Spaghetti Squash

Since the coronavirus appeared in our area in mid-March, my family has mostly stayed in “quarantine”. Before then, I usually went to the grocery store with my 3-year-old a few times per week. Now I am the only one going into the store, and I am only going every 12-14 days. In the beginning, I was mostly buying pasta and rice and canned and frozen fruits and veggies since they were the easiest to pick out and would last the longest. I am now buying fresh produce every time I shop, so we are able to have more healthy meals in the first week after a shopping trip. After having so much pasta, we were very happy to trade it out for a fresh spaghetti squash. One medium squash is enough for two people to each have a generous serving but it is good to cook two at a time so you can have leftovers for lunch or a second dinner. This dish is very versatile. It is great with marinara sauce and tastes very much like spaghetti. You can use olive oil and garlic with some other veggies, and possibly vegan Parmesan. It’s great as a southwestern dish also.

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Here is the recipe:

Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:

  • Spaghetti squash
  • Olive oil or water
  • Marinara sauce or toppings of choice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Use a large knife to remove the stem and the bottom of the squash. This will allow the squash to stand while you cut it in half.
  3. Cut the squash in half.
  4. Use a spoon to scoop the seeds out.
  5. Coat the flesh with olive oil and place the squash with the cut side down in a baking dish. You can also cover the bottom of the dish with water and place the squash with the cut side in the water if you want to avoid oil.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until tender. A fork can easily pierce the skin when it is done.
  7. Remove from oven. When the squash cools, use a fork to remove the squash from the skin. You can also fluff the squash and use the skin as a bowl.

Veggie Stir-Fry

I read last year that Panda Express had changed its menu to feature several plant-based options at all of its locations. My husband had been talking about trying it since we recently got a new Panda Express in our town, and I was excited to try the new options they had. He went to get us takeout for dinner, and the location in our small, rural town did not have any options for me except spring rolls. After that incident, I was craving veggies with soy sauce, so I went to Publix later in the week and got all of the ingredients for this dish. We served the veggies with jasmine rice, but cauliflower rice would be nice too.

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Here is the recipe:

Veggie Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil (I used grapeseed oil) or water
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 12 oz bag frozen sliced mushrooms
  • 1 12 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables (I used green beans, lima beans, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini)
  • 1 can bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can baby corn, rinsed, drained, and chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (I used low sodium)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil or water on medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and saute until it begins to brown.
  3. Next, add mushrooms and saute until they begin to soften.
  4. Pour in the bag of mixed vegetables. Stir occasionally until they begin to soften.
  5. Add bean sprouts, baby corn, and soy sauce. Stir well, turn heat to medium, and cover.
  6. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Serve over rice of choice.

I added sweet chili sauce to my stir fry. We also had vegan spring rolls on the side.

Easy Vegan Lentil Soup

If you’re looking for a quick dinner or lunch that requires few ingredients, this soup is perfect. I had most of the ingredients already in my pantry and refrigerator. I added carrots to get an extra serving of veggies.

Here is the recipe:

Easy Vegan Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil or water
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped, or 1 bag of frozen chopped carrots
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Coriander
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 4 cups veggie broth

Directions:

  1. Add the oil or water to a pot and heat to medium-high heat.
  1. Add the carrots and stir well. Allow them to cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring frequently.
  1. Add the salt, pepper, and spices and stir well.
  1. Mix the lentils into the pot and then add the broth.
  1. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn heat to low.
  1. Simmer until lentils and carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

Spicy Cauliflower Steaks with Chickpeas

I had been wanting to try cauliflower steaks for months, and I finally got around to making them. I wanted to add flavor without adding too many calories, so I decided to add spices to the olive oil that I used to coat the cauliflower. The chickpeas added protein and made it a filling meal. We had whole grain toast with it also.

Here is the recipe:

Spicy Cauliflower Steaks with Chickpeas

Ingredients:

For the cauliflower steaks:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (I used Harissa olive oil for extra spice)
  • 2 tsp water
  • Chili powder
  • Coriander
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika

For the chickpeas:

  • 2 cans (15oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil (I used half Harissa and half extra virgin)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Coriander
  • Paprika

Directions:

For the cauliflower steaks:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash the cauliflower and slice it into steaks, about an inch thick.
  3. Use a small bowl to mix the olive oil, water, and spices.
  4. Brush both sides of each steak with the mixture.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

For the chickpeas:

  1. Heat the oil at medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and sauté until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and spices, and sauté until the garlic browns.
  4. Add the chickpeas, stir well. Then add the broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Zucchini Chips

I’ve made baked carrot chips many times and we always love them, so I’ve been planning to make chips out of other veggies for a while. I finally tried zucchini last night. I will definitely make these again but with a few adjustments. I could have made the slices thinner, which would have made them crispier. I also should have dried the slices more before I added the olive oil. I will try using a lower oven temperature and a longer baking time also, and I will update this post if the results are better. They were not as crunchy as I would have liked, but the flavor was very good.

Here is the recipe:

Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium zucchini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice zucchini as thinly as possible.
  3. Pat the slices dry.
  4. Place in large bowl and add olive oil and seasoning. Coat evenly.
  5. Arrange slices in single layer on large baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on thickness of slices. Check frequently to prevent burning.

Spanish Cauliflower Rice

Mexican-style meals are a favorite in our house, as you have probably discovered by now. We bought frozen cauliflower rice from Sam’s Club and we had one bag left. My husband and I both had hard runs planned for yesterday so we wanted a meal that would be filling but also nutritious and not too heavy on calories. A cold front came through yesterday so the spice in this meal was just enough to warm us up.

 

Here is the recipe:

Spanish Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen cauliflower rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 each red, yellow, and green bell pepper, sliced
  • 6 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tsp fajita seasoning

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.
  2. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown.
  3. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the peppers.
  4. When peppers begin to soften, add the mushrooms to the skillet. Saute until they begin to soften.
  5. Pour in the tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the black beans. Cook 3-5 minutes.
  7. Add the spices and adjust as needed. Continue to cook on low heat until most of the liquid has cooked off.
  8. You can add the frozen cauliflower rice and cook until it is heated or prepare the cauliflower separately and top it with the veggies. We prepared them separately. Homemade cauliflower rice would taste even better but the frozen option is perfect for a busy weeknight.

Curried Veggie Pastries

We have had a lot of “cold” weather in the South lately, so my husband has been craving soup often. I wanted to find a filling and comforting but nutritious side dish to go with all of our soup, and these veggie pastries are perfect for this role. You can add any type of veggies but we used peas, mushrooms, and squash.

Veggie Pastries

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of puff pastry sheets, broken into 6 rectangles
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Mixed vegetables (we used mushrooms, peas, and butternut squash)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425. Thaw puff pastry at room temperature for 20-40 minutes.

2. Sauté vegetables in olive oil. Stir in all of the spices.

3. Arrange the rectangles of pastry on a sheet of parchment paper.

4. When vegetables are cooked, place veggies on half of each pastry rectangle. Keep the edge free for folding the pastry.

5. Sprinkle water around the edge and fold the empty half of the pastry onto the side with veggies. Press edges together and press with a fork to make sure it is sealed. Repeat with all rectangles.

6. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet, arrange pastries on the sheet.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Tortilla Casserole

This recipe is very similar to the enchilada lasagna recipe, but I made some changes to decrease my family’s exposure to BPA from canned food. I used dried pinto beans which I cooked ahead of time in the Instant Pot instead of using canned black beans and refried beans. I did use a can of enchilada sauce and a can of Rotel tomatoes though. With this recipe I made one 9×9 pan of casserole and I had another pan of leftover pinto beans and vegetables that I will use later in the week to make burritos or enchilada rice.

Here is the recipe:

Tortilla Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bag of dried pinto beans, cooked and drained
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • Fajita seasoning or spices of choice
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes
  • 1 can enchilada sauce (I used green sauce)
  • 12 corn tortillas

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Add the olive oil to a large skillet on medium to high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cook until they soften. Add the garlic and stir for a minute.
  4. Add the peppers and cook until they soften.
  5. Add the bag of corn and stir until it is heated, approximately 5 minutes. Add seasoning or spices, cooked pinto beans, and the can of Rotel. Stir for 2 more minutes.
  6. Coat the 9×9 pan with cooking spray or olive oil. Cover the bottom of the pan with corn tortillas.
  7. Place a layer of the veggie mixture over the tortillas (use a slotted spoon to drain the extra liquid) and pour enchilada sauce over it.
  8. Cover with more tortillas, then veggies and enchilada sauce.
  9. Place another layer of tortillas and pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes.

Cranberry Sauce

One of my favorite dishes at Thanksgiving is the cranberry sauce! I always loved the canned version but one year I decided to try making it myself and I’ve used this recipe every year since then.

Here is the recipe:

Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz. cranberries, rinsed
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1.5-2 cups sugar

Directions:

  1. In medium saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice on medium heat.
  2. Add the cranberries and cook on medium heat, until cranberries begin to pop.
  3. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Refrigerate. It will thicken as it cools.

Note: If you are cooking for a smaller group, 12 ounces of cranberries and 1 cup each of sugar and orange juice should make the perfect amount.

Zucchini Boats

My family has been eating a lot of bread lately, as a side with almost every meal. We have also had too many interruptions to our running routine, between weather and a bad cold that took the whole family out for days. We decided to look for some different healthy options for side dishes to help us get back in shape before the holidays. We had these zucchini boats with split pea soup and fruit. My husband and I both loved these, and I am not usually a fan of zucchini! Bread crumbs are not the same as bread, right?

Here is the recipe:

Zucchini Boats

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium zucchini
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup vegan bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash the zucchini, remove the stem, and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
  3. Brush with olive oil and place zucchini cut side down on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Bake 10 minutes.
  5. While zucchini is baking, mix the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, and nutritional yeast in a small bowl.
  6. Remove zucchini from the oven and turn over. Fill each with the bread crumb mixture, about one heaping tablespoon per zucchini half.
  7. Return to oven for 8-10 minutes, until bread crumbs are brown and crisp.
  8. Serve right away or allow them to cool to room temperature.