Baked Sweet Potatoes with Broccoli and Teriyaki Tempeh

sweet-potatoes and broccoli with teriyaki tempeh

I asked my sister the other day what she would like to see more of on the blog, and she said: simple supper options. So, in that spirit, here we go!

The original recipe inspiration for this came from Vegetarian Times magazine. I’m a huge library user and I love going in and finding that the new issue of VT is available. They have a lot of neat vegan and plant-based recipes, and such beautiful photographs!

sweet-potatoes and broccoli with teriyaki tempeh

I feel like I’m going through a bit of recipe fatigue at the moment. Maybe it’s because I have a cold (I’m not sure what I feel like eating) or because I made soup and it was too hot and I burned off all my taste buds (making me sometimes not sure what I actually AM eating). So between the two, I mostly feel like eating the soup I made for lunch, and then again for supper, because, well, there’s a lot of it. And then I don’t have to think too much.

Speaking of, this cold is relatively minor, but still a blow to my ego. I like to think I am cultivating the ferrari of immune systems, and when I get a cold IN SEPTEMBER I suddenly think, geez louise. Ferrari? Not in your dreams, lady.

sweet-potatoes and broccoli with teriyaki tempeh

Then again, colds are a reminder of exactly that – our immune systems are a bit compromised. Maybe it means you’re working too hard; not resting enough; not eating the best foods for your body; not getting enough gentle, restorative exercise (like walking in this beautiful fresh air!).

Which brings us back to this supper. It’s simple, nourishing, a great balance of sweet and salty and umami, a beautiful visual feast of green and orange, and pretty easy for your body to handle, from a digestion standpoint.

So maybe I should say, thank you cold! For pointing me in the direction of some healing foods, for making me take a moment to look at where I’m not giving my body what it needs, and for reminding me, yet again, that being healthy really is the best feeling and the best gift.

sweet-potatoes and broccoli with teriyaki tempeh

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Steamed Broccoli and Teriyaki Tempeh

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: plant-based, nut-free, gluten-free (if you use a gluten-free soy sauce), grain-free


  • one head of broccoli
  • one pkg tempeh
  • 4 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • one large onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, coconut oil, or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt/himalayan pink salt/sacred salts
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon your favourite dijon mustard


  1. To marinate tempeh: in a medium glass bowl, whisk together tamari, maple syrup, and mustard. Slice tempeh into cubes and shake around in your marinade. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Slice sweet potatoes into long wedges and place on baking tray.
  4. Slice onion into rounds and scatter artistically over sweet potatoes.
  5. Drizzle oil over sweet potatoes/onions and sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft and onions smell amazing.
  7. While the potatoes are cooking, gently steam/boil (steaming is preferred, but you might be like me and not currently be in possession of a steamer) broccoli in or over boiling water until close to tender and a brighter green colour. Drain and keep warm.
  8. In the last few minutes of your potatoes baking, place tempeh on a baking sheet and throw in the oven, baking until lightly browned.
  9. Arrange sweet potatoes, broccoli, and tempeh your plate, and drizzle with a little leftover marinade, if desired.
  10. Enjoy!

l© Backyard Owl

Autumn Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Crust (v, gf)

sweet potato pie with pecan crust.Well, it’s almost Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. The weather is crisp, the leaves are changing, and I’m getting ready with a vegan and gluten-free Sweet Potato Pie. For all of us Autumn-ites, Thanksgiving is one of (if not THE) most beloved holidays.

Of course, every holiday typically gathers family and friends to eat delicious, seasonal, special food, but Thanksgiving is extra special because it takes place in the Fall, which makes the whole thing that much better.

I also personally love Thanksgiving because I like the idea of taking time to celebrate and give thanks for all that we have – it’s a nice idea, isn’t? Taking time to reflect on all the goodness we have in our lives or spending a moment being thankful for whatever is good. No gifts required – just a simple celebration of the season.

sweet potato pie with pecan crust

And what is more seasonal than a pie made of sweet potatoes? This little gem is very easy to make and is vegan, gluten-free, and naturally-sweetened. The crust is chickpea flour and pecans; the filling is organic canned sweet potato, coconut milk, spices, maple syrup, and some natural thickeners.

Not bad, right?

The recipe is from one of my absolute favourite cookbooks, Clean Food by Terry Walters. If you are interested in clean eating, this cookbook must be part of your arsenal.

sweet potato pie with pecan crust

So, even if it isn’t Thanksgiving where you are reading this, or you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, or you plan to celebrate your Thanksgiving another weekend, consider whipping up this pie regardless. The autumn spices are rich and flavourful and the pecans add delicious nuttiness, and together, the whole thing is just a wonderful celebration of the absolute best season.

Enjoy! Oh, and if you’re looking for some whip topping, try with whipped coconut cream.

Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Crust

  • Author: Clean Food by Terry Walters, with tweaks by Backyard Owl – my tweaked version is printed below
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, naturally-sweetened, soy-free



  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt or pink salt


  • 1 (398 mL) can pureed organic sweet potato (look for a BPA-free liner)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup + 2 tablespoons (reserved)
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or pink salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon agar powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Whirl pecans in a food processor until finely ground.
  3. Scoop pecans into a bowl, and add chickpea flour, stirring until combined.
  4. Add maple syrup, coconut oil, and sea salt and mix until dough is moist.
  5. Press dough into a pie pan (I did not grease the pan, as the dough seemed to have enough natural oil), and don’t forget to press up the edges of the pan as well.
  6. Bake crust for 12 minutes and let slightly cool while preparing filling.
  7. In a large bowl, mix together canned sweet potato puree, coconut milk, vanilla, salt, spices, cornstarch, and agar. Mix well.
  8. Scoop filling into prepared crust, smooth, and return to oven. Bake for 50 minutes to 60 minutes (or perhaps longer, depending on your oven) until the top of the filling looks firm and slightly browned. Note that this filling will firm up as the pie cools.
  9. Serve warm, or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  10. Before serving, drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup (the pie itself isn’t overly sweet, so this gives it a little flavour boost).

© 2014 Backyard Owl

Sweet Potato and Kale Salad with Barley, Dried Cranberries, and Smoked Tofu

sweet potato kale salad with smoked tofu

Roasted sweet potatoes, kale, cooked hulled barley, smoked tofu, and dried cranberries, with an olive oil/apple cider vinegar dressing. If that doesn’t sound like the supper equivalent of wrapping yourself in a plaid blanket and watching the leaves change, I don’t know what would.

This salad is easy, comes together quickly, makes a bunch, lasts a while, and tastes really good. It packs nicely in a lunch or re-heats well for a supper. It’s a perfect recipe to have in your arsenal for those occasions you need something delicious that will cover you for the week ahead, and you want your choice to be guaranteed delicious. Like reading an old favourite book, this grain salad will not disappoint.

sweet potato and kale salad with smoked tofu2

This recipe is based on a recipe I came across in a copy of Alive magazine, sometime in yesteryear. Some recipes just jump out at me as ones I would very much like to make, and the original recipe was no exception. You’ll see that the original recipe calls for a great many more things that my pared down version – with time and repeated iterations, my version has become its own creation.

I love this dish too because it strikes the right balance of protein, vegetables, and long-lasting carbs. When I have this for lunch, I can avoid the mid-afternoon slump and just power on through. When you work in an office, this kind of lunch is a god-send, because falling asleep at your computer is generally frowned upon the workplace (or so I’ve been told).

But before we conclude and get to the recipe itself, let’s take a moment to talk about smoked tofu. I’m able to find organic smoked tofu at my local Metro grocery store, and I used to be able to buy it at my local independent grocer in Toronto. That being said, I don’t think it is the MOST available form of tofu, so if you can’t find it, I would recommend substituting chickpeas. God bless it, but regular tofu just does not cut it here.

sweet potato and kale salad with barley and dried cranberries

Sweet Potato and Kale Salad with Barley, Dried Cranberries, and Smoked Tofu

  • Author: Backyard Owl (view the recipe that was the inspiration for my version: Oat and Sweet Potato Salad):
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, option for gluten-free, high fibre


  • 3 large sweet potatoes, diced (unpeeled if organic; peeled if not organic)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup hulled barley
  • 2 cups chopped kale (which is probably 4 to 6 big leaves)
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 pkg (about 210g) organic smoked tofu, diced into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • for seasoning: ground black pepper, smoked paprika, additional sea salt (if required)


  1. Cook barley: bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil and add barley. Cook for about 25 minutes or until water is fully or almost absorbed and barley is soft and chewy.
  2. Roast sweet potatoes: preheat oven to 425 F. Toss diced sweet potatoes with olive oil and sea salt, and roast until tender and slightly crisped, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly.
  3. Prepare salad: in a large bowl, stir together cooked barley, dried cranberries, chopped kale, smoked tofu, and still warm sweet potatoes
  4. In a glass bowl, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup. Toss over salad ingredients, and finish with black pepper and smoked paprika, if desired.
  5. Enjoy! Note that this salad keeps well in the fridge, but is best served warmed.

© 2014 Backyard Owl

Vegan Sweet Potato and Quinoa Chili

IMG_0913Last week I wrote about goals and resolutions and thinking about the question: how do I want to feel? Perhaps some of your answers included feelings like energized, healthy, vital, balanced, or grounded. If that’s the case, and even if that isn’t the case, here is a simple delicious recipe to get you started on your path to feeling any and all of the above. Packed with sweet potatoes, quinoa, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and onions, this chili is a one-pot superfoods meal that is pleasing to the tastebuds, easy to put together, versatile, and an excellent return for your kitchen time investment: you put in an hour, you get fed for two weeks. So think of this as a way to sneak a few extra positive feelings into your life and your lunch.

IMG_0889The basic facts you need to know are these:

  1. Does this chili take a fair amount of chopping and dicing? Yes.
  2. Does this chili make a huge amount? Yes.
  3. Does this chili freeze well? Yes.
  4. Does this chili taste great? Yes.
  5. Can you put whatever you want in this chili? Oh you betcha. I know I did!

And for those of you who like to know a little about the foods in your meals, so you can imagine their powerful fortifying and health supporting effects on the way down (I can’t be the only one!), here is a quick summary:

  • Mushrooms: full of beta glucans (immune-boosting compounds) that have anti-tumor and white blood cell supporting properties. Also rich in selenium, zinc, and copper (oh my!);
  • Carrots: Vitamin A (beta carotene), fibre, antioxidants;
  • Quinoa: gluten-free, high in very digestible complete protein, fibre, B vitamins;
  • Tomatoes: Vitamin C, beta carotene, key minerals, and lycopene (the carotenoid pigment that gives tomatoes their colour), which is more accessible to your body in cooked tomatoes, and helps prevent certain cancers, protect your heart and eyes, and support skin collagen;
  • Sweet Potatoes: calcium, chromium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A (beta carotene), and B vitamins;
  • Onions: anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant compounds, and powerful immune-system boosters;
  • Beans: fibre, protein, B vitamins, antioxidants (in the black beans).

Vegan Sweet Potato and Quinoa Chili

Note: while I’ve supplied the basic quantities I used, I really think you could put almost anything you want in here – you might just have to add more/less tomatoes/broth if you add significantly more/less vegetables.

  • 14 oz can black beans (drained and rinsed well)
  • 14 oz can pinto beans (drained and rinsed well)
  • 14 oz can red kidney beans (drained and rinsed well)
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or water and vegetable bouillon – approximately 4 cups water plus one cube)
  • 1 large onion, diced      IMG_0892edited
  • 1 to 2 cups, fresh or frozen corn
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms (roughly 1 – 1 1/2 cups chopped)
  • 2 lb bag carrots, diced
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, chopped into small cubes (and peeled if not organic)
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • avocado, for garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium low heat.
  2. Add onions, and cook until soft and browning (about 8-10 minutes).
  3. Add the mushrooms and spices and stir for a minute or two until all are coated.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, dry quinoa, chopped carrots, diced sweet potatoes, and vegetable broth.
  5. Stir, and simmer for about 25 minutes or until quinoa is cooked, and carrots and sweet potatoes are almost soft.
  6. Add beans, corn, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cocoa powder, and continue cooking until vegetables are tender and chili is the thickness of your liking (feel free to add some water if it is getting too thick).
  7. Garnish with avocado and enjoy!