spike your veggies

Media noche vegan cuban San Francisco

I’ve been thinking about sauces since talking to Alyssa (from the Live Planted podcast) and listening to Paris To Go’s episode.  Ariana talks about her top vegan condiments/sauces to keep basic ingredients like beans and veggies interesting, which I think is so important.  Sauces tie things together and make a meal feel special and satisfying.  Having a few up your sleeve (and in the fridge) can mean all the difference for making delicious meals on the fly, and making eating a larger volume of fresh whole veggies enjoyable.  Especially if you cook a pot of beans at the beginning of the week, all you have to do is cook some veggies and maybe grains and add it all together for a quick dinner.

For me, texture is also essential.  I keep pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and cashews to toast up in a dry hot pan to add on top of meals.  Seeds are nutritional powerhouses and the crunch is super satisfying.  I also love something sour/pickled with a meal, whether it’s pickled onions, beets, radishes, sauerkraut, or just a huge squeeze of lime/lemon.  With a sprinkle of flaky salt on top, everything tastes out of this world.  Here’s my top sauces right now to keep veggies interesting:

hummus:  not really a SAUCE I guess…but I use it as one.  So versatile, you can thin it out and use it as dressing, toss your pasta in it (HIGHLY recommend this), dollop it on bowls or dip veggies in it. Keep it plain or make it interesting by adding in steamed beets + lime, jalapeños + cilantro, or roasted red peppers or eggplant + harissa.  //basic recipe here//

Hummus pasta fast vegan easy friendly free

hummus tossed with brown rice pasta 

mojo verde:  this herbaceous green sauce is so good spooned on roasted potatoes, with plantains and black beans, stirred into mashed potatoes, tossed with shredded cabbage, carrots and toasted pumpkin seeds for a quick slaw, or even dolloped into a bowl of soup or drizzled in a burrito or on a taco.  //recipe here//

Vegan bowl mojo verde Cuban kabocha squash

mojo verde tossed with roasted kabocha

cashew ricotta:  I’ve been throwing a dollop of this onto my bowls lately, spreading it on sweet potato toast, adding on pasta, and mixing it with pureed steamed cauliflower and chopped sautéed chard to stuff manicotti (or lasagna).  It’s also beautiful dolloped on top of a hot out of the oven pizza.  //recipe here//

cashew ricotta bowl butternut broccoli

cashew ricotta in action with roasted butternut and potato, roasted butternut seeds, broccoli, pickled radish

tahini sauce:  I always have tahini in the fridge and this whips this up in just a minute or two- its creamy, flavorful, and goes great with pretty much anything.  Thin it out to use as salad dressing or drizzle over bowls.  Flavor ideas: add smoked paprika, harissa paste, orange juice and zest, cumin, or get fancy and add maple syrup, nutritional yeast and vinegar to make this sauce for a nice bowl.  //recipe here: I use 1 fresh crushed garlic clove instead of powder//

Tahini bowl quinoa gluten free

peanut:  I especially love this sauce when it’s warm out, on cold noodles and thinly sliced raw veggies, or tossed as a dressing in a big salad.  It’s equally good tossed with warm steamed veggies and tofu or as a pack along dip for raw veggies.  Kids love this one for the familiar flavors, I found the neighbor kids ask me for it and are willing to eat veggies they usually won’t if they can dip in peanut sauce.  //recipe here//


peanut sauce on a chopped salad

package free: fermented hot sauce

fermented red Fresno Chile habanero hot sauce probiotic vegan

This year I’m trying to reduce my recycling and rely less often on store bought products in the interest of sustainability- and also just because its fun for me.  I already buy very little pre made foods- see package free: veggie broth , everything bagel spicepackage free: hummus, pickled onions + beets and sauerkraut. but certain things I just haven’t gotten around to DIY-ing: mustard (although I have a great recipe a friend on IG gifted me with), ketchup, mayo, and previously: hot sauce.

I love a good hot sauce to spice things up, and after I watched BA Brad make this amazing fermented hot sauce I just had to try it.  Turns out, it’s super easy, delicious, and cheap to make your own.  Plus I got all the ingredients sans packaging.  My husband even rescued some empty Tabasco and Cholula bottles from his work that were heading for the landfill.  I washed them out and they work perfectly for my own brew.  Zero waste win!

A note about fermenting:  some people are scared of fermenting, fearing botulism or food poisoning.  I’ve been fermenting for years and only had something go off on me once: a batch of kraut that grew mold on the top (I didn’t properly submerge it under the brine).  Not saying it can never happen, but just use common sense: use CLEAN hands, tools, and vessels when fermenting; discard anything that looks or smells bad.  WHEN IN DOUBT THROW IT OUT (compost it).

If something is off, it will smell terrible/skunky/strange/alcohol-y or have weird colors/textures.  If it smells delicious and tangy, its fine.  Use your common sense and you’ll be good.  If you’re unsure about something, you can send me a pic of it on instagram if you want!  Two really great books that go into depth on fermentation are Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation.  I found these at my library and they’re so interesting and helpful.

Chiles zero waste habanero red Fresno fermented

This recipe was written down from the verbal directions in this video which I highly recommend you watching….its not only hilarious, its super informative and shows you how to do it step by step.

BA brad’s fermented red chile hot sauce:


20 red fresno peppers

3 habanero peppers

3 dried hibiscus flowers (sometimes labeled flor de jamaica or in the tea section)-optional

4 mixed peppercorns (or just all black peppercorns)

4 cardamom pods (optional)

1 teaspoon Aleppo or Maras Biber chili flakes (optional but adds depth)

4 cloves of garlic

6 tablespoons kosher sea salt

6 tablespoons sugar

2 quarts of water


Deseed the peppers- you can leave some seeds in, all of the seeds, or none of the seeds.  It will still be really spicy even without seeds from the habaneros.

In a large glass jar, add 1 quart of water and all the spices, salt, and sugar.  Put the lid on and shake it or stir it up until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Add in the peppers and the remaining quart of water.  Stir again gently.  Replace lid loosely (so a little air can escape still) and place jar in a dark spot (like a cupboard or closet).

The ideal temp to ferment in is 70-80 degrees.  Keep in mind that if its colder, your ferment will take longer, if its warmer, it will take less time.

Let ferment for 2 weeks and open jar daily or every other day to release gas. After 2 weeks, open jar and press on peppers with a wooden spoon quite firmly to release juices and break down cell walls a bit, and stir jar.  This is what my jar looked like after 2 weeks- bubbly but nothing crazy, smelling super savory and delicious.

Fermented Chile hot sauce garlic hibiscus

Let ferment another 2 weeks. Continue to open jar daily to release gas.  This is what my jar looked like at this point.  See that white waxy/filmy stuff?  Thats totally normal and fine- don’t get freaked out if you see this.  Its just natural yeasts from the chile skins.

Fermented Chile salt brine hot sauce zero waste

Strain the liquid, reserving it for later.  Remove whole spices if desired.  Add rest of jar into blender. Add half a cup of liquid from straining and blend smooth, adding more liquid as needed to attain desired consistency.  Bottle and enjoy!



package free: everything bagel spice


Everything bagel seasoning: savory confetti bursting with toasty flavors.  It’s perfect on avocado toast, popcorn, sauteed greens, rice, basically just, well, everything.  I’ve been seeing this all around the internet since Trader Joe’s came out with their “Everything but the Bagel” blend.  I thought I’d try my hand at making my own sans packaging.  It turned out really delicious and I was able to get all the ingredients I needed in bulk.  Quick and easy to make!  Try to make sure the ingredients you buy are roughly the same size so you get an equal dispersion with each shake.

everything bagel blend

3 tablespoons dried minced/flaked garlic

3 tablespoons dried minced/flaked onion

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

3 tablespoons white sesame seeds

3 tablespoons black sesame seeds

1-2 tablespoon coarse salt- like Maldon, kosher etc.  do NOT use granulated salt, it will all settle to the bottom. If you use a larger salt like Maldon, use the 2 tablespoons.  Kosher salt, use 1 tablespoon.


Preheat oven to 350.  Spread all ingredients on a baking sheet and bake 3-5 minutes.  Alternatively, place them in a dry saute pan over medium-high heat and toast, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.  Take care to watch it closely as it can burn easily and turn bitter.  Allow to cool and store in a sealed container.



package free: hummus


I thought it would be fun to start a series sharing recipes for products generally sold in packages.  I made this beet hummus recently and packed it in one of my daughter’s snacks.  She came home and told me that a teacher had seen her eating it and asked for the recipe.  Apparently she used to love Trader Joe’s beet hummus, but they have discontinued it.  Google told me that this product enjoyed a sort of cult following, and was packed in a small plastic tub.  So I sent the teacher some of mine in a mason jar, along with the recipe, which she really enjoyed.  It got me thinking about packaged foods.  Sometimes we buy them out of convenience, and sometimes we buy them because they taste amazing, or because it seems difficult to make.

Unfortunately, packaged foods create literal tons of waste.  Sometimes packaging is recyclable, but less than 14% of packaging actually IS recycled.  Most of it goes straight into landfill or is littered, eventually ending up in the ocean.  Single use plastic packaging is responsible for am estimated 269,000 TONS of plastic pollution currently floating around in our beautiful oceans.  Even if it does get recycled, plastic can (usually) only be recycled once before it’s waste.  Glass and metal can be recycled indefinitely.  With this in mind, I’d like to offer some alternatives to popular packaged foods in this series.  First up, hummus.

Hummus is super easy and cheap to make.  It’s full of fiber and protein and goes great on sandwiches, salads, veggies, and more.  Many years ago, I would buy it at the grocery store in a small plastic tub.  I started making my own with canned chickpeas after reading about it in a book and I couldn’t believe how much better it tasted!  A few years later, I became obsessed with Yoham Ottolenghi and his beautiful vegetable centric dishes.  I tried his recipe for hummus, which uses chickpeas cooked from scratch, and I almost died.  Fluffy, creamy, pillowy clouds of garlicky, lemony hummus.  I’ve never looked back since then.  It does take some more work than opening a can, so if you’re strapped for time, you can definitely sub canned.  But I highly reccomend that you set aside some time to try this recipe at least once so your wildest hummus dreams can be realized.

basic hummus (recipe adapted slightly from this recipe)

1.25 cups dried chickpeas (or sub 2 cans and skip the cooking with baking soda step)

1 teaspoon baking soda

6.5 cups water

.75 cup light roast tahini- use a runny one that isn’t super dark or bitter

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, crushed

6.5 tablespoons cold ice water

1.5 teaspoons salt

optional toppings: olive oil, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, minced parsley or cilantro, chili flakes, flaky sea salt, smokes paprika, za’atar spice or harissa, really whatever you like


The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight. The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy. Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups now.  Reserve a few tablespoons of whole chickpeas for garnishing.

Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine still running, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to mix for about five minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. To serve, top with a layer of good quality olive oil, toasted pine nuts, herbs, and reserved chickpeas.  Sprinkle some flaky sea salt to  finish. This hummus will keep in the refrigerator for four days.

beet variation shown above:

Right after you add the ice water, add in a few chunks of steamed beet to the processor while it runs.  Add in as much or as little as you like to get a lighter or deeper color and flavor.  In the picture, I’ve used about 1/2 a smaller beet.  I’ve heard that TJ’s used beet juice in addition to steamed beet in order to obtain a very beety taste/color- so if that’s what you are after, you could try that.  You could also try icing the beet water leftover from steaming in place of the ice water.

I’ve served it here with garlic flatbread (I omitted the rosemary and subbed some cardamom) that I cut into slices, brushed lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with s+p.  Bake in 400 degree oven till crisp, about 15 minutes or more.

I hope you enjoy!  If there’s a product you’d like me to attempt to re-create package free, let me know in the comments or on my Instagram @mamaeatsplants !