Have you ever had ricotta toast? It’s a simple recipe with lots of variations. It all starts with a slice of quality fresh bread, a delicious dollop of ricotta cheese, and a range of topping options. You can make sweet and savory ricotta toast, from burst tomatoes with basil to fig jam with pistachios and rosemary.
This recipe is one of my favorites, topped with charred broccoli and red pepper flakes! Simple, but delicous. I made mine in our pizza oven to give it a slightly smoky and sweet taste! If using the pizza oven, be sure to have the fire scorching and a stone warming in the oven. I slid my toasts off onto the hot stone using a pizza peel. I used oven-proof gloves and bbq tongs to remove each slice vs. trying to use the peel to remove them. Trust me; this is the easiest way!
The cheese was perfectly melted, the broccoli was lightly caramelized, and the toasts were crisp on the outside but still soft and chewy on the inside! I had to wrap them up so I wouldn’t eat them all!
If you make them tag me and let me know how you like them! You can also drizzle with some agave nectar to finish them off!
Before all of the wonderful plant-based products on the shelf these days, if I wanted ricotta cheese, I had to make it myself. It was one of the recipes that I learned how to make in culinary school.
Lately, the cost of my favorite ricotta has gone from reasonable to ridiculous. I just cannot pay nearly $10.00 for an 8 oz container of ricotta when I can easily make it for half the price. If you don’t have a food processor, do not fret! You can easily make it the old-fashioned way in a bowl and mash the tofu with a fork.
I love it as a spread on toast with fresh or roasted veggies! It’s terrific for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Frankly, the possibilities are endless!
This tofu ricotta is easy to assemble and tastes much like milk-based ricotta! You can also add fresh herbs like basil or oregano. Add 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin and some fresh nutmeg, and make my stuffed shells!
I love these Collard Wraps wraps! And since I’m already slicing and dicing, I typically double the recipe and use the extra filling for salads or buddha bowls. I am also re-committing to a 100% gluten-free diet. Therefore, I decided to use greens instead of a traditional grain wrap.
In case you didn’t know, collard green belongs to the same family as kale, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy. Collard greens are nutrient-dense and low in calories. They’re an excellent source of calcium, folate, and vitamins K, C, and A. Furthermore, they’re high in fiber and antioxidants.
These veggie wraps are packed with high-quality protein, thanks to the quinoa. This naturally gluten-free grain is considered a superfood because it’s a powerhouse of nutrition. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and lends seven grams of hearty protein per serving. I made hummus with quinoa because it seemed like a good pairing! Here are some quick tips for cooking quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).
Rinse the quinoa. I usually only do this with other grains, like rice. But it is 100% necessary when cooking quinoa from scratch. You run the risk of having crunchy quinoa if you don’t.
Cooking the quinoa in vegetable broth gives it much more flavor.
Modify the recipe to your liking by using the vegetables of your choice. I suggest using sliced tomatoes instead of the red pepper, swapping kale for the spinach, or adding a few crisp radishes. And vegan feta instead of avocado also gives it a delicious creamy bite! The best part, though, is the Thai Peanut Sauce!
Substitute any veggies you have on hand, such as sun-dried tomatoes, red peppers, spinach or romaine lettuce.
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1–2 carrots, julienned or cut into thin strips
1 English cucumber, diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cut into long strips
2–4 green onions, cut lengthwise (green part only)
1/4 head purple cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup sprouts or microgreens
1/2 cup quinoa hummus
1/4 cup cilantro, spinach, Thai basil, and/or mint, chopped
4 large collard leaves
Wash and dry collard leaves.
Cut the stem off the collard green leaf and then carefully shave it down using a small knife so it’s flat. This will help prevent the collard leaf from breaking at the end and make it easier to roll up.
Add water to a large pot and bring to a boil.
Add 1 Collard leaf to the simmering water, gently holding the leaf down with tongs so the leaf is submerged.
Simmer each leaf for 30-60 seconds. Don’t go any longer, or the leaf will become more flimsy and tend to rip.
Remove the leaf and immediately place it in a bowl of iced water.
Submerge the leaf for 10 seconds in an ice bath.
Remove and place on paper towels to dry.
To assemble wraps, lay collard on a flat surface and place quinoa hummus in the first half of the wrap.
Add ingredients based on the size of the collard leaf, being careful not to overfill. A good rule of thumb is about 1-2″ inches wide.
Carefully wrap it using the tuck and roll method like a burrito. (There are some excellent YouTube videos out there!)
Continue until all collards are filled.
Always place all the filling in the tortilla’s first half, closest to your hand, not the center. That way, you have more surface area to cover the filling.
Growing up in a southern family, eating black-eyed peas was a part of every Sunday meal at our house. I don’t remember, but I’m sure Grandma opened a can of beans, threw in a ham bone, added some salt, and called it dinner! My recipe has evolved over the years, and this one is my favorite! This vegan version pays homage to my New Orleans side of the family, and its creole influence lends a rich, creamy, and super-smoky deliciousness!
Though called a pea, black-eyed peas are a variety of cowpea and are technically a bean. In the South, this dish is referred to as Hoppin’ John, and while a traditional Hoppin’ John is made with bacon, a ham hock, or fatback, this vegan version uses liquid smoke.
It is customary to make black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck and prosperity for the New Year in southern culture. Served with greens (collards, mustard, or turnip greens, which vary regionally), the peas represent coins, and the greens represent paper money. Cornbread is often served with black-eyed peas and greens, representing gold.
Serve over rice with a piece of cornbread, and enjoy! Oh, and don’t forget the hot sauce!
I like to use dried beans because most canned black-eyed peas are simmered in a ham broth. Or they contain Disodium EDTA, which is a preservative used to promote color retention. It is synthesized from ethylenediamine, formaldehyde, and sodium cyanide. EEK! But you can use canned beans in a pinch, or if you don’t want to wait! When I used canned beans of any kind, I like to use the Eden Organic brand.
Rinse dried black-eyed pea beans, pick through and discard any debris or bad beans. Add beans to a stockpot and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Cover and let sit for 1-2 hours.
Warm a large, heavy skillet (I use cast iron), add 2 tbsp oil. When the oil is shimmering, add onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and jalapeños, sauté the mixture for 3-5 minutes. Add voodoo seasoning mix. Sauté until mixture has softened, about 3 minutes.
Add vegetable stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and bay leaf.
Drain the soaked beans, rinse, and add the beans to the pot.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
At this point, if using, add collard greens, and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally,
Cook until beans are tender and slightly thickened.
Add more stock or water if the mixture becomes dry and thick. The texture of the beans should be thick, somewhat creamy but not watery.
Remove the bay leaves.
Taste and adjust for seasonings with pepper, seasoning, and salt if needed. Serve over cooked rice and garnish with green onion.
Making cookies and candy around the holidays always puts me in the best mood! It also reminds me of being a kid. Back then, I cut out sugar cookies and made those green cornflake wreaths with red hots. Remember those? I mostly loved being in the kitchen with my mom and my brother and listening to my mom sing Christmas carols.
We each had our cookie job, and my mom’s job was to make my dad a dozen or two of his mother’s rum truffles. My brother and I were never allowed to have any (although we managed to sneak one or two without any notice), so my mom would make us some sans the rum! They were delicious and usually gone within a day or two!
1 1/3 cup vegan white chocolate (for coating truffles)
Shredded Coconut, White Nonpareils, or Sparkling Sugar
To make the truffle mixture:
To make the basic truffle mix, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a glass dish over boiling water. Stirring constantly.
Remove dish from the heat and whisk in coconut milk, maple syrup and sea salt.
Divide the mixture into 3 bowls, one for each of the flavors.
For the chocolate orange truffles add the orange essence. Mix well.
For the dark chocolate raspberry truffles add dark rum and raspberry essence. Mix well.
For the vanilla truffles, add the vanilla essence. Mix well.
Put all three bowls in the fridge for at least 5 hours to fully firm up.
After the truffle mixes are firm, use a teaspoon to spoon out mixture and roll in your hands to make small balls, about half the size of golf balls.
Set out the truffles on parchment lined baking pans. Just make sure you know which flavor is which. Freeze for at least 3 hours.
In a glass bowl over boiling water, melt chocolate to cover the truffles in.
For the orange truffles, and the raspberry truffles melt the dark chocolate. For the vanilla truffles, melt white chocolate.
I like to use this chocolate dipping tool, but you can also use a fork. Dip truffles one by one into the melted chocolate, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Immediately decorate each truffle, while the chocolate is still melted.
For the orange chocolates, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and orange zest, or edible gold dust powder. You can also add two thin slices of candied orange across the top. For raspberry truffles, dust in cocoa powder and ground dried raspberries. For vanilla truffles, sprinkle with coconut or white sparkling sugar (blue sanding sugar is also very pretty).
Put all covered and decorated truffles in the fridge for an hour or so to set. Then they can be served.
The truffles will last in an air tight container the fridge for 2-3 weeks. They can also be frozen.
Sometimes when the inspiration hits, I go a little crazy in the kitchen. It is the most wonderful feeling not to follow a recipe and just go where your crisper drawer takes you. This last weekend I had a lot of root veggies begging to be used. I also went to Whole Foods and found a fantastic variety of products I couldn’t get at my local grocery store. My favorite was the bunch of dandelion greens!
I had just made a quiche with a so-so potato crust that, unfortunately, stuck to the bottom of the pan. Root vegetables are high in starch, and when cooked, they slowly release sugar, and the sugar makes them sticky. After thinking about it for a bit, I tried cooking the potato crust very quickly, not giving them time to stick. Hence, the broiler! And guess what? It worked!
For this recipe, I used parsnips (the carrot’s favorite cousin), turnips, which, if you’ve never had them, I highly recommend getting some, and Yukon gold potatoes. I grated one large and one small turnip and three Yukons for my crust and added 1/2 cup grated vegan Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons of melted butter, and 1 teaspoon of Herbs de Provence. I broiled it in my 2.5 quart French Corningware for 8-10 minutes. But as with all things broiler, keep an eye on it. You want the potatoes very lightly browned.
For the filling, I made coconut bacon out of vegan bacon-flavored oil. Now, most of you won’t be able to find that, so here’s a quick link to Minimalist Baker’s quick and easy coconut bacon. I would suggest making this ahead of time. It stores well, and it’s nice to have on hand.
Finally, I peeled my potatoes. For this delicate and tender dish, I did not want the potato peel in my dish. And sometimes, when you simmer potatoes with the skins on, they fall off anyway. I like the Yukon golds for this dish because they are a little more dense and creamy!
Let me know if you made this dish and how you liked it!
1 bunch of tender greens (dandelion, spinach. watercress), washed.
In a 2.5″ deep casserole dish, add grated potatoes and grated turnips, parmesan cheese, and melted butter. Mix well and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence.
Carefully place the casserole dish in the broiler and bake for 8-10 minutes. As with all things broiled, keep a close eye on it. You want a light golden brown color. When done, remove from heat and set aside.
Reduce heat to 350°F (176°C).
While the casserole is in the oven, warm a medium skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and when shimmering, add onion and poblano peppers and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onions and peppers have softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add diced potatoes, turnips, and parsnips. Add the remaining teaspoon of Herbs de Provence.
Add stock. Cover and simmer on medium-low until root vegetables have softened, about 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more stock if vegetables begin to stick. When done, remove from heat.
While root vegetables are cooking, add 4 cups of water to a medium saucepan. Add salt and bring to a boil. Blanch greens in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes. Remove greens from the pan, and immediately add to greens to an ice bath.
Remove greens and add to a colander to remove excess water. Chop greens into bite-size pieces.
Warm a dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil and, when shimmering, coconut bacon. Add greens and saute until greens have released all water, about 4 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, add greens and root vegetable mixture and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Shake and add 1 1/2 containers of JustEgg and add to the mixing bowl. Mix well.
Pour vegetable mixture over potato crust and add to oven.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. Test with a toothpick at 35 minutes. If it comes out clean, it’s done.
Serve with tabasco or other hot sauce!
*To prevent food borne illnesses, always wash your fruits and vegetables even if you’re peeling them. Germs on the peel or skin can get inside fruits and vegetables when you cut them.
Autumn is my favorite time of year for many reasons. I love the cool reprieve from summer, the incredible display of vibrant colors just before the leaves “fall,” and last but not least, the food! I’m not going to lie; soups, chili, and other warm foods make my heart and tummy happy! Not only is this soup good, it’s also good for you!
It is loaded with “warming spices,” (cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, cardamom, turmeric, and cayenne pepper) which have been used for thousands of years. These spices can increase your internal body temperature and improve blood circulation, thus giving you a sense of warmth during the chilly winter months. They have been used for multiple reasons, from cooking and baking to medicine and herbal remedies.
The anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties of turmeric protect us from various infections, including the common cold, flu, and other respiratory illnesses. And Ginger root comes from the Zingiber officinale plant, which has been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands of years. Ginger is high in gingerol, a potent anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant substance. Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants.
The recipe makes 4-6 servings. You may want to double the recipe. I had to double the quantities for my family because everyone went back for seconds, and there were no leftovers! Also, it keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week!
As always, if you make it, tag me and let me know how you like it!
If you love a creamy, hearty, flavor-packed bowl of soup, this carrot soup recipe is for you! The warming spices, coupled with garlic, and fresh ginger have the capability to increase your internal body temperature and improve blood circulation, thus giving you a sense of warmth during the chilly winter months.
3–4tablespoons vegan butter, or olive oil
1medium onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices (@5–6 large carrots, 8–10 medium)
1 1/2teaspoons peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 1/2teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2teaspoons ground turmeric
11/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
4Tablespoonsred Thai curry paste
3 1/2cups low sodium vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro or parsley, minced (garnish)
Sourdough croutons (garnish)
Heat butter in a dutch oven over medium-heat until the foam subsides. If using oil, heat until oil is translucent. Add onions, sprinkle with salt, and stir to coat. Add carrots, ginger, and all spices. Stir and cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and curry paste, and cook for about 1 minute.
Add the stock; add enough liquid should cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-low heat and cover, cooking until the carrots are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Be sure to test the thickest one to ensure it’s cooked through.
If you have an immersion blender, purée the soup in the pot. If not, wait until the soup cools slightly, and purée in a blender. Be sure to hold the lid of the blender with a kitchen towel. *A hot liquid at high speed is volatile, and the lid can fly off.
Return the mixture to the dutch oven and add coconut milk and lime juice.
Adjust the seasonings (depending on your stock, you may need more or less salt) and lime juice to taste.
Garnish, serve, and enjoy!
*I added more salt, pepper, and coriander at the end.
Greetings! A few weeks ago, I was asked to create vegan, gluten-free, nut-free meals for a woman and her family of five. One of the trickiest recipes to make vegan and nut-free is cheese! Cashews and almonds are a staple in most plant-based cheeses! This one uses flour and is like a béchamel but with nutritional yeast and seasonings. I like this recipe because it can be as thick or as thin as you want.
If you want a dip, skip the stock, or at least don’t use as much of it. Use all the stock if you want it thin for a drizzle on enchiladas or nachos. It makes an excellent base for a broccoli cheddar soup, too! I like it atop my veggie scramble!
I made this gluten-free using a 1:1 gluten-free flour. If you have no aversions to regular wheat flour, go for it! I am one of the unlucky 5% of people with a true wheat allergy (like hay fever) and a gluten allergy. Gluten is a super sticky protein and very inflammatory for some of us.
I added green Tabasco to mine, and the dip was gone within a few hours! Green Tabasco is a milder version of regular Tabasco, and I use it on everything, including popcorn! Anyway, enjoy this recipe! It’s a good one! And, as always, when you make it, tag me and let me know how you liked it!
When he was three years old, my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s, a variant on the autism spectrum. By the time he was five, I had read everything I could get my hands on about what they (at the time) referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome. “A syndrome is a recognizable complex set of symptoms and physical findings which indicate a specific condition for which a direct cause is not necessarily understood.” Though I suspect there is a direct correlation between agent orange exposure in Vietnam War veterans and the rise in Autism among their grandchildren.
Asperger’s is generally marked by:
Fixation on Particular Subjects or Ideas.
Problems Processing Physical Sensations.
Devotion to Routines.
Development of Repetitive or Restrictive Habits.
Dislike of Change.
There also tends to be a co-morbidity between mood disorders like anxiety and depression and behavior disorders like attention deficit disorder (ADD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). And please note, in this context, the word behavior is defined as a particular way of functioning (i.e., can’t focus) versus how a person chooses to conduct themselves.
When Covid hit and schools closed, I became Jason’s teacher. I then realized how far behind he was academically. Unfortunately, he is not only cognitively impaired but also socially impaired. And because of it, he was being bullied at school.
He often ate alone at lunch (he later told me it was easier because he didn’t have to worry about what to say). He likes quoting Francis Ford Coppola movies (Apocalypse Now is his favorite movie) and telling you the specifics of various World War 2 military battles. And let me tell you, those are not exactly great 6th-grade conversation starters.
And then, one day, a girl asked him if he’d be her boyfriend. I knew this girl and his troubles with her in the past. I warned him, but he was thrilled. And when he said yes, she proceeded to mock him and joke to everyone that he would never stand a chance. As his mom, this hurt, of course, but I also believe in getting hard knocks out of the way early. The school handled the situation remarkably, and Jason learned fundamental lessons about the human condition.
I kept him home for the next two years and became the county’s least-paid full-time middle school teacher. And that’s when I realized how bad his attention deficit disorder was. Not being able to focus also caused us a lot of anxiety. But he also comes by his inability to concentrate, rightfully. I could’ve had this piece written in two hours, but I got up at least 12 different times to do 12 other things. The squirrels in my head are also fast! But I don’t like labels and told Jason that if he can harness his ADD, it can be his superpower.
We got ahead in school because we could stay with a topic until he “got” it. But I knew that was not possible in high school, where they covered a subject and moved on. I had held off on medicating him but knew his ability to focus was critical to his success. So, we did it, and he started meds over the summer. And academically, he’s doing great!
Thankfully we stopped his moodiness and outbursts when he was little with no meds needed. I read about the correlation between food and Autism and removed all dairy (specifically the casein protein) and gluten from his diet. There is a direct correlation between the severity of symptoms and these sticky proteins.
Anyway, high school has been great. He is good in math and bad (but getting better) with girls. He is also taking medication for anxiety (which he also gets from me) and for ADD. His grades are good, and he genuinely seems to be happy. Still, when he told me he had put his name in the ring for Homecoming court, my first thought was, “Aw, crap.”
My oldest, who loves her brother and wants nothing more than to protect him, pleaded with me to convince him not to run. But I told her that was not possible. He was way too excited. My only warning was to run a fair and well-mannered TikTok war with his opponent!
And guess what? He won and was elected to the freshman homecoming court. It turns out they were right. You are free to be yourself in high school, and nobody cares. Before he started high school this fall, he nobly reached out to the kids he had issues with in middle school and apologized. Those same kids have grown to know and embrace Jason and were instrumental in getting him the homecoming sash.
If I had discouraged him from running, I could have robbed him of his success, of getting the win. And what a shame that would’ve been. He came up to me after this picture was taken and told me it was the best night of his life! That made this momma smile and even cried a little.
We are in the season of all things pumpkin. I have friends who are rebelling and refuse to buy into the hype. Haters gonna hate. But as for me, I dive in headfirst! There is a reason everyone loves pumpkins! But unfortunately, it’s not for the autumnal gourds themselves, but for the spices that usually accompany them!
“Those associations, they form year after year. They also give us this sense of familiarity,” Fischer said. “And when you start to smell the pumpkin spice things in the stores again, it gives you a little feeling of nostalgia.”
Whatever the case, the smell of these muffins baking in the oven will evoke warm fuzzies! They are gluten-free, too! I used a 1:1 Gluten Free Flour mix and had excellent results. Just be sure it has xanthan gum, which helps bind the muffins, taking the place of gluten in the flour.
I also used brown sugar instead of white sugar and a pumpkin spice mix that I made myself. If you have ripe bananas, you can use them instead of egg substitutes. I did not have any on hand, so I used 1/2 cup of Just Egg, and it worked perfectly. You can also use 2 flax eggs if you prefer.
Who doesn’t love chocolate pumpkin muffins? These light and tasty treats are perfect for breakfast, or for an after school snack!
2 cups gluten free all purpose flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose flour)
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar (makes them moist and less dense)
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 super ripe bananas, or 1/2 cup Just Egg* ( See note)
2/3 cup organic canned pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dairy free vegan chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177° C)
Lightly grease your muffin tins or use muffin liners.
In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and the oil. Add the mashed banana or Just Egg to the sugar mixture. Add canned pumpkin, and vanilla. When mixed well, fold in the chocolate chips.
Finally, add the flour, and mix everything well.
Evenly pour the batter into the muffin tins. Place in the oven for about 18-20 minutes if using GF flour. If using regular all-purpose flour, test at 20 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick comes out clean. If needed add more time ( 2-3 minutes at a time).
To me, this vegan Potato Leek soup is the ultimate comfort food. I make it several times a year, and it never gets old. I have modified it over the years for several reasons.
First, I switched out russets for Yukon gold potatoes. Yukon’s are buttery and creamy, whereas russets are a little more flowery and neutral in flavor. Second, I use coconut milk instead of soy or oat milk. The full-fat coconut milk gives it a creamy thickness that I love in soup. Regular plant-based milk made it too runny. This soup is meant to stick to your bones!
Finally, I started using a few more of the Provencal herbs instead of just rosemary and thyme. You can buy Herbes de Provence pre-made, or if you’re a spice lover like me, you can make your own. This simple blend includes thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf. You can use it on just about anything too! I love it on avocado toast!
Savory is a rarely used provincial herb. It is in the mint family and is what makes the herb blend so wonderful, in my opinion! Feel free to use what you have on hand, but if you have some mint, I recommend adding just a pinch or two!
3 medium leeks, washed and sliced into 1/4″ rings (white and light green parts only)
2 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cubed 1/2 inch (peeled or with skin on)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme and rosemary, or Herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
4cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
1–2tablespoonsfresh lemon juice
1/4cup chopped chives, to garnish
Vegan sour cream (optional garnish)
Make sure leeks are washed well first. (see note)
Heat the oil, butter, and a pinch of salt in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks, and sauté until softened, about 5-6 minutes.
Add garlic and herbs. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add the potatoes, vegetable broth, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Increase heat until soup beings to simmer. When it simmers, reduce heat to low and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.
Remove from heat and remove bay leaves. Stir in the coconut milk and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning.
Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth and creamy. You can also use a regular blender and carefully blend half the soup. (Only fill the blender 1/3-1/2 full, and using a towel hold the lid of the blender in place).
Add blended soup back to the dutch oven and stir well.
Serve in soup bowls and top with chopped green chives, sour cream if using, fresh ground pepper.
*To clean leeks, cut off the root end and slice off the green part. Cut the leek in half length-wise. Cut into thin strips about 1/4″ thick. Too thin, and they can burn. Add to a bowl of water, and using your hands, sift the leeks through the water. All the dirt will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Remove leeks from the water, and they’re ready to use!
Fall is my favorite time of year! I love all things autumn, including the reprieve of cooler weather! Cool-weather means warm food, and this soup is a family favorite! I always keep the queso dip around, so for me, this whole meal is on the table in 25 minutes! No dairy and no oil. This soup is better for you than Panera and tastes just as good. You can also add a diced potato to this recipe and make a yummy broccoli potato soup! I hope you enjoy it!
Fall is my favorite time of year! I love all things autumn, including the reprieve of cooler weather! Cool-weather means warm food, and this soup is a family favorite! I always keep the queso dip around, so for me, this whole meal is on the table in 25 minutes! No dairy and no oil. This soup is better for you than Panera and tastes just as good. You can also add a diced potato to this recipe and make a yummy broccoli potato soup! I hope you enjoy it!
One of my “favorite book” recommendations is a book that I used to gift to my health coaching clients. It is called “The Mindful Diet How to Transform your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health (Wolver, Ruth, et al.,2015). The cover is a little tattered and torn, but no worse for wear, as they say! Deeply rooted in Psychology, I like it because it helps you understand your relationship with yourself–from many angles. And we, the readers, are gifted with tools and easy ways to create sustainable changes for a healthy life.
I am on day 4 of a 7-day detox, in which the first two days are an herbal liquid fast. When you don’t eat for 68 hours, it’s an easy way to understand and know your cravings! You can even write them down if you want. It’s an excellent way to check in with ourselves.
During this time of fasting, I realized that I had ebbed away from the things that brought me actual physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. I know how I feel when I take care of myself in all those ways, And I also know what it feels like to neglect myself in those ways. Holistic health is the Tao of Happiness!
I have also decided to give up alcohol for the time being, if not forever. And not just because it’s awful for my body. My reflux and weight gain are directly correlated to my alcohol consumption. But I am rebelling against our cultural love of alcohol. Alcohol is poison. It is not medicine. Though I believe many people use it that way. It numbs, but it’s also death to more than just brain cells. I know someone in a coma RIGHT NOW because of a drunk driving incident.I saw a great quote: “Alcohol is the only drug that if you DON’T do it, people assume you have a problem. Now, that’s a problem. But it’s everywhere. EVERYWHERE!
And I want to fall in love with good nutrition again because guess what? It can also taste good! That idea is what made me want to become a professional chef. I also know that I want to eat good food and not just eat what tastes good. Oreos are vegan! And guess what? Our healthy tastebuds have been hijacked!
Our entire understanding of what to eat has been conflated and confused. We are disconnected between what goes in and what comes out of us! But no wonder we have commercials for “Arby’s—We got the meat.” The next damn commercial is for Lipitor or Viagra. I just read that the average 40-year-old takes two long-term prescription medications daily. It goes up A LOT the older we get. The number of pills my 82-year-old stepdad takes is staggering. Watch the documentary “Game Changers.”
Change is possible, but it is also incremental. One of the things that I always say is, “Think Evolution, not Revolution. Change takes practice. Like anything else, it takes a desire and effort, but pace yourself. I tend to take off quickly! Also, we need to get out of our way. My friend did the Hard 75. Her advice is, like Nike, “Just do it.” Hey, monkey mind, stop thinking about it and go do it already!
In psychology, we talk a lot about the mind all the time! But how many of us understand what it even is? Ha! Here’s a quick Psych 101 lesson. The first layer of our mind is the waking mind, also known as the chattery mind. It’s the always-thinking, mile-a-minute mind that likes to achieve satisfaction!
The second layer of our mind is our reactive mind. The “what do we do mind.” “Do I go home and fix dinner or run yourself through a drive-thru?” This is the judgmental mind that loops all of us! This mind can trick even the most experienced of us! “Eh, I’ll make dinner tomorrow night.”
And the third and final mind is the wise old owl mind. The mind simply does what it needs to do, even if it’s hard, because it knows it’s essential. It is also the practicing mind. Repetition and practice are what allow change to change us!
In effect, it is from this perspective that one can become a teaching mind. It takes discipline as well as desire to achieve “real” change. From now on, my hope is to share what I know. And I promise to practice what I teach. I love cooking. Food is life. But there is so much more to proper health and well-being than what we eat. Don’t worry. I’ll still share recipes because I will never stop cooking!
From this day forward, this space will be all-encompassing, holistic, and from a place of authenticity and selflessness. It’s not about me, yet it is about me. This is why I share my cooking videos, but I’m not in a bikini doing it! In fact, you’ll rarely see my face. I believe in plant medicine, and yes, I am pro-marijuana. I believe in moving and stretching the body, but I don’t think that has to be in a gym. I will explore topics in alternative medicine, psychology, and spirituality. I believe in a higher power. In practice, I am an omnist; I don’t believe there is one path to transcendence (though much of my practice is rooted in Buddhism), and I am not here to judge or deny anyone for their beliefs.
And as to the knowledge I share, I humbly say that most of what I know comes from standing on the shoulders of giants. Those brave souls paved the way for folks like you and me to know and grow! So you will often hear me reference doctors, researchers, educators, activists, mentors, and musicians. I will also share personal experiences and stories of my friends and me.
I am an ardent follower of people like Dr. Michael Greger, MD, Dr. Neal Barnard, MD, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.; and Dr. Stephen Cabral, ND.
I hope to impart wisdom and humor from great contemporaries like Maya Angelou and Matthew McConaughey (if you haven’t read his “Greenlights” book, ya gotta); and neuroscientist Andrew Huberman just to name a few.
Furthermore, I will reference activists like John Muir, Sierra Club, Peta…and THAT list goes on and on! Just a forewarning, tho, on the topics of animals and our planet, I’m going to be factual and blunt.
Finally, I encourage people to have reasonable, even heated, discussions! I am a very passionate person! And I love being in the scrum! But I will literally block people from my page if they cannot have a dignified and respectful conversation.
Helping others by helping ourselves is the best gift we can give the world.
It’s been a while! Hello everyone! I hope you had a wonderful summer! Mine was spent exactly how I envisioned it! I had lots of time in the water, spending time with loved ones and living my lazy best life! That said, I am ready for autumn! While I love living a Jeff Spicoli summer, “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine,” around this time every summer, the wheels start coming off the bus. So now that the kids are heading back to school next week and Kevin is gone for the week, I will have the house all to myself for the first time in years. Years.
I am in a creative mood and hope to get the ball rolling on some new recipes. I am still working on some recipes for my cookbook and improving my food photography skills. I have just shy of 100 recipes written and photographed. It’s a pet project that I have been working on and want to finish by next Spring! I am pretty sure this Mushroom Carnitas recipe will be in the book!
The book is divided into sections and will be called “Vegan Around the World!” Recipes like Mushroom Empanadas, Sweet Potato Galette, Vegan Faux Gras, Chickpea Aloo Gobi, and Cajun Gumbo are sure to have a taste for every palate!
I have also dedicated several recipes to friends and family. One of my favorite vegan chefs is Joanne Lee Molinaro. I love her stories and how she weaves her culture into her recipes. I hope to share some of my philosophies regarding veganism, sustainability, and the science of health for not only us humans but also the health of the planet. I would also like to share some of my culinary instructions and advice. As someone who’s been in the culinary world in one form or another since the early 1990s, I can offer some easy substitutions and suggestions and maybe expand your culinary knowledge!
So, without further ado, let’s get to it! This Mushroom Carnitas recipe is nearly perfect. What does that mean exactly? Well, it has precisely 12 ingredients, it’s ready in under 30 minutes, and it is so good you will want to make enough for seconds. Promise!
I used two kinds of mushrooms for this recipe. There is a lot of flexibility in the mouthfeel for whatever type of mushroom you fancy. I used half king oyster mushrooms and portobellos, but you could also use shitakes, lions mane, really just about anything other than the small white button mushrooms. You want a nice “shreddable” mushroom. With a nice dusting of spices like cardamom, cumin, orange zest, and Mexican oregano, the carnitas are oven roasted for about 15 minutes.
I like to keep it simple. Much like the shredded pork variety, I used onions, jalapenos, garlic, and orange juice. I also like the addition of the vegan Worcestershire sauce, and you could even use a tiny amount (1/8 tsp) of liquid smoke if you like.
The Violife vegan feta is an excellent substitution for Mexican Queso Fresco. Highly recommend it! Add some pickled red onions, avocado, and fresh cilantro, and call it a day, mis amigos!
Preheat the oven to 400°F. (220°C) Prepare a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Clean and shred the mushrooms. Slice off the mushroom caps (if using oyster or portobello mushrooms) and gently pull them apart with your fingers. I like them approximately about 1/2 wide and 2 inches long. The important thing here is to ensure they’re all the same size. Add the mushrooms to a large mixing bowl and toss with the spices. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil and toss well.
Transfer the mushrooms to the prepared baking sheet and spread them out in an even layer.
Bake mushrooms for approximately 15 minutes. Check the around the 12-minute mark. They are not heavily coated with oil and can burn if you’re not careful.
While mushrooms are in the oven, cook onions and jalapeno. Warm a medium-size skillet over medium heat. When the pan is heated, add the remaining olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add onion and jalapeno. Saute for 7-8 minutes, or until vegetables start to soften. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
When mushrooms are done, add to the skillet with the onions and jalapeno. Mix well. Return pan to medium heat, and once warm, add orange juice, orange zest, and Worcestershire sauce. Saute until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3-4 minutes.
While the mushrooms are cooking, warm a well-oiled comal or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. You can also lightly spray the tortillas with spray oil. Add tortillas and cook until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes per side.
While the mushrooms are done, remove them from heat.
Fill each taco with carnitas, and garnish with your favorite salsa, onion, avocado, and vegan feta!
This recipe is an oldie but goodie! It’s super easy and a perfect meal for summer. I love the mango salsa just by itself! Also, you can use butternut squash in place of the sweet potatoes, or papaya in place of the mango! The options are endless!
I have modified this amazing recipe because I am doing a Candida/Bacterial overgrowth protocol, and there are a lot of things I can’t have. However, this recipe came really close to checking off all the boxes and it is soooo good. But I must give all the credit to Food Faith Fitness for her mega talents in the kitchen! I’ve made a few modifications (chives for onions, cream of coconut for the full-fat coconut milk, and cut back on the oil).
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Michael Greger, MD, at a conference here in St. Louis. I had read his book, “How Not to Die,” and was delighted to hear him speak. One of the biggest takeaways was learning about a sulfur-rich compound called sulforaphane. Found in certain cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, sulforaphane is a powerful antioxidant that cancels out free radicals in the body and protects your DNA.
It has also been shown to reduce certain toxins, reduce inflammation, and provide protection from cancer, specifically breast cancer stem cells. It also protects against blood vessel damage in people with diabetes and lowers the levels of fat found in our blood.
The thing about sulforaphane is that it must be developed before being eaten. The easiest way to do that is to cut up your broccoli and let it sit for at least a half-hour before eating.
Chopping and exposing broccoli to the air allows it to activate the enzyme to promote sulforaphane. And if you’re not used to getting a lot of fiber in your diet, cutting up the broccoli and cauliflower makes it a bit easier to digest!
This dish is best served cold. It can easily be made the day before and it holds up quite well! It would also be a perfect dish for your Memorial Day weekend! As always tag me and let me know how you liked it!
Rich in antioxidants, fiber, and flavor, this salad is a delicious way to get all of your nutrients and would be the perfect item to bring to a summer gathering!
12 ounces small broccoli florets (about 5 cups)
6 ounces cauliflower florets
2 (14 oz.) cans chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup soaked cashews, drained or rinsed (or boiled for 10 minutes and rinsed) See Note
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 zucchini, diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, diced
3 tablespoons hemp seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
3 large fresh tarragon leaves, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1 ripe avocado, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1/2 tsp dried tarragon (optional, but recommended)
1 tsp salt and pepper
Make the dressing first and refrigerate.
Soak cashews overnight or boil for 10 minutes to soften. Drain and rinse.
Add all ingredients, including cashews, to a blender and mix well. If the dressing is too thick, you can add about 2 tablespoons of water at a time until it thins to your preference. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
Divide broccoli in half, and pulse each half until broccoli resembles small rice grains. Note – you do not want to pulse it all at once because you risk turning some of your broccoli into a paste.
Repeat with cauliflower.
In a large mixing bowl, add broccoli, cauliflower, and tarragon.Mix well. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Add dressing, mixing well—taste for seasoning. Adjust if necessary.
This dish is best served cold. The dressing or the entire salad can easily be made the day before. Don’t worry about the vegetables softening. It holds up quite nicely!
Cashews need to be softened. You can either soak them overnight or boil them on the stovetop for about 10 minutes or until cashews float to the top of the water.
This bowl is a family favorite! I love the tofu cutlets, and the BBQ makes it sooooo good! Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand. The great thing about a bowl is that there is no wrong way to make it! I love the Southwest flair this dish has, and it makes a perfect weeknight dish!
You can make the cilantro lime rice ahead of time, and it helps when you have several things cooking at once. I used a smoky-sweet Kansas City-style BBQ sauce, but again, it’s your preference! This dish would also be great with coleslaw instead of rice! You could also go Korean style with some Gochujang, black rice, and baked cauliflower! The possibilities are endless!
As always, tag me if you make it and let me know how you liked it!
1 (15 oz) can Pinto beans, drained and rinsed well
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1 head of organic broccoli
3 Tbsp water
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch of sea salt
Place the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Montreal Seasoning in a blender.
Blend at high speed for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
When tofu is pressed, pat dry and lay flat. Cut tofu in half widthwise. Cut each piece in half again, and repeat once more until you have eight rectangles.
Place tofu in a non-reactive, preferably glass pan or bowl with a lid. Add marinade and coat well.
Allow tofu to marinate for at least 30 minutes, (up to 4 hours).
While tofu is marinating, make your Rice. * (See note)
When rice is done, warm a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is warm, add 2 tsp of olive oil.
When oil is shimming, add tofu and any marinade that is left over. Pan sear tofu until browned on each side. About 2-3 minutes per side.
When browned, remove the tofu and add to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush one side of the tofu with BBQ sauce and bake for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven, flip tofu, brush the other side. Return to oven for 3-4 more minutes.
While tofu is in the oven, in a medium-size saucepan, add drained and rinsed pinto beans, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper each, 1/2 cup vegetable stock, and 1 tsp of cumin. Cook over medium heat until warmed through.
While beans are simmering, add broccoli to the same skillet you used to cook the tofu. Do not clean the pan first. You want the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook broccoli with 3 Tbsp of water, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and sea salt, over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes until bright and lightly browned.
Remove tofu from the oven and lightly brush each side with more BBQ Sauce.
Assemble bowl, Rice first, Broccoli, Beans, and add Tofu to Rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Are you looking for an easy appetizer? Well, who doesn’t love a good dip? Admittedly, it’s one of my guilty pleasures! And this recipe is the first to come to mind! I love all things dip, hummus, queso, cream cheese, and my vegan peppercorn ranch, but I especially love this Smoky Poblano Corn Dip! It’s delicious and gorgeous and will be a hit among your non-vegan friends and family.
I like to set it out and watch people gobble it up. They will often ask who made the corn dip and when they find out it was me, they are always amazed that it is 100% vegan!
I typically use poblano peppers for mine, but you can use anaheim or hatch peppers. And for reasons of sustainability, I also use Follow Your Heart sour cream because it contains no palm oil. I use R.W. Garcia chips because they are yummy, the family has a great story, their products are organic/non-GMO, and they are a sustainable climate pledge-friendly company.
As always, tag me and let me know how you like it!
A super yummy appetizer that will leave you wanting more! You can easily use frozen organic corn in place of corn cobs. I don’t recommend canned corn because it’s usually very high in sodium, it has a metallic taste, and it’s not fresh! Trust me on this one!
4 poblano, Anaheim, or hatch peppers
4 ears of corn, husks removed cut in half (about 2 cups)
5 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced on the bias (reserve 2 tablespoons)
On a prepared baking sheet, add the poblano peppers and roast for about 5 minutes, occasionally rotating until all sides are charred. Immediately place them in a medium bowl and cover them tightly with plastic wrap.
Warm a medium-size non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When ready, add corn. Toast the corn cobs for about 10 minutes (2 1/2 minutes per side), allowing half of the kernels to get charred. Allow them to cool enough to handle, then cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife, place them in a large mixing bowl. (In a separate small bowl, reserve 1 tablespoon of corn for garnish)
Preheat oven to 450°F degrees.
When the poblanos have cooled, remove the stems, skin, seeds, and veins. Then chop them into ¼ inch pieces—Reserve 2 tablespoons of peppers for garnish and mince. Add to the small bowl of corn garnish. Then add the remaining peppers to the large mixing bowl of corn.
To the corn pepper mixture, add scallions, garlic, lime juice, chili lime seasoning, paprika, hot sauce, sour cream, softened cream cheese, and salt and pepper, mix well.
Transfer the mixture to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 2-quart baking dish, and bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. Remove when it is hot and bubbling around the edges of the pan.
Top with additional scallions, cilantro, corn poblano garnish, and a dash or two of smoked paprika. Serve with corn chips.
*I use “Follow Your Heart” because it contains no palm oil.
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? I certainly do. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. It is the only place that I know of in the US with its own unique music, dialect, food, and cultural traditions like Mardi Gras that define the city. In fact, I wish I were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras this year.
It’s also a town that I happily eat my way through. Before becoming a vegan, I had a list of places to go and food to eat. Commander’s, Tujague’s, Antoine’s, Cafe Maspero, anywhere for a little Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, and a Filé Gumbo! I’ve been able to replicate many of my favorite dishes except for one.
The last time I was there I had the best vegan crab cakes! Made from Heart of Palm instead of crab meat they were absolutely delectable! They were flakey, moist, and full of flavor.
The problem with hearts of palm.
Harvesting the “heart of palm” kills most palms. So wild harvesting can be very damaging if done on a widespread basis. The hearts of palm that I buy is the “Native Forest” brand. Here is a quote from their website—”Here we rely upon the Euterpe precatoria, or huasaí palm tree, which grows profusely throughout this vast Amazonian rainforest.
Long-term leases secure approximately 240,000 acres of pristine native forest for the wild hearts of palm ecological project, thereby protecting the land from any rain forest-destructive development. In addition to preserving the region’s ecology, this project brings needed employment to those who live deep in the Amazon basin, providing them the opportunity to work closer to their families and their ancestral homes.”
But not all brands are as conscientious as Native Forest, and it’s best to check. The Environmental Working Group’s page is an excellent resource for studying everything from sustainability to child labor and products that contain pesticides, GMOs, etc.
So back to the recipe! The hearts of palm are a perfect replacement for crab meat. These little gems are crispy on the outside and flaky and moist inside. My mother-in-law (who is not vegan) was utterly blown away! You can pan-fry, air fry or oven fry them, whatever your preference. Just be sure to heat your oven to the lowest setting and add them to the range to keep them warm. Serve with a side of corn maque choux and enjoy!