Raw Lasagna

rawsagna

A couple times a year I get the urge to do some sort of bodily reset. Whether I’ve been slacking off on workouts or eating too much processed food, a good cleanse helps to get your habits and your palate back on track. Instead of doing something extreme like a 5 day juice cleanse, (which leaves you starving, cranky, and likely to stuff your face when it’s over) I like to do a week or two on a high raw diet. I eliminate everything packaged, cooked, processed, or loaded with sugar, grains, or fat. Instead, I eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and yes, some cold pressed juice too. I do have 1 or 2 liquid meals a day, to give my digestive system a break and I try to drink a ton of water as well (about 75 ounces.) But unlike a juice cleanse, this allows me to ‘detox’, while still having energy to work and exercise. It’s a great boost to the immune system with all those raw vitamins and enzymes. It also helps you really appreciate whole, fresh food again, especially if you’ve been eating a lot of junk!

So for example, here is what I had today:

Breakfast: A tall glass of lemon water, a big green juice with some watermelon slices and grapes on the side.

Lunch: This fantastic ‘Rawsagna’.

Snack: Some cut up vegetables and raw hummus (recipe coming soon!)

Dinner: A big protein shake.

Dessert: A whole fruit popsicle for dessert.

This was all in all about 1200 calories, so I don’t feel deprived or starving, and I know my body is thanking me! I had plenty of energy for a 3 mile run and some chores.

Even if you don’t want to do a ‘high raw’ cleanse for a week, it’s a really good idea to make at least one meal a day from raw foods. This is quite easy to do with a smoothie for breakfast or a big salad for lunch, and I find it especially easy to do in the summertime when turning on the oven sounds like the worst idea ever.

All this week I will be posting raw recipes in case you want to join me in this detox andventure. It seems like it would get really old after a while, but you’d be surprised just how much you can do with wholesome raw food! This Rawsagna has been on my list to make for a couple years now, and it is even better tasting than I thought it would be. I got two thumbs up from the non-raw/non-vegans who tried it too!

It’s easy and surprisingly quick to put together!

Raw Lasagna

Makes 2 large servings.

1 big zucchini, peeled

1 portobello mushroom cap, thinly sliced

2 tbs cold pressed olive oil

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 big beefsteak tomato, thinly sliced

1 bunch basil

for the sauce:

2 ounces of sun dried tomatoes, soaked in water for about 1 hour

1 big beefsteak tomato, diced (or about 6 plum tomatoes)

1 sprig each of thyme, oregano, and parsley

1/2 medjool date

1 green onion, white parts removed, greens roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic

salt and pepper

for the cashew ricotta:

1.5 cups cashews, soaked in water for about 1 hour

1 tb nutritional yeast

4-5 cloves of garlic

2 medjool dates

1 pinch of nutmeg

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

Start by cutting about an inch off of each end of the zucchini, (one end being the tough stem) this way you will get nice rectangular slices. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise. Try to slice as thinly as possible, you want to get at least nine slices out of one big zucchini. Lay the slices on a paper towel to drain as you go, they release a lot of moisture.

Marinate the sliced mushroom with the oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Set the bowl out in a sunny spot so that the mushrooms can ‘super charge’. (They will absorb a large amount of vitamin D this way, just like us. Cool huh?)

Next put all the ingredients for the tomato sauce into a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Then do the same for the cashew ricotta mixture: blend until smooth and set aside.

Now comes time for the assembly: Start by laying three zucchini slices on a plate, overlapping just slightly. Take a couple spoonfuls of tomato sauce and spread it over the slices. Add a few slices of tomato and then some basil leaves. Then layer on some sliced mushroom and finish with some big dollops of cashew ricotta, smoothed out over the mushrooms. Add another layer of 3 zucchini slices, in the opposite direction as the first layer. Then repeat the same steps: tomato sauce, tomato slices, basil leaves, mushroom slices, cashew ricotta, and one last layer of zucchini slices. Top those with a little more tomato sauce and ricotta cheese and voila! Lunch is ready.

If you have any of the ricotta and tomato sauce left over, you can combine them to make a delicious pink cream sauce to use for something else. For example, you can spiralize another zucchini and have a delicious angel hair pasta with tomato cream sauce.

This Rawsagna is so filling, I couldn’t even finish a whole piece! I hope you’ll give it a try 🙂

Can’t fathom the idea of a raw lasagna? Try this traditional roasted vegetable lasagna recipe instead.

raw lasagna with mushrooms

raw lasagna

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Caprese Salad with Avocado and Tofu Mozzarella

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I have really been in the mood for a Caprese salad lately, but I wasn’t quite sure how to replace the mozzarella. After a little research, I found the ‘tofu method’ that others have used, and very skeptically went about marinating my tofu. I was surprised and delighted to find that it is a darn close match in flavor and texture! This salad is so basic and simple, a nice cool treat on a hot summer night. And why the addition of avocado? Just ‘cuz.

Caprese Salad with Avocado

serves 2 as side salads

1/4 block of tofu

1/4 cup olive oil + 3 tbs 

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper

1/2 tsp oregano

1 big tomato

1/2 avocado

6 basil leaves, chopped

3 tbs balsamic vinegar

Slice the tofu into 1/4 thick slices. Combine the oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oregano in a bowl and toss the tofu in it to marinate. Let it sit for about 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.

Slice the tomato and avocado and layer them one at a time with the tofu.

Top with the chopped basil leaves and drizzle with oil and vinegar. IMG_5096

Mung Bean Falafels with Cucumber Tahini Sauce

IMG_4735Have you ever had mung beans? They don’t SOUND like they would be good, but they are now my new favorite bean! They are so yummy— almost sweet like peas, but still very firm and savory. They have insanely high protein and iron content compared to other legumes. This recipe is based on the Ayurvedic Falafels from One Green Planet, but they are a little more punched up with herbs and spices! They say that Ayurveda considers mung the king of beans! Now I know why. Four falafels have 240 calories, about 12 grams of protein, 17% of your daily required iron, 4 grams of fat, and 6.5 grams of fiber, and 39 grams of carbs. They are gluten free and full of anti-inflammatory ingredients like garlic and turmeric. 

You would never guess how healthy these falafels are because they are so tasty. I tried a round of deep frying them, which was delicious, but then I tried baking them and they really were just as good (if not better, less greasy) so that’s the way I would recommend. Whenever I have tried falafels at restaurants, they are like rock hard balls of dry salt, so I wanted to create falafels with a crispy exterior and a multi-dimensional flavor. I had never used potato flour, but I think it really helps with their lighter texture. However, you can use regular flour if you can’t find potato flour. 

Mung Bean Falafels with Cucumber Tahini Sauce

Makes 15 falafels

2 shallots

8 cloves garlic

1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp turmeric

A couple sprinkles of nutmeg

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp black pepper

Juice of half a lemon

3/4 cups dried mung beans

3 tb potato flour

1 tsp baking powder

1tb olive oil

Sauce

3 tbs tahini  

3 tbs coconut yogurt 

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 persian cucumber (or a quarter of a regular cucumber) peeled and minced

A dash of paprika

To cook mung beans, just bring them to a boil with 1 part mung beans, 2 parts water, then cover and lower heat to simmer for 30 minutes. They should be ‘al dente’, not mushy.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, combine all falafel ingredients except the mung beans and blend into a chunky puree. You don’t want it to be perfectly smooth but you don’t want big hunks of garlic either.

Then add the mung beans and pulse until they are just broken down. Don’t puree.

Add the potato flour and baking soda and mix in with a spoon or your hands.

Form the dough into little patties, about 2 big tablespoons per patty. They should basically be a ball, but a little flattened. 

Line a baking pan with a layer of parchment paper and brush both sides of the falafels with the olive oil.

Bake the falafels for about 20 minutes, then flip them and bake another 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you want them to be golden brown on both sides. Cooking time may vary.

To make the sauce, just combine all ingredients.

Serve your falafels on pita, lavash bread, or on a bed of lettuce. Wrapped up as a sandwich with lettuce, diced tomato, diced onions, olives, hummus, garlic fluff, and some Sriracha! They freeze well too, so you can whip up a big batch and have a falafel feast anytime, just heat in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or so. 

falafel

Eggplants Around the World: Moroccan Zaalouk

zaalouk

Aubergine, brinjal, melongene, garden egg, guinea squash, baingan, melanzana… whatever name you call them, eggplants are awesome. Wikipedia tells me that eggplants, being the night shades that they are, are a relative of the tobacco plant, which might explain my addiction to them (although you’d need to eat thirty pounds in order to get the nicotine equivalent of one cigarette, I still think they are crave-worthy, and certainly better for you!) I was looking for a new eggplant recipe to try and came upon a few really cool dishes from other cultures, so this week I’m going to do three posts about eggplant recipes from different ethnic cuisines. It seems that just about every corner of the globe has their own signature dish to showcase the giant purple berry. First up is a tomato/eggplant dip from Morocco, which can be eaten hot or cold. It’s spicy and rich, perfect for scooping onto pita chips or flatbreads. You can also serve it hot over some rice, or rolled up in a lavash wrap with some shredded cabbage for a quick meal. One generous serving of this yummy spread is about 150 calories.

Moroccan Zaalouk

Makes 3 meal sized servings, 6 appetizer sized servings

1tbs olive oil

1 eggplant

3 large ripe tomatoes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp harissa

2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp cumin 

1/8 tsp cayenne

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/3 cup fresh cilantro and parsley, mixed

Juice from 1 lemon wedge

3/4 cup water

Peel the eggplant and tomatoes and chop them up. 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium/high heat and add the eggplant, tomatoes, and spices, stirring occasionally.

After about 20 minutes, add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring. If the mixture starts to stick and dry out, add a splash of water, only 1/4 cup at a time as needed. 

After another 15 minutes, add the cilantro, parsley, and lemon and cook for 5 more minutes. Smash the eggpplant and tomoto a bit with the back of a fork or potato masher to break them down. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Garnish with a little olive oil and fresh chopped parsley if desired. It would also make a complimentary side dish to Moroccan Spiced Stew.IMG_4092

French Lentil, Arugula, and Avocado Salad with Pecan Pesto

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It’s Earth Day tomorrow! Well, really everyday is Earth Day am I right? Eh? But tomorrow’s the official one. My friends and I did a beach clean up this weekend, and tomorrow, I’m going to plant some herbs and vegetables in the yard. One of the easiest ways you can honor Earth Day is to try a plant-based diet, even if it’s just for the day.(Actually did you know that it’a also Earth Month? Just throwing that out there!)  Especially if you are in the drought-stricken state of California like me, it’s so important for us all to actively find solutions and make little sacrifices to better our environment. A salad is the perfect place to start.

To be honest, I stole this salad recipe from the Le Pain Quotidien menu, because I really loved the combination of ingredients, but I can make it at home for a whole lot less money. The thing I like about this salad is that it contains a couple things that I’m not generally fond of (radishes, fennel, yuck) but somehow when it’s all mixed together the flavors are fantastic! This salad has more than 12 different vegetables and herbs, so it’s a nutrient powerhouse. Plus the lentils contribute tons of protein, fiber, and iron.

I used a mandolin to slice the radishes, fennel, and cucumber into paper thin shavings, and I’d like to take a moment to remind you that cooking is dangerous! There’s fire, sharp objects, scalding oil– you have to be very careful. Or else, you end up like me and slice your finger open on the mandolin and have to prepare the rest of your meal with one hand. And type with one hand. And where a rubber glove to wash your hair. So yeah, don’t cut your fingers open like I do, it hurts a lot.

French Lentil, Arugula, and Avocado Salad

Makes 2 entree salads or 4 small salads

4 cups arugula

6 grape tomatoes, diced

4 tbs finely diced red bell pepper

3 green onions, sliced

1 sprig dill, finely chopped

1/3 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced

1 radish, thinly sliced

1/3 cucumber, thinly sliced

1 carrot, grated with a fine cheese grater

1 cup cooked French green lentils

1 avocado, sliced

Pecan Pesto Dressing:

1/3 cup raw pecans

1/2 cup first cold pressed olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

5 cloves garlic

a generous sprinkling of salt

1 bunch basil leaves

Combine all salad ingredients in a big bowl. Put all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. I sometimes replace half the oil with water, just to make it a little lighter, but the oil tastes richer, naturally. Poor the dressing on and toss. This would also be great with some toasted sunflower seeds on top. Happy Earth Day!

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Ratatouille Spiral

Ratatouille

As visually striking as this is, the flavors are humble, mellow, and comforting. I made this for my mom’s birthday, and was so excited to see even the veggiephobes going back for seconds. The best part is, this ratatouille spiral is easier than it looks! Well, if you have a mandolin that is, otherwise it’s still easy but will take a bit longer. We served this with lemony saffron rice, crusty french bread, sausages, and a salad of arugula, strawberries, pine nuts, and balsamic reduction. I also served the ratatouille with some homemade cashew cream sauce for drizzling over the top. Overall a nice meal and not overly rich! You could even make this in a pie crust for an extra special ratatouille pie. When choosing your vegetables, try to find ones that are pretty similar in diameter, which is why the recipe calls for a Chinese eggplant, because it is similar in size to the zucchini and yellow squash. You can use any kind of eggplant you like, but you will want to cut your slices in half or thirds to be uniform with the zucchini and yellow squash. This photo was before it went in the oven, because afterwards, it got gobbled up too fast for pictures. (And it looked about the same.)

Ratatouille Spiral
makes about 6 servings
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 can pureed tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp Italian seasonings
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
A few fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 Chinese eggplants
2 zucchinis
2 yellow squashes
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme
Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and saute 1 more minute, then add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes, adding a splash of water if it starts to stick. Pour sauce into the bottom of a 9” pie pan.
Next cut the woody end pieces off of all your veggies. Set the mandolin to slightly less that 1/4 inch (super duper thin!) and get to slicing- long ways.
If you don’t have a mandolin, that’s ok, just cut very thin slices with a sharp knife. This is a little more time consuming, but not really a big deal.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Now, you will start on the outermost perimeter, and layer your way in toward the center. Pick up a slice, and lay it against the inner wall of the pan, thin peel edge against the bottom. Do this all around, spiraling inward, alternating veggies as you go. They can overlap by an inch or so. The tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan helps to hold them in place.
Keep going until you get to the center, the tight and more upright the slices are, the better. For the very last one you’ll have to roll up the slice like a little cigar and stick it in the center.
Now use a pastry brush to brush the 2 tbs of olive oil all over the top, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme.
Pop it in the oven for about 35 minutes, but keep an eye on it, it’s done when the edges start to brown, the veggies are visibly softened, and the sauce starts to bubble up between the layers.ratatouille spiral

The Cowboy Bowl

cowboy

This Tex-Mex chop salad creation with barbecue sauce is one of my all time favorites. I got the idea, oddly enough, from a tiny vegan Thai restaurant in West Hollywood called Vegan Glory. (That place is amazing by the way.) Since that would be like a 40 minute drive from my house, I decided I had to recreate it for myself. You can use Beyond Meat Chicken, or tempeh, or skip the faux meat altogether. Did you know barbecue sauce makes for an awesome salad dressing? It really does. Especially if you use homemade barbecue sauce. Below you will also find a recipe for fresh Pico De Gallo. 

The Cowboy Bowl

makes 2 servings

6 thin slices of white onion

a few strips of Beyond Meat Chicken, or a couple ounces of tempeh, chopped

1/2 cup + 2 tbs Barbecue Sauce

1 crisp romaine heart, finely shredded

1/2 c shredded green cabbage

1/2 of an avocado, sliced

1/2 cup black beans

1/3 cup organic corn (if frozen, just throw it in a bowl with some warm water while preparing everything else)

Pico de Gallo

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 sprig cilantro, chopped

1/2 of a green jalapeno, minced

1 splash apple cider vinegar

a pinch of coriander

a pinch of salt

In a lightly oiled frying pan, add the white onions and cook over medium for a few minutes, flipping occasionally till they develop some good color and soften. Remove from pan and set aside. Toss your protein of choice in the 2 tbs of barbecue sauce.

Add the protein to the frying pan and cook over medium for a few minutes, until then are heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine all of the Pico de Gallo ingredients and toss to combine. (you will probably have some left over after this.)

In big salad bowls, combine the shredded romaine and cabbage. (the finer the shred, the better.) Sprinkle on the black beans and corn, layer on the sliced avocados. Add the grilled onions and protein, and add a couple big scoops of Pico De Gallo on top. Top it off with the barbecue sauce for salad dressing and dig in!

Some other options might be: corn tortilla chips, some shredded almond cheese, pickled jalapenos, or a little hot sauce.

B.L.A.T. Salad

B.L.A.T. Salad

Behold, a truly awesome, delicious salad! I have taken the last month off from blogging, both for the holidays and to just relax my mind a bit, but I knew when I made this that it would be the perfect recipe to kick off the new year! The flavor dynamics of a B.L.T. are pretty flawless. I think we can all agree on that. But if you are trying to live a healthier life and tackle some resolutions, whether it be low cholesterol, paleo, vegan, high raw, or low calorie, that traditional sandwich is not going to do you any favors. But it tastes so good! That’s where this salad comes in. All the amazing flavor, none of the meat sweats. Plus I’m sure you will find plenty of other uses for the delicious portobello bacon.

I always like to make about 10 resolutions every year, that way if even 3 of them stick, I’ll have made a lot more progress than if I had just made 1 resolution. 2014 was hands down the best and busiest year of my whole life, so I think my resolution strategy worked pretty well. Last year I traveled a lot (Nicaragua, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina, New York) I volunteered at the farm sanctuary and fostered and re-homed a bunch of stray kittens. I explored my city like never before, and worked out more that 2012 and 2013 combined!

This year I have intentions to build on last year: I want to work out even more, (more yoga and hiking!) I hope to learn a couple musical instruments. I want to travel and see more live music. I want to donate all my unnecessary stuff and feel more organized. I want to be kinder and more patient with loved ones and strangers. I want to save money and grow some plants. I want to tackle what I call: Laundry Mountain (a project that I hope to accomplish by 2017 haha) And as always, I want to make and share as much vibrant, cruelty-free, delicious food as possible! Those are just a few of the top items on my list. So far, so good! What are your intentions for the year? I hope you had some great holiday family time, and are starting 2015 with a bang!

B.L.A.T. Salad

makes 2 servings

2 portobello mushroom caps

2 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or first cold pressed olive oil or

1.5 tbs coconut sugar (or brown sugar, or 2 tbs maple syrup)

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbs mesquite salt (or bacon salt, yes it’s vegan!)

a tiny pinch of garlic powder

1/2 tsp paprika (for color)

1 head of romaine

2 roma tomatoes

1 avocado

2 tbs thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup pesto

more black pepper

Scrape out most of the gills from the mushrooms, it’s ok to leave a bit of the darker stuff behind, it even makes it look more bacon-like when it’s cooked, just scrape away 3/4 of gills. Remove stems and cut into very thin (1/4″-1/8″) slices, like bacon.

Spread the sliced mushrooms out in a big shallow bowl and drizzle evenly with the oil, then sprinkle on the sugar and spices. Use your hands to gently rub the marinade in there. You will see the paprika turn the mushrooms into a deep rich red. If you taste it, it should be overwhelmingly salty and smoky and sweet (the flavors dull a bit when cooking so you really want to coat these slices in a greasy spice crust.)

For raw ‘bacon’: set your dehydrator to 115 degrees and lay them on a dehydrator rack, dehydrate about 8 hours.

For baked ‘bacon’ (bakon?): preheat your oven for 350 degrees and lay the mushrooms on a lightly greased pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning once. It’s ok if the get a tiny bit burnt around the edges, it really contributes to the authentic flavor. Allow to cool about 10 minutes, as this helps it set and get a bit crunchier.

Meanwhile, finely shred your romaine lettuce.

Dice the tomatoes and avocados and combine with the lettuce and sliced onions. Then drizzle with some pesto.

Chop the bacon and sprinkle it on top. Sprinkle some more pepper on top and serve immediately. Tossing is recommended, but it looks prettier right before you toss it. 🙂

Option: for a different dressing idea: combine 4 tbs of maple syrup, 4 tbs mustard, 2 tbs of vegan mayo (like Just Mayo or Veganaise) and 1 tbs apple cider vinegar. Or dare I say, use BOTH of these dressings together. Throw on some croutons for a truly authentic and deconstructed B.L.A.T.

Dig in!

blt

 

 

Scrumptious Lentil Loaf

lentilloaf3Mmmm…. Loaf. Ok, so the word ‘loaf’ is not the most delicious sounding thing in the world, BUT if you are craving traditional meatloaf, this plant-based version will definitely hit the spot! The flavor and the glaze particularly are a home run in the nostalgia department. A quick note on the EnerG egg replacements: this stuff is a really great staple to have around. It’s a very inexpensive blend of basically baking soda and tapioca flour. It’s just a baking mix that you add a little water too, and voila, stuff holds together. Follow the directions on the box for how to make an ‘egg’. You could also use a flax or chia ‘egg’ if you like. Two slices of this Lentil Loaf will provide you with about 200 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 20% of your daily recommendation for iron, plus a healthy dose of Lycopene!  Serve this with some mashed potatoes and roasted carrots for a dinner straight out of 1950’s American suburbia. Grandma would approve.

Scrumptious Lentil Loaf

Makes about 12 slices

2.25 cups water

1/2 vegetable bullion cube

2 +1 tbs olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

10 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 red bell, minced

2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped

1/2 large carrot, grated

3 packed tbs chopped fresh parsley

1 cup dry red split lentils

3 tbs tomato paste

A big pinch thyme, paprika, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, pepper

A smaller pinch of cumin

1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats

2 EnerG egg replacers

Glaze:

1 tbs tomato paste

2 tbs brown sugar

2 tsp mustard

3/4 cup ketchup

In a medium pot, boil the 2.25 cups of water and the 1/2 bullion cube over hight heat. Use a spoon to breakdown and dissolve the cube. (Or you can just use 2.25 cups of vegetable stock, I just found that the vegetable bullion had a meatloaf-ier flavor)

Preheat oven to 400.

Once the water is boiling, add the dry lentils, reduce heat to low, and cover. Do not over-cook the lentils, they will turn to liquid mush! The directions on my package said 12 minutes, but check them at about 9 minutes. You don’t want them to have any crunch left, but you don’t want mush. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat 2 tbs of the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan.

Add 1/2 of the chopped red onion, the garlic, the bell pepper,  1 cup of the chopped mushrooms, and the grated carrot to the pan.

Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the parsley and spices and heat another minute or until all the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, or right in the pan if it’s big enough, combine the sautéed veggie mixture with the tomato paste, oats, egg replacers, remaining 1/2 of the chopped onion, remaining 1 cup of chopped mushrooms, and lentils. Stir everything until evenly combined. Give it a taste to see if it needs any seasoning adjustment.

Take a medium baking sheet and grease it with remaining tbs of olive oil. (You can also use a loaf pan.) Scoop all of the loaf mixture and mold it into a loaf shape on the pan. You can make it kind of tall, because it will settle down as it bakes.

In a small bowl, combine the 1 tbs tomato paste, brown sugar, mustard, and ketchup, and stir well. Pour this over the top of the loaf, coating the loaf evenly, and especially piling it high on top, so it can drip all around.

Pop your loaf in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. When you take it out, let it rest for about 8 minutes before slicing.

This was particularly good the next day, as it was easier to slice after being refrigerated overnight. Put a slice on a crusty roll and toast it in the toaster oven for a seriously yummy meatloaf sandwich.lentilloaf1

Easy Tomato Basil Puff Pastries

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If you tend to find yourself entertaining guests at the last minute, frozen puff pastry is a very useful item to have on hand. It certainly isn’t a health food, but it is vegan and a fun indulgence on special occasions. You can make so many different things with it, from appetizers to desserts, and it always looks so beautiful! As you might have already seen, I have a pesto obsession, so I always have some of that on hand too. We always have friends coming and going at our house, which I absolutely love, because there is never a dull moment and always a hungry crowd to test recipes on. My cousin and I made these little appetizers for a family brunch last weekend and it was the easiest of all our dishes.

Easy Tomato Basil Puff Pastries

makes about 20 servings

1 to 2  tbs olive oil

1 package puff pastry, thawed (I used pepperidge farms)

1-1/4 cup pesto

20 grape tomatoes

salt and pepper

Thaw the puff pastry according to the directions. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a cooking sheet with the olive oil.

cut the puff pastry sheets into approximately 2.5 inch squares (or whatever size you like, it doesn’t affect cook time.)

Arrange the pastry squares on the cooking sheet so that they are not touching. You might need to do more than one batch.

Use your fingers to slightly roll the sides of the squares inward about 1/4″ to create little borders.

Scoop 1 tbs of pesto onto each square.

Slice the tomatoes in thirds and arrange on top of the pesto.

Bake for approx. 15 minutes or until they look puffed and golden.

Serve immediately with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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