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Essential Fats

Essential Fats, Salads, Sauces & Dips, Vegetables, Videos

My eHow Video Series: Tomato Puree-Based Salad Dressing

What are antioxidants and why do we want them?
Antioxidants protect your cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals can lead to heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline, and other diseases, so we very much want the protection of antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants which is why consuming them as often and as much as possible is one of the very best things we can do for our health.


Lycopene is an antioxidant in tomatoes. In fact, it’s what gives tomatoes their red color. Scientific studies show that lycopene helps prevent lung, stomach, and prostate cancer. It also helps reduce LDL cholesterol and lowers blood pressure. In this video, I show you not only how to make a delicious salad dressing but I’ll also explain how to get the most lycopene bang for your buck. Woo hoo!

Tomato Puree-Based Salad Dressing — powered by ehow

Calcium Sources, Essential Fats, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Sauces & Dips, Sides, Vegetables, Videos

My eHow Video Series: Sesame Eggplant Dip Recipe

     In this video, I demonstrate my recipe for baba ghanouj, a Middle Eastern dish made with roasted eggplant and tahini. I am a huge eggplant fan, so baba ghanouj is naturally one of my favorite dishes in the world. If you like the flavor of hummus, you’ll most likely love baba ghanouj. It’s basically hummus’s more exotic and dramatic big sister. Like hummus, there’s lots of garlic, creaminess from tahini (sesame paste), earthy spices, and usually lots of olive oil.


      In my recipe, I omit the olive oil and rely on the tahini alone to provide the fat and butteriness, and you’ll see it does the job just fine. I also leave the skin of the eggplant on, which is not typical of most baba ghanouj recipes, unfortunately. Eggplant skin is rich in nasunin, a potent antioxidant that protects cell membranes from damage.

     You can enjoy baba ghanouj with pita, veggies, spread on a sandwich or just by itself. Watch and I think you’ll find it becomes a favorite of yours, too.

1 large eggplants (totaling 2 lbs)
2-3 tablespoons roasted tahini (sesame paste)
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
1 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke the eggplants in several places with a fork. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and place on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast until very tender, about 35-40 minutes.
2. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
3. Remove the eggplant skin and scoop flesh into a large bowl and mash well with a fork.
4. Combine the eggplant, minced garlic, tahini, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, the salt, and a pinch of cayenne. Mash well. You want the mixture to be somewhat smooth but still retaining some of the eggplant’s texture.
5. Allow the baba ghanouj to cool to room temperature, then season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt, and cayenne. If you want, swirl a little olive oil on the top. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. Serve with pita bread, crackers, toast, sliced baguette, celery, or cucumber slices.

Essential Fats, For Beginners, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Sides, Vegetables, Videos

My eHow Video Series: “Sauteed Spinach Without Butter or Oil”

I recently finished filming an online video series, “Delicious Veggie Dishes,” for eHow. There are 11 videos total, and in each one I cook up a delicious, healthful and easy recipe. I am so excited to share them! The entire series is now up on eHow, but I will be posting each video here one-by-one with some additional nutrition information.


In the video below, I demonstrate how to saute spinach without adding the unnecessary calories and fat of butter or oil. Lest anyone think I am fat averse, notice that I top the spinach with pine nuts. This is because pine nuts are a whole food. In their whole state, high-fat plant foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives provide us with numerous health benefits. However, when we consume only the oils of these foods, most of these benefits are lost, leaving us with just pure artery-clogging fat and calories. Fortunately, swapping out butter or oil is quite easy, as you’ll see.
I hope you’ll find watching these videos helpful and inspiring. Please feel free to leave feedback, ask questions, and share with others!

Calcium Sources, Essential Fats, For Beginners, Healthy Body

Babies and Milk

    Some of my students express anxiety about becoming deficient in certain nutrients once they switch to a plant-based diet. All of us, of course, should always be concerned with getting sufficient nutrients, but it’s funny that these fears seem to appear only after a person has eliminated animal products. Those around us bolster these fears too. Tell someone you are vegan and the first thing you’ll be asked is where do you get your x, y or z. Tell someone you eat animals and no one is concerned (which is unfortunate because the vast majority of non-vegans do not consume nearly enough nutrients like fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants which, of course, can only be found in plants). The implication is that only when we go vegan do we need to be concerned with deficiency.
      This is just silly. We all need to remember that there is nothing magical about flesh or dairy. They don’t contain unique properties that cannot be found elsewhere. No one, at any stage of life, needs to consume them. Period. Human beings don’t require specific ingredients; we require specific nutrients. And again, neither flesh nor dairy contains required nutrients that cannot be found elsewhere.
     When kids enter the picture, this anxiety only grows both within us and from the world around us, including from doctors (which is particularly infuriating). I recently received the following inquiry from a friend: “I feel so ‘obligated’ to give my 1 year old whole milk because it’s so ingrained in my brain, but please let me know if you have any good  sources of information on feeding babies soy and/or almond milk. I asked my son’s doctor, and she said to stick with whole milk. Her reasoning wasn’t very convincing though (as much as I hate to second guess her judgement).”
      Stories like this make me want to pull my hair out. 
      First of all, I need to remind people that doctors receive almost no nutrition training in medical school. I know that sounds absurd, but unfortunately, it’s true. The advice you’ll get from most doctors isn’t worth that much more than the advice you would get from asking Joe Schmo on the street. Often times doctors will just tell their patients to do what they themselves have always done or what their parents always did. In other words, when it comes to nutrition, the advice doctors give is usually based on their own habits rather than on science. After all, doctors used to advocate smoking cigarettes to patients because they smoked cigarettes themselves!
      So, do toddlers need to consume cow’s milk? The answer is NO. 
      In previous posts, I’ve discussed why dairy is harmful, but here’s a quick recap: Recent scientific studies have suggested that dairy products may be linked to increased risk for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and possibly for ovarian and breast cancers. And despite the widespread myth that dairy milk is good for your bones, it has actually been singled out as the biggest cause of osteoporosis. Dairy is also high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which leads to heart disease. And over 75% of people on this planet are genetically unable to digest dairy, yet we label this near universal human trait “lactose intolerance” as if it were some disease or deficiency. Here’s the reality: Human babies are born with an enzyme that allows us to digest our mother’s milk. Between the ages of two and five, the vast majority of humans lose this enzyme because we are supposed to be weaned by then. Our bodies simply weren’t designed to be consuming milk into adulthood (let alone the breast milk of another species!). This is why so many babies and toddlers who are fed cow’s milk suffer from digestive upset. Nothing is wrong with them; it’s what they are being fed!
      So why do so many pediatricians recommend feeding human babies whole cow’s milk? 
      Whole cow’s milk is a go-to for parents and pediatricians simply an easily accessible source of fat, calcium, and vitamin D that is readily available in supermarkets. That’s it. Again, there is nothing magical about cow’s milk for humans, whole or otherwise. 
     Fortunately, there are an increasing number of doctors who are starting to wake up to the nutrition science. In fact, in 2008 and 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics published releases that discouraged the transition to whole cow’s milk because of the increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In “Disease-Proof Your Child” (which I highly recommend!), Dr. Joel Fuhrman advises against cow’s milk because it can create gastroesophageal reflux, iron deficiency, and calcium sodium excess in infants and toddlers. It also lacks DHA, a necessary ingredient for brain development. And Pediatrician Dr. Natasha Burgurt explains that “unlike the dietary needs of an infant, milk is no longer a source of complete nutrition after a child’s first birthday. Milk provides a convenient source of fat, protein, calcium, and vitamin D for growing bodes. But, in today’s average food lifestyle, these building blocks can be more than adequately supplied in other areas of a balanced diet.” In other words, toddlers can get their nutrients from food, rather than a beverage. In fact, Dr. Burgurt argues that this is preferable. “In a society that typically drinks too many unnecessary calories,” she says, “it is preferred that children develop a preference for low-fat, low-calorie, unsweetened beverages.” 
     The bottom line is that toddlers don’t need cow’s milk. What toddlers do need are specific nutrients. In “Becoming Vegan” (a must-have book on nutrition), Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD recommend breastfeeding a baby for a minimum of one year and preferably for a full two years or more. If you decide to stop breastfeeding (or using formula), “during the 12-24 month period, fortified soymilk is your best alternative. It should contain calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.” They also recommend including plenty of higher-fat foods in a toddler’s diet. Some examples of foods that provide these important sources of fat include tofu, smooth nut butters, mashed avocado, soy yogurt, puddings, and moderate amounts of olive, canola, and flax oil. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, seaweeds (which are the the original source for fish), selected seeds (flax, chia, hemp), nuts (walnuts, butternuts), and soybeans. Calcium-rich foods for toddlers include breast milk, commercial soy formula, or full-fat fortified soymilk. Food sources of vitamin B12 include nutritional yeast, fortified soy and grain milks (such as Edensoy Extra, Silk, Soy Dream, Rice Dream, So Nice, and Vitasoy Enriched), fortified breakfast cereals (such as Raisin Bran, Kelloggs Cornflakes, Grapenuts, Nutrigrain, and Total). Vitamin D–which does not exist naturally in cow’s milk; it’s only there because it has been fortified–can also be found in other fortified foods, including nondairy milks, or from sufficient sun exposure. 
     Reed Mangles, PhD, RD provides the following chart on the Vegetarian Resource Group (as well as in her nutrition book, Simply Vegan):

       No one wants to give their child a beverage linked to so many health problems, and I believe that deep down we all care about the mothers and babies of other species and don’t want to cause them harm if we don’t have to. For all of you with a little one in your life, I hope this information gives you the confidence to feed your children healthfully and compassionately 🙂
Below are some links I found from vegan moms raising vegan toddlers that may be helpful:
Entrees, Essential Fats, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Sauces & Dips

Instant Macaroni + Cashew Cheese, Please!


The macaroni and cheese you typically find at your grocery store is, for lack of a better word, crap. Not only does it contain cow’s milk, but Kraft in the U.S. uses two artificial dyes, Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6, that have been banned in other countries because of their link to hyperactivity in children, migraines, and asthma.
This is not real food. But it’s a staple in so many households because it’s convenient and cheap, and it tastes good. But it doesn’t have to be this way, folks! We don’t always have to choose between convenience and nutrition!
The following recipe is also convenient, cheap, and tasty, and it contains ingredients that are supposed to be ingested like cashews and spices rather than toxic dyes. I’ve made the mix for both vegans and non-vegans and it’s adored by all. A little goes a long way so if you store it in your freezer you’re pretty much guaranteed a tasty meal any day of the week as long as you have noodles on hand.


(Yields 5 cups of mix)
3 cups raw cashews
2 cups nutritional yeast
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon ground mustard seed
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried green onion
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cumin

1. Using a very dry blender or coffee grinder, grind the cashews in small batches into a very fine powder.
2. Add to a container with a tight-fitting lid, then add all the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously until well mixed.
3. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month or freeze indefinitely.

To make with macaroni (2-4 main dish servings);

Heaping 1/2 cup mix
1 cup nondairy milk (i.e. soy, almond, etc.)
1 pound pasta, prepared according to package instructions

1. Combine the mix and milk in a saucepot over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. (If you prefer really thick sauce, feel free to add more mix.)
2. Add to the prepared pasta. Enjoy!

Source: Vegan Food Gifts by Joni Marie Newman

Breakfast, Calcium Sources, Essential Fats, For Beginners, Fruit, Gluten-Free, Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Oil-Free, Plant Proteins, Vegetables

Disease Prevention for Breakfast


Google image search “American breakfast” and you’ll see a pretty sorry state of affairs. You’ll see bacon strips, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, sausage, fried hash browns, fried ham, pancakes with butter, waffles with butter, toast with butter, buttered croissants, bagels with cream cheese… you get the idea. Google image search “healthy american breakfast” and you’ll see practically the same thing. You’ll get a couple more shots of orange juice (which by definition has been entirely striped of fiber) and some shots of highly refined cereal floating in bowls of dairy milk, but essentially the same thing. No greens, almost no fresh fruit, and A LOT of meat, dairy, eggs, refined flour, refined sugar, and salt.

This is absurd when diet is responsible for four out of the top five leading causes of death in America. As Dr. Mark Hyman explains, “the research clearly shows that changing how we live is a much more powerful intervention for preventing heart disease [currently the number one killer of Americans] than any medication.” The “EPIC” study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine studied 23,000 people’s adherence to 4 simple behaviors (not smoking, exercising 3.5 hours a week, eating a healthy diet [fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts seeds, and limited amounts of meat], and maintaining a healthy weight. In those adhering to these behaviors, 93% of diabetes, 81% of heart attacks, 50% of strokes, and 36% of all cancers were prevented.
We know Americans don’t want to suffer and die from these diseases; after all, we spend an exorbitant amount of our personal and national finances on prescription drugs, medical procedures, and research to treat them. So why do we continue to eat in a way that contributes to the very diseases we are spending so much money to treat? It’s as if we believe our only chance at good health is to sit around and wait for cures to be discovered. This hopelessness and helplessness leaves us completely dependent on doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and research labs–which is very nice for them and their wallets but not so nice for our health, our wallets, or the country.

Why have so many of us been led to believe we have no power over our own health? Why are too many of us still tragically unaware (as I was for so long) of the role diet plays in determining whether or not we get cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and a number of other diseases?

In hindsight, it would be way too easy for me to say, “well, the information is out there. If people really cared about their health, they wouldn’t be eating meat, dairy, and eggs.” But I don’t think it’s that simple. While, indeed, research has proven time and time again that animal products promote disease while fruits and vegetables prevent disease, not many people know this. We hear mixed messages from advertisements (“Milk. It Does a Body Good.”), from fad diets (Atkins), from our parents (who were misled by their parents), and from myths passed amongst our peers (“Humans are meant to eat animals. Look at our pointy fangs!” ). Most insidious, though, are the messages we receive from the medical industry itself which consistently plays down the power of eating for disease prevention.

Why are doctors all too eager to write us prescriptions for high cholesterol, screen us repeatedly with expensive medical equipment for cancer (which is NOT prevention, just detection), perform surgeries to unclog our hearts, or put us through chemotherapy, but they’ll rarely advise us to drastically change our diets? I find the explanation that “most people refuse to make drastic lifestyle changes” to be both patronizing and false. Perhaps some people may refuse to make changes in their diet, but we all deserve to make an informed choice. Plus, I believe most people would prefer not to spend gobs of money unnecessarily, or get their chest cut open unnecessarily, or get cancer and endure chemo unnecessarily, or DIE unnecessarily. Based on my experience, I believe plenty of people would much prefer to make dietary changes if the truth were pushed on them even half as much as prescriptions are.

Why is the link between diet and disease so rarely mentioned?

We cannot forget that the medical industry is a business. A massive business whose tentacles reach not only doctors and hospitals but also drug companies, insurance companies, research labs, universities, supply and equipment manufacturers, marketers, lobbyists, and beyond. It is like any other business in that the goal is to make a profit. Profits, grants, funding, and salaries depend on people being sick. When people are sick, the medical industry flourishes because we require its services–researching, testing, inventing, manufacturing, and administering treatments. That’s not to say that individual people go into the medical field to prey upon sick people, but the industry at large simply does not grow and succeed when the people it is meant to serve are in good health. Telling us how to prevent diseases would make us less dependent on the medical industry’s services which means less money in their pockets. (See #3 for more on this.)

But while the medical industry makes enormous sums of money pushing treatment rather than prevention, the rest of the country suffers financially. In 2006, U.S. health spending exceeded two trillion dollars, with three-fourths of that spending directed at treating chronic diseases. Almost two-thirds of that growth in spending is attributable to Americans’ worsening health habits. A 2007 study at the Harvard Medical School found that 62% of U.S. bankruptcies were a result of medical expenses.

This is complete insanity.

What do have to show for all this money we’ve spent? What has all this money accomplished in the name of human health?
Not much.

Before 1900, very few people died of heart disease. Now it is the number one killer of Americans. In the future, it’s likely that more people will die of heart disease. According to a recent report by the American Heart Association, the prevalence of heart disease is set to increase by 10% over the next 20 years.

Similarly, while research suggests that only 5-10% percent of all cancers are hereditary–meaning that 90-95% of cancers are attributable to lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, alcohol intake, sun exposure, etc–the World Health Organization expects cancer rates to increase by 50% by 2020.

And yet, we still throw money at treating diseases. For example, our government funds cardiovascular disease research over $2 billion PER YEAR even though we already know that changing lifestyle could prevent at least 90% of all heart disease. Just imagine what we could do with the massive amount of money that goes into trying to create and test drugs for diseases that already has a proven means of prevention. We could use the money to educate people about nutrition, improve access to fruits and vegetables, subsidize organic vegetable farmers, create more walking paths and bike lanes. Imagine how many fewer people would be sick, bankrupt, or prematurely dead! But the loudest voices come from the medical industry (who has spent more than FOUR TIMES the lobbying money than what the oil and gas industry spends!) and we listen and follow not only with our wallets but also our lives.

To say I find this whole system infuriating would be a major understatement. Nothing breaks my heart more than needless suffering and that is exactly what is going on here on a massive scale. Just think about it. Animals suffer and are killed unnecessarily for humans’ appetites. Humans suffer and die from diseases caused by eating the flesh and secretions of animals. In their suffering, humans seek out cures and treatments, fueling an industry that captures or breeds animals merely to infect them with diseases, overdose them on drugs, infest them with tumors, slice open their bodies, or deprive them of their most fundamental needs. Humans pay for the drugs, which often times don’t work as expected precisely because they were tested on nonhuman animals and also because drugs, surgeries and other treatments only address symptoms of disease and not the cause. We then sit around and wait for the next cure or treatment, while we get sicker and continue practicing our habits and passing them on to our children and encouraging them amongst our peers. It’s a tragic cycle that begins with suffering and ends with suffering.

In our state of suffering we excuse the horrific practice of performing drug tests and medical experiments on living animals. We claim that it is a necessary evil, that it will benefit humanity, that fewer people will have to suffer. Even if that were all true I still believe testing on anyone–human or nonhuman–without their consent is deeply wrong.* But these claims are false. If more people are getting sicker, if more people are spending more of their savings managing chronic illness, if our country is spending more money on researching and treating preventible diseases, we cannot possibly argue we are creating less suffering. Our infliction of needless suffering on animals has caused us to suffer needlessly as well.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
-Albert Einstein
Cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, stroke and many other diseases are much easier and less expensive to prevent than to treat. That’s not to say no attention should be paid to alleviating the suffering of those already ill, but if we don’t want to bankrupt our country and our families, if we want to see fewer of our loved ones suffer and die needlessly, and if we want to be the ones in control of our own health, then I think we must give prevention more of a voice. It’s the only way to stop this madness.
Go to the US National Library of Medicine/National Institute of Health’s online search page here and search “fruits vegetables heart disease” or “fruits vegetables cancer” or “fruits vegetables” and any other major disease and the studies you’ll find say the same thing: fruits and vegetables help prevent chronic disease. (I highly recommend reading Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. I am currently reading this book for the second time and I just cannot emphasize how valuable it is.)
What would be the best thing to eat to promote good health and disease prevention for breakfast? You guessed it, fruits and vegetables! Robert and I love green breakfast smoothies because they are easy to prepare, loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals, and so so so tasty. (Note: For those of you wary of drinking something that tastes “too green” (I get it, I used to feel this way too), rest assured that dates and bananas are a great addition to smoothies because their sweetness really masks the “green” flavor that some find difficult to adjust to initially.)
Here’s our current favorite:
1 large handful of spinach
1/2 – 1 banana
1/2 apple
2 dates
1-2 scoops almond butter
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
2 cups almond or soy milk
(Other things we like to add in or swap: kale, blueberries, carrots, oats, canned pumpkin)
1. Mix in a blender till smooth. Drink and feel good!

* Animal research is a multi-billion dollar industry in which for-profit commercial interests have high stakes. This is one of the major reasons why the use of animals not only continues, but also is fiercely defended despite obvious limitations, angers, and the reality that it may not help our battle against human diseases, and might actually hinder it. As an example of such financial motivation for its continuance, consider for example that in 2010, The Jackson Laboratory– “a leading mammalian genetics research center– sold 2.9 million mice for a profit of $98.7 million. Investment n the procurement, handling, and upkeep of animals for labs is a highly lucrative enterprise for animal importers, breeders, dealers, cage and equipment manufacturers, feed producers, and drug companies. (See NEAVS for more information.)

If you really want to torture yourself and see just how much money we’re currently spending on researching cures for preventible diseases, see this NIH price listAlso, please see the links I used within the article.

Breakfast, Essential Fats, Fruit, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Plant Proteins, Sweets

Black Bean Brownies!


I know these sound a little weird, but trust me, they are THE. BEST. Because black beans have a neutral flavor they essentially function as the flour in this recipe. I’ve started eating them every day with my green breakfast smoothie.
Yes, I eat brownies every day. Don’t judge.
Besides the semi-sweet chocolate chips, these brownies have no processed sugar and are instead sweetened with dates, stevia, and a banana. Black beans are high in protein; an excellent source of folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and thiamin; and they are rich in dietary fiber. Unsweetened cocoa powder also provides protein, fiber, phosphorous, magnesium, and manganese as well as riboflavin, zinc, iron, potassium, and copper.
So, YEAH, I eat brownies every day.
Many of the black bean brownies recipes I’ve found use oil; however, I prefer to use water and don’t really notice a difference in texture. These brownies are more fudgey than cakie, which I like, but if you prefer cakie just add less water. I recommend using your own soaked, cooked, and drained black beans rather than canned beans to avoid excess water. (I used canned beans recently while visiting my in-laws down South and it resulted in a soupy batter. This was unfortunate as they were already skeptical enough about trying my crazy vegan brownies with beans so I was disappointed I made a batch that didn’t live up to their usual mouthwatering goodness. Arg! Regrets!!) If you refuse to heed my wise advice, then at least fully drain the liquid from the cans and maybe ease up on the amount of water you add. Also, be sure the cans say “no added salt.”
While I personally don’t want to mess with perfection, these would certainly also be good with some nuts like pecans and walnuts. Enjoy!!

4 cups black beans
1 banana
15 medjool dates
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup water
1 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips* (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a glass baking dish with parchment paper.
2. Put all the ingredients except the chocolate chips into a food processor. Pulse until creamy.
3. Spread the batter into pan and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly on top.
4. Cook for 35-45 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean(-ish) after inserting. Don’t cook more than 50 minutes even if your knife comes out with batter. Just remove pan from stove and allow it to cool completely. Store in the fridge.

* Chocolate IS vegan! After all, cocoa comes from a bean. However, many lower quality chocolate companies add non-vegan ingredients like milk and milk fat. Higher quality dark chocolate chips are often vegan even if they don’t announce it on the package. They’ll be made with pure, simple ingredients: cocoa, cocoa butter, lecithin, sugar, and sometimes vanilla. So just check the back and read the ingredients. Here’s some more info from Food Empowerment Project on vegan chocolate that’s also slavery-free.

Autumn, Essential Fats, Gluten-Free, Holiday, Sweets

Pumpkin Pie with Rustic Pecan Crust

     I am usually a pecan pie person but Robert and his brother Clint (yes, we had a guest this year!) said they preferred pumpkin so I decided to make that. Well, I am SO glad I did because this pie was, hands down, the biggest hit of our 2012 Thanksgiving. The pumpkin filling had lots of great spices, including cloves, which gave it an extra kick (as well as a slightly darker color than your typical pumpkin pie). Robert describes the pie as “exciting” (high praise indeed, as this man does not easily excite) and says he preferred its flavor to any other pumpkin pie he’s ever had (that’s basically the equivalent of a standing ovation).
     My favorite aspect was the crunchy, gluten-free pecan crust. I know I bought all its ingredients from the co-op across the street but it really felt like they were gathered from the forest near my imaginary log cabin. Earthy, crunchy, woodsy, rustic… this crust was was all of the above. We enjoyed it for dessert and breakfast, and it will definitely be on the menu next year.
     P.S. I recommend making it the day before, which actually makes things easier because it’s one less thing to do on the big day.

1 cup rolled oats, processed into a fine flour (or 1 cup oat flour)
2 cups raw pecans
3 tbsp ground flax
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
2 tbsp canola oil
2 1/4 cups canned pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch pie pan.
2. In a food processor, process pecans until they begin to clump and oils start to release, approximately 30 seconds. You want them to stay chunky, not turn into butter. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Mix canola oil and brown rice syrup together . Pour into bowl with pecans dough. Add the rest of the crust ingredients and mix together. Using your hands, squeeze the dough over and over to combine very well. If too dry, add more canola oil.
4. Press pecan dough firmly into pie dish to form a crust. Pre-bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and arrowroot powder or cornstarch.
6. Add remaining ingredients and whisk together, adjusting spices to taste.
7. Pour the filing onto crust. Cover with tin foil and bake for 50-55 minutes at 350 degrees. Place on a cooling rack for 1 hour.
8. Transfer to fridge to set for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight (this is a must!). Do not slice until it’s been in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Slice with a very sharp knife and enjoy every bite!

Autumn, Calcium Sources, Casseroles & Lasagnas, Entrees, Essential Fats, Gluten-Free, Holiday, Oil-Free, Plant Proteins, Vegetables

Eggplant Rollatini


I don’t like to do taste tests while I’m cooking when I follow a recipe for the first time. I prefer to wait till the dish is complete to assess and then make notes in my cookbook if necessary. The first time I was cooking this dish, though, I took a little spoonful of the filling just before I put it in the oven and was totally impressed. (To think I had only picked this dish out because I like eggplant!) The tahini makes the filling so deliciously rich and creamy. The finished result is even better with a sauce that has just the right amount of sweetness and tang. The ingredients are so clean and simple but they come together in a way that truly surprised me. The only note I made for this was to double it for next time!

2 eggplants
3 cups cooked lentils
1 tbsp miso paste
3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp fresh minced oregano
2 tbsp fresh minced basil
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1/4 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 date
2 tbsp shallot, minced

1. Cut off the ends of the eggplants. With flat end down on the cutting board, slice into 1/4-inch strips.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lay the eggplant strips flat on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and then set aside until cool enough to handle.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together all the remaining filling ingredients. Set aside.
4. Blend all the sauce ingredients together in a blender until fully combined.
5. Spread 1 cup of the sauce on a baking dish. On a separate work surface lay each eggplant strip flat and spread 1 heaping tablespoon of filling (though if you like your rollatini thick there’s no need to hold back!). Roll up into a cylinder and and place atop of the bed of sauce.
6. Pour the remaining sauce on top and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, until heated through and the sauce is bubbly.

Source: Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier

Breakfast, Calcium Sources, Essential Fats, Fruit, Gluten-Free, Holiday, Plant Proteins, Sides, Sweets, Vegetables, Whole Grains

July 4th Vegan Breakfast-for-Dinner!

     Robert’s brother, Clint, came to visit us at our new place in Boston over July 4th and had the excellent idea to celebrate the holiday with breakfast for dinner. I loved this idea because it allowed us to serve up lots of American classics with our own stamp of independence (read: everything was vegan). Another huge plus was that all our banging around in the kitchen and chatter drowned out most of the fireworks so Gubie had his very first non-suicidal July 4th. A revolutionary evening indeed!
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1/3 cup spelt flour
1 tablespoon oat flour
1 tablespoon brown rice flour
1 1/4 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon unrefined sugar
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon flax eggs (a fantastic egg substitute: place 2 parts warm water and 1 part ground flax seeds in a blender and blend at high speed for about a minute or until the mixture becomes gelatinous. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)
1. To make the quinoa, first toast quinoa on a dry pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 18-20 minutes until quinoa is fluffy.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and get out a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the corn, cornmeal, flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the soy milk, maple syrup, applesauce, and flax eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir well to combine. Stir in the cooked quinoa. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
1 1/4 cups sifted unbleached white or spelt flour (for gluten-free, use oat flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons unrefined sugar
3/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons flax eggs (see corn bread recipe for instructions) dissolved in 1 tablespoon soy milk
1 3/4 cups soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for cooking the pancakes
maple syrup (optional)
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the dissolved flax eggs, soy milk, vanilla extract, and oil. Mix ingredients from both bowls together, stirring well to combine.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat some oil. Drop large spoonfuls of batter onto the skillet, leaving room for the pancakes to expand. Cook until the bottoms are golden and bubbles are popping on the surface, about 2-3 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until golden. Repeat, using up all the batter.

I used Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s tempeh bacon recipe and used the remaining marinade to saute the greens. We served our homemade ketchup with the hash browns. Here’s the recipe for the hash browns:
3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, grated
3 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add the grated potatoes in loose patties or piles, no more than a half inch think. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. After a few minutes, check the underside for doneness. Once they are golden brown, use a large spatula to flip the patty and fry till golden brown on the other side. Repeat with all patties.
For this recipe I added blueberry frosting and fresh strawberries to my raw vegan cheesecake. Here’s the recipe for the frosting:
1 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked overnight
1 cup water
4 tablespoons agave syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup blueberries
1. Pulse the cashews in a food processor until crumbly. Add the water, agave, and vanilla and blend until smooth. With the food processor running, stream the coconut oil in through the top until combined. Add blueberries and puree till smooth.
2. Spread on top of the cheesecake with a spatula before putting in the freezer as instructed.