Caramelized Garlic “Butter”, vegan, no oil, wfpb

Caramelized garlic is some kind of magic.  Taking a strong taste like garlic and caramelizing until it’s sweet, now that’s incredible!  You may think it’s impossible if your following a whole-food plant based diet, but I have just made it POSSIBLE!

29313460_1663406477078530_1387351614305587829_nMy secret to this oil free goodness is Aquafaba!  A.K.A. Bean water.  The water, or brine, left over after cooking beans, preferably garbanzo or any white bean. It is the best fat replacer I have found yet.  You can get the same water from a can of beans.  This liquid is even made into french macaroons – I’ve tried that and miserably failed, but others have been gloriously triumphant.  Don’t take my word for it, the internet is full of those who have made an art of it.

My experience with aquafaba hasn’t been so artistic, but definitely has brought out some sweetness in garlic.  I also use it when roasting veggies, in baked goods, as a base for sauce, the list goes on, here are some of the recipes I’ve used it in.

Caramelized Garlic Butter, vegan, no-oil, whole-food plant based

Peel garlic removing the entire clove.
In a silicone baking pan or glass baking dish cover the cloves in aquafaba.  The liquid should be just above the cloves.

Bake at 400 F for approx 45 min, stirring every 15 min.  Once the cloves are soft and the top layer is brown it is ready to be made into butter.  You can continue to cook if you would like it more caramelized, just keep an eye on it, you want it golden brown, and not burnt.

Take a fork and mash the garlic into the sauce until it has a soft buttery texture.  Add a little salt if you like.  If your making a big batch you can whip it up with a blender, or hand blender.

Freeze unused portion after 2-3 days.  I freeze it in a silicone ice cube tray, then put it in a freezer bag and anytime I need garlic for a recipe I throw in a cube.  It thaws well back into “butter”.

Makes a terrific spread hot or cold.

Notes & Tips:

Raw garlic in cold dips like hummus need to be removed in order to not go rancid.  When using raw garlic it’s best to blend it with the liquid and then strain out the garlic pieces, or use a cube of caramelized garlic for an extra special garlic flavor and no straining or risk of spoilage.

Cloves can be left whole or blended/mashed.  If whole, they will very easily spread, as they are very soft.  I like to keep it whole until I am ready to use it, so I know how many cloves I have, one frozen cube of garlic usually contains 1-2 cloves.


After a hilarious conversation with a friend today I decided to start posting some funny pics showing the real unpinterest life:

Unpinterest salad

Unpinterest rice crispy treat

Life doesn’t look like Pinterest, it’s real and unapologetic. Joy is all we should strive for. If it brings you joy to aim to have a Pinterest looking party or life, then great. As soon as it doesn’t bring you joy, make a different choice.


We did wind up baking the rice cake with marshmallow… came out delish!

How I fixed my ugly grout for free.

I finally figured out how to fix the ugly grout in my apartment! I live in a rental so I like to do things on the cheap, well truthfully I like to do everything I reasonably can cheaply. Which often means lots of research. I have been trying to figure out for years how to clean gross looking tile grout. I’ve spent countless hours trying every natural, and sometimes-but rarely- toxic, ways to clean it. I’ve had small successes but never felt wowed by the results.So as usually I was researching how to clean grout when I decided to search how to paint grout. Most websites talk about toxic products that can be bought online or a local hardware store, so I kept digging. I came across an artist forum that talked about painting grout with acrylic paint. I thought it might be too good to be true. They even talked about the durability of it. After some more research I found a few people who have done this! Here’s a great post on it: I found this same post elsewhere, she said after 2 years it’s still looking good.So here is what I found on my research:Make sure the grout is sanded. I have no idea if this applies to tile grout for your floor or artist grout, so I will just assume mine is. So this probably means nothing in this case.If you want longer lasting results seal the paint with grout sealer. I personally didn’t do this as sealant is just as toxic as the epoxy grout paint-no thanks!Clean the tiles and grout before painting. Yeah this is optional too, I guess… what?! U don’t want hair and dirt in your paint? Just kidding. But I do have to say I just used my broom to remove the loose dirt and wiped it all with a wet cloth. Pre-mix the paint in a large amount to get the enough of the same color for the entire floor, or buy the exact color you want. If your looking to go from dingy almost black to white, all I can say is good luck. I went for sand color, good enough! According to my research it’s best to use a shade lighter or darker than your tile. I used a bottle of white acrylic paint I bought for $1 at dollar tree for another project, and a bottle of brown. Both I already had so for me this was free. You can get paint on the tile, and no, it won’t be permanent. Acrylic will stick to the grout once it starts to dry, but if you wipe the tile within about 30 minutes of applying it, or even longer, it will come off. This may involve some arm power to rub off the paint, it’s easy though. I mixed a lot of white paint with a tiny spec of brown, and then added more as needed to get the desired color. I originally went with senna brown, but that made it too peach of a color when added to white, so make sure you make a little to test first. Using a wide but thin brush, paint it on the grout. No matter how thin the brush is I found I couldn’t avoid getting it in the time, not a problem with acrylic paint. After a few minutes, when it starts to dry a little, this can be 5 minutes or 30 minutes, take a dry foam sponge and wipe off the paint from the tile. The key here is to get a firm sponge that will only wipe the tile and not the grout. This will leave lots of left over paint that you can wipe up later very easily. Brushed on paint left on the tile won’t wipe off as easily. I found a few areas I needed to go over more than once. I made sure to wipe the excess paint each time. Here is a picture of the before and after. The light grout on top is the after.Here is a picture of another part of the bathroom when it was done.And here is a picture of my kitchen that I will work on next, my bathroom grout looked just like this.A few other simple tricks to making an apartment look nicer:-touch up paint goes a long way! I found the painter for my community working on another unit, he graciously gave me some of the 2 paints they use, all I had to do was give him containers. Hooray for free! A word about color matching: I haven’t found that it works. I brought a piece of my wall (that I repaired) to a paint/hardware store and they got close but couldn’t get the exact color. Thankfully I had a big piece of the wall to test it, so I didn’t end up buying the $15 mismatched paint. I went back later to get something else and saw the paint on the clearance rack for $3. Good to know in case I’m looking for a paint but don’t need an exact color, I’ll just check the clearance rack. I saw $50 gallon paints on clearance for $9 and $7 test sizes for $0.50.Back to touch up paint. In my place they didn’t pay much attention to detail when it came to edges and baseboards. Most are blended colors, it looks like they painted it the same darker color as the wall and then painted over it the right color. The darker color comes right through. When moving into a new rental always try to get touch up paint from the owner or leasing company. If you live in a community like me, try finding the painter. You will be glad you had extra paint when the walls start to get scuffed or your toddler finds a sharpie and gets artistic. Yup that’s happened to me. I not only painted the baseboards and scuff marks, I also painted the grout just below the baseboards. You can see it in my first picture. My front door frame looked so gross inside by the baseboard. Wow a little paint made it look so nice. Another random tip: if your place has vinyl flooring, invest in some rugs. In this picture you will see what looks like grey wood flooring in the middle. It’s vinyl! So pretty but so cheap. My sofa and ottoman legs dent and dimple the floor. In one spot it even ripped. I put some plastic bins on the floor for 3 days, full of art supplies so it was a little heavy, and they made dents in the floor.These are big 12 ft wide rolls of flooring, so replacing one mock plank may or may not work. To avoid further damage I investing a whooping $10 in rugs. The grey rug on the left of the pic above was $5 on clearance at Costco, I bought 2. It’s an indoor outdoor rug made of recycled materials that can be cut to any size. I cut one into 3 pieces, each for exactly under each sofa, a desk and some musical instruments. The rug on the right in the pic I got for free from my sister. My ottomans are on this rug. I also bought felt pads, but they aren’t the right size. As seen from this picture.The felt pads did work perfectly on the legs of my ottoman, although I decided to keep them on the rug just in case.If you have very few windows find a friend or relative doing home improvement to see if u can score some free baseboards to use to frame the wall edge just above the window. You also can use baseboards to decorate a typical apartment ugly bathroom mirror. I’ll save those projects for another day.

Hamentashen, vegan, no oil, no gluten, wfpb

It’s Purim time which means lots of fun.  Having a whole food plant based lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the yummies!  Hamensatchen are the cookie of the Purim holiday.  

Vegan Hamentashen cookie

  • 2t ground chia or flax
  • 1/2 cup aquafaba (liquid left over from making beans, or use the liquid of a can of chickpea or other white beans)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • 2/3 cup dates, covered in hot water, or maple syrup, or other sugar replacer
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon potato starch (optional) 


  • 1/2 cup jam or filling of choice


Preheat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Soak the dates in hot water and blend until smooth.

Mix all ingredients in a food processor except jam. 

Knead by hand and if needed add more flour to make it not sticky yet holds together, may be a little crumbly.

Roll out dough with a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut circles using a cup.  

Add 1/2 teaspoon of filling of choice to the center of the circle.  Fold two side and pinch together the end.  Fold the third side and pinch together end to form a triangle.  Add a little water if it doesn’t stick together.

Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat.  Bake for approx 30 minutes or until the cookie starts to get golden brown.

Filling options:

  • Chocolate or carob powder mixed with soaked dates
  • And jam, jelly or preserve of choice
  • Nut butter or powder mixed with cocoa or carob powder
  • Poopy seed filling, I haven’t come up with a compliant recipe but you may be able to find one online.
  • Finely Chopped apples mixed with maple syrup and/or apple sauce. Apple pie seasoning would be great with this.
  • Chopped dried fruit mixed with a little hot water to make into a paste.

Cookie dough options:

  • Add warming spices like cinnamon, clove, allspice, ginger.
  • Sprinkle peanut powder on top for a pbnj version, or add it to the cookie dough.

Spelt challah, wfpb, oil-free

Using my no oil vegan challah recipe I made this delicious spelt challah. It was a hit with the rabbi’s wife and with my kids!

Use my challah recipe with white or Whole spelt.  Other wheat flours can be used as well.

If you don’t have aquafaba applesauce can be used.

Top with maple syrup instead of egg wash or maple syrup and aquafaba mixture.

For garlic knots: Form dough into knots and top with garlic cloves baked in aquafaba until soft.

For sweet challah: mix cinnamon, maple syrup or chopped dates and raisins in to the dough before braiding.

Eggplant ratatouille, vegan, wfpb

Eggplant dishes are always tricky because of the bitterness, to salt or not to salt is always the question.  However when on a low or no salt diet, salting is not even an option. The answer to eggplant that is not bitter is to cook it in tomato sauce or balsamic vinegar. Another option would be to use white skinned eggplants or an Indian/Chinese eggplant, they are bright purple and long.  In this dish any eggplant will work.

This dish can be eaten in so many ways.  Alone, on a salad, on a pizza, in calzone, on pasta, as an appetizer, on toast, on flatbread, on matzoh, on a potato or sweet potato, the options are endless.

Eggplant Ratatouille 

Vegan, no oil, no salt, fat free, whole food plant based, McDougall compliant, engine 2 compliant

  • 3 cups cubed eggplant
  • 1 cup oil and salt free tomato sauce, my recipe 
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup finely chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 finely chopped sweet white or vidalia onion
  • 2 mined garlic cloves
  • Seasonings to taste

Mix all ingredients in a deep baking dish.  Cook on 350 Degrees F for 30-45 minutes or until eggplant is soft.

Serve hot or cold.

Optional ingredients:

For more sweetness add applesauce, soaked and purred dates or maple syrup

Fresh Italian herbs work very well on this dish

For spicy add cayenne or hot sauce

For a middle eastern flavor add cumin, turmeric, coriander &/or sumac.

For a more traditional ratatouille put an equal amount of all vegetables chopped the same size.  

Cashew parmesan, vegan, raw, wfpb

Oh the memories of parmesan cheese pulled high in my tomato sauce or on my pizza.  My love of the pizza and cheese hasn’t changed, but now I eat a healthier version of my favorite Italian dishes.  This cashew parm is something I can’t seem to make enough of in my house.  My boys have picked up habit of piling it high, and often you will find plates full of sauce and cheese awaiting something to dip into it, and with my kids that usually means fingers, lol.

Cashew parmesan

  • Raw unsalted Cashews, Whole, pieces or flour
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Salt to taste (optional)

Other optional ingredients:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Dried herbs
  • Fresh or dried garlic
  • Dried onion

Blend on high in a food processor or high speed blender until the cashews are very small pieces.  If using cashew (or other nut) flour mix all ingredients by hand.

I typically leave out the garlic, as my children aren’t always a fan, and mix some seperate for my husband.  Sometimes my children will even want just cashews.  Modify to your taste,

To brown when baking broil for 2-3 min after cooking your dish.  Or put mixture on a parchment paper or silicone lined baking pan and baked at 350 F until golden brown. 

Mixed with tofu to make the tofu more cheesy flavor or a ricotta type cheese, just nutritional yeast will work as well.

Vegan marinara sauce, pomodoro, pasta sauce, no oil, raw or cooked

Tomato sauce without oil, sugar or salt is almost impossible to find, but it’s fairly easy to make.  This sauce can be served chunky or blended smooth.  I also give a recipe below on how to make it raw. Besides being sos (sugar/oil/salt) free, it’s loaded with fresh vegetables and herbs and can be catered to your taste very easily.  

Whole food plant based tomato sauce (raw version recipe is below)

Exact amounts not given because you can make as much or as little of this as you like.

  • Large can of unsalted plum tomatoes or diced tomatoes.
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • Fresh or dried herbs of choice, oregano, garlic, thyme, parsley, onion, rosemary
  • Finely chopped vegetables of choice: green peas, carrots, celery, zucchini, eggplant
  • Finely chopped onion and minced garlic clove
  • 1 large steamed sweet potatoes, puréed with no skin
  • Water

In a large pot pour about 1 cup of water, minced garlic, finely chopped onion and herbs/seasoning of choice.  Sauté  on medium/high heat until the onions become translucent and soft.  Add water as needed so it doesn’t stick or burn, 2 tablespoons as a time so you dont have too much water and will continue to sauté.

Add all other ingredients and cook on medium low heat, covered, for about an hour.  

To speed up the process or to make a creamier sauce, blend all the ingredients and cook on medium low heat for 15 minutes.  

Use as you would any tomato sauce.  

I often make a big batch and freeze in silicone baking cups for later use.

Salt at the table if desired.

Raw version:  

Use fresh and sun dried tomatoes in place of the canned and paste.  Blend on high with other raw ingredients until smooth.  For a chunky sauce add the finely chopped veggies after blending the tomato and herbs.  Omit the eggplant as it needs to be prepared differently to be eaten raw.  Sweet potato or butternut squash can be eaten raw and small amounts work well in this sauce.

Optional ingredients:

For a vodka or creamier sauce add cashews or steamed white potatoes in when blending.

For a spicy sauce add cayenne pepper or hot sauce.

Roasted red peppers

Smoked paprika

Yellow squash and other summer squashes

Pumpkin and other winter squashes

For a sweeter sauce add Dates, soaked in hot water and blended.  Maple syrup will also work well.


I often add tomato sauce to my soups to give them more texture and flavor.  

Vegan pizza and calzone, whole food plant based, no oil

Pizza is one of my favorite foods.  Now that I follow the McDougall plan and Engine 2 diet, I find some very creative ways of making pizza.  This recipe is the closest I’ve come to the NY pizza and calzones I used to love, without the fat, dairy and I’ll health.

Pizza and calzone recipe (calzone dessert recipe below)

  • For dough use my challah recipe 
  • 1 cup vegan tomato sauce, salt and oil free, or use the recipe in my lasagna post
  • Cashew parmasean, also in my lasagna post
  • Steamed then Mashed potatoes 
  • Toppings of choice

Take a ball of challah dough, roll it out into a circle using a rolling pin with flour or your hands.  

Top with sauce, cashew pamesean and other toppings of your choice.

For the calzone use a smaller amount of dough, it’s your choice how big or small you make it.  Put the mashed potatoes and anything else you would like to include in the stuffing in a ball placed in the middle.  Fold the dough over to make a half circle and pinch the edges.  Brush with aquafaba.

Bake on 350 F until golden brown, approx 20-30 min.

Topping/stuffing options:

  • Sweet potato
  • Pineapple
  • Grilled vegetables
  • Firm tofu, crumbled
  • Seasonings
  • Fresh herbs
  • Fresh tomato slices
  • Spinach
  • Chives
  • Salad greens (add after cooked)

Calzone Apple dessert:

Stuff calzone with chopped fresh apples, cinnamon, maple syrup and lemon juice.  Brush top with maple syrup and poke a few holes on top.

More calzone pictures 

Matzo lasagna, vegan, wfpb

When it comes to Passover recipes I get very creative with matzo.  The matzo in place of lasagna noodles gives this dish a cheesy texture as well.

A friend gave us a case of spelt matzo many months after Passover was over. My children love eating it, and often eat it in place of challah on shabbat.  My husband hasn’t taken too much of anliking to it until recently, when he decided to layer matzo with a lentil soup I made and baked it.  Next was a vegan matzo brei (think matzo French toast). After many other fun matzo dishes we decided to make a lasagna, and it’s become our favorite way to eat matzo and lasagna.

Vegan matzo lasagna

Whole food plant based 

  • 6-8 pieces of matzo, we used Whole spelt, any type will work
  • 3 cups of salt free diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 large steamed sweet potatoes, 1-sliced long ways, 1 left Whole.
  • 1 Cup shredded carrots
  • 1 Cup shredded zucchini
  • 6 thick eggplant slices
  • Italian seasoning blend, or fresh or dried garlic, onion, parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, black pepper 

Vegan parmesan:  

  • 1 cup Cashews
  • 1/4 cup Nutritional yeast, aka nooch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 

I’m a blender chop the cashews mixed with nutritional yeast.  Set aside.  Can be stored in fridge.

Blend tomato paste, diced tomatoes,  one whole large sweet potato, herbs/seasoning, 1/2 cup carrot and 1/2 cup zucchini.  Blend until smooth.

In a square dish put a thin layer of sauce. Top with one layer of matzo and cover with a thin layer of sauce.

Alternate every layer with a different vegetable, matzo and sauce.

Top with sauce and vegan parmesan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until it starts to dry out a little.  Add more sauce if needed.  

To brown the parmesan cook on broil for 2-3 minutes.

Cut and serve hot.

Can be stored in fridge or frozen in individual pieces. 

Optional ingredients can be added in a layer or blended in the sauce:

  • Grilled eggplant
  • Roasted red peppers 
  • Smoked paprika 
  • Cayenne pepper for spice
  • Sumac 
  • Fresh sliced tomatoes on top layer
  • Sun dried tomatoes in sauce
  • Extra firm tofu, crumbled with herbs
  • Nutritional yeast, steamed potatoes and carrots blended into a sauce.
  • Sliced steamed white potatoes
  • Grilled zucchini
  • Grilled Butternut squash 
  • Grilled onions
  • Garlic butter (roast garlic cloves in aquafaba-chickpea water, until soft and blend).