Meatless Monday: Chili con Not-Carne. Plus #BloggyBootCamp!

Bloggy Boot Camp

So, Saturday I went to Bloggy Boot Camp! It’s put on by the SITS Girls and the Sway Group, and it’s a day loaded with great information to help improve your blog. I’ll have a full recap later this week, but here are a few pictures to tide you over. (Sadly, I didn’t get a picture with Lisa or Teresa. You know it’s a busy day when there is no time for selfies with your favorite blogging friends.) I do just want to say that Tiffany Romero is a great speaker and a very funny woman.

Desert BloggersMy carpool (l-r): Lizzie, Me, Andrea, Candi

Tiffany RomeroThe fabulous Tiffany

MelissaI did get that selfie with my Ragnar teammate Melissa. So good to see her!

Nia PeeplesThe Nia Peeples

Michelle SegarI can’t wait to read Michelle Segar’s book No Sweat.

Happy to see meEveryone was happy to see me when I finally got home Saturday evening.

Meatless Monday

I know that chili is not a meal that is usually associated with summer time and warmer temperatures. I can imagine snuggling up around a fire, wrapped in a comforter, holding a hot bowl of chili to warm me up even more. Well, not really, I live in the desert and I haven’t used my fireplace since I’ve owned my house, but you get the idea.

Chili con Not Carne 2

The concept came, though, when I wanted a quick meal after work the other night, and upon reviewing the contents of my cupboards, a decided to try using the seitan that I had on hand to create this Chili con Not-Carne.  The meal took about 45 minutes to prepare, including cooking time, but you can let it simmer for a longer time if you’d like, which would make it even more flavorful.

Chili con Not-Carne


Meatless Monday: Chili con Not-Carne
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Vegan/Vegetarian
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Serrano or Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups or 1 packages seitan, cut into small cubes
  • 2 28 ounce can tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha (the more the spicier!)
  • 4 15 ounce cans beans, drained and rinsed (Use a variety: kidney, pinto, white, whatever you prefer)
  • 1 cup corn
  • Avocado, cilantro, vegan cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the seitan and chile. Cook until the seitan starts to brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes (along with their liquid), Sriracha, chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt. When the mixture starts to bubble, add the beans and stir. Add the beer slowly, stirring as you do so, scraping up anything that may have stuck to the pan. Bring to a boil then stir in the corn. Reduce heat to low. You can simmer anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple hours (you may have to add more liquid if you simmer longer, you can use water or more beer).
  4. Serve in individual bowls with a few slices avocado and some cilantro sprinkled on top.

Seitan is one of my favorite meat substitutes. It is made from wheat gluten. You can make this chili without the seitan for a gluten free meal (make sure that you use gluten free beer, or substitute water or vegetable broth). Another gluten free options is to substitute tofu or mushrooms, which add protein and a meaty texture. It is a great dish to prepare as you’re making the transition to vegan, or to enjoy for a Meatless Monday, because it is quick, with easy to find ingredients, and has a rich, meaty flavor.

Best Vegan Burrito_3

If you like seitan, here are a few more recipes: Seitan Burritos and Seitan Skillet Meal, and my all time favorite, Herbed Risi Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing.

Risi Salad

I’m linking up with Tina and Deborah for Meatless Monday! Hop on over to their blogs and see the amazing vegan and vegetarian recipes that they’re sharing.


So that opens the question: If you are vegan or vegetarian, do you enjoy meat substitutes? If you occasionally go meat-free, do you just skip the meat or use a sub? What are your favorites?


This post contains affiliate links.

Vegan Recipe: Spicy Chipotle Seitan with Avocado. Plus a Spring into Yoga Update

It is possible to fail at something and not be a failure.

Spring into Yoga Challenge

To be honest, yoga hasn’t worked out for me this month. Oh, I had good intentions. I certainly would not have started a Yoga Challenge (and invited my readers to join in) if I’d planned on not doing it. Between marathon training, my Ragnar Relay, blogging (even though I have cut back on that this month), not to mention that silly thing called real work, trying to fit in my yoga has become something that stresses me out. A bit counterproductive, don’t you think?

Spring into Yoga May

For those reasons, I am moving the Spring into Yoga Challenge to May. You are still welcome to join. There will still be a $50 gift card to Yoga Outlet for the yogi who posts the most frequently on Instagram and/or Twitter with the hashtag #SpringintoYoga. We just have a fresh start now. Remember that, while yes, the goal is a daily minimum of 10 minutes per day of yoga practice, but if you can’t keep that up, do what you can. Post a photo or a tweet with the hashtag and you have a chance to win. The important thing is don’t stress out about it.

How do I plan to accomplish in May what I could not in April? I have a plan!

  1. Schedule my yoga time. I plan my running schedule, why not my yoga practice? By working it into my workout schedule, I hope to avoid the “don’t have time” excuse.
  2. Suck it up and go to class. I admit I’ve been a little nervous about going back to my yoga studio. The class is hard and I’m so out of “yoga shape.” I need to remember that, first, it is an all-level class and that I am the one that usually likes to do the hard stuff, and second, it’s not a competition.
  3. While I can’t make more time in a day, I have a couple things that will help me find more time in a day. In May, my work schedule becomes much lighter as our season slows down (and the weather gets hotter). Also, in April, we had something going on every single weekend, either traveling for one of Alan’s announcing gigs, Ragnar, or work. In May? Nothing!
  4. Don’t sweat it. If I find that I’m stressing myself out to get in my 10 minutes of yoga between dinner and bedtime, I’m going to allow myself to skip a day. I practice yoga to ease my stress, not cause it.

I think that with my plan I will be able to Spring into Yoga most days of May. Want to join me? It’s easy! No sign ups, no photos required (unless you want to).

Vegan Recipe: Spicy Chipotle Seitan with Avocado

I have been known to throw things around in the kitchen. By that I mean I scan my fridge and cupboards, get a glimmer of an idea, then create a meal by throwing things together. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Most of the time it does (I’m lucky like that). And sometimes I throw together something so delicious that I can’t wait to make it again. This spicy chipotle seitan is one of those.

Boston Inspired 11

5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Recipe: Spicy Chipotle Seitan with Avocado. Plus a Spring into Yoga Update
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chipotle seitan (I used Good Earth Chipotle seasoned strips. If you don't have that, cut seitan into strips and marinate in a chipotle sauce (like Tabasco Chipotle) for about 10 minutes).
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • ½ cup zucchini, chopped
  • ½ cup corn
  • ½ cup salsa
  • water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 avocados, halved
  • cilantro
  1. Preheat oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add jalapenos and onion and cook until soft.
  3. Add seitan. Cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Squeeze lime over seitan mixture.
  5. Add tomato, zucchini, and corn. Stir for 2 minutes, then add salsa and about a ½ cup of water.
  6. Add beans and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for several minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about half. Add salt to taste.
  7. Serve over a half avocado and rice.
  8. Sprinkle a little cilantro over each serving.

To give the rice a little Mexican flair, I replace about a half cup of water with salsa. It’s easy and delicious.Chipotle Stuffed Avocado

Do you have any suggestions to keep me on track in May? Would you like to join me?

A Sweetheart of a Recipe: Roasted Asparagus, Seitan and Quinoa Salad

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you have a wonderful, romantic day planned. I will probably be spending mine in bed, having somehow contracted a stinker of a cold. I had to work today too, unfortunately. Everyone always says you should stay home and not spread your germs around, but apparently that doesn’t apply when you’re the boss. Who couldn’t find a substitute for the two classes she teaches. Whose assistant has a son who probably broke his foot. Who can’t find anybody to cover anything.

(Whine over)

Thank you all so much for your warm and wonderful response to my post the other day. It fills my heart.

Also, in case you missed it, I guest posted on Carla’s blog on Thursday. I hope you’ll pop over and learn about some changes that are coming in my life.

Along with my cold comes the official start of marathon training. I haven’t actually written it out yet, but I have a picture in my mind of what I want to do. I’ll share it on Monday. I did hope to get in a good long run this weekend, but now, with this cold I’ll be happy just to get out on the road.

While Alan and I don’t really celebrate Valentines’ Day in any traditional sense, I might prepare a special dinner. This main dish salad makes a perfect meal for a romantic evening at home because it is quick and easy to make, delicious, and even looks special.

Roasted Asparagus, Seitan Steak, and Quinoa Salad with Tropical Vinaigrette

Asparagus Steak Salad 2

For this salad, I used sliced seitan from Sweet Earth. You can certainly make your own, but the traditional seitan from Sweet Earth contains only five ingredients, the same ingredients I would use if I were making my own. No preservatives or other junk. And I like the taste of Sweet Earth better than my own.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Roasted Asparagus, Seitan Steak and Quinoa Salad. Vegan
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main/Salad
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup of prepared quinoa, chilled
  • About 4 ounces seitan, sliced into thin strips (enough for about 4-6 strips per salad
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon Better than Bullion Vegetable base
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg liquid aminos
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • pepper
  • Asparagus, 4-6 stalks per serving
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • Mixed greens (or other favorite salad green)
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • ¼ cup green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup cucumber, sliced
  • Tropical Vinaigrette (see below)
  • ¼ cup roasted pine nuts
  1. Put the seitan in a small bowl.
  2. Mix together the hot water, Better than bullion, liquid aminos, liquid smoke, and pepper. Pour over the seitan. Set aside. Allow to marinate for about 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450.
  4. Toss the asparagus in a little oil and salt.
  5. On a cookie sheet, lay out the asparagus on one side, the seitan on the other. Pour a little of the marinade over the seitan.
  6. Roast for 10-12 minutes turning once. Pour a little more marinade on the seitan.
  7. For each salad, place a handful of salad greens on a medium plate. Sprinkle half the quinoa over each salad. Add the tomatoes, avocado, green onion, cucumber, asparagus, and seitan steak.
  8. Drizzle with Tropical Vinaigrette and sprinkle with roasted pine nuts.


Asparagus Steak Salad

Tropical Vinaigrette

1/2 cup pineapple
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

I have to work again tomorrow, and hopefully I’ll have a little better luck getting out early if I still feel bad. So, it’s off to bed early.

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? Any races on the schedule? Have you caught a cold or the flu this winter? Any tips to get rid of it faster?

Vegan Recipe: Shawarma Salad

Long ago, when I still ate meat, my favorite restaurant was a little hole in the wall called the Pita House. It was owned by an Israeli couple, and they specialized in Middle Eastern dishes. The specialty was Chicken Shawarma, and Alan and I loved it so much that we not only ate there once a week, we brought home leftovers to have for lunch the next day. I will honestly say that Morty’s chicken shawarma is the only dish that I really miss since becoming vegan (the restaurant actually closed years before that, so I missed his shawarma even before I became a vegetarian).

I have made many attempts over the years to recreate the dish, first with real chicken, then fake, and now most frequently with seitan. I have had some success, I think (Alan thinks so too, he says he loves my shawarma). I’ve posted several recipes, including this, my favorite. This one, from Vegan MoFo a few years ago, uses Gardein chick’n. And this Gyro Spiced Seitan Bowl is reminiscent of shawarma, served in a bowl with quinoa and veggies.

This salad started as a way to use the leftover seitan from the last time I made shawarma. I made a dressing with hummus, tahini, and lemon, used a variety of veggies, and tossed in some quinoa. I honestly think that, with the seasoned seitan, it was one of the best salads that I have ever made. It will always be on the menu the day after I make shawarma.


Vegan Shawarma Salad

Shawarma Salad

Of course you don’t have to wait for leftovers to make Shawarma Salad. And feel free to use your favorite vegetables.

Vegan Recipe: Shawarma Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Vegan
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 2
  • One package (or one cup if homemade) seitan or chicken substitute, cut into strips
  • One Tablespoon lemon juice
  • One teaspoon Garam Masala
  • ½ teaspoon Paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • ½ cup soy yogurt
  • One Tablespoon Malt Vinegar
  • Two Cloves Garlic, minced
  • Salad greens
  • Veggies of choice. I used onion, yellow pepper, radishes, grape tomatoes, and cucumber
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions and cooled.
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup hummus
  • ¼ cup tahini sauce
  • ⅛ cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Follow the directions to season and cook the seitan here.
  2. Toss the greens, vegetables, quinoa, and seitan together with the Hummus Dressing.
  3. Hummus Dressing: In a blender, combine hummus, tahini, vinegar, lemon, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Shawarma Salad

Do you have a favorite restaurant dish that you’ve tried to re-create at home? Were you successful?

Roasted Seitan Potato Stacks: A Vegan Un-Recipe.

To understand why I call these roasted Seitan Potato Stacks an Un-recipe, you need to understand how I plan dinner. Unlike some of the magnificently organized bloggers that I stalk follow, like Lindsay, Laura, and Angela, who not only make a meal plan every Sunday they also find the time to write about it, my meal planning is a little more haphazard. As in I’m driving home from work at 5:30 thinking what I want to make, stop at the store haphazard. Or stand in front of the refrigerator at 6:30 what am I going to throw together haphazard. Or like last night, plan to make tempeh burgers, when a sudden inspiration hits me as I’m grabbing the tempeh out of the fridge, let’s make tempeh pasta sauce instead haphazard (un-recipe coming for that soon).

Roasted Seitan Potato Stacks Recipe

My meals are frequently last minute, what’s in the cupboard, thrown together concoctions, that I (and Alan) am usually happily surprised when they turn out delicious. I am fortunate that I just have that touch.  I don’t measure, I just sprinkle a little of that, pinch a little of this, so until recently I was never able to recreate a particularly yummy dish.

That changed when I started to post recipes on this blog. I suddenly had to keep track of ingredients and measurements so that I could share the recipe at a later date. I quickly learned that I needed to write things down right away or I would completely forget an important ingredient when I was writing up the recipe. I now use Springpad, which syncs with my computer, phone and iPad, to jot down ingredients.

Roasted Seitan Potato Stacks

The idea for these seitan potato stacks came to me the other day when I was trying to think of how to use the seitan that I had on hand. They turned out great, but if I could make one change (and I will in the actual recipe write-up), I would have more mushrooms and onions.

Roasted Seitan Potato Stacks

5.0 from 1 reviews
Roasted Seitan Potato Stacks: A Vegan Un-Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ cup avocado vinaigrette (you can use avocado slices instead)
  • ½ cup shredded vegan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Partially cook the potatoes, until they are slightly fork tender (I used the microwave)
  3. Then slice the potatoes lengthwise, discarding the outsides, into 4½ inch slices.
  4. Use the olive oil to grease a cookie sheet.
  5. Place the potatoes, squash, onions, mushrooms and seitan on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper.
  6. Squeeze the lime juice over the seitan.
  7. Roast until lightly browned on both sides, turning once, about 15 minutes.
  8. To create your stacks, use a potato slice as the base. Sprinkle with vegan cheese. Add on the seitan, mushrooms and onions. Spoon on a dollop of the avocado vinaigrette then top with a slice of yellow squash. Sprinkle on more vegan cheese.
  9. Roast until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

 roasted seitan potato stacks

While it says that the recipe serves four, you might find them so yummy that you’ll want to have a second (Alan and I shared a second one).

Unplanned or not, I had a whole week of yummy food. From the Quinoa Salad I posted last week, to pizza, to the Stacks, and finally the tempeh pasta sauce mentioned above.

Roasted Seitan Potato StacksWhat is your favorite meal to prepare? Or Eat?

Easy Curried Seitan Stuffed Avocado. Vegan

This was the first day of my Training Unplan, and, in a great example of its versatility, I took a day off. So far, so good.

Curried Seitan Stuffed Avocado

I will admit that I had a head start on this dish. I purchased some Curry seitan from my new favorite brand, Sweet Earth, a few days ago. It was already seasoned with natural curry spices (one of the things I love about Sweet Earth is that they use natural, pronounceable ingredients in their food), so I probably could have grilled it up and served it on skewers and it would have tasted pretty good.

I decided to take it a step further and use one of my favorite curry recipes (back in my meat eating days I’d prepare it with shrimp or chicken). Over the years, I’ve used tofu, faux chicken, and even potatoes instead of meat, but with the seitan I believe we have a winner. I also sneaked some cauliflower in the mix, and it passed Alan’s approval test (the man does not like cooked cauliflower!).

Curried Seitan stuffed avocado

Curried Seitan Stuffed Avocado. Vegan
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 2
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup cauliflower, broken into bite size pieces
  • 1 package Sweet Earth Curry Seitan (or 8 ounces of any seitan), cut into medium strips
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ cup water or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk (the full fat, from a can version)
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 avocado, cut in half and skin removed.
  • Rice
  1. Preheat the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.
  2. Cook the onions and garlic until soft (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add the cauliflower and seitan and cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the curry powder and stir.
  5. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir.
  6. Slowly add the water and coconut milk, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.
  7. Add salt/pepper to taste.
  8. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 more minutes.
  9. On each plate, spoon a portion of rice and a ½ avocado. Spoon the curry mixture on top and serve.

You can serve the curry with your favorite condiments like chutney, raisins or other dried fruit, but I find the creamy cool taste of the avocado to be a perfect partner to the curry that doesn’t need any additions.

I have been using this basic curry recipe for close to 30 years! I found it originally in a 25¢ cookbook I picked up in the produce section somewhere. It was called Avocado Bravo and it is loaded with avocado recipes. I have made changes and variations over the years, and I haven’t even looked at the book for ages. Because I was writing this post I decided to see if I still had it, and sure enough!

Curried Seitan Stuffed Avocado

Can you tell it has been well used over the years? Ha! Now that I have it out I’m going to check out some of the other recipes too.

Do you have a favorite recipe or cookbook that you have used for years?