Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the tag “Vegan Option”

Meatless Shepherds Pie with Topped with Herb Flavored Potatoes

Meatless Shepherds Pie

As the kids practically bolted from my door when the bell rang, I felt a wave of mixed feelings wash over me. The night before our last day, I was picking up the room and making end of the year goodie bags for the kids and then it hit me. They would be leaving me tomorrow: leaving me to go on to another teacher next year, to learn different things, to be in a class with different students. My eyes started to water at the thought of them not being “my” students anymore.

What an amazing group I had. They reminded me what it was like to be a kid again. They were always so full of laughter with big, bright smiles plastered all over their faces. Having them as students reminded me of how simple life can be.  They reminded to smile and to have fun (as well as to make life fun).

Sitting here a day later after my first official day of summer break, I am left with thoughts of excitement for next year, reflections on the past year, and feelings of bewilderment that I have the next two months to myself. Freedom at last. Time to take a breath after along, busy, and emotional year. I plan on catching up on my reading, doing lots of cooking (as well as eating), relaxing, and just making the most of every opportunity that comes my way. At some point(s) I also have plans to get my toes into the hot sand at local beaches.

This vacation is making me feel like a kid again. I’m smiling on the inside just thinking about all the adventures to be had. There are so many possibilities. What are you looking forward to this summer?

Aside from enjoying the start of my summer vacation, I made what I deemed the summer version of meatless shepherds pie. I could not keep myself from stealing a few extra bites, even after I was full. I had some as leftovers and it made for tasty lunch leftovers. Cheers to a delicious meatless shepherds pie and to the start of summer.

Meatless Shepherds Pie:

*Serves 4


For the mushroom layer: 

1/2 cup of red lentils, rinsed

2 tsp of olive oil

1 garlic clove, diced

1-2 large portobello mushroom caps, diced

1/4 tsp of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and garlic powder (*or more to taste)

2 tsp of fresh rosemary, sliced into small pieces

1/4 cup of red wine (like a merlot)

For the corn layer:

1 1/2 cups of organic frozen corn

1 tsp of olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

For the potato layer: 

3 cups of chopped potatoes (peeled or unpeeled if the skin is thin)

1/2 cup of unsweetened nut milk (or more if need be to make it creamy)

1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

1 garlic clove, diced

1 tbsp of fresh chives, diced into small pieces

*cheese – vegan or dairy to put on top (optional)


For the potato layer:

*start this layer first

Heat a water in a medium-large pot over high heat. When the water begins to boil, add the potatoes. Let them cook until tender or for about 7-10 minutes. When they are finished strain them, then put them back into the pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and then use a potato masher or an electric mixer to blend it all together.

For the mushroom layer: 

Heat a sauce pot 3/4 of the way full with water over high heat. When the water comes to a boil then reduce the heat to medium high and add the lentils. Cook them until tender or for about 10 minutes. Remove and drain the lentils. Set them aside.

Heat the olive oil for the mushrooms in a frying pan. Then add the garlic. When the garlic begins to brown add the mushrooms and stir with the garlic and olive oil. Let the mushrooms cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the spices and rosemary. When they are completely tender, then add the lentils. Mix well. Once that is combined add the red wine. Let the mixture simmer for another few minutes before taking it off the heat.

For the corn layer: 

Add about one tablespoon of water to the bottom of a sauce pan. Then add the corn. Heat over medium low heat and add the rest of the ingredients (garlic powder, salt, and pepper). Take off the heat when the corn is heated through.

Assembly and baking: 

Before assembling, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a 8 x 8 pan or medium round pan, put the mushroom mixture at the bottom. Then layer the corn mixture on top. Spread each layer with a spatula to smooth it out. Then add the potato mixture on top. Smooth it out with the spatula again. Then if you choose, add the cheese on top. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese melts or the top begins to brown. Bon appetit!


Quinoa and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers 2

Just about ready for some panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Then these peppers are ready to go into the oven!

As I was surfing Pinterest the other day, I saw a picture of a creamy quinoa and chicken casserole. Immediately I thought of all of the other ways I could use quinoa. While this protein powerhouse is good on its own, I’ve also seen it used in cookies, granola, breakfast cereals, and even brownies. I certainly don’t think adding quinoa to other recipes would do any harm, since it is both healthy and versatile. I decided that it was time to step out of my quinoa comfort zone to create something a little bit different. That’s when quinoa stuffed peppers were born. All the tasty extras that go into stuffed peppers are what make them special. I didn’t skimp on flavor. These bright yellow bell peppers were filled with garlic flavored spinach, diced sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, buttery pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. I topped them off with some crispy Italian-seasoned panko bread crumbs, a little bit more parmesan, and warm tomato sauce. Sorry for all you vegans out there, but this is a vegetarian dish. There is a brilliant recipe on Somer’s blog, Vedged Out, for homemade vegan mozzarella. I suppose you could always use that if you are the mood for this filling stuffed vegetable dish. Read on for the recipe.

stuffed peppers 3

Ingredients for sun-dried tomato stuffed peppers: 

*Serves 3

2/3 cup of quinoa

3 organic bell peppers

1/2 tbsp of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, diced

2 handfuls of spinach, washed

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, and thyme

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup parmesan cheese + a little bit more for sprinkling

1 – 2 tbsp of pine nuts

1-2 tbsp of fresh basil, chopped

bread crumbs for sprinkling (optional, if you are GF, you could always use GF bread crumbs or eliminate them entirely)

1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce, warmed


1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then add the quinoa to a pot over medium heat with 1 and 1/3 cup of water. Cook until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft.

2- Cut out the stem and seeds of the pepper by cutting a circle around the stem of the pepper. Remove the stem and shake out any extra seeds. Put the three peppers face down in a loaf pan. Bake them for about 15 minutes while the quinoa is cooking.

3- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Then add the slices of garlic to the pan. When the edges of the garlic begin to brown, throw in the spinach. Let the spinach soften.

4- When the quinoa is finished cooking, stir in the spices and extra virgin olive oil. Then add the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. Mix well.

5- After you’ve taken the peppers out of the oven, flip them over in the loaf pan. Drain any excess water. Then, stuff the peppers with the quinoa mixture. Careful not to burn your fingers as they are hot. I stuffed mine using an ice cream scoop (this helped me avoid the huge mess that would have come from using a normal teaspoon). Top with Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs and a bit more parmesan. Bake for about 20 minutes.

6- Heat sauce to serve with the peppers after they come out of the oven. Slice the peppers in half and enjoy!

If you’re in the mood for another Italian dinner recipe, I also made the lasagna soup recipe Move Eat Create linked to. Her blog is fabulous by the way (if you haven’t checked it out yet). I’ve bookmarked the recipe and it is definitely one I will make again (and again). Do you have any favorite Italian recipes that are staples in your diet?

Meatless Monday: Asian Vegetarian Stir Fry With Whole Grain Rice Noodles

stir fry

As the smooth sounds of Ray LaMontagne boomed from the computer speakers, the sweet smell of the honey and soy sauce spread throughout the small kitchen. Do you ever listen to music while you cook? While baking, I love to dance around to Kat Edmonson or Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The sweet sounds of music pair well with the heavenly smells that come from of the oven and stove-top.

Bok choy, sliced portabellas, crisp water chestnuts, and orange bell pepper strips steamed in my enamel-coated cast iron pan. As the ribs of the chopped bok choy softened in the pot, I added a variety of spices and the sweet liquid that would soon also cover the whole grain rice noodles. This dish promised a variety of textures and flavors that played into one another flawlessly. My fiancee and our upstairs neighbor even approved of the meatless dish. I know that Eric (my fiancee) really likes something I’ve made when he asks to take leftovers of it for lunch. This versatile dish was also quick to cook, which was nice after coming home from a long day of work. A simple and delicious recipe is always welcome in my kitchen (versatile is always great too – like for this dish you can add in the veggies of your choice).

This was my first time making a stir fry. Now that I have the general ingredients and know-how, I know I will be making many more of these Asian-influenced and noodle-based dinners. I also recently came across another stir fry recipe by greenbeekitchen, which included a myriad of brightly colored vegetables set atop whole-grain rice. That stir fry recipe is on my list to try next! Do you have any favorite stir fry recipes?

stir fry 2

The veggies are nearly ready for the rice noodles!

Ingredients for Asian Vegetarian Stir Fry with Rice Noodles: 

*Adapted from

*Serves 6 (easily)

1 tbsp + 2 tsp of sesame oil (the tablespoon is for the pan, and the 2 teaspoons are for the rice noodles after they are cooked to lock in the moisture)

1 portabella mushroom, thinly sliced

1 head of bok choy, roughly chopped into 1 1/2 inch strips

1/2 of an orange bell pepper, sliced thin

1 small can of drained and sliced water chestnuts

1/4 tsp of pepper and red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp of garlic powder, freshly grated ginger, and sesame seeds

2 tbsp of honey (for a vegan option use molasses instead – I just happened to have honey and used that in the interest of saving money while grocery shopping)

2 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce

1 package of whole grain rice noodles

1/2 a cup of scallions, chopped (about 3 scallions chopped)

sprouts and sesame seeds to top the dish


1- Slice the portabella mushroom, bok choy, and bell pepper while you heat the 2 tbsp of sesame oil in a pan. Add those veggies and the drained water chestnuts to the pan when the oil is heated. Then add the spices, grated ginger, and sesame seeds. Stir and let the veggies soften for about five minutes.

2- Meanwhile heat a good amount of boiling water. Set your rice noodles in a bowl delicately (trying not to break any of them). When the water is boiled add it to the bowl with the rice noodles. Cover the bowl and let the noodles sit for about four minutes. I tested mine with a fork and could tell they were done at that point.

3- In a bowl, whisk together the honey and soy sauce. Then add it to the pot with the veggies. Mix well and then let it sit for about another minute before adding the rice noodles. After adding the rice noodles, add the extra sesame oil. At that point I stirred the mixture and added the scallions.

4- Top with sesame seeds and fresh organic sprouts.

I was more than happy with this lightly sweet, yet filling vegetable-based dish. Let me know what you think!

Post Navigation

Eat Fit to Live

Healthy Living the Mediterranean Way

GMO Free Girl

Changing The Way You Eat One Bite At A Time

whole food runner

Long time runner, recent vegetarian, forever chocoholic


Tried and tasted recipes from my kitchen to yours

Healthy H'ohm'e

Natural health and wellness with a HUGE passion for food

the vegan kitchen of dr caligari


Sweet Potatoes & Social Change

Real Food. Wellness. Simplicity

Saucy Pans

Food Reviews and Recipes around Bristol & Cardiff

liveng proof

to inspire a fit & healthy lifestyle

my SWEET hole

A clean eating blog that's guaranteed to fill your sweet (and savoury) hole.

Fiesta Friday

Food + Friends = Fun


A fine site

Sugarfree Sweetheart

an illustrated diabetic-friendly food blog


life, raw: unprepared or imperfectly prepared for use... not in a polished, finished, or processed form. global adventures.nourishing practices xx

No Whey No Cow

Celebrating life without the forkin' meat!