Category Archives: Appetizers

Roasted Japanese Eggplant

Roasted Japanese Eggplant Balanced Grettie Collage

Eggplant used to intimidate me.  I was always told that if you didn’t prepare it right the eggplant would turn out bitter, so I think I avoided making it myself and just stuck to ordering it when I went out to eat.

This year I decided to plant Japanese eggplant in my garden, so I guess that meant I would have to learn how to work with it.  I have one Japanese eggplant plant in my garden and it has just gone nuts.  I pick at least 10 eggplant on a weekly basis!

When I had my first eggplant harvest I did a quick search for recipes and found THIS one on the Real Healthy Recipes blog.

I simplified the recipe by leaving out the lemon since I like to prepare a ton at a time and want to be able to use it throughout the week for different purposes (not every meal lends itself to lemon).  I also use about 1/2 that amount of oil and found that I only need to roast them for about 18-22 minutes (maybe my eggplant are small?).  The first time I made this recipe I roasted the eggplant for the full 40 minutes and found them too be a little too mushy for my taste.

Scoring the eggplant as she suggests really allows the garlic flavor to get in there and they turn out so pretty.

Head on over to the Real Healthy Recipes blog to find out the method for preparing this yummy eggplant dish.  Click HERE for the printable recipe.

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Filed under Appetizers, Gluten Free, Quick, Recipes, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables



Dates have been satisfying my sweet tooth a lot lately.  I usually buy date rolls in the bulk section of Mother’s market.  I tend to buy 8 or so and keep them in my car so I can snack on one when I have my “taxi driver” hat on in the afternoons chauffeuring my kiddos to and from their activities.

While the bulk date rolls are not too expensive, it is always cheaper to make these types of goodies at home when possible.  I always have a big container of Medjool dates (from Costco) in my pantry, so this morning I pitted 14 of them and set to work making my own coconut covered date rolls/truffles.


Medjool dates, pitted (I used 14 large dates)
Reduced fat finely shredded unsweetened coconut 
Water – if soaking is needed

Date Truffle Process

Depending upon how moist your dates are, you may need to soak them in water.  My dates were pretty moist and I soaked them for 30 minutes which resulted in a date mixture that was too wet for my liking (As you can see in the image at the top right).  If my dates are moist the next time I make these, I will not soak them at all since I prefer firm date rolls.

Place the soaked (or not soaked) dates in the food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides 3-4 times.  Do not add extra water…I promise it will eventually begin blending.

If you do not have a food processor you can achieve similar results by using your knife and finely chopping the dates until they form a paste.

Place some shredded coconut in a shallow bowl and scoop some of the date mixture onto the shredded coconut (I used my 1 Tbs. scooper).  Roll / cover the date mixture with the coconut.  Continue until all of the date mixture has been used.

Place in the freezer to set. These taste amazing straight out of the freezer.

Using 14 large Medjool dates I was able to make 24 truffles.

These would be a great addition to your Easter brunch.



Filed under Appetizers, Candy / Fudge, Dessert, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

UNFRIED TOFU & EZ Tofu Press Giveaway

Fried Tofu

I have been making this well-loved tofu dish for years, however due to my hypothyroid issues (click HERE for more details) I have avoided soy for a while now.  If it weren’t for my thyroid issues, I would include tofu, tempeh, and edamame in my diet…I don’t think there is any harm (actually there are benefits) to including unprocessed soy items in your diet rotation.  Having said that, I would avoid the processed soy foods that are über plentiful in the market today.

The creator of the EZ Tofu Press ($26.99) recently contacted me and offered to send me a free sample of his product to test and review.  I own the TofuXpress which retails for $39.95 now, but I paid nearly $50 for it when I purchased it…ouch!!!

I was curious to see how the two tofu presses compared.  While I like the fact that the TofuXpress I already own and use is a completely self-contained unit, it takes a hours for the tofu to drain completely which is a drag and means that you absolutely have to plan ahead.  The new EZ Tofu Press seriously drained completely within 7 minutes!  I put the tofu in the press, prepared the rest of the ingredients for my meal, and the tofu was ready to go.  Major bonus.

EZ Tofu Press Collage

The EZ Tofu Press was also easy to clean…all I needed to do was rinse it off.  Make sure you go to the bottom of the post and learn how you can enter to win your very own EZ Tofu Press.

The traditional way to prepare this tofu dish is to fry it in a bit of oil.  I thought I would try “frying” the tofu in a dry pan (I used my ceramic pan) and I was happy with the results.

The sauce I always served this dish with is Black Bean Garlic Sauce, which is NOT gluten-free.  If you would like to serve the tofu with a gluten-free sauce, SAN J has some really tasty ones (their Szechuan sauce rocks).  Keep in mind that you want the sauce to be a bit overflavored, oversalty, etc. since you are serving it with absolutely plain tofu.


block of tofu, pressed
1 Tbs. black bean garlic sauce (or sauce of your choosing)
1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely minced
chilies, finely minced (optional)
green onions, minced

Slice the tofu into 1/4″ thick slices.  Now slice the slices into thirds (See image above).

If using black bean garlic sauce, mix the sauce, the ginger, chilies if using, and 1-2 Tbs. water (depending on your personal taste) to a bowl and mix to incorporate.

Heat your pan on HI.  Place the tofu slices in the pan and dry-fry them for 2-3 minutes per side until browned.  If you insist on using oil, use it sparingly.


Serve immediately topped with a drizzle of sauce and garnished with the minced green onions.

For a printable version of this recipe click here.



We have a winner…



I emailed my best friend!!


Thank you to all who entered!


Filed under Appetizers, Beans/Legumes, Giveaways, Main Dish, Quick, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian


Here is a round-up of some of my favorite pumpkin recipes…my daughter began her day with the oatmeal.  Have a happy and safe Halloween!!!










Filed under Appetizers, Beans/Legumes, Breakfast, Dessert, Frozen Treats, Gluten Free, Holiday, Holidays, Ice Cream, Kid Friendly, Pudding / Mousse, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian


For this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment, I was assigned the blog, Daily Dish Recipes.  Nicole is a mother of 5 teenagers (my hat’s off to her) who has been a food writer since 2003.

I decided to make Curry Movie Popcorn, which she made for another SRC assignment.  I found lots of wonderful recipes on her blog, but somehow I couldn’t get my mind off of that popcorn!

I took her advice and opted to add the spices to the pan prior to cooking the popcorn vs. pouring the melted oil and spice over the popped corn (which is the method she originally tried and didn’t like)…it worked like a charm!

While I generally stay away from oil, the coconut oil adds such a nice flavor and compliments the curry spice.  I did however eliminate the butter from the recipe because it wasn’t necessary.

This was so easy and quick.  I am already coming-up with other flavor combos…anyone want some spicy chipotle popcorn???


  • 3 tablespoons butter (I omitted)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (I used 1 tsp Curry Powder & 1 tsp Garam Masala)
  • 1/2 tsp Celtic Salt
  • 1/2 cup (75 g.) popping corn


Melt the coconut oil in a pan (make sure it is large enough for the popped corn).  Whisk in the salt, curry powder, and Garam Masala.

Add the popping corn and pop while shaking the pan to avoid burning.

Serve immediately.


Filed under Appetizers, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian

RECIPE REDUX – Most Memorable Summer Meal

I first learned about a group called the Recipe Redux through a blog I follow called Jeanette’s Healthy Living.  The recipe Redux was founded by registered dietitians and I knew I wanted to take part in it when I read what they are all about…

“As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux is focused on taking delicious dishes, keeping them delicious, but making them better for you.  The group was founded “[O]n the belief that healthier eating should always taste delicious. As the Latin term ‘redux’ means to revisit or reinvent, we are reinventing the idea of healthy eating with a taste-first approach. We aim to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover.”

Once accepted into the group I received my first assignment which was to blog about our ‘Most Memorable Vacation Meal.’ The challenge was to make the meal healthier.

As I thought through the vacations in my life and the wonderful meals I have had, one truly did stand out.  It may seem overly simplistic, however this meal was truly a standout to me.  Last summer we went on a Disney Cruise on the Disney Dream (click HERE to read my post about it).  The crew was so overly accomodating to my vegan diet and to the dietary restrictions my daughter lives with on a daily basis.

Disney owns their very own island called Castaway Cay in the Bahamas and the first day we spent on the island the crew sent my daughter’s and my meals for the day onto the island.  When we went to pick-up our lunch at the designated restaurant, both my daughter and I were amazed by what they prepared for us.  They provided my daughter (5 years old at the time) with 3 meals to choose from and made me the most gorgeous ENORMOUS fruit platter.

It was HOT HOT HOT that day and the fruit was perfectly ripe and gorgeously displayed.  I could not have imagined a more perfect meal.  Whole food, bursting with flavor, naturally cooling to the body…the perfect summer meal…a meal I couldn’t even possibly make healthier.

What is your “Most Memorable Vacation Meal” and have you taken the time to re-create it as well as make it healthier?


Filed under Appetizers, Breakfast, Fruit, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Recipe Redux, Recipes, Salad, Vegan, Vegetarian


Mangoes rank right up there with dark chocolate in my book.  I will happily eat any and all varieties of mangoes, but Champagne mangoes are insanely delicious this time of year. One of my favorite after dinner snacks is a bowl of frozen diced mango.  I am always amazed by how creamy plain frozen mango is and the last time I sat down with a bowl of them inspiration struck…these need to be popsicles!!! There is no point in even writing down this recipe because there is nothing in these bad boys other than 100% pure mango. Remove the skin, dice-up the mangos, place them in your Vitamix, and puree until smooth as silk.  Pour the mango puree into popsicle molds and freeze overnight. Looks like I found a new after dinner treat! Click HERE to see some super fun popsicle molds…I think I need to get some more. ..  Please note that I am a Vitamix affiliate…and I wholeheartedly endorse the use of their wonderful product.


Filed under Appetizers, Dessert, Frozen Treats, Fruit, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Raw, Recipes, Sorbet, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – SPORK SISTERS Spicy Corn Fritters with Lemongrass

I am so excited that the Spork Sisters are guest posting today!  I met Heather and Jenny at the Natural Products Expo West and they were as sweet as could be, but what really won me over was the amazing food they were serving.  In a land of sample aplenty, their food stood out and was wonderfully flavorful.

If this is your first introduction to the Spork Sisters, take note.  The ladies just released their first cookbook (Spork-Fed) and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  For some time now the ladies have been teaching cooking classes in LA to rave reviews.  For those of you who can’t get to LA, they now have online cooking classes.

I highly recommend checking out their site and learning more about the awesome duo (click HERE).

The following recipe is from their cookbook, Spork-Fed with a foreword by fellow fans and sisters, Emily and Zooey Deschanel.

Spicy Corn Fritters with Lemongrass (gluten free)

INTRO: These lil’ fritters are special! They get a lot of their essence from lemongrass, one of the most important flavors of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Just the smell of these fritters cooking will attract attention from neighbors all around. When you make a Southeast Asian feast, be sure these are part of the menu.

Yields about 8 fritters

2/3 cup gluten-free cornmeal, plus 1⁄2 cup for coating
3 tablespoons rice flour
2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon neutral tasting high-heat oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon tamari (wheat-free)
1 tablespoon chili paste (chili garlic paste or sweet chili paste)
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1 ear corn, kernels sliced from cob, or 1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
1⁄2 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
1⁄4 cup water, more or less, as needed
2 tablespoons neutral tasting high-heat oil, for cooking


In a medium bowl, combine 2/3 cup cornmeal, rice flour and baking powder. Whisk until uniform.

Add maple syrup, oil, lime juice, tamari, chili paste, ginger and sea salt, and whisk.

Add corn, lemongrass and water to mixture. Amount of water needed will vary, depending on which brand of rice flour is used. Consistency should be fairly firm and mixture should hold together when scooped. Form mixture into 2-inch round patties.

Add additional cornmeal to a bowl and coat patties. Tap patties gently to remove excess cornmeal.

Heat a large sauté pan and add high-heat oil. Place patties in pan and cook over low-medium heat for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until golden.

Note: You can double the recipe when serving more than four.  For a printable version of this recipe click here.

The Sporkie Scoop

FOR YOUR SMARTS Lemongrass is native to Southeast Asia and has been consumed and used as medicine for thousands of years! Lemongrass is a general term for about 55 species of grasses. Some types are used in perfumes and cosmetics because of the clean, fresh smell.

FOR YOUR PARTS Lime juice contains a compound called limonene, which is a major cancer fighter! It can also boost your white blood cell activity. That’s some powerful citrus!


Filed under Appetizers, Books, Gluten Free, Guest Blog, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian


Since Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner I have been thinking about what I want to serve for dinner that night and I thought a Tostada Bar might be fun.  Traditionally tostada shells are not exactly healthy (since they are fried), so today I played around in the kitchen and found out that it is actually REALLY easy to make baked tostada shells / bowls with corn tortillas.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, softened some corn tortillas (which can be done on the stove top, or in the microwave), shaped the softened corn tortillas into a bowl by placing them inside some small springform pans and topping them with little pastry molds to keep the middle of the tortilla down while they baked, and baked them for 15 minutes.   How easy is that?  I am sure the same method would work for flour tortillas as well…just watch the baking time since I haven’t tried it myself.

Here are some ideas for what to put-out for a Tostada Bar:

  • Beans (whole or refried)
  • Vegan sour cream
  • Shredded cheese (Daiya is our favorite)
  • Vegan Queso (click HERE for my recipe)
  • Salsa Fresca (click HERE for my recipe)
  • Guacamole
  • Chopped onion
  • Sliced olives
  • Sliced Jalapenos
  • Shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • chopped cilantro
  • A variety of hot sauce
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Finely chopped mushrooms cooked down with taco seasoning

Is there anything you would include in your Tostada Bar that I haven’t listed???  I’d love to hear your ideas.


Filed under Appetizers, Gluten Free, Main Dish, Quick Tips, Recipes


Over the holidays I was gifted a copy of Nava Atlas’s Vegan Holiday Kitchen by my parents and I absolutely love it.  I was recently offered a copy of the book to review and when I mentioned that I already owned it we agreed that it would be wonderful to give a copy to one lucky Veggie Grettie reader.

Nava Atlas is the author and illustrator of many books on vegan and vegetarian cooking, most recently Vegan Holiday Kitchen, Vegan Express, Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons, The Vegetarian Family Cookbookand The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient GourmetA book on leafy greens, Wild About Greenswill be published in June 2012.

I have been given permission to share three of the recipes from Vegan Holiday Kitchen with you…the hardest part was choosing which ones to share!


Click HERE for the printable recipe


Click HERE for the printable recipe


Click HERE for the printable recipe


ASHLEY won the giveaway with the following comment-

I would really appreciate this book because I have recently been diagnosed with Lupus and as a part of keeping myself healthy (as well as my family) I have changed to a vegetarian/vegan diet as it helps keep my symptoms better controlled.

All recipes and images reprinted with permission from Vegan Holiday Kitchen © 2011 by Nava Atlas, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.  Photographs by Susan Voisin


Filed under Appetizers, Cake, Dessert, Dip, Giveaways, Holiday, Main Dish, Recipes, Sauce / Spread / Jam / Yogurt, Vegan, Vegetarian