Vegan Shakshuka

I have been vegetarian since I was 13 years old. I’ve always eaten eggs and dairy with brief moments of being a vegan. As I got older I am more interested in becoming a vegan as it has become more accessible and more of a health concern for me. My egg eating has become a concern for me with my classroom and my digestion. So I’m giving veganism another shot.

I’m really enjoying all of the new vegan restaurants in my town and vegan options that are out there including vegan donuts. My oldest son and I stop at Whole Foods and grab one every Sunday on the way home from swim class. I have switched out the margarine, butter, creamer’s for my coffee, to vegan options. My youngest son likes the chocolate almond milk, however my oldest son only likes the chocolate soy milk. They are both lacto-ovo vegetarians , however with me introducing some dairy free options I’m hoping that their colds will be easier to manage. They say that cutting back on dairy will loosen up any mucus causing illnesses. With both of my boys in daycare we’ve had a lot of colds this year.

My husband is a flexitarian. He still eats meat and fish from time to time, however he does enjoy my vegan and vegetarian options. As the cook in the house I only prepare vegan or vegetarian food so he only eats vegan or vegetarian food 75% to 80% of the time.

So one of the challenges lately is that he wanted something different for Shabbat dinner. I had been cooking a lot of quiches prior to going vegan, with my new dietary restrictions comes new recipes and challenges. Last week I looked on YouTube for some good ideas on how to cook an Israeli food favorite: Shakshuka vegan style. I came across a video featuring an actual Israeli woman named or Ori Shavit who is a vegan activist and cook in Israel. She uses sweet corn meal to replace the eggs in the shop sugar. She mentions that polenta is made from a technique that she’s using. You can watch the video here: With it being Shabbat, for which I cook several dishes and being short on time I decide to go straight to the polenta.

I have never been a fan of polenta, I never really knew so much how to use it. After watching a few episodes of Rachael Ray, however I did learn that it should be creamy and it can even be cheesy tasting! So I took a store brand Trader Joe’s log of polenta, crumbled it in my hands, put in a pot with some coconut milk and nutritional yeast cooked until it became a grits-like consistency. It was delicious on its own. I was so pleased with how it came out. It was so easy and quick to put together as well!

The final test came at the dinner table. I was already really happy with how the shocks you collect, have a tomato sauce tasted, but the final decision had to come to my Israeli husband. He absolutely loved it and we even had the leftovers last night!


4 large-medium sized heirloom tomatoes (I used red mainly, but also green and yellow)

1 log of store bought polenta

1 tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 tbsp. Smoked Paprika

1 small can of tomato paste

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 orange and 1 red bell pepper, washed and diced

1/2 c. coconut milk

1 c. water

2 spring onions

7 white mushrooms, chopped

1 tbsp. Olive Oil

1 chili pepper-use only the bottom, sweeter half and chop

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in a pan over med-high heat. Add garlic, peppers, and mushrooms to sauté until softened. Chop tomatoes into medium sized cubes and add to the pan along with water, paprika, and tomato paste. Lower the heat to simmer, partly covered on medium heat. Allow the tomato’s to soften, the water to evaporate, and sauce to thicken until there are no more bubbles around the edge of the pan.

While that is happening, into a saucepot crumble your log of store-bought polenta. Add your half a cup of coconut oil and tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Cook on medium high, using a potato masher to further mash the polenta and coconut milk together into a thickened, grits- like consistency

Once there are no longer any bubbles in your tomato sauce, spoon the polenta into the tomato sauce in oval shapes around the pan. It should be mimicking what an egg would look like if you were using eggs. One of the key components to Shakshuka is it’s red and yellow look. You can eat it with pieces of sliced up bread, warmed pita, Challah, or on its own. It’s a delicious and warm salad entrée.

Healthy Rice Crispy Treats, Rich in Omega-3 Fats!

When I first became a vegan in high school one of our favorite snacks amongst my friends and I was to make rice crispy treats with peanut butter. It’s a really easy and simple recipe, my boys even helped me with it! I have updated my peanut butter-based rest crispy treats to be even healthier by using puffed brown rice, organic creamy peanut butter, and organic coconut oil.

Omega-3 fats- which are great for your brain are tough to come by when you’re vegan or vegetarian. A lot of people get their omega-3 fatty acid’s from fish. As a vegetarian I get mine from nuts and oil’s. Avocados are another great source. Neither one of my boys right now like avocados, so I’m focusing on healthy oil’s and nuts. A simple way to get my boys to eat more omega-3 fatty acid’s is to use a seeded or nutty bread such as Dave’s Killer Bread which has 440 mg of omega-3 fatty acid’s along with some organic peanut butter. That’s a pretty typical lunchbox lunch for my boys.


5 c. puffed brown rice cereal 

6 tbsp. coconut oil

6 tbsp. organic, creamy peanut butter

3 tbsp. maple or agave syrup

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips or carob chips 


Combined 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, 6 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter, and 3 tablespoons of maple or agave syrup in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for two minutes, the coconut oil and peanut butter should be melted.  Stir all ingredients together to create a batter- like consistency.  Combine with 5 cups of puffed brown rice in a large mixing bowl. Pour into a parchment lined 9″ x 12″ baking pan. Spread the rice crispy batter evenly throughout the pan. To create the chocolate topping: combine 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and half a cup of chocolate or carob chips. Microwave for 2 minutes on high-stir chips and melted coconut oil together and drizzle over the rice crispy batter.  

Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least three hours.  Cut the rice crispy treats into squares, serve and enjoy!

Warm Riced Cauliflower and Garlicky Greens Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

I don’t know about you, but between all of the holiday weight that I’ve gained and the illness that my family has had with a rough couple months of flus and colds I am definitely looking for a health boost. So in my attempt to eat healthier, lose weight, have more energy, have less aches and pains, and promote healthy eating within my family I am trying to move towards a more plant-based diet. I’m trying to cut back on dairy, eggs, processed foods, adding more fruits vegetables nuts and seeds.

So one of my simple swaps is to use ricedcauliflower instead of rice in my vegetarian dishes. You can find it in just about any supermarket now! I saw it at my local Kroger Smith’s, I’ve ordered it through Amazon Prime Now, and Trader Joe’s has had it for well over a year. Using it instead of white rice or even brown rice in my dishes will save me hundreds of unwanted calories, and add folic acid to my meal.

If you have been reading my blog of the years you know my oldest son is a very picky eater. One way that I can get some veggies in him is by putting about half a cup of the riced cauliflower in with a cup of brown rice and mixing that together. If you cook them together in your rice cooker with some water, olive oil, salt, and pepper it is almost indistinguishable from the brown rice.  I typically make that for him one night a week.

To make a simple, plain riced  cauliflower I will give you my recipe and steps below. It comes out having a very similar texture to rice, it looks like white rice, and if you add some olive oil and salt it doesn’t have that strong, cauliflower taste anymore.

Simple Riced Cauliflower

1 packaged frozen or refrigerated riced cauliflower

water to cover

1 tbsp olive or coconut oil

1 tsp salt


In a deep pan pour your riced cauliflower, cover with water, add olive oil and salt.  Cook, uncovered on your stovetop, on high until the water boils.  Reduce heat to medium and cook covered for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork.

Garlicky Greens

4 c. Greens of your choice (collared, arugula, spinach, kale-I used a 50/50 salad greens mix)

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste


In a deep pan add olive oil and turn your stove’s heat up to high.  Add 4 cups of greens in bunch, by bunch , sautéing with a wooden spoon. Add 1 tbsp of garlic after about 2 cups of greens have been sautéed in the oil and wilted, then continue adding greens.  Sauté the greens with the last tbsp of garlic and then turn off the heat.  Salt to taste.  Enjoy!

***For this recipe I made the riced cauliflower while heating up my oven for the chickpeas.  Then I divided my cooked riced cauliflower into two bowls, used the same pan for the greens to cut down on dishes.  While the greens were being sautéed , the chick peas were in the oven crisping.

Before adding the chickpeas, I added sunflower seeds to my husband's salad

Crispy Garlicky Chickpeas

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp olive oil

salt to taste

1 tbsp garlic 


Pre-heat oven to 375 F.  On a baking sheet pour your chickpeas, olive oil, and garlic.  Mix together with your hands and spread evenly across the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and place in the oven for 30 minutes. When they come out they will be crispy and warm.

To layer the salad-I placed the riced cauliflower in the bottom of our dish, then I topped it with the garlicky greens and crispy chickpeas. For my husband, who doesn’t eat much during the day, I wanted to add some more protein and crunch to the salad so I sprinkled sunflower seeds on top as well.

To accompany this salad with a simple vegetable soup with chickpea noodles.  It’s a very nutritious, healthy kick start to the New Year!

These are the chickpea noodles I picked up at Smith's.

Hanukkah Sugar Cookie Decorating Party for Toddlers

For a recent play date my friend and I decided to make sugar cookies and let the kids decorate them. Neither one of us have made sugar cookies before, so through trial and error we were able to figure out a recipe that worked. Our first attempt at dough came out too crumbly. Once we got the dry and wet ingredient ratio worked out we had a buttery, smooth cookie dough.

Recipe for Sugar Cookies:


2 1/3 c. flour, sifted

1 tbsp. vanilla pudding mix

1 c. white sugar

1 large egg

2 sticks of butter-room temperature


First we combined dry ingredients and then added the wet using a stand alone mixer on medium. We mixed them together for 10 minutes, scraping down the sides.

Once the ingredients were combined we kneaded with our hands for five minutes and then rolled it to 1/4″ thickness using a rolling pin. We used metal dreidel shaped cookie cutter to cut out our shapes.

The cookies baked in a 350 degree oven for 9 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Once cooled we could begin adding our colorful royal icing.

Recipe for Royal Icing:


1 c. confectioner’s sugar

4 tbsp. milk


Pour sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl, add milk. Whisk together until smooth. Spoon into 3 small bowls, add one drop of food coloring and mix to create blue and gold.

We laid out a easy wipe tablecloth with a festive print, a paper plate for each child, small bowls with the royal icing, one bowl with Star of David sprinkles, and tiny spoons for decorating.  The children decorated each cookie one by one, spooning one the icing and creating a marble effect.

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This activity was a hit!  The kids were involved with each step of the baking and decorating process.  They loved decorating the cookies the most-each child decorated 10 cookies!  We had so much fun and will definitely be doing more cookie and baking activities with our kids for future holidays!

My Favorite Vegetarian Pins for Thanksgiving

Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Goat Cheese, Cranberries and Balsamic Glaze


Yes, there will be no turkey in my house, if you don’t count a gingerbread cookie turkey made from a Trader Joe’s kit.  I will be making my second vegetarian Thanksgiving feast this year and I can’t wait!  Some recipes are tried and true like the sweet potato rounds and pecan pie, others are new like the Pumpkin Dump Cake and butternut squash risotto.

If you are looking for some vegetarian ideas to accompany your turkey this year or are actually going meatless you can check out my pins that I’m sharing here.  Simply click the link and they will take you to the actual pin on Pinterest or follow me on Pinterest at:


Brown Butter Garlic Honey Roasted Carrots – the best roasted carrots ever with lots of garlic, brown butter and honey. SO good |

Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria Recipe. This is a great idea for party punches this fall and winter. Try this crowd pleaser, easy, pitcher drinks or pitcher cocktail for a crowd at one of your holiday (hello, Halloween and Thanksgiving) parties this year! You'll need, apples (it's a great way to use them up), cognac, cider, cava, and pomegranate seeds or arils. This contains alcohol, but we've got an alternate recipe to make it non-alcoholic too.

Creamy, comforting green bean casserole made completely from scratch! Easy Thanksgiving side dish. Recipe on

Pumpkin Dump Cake | The First Year

Easy Pecan Pie! (Made without Corn Syrup) - Spend With Pennies

If you are looking for some unique DIY Fall projects for your Thanksgiving check out these two pins I created:

Blog – My Petite Picassos

Fall Handprint Plate Keepsake


Fall Craft -Lazy Susan DIY Thanksgiving

Fall DIY Lazy Susan 



My Favorite Fall Pins

Fall LeavesYes fall is here, at least in my heart.  Why the rush?  We’re going to Israel for the High Holidays so I miss a chunk of my favorite season and it’s American traditions: apple picking, pumpkin spice everything, and Halloween for a month.  This year we’ll be coming back two weeks before Halloween so I’ll get to feel the holiday a little more.  It is my favorite holiday and the memories of my children these past few years celebrating with me are so precious.

With my early fall celebrations I’ve started pinning crafts, decorations, DIY projects, and recipes to enjoy when we get back.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Popsicle stick monster craft.

Craft Stick Monsters - Kid Craft More

2. Metallic foiled pumpkins

Painted Metallic Foiled Pumpkins. It makes your pumpkins stand out and brings a new decoration to the home!

3. Acorn Donut Holes

This acorn donut hole recipe is a fun way to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of fall!

4.  Speaking of donuts, Maple Glazed Donuts!

Baked Maple Donuts Recipe with Maple Glaze

5. Bronze Pumpkin Stack

You won't waste your $1 buckets on candy when you see her porch trick

6.  For the High Holidays there are so many edible Torahs and Sukkahs!

Design Megillah: Edible Torahs for Children

I have linked all of the images back to the pin so you can explore these ideas.  Please be sure to follow My Petite Picassos on Pinterest for more autumnal awesomeness!



Baked Chocolate Milk Doughnuts with Nutella Frosting

Chocolate milk is something I should  think about getting stock in.  Ben loves his organic, whole, with vitamin D.  I know it has added sugar, but the good outweighs the bad right now so I let him enjoy his favorite drink.

Another thing he has recently discovered is Nutella.  He loves Nutella on challah bread sandwiches for lunch at camp.  He also likes plain peanut butter sandwiches, but no jelly!

Since starting camp 7 weeks ago he has had so much fun making friends, learning, and he loves his teacher!  He gets so excited for camp everyday!  I love watching  this little learner grow and develope!

Even though he loves camp he has had separation anxiety and when he’s home he wants “momma!” Last weekend he was really dealing with some rough anxiety and was right next to me all weekend.  I thought this would be the perfect time to do a project.  He loves doughnuts and so we made doughnuts!

I have a 6 doughnut pan and this recipe makes 6 baked chocolate doughnuts with Nutella frosting.  I made the batter thin with chocolate milk so I could pipe it into the pan using a gallon sized Ziploc bag.  This is my first attempt at making doughnuts and I must say I was pleased at how they turned out!


One of the nice things about making doughnuts is that the ingredients are in small amounts-so if you’re being frugal they will stretch into several batches!

This was the first time Ben helped me cook.  Even Adam got into it.  They used spatulas to stir and dumped in the pre-measured dry ingredients.  We counted how many tablespoons of this and scoops of that.  I showed Ben what “half” means using my measuring cups.  Baking is wonderful for math and science.  We also talked about powder, solid, and liquid ingredients.  I really believe that moments like this where I take a little time out of my day to teach makes a big difference!

Ingredients for doughnuts:


1c. all purpose white flour

1/2t. baking soda

1/2t. baking powder

2tbsp.  baking cocoa

1/4c + 2t. granulated sugar

2 eggs

2t. melted coconut oil

2/3c. chocolate milk

Set oven to 325 degrees F.  Combine dry ingredients first in a mixing bowl.  Then add wet ingredients until a batter is formed.  Spoon into gallon size Ziploc bag or piping bag and pipe into a sprayed doughnut baking pan.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Tip:  Do not over fill the doughnut pan with batter, these doughnuts will rise in the pan and you want them to keep their shape.  Allow to cool before frosting.


3 tbsp. Nutella

1c. confectioner’s sugar

1t. Vanilla essence

Mix together, and spoon into a a Ziploc bag or piping bag to pipe onto the doughnuts.

I am not expert piper, so I just went around my doughnuts twice with the icing.  Then I added sprinkles and edible pearls.  You can add cut fruit like bananas or strawberries, crushed Oreos would be heavenly!  Enjoy with a nice tall glass of chocolate milk!


Nutritious Pancakes With Fruit and Oats

Nutritious pancakes
Pancakes are Ben’s favorite breakfast.  He won’t eat anything but pancakes in the morning!  Some mornings he’ll have some apple and carrot sauce or down a bottle of chocolate milk for added nutrients.  Usually I give him Organic Silver Dollar Pancakes from Trader Joe’s which I just heat up in the microwave or in a pan on the stove. On lazy mornings when we’re not rushing out the door I like to make him these nutritious homemade pancakes.


Adding the oat flour to the egg/fruit mixture


1/2 cup oat flour (I grind rolled oats in the blender first)

3 eggs

5 oz. applesauce

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 banana

1 apple (cored, skinned, and sliced)

2/3 c. flour


Grind up rolled oats in a blender and pour into a bowl.  In the blender add apple, banana, eggs, and applesauce.  Blend.  In a bowl or using a stand alone mixer mix oat flour, flour, and baking powder. Pour in and mix egg and fruit mixture to form a batter.

Using a tablespoon spoon the batter into a warm pan with coconut oil or butter and fry until golden.  Flip over and fry on the other side.  Serve with honey or fruit.

What I really like about this recipe is that you can add a variety of fruits and veggies in.  Zucchini, bananas, crushed pineapple, pumpkin puree, pureed beans, and carrot sauce can all be mixed in and give nutrition to a simple breakfast food!

Garbanzo Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies 

garbanzo bean cookies

I have not been quiet about the fact that my Ben is a picky eater.  He’s a total carbaholic, he eats tofu, and that’s about it.  Getting fruits and veggies into him can be a struggle.  One way I do manage to get veggies in him is baked goods.  I have tried black bean brownie, garbanzo bean cupcakes, and pumpkin loaf made from scratch with shredded carrots.  I find myself baking him healthy treats each week and he seems to love them!

This past week it was Garbanzo Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies. They come out soft, and I do refrigerate them to be on the safe side because they have a lot of egg.  When I need one or two I pop them in the oven or microwave quickly.

These cookies are high in protein as they have 3 sources of protein: eggs, peanut butter, and garbanzo beans.  They’re actually a healthy indulgence for me as I’m trying to lose the last bit of baby weight.


1 can of garbanzo beans rinsed

3 eggs

1 cup of flour

1 cup of coconut sugar

2 tbs. creamy peanut butter

1/2 tsp. baking powder

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend.  Using a tablespoon spoon not a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in a 350 oven for 10 minutes.  Cool after you take them out and enjoy!

I’ll share some pins below of tried and tested hidden veggie recipes.  It’s amazing how much like the real thing they taste and it’s reassuring that my boys are getting some good nutrition with their treats!

Easy homemade banana zucchini bread, perfect for freezing! Toast a slice and add a pat of butter for an amazing after school snack.:


Chocolate Chip Zucchini Banana Muffins - a perfect use for overripe bananas and a great way to sneak some veggies into your child's diet. They're picky toddler approved too!:

These delicious dark chocolate flourless brownie muffins will satisfy your sweet tooth without sabotaging your diet. And they're gluten-free! Click through to get the recipe and find out what the secret ingredient is. // desserts // healthy recipes // cheat clean // gluten free // Beachbody //

Bananas Foster Protein Shake with Trader Joe’s Bourbon Vanilla 

bananas foster
I’ve gotten really into lifting heavy weights lately. I’m finding that it’s making the most difference in shedding my baby weight.  Of course any weightlifting routine means an increase in protein, which can be problematic if you’re a vegetarian like myself. This shake is not only high in protein and vegan.  It’s the perfect pre-workout shake!


In a blender combine:

1.5 tsp. Trader Joe’s Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract


1 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 scoop Trader Joe’s Vanilla Protein Powder

2 bananas

Blend it up and enjoy either before or after a hard workout!  I added a packet of Stevia to my shake because I have a sweet tooth, but it’s not necessary.  The Bourbon Vanilla tastes amazing in cookies and I used it in Adam’s Birthday cake icing.  It’s good stuff!