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Vegan MoFo PMA Burgers: Engine 2 Pumpkin/Mushroom/Adzuki Burgers

18 Oct

I’m sick of paying 6 dollars a box for Sunshine Burgers. I love them, but I am calling shenanigans. The Engine 2 website has a great post with a sort of master make-your-own-veggie- burger “matrix”:

I used this to come up with my own fall-themed burger. I’m on a pumpkin rampage, people!

PMA burgers: Pumpkin, Mushroom, Adzuki Bean/Positive Mental Attitude Burger

(best made while listening to Bad Brains!)

2 tbs ground flax seeds

1 can Eden adzuki beans, drained and mashed

1 cup cooked, diced mushrooms (portobello or porcini work really well)

1 tsp tamari

1 tasp vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 cup bread crumbs of your choice (hint: 2 slices toasted Ezekiel bread in the Vitamix makes exactly enough!)

1 tsp chives

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp nutritional yeast

3 shakes smoked paprika

4 twists fresh ground black pepper

2 tbs non-dairy milk of your choice

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Sautee the finely chopped mushrooms with tamari and Worcestershire sauce and a little water so they don’t stick. Set aside. Mix flax seeds with 3 tbs warm water and set aside. Drain and rinse your adzuki beans. Mash your adzuki beans in a large bowl, then add bread crumbs. Mix and add mushrooms, then add your pumpkin, flax seed mixture and spices. Add the non-dairy milk last. Mixture should be sticky and firm enough to make patties with your hands. Form six evenly shaped patties and place on parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and flip them over. Bake ten more minutes and then eat them up!


Samurai Soba Noodle Bowl: Engine 2 Recipe

5 Aug


When I have a cold or flu, I crave this soup. It was my comfort food in college, but I used to use ramen and hot sesame oil. Sometimes I leave the udon noodles out–it depends on my appetite. This is a very filling dish if you use soba noodles. Soba noodles are usually made out of a combination of buckwheat and wheat. Soba happens to contain all 8 essential amino acids (if you believe Wack-i-pedia), including Lysine. Soba noodles are also high in B vitamins, so much so that they became popular in Tokyo because they prevented beri-beri (which happens when you live on white rice because the B vitamins are stripped out). I prefer the Eden brand that you can find in most health food stores. I also stumbled across an organic Japanese brand at my local Korean supermarket, Greenland. The youtube video above is in Japanese and is an instructional video—kinda neat!

Samurai Soba Noodle Bowl


Large handful of fresh shiitake musrooms, washed and sliced

4oz extra firm sprouted tofu, sliced

Dash of Tamari

2 green onions, diced

4 tbs miso (any color)

one serving organic Soba noodles

veggie broth for sauteeing the tofu and mushrooms

Siracha sauce to taste, or if not following Engine 2, hot sesame oil for sauteeing

Optional and tasty: a little crumbled nori as a garnish. I do not use a lot of seaweed due to my thyroid condition, but you can!


Veggies: Sautee the tofu in veggie broth with just a dash of tamari and as much Siracha sauce as you can tolerate (helps break up congestion!). After 5 minutes, add the shiitake mushrooms (great for the immune system) and sautee until they are well cooked.

Broth: Boil 4 cups of filtered water. Bring to a low simmer and add the miso (do not let it boil again—makes the broth bitter!). Stir until miso is dissolved and leave on very low heat until all soup ingredients are ready.

Noodles: cook according to directions on your particular brand. Strain, rinse in cool water and then place in bottom of large bowl.

Assembly: pour tofu and mushrooms on top of noodles. Cover with broth and add green onions last.

Finished product looks like this:

Engine 2 Snack Attack: White Bean Artichoke Dip Recipe

5 Aug


I’ve been trying some new snack ideas out lately. When healthy, plant-based eating starts to seem very boring and complicated, it makes me feel trapped and restricted. And then the evil little voice in my head tells me to go get vegan chocolate chip cookies and vegan mac ‘n’ cheese from Red Velvet Cafe because who is going to know? *I* will know, and my body will know when I feel like I have cement in my stomach when I am on my yoga mat. Not worth it! I know that many diet gurus (and even Ayurveda!) will tell you that snacking is bad when you are trying to lose weight. I’ve tried it both ways, and I stick to what my Eating Disorders Specialist Registered Dietitian told me and I have my snacks. Otherwise, I am an angry hungry vegan and I want to ATTACK. End of story.

Clearly, the ideal snacks are fresh fruits and veggies. Sometimes that is exactly what I want, and sometimes it seems like The Ghost Of Bad Dieting Past is visiting me and shoving carrot sticks in my face. No bueno. Since this is all about progress, not perfection, I need to have alternate snacks to nosh on when I am in the mood for something more substantial.

Here’s my new snack action—take it for what it’s worth!

1. Edward and Sons Rice Crackers

I hate rice cakes. They make me think of dieting and starving and they make me mad. These are, well, technically similar to rice cakes but very crunchy and with flavor. There are several different kinds—some are vegan and some aren’t, so read the labels. Also, some have oil and some don’t. I mainly buy the Tamari Sesame and the Tamari Seaweed. These are the same people who make the Chreeze sauce that I mentioned in my E2 cheese post. I think these might be mentioned in the E2 book as well.

2. Oskri Quinoa Bars

Due to the sesame seed content, this is one of those things that skirts the line as far as E2 is concerned. But there’s no added oil, and they are sweetened with brown rice syrup and date syrup. And they are sooooo crunchy! Yum! I’ve been experimenting with making homemade “granola” bars without oil and refined sugars, but my experiments have either been awful or waaaay too tasty. I like things to be in the middle: tasty enough that I am not pissed off that I have to eat this crap but not so tasty that I want to eat the entire batch, now. Until I can find the perfect recipe, I have these very crunchy Oskri bars. I usually eat them with an apple or a glass of unsweetened almond milk and they hit the spot.

3. Zen Bakery Peanut Butter Carob Chip Cookies

I get these in the refrigerated bakery section of my favorite Whole Foods. They are more like a severely healthy muffin than a cookie, honestly. But they taste good and fill me up, especially if I have a long time between when I leave work and dinner. I like to warm them up and have them with almond milk. And anything Zen is always A-OK with me!

4. La Reina Baked Tortilla Chips with Salsa and/or Vegan Queso

From, very cool oil-free plant-based eating website!

La Reina is the only tortilla chip that I can find that does not use oil. Guiltless Gourmet has started using oil so I leave those alone now—they used to be my old stand by. I don’t eat this very frequently since my body doesn’t like corn (no matter what Ayurveda says about it being good for Kapha dosha) but when I do, I really enjoy it. If you are not able to get this where you live, you can bake your own chips at home. Set oven at 350 degrees and put the tortillas directly on the rack. You have to flip them several times until they are crispy. I can never remember exactly how long it takes! Probably depends on your oven.

5.  White Bean Artichoke Dip

I really get sick of hummus really fast. When I first started exploring vegetarian eating in the late 80’s, early 90’s, that was frequently all there was to eat. Hummus and lentils. Lentils and hummus. Hummus with a side of lentils and…rice cakes! Needless to say, I still sometimes associate hummus with deprivation and struggle. And I just can’t be down with the new Cedar’s fat free hummus. It tastes like…beany snot. Sorry. So I came up with this instead, and for some reason I like it much, much more.

Mo’s Engine 2 White Bean Artichoke Dip 


1 can drained, rinsed Cannelini beans

1 can drained, rinsed Artichoke hearts (set aside the water to use to thin the dip)

1 lemon

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt

1 dash cayenne pepper


Put everything in the Vitamix or food processor except for the artichoke water and the lemon. Squeeze the lemon (really get all of that juice out) into the mixture and then blend until it’s smooth. If you’re really motivated, you can add some grated lemon zest, too. Use the artichoke water to thin the dip as needed. Chill overnight to let the flavors marry and then eat up! Great with crackers, tortilla chips or (gasp) veggies. I had it last night with celery sticks as a side for my veggie burger.

6. Amande Almond Milk Yogurt

From the website.

I think I heard Rip mention these when I heard him speak here in Vegas. These are almond milk yogurts that are sweetened with fruit juice instead of refined sugar. I have a serious problem with refined sugar (it makes me act like a junkie) so I avoid it. It also makes PCOS way, way worse. It is not my friend.

Happy E2 snacking!

Engine-2-Friendly, Oil Free Vegan Alfredo Sauce

4 Aug

Gotta give props to the Happy Herbivore cookbook yet again—thanks for another great recipe, Lindsay!


I have to say, I was extremely skeptical about her Fettuccine Alfredo recipe because I have tried to do this in the past and most of the recipes that did not involve heavy use of macadamia nuts just straight up sucked. This was a pleasant and delicious surprise, and took 5 minutes to whip up in the Vitamix and then heat up on the stove. I did not tamper with the seasonings at all. Here’s a link again to her website, where there are lots of free recipes to try: Unfortunately, this one is not free but you should just BUY THE BOOK. So worth every penny if you want simple, satisfying, healthy plant-based recipes. Also great if you, like me, are following the Engine 2 plan of plant-based eating. There’s not a ton of recipes in the E2 book (Rip: please come out with a huge, companion recipe book!) so this is my go-to cookbook and has been for the past year. I think tonight I am making Hippie Loaf–I will let you know how it turns out!

I decided to use some vegan butternut squash ravioli that I had in the freezer since I had no fettuccine on hand:


These are delicious—just don’t let them get freezer-burned. Here’s the ravioli before I loaded the veggies on:


I sauteed what I happened to have on hand in the fridge: diced carrots, broccoli, snow peas, mushrooms, peppers and onions. Finished result:

Engine2 Recipe: Smoky “Bacon” Beans, Broccoli and Cheeze Stuffed Potato

23 Jul

One of the things I love about eating a plant-based diet is that I can freely worship at the Altar of the Divine Spud:

Worship at the E2/McDougall Potato Altar!


Under $3.00 for a LOT of potential meals.

One thing I always loved before I started eating this way was loaded baked potatoes. I was a bacon, cheese and sour cream junkie. When I first transitioned to being vegan, this meant lots of vegan sour cream, green onions and Fakin’ bacon:

Last night I realized that I had a dilemma: no Fakin’ Bacon and I needed to eat *now*.  Hmmm…what if I could make beans taste like bacon? Problem solved!

Smoky Vegan Bacon Beans Recipe


1 can Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke or hickory smoke seasoning

1 tsp tamari

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 /2 tsp onion powder


Mix it all up and let it marinate for at least an hour. You can cook your potato while it you are marinating the beans.



I steamed the broccoli, warmed up the beans, threw everything together on top of the potato and used Road’s End packaged vegan “Chreeze” sauce. The Cheese sauce recipe from Happy Herbivore is really yummy on potatoes, too. Check my blog entry on vegan cheese substitutes if you are curious:


This version was actually much more filling than using the Fakin’ Bacon. I think I have a new favorite, although Fakin’ Bacon will always be near and dear to my heart. I’ve been eating it since 1990 or 1991!

It feels good to be back in the kitchen again. I haven’t wanted to cook or even be in that room since Enzo died. Enzo didn’t really like potatoes or beans, but he sure did like tempeh bacon, tofu scrambler, pancakes and vegan sausage. That dog was a vegan breakfast eating machine!

Did you say, “Vegan Sausage??”

Semi-Ayurvedic Saturday: Dosas, Dahl, and Shahid Kapoor

3 Jun

First of all, Anjum Anand is fricking HOT. Like scorching, middle of the Las Vegas Summer hot. Damn. Nigella’s got nothin’ on Anjum. That’s honestly the reason I picked up this book! I know, I’m sin verguenza. I can hear my abuela’s disapproving voice right now!

Anjum’s Eat Right For Your Body Type has nothing to do with the Blood Type Diet (I plead the Fifth on that one) and everything to do with a layman-friendly version of Ayurveda. I enjoyed the pithy explanations, the sections on detox and weight loss and the aesthetics of the book itself. Warning to my veg readers: I do believe this contains some recipes that use meat and dairy, which I of course just ignored. But I am eating a yummy veganized bowl of her Mung Bean detox soup RIGHT NOW:

Adapted from Anjum’s book, here’s an adjusted, vegan-and-Kapha-friendly version of her Mung Bean Detox Soup:

  • 1/2 cup green Mung Beans
  • 4 cups water or veggie broth
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Soak the Mung beans for a minimum of 4 hours in enough water to cover them up. If you can soak them overnight, it’s only better for your digestion. If beans tend to make you, um, vata-d out, soak them with a piece of kombu seaweed or some sorrel (both reduce gassiness). Discard the water after you’re done soaking and rinse the beans well. Bring the water or broth and beans to a boil, then reduce heat and cook them for about 35 minutes on a low simmer.

Assemble your spices if you want to make this Ayurvedically by simmering the spices in some oil (see explanation below). If you E2’rs out there want to avoid oil, you can add the spices by themselves into the soup at the very end. Usually about 5-10 minutes before the soup is done seems to work well.

For Kapha dosha:

On very, very low heat simmer the following for about two to five minutes. Since we are not using Ghee, which has a really high smoke point, you have to be careful. You can get away with five if you use coconut  (higher smoke point), but straight EB will burn so be careful. Once you’ve simmered it, add it to the soup and cook the soup for another 5-10 minutes before serving (that’s a total of 40-45 minutes cooking time).  This is one of the few times I would suggest sticking to the amounts suggested for the spices exactly. It’s really easy to make this taste terrible if you overpower one spice with another.

  • 1 tbs Earth Balance (my vegan answer to Ghee!), or coconut oil, or Earth Balance coconut spread
  • 1/4 tsp Hing
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder

If you’d like, you can add some finely chopped up veggies to this like cauliflower, chopped green beans, kale or any other Kapha-friendly veggies. I suggest steaming them lightly and then adding them to the oil and spice blend.

Once you’ve simmered the oil blend and/or veggies for the allotted time it, add it to the soup and cook the soup for another 5-10 minutes before serving.  Top it off with 2 rounded tablespoons of minced, fresh cilantro and add 1/2 tsp. salt (optional—I need it, but not E2 compliant).

I also finally got my hands on some Trader Joe’s Masala Dosas. It was like finding the Holy Grail. I had to go to three Trader Joe’s here in Vegas before I found them, but they were totally worth it> Not E2 compliant and probably not good for me Ayurvedically, but Frankly, I don’t give a f@ck. It’s not like I’m eating a bag of Cheetos:

As promised, the cooking oil method explanation–obviously since I am a vegan I don’t eat ghee, but many Yogis do:

“According to ayurveda, the best way to cook vegetables is to sauté them in ghee with spices. By first sautéing the spices in ghee the volatile oils of the spices are drawn out into the Ghee. These spices have therapeutic value. Turmeric, for example, has been found to be an antioxidant, and other spices such as cumin and coriander help with digestion and assimilation. The spices cook into the vegetables and act as carriers, transferring nutrition from the vegetables into the bloodstream as we consume them. They also make the food taste aromatic and delicious.

First gently fry the spices in the ghee, taking care not to burn them. Add the chopped raw vegetables to the spice mixture and stir so that all the spices are mixed with the vegetables. Add a couple of spoonfuls of water to prevent sticking. Cover and cook on low heat until the vegetables are well cooked. Not mushy, but just “fork friendly”. Add salt to taste at the end and some fresh cilantro leaves for garnish.

Ghee is considered a beneficial oil in ayurveda. According to traditional ayurvedic texts, it is a rasayana, good for overall well-being and longevity. Modern research shows that it is an antioxidant and contains beta-carotene. Since the milk solids have been removed, ghee does not spoil easily like vegetable oils do. If you are on a weight loss program, limit your intake of ghee or oil to judicious amounts.” From the Maharishi Ayurveda website, 

The website has lots of easy to understand information about Ayurveda, and they sell some great products like Kapha, Pitta and Vata tea as well as Raja’s Cup. I used to be able to get all of that at my local Whole Foods when I lived in Florida, but I haven’t seen any of it in retail stores since I moved to Vegas, which makes me sad.

And to close my post with some more hotness (and because this delicious food is best eaten with a great movie), I give you my absolute favorite Bollywood leading man—also a Pisces and a vegetarian. My dream man, Shahid Kapoor:

Off I go to work my way through the rest of his movie back catalogue!

Must Have Spices For The Plant-Based Cook

30 May

Whoops, wrong Spices! But seriously folks, I can’t live without my spice cabinet. No Spice= Miserable Food. Here’s the spices I love and have leaned on consistently during my plant-based eating journey. Some of these are somewhat unconventional or, um, not “health food nazi approved” but they work for me.

1. Kelp granules

Vegan faux fish tacos and “tuna” salad represent! I try to not overuse this because of my thyroid, but it does work really well in certain dishes where you want to give things a mock-fishy flavor.

2. Frontier Mexican Seasoning

Normally I like to add spices individually, but this blend has been an old stand-by for me for years. Great in any Mexican dish or on tofu/tempeh.

3. Goya Adobo Seasoning

Yes, it has sodium and therefore is not E2 compliant. Yes, it is probably irradiated. However, it is the last vestige of my childhood aside from coffee left to me, so you will have to pry it out of my dead, cold Cuban-American hands. Besides, I have really low blood pressure. When I don’t eat a little salt every day, I feel like I am going to pass out every time I come up out of Prasarita. No salt = No bueno. Actually, more like No Salt = No Prana.

4. Parsley

Usually thought of as a humble garnish, but works so well in so many recipes. It’s especially good if I need a little bit of a “cool” taste to offset something in a dish. I usually prefer the dried organic flake version to fresh, but there are some dishes where the more intensely “cool”/pungent taste of the fresh works better. An essential ingredient for one of my favorite bowl sauces, Hippie Sauce. Parsley is antimicrobial, contains a compound called apigenin which is thought to have anti-cancer activity and is loaded with carotenoids.

5. Asafoetida or “Hing”

Excellent for Indian dishes, natch. Gives things the critical, secret bitter/pungent accent that is so prevalent in many Indian dishes. Also somwhat umami-esque, which my tastebuds adore. Although I do notice that my sweat is particularly um, unlovely, after I eat this stuff. Putting the “ass” in asafoetida! Apparently Asafoetida is also known as The Devil’s Dung, Stinking Dung AND the Food Of The Gods.

6. Smoked Paprika

Where have you been all of my life, smoked paprika? So yummy!

7. Truffle Salt

Again, not E2 compliant, but truffle salt is so ridiculously good! Imparts a savory, chewy, umami vibe to all sorts of dishes. “Umami” is that savory, meaty flavor that is usually associate with, well, meat. Using spices that give things some umami keeps me from feeling bored and deprived with my plant-based diet.  If you have blood pressure problems or any kind of cardiac issue, talking to your health care practitioner about salt or just leaving it out altogether is probably a wise move.

8. Tumeric

Excellent for tofu scramble and great for inflammation.

9. Liquid Smoke

Fake bacon taste, baby. I’m all about it! Used it the other night in a delicious Cream of Potato chowder (which I should probably post the recipe for). Again, it’s umami.

10. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

If you are not riding this train, you need to get on it. Peppercorns are not only tasty, but interesting. Peppecorns are actually the seeds of a berry (from a vine, no less) and have been used for more than 4,000 years by humans. There’s a patented medicinal preparation of black pepper called BioPerine that is thought to enhance the absorption of whatever nutrients are paired with it in a formulation. The proposed mechanism of action is the increased GI circulation that black pepper causes. Whooops, I’m letting my day job seep into my blog!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with spices in your cooking. Pick a few and start with a recipe–before you know it, you will be able to adjust the taste of a dish without relying on recipes and you’ll be cooking intuitively, which in my opinion is where it’s at, man. Cooking becomes something that comes straight from the heart and not your head.


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