Rasta Pasta Salad


January 12, 2014 By

Happy New Year, everyone! I officially went vegan on January 1, 2013, so here’s to 1 full year of veganism!

Pasta salad is an easy go-to for anyone. It’s perfect for big groups and entertaining. You can arrive with a vegan pasta salad to an event and no one will bat an eye. It’s a wonderful “clear the fridge” dish, too, as it is so versatile. Every time I make pasta salad, different veggies go into it, depending on what’s chilling (literally and figuratively) in my fridge.

For a long time, I was going through a trial-and-error period with my pasta salad recipe, particularly the dressing. In the past, I’ve tried to make the dressing from scratch, but something always went wrong. Too lemony. Too tart. Way too much balsamic. Too creamy. Too salty. Too bland. For someone who loves pasta salad so much, I couldn’t seem to get it right. It was a dark place.

Then, my sister and I decided to cook it together one day, and it was PERFECT. Who knew that the answer to my pasta problems was someone so close to home?

Cooking with others is so fun. I always come out of it feeling like I’ve learned something new. So here is the product of collaboration and deliciousness.

Oh yeah, and the Rastafarian thing? This is definitely not an authentic Rastafarian dish by any means. It’s only based on the matching flag colors. 😉


Rasta Pasta Salad

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes



Pasta Dressing:

  • 8 tbs EVOO
  • 1 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar (In a pinch, any vinegar will do, really. I used Apple Cider.)
  • 2 heaping tsp Veganaise (or as I like to call it, “goops.” Two goops of Veganaise.)
  • 2-3 tbs Agave Nectar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Quinoa Pasta (gluten-free deliciousness; so much better than any GF pasta out there)
  • 1-2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup of carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1/2 can, or 7.5 ounces, chickpeas
  • salt/pepper as garnish



STEP 1: Cook the pasta.

Start boiling that water and get the pasta started! When your pasta is finished cooking, strain it and run it under cold water. Pasta salad shouldn’t be hot, so cooling off your pasta right after cooking keeps it cool and firm. Set aside or place in the fridge if you are still working on the meal.

Mmm… I love the Garden Pagodas!

Mmm… I love the Garden Pagodas!



STEP 2: Create the magic sauce!

There’s a science behind the sauce, so don’t throw in everything at once and mix.

In a bowl, mix the olive oil and balsamic first. Whisk it quickly for about 30 seconds. This will allow the two opposing ingredients to blend. Add the Veganaise next and whisk, but not like a crazy person this time. Just normal whisking. After that, you may add the other pasta sauce ingredients in any manner you’d like.



STEP 3: Chop up those veggies!



STEP 4: Mix all ingredients.

The fun part! Get a great, big bowl and mix the pasta, pasta sauce, veggies, and chickpeas all together! Add more salt and pepper as needed.







Extra pepper on mine, please!







Happy cooking,



Colombian Burger Wrap


October 25, 2013 By

Since becoming a vegan, I haven’t looked back… much.

As much as I love being vegan, there are a few things that I miss. (The smell of) fried chicken. Cheese. And most of all, Junior Colombian Burger.

Oh, you don’t know Junior Colombian Burger? That’s because it’s a local Orlando, FL favorite. Starting off as a food truck, it upgraded to a tiny, hole-in-the-wall location across the street from Universal Studios. Because of its local popularity, it now has 3 locations in Orlando. Most recently, its location near UCF made its grand opening just two days ago.

A friend of mine posted a picture of it on Instagram, and ever since, I’ve been thinking about Junior Colombian Burger. I’ve missed it so. Not enough to throw out my vegan beliefs, but enough to do some burger research as to how to veganize it and make it my own.

What sets Junior Colombian Burger apart from its competitors? It contains the usual suspects of a patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, and mayo, but stands out with its potato chip crumbles, garlic sauce, pink sauce, and pineapple sauce. Trust me when I say that these things make THE PERFECT BURGER.

I asked myself: “Why do I have to miss out on this grand opening, huh? Why can’t I make my own vegan Colombian Burger?” Hence, the vegan Colombian Burger Wrap was born!

This is by far the best vegan burger of all time. I’m that confident. Don’t let the ingredients list scare you; it’s mostly sauce ingredients, which makes it seem less overwhelming. I invite you to open your mind up a little bit and give it a try. It has more than 20 different flavors to create the perfect tangy spin on a classically delicious dish.


Columbian Burger Wrap

Prep Time: 30 minutes (can be done during cook time)

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 8 wraps



Basic Ingredients:

  • wraps
  • potato chips
  • ketchup
  • toppings: tomato, leafy greens, onion

Burger Patty Ingredients:

  • 1-15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 C cooked brown rice (1/2 cup dried with 1/2 cup water)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8-1/4 C gluten-free bread crumbs

Garlic Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs Veganaise
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbs fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • agave nectar, as needed

Pink Sauce Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons salsa
  • 1 tablespoon vegan sour cream

Pineapple Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup crushed pineapple + juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger (fresh)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or Tamari for a gluten free option
  • 1/4 cup water


STEP 1: Cook the brown rice.

Brown rice takes forever to cook, so start that now. Use the package ingredients to guide you.


STEP 2: Hand-mash the black beans.

While the brown rice is cooking, hand-mash the black beans. I like my patties to have a lumpy texture, not a mushy one, so go easy on the mashing. In other words, don’t think of something you hate (like the traffic you had to battle on the way home) while you mash these black beans.



STEP 3: Food process the onion and garlic.

Place the onion and garlic in the food processor. Again, same mentality with this as the black beans; we want some texture, so don’t ground the poor onions to a pulpy soup. Give them a quick spin and they’ll be read to be placed on top of the black beans.DSC_0006


STEP 4: Mix all patty ingredients.

Place the food processed onion/garlic mix on top of the black beans, along with breadcrumbs, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir it all together with the cooked brown rice. Stir together, form into patties, and sprinkle  salt & pepper on top of them.

Put them on the grill and cook until they’re a deep golden brown. I like them crispy on the outside, being that the inside will be a bit mushier.



STEP 5: Make your sauces.

Whenever you’ve got some spare time (either by cooking the black beans or grilling the patties), start making your sauces!


Garlic sauce, the teacher’s pet.


Pink sauce… the laid back, go-with-the-flow one.


Pineapple Sauce, the stubborn, yet unique, one.

With the pineapple sauce, put half of the sauce in a blender. Put the rest of the sauce in a saucepan. Once the sauce has been blended, add the blended sauce to the saucepan, mix, and put on low heat for about 5 minutes.



STEP 6: Build.

Get your toppings prepared and build your masterpiece!









Here’s the icing on the cake. DO NOT forget this crucial step.



Put it all together and whadda ya got?




Enjoy my favorite burger ever!


Happy cooking,

This Vegan Girl Logo


Gluten-Free Balsamic Veggie Wrap


July 12, 2013 By

Members of the gluten-free community get the crap end of the stick sometimes.

At Publix in Florida, they sell Goodbye Gluten wraps (not vegan, so I don’t eat them, but he enjoys them.)  Here in Mississippi, Matt and I spend quite a good chunk of time searching for gluten-free wraps at our local grocery store. We were really disappointed when we didn’t end up finding what we were looking for.

You know, sometimes, people in the GF community don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen creating things that “normal” people find 20 varieties of in the grocery store, like GF wraps. If I’m feeling especially lazy that day, shouldn’t I have at least one option that I can just fall back on? It’s very frustrating sometimes.

With this recipe, we ended up settling with Corn Tortillas. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, as I wanted something bigger and with a more flour-y taste, but at least we had something.


Despite the initial dilemma, these ended up tasting amazing. It tasted like sweet, sweet summer! The flavors blended nicely. These would be perfect for a picnic lunch, or perhaps a light dinner.


Gluten-Free Balsamic Veggie Wrap

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

Yield: 2-4 servings


Wrap Ingredients:

  • 1 package of your favorite tortillas
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 peach
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatos, quartered
  • 1/2 cup edamame
  • 1 handful of natural almonds, halved
  • 1 handful of kale, chopped
  • vegan cream cheese (optional)


Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs balsamic glaze
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt


STEP 1: Begin by boiling your edamame. No exact measurements here. I just boiled some water and threw a couple handfuls of edamame in there. Boil for 3 minutes, drain, and set aside.



STEP 2: Cut up all your fruits, veggies, and nuts!



STEP 3: Create your balsamic glaze and whisk it up!


STEP 4: If you’re using corn tortillas like I did, start a non-greased skillet on the stove with medium-high heat. Throw on your corn tortilla for 10 seconds on the first side, flip, and 5 seconds on the second side. Don’t get cocky with this or you’re tortilla will get burnt!

But don’t worry, there’s 50 more tortillas in the bag anyway, so play around with it and see what works for you and your stove.

Quick as a snake, swift as a deer.

Quick as a snake, swift as a deer.



Good tortilla!


BAD tortilla!

BAD tortilla!


STEP 4: Begin building your masterpiece! If you’re looking for a more wholesome wrap, leave off the cream cheese. However, if you don’t mind splurging a bit, the cream cheese is an lovely addition.


Without cream cheese:








With cream cheese:


Double Trouble! (glued with cream cheese)

Double Trouble! (glued with cream cheese)









If you love the pet pics, here’s one I got while I was making my wraps. This is Nala, my roommates’ Rottweiler puppy. It’s so difficult to get a picture of this fiesty, wiggly girl, but here she is!


“I can’t have a wrap?” 🙁



Happy cooking!




Chickpea Salad Sandwich


July 3, 2013 By

Ever since turning vegan, there are certain foods that I find myself gravitating toward time and time again. For me, that food is the chickpea. Can we agree that chickpeas are the #1 vegan food?


I find myself using chickpeas to create a multitude of substitutions. Whether mashed, cooked, or raw, these beans are something I can always count on for good texture.


I don’t know about you, but every now and again, I find myself craving a salad sandwich. You know, egg salad or tuna salad.  It’s not an every day craving, but its one I have maybe about once every 2 months or so. Well, leave it to chickpeas – once again – to save the day in a time of a vegan craving crisis.


Here’s my take on a chickpea salad sandwich. It’s gluten-free, so Celiacs can use GF bread or GF crackers to make this thing happen for them, too.



Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Yield: 3-4 sandwiches

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes



  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained, washed, and patted dry
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 5 petite pickles, thinly sliced
  • 8 baby carrots, thinly sliced
  • ¼ – ½ sweet or white onion, diced
  • ¼ cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup Veganaise*
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • ½ of a lemon, squeezed for juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • dash of sweetener (if using Veganaise, in order to really make those flavors pop!)
  • fresh spinach (optional)
  • your favorite vegan and/or gluten free bread (make sure it’s thick… this sandwich can get heavy!)



*SIDE NOTE: I’m visiting my boyfriend in Mississippi, and there was NO Veganaise to be found at the local grocery store! If you are in this predicament as well, I substituted So Delicious Coconut Milk Plain yogurt. It’s a bit on the sweet side, so I used lots of tart spices in the yogurt to even out the taste.





STEP 1: Have a really cute animal nearby to help you out and brighten your spirit.




Peeking-around-the-corner boy!

This is my baby Fleegle. He’s a one year-old cockatiel, and he’s my sunshine. He injured his little foot recently, so that’s why his foot is sticking up like that :(. Don’t worry though; with the help of my vet, Fleegle is on the road to recovery!



STEP 2: Cut chickpeas in half.


You see why you need an animal to brighten your spirits? It’s because cutting these little chickpeas is tedious and annoying. A whole chickpea is a bit thick, so cutting them in half really helps to spread that taste throughout. This step alone takes about 10 minutes, but I promise you it’s worth it!

STEP 3: Cut up the rest of your vegetables.





STEP 4: Using the spices and vegan mayo, create your Veganaise mixture. Sample the mixture throughout and cater to your own personal taste!




STEP 5: Mix everything together.




STEP 6: Place some fresh spinach at the bottom of one of your bread slices. Then, scoop some chickpea salad and place it on top of the spinach layer. Finally, top of your sandwich with your other bread slice.











MMMMMM! Perfect for summer and outdoor adventures!


Happy cooking!



Rainbow Salad


July 1, 2013 By

Quinoa/wild rice bowls are kind of a go-to for my boyfriend and I, as I’m sure it is for most vegans. There are many benefits in preparing a salad like this: it’s either a chance for you to show off your creative side (the possibilities are endless), or you have a ton of random fruits & vegetables that you need to use before they begin to rot.


For me, the best thing about a quinoa/wild rice bowl/salad is that I try to make it as nutritious as possible. When I cook for others, I often get complaints that I incorporate TOO MUCH vegetables, but for this dish, it’s perfectly acceptable.


One day, I was making a quinoa salad, and I noticed all of the nutritious colors in my bowl. I said, “Hey, it’s like a rainbow in here!” Thus, the Rainbow Salad* was born.


*Disclaimer: You may call it the Rainbow Bowl, but you sort of sound like a toddler that hasn’t quite learned to say his/her R’s yet.



The Rainbow Salad is basically at least one representation of every color of the rainbow, plus black & white (optional). For me, it’s ideal for me to incorporate every color into my day, and this salad makes it easy to do. This salad is extremely nutritious, and it’s difficult to fathom how many combinations you can create.



Below, I have offered my favorite options to throw into a Rainbow Salad. You will see that lots of common & nutritious fruits and vegetables are not seen here. It’s a personal preference; it’s difficult for me to imagine putting certain fruits/veggies in a salad in combination with all of the other colors:


  • red: red bell pepper, tomato, pomegranate seeds, strawberries
  • orange: carrot, orange bell pepper, orange tomato, mangoes, tangerine, oranges, apricot, walnuts
  • yellow: garbanzo beans, pineapple, golden apples, yellow peppers, corn
  • green: asparagus, avocado, celery, edamame, broccoli, kale, kiwi, spinach
  • blue: blueberries, blue grapes
  • violet: organic raisins, grapes, red onions, plums
  • white: quinoa, tofu, onion, mushroom, shallot, white beans
  • black: black beans, black quinoa, wild rice, black flax seed




Rainbow Salad

  • red: 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • orange: 1 mango
  • yellow: 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans (will become roasted)
  • green: 1 avocado
  • blue: ½ cup blueberries
  • violet: ½ red onion
  • white: 1 cup quinoa


For Vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, microplaned or finely minced
  • dash of sweetener (agave nectar, stevia, organic sugar)
  • salt & pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil OR
  • your favorite salad dressing!



STEP 1: Preheat oven to 400° F. Place garbanzo beans on a pan, dry them off with a paper towel, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Move your fingers on top of the beans to mix the olive oil all the way through. Throw in the oven for 45-60 minutes.








Halfway through cooking time, take out the beans, shake the pan around to move the beans, and place it back into the oven.


Halfway there!



The result is a crunchy bean that is a great addition to the Rainbow Salad. It’s like a gluten-free crouton!


Mmm mm mm mm mm… crunchy!




STEP 2: While the chickpeas are roasting, begin cutting up all your vegetables and placing them into a giant serving bowl.


Waiting patiently… Patient Fruit. Get it? Sucky joke? Okay, I’ll shut up now.




STEP 3: Create your vinaigrette in a small bowl on the side and mix well.


If you got lazy like I did, get a yummy, tangy salad dressing and wait to add it on until the end. I took a chance with this Mango Poppy dressing, and it’s delicious in this salad!


Mango Poppy, ya’ll!



STEP 4: With about 20 minutes left on the chickpeas, start making your quinoa. Place 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa into a small sauce pan. When it hits boiling point, cover the sauce pan, turn down the temp to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.




STEP 5: When everything is finished, place quinoa, roasted chickpeas, and vinaigrette into the bowl. Stir up and enjoy! (Enjoy hot or cold!)


Did anyone else notice that perfect Green Bay Packers symbol on that blueberry? It’s quinoa and it’s perfect.


Happy cooking!






P.S. Here are some other Rainbow Salad combinations in the past that I’ve enjoyed:


Wild Rainbow Salad

red: 1 red bell pepper

orange: 1 cup orange grape tomatoes, halved

yellow: 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans (will become roasted)

green: 1 cup edamame

blue: ½ cup blueberries

violet: ½ cup organic raisins

black & white: 1 cup wild rice blend


Rice Prep (this will become part of your vinaigrette later, since brown rice can be a bit watery)

Replace water with:

1 ¾ cup vegetable broth

2 tbs Earth Balance

lemon zest

salt & pepper to taste


Remaining Wild Rainbow Salad vinaigrette

2 garlic cloves, microplaned or finely minced

dash of sweetener (agave nectar, stevia, organic sugar)

salt & pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of hot sauce (optional)





Mexican Rainbow Salad

red: 1 red bell pepper

orange: 1 orange bell pepper

yellow: 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans (will become roasted), drizzle with hot sauce

green: 1 avocado

blue: ½ cup blue grapes or blueberries

violet: ½ red onion

white: 1 cup quinoa

black: 1 15oz can of black beans


For Mexican Salad Vinaigrette:

¼ cup lime juice

2 garlic cloves, microplaned or finely minced

dash of sweetener (agave nectar, stevia, organic sugar)

salt & pepper

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of hot sauce (optional)





Sweet Rainbow Salad

red: 1 cup strawberries, sliced

orange: ½ cup walnuts

yellow: 1 cup corn

green: 1 cup kale

blue: ½ cup blue grapes or blueberries

violet: ½ red onion

white: 1 cup quinoa

black: 1 15oz can of black beans


For Sweet Rainbow Vinaigrette:

¼ cup lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, microplaned or finely minced

dash of sweetener (agave nectar, stevia, organic sugar)

salt & pepper

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil