5 Easy Weeknight Meals: Your 7 Day Family Jump Start!

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New Recipe! A Whole Lotta Enchiladas

New Recipe! A Whole Lotta Enchiladas!

Who doesn’t love a good enchilada? You go to a Mexican restaurant, look at the “lite” menu, and then order your favorite dish instead. The server puts the plate down on the table and you look at that steaming plate of enchiladas covered in gooey cheese, anticipating the flavors about to hit your tongue. You know it’s bad for you, but it tastes SO GOOD!

Well, here’s a healthy version that your kids will gobble up! You can eat a lot a this enchilada! It’s healthy and delicious and your kids will love it!

With the whole vegan bit, I thought I was never going to experience cheese enchilada yumminess again. Then I decided to just go for it. It worked! I had four (non-vegan) taste testers, all of whom told me that that the dish was not only good, but they couldn’t even tell it was vegan. Score!

Here’s the recipe:

Vegan Cheese Enchilada Casserole

(Serves 4-6)

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Make the cheese sauce the night before. When you go to start dinner the night before, put the cashews in water to soak. After dinner is cleaned up, make the cheese sauce. The rest of the recipe takes 30 minutes.

1 cup of my vegan cheese sauce (Each batch makes 2 cups)

Cheese Sauce Ingredients

1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least an hour

1 roasted red pepper (can be from a jar!)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup almond milk

Cheese Sauce Directions

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend. Done!

Enchilada Ingredients

3/4 – 1 cup of water, divided

1 small yellow onion, diced (approximately 1/2 cup)

1 large garlic clove, diced

1 cup lacinto kale, chopped

1 can black beans

1 can kidney beans (14-15 oz. You can also substitute either beans with 1 can of pinto beans)

1 can enchilada sauce (10 oz)

6-8 Food for Life sprouted organic corn tortillas (or another organic corn tortilla found at your local health food store)

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Enchilada Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8 x 8 square ceramic dish with olive oil.

Cook the onion and garlic in a medium-large sauté pan in 1/4 cup of water. Use medium heat for about 5 minutes and stir often.

Add another 1/4 cup water to the pan to keep the onions from sticking. Chop the kale while the onion and garlic cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the kale to the pan, along with another 1/4 cup of water. Cook another 5 minutes until onions are translucent, kale is wilted and water is absorbed. While the kale is cooking, drain and rinse the beans. Add the beans and enchilada sauce to the pan and mix all of the ingredients together. Then, either take half of the mixture and put it in the blender (don’t blend too much. it should still be chunky), or use an immersion blender and blend half of the bean mixture. Then mix it all again.

Place 4 corn tortillas on the bottom of the casserole dish (they will overlap).

Add the bean mixture from the pan and smooth out. Lay 3-4 more tortillas on top of the bean mixture, covering the whole width of the dish.

Pour the cheese sauce over the top of the tortillas, letting it spread out, spill over the edges and sink to the bottom.

Bake for 15 minutes. Serve with a steam bag of brown rice. (You can also make 2 casseroles at the same time and freeze one. You’ll have enough cheese sauce.)

Eat! Enjoy! Please let me know if there are any other Mexican (or other) recipes you want me to veganize or healthify. I’m up for the challenge!

5 Products for a Healthier, Sustainable Home

5 Products for a Healthier & Sustainable Home

Just like my sister would say that you should build your wardrobe with high-quality foundation pieces, so should you build your healthy home.

Just a few substitutions and you’re on your way to a more sustainable and healthier family. More sustainable because you aren’t using as many disposable products, like sandwich bags and plastic straws. Healthier because you aren’t using plastics that contain BPA and other endocrine disrupting (read: cancer-causing) chemicals.

Click on the pictures for links to buy those and/or similar items.

1. Glass food storage

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2. Stainless steel straws

Product Details

3. Reusable lunch containers (that you and your kids will actually use)

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4. Glass or stainless steel water bottle

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5. Filtered water (not from a plastic container!)

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Enjoy your healthy eating and drinking!

Cooking it all: Better than Vegan by Del Sroufe

forks over knives cookbook

Del Sroufe is known for a few specific accomplishments. First, he wrote the Forks Over Knives cookbook, (although the desserts are by one of my fave vegan chefs, Isa Chandra Moskowitz). Second, he has written a new cookbook, “Better than Vegan.”

The reason he wrote this new cookbook highlighting a whole foods, plant-based way of eating, is because of another one of his remarkable accomplishments: Getting up to 475 pounds as a vegan! Yes, as he writes in the book, animal products contain more fat and calories than plant-based foods…However, eating sugar and white bread sandwiches can sure do the job too! If someone has a compulsive eating issue, it doesn’t matter which foods they restrict themselves to. They will over-indulge on those foods. When you gorge on donuts, it doesn’t really matter whether they’re made with butter or non-dairy margarine.

del sroufe

One of the biggest premises of “Better than Vegan”, aside from avoiding animal products and focusing on whole, plant-based foods, is to avoid fat and oil. As I’ve written here before, oil – even olive oil – does not provide you with any nutrients. It simply provides you with fat and calories. Most foods can be made without added oil. Sroufe even avoids coconut and avocado, two high-fat plant foods, as much as possible. In addition he is careful to watch his intake of nuts and seeds. He advises his readers to save their (very low) fat intake for items that do contribute vital nutrients, such as the aforementioned nuts and seeds.

better than vegan

I’ve learned so many tricks the past few years, as I have transitioned to a vegan (and healthy, whole foods) way of eating. However, this book gave me several new tools that I intend to keep in my every day tool kit. I don’t think you can say much more than that when complimenting a cook book. (I hope my upcoming “Healthy Family Healthy You” book does the same for you!). First, here are some of the basics that I will be using daily, from now on. Then I’ll show you the Better than Vegan recipes I used them in. First, Sroufe uses cauliflower puree as a base for white sauces, salad dressing, and a replacement for coconut milk. I’ve already taken the puree and made my own Alfredo sauce recipe (to be shared with my readers in some form shortly).

I’m most excited about his recipe for low-fat mayonnaise, using the cauliflower puree and lite silken tofu. I’m changing all of the recipes in my book that use any type of vegan mayonnaise. Forget low-fat Nayonaise, the vegan option I usually recommend out of a lack of other choices. I made this one today and it is delicious! It tastes better than regular full-fat mayo as far as I’m concerned. However, it doesn’t contain a lot of fat and it actually provides nutrients! Can’t beat that!

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Then I took the Sroufe mayo and made his recipe for Potato Salad. Delish! A little too much mustard for my taste, but I can adjust that next time.

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I also made the Spinach Artichoke Dip (amazing, but VERY garlicky for mere mortals, who are not garlic fiends like me). Others may want to adjust the number of garlic cloves. I forgot to mince the garlic first so I ended up completely blending the dip (in order to incorporate all of the garlic cloves), rather than only pulsing the last few ingredients. It’s pretty bright green! I’ll be interested to see how it turns out next time, when I don’t whip the whole thing and leave some of it chunky.

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Finally, I made the Tropical “Chicken” Salad. Again, delish! I’m going to be adding it to my Thai Lunch in the Sun Room menu (Let me know if you want me to share that menu on my blog some time, like when spring actually shows up!).

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Aside from the cauliflower puree and mayonnaise recipes, there is one other basic that he includes in many of his recipes. He calls it, “Best Date Syrup Ever.” No matter how I try I just don’t like Stevia, so I left that out of the recipe. The syrup was plenty sweet without it and contributed to the “chicken” salad recipe. Basically, it’s a less processed, lower fructose option over the ubiquitous agave nectar (…which I absolutely think is too high in fructose and makes me fat. I just didn’t have another great liquid option before the date syrup. Brown rice syrup doesn’t always work with every recipe.)

Here’s a picture of the date syrup.

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I highly recommend this cookbook and will be adding it to the Resources section of my upcoming “Healthy Family, Healthy You” book. I’ll be providing very short vegan cookbook reviews in the Resources chapter. However, if you want more detailed reviews like this in the future, I’m happy to blog them. Just let me know!

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