Easy Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

This eggplant parmesan is prepared casserole-style and is suuuuper delicious!  My husband loved it the other day, so I’m making it again to bring to a family dinner.  It’s modified from SusanV’s recipe on her FatFree Vegan Kitchen site.  Mine’s basically a shortcut to hers, but I promise it’s still incredibly tasty!  Just faster. 😉 

*This recipe is vegan, but cannot be considered whole foods because it contains some processed ingredients.*

Easy Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, in 1/4 inch slices
  • olive oil or olive oil spray
  • whole grain breadcrumbs (I used prepackaged, but you can easily make them by toasting and crumbling whole wheat bread)
  • handful of almonds or walnuts chopped fine in a food processor (this is the parmesan “cheese”)
  • marinara sauce (I bought mine, but even better if you make your own!)
  • fresh basil
  • “cheese” sauce:
    • 1/2 block tofu
    • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
    • 1/8 cup raw cashews
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 1/2 T nutritional yeast flakes
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/8 tsp black or white pepper
    • 2 tsp cornstarch

Directions:

  • After slicing the eggplant, put it in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and let them sweat while  you’re making the cheese sauce.
  • To prepare the cheese sauce, place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until the mixture is nice and smooth.  If you let it sit awhile before assembling the casserole, you might have to blend the “cheese” again as it may have separated.
  • Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with a paper towel.  Lightly spray or coat a baking sheet with olive oil, arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer, and coat the tops lightly with olive oil.  Place the baking sheet under the broiler and watch them CAREFULLY!  Remove them when they begin to brown.  This may take as little as 3 minutes, though in my oven it is always a little longer.  Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices if they didn’t all fit on the baking sheet.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  • Assemble your casserole in an 8×8 dish lightly coated with olive oil.  First, place half the eggplant slices on the bottom of the dish, edges overlapping.  Next, sprinkle with half the breadcrumbs and half the marinara sauce.  Then, pour half the cheese sauce over the sauce and sprinkle with half the chopped nuts (or vegan parmesan, if you prefer).
  • Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients and finish with some breadcrumbs on top.
  • Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until slightly brown on top.  Top with fresh basil just before serving.
  • Makes 4 servings.
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My New Favorite Vegan Cookbook- Naturally Gourmet

A few months ago, one of my husband’s relatives gave us a vegan cookbook- Naturally Gourmet by Karen Houghton.  The recipes are all pretty simple and easy and, so far, all of the dishes have been VERY tasty!  I actually made every single dish at our recent Christmas dinner from recipes in this book:

  • Lentil Roast
  • Zucchini Casserole
  • Whipped Potatoes
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Pear Pie

I’m a pretty big fan of pumpkin pie, so I’ve been extremely interested in finding a good vegan pumpkin pie.  This cookbook just happens to have the best vegan pumpkin pie recipe that I have EVER tasted!

Other recipes I’ve made and really liked:

  • Brazilian Salad
  • Lentil Soup
  • Eggplant & Garbanzo Ratatouille
  • Indian Lentils and Rice
  • Mushroom Gravy- my husband really loves this one!
  • Vegetable Pot Pie
  • Pesto Pizza
  • Apple Walnut Muffins- YUM!

As you can see, the recipes don’t have fancy names.  They usually don’t have fancy ingredients either, which I like.  My ONLY complaint would be that sometimes they call for processed products (such as Better Than Sour Cream).  However, a lot of the recipes don’t, and often you can make your own substitutions. Oh, and here’s the really great part- EVERY recipe in the book is accompanied by a full-page beautiful color picture of the finished product.  As a visual learner, I really respond to this type of cookbook, and so do my digestive juices  🙂  I also love that the cooking directions are simple and to-the-point.  Read-with-a-dictionary words can be fun, but not when I’m a hurry to get some dinner on the table.

Here’s something you can try at home right now- a mushroom gravy recipe that I adapted from the one in Naturally Gourmet.

Vegan Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 T La Chikky Seasoning (or similar MSG-free vegetarian chicken or beef seasoning)

    I really love this stuff

  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3-4 fresh mushrooms

Blend water and cashews until creamy.  Add cornstarch, vegetarian chicken seasoning and salt.  Blend well.  Add mushrooms and blend briefly.  Cook gravy in a kettle until thickened, stirring frequently.  Serves 6.

Many of the recipes in Naturally Gourmet use their version of this basic gravy recipe.  I changed it just a tad based on the ingredients I preferred or usually had on hand.  It is delicious over mashed potatoes, in a vegetarian pot pie, or over toast!  If you like it, I would highly recommend this cookbook, especially if you’re new to vegan cooking.  It’s my current go-to when I’m looking for weekday recipes to try.

“Cheese” Sauce

This recipe is adapted from one posted by SusanV on FatFree Vegan Kitchen.  I didn’t have all of the ingredients so, as usual, I made crazyish substitutions and hoped it would turn out…. and it tastes good!  I’m using it in an also-modified version of SusanV’s eggplant parmesan recipe

“Cheese” Sauce

  • half a block of extra-firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (I like Pacific Natural Foods brand)
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. corn starch

Just put it all in a blender and turn it on- doesn’t get easier than that!

Note: this recipe contains a few processed ingredients, the most notorious of which is tofu.  While I have GREATLY reduced my consumption of soy and soy products, including tofu, I will still eat it occasionally.  Please don’t crucify me, soy protesters!

Roasted Potatoes with Lemon and Dill

Prebaking: Everything except the dill

I’m sitting here feeling very guilty that I haven’t posted anything in awhile.  I’ve actually tried several RAVE recipes that I haven’t written about yet.  And it’s NOT because I haven’t been sticking with whole foods, I’m happy to say!  Well, I’ve had a few slip-ups and exceptions, of course, but the couple of times where I just threw everything out and decided to, I don’t know, eat a bunch of cheese or something, I found that after just a bit of it I was completely sick of it and wanted to eat some whole foods again!  So I’m still eating whole foods and still loving it.  I’ve relaxed my standards a bit from what I was doing during the months of January and February, but I’ve really never been this consistently healthy in my dietary habits for so long, and I’m beginning to think it may last.  I’ve found that once I’ve switched to a healthy diet, my body really gets a lot better at recognizing the bad stuff and reacting to it.  A little dairy and, wow, I really see it in my skin!

I need to really get cracking on all my RAVE recipes if I’m going to make my August 13 deadline, but it’s tough when there are so many great whole food recipes elsewhere that I’m dying to try!  Last Friday I made a recipe I found in the latest issue of Real Simple.  It was truly simple, but delicious as well.  My husband didn’t like the lemon so much, but I thought it was nice and different.  The potatoes I used were a liiiittle bigger than they should have been, so I probably should have increased the baking time a bit, but they were just barely done. It might be good to try this recipe with just the olive oil, dill, and rosemary if you’re not into roasted lemon.

Ingredients (you can also find the recipe from it’s original source here, as well as the delicious-looking picture the lured me in 🙂 ):

  • 2 pounds new potatoes, halves
  • 1 thinly sliced lemon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss all ingredients (except the dill) on a baking sheet (or a large baking dish, like I used).
  2. Roast for 30-35 minutes until tender, tossing once.  Toss with the dill before serving.  Enjoy!

After baking: chopped fresh dill mixed in

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #13- Mangorugula Smoothie

We renamed RAVE Smoothie #5 “Mangorugula” Smoothie in honor of it’s two main ingredients: mango and arugula.  This smoothie, unfortunately, was very bitter and earned only a 4 from me and a 3 from my husband.  I made this one late at night and forgot to snap a picture, but it was very very bright green, much like  the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Kiwi” Smoothie.  I would drink this smoothie again if I had to, but some of the other ones I’ve made were much tastier, even Baby Poop Smoothie 🙂

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #12- Sweet Potato Fries

I couldn’t stop eating these deliciously sweet fries!  My husband and I both rated Sweet Potato Fries an 8.  This was actually the first sweet potato fry recipe I have tried in which the fries have actually turned out a little bit crispy, so that was exciting.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, cut like fries (this is time intensive, but worth it)
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Toss cut vegetables, broth, & cinnamon in a bowl.  Transfer to baking sheet.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for about 50 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  During the last 30 minutes of baking, toss occasionally.  At the end of baking, toss with maple syrup.

This recipe is GUARANTEED to smell delicious while cooking and taste the same!  It’s sweet enough to almost be a dessert without being overpoweringly so.  I can’t wait to have this again (not looking forward  to chopping the potatoes, though, haha!)

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #11- Braised Collards or Kale

This recipe works for both kale and collard greens.  I chose to make kale this time.  Kale is supposed to be extremely good for a person- packed with vitamins and nutrients that can protect you against oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and cancer.

My husband rated Braised Kale an 8 and I rated it a 7.  Here’s how to make it for yourself:

  • 1 bunch collard greens or kale (6-8 cups chopped)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp low-sodium Tamari (soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Wash greens, remove stems, then chop leaves into 1/2-inch wide strips (this helps ensure even cooking).  Combine broth, Tamari, vinegar, garlic, and water in a large pot or skillet.  Cook over high heat about 30 sec.  Reduce heat to medium-high, add chopped greens, and toss to mix.  Cover and cook, stirring often, until greens are tender, about 5 minutes (steaming kale actually increases its ability to perform functions such as lowering cholesterol).

This recipe was tasty and very easy!  We combined it with Sweet Potato Fries and the Aristotle Was Wrong Smoothie for a tasty and nutritious dinner.  🙂

Braised Kale, Sweet Potatoe Fries, and Aristotle Was Wrong Smoothie made a tasty meal!