The Kinder Kitchen

Veggie Nuggets With Quinoa and Brown Rice

What kid doesn’t love a nugget?  And what grown-up doesn’t feel the nostalgia of childhood when dunking a plateful of nuggets into their favorite dipping sauce? 

Of course, if you ask most people what comes to mind when they think about nuggets, they’ll likely say “chicken nuggets” from a fast-food restaurant.  Well, here in The Kinder Kitchen, our nuggets are made from veggies and grains, not living beings who don’t want to be your lunch!

The good news is, not only are there many vegan chicken-style nuggets available in stores that kids ADORE (our favorite brand is Gardein), there’s also a bazillion recipes floating around the interwebz for both meaty and more veggie-based nuggets.

You might be asking, “What makes YOUR recipe so special among those bazillions, Shannon?”

Well, I worked for awhile to come up with a veggie-packed recipe that was healthy, with no oils or other refined ingredients, that would hold together beautifully, bake up crispy in both the oven AND the air-fryer, taste awesome with a variety of dips and coatings, and of course my kids had to LOVE it! 

We sampled these veggie nuggets with ranch dressing, marinara, and my homemade vegan cheddar cheese sauce, all with rave reviews, and also tried them coated in Frank’s Red Hot which was a HUGE hit!



Well alright, let’s get to making some nuggets!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Veggie Nuggets With Quinoa and Brown Rice
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These fun and healthy veggie nuggets are sure to please even the most discerning nugget afficianado! They're packed with veggies and whole grains for a nutritional punch and taste great!
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner, Kid-Friendly
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 40 to 50
What You'll Need
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper *
  • ½ cup finely chopped kale *
  • ½ cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1 large or 2 small green onions, white and green parts, finely chopped *
  • ½ cup frozen peas, defrosted and finely chopped
  • ½ cup frozen corn, defrosted finely chopped
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • few twists cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 flax eggs (2 TBS ground flax seed mixed with 6 TBS warm water- let sit til thickened)
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • Frank's Red How Buffalo Wing Sauce (optional)
  • Your choice of dipping sauces
  • *I use my food processor to make quick work of finely chopping these ingredients.
Make It Happen!
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If using an air fryer, no need to preheat.
  2. When all ingredients are prepped, gathered, and measured (remember mise en place?), add them all to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Thoroughly mix- using your hands is the best way to get everything combined as good as possible!
  4. Once mixed, place mixture in the refrigerator for half an hour to firm up.
  6. Using your hands, form mixture into small oval or round nuggets, approximately ½ an inch to ¾ inch thick, an inch or so wide, and 1½ to 2 inches long. Really, you're in control of what shape to make them!
  7. Place nuggets on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with nonstick coking spray, no closer than an inch apart.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn the nuggets, then bake another 15 minutes.
  9. **If making Buffalo-style nuggets: after baking, toss in wing sauce. Serve immediately while nuggets are still crispy.
  11. Spray the bottom of the air-fryer basket with a very light mist of cooking spray, OR, if you're avoiding oil, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the basket.
  12. Form nuggets, then assemble as many as you can at a time in the air-fryer basket without the nuggets touching. If you have a rack apparatus that allows you to cook multiple layers at a time, your cooking time may need to be adjusted from what follows, because I don't have such a rack and tested this recipe in a single layer only.
  13. Air-fry nuggets at a temperature of 380 degrees for 8 minutes, flip nuggets, then cook another 8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the outside.
  14. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!
Stuff You Should Know
To save time and multitask, cook brown rice and quinoa, and chop veggies the day before, OR prep your veggies and seasonings while your brown rice and quinoa cooks.

Brown rice and quinoa should be fairly cooled before proceeding, because you'll be shaping the nuggets with your hands.

These freeze beautifully! Simply layer cooked and cooled nuggets on a baking tray and freeze, then plop the frozen nuggets into a freezer container.


Tofu Eggless Salad and Jackfruit Chicken Salad- A Tale Of Two Sandwiches!

One of the greatest pleasures of being vegan (aside from, ya know… not being part of the senseless killing of animals for no reason) is discovering meal after meal after meal that you can STILL have without animal products!

I’ve been vegan going on four years now, and while it no longer is such a novelty to me to discover a vegan version of something I loved eating before (because I know now that pretty much EVERYTHING can be veganized) , it’s really exciting to see newer vegans overjoyed when they realize they can keep right on eating things like tacos, chili, or ice cream.  There are endless varieties of plant foods and seasonings out there that can very easily parallel the same textures and flavor profiles of animal-based dishes, and you may just find that you eat a far more varied and exciting diet as a vegan than you ever did consuming animal products!

These two simple salads are a perfect example of dishes that can still easily have those flavor profiles and textures without meat, dairy, or eggs, and are very easy to customize.  I’ve had numerous requests on social media to share my recipes for Tofu Eggless Salad and Jackfruit Chick’n Salad, and when you ask, I listen!  Both are great as a sandwich served on a lovely soft roll, toast, or with crackers and veggies.  I especially like the jackfruit salad in an avocado or tomato half, and I love both spooned onto dainty crackers.

The “secret” ingredient that puts the tofu eggless salad over the top is of course the Kala Namak black salt.  If you’ve never worked with this salt before, prepare to be blown away!  Grayish-pink rather than black, it exhibits a sulfurous smell and taste very reminiscent of eggs, and has quickly become the vegan community’s go-to ingredient when preparing most anything that was previously egg-based, like tofu scrambles, omelettes, or vegan mayonnaise.  Do yourself a favor and DON’T skip it in favor of regular salt- there’s simply no comparison.  Kala Namak can often be difficult to find locally (don’t be fooled by a packaged labeled simply “black salt”- if it doesn’t specifically say Kala Namak it won’t have that eggy smell and taste) but is readily and affordably available on Amazon.  I bought this one-pound bag over a year ago and have barely made a dent in it since a little goes such a long way.

For the jackfruit chick’n salad, what sets my recipe apart is the technique I use in treating the jackfruit before adding a thing to it. 

First, if you’re working with canned jackfruit (what I use), be sure you’re looking for young green jackfruit in WATER, never syrup, and preferrable not brine.   If you’re doing a BBQ jackfruit, brine may be acceptable since the strong seasonings of most BBQ sauces can mask the bitter taste, but in this more delicate chick’n salad, I strongly advise against using brined jackfruit.  Canned jackfruit is most commonly found in Asian or Indian markets, but if you cannot find any locally, it’s available on Amazon.  As for fresh whole jackfruit, I personally have never gotten my hands on one, so I can’t offer any advice about the treatment of it, but if you happen to get one, You Tube has many tutorial videos about how to cut them up.  They range from football-sized to almost man-sized!

In my recipe, you’ll note that I do NOT cut off and discard the hard pointed tips nor the little oval pods from the pieces of jackfruit.  This amounts to a lot of unnecessary waste, and with my technique, these parts blend nicely into the rest of the shredded jackfruit.  This involves the use of a nylon-mesh nut milk bag (I like this brand) to squeeze out as much moisture as possible from the jackfruit, and in the process, I use my fingers to shred apart the pieces.  I finish off the shredding with blitz through the food processor to take care of any hard chunks or pods left intact from the squeezing, then a quick baking at a low temperature in either my air fryer or the oven.  This brief baking dries out the shredded jackfruit somewhat and greatly improves the texture.  Yes, it’s a bit of a fussy procedure, but since the major complaint about jackfruit seems to concern its “slimy” texture, well worth the extra few minutes!

I hope you enjoy both of these new “classic” recipes.  Let me know what you think in the comments, and if you snap a photo, tag me on instagram @the-kinder-kitchen!

Tofu Eggless Salad
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All of the savory, eggy flavor you remember with no eggs, this creamy salad is great on sandwiches or crackers and is a crowd-pleasing potluck favorite! This recipe makes a large batch but is easily halved to feed just a few.
Recipe type: Lunch, Salad, Sandwich, Potluck
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 5 cups
What You'll Need
  • 2 14 oz packages extra firm tofu, drained and pressed well
  • Scant ½ cup thinly sliced scallions (even mix of green and white parts)
  • 2 large ribs celery, diced fine (I run them through a food processor)
  • For mayo mixture:
  • 1 cup vegan mayo of your choice
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Kala Namak salt
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric (for color)
  • few twists fresh ground black pepper
  • OPTIONAL: 1 tsp smoked paprika for a light, smoky flavor
  • OPTIONAL: 2 TBS sweet or dill pickle relish if desired (I like a little sweet pickle relish)
Make It Happen!
  1. Coarsely crumble the pressed tofu into a large bowl. Don't crumble too fine- in the process of adding in the mayo mixture it'll crumble further.
  2. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine all of the mayo mixture ingredients. Kala Namak salt can tend to clump, so be especially careful not to leave any nuggets, or someone will be in for a salty bite!
  3. Spoon the mayo mixture into the bowl containing the tofu and gently fold in with a rubber spatula, breaking up the larger chunks of tofu. Continue until thoroughly combined.
  4. Chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours for flavors to absorb into the tofu, but chilling overnight is optimal.

Jackfruit Chicken Salad
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Jackfruit, a newly popularized ingredient famous for its ability to mimic the texture of shredded meat, is the star of this new version of classic chicken salad
Recipe type: Lunch/Salad/Sandwich/Potluck
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 4 cups[url:1][img:1][/url]
What You'll Need
  • 3 20 oz cans young green jackfruit in water (not brine or syrup)
  • ⅔ cup vegan mayo
  • 3 TBS finely diced red onion
  • 2 TBS dried parsley flakes
  • 2 TBS seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of sugar
  • fresh ground black pepper (optional)
Make It Happen!
  1. Preheat the oven to 200. If you are using an air fryer, no need to preheat.
  2. Drain the jackfruit and rinse well.
  3. Place the whole jackfruit wedges (no need to cut off the tips or discard the seed pods) in a mesh nut milk bag and squeeze out as much moisture as you can, shifting the pieces around and breaking them up with your fingers as you go. Repeat until you cannot squeeze any more water out.
  4. If there are still hard tips or seed pods left that did not get broken up, you may choose to run the jackfruit briefly through a food processor to refine the texture.
  5. If using the oven: Spread the jackfruit in a thin layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake, stirring around, for approximately 20 minutes or until some of the edges start to get a little dried.
  6. If using an air fryer: line the bottom with parchment paper or use a baking dish to fit your machine and place the jackfruit in an even layer. Air fry at 200 degrees, stirring often, until the edges of the jackfruit start to get a bit dry.
  7. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all other ingredients, adjusting any seasonings to your taste if necessary.
  8. Add the cooled jackfruit to the mayo mixture and chill for 2 hours for flavors to meld.









The Veganized Famous Bowl


Fast food?  Fuggedaboudit!


bowl 2

Far back into my pre-vegan days, when I was pregnant with my oldest son Dominic, I had what you might call a love-hate relationship with food.  I loved it, all of it, in large quantities, and hated when I couldn’t satisfy a craving!  I don’t recall every having any of those outlandish, cliched cravings like pickles and ice cream, but it’s no exaggeration to say that I had a passionate love affair with junk-food.  I look back on those nine months now and cringe, knowing that I could have been kinder to my body and my growing baby.

One of the things I HAD to have, at least  two or three times a week, was KFC’s Famous Bowl.  Actually, it’s funny that they call it that, because hardly anyone I know has ever heard of it.  If you’ve never had one, here’s the gist: layers of mashed potatoes, corn, chicken, gravy, and shredded cheddar cheese.  It’s a bowl of stick-to-your-ribs, comforting bliss.  I would hit the drive-thru, pull into the parking lot with my bag, and inhale it, the bowl resting half on the steering wheel and half on my giant pregnant belly.

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Vegan Potato Cheese Sauce

Golden, gooey cheesiness!
Golden, gooey cheesiness!




“I’d go vegan but I could never give up cheese!”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this, I’d probably be set for life.

It’s a sentiment I understand. In my first months of being vegan, I worried that I would never experience the joy of cheese again. Tangy, salty, savory, melty, gooey cheese. Over the years in my pre-vegan days, I’d tried a few non-dairy cheeses, and was not impressed. I vividly remember making hamburgers for my boys and slapping a slice of soy cheese on each, hoping it would melt. It didn’t. My son Charlie, who was about 3 at the time, poked at it skeptically and said, “Mom do I have to eat this toy cheese?”


Experiences like this did not make me enthusiastic about the giving up of cheese when I decided to be vegan, but once I found out that dairy cheese is far from a cruelty-free product, I knew I could never eat it again in good conscience, and as I learned more about the non-dairy cheese products available nowadays and tested them out for myself, I breathed a sigh of relief. These newer products had more complex flavor profiles, a more satisfying mouthfeel, and more importantly, MELTED! Today’s vegan doesn’t even need to rely solely on store-bought non-dairy cheeses with the abundance of DIY recipes available online. I sometimes come across a product or recipe that doesn’t please my palate, but at least now, when someone says, “I’d go vegan but I could never give up cheese,” I can say to them with confidence, “Don’t worry, you don’t have to!”

I thought I’d make this blog’s inaugural recipe my own rendition of one that is quite popular among the vegan/plant-based crowd at the moment (though I was working on this recipe long before similar ones started popping up!), and popular for good reason! This cheesy sauce is thick and velvety and sure to please (and fool!) everyone, and doesn’t rely on gobs of oil to achieve a rich, smooth texture and taste…in fact, it’s oil-free! When I gave my mom a jar of it to sample, I asked her if she could identify its main ingredients, and she couldn’t! Its versatility can take it anywhere from mac and cheese to nachos to chili queso dip and beyond, and the star ingredients may surprise you, but they work together to create a truly satisfying cheesiness.   Be sure to check out my recipe for Lentil Nachos Supreme at the end of this post using this very sauce!

This recipe makes enough to fill about 1 3/4 quart Mason jars.
This recipe makes enough to fill about 1 3/4 quart Mason jars.


Vegan Potato Cheese Sauce
Yields 1
A rich and tangy vegan cheese sauce that is sure to satisfy your cravings! Suitable for mac n' cheese, nachos, baked potatoes, or any dish you'd like.
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  1. 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced to equal about 4 cups (russets will work, too)
  2. 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds to equal about 1 heaping cup.
  3. ½ large yellow or white onion, diced
  4. ½ cup cashews (see note below)
  5. 2 teaspoons each garlic powder and onion powder
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  7. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  8. ½ cup nutritional yeast
  9. 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or cornstarch
  10. 2 teaspoons each mellow white miso paste and tomato paste
  1. Cover the potatoes, carrots, and onion in a large saucepan with about 4 cups of water, and boil until soft.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the veggies and transfer to your blender, then add all remaining ingredients. DO NOT throw out your veggie water! You'll need it for blending.
  3. Add to the ingredients in the blender 2 cups of the veggie water, and blend on high until fully incorporated. If you have a blender with a tamper, you may need to use it to get things going. If you have a regular blender, you may need to stop and shove things down a bit with a spatula. Add a bit more of the water, blend, and repeat, until you get a free-flowing cheesy vortex happening. If you find that you've added too much water and your cheese sauce is too thin, you can blend in more tapioca or cornstarch a teaspoon at a time to thicken it back up.
  4. This cheese sauce is ready to rock and roll! Try it on this Lentil Nacho Supreme recipe below, then pour the rest into jars and refrigerate for up to a week.
  1. Cashews: if you have a high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix or Blendtec, cashews can be added dry without soaking. If you are using a standard blender, I recommend soaking the cashews overnight for a minimum of 8 hours, OR boiling them until very soft before blending.
The Kinder Kitchen







1/4 cup (plus a bit more) vegetable broth or stock

2 cups cooked green lentils (not green split peas!)

1 cup each diced white or yellow onion and diced bell pepper of any color

1  14oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained but not rinsed

1  4 oz can diced green chiles

1 TBS taco seasoning  OR 1 tsp each ground cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder

2 tsp Mexican (or regular) oregano

About 1 cup of That Potato Cheese Sauce

Any additional nacho toppings desired, such as black olives, salsa, guacamole, etc



Heat broth til bubbling in a large skillet.  Sautee peppers and onion in the broth til soft, adding additional splashes of broth to the skillet if needed to keep from sticking.

Add all other ingredients and another splash of broth and heat til bubbly.

Spoon the lentil mixture onto tortilla chips, drizzle with the cheese sauce, and add desired toppings.




Hello and welcome to my new readers!

I’m Shannon, and it’s my pleasure and honor to be here, bringing you easy-to-make vegan recipes and tips for navigating the brave world of veganism!  Some are my original creations, some have been inspired by the work of other fellow vegan home-cooks, and some are “veganized” versions of those favorites we have all loved through the years but now want healthier, compassionate versions of.
If you’re new to the vegan lifestyle and feel a bit mystified by this new way of cooking, have no fear. I will also feature guidance and tips for newbies, from easy vegan substitutes for meat, dairy, and eggs, to commonly asked questions about living vegan in a non-vegan world, to great new vegan-friendly products for health/beauty and home use. And if you have questions that you don’t find the answers to here, let me know! It’s likely that others are wondering too.
A little about me, personally: I live with my husband and four sons in beautiful Western Colorado. My husband Chris is a meteorologist, and in addition to being a blog writer and working on my first cookbook, I am also a nurse, working in an addiction recovery center. I hold a certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University and will be offering personalized, one-on-one vegan lifestyle coaching in the very near future.
I became vegan for reasons of animal welfare and health and wellness, both in equal measure. Veganism is about leading a life of compassion, and I firmly believe that to have a heart open to showing the most compassion to our fellow earthlings, the animals, you must first cultivate a sense of compassion for your own mind, body, and spirit. I try always to love myself and honor the one body and life I have on this planet, so I strive to make healthy choices in what I eat, in exercising my body, in reducing and handling stress, and in my interactions with others, though I am human and just as prone to mistakes as anyone!
So, thank you for being here, and please subscribe to my blog so you can have access to the latest posts.
Happy cooking and much love,

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