Finally, a vegan cheese success story: delicious lasagna.

It was a feat that I had once deemed impossible: baking a vegan gluten-free lasagna that actually tasted like regular lasagna. And I mean I wanted the lasagna I could eat to be almost exactly like the real thing. Especially the way the dairy cheese melts and oozes into gooey deliciousness; I wanted it all in a allergy-friendly version. Here’s how I finally achieved it:
 

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 package Daiya mozzarella style shreds. (find out what they are)

– 1.5 jars of sauce, or about 48 oz.

–  Seasonings of your choice: I used dried basil, parsley, and oregano. Plus the basic salt and pepper.

– 1 medium zucchini

– 2 roma tomatoes, finely sliced lengthwise.

– 1/4 small onion, finely sliced.

– 1 package of gluten-free pasta*

*I used penne. You may be asking yourself: but wasn’t this girl just raving about lasagna? Well, yes, sort of. I do have gluten-free lasagna noodles. But I only have one package and I bought them in Maine while my husband and I were on Christmas leave. I can’t find them in South Carolina. So, I wanted to make sure that this recipe was going to work out. I didn’t want to waste my lovely gf lasagna noodles on a so-so, only “okay” pasta bake. So, I used penne (which can be found in abundance in SC) so I wouldn’t be as devastated if this recipe, like many others that used other vegan alternatives to cheese, flopped.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Begin cooking gluten-free pasta as directed on package.

2. While pasta is cooking, prepare your vegetables. Slice the zucchini, roma tomatoes and onions into thin 1/8-1/4 inch rounds.

3. Remember that a lasagna-style bake is all about proper layering. This is very important.

4. For the first layer: Spatter a bit of sauce in the bottom of a 7×11 pan (this will prevent the pasta from sticking). Then place a layer of pasta on the bottom. Cover lightly with sauce. Generously toss a layer of the mozzerella style shreds. Sprinkle with seasonings according to your preference. Again, lightly cover this with sauce. I would place a spoonful at a time, smoothing it out as I went.

5. The second layer: Repeat the steps before.

6. After the second layer of the cheese and sauce, add a layer of zucchini*(instead of pasta). Lightly cover with sauce. Then layer the roma tomato slices and arrange the onion circles around the tomatoes. Cover the vegetables with cheese and then cover with sauce.

7. The last layer: Add a final cover of pasta. Spread sauce over the pasta, topping with a thinner layer of cheese and finishing with seasoning for presentation and added yumminess.

8. Bake at 375° F  for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 325° F and bake for another 30-40 minutes.

STATS:

– Total cost: $2.99 pasta, $2.79 sauce, est. $0.60 zucchini, est $0.75 tomatoes, est $0.25 onion, $4.99 daiya shreds = $12.37.

– Cost per serving 12.37/6 = $2.06

– Total time: 30 minutes prep time + 50-60 minutes bake time = 1 hour 25 minutes +/- 5 minutes.

PROS:

– SO DELICIOUS! Especially for those who have been searching for a great dairy-free vegan alternative to dairy cheese.

– Incorporates more veggies that the average lasagna by substituting one of the pasta layers for zucchini.

CONS:

– At a total cost of more than $12, this is one of the most expensive meals that I make.

– Takes a long time to prepare and to bake.

Advertisements

Peppered ginger chicken stir-fry

I am a huge fan of stir-frys and this one turned out very flavorful and well-rounded.
 

INGREDIENTS:

– 1/2 of a yellow onion (a smaller one), chopped

– 1 scallion, finely chopped

– 1 garlic clove, minced*

– 1/4 of an orange bell pepper, chopped*

-1/4 of an green bell pepper, chopped

– 1/3 cup peas (I used frozen)

– 2 small carrots*, thinly sliced

– 2 stalks celery hearts*, thinly sliced

– 1/2 of a roma tomato, chopped

– About 1/2 cup pre-cooked chicken*, cut into small pieces (maybe more)

– 1/2 cup of brown rice*, cooked.

* All ingredients marked with an astrick are USDA-certified organic products. I try to buy organic as much as a possible. (More on this topic in a future post) *

ADDED SPICES:

– 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (if preferred and to taste)

– 1 tablespoon soy sauce, gluten-free.

– 1 tsp ground ginger

– 1 tsp olive oil + 3 tablespoons water, to add to the pan.

– 1 cup water, for rice.

– pinch of salt, for rice.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small pot. Once boiling, add rice and a pinch of salt and cover with the lid. Reduce heat to medium low so that the boil reduces to a simmer. Let cook for about 45 minutes, or as instructed on the package.

2. Place the olive oil and water combination a large pan over medium high heat. Add vegetables. Cook on high for a couple of minutes, adding 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 tsp of ginger, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to very low, place lid on, and let it slowly cook for 45 minutes, or until the rice is ready.

3. Once rice is cooked, and has set for several minutes, add it to the pan with vegetables. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1/2 tsp of ginger.

PROS:

• Inexpensive. And could be made even cheaper with frozen veggies.

• Versatile. Any vegetables could be swapped for the ones I used. Likewise, the chicken could easily be replaced with beef, shrimp, tofu, etc.

• Great use for leftovers. I used pieces of chicken from a whole chicken that I roasted the night before, and the vegetables that I had on hand.

• Easy. Aside from chopping the vegetables, this recipe takes minimal work.

• Healthy.

• Can be made in big batches.

CONS:

• Takes a long time to prepare.

• Only serves 2. However, could serve more if recipe was doubled or tripled.

The "chewy granola bar" cookie

I have made this cookie many times since discovering on Pinterest (I believe). I simply changed a few ingredients to make it dairy-free, and since it’s naturally gluten free, this cookie gets two thumbs up for being easy to make and versatile. I especially like this cookie because you can switch out ingredients for whatever you have on hand. But first here is the recipe that I use:
 

INGREDIENTS

– 1 cup of oats

– 2 TBSP peanut butter (I use creamy, but crunchy is also an option)

– 1 TSP baking powder

– 1 TSP vanilla

– 1 TSP cinnamon

– 1-2 TBSP brown sugar

– 2 packets of splenda (or you could use 2 TSP white sugar)

– A splash of milk (I use unsweetened Silk almond milk)

– 2 TBSP choc. chips (I prefer EnjoyLife dairy-free mini chocolate chips)

– 2 TBSP cranberries

ALTERNATIVES:

In addition to chocolate chips and cranberries, you could add chopped walnuts or pecans. Although, any kind of nut would work well, too. Or you could nix the cranberries and add a different type of dried fruit to give it a different flavor all together.

BAKING INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook for 8 minutes at 350° on a lightly greased baking sheet. It is really that simple.