Category Archives: Weight Loss

Black Bean, Zucchini and Olive Tacos

Black Bean Zucchini Olive Tacos

This is one of those vegetarian (and vegan) dishes you can easily adapt to what you have.  This time of year, it would be fun to use squash, or pumpkin chunks, or sweet potatoes in place of the zucchini.

You can use any bean, of course.  

The corn tortillas make it special.  Love the grain texture and taste.

Black Bean, Zucchini and Olive Tacos
Compliments of JennaDish

from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz 

teaspoon olive oil
2 zucchini, diced small (about 1lb)
2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced thinly
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olive, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 (6 ounce) can salsa verde (I used Frontero Tomatilla Sauce)
1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained &
8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1/2 cup finely chopped scallion

Garlic-Lemon Yogurt
1 cup unsweetened plain soy yogurt (Wildwood
is suggested)
2 -3 garlic cloves
Zest from 1/2 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon (3 Tbsp)
1/2 teaspoon light agave nectar

Preheat a heavy bottomed skillet over
medium-high heat. Pour in the oil and add the zucchini and jalapeno, sprinkle
with the salt. Saute for about 7 minutes, or until the zucchini is lightly

Add the garlic, olives, cumin, and coriander,
and saute for 2 minutes more.

Add the salsa verde and black beans and cook
for 5 minutes. The salsa should reduce a bit so its not soupy.

Mix the ingredients for the Garlic-Lemon
Yogurt if you are using.

Warm the tortillas in a skillet or wrap in a
moist towel and microwave for one minute. Serve with Garlic-Lemon Yogurt and chopped scallions. 


Quinoa with Hot Curry Veggie Saute

Quinoa with Sauteed Zucchini, Red Pepper, Tomatoes

I only learned of quinoa in the last 10 years or so.  As more people are becoming vegetarian or at least eating less meat, they are looking to plant-based foods high in protein.  

Speaking of plant-based protein, I recently read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell PhD, and Thomas M. Campbell II, MD.  It's about a 20-year study of the effects of certain foods on the body, especially the relationship between certain foods and chronic disease.  Bottom line, a plant-based diet is best for our bodies – eat no animal products (meat, dairy) or as little as possible, and as little refined carbohydrates as possible.  

I also just watched (for the second time) a 60 Minutes episode on the effects of sugar on our bodies.  Has a direct relation to chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, kidney problems, etc.

Quinoa Cooked in White Wine and Vegetable Broth
Meanwhile, back at the quinoa … like any other grain, in can be very plain if you just boil it in water. So it helps build in flavor if you use broth for the cooking liquid.  In this recipe, I also added a little white wine.

Quinoa with Hot Curry Veggie Saute
Compliments of JennaDish


3/4 cup vegetable broth 
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup quinoa 

1 shallot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
1 yellow squash, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
Pinch or two hot curry powder to taste (I used Penzy's)

Rinse the quinoa well.  Put the broth and wine in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Put quinoa in and stir, turn the heat to low, put the lid on and cook for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the shallot in a little oil over medium heat.  Add in mustard seed, if using, and stir around a minute.  Add squash and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes and curry powder and stir until heated and tomatoes are softened.  Taste for seasoning, adding a little more curry powder if desired.

Serve the vegetable over the quinoa.  Enjoy while hot.


Pasta and Sauce with Black Bean & Toasted Bread Crumb Topping

Pasta with Black Beans and Toasted Bread Crumbs and Onions


Pasta and Sauce with Black Bean & Toasted Bread Crumb Topping
Compliments of JennaDish

original recipe


8 ounces fresh pasta (mine is from Bouchard's at Findlay Market)
2 cups pasta sauce (I used Muir Glen's Organic, Cabernet Style) 
2 cups toasted bread crumbs (mine is from Blue Oven's Spelt Bread, ground and toasted)
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained 

Saute the bread crumbs in a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  After crumbs are heated, add the beans to the pan to heat up.

Meanwhile, heat the pasta sauce in a sauce pan, and cook the pasta according to package or vendor instructions.

Drain the pasta, serve in a bowl, top with sauce then the crumb/bean mixture.


Panzanella with Sunflower Seed Bread & Yellow Pear Tomatoes

Panzanella Salad

This salad, like most, is highly adaptable.  My first tip would be to use a dense, strong bread, in order to stand up to the saute and the liquids. 

Other than that, substitute a fresh veggie (think Italian) that seems to make sense, for a veggie you don't have.

I had some little pear tomatoes, so I used those instead of more peppers.  I also didn't have cucumber so I used a few of my fresh, homemade pickles.  If you're a pickle-lover go for it.  If not, nix that idea and sub something else.  It's too strong of a taste if you aren't thrilled with tangy pickles.


Panzanella with Sunflower Seed Bread & Yellow Pear Tomatoes
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from Ina Garten on Food

MAKES ABOUT 3 to 4 SERVINGS as a side

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups of 1" cubes of sunflower seed bread (or any dense, whole grain or sourdough bread)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large, ripe tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 to 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, sliced 1/2-inch thick (I used 1/3 cup fresh pickles)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
10 yellow pear tomatoes
1/2 red onion, chopped
10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 Tablespoons capers, drained


1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tablespoons Champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber (or pickles), red or yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.  The salad tastes even better the next day.

The Plant-Based Bowl: Quinoa, Black Beans, Tomatoes, and Caesar Chavez Dressing

Quinoa Bean Bowl with Caesar Chavez Dressing
Well, our 6-Week Vegan Challenge is up, but we are still trying to keep the habit of eating a mainly plant-based diet.

This is a "bowl."  It is very adaptable.

You simply choose a grain or healthy pasta (quinoa, rice, barley, soba noodles), a veggie or two, a bean, and a dressing or sauce.

I tried quinoa, black beans, tomatoes and Caesar Chavez Dressing.

The taste is great!  Not photogenic, but very tastogenic.  There.  I made up a word.


Caesar Chavez Dressing
Compliments of JennaDish

from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Serves 4 (or 2 if you're having a bowl of plain quinoa, which needs more sauce)

I found the cashews difficult to chop in the blender/food processor fully, so soaking them first would help, or even chopping, then mashing with a mortar and pestle. However, even without the prep, you'll have 4-5 teeny pieces of cashew chunks. Not a huge deal.

2 Tablespoons chopped shallot
2 Tablespoons cashew pieces
1 Tablespoon tahini
1 Tablespoon miso
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon capers with brine
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Blend it all in a blender or food processor until well blended, 2-5 minutes.

Vegan Ricotta & Spinach Lasagna

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Vegan Lasagna

I've never had a non-dairy lasagna.  I was bracing myself to be tolerant. But to my surprise, it tasted just like another awesome Italian dish.  No tolerance necessary.

Vegan Spinach Lasagna

Alyssa and Allen liked it also.  Jill wouldn't try it. 

The "ricotta cheese" is replaced by a mixture of crumbled extra firm tofu, roasted cauliflower and nutritional yeast flakes.

No Dairy No Meat Lasagna

Here it is assembled and ready for the oven….

Cut Vegan Lasagna

and after being baked and cut.

Also, I used plain lasagna noodles, which is what we had on hand.  But the original recipe called for, and I would recommend, using whole wheat.


Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta & Spinach
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz


Drain the tofu well by squeezing gently to release much of the excess water, then wrapping the tofu well in thick paper towels and setting a heavy on top for 10 minutes or more.  You can make the "ricotta" mixture ahead and refrigerate.  Hodgson Mill's makes a whole wheat lasagna with flax seed.

1 head cauliflower, chopped into 1/2" pieces
3 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound extra firm tofu, drained well
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6-8 grinds of freshly ground pepper, or a few pinches canned pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil (or add about 10 fresh basil leaves, torn)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt

5 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken in half, cooked according to directions
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup black olives or green olives for top, (other ideas: pepperonata, capers, roasted red pepper strips)

Summary of Timing: 
Preheat oven, start draining process with tofu, meanwhile roast cauliflower, meanwhile put pot of pasta water on medium low (so that getting it to the boiling point later won't take as long), start on sauce by sauteeing garlic in oil, after "ricotta" mixture is finished, turn pasta water up to high and start cooking noodles.  Basically, you have 3 things to make,but you never have more than 2 things going on at the same time that you have to watch.  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  

On a heavy baking sheet or roasting pan, drizzle a little olive oil and spread over bottom, dump the cauliflower pieces in a pile, drizzle with remaining 2 teaspoons oil, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and mix together well with your hands, coating all pieces of cauliflower.  Spread evenly over pan.  It doesn't have to be a single layer. 

Bake for 10 minutes, remove and stir/flip cauliflower well with spatula.  Bake for another 10 minutes. Flip and stir again.  Bake another 5-10 minutes if necessary, until cauliflower is lightly browned and tender.  Set aside.  Turn heat down to 350 degrees F.

In the meantime, in a pot that will hold the tomato sauce, turn heat to medium, pour the 2 teaspoons oil and sautee the garlic until lightly golden and starting to become aromatic (don't burn), pour in the crushed tomatoes and thyme and let simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally so it doesn't stick.

Crumble the drained tofu into a medium mixing bowl, add the nutritional yeast and lemon juice and mix well.  Add the cauliflower, mix well, and mash well with a potato masher, or pulse it a few times in a food processor.  Set aside.

Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions – a little salt and a little oil is recommended. Drain, run cold water over noodles to stop cooking, lay them out on a lint-free towel or on a plate. 

To assemble:  In an 8×8" baking dish or something close – I used an 8"x10" clear Pyrex baking dish – put a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Place a single layer of noodles on the sauce, spread 1/3 of the "ricotta" mixture evenly over the noodles, layer with 1 cup chopped spinach evenly, pour on a cup of sauce.  Repeat this one more time.  Then the last layer will be noodles, then sauce, then the "ricotta" (no spinach).  Sprinkle will olives in whatever design you prefer.

Bake 40 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and top has at least lightly browned.  Serve immediately or let cool just a few minutes.  Unlike regular cheese lasagna, this dish will not hold it's heat for very long, so don't plan on letting it cool more than 10 minutes.


Crispy Kale Chips

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Crispy Kale Chips
Kale Chips

I've never had kale chips.  But these were awesome!  I was cramming these crispy, salty, flakes in my mouth like a mad woman.

And Alyssa loved them so much, she made 2 batches the next night.

Salty Kale Chips
BIG TIP:  1 teaspoon of kosher salt per bunch of kale was WAY too much for me.  See the oiled, crispy salt flakes piled on the kale above?

When Alyssa made her batches, I requested less salt, so she just lightly sprinkled some.  

So much better.   


Compliments of JennaDish

1 bunch kale, trimmed of center rib, washed and dried, cut into 1-2" pieces
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or big pinch
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 275o F.

Place cut pieces of kale evenly across a large cookie sheet.  Drizzle oil and sprinkle salt over the kale and toss well to distribute oil and salt evenly over the pieces.

Bake 10 minutes, turn and toss kale, then bake another 10 minutes.

Eat right away or let cool and store in an airtight container.


Blackened Tofu

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Broiled Blackened Tofu
Alyssa made us some healthy, broiled, blackened tofu.  She worked very hard to put a nice, individualized, tofu salad together for each of us.

Allen is "not a tofu person" and Jill is very particular about textures.  But even they cleaned their plates.

Spinach Salad with Blackened Tofu
Mine was a spinach salad with tofu, pecans, dried craisins and homemade Italian salad dressing.  I, too, was a member of the clean plate club.  We also had a pile of fruit.  I felt pleasantly full when finished. And the tofu had this to offer per serving:

100 calories, 7g fat, 5g carb, 2g fiber, 2g sugar, 9g protein, 0mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 15% daily Vitamin A, 20% daily Calcium and 15% daily Iron.


Broiled Blackened Tofu
Compliments of JennaDish

from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz


2 1/2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced

1 block tofu (about 14 ounces, pressed or not), sliced into 8 equal pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce (wheat-free tamari keeps this dish gluten free)

In a shallow dish, mix the spice blend and set aside.

Adjust the oven shelf to be 6" under the broiler.  Preheat the oven to broil.  Spray a bakingsheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Poke each slice of tofu iwth a fork three or four times, to let the flavors seep in.

Put the olive oil and soy sauce in a small bowl.  Dip each piece in the oil mixture then lightly dredge each side in the dry mixture.  Place in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray.  Broil for about 12 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Watch closely as to not let it burn. When done, it should look dark all over and black in some spots.  


Healthy Vegan Buckwheat Pancakes

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Vegan Buckwheat Pancakes

Make Healthy, Non-Dairy, Buckwheat Pancakes.  They're easy.  

Healthy Vegan Banana Buckwheat PancakesVegan Buckwheat Banana Pancakes

Or better yet.  Make Healthy, Non-Dairy, Buckwheat Banana Pancakes.  Just as easy.

Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Flour
I used Arrowhead Mills Flour.  Bob's Red Mill is also a fantastic brand.

Buckwheat Flour


Flaxmeal Egg Replacer
Vegans replace eggs with a mixture of ground flaxseed meal and water.  1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water = 1 egg.  Mix this together first when you start a recipe and set aside.  It needs 10 minutes or so to sit and thicken so the consistency is more egg-like.


Vegan Buckwheat Pancakes
Compliments of JennaDish


1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed meal + 3 Tablespoons water (mix and set aside)
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (can also use spelt, whole wheat or white all-purpose)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar (can use white, raw cane, brown – whatever you prefer)
1 cup soy milk (or any non-dairy like almond milk or rice milk)
1 teaspoon canola oil (or olive oil)
Additional water, about 1/4 – 1/3 cup
Canola oil for the pan
Banana, Blueberries, other fruit, optional 

Mix the flaxseed meal and water and set aside.  Heat a cast iron skillet with Tablespoon of oil in it or heavily sprayed with cooking spray, on low, while preparing the recipe.  

In a medium bowl, mix the 5 dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients – milk, oil, water – starting with the smallest amount of water and adding to desired consistency.  Should not be runny, but should also not be so thick it won't pour out of a measuring cup into the pan.

Turn the heat up to medium low or medium, depending on your stove.  To test if the pan and oil are the right temperature, flick some water from your hand into the pan.  If it barely sears, it may not be hot enough, if it practically explodes and pops – too hot.  You want it to sizzle moderately.

Take 1/4 cup measuring cup of batter and pour it slowly into a pile, trying to keep a round shape.  Let cook until bubbles form around the edge and maybe a little longer (lift and peek to see if brown enough for you).  Flip over and finish cooking on other side.  

For Banana Pancakes, once you pour the batter in the pan, quickly add banana slices on top of the batter. Flip when ready, making sure you let the banana caramelize and brown enough so that it releases from the pan easier.  

Serve with your favorite syrup or topping.

Buffalo Tempeh

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Spicy Tempeh wand Zucchini Fritters

This is my first experience with Tempeh.  And it went well!

Tempeh is a soy product with lots of protein.  It can look like a piece of art…

Tempeh Block
… or a cobblestone sidewalk for a doll house.

How to Steam Tempeh
For Buffalo Tempeh, you steam the tempeh, then throw it in some marinade for a quick bit.

This is my cheap steamer basket from WalMart.  It folds up and fits in a small area for easy storage.

I got this recipe from our new cookbook, Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  I had to adapt it slightly.  I was fresh out of vegetable broth.

So I SUBSTITUTED!!! My favorite thing to do. And I lucked out.  It was delish.

Here's what it looks like in the marinade….

Tempeh in Buffalo Marinade

Hmmm.  Almost looks like blue cheese.

Since you've steamed the tempeh, it will be softened.  And once it's been in the marinade even a few minutes, it will be even more softened.  At that point, you can keep it in chunks or break it up.  Massage the  tempeh from the outside of the bag in order to break up the chunks into a uniform crumble.

Spicy Tempeh
 Cook a few minutes until heated through and pile on top of zucchini fritters, a

baked sweet potato, or your favorite veggies.


Buffalo Tempeh
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz 


8 ounces tempeh, cut into wedges 

1/2 cup carrot juice or vegetable broth 
1/4 cup cayenne hot sauce (I used Frank's)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano or Mexican oregano

To create wedges, slice the tempeh in half across the waist.  Slice the resulting square to make a total of 4 rectangles.  Slice each of those rectangles corner to corner. (as in photo above)

Prepare a steamer.  Steam the tempeh for about 5 minutes – it will soften the tempeh and allow it to soak up the marinade.  

Mix the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl or zip-loc bag.  Place the cooked tempeh in the marinade for 10 minutes to an hour.  If using a zip-loc bag, leave the bag so it can breathe and cool.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray or use a small amount of canola or olive oil.  Add the tempeh slices while reserving the marinade.  Cook for 10 minutes, flipping often, until it has browned a bit.  Add the remaining liquid and turn up the heat.  Let the liquid boil and cook down for about 5 minutes. 

Serving Ideas: Serve with vegan mac and cheese, over potato pancakes, zucchini fritters, or a baked sweet potato.