BODY

Over the last few years, I have come to realize the significance of my relationship with food and food’s significance to me. For me, food is more meaningful than edible. In deciphering food’s system of meaning for myself, I have also been confronted with what feeds me well and what does not. Thus, I am also confronted – repeatedly – with: 1) the choice to eat foods that have a higher or lower value for me, and 2) the loving or judging intention that guides my food choices.

For the record, my body, mind and spirit highly value plant-based (i.e. vegetarian/vegan) cuisine. Nevertheless, my plant-based journey has taught me that there is no room at the table – nor in my belly – for me to judge other types of food or other people who eat said food. Suffice to say, I am plant-based, not plant-bonded.

Cooking

While eating is my favorite pastime, cooking is a different story. In fact, it’s a short story. Yet, my cooking efforts are expanding alongside my expansive self-love journey. The fact is that cooking is a form of self-love because my willingness to cook for myself demonstrates my capability of caring for (i.e. loving) myself as well. In essence, I’m feeding myself in more ways than one!

So, here are the general parameters for my style of cooking: 1) fresh onion and garlic, 2) vegetables and legumes (i.e. chickpeas!), 3) quinoa and gluten free pasta, and 4) the liberal redistribution of prepackaged items and leftovers. Additionally, I try to keep the amount of cookware that I use to a minimum because minimal cookware means minimal clean-up. Below are snaps of some of my delicious meals.

Fifteen (15) One-Pot/-Pan Wonders

WONDER 1: Fried Chick’n Alfredo
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Like Chick’n Wings, Seggiano Artichoke & Garlic Sauce & Spread, Barilla Gluten Free Fettuccine and Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Parmesan Cheese (available at Costco, Whole Foods and Kroger)

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WONDER 2: Kale-Chickpea Curry
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Yai’s Thai Yellow Thai Coconut Curry, Alter Eco Black Quinoa and Seggiano Fresh Basil (Vegan) Pesto (available at Costco and Whole Foods)

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WONDER 3: Nachos Supreme! (with quinoa, Portabella mushroom, red bell pepper and avocado)
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Mission Tortilla Rounds and Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Cheddar and Mozzarella Cheeses (available at Target, Publix and other stores)
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Beyond Burger Plant-Based Patties, Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles (available at Costco, Publix and other stores)

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WONDER 4: Chickpea-Veggie Yellow Curry
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (left to right): Sky Valley Sriracha, Frontier Co-op Nutritional Yeast Flakes, JUST Egg and Brooklyn Dehli Golden Coconut Curry Indian Simmer Sauce (available at Kroger and other stores)

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WONDER 5: Southwestern Scramble (with quinoa)
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Marjon Tofu Crumbles (available at Publix)

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WONDER 6: Broccoli-Tomato Fettuccine & Plant-Based Meatballs
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Gardein Plant-Based Meatballs (available at Kroger and other stores)
–>SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Barilla Gluten-Free Fettuccine (available at Kroger and other stores)

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WONDER 7: Veggie-Quinoa Scramble
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Brooklyn Dehli Golden Coconut Curry Indian Simmer Sauce (available at Publix and other stores)
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENT: JUST Egg (frozen) (available at Whole Foods and Wegmans)

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WONDER 8: Kale-Chickpea Spaghetti Alfredo
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Primal Kitchen No Dairy Garlic Alfredo Sauce (available at Kroger and other stores)
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Ronzoni Gluten-Free Spaghetti (available at Kroger and other stores)

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WONDER 9 (left): Kale-Chickpea-Broccoli Spaghetti (also with Ronzoni Gluten-Free Spaghetti)

WONDER 10 (right): Broccoli-Chickpea Red Curry (with quinoa)

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WONDER 11: Kale-Scrambled JUST Egg-Chickpea Primavera
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Barilla Gluten-Free Rotini (available at Publix and other stores)
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Daiya Deluxe ‘Cheeze’ Sauce and Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk (available at Publix and other stores)

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WONDER 12: Veggie-Lentil Spaghetti
–>SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Barilla Red Lentil Gluten-Free Spaghetti (available at Publix and other stores)

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WONDER 13: Chickpea-Veggie-Quinoa Hash
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENT: JUST Egg (liquid) (available at Kroger and other stores)

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WONDER 14: Kale-Fried Rice-Tofu Scramble
–>SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Daiya Cheddar cheeze (available at Kroger and other stores)


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WONDER 15: Kale-Kimchi-Roasted Beets Stew
–>SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Korean-Style Kimchi (available at Kroger and many stores)

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BONUS Dishes & How They’re Made

BONUS: Tofu Wrap
(For the record, I enjoy just about every type of cuisine that’s placed inside of a wrap.)

PIC 1: Tofu wrap ingredients (clockwise): tortillas, my mom’s special sauce (on the side), Daiya Cheeze sprinkled on top of the tofu, kale and cabbage, and fresh avocado!

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (clockwise): Daiya Cheddar cheeze, Nasoya Extra Firm Organic Tofu and Mission Gluten Free (vegan) Tortillas (available at Kroger and other stores)

PIC 3: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Spice Islands Organic Garlic & Herb Seasoning (available at Costco and other stores)

PIC 4: Sliced tofu, lightly fried and seasoned with garlic & herb mix

PIC 5: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Bragg Liquid Aminos (available at many stores)

PIC 6: Kale and purple cabbage, sautéed with Bragg Liquid Aminos

PIC 7: Tortilla, warmed

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BONUS: Tofu Kebabs
(In the words of Tabitha Brown, the tofu kebabs featured below “blessed my spirit!” I pray that they are as much of a blessing to you as they were to me and my mom.)

PIC 1: Tofu kebabs plated with rice

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Chopped veggies include: Organic Portabella mushroom, organic red/yellow/orange bell peppers, onion, garlic, organic jalapeño pepper and organic cucumber

PIC 3: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Chopped steamed beets

PIC 4: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Marinated tofu

PIC 5: More tofu, more assembly

PIC 6: Kebabs are prepped, polished (with my mom’s marinade) and placed on parchment paper in an oven-safe pan

PIC 7: Kebabs are marinated again (halfway through cooking time) and presented after cooking, with mom’s marinade standing by

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BONUS: Sloppy Joes
(Then there are days when I don’t want anything fancy, just something deliciously simple. On those days, I seek the services of ‘Mr. Manwich.’)

PIC 1: Sloppy Joe and salad! Who would’ve guessed…that it was so good?

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce (available at Publix and other stores)

PIC 3: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Lightlife Plant-Based Ground (available at Publix and other stores)

PIC 4: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (available at Publix and other stores)

PIC 5: Brown the ground, then add the sauce, tomatoes, and chiles, and simmer

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BONUS: Waffle Burger
(Though McDonald’s often gets a bad rap for the type of food it serves, respect must be given where respect is due. I respect you, McDonald’s, for inspiring my ‘plant-based McGriddle.’ I really am lovin’ it!)

PIC 1: It tastes as good as it looks–yum!

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (left to right): Van’s Gluten-Free Waffles, Beyond Burger Plant-Based Patties, JUST Egg (frozen) and Organic Wholesome Honey (available at Wegmans, Costco, Kroger and other stores)

PIC 3: *PRO-TIP* Add a slice of melted Daiya cheeze for extra savory deliciousness!

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BONUS: Instagram-inspired Vegan Stuffed Bell Peppers (@elavegan)
(More often than not, I do my best to use Instagram’s platform for aspiration as a source of genuine inspiration. This means that, sometimes, I allow Instagram to genuinely inspire me to cook.)

PIC 1: Vegan stuffed bell peppers showcased with avocado!

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (left to right): JUST Egg, Organic Almond Butter, Marjon Tofu Crumbles, onion, garlic, organic red bell peppers, cooked brown rice, coconut milk, Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Chiles, Bragg Liquid Aminos, Tabitha Brown’s Sunshine seasoning, organic curry powder and smoked paprika.

PIC 3: Hollow out bell peppers and heat other ingredients in a skillet

PIC 4: Stuff

PIC 5: Bake at 375° F for approx 30 mins.

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BONUS: Instagram-inspired Eggplant Entrée (@micadeli_) with Sautéed Kale

PIC 1: This may look ‘different,’ but it tastes delicious!

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (clockwise): Organic kale, organic eggplant, Seggiano Fresh Basil (vegan) Pesto Genovese, garlic, onion, organic red bell pepper and Portabella mushroom (available at Whole Foods and other stores)

PIC 3: Slice and dice

PIC 4: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Grapeseed Oil (available at Whole Foods and other stores)

PIC 5: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Spice Islands Organic Garlic & Herb Seasoning (available at Costco and other stores)

PIC 6: Creative assembly (SN: This gives me “Mr. Potato Head” vibes, not gonna lie.)

PIC 7: Bake at 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit until you smell the red bell pepper roasting

PIC 8: Sautée kale and remainder of veggies

–> SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Frontier Co-op Premium Nutritional Yeast (available at Whole Foods and other stores)

PIC 10: Rest

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BONUS: Instagram (@maxlamanna) & Tabitha Brown-inspired Vegan Tuna Melt

PIC 1: (((Tabitha Brown voice))) “Oohh God, I thank You!”

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (left to right): Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread, Earth Balance vegan butter, onion, organic garlic, canned chickpeas, Frontier Co-op Premium Nutritional Yeast, celery, O’dang Egg-Free Mayo, Sky Valley Sriracha and Daiya Mozzarella cheeze (available at Kroger, Publix, Whole Foods, Costco and other stores)

PIC 3: Uncanned chickpeas

PIC 4: Mashed chickpeas (with a fork…and the strength of 10 men)

PIC 5: Chopped celery, onion, and garlic

PIC 6: Lemon zest and juice

PIC 7: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Mt. Olive Sweet Relish (available at Kroger and other stores)

PIC 8: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Spice Islands Paprika (available at Kroger and other stores)

PIC 9: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Spice Islands Organic Garlic & Herb Seasoning (available at Costco and other stores)

PIC 10: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Heinz Organic Yellow Mustard (available at Publix and other stores)

PIC 11: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: O’dang Egg-Free Mayo (available at Publix and other stores)

PIC 12: Volia! Vegan tuna!

PIC 13: SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Bread and butter, featuring Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread and Earth Balance vegan butter (available at Kroger and other stores)

PIC 14: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Daiya Mozzarella cheeze (available at Kroger and other stores)

PIC 15: Fry on both sides until golden brown

PIC 16: Enjoy!

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BONUS: Tabitha Brown-inspired Vegan Angel Eggs
(Truth be told, my mom has dreamed about me and her cooking together since before I was born. However, for these Tabitha Brown-inspired vegan ‘angel’ eggs, I realized that it was best for me to stand back, watch and eat! Click on Tabitha Brown’s name above to see how they’re made.)

It’s amazing what can be done with chickpeas and pickled mushroom caps!

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Sweets

I believe in balance, which, in terms of food, means that I like to balance my palate with savory and sweet. Here are some snaps of my go-to sweets.

Five (5) Standard Sweets

SWEET 1 (left): Oatmeal
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Organic rolled oats, organic apples, organic blueberries, organic cacao powder, matcha powder, organic ginger, organic turmeric, organic cinnamon, organic chia seeds, organic hemp seeds, organic flax seeds, organic almond butter, organic freshly squeezed orange juice, and hemp milk (available at Publix, Whole Foods and other stores)

SWEET 2 (right): Waffles
–> SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Almond butter, banana slices, blueberries, So Delicious strawberry coconut milk yogurt and Nate’s Raw Honey (available at Kroger and other stores)

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SWEET 3 (left): Organic Apple Slices and Almond Butter (available at many stores)

SWEET 4 (middle): Papaya (available at Publix and other stores)

SWEET 5 (right): Watermelon (available at many stores)

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Bonus Sweet TREATS & How They’re Made

TREAT 1: @healthygirlkitchen’s Vegan Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Blondies
(Just in time for autumn – or whenever you’re in the mood for something scrumptious – @healthygirlkitchen offers a bona fide delight in the form of her Vegan Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Blondies. Check out her Instagram page for the full recipe.)

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (left to right): Clabber Girl Baking Powder, coconut milk, King Arthur Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, Spice Islands Pumpkin Spice, Whole Foods Organic Almond Butter, McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract, Simple Truth Organic Chickpeas, Simple Truth Organic Pumpkin, Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips and Greenwise Maple Syrup (available at Kroger, Publix and other stores). *Not pictured: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.

PIC 3: Put the ingredients in a food processor or blender

PIC 4: Purée

PIC 5: Sprinkle chocolate chips like confectionery confetti

PIC 6: Bake at 350° F for 35 mins.

PIC 7: Let cool, then slice

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TREAT 2: PeanutButterandJilly.com’s “30 Minute Vegan Blueberry Donuts
(I love blueberries and I love gluten-free and vegan desserts that taste good. Thank you, Jillian of PeanutButterandJilly.com and Natalie of FeastingonFruit.com, for your baking and matchmaking skills by creating these recipes just for me–and a few others. Click each link for the actual recipes.)

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (available at many stores)

PIC 3: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Ripple Plant-Based Milk (available at many stores)

PIC 4: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (available at many stores)

PIC 5: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: SweetLeaf Stevia (available at many stores)

PIC 6: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Clabber Girl Baking Powder (available at many stores)

PIC 7: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: King Arthur Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour (available at many stores)

PIC 8: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Kroger Vanilla Extract (available at Kroger and many stores)

PIC 9: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Organic blueberries (available at many stores and somewhat seen here)

PIC 10: Donut pan (available on Amazon.com; my mom’s slippers are custom)

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TREAT 3: FeastingonFruit.com’s “No-Bake Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes”
(Remember to click the link above for the actual recipe.)

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Quaker Quick Oats and Publix Pitted Dates (available at Publix and many stores) and a little water make up the base

PIC 3: Blend or use a food processor

PIC 4: Parchment paper makes the lifting process easier at the end

PIC 5: SPECIAL INGREDIENTS: Plant-based milk, blueberries, almond butter, vanilla extract and sweetener (available at many stores) make up the filling

PIC 6: Pour and add more blueberries on top

PIC 7: Freeze then thaw

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TREAT 4: Spiced Apple Rice Pudding (with chopped walnuts)
(At times, I can be a fairly inventive and resourceful cook. Much of the time, it is my taste buds rather than my cooking skills that guide my culinary curiosity. That means that, sometimes, I come up with some rather interesting and delectable ideas; my Spiced Apple Rice Pudding is one of those ideas.)

PIC 2: Happy pan with a little water

PIC 3: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Organic apples, diced (available at many stores)

PIC 4: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Santa Cruz Organic Ginger Juice (available at Kroger and other stores)

PIC 5: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Organic ginger (available at many stores)

PIC 6: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Organic cinnamon (available at many stores)

PIC 7: Sugar (available at many stores)

PIC 8: Leftover takeout basmati rice (available at many Indian restaurants)

PIC 9: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk (available at Costco and other stores)

PIC 10: Simmer

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TREAT 5: Indoor S’more
(I was first introduced to s’mores as a Girl Scout. I was re-introduced to s’mores as a teacher who wanted to brighten the lives – and taste buds – of some deserving students. No campfire? No problem. S’mores can taste just as great at your kitchen table as they can in the great outdoors.)

PIC 2: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Publix Honey Graham Crackers (available at Publix and many other stores)

PIC 3: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Dandies Vegan Marshmallows (available on Amazon and at select stores)

PIC 4: SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate, 72% Cacao (available at many stores)

PIC 5: S’more before

PIC 5: Microwave for approx. 10 seconds

PIC 6: S’more after

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TREAT 6: Banana Almond Butter Burrito
(By now, you know that I love wraps. But did you know that I love wraps so much that I eat them for dessert?! Will wonders never cease?)

–> SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (left to right): Mission Gluten-Free/Vegan Tortillas, MaraNatha Raw Almond Butter, Kite Hill Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk Yogurt, Nate’s Raw Honey and an organic banana (available at Kroger, Whole Foods and other stores) Tip: Use half of a banana, then slice it length-wise.


Beverages

I drink water like my life depends on it–because it does. I drink hot teas, turmeric and oil of oregano like they’re medicine–because they are. And sometimes, I drink fruit and vegetable juice mocktails to add a little effervescence to my life.

(available at Food Lion, Kroger, Publix, Wegmans, Whole Foods and other stores)