Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup - The Vegan Rhino X Sunflower Family USA

Italian Wedding Soup - The Vegan Rhino X Sunflower Family USA

Italian Wedding Soup has always been one of my favorite soups, especially growing up as a kid. Thanks to Sunflower Family USA, I’m able to re create some awesome meatless meatballs using their sunflower haché. It’s packed with protein and a great alternative to tofu, tempeh, or seitan. This is one of the best Italian wedding soups I’ve had, and I’m here to tell you how easy it truly is to make this soup. It may just  be your new favorite thing to make!

Italian Wedding Soup - The Vegan Rhino X Sunflower Family USA

Yield 54


3 (16 oz.) vegetable broth 12 c

2-1/4 cups chopped escarole

1 cup Acini de pepe or pearl couscous


1 box Sunflower Haché

1 small onion, grated

2 Tbsp. avocado oil

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp. Egg Replacer + 4 Tbsp. filtered water, mixed

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp. Vitacost Himalayan Fine Pink Salt

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 Tbsp. Nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat air fryer or oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, soak the haché according to the box instructions. Combine the onion, parsley, egg replacer, garlic cloves, salt, breadcrumbs, and nutritional yeast. Using a teaspoon, shape the mixture into 1-inch round “meatballs”; Set aside.
  3. In a large pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil on medium-high heat. Add the acini de pepe, and escarole; Simmer on medium for 10 minutes, or until al dente.
  4. Cook meatballs for 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown.
  5. Serve soup with meatballs added at the last minute.


Chef’s tip: Do not cook the meatballs in the soup or it will fall apart.

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna
Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

If you are looking for a classic lasagna recipe, then give this plant-based version a try! Each New Year, we would always have a lasagna at the dinner table, amongst other things.Being able to re-create a favorite meal, that my aunt used to make, is truly special. This plant-based mushroom and spinach lasagna is packed with flavor, protein, and nutrients our bodies need and can easily consume. Although making lasagna may take a little bit of prep and cleanup, it is totally worth the creation. From the homemade ricotta to the oh so yummy mushroom mixture of onion, spinach, garlic and tons of cheese, you will surely impress your guests and family with this recipe.

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Yields 4-6 servings


12 lasagna sheets, cooked

1 (8 oz.) baby Bella mushrooms, diced

4 cups spinach

2 Tbsp. hemp seeds

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1-1/4 cup lentils, cooked

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

5-6 cups pasta sauce

1/2 tsp. Vitacost Himalayan Fine Pink Salt

1/2 cup Follow Your Heart Parmesan Cheese

1 Tbsp. avocado oil

Ricotta Cheese:

2 cups cashews, soaked overnight

4 Tbsp. filtered water

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. basil, chopped

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

Pinch of Vitacost Himalayan Fine Pink Salt


Ricotta Cheese:

  1. In a blender, combine cashews, water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and salt. Blend for 1-2 minutes using your stick, until smooth consistency is achieved.
  2. Add the chopped basil to the mixture and stir in. Set aside. 


  1. In a pot, cook the lasagna pasta according to the box instructions. Drain and individually lay pasta sheets out to avoid sticking together or tearing.
  2. In a frying pan on medium-high heat, add onions, mushrooms, garlic and sauté for 4-6 minutes. Add the spinach and cooked lentils, and stir until spinach has wilted. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. On the bottom of your casserole dish, put 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom. Add the lasagna sheet in an even layer, followed by 1/3 of the following: homemade ricotta cheese, mushroom mixture, hemp seeds, basil, more sauce, and topped with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Repeat layers and top with remaining Parmesan cheese and ricotta. Cover with foil and make sure it does not touch the cheese to prevent sticking.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes and remove the foil. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until bubbling and brown on top.
  7. Serve with side salad.

Chef’s tip: Allow lasagna to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. 

Walnut-Pesto Pasta

Walnut-Pesto Pasta
Walnut-Pesto Pasta

This aromatic and simple walnut-pesto goes great on any pasta you choose! Whether its bow ties or penne, it’s simply delicious. When you make your own, with fresh basil and mint, there is something about the flavor and and feeling of doing it on your own, that doesn’t compare to any store bought version. To make this, just clean the leafs, add some oil, walnuts (a few other ingredients), and you are on your way to a delicious and versatile sauce that you can use for pasta’s, salad’s, sandwiches, are more!

Walnut-Pesto Pasta

Yields 3-4 servings


2 cups fresh basil

1/4 cup fresh mint

1/2 avocado

1/4 cup walnuts

2-3 Tbsp. avocado oil

1/4 cup nutritional yeast 

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. Vitacost Himalayan Pink Fine Salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1 box pasta of choice

salt, for boiling


  1. In your food processor, combine all ingredients until well mixed.
  2. Cook pasta according to box directions. When finished cooking, drain and stir in pesto sauce.
  3. Serve with vegan parmesan cheese and parsley.

Chef’s tip: Feel free to go with pine nuts for a more classic spin.

Parmesan Chickpea Cutlets

Photo Cred: Ivy Becker

I’m a sucker for authentic Italian food. Pretty much any combo of sauce, cheese and some sort of breading used to be my go-to. Going vegan certainly doesn’t change this. All it takes are a few alternate ingredients to duplicate any classic Italian dish. I created the following recipe to vegan-ize my favorite one of all! These chickpea cutlets come together super quickly and taste great when smothered in homemade tomato sauce with cashew “Parmesan” (or your preferred dairy-free cheese!). Be sure to pile your serving platter high because your family will devour this delicious, cruelty-free take on typical Parm.

Yields 4 cutlets


1 cups Vitacost Garbanzo Beans, soaked and drained

1 cup Lundberg Organic California White Basmati Rice

1 Tbsp. Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer Gluten Free + 2 Tbsp. Water, mixed together

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley + extra for garnish

1 small clove garlic

1/4 tsp. Simply Organic Thyme

1 tsp. Simply Organic Oregano

1 tsp. Frontier Co-Op organic Poultry Seasoning

1/4 cup Edward & Sons organic Panko Breadcrumbs

1 cup plain almond milk

1 cup King Arthur Flour Organic Unbleached All Purpose Flour

2 cups tomato sauce

2 cups vegan Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. Vitacost Himalayan Fine Pink Salt

1/2 tsp. Spicely Organics ground black pepper

Photo Cred: Ivy Becker


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In food processor, pulse chickpeas, white rice and egg mixture until well combined.
  3. Mix in poultry seasoning, parsley, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
  4. Form dough-like mixture into flattened patty-shape discs.
  5. Bread chickpea cutlet first by dipping into almond milk, then into the flour, then back into the almond milk, and finally into the bread crumbs.
  6. Place breaded cutlets onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Chef’s tip: For easier breading, place formed cutlets into the freezer to harden.

Eggplant “Meatballs”

Eggplant "Meatballs"


The best meatless “meatballs” recipe, that is made out of farmed fresh ingredients, is here. Italian food like this is normally made with large amounts of cheese and meat. But not these ones guys! Having a dinner like this  brings back so many good memories. In the process of making this recipe, I was able to reminisce in flavors that I remember as a child with my grandmother’s cooking. Those ladies sure know how to cook! Being able to create something that is 100% fresh and plant-based but still taste like a meatball is molto bene in my book!


Yields 10 medium 


1 eggplant, peeled

1 cup cooked TruRoots Organic Sprouted Green Lentils

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small yellow onion

1 tsp. fresh thyme 

1 tsp. Simply Organic Oregano

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley

2 Tbsp. fresh basil 

1/2 cup Edward & Sons Organic Panko Breadcrumbs 

1/4 cup Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning

1 tsp. Vitacost Himalayan Fine Pink Salt

1/2 tsp Spicely Organics ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Begin by chopping both the eggplant and onion and placing onto a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled. Roast for 15 minutes or before it browns, once the liquid has been released.
  3. In a food processor- take your cooked lentils, eggplant and onion mixture, and garlic and pulse until mixed and smooth. Pour mixture into a mixing bowl. 
  4. Add your thyme, oregano, parsley, and basil, breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and mix to combine. If mixture is moist, add more breadcrumbs. Allow mixture to set in fridge for 15 minutes. 
  5. Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls and place and light oiled pan. You will bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown. Turning every so often to get all sides crispy. 
  6. Remove from the oven and serve with favorite sauce. 

Chefs tip: You can add 1/2 cup vegan parmesan cheese to the mixture before rolling into balls.

Italian Sausage and Peppers

Photo Cred: Jermaine Bullard

This easy sausage and peppers recipe will be the new house favorite at dinner. This classic meal is hearty and can be made several ways. You can either serve this in a hoagie Italian-style with your tomato sauce or you could place the sausage and peppers over white rice and serve with the sauce on top. Either way, the choice is going to leave your belly full and your mouth smiling.

Photo Cred: Jermaine Bullard

Yields 4 servings


Vegan Sausage:

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten

4 oz tofu firm, drained but not pressed

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 tsp Simply Organic oregano

2 tsp. Simply Organic fennel seeds, optional

1 Tbsp. fresh basil

1 tsp liquid smoke

1 Tbsp. Vitacost Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp Vitacost Himalayan Fine Pink Salt

1/2 tsp Spicely Organics ground black pepper

1 cup authentic homemade italian tomato sauce

Peppers and Onions:

1 medium red bell pepper

1 medium green bell pepper

1 large yellow onion

1 garlic cloves

1/2 cup authentic homemade italian tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp Simply Organic oregano

2 Tbsp. Vitacost Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

pinch Vitacost Himalayan Fine Pink Salt

pinch of Spicely Organics ground black pepper


Peppers and Onions:

  1. In a frying pan, drizzle olive oil and place your thick onion slices (do not cube) and sauté for 5 minutes.
  2. Then add the peppers,  salt, pepper, and oregano. Allow to slightly brown, 10-15 minutes. Add garlic and cook for additional 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

Vegan Sausage:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse all ingredients until dough like mixture has formed and is well combined.
  3. Using parchment paper, cut into 4 squares depending on how large or small you want to make the sausage links. Grab some of the mixture and roll it into the shape and wrap it up in the parchment paper (twisting the ends to seal).
  4. Bake sausages for 20-25 minutes.
  5. To crisp up the outside, drizzle of olive oil to coat a pan. Turn on medium-high heat and pan fry sausage for 3-5 minutes.
  6. To assemble, place the peppers and onions in a hoagie with the sausage on top. Drizzle some homemade sauce on top and add some parsley or vegan parmesan cheese.

Chef’s tip: You can rub a clove of garlic on the bread and smear with vegan butter. Top with parmesan cheese and bake at 375 degrees F to get it nice and crispy!

Baked Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Ahoy there, matey! These spaghetti squash boats are a staple dish in my weekly meal prep. The reason being because they are extremely universal in how you can create them. Here, we have a baked lasagna, using my homemade tomato sauce and some other freshly picked veggies from Bedner’s. One of my favorite things about making these dishes is that its always a 2-for-1 deal. You get to make the spaghetti squash boats and then later use the seeds for granola, roasting, or even gardening!

Yields 2 servings


1 large spaghetti squash

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup cooked TruRoots Organic Sprouted Green Lentils

2 cups homemade tomato sauce

4 cups of baby spinach (2 handfuls)

4 oz. baby bella mushrooms

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 tsp Simply Organic Thyme Leaf

1 tsp. fresh basil, chopped

1 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp Vitacost Himalayan Pink Salt

1 tsp Spicely Organics Ground Black Pepper



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove and transfer seeds to paper towel or cloth to dry. Scoop out slimy flesh.
  3. Transfer squash halves onto pan—inside facing up. Lightly drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes or until tender.
  4. Meanwhile sauté garlic, mushrooms and onions in pan to make the filling. Mix in spinach to wilt. Add cooked lentils and continue stirring.
  5. When ready, use fork to scrape down the spaghetti squash to create “noodles.” Transfer to separate bowl and set aside.
  6. Pour sauce into the wells of each squash boat followed by the “noodles.” Then layer on lentil mixture. Repeat until boats are filled—ending with a layer of “noodles.” Optional: Sprinkle nutritional yeast and/or vegan mozzarella on top.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until top is golden and sauce starts to bubble. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh basil and parsley. Serve immediately.


Chef’s tip: Top layers with vegan cheese if you would like or you can use nutritional yeast.

Authentic Homemade Italian Tomato Sauce

Before I realized how easy it is to make my own mouthwatering pasta sauce, I opted for store-bought varieties. The downside to pre-made sauces is that they’re often tainted with preservatives to maintain longer shelf lives—no thanks! Now, I use homegrown tomatoes from my garden (or local farm when necessary!). With organic, fresh and local ingredients, it’s easier than ever to sneak in some added nutrients (think fresh herbs such as thyme and basil!). Italian lover? This sauce is the perfect addition to pizza, lasagna and beyond!

Photo Cred: Jermaine Bullard


10 medium tomatoes, cut into quarters 

3 cloves of garlic, smashed 

1 small white onion, chopped roughly

1 Tbsp. Simply Organic Oregano

1/4 cup  fresh basil leaves 

1 1/2 tsp. Simply Organic Thyme Leaf

1 tsp Vitacost Himalayan Pink Salt- Fine

1 tsp Spicely Organics Black Peppercorns Tin

3 quarts water



  1. In medium saucepan, heat tomatoes, garlic and onion. Fill with water 2-in. below brim of pot.
  2. Add oregano, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to boil on high heat. Boil for 10 minutes until tomatoes and onions soften.
  3. With hand immersion or blender, combine until everything is broken up. Pour back into pot and bring back to a boil.
  4. After boiling, reduce to simmer for 3 hours. Once time has elapsed and you’ve reached desired thickness, remove from heat and let cool. Serve immediately or can sauce for longer shelf life.

To learn how to can the sauce you have just made, click here.


Chef’s tip: Great for Pizza, Spaghetti, and lasagna! Fresh and homemade is a much better choice than store bought.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Photo Cred: Ivy Becker

Savory sun-dried tomatoes are great to have on hand for making homemade sauces, dips and spreads. But in order to have them, you have to buy them. If you’re familiar with my blog, you know by now that I’m not a fan of store-bought, preservative-packed items. That said, I’ve come up with a fool-proof recipe to make them (and store them) at home! Plus, when stored in a pretty jar, the deep-red dried tomatoes you’re left with double as gifts you can share with family and friends for special occasions. I’m a huge fan of canning and after trying this recipe you will be too. This process naturally gives your food a longer shelf life as they marinade in organic spices and seasonings—yum! Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is! Let’s get cooking.

Photo Cred: Ivy Becker

Yields 16 oz


10 plum tomatoes, dehydrated*

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 large sprig rosemary, cut into 4 pieces

10 basil leaves

16 oz. La Tourangelle 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 tsp. Spicely Organics Thyme Whole Tin

1/4 tsp. Simply Organic Basil

1/4 tsp. Simply Organic Oregano

Pinch Vitacost Fine Himalayan Pink Salt

Pinch Spicely Organics Ground Pepper Black


  1. Wash and slice plum tomatoes into evenly cut 1/4-in. disks and place onto dehydrator tray or baking sheet. Sprinkle tomato slices with salt and oregano (make sure to season each side).
  2. Set dehydrator to 95 degrees F. Insert tomatoes and cook 4-5 hours, depending on how thick you cut the tomatoes. Monitor tomatoes to ensure they do not get too hard–you want them to have a slight bend in them still.
    • *To dehydrate in oven, cook tomatoes on baking or roasting pan at lowest temperature for 10-15 minutes, watching closely to ensure they do not brown.
  3. Once tomatoes are finished, stack into a mason jar with garlic, rosemary, thyme and basil. Fill jar with olive oil. Set on counter for up to 4 days or place in refrigerator for up to a week.


Chef’s tip: Smash garlic before you slice it. This will help release more flavor into the sun-dried tomatoes.