Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce

A weeknight-friendly enchilada has to check a lot of boxes for me. You ready for the short list? Here we go. These enchiladas need to be knock-out delicious AND: easy to assemble, free from pre-cooking any components, a healthful alternative to all the heavy cheese versions out there, and, ideally, in the oven in less that ten minutes. That's the dream scenario. After some experimentation, I offer you these – quick, vegan enchiladas. 
Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce
They're tender enchiladas made with black beans, sweet potatoes, and a stealthy turmeric boost. There was also a focus on making a version that was plant-based and vegan (which is what you see here), but also easily adaptable. If you want to add a bit of feta to the filling here (if you're not vegan, of course) then go for it. It's a recipe that should be able to accommodate much of what you might dream of rolling into a tortilla and baking until bubbly and golden.
Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce
This recipe is similar in spirit to the Last Minute Lasagna a bunch of you have been making. In fact, I started working on both of those around the same time, so if you like one of them, give the other a try as well.
Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce

Variations

A couple of notes, I wrote the recipe calling for canned winter squash – anything like pumpkin, sweet potato, or another winter squash will work. Whatever you and your family tends to like. I stumbled on a canned butternut squash during a spin through Trader Joe's, a while back, stocked up, and that is what you see pictured here. You can, of course, use squash you've roasted at home in place of canned – it just makes the process less quick ;)…

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Sparkling Cranberries

I've become convinced that these sparkling, sugared cranberries should be a part of every holiday spread. They glint and wink in the surrounding holiday lights, and lend a striking dash of red to the table. Another great thing is the way they effortlessly make the transition from savory course to sweet. So, for example, I've become fond of serving them as part of a cheese spread, but I imagine they'd be nice as the finishing touch on on a tart or clustered atop a crème brûlée or pudding of some sort.Sparkling Cranberries Recipesparkling_cranberries2.jpg

What Type of Sugar?

This is key, and I've experimented with a range of sugars here. Some work better than others. In the beginning, I wanted to make them with a maple sugar coating – but the cranberries looked like they had been dropped in dust. The same goes for raw cane sugar, coconut sugar, and Rapadura. So I gave up trying to do a less refined sugar version. Take note, extra-fine grain sugar didn't work well either – clumpy. Essentially, the best way to get a good sparkling sugar crust on your cranberries is to first roll them in an slightly-chunky organic sugar (something like this), and later toss them in regular granulated sugar. The small grains of the granulated sugar cling to any spots that are still sticky from the simple syrup.
Sparkling Cranberries Recipe

They are simple to make, but you need to do the first step the night before. I like to toss the cranberries in sugar the next morning, and off and on throughout the day so they have time to dry and crisp up. Enjoy, and happiest holidays!

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White Bean Soup with Pesto Herb Dumplings

This is the sort of soup I crave when the weather turns. Hearty, substantial, and squarely in the comfort food realm. It's the simplest of bean soups, topped with plump herb-packed dumplings. I use whatever herbs I have on hand, and in this case it was dill, basil, and minced lemongrass, along with lots of scallions. Doubling down on the herb flavors, I also add a big dollop of pesto. A classic dumpling stew with a green, herby twist. Super delicious, and satisfying.

White Bean Soup with Pesto Herb Dumplings

Variations

I note a number of variations in the headnotes of the recipe down below. If you don't want to go the pesto route, a mustard-spike is also delicious. Or, harissa! A couple of tablespoons of harissa paste in place of pesto takes the dumplings in a completely different directions.

White Bean Soup with Pesto Herb Dumplings

Making this soup vegan is simple. The soup is already vegan, you just need to make a couple tweaks to the dumplings. First, be sure to use nut milk in the dumpling batter, and omit the egg (adding an extra 1/4 cup of nut milk to the batter). The details are in the headnotes as well. The dumplings are a bit more dense, but still tasty. The one important detail to adhere to – don't oversize the dumplings.

White Bean Soup with Pesto Herb Dumplings

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Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Let's talk through the story of my favorite lentil soup. Years ago, two of my neighbors hosted a soup party. It was an inspiring affair – big pots of simmering soups and stews, house full of chatty, friendly people. Part of what I liked was the simple premise. The hosts (David & Holly) made a number of soups, guests were asked to arrive with their drink of choice and one thing to share – salad, appetizer, or something sweet.
Coconut Red Lentil Soup

The Best Soup:

One of the vegetarian soups was a beautiful shade of yellow-orange. It was a light-bodied, curry-spiced coconut broth thickened with cooked red lentils and structured with yellow split peas. It appeared to be a beautiful take on lentil soup. When I asked Holly to tell me about it, she mentioned it was based on an Ayurvedic dal recipe in the Esalen Cookbook, a favorite of hers.

She happened to have an extra copy of the Esalen book, and sent me home with my belly full, a new cookbook tucked under my arm, and a few suggestions related to the soup. I still make this soup regularly, love it (so much!), and thought it might be fun to revisit it today in video form – enjoy! I've also included some notes related to adapting this soup to the Instant Pot.

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Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Other things worth noting related to this soup – the slivered green onions sauteed in butter or coconut oil. The golden raisins that plump up with curry broth. Back notes of ginger. Depth from a good dollop of tomato paste. It all comes together in one amazing bowl of restorative, lentil soup goodness.

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Simple Weeknight Cauliflower

Wayne and I share in the prep work for dinner most nights. Two or three times a week this involves chopping cauliflower into “tiny trees”. Wayne knows the drill, and does a good job cutting the florets into pieces not much larger than a table grape. We then turn the cauliflower into a hot skillet with a bit of salt, olive oil, and whatever spices and seasoning strike our fancy that night.
Simple Cauliflower RecipeCauliflower is endlessly adaptable, and cooking it this way is quick and delicious. After just a few minutes in the pan the cauliflower starts to brown, and then takes on a deep, nutty flavor. I'll share the version we made the other night – pan-fried cauliflower with garlic, chives, lemon, Parmesan, and flaky sea salt. This handful of ingredients is what hit the pan this time around, but I'll also list off a few other variations that make frequent appearances in case chives and lemon aren't your thing.

Simple Cauliflower Variations

Spicy: This is the easiest – olive oil, a bit of Piment d'Esplette, garlic, and lemon zest at the end. Use your favorite red pepper flakes.

Curry: I sometimes use coconut oil here in place of olive oil. Then I add a favorite Indian curry powder, and go from there. Or I'll take it in an entirely different direction and add a teaspoon (or so) of Thai red curry paste to the coconut oil.

Nutmeg: I use 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 butter, then the cauliflower, and some freshly grated nutmeg toward the end.

Serving Ideas

A couple serving ideas: It might sound a bit weird, but I like to eat this style of cauliflower over an open-faced egg salad sandwich for lunch. Or, I might build a meal off the cauliflower by throwing a bit of tofu or seitan in the pan. It's also great on top of a curry bowl, or bowl of chili.

Anyhow, people who don't typically like cauliflower seem to like it cooked this way. But be sure to seek out good, fresh cauliflower with tight florets, no discoloration. If there are leaves they should be bright and intact, not withered and funky.

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Quick Lime and Mushroom Salad

I'm hoping a good number of you will give this mushroom salad a go. I'm pretty sure you'll love it! This is a solid example of my favorite kind of recipe – quick, flavor forward, and endlessly adaptable. Are you a fan of mushrooms? Then this recipe is especially for you. Here's how it goes. You sauté thinly sliced mushrooms in a splash of olive oil and cook them until they're super golden and beautiful. Then you toss them in a bowl with fresh herbs, peanuts, freshly chopped herbs, serrano chile, a good amount of lime juice, and soy sauce. Done.
 Quick Lime and Mushroom Salad

What kind of mushrooms?

This is a mixed mushroom salad (as pictured). I used cremini, king trumpet, and enoki mushrooms. That said, you can certainly make it with a single type of thinly sliced mushrooms. When you are preparing them just be sure to slice them consistent thickness – roughly 1/4-inch. These is a shot of the mushrooms pre-cooking (below). Followed by a photo of the color I like them to have when done cooking.

Quick Lime and Mushroom Salad

Quick Lime and Mushroom Salad

Variations on this Mushroom Salad

  • Mushroom Salad with Tofu (as pictured): For more of a one-dish meal, I like to add a bit of crumbled tofu, or steamed tempeh.
  • Mushroom Salad over Rice: This is delicious over just about any type of rice you like. A simple bowl of brown jasmine, mixed rice & grains, or even congee!
  • Mushroom Salad over Noodles: Lots of things are great with noodles, and this is no exception! You can toss it rice or soba noodles along with the rest of the ingredients. Just bump up the amount of lime juice and soy sauce, so you have enough dressing. 

    Quick Lime and Mushroom Salad

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Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad

This is a noodle salad you'll crave every day. A radiant, color-flecked tangle of noodles, cabbage, shredded carrots, pickled sushi ginger, and an abundance of cilantro, basil, and scallions. It has tofu and peanuts, coconut, ginger, avocado, and hemp seeds. The dressing(!) – it's simple but strong, and steps in with an assertive spicy sriracha-lime punch. This is one of those near-perfect one dish meals. You might not want to prep this many ingredients every day, but you'll forget about that detail the minute you take a bite. And you can see exactly how it comes together in the video below. xx! -h

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Noodle Salad: Make Ahead Components

A couple of tips – you can make the dressing a few days in advance. You can also do much of the chopping and grating a day or two in advance. Cook the noodles to order, though.

Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad

Let me know if you try it, and please report back if you land on any seasonal adaptations that you are particularly excited about.

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Life Changing Green Rice Porridge (Instant Pot, Vegan)

I don’t use the term life changing lightly, but this rice porridge recipe fits the bill. It’s a one pot, effortless, green, nutrient-packed twist on one of my favorite things to eat. Congee, also commonly referred to as rice porridge. This version incorporates a lot of chopped spinach. A lot. Enough spinach that your body will notice.

Life Changing Green Rice Porridge Recipe

The Cooking Method

I make this porridge in an Instant Pot. You can also make it in a thick-bottomed pot on the stovetop – no Instant Pot necessary. Although, that method requires more babysitting. Similar to this Instant Pot Congee with Brown Rice and Turmeric, you put your rice into the pot, add water or broth, walk away, and start daydreaming about toppings.

Life Changing Green Rice Porridge Recipe

Let’s Talk about Toppings

Here you see lime, crushed kale chips and toasted nori, toasted pepitas, hemp seeds, and jungle peanuts. The tofu is sliced thinly, drizzled with shoyu, and draped over the porridge. Sometimes I spike the whole situation with sriracha sauce, sometimes I don’t.

Life Changing Green Rice Porridge Recipe

Getting the Rice Porridge Just Right

I’ve settled on a ratio of brown rice to white rice that works really well. You’ll see that reflected in the recipe. It’s one part white jasmine rice to two parts brown jasmine rice. You can optionally pepper that rice blend with 1/4 cup of other quick cooking grains or pulses if you like – French lentils, adzuki beans, Job’s tears, etc. Or not, totally your call!

Life Changing Green Rice Porridge Recipe

I know I say this often, but feel free to use this recipe and ratio as a jumping off point. Next time I might add a bunch of chopped herbs, and use another favorite broth in place of water.

I hope you love this rice porridge! It’s nutrient-packed and green. Simple to make. Made with whole foods. Delicious anytime of day. One pan magic. And, the perfect hearty, satisfying canvas to load up with your favorite toppings.

Lastly, for anyone looking for more Instant Pot recipe inspiration, I've set up an Instant Pot recipe category – all my favorite successes are featured there. And, for reference, this is the Instant Pot I used for this recipe: Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt 9-in-1Enjoy!

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4 o’clock No-bake Energy Bites

Energy bites aren't a new thing, but if you're a person that grabs commercial power bars regularly, and you're not already on board, give these a try as a DIY alternative. I make them for a 4 o'clock late afternoon snack to reach for when I'm at the studio, but they're also a great travel option. Kids love them. Adults love them. The best part is that you're in control of the ingredients, and they're a breeze to make. That said, I deploy a few, small, but (I'll argue) significant personal preferences when I set out to make energy bites.
No-bake Energy Bites

Energy Bite Strategy

Most recipes tend to use raw coconut flakes, and raw oats. I find a light toasting of both is worth the slight extra effort. I also like chia seeds here, and tend to use them as my seed of choice, but I first beat them up in a mortar and pestle a bit before adding them to the mix. Also, feel free to swap things up a bit – trade in alternate seeds, use whatever sweetener you prefer, add spices if you like, or an alternative nut butter, or keep things simple, and just go with this version – Enjoy!

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A quick side note, I make these with whatever nut butter I have on hand. Typically peanut or almond butter, but in the video up above you'll see sunflower seed butter. All great!

No-bake Energy Bites

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Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Bowl

This is the sort of meal I crave after a travel stint. It's when I end up lingering around the produce section even longer than usual in an effort to cherry-pick the most vibrant ingredients. In this case, rainbow chard with electric pink stems, a tight head of pale yellow cauliflower, just-cut chives – green, tall, and straight. The perfect avocado. I think we can all agree, these types of rainbow bowls are all about finding good ingredients. Here's how it played out. Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Bowl
Lightly cooked cauliflower is chopped, then tossed with turmeric, cumin, cayenne, and a touch of ghee – although, you could certainly, use coconut or olive oil. The cauliflower is the base to which you add whatever else you might have at hand – sliced avocado, hard-boiled eggs, toasted seeds, rainbow chard stems, lettuces. While the cauliflower was steaming, I pureed the chives with olive oil for a finishing drizzle. It's a bowl exploding with color and freshness, light and bright with enough substance to keep me feeling A+ throughout the afternoon….Enjoy! -h

Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Bowl

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