seven simple zero waste salad dressings

spinach carrot apple avocado lentil vegan salad

apples, spinach, avocado, carrot, lentils, pumpkin seeds with the mustardy dressing

I haven’t bought bottled dressing since I was pregnant with Vin 6 years ago.  When Joel and I got married, he introduced me to the world of homemade vinaigrettes and sauces and I never looked back.  The flavor was just so much more amazing than anything bottled, it was way cheaper, and had none of the questionable ingredients that shelf stable bottles are packed with- inferior oils, thickeners, preservatives, sugars, non-food ingredients.  Before, I had subsisted on: Hidden Valley Ranch + Wishbone Italian.

It only takes a minute or two to whip up a good dressing, so I personally like to make them fresh every time- I often will whisk on up in the bottom of the salad bowl before I throw the lettuce in!  If you are super busy, make one or two on the weekend to keep in the fridge during the week.  Having this on hand will make eating fresh produce, buddha bowls, salads, so much more enjoyable and tasty.  For me, having a sauce or dressing is essential and key to getting in so many plants and greens.

Here are seven of my favorite dressings that are not only delicious, but are so much healthier for you; and often loaded with nutrients of their own.  It’s no surprise that tahini is the base for many of these, it’s a pantry staple here and makes for a nutty, mineral dense, creamy whole food base.

caesar: (oil free)  creamy, salty, briny, delicious- I’ve gotten great reviews on this one from omnivores and vegans and husbands and kids and so many of you!  One of my favorites, and it’s easy to make.  I eat it with kale and romaine and crunchy oven roasted chickpeas and vegan parm.  Find the recipe for it HERE.  With a batch of oven fries, this is often our Friday night dinner.

kale romaine vegan caesar gluten free chickpea

mustardy house vinaigrette:  such a basic and versatile vinaigrette, great on salad, roasted veggies, tossed with steamed potatoes and/or green beans, and especially on hearty bitter greens like escarole, endive, or radicchio with some sweet apple, pear, or walnuts.  I don’t eat a ton of oil, but in the fall/winter I can’t get enough of this one.  See it in action in THIS December meal plan.

1/4 cup whole grain mustard, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons honey or agave syrup, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (minced), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, all whisked together.  taste and adjust- adding a bit more of this or that to adjust to your own preferences.

mustard vinaigrette lemon thyme french

green goddess tahini:  I’ve made this recipe about a thousand times, no joke.  It’s the perfect dip or dressing when you want something herby, GREEN and fresh + it has so many goodies from all the herbs + plenty of healthy, whole fat from tahini to help your fat soluble vitamins absorb. Find the recipe HERE.

the-greenest-tahini-sauce

image via bonappetit.com

3-2-1 dressing:  (oil free) this one is my go-to when I want something a little sweet and super easy.  It’s just 3 parts balsamic, 2 parts dijon mustard (I love Maille brand), and 1 part maple syrup.  Make as much or as little as you need.  I like to add either 1 clove minced garlic or a small minced shallot + some fresh chopped thyme or marjoram + plenty of fresh cracked pepper.

carrot miso ginger dressing:  (oil free) this one is a tahini base (full of minerals!), bright orange, tangy and delicious on plain greens, spinach, cucumbers, and my kids like to use it to dip veggies in.  Find the recipe on Oh Dear Drea HERE (side note- I love her blog, one of the only blogs I’ve read and checked in on long-term).

Vincent kids salad

peanut (or almond) dressing:  (oil free) SO quick, universally adored by adults and kids alike, a little sweet/salty/sour, and perfect for a big crunchy salad.  Get the recipe HERE.

salad

citrus ginger tahini:  (oil free) this one is creamy, tangy, sweet, with a little kick from the ginger and garlic.  You can thin it out for salad or make it thicker for bowls.  If you don’t have a good blender, I recommend chopping or grating the garlic and ginger very finely, then whisking it all throughly.  Blend until smooth:

1/4 cup tahini
1 small or 1/2 a large lemon, zested and juiced
1 orange, zested and juiced (you can save your peels to make all purpose cleaner!  recipe HERE)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
grated ginger- amount depending on your spice level, I use about 1 teaspoon
1 small clove garlic
2 tablespoons maple syrup, or other sweetener of choice like agave or honey
salad citrus tahini dressing no oil
I hope you guys try some of these out and if you have an easy favorite dressing, please drop it in the comments for others (and me!) to also try and enjoy.
Hope you’re having a beautiful week.  I so appreciate you.  xx

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feel good pantry essentials

pantry

These are my essentials for a stocked pantry.  I don’t meal plan much anymore, instead I have embraced intuitive eating (eating specifically what my body craves that day) and it feels so right.  Before, I used to feel hemmed in to whatever I had planned that day to eat.  If I ended up feeling like something different for dinner…more spicy, more simple, less fat, more fat, more proteins, more carbs, less raw, more raw…than what I had planned, there was this feeling of disconnect between my body’s natural intuition and what I was telling it it “had” to eat.  (Of course, sometimes I still do meal plan if I’m having an especially busy week, because sanity)

However, there’s also the logistics of intuitive eating.  You guys often ask me, how can I craft things on demand and still have time for life?  The answer for me (and it may be different for you) lies with stocking my pantry and fridge with certain base foods.  With these, I can add any kind of fresh, local, seasonal produce and herbs to create something delicious and unique to what my body needs in that moment.  For how can I say what I will want or what I will need in the future?  We can guess, but it’s really a fools game.  Surrender to the moment, to your innate knowing of what your body needs.  I’ve also learned to embrace simplicity.  Meals that are too complicated or take too long to make are simply not included in our usual rotation anymore.

It’s really freeing to liberate yourself from the “what’s for dinner” stress.  A starch, a legume, a fresh raw component and steamed or raw greens + a sauce and maybe some nuts or seeds is a balanced and easy meal that you can have for dinner a million times without it getting old by switching up the ingredients.  If you cook a big pot of beans at the beginning of the week, you can use them in a buddha bowl now night, a stir fry the next, as the base for veggie burgers, then the last of them in a soup with all the leftover veggies in your fridge + spices, broth or coconut milk.  Experiment.  Choose flavors based on your taste, not a recipe.  This is what makes cooking fun, not a chore.  Taste as you go, use your hands, get messy and laugh.  Share with friends and loved ones.  Prepare with love, eat with gratitude.

Here’s my personal essentials for crafting well balanced, whole food plant based meals.  Let me know what yours are too.  I’d love to know (and learn!).  To read more about my zero waste kitchen, click HERE.

pantry

dried chickpeas:  my most favorite bean to have on hand, chickpeas are so so versatile.  They are one of the oldest consumed crops in the world.  Packed with manganese, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and plant protein, and so tasty.  Their mild taste makes them the perfect base for hummus, chickpea salad sammies, soups, buddha bowls, brownies, curries, this vegan caesar, and more.

black beans:  my second favorite bean, I always have these around too.  Whether making this creamy spiced soup, or a simple pot of them, thick and glossy to eat as a side to tacos, these small beans are packed with antioxidants, TONS of iron, calcium, phosphorus, and fiber. They are perfect as the base for fudgy, rich one bowl brownies, too (promise you can’t even detect the beans whatsoever).  Cooked with rice, onions, and peppers cuban style, they make a perfect and easy one pot meal.

red lentils:  so fast to cook, creamy and comforting texture, and rich in minerals and slow digesting carbohydrates and filling protein.  One of my all time favorite meals is this lemony spinach soup with red lentils- fast, filling, packed with greens and so cozy.  Also the perfect base for a dahl with coconut, cilantro, tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, curry spices.

french lentils:  these small lentils are my favorite over the big brown ones because they hold their shape and stay chewy tender, making them perfect to mix into grain or green salads.  I like to make a marinated batch like this one and add into meals throughout the week, mixing it with this carrot salad, or mixing it with leftover grains, herbs and sautéed garlicky zucchini for a quick summer salad.

cannellini beans:  so creamy and comforting, they cook up like a dream and are so good that I even dedicated an entire meal plan to them HERE.  Mix them into a greek salad, eat them with pasta, blend them into a creamy dip or base for a dressing, eat them over bread toasted and rubbed with garlic, eat them with sautéed greens for a cucina povera style meal.

white cannelini beans dried soaked

quinoa (I like red and tricolor for extra nutrition): an easy digesting grain (technically a seed) traditionally consumed in South America.  I love it in a Peruvian style soup with corn, in grain salads, or mixed in with massaged kale.  If you make a big batch you can freeze, or use as a hot cereal base with plant milk, fruit, maple syrup, cinnamon, etc as a quick and healthy breakfast.

arborio or bomba rice:  this sticky short grained rice is the perfect thing for risotto amd paella.  Often I throw a handful into a quick soup with sliced potatoes, kale or cabbage, onion and carrot + broth and herbs and nutritional yeast for a super quick emergency dinner when I get off work late.

brown rice pasta:  I like to use the Jovial brand, a woman run company that uses no plastic in their packaging and has superior taste and texture to any other gf pasta I’ve tried.  Toss with sautéed summer veggies and some vegan parm for an easy summer meal or make a lentil bolognese.

chickpea flour:  After cooking from Dolly and Oatmeal‘s Chickpea Flour Does it All cookbook, I could never be without this!  Makes such a good, healthy base for creamy sauces (baked Alfredo pasta!), vegan frittata/quiche, socca 
(gf flatbread) and more.

oats:  a breakfast staple, my kids have oats almost every morning- either steel cut or rolled.  Blended into a flour, oats make a more healthful alternative to wheat in baking.

polenta:  essentially a type of cornmeal, I grew up eating this all the time- it’s cheap and filling and oh so comforting.  Also, it cooks very quickly.  Eat a warm bowl of it with marinara and cannellini beans and veggies, with pesto stirred through, with sautéed greens, with breakfast toppings (like you would oats), or let it cool in a baking pan and slice into pieces and bake or sauté till crispy.  Make frascatula.

popcorn:  One of my favorite bulk snacks, buy popcorn kernels and pop whenever you want at home!  If you need directions, this is a good post, or scour the thrift stores for an air popper.  We even pack this to take on hikes or car trips.  I like nutritional yeast and chili and/or salt on mine.

popcorn

tahini:  the darling of my kitchen, I go through so much tahini.  Perfect as a base for salad dressing, sauces for buddha bowls, stuffed inside a date for a sweet treat, drizzled in hummus, in my favorite cumin lentils recipe, and a million more things.  Tahini is packed full of minerals and healthy fats.

cashews:  I use cashews as a creamy vegan base for milks, sour cream for tacos/beans, in my coconut yogurt recipe, and for creamy sauces and this ricotta.

hemp seeds:  packed with nutrition (protein, minerals, omegas), these tiny seeds are some of the best to consume.  I aim to get them in daily (especially for the kids).  I use as a base for my sunshine latte, for cashew hemp milk, in green smoothies, or on top of our oats or salads.

flax seeds:  same as hemp seeds, I aim to get these in every day for their amazing nutritional benefits.  I buy them whole, store in the freezer, and grind a small half pint amount as needed.  We sprinkle on oats and our favorite house salad.  They also make a great egg replacer for baking.

chia seeds:  same as hemp and flax, this is another daily seed.  Sometimes I cook them with the morning oats, or soak them in hemp milk and add to green smoothies, or make chia pudding with them.  This peach chia breakfast shake is also delicious.  Ground chia can be used as an egg replacer for baking as well.

pumpkin seeds:  Toasted in a dry pan until they pop, pepitas are a delicious and crunchy snack, salad/grain bowl topper, oatmeal topper, or process with cilantro, lime, and olive oil to make a pesto.  Pipian verde is another favorite.

sesame seeds:  toast them up and keep on hand to: add to grain bowls, this thai-ish peanut chopped salad, miso soup, crumble with seaweed over plain rice, grind into tahini and make these brownies, make everything bagel spice….

almond butter:  blend it with water to make instant nut milk, add a dollop on banana ice cream, whisk it with lime/garlic/tamari/maple to make a dressing/sauce, dip apples in it, bake cookies with it.  This kale salad is so good and has an almond butter dressing.

Pantry zero waste

ume plum vinegar:  I love this super flavored vinegar to spice up plain veggies and bowls.  Especially good in this seaweed cabbage slaw (a quick lunchtime favorite tucked into tortillas with avocado) and this creamy kale, apple, cashew slaw.

balsamic vinegar:  I use this in a simple 3-2-1 dressing that you can whip up in less than a minute.  Just 3 parts balsamic, 2 parts dijon mustard, and 1 part maple syrup- I often add chopped fresh thyme and shallot/garlic and black pepper too.

apple cider vinegar:  perfect for pickling brine, dressings, and sauces.

coconut aminos:  this is a salty-sweet condiment made from fermented coconut nectar and sea salt.  A little goes and long way and it’s perfect to add to sauces, bowls, sautéed tofu or tempeh, simple steamed veggies and mixed with lime, chili flakes, and PB or AB for a simple sauce.

tamari:  I always keep tamari on hand for bolstering sauces, dressings, cooking simple asian inspired dishes, peanut noodles, ramen soup in winter, and sautéing with kale or mushrooms.

green Miso chickpea herb noodle soup

miso:  I use miso all the time- a dollop adds just the right amount of salty, funky flavor to carrot ginger dressing, plain steamed brown rice, and of course miso soup.

coconut milk:  I always keep a few cans around for curries, dahls, and this coconut cabbage slaw.

canned tomatoes:  I make my own every September with my mom, it’s fun and really easy although time consuming.  We set aside the weekend and can enough to last us through the whole year.  We simply use the directions that come in the pressure cooker manual- my moms been doing this for decades so I just follow her lead and act as the tomato peeling minion.  Consider making your own this summer- or roasting and freezing a la Zero Waste Chef.  The flavor is infinitely better than any store bought can, ever.  Promise it’s worth the effort for sauces, soups, stews, and chilis all winter long.

dates:  Dates are the most nutrient dense whole food sweetener- they have a low glycemic index, are packed with minerals, and have a deep caramelly flavor.  I use them instead of sugar to sweeten my sunshine latte, stuffed with nut butter or tahini + flaky salt for a sweet treat, processed with cocoa powder, vanilla, salt and walnuts as a raw brownie, cooked into almond butter brownies, and in sauces like this Mac salad for a sweetness without the refined stuff.  I buy mine from this woman run California farm.

Date sweet

fresh herbs:  cilantro, basil, parsley, dill, mint, thyme, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and sage all make it into our meals regularly.  Years ago I planted some of these and they have grown huge which is amazing.  Herbs are so easy to grow, even in a sunny window in a pot you can often have success.  Herbs are packed with flavor, color and minerals so load them up on your plate!  Tabbouleh and this winter green miso paste are two amazing ways to get in a lot of herbs.

fresh lemon/lime:  I always have these two on hand for squeezing on dishes, blending into a dressing or sauce, and zesting into dishes.  This citrus ginger tahini dressing is one of my favorites.

ginger + turmeric:  these deeply flavored rhizomes are not only super anti-inflammatory, they also taste amazing.  If you have access to the fresh stuff, it tastes way better.  I use the turmeric in curries, Dahl, saffron rice, savory coco yogurt with chiles, and lattes.  The ginger, in tahini dressing, asian inspired sauces and stir fries, soups, and grated or sliced fresh with lemon in hot water for immunity tea.

Aleppo chili flakes:  these bright red flakes look beautiful on food and have a mild heat and salty, almost lemony flavor.  Worth picking up if you can find them.

smoked paprika:  adds that smoky, rich, deep flavor to things that would normally have cured meats.

chipotle en adobo:  basically chipotle chiles in a tomatoey sauce, this lasts in the fridge forever (months and months) and it adds so much depth to chilis, or add a dollop to a cashew crema, use it as the base for jackfruit tinga tacos, anything where you want a smoky flavor.

nutritional yeast:  cheesy flavor that adds depth to soups, sauces, dressings, vegan cheeses and popcorn.

mustard:  I love Dijon and whole grain mustard to whisk into vinaigrette, dressings and sauces.  My all time favorite brand is Maille (and it comes in glass with a metal lid).

kimchi vegan

kraut, kimchi:  fermented foods are a huge part of our life!  Personally I feel that my digestion improved so much after I added homemade ferments to my diet.  Especially having kraut or kimchi with grains makes my tummy so happy.  I make my kraut with red cabbage or half and half to get all those bright colors and antioxidants too.  Kimchi is amazing added to this kimchi tofu stew, kimchi fried rice, with noodles, or even blended into dressings.

lunch bowl beet radish tahini snap pea

pickled veggies:  In addition to ferments, I always keep some kind of seasonal pickled veggie on hand in the fridge- they last about a week and are perfect for an acidic kick to just about anything!  Favorite are:  pickled onions, pickled beets, pickled radishes, and giardiniera.

Even if you have just a teensy space or budget, find your staples that make you feel good and that you love, and then always keep them around.  You’ll find over time it becomes second nature to cook meals at home, and it will bring you joy in the process (plus save money, less waste, more health).

Let me know below if you have any questions or what your staples are.  Happy Monday!

xo Amanda

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zero waste kitchen

zero waste kitchen

Our biggest source of trash used to be kitchen waste- food scraps, plastic food packaging, ziplock baggies, saran wrap, straws, aluminum foil, paper towels, sponges, and cleaning products.  Over time, what used to be the trashiest place in our house has turned into an efficient, simplified, easy to cook and clean area.  I can breathe when I look in the fridge and cabinets and everything is easy to see and use.  Here’s what I do to keep it that way.

zero waste cupboard

– I don’t buy single use items, and instead I found reusable solutions.  Instead of paper towels, I use rags.  I got rid of plastic wrap- there’s no need for it anyway, bee’s wrap  or vegan work well in its place.  I bought a mismatched set of colorful cloth napkins at World Market instead of paper napkins.  Instead of sandwich baggies, we started using a stainless steel lunchbox for Carmelas lunch and a bigger one for our own.  Or I simply wrap in a kitchen towel.  We stopped using garbage bags since most of the wet items were compostable.  I use stainless steel straws and glass straws instead of plastic.  Many of the single use items we were using, we really didn’t miss at all- on the contrary, I felt free letting go of them and the way it automatically de cluttered the kitchen.

Under the sink zero waste

under the sink from left to right: recycling crate, stainless steel compost bucket, dishwasher detergent with metal scoop.

– I buy in bulk instead of in packaging, at Davis Food Co-op and once every few months I make a day trip to Rainbow Grocery for harder to find items.  I bring my own jars and bags to the store and use those to buy grains, beans, nuts, peanut butter, vinegar, and more in the bulk section.  If you eat meat or cheese, you can take your clean jars to the deli counter, too.  The deli bar is a great source for olives and pickles, especially if you’re entertaining.  If you don’t have bulk access in your area, talk to the stores you have and encourage them to bring on even a few bulk options.  You have the power as a consumer!  (post on reducing impact without a bulk store)

zero waste kitchen

– I go to the farmer’s market to avoid produce twist ties and stickers, and to find veggies like cauliflower sans packaging.  find a market near you here.

zero waste food groceries

– I wash dishes with compostable wooden scrubbies, a knit cloth, and a stainless steel scourer instead of the plastic sponges and brushes I was using before.  For soap, I buy in bulk from Refill Madness, but liquid castile soap works well too, and I’ll be experimenting with this french block soap for dishes too (update 3/29/2018:  I’ve since switched to the french block soap for dishes and it’s fantastic.  Lathers nicely, cuts grease, smells fantastic and looks beautiful on the counter.  Food 52 shipped it to me with zero plastic packaging, too- all recycled paper).   As a rule, I generally prefer to avoid liquids when possible for soap and detergent as they involve more plastic for transport and use.  For dishwashers, opt for bulk powder or powder in a cardboard box.  I save the water from washing dishes to water outdoor plants.

dishes kitchen plastic free

– We started composting (check out this post for more info) and also reducing the amount of food waste by buying less at a time, and eating/using every part of the plant (beet and celery leaves, potato peels, freezing peelings to make veg stock with, adding coffee grounds to houseplants).

veggie scrap stock

veggie scraps ready to roast with miso, kombu + fresh onion for broth

– I preserve food in season to enjoy it out of season without the packaging: pickling, fermenting, and canning are all very simple once you learn how and are a great way to preserve.  I visit u-pick farms for cheap berries (and a fantastic family day) in the summer to stock up the freezer for winter without the plastic.  I can over 100 quarts of tomatoes every year with my mom to get us through the winter without cans of tomatoes.  You can freeze, too, if canning intimidates you.  But it’s so easy.  We just follow the directions that come with the pressure cooker!

home canned tomatoes

– I make a select few items that I can’t find in bulk.  It has to be easy, though- I don’t have time to make complicated stuff and I don’t like feeling overwhelmed.  Some examples of DIY staples here: coconut yogurt, sauerkraut, hot sauce.  Next up, mustard.

– If I cannot find items in bulk and I can’t/don’t want to make it myself, I go to the source: ice cream in my own jar at Good Scoop, bread from Village Bakery, chips from a taqueria, corn tortillas wrapped in a napkin from a restaurant I work at.

bulk ice cream

bulk vanilla coconut locally made ice cream

– I store food leftovers directly in glass jars and containers in the fridge.  No leaching of plastic, easy to see what’s in there, aesthetically pleasing, and can go straight from the bulk shop into my jar into my fridge.  No need to buy separate storage containers, canning jars do it all and are freezer safe too.  In depth guide to plastic free fridge storage here.

zero Waste fridge

– We eat all our leftovers- I freeze, repurpose, or reuse all of it.

– I’ve simplified appliances, gadgets, tools, pots and pans AND our cooking.  I only kept what we needed and used regularly.  Everything else- multiple sets of things, one trick ponies, things that only saw the light of day once a year, panini press, toaster that I hated cleaning, kitchen aid mixer that I had unrealistic expectations of my baking skills/time available attached to – got donated to friends or our community via Freecycle.

What are your biggest struggles with kitchen waste?  Leave questions/comments below!

xx Amanda

breakfast meal plan

tangerine juice raw

Hello again!  I hope you have had a fantastic week!  Lately I’ve received quite a few different questions about breakfast- what to eat for a vegan breakfast that won’t weigh you down but still keeps you full and energized.  Someone messaged me and said her partner was going plant based and he was having a hard time getting full without the meat and eggs.  So, for this “meal plan”, I thought I’d do something different and offer 7 different vegan breakfast ideas- both savory and sweet.

No matter what I eat for breakfast, I always start the day in winter with a quart of warm citrus water (lemon/lime) to warm up, hydrate, and get my liver and system functioning first thing.  This practice has improved my digestion 100 fold.  Also, I hardly drink coffee as I find it really irritating to my stomach and joints + it magnifies anxiety for me.  I love to have herbal tea, reishi coffee, Pu-erh tea or an herbal off sub like Teecino (which I can get in bulk at Rainbow Grocery).

I hope this gives you some good ideas and inspiration for a healthy breakfast.  I didn’t include pancakes mostly because I can’t stand sitting there and making them, flipping, waiting etc LOL but there’s so many great ones out there that use bananas and oats like this one.

monday:  green smoothie

green smoothie  vegan kale almond

Greens make me feel SO GOOD.  Seriously, amazing.  Greens are the most nutrient dense foods you can eat, calorie for calorie, and it feels so great to get them in first thing in the morning.  I love so many types of green smoothies, but our two faves lately have been this Erin Ireland green smoothie (pictured above- I use almond milk and almond butter and swap out the spinach for kale occasionally) and this Pure Kitchen citrus green smoothie (below- I put 1 whole peeled grapefruit instead of the juice and leave out the cucumber, sometimes I add spinach or whole peeled orange and frozen mango too).  We also love a mango/orange juice/spinach/hemp seed/barley grass juice powder green smoothie.

citrus green smoothie winter immunity

tuesday:  porridge bowl

You guys already know we are obsessed with porridge, right?!  My kids eat it almost every day for breakfast with all kinds of variations depending what we have and what’s in season.  Here’s our recipe. I always make it with hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds and/or walnuts and pumpkin seeds for omega 3s, hefty doses of minerals and it keeps you full forever.  This one pictured is from spring with cherries and blue velvet apricots!  Fresh nut milk on top takes this to new levels.  This baked oatmeal is also BOMB and you can keep extras in the fridge to eat for the next few days too.

vegan porridge zero waste almond milk

wednesday:  coconut yogurt bowl

If you watch my IG stories, you’ll know I’ve been experimenting with 10,907 variations on homemade yogurt.  My favorite has been culturing coconut milk with blended cashews for thickness a la this recipe.  If you don’t like coconut, there’s so many other types of vegan yogurt: soy, almond and cashew to name just a few.  I love having it in the morning or afternoon with whatever fresh fruit is in season + hemp seeds, coco flakes, cacao nibs, pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Add whatever toppings/fruits you love, even go savory with sautéed kale or veggies, roasted squash or sweet potato or arugula/carrots + mix a crushed garlic clove and some lemon juice/zest into the yogurt, dollop on top and sprinkle a little toasted fennel, everything bagel seasoning, vegan parm cheese, toasted nuts or something like that on top.

vegan bowl breakfast coconut yogurt

thursday:  soup and greens

Call me crazy but a nice hot bowl of hearty soup and sautéed greens is just my thing some mornings, especially when it’s really cold out.  It’s super filling and sets you up with lots of greens and savory flavors to limit sweet cravings during the day.  Any soup will do, I like a good minestrone, curried lentil, lemony spinach red lentil, or celery/wild rice.  I sauté my greens until wilted, then stir in crushed garlic and tamari or aminos, and remove from heat.

soup kale avocado vegan

friday:  loni jane’s burcha

I am obsessed with Loni Janes burcha.  It’s SO filling, packed with nutrition and plant based minerals/omegas + healthy fats plus tastes like a treat.  I make a BIG mix like shown here and then either soak it as per her recipe overnight (a great grab and go breakfast) OR simply sprinkle some over almond milk and fruit in the am and let it sit for 10 minutes or so while I’m getting ready so the chia can gel (pictured).  It’s the best hiking snack/meal, too because it’s small but gives you so much energy.  Also it makes my digestion 10/10 and lives up to its “flat belly” name.

burcha vegan Loni jane breakfast

burcha bowl oranges blueberries omega 3 vegan

saturday:  sweet potato toasts

These guys are SO good, full of whole plant foods to make you feel amazing, and nutrients, too.  I saved this for Saturday because it took me a little longer to bake to get crisp, but this recipe says you can use a toaster to make them quicker.  I don’t have a toaster, so I just preheated by oven to 400, sliced my large sweet potato into about 1/4 inch thick slices, and baked for about 30 minutes- toasty, caramelly perfection.

If you’re not into the sweet potato idea, this gluten free nut seed and oat “bread” is super filling and tasty, or this GF millet buckwheat bread.

Obviously you can top them with whatever you love- PB&J, sautéed kale + hummus, cashew cheese, almond butter and banana, etc etc.  I did them 3 ways for variety for the photo’s sake, but IRL I’d probably just do 1 or 2 toppings (AND this large sweet potato yielded 5 large toasts and 2 small toasts, I only ate 3 and my husband ate the rest).  From top to bottom:

“italian” style with arugula, sliced avocado, everything bagel seasoning, toasted fennel seeds, chili flakes or harissa spice blend, and lemon.

sweet style with tahini, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, drizzle of maple or agave (optional) and sprinkle of maldon flaky sea salt.

“california” style:  I mashed the other avocado half with a squeeze of lime and a little garlic, then spread it on with cilantro, red onion, toasted pepitas and my fermented hot sauce.

sweet potato vegan toast avocado tahini

sunday:  tofu scramble with almond flour or corn tortillas 

Tofu scrambles are so easy to make and really high in protein.  We have super tasty local bulk tofu here so we’re spoiled and make quite a few tofu recipes.  Here I just sautéed red onion and thinly slice red and green bell pepper with some whole cumin seeds and coriander seeds (1 teaspoon each), then added in a block of crumbled tofu, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon harissa powder, black pepper, and some liquid aminos (or use tamari or just salt).  Minimalist Baker has a good recipe if you want more technical directions/measurements.

If you have/can find black salt, that works great- it’s high in sulfur so it gives an “eggy” taste if you’re into that.  I also added cilantro, green onion, lots of hot sauce and toasted pumpkin seeds.  Pickled onions would go SO good on top too, or verduras en escabeche.

Roasted or pan fried country potatoes would be a great sub for the tortillas.  Avocado on top is delicious too!

Tofu scramble vegan breakfast

warming january meal plan

tangerine juice

We are enjoying relatively warm temperatures here in California, and lots of sunny days which has been great for my mood (I get SAD pretty badly when its gloomy and cold).  I know much of the country is experiencing bitter cold, so I thought this would be a nice week to focus on warming dishes.

I’ve tried to add in lots of colors and spices to bring some light on a monochrome day.  Some of you mentioned to me that you don’t like to meal prep- you prefer to cook fresh each day, so this week I’m not having you prep anything on the weekend.

notes:  If you’ll be using dried chickpeas instead of canned, make sure you soak and cook them ahead of time for Tuesday’s dinner.  As always, I’m assuming you have basics: like tamari/soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, salt, pepper, chili flakes.  A lot of the spices you’ll probably already have on hand, but I’ve included them on the list just in case.

If you scroll all the way to the end, there’s a shopping list for your convenience.  For more meal plans, check out the “meal plan” tab in the menu.  Thanks so much for sending me your photos of food you’ve been making with my recipes!  I love seeing it.  So much fun to share food like this with you virtually.  Have a lovely week!  xx Amanda ❤

monday: roasted veg + marinated lentils

start the roasted veg first, then when you put them in the oven, start the lentils.  They take about the same time to cook and it’s mostly hands off.  Garnish bowls with avocado and extra chili flakes.

mixed roasted rainbow vegetables fennel chili flakes Meyer lemon

mixed roasted winter veg:  Preheat oven to 375.  Cut: 1 red onion, ends removed along with the tough outer peel, into 8 wedges.  1 large fennel bulb, tops and tough core removed, cut into 8 wedges.  1 bunch of carrots, tops removed and cut into 3 inch pieces- you may need to halve these if your carrots are thick, I used quite thin ones.  1 meyer lemon, ends removed and the rest sliced thinly, remove any seeds too.  1 bunch of radishes- french breakfast (pink with white tips if you can find them- if not, the red ones will work, slice in half or quarters if large), tops removed.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon Aleppo chili flakes.  Roast for 25-35 minutes until veg is soft and caramelized.

Bay leaf french lentil clove onion

marinated lentils:  this genius recipe by Patricia Wells is such a good one!  I do extra vinegar and toss in whole parsley leaves and a small minced shallot to serve. 

tuesday:  spicy bulgur + chickpea soup

recipe here.  OMG you guys, this one is so good.  Ottolenghi is my personal favorite chef and does amazing things with vegetables.  I have both his veggie cookbooks, Plenty and Plenty More and can highly recommend.  The flavors here are incredible, lots of warming spices.  I used 3 tablespoons of harissa spice (powder) instead of paste because thats what I had.  If you’re GF, just sub quinoa, brown rice, millet, or any other grain of choice for the bulgur.  I obviously omitted the creamed feta paste and just added in a splash of coco milk I had in the fridge, but honestly I don’t think it needed it.  I did, however, sub veggie stock for the water since I knew I wasn’t getting the savory boost from the feta as written.  You could sub a non dairy yogurt for the feta and make the paste with that.  I just added a ton of whole cilantro leaves on top and it was perfect.  This would be great with some spinach or chopped kale/chard mixed in in the last few minutes of cooking.  Whew, so many notes- sorry!

bulgur chickpea harissa soup spicy ottolenghi vegan

wednesday:  garlicky chard, lentil, quinoa bowls with tahini drizzle

Wash and remove stems from 1 large bunch or 2 small bunches of chard.  It will seem like a lot, but it cooks down a ton.  Trim any tough ends off the stems and thinly slice those guys.  Slice the leaves up separately.  Slice up a yellow onion.  Warm some olive oil in a large pan or pot.  Add in the sliced onion and the chard stems, salt, pepper, and chili flakes.  Saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned and soft, about 10 minutes.

While thats going, in a pot, add 1 cup quinoa and 1.5 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, reduce to low, and cover.  Cook for 12-15 minutes or until tender.

Back to the onion pan: add in your chard leaves, toss as well as you can, and cover to steam a bit, 2-3 minutes.  Remove lid, crush in 1 clove garlic, and toss to incorporate everything all the way.  Cook another few minutes until chard is wilted and tender, then add in 2 cups of the lentils.

Mix up your smoky tahini drizzle.  In a bowl, layer the quinoa first, then the chard/lentil mix, then drizzle the tahini over it.  Serve with chili flakes.

thursday: curried coconut red lentil soup

vegan curry Indian lentil split pea lime chili cilantro

recipe here.  Heidi Swanson cooks how I want to eat all the time: fresh, vibrant, pretty, healthy.  I make similar red lentil curried soups all the time, but this one is delicious with the juicy golden raisins.  While you’re waiting for it to cook, cook your rice: 2 cups rice to 3 cups water and a pinch of salt. (reserve half of cooked rice for tomorrow night).

friday:  celery, cashew, tofu, tamari stir fry

vegan cashew stir fry celery tofu garlic

slice up 1 onion, quarter 15 mushrooms, and slice the rest of your bunch of celery (i like to slice diagonally).  Cut the block of tofu into 1/2 inch cubes and cut 1 head broccoli up too.  Warm up some sesame oil in a saute pan.  Add in the onion and mushroom and saute about 10 minutes, or until onion is starting to brown.  Meanwhile, steam or saute broccoli separately.  Add in celery and 3/4 cup cashews.  Continue to saute until celery is crisp-tender, about 5 more minutes.  Add in the tofu, 3 tablespoons tamari, and 2 cloves garlic (minced/pressed) and cook, tossing frequently, until garlic is fragrant, about 2 more minutes.  Serve with leftover rice and generous chili flakes.

shopping list:

yellow onion x 4 large

red onion x 1 large

garlic x 1 head

ginger x 2 inch chunk

celery x 1 bunch

fennel bulb x 1

broccoli x 1 head

carrots x 2 bunches or about 8 carrots

cremini mushrooms x 15 small/medium

meyer lemon x 1

radishes x 1 bunch (preferably french breakfast but red will work too)

french lentils x 1 pound

chickpeas- either 2 1/2 cups cooked or 2 cans worth

yellow split peas x 1 cup dry

red lentils x 1 cup dry

bulgur wheat x 3/4 cup dry

basmati rice x 2 cups

quinoa x 1 cup dry

cashews x 3/4 cup

parsley x 1 bunch

cilantro x 1 bunch

green onions x 1 bunch

chard x 1 large bunch or 2 small bunches

shallot x 1 small

avocado x 1 large

lemon x 1 large

harissa- either paste (2T) or powder (3T) works

tahini x 1/2 cup

tofu x 1 block extra firm

golden raisins x 3 tablespoons

ground cumin

ground coriander

caraway seeds

smoked paprika

curry powder

tomato paste x 1/3 cup

coconut milk x 1 can

coconut oil

veggie stock x 1 liter or 4-5 cups