All I Wanted Was Pizza

Ah, Pizza. Filled with gluten, cheese and meat. So lucious… So NOT a part of my healthy eating plan.

Last week I was craving pizza something fierce, but actual pizza smells gross to me now. The greasy cheese smell actually turns my stomach a bit. Such a sad state of affairs. I went to my trusted standby, Pinterest, and pulled a couple of different recipes to come up with something that fit the bill. The result was actually very tasty!


I combined several recipes to come up with the finished product. The first recipe was for the crust. Vie de La Vegan’s Lentil Pizza Crust.  It was actually very simple and delicious.

I placed 2 cups of dry red lentils in my VitaMix and blended to form a fine flour. I sifted the final results to keep the bigger, unground pieces out of the crust.

I seasoned the flour with 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp Italian seasoning…

… although my lovely glass bottle of Organic Italian Seasoning shattered on the floor, because I am awesome like that. *sigh* I had to use a leftover plastic bottle of Walmart brand I had left in the back of my cupboard. Not ideal, but whatever!
I mixed up the dry ingredients with 2 cups of water.I placed the batter on a hot griddle and swirled it flat with the back of a spoon.

3 minutes on one side and another 2 on the other until they were done.I set them aside and made some Pumpkin Seed Pesto. Pulse 1/2 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) with 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast, and salt and pepper to taste, in the blender. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup olive oil, but I only used about one Tablespoon and the rest water. Blend but don’t liquefy.

Be sure to use fresh basil. You won’t get the same flavor using dried. I had to strip my little kitchen garden plant bare. Poor little thing!

Once it is blended you will have a nice creamy pesto. It is actually much more delicious than I had hoped!  Spoon directly onto the pre-cooked lentil pizza dough. I topped mine with fresh, thinly sliced tomatoes and sliced olives. I wasn’t sure how everyone would feel about the pesto, and since I had some leftover marinara sauce with sautéed mushrooms from the night before, I got a little creative and made a second batch with Cashew Cheese and olives.

The cashew cheese does require a bit of forethought, since the cashews need to be soaked overnight (or at least two hours) before you blend them, but I usually have cashews presoaked in my fridge since I use them so often.  The recipe says you can also boil them for 10 minutes to soften them, but it seems like that might kill some of the nutrients and I am all about the nutrients! To each his own.

Blend 1/2 cup soaked cashews (drained), 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (I prefer the vinegar and in fact used 1 Tbsp.), 1 1/2 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. garlic and 1/2 tsp pepper in a high speed blender until smooth. You can add a bit of water if needed to get it to blend properly. Pour the mixture into a pan and place over medium heat. Stir until mixture becomes a sticky, cheese-like texture. It doesn’t take long. 

Assemble the pizzas.


Place the pizzas in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes until heated through.

We actually found the best way to eat them was a combination of the red sauce and the pesto with the cheese and toppings. It was really tasty!

A small side note that really isn’t so small for me; the end of this month marks 5 months of healthy eating. I am down 43 pounds and feeling great.

I know how much this has helped me and I sincerely hope it has been some encouragement to you, too.

Here’s to health!

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Party Time

Party Time

Wow, 19 days since my last post. I have been a little busy I guess. I had a house full of family visiting and it was amazing, but didn’t leave me much time for extracurricular activities. My sister, nephew and mom were all visiting from out of state and my dad stayed the weekend to join in the fun. My house was bursting at the seams, and so was my heart.

During the nearly 2 weeks of fun, we had a chance to jointly celebrate FOUR birthdays and my daughter’s graduation from high school. It was quite a party.

I tried quite a few recipes and most were fairly successful.

We have varying degrees of veganism/healthy eating in my family now. Everybody has their own needs which makes for interesting planning. My daughter is vegan, but doesn’t mind eating sugar, wheat and soy.  My mom was treating her visit like a vegan spa week, so she was eating along with us for the most part. She, however, has soy sensitivity. My sister has wheat sensitivity and eats very healthy, but includes animal products. My daughter’s boyfriend is a full on carnivore with an abhorrence for most of our vegan treats. Hahaha. My dad loves raw vegan but doesn’t have the same restrictions we do. We all know my son would be happy to binge on Cheezits and Oreos with a big glass of milk.  What’s a girl to do???

Get creative, of course! Behold my cupcake spread! Top left: Vegan organic double chocolate cupcakes with sweet potato fudge frosting Top right: vegan strawberry cupcakes with vegan “buttercream” Bottom: raw vegan chocolate avocado mousse tarts.

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This was the vegan side of the table. Notice my beautiful, go-to party appetizer, cucumber hummus and heirloom tomato bites. Mmmmmmm. I won’t even bother showing you the other side of the table. It was a train wreck of processed crackers, sweets and animal products.

I will provide links to the Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes and the Vegan Double Chocolate Cake with Sweet Potato Chocolate Frosting. None of them were things I can eat, however. The only one I could eat was the Chocolate Avacado Mousse Tarts.  I modified them but I still wasn’t entirely pleased with the outcome. Here is what I did:

The tart crust consisted of oats, raisens, almonds and cocoa powder. I ended up adding a bit of almond butter to help is stick together. 

I pulsed it until it was nice and sticky. I pressed it firmly into the bottom of cupcake liners and stuck it into the fridge to firm up.


While those were chilling, I made the mousse. It was simple to make. Avadado, dates, cacao powder, vanilla, water and coconut oil.

Even though I am usually oil free, I did use one teaspoon of the called for 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil to help it have the proper consistency.

Once it was ready, I spooned the mousse on top of the crust.I chose to forgo the lemon cashew cream (we eat something very similar on a weekly basis in the form of vegan sour cream and vegan ranch, basically savory versions of the same recipe) and went with unsweetened Whipped Coconut Cream instead. I used Trader Joe’s 100% coconut cream. The brand at Walmart had added ingredients that I did not want.

Top tip for Whipped Coconut Cream, make sure you have NO coconut milk mixed in with the the solid cream. Mine would not whip until I blotted the last of the liquid out of the bowl, then it worked. I only used a bit on top of each tart.

The verdict? Meh.

For next time I would actually use my Almond Joy Bites recipe for the crust. I was not a fan of the raisen crust.

I would also tone down the dates in the mousse. 1 full cup was a bit too sweet for me. All in all, not bad. Next time will be better.

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Vegan Chili Mac…and TOENAILS?!?! 

Vegan Chili Mac…and TOENAILS?!?! 

My “30 minutes or less” meal game is really stepping up. I am so excited! I am building a nice little repertoire of quick and easy vegan meals that please *most* of us. Since it has been unseasonably cool in Southern California these past few months, many of my go to recipes require baking. It’s supposed to get into the triple digits in the next few days, so unless I can modify them, they are definitely going into retirement until it cools down again.

I knew I needed to find more dinner ideas so I’ve been spending a few minutes every day searching for new ones. Tonight I discovered a great pin on Pinterest that had a collection of recipes that I will be trying in the next couple of days. I let my son pick the first one. Here is the recipe:

Vegan Chili Mac by the Garden Grazer.

It’s so simple and completely delicious.  Here is what I did.  I used 2 cups quinoa macaroni and cooked it up prior to starting. I found this kind at Costco. I highly recommend it. After it was cooked, strained and set aside, I water sautéed one yellow onion with some minced garlic. Once the onions were translucent I added in the cooked pasta, 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, 1 can of drained kidney beans, 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce, 1 tsp. cumin, 3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast and 2 tsp. chili powder. I mixed and let that simmer for about 10 minutes. I sprinkled it with a bit of Himalayan pink salt.

Then, I rough chopped a couple of handfuls of baby spinach. img_3774I tossed it in, gave it a stir, covered it and let it sit on low another 3 minutes. img_3776.jpg

YUM! Even my son likes it! He and my husband did say they wouldn’t mind if I made the corn on the side (they aren’t huge fans of the sweetness mixed in, although that was my favorite part. Haha!) although they said it is fine with the corn and wouldn’t mind eating it that way again.

For next time, I would reduce the cumin just a little (maybe 1/2 tsp. instead of 1 tsp.) and I will garnish it with chopped olives and avocados.

Besides being quick, tasty and made completely on the stovetop, another huge benefit of this meal is that it is packed with protein. Quinoa pasta, corn, spinach and kidney beans all are high in protein.

I suppose you are wondering about the toenails reference? Well, that is a bit of a side note: I have been seeing some really unexpectedly awesome side effects of this new life style. I expected the reduction in weight (36 lbs and counting) and the reduction in pain (went on Guardians of the Galaxy at Disney’s California Adventure three times in a row and managed to stay until midnight) but what I didn’t expect? My nails are stronger and thicker than they have ever been. Ever.  I used to just peel my toenails instead of clipping them. (Sorry, I know that is really gross!) Now they are so strong I have to use actual clippers.  Also, my dry skin is gone. I have this glossy, healthy glow, especially on the back of my hands. They used to look like lizard skin most of the time. Surprising since I eat almost NO OIL!!!

I suppose I should mention the everything I buy now, with very little exception, is organic. Spices, fruits, veggies, grains, beans, vinegars, nuts, you name it, it’s usually organic. I do think that helps contribute to my overall improving health.

I can’t wait to share more recipes with you! Until next time.

Vegan Cheez Its

Vegan Cheez Its

My poor son. He had been dragged into my vegan lifestyle bit by bit. I have slowly removed all of his beloved processed snacks. As he finishes them, I don’t buy more to replace them. It’s rough being a 15 year old in a house full of health nuts. I do not impose my strict diet on him, but there are lots of nights he eats the same thing as the rest of us just because it is easier for me and he is such a good boy. ❤️ Usually, he isn’t a fan.

Tonight, he came out, holding his phone and giving me the oddest smile. “What’s up buddy?” I asked, beginning to laugh at his comical expression. It was one part glee, two parts cracking up like he just heard a hilarious joke.  “So, I could help but notice you pinned a vegan Cheez Its recipe on Pinterest.” he smirked. I laughed again. “Why yes, yes I did. I pinned that for you! We can make some now if you want to.” “Sure!” was his instant reply.

Into the kitchen we went and gathered up our handful of ingredients. I used The Milimalist Baker‘s recipe. img_3756-1 I used my new Einkorn wheat flour, as well as oat flour and corn meal. As I added in the olive oil he started cracking up again. “What?” I asked. “It looks like a dog peed on sandy ground.” *sigh* Cooking with boys is such a different experience. I love it, though.I used 2 Tbsp. of nutritional yeast and the full amount of salt. (I will use 3/4 tsp. next time.) I did use the baking powder suggested. I added in the rest of the wet ingredients until I had a dough that was wet enough to form a disc.

I rolled the dough out thinly and used a pizza cutter to cut up the dough. It’s late and I’m tired so I didn’t try very hard. Lol. I was going for delicious, not beautiful. We baked them for 17 minutes. The verdict? “If you didn’t tell me they were vegan Cheez Its I wouldn’t have guessed they were, ’cause the aren’t very Cheez Its-y, but they are really good. I would have guessed they are really good vegan crackers. I like them.”

Total win!

Obviously, they look more like Wheat Thins, since I used whole wheat flour, but they have a distinctly garlic and cheese flavor that is really good. They are more crumbly than traditional crackers, but they *are* crackers. This goes in my repertoire for him to snack on.

Since they have wheat and 3 tablespoons of oil, I won’t be able to eat them terribly often, but I *can* eat them. Also, I feel better about my son eating these instead of prepacked chemical crap.

My husband and daughter just tried them and they like them, too! Woo hoo! Yay for keeping my family healthy and happy.

Epic Fail – Redux

Epic Fail – Redux

A while back a shared a post about my  utter failure with making Healthy Chocolate Cake. If you have forgotten, please let me remind you…img_3749.pngWow, just wow. I thought I would give them a try again, this time using an ingredient more in line with the original recipe. Einkorn wheat. “Wait,” you’re probably thinking, “but you are gluten free!”

I have been doing some reading and something I discovered is that most people aren’t actually gluten intolerant. Yes, there are people with Celiac’s, which is a very real, very serious disease that makes you unable to process gluten. Recent studies, however, have shown that most people have trouble with wheat due to the chemical glyphosate, (also commonly known as Roundup) that is sprayed on most wheat crops a week or two before harvest. Sadly, even most organic wheat receives the same treatment. See this article about toxic wheat. It recommended a wheat product that I purchased from Amazon and this is my first wheat in almost 4 months. I will let you know how it goes…

Anyway, on to the recipe. This time they came out of the oven really nicely.  If you want the recipe, see my post from May 10, 2017 “Fail Level… EPIC!”They looked like cupcakes this time! They smelled amazing. Last time I didn’t even bother making the “frosting” since they were such an abysmal failure. This time, I was really hopeful!I followed the recipe exactly. I used a mix of macadamias, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts, as well as almond milk.

Here is the final product:The verdict? Meh

They are moist, and cakey, but not the most delicious thing ever. Yes, they are refined sugar free (they are made with dates, beets, carrots, applesauce and banana as the sweetener), so they are definitely better for you than processed, sugar filled dessert. The frosting is a bit bitter and not very creamy. It was a bit of a disappointment. I think next time I will stick with nice cream when I am in the mood for dessert.

Back to the drawing board.

The Learning Curve

What a strange journey this has been so far…. I have learned quite a bit about myself in the these last three months. The highlights?

  1. Soy hates me
  2. I hate nutritional yeast
  3. I can do this

I am bummed about the soy. It removes more than half of the recipes that are labeled “vegan.” It also makes eating out super hard, but whatever. I would rather ditch soy than feel like a homicidal maniac for the week it takes to clear my system.

I am also a little bummed about nutritional yeast, which is another staple of the vegan diet. Looking for cheesy flavor? Add nutritional yeast. I don’t have anything specific against it, other than it reminds me of my first desperate weeks trying to find things that worked. I made myself a Dijon dressing about 3 days in that was heavy on that particular ingredient and I used it for salad dressing and for veggie dip. Now, whenever I get a whiff of it, I get a knot in my stomach. Brains are weird.

The most important thing I have learned, though, is that I can do this! I have become more resourceful as I go and food choices are becoming easier and less stressful.

Take this evening, for example. Today is my day off, so I usually try to make something a bit more time and labor intensive than on the nights I work. Those nights are the nights I save for meals that take half hour or less, because traffic sucks and I get home later than I would like.

I was planning dinner when my daughter came downstairs and asked if we could dye her hair. She leaves for camp next week and it has become something of a tradition to kick of the beginning of summer by heading to camp with crazy hair. This year she chose a nice shade of raspberry. It takes about 2 hours for the whole process.  Dinner be hanged, I have a colorful quest to fulfill!

So now, her hair is done and off she goes to piano lessons and I am stuck wondering what I should make for dinner. I have a bit more than an hour. I hit up Pinterest. I find Creamy French Lentils with Mushrooms and Kale.  Perfect. I have Trader Joe’s Lentils in the fridge so I can skip the 20 minute lentil cooking step.


I sauté 2 medium shallots in water, then add a Tablespoon or so of fresh garlic.


Then I add 2 lbs. chopped mushrooms and cooked until tender.

A splash (2 tsp or so) of white wine vinegar and just a pinch (1 tsp.) of Tamari (soy hates me, remember?) Then about 3 cups of vegetable broth along with the whole package of pre-cooked lentils. 

I added some pink Himalayan salt, pepper and a bunch of spices. I didn’t measure but here is an approximation:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp crushed fennel
  • 1/2 tsp crushed rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


I simmered about 15 minutes, then took 1/2 the mixture and put it in my VitaMix and blended until smooth. I poured it back into the pot. 

I added 2/3 cup of unsweetened rice milk and a small container of baby kale. 

I simmered until the kale was wilted and served it  up. YUM! For next time, the family asked me to please leave the kale out, it was a bit too bitter for them but the lentils were good and everyone agreed it could go into the regular dinner rotation.

Ah, it’s good to feel a bit of confidence in the kitchen, again.

Oh, and just for the record, I am down 34 pounds. Yay, me!

It’s a Vegan BBQ

It’s a Vegan BBQ

Happy Memorial Day! It is more than just the unofficial beginning of summer, more than a day off to barbecue and party, it is a day to remember those in the armed forces who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

I have many family members who served our country, both at home and overseas, and all of them made it home safely. Not all families are so blessed. So before we get to the food and festivities, be sure to take a moment to remember.  ❤️

Now, onto the fun. This marks my first “summer” holiday as a vegan. So I did my best to make it delicious.

The menu:

  • BBQ pulled “pork” on portabella mushrooms
  • Roasted potatoes and onions
  • Corn on the cob
  • Watermelon

Yes, I have uni-corn holders. Thanks, Ashley!

Here’s what I did. I found jackfruit at Trader Joe’s. I looked up a couple of jackfruit pullled pork recipes and combined them. One was from the Minimalist Baker and one was from Itdoesnttastelikechicken.com.I used a single 20 oz. can of jackfruit, which I rinsed and drained. Ewwww, it’s so ugly!!!

Sauté 1/4 chopped yellow onion with one tablespoon minced garlic about 5 minutes, until onion begins to soften.  Add the jackfruit, along with 1/2 tsp. Paprika, 1/2 tsp. Chili powder, 1 tsp. Garlic powder and a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté 2-3 minutes, then add 1/4 cup vegetable stock and simmer, covered, over medium heat about 10 minutes until the jackfruit is soft enough to crush with a potato masher. Once it is in shreds, add about 1/2 cup or more of BBQ sauce. I used home-made, sugar-free sauce.Simmer another 10 minutes until tender.

My husband and I loved it. It is uncanny how much the taste and texture was like actual pulled pork. My son said it was “on the bad side of weird.”  Honestly, if I had smothered it with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and put it on a white bun it would have been perfection. Haha!

As it was, instead of buns, I made portobello mushrooms on the highest rack of the grill, on low, for 20 minutes. I seasoned them with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. So easy!

At the same time those were cooking, I placed a potato pack and an onion pack on the lower grate. (I only separated them because my son doesn’t care for the onions.) Chop the potatoes and onions into bite sized pieces. Lightly brush aluminum foil with a tiny bit of olive oil. Spread the veggies out and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Seal the packs all the way around.  Wrap with a second layer of foil unless you used heavy duty foil. img_3681Place directly on the lower grate and cook for 20 minutes, turning over half way through the cooking time.

While it wasn’t hot dogs and potato salad, it was pretty good. I would make it again. Yay for BBQ’s and summer.

🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸Happy Memorial Day!🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸