Archive for the ‘Spicy’ Category

If you love Asian take-out, but have trouble finding a vegetarian or healthier version, you’ll love this veg version of beef and broccoli. So good, you may find yourself craving it weekly – and that’s without any added MSG. So why phone for take-out when you can make such an awesome dish at home?

Mock Beef and Broccoli

Mock Beef and Broccoli

Mock Beef and Broccoli

16 Gardein brand mock beef tenders, cut in half
2 heads of broccoli, broken into florets
½ of a red pepper, cut into thin strips
½ cup of chopped bok choy (optional)
½ of a sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce


1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. sirachi sauce (or to taste)
½ tsp. sesame oil

1)    In large wok on medium-high heat, add canola oil and 2 tbsp. soy sauce. Add chopped onion and sauté about 5 minutes.

2)    Add the broccoli and sauté another 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3)    Add the bok choy and red pepper and sauté another 5 minutes or so.

4)    Add the minced garlic. Saute veggies until tender.

5)    Add the mock beef tenders and sauté a couple minutes more.

6)    Mix the sauce ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour over the stir fry in the wok and stir together.

7)    Serve with brown rice. Yum!

Serves Two.

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Enchiladas from a Mexican restaurant can’t compare with these homemade enchiladas. They come out of the oven ooey gooey, but much lower in fat and salt than the restaurant version. And they are also packed with nutritious beans, lycopene-rich tomato sauce and spices. My mom has made this casserole for special occasions for years, and now I’m making it too. Try it once and it might become part of your family’s traditions too.

Mom's Homemade Bean Enchiladas

Mom's Homemade Bean Enchiladas

Mom’s Homemade Bean Enchiladas

2 cans refried beans OR 2 cans pinto beans (mashed)
1 medium onion chopped
2 tsp. Chile powder
1/4 cup grated low-fat cheddar (or Mexican blend) cheese or daiya vegan cheddar
12 flour or whole wheat large tortillas
1/2 lb. grated low-fat cheddar (or Mexican blend) cheese or daiya vegan cheddar

2 cups tomato sauce (two 8 oz. cans)
2 cups water
4 tsp. dried minced onions
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. Chile powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) Mix the first four ingredients together.

2) Simmer sauce ingredients together.

3) Spoon bean mixture into tortilla shell, add tsp. of sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.

4) Roll tortilla and place each in long baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over rolled tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.

5) Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, sliced avocado, black olives and/or salsa.

Serves 5 or 6.

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Looking to lose weight?

I lost ten pounds and dropped two pant sizes without trying. In order to lower cholesterol, I started eating low-fat, high-fiber, vegetarian foods, and I added about 2 additional hours of exercise per week. I eat as much as I want of these healthy, delicious foods and I never feel hungry. You can lose weight and get healthier too without depriving yourself! It’s all about choosing the right foods.

Get started with the easy recipe below.

Black Bean Chili

Leftover black bean chili is great packed for lunch. Black beans are full of fiber and no-fat! Make sure you drain and rinse, if using canned, to wash off extra sodium.

2 15 oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 10 oz. can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
½ green or red pepper, chopped
½ large onion, chopped
½ package ground veggie burger* (6 ounces)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
2 cups of water
Salt & pepper

1) In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and stir a few minutes, until onions start to soften.

2) Add green pepper and stir fry with onion for a minute or two.

3) Add chili powder, cilantro and cumin and stir.

4) Add veggie burger. Stir fry with other ingredients for a few minutes.

5) Add black beans, tomatoes with chile rellenos and water. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes on medium-low heat.

6) Salt and pepper to taste.

7) Great with sliced avocado, diced purple onions, fresh cilantro or diced tomatoes.

Makes enough for four people with good appetites.
*I used Smart Ground Original veggie protein crumbles

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My friend Shobha is from India and she is also a fabulous cook. She frequently makes a delicious, spicy lentil soup, and if she comes to town, she will sometimes bring me a big container of it. I love it! The other day I was craving that lentil soup, and unable to reach Shobha for the recipe, so I looked up a few recipes online and came up with a soup that turned out great. I used red lentils I found in the bulk food section of Whole Foods, some select fresh veggies, and a bunch of spices. Oh–and don’t forget the fresh cilantro. It really brightens the soup.
Spicy Red Lentil Soup

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

1 cup red or yellow lentils
2 carrots, sliced
1 tomato
3 cloves garlic, diced
½ small onion, chopped (small chop)
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (if you don’t like spicy food, you can omit the jalapeno)
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 ½ cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tsp. curry
1 tbsp hot curry
1 tsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. garam masala (optional)
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
2 handfuls of fresh cilantro

1)    In a large pot, add 1 tbsp. of olive oil, chopped onion and sliced carrots. Saute a few minutes.

2)    Add all spices, except fresh cilantro and stir.

3)    Add garlic, fresh ginger, and jalapeno and stir. Add lentils and stir.

4)    Add vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.

5)    Pour into bowls and top with fresh cilantro leaves.

Makes 3 servings. Serve with crusty bread, garlic naan, or basmati rice.

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JalapenosMy brother Jeff has long been known for his chili recipe. I think he makes it every year for the Superbowl, as well as for other similar winter parties. Well, being a vegetarian, I hadn’t tried it before since he puts hamburger in it. As luck would have it though, his daughter is now a vegetarian, so the other day, I got to try the veg version, with veggie crumbles in it. I loved it! The secret ingredient is……Campbell’s tomato soup. Also the jalapeno peppers make it really spicy. Since some jalapenos are spicier than others, you might want to taste one before adding it to figure out just how much to add.

Hope you enjoy the Superbowl and all of the great party food.

Jeff’s Spicy Chili

2 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
1 or 2 14.5 ounce cans of kidney beans
1 can Campbell’s Tomato Soup (the secret ingredient)
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (use more or less depending on how spicy you like your chili)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
¾ cup veggie burger crumbles
Olive oil
Chili powder, to taste

1) In a large kettle, add a 2 or 3 tbsp. of olive oil and the chopped onion. Saute until tender, about 6 -8 minutes.

2) Add the remaining ingredients. You may wish to add some water if it is too thick for you. Simmer for about 2 hours.

3) Add olives, sour cream, cheese, diced onion or your favorite chili topping. Serve with corn chips or corn bread.

4-6 servings, depending on how hungry you are

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It’s a good time of year to make cookies, and these spicy cookies will fill your kitchen and house with a spicy aroma that just smells like Christmas. They are the perfect cookie to make at this time of the year. Enjoy.

Mary’s Spicy Cookies

A friend from work brought these cookies in over the holidays. I asked for the recipe and have made them a couple of times since (of course, I made the recipe a bit lighter). They are unusual: not too sweet and very spicy.

¾ cup butter or Smart Balance
1 cup sugar (use slightly less than 1 cup)
1 organic, free range egg, beaten or 3 tbsp. egg whites
¾ cup molasses (Braer Rabbit or Grandma’s)
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. soda
½ tsp. salt
1 heaping tbsp. ginger
1 tbsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) Cream butter and sugar with a mixer in a large bowl. Add egg and molasses and mix well.

2) In a separate bowl, add dry ingredients together. Gradually add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and blend thoroughly.

3) Refrigerate one hour or overnight.

4) Form into small balls. Roll each ball into granulated sugar and place on a baking sheet (line cookie sheet with Reynolds wrap—shiny side up). The cookies will spread out into a flat cookie shape while baking so allow room for them to spread. Do not grease baking sheet.

5) Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow them to cool on baking sheet a few minutes before lifting out with a spatula. Will keep for about a week in an air-tight container and remain tasty, but are also delicious eaten warm out of the oven!

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

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Atlanta Healthy Food Fight

"Backstage" at the Atlanta Healthy Food Fight

The weekend of October 22-24, my mom, niece and I somewhat spontaneously decided to travel down to Atlanta to participate in the Aetna Healthy Food Fight. My recipe for Vegetarian Jambalaya had been chosen to compete.

We loaded up the car Friday afternoon and headed south. Instead of going the more popular 95 to 85 route, we opted to travel down 360 to 29 and then join 85 near Greensboro. If you live in or near Richmond and are looking for a nice drive, I highly recommend 360 to Danville. There was almost no traffic, the road has four lanes, and it travels through gorgeous rolling hills flanked with trees, which were filled with Fall color that weekend.

Anyway, we stopped for the night in South Carolina and then continued to Atlanta Saturday morning. We picked a hotel within walking distance of the Taste of Atlanta, which was also the site of the Food Fight. My cooking slot was at 4:30 so we had plenty of time to enjoy the day. And what a day it was: wall to wall sunshine and temperatures in the high 70s. Perfect Fall weather.

The Taste of Atlanta is a lot of fun and a good way to sample many different types of foods offered by a variety of restaurants. My niece Sara and I are both vegetarians, but we found plenty of options.

Preparing to Cook at the Aetna Healthy Food Fight

Preparing to Cook

I arrived for the food fight at my scheduled time. The set-up consisted of burners, ovens and food prep tables set up on a stage and covered with a canopy. Food runners met with us right from the start, checking to make sure we had all of the ingredients we needed. I was missing a couple of things, including a red pepper and vegetarian chorizo. The runner went to get the supplies. Unfortunately, she brought back a vegetarian polish kielbasa instead of chorizo, but I made it work. I sauteed it in a separate pot with some spices and onion to try to give it a chorizo flavor.

Competitors around me were really friendly and had come from all over the country. I ended up having difficulties with my burners, but the nice contestant next to me allowed me to use one of hers. She had flown from New York, just for the day.

Judges' Table, Aetna Healthy Food Fight

At the Judges' Table

The Jambalaya I made took the full 90 minutes we were allowed. The main reason is that brown rice takes a while to simmer and cook. I was the last contestant to finish and presented my dish to the judges. Sara Moulton from the Food Network was one of the Atlanta judges; however, she was slotted to be there Sunday, and we were there Saturday.

After the event, my mom, Sara and I were beat. Following a brief rest in the nice outdoor lounge at our hotel and a cup of coffee though, we headed out into the evening to explore a little bit of Atlanta. We went to a new area not far from the hotel, walked around and enjoyed a great dinner at a somewhat exotic Italian restaurant.

Arriving back in Richmond exhausted Sunday evening, we perhaps wondered why we drove so far just for a weekend. One thing is sure though: we will remember our adventure in Atlanta for years to come.

For more pictures, recipes, and info, visit www.vegetarianlight.com

For the Vegetarian Light Cookbook, visit www.litevegetarian.com

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Introducing the Vegetarian Light Cookbook!

Vegetarian Light Cooking (the Cookbook!) After being repeatedly asked when I was going to put together a cookbook with recipes from the website, I decided to do it. And here, at last, I present to you Vegetarian Light Cooking!

Vegetarian Light Cooking contains 133 easy-to-follow, delicious, low-fat recipes that feature ingredients vital to physical wellness and energy, along with information about their unique health benefits.

What you eat plays a significant role in creating energy, preventing and managing diseases, and enjoying mental and physical stamina. If Spinach Lasagna, Roasted Red Peppers in a Tomato Cream Sauce, and Jambalaya sound good to you, you will have no trouble incorporating these recipes into your healthy lifestyle.

Click here for more information and to order Vegetarian Light Cooking.

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Picnic at Agecroft

Picnic at Agecroft

Hot and spicy seems like the right combination for a warm Summer evening. Last week I made jambalaya for a picnic. It turned out pretty well and friends even came over the next day to eat leftovers. Here is how I made it….


2 cups of long-grain brown rice
1 small can of tomato paste
4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth plus ½ cup
1 onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
2 celery ribs, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 zucchini, peeled and diced
1 yellow squash, peeled and diced
1 16 oz. can of artichoke hearts (non-marinated), quartered
2 cups of okra, fresh or frozen
3 vegetarian chorizo sausages
1 16 oz. can of diced tomatoes (I used ½ of a 28 oz. can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, chopped), including juice
olive oil
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. parsley
2 bay leaves
dash or two of Tabasco

1) In a medium sized kettle on high heat, stir together vegetable broth and 2/3 of can of tomato paste until there are no clumps of tomato paste remaining. Add brown rice, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes (check after 30 minutes). Liquid will be mostly absorbed and rice tender.

2) Heat 2-3 tbsp. of olive oil in a large kettle on medium high heat. Add onion and sauté a couple of minutes. Add bell pepper and celery and sauté all three together about 5 minutes.

3) Add sliced vegetarian chorizo sausages and stir together.

4) Add garlic, remaining tomato paste and all spices. Stir together.

5) If using fresh okra, slice it and add it to the pot. If using frozen, cook it for half the time called for on the package directions. Drain and add to the pot.

6) Add zucchini, squash and artichoke hearts. Add remaining ½ cup of vegetable broth and stir. Add more olive oil, as needed.

7) Stir cooked rice into vegetable mixture. Simmer jambalaya on low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

8) Serve with a side salad, hearty bread and cold beer or glass of Vinho Verde or Sauvignon Blanc. Provide extra tobasco sauce or other hot sauce on the side.

Makes a very large pot of jambalaya. Enough to feed 8-10 people.

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