Nutrition Ambition

Welcome to my vegan food blog! When it comes to food, my philosophy is that taking time to lovingly prepare your own meals can result in better health and greater life satisfaction. I use natural, whole ingredients to create nourishing, exciting meals which replenish mind, body and spirit. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Easy Pasta Bake

When lunch time rolled around this afternoon, Rutiger and I were famished for something quick but yummy. In his own words, I am a "miracle worker" for making this...yes, it really is that good. Here's how to make it:
* 1 pound cooked tube- or spiral-shaped pasta
* 1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
* 1 container firm tofu (not silken) drained and mashed with the following seasonings:
* 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
* 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
* Pinch of salt
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* chopped veggies such as broccoli, bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, etc.
Simply mix everything together in a large bowl and put into a lightly oiled casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, until hot all the way through. Enjoy!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Red Beans 'n Rice

I've had my eye on these Tofurkey brand Italian "sausages" at the grocery store, and finally I figured out what to use them with. Rich, hearty red beans and rice, of course! I was pleasantly surprised with the spicy, yummy flavor of the sausages paired with the beans, garlic, and sweet pepper. This meal also supplies complete protein as well as iron. Here's the recipe:
* 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 bell pepper, chopped
* 1 can red beans, drained
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* Water, as needed
* cayenne pepper, to taste
* 1 or 2 Tofurkey Italian-style sausages, cut into rounds
* pinch of cinnamon
* black pepper, to taste
* Braggs or salt, to taste
* cooked brown rice
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and sliced sausages. Cook until sausage is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients (besides rice) and simmer until beans are warmed through, adding a little water to make a thick sauce. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Most vegan cheesecake recipes I've tried all use tofu as the base or substitute for dairy cream cheese. So when I came across this recipe for "Lemon Teasecake" from the great book Raising Vegetarian Children by Jo Stepanaik and Vesanto Melina, I just had to try it! So if it's not made with soy, what is it made of? Cooked millet. Yes, that's right. Creamy, nutritous, and delicous millet makes this cheesecake-esque pie yummy times two! Cashews, lemon juice, maple syrup and a walnut-oat-cinnamon crust are some of the other components in this easy-to-make dessert gem. It is also ideal for summertime, because besides baking the crust for 10 minutes, there is no other baking involved, which means the kitchen stays cool! You could also do a variation of this and make a key lime pie version by using lime juice instead of lemon and adding some lime zest.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Block Party

Last night was the neighborhood block party, so when the invite said to bring a dish to pass, I immediately scoured my cookbooks for something yummy to make. It turns out, I didn't need any cookbook, being the creative vegan that I am! I invented this pasta salad and it turned out to be delicious! Here's what I threw in (no need for measurements): cooked spinach-flavored whole grain pasta (I like EDEN brand), artichoke hearts, black olives, celery, red and yellow bell pepper, red onion, white beans, and a simple vinaigrette: apple cider vinegar, olive oil, dried Italian herbs, and a touch of salt and maple syrup. You can use any ratio of vinegar to oil that you like, but I prefer about 2 tablespoons oil to 1/4-1/3 cup vinegar. This can also be made for one person or ten.
Of all the dishes spread out at the party, mine was definitely the most colorful and delicious-looking, not to mention the healthiest!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sprouted Carob Cookies

Here's another one from my new favorite cookbook, A Celebration of Wellness by James Levin M.D. and Natalie Cederquist. These cookies are made from sprouted wheat, which is easy to do, but takes a couple days. Once the wheat is sprouted, the cookies bake for an hour at a low temperature. This may seem a little time-consuming but the result--a healthy, nutritous yet rich cookie--is worth it. I also find that putting time and care into the food you eat is important and a big part of good nutrition.
Sprouting grains has many benefits, mainly increased nutritional value and makes the grains easier to digest. My first sprouting experience wasn't that great. I made some raw sprouted wheat energy balls. They tasted pretty good, and I ended up eating most of them the same day. I don't know for sure if it was the raw sprouted wheat, but something in that concoction made me ill. So, this time around, baking the cookies sounded like a good idea and I was enticed to try this recipe. So far, I feel fine!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


When Rutiger came over for an early dinner, I wanted to surprise him with a Middle-Eastern treat: Hummus! With toasted whole wheat pita triangles and a green salad with lemon-mint dressing, this was the perfect light, late-summer meal. And it couldn't be easier:
* 1 cup chickpeas
* juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
* Salt, to taste
* 1 tablespoon tahini
* 1-2 garlic cloves
* 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/4 cup water, as needed
* Fresh parsley, minced
Blend everything (except the water and parsley) in a food processor until smooth and thick. Add enough water to thin the hummus and facilitate blending. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with parsley and extra olive oil. Use as a dip for fresh veggies, bread, chips, or spread in a sandwich, wrap, or pita pocket.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Tempeh is my #1 favorite soy product. So today, I had some tempeh in the fridge and found it to be too irresistable to pass up for a yummy lunch. A tempeh, avocado and tomato sandwich was the first thing to come to mind, bread! So I put on my clever vegan thinking cap and came up with these lettuce wraps. Here's how to make them: Simply marinade tempeh slices (I used the marinade from the tofu-veggie kabob post) for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut up some veggies (I used avocado and sauteed red/yellow bell peppers) and pre-heat a pan with a touch of olive oil in it. Lightly pan-fry the tempeh until brown 3-5 minutes each side. Fill the fresh, crisp lettuce leaves with some veggies and 1 or 2 tempeh slices. Fold in half like a soft taco and enjoy!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Loaf Adventures

I must admit, before going vegan, the thought of a "vegetarian loaf" was pretty unappetizing. Dry, dense and flavorless are all adjectives that came to mind. And then, last Thanksgiving I thought I'd give the loaf a try. I wasn't terribly impressed with the results--crumbly, pale, and not the rich, hearty holiday loaf I was expecting. Nevertheless, being the tenacious, adventurous vegan that I am, I just had to give the loaf another chance! This time I chose the recipe from A Celebration of Wellness. Onions, garlic, sage, basil, mushrooms and green peppers--how could I go wrong? So I made this loaf and was it ever tasty! It reminds me of the meatloaf my papa used to make.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Banana Walnut Muffins

These muffins are Rudiger's favorite. Moist and sweet, slightly chewy with that surprise crunch of the walnuts--yummy! Here's the recipe: (makes 12 medium-size muffins)
* 3 ripe bananas, mashed
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 cups whole grain flour (I recommend spelt)
* 1/2 to 3/4 cup sucanat or other natural, unrefined sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
* 1/2 cup almond, soy, or rice milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin pan. Mix the mashed bananas with the olive oil in a small mixing bowl, set aside. In a larger mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and stir well. Add in the banana mixture along with the milk and walnuts. Mix just until everything comes together. Fill the muffin cups with the batter just shy of the top, and bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops are brown.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tofu-Veggie Kebabs with Quinoa-wild Rice Pilaf

We had this for dinner last night and it was delicous! Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wa) is a quick-cooking, highly nutritous grain full of complete protein.
For the tofu marinade:
* 1/4 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos or reduced-sodium soy sauce
* 1/3 cup water
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* 1 clove garlic, crushed
* plenty of black pepper

* 1 block extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained and blotted dry
* 1 each: green bell pepper, red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper
* handful small mushrooms, cut in half
* 1 small zucchini
* 8 bamboo skewers, soaked in water 10 min.
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
Begin by mixing all the marinade ingredients together in a shallow bowl. Cut up the tofu into cubes (1 inch square is good), then mix into the marinade so each piece gets some marinade action. Let sit in the fridge at least several hours, if not overnight.

When you're ready to make your kebabs, cut the veggies into the same size pieces as your tofu (this will ensure everything on the skewer gets cooked evenly.) Preheat the oil in a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, alternate the veggies with the tofu on the skewers to your liking. Once the pan has heated up, cook the kebabs for 7-8 minutes (until dark brown, not burnt) on one side, then turn and cook another 7-8 minutes or so. Unused tofu and veggies can be used to make stir-fry the next day!

Quinoa-Wild Rice Pilaf with Pine Nuts:
* 1/3 cup wild rice, rinsed
* 1 2/3 cup water
* 1/3 cup quinoa
* 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
* pinch dried basil
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
* 3 tablespoons pine nuts
* Salt (or Liquid Aminos) and black pepper, to taste

Combine the wild rice and water in a medium size sauce pan. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer 40 minutes. Do not lift the lid during this time to peek at the rice or to stir it. After the 40 minutes, add in the quinoa and simmer 10 minutes more, until the water is absorbed and the wild rice is tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients and enjoy!