African Peanut Stew (Plant-Based) – Instant Pot

Wholesome and spicy, with all the good Morrocan flavors.  This African Peanut Stew is made in a pressure cooker – I used my Instant Pot.  It is oil-free, vegan, and full of flavor!  The African Peanut Stew is made with wholesome vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, and canned tomatoes.  Add in some spices, and creamy peanut butter and you’ve got a rich, flavorful stew.

african peanut stew in white bowl


I first found an African Peanut Stew recipe on the Clean Food Dirty Girl Website.  If you haven’t visited that site, you should.  Lot’s of wisdom there…and crazy delicious food!  I tweaked the recipe for my family’s taste and for the Instant Pot too:) I hope you enjoy!

If you like this recipe try my Creamy Vegetable Pasta Soup (Instant Pot), my Best Vegan Mac and Cheese, or my  Veggie Lentil Soup – all made in the Instant Pot!


  • Start by measuring out and mixing the spices and set aside so they will be ready to go. Please note, the recipe calls for 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper.  Unless you know for sure that you like it hot, start with 1/4 teaspoon.  You can always add in more after it cooks.
spiced for African Peanut Stew
Aren’t these spices beautiful! Go ahead and mix them up now!
  • Next, cut the onion and the carrots into bite-sized pieces.
  • Put the cut onion and carrots in the Instant Pot (or another pressure cooker) along with some vegetable broth and select the sauté function to get the cooking process started.
  • If your pressure cooker does not have a sauté function, you will want to do it on the stove top.  This ensures that you won’t have crunchy veggies. Watch the bottom of the pan and add a little more vegetable broth if it starts to burn.  If the bottom of your pan has any burn or scorch, it may not come to pressure.


  • While the onions and carrots are sautéing, you can prepare the bell pepper and sweet potatoes. Don’t let the onion/carrot mixture cook for more than five minutes though.  If you are taking longer than that to cut the other vegetables, turn off the Instant Pot.
peeled sweet potato for African Peanut Stew
Roughly peel your sweet potato.
sweet potato cut for African Peanut Stew
Cut the sweet potato into slices, then strips, and dice.
  • Add in the cut sweet potatoes, bell pepper, minced garlic, and ginger.  One short-cut I almost always take is to use jarred/packaged already minced garlic and ginger.  Especially ginger – it’s just freakishly hard to peel and mince properly.
garlic and ginger for African Peanut Stew
Use jarred ginger and garlic for ease of preparation.
  • Continue with adding the spices, and crushed tomatoes and stir around to mix well.

Finally the Star of the Show: The Peanut Butter!

natural peanut butter
Use a natural peanut butter that is oil-free and sugar-free.

This is called African PEANUT Stew for a reason – it’s full of peanut-y goodness.  Because I don’t want to use added processed oils, I use peanut butter that is basically peanuts and a little sea salt. (Note – this recipe does indeed contain fat, the peanuts.  This is a natural fat and not an added processed oil that you can get with most peanut butter.)

Measuring out peanut butter can be messy – plus, when some is left in the measuring cup, I’m never sure I’m getting it all. Here is a trick my mamma taught me. You can measure peanut butter easily and with less mess by using the displacement method. First, get a liquid measuring cup and fill it with 1 cup of liquid. I prefer to use the broth that will be going into my soup, but you can use water. Next, scoop out the peanut butter and put in the measuring cup until the liquid level measures 1 ¾ cup. Voila! Pour that into your soup (or just the peanut butter if you used water) and smile about not having to clean sticky peanut butter out of a measuring cup.

Plop the peanut butter in the broth. It can be an easy way to measure it out.
Measure out the broth first, then add peanut butter till it measures up to the total for both.
Melted peanut butter in broth.
Microwave the peanut butter along with some of the broth so that it melts and mixes in easier.

For this recipe, we will be microwaving the peanut butter along with some of the broth and mix well so that it easily pours over the other ingredients already in the Instant Pot.  Finish adding all broth/peanut butter.


Honestly, I have never used a pressure cooker other than (affiliate link) the Instant Pot.  Why would I? I have my Instant Pot and love it so!  It is multi-functional and produces consistent results Since I have never used another brand, I will assume you know how to use yours.  The following directions are for the Instant Pot 6qt.  You could use the 8 qt without problems.  (If you have a 3qt you might need to do an ingredient adjustment.  Read your owner’s manual and do not fill to full capacity or it won’t come to pressure.)

Instant Pot set for 10 minutes for African Peanut Stew


Close the lid, making sure the vent is closed.  Use the manual mode and set the timer for 10 minutes.  It will take some time to come to pressure. Once it is finished and the timer goes off, do a natural release for 20 minutes.  If it hasn’t finished releasing pressure by then, give it a little help by carefully opening the vent to finish releasing the pressure.



Open the lid and add in 5 ounces of fresh baby spinach. Give it a stir and the spinach will wilt.african peanut stew with spinach in instant pot

Put the peanuts in a baggie and crush with a rolling pin. You will still want some big nutty chunks so the rolling pin method is perfect!




I like to top off this flavorful African Peanut Stew with some crushed peanuts for good measure! Use a rolling pin, it’s easier that way

rolling pin crushing peanuts


This African Peanut Stew is perfect for meal prep.  I like to add in the nuts at the last minute though and so portion them into little containers. 

african peanut sew meal prep
All meal-prepped and ready to go. I like to keep my peanuts n a separate little container so that they will retain their crunch.





I took my African Peanut Stew to a work pot luck the other day.  You MUST MUST MUST disclose that this recipe contains peanuts!  I think I did a pretty good job of it:

African Peanut Soup
Always inform people you share with that this recipe contains peanuts.
african peanut soup

African Peanut Stew - Instant Pot (Vegan)

This African Peanut Stew is made in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker.  It is plant-based and is processed-oil free.  It uses sweet potatoes, carrots, onions,  and bell pepper.  The recipe includes Moroccan spices and creamy peanut butter.
4.63 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan African Peanut Stew Instant Pot
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Natural Release: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 225kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey



  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper depending on taste -
  • 1/4 teaspoon black ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

All Other Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 red bell pepper about 1 cup
  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger peel or used prepared
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes canned
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter natural and creamy
  • 2 1/2 cup vegetable broth more to sauté onions and carrots
  • 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup chopped peanuts for garnish


  • Mix together spices and set aside.
  • Cut onion and carrots into bite-sized pieces.
  • Line the Instant Pot with a small amount of vegetable broth and sauté onions and carrots until they begin to soften - no more than 5 minutes.  Watch the bottom of the pan and add more broth so that it doesn't stick.  Turn off the pot.
  • While you are sautéing the onions and carrots, cut the other vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add the other vegetables, along with the garlic, ginger and spices and stir till well mixed and coated. 
  • Add can of tomatoes as well as the maple syrup, stirring to mix well.
  • Melt the peanut butter along with about half of the vegetable broth in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Stir together and pour on top of the mixture along with the remaining vegetable broth.
  • Close lid and make sure the vent is closed.
  • Use the manual mode and set to 10 minutes high pressure.  It will take a while to come to pressure but will start counting down once it has. 
  • Once the timer has counted down, do a "natural release" and allow the instant pot to sit for about 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes if the pressure has not released, you may finish releasing by carefully opening the vent with an implement of some sort. 

  • Open the lid and stir in the 5 ounces of washed baby spinach.  Top with crushed peanuts if desired. 


  1. You must disclose to anyone you serve this recipe to that it contains peanuts!
  2. Unless you know you like it spicy, start with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne.  After it has cooked, you can always add in a little more. 


Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1092mg | Potassium: 957mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 258.9% | Vitamin C: 58.6% | Calcium: 11.9% | Iron: 19.9%

african peanut soup

Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole – Vegan

This  Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole is vegan and easy to make.  It is full of fresh vegetables, is dairy free, and does not use added oils (except what you will find in the tortillas and if you choose to add vegan butter to the potatoes.   It is super easy to throw together because you use frozen mixed vegetables, jarred salsa verde, boxed mashed potatoes, and canned beans. The only vegetable you will have to cut is your zucchini of choice (I used Mexican Gray Squash).

*Affiliate links – This post will contain Amazon affiliate links.  If you scroll through you will see products I used that you can purchase on amazon.com. If you click on and purchase through one of these links, Veggie Fun Kitchen might receive compensation at no extra cost to you. 


Start by cutting the zucchini into small bite-sized pieces.  My favorite type of zucchini is the Mexican Gray squash.  I like the flavor and the texture when it cooks up.  Give it a try if you haven’t!

zucchini diced for Mexican Casserole
Cut your pieces about the size of a dice or smaller.

Vegetables sautéing for Mexican Casserole



Line the sauté pan with enough vegetable broth to cover the bottom.  We don’t need to cook with added oils! Just watch your pan so that it doesn’t dry up and begin to stick.  Add a little more broth if necessary.  Sauté for about 3 minutes or until the zucchini begins to soften.



Add in the mixed frozen vegetables, and chili beans. Do not drain the chili beans.  You will want that yummy flavored chili sauce!

Frozen mixed vegetables for Mexican Casserole
Use 16 ounces of frozen mixed vegetables
Chili beans for Mexican Casserole
Make sure to use the chili beans/black beans and do not drain.

Add in the onion powder and garlic powder.  Continue sautéing for a few more minutes or until the vegetables are softened and the flavors have mixed. Set aside.


Now start working on the mashed potatoes.  Did you think you would be using mashed potatoes in a Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole?  We use the mashed potatoes along with a “secret ingredient” to give a cheesy flavor to this vegan dish – without having to use the fake oily vegan cheese!  You can use real potatoes if you prefer. But we don’t always have time for that and because this recipe is categorized as Quick and Easy, we used the dehydrated potato flakes.

Mix your mashed potatoes using the directions for four servings. For reference, four servings is 1 1/3 cup potato flakes each. Follow the cooking directions on the package BUT do use vegetable broth instead of water and unsweetened plant milk rather than dairy milk. I did not add in the salt because the recipe is plenty salty as is – but do adjust for your taste preference. You can choose to add the vegan butter or not.  I have not found any vegan butter that is oil-free. If you feel you need it for taste, just be aware that you are adding in oil. I use Earth Balance Buttery Spread – but use what you typically use.

And now for the secret ingredient: Nutritional Yeast!  Nutritional yeast is NOT the same as brewer’s or baker’s yeast so DO NOT substitute either of those.  It adds a cheesy tang to your recipe and is really a staple in a plant-based kitchen. In fact, we plant eaters have a nickname for it – NOOTCH!  It can be a little challenging to find.  At the grocery store, I have found it in the “health food” or gluten-free section.  I’ve also found it with the grains…so no real consistency.  I usually just buy mine from Amazon.  It’s cool because I can just ask Alexa to order me some more and she does it lol!

Here are a few different brands of nutritional yeast I’ve used.  Sometimes you have to experiment a little to find the one you like.  Not everyone likes the flavor of nutritional yeast at the beginning.  It can be a learned taste…


Now for the fun part – layering and putting it all together.  This is really more like a lasagna – you need to layer in a particular order for best results.  Just follow along with me and it will be perfect! The directions will be numbered in the printable recipe.

Salsa Verde for Mexican Casserole
I use mild salsa. If you prefer more spice, you can use a medium or hot.



In a 9×13″ casserole dish, spoon about third a jar of salsa verde on the bottom of the pan for the first layer.  Spread it evenly.

Next, lay two tortillas on top – breaking apart to cover the salsa layer.  You will be using about nine 10″ tortillas in the recipe.

Tortillas layered in the pan for Mexican Casserole
Tear the tortillas to form and fully cover a single layer.


Then layer in one half the vegetable mixture. Top again with two more tortillas – again, breaking apart for full coverage.

Tortillas and vegetables layered in the pan for Mexican Casserole
Layer in order according to directions.

Now you carefully drop spoonfuls of the mashed potato mixture on the top of the tortilla layer and press/spread until the tortillas are evenly covered. This is the middle layer and so you are half-way done!Mashed potatoes in Mexican Casserole

Cover the potato with 1/3 jar of salsa, spreading evening, covering with another layer of tortillas, followed by the rest of the vegetables.  Finally, you cover the second vegetable layer with tortillas and top with the remaining salsa.

Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole - easy and vegan



Cover and bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes.  I let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting into it.  This recipe for Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole makes six generous servings.  You can top with cilantro or some avocado if desired.  This recipe works great for meal prep.  Just portion out into six meal prep containers. 

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Easy Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole - Vegan

Easy Vegan Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole on the plate

Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole - Vegan

This Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole is meat and dairy free. It is full of vegetables and flavor.  It is easy to through together because you use frozen vegetables, jarred salsa and canned beans. 
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Easy Vegan Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 314kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


Vegetable Layer

  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth you will use more in the potatoes
  • 1 Mexican Gray Squash
  • 16 ounces frozen mixed vegetables
  • 15.5 ounces can chili beans - black beans
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mashed Potato Layer

  • 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons vegan butter do not add if wanting to eat oil-free
  • 3.4 cup plant milk (such as soy or almond) unsweetened
  • 1 1/3 cup potato flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

Putting it all Together

  • 20 ounces salsa verde I used mild.
  • 9 10" round tortillas I used whole wheat


  • Preheat oven to 350°

The Vegetable Layer

  • Chop zucchini/Mexican Gray Squash into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside. 
  • Add enough vegetable broth to line the bottom of sauté pan. Sauté zucchini for about 3 minutes or until it begins to soften. Watch the bottom of your pan so that the broth does not dry out or pan begin to stick.  Add more broth if necessary.
  • Add the frozen mixed vegetables, black chili beans, onion and garlic powders.  Do not drain the chili bean liquid/sauce from the can, but add it to the mixture.  
  • Continue sautéing a few more minutes or until vegetables have softened and the flavors have mixed well. Set aside.

The Mashed Potato Layer

  • In a sauce pan, bring vegetable broth, vegan butter (if using) and plant milk to a gentle boil.  Remove from heat.
  • Stir in dehydrated potato flakes and nutritional yeast.  Add salt if desired.

Putting it All Together!

  • Layer and spread in a 9x13" pan in this order:
     1/3 jar of salsa verde,
    two tortillas - tear to fit and cover the salsa layer,
     1/2 vegetable mixture,
     2 more tortillas - tear to fit and cover the vegetable layer,
    mashed potatoes - use all of the potatoes. Carefully spread over vegetable layer,
    1/3 jar of salsa verde,
    2 1/2 tortillas - tear to fit and cover the salsa layer,
    1/2 (remaining) vegetable mixture,
    2 1/2 tortillas - tear to fit and cover the vegetable layer,
    1/3 jar (remaining) salsa verde
  • Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes.  Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.


Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1705mg | Potassium: 1159mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 103.1% | Vitamin C: 35.6% | Calcium: 22.4% | Iron: 18.1%

Easy Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, Plant-Based

Plant-based cooking can be super challenging with recipes that call for a long list of ingredients and have many steps.  It doesn’t have to be though.  As long as you are willing to take a few simple short cuts and use a few canned/boxed ingredients, your life can still be easy and your food still delicious.  This Easy Lentil Shepherd’s Pie is just that: easy AND delicious! This is a recipe for which you won’t even have to chop a single vegetable!

Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

*Affiliate Links* – This post will contain Amazon Affiliate links.  This means that if you click on and purchase through one of these links, Veggie Fun Kitchen may receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

Shepherd’s pie was always one of my favorite comfort foods growing up.  I loved the creamy potatoes and savory vegetables but honestly – even back before my plant-eating days – I would pick the meat out and throw it in the trash when my parents weren’t looking. Shepherd’s pie has been around for centuries.  According to Jamie Oliver’s page, it should only be called shepherd’s pie if it contains lamb and cottage pie with any other meat. And meatless pie should be called ”Shepherdless Pie”…whatever.  I might have rather called it “Gardener’s Pie” or “Kindness Pie”; but then you might not have been able to find it when you googled!  Let’s just call this a really tasty easy shepherd’s pie with filled with good-for-you vegetables and lentils!

Easy Lentil Shepherd's PieStart with a few simple ingredients.  I like to buy my lentils already steamed. They can often be found in the produce section of the grocery store. If you aren’t able to find pre-cooked lentils, they are actually pretty easy to make on the stove-top.  Follow the package directions for a yield of 2 cups, cooked.

As promised, you won’t have to chop a single vegetable for this recipe!  That’s right, just use a 16 ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables and dehydrated minced onions.  Line the sauté pan with a little vegetable broth to keep the vegetables from sticking.

Easy Lentil Shepherd's PieAdd the dried minced onion and stir around for a minute so that the onion begins to rehydrate.  Then add the vegetables on top and sauté for about 5 minutes in the vegetable broth so that the vegetables have mostly thawed. (You will want to watch your pan carefully and add more broth if the vegetables begin to stick.)  Add in the cooked lentils and the cup of vegetable broth, arrowroot starch (can sub corn starch) thyme and salt. Stir until well mixed and bubbly. The “gravy” should begin to thicken as well.

Pour into a 7″x11″ baking pan and set aside.  This is really the best size pan for the recipe.  If you don’t have that though, a 9″x9″ deep pan will probably work. Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie


Some people would shudder at the idea of using potato flakes to make the mashed potatoes.  Others would shudder at the thought of actually boiling the potatoes and mashing them.  On days when I don’t have a lot of time or patience, I definitely go with the boxed potato flakes.  By adding nutritional yeast to the potato flakes, you get an almost cheesy flavor.  

Do follow this recipe but look on the back of the package directions for four servings. They should be the same. This should be 1 1/3 cups flakes. 

Sub in vegetable broth for the water and unsweetened plant milk for the dairy milk. The directions call for butter.  I use my favorite vegan buttery spread.  If you are trying to eat oil-free, then leave out the vegan butter; but add in the salt.

When I cook this recipe for Easy Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, I do not add salt to the potatoes.  The nutritional yeast and buttery spread make it plenty salty for my family.  Do taste though, and add salt if desired.

After you mix your potatoes, carefully spread them on top of the vegetable/lentil mixture.  Sprinkle a little paprika on top and cook in a preheated 375° oven for about 20 minutes or until the casserole is heated through and the potatoes are slightly browned on top.

This Easy Lentil Shepherd’s Pie works great for meal prep.  It only makes four though, so double it and cook in a larger baking pan if you will want more. Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie
Great for meal prep!

These are some items I found helpful in making this recipe.  Amazon Affiliate Links:

Pin now to save for later:Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

The Easy Lentil Shepherd's pie is plant-based and uses frozen and boxed ingredients for a quick delicious recipe. 
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 276kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


Vegetable/ Lentil Mixture

  • 2 Tablespoons Dehydrated Onion Flakes
  • 1 16 ounce package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups cooked lentils brown or green
  • 1 cup vegetable broth plus extra for sautéing
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot starch can sub cornstarch

Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons vegan butter leave out if trying to eat oil-free
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened plant milk
  • 1 1/3 cup potato flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast


Vegetable/Lentil Mixture

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Line a sauté pan with vegetable broth.  Add the dehydrated onion flakes and stir around will rehydrate. 
  • Add frozen vegetables and continue stirring until vegetables are mostly thawed.
  • Add cooked lentils, seasonings, starch, and vegetable broth.  Stir until heated through and bubbly.  The sauce should begin to thicken.
  • Turn into a small (7"x11") baking dish.  Set aside while preparing potatoes. 

Mashed Potatoes

  • Bring vegetable broth and vegan butter to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.
  • Add potato flakes, nutritional yeast, and plant milk.  Stir until well mixed.  Taste and add salt if desired.
  • Gently spoon mashed potatoes onto the vegetable/lentil layer and spread evenly with a spoon.  Sprinkle a little paprika on top and bake at 375° for about 20 minutes or until heated through and potatoes have firmed up and slightly browned on top.


Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1310mg | Potassium: 746mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 14.2% | Vitamin C: 21.4% | Calcium: 7.9% | Iron: 24.3%

Vegan Chili with Walnuts (The Prize Winner!)

This vegan chili is the bomb!  It is oil-free  and uses diced walnuts – not as a meat replacement – but for texture…and a little protein (because “where do we get our protein?” haha)  It’s super easy because it uses  canned beans and tomatoes.  It also has a few secret ingredients. Read on for more info. Give this Vegan Chili a try. You won’t be sorry!

First things first…this chili DOES contain nuts! Chili normally does not contain nuts.  If you ever serve this to others (and believe me, you’ll want to), don’t try to “pass” it off as non-vegan chili.  Nuts normally aren’t in chili and you are responsible to make others aware.Chili in white bowl with corn chips and bell peppers

Now that that important little detail is out of the way…Would it be presumptuous to call this the BEST DAMN Vegan Chili around?  You might wonder…  But yes, I have won a contest with this chili!  It’s always a big hit when I make it for family or friends too.  You could top it with the fake vegan cheese if you like. To keep it truly plant-based though, try my Chili Cheese Sauce and/or my Jalapeño Ranch Dressing.  Both are awesome toppings – just use one or go for both!

Start with diced onion and minced garlic. Years ago I discovered minced garlic in a jar and will never go back! Ever!  When a recipe calls for 1 clove of garlic, I just kinda eyeball it and pull out a rough teaspoon for each clove.  Garlic cloves are often different sizes anyway; so I’ve always gone with the theory of “close enough” on this one.vegan chili

Sauté the diced onion and garlic with vegetable broth.  That’s right; you don’t need oil!  Cover the bottom of your pan with the broth and then watch to make sure it isn’t burning.  The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and while that’s about right, always check to make sure the bottom of the pan isn’t drying up, and add more if necessary.

Chop the red and a green bell peppers and add to the onion-garlic mixture.  Continue to sauté until the onion is translucent and the peppers are soft.

vegan chili
Isn’t this platter of peppers and onions beautiful?!

Add the seasonings, beer, diced walnuts, and canned items.  Make sure the beans you get are “chili” style. They already have some seasoning in them and so you can just open and dump without draining. In fact, the only canned item you’ll need to drain is the corn.

vegan chlli
This chili pulls together quickly because you use canned goods. Shhhh…no one has to know!

Wait! Did I say beer?  That’s right:) One 12 ounce can of beer adds just a little something-something to make this chili fabulous! The fact that this chili contains alcohol is another important disclosure you must make if serving to others.  Not everybody is a fan (as in: not everybody can drink alcohol for various reasons) and it does not necessarily “cookout” in the amount of time this recipe will be on the stove.  If you choose to not use beer in your chili, no problem.  Just sub in 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) vegetable broth.  It will still be fabulous.

I use a small can of mild green chilis when I’m making this vegan chili for my family because they don’t enjoy their food too spicey. If you enjoy a little extra heat, you should use a can of jalapeños instead.  You can also add more or drop in a little hot sauce on top.

While you are bringing the chili to a boil, mix together the cornstarch with water, cocoa powder, and a little agave nectar or (real) maple syrup.

What? Chocolate?  Yes indeed! This is the final secret ingredient.  I always just said I was giving my chili a little extra love when in fact I was giving it chocolate.  Cocoa powder along with the tiniest amount of sweetener cuts through the acidic tomato and gives your chili a little extra special richness.

vegan chili
The “secret ingredient” I’ve been adding to my chili for years!

Bring to a boil and then simmer on the stove for two hours so that all the flavors have a chance to meld together.  Add a little extra salt to taste, some hot sauce, chips, hot peppers,  and toppings of choice.  I like to top with my awesome Vegan Chili Cheese Sauce and Jalapeño Ranch.Vegan Chili






Vegan Chili
Pin this fabulous vegan chili NOW so you don’t lose it!


Chili in white bowl with corn chips and bell peppers

Vegan Chili with Walnuts (The Prize Winner!)

This Vegan Chili is plant-based and oil-free.  It uses diced walnuts, canned beans and tomatoes.  
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Chili
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 9 people
Calories: 257kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth Add more to keep from scorching
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 10 ounces walnuts diced
  • 12 ounces beer Sub vegetable broth if desired
  • 4 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt add more at the end for taste
  • 1 15 oz can pinto chili beans undrained
  • 1 15 oz can black chili beans undrained
  • 1 15 oz can kidney chili beans undrained
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes undrained
  • 1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes undrained
  • 1 8 oz can corn drained
  • 1 4 oz can green chilis sub jalapeños for more heat
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder unsweetened
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar can sub real maple syrup


  • Dice vegetables and set aside.
  • Line a large stew pot with vegetable broth - about 1/2 cup. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic.  Sauté till onions are translucent.  Watch bottom of pan and add more broth if necessary so that it doesn't run dry and scorch. 
  • Add seasoning, diced walnuts, beer, and all canned ingredients including beans, tomatoes, corn, and diced chilis. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  • While chili mixture is coming to a boil, stir together water, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and agave.  Stir into pot.
  • Bring to a boil for a few minutes then reduce heat and simmer for the next two hours, covered.


You MUST disclose to anyone you are serving this chili to that it contains nuts and alcohol.  Not disclosing the nuts could have serious health consequences.  Nuts normally wouldn't be found in chili so it is especially important that you disclose. 


Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 505mg | Potassium: 299mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 32.1% | Vitamin C: 35.3% | Calcium: 5.5% | Iron: 11%

Mango Rice and Black Bean Salad

This mango rice and black bean salad is quick and easy, kid friendly, and plant-based too.  It is quick to throw together, is mildly seasoned and is part of my back-to-school lunch box post which you can find here. (This post may contain affiliate links.  Clicking on the links may earn Veggie Fun Kitchen compensation at no additional cost to you.)

I was putting together a black bean salad with rice and for the lunch box project I was working on, but found it was missing a little something: it was needing a sweet zing.  Luckily, I had just bought a bowl of cut mangos to munch on, and that was just the trick it needed! Have I ever mentioned how I hate to cut mangos? It took me countless miserable times to realize that you don’t peel the skin first!  Let me save you the headache with this article by Real Simple. I’ve since learned, but still can’t resist buying a bowl of conveniently cut fruit.  Mango Rice Salad

precooked riceAlso, to make life a little easier on myself, I use the precooked rice and canned beans. You can find several different brands to buy, however, this is the brand of rice that I usually end up with.  The price is right, and the rice is perfectly portioned into 1 cup containers.

So cut up your mangos, drain rinse and portion your beans, and then chop up your roasted red peppers.  And yes, you have to know I use a jarred roasted red peppers as well! Honestly, if I thought it would make a difference I would work all day in the kitchen, steaming rice, cooking beans and roasting read peppers. (No, I wouldn’t…)

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The secret ingredient that pulls it all together is coconut aminos (affiliate link). Coconut aminos have a mild, slightly Coconut Aminossweet soy sauce-like taste but is lower in sodium than soy sauce.


Toss it all together for an easy mildly seasoned mango rice black bean salad that even kids will like!  You can make it up to several days ahead of time.  Just keep in an airtight container in the fridge.

Black Bean Salad

Black Bean Salad

Mango Rice Black Bean Salad

This mango rice black bean salad is super easy to make.  It's mildly flavored and kid friendly.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Salad, school lunch box
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 16 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 194kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


  • 1 cup rice precooked
  • 1/2 cup mango cut
  • 1/2 cup black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut aminos
  • chopped cilantro to taste


  • Cook the rice and drain/rinse the beans.
  • Toss all ingredients together.


Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 6g | Sodium: 414mg | Potassium: 353mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 10.7% | Vitamin C: 28.1% | Calcium: 4.5% | Iron: 9.9%


Pasta Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

This pasta salad with dijon vinaigrette is tossed together with bite-sized pasta, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes,  baby spinach, and fresh basil.  Unite these delicious bites with a dijon vinaigrette and you’ve got a tasty main course meal that is vegan and plant-based.  This pasta salad with dijon vinaigrette is also perfect for meal prep.  Cook the night before and bring out on a hot end-of-summer day to enjoy. (This post may contain affiliate links.  Clicking on the link may earn Veggie Fun Kitchen compensation at no additional cost to you.)

The fun part about this pasta salad is that you can change it up with different bite-sized pastas each time you make it.  I thought this tri-colored corkscrew pasta would be fun.  Use wholewheat or gluten free if desired. When you are looking for a vegan compliant pasta, make sure to check the ingredients as many pastas are made with eggs.

Cook your pasta according to package directions.  When it is finished, remove from heat immediately and run under cold water.

While the pasta is cooking, make the dijon vinaigrette. A few secret ingredients are, coconut aminos, tahini, and agave.  Whisk all ingredients together and set in the refrigerator to cool. (Affiliate links)Dijon Vinaigrette in Bowl

Drain and rinse the chickpeas,  cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and thinly slice the fresh basil.  Look at these beautiful dark red cherry tomatoes!Cherry Tomatoes Cut


They are from Houweling’s Tomatoes and the are labeled as “chockberry”  (not chokeberry) variety. I have never heard of then and so I looked it up. Unfortunately I have not found any further information about this variety.  I did email Houweling’s to ask about them. Hopefully they will respond.




I like to use the living basil plant you can buy in the produce section.  That way I can pretend that maybe…just maybe, I actually grew it myself!Basil Chopped

Pasta Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette Tossed

Toss it altogether, with the baby spinach and  some nutritional yeast – yes, I use this a lot in my cooking because it adds a certain tart cheesy flavor.


This is a great dish for meal prep.  It keeps well for a few days and is so easy to just pull and and eat cold. No heating involved on a hot end-of-summer day!



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Pasta Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Pasta Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

This pasta salad with dijon vinaigrette is simple to make with pasta, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and baby spinach.  Toss in the dijon vinaigrette for a full flavor.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Plant-based, quick and easy, vegan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 299kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


  • 8 ounces pasta bite-sized

Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 2 Tablespoons agave
  • 1 Tablespoon Tahini
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

All the Rest

  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 20 cherry tomatoes halfed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • vegan parmesan cheese optional to garnish


  • Boil pasta according to package directions.  Take off heat immediately when done and fun under cool water, set aside.

Dijon Vinaigrette

  • Whisk together white wine vinegar, coconut aminos, agave, tahini, dijon mustard, pepper and water Set in fridge to cool.

Putting it all Together

  • Toss together cooked pasta, chickpeas, basil, baby spinach, dressing and nutritional yeast. Sprinkle vegan parmesan on top if desired  
  • Serve immediately or store in covered container for several days in the refrigerator.
  • If meal prepping then portion into individual dishes. Cover  and store in fridge.   Take out when ready to eat. 


Calories: 299kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 127mg | Potassium: 459mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 39.6% | Vitamin C: 29.3% | Calcium: 4.7% | Iron: 12%

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats

By the end of summer, my garden-loving friends are usually begging me to take “just a few” zucchini off their hands.  In fact, August 8th is National Zucchini Day, probably in an effort to get cooks thinking about ways to use the overwhelming amount of zucchini that comes with the late summer harvest. So what do we do with all of the zucchini that abounds this time of year? One of my favorites is zucchini boats!

Is it even possible to make a plant-based Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boat? When I think of Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats, the first thing that comes to mind is cheesy, gooey, and  sausage stuffed. We don’t want this when eating vegan or plant-based!  These zucchini boats don’t use  the fake meats or cheeses but you’ll still get all of the flavor.  They are plant-based, vegan, and oil free. They are perfect for meal prep or can be served as a main dish dinner with crusty bread and a robust soup.

Since we aren’t using cheese in this recipe, a very important component will be the Italian Marinaded Chickpeas recipe.  I’ve included the ingredients and directions in this recipe below, however, it is a stand-alone recipe that can be used for other things such as in salads or on pizza. Italian Marinated Chickpeas

You’ll want to make the Italian Marinaded Chickpeas ahead of time – even the day before.  Consider about 2-3 hours minimum to marinate before using in the zucchini boat recipe.

You will be topping this dish with some sort of vegan sausage crumbles. For a truly plant-based dish, forgo the the fake vegan sausage and make my Sausage Tofu Crumbles instead.Tofu Sausage Crumbles  You’ll want to grab the recipe here and have it made ahead of time.

The Sausage Tofu Crumbles recipe is not included in the Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boat recipe below since it is optional.

You will be using five zucchinis in this recipe.  I always buy an extra or two though, because I often end up ruining one when scooping out the flesh. Use medium-sized zucchinis.  If you are meal prepping then measure the length of your container, understanding that the zucchini is going to need to fit inside.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then start carefully scooping out the flesh.  I use the small end of a melon baller. (And this is the step during which I usually break a zucchini boat…)

Save the insides you scoop out.  You will be using  later to stuff your zucchini. Set the scooped out zucchini halves in an extra large prepared baking dish.

Sautéing Zucchini


Sauté the zucchini pieces with a little bit of vegetable broth, checking the pan and adding more if necessary. You will only be sautéing for 5 minutes – not to make it mushy but to just take the crunch off.  If there is any liquid remaining in the pan, drain it off and discard.


Deseed and dice two Roma tomatoes and set aside. You will need to deseed them, otherwise your zucchini boats will be seedy and soggy.

Mashing ChickpeasMash the chickpeas up some, leaving many of them whole or mostly whole. You aren’t making hummus after all, and will want it a little chunky.

Chickpeas Mashed

Add the mashed chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and tahini to the pan with sautéed zucchini and mix well. After mixing, sprinkle the panko bread crumbs on top and then fold in.  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs.  If the mixture is still soggy and runny, add more breadcrumbs. The mixture should loosely hold its shape when pressed together.

Carefully stuff and mound mixture into each zucchini boat.  Cook uncovered in a 350° oven for 35 minutes or until heated though.  Take out of oven and cover each boat with a pasta sauce of choice.  I usually just buy a compliant marinara sauce.  If you would like to make your own, try this recipe.  It is oil free and sugar free.Zucchini Boats in the Pan

Sprinkle the vegan sausage crumbles on top and return to the oven for 10 more minutes or until sauce is heated.

Serve right away or to use in a meal prep dish, carefully placing two zucchini boats into each meal prep container.

Sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese if desired.  You can quickly make my vegan parmesan cheese recipe with raw cashews and nutritional yeast.

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Italian Zucchini Boats

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats

These Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats are vegan, plant-based, and oil free.  They work well for meal prep or serve as a main dish with a crusty bread or hearty soup. 
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: meal prep, Plant-based, vegan
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 122kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


Italian Marinated Chickpea Salad

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas drained, not rinsed
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, chopped

Zucchini Boats

  • 5 zucchinis medium, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth more if necessary
  • 2 roma tomatoes deseed and diced
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs



Italian Marinated Chickpea Salad

  • Combine marinade, chickpeas, and roasted red peppers together.  Put into an airtight container and let marinade for 2-3 hours.

Zucchini Boats

  • Heat oven to 350°. Prepare an extra large baking pan by spritzing the bottom with oil or use a silicon baking pan.
  • Slice zucchinis in half lengthwise.  With the small end of a melon baller, carefully scoop out insides, setting aside to use later.  Set the scooped out zucchini halves into an extra large prepared baking pan.
  • Line a saute pan with vegetable broth and sauté zucchini for about 5 minutes.  Add more broth to keep pan from sticking.  When finished, drain any remaining liquid.
  • Mash around the marinated chickpeas, leaving some whole or almost whole. 
  • Add mashed chickpeas, diced and deseeded tomatoes, and tahini to pan and stir to combine.
  • Spinkle breadcrumbs on top and incorporate allowing breadcrumbs to absorb liquid. If it is still a little runny then add more breadcrumbs.  
  • Spoon mixture into mounds on zucchini halves.
  • Cook in 350° oven for 35 minutes.  

Finishing It Up

  • Take out of oven and top with marinara sauce and vegan sausage crumbles. Put back into oven for 10 minutes. Top with vegan parmesan cheese.


This works really well for meal prep.
Carefully place two halves into a meal prep container. 
When choosing your zucchini, measure your container and ensure your zucchini will not be too long to fit.


Calories: 122kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 968mg | Potassium: 1051mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 22.4% | Vitamin C: 58.9% | Calcium: 10.4% | Iron: 19.5%


Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

This Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette has a tangy sweet dressing to tickle your tastebuds.  Even though is it a “salad”, it’s really a main course meal and works well for dinner or lunch.  Pair it with a crusty bread or soup for  a heartier meal.  The Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette is vegan, plant-based, gluten and oil free. The roasted cauliflower salad works well for meal prep as well.

(This post may contain affiliate links and Veggie Fun Kitchen may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.)

I first saw a similar recipe on Sweet Peas and Saffron and made a few adaptations.   Sweet Peas and Saffron is not a vegan or plant-based food blog but has many recipes that are or that can be easily adapted.  It is also a great resource for meal prep ideas.

Coconut Aminos

A “secret ingredient” often used in plant-based cooking is coconut aminos.  (Affiliate link.) Coconut aminos have a sweet soy sauce  taste but is much lower in sodium than soy sauce.

Start by making a “paste” to coat your uncooked cauliflower  with the coconut aminos, tahini, and nutritional yeast – ah many of the powerhouse special ingredients used in vegan cooking! Toss with  three cups of cauliflower, that have been cut into bite-sized pieces.

Roast in a 400° oven for 35-45 minutes until softened and browned. When it is done, take it out and allow to cool  before assembling the salad.Roasted Cauliflower on the Pan



While the cauliflower is roasting, you can make the dressing and set aside. Dice the orange bell peppers and red onion, making sure to dice  into every small pieces -you will be eating these raw.

onions and peppers

I use 2 cups of cooked rice in this salad.  I almost never make my rice, but buy it precooked instead.  I used a brown and wild rice mixture for this recipe. If you need to make your rice, this is the time to do it as well.

After the cauliflower is cooled enough to assemble into the salad, toss all ingredients together, including the baby spinach and the dijon dressing.

Top with roasted cashew pieces.  Mine were  salted so I didn’t need to salt the salad further.  Adjust yours according to your taste.

Serve now or keep for later.  Even tossed with the dijon vinaigrette, this recipe keeps for a few days.  This recipe also works well for meal prep as well.  Roasted Cauliflower Salad meal prep

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

This Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette has a tangy sweet dressing to tickle your tastebuds. It is plant-based, vegan, and oil and gluten free.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Plant-based, vegan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 358kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


Roasted Cauliflower

  • 3 cups cauliflower floretts
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini

Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 2 Tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 Tablespoon tahini
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Putting it Together

  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper diced
  • 2 cups brown and wild rice precooked
  • 2 cups baby spinach washed and dried
  • 1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas drain and rinse
  • 1/2 cup cashews roasted


  • Set oven for 400°.

Roasted Cauliflower

  • Cut cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.
  • Mix together 2 T coconut aminos, nutritional yeast, and tahini into a large mixing bowl.
  • Toss in cauliflower, coating well.  Turn onto a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper covered baking sheet.  
  • Cook in a 400° oven until softened and brown.  Remove and set aside to cool.

Dijon Dressing

  • While cauliflower is roasting, mix together the vinegar, coconut aminos, agave, tahini, dijon mustard, and ground pepper. Set aside.

Putting it Together

  • If you are cooking your rice, cook while the cauliflower is roasting.  Set aside to cool.
  • Dice the onion and orange bell pepper.
  • After cauliflower and rice are cooled, assemble salad ingredients.  In a large mixing bowl, toss together roasted cauliflower, rice, vegetables including baby spinach, drained chickpeas, and salad dressing.  
  • Top with roasted cashews.
  • If you are using this for meal prep, portion into four  3-cup meal prep containers.  


Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 315mg | Potassium: 847mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 37.4% | Vitamin C: 73.6% | Calcium: 8.8% | Iron: 24.2%



Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes

Something about pairing  the naturally sweet goodness of the sweet potato  with the tangy tartness of  lime and slightly bitter spiciness of chili powder makes for a delightful cacophony of flavors.  This Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes with Black Beans and Lentils recipe is vegan, plant-based, and  gluten and oil free.  This dish is perfect for meal prep.  Cook it once and have six meals that are suitable for dinner or lunch.

This recipe for Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes with black beans and lentils was inspired by one I found on Sweet Peas and Saffron.  Sweet Peas and Saffron is not a vegan or plant-based food blog;  but it does have many meals that are or that can be easily adapted and is worth checking out if you are looking for meal prep ideas.

Start with six smallish sweet potatoes.  If you can only find large ones then go ahead and use those; but do be aware that if you are meal prepping, they’ll be too big for a 2 cup meal prep container and so you’ll be cutting parts off.  That’s okay…you can always save the extras and  use them with a little cinnamon sugar for breakfast.  Go ahead and get those sweeties cooked up until they are tender at 400° for 45 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, you should prep the other ingredients so that you can easily assemble when the potatoes are done.  Mix up the dressing and set aside.  You’ll notice that I don’t use oil in the dressing but use a little tahini instead. Tahini is ground sesame seeds and works wonders for adding a rich taste and texture to plant-based dressings and sauces. Tahini Paste

Carrot SticksYou can either buy pre-cooked lentils or cook while the potatoes are baking.  Lentils are super easy to cook if you have the prep time.  You pretty much just measure them out with water, bring to a boil then simmer till done. As long as you don’t let them run dry or overcook, you can’t ruin them. You will end up using 1 cup cooked lentils so if you are starting from dry, measure out 1/2 cup and follow package directions. Make sure that you use green or brown lentils for this recipe.  Red lentils will get too mushy.

A quick trick I use to easily dice carrots is to start with precut carrot sticks.  There are days when the idea of actually peeling and cutting and chopping is overwhelming.  I’m not lazy I promise; I just don’t always have the patience for that nonsense.

Sauté your peppers and carrots in a little vegetable broth for about 5-7minutes or until tender.  There is no need to use oil when sautéing vegetables.  Just watch your pan and you will do just fine with vegetable broth. Add the lentils, drained black beans, and corn. Pour the dressing on top and stir around a little.  This is a good time to check the flavor and add a extra salt if desired. Go ahead and turn off the heat.  If you are serving right away then you’ll want to reheat the mixture in the pan before topping your sweet potato.  If you are meal prepping then it can be reheated in the container along with the potato right before eating.

When the sweet potatoes are out of the oven and barely cool enough to handle, open and either put each into a meal prep container or if serving right away, onto a plate. Sweet Potato Opened

Top with about 3/4 cup vegetable/bean mixture.  Garnish with minced cilantro of top if desired.

This recipe works particularly well for meal prep.  Just put one potato into each container.  Make sure you save room on top for the vegetable/bean mixture.  If need be, then cut the potatoes down and save the extra for another use. Add the topping and close the lid.  Reheat for about 2 minutes when ready to eat.Meal Prep Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes

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Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes

Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes with Black Beans and Lentils

Vegan and plant-based,  these sweet potatoes topped with a mixture of black beans, lentils, and vegetables, finished with an oil-free tangy chili lime dressing, are perfect for meal prep or can be served right away for lunch or dinner.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Plant-based, vegan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 304kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


  • 6 sweet potatoes small
  • 1 Tablespoon tahini
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lentils cooked (green or brown, not red)
  • 1 cup bell peppers red or orange, diced
  • 1 cup carrots diced
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth adding more if necessary
  • 1 15.5 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels fresh, canned, or frozen
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro to garnish


  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Wash sweet potatoes and put in oven on a baking sheet for 45 minutes or until tender.  Sweet potatoes can get messy and drip as they are cooking so use either a silicon baking mat or line your baking sheet with foil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, vinegar, lime juice, chili powder, garlic, agave, and salt.  Set aside. 
  • If your lentils are not pre-cooked, cook according to package directions now.  You will need 1 cup cooked lentils and so about 1/2 cup dry.
  • While potatoes are cooking, chop peppers and carrots. 
  • Line a saute pan with 1/4 cup vegetable both and sauté  vegetables until tender, about 5-7 minutes, adding more broth if necessary to keep pan from sticking. 
  • When vegetables are tender, add cooked lentils, drained beans and corn.  Pour dressing on top and stir and mix together. Turn off stove and set aside. Add salt to taste if desired. 
  • When potatoes are cooked and cooled enough to touch, place each one on a plate or in a meal prep container.  Top with vegetable/bean mixture.
  • Garnish with cilantro.


If serving right away then you might need to heat the lentil/bean mixture to desired temperature.
If meal prepping, be aware that some sweet potatoes are quite large. Don't overcrowd the meal prep container.  Cut down and save for another time or throw out if necessary. 
If meal prepping, reheat for about 2 minutes before eating.


Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 574mg | Potassium: 920mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 458.6% | Vitamin C: 47.8% | Calcium: 6.9% | Iron: 20.8%



Stuffed Shells with (Vegan) Ricotta Cheese

When I first started eating plant-based, I thought I was going to have to say good-bye to some of my favorites… like “cheesy” pastas.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Tofu, eggplant, and nutritional yeast make for a  convincing creamy ricotta “cheese”.  These Stuffed Shells with (Vegan) Ricotta Cheese are of course vegan, oil free, plant-based, and can be gluten-free if you are able to source gluten-free shells.

Ricotta and Shells in Pan

I first tried these stuffed shells when a (non-vegan) work friend was so excited to have found this recipe that she made it and brought it in to work for me to try out!  I’m sure you can understand how touched I was by her thoughtfulness.  When we are vegan, it is easy to feel like we are missing out on so many of the food-sharing social activities at work and with friends.  It really meant a lot that she cared enough to want to share a dish with me that I could enjoy.  She was inspired by this recipe on Minimalist Baker.  If you haven’t checked out their website you really should as a great recipe resource!  My friend massaged that recipe and gave it to me and then I massaged it further.

This is a recipe that I consider a little crazy complicated with multiple steps.  I’ve made it so many times though that I think I’ve perfected how to do it from start to finish.  Follow the steps in the recipe card and (hopefully) it will go easy enough for you too!

Eggplant ScoredStart with your eggplant.  I’ve never been a fan of eggplant because I never really understood how to cook it correctly.  It was always a little slimy-textured to me.  If you salt it well and then squeeze out the extra moisture before cooking, you won’t have the texture problem.  You can see that I’ve scored  and salted it well.  Let sit salted for about 30 minutes and squeeze out the extra moisture before cooking it face down on a silicone baking sheet.

After it’s cooked in a 400° oven for 40 minutes it will be done. The eggplant will be a little shriveled and softened enough so that you can easily scoop out the creamy insides.  Toss the skin, you won’t be using it in this recipe.Eggplant Cooked



While all that is going on, drain and press your tofu.  I use a tofu press.

Tofu in the Press

You will also need to soak your cashews. Make sure to drain water before using in the recipe. Use raw cashews because you will get a creamier texture than if you used dry roasted cashews.  Cashew Nuts SoakingRaw Cashews in Package


You normally can’t find raw cashews in the grocery store unless it is a health or specialty store.  I usually source mine online.


After the tofu is pressed, roughly break it into chunks and reserve 1/2 cup.  You’ll be stirring that in later to give your ricotta “cheese” a little texture.

Tofu in Half Cup

This is also a good time to cook your baby kale. Just put in a sauté  pan along the with the garlic. Line your pan with vegetable broth to prevent the kale from sticking. It’s done when it’s wilted and about 1/3 of the size. Crazy huh?!?

Baby Arugula         Baby Arugula Cooked


If you are unable to find baby kale then substitute with baby arugula or baby spinach.

Sometime during all this, you’ll need to bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the jumbo shells until just al dente as they will be cooking longer in the oven once stuffed and covered in sauce.  If you overcook then they will be mushy and fall apart when stuffing. Make sure you use the jumbo shells.  Here’s a photo next to a dime for size comparison.Jumbo Shells with Dime

When they are cooked, drain and set aside.  The shells will need to be mostly dried of the extra bits of water or your dish will be runny – but not too dried or they won’t be flexible enough to stuff.  This cooking thing can be  a bit of a dance!

Make your creamy “cheese” sauce by putting the tofu (except for the 1/2 cup reserved), drained cashews, and plant milk in a high speed blender.  You can use any type of plant milk you like (soy, almond, cashew, etc.) BUT make sure it is unsweetened.Vegan Ricotta in Blender Close Up




Process till smooth then scrape into a large bowl along with the cooked and skinned eggplant, cooked kale, and seasonings.

Vegan Ricotta in Bowl Ready for Mixing

Nutritional yeast is an important ingredient that can’t be left out or it won’t have that cheesy flavor. Nutritional yeast is different from brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast.  It really is a staple of a vegan kitchen.  It’s not always easy to find in the grocery store but sometimes can be found near the “health food” section, or area near gluten-free foods, or the section with the specialty grains. I usually just order mine online.

Take a mixer – I like an immersion blender – and throughly blend together. You’ll know it’s done when the kale is in little pieces and is  well incorporated.Vegan Ricotta Immersion Blender




It is at this point that you add in the reserved tofu. Only mix enough  so that it’s a little chunky and the texture somewhat resembles ricotta cheese.


Line a large baking dish with a pasta sauce of your choice.  For this I usually find a large jar of sauce that makes me happy because honestly, this recipe is hella work already without having to make your own sauce.  If you want to be ambitious and make your own, try my Pasta Sauce.  It’s oil-free, plant-based, and vegan. I make it with canned crushed tomatoes so the the process does go a little more quickly.

Vegan Ricotta Shells Lined up in PanCarefully stuff each shell with the ricotta mixture and set in the dish.  You will get 18-20 shells – probably depending on the size of your eggplant and how fully you stuff them.  Spoon more sauce over of each shell and then sprinkle some  vegan parmesan cheese on top.  If you use mine, I make it with cashews.  You MUST disclose to anyone you serve that it contains nuts as people won’t be expecting  nuts in a cheese sprinkle.

Bake uncovered in a 350° oven for 30 minutes. I always sprinkle more vegan cashew cheese on top because  honestly, it’s the bomb!

Stuffed Shells with Vegan Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta and Shells in Pan

Stuffed Shells with (Vegan) Ricotta Cheese

These stuffed shells are vegan, oil-free, and plant-based.  Tofu, raw cashews, and eggplant give the ricotta "cheese" a creamy texture.  
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Plant-based, vegan
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
resting time (eggplant): 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 219kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


  • 1 large eggplant sliced in half and scored
  • 1 16 ounce block tofu extra firm
  • 20 jumbo shells
  • 3/4 cup cashews, raw soaked
  • 5 ounces baby kale
  • 2 cloves mined garlic
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth or more to keep pan from sticking
  • 1/2 cup plant milk of choice unsweetened
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 25 ounce jar pasta sauce
  • 1 recipe vegan cashew parmasean cheese optional


  • Preheat oven to 400°. 
  • Slice eggplant in half lengthwise, score the flesh side and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.  When finished, squeeze out excess moisture. Place cut-side down on a silicone lined baking pan and cook for 40 minutes.  
  • After you take the eggplant out, turn oven down to 350°.  Let the eggplant cool enough to handle and then scrape out the insides into a dish. Set aside. You can discard skins.
  • While the eggplant is sitting and cooking do the following:
    1. Drain and press Tofu,
    2. Soak cashews,
    3. Boil water for shells,
    4. Sauté baby kale.
    5. Blend/process pressed tofu (except 1/2 cup), soaked cashews, and  plant milk. 
    (Specific directions are in steps below.)
  • Drain and press Tofu until most moisture is squeezed out. After tofu is drained and presses, break into small chunks and divide - setting aside 1/2 cup in a separate bowl.
  • Cook jumbo shells according to package direction for al dente.  Drain and set aside to cook.
  • Soak raw cashews in water for 30 minutes. After cashews have soaked for 30 minutes, drain water and toss it out.  Set aside cashews to blend later.
  • Line a large sauté  pan with vegetable broth. Sauté baby kale along with garlic until wilted and tender.  Set aside. 
  • Put soaked drained cashews, unsweetened plant milk, and all but 1/2 cup of pressed tofu into a high-speed blender or food processor.  Process until smooth.  Pour/scrape into a large mixing bowl . 
  • Add the cooked baby kale, cooked and scooped eggplant and all other seasonings and ingredients (except for pasta sauce, shells, and vegan parmesan cheese) to the bowl with the ricotta mixture.  With an immersion blender, agressively  blend until smooth.  
  • At the last minute, add the reserved 1/2 cup tofu.  Continue to lightly blend until mixture resembles  the consistency of a ricotta cheese mixture.
  • Line the bottom of a large lasagna-type of pan with a thin layer of pasta sauce.  
  • Carefully stuff the shells with the cheese mixture and place in a single layer on top of the pasta sauce.
  • Spoon remaining pasta sauce on the top of the stuffed shells. Sprinkle generously with vegan parmesan cheese. 
  • Bake uncovered at 350° for 30 minutes until heated through. 


If you serve this recipe to others you MUST disclose that this recipe contains nuts.  One normally wouldn't expect to find nuts in thy type of recipe so it is especially important.
Recipe for Vegan Cashew Parmesan Cheese
Recipe for Homemade Pasta Sauce


Calories: 219kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 467mg | Potassium: 356mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 47.6% | Vitamin C: 34.4% | Calcium: 7.5% | Iron: 11.4%



Italian Potatoes (Vegan)

These Italian Potatoes definitely belong in the quick and easy category.  They were a natural extension of my Little Potato Meal Hack but I decided to make them a little fancier.  They are plant-based, oil free, gluten-free, and of course vegan.

My original meal hack with The Little Potato Company included only 3 servings but was a quick and easy meal I could throw together at the spur of the moment.  I doubled this and added some zucchini and pasta sauce and now have 7 servings.Little Potato Company Italian Potatoes Ingredients

These Italian Potatoes are still quick and easy – 15  minutes from start to finish.  I gave the potatoes an Italian flair using cannellini beans, a little pasta sauce, and my Vegan Cashew Parmesan Cheese sprinkled on top.

Since we are doubling this recipe, go ahead and microwave these potatoes in batches – 5 minutes for each package, so 10 minutes total.  You’ll need this time to prep the other ingredients anyway.

Zucchini SautéingWhile the potatoes are steaming in the microwave, cut two zucchinis into bite-sized pieces and cook in a sauté pan lined with vegetable broth to keep the pan from sticking.  There is no reason to use oil in this dish.

I used Mexican gray squash.  This is my go-to substitute for zucchini.  If you don’t know Mexican gray squash, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.  You’ll want to cook the squash till just al dente – not mushy.

When both containers of  potatoes have finished microwaving,  gently toss with the beans, the seasoning packets (that come with the potatoes), zucchini, and about 3 cups of baby spinach.Italian Potatoes Mixing

Put it in a dish, top with your favorite compliant pasta sauce, and sprinkle a little vegan cheese on top.Italian Potatoes Served

This meal does particularly well for meal prep.  Just put it in individual containers along with the toppings.  Microwave each for about 2 minutes when ready to eat.  They should be consumed within 5 days.Meal Prep Italian Potatoes

Here they are in my fridge nice, cozy, and ready to go.

Meal Prep Italian Potatoes in the Fridge


Italian Potatoes Served

Italian Potatoes (Vegan)

Made with potatoes from The Little Potato Company. These potatoes are super easy and delicious.  They are vegan and plant-based. 
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Plant-based, The Little Potato Company, vegan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 7
Calories: 104kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


  • 2 12 ounce containers Potatoes from the Little Potato Company
  • 2 15 ounce cans canneliili beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 Mexican Gray Squash, diced you can use zucchini
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • pasta sauce to top
  • Parmesan Cheese with Cashews (Vegan) to garnish
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth to cook with


  • One at a time, cook both packages of potatoes in the microwave for five minutes each.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, dice squash/zucchini into bite-size pieces.
  • Line a sauté  pan with vegetable broth.  Sauté  zucchini for about 3-5 minutes until al dente tender.
  • Toss all ingredients together except for pasta sauce and vegan parmesan.
  • Put into meal prep containers and top with sauce and cheese.  Refrigerate promptly. Can keep for about five days.  Microwave for about 2 minutes when ready to eat.


If you top with the Vegan Cashew Parmesan Cheese then you must disclose to those you serve that is contains nut.


Calories: 104kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 3g | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 217mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 26.7% | Vitamin C: 16.5% | Calcium: 2.2% | Iron: 3.1%


Little Potato Company Meal Hack (Vegan)

Plant-based cooking doesn’t have to be a challenge!  Try this vegan meal hack using The Little Potato Company Potatoes.  It’s quick, easy, and delicious!

Sometimes you just need quick and easy.  Meal planning and meal prep – especially for plant eaters is most often the opposite of quick and easy.  I usually do a pretty good job of planning and prepping for my vegan family. To be honest though, there have been mornings I’ve pressed the snooze button one too many times and  find myself with 30 minutes to dash out the door- oh, and I suddenly remember that once again life must have gotten in the way because I totally neglected to meal prep for the day.  Where we live and work there are no healthy fast food options. That means grabbing a can of soup, something frozen (and processed), or throwing a meal together quickly and on the run – not an easy plant-based task.

Introducing to you the Little Potato Company!  These little microwavable seasoned potatoes have been a life-saver for me on many a hurried morning.  They come in several flavor varieties, most of which are vegan (alas the cheese variety is not).

With three basic ingredients you can pull together a quick meal for three in under 10 minutes.

Little Potato Company Seasonings

Simply remove the herb packet and microwave for 5 minutes.


Toss the microwaved potatoes in a medium-sized bowl with a drained can of beans  (Garbanzos are our favorite), a couple of handfuls of baby spinach, and the herb packet. Little Potato Company Quick and Easy

The directions on the back of the package call for a small amount of oil to be tossed in along with the herb packet.  I never have had a need to use that – probably because the liquids left on the drained beans are enough to give it the tiny bit of needed moisture.

The best part of The Little Potato Company is the packet of herbs and spices.  Just rip it open and add in.  We like both the Savory Herb and Garlic Parsley varieties.  The herb packet gives just the right seasoning to make this dish a quick and delicious meal.Little Potato Company Seasonings Close Up

Put it all in meal-prep containers and bam! We are done. In under 10 minutes I have a quick and delicious lunch ready to go for my family. Little Potato Company Quick and Easy Meal Prep

I also like to sprinkle a little Vegan Cashew Parmesan Cheese on top.Vegan Cashew Parmasean Cheese








You can get fancier with The Little Potato Company potatoes and I often do.  Try my Italian Potatoes if you have more time to actually cook – it’s still pretty easy though:)

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Little Potato Company Quick and Easy Ingredients

Little Potato Company Meal Hack (Vegan)

Use these potatoes and seasoning packets from the Little Potato Company for a quick and easy meal.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Plant-based, vegan
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 3 people
Calories: 230kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


  • 1 16 ounce container Little Potato Company Microwavable Potatoes Savory Herb or Garlic varieties
  • 1 15.5 ounce can Garbanzo Beans drained
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • vegan parmasean cheese optional for garnish


  • Remove from the cardboard sleeve and remove the herb packet. Leave the plastic covering on top.  Do not pierce.  This nicely steams the potatoes. Microwave for 5 minutes.  
  • Toss in a medium sized bowl along with the drained garbanzo beans, spinach and herb packet.
  • Sprinkle with a vegan parmesan cheese if desired.
  • You can either eat these right away or use for meal prep. This recipe makes 3 servings.  When you are ready to eat, pull out from fridge and microwave for about 2 minutes. 


If you serve this to others and use the cashew parmesan cheese you must disclose that this recipe includes nuts as nuts are not normally found in cheese products.


Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 111mg | Vitamin A: 37.5% | Vitamin C: 6.8% | Calcium: 2% | Iron: 3%