The Great Plant Based Cooking Challenge: Night Three

Slow Cooker Quinoa, Black Bean, Sweet Potato Chili

On night three, I made an easy slow cooker meal that I had taste tested with one of my most picky carnivore friends! I love this dish and it was a hit with the fellows as well. I combined the chili with grilled sandwiches made with hummus, sliced sweet peppers, grilled zucchini slices and broccoli microgreens (I get microgreens at farmer’s market but you could use arugula or other greens). I used a small amount of this “butter” for grilling). Pumpkin chocolate chip blondies with date caramel sauce made a delicious gluten free plant based dessert!

Slow Cooker Quinoa, Black Bean, Sweet Potato Chili Recipe is by Kitchen Treaty and can be accessed here.

Gooey Grain Free Pumpkin Blondies Recipe is by Laura Lea and can be accessed here. I drizzled a bit of Date Lady’s Coconut Caramel Sauce on top!

The Great Plant Based Cooking Challenge: Night Two

I made it a little easier on myself on night two and made a simple pasta primavera, with a green salad with fresh blueberries, orange segments and walnuts and balsamic dressing, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Pasta Primavera


Whole Wheat or Gluten Free Pasta

1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 purple onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, diced

Red Pasta Sauce

2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half

8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms, white or baby bella

1 zucchini, diced

1 yellow squash, diced

1 Tablespoon Italian Herb Seasoning


Put large pot of water on to boil.

Heat olive oil over medium/low in Dutch oven.

Add mushrooms. Cook and stir until juices are released. Remove to a plate.

Add onions and cook 3-4 minutes (you may need to add a bit more oil or vegetable broth to prevent sticking)

Add garlic, stir and cook 1 additional minute.

Add squash and zucchini and seasoning and dash of salt and continue to cook until vegetables are tender. Add vegetable broth or water if vegetables are sticking to pan.

Add noodles to water and cook according to directions.

Meanwhile finish sauce by adding tomatoes to vegetable mixture. Cook for a minute or two. Add pasta sauce and mushrooms from plate and stir until heated through.

Drain pasta and add to pasta sauce. Stir to coat noodles. Serve in bowls and garnish with basil or parsley if desired.

Top with parmesan cheese (plant based) if desired.

The Great Plant Based Cooking Challenge: Night One

My family recently went to see the movie Game Changers, a fascinating documentary about the power of whole food planted based eating to improve athletic ability. My twenty-three year old son, John, was with us. Afterwards, John asked if I would make several plant based dinners for him and his roommates, three other twenty-three year old men. I was thrilled that he wanted to eat healthier and agreed to the challenge!

The first night I prepared Mexican lentil, black bean and rice tostadas with roasted broccoli and plant based cheese sauce and diced potatoes sautéed in vegetable broth. I felt like this was a good meal to start with because it looked kind of like a “meat and potatoes” meal on the plate but with lots of flavor and color. The verdict? The fellows really enjoyed it and couldn’t believe it was healthy!

Mexican Lentil, Black Bean and Rice Tostadas


1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup uncooked long grain brown rice

1/2 uncooked green lentils, rinsed

3-4 cups vegetable stock or broth

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

15 ounce can black beans, drained

1 cup fire roasted tomatoes, drained (or use entire can if you like tomatoes)

4 ounce can diced green chiles

1 small zucchini, shredded

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup enchilada sauce


Heat large pot over medium low heat.

Add extra virgin olive oil.

Add diced onions and cook 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add minced garlic, stir and cook for a minute or two.

Add spices and stir to coat onions and garlic.

Add brown rice, lentils and vegetable stock/broth.

Bring to a simmer, cover and cook approximately 30 minutes until lentils and rice are tender. Check every few minutes to stir and make sure there is no scorching. Add more vegetable broth if it has absorbed and mixture appears dry and sticking to pan.

Add in remaining ingredients, stir and cook a bit longer to defrost corn.

Place mixture a top tostadas (or just serve solo on plate) and garnish with sliced avocado or guacamole, cherry tomatoes and cilantro.

Roasted Broccoli with Mexican Cheese Sauce (plant based)


Prepackaged broccoli florets

1 Teaspoon Grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon Italian Herb Blend (or just sprinkle some on from jar)

Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning


Preheat oven to 400.

Cut broccoli florets in halves or fourths to make a flat side.

Toss with grapeseed oil and Italian Herb blend.

Spread out on a silpat on baking sheet with flat side of florets facing down. (Silpat is a silicon mat that helps with crisping)

Roast for approximately 8 -10 minutes checking for desired browning on flat sides.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with Everything but Bagel Seasoning and drizzle with Mexican Cheese. Serve immediately.

Sautéed Potatoes


4 Russet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 Tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Teaspoons Italian Herb Blend

1/2 cup of vegetable broth/stock


Heat EVOO in pan over medium heat

Add potatoes and spread out to make sure all potatoes are touching the pan to brown.

Allow to cook for a few minutes checking periodically to access browning.

Add vegetable broth as the potatoes continue cooking to prevent sticking.

When desired browning is achieved on one side, flip potatoes to another side, add a more vegetable broth and cover. Cook for several minutes on low until potatoes are cooked through.

Double Chocolate Teff Cookies for dessert!

Mushroom and Leek Risotto

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month so it’s a good time to talk about mushrooms. Mushrooms fight cancer using several mechanisms. They are antiangiogenic (decrease blood supply to cancer cells), apoptotic (promote cancer cell death), and protect cellular DNA. They are real superstars when it comes to boosting our immune system, which is an integral part of defending our bodies against cancer. Mushrooms enhance the effectiveness of immune cells such as natural killer T cells and dendritic cells. The lectins in mushrooms also bind to abnormal cells such as cancer cells and activate our immune system to target the abnormal cells.

A meta-analysis found that adding lentinan, a substance from mushrooms, to conventional chemotherapy in patients with advanced cancer significantly increased their survival rates compared to patients with advanced cancer who received chemotherapy alone and also improved their response to chemotherapy and decreased the number of adverse events.

Mushrooms are also aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase is the enzyme that produces estrogen and estrogen fuels breast cancer in 80% of breast cancer patients. Thus, inhibiting aromatase is thought to be protective against breast cancer. In fact, drugs have been developed to inhibit aromatase but we know that there are a few foods that do this naturally…. like MUSHROOMS!

I am trying to eat more mushrooms myself and tonight I prepared this delicious Mushroom and Leek Risotto from Minimalist Baker. The recipe may be found here. This dish is rich, creamy and savory… nice enough for company but easy enough for a weeknight dinner. When I prepare this dish again, the only change I will make will be to add a couple of cloves of garlic (minced) because I LOVE garlic and it also has anti-cancer potential!

Broccoli Sprout Slaw

Combine the following and then mix in dressing to coat slaw ingredients. Garnish with broccoli microgreens.

12 ounce package broccoli slaw from produce section

1/2 – 1 cup broccoli sprouts

Arils from one pomegranate

Two unpeeled apples (diced)

Mix the following in a blender for dressing (recipe modified from Culinary Gym)

½ cup unsweetened plant milk
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove

Turmeric Tahini Roasted Cauliflower

Mise En Place (French for everything in place)

When I find a recipe that has more than one anti-cancer ingredient and I really LOVE it, I get pretty excited. This dish does just that. It combines cauliflower, a cruciferous vegetable, with turmeric. Cruciferous vegetables contain powerful phytochemicals that have been shown to have anti-cancer effects. Curcumin, the polyphenol in turmeric, has been studied extensively and shown to help reverse precancerous changes in colorectal cancer patients, and slow progression to full blown disease in those with smoldering multiple myeloma… among many other studies.

This recipe is by Laura Lea. I received her Balanced cookbook as a Christmas gift from my daughter. I love cookbooks and this one is beautifully illustrated. You may also find her recipes on her blog. Laura Lea’s delicious plant based recipes are a great resource for those who are following a whole food plant based diet, like me! A plant based diet is recommended by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

You will find her turmeric cauliflower recipe here. I only have one change to her recipe – add ground black pepper. This will greatly enhance the absorption of the curcumin. Oh and one preparation tip… cut the cauliflower into florets at least 45 minutes before cooking or use packaged cauliflower florets from the produce department. Cutting cruciferous vegetables before cooking helps to maximize the production of their anti-cancer phytochemicals.

Avocado, Tempeh and Broccoli Sprouts Sandwich

Open faced on the grill before putting sandwich together
Grilled Tempeh Sandwich completed

The inspiration for this sandwich came from a recipe blog I subscribe to, HurryTheFoodUP. Their recipes are quick and flavorful, perfect for busy parents, students and professionals.

Tempeh is a fermented soy product, a good source of protein and nutrients. Although the HurryTheFoodUp recipe called for fried tempeh, I used a marinade and baked the tempeh for a healthier version. I tried it both ways – fried and baked and thought the marinated and baked version was more flavorful – but it is more time consuming. The recipe for the marinade comes from (I halved their marinade recipe for a small batch of tempeh). I made the tempeh ahead and refrigerated until I needed it the next day for sandwiches.


4 Slices of Whole Grain Bread – I like Dave’s Seed Bread and Sami’s Millet and Flax Gluten Free Bread

4 oz of tempeh (1/2 package)

2 handful of broccoli micogreens (or other greens)

1/2 c. sun dried tomatoes

1 avocado

Juice from 1/2 lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

Dairy Free Butter


Prepare the tempeh according to this recipe.

Mash the avocado. Add lime juice and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. I also added diced purple onion and one clove of minced garlic but I really like onion and garlic (both have been shown to have anti-cancer effects)!

Butter one side of each of the four slices of bread very lightly.

Spread the avocado mash on two of the four slices of bread.

Add sun dried tomatoes over avocado mash. Sprinkle with black pepper.

Slice tempeh to make it half as thick. Place slices of tempeh on the non-avocado bread and then add a handful of broccoli sprouts (or other greens).

Put the slices of bread together to make the sandwich and grill lightly.

Plant Based Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

I finally found a good recipe for plant based lasagna! With a little help from Minimalist Baker, I modified this recipe from Capello’s to create a dish the family really enjoyed!


1 medium eggplant sliced lengthwise

1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 portobello mushroom, thinly sliced

1 zucchini, thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

2 T. grapeseed oil

1 jar marinara (I like Whole Foods brand Italian Herb)

6 lasagna noodles (cooked according to package)

1 batch plant based ricotta cheese (use Minimalist Baker recipe – scroll all the way down for recipe)

Plant based parmesan cheese (use Minimalist Baker recipe)


Preheat oven to 400.

Toss the vegetables and mushroom with grapeseed oil. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with a Sil-Pat and roast 25 minutes.

Grease an 8×8 pan/dish with grapeseed oil.

Spread marinara sauce over the bottom of pan/dish. Layer lasagna noodles, then vegetables and mushrooms, then ricotta, then more sauce, more noodles, more veggies/mushrooms, more ricotta and more sauce. Sprinkle on plant based parmesan cheese. (If you like a thicker lasagna, you could add an additional layer of each)

Cover and bake 35-40 minutes. Let cool for about 30 minutes to allow lasagna to set. Garnish with fresh basil if desired.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


First of all these are so delicious it will be hard to believe they are GLUTEN FREE, SUGAR FREE, DAIRY FREE AND EGG FREE. When I tell my sweet mama something like this she usually says, “There’s no way that can be good!” But these really are! And just in time for holiday baking!

The secret is in the dates. I have been making date paste to sweeten my baked goods for some time now. Dates are a wonderful whole food sweetener. The antioxidant capacity of dates is more than ten times that of maple syrup and honey, other commonly used whole food sweeteners. Dates are also much higher in calcium, magnesium and contain B vitamins and 7 amino acids.

It does take a little time and effort to make the date paste. They must be pitted, then heated in water on the stovetop to soften then pureed. I was thrilled to discover The Date Lady at a Slow Food Festival this summer in Denver. She has perfected date syrup and has an entire line of wonderful date products, making my baking a bit less time consuming. The recipe below is my plant based version of her Bonanza Cookie recipe. These are even better when still warm from the oven or heated up. Drop me a line and let me know if you make these and how you liked them!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

2/3 c. coconut oil melted

2 flax eggs (to make one flax egg mix 1 T. ground flaxseed with 2.5 T. water and let sit for 5 min.)

6 dates pitted and chopped

1/2 c. date sugar

3 T. date syrup

1 1/4 t. pure vanilla extract

1 c. oat flour

1 c. quick oats

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt 

1/2 t. Ceylon cinnamon

1/2 c. walnuts or pecans

1/3 c. Lily’s Stevia sweetened dark chocolate chips

Mix first six ingredients well. Mix the remaining ingredients (except nuts and chocolate chips) in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well. Add in chocolate chips and nuts. Form into balls in your hands and then mash with your palms to make small cookies. Bake at 350 on a Sil-Pat mat for 9-10 minutes. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe is from Cookie and Kate and can be accessed at You will need to scroll to the bottom of her post for the recipe.

This is an easy and tasty fall recipe. I made just a few changes. 

  • Instead of parchment paper, I used a silicone mat (sil-pat) which is safe in temperatures up to 500 and is better for environment
  • This recipe has a lot of sodium. I did not salt the squash before roasting and I cut way back on the salt added to shallot – using maybe ¼ teaspoon. 
  • I used grapeseed oil as it is better for high cooking temperatures and used a very small amount to coat the flat sides of squash before roasting. 
  • I substituted red onion for shallot which I would NOT recommend. The shallot has a more delicate flavor and should be used. Take care also NOT TO BROWN the shallot or the garlic as this can give a bitter flavor and dominate the flavor of the soup. 
  • I added a bit more maple syrup and nutmeg. 
  • I did NOT add the butter/olive oil at the end and it still came out very creamy and smooth. 
  • I garnished with a swirl of coconut cream