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.

No Bake Cookie Bites, a recipe preview from The Abundance Diet!

Cookie Bites1 LRThese No Bake Cookie Bites area great pre or post workout snack you can feel good about eating! When I shared the recipe recently during a cooking class at the Downtown Yoga Festival. The students in the class kept going out in the hallway to share these with their friends. More and more people kept coming in for samples who hadn’t even attended the class. You’ll find they disappear quickly at your house too!

Cookie Bites square

No Bake, No Stovetop Cookie Bites

When I was growing up, my mom made these great no-bake cookies all the time as an afterschool snack. They were super delicious and full of oats, chocolate, and peanut butter. Such a good combination! However, the recipe also had a stick of margarine and loads of sugar, making this a treat I haven’t made as often for my own kids. One day I was trying to make a raw-ish brownie out of dates, nuts, and chocolate. Instead, my creation tasted just like those no-bake cookies I loved so much as a child. I couldn’t have been happier about my kitchen mishap.
(Recipe from The Abundance Diet, © 2015 by Somer McCowan. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press LLC.)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, almonds or walnuts (or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup pitted soft medjool dates (roughly chopped after measuring, packed into a measuring cup)
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or pure maple syrup
In a food processor, combine the nuts, oats, dates, salt, vanilla, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and maple syrup. Process until finely crumbled. Continue processing until the mixture starts to hold together into a mass. If your mixture seems dry, add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it adheres.
With wet hands, press the dough into an 8×4-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate the dough until firm. Remove the parchment and the chilled dough from the loaf pan and cut into 1-inch x 1-inch cookie pieces. These cookies
keep nicely well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Makes 4 servings

Stay tuned! Next week I’ll be sharing my recipe for the Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Bake (my healthier updated version of Mormon Funeral Potatoes).

Cheesy Potato & Cauliflower Bake2 LR

The Abundance Diet is available for pre-order on Amazon here NOW! The book will be released on June 9th!


The Abundance Diet (Pre-order Now!) and a Delicious Guilt-Free Nacho Cheesy Sauce!


My cookbook, The Abundance Diet is going to be released in just 14 days! I’ve received a boxful of copies and I’m so excited to share it with you! The book is visually stunning with photography and cover design by my dear friend, Annie Oliverio of An Unrefined Vegan.  The cookbook is formatted for ease of use with meal plans, shopping lists and over 100 healthful plant-based recipes. You can preorder your copy on Amazon here at a significant discount off the publisher’s price. The Abundance Diet will also be available for purchase at Barnes and Noble and other notable retail book sellers.


I haven’t been blogging much since I’ve been focusing most of my efforts on just being a mom lately. However, every once in a while I still come up with something that’s just too good not to share. I developed a vegan nacho cheese sauce last week that knocked my socks off! Now, I’ve made plenty of vegan cheese sauces and many of them claim to taste just like the real deal. I’m here to tell you that most times I’ve been disappointed. I’m going to tell you that this vegan cheese doesn’t really taste like exactly like the dairy nacho cheese you remember. I think it tastes even better, especially because it’s actually good for you because it’s made with all whole food ingredients and no fake stuff. When I served it to students at my vegan cooking class at a yoga festival over the weekend I heard excited whispers everywhere “This tastes like nacho cheese!” I’ll let you make it and decide what you think.


You can use it as a salad dressing on your favorite taco salad fixins. Or you can just serve a giant bowl of it with your favorite corn chips, like these gorgeous ones from Trader Joes that are filled with plant goodness.


Guilt-Free Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

  • 1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk, from a can (alternatively, you can use 1/2 cup soaked cashews)
  • juice from one lime
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon redmond real sea salt or your favorite sea salt to taste
  • 1 cooked russet potato, about 4 oz. roughly diced (alternatively, for a more hummus like dip, use one cup white beans)

Method: Add the roasted red peppers, coconut milk, lime juice, nutritional yeast, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, black pepper and salt to a blender or a food processor. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Add the potato and blend again until silky. If you are using a high speed blender like a Blendtec, continue blending on high speed until the sauce is warmed through. Or pour it into a small saucepan and heat until bubbly. Serve immediately.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups cheese sauce.

Crave Eat Heal: Plant-Based, Whole-Foods Recipes to Satisy Every Appetite by Annie Oliverio. Review, Giveaway and Recipe for Butternut Squash Queso

Crave Eat Heal Cover

Sometimes I can’t even believe how the Universe works. I met Annie from An Unrefined Vegan over the internet several years ago through the vegan blogosphere. We became fast online friends during a strange series of serendipitous events. Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to meet in real life many times. We’ve helped each other through hardships and celebrated each other’s joys.

5 way

When Annie got her publishing contract through the Cedar Fort Publishing, a publishing company with Mormon roots and based in a town I used to live in, I thought things couldn’t get any more unexpectedly surrealistic. I’m convinced more than ever in fact that fate has gifted us both with this friendship.


During the last few years I’ve had the sweet opportunity of watching Annie climb her way up the ladder to a seriously professional photographer and recipe creator. She’s passionate about her work and it speaks for itself. Crave, Eat, Heal is definitely one of the most beautiful, well photographed and planned out vegan cookbooks to date.

matcha shortbreadGreen Matcha and Herb Shortbread

I was lucky enough to be involved in the recipe testing for this cookbook. The recipes are wholesome, with unrefined ingredients and lots of yummy flavors. Most of the recipes in the book are gluten-free to boot.

French Onion Dip

In a completely new and unique format, the recipes in this book are divided into chapters by cravings: carbs, chocolate, comfort, cool, creamy, crunchy, green, junk, salty, spicy, sweet, tart and warm.

hibiscus cherry cooler

Of all the recipes I tested however, the butternut squash queso was my absolute favorite, plus this base recipe serves as the cheddar cheez, which is absolutely divine.

Queso5 LR

This recipe was inspired by an appetizer at Matthew Kenney’s now-defunct “plant-based Mexican kitchen,” Tamazul, in Oklahoma City.  While everything I’ve eaten there has been delicious, fresh, and creative – their queso impressed me more than any other dish.  I was too shy to ask how they made it, so I set about creating my own version.

This also makes a delicious sauce for mac ’n’ cheez.

Gluten-free, Oil-free, Easy


Makes ~2 cups


  • 2 cups roasted* butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 8-12 hours, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp. white miso paste
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • Water, as needed


Add all of the ingredients to a high-speed or regular blender and process until very smooth.  You will need to tamp down the ingredients and add water – just a little at a time – during processing to get a very smooth texture.

Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and gently heat.  Serve warm with baked tortilla chips or fresh steamed vegetables. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Suggestions: Try using pumpkin puree or roasted sweet potato in place of the butternut squash. Reserve 1 cup of the queso to make Cheddar Cheez (see recipe on page XX). If you like it spicy, stir in a 1/4 cup of fresh, diced jalapeño peppers (or pickled jalapeños) – or for milder flavor – stir in a 1/4 cup of roasted red bell pepper. *Here’s how I roast a butternut squash:  Preheat the oven to 425-degrees and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Cut off the squash’s stem and pierce the skin a few times with a knife.  Place the whole squash on the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the flesh of the squash is very soft (I test it by inserting a knife).  The skin will be shiny and dark brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before handling.  Peel off the skin, then break open the squash and scoop out the seeds.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Ann Oliverio and Front Table Books.


Visit Annie Oliverio at her blog: An Unrefined Vegan

Purchase your own copy of Crave, Eat, Heal: Plant-based, Whole-food Recipes to Satisfy Every Appetite. The book is available for pre-order now and will be released early in May.

Or, for a chance to win a copy of Crave Eat Heal, simply leave a comment on this post below. Two winners will be chosen, one  winner for the US and Canada will receive a hardcopy of the book, and one International winner will receive an electronic copy of the book. The winners will be chosen at random on April 30th! Good luck!