Easy Low Fat Spinach Pesto

11 09 2012

I am a lazy vegan on a budget, and between my two jobs I just don’t have a lot of time to spend cooking. Although I grow my own basil and love fresh pesto, I also do not have the money to spend on high quality olive oil (and I make pesto a lot, having a lower fat/oil version is also plus).

To get to the point, I have tested and manipulated several non-oil  recipes for  pesto, here is one of the better resulting sauces.

Low Fat Spinach Pesto

  • 6 oz Firm Silken Tofu (half of a soft pack box)
  • 3/4 C Frozen Spinach ( I like to ‘hide’ spinach in everything)
  • 3/4 C fresh basil (loosely packed)
  • 1/3- C Vegetable Broth (use 1/2 cup tor a thinner sauce)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 T Oil
  • 2 T Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 T Dried Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Optional items to add after processing:

  • Imitation Bacon bits
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • Hot Pepper Flakes

Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Heat on stove and serve over your favorite pasta.


Fast Mini Cinnamon Buns

6 09 2012

My husband always asked me to make him pancakes.  Eventually I responded with “why can’t you make them?” It turned out he didn’t have a clue how to make them, but was willing to learn.

I walked him through the steps- and even book marked the recipe for him. Boy was that a mistake!

Every Saturday and most Sundays he would ‘try’ to  make pancakes.   He would burn them frequently, some would be under cooked, and he made them even if we were out of syrup and fruit. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he wasn’t very good at making pancakes (I fed them to the dogs on several occasions!)

So how did I stop the pancakes without hurting his feelings? I offered to make cinnamon buns!

Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 3/4 C Soy Milk
  • 1 T Baking Soda
  • 2 T Apple Sauce
  • 2 T Vegan Butter (softened)
  • 1 t salt


  • 1.5 T Apple Sauce
  • 1 T Oil (or melted vegan butter)
  • 1.5 T Cinnamon
  • 1/3 C Sugar


  • 1/2  Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2  Tablespoon Water
  • 1/4  Teaspoon Vanilla

Preheat the over to 425. Combine the flour, salt , and baking soda. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the particles are smaller than a pea.
Combine the soy milk and apple sauce and slowly add to the dry ingredients to form the dough.
Roll dough on a floured surface into a thin rectangle (roughly 9″x18″).

Mix the oil, apple sauce, and cinnamon for the filling and spread over the flattened dough.
Sprinkle the sugar over the dough, and roll the dough (from the long side) into a log.
With a sharp knife cut the log into 1 1/2 inch pieces and add to a greased pie pan.

Bake for 12-15 Minutes (until golden brown), top with the combined icing ingredients and serve.

Adapted from recipe for Cinnamon Buns.

I once fell victim to an infomercial

22 06 2012

I have always wanted a Vitamix, and after watching the commercial for the HealthMaster I was intrigued.  Leary to purchase something from an infomercial I searched for the product online and found I could order it from a local Sears.

The box arrived at my house, and I immediately put it to use.  Soups, smoothies, frozen drinks, salsa…  I thought this machine was amazing.  I ignored the fact that the top was so hard to open and close that I needed the aid of my husband, and the fact that it spattered grease over the bottom of the units pitcher.  It wasn’t until the carafe started leaking that I could take no more of this product! Of course it was past the 90 return policy/warranty period. I could purchase (for $79 + S&H) a new pitcher, but after seeing several reviews (that were not there before) which named this same issue I decided against it.

I am an AmeriCorps member, I make less that minimum wage, I could not afford to be taken again!

It wasn’t until recently, during a 5 paycheck month (I work two jobs), that I took the chance again.  This time it was on another blender, also discovered in an infomercial, the Ninja.  A 1 horsepower blender under $100? I had to see! This time I purchased the blender at Best Buy, and got the Replacement Plan (I could not afford to make the same mistake again.)

It is much easier to open, there is no sign of leaks or grease.  The product does ‘feel cheaper’ than the ‘HealthMaster’, where it connects to the base it has plastic parts (unlike the Health Masters metal parts).  I can accept this difference for a 50% price savings.  The largest sigh of relief I have is that if I do ware this machine out, I can take it back to the store with in the next two years and have it replaced.So far I am only three months in, but I have high hopes for this machine.

Easiest Smoothie Ever!

1 Can Chunk pineapple (with juice)
( freeze pineapple first for a cooler drink)
1 1/2 Cups Soymilk

Blend on High until smooth

Quick Unstuffed Peppers

22 06 2012
Unstuffed peppers with seasoned couscous and carrots


  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Couscous
  • 2 Peppers (chopped)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Carrots
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Basil
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 2 Teaspoons Onion powder
  • 1 1/4 Cup Water or Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Clove Garlic (crushed)
  • 1 Chopped Vegan Sausage Link

Combine all the ingredients (but the sausage) in a microwavable bowl.  Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes (until couscous is cooked). Pan fry the chopped sausage, and add to the bowl and serve.

Want to make it even easier: Trade the sausage links for Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo. Stir in half a package to the cooked couscous mix and microwave for an additional minute.

Frozen Coffee on a Budget

22 06 2012

Looking for a way to cool off with a frozen drink for less?

Fill an ice-cube tray with strong brewed coffee and freeze it over night.

Empty the ice-cube tray into a high-speed blender along with:

  • 2 Cups Soymilk
  • add Sugar to your taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla

Run the blender on high until smooth, pour, and serve.

Pasta Salad

30 05 2012

Vegan Pasta Salad

  • 3 C cooked & cooled whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 C baked tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 C chopped spinach or defrosted  veggies 
  • 1/2 C+ vegan mayo 
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1/2 C chopped scallions
  • 1 T hot sauce or curry paste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients but the pasta. Mix well. Add pasta and serve.

Easy Vegan Gnocchi

29 05 2012
  • 1 1/2 cup instant potato flakes
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg equivalent of prepared egg replacer

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl
3. Stir in the water and egg replacer until just mixed
4. Knead dough for about 30 seconds. Form dough  into snakes roughly the thickness of your thumb. Cut 1/2 inch wide pieces from snakes and roll each piece into a ball (roll with a fork to make gnocchi shape).
5. Boil gnocchi until they float. Remove gnocchi and serve with your favorite sauce.