The Real Food Journal

Make Easy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crispy Bars

Vegan Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

Peanut Butter and Chocolate and Crunch!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crispy Bars Are Calling Your Name!

My neighborhood grocery store folks know how our minds work. When you stand in line at the register, they have thoughtfully provided a stack of appealing, easy to grab treats, to tempt the hungry shopper. I must admit, I’ve gazed longingly at the peanut butter rice crispy bars with a thick layer of chocolate on top, looking all crunchy and seductive in their plastic wrappers. Peanut Butter and Chocolate. I didn’t come into the store wanting them, but now I do.

But I know, they have all kinds of ingredients I don’t want, and are topped with wimpy milk chocolate. I also know that making no-bake crispy treats is so easy to do, it seems silly to buy them.

So I picked up the ingredients instead!

You Don’t Need Marshmallows for Crispy Bars

If you grew up making rice crispy bars, you probably did it by melting a bag of marshmallows with some margarine, then stirring in some rice krispies. If you are trying to avoid refined foods, as I am, you don’t want any part of that scenario. But you can get a nice crispy bar without the refined sugar and gelatin, and even use brown rice cereal in place of white. A few toasted oats fill in between the rice, and give it a nice flavor. Throw in some peanut butter and it’s not just yummy, but has a little bit of protein as a bonus.

The Magic of Boiled Syrup Holds It Together

If you’re wondering what will glue all those tiny bits of rice together in the bar, we can thank rice syrup. There’s a transformation that occurs when you boil it. It only takes one minute, but don’t skip that step, or your bars will not set. Peanut butter thickens the coating, too.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Stack Them Up, Watch Them Go!

Once you press them in the pan, they set up quickly. Make room in the refrigerator and chill them for a couple of hours, then spread melted chocolate over the top. There is a video clip of me doing this on my instagram page, so check that out, if only for the food pron of watching melted chocolate move across the screen.

Gluten Free, Vegan, and Nobody Will Care

Using gluten free oats makes these safe for your GF friends, and brown rice syrup is as vegan as it gets. Use organic brown sugar or palm sugar (the soft kind from a jar) to make sure you are keeping it vegan. This is one of those treats that your junk food-loving friends and omnivorous family will devour, without missing gluten or sugar. I promise.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Forever!

I just love peanut butter and chocolate together, here are a few more treats that feature the timeless combo:

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pops

Peanut Butter and Cacao Nib Smoothies

Pumpkin Spice Buckeyes

Dark Chocolate is Health Food

Now that I have my bars, I’ll be wrapping up a few to keep in the refrigerator, to grab when I am on my way to teach a class or hit the gym. A little burst of energy, in the form of peanut butter and chocolate, always comes in handy.

Enjoy the bars!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crispy Bars

Who Needs Marshmallows? You can make your own crispy bars with peanut butter, brown rice syrup, and whole grain crisped brown rice.

Course Dessert
Servings 16
Author Robin Asbell


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 5 cups crisped brown rice cereal
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, organic or soft palm sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup vegan mini-chips or other dark chocolate
  • chopped peanuts optional, for garnish


  1. Oil a 9x13 inch metal or glass baking pan with 2 inch sides. Reserve

  2. In a medium skillet over medium high heat, swirl the oats until they are fragrant and toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl so that they will not burn. Add the crispy rice and salt and stir to mix.

  3. In a small saucepan, combine the rice syrup and brown or palm sugar. Over high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low bubble for one minute. Take off the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Pour over the oat mixture and mix well.  
  4. Scrape into the prepared pan and use wet hands to press evenly in the pan. 
  5. Chill for at least 3 hours before removing from the pan. Get a cutting board, and use a metal spatula to go around the edge of the pan, loosening the bars. Place the cutting board on top of the pan and invert. The bars should drop out, tap the bottom of the pan if needed to get them to drop.

    Melt the chocolate and spread over the bars. If desired, you can sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

  6. Chill the pan until the chocolate is set.

  7. Slice into four even squares, then slice each of those into four bars. Store in an airtight wrapper or container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Make a Pistachio Cream Pizza, and You Won’t Miss the Cheese!


vegan Pistachio and ham pizza

Tangy Tomatoes, Savory “Ham” and Creamy Pistachio

Vegan Pizza. For some, it’s the final challenge. All that meat and cheese is just too hard to give up, right? Not so fast. All you need is some of the mock “ham” from my Plant Based Meats Cookbook and some pistachios to make a really satisfying, savory pizza.

Vegan Pizza Needs a Good “Cheese”

If you’ve tried some of the commercially made vegan “cheese,” you may have found them to be disappointing. The really good ones are expensive, making them more of a treat than a staple. But if you have a blender, you can make quick nut purees that give you much of the creamy, savory cheesiness you crave. Vegan pizza can be a genuinely fantastic experience.

Pistachios are Stars in Their Own Right

Pistachios are so craveably tasty that you might forget that they are incredibly good for you. Lower in fat and calories than many nuts, they are rich in antioxidants- notably the lutein and zeanthin that protect your eyesight. They also lower your cholesterol, protect your blood vessels, and protect against cancer.

An ounce, or about 1/4 cup, has:

Calories: 156/ Carbs: 8 grams/ Fiber: 3 grams

Protein: 6 grams/Fat: 12 grams (90% are healthy fats)

Potassium: 8% of the RDI/ Phosphorus: 14% of the RDI

Vitamin B6: 24% of the RDI/ Thiamin: 16% of the RDI

Copper: 18% of the RDI/ Manganese: 17% of the RDI

Pistachio Cream and "Ham" Pizza

Pistachio Cream Is Luscious and “Cheesy”

Plant Based “Ham” Boosts the Protein and Meatiness

Of course, this pizza is built on a whole wheat crust, and features the “ham” from my book, Plant Based Meats. I made the ham, portioned it into 2 and four serving-sized packs of sliced and cubed ham, and froze several of them. Then I had it on hand for sandwiches, split pea soup, fried rice, you name it. Anywhere ham might go.

Vegan "Ham" and Pistachio Cream Pizza

There may not be any leftovers…

A Creamy, Green Vegan Pizza Topping Made from Pistachios

All it takes is a blender. This one is not soaked or fermented, just pureed and poured over the pizza. If you wanted, you could empty in a few probiotic capsules and let the mixture sit our for a day to ferment a little. But, really, this is a quick solution to the DIY vegan pizza cheese.

It Really Came Together Faster Than You Think

Mix dough, let rise, puree pistachios, quick saute some tomatoes. The ham is already made, in this scenario. The cast iron pan gave the whole wheat crust a lively crisp edge, and held the heat to keep the pizza warm at the table as we worked out way through it.

It might serve four, or if you are two hungry people, you might have one slice left over for lunch.

Maybe. And that’s a sign of a good pizza!

"Ham" and Pistachio Cream Pizza in Cast Iron

Instead of seeking out non-dairy cheeses, why not puree a lovely pistachio topping instead?

Course Main Course
Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Pistachio Cream

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano chopped
  • 4 ounces mock ham, cubed 3/4 cup


  1. First, make the crust. In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt, then stir in the water and olive oil. Mix well, but don't knead. Let rise, covered, for an hour. 
  2. In a powerful blender, place the water, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Add the pistachios and blend, scraping down, until smooth. Scrape into a bowl and reserve.
  3. Scrape into a bowl and reserve.

    In a small saute pan, heat the remaining olive oil and saute the grape tomatoes and garlic until the tomatoes are softened. Stir in the oregano and stir for a few more seconds.

  4. Preheat the oven to 425. Oil a 10 inch cast iron skillet.Pat the dough into the pan. Let rise on the back of the stove while the oven pre-heats.
  5. Sprinkle the tomatoes and oregano over the crust, cover with "ham," and drizzle the pistacho puree over the pizza.

    Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the crust is golden. Serve immediately.

Hasselback Purple Sweet Potatoes with Sage, for a Colorful Side Dish

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Ready to Serve

Hasselback is the Way to Go

A plain, baked sweet potato is a pretty great thing on its own. Just sliced or mashed, adorned with a little salt or maple syrup. But when it’s time to entertain, you want something with curb appeal. For a dramatic presentation, go for these Hasselback Purple Sweet Potatoes with Sage. If you haven’t encountered it before, the term “hasselback” refers to the method of slicing a whole vegetable into vertial slices, leaving it intact at the bottom. It used to be just potatoes, but we’ve been doing it to everything lately. In this recipe, a little bit of knife work transforms a brilliant purple tuber into a showpiece of a dish, and it’s super simple to make.

Purple Foods Are Special

I’ve been obsessed with the Stokes Purple Sweet Potato since it appeared on the scene a few years ago. I’ve made it into Quesadillas, Bowls, stuffed sweet potatoes, wrap sandwiches, and more.

If you haven’t worked with them, they are a little denser and drier than your usual, orange sweet potato. They don’t seem to get as huge as the Garnet Yams and other sweet potatoes I buy. They take a little longer to cook than other sweet potatoes, too.

These sweet potatoes are swirled with deep purple, with layers of lighter flesh in between. Once they are cooked, the lighter areas are tinted to match. The purple pigment is made up of anthocyanin, a potent antioxidant. It’s also gorgeous.

How to Hasselback

I used a pair of chopsticks to help me make the hasselback shape, Holding the sticks on each side of the tuber kept my knife from cutting all the way through. Easy.

For this presentation, I fitted my sweet potatoes into a casserole before cutting them, just to get the size right. As you can see, I had room between the sweet potatoes for some herb-laced onions, and I did fill in with one small orange sweet potato. You can easily make these in any amount, just fit the sweets in the pan and fill the space with sliced onions.


For the purely plant based joy of it, I warmed some chopped sage in olive oil and basted the slices with it. Salt and pepper are essential, when you are making something so simple. Of course, you could add slivered garlic, chilis, or other seasonings.

There’s a Reason for All That Slicing

Once the slices of sweet potato are properly basted, just cover and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. That will make sure the sweet potatoes are nice and tender. Another basting with oil and herbs, and a quick turn under the broiler will brown it just enough to give you a little crispiness on top.

Of you wanted to sprinkle with some oiled crumbs, finely chopped nuts, or shredded cheese, it would be lovely. Just don’t burn them under the broiler.

This is the season to show off your skills with sweet potatoes and other winter veggies. Sharpen up that Chef’s knife and give this one a twirl, you’ll love it.

Hasselback Purple Sweet Potatoes

If you can find some Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes, they make a dramatic purple side dish to wow your friends and family. Regular sweet potatoes are fantastic, as well.

Course Side Dish
Servings 6
Author Robin Asbell


  • 6 medium Purple Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 large onion slivered
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh sage chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • rosemary and sage sprigs for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Get a 9x13 casserole pan and foil to cover it.
  2. Arrange your sweet potatoes in the pan, then take each one out, peel it, and do the cuts as follows. Shave off a thin slice from the side that you want to rest on the pan. Place that side down on the cutting board and place two chopsticks on either side of the sweet potato, to use as a knife-stop. Carefully grip the chopsticks and the sweet potato and use your knife to slice down, but not through, at 1/4-inch intervals. Place the potato back in the pan and continue until all are done.

  3. Mix the onions with a tablespoon of olive oil and the rosemary, and a pinch of the salt. Sprinkle between the potatoes.

    In a small pot, warm the remaining olive oil, sage, salt and pepper. Use a pastry brush to baste the potatoes, opening the slices as much as possible without breaking. You can pick each one up and bend it back slightly to open, then paint into the slices. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the seasoned oil.

  4. When all the sweet potatoes are seasoned and in the pan, cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes. The sweet potatoes should be tender when pierced with a knife, in the center of a thick slice.
  5. Uncover, baste again with the reserved oil, and turn on the broiler. Slide the pan under the broiler, watching closely, and take out to baste again every minute or so. It won't take more than 3 or 4 minutes to brown the tops.
  6. Garnish with rosemary and sage sprigs. Serve hot.

Rich, Luscious Truffles, Easy, Fast (and Vegan)

Boozy Vegan Truffles

Boozy Cherry Vegan Truffles

The holiday season is in full swing, and you really should have some treats planned by now. No? Well I’m here with a simple little treat that everybody will think was hard to make. I’m talking about Vegan Truffles.

No Special Skills Are Needed to Make Vegan Truffles

I know, people spend big bucks on fancy truffles, many of which are pretty awful. They are also usually made with cream. I’m here to tell you, all you need is chocolate, coconut milk, and a flavor of your choice. Vanilla, almond, booze, any will do.

If you can boil a little coconut milk and pour it over some chocolate, then stir, you have the truffle filling. Chill it, scoop it, and you have truffles. I like to gussy it up with some liquor-soaked dried fruit, but you don’t have to. It’s optional in the recipe below.

Vegan Truffles

They Don’t Have to Be Perfect-They’re Delicious!

Vegan Truffles are Easy to Make in Stages

It’s easy to throw the ganache together in the morning before work, or after dinner. Just stir it up and chill it. Then, plan about 20 minutes for forming the truffles into balls. You need a small scoop to make this go quickly, I’ve used a melon baller in a pinch. Chill them again and you can dip them later in about a 15 minute session. I melted chocolate to coat them, but you can just roll in cocoa, powdered sugar, nuts, or whatever sounds good to you.

Because I don’t make you take time to temper the chocolate, the coating will not be glossy and snappy. That’s why I like to sprinkle it with some crunchy, flavored sugar or other decoration to cover the less-than-perfect look of the coating.

(if you want to temper chocolate, you’ll need more time…)

Vegan Truffles

Once You Scoop Them They are Truffles!

Everybody Loves Chocolate

The plain truffle is vegan, alcohol free, and really, kind of a healthy little pick me up. It’s mostly dark chocolate, packed with antioxidants, so it’s good for you. The fruity version has healthy dried fruit in it as a bonus.

Truffles Are Fun To Share

If you want to go all out with candy boxes and foil, or just put them on a plate and serve them, people will love them. I put mine in those mini-muffin papers so I could pack them into reusable containers for my friends. Just keep them in the refrigerator until time to serve.

Happy Holidays with Truffles!

Vegan Truffles

These easy truffles can be varied endlessly- keep them simple, or add fruit, nuts and flavorings.

Course Dessert
Keyword Vegan Truffles
Servings 50 1 1/2 tsp truffles
Author Robin Asbell


  • 8 ounces very dark chocolate chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk thick
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (use glycerine vanilla for no-alcohol) for plain truffles

For Boozy Cherry Truffles

  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup cognac or brandy


  • 8 ounces very dark chocolate
  • cocoa, colored sugar, chopped nuts, powdered sugar, etc


  1. If using cherries, soak the cherries in the booze before starting. When soft and plumped, squeeze them out and chop the fruit, and reserve the liquor. 

  2. Chop the chocolate. Place the coconut milk in a small pot and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and dump in the chocolate, let stand for a couple of minutes before stirring. When all the chocolate is melted, stir in the vanilla or 2 tablespoons of the liquor from the cherries.

  3. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a storage container, cover, and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours. 

  4. Prepare a large storage container for the truffle scoops. Scoop the ganache into portions, then roll between your palms for a nice round shape. Place in the storage container and chill for at least half an hour.

  5. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Melt chocolate in a double boiler and dip the truffles, using a fork to lift each one out of the chocolate, shake off extra chocolate, and place on parchment. Decorate with a sprinkle of sugar or nuts.

    Alternatively, skip the melted chocolate coating and simply roll in coatings.

  6. Refrigerate until time to serve, keep tightly covered.

Bake Persimmon Cookies for a Seasonal Treat

Persimmon and Hazelnut Cookies

Persimmon Cookies and Pomegranates, Together at Last!

Persimmon and Hazelnut Cookies

When the persimmons appear in the stores, you know the holidays are coming. That makes them a perfect candidate to use in a holiday treat, like these Persimmon and Hazelnut Cookies with Pomegranate Glaze.

What The Heck is a Persimmon, Anyway?

Take a look at your grocery store, there should be a few orange fruits, rather like either a pointed or a very squat orange tomato. Those are the persimmons, and you need to know which kind to eat now, and which to wait on. Important rule: Pointy ones, WAIT. Round ones, Go ahead now, or wait. The pointy ones are called Hachiya persimmons, and they are bitter and tannic when firm. The rounder ones are Fuyus, and they can be eaten sliced, or allowed to completely soften, as I did for this recipe.

For a persimmon salad recipe, click here or a persimmon chutney, click here

Persimmon Lore and Legend

The bright orange fruits feel like something hopelessly old-fashioned and romantic, to me. They weren’t really around when I was growing up, but I remember them being mentioned in books about the olden days, and wondering what they might taste like. Turns out, those persimmons of lore and legend were tiny and intensely tannic and bitter if you took a bite before they had hung on the tree past first frost. The persimmon of North Americas was used by the Natives, once ripe, to make into dried “energy bars” for the winter. It was quickly replaced by the Japanese varieties sent over in the mid 1800’s. That’s when the Hachiyas and Fuyus took over.

Juicy and Enigmatic Persimmon Pulp Is Great for Baking

Ripe Persimmon

Soft, Ripe Fuyu Persimmon

I picked up a pair of Fuyus and let them ripen until they were completely soft. Then I cut out the stem and scooped out the pulp. I just mashed it, so there were still chunks left, but most of it melted into the cookie dough.

The dough is easy, all mixed by hand in a big bowl. Don’t over-mix, this is a low-fat cookie, and too much stirring will make it tough. Toasting and skinning the hazelnuts is kind of fussy, but worth every second.

Persimmon Cookies with Pomegranate Glaze

Drizzling the Cookies with Tangy Pomegranate Glaze

Once you bake the cookies, let them cool, then stir up this potent pomegranate glaze. Pomegranate is another fruit we only see this time of year, and it makes a brilliant pink glaze. It’s also famed for its antioxidant levels. But really, it’s Holiday red, so go for it!

I opened up a fresh pomegranate for some juicy arils to sprinkle around the cookies, but you don’t have to. It just looks pretty, and they are fun to pop in your mouth between cookies.

Eating with the seasons sometimes means eating something a little exotic, from somewhere warm. Persimmons and pomegranates are part of the holidays, here, in the land of ice and snow. If we had dried persimmons from out native trees, we’d be eating them now, and wishing we had these juicy, brilliant ones instead.

Happy Holidays!

Persimmon and Hazelnut Cookies with Pomegranate Glaze

Persimmon gives the cookies a fruity, orange glow. The sweet and tart fruit is perfect in these little cookies, studded with crunchy hazelnuts.

Course Dessert
Servings 30 cookies
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 1 cups persimmon pulp from two very ripe persimmons
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup toasted and skinned hazlenuts coarsely chopped


  • 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice approximately


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two sheet pans with parchment papers. To toast the nuts, spread them on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Let cool just until safe to handle. Using a folded towel, rub the nuts to remove the skins. If any nuts refuse to give up their skins, put them back in the oven for 5 minutes longer and try again. Rub off the skins, the coarsely chop. Discard the skins.

  2. In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking soda and salt. In a cup, stir the non-dairy milk and flax seeds and let stand for five minutes to thicken. In a medium bowl, stir the persimmon pulp, maple, sugar, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir the flax mixture into the persimmon mixture, then stir into the flour mixture.

  3. Fold in the hazelnuts.

  4. Use a tablespoon to scoop heaping two tablespoon-sized portions of dough and place them an inch apart on the pans. Flatten slightly to make thick disks. They will not spread. Bake 10 minutes, then reverse the position of the pans and bake for 6 minutes more. The cookies will look dry and the bottoms will be golden. 
  5. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely.
  6. Once the cookies are cool, stir the organic powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon of pomegranate juice. You'll need a few more teaspoons to make the glaze fluid enough to drizzle. Drizzle the cookies and let them dry on the rack, then transfer to an airtight container. Keeps at room temperature for a week.

Try Making Plant Based Meats at Home, Save The Planet

Make your own plant based meats with Plant Based Meats, Hearty, High Protein Recipes for Vegans, Flexitarians, and Curious Carnivores

Plant Based Meats, Hearty, High Protein Recipes for Vegans, Flexitarians, and Curious Carnivores

Plant Based Meats, Hearty, High Protein Recipes for Vegans, Flexitarians, and Curious Carnivores is Out

I don’t have children. I guess that the closest thing to giving birth that I will ever experience will be the gestation of a cookbook. At first it’s a twinkle in your eye, then comes several months of intense work and creation, and then just when you can’t stand it anymore, it’s done.

Less blood, but plenty of sweat and tears.

Once that book is completed and in your hands, all the work and difficulty fades from memory. It’s all worth it.

So, meet my new baby, Plant Based Meats, Hearty, High Protein Recipes for Vegans, Flexitarians, and Curious Carnivores. After a year of testing and tweaking all my plant-based meat recipes, then making them for photo shoots with talented photographer David Schmit, I’m so proud to see them enter the world.

Beefy Seitan Burger from Plant-Based Meats: Hearty, High-Protein Recipes for Vegans, Flexitarians, and Curious Carnivores

The Beefy Seitan Burger!

Plant Based Meats are a Hot Trend

I’ve been out here, spreading the word about plant based, vegetarian food since the 80’s, and it’s been a journey. For many of those years, it seemed like the needle wasn’t moving. The Standard American Diet had people in its grip, and only a few brave souls questioned it. But in recent years, we are seeing the needle move.

10 years ago, non-dairy milks made the move to the dairy case, and suddenly, their market share exploded. Now it’s time for Plant-based meats to take a growing space in the market. In 2018 alone, plant-based meat sales are up 23%, with the top brands, like Beyond Meat up 70%, Field Roast up 68%.

Praise to the Butchers and “Meat” Makers

The movement owes much to the urgency we all feel about global climate change. We’ve also got some great artisans taking plant-based meats to new places, including my friends at the Herbivorous Butcher, and “meat” makers around the globe.

Empower Yourself, Make Your Own “Meat”

Like bread, the showy mock meats (like stuffed turkeys, or layered streaky bacon) take a little time to make, and there will always be people who prefer to buy it, not make their own. But for anyone who wants to know what’s in her food, and even customize it a bit, the home kitchen is the place to create “meats.”

There’s More Than One Way to Make a “MEAT”

Most of the meats in the book include some gluten. But there are also jackfruit, bean, nut, and seed based meats in there, too. The chapters cover Basic Meats, Lunch Meats and Spreads, Sausages, Meatballs, Burgers and Meatloaves,Tacos and Pulled Meats, Roasts and Filets, Ribs and Wings, Bacon and Jerky, and a Section on Using the “meats” in main courses like Boeuf Bourguignon, Pepperoni Pizza, and more. There are several gluten free options.

Walnut Cauliflower Ground Beef Tacos, a GF Option from Plant Based Meats by Robin Asbell

Walnut Cauliflower Ground Beef Tacos, a GF Option

If You Crave Meat, This Works

Mock meats may never knock animal meats off the menu. But these really do deliver a satisfying texture and flavor. Your umami receptors will sense the combinations of amino acids and other umami chemicals that signal “meatiness” to your brain, and the experience will feel more satisfying than eating a handful of nuts. You’ll be full and have the protein you crave. Add the satisfaction of eating a meal that isn’t adding to your carbon footprint or taking the lives of animals, and you’ve got a pretty satisfying dish.

I hope you’ll give my book a try, and make your own plant based meats at home. You’ll be saving money, the planet, and your health, with one small but powerful act.

Charcuterie from Plant Based Meats, Hearty High Protein Recipes for Vegans, Flexitarians and Curious Carnivores

Charcuterie to Tempt the Curious Carnivore

Basic Beef Seitan

This versatile recipe can be made as one big roast, or chunks of stewed beef. It can be simmered on the stovetop, cooked in a slow cooker, or pressure cooked in an instant pot. Once it’s done, you can cut it in chunks for stir fry, and stews, or you can grind it to make a pretty great ground beef.

Copyrighted and reprinted with permission from Plant Based Meats, Hearty, High Protein Recipes for Vegans, Flexitarians and Curious Carnivores (Countryman Press)

Yield: 2 1/2 pounds

Mixing time 15 minutes, cooking times vary by method

2 cups vital wheat gluten

1/4 cup tapioca

1/4 cup chickpea flour

1/4 cup mock beef broth powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste


In a large bowl, combine the vital wheat gluten, tapioca, chickpea flour, and onion powder. In a medium bowl, combine the water, broth powder, oil, tamari, and tomato paste. Whisk until smooth. Stir into the gluten mixture, and knead when it becomes stiff. Form into a log about 9 inches long.

Stovetop: Pour the broth ingredients into a 4 quart pot or dutch oven with a lid. Add the seitan log, and if needed, more water to cover the log, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer, just bubbling but not boiling. Cover the pot and cook for about 2 hours, turning the seitan midway. The internal temp should reach 180 F.

Instant Pot: Place 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet and a dried mushroom in the Instant Pot. For chunks: Mix the seitan and tear or cut the dough into bite-sized pieces, dropping them into the pot as you go. Secure the lid and made sure the steam vent is on Sealing. Set to pressure cook on high pressure, and use Manual to set the timer for 20 minutes. When 20 minutes is up, let the cooker release pressure naturally for 10 minutes.

Let the seitan cool, then separate the pieces.

For the roast, pressure cook for 40 minutes.

Slow cooker: Use 2 cups broth and cook on low for 6 hours.

Take off the heat, drain the seitan and let cool. Save the broth to use in other applications. Use for making ground seitan by cutting in chunks and grinding in the food processor, pulsing on and off until a ground beefy texture is achieved. For stir-fry beef, rip the seitan in pieces, pulling it to find a grain and make pieces that resemble meat.


Seitan Ground Beef Tacos

If you thought taco night was a thing of the past, rejoice. These tacos put your ground seitan to good use, so you can cook these up just the way you used to with a pound of ground beef and a packet of mystery additives and spices.

Copyrighted and reprinted with permission from Plant Based Meats, Hearty, High Protein Recipes for Vegans, Flexitarians and Curious Carnivores (Countryman Press)

Yield: 1 pound, 1 3/4 cups

20 minutes

1 1/2 cups ground seitan

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons sherry

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

1/2 teaspoon smoked salt

2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce

8 hard or soft taco shells

Lettuce, tomatoes, sliced jalapenos


Prepare or thaw seitan. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat for a few seconds, then add the onions and stir. Saute, stirring, until softened. Add the tomato paste and sherry and stir to mix well. Add the smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, smoked salt and tamari and mix. Add the seitan and stir to mix and coat the crumbles thoroughly. Keep stirring until thick and browned, and heated through.

Serve in wraps or tacos.


You Need a Comforting Pasta to Keep You Warm This Winter. Try Farfalle with Roasted Tomatoes and Pistachios

Farfalle with Roasted Tomatoes and Pistachios

Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelized Onions Make Pasta Special

I know, it’s a crazy-busy time of year. We are all running around trying to get things done, as the temperature drops and it gets dark earlier and earlier. It’s disturbingly easy to take refuge in bad choices, and comfort yourself with fast food and snacks. For the sake of your sanity and your health, don’t fall into that trap. Make yourself some of this lush, deeply flavorful pasta, topped with crunchy, lightly salted nuts. Farfalle with Roasted Tomatoes and Pistachios is the answer to your Sunday dinner dilemma.

Making good choices is easy, and if you put a handful of chopped pistachios and a generous pour of olive oil over some pasta, your heart will sing.

Pasta for Winter Fuel

I won’t pretend this is an instant, quick, super fast meal. It takes a little time to caramelize the onions and roast the tomatoes. It’s hands-off time, and the oven warms the kitchen. The scent of fresh thyme and garlic wafts through the air. You’ll feel good about making this, I promise.

Grape Tomatoes are the Best in Winter

Once tomato season ends, my go-to is always the Grape tomato. Somehow these little gems still pack real tomato flavor, when full-sized tomatoes have become washed out, flavorless props. The petite grape-shaped beauties are allowed to fully ripen on the vine, not shipped green, so all the chemistry that we need to happen has developed real flavor. Amp it up even more by throwing them in the oven, to sweeten and concentrate the juices.


Vegan Farfalle with Pistachios

Pistachios coat the pasta, then top the dish at serving!

Use Fresh Herbs to Take it Up a Notch

Fresh thyme will slowly infuse the oil and the juices of the vegetables, so the pasta is coated with herby goodness. Instead of the fresh pop of summery basil, you’ll get a complex, slightly musky effect that balances the sweet tomatoes and caramelized onions.

Chopped Nuts for the Win!

But the moment when you win the week is when you load it up with toasted, salted, chopped pistachios. Who needs cheese, when you have nuts? You’ll get all the richness you crave in a pasta from the healthful olive oil, and the crunchy, nutty pistachios are irresistible. Sure, they add protein and healthful fats and fiber, but who cares? It feels like a decadent treat.

Plant Based Pasta with Pistachios

Butter-soft Grape tomatoes and caramelized onions make it unforgettable.

You Deserve Comfort

Comfort yourself with pasta. Just make sure your pasta has tons of plants in it, and you can feel good about eating something so enjoyable.

Stay Warm and Eat More Plants!

Farfalle with Roasted Tomatoes and Pistachios

Crank the oven to make even winter tomatoes into a delicious sauce, sprinkled with crunchy pistachios for Zazz!

Course Pasta
Servings 6
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • 2 large onions slivered
  • 3 cups grape tomatoes halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme coarsely chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic choppped
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 pound farfalle


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Put on a big pot of water to boil for the pasta.

    In a 12-inch skillet, warm a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat, and add the onions. Stir until it starts to sizzle, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 hours. 

  2. In a metal roasting pan, combine the tomatoes, thyme and garlic and drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add a sprinkle of the salt. Roast for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes have burst and are browned in spots. Stir int he onions and keep warm.

  3. Cook the pasta according to package directions, about 13 minutes. While the pasta cooks, chop the pistachios and place in a small saute pan with another good pinch of the salt. Place over medium heat and swirl until the nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

  4. Drain the pasta and put the pot back on the stove. Add the remaining olive oil and half of the pistachios and toss to coat. Serve the pasta with the tomato mixture on top, and sprinkle with remaining pistachios.

Bake Some Kabocha Cornbread to Share

Vegan Cornbread

Yummy Tender Cornbread

Looking for an easy, fast bread that goes with every meal? This tender Kabocha Cornbread is ready in minutes, and can be a breakfast, lunch, or dinner bread. You can even use the leftovers for the best stuffing EVER.

I’ve been so busy getting ready for the holiday, and helping bring my latest book (Plant Based Meats, more to come about that, click to check it out!)

I haven’t made a raft of holiday recipes for you, or posted my favorite pumpkin pie yet. Family first, right?

But now it’s time to get that fab meal on the table, and this cornbread is going to make it work for both of us. First, throw a big Kabocha in the oven. I love my kabocha, and if you check my instagram, I’ll be posting all the other dishes I make with it.

Red Kabocha

Bake a bunch of Squash- this one weighed almost 7 pounds!

Once you have a big batch of sweet squash, you have a goldmine. I just scooped out a little for this easy vegan cornbread. I am baking for my Mom, who is allergic to standard wheat, so I used Einkorn flour. You can certainly use wheat, or even whole wheat pastry flour. I’m just loving up my Mom with foods she can eat.

It’s so easy, I baked it before everybody else got up , and met them at the table with warm cornbread, marmalade, and a fresh pot of coffee. We’ve been snacking on it, too.

If there’s any left, I can make a stuffing out of it, or croutons that will make a simple soup seem really extra-special.

Get that squash in the oven and make this vegan cornbread. Everyone will love it, vegans or omnivores, and we can bake someone happy.

Happy Holidays!


Bake Some Kabocha Cornbread!


Kabocha Cornbread

Fast and Easy Cornbread, laced with creamy squash, is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Course Side Dish
Servings 8
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 cup unbleached Einkorn flour
  • 3/4 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup kabocha squash puree


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly oil a 9-inch square baking pan.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt, whisk to combine

  3. In a cup, stir the almond milk and vinegar, let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in the melted coconut oil and agave, then the squash.

  4. Stir the wet into the dry, just until mixed, then spread in the prepared pan. Level the top and bake for about 20 minutes.

  5. When a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out with only moist crumbs. Cool on a rack and serve warm.

Next Page → ← Previous Page