Recipe: Black & Pinto Bean Soup

I think soups are the best & easiest meals to make and best of all you can make them in a crock pot or a conventional stock pot ahead of time, let them simmer and sit to absorb in all of the flavor. I think they get even better when they can sit overnight in the refrigerator. Then when you are ready for some goodness, serve up a bowlful and let your eyes roll to the back of your head and just exclaim MM MM GOOD!

Here is a recipe from one of my favorite natural food stores, with just a little bit of work you can have a meal to enjoy now, tonight, or freeze it for a future meal.

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced red bell peppers
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder (hint:  I used some chili mix)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1(15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh lime wedges, to garnish
  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for five minutes.
  2. Add peppers, zucchini, corn and spices. Cook for another ten minutes until vegetables are soft.
  3. Add broth, beans, tomatoes, and chilies. Bring to a boil, then cover for ten minutes.
  4. Add cilantro and thoroughly mix. Serve in bowls and enjoy with a squeeze of lime.
  5. Top with a little sour cream or yogurt, if desired.

Original recipe from Down to Earth

Importance of Potassium

With the combination of starting to exercise regularly again and becoming a vegetarian, I’ve really come to realize the importance of nutrition and adequate calorie intact has been at the front of mind lately.  I’ve started to subscribe to different online resources to get educated on some do’s and don’ts so I can eat right to fuel my daily activities plus a decent workout.

I did some reading about the importance of potassium that I would like to share with you. “Potassium is a major dietary mineral that helps to balance your body’s pH and body fluids. It’s important for normal blood pressure regulation (it works in opposition to sodium). It’s also needed for normal muscle growth, for the nervous system and brain function. According to the Institute of Medicine, the average person should consume about 4,700 milligrams potassium every day.”

That’s a lot of potassium. The average banana is 7 inches long and has 422 mg of potassium.  That means you would need to eat about 11 bananas a day!  I love bananas, but I don’t know if I could eat that many bananas in a day.

Fortunately as  vegetarian or vegan, having a plant based diet of fruits & vegetables we don’t fall short on potassium like the usual Western diet that usually falls short of the 5 servings of fruits & vegetables.  The article states – STAY AWAY from potassium supplements and get your daily intake from the food you eat. It’s the natural way to fuel your body.

sweet potatoA few examples of high potassium foods you might eat regularly:

  • sweet potato (1 medium size) 542 mg
  • avocado (1/2 fruit) 487 mg
  • white beans (1/2 cup) 502 mg
  • plain yogurt (1 cup) 579 mg
  • spinach (1 cup) 839 mg

Here are a few places to read more about potassium

15 Potassium Rich Foods

5 Foods with More Potassium than a Banana

Veggie Burger Quest

I don’t know about you, but I have yet to find a veggie burger that I really like. I have bought various pre-made brands from health food stores and even Costco. So far, I have not found keeper. I have been looking for a veggie burger that is not so “mushy” after being grilled. When I say grilled I mean placed on a gas BBQ outdoor grill or a George Foreman’s counter top grill. I have even left veggie burgers in a Foreman grill for 20 minutes and still no luck.

So, I have decided I am going on a quest for the perfect veggie burger recipe.  So, watch for a future post on updates of my veggie burger recipe quest.  I have set the following as my criteria:

  1. Nutty flavor
  2. Minimal beans
  3. Moist but not mushy
  4. Does not contain tofu or taro

Wish me luck, my quest has officially started.  Here is the recipe for my first attempt: Cauliflower Veggie Burger

34 Surprisingly Delicious High-Protein Smoothie Recipes

Looking for smoothie ideas? Here are a few for breakfast, lunch, snack and post workout. Yum!

Cooking Tempeh

rawtempehI have mentioned tempeh before, but I don’t think I have gone into how to prepare it for cooking.  Today I am making a recipe from my favorite cookbook, it is a tempeh piccata recipe.  I’ve mentioned before I used to enjoy eating chicken in my pre-vegetarian life and chicken piccata was one of my absolute favorite dishes to make and eat.  I just love all that lemony flavor with capers.

There are two types of tempeh available, prepackage brands and local makers of fresh/fresh frozen tempeh. Most grocery stores will not carry the fresh/fresh frozen so you will need to look for it diligently to find the fresh stuff.  I was lucky to find a local tempeh manufactured on Maui that makes fresh tempeh (raw tempeh) that needs to be cooked before using it (at least 20 minutes).  So, that is what I will be using in my tempeh piccata recipe.

Tempeh is traditionally made from soybeans and fermented. The fresh brand I found made their tempeh from soy and mung beans.  Tempeh originated in Indonesia and is a staple of the Indonsian diet.  Tempeh has become popular in other parts of the world for its impressive nutritional composition, firm texture, and earthy flavor.  It is easy to cook and is a perfect substitute for meat in a vegetarian diet.

Check back later for the recipe to make the tempeh piccata dish yourself.

Cooking Tempeh

Quinoa Chickpea Caesar Salad

My level of protein intake has been a bit low lately. So today for lunch I am going to enjoy a chickpea & quinoa caesar salad.  Here’s a really easy recipe to do at home, roasting your own chickpeas to making a homemade caesar salad dressing. Enjoy courtesy of

Get the recipe here

What are the Healthiest Nuts & Seeds?

If you are like me you probably have your favorite nuts and seeds to snack on.  My favorites have been almonds and pistachios for as long as I can member.  I’ve never been a great fan of walnuts, although I have come to learn that they are one of the healthier nuts to eat.  So, I might have to acquire a taste for them.

The other great thing about nuts is if you ever find yourself hungry and need a quick and healthy snack, nuts or seeds are a great choice. They’re easy to travel with because you can easily throw them in your purse, briefcase, backpack or hand carry luggage. They keep well in your fridge and you will want to keep them there vs. on a shelf or snack table because they do go bad easily. And just a side note, peanuts are not nuts they are actually a legume – something else I recently learned after doing some reading.

So, which nuts and seeds should you focus on eating?  Well here are a few links to some information and I am sure you will come up with your perfect list of healthy favorites.

Healthiest Nuts & Seeds?

Vegan Health Guide

Top 10 Healthiest Seeds

Recipe: Mongolian BBQ Seitan

I was so excited to cook up this recipe.  It comes from a cookbook that I purchased called Chloe’s Kitchen.  I posted a photo of the cookbook a few weeks ago, so if you are interested in purchasing the book for yourself I think it’s a great idea.  So many easy and fundamental recipes.

As a new vegetarian myself, it has helped me to learn how to make some basic staples that a vegetarian or vegan would eat.  I had no idea what seitan was until I had it in Canada at a Chinese vegan restaurant.  The dish I had there was a peking duck seitan dish.  It was amazing, I had never had seitan until that moment and I was determined to learn how to cook it.  Being of Chinese ancestry it was a must to learn how to make peking duck that did not involve killing a duck.

So, let me share this Mongolian BBQ recipe with you and feel free to spice it up to your personal taste.  I am a bit of a wimp and can’t handle a lot of spice in my food and if you have had Mongolian cuisine it can be a bit on the spicy side.

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 – 2 teaspoons garlic-chili sauce (add more to turn up the heat)

You will want to mix all of these ingredients together and set it aside while you prepare the seitan and vegetable portion of this recipe.

2 tablespoon canola oil
8 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
8 ounces of seitan, cut into think strips
(you can make your own with the basic seitan recipes in this blog)
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
4 ounces snow peas, strings removed
2 scallions, trimmed & thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

mbbqIn your large skillet, heat up the oil and add the seitan and mushrooms. Brown them together until the mushrooms release their juices. Add the ginger, cinnamon & cloves, cook for a few minutes. Add in the sauce and snow peas, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sauce thickens.  Turn off the heat and add in the scallions and cilantro and serve on rice or the starch of your choice.  YUM!


Recipe: Tofu & Seaweed Poke (Vegan)

Growing up in Hawaii I have eaten a lot of poke using various types of seafood.  My all time favorite being ahi poke.  Now that I am a vegetarian, I have had to find ways to enjoy the flavors of my childhood without certain ingredients (food with faces).

So, here is my poke recipe with a couple of substitutions. Based on your dietary needs, use the appropriate gluten-free, soy-free, vegan friendly ingredients that you have in your home.


1 block extra firm tofu
1/4 cup of wakame seaweed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon soy sauce (shoyu) or tamarin
Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
Sprinkler of ginger powder
Sprinkle of garlic powderSprinkle of roasted sesame seeds for garnish
1/8 cup cut green onions for garnish (more if your prefer)

Drain your tofu until it is almost completely dry using paper towels.  I usually drain it using 4-5 paper towel changes.  If there is too much water left in your tofu it will water down your marinated and not be as flavorful as it can be.   Cut into cubes and set aside while your prepare the other ingredients.

Soak your wakame seaweed for about 10 minutes in water to soften it enough that it is easy to chew and swallow.  Set aside.

Combine in a bowl the grated ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, and chili flakes.  I usually do a little taste test of the sauce at this point. Feel free to enhance the flavor further to meet you personal preference.  Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend together, then add in your tofu & wakame. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onions, serve chilled.

Enjoy …
– Tracy –

Recipe: Basic Seitan

By now I am sure you have seen and possibly tried some seitan in your meal.  As you get better and better with your vegetarian cooking skills you will want to give it a try and make your own seitan at home.

Let’s face it, if you can make it yourself it will be economically beneficial for you.  I have found various seitan products in the local organic grocery stores.  Some are plain and some are infused with various flavors. In my opinion, not all of them have met my expectations on flavor.  I have tried the Korean BBQ version, and I have to say, not good.  I grew up eating some really awesome non-vegetarian Korean food and the Korean BBQ meat does not taste like that, not even close.  I feel that if you are going to label a flavor on a package, it had better be spot on or just don’t do it.

My boyfriend seems to like the Italian seasoning version of one of the seitan brands, but again, my expectation is high.  I will say it will work out just fine if you are covering it in a bunch of spaghetti sauce or vegetarian chili.

So here is a basic recipe, the flavoring is minimal so it allows you to use it in a stir fry, a soup, or in any recipe that you would like to substitute the ‘meat’ portion for seitan.

gluten Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup wheat gluten
1 cup water
3 – 4 cups of vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce

In a large bowl or food processor, combine the wheat gluten flour and water.  Mix.  If you are mixing by hand, then knead the dough for 5 minutes or until it becomes stiff.  It will get VERY RUBBERY in texture. Set it aside for 5 minutes and prep your broth & soy sauce in a saucepan.

seitanCut the seitan in half and place it in the saucepan with the broth mixture.  Bring it to a boil and then let the pieces simmer for 30 minutes, then flip them over and simmer for another 30 minutes. When done, let it cool in the broth.

If you are adding it to a meal right away, cut it into your portion sizes and cook according to your recipe.  If you don’t need to use it all, you can store it in your fridge for up to 3 days, in the broth.  If you are pre-cooking for future meals, then you can freeze the portions without the broth for up to 3 weeks.  Make sure you wrap the pieces tightly in plastic wrap before you freeze them.

So, I hope this gets you going on a basic seitan recipe.  As I said, it is very basic flavoring.  Feel free to season it up further once you start creating your meal. Don’t worry if it seems rubbery, that is normal, cutting seitan is like cutting taffy. It’s not going to look pretty either, which is also normal.