promo code ITSGOTVEGAN for 15% off meal plans (excluding “a la carte” menu)🙂

Banza Chickpea Pasta! #Vegan and Gluten Free


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Banza Chickpea Pasta

I love pasta. I could eat bowls and bowls of it. But all that gluten doesn’t love me back. I don’t have Celiac disease, but since eating predominantly gluten-free I feel lighter after meals and my skin suffers from less breakouts. While my body is happier with the mostly GF way of eating, my taste buds have been less happy.

You’ve probably tried gluten-free pastas…and disliked a lot of them. They can be gummy, slimy…plain ol’ unappetizing. However, when I went to Natural Foods Expo East this past Fall I happened upon Banza pastas.

I was delighted with the sample I was given. It was just a small taste of pasta shells in a marinara but the texture was not at all off-putting the way some gluten-free pastas can be. The texture was hearty, chewy, and a bit nutty thanks to the predominant ingredient: chickpeas. (These truly are amazing, versatile beans!)

Because Banza pastas are made using chickpeas they are also plenty high in protein and fiber. Plus Banza pastas are soy-free, non-gmo, and, of course, vegan🙂

gluten free chickpea pasta

If you look at how these particular pastas compare to regular pasta, you will see how much more protein and fiber each serving packs. Pretty impressive. And who says you can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet?!

high protein high fiber Banza chickpea pasta

There’s a variety of pastas to choose from: shells, penne, rotini, and elbows. You can buy them online; they even offer a variety pack! You can use this chickpea pasta just as you would in any pasta recipe — in a lasagna, for macaroni and cheese, tossed with garlic and oil, etc. I made a simple dish of Banza penne tossed in a marinara sauce with onion, greens, and tofu crumbles. If you’re looking for recipes, be sure to check out the Banza recipes on their website. The recipes aren’t strictly vegan, but are easily veganized and show how these chickpea pastas swap seamlessly into any dish you might use traditional pasta in.

Banza chickpea pasta marinara

Check out the store locator feauture on Banza’s website — hopefully you can find a store near you!

What are your thoughts on gluten-free pastas? Any particular brands you like and would recommend I try?

Cook the Pantry: Cookbook Review and Free Recipe!


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Cook the Pantry by Robin Robertson

When I first went vegan, one of my go-to cookbooks was Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson. Actually, I still refer to it quite often as someone who lives on a budget. I love beautiful, gourmet, impressive recipes just as much as the next vegan foodie, but on a daily basis I need recipes that are uncomplicated, quick, and use everyday ingredients. For the sake of helping more people go vegan, I think cookbooks such as these are all the more valuable. With Robin’s latest cookbook, Cook the Pantry, that’s exactly what you’ll find — easy, nutritious vegan meals in 20 minutes or less using ingredients you most likely have on hand.🙂

Robin Robertson is a tour-de-force when it comes to vegan cooking. She’s authored more than twenty cookbooks, many of which have been best sellers. With Cook the Pantry you’ll find easy instructions for vegan cooking, a pantry list of items to keep on-hand, information on plant proteins and essential kitchen equipment, time-saving tips, and of course, a wide variety of recipes for every course including:

  • soups, stews, and chilis
  • salads
  • pizza, burgers, and sandwiches
  • stovetop suppers
  • pasta
  • sweet treats

As I read through this cookbook I was so happy to discover Cook the Pantry really does live up to all that it promises. The ingredients list for each recipe aren’t unendingly lengthy, the cooking instructions are simple, and the recipes are pretty wholesome. There’s a decent amount of photos, too. (I need photos in a cookbook, people.) I think it’s a perfect cookbook for anyone who’s pressed for time in the kitchen or even someone who is new to vegan cooking as the recipes are vegan-newbie friendly. In fact, the recipe I am sharing with you today (with permission from Vegan Heritage Press) will demonstrate just how easy and delicious the recipes in this new cookbook are.

Cheesy Grits with Greens and Smoky Shiitakes

Cheesy Grits with Greens and Smoky Shiitakes*
Makes 4 servings

The addition of nutritional yeast and a little vegan butter give grits a cheesy flavor without the cheese. If you like, you may add 1/2 cup of shredded vegan cheddar for more cheesy goodness. The amount of time needed to cook the greens will depend on the type of greens you use and whether they’re fresh or frozen.

1 cup quick-cooking grits
2 teaspoons vegan butter (Earth Balance)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 scallions, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces mushrooms (any kind), sliced or chopped
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups chopped fresh or frozen greens (thawed and squeezed, if frozen)
1/2 cup vegetable broth

  1. Cook the grits according to package directions. (It should take about 5 minutes for quick-cooking grits.) Stir in the butter, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.
  2. While the grits are cooking, heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook 3 minutes to soften. Sprinkle on the liquid smoke and smoked paprika, tossing to coat. Add the greens and broth, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until the greens are tender, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on the greens. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. To serve, top the grits with the mushroom mixture.

Also, be sure to check out more recipes from and reviews on Cook the Pantry from around the vegan blogosphere😉

*(Recipe from Cook the Pantry © 2015 by Robin Robertson. Photo by Annie Oliverio. Used by permission Vegan Heritage Press LLC.)


Mexican Hot Chocolate Caramels! #vegan


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Fall is in full swing. People are feeling the festivity of the upcoming Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays, and I’m relishing this time of year! Not only do I love seeing tree leaves metamorphose into bursts of gold, orange, and red whilst getting nestled into my turtleneck sweaters, but I lovvve discovering all the new seasonal products vegan food retailers are releasing. It’s almost like Christmas came early 😍

For example, Dandies released vegan pumpkin marshmallows, Califia Farms has new vegan nog & peppermint mocha beverages, and now…my all-time favorite vegan caramels, Cocomels by JJ’s Sweets, has released Mexican Hot Chocolate caramels! (They also have two other seasonal flavors, coconut palm sugar and harvest spice, but I’m a chocolate girl 😉.)

Normally, I’m not a big fan of certain flavors infused into chocolate; I don’t care for chocolate-orange combinations, I’d be fine if I never ate chocolate mint anything, and I’m not a big fan of the chocolate-covered strawberry. Will I eat these chocolate confections? Yes. But my world would still revolve quite happily without them, too. 

Normally, I don’t love Mexican hot chocolate. I often find the addition of these traditional spices are too overwhelming for me personally and fail to strike a delicate balance with the sweetness of the chocolate. That being said…these caramels nail it

The cinnamon and ancho chili don’t  overpower these sweet, coconut milk-based caramels, and the warmth of the spices creep up delicately the more you chew, finally leaving a hint of heat at the finish. Man oh man, I couldn’t believe how much I loved this product! To make sure it was a winner, I even passed a few around to my meat-loving co-workers and they were blown away. One guy even asked me if I could make him a batch, ha ha! I confessed to him the caramels were a purchased product and, sadly, I can’t just whip them up in my kitchen.

I guess we all will just have to buy them. 😉


Cookbook Review: Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease and a Cookie Recipe!


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Vegan-Ease by Laura Theodore

I’m so thrilled and honored that I was asked to review Laura Theodore’s latest cookbook, “Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet.” I’ve been a fan of Laura Theodore, a.k.a. The Jazzy Vegetarian, for a long time! I’ve listened to her radio show and watched her cooking show and checked out her other cookbooks — you name it. As someone that has been involved in some capacity with the arts since childhood, I’ve always appreciated she incorporates her own passion for jazz music into her calling to share delicious, healthy vegan food with the masses.

After going through this cookbook page by page, I literally got out pen and paper and made a list of all the great features of Vegan-Ease so that I didn’t forget to talk about all the things I like about it (and you will, too!).

First off, I love the clever title, teehee😉 So often people make the mistake of assuming eating a plant-based diet requires too many expensive or complicated ingredients (neither of which are in Laura’s recipes in Vegan-Ease!), or that you have to give up some of your favorite dishes — not true! Eating a plant-based diet, especially in 2015, is…easy! Furthermore, I love that she uses the word “enjoying” in the full title. After all, no one is going to eat anything that they don’t enjoy. Yet again, people mistakenly assume a plant-based diet isn’t enjoyable; they assume it’s nothing but boring, tasteless tofu and vegetables, and while I love both tofu and veggies, any vegan can tell you there’s so much more to enjoy in the plant world. I mean, geez, I’m a chocoholic and regularly enjoy more than my fair share of goodies!

Secondly, Laura has given every recipe an “ease factor” of 1-3 based on the amount of ingredients used in each recipe and the length of cooking time. So no matter how stocked your pantry is or how much time you have, you can always flip to a recipe to determine what to cook — I love that!

Speaking of pantry-stocking, Laura lays the groundwork for what items to keep on hand and what utensils to have in your kitchen to help you always be prepared for joyful, plant-based cooking.

This cookbook is also highly educational with sections on why a plant-based diet is a good choice, how to get adequate nutrition on a vegan diet (sources of vitamins D and B-12, calcium, protein, etc.) and every recipe has nutritional information. There are even little “Chef’s Notes” that help you save time in the kitchen, suggest recipe substitutions (such as swapping out tofu for chickpeas in a breakfast scramble), and provide general “good to know” plant-based diet tips. I’m telling you, Laura Theodore must be some sort of cooking guru😉

4 ingredient cookies RI5A9723One of the things I really can’t stand in cookbooks is a lack of food photos. It’s silly, I know, but I’ve heard this complaint before from other people, so it’s not just a pet peeve of mine. And even though our food doesn’t ever come out looking like the food in the photos, we can’t deny we “eat with our eyes.” At any rate, I’m happy to report there’s a photo for almost every single recipe in Vegan-Ease! Yay!! Thank you, Laura! And man, there are a lot of recipes — appetizers, beverages, breakfasts, quick breads, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, desserts, and even holiday recipes — to name a few.

And just so you aren’t ever sure what recipe to serve to whom or for what occasion, there’s a section on meal-planning (whether you are serving your own family or hosting a whole plant-based dinner party) and a menu section that literally plans out your menu for any theme-type of dinners you want to have, such as “Holiday Dinner”, “Burger Deluxe”, “Fabulous Fiesta”, “Gluten-Free, Soy-Free” and more.

In a nutshell, no matter how new you are to a plant-based diet, no matter what course you want to serve, whatever questions you have about plant-based nutrition, Laura has everything you need in this new cookbook. You can tell she’s put a lot of time, thought, and focus into making the transition to a plant-based diet as tangible as possible.

And as your reward for taking the time to read about “Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet”, Laura has graciously allowed me to share her recipe for Four Ingredient Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies!

These cookies, as the title suggests, only uses four simple, wholesome ingredients and have an “Ease Factor” of 1. They are quite scrumptious and hit the spot for that cookie craving without sending you into a sugar coma. I can vouch for this as I ate quite a few in one sitting😉

Four Ingredient Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

four ingredient chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Makes 16 to 18 Cookies

2 large, ripe bananas
1Πcups rolled oats
1⁄3 cup raisins
1⁄3 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
Put the bananas in a medium-sized bowl and mash with a potato masher or large fork until smooth. Add the oats, raisins and chocolate chips; stir to combine.
Using a cookie scoop or large spoon, drop a heaping tablespoonful of the cookie batter onto the lined baking sheet, gently flattening it with a rubber spatula or clean fingertips. Continue in this manner with the remaining cookie dough.
Bake for 13 to 17 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and cookies are almost set. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, cookies will keep for about 3 days.

Recipe © 2015 Laura Theodore, published by Jazzy Vegetarian, LLC, reprinted by permission.


New Cookbook Review: Vegan Bowls by Zsu Dever PLUS a Recipe!


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Vegan Bowls vegan cookbook

One complaint I regularly hear about cooking meals at home is that it takes too much time in the kitchen to put together a delicious, satisfying, and healthy meal for the family. After all, we live in a society where it’s all too convenient to hit the drive through. That’s why “the bowl” meal is your saving grace. By throwing together your basic meal components—protein, starch, and vegetable—you get everything you need in one easy bowl. Zsu Dever’s new “Vegan Bowls: Perfect Flavor Harmony in Cozy One-Bowl Meals” cookbook will not only show you how to do this, but will help you create a bowl that hits all the right notes—texture, aroma, color, flavor combinations, and taste—speedily and healthfully.

Before I delve into the highlights of this cookbook, be sure to check out Zsu’s website. She has an extensive background in the restaurant business and vegan cooking, and hails from a long line of culinary professionals and restaurateurs. She is passionate about teaching new vegans and vegetarians how to succeed with their plant-based lifestyle and sharing the recipes that keep her family happy. Considering most of these recipes only take about 30 minutes to prepare, I daresay you and your family, too, will be pleased with the recipes in this cookbook🙂

Zsu’s book is broken down into several bowl sections:

  • All About Bowl Food
  • Just-in-case Basics
  • Grain Bowls
  • SautĂ©ed Bowls
  • Pasta Bowls
  • Grilled Bowls
  • Salad Bowls
  • Soup Bowls
  • Breakfast Bowls
  • Build Your Own Bowls

The first and last chapters help you understand the basics of building a successful bowl meal and the Just-in-case Basics chapter provides a few extra recipes that “will augment the others in this book.” Then you get into a plethora of recipes for whatever type of dish you’re in the mood for—breakfast, lunch, dinner, pasta, soup, etc. There are a lot of traditional dishes in this cookbook that pay homage to classic recipes (with a vegan twist) as well as original recipes from Zsu, so there are a fantastic variety of meals to choose from.

It’s important to read the recipes clearly before you begin cooking (as is the rule for any recipe) and to put all your components in place beforehand. This makes for being as efficient as possible in the kitchen, which, of course, is something we all want😉

One thing Zsu mentions, and I can attest to this in my cooking from this cookbook, is that just because the end result is a one-bowl meal, you’ll still want to make sure you have the appropriate utensils, pots, and plenty of counter space before you begin cooking. In case there’s any question about what you’ll need, Zsu has provided a handy “Kitchen Equipment” section in her cookbook. There’s also an ingredient glossary so you can do the appropriate grocery shopping, although many of the recipes call for ingredients that aren’t too hard or inconvenient to come by these days. Thank goodness for that; I can’t stand it when a cookbook that claims to help you save time calls for hard-to-find ingredients that you actually lose time in trying to find!

Another feature I really love about this cookbook is that there are plenty of little side notes that detail gluten-free, soy-free, even oil-free options as well as other substitutions tips.

I was thrilled with the recipe I made from Vegan Bowls—the Indonesian Stir-Fried Noodle Bowl. The sauce was flavorful and really elevated the basic ingredients that tend to have little-to-no flavor on their own. That’s the magic of this cookbook—the art of the perfect bowl. This recipe serves four people and the portion sizes are pretty good (in case you have a hearty appetite like me!). And while I’m not a member of a family of four, I’m actually okay with that. More bowl for me!

Indonesian Stir Fried Noodle Bowl

Indonesian Stir-Fried Noodle Bowl

Mei goreng or bami goreng is a popular street food all over Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. It is a sweet and spicy dish of noodles fried with vegetables and eggs. The sauce usually calls for kecap manis, a thick, sweet sauce, but here we will make our own sauce using tamari, mirin, fresh ginger, and garlic.

8 ounces medium-thickness brown rice noodles

1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup reduced-sodium tamari
1/4 cup mirin
1 tablespoon sambal oelek, or to taste
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon natural sugar

1/4 cup vegetable broth, divided
1 small red onion, cut into 1/8-inch slices
3 cups small broccoli florets
3 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 celery rib, cut into 1/8-inch slices
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or vegetable broth
6 ounces baby kale or baby spinach
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed in a bowl of hot water and drained

NOODLES: Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook just shy of al dente, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Drain the noodles and cool under running water. Set aside.

SAUCE: Combine the broth, tamari, mirin, sambal oelek, ginger, garlic, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

VEGETABLES: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of broth and the onion. Stir and cook until the onion is browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of broth to the skillet. Add the broccoli. Stir and cook until the broccoli begins to char, about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage, celery, garlic and 1 tablespoon of broth. Stir and cook until the cabbage begins to char, about 2 more minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside with the onion. Add the sauce to the skillet and simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the oil or 2 more tablespoons of broth, the kale, the edamame, the reserved noodles, and the reserved vegetables. Stir and cook until the pasta is warmed through and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with more sambal oelek and tamari. Serve hot in bowls.

(Recipe from Vegan Bowls, copyright© 2015 by Zsu Dever. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.)