As the popularity of healthy cooking continues, more recipes are focusing on the importance of making vegetables the star of the recipe. Vegan cooking is becoming a popular way of putting the focus of the meal back on the vegetables. Sous Chef Bryan Nader from Mercy Health Saint Mary's shares some great vegan recipes.

Pesto Spaghetti Squash


1 medium spaghetti squash
1 large bunch cilantro

2/3 cup slivered almonds

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

½ tsp. lemon zest

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup vegetable broth

¼ tsp. kosher salt


1.      Preheat the oven to 375°F, and coat a rimmed baking pan with 2 tsp. canola oil, or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2.      Cut squash in half length-wise and scoop out seeds. Place squash cut side down on the prepared baking pan and use a fork to prick the outside of the squash a few times. Bake squash for about 45 minutes, or until tender but not mushy.

3.      While the squash is baking, place cilantro, almonds, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, vegetable broth and salt in a blender and process until smooth, and set aside.

4.      Remove squash from the oven, and using a fork, scrape the flesh out into a large bowl, and top with pesto. Stir mixture together and serve.


Sweet Glazed Root Vegetables


1lb. parsnips, chopped into chunks

1lb. sweet potatoes, chopped into chunks

1lb. potatoes, chopped into chunks

½ of a red onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/3 cup apple cider

1/3 cup sweet white wine.


1.      Preheat oven to 425°F

2.      In a large bowl toss together vegetables, olive oil, salt and thyme.

3.      In a baking dish combine cider and wine. Pour vegetable mixture into baking dish and stir to coat the veggies with the wine mixture.

4.      Bake veggies, for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are golden, and most of the liquid has evaporated.


Skillet Beer Chili Mac


1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 Tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. smoked paprika

¼ tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 (15oz) can tomato sauce

1 cup beer

3 cups vegetable broth

3 cups macaroni pasta

3 cups, assorted beans (black, pinto, red)

1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp. lime juice


1.      In a large stock pot heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onion until it begins to golden, about 5 minutes, stir in carrot and bell pepper, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Fold in chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato sauce, beer, and vegetable broth and bring mixture just a boil, reduce heat to simmer and stir in pasta.

2.      Cook pasta for 9-10 minutes or until al dente. Remove from heat and stir in beans, maple syrup and lime juice.

3.      Garnish with chopped avocado and cilantro.


Sweet Potato Al Pastor


½ white onion, chopped

1 cup diced pineapple

¼ cup lime juice

3 Tbsp. mild chili powder

2 tsp. liquid smoke

2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. dried oregano

2 Tbsp. olive oil

8oz. temph, cut into thin 1" strips

3 cups sweet potato, peeled and shredded

2 Tbsp. soy sauce


1.      In a blender combine onion, pineapple, lime juice, chili powder, liquid smoke, paprika, cumin and oregano, process until smooth.

2.      In a large non-stick skillet heat oil, over medium heat, add in temph and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in sweet potatoes and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Pour in sauce mixture and soy sauce, cook until heated through.

3.      Warm tortillas and spoon in sweet potato mixture and garnish with cilantro, red onion, and pineapple.


Chocolate Chip Cookies


2 ¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup banana puree or strained applesauce

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

¾ cup chopped dark chocolate


1.      In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. In a separate bowl whisk together both sugars, fruit puree, oil and vanilla extract. Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate.

2.      Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and refrigerate cookie dough for at least 30 minutes.

3.      While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 350 °F

4.      Scoop dough into golf ball size pieces and flatten slightly. Place cookies on a parchment lined baking tray. Repeat until all the dough is used

5.      Bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly on the pan and then remove cookies to wire rack.