Sweet and Spicy Tomato and Kidney Bean Salad

One of the best things about not eating meat is that you can make meals without having to actually cook anything. Just cut, combine and stir. Whether you're in a hurry, feeling lazy or just want that fresh crunch, a plant based diet gives you the freedom to cook without literally cooking. 

Especially as the weather gets warmer, it's convenient to just cut and combine. It's also surprisingly tasty to keep those fresh ingredients in their natural state. 

The textures and flavors are vibrant and exciting. 

A little salt, a little acid, some  fat, a spice or two and you're all set with a delicious meal. 

1 can dark red kidney beans
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 long hot pepper, diced
1 serrano, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls olive oil
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsps crushed pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. 

That's it. You're done. Enjoy your not so hard work.

Easy Cheap Rich and Hearty Vegan Chili

I often cook with hormel vegetarian chili. Because even though the label says vegetarian, it's actually vegan. It's also packed with hearty beans and soy protein. It's good straight out of the can, but if you really want to take it to another level try this simple enhancement that will turn your ordinary store bought chili into something that tastes as though you spent all day on it. For 15-20 minutes of your time and just a few dollars worth of ingredients you can have a vegan chili even a texan would love.

1 can hormel vegetarian chili with beans
3 tbls smart balance light buttery spread with olive oil
1/4 cup frozen spinach
6 cloves sliced garlic
2 tsps cumin seeds
1/4 box cooked pasta

Cook your pasta according to package directions. Cook it only to al dente or a minute or two more. Set aside.

Add chili, cumin and spinach to a large pot and heat covered on medium for 5 minutes.

Add garlic and smart balance. Stir to combine and simmer 2 more minutes.

Add pasta to pot, stirring to coat all pasta in the chili sauce. Heat about 3 minutes longer. Until pasta is warmed through and sauce has thickened and turned a deep rich red/brown.

The vegan margarine adds a rich and luscious texture and flavor to the chili sauce. It also adds a big dose of the very important B12 and B6 vitamins among many other good for you things. The cumin and garlic kick the spice up just a notch or two.

for more heat add louisiana hot sauce to individual servings.

smart balance light products are vegan. regular are vegetarian. different styles have different amounts and kinds of nutrients. smart balance may go by another brand name if you live somewhere other than the northeast. I believe it's called earth balance on the west coast. many margarine are vegan. just avoid those with whey as an ingredient.