Stop and Smell the Vegan Gravy

As the holidays approach, it is normal to get caught up in the anxiety and perfection that retailers emit. Remember to stop and smell the vegan gravy. The benefits of a plant-based diet and meditation quiet the mind. Although by reflection one is pushing out the noise while allowing the imagination to enter the psyche.

Mushroom Vegan Gravy Recipe

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of mushrooms chopped    

1/2 tsp. of salt

1/4 cup of flour      

2 cups of vegetable broth    

1/4 cup of any sweet red wine        

1 shallot finely chopped

1/2 tsp. of dry thyme  

1/2 tsp. of oregano          

2 cloves of garlic minced        

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat a wide pan over medium heat. Add olive oil to the pan. Then add the mushrooms and shallot. Sprinkle with salt, and let brown. Cook until mushrooms and shallots are well browned. Stir frequently for approximately 5 to 8 minutes.

Add flour and whisk. Cook until flour is no longer white and absorbs much of the juices. Usually takes about a minute.

Add wine and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add vegetable stock, garlic, thyme, and oregano. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Whisk until gravy mixture coats a spoon and sticks.  

When cooked take pan off burner and cover.



Inspiring a Vegan at ‘Crossroads’

Tal Ronnen is the owner and chef of Crossroads Kitchen, a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. Crossroads stands out among the many vegan restaurants because it is an elegant place to dine. A restaurant where one could take anyone to celebrate a special occasion without feeling as though they were eating from a plant-based menu. Most of the vegan restaurants market themselves as bohemian or garden fresh. Ronnen realized a niche in the market that was neglected and met that need. When one walks into Crossroads Kitchen, the atmosphere immediately sets the stage. One begins to indulge their senses from the white tablecloths to the intimate feeling of being pampered. The food is the star, and the artistry illuminates from the visual to the taste. When one visits Crossroads, they will understand that plant-based cooking is a creation. The delicacies at Crossroad Kitchen are refined and not just a bunch of sides. As unique as it is to dine at Crossroads, taking the time to create their dishes is not something one could accomplish without lots of experience. Nonetheless, it is like going to a museum and visualizing great works of art for the artist. The paintings, or in this case the food art is inspirational for my home cooking.

Cookbook available at Amazon and other book stores.

Laura’s Favorite Vegan Dish

Mushroom Lasagna

It warms my heart when I can share some of my favorite vegan recipes. Laura still talks about how delicious my mushroom lasagna tasted. Many of my recipes I create, but some are from different sites, books, etc. The mushroom lasagna recipe below came from Holy Cow Vegan Recipes by Vaishali. Her recipes are always amazing! This wild mushroom lasagna is perfect for a cold day or a main holiday dish. Be sure to check the ingredients in the pasta most are vegan but a few contain egg. Cuddle-up with some warm comfort food.

Vegan Wild Mushroom Lasagna
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
An elegant and delicious vegan Wild Mushroom Lasagna has an assortment of wild mushrooms layered with a creamy white bechamel sauce and jewel-green leeks. A vegan, soy-free recipe. Can be nut-free.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Soy-free, Vegan
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 241 kcal
Author: Vaishali
  • 9 sheets of oven-ready, no-boil lasagna
  • 1 1/2 cups dry wild mushrooms (Soak the dry mushrooms in 1 cup hot water for 30 minutes)
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 3 cups, chopped crimini or portobello mushrooms or a mix of both
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 leeks , cleaned of all grit and finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups cashew milk Almond milk would be fine, or use rice or soy or hemp milk for nut-free versions
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 14 oz vegan mozzarella shreds
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup vegan cashew parmesan (recipe Below)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet. Add half the garlic and as it begins to turn golden, add the oregano and the fresh mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, for five minutes or until the mushrooms start to brown. Drain the reconstituted mushrooms and add to the skillet. Reserve the mushroom stock. Add the wine.

  3. Continue cooking for another five minutes until the wine has evaporated, then add the leeks. Continue cooking another five minutes or until the leeks are just tender. Turn off the heat and set aside.

  4. Make the bechamel. In a saucepan, heat the remaining oil. Add the shallot and the remaining garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the shallots start to turn translucent. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until the flour begins to brown.

  5. Slowly, stir in the cashew milk, using a whisk to beat out any lumps of flour, until you have  smooth sauce. Add the reserved mushroom sauce. Add nutmeg, check seasoning and add more salt and ground black pepper if needed.

  6. Let the sauce come to a boil and thicken. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Turn off the heat. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the sauce and add the rest of it to the mushroom and leek mixture and stir well.

  7. Coat the bottom of a 12 X 8 inch baking pan with the reserved bechamel sauce. Layer lasagna noodles side by side on top. In the pan I used, three noodles fitted side by side in each layer.

  8. Pour one-third of the mushroom-leek mixture on top of the lasagna noodles in an even layer. Sprinkle on one-third of the vegan mozzarella

  9. Arrange three more noodles on top and again layer on one-third of the mushrooms and leeks and the mozzarella. Repeat one more time, and finish off by layering mushrooms and leeks, mozzarella, and the vegan parmesan on the top layer.

  10. Cover the lasagna pan with tinfoil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, take off the foil and let the lasagna cook another 15 minutes.

  11. Let the lasagna stand 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley before serving.

Recipe Notes

Recipe for vegan cashew parmesan

  • 1 cup raw cashews or cashew pieces
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp garlic powder (add less to begin with and add more if you like a greater kick to your parm)
  • 1 tsp oregano (doesn’t sound like it belongs in parm, I know, but it adds that extra something without screaming, I’m here!)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until powdered. Check the texture every few seconds to ensure it is where you want.


Nutrition info does not include vegan parmesan.

Nutrition Facts
Vegan Wild Mushroom Lasagna
Amount Per Serving
Calories 241Calories from Fat 79
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8.8g14%
Potassium 324mg9%
Total Carbohydrates 33.9g11%
Dietary Fiber 2.1g8%
Sugars 6.3g
Protein 5.7g11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The Creative Vegan


The vegan lifestyle will surround one with creative opportunities by finding delicious omnivore recipes and transforming them into plant-based creations. It takes some effort, but the results are exciting. The initial step is to get away from the myopic view of food. The object is to work in concert with nature by cooking food that is seasonal and keeping the flavors and taste from being repetitive. New and fresh ideas in recipes require some substitutions. The process is a continuation of finding new plant-based products while uncovering the hidden meat and dairy ingredients in processed foods. In the omnivore’s diet, it is rare to make a new food discovery. There is a sameness that invades the food landscape. When one comes upon something that is new and different in food, there is a sense of genuine exhilaration.

Here are a few essential substitutions:

Daiya Cheese Substitutes – Found in all grocery stores.

Gardein Meat Substitutes –

Miyoko’s Butter Substitute – Best price at Trader Joe’s. Highly recommend over Earth Balance which has unpleasant aftertaste even in baking.

Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer –

Sending you warm wishes on your journey.






A Vegan’s Perfect Storm


My perfect storm occurred, when my actions and awareness merged. Several things happened to me at approximately the same time. Six years ago, as I was eating my omelets, burgers, and a lot of cheese, I would have never imagined myself as a vegan. Today as I write, I am not only vegan but trying hard to find food that is free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). My journey began as part of a process to live a healthier life.

My adventure into the food world began at Southern Methodist University as a Master of Liberal Studies student. I had the privilege of attending a question and answer session with Michael Pollan. Pollan has written many books including The Omnivores Dilemma.  Michael Pollan is a guru on agriculture, gardening, and food on our plates. I am not a Nutritionist or biology major. I just wanted to live healthier, especially with all the cancer deaths in my family (mother, father, and sister). It was important for me to stop or prevent cancer in myself. I wanted to be around a while for my children and grandchildren. After listening to Pollan, my curiosity emerged as a passion. I started watching documentaries and read anything I could get my hands on about the food movement in the United States.

Today’s Tip:

“I personally chose to go vegan because I educated myself on factory farming and cruelty to animals, and I suddenly realized that what was on my plate were living things, with feelings. And I just couldn’t disconnect myself from it any longer.” -Ellen DeGeneres

A Vegan’s Choice

When acquaintances think of me, they think of my paintings or my poetry. Nonetheless, the most creative aspect of my life is a pure plant-based lifestyle. One may wonder how eating vegan can result in creativity. Studies on the plant-based lifestyle, including health benefits, caused me to go vegan six years ago and since then my creativity has flourished.

The vegan lifestyle is new historically as the word vegan was coined by an activist, Donald Watson in 1944. His frustration originated with the name “vegetarian” because the selection of food included forms of animal by-products such as dairy and eggs. The difference between vegans and vegetarians is that vegans do not eat eggs or dairy products.

Veganism is not only a dietary lifestyle but includes a nonviolence aspect to all living creatures. It is a philosophy of compassion that is in no way 100 percent pure because the world is too imperfect. A plant-based lifestyle is an attempt to make each choice from a place of sincerity and love.