I am not going to lie….our Meatless Monday dinner was AWESOME tonight!  I love when healthy meals turn out really, really GOOD!  It is a Southwestern (and vegetarian) spin on classic stuffed peppers.

Some food for thought – bell peppers are the #3 most pesticide contaminated produce on the Environmental Working Group’s Shopping Guide to Pesticides in Produce, with up to 15 different pesticides found on a single pepper.   If you are looking to reduce your exposure to the toxins in pesticides, you can refer to the list of the “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables, and try to buy these fruits and vegetables organically grown, if possible.

Start with some bell peppers (we prefer the red, yellow, or orange for this dish).  Cut the stem out of the center and remove  the seeds and membranes inside.

red pepper

I prefer to serve pepper halves so I sliced each pepper in half from the top down.

pepper halves

In a large stock pot, boil the peppers for 5 minutes.  This will ensure that they are perfectly done, and not “crunchy” after baking.  When peppers are done, remove from water with tongs and place into 9 X 12 casserole dish.  Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt.

pepper halves in pan

Chop 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, and a jalapeno.

chopped ingredients

In a large skillet, saute onion, garlic, and jalapeno in 2 tsp. of olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, until veggies are softened.

sauteed onions


Add in 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes, 2 cups cooked rice, 1 cup of frozen corn, 1 1/2 cups of cooked lentils, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1/8 tsp. of ground chipotle pepper, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Mix well and let simmer for 5 minutes.

rice mixture


Scoop rice mixture into peppers.  This amount of rice would fit nicely into 4 whole peppers (8 halves) but I knew 3 peppers would be plenty for us.  Any leftover rice can be baked separately in a small dish.

Top each stuffed pepper with a couple of tablespoons of shredded jalapeno pepperjack cheese and crushed tortilla chips.

stuffed peppers with cheese

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.  Serve with guacamole and extra chips on the side.

southwestern stuffed peppers


Southwestern Stuffed Peppers


3-4 bell peppers (we prefer red, yellow, or orange)

1 cup rice (cooked according to directions on package, yielding appx. 2 cups)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced (or substitute mild green chilies)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup frozen corn

1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (I buy them pre-cooked at Trader Joes.  I believe you can also buy them canned similar to beans)

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder

Topping Ingredients

1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese

crushed tortilla chips

“quick guacamole” (1 mashed avocado with a squeeze of lime and pinch of salt)



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook rice and lentils as necessary.

Bring large stockpot full of water to boil.

Remove stems, seeds, and membranes from peppers.  Slice in half vertically if desired.

Boil peppers for 5 minutes.  Remove with tongs and place into a 9 X 12 casserole dish.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Heat 2 tsp. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (being careful not to let it smoke).  Saute chopped onion, jalapeno (or green chilies), and garlic for 5 minutes, until softened.

Add into skillet 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes, 2 cups cooked rice, 1 cup frozen corn, 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/8 tsp. chipotle chili powder.  Mix well and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Stuff pepper halves with rice mixture.  Top with 2 T. shredded pepperjack cheese and some crushed tortilla chips.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

Serve with simple guacamole and additional chips, if desired.






Did anyone else have lots of yummy party food for the Superbowl yesterday???

This football-obsessed household loves having an excuse to make some of our favorite tailgating recipes and party appetizers!  In honor of the game being held in New Orleans, of course we had to make Gumbo (using organic chicken andouille sausage and amped up with lots of spicy creole seasoning), along with Caesar salad (dressing made with Vegenaise soy-free mayo and minus the anchovy paste), and soft pretzel bites with beer cheese dip (made with a local IPA and ground horseradish instead of jalapenos).  Darren also made some buffalo wings for himself with a homemade spicy garlic wing sauce (hmmm….maybe after reading my post about the sketchy ingredients in wing sauce???)

Anyway, it was a fun and relaxing family day around here filled with lots of yummy food.  I am such a sucker for salty snacks and good appetizers so I think the pretzel bites did me in!


As much fun as it is to indulge in a special meal every once in awhile, I know that I need to get back on track right away with a day of clean eating afterwards.

Today will be filled with lots of green juice for breakfast (this one has kale, romaine, celery, cucumber, an apple, a baby clementine, a squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon of spirulina)

green juice with spirulina

A huge salad for lunch (romaine with lots of veggies and tahini/lemon/cayenne dressing just like this one)

romaine with tahini dressing

Fruits and Veggies for snacks


Add in a good workout, loads of water, and a Meatless Monday dinner and I will be right back on track.  This recipe comes from Peas and Thank You, one of my favorite sources for kid-friendly vegan and vegetarian recipes.

Starting line-up of antioxidant, protein, and fiber packed ingredients including veggies, beans, and tempeh.  If you are not familiar with tempeh, it is a fermented soy product native to Indonesia.  It has a nutty flavor and is versatile for vegetarian cooking.  It is generally found in the refrigerated section of the produce department near the sprouts and tofu.  This is a great recipe to try it out since it is crumbled up into the chili mixture.



Chop pepper, onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until soft, about 4-5 minutes.


Meanwhile, grate tempeh with a cheese grater into uniformly-size crumbly pieces.

Grated Tempeh_opt

Add tempeh and 3 tablespoons of water and cook tempeh for another 5 minutes.



Add spices, tomato sauce and beans let this simmer for about 5 minutes to allow flavors to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix liquid ingredients together in a glass measuring cup and add to dry.  Stir until just combined and add in corn.  Forget to take pictures……

Spray a 2-quart baking dish with olive oil and add veggie/bean/tempeh mixture.  Top with cornbread mixture and bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Tempeh Tamale Pie


Top individual servings with sour cream, guacamole, and/or chopped cilantro.


Tempeh Tamale Pie

Adapted from Peas and Thank You

Ingredients for the filling:

1 medium onion or 1/2 of a large onion, chopped

1 cup red or green pepper (or combination of both), chopped

1 8 oz. package tempeh, crumbled

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt (I used a little more since my tomato sauce had No Salt Added)

1 tsp maple syrup

1 14 oz. can tomato sauce (organic and BPA-free if possible!)

1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed


Ingredients for the crust:

2/3 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup flour (regular, whole wheat pastry, or gluten-free alternative)

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup non-dairy or organic milk

2 T. unsweetened applesauce (or substitute melted coconut oil, grassfed butter, or olive oil)

1 T. maple syrup

1 cup frozen corn (I prefer organic, non-GMO corn)


Optional Toppings:

1/2 cup grated cheese to add to top of cornbread before baking, sour cream, chopped cilantro, guacamole, olives, etc.



  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place a large skillet over medium high heat and spray with olive oil or non-stick spray. Add onion, peppers, and garlic and sauté until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Grate or crumble tempeh and add to the pan with the sautéed vegetables.  Add 3 T. water to help steam tempeh.  Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  • To the pan, add chili powder, ground cumin, salt,  maple syrup, tomato sauce and beans.
  • Allow bean mixture to simmer for a few minutes to combine flavors. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lightly coated with oil and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a glass measuring cup, combine milk, maple syrup and applesauce.
  • Add wet ingredients to the cornmeal mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Gently fold in the defrosted corn.
  • Spread corn mixture carefully and evenly over the top of the casserole dish.
  • If using, top the casserole with shredded cheese.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until crust is set and starting to brown.
  • Serve with desired toppings.

This was the third time I’ve made this casserole and overall it was pretty good.  The filling was tasty but could potentially have a little more flavor with the addition of some fire roasted tomatoes.  I am definitely going to experiment with a variation on the cornbread topping next time to get more of a traditional cornbread top – this was just a bit flat and grainy for my tastes.  I’m thinking of switching to unbleached all purpose flour and coconut oil or grassfed butter instead of the applesauce.  But this was good for a cleaned up and dairy-free/meatless version of the classic tamale pie to end my day of back-on-track clean eating.








“One of the greatest opportunities to live our values – or betray them – lies in the food we put on our plates”     -Jonathan Saffran Foer, Eating Animals


Ever since reading books like “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “Eating Animals” and seeing the movie “Forks Over Knives“, I have made an effort to limit my consumption of animal products including meat, fish, dairy and eggs.  This isn’t to say that I don’t eat these things.  I just try to limit them in my diet.  I think there are so many compelling reasons to cut back on meat consumption.  For me, these include the global and environmental impact of factory farming, the painful truth about the conditions in which the animals are raised and slaughtered, and the health implications of consuming animal protein.  While I was trying to make sense of the information that I was learning, I thought the answer was to purchase organic or farm-raised meat and dairy.  But after reading The China Study and seeing the documentary “Forks Over Knives”, I learned that degenerative diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and some forms of cancer have all been linked to the consumption of animal protein, some of which can be reversed through a plant-based diet.   Seeing as how these diseases run in my family, I made the decision to start experimenting with more plant-based recipes and make a concerted effort to cut back on animal protein.

For our family, a flexitarian approach works best.  My husband prefers to eat a higher protein diet and our kids don’t care for meat very much – either way, I would never force anyone to change or eat something they don’t want. I tried to cut out all meat completely for a couple of years, but in the end it was just too much trying to cook different meals to please everyone.  I could take a simple classic like Broccoli, Cheese, and Chicken Casserole and spend an hour and a half making it three different ways: traditional style with a homemade soup base (no canned soups for us!) with the chicken and cheese, some without the chicken, and mine with a cashew “cheeze” sauce and no chicken.  It just couldn’t go on that way every night for dinner!  I also wasn’t happy with the amount of mock-meat substitutes that I was relying on in order to feed everyone a similar dinner.  Therefore I have tried to simplify our meals by cooking a couple of vegetarian meals a week and include some meat the rest of the week for each person to choose whether or not they want to include it.

This is a decision that I am very much at peace with now.  Most days, I eat vegetarian or vegan until dinner.  When we do include animal protein, I try to buy the most humanely raised meat, eggs and dairy that I can reasonably locate and can afford.   I feel like it has brought a little bit of balance back to my diet and I am a much more sane and happy person when it comes time to make dinner.

Tonights dinner was a new-to-us vegetarian recipe that was cut out of the newspaper by my husband.  I always try to make any vegetarian recipes he suggests since he is the most apprehensive about meatless dishes.  This one was a veggie burger from “The Meat-Free Monday Cookbook” by Paul McCartney and his daughters, Stella and Mary.  It had great “meaty” flavor and just a hint of spice and held together very well compared to other veggie burger recipes I’ve made.  Even my kids gave it the thumbs up.  That is a winner in my book!

chickpea, cheese and onion veggie burger

Chickpea, Cheese & Onion Burgers

Adapted from “The Meat-Free Monday Cookbook”

3 T. olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I probably used closer to 1/8 tsp)

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (I use the pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joes)

1 T. tahini

2 T. fresh parsley, chopped

1 egg, beaten

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (see directions below)

1 1/2 cups swiss cheese, shredded

1/2 tsp. salt

Flour, for dusting


For fresh breadcrumbs, toast 4 slices of Ezekial sprouted grain bread.  Pulse in a food processor until breadcrumb consistency and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook over  medium heat until tender. Add garlic, cumin and cayenne, and  cook 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

Put lentils and chickpeas into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until  coarsely chopped. Add onion mixture, tahini and parsley, and pulse again until  combined and nearly smooth. Spoon into a large bowl and add egg, breadcrumbs and  cheese. Mix using your hands and add salt and pepper. Shape into patties and  lightly dust with flour.

Heat remaining oil in a large skillet (I used my cast iron which gave them a nice “crust” on the outside). Place burgers in pan cook until  golden on both sides (about 5 minutes per side).

chickpea, cheese and onion veggie burger






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