The Daily Dish: Chickpea of the Sea Salad


Well, hello, everyone. How’s your summer going so far? A lot has happened since I last wrote, but I’m not quite ready to elaborate just yet, so I’m going to just share a quick, cool recipe that’s perfect for toting along to the beach or pool!

There are so many delicious chickpea salads out there, but this one happens to be the easiest and tastes most like the tuna salad of my childhood.

Chickpea of the Sea

Chickpea of the Sea Salad

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1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked (or 1 can, rinsed & drained)
2 medium celery ribs — chopped, to taste
1/8 cup onion — chopped, to taste
1/4 cup dill pickles — chopped, to taste, or dill relish
2 tablespoons Reduced Fat Veganaise
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon kelp granules — to taste
2 cups romaine lettuce — shredded, to taste

Using food processor, pulse chickpeas to desired consistency, or mash with a fork.

Chop onions, pickles & celery, mix in which chickpeas & other ingredients down to lettuce.

Place lettuce and any other desired raw veggies on the center of your favorite bread or wrap, or inside a pita pocket. Top with a scoop of chickpea salad. Enjoy!

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Makes 4 Servings; Nutritional Info Per Serving as calculated by Mastercook: 117 Calories; 2g Fat (13.3% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 300mg Sodium.

1 Weight Watchers SmartPoint (not including bread) as calculated using the online recipe builder.

Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. At the moment I am also using Weight Watchers to help me reach goal weight.

The Daily Dish: Vegan Lasagna Rollups

Here’s a well-known fact about me: I am enamored with all things Italian.  The language, the culture, the art, the fashion, and of course, the food. It’s my favorite way to cook, and I learned to do so from my wonderful ex-family who was half Italian (and half Irish, but more about that later). My “signature dish,” the one I’m known for, the most requested for not only holidays but birthdays & other celebrations: Stuffed Shells Florentine.  Served right after antipasto and  before the salad (to help digestion, they say), with a hunk of good Italian bread to soak up the sauce….delizioso! I’ve delivered this to many a potluck & dropped at the doorstep of several new mamas, so I knew I had to make it for my daughter’s Babymoon Meal Train.

Now, since going vegan I have been experimenting with a dairy-free version of this recipe, trying many different recipes calling for various vegan cheeses, both commercially-produced and homemade, in attempt to replicate the gooey cheesy goodness of the original.  I’m sorry to say, I have not yet experienced complete success. I came close, and wrote about that on my old blog, but there’s still some work to do. In the meantime, I found Brand New Vegan’s amazing recipe for Lasagna Rollups and they are now the go-to meal for all of the above occasions, including the birth of my sweet granddaughter.


In progress…


THIS is why a meal train is so important! What new parents have time to clean up this mess?


Voila! I broke the recipe into two platters so that one can be frozen for a later meal.


I love the cute labels that Meal Train provides!

Of course I included extra sauce and the ingredients to make our favorite bread, Grandma’s Garlic Bread, recipe by The Jazzy Vegetarian.

Someday maybe I’ll perfect those Stuffed Shells, but in the meantime, everyone is quite happy with the scrumptious substitute.

What’s your favorite Italian meal?


Cook’s Note: A typical serving of this meal for my family is two rollups, one serving of sauce, and 1 hunk of Italian bread. This would “cost” you 11 SmartPoints which is a bit higher than I like but certainly worth it, especially for a special occasion!

Nutritional Information, as calculated by Mastercook:

Fat Free Marinara Sauce: Per Serving: 85 Calories; trace Fat (2.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 722mg Sodium; 2 Weight Watchers SmartPoints 

Vegan Lasagna Rollups (sans sauce): Per Serving: 389 Calories; 6g Fat (13.9% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 104mg Sodium; 4 Weight Watchers SmartPoints

Grandma’s Garlic Bread: Per Serving: 75 Calories; 8g Fat (89.9% calories from fat); trace Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 99mg Sodium; 5 Weight Watchers SmartPoints


The Daily Dish: Asian Rice Salad

It’s been so darned hot here in Florida, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen. I’m constantly looking for fast, filling food that doesn’t require a whole lotta cooking. After taking a peek in the fridge to see what I had on hand (ok, I might have done more than peek – that refrigerator sure feels good!), I then searched for recipes using leftover rice and some fresh veggies that were languishing in the produce drawer. To my delight, I discovered this recipe for Asian Rice Salad, and was inspired to create my own vegan, oil-free version.

Asian Rice Salad


Asian Rice Salad

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  • 3 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha red chili sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic — minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger root
  • 15 ounces garbanzo beans, canned, rinsed & drained
  • 11 ounces mandarin oranges in water, drained
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup edamame, shelled
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper — chopped
  • 3 scallions — sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro — chopped, optional
  • salt and pepper — to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds — for garnish
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce — for serving

In a bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients & set aside.

Toss together rice, veggies & cilantro if using.

Gently stir in dressing, serve plated on a bed of lettuce. Top with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of Sriracha for more heat.


Makes 6 Servings; Nutrition per Serving as calculated by Mastercook: 351 Calories; 4g Fat (9.7% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 365mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

8 Weight Watchers SmartPoints as calculated on the recipe builder.

NOTES : This recipe is quite versatile; you could add sliced almonds or avocado, sub mango for the oranges, peas for edamame, or even top with chow mein noodles for more crunch!


Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. At the moment I am also using Weight Watchers to help me reach goal weight.

The Daily Dish: Chili-Stuffed Squash Boats

Chili-Stuffed Squash Boats

My local produce delivery provided us with some lovely spaghetti squash this past week and I was anxious to use them.

I didn’t really feel like a traditional pasta-ish dish, though, so did some searching and came up with a unique idea that I really enjoyed!

Inspired by Making Thyme for Health, I used my own family favorite chili which I just happened to have portioned out in my freezer.

The recipe is so easy, hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Chili-Stuffed Squash Boats

  • 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cans canned diced tomatoes (fire-roasted or Ro*Tel are great!)
  • 1 packet chili seasoning mix
  • 1 onion — diced
  • 12 ounces frozen veggie crumbles (I like the Boca brand)
  • 3 spaghetti squash — cooked

Dump all chili ingredients in slow cooker, cook on low all day, adding a bit of water if mixture seems too thick.*

Feel free to add other veggies such as corn, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc. This recipe is infallible, freezes perfectly and can easily be doubled for large crowds or hungry teenagers.

While your chili is cooking, prepare the “boats.” Grab your spaghetti squash and a large, sharp knife.  I like to microwave the whole squash for a minute or so to make it softer and easier to cut, then slice in half lengthwise & scrape out the seeds and dark yellow stringy parts. Place upside-down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet or glass baking pan filled with a tiny bit of water to prevent sticking. Bake in 375°F oven for 30 minutes or so, until the flesh is soft and the “spaghetti” comes out easily with a fork. In this case, you want to leave that flesh in there, just mix it around a little bit.

Spoon your chili into the “boat,” sprinkle on your favorite fixings and enjoy!

*Alternatively, cook the chili on the stovetop for about an hour.

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Serves 6. Per Serving  as calculated by Master Cook (excluding toppings): 104 Calories; 1g Fat (4.8% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 443mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable.
4 Weight Watchers SmartPoints as calculated on WW’s Recipe Builder

Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.

The Daily Dish: Beef(less) Stew for Sunday Supper

I’m originally a Midwestern girl, born in Ohio but relocated to Florida when I was just a tot. My mother grew up in the hills of West Virginia, the daughter of a coal miner and a homemaker who struggled to clothe and feed five children on meager income, making a home in the “sticks,” as Mom called it. She called herself a hillbilly, and was proud of it, so I carry on that pride. Grandma was famous for saying, “We may be poor but we’re clean;” she kept her tiny rental house spic & span and was known for being a phenomenal cook. She was able to whip up a meal with whatever scraps of food were on hand, nobody ever went hungry at her table. In fact, my bio dad claims it was Grandma’s cooking that won him over, falling in love with her cooking before he did my gorgeous mama!

Grandma & Grandpa Smith, late 1960’s
Mom, before Me
Grandma & Me, 1967

My mother was not a particularly adventurous cook, better known for her baked goods than anything else, but we had a homecooked dinner on the table every night, even though she worked a full time job outside the home. It was the 70’s, so meat was the center piece of the meal. I know the menus well; when I turned old enough (about 12 or so) I took over the nightly cooking, giving mom a much-needed break. Baked chicken. Baked pork chops. Tuna casserole. On the weekends, there was grilled steak and the dreaded Sunday Pot Roast. Oh, how I hated that roast! I’d push the pieces around on my plate, trying to hide them under a pile of mashed potatoes, but Mom always caught me. She didn’t make me clean my plate, but I at least had to force down a couple of bites. I swear, that plate of beef is the reason I became a vegetarian! But, I digress.

Me & Mom, 1972

When the weather turned chilly (by Florida standards, this means below 75 degrees!) Mom would make a big pot of chili or beef stew and we’d “eat off” that all weekend long. Ooh, there was nothing like taking a slab of white bread and dunking it into a bowl of chili or stew! Simple comfort food, that’s a Midwestern diet.

Mom continued making her “famous” beef stew for many years; all of my girls have fond memories of sitting around Grandma’s table with a loaf of bread and a big bowl of soup. Even as vegetarians, they would pick out the pieces of beef and just eat the veggies, not willing to give up that taste and experience!

Now that mom is gone, and I’m a vegan, I have been searching for the closest facsimile to Mom’s. Dad has passed along the original “recipe,” of course, but I’ve never been able to replicate it. I pretty much gave up, thinking we’d all have to settle for a stew-less life, and then this happened..

My daughter Kristyn alerted me to this recipe, and therefore the blog where it’s posted. I must’ve been living under a rock, how is it that I’m just now discovering the Shannons? I love all things vintage and have actually modernized a few retro recipes on my other blog, but these folks took it to a whole new level, tackling the sacred Betty Crocker! A noble effort, with wonderful results!

This version is not quite the same as Mom’s; hers wasn’t as savory/spicy as the Shannon’s, but it’s close enough. I think that Mom were here she’d give it her seal of approval.

Beefless Stew

I made a couple of changes using what I had on hand; I substituted a bag of frozen mixed vegetables for the peas, and also left out the olive oil. I would definitely not prepare this without the creole seasoning as it adds a very nice punch without being too spicy. At the risk of sounding sexist, I must tell you that this is a very “man-friendly” recipe, a hearty dish that is sure to please even the biggest appetite! It’s a favorite of my omnivore hunny who swears that had I not told him, he wouldn’t know it was vegan.

Again, you can find the recipe over at the Shannon’s blog, along with some other wonderful dishes!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet 90% of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. This recipe does contain a meat substitute and since I limit my amount of processed foods we make this one of those occasional indulgences.

Have a wonderful day!

P.S. This is a re-post from my other blog, with a couple of updates/revisions.

The Daily Dish: Rainy Day Chili

2013 Asheville NC

Asheville, North Carolina ~ October 2013

It doesn’t have to be rainy to enjoy this dish, it just seems that I crave chili when it’s dreary outside, or when I’m feeling a bit under the weather and want something warm & familiar. It’s so nice to curl up on the couch with a favorite tv show, book or movie, and a big bowl of cozy comfort food! Or maybe you want to grab a cup and gobble it up while enjoying the gorgeous autumn weather.

Rainy Day Chili

I’ve been making this “recipe” for many years now, and despite it’s simplicity it always gets rave reviews.  I basically toss a couple cans of drained, rinsed beans (kidney, chili, black bean, whatever you like) and a couple cans of diced tomatoes (Ro*tel brand if you want a little extra kick) into my Crock-pot along with a chopped onion and a packet of chili seasoning. If I’m cooking for non-vegans who prefer a meatier chili, I’ll add some veggie crumbles. Turn on low to cook all day, or high for a few hours, or if you’re in a big hurry you can cook it on the stovetop for an hour or so. Like lots of veggies? Chop up some green peppers, mushrooms, etc. and toss them in. Corn? Sure, add a can or bag of frozen. Want to make your own chili seasoning? Even better! This recipe really is infallible! I usually top with a dollop of vegan sour cream and soy cheese, maybe some scallions if I have them.  Chip is a big fan of oyster crackers so he often adds those as well.

To round out the meal, I will either serve over brown rice or just with some bread or cornbread on the side, as you can see in this pic from my old blog.

Rainy Day Chili2

What about you? Do you have some favorite recipes that you turn to when you’re craving comfort food?

Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. At the moment I am also following the Maximum Weight Loss Diet by John McDougall, M.D.

The Daily Dish: Biscuits on My Mind


This morning I woke up craving biscuits, which is a problem because 1) most ready-made biscuits are not vegan and 2) I don’t know how to make them myself.  Over the years I have tried & tried, recipe after recipe, method after method, yet I have never been able to master the art.  Those innocent little balls of dough refuse to rise the way they’re supposed to, or they get brown on the bottom while the inside is still mushy.  I finally gave, threw my flour-covered hands in the air and admitted defeat! It wasn’t pretty, and I hated knowing that I was bested by the dough but I had no choice.

So, I’ve lived a biscuit-free life since going vegan.  It’s not been easy, ignoring the call of the dough boy.  Occasionally we’d drive by McDonald’s and I’d get a whiff of them baking, that heavenly smell wafting through the air..sigh…was I meant to live out the rest of my life this way?  What a cruel fate!  Wait, what is that?  Browsing through the McDougall Friends board, what is that I saw?  Fluffy Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits? Could it be? Should I try to make them and risk failure once again?  I decided to sleep on it, to see if I woke up brave enough to give it another go.  I did.

This morning, armed with a big mug of coffee and my trusty rolling pin, I got down to business.  I followed the recipe exactly, and while they were baking I decided to mix up a batch of gravy as well, thinking that even failed biscuits could be hidden in a sea of gravy.  Well, guess what?  They were wonderful!  Ok, not perfect, a little chewy and dense but that’s because I overworked the dough a tiny bit and I know that biscuits enjoy a light touch.  But seriously, they were yummy!  Ta-da! I heard trumpets sounding and my grandma in heaven clapping because I have finally learned the most basic skill of any good country cook.  It was a proud moment. The gravy was amazing as well, would definitely recommend both of these recipes!


We are off to (hopefully) view the eclipse and the big Super Moon over the ocean, seems a lovely way to end the weekend.

Have a nice evening!

The Daily Dish: Cheese


If you ask a vegan what was the hardest part of going plant based, what he/she found the most difficult to give up, 90% of them will answer the same way: Cheese.  We love it.  We crave it.  I daresay, we are addicted to it.  And there are scientific reasons for that, something called casomorphins.  Dr. Neal Barnard of PCRM explains it much better than I can in this Youtube video, take a look/listen when you have time.

There’s lots more info out there if you’re interested, but suffice it to say: we humans have a soft spot for cheese, and though we know the reasons for avoiding and would never go back to consuming it, most vegans miss it.  To fill this void, there are many veg-friendly substitutes for the stuff, but most of it is highly processed and not very good for us.  Those of us who follow a whole-foods-plant-based-no-oil diet tend to eschew it completely, having learned that it’s better to live without it. I agree, for the most part.  I’m not perfect and I’m not a purist, so there are times when I give in to the craving, when I want something ooey and gooey and warm and comforting and nothing does that better than cheese.  Many of the substitutions out there just don’t cut it for me, I don’t like the texture or the aftertaste, something is always just a little bit “off.”  However, I found one product that meets my standards, that is so close to the real deal that I have to double-check the ingredients to assure myself that it’s not dairy: Chao.  Made by the Field Roast company, these slices are the bomb!  They make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich or, my favorite, a “toasted cheese,” basically toasted Ezekiel bread with a smear of Veganaise, slice or two of Chao, tomatoes and romaine lettuce. Yum! I am really glad that the one distributor in my area prices them so high that I can’t afford to indulge very often, because otherwise I could get into a lot of trouble.


Of course, you can also make your own as Miyoko Schinner has done in her popular book, Artisan Vegan Cheese, but I have yet to try it.

So, bottom line: I avoid cheesy-type meals most of the time but when the craving hits hard and I decide to indulge, I go for it in a big way.  This past week I did so with this Chili Fiesta Mac ‘n Cheese recipe by Vegan Yack Attack.

Fiesta Mac

Cook’s Note: As usual, I eliminated the coconut oil and used vegetable broth for sauteeing. I figured there was quite enough fat in this dish, no need to add more.

Approximately 4 large Servings – Nutritional info (provided by Mastercook) per serving:   569 Calories; 21g Fat (32.4% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 83g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1069mg Sodium

The Verdict:  Follow Your Heart shreds are good on tacos, but I have never tried to melt them.  I had misgivings, but wanted to follow the recipe as written, so I did just that.  Once again, there was a strange aftertaste, and though it was okay, I wouldn’t use this product again for mac ‘n cheese.  The chili, however, was delicious! I doled out portions for my kids and advised them to use a box of Earth Balance as a base instead. As for myself, this is way too high in fat & calories, yikes!  I decided to have just the chili served over rice, with a little avocado on top, and enjoyed that much more!

Fiesta Mac2

Look at the difference in nutrition: Per Serving: 259 Calories; 2g Fat (6.6% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 51g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 316mg Sodium.  And that is why I don’t suggest eating cheese on a regular basis!  For a healthier version of Chili Mac, I recommend FatFree Vegan Kitchen’s wonderful recipe. 

Today I’ll be making a Chipotle Corn Chowder, can’t wait to try it!

Have a wonderful day!

The Daily Dish: Italian Noodle Soup

Italian Noodle Soup

As I mentioned, I did some batch cooking over the weekend and one of the dishes I prepared was this Italian Noodle Soup.  The recipe reminded me of a family favorite I made often when my children were small, Tortellini Soup.  It consisted of a bag of frozen tortellini, frozen spinach, broth and some spices.  It was delicious and so easy, I could throw it together with a baby balanced on one hip and a toddler at my feet!  Of course, this was before we went vegan and since I’ve yet to discover a good veg-friendly tortellini, I had to find a substitute.

This recipe from Your Cup of Cake is just as easy to prepare and if topped with some dairy-free Parmesan, I get the same cheesy flavor as the original we knew and loved!  It was so good that I packed up the leftovers and brought them to my daughter’s house where we feasted once again!

09.22 Lunch

Along with a (vegan) Antipasto, kale salad and garlic bread, this was a wonderful meal, made even better by the company I got to share it with.

Cook’s Note: I used about 2 cups more vegetable broth than suggested as the finished product was a little too thick for my taste. I threw in a chopped zucchini that I had on hand for more veggie goodness! I sprinkled dairy-free Parmesan on top of each bowl before serving. This made a generous amount of soup, at least 8 servings, especially if you accompany it with salad and bread as we did. I’d probably use a different kind of pasta next time as the long noodles made it a bit sloppy (but fun!) to eat.

Approximately 8 Servings – Nutritional info (provided by Mastercook) per serving:  224 Calories; 1g Fat (5.3% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1071mg Sodium.

The Verdict: Delicious! So simple to make and the mild flavors make it perfect for children.

Today I’ll say a reluctant goodbye to my girls as we load up the car and head back home.  I’ll be leaving containers of food in my wake, though, some of Mom’s cooking to tide them over til the next visit!

Have a wonderful day!

The Daily Dish: Autumn

Happy Autumn to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere!  Some of you are already experiencing the gorgeous Fall weather and beautiful turning of the leaves, maybe there’s a little chill in the air?  Here in Florida the changes are much more subtle and they don’t happen for a few more weeks.  That doesn’t stop us from indulging in everything the season has to offer, though!  All sorts of squash start filling the shelves and we jump on the pumpkin-spice craze despite the 80+ degree weather outside.

Autumn Trader Joe's

There was an ever-so-slight temperature change the other day, just a little breeze that gave us hope for cooler days ahead.  I took advantage of it and cooked up this Golden Glow-Stuffed Squash from Robin Robertson’s Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  I used a Carnival Squash, stuffed with a combination of rice, carrots, onions & peppers and a medley of spices.  (The recipe isn’t published online but this is such a wonderful cookbook, you’ll want to buy it for yourself!)


Golden-Glow Stuffed Squash

Cook’s Note: The only change I made was subbing vegetable broth for the olive oil.

Nutritional info (provided by Mastercook) per serving:  356 Calories; 3g Fat (6.3% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 76g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 57mg Sodium.

The Verdict: Delicious!  I loved how easy this recipe was, hardest part was actually cutting the squash in half. (Tip: microwave to soften first.)  Slow cooker recipes are my favorite, I use mine all year around.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did.

Well, I’m off to Trader Joe’s with my girls, hoping they have as big a display of Autumn loveliness as they did last year.

Have a wonderful day!