Vegan Tomato Soup

Recipes

Soup is easily one of my favorite categories of foods. Tomato, potato, squash, chowders you name it, I love it. This is partly why I become so excited for colder weather, even though I consider myself a summertime kinda gal. Soups are comforting and filling, but can also be surprisingly simple and easy to make. This vegan tomato soup is no exception.

In my journey to try and recreate all my favorite recipes as vegan versions, I knew I had to try and duplicate my favorite tomato soup recipe. It’s so satisfying with a little bit of a spicy kick and pairs great with a vegan grilled cheese sandwich. What makes this recipe even better is it’s simplicity. There’s only one onion and some garlic to chop up, and eventually everything gets blended into soup consistency. You can use either a blender or I like to use my immersion blender, just be sure to be soup-er careful with your hot soup. If it flings out of that pot whilst you blend, you’re going to have some not so fun burns on your hands (and possibly the rest of your body). The vegan grilled cheese I mentioned before is made with some sourdough bread and Daiya’s Plant-Based Cheddar Style slices. I found that these melt super nicely on the stove without too much effort, and they have a great cheesey flavor that goes great with this soup. I hope you enjoy!

Vegan Tomato Soup

1/2 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 28oz cans whole tomatoes

Dash Tabasco sauce

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried basil leaves

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened, plain

  1. Place onion, garlic, bay leaf, Tabasco sauce and olive oil in the bottom of a large pot and cook on medium heat until onions are translucent.
  2. Add tomatoes, brown sugar, basil and almond milk. Use the back of your spoon to crush the tomatoes and bring just to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes stirring frequently.
  3. After 10 minutes, remove the bay leaf and blend until smooth using an immersion blender. Be extra careful with this step. I usually leave the blender submerged fully in the mixture to avoid splatter.
  4. Once blended, add the vegetable broth and heat until warmed through.
  5. Serve with a vegan grilled cheese sandwich.

Vegan Pumpkin Alfredo

Recipes

It’s finally fall and that means all the pumpkin flavors you can handle. This recipe may seem surprising, but having used pumpkin purée with pasta before I hoped it would turn out as delicious as it did. The pumpkin gives this pasta dish an undeniable creaminess that won’t have you thinking twice about it being dairy-free.

This recipes does use almond milk, but you could substitute that for any type of dairy substitute you like. I typically have almond milk on hand so I went with that out of convenience. Since this recipe only calls for 1/2 a cup of pumpkin purée, keep in mind that you can save the leftover purée for future recipes like vegan pumpkin bread or muffins.

I love combining pumpkin with garlic. It creates such a surprising flavor combination that will leave even pumpkin-haters in awe. Savory with a tid bit of sweet really makes this pasta dish pop, and I can’t wait to make it again this season. I hope you enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Alfredo

4-6 servings of fettuccine cooked and drained (I used gluten free fettuccine for this, but you can use whatever pasta you have on hand)

1/2 cup pumpkin purée (I used canned)

1/2 cup almond milk (or other milk substitute)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/8 tsp nutmeg

2-4 fresh sage leaves (2 for cooking, 2 for garnish if desired)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cornstarch to thicken if needed

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat.

2. Once heated add the garlic and 2 sage leaves. Cook until fragrant about 2 minutes.

3. Add pumpkin purée and stir to combine.

4. Slowly pour in almond milk and mix. Mix in spices.

5. Let simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken sauce. If sauce does not thicken add cornstarch, about 1 tsp at a time to desired consistency.

6. Once the sauce is finished, mix in the cooked pasta. Serve immediately.

Vegan Fiesta Bowl Meal Prep

Recipes

Here we are again, another week of meal prep! Seriously, these last few weeks have been so great as far as lunches go. I’ve been on top of my ish! Which is great because being on top of it makes me want to stay on top of it. So here is another yummy, yummy lunch that I made for the week. It’s super easy and the ingredients are super cost effective – saving you time and money! Luckily for me, the items were also on sale at my local grocery store so that’s always a plus too. I actually made this particular lunch set on a Monday morning before work – that’s how easy it is!

For this recipe, as with most of my recipes I share here, all items can be substituted if you don’t care for specific ingredients. Furthermore, all of these items could also be subbed for fresh ingredients as well, I just did cans this time around because they were easier and on sale. This meal is great because it has the protein you need but is still super tasty and keeps me full until dinner. Pair this bowl with some tortilla chips and you have a real winner!

Vegan Fiesta Bowls

White or brown rice (I didn’t have brown rice on hand or I would have used that. You could also use quinoa)

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 can whole black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can rotel, drained

Guacamole (I like using premade guac because it doesn’t brown as fast)

Cilantro, chopped

Limes

Add rice, corn, beans, rotel and guacamole to your container. Top rice with cilantro and cover all ingredients with fresh squeezed lime juice and salt and pepper. When ready to eat, you can either eat cold or microwave. I like to take the guac out before microwaving and then add back in. Stir everything together and enjoy. It’s that easy!

Vegan Animal Style Fries

Recipes

If you live in California, I’m going to assume that you’ve had In n Out, because let’s face it, it’s a West coast staple (or at least it should be). With fresh ingredients and a classic menu it’s a favorite among meat eaters and vegetarians alike (or maybe just me? LOL). Being a vegetarian means I no longer order their burgers, but occasionally I would order their grilled cheese or a side of animal style fries. Eating as a vegan makes this impossible, so what’s the best solution? Making them at home of course! This recipe is so easy and tastes almost exactly like the original. Caramelized onions, melted (dairy-free) cheese and (vegan) thousand island dressings on top of a pile of crispy french fries – it doesn’t get better than that. Make these when you’re craving something salty and comforting. We paired them with some Beyond Meat sloppy joes for a meal that was as tasty as it was filling.

One of the best parts of this recipe is the caramelized onions. This is a step that is not to be rushed, though. When caramelizing onions you want to cook them low and slow so that you don’t end up with burnt crispy onions. A little bit of crisp is fine, but burning is never okay. Start the onions when you start the fries. For this recipe, I used a bag of frozen fries from Alexia (love this brand), but you could always get fancy with it and make your own fries as well. Alexia’s Yukon Gold fries were a perfect match to In n Out’s fries in my opinion and were an easy swap to get these babies cooked and into my tummy as fast as possible. You could also make your own thousand island dressing using vegan mayo, but again, I wanted this particular instance to be as quick as possible (I was really hungry, okay!)

It’s always exciting when I can make a copycat recipe of a favorite food from my meat-eating or dairy eating days. I’m currently trying to stay away from dairy products and I am about 2 and a half weeks in. My tummy seriously feels so much better! I don’t think I realized what an adverse affect dairy was having on my insides. This recipe is a great example of how we can survive without cheese, even when we think we can’t. Let me know if you make these fries and if you think they’re close to the original. I’m super happy with how they turned out and I can’t wait to make them again!

Vegan Animal Style Fries

1 bag of Alexia Yukon Gold french fries, or similar, or make your own

Daiya non-dairy cheddar slices, 1 slice per serving

Follow Your Heart vegan thousand island, or similar, or make your own

1 yellow onion, diced

Make your french fries according to the package directions. While the fries are cooking, cook the onion in about 1 Tbsp of heated olive oil (or oil of your choice). Cook the onions slowly over medium heat stirring frequently. You want these to brown slowly to get the best flavor, it will take about 15-20 minutes. Once the fries and the onions are complete, remove the fries from the oven and place desired serving on a microwave safe plate (you could also do this next step in the oven if you prefer). Place one slice of the Daiya non-dairy cheddar on top and microwave for about 25 seconds or until the slice is melted onto the fries. Top with caramelized onions and desired amount of thousand island dressing. Now eat them as slowly as possible to savor every last bit of yummy goodness. Enjoy!

Salad in a Jar Meal Prep

Recipes

Meal prepping is a great way to save money but it’s also helpful in sticking to healthy eating goals. Personally, I am far more likely to stay eating healthy if I have food that is already prepared making it easier to make good decisions. One of my favorite ways to meal prep for lunches at work are salads in mason jars. I had seen posts on Pinterest for them here and there and eventually thought I would try my hand at my own mixtures. They are quick and easy to make, and last much longer than a salad put into a plastic container. The larger mason jars also make it so that you have a good sized portion so that you don’t get hungry or tempted to snack later in the day.

This particular salad recipe is one of my new favorites, but you can make any sort of combination you want with salads in a jar. The main trick is to make sure that all of your wettest items are stacked towards the bottom. This keeps the items that you want to stay fresh from getting soggy. In each case, you always want to have your dressing at the bottom of the jar. This keeps it from getting mixed up with other ingredients like your fresh greens. The items you place on top of the dressing should be more solid resilient vegetables that can stand up to a little bit of moisture. For example, this salad has raw broccoli stacked on top of the dressing,and then blueberries on top of that. I did not want to mix the beets with the dressing since the liquids of each would mix together. The way it’s layered here gave the broccoli and berries a tasty dressing without making them soft or soggy. Greens always get placed at the top of the jar, or furthest away from the wettest ingredients, to keep them fresh. I hope you enjoy this salad recipe. Let me know in the comments below if you have any mixtures that you like to put into jars for the week!

Blueberry Broccoli Salad in a Jar

Arrange the ingredients in this order per jar. If you’d like to swap any items feel free, just remember the stacking rule!

1-2 Tbsp of dressing per jar

1 handful of raw broccoli florets, chopped

1 handful of fresh blueberries

Approx. 1/2 cup of canned shoe string beets (I used one can across 3 jars)

Approx. 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (again, 1 can across 3 jars)

1 large handful of fresh baby spinach (stuffed into the top of the jar)

Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Dump jar into a bowl or plate and enjoy!

How to Harvest and Roast Sunflower Seeds

Recipes

Seeds and nuts are a great source of snacking protein. Unfortunately, some varieties can be quite expensive making it difficult to add them into a daily routine. Luckily, sunflower seeds are not usually too expensive, and are even less pricey if you grow and harvest them at home. Sunflower seeds are also a great source of Vitamin B, calcium and iron making them a great alternative to junk food type snacks. Another benefit of growing and roasting them at home is that you can control the sodium levels. Sunflower seeds packaged and sold in stores often times contain high amounts of sodium that can outweigh the nutritional benefits of this easy to produce snack.

Growing sunflowers at home is fairly easy if you start your seeds at the right time and maintain the growth of the plant. I have several blog posts on this topic if you’d like to check that out. In this post, I’m going to mostly focus on the harvesting and the roasting of the seeds themselves. I do highly encourage everyone to try growing their own sunflowers. They are fun to watch grow because they start as tiny seeds and grow into monstrous sometimes 6 feet tall flowers that follow the sun with their big golden faces. Our sunflowers were of the Mammoth variety, making them very large in size and produced loads of seeds per head. All in all, 4 flowers were originally seeded and 3 of them made it through a full life cycle. The flower you see in these images was actually the smallest of the 3, but still produced enough sunflower seeds to keep us snacking for days if not a couple weeks.

To begin, make sure that the sunflower head has spent enough time on it’s stalk to completely dry out. This can be determined by the stalk and the back of the flower itself turning yellow and even brown in color. Some people have issues with birds and other critters stealing the seeds as they dry, if you have this issue, you can always cut the heads of the flowers off first and dry them inside by hanging them upside down by their stalk. Once the seeds have completely dried out, you can remove the head of the flower from the stalk by cutting it with your garden shears or scissors.

Once the head is removed, bring it inside and give it a good rinse to remove any loose leaves or other outside remnants. Remove the outer leaves as well. Once removed, you can start pulling the seeds from the flower. I did this by gently bending the body of the flower head outward and popping the seeds out with my hands, sort of like an ice cube tray.

Once all the seeds have been removed, place them in a bowl of water and add salt if desired. I used a couple teaspoons of Himilayan pink salt, but you can use regular salt or leave them unsalted if you prefer. Let them soak in the water overnight. This will keep the seeds from over-roasting in the oven as well as help the seeds to absorb the salt from the water (if added).

After the seeds have finished soaking, you can preheat your oven to 300°F and place the seeds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Try to remove as much water from the seeds as you can by first straining them out of the water and then patting them with a paper towel. This step can be a bit frustrating since the seeds will want to stick to the towel, but just try to make sure that all the seeds end up in a single layer on the parchment paper. Roast the seeds for about 30-40 minutes. Mine went for 35 minutes, and I could smell them roasting at about 30 minutes. You want the shells to turn a nice golden brown color.

Let the seeds cool before storing them. I like to put them in a plastic bag or in a jar to maintain their freshness. And that’s it! Now you have a surplus of snacking seeds and you did it all from home! It’s always so fun to see the fruits from your garden being made into things you might buy all the time without thinking about how they’re made. This was definitely one of those projects for me 🙂 I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever made sunflower seeds or if you plan on planting them next year.

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Vegetarian Eggs Benedict

Recipes

I’m calling this recipe a benedict, but really I think it might just be a fancy toast. The main reason for this being that I royally screwed up my hollandaise sauce. But does a benedict have to have sauce? Does a benedict have to have meat? If so, then this is totally not an eggs benedict, although it still feels like one when you’re eating it. I’d like to think that the main components of a proper eggs benedict are the english muffin and the poached egg. I’d like to believe that as long as you have these two components you can mix in whatever other ingredients you like and still have some version of an eggs benedict. And so, with that notion, I give you, Vegetarian Eggs Benedict.

The most difficult part of this recipe is the timing and the cooking of the poached egg. I just started poaching eggs myself as I’ve always been terrified by the process, but it turns out it’s actually quite simple. To begin, I fill a pot of water and place it on the stove to boil. Once it reaches it’s boiling point, I turn down the heat and it’s ready to use. I use a spoon to stir and stir and stir until a small whirlpool-like element is created in the middle of my pot. I then take my egg, which I’ve already cracked into a bowl, and pour it gently into the middle of the whirlpool. This creates the spherical shape of the poached egg. The egg sits for about 3-4 minutes and then gets pulled out with a slotted spoon and rests on a plate to release excess water before adorning my meal. It’s a simple process, but it can take a while to make multiples. I’ve got some plans in the works on how to rectify that, but for now I just make one poached egg at a time.

I like eggs on bread. Something about it just screams breakfast, and this recipe is no different. What makes eggs and bread even better? Avocado. I mean, let’s face it, avocado makes everything better. This recipe also calls for spinach. In other versions of this dish I’ve seen people sautee their spinach. You are more than welcome to do this, however I did not care for the somewhat soggy consistency it created once topped upon my english muffin. I prefer my vegetables to be fresh and crispy. I’d imagine you could use a variety of different greens on this. Spinach is a good option for me because it tastes good and provides an extra nutritional boost to my breakfast/brunch. So without further adieu, let’s give you this recipe.

Vegetarian Eggs Benedict (for two!)

2 english muffins, halved and toasted

4 poached eggs

2 handfuls of spinach

1 tomato, sliced

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare all of your ingredients first (ie. slicing, pitting etc.), then start your eggs. Once the eggs are going add your muffins to the toaster. Once they are complete, place the muffin first, then the spinach, tomato, avocado and lastly the egg. Top with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Easy Vegetarian Sheet Pan Nachos

Recipes

Sometimes I get home from the gym knowing exactly what I want for dinner. This event is rare, but it does happen every so often. The night I made these nachos was one of those times. It was hot, I was tired and lazy and was craving something salty. I started to think about what I had at home to work with and the only thing I could think of was Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef. What could I make with crumbles that would be satisfying and easy? Immediately into my head popped NACHOS. I hadn’t made them at home in a while and that made me wonder why. They can be incredibly filling, easy to make and ready in less than 10 minutes. And so, I headed to the grocery store to buy a few inexpensive ingredients that I knew would combine into a giant plate of nachos that would satisfy my cravings.

One of the best ways to keep a dinner easy is to make the clean up easy. Meals that only require one pan to create are the perfect solution. This nacho recipe only uses one sheet pan, and you can cover it in foil to make clean up even easier. What makes this recipe even better is that you can use any combination of ingredients that you like. My recipe is simply a guideline. I enjoy refried beans with the crumbles since the beans help the crumbles stick to a chip. However, you could totally use whole beans (or both!) if you prefer. I also added corn for a sweet crunchy element and tomatoes with chiles for a spicy kick. You could also make this recipe vegan by using a vegan cheese option. Make sure you purchase one that has a nice melting consistency as that is the best part of eating nachos.

Vegetarian Sheet Pan Nachos

1 package of meatless crumbles – any brand you desire. If using something that comes frozen, make sure you thaw before cooking in the oven

1 can refried black beans

1 can corn, drained

1 can Rotel, drained

2 cups Mexican style cheese blend

1 bag tortilla chips

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Layer items on foiled sheet pan in this order – chips, beans, crumbles, corn, rotel, cheese.
  3. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted

Seriously, it’s that easy! Enjoy!

Berries and Cream Crepes

Recipes

Crepes are probably one of the fanciest breakfast foods I can think of. Of course you could also serve them for dessert or any other meal really, but I think they feel especially fancy in the morning accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee. Sometimes the weekends call for fancy. These crepes were a perfect reason to stay home and concoct a special dessert-breakfast. They are sweet as hell and filled with a cream cheese mixture and fresh berries and topped with homemade whipped cream. Seriously, does breakfast get better than this? I don’t think so.

Keep in mind, that this crepe recipe can be stuffed with other things too if you’re not feeling particularly sweet. Some ideas would be scrambled eggs with your favorite veggies, caprese salad ingredients, or even peanut butter and jelly. If you’re sweet tooth is calling out more than usual you could also make it even sweeter – hello, Nutella and bananas. However you spin it, crepes are such a versatile ingredient and I can see myself using this recipe again and again. I do want to mention that I found this recipe on https://www.yourhomebasedmom.com. Her blog is so incredibly beautiful and filled with so many great recipes. I wish my post was as pretty as hers, but hey, I’m still here sticking to my resolution so whatevs.

Making crepes can be time consuming and a bit daunting. This was my first time ever making them and I was impressed with how easy they actually were. The most important part is to remember to pay attention closely while you are cooking the crepes to make sure they don’t overcook and to really focus on the swirling of the pan to ensure they are thin when they are done. Otherwise, it’s like making very thin pancakes. I’ve burnt more pancakes than crepes if that tells you anything. Seriously, if you want to impress someone with food, make them crepes. It seems like the most difficult thing in the whole world until you do it and then you feel like a kitchen boss. I’ll be making these again soon. I can already hear the Nutella and bananas calling my name!

Crepes

2 C all-purpose flour

3 eggs, beaten

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 C whole milk

1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth. You could also use a blender as the link above suggests. Pour batter in 1/4 cup fulls into a heated non-stick pan. Swirl pan in circles to evenly coat the bottom of the pan and make the crepes thin. Once the bottom is lightly browned, flip over and cook the other side.

Cream Filling

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 C powdered sugar

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Fill crepes with filling and some berries and roll like a burrito.

Whipped Cream

1 C heavy cream

1 Tbsp powdered sugar

Chill a mixing bowl and a whisk for best results. Mix together on high setting until peaks are formed. Careful not to over mix.

Top your crepes with whipped cream and more fresh berries and enjoy!

Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta

Recipes

During the summer months it can be difficult to know what to make for dinner. The heat can make the thought of any warm meal sound horrible even if it’s delicious. And let’s be honest, we can only eat so many salads for dinner. This is where this Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta comes in. It’s served either at room temperature or cold to avoid raising body temperatures while also giving you a bomb of flavor.

This recipe was super fun for me because the star ingredients were actually harvested from my garden. I love being able to use what I’ve grown to create yummy dinners and love even more that it doesn’t go to waste. For this recipe I harvested fresh basil and a big batch of cherry tomatoes. My basil plant was going crazy and flowering so it was great timing. I also couldn’t believe the size of my cherry tomatoes, they seem huge this year (although I’m not complaining in the least). It’s always a joy to head to the backyard instead of the grocery store for ingredients. I really need to get myself a producing lemon tree as that was one of the only items I had to purchase from the store for this recipe. That and avocados, but avocado trees take SO long to produce and I’m not sure how well it would do in our hot climate. I keep bugging the hubs to build me a greenhouse, but that probably won’t happen until at least the fall when it starts getting a little cooler.

I had some whole grain spaghetti on hand which I thought would be a great addition to this recipe. What’s great about it is that you basically throw everything in a blender or food processor while the pasta cooks and voila! Dinner is served. Simply mix whatever pasta you have on hand with your creamy pesto sauce, top with your favorite fresh veggies and your done. Seriously, it’s so fresh, so delicious and so easy it’s perfect for a summer evening meal. You could also use this with zoodles or other vegetable noodles for a low carb option, or mix it with some cooked quinoa for a protein punch.

I was fortunate enough yesterday to have time to make fresh bread for dinner to go with this pasta. I used my Easy French Bread recipe. It was perfect because I came home from work, started the dough, let it rise while I was at the gym and then was able to come back and finish it up. This pesto sauce is also delicious spread on bread and would be great for sandwiches or toast. I can’t wait for the weekend to have toast with a poached egg on top with this sauce, oh and of course some more tomatoes! I imagine this pesto would also do well on pizza, although I haven’t tried this avocado version like that yet (note to self, must try later). It should be mentioned that if you wanted to leave the avocado out for a lower fat option you totally could. However, keep in mind that the creaminess of this recipe does come from the avocado. If you were to leave it out it would still pack an intense pesto flavor it just would not have the same consistency. Overall, I really love this recipe and can’t wait for my basil plant to grow back so I can harvest more! I hope you enjoy it!

Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta

1 big bunch of basil leaves, washed and packed, about 2 cups

2 avocados

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/4 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Cherry tomatoes, quartered – I used about 20, you could also use large tomatoes for this or omit entirely if you don’t like tomatoes

Whole grain spaghetti – or whatever pasta you have on hand

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking add all ingredients except cherry tomatoes and pasta to a blender or a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Once pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse with cold water until you can handle the noodles without burning your hands.
  4. Add pasta to a large bowl and mix in pesto sauce gradually until you reach your desired consistency. Place remaining pesto sauce in a sealed container and place in the fridge for future use.
  5. At this point you can either add the tomatoes and stir them in like I did, or wait to top each individual serving with tomatoes.
  6. Serve with bread and vegan butter.

And there you have it! It’s literally one of the easiest dishes of the summer and tastes so fresh and delicious you’ll be craving it all year. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Until next time,

MelissaRose