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Colombian Breakfast Arepas

8 Sep

I’ve never been to Colombia…  YET.  But I have many Colombian friends who boast the deliciousness of their native cooking – Rubén, Andrew, Karina, Enrique, and my good friend, Dolly.  Whenever we visit our Yoga Center in Queens, she always wants to please our Guruji, and all of us who visit, with many of her Colombian favorite recipes.

Lately, she’s been making us her Colombian Arepas.   These arepas are made with yellow cornmeal and topped with your favorite veggie mixture.  We are busy yogis, so Dolly uses frozen pre-made arepas from La Venezolana, but there are many good brands out there.  Try to pick a brand that’s as natural as possible, with the least preservatives.

Here, I will share the recipe for the delicious topping…

Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking


4 corn arepas – the refrigerated kind

6 large white mushrooms, chopped finely

1/4 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped finely

1 yellow onion, chopped

½ red bell pepper, chopped

½ yellow bell pepper, chopped

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 tbs garlic and herb butter or use vegan butter if you prefer

2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbs soy sauce

¼ cup wáter, if necessary to make a sauce

1 cup vegan shredded cheese – I used Trader’s Joe’s vegan cheddar/monterrey jack mix

Vegan mayonnaise

2 tbs Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. To thaw the arepas, place them in a 350F oven in a baking sheet covered with parchment paper… or place them on top of a griddle.  The oven is helpful because it can fit as many arepas as you want.  This recipe is good enough for 4 arepas, but it’s easily doubled if you need more for your crowd.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle a little bit of olive oil to the garlic/herb butter.  Add the mushrooms
  3. and toss them to coat them with the oil and butter.  Spread them out in the skillet so they can get browned.  Resist the urge to move them around.  Wait until the mushrooms start to give off the smell of a cooked steak…  I know…  I know…  but you’ll remember me when the smell hits your nose.  You might want to turn on the smoke extractor in your kitchen for this one…
  4. When you’re ready to move the mushrooms again, add the onions and peppers.  Season with salt and pepper and toss the whole contents of skillet so the onions and peppers cook.
  5. The arepas should be warm now in the oven… take them out, spread a generous schmear of vegan mayo and place about ¼ cup of shredded vegan cheese on top of each arepa.  Place back in the oven for a few minutes for the cheese to melt thoroughly.
  6. After a few minutes reduce the heat to medium, add the tomatoes and season with the thyme leaves.  After about 1-2 minutes, add the vinegar and soy sauce to start to create a sauce.  If the tomatoes do not give out too much liquid, add a little water to create a sauce.
  7. As soon as the cheese is melted and the mushrooms, onion, tomato mixture is cooked, you can assemble…  Place one arepa with melted cheese onto a plate and cover with a healthy helping, about ¼ of the mushroom mixture over it.  Serve alongside a simple green salad on the side.


I’ve had this dish originally as a hearty breakfast/brunch item… but I have also made it as a light dinner option.   Add a few slices of avocado, and you’ll be golden.  It’s easy to make and super filling.  Hope you enjoy ittoo…

Avocado Toasts

31 Aug

This is a breakfast inspired by a delicious treat we had last month while traveling in NYC.  We had breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, a great French-style bakery/restaurant chain found in many cities in the US.   We were going to see the “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and needed to make some time before the museum actually opened at 10AM.

China as seen by the fashion and movie industries.

We had only had some fruits and we were hungry…   so we ordered steel-cut oatmeal and Avocado Toasts with Kale and Cumin Salt, a seasonal option for breakfast and lunch at the restaurant.    To be honest, I’ve had better versions of the steel-cut oats from LPQ before, but the Avocado Toasts stole the show!!   I don’t know if it was the awesome gluten-free bread they were made in… or the interesting combination of the kale and cumin salt, but we were blown by the deliciousness of these toasts.  I even had to Instagram-it they were sooo good.

Le Pain Quotidien - Avocado Toasts

These days, I have such an abundance of avocados that I decided to have some for breakfast the other day…  I made it my own by exchanging the cumin salt for garlic salt and adding alfalfa sprouts instead of kale.

Avocado Toasts - KFC


2 slices of bread – I prefer whole grain or gluten-free versions

½ avocado – sliced

Vegan Mayonnaise

Dijon or Stone Ground mustard

Alfalfa Sprouts

Garlic Salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil


I make this just like at Le Pain Quotidiene, open-faced.  But you can pile it all up, make it portable and eat it like a traditional 2 slice sandwich… it’s up to you.

  1. Toast the bread to your liking.
  2. Spread a generous amount of vegan mayo and mustard.
  3. Arrange the avocado slices, in shingle like manner.  Season with a light sprinkling of garlic salt.
  4. Pile the alfalfa sprouts.  Drizzle a small stream of olive oil.  Season with a light sprinkle of garlic salt again.

Fruit Smoothie with Fresh Baby Spinach

14 May

This was the smoothie recipe we shared at the 3rd KarmaFree Cooking Class recently.  I just wanted to share with the class how easy it is to add nutrition to a fruit smoothie by adding fresh spinach.  The green flecks might be a bit strange, but the vegetable flavor is masked with the sweetness of the banana and berries.

If you prefer not to see any green flecks at all, you can try my Stealth Shake which has darker berries and the spinach is completely masked.

Also, you can boost the power of your smoothie by adding chia seeds, flaxseeds, maca all together or any of them individually.


Breakfast Smoothie for Mom


1 banana
4 strawberries
A handful of fresh baby spinach leaves
½ cup plain yogurt or kefir
1 cup passion fruit juice
A squirt of honey or agave nectar
1 tbs ground flaxseeds
1 tbs chia seeds
1 tbs maca powder
3 ice cubes


  1. Blend all the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Serve ice cold.

Double Mustard Roasted Potatoes

12 May

These are an updated version of my Mustard Roasted Potatoes… double the magic, double the fun with two times the mustard.  Dijon and Grain Mustard are my absolute favorite mustards and they make a zesty potato, worthy of celebrating the Moms in your life.

Great with a Tofu Scramble filled with tomatoes, peppers, onions and grape tomatoes.  Super colorful, super tasty and great vegetable-based protein too.


Double Mustard Roasted Potatoes


2lbs red-skinned potatoes, cut in fourths
3 tbs Dijon mustard
3 tbs whole grain mustard
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbs Italian Seasonings
Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
2 tbs Olive Oil and a little more to grease the baking sheet


  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the mustards, garlic, Italian Seasonings, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Double Mustard Potatoes - INgredients

3.  Add the cut-up potatoes to the bowl and toss to coat the potatoes well with the mustard mixture.

Double Mustard Roasted Potatoes

4.  Transfer the potatoes to an oiled baking dish, making sure the potatoes are in one single layer.

5.  Roast for 40-45 minutes until the potatoes are cooked thru, tender on the inside and crispy and golden on the outside.

Double Mustard  Roasted Potatoes

Tofu Scramble

7 May

This was one of the main dishes we created for our 3rd KarmaFree Cooking class recently.  We were super excited because we got picked up by the local newspaper El Nuevo Día and we received tons of calls from people interested. We hosted 7 students who are not vegetarian, but are very interested in following a more natural and meat-free diet.  I was thrilled!!

Angie is the expert among us making tofu scramble…  but I made sure the ingredients were colorful, vibrant and easy to find in any supermarket.


Tofu Scramble and Potatoes 1



1 package of extra-firm tofu
1 vegetable bouillon cube with seas salt and herbs
½ red onion, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 package of fresh baby spinach
2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
Butter or Dairy-free alternative like Earth Balance
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
½ tsp turmeric


  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil, a pat of butter and add the onions and peppers to soften.  Add the bouillon cube too and dissolve it in the mixture.
  2. Drain the tofu as much as you can.  In a bowl, pat it with a few paper towels.  Mash the tofu and add to the onions and peppers in the skillet.  Miox it well so the tofu starts infusing itself with the flavors in the skillet.
  3. Season with black pepper and turmeric.  Mix well.
  4. Add the tomatoes and spinach to the mixture.  Mix it all well and cover for a few minutes so the spinach wilts .
  5. Uncover and raise the heat a bit so the liquid that most probably accumulated at the bottom can evaporate a bit.


Tofu Scramble with tomatoes, onions, peppers and fresh baby spinach.



Serve alongside these Double Mustard Roasted Potatoes and your favorite toast.


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