This post is sponsored in conjunction with#NationalSlowCookerMonth . I received complimentary product from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the #NationalSlowCookerMonth recipes. All opinions are mine alone.
On busy days, my slow cooker is pretty much my best friend. I love being able to set it up, walk away for the day, and have a hot meal ready when we’re walking in the door at dinner time.
And is there anything more comforting than a hot bowl of soup? And this is comfort food you can feel good about – this plant-based meal is full of veggies!
One of the things I love about blogging is the community. Getting connected with other bloggers has made this blog better. I’m constantly learning and trying new things.
One of the things I’ve been diving into much more often this year, thanks to being friends with The Baking Fairy, is vegan cooking.
I can’t say I think that our family will ever go fully vegan, but even small steps help lessen the environmental impact of our food system. A few meals a week without animal products? That’s something we can totally do.
Today is World Vegan Day and I’m excited to share these super easy, super flavorful tacos – that just happen to be vegan too.
Side dishes are on my list of “things I regularly forget about”. I’m not the only one that can plan main dishes for every night and conveniently forget that I should serve something along with it, right?
Except Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is all about the sides for me. And this would be a great one.
Simple ingredients and quick prep make this a winner any night, but it’d be especially great for your holiday table, given how great butternut squash are this time of year.
This vegetable stew is what we made for Family Dinner Book Club last month, and it’s such a great option for Lenten Fridays. It’s a dump and go slow cooker meal – perfect for the end of the week.
I honestly wasn’t sure how this would be received by the kids since it really is just a big bowl of vegetables – but I was pleasantly surprised that they were happy with it. You could easily switch up the veggies to fit your family’s tastes – or add chicken or pasta.
3 red potatoes, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 cup cut green beans
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 lemon, for the juice
Add everything, except lemon, to the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until potatoes are easily cut with a fork. Stir in juice of the lemon and serve.
For Christmas, my cousin gave Jake his own set of cooking tools – a mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a whisk, an apron… the works. He’s absolutely enthralled with it. We rearranged a cabinet so all of his stuff could be kept where he could reach it and – you guessed it – he’s been begging to help with dinner nearly every night since.
I love cooking with the kids. I really do. But on a Thursday evening when I’m just trying to get something on the table before everyone start melting down, the last thing I want to do is slow down enough for toddler hands – so I’ve been working on giving him his own, supplemental project to help with.
Like guacamole as I work on the burritos.
This, by far, isn’t the fanciest guac recipe out there, but it’s perfect for a kid to help with (or do mostly themselves – Jake did!)
Scoop out and mash the avocado
Stir everything together
Older kids can measure the lime juice and salt, younger kids can add in pre-measured ingredients
Adults will need to:
Cut the avocado and remove the pit
Chop the tomato
Measure ingredients, if working with a younger child
Easy Guacamole (from Jake’s Amazing Chef set!) Makes about 1 1/2 cups
2-3 ripe avocados
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
Tortilla chips, for serving
Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash.
This soup was my contribution to the Soup Swap Party. It’s one my Mom has been making for years – it’s really easy and really good.
I generally expect soup recipes to take a while, but this one is super quick. The bulk of this soup is canned beans and canned tomatoes so the faster you open cans, the faster this makes it to the table. It took me about twenty minutes total, because I’m generally a terrible can-opener and was juggling the baby. I’m fairly certain you would be faster.
I eat mine without toppings (cornbread on the side is my go-to!) but it would be good with tortilla strips, cheddar or sour cream.
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp. canola oil
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
2 cans vegetable broth
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
In a large pot, heat the oil to shimmering and cook onion until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.
While we’re really only a few days into October Unprocessed, I think I already found my favorite dish of the month. This salad is fantastic. I whipped it up on a day that baby boy was particularly needy so it literally took me all day to get it finished. When Mark walked in from work at 8 pm, he’s like, “Is that dinner?” and when I said, “No, its today’s lunch” he knew better than to ask too many questions (and graciously helped do the dishes when I finally finished). I had really thought about ditching these once lunch time passed and I didn’t have anything more than some burned sweet potato, but I’m really, really glad I didn’t.
Much like the oats I shared a few days ago, I suggest multiplying the recipe and making several at once – it’s just more efficient to cook a few days worth of sweet potatoes and quinoa in one shot if you’ll be eating this for several days.
1 small sweet potato, unpeeled, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 red pepper, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
For the dressing: 1/4 cup mango, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. water
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Toss the diced sweet potato with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the quinoa to a covered pot along with half a cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is all absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
Make the dressing: combine mango, vinegar and water in a blender and pulse until smooth.
Assemble the salad in a jar: Place the black beans at the bottom and then layer on the quinoa, dressing, red pepper, spinach, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.
Cover jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. When you’re ready to eat, shake the jar or dump it into a bowl and toss to combine.
I’m used to working from home three days a week. This week, I was in the office every day to help with some training. When you add up the one hour commute each way and the lunch hour I usually use to do housework, nine of my usual “doing stuff” hours have been chewed up. That’s like an extra day! Quite obviously, quick and easy has been the go-to for food this week.
I mixed these bars up over the weekend and they’ve been a great go-to for breakfast or a post-gym snack. Loaded with nuts and seeds, they’re quite filling – and since they’re no-bake, they only take about five minutes to prepare.
These can easily be made vegan – just use vegan chocolate chips – and gluten-free – just make sure you’re using gluten-free oats.
No-Bake Peanut Butter and Chocolate Granola Bars (slightly adapted from 86 Lemons) Makes an 8×8 pan worth
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. flax seed meal
1/8 c. chia seeds
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/3 c. pumpkin seeds
1/2 c. cashews
1/2 c. almonds
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
1/2 c. agave nectar
3/4 c. natural peanut butter
Line an 8×8 pan with parchment.
In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flax meal, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds and chocolate chips. Stir agave nectar in until evenly distributed. Stir in peanut butter until well combined throughout.
Press mixture into prepared pan. Freeze for 1 hour, then remove from pan and cut into bars. Store in freezer until ready to eat.