Livin' La Vida Vegan!

Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash


This is a great dish I’ll add to our Thanksgiving table — it was inspired by a Rachel Ray recipe but I made it vegan and added dried cranberry’s – yum!

I found the original recipe while waiting for my husband to get his hair cut, always a nice selection of magazines at the salon!  This comes from Rachel Ray’s November 2014 issue on page 115.

Preheat oven to 375 and prepare a baking sheet with foil or parchment and coat generously with olive oil cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine 1/4 cup of light brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.  Peel and cut a large butternut squash into 3/4 inch cubes.  Toss squash cubes in the dry mixture until fully coated.  Place the squash on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, take out and flip the squash over, and then roast for another 20 minutes.

Move roasted squash into a casserole dish and top with 2 tablespoons of crushed walnuts.  The recipe also called for topping with goat cheese but I used Kite Hill vegan ricotta cheese instead along with a handful of dried cranberry’s.

It’s nice and sweet with a bite from the cayenne pepper plus creamy vegan cheese on top — great new side dish for Thanksgiving!

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Curry & Coconut Split Pea Soup

curry pea soup

My sister Danielle introduced me to and I just love her blog.  I find this particular post so interesting.  She says that the way to eat less is to have all six tastes in one meal.  According to Ayurvedic Medicine, having all six tastes — sweet, bitter, salty, pungent, sour, and astringent in one meal helps us feel fully satisfied and to ensure that all nutrients are represented.

With that and a delicious fall soup — I’m in!

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Bowties in Garlic Cream Sauce

a pasta

I love it when my husband is home — he was away for two months so it’s great to have him around again.  It’s more fun to cook for two so I’ve been experimenting with more new recipes than I have been while he’s gone.  I’ve also been making all his favorite vegan dishes!

Chloe Coscarelli, vegan chef and winner of Cupcake Wars has a new Vegan Italian cookbook out and she’s been sharing a few of the recipes online.  “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics.”  I’m eager to get the book but was excited to try this recipe in the meantime.  She says it’s one of her favorite pastas in the world — creamy farfalle pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms.  She makes it over and over for dinner parties and no one knows it’s vegan — it’s that creamy!

My husband and I sure enjoyed it along with my carnivore cousin!

This dish is also quick and easy — follow this link for the recipe, there is also one for White Lasagna with roasted butternut squash and spinach that I’m eager to try as well.

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Black & Red Lentil Chili

a chili

We love chili!  I’ve posted several vegan chili recipes already but I think this is our favorite and it only takes ten minutes in a pressure cooker!

I had never heard of black lentils before and found them in bulk at Whole Foods.  Combining the black and red lentils is the key — the black cook quickly and keep their shape for a hearty texture and the fast cooking red break down for a thicker consistency.  Cooked lentils have a meaty character and with the spices you can’t tell it’s vegan!  Our carnivore friend Adam questioned why we started eating meat when he tried it — my husband loves this chili.

Five minutes of prep with chopping the onions, garlic, and pepper — combine all the ingredients in a pressure cooker, cook for ten minutes, and allow the pressure to come down naturally for another ten and you’re ready!  If you don’t have a pressure cooker, they will also cook perfectly on the stove in thirty minutes.  The recipe only calls for one can of fire roasted tomatoes but I thought it needed a second so I added them in after cooking — the warmth of the chili heated them up and having bigger tomato chunks was nice.  The second time I made the chili I increased the spices a bit by heaping them up on the spoon then added in a can of kidney beans and a cup of frozen corn — even better!

Follow this link for our new favorite chili recipe:  There is a bonus video at this link that shows a neat trick to quickly peel garlic.  I chopped the garlic up into large chunks the way I like it instead of mincing as the recipe suggests.


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Turmeric Juice

a turmeric juice

I’ve mentioned the many benefits of turmeric in this blog a few times before so I won’t review now but I wanted to share this natural pain relief juice recipe.  I have degenerative disks in my back and live with constant pain.  Unfortunately I pop Advil like candy to get through the day.  Yoga helps quite a bit but it only takes the edge off.  I found this juice recipe and since I’ve been drinking about half a cup a day, my pain has lessened dramatically and I haven’t had an Advil since!

It’s a bit time consuming but worth it if you live with pain — you can get all the ingredients at Whole Foods.  I substituted the honey with pure maple syrup and added some fresh ground pepper — I read somewhere that for turmeric to fully work in the body it needs pepper!

The time consuming part is preparing the tamarind — a plant I’d never even heard of before.  You have to boil it down into a jam consistency and strain it.  I wondered if that part was worth it until I started reading up on the healing properties of tamarind.  It has many medicinal purposes including rheumatism and inflammation so I then understood why it was included in this recipe.  It is also used to aid digestion, fever, and sore throat.  It has a high fiber content with thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, niacin, calcium, vitamin C, and copper.  It also contains high levels of tartaric acid for antioxidant action!

Here is the link to the recipe — join me in reducing your pain naturally!

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Apple Dipped Pankcakes

apple pancakes

My cousin Austin was visiting and he found this recipe — we were both eager to try it, so delicious!  The pancakes tasted like warm apple pie.  I made it much simpler by using Bisquick, almond milk, and egg replacers.  When I make it again I’ll try using buckwheat pancake mix instead.  You’ll also want to add cinnamon and nutmeg to the pancake mix to give it that apple pie flavor when done — I didn’t measure, just shook out the spices until it felt right.

This recipe is as easy as making regular pancakes — the only additional steps include coring the apples (I used two Honeycrisp), slicing them in about 1/4 inch rounds, and dipping the slices into the pancake mix.  Place each slice on a skillet, cook as you normally would, and serve with warm maple syrup — enjoy!

If you’d like to see the original home made recipe Austin found use this link:

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Creole Vegetable Jambalaya


I’ve never made jambalaya before but was curious as to what okra tasted like when I found it at a farmers market — a vegetable I’d never tried.  I read that it is full of vitamin C and calcium and also a good source of magnesium, vitamin B6, and potassium so I added it to my bag for a try!

Jambalaya is an easy one pot dish but where to find the recipe?  To the master of Creole cooking, Emeril Lagasse of course!  Surprisingly there was no okra in his recipe so I made some substitutions — used okra instead of eggplant and zucchini in stead of yellow squash.  I also added a few dashes of liquid smoke and didn’t use rice so I eliminated the six cups of water.  It’s a wonderfully flavorful dish that I’ll make again!

Follow this link for the recipe and enjoy!

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Sautéed Garlic Beets


With my husband in NY on business, I haven’t been in the mood to cook full meals so I’ve been making a lot of sides and salads.  I found some beautiful beets at a farmers market and thought I’d make them again.

Start with four medium beets — trim and peel then slice them into squares.  Your fingers will end up red so wash your hands right away.

Heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add three large minced garlic cloves and cook about a minute before adding the beets.  Stir until coated in the oil.  Add 1/4 cup white wine, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and then cover.  Cook until the beets are almost tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and drizzle with a bit of red wine vinegar and more extra virgin live oil — season to taste with freshly ground salt and pepper and enjoy a delicious side full of cancer-fighting antioxidants and folate.

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Oatmeal to go!


My wonderful friend, chef, and cookbook author Stacey Morris (, use to make me oatmeal to go by placing oatmeal, plain yogurt, fresh fruit, and a bit of agave in a small container over night.  In the morning it was ready to eat or take to work.  I don’t eat yogurt anymore but wondered if it would still work with almond milk and the answer is yes!

I mixed half a cup of oats with 1/4 cup of almond milk, a teaspoon of chia seeds, sprinkle of cinnamon, a few dried cranberries, and a drop of maple syrup.  When I awoke in the morning I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it tasted — I ate it cold but could be warmed up in the microwave for a minute as well.  Breakfast to go does not need to be unhealthy donuts — it can be a nutritious bowl of oatmeal!

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What to do when all you have in your fridge are potatoes and kale?  Make Colcannon of course!  I completely forgot about this old Irish recipe my grandmother used to make — a way to “hide” nutritious greens inside yummy mashed potatoes!  Colcannon means “white-headed cabbage” and is a traditional Irish dish mainly consisting of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage.

Boil half a cup of finely chopped kale and three green onions in a cup of almond milk until kale is wilted.

Mash three large Irish potatoes (leave the skins on for more nutrition!) with a tablespoon of Smart Balance vegan butter and the boiling milk/kale/onion mixture.  Beat well until light and fluffy then add salt and pepper to taste.

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