Archives for category: vegan

I’m really busy with travel and work these days, so meals have become simple, quick, and in big pots so I can eat leftovers for several meals. So the next few posts will be less recipes and more meal ideas for those times when cooking healthy meals may seem a bit daunting. There’s really no need eat boring or unhealthy foods when you’re really busy (or broke)!

This is another meal that I eat quite often, as it is simple to make, really inexpensive, and delicious so I’m happy to eat the leftovers for days. I have to credit my good friend Caitlin Rueter, who I often stay with in NYC. She makes this all the time and although she  apologizes for the simplicity of the meal, I always enjoy it and crave it again and again.

Did you know that lentils and brown rice cook in the same amount of time? This was a great discovery for me–you can pop both raw (cleaned and picked through) lentils and brown rice into a rice cooker and not have to think about them at all. Meanwhile, cook any sides or toppings you would like and you have several filling, nutritious, and very tasty meals with about as much work as it would take to make a box of mac and cheese.

Caitlin’s lentils, rice and greens

  • Rinse, and pick any stones from about a cup of lentils (I used brown, you can use any you like, French lentils are great, red lentils would result in a more creamy texture)
  • Add lentils and approximately the same amount of raw brown rice (I like long-grain,or Jasmine) to the pot or rice cooker
  • Use the proportions of 2 parts water to 1 part rice/lentil mixture
  • Cook as you would rice
  • Go do whatever you have to do for about half an hour
  • When the rice and lentils are just about done, thinly slice about half an onion, and a little garlic if you like
  • Sautee onion in a few glugs of olive oil, and a couple generous pinches of salt. Add some chile flakes if you like
  • When the onions are translucent and slightly brown, add finely sliced greens or any other vegetable (still damp from rinsing)
  • Sautee until tender-crisp, add more salt to taste, and squeeze a good amount of lemon/lime juice on top
  • Serve vegetables over lentils and rice, with more lemon and your favorite hot sauce

You could use any vegetables you like here–spinach, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, or just let the onions get a little crispy, add a handful of chopped fresh parsley, chives, or cilantro, and leave it at that. Don’t forget a big squeeze of lemon or lime juice before serving.

For a side dish/dessert, I sliced some ruby red grapefruit onto which I drizzled a little bit of real maple syrup.




Here are a few things I’ve made recently that would be good additions to any holiday meal: an extra spicy, whole wheat gingerbread, a delicate and moist persimmon cake recipe that doubled as  persimmon chocolate chip muffins, lots of kabocha pumpkin simply roasted in olive oil and salt until super tender and caramelized, and an autumn salad with spinach, red quinoa, pumpkin seeds, apple, and feta.

spicy gingerbread


1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 ts. baking soda

1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon fresh ginger

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground if desired

1 tablespoon orange rind

3/4 ts. salt

1 egg beaten (or 1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed in 1/4 cup warm water)*

1/2 c. turbinado sugar + extra for topping

1/2 c. molasses (use a fuller flavored  “robust,” un-sulfered or unfiltered molasses if you can)

1/2 c. boiling water

1/2 c. olive oil


preheat 350 degrees

combine dry ingredients into one bowl. in a separate bowl, mix wet in ingredients. combine, then add boiling water last, stirring until smooth.

cook in a loaf pan, cake pan, or whatever you prefer. Bake until golden, coming away slightly from the sides of a pan, and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serve alone, or with lemon curd, lemon or vanilla ice cream, or fresh whipped cream. Also wonderful lightly toasted with coffee or tea and sliced oranges for breakfast.

*note: substituting flax seed for egg will make this recipe vegan. the result is just as delicious, but does not hold together as well

persimmon cake/ persimmon chocolate-chip muffins

adapted from bon apetit

note: this recipe results in a lightly sweet cake or muffin. If you would like a sweeter result, use 1 cup of sugar and/or top with a delicately flavored icing, glaze, or sweetened whipped cream (vanilla, orange zest, and/or nutmeg would be wonderful additions)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
  • 4 large, very ripe Hachiya persimmons
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • chocolate chips (optional)
  • chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour muffin tin or loaf pan. Tap out excess flour.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.
  • Scoop persimmon flesh from skins into a blender. Purée until smooth. Mix with wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips or nuts if using
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, cake pan, or muffin tins.  Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
  • Let bread cool in pan for 20 minutes. Unmold and let cool completely on a wire rack.

caramelized kabocha pumpkin


  • kabocha pumpkin
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt


preheat oven to 400 degrees

cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and cut in thin slices or small chunks (more cuts means more caramelized edges!) drizzle generously with olive oil (about 1/4 cup for an entire small pumpkin) and salt. toss to coat.

roast until very tender and edges are lightly browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes

optional additions: sliced onions, fresh black pepper, hot chile flakes, a couple teaspoons of maple syrup and/or french mustard drizzled over squash for the last 5 minutes

Autumn Salad

makes one large salad


6 cups baby spinach, or mixed greens

one firm, sweet/tart apple, like a Pink Lady or Gala, cored and sliced thinly

pumpkin or squash seeds, roasted with olive oil and salt at 400 degrees until golden brown

1/2 cup crumbled feta (or ricotta salata, or fresh goat cheese)

1 cup leftover quinoa (any variety, I like red the best for salads)

your favorite vinaigrette or mix together 1 tablespoon french mustard, 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons of your favorite vinegar, black pepper, and a tiny pinch of sugar until emulsified

Toss greens with most of the dressing, leaving a couple tablespoons to drizzle on top. Arrange quinoa, apple slices, seeds, and cheese on top on dressed greens. Drizzle with remaining  dressing and serve.

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

A good friend of mine recently introduced me to the wonders of quinoa salad.  I’m not really sure why, but quinoa has always been something I have hesitated to cook.  I love it whenever it is prepared for me, but I’ve always resisted cooking it myself.  I was coached as to how to make the most flavorful and healthful quinoa salad, and, I must say, my first attempt was a success!!! I ended up making this as a “mexi-cali” style salad because these were the ingredients I had on hand – avocado, cilantro, green onions, beans, etc.  The flavors mixed with the quinoa turned out to be just right, but definitely play around with the main ingredients as you like!

I first cooked the quinoa according to directions (I believe it’s 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups water; simmer until all the water has evaporated – super easy!). The black beans were drained, rinsed, and cooked on the stove top briefly to incorporate the spices and heat up the beans. The salad dressing was made while the beans were cooking and everything was tossed together at the end. So easy and so delicious!

Mexi-Cali Quinoa Salad

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 ripe avocado, diced

1 whole tomato, diced

1 large handful cilantro, minced

3-4 large kale leaves, de-stemmed and chopped  (spinach would be a great substitute)

3 green onion stalks, chopped

1 Tbsp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional; omit for vegan cooking)

1/2 red or yellow bell pepper (or both!), finely chopped

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed

1/2 tsp cayenne (1/4 tsp if you like foods less spicy)

1/2 tsp each cumin & garlic powder


~2 Tbsp cilantro, finely minced

1/4 avocado, mashed

2 Tbsp each white vinegar & apple cider vinegar

1 tsp honey

salt/pepper to taste (~1/2 tsp each)

1 Tbsp olive oil

Add the quinoa equally to two serving bowls and set aside. Add the next 7 ingredients (through bell pepper) into a large bowl and set aside.  Place drained & rinsed black beans in a sauce pot and add remaining ingredients.  Stir well and cook ~5 minutes over medium heat.  Remove from heat and set aside.

To make the dressing, add the cilantro, mashed avocado, honey, and vinegars to a small bowl. Stir very well until creamy.  Add salt/pepper to taste and stir in the olive oil.

Add the black beans and dressing to the veggie mix in the large bowl and stir until well incorporated.  Spoon a generous portion (~1 cup) on top of each bowl of quinoa and enjoy!  Serve with a slice of lime, if desired.

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

This flatbread is really a vegan pizza. I love making homemade pizza–it is such a satisfying way to use leftover fresh or cooked vegetables I have in the fridge. Sometimes all the cheese is too heavy for me though, and I would rather pile up the crust with vegetables, herbs and sauce. (Side note: despite many tries, I really do not like vegan cheese.)

I have found that hearty, chewy vegetables such as mushrooms and eggplant are wonderful on vegan pizza or flatbreads–giving great texture and making the dish more hearty. Your favorite cheese can certainly be added on top of this flatbread, but try it without; you won’t miss it, I promise!

Kale and Eggplant Flatbread

makes one medium pizza


whole wheat pizza dough (make your own favorite recipe–I bought mine from Whole Foods)

1/2 of a small eggplant, sliced very thinly on the bias

1 cup kale, washed, dried, and chopped finely

1/4 cup+ your favorite tomato or pasta sauce, or chopped seeded tomatoes

2 tablespoons fresh herbs, finely minced ( I used rosemary here)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

red chile flakes, to taste (optional)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional-but delicious and full of B vitamins!)


~one hour before you want to eat, set out dough to rise in a warm place

preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, preheat your stone in the oven

spread thinly sliced eggplant on a surface, and lightly salt while you prepare other ingredients

prepare other vegetables–mince herbs, chop the kale and tomatoes if using

stretch out your dough to the size of your stone

when the oven is preheated, take out the stone and immediately prepare your pizza: place dough on the hot stone, then spread out a thin layer of sauce, followed by the eggplant slices, herbs, chile flakes, chopped kale, then nutritional yeast. If desired, place a few dollops of sauce on top of the vegetables.

Cook in a hot oven in the uppermost rack for ~12 minutes, or until the edges are a deep golden brown. Drizzle with a bit of good extra virgin olive oil before serving.


The beginning of fall weather and a trip to Half Moon Bay resulted in the idea to alter my favorite gingerbread recipe to include roasted pumpkin puree. The puree not only adds nutrients and fiber, it also creates a wonderfully moist, almost silky texture. Three kinds of ginger and a good amount of cinnamon make the bread nice and warming, perfect for dessert on a cool night with whipped cream, ice cream, or–as our Grannie always served gingerbread–with lemon curd, but also delicious lightly toasted for breakfast or afternoon tea.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

1 small pumpkin (or your favorite winter squash, except spaghetti squash) roasted until very tender-results in about 2 cups pumpkin puree

1 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 ts. baking soda

1  tablespoon each ground ginger, and fresh grated ginger

1/4 cup candied ginger, finely diced

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated if at all possible)

1 ts. salt

1 egg or 1 tablespoon of flax meal in 1/4 cup warm water

1/2  cup brown or turbinado sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup boiling water

1/2 c. olive oil

2+ tablespoons sugar for topping (optional)

2+ tablespoons rolled oats for topping (optional)


Cut your pumpkin into large chunks and roast face-down on a baking sheet or aluminum foil at 350 degrees until very tender (save the seeds and roast them too!) Allow to cool before you begin to mix your batter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine roasted pumpkin flesh (omitting skin), egg, sugar, and oil in a food processor and blend until smooth

Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the wet ingredients. Add molasses and gingers. When all ingredients are combined, add the boiling water and stir until combined.

Pour batter into pan of your choice (I made mini-loafs and a larger loaf, but muffins or a cake pan would work well)

Sprinkle with sugar and oats before baking, to create a caramelized crust, if desired.

Bake about 30 minutes for a loaf or cake, 10 minutes for muffins. Watch for the sides to turn dark brown and pull away from the sides of the pan, and test with a toothpick–insert into the middle of the cake/muffin and wait for it to come out almost completely clean.

If using the topping, set oven to broil for 2-3 minutes at the end to caramelize sugar.

Cool on a rack.





tofu stir fry, eggplant tofu stir fry, eggplant green bean tofu stir fry, eggplant, stir fry, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

While there are numerous reasons I love my Monday evening MNT class (subject, professors, friends, etc), I really enjoy the fact that almost every week I get new requests or ideas for recipes for milk & sugar from my friends in the class.  This week’s request was for a vegetarian dinner recipe, of which we do have many, however I thought this eggplant tofu recipe would be a great addition! (And, hopefully one that my friend will like!)

This recipe is perfect for a quick and nutritious weeknight dinner.  I’ve found (through much trial & error) that the best way to cook eggplant is to chop it, salt it, and let it drain in a colander about 10 minutes before you want to add it to your stir fry. This step is essential in order for the eggplant to be cooked properly and not soak up the oil.  I served this with brown rice, but it would be excellent over chow mein, soba, or buckwheat noodles.  Enjoy!

Eggplant Tofu

2 medium japanese eggplants, cut into bite-sized pieces

~2 cups green beans (or broccoli/bok choy), cut into bite-sized pieces

1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup basil, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch section of ginger, shredded

1 small shallot, minced

1 tsp sesame oil

1/2  cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp rice vinegar + 1 tsp white vinegar (you can use just one of these, if you prefer)

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp cornstarch (or tapioca starch)

Cut eggplant into bite-sized pieces, salt, and place in a colendar.  Let the eggplant drain for 10 minutes.  When the eggplant has sat 10 minutes, heat the sesame oil in a large wok over medium-high heat.  Add the eggplant and cook 5 minutes.  Add the green beans and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Add a tiny bit more oil (sesame or canola) and add the tofu, shallots, and ginger and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the remaining ingredients.  Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the veggies are tender and about half of the liquid has evaporated.  Serve over rice or noodles and enjoy!

tofu stir fry, eggplant tofu stir fry, eggplant green bean tofu stir fry, eggplant, stir fry, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

tofu stir fry, eggplant tofu stir fry, eggplant green bean tofu stir fry, eggplant, stir fry, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe


broiled tofu, vegetarian dinner, vegan dinner

This post doesn’t exactly provide a recipe, but  a few ideas to get you started on creating an easy, super-nutritious, vegetarian/vegan dinner that you can throw together with ingredients you have in your kitchen–one that even a meat-lover will enjoy.

Many Americans are trying to cut down on their meat consumption, but have trouble coming up with ideas. An easy solution is to simply substitute meat with a vegetarian protein such as tofu or tempeh and make your favorite side dishes. Tofu in particular is versatile, inexpensive, and can be found at almost any grocery store. It can be used straight from the tub or frozen and thawed before cooking for a different texture. Although Asian flavorings obviously pair well with tofu, try using the your favorite marinades, salad dressing, BBQ sauce, or flavorings for something different. (Tempeh roasted with rosemary, garlic, salt and olive oil, until golden and crispy, for example, is amazing)

Adapt this recipe to the ingredients you have around or that are your favorite, and depending on how much you want to make.

Broiled Tofu with Quinoa and Collards


quinoa (or your favorite grain, or pasta)

collard greens (or kale, chard, spinach, dandelion, or a mix of your favorite dark greens)


fresh Garlic

fresh lemon juice

chile flakes (optional)

olive oil

salt & pepper

your favorite marinade from a jar (or try making this or this or this, or just puree some garlic, olive oil, salt, and herbs)

tofu or tempeh, cut into large “steaks”


to begin, soak your quinoa (I used red here) in cold water for about 15 minutes. Don’t skip this step, or your quinoa will be bitter!

roughly chop a small onion, and smash a few cloves of garlic with the side of your knife; remove the skins

if using collards or kale, remove the ribs, rinse, then cut into ribbons or medium-sizes pieces

pour your marinade over the pieces of tofu in a large bowl, and set aside

cook your quinoa according to package directions (just like rice, you can even use a rice cooker as I did here)

while your quinoa is cooking, prepare the tofu and greens:

heat a large skillet on medium high. Add a swirl of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons for one bunch of greens), then your garlic, onion, chile flakes, and salt and pepper

when the onion is translucent and fragrant, add your rinsed greens, still a bit damp. stir, and turn the heat down to low/medium low

turn your oven to broil

remove tofu from the marinade, and place on a non-stick cookie sheet or a piece of aluminum foil. spoon a bit of the marinade over the tofu steaks, saving the remaining marinade for later

place the tofu on the highest rack in your oven

in about 5-7 minutes, when the tofu is beginning to brown on the edges and the marinade is bubbling, spoon on a bit more of your marinade and return to the broiler

when your tofu is as brown as you like, remove from the oven

squeeze lemon juice over the greens. taste, and adjust the seasoning.

for each plate, place a scoop of cooked quinoa, a big serving of the greens and onions, and 2-3 pieces of broiled tofu. spoon some of the remaining marinade over the quinoa and tofu and serve.