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September 7, 2001

Greetings,

Well it's that time again here in Ohio, time to bid farewell to the hot days of summer and say hello to the chilly and colorful fall season. For many of you with children, this changing of the seasons also means the return to school. Time to stock up on supplies and start thinking about what to pack for lunches. Last year, I did an installment on healthy school lunch ideas, and the response to it was overwhelming. In fact, vegan food ideas for children would be among the top ten most commonly asked questions that I receive here at the Vegan Chef site.

I must confess that I am not surprised. The foods offered in most schools here in the United States are a far cry from healthy and nutritious, at least that is the case here in the Midwest. They offer very little in the way of fresh fruits, vegetables, or whole grains, and rely heavily on meat and dairy products. Not exactly what children need in order to grow up and lead healthy lives. A well balanced vegan diet full of a variety of vegetables, fruits, and grains is the best way to start a child down the path to good health and nutrition.

So with this installment of recipes, I offer up a wide variety of nutritious lunch ideas to appeal to even the most finicky taste buds and hectic schedules, and hopefully a few of them will find their way into your own lunch as well. As always, be good to one another, and remember... eat your veggies! :-)

 
 

Pepper Divider

 

Golden Vegetable Noodle Soup

2/3 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
3 cups water or vegetable stock, divided
1 - 15 oz. can butter beans or other white beans, drained, and rinsed
1 1/2 cups Swiss chard or spinach (or other greens), washed well, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup cut corn, fresh or frozen
1/3 cup orzo or small shell-shaped pasta
pinch of turmeric
1 T. nutritional yeast flakes
1 t. mellow miso
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium pot, combine the onion, carrot, celery, and saute the vegetables in 1-2 T. water for 3 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, place the butter beans and 1 cup of the remaining amount of water, and process until smooth and creamy. Add the pureed mixture, the remaining approximately 2 cups water, Swiss chard, corn, orzo, and turmeric. Stir well, bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the vegetables and orzo are tender. Add the nutritional yeast flakes and miso during the last two minutes of simmering time. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed.

Serves 4

 

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Apricot, Orange, and Date Jam

1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup water
1 t. orange zest
1 cup dates, pitted

In a small saucepan, combine the apricots, orange juice, water, and orange zest, and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, add the dates, and pulse process to form a thick spread. Transfer to an airtight container and chill for several hours to allow the flavors to blend. Stored in the refrigerator, it will last for 1 week.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

 

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Almond Nut Butter

2 cups raw almonds
1-2 T. safflower oil, optional

Begin by blanching the almonds. In a medium saucepan, place 4 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Add the almonds and cook for 1 minute to blanch them. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside for 3 minutes to cool. Remove the almonds from the water, squeeze each almond between your thumb and forefinger to remove their skins, and set them aside for 5 minutes to dry and cool. Place the almonds in a non-stick skillet and cook them over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the almonds to cool. Transfer the cooled almonds to a blender or food processor and process for 1-2 minutes to finely grind them to a powder. Scrape down the sides of the container. Continue to process the almonds an additional 1-2 minutes, adding some safflower oil, as desired, to form a smooth and creamy paste. Transfer the almond butter to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

*Note: you can substitute other nuts such as hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, or peanuts to make other nut butters using the same procedure.

Yield: 1 Cup

 

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Almond Mayonnaise

1/3 cup raw almonds
1 T. nutritional yeast flakes
1 t. lecithin granules or 1 T. liquid lecithin
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. powdered kelp
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup safflower oil
3 T. water
4 t. apple cider vinegar
4 t. lemon juice

Begin by blanching the almonds. In a small saucepan, place 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Add the almonds and cook for 1 minute to blanch them. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside for 3 minutes to cool. Remove the almonds from the water, squeeze each almond between your thumb and forefinger to remove their skins, and set them aside for 5 minutes to dry and cool. Place the almonds in a blender or food processor and process for 1-2 minutes to finely grind them. Add the nutritional yeast, lecithin, onion powder, garlic powder, kelp, and salt, and process for 30 seconds to combine. In a small measuring cup, combine the oil and water, and add the mixture to the blender in a slow stream while the machine is running. Scrape down the sides of the container, add the vinegar and lemon juice, and continue to process the mixture an additional 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and chill for 30 minutes or more before using, to allow the flavors to blend. Use as a replacement for soy mayonnaise in recipes, also as a condiment or spread on sandwiches, a dip for raw veggies or chips, or a sauce for vegetables and grains.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

 

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Carrot, Currant, Orange, and Sunflower Seed Salad

1/2 cup apple juice
2 T. tahini
1 T. maple syrup
1 T. apple cider vinegar
pinch of cinnamon
2 cups carrots, shredded
1 orange, peeled, cut into segments, and each segment cut into three pieces
1/3 cup currants
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

In a blender or food processor, combine the apple juice, tahini, maple syrup, vinegar, and cinnamon, and process for 1 minute or until smooth and creamy. In a bowl, place the remaining ingredients, pour the dressing over the top, and toss gently to combine. Store in the refrigerator.

Serves 3-4

 

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Broccoli, Tempeh, and Tomato Salad

1/3 cup sunflower seeds
4 oz. multigrain tempeh
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 T. olive oil
2 t. tamari or soy sauce
4 cups broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup cherry tomatoes, destemmed, and cut into quarters
1/2 cup Almond Mayonnaise (see recipe above) or vegan soy mayonnaise
1 T. unbleached cane sugar
1 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegan cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup raisins

In a non-stick skillet, place the sunflower seeds, and cook for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Transfer the sunflower seeds to a small bowl and set aside. Using your fingers, crumble the tempeh into the same skillet used to toast the sunflower seeds. Add the red onion and olive oil, and saute the mixture for 5-7 minutes or until the tempeh is lightly browned and the onion is tender. Add the tamari and cook the mixture an additional 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat, set aside, and allow the mixture to cool completely. In a large bowl, place the broccoli, tomatoes, and the cooled tempeh mixture, and toss lightly to combine. In a small bowl, place the Almond Mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar, and stir well to combine. Add the mayonnaise mixture, along with the remaining ingredients, and toss gently to combine. Cover and chill for 30 minutes or more to allow the flavors to blend before serving.

Serves 3-4

 

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Eggless Egg and Veggie Salad

1 lb. firm tofu, patted dry
1/2 cup Almond Mayonnaise (see recipe above) or soy mayonnaise
1 1/2 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. turmeric
1/8 t. pepper
1/2 cup red pepper, destemmed, deseeded, and diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/3 cup radishes, cut into quarters lengthwise, and sliced
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

Wrap the block of tofu in a clean, lint-free towel. Place a colander in the sink or over a bowl, place the towel-wrapped tofu in the colander, and place a large plate over the top of it. Place a large can or something very heavy on top of the plate and leave tofu to sit for 30 minutes. This technique makes the texture of the tofu much firmer. Using your fingers, crumble the pressed tofu into a bowl. Add the Almond Mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, onion powder, turmeric, and pepper, and stir well to thoroughly coat the tofu. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover and chill for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend. The color of the eggless egg salad will turn more yellow also as it chills. Use as a filling for sandwiches, salads, and vegetables.

Yield: 3 Cups

 

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Whole Wheat Calzone Dough

1 1/3 cups warm water (110 degrees)
3 T. olive oil
1 - 1/4 oz. pkg. active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 t. salt
olive oil

In a food processor, place the warm water, olive oil, and yeast, and process for 30 seconds to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes or until foamy. Add both types of flour and salt, and process an additional 1 minute or until the dough comes together to form a ball. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead the dough for 5-7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl with a little olive oil, transfer the ball of dough to the bowl, and roll the dough around the inside of the bowl to thoroughly coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean towel, place it in a warm place, and leave the dough to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

After the dough has doubled in size, punch down the dough, and turn it out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough a few times, place the bowl over the top of the dough, and leave it to rest for 20 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough to form a 6-inch circle. Place filling of choice on one half of each circle of dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Brush a little water around the edge of each circle of dough. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling, crimp the edges closed with your fingers, and then fold up the edges a 1/2-inch to form a decorative border. Transfer the filled calzones to a non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the calzones to cool for a few minutes before serving. Can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 Calzones

 

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Marinara Medley Filled Calzones

1/2 recipe of Whole Wheat Calzone Dough (see recipe above)
3/4 cup onion, diced
3/4 cup green peppers, destemmed, deseeded, and diced
1 t. olive oil
1/2 cup mushrooms, cut in half, and sliced
1/2 cup zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise, and sliced
2 t. garlic, minced
3/4 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 T. nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 t. dried basil
1/4 t. dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare the Whole Wheat Calzone Dough according to the recipe instructions through the rolling out procedures. Cover the 4 rolled out calzones with a clean towel so that they won't dry out while preparing the filling. In a non-stick skillet, saute the onion and green pepper in the olive oil for 2 minutes to soften. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic, and saute the mixture an additional 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, season the mixture to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the mixture for 2 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove the skillet from the heat, set aside, and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Divide the filling evenly among the rolled out calzones, placing it on one half of each circle of dough and leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Brush a little water around the edge of each circle of dough. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling, crimp the edges closed with your fingers, and then fold up the edges a 1/2-inch to form a decorative border. Transfer the filled calzones to a non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the calzones to cool for a few minutes before serving. Can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 Calzones

 

Pepper Divider

 

Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Walnut Filled Calzones

1/2 recipe of Whole Wheat Calzone Dough (see recipe above)
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup red pepper, destemmed, deseeded, and diced
1 t. olive oil
1 T. nutritional yeast flakes
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. dried dillweed
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Prepare the Whole Wheat Calzone Dough according to the recipe instructions through the rolling out procedures. Cover the 4 rolled out calzones with a clean towel so that they won't dry out while preparing the filling. In a non-stick skillet, place the walnuts, and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Transfer the toasted walnuts to a small bowl and set aside to cool completely. In the same skillet, saute the broccoli and red pepper in the olive oil for 2 minutes to soften. Roughly chop the cooled walnuts. Add the walnuts, along with the remaining ingredients, to the skillet. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and saute the mixture an additional 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender. Remove the skillet from the heat, set aside, and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Divide the filling evenly among the rolled out calzones, placing it on one half of each circle of dough and leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Brush a little water around the edge of each circle of dough. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling, crimp the edges closed with your fingers, and then fold up the edges a 1/2-inch to form a decorative border. Transfer the filled calzones to a non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the calzones to cool for a few minutes before serving. Can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 Calzones

 

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Vegan Johnny Marzetti

1/2 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)
2 cups water, divided
1/2 cup lentils, sorted, and rinsed
8 oz. elbow macaroni
3/4 cup onion, diced
3/4 cup green pepper, destemmed, deseeded, and diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 T. olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, cut in half, and sliced
1 T. garlic, minced
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. dried oregano
1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 T. vegan soy parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, place the TVP, pour the hot water over the top, and set TVP aside to rehydrate. In a small saucepan, place 1/2 cups water, and bring to a boil. In the same saucepan, place the remaining water and lentils, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the lentils for 30 minutes or until just tender. Remove the saucepan from the heat, drain the lentils (save the cooking liquid for use in soups), and set aside. In a large pot, cook the elbow macaroni in boiling water for 5-7 minutes or until al dente, drain well, and set aside.

In the same large pot, saute the onion, pepper, carrot, and celery in the olive oil for 3 minutes to soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute an additional 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender. Add the rehydrated TVP, basil, and oregano, and saute for 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, and stir well to combine. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, add the cooked lentils, macaroni, and vegan parmesan cheese, and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Serves 4-6

 

Pepper Divider

 

Soft Maple Oat Pretzels

1/2 cup + 1 T. water, divided
1/4 cup maple syrup, divided
3/4 cup soy milk, rice milk, or other non-dairy milk of choice
2 T. safflower oil
1 1/2 cups rolled oats, divided
3-3 1/2 cups unbleached flour, divided
1 - 1/4 oz. pkg. rapid rise active dry yeast
1 1/2 t. salt
safflower oil

In a small bowl, place 1 T. water and 1 T. maple syrup, stir well to combine, and set aside for glazing the pretzels. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining water and soy milk, and warm to 120 degrees over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat, add the remaining maple syrup and safflower oil, and stir well to combine. Place 1/4 cups rolled oats in a small bowl and set aside for topping the pretzels. In a large bowl, place the remaining rolled oats, 2 1/2 cups flour, yeast, and salt, and stir well to combine. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir well, and add enough of the remaining 1 cup of flour as needed to make a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl to form a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead for 5 minutes, adding additional flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the mixing bowl over the top of the dough to cover, and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Using a little safflower oil, lightly oil (or spray with a light mist of oil) two non-stick cookie sheets and set aside. After the dough has rested, divide it into 24 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece of dough into a 12-inch long rope. Transfer the rope of dough to the prepared cookie sheet. To form it in to a "pretzel" shape, take each end between your thumb and forefinger, draw them up towards the center (sort of like making a circle), cross one end over the other, continue to pull the ends through until you reach the bottom of the circle, and slightly press on the ends to stick. The dough can also be shaped into numbers, letters, or other shapes of choice. Repeat the shaping procedure, as desired, for the remaining pieces of dough. Cover the shaped pretzels with a clean towel and leave to rise for 15 minutes. Brush the tops of each pretzel with some of the reserved maple syrup/water mixture and then sprinkle with the reserved rolled oats. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 2 Dozen

 

Pepper Divider

 

Sunflower Jewel Cookies

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins
safflower oil

In a medium bowl, place the maple syrup and tahini, and stir until creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Using a little safflower oil, lightly oil (or spray with a light mist of oil) two non-stick cookie sheets. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Using the back of a spoon, slightly flatten each cookie. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a rack to cool. When completely cool, transfer to an airtight container for storage.

Yield: 2 dozen

 

Pepper Divider

 

Crispy Rice and Almond Treats

1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup Almond Nut Butter (see recipe above) or other nut butter of choice
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
1/4 t. salt
2 cups crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips or carob chips
1/3 cup coconut, toasted
safflower oil

In a large saucepan, place the brown rice syrup and Almond Nut Butter, and cook over low heat while stirring until creamy and small bubbles begin to appear. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the vanilla and almond extract, and stir well to combine. Add the crispy rice cereal and stir well to coat the cereal thoroughly with the mixture. Add the remaining ingredients and fold gently to combine. Using a little safflower oil, lightly oil a 9 x 9-inch square pan. Pour the cereal mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your hands with a little water and press the mixture firmly into the pan. Chill for 30 minutes or more or until firm, and then cut into 12 pieces. Store in an airtight container.

*Note: you can substitute other nut butters such as hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, or peanut to make these treats using the same procedure.

Yield: One 9-inch pan or 12 pieces

 

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Rice Pudding with Cinnamon and Raisins

2 cups water
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
1 1/4 cups soy milk, rice milk, or other non-dairy milk of choice
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup brown rice syrup or maple syrup
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/8 t. ground nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, place the water, and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 35 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well to combine, and continue to cook the mixture over low heat until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and place the pudding in the refrigerator to chill. Top individual servings with a little additional cinnamon before serving, if desired.

Serves 3-4

 

Pepper Divider

 

Strawberry Mousse

3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 - 12.3 oz. pkgs. Mori-Nu silken style tofu, extra firm
1/2 cup brown rice syrup or maple syrup
1 t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla

In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries until smooth. If desired, pass the strawberry puree through a sieve to remove the seeds, and then return the puree to the food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process for 1-2 minutes or until light and creamy. Transfer the strawberry mousse to a glass bowl, cover, and chill for 1 hour. Top individual servings with additional sliced strawberries or other fruit, granola, or nuts.

Yield: 4 Cups

 
 

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