Taco Lasagna: Gluten-free Vegan Recipe

Warm, savory, creamy, cheezy layers of zesty Latin-inspired casserole topped with cool, crisp, creamy, tangy veggies. Delish!

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I mean, who doesn’t love tacos? Who doesn’t love lasagna? Put them together and you have family-pleasing, freezer-friendly, make-ahead, meal-prep’able, gluten-free, vegan deliciousness!

Ready for the recipe? Read on.

GLUTEN-FREE VEGAN TACO LASAGNA 

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Ingredients:

2 cup salsa (I used this)
1 pkg Beyond Meat Feisty Crumbles
3 cup marinara (or 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes)
2 pkg frozen corn niblets
1 Tbl cumin
1 Tbl chilli powder
1 Tbl garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pkg corn tortillas
1.5 pkg Chao Original Creamy Slices
1 cup Go Veggie Vegan Cheddar Shreds
1.5 cup Just Mayo
1 pkg Kite Hill Ricotta
2 limes (juiced)
* Shredded lettuce (optional)
* 2 tomatoes (diced)
* 1/2 cup Just Mayo (optional)
* 2 Tbl apple cider vinegar (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Add the crumbles, marinara (or crushed tomatoes), corn, and spices to a pan and cook — stirring often — on medium heat until heated through.

In a medium size bowl, stir together the Just Mayo, ricotta, and lime juice; mix well.

While the crumbles cook, spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray, the spread a thin layer of salsa over the bottom of the pan.

Lay corn tortillas in a single layer over the salsa.

Spread 1/3 of the crumble mixture over the tortillas.

Lay Chao slices in a single layer over over the crumble mixture then top with a layer of 1/2 the ricotta mixture.

Top the ricotta mixture with a single layer of corn tortillas.

Spread another 1/3 of the crumble mixture over the tortillas, top that with a layer of Chao slices.

Spread the remaining ricotta mixture over the Chao slices then top with a final layer of tortillas.

Use the remaining crumble mixture to create an even layer on top of the tortillas then sprinkle with Go Veggie shreds.

Place the casserole dish in the oven And bake at 375°F for 30 minutes.

For best results, remove the baked lasagna from the oven, let cool for at least an hour (or refrigerate to use the next, or freeze for later use), then reheat at 375°F for 10-15 minutes.

* Optional: Mix Just Mayo and apple cider cinegar together to make a dressing then stir in the lettuce and tomatoes and top each slice of warm taco lasagna with the cool, crisp, creamy, tangy garnish salad. Yum!

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What I Ate: Gluten-Free Vegan Edition

“But what do you EAT?” People ask when they discover my dietary restrictions. I am a dairy-allergic, gluten-intolerant vegan with dairy- and peanut-allergic kids. Food restrictions are rampant here.

But, really, though. What do I eat? I start my day off simply with tea and easily digestible whole foods grazed upon in a specific order that allows for a comfortable belly and a well-fueled day. My biggest meal — lunch — is leftovers, as I purposefully make extras for our dinner to allow for easy heat-and-eat lunches. Next, I sip some tea, have a plant-based dinner, then snack while watching a show with The Hubs. Scroll on down and see products and recipes from a typical day of food.

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5:50AM- Green tea and a banana Plain and simple is the way I have found I need to start my day. Banana seems to be the easiest thing on my tummy in the morning. So this is how I fuel my morning yoga.

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6:20AM- Green tea and raw almonds The banana provides a soothing base layer to my belly, so a handful of almonds can land right on top as filling fuel.

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8:50AM- Homemade kombucha and a Clementine I used to drink my “bucha”, as my kids call it, in the afternoon, but I’ve found mornings to be an even better fit for this probiotic powerhouse. (This day, I foolishly let the kids see me sipping… they stole half of my kombucha and my clementine. Scavengers!)

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11:40AM- Leftovers for lunch (Morrocan-style split pea stew with rice) There’s no real recipe for this slow-cooking but flavorful plant-based dish, beyond a crap-ton of herbs and spices simmered with some food staples. I added chopped onion to a large pot greased with olive oil then tossed in 5 cloves of minced garlic. I let that cook, then stirred in 5 chopped carrots, a handful of white mushrooms (chopped), 1lb of soaked split peas, a hearty dose of coconut aminos, and — after a few minutes — a container of vegetable broth. Then came the seasonings: salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, coriander, chili powder, cumin, and a hefty helping of cinnamon. I let the mixture boil for 5 minutes, reduced it to a simmer, and let it cook until the split peas were tender. I served it over rice. (This would freeze beautifully and works great for meal prepping.)

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12:15PM- Green tea This is “rest time” in our house and, considering how active our days are, we ALL need it. The boys watch a show or play in their rooms while I sip my tea. It eventually descends into raucous, of course, but we keep trying!

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5:00PM- Lettuce wrapped taco with spiced corn Lentils + Beyond Meat Feisty Crumble make this gluten-free, plant-based taco filling. Lettuce cups serve as the shell for the taco filling, diced tomato, Go Veggie Vegan Shredded Cheddar cheez, and “sour cream” (Just Mayo mixed with apple cider vinegar.) For the side dish, I heated frozen corn with Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin. Then I heated a bag of frozen riced caulifower. I mixed the warm veggies with chilled pico de gallo and served.

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8:00PM- Plentil chips This is my indulgence time. I don’t  (and can’t) eat many packaged foods or treats, so after the kids are in bed, this is my treat. I often nosh on popcorn or gluten-free vegan chips while lounging on the sofa catching up on shows and chatting with The Hubs. It’s my reward at the end of the day.

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This is what I eat in a day. What do you eat?

What I Ate: Gluten-free Vegan Edition

“You’re a gluten-free vegan? What do you eat???” Lots. I eat lots of food.

I recently got an Instant Pot and love using it to make big batches of beans or lentils and rice. I like to use those goodies for breakfasts, lunches, and even quick dinners. That said, this is what I eat on a typical Wednesday amidst drop-offs, pick-ups, appointments, homework, and extracurriculars.

5:50AM

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Banana and green tea… perfect early morning yoga fuel! I used to start my day with an apple but then I began realizing that was a tad harsh on my belly. Since switching to a daily banana, I’m feeling much better.

8:00AM

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Beans, rice, hummus, and fresh spinach… it takes but a minute to throw together from my big Instant Pot batches, and keeps me healthfully satiated until lunch.

10:00AM

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Jasmine green tea. A coffee shop chat with a dear friend means jasmine green tea for me! Warm, hydrating, and mildly caffeinated, it leaves me feeling cozy comfort without the energy plunge.

11:30AM

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Leftovers for lunch. I generally make enough for dinner that my husband and I can have leftovers for lunch the next day. This lunch was savory gluten-free veggie cakes topped with marinara and Follow Your Heart vegan parmesan-style shreds, and a salad on the side topped with Just Chipotle Ranch.

2:00PM

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Kombucha. The Hubs has a beer home-brewing hobby which paired with my chewy granola’ness to make for homemade mango-orange kombucha on tap in my fridge. (On the granola spectrum — with untamed body hair and commune yurt living existing as the crispity crunchiest on the “crunchy” scale — I’m like one of those packaged chocolate chip granola bars)

5:00PM

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Quick dinner. My 6-year-old and 4-year-old have Tae Kwon Do at 5:30, so fast and filling is the name of this dinner game. Instant polenta topped with sauteed garlicky spinach, broiled cherry tomatoes, and herbed cannelini beans did the trick.

5:20 PM

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Dessert. After school pick-up and homework and dinner prep and a mad shuffle out the door, this mama needed chocolate. So a piece of Theo’s vegan gluten-free chocolate covered coconut came along for the ride to Tae Kwon Do. Yum!

8:00 PM

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Popcorn. The Hubs and I sit down together most evenings to watch a couple of shows and rehash the day. It’s “our” time. What better snack than popcorn to go along with a TV and chat session?

And that’s my day in food. Yummy, satisfying, and far from flavorless. One really can eat more that twigs as a gluten-free vegan… who knew?!

Fast and Easy Vegan Recipe: Beans-and-Greens Rice Bowl

Looking for something plant-based that’s quick, healthy, and easy to make? Hoping to fill your tummy, a lunch box, or your family’s plates? Need a dorm-friendly meal option or a simple dish your tween can heat up solo? Hunting for a 15-minute meal? This packable dish is good warm or cool. Give it a try.

Change out the beans and veggies to switch things up. Maybe black beans with peppers and corn, or cannelini beans with spinach and artichoke. Try switching up brown rice for farro or quinoa. Make this suit you.

BEANS-AND-GREENS RICE BOWL

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BEANS-AND-GREENS RICE BOWL

Ingredients:

2 cans pinto beans

3 cups frozen broccoli florets

2 cups frozen peas

2 bags of frozen microwave-in-pouch brown rice

2 Tbl Soy-free Earth Balance Spread

1 Tbl dried Italian seasoning

2 Tbl garlic powder

* 2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Microwave the rice according to package instructions.

Drain and rinse the beans.

Pour frozen veggies into a big microwaveable bowl and top with Earth Balance before microwaving for 8 minutes, or until warmed through.

Add the rice and beans to the cooked veggies then stir in the seasonings.

Refrigerate for later, portion it out for meal prep, scoop into containers for lunch box filling, or serve immediately.

Enjoy!

 

Why I Dropped Meat

It’s been 6 months since I’ve eaten meat. I am but a fledgling on my journey towards what some may call veganism and others may call a plant-based diet. But, why am I taking this plant-eating path?

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As a young teen I’d wanted to become a vegetarian, feeling guilty for eating animals. As a “cradle Catholic”, I decided to give up meat for Lent one year. Knowing nothing about nutrition, it’s no surprise I wound up feeling perpetually rundown, weak, and hungry during those 40 days. (As a hormonal young teen, I’m sure that lethargy made me extra-pleasant company!) I left that herbivore stint thinking I couldn’t live without meat… that my body didn’t thrive on a meat-free diet.

Fast-forward to 3 years ago. I had my gallbladder removed in an entirely unremarkable, common surgery. Once the wounds were healed, I felt markedly better than I had for the four months preceding my operation. However, as many post-op gallbladder patients note, my digestion was off. I’d bloat, have frequent and urgent trips to the bathroom, and suffer stomach pain. It was frustrating. Some foods — like raw vegetables, legumes, greens, seeds, and nuts — I was able to help my body digest by way of regular exposure. Other foods — fatty meats like sausage, greasy hamburgers, and hot dogs — were mightily rejected. Fortunately, I was already dairy-free due to an allergy, so I didn’t struggle with that frequently aggravating food group too.

As time went on, my inability to digest meats increased. Fatty fish, processed meats, red meats, beef broth… all of it would wreak havoc on my system. Eventually, even with the help of probiotics, I was only able to eat grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast. With my diet so limited, the texture of the chicken meat eventually became unappealing. Then came a trip to our local farm park.

It’s a beautiful place, this farm, where 4-H members care for the animals. Chickens, pigs, ducks, sheep, goats, horses, rabbits, turkeys, even a couple of peacocks reside on the well-tended farm. The cows though… it’s the cows that got me.

One sunny late-summer afternoon, we took a family trip to the farm. My littlest was nursing in the baby carrier as my older two children scampered about looking at the animals. We came to the cow pasture where I saw an engorged mama cow. We had seen her bull calf a few fields over. Mama Cow’s udder was full and distended. She clearly needed to feed her calf.

As a breastfeeding, breast milk donating mother, I empathized with her. I felt her discomfort. I looked about searching for a farmhand to ask after the calf.

Just then, a farmhand entered the field, halter in hand, ready to take Mama Cow to be milked. “We’re in the process of weaning,” she explained, gently buckling the harness around mama cow’s furry head, “she’s being milked in a few minutes if you’d like to come watch. Kids love it.” She lead Mama Cow through the grass and onto the gravel path, Mama Cow’s swollen, milk-filled udder slightly impeding her gait.

That image haunts me. The painfully engorged Mama Cow, her baby boy separated from her and forcibly weaned to a bottle so that her milk could feed humans, instead of the calf for which it was intended. Later, that bull calf would likely have one of two fates: breed or burger. Mama Cow would continue to be impregnated, continue to be forcibly separated and weaned from her offspring, continue to be milked to feed humans instead of calves, continue to be used until she could give no more. Then her fate would be the slaughterhouse.

I tossed and turned that night. The mere thought of meat made me shudder. The idea of biting into a burger or steak made my stomach turn. It was dead flesh… a carcass! Was I so important that my hunger came above Mama Cow’s life or the life of her babies? Could I not eat other things to fill my belly, nourish my body in another way, and not contribute to their deaths? And with that question, my path began.

At first, I just gave up meat but still ate fish, honey, and eggs regularly. Then I gave up fish unless out of the house and faced with few other food options. Next I stopped eating eggs, not only because I realized that by eating eggs I was contributing to the eventual slaughter and consumption of the hens, as well as the deaths of roosters, but because the vegan replacements satiated my egg cravings. Then I reduced my use of honey. Eventually, I plan to stop eating fish when out and about.

I don’t judge or chastise those who eat meat. This is my path, and mine alone. I ate meat for years. I loved meat! My children and husband still eat meat (though I cook vegetarian fare 99% of the time, unless they request a specific meaty dish.) Simply put, I don’t personally want to consume carcasses. Others may do as they please.

And how do I feel six months in? I. Feel. Great! I never have that heavy “thud” in my gut after even the heaviest of vegan meals. My digestion is regular. My belly doesn’t get distended. I have more energy. I feel lighter. I no longer feel guilty. It’s perfect for me.

I am happy. I am healthy. My conscience is at ease. Our grocery bill is $50-$100 below our previous amount since dropping meat. Heck, this week we spent a measly $150 to feed our family of five for the whole week, and that includes my vegan wine. I cannot complain.

This is my abrupt yet gentle trek towards an entirely plant-based diet. “Take it slow or you’ll regret it,” advised one vegan. So I am.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Burger Recipe

Looking for a cheap, easy, freezer-friendly plant-based meal? Hoping to satisfy herbivore and omnivore palates, alike? Hunting for a guilt-free entree a teen could easily thaw and heat solo? Need a make-ahead family meal idea that is free from the top 8 allergens? I’ve got you!

LENTIL-BEAN BURGER 

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Lentil-Bean Burger

Ingredients:

1c lentils
1 can kidney beans
3 flax eggs (3 Tbl flaxmeal stirred together with 6 Tbl water)
2 Tbl yellow mustard
2 Tbl garlic powder
2 Tbl cumin
1 Tbl onion powder
1 Tbl basil
1/2 Tbl smoked paprika
1/2 Tbl Tbl chili powder
1 bell pepper  (chopped)
1/2 vidalia onion  (chopped)
1 pkg rolled oatmeal
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Stir together the flax meal and water to prepare your flax eggs, and let set while you chop your vegetables.

Once the flax mixture is a sticky, viscous goo, mix all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Mash the mixture with a handheld potato masher until the texture is sticky enough to form patties.

Form the mixture into patties (it should make 10 standard size burger patties.)

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

While the oven heats, cook the patties in an oiled pan over medium-high heat until golden.

Carefully flip each patty and cook until both sides are golden.

Transfer the patties to a silcome lined aluminum baking sheet and bake for 45 min, or until sufficiently cohesive in texture (baking time may vary with dark or nonstick pans.)

Remove and freeze, refrigerate, or serve.

To reheat, defrost in the microwave then cook in oiled pan over medium heat.