Vegan Cornbread

Vegan cornbread fresh from the oven!
Vegan cornbread fresh from the oven!

I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian really, but most of the time I eat that way, so I’m always looking for new recipes for vegetarian and particularly vegan food. I learned some great non-dairy “cheese” recipes over the last year and a half and have been surprised to find that I don’t miss the real thing – at all. In fact, last spring was the first time since high school that I didn’t suffer from allergies. I can honestly say I feel a lot better when I avoid dairy and that eating tons of cheese made from nuts doesn’t seem to affect my weight.  Anyhoo, this year I am revving-up the search to find the best vegan recipes out there.

For New Year’s day we had vegan hoppin’ john with collards, and both were  rich and delicious despite the lack of meat. I used smoked salt and a little smoked paprika in both. Of course, I waited too late in the day to have time to make anything to go with them, but the beans and greens made a great pair on their own.

Still, I decided that since we will be eating this dish for a few more days I might as well add to the menu. Tonight we’ll add brown rice and VEGAN CORNBREAD. Ta-dah! I found a well-reviewed recipe on and gave it a try. (This  recipe was developed by an 11 year-old girl – GO, GIRL!)

It’s only my second attempt at vegan baking. I tweaked the recipe a little, using white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and just adding hot water to a bowl of flax meal instead of mixing it on the stove. One reviewer suggested letting the batter sit for 10-15 minutes prior to cooking, so I did that too. Why not?  AND…another recommended preheating the pan and then rolling a little oil around in it before adding the batter. I used some shallot oil I made the other day in hopes it might impart a little extra flavor around the edges. Sadly, I don’t have an iron skillet, but that’s always suggested when it comes to cornbread.

Ground Flax seed (Flax seed meal)
Ground Flax seed (Flax seed meal)
White whole wheat flour
White whole wheat flour

Verdict?  Pretty darned good! In fact, it was perfect dipped into the juices of the greens and black-eyed peas. I still need to try a piece slathered in (non-dairy) butter. My bonus kid loved it, and he’s only 8 so that makes it a hit! Yum! It’s more savory than sweet, so if you’re lead by a sweet tooth you might add more sugar to the batter or drizzle a little maple syrup over the final product.

Flax Eggs
Flax seeds mixed with water replace the eggs to make this a vegan recipe
Thick cornbread batter
Thick cornbread batter
Ready for the oven!
Ready for the oven!

Here’s the original recipe, courtesy of

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
6 tablespoons water
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup soymilk
1/4 cup canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 425°F (I preheated the dish along with the oven after the batter was made)

2. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. (when I (carefully, and with potholders!) removed the heated dish from the oven, I added a little shallot oil and rolled it around to coat the bottom and sides)

3. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.
4. Add the ground flax seed, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the ground flax seed in the water for 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
5. Set aside.
6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well-combined.
7. Add the ground flax seed mixture, soy milk, and canola oil to the flour mixture.
8. Beat just until smooth (do not over-beat.) (at this point I let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes while the oven preheated)
9. Turn into prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
10. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert cornbread onto wire rack, then turn right side up and continue to cool until warm, about 10 minutes longer.
Estimated nutritional data for 9 servings courtesy of


Chana Daal Recipe Take 2

Today I had a comment from 3 lb of carrots with a question about the Chana Daal recipe I posted a while back. She noticed I said I had used tomato paste instead of the tamarind paste but when she clicked on the recipe there was no mention of tamarind paste.

Really?  Cause I’ve made that recipe many times since I wrote that post and I’m positive it was in there…hmmm.  Upon checking I realized I had linked to the WRONG recipe.  HA!  I wonder how many people have used that recipe and wondered about the tamarind/tomato paste thing. I went in and changed the link so it goes to the correct recipe and left a link to the other one down at the bottom…the one that anyone who’s read that post has been using.

Chana Daal Recipe Soak the Daal
Soak the daal for 2-3 hours

So…I decided to call that one Vegan Chana Daal, give this other recipe a shot for comparison and devote another blog post to it.  WITH PHOTOS.

Even though I’m trying to limit the use of animal products around here I have to admit I got excited when I unscrewed the ghee jar and got a whiff of that rich, buttery goodness…yum.

Skinny dipping in a sea of ghee…anybody?

Looking at this recipe, I’m surprised it took so long for someone to ask questions other than the one about the tamarind paste. It’s a mess.

The ingredient list makes no mention of ginger, but down in the instructions it says to add the ginger to the water with the turmeric. ?  Okay – I chopped up some fresh ginger – probably around 1 tablespoon, and tossed it into the water with the salt and turmeric. I also added a heaping half teaspoon of garam masala, which was also listed in the ingredients but never mentioned again.

Chopped Garlic

Then I noticed a teaspoon of ground cumin in the ingredient list that is never mentioned in the instructions. Instead, it says to drop cumin seeds into the ghee. (Cumin seeds are not on the ingredient list.) I scratched my head again at this and decided to just forego the ground cumin (it’s in the garam masala) and use a half teaspoon cumin seeds in the ghee.  See how that works out.

I read somewhere that you should toast the cumin seeds first, so that’s what I did. Consider it. But don’t walk away and sit down to type like I did. Then they’ll burn and you’ll have to do it again. Of course, mine burned the second time too so the next time I make this I won’t be toasting the cumin seeds. You’re on your own there. I might just omit them altogether next time, use a ½ tsp cumin and drop some mustard seeds in the ghee instead.

Mmmm...yummy daal

So here’s what I actually used:

  • 1 cup chana daal
  • 7 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 T ghee / clarified butter
  • 2 large cloves of garlic – chopped
  • 1 T chopped fresh ginger

After soaking the chana daal, boil 3 cups of water with the garam masala, ginger, turmeric and salt – toss in the daal and cook on medium, covered for a half hour.

Heat up the ghee and put the cumin seeds in – as soon as they start to pop, add the garlic. Once the garlic is browned, add the red chili powder and then add it to the daal. Cover and let it simmer for about 5 minutes more and you’re done.

This turned out really good – definitely different than the vegan chana daal recipe – more of a savory flavor while the other recipe is sweeter.  This batch had a burnt cumin flavor that was definitely a distraction, but I found it addicting all the same.

Of all the Indian recipes I’ve tried, these two chana daal recipes are keepers – it’s good to be able to mix it up a little.Thanks, 3 lb of carrots!

Vegan Chana Dal Recipe

I almost called this blog “Flying by the Seat of My Pants”, but then decided I didn’t want to lock myself into being the disorganized, procrastinating, always “winging-it” gal that I am.  But, truth is – that’s me, and it’s OK.

But here’s a great example of how being this way can be terribly frustrating.

I have thousands of photos on my computer.  It wasn’t until I’d had my digital camera for 4 years that I even attempted any kind of organization, and that only applies to recent photos.  I tried to load some new photos onto the computer a couple weeks ago, only to find that I have NO ROOM left on my drive.  UGH.

So, until I can find the time to sit down for many hours and go through them all, I can’t take any new photos…which is half the fun of this for me.  :-(

In the meantime, I tried this recipe for Chana Dal **(see note at bottom of post) yesterday and it is a real treat for the taste buds; the kind of dish that keeps me excited about cooking, and eating.

Chana Dal is a legume used in Indian dishes – it’s very similar to a yellow split pea.

The recipe is completely vegetarian, but the spices are so perfect…they create a broth that has such depth of flavor you’d think there was some kind of meaty broth behind it.  So wonderful to be able to layer spices together in such a way that tasting them lights up every one of the senses.  I’m not kidding.  Even my husband – who is tentative about beans/legumes, thought it was delicious and said he could eat it every day.  (!!!!) My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I didn’t have tamarind pulp, but I did have a can of tomato paste that needed to be used, so I substituted that.  This is a great source of fiber and protein.  It really is so good that I plan to make a double batch today so I can keep eating it for a few days.

We ate it with brown basmati rice which I flavored with a few saffron threads. I wasn’t sure it was going to work – I really like white basmati with Indian food.  Surprisingly, they went together perfectly. BONUS!

PLUS – it’s so cheap to make. I spent $4.99 on the bag of dal at the Indian grocery.  I can make 4.5 batches of this with that.  Considering each batch is about 4 servings, this comes to less than $.30 a serving.  (not including the spices) Buying the spices at the Indian grocer saves a TON as well.

I will probably try the next batch with half the salt and see how that works…

The estimated nutritional data is for one of four servingsnutrition facts

**(3/10/12)   You might have noticed that the link sends you to a different recipe. A reader just alerted me to the fact that I was linking to a different recipe from the one I was actually using – she noticed there was no tamarind pulp. That link now takes you to the recipe the post references,  but here is the one that was here in case you are coming back to find that one. I’m adding another post using this one

Arugula and Sweet Potato Salad Recipe

Arugula Salad with Sweet Potatoes Recipe
Arugula Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

The other day, my friend Lynn wrote an inspiring column about a recent trip to the farmers market in which she waxed poetic about the first time she tried arugula, and a steamy encounter as she drove home.

I love arugula, and when I woke up at six am on Saturday morning and knew I wasn’t getting back to sleep, I jumped out of bed, donned a baseball hat and headed to the farmers market in Matthews.   It was actually the first day of its 20th season!

I always stop at the Newtown Farms booth first because I used to share a share in their CSA program, and I can always count on them for amazing, organic produce.  Newtown Farms is owned and operated by the Koenigsburg family, and the way all 8 kids work together out there is a beautiful thing to see!  There are usually a few of them helping out on the weekends at the market as well.

Anyhoo…they had some beautiful spinach, arugula and a nice lettuce mix.  I had to grab a bag of each.  Ooh, kale!  Gotta have some of that, too!  Then I walked over to another stall and picked up some pea shoots.  By the time I noticed the bunches of romaine at another, I stopped in my tracks, a little dizzy, with red lights going off in my head.

“Susan, are you going to even be able to use all the greens you’ve stuffed into the sack already?  Should you really be eyeballing yet another bag? You know you’ll be kicking yourself if any of this goes into the trash!”

I think I actually did a little 2-step for a few seconds – taking a step forward, then a step back – totally flustered, before I came to my senses and made a deal with myself.

“YES!  I’m going to get all this stuff and the challenge is that I consume it all as quickly as possible! Gonna follow through on that goal to make salads a regular thing in the house.  I can do this!”  And I bought the romaine…then added some mushrooms, two dozen fresh eggs,  and a couple pepper plants for good measure.

Fresh Arugula
Freshly Rinsed Arugula

Yesterday I had a big salad with a mix of everything, but today I wanted something a little more thoughtful and creative.  We roast sweet potatoes all the time around here, and it occurred to me that those would be wonderful mixed with the spicy arugula.  Since I almost never make salads at home, I generally use a bottled dressing, but I wanted something a little more special for this, so I did a quick search, and this is the first recipe I came across.  (Thanks, Martha Stewart!) It looked perfect, especially since I actually had all the stuff here.

Citrus Dressing Recipe for Arugula Salad with Sweet Potatoes
Fresh Citrus Dressing

I roasted the sweet potatoes tossed with olive oil, garam masala and a little ground chipotle pepper – it’s a  nice blend of sweet and spicy.  After mixing the dressing into the arugula, I added some thinly sliced red onions and decided to go with the feta cheese also.

Arugula Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Citrus Dressing
Toss the Arugula with the Dressing

Honestly…this is one of the most tasty dishes I’ve had in some time; the sweet potatoes are the perfect accompaniment to the bold flavor of the arugula, and the feta adds a nice little punch.  So simple, so light, so fresh…truly divine.

Arugula Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Simple Perfection

My only regret is that I didn’t buy more arugula so I could have it again tomorrow.

For the dressing, I used:

2 T olive oil

1 tsp orange zest

3 T orange juice (fresh squeezed, then I ate the orange)

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

dash salt

a few dashes of black pepper.

And for the salad:

5.5 oz. arugula

1 oz. onions

6.2 oz. sweet potatoes (with about 2 tsp. olive oil)

.6 oz. feta cheese

*This made 2 servings, and the approximate nutritional data for each is:

nutrition facts

Calabasitas Con Maize Recipe (Zucchini and Corn Recipe)

Calavasitas Con Maize

Most often, simple is best, and here’s a great example of that.

Simple Ingredients

For the past year+ I have heard people raving about my friend Syvlia’s Calabasitas con Maize…zucchini and corn. I finally tried it one night and MAN – this is good stuff. It’s such a simple and easy recipe, and so delicious.

Per Sylvia’s instructions, I melted 2 tbs. butter with 2 tbs. olive oil and cooked the onions (about 12 oz) for about 3 minutes before adding a (28 oz) bag of frozen corn. I could have added corn that was already roasted but I didn’t have any, and it turns out I’m glad I didn’t. Something beautiful rose out of that pan as the corn slowly roasted with the onions…the aroma that filled the air had my mouth watering in anticipation as I waited for 1/2 to 2/3 of the corn to brown.  Once that was accomplished I added the zucchini (25.3 oz) and continued cooking until that was tender.


THAT’S IT! So simple…so easy…and so wonderful. Who knew that these few simple ingredients would come together to create such flavor? It’s the perfect side dish, but it’s great in a bowl on it’s own as well.

As the corn browns, the aroma rises…

All I had on hand was yellow onions, but using red (per Sylvia) ones adds a nice bit of color!

The real beauty of this dish is that you can add just about anything to it. I’m considering keeping this in the fridge regularly to add to beans & rice/quinoa dishes, burritos…today I added some fresh diced tomatoes along with some avocado, with a little chili powder (per Sylvia, to add a little “BAM!”)  DEELISH!

Thanks Sylvia!



Healthy Breakfast Cookie Recipe

Cookies and Milk with berries on the side

I’ve been away for a while – went on my honeymoon and have been playing catch-up since I got back. Add to that some family things that have needed my attention, and this thing here has been sorely neglected.  So here’s a quick and easy recipe I tried a few weeks ago and have fallen in love with.

I’ve been trying different recipes from the Sneaky Chef in the attempt to get the kids to eat more stuff – particularly my little stepson who needs more fiber but really doesn’t care for vegetables.  The good thing is that he will try anything, which is seriously endearing.  Plus, he’s almost sure to love anything if we call it a cookie.

I tried the roasted, cinnamon-sugar coated chickpeas, but they didn’t turn out well – it may be that I need a bonding agent to get the sugary spice to stick, that my oven doesn’t seem to heat up accurately, or both.  Either way – they are sitting in a glass container just waiting to be thrown away.  :-(

These little breakfast  cookies, on the other hand – are keepers!  I’ve actually become addicted to them.  This past week has been especially hectic and I’m totally out of my routine – not knowing where I will be needed next, I’m all over the place.  Having these little babies in the freezer, ready to grab on the way out the door has been a huge help.

Made with cereal (I used Total) and ricotta cheese, among other things, they taste sort of like muffins but eat like cookies.  They are just slightly sweet – just enough to satisfy, and they also have this yummy buttery richness to them which, combined with a hint of salt,  satisfy the taste buds on several levels. Yum.  I  honestly love these.

If you could use a healthy treat for your kids to eat when there’s no time for breakfast – give these a try.  Really, they work as a treat any time, and you can feel good about your family eating them.

2 cups whole grain cereal

**3/4 cup Flour Blend (scroll down for more info)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 large egg

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup low-fat ricotta cheese (I used whole fat – I think this adds to that deep buttery taste they have)

cinnamon sugar for dusting

**Flour Blend is 1 cup each of all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and wheat germ.  You can make this ahead and keep it on hand for other recipes.  As my friend Karyn pointed out, you could just add 1/4 cup each of the three.

Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with paper or spray oil.  Gently crush the cereal in a bag – coarsely.  I used a blender – a couple quick pulses.

Whisk together flour blend, cereal, baking soda, salt & cinnamon in one bowl.

Wet Bowl / Dry Bowl

In another – whisk the egg, sugar, oil, vanilla & ricotta cheese.

Add the Ricotta

Drop them onto the baking sheet in single tablespoons and then flatten them with the back of a fork.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are browned and crispy.

Prepping for the Oven
Sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar
Cookies and Milk

Approximate Nutritional Stats are using whole ricotta – not low-fat.  Serving size is 1 cookie.  I’d love some other recipes like this, so please post them in the comments section if you have any!

nutrition facts

PS:  did you click on the second link? I’d love to hear back on that…  ;0)

Avocado Chimichurri Bruschetta Recipe

Avocado Chimichurri Bruschetta

Nothing is quite so satisfying as cutting into a fresh avocado, peeling back the skin, and finding a perfect specimen inside;  smooth and creamy, spotless green that is just soft enough to work with but firm enough to hold its shape when you slice it.  While eating one may feel utterly indulgent, avocados are actually very good for you.  Yes, they are high in fat, but it’s the good kind that helps to lower your cholesterol, and adding them to your diet offers all kind of benefits for your health.  They are a good source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, potassium, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and copper.

About 12 years ago, I first  had chimichurri sauce in a Cuban place in town.  I had never tasted anything quite like it before, and it’s one of those flavors that has haunted me ever since.  In the years since, I have tried a few recipes and tasted other restaurants’ versions, but they have all been disappointments. Until this one came along…

The following recipe is one of my all-time favorites:  a chimichurri sauce that tastes just like the one I remember, combined with avocados for an amazing alternative to guacamole.   I found it in Vegetarian Times magazine a few years back .  Super easy to make, it’s my “go-to” whenever I need to bring an appetizer to a party, and people always want the recipe.

Without adding the avocado, this is an intensely-flavored chimichurri that goes beautifully with fish and meats.  I’m planning to try it with some salmon this week.  Honestly, it’s got the kind of flavor that makes you close your eyes and sigh…oh yeah…this is good.

2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced (~1 Tbs.)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 avocados, peeled, pitted & cubed (I used three just to make sure there was enough to go around)
6 1/-inch-thick slices whole grain or ciabatta bread, toasted (I was in a hurry so I just bought pre-sliced and toasted whole wheat bagette)


Combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano and black pepper in small bowl. Whisk in oil, then stir in cilantro & parsley. Fold in avocado cubes and spoon over toast slices

*Estimated Nutritional Data is for a 1 tablespoon serving:

nutrition facts