Roasted sweet pepper spread with walnuts + tahini (vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free)

Although great to enhance pizza/pasta sauce, to top bowls of soup, rice, and noodles, or on its own as a dip, this spread will likely find other ways to become part of your repertoire. Look for a brand of roasted peppers that are seasoned with salt, garlic, and olive oil, such as Trader Joe’s brand; otherwise, consider adding those seasonings to the ingredients below. Inspired by a post on the Green Kitchen Stories blog.

  • jarred roasted red and/or yellow peppers, preferably Trader Joe’s brand Fire-Roasted Yellow & Red Peppers (see note)
  • walnuts
  • almond meal or almond flour
  • tahini
  • ground cumin
  • jalapeño chile, chopped (optional)
  • tomato, chopped
  • nutritional yeast (optional)
  1. In a blender, add the roasted red peppers, a handful of walnuts, some almond meal, a couple of tablespoons tahini, some ground cumin, jalapeño, tomato, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit your palate.

Vegan dried fruit + nut bread with date syrup (no sugar!)

Chockful of flavor — dried fruit sweetness, nutty richness, citrus tang, homey spices — and plenty of room to be creative. The recipe makes a lot, so you might want to halve the recipe the first time. Kitchen shears work well to cut the dates and dried fruit (if you find the fruit sticking to your knife). Adapted from

  • 8 ounces chopped pitted dates
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 16 ounces mixed dried fruit (such as raisins, pineapple, prunes, and apricots)
  • ¾ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ cup almond meal or ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon or more pumpkin pie spice (ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves)
  • grated lemon zest or orange zest
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • chopped nuts (such as pecans, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, and/or almonds)
  • Sliced raw almonds, for topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, add the dates and the hot water. When cool, mash the dates into the water.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the dried fruit. Add to the mashed dates along with the two flours, baking powder, almond meal, pumpkin pie spice, citrus zest, orange juice, and nuts. Mix until well combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top and press gently into the batter.
  4. Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean, checking after 40 minutes to avoid overbaking. Transfer to a rack to cool, lift out of the pan, and serve warm.

Saucy chickpeas, mushrooms + veggies with pita crisps (vegan)

For the sauce, this dish uses mushroom broth created by soaking chopped dried mushrooms in hot water plus almond meal or ground almonds to thicken and flavor the sauce. If using dried chickpeas, soak them and cook them separately. Feel free to use any vegetable in place of the cauliflower and any greens for the kale. Consider substituting olives, capers, or hot sauce for the salt.

  • dried mushrooms, chopped
  • hot water
  • olive oil
  • onion, chopped
  • fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • brown rice
  • cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
  • almond meal or ground almonds (optional)
  • kale, center ribs removed and leaves chopped
  • cooked dried or canned chickpeas (see note above)
  • minced garlic or garlic powder
  • chile powder
  • turmeric
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • slivered almonds
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • whole-wheat pita, cut into triangles and toasted until crisp
  1. Place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and add hot water to cover. Set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the fresh mushrooms and the brown rice, stir, and cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the soaked dried mushrooms with their soaking liquid plus enough water to cover. Cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until the rice is almost done. Stir in the cauliflower and cook until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork and the rice is soft, adding more water as needed. Stir in the almond meal, kale, and chickpeas. When the kale is soft, stir in the garlic, chile powder, and turmeric. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Ladle into individual bowls, top with almonds, parsley, and pita triangles, and serve.

Apple pancakes (gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegetarian)

These pancakes by the Sunday Brunch Chef are nice for a fall or winter weekend brunch, and any leftover cakes can be reheated for a weekday breakfast. Serve with eggs cooked to order, if you like, and your favorite pancake toppings—unsweetened applesauce, jam sweetened with fruit juice, or hydrated raisins (put raisins in a heatproof bowl, hydrate with boiling water until soft, mash a bit, and pour liquid and all over the cakes).

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tart apple, cored and cut into very thin matchsticks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (such as almond, coconut, or soy), plus more as needed
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil, vegetable oil, or melted butter, plus more for frying
  • 2 large eggs
  1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, almond meal, chia seeds, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the apple and lemon juice. Whisk in the vanilla, milk, oil, and eggs. Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the apple mixture, adding more milk as necessary to reach the consistency of pancake batter.
  3. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet or on a griddle over medium heat. Pour on ¼ cup batter and cook until bubbles form. Flip pancake and cook until the underside is lightly browned. Transfer cooked pancake to a baking pan in a 175º oven or toaster oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve pancakes warm.

Nutty spread with lemon and tahini

I love hummus, with its combo of chickpeas, creamy sesame seed paste (tahini), tangy lemon juice, and hint of garlic. But I’m lazy about cooking chickpeas—even though my pressure cooker makes cooking beans and legumes easy—so I don’t eat hummus as often as I would like.

I was happy to read a post recently on the web about using ground nuts to make a hummus-like spread—no cooking or kitchen machines required. What about mixing either cashew meal or almond meal with some of hummus’s characteristic ingredients—lemon juice, tahini, and olive oil—to see how it would turn out? Here is the result.

Lemon tahini nut spread

This nut spread vanished from the fridge much faster than I expected. We used it on tofu sandwiches, on rice cakes, and on warmed tortillas rolled up with lettuce. I’m sure you’ll find your own ways to use it.

  • nut meal, such as cashew or almond
  • tahini
  • lemon juice
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • garlic (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • fresh herbs, such as parsley, oregano
  • hot sauce (optional)

Mix together all of the ingredients. Add water as needed to create the consistency you want. Adjust seasonings to taste. Chill in an airtight container.


Quinoa “toast”

What a flop. I was expecting a main course of quinoa patties, but the mixture just crumbled when I tried to shape it. My fix was to flatten all of it into one big pancake in the baking pan. The end product held together and was crunchy, but was bland for an entrée, so there were lots of leftover slices.

Over the next few days, I toasted or microwaved the leftover pieces and slathered them with almond butter or sweet pepper and sunflower seed spread for a weekday breakfast. On the weekend, I topped a warmed slice with sautéed mushrooms, herbs, leeks, peppers, and a poached egg for brunch. The quinoa pieces remained crunchy and were a good complement to the toppings.

Quinoa “toast”

This recipe allows you lots of flexibility: You can add any combination of herbs and spices or finely chopped vegetables.

  • red or tan quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • ground cumin
  • turmeric
  • curry powder
  • minced cilantro
  • finely chopped green onions
  • finely chopped spinach or kale
  • almond meal and/or corn meal
  • eggs*
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Toast the quinoa in a dry pan until it turns a shade darker. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl, add boiling water to cover, and soak until you see the little quinoa curlicues (you can also bring the quinoa and water to a boil on the stove  or in the microwave until you see the curlicues). Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the ground cumin, turmeric, and curry powder until just fragrant.
  3. Heat oven or toaster oven to 375º. Transfer the toasted spices and quinoa to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour contents into a baking pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Spread evenly. Bake until it forms one solid, crispy piece.

* For a vegan egg substitute: Mix 1 part chia seeds with 3 parts water and chill for 15 minutes until gelatinous.


Yummy almond meal pancakes

Almond meal has become a star in our kitchen because it is tasty and versatile—it works in both savory and sweet recipes as a replacement for flour. This dish, inspired by a recipe, makes a nice switch from eggs for weekend brunch, and any leftover cakes can be reheated for weekday breakfasts.

Almond meal coconut pancakes

We added shredded coconut to the batter to enhance the coconut flavor of the coconut oil we used in the recipe and on the griddle. Serve with your favorite pancake toppings (mine is my homemade fruit compote, with or without almond butter).

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds (optional)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • sea salt
  • ½ tsp. each baking soda and baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (almond, coconut, soy, etc.)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil, olive oil, walnut oil, or melted butter
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together almond meal, flax seeds if using, coconut, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk, vanilla, and oil. Gradually whisk the almond meal mixture into the egg mixture, adding more milk as necessary to reach the consistency of pancake batter.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Pour on ¼ cup batter and cook until bubbles form. Turn over and cook until the underside is lightly browned. Keep cooked pancakes warm in a 150º toaster oven or wrapped in foil or cloth napkins.

Cauliflower pizza crust? Yes!

The cookbook that currently has the place of honor on my kitchen counter is Vegetarian Everyday, just published by the Swedish couple who bring us the Green Kitchen Stories blog. Among their creative and tasty vegetarian recipes is a pizza crust made with cauliflower instead of wheat flour. What?  Yes, and it’s really good.

Here is an overview of the steps, but for the details, visit the Green Kitchen Stories cauliflower pizza crust recipe online.

  1. Whirl the cauliflower in a food processor until it looks like grains of rice, then mix it with almond meal, oregano, and eggs (the authors include a vegan version using chia seeds instead of eggs; I used chia seeds and one egg).
  2. Form the mixture into a crust on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. What makes it so tasty is baking the cauliflower crust until golden.
  3. Once the crust is fully baked, top it with your favorite pizza ingredients. Mine was a sautéed mixture of mushrooms, leeks, sweet peppers, jalapeños, and parsley. Pop it back in the oven until the toppings are heated through and voilà!

My omnivore loved it, and I think you will too. Next time, I might replace some of the almond meal with cornmeal and/or chickpea flour just to see how that changes it. And I’m definitely scouring their cookbook and blog for more recipes to try.

Stay tuned …