Taters!! No holiday is complete without potatoes. Obviously, we know traditional mashed potatoes are full of butter, milk and/or heavy cream. It’s time to get back to the POTATO without all the dairy!
First, a tip from Fork Over Knives:
An Ingenious Hack for Super-Creamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes
“Here’s the most important thing you need to know about making vegan mashed potatoes: Even if you decide to vegan-ize your favorite recipe, skip all the non-dairy milks. Don’t run around town looking for oat milk (it always seems to be sold out anyways), don’t be disappointed by pea-protein milk, or overwhelmed by the flavor of coconut milk. Instead, reserve a few cups of the cooking water used for the potatoes before draining them. Then, when you go to mash, add a little bit of cooking water to give the finished mashed potatoes their creamy texture. Keep adding until you reach your desired consistency.”
And here is my healthy take on a mashed potato recipe:
MODERN DAY FOX MASHED POTATOES
Water (reserve 1 cup of cooking water after potatoes are boiled)
2 tsp plus 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
4 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 tablespoon vegan butter (I recommend Earth Balance)
1 tsp salt (more or less, if desired- I used 1.5 tsp)
Peel and chop potatoes into 3 inch chunks.
Bring water to a boil in large sauce pan.
When water comes to a boil, add potatoes, 2 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp onion powder.
Boil potatoes for roughly 15 minutes, or until softened and easily to break apart with a fork.
Remove from heat. Before draining, remove about a cup of cooking water and set aside.
Drain remaining water from potatoes and return to sauce pan.
Using potato masher or ricer, mash potatoes until smooth. Be careful using a mixer as it can make your potatoes gummy. Add 1/2 cup cooking water as you mash, and then add in 1/4 cup increments as needed.
Stir in one tablespoon vegan butter, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Make sure seasonings are completely blended into potatoes. Add additional salt, if desired.
I’m learning it is ok to be vulnerable. Trying to keep it all in all the time is emotionally exhausting. Not to mention, when it does finally come out, it will be ridiculously dramatic at the perfectly wrong time in front of the worst possible person to see it. Who’s been there?
Find a way to communicate your feelings with the people you love. It’s unfair to them not to understand what you’re feeling and yet be held accountable for not being supportive. It’s unfair to you feel like you have to lock your pain inside to protect someone else. That pain comes out anyway, in some form or fashion, so you’re really not doing anyone a favor.
I feel like we create these scenarios in our head that things will be so horrible if we admit our feelings out loud. But, think back to the last time you had a hard conversation. Was it really as bad as you imagined it would be? And even if it was bad, guess what … you’re still here.
Trust in your ability to navigate hard situations and let yourself be vulnerable. Like I tell my kids, use your words.
Now, let’s talk this delicious casserole dish of yumminess…
I ate something similar to this at a party recently. It wasn’t dairy-free, but the person who held the party went out of there way to buy something vegetarian for my husband and me. It was absolutely delicious and I knew I would need to recreate a vegan version pronto. Last night I did just that, and I want to share it with you! You can easily use low-fat cream cheese and real cheese if you are not cutting dairy. I’m not gonna lie – it’s hard to give up cheese. The vegan kind only barely cuts it for us, if I’m being honest. But, wrapped up in this casserole, it was truly delicious and hit the spot!
Veggie Quinoa Lasagna (Vegan)
One cup quinoa
2 cups Vegetable Broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 TBSP Oregano
1/2 TBSP Minced Onion
1 Jar Chunky Vegetable Marinara Sauce
4 Zucchini, coined
2 cups spinach, chopped
1/2 cup Vegan Cream Cheese (I used Go Veggie!)
1 1/2 cups Vegan Shredded Cheese (I used Aldi brand)
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
If using Instant Pot, add quinoa, broth, tomato sauce, oregano, minced onion, and salt to liner pot. Stir, and replace lid. Set pot to 2 min manual high pressure. Allow a natural pressure release. Remove lid when timer reads 20 min.
Preheat over to 400.
Stir cream cheese into warm quinoa until it is well combined.
Time to build your lasagna! In a 9X13 casserole dish, spread a layer of marinara sauce. Line sauce with a layer of zucchini coins. Spread layer of quinoa (about 1/2 of it) across zucchini. Spread all of the chopped spinach over quinoa. Spread another layer of marinara sauce. Spread a layer of cheese. Add another layer of zucchini coins. (This should use up all your zucchini.) Add another layer of quinoa (using the rest of the quinoa), followed by a layer of sauce and then cheese. Finally, sprinkle the bread crumbs across the top of your casserole. (If your bread crumbs aren’t seasoned, add some salt, pepper, and oregano to them.)
Bake for 30 min. Then, raise the temp to 425 and bake for another ten minutes.
I feel like I just had a stroke of genius. I have a surplus of garden cherry tomatoes and needed to do something with them fast. It occurred to me to pop them in my air fryer like I do everything else!
Sadly, my chest puffing over my great idea didn’t last too long. After I made these delectable little bites, I googled and found that some other smart cooks had already thought of this.
So, alas, I’m not doing anything totally revolutionary here, but maybe here is the first time you have heard of doing this. That’s enough for me!
Here’s what I did:
Air Fryer Roasted Tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
Line your fryer basket with foil. This is of course optional, but highly recommended. Tomatoes pop and they are messy.
Toss tomatoes in a bowl with all other ingredients.
Pour into lines fryer basket.
Set fryer at 400 for ten minutes. You will hear some popping! That is normal.
When timer goes off, your Roasted Tomatoes should be done! If you desire more roasting, add an extra few minutes.
Enjoy! I served some over spaghetti with portobello mushrooms and topped with pine nuts! Yum!!
Hello, friends! First, some deep thoughts from the weekend I want to share:
I was at a conference for my full time job in technology sales over the weekend, and we had a speaker for our Women in Technology group. She said the best advice she ever got was, “Don’t let your comfort zone become a dangerous anchor.”
Isn’t that so true? When you find still waters, it’s easy to just safely float there for the duration. The problem is you never go anywhere – not back, not forward, you just stay in the same spot forever. And while that may sound appealing to some, it is not sustainable. Aside from inevitable boredom alone, there are bound to be storms that come through. Sometimes it is dangerous not to move from the storm’s path.
If you are incapable of moving because you’re anchored to the status quo, that potentially leads to drowning. Be brave. Make yourself uncomfortable. Don’t give up on your passions even if they aren’t what’s paying your bills right now. Have hard conversations. Be the change. Pull up your anchor and sail somewhere new! THAT is how you grow.
Ok, now let’s get to this soup. Maybe it was just because I spent the weekend in blazing hot Florida, but it got all kinds of chilly in Tennessee yesterday. I know that due to our crazy weather pattern here I will be back to wearing tank tops and shorts by the weekend, but it was actually kind of nice to have a day that almost resembled Fall. We don’t get many of those! The crisp air immediately made me crave soup. Well, that, and I still haven’t gone to the grocery store since my return, so I had to get creative with dinner. I decided to experiment with making Minestrone in my Instant Pot, and it was a SUCCESS. My kids even liked it, although they would never openly admit that. They took more than two bites, so I’m calling it a win!
When you review this recipe, I’m anticipating one question on repeat. Why did you not cook the pasta on high pressure? Yes, I know that I can cook pasta in the Instant Pot, but I wanted to be very careful about making sure I kept a nice texture on all the various ingredients in this soup. I did not add the zucchini in the high pressure cycle either because I wanted to maintain the firmness. One thing about the Instant Pot – your vegetables and pasta can turn to mush in a heart beat. It’s better to spend a few extra minutes boiling the pasta and zucchini than have a bowl of mush, right?? If you decide to try cooking your pasta during the high pressure cycle, I recommend adding all six cups of water or broth at the beginning, and doing 4 minutes high pressure instead of five. I’d love to know how it turns out! Or, just follow the recipe as written and you can be sure you will have nice, firm ingredients and that all-day simmered taste.
Note: There is something going on with my recipe plug-in for WordPress, so my apologies for the different format on this recipe!
MODERN DAY FOX INSTANT POT MINESTRONE (VEGAN)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 diced onion
2 carrots, coined
3 diced celery stalks
1 tsp salt, plus more later if desired
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
1 28 oz can crushed tomato
6 cups water or broth
2 cups dry pasta (bowtie, rigatoni, penne)
1 diced zucchini, medium
1 can kidney beans, drained
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
I/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 cups chopped kale, stems removed
Set pot to saute and heat olive oil.
Add garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. Saute for 2-3 minutes until onions start to turn translucent.
Add salt, rosemary, oregano, basil, pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper. Saute for one more minute. Keep stirring so your seasonings do not burn.
Turn pot off.
Add crushed tomatoes, 4 cups water or broth, and stir.
Replace lid on instant pot and set pot to 5 minutes high pressure. Be sure to turn the knob to Sealing so your pot comes to pressure.
When the timer goes off, use a quick release for the steam.
When the knob drops, remove lid and turn pot off.
Add the other two cups of water. Stir in dry pasta, zucchini, and kidney beans.
Set the pot to Saute and allow contents to boil and cook pasta thoroughly.
When pasta is finished cooking, turn pot off.
Add lemon juice, vinegar and kale. Kale will soften into the soup in a few minutes.
Do a taste-test and add additional salt, if desired. I like my soups to have a saltier flavor so I added two additional teaspoons. I also used water instead of broth so I needed to make up for the salt that would have been in the broth.
We are back to school already in middle Tennessee. The first day was August 2nd! Growing up in Maryland, that is a mind bender for me. We always got out mid to late June and sometimes went back after Labor Day. August feels like it should be another month of summer fun, but that’s not the way we roll down here. Hard to believe, but I have a second grader and I am beginning to understand that overly recited phrase, “Don’t blink.” Time truly does move so fast.
With the start of school comes the start of soccer practices, gymnastics, homework, and schedule overload. Meal planning is truly the only thing that gets me through. I have to start leaning on quick, healthy meals to stay on track with nutrition and keep my sanity. Our tendency when things get hectic is to reach for the processed foods like jarred Ragu. When we do that, we are unknowingly reaching for spoonfuls of sugar and sodium too. Making wholesome food for your family doesn’t have to be hard. In the weeks to come, I’ll share recipes that are working for our family for both dinners and those pesky school lunches.
Deep breath, moms and dad. We can do this.
Here is a recipe for a fast and easy marinara sauce that you can have Instant Pot to table in 35 minutes. You can double or triple this recipe and freeze the sauce to use on a busy school night. Planning ahead eliminates some of the stress in the middle of two soccer practices and an hour of homework, trust me.
Serve over pasta (bonus points if you choose a whole wheat kind), zoodles, or try it over an eggplant or chicken parmesan. I served it here over Aldi USA Eggplant Cutlets which are breaded and frozen. I air-fried them for ten minutes at 400 degrees and they are oh-so-good and quick!
Check out this video to see a tutorial on how to whip up this sauce!
And, don’t forget – my monthly nutrition and fitness challenges are enrolling NOW! Fill out THIS form and I’ll contact you with more info!
Easy Instant Pot Marinara Sauce
A quick and flavorful marinara sauce that you can have Instant Pot to table in 35 minutes. Tastes like it's been simmering all day!
I’m no expert on the subject, but my kids’ diet has been heavy on my mind lately. It’s an area where I have been slacking. Why? You know why. It’s HARD! Kids are picky and it’s easier just to reach for stuff you know they will like. That doesn’t make you a bad parent, by the way. But, we gotta keep trying to incorporate healthy foods into their diets. If we don’t, who will? Not them, that’s for sure.
Listen- you are not going to see me cutting out bear-shaped sandwiches or making some over the top fancy thing they would never eat. Kudos to those who do that, but my goal is just to get the somewhat healthy food into the box and then go drink my coffee. Nothing else.
That said, I am experimenting with Bento Box ideas for my second grader’s lunch. All my research and experimentation will be documented on here of course. We moms and dads have to stick together! Don’t freak out. I know it feels overwhelming, but there’s nothing to it but to do it. A little planning which – hello, I’m doing for you – and you can put together healthier lunches for your kids with a lot less stress.
I made Sneaky Pizza Rolls last night for dinner and I’ll get to those in a sec. The kids love these and I stored the leftovers in the fridge overnight. This morning gave them a quick reheat in my air fryer just to remove a little moisture. (This is not really necessary- I just want to extra sure it’s not soggy. If you are in a rush, just nuke for 20 seconds and be done with it.)
Along with the pizza rolls, I cut up some cucumbers with ranch, strawberries, chocolate pudding, and a homemade blueberry muffin. Yes, homemade. Not a big deal. Took me like 10 minutes to prep and put them in the oven last night after they went to bed. Here is the recipe I used:
I subbed coconut sugar for the white sugar and added a TBSP of maple syrup. The batter for these babies is super thick, but trust the recipe! I love the blogger who created this, by the way. Lots of great ideas.
This sounds like it took a lot of time. It did not. The pizza rolls were made last night for my kids dinner. I made the pudding and muffins the other day, and both of those things did not take much time either. The fruits and vegetables took maybe two minutes to cut. All in all, it took about ten minutes to assemble this lunch this morning.
Here is an aff link to the Bento Box and, no, it doesn’t leak!
Now, let’s get to these Sneaky Pizza Roll Ups. Why are they “sneaky?” Their mom (aka me) blended spinach into the marinara, that’s why! Now, let me tell you something about blending spinach into stuff. It makes the color of the food look… well, not very appetizing. This is not a concern wrapped up in the pizza rolls, but it might be when you set it out as a dipping sauce. Your two year old might not care, but your seven year might gag. If that’s the case, only make about half the sauce in the recipe, and just serve regular marinara as the dipping sauce.
Here’s what you need:
1 cup of marinara
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of cheese
1 refrigerated pizza crust (bonus healthy points if you can find a whole wheat kind)
2 TBSP Oregano
Here’s how you assemble or you might just want to skip right to the video because these directions write out about as clear as mud:
Blend the marinara and spinach in your high powered blender. Remember, if you don’t think the kids will eat an off-color dipping sauce, just blend a half cup of each and reserve another half cup of marinara for dipping. Preheat your oven to whatever time your pizza crust directions state. (Mine said 400.) Roll out your pizza crust and pull out the sides to thin it out a bit. Spread a thin row of blended sauce across the crust. Leaving about 3 inches between, spread another row, and then another row. Your pizza crust should look like it has stripes on it. Next, spread cheese over your rows of sauce, still leaving the empty spaces in between. Then, sprinkle oregano across the whole crust. Starting on one side, gently fold over the dough over the row of sauce and then cut in between the rows. Fold the next section of dough over and cut again, and then do it again. You should have 3 or 4 long tubes now. Using a fork, press the sides of the dough together to seal up your “tubes.” Then, cut each “tube” into thirds. Use your fork to seal the ends to each roll-up. Place each roll-up onto a baking plan. I lined my pan with foil and a little bit of Pam to prevent sticking. Bake until golden brown. My pizza crust said 8 minutes, but it really took closer to 15-16 minutes before they were cooked through. Allow them to cool thoroughly! They get very hot in the middle and you don’t want your child to burn their tongue. Heat up remaining sauce for dipping, or just serve with regular marinara.
Clearly, when you watch this video, you will see that I am not going to win any culinary presentation contests. And, I’m ok with that. The idea here is “get the food on the table.” Plus, have you ever tried to cook with one hand while filming a video? Yes, I do have a tripod. Yes, I am too lazy to set it up most of the time.
Greetings, friends! It has been a while since I posted on here. I’ve been through quite a struggle these last few months with the back to back passings of my two best male friends. I had to back off from my cooking videos and blog posts for a bit, but I am so glad to be back to this thing place that I love.
I have a super easy how-to for you today that will save you lots of time in the morning. I’m showing you how to make Steel Cut Oats in your Instant Pot! Check out the recipe instructions at the bottom of this post. I also made a video tutorial which gives you a great tip at the end about freezing single servings of the oatmeal. Perfect for busy mornings!
Beyond the oats, I have some other things on my mind and I’d like to begin sharing a bit more openly on this blog. I feel I do a disservice to my followers if I don’t show a little depth to who I am. So, here goes…
Man! The devil is firing on all cylinders this week. He is trying hard to break me down.
I am a strong person, y’all. But, like everyone else, I do have feelings. Those feelings have been bruised several times this week, and at times when I was least prepared. Isn’t that the worst? When you’re flying high, and someone comes along and just steals the wind from your sails? You try your hardest to let your guard down and relax, but it seems the second you do you get sideswiped in a hit and run.
Since I have been through quite a lot lately, I’ve put more thought than usual into the various moments of transgressions over this past week (and, gee, it’s only Wednesday). It is very easy to lose perspective when you’re under duress, and I’m careful to keep a level head so I don’t crash and burn. Here are my takeaways:
👉🏻People don’t always mean what they say. Give grace even when it seems grace isn’t being extended.
👉🏻People sometimes say thing out of turn because they are mad about something else. Try to think beyond only your own thoughts and feelings to uncover the reason behind their action. What are THEY going through?
👉🏻Sometimes the way you interpret someone’s words or actions are based on how you are feeling internally about completely unrelated situations. Example: I feel insecure already because of XYZ that happened in the past, so I am adding a bunch of unintended meaning to someone’s innocent remarks.
👉🏻Some people just plain value their own feelings more than yours. This is one of those hard facts of life. It is your responsibility to release them from your circle. (Remember my bless and release post?)
👉🏻And, finally, people only have as much power over you as you allow them.
My heart is tender right now. A few layers of my thick skin have peeled away. I’m cleaning up some messes that were left behind from some very unfortunate things that happened recently. Maybe you can relate. So, I’ll tell you what I’m telling myself:
Rule #1: Wounds heal.
I’m entitled to my feelings and they are based solely on my own experience. When they are hurt, I can recognize and honor those feelings without wallowing in them forever. In fact, the faster I validate my own feelings, the faster I can help my wounds heal. As my wounds heal, sometimes the bandaid will slip off and other people may unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) cause me more injury. When that happens, it is my job to say “wow, that hurt,” cry if I need to, clean up my wound and put my bandaid back on. No one will do this for me. Also, sometimes other people need to have my bandaid pointed out to them, and that’s ok if it protects me from further injury. Finally, when it feels like I don’t have the answer, go back to rule #1.
Remove lid from Instant Pot. Add oats and water, and stir. (You may opt to add spices, sweetner, and/or chopped or dried fruit at this point. I like to keep mine plain to use in both sweet and savory meals throughout the week.)
Replace lid. Set pot to Manual High Pressure for 10 minutes.
When the timer goes off, allow the steam to release naturally.
When all the steam is released, carefully remove lid and stir oats. They will appear watery but will thicken upon standing.
Spoon out serving and add whatever toppings you prefer. Enjoy!
We finally have some sunshine here in Tennessee! Boy, is it hot but I would choose that over cold any day! Warm weather means more patio dining which I love. The other night I found myself on the patio of a cool little Nashville vegetarian restaurant called The Sunflower Cafe. I was meeting up with some new friends who also are eating a plant-based diet. I ordered this scrumptious vegan barbecue bowl that was made up of brown rice, smoky collards, and vegan seitan barbecue. It was out of this world!! I don’t know how in the world they made that barbecue taste and feel so much like pork, but they did it. Blew my mind!
I got home and immediately starting longing for a repeat of that meal. I tried making the seitan in my instant pot and although it wasn’t a disaster, it was way too chewy. I will have to keep trying on that one. The collard greens was quite a bit easier to recreate, and today I am sharing it with you! These collard greens have NO oil, NO meat, and only a few ingredients. Quick, easy and healthy!
Check out how it’s done here:
Modern Day Fox Instant Pot Easy Smoky Collard Greens (Vegan)
Easy, healthy and delicious! These smoky collards green go perfectly with barbecue or in a grain and greens bowl.
Finally seeing some sunshine here in Tennessee. Wonder how long it will last? Sunshine has got me like….mmm, I need TACOS! I whipped up some delicious 100% plant-based Mexican cauliflower tacos topped with a super easy Mexican slaw, and I’m sharing it with you today! This preps so well and keeps in the fridge for 4-5 days. Make it on a Sunday and enjoy it later in the week to make your busy week a little easier! (If you can wait that long to eat it, that is!)
Modern Day Fox Mexican Cauliflower
Perfectly seasoned and roasted cauliflower topped with a sweet Mexican slaw... your taco craving has been answered and your diet can stay in tact!
Ok, Tennessee. I’ve had about enough of your weather identity problems. Bring on spring already!! I swear my sons have had more cancelled soccer and flag football games than they’ve actually gotten to play. Bummer!
One thing that always make me happy is… ranch. Since moving to a plant-based diet, I have really missed dipping any and everything in creamy fattening Ranch dressing. Good news is I’ve perfected a plant-based version of Ranch dressing and it’s coming soon to this blog! You know who else loves Ranch? My two boys. And thanks to them, I get to share with you a delicious Ranch chicken you can easily make in your Instant Pot.
Here’s to clean plates and NO complaints!
Check out this video to see how it’s done:
A quick reminder that my monthly challenges are still happening – if you are ready to change your health and fitness for once and all, send an email to moderndayfox at gmail.com and let’s get this party started!!
Modern Day Fox Instant Pot Ranch Chicken
Make this quick and flavorful weeknight favorite which is sure to please your Ranch-lovin' kiddos!
1/2cupbrothChicken or Vegetable (water can be used as well)
Remove lid from Instant Pot and place chicken in liner pot. If you are using chicken breasts instead of thighs, make sure to slice chicken into thinner pieces so that it cooks thoroughly. Big thick chicken breasts will undercook on the inside.
Combine seasonings in a small bowl and stir until combined.
Pour evenly over chicken.
Pour 1/2 cup broth into pot.
Replace lid and turn valve to sealing.
Set pot to 10 minutes manual high pressure.
Use a quick release for the steam when the timer goes off.
Stir chicken and shred with two forks. You may also opt not to shred but the seasonings distribute better if you do.
Serve and enjoy! This dish is great over rice. You may even want to cook your rice using the ranch flavored broth!
Hi I'm Jaime.
Modern Day Fox is a place where we celebrate the multi-passionate people in this world who are making it happen. This is also a place for me to create content around the topics I am personally most passionate about – personal development, photography, fitness, food, image, and music. This is a space to inspire and to be inspired. It's a classroom to teach and to learn. It's a table to share and explore. Together, let's learn how to "outfox them all!"