Chunky BBQ Portobello Burgers

Chunky Portabella Burgers

Chunky Portobello Burgers

I was really excited to make these because there’s something so craveble about a burger and I love mushrooms in pretty much everything. The meaty taste of portobellos is perfect to make in a burger because it makes a substantial burger and has great flavor. I found a recipe on Pinterest for these and changed it around to omit oil, steak sauce, and  animal products (eggs and cheese). It turned out to be delicious and Josh kept telling me how good they were while he was eating. I used flax eggs to replace the eggs, nutritional yeast to replace cheese, and baked them to omit oil. We don’t have steak sauce so I added in BBQ sauce to give it a smokey flavor. I also added more mushrooms than recommended for more texture.

Anything that has to be held together to make a burger patty or meatball has been one of my hardest vegan adaptions because most of the time they don’t hold together or they’re way too mushy even after they’re cooked. When I find something that has a good texture when finished, I run with it. I tried several different things than the recipe told me to while making these and they turned out to be tasty.

I like my burgers to have a crunchy outside and tender inside, but I wanted them completely cooked through so they weren’t mushy so I started them off in the oven on 400* on parchment and then finished them on a grill pan to add a little more texture. The ciabatta roll was the perfect vessel for these because the nooks and crannies were stuffed with avocado and BBQ sauce and the bread was soft on the inside and toasty on the outside. YUM!

Chunky Portobello Burgers

3 portobello caps, cleaned and gills removed, chopped in small pieces

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, separated

1/2 cup breadcrumbs, the Kroger gluten free Italian are vegan

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2-3 tbsp BBQ sauce, I used Organic Brown Sugar BBQ sauce from TJ’s *no oil*

1 cup broccoli, diced

3 flax eggs (3 tbsp ground flax seeds, 7 tbsp water, mixed and set aside)

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire

salt and pepper to taste

Toppings- I used a toasted ciabatta roll from TJ’s, avocado, BBQ sauce, and lettuce with a side of roasted asparagus.

  1. Preheat oven to 400* and chop up veggies.
  2. Make flax eggs by mixing flaxseed and water then set aside to gel.
  3. Add one can of rinsed beans to your food processor and pulse until semi-smooth. Add in the chopped broccoli and onion and pulse until combined.
  4. In a large bowl, combine bean mixture, leftover beans from the can, chopped portobellos, garlic, nutritional yeast, flax eggs, Worcestershire, and breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Using 1/2 cup to scoop out the mixture, use wet hands to make 7 patties. Place on a parchment lined baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes.
  6. Take out to cool for a few minutes and then finish the patties on a hot grill pan to get more crunch.
  7. Serve and enjoy!
Chunky Portobello Burgers

Chunky Portobello Burgers

Hearty Lentil Dal

Lentil Dal

Lentil Dal

I think I’ve only ordered dal from an Indian restaurant once, so I don’t have much dal experience, but this tasted pretty great! I liked it because it had a good flavor, but wasn’t an overwhelming curry dish. I found a recipe of the McDougall website and found one on Pinterest and blended and changed them to make up my own version. It’s a very hearty soup/stew filled with protein packed lentils, chickpeas, and kale and has chunks of potatoes and tomatoes so it’s filling. It’s delicious by itself, or you can add a scoop of rice  to your bowl or a side of warm pita bread for dipping.

It looks like a long list of ingredients, but most are spices that you might already have in your pantry. I usually have all of these ingredients already in my kitchen so it’s a great recipe to have when you don’t feel like going to the grocery store. It was perfect for one of the last chilly nights of the season!

Hearty Lentil Dal

3 cups water

1/4 cup vegetable stock

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloved garlic, minced

1.5 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 cup split red lentils, dry

15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

14 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added

2 cups chopped yukon gold potatoes, diced

juice of half a lemon

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

3-4 cups chopped kale

  1. In a large soup pan, saute the onion and garlic in the vegetable stock over medium high heat until tender.
  2. Add spices to the pot and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add in the tomatoes, water, lentils, potatoes, and chickpeas and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, return to a simmer and let it cook on low for 45-50 minutes until it becomes a thick soup and the lentils have absorbed the water and potatoes are tender.
  5. Add in chopped kale and stir in on low heat until wilted.

Atlantis Veg-antures

IMG_1206.jpgAs still a semi-new vegan, travel is something I get a little anxious about food-wise. Atlantis has an option to call the chef’s office 2 weeks ahead of time to let them know of any dietary needs but I figured vegan is something that is getting common enough that they can make things work and I was right! With thousands of people milling around the resort each day, they did a better job accomadating me than the restaurants we went to in Florida which is saying something. I wanted to write a blog post about the vegan finds that I ate while in Atlantis and the restaurants we went to so that it may help anyone else who wants vegan travel advice.

Tip #1: I always look at menus before I go anywhere to see my options/how I can edit something to work. In this case, they have so many restaurants on property that I looked at the website to find as many menus as I could and wrote down a few restaurants that looked like they would be good options. You’ll have to make reservations far in advance.

Tip #2: Keep things simple. At home I try to make something different every night with different ingredients, but when away just get something that will fill you up and fits in your lifestyle. Of course you want to enjoy delicious and new things on vaca, and that happened, but sometimes it’s just a matter of what can work.

Tip #3: Tell the waiter or restaurant beforehand so they can help guide you in ordering something that can work for you. Most of the time they can come up with a solution to make an item vegan or create something new.

Tip #4: Don’t stress about it! At home you can eat exactly how you want and that’s your choice. I for one haven’t been eating oil when I cook at home, but I knew eating out at restaurants I was bound to eat oil in most everything I ordered. I asked a few places to go light on oil or asked if it could be made without it, and other times you just have to do it and know that it’s temporary and you can go back to eating exactly how you want when you get home. I didn’t want that to ruin my vacation!

We got to Atlantis late Wednesday night and we were ready to have something quick for dinner when we arrived. Most places were already closed, but we found Olives was still open so that’s where we went. I ordered a flatbread pizza with marinara and whatever veggies the chef wanted to add. The waitress asked the chef if it could be done and they said it could, and it was good! They added lots of spinach, chopped asparagus, garlic, and mushrooms. However, the Goombay Smash was not the drink I remembered and was way too sugary for my taste!


This was my typical breakfast for the few mornings we were there. We went back to Olives to have breakfast since we didn’t want to wait in a mile long line for Poseidon’s Table buffet. They had a big menu, but everything had meat and dairy so I ordered the Continental Breakfast with wheat toast and this beautiful fruit plate and a cup of hot tea. I put raspberry jelly on my toast and it kept me full til lunch!

The first day we explored the resort and found an awesome pool called The Coral Pool with a swim up bar and a DJ. We got the last chairs available and so we didn’t want to move, so we ordered lunch by the pool. Josh and I got the black bean burger topped with guacamole and vegetable chips. It was alright, nothing amazing but it kept us satisfied. Sorry, some food pictures did not get taken before I chowed down, but I tried to remember!


For dinner we went to Cafe D’Angelo for Italian. It was a really nice restaurant and as a starter they brought out fresh bruschetta and focaccia. YUM! I asked if they could make a dish with whole wheat penne, marinara, and vegetables and they did. It was filled with different varieties of mushrooms, broccolini, spinach, and peppers. It was one of the best things I ate there. IMG_1319.jpg

The next day we ate breakfast at Olives again so I had the same thing, then took a long walk around the property. It’s so well maintained, tropical, and gorgeous. There’s something to see wherever you are so it’s a lot to take in. It’s relaxing, but there’s also a ton to do if you want to stay busy.  We ate, took walks, went to the pool and beach, and did the casino thing at night.

That day for lunch we went to the Lagoon Bar and Grill that is located by the pool and I had a grilled vegetable sandwich and added avocado and mustard. I had some chips and a side salad with it. Again, it was okay, so we figured the lunches just weren’t going to match the nice places we went for dinner but it kept us full. IMG_1290.jpg

We went to Chopstix for dinner and the service was awful. We had edamame, vegetable dumplings (my TJ’s ones are better), but the wok-fired tofu udon was really good. I ordered it without the oyster sauce and they made a soy based sauce for it instead. IMG_1332.jpg

The next morning I wanted something different for breakfast so we tried Poseidon’s Table buffet. Luckily the line was short and it was a huge buffet with a lot to offer. I got a piece of raisin seed toast with jelly, grits (made with water), fruit, and home fries topped with spinach, mushrooms, and onions with guac and salsa.

For lunch we wanted to stay by the pool so we had a late salad. I ordered the grilled veggie chopped salad without cheese and got balsamic.


Good thing I got a light lunch before the best dinner of the week, or month..maybe year. Nobu is definitely well-known for a reason. We saved it for the last night and I’m so glad we did! It was so delicious and there was so much variety on the menu. I could order many items right off the menu and everything we got was fabulous. I got a cup of miso soup for my appetizer and then shared the mushroom sizzle plate, which was a pile of different kinds of mushrooms on a hot skillet tossed in a citrus soy sauce and topped with few grilled asparagus. It was packed with flavor and cooked to perfection.

I also got the hot dish of mixed vegetables in a garlic sauce and added tofu. It was beautiful and really tasty. Josh usually doesn’t enjoy tofu, but he really loved this dish. IMG_1417.jpg

It’s all served family style, so everyone can get what they want and everyone can try it out. For sushi, my family ordered the kinds they wanted and I got the vegetable roll. It was my least favorite item that I ordered because of the herb that was inside and we couldn’t tell what it was. I was disappointed because they’re known for their sushi, but everyone else LOVED theirs. I was already full from all of the other yummy things I ordered, so no big deal there. Overall, it was all of our favorite out of the restaurants we went to there.IMG_1420.jpg

This morning before we left we went to the buffet at Poseidon’s Table again because it’s SO much fast than Olives. We didn’t have time to waste before our car came, so it was a good way to get in and out. I had fruit, toast, and grits then had to say goodbye to a beautiful place!

After my frustration with my food during my last vacation, this proved to be a success. I was happy I could stay on track pretty easily and everyone was helpful. The service there is on Bahamas time (very slow) but the people are so nice and it’s an amazing place to stay. Hope everyone had a relaxing spring break! Back to reality tomorrow!

Now we’re home and even though I was tired I wanted to eat something homemade and healthy. I made lentils and rice with mushrooms in the rice cooker because it’s really easy and quick prep, but comforting and hearty. I decided I needed more veggies so I stirred in a few cups of baby spinach right as the rice was done so that it wilted right in. I also added a little more veggie stock so it was a little creamier than I usually make it.

Anniversary Japanese Feast

It was Josh and I’s 2nd anniversary on April 2nd so we celebrated the only way we know how- with food. We’re off to Atlantis this week so instead of going out to dinner to celebrate, we decided to stay in and have some of our favorites. This used to be our staple menu when we went to our local sushi restaurant, but since going vegan the pork dumplings and rainbow rolls aren’t options anymore so I wanted to recreate them at home. I used our “fancy” china that we’ve only used once before, our toasting glasses from our wedding, and made steamed edamame, vegetable gyozas, and vegetable sushi. I actually set the table, which is rare, and tried to make it as nice as possible.

As nice as it did look, it was really simple! The only thing I had to make myself was the sushi. I bought the frozen lightly salted steamed edamame and the frozen vegetable gyozas from Trader Joe’s so after a few minutes in the microwave the edamame was done and I dry pan fried them steamed the dumplings and served with soy and sweet chili sauce. I made avocado, cucumber, scallion, and mango rolls and avocado, cucumber, carrot, and spring mix rolls. I use short grain brown rice in my sushi and use seasoned rice vinegar to make it stick. Thanks to my cousin Allison for the prosecco! I really recommend this menu if you’re having a small dinner party because it’s easy to put together and looks really impressive. You get variety without a ton of effort.

Now off to Bahamas to try the best vegan food Atlantis has to offer! Next post will be my favorites from the resort!

Happy anniversary Joshy! 💕

Easter Goodies

Lentil Loaf and Roasted Potatoes

Lentil Loaf and Roasted Potatoes

Happy Easter everyone! Easter was an action packed day for us and we were invited to two different places for brunch and dinner. I love holidays and I love to make them feel special and different by going to these fun events. Spending the day with loved ones you don’t see very often makes it feel even more special. Eating often goes hand in hand with these events, which means there’s usually not much we can eat so instead of worrying about it, I make things to bring. This ensures we actually have something we know we can eat and it’s fun to share vegan dishes with others who don’t get a lot of exposure to vegan meals.

For breakfast I had a banana, raspberries, and Engine 2 oil free Blueberry Granola with a splash of almond milk. This is one of my new breakfast favorites that’s easy, healthy, and really tasty. You can get the Engine 2 products at Whole Foods.

Fruit, Engine 2 granola, and almond milk

Fruit, Engine 2 granola, and almond milk

For brunch, we went to our neighbors from growing up’s new house. We had the best upbringing in a great neighborhood and I had my best friends live on my street. We spent pretty much every day and weekend hanging out with our neighbor friends and have gone on countless vacations together. They’re really extended family and now we don’t get to see each other that often, so it’s really fun when we do get together. There was about 30 people there so I brought a big batch of spring pasta salad.

Spring Pasta Salad

Spring Pasta Salad

Spring Pasta Salad

2 lb farfalle (bowtie) pasta

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut on diagonal

2 crowns broccoli, cut small

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 sprigs fresh dill

4-5 basil leaves, torn

Fat free balsamic vinaigrette (oil free), Whole Foods

  1. Cook pasta al dente.
  2. Heat asparagus and broccoli in the microwave until just tender, more like a dry blanching. Go in 30 second increments because you want them to stay crisp.
  3. Combine pasta, veggies, chickpeas, herbs, and dressing and combine,
Lentil Loaf Cups

Lentil Loaf Cups

For dinner we went to my Grandma’s house with 30 more people, all family. I wanted to make lentil loaf because the texture is very similar to meatloaf, but it’s made from lentils and veggies. I’ve made this High Carb Hannah recipe before so I knew it was tasty, and this time I decided to make them in muffin tins because it’s easier to share. Also, there’s more of the crunchy crust that gives more texture and flavor. I topped with ketchup as a glaze and baked for the remaining 15 minutes. This recipe is already on my blog, so search HCH lentil loaf if you want the recipe! You can make it in the traditional loaf pan or these pre-portioned muffin cups. My dad was very proud of himself for eating a vegetarian meal for Easter, and my cousin said they were “lentilicious!” Also, I got a suggestion that they would be great with BBQ sauce, so feel free to mix and match the sauces that you prefer. I made 12 cups and only came home with 3, so it was nice to see so many people interested and trying something new. Thanks to my aunts for designing the leftovers for the picture above!

I roasted some mixed small potatoes with rosemary, pepper, and garlic powder on parchment paper. I roasted them the day before, and then reheated them in the oven at Grandma’s. Then corn hole started and I forgot about them in there, so they weren’t my best roasted potatoes. They got too dry, so keep a watch on them!

Homemade Marinara and Meals to Match

Mushroom and Rice Balls

Mushroom and Rice Balls

Rao’s is my absolute favorite marinara (I know, I should be a walking advertisement for them), but it’s expensive and has oil so I wanted to find an alternative to stay on track and keep Rao’s as a treat. There’s a Rao’s Marinara recipe I found on Pinterest and I think it’s from Martha Stewart. The most important thing is to use canned San Marzano tomatoes because they’re the best quality and have a natural sweetness so no sugar needs to be added to the sauce. I cut the recipe in half because there’s only two of us, and I used the batch for two different recipes this week. The last time I made homemade marinara is was chunky, so this time I used my immersion blender because I prefer a smooth sauce and it turned out great! This is a great recipe and can be used in so many different ways.

“Rao’s” Marinara (edited)

2 28 oz cans San Marzano tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 yellow onion, diced

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp dried oregano

5-10 fresh basil leaves, torn

  1. In a large sauce pan, saute diced onion until tender and add garlic and cook until fragrant. I add a few tbsp of water to prevent sticking and wait until evaporated.
  2. Add canned tomatoes to a large bowl and use your hands to crush them up and take out any hard pieces of skin or stem, then add it in to the sauce pan. Add a sprinkle of salt.
  3. Bring sauce to a boil and then tun down to a simmer and let thicken for about an hour or so.
  4. Add torn basil and oregano and cook for about 1 minute then use!


A friend of mine sent a picture of these mushroom “meat”ball sliders and the recipe and I wanted to try them out as faux meatballs. They were pretty good, but not as good as the chickpea balls I made a few weeks ago. I’d rather have the chickpea balls, so if comparing, use that recipe (on the blog). This one is really light and low calorie and made from mushrooms and brown rice. I paired them with whole wheat penne, my marinara, and roasted asparagus. I followed the recipe almost exactly, but removed all of the oil, added a tbsp of Vegetarian Better than Bouillon Beef flavor and a tbsp of tomato paste to the veggies and I baked them in the oven on 400* for about 40 minutes on a silpat mat.

I used the other sprouted pizza dough from Trader Joe’s to make this eggplant, mushroom, onion, and crispy kale pizza topped with homemade marinara and cashew parmesan.

Sprouted Grain Pizza

1 sprouted whole grain pizza crust

3/4 cup marinara sauce

10 oz baby bella mushrooms

1 eggplant, peeled and cubed

1/3 yellow onion, diced

4 cups chopped kale

3 tbsp cashew parmesan

  1. Preheat oven to 500*
  2. Dice vegetables and saute them over medium high heat.
  3. Top crust with marinara, veggies, and fresh chopped kale.
  4. Sprinkle with cashew parmesan and bake for 10-15 minutes until kale is crunchy and crust edges are turning brown. Serve with a side salad and it’s a filling meal.
Eggplant, Mushroom, Onion, and Kale Pizza

Eggplant, Mushroom, Onion, and Kale Pizza

I follow Veganuary on Instagram and am part of a vegan Facebook group that helps give ideas and keeps me motivated since I don’t know of really any other people around me that are vegan. Sometimes they post things like this and it makes me stay committed to being plant based. There’s so many things that I had no idea about before I started this lifestyle and did my own research, so I know others are the same way. I started this lifestyle purely for health benefits for Josh and I, and once I started learning more and more, there are so many more reasons I want to continue being plant based. For my health, for animals well-being, for the environment, and even future generations. If you just do it for your health, you’re more likely to quit because we usually give up on ourselves when it gets hard, but if you have multiple reasons why you’re doing something it makes it a lot easier to keep going.

Roasted Veggie Mac ‘n Cheeze

Roasted Veggie Mac 'n Cheeze

Roasted Veggie Mac ‘n Cheeze

You wouldn’t believe that this is a recipe using leftovers. Well I used the leftover cheeze sauce I made for the stuffed baked potatoes last week, roasted some veggies, boiled elbow pasta, and mixed it all together to make a healthy and filling version of Mac n cheese. I roasted broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes but you can really add whatever vegetables you have on hand. I also saw some recipes using peas if you wanted some extra protein. Since this sauce is already made from veggies and cashews, there is plenty of protein so it’s a substantial meal. I mixed it all together then scooped it into a baking dish and topped with cashew Parmesan. A few minutes under the broiler and dinner is served! It’s a one dish dinner that everyone will enjoy, kids and adults alike. I used the authentic Italian elbows from Trader Joe’s, but if you’d rather use a whole wheat or rice variety you can substitute that. It made enough for 6 large portions, so I’m currently getting buried in this week’s leftovers already. Hope you try it out!

Roasted Veggie Mac ‘n Cheeze

1 lb Elbow pasta

2 broccoli crowns, chopped

1 large zucchini, quartered and sliced

10 oz baby Bella mushrooms, quartered

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tbsp cashew Parmesan

Vegan cheeze sauce, I used

1. Preheat oven to 400*. Roast veggies on a parchment lined tray and sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper for 30-40 min. Add tomatoes for the last 10-15 minutes.

2. Boil pasta and cook two minutes less than package instructions.

3. Keep about 1/4 c pasta water before draining and then combine drained pasta, pasta water, veggies, and about 3/4-1 cup cheeze sauce. I just added tbsps at a time until coated how I wanted.

4. Mix and add into a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle with cashew Parmesan.

5. Broil for 5-7 minutes until toasty, make sure you watch closely.