My dear friend, Kalisa, made these Lebanese-from-Brazil  “fast food” delights when I visited last weekend.  They are amazing! Esfihas are like little Middle Eastern pizzas and the spices are super interesting!


  • 1 package frozen dinner rolls (she used Rhodes – they’re vegan!)
  • 1 lb ground beef substitute
  • 1 large white onion chopped fine
  • 1 large tomato chopped fine
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Thaw dinner rolls and let rise according to package instructions.


Saute onions until carmelized. Add ground beef substitute, tomato, parsley and spices and heat all the way through.


Take one thawed and risen roll and cut the dough in half.  Roll into a ball and flatten with the bottom of a juice glass. Try to make them as thin as possible.



Place flattened dough rounds on a cookie sheet and press a spoonful of filling into the dough. (This keeps the filling from falling off the final product.)



Kalisa, the hostess with the mostest!

Bake in a 400 degree oven until dough is slightly browned.


Serve with lemon wedges – a squeeze of lemon adds that perfect little bite of acid – and maybe a side of tabbouleh.


Make A LOT of them! You’ll want to eat A LOT and they reheat in the oven beautifully!



Even the poorest college student with limited funds and facilities can have a super filling and nutritious meal!

Microwave a potato, add some black beans, cheeze sauce, olives, salsa, avocado and or whatever else your heart desires! 

Potatoes are not only super filling and CHEAP but are packed with nutrients!

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You can almost taste summer

About 5 minutes of prep work will yield you summery vegetable-y deliciousness.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash and prep veg – in this case cutting the ends off the asparagus, rough chopping kale and cutting tomatoes in half.

Toss asparagus in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Put in oven.

15 minutes later open up a can of chili beans and put on heat to warm.

Top tomatoes with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Turn oven to broil and put tomatoes under broiler. Leave asparagus in oven while tomatoes broil.

Saute kale in a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  As soon as it’s done add some red pepper flakes. The tomatoes and asparagus will be done now, too!

Finish kale and asparagus with some fresh squeezed lemon juice.

We finished up some left over potato salad and it really made it feel like summer.  The only thing that would have made it better was if the chili beans were cooked over a fire!


Easy oil-free pesto

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE olive oil and I am a big fan of fat – but sometimes it’s fun to change up a classic a little.  I wanted to lower the oil and keep the flavor so I leaned on my old friend, the versatile and delectable garbanzo bean!

Can you tell garbanzo beans were on super sale and I stocked UP??

Pesto is mostly the sweetness of basil, the nuttiness of pine nuts and the bite of garlic… traditionally, parmesan cheese is really a salt element and the oil is a vehicle for the rest so they leave a lot of room for veganizing.

(I REALLY needed to use this basil so it was a bit on the dark side.  Don’t be a slacker like me and use your basil right away – the color will be much more vibrant. HA!)

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (always – no one likes to taste can!)
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 3-4 cups basil – pick off leaves and discard stems
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts – toasted in a 350 degree oven
  • 1-1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • salt, pepper

Puree all ingredients in a blender on high until completely smooth – about 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste – but be sure you add at least a teaspoon of salt as it really perks up the flavor!

I never used any salt in my cooking as I did not like the flavor and my body was very sensitive to it (hello, water retention!)  Due to obscenely low blood pressure my doctor advised me to learn to like it and make a concerted effort to acquire a taste for it.  It’s still a bit of an effort, but I must admit that food tastes way better with a bit of salt!

This will make six generous servings – 106 calories, 3.4g fat, 4.2g protein, 13.3g carbs.

Traditional pesto is about 230 calories, 21g fat, 3g protein, 6g carbs.

First we tossed the pesto with some cappellini and diced wheat roast.

If you miss topping your pasta with Parmesan cheese you will be thrilled with this alternative:  toast a little Italian flavored Panko in a dry pan!  Keep it moving so it gets toasty but doesn’t burn.  It adds a perfect little flavorful crunch to the the softness of pasta.

A little red pepper flake really made this yummy!

The rest of the pesto was tossed with rigatoni and sauteed red, yellow and orange bell peppers and red onions.  A little pan roasted spicy veggie tempeh topped it off.

Tip:  if you want a HUGE dish of pasta without all the calories, toss it with an equal amount of veg – like these peppers – cut to a similar size. It will double the size of the serving without adding hardly any calories (and more veg is always a good idea!)

If you’re a fan of garlic this would also make an excellent dip for veggies or bread. Yummmm, bread.

Breakfast scramble

You officially have no excuse not to have fabulous breakfasts!  This is super easy, fast and reheats well!

  • 1 package of extra firm tofu, mostly drained (just cut a slit in the package and drain – no need to get all the water out. a little bit of water makes it easier to mash)
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (I am a garlic scorcher – feel free to use real garlic if you’re not like me)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • olive oil, salt, pepper

Mash tofu with a fork.  I do it while still in the package because I’m lazy and hate dishes.

Saute onions and bell pepper in 1 tbsp olive oil  for a few minutes – until just starting to soften.  Add garlic (powder or fresh), smoked paprika, salt and pepper – saute one more minute.  Add mashed tofu to pan, mix well, and spread out evenly over pan.  Let cook on medium-high heat until water cooks out and tofu starts to brown.  Stir well and let cook again until lightly browned.

I browned a whole wheat tortilla and sliced into strips, then piled on scrambled tofu, some black beans (from a can, again because I’m lazy), some reheated Cheezy Sauce, sliced avocado and some spicy salsa.

1/3 of the tofu scramble batch is less than 200 calories and this entire breakfast has 30g of protein. Vegans really have no problem getting protein.

Even vegans need white trash comfort food

I am obsessed with a casserole recipe that is basically Velveeta, ground beef and macaroni.  Tonight I could no longer resist its siren song… it had to be mine.

Cheezy, Meaty, Macaroni White Trash Casserole

  • 1/2 box (4oz) macaroni – cooked until just al dente and drained
  • 1 package of Gimme Lean, ground beef style – browned and crumbled
  • 1 batch of  cheezy sauce
  • 1 can of condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix up one batch of cheezy sauce (1 can of rinsed and drained garbanzos, 1.5 cups veg stock, 3 heaping tbsp of Red Star Nutrition Yeast, 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tsp garlic powder – puree in blender on low until totally smooth – about 5 minutes), add can of tomato soup and puree on low for an additional 2 minutes.

Put cheezy tomato sauce in a large sauce pan, add onions and bell pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Add cooked and drained macaroni and browned Gimme Lean.  Mix well and transfer to a 2 quart casserole dish.  Put in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Remove when top is toasty brown.  Serve with salad and/or apple sauce for a real white trash touch!

Serves 6 for less than 350 calories!  Take that, Velveeta!

Kale and sausage super-sando with spicy sauce

  • 2 slices of toasted bread, I used super sour rye
  • 2 patties of Gimme Lean, browned
  • chopped kale sauteed in a bit of olive oil and crushed garlic until just wilted
  • Vegenaise mixed with some Frank’s Red Hot sauce (depending on how spicy you like)
  • toasted pumpkin seeds

Pile and enjoy!

Dirty hippy granola

Inspired to eat things I love again (without obsessing over macros), I got craving granola.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE granola but can never find just the right flavors to make me happy.

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • and whatever else your heart desires!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients very well in a big mixing bowl.  You want to be sure that everything is saturated.

Spray non-stick spray on two cookie sheets, divide the granola between the two sheets and spread in a thin layer.  Put on top and bottom racks in oven and bake for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, mix granola and switch racks when you put it back in the oven. Repeat every 5-10 minutes – mixing and switching racks – until it’s all dry and golden brown.

Store in an airtight jar.  Enjoy over yogurt (I have a big tub of coconut yogurt waiting!)

Cheezy pasta with veggies

This is quite possibly the best-tasting-for-the-amount-of-effort thing I have ever cooked.  The family was fighting over seconds.

Cheezy Sauce (you’ll thank me forever)

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • veg bullion cube, dissolved in 1.5 cups of boiling water
  • 3 heaping  tbsp Red Star nutritional yeast
  • 1 scant tsp garlic powder
  • 1 scant tsp onion powder
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Throw it all in the blender and toss with some cooked pasta and frozen vegetables!  Couldn’t be easier!

Haley suggests a shot of Frank’s Red Hot sauce 😉 

The second attempt at Cheezy Sauce was another outstanding success – and I took better pics!

It is PERFECT on veggies with a side of sausage!

Pesto roasted veggies

Last weekend we had some people over for the UFC fights. Since Haley and I were the only vegans (everyone else was carnivorous) I had to make something that was appealing for all. This was a hit.

  • asparagus, chopped in 2″ segments
  • red onion, chopped in large chunks, layers pulled apart
  • sliced mushrooms
  • eggplant, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Place chopped vegetables in a large rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes – until veg is soft but not overcooked.

Real pesto has roasted pine nuts, but I didn’t have any and roasting them would have been more effort 😉

  • 1 clove garlic, skinned
  • 2 large bunches basil, washed and large stems removed
  • olive oil

In a food processor mince garlic. Stuff in all the basil, turn on low and slowly pour in olive oil until a desired consistency is achieved. Scrape down the sides occasionally.

Viola! Homemade pesto! Don’t you look like the gourmand!

Store in a glass jar with a lid. Every time you use some, float a little olive oil on the top to keep the top from oxidizing.

 In a large bowl combine the roasted veggies with a big dollop of pesto. Since this was a main dish for us vegans I added some pan-fried “chick’n” strips. Toss gently until everything is well coated in delicious garlicky pesto.

 Sorry – no nutritionals because I was making such a huge batch and I was winging it.