Vegan Gluten Free Beyond Beef Eggplant and Spinach Bake

I had eggplant hanging out in my fridge already so when I spotted vegan ricotta at Whole Foods, I thought I’d make lasagna magic happen.  However, no matter how much garlic and spices I added to that vegan ricotta, I could not make it edible.  It just had the taste and consistency of creamy plastic.  So, into the garbage disposal it went.  This recipe uses eggplant slices instead of noodles to cut down on the carbs and calories.  Eggplant has a tendency to become mush if overcooked so baking them first with breadcrumbs helps them maintain structure.  I’m a big fan of leaving the skin on vegetables with the exception of eggplant in a bake.  Eggplant skin can be tough to cut through with a fork so strip that veg before slicing.


If you can’t find a good vegan mozzarella, I think this would taste good even without it.


Vegan Gluten Free Beyond Beef Eggplant and Spinach Bake

1 large eggplant
1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
cooking spray
11 oz. bag Beyond Beef Beefy Crumble
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. anise seeds
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 jar marinara sauce
2 cups cut baby spinach leaves
1 10 oz. package vegan mozzarella shredded
vegan parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice eggplant lengthwise. Place breadcrumbs on a plate. Spray both sides of each eggplant slice and then dip each side into breadcrumbs and place onto a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the eggplant is baking, place the Beefy Crumble in a frying pan over medium heat. As the crumbles defrost, stir in the garlic, fennel, anise and red pepper. Cook for 3-5 additional minutes, stirring often and remove from heat.

Place 2 cups of marinara in the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. Place a single layer of eggplant followed by beef, spinach, half the mozzarella. Top with a second layer of eggplant slices, the remaining marinara sauce, the remaining mozzarella and a sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and remove from oven. Let sit for 15-20 minutes and serve.


Sweet Chili Shredded Tofu Tacos

Twice last week, I had the opportunity to try variations on Korean spiced tofu.  As per usual, I had to make my own variation this weekend.  Also as per usual, I chose to simplify the recipe with ingredients available at most grocery stores.  Sweet chili sauce is typically associated with Thai food and hoisin sauce is Chinese so I’ll just describe this sweet and slightly spicy tofu taco filling as Asian fusion and leave it at that.  You can also use the filling in lettuce cups or on tortilla chips.  It’s pretty easy to throw together.  Bake the tofu to remove the moisture, whisk the sauce together and combine.  Easy as yī, èr, sān…


Squeeze the tofu between towels or let it drain overnight in the fridge to remove as must moisture as possible.  Baking the tofu gives it those brown bits and texture closer to meat rather than tofu mush. You can shred the tofu cutlets using two forks on a cutting board or pop them in a food processor.  When shopping for ingredients, watch labels closely.  Wheat based soy and/or fish sauce are popular ingredients to watch out for if you want to avoid gluten/animal products.  I found vegan, gluten free sweet chili and hoisin sauces at my local Whole Foods market. The spice is mild in my opinion but if you want to kick it up, try topping each taco with a little sriracha sauce.

Vegan Gluten Free Sweet Chili Shredded Tofu Tacos

14 oz. block extra firm tofu
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1 tsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
 1/2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
taco shells
sliced green onions

Drain tofu and slightly press between paper towels to remove excess moisture. Slice the block into 8 even cutlets.  Line a cookie sheet with non-stick foil or coat with cooking spray and place the cutlets on the sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Flip the cutlets and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

While the cutlets are baking, whisk together the sweet chili sauce, hoisin sauce, coconut sugar and black sesame seeds and set aside.  Remove the cutlets from the oven and shred on a cutting board using two forks and add to a mixing bowl.  Stir the sauce into the shredded tofu and serve immediately in taco shells, topped with shredded green onion.

Vegan Gluten Free Beyond Chicken Pesto Panini

After my celiac diagnosis, I avoided bread for years.  Regular, gluten-free, it didn’t matter.  The regular stuff could kill me and the gluten-free stuff could break my jaw as well as add 10 lbs.  So I sat for years, breadless.  Like vegan food, gluten-free options have come a long way, baby.  Today’s gluten-free baked goods don’t necessarily double for a doorstop anymore.  I was at Whole Foods this weekend when I spotted O’Doughs sandwich thins in the freezer.  Made with chia seeds instead of eggs, the sandwich thins are a rare vegan/gluten-free combo.  The square-ish shape reminded me of ciabatta bread which reminded me of paninis which reminded me of pesto and the Beyond Chicken strips in my fridge. You see where this is going.


Pesto sauce is typically made with basil and pine nuts.  My local grocery store was out of pine nuts today but I had raw almonds at home.  Pine nuts are delicious but they are expensive and I think this almond version is an excellent substitute.  Most of the pesto recipes I saw called for high amounts of olive oil.  I kept the oil to just a tablespoon for this recipe, substituting vegetable broth and lemon juice.  If your pesto is too thick to spread, add a little extra vegetable broth until it does.  Buon appetito.
Vegan Gluten Free Beyond Chicken Pesto Panini

pesto sauce
1/4 cup raw almonds
20-25 fresh basil leaves
2 tsp. vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. vegetable broth
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste

Beyond Chicken grilled strips (5 strips per sandwich)
vegan gluten free sandwich thins
fresh basil leaves (3-4 per sandwich)
vegan reduced fat mayonnaise
vegan provolone or mozzarella cheese slices (2 slices per sandwich)
basil leaves
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Toast almonds for approximately 10 minutes. Watch closely, removing the almonds before they burn. Combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor and combine until smooth. Add additional vegetable broth if required until pesto sauce is spreadable.

Coat a frying pan with cooking spray and add the grilled strips and 1 Tbsp. of the pesto sauce. Heat the strips over medium low heat until coated in pesto and heated through. Remove from heat.

Spread reduced fat vegan mayonnaise followed by a thin layer of pesto on the inside of the top and bottom sandwich thin. On a griddle pan or large frying pan, coat with cooking spray and place the bottom sandwich thin.  Layer the first piece of provolone followed by tomato, basil leaves, grilled strips, the second piece of provolone and finally the top piece of the sandwich thin.  Use another pan to press the sandwich into a panini, continuing to cook until the cheese has softened.  Serve immediately.

Vegan Gluten Free Polenta “Sausage” Stuffed Peppers

I was picking up groceries at Sprouts Farmers Market this week when I spotted new red and yellow striped peppers.  I did a little research and discovered the colorful “stripy peppers” were developed as a way to get kids to eat more veggies.  They combine the sweet flavors of red and yellow peppers while allegedly providing more vitamin c than an orange.  I wasn’t planning on making stuffed peppers this week but these stripy peppers inspired me to try something new.


Polenta is a type of cornmeal popular in Italian cooking and can be purchsed in different forms.  The only way it’s available locally is in the refrigerated section of my grocery store, packed in a large tube similar to breakfast sausage.  That form is too dense for the peppers so in this recipe, you reconstitute the polenta by heating it in warm coconut milk.  If you don’t have or don’t care for coconut milk, try vegetable broth. Whatever form of polenta you find, just prepare it per the package instructions. Stripy peppers are new to me so if they haven’t made it to your neighborhood try yellow or red peppers.  Green peppers will work just fine but the red and yellow peppers are sweeter and compliment the spicy meet better in my opinion.

I again rely on my favorite soy-free, vegan, gluten free beef replacement, Beyond Beef Beefy Crumble. If Beyond Meat products aren’t available in your area, use whatever vegan, gluten free beef replacement crumbles are available in your area. I was able to stuff four small-medium sized peppers with this recipe. You may yield more or less depending on the size of the pepper.

Vegan Gluten Free Polenta “Sausage” Stuffed Peppers

5 red or yellow striped peppers
16 oz. tube cooked polenta
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 11 oz. package Beyond Beef Beefy Crumble
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. fennel
1 tsp. anise seed
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. garlic
14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
15 oz. can tomato sauce
sea salt
black pepper
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the tops off of 4 of the peppers.  Reserve tops and set aside.  Remove ribs and seeds from inside the peppers.  Remove the seeds and ribs from the fifth pepper and dice.

Chop up the tube of cooked polenta and add to a sauce pan along with the coconut milk.  Stir over medium heat often, breaking up the chunks of polenta until the polenta breaks down and has absorbed the coconut milk resulting in a porridge consistency.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Add the Beyond Beef Beefy Crumble, onion, chopped fifth pepper, fennel, anise seed and garlic to a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Sauté until beef is thawed and the peppers and onions are tender. Stir in the polenta and diced tomatoes and add salt and pepper to taste.  Let cook for 2-3 additional minutes.

Coat the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish with tomato sauce. Stuff each pepper with the polenta and sausage mixture and place standing up in the dish. Pour tomato sauce over each pepper. Place the pepper tops on a foil lined baking sheet and lighty coat with cooking spray.

Place the pepper tops and stuffed peppers into a 350 degree oven. Remove the pepper tops after 30 minutes. Leave the stuffed peppers to cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until peppers are tender (look for wrinkles in the pepper skin). Remove from the oven and serve peppers over additional tomato sauce, crown each with their original baked top.



Vegan Gluten Free Mexican Tofu Sliders with Spicy Mayo

I made the mistake of watching the movie ‘Burnt’ on a recent flight.  Bradley Cooper stars as a chef attempting to redeem himself after burning out and alienating everyone he cared about.  The movie was “m’eh” but you can’t watch a culinary movie without getting hungry.  So, when I came home starving and found a block of tofu I had to use up, I created these Mexican spiced tofu burgers.  Sure, you can buy a box of commercially prepared plant burgers at your local grocery store.  When you make them yourself however, you eliminate the need for preservatives and can tone the spice up or down to your preference. I’m not a fan of lighting my mouth on fire, but if you like to kick it up a notch, add a little cayenne pepper.


Yellow corn flour acts as a binder in this recipe.  Not cornmeal.  Not corn starch.  Corn flour.  I found a bag at my local Whole Foods.  It may seem as if I use a lot of chili powder but I found the spices mellowed as the patties cooked.  The moisture content of tofu varies so if your mixture doesn’t form patties, add corn flour incrementally until you can form one. I grilled my burgers but if you don’t have a grill available, use a frying pan over medium heat on the stove top. Olé.

Vegan Gluten Free Mexican Tofu Sliders with Spicy Mayo

1 16 oz. block extra firm tofu
1/2 cup yellow corn flour
3 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. dehydrated onion pieces
3 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
sea salt (to taste)

spicy mayo
1/4 cup reduced fat vegan mayo
2 Tbsp. chili powder

yellow onion
chopped cilantro
cooking spray

Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Drain the tofu block and remove as much moisture as possible using paper towels.  Add all burger ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.  The consistency should be similar to meatloaf.  If not, add small amounts of additional corn flour.  Use hands to form patties and place on non-stick foil or regular foil lightly coated with cooking spray.  Place the foil and burgers on the grill.  Flip after four minutes and cook an additional four minutes or until cooked through.  Remove from the grill.

Mix the mayo and chili powder to create the spicy mayo.  Top each slider with a slice of tomato, onion, a dollop of spicy mayo and chopped cilantro and serve.

Marinated Grilled Eggplant Steaks

Like so many Americans, I grew up in a “steak and potatoes” home.  I don’t miss grilled chunks of cow anymore but occasionally, I do want a little something more to go along with my baked potato and green beans. These veggie steaks don’t have the texture or flavor of beef but the aminos and spices lend a salty umami flavor profile to the Barney-colored bulbous veg.  This is my first experience trying Bragg Liquid Aminos. From what I gather, it’s a gluten free soy sauce alternative.  I found it at my local grocery store but if you can’t find Bragg’s, try gluten free tamari instead.


Cut the ends and rounded sides off before slicing the purple veggie into steaks.  My small-ish eggplant yielded four.  I chopped up the leftover ends and rounded bits and later added them to a spaghetti sauce so nothing went to waste.  Just score the tops of each steaks diagonally to about half the depth of the steak.  If you cut too deep, the steaks will fall apart on the grill.

Marinated Grilled Eggplant Steaks

1/4 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos or gluten free soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. dehydrated onion pieces

1 eggplant
cooking spray

Cut off the ends and slice each eggplant lengthwise into 1/2 inch steaks. Score one side of each steak diagonally.  Combine all marinade ingredients and pour over the eggplant steaks in a shallow dish. Turn steaks until all are coated evenly. Refrigerate for at least an hour, flipping the steaks in the marinade after 30 minutes. Preheat grill to medium heat. Place each steak on aluminum foil, lightly coat with cooking spray and place on the grill. Turn the steaks after five minutes. Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes or until steaks are cooked through and serve immediately.


Vegan Gluten Free “Chicken” Alfredo Lasagna Rolls

I’m not gonna lie. Even using jar marinara, you’re going to spend quality time in the kitchen making these delicious rolls of faux chicken heaven.  My niece, Alison loves to cook like her auntie and when I looked at her facebook page last night, I saw an old post featuring her chicken alfredo lasagna rolls.  Insert emoticon with hearts for eyes.  I had found my next vegan, gluten free recipe makeover challenge.  Never a fan of traditional alfredo, I avoided the sauce full of cream, butter and cheese.  It was like drinking butter.  This version has just a fraction of the traditional sauce fat.  Give it a whirl in a food processor or blender after cooking to make it perfectly smooth. You won’t believe how good it is even without dairy.



I found Tinkyada gluten free lasagna rolls at my local grocery store.  The only two ingredients are brown rice flour and water so they checked both the vegan and gluten free boxes.  Beyond Meat’s Beyond Chicken Lightly Seasoned Strips make the perfect protein packed chicken substitute. Your count may vary depending on which brand you use but between the marinara, Beyond Chicken strips, tofu and pasta, each roll provided over 30 grams of protein.  This recipe will yield 4-5 rolls depending upon how much you fill them.  I recommend boiling 5-6 noodles just in case a noodle should fall apart or stick to the pan during the boil and rinse process (learn from my mistakes).  They will fit into an 8×8 baking dish but I recommend a 9×13 so you can easily lift the rolls out of the pan without turning your pasta masterpiece into a beautiful disaster.

Vegan Gluten Free “Chicken” Alfredo Lasagna Rolls

Alfredo Sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp. light vegan butter
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

Meat Filling

2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. light vegan butter
9 oz. pkg. chicken substitute strips, thawed
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cups chopped broccoli florets

Tofu Ricotta

1 14 oz. block of extra firm tofu
1 t minced garlic
1 t onion powder
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t garlic salt
1/2 t sugar
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 T lemon juice
2 T nutritional yeast
black pepper to taste

1 package gluten free lasagna noodles
3 cups marinara sauce

Boil 5-6 lasagna noodles according to package directions. Rinse in cold water and drain, laying each out flat so that the noodles don’t touch one another.

Alfredo Sauce: Pour 1/2 cup of the coconut milk into a measuring cup and whisk the corn starch into the milk until no lumps remain. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add garlic, sautéing for one to two minutes. Add the coconut milk/corn starch slurry along with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk to the sauce pan. Let simmer, stirring often until sauce thickens, 5-10 minutes and remove from heat. Once cooled, process sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Meat Filling: Melt butter in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and sauté for two minutes. Cut each “chicken” strip into fourths and add to the pan along with the broccoli florets. Sauté until onions and broccoli are tender. Add 1/2 cup of alfredo sauce and stir until just combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

Tofu Ricotta: Drain the tofu and remove as much moisture as possible using paper towels.  Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with marinara sauce. Lay each lasagna noodle out flat on a work space and dry each side with a paper towel (makes assembly easier). Use a spatula to spread an even layer of tofu ricotta on top of each noodle followed by a single layer of the meat filling. Starting at one end, roll each noodle up and then place seam side down in the baking dish. Top each roll with alfredo sauce, reserving the remaining sauce. Cook the rolls for 40 minutes or just as rolls begin to have golden edges. Remove from heat. Serve atop additional heated marinara and top with additional alfredo sauce.

Vegan Gluten Free French Toast

Is there anything better than french toast on a Sunday morning?  I haven’t had french toast in years and thought I’d give aquafaba (the liquid from a can of garbanzo beans) a try as the egg replacer in my old recipe.  It turned out fantastic.  I used tapioca loaf but you can use any favorite vegan, gluten free bread.


Let’s be honest.  French toast is really a dessert topping delivery service.  Top with vegan butter, powdered sugar, syrup or fruit. I microwaved a few frozen strawberries and stirred in a little sugar to make my fruit topping.

Vegan Gluten Free French Toast

liquid from one can of garbanzo beans
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. unsweetened coconut milk
vegan gluten free bread
cooking spray
optional toppings: powdered sugar maple syrup, fruit, vegan butter

In a shallow dish, whisk together the garbanzo bean liquid, cinnamon, vanilla and coconut milk. Preheat a skillet or griddle pan over medium high heat. Dip each slice of bread into the liquid one at a time until coated on both sides. Lightly coat the pan with cooking spray and add the dipped slices. Cook each slice, flipping occasionally until both sides are browned and cooked through. Serve with your choice of toppings.

Vegan Skinny “Bacon” Fried Rice

After frying up bacon on Sunday morning, my mom would reserve the bacon fat from the pan for future use.  One of those future uses was utilizing bacon fat to add smoky flavor to fried rice.  It also added a truckload of fat and cholesterol.  I recently discovered Lightlife’s organic Fakin’ Bacon strips made from tempeh.  Lightlife’s version of mock bacon isn’t crispy and greasy like real bacon but it probably won’t contribute to a later visit to the cardiologist, either.


The texture of the mock bacon version lends well to this fried rice because the chewy chunks remind me of bits of pork I would sometimes find in traditional fried rice.  Like several of my recipes, this is pretty easy to make.  Between the vegetables, protein and fiber from the brown rice and tempeh, what was once a fattening adventure can now be a fairly healthy side dish.  I was pretty happy to discover I could make my own meatless version of mom’s fried rice that came pretty close to the real deal but didn’t result in an extra trip to the gym.


Vegan Skinny “Bacon” Fried Rice

1 pkg. 10 minute boil-in-bag brown rice (about 2 cups cooked)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup mixed vegetable blend, thawed (peas, carrots, corn, etc.)
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari (gluten free)
4 strips mock bacon, chopped
cooking spray

Prepare brown rice as per package directions and set aside. Lightly coat a medium frying pan with cooking spray and saute onions, garlic and bacon together. Once onions start to become translucent, stir in the thawed mixed vegetable blend and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until heated. Add the rice and soy sauce to the pan and stir until well combined.  Heat for an additional 2-3 minutes and serve.


Vegan Skinny Mexican Street Corn (elotes)

Mayonnaise and corn? Sounds gross, doesn’t it? At least it did to this gringa the first time I saw elotes on the menu at a local Mexican restaurant. My friend swore it was one of the best dishes offered so I tried it and fell in love. Aside from being high in fat, mayo is made from eggs which made it forbidden once I started eating vegan. There are several egg-free versions of mayonnaise on the market now so I decided to give making elote at home a shot. For this recipe, I chose to use Follow Your Heart’s Reduced Fat Vegenaise. Not only is it egg free but this version has half the fat of the full fat mayonnaise I used to buy. I understand crumbled cojita cheese is also a staple of traditional elote. I didn’t bother with trying to find a vegan version of cojita for this recipe. Between the chili powders and rich mayo, I didn’t miss cheese or the extra fat.  This is so easy to make and the taste is rich and spicy. You would never guess it is lower in fat.


Sprinkle fresh cilantro on top if you want an extra kick of flavor. I felt cilantro overpowered the chili flavors so I opted to leave it out of my version. It took about 10 minutes for the corn to cook on my grill but it may take more or less depending on your grill. You can also make this indoors on the stove with the help of a grill pan.


Vegan Skinny Mexican Street Corn (elotes)

2 ears of corn
2 Tbsp. reduced fat vegan mayo
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder
lime wedges

Grill corn over medium high heat, rotating often for 10-15 minutes or until cooked. Mix the mayo, cayenne pepper, garlic salt and chili powder in a small bowl. Remove corn from grill. While holding corn with tongs, spread mayo mixture onto each ear of corn using a spatula. Serve immediately with lime wedges.