Trader Joe’s “7 for $30” Dinner #4 – Protein-Packed Tempeh Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing with a Twist

In preparing for this week’s challenge, we got a heads up that this recipe was the most incomplete. While we love the concept & approach of Spoon University’s recipes, there’s a lot being missed or confused. Nevertheless, we didn’t shy away from their Protein-Packed Kale Salad with Tempeh & Lemon Dressing. Instead, we made it work for us.

We were excited to have tempeh on our shopping list. However, we were taken aback when we saw a photo of the salad and the tempeh looked like it right out of the package. All we could say was “NOOOO” and some in our challenge group had declared they were going to cook their tempeh. Sadly, the recipe had a HUGE miss because the tempeh wasn’t even in the ingredient list. There were no instructions on how to cook it. 

We love tempeh and buy Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Grain weekly (it’s our favorite tempeh). Until we learn to make our own, that’s just how it is. With that said, we don’t recommend eating it right out of the package. It’s too bitter. So, unless bitter is your thing, don’t do it. (Next week, we’ll  have a post all about tempeh with some recipes – Check back!)


Now, onto how we made this salad. First of all, we steamed, sliced and sauteed the tempeh with salsa (Salsa wasn’t on the ingredient list. We added it). Of course, cooking the tempeh upped the recipe time by 20 minutes. We also modified the lemon dressing recipe by scaling back the oil to 1.5 tsp, upping the lemon to a full one and using a 1 tsp of agave. Rather than pouring the dressing on top of the salad, Carm massaged it into the kale. We included 1/2 can of chickpeas, added 1/2 of an avocado and left out the apple (which we figured would be an entire apple, chopped or cubed).  


The salad was delicious! We really liked the idea of it, especially when we didn’t want to be bothered to make anything elaborate. However, we were really frustrated by the recipe, because it really was just kale and ingredients to make the recipe, which we found was enough for 2 servings, not just 1. Also, the optional ingredients weren’t on the shopping list and more were in the directions. Hence, we went with our own twist on the recipe. 

Some of our friends doing the challenge decided to use soy sauce and pan-fry their tempeh. That certainly is a good option. We went the salsa route and cut back the olive oil to stay closer to our 21 Day Fix eating plan. Really, you can do whatever you want with the tempeh to make it to your liking. In fact, we may try this again with a lime-cilantro dressing. How bad could that be?

What do you do when a recipe is not quite right? Tell us in the comments!

Check out last night’s dinner!

Trader Joe’s “7 for $30” Dinner #3 – The Farro Salad that Wasn’t

Did you know that we’re kitchen superheros???? NO?!?!?! Oh, well, we have to tell you about how we saved Dinner #3, Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Apple Farro Salad, in our 7 Vegan Meals for $30 from Trader Joe’s challenge from Spoon University!


We’ve been following the meal “plan” from Spoon University to make 7 vegan dinners from $30 of Trader Joe’s groceries. The first 2 dinners were FABULOUS! Tonight’s??? Well…we had a bit of a problem.

We were excited to have a dish that included farro. Farro is in the wheat family. It’s a whole grain that is usually made of spelt, emmer of einkorn (all hulled). We love having it in soups and salads. 

Our plan was to make the Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Apple Farro Salad. We actually were going to use barley instead, as we bought Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Barley. However, Carlo was feeling like having farro. We had some, but not a 10-minute variety and not from Trader Joe’s. The one we used required us to soak the farro overnight. Well, that resulted in a milky, lumpy hot mess. We could have just made barley, but our stomachs didn’t want to make the time investment of even 10 more minutes.

The recipe itself was simple. The ingredients were all listed (YEAH!) We could do without the farro since it only needed 1/3 of the noted ingredients. It seemed weird to cook so much to only use a 1/3 of it, but whatever. We’re getting used to Spoon University’s instructions not being clear. It doesn’t mean the dish won’t be good. 

We replaced the sweet potato with butternut squash, and the arugula with spinach. Honestly, this recipe didn’t need the farro. We got plenty with other ingredients. In fact, we both said the texture of the farro would have taken away from the dish. The apples were so nice with the squash and spinach for crunch that we didn’t miss the farro.


Now, being that we’re following 21 Day Fix, we eliminated the oil. We bumped up the lemon to the juice of 2 small ones. We also went with cumin and black pepper for spice. There was no added salt, but there was some avocado action!

We really liked this recipe and would probably have it again. Next time, we’ll be sure to use Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro!

See last night’s dinner, DIY Sofrita Bowl!

Come back and see how we approach the Protein-Packed Kale Salad With Tempeh and Lemon Dressing.

Trader Joe’s “7 for $30” Dinner #2 – DIY Sofrita Bowl

It’s Day 2 in our 7 Vegan Meals for $30 from Trader Joe’s challenge! That means, it’s time to share Dinner #2, the DIY Sofrita Bowl. Let me say that this was better than Chipotle! 


This recipe by Spoon University took about 10 minutes to make, but was a little involved having to make sofrita (tofu) and cilantro-lime rice. Then, all had to be assembled. However, it was plenty worth it to have a meal ready in such little time.


A couple of things to note in the recipe:

  • The recipe left out lime juice in the ingredient list. Since lime was on the shopping list, it was a good thing we had more limes available
  • There was no cook time for the tofu, salsa and optional black beans. We just cooked it until we figured it was done (5 minutes)
  • The recipe doesn’t call out that you’ll be making cilantro-lime rice, but it was understood, at least by us, in Step 3. We put the microwaved rice in a bowl and added the cilantro and lime juice
  • The recipe does give an option to make tacos (BONUS!)

Keeping in mind that we’re following 21 Day Fix, we really didn’t need to modify the recipe. We just left out added salt!

Compared to last night’s meal, the DIY Sofrita Bowl had the slight edge on flavor. It was also more filling. I actually pushed myself to finish this because it was way too good to leave leftovers! Carlo also loved this dish. It was the perfect meal to have after a workout! 


Another winner…just need the recipe to reflect ALL ingredients and steps.

Did you catch last night’s meal? See how we made Black Bean & Butternut Squash Tacos!

Trader Joe’s “7 for $30” Dinner #1 – Black Bean & Butternut Squash Tacos

Being vegan doesn’t mean being expensive.

If you read our recent “Trader Joe’s 5 for $20” challenge we did with Power to the Veg last month, you saw us make delicious dinners on a budget of $20. Following a recent Buzzfeed article by Spoon University, we purchased basic, mostly whole food ingredients and we made them stretch over five days. Well, these same fine folks have created another challenge to make a week’s worth of dinners for around $30. Of course, the #p2tv crew was up for it.

Locking ourselves into only buying what we needed for dinner, we stayed with what we already had to make breakfast, lunch and any snacks. Since we’ve been drinking Shakeology for one meal a day, it made things all the easier! Meal planning was a breeze with a shopping list already set

Another bonus is that just about all of these meals can be made in 15 minutes or less. Very little time to make some pretty delicious food to serve 2! Not bad when you spend 8-12 hours a day at work and trying to fit everything else into your day…like this blog post!


We got pretty close in the range of $30.00 to $31.50, but a couple of things to note:

  • Our Trader Joe’s location was out of taco seasoning mix. Apparently, they don’t restock them often, but when they do, they sell out quick
  • The corn tortillas were listed at $0.99, but they were $1.49 at our Trader Joe’s

All recipes we make will be modified for the 21 Day Fix eating plan! See, we can still have fun with food!! Let’s kick things off with tonight’s dinner of Black Bean & Butternut Squash Tacos!


These were absolutely delicious! They took no time to make, and were easy to modify without losing flavor. Carlo cooked the butternut squash and black beans in salsa versus oil. There was no added salt. We replaced the taco seasoning with chipotle powder, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. 

We realized that our avocado wasn’t ripe just yet. We went without it, and it wasn’t missed. The chopped tomato, fresh lime juice and cilantro added enough of that refreshing flavor and feeling. Yes, we did add a little hot sauce to the tacos, but that’s how we roll.

Using the corn tortillas was smart. The filling held up nicely and texture went well with everything. 

This recipe is really straightforward, really delicious and a welcome addition to our collection!

Give this a try! Let us know how else you’d use butternut squash and black beans, or tell us a tip on how you save on groceries!

Until tomorrow…when we make DIY Sofrita Bowls (or Tacos)



Trader Joe’s “5 for $20” Dinner #5: Vegetarian Noodle Stir-Fry

Fridays really should be a “no fuss” lead into the weekend. However, a lot of us don’t feel that “relief” into well into the day (usually at the 5 side of 9-to-5). So, it’s nice to come home, unwind and have a simple dinner cooked and ready in less than 20 minutes, like this Vegetarian Noodle Stir-Fry!

That’s totally what we did tonight! Carm worked from home today and took care of a sick Mozzer, while I had a rare 12-hour shift. Good thing that Spoon University put the Vegetarian Noodle Stir-Fry at the end of their dinner list. It really helped us ease into the weekend. 

The recipe is simple and 100% vegan (don’t let the “vegetarian” fool you). We used the listed veggies, but had to get an extra bell pepper. Good thing we also reserved some of the roasted carrots, as they fit in nicely. To stay 21 Day Fix-friendly, we cooked the remaining brown rice pasta, as the other half of the package was used on Monday. We also left out the salt and oil, while scaling back the tamari (in place of soy sauce). It hit the spot!


So, we’re officially at the end of our challenge with our family at Power to the Veg on Facebook (request to join). What did we learn? Some new recipes! What do we hope others learn? That being vegan doesn’t mean expensive! $20 can go a long way for many. 

We were also reminded that cooking together makes for great quality time. Carm says it helps to plan our meals too!

Carm said we’re going to of another challenge next month. This time it’s $30 for a week’s worth of dinners. Join us for that when it happens!

Catch up on the rest of the “5 for $20” meals we made this with our friends with the hashtag #p2tvtjs5for20 on Instagram!