vegan recipes

I roasted two little Sugar Pumpkins this afternoon, at the request of Calvin, who is dying to try some pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin. Ever since people started putting up Jack-‘o-Lanterns before Halloween, he’s been begging to cook up a pumpkin. So I went to Trader Joe’s where they were selling Sugar Pumpkins, which are actually meant for eating, not carving. I bought two, because I knew violence would ensue if a pumpkin magically appeared at the behest of one child, and there wasn’t one for the other. And I always like to use the whole beast if I can.

Easy as pie, so they say. I sliced the little (baby-head sized) pumpkins in half from top to bottom, put them on a greased cookie sheet, skin side up, and baked them for an hour at 300 degrees. Then, when they were cooled down, I scooped out the flesh and pureed it with my stick blender. Actually, Derek was in the room and he asked me if I needed him to do the pureeing. I told him I was doing just fine, and he confessed that he thought it looked like fun, so I let him do the pureeing. Tomorrow, I will whip up some pie crust. Tuesday, I’ll make some pie.

As for the seeds, I put them in a big bowl, ran a little bit of water in, swirled them around, and picked out the big chunks of pulp. I ran some more water and they floated above the rest of the pulp, so I could just scoop them out onto a paper towel. Calvin has also been asking for pumpkin seeds, you see.

Candied Pumpkin Seeds

about 2 cups fresh raw pumpkin seeds, washed and patted dry
2 T butter or canola oil
1/4 cup real maple syrup (it would probably work just fine with only 2 tablespoons, but wouldn’t that be sad?)
generous pinch salt
1/8-1/4 t cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt butter in a large bowl. Add maple syrup, salt, and cayenne and mix well. Stir in pumpkin seeds and mix to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 45-60 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until golden. The syrup should be dark golden brown and very sticky.

When you take the seeds out of the oven, stir them with a couple of spatulas for about 5 minutes while they cool, breaking up large clumps. Eat immediately. Yummy.

Derek and I ate the entire batch as soon as it was cool enough. I don’t know how Sugar Pumpkin seeds compare to carving pumpkin seeds, except that I was expecting them to be more woody. It seems like I’ve had the seeds in the hull before, and I had to chew and chew those suckers. Well, these ones I made today were not at all like that. In fact, they were so yummy that Zeeb ate a bunch, calling them “Pumpkin chips” and Kiki found a clump that had fallen to the floor and tried to eat it. I can usually get things out of her mouth, like when she eats rocks or marbles, but this time, she would NOT give it up. She had those jaws clamped tight, and kept mooshing her lips so I couldn’t stick my finger in there. It was amazing.

Anyway, if you want a yummy, good-for-you snack (and by that I mean not processed or including unpronounceable ingredients, not low calorie), try these. They’re so easy. I’m gonna make some for appetizers on Thanksgiving.


I love pumpkin muffins. I make them year-round, in spurts. I buy the big can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling), which will make 3 or 4 batches of muffins. These ones are sort of detox muffins. They have lots of fiber, no dairy, and they’re yummy.

Pumpkin Muffins

1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plus 2 T soy milk (or regular milk)
1/2 t vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/8 t ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350o, and grease a muffin tin with cooking spray. Add the water to the ground flax, and mix until viscous. Add the sugar and oil, mixing well. Add the pumpkin, mix, then add soy milk and vanilla, and mix again. In a separate bowl (or just on top of the wet ingredients), milk the dry ingredients, and add to the wet. Stir just until incorporated. Quickly divide into the muffin tin and bake for 35 minutes, rotating after 20 for even baking. Let rest in the tin for a few minutes, then release onto a cooling rack.

Each muffin has about 160 calories, 6 grams of fat (omega-3 kind), 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. Two of those for breakfast and you’ve got a pretty good start for your day.

And for the bonus, here’s a picture of the blanket I made for my brother’s new baby that was born on Wednesday.


Derek’s request for dinner tonight was noodles with peanut sauce, so this is what he got. I’m calling it Pad Thai because that’s what it most closely resembles, although I’m not sure the purple cabbage is a traditional Thai ingredient. I just didn’t have any bean sprouts, so I pulled out the cabbage and sliced it really thin. And since I’ve never met a cabbage that I didn’t like, it turned out well.

Purple Pad Thai for 2

8 oz. linguine or fettuccine
8 oz. tofu, cut in 1 inch cubes
2 T peanut or canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, white and light green parts chopped
2 Cups shredded purple cabbage (or just use green, but it won’t be as pretty)

2 T soy sauce
3 T lime juice
1 T fish sauce (unless you’re vegan. You know who you are.)
2 T palm sugar* or brown sugar
pinch cayenne pepper

1/3 cup chunky natural peanut butter
1/4 cup water

Lime slices
snipped chives
chopped toasted peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add noodles, and cook as directed on package.
In a non-stick frying pan, heat 1 T oil on medium. Add cubed tofu and fry on each side, turning gently with a fork, until each side is golden.

In a small bowl, mix sauce ingredients with a fork. In another small bowl, mix peanut butter with water.

Meanwhile, in a wok or large non-stick frying pan, heat remaining 1 T oil on med. Add garlic and fry for a few seconds. Add scallions, stir, then add cabbage and fry, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Add sauce and simmer for a minute or two. Turn off heat. Add peanut butter mixture, drained noodles and tofu, stir gently. Taste, and add sugar, soy sauce or lime juice to taste. Add a little water if you like it saucier. Plate up and add garnishes.

* You can get palm sugar at Asian markets, or Indian markets, where it’s called jaggery. It comes in lumps or powdered, and is yellow. It has a strong taste, sort of like brown sugar, but different.

I love granola. I make it all the time, because I love it so much. I eat it by the handful whenever I pass the cupboard. It doesn’t have any calories, if you eat it in small amounts. Derek loves it too, and since I don’t like to buy boxed breakfast cereals, it comes in handy whenever I don’t want to make hot breakfast. Which is only about 6 days out of 7, so not that often. So I’ve tried lots of recipes from books and internet, and I’ve mixed up some of the elements (no, Katie, not those elements) to fit my own taste. I’ll admit freely that I have an incurable addiction to the C12H22O11 group, namely: sucrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, galactose, mannose. So this granola might be a touch too sweet, if you’re a normal human, and not one that shares DNA with me or Derek. If you’re related to one or both of us, you will love it.

Here’s the recipe for the version I made today:

Almond Cranberry Granola

6 C regular rolled oats
1/3 C oat bran
3/4 C chopped raw almonds
2 1/2 t cinnamon
2/3 C pure maple syrup if you’re like me, 1/2 C if you’re normal (NOT pancake syrup!!!)
1/4 C fresh almond butter
2 T canola oil
2 T molasses
1/4 t pure vanilla extract (please don’t use the fake stuff. Just leave it out if you don’t have real vanilla. You don’t want your granola tasting like plastic.)
pinch salt (leave out the salt if you leave out the vanilla)
3/4 C dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350o. Spray a large rimmed cookie sheet with oil. In a large bowl, combine oats, oat bran, almonds, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, almond butter, oil, molasses, vanilla, and salt. Mix well with a fork or whisk. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well. Spread evenly on baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes to prevent burning the edges. Let cool completely before adding cranberries. Store in an airtight container. I never refrigerate granola because we eat it so fast it can’t go bad.

You may, of course, use any nuts you like, and any dried fruit. I will not hunt you down. I really like it with walnuts and raisins, but I don’t add the almond butter. If you don’t have almond butter and don’t feel like blending up some, just leave that out and up the amount of oil to 1/4 cup instead. You don’t have to have oil, but I find that the oats toast better with oil added. Melted butter is nice, too.

I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I would like you to note that I have just received my 1st degree black belt in Code-Fu. If you can tell me why, you are probably higher ranked than I. Derek-San is a 3rd degree black-belt for the amazing work he did with the photos and text-wrapping on yesterday’s post. I have much to learn.

If you are the praying sort, please pray for my baby girl, Kiki, who will have her cyst removed tomorrow. And pray for me, that I can keep it together during the operation. And pray for Sheila’s mom, Diane, who has had her chemo and radiation therapy postponed, due to infection that hasn’t cleared up yet.

My sis-in-law, Britanna, is doing a project for school and needs 100 recipes that she likes, and will make. So I’m gonna try to give her some. Yesterday after church, we had sourdough toast with mushroom and olive tapenade for lunch. I also had some leftover artichoke tapenade. I love them both. I don’t ever call anything “appetizers,” because after I’ve had as much as I want, I really don’t need anything else, except a great salad, of course. So this would be a good appetizer, but I use it as a part of the meal.

I have a mini food processor that came with my immersion blender. It works great for both of these. It couldn’t puree anything if it tried, so I don’t ever end up with smooth stuff. Which is good, of course! If you don’t have a food processor, you could just go crazy with a chopping knife and have a really rustically coarse tapenade. It will still be yummy.

Mushroom and Olive tapenade

1 pound button mushrooms, washed and coarsely chopped
20 kalamata olives, pitted OR black olives (Sooo much better with Kalamata)
1 T extra virgin olive oil

In a non-stick saute pan, heat 1 t of the oil on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring often, until they have released their juices and most of the juice has evaporated. In a food processor, put the mushrooms, olives, oil, about 1/2 t salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Pulse until it looks almost smooth, but is still a little chunky, scraping down the sides sometimes. If it doesn’t stick together at all, add a little more oil and pulse again. Check for salt and pepper. Serve with crackers or good bread.

Artichoke Heart Tapenade

20 artichoke heart pieces (I like the giant bottle of marinated artichoke hearts from Costco. )
8 Spanish olives without pimento
olive oil

Put everything in a food processor and pulse as above. Only add enough olive oil to bring the mixture together. Check for salt. Usually, marinated artichoke hearts are salty enough, and the olives add saltiness too, so you might not need to add salt. If the olives aren’t tasty enough, you might have to add more.

I just made these muffins and my boys each had two. Zeeb said, “Mom, Sanks for buying dese muffins.” They are a little health-food-y, but  if you’re afraid, just use all-purpose flour, and eggs instead of flax seeds. They just won’t have as much fiber. They could even have 1/2 cup chocolate chips instead of cocoa, but just use 2 tablespoons less milk/soymilk.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For vegan variation, grind 2 tablespoons flax seeds in a coffee grinder and stir in 6 tablespoons water

cream together:
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar

flax mixture, OR 2 eggs, OR one egg and one egg white, mix well
1/2 cup plus 2 T milk or soymilk
1/2 t vanilla, mix again
1 cup pumpkin puree, mix well

in another bowl, sift together:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 T baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon

add dry ingredients to wet and mix until combined. Spoon into greased muffin tin.

bake for about 30 minutes, turning halfway for even browning.

If the batter is too runny, I sometimes add 1/2 cup rolled oats. I like the texture with the oats.

I’ll be back later to post nutritional content.

This soup is a great way to get your greens. I made it the other day from things I had around the kitchen, and my kids loved it. It was one of those rare times they asked for seconds, then Calvin asked if we could save some for the next day for breakfast. Yes, breakfast. He has an enlightened view of breakfast, for an American. I had pre-cooked red chard on hand, but any greens would do, especially tender ones. I would use fresh or frozen spinach, any chard, mustard greens, even collards if I could steam them for a while first. Anyway, I was trying to approximate the Saag Shorba at our local Indian restaurant, which is divine. If you use this recipe, could you come back and tell me if you like it?

So here it is:

Saag Shorba

6 stalks chard, leaves and stalks, chopped or 6 oz spinach, chopped
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 T canola oil or ghee
2 large cloves garlic
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger
1 1/2 t coriander
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t turmeric
pinch cayenne
pinch cardamom
2-4 C vegetable broth, depending on how soupy you want it (or chicken broth)
1/2 C tomato sauce (I used some that I made in the summer and froze-so no salt or herbs) or 1/4 C tomato paste
1/4-1/2 C coconut milk or heavy cream
1 C leftover basmati or other long-grain rice
salt to taste

Steam the chopped chard stems for about 5 minutes, then add the leaves and steam about 10 minutes more. They need to be soft. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the oil or ghee on medium and add chopped onions. Saute for about 8 minutes, add garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and cardamom, and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add chard, tomato sauce and rice, and boil briefly. Turn off the heat and stir in the coconut milk or cream slowly, to avoid curdling. Add salt to taste, and more cayenne, if you need it to make you happy.

If you use frozen spinach, you can obviously skip the steaming and just add it straight from the bag. Make sure it comes to a boil before you add the cream. You could also use baby spinach fresh from the bag and just add it at the end, but boil for a few minutes to wilt the spinach.

For the tomato sauce, you could also used crushed or chopped canned tomatoes, or even fresh chopped tomatoes. If they’re fresh, just add them with the broth and boil for 10 minutes or so. You will need less broth with canned or fresh tomatoes. I grow my own tomatoes, because they’re sooooo much better than the ones you can buy, and I make a couple of batches of tomato sauce in the summer. This is the most versatile stuff. I don’t add salt or herbs, so I can use them in recipes that are Mexican, Indian, Italian, or whatever. I just add the appropriate spices or herbs later, with the recipe. This sauce has no seeds or icky skin, and is not runny like pureed tomatoes. It’s sauce, not juice. It’s pure, sweet tomato joy.

Tomato Sauce

Here’s how to do it: get about two gallons of fresh, very ripe tomatoes. I don’t use Romas, because they don’t ever get totally soft. I just use regular red slicing tomatoes. Blanch them about 4 at a time in boiling water for 1 minute. You can cut a little ‘x’ in the non-stem end, to facilitate peeling. After they have blanched, plunge them into cold water. Peel them, cut out the core, slice them in half, and scoop out the seeds and seedy pulp with your fingers. Do this over a sieve, to catch the juice that falls. Add them straight to a warming pot large enough to hold 1/2 – 3/4 or your tomatoes. You do not have to chop them or anything. Turn the heat up so they begin to simmer slowly, so that as you work, they will boil down and make more room. If you run out of space, take a break and eat some ice-cream, then go back and there should be more room. Pour the collected juice into the pot, discard the stems and seeds, and simmer the tomatoes for 2-4 hours very slowly, stirring often. You need to pay attention, especially after the first hour or so. They will stick to the pan and burn if you don’t stir. Let the sauce reduce to about 1/2 the volume you started with. The tomatoes will disintegrate as they cook.

When your sauce is nice and thick, and there is very little water floating on top, you can turn off the heat and let them cool to room temperature, stirring every so often to help it cool. At this point, you can either can it, or freeze it. The frozen tomato sauce is wonderful, and much less work than canning. Just get a bunch of 1 quart freezer bags and put about 2 cups of sauce in each one, squeezing out the air and laying them flat. Or, you can even use zippered sandwich bags, and put them all into a gallon size freezer bag together. Then put them in the freezer laying flat until they’re frozen, then stack them or put them upright where they fit. Use them all winter.

This makes the best spaghetti sauce in the world, with freshly sauteed onions, and whatever else you like in spaghetti. It’s also great to have for tomatoey Indian dishes like aloo gobi or baygan bharta. It’s so much quicker when you’ve already got the tomato sauce. It will make you happy in the winter, when there are no good tomatoes anywhere. I promise.