Low-fat, Soy-free, Gluten-free: Vegan Cheezy BBQ Lentil Nachos

Today is the Super Bowl!

But I won’t be watching it. We aren’t really sports fans at my place. Like, at all.

However, I do LOVE making snack dishes that can be used for such occasions! I am a huge snacker, and there’s something so nice about having something delicious to munch on while enjoying the company of others. And although this weekend has been more about barricading myself in my apartment with the pets and my Nintendo 3DS (yep, I’m a gamer), I still felt like making myself a crunchy, salty finger food.

Maybe the Super Bowl spirit is rubbing off on me a bit.

Thus, the following nacho recipe was born, which turned out so great that I’m sharing it for you to enjoy the crispy barbecue cheesiness as well. Enjoy!

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Vegan Cheezy BBQ Nachos

1 bag Frito Lay Baked Tostitos (or any type of tortilla chips, but I prefer these because they’re low fat and easy to find)
2 cups cooked lentils
1.5 c chopped spinach
1 zucchini, diced
2 green onions, chopped

BBQ Cheezy Sauce:
2 c almond milk (or whatever milk you like)
1/4 c flour (I used white whole wheat)
2/3 c nutritional yeast
1/2 c barbecue sauce
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp cumin

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange chips in a single layer on sheet.

3. Make the Cheezy sauce by whisking all sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan and heating over medium heat until it thickens, stirring frequently.

4. Sprinkle lentils, spinach, zucchini, and green onions evenly over chips.

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5. Pour prepared Cheezy sauce over everything as evenly as possible.

6. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the sauce has darkened a bit and chips are browned slightly.

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Serve immediately, and enjoy!

TexaVegan: Low-Fat, Down-Home Recipes for Everyone

I got a ton of cookbooks for Christmas this year.

Everyone in my life knows I love to cook and bake, so these were perfect gifts for me that I was overjoyed to receive! The list includes:

Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

The Cheesy Vegan by John Schlimm

Vegan Pizza by Julie Hasson

Easy as Vegan Pie by Hannah Kaminsky

The Vegan Bible by Editors of Publications International Ltd.

Happy Herbivore Light & Lean by Lindsay Nixon (who is the BEST!)

The only problem is: which to cook/bake from first!

Well, I’m actually starting off with a cookbook I didn’t receive as a Christmas gift, but that I received around the same time and have been given the opportunity to review: TexaVegan by Deborah Brutsche. Also, I thought it looked awesome and pretty perfect for my dietary preferences.

And, as hinted at from the title, the author — Deborah Brutsche — is from Texas like me!

So, a couple thoughts on the book before I get into the recipes I made:

  • This would be a great cookbook to give someone just starting to cook vegan. Brutsche goes over the different types of vegan items called for throughout her cookbook; however, basically all of the ingredients used are basic and easy to find. She even has a whole section called “Stocking a Vegan Fridge” that lists all the vegan kitchen staples and explanations of them.
  • Most of the recipes seem quick and contain ingredients that are easily accessible in basic grocery stores. For each dish I’ve made so far, I already had most everything I needed for them.
  • Although the cookbook is “low-fat”, Brutsche does use a slight amount of oil in many of the recipes, which I try to avoid usually. However, even though I usually leave out/replace oil called for in any recipe, for these I did so as to stick strictly to the recipe.
  • The book also doesn’t contain any pictures, which may turn some people off, but I promise the taste and appearance of the finished recipes more than make up for it!

Now, for the first dish:

Bean & Chili Pasta Bake

This was delicious!! Quick, easy, and worked well as a weeknight meal. I love pasta dishes, and I love how baking it gave the noodles a nice crispiness. The sauce was pretty simple, with basic veggies like tomatoes, corn, and onions. I plan to make it a regular.

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Potato & Veggie Sausage Bake

Another baking dish! As implied in the title, this one called for vegan sausage (Gimme Lean brand is what I used).

Here’s the meat being sauteed and browned…
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Then a yogurt sauce with green onions and spices…

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And everything layered and baked with sliced red potatoes!

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Now, I am actually not a big fan of veggie “meat” substitutes. Honestly, they freak me out a little bit with how similar they are to actual meat… which I guess is a compliment to the modern vegan meat companies! But I was still very impressed with this recipe. The yogurt sauce was my favorite. And my boyfriend LOVED it with veggie sausage. So I would make it again for sure, maybe just picking around the meat for me. 🙂

Nut & Medjool Date Crust with the Yogurt Pie Filling.

Brutsche includes several crust recipes and then separate pie fillings recipes, so you can easily mix and match any of them. I went with this combo — an almond-date crust and cream cheese yogurt filling — which was extremely easy and very delicious! I also added some sliced banana between the crust and filling, because I’ve made several Engine 2 pies that did this and were really amazing.

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Yum!! Probably my favorite recipe so far, just because I love dessert and I love cream cheese. 🙂

So, overall, I’m very impressed with this cookbook and intend to pull recipe ideas out of it regularly. I would recommend it to anyone, whether vegan for many years of veg-curious, because of the easy yet creative recipes. You just have to overlook the fact that there are no pictures. Well done, Deborah Brutsche!

What is most important to you when buying a cookbook — do you look for quick recipes, creative recipes, pretty pictures, or something else?

2014: Focusing on the positives

Happy 2014, everyone! I know everybody says things like this each January, but I can’t believe it’s already the year 2014.  I still remember when the millennium was quickly approaching and the twenty-teens seemed like a lifetime away. I certainly had images of myself in 2014, but I just imagined myself as a mature adult with everything put together.

“Put together.” Ha. But I can say that I’m very happy with my life in my early adult years, and I’m excited for a new year.

I used to be the type of person who refused to set solid New Year’s resolutions. It seemed like too much pressure, and I try to focus on just bettering myself in general, so why set it all on one day?

But now, there are actually a couple of things I want to pay special attention to for this year. I have some dreams that I want to make reality sometime in the near future, and I feel these resolutions are a good step in that direction.

So here are my resolutions for 2014:

1. Focus on the positive in any situation. This has been hard for me at times, like when I’ve started a new job or had something change in my schedule that through off my initial plans. I can often be stubborn about what I want and have difficulty adapting to anything that strays from my expectations. My boyfriend and a co-worker have been a great inspiration for me to be an optimist in these situations, though, and I’m already noticing a change in my attitude just from avoiding the “doom and gloom” I sometimes tend to focus on.

And the most important one (to me):

2. Finish at least one creative project every two weeks.

As mentioned above, I have dreams for my future, and the more I think about it, the more I’m pretty certain I want to have my own business at some point. I love baking, working on websites and graphic design, I have most of what I need for a jewelry making venture I’ve been planning for a while.

I’m extremely passionate about reaching others through delicious, healthy versions of foods. So if I can stay focused on some of these projects, the closer I can get to figuring out exactly what I want to do. This blog will definitely be a big part of this. 🙂 At least that’s the plan. It’s not obvious from reading here, but I’m always experimenting with recipe ideas, and I want to showcase that more here. So I’ll be focusing on more recipes more often.

So, those are my focuses for now! I’m excited about what’s ahead and feeling really motivated to take my passions and work on running with them.

What kinds of resolutions did you guys make for the new year, if any? I’d love to hear about any thoughts you have on 2014!