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Healthy, Hearty Avocado Quesadillas


• 4 whole-grain or whole wheat tortillas (each 10 to 11-inches in diameter)

• 2 large avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced

• 11/2 cups firmly packed, thinly sliced kale, remove stems before chopping

• 11/2 cups firmly packed, thinly sliced romaine lettuce, plus more for serving

• 2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced

• 8 heaping tablespoons prepared salsa, plus more for serving

• 4 heaping tablespoons vegan cheese (optional)

• 1/2 red sweet bell pepper, diced (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking pan with unbleached parchment paper. To assemble the first quesadilla, put a tortilla on a large dinner plate. On one side of the tortilla, layer one-quarter of the avocado slices, one-quarter of the kale, one-quarter of the romaine lettuce, one-quarter of the tomato slices, 2 heaping tablespoons prepared salsa and 1 heaping tablespoon of the optional vegan cheese. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling and gently press down so the tortilla becomes slightly compressed and holds together while cooking.

Carefully transfer the tortilla to the lined pan. Repeat the process to assemble the remaining quesadillas. Loosely cover the tortillas with a piece of unbleached parchment paper and then tent with foil. (This will keep the quesadillas from drying out as they bake.) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully uncover the quesadillas (the steam will be very hot!) and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the quesadillas are slightly crisp and golden on top. Put the pan on a wire rack. Let cool for 5 to 7 minutes. To serve, top each quesadilla with more romaine lettuce and some diced pepper, with extra salsa on the side.


Chocolate-Banana Gratin


• 3 slices whole-grain bread, cubed

• 3 medium bananas, sliced

• 1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

• 1 cup chocolate flavored nondairy milk

• 2 tablespoons maple syrup

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Liberally coat an 11 by 8-inch or similar sized baking dish with vegan margarine. Put the bread, bananas and cranberries into a medium-sized bowl and gently stir with a large spoon to combine. Put the nondairy milk, maple syrup and vanilla into a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the nondairy milk mixture over the bread mixture and gently stir to coat. Let stand 2 minutes.

Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared dish and spread in an even layer. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 35 minutes, or until hot and bubbling and the top of the pudding is a bit golden. Put the dish on a wire rack and let cool 7 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve alone, or with Cinnamon Cashew Cream (below)on the side. Stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator, leftover gratin will keep for 1 day.


Cinnamon Cashew Cream

Makes about 1 cup

2/3 cup raw cashews

1 1/4 cups water, plus more as needed.

2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more if needed

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Put the cashews in a small bowl and pour 1 cup water over the cashews to cover completely. Put the bowl in the refrigerator and let the cashews soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain the cashews and rinse with cool, running water. Put the soaked cashews, maple syrup, vanilla extract and cinnamon in a blender and top with 1/4 cup water. Blend for about 15 to 30 seconds, adding more water if needed, until the mixture becomes the consistency of thick cream. Taste and add more maple syrup, if desired.


Easy Rice and Beans

Makes 3 to 4 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried cilantro

1 teaspoon tamari

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin

1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

21⁄4 cups vegetable broth

1 can (about 15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup brown basmati rice, rinsed


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, tamari, cumin, turmeric, and crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, with a large spoon until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the broth, beans, and rice and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, until the rice is soft but not mushy. Fluff and serve.