Creamy Kinda Healthy Spinach Dip

February 2, 2013

Creamy Healthy Vegan Spinach Dip

I’ve been pinning some pretty decadent/wicked recipes on Pinterest lately. That’s what we all do, right? It’s no fun to pin a plate of carrot sticks. Boring.

This pin of Game-Day Garlic Knots Monkey Bread is one of the wicked ones. I’m really on a mission to eat clean, so I can’t do bread or even any wheat so Game-day Garlic Knots Monkey Bread is out. Totally out of the question. Boo.

Even while eating WELL, I think it’s still possible to eat FUN. If I go to a Super Bowl party tomorrow, I want to be able to enjoy something warm and gooey and spicy and delicious while I’m watching commercials and Beyonce’s half-time show.

Just because I’m being good right now and trying to make amends for my lack of discipline around the holidays doesn’t mean I have to be deprived. This recipe for Creamy Spinach Dip does the trick for me. Whole Foods was sampling it the other day so I grabbed the recipe and was surprised at how good it was! And as a bonus, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and high fiber!

Whole Foods‘ recipe suggested serving it with celery, carrots and red bell pepper. You can do that if you want, but that’s not my thing. I like it warm and stuffed into little bite-sized tomatoes or served alongside gluten-free crackers. I love Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers and everything from Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Creamy Healthy Vegan Spinach Dip Tomatoes

Creamy Kinda Healthy Vegan Spinach Dip

(based on Whole Foods’ recipe but jazzed up)

  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, chopped (seeds removed, if desired)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 cups cooked cannellini beans (or 2 15-ounce cans), rinsed
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, prepared and squeezed to remove excess liquid
  • 1/2 cup vegan cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Frank’s Red Hot Sauce to taste

Cook peppers, onion and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add almond milk and simmer, scraping up any browned bits, for 2 minutes more. Carefully transfer contents of skillet to a food processor along with lemon juice, yeast, beans and avocado and purée until smooth. Stir in spinach, and vegan cheese if using. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Frank’s. Serve warm or at room temperature. To heat dip, keep in a crockpot on low heat, or spread in a baking dish and bake in a 350°F oven until hot throughout, 25 to 30 minutes. Makes enough for a crowd.

 Creamy Healthy Vegan Spinach Dip

By the way, are you following us on Pinterest? We’re BigSisTexas and LilSisCA. Come check us out!

~BigSis

Graham Cracker Pralines (Accidentally Vegan)

November 25, 2012

Graham Cracker Pralines Vegan

It’s bake sale time, which means recipe testing time, and that means this update will be short and sweet! I’m up to my eyeballs in recipes, treat bags, press releases, and save the date postcards!

So let’s get to it. One of my co-workers brought these Graham Cracker Pralines to the office, and I thought they were super delicious. Nabisco Original Graham Crackers are accidentally vegan, so I only had to swap an Earth Balance stick for the butter to veganize this simple little recipe.

There are lots of recipes for this treat online; I started with Betty Crocker’s Quick Praline Bars recipe. Basically, you lay graham crackers out on a cookie sheet (I lined it with non-stick foil). You combine brown sugar with the Earth Balance, and let it boil for one minute. Then add vanilla, pour the mixture over the crackers, sprinkle pecans over it all, and bake it for 8 to 10 minutes til bubbly. Pretty easy, right?

Some of the reviewers online had various problems with this recipe, but I had none of them. Whew! They firmed up nicely, they didn’t stick, they didn’t fall apart, and they taste pretty darn good!

I think these are going to make the cut for this year’s bake sale, which is scheduled for Monday, December 17th and benefits In-Sync Exotics. BTW, we’re looking for individuals and companies to match what we raise, so let us know if you can help with that endeavor!

I’m off to try a new Almond Biscotti. I’ll let you know if it gets to come to the party or not!

Note added later:  Nope, the Almond Biscotti has to sit out this party. That’s ok though, we have plenty of winners to bring!

~BigSis

Hatch Chile Tofu Scramble with Spinach and Avocado

September 15, 2012

Tofu Scramble Top Close

If you’ve been vegetarian for a while, you’re probably like me. You’ve eaten a lot of tofu scrambles; some good and some less than great. Ok, some are downright horrible.

The worst ones are boring, bland, mushy, and total dullsville. Since tofu has essentially no flavor of it’s own – that’s why we can easily transform it into Kung Pao or chocolate cream pie with a flick of the wrist – you have to ADD goodies to it to get awesomeness.

In my opinion, the best tofu scrambles are spicy and flavorful with a little veg thrown in and a nice firm texture with some crispy bits. That’s what I was going for with this recipe, and I think I made myself pretty happy.

I should probably call this a tofu saute rather than a scramble since I kept the cubes pretty chunky and didn’t break them up much. I’m mostly calling this delicious though. It’s not only the best tofu scramble/saute I’ve ever made, it’s the best one I’ve eaten. Here’s how you make it.

Hatch Chile Tofu Scramble with Spinach and Avocado

1/2 cup mild hatch chiles, roasted, cleaned, and chopped
3 large cloves garlic, pressed
1 package firm tofu, diced chunky
3 Tblsp water
1 tsp Braggs Liquid Aminos
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp Penzeys Forward Seasoning
1 Tblsp Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup baby spinach, very firmly packed and roughly chopped
2 Tblsp chives
1 large avocado, diced
Olive oil as needed for sauteing

Tofu Scramble Hatch Chiles

In a large non-stick skillet, saute the chiles and garlic in 2 tblsp of olive oil for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper while they’re softening. Remove from the skillet and set aside while you prepare the tofu.

Add another bit of olive oil to the same pan, and add the chunky cubes of tofu. Arrange them in one layer so that all of the cubes are in contact with the pan. Toss them around every few minutes to get a golden color on all sides. This may take 10 to 15 minutes.

Tofu Scramble Uncooked

While the tofu is browning, mix your wet sauce ingredients together in a small bowl: the water, Braggs, onion powder, Forward Seasoning and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.

Tofu Scramble Browned

Once the tofu is evenly browned to your liking, add the chiles and garlic back in, sprinkle in the sauce, and stir to distribute evenly. Add in the nutritional yeast and the spinach, and mix together.

Tofu Scramble Spinach

Cook over medium low heat until the spinach is wilted and the sauce is absorbed into the tofu. The sauce, yeast and chiles meld together to make the most incredible coating that I wish I had more of.

Tofu Scramble Done Pan

Add the chives and serve immediately with the diced avocado and a tiny touch of salt on top. Serves 3 or 4.

Tofu Scramble Close

Notes: 

  • Hatch chiles are available for a short period of time at the end of the summer, so if you don’t have a stash in your freezer, don’t despair. The Hatch flavor is amazing, but there are acceptable substitutes. I would probably add in a jar of diced green chiles from the mexican aisle in the grocery store, along with a finely diced jalapeno or two. Just add any chile you like. Chipotles would be good too, and you can find them on the same aisle packed in a jar with adobo sauce. Just be careful and start with a tiny amount, since these dudes can be super hot.
  • I used Trader Joe’s super firm tofu, and froze it and defrosted it to get a firmer texture. If you like more of a scramble, just skip the freezing/defrosting step and use a firm tofu. Break it up a little bit as it’s cooking.
  • I like the flavor of Braggs, but you can easily substitute tamari, soy sauce or plain ol’ sea salt.
  • Add in any other veggies that you like. I think that onion, asparagus, broccoli, kale and mushrooms are all super happy in a tofu scramble.
  • Penzeys Forward Seasoning is amazing (and salt-free), but don’t fret if you don’t have it. It’s a spicy little blend of black pepper, onion, paprika, garlic, turmeric, thyme, basil and rosemary. Just substitute what you like. Pepper, paprika, turmeric and thyme would be a good start. Cumin is also found in lots of tofu scrambles; I’m just not a huge fan, but you use what you like. It’s your dish! Make it delicious and make it your own!

Tofu Scramble Top Plate

 

Note from LilSis:

I think this looks scrumptious and I would definitely make it for myself, but unfortunately, if I tried to serve this to my meat and potato lovin’ guys as a meal; they would probably laugh, thinking it was a practical joke!

~BigSis

The Best Vegan Trader Joe’s Products

August 11, 2012

Trader Joe'sThere’s a lot to love about Trader Joe’s; not the least of which is that they carry plenty of vegan products and they’re easily identified with a “V” on the front of the package.

We’ve only had Trader Joe’s stores here in Texas for two months now, and I’ve already made three 90-mile round trips to stock up on products that I can’t get anywhere else. These are some of my favorite vegan Trader Joe’s products so far.

I’m planning to keep updating this list, and to make it easily accessible from our home page. If you have any favorite items I should check out, let me know!

 

Snacks

  • Pretzel Slims: Everything
  • Reduced Guilt Pita Chips with Sea Salt
  • Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snack

Pantry Staples

  • Brown Rice Medley
  • Harvest Grains
  • Diced & Fire Roasted Organic Tomatoes with Organic Green Chiles
  • Artichoke Antipasto
  • 100% Spanish Organic Extra Virgin Garlic Flavored Olive Oil
  • Almond Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds
  • Cranberry Apple Butter
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Nuts

  • Sliced Roasted Unsalted Almonds
  • Whole Roasted Unsalted Almonds
Bakery
  • Kalamata Olive Bread

Sweets

  • Dark Chocolate Nutty Bits

Refrigerated Items

  • Organic Tofu Veggie Burgers
  • This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese
  • Chunky Olive Hummus
  • Cut and Cleaned Bag of Kale
  • Tangerine Juice
  • Reduced Fat Mayonnaise

Frozen

  • Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels
  • Falafel
  • Dorot Crushed Garlic

 

For a complete list of Trader Joe’s vegan products,
please see the guide on their web site.

~BigSis

The Best Vegan Body Lotion: ShiKai Borage Therapy Dry Skin Lotion

July 12, 2012

Actually, that’s not exactly true. At least it isn’t the whole story. ShiKai Borage Therapy Dry Skin Lotion isn’t just the best vegan body lotion I’ve ever used. It’s the best body lotion I’ve ever used, period. Vegan or non-vegan, it’s the best by a mile.

Shikai Borage Therapy LotionWhat’s so great about it? It works!

The bottle claims that instead of working on the skin’s surface, Borage Therapy works at the cellular level, fighting the cause of dry skin and healing it.

It also claims to relieve dry itchy skin quickly, and says that the skin will retain moisture to become healthier and more supple.

I don’t claim to know what’s happening to my skin at the cellular level, but here’s what I do know for sure:

  • My skin is softer and smoother than I’ve observed with any other body lotion.
  • The softness stays. Even though there is no stickiness or greasiness, this lotion keeps working. When I shower the next day, I can feel a soothing layer of healing lotion rinsing from my skin. I didn’t even know it was still there, but it was still doing it’s thing.
  • When I apply ShiKai Borage Therapy, it sinks in immediately. It doesn’t go white on my skin, and it doesn’t take a while to absorb into the skin. Who has time in the morning to wait on your body lotion to absorb before you can get dressed for work? Not me.
  • I use the lightly-fragranced variety, and I love the scent. It’s a very soft, almost citrusy scent. There is also an unscented formula if that’s your preference.
  • There are no animal ingredients and no animal testing is used. Sweet!

I found ShiKai Borage Therapy at my favorite hippie health food store, but you can also find it at Whole Foods, through ShiKai’s web site, or at Amazon.com at a great price. I highly recommend it if you want to say goodbye to dry skin!

~BigSis

Sunday Supper: Pumpkin Bisque

June 3, 2012

Pumpkin Bisque

I know pumpkin is more of a fall flavor, but after I made Memorial Day’s U.S. Navy Bean Burgers based on Celine Steen’s White Bean Cutlets, I wandered through her cookbook (The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions) some more and found her Pumpkin Bisque.

It sounded so simple to put together and I had almost all of the ingredients, so away I went. You literally combine the ingredients in a pot, bring them to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Done.

The base for the soup is a can of pumpkin puree with some non-dairy milk (I use almond milk) and vegetable broth. Then you add flavors that are anything but wimpy: peanut butter, onion, garlic, garam masala, cayenne and vegan worcestershire sauce.

I followed the recipe exactly except for omitting the marmite (who has that on-hand in the U.S.?) and the maple syrup since the bisque was already plenty sweet for me.

I love how quick and inexpensive this soup was, but the flavor profile is a bit out of my comfort zone. I measured the spices precisely, but this soup was HOT! That’s coming from a spicy Texas girl who isn’t afraid of heat. Maybe my Penzeys Garam Masala was dramatically more powerful than most?

Besides the heat, which I cooled with a dollop of Sunflower Seed Sour Cream, it was a little weird to me that the soup was also pretty sweet. I can appreciate the balance of flavors, but I don’t think it’s really my thing.

But, you never know what you like until you try it, and it’s always a good thing to branch out of the ordinary a little bit!

~BigSis

Vegan Ranch Burgers

May 28, 2012

Yesterday’s burger – the U.S. Navy Bean Burger – got two thumbs up! Next on the menu…Vegan Ranch Burgers.

LilSis’ Spinach Turkey Burgers looked really tasty to me, and I thought they’d be pretty easy to veganize. I found this recipe for Vegan Ranch Burgers on VegNews and thought it would be the perfect place to start.

The base for the burgers is TVP (textured vegetable protein) and wheat gluten with a little panko. Flavors come from onion, mushrooms, garlic, dill, chipotle, parsley, nutritional yeast, tomato sauce and tamari.

I followed the recipe pretty exactly except for reducing the tamari by 75%, and adding a couple of big handfuls of fresh spinach. Sounds good, right?

Somehow I managed to mess this up. :(  Badly.

I started out ok. I got my mise en place done and started the mushrooms, garlic and onion sauteing. The TVP was nuked in veggie broth for a few minutes, and was standing by. Then everything went into the blender to whiz around. Sweet, this was going well! I’m kind of proud at how efficiently I’m cooking. Maybe I should do a cooking video?

Why isn’t this working? Maybe I need a little water; I did leave out 3 tablespoons of the tamari since it makes my eyes uber puffy. I add a couple tablespoons of water, and then a couple more, and a couple more, but the blender still won’t budge. Crap! What’s wrong?

Oh, oops. The directions say to use a food processor. Not a blender.

I dump everything into the food processor, and put the blender in the sink to soak. Now the concoction seems too wet. Maybe I added too much water? :(

Did I also process too long? The mix seems really really gluten-ish. Not in a good way.

I scrape everything out of the food processor, and put the processor in the sink to soak. Maybe the mix will come together if I just chill it for a while. That’s the ticket. I’m sure that’ll work. It works for cookie dough!

Half an hour later, I take the burger stuff out of the fridge and portion into 6 patties. I’m still hopeful that this is going to turn out well. I’m so confident that I even pull out my scale and weigh the burger balls so they’re all equal in size (5.25 ounces, if you care).

I don’t have a grill pan, so I oil up a couple of Green Pans, and plop the perfectly-shaped and evenly-weighed patties in. I set the timer for 10 minutes per side, as per the recipe.

So now the patties are sticking? I guess I needed more oil. I used my Green Pans though. For cryin out loud, stuff ain’t supposed to stick in a Green Pan!

I add a bit more oil and try to swish it under the sticking patties. The timer goes off so I flip the patties over, and set it for another 10 minutes on side #2.

I’m noticing that these guys are getting pretty dark. Too dark. They’re still way mushy though. I’m sure they aren’t done. I keep cooking. And cooking. Now they’re really getting dark. And they’re still wiggly.

Now I give up. I put/slam a couple of patties on a paper plate and nuke the daylights outta them. You just try being mushy now, you stubborn veggie patty nemesis of mine!

Finally! The patties seem firm. Only problem is, now they look like beef. And feel like beef. And they look nothing like the pretty photo on VegNews.

Vegan Ranch Burger Pile

 

I try to make the patties look pretty so you don’t see my disaster…

Vegan Ranch Burger

…but all I’ve really done is cover up the patty with avocado and tomato. The ugly is still lurking there in-between the avocado and the collards.

The bright point is that the flavors were pretty good. It didn’t taste “ranchy” to me, but it was tasty. Not hot and not too spicy; just a nice balance of flavors.

The main issue I had was the texture. First it was mushy, then it was too beefy. I know I took a bunch of wrong turns with this burger, so I can’t fault the recipe (I love you, VegNews). I’m finding though that my taste tends away from beefy texture that is too realistically meat-like. I probably am better off with burgers that don’t contain TVP or wheat gluten.

Vegan Ranch Burger Close

The other issue is that I dirtied up a ton of dishes, wasted some good ingredients, and took a big chunk of time out of my day that I could have spent on Pinterest! :)

And the worst part? It was all my bad. I’m sure this recipe works beautifully when the cook doesn’t screw it up!

The bottom line? I’m not gonna lie…I’m a better baker and LilSis is a better cook! I bet she could take this recipe and throw these dudes on her magic grill and they’d be freakin awesome! I’m gonna go make brownies now…this mess was stressful.

~BigSis

U.S. Navy Bean Burgers

May 27, 2012

Before I went vegan a couple of years ago, I had been vegetarian for over 16 years and had consumed more than my share of Morningstar Farms frozen meat substitutes. I don’t really do that any more since I try to eat as few processed foods as possible and less soy, and most of the frozen veggie burgers, patties, and sausages aren’t vegan anyway. I’m not really a fan of most of the ones that are vegan, so it works out.

I do get plenty of protein, thank you for wondering. :-) One of the ways I do that is through beans, so I was intrigued by this recipe for a burger made with white beans. It’s from one of my cookbooks called The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen. It’s a fabulous little cookbook that I’ve glanced through several times, but this is the first time I’ve made anything from it.

Celine calls this recipe White Bean Cutlets, and says you can use any white bean. In honor of Memorial Day, I made this with navy beans, and am proclaiming it the U.S. Navy Bean Burger!

This is my own little tribute to my nephew and niece-in-law who are serving in our Navy right now. At this minute, they are separated from each other and from their little baby boy, so a big thank you and God bless you goes out to them.

Now for the burgers…

Navy Bean Burger

U.S. Navy Bean Burgers (vegan, soy-free, corn-free)

1 15 oz can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 tblsp minced garlic
1 tblsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp Beau Monde
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Oil for sauteeing

In a large mixing bowl, combine the beans, seasonings and olive oil. Mash all together with a fork until few whole beans are seen. Add in the panko and mix together well. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes.

Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, and shape into burgers. Saute in a small amount of oil over medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes per side, until golden and crispy on the outside.

 Navy Bean Burger Closer

I loved these burgers! You can tell how quickly the recipe comes together. In literally 30 minutes (including sitting time) you can have dinner on the table. You’ve also spent maybe $2 on entrees for 4 people. You can’t even do that at Taco Bell!

My cooking style is usually pretty spicy with big flavors, so this mild flavored burger was a departure for me, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The recipe lends itself to a wide variety of variations. I think you could add some cooked chopped mushrooms to the mixture, along with any spice combination you like. I followed Celine’s recipe pretty closely this first time, just subbing Beau Monde for celery salt, and omitting 1/4 cup of water I didn’t need.

So how do you serve these? I’m not big on bread these days (these already have bread crumbs in them too), so I’m into making collards wraps with anything I’d put in a sammie or on a bun. The bean burgers are delicate in flavor, almost like a fish would be, so I added some Veganaise tartar sauce to my wrap, along with avocado and tomato. With a sprinkle of salt and a dash of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, this is a delicious, quick, inexpensive, and healthy lunch for 4.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another Memorial Day vegan burger that’s the polar opposite of this one. Did I like it as much? Hmmm…we’ll see!

~BigSis

Mexican Wedding Cookies: Chocolate and Vegan!

May 4, 2012

Mexican Wedding Cookie Close

Do you remember Mexican Wedding Cookies? When we were kids we also used to call them Snowballs or Almond Crescents. They were essentially the same recipe: flour, butter, powdered sugar and chopped pecans. We rolled them into small balls or crescent shapes, baked them, and then rolled them around in more powdered sugar.

Mexican Wedding Cookie 3

I’ve always loved these cookies. They’re tender, crumbly, gently nutty, and powdery sugary, but just barely sweet and perfectly bite-size!

When I was thinking about baking something sweet for Cinco de Mayo, I thought of Mexican Wedding Cookies. With a twist. How about a touch of chocolate? And cinnamon. And almonds. And vegan, of course. Done.

Mexican Wedding Cookie Rack

Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies (Vegan)

adapted from Williams-Sonoma

2 sticks Earth Balance, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (divided usage)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups less 1 tblsp all-purpose flour
2 tblsp cocoa (divided usage)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup ground blanched almonds

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the Earth Balance sticks until fluffy. Add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, add the vanilla and salt, and beat until blended.

Sift together the flour, 1 tablespoon of the cocoa and the cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the Earth Balance and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Stir in the almonds. Cover and refrigerate until the dough is chilled but not hard and is no longer sticky to the touch, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sift the remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon cocoa into a bowl. Add a dash of cinnamon if you wish.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Bake until the cookies are just golden on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies one at a time and roll them in the confectioners’ sugar/cocoa mixture. Let the cookies cool completely on wire racks. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Mexican Wedding Cookie Half

I loved the delicate texture the ground almonds added…

Mexican Wedding Cookie Closer

 and the slight touch of cinnamony chocolate flavor…

Mexican Wedding Cookies Rack2

I just love these cookies!

Happy Cinco de Mayo and happy baking!

~BigSis

Sunday Supper: Hearty Dal Soup

February 19, 2012

Vegan Hearty Dal Soup

I’d never even tasted kale until a couple of years ago, and when I finally did try it, I was convinced that avoiding it all those years had been a wise plan.

My first experience was a raw kale salad from a local natural food store’s prepared food bar. It was bitter with very little flavor otherwise, but the worst part was the texture…kind of like shredded up brillo pad. It was nearly impossible to chew, and I certainly didn’t want to swallow it.

I decided I didn’t like kale. No worries; there are plenty of other nutritious things for a vegan girl to eat, right?

Fast forward to the first time I ever tried kale chips. What? They’re delicious? How can that be? I don’t like kale. Aha, that’s where I was wrong.

Turns out I love kale, in fact, I can’t get enough of it, and I seldom eat it in baked chip form. Right now I’m going through two bunches a week…red kale, curly kale, lacinato kale. Got kale? I’ll eat it.

Since I finished the Clean Program 21-Day Cleanse about a month ago, I’ve stuck with the program pretty closely. Ok, ok, I did have that one major fall off the wagon with the vegan queso and blue corn chips episode a couple of weeks ago. But other than that…I’m eating pretty clean. It’s what my body demands now. And I’m happy to comply.

I have two or three go-to kale recipes in regular rotation, and after today I have a new one to add. This Sunday Supper recipe for Hearty Dal Soup is from Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and was contributed by Mary McDougall of the McDougall program fame.

Please do yourself a favor and go to their web site and check out the McDougall recipes. I just found the Hearty Dal Soup recipe there, and can’t believe I’ve never known about this treasure trove of wonderful sounding and easy recipes before.

Vegan Hearty Dal Soup Close

Besides being easy, this recipe is endlessly customizable to what you have on hand. Since I have this little love affair with kale going on right now, I used a whole bunch of curly kale in place of the 2 cups of chard (I needed a little extra water because of that). I was out of cumin, so I substituted a bit of Penzeys Southwest Seasoning which contains some cumin.

I – of course – used 4 or 5 cloves of garlic instead of 2, and added kidney beans since all of my garbanzos made their way into hummus last week. I left out the potatoes altogether since my body screams out “CANDY!” in glee when it sees a potato coming my way, and you know that’s going to mean excess poundage on my derriere. I was out of onion, so I added chopped chives at the end.

See what I mean? Use what you have. One last note. The instructions say to cook for 50 minutes or until the lentils are soft. When I checked on mine about halfway through, they were already falling apart. That actually turned out to be a good thing though, since most of the lentils turned into a wonderful creamy sauce for the kale, tomatoes and kidney beans to swim around in.

I highly recommend this recipe, for Sunday Supper or any time. The flavor was out of this world! I sprinkled on some Frank’s Red Hot and a bit of Daiya PepperJack, and it was perfection. Just what I needed to wrap up a nice weekend and prepare for another week. And I have lunch for a few days too!

Have a wonderful week everyone!

~BigSis