Delicious & healthy vegetarian/vegan dishes with an international flair!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vegan Banana Nut Muffins

I got a real hankerin for some warm & sweet comfort food during these cool December days. As luck would have it, I came across this recipe yesterday during one of my frequent recipe browsing jaunts: Vegan Banana Muffins

It seemed fairly simple, and I had the ingredients on hand. Of course, I tweaked the recipe :P

Vegan Banana Nut Muffins

4 ripe bananas

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. coconut oil

1 t. vanilla extract

1 t. cinnamon

3/4 t. cardamom powder

1/8 t. clove powder

3/4 t. salt

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1/2 c. chopped nuts

1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease or place liners in tin for 12 muffins.

Mash bananas in a bowl.

Add oil, sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, & cardamon and mix.

Sift flours, baking powder, and baking soda together. Add to the banana mixture. Mix well.

Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.

Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until muffins are done and slightly browned on top.

In my opinion, they came out really nice. Soft, cake-like texture with the spices adding a zippy flavor. The nuts and choco chips gave it a satisfying crunch. YUM!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Italian: Pasta w/ faux Alfredo Sauce

I am not a vegan although I do try to keep my consumption of dairy to a minimum. My sister, who is a vegan, recently raved about a vegan alfredo pasta sauce she had that was made with cauliflower. I googled "cauliflower pasta sauce" and found a simple recipe that I had to try.

Cauliflower Pasta Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Josh Lerner at

1 head cauliflower, broken into large pieces
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1-2 cups vegetable stock
1-2 T. ghee or butter or vegan margarine
1-2 T. olive oil

freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/4 c. chopped parsley

1/4 c. breadcrumbs

Steam the cauliflower pieces for 10 minutes, or until soft.

Heat the oil and ghee in a frying pan and saute the onion for 2 min.

Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Add the salt and pepper, stir, and saute for another minute.

Remove from the heat.

Blend the cauliflower, onion and garlic mixture, and 1 cup vegetable stock in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Add more vegetable stock and continue blending until the sauce is the desired consistency.

Serve over Italian pasta - highly textured pasta with lots of nooks and crannies works best, to catch the sauce. Top with breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley.


I, of course, added sauteed veggies (spinach, crimini mushrooms, & red bell pepper) to this dish as well. It was super delish!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Crockpot Veggie Lentil Soup

Soups are the perfect fall meal. And super easy made in a crockpot. This veggie lentil soup is perfect served with whole grain bread.

Veggie Lentil Soup

1 cup dry lentils

4 cups water or veggie broth

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2-3 baby potatoes, cut into 1" chunks

1 carrot, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/4 t. ground oregano

1/2 t. ground thyme

1 t. dried basil

1/2 t. cumin

1 bay leaf

1/8 t. black pepper

2 t. Spike

Juice of 1 small lime

Add the lentils, water or broth, spices, onion, and garlic to the crockpot and cook on low overnight.

The next morning, add the crushed tomatoes, potatoes, celery, & carrot. Slow cook for another 5-6 hours.

Stir in the lime juice before serving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Italian: Pita pizzas

Pizza is an all time, all around favorite. Everyone who eats with me are always happy to have a pizza night. I won't deny it, I get hit with the pizza cravings every month or so and homemade pizzas are the way I get my fix. I like to make 'em from scratch- from the whole wheat crust to the herb-rich tomato sauce. And in a future post, I'll share this time-consuming endeavor. Sometimes, though, I just want a quick fix and skip the homemade crust altogether. Instead, I use locally made whole grain pita bread for the crust and make a shortcut pizza sauce.

Shortcut (No-Cook) Pizza Sauce (for 3-4 pita pizzas)
16 oz can of tomato puree
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion powder
1 t. Italian seasoning
1/2 t. dried basil
1/8 t. black pepper
1/8 t. dried red chili flakes
1/2 t. Spike all-purpose seasoning

Blend all ingredients, pour into a sealable container, and store in the fridge overnight to let the flavors marry.

Pita Pizzas
3-4 pita rounds (lightly brushed with olive oil on one side)
1 batch Shortcut Pizza Sauce
2-3 c. grated mozzarella cheese
2-3 c. toppings of your choice (I used portabella mushrooms, purple onion, red bell pepper, and black olives)

Place the pita breads on a pizza pan with the oiled side down.
Spread the sauce on each round.

Sprinkle on a thin layer of cheese.
Sprinkle on the toppings.
Sprinkle on a top layer of cheese.

Bake for 15-20 min (depending on how crispy you like your crust)

Cut & enjoy!! I love to top my pizzas with jalapeƱos.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mediterranean: Goat cheese stuffed mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are one of my favorite ways to enjoy mushrooms. They are also a great hit at parties. If you've been to a party at my house, you've probably tried 'em. Over the years, I have experimented with the stuffing, with cheese and without. I have found that a filling with soft goat cheese works the best.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

12 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed & set aside

1/4 c. bread crumbs

1/4 c. goat cheese

6 sundried tomatoes soaked in oil

2 T. chopped toasted almonds

1/4 c. basil leaves

1 small red bell pepper, cored, deseeded, & roughly chopped

1/8 t. black pepper

1/2 t. Spike seasoning or 1/4 t. salt

1 T. balsamic vinegar

1 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8x11 baking dish with PAM cooking spray.

Blend all ingredients, except mushroom caps, in a food processor. Don't over process, you want it a bit chunky.

Brush the mushroom caps with olive oil. Stuff each cap with a generous amount of the goat cheese mixture. Place in baking dish.

Bake uncovered for 20 min.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Asian: Stir-fried chard w/soba & tofu

This meal has become a favorite of mine likely. Deliciously simple and loaded with nutritious greens and fresh ginger.

Stir-fried chard w/ soba noodles & tofu
  • 1 t. toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 3-4 dashes of black rice or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into slivers
  • 1 head of chard, chopped into thin ribbons
  • 2 servings of soba noodles, pre-cooked and tossed with a splash of sesame oil
  • 2 servings of firm tofu, cubed & stir-fried in sesame oil until browned
  • 1/4 c. chopped green onion
  • 2 T. toasted sesame seeds
  • fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Asian hot sauce of your choice
In a wok or large skillet, heat sesame oil over high heat.
Add garlic & ginger, stir fry for about a min adding a dash of vinegar when it begins to stick.
Add the carrot and a couple of dashes of vinegar, stir-fry for 2 min.
Next add the chard and a few splashes of tamari. Cook for 1-2 min.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the pre-cooked tofu & soba noodles. Splash in a little more tamari.
Toss everything together and stir until the noodles are well heated.
Serve hot. Garnish with green onion, sesame seeds, a touch of lime juice, and hot sauce for an extra kick!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chocolate Mousse Pie (Vegan)

This is my favorite chocolate pie recipe that always gets the response "Really, this has avocado in it?" So rich & decadent yet simple.

Chocolate Mousse Pie
2 ripe medium avocados
3 cups of dark chocolate chips
1 t. vanilla extract
2-3 T. apple juice (depending on the size of the avos)
1 prepared chocolate or plain graham cracker crust

1. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler. Stir in the vanilla extract as it melts.
2. Pit & peel the avos and toss into a blender. Add the apple juice.
3. When the chocolate is melted into a silky, clump-free sauce, add it to the blender.
4. Blend the chocolate and avos into a creamy mousse. You can add another spoon of apple juice to help blend if needed.
5. Pour the batter into the crust and evenly distribute with a spatula.
6. At this point, you can add a topping of your choice. (chopped nuts or fresh fruit like sliced strawberries/raspberries/blueberries or dried coconut shreds or fruit jam)
7. Refrigerate the pie overnight and VOILA!! You have a luscious pie to serve your dinner guests.

Chocolate Almond Pie w/ almond extract

Chocolate Pomegranate Pie

I find that both kids & adults really enjoy this pie. A real crowd-pleaser :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ethnic groceries & specialty items

In the U.S., I was able to buy ethnic goods and specialty items quite easily. Within a 5 mile radius of my home, there was a Vietnamese grocery store, an Indian store, and my favorite, Whole Foods. Here in Mexico, the goods I need to create culinary magic are hard to come by. While Mexico city is a major international hub and most things can be acquired there, it's too far from us and my condition prohibits me from traveling. So the solution has been ordering from internet stores and having the items ship to our private mailbox in Brownsville, TX. Diego makes border trips 1-2 times a year where he brings everything down by bus. There are a couple of internet stores that have been a godsend for stocking my kitchen with exotic goods:

I LOVE this store! I found it when searching for authentic Thai curry pastes as I frequently crave Thai coconut curry veggie dishes. To my delight, not only did they stock a variety of curry pastes at good prices, they also carry brown jasmine rice, black rice vinegar, and an assortment of hard to find spices like kaffir lime leaf powder. Their service is excellent and friendly.

As an Indian woman living in Mexico, I miss easy access to the wide range of Indian spices needed to make scrumptious Indian dishes. Luckily, this store offers all the spices one needs to make authentic Indian food. They also stock a wide variety of chutneys, dried legumes, and brown basmati rice. I definitely had fun shopping at this site and my kitchen is well stocked with Indian goods.

We only eat whole grain products and finding whole grain pasta or brown rice noodles here is nearly impossible. Stores like,, and offers these hard to find items. I stocked up on short grain brown rice for sushi as well as brown rice pasta & noodles at the most recent border trip. Thank goodness for the internet!

So with my kitchen well stocked, I am well equipped to continue my international culinary adventures.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Asian Pesto w/ soba

It's pesto time! I have 3 varieties of basil growing this summer: Italian, Thai, and Mexican. I decided to start with an Asian pesto using Thai basil.

Asian Pesto

  • 1 c. fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 c. cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 c. mint leaves
  • 2 T. dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1 t. raw sugar
  • 1/2 t. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 t. dried garlic flakes or 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 T. diced lemongrass (white stems)
  • 1/4 t. kaffir lime leaf powder
  • 1 T. dark sesame oil
  • 1 T. hemp oil
  • 1 T. fish sauce substitute (2 t. tamari + 1 t. lime juice)
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar

Blend all dry ingredients in a food processor.

Add the oil, fish sauce sub, & rice wine vinegar and process until smooth.

I tossed the pesto with soba noodles, stir-fried tofu, and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. YUM!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mexican: Mole Plantain Tacos

Before moving to Coatepec two years ago, I had heard of but never tried mole. Then one day, shortly after we had moved here, we were invited to the home of a local doctor who had given me my initial checkup. We went and his wife had just made a fresh batch of homemade mole. She smeared the thick paste onto a tortilla and offered us a taste. WOW!! Chocolate, spices, & dried peppers all fused to create an explosion of flavor in a single bite. Being the chocophile that I am, I was hooked! And my brain was buzzing with ideas on how to create veggie dishes with the sauce. As luck would have it, a locally owned company called Castizo produces & sells tasty, good quality mole. With an endless supply of mole and some experimenting, I created a winner! Even the locals love this dish.

Mole Plantain Tacos
2-3 ripe plantains, sliced & quartered
1 red bell pepper, cored, deseeded & diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (stems & leaves)
1/4 c. Spanish green olives, chopped
1/4 c. mole paste
1/4 c. water

Add the cut plantains, bell pepper, olives. & cilantro to a large bowl.
Rinse & drain the black beans. Add to the bowl.
Prepare the mole sauce by blending the mole paste and water. Pour the mole over the plantains & veggies.

Stir well, evenly coating all the ingredients.
Spray an 8x11 baking dish with PAM and empty the contents of the bowl into it.
Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 min. in a 350°F preheated oven.
Remove the foil & let cool for 5 min before serving

Serve with salad, tortillas, guacamole, & salsa.

Have fun making tacos!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Asian: Sweet Chili Lime Veggie Stir-fry

Making tasty Asian stir-fries are easy when you find quality bottled sauces. In the U.S., I used Annie Chun's or the Whole Foods line of Asian sauces. Lucky for me, Chedraui, the largest Mexican grocery chain store, carries a line of Asian sauces: Teriyaki, Sczechuan, Orange, & Sweet Chili Lime.

Sweet Chili Lime Veggie Stir-fry
1 T. coconut oil
1 small carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, & julienned
1/2 c. pineapple chunks
1/4 c. water chestnuts
4-6 baby corn cut to desired size
1 zucchini or yellow squash, sliced & quartered
1 c. bean sprout
3/4 c. prepared sweet chili lime sauce
1 T. toasted sesame seeds

In a wok or large skillet, heat coconut oil over high heat.
Add the veggies one at a time, stir-frying each for about 2 min.
Add the sweet chili lime sauce, stir to coat all the veggies, and turn off the heat.
Serve with rice and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thai Yellow Curry Noodles

Thai food for dinner tonight, one of my faves :) I googled Thai yellow curry sauce for inspiration and after reading through a few recipes, I found a helpful idea. Add a pinch of allspice to the sauce. WOW!! What a great tip, the flavor just explodes!

Thai Yellow Curry Noodle Sauce

1 can coconut milk

2 T. Thai yellow curry paste

1/8 t. allspice

1 T. lime juice + 2 T. tamari (fish sauce substitute)

2 T. palm sugar

1/4 c. Thai basil (fresh from my herb garden)

2 T. natural smooth peanut butter

Throw all the ingredients into a blender.

Blend until well combined.

Transfer the sauce into a medium saucepan. Heat on low for 15-20 min, stirring frequently.

Ginger-mushroom stir-fry
1 t. toasted sesame oil
1 small onion, julienned
1 inch piece of ginger, cut into thin slivers
1 orange bell pepper, julienned
2-3 c. mushrooms, chopped to desired size (I used baby portabellas)
1/2 c. snow peas
2 c. bean sprouts

-Heat the sesame oil on high. Add onions, after a minute or so, add the ginger. Stir-fry for another minute.
-Add the snow peas, followed by bell pepper, then mushrooms, cooking each for about 2 min.
-Toss in the bean sprouts, stir-fry for about 30 sec, then turn off the stove.

Serve the veggies & Thai yellow curry sauce with noodles of your choice (rice, soba, etc). I used Eden Spelt Udon.