Chicken Out

Let’s face it: chickens have it rough. Many people trying to eat healthier switch from beef to chicken, unfamiliar with the horrors of chicken factory farming. Chickens raised for meat are bred to grow very large very fast and thus live short lives, many dropping dead of heart attacks, their organs unable to keep up with the pressures of their overgrown bodies. On top of that, many trying to eat healthy don’t realize that chicken meat still contains cholesterol and saturated fat.

The great news is there are loads of delicious foods we can nosh on sans chicken that offer the flavors we love. Here’s a favorite recipe, plus a list of some of my favorite chicken-free meats.

Napa Valley Chicken-Free Salad

Serve this chicken-free salad on a bed of greens or sandwiched between whole wheat bread for a delicious, filling meal. It’s ideal for a picnic or an easy workweek lunch.

Time: 10 minutes


1 9-ounce package chicken-free strips, like Beyond Meat Lightly Seasoned Strips, Tofurky Slow Roasted Chick’n, diced into small pieces

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1 celery stalk, diced

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions or chives

1/2 cup halved seedless red grapes

1/2 cup egg-free mayonnaise, like Just Mayo

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped

1 teaspoon poppy seeds, optional


Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until combined well. Best chilled for at least an hour.

To serve, layer your favorite sandwich bread with lettuce and chicken-free salad or serve on a bed of greens.

Five of my Favorite Chicken-Free Plant-Based Meats

  1. Gardein: delicious breaded Chipotle Lime Crispy Tenders are a delicious kid-friendly choice.
  2. Tofurky: Slow Roasted Chick’n is a perfect ingredient in your favorite dishes.
  3. Beyond Meat: Lightly seasoned strips have a tiny bit of spice, but absorb your seasonings whether you’re making fajitas or chicken noodle soup.
  4. Simple Truth Crispy Tenders: Available at Kroger or Ralph’s these chicken-free finders are crispy, yummy, and easy to prepare. Have some BBQ sauce on hand to dunk away!
  5. Boca Spicy Chick’n Patties: You can find these bad boys in most grocery stores. Warm up, stack on a bun and pile with your favorite toppings for a simple meal.

Luscious Lemon Chia Pudding

Talk about a breakfast treat: this protein-rich easy breakfast will get your day off to a bright start. As a bonus, it’s ready in just 5 minutes!

Serves 1

Time: 5 minutes to prepare; should be refrigerated for at least 4 hours before enjoying


1 cup soy, almond, or coconut milk
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon lemon
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon turmeric, optional


In a bowl or mason jar, combine all ingredients. Stir well, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Mix it up: Add a tablespoon of jam or toss in a handful of blueberries to the top and stir in before you enjoy.

Very Berry Scones

These flaky, yet soft scones are perfect for impressing friends with a fancy brunch or tea party, or a bring-along breakfast for a road trip. The lemon complements the berries adding a hint of citrus. You can freeze the dough and bake later for a quick, yet decadent weekday breakfast.

Makes 6-8 scones

Time: 35 minutes, 15 minutes active


1 cup white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup dairy-free margarine, like Earth Balance

3/4 cup plain unsweetened soy or almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

If using frozen berries, thaw them in warm water and strain well.

In a large bowl, mix together both flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Separate margarine into 6 pieces and add to flour mixture using a fork or pastry cutter to cut in until margarine is evenly distributed, with no pieces larger than a pea.

Combine soy or almond milk, vanilla or lemon extract, and zest and pour into dry mixture. Stir until dough comes together. Add berries and gently fold into the dough. Some berries may get squashed and add a hint of purple—that’s okay.

Once dough is thoroughly mix with berries, place on a lightly floured surface, and flatten to about 3/4 of an inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or the mouth of a tumbler, cut into 6-8 scones. You may need to reform the dough into a ball and press out again to make all the scones. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with additional sugar, optionally. Bake for 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Pro-Tip: You can substitute berries with your favorite fruit. Or go crazy and use chocolate chips. If you do that, use the vanilla extract rather than the lemon.

This recipe appears in my book, MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live — One Meal at a Time, published by Da Capo Press, 2017.

Summer Peach Cobbler

Photo: Michelle Cehn

This easy dessert takes me back to my childhood summers at grandma’s house. Buttery and decadent, you won’t believe how simple it is. While peaches are my go-to cobbler filling, you could swap them out for apples and cinnamon, blueberries, blackberries, or even pitted sour cherries. This recipe appears in my book, MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live — One Meal at a Time, published by Da Capo Press, 2017.

Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes; 15 minutes active


8 tablespoons (1 stick) dairy-free margarine, like Earth Balance, melted

1 cup all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup unsweetened plain soy or almond milk

2 cups fresh sliced peaches (you can use frozen, thawed peaches, or fresh or thawed, frozen berries, apples, etc. if you prefer)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I generally put my margarine in a large casserole dish and stick it in the oven while preheating to melt.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add soy or almond milk and mix together with a whisk.

Carefully remove your casserole from the oven and pour the batter over the melted margarine. Pour fruit over the mixture.

Bake for one hour until the top is golden brown and the crust has risen over the fruit. Best when served warm (with a scoop of vanilla dairy-free ice cream).

Noodles With Peanut Sauce | Easy Recipe

This is a go-to recipe in my house for when I’m in a hurry to make dinner, but want a meal that’ll fill me up and also provide plenty of nutrients. Nutty peanut butter and salty soy sauce combine with a little sweetness plus hot sauce for an explosion of flavor. Packed with protein and ridiculously easy, this dish is a hit with kids for the taste and with parents for its ease. Adjust spice as your family likes it.


Golden Country Biscuits and Gravy

I grew up in the South. Biscuits and gravy were one of my grandmother’s specialties (among many) and a wonderful comforting Sunday breakfast. This easy recipe will become one of your family’s favorites too.

Make 6 biscuits

Time: 30 minutes

Biscuit ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
1 cup soy or almond milk


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine all dry ingredients then using a fork or pastry cutter, cut in margarine until crumbly and pieces are no larger than a pea. Add soy or almond milk and stir until mixture is just thoroughly combined and all dry ingredients are mixed in, being careful not to overwork dough.

Transfer dough to a floured surface, and pat out dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or tumbler, cut out 6 biscuits and place on a nonstick baking sheet. You may need to reform dough and press out again to make all the biscuits.

Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are golden brown. While the biscuits are in the oven, make the gravy.

Gravy Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon dried powdered sage (optional)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, more to taste
2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt if using unsalted vegetable broth
1/2 package meatless sausage crumbles (optional)


In a large skillet, toast flour and nutritional yeast in olive oil on medium heat for 2 minutes or until it starts to brown. Lower heat and slowly add broth, using a fork to crush any lumps that may form. Add pepper, and sage, salt, and crumbles, if using. Return heat to medium until gravy begins to bubble and thicken. Allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Place biscuits on plates and spoon gravy over them.

Delicious Deli Reuben

The sauce in this delicious reuben is so easy you won’t believe it. And it’s so delicious you’ll want to put it on all of your sandwiches.

Serves 4
Time: 20 minutes active, 1.5 hours to allow time to marinate (or see pro-tip for a 10-minute version)


1 package tempeh
1/4 cup dill pickle juice
1/8 cup soy sauce or tamari
1/2 red onion, cut into half-moons
8 slices sandwich bread, or 4 wraps, your choice

1/4 cup egg-free mayonnaise, like Just Mayo
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons pickle relish

Sauerkraut, to taste
Dairy-free cheese, optional


Make the marinade: combine the pickle juice and soy sauce or tamari. Slice the tempeh lengthwise and place into a shallow container. Pour marinade over and allow to soak for 30 minutes to an hour. The longer the better.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, and relish in a small bowl and stir until fully combined.

Make the tempeh: After your tempeh has sufficiently marinated, add water to a pan to cover the bottom. Steam fry the onion in the water until translucent. Add the tempeh and the marinade and cook for ten minutes, flipping occasionally and adding small amount to ensure it doesn’t stick.

Assemble the reubens: Spread 1/4 of the spread on 4 slices of bread sandwich or wrap, add cheese, if using, and sauerkraut then the tempeh. Toast in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Pro-tip: If you’re short on time or just don’t like cooking, skip the tempeh and the marinade (pickle juice, tamari, and onions) and pile a sandwich high with your favorite plant-based deli slices, i.e. Tofurky or Field Roast. You can enjoy this delicious classic sandwich in a fraction of the time.

Hearty Lentil Soup

This hearty lentil soup is quick and easy enough for a weeknight meal or makes a perfect Sunday night meal paired with some homemade cornbread.

Serves 2-4 (2 large bowls, 4 cups)
Time: 35 minutes


1/4 cup water
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, diced
1 can of diced tomatoes
4 cups of water, plus one cube vegetable bouillon or 4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (or fresh vegetables)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 cup dried brown or green lentils
salt or pepper to taste


Warm the water in a large pot over medium heat and add the onion to steam until softened and turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, potatoes. Cook for one minute, stirring, so the garlic doesn’t brown. Pour in the remaining ingredients. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Souper Easy Split Pea Soup

Baby, it’s cold outside. This gusty day was calling for some soup to warm our house up. This split pea soup is packed with goodness and easy-peasy. Dry peas are a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and protein. And according to the US Dry Pea & Lentil Council, they’re only about $.07 per serving compared to chicken which is about $.67 per serving. So dig in!

Serves 4
Time: 10 minutes active, 1-1/2 hours cook time


1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups split peas
2 medium potatoes, cubed
3 carrots, sliced
6 cups of water or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
6 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 1/4 cup of your stock or broth and onion. Steam sautee onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and steam for another 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir periodically. The soup may foam, which is normal when cooking with split peas. Stir and lower heat slightly if this happens. Continue simmering until peas are  tender, about 1-1/2 hour.

Remove the bay leaf and serve. Or, if you prefer a smooth soup, transfer to a blender or using a stick blender, pulse until smooth. Return to pot and heat until hot, adding more water if necessary.