Thursday, November 3, 2016

My TOP 5: Money Saving Tips + BONUS!!

Welcome to the first edition of My TOP 5! In this new series, I will share some of my top five favorites--it might feature a specific ingredient, meal, or dessert! (That might be hard, though. I love dessert...Narrowing it down to five? Not easy.)

The first in this series is Money Saving Tips. What does this have to do with food, you might ask? Oh, read on, my friend! Read on.

We all want to save money, I hope. I like to think of myself as a thrifty person, but I've noticed lately that it's too easy to just swipe a card (credit, of course) and not ever think of the *actual* money that's being exchanged. Really, the only place I have this problem is in the grocery store. It's easy to impulse buy.

TIP #1: Envelope System -- We recently implemented this after attending a financial planning series. Set a budget for groceries, whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Withdraw that amount from your paycheck in cash and keep it in a secured envelope. Every time you go to the grocery store, use cash from the grocery fund, and tuck the receipts into the envelope after your purchase. I've noticed that when I do this, it helps me to think, "Do I really need this item?" "Which store should I shop to make my money stretch farther?" Sometimes I have to revamp my weekly menu because there are not enough funds to cover a specialty item I might need.

TIP #2: Shop Bulk (not always, though) -- We invested in a Costco membership several years ago. It has repaid itself multiple times. We buy cereal, canned beans, rice, flour, pasta, pasta sauce, frozen vegetables, paper products, clothes, etc. Now, we are a family of four. If you are single, Costco or Sam's Club may not be a money saving option for you. Most of the items we purchase are non-perishable, so they do not go bad before we're able to use them. Now that WOULD be a waste of money!

TIP #3: Make Your Own -- This will *nearly* always save you money. As a vegan/vegetarian, I grew up on processed vegetarian meat analogs. While they're delicious, they are not the best for your health or wallet. They're super high in sodium and difficult to digest. Plus there are limited quantities in the package--sausage patties or sausage links usually only last one meal. So, why spend nearly $5 on a product that's not that great for you and doesn't go very far? Recently I made some oat based breakfast patties (one recipe yields 64 patties). They're perfect to freeze and reheat whenever you feel like "sausage" is necessary. I also like to make my own pancake and waffle mix. Commercial mixes contain powdered ingredients like eggs and fat that are high in oxidized cholesterol. When you make your own, you know what's inside. You can feel good about what you're feeding your family. One other thing...instead of buying a cake or cupcakes for a party, I make my own. The best part about that one is licking the spoon...

TIP #4: Eat Beans -- Staple foods, non-processed, will save you money. We eat beans. A lot of beans. Or lentils. Supplement with a whole grain like brown rice, whip up a salad, and you have a cheap and very balanced meal.

TIP #5: Plan Ahead -- If you can, plan your meals ahead of time. When you're mixing a soup or casserole, make extra to put in the freezer. Not all casseroles freeze well, but most soups, unless they are cream based, will freeze and thaw nicely for a quick and healthy meal. One thing that has helped me recently is to make a huge batch of cookie dough, scoop it into ready-made portions, then freeze them before baking so they're ready when I am! So nice to look in my freezer and see chocolate chip cookie dough staring at me!

As a bonus, I thought I'd share my Breakfast Patty recipe with you...just in case you need 64 breakfast patties in your freezer. My six-year-old tasted one: "Mmmm. Thank you for making these, Mom! They're good." Hey, I think I can live with that!


 3 1/2 cups water
1/4 Braggs Liquid Aminos (or low sodium Tamari)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tb. oil
1 - 2 Tb. dried minced onion (or granulated, but you'd probably use less)
1 Tb. pure maple syrup
1 Tb. Italian seasoning (I mixed 1 tsp. each of thyme, basil, and Italian seasoning)
1 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
pinch cayenne or red pepper flakes, optional
1 1/2 cups quick oats
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup white beans (cannellini, chickpeas, etc.)
1 cup firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1 cup cooked brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat couscous
3 Tb. ground flax seed


Preheat oven to 350*F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly sprayed foil.

In a medium pot, combine first nine ingredients and bring to a boil. Add oats and turn down heat. Allow to simmer for a few moments, then remove from heat. Puree white beans with firm tofu in a food processor until smooth, then add to the pot with the seasoned oats. Add cooked grain and flax seed, and stir to combine well. Allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes. It will thicken as it cools. You may want to sample a pinch of the dough and adjust seasonings to your taste.

Using a 1-in. ice cream scoop, spoon oat mixture onto prepared cooking sheet. Flatten each patty gently with the bottom of a measuring cup that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. It just makes it easier to release the dough without sticking to your cup. Bake at 350* for about 15 minutes, turn patties and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before freezing.

Tofu Scramble over Whole Grain Toast and Gravy
Oatmeal Breakfast Patties

Monday, October 10, 2016

Apple Pie Scones

I'm discovering that Fall really is my favorite time of year. I love all seasons, but the smells, colors, and tastes of autumn are easy to fall in love with...(I just love a good pun, especially when it comes so effortlessly.)

My friend, Amanda (She has a fantastic blog: Maple Alps) challenged me to create something delicious with apples. (You'll have to check out her Apple Cinnamon Rolls here!) I began to mentally flip through my cognitive recipe index. pancakes? Apple pie squares? Apple salad? Apple scones? AH HA! Apple scones...with a luscious maple or caramel drizzle. That will be my contribution to your fall breakfast routine.

Apple Pie Scones (with toasted pecans)

So, I created this recipe in an unusual way. I like the idea of caramel apple pie, so decided that I'd make a caramel sauce to toss the apples in before folding them into my dry ingredients. That worked well, until the moisture from the apples turned my caramel sauce into...well...NOT caramel sauce. Not to be deterred, I used my caramel apple "soup" and mixed everything together, gently patted the dough into a square (about 1-in. - 1 1/2-in. thick), and cut those babies into triangles. I laid them out on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet and baked them for about 15 minutes--or until they were beautifully golden brown on top and bottom. 

Mmmmm. We loved them! Even without a drizzle on top! I think I've made these every week for the last four weeks. 

Here is your list of ingredients:

2 apples, peeled, sliced thin
3 Tb. Earth Balance, or other non-dairy margarine
3 Tb. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla, opt.

2 1/2 cups flour (I've made these half white/half whole wheat pastry flour and it's a beautiful thing. )
1 scant Tb. aluminum free baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tb. brown sugar
3 Tb. Earth Balance


1) Peel and slice apples of choice.
2) In a saucepan, over medium high heat, melt 3 Tb. Earth Balance with 3 Tb. brown sugar. Whisk until the brown sugar completely melts and incorporates with the margarine and a caramel-like substance emerges.
3) Add sliced apples to caramel mix and stir to combine well. Add lemon zest and cinnamon and mix. Vanilla goes in, too, if you're using it.
4) Allow to gently cook for a few minutes until apples are semi-soft. Turn off heat and set aside.
5) In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and 2 Tb. brown sugar. Whisk to combine.
6) Cut 3 Tb. Earth Balance into the flour mixture until it resembles pebbles.
7) Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, then pour in slightly cooled apple/caramel sauce.
8) Using a fork, stir apples and flour mix together until it forms a dough, then turn out onto your counter and lightly knead just two or three times until it all comes together. (You don't want to work it too much or the scones will be tough.)
9) Form the dough into a 8 x 8 square about 1 - 1 1/2 in. thick.
10) Using a large sharp knife, cut dough vertically into three strips, then horizontally into three strips, forming 6 pieces. Cut each of those pieces to form triangles.
11) Place each scone onto a lightly sprayed cookie sheet, allowing space between each for rising.
12) Bake at 415*F for about 18 minutes, or until scones are beautifully golden. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Yield: 18 small/medium scones

If you like these, you'll also want to try Crystal's homemade apple croissants at her beautiful blog: CW Design.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Macadamia Chunks and Toasted Coconut

So. Long name for a cookie, right? But these cookies pack a wallop of flavor. I finished one cookie and thought, "I'm not sure if these are quite done. Perhaps I should sample another one..." I'm glad I have a measure of self control, or the entire pan of cookies might have just ended up in my mouth.

This is a great recipe to experiment with. Instead of macadamia nuts, I've substituted hazelnuts. You could use pecans or walnuts, too. Instead of chocolate chips, why not try white chocolate, peanut butter, or butterscotch chips? So many options, so little time. Oooh! I think next time I'll try white chocolate, cranberry, and walnut.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup Earth Balance or other non-dairy margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg (or 1 Tb. ground flax seed combined with 3 Tb. warm water to form a gel)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw macadamia nuts
1/3 to 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, non-dairy (I use Kirkland brand from Costco, but there are others you can find, too.)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flours, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream Earth Balance and brown sugar together with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add flax gel and vanilla, and mix again until well blended. Gradually add in flour mixture, continuing to beat on low under all flour is incorporated. Stir in oats, coconut, macadamia nuts, and chocolate chips. 

Scoop by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cookies should be about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool on baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 24 cookies

Friday, April 1, 2016

Whole Grain Pancakes

I needed a new recipe for pancakes. I just wanted to create one that was whole grain, but not too heavy. This recipe combines cornmeal, buckwheat, and wheat flour to produce a light, but hearty pancake. It's also oil and refined-sugar free. That means I can eat like...five of them, right? ;-)

1 cup white flour
1/3 + 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 + 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 1/2 tsp. aluminum free baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 scant tsp. cinnamon (opt.)
4 Tb. unsweetened applesauce
4 Tb. maple syrup
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 Tb. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients, mixing to combine. 

Pour 1/3 cup of batter onto hot non-stick skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes until bottom is beautifully golden brown. Flip and cook for another minute or two. Serve with peanut butter, applesauce, or any other toppings you desire. Warm thickened fruit sauce is delicious!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Curried Cauliflower Salad (Aloo Gobhi style)

This salad is a twist on one of my favorite Indian dishes: Aloo Gobhi. The blend of flavors and textures is just so good. I had some leftover roasted potatoes from breakfast and thought that this would be a creative and delicious way to "repurpose" them! :-)


1 head cauliflower, rinsed
1 cup roasted russet potatoes
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup cilantro, rinsed well and chopped
2 Tb. red onion, minced
1 serrano pepper, deseeded and minced

2 Tb. mango juice (nectar)
2 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. apple cider vinegar
1 Tb. curry powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar or other sweetener


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. After rinsing cauliflower, cut the head into bite size florets. On a cookie sheet, toss florets with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes at 400 until cauliflower is somewhat browned and wilted. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Toss in chopped cilantro and whisk.

In a medium serving bowl, mix together roasted cauliflower,  roasted potatoes, peas, red onion, and serrano pepper. Drizzle dressing over the vegetables and stir to combine. Check seasonings and adjust to taste.

Servings: 2 - 4 (Although if you are like me, I'd eat the whole bowl!)