Black Bean and TVP Tacos with Homemade Refried Beans

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Tacos are a common staple in our house. We make them in various ways depending on the time we have on hand and what kind of ingredients and produce we have available. One of my complaints is that when we just throw it together with minimal ingredients and zero measuring is that we don’t have leftovers. Who wouldn’t want leftovers of tacos for the rest of the week or for lunch?

This recipe for Black Bean and TVP tacos is filling, flavorful and makes a ton of leftovers for a small family or plenty for each person in a bigger household. It comes together really quickly. Seriously, the rice took longer than the actual taco filling. It uses a homemade version of taco seasoning (or you could use store bought) and mostly canned goods so you can always have the stuff on hand.

I’ll be honest, no matter what I did refried beans just aren’t pretty and don’t photograph well. I wish they did because the picture doesn’t do them justice. They taste better than store bought and have none of the processed or hidden ingredients (aka lard) found in store bought.

The tacos and the refried beans come together in about the same amount of time so it doesn’t matter which you start first. I’ll start with the refried beans, but feel free to skip on if you are only making the tacos.

Refried Beans: Drain and rinse a 15 oz can of pinto beans. Place the beans in small/medium pot with 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast, and 1 1/2 tbsp cumin.

Bring this to a boil. Once boiling drop the temperature to medium and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. If the broth evaporates before the end of the 10 minutes, add a bit more as you will need it when you blend them. After 10 minutes, place in a glass or metal bowl and use an immersion blender to blend them to your desired consistency.

They aren’t pretty, but they taste good.

Adding a note here that you can use a blender or food processor for this also. If you use an immersion blender, make sure you do not do it in your pot. It will damage the non-stick coating.

Black Bean and TVP Tacos: Dice one bell pepper, then drain and rinse a 15 oz can of black beans and a 15 oz can of hominy. Place the bell pepper, black beans, hominy, 15 oz diced tomatoes, 1 cup of TVP, 1 cup vegetable broth, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 cayenne, and 1/2 tsp salt in an extra large skillet. Stir this all until well combined. Bring to a boil and then allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed.

That’s it! You’re ready to serve. Goes wonderful with raw onion on top, fresh cherry tomatoes, cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, all the toppings! We served ours on corn tortillas, but they’d go great in store bought shells or flour tortillas.

I chose tomatoes and raw onion on a corn tortilla.

Black Bean and TVP Tacos with Homemade Refried Beans

Refried Bean Ingredients:

  • 15 oz can pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin

Taco Ingredients:

  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 15 oz can hominy
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup TVP
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Optional: Corn tortillas, flour tortillas, taco shells, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, raw onion, sour cream

Refried Beans:

  1. Drain and rinse the pinto beans. In a small/medium pot, combine the beans, 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast, and 1 1/2 tbsp cumin.
  2. Bring to a boil, then allow this to simmer for 10 minutes. If the liquid evaporates before the end of the 10 minutes, add a bit more.
  3. After 10 minutes, place the beans and bit of liquid in a glass or metal bowl and using an immersion blender, blend to desired consistency. You can use a food processor or blender if you do not have an immersion blender.

Black Bean and TVP Tacos:

  1. Dice a medium bell pepper. Drain and rinse a 15 oz can of black beans and 15 oz can of hominy. Then combine bell pepper, black beans, hominy, 15 oz diced tomatoes, 1 cup of TVP, 1 cup of vegetable broth, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and 1/2 tsp salt in an extra large skillet.
  2. Bring this to a boil. Once boiling, drop the temperature and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Serve on choice of tortilla with refried beans and toppings of choice.

Lentil “Meat”Loaf Muffins

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I would never have considered myself a go getter. I’m more of a “is that within arm’s reach?” kind of person. I generally like to find the easy way to do things successfully. So when I am now telling to that these are easy to make, you should take my word for it because I had to make them FOUR TIMES to get them right. If I am willing to retry the same recipe FOUR FRIGGIN’ TIMES, you should assume it wasn’t that much effort.

Now, I have zero plans to eat these again in the next couple weeks because I’ve had to try them a lot, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You totally should. They are flavorful, fast, and save well! They are very similar in flavor to my Lentil Oat Burgers.

Two recommendations: 1) Pre-make your lentils and rice earlier in the day. That way they are done and ready to go which makes this a super fast dinner. 2) Use a large food processor. If you have a smaller cup food processor, you can cut the recipe in half and it will make about 6 muffins.

So assuming you’ve pre-made your lentils (3 cups water, 1 cup brown lentils for ~20 minutes) and 2 cups rice (2 cups water, 1 cup rice for ~15 minutes), place those in a food processor and slightly blend. Add 1 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp poultry seasoning, 1 tsp garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, and a bit of pepper. Blend well. It’s fine if you see a few bits of whole rice or lentils but most of it should be “mush” for lack of a better term.

“Mush”

Prepare a muffin tin with cooking spray and preheat oven to 375. Spoon lentil/rice mixture into each cup, filling to the top. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until cooked through. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes before removing. If you remove right away, they will likely fall apart a bit. Giving them time lets them set. Serve with BBQ sauce, ketchup or dip of choice.

Lentil “Meat”Loaf Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of cooked brown lentils
  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • a little pepper

Instructions:

  1. Place cooked lentils and rice in food processor and pulse to combine a few times. Then add the rest of the ingredients, blend well.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 and prepare a muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill each tin to the top with the lentil/rice mixture.
  3. Place in the oven for 25 minutes until cooked through. Let sit for 5-10 min before eating to give it the chance to set. Serve with BBQ sauce, ketchup or condiment of choice.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

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When I was pregnant with my second, I prepared a whole bunch of healthy snacks and lunches that are easy to eat one handed in preparation for being alone with two kids full time. My mother-in-law made us a few loaves of zucchini bread also. That’s where the inspiration for this recipe came from.

What she makes us is definitely delicious, but is pretty high in added sugar. While these still have added sugar it has been cut down a good bit. Frankly, I’ll take a bit of added sugar if it get my kid to eat and touch some vegetables once in a while. He helps me make these so is aware of the fact the there is zucchini in them and likes to help grate it. Exposure is key, right?

After a bit of trial and error, these muffins turned out great. They have a wonderful texture, which I find difficult to maintain when using applesauce in a baked good, and a good amount of fluff to make a nice rounded top on the muffin. One note about the flavor: the recipe uses the Crockpot Applesauce, which thankfully has no added sugar, but I also find Crockpot Applesauce has much more flavor than store bought. So while you can absolutely use store bought applesauce, the flavor of the muffin may not be as strong.

Start by preheating your oven to 350. In a food processor, place 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of oats, 1/2 a cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of applesauce, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup of grated zucchini (with excess moisture removed), 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Blend this until smooth. Add a 1/3 cup of chocolate chips and pulse once or twice.

Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill each cup with about a 1/3 cup of batter, they should be pretty full. Place in your oven for 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean when tested. They are best kept in the fridge and they can be frozen for 2-3 months. They reheat well in the microwave also.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (see note above about Crockpot Applesauce recommendation)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (with excess moisture removed)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips, into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add chocolate chips and pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Prepare a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Add about 1/3 cup of batter to each cup. They should be pretty full.
  3. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean when tested.

Best Ever “From Scratch” Spaghetti

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I’ve already talked about my dislike of jarred pasta sauce in Veggie Loaded Pasta Sauce recipe, but I’ll admit some nights even cutting vegetables is more work than I really want to put into dinner and “from scratch” is loosely used in this recipe. This spaghetti hits the spot. I feel silly even writing this recipe because it’s spaghetti…like not complicated, nothing overly exciting, but it was delicious enough that it was a GOOD dinner with great nutritional benefits, thanks to the lentils and cauliflower, and not half assed which is how I feel with most spaghetti nights.

Again, I feel silly writing this recipe but here we go. First start your lentils, add 1 cup of water and a rinsed 1/3 cup of red lentils to a small sauce pot. Bring this to boil. Once it’s boiling, drop the temp to medium for 15 minutes. Meanwhile boil a large pot of water, once this starts boiling, add 1/2 a box of spaghetti and 16 oz of frozen cauliflower. Boil for 10-12 minutes. Drain when it’s done and move the spaghetti and cauliflower back to the same pot and add in the cooked lentils.

Add 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp Italian seasonings, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp parmesan, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, a bit of salt and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir well and serve! Seriously so basic, but so good. Doctoring up your own pasta sauce it a great way to increase the nutritional benefits with minimal effort. Note about the lentils: you can totally use green or brown lentils instead. However, the red lentils break down much more which is what I like about adding them to spaghetti. They are barely noticeable but are such a great nutritional powerhouse.

Best Ever “From Scratch” Spaghetti

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 box of spaghetti
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup red lentils (rinsed)
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 16 oz bag of frozen cauliflower
  • 1 tsp Italian seasonings
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp parmesan
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Instructions:

  1. In a small sauce pot, boil 1 cup of water with 1/3 cup of rinsed red lentils. Once this is boiling, bring the temp down to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boiling, then add spaghetti and frozen cauliflower. Let this boil for 10-12 minutes.
  3. When done, drain the cauliflower and spaghetti. Add the spaghetti, cauliflower, and lentils into the large pot. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Let this simmer on medium low heat for 5-10 min to heat through.

Chickpea Nuggets

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I wish I could say I made these for my 3 year old, but apparently I have the only 3 year old in the world who won’t eat nuggets in practically any form. No idea why, the only nugget like food he eats is those Dr. Praeger’s spinach dinosaur bites. Granted they are delicious, so I understand why. Maybe that’ll have to go on the list for things to try to replicate at home.

So after much trial and error, I’ve finally got these so they have enough flavor, aren’t crumbly and have a crunch on the outside but softness in the middle. Now, full disclosure, I think any chickpea blend has the potential to be crumbly and making sure you start with the right texture will make a difference. These hold up though, they don’t break apart and I only lost crumbles in ketchup.

Simple process to make them. Drain and rinse 2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas, put these in a food processor along with the following ingredients: 2 diced carrots, 1/2 tsp garlic, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 1/2 tsp dried cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp bread crumbs, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast. Blend well. Your texture should be similar to hummus but a little grittier. A small amount of un-chopped carrot or chickpea at the top of the food processor is okay, but you want the majority of it to be well blended. If you’re having trouble getting it to blend well, add 1 tbsp of water at a time and blend again. Add more water as needed to get the desired consistency.

Good example of desired texture. Left side: Hummus like, Right side: a little grittier with some pieces of carrot and chickpea. Once stirred together, it balances out to the right texture.

Take the blade out of your food processor and begin shaping your nuggets. You will want to use about golf ball sized amounts of the blend. Place them on a prepared baking sheet (strongly recommend parchment paper or a silpat mat) and gently press down with your finger tips to form the nugget shape. Depending on the size of each nugget you should end up with 15-20 nuggets.

My baking sheets are clean but well loved/used. Ignore that & enjoy your chickpea nuggets.

Preheat your oven to 425. Place each baking sheet in for 20 minutes, flip, then bake for another 10 – 15 minutes. They should be easy to lift when you flip them after the 20 minutes. There will likely be a light brown layer on the bottom after flipping (as seen below). If they don’t flip easily, give them another couple minutes and try again. After the second round in the oven, the chickpea nuggets are all done and ready to serve!

Chickpea Nuggets

Makes 15-20 nuggets

Ingredients:

  • 2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2-4 tbsp of water

Instructions:

  1. Drain and rinse both cans of chickpeas. Add the chickpeas to a food processor. Add all remaining ingredients except water. The texture should be similar to hummus on the bottom of the food processor. It’s okay if there is a bit of un-chopped chickpea or carrot on top. If you are having trouble getting the food processor to blend well, add 1 tbsp of water and blend again. Continue adding water 1 tbsp at a time until you get the desired consistency (see pic above).
  2. Remove the blade, preheat your oven to 425, and being forming your nuggets. Using golf ball sized handfuls, place these on a prepared baking sheet (parchment paper or silpat mat). Lightly press down with your finger tips to create the shape.
  3. Place baking sheets in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, flip each nugget and bake for 10-15 more minutes. The bottoms should create a nice crust within the first 20 minutes and should be easy to flip. After the second round in the oven, they are ready to serve!
  4. Note: If you have trouble flipping or they start to break when you try to flip, put it back in the oven for a few minutes so that crust can form and try again.

Cabbage and Barley Soup

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This is a recipe based off one my mom originally made. I can’t say I’ve made anything with cabbage in the past 10 years of cooking. It’s just not something that I ever think of to use but it works perfectly in this soup. I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a longer cook time than most things I cook as well, at about an hour or so. However, it’s full of flavor, filled with great vegetables and makes tons of left overs so you have to cook less during the week so that’s a win!

Begin by dicing a whole onion, 2 stalks of celery, and 2 carrots (I used 8 baby carrots). Place these in a large soup pot with 1/2 a tsp of garlic and a dollop of oil. Saute this for about 5-10 minutes until the onions are translucent.

Add 8 cups of broth, 15 oz diced tomatoes, 1 bouillon cube, 1 tsp of Italian seasonings, and 1/2 a head of finely chopped cabbage. For the cabbage, I make very thin slices at an angle throughout the half head of cabbage. If it’s a wider cut, I just cut it in half then. After adding the above ingredients, bring the soup to boiling, then drop the temperature to simmering. Let the cabbage cook down for about 10-15 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of barley and 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables. Let this simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is fully cooked.

Cabbage and Barley Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • olive oil
  • 8 cups of vegetable broth
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 tsp Italian seasonings
  • 1/2 a head of cabbage
  • 1/2 cup of barley
  • 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables

Instructions:

  1. Dice onion, celery, and carrot. Place these in a large soup pot with 1/2 tsp garlic and a bit of olive oil. Saute the veggies until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add 15 oz of diced tomatoes, 8 cups of vegetable broth, 1 vegetable bouillon cube, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 a head of finely diced cabbage.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the soup is boiling, turn the heat to medium and allow the cabbage to cook down for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. After the cabbage has cooked down a bit, add 1/2 a cup of barley and 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetable. Allow this to simmer for about 45 minutes.

TVP Sloppy Joe’s

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Texturized Vegetable Protein is one of my favorite products as a vegetarian. It is a simple replacement in meals that are usually meat based and it is full of great nutrients which can be difficult to replace in a vegetarian diet. In just a 1/4 cup, there’s 13g of protein and 10% DV of iron.

TVP can be difficult to find depending on the area you live in, but it’s usually available through Bob’s Red Mill site or Thrive Market. If you are checking in the grocery store, it should be in the health food/organic section, near polenta or almond flour.

This is one of the first meals I created after becoming a vegetarian and one that we have probably once or twice a month because it’s so simple and family friendly. It goes well with all kinds of sides so its easy to mix it up.

First dice up 1/2 an onion and one bell pepper. Throw the onion, bell pepper, and one tsp minced garlic into a large skillet with a tsp or two of olive oil. Saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic over medium to high heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until the onion is translucent and the bell pepper has softened a bit.

Drop temperature to medium low. Add 1 cup of TVP to the skillet with 15 oz of tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, 2 tbsp of tomato paste, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a dash of oregano, salt and pepper and 2 tsp of Annie’s (vegan) Worcestershire sauce (you can use any brand but some brands have anchovies, so that’s up to you). Stir and combine well. Let mixture sit on low to medium heat stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until it has thickened and warmed through.

Serve on burger buns or kaiser rolls, with some starchy sides and vegetables.

TVP Sloppy Joe’s

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • ½ an onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic 
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • 15 oz canned tomato sauce
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Annie’s (Vegan) Worcestershire sauce (or any brand, see note above)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • dash of oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 hamburger buns or kaiser rolls
  • 6 slice of cheddar cheese (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Dice bell pepper and 1/2 an onion. Saute onion, pepper and garlic over medium high heat until peppers are tender, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add 1 cup of TVP, 15 oz canned tomato sauce, ½ cup of vegetable broth, 2 tbsp tomato paste, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a dash of oregano, salt and pepper, and 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce to the skillet. Stir to combine.
  3.  Reduce heat to medium low. Let mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened.
  4. Serve on roll of choice with or without cheese. 

Simple Sheet Pan Pancakes

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Is it okay to consider this a recipe if you use a box mix as part of the ingredients? I vote yes. Personally, while I could make my own pancake mix, Krusteaz does a great job so why put myself through that? I used to consider myself a morning person because I was physically capable of waking up at my husband’s crazy work hours of 4:30 am. Now, two kids later, I am aware that I am not a morning person. At all. I don’t really feel functional until about 9:30, but hey, you want to take a spin class at 8 or 9 PM, I’m your girl! (Looking at you, Echelon Instructors!)

Anyways, I’m also not a breakfast person. I’m not a fan of oatmeal, cereal, or eggs overly much. Donuts are great, and bagels, but unfortunately, not an everyday thing. Sheet pan pancakes are a great option for anyone, but especially those of us who aren’t morning people, or breakfast people.

These were so simple, I made them by 8 am one day when my oldest woke up ungodly early. They were done before I had to feed him and even better, breakfast was done for the week.

There are dozens of recipes out there if you are looking to make batter from scratch. If you’ve got mix sitting around and don’t want to deal with flipping or doing much more than adding water, this one is for you.

When I make these, I use Krusteaz buttermilk pancake mix. My mother-in-law introduced me to this brand a few years ago and we really like it, however any brand will work (except Kodiak, I’m sure the ratios are different and it likely wouldn’t rise the same way).

Simple instructions here. Preheat oven to 425. Place 5 cups of pancake mix in a large bowl. Add in 3 1/2 cups of water and stir until combine. You want to blend in the dry batter, but don’t worry about getting all of the lumps out. Just make sure there’s no dry mix on the bottom.

Pour batter in to a prepared baking dish with high sides. Ours measures 12×18 and it came up at a perfect height. Once you’ve poured in the batter give it a little shimmy to level it out. Sprinkle on frozen berries and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven once lightly browned around the edges. Let sit 5-10 minutes before cutting.

This makes a ton of left overs and reheats really well in the microwave (about 20 seconds). Serve with a little drizzle of maple syrup and be happy because there much less clean up than standard pancakes.

Simple Sheet Pan Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of Krusteaz pancake mix (or other brand)
  • 3 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries (or berries type of your choice)
  • maple syrup (ours is from Woodbury Sugar Shed)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Place 5 cups of pancake mix in a large bowl. Add 3 1/2 cups of water. Stir until just mixed. A few lumps are okay, but make sure there is no dry mix on the bottom.
  3. Prepare an extra large cake pan with tall sides (12×18) with cooking spray. Pour batter into the pan and give a little shake to level out the batter.
  4. Sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups of frozen berries across the surface, evenly dispersed.
  5. Place in preheated oven for about 15 minutes until lightly brown around the edges and middle is cooked through.
  6. Wait for about 5-10 minutes before serving. We cut this into 6 rows of 3 pieces. Serve with a drizzle of syrup on top.

Veggie Loaded Pasta Sauce

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I stopped buying store bought pasta sauce a few years ago and instead buy crushed tomatoes. I did this for a few reasons. 1) It’s crazy expensive considering how much you get. Jarred pasta sauce costs almost $2 a jar for 24 oz, a can of crushed tomatoes costs $0.88 for 28 oz. 2) Store bought is significantly higher in sodium, sugar, carbs, and calories. Jar sauce tends to have about 480 mg of sodium (compared to 110 mg), 9g of sugar (compared to 2g), 13g of carbs (compared to 5g), and 88 calories per 1/2 cup (compared to 50 for crushed tomatoes). This obviously will vary from brand to brand. 3) I mostly stopped buying it because I find store bought too sweet and didn’t really enjoy it. Also, I’m cheap and don’t like to spend extra money.

Now obviously, you can also use fresh tomatoes to make your own pasta sauce. Frankly you won’t see that on this blog. No time for that in this household. I say that. I may take it back. We have a garden going right now. My tomatoes are just starting to get red. I feel like they will all probably turn red at the same time. I’ve got salsa planned, tomato sandwiches, some baby food for my 6 month old, and I’ll cook with some. If I still have some left over, I may have to make my own sauce. So exception there.

Anyways, on rushed night, I often heat crushed tomatoes, add some seasoning, spinach and mushrooms and throw it over some cooked pasta. In my mind, pasta nights are generally meant to be fast, easy, and satisfying for the whole family. The sauce can be adapted to what you have on hand. Which is what inspired this sauce, I had a bunch of garden veggies to use up.

Tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash are from our garden.

Start by dicing up 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 1/2 an onion, and 4 cherry/grape tomatoes. Place these right into a large sauce pot. Add 1 tsp of garlic and a dollop of olive oil or oil of your choice. Sorry, I don’t tend to measure my oil when sauteing.

Saute the veggies for about 10 minutes until the zucchini and yellow squash have softened. Pour a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes in with the veggies. Also, add in a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth, 1 tbsp of tomato paste, 1/2 tsp of salt (optional), and add a couple handfuls of frozen spinach

Didn’t measure exact amount of spinach. This was about 2 1/2 handfuls.

Let the sauce continue to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to mix in the spinach as it defrosts. Once the spinach is defrosted and mixed into the sauce, add 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp parmesan cheese. Serve over your choice of pasta. This makes a large quantity of sauce so you may want to make extra pasta for left overs.

Veggie Loaded Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 4 cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • frozen spinach
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp parmesan
  • pasta of your choice (cooked)

Instructions:

  1. Begin by dicing up your veggies and placing them in a large sauce pot. Add a dollop of olive oil and saute for about 10 minutes until the zucchini and yellow squash have softened.
  2. Add 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth, 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 15 oz of diced tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato paste and 1/2 tsp (optional) salt. Stir and let simmer for 5-10 more minutes.
  3. Add a few (2-3) handfuls of frozen spinach to the sauce. Let this simmer while stirring occasionally as spinach defrosts. Once the spinach has mixed throughly, add 1 tbsp nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp parmesan cheese.
  4. Once your pasta of choice is finished cooking, serve and enjoy!

Oven Roasted Garlic Chickpeas

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Chickpeas are a big staple in our house. They are high in nutrients including fiber and protein and good source of calories. My son used to eat them plain, just drained and rinsed. They were a great snack for him, a side for dinner, or a perfect topping on salad. My husband was looking for some additional work snacks so we decided to doctor them up a bit and these hit the spot.

Start by preheating your oven to 400. Drain and rinse a 15 oz can of chickpeas. Place the rinsed chickpeas in a small bowl. Add 1 tsp of Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp nutritional yeast, and a little salt and pepper. If you don’t have Mrs. Dash, garlic and pepper seasoning works as well.

Stir to coat all of the chickpeas. Pour the coated chickpeas on to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Place the sheet pan in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes. These chickpeas do not turn out crunchy. If you prefer them crunchy, add an additional 10-15 minutes to the cook time, stirring about halfway.

Oven Roasted Garlic Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400. Drain and rinse a 15 oz can of chickpeas. Transfer the chickpeas to a small bowl. Add 1 tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp nutritional yeast, and a little salt and pepper to your taste. Give a stir to coat.
  2. Pour the chickpeas in to a prepared baking dish. Place them in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Note: These chickpeas do not come out crunchy. If you’d prefer them crunchy, add an additional 10-15 minutes to the cook time and stir about half way through.