Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On My Hearth: Three-Layer Tortilla Casserole

Last night I made the Three-Layer Tortilla Casserole from Get Healthy, Go Vegan cookbook by Neal Barnard, MD.

Three-Layer Tortilla Casserole Ingredients photo 20140729_173919_zpsxbrgu9pj.jpg

Three-Layer Tortilla Casserole in Progress photo 20140729_174844_zpsaulagd2v-1.jpg

Three-Layer Tortilla Casserole photo 20140729_175930_zpscdfzywmi.jpg

Three-Layer Tortilla Casserole Plated photo 20140729_183721_zpsx5he9e5c.jpg

As usual, the only change I made was to use my own cooked beans instead of canned, and added a spoonful of salsa when serving.

The Verdict: Absolutely delicious! This recipe makes 4 very generous servings, chock-full of vegetables and flavor, hard to believe it's so incredibly healthy! Chip was out of town so didn't get to taste yet, will probably have it for lunch tomorrow. I'll add a sprinkle of vegan cheddar and maybe a dollop of non-dairy sour cream to his portion since he's not concerned about the fat/calorie content.

I did another early-morning beach walk, but was running late for a meeting so couldn't take Loki on his neighborhood stroll. Perhaps tonight we'll catch up.

07.30.14 Walk photo 20140730_072330_zps12kyzp7p.jpg

Hope you're having a great day so far!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On My Hearth: Summer Pasta and Bean Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Summer Pasta and Bean Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil, Veggie Burger photo 20140728_182238_zpss3opd5fh.jpg

Yesterday was an especially warm day, so glad I had something light planned for dinner.  This pasta salad was fresh and delicious, a perfect side to a simple veggie burger. I added a can of water-packed artichoke hearts because I thought they'd be a nice addition, and used black-eyed peas because I had some left over in the fridge.

Summer Pasta and Bean Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil photo 20140728_174622_zpsax9vf1jc.jpg

 Summer Pasta and Bean Salad with 

Fresh Tomatoes and Basil


  •   8             ounces  whole wheat pasta -- rotini or whatever shape you prefer
  •   2              large  tomatoes -- chopped
  •      1/2                red onion -- thinly sliced
  •   3                     green onions -- thinly sliced
  •      1/2           cup  chopped fresh basil
  •   8 1/2         ounces  canned artichoke heart
  •   1                can  white beans -- (15 ounce) drained and rinsed
  •   1           teaspoon  dried oregano
  •   2        tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
  •                         kosher or sea salt -- to taste
  •                         freshly ground black pepper -- to taste


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
  2. Combine pasta with remaining ingredients and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature prior to serving.

                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Makes 6 1-1/2 cup servings. Per Serving: 277 Calories; 1g Fat (3.2% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 114mg Sodium. 

This morning I got up early and took a nice walk on the beach, enjoyed hanging out with my feathered friends!

07.29.14 Walk2 photo 20140729_061938_zpsegebgriu.jpg

Followed by a neighborhood walk with Loki, I logged 3.5 miles so far. Not a bad start to the day!

Off to run errands and then see a matinee, have a great day!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Menu Planning: Recipes by Dr. Neal Barnard

I realize that I've posted quite a few recipes & reviews by Dr. Neal Barnard, so I'm going to do my best not to duplicate.  This week I'll be focusing on dishes from the Get Healthy, Go Vegan cookbook.

Monday: (Commercial) veggie burgers with Summer Pasta and Bean Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil
Tuesday:  Three-Layer Tortilla Casserole
Wednesday:  Sweet Potato and Green Pea Curry over Brown Rice
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:   Baked Great Northern Beans with Chiles

The weekend is up in the air, will post more as the week goes on.

Have a great day,

On My Hearth: Vegetable Bean Enchiladas

I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday, headache and tummy troubles, so I probably shouldn't have eaten Mexican food..and yet I did. And I'm happy to report that this recipe was delicious and didn't cause any further "issues" whatsoever. 'Nuff said about that!

Once again, this is from The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook, page 175.  The only changes I made was to use Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas; as hard as I try, I still haven't acquired a taste for corn tortillas! Oh, and I sprinkled on a tiny bit of vegan cheddar cheese. Since it was just me eating 'em, I only cooked two and saved the rest of the filling for later. Seriously, I shouldn't have been such a glutton; one enchilada would have been sufficient but they were sooo good, I couldn't help it!

Vegetable Bean Enchiladas ingredients photo 20140727_131626_zps83psxoo4.jpg

Vegetable Bean Enchiladas in progress photo 20140727_132046_zpspzugitnw.jpg

Vegetable Bean Enchiladas in progress2 photo 20140727_132519_zpsmvvdqbmp-1.jpg

Vegetable Bean Enchiladas ready to cook photo 20140727_133018_zpstlpneyus.jpg

Vegetable Bean Enchiladas plated photo 20140727_134937_zpskfnmjpq4.jpg

Now, I realize it's Monday and I should be putting up my Menu Planning post, just a little bit behind this morning. I promise I'll have it up by this afternoon. A heads up: I will be switching to a new cookbook this week: Get Healthy, Go Vegan by Dr. Neal Barnard. I love Dr. McDougall but Dr. B will always be my crush favorite plant-based doctor. *wink* I've made many of his recipes and have never been disappointed, hope you'll fee the same.

Be back later..

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On My Hearth: Williams Crock Pot Chili

Friday night's dinner was the Williams Crock Pot Chili from The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook, as planned. As I started putting together the ingredients, I noticed that there were an awful lot of beans, and not much else! So, I added another can of tomatoes, and then knowing that Chip wouldn't be happy with completely "meat"-less chili, I threw in a bag of Boca Crumbles. I did a taste test and thought the seasonings were kinda bland, so I doubled the amount of chili powder. The end result is below:

Williams Crock Pot Chili photo 20140725_174948_zps5dwfrvqc.jpg


Williams Crock Pot Chili


  •   1          large  onion -- chopped
  •   1 1/2    teaspoons  minced garlic
  •      1/3   cup  water
  •   2        tablespoons  honey
  •   1         tablespoon  red wine vinegar
  •   1         tablespoon  paprika
  •   1         tablespoon  chili powder
  •      1/2   teaspoon  ground cumin
  •      1/2   teaspoon  cinnamon
  •      1/4    teaspoon  nutmeg
  •   3          cups  white beans, cooked
  •   3          cups  black beans, cooked
  •   1 1/2     cups  kidney beans, cooked -- or pinto beans
  •   1 1/2     cups  black-eyed peas -- cooked
  •   30         ounces  canned diced tomatoes
  •   12         ounces  Boca ground crumbles


  1. Place the onions, garlic and water in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes until soft.  Add the seasonings, mix well, and heat for 1 minute.
  2. Combine the beans, veggie crumbles and tomatoes in a Crock-Pot.  Add the onion-seasoning mixture, mix well, cover, and cook on High for 4 hours or Low 8 to 10 hours.
Source:  "The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook" Copyright 1997
                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Makes 10 Servings. Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 305 Calories; 1g Fat (3.4% calories from fat); 20g Protein; 57g Carbohydrate; 14g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 308mg Sodium. 

The Verdict: 

VeganGypsy Says: I like the slightly sweet flavor from the cinnamon but would prefer more smoke. Perhaps smoked paprika next time?  The different types of beans made it seem more like a bean stew than a chili. A nice change but I think I'll stick to my tried & true chili recipe.

OmniHunny says: Yum. (talkative chap he is, eh?)

This made so much food, I'll definitely need to freeze for future meals. I think this would be good over a baked potato or rice.

Saturday morning I got up early and coerced begged encouraged Chip to join me for a sunrise walk on the beach. It was so lovely, and though he didn't admit so, I think he might've enjoyed it just a little. *wink*

Sunrise Walk with Chip photo 20140726_063540_zpsoq2bcpo4.jpg

Yesterday we ate out twice, pretty unusual for us but we were busy with household projects & errands and neither of us felt like cooking. Lunch was at Buffalo Wild Wings. Chip has been wanting to try this place and I figured worst case scenario I could have a salad. I was pleasantly to find a couple of veg-friendly menu options. The best choice was the black bean burger which, according to the website, does contain dairy. This was one of those occasions where I decided to do my best, allowing the tiny trace of non-vegan content.

Black Bean Burger photo 20140726_121020_zpsuibvxxpe.jpg

I chose raw veggies (no dip) as my side, removed the bun and just ate the burger on a bed of lettuce, onions and pico de gallo. It was delicious! I left there feeling satisfied but not stuffed, didn't miss the bun or fatty fries at all.

Dinner was at our favorite local restaurant/bar, Grind GastroPub & Tiki Bar. I had the veggie pizza, no cheese, which is always wonderful. It was too dark to snap a picture, but you can see it here.

Today we'll be laying low, finishing up some house chores and as for dinner...I have no freaking clue! I have ingredients to make several of the meals from my menu plan, or maybe I'll be lazy and just eat leftovers.

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Making Friends

Since moving here (full time) in March, I've been trying to meet some new people, make new friends, not an easy task in mid-life! With no job nor school to "force" friendships, meeting other adults can be challenging. I have quite a few wonderful online friends, but not so many of the face-to-face variety. So, I joined a couple of meetups.

The first one, a Vegetarian/Vegan society, took place this past Sunday at a veg-friendly cafe in a nearby town. I was so excited, really looking forward to connecting with like-minded folks, but it ended up being quite a disappointment. The food was mediocre at best, and while the company might have been fabulous, the atmosphere and seating arrangement did not encourage conversation. Perhaps the group's other events will be better, but since most take place at least an hour from home, I doubt I'll be attending very often.

The next meetup we tried was a dinner/movie night. We met at a local sports bar where Chip and I have dined before so I knew there was something veg-friendly on the menu. Dinner was pleasant and the movie was good, but once again, most of the events are scheduled for a theater 30 minutes away from us. The movie dates take place on a Tuesday night, and we prefer to stay close to home on weeknights.

Last but not least, I joined a "girlfriends over 40" group. It's a very active bunch of women, have lots of different social opportunities, so I think this will be a good fit for me, if not for myself and Chip as a couple. A few days ago the organizer posted a "Weight Loss Buddy Wanted" inquiry and an invite to join Weight Watchers the next day. Well, you all know my history with WW, and I've been halfway following the program on line for a while now. So I thought, why not? Perhaps joining with a buddy will give me the motivation and additional accountability I need to reach my goal.  So, Wednesday morning three of us met, had a little chat before & after the meeting and have since been texting and arranging future "healthy" get-togethers. Next Monday we're going on an early morning beach walk, for example. I think this will be a great opportunity to hang out with some nice women while getting fit & trim!

Now, let's talk about last night's dinner. I cooked the Meaty Mushroom Stroganoff, as planned, making just a  couple of changes. I used rotini pasta instead of fettuccine, and Gardein "beef" tips because I don't think "Beyond Roast Beef" exists anymore.

The Verdict: The flavor was delicious and the texture of the meat just right, a perfect topping to the noodles. However, the gravy was much too thin, even after adding more cornstarch. Next time I'd cut back on either the almond milk or the vegetable broth. Still, not a total loss! I'll use the leftovers to top  mashed potatoes or rice later this week. Unfortunately we ate so late, the kitchen was dark so I wasn't able to take a decent pic, but it wasn't a pretty dish anyway.

Tonight I'd planned on cooking the Vegetable Bean Enchiladas but Chip has a hectic day and I have no idea when he'll be home. I'm going to save that dish for the weekend, instead rely on my Crock-pot and make the Williams Crock Pot Chili. My beans are already in the Instant Pot, will toss everything together shortly.

Have a wonderful day, TGIF!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On My Hearth: Black-Eyed Pea and Spinach Soup

I haven't been doing as much cooking as planned this week. Chip's been working out of town so I've been eating leftovers and throwing together quick meals for myself. I did, however, make the Black-Eyed Pea and Spinach Soup from The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook.

I made a couple of changes to the original recipe, here's my version:

Black-Eyed Pea & Spinach Soup photo 20140721_191915_zpsqxh0tteh.jpg


 Black-Eyed Pea and Spinach Soup



  •   2               cups  cooked black-eyed peas
  •   2 1/2           cups  vegetable broth, ready-to-serve
  •   14 1/2        ounces  canned diced tomatoes
  •   8             ounces  tomato sauce
  •   1                cup  salsa
  •   10            ounces  frozen chopped spinach
  •   2               cups  cooked brown rice


  1. Place all ingredients except for rice in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has thawed and the soup is heated through, about 15 minutes.
  2. Serve over cooked brown rice or whole wheat couscous.
Inspired by:
  "The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook"

                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Makes 6 Servings

Per Serving: 200 Calories; 2g Fat (6.7% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 39g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1105mg Sodium. 

The Verdict: I decided to use my own cooked black-eyed peas instead of the frozen variety called for in the original recipe. Dried beans are so cheap, and by using my Instant Pot they cook quickly and just taste better fresh! I also thought the soup, while very tasty, needed something to bulk it up more so I ladled it over a little cooked brown rice. This would be a great topping for couscous or a plain baked potato as well! The flavors were very nice, will definitely make this one again.

Chip will be home tonight so I'll definitely be making a hearty, "man-friendly" dish: Meaty Mushroom Stroganoff!

Have a great day,

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Menu Planning

Some of you might have noticed my absence, and the fact that I started writing a new blog which I felt was more reflective of where I am in my life right now. I'm more of a homebody and less of a gypsy..grin..and thought I should give up this site and start fresh. Well, after a couple weeks of posting, I'm back. I just didn't feel comfortable in the new space and once my friend Laura said, "you'll always be Vegan Gypsy to me" I knew that this is where I belong. Whether in my house or on the road, this little site will continue to be my cyber home. I may change my focus a bit, post a bit more about my weight loss efforts (11 pounds and counting!) and fewer "tales from the road," but I trust that you'll still join me on my journey, even if it's just to the local supermarket!

So, without further ado, I present this week's menu plan.  I will be focusing on recipes from The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook which I recently received from Paperback Swap. I've already made the Quick Spicy Lentil Chili (page 131)..

Quick Spicy Lentil Chili photo 20140719_121842_zpsrilv4ekx.jpg

and the Southwest Vegetable Burritos (page 174)..

Southwest Vegetable Burritos in Progress photo 20140719_202127_zpsoqhppnef.jpg

Southwest Vegetable Burritos photo 20140719_203524_zpsihtoiyue.jpg

which were both excellent! This week's menu will include (in no particular order):

  • Confetti Salad with veggie burgers
  • Black-Eyed Pea and Spinach Soup
  • Vegetable Grain Casserole
  • Meaty Mushroom Stroganoff
  • Seitan Curry

If you'd like to acquire the cookbook and follow along, that would be lovely! Many of the recipes have been published online as well, so I'll be sharing them when appropriate.

Hope your week is off to a great start, have a wonderful day!