Red Lentil Soup

This soup is a favorite amongst my clients who come to me for weight loss or those who want to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet. It is easy to prepare, nutritious, delicious and freezes well. 

Unless making it for one person (this makes 4 bowls) I suggest DOUBLING the recipe. I always regret it when I don’t! This recipe makes 7 cups.

Another option is to not add the cup of water. Not adding it will of course make it thicker.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  Pinch of ground chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cups water (do not add this if you like thick soup)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  •  Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder and sauté for 2 minutes longer to intensify the flavor.
  3. Add broth, 1 cup water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 20-25  minutes.
  4. Stir in lemon juice. Stir, taste and add more if necessary. Stir in cilantro.
  5. Taste and add salt if necessary.



Maria Faires Meatless Quinoa Vegetable Lasagna


Makes: 8 servings Active time: 45 minutes Total: 1 1/2 hours

This recipe has become a favorite meatless recipe. It uses highly nutritious quinoa in the most delicious way: paired with red sauce, vegetables and cheese! Quinoa provides all essential amino acids so its protein is like eggs and meat.

Its easy to mix and match vegetables. I have successfully made it with roasted eggplant, instead of zucchini or spinach and have also had success if I didn’t happen to have either the mushrooms, zucchini or spinach on hand. Power greens (baby spinach, kale and chard) also work well in this.

If you do choose to add some meat, use half a pound of browned and cooked lean ground beef or lean ground turkey breast. And diced tofu also works well here as its flavor is masked by the spaghetti sauce and the tofu adds another source of complete yet, plant-based protein. 

And this reheats in the microwave so leftovers can be taken to work for lunch.

1 3/4 cups water

1 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 ½ cups tomato sauce or 1 jar prepared pasta sauce

2 cups low-fat cottage cheese (or reduced fat ricotta)

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

2 cups sliced zucchini

2 cups packed fresh spinach, tough stems removed (or package of frozen spinach, thawed, drained and liquid squeezed out)

1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

  1. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 13 minutes. Remove from heat. Fluff with a fork. Evenly spread the quinoa in the prepared dish. Save pan for next step.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. 3. Wipe out the saucepan you used for the quinoa, then add oil and heat over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, until transparent and starting to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are softened and very little moisture is left in the pan, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauce. Stir until hot. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine cottage cheese and egg in a medium bowl; mix well. Stir in Parmesan, basil and oregano. And stir in frozen spinach if using.
  4. Spread one-half of the sauce over the quinoa. Make a layer of all the zucchini, then all the cottage cheese mixture, then all the spinach. Finish with the remaining sauce and sprinkle the mozzarella on top.
  5. Bake the lasagna uncovered until it is hot and the cheese is melted and slightly browned around the edges, 35 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Facts
Servings 8.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 333
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9 g 14 %
Saturated Fat 3 g 13 %
Monounsaturated Fat 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 36 mg 12 %
Sodium 415 mg 17 %
Potassium 1001 mg 29 %
Total Carbohydrate 53 g 18 %
Dietary Fiber 20 g 79 %
Sugars 8 g
Protein 17 g 35 %
Vitamin A 38 %
Vitamin C 17 %
Calcium 76 %
Iron 92 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Maria’s Vegetarian No-Pasta Eggplant, Spinach and Mushroom “Lasagna”


This is a vegetarian’s Italian delight, a “Meatless-Monday” dinner or an interesting vegetable side-dish for those who want to serve it alongside a meat entrée.

The Globe Eggplant is ideal for almost any cooking application. It also has fewer seeds than other varieties. Choose a small to medium sized eggplant that is firm and heavy.

Leave the purple skin on because an antioxidant called nasunin is found in the skin and protects your cells from free radical damage. Nasunin is an anthocyanin found in fruits and vegetables with red, blue and purple hues. Purple eggplant also contains another antioxidant, chlorogenic acid and it is thought to have anti-cancer properties.

Eating eggplant is going to fill you up without very many calories. One cup of cooked eggplant contains just 28 calories. Eggplant is also a good source of dietary fiber, with 2.5 grams per serving.

Be sure to read all the science backed benefits of eggplant. This is the most detailed compilation I have seen!

Side Note: Roasted eggplant makes a versatile side dish. Just follow my directions for roasting the eggplant in this recipe and when you pull it out of the oven drizzle with lemon, balsamic vinegar or your favorite vinaigrette.

6-8 servings

1 large globe eggplant, washed well, ends cut off and sliced lengthwise 3/4-inch thick

Kosher salt

¼ cup olive oil, divided plus more to grease baking dish

Salt and ground black pepper

3 cups thinly sliced cremini mushrooms

4 cups spinach or mixture of spinach, kale and Swiss chard

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves or 3/4 tsp dried thyme

1 (15-ounce) container skim milk ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided

½ tsp dried oregano

2 cups Marinara Sauce

3 cups skim mozzarella, shredded

Arrange sliced eggplant in a single layer onto two paper towel lined baking sheet pans. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt (It adheres best to the eggplant) on both sides, cover with more paper towel. Let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Wipe down the baking sheets. Brush eggplant lightly on both sides using 3 tablespoons of oil (or less if you can) and season with salt and pepper. Place onto baking sheets. Roast the eggplant until it is soft and golden. Turn slices halfway through, about 22-25 minutes.20151001_162248

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet add the remaining 1 tablespoons of oil and the sliced mushrooms. Sauté until soft for about 6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and chopped thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes. Once the mushrooms are cooked remove and set aside to cool. Dab up any extra liquid with paper towel.

In a large bowl add the ricotta, eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, oregano, 1 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix well. Brush an 8-inch baking dish with oil.

Decrease oven to 400 degrees F.

In a lightly oiled 9 x 13  baking dish, layer:

½ the Sauce


½ the ricotta



½ the ricotta

Other half Sauce


Bake until golden brown, at 350 degrees, for 30 – 40 minutes.

This makes wonderful leftovers. Here I have placed a cold piece of the “lasagna” on some power greens. Cover with a microwave cover and reheat in the microwave. The greens nicely wilt, the lasagna reheats and you have a filling meal.