Veggie Fest 2015

by Mary Pomerantz


The must-attend festival of the summer is BACK! Held at a new, bigger location at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL, the 10th Annual Veggie Festis a weekend of fun for the whole family! Come for the huge international food court, dozens of exciting food demos by cookbook authors and chefs, fun activities in the Children’s Tent, presentations from doctors and health experts, over 100 vendor booths to explore, and so much more!

We’re going to have a BLAST! | Aug. 15-16 | 11am – 8pm | Benedictine University | Lisle, IL | Free Admission | Free Parking


Meat Free Week: March 23-29

by Mary Pomerantz


People become vegetarians for many reasons. The primary impetus for people to eliminate animal products from their diets is health. Eating meat can contribute to heart disease but is also a factor in complicating the prognosis in many other ailments. Besides health, people choose not to eat meat because of compassion for the animals that are sacrificed for our taste buds. Worry for the environment is another factor in deciding not to eat meat. The world suffers from the over-cultivation of animals for food. 30 % of the world’s arable land and one third of  our fresh water is used to raise animals for meat, eggs and fish. All of this poses a real threat to the earth’s population through the over-use of antibiotics and the pollution to our land and waterways. And this affects us all, even those of us who are already vegetarians! That is a good reason to publicize this week to your friends and family and urge them to try vegetarianism for a week or two. It might surprise them how easy it is!

To help people try eating a plant based diet, we offer supporting materials like recipes and articles to read that can get one started. Once your friend (or you!) has finished the two weeks, ask him/her to analyze how they feel and ask if this something that he or she might want to continue for the rest of their life to support their health and the health of the planet. Even if one can’t be a vegetarian 100% of the time, at least commit to several days a week. Think of how much good we do if everyone reduced their meat consumption by 25%!

Here is the link to get you started. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask!


To read an article about the impact of the meat industry on the environment, check out this one from Time Magazine:


Lasagna Soup

by Mary Pomerantz

Lasagna Soup

We all love lasagna. So what’s not to like about a soup that has all of the flavor of lasagna? Here is a hearty soup that is sure to please even the finicky members of your family. Team with garlic bread or bread sticks and a salad. You can make it vegan by using vegan cheeses.


1 jug of vegetable broth
6 cups of water
1 chopped onion, sauteed.
1 can of tomato sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes, thrown in the food processor for a few seconds
4 tablespoons of fresh, chopped basil
4 cloves of garlic or more or less.. to taste
1 bag of Boca crumbles
1 package of Tofurkey Italian Sausage, sliced
8-10 lasagna noodles broken into bite size pieces (I used spaghetti since i didn’t have lasagna noodles)
1 16 ounce bag of baby spinach


a dollop of ricotta cheese
sprinkling of mozzarella cheese


Cook onion in a big soup pot. Once it’s cooked, throw everything else into the pot and cook until the pasta is cooked. Garnish with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.



Meatless Monday Indian Feast

by Mary Pomerantz

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Don’t you love the smell of sizzling spices? I used to be intimidated by spicing food the Indian way but after successfully making a number of tasty meals, I’ll try anything now.

This meal was inspired by a bag of organic lentils that I purchased at Costco. It was a mixture of three different lentils -brown, red and black.

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All of the lentils were very small lentils but the black ones were about the size of a peppercorn.

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I decided to try the recipe on the back of the bag because it had mangoes in it. My first inclination was to leave them out but I’m glad that I didn’t. They really added a delicious taste to the dish. The company who makes the lentils is Earthly Choice.

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I also made an aloo gobi (potatoes with cauliflower) that I flavored with panch phoran. This is a spice mix that literally means five spices. It is used to flavor dishes in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. It’s a great whole spice mix made with fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed in equal parts. Each bite can taste different because of the different flavors. You can buy the mix at Indian grocery stores and Amazon.

I completed the meal with some steamed basmati rice that I cooked in a rice cooker with 2 teaspoons of cumin seed and 6 cloves. This touch added a nice flavor to the rice without overpowering it.

Lentil Dal with Mangoes Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic lentils trio (if you can’t find any, I suggest using half red and half brown lentils)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or water – I used the broth that I make myself)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if this is not spicy enough for you)
  • 2 cups chopped frozen mangoes (or 2 fresh peeled and chopped mangoes) (I used Costco’s organic frozen)
  • 8 ounces kale mix, chopped very fine in the food processor
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I didn’t have any so I skipped this ingredient, although I wish I had used it!)


Rinse lentils thoroughly. Put them in a pan with the water and the tumeric and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

In the meantime, heat a skilled and add the coconut oil. When it is melted, add the cumin seed and fry it for about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook until they start to turn brown, about 4 -6 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients except for the mangoes, the kale and the cilantro. Cook stirring for one minute more.

Add the onion mixture, the kale and the mangoes to the lentil mixture and cook until the lentils are very soft and starting to fall apart. Total cooking time should be about 20-30 minutes.

Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Aloo Gobi Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon panch phoran
  • 4 medium organic potatoes, scrubbed and chopped (skins left on)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small flowerettes
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes (I used fresh but I have used canned and drained in a pinch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)


Heat a skillet and add the coconut oil. When melted, add the panch phoran. Sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped onion and fry for about 5 minutes until the onion starts to brown.

Add the chopped potatoes and 1/4 cup of broth and cook for about 5 minutes with the lid on to steam.

Add the cauliflower, the chopped tomatoes, and the salt. If the mix seems dry, add more broth. Cook on medium heat until the cauliflower is tender. Check often and mix gently for even cooking. If it seems dry, add more broth. You want a nice saucy appearance but don’t want the dish drowning in liquid. As it cooks down, it making it’s own sauce.

When the cauliflower is cooked, it is ready to eat. Serve it with a garnish of chopped cilantro if desired.



Italian Gnocchi with Greens

by Nicole Villeneuve


It’s cold here in Chicago where I live and I love to make fresh, healthy dishes that are fun to eat and warm me up from the inside out. But because of my busy lifestyle, owning and managing my own business, I don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen every day. As a single person I like to either make enough food at one time for several meals or make simple dishes like this one using purchased ingredients.

This is one of my favorite dishes to prepare because it’s easy, fast and nutritious with the addition of fresh greens. You could use any combination of greens that you enjoy. I typically use “Power Greens” that I purchase from Costco or  fresh spinach. For the sauce I often use a pesto sauce that I buy at Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s also has a lovely selection of different curry sauces that are not typically served with gnocchi but  work surprisingly well. Occasionally, instead of the pesto or curry sauces, I use a few spoonfuls of olive bruschetta, which adds a nice tangy flavor.

You will enjoy this fast, healthy fun dish on those cold afternoons when you are searching your cupboard or refrigerator for something to eat to warm you up!

  • 2-4  tablespoon of your favorite sauce
  • 4 ounces of gnocchi’s (1/3 of the package)
  • a pinch of salt (for the boiling water)
  • 3 generous handfuls of greens

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  • Boil 2 cups water in a pot. Add a pinch of salt
  • Drop the gnocchi in the the pot once the water has boiled


  • Drop 3 generous handfuls of greens on top of the boiling gnocchi.
  • Boil for an additional 2 minutes


  • Strain the  gnocchi and greens through a colander
  • Place your favorite sauce in the same pot that you used for boiling the gnocchi and and gently warm for 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Place the gnocchi’s and greens in the sauce pot and toss gently.
  • Plate the food and add some freshly shaved Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Prep time: 1 minutes, Cooking time: 5 minutes

  • This recipe is for one person. If serving more people, just increase the ingredients accordingly.
  • After opening the package I place the package in a gallon size Ziploc bag and place it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
  • Use 2 to 4 tablespoons of your favorite sauce for example Marinara sauce, curry sauce (trader Joe’s has a lovely selection of vegan and vegetarian curry sauces) or pesto.
  • Don’t worry about adding so many greens. They cook down to less than a third of their raw volume.



Cauliflower Mash

Here’s another recipe featuring the versatile vegetable cauliflower.  Cauliflower is from the species Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae.  It’s a good source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese. And it’s very tasty.  It is mild enough to blend with other foods and not overwhelm them.  I saw a recipe on the internet that inspired this recipe.  The blogger only included cauliflower and spices in what she called a mash.  I wanted to add a bit more substance and some protein to the dish.  I used quinoa and chick peas to accomplish this.  The hash is placed on a bed of brown gravy and topped with a grilled portobello mushroom.  Serve it with a side of steamed broccoli and you have a very festive meal.

Hash Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into medium florets
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oil (I used coconut)
  • 1 can no sodium or low sodium chick peas
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
  • juice of 1 1/2 lemons, about 1/3 cup of juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Hash Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the cauliflower with the oil.  Place it on a lined cookie sheet or in a large flat casserole dish.  Roast for 15 minutes.

While the cauliflower is cooking, saute the onions.  I sauteed enough minced onions to add some to the gravy.  Also, either grill or pan fry the mushrooms and cook the broccoli.

Drain and rinse the chick peas.  Place them in a food processor with the tahini, lemon juice and water.  The consistency after processing should be about that of hummus.  I started out with 1/3 of a cup but added more water as it wasn’t enough.  Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the quinoa, oregano and onions.

When the cauliflower is finished roasting, put it in the food processor and pulse it until mealy.  Add it to the chick pea mixture and mix thoroughly. Place the mash in a casserole dish and put it back in the oven while you make the gravy and the broccoli.

Gravy Base Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon dried dill weed
  • 2 Tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon basil


In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients well and store in a container in the refrigerator. This mix can be used as a base for soups and sauces.

Brown Gravy Ingredients

1/2 cup gravy base (recipe above)
1/2 cup unbleached flour or 1/3 cup gluten-free flour
4 cups water or vegetable stock (vegetable stock adds more flavor)
2 tablespoons oil (I used coconut)
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet, or to desired color
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste

Gravy Preparation

Put flour, water or vegetable stock, oil, and Kitchen Bouquet in a blender and pulse until mixed.  Add liquid to pan with salt and pepper.  Whisk at medium heat continually until gravy thickens.  If you don’t whisk while the gravy thickens, you could end up with lumpy gravy!  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  If color is not brown enough to your liking, add more Kitchen Bouquet.

Note: Kitchen Bouquet is a commercial flavoring, coloring product found in grocery stores.  If you wish to omit it, a suitable substitute is Marmite, a brown yeasty product found in some grocery stores and natural food stores.  It is quite salty and you may need to adjust the salt if you use it.  Alternatively, you could leave both of these products out and you will have a nice golden colored gravy.

To Assemble

Place a couple of tablespoons of gravy on a plate.  Add about 3/4 cup of the hash.  Top with a portobello mushroom.  Serve with broccoli or vegetable of choice and more gravy if you wish.



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When my husband saw the bag of split peas sitting on the counter, his eyes got moist.  He told me he wasn’t sure he should get his hopes up and ask if I planned to make it.  It is his favorite soup, mine not so much.  But because I know he likes it so much, I make it once in awhile.  Split peas are one of those legumes that you can cook on top of the stove and it doesn’t take all day.  If the peas are this year’s crop, it might only take an hour for the peas to break down.  These have been in my cupboard for at least six months but we still had dinner ready in ninety minutes and had time to make a gluten-free cornbread to do with it.  He was in heaven!  All that was needed was a side of Cole slaw made with his favorite prepared poppy seed dressing.

Soup Ingredients

  • 1 lb bag of split peas, picked over for debris, soaked and rinsed
  • 8 cups low or no-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large organic carrots, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 medium or 4 small organic potatoes, washed and cut in chunks
  • 6 cups of any greens, minced in a food processor
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon no-salt seasoning, like Mrs. Dash (mine came from Costco)
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (for a smokier flavor add up to 1 teaspoon)


Put the clean peas in a large soup pot with the veggie broth.  Place the pot over a medium-high heat.  Allow it to come to a boil and then turn the heat down to low.

In a cast iron or non-stick skillet, dry saute the onion until browned and slightly caramelized.  Add the onions to the soup pot.  Put a little water in the pan to loosen any onions left in the pan and pour into the soup pot.  Cook for about a half hour or until the peas start to break down.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the potatoes are soft and the peas have almost but not quite disintegrated.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Note: It is really easy to make your own vegetable broth.  In a bag in your freezer, keep the ends of vegetables from food preparation, onion peelings, frozen vegetables that are starting to get frosty, or vegetables in your refrigerator that are past their peak.  When you are ready to make the broth, put in about half a soup pot of these vegetables, cover with water and simmer for an hour.  Strain and use!  I always make a fresh batch for every soup that I make.  If I have any left over, I either freeze it or make another soup!

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Because of a health condition, my husband had to give up eating gluten.  He is so sensitive that he can feel the effects within minutes of eating it.  It is not painful but it is uncomfortable and since adjusting his diet about 3 years ago, his health has stabilized instead of declined.  It has been difficult for me to make the changes because I have always liked to bake and wasn’t sure how to adjust recipes to this new diet.  This year at Veggie Fest, we had a lovely young lady who did two demos on gluten-free baking.  Laurie Sadowski was so knowledgeable that I bought all three of her cookbooks!  This recipe was adapted from her “Maple-kissed Cornbread” recipe in her book, “The Allergy-free Cook Bakes Bread.”  It had a nice grainy texture and tasted great.  It was pretty dense, which I didn’t mind but might not appeal to those who like the fluffy texture that boxed mixes or breads made with eggs will give you.  Thanks, Laurie!  My husband loved it!

Cornbread Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups whole grain cornmeal (I used Bob’s Redmill)
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (I used Premium Gold Gluten-free Flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used soy)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons oil (I used olive, but the recipe called for Canola, which I don’t use)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil a 9 inch square pan.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and mix just until moistened.

Spread the mixture into the pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.  Serve warm.

Laurie Sadowski, Cookbook Author Extradorinaire




Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

by Mary Pomerantz

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I love green smoothies.  They are packed with nutrition, easy to make, easy to clean up after and utterly delicious.  And there are endless varieties all with the change of the fruits and flavorings you add.  I decided to make Mondays green smoothie day.  This morning I had a yummy cherry chocolate green smoothie.  I’ll add the recipe another day.  Today I’m giving you Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.  I’ve been seeing recipes for them and wanted to try one.  Boy, am I glad that I did.  I’m having one for lunch and have one in the fridge for dinner.

It will be a very nutritious day.  I googled the nutrition facts and found out that pumpkin is very high in vitamin A and is a good source of vitamins R and C, Potassium, Copper and fiber.  Greens are very high in Vitamins A, C, K and B6, Calcium, Copper, Potassium, and Manganese. They are also a good source of protein, riboflavin, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus.  I added an orange, which is very high in Vitamin C but is also a good source of fiber and folate.  I was going to add two oranges but I only had one, so instead I added frozen organic mangoes.  Those are very high in Vitamins A and C and a good source of fiber and Vitamin B6.  Oats added more fiber, magnesium phosphorus, selenium and manganese.  They also helped make the smoothie more creamy.

This recipe makes two quarts and my serving was one quart, which had only 420 calories.  Not bad for so much nutrition!  It could easily serve 3-4 people, though, if this won’t be your entire meal!  I think you will enjoy this unusual smoothie.  It won’t be the last time that I make it!


  • 5 cups packed organic kale & spinach, or any combination of greens
  • 1 can organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1 cup frozen organic mangoes
  • 1/2 cup organic quick oats
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6-8 drops stevia or equivalent sweetener (to taste)
  • water
  • 10-12 ice cubes


Blend all of the ingredients, adding enough water to make a thick smoothie.  Start with 1/2 cup water and add more if needed.



Whole Roasted Cauliflower

by Mary Pomerantz

Whole Roasted Cauliflower


I have been seeing a lot of blog posts about cauliflower these days and have tried a few recipes.  People are making cauliflower steaks, cauliflower rice and whole roasted cauliflower.  I’ve tried the steaks and they were really good but the whole roasted cauliflower intrigued me.  All of the recipes I saw used yogurt, though, and we are a vegan household.  The go-to substitutes for dairy are tofu and cashews.  I didn’t want to use tofu and so I used a combination of raw cashews and chickpea flour or besan as it is called in India.  It is readily available in Indian grocery stores and even in mainstream stores in the Bob’s Redmill section.

As you can see, the finished roast had a nice brown crust and was tender-crisp just the way I like it.  Overall, though, unless I was going to serve it to company I might not go through the effort.  As the crust was just on the top, there wasn’t a lot of flavor.  I have some sauce left over so I’m going to use it up by cutting another cauliflower head into “steaks” and dredging them in the sauce and roasting them.  I think I will like it better!

If you eat dairy and wanted to use yogurt instead, leave out the cashews, water and chickpea flour and substitute 1 1/2 cups of plain yogurt.


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Trim the bottom of the cauliflower, removing the leaves.

Blend the remaining ingredients until smooth.  Using a brush or your hands, rub the sauce over the cauliflower.  This is messy and I suggest doing it in a large bowl or on a plate.  Make sure that the cauliflower is thickly covered with the sauce.

Place in a lightly oiled casserole dish or baking sheet.  Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  I considered it done when the top was brown and I could easily pierce the roast with a knife.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

I served the roast with a veggie burger and delicata squash that had been tossed with garlic and olive oil and roasted with the cauliflower.

Roasted Cauliflower dinenr


20141018_132206Fall is my favorite season.  One reason why is that some of my favorite foods are back in the store, like today’s featured vegetable Delicata squash.  It is a very sweet, finely textured, thin skinned squash that you typically only see in October and early November.  I always stock up on them and keep them for at least another month in my refrigerator.  Usually I just cut it in half, turn it upside down and bake it at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes and then scoop it out of the shell, put a bit of butter and salt and pepper on it.  Yum!

This recipe is not as easy but very nice and something to think about serving at Thanksgiving dinner.  You use a mandolin to slice it very thin, skins and all.  Thinly slice the pieces that couldn’t be done on the mandolin.  Then you saute it with onions and garlic until it is soft, about 15 minutes.  It’s very good!  I had never used a mandolin before and I’ve had one since last Christmas, so it was about time!  The trickiest part is cutting the vegetables to be able to fit onto the spiked holder that you push up and down over the blade.  Once you find the right size, it is a snap.




  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 Delicata squash, sliced between 1/16th and 1/8th of an inch on a mandolin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • nutmeg to taste (preferably freshly grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I didn’t use any)


Heat a heavy skillet to medium high and add the oil and onions.  Cook until the onions start to brown a bit, stirring frequently.  Add the Delicata squash, the garlic and the nutmeg.  Cook on low, stirring frequently to avoid having the vegetables stick to the bottom of the skillet.


If you have never tried freshly grated nutmeg, I urge you to try it over the bottled variety.  It lasts a lot longer and the smell is heavenly when freshly grated!

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