High Protein, Gluten-Free, Vegan Lasagna

As the weather gets colder, I crave savory, comforting foods, and I know I’m not alone. Whether I’m talking to my own clients seeking help with their plant-based diets or working at my other job (as a clinical dietitian) the general consensus that I’ve found is that cold weather = cravings for comfort food. It makes sense that most people seem to crave heavier meals and carbs in the winter. Limited sunlight means that serotonin production can be decreased causing low mood and cravings for simple carbs. While carbohydrates will improve your mood temporarily, I wouldn’t use this as an excuse to eat a bunch of cookies or a huge serving of mashed potatoes, because that good feeling will only be temporary. In order for your body to naturally produce serotonin and reap the benefits, you need protein. Specifically, protein foods that are rich in the amino acid tryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin. High amounts of tryptophan can be found in tofu, lentils, turkey, eggs, and cheese.

Along with the scientific reasons of why I’m sharing this recipe, I also just love getting nostalgic about food. Growing up, the months of November and December were filled with delicious home-cooked meals that my mom and grandma would make. Being Italian and Jewish (interesting combo, I know), I learned how to make a variety of holiday foods. Lasagna was one of my favorite foods to enjoy around this time of year, and since I love recreating vegan versions of my favorite meals, I decided to share the recipe for this lasagna with a healthy plant-based twist.

Two specialty ingredients that I used in this recipe are Explore Cuisine brand of lentil lasagna sheets and Miyoko’s vegan mozzarella. I found the lasagna sheets at Whole Foods Market, but if your Whole Foods doesn’t carry this, you have a few options. You can custom order it from them (ask customer service, they’re so helpful!), try amazon prime, you can also order it from Amazon without amazon prime, or order in bulk directly from Explore Cuisine brand’s website. For the Miyoko’s mozz, I’ve seen this at a few different places (Whole Foods Market, Fairway Market in the NY-Metro region, I think I’ve seen it at Trader Joe’s, and even smaller grocery stores will sometimes have it in stock). 

For the other ingredients, they’re all pretty basic, and you can find them in your local grocery store. This recipe packs 20 g of protein per serving, 6 g of fiber per serving, and is bursting with flavor. If you make it, let me know what you think!

High Protein, Gluten-Free, Vegan Lasagna

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Ingredients:

*you will need a pan for the stove, non-stick spray, a 9×9/square baking pan and tin foil for this recipe

  • 1 container (8 oz.) Explore Cuisine Organic Lentil Lasagna
  • 1 container (16 oz.) silken tofu
  • 25 oz. marinara pasta sauce (I didn’t make the sauce myself, I used Whole Foods brand)
  • 2 cups frozen spinach, or 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 glove of garlic
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. basil (I used dried, feel free to use fresh if you have)
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano (same as above)
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 oz. miyoko’s vegan mozz

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF
  • Finely chop a clove of garlic and using 1 tsp. of olive oil, and heat on low-medium setting in a pan on the stove
  • Add spinach and cook on low-medium heat for a few minutes
  • Remove spinach + garlic from the stove and place on the side for later
  • Drain silken tofu by pressing down with a paper towel, remove the tofu from the container and continue pressing down with a paper towel. The tofu will be soft in consistency, so don’t worry about the slightly off-putting, shapeless consistency
  • Spray the 9×9 inch baking pan with non-stick oil spray or lightly grease the pan with additional oil (use vegetable/safflower oil instead of olive oil which has a low smoke-point)
  • Place 3 sheets of lasagna on the pan so that the pan is covered, next add a layer of tofu, and a sprinkle of dried herbs (oregano, basil), add a little nutritional yeast, add a thin layer of the spinach-garlic mixture. Cover in a generous amount of sauce.
  • Add the next layer by placing 3 lasagna sheets in the same order as above, and repeat the sequence so that you have multiple layers of lasagna sheet-tofu-herbs-spinach-sauce. The final layer should be of 3 lasagna sheets. Top this layer with a generous amount of sauce, add pieces of Miyoko’s cheese (you could also shred it using a cheese grater), and add additional herbs/nutritional yeast if desired
  • Use a sheet of tin foil to cover the top of the pan, making sure the tin foil does not come into contact with the lasagna. This ensures moisture is locked in, without this, you may find that the top of your lasagna is dried out
  • Place in the oven and bake @ 375º for 40-45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool a little, and cut into 4 squares
  • Enjoy! Save the remaining by covering completely and store in the fridge for up to 4 days

-Jess

Secret Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Protein Bars (Vegan + Gluten Free!)

I love a good protein bar, but I don’t love paying up to $3 for a single serving bar that’s often lacking in wholesome ingredients. This weekend I made my own protein bar that tastes like peanut butter cookie dough–and is packed with fiber, protein, and healthy fats. My version of the perfect protein bar uses Vega brand protein powder, and chickpea flour (the “secret” ingredient–clearly I’m not good at keeping secrets for long!). Let me know what you think if you try the recipe.

IMG_1193

Vegan/Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Protein Bars

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand) Note: You can also use oat flour, which I’ve made too, if you prefer a more mild flavor
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 3 scoops Vega Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1/2 cup natural, smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Trader Joe’s brand
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Directions:

Mix all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) together in a large bowl, use your hands to mold into a dough. Line a pan/cooking tin with parchment paper and mold the dough into a layer. Then, using your hands, place the chocolate chips into the dough, pressing down so the chocolate chips become embedded in the mixture. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer, cut into squares, or rectangles and enjoy! I loved cutting these into tiny squares and putting them on PB toast and in my morning almond milk yogurt.

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-Jess

Peanut Butter and Jam Overnight Oats

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know how much I love overnight oats (check out my other overnight oats recipes here and here). I love overnight oats because prepping them the night before saves time in the morning, which means more sleep and therefore, more happiness. I also love eating overnight oats during the summer because I eat mine cold and its makes for the perfect summer breakfast. I decided to add peanut butter and jam to my oats a few days ago and I think I’m officially in love with this combo. To add some extra nutrition (fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals), I also added blueberries, strawberries and a few cherries. Here’s the how-to on creating a delicious PB and J oat-filled breakfast.

Peanut Butter and Jam Overnight OatsIMG_0156

Ingredients (serves 1-2):

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats, use gluten free oats if you’re following a GF diet
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, add a little more liquid for less thick oats
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter
  • 4 cherries, pitted, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 5 strawberries
  • 1 tbsp. of your favorite jam or preserves

To Prep (do this the night before you plan on eating the oats)

  • Measure all ingredients
  • In a bowl or mason jar, mix together oats, vanilla extract, almond milk, and stir in peanut butter
  • Add the layer of fruit
  • Refrigerate for about 8 hours or longer
  • Top with your favorite jam or preserves and enjoy (no need to heat)

I hope you love these oats as much as I do. If you love this recipe, follow me on instagram @vitaminvalentine for more delicious food creations.

 

-Jess

Green Garden Vegan Alfredo

I was inspired to make this dish because of two things 1. I really wanted to somehow recreate a canned version of vegan alfredo sauce that I once tried, and 2. I spent the day in my grandma’s garden and came home with a bunch of fresh produce ready to be put into one of my kitchen creations!

Tomatoes fresh off the vine!

Tomatoes fresh off the vine!

The following recipe might take some time to cook, but it’s worth it!

The Sauce

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup yellow onion, thinly chopped
  • ¼ cup (or less) unsweetened, plain soy milk
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • several leaves of fresh basil, or ½ tsp. dried basil
  • several leaves of fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup raw, soaked whole cashews
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

Directions:

  • Before starting anything, soak the raw cashews in a bowl with warm water for a few hours.
  • Well, don’t just sit there. Find something to do during those few hours 😉
  • Chop the onion and garlic
  • Add olive oil to a large pan, and add onion and garlic. Cook on low heat.
  • In a blender, blend the cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs together. If needed, add a little of the soaking water into the cashew/herb mixture to blend into a very thick liquid
  • Add the cashew mixture to the pan containing the oil, garlic, and onion. To obtain a thick, creamy mixture, add a little plain soymilk and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low until the mixture is a thick liquid, uniform in texture.

The Veggies (to sautée):

  • ¾ cup cut baby bella mushrooms (or use regular large portabella mushrooms and cut into small pieces)
  • ½ cup onions, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, each one halved
  • several leaves of fresh basil

Directions:

  • Use non-stick cooking spray or a tsp. or two of olive oil to grease a pan
  • Add onion and garlic, and cook on low-heat
  • As the onion and garlic cook, add in mushrooms, kale, and halved baby tomatoes
  • Cook for a few minutes and for the last minute or so, heat the basil in the pan (there will be some discoloration of the basil as it cooks, that’s ok!)

The Pasta

  • 4 oz. of your favorite fettucine noodles. I used a special edamame-flour noodle found at a specialty health food store (that I happen to work at), but feel free to use whole wheat fettucine, brown rice fettuicine, etc.
  • Boil water in a pot, and cook noodles until tender.
  • Drain when done and allow a few minutes to pass so that all the moisture drains.

The Final Product

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Add the veggies to the pasta and fold in the alfredo sauce. Serve on a plate or bowl and top with basil leaves. Add pepper to taste and enjoy!

-Jess

Eat Local: Mexican Inspired Summer Salad

One of the best things about summer is that it’s a great time to use ingredients that are grown locally. Shopping at farmers markets and stores that support community agriculture is one way to live healthier for yourself and for the planet. The following recipe was inspired by local tomatoes, corn, and beets. This recipe is vegan, gluten free, and makes a great main course, side dish, and can also be used as a dip or cracker topping. Whichever way you eat it, enjoy it!

Mexican Inspired Simple Summer SaladIMG_6567

Ingredients:

  • 2 beets, peeled
  • 1 ear of corn, cut off the cob (note: I didn’t cook the corn I used, but if you want, you can also boil it along with the beets).
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 can of black blacks, drained
  • juice of 1 lime
  • cilantro (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Boil water in a pot, and while you’re waiting, peel the beets and cut the other ingredients. The avocado and tomato can be diced or cubed. Remove the corn from the cob and set aside ingredients.
  • Place the beets in the boiling water and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes or until soft.
  • Remove the beets from the boiling water and allow to cool. Then, cube the beets using a knife.
  • Drain the black beans, and mix the corn, beets, tomato, and avocado together.
  • Add the lime and orange juice, salt and pepper, and optional cilantro. Allow to marinate for a bit (the amount of time is completely up to you!)
  • Enjoy as a main course by adding this to taco shells, or enjoy as a side dish.

-Jess

Maple-Nut Chocolate Chip Blondies

FullSizeRenderIf you haven’t noticed, I’ve been in a baking kick for the last few months. Something about the colder months makes a warm baked good even more tasty (and I don’t think anyone will ever complain about the scent of freshly baked cookies/muffins/bars etc. filling up the house). My latest recipe is a combination of a few of my favorite things: maple syrup, nuts, and chocolate chips! I made these in bar-form, but if you’d prefer a cookie, you can simply use a cookie sheet instead of an 8×8″ baking pan. You can also swap gluten-free flour for the wheat flour if you’re following a gluten-free diet.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour + 1 cup regular white baking flour (or, use 2 cups of brown rice flour or gluten-free baking flour if you’re on a gluten-free diet)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. dark molasses
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup earth balance vegan buttery spread (melt in the microwave)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I found them at trader joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans and/or walnuts
  • 1/4 cup gluten free or regular oats
  • cinnamon (to be sprinkled on top)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oats
  • In a smaller bowl, combine the maple syrup, molasses, earth balance spread, apple sauce, almond milk, and vanilla extract
  • Mix the contents of the smaller bowl into the larger bowl, mixing well until uniform in consistency
  • Add the chocolate chips and nuts into the mixture
  • Spray an 8×8″ baking tin or cookie sheet with nonstick spray, spoon the batter into the pan or scoop the batter to create cookie shapes if you’re making the cookie version
  • Top with sprinkled ground cinnamon and bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool, cut (if you’re making bars) and enjoy!

-Jess

 

Vegan Gingerbread Muffins

Just because the holidays are over, doesn’t mean you have to get out of the holiday spirit! If you went overboard on cookies and other sweet things for the past few weeks but can’t get rid of that gingerbread craving, don’t fret. The following recipe is sure to delight gingerbread fans year round and because it’s healthier than a cookie and relatively low in calories, you can have your cake and eat it too ;). It’s of course vegan, and can be made gluten-free by using brown rice flour instead of whole-wheat.

Vegan Gingerbread Muffinsphoto.PNG-14

Ingredients (makes 9-12 muffins):

  • 2 cups whole wheat, spelt, or brown rice flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. dried ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (add more if the consistency is too dry)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with muffin paper or spray with nonstick spray
  • Measure dry ingredients and add together in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
  • Measure wet ingredients (molasses, applesauce, almond milk) and add to the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix together well until the batter is uniform in consistency.
  • Using an ice cream scooper or large spoon, spoon the batter into muffin tins
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. The muffins are ready when a toothpick or fork can be inserted into the center and comes out dry.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and enjoy!

-Jess

Feed Your Soul!

I’m finally done with another semester of being a nutrition student, yay! This semester was probably my toughest one yet because of the amount of courses I decided to take, along with yoga teacher training, balancing a job, and trying to fit in time for my own yoga practice. One thing that definitely helped me this semester was fitting in time to de-stress. Yoga helped, as did some other activities, such as baking, spending time outdoors, and curling up with a good book. If you find yourself overwhelmed, I recommend doing some activities that take your mind off whatever is stressing you out. During my finals week, I realized how important it is to do things that feed your soul instead of focusing either exclusively on work/obligations or doing things that provide a sense of fleeting fun.

Although technically the following recipe isn’t a “baked good”, it still kept me occupied in the kitchen and turned out to be a really healthy, filling little treat. Coming up with cheaper alternatives to my favorite packaged snack foods is now an official hobby, so I present to you, my raw balls. Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. These delicious balls are made of (mostly) all raw ingredients and are chock full of healthy, plant-based fats and fiber. They also make a great present if you haven’t bought your holiday gifts yet.

 

Raw Vegan Ballsphoto-48

Chocolate Chip Variation

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups medjool dates (make sure you take the pit out of them!)
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s sells a vegan version)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine pitted dates, nuts, and vanilla extract. Transfer to a food processor and process/pulse for a minute or two. The mixture should be easily moldable with your hands. If the mixture is too sticky, add a few more nuts by the tablespoon, and continue to use the food processor. If the mixture has too many nuts and won’t mold together with your hands, try adding a few more pitted dates. Transfer back into the large bowl and add chocolate chips. Mold into ball shapes with your hands and refrigerate. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cherry Variation

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pitted medjool dates
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder

Directions:

Combine pitted dates, nuts, dried cherries, and cocoa powder together and transfer to a food processor. Process until blended for about a minute of two. If the consistency is too dry and the mixture won’t mold with your hands, try adding a few more dates. If it’s too sticky, add a few more nuts by the tablespoon. Transfer to a bowl and then using your hands, mold the mixture into ball shapes and refrigerate. Enjoy!

-Jess

Mad About Muffins

Greetings readers! I’ve been busy with school, yoga teacher training, and a bunch of other stuff (like jewelry making…but I’ll discuss that a little later) hence why I haven’t posted much lately. One might think that being busy means that there’s no time to create healthy, delicious recipes, but cooking and baking is a priority for me. Not only because making healthy food is a necessity, but also because I’m a firm believer in doing activities that bring me joy, so even when I’m busy I try to make some time to play around in the kitchen. Tonight I made two really healthy muffin recipes that I’m sharing here. Both recipes are vegan, oil-free, and can be made gluten-free.

Blueberry Oat Muffinsphoto 1.PNG-2

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat, spelt, or brown rice flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or more. Aim for thinner than cookie batter but thicker than pancake batter)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 cup blueberries

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Measure dry ingredients and add together in a large bowl
  • Measure and mix in wet ingredients
  • Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups, or use spray oil to prevent sticking of batter
  • Using a spoon, scoop batter into each cup and bake for 20-25 minutes
  • Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy!

Banana Walnut Muffins

Indulging in a banana walnut muffin as I type this post!

Indulging in a banana walnut muffin as I type this post!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat, spelt, or gluten-free flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or more, depending on the consistency. Aim for thinner than cookie batter but thicker than pancake batter)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 bananas, chopped up or pureed
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Measure dry ingredients and add to a large bowl
  • Measure wet ingredients (I included bananas and walnuts in here, even though technically they’re “dry”. What can I say, I live my life by my own rules 😉 )
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a bowl
  • Line a muffin tin or use muffin cups and transfer muffin batter to the tin/cups using a spoon
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool, and enjoy!

As I mentioned above, I’ve been making a lot of beaded jewelry as of late (I find doing crafts to be a great way to procrastinate and a pretty decent stress-reliever!), so if you love both delicious food pictures and are interested in buying some of my crafty creations, follow me on instagram @vitaminvalentine

Falling for a Fall Recipe

I think fall is officially my favorite season in terms of seasonal produce. If you’ve read previous posts, you know that I love pumpkin. I also love kale, spaghetti squash, and tofu seems to be my go-to source of protein as of late. So what better way to enjoy my favorites than combine them in an incredibly nutritious, seasonal recipe. The following recipe is high in protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and doesn’t take too long to cook either. If you don’t have fresh pumpkin, feel free to use canned (just make sure you’re using pure pumpkin puree).

Spaghetti Squash with Pumpkin-Crusted Tofu and Kale (serves 2-3)photo-47

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (if you’re unfamiliar with what it looks like, it’s yellow and kind of football-shaped)
  • 3 cups kale
  • 6 oz. firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup onions
  • 1 cup pumpkin (softened and then pureed using a food processor/blender. Alternatively, use canned pumpkin. Honestly, I used canned pumpkin and it worked well)
  • juice of one lemon
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • fresh or dried ginger (about 1-2 tsp.)

Directions:

  • Cut the spaghetti squash in half (the long way). Take a sharp fork or piercing device and poke holes to aerate the squash during cooking.
  • Place the squash halves (soft side facing up) in a microwave safe dish and add  1 cup of water, dividing half of the water beneath the squash and the remaining water poured into the exposed soft sides of the squash. Cover with either a piece of paper towel or press and seal wrap.
  • Heat in the microwave for 12 minutes
  • As the spaghetti squash is cooking, cut, drain, and dry tofu into smaller pieces (the size of the tofu depends on your preference)
  • Combine measured, soft pumpkin with tamari/soy sauce, olive oil, lemon and orange juices, vinegar, and ginger
  • Spread the pumpkin mixture over the tofu so that each piece if saturated in the mixture. You can also marinate the tofu in this mixture overnight for more flavor
  • As you let the tofu sit in the pumpkin mixture for a few minutes, cut the kale and onions into smaller pieces
  • In a large saucepan, spray the bottom with a little spray oil or lightly oil the pan and then add the tofu/pumpkin mixture, kale, and onions. Cook on a low-medium heat setting, just so the tofu is lightly browned and the kale and onions have softened
  • After the squash has finished cooking, remove from the microwave and allow to cool. *Important to keep in mind: the squash is going to be extra hot, especially as you remove the squash “innards” (my weird little name for the spaghetti-like insides). Take this time to taste the tofu-pumpkin/kale combo and feel free to adjust any spices, oils, or accompaniments that you feel would complement the dish.
  • After the squash has cooled a bit, take a fork and remove seeds. The rest of the spaghetti-like strands should be easy to remove. Place on a plate and top with the pumpkin-tofu, kale, and onions.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

 

-Jess