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Reading with Intention in 2015 (March)

 Reading with Intention in 2015 (March) | www.thatwasvegan.com

Another month of reading flew by! Well, and also I was so busy getting the condo ready to move into, so I didn’t get to read as much as I had hoped. Oh well, such is life! 

Here’s what I read in February:

  •  West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan … I’m still madly in (book) love with O’Nan, I can’t lie. I really enjoyed this book although it wasn’t my favorite of his. Not even top five, but it was really good. And I learned a lot about F. Scott Fitzgerald (and have vowed to add The Great Gatsby to my reading list!). West of Sunset focused on the last three years of his life. Deeply in debt, no longer recognized for the literary genius he was, and with a wife in a mental institution, Scott pushed on and even managed to find love again. The ending was sad (even though I knew he would die), and it made me want to learn even more about his life. I think that’s what a good book does – teaches you something and leaves you wanting more!
  • How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran … This was highly recommended to me, and I can see why. I loved it! It was funny and sad and inspiring and uncomfortable-making. All those things, rolled into one. It was about a teenage girl, growing up in poverty outside London in the 90’s, who completely reinvents herself. She gives herself a new name and persona, drops out of school and gets a career. She “builds a girl”, hence the name. But the girl she built is flawed, and not quite who she wants to be. It’s full of foul language and sex so if you’re offended by that sort of thing, this isn’t the book for you. I personally love foul language and sex tho, haha, so I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading more by Caitlin Moran!
  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters … Judging from what I’ve read via reviews, this is the least popular of Waters’ books, and a lot of people were unhappy with it, especially the pace. They seemed to feel it took too long to get to the actual action of the story, but I LOVED it! I’m a patient reader, and I appreciate being given the time to get to know a character. Frances Wray and her genteel mother have been forced to take in lodgers, in post WW1 London to pay the bills. I don’t want to give away too many details, but there’s romance, sex, murder… and a surprising ending. I really thought it was going to end differently! I thought this book was great, and now I’m really excited to read more by her!
  • Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado … I was a little disappointed in this book. It was okay, and about an important topic, but I felt like she just kept saying the same thing over and over again. I had loved the excerpt I read on Slate, but now I think that was simply the best part of the book. Bummer.
  • 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam … I may have MORE time, but I still didn’t have ENOUGH time to read this book. Oh well!  

I’d say this was a successful month of reading. I was reacquainted I loved three of the four books I managed to actually read, and given the move and all the work I had to do, the fact that I read that much is a minor miracle!

You can see what I read in January, and check out my total progress on goodreads… Friend me if you’re on there!


 

Books for March 2015

 

  • The Little House Collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder … Yes, this is 9 books but it’ll take me like a week. I re-read this series every winter from the same falling-apart set my grandparents gave me when I was a little girl. I’ve done it every year for as long as I can remember, usually in February or March. I’m SUCH a creature of habit, but there’s something so simple and innocent about these books, and of course they remind me of my own childhood. I think I would’ve made a pretty badass pioneer! Anyway, I have this rule that I need to read it while it’s still cold and (hopefully!) snowy out, so it’s now or never! Plus it’ll be nice to bring this old tradition to my new place right away!
  • The First Bad Man by Miranda July … I discovered this book on Pinterest. I’d never heard of Miranda July before but apparently she’s quite famous. This book is described as “…dazzling, disorienting, and unforgettable.” It’s about a tightly wound woman who might be a little crazy… haha, that could be me, no? 
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer … I’ve already read this book but after reading his sister’s story of their violently abusive childhoods back in January, I want to re-read it. 
  • Talk Talk by TC Boyle … My love for TC Boyle was reignited in January when I read The Tortilla Curtain (read my thoughts on that book here), and I added a few more of his titles to my wait list with the library, and this was the first one that came available! It’s about a woman on trial for a list of crimes she absolutely didn’t commit- in fact, her identity had been stolen. Goodreads describes it as “… a thrilling road trip across America and a moving story about language, love, and identity…”. The woman is deaf, and she and her boyfriend set out on their own to find the criminal and clear her name. I love the way Boyle writes, so I expect to really enjoy this book.
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What I Eat When I’m Not Blogging Part 2

If all has gone well, by the time you’re reading this I officially live in my new place :) I’m also without a kitchen… which means another installment of What I Eat When I’m Not Blogging… which you guys seemed to enjoy the first round of. 

Because of the impending move, I spent much of the last month trying to clean out my pantry and freezer, so prepare for some randomness!

I ate lots of salads… some times with a an english muffin on the side, simply to use them up!

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 Salad… EB Mac n’ Cheese… and a Tofurky sausage! 

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I had some vegan bacon to use up so I made a round of my Amazing Raspberry, Pear and Bacon Grilled Cheese! 

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 I skipped the pantry and went to Native Foods for their Thai Meatball Bowl!

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 And one I even grilled some veggies when it was nice out!

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 I found some vegan chik’n taquitos in the back of my freezer, that was a nice surprise!

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And some Beyond Meat crumbles too! These made amazing soft tacos, along with some rice and a salad…

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There was some leftover Cajun Meatloaf from Happy Herbivore with a baked potato, roasted beets and a side salad: 

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 I used up a box of rotini with sliced tofurky sausage, frozen spinach, and Daiya! (talk about cleaning out the pantry and freezer, amirite!?)

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A “Tortilla Burger” made with a frozen Amy’s patty, along with a few Alexia onion rings (vegan and delicious!) and steamed broccoli:

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Who says grilled cheese is just for lunch? I made a Breakfast Grilled Cheese by adding bacon and a squirt of maple syrup:

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And last but not least… BBQ Chick’n Seitan, steamed kale, a side salad with Follow Your Heart vegan ranch, and more of that yummy Earth Balance MNC!

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Amazing Margaritas From VEEV

 

Poolside

It’s no secret that I enjoy my adult beverages, and I freely admit that I cook best with a drink by my side, haha! Margaritas are one of my favorites, but the fact is I’m no good at mixing them myself. So unless I wanted to schlep myself to the nearest restaurant every time a craving hit, I needed to find a good pre-mixed, ready-to-drink option. This wasn’t an easy task… So many of the mixes are either overly sweet, or come with about a billion calories. No thanks. 

Which is why I was super excited to discover VitaFrute Organic Ready-to-Drink Margaritas by VEEV! 125 calories, organic, delicious, and vegan! What more could I ask for? 

They actually have a wide range of ready-to-drink cocktails, in case margaritas aren’t your thing- Coconut Colada, Cosmo, and Lemonade (which I’m dying to try!).  These would be a great option for your next cocktail party- spend less time hovering over the blender and more time enjoying your guests!

Find VEEV near you!

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About VEEV:

VEEV Spirits® LLC was founded by brothers Courtney Reum and Carter Reum in Los Angeles in 2007. What started as a two-man start-up grew into one of the best-selling independent liquor brands in the U.S. VEEV® Spirits was ranked amongst the 250 fastest growing companies and brands in the U.S. by Inc. Magazine (September 2011) and won the Technomic Fast 50 Award in 2013. VEEV® is an active member of 1% for the Planet® where 1% of topline sales are donated to environmental organizations worldwide. In 2012 VitaFrute™ Cocktails by VEEV® was launched as the first line of organic and all-natural superfruit ready-to-drink premium products under 125 calories per serving and that taste great, naturally. The newest addition to VitaFrute™ Cocktails by VEEV®, Coconut Colada joins the array of flavors including Margarita, Lemonade and Cosmopolitan. In July 2014 VEEV® Spirits unveiled VEEV® 2.0 with its reformulation from 60 to 70 proof and new positioning as the better alternative to Vodka. For more information, visit www.veevlife.com and Facebook.com/VEEV, or follow @VEEV on Twitter and @VEEV on Instagram. A Better Way to Drink™.

*This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of VEEV Spirits. All opinions are 100% mine.

Visit Sponsors Site

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Lemon Couscous with Sweet Potatoes and Kale

Lemon Couscous with Sweet Potato and Kale | www.thatwasvegan.com

Holy monkey you guys… I’m moving this week! AHHHH! I don’t feel ready, but I feel really really really excited! I just hope these little dudes are ready…

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Aren’t my cocker babies adorable? And man, looking at that picture makes me miss lazy evenings spent sprawled on the couch with them, binge-watching something on Netflix. The move and reno have kept me SO busy lately, no down time at all. 

Also, since my old kitchen is packed up and my new kitchen is still (mostly) in boxes, I don’t have a ton of new recipes for you. But I do have re-shoots of another old favorite. This time, it’s my Lemon Couscous with Sweet Potatoes and Kale. Tons of nutrition and flavor make this a winner as a side dish or a main. I also happen to love it for work lunches- it reheats beautifully! You can get the recipe here

Lemon Couscous with Sweet Potato and Kale | www.thatwasvegan.com

 

Lemon Couscous with Sweet Potato and Kale | www.thatwasvegan.com

As for the move, please keep your fingers crossed that I don’t lose my freaking mind. I’m scheduled to move Thursday and then I’m taking a long weekend to get the doggers settled in and work on unpacking. My mama is coming to visit in a couple weeks so I have to get the place all spic n’ span for her. 

Oh wait, who am I kidding? It’ll probably still be a crazy mess when she gets here :)

Don’t forget to check out this delicious recipe

 

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Garlicky Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries | www.thatwasvegan.com

Garlicky Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries. Just let that sink in for a minute. A little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, and a whole lotta flavorful!

Garlicky Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries | www.thatwasvegan.com

I know sweet potatoes aren’t everyone’s favorite. And although I truly love them (like, mad passionate love them), usually when I’m making oven fries, I’ll opt for the more traditional russets. But then I had this idea…

I was like “Hey! What if I took a sweet potato fry and made it kinda spicy?” and then I was like “That’s a great idea, you’re sooo smart! And pretty!” And that’s how the Garlicky Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries were born. I used a McCormick Grill Mates seasoning to keep it simple, and these made the best side to go with the Sweet Earth frozen burgers that had come earlier that day. 

garlicky chipotle fries

The Santa Fe flavor was my absolute favorite, it’s what I served with the fries. The teriyaki I heated up in a pan, chopped up and used to top a salad, and the Za’atar I served in a pita with some hummus and sliced cucumber- made a great take-to-work lunch.

Sweet Earth is great. They make a TON (literally, a ton) of vegan foods, both refrigerated and frozen. They have burgers, breakfast burritos, seitan, bacon, soups, pies… all vegetarian and many vegan. 

Speaking of breakfast burritos…

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I could probably live on nothing but their Curry Tiger burrito for at least a couple months before getting sick of it :) Check out their store locator app and pick some up, ASAP. I’ve seen their products at Target and Sprouts, they’re pretty widely available.

And don’t forget about these fries!

Garlicky Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries | www.thatwasvegan.com

*I was provided free product to review but the opinions are 100% mine!


Garlicky Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 2
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 large sweet potato
  2. Olive oil
  3. 1+ tablespoon McCormick Grill Mates 'Chipotle & Roasted Garlic' seasoning
  4. S&P
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400, and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. Slice the potato into fries, and arrange on the pan. Drizzle with just a little bit of the oil, and work the fries with your hands to make sure they're all covered. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the seasoning and stir a bit more with your hands.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes, flipping once. Taste and add more seasoning and S&P as needed.
That Was Vegan? http://www.thatwasvegan.com/
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Quick Condo Update

Hello my friends! Just swooping in for a quick update on the progress over in condo-land… Here’s what my living room is looking like with some GORGEOUS new flooring:

condo update1

And the kitchen (which will have the same flooring as the living room) with all the new cabinets stacked up… and you can see we had started tearing out the old ones:

condo update2

And the focus of SO MUCH of my rage… the mirrors glued to the wall in my new bedroom. Which, thankfully, have finally come down. Now I just need to patch the wall and paint. Seriously people, the next time you’re like “Ooh, I should totally glue these mirrors to the wall!“, please don’t. 

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Gah! Looking at these pictures reminds me of how much work I still have to do. Trying to breathe and not freak out too much :)

I’d have to say though that the best part of my new place is the neighbors. Especially these guys (although the human neighbors are really nice too!):

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condo update4

Not pictured is the alpaca. What a strange looking creature he is! And no, I didn’t move to the country. I live in Denver… I just happen to live next door to these adorable creatures!

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When all the work is done I promise to do a proper before and after like I did with my last house! In the meantime, please keep your fingers crossed for me that I make it through this without losing my mind, haha!

 

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Recipes That Didn’t Work (Yet!)

While I’m spending my long holiday weekend tearing out kitchen cabinets and painting like my life depends on it, I thought I’d share some of my failures not-yet-successes with you. 

Sometimes the universe is totally on your side and everything comes together perfectly. You have a bright idea for a new recipe, you grab the ingredients from your local market, the dish comes out deliciously and the pictures are drool-worthy. All that’s left is to write a witty post, right? Well… like I said, sometimes. More often, it’s a case of “This tastes pretty good but I think it could be better” or “WTH did I put so much garlic in here?” or my personal favorite “Eff it, I’ll just have wine for dinner!

Here are some of those… Recipes that haven’t quite worked out but that I’m not quite ready to give up on!

This one I am totally dedicated to completing! It’s a Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous, Sweet Potatoes, and Sausage:

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Crunchy Spicy Chickpeas… these actually came out wonderfully, but I can’t find the notes I jotted down as I made them. Sheesh!

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Mmmmm Pretzels. They just weren’t chewy enough. And I burnt the bottoms. 

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This Cranberry Pumpkin Bread had great flavor, but kept turning out way too moist… plus the season for pumpkin and cranberry has kind of passed, so I think it’s on hold till next fall!

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This one is on hold too, for the same reason: Pumpkin Pancakes with Chocolate Chips. They just weren’t quite right. Super cute though!

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There was absolutely nothing wrong with this salsa except that it was thrown together on the fly with no notes taken at all… so I’ll have to recreate it!

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And finally, this monstrosity (and another reason you should be following me on Insta!): Cheesy Maple Sausage Waffle Breakfast Sandwich! It was too big… and needs a better name, haha!

recipes

Hope you all have a great weekend, and never let your “failures” in the kitchen get you down! 

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Warm Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad | www.thatwasvegan.comHere’s a nice simple recipe for you. Warm Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad makes a perfect side dish, or a wonderful packed lunch! Healthy AND delicious! The peanut sauce is just a little spicy, with one little jalapeno diced up in there. 

The most time consuming part of this recipe is roasting the cauliflower, which – let’s be honest – isn’t that big of a deal because the oven is doing all the work for you. Basically you prep it, put it in the oven, then drink some wine. Then take it out and serve.

Additional wine is optional. 

Warm Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad | www.thatwasvegan.com

I just love the charred, roasted cauliflower. It’s so good! I haven’t been cooking much lately, and roasted veggies are really one of the things I miss the most. That, and homemade seitan, which I haven’t made in ages. 

I don’t miss wine though… I’ve had plenty of that <wink, wink>

Warm Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad | www.thatwasvegan.com

 Craving more cauli? Try some Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza, or maybe some Cauli Corn Chowder!

Oh, and about that news? I bought a condo! It needs a ton of work – paint, new flooring, new kitchen cabinets… but I love it. It’s perfect for the cockers and I, and once that kitchen is done it’ll be perfect for creating tons of yummy new vegan recipes! I promise to share plenty of before and after pictures :)


 

Warm Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad
Serves 4
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 head of cauliflower
  2. Non-stick spray or olive oil
  3. S&P
  4. 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  5. 1 small jalapeno, diced
  6. 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  7. 1/4 - 1/3 cup of your favorite pre-made peanut sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Squirt a little non stick spray (or oil) onto a baking sheet, and set aside.
  2. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized florets and place in thin layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring after 15. Sprinkle with more S&P after you stir.
  3. Combine the beans, jalapeno, onion, and peanut sauce in a saucepan and simmer for 5-10 minutes to get the flavor all through. Combine with the cauliflower when its ready, stirring well so the sauce covers everything. Add S&P as needed. Serve warm!
That Was Vegan? http://www.thatwasvegan.com/
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It’s a twofer! Oskar Blues Brewery and Spirit Hound Distillers, both in Lyons, Colorado! First up: the brewery…

Mile High Vegan Eats: Oskar Blues Brewery & Spirit Hound Distillers | www.thatwasvegan.com

I’m not gonna lie… Oskar’s doesn’t have a ton of vegan-friendly foods BUT if you’re going for the beer and need a bite too, they have you covered. They have a vegan Boca patty, and a couple salads that can be veganized.

Burger and fries…

Mile High Vegan Eats: Oskar Blues Brewery & Spirit Hound Distillers | www.thatwasvegan.com

The Summertime Salad, with no cheese. Ignore the dressing off to the side there. When I ordered they swore it was dairy-free… but it was white? And creamy? I don’t know… It was a really good salad though. I love candied walnuts.

Mile High Vegan Eats: Oskar Blues Brewery & Spirit Hound Distillers | www.thatwasvegan.com

On the way home we passed Spirit Hound Distillers. Anyone who has even passed through Lyons on their way to Estes Park or RMNP has seen this sign…

Mile High Vegan Eats: Oskar Blues Brewery & Spirit Hound Distillers | www.thatwasvegan.com

They have a great tasting room, friendly bartenders who are happy to serve up the samples… and the best part? Their milky drinks are all made with So Delicious coconut milk!

Mile High Vegan Eats: Oskar Blues Brewery & Spirit Hound Distillers | www.thatwasvegan.com

What brought us to Lyons on this particular day, you might be asking? We were bored… wanted to go somewhere new, and figured a community so devastated by the 2013 floods could use our dollars. So off we went.

Here are just a few shots I took from the car as we drove by. It’s shocking how long it takes to rebuild (altho, these were taken last year). 

Mile High Vegan Eats: Oskar Blues Brewery & Spirit Hound Distillers | www.thatwasvegan.com

 

Mile High Vegan Eats: Oskar Blues Brewery & Spirit Hound Distillers | www.thatwasvegan.com

 

Mile High Vegan Eats: Oskar Blues Brewery & Spirit Hound Distillers | www.thatwasvegan.com

 Want more Denver-area restaurant reviews? Check out my Mile High Vegan Eats page!

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Agave-Green Chile Roasted Veggie Tacos

Agave-Green Chile Roasted Veggie Tacos | www.thatwasvegan.com

Tacos, tacos, tacos. I can never get enough tacos. And during these frigid winter months what better to fill them with than roasted veggies and hot green chilies. And agave, for just a hint of sweet. My Vegan Agave-Green Chile Roasted Veggie Tacos truly have it all!

Also, if I ever start my own band, it’s gonna be called Tacos, tacos, tacos.

Agave-Green Chile Roasted Veggie Tacos | www.thatwasvegan.com

The sweet and spicy combination is so delicious. You could actually sub in any veggies you have on hand, but personally I think sweet potatoes are the greatest invention since cocker spaniels, so that’s what I went with. The yellow squash just soaked in all that green chile flavor like they were made for each other!

Agave-Green Chile Roasted Veggie Tacos | www.thatwasvegan.com

Look at those beautiful veggies! And if you saw my What I Eat post, then you’re not surprised at all to see that I served them with a hefty side salad.

Agave-Green Chile Roasted Veggie Tacos | www.thatwasvegan.com

Agave-Green Chile Roasted Veggie Tacos | www.thatwasvegan.com

Want more taco recipes?


 

Agave-Green Chile Roasted Veggie Tacos
Yields 6
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 small sweet potato
  2. 1 small yellow squash
  3. 1/2 sweet onion
  4. Zest of 1 lime, plus 2 tablespoons lime juice
  5. 1 cup diced, roasted green chilies
  6. 1/2 cup agave
  7. 1 teaspoon salt, plus pepper
  8. 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  9. 6 taco shells
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and spray baking sheet with non-stick.
  2. Uniformly dice the veggies- except for the onion, you can make those a little smaller. Arrange in single layer on the baking sheet and set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the lime juice and zest, green chilies, agave and salt. Pour half the mixture into a small blender and puree for 5-10 seconds. Pour back into the mixing bowl.
  4. Reserve a 1/4 cup of the sauce, and pour the rest over the veggies, stirring a bit so they're completely covered, yet still in a single layer. Give 'em a couple cracks of black pepper and put in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, then bake another 5 minutes.
  5. Heat the chickpeas in a small saucepan over low/medium heat with the reserved sauce, about 5 minutes until warmed through. Combine with the veggies in the taco shells and enjoy!
Notes
  1. I found these to be SO flavorful I didn't need any additional toppings, just a nice side salad!
That Was Vegan? http://www.thatwasvegan.com/
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