Tag Archives: vegan

Acorn Squash Baked Oatmeal – It’s YUMMY!

Squash in my oatmeal? you say. Yes, believe it or not this squash adds nice moisture to the baked oatmeal, but doesn’t impact the flavor too much. (Plus, you can trick your kids into eating vegetables by hiding it in their oatmeal. We like it so much that I make it almost every week and then store it in individual portions in the fridge for quick delicious morning breakfasts!

You can definitely get creative and add in additional fixings if you like. We use nuts and occasionally some Craisins too.

Acorn Squash Baked Oatmeal

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 acorn squash

2 1/4 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt.)

2 1/2 cups milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond milk)

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Nuts (optional) – to taste (We use a lot of nuts and I use walnuts, sliced almonds and pecans)

Craisins or Raisins (optional) – to taste


  1. Preheat oven to  400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Stick the acorn squash in the oven and let it bake for an hour. A knife should easily go in the squash when it is done.
  3. Wait for the squash to finish baking before starting to prepare the oatmeal. Once it’s done, set aside to cool down a bit so you don’t burn yourself.)
  4. Lightly grease a large 2.5 quart/10 cup baking dish (I used a glass casserole pan) and set the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Get out two good size mixing bowls. Place all of the dry ingredients (oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder and salt) into the large bowl and mix.
  6. Combine all the wet ingredients in the other bowl. Pour in the milk, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  7. Now, remove the peel and the seeds at the squash’s center. Mash the squash up and add it to your bowl of liquid ingredients. (Note: It is important to mash the squash well – otherwise you will have chunks of squash in your oatmeal.) Mix the liquid ingredients well.
  8. Add the liquid mixture to the dry bowl and mix well.
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the nuts and Craisins on top.
  10. Bake in the oven for 32-37 minutes until lightly golden brown along the edge.
  11. Let the oatmeal cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve as you wish – you can add more syrup, use whipped cream, etc. Use your imagination!
  12. Leftovers should keep about a week. I imagine it would be fine to freeze the cooked oatmeal for later recipes – but we usually eat it all within a few days to a week.

This recipe is my own but it is heavily based on two other recipes. The first is another Baked Acorn Squash oatmeal oatgasm.blogspot.com. The second is the Heavenly Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal (which was I enjoyed, but it was a lot of work grating those carrots and the rest of my family wasn’t in love with it) Oh She Glows – Carrot Cake Oatmeal.

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Yummy Vegan Burger Sandwich

This is probably my favorite meal so far on our new whole food, plant based diet.

It is simple and easy to make, yet flavorful and filling.

I use Dr. Prager’s kale & quinoa burgers from Costco (also available at health food stores). If you are doing a pure Engine2 or Esselstyn diet you will need to find a substitute as these burgers do have a bit of oil.

I also love Dave’s bread. Also from Costco. It is not only whole grain, I find it delicious!

Here is the sandwich step by step:


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Braised Broccoli and Tomato Pasta

Important Note: This recipe was inspired by and based on: Serious Eats – Braised Broccoli and Tomato Pasta. I changed the recipe based on what I had available in my house and omitted the oil to make the recipe Engine 2 and Dr. Esselsytn diet friendly.



Braised Broccoli and Tomato Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


8 cloves of garlic, diced

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (garnish)

1/4 cup lemon juice + 1/4 cup water (or 1/2 cup dry white wine)

1 12 or 16 oz bag frozen broccoli (or)  1 head of fresh broccoli (cut into 1/2 to 1 inch florets)

2 cans of diced tomatoes (normal size cans – 14.5 oz each)

1 1b pasta – such as rotini or ziti

1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Sea or Kosher Salt


1. Reserve 10 florets or so for later, place remaining broccoli in a large pot (so you can mix pasta and sauce in one pot later) and cook on medium. (If using frozen broccoli, no need to add water or oil.) If using fresh broccoli, add some water and cook, stirring occasionally, about five minutes.

2. Add the crushed red pepper, oregano and garlic to the pot and stir. Cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds. (I forgot to stir and left it on for two minutes and mine turned out fine – careful though, you don’t want the seasonings to burn.)

3. Add the lemon juice water mixture (or dry white wine) to the pan and stir. Cook to slightly reduce – about 2 minutes.

4. Pour in your diced tomatoes and give it a stir. Turn up heat and bring to a boil. One the sauce boils, turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 1 hour. Season with salt to your taste.

5. Make pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to sauce.

6. (optional) Add reserved frozen broccoli to the pot and allow to pot to continue to simmer for a few minutes (until broccoli is slightly tender.) This step creates better color and another dimension of texture – slight crunch. (You may want to steam fresh broccoli before adding it in.)

7.  Season to taste (add more salt if needed) and add nutritional yeast. Stir. (The nutritional yeast takes some of the heat out and makes me feel like I am adding cheese.)

8. Add chopped parsley leaves as a garnish according to your taste and preference.

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Recipes – Whole Foods, Plant-Strong Diet

The first step of my plant strong diet is learning how to cook plant-strong food that are yummy and satisfying. I am starting by cooking recipes I find online. I’ll be reviewing them and recommending recipes we love.

Mexican Lentil Soup – http://foodbabe.com/2015/01/12/mexican-lentil-tortilla-soup/ This soup was SO yummy! It was extremely flavorful. This is definitely one of my absolute favorites!!

Pasta with “Alfredo” sauce – http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/20/cauli-power-fettuccine-alfredo-vegan/ I made this recipe for dinner the other night. I added frozen peas (these will cook when you heat the sauce) and sauteed chopped red bell peppers. We really like it. I will definitely be making this again. To make this plant-strong/Engine 2 diet friendly omit the oil when sauteing the garlic.

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Going Plant Strong

I never thought I’d be writing this…I have been the epitome of the carnivore. I love beef – especially steak, chicken, cheese, especially, especially cheese!! In fact, I have been staunchly in favor of eating a balanced diet low on sugar and processed foods and this diet most certainly included meat, dairy, etc. But, now I’m heading off in a new direction – a plant based direction.

What!!!??? How did that happen? 

On accident really. My boyfriend’s parents (Annette & Peter) were over a few weeks ago, I came home to find my refrigerator full of meat, eggs, etc. that I had not purchased. Annette was over and they told me that they were doing a special diet – cutting out meat, etc. Now, I could tell she wasn’t that excited to tell me…and I’ll tell you why…a few years ago they tried to do a similar diet, but I was pretty unsupportive – I just plain didn’t get it and I made my opinion clear – to be frank I thought it was stupid. This time when Annette told me about their plan I decided to try to understand their reasoning and find out what was compelling them to make this change. They love their meat, eggs, dairy and all the rest just like me – so just maybe I ought to look at their side and minimally be supportive. It’s not as if eating lots of veges will harm you!

Here’s why they did it: both Peter and Annette have high blood pressure – Peter especially. Peter is in his late 50’s and without medication his blood pressure is in heart attack range, with medication it’s still high – scary. Annette has been pre-diabetic for years. Annette’s dad has had triple bypass heart surgery.  They knew that if they didn’t do something about their health now, there might not have a chance to later. So the search for a change began.

Fast forward and they had stumbled upon Dr. Caldwell Esselyton’s book – Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and they decided to give it a shot. Now, I am the kind of person that needs to understand how and why. I am actually not big on extremes, but in an attempt to be supportive I started to read the book.

For me, this book was perfect. I love Dr. Esselyton’s approach – the first thing he does is make sure his patients understand why the diet is the way it is. I LOVE that! In reading the material (I spent a lot of time in the dictionary learning the medical terminology used.) I found out that Dr. Esselyton has statistics – he has successfully used this diet to help people at death’s door and they have gotten better. Now, I haven’t finished reading the book yet, and I am not 100% that the diet is perfect – but the diet is workable and has gotten the product of people who are now well.

Now, not only am I supportive of Annette and Peter’s choice – we are going to be embracing it in our household – with some modifications. We are actually doing something closer to the Engine 2 diet – which is the diet put together by Dr. Esselyton’s son Rip. This is a diet that includes avocado, coconut and nuts – with the Esselyton diet does not include. And we will probably eat the occasional fish and some meat – though I can already tell my body just isn’t into meat anymore. I plan on cataloging the journey and share the tips I learn along the way.

RESULTS: Annette and Peter have been on the diet for 3 weeks so far. Peter has lost 7 lbs and his blood pressure dropped 20 points. Annette has lost 10 points, her blood pressure has dropped – not sure on the exact amount, less than 20 points.

Our Starting Point


Blood Pressure: 108/67

Pulse 93

Weight: 119 lbs


Blood Pressure 119/64

Pulse 67

Weight 193

Our Goal

We are both in pretty good shape health wise. The main thing we want to do is stay in good health and maybe shed a few pounds. Since we are both predisposed to heart disease through genetics (though his family is much worse) we want to make sure we don’t follow the same path that our forebears have followed.

The Struggles

One of the biggest struggles so far is simply eating enough and staying full. Our bodies are used to high density, high calorie meals and so far the meals we’ve been eating just haven’t been filling us up. I’ll feel full, but then be starving just a few hours later.

We had a yummy vegetable lasagna and salad for dinner last night. That was the first really filling meal I have had. Beans have been pretty filling too. So, I’ll be experimenting!





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I have been getting Birchbox for some time now and I LOVE it. The only thing is that I prefer natural products. If you are like me then you may want to check out this alternative. Go to http://goodebox.com/join-goodebox/. You can read all about it and sign up.

It is $16 per month, which is a bit more than Birchbox, but good natural products are always more expensive. One thing I really like is that they also have a bi-monthly option.

I haven’t tried this box yet, but I would love to hear from those that have. I heard about it and thought that I should share.

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Forks over Knives

I decided to watch this documentary because my boyfriend’s parents (who were staunch meat lovers, and fans of processed food) decided to go vegan after watching it.

For those who don’t know, Forks over Knives is about the benefits of a plant based, whole food diet and the risks of an animal/ processed food based diet. (I made and then ate steak while I watched this documentary.)

I found this documentary to be informative, and never felt like the information was forced off on me. The data was very easy to understand, and was shown to be scientific fact by several broad and well documented studies.

Before I always felt the vegans were extremists/hippies, and the term held a somewhat negative connotation. While I will not be going vegan myself, I now understand why people make that choice, and it no longer holds any stigma. I will, however, be examining my diet and cutting out a lot of processed foods, and adding a lot of plant based foods.

I think that this is a must see for all humans, especially those living on the “Western” diet.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Pros: very informative, includes a lot of scientific research presented in every day terms, always interesting

Cons: does not show any research comparing diets containing small amounts of animal based products and solely animal based products, the documentary was a tad long.

Price: $15

Where to Shop/View: amazon.com, netflix.com, etc

Forks Over Knives

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