Monday, January 31, 2011

Frugan: Simple Roasted Garlic Marinara

Pasta is probably one of my favorite foods and I have it at least once a week. I am so thrilled that Market Basket carries brown rice pasta for $1.99/lb.  I like to bulk up my portion with veggies and legumes. 2 oz of pasta doesn't look like a lot when you eat it alone, but combined with healthier additions, it can be a very satisfying meal.

When I wrote about how I approach eating the way I do, I mentioned the importance of having sauces prepared and on hand. My Three Base Sauces are:

Having these sauces on hand along with 1 or 2 cooked legumes and 1 cooked grain enables me to throw meals together in less than 30 minutes.

So, since I have posed other base sauce recipes, here is my Simple Marinara recipe. I call for 4 T of Olive Oil in this recipe, but you don't have to use that much. If you are using less then use 1 T of the balsamic vinegar to caramelize the garlic. The key to this simple sauce is to go lowlowlow and slowslowlsow! Start with a COLD pan and caramelize the garlic over a period of 20 minutes at least.

Simple Marinara
  • 4 T evoo
  • 10 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 t marjoram
  • 1 t rosemary
  • 2 t dried basil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes with their liquid
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 1 c fresh basil or parsley
  1. In a cold pan place the oil and garlic in the pan. Turn heat to low and slowly caramelize the garlic
  2. When garlic is golden and fragrant, add the spices, turn heat up to medium and add the spices. 
  3. Cook spices for 1 minutes, then deglaze with balsamic
  4. Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cover for 20 minutes
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings, stir in fresh herbs
  6. If the sauce is too acidic, add 1 shredded carrot or 2 t sugar
There you have it. Once you make this sauce, you will not go back to jarred! It is so tasty and delicious and freezes beautifully.

Over the next week or so I will post my favorite Nutty Parmesan recipes.
What sauces to you keep on hand?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Frugan: Spicy Sesame Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry

Sometimes, I really crave Chinese food. It's not a cuisine I order out because I don't trust most restaurants not to use animal products in their sauces and the language barrier is often an issue not to mention it's not exactly frugal!
The other day I was craving a big plate of sweet and spicy sesame tofu, so I off to the market I went.
I bought a 16 oz bag of sir fry veggies for $.99. It contained, broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, red peppers, mushrooms and baby corn. I added some yellow squash had at home and a big onion.

Spicy Sesame Ginger Tofu and Veggies  ( serves 2 )

  • 7 oz lite firm tofu 
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil, divided 
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash or zucchini
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh veggie of your choice
  • 1.5 c  broth or water
  • 1 T cornstarch mixed with 2 T cold water
  • 8 cloves pressed garlic
  • 1/8 t 5 spice powder
  • 2 T fresh ginger 
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • very scant 1/8 t kal stevia or 3-4 T sweetener
  • 3 T soy sauce 
  • 1-3 T Siracha
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds
  1. Dry fry the tofu in 1 t sesame oil; remove and sprinkle with soy sauce
  2. Add another t of sesame oil and saute the onion and squash
  3. In a blender add the broth, garlic, 5 spice, ginger, vinegar, stevia, soy sauce and siracha. Blend well. 
  4. Add the frozen veggies and sauce, bring to  a simmer for 10 minutes
  5. Stir in the cornstarch/water mixture
  6. Cook for 5 more minutes
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning
If you're in the mood for a Thai inspired tofu and veggie dish, check out this recipe.
Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Frugan: Chocolate-Orange-Banana-Pecan Ice Cream

I must be crazy! It's freezing here yet I keep drinking green smoothies and eating cold foods! I made this delicious chocolate ice cream out of my Chocolate Hummus.

I took 1/2 c hummus, a frozen banana a tiny bit of orange zest and nutmeg. I chopped about a T of pecans and stirred it in. I used white beans in this batch. So good!

Do you know what is totally delicious? My Chickepa Salad and raw slaw all wrapped up in my gluten free yeasted flatbread! 

I've made one of the best batches of BBQ sauce yesterday. I took a cup of my Sugar Free Ketchup and mixed it with a cup of my Salsa, 1 t liquid smoke and 2 T dijon. I have some seitan marinating in it as we speak.

My Siracha test didn't measure up to my standards. I made a delicious hot sauce, but it didn't come close in texture to Siracha. I won't give up though! I think I may need to use actual sugar in that recipe instead of stevia? We'll see. I'll keep working on it. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Frugan: White Bean and Vegetable Stew & Banana Bread

Oh how I love soup! Beans, veggies and sometimes grains, pasta or potatoes in one pot of flavorful comfort. After eating a big bowl, I feel energized and ready to take on the day. I eat soup for breakfast several times a week!

I cooked up some white beans the other day which have been put to good use in dips, colcannon, beanmilk base and barley pudding! Can you believe I still have some left? I do and even after making this delicious soup, I have the equivalent of a 15 oz can in the fridge that I will be using for version of my Chocolate Hummus! $.99 sure goes a long way. If you're not cooking your own beans, what are you waiting for?

 White Bean & Vegetable Soup

  • 2 T evoo
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 10 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • ½ t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 t marjoram
  • 2 t basil
  • ½ t coriander
  • ¼ t powdered sage
  • 1 t Tony’s
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 yellow squash or zucchini, chopped
  • 1 small turnip chopped
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 3-4 c stock or water
  • 1.5 c white beans
  • 4 c chopped greens 
  • 4 T nutritional yeast
  • Lots of black pepper, soy sauce to taste


  1. Heat oil , onion, garlic, spices  and Tony’s over medium heat. Sauté for 10 minutes
  2. Deglaze with vinegar, add the squash turnip, tomatoes, stock and beans. Bring to a strong simmer.
  3. Turn heat down, cover and cook for 1 hour. 
  4. Add Greens, stir in yeast and season with lots of pepper and soy sauce to taste. If you want your greens cooked really well add them at the same time you ad the rest of the veggies.
I topped my soup with Cashew Goat cheese. ( I used blanched almonds ). The turnips were such a delicious addition. I almost added potatoes, but had the turnips on hand and I'm so glad I threw them in!

The other day I made this clean out the cupboards Banana Bread. It was gluten free, sugar free and almost fat free. The only fat came from the coconut I used. I will never be able to make it again because I used so many odds and ends, but it sure came out well!

I do have two tried and true recipes for banana bread. They are both sugar free and gluten free. My Banana Cake recipe is really good and can be used as a stand in for real cake if topped with frosting

My second recipe is an adaptation of the cake recipe. My subs are HERE. It is a fat free, sugar fee, gluten free but still very good!

I'm sure I'll be eating my Chocolate Hummus as frosting on this banana bread over the next couple of days!

Have you used beans in baked goods or desserts? Did they work well for you if you did?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Frugan: Quite Possibly The Best Chickpea Salad.

So, the name is quite lofty eh? ... but trust me, this chickpea salad is fantastic. I scored a huge head of iceberg lettuce for $.50 yesterday which was the perfect wrap; crunchy like a cracker and totally satisfying. I know iceberg lettuce doesn't have much nutrition, but I like to use it instead of crackers for dips and spreads Try it sometime!
This salad uses my Low Fat Vegenaise Alternative. If you use regular vegenaise, the calories will be much higher so you might want to cut back on the amount of mayo? If you have't tried my mayo recipe, what are you waiting for? It is really good!
Last week, I was browsing blogs and I came across someone who mentioned using black salt in their chickpea tuna recipe. For the life of me, I can't remember who it was, so if it's YOU let me know so I can link back to your blog! ...  anyway... so the idea of black salt in chickpea salad sounded so good I had to try it.

And it is. So. Good.

Vegan Georgia! Thanks for the idea!

Chickpea Salad
2 c cooked and drained chickpeas
½ c celery
2 c shredded carrots
¼ c onion, minced
2 T mustard
½ t black salt
2 T relish
½  c mayonnaise
Ground pepper
2 t marjoram
½  t chipotle
2 T nutritional yeast
½ t lemon pepper
Pinch garlic powder
Salt/Pepper to taste

Mash the chickpeas a bit with a fork, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Let salad sit for an hour ( or even better, overnight ) before serving

Curried Chickpea Variation :
Remove relish, marjoram and chipotle
Add ½ c raisins, 1 T curry powder, ½ c cilantro and ½ c toasted sunflower seeds and 1 T apple cider vinegar

If it's too cold for salad, here's several chickpea recipe that will warm you up!

What are your favorite ways to use chickepas?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chunky Monkey Mug Cake & Banana Pecan Ice Cream (gluten free)

Back in the day, you could always find a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream in our freezer. My X loved it and it slowly grew on me! The other day I was shopping and a pint caught my eye and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since then.

I made this for dinner for myself Saturday night. It is lower in sugar and fat than most cakes and is gluten free. You could use all purpose flour or whole wheat pasty flour if gluten isn't an issue for you. I used Whole Soy's Plain Unsweetened yogurt. ( speaking of Whole Soy, I received a shipment of their unsweetened plain yogurt and key lime both of which are EXCELLENT.. look for a big yogurt post coming up soon
This individual sized cake is baked in the microwave! You can use a ramekin or a shallow mug

Chunky Monkey Mug Cake (Gluten Free)

  • 2 T soy yogurt
  • 3 T mashed banana 
  • ½ T olive oil
  • ¼ t coconut extract
  • ¼ t vanilla extract
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 2 T sugar
  • Scant 1/8 t Kal stevia powder
  • 4 T Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour
  • Scant ¼ t baking powder

Mix everything together in a ramekin or mug and microwave for 2: 30 minutes. Cool completely in freezer

While cake is cooling make the ice cream & chocolate sauce

Banana Pecan Soft Serve

  • 1 frozen banana 
  • 3 pecans or walnuts 
  • Optional: 1 T mini chocolate chips

Pulse in a food processor until the texture of soft serve ice cream
Chocolate Sauce
1 T coconut oil
2 T cocoa
3 T coffee
2 T sugar
Scant 1/8 t Kal stevia powder

Melt everything together in the microwave for 60 seconds. Whisk well. Cool in freezer. Save extra sauce for another use.
Assemble mug cake on a plate, pour half of the sauce over cake and top with ice cream and chopped pecans or walnuts.

Haha!.. the ice cream slid off the cake before I could photograph it! I dipped a couple the pecans in the chocolate sauce too! Yum!

On a different note, it was 28 below zero this morning (with the wind chill)... I am craving hot and spicy food! I'm testing my Siracha stand in recipe today! If it goes well, look for that in the next day or two. I'm almost out of my Habanero Sauce! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vegan Lemony Almond 'Feta' Pate

Almonds are something I make room for in my budget. I pay $7.99 for two pounds and that will usually last me for two weeks. I make use of all of the almond including the pulp if I make milk from it. I switch up my milks to have on hand from week to week, but lately have been leaning towards my bean milk and banananog because they are a lot cheaper, plus I really love almond pates. You can also make my Nutty Goat Cheese with almonds instead of cashews! 

This simple pate is delicious and a great stand in for feta cheese. It comes together in 5 minutes and the longer is sits in the fridge, the better it gets!

Lemony Almond Pate
  • 2 small or 1 large garlic cloves
  • 1 C almonds
  • 2 T plain soy yogurt
  • 2 T drained sauerkraut
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 t fresh thyme ( or ½ t dried thyme )
  • 1 T soy sauce 
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 T green olives 
  • Salt/pepper to taste (chunky sea salt is great here if you have it)
  1. Add Garlic and a pinch of salt to food processor and pulse until completely chopped. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to combine to reach the texture you desire
  3.  Add salt/pepper to taste
If this pate seems too heavy on the nuts, give my Rawco Filling a try! For those of you who have read me for a while, it was part of my 100 calorie snack series!

If winter has you down and you are looking for some stick to your ribs but healthy comfort foods check out my Kicked Up Colcannon!

Stay tuned for a healthier Gluten Free Chunky Monkey Mug Cake with Banana Pecan Ice Cream! I will post that recipe tomorrow.

Have a great Sunday! Here's hoping I can get my dog to do her business before I head out!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kicked Up Colcannon & White Bean Dip

The weather outside if frightful. Snow drifts taller than me, below 0 wind chills. Winter, you are not being kind this year!
I've never really minded winter in the past, but last year something clicked inside of me and I am not enjoying the cold like I used to.
Fortunately, it is easy to warm up with a bowl of good old fashioned comfort foods.
I really need to go shopping, so when dinner time rolled around last night I wasn't sure what to make. I wanted something fast, comforting and of course, healthy. Well, actually I wanted a big bowl of Caramelized Garlic Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, but decided on something healthier to fit into my 400 calorie mini meal allowance. I'm sure glad I did because these turned out delicious and just as satisfying.

Earlier in the day I made some white bean dip to have on hand. If you don't have any white bean dip you can use hummus or even just more mashed white beans and add more spices/soy sauce to taste in the final recipe. You could also use my Smoky Pimento Cheese spread with wonderful results.

All Purpose White Bean Dip

  • 2 c white beans, drained
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • Pinch Salt
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • ½ t rosemary
  • ½ t thyme
  • ½ c sauerkraut, drained
  • ½ t lemon zest
  • ¼ c lemon juice
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1 t Tony’s Creole Seasoning ( less if using canned beans)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 T fresh parsley chopped


  1. Over low heat add 1 T oil to cast iron pan, Caramelize the onion, garlic with the dry spices and a pinch of salt; When the mixture looks dry, add the balsamic vinegar and continue cooking for at least 10 minutes. This step will take 20 minutes at least.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to a food processor and mix until spread is a creamy texture. Stir in parsley.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning
Now, onto the Colcannon! This might seem a little complicated due to the amount of ingredients, but it's not. My dish came together in 30 minutes. While the potatoes are in the microwave, begin the rest of the cooking.

Kicked Up Colcannon

  • 4 medium waxy potatoes, microwaved for 10 minutes
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 c chopped green cabbage
  • ½ t rubbed sage
  • ¼ t thyme
  • ¼ t rubbed sage (not powdered)
  • 1 c white bean spread
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 3 T nutritional yeast
  • ½ c plain soy yogurt
  • 2 c mashed white beans
  • 2 T earth balance, olive oil or coconut oil
  • Lots of ground pepper
  • Soymilk or veggie broth if needed
  • Salt or Tony’s Creole Seaoning to taste
  • ½ t chipotle powder or smoked paprika if desired
  • Parsley for garnish


  1. Prick potatoes with a fork, microwave for 10 minutes. 
  2. Caramelize the onions in a large skillet with 1 T of the Earth Balance
  3. Add the cabbage and spices, turn heat up to medium and cook for 10 minutes
  4. Mix the white bean spread with soy sauce, nutritional yeast and soy yogurt
  5. Add the bean mixture to the veggie mix
  6. At this point, your potatoes are cooked and cool enough to chop, Chop them and add them to the pan
  7. Heat potatoes through, mash well with a fork ( or if you want a creamy texture, put everything in a food processor )
  8. Stir in last T of Earth Balance. If mixture is dry add milk or stock. Season with salt/pepper and chipotle/smoked paprika and garnish with parsley

Next time, I'm making a double batch and using it to top some Lentil Shepherd's Pie. Oh yeah! You could also play around the with greens, using kale, collards or chard and sub half sweet potato for a delicious twist.

Do you have any favorite comfort food recipes you'd like to see fruganized?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Frugan: Orange Scented Coconut Barley Pudding

Do you enjoy rice pudding? I love it! I was puttering around my kitchen yesterday and came up with this healthy stand in. It is a cross between a dessert and breakfast, which is awesome in my opinion!

Now, I wouldn't serve this to company unless they were already familiar with healthy eating. The texture is thickened with Psyllium Husk, which can be a little odd for some, but I really love it. It is such a soothing ingredient and full of fiber and very few calories. If you like tapioca or chia seeds pudding, then you will probably like this.

I started by making Bean Milk out of my white beans. You could use soybeans, rice or oatmeal instead of the white beans. My Banananog would also stand it nicely here. Rice or soymilk will also work, but I like the added nutrition and frugality of using beans.

This bean milk is delicious in smoothies, cooked into oatmeal or anywhere you would use soymilk. It's passable for drinking, but I like to use it as a base.

Bean Milk Base

  • 1 c white beans, cooked very well
  • 4 c water
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • ½ t rum extract
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  • 1 frozen banana 

Blend for several minutes. 

Orange Scented Coconut Barley Pudding
  • 3 c bean milk
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 t orange zest
  • ½ c barley
  • 1 c raisins
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • Stevia or sweetener to taste 
  • ½ c shredded coconut
  • ¼ c psyllium husk
  • 1 c soy yogurt
  • freshly grated nutmeg for garnish
  1. Pressure cook for 10 minutes. Allow pressure to come down naturally.
  2.  Stir in psyllium and let mixture sit for 15 minutes or let cool.
  3. If you don't have a pressure cooker, cook on stove for an hour or until barley is soft then stir in psyllium & yogurt
  4. Cool 
  5. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg 
I've got a pot of simple split pea soup on the stove. If you love split pea soup, have you tried my Caraway Dill or Chipotle Split Pea Soup recipes?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Frugan: Sesame Beet Salad with Chia Dressing

I absolutely love beets! Their natural sweetness really satisfies any cravings I have, even when eaten in savory dishes. I made this simple mostly raw beet salad today in less than 5 minutes. I mixed my Sesame Ginger Chia Dressing  and my Habanero Sauce together and oh my god! It was soo good! Habanero and beets .. what an amazing combination. You have to try it! Cilantro, beet greens, sesame and sunflower seeds added the final touches to this amazing salad.

While sometimes it gets really boring and frustrating being such a tight budget, most of the time I have a lot of fun experimenting. Since I am budgeting not only finances, but also calories, my creativity is being used on a daily basis. I get bored easily. Creating recipes is so fun!

I remember over the summer when I first used beans in frosting. I had created a very low sugar gluten free chocolate banana cake for the restaurant I was working in and wanted a healthier frosting. I had cooked black beans and I ran with it. I was so happy with how it worked and it felt really good to provide a baked good that was so much healthier than the shortening/earth balance stuff I put out on a daily basis.

Speaking of black beans, I finally put my meatballs to use for dinner last night. They were hard as golf balls when I added them to the sauce. They simmered in the sauce for 25 minutes and when I served them, they were awesome! Not mushy or too hard!

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I added sunflower seeds to my beet salad. Sunflower seeds are so delicious and frugal! I paid $2.79/lb in the bulk section at a local grocery store.

Toasting them brings out a delicious nuttiness in them. I use a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add a couple sprays of olive oil and sprinkle them with garlic salt and chili powder. I stand over them and flip the pan several times making sure they don't burn. A couple T on a salad is all you need for a satisfying crunch.
I cooked up a pound of white beans in the pressure cooker. I am open to recipe requests using them! Feel free to email me ( melodypolakow at gmail dot com ) or leave a comment with anything you wish to see Fruganized!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Frugal Vegan: Southwestern Veggie, Barley and Black Bean Soup & Oats

Soup oh soup how I love you! It is truly the best of all worlds. Where else can a few ingredients come together and create such a comforting dish with so little effort? 

The other day, I cooked up a pound of dried beans. $.99 sure goes a long way! From 3 Ingredient Veggie Burgers, to Black Bean Hummus, Sugar Free Chocolate Energy Balls, Chocolate Hummus and now the finale, Southwestern Vegetable Barley Black Bean Stew! Beans are a frugal gals best friend ever. 

This stew is full of fun textures from the barley and corn and super spicy ( you could leave out the habanero and optional chipotle if you're senstive to heat) The sweet potato compliments the heat and the cabbage rounds everything out. I only wish I had made a batch of my Gluten Free Cornbread to go with it! 
 Southwestern Veggie, Black Bean and Barley Soup
  • 2 T EVOO
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • 1 t coriander
  • 2 T chili powder
  • pinch oregano
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 habanero pepper
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 t Tony’s Creole seasoning
  • 1 medium sweet potato, medium chop
  • ½ c dry barley
  • 1 c cooked black beans
  • 4 c water
  • 14 oz canned tomatoes
  • 2 c corn
  • 3 c cabbage or green of choice
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar or juice of 2 limes
  • 1 c cilantro
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • Optional: 1-2 canned chipotle if you like a spicy, smoky flavor
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

  1. Sauté veggies and spices over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add water if needed to keep veggie from sticking
  2. Add the sweet potato, barley, beans and water. Bring to a boil
  3. Turn heat down to medium, cover and simmer for an hour or until barley is cooked
  4. Stir in tomatoes, greens vinegar, cilantro and nutritional yeast
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning

I've already eaten this for two mini meals and have at least 6 cups left! 

This morning, I made some really delicious oatmeal. I love adding psyllium. The extra fiber keeps me full for a long time and I don't mind the texture in oats. I cooked 1/2 c oats in 2 c water with stevia, nutmeg, lemon zest, cinnamon and raisins. While the oats were cooking, I took some Whole Soy Unsweetened Soy Yogurt ( which was given to me to review, look for that post coming up soon ), chia seed, maple extract, nutmeg and stevia. I allowed it to thicken up while the oats were cooking then stirred it just before serving. Oh so good! 

This is good both hot and cold! I am sooooo looking forward to summer so I can enjoy colder foods again! 

Do you have a favorite outside of the box oatmeal flavor?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sugar Free Chocolaty Energy Balls and Frosting

Sugar Free Chocolate Energy Balls

If you are looking for something quick and easy and full of nutrition I hope you give these chocolaty bites of goodness a try! They are packed full of healthy ingredients that will give you energy and satisfy your sweet tooth.  They can be eaten as is or topped with frosting. 

Frosting? Healthy? Well of course! I have upped the ante and delved into the sugar free arena. If you don't mind a little bit of sugar, give my rich, Chocolate Peanut Butter frosting a try, but if you want something without any added sugar, this definitely fits the bill. The frosting is a base ingredient in the energy ball recipe and the secret ingredient is Black Beans! 

You can use this as you would any frosting. It is not as rich as a buttercream obviously, but it's pretty darn good! 

Energy Balls
  • ½ c chocolate hummus
  • ¼ c raisins
  • very scant 1/8 t kal stevia
  • 4 dates, chopped
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 2 T sunflower seeds
  • 2 t cocoa powder
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  • 1/8 t cinnamon
  • ¾ c old fashioned oats
  • Coconut to roll balls if desired

Mix everything together, roll in coconut 
I had two of these for my first mini meal  along with this amazing green smoothie. Kale, banana and habanero go together so well. I think it's my new favorite combo. I hope that my grocery store continues to stock habaneros. They are the best peppers ever. I just love their flavor!

Lentil Tostadas
I realize that I don't post nearly everything I eat in a day here, so here's a couple of goodies I've been enjoying lately.
Collard Burrito with Lentils, Rice and Veggies

I made a big pot of Southwestern Black Bean, Barley and Veggie stew. I will post the recipe tomorrow. It is really delicious and full of lovely textures and flavors. 

I hope everyone is having a great day! It's snowing here again. Oh how I'm looking forward to summer

Anyone down in Florida or someplace warm want a Personal Chef for a month? 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Frugan: Black Bean Hummus & Awesome Raw Salad

I love hummus so much! My traditional hummus is really good, but sometimes it's fun to think outside the box. For instance, you can replace the tahini with peanut butter and add a T of toasted sesame oil. Peanut butter is cheaper and easier to find that tahini. Just make sure your PB has no sugar added. The sickly sweet and corn syrup sweetened brands would be pretty gross!

I have used many different beans including black eyed peas in my hummus. Today I had some black beans, so I decided to throw a quick spread together.

Black Bean Hummus
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 t Tony’s Creole Seasoning 
  • 2 T  lime juice
  • 2 T  no sugar added peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 c black beans
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo (from a can) or 1/2 tsp smoked paprika is you don't like heat.
  1. Pulse garlic and Tony’s
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth

You definitely want to let this sit for a bit to allow all of the flavors to get to know each other

If you ever find yourself with leftover hummus, you use it in soup or burgers

Do you have any favorite hummus recipes? 

I think the next recipe I'll share will be my Middle Eastern Lentil Hummus. It is sooo good! 

This morning I was craving some raw veggies. I knew I had kale and turnips, ginger, garlic and sesame seeds. I created a delicious dressing that is infused with so much flavor, but no oil. I used chia seeds to both thicken the dressing and provide a satisfying mouthfeel.  I normally use flax meal in my dressings, but chia works even better I think.  I tossed both the kale and the turnip in the salad dressing along with a fair amount of siracha. 

Sesame Ginger Chia Dressing
  • 3 T toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 c water, broth or bean cooking liquid
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • 2 T chopped ginger
  • pinch stevia
  • 1/4 t lemon peppper
  • 1/8 t cumin
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Blend everything for a minute or two in a blender. Allow mixture to sit for 30 minutes so it can thicken up. 

If you don't have chia seeds, you can use 1 T of flax meal. 

Here's a sneak peak to tomorrow's post! Sugar Free Chocolate Energy Balls & Sugar Free Chocolate Frosting with a fun secret ingredient. I'm sure if you put your thinking caps on you can guess what it is!

Just in case you missed yesterday's post and you love spicy foods, click HERE for my Habanero Sauce Recipe! 

As I said in yesterdays post, I am jumping in full force with my cookbook. If any of you have any recipes you'd like to see, I am open to suggestions. Leave a comment or email me with recipes you'd like to see fruganized (frugal vegan)! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Frugan: Habanero Sauce & Recipe Testing

I have a thing for spicy food. I can't get enough of it, especially during the winter months. Habanero sauce is one of my favorite things. This is a forgiving recipe. In fact, a couple winters ago I ended up putting Kumquats in a batch when I realized I was out of vinegar. 

Just a word of caution. These are HOT! You might want to wear gloves when you prepare them. Do not use a cast iron pan  unless you want the next 4 or 5 meals be infused with the heat and flavor from the sauce. ( there's also a fair amount of vinegar in the recipe which can react sometimes with an under seasoned cast iron)
Soak your cutting board in a baking soda mixture to help take away the heat from it, but you might want to mark your board and use the other side for the next couple of days/

Habanero Sauce 
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 habaneros, cut in half 
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 small carrots 
  • 10 large garlic cloves 
  • about 1 tsp sea salt 
  • ¼ t Kal Stevia Powder
  • 1.5 cups red wine vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  1. Sauté peppers, onions, carrots, garlic and salt for 15 minutes in a non stick skillet
  2. Add stevia, vinegar and water
  3. Bring t a strong simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes
  4. Let cool and blend
This will keep in the fridge for a month. It will separate; that's OK, just stir it together before using. You can freeze it in an ice cube tray and store the cubes in your freezer. One cube adds great heat and flavor to rice, chili, marinades or other dishes.

This is not a salsa that one would eat on a chip unless your a little crazy for heat like I am. Here's a salsa recipe that goes great with chips!

Do you prefer spicy food or do you stick to mild sauces?

This week I am kicking up the recipe production. I am really excited about my cookbook! I've been talking about this for YEARS now! I keep revising it and changing recipes. I'm rarely happy with anything I put out for any length of time, so I go back and change everything around! In the next month or so I am going to be needing about 20 recipe testers.

It's so funny, when you go back through my blog you will see that both my cookbook and my weight are subjects that come up over and over and over again! I have a feeling that this year is going to be THE YEAR where I bring my goals to fruition!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

3 Ingredient Veggie Burger Recipe with video

Today I am going to share a recipe that has some processed product in it. I avoid these types of foods most of the time, but sometimes they come in handy for me and I'm sure that some of my readers will feel the same way. The ingredient is Onion Soup Mix. 

The other day I went to the store with $3.33 cash in hand. I wasn't sure what I was going to buy for the day, but  onions were on the agenda. I could have bought 5 lbs of onions for 2.99 which is what I usually do. That usually lasts for 2 weeks. I wandered around the produce aisle and saw a huge bunch of kale for $1.69. That went into my basket. I had a decent stash of dried beans at home and I planned on making some soups and burgers, but I needed onions for those. Buying the onions would put me over my budget. I didn't want to buy smaller amounts and pay so much more per pound, so I ended up getting some Onion Soup Mix instead of the onions

I decided to create super simple Veggie Burger Base that can be used as is or dressed up and turned into a sausage patty or bean ball.

Don't leave out condiments! Check out my Lower Fat Vegenaise Alternative, Chipotle Sauce and Sugar Free Ketchup recipes to dress these babies up!

Serve a side of my Low Fat Potato Salad and you've got yourself a delicious, stick to your ribs meal.

3 Ingredient Veggie Burger Base

  • 3 C HOT Beans (HOT means TEMPERATURE)
  • 2 C old fashioned oats (rolled oats, uncooked)
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • Hot bean liquid if needed to bring the mixture together

  1. Mix everything together
  2. Let mixture cool
  3. form into patties and cook over medium heat in a cast iron skillet for 5 minutes a side
Here's a video of what the mixture should look like:


  • ½ batch Veggie Burger Base
  • ½ t oregano
  • 1 t garlic powder
  •  Pinch ground fennel 
  • ¼ t rubbed sage or pinch sage powder
  • 1 t balsamic
  • Pepper

 Form into balls and microwave for 10 minutes. You want these to be hard, dry and not edible when you're finished. Simmer in sauce for 10 minutes before serving.

Metaballs. before cooking
In anticipation of your questions:

  • Yes, the bean mixutre needs to be hot.
  • I really do mean to microwave the beanballs until they are hard as rocks. The texture when reconstituted is much better when you do it this way. You can bake them, but they will be mushy. 
  • I use home cooked beans and cooking liquid which has not been salted. I think canned beans in addition to the soup mix would be too salty.
  • You can use whatever kind of beans you like, make sure they are very well cooked and HOT!
  • You can bake the burgers, but they will  be very dry. The cooking methods I use in my recipes are generally tailored to the specific recipe. A baked veggie burger will be a much wetter mixture than a stove top burger. If you still want to bake this burger then add more bean liquid than you think is necessary. 
  • If you don't have onion soup mix, you can use couple T soy sauce and a couple T onion powder. 
  • If you are offended by said onion soup mix the don't make the recipe! It is not necessary to email me warning me of the dangers of processed foods. 
Here are some Whole Food Veggie Burger Recipes:

I am making Brown Rice Spaghetti, Bean Balls and Marinara for Dinner probably tonight along with a side of Sauted Kale for dinner. One of my favorite meals ever.

What are your dinner plans? Do you enjoy going out or staying in? I like staying in.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Frugan: Sweet and Spicy Dahl & Perfectly Cooked Rice

I adore Indian food. It is so simple, frugal, healthy and delicious. Dahl is one of my go to comfort foods. Both of my kids love it too. I like to add veggies to the soup for a simple yet complete meal.

Yellow split peas are $.99/lb. You cant beat that! I put together this dish with what I had on hand. The list of spices is long; if you don't have them then feel free to use 2 T of Curry Powder 1/2 t cumin and 1/4 t of cinnamon in place of the long list.

I like using whole seeds in my dahl, but if those bother you then you can dry roast all of the seeds and grind them instead.

Sweet Potato and Yellow Split Pea Dahl

  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 2 t mustard seeds
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • ¼ t cinnamon
  • ½ t coriander seeds
  • ¼ t fennel seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1/8 t hing
  • 2 t turmeric
  • 1/8 t cloves
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 7 cloves garlic, pressed 
  • 3 T finely minced ginger
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 t Tony’s seasoning or salt
  • ¾ c yellow split peas
  • 2 c sweet potato ( 1 large )
  • 1 c waxy potato ( 1 medium )
  • 5 c water
  • Braggs or Soy sauce to taste
  • Juice of 2 limes ( save your zest! ) or 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c cilantro, chopped
  • Siracha to taste if desired
  • Around 6 c chopped greens (optional)


  1. Heat a soup pot to medium, melt coconut oil and add the spices
  2. When mustard seeds pop, add the onion, jalapeno, garlic, ginger, carrot and Tony’s
  3. Sauté  for 10 minutes
  4. Add split peas, potatoes and water
  5. Bring to a boil uncovered
  6. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for a hour or until peas are soft; add greens during the last 10 minutes of cooking if using
  7. Season with Soy sauce, lime juice and cilantro

Basmati rice is perfect with the dahl. Many people are nervous about cooking rice. This is my favorite method:

Perfectly Cooked Basmati Rice
  • 1 c rice
  • 1 ¾ c water 
  • Pinch salt
  • Toast the rice over high heat until it is very fragrant and turns translucent.
  • Add water and bring to a strong boil; cook  uncovered until the water level meets that rice ( around 3 minutes or so )
  • Cover, turn heat off; allow rice to sit covered for 15 minutes
  • Fluff and eat

I'm pleased to say that my Sugar Free Ketchup Recipe has passed the kid test! My sons are brutally honest. While it doesn't match the texture of commercial ketchup, the taste is pretty much spot on. The texture is achieved by using food starches and corn syrup. When you stop eating these ingredients it can take a little while to adjust, but before you know it, you will be satisfied with healthier options. 

Just think of how much healthier people would be, especially kids, if the ketchup they ate was not full of crap! 

I turned the ketchup into a BBQ sauce by adding some mustard, liquid smoke and chipotle. It made a delicious Sloppy Lentil Wrap complete with Nappa Cabbage Coleslaw that I made using my homemade Low Fat Vegenaise Alternative!