Easy Individual Rigatoni Pies, a Meatless Monday/Humane Society/Beyond Meat/School Lunch Story.

Rigatoni Pie2

Earlier this week I met up with Eddie Garza and his colleague Josephine Morris from The Humane Society. I had “virtually met” Eddie a few years ago when he worked for Mercy For Animals on their Choose Veg project. He featured my story on their pamphlets and on their Health page here. I picked up Eddie and Josephine at their hotel and we went out to eat at Vertical Diner, a local all vegan restaurant. The food of course was amazing, but as many of you know meeting up with other vegans is almost like a transcendent experience (cue spazzing out).

I seriously could not contain my glee when I found out the two of them were in town working with rest of The Humane Society Food Policy Team to get Meatless Monday and more vegetarian options into local schools. These guys are seriously vegan superheroes. As a mother of school-aged children I can’t imagine anything better for schools. Better nutrition for children, many of whom get the majority of their daily calories from school lunch is an endeavor that everyone should be concerned about. With childhood obesity and diabetes growing at alarming rates, we all need to do more.

I found out during this dinner that Beyond Meat is partnering with schools to provide a vegan alternative to beef for school lunches. Beyond Meat is a minimally processed vegan protein, most of their products are free of the top 8 allergens and the products are being offered at competitive pricing to government beef. Pretty much I fell in love with the company just like that.

So naturally, straight after dinner I went to Whole Foods to pick up a few Beyond Meat products.

Beyond Meat

And then proceeded to adapt and veganize an idea that my friend Lee showed me from Pitbulls of Instagram via One Little Project via Noble Pig via Martha Stewart (as recipes do)




Melted Cheese

Easy Individual Rigatoni Pies

  • 1 lb of rigatoni (or ziti), regular, whole-grain or gluten-free
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 package Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar of vegan tomato basil pasta sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces shredded vegan mozzarella (I made this one)

Method: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the rigatoni al dente according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and cook for a minute more. Add the Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles and cook until warmed through. Add the pasta sauce to the skillet and season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

Assembly: lightly oil four individual (or one large) springform pans. Arrange the rigatoni in the springform pans (you may have extra). Top with the sauce and push down lightly with the back of a spoon to get it into all the crevices. Top with cheese, then bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is golden, bubbly and melted and the pasta is heated through. Let cool for several minutes before releasing from the springform(s) for serving.


Living Candida-Free by Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN. Review, Toronto Sandwich Recipe and Giveaway!

Crustless QuicheChickpea Quiche page 186

I’ve reached out to Ricki Heller a few times in the last couple of years regarding mild personal health issues and severe health issues of a family member. Each time she has taken the time to answer questions and point me in the right direction for help. She’s the foremost vegan expert on Candida and is honestly one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Curried Carrot Lentil Soup

Curried Carrot Lentil Soup page 145, Chickpea Quiche page 186 

Candida is a systemic yeast/fungal overgrowth and has a myriad of symptoms. Sufferers are often tired, depressed and irritable. One of the biggest concerns for people suffering from Candida is probably “what in the world am I supposed to eat?” Ricki’s book, Living Candida-Free includes 100 vegan whole-food recipes that satisfy almost any craving. I was surprised to find the variety of foods allowed and how creative Ricki is with putting together so many recipes to ensure success while healing the body inside out with her 3-Stage Program for restoring health and vitality.

Fluffy Pancakes with Gingerbread Pecan Butter and Mojito Smoothie

Fluffy Pancakes page 120 with Gingerbread Pecan Butter page 157 and the Mojito Smoothie page 115

I would have never thought indulgent foods like pancakes and raw cookie dough truffles would be part of an anti-candida diet!

Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

The cookie dough truffles (page 209) are a satisfying rich dessert that even children will enjoy.

Sunday Night Roast with Perfect Golden Gravy

Hearty main courses are covered too with recipes like Sunday Night Roast (page 196) with Perfect Golden Gravy (page 177).

But I think my favorite recipe from the book is Ricki’s Toronto Sandwich. There’s lots of ways to customize it and make it personalized. It’s quick and easy to prepare and is just plain yummy. I have permission from Ricki and her publisher to share the recipe below.

The Toronto Sandwich

The “Toronto” Sandwich

Makes 1 Sandwich


  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons vegetable broth or stock
  • non-stick spray or olive or coconut oil for the pan

Filling Base:

  • 2-3 slices baked glazed tempeh (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons well-drained sauerkraut
  • Handful of shredded lettuce or greens

Creamy Topper:

  • 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced, 1/4 cup hummus or 1/4 cup creamy dip of choice.

Make the wrapper: In a small bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour and the salt. Add the broth and whisk until smooth and pourable but not watery (like pancake batter).

Grease a 6-8 inch skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat. Add the wrapper batter, spreading out to coat the pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Flip and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes on the other side.

While the wrapper cooks, prepare the fillings. Assemble the sandwich.

living candida free

Visit Ricki Heller at her site here.

Purchase Living Candida-Free here.

For a chance to win a copy of Living Candida-Free, simply comment on this post below. You can enter until July 15th . I’ll contact the winner by email on July 17th. USA and Canada entries only please.

p.s. If you’ve been wanting to get my book and have been waiting for a great price drop, The Abundance Diet is only $11.50 on Amazon today. that’s a 48% discount from the publisher’s price. Buy it here now!

Restaurant Style Vegan Hot and Sour Soup (Recipe Outtakes from The Abundance Diet)


While I was growing up, my family loved to go out to eat. We enjoyed Chinese food immensely and almost always ordered Hot and Sour Soup when we went to a Chinese Restaurant. Steaming hot, spicy, fragrant and slightly sour, this soup embodies all the delicious umami flavors. I love it so much that I recreated my memory of the soup I ate while growing up with a tasty vegan version to go in my cookbook.

However, during the testing phase for The Abundance Diet, somehow this recipe eluded most of my testers and therefore didn’t end up making the cut in the final cookbook. I’ve decided to share it here with you now, and in the coming months I’ll be sharing other Outtakes here as well that are suitable for use while following The Abundance Diet.

This soup is a brothy sort of soup so it needs a really good chicken flavored vegetable stock. (An oxymoron I know) I like Better than Bullion No Chicken Paste or the Edward and Sons vegan Not Chick’n cubes.

It’s also notable that this recipe uses oil, which 99% of the recipes in the cookbook don’t. The oil here is mostly used for seasoning and flavor. So reduce it to a teaspoon if you like, but don’t leave it out.

Restaurant Style Vegan Hot and Sour Soup

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 cups fresh sliced button or shittake mushrooms (or other fresh mushrooms)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 cups vegan chicken flavored broth
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 heaped teaspoon sambal oelek
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic sugar
  • 3 tablespoons non GMO corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons wood ear mushrooms (leave them out if you can’t find them)
  • 8 oz firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 3 diced scallions

Heat the oil over medium heat in a soup pot until shimmering, add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid, about 4-6 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or two more.

Combine the broth, rice vinegar, tamari, sambal oelek, ground white pepper, sugar and the corn starch with a wire whisk. Add this liquid mixture to the soup pot.

Add the the wood ear mushrooms and tofu. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until soup has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and add scallions. Serve immediately.

Note: if desired you can also add bamboo shoots to this recipe.


So Much Love for Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen! Plus Review, Giveaway and Recipe for Mom’s Chickpea Flour Pancakes

Chana Masala

I can’t remember how or when I was first introduced to Richa Hingle’s blog, Vegan Richa, but I do know that I fell hard for her site, her food and her creativity straight away. Every vegan I know loves and adores Richa and it’s not hard to see why! She’s exceedingly talented, makes the most incredible and accessible vegan food. Her site has won numerous awards and her following is nothing short of astounding. But on top of all these attributes, Richa is super humble and kind.

naanPuffy Restaurant-Style Naan

In the past, I’d tried making Indian food at home multiple times and not quite catching the flavor essences I was after. A few emails back and forth with Richa and a visit to the “Indian Pantry” guide on her site had me ready to tackle all of my restaurant favorites as well as new to me Indian food.


Fudgy Coconut BallsFudgy Coconut Balls (Nariyal Ladoo) pg. 221

Every recipe of Richa’s I’ve ever made has been nothing short of delicious. I was overwhelmed with glee when I found out she was going to be writing her debut cookbook. Her dedication and talent shine in Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. The book is designed to simplify complex procedures. Richa’s recipes incorporate modern techniques and offer alternatives for hard-to-find spices while creating mouth-watering dishes true to her Indian heritage.

Chana Masala1I was able to make a feast out of recipes from the book for my parents and brother who are in town visiting. Everyone said the meal was better than the food at any Indian restaurant they’d ever been to. The naan perfectly buttery, tender and chewy, the chana masala spiced to perfection and the fudgy coconut balls were simply delightful.

But perhaps one of my favorite recipes from the book (the one I’ll certainly make over and over again) is Richa’s Mom’s Chickpea Flour Pancakes. I’ve got the recipe here for you below.


Mom’s Chickpea Flour Pancakes

Chilla (Pudla)
Prep: 15 minutes | Active: 25 minutes | Inactive: 20 to 25 minutes| Makes 8 to 10
This is my Mom’s chilla recipe. It is also known as pudla.The classic Indian pancake made with chickpea flour is a popular breakfast in North India. These chillas in the simplest form are easy and perfect for breakfast, a snack, or a side flatbread.
For a veggie omelet version, add less water, for a thicker batter and add leavening such as baking powder. Add finely chopped vegetables such as zucchini. (Recipe from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen Copyright © 2015 by Richa Hingle. Used by permission Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.)
  • 1 cup chickpea flour, garbanzo bean flour, or besan
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon carom seeds or cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 hot green chile, finely chopped (remove seeds to reduce heat)
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped cilantro
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon safflower oil, divided
1. In a bowl, combine the chickpea flour and 3/4 cup water. Whisk to get a smooth consistency. Whisk in another 1/2 to 3/4 cup water to make a thin lump-free batter. (If using besan, you will need less water).
2. Add the salt, turmeric, cayenne, carom seeds, onion, chile, cilantro, and 1 teaspoon of oil, and mix well. Let the batter sit for 5 minutes.
3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, drizzle a few drops of oil on the skillet. Spread the oil using a paper towel. Pour a ladle full (1/4 to 1/3 cup) of the batter onto the skillet. Spread the batter by moving the skillet to make a 6 to 8-inch pancake. Drizzle a few drops of oil on the edges of the pancake.
4. Cook until the edges start to leave the pan and the bottom is golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 to 4 minutes. Continue to make the rest of the pancakes. Serve hot.


Vegan Richa

Visit Richa at her site Vegan Richa.

Purchase Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen here.

For a chance to win a copy of Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen: Traditional and Creative Recipes for the Home Cook, simply comment on this post below. You can enter until June 20th. I’ll contact the winner by email on June 22nd. USA entries only please.

The Abundance Diet Official Release Day! Book Giveaway, Blog Tour Kickoff and a Super Refreshing Apple Pie Green Smoothie!

The Abundance Diet

The Abundance Diet hits stores today! To enter to win one of five copies of this book, simply enter the rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post! (USA only please!) Or, get your own copy here! The blog tour will be starting later this week with some of my most incredible blogger friends!

6/11/15 Richa Hingle at Vegan Richa

6/12/15 Zsu Dever at Zsu’s Vegan Pantry

6/15/15 Kristina Slogget at Spabettie

6/16/15 Julie Hasson at Julie’s Kitchenette

6/25/15 Kathy Hester at Healthy Slow Cooking

6/29/15 Dianne Wenz at Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen

7/07/15 Kelli Roberts at Kelli’s Vegan Kitchen

7/08/15 Poppy Velosa at Bunny Kitchen

7/20/15 Jackie Sobon at Vegan Yack Attack

7/31/15 Erin Wysocarski at Olives for Dinner

8/12/15 Ricki Heller at Ricki Heller

Tour dates still TBD: Annie Oliverio at An Unrefined Vegan, Kittee at Cake Maker to the Stars, Cara Reed at Fork and Beans, Gail Davis at Hungry Vegan, , Chic Vegan, Amey Matthews at Vegan Eats and Treats and a few more surprise guests!

Now for that super refreshing smoothie!

Apple Pie Smoothie2 LR

Apple Pie Green Smoothie

This smoothie is surprisingly reminiscent of apple pie. It is really delicious and I think you’ll find it one of your fast favorites. The fiber from the apples also keeps your stomach full for a long time, so this is a favorite smoothie of mine to take out and about when I’m running errands all morning and need something to tide me over until I get home.

(Recipe from The Abundance Diet, © 2015 by Somer McCowan. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press LLC.)

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups packed organic baby spinach
  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 small apples, cored and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon organic apple butter or 1 date, pitted and snipped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, chia seed, or hemp seed (optional)
  • Liquid stevia, to taste (optional)

In a blender, combine the water, spinach, banana, apples, apple butter, cinnamon, ice, and flaxseed, if using. Blend the mixture until completely smooth, creamy, and well combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the liquid stevia, if using, and pulse to incorporate.

Makes 1 serving (about 1 quart)

Photo credits and cover design of The Abundance Diet: Annie Oliverio at An Unrefined Vegan.

Apple Pie Smoothie

menu plan



Purchase your own copy of The Abundance Diet: The 28-day Plan to Reinvent Your Health, Lose Weight, and Discover the Power of Plant-Based Foods!

For a chance to win one of five copies for this amazing Giveaway, Click on the link below to enter the Giveaway! This contest is open to entrants in the USA only! You must also follow this blog by email or RSS feed to qualify. You have until Tuesday June 16th!  I will notify the winners by email on Friday the 19th June. GO!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Garlicky Potato Alfredo

Potato Alfredo1

A few months ago I started experimenting with using cooked potatoes in vegan cheesy sauces. Its not a new trick, in fact the Seventh Day Adventists have been doing it for 30 years or so (smarty pants!) Searches on the internet will bring up a plethora of vegan cheese sauces made with potatoes. It’s a great concept because blending cooked potatoes makes a very cohesive gooey texture very similar to that in dairy cheese sauce.

Then I made realized that Potato Alfredo needed to happen. So here it is. Super convincing, rich, creamy and good for you…

potato alfredo2

Garlicky Potato Alfredo

For the pasta:
  • 8 ounces whole grain pasta shapes, (or fettucine) can be gluten free
Galicky Potato Alfredo Sauce:
  • 1 cup unsweetened plant milk
  • 1/2 cup cashew pieces (for cashew allergies use shelled raw pine nuts instead)
  • 1/3 cup good quality sauerkraut (like Bubbies, do not use the terrible stuff in a can)
  • 1 medium potato, cooked peeled and diced, about 4 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon mellow white miso
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2-4 minced garlic cloves (depending on your garlic-o-meter, I used 4)
  • Dash ground nutmeg
  • 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Method: Cook pasta in a pot of salted water according to the timing on the package directions, slightly under cooking by a minute or so for very firm al dente pasta. While the pasta is cooking, blend the plant milk, cashew pieces, sauerkraut, diced potato, tapioca starch, miso, pepper, salt, garlic and nutmeg till very smooth and creamy in a high-speed blender, 1-2 minutes. If you don’t have a high speed blender, soak the cashews before blending.
Drain the pasta and return to pot you cooked it in. Pour the sauce over the pasta and cook over medium heat, stirring often for 1-2 minutes until sauce is thickened and pasta is perfectly done.
Notes: this pasta sauce thickens considerably on refrigeration, add a small amount of water when re-heating leftovers.
For an even creamier Alfredo, add 2 tablespoons vegan butter to the sauce while blending.
This recipe can easily be doubled or halved to make as much or little as you want.

potato alfredo 3My cookbook, The Abundance Diet comes out tomorrow! Get your copy now here.

Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Bake (AKA Healthier Funeral Potatoes) from The Abundance Diet

Cheesy Potato & Cauliflower Bake2 LR

Counting down to just four more days until my cookbook,The Abundance Diet is released! you can pre-order the book right now on Amazon here! Today I’m sharing with you one of the most highly anticipated recipes from the book: The Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Bake!

Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Bake

This is a lighter and fresher version of an artery-clogging cholesterol-laden casserole (Mormon Funeral Potatoes) made with potatoes, sour cream, cheese, butter, gelatinous cream-of-something soup, cornflakes coated in butter, and more cheese. This satisfying bake doesn’t leave you feeling like you need to take a nap afterwards.

(Recipe from The Abundance Diet, © 2015 by Somer McCowan. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press LLC.)


  • 2 large russet potatoes (1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (4 heaped cups)


  • 1/4 cup raw cashews (soaked 4 to 6 hours)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon mellow white miso
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • Dash of cayenne

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large pot, bring 6 to 8 cups of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cauliflower, reduce the heat to medium, and boil for 10 minutes. Don’t worry if the vegetables are still slightly firm, as they will continue cooking in the oven.

While the vegetables are cooking, make the cheesy sauce: In a blender or food processor, combine the cashews, almond milk, tapioca starch, miso, smoked paprika, garlic, salt, onion powder, vinegar, tomato paste, sherry, mustard powder, nutritional yeast, and cayenne and blend until completely smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and cauliflower in a colander. Arrange the cooked vegetables in a lightly oiled 9×9-inch square casserole dish. Pour the cheesy sauce over the vegetables, gently folding the sauce into the vegetables if necessary.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is crusty and golden, the sauce is thickened, and the vegetables are completely cooked through.

Makes 4 servings

Cheesy Potato & Cauliflower Bake2 LRPhoto credits: Annie Oliverio from An Unrefined Vegan.