Polenta with vegetables

Polenta is a corn-meal porridge. You can top polenta with anything you like which makes it a delicious options for breakfast, lunch and even dinner.

Polenta is identified as a yellow corn-meal. The way it’s process produces a more whole form of what many know as grits and contains 6 g of fiber. ( The most popular form of grits only have .7 g – yet I believe there is a white corn that can be used to create white polenta “grits” which reserves the whole kernels.

If cooking on the stove-top it takes about 30 minutes. Use 1 cup of polenta to 6 cups of water.

But I prefer the much easier option of using an Instant Pot. This recipe makes 4 – 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 6 cups water or broth

Vegetable Toppings:  (in photo)

  • `1 bell pepper
  • 2 stalks green onion
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 4 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 4 cups spinach
  • Salt, pepper and crushed red pepper (optional)

Directions: (for Instant Pot)

  1. Add polenta, water and sprinkle with a little salt (optional) into Instant Pot and stir.
  2. Cook for 10 minutes (manually set or use ‘Rice’ button).
  3. After time is up, Press ‘Cancel’ to switch to ‘Off’ and allow natural pressure release (usually 10/15 minutes).
  4. Stir to combine water and corn-meal. Using a whisk makes this easier.

Cooking Vegetables:

  1. Heat griddle or pan on stove-top.
  2. Add 1 tsp of oil and/or 2 TBS water to the pan.
  3. Add all vegetables except for spinach and stir-fry (stir-steam) until desired tenderness, sprinkle with seasonings of choice.
  4. Remove vegetables to a plate, turn off heat, add spinach and allow to wilt. (Adding a bit of water to create steam will help spinach wilt.)

Serve by adding polenta to a dish and topping with the vegetables.

Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing

I finally got around to making this salad dressing and I’m happy that I did. I added to a Tex-Mex salad and…..YES! Yummy!

Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing on top of Tex-Mex Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews (soak 1 – 2 hours if you do not have a high-speed blender)
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 TBS)
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp snipped chives (or the top green part of green onions)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender for a very smooth dressing.

Note: This recipe contains 50-70 calories per TBS. (50 calories if you only use 1/2 cup cashews)

Buckwheat and Millet Pancakes

This is my go-to recipe for breakfast (in addition to a morning smoothie which I usually have while cooking pancakes). Notice there aren’t any sweeteners, gums or extra fillers in this gluten-free recipe. Just the basic ingredients and I enjoy them with unsulphured molasses, a touch of maple syrup and cold-pressed flax seed oil (an optional boost of Omega-3’s).

Ingredients:
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup millet flour
2 TBS ground flax seeds (can add up to 4 TBS)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
2 cups nut milk (or water will work just as well)
2 tsp baking powder

Directions:

  1. Heat a hot griddle or skillet over low to medium heat.
  2. Mix all ingredients together well, except for the baking powder
  3. Allow to sit about 2 – 3 minutes for the flax seeds to help bind the mixture. (The ground flax seeds is a plant-based substitution for eggs.)
  4. Add a bit more nut milk or water to attain the consistency needed to pour the pancake batter onto a griddle.
  5. Add baking powder and mix slightly. ( You can add another tablespoon of water to help the powder dissolve easily.)
  6. Add just a touch of oil if needed(I prefer coconut oil when needed) to your griddle or skillet.
  7. Cook the pancakes. (They should be easy to pour from the bowl and form round circles on the cooking surface. If not, you can use a spoon to spread a bit or add more liquid).

Note: I make my own buckwheat and millet flours using a Vitamix grain container that has a specific blade for grinding grains.

Suggestion: Mix all the dry ingredients together and store in an airtight container. To use, add liquid of choice in 1:1 ratio of dry mix. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Then, if using, add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Cook on hot griddle.

Guacamole – Quick and Easy

Add all of the following ingredients to a food processor and give it a whirl!

  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 lemon or lime or both, juiced
  • 1 green onion stalk
  • 1/2 – 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 of jalapeno (I usually remove most of the seeds for a milder version.)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of “tightly packed” cilantro (I usually add a bit of parsley too)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of sea salt, optional
Before
After

Tex-Mex Casserole Without Cheese? (Vegan)

Do you think it would be impossible to make a casserole, a Tex-Mex Casserole without cheese? Well, let me show you how I did it for this recipe.

I chose corn tortillas to keep the recipe wheat-free (aka gluten-free).
And guess what? If you have someone that just loves cheese, they can top their serving with the cheese of their choice (…even vegan cheese 🙂

Alternative to cheese, but creamy?  Add avocado, guacamole or this cashew cilantro cream sauce.  

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (or 2 cups freshly diced)
  • 1 15 oz can of pinto beans (or 2 cups home-cooked), rinsed
  • 1 15 oz of black beans (or 2 cups of home-cooked), rinsed *
  • 1/4 bell pepper (any color)
  • 1 small onion
  • 8 ounces of your favorite salsa
  • 1 15 oz can (2 cups) of enchilada sauce (or see homemade recipe below)
  • 6 corn tortillas (or flour)
Directions:
  1. Cook onions and bell pepper.  If using ground meat add at this step too.
  2. Add other ingredients except for the enchilada sauce and tortillas, mix together.
  3. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish. 
  4. Tear (or cut) the 2 tortillas into smaller sizes and place on the bottom of the dish.
  5. Layer 1/3 of the filling over the tortillas.
  6. Try to repeat steps 4 and 5 twice, but it doesn’t have to be that structured.
  7. Mix the enchilada sauce and thickener of choice together and pour over the casserole.
  8. Bake at 350 for about 20  – 30 minutes, until bubbly and sauce has thickened.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TB red wine vinegar (really almost any vinegar can be substituted here)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (or 2 Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (or even Italian herb spices)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 – 2 TBS chili powder (or TACO Seasoning works well too)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 – 2 slices of jalapenos for added flavor
  • 1 TBS of thickener (tapioca, potato starch, gluten free flour or cornstarch -organic/Non-GMO please)
Directions: Place all ingredients into blender and blend well. You can  also add a tablespoon of thickener at this point for easy mix-in.

Served topped with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Coconut Milk Rice and Veggie Soup

I needed a quick meal and this is what I came up with. It’s a one-dish meal that’s easy to prepare. See notes below for optional add-ins and suggestions.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped and broken into small bits
  • 1/2 cup frozen collard greens
  • 1/4 medium onion
  • 1/2 small green bellpepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice (I used Basmati rice)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • Suggested seasonings: onion powder, garlic powder, dash of cumin, salt and pepper (to taste)
  • cashew cilantro cream sauce (optional)
Directions:
  1. Add cauliflower, onion, bell pepper and garlic to a pot.
  2. Saute using a bit of coconut oil or steam saute (using a bit of the coconut milk) until onions become translucent
  3. Add all of the coconut milk and continue to cook vegetables until they are well-cooked. (I cooked in my Instant Pot for 5 minutes, 4 would have been enough.)
  4. Add cooked rice, frozen peas, cashew cilantro cream sauce (if using) and other seasonings to your desired taste.
Notes:
  • I think next time I will add some mushrooms and perhaps a bit of wild rice too. Some celery might be a good addition too…and lentils/chickpeas (my favorites).
  • It’s a whole, plant-based dish that is easily adaptable to accommodate everyone in the family.  In my family, vegetable dishes are the main meal and meats are side items.

Cashew Cilantro Cream Sauce

I had just bought a new bunch of cilantro and I removed all the stalks and leaves that were loose because I didn’t want them to go “bad” at the bottom of the jar. (This is how I keep my herbs fresh in the fridge.) So I was left with a bunch that I wanted to use up in a hurry. I decided to make an alternative to the cheese topping for the variety of plant-based tacos that I eat very often – so I searched the internet looking for a cilantro sauce. This was the first to appear. I found it at The Baking Fairy’s website (see below), but here is my recipe. I think next time I will definitely try fresh garlic (1/2 to 1 clove) and fresh onions (1/8 inch slice), yet this recipe is still a good one.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soaked cashews
  • 1/4 cup cashew milk (or any unsweetened nut milk, I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup or more of cilantro (packed tightly)
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1/2 jalapeno (I only had jalapeno juice from my homemade pickled jalapeno peppers)
  • 3/8 – 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/8 – 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 3/8 – 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • a little pepper is also a nice addition
Directions:
  1. Add all ingredients except for the nut milk to a blender and blend.
  2. Add nut milk as needed until you get to your desired consistency.
The original recipe for this sauce was found at https://www.thebakingfairy.net/2017/05/sofritas-tacos-cashew-cream/.

Buddha Bowl using Leftovers

I think I have been creating these all along prior to the term “Buddha Bowl” becoming popular. This is my second “go to” option when trying to determine what to eat next. My first is plant-based Tex-Mex meals. (I live in Texas y’all!)

The Buddha Bowl I prepared today uses quinoa as the base! I love quinoa for so many reasons and healthy ones too. It’s gluten-free and high in protein (a concern for some when embarking on a plant-based eating plan). I had roasted sweet potatoes using my favorite recipe. I had a bunch of colorful Swiss chard that I needed to prepare and hummus (which I practically keep on hand at all times). So I threw all of these “leftovers” together and created a very satisfying lunch.

Preparation Notes:

Quinoa
pre-soak 1 – 2 hours for better nutrient absorption

Sweet Potatoes
Diced and seasoned with cumin, turmeric, salt, paprika, chili powder, garlic (sprinkled on as you like). Toss with a little coconut oil (barely oil them) and bake 350 – 400 degrees Farenheit
Swiss Chard
Saute green onions and bell peppers in water until soft. Add tomatoes and Swiss chard until wilted. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top

Hummus
Seasonings: cumin, lemon juice, tahini, roasted red peppers, salt/pepper and sometimes olives
Hey, here are some ingredient ideas for a Tex-Mex Budha Bowl!
  • Mexican “brown” rice
  • Black or pinto beans
  • Fresh spinach, kale or romaine lettuces
  • Roasted corn
  • Salsa or Pico de gallo
  • Lemon/Lime Juice
  • Avocado (or guacamole)
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Not-so cheese (a Vitamix recipe)

Sweet Potato Coconut Milk Curry

I prepared this in my InstantPot. But I’m sure a pot on the stove top will work just as well. This was quick and easy. The perfect warm and satisfying meal for the cold night on which I prepared it. (Note: this recipe was based on a recipe I saw at Pinch of Yum, but I added a few things.)

Ingredients:

  • 4 green onions (about 1/3 cup), chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (add depending on the spice level you want)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup garbanzo/chickpeas, cooked
  • 1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup water for InstantPot or up to 1 1/2 if on stove top
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped peanuts (or cashews)
  • 2 x 2 strip of Kombu for added minerals
After cooked:
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or cashew butter) You can also take some of the soup broth and blend with peanuts (or cashews) to thicken the soup.
  • 1-2 cups kale, stems removed, chopped (or any other dark leafy greens: collards, chard)
  • 1 – 2 tsp miso paste (for added flavor)
Directions:
  1. Place all ingredients in InstantPot and cook for 10 minutes or add to a pot on the stove top and cook until potatoes are tender.
  2. Add the “after cooked” ingredients. If using InstantPot, after quick or natural release.

Black Bean Corn Tortilla Tacos (Plant-Based, Vegan)

I usually cook a large batch of beans and freeze whatever I don’t use immediately. So, for this recipe the only ingredient that I had to make was the “Not-So” Cheese Sauce that I found in the Vitamix recipe book. If you have the opportunity to purchase a Vitamix you should definitely do so. You won’t regret it. I think I’ve owned mine for about 7 years and the only part I have replaced is the rubber top recently because it wasn’t fitting as snugly as it did when I first purchased it (6 years ago).
I pulled these tacos together rather quickly. The corn tortillas are Tortilla Land brand that I find in my local. The are uncooked and I prepare them on the griddle that I keep on the left side of my stove-top mostly for this purpose (and cooking pancakes just as often).
Ingredients:
  • Tortilla Land corn tortillas (or make your own using masa flour)
  • black beans (red beans or pinto beans would also be good, canned is fine – just rinse them)
  • fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • green onions
  • avocado (or guacamole – see recipe below)
  • Not-So Cheese Sauce (the recipe I follow uses potato starch to create a thicker version) or Forks Over Knives No Cheese Sauce
Other possible toppings: salsa, cilantro, pico de gallo, your favorite vegetables, etc
Directions:
  1. Cook tortillas according to package directions
  2. Warm the beans on the stove top – using a bit of water to prevent from burning
  3. Add your toppings

My Guacamole Recipe

Add all of the following ingredients to a food processor and give it a whirl!

  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 lemon or lime, juiced
  • 1 green onion stalk (Low FODMAP and I like them because they are milder.)
  • 1/2 – 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 of jalapeno (I usually remove most of the seeds for a milder version.)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of “tightly packed” cilantro