Vegan Brunswick Stew

My grandmother used to make the most amazing Brunswick stew with fresh veggies from her garden and BBQ from a local restaurant. After I went vegan, I had a favorite recipe I liked to use from a blog that has since vanished, so I had to come up with my own as I didn’t like the others that are out there as much. Most call for way too much sugar and BBQ sauce or for veggies that aren’t part of my Brunswick stew memories.

I would like to experiment with jackfruit instead of hearts of palm one day, but jackfruit is much harder to find where I live. I imagine you could just swap them out one for one.

2 cans hearts of palm (I have made this with 1 can before, as these can be a bit pricey)
1 cup corn kernels (I like shoepeg, but any type will do)
1 1/4 cup frozen lima beans
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
15oz can tomato sauce
1 medium russet potato, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup of your favorite bbq sauce
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 Tablespoons soy sauce or vegan Worcestershire
2 Tablespoons molasses
3 cups water + your favorite bullion for that amount of water (I used 2 teaspoons “no chicken” + 1 teaspoon “no beef” from the Better than Bullion brand, which is my absolute favorite and packs so much flavor!)
1/2 teaspoon pork rub spice mix (totally optional, but I had a jar on hand I got for free at a local spice store… don’t worry, the spice mix is vegan!)

Heat a soup pot over medium heat and drizzle a little oil in the bottom. Sauté the onion and celery for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

Add the rest of your ingredients and cover the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. (If you use baby limas, look at the back of the bag and you may can reduce the cook time by half if you’re in a hurry.)

Taste for salt and pepper. I didn’t have to use any additional salt as the bullion, soy sauce, and spice mix were enough). Serve with cornbread or crackers.

Cranberry Maple Pecan Granola

This granola is very versatile. Feel free to swap out the fruit, nuts, seeds, and even spices for what you have or prefer. For example, I think a little dried ginger and nutmeg would be good for the fall and winter. You can use raisins, blueberries, cherries, or whatever dried fruit you have. Swap out the pecans for almonds, cashews, walnuts, or whatever your favorite nut is. Swap out the hemp for flax… you get the idea! 🙂

Makes about six 1/2 cup servings

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup reduced fat, unsweetened coconut flakes
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tablespoons smooth almond butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 Tablespoons dried cranberries
2 Tablespoon hemp hearts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Warm the coconut oil, maple syrup, almond butter, and vanilla in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally and mashing up the almond butter with the back of a spoon, until the coconut oil is melted and the almond butter is soft and smooth.

Combine oats, coconut, salt, and pecans in a medium mixing bowl. (Set the cranberries and hemp hearts aside to add after baking.) Pour the warm maple syrup mixture over the oat mixture and stir until well combined.

Spread in a single layer onto your cookie sheet and bake 35 minutes, stirring every 10. Now add the dried fruit and hemp seeds and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to a week.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Spinach Mushroom Lasagna

This makes 1 9×9 pan, about 5 servings if you’re hungry  (6 if you’re not that hungry) 🙂

I know this sounds like a lot of work, but since you can do some tasks while others are cooking (or even make some of this ahead of time), it’s really not that big of a deal.  I’ll explain how to minimize your time by multi-tasking in the instructions below.



6 gluten free lasagna noodle sheets (I use the Explore Cuisine Organic Green Lentil Lasagna ones)
1 recipe for tofu ricotta (follows)
10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed (squeeze all the liquid out!)
8oz sliced mushrooms
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups vegan mozzarella shreds
1 recipe vegan parmesan (follows)
24 oz jar store-bought marinara sauce (because it’s one less thing to make yourself!)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Get a pot of water boiling to cook your pasta.

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, sauté the mushrooms, onion, and garlic in a little oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and heat just a couple of minutes until warm.  Your water should be boiling for your pasta now, so get that going.

While the pasta is cooking, go ahead and make the tofu ricotta and vegan parmesan (you can also make these a couple of days in advance).

When everything is ready, spoon a small amount of the marinara into the bottom of your 9×9 pan, just so you have a thin layer of sauce in the bottom.  Add a layer of lasagna noodles (3 noodles, unless you have the longer style noodle, in which case you can cut them to fit and use the “scraps” to form another layer).

Add a half of your tofu ricotta mixture, then half of your spinach/mushroom mixture,half of your parmesan and mozzarella, then a layer of sauce.  Repeat the layers once more, ending with the final sauce and cheese layer on top.

Bake 40 minutes and then let cool at least 10 before slicing.

Tofu Ricotta

14oz block extra firm tofu
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon white miso
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 finely chopped shallot
2 teaspoons dried parsley

Drain the tofu and use your hands to crumble it into a bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Vegan Parmesean (from
¾ cup raw cashews
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Put everything in a blender or food processor and process until finely ground.

Healing Lentil Lemon Soup

So most people think “chicken soup” when they are sick, especially with a cold or the flu.  I don’t think the chicken or the noodles have anything to do with, at least from what I’ve read!  I’m no doctor, but I think its probably the veggies, garlic, onion, and hot liquid, which opens up your sinuses, soothes your throat, and keeps you hydrated.

Regardless,  we vegans and vegetarians need something warm, hydrating, and healing when we are sick and I’m willing to bet this soup is a lot more beneficial to your body than dead meat, bleached-flour white noodles, tons of sodium, and oil.  🙂

This is one of my favorite soups, whether I’m well or not, and it has tons of healing properties!

Garlic – Tons of health benefits!  In addition to its antibacterial and antiviral properties, it boosts your immune system, reduces cold symptoms, and has disease-fighting antioxidants!

Onions – Onions contain phytochemicals, as well as Vitamin C, so they help improve immunity.  They also blast free radicals in your body, reduce inflammation, and heal infections.

Kale – A true superfood, kale is extremely high in Vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-cancer nutrients.  It’s also anti-inflammatory,  great at detoxifying your body, and provides cardiovascular support.

Lemons – High in Vitamin C, alkalizing, antibacterial, and anti-cancer.


1 small onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced  (or one giant “elephant garlic” clove)
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped (about 3 cups, packed)
1 cup brown lentils
4 teaspoons Better Than Bullion No Chicken Base
5 cups water
juice of 2 lemons (2-4 Tablespoons, depending on how much you love lemon)
salt + pepper to taste

How To:
Saute onions, celery, carrots, and garlic over medium heat with a little oil or water for about 5 minutes.

Add the remain ingredients, except the lemon and kale.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and kale and simmer another 5 minutes.

Simple.  Easy.  Healing.  Delicious.  Feel better soon! 🙂



Vegan Lettuce Wraps

P.F. Chang’s is one of my favorite restaurants and I love their vegetarian lettuce wraps (Ma Po Tofu is also awesome)!  However, I know when I go there that I’m consuming way more sodium and fat than my RDA.  The lettuce wraps have 2,390 mg sodium and 21 g fat!

I decided I wanted to make a healthier version at home that I could feel better about eating.  This also has lots more veggies, which you can feel free to add or omit according to what you have.  My wife and I love this recipe, which I’ve adapted from others I’ve found online, and it makes enough for us to both have dinner and then lunch the next day too.

What you’ll need for the sauce:

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon agave
2 teaspoons white miso paste
3 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon freshly ginger, peeled and grated

For the filling:

1 Tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
12 oz  extra firm tofu
8 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
8-oz can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely diced (or use the large grate side of a box grater)
pinch red pepper flakes, if desired

10-12 Large leaves from a head of romaine, green leaf lettuce, or (if you must) ice berg lettuce

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

Wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel and set a heavy pot or iron skillet on top for about 5 minutes or so.  You can leave it longer, while you chop up all the veggies.  You want to get as much liquid out of the tofu as you can.

Once you’ve got everything ready, heat a large wok or skillet over medium heat with the oil.  Break the tofu into chunks with your hands and then crumble each chunk into the pan (think tofu scramble).  Go ahead and add the onions and bell pepper too since they take longer to cook.  Cook this mixture, stirring occasionally and breaking up any larger chunks of tofu with your spatula, for about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, water chestnuts, and carrots and cook another 5 minutes.

Finally, add the red pepper flakes (if using), the sauce mixture, and the green onions and heat through another 3 minutes or so.

Serve by filling each lettuce leaf with around 1/4 cup filling, depending on how big your lettuce is.  I typically just place the bowl of filling and a separate bowl with lettuce leaves in the middle of the table and we stuff and eat them one at a time.

Beefless Veggie Stew

It’s finally starting to get cold this Christmas season.  We had a terrible drought that lasted most of Autumn and the much-needed rain has brought the chilly weather in with it.  It’s cold and dark when I get home from work now, so I love meals like a bowl of hot soup that come together in no time!  With prep, dinner is ready in less than half an hour!

I cannot say enough positive things about the flavors that the Better Than Bullion brand brings to soups, stews, and gravies.  I use their “No Chicken Base” most of the time, but their “No Beef Base” has a deeper flavor, like beef broth, for recipes like this.  It is essential to getting that good beef-like flavor here.  It’s also great in gravy and in vegan French onion soup!

Makes 5 good, fill-you-up servings!


1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 large portabella mushroom caps, cubed into ¾” inch pieces
2 pounds potatoes, diced into ¾” pieces
1 cup frozen green peas
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water
2 tablespoons Better Than Bullion No-Beef Base
¼ cup tomato paste
black pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

In a large soup pot, cook the onions, celery, and carrots over medium heat in a little olive oil for 3 minutes.  Next, add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add in the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.

Using a ladle, spoon out some of the broth into a soup bowl and whisk in the flour.  Whisk that back into the bot and let simmer another 2-3 minutes until the soup has thickened up a little.  Now you can serve!

New Blog!

Hi all,

While I’m not abandoning this blog in any fashion whatsoever, I wanted to let you know that I have a new blog, dedicated to blender recipes that take around 30 seconds each.  I hope that you will follow this new blog at as I will be posting delicious, healthy recipes for busy folks like myself. The new blog has just been started, so there isn’t much to see at the moment, but I will be posting there more often since it’s dedicated to quick, easy recipes.

❤ Lauren

Dr Oz’s Green Drink, Made Bearable!

This smoothie is GREEN!  🙂

dr oz smoothie

I’ve really gotten into green smoothies in the past year or so.  I’m known at work as the girl who always brings a jar of “green sludge” for breakfast.  I’ve found that if people don’t see the smoothie and they taste it, they really like it, but the green color just turns people off– reminds them of swamp water or water from a swimming pool that hasn’t been tended to in a few years.  I get that, but I personally love the beautiful, bright green color that most of my smoothies turn out to be.

I recently came across all the internet hype over Dr Oz’s “green drink,” which in fact, is a smoothie, not a juice or whatever else a “drink” would insinuate.  I noticed that it had a lot more veggies and herbs and a lot less fruit than I typically use.  I put equal amounts of fruit and greens in my smoothies and tend to avoid really potent flavors like celery and parsley.  I know these things are good for you, but I prefer them cooked or in cooked foods (in the case of parsley).

Still, I’m a pretty advanced green smoothie drinker, after all, I’ve used greens like dandelion, chard, and collards, so I’ve advanced past the beginner stage!  I decided to try Dr O’s “drink,” which he claims his kids drink every day and love. Oprah called it “a glass of fresh.”  Fresh is good!

The recipe, which seems to vary by what website you happen to be looking at, basically calls for cucumber, spinach, parsley, mint, carrot, apple, celery, lemon, lime, and ginger.  I made the recipe as-is and have to admit, the celery and parsley were all I could really taste.  After a few sips, I thought, “This isn’t great, but it’s tolerable.” I really wanted to pour it out halfway through. By the end of the jar, I felt sick.

So now I have all these ingredients in my fridge and I need to use them. I decided to try again, this time my way, and see if I could make it taste better.  I really enjoyed what I came up with.  Adding in pineapple (which is great for adding a lot of sweetness) and a baby banana somewhat evened out the fruit to veggie ratio.  I also added more lime and lemon juice since it’s really good at cutting through the “green” flavor and brightening the whole thing up.  I hope you like it 🙂

Serves 1 (about 16 oz)

1/2 cup cold water
1 big fistfull of fresh baby spinach
1/4 of a large cucumber
sprig of mint (about 8-10 leaves)
small handful parsley (about a palmfull, maybe?)
1 stalk celery
1/2 carrot (a piece about 3 inches long)
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 frozen baby banana (or half of a regular banana)
1/2 cup ice  (if your fruit is not frozen, add more if you like your smoothies really cold)

Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender in the order listed.  Blend on high until smooth and enjoy!

Purple Power Smoothie

Purple is my favorite color, so I love the way this smoothie looks, plus it’s yummy! Cabbage is one of the veggies you won’t taste in a smoothie, so don’t be afraid. It’s loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants!purple power smoothie1

Feel free to add greens to this, as always, but it will change the color. Spinach is another veggie that you won’t taste in a smoothie (and I actually added some to mine, so it isn’t as purple as it would have otherwise been.)

1 container of mixed berry, strawberry, or blueberry yogurt (5 oz or so, usually)
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup purple cabbage
3 large strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup of ice (omit if using frozen berries)
1 cup water
few drops liquid stevia, if desired

I also added a couple tablespoons of hemp hearts to mine, for protein and omega 3.

Blend on high until smooth.

purple power smoothie

Crispy Honey Seitan

In my pre-veg life, when we went out to Chinese restaurants, I loved to order crispy honey chicken.  Something about that sticky sweet sauce was just so good I wanted to lick the plate clean.  I haven’t had anything like that in almost 8 years, but thanks to Isa Moscowitz’s most recent cookbook, Isa Does It, I’ve slightly altered her “Sticky Orange Chicky Stir-Fry” recipe   (which is AMAZING as-is) into what has become a repeat recipe in our home.

I typically add stir fried veggies in with this for a more well-rounded meal.  You can sautee them in the same pan with the seitan and add them in with the sauce a the end.

Serves 4

Two 8 oz packages of sliced seitan (I make my own – it’s much cheaper!)
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons mirin
1 slightly rounded tablespoon cornstarch
3 gloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
cooked brown rice or quinoa, for serving

 Heat the sesame oil over slightly-higher-than-medium heat.  Add the seitan slices and brown for about 4 minutes on each side.  Put the seitan aside on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

(At this point, you can add another tablespoon of sesame oil and do your veggies if you like.)

In the same pan (only empty this time), add a wee bit more sesame oil and turn the heat down to medium.  Sautee the garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds and then add the honey, orange juice, and mirin.  Whisk in the cornstarch until it is dissolved. Continue to whisk over the heat until the sauce thickens.  This should take about 5 minutes.

Add in the crispy seitan and veggies (if using) and sprinkle on the green onions.  Heat everything through, making sure it’s coated with the sauce, for about 3 minutes and then serve over brown rice or quinoa.  I also like to sprinkle mine with sesame seeds.  🙂