Tag Archives: Meatless Monday

Stuffed Collard Greens

Stuffed Collard Greens at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Have you seen the April 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living yet? You can get it on newsstands or on your iPad. I think it’s my favorite issue EVER! The photography is gorgeous and the recipes are oh-so-inspiring.

Luckily, the folks at MSL have allowed me to share a few of my favorite dishes from April's issue here at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet in the upcoming weeks for Easter, Passover, and for anytime you want to make a delicious and healthy dinner for your family.

April 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living featured at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

In praise of collard greens

When I moved to Georgia from Colorado, I was so excited to see how easy it was to buy collard greens. You could get them prewashed, shredded and bagged at the grocery store. No more special trips to the farmer’s market or Whole Foods!

Collards are cruciferous vegetables like kale and spinach and have similar antioxidant and nutritional values. My favorite way to cook them up is using Hugh Acheson’s recipe - Sweetened Collard Greens. He uses maple syrup (Hugh’s Canadian after all) but I use sorghum to take away some of the collard greens’ bitterness.  Another way I like cooking collard greens is with rice vinegar in my Tangy Collard Greens recipe.

However, I usually cook greens as a side dish. The recipe featured in the current issue of Martha Stewart Living is a perfect dinner dish for Meatless Monday – Stuffed Collard Greens. It’s reminiscent of stuffed cabbage leaves, and uses spelt, which is a whole grain rich in nutrients. (However, it is not gluten free.)

Collard greens get their signature richness from being cooked with ham hocks or bacon. ( I make my greens with country ham, which I call the “poor man’s prosciutto.”) For a vegetarian version that achieves the same depth of flavor, trying use Parmesan rind instead. It contains umami, the savory taste found in cured meat and soy sauce. The rind will hold its shape as the greens simmer. Just remove it from the pot when you’re done cooking.

Stuffed Collard Greens at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Stuffed Collard Greens

For quicker assembly, cook the tomato sauce and spelt up to two days ahead. Let cool, then store them separately in covered containers.


  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes with their juices
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • Pinch red-pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup spelt
  • 1 pound collard greens
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans, or 1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves


  1. Pulse tomatoes with juices in a food processor until chopped. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Let cool.
  2. Stir spelt into a saucepan of salted boiling water. Reduce to a steady simmer; cook, uncovered, until tender, about 40 minutes. Drain and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, add collard greens in batches to a pot of salted boiling water and cook until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Remove with tongs and let cool. Trim off stems and thick ribs. Reserve 12 large leaves; chop any remaining leaves.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coarsely mash beans in a bowl. Add cooked spelt, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, cheese, sage, and any chopped collards. Stir to combine. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Working with one collard leaf at a time, arrange 1/4 cup filling in center. Fold stem end over filling. Fold in sides. Roll collard over to form a bundle, overlapping ends to seal. Transfer, seam-side down, to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  6. Spread sauce evenly over stuffed collards. Cover with parchment, then foil; bake until sauce is bubbling and collards are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Servings: Serves 6
  • Serving size: 1 stuffed collard green
  • Calories: 305
  • Total Fat: 12g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated fat: 10g
  • Sodium: 635mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 43g
  • Fiber: 9g
  • Protein: 11g
  • Cholesterol: 3mg

Photography by David Malosh. Recipe and photograph used with permission.

Kale & Grapefruit Salad with Warm Bacon-Wild Mushroom Dressing

Kale & Grapefruit Salad with Warm Bacon-Wild Mushroom Dressing at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

I love having grapefruit for breakfast. But I’m not fond of cutting open grapefruit every morning and dividing up the sections, even though I have a marvelous grapefruit knife. That’s why I buy those jars of already prepared grapefruit or those little snack cups, with the grapefruit sweetened with fruit juices and perfectly proportioned, for a breakfast sized snack.

Don’t be fooled, grapefruit is not just for breakfast anymore as shown in this terrific salad recipe from celebrity chef and winner of Food Network Star Season Six, Aarti Sequeira. In a recent survey, Florida Grapefruit discovered that nearly 70 percent of Americans ages 45 to 64 think it’s important to taste or try new ethnic foods, recipes or dishes. Chef Aarti’s recipe, Kale & Grapefruit Salad with Warm Bacon-Wild Mushroom Dressing, fulfills Americans’ wish to spice up their everyday dinners and entrees by using of-the-moment ingredients.

She’s revealing a new recipe every two weeks through March 18 on the Florida Grapefruit Facebook page, so stop by and check them out! I’ll be sharing another of her grapefruit recipes here at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet next week, too.


  • If you’re allergic to nuts, use pine nuts or pumpkin seeds instead.
  • To make this salad vegetarian or vegan, substitute a soy bacon for the pork bacon.
  • To save time, use jarred or freshly peeled and segmented grapefruit in the produce department at your grocery store.
  • Make sure to use 100% grapefruit juice and not grapefruit “cocktail,” which may have added sugar, corn syrup, or high fructose corn syrup added to it.
Kale & Grapefruit Salad with Warm Bacon-Wild Mushroom Dressing at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Kale & Grapefruit Salad with Warm Bacon-Wild Mushroom Dressing


  • 1 to 2 bunches (about 1 pound) black kale, washed, stalks removed, sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for massaging
  • 3 slices thick-sliced bacon, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces wild mushrooms, thinly sliced (recommended: crimini and chanterelle)
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 cup 100% Florida grapefruit juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 large ruby red grapefruit, cut into segments
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place kale in a very large bowl. Sprinkle with a couple of pinches of kosher salt and a very light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Now, begin “massaging” the kale; squeeze fistfuls of the leaves and rub between your fingers. The kale will begin to wilt within minutes! Once uniformly wilted, set aside on the counter and prepare the dressing.
  2. Grab a medium sauté pan or skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Add bacon pieces and cook, stirring every now and then, until most of the fat has rendered off and bacon bits are brown and just crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper-towel lined plate. Pour off bacon fat into a measuring cup. If necessary, add enough extra virgin olive oil to make 1/4 cup. Pour back into sauté pan.
  3. Add the mushrooms, stir to coat in the fat, then spread out into an even layer. Don’t touch them for 3 to 5 minutes! They will start to soften and sizzle. Now stir and cook, stirring often until they are golden brown around the edges. Stir in the shallots and cook until the whole mixture is browned and aromatic.
  4. Add champagne vinegar, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan with your spoon. Turn the heat off. Add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, the grapefruit juice and 1 tablespoon honey. Stir together, taste for seasoning and adjust according to your palate.
  5. Sprinkle kale with hazelnuts, bacon bits and grapefruit segments. Pour warm dressing over the top and serve immediately.
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1/4 of recipe

Recipe and photo used with permission.

Roasted Broccoli with Pumpkin Seeds and Grated Pecorino

Roasted Broccoli with Pumpkin Seeds and Grated Pecorino from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com Photo by Romulo Yanes. Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright © 2014.

I've been frustrated with my attempts to try to get my daughter to eat vegetables. During a recent shopping trip to Krogers (where we bumped into Top Chef judge, Hugh Acheson, who lives nearby) I asked her, “Lucie, what vegetables would you eat if I bought them?” She told me she likes broccoli and cauliflower. To which I replied, “What, with chocolate sauce?” She replied, “No mommy, steamed with a little butter and salt.”

January/February 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living

So maybe the recipe below for Roasted Broccoli with Pumpkin Seeds and Grated Pecorino is a little too fancy for her. But I’d make this for me and my husband and have her try it. It’s just one of several healthy recipes featured in the January/February 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living that’s available on newsstands now.

You can serve this as a main course – perfect for Meatless Monday – or as a side dish by halving the portion size. I bet this would be delicious served cold the next day as a veggie salad with a lemony vinaigrette, too!

Roasted Broccoli with Pumpkin Seeds and Grated Pecorino from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com Photo by Romulo Yanes. Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright © 2014.

Roasted Broccoli with Pumpkin Seeds and Grated Pecorino


  • 2 pounds broccoli, stems peeled and sliced, florets cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1/3 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange broccoli and pumpkin seeds in single layers on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  2. Roast, rotating pans once, until golden in spots and just tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then sprinkle with cheese.
  3. Divide rice among serving dishes, top with broccoli mixture, and finish with lemon wedges before serving.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1/4 of recipe

Photo by Romulo Yanes. Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright © 2014. Photo and recipe used with permission.

Holly Clegg’s Chunky Corn Chowder with Kale and Sweet Potato

Holly Clegg's Chunky Corn Chowder Kale Sweet Potato from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Meatless Monday: Gorgonzola Radicchio Penne from Bertolli

Meatless Monday: Gorgonzola Radicchio Penne

I’ve been enjoying cooking with the olive oil Bertolli sent me while I was recovering from brain surgery. Since I’m still taking it easy, one of the easy to make things I enjoy cooking for my family is a pasta. Usually, I sauté some vegetables and a bit of leftover this and that (sausage, steak, or country ham) or create a big pot of sauce. This recipe from Chef Fabio is perfect for Meatless Monday as it uses no meat and it takes no time at all to make.

Plus, it’s a terrific way to introduce radicchio into an entrée rather than where you usually find it – salad greens. I love the look of radicchio, but never have though of using it this way! (You can also grill radicchio or use it risotto.)

This recipe is easy to make gluten free, just substitute brown rice penne for regular or whole wheat penne. Looking for another gluten free recipe by Chef Fabrio? Check out his recipe for Flank Steak With Chickpea Arugula Salad.

Watch Chef Fabrio preparing Gorgonzola Radicchio Penne below:

Gorgonzola Radicchio Penne

Recipe courtesy of Chef Fabio Viviani and Bertolli Olive Oil

Serves: 8

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 8 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon Bertolli® Classico™ Olive Oil
  • 3 cups chopped radicchio
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound penne, cooked and drained (reserve 1/2 cup pasta water)
  • 2 tablespoon Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoon Bertolli® Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese


  1. Heat Bertolli Classico Olive Oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook garlic 1 minute.
  2. Add radicchio and cook 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in cooked penne, reserved pasta water, Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Bertolli Balsamic Vinegar and cook until pasta is heated through.
  4. Stir in Gorgonzola cheese and cook until melted.
  5. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad from Laa Loosh

Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad

Are you familiar with Laa Loosh? Whether you’re an aficionado of Weight Watchers or healthy recipe blogs, check it out - along with an interview with yours truly that is!

Along with the interview, Laa Loosh and I did a recipe exchange. They’ve featured my adaptation of Hugh Acheson’s A New Turn in the South, Saffron Braised Celery and Grilled Fish with Hot Sauce Buerre Blanc. In return, today I’m featuring this healthy and colorful Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad, which would be a wonderful Meatless Monday meal. You can also use this as a side dish or bring it to a potluck party.

To make this nut free, use sunflower butter instead of peanut butter. (This will change the nutritional information, however.) To make the quinoa salad gluten free, make sure to use low sodium tamari sauce instead of soy sauce. No honey in the house? Try agave nectar, sorghum or even some real maple or brown rice syrup.

Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad

Recipe by Laa Loosh

Servings: 8 (serving size 3/4 cup)


  • 1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package directions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 cup green onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup Better’n Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together Better’n Peanut Butter, sesame oil, lime juice, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and salt and pepper.
  3. Once quinoa has come to room temperature, add all the vegetables. Pour dressing over top and toss to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Nutritional information: 177 calories; 4.5g fat; 24g carbohydrates; 8g protein; 4g protein. Each serving = 4 Points+

Recipe and photograph used with permission.

Meatless Monday: Multigrain Spaghetti with Basil Kale Pesto #meatlessmonday

Multigrain Spaghetti with Basil Kale Pesto #meatlessmondayEven though we have lots of herbs growing in our garden, I’m still enjoying cooking with my tubes of Gourmet Garden Herbs and Spices. (You can read my Gourmet Garden review here.) This recipe from the folks at Gourmet Garden is perfect for Meatless Monday, especially since it gets a boost of vegetarian protein from the raw almonds and lots of veggie goodness from the kale and basil. If you have a food sensitivity or allergy to almonds, use pine nuts instead. 

Multigrain Spaghetti with Basil Kale Pesto

Recipe from Gourmet Garden

Serves 6


  • 3/4 pound kale, stemmed, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1 tube Gourmet Garden Basil
  • 2 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounce multigrain spaghetti


  1. Bring large pot of water to boil. Submerge all kale in boiling water, stirring until bright green but still crisp for 60-90 seconds. Drain kale, and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Squeeze dry.
  2. In blender or food processor combine kale, almonds, Gourmet Garden Basil, Gourmet Garden Garlic, oil and water. Blend until smooth. Add cheese. Blend. Add more water, if necessary, to reach desired consistency.
  3. Cook 8 ounces of multigrain spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. Toss immediately with 3/4 cup basil kale pesto. Serve immediately.
  4. Reserve remaining pesto for another use. Pesto will keep in an airtight container in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Can be frozen for up to 6 months. Makes 1-1/2 cups

Nutritional information

  • Calories 359
  • Total Fat 17 g
  • Sat Fat 2 g
  • Cholesterol 2 mg
  • Sodium 599 mg
  • Fiber 10 g
  • Carbs 40 g
  • Protein 11 g

Recipe and picture used with permission.

Meatless Monday: The Passionate Vegetable cookbook review and a recipe for California Fiesta Quinoa Salad #meatlessmonday #glutenfree

California Fiesta Quinoa Salad from The Passionate Vegetable cookbook

Has your family participated in Meatless Monday yet? Maybe you’re reluctant to because someone in your family thinks veggies are yucky. Or maybe you’re just perplexed on how to cook up a vegetarian dish that’s filling and will be liked by all family members. That’s why you have to check out the new cookbook by Suzanne Landry, The Passionate Vegetable. Her health inspired recipes  promise to revitalize your life whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat lover.

You can tell that Suzanne is a health educator, because The Passionate Vegetable is as educational as it is inspirational. The cookbook includes a simple guide to food nutrition, suggestions for healthy vegetarian meals, transition recipes for the meat lover (love this!), and a guide to remaking your pantry to be healthier and vegetarian friendly. The Passionate Vegetable contains over 145 recipes including breakfasts, salads, soups, grains and bean dishes, and entries, as well as a chapter devoted to meat and healthy treats and desserts. It also features fantastic food photography for some but not all her recipes, unfortunately. Recipes I’m looking forward to making include Ratatouille over Spaghetti Squash and Roasted Fresh Figs with Goat Cheese.

Summer salads

With the weather getting warmer, I’m on the lookout for recipes that require a minimum of cooking and are more on the light side. This recipe from The Passionate Vegetable for California Fiesta Quinoa Salad fits the bill, since you can make it ahead of time in the morning when it’s cooler. Quinoa makes a terrific main dish since it’s an excellent source of vegetarian protein and it’s gluten free. Suzanne suggests adding leftover quinoa salad to scrambled eggs – just before the eggs set hard, add 1/4 cup and give it a stir. She likes this egg and quinoa salad dish for breakfast, but you could make it for lunch or dinner, too!

California Fiesta Quinoa Salad

Recipe from The Passionate Vegetable by Suzanne Landry from Health Inspired Publishing

Serves 6

Salad ingredients:The Passionate Vegetable

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4  teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4  cup tomato, chopped (1 medium tomato)
  • 1/4 cup celery, chopped (1 stalk)
  • 1/2  cup cucumber, seeded and chopped (1 medium cucumber)
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped (4 scallions)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn, blanched
  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup black olives, pitted and diced (Kalamata are the best!)

Dressing ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1   teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 2   tablespoon red wine vinegar or 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon sea salt


  • Boil 2 cups water and add salt. Thoroughly rinse quinoa in strainer. Place in boiling water, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 minutes or until grain is fluffed and water is absorbed.  Remove from pot into a large bowl and allow to cool before adding vegetables.
  • Slice tomatoes into 1/2-inch slabs and remove most of the seeds.  Then cut tomatoes into sticks and crosswise into ½-inch cubes.  This will give you evenly sized tomato pieces that won’t get mushy if the salad isn’t eaten right away.
  • Cut celery by slicing down the rib in the center of the stalk. If the stalk is large you might want to cut it in thirds. Then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Slice cucumber lengthwise into 4 strips and then remove center seeds. Chop these strips into 1/2-inch pieces. Remove root ends of scallions and cross chop into 1/4-inch pieces. Toss cooled quinoa with all remaining vegetables, beans, and olives.
  • Mix vinegar, oil, hot pepper flakes, and salt together.  Toss lightly with salad.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving.  This will last 5 days in the refrigerator.

Recipe and picture used with permission.

Cookbook Week cont’d: Teen Cuisine New Vegetarian and a #MeatlessMonday recipe for Bite-Me Chili

Cookbook Week cont’d: Teen Cuisine New Vegetarian So much for Cookbook Week being only one week. Between Spring Break and more cookbooks arriving at my door, I didn’t have a chance to get to more than last week’s Food: Vegetarian Home Cooking and  Homemade with Love reviews. My apologies!

Let’s start this week off with a cookbook that was sent for me to review that’s perfect for all of you with vegetarian teens or kids who want the family to participate more in Meatless Monday. It’s Teen Cuisine: New Vegetarian, a finalist for the 2013 International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award in the Children’s, Youth and Family category.

Teen Cuisine: New Vegetarian features 50 delicious recipes arranged into chapters such as “Smart Starts,” “Party Hearty,” “Bowl Me Over” and “Just Desserts.” There’s even a special sushi section along with an “And On the Side” chapter on pickles, relish and other homemade condiments. The recipe format is perfect for those new to the kitchen, since each recipe features step-by-step instructions in a On Your Mark, Get Set, and Cook! format. Each recipe also features helpful tips and gorgeous photographs. This would be a wonderful cookbook to give someone as a high school graduation gift or as a way to keep them busy in the kitchen during summer break.

Here’s a sample of one of the recipes from Teen Cuisine: New Vegetarian. I’ve included the original formatting so you can see how recipes are laid out.

A #MeatlessMonday recipe for Bite-Me Chili from Teen Cuisine New Vegetarian

Bite-Me Chili

Vegetarian or Vegan

A bowl of chili is a thing of beauty. So what’s wrong with a triple dose of heat in your chili? This recipe combines three types of chilies into one big bite of zippy flavor and satisfying chili goodness. Read the chef’s tip below to find out how to adjust the heat level.

Serves 4

  • 1 pound tempeh, any flavor
  • 1 medium-size white onion
  • 5 to 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 to 6 sprigs cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno or Serrano chilies
  • 1 to 3 dried Ancho, negro, or Pasilla chilies, depending on taste
  • 1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted or regular chopped tomatoes
  • 1 10-ounce can Ro*Tel brand diced
  • tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1 15.5-ounce can red pinto, great Northern, or black beans
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive or safflower oil
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped mild, medium, or hot green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup water, plus more as needed

Chili Fixings

  • Chopped scallions
  • Chopped white or red onions
  • Cheddar cheese or vegan cheddar, grated
  • Monterey Jack or vegan Jack cheese, grated
  • Sour cream or vegan sour cream
  • Plain whole-milk yogurt or soy yogurt

On your mark . . .

  • Cut the tempeh into medium-size pieces and put into a 2-quart saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  • Peel the onion, chop into medium dice, measure out 1 cup, and set aside.
  • Wash the parsley and cilantro, shake off any excess water, and dry by rolling in paper towels. Remove the leaves and discard the stems. Coarsely chop the parsley and cilantro together and set aside.
  • Slightly crush the garlic by laying the flat side of a chef’s knife on the clove and pressing firmly to break open the skin. Remove the skin, cut off the root end, and discard. Coarsely chop the garlic and set aside.
  • Slip on a pair of latex kitchen gloves. Remove the stem from the fresh chilies and cut in half lengthwise. Rinse under cold water and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a spoon. If you like the chili a bit hotter, leave in the seeds. Chop into small pieces and set aside. Rinse, dry, and remove the gloves.

Get set . . .

  • Break the stem from the dried chilies and discard. Shake out any seeds, tear the chilies into small pieces, and place in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup hot water and set aside to soften. Wash your hands.
  • Combine the tomatoes, including the liquid, and the tomato-and-green chili combination. Measure out 3 cups and set aside.
  • Drain the canned beans in a hand strainer or colander. Rinse under cold water and set aside to drain.
  • Coarsely chop the tempeh and set aside.


  • Drain the dried chilies in a hand strainer or colander and pat dry.
  • Heat the oil in a 4- to 6-quart pot (with lid) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.
  • Add the onion and dried chilies and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic, tempeh, canned green chilies, chopped fresh chilies, chili powder, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, if using, and the chopped parsley and cilantro. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until the tempeh has browned.
  • Add the 3 cups tomato mixture, beans, and water. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid slightly ajar.
  • Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add water if the chili becomes too thick, but avoid making it soupy. Taste the chili and correct the seasoning.
  • Serve hot, passing the scallions, onions, grated cheeses, sour cream, and yogurt on the side.

Chef’s Tip

  • If you like your chili very hot, use the full amount of cayenne pepper listed. You can reduce the heat to a less fiery level by omitting it altogether.

Pictures and recipes used with permission.

Meatless Monday: Tofu Chili #vegan #glutenfree

Meatless Monday: Tofu Chili #vegan #glutenfree

Between the finches visiting our bird feeders and the trees starting to blossom, spring is certainly in the air here in northeastern Georgia. We’ve even managed to eat a couple of dinners outside on the deck, though we had to wear light jackets and sweaters. Even though it’s warming up, there’s never a bad time for a hot bowl of chili, especially on Meatless Mondays when you can substitute healthy tofu and beans for ground turkey or beef.

This vegan chili recipe from the folks at House Foods is high in protein and low in fat. With the extra vitamin C from the chili pods and the capsaicin revving up your metabolism, House Foods’ Tofu Chili is packed with both flavor and health benefits. House Foods Premium Tofu is non-GMO verified, made from certified organic soybeans grown in the US, kosher-verified and gluten free.

While great on its own, try serving the tofu chili on brown rice or quinoa.

Tofu Chili

Recipe by House Foods


  • 1 package House Foods Tofu Extra Firm, drained and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (1 large clove)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1  16-ounce can kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can low sodium tomato sauce
  • dash paprika


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender. 
  2. Add vegetable broth, bell pepper, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and kidney beans, stirring to combine.
  3. Add tomato sauce and simmer for about 30 minutes or until kidney beans and peppers are cooked through.
  4. Add cubed tofu and cook additional minute or two.  Serve and enjoy!

Recipe and photo provided by House Foods and used with permission.

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce

Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Making pasta is a bit of an ordeal of my house, since I have to make regular whole wheat pasta as well as gluten free pasta. It’s made even more difficult because I have a 20-year-old Jenn Air range with only two working electric burners and two grill-like burners that take forever to heat up. This means I have to make the pasta first, then put it aside while I make the sauce. Then I have to reheat the pasta before serving. Needless to say, I can’t wait until we have enough money saved to do our kitchen remodel.

Even so, this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment was enticing enough to deal with the inconvenience. I chose Melissa from Smell’s Like Brownies’ recipe for Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce for several reasons. First, it’s a terrific Meatless Monday dish, even if my husband thought I should have added some sausage to it. (Not a bad idea, frankly.) And second, because my daughter, Lucie, loves cauliflower.

Changes  to the recipe and cooking tips

Changes: I didn’t change up too much in this dish, except for the way I cooked it. For example, I minded and left it in the pan instead of crushing the cloves and removing them later. I also partially cooked the cauliflower  then added the onion and cooking both together instead of cooking them separately.

How to cut cauliflower: I don’t like tossing the cauliflower stems and just using the florets as it seems such a waste. Instead, I slice the cauliflower head into 1 inch slices, then break them apart with my hands into bite sized pieces. Yes, there’s a mixture of pretty and not-so-pretty pieces of cauliflower, but it all tastes good to me!

About the type of cheese: Any freshly grated Romano style cheese is perfect with this dish. I used a Romano-Pecorino cheese from Trader Joe’s that’s very tasty, so feel free to experiment!

Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

The convenience of Gourmet Garden herbs: Instead of fresh parsley, I used Gourmet Garden parsley instead. I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with Gourmet Garden’s products, and love the convenience of squeezing out just enough for a recipe without having to buy a whole bunch of herbs. There’s nothing worse than throwing rotten parsley into the compost bin because you didn’t have another use for it before it went bad. If you wish, use the same amount of fresh parsley instead.

Serving the sauce: Since I made two kinds of pasta, I served the sauce on top of it instead of dumping all the pasta into the sauce pot. This also is a better way to do things if you plan to have leftovers as the sauce will soften the pasta, so by the time you reheat it, it’s sort of mushy.

Salt your water: Finally, don’t forget to liberally salt your pasta cooking water. In my opinion, this practically eliminates the need to add extra salt to your pasta sauce.

Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce

Adapted from Smells Like Brownies adaption of the recipe from The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles


  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1 pound whole wheat or gluten free spaghetti
  • 1/2 to 1 cup freshly grated Romano-Pecorino cheese


  1. Start cooking the pasta according to package directions while you make the sauce. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet.
  3. Add the cauliflower and minced garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the sliced onion to the pan and cook until golden brown – about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and red pepper to the onion and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Then stir in the parsley and 1/4 cup of the grated cheese.
  7. Place one serving of pasta in a bowl or plate and liberally top with sauce. Serve immediately with extra cheese and crushed red pepper.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1/4 of recipe

More from the Secret Recipe Club!

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Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Gourmet Garden provided me with samples of their products to try out in my cooking. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Meatless Monday: Tofu and Green Bean Stir Fry #meatlessmonday #glutenfree

Tofu and Green BeansThis week’s Meatless Monday post comes to you courtesy of San-J and Carol Kicinski, renowned chef, food writer and gluten free blogger at Simply…Gluten Free. Carol created a quick and easy weeknight dish that only uses six nutritious ingredients, which you can use as either a main or a side dish.

I always have a bottle of San-J Gluten-Free Tamari in my cupboard, which I substitute for regular soy sauce. San-J also sells an organic version, which I like even better. Both versions have a low sodium variety as well – love how San-J gives us lots of choices!

Tofu and Green Beans

Tofu and Green Bean Stir Fry

by Carol Kicinski of Simply…Gluten Free


  • 1/4 cup San-J Gluten-Free Tamari
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free sweet chili garlic sauce
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons oil, use divided
  • 1 pound green beans, cleaned trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces


  1. Combine the San-J Gluten-Free Tamari with the chili garlic sauce, set aside.
  2. Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes, pat dry with paper towels and put into a mixing bowl with the cornstarch, toss to coat.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat until it starts to shimmer, add half the tofu in an even layer in the pan. Cook the tofu undisturbed for 2 minutes. Gently flip and stir the tofu. Continue to cook and stir until the tofu is lightly golden brown on all sides, 3 - 4 minutes. Remove the tofu to a plate and set aside. Heat 1 more tablespoon of oil in the pan and cook the remaining tofu the same way. Remove from pan.
  4. Reduce heat to medium; add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the green beans. Cook the green beans, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of water and continue to cook the beans for 3 minutes or until they are bright green and crisp tender. Increase the heat back up to high, add the reserved sauce mixture and boil for 1 minute or until it reduces slightly.
  5. Add the tofu and cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 25 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side dish
  • Serving size: 1/r4 to 1/6 of recipe

Recipe and photo used with permission.

Disclosure: San-J recently sent me samples of their gluten free products to try out. All experiences and opinions are my own.

Curried Sweet Potato & Fig Yogurt Soup

Sweet Potato & Fig Yogurt Soup at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

I’m a big fan of Greek yogurt as a healthy substitute for sour cream, so when the folks at Voskos challenged me to create a recipe using one of their yogurts, I couldn’t resist. However, since they have so many flavored Greek yogurts, why not give one of those a try? I love figs, so finding something to use their Exotic Fig Greek Yogurt in was my priority.

While figs are a Greek classic, I know several people here in Georgia who have fig trees in their yards. So it’s not too hard for me to find fresh as well as dried figs at the grocery store. Figs are rich in minerals and packed with potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. I love using slices of fig on goat cheese pizza or just enjoy them as a healthy snack.

Figs in soup?

After checking out the recipes on the Voskos website and inspired by the cool weather, I thought a soup recipe was in order. I love butternut squash soup, but thought sweet potatoes would go better with fig. After consulting a few cookbooks, I found a recipe in the The Yogurt Bible for Curried Sweet Potato Soup that reminded me of another butternut squash soup I make with curry. I liked how the recipe also combined the yogurt with coconut milk, too.

However, I made a few changes. Instead of carrots, I used parsnips. Last Thanksgiving, my son fell in love with the smell and taste of parsnips after I made him peel five pounds of it! (Lucky for me, eh?) Parsnips also remind me of my mom’s chicken soup as she always used parsnips along with carrots and a lot of fresh dill in hers. Any chance to use parsnips makes me happy!

Another change was to use dried figs instead of raisins to bring more figgy goodness into the recipe. Finally, I healthed up my soup recipe by using Voskos Exotic Fig Greek Yogurt, which is non-fat, along with light coconut milk. I also used a low sodium vegetable broth.

Marking Curried Sweet Potato & Fig Yogurt Soup

Variations: If you’re not a fan of curry, substitute a tablespoon of Herbes de Provence instead. If you don’t like coconut milk, you could use non-fat evaporated milk as a substitute.

Meatless Monday serving suggestion: Serve soup along with some whole grain rustic style bread and a salad. For dessert, try some dried figs along with slices of goat’s milk cheese. (My favorite is Drunken Goat from Spain.)

Sweet Potato & Fig Yogurt Soup at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Curried Sweet Potato & Fig Yogurt Soup

Inspired by a recipe from The Yogurt Bible


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup dried figs, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 (14 ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1 1 (5.3 ounce) container Voskos Exotic Fig Greek Yogurt


  1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and curry powder and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to be translucent.
  2. Add sweet potatoes and parsnips to the pot. Stirring constantly, cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add vegetable broth to the pot and increase the heat to medium high. Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer with lid on, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
  5. Add figs and salt to the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes or until all vegetables are soft.
  6. Remove saucepan from heat. Using a potato masher, roughly mash the vegetables. (If you want a smoother soup, use an immersion hand blender.)
  7. Stir in coconut milk and Greek yogurt.
  8. Return saucepan to stove on medium heat and heat soup through. Do NOT let the soup boil!
  9. Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: Makes 4 to 6 servings
  • Serving size: 1/4 to 1/6 of recipe

Disclosure: I was sent product samples and was compensated by Voskos for recipe development and photography. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Curried Sweet Potato Apple Soup

Curried Sweet Potato Apple Soup at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comWhile I recover from shoulder surgery over the next couple of weeks (and then some), I’d like to share a few terrific fall recipes the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission sent me. As the chill of autumn starts to settle in, nothing hits the spot like a nice, warm bowl of soup!

Easy to freeze for later or to serve family style, this naturally sweet soup made with nutrient-packed sweet potatoes is a hearty and healthy way to welcome the changing weather.

You can connect with the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission on Facebook, on Twitter @Sweet_Taters and on their blog.

Tip: leave out the croutons if you're gluten free. Or make homemade croutons from gluten free bread!

Curried Sweet Potato Apple Soup at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Curried Sweet Potato Apple Soup


  • 2 large (1 pound) sweet potatoes
  • 1 large (8 ounces) tart apple (such as fuji, honeycrisp, or gala)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 can (14 to 14-1/2 ounces) vegetable broth (about 1-3/4 cups)
  • 1 3/4 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 container (6 ounces) plain low-fat yogurt
  • 3/4 cups croutons, optional


  1. Pierce sweet potatoes and apple with fork tines. Microwave sweet potatoes and apple on high until apple is very tender, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  2. Remove apple; set aside until cool enough to handle.
  3. Continue cooking sweet potatoes on high under tender, about 4 to 5 more minutes Set aside until cool enough to handle.
  4. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and curry powder; stir until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer broth mixture to a food processor; reserve saucepan.
  7. Halve sweet potatoes and apple. Remove apple core. Scoop sweet potato and apple pulp from skin and add to food processor. Add salt; whirl until smooth, gradually adding apple juice through processor feed tube.
  8. Transfer mixture to reserved saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; whisk in yogurt. Reheat just until hot (do not boil).
  9. Serve soup topped with croutons, if desired.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes
Servings: Makes 4 servings
  • Serving size: 1 1/3 cups

Recipe and photograph used with permission from the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission.