Valentine’s Ideas

Dark Chocolate Chip Strawberries

Dark Chocolate Chip Strawberries

It’s been a relaxing and rainy weekend and not much cooking has been happening around here until today. Friday we went out with Josh’s family and had sushi and last night we ordered vegetable hibachi in. It was actually pretty good and you can order it without butter and asked for light on the oil, so it didn’t taste so greasy.

Tonight we had our annual Valentine’s family dinner with my family, and it’s the only time we get to eat in the dining room, so it’s a pretty big deal! It’s a steak dinner so this year I made something that I could have, and my family really enjoyed it as well. I made a vegetable sushi platter for appetizer with several varieties and I saved some of it to have as my meal with roasted veggies and for dessert I made some dark chocolate covered strawberries sprinkled with dairy free chocolate chips. I haven’t been eating chocolate very much since starting to eat HCLF, so these were a treat! They were a great vegan Valentine’s sweet and they were really easy to make.

The sushi is a perfect valentine’s meal to impress. It looks really fancy like you put a lot of time into it, plus it’s delicious and not too heavy. You can add whatever you want inside so it’s versatile and so much cheaper than going out (especially on Valentine’s Day!)

 Vegetable Sushi 

Nori sheets (Whole Foods)

short grain brown rice (almost 1 cup per roll)

2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar per cup of rice

Filling Ideas-

Teriyaki Grilled Portobello, Asparagus, and Carrot- 

1 portobello cap, cleaned

asparagus spears, microwaved for 1 minute

shredded carrots

scallion slices

Teriyaki sauce

  1. Marinate cap in teriyaki for about an hour, then grill on a grill pan until tender. Slice into slices and place back in the leftover marinade.

Avocado, Cucumber, Carrot, Scallion, and spring mix

Avocado, cucumber, avocado, scallion

Avocado, mango, cucumber

Teriyaki Grilled Portobello, Asparagus, Cucumber, Spring Mix

To Assemble-

  1. Mix warm rice with proper amount of vinegar (2 tbsp per 1 cup rice) and let sit for a few minutes until sticky.
  2. Lay nori sheet on a clean and dry surface shiny side down and long ends horizontal, and spread rice with paddle on nori, I leave about 1/2 inch of room on the side closest to me and farthest from me.
  3. Add a little of each ingredient (few pieces of each) about 1/3 way across (near you) in a horizontal line.
  4. Wet your finger and wet the empty space of nori farthest from you to ensure secure sealing.
  5. Start rolling the sushi up while you are holding the ingredients in, squeeze and roll.
  6. Leave it for a few minutes to seal and then use a sharp serrated knife to cut into 3/4 inch pieces.
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce.
Vegetable Sushi Rolls

Vegetable Sushi Rolls

Vegetable Sushi Rolls

Vegetable Sushi Rolls

Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries

I used the 72% Endangered Specials Dark Chocolate bars from Whole Foods (2 for $5) and melted them with a tbsp of water in the microwave. Yes, no double boiler and so technically wrong, but it works. You microwave for 30 seconds at a time and use a whisk to stir and keep going until it’s totally melted and glossy. Dip the strawberries and twist, then I used Enjoy Life dairy free mini chocolate chips and pressed them on while the chocolate was still wet. Then refrigerate to set up and serve!

2 dark chocolate bars, melted

1/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

1 carton fresh strawberries

Dark Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

I teach 2nd grade so I always make my kids a Valentine’s treat every year. I usually make rice crispy hearts, but this year I wanted to make a vegan option. I melted down a few bars of dark chocolate and poured it into a thin, tall container so that dipping pretzel rods was easy. After dipping the pretzel rods, I laid them on parchment to harden and sprinkled them with valentines sprinkles to look festive.

4 bars of 72% dark chocolate, melted over double boiler

1 bag of pretzel rods

Valentine’s sprinkles

  1. Melt chocolate over a double boiler and pour melted chocolate into a tall, thin container.
  2. Dip each pretzel about halfway and then lay on parchment to cool.
  3. Sprinkle with Valentines sprinkles while still wet and cool completely.
Dark Chocolate Pretzels

Dark Chocolate Pretzels

Dark Chocolate Pretzels

Dark Chocolate Pretzels

Vegan Baked Ziti

Vegan Baked Ziti

Vegan Baked Ziti

Anyone else always get Sbarro ziti in the food court growing up on a long day of shopping with your mom? Even though you were lactose intolerant? Only me…? Not the best decision I might add.

This is also something my mom used to make, and then it became my go-to in high school  meal when all of my friends would come over. So instead of filling this baked ziti with ground beef, Ragu, and a variety of cheeses, I came up with a plant based version that still has the creamy tomato sauce and the crunchy noodles on the top (my favorite part!) The tofu becomes a ricotta, and then it’s mixed with mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and marinara make a pink sauce. I used whole wheat ziti and combined that with my sauce and sprinkled about a tbsp of Follow Your Heart Parmesan for the top. It still blows my mind that by just eating these veggies and pasta, my protein percentage was over where I wanted it to be for this meal. It’s 23% protein, 15% fat, and 62% carbs.

                                                            Vegan Baked Ziti

serves 8

1 lb whole wheat ziti noodles

1 large can low fat Tuscan Marinara, TJ’s

10 oz baby bella mushrooms

1 bag baby spinach

5 oz grape tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp Follow Your Heart Parmesan

salt and pepper to taste


                                                          Tofu Ricotta

1 lb extra firm organic tofu

2 tsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp italian seasoning

2 tsp minced garlic

3 tbsp water

salt and pepper to taste

  • You can use as much ricotta in the recipe as you’d like, I used it all and it was a tad too pink so next time I’ll start with half and add in more if I want more.
Tofu Ricotta

Tofu Ricotta

  1. Preheat oven to 400* and prepare the tofu ricotta. Drain the tofu and cube it, then add to the food processor or mixer and blend with other ingredients.
  2. In a large saute pan, saute the mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  3. Add the can of marinara to the vegetables when they’re tender and combine.
  4. Add the ricotta to the sauce, I’d start with half and then work your way up to the amount you’d like. I dumped it all and it was a little too pink for what I was going for, so I had to add a little more marinara. IMG_0478.jpg
  5. Combine the cooked pasta with the sauce and then add the mixture to a 9×13 baking dish.IMG_0480.jpg
  6. Sprinkle with a little vegan parmesan and nutritional yeast.
  7. Bake covered for 40 minutes and then uncover and cook an additional 10 minutes until pasta is golden brown.
Vegan Baked Ziti

Vegan Baked Ziti

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Lentil Shepard's Pie

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

If you’re a vegan who misses the flavor of beef, this could be the one for you. I used Vegetarian Better than Bouillon Beef flavor and vegetable broth to cook the lentils so they absorbed the flavor and kind of tastes like traditional ground meat shepherd’s pie with a different texture. I used the inside of the potatoes from Super Bowl to make my mashed potatoes to top my pie and they combined to make a really savory, satisfying meal. I used a recipe I found on Pinterest and since I’m not using oil I adjusted the recipe to fit my needs and added other things in so this is my take on it. You can add whatever veggies you’d like, but the mushroom, onion, and green pea mixture worked really well in this recipe.

                                                                Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Mashed potatoes-

5-6 russet potatoes, baked and insides scooped

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper


1 cup dry green lentils

10 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced

5 oz frozen onion, celery, carrot mix

1 tbs minced garlic

1 tsp vegan Worcestershire

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 cup green peas, frozen

1 tbsp Vegetarian Better Than Bouillon Beef flavor, Whole Foods

3 cups vegetable broth, no oil. Pacific brand.

1 tsp thyme

1 tbsp cornstarch

pepper to taste

  1. Preheat your oven to 425* and heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Cook your frozen mirepoix of veggies with your mushrooms, garlic, thyme, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Once cooked, remove from pan.
  3. Add vegetable broth, lentils, and bouillon to pan and simmer for 15 minutes until tender.
  4. While lentils simmer, combine mashed potato ingredients and use a mixer to blend until smooth.
  5. There should be liquid still left in the pan after lentils cook, so add cornstarch and cooked veggies back in the pan. If there’s not, add some more broth. Add cup of peas and cook over low until sauce thickens. Sprinkle with pepper and add to a 9×13 baking dish.
  6. Carefully scoop tiny amounts of mashed potatoes over the lentils and then spread around. If you do large dollops they sink to the bottom.
  7. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes until edges are bubbling.

    Lentil Shepherd's Pie

    Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Teriyaki Chickpea and Veggie Stir Fry

Teriyaki Chickpea and Veggie Stir fry

Teriyaki Chickpea and Veggie Stir Fry

Well, this made up for my not so great things I made for Super Bowl (in my mind). This is something Josh and I both enjoy and it’s easy and quick for a tasty weeknight meal. I used the oil free teriyaki recipe I made for my noodle bowl last week and stir fried chickpeas with broccoli, carrots, baby bella mushrooms, scallions, and spinach then mixed the teriyaki in to top rice. I cooked some brown basmati rice in my new rice cooker (it’s amazing!) and it came together really quickly. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand, fresh or frozen, to make a stir fry.

                                                       Teriyaki Chickpea and Veggie Stir Fry

Serves 4

4 cups brown basmati rice, cooked

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup shredded carrots

1 1/2 cups baby bella mushrooms, sliced

2 cups baby spinach leaves

4 scallions, thinly sliced, set aside some of the green tops for servnig

                                                        Oil Free Teriyaki Sauce

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup coconut aminos

1 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp minced garlic

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tbsp cornstarch

  1. Rinse and cook rice according to directions on bag.
  2. In a large wok, stir fry broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, spinach and chickpeas on medium high heat with a few tbsp of water until vegetables are tender but still have color.
  3. Mix teriyaki sauce in a large mixing cup and then add to chickpea mixture. Cook a few minutes on low until thickened.
  4. Top your bowl of rice with the stir fry and sprinkle with scallions.

Super Bowl Food

Buffalo Chickpea Taquitos

Buffalo Chickpea Taquitos

Well it wasn’t the yummiest assortment I’ve ever made, but I tried to come up with some oil free Super Bowl foods that would fit within the starch solution guidelines. Chili was something simple that is healthy and can be made without oil, but I just threw a bunch of beans and diced tomatoes in my crockpot with spices and it was okay..not like my Bad Billy’s Bean Chili. Also, I baked potatoes then scooped the insides out for later in the week and sprinkled the skins with salt and pepper then put them under the broiler to make potato skins. They’re alright, I think oil free potato skins aren’t as crispy but they did have the chewy factor. I put the chili into the potato skins like a boat and topped with scallions.

We went over to my parents for appetizers and drinks and watched the first half of the game, so I brought the appetizers. I last minute decided to make buffalo chickpea taquitos so I made them up as I went and used what I had. I mixed a can of chickpeas with shredded zucchini with garlic powder and buffalo sauce. I wrapped them up in corn tortillas and then baked them on 400 for 20 minutes until crunchy. They would be better with some sort of creaminess that would cut the buffalo, so maybe if I find an oil free vegan ranch or cream cheese to throw in they would be better. Testing is important! I also made oil free tortilla chips (my dad thought they were stale, but you just have to know before you’re not going to get the same texture as a fried chip) by cutting corn tortillas into wedges and sprinkling them with spices then baking them on 400 until crisp. I served them with salsa and TJ’s guacamole.

Overall, not super impressed but at least we had something to eat on Super Bowl that still made me feel guilt free because I stayed in the guidelines. I can work on improving these things in the future. If you want to use the recipes and test them out and add what you want to, feel free!

                                                       Buffalo Chickpea Taquitos

12 corn tortillas, Mission super soft

1 can chick peas, mashed

2 small zucchinis, shredded and squeezed liquid out

4 tbsp Frank’s buffalo sauce

1 tsp garlic powder

  1. Preheat oven to 400* and mix the chickpeas, zucchini, garlic, and sauce together. Lay out the tortillas and put a small scoop on each and tightly roll, try not to crack.
  2. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until brown and crunchy then serve immediately.

Easy Bean Chili

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 tsp minced garlic

2 cans diced tomatoes, no salt added

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can white northern beans, drained and rinsed

3 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp onion powder

1 cup water

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp Vegetarian Beef Better Than Bouillon

  1. I dumped everything in the crock pot and turned it on high for about 5 hours. I know, I’m brave to use my crockpot on the same night as the This is Us Superbowl episode..
Bean Chili Boats

Bean Chili Boats


Meal Planning 2.3.18


This is my view this morning while meal planning for the week. Read more of The Starch Solution, Louis on my lap watching Animal Planet, and a fire in the fire place because it’s COLD! As Josh said last night “it’s been a good week” for dinners in our house, so now I feel the need to keep topping myself and keep proving that low fat, plant based meals can be satisfying and delicious as well as healthy. You’ve seen pretty much everything I eat and I’m down a few pounds since I started eating high carb low fat two weeks ago, so I’m excited to try all the recipes that fit in this lifestyle. We’re going to be traveling a lot this year as it turns out so I want to be looking and feeling my best.

HCLF Breakfast ideas-

Oatmeal– quick oats with water, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and berries

Hash browns– shredded potatoes and veggies topped with organic ketchup and side of berries


What I’ve been having school mornings- Brown rice cakes topped with a little raspberry jelly and a sprinkle of Everything but the Bagel seasoning, sometimes I do a mix of rice cakes and one piece of sprouted whole grain toast. Haven’t gotten tired of it yet!

Lunch- I usually have leftovers or make a lavash sandwich with no oil hummus and spinach, tomato, and cucumber with a side of fruit. You could also have potatoes with veggies, rice or pasta with veggies. Half starch, half veggies.

Snacks– FRUIT! pita and no oil hummus, dates and tea, banana with powdered peanut butter, air popped popcorn with dill pickle juice and spices

Since doing this, I haven’t been craving sweets which is really odd for me. I used to have a piece of dark chocolate most nights. If I am in the mood for sweets, I grab a date or two with my tea and it satisfies the craving. Since I fill up on dinner, I’m usually not hungry for anything after that.

HCLF Dinners this week-

Super Bowl Sunday-  Bean Chili topped Potato Skins, I got this idea from The Chew this week. They scooped out potatoes and broiled the skins to make them the crispy “chips” for the bottom layer and then topped them with nacho toppings, but I thought it would be delicious topped with chili. I might even try to make a vegan cheese sauce.

General Tso’s Chickpeas– I’m going to use the oil free teriyaki sauce recipe from last week and mix it with crispy chickpeas and roasted broccoli on brown rice.

Lentil Shepard’s Pie- I’m going to use the insides of the potatoes from the potato skins to make mashed potatoes and make a lentil, veggie mixture to go under them.

Baked Ziti- Baked Ziti used to be my specialty in high school, I made it for all of my friends for every gathering. This is going to be a little different than my ground beef and Ragu classic. I’m going to use tofu to make a “ricotta” with spinach and mushrooms then mix it with ziti and marinara then bake until you get those perfect crunchy noodles on top.

Sushi- We might be having my family over to try some veggie sushi, and we’re trying to think of some other veggie combinations that would be good. Ideas? The avocado, cucumber, carrot, scallion, and spring mix is a keeper, but want something else too.

Bean Burgers and Fries- kidney beans, oats, and spices make these some simple, low fat burgers with a side of roasted potato fries.

Hope this helps you come up with some ideas! I hope it’s another “good dinner” week in our house!

Roasted Veggie Pita Pizza

Roasted Vegetable Pita Pizza

Roasted Vegetable Pita Pizza

Friday means pizza! This super simple take on pizza was a hit in our house because it took about 10 minutes to make and turned out to be really tasty. I had the roasted veggies already made because I did a double batch of roasted veggies the night before for spaghetti, so I sautéed some sliced sweet onion and spinach to add to the veggie mix. Then you just top pitas with your favorite marinara, veggies, and I did a tiny sprinkle of Follow Your Heart vegan Parm and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a cheesy topping and popped them in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Roasted Vegetable Pita Pizza

Whole wheat pitas, TJ’s have no oil

Rao’s marinara, or your favorite

Roasted eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms, diced

sautéed onion slices, garlic, and spinach

Follow Your Heart Parmesan, only used about a tsp per pizza

Nutritional Yeast

  1. Preheat oven to 450*, top pizzas with your favorite toppings and then bake until pita edges get crispy, about 10-15 minutes.

This is a great recipe at the end of the week when you can use all of your leftovers to top the pizzas with. I used my traditional leftover veggies with marinara and I also used up my leftover portobello fajita veggies to make a Mexican pizza and used mango salsa instead of marinara. You can get creative and use up what you have and recreate it into something new. Plus- You can have a whole loaded pita pizza for about the same calories as one piece of traditional pizza, without the loads of fat and grease. Guilt free choice!