favorite vegan tomato soup

favorite vegan tomato soup

Simple yet delicious tomato soup.  Pair with a salad,  sandwich or eat solo.

  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes 
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar

In a large pot, saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes in olive oil.  Add the crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, bay leaves and salt.  Bring to  boil and then cover soup and lower temperature to simmer for 20 -30 minutes. Add sugar and pepper. Too add a little more flavor and a slightly creamier texture, add 1 tbsp butter which would make  it non-vegan but still vegetarian.  Sometimes a little extra touch goes a long way in taste.

Soup goes great with a spring mix or spinach salad  topped with chickpeas for plant-based protein.

Favorite canned crushed tomatoes


Favorite vegetable broth



chickpea & broccoli pita sandwich

chickpea & broccoli pita sandwich

My favorite recipe blog, Cookie & Kate, posted a new recipe this week which I absolutely love.  Lemony broccoli, chickpea & avocado pita sandwich.  I have already prepared it twice in the past 2 days. Some of the ingredients include broccoli, chickpeas, tomatoes, lemon, garlic and red onion.  Of course fresh beans are preferred but to save time, canned beans are a great second option. I prefer the brand Eden Organic for canned beans.   The beans taste fresh, are very low in sodium and the can is BPA free.

This recipe is so simple to prepare and perfect to bring to lunch for work.  My IMG_1220-0sandwich looked so good it actually looked ALMOST  (not exactly, but close, haha)  like the photo below Follow this link for the recipe:  Lemony broccoli, chickpea & avocado pita sandwich.


chef karl’s eggplant & spinach stuffed portabella mushrooms

chef karl’s eggplant & spinach stuffed portabella mushrooms

Chef Karl recently spoke about this delicious dish he prepared on a meatless Tuesday night with his wife Kass.  It sounded so heavenly, I requested the recipe.


4 large mushrooms

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 eggplant, peeled and diced, 

3 cloves of garlic, diced

1 bag baby spinach

1 can artichoke hearts

1/2 cup Asiago shredded cheese and 1/2 cup jalapeno cheddar spread or Monterey Pepper Jack Cheese shredded 

1 cup whole grain bread crumbs 

splash of white wine (optional)



Marinate Portabella Mushroom caps in Balsamic Vinegar for 1 hour

Saute eggplant and garlic in a small amount of olive oil (or vegetable broth) in a skillet until the eggplant turns golden brown, then add the baby spinach, large dash of white wine and continue to saute until the spinach wilts.

Place eggplant mixture in a bowl, add jalapeno cheddar cheese  (optional for vegan/dairy- free) and whole grain bread crumbs.  Mix together.

Remove mushroom caps from the marinade and place in a prepared baking dishbon appetit

Spoon eggplant mixture evenly over each mushroom cap and top with artichoke hearts and shredded Asiago cheese (optional for vegan/dairy-free).

Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes


IMG_0631CHEF KARL RATZ  has been working in the food & beverage business since attending the Philadelphia Restaurant School in 1978.  He has helped open 7 new restaurants over the years including 4 of his own.  He has worked in every position from Bartender to Chef, but found his home in the kitchen.  Karl sold his share of his latest venture “Red Sky Cafe” in 2006, became a certified  Dietary Manager and has run the Caring, Inc. kitchen for 8 years.  Karl is very involved in changing the way people approach their eating habits and has embraced buying and eating local products.



nutrition challenge: meatless monday


Periodically, I will be posting a new nutrition challenge.    The purpose of the challenge is to make one small change every few weeks or so.    Ending old eating habits that have not been serving you are quite difficult to break.  I have a few habits myself  that just seem to hang around forever.  I believe it is easier to focus on one nutrition habit at a time then try to do  a complete overall in one day.   Give the nutrition challenges a try and before you know it you will have an awesome nutrition lifestyle. 



(no chicken, beef, pork, turkey, fish)

Swap in plant-based protein for meat for a vegan day or dairy/eggs for a vegetarian day.  Decreasing meat intake may decrease risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes.  Animal protein increases inflammation in the body which is linked to chronic disease.  Plant-based foods has an anti-inflammatory effect and therefore adds protection against chronic diseases.  Decreasing meat consumption also helps the environment and decreases your carbon footprint.  For example, to produce 1 pound of beef, 2000 gallons of water versus 138 gallons for 1 pounds of wheat or 200 gallons for 1 pound of soybeans.  That’s a huge difference.

carbonfootprintVegan Protein Plant-Based Options                                                

*Beans (lentils, chickpeas, black beans etc)

*Soy Products (Tofu, Soy milk, Soy Cheese)

*Nut butter (almond/peanut butter)

Vegetarian Protein Options

*Same as vegan plus dairy & eggs

Sample Vegan/Vegetarian Meatless Monday

Breakfast:  Steel Cut Oatmeal with blueberries, soy milk

Lunch:  Quinoa over bed of greens, with  chick peas, mixed vegetables, extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar (cheese optional)

Snack:  Handful of nuts, rice cake with peanut butter or carrots and hummus

Dinner:  Veggie stir-fry with tofu and lots of vegetables over brown rice

Snack:  Fresh Fruit Salad

Click MEATLESS MONDAY for more information on Meatless Monday and great recipes

gwen’s pasta primavera with spring vegetables


Recipe by Gwen Raring 

1 pound of al dente pasta of your choice (Gwen’s choice is Culinary Circle’s cavata, other options are whole wheat or brown rice pasta)

1 small package of broccoli slaw, saute’ lightly in extra light olive oil

 8 oz. package of sliced crimini mushrooms, saute’ lightly in extra virgin olive oil

8 ounce package of fresh mozzarella balls, drained & sliced in 1/2

4 oz. sun-dried tomato, Julienne, rehydrated in small amount of water over night – save juicesundried tomatoes

2 carrots, peeled in long strips

1 bunch of asparagus, cut in half (there is a natural break in asparagus, bend in half or in half

8 oz. string beans


Lightly blanch the three above mentioned veggies in simmering chicken or vegetable stock and remove.  (Wild Harvest sold by Acme has a nice affordable organic line)

olive oilToss all of   the above ingredients together, including sun-dried tomato juice.  You can also add vegetable or chicken stock, which will add flavor without calories

Toss with some olive oil to your taste, season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Gwen prefers to toss pasta in fresh basil, chives parsley and fresh garlic.

Add the fresh mozzarella balls and serve.  Healthy, yet flavorful

If you try the pasta primavera, we would enjoy hearing your feedback.  Feel free to post a comment.

GWEN RARING graduated from the University of Delaware with an Art History degree and the Academy of Culinary Arts. She applies both degrees in the artistry of her food as well as the taste.  She has been a caterer in the South Jersey area for about 17 years and emphasizes organic and fresh ingredients. She also loves to use local farms for their produce.