Vegan by Accident

My daughter has some digestive issues and food allergies; so when she asked if we could try Vegan to see if that helped, I was very willing to please.  Some of her friends were vegan, so I had her ask for some favorite foods and recipes.  We would try to eat Vegan for one week.

One-and-a-half years later, we are Vegan at home, and “Vegan-ish” when we eat out.  We no longer eat any type of meat.  At home, I do not use dairy, eggs, cheese in my cooking.  When we eat out, we do have the occasional ice cream (we are totally addicted to The Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, and haven’t found anything Vegan that will satisfy this addiction).  We eat cheese pizza to be sociable if there is no other option, but try very hard to find something to eat that is as “Vegan-ish” as possible.

This Thanksgiving, I will have a Turkey Dinner ordered from our local grocery store fully cooked.  That dinner came with a green bean casserole, rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie.  I will make Stove Top Stuffing for them (not Vegan).  For the Vegans, we will have Butternut Squash Rissoto, Brussel Sprouts Sauteed with Craisins and Pistashios, and Vegan Chili (my daughter wanted this).

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving — whether or not you eat Turkey!

Vegan “Meatballs”

I had some leftover black beans from making lunches, and I was serving Spaghetti Squash with Broccoli and Spaghetti Sauce — leftover, too.  I decided they needed meatballs, so this recipe was born.  I don’t have a picture because they were gobbled up before I had the chance!  I will make them again and post one soon.


Serving size: 4

Total prep time: 5 Minutes

Cook time: 0-1 1/2 min


1 – 15 oz can Black Beans – rinsed, drained, and patted dry

1/2 c Hemp Seeds (found these at Walmart)

2T dried onion

Ketchup or tomato paste/sauce


Drain, and rinse beans.  Pat beans dry.  Mash beans – you want some texture.  Add hemp seeds and dried onions.  Mix.  Add Ketchup to moisten to a consistency where they can be molded into balls.  Use cookie drop to shape meatballs.  You can eat them is for raw vegan (let them sit a bit so the dried onion gets moist, not crunchy) or heat them up in microwave for 1 – 1/2 min.

I was looking for a meatball that didn’t fall apart.  I saw the hemp seeds on my counter, and questioned, “How about adding these instead of oatmeal/bread/cracker crumbs?”  We were all pleasantly surprised by the flavor and texture.  My daughter asked, “You don’t have a recipe for these, do you?”  She was correct.  I just threw the ingredients together until the consistency looked like it would form into a ball without falling apart.  So the real Improvisational Gourmet Technique would be a large handful of hemp seeds and a small handful of dried onions.  As you learn what you and your family like, you will begin to learn how much is needed.  When I started cooking on my own, I did not believe this was possible (though I did see that this is how my mom and grandma cooked).  Once you learn to trust yourself with cooking (and are willing to eat or throw out your mistakes), this is a real time-saver — and also makes you feel more in control of your meals.  It is then that you truly become the Improvisational Gourmet.

Vegan Reuben

This Reuben is made with Cannellini Beans substituting for the corned beef.

Serving size: 4

Total prep time: 5 Minutes


1 – 15 oz Cannellini Beans

1 – 8 oz can Sauerkraut

Shredded Vegan Cheese

Thousand Island Dressing

Vegan Parmesan Cheese


Drain and rinse beans and sauerkraut , and place in bowl. Add vegan cheeses and Thousand Island dressing as desired. Make a not sandwiches or wraps. Serve immediately or chill for later use.


I think I could just eat this with the beans and sauerkraut alone. The other ingredients make it more like a “traditional” (meat-based) version. Yes, the photo shows it on two bread crusts turned with the crust inward. Sometimes, that is what is left just for mom.

Mango Butter

Picture of Mango Butter

Mango Butter

A friend shared some mango butter with us this summer, and it has become a favorite for our family. To make mango butter, you first need to figure out how to slice a mango here’s a great video on how to do that. You need to make sure your mango is ripe so it will be the correct sweetness. Make sure you use a high-speed blender I used a Ninja.  I added about 3 tablespoons of almond milk to my mango, and processed it in the Ninja until it was smooth.  Then, I put it in a fancy jar, and now it’s ready to eat!

Cooking Once for Three Meals

I had a large package of hamburger (3lbs) that was ready to be cooked. I browned half of it for pie iron pizzas tonight, and to put it in spaghetti sauce tomorrow. The other half I used to make a meatloaf that we’ll eat in the next few days. Feels more like a vacation when you can plan ahead in preparing and cooking meals.