gwen learns

Sweet Potato Flatbread with Chive Cashew Cheese, Fig, and Arugula

Posted in recipes by gwenlearns on April 29, 2012

Inspired by my favorite sandwich, a pinterest find, and a cashew cheese I’ve been wanting to find a good use for… sometimes everything just comes together for the win!  I just wish I could take prettier pictures… camera phones are just too accessible.

Fig preserves I used are from Loveless Cafe in Nashville, TN, only has 4 ingredients (figs, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice), and can be purchased online here.  And this is the pizza dough I used.


Broccoli and “Cheese” Soup

Posted in recipes by gwenlearns on April 25, 2012

Broccoli and “Cheese” Soup: Add 1 cup steamed broccoli and some additional water to the blender after making a double-batch of the sauce in this recipe. Blend, then add 2 cups of small steamed broccoli florets and serve. Makes 3-4 bowls of soup.

Fool them all: Vegan Mac and Cheese

Posted in recipes by gwenlearns on April 23, 2012

I usually don’t like vegan recipes that imitate non-vegan recipes.  First, because they contain fake, heavily processed ingredients like soy curls or TVP (ick!).  Second, because they never seem to match up to the original… “it tastes so much like it!”  just doesn’t cut it for me (think The Polar Express and its uncanny valley issues).  Except when it comes to this mac and cheese sauce.

leftovers: my favorite mac and cheese with brown rice rotini


(based on this recipe from VegNews)


Posted in recipes by gwenlearns on April 20, 2012

Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli…

Dr. McDougall (who I kinda see as the “grandfather” of the plant-based diet) has been known to say that if you really want to make things simple, just eat sweet potatoes and broccoli for a while.  You wouldn’t believe how much nutrition you can cover with these two veggies!

I just started using cronometer this week… it’s this food diary on steroids.  I love how you can make it fit your diet, unlike other food tracking sites that have built in recommendations that I don’t agree with!   But following the USDA recommendations, I inputed five sweet potatoes and four cups of broccoli, both cooked, and here’s what you get:

5 sweet potatoes + 4 cups broccoli

Do you realize how amazing this is!??!  I wish I could take this space to show you what olive oil, milk, and chicken look like… you just can’t get the same nutrition from concentrated oils or animal foods!

Anyway… off my soapbox now.

So here’s something to dip, pour, or smother over your SP&B:

(based on this recipe)

(chili paste is at safeway or here)

(okay! one more: I like to drizzle this sauce cold over hot food. When sauce thickens the next day, thin it out a bit with some more hot water so you aren’t caking on the heavy sauce)

the perfect smoothie.

Posted in recipes by gwenlearns on April 17, 2012

I am a big fan of the smoothie.  I love how you can just throw in whatever you’ve got on hand and it almost always seems to work out.  I’m not a big fan of smoothie recipes though… the thought of measuring anything first thing in the morning is just not my thing.  But this morning, I measured my ingredients for your benefit.  So here is generally what I do:

Some tips:

– Freeze almost all your ingredients so you don’t have to worry about things going bad.

– To save money, chop up your own greens and freeze in zip-lock bags.  I find a mixture of 1 bunch kale, 1 bunch spinach, and 1 bunch collards can last you 3-4 months of smoothies if you chop them all in one day. If that’s too much work, buy pre-chopped frozen greens.

– For more creaminess:  add a frozen banana, use soy milk or other milks with higher fat content instead of water, and avoid berries that have seeds that get stuck in your teeth (raspberries and blackberries).

– To save money on berries, buy in season when there’s a surplus, wash ’em up, dry on a towel, and freeze.

– To make it sweeter: Use fruit juice as your liquid, but realize this will spike your blood sugar.  I have a big sweet tooth and I’ve found this isn’t necessary for me!

– For more nutrients: Use vegetable juice as your liquid!  Save your juicing scraps in a zip lock in your freezer to make broth another day.  It’s more clean-up but you get a ton of additional nutrients!

– About flax and chia: I’ve heard flaxseeds must be ground for you to absorb them.   Since they can go rancid once they’re ground up, store them in the freezer pre-ground up.  This step is not necessary with chia seeds.

– Rinse your blender and cup right away.  Saves a lot of scrubbing later.

Cowgirl cookies

Posted in recipes by gwenlearns on March 8, 2012

A particular vegan restaurant in town serves a version of these cookies and I had to try to make them at home… so here’s my version, based off of Dreena Burton’s homestyle choc. chip cookies.  I made these last fall and just haven’t gotten around to posting… so here they are:

Vegan Thanksgiving

Posted in recipes by gwenlearns on November 28, 2011

I just wanted to post our recipes/pics for thanksgiving, in case anyone is planning ahead for Christmas!  We found all our recipes online, so I’m posting links (click the recipe names or photos) and our modifications below.  And of course… we will start with dessert!


Vegan Pumpkin Pie

– only thing we changed was to let the pie chill uncovered overnight… it needs more than 2 hours to get the perfect texture.

Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

– only used 1 Tbsp lemon juice

– used Mori-Nu brand tofu

– this is amazingly good… honestly and seriously will fool any omnivore.  Don’t be afraid of the tofu in this… there is no soy aftertaste or weird texture.

Apple Pie

– added 1 tsp cinnamon and used only 6 apples

– subbed earth balance margarine for the butter

– mixed in half of the sauce in with the apples, poured the rest on top.

Pie Crust

– used earth balance shortening for a non-hydrogenated version

The Main Course

Scalloped Potatoes with Eggplant Bacon

– we added 1 cup of unsweetened, unflavored almond milk to the sauce

Cranberry Sausage Stuffing

– my own creation based on a number of other recipes

Field Roast Sausages

Green Bean Casserole

– also my own modification of other recipes

Sweet Potato Casserole

– I didn’t use a recipe for this, but here’s the basic idea: 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, some cinnamon, some sugar, some earth balance margarine… at whatever proportions taste right to you!

– Top with your favorite vegan marshmallows (for some reason we used conventional here, but you should definitely try Dandies or Sweet & Sara brands… esp. if you are more than a little grossed out by this, as gelatin is a main ingredient in marshmallows)

Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute

Mashed Potatoes

Mushroom Gravy

Golden Gravy

– Also another adaptation of multiple recipes found online

– I recommend pureeing this in your blender to get all the lumps out… or use an immersion blender.

Better Bay Biscuits

I didn’t take a picture of these, so I’m stealing this from the creator of this recipe, but we did also make these for thanksgiving.  And let me tell you, they really are just like the ones at Red Lobster.

– I recommend using Daiya brand vegan cheddar cheese.

– I recommend saving the garlic salt to sprinkle on top instead of mixing it in with the butter and parsley first.   It will make it easier for the salt to be evenly distributed among the biscuits.

Cooking with the Oatmans

Posted in recipes by gwenlearns on October 11, 2011

In the past few years, my family has become plant-based.  For a lot of people, that sounds a little crazy (“are you sure that’s safe?” “how do you get your protein?”), but I believe it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself… better than any medication or supplement you can take.  I occasionally fall off the plant-based road and every time I get back on it I’m amazed at how good it feels.

And seriously, tell me this doesn’t look good…


Sweet Potato Tater-Tot Casserole (click for recipe)

Spring Greens Salad

Roasted Corn Hummus (see below)

I’ve been trying to find as many ways to use this delicious frozen discovery, and this hummus is the best creation so far!

thank you peas.

Posted in recipes by gwenlearns on October 8, 2011

So I recently discovered Peas and Thank You and have been testing out her recipe index and I thought I’d share some winners with ya.


Tempeh Tamale Pie – Amazing… great leftovers too.

Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus – Just like Pita Jungle… with one modification… roast the peppers in the oven under the broiler till blackened, then when cooled…peel off the skins, remove seeds, and remove stems.  For some reason the fresh jalapeños were messing up the flavor.

Mmmm Sauce – So good on a bowl of rice and veggies.  I replaced the oil with water and added 1/4 cup more almonds.


Not So Healthy (…for sharing)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls  – melt in your mouth, the perfect cookie.

Red Lobster Biscuits – So good… and if you sprinkle more garlic salt on them at the end, I think they are more like the ones at the restaurant.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake – tastes like something that needs to be at a kid’s birthday


Still to Try:

Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna

Cheese Stuffed Bean Burgers 

Curried Sweet Potato Tater-tot Casserole

Pumpkin Bread w/ Chai Swirl

Posted in recipes by gwenlearns on October 8, 2011

This weekend, I decided to combine my favorite fall drink and my favorite fall treat.

Let’s just say I made a good choice.

The bread part of this recipe is just slightly adapted from here.

With the muffins, I used all applesauce instead of the oil, and they turned out great!  I still recommend using some oil if you are sharing these though.