Three miniature vegan sweet potato she

Miniature Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pies

These sweet potato shepherd’s pie recipe may be small, but boy are these packed with comfort and delicious flavor!

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I love comfort food. There’s nothing more satisfying than for me to dig into a spoonful of buttery potatoes. But more than that, I have a bit of a weak-spot for any comfort meal that incorporates sweet potatoes. Maybe it’s the creaminess or sweetness of these tubers…maybe it’s just…magic!

Quarantine Cravings?

Am I the only one that seems to be a little extra hungry during these crazy times? I hope not! The Covid-19 pandemic has especially amped up my cravings for comfort food filled with wholesome carb-laden goodness. One dish that has always had a special place in my heart has been Shepherd’s pie. I remember my mother preparing shepherds pies for us growing up, and I always found them to be so delicious! I wanted to take advantage of two things: The existing ingredients in my pantry and fridge, and the local seasonal varieties of produce that came from the CSA that I am a part of.

An image of three of the Miniature Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pies on a plate.
Delicious Miniature Vegan Sweet Potato Sheperd’s Pies

Miniature Savory Pie Goodness

As I mentioned before, I had been trying to figure out a creative, yet familiar recipe which incorporated the items I readily had at home, while honoring my values of incorporating locally-sourced ingredients. Since Steed Farm, the CSA that I am a part of had an abundance of sweet potatoes to offer us, I knew what I was going to prepare. And out of all of that came this recipe!

I really think that you and your family will enjoy preparing and eating these miniature vegan sweet potato Shepherd’s pies. This is even a dish that your kids can help out with! Maybe they can assist by mashing the tater or layering each miniature pie. Oh, the possibilities!

A close-up of the texture of the lentils in the Miniature Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
Miniature Vegan Sweet Potato Sheperd’s Pie Close-up

Alrighty folks, let’s move onto the sweet potato shepherd’s pie recipe now, shall we?!?!?!

Miniature Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pies

These sweet potato shepherd's pie recipe may be small, but boy are these packed with comfort and delicious flavor!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy shepherds pie, how to make homemade Shepherd’s pie, mini shepherds pie, Miniature Vegan Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, Miniature Vegan Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pies, shepherds pie, shepherds pie recipes, Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pies, vegan shepherd’s pie, vegan shepherd’s pie sweet potato
Servings: 4 People
Calories: 241kcal

Equipment

  • Two medium saucepans
  • One masher or a fork
  • A cupcake/ muffin pan

Ingredients

  • 4 Sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely dices
  • 3 carrots
  • ¾ cup carrot greens (optional)
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 cup lentils
  • cups water
  • ½ tsp. salt

Spices

  • 1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. crushed black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven is pre-heating, dice onions and tomatoes into ½” sized pieces. Set those veggies aside.
  • Preparing the sweet potatoes: Fill up a medium pot of water and water and heat to medium high and allow the water to come to a rolling boil. Next, while you are waiting for the water to boil, coarsely dice your sweet potatoes and carrots into large chunks. Next, add potatoes and carrots into boiling water and cook for 25-20 minutes covered, or until they are fork tender, drain and rinse with cold water so that you can easily unpeel the skin off. Afterwards, mash them until they have the consistency of a mashed potato puree with ½ tsp. salt. Later on, set aside.
  • Cooking the lentils: While your potatoes are cooking, in another saucepan, add the three cups of water and set the temperature to medium-high. Then, add in the tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrot greens, tomato sauce and spices, and allow all of that to heat to a  rolling boil. Next, add in the lentils, and then cover and reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the lentil mixture has absorbed all of the water. Next, during the last 5 minutes, add in the spinach (which will wilt while the lentils are cooking).
  • Assembling the Shepherd’s pies: take a muffin pan (preferably a 12 muffin one) and lightly grease it. Divide the lentil mixture among each of the muffin cups. You will also take the mashed potato puree and divide the mixture equally among all of the muffin cups and gently spoon the mixture over each of the muffin cups filled with the lentils. I’d recommend that you spoon each cup so that the tops of the sweet potatoes resemble muffin tops. Feel free to gently run a fork along each ‘muffin top’ for some texture! Finally, you will place the miniature Shepherd’s pies into the oven and bake them for 35-40 minutes, or until the ‘muffin tops’ have lightly browned.
  • Enjoy the heck out of these mini pies!

Makes 12 miniature sweet potato Shepherd’s pies (6 servings)

Nutrition Information per serving

241 calories/ 12 grams protein/ 1.3 grams fat/ 47.5 grams carbohydrates/ 8.6 grams of fiber

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A photo of a creamy black bean and pasta skillet dish, served inside of a medium-sized bowl. The dish is topped with three slices of avocado.

Creamy Black Bean & Pasta Skillet

This creamy black bean & pasta skillet is the perfect dish you are looking to make whenever you are feeling too lazy to cook!

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Lazy Days

Folks, maybe it’s because I have been staying indoors so often, but I have something to tell you: I have been feeling incredibly lazy. Honestly? As much as I love cooking, I have not had much creative energy to barnstorm new meal ideas. Am I the only one who goes through this struggle?? I can’t be.

But alas, I had to come up with some meals to cook this weekend. Surely my husband could cook. But most of the time, due to our different work schedules, I take on this task. Either way, if no one cooks, no one eats. And we can’t have that.

Hmmm…

The other day, as I was looking through my pantry and fridge, weighing the limited variety of shelf-stable products and decaying produce, some pasta, back beans, and my wok, an idea come to me: Why not do a one-pot meal? So I figured, why not?

Carby goodness!

I pulled out my rotini pasta, black beans, tomatoes, and onions, and immediately began dicing my tomatoes, onions, and kale. Before I knew it, I whipped out my store-bought taco seasoning, and added it to the mix, along with the pasta and back beans, and voila! And you know what? This creamy improvisational black bean pasta skillet has been one of the most delicious meals that I have cooked in a while. Not only do the black beans give a level of richness and plant-based protein to this dish, but my impulsive decision to incorporate some coconut milk into this dish really brought this meal to a decadent creamy level. All of the ingredients and spices and flavors married beautifully. Moreover, even my very picky husband was a fan of this dish!

Did I mention that this dish is also vegan? If I haven’t, now you know!

And folks, this pasta skillet dish is not only delicious, but is super simple, contains basic pantry items, and can be ready in less than 20 minutes!

(Also, feel free to substitute the veggies in this dish for whatever else you may have!)

Now…let’s move onto the recipe!

Creamy black bean & pasta skillet: A medium bowl filled with rotini pasta, black beans, spinach, tomato sauce and coconut milk.

Creamy Black Bean & Pasta Skillet

This creamy black bean & pasta skillet is the perfect dish you are looking to make whenever you are feeling too lazy to cook!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pasta, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 671kcal

Equipment

  • Large skillet or Wok

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. Rotini pasta
  • 15.5 oz. Black beans
  • 4 oz. Full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 Cup Fresh Kale or spinach
  • 1 Medium Tomato
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 6 oz. Low-sodium tomato paste
  • 4 Garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Cups Water
  • 2 Tbsp. Cooking oil

(2 tbsp.) Taco seasoning made with:

  • ½ tsp. Red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Smoked paprika
  • ¾ tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Allspice

Instructions

  • Finely dice all of the veggies (tomato, kale, pepper &onion) until they are about 1 inch cubes. Set aside.
  • Heat up a wok or large skillet/ pot with cooking oil and heat tomedium-high. Gradually add in the veggies & garlic, and sauté for about 6-7minutes or until the onions and tomatoes have begun to sweat. Make sure tocover for the first three minutes.
  •  Once veggies are sweating, add the taco seasoning, water, tomatopaste, into the existing pot with the veggies. Then, increase the heat to highand allow to heat until the water mixture begins to rapidly boil.
  • Once the water begins boiling, reduced the heat back tomedium-high and add the pasta and boil for 10 min or until the water hasevaporated and created a thick sauce.
  • Add drained black beans and coconut milk and stir until mixturethickens and is creamy.
  • Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition Information per serving:

671 calories/ 17.6 grams protein/ 16.7 grams fat/ 118.4 grams carbohydrates/ 22.9 grams of fiber

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An image of an open-faced chipotle-lentil burger patty, topped with avocado and tomato slices

Chipotle Lentil Burgers

This Chipotle Lentil burgers recipe will be a smash hit during your next barbecue or game night!

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Happy April, everyone! From the bottom of my heart, I hope you and your families are doing well in this time. Staying hunkered down inside due to Covid-19 has made quite a few people feel stir-crazy, including me. Because of this many of us are trying to find ways to entertain ourselves, and our sanity.

Thank you!

Now, before I talk about today’s featured recipe, I want to take this moment to thank so many people, amidst the Coronavirus global pandemic. I would first like to thank all of the doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers risking their lives to keep us safe. I want to also thank grocery clerks and all of the essential workers working tirelessly to make sure that business continues to stay afloat. Finally, I would like to thank all of the factory workers who are either producing our food, or other essential supplies that our planet’s population is in desperate need of. With this being said, I would like to thank all of the farmers and farmworkers who continue to work day in and day out, in order to make sure that we still continue to have food on our plates. I cannot be more grateful for everything you all are doing.

The Burger!

Now, while many people are trying to figure out how to make the most of dwindling pantry supplies, I may have the perfect meal for you. I present you with my chipotle lentil burger recipe! These burgers are savory, delicious, and are jam-packed with flavor. Aside from the ease of this recipe, one of my favorite aspects about this meal is that the bulk of the ingredients may already be in your pantry. So there is no need to purchase any fancy ingredients.

An image of an open-faced chipotle-lentil burger patty, topped with avocado and tomato slices
An image of an open-faced chipotle-lentil burger patty, topped with avocado and tomato slices

Did I mention that this recipe is vegan? Well, it is!

Are your mouths watering? I sure hope so! Let’s move onto the recipe, shall we??

Chipotle Lentil Burgers

These Chipotle Lentil burgers will be a smash hit duringyour next barbecue or game night!
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Burger, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 6 Patties
Calories: 201kcal

Ingredients

  • cup dry lentils
  • 1 ⅓ cups water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. canned chipotle peppers
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup chickpea liquid (aquafaba)
  • ¼ cup tahini

Instructions

  • After rinsing the dry lentils and removing anysmall stone or sediment material, place them in a small saucepan with thewater, heated to medium-high. Gradually add in the salt, pepper, paprika,cumin, and garlic powder. Allow the water to heat until it begins boiling. Atthat point, cover, and lower heat to low, and allow to cook for 25-30 minutes,or until all of the lentils have absorbed the water. Once finished cooking, setaside.
  • Once the lentils have cooled for at least 5minutes, transfer the mixture to a medium sized bowl. Smash lentils untilsemi-chunky, and then gradually add in the aquafaba and the oatmeal. Mix allingredients until everything is well-combined. Then cover, and place in arefrigerator for at least an hour-overnight, or place in your freezer for 30-45 minutes.
  • Preparing the Chipotle sauce: Place the cannedchipotle in a blender or small food processor, until all of the pepper hasbecome liquefied. Take the blended chipotles out of the blender, and place intoa bowl. Gradually add in tahini & mix until everything is well-blended. Ifyou do not have access to tahini, then sub tahini for mayonnaise. It will bejust as tasty!
  • Topeach patty with the chipotle-tahini sauce (or mayo), and assemble with all ofyour favorite fixins, and enjoy!

Video

Makes 6 patties

201 Calories/ 7.7 grams of protein/ 12 grams of fat/ 18.4 grams of carbohydrates/ 4.2 grams of fiber

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Butternut squash tacos recipe: A picture of two butternut squash tacos served with corn tortillas

Butternut Squash Tacos

This butternut squash taco recipe is a deliciously decadent meal to enjoy during your next #TacoTuesday!

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I am a huge fan of Taco Tuesdays. No joke! I try my best to make sure that I have a yummy and unique recipe to concoct each week, during our taco Tuesdays. Sometimes, I have cravings for the classics, such as tacos with carnitas, chicken, or fish. Other times, I want something a little different inside of my corn tortilla. Guess what? If you don’t know me by now, you should know that I am definitely a fan of unique delicacies.

You Butternut Doubt It!

This particular recipe contains an ingredient many of you already admire: Butternut squash. But wait! Before you begin to twitch your eyes and smirk with disgust, please stick with me! Butternut squash makes a really delicious filling. In addition, this yummy gourd is a power house in nutrients. One serving of butternut squash contains over 100 percent of your daily value in vitamin A, approximately 40 percent of your daily Vitamin C requirement, approximately 18 percent of your daily potassium requirement, and around 15 percent of daily requirement of Magnesium ¹.  

Delicious chunks of diced butternut squash ready for roastin’!

The Verdict?

I’ll admit that I’m not the first, nor the last person on this planet to come up with a butternut squash taco recipe. However, I am proud of my version. For this recipe, I coat my squash with a tasty, aromatic seasoning, and then roast the squash, along with a clove of garlic. The roasted garlic really enhances and compliments the sweet and nuttiness of the squash, and cumin-the recipe’s main seasoning. Afterwards, I top this with some deliciously cool avocado. One of the best parts about this dish is that all of the ingredients can be roasted in one pan. Hello, convenience!

Butternut squash tacos recipe: A close-up of the filling in the butternut squash tacos, such as sauteed onions, avocados and roasted butternut squash chunks.
Butternut squash taco filling

For those of you scratching your heads, yes! This butternut squash taco recipe is also vegan, and contained squash locally sourced from my friends over at Steed Farm.

Alright, I’ve spent enough time rambling about this yummy dish. Let’s move onto the recipe now, shall we??

Butternut squash tacos recipe: A picture of two butternut squash tacos served with corn tortillas
A picture of two butternut squash tacos served with corn tortillas

Butternut Squash Tacos

These butternut squash tacos are a deliciously decadent way toenjoy during your next #TacoTuesday!
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Tex-mex
Keyword: vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 133kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 bulb fresh garlic
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • sriracha (optional)

Spices

  • ½ tsp. red chili powder (to your heat preference)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. allspice

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Carefully cut squash into 4-5 large sections,and de-seed. Then with a paring knife, gently cut away outer skin layer. Afterwards,dice each chunk into 1” pieces. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine all of the seasoningsuntil well mixed. Afterwards add squash and gently incorporate the cooking oil.Gently stir everything until each squash cube is well coated. Place in largecookie sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, and flip halfway. Make sure toreserve at least 1/3 of the space in the pan.
  • While the squash is roasting, slice the onionand bell pepper into ¼” slices, add to the same sheet the squash and garlic areroasting in, and place in the oven to roast for the last 25 minutes of thesquash roasting time.
  • Take everything out, and gently cut and mixthe smashed roasted garlic puree into the squash chunks.
  • (Optional) Add to your tortilla of choice andserve with avocado .
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition Information per serving (without tortillas or avocado)

133 calories/ 3 grams protein/ 2.8 grams fat/ 28 grams carbohydrates/ 5 grams of fiber

References:

¹ https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/butternut-squash-health-benefits#1

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A closeup of creamy butternut squash rotini served in a bowl

Creamy Butternut Squash Rotini

This roasted butternut squash rotini pasta dish is warm, creamy, delicious, and oh-so-nice! If you’re looking for a yummy vegan pasta dish, here ya go! 🙂

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In case any of you weren’t aware…I love food. All types! But I’ve got to admit, nothing makes me happier than a warm serving of comfort food.

Here in Central Florida, we have been experiencing a “Winter” all weekend, with temperatures dipping down to the ‘40s (Fahrenheit)! Yes northerners, laugh all you want. But don’t come complaining to me, once you decide to move down here, and then eventually complain about our frigid 40 degree weather!!!

As many of you know, my husband and I try to eat as locally and seasonally as we can. Luckily, we have had some great produce shares from Steed Farm, our local Community-Supported Agricultural system (also known as CSAs). Among this week’s most recent share of seasonal goodies, we received a very large, 5 pound choctaw squash. Now-I know what you’re thinking. The recipe that I’m about to provide is for butternut squash, yet I used a different variety. Choctaws taste almost exactly like butternut squashes, and are very close cousins. If you do not have access to butternut squash in your area, please feel free to opt for choctaw-vice/versa. Trust me when I say that once I saw that beautiful squash, my taste buds became very happy.

Pieces of chopped butternut squash

After trying to figure out how I was going to prepare this lovely fruit, an ‘A-ha!’ moment came: Why not transform this into a delicious comfort pasta dish? And so I did.

Folks, I would like to present you with this creamy butternut squash rotini recipe. This dish specifically calls for rotini pasta, as it holds its shape and does nicely with absorbing the creamy butternut puree.  While you can technically opt for whatever type of pasta you’d like, I went for pasta enriched with protein. Because the squash (and garlic!) are roasted, this recipe takes slightly over an hour to prepare. But please trust me, it’s well worth your time. While the squash and garlic are roasting, you can even do other things, such as yoga, walking, reading, or catching up on Netflix 😉 -You do you! The moment your fork digs into the rotini which later lands onto the tip of your tongue, your taste buds will feel like you gave them one of the creamiest and most delicious bites of comfort food heaven, ever.

Chunks of roasted butternut squash with the skin

Did I also mention that this specific recipe is vegan and dairy-free? Well, in case I haven’t, now you know!

I can practically hear your stomach grumbling form here…so let’s move onto the recipe, shall we??

Creamy Butternut Squash Rotini

This roasted creamy butternut squash rotini pasta dish is warm, creamy, garlicky, delicious, and oh-so-nice! 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: pasta, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 5 Servings
Calories: 416kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 14 oz. rotini pasta

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whileoven is preheating, carefully cut the squash in half, remove the seeded coreand then cut each of the half pieces, until the squash has been cut into largequarters. Take 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, to lightly grease the bottom ofa large sheet.
  • Take the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil andgently lather each quarter and place into the tray, skin side up. Place thegarlic bulb into the same tray. Allow to bake for 50-60 minutes, until the skinof each piece can be gently pierced with a fork. Allow to cool down for about 5 minutes.
  • During the last 10 minutes of roasting time,begin to boil a large pot of water. Once water is at a rolling boiling point,lower heat to medium-high, place pasta into water, and allow to cook for 7-9minutes until al-dente. Drain, and then place back into lot, with a cover. Setaside.
  • Once squash has cooled down, gently scoopsoftened squash and garlic, and place into a large food processor. Gently addin the almond milk, salt, pepper, and remaining spices. Puree the mixture for1-2 minutes until the blend has turned into a thick liquid consistency.
  • Once the puree has been created, gently mix intothe pasta until well-combined.
  • (Optional) Add in fresh spinach leaves.
  • Enjoy!

Nutritional Information per serving:

416 calories/ 7.4 grams protein/ 10.5 grams fat/ 76.7 grams carbohydrates/ 11 grams of fiber

*Substitute for any other milk of your choice

**Feel free to rinse, season, lightly oil and bake the seeds at 350 F for about 10-15 minutes, or until crispy!

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Curried chickpea collard wrap split into two

Curried Chickpea Collard Wraps

These curried chickpea collard wraps serve as a delicious way to eat a savory curried dish-on the go!

A while back, I went to my fridge, and was trying to figure out what to do with all of the borderline produce that was about to go bad. After scratching my head, I thought ‘Why not make a curry??’

So I did. If you have not caught on, Curried anything is one of my favorite ways to eat my food. Ther’s something about that combination of spices and creamy consistency you get when you ingest that morsel of goodness.

Back to my story.

I decided to make a curry with some leftover veggies, and added chickpeas for their protein and delicious flavor. I wanted to take it up one step and turn my curried medley into wraps. I realized that I had some leftover collards, so I decided to use the collards as the wrap vessels. Doing so gave this a nice, lower carb bite with a hearty dose of vitamin K. While many boast using lettuce as wraps, I really think that using collards is the way to go. The leaves are large, pliable, and can easily fit a decent amount of food. You just have to make sure that the collards are blanched, and I will guide you through that step in the recipe.

I used a vegan mayo to make this recipe completely plant-based, but you can use whatever type of mayo you want! Don’t have access to dates?? Sub dates for 1 small pear or apple, and that will taste just as mouth-watering!

If you are looking for a simple and delicious way to enjoy chickpeas (and your veggies!), I highly recommend that you give this delicious curried chickpea collard wraps recipe a try. So let’s move onto the recipe!

Curried Chickpea Collard Wraps

These Curried Chickpea Collard Wraps are a delicious way to eat a savory curried dish-on the go!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free, vegan
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 275kcal

Equipment

  • Large skillet
  • Large pot

Ingredients

  • 32 oz. can of chickpeas drained
  • 1 carrot large
  • 1 onion medium
  • 2 dates finely minced
  • 4 collard green leaves large
  • 2 tbsop. cooking oil

Seasonings

  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 tsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. curry seasoning

Instructions

  • Prepping collard leaves-Allow large pot of water to boil. While boiling water, afterrinsing collards, gently remove stalks from center of collard leaves. Oncewater is at a rolling boil, gently place collard leaves and Blanche for 30seconds. Immediately remove, place in ice cold water for 25-30 minutes, oruntil collard leaves have softened. Pat down with clean towel, and set aside.
  • Finelydice the onion and carrot until there are 1/4” cubes. Set aside
  • Take askillet and preheat and add the cooking oil to the skillet.
  • Oncethe skillet is warm enough, add all of the ingredients (except mayonnaise andchickpeas) together, and sauté on medium-high heat for about 7-10 minutes,until the carrot/onion mixture has some light golden brown charring. Add thechickpeas during the last 4 minutes of the sautéing.
  • Once the chickpea mixture has finished sautéing, turn off skillet & remove fromheat. After cooling off for about 2 minutes, add in the veganaise, and mixwell. Serve over your favorite type of bread (or wrap/ or leafy green wrap!)and enjoy!!

Nutritional information per serving (without bread):

275g calories/ 9.8g protein/12g fat/35g carbs/ 10g fiber

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Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil bowl: An Earth-Friendly Meal

This mesquite cauliflower and lentil bowl is a dish that is delicious, and planet-friendly!

Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl
Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

You’re probably like me, in the sense that you are trying to live your best life possible. Maybe this effort includes giving back to the community by being physically active, and trying to eat as healthy as possible-on top of every other responsibility you may have.

What about this planet? Where does being a good environmental steward come into play with you trying to live out your best life? What steps are you making in order to make sure that your actions, and decisions have a good impact on the Earth, and everyone else who lives here? Then the effort of living your best life shifts to living our best life.

A Global Perspective

Let’s take a step back and think globally, for a second. According to a 2017 study conducted by the United Nations, by the year 2050, Planet Earth’s population will surpass 9.8 billion inhabitants-all fighting for the same diminishing resources. Trying to live your best life, while also trying to live healthily and being a mindful steward to our ever-crowding planet may not only seem heavy, but can also become an extremely overwhelming effort.

What if I told you can take the first step of living an equally healthy and sustainable life by choosing what and how you eat? It’s definitely a great place to begin. While attempting to adopt such a golden diet may seem daunting, there is one team of scientists and researchers which may have one solution to this dilemma. In 2019, The EAT Lancet Commission was formed as an effort to address this dichotomy. The EAT-Lancet Commission comprised of over 37 leading scientists and researchers from over 16 countries who work in the arenas of agriculture. Human health, environmental science and political science who worked together to develop scientifically-backed global targets for healthy diets and a sustainable food production system (“Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission”, 2019).

A Planetary Health Plate

So what and how does the EAT-Lancet Commission reccomend we eat? The Commission developed a planetary health plate that consists of roughly half a plate of fruits and vegetables. The Other half of this plate would primarily consist of whole grains (such as rice and barley), plant-sourced protein, and unsaturated plant oils (such as olive and sesame). The Planetary includes minimal consumption of animal-based foods (such as meat, dairy, and eggs), sugars, and even includes a significant limitation of starchy vegetables and (“Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission”, 2019).

A diagram of the EAT Lancet Commission’s Planetary Health Plate

Ever since I found out about the Planetary Health Plate, I have been intrigued. I definitely fall within the camp of folks who is trying my best to eat in a healthy manner while also being environmentally conscientious. I wanted to accept the challenge of eating in a way that complies with the principles of the EAT Lancet Commission, as best as I could. With that being said, I bring you my first Planetary Health Plate Dish-or should I say bowl, in this case?

An Earth-Friendly Meal?

With this, I bring to you a very delicious and hearty Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil bowl. This delicious bowl has a very rich set of flavors, which combine the natural meatiness of Lentils, with the versatility of rice. The roasted cauliflower with the homemade mesquite marinade gives this dish a burst of subtle smoke and heat-packed flavor. The incorporation of onion, garlic and generous amounts of kale help to ensure that at least half of this bowl comprised of vegetables-a recommendation of the Planetary health plate guideline. I will admit that while the guidelines recommend a minimal amount of starchy vegetables, I did incorporate a small sweet potato into my recipe, since I wanted to clean out my fridge in the process-therefore, reducing food waste. The incorporation of the sweet potato is entirely up to you! All in all, this dish took about 40 minutes to prepare, excluding the time you are preheating your oven. This may seem like a long time, but the dish was actually simple to prepare, since most of these ingredients cooked themselves, with minimal effort to watch over.

Planetary-health plate-complaint ingredients for the Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

Ready to get cookin’?! Let’s move onto the recipe!

Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

This mesquite cauliflower and lentil bowl is a dish that is delicious, and planet-friendly!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free, vegan
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 407kcal

Ingredients

Black Rice

  • 1 cup Black rice (*or whatever other rice you have)
  • 2 cups water

Roasted Mesquite Cauliflower

  • 1 cauliflower large
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Lentil Stew

  • 1 cup lentils uncooked
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups kale or spinach
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 sweet potato diced (optional ingredient)
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil

Instructions

  • First, before moving forward withany other step, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cooking the Rice

  • [Method 1: Rice Cooker] Load the rice cooker with the rice and water, press the startbutton, cover, and allow for the rice to cook for about 25-35 minutes, or untilthe cooker indicated that the rice has finished cooking. Afterwards, fluff withfork.
  • [Method 2: Stovetop] in a medium pot, combine the rice and water, and heat onmedium-high and allow to boil. Once the rice reaches a rolling boil, reduce theheat to low, cover, and allow to cook for 25-35 minutes or until you see thatall of the water has evaporated. Afterwards, fluff with fork.

Whilewaiting for the rice to cook, begin preparing the roasted cauliflower:

  • Coarselydice cauliflower into pieces that are roughly 2”-3” in size. Place in anoven-safe casserole dish, and set aside.
  • Makingthe mesquite marinade: In a bowl, combine the maple syrup, the chili powder,smoked paprika, oil, and salt until well-combined.
  • Gently pour over the mesquite marinade over the cauliflower pieces, and gentlymix marinade with your hands until each piece of cauliflower is well-coated.
  • Placein center rack of oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Afterwards, take out of theoven, flip each piece over, and place in the oven again for 15-20 minutes, oruntil each piece of cauliflower has lightly caramelized.

Whilewaiting for cauliflower and rice to finish cooking, begin preparing lentilstew.

  • In a fine mesh, rinse out lentils, until small rocks and debris have been removed.
  • In a medium pot, add the cooking oil, and let it heat up for about 10-30 secondson medium-high. Gradually, add in the onions and garlic and sauté for about 3minutes, or until the onions become translucent. At that point, add thelentils, vegetable broth, tomato sauce, turmeric, salt and sweet potato andallow to heat up until boiling. Once you see that the stew begins to boil,reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and allow the lentil stew to cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils have absorbed the broth. During the last 10minutes of the lentils simmering, mix in the kale, and cover again.  
  • Addeach of these elements into a bowl or plate of your choice, and enjoy!

Video

Nutrition information per serving:

407 calories/ 9.5 grams protein/ 11 grams fat/ 71 grams carbohydrates/ 7.5 grams of fiber


References:

Willet, W., & Rockström, J. (2019). Summary Report of the Eat-Lancet CommissionSummary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission. EAT; Wellcome Trust. Retrieved from https://eatforum.org/content/uploads/2019/07/EAT-Lancet_Commission_Summary_Report.pdf

World population projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100 | UN DESA Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/world-population-prospects-2017.html.

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Cheesy Vegan Zucchini Lasagna

Unlike your traditional lasagna, this deliciously cheesy vegan zucchini lasagna is different because it is plant-based, and is lower-in carbs (if you’re counting!)

Pictured is a slice of the cheesy vegan zucchini lasagna, topped with fresh basil leaves, served on a medium-sized plate.

THIS. LASAGNA. TOOK. ME. PLACES.

Simply put: I have been craving lasagna for a while, so I was really looking forward to making this. However, unlike your traditional lasagna, this is different because it is vegan, and replaces zucchini for lasagna noodles, which makes this lower-in carbs (if you’re counting!).

This seriously turned out to be one of the most delicious lasagnas that I have ever tasted, and I’m not just saying that because I made it! It’s creamy, delicious, nutty, and extremely filling. Unlike most zucchini lasagnas I’ve had in the past, this one wasn’t soupy, nor did any excess liquid from the zucchini make the dish too wet. The consistency was just right-almost as if I were eating the traditional Italian Dish. The homemade cashew ricotta cheese was not only extremely delicious, but was very helpful in absorbing the excess moisture from the veggies.

Patience is a Virtue

Before I jump into the recipe, I will say that this cheesy vegan zucchini lasagna is going to take some time for you to prepare. Dedicate at least two hours for the preparation of this meal (which will include the ingredient prep and baking time). This dish was made almost completely from scratch, which means that I had to make almost every component with my own blood, sweat, and tears (you get it-I hope!). If you’re into prepping ingredients ahead of time, then you’ll be ahead of the game!

My advice: Patience is a virtue. Trust me. You’ll be licking your plate clean.

Let’s jump to the Cheesy Vegan Zucchini Lasagna recipe, shall we:

Cheesy Vegan Zucchini Lasagna

Ingredients:

For the noodles:

  • 2 medium whole zucchinis or one extra-large zucchini

For the sauce:

  • Two 8 ounce packages of portabella mushrooms
  • 5-6 large plum tomatoes
  • 2 large red bell peppers (or 4 medium bell peppers)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves
  • ½ large onion, or 1 small onion
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 2 tbsp. dried oregano seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo), divided into two teaspoons
  • Dash of salt & black pepper

For the cashew ricotta cheese:

  • 1 tsp evoo
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked
  • ½ cup reserved water from soaked cashews
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, or ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder (depending on how garlicky you like your ricotta)

For the topping:

  • Miyokos brand of Mozzarella cheese (optional, since this is my favorite store-bought vegan cheese)

Directions for the noodles:

  1. Slice the lengthwise with a mandolin. I highly recommend using a mandolin, for consistent slices. However, if you choose to slice these by hand, be sure to slice them no more than about 1/8” in thickness.
  2. These next two steps are optional, but HIGHLY recommended. To help get rid of the excess moisture from the zucchinis, place a large baking sheet with a layer of napkins, and salt the napkins. Then, lay each zucchini noodle slice over the salt, and try to avoid overlapping the slices. Liberally salt over the zucchinis, and let these ‘sweat’ for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, gently run your fingers through each slice over a sink or colander to get rid of the excess moisture and gently place the zucchini back into the pan, and once again avoid overlapping each slice.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the baking sheet(s) with the slices in the oven for ten minutes, to finish drying them off. The zucchini will now be ‘dry’ enough to use for the lasagna without making the dish too wet. Set aside.

For the meat sauce

  1. This step is best to do ahead of time-Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the tomatoes in half, remove the bell pepper caps (with seeds), ad place these, along with the garlic cloves in a baking tray. Drizzle 2 tsp of the evoo over the produce and massage oil throughout. Bake these for about 25-30 minutes until the produce becomes wilted and has beautiful golden brown spots. Then place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times until a sauce-consistency forms (I personally like my sauce on the chunkier side)
  2. While the zucchini is ‘sweating’, begin preparing the ‘meat’: coarsely dice the onion (to no more than ½” cubes), dice the garlic cloves into fine pieces, and crumble the portabella mushrooms until they are about ¼” sized pieces. You can either pulse these a couple times in a food processor or crumble them by hand. Up to you.
  3. Drizzle two tsp evoo on a skillet, preheated to medium high. Immediately place mushroom and onion mix into the skillet. Add the salt, black pepper, spinach, red pepper, and crushed oregano seasoning to mixture. Cover for the first 3 minutes to allow everything to wilt, then remove cover and stir mixture frequently for about 7 minutes, until the onions turn translucent, and the portabella begins to lightly brown.
  4. Add roasted tomato sauce mixture to the portabella ‘meat’ and let is simmer on low for about 10 minutes, or until more of the juices from the tomato mixture reduces.

For cashew ricotta:

1. Place all specified ingredients into (cleaned) food processor and let it blend for about 3-5 minutes, or until it has that thick, ricotta mixture. Be sure to check and stir periodically. That easy.

Directions for the Lasagna assembling:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Take an 8” casserole dish, and take about 2-3 tablespoons of meat sauce to spoon at bottom. This will help the lasagna become easy to scoop out (trust me!)
  3. Like any traditional lasagna recipe, gently layer the zucchini noodles, as the second layer. Then add about half or the ricotta mixture and gently spread. Then layer about a third of the meat sauce mixture. Afterwards, layer about 1/3 of the Miyokos mozzarella cheese. Then repeat this step, until you have about 2-3 layers of lasagna. Top with the rest of the sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese. Over with a sheet of aluminum foil
  4. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Afterwards, remove aluminum foil cover and allow to bake for 15 additional minutes.
  5. The hardest step (but a VERY important one!!). Let the lasagna rest for about 10-15 minutes-OR-until you feel like it is cool enough for you to eat.
  6. Quarter this lasagna with a spatula (or knife) and with your spatula, gently take each piece out, and plate.
  7. Devour this dish and enjoy!!!

Makes 4 servings (serving size: 1 hearty slice)

Nutritional information for the Cheesy Vegan Zucchini Lasagna:

502g calories/ 29g protein/51g fat/58g carbs/ 8.5g fiber

Have you made this? Did you alter this recipe in any way? Comment below!

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