Category Archives: Lunchbox

The Lively Lunchbox

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 1.44.58 PM

I’m excited to introduce a new blog of mine that I just started yesterday: The Lively Lunchbox.  This blog will feature lunches that I send with my 6 year old to 1st grade.  Please note, these are not strictly vegan.  While my kids do eat mostly vegan, I do not restrict any food groups from them.  The lunches will be heavy on the fruits/veggies/carbs, but you will find all food groups there.  I know a lot of us who enjoy the plant based lifestyle ourselves are still living with family members who don’t.  If this describes you and you would like some healthy lunchbox ideas for your kids this school year, please follow me at The Lively Lunchbox.  Thanks!

Veggie Inspired Journey will continue to feature only vegan recipes.  I have a post coming up soon that will be all about a grain many of you probably haven’t tried yet.  Stay tuned…

Advertisements

What to do with all that summer zucchini…

If you are anything like me, you find yourself with an over abundance of zucchini somewhere in the middle of summer.  It’s high in fiber and low in calories.  It’s mild taste lends itself well to almost anything from stirfrys to sweets.  Along with zucchini’s antioxidant properties, you will find folate, potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C among the health benefits.

Here are a few ways we enjoyed our zucchini last week:

Deli Macaroni Salad

IMG_1827

By far our favorite pasta salad for picnics or potlucks.  Read my original post about this delicious vegan macaroni salad here.   I change it up a little every time I make it to incorporate the veggies I already have on hand.  This time I omitted the peas and added shredded zucchini instead.  And I always double the amount of veggies.  Yum!

IMG_1826

Summer Veggie Tart

IMG_1832

I admit I melted a tiny bit of mozzarella on one half for the hubby and kids.  My half was cheese free.  This was great.  I served it with a big salad made of green leaf lettuce, spinach, red pepper strips, fresh from the garden cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Zucchini Bread

IMG_1650

Who doesn’t love zucchini bread?  This one did not disappoint.  Sweetened only with dates, it’s super healthy.  I love the addition of the nutmeg.

IMG_1829

Roasted Zucchini with Thyme

We also enjoyed zucchini simply roasted with a touch of olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. I didn’t take a photo of this, but you know what roasted veggies look like, right?  Hubby and I probably enjoy them best this way. Easy and flavorful.

  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix all ingredients together and place on baking sheet in one even layer.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until zucchini is just tender.  We like it best with a little bit of bite left.  Enjoy!

All About Cantaloupe!

This week’s plant based ingredient is: Cantaloupe!

Cantaloupe is really nutritious, high in Vitamins C, A, several of the Bs and K.  It is also high in potassium, magnesium and fiber.

We eat a lot of cantaloupe in this house.  It’s a favorite of the kids and they like to eat it in bite-size cubes.  The beginning of the week almost always finds a container of cantaloupe cubes in the fridge.  A mere 2-3 days later and the kids have licked it clean.  While we did enjoy a good amount of plain cantaloupe cubes this week, I decided to see just what else this juicy orange fruit might be good for.  As it turns out, it’s pretty good in pasta, smoothies, salsa and even bread!

 

Orechiette w/ Cantaloupe and Avocado

IMG_1102

I left out the mozzerella and used walnuts in place of the pine nuts.  I loved it.  A perfect light summer meal.

IMG_1107

 

 

Cantaloupe Smoothie

IMG_1127

 

 

  • 1/2 medium cantaloupe
  • 2 frozen bananas

Blend.  Enjoy.

IMG_1134

 

 

 

Cantaloupe Quick Bread

IMG_1110

 

I was intrigued by a recipe I found on Pinterest, but it contained eggs, oil, white flour and 2 full cups of white sugar.  Yikes!  I didn’t think it would be too hard to veganize and I was right.  I replaced the oil with smashed banana and because of the sweetness of the banana, I was able to cut down the added sugar to only 1/2 cup of maple syrup.  I replaced the eggs with “flax eggs” and swapped out the white flour for whole wheat pastry flour.  Here is the new, healthier version.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp flaxmeal (ground flax seeds)
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 1 cup smashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pureed cantaloupe
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Mix the flaxmeal and warm water and set aside for a few minutes to thicken.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Lightly grease 2 9×5 loaf pans.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flax eggs, smashed banana, maple syrup, vanilla and cantaloupe puree.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger.  Stir flour mixture into cantaloupe mixture and combine, but do not overmix.  Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from loaf pans and enjoy.

IMG_1114

This bread is delicious and just sweet enough.  It has gone great with my morning coffee as well as acting as dessert.  The kids all love it too!  You can’t really taste any cantaloupe flavor, however.  This quick bread would be a great use for that overripe cantaloupe you let sit on your counter for one too many days.

 

 

Cantaloupe Salsa

IMG_1135

I’m a huge fan of peach salsa, so when I came across this recipe for cantaloupe salsa, I knew I just had to try it.  It’s light and refreshing…perfect for a summer appetizer.  We ate it with tortilla chips, but if you are an omnivore, check out the link to see how the original recipe was paired.

IMG_1139

 

And now for an exceprt from my girls’ favorite book (for the moment anyway), What Color Is Your Apple?:

“Fruits and vegetables come in many colors.

Each one a yummy treat!

Red, orange, yellow, purple, green.

Crispy, crunchy, sweet!

What is your favorite color food to eat?”

Citrus Farro Salad w/ Golden Beets and Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

I’m so impressed with my kids this week. The girls (2.5 years old) have been eating the Roasted Beet and Walnut Spread like it’s candy. They’ve been dipping crackers, cucumbers, sugar snap peas and spoons into this stuff all week. I have a feeling this is going to go in the rotation quite often. They were asking for more today, but they already ate it all! And my son (6 years old) is asking when we are going to make the Strawberry Beet Smoothie again. FYI: Trader Joe’s sells packaged roasted peeled beets. Obviously, they are more expensive than buying loose beets, but if you don’t have the time to roast them yourself, they are a great alternative. Beets are so nutritious that I say go for it!

I’m wrapping up “Beet Week” with 2 outstanding recipes! The first is a light summer salad and the second a fudgy decadent dessert.

Citrus Farro Salad w/ Golden Beets

IMG_1081

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large golden beets, scrubbed and trimmed
  • Beet greens, chopped
  • 1 cup orange slices
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked farro

 

IMG_1071

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut beets in half or quarters and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Cover with another piece of foil and roast until tender, about 50-60 minutes. Let cool.IMG_1073 IMG_1074
  3. Peel off the skins, then cut the beets into bite-size chunks
  4. In large bowl, combine cooked farro, beets, beet greens, celery, and oranges. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the farro mixture and toss well to combine.

IMG_1078 IMG_1080

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

IMG_1089

I mean, who doesn’t love a good cupcake, right?  And if it’s packed with nutrition, even better.  These do have more sugar than I would normally use, but they sounded so intriguing, I just had to try them.

IMG_1086

Mmmm, fresh out of the oven.  I could ever so slightly taste the beet flavor, but I can pretty much guarantee if you didn’t know it was in there, you wouldn’t taste it.  So, feel free to serve them up to your healthfood adverse friends.

IMG_1094

 

I have just recently discovered the blog where this recipe came from, The Minimalist Baker. I’m already a fan.  Lots of good looking recipes there, so take a look around after you download the recipe for these cupcakes!

IMG_1095

 

Are you a beet lover?  How do you like to eat your beets?

Next up will be all about Cantaloupes!  It’s M’s favorite food.  I can’t wait to experiment with all the yummy ways to use it.

 

The Perfect Summer Lunch

This was my go-to sandwich last summer and I’ve been craving it again the last few weeks.  I have made this numerous times and just can’t get enough.  You can change out the veggies to please your palate.  If you pre-cut your veggies when you get home from the grocery store, this will come together in seconds.  And if not, it still only takes a few minutes.  I find it flavorful enough that you don’t need any special spreads or dressing, but hummus would be a great addition.  You could also add some mustard or vegan mayo if you wish.  Proof that eating healthly can be quick, delicious and beautiful!

The Perfect Summer Veggie Sandwich

1/2 avocado, smashed or cut into thin slices

1/2 carrot, shredded or shaved

1/4 sweet red pepper, sliced thin

4 or 5 thin slices of cucumber

2 leaves of Bibb lettuce (or spinach or kale or romaine, etc)

2 slices Ezekial Whole Wheat Bread (or your bread of choice), toasted

Layer up the ingredients on one slice of bread and top with the other slice.  Serve with some delicous summer fruit on the side.  Enjoy!

IMG_0621

Once the radishes in my garden are ready to harvest, I will be adding those to this sandwich as well.  This would be perfect for a picnic on the go too!

IMG_0623

Today, I used the same veggie ingredients, but opted for a spinach tortilla instead of bread.  So yummy!!

IMG_0715

IMG_0714

Doesn’t that look gorgeous?!  Delicious!

 

 

 

 

My New Favorite Black Bean Burger

I am always trying new burger recipes, but I find myelf consistenly going back to the same black bean burger recipe that uses vital wheat gluten because it just works so well.  Well, I finely found one withOUT vital wheat gluten that stays together just as well (if not better) and was so delicious.  They even look more like the hamburgers that your carnivore friends would love.  I “fried” these up in my new non-stick pan (that I am soooo loving by the way…absolutely no oil necessary), but they hold together so well that I am betting they would be wonderful on the grill too.

Black Bean Pecan Burgers by Namely Mary

IMG_0611

I did add a few splashes of liquid smoke to the ingredients…smoked paprika would work too.  I just love that smoky flavor.

IMG_0612

Looks like a real hamburger, right?  I’m glad this recipe made a lot because 3 of the 5 of us went back for seconds.  And, I packed one in M’s lunchbox today and the girls and I had them for lunch today here at home.  Yum!

IMG_0614

I topped mine high with mustard, veganaisse, lettuce, tomato and pickles.  I was going to do avocado instead of veganaisse, but my avocados weren’t quite ripe yet.

IMG_0615

 

Looks super yummy, don’t you think?  They come together really quick, especially if you have leftover rice.  Go make up a batch today!  Enjoy!

Broccoli Grape Salad

Picnic and BBQ season is finally among us!!  Here in the midwest, I was beginning to think it was never going to happen. (What was with that snow last Friday?!?!). Now that it IS here, you are going to need some delish dishes to take to all those parties you plan on attending, right?  I have the perfect potluck salad for you!  Just swap the mayonaisse for Veganaisse and you’ve got yourself the most amazing vegan side dish.  I have made this three times in the last two weeks. And I haven’t gone to any BBQs, parties or picnics…it’s just for us. I’ve been eating it for lunch most days or a little afternoon snack.  Its THAT good!

Broccoli Grape Salad

Image

The Broccoli Grape salad is on the right (don’t forget to use Veganaisse instead of mayo).  On the left is a Three Bean Kale salad, which was also terrific.  I actually mixed the two together one day and it worked out great…so yummy!