Family Mealtime

Today, on Jazzy Vegetarian Radio we welcomed the fabulous  Marty Davey NS, RD, LDN, AKA LaDiva Dietitian, to hear about her great ideas and recipes for Plant-Based Cooking with Kids.  (You can listen to the interview here). Thanks Marty!  

When I was a young girl one of my favorite first memories was standing on a stool in Grandma Cook’s (yep, that was her real name) kitchen as she prepared applesauce from the apples in her backyard. She would allow me to help by stirring the apples, and I remember being fascinated by the process. I have always loved food and that passion has weaved its’ culinary spell throughout my life and brought me where I am today.

As a child, my mother instilled in all of us the importance of family mealtime. We sat at the table every night and Mom always prepared a wonderful dinner. From an early age, it was my job to set the table in proper style. Drying the dishes after the meal was another designated chore. (I liked the setting the table part, but disdained the dish drying.) I was fascinated as I watched my Mom cook our daily meals and as a teen, I started experimenting in the kitchen.

Throughout the years, my culinary and dietary point of view has evolved from those early home-cooked family meals, and my passion for plant-based cooking now stands front and center.

In this day and age of overly busy schedules for children and adults alike, along with texting and emails as our primary way of human communication, and with video games filling children’s heads, I feel we can benefit by spending family mealtimes together again whenever possible. What better way to create a bond than to cook or create healthy meals together in the kitchen with your children?

It has been my goal to create and share recipes that are optimal when served at family mealtime. In addition, I have developed quite a few recipes that can be prepared with your children, sharing with them the basics of cooking, making for a self sufficient foundation that I think is still important in our society today.

Here are a few recipes that your family will love to eat, prepare and savor together. Happy Cooking!

Chocolate Truffle Trio

Makes 12 Truffles

These rich and decadent-tasting vegan confections are easy to make with your children.  While an adult needs to melt the chocolate in the double boiler first, the shaping and coating of the truffles is fun for children to do!

7 ounces vegan dark bar chocolate (60 to70 percent cacao)

1⁄2 cup brown sugar

1⁄4 cup plain or vanilla nondairy milk

1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch cayenne (optional)

1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar, for coating

1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, for coating

1⁄4 cup finely chopped walnuts or other nuts, for coating

Put the chocolate and brown sugar in a double boiler over medium-low heat. When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat. Add the nondairy milk, vanilla extract, and optional cayenne and whisk until thick and shiny.

Transfer to a medium bowl and refrigerate just until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and walnuts in three separate small bowls. Spoon out 1 tablespoon of the chocolate mixture and quickly roll it into a ball. Roll it in the confectioners’ sugar until completely coated. Continue in this way, forming the chocolate mixture into balls and coating one-third of them in the confectioners’ sugar, one-third in the cocoa powder, and one-third in the walnuts.

Arrange the balls in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.

Let the truffles soften at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the truffles will keep for 4 to 5 days.


THE COMPANION COOKBOOK: JAZZY VEGETARIAN, Lively Vegan Cuisine That’s Easy and Delicious © LAURA THEODORE 2011/ Published by: Book Publishing Company


Quick Lasagna Rolls

Makes 4 to 6 servings

If your family loves lasagna but you are not in the mood to spend over an hour putting it together, try this simplified version. Because no sautéing is required, these fancy rolls are ready for the oven in less than thirty minutes. While you prep the noodles, let the children mash up the tofu. Older children can even help rolling the tofu filling in to the rolls.

8 whole-grain lasagna noodles

41⁄2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 jar (about 25 ounces) marinara sauce

14 to 16 ounces firm regular tofu, drained

1 cup chopped fresh basil

1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1⁄2 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari

5 to 6 large green olives, preferably queen or sevillano, pitted and chopped (optional)

5 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ

2 cups shredded vegan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the noodles. De- crease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are almost tender. Drain and rinse under cool water, then drain well. Transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the oil and gently toss to coat. Allow the noodles to cool.

Meanwhile, stir 3 teaspoons of the oil into 1 cup of the marinara sauce. Spread the mixture in the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking pan. Put the tofu, 1⁄2 cup of the basil, and the pars- ley, tamari, and remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon of oil in a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher until the mixture has the consistency of ricotta cheese. Add the optional olives and the garlic and stir until thoroughly combined.

Lay a noodle on a large cutting board. Spoon about 1⁄4 cup of the tofu mixture along the length of the noodle, spreading it evenly with the back of the spoon. Gently roll into a spiral shape. Set the roll in the baking pan seam-side down. Continue with the remaining noodles and filling, arranging them snugly in the pan.

Set aside 3⁄4 cup of the remaining marinara sauce. Spoon the remainder over the rolls, distributing it evenly. Sprinkle 1⁄4 cup of the basil over the top.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven but do not turn the oven off. Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the rolls, then sprinkle with the wheat germ, vegan cheese, and remaining 1⁄4 cup of basil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the top is slightly browned.

Put the pan on a wire rack. Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve 1 to 2 rolls per person, spooning the sauce from the bottom of the pan over top of the rolls.


THE COMPANION COOKBOOK: JAZZY VEGETARIAN, Lively Vegan Cuisine That’s Easy and Delicious © LAURA THEODORE 2011/ Published by: Book Publishing Company


Guacamole Salsa Dip


1 cup prepared salsa

2 large avocados

1 large clove garlic, minced

Juice of 1/2 small lemon

1/2 tablespoon fresh minced cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

1/8  teaspoon sea salt

Parsley or more cilantro, for garnish

Put all ingredients, except garnish, into a medium size bowl. Fold all ingredients together to combine. Place in pretty serving bowl and garnish.

Serve with whole grain tortilla chips or fresh veggie sticks.


Homemade Tortilla Chips


2 whole grain tortillas

½ to 1 teaspoon chili powder, to taste

Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Cut tortillas in to “chip” sized portions.

Put cut tortillas, chili powder and sea salt in to a large bowl. Toss to coat. Arrange tortillas in single layer on prepared sheet. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or just until crisp and edges are slightly browned.