Vegan Lasagna in a heat wave

My husband, Harrison, is baffled by the fact that I don’t check the weather regularly. He loves looking at the weather on his phone, watching storms come in on the doppler radar and even watching the Weather Channel.  I like to wake up, look outside and move on with the day.  I blame this on the fact that I grew up in Northern California and Harrison grew up in Seattle.  Our Bay Area weather just isn’t that exciting.  To me it is either raining or it’s not, no more data needed.  Every now in then my lack of interest in the weather comes back to bite me.  Wearing flip flops when it starts to rain an hour after I leave the house is a key problem.  The other issue is my decision to cook the wrong food for the weather.  Yesterday I planned to make a lasagna using my bolognese sauce.  Too bad it was 88 degrees out!  I ignored the weather and made a tasty vegan lasagna, but it was a sweaty endeavor that I wouldn’t choose to repeat.  Assuming it is below 80 degrees where you live try this vegan lasagna before the summertime weather kicks in!

Vegan Lasagna

This lasagna was very easy to put together as I used the “No Boil” lasagna noodles from Whole Foods, Vegan Bolognese I had in the freezer and an easy Truffled Cashew Cheese.   To start I sprayed a large 13×9 inch pan with canola oil.  (I used this lasagna pan)  I spread a cup of bolognese in the bottom of the pan and layered it with 4 of the No Boil noodles.

Vegan Lasagna Noodles

The only thing I had to make yesterday was the truffled cashew cheese from Dreena Burton.  Her recipe is fantastic and can be used for stuffed pastas like this or served as a spread for crackers and crudite.  I often bring it as a spread to parties and it always receives rave reviews.  I prepared the cheese quickly in my food processor and spread half of it on the first layer of noodles.

Vegan Lasagna with Truffled Cashew Cheese

On top of the cashew cheese I layered 1.5 cups of the bolognese.  Then I repeated the layers (noodles, remaining cashew cheese and another 1.5 cups of bolognese).  I added a final layer of noodles, the remaining sauce and topped the whole thing with 1.5 cups of Daiya mozzarella cheese.  I cooked the lasagna, covered in foil, in a 385 degree oven for 40 minutes.  After the initial cooking I took the foil off and bake it uncovered for another 10 minutes.  At that point I removed the lasagna from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Vegan Lasagna in pan

I served the lasagna topped with minced parsley and a green salad.  The dinner was a hit with both Harrison and Trey.  It will also make great leftovers during the week.  The actual baking took awhile, but it was very quick and simple to assemble on a weeknight.  If you make my vegan bolognese be sure to double the recipe and freeze half.  It is fabulous in this lasagna…just check the weather before you put it on your weekly meal plan!

Vegan Lasagna

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What’s Vegan at Target?

A few weeks ago when I was writing my recipe for Vegan Bolognese with Beyond Meat I did a little research on the company.  I was surprised to see Beyond Meat mention that their products could be purchased at Target.  I love Target, but I almost never look for food there.  I am usually looking for clothes for Trey, household items or vegan shoes when I’m there. Hearing that Target sold Beyond Meat in the store got me thinking that I should check the grocery aisle myself to see what is vegan at Target.  My list of 15 surprising vegan foods you can buy at Target is below.

This list is mostly of prepared vegan foods.  Obviously I think most people know you can find fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, pasta etc at Target since they are a grocery store.  I hate when you read a list of “vegan finds” in certain stores and they list things like bananas.  Thanks for the hot tip!  Never would have guessed a grocery store would carry a rare fruit like a banana.

Here are my vegan Target finds beyond produce and grocery staples:

BEYOND MEAT

Vegan at Target Beyond Meat I found the beefy crumble and the grilled chicken strips in the freezer section.

SO DELICIOUS COCONUT MILK

Vegan at Target - So Delicious Coconut MilkI was very impressed with the number of non-dairy milks in the refrigerator case.  They had Soy Milk, Coconut Milk and even a Cashew Milk.

GARDEIN CRISPY TENDERS

Vegan at Target - Gardein Tenders

Target had a wide variety of Gardein products in the freezer aisle.  These Crispy Tenders are Trey’s favorite.

SABRA HUMMUS SINGLES

Vegan at Target - Sabra HummusI love adding single servings of hummus to Trey’s lunchbox.  We also pack them as a snack for road trips.

SPECTRUM ORGANICS SHORTENING

Vegan at Target - Spectrum Shortening I use this shortening to make frostings following the recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  

DANG COCONUT CHIPS

Vegan at Target - Dang CoconutThis is a sweet, filling snack that is great on its own or to top ice cream.  I have also added it as sweet component to homemade trail mix.

AMY’S POT PIE

Vegan at Target - Amy'sWhen you have a busy vegan family having a few frozen dinners on hand makes life easier.  This pot pie is filling and makes a nice dinner for Trey when we hire a babysitter or when I’m too tired to cook.

THE GOOD BEAN CHICKPEA SNACK

Vegan at Target - The Good BeanHigh protein, savory snacks that are not nut based can be hard to come by.  These are great snacks for school or on a road trip.

JUSTIN’S NUT BUTTER PACKS
Vegan at Target - Justin's Nut ButterI keep a stash of these in my car for Trey.  When he is hungry and I don’t have another snack on hand these are convenient, filling and he loves them.

EARTH BALANCE SPREAD

Vegan at Target - Earth BalanceMy favorite vegan “butter”.  Another woman at Target saw me take this picture and came over to grab a tub.  She said “I never knew they sold this at Target!”.

SO DELICIOUS COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM

Vegan at Target - Coconut Milk Ice CreamTarget had a great selection of coconut milk and soy milk ice creams.  This cookie dough variety is one of Trey’s favorites.

NATURE’S PATH FROZEN WAFFLES

Vegan at Target - Nature's Path WafflesOn weekday mornings when Trey wants something different than his normal smoothie I use these waffles.  I toast two of them. Then I spread one waffle with peanut butter, add a little maple syrup and put the other waffle on top.  It is an easy “waffle sandwich”.

PACIFIC FOODS REFRIED BEANS

Vegan at Target - Pacific Foods I know I said I wasn’t going to include staples like beans, but these stood out for me.  I use refried black beans in quesadillas to add protein in Trey’s lunches.  I was impressed to see this organic variety in a septic pack (rather than a can) at Target.

SUJA LEMON LOVE

Vegan at Target - Suja Lemon LoveSuja juices are a treat for me every once in a while during my weekly grocery shopping.  Target had a great selection of flavors.  My favorite is this Lemon Love variety.

SWEET EARTH CURRY TIGER BURRITO

Vegan at Target - Sweet Earth BurritoLike the pot pie above, this Sweet Earth burrito is perfect for keeping on hand in the freezer.  It makes a great weeknight, after practice dinner when needed.

Overall I was blown away by the number of vegan items Target carries.  The prices were reasonable and if you have the Target Red Card you get an additional 5% off.  I hope that Target will add more items like tofu, non-dairy yogurt and non-dairy cheese.  The more vegan items we see in non “health food stores” the better.  Everyone can benefit from adding vegan foods to their diet and having them in stores where people already shop is a huge win for veganism!

Any products I missed?  Leave a comment and let me know your favorite vegan Target finds.

*This post was not sponsored by Target Corporation or any of the companies mentioned above.


Premium Chocolatiers Review

A few weeks ago I was looking at the Fork and Beans blog.  Cara is an incredibly creative blogger and I love to look at her creations on her blog.  I do definitely mean look at her creations.  While I am beyond impressed with her creations I do not have the patience to actually recreate her masterpieces.  Unfortunately I have no patience. Any type of painstakingly detailed work like hers is my idea of personal torture.  A few weeks before Easter Cara posted these adorable Easter Almond Baby Chicks.  She mentioned that she used white chocolate and linked over to the vegan white chocolate sold by Premium Chocolatiers.  Trey has been asking me about white chocolate for a few years since he sees it in non-vegan foods.  I tried another brand of vegan white chocolate chips last year, but I really hated the flavor.  Once I saw Cara used these Polar Dream bars from Premium Chocolatiers I decided I needed to give them a try.

Premium Chocolatiers Order

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Quick Black Bean Tostadas

Quick meals are a staple of a busy life.  Even before Trey arrived I liked to have a few meals planned for the week that took less than 30 minutes to get on the table.  Once he arrived it felt like all meals needed to be quick!  Over the years I have built up my repertoire of quick vegan meals.  Which is a good thing because now that we have added sports practices and homework to our plate, weeknight meals have to be fast and easy.  I came across a recipe for tostadas in our newspaper awhile ago and decided that a veganized version would make a filling, flavorful and fast meal.  The tostadas start with a crispy tortilla spread with black beans and topped with a salad tossed with a refreshing lime dressing.

TostadaThe newspaper recipe showed me how to create the crispy tortilla base in the oven with just a little oil.  In my case I use canola oil spray.  Once you spray the tortillas with canola oil on the top they go in the oven for 12-15 minutes and come out nice and crispy.  Make sure they are very crispy when they come out of the oven.  They don’t get any crispier as they cool, so if they are a bit flexible when they come out of the oven they will not be completely crispy when it is time to serve.

TortillasWhile the tortillas bake I work on making the black bean base.  The base is a mix of canned black beans, salsa and a bit of water.  For this recipe I used the Hatch Valley Salsa from Trader Joe’s.  We are loving this salsa these days.  It is very spicy and I love that it is shelf stable.  I buy a few jars at a time and store them in the pantry.

TJ SalsaI take 1/2 cup of the salsa and add it to a small pan with a can of drained black beans and 1/4 cup of water. The beans cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Beans before cookingAfter cooking for 10 minutes the beans are very soft and the salsa has cooked down a bit.  At this point you can smash the beans down to whatever texture you like with a spatula or wooden spoon.  In my case I like them to have some texture, but be spreadable.  You will be spreading them on top of the crisp tortillas so you don’t want the individual beans rolling around.

Cooked BeansWhile the beans and tortilla are cooking you can get the salad ready.  I place thinly sliced romaine hearts, sliced onions and minced cilantro in a large bowl.  The dressing is just lime juice, olive oil, agave nectar, salt and pepper.

Salad ToppingOnce the salad is tossed it is time to assemble the tostada.  Spread the black beans on the crisp tortillas.  Top each tortilla with salad and sliced avocados.  Of course skip the avocado for anyone who is an avocado hater, like my son Trey.  We also top ours with Tabasco, vegan sour cream and pickled jalapenos.

Tostada DInner

What are your favorite family-friendly, quick weeknight meals?

Quick Black Bean Tostadas
 
A quick, weeknight meal full of flavor that your whole family will love. The crispy tortilla, warm black beans and fresh salad are a delicious combination.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Ingredients
  • 10 Corn Tortillas
  • ½ Tablespoon of Canola Oil or spray oil
  • 1 Can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ Cup Salsa (use your favorite)
  • ¼ Cup Water
  • 4 Cups sliced Romaine Hearts (or your favorite crisp lettuce)
  • ¼ Cup Sliced Onions
  • ¼ Cup Cilantro, minced
  • Dressing
  • 2 Tablespoons of Lime Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Agave Nectar
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Pepper
  • Optional Toppings
  • Sliced Avocado
  • Vegan Sour Cream
  • Pickled Jalapenos
  • Hot Sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Spread tortillas on 2 large baking sheets. Brush the top of each tortilla with olive oil (or spray the top with canola oil). Bake for 12-15 minutes until crisp.
  3. Add black beans, salsa, and water to a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and lower heat to medium low. Cook for 10 minutes.
  4. While the beans and tortillas are cooking, assemble the salad. Start by making the dressing. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake it until they are well combined.
  5. Place the lettuce, onions, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add half to ¾ of the dressing and toss. Add more dressing according to how much dressing you like on your salad.
  6. After the beans have cooked for 10 minutes they should be very soft. Remove the pan from the heat and use a wooden spoon or spatula to smash the beans. Smash the beans until they reach a spreadable consistency, but still have some texture.
  7. To assemble the tostadas spread smashed black beans on a crispy tortilla. Top with salad. Add any additional toppings you are using on top of the salad. Serve.
Notes
Double the recipe for a larger family.

For leftovers double the beans, crisp tortillas and dressing. This makes a quick and easy lunch. All you will need to do is make the salad, warm the beans, and assemble.

 

Homemade Tamari Almonds

As I mentioned in my “Why Vegan?” post I was diagnosed with an autonomic disorder in October of last year.  I have post orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).  One of the lifestyle modifications I have to make for this form of dysautonomia is to increase the amount of salt in my diet.  Eating more salt helps increase my blood volume, which is typically low.  I love salty snacks like chips, pretzels and pickles, but obviously they are not very nutrient dense.  I came across Tamari Almonds in Whole Foods and thought they would be a nice salty snack for when I am out and about.  Unfortunately they cost a fortune!  I did some research and developed my own Tamari Almond recipe that I love, and that is much more affordable.

Tamari Roasted AlmondsThis recipe starts with a 12 oz package of raw almonds.  I typically buy my almonds at Whole Foods or the Farmer’s Market.  You begin by toasting the raw almonds for 10 minutes at 300 degrees F.

Raw AlmondsThen take the warm almonds from the oven and add them to a heat proof bowl.  Stir in 1/4 cup of Tamari and stir until the almonds and Tamari are well combined.  The almonds soak in the Tamari for 20 minutes.  I usually stir the almonds 2-3 times while they are soaking.  After 20 minutes the almonds will have soaked up most of the Tamari.

Almonds mixed with TamariThe final step is to pour the soaked almonds back onto the parchment lined baking sheet.  Put them back into the 300 degree F oven for 20 minutes.  At this point the almonds will have a dark brown coloring. They will seem a little soft, but they crisp up as they cool down.  If you find that the almonds are not crisp enough after they cool down just pop them back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Tamari Almonds 2I love these almonds and so does everyone in my family.  I brought them to several holiday gatherings and received many requests for the recipe.  I try to always have them on hand for snacking or to top salads.

Please give them a try and let me know what you think.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Tamari Roasted Almonds
 
These homemade tamari almonds are a salty, savory snack. They are a perfect on the go snack or item to bring to your next gathering.
Author:
Recipe type: Snacks
Ingredients
  • 16 oz Raw Almonds
  • ¼ cup Tamari
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven for 300 degrees F
  2. Place raw almonds on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Cook the almonds for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.
  4. Remove almonds from the oven and pour into a large bowl. Pour tamari over the warm almonds. Stir completely and soak in tamari for 20 min. Stir 1-2 times over the 20 minutes.
  5. Place soaked almonds back on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake soaked almonds for 20 minutes.
  6. When the almonds come out of the oven they will still be a bit soft. Almonds will firm up as they cool.

 

Vegan Bolognese – Born to be Vegan

I often joke that I was born to be vegan.  Like most children I always loved animals , but I also never really liked meat.  Don’t get me wrong, I ate meat all the time but it was never my favorite part of any meal.  I liked my steak well done and my chicken dry as a bone.  I hated cooking meat unless it was broken down into totally unrecognizable forms.  Similarly I can’t stomach vegan meat replacements that are at all “meaty”.  I think Gardein, Beyond Meat etc are awesome products for helping people move to a vegan diet, but for me there isn’t a big appeal.

Vegan BologneseThe only meat product I actually liked before I became vegan was ground beef.  Once I became vegan I never really missed ground beef, but I also don’t think lentils = ground beef.  A recipe that I tried to veganize unsuccessfully was Bolognese sauce.  I have tried making it with mushrooms, lentils and crumbled tempeh.  They all tasted fine but they didn’t really fit the bill.  So it was with some curiosity that I tried Beyond Meat’s Beefy Crumble in a vegan bolognese.

Chopped VeggiesI started with a Bolognese recipe from the very non-vegan blog Pioneer Woman.  As I have mentioned before I really like her blog and show on Food Network.  It is the most vegan un-friendly show, but something about the story of her family life draws me in.  I like the recipes she makes, minus the meat, dairy and eggs.  I have veganized quite a few of her recipes successfully and this bolognese turned out fantastic.

I made a number of changes to the recipe, #1 being I replaced the ground beef with Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble.  Beyond Meat is a company that is making huge strides toward helping more people follow a vegan or plant based diet.  The majority of people in the developed world like and want to eat meat.  Beyond Meat is making products to satisfy meat eaters while being gentler to the planet and removing all animal suffering in the process.  Bill Gates is an investor and calls Beyond Meat “the future of food”.

Beyond Meat CrumblesWhile I am not Beyond Meat’s ideal customer I am thrilled that they have products available to satisfy meat eaters without harming animals.  My husband, Harrison, was blown away by their chicken strips and this bolognese.

One of the secrets from the original Pioneer Woman recipe that I kept in place was using some jarred marinara sauce.  In addition to the canned crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, the jarred marinara definitely adds good texture and flavor to the recipe.  My favorite marina is the Whole Foods Fat Free Organic Pasta Sauce.  I almost never buy Fat Free food, but in this case the Fat Free version doesn’t have any added sugar, which I appreciate.

Jarred MarinaraThis recipe is a great Sunday night family meal.  I served the bolognese over spaghetti, but it would be delicious over a larger noodle like rigatoni as well.  This vegan bolognese is incredibly hearty and flavorful.  It freezes really well and I am looking forward to trying it in lasagne next.

Sunday Dinner

Vegan Bolognese with Beyond Meat
 
This rich and hearty vegan bolognese makes a fantastic family meal. It will satisfy vegans and omnivores alike.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Raw, Unsalted Cashews
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 package Beyond Meat "Beef Free Crumble"
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 1 Large Carrot, Diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • ½ cup Red Wine (or Vegetable Broth)
  • 1 28 Ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 TB Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup Jarred Marinara Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Agave Nectar
  • ¾ teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup Minced Fresh Parsley, plus more for topping
  • 1 pounds Spaghetti, cooked
Instructions
  1. Start Cashew Cream - Soak cashews in 1 cup of water while you prepare the sauce. See Note.
  2. In a large saute pan over medium heat add 1 tsp olive oil. Add entire package of frozen Beyond Meat Beef Free crumble to the pan. Saute for approximately 5 minutes to thaw the "meat" and to create crispy bits on the bottom of your pan. Remove "meat" from the pan and set aside in a small bowl. Do not clean pan.
  3. Add remaining 2 tsp of olive oil to the pan. Add onions, carrot and bell pepper to pan and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for additional 2 minutes.
  4. Pour red wine (or broth) into the pan and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. Let the wine reduce for 3 minutes.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, jarred marinara sauce, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, agave nectar, salt and crushed red pepper to the pan. Stir to combine. Add Beyond Meat crumbles back to the pan. Bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  7. After 1 hour add in ¼ cup of parsley. Cook for additional 20 minutes.
  8. Finish Cashew Cream - While the sauce finishes cooking go back to your cashews soaking in water. Blend the cashews and water in a high powered blender for 2 minutes until cashews are completely blended. Set aside until sauce has completed cooking.
  9. Remove bay leaves from sauce. Add ¼ cup of Cashew Cream to your sauce. Stir in completely and taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper and cashew cream based on your tastes. More cashew cream will make the sauce creamier and richer. Add ¼ cup at a time until you achieve your desired results. Typically I use ½ cup.
  10. Serve bolognese by placing cooked spaghetti on each plate and topping with sauce. Sprinkle with additional parsley. Serve warm. Sauce freezes very well.
Notes
If you don't have a high powered blender to make the Cashew Cream you will need to soak cashews in water for 8 hours, or overnight. This will allow you to create a smooth Cashew Cream in a standard blender.

Are you a fan of faux meats?  Any meals you have had trouble veganizing?

Being vegan isn’t a panacea, but it is one of my best decisions

The most common question I am asked is “Why did you become vegan?”. The high level answer to that question is that it started as a health issue and morphed into a choice to be compassionate.

Why Vegan

I started suffering from a serious digestive problem when I was 23. I had never had great digestion, but suddenly it was a disaster. I spent YEARS going from doctor to doctor with very few answers. Out of frustration I started researching diet and wellness tips to see if I could help myself. From what I read I decided to become a vegetarian. This was a fairly easy decision since I was an animal lover and not a huge fan of animal protein.  I was the person ordering my filet mignon well done to everyone’s horror.

As a vegetarian I started to learn more and more about nutrition and improving my digestion. My sister gave me a gift certificate to take vegetarian cooking classes. These classes were taught by well know vegan, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Through Colleen I learned how to make vegan meals and ultimately volunteered to help her teach her classes. Through Colleen, and my own research, I decided to try being vegan. I was very hesitant as I didn’t identify as an activist. I really loved the idea of not eating animals and having a compassionate lifestyle. However I am not a hippie living on a commune, I don’t have vegan friends and I worried that I was going to alienate myself from a life of meals out and fun with friends by being vegan.

Fortunately I gave being a vegan a try and I have never looked back. I have maintained a full, fun life without harming animals AND without becoming socially isolated. I am very fortunate to have a supportive husband who embraced my move to veganism, even though he did not want to become vegan himself. By allowing each other to be our own people and respecting each others decisions we have not had any food issues in our vegan/omni household.

While being vegan has been awesome it has not alleviated all of my health issues. I wish I could say that I became vegan and that I have had perfect health ever since. It turned out that many of my digestive issues were actually caused by severe endometrosis. Being vegan helped with many of my symptoms, but the endometriosis did not disappear. I have had many surgeries to remove the endometriosis. I have also recently discovered that I have an autonomic disorder. Specifically I have Post Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) which has caused a number of issues (fatigue, dizziness, rapid heart rate etc) that I will deal with for the rest of my life. I have most likely had this disorder since I was a teenager.

I share this information with you because I originally hoped being vegan would be a panacea. I thought if I had the “perfect” diet I would no longer have any health problems. This just isn’t the case. Diet is very powerful, but it can’t stop every health problem. You will be disappointed if you hope being vegan is a cure all.

Becoming vegan has been one of the best decisions of my life. Everyday I get to make choices that completely align with my values. I feel that I am taking excellent care of my body even while I deal with other health issues. I encourage anyone who is interested in adding more plant based meals to their diet or becoming vegan to give it a try. It has been so fulfilling for me, but it will not magically make you perfect.

A year ago I saw something that Kris Carr said that really resonated with me. Kris’ journey has always been an inspiration for me (she has been living with cancer for over 10 years). I was watching Super Soul Sunday and she was featured to give an update on her health. During the interview she said, “I may never be healthy on paper, but I am well”. This is what I strive for everyday…to be well.

Vegan Pizza Roll Ups

Packing a lunch everyday can become a drag, and packing a vegan lunchbox is no exception.  It seems like I am always inspired to pack interesting, creative lunches at the beginning of the school year.  By the time October rolls around I am packing boring sandwiches again.  This year I was determined to get out of that rut, and for the most part my plan has worked.  My main strategy has been to plan 1-2 creative meals that can be repeated during the week.  I especially like meals that can be frozen so I can use it a few times in one week and freeze the rest for another time.  One of Trey’s favorite meals this year has been Pizza Roll Ups, which he also calls pizza cinnamon rolls.

Vegan Pizza Roll Ups

These rolls were inspired by Cinnaholic, a vegan cinnamon roll shop in Berkeley.  We have been big fans of Cinnaholic ever since it opened.  The brilliant concept is to offer a variety of frostings and toppings to customize your own cinnamon roll.  If you are in the Bay Area it is a must stop.  You can also order rolls online.

Cinnaholic started offering pizza rolls occasionally a few years ago.  I tried one and thought it would be a great school lunch for Trey.  I did some research online and found a few non- vegan versions and then made my own.  They have been a big success.  Success to me means half of them don’t come home with the “I didn’t have time to eat those, Mom” excuse.  Trey eats 2 at lunch with a fruit and vegetable on the side.

To make the rolls buy fresh pizza dough at the grocery store or local pizzeria.  I usually buy mine at Whole Foods.  Let the dough rise in an oiled bowl on the counter for about an hour.  Next roll the dough out into a rectangle.  Top the dough with pizza sauce, Daiya cheese and vegan pepperoni (or whatever toppings your family likes).  Trey really loves the pepperoni since it looks like the pepperoni his buddies are eating.

Ready to rollOnce all of the toppings are on the pizza roll up the whole rectangle into a long log.  Then slice the log into 8-10 pieces (depending on how thick you want your pizza rolls).  Place the slices into an oiled baking dish.  Bake them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, until the dough is golden brown.

Vegan Pizza RollsI make these about once per month.  I pack them for Trey twice the week I make them and freeze the remaining rolls. Several times during the month I will pull 2 rolls out of the freezer and pack them for another lunch.

I would love to hear anyone else strategy for packing a vegan lunch beyond the standard sunflower butter and jelly sandwich.  Please share your tips and strategies in the Comments below.

Lemon Broccoli Sausage Pasta

For a long time when he was a baby and little guy Trey HATED broccoli.  He was horrified every time it made an appearance on the dinner table.  At some point I made this lemon broccoli pasta and he decided he actually loved lemon broccoli.  But only lemon broccoli.  To this day if people ask him if he likes broccoli he says “No, I only like lemon broccoli.” Which completely baffles most people since he doesn’t offer any additional details.  Hopefully this pasta might convert any broccoli haters you have in your life!

Lemon Broccoli Pasta

To make the lemon broccoli you quickly saute garlic and crushed chilis in olive oil in a skillet.  Then add in the broccoli and about 1/4 cup of water to “steam” the broccoli for 5 minutes.  I like to chop the broccoli in small florets so it cooks quickly and because kids don’t seem to like “chunks” of anything.  Once the broccoli is a texture you like, add in the lemon juice and lemon zest.  At this point you have lemon broccoli which can be added to the pasta or served as a side dish (add a little salt if serving as a side dish).

This recipe can be made with or without vegan sausage.  I love Field Roast sausage, which is strange because before I became a vegetarian I absolutely hated sausage.  The smell, the texture and grease…I am on the verge of gagging writing this.  But the Field Roast sausage is hearty, savory and adds a great texture to this pasta recipe.  If you have family members who don’t like meat replacements you can easily leave this on the side.  I saute the Field Roast separately so it gets nice and crisp and I don’t have to worry about burning the garlic in the broccoli.

Saute Field RoastIf you want to make your own veg sausage here is a recipe from Julie Hasson that is fantastic.

Once the broccoli is prepared you toss it with the cooked pasta, salt and sausage.  Taste for seasoning.  You may want to add more salt or lemon juice depending on your taste.

Lemon Broccoli Pasta Toss

This is a great weeknight meal as it all comes together in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta.  Please give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

Lemon Broccoli Sausage Pasta
 
This flavorful, hearty pasta dish comes together in the time it takes to cook pasta. It makes a filling, weeknight meal for your busy family.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Ingredients
  • 1 lb pasta
  • 4 Vegan Italian Sausages (see note), sliced into ¼ inch rounds
  • 1 TB Olive Oil (divided)
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ½ - 1 tsp chili flakes (depending on your spice preferences)
  • 3 cups chopped Broccoli Florets
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 3 TB Lemon Juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ - 1 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Bring water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside once cooking is complete.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil and you cook your pasta prepare the broccoli and vegan sausage.
  3. Heat 1 tsp oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip sausage slices over and cook for another 3 minutes, until browned. Set aside.
  4. Add 2 tsp of olive oil to a medium sized skillet on Medium High heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add chili flakes. Add in broccoli florets and ¼ cup water. Cover skillet and reduce heat to medium. After 5 minutes check broccoli. It should be bright green and fork tender. Set aside.
  5. Add cooked, drained pasta to a large bowl. Toss in cooked broccoli, browned sausage, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Toss to combine. Taste for seasoning. You may want to add more salt, more chili flakes and/or more lemon juice depending on your preferences.
Notes
I recommend Field Roast Italian Sausage or use this recipe by Julie Hasson for homemade vegan sausage

 

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