Lentil, Mushroom & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

With its rich, mushroom-studded filling tucked under a layer of soft mashed sweet potato, it has all the hallmarks of a good shepherd's pie, but it's completely vegan — and includes a secret ingredient that adds body and creaminess to the filling, without any cream. Authentic shepherd's pie is a comfort food classic, but there's no room in my diet or grocery budget for a heavy dish of ground lamb or beef and buttery potatoes, except as an occasional treat. Lentils, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes, roasted until creamy-soft, need just a little salt and pepper to be a flavorful topping. This recipe uses one unusual ingredient: steel cut oats! The dry oats — cooked and drained with the lentils — release just enough starch to bind the filling into a creamy, mushroomy mass, rather than a loose scattering of lentils and vegetables. The oats also add a texture somewhat like ground meat, but they aren't noticeable unless you know to look for them, so your guests will have no idea their dinner includes a nutritious breakfast staple. Note: STEAMING the sweet potatoes saves you an HOUR off this recipe plus retains vital nutrients!

Hearty Mushroom Hummus

In the mood for a savory snack? Try this hearty version of Mediterranean hummus made with baby bellas or portobello mushrooms, garbanzo beans, tahini, garlic, lemon, and parsley. This quick dip has that yummy hearty mushroom flavor and a hint of lemon. If you are a hummus lover, you have to try this variation – this is a break from the norm for sure! Perfect for dipping veggies and crackers, or layering on a sandwich or lunch wrap instead of mayo.

Wild Rice Asparagus Salad with Walnut Lemon Dressing

A main-dish salad is a perfect destination for grains. Tossed with a vinaigrette, a selection of vegetables and herbs, perhaps some walnuts to add crunch and flavor, and you've got all you need for the center of your plate. I love the contrast of textures and colors in this salad. The wild rice is earthy, the brown rice nutty, and both are chewy in different ways. Walnuts and walnut oil not only add perfect complementary flavor and crunch, but also contribute omega-3 fatty acids to the mix. You can make this up to a day ahead, but don't add the asparagus, parsley, and herbs until shortly before serving, because their colors will fade. I usually cook a few servings of wild or brown rice each week and toss cooked leftovers in soups and salads to save time in the kitchen.

Chicken Sausage + Portobella Ragu over Creamy Polenta

One of my favorite ultimate comfort-dishes! Polenta serves as a gluten-free alternative grain topped with savory combination of chicken sausage, earthy baby bellas, and a bright tomato zing. Perfect for a weeknight dinner and sure to impress your guests at dinner parties. You can choose vegetarian sausage to make this vegetarian-friendly. I usually add a tablespoon of brain-healthy butter in the final polenta stir, because organic butter is a Vibrant Method approved brain food when used in moderation.