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Chana Saag with Kale

February 11, 2014


One of my favorite traditions at work is our monthly cookbook club. It’s so fun to select a book, pick a recipe and get together with a bunch of other people who love to cook and discuss what we liked and didn’t like about said book. Sometimes it’s an incredibly successful cookbook club, sometimes it’s only okay.  But that’s the point, right? It’s so rare that I get a chance to make more than one or two recipes out of any given cookbook, so getting to taste 10 to 15 recipes at once really gives a feel for what the book is about and the quality of the recipes.

Our most recent selection was Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The book is entirely vegan but the part that really knocked my socks off was the fact that I feel I could serve these recipes at a dinner party to vegans and non vegans alike. The recipes were warm and comforting and incredibly filling. Although there is a fair amount of chopping and slicing and dicing involved in all the recipes, they were all fairly easy to prepare and didn’t require many specialty ingredients. Bonus: I don’t think “vegan cheese” or “vegan meat” was used once!

I left cookbook club this month feeling like I had eaten Thanksgiving dinner, though I didn’t feel weighed down or gross (albeit a little too full) like I sometimes do over the holidays. The food was nourishing, light and hearty all at once, and I fell in love with Isa’s casual and funny way of writing a cookbook.

The Chana Saag with Kale that I made for cookbook club was universally one of the favorite dishes that was prepared, and I couldn’t wait to make it again in my own kitchen to share with you. I tweaked the recipe slightly, mainly by adding more kale and slightly different spices to suit my tastes, but the recipe is incredibly forgiving and easy to adapt based on what you have on hand. However, I would strongly suggest not leaving out the lime juice, because the hit of tangy citrus really brings this dish together.

Chana Saag with Kale
This recipe is adapted from a recipe of the same name from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I fell in love with Isa's version, which calls for kale instead of the more traditional spinach. Kale is heartier and holds up better, which is important for leftovers. Since this makes a lot, there are bound to be leftovers! I like this dish heavy on the kale, but feel free to use less if you aren't a huge fan of kale.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt (plus more to taste at the end)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, more or less depending on desired heat
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) light coconut milk
  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • Juice from 1 lime
  1. In large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned and softened. In small bowl, combine curry powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne. Add spice mixture to onions and cook 1 minute more to toast the spices.
  2. Add in the juice from the tomatoes to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Crush the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot. Add the chickpeas to the pot along with the tomatoes. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once.
  3. Add in the coconut milk and heat through.
  4. Add the kale and cook 5 minutes more or until kale is cooked and softened slightly.





Curried Sweet Potato Hummus

January 10, 2014

It seems like we’ve been in a constant state of football watching over the last three weeks. Does anyone else feel that way? Not that I’m complaining considering my love for football rivals that of my former football player husband. With bowl games and playoff games and the like, we’ve been doing a lot of entertaining as well.

When it comes to entertaining for bowl games and playoff games, I like to keep things pretty simple. Last week I made a big pot of my mom’s amazingly easy chili and served it with corn chips and cheddar cheese. It meant I could keep the soup hot in the slow cooker, people could help themselves when they were hungry, and I could focus on watching the game instead of tending to guests. Which perhaps makes me a bad host now that I think about it.

I’m also a huge fan of serving dips like hummus and layered taco dips because they’re equally as easy and a little more substantial. In the name of mixing things up, I decided to add a little creaminess and sweet flavor to my most recent batch of hummus by using cooked sweet potato and a sweet curry our friend brought back for us from the Philippines when he was home for Christmas. The flavors played so nicely together that I had to find a similar type of curry if you’re interested in buying some for your home. Just follow the link below for a similar curry to the one I used!


Sweet Potato Hummus 
Makes about 2 cups hummus
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet and spicy curry powder (such as this kind)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on the heat level you like)
1/2 medium sweet potato, peeled, cooked and cut into cubes
2 to 4 tablespoons water
Salty chips (such as pita chips) or veggies for dipping

In food processor, combine chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, curry powder, salt, cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Blend or process until well combined and smooth.

Add the sweet potato and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until smooth. Add enough water to reach desired consistency. I used about 2 tablespoons because I like my hummus a bit on the thicker side. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate.

Happy Cooking!

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I recommend and stand behind any products with links listed and receive a small amount of compensation if you purchase a product through these links.


Vegan Pumpkin Cashew Custard

November 4, 2013

Happy Monday, friends! I hope your week is off to a great start. I’ve got the slightest case of the Mondays today, but this week is going to be super busy on the work front, so I better snap out of it quick. Please excuse me if posting is a little slower over the next couple weeks. If nothing else, I’ll be checking in with more life updates and fewer recipes.

Maybe the reason I’ve got a case of the Mondays has something to do with the fact that our weekend was so busy/fun. We took a trip to NW Iowa to help my mom with a weekend of yard work before the snow falls, which included cleaning gutters, trimming back plants and sorting through boxes of stuff in the basement. I may have also discovered my prom dresses in the basement and had fun trying them all on Friday night.

Other weekend highlights:
-Coffee with Kayla. I’m pretty sure we could have chatted all day if we had the time.
-Tasting Victory Bars for the first time! My cousin is launching a new line of vegan and gluten-free nutrition bars and they are amazing. They’re officially launching in January, so look out for more information. And in the meantime, go like their Facebook Page. (pleeeasseee?!)
-Having coffee with our good friends, Cassie and Heath! Always a breath of fresh air to chat with people who have been friends since high school.

Switching gears a bit, I do have a recipe to share today! I made this Vegan Pumpkin Cashew Custard a few weeks ago when I was looking for something a little healthier to satisfy my sweets craving. Although cashew cream of any sort isn’t exactly low calorie, it certainly is much better than sitting down with a piece of pie or a bowl of ice cream. Plus, I love that cashew cream contains a little more protein than other desserts.

If you’re looking for a little something sweet to end your night, I would highly suggest making a batch for the week and helping yourself to a scoop each night. I’ve been topping mine with a little bit of Greek yogurt for a healthier take on whipped cream, but I could also imagine a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs or a drizzle of chocolate sauce making a nice addition.

Vegan Pumpkin Cashew Custard
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 3 hours and drained
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 packets stevia natural sweetener
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  1. Combine all the above ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender (such as a Vitamix) and process or blend 2 to 3 minutes or until nearly smooth.
  2. If you like a little more texture, feel free to process less until you reach your desired consistency. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Spoon into dishes to serve.


Healthy Banana Pudding

August 5, 2013


If I had to pick one dessert to eat for the rest of my life it would be banana pudding. I haven’t always loved banana pudding, since I hated bananas for a good chunk of my childhood. But once I realized the error of my ways and discovered my love for bananas, I was head over heels in love with banana pudding. I still remember visiting my grandmother in North Carolina a number of years ago and being greeted with a huge aluminum casserole dish filled with the most delicious banana pudding I’ve ever tasted. It’s a food memory that will stay with me forever.

While I could easily eat banana pudding every day of my life, I try to show a little restraint by treating myself only now and again. It’s not exactly waistline friendly, until today! And now that I’ve discovered a healthier alternative to my favorite dessert, I’ve been enjoying it a whole lot more often.

Ever since I discovered the tastiness that is tofu pudding, I’ve been crazy about playing around with different ways to enjoy this healthy dessert. I have no idea why it didn’t strike me earlier to use my beloved tofu pudding as the base for a banana-flavored version. The base is made with tofu (silken firm tofu is a must, don’t sub anything else!) and two ripe bananas. Blend them together with a little cinnamon, vanilla extract, almond milk and stevia and you’ve got yourself a crazy tasty dessert.


Healthy Banana Pudding
Makes 2 generous servings
16 oz silken firm tofu
2 medium ripe bananas
1/4 cup almond milk or other milk of choice
2 packets stevia sweetener
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all the above ingredients together in a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until completely smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until completely chilled. Serve with sliced bananas and cinnamon, if desired.

Happy Cooking!


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free & vegan)

June 3, 2013


First up, the winners of the pancake giveaway! They are:
-Sarah (who likes her pancakes with syrup and Nutella)
-Jessica Honcoop
-Kristin Darhower
-Andrea (who likes to make healthy pancakes with whole wheat flour, oats and yogurt)

Ladies, shoot me an e-mail with your address to to claim your prizes!

Lately I’ve become increasingly interested in gluten-free, vegan baking. Not necessarily because I personally need to bake treats without gluten or animal products. But it feels like the next frontier in baking, a wide, undiscovered world of flours, meals and gums, among other things. Gluten-free, vegan baking challenges me, and everything I’ve come to know about baking. Since I was little I’ve been baking with all-purpose flour, eggs and butter. It’s incredibly challenging to break all my previous assumptions about what makes a quality baked good and play around with recipes that are entirely different in method and ingredients.

In the past, I’ve always felt that even the most successful gluten-free, vegan baked goods needed to come with a disclaimer. “This is a really good cookie recipe, for being gluten-free and vegan!”

But last week I finally arrived at an adapted cookie recipe that didn’t need a disclaimer. In fact, I think these cookies may have become my favorite cookie recipe. No disclaimer or excuses necessary. These Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are, plain and simple, my favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookie; they hold their own when pitted against their butter and gluten-laden counterparts. And I’m sure that when you make them (please make them!) you will agree.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free and vegan)
Makes 24 cookies
Adapted from the Baby Cakes Bakery recipe on the Bob’s Red Mill package
1 1/2 cups oat bran (make sure it is gluten-free)
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup ground flax
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or canola oil
5 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (to make this recipe completely vegan, make sure the chocolate chips are vegan)

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
2. In large bowl combine oat bran, all-purpose gluten-free flour, flax, sugar, baking soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon and salt until well combined. In small bowl combine oil, applesauce and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to try ingredients and stir until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheet, rolling between your hands into balls if you want the cookies to be uniform and round. Mixture will feel oily and may take a little effort to keep the dough in round balls. Don’t worry, that’s totally normal.
4. Bake 7 minutes. Rotate baking sheet. Bake 7 minutes more or until cookies are golden brown. Cool on pan 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Baking!

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