Thursday, December 25, 2008

Asian Sesame Dressing

We had leftovers for Christmas dinner. Lame. I know. But I cooked a feast last night and a feast this morning and after traveling to my parents house and back in a storm and cleaning up after Christmas Morning, the though of whipping up something new was far too daunting. My kids chose leftover Pasta with Spinach Garlic Cream Sauce (recipe coming soon). My husband chose leftover roasted veggies, mashed potatoes and balsamic honey salmon. And after all the holiday junk food, I chose a lovely colorful green salad with and lot of avocado sliced on top, a little crumble of leftover salmon, and a generous sprinkle of ground flax. But the only dressing I had in the fridge was Ranch- and that did not go with my salad mood! Necessity is the mother of invention right?

Asian Sesame Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar or sushi vinegar
1/2-1 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tbsp agave
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
approx 1/2 tsp wasabe paste (optional)

Put it all in a bottle and shake it up baby! Couldn't be much easier!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Vegan French Toast

I went looking for some healthy breakfast ideas for a Christmas morning treat and here is one of the favorites I found. I think I'll be substituting coconut oil for the margarine.
These are very banana-y depending on how ripe your bananas are. I loved them! We had them Christmas morning with homemade hash browns, orange juice, and a little splurge of turkey bacon.

Vegan French Toast
  • 2-3 ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • bread, any kind is fine
  • vegan margarine
Blend bananas, soy milk, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in blender or food processor and pour mixture into pie plate or wide dish. Gently dip bread slices into the mix, coating both sides. Fry in vegan margarine in medium-hot skillet until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup if desired, and, as always, enjoy your wonderful vegan French toast!
This comes from Jolinda Hackett on

*Extras can be frozen and cooked up in the toaster or flashed in the oven.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Breakfast Cookies

Per the holiday season, I've been getting requests lately for healthy dessert recipes. Our family doesn't have desserts that often so I knew this would take some experimenting, but my first experiment turned from intended decadent dessert, to cookies so healthy my kids have been eating them for breakfast! When sleepy mommy is trying to feed the baby, sending the kids off to grab a cookie or 3 for breakfast is awesome! I'll be making another batch for my husband to eat during the drive to work on cold mornings (When smoothies are just too cold!).

Breakfast Cookies

1 apple (of the sweet variety- jonagold, gala, fuji), peeled and finely diced
1/2 cup water
3-4 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp nutmeg
1/2-1 tsp ground clove
1 banana, mashed
approx 6 dates, pitted and diced
1-2 tbsp agave nectar
3-4 tbsp ground flax seed
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
approx 3/4 cup raisins
approx 3/4 cup chopped almonds (optional)

Place water, coconut oil, diced apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove in a small pot on stove top and bring to a simmer over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add mashed banana and dates and let simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add agave.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In mixing bowl, combine flax seed, oats, baking soda, flour and sea salt. Mix together. Add fruit mixture to dry ingredients in bowl, along with raisins and almonds. Mix well, adding more water if needed.
Roll golf ball sized scoops and place on greased cookie sheet. Press down into cookie shape. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.

Delicious Quinoa Tabouleh

This year my family decided to have a Middle Eastern evening for a more authentic Christmas experience. It was awesome. We all lounged around on blankets around the food, dressed in galabeas and robes. We enjoyed hot lentil soup, dates, almonds, grapes, boiled eggs, hummus with pita bread, and I volunteered to bring the tabouleh. Taboubeh (tab-oo-lee) is a very light and fresh tasting salad made traditionally with bulghar wheat. I chose to make it even lighter by using quinoa. (I love quinoa.) I made a huge batch- that fed 20 people generously, so I am going to cut it in half for this recipe.

Delicious Quinoa Tabouleh

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed in hot water
3 1/2 cups water
1 medium/small bunch parsley, finely chopped, stems discarded
2 tbsp fresh mint (or 1 1/2 tbsp dried)
1 medium-large cucumber seeded and chopped
(if you leave the peel on, wash it well- the peel is where the vitamins are!)
approx 1- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
Sea salt to taste (about 2 tbsp)

Place water in rice cooker or pot. If in rice cooker, add quinoa and a little salt and set to cook. If in pot, bring salted water to boil, add quinoa, cover, turn to low heat and cook for approx 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed.
Transfer cooked quinoa into a large bowl and let cool.
Once cool, add parsley, mint, cucumber, tomatoes and onion. Mix well. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and sea salt in a bowl or magic bullet and whisk or blend. Pour over quinoa and vegetables and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. Serve cold.
For presentation, I lined my serving bowl with romaine lettuce.

We had baklava for dessert... YUM!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yummy Yam Pot Pie

Perfect for a cold winter night. It was hard to remember and measure what I put in this one- it was very on-the-fly. My family LOVED it though, so I had to try!
The crust can be substituted with puff pastry sheets for convenience.

Yummy Yam Pot Pie

3 yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and dice in 1/2-1 inch cubes
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
approx 1 cup chopped carrots
2-3 tbsp flour
approx 2 cups mushroom broth and/or vegetable broth (I used a mix)
approx 5-6 spears asparagus, chopped in 1/2 inch long pieces
approx 1 cup frozen whole green beans, chopped in 1/2-1 inch pieces
approx 1- 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1-2 tsp dried bouquet garni (basil, thyme, sage, oregano mix)
Sea salt or Realsalt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Steam yams in steamer or steamer pot until soft- approx 10-15 minutes.

Heat oil over medium high heat. Add diced onion and carrots and saute for a few minutes until onion is soft. Whisk in flour and then broth a little at a time. Add asparagus, green beans and corn. Simmer over medium low for approx 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add cooked yam cubes and stir well. Add more broth if needed. Let simmer until carrots and asparagus are mostly soft.

1 1/2 -2 cups flour
1 tsp sea salt
2-3 tbsp butter (might be able to substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
approx 1/2 cup cold water

Mix flour and salt in bowl. Dice cold butter. Cut butter into flour or mash in with fork. Add water gradually, stirring until soft dough is formed. Add more water if needed. Divide into two sections (one slightly larger than the other) and roll out thin on floured surface. Line greased baking pan (9x9 or similar) with larger dough sheet. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Add pie filling and cover with other dough sheet. Make two small cuts in top and bake in oven for about 30 minutes until crust is golden brown.
Let cool slightly and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sweet Simmered Black Beans and Green Chile Brown Rice

I love restaurants like Cafe Rio, Bajio, Costa Vida, etc. Before I cut back on the meat and basically became a pescatarian, I had perfected a marvelous sweet pork/chicken recipe for salads, tacos and burritos. These beans serve as a substitute for the shredded meat. I don't miss it too much. The rice compliments them beautifully. I used the rice in the burritos or salad with the beans.
They can be used in burritos, salads, tacos, or served on their own.

Sweet Simmered Black Beans

1 can diced tomatoes
1 can petite diced tomatoes (you can just do two cans of whichever tomatoes you have)
1/2 large sweet onion
4-5 cloves garlic
juice of 1-2 limes
3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
approx 1/3-1/2 cup agave
approx 3 tsp sea salt
approx 1/2 tsp ground cumin
approx 1/2- 1 tsp chili powder
(optional) 1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels

Place 1 can of diced tomatoes including juice in food processor or blender with onion, garlic, salt and lime juice.
In medium pot, saucepan or crockpot, combine tomato mix, can of petite diced tomatoes, beans and remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook on low heat at least until warm, stirring occasionally (if on stovetop), or for at least 1-2 hours (if in crockpot). The longer it simmers, the better- the flavors will combine and the beans will soak them in.

Green Chile Brown Rice

2 cups brown rice
3 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cans mild green chiles
2-3 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/3 cup agave

Place all ingredient in rice cooker and follow cooker instructions. Fluff with fork.

Combine beans and rice together in whole wheat tortilla for healthy, yummy burritos served with colorful salad.

For an amazing salad:
Crisp up tortilla in a little olive oil in a skillet, then place on plate, layer rice, beans, salad greens and colorful veg mix, top with favorite dressing (I like lighthouse ranch) or salsa and enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Update from Potty Training post

My 8 month old daughter has taken to this potty training thing like a fish to water! We are 2 days in and she's gone in the toilet many times- both liquid and solid. She wets her diaper during naps, but we've only had one wet diaper besides those today! She is so excited about it! I can hardly believe how smart she is! I wish I'd known about this sooner!
When she finishes she wants to sign to everyone in the house that she went potty and have them cheer for her. SO cute!
I think the unused cloth diaper fabric will become some little training pants.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Smart Babies!

When my oldest was about 9 months I came across information on Baby Sign Language. This would prove to help form many of my views and methods of parenting. He picked up on it fast. Within mere days he was communicating things to me like, "I need medicine, my teeth hurt." with only a few hand gestures. It hadn't really occurred to me that my baby comprehended things so thoroughly and at such a young age. Our learning to communicate with each other opened up our relationship and closed the door on so many manipulations that children learn to use to get what they need or want when they have no other means of communication. With subsequent children I have begun signing to them at 5-6 months to get them used to the idea of communication and how to do it. They start signing back around 7 or 8 months. My second son learned "milk" (for nursing) and "change" (for diaper change) and then tossed it all out the window and started talking early. He is 3 and has a larger vocabulary and comprehension than many kindergartners and 1st graders. He is learning to control and deal with his emotions and the the frustrations that come with his body trying to catch up with his brain. My daughter is 8 months old now. A couple weeks ago she started signing 'milk'. Now she signs 'please', 'change', 'medicine' and reaches for things she doesn't know signs for. This week she started telling me 'change' before she went or as she was trying. I thought laughingly, "I could potty train her!" But of course, brushed off the thought. The today when researching baby sleep patterns, I ran across a website for Infant Potty Training. INFANT! I'm a little late on the learning windows, but considering her behavior lately, I think I might try a little and see where it goes. I love ideas outside my automatic western mindset that turn me on my ear a little.
Here is an exerpt from the webpage:


Babies are smarter than we think! The big mistake that people make is to presume that a newborn baby is unaware of going to the toilet. We assume an infant is incapable of toilet learning since infants are small and uncoordinated and also because they cannot walk or talk. An infant is helpless in so many ways that it is hard for Westerners to imagine such a tiny being could be aware of peeing and pooping. It is even harder for us to believe that an infant has some control over elimination. With these preconceived and narrow views, we encourage and teach our babies to be unconcerned about wetting and soiling diapers. In short, we teach our infants to use diapers as a toilet.

A normal, healthy infant is indeed aware of the bodily function of elimination and can learn to respond to it from infancy. By using diapers, we condition and thereby train baby to go in them. Later the child must unlearn this training. This can be confusing and a traumatic experience for the child.

An infant does his best to communicate his awareness to you, but if you don't listen, he will stop communicating and gradually lose touch with the elimination functions. He will be conditioned not to care and learn that you want him to use his diaper as a toilet.

Not only is toilet training from infancy basically unheard of by many, but it also strikes some as inconvenient. With relatively few exceptions, however, toilet training is by definition inconvenient no matter when or how you do it. If you wait for your baby to self-train at 2, 3, 4 or older, you are subjected to years of diaper changes and clean-up as well as diaper struggles.

Diapers, especially disposable ones, are a temporary way to deal with toileting. We attempt to "plug up" our child's disposal system with diapers in the same way as we temporarily stop the flow from a leaking pipe. How many parents have pondered whether or not this is the most hygienic solution for the child? How many parents care about the effects of diapers on the environment? How many would care if they knew of an alternative to full-time diapers?

I am intrigued. let's see where this goes...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Interesting Thoughts on Animal Proteins

This came from 'the body fat guide website'. Which I ran across in researching animal protein and butter.

The French Paradox

Looking first at the role of animal fat in producing disease, one comes across a contradiction to the conventional wisdom: the French Paradox. If eating animal fat produces heart disease, why do the French, who eat plenty of saturated animal fat, have lower rates of heart disease?

The explanation that is consistent with the research on animal protein is that the French consume animal fat largely in the form of butter and cream, which is very low in animal protein. When considering the overall diet of the French, one sees that it is much lower in total animal protein then the Western diet, even though it is higher in animal fat.

Similar to aspirin, red wine is reported to make blood platelets less sticky and thus less likely to form blood clots that cause arterial obstruction leading to strokes and heart attacks. Even so, wine has not been reported to directly reduce arteriosclerosis and cholesterol levels. However, since wine contains no animal protein, while milk does, wine may indirectly lower cholesterol levels because significantly less animal protein is included in one's diet when one drinks wine at meals instead of milk, as do the French.

This does not mean we should start drinking wine; rather, it implies we might be better off drinking less milk! But, before striking out animal-protein foods altogether, such as milk, meat and eggs, it is best to analyze how much animal protein these foods contribute to one's diet. One can then decide how much of these foods, if any, to eat.

Percentage of Calories from Protein in Animal Foods
Food % of Calories from Protein
Beef, Regular Ground 21.42
Beef, Lean Ground 26.84
Beef, Extra Lean Ground 31.84
Butter 0.49
Cream, 25% Fat 4.04
Sour Cream 5.92
Cheddar Cheese 20.00
Cottage Cheese, Lowfat 62.22
Chicken, Skinless Breast 73.60
Egg, Whole 33.60
Egg White 82.35
Fish, Flat 82.30
Milk, Whole 21.19
Milk, Skim 39.06
Tuna, Solid White, Water 85.71
Turkey, White Meat 76.17

Here is the entire article.

The more I research, the more I find that the choice to consume under 10-20% animal products seems a sound guideline. The processes required to digest animal protein tend to leech our bodies of vitamins and minerals and makes it hard for us to keep up!

See related post: Calcium Without The Cow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Oh, this one turned out good. I try to listen to my body and it was craving seafood and coconut milk!

Coconut Shrimp Curry

2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp curry powder (depending how spicy you like it)
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp cumin
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can coconut milk
2 tbsp corn starch
approx 4 cups shrimp (I used frozen, pre-cooked, de-veined, tail off)
1 red bell pepper, sliced or coarsely chopped
approx 4-5 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, chopped
approx 1 1/2 cups frozen sweet corn
Sea Salt or Realsalt

Start brown rice cooking. (I do mine in the rice cooker. 1:3 ratio rice to salted water.)

Heat oil in skillet on medium heat.
Saute onions and garlic until soft.
Add curry, cumin and cinnamon and mix until onions are coated.
Add tomatoes in their juices and coconut milk and mix well.
Whisk in cornstarch.
Add shrimp and red pepper and bring to a strong simmer. Reduce heat to medium low continuing to simmer.
Add spinach. Mix in until wilted.
Add in corn and continue to simmer until sauce thickens a little (about 10 minutes).
Salt to taste.

Serve over brown rice and enjoy!

Brown Rice

Brown Rice vs White Rice

Simple and straight forward explanation.
(click link for pdf)

Coconut oil and Agave

It is said the best way to learn is to teach.
There are things that I kind of know about health and why I cook and eat the way I do. But when someone asks me why, I want to be able to answer with facts. And so, the fruits of some of my research courtesy of (By the way their website has great prices on both coconut oil and agave. You can also find great deals (and free shipping) on

Why Coconut Oil?

Canola oil was the oil we used for many years. We heard it was good for you because it was polyunsaturated. The oil in meat is a saturated fat and the cause of many health problems. The problem with canola oil is the toxins. It comes from the rape seed plant. I have seen them growing in Canada. In order to make it edible the company has to process it to remove the toxins. It still has many toxins. When it reaches the body temperature the toxins are worse. We studied this and came to the decision to change our cooking oil. When Faye stopped using canola oil she overcame many health problems. We have the studies and Faye's experience for our evidence. If you use canola oil, find a way to experiment and see how you feel with it or with the oil we recommend.

We recommend coconut oil for all cooking and baking. It is the most stable at high temperatures. It is even more stable than olive oil. Many years ago a scientist did a bogus study on coconut oil. He used the hydrogenated form and showed a high increase in cholesterol levels. The word got out that it was not good. When the scientists at Harvard learned that it was actually good for you the word was slow to catch on. Coconut oil does not have to be hydrogenated to stop rancidity. Although it is a saturated fat, it is actually very good for you. The medium chain fatty acids help the body use all other fats. It has lauric acid which is anti fungal, anti bacterial, anti viral. It is so healthy that it is being tested for the help with aids patients.

As an extra plus it actually makes foods better.
We sell it in the form that has no taste. It is naturally a solid in the winter and a liquid in the summer. It does not have to be refrigerated. It lasts for years. I use it in all the recipes that call for butter or vegetable oil. You will be amazed at how soft and tender the whole grain foods are when made with coconut oil.

You will be even more impressed with how you feel when you use it. You can go to to learn more. For cooking and baking use coconut oil. Make sure it does not get so hot that it smokes. This causes carcinogens in any oil. For salad dressings use olive oil.
  • Contains lauric acid also found in mother's milk
  • Anti viral, anti fungal, anti bacterial for use against measles, common cold, influenza, yeast infections, ring worm
  • fights against herpes
  • protects against heart disease
  • promotes weight loss because it helps the body use all other fats
  • under investigation to see if it will help aids patients
  • seems to help thyroid
Why Agave?
(I personally prefer raw blue agave.)

Benefits of both White Agave and Xagave

Low on the glycemic index .The problem: sugar raises your blood sugar levels of insulin, a hormone that signals your body to stop burning fat, and start storing it. agave, a low glycemic index food (approximately 30), does not raise your blood sugar levels

Tastes like sugar

All natural nectar derived from cactus plant, not like splenda or other artificial sugar substitutes
  • Weight Loss and Management.
    Xagave saves calories in two ways: (1) it is sweeter than sugar therefore, you use less, thereby saving calories; and (2) it moderates blood sugar levels leaving you feeling more "satisfied" after consumption – so you eat less and feel more satisfied.
  • Improved Energy.
    Unlike sugar or high fructose corn syrup, Xagave will not "spike" your blood sugar levels and will let your body know that it is consuming calories. Xagave contains Fructose and Inulin that help moderate and manage consistent blood sugar levels. Eating regular small meals of low GI foods can provide consistent energy all day long without feeling tired or hungry.
Added Benefits of Xagave:

The Xagave was developed by a company because of their concern for diabetes in their family. They noticed that the blue agave had more inulin. The raw agave tastes better. They combined them to get the wonderful taste of the raw and the inulin from the blue.

Premium Blend.
Xagave is a special blend of the nectars derived from Agave Azul (Blue Agave) and Agave Salmiana (White Agave). It contains the inulin from the blue and the great taste from the white.

Low Glycemic Index.
The Inulin (a soluble fiber and probiotic), helps moderate blood sugar.

Xagave is grown in the rich, volcanic soils of Central Mexico. Xagave is a RAW product in that the nectar is processed at temperatures that never exceed 117 Degrees thereby retaining all its natural enzymes to help you digest it better.
  • Enhanced Immune System.
    Inulin, improves your digestive health by stimulating growth and activity of the good micro flora while inhibiting growth of bad bacteria in your intestinal tract. Studies have shown that daily consumption of Inulin may reduce frequency of fever, diarrhea and other illnesses. 70% of your immune system is located in the intestine. The carbohydrates in agave are not digested by the body, but used to feed the good bacteria in the intestine.
  • Improved Bone Density.
    Studies have shown that Inulin enhances calcium and magnesium absorption by as much as 20% and increased bone density by as much as 15%.
  • Improved Elimination.
    Studies have shown that daily consumption of Inulin improved both fecal weight and frequency of extrication. This is extremely important as once food is digested and makes its way to your gut, it becomes toxic. The quicker you get waste out the better and healthier you will be.
  • Diabetic Friendly.
    Consult your physician, but Xagave has been tested and has a GI level of about 30. This puts it in the low category and is considered safe for most diabetics.
  • Lowers Cholesterol.
    Inulin helps lower cholesterol
Directions For Best Results: Use Xagave instead of sugar, brown sugar, honey or other artificial sweeteners in your favorite recipes and save significantly on calories consumed. As a general rule, Xagave is considered to be 1.5 times sweeter than sugar and honey – so you use less than sugar and honey and save significantly on calories without sacrificing flavor. There is no "after taste" like artificial sweeteners or limitations on how or when you can use the product. With experience, you will be able to quickly make adjustments in all of your favorite recipes and improve their flavor over sugar.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Whole Wheat and Veggie Mini Calzones

These were a hit with the kids. My nephews tend to be picky about their veg, so hiding it in a "pizza pocket" let them munch happily and be well nourished as well. You could leave out the mozzarella to make it vegan.
The crust is the same as my whole wheat pizza crust but I give it a little less rising time to keep the pockets compact and contained.

Whole Wheat and Veggie Mini Calzones


1 cup warm water
2 tbsp agave or honey
1-2 tbsp active yeast
1 tsp realsalt or sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
approx 2 cups whole wheat flour

Place warm water in a mixing bowl and dissolve the agave or honey in it. Sprinkle in the yeast and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. Add the salt, and oil and gradually mix in the flour until a soft dough forms. All the flour may not be mixed in yet. Dump it all out on a clean surface and mix in the rest of the flour by hand, kneading well for about 5-10 minutes. Should be slightly firm and not sticky. Lightly oil a clean glass bowl and set the dough in, rolling to coat lightly with oil. Cover and set in a warm place for about 30 minutes. Dough shouldn't quite be double in size.
Divide into 6-8 balls.

1 small can tomato sauce (if you like a slightly thicker sauce, toss a can of diced tomatoes in the blender and pulse a bit instead)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Topping possibilities:
shredded mozzarella
Chopped fresh spinach
diced red, yellow or green peppers
corn kernels
grated carrot
diced red onion
chopped mushrooms
sliced olives
(For tonight's dinner I used sauce, cheese, spinach, red pepper and grated carrot for the kids, and added red onion for the adults.)

Putting it all together:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Take one of your dough balls and roll it out into a circle. stretch it with your hands as well and get it nice and thin. Place a fairly generous amount of sauce in the middle and spread it around, making sure to leave about an inch of edge clean. Place cheese on half of the sauce. Add your toppings to that half in layers, then top them with more cheese. Fold your sauce-only half over the topped half and pinch the clean edges to seal. Gently slice a couple little cuts in the top to let air escape during baking. Place on a baking sheet prepared with cooking spray and a light sprinkling of cornmeal. Repeat until all are done. Place in oven and let bake for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly. Serve with a colorful green salad and enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Whole Wheat Spinach Ravioli

This was another experiment gone right! The dough rolling takes some time and effort (which is way easier if you have a pasta roller) but they turned out to be worth it! If you wanted to cheat or you don't have the time, get some wonton wrappers or pre-made pasta sheets.

Whole Wheat Spinach Ravioli

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp realsalt or sea salt
2 tbsp butter or vegan butter spread
3/4 cup boiling water

Place dry ingredients in food processor or blender and pulse until coarse (looks like cornmeal). Slowly add hot water while mixing. Dump out on clean floured surface and knead until you have a stiff dough. Add water by the drop or flour as needed. Separate into 3-4 balls and roll out with rolling pin as thin as you can get it (about 1/8 inch or thinner). Use 2 1/2 to 3" round cookie cutter or cup and cut out as many circles as you can, gathering scraps and rolling out again. Place dough that is not being worked with (cut outs as well) under a damp cloth to keep from drying.

1-2 tsp olive oil
1/2 red pepper
3 cloves garlic
3-4 cups fresh spinach
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1-2 Tbsp dried basil
1-2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp realsalt or sea salt

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Rub red pepper and garlic cloves in a light coating of olive oil and place on a dish or baking sheet in oven. Remove garlic after approx 5 minutes and red pepper after approximately 10 minutes. Turn off oven. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until finely chopped and mixed well.

Press thumb in center of 2 dough cutouts to make them curve a bit and scoop approx 1 tbsp filling into the center of one. ( I used my melon baller to scoop.) Cover with second dough round and pinch edges together tightly to seal. Repeat until all cut outs are used.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Gently drop in 5 or 6 ravioli at a time and let cook for 3-4 minutes. Ravioli will float consistently when they are done. Remove from water with slotted spoon and place in a bowl or dish. Drizzle with olive oil.


1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced or micrograted
1 can tomato sauce
1 can petite diced tomatoes with sweet onions
(you can use regular diced tomatoes, this is just what I had and your sauce won't be as sweet. You can add a little agave and onions if you want it sweeter)
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp dried basil
1/2 -1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt

Heat oil on medium low in sauce pan. Saute garlic for about 1 minute, then add all other ingredients, stirring occasionally until heated through. Serve over raviolis.

Serve with a colorful green salad and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Red Pepper and Lime Hummus

This was an experiment with a happy ending!

Red Pepper and Lime Hummus

1 can chickpeas or garbanzo beans mostly drained
2 tbs olive oil
juice of 1 small lime
1 large clove of garlic
1/4 red pepper
2-3 drops sesame oil
dash of cumin
approx. 1/2 tsp sea salt

Put it all in the blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth.

This is an awesome dip or spread for chips, veggies, pitas, wraps, sandwiches... you name it!
I slathered it on a whole wheat tortilla and wrapped it around leftover salad for lunch.
So good and so healthy!

To treat an ear infection... without trauma or antibiotics

Our bodies are normally populated with friendly, helpful bacteria. These bacteria do all sorts of things from aiding in digestion, to keeping the unhealthy, unfriendly bacteria in check. Thus taking antibiotics orally and wiping out all bacteria, good and bad, can be harmful to everyday health. Now, I'm not on any mission against antibiotics- they are necessary at times, but they are highly overused in our society. When they are necessary, I always try to accompany them with probiotics (acidophilus being one) to help repopulate the colonies of good bacteria. I have a real problem with pumping my children's tiny bodies with antibiotics because they have an ear infection that causes pain, but will probably go away on it's own. There comes the catch- no one, especially me, wants to see their baby in pain. This is my rescue. You have to catch the infection pretty early. If the infection gets deep into the inner ear, you'll probably have to resort to other measures.

Take a fresh, peeled garlic clove and cut the outside and ends off to create a small plug (you want it juicy on all sides). Place the plug in the middle of a tissue or square of toilet paper, wrap it up and twist the end. cut off the excess tissue. Take a little olive oil on your finger and rub the ouside of the tissue in a light coating of the oil. This acts as a conductor. Have the child (or adult- it works on us too) lie down or recline with the infected ear up. Place the wrapped and oiled plug in the ear opening. Don't push it in, just set it there and let it sit for 10-20 minutes if possible. Usually pain relief occurs within 15 minutes and the infection will be gone within 24 hours. If symptoms return or persist, try it again. If syptoms worsen or persist beyond 48 hours after 2 treatments, call the doc and do what you have to.

This has proved to be a major source of relief for my kids (and me) and has saved us plenty of doctor visits.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Quick and Easy Vegetarian Burritos

When I need a quick and easy dinner, this one is my fallback. It's quicker without the chopped veg, but quick is a relative term. ;) Health is worth the time.

Quick and Easy Burritos

1 can vegetarian refried beans
2-3 tbs lighthouse ranch dressing
2-3 tbs favorite salsa (optional)
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4-1/2 red pepper, minced
about 1/2 cup corn kernels
about 1/4 cup grated carrot
about 1/3 cup grated fresh mushrooms
finely chopped spinach
1/2 can rinsed black beans
precooked brown rice
shredded mozzarella cheese

Whole wheat or white flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine all ingredients except rice and cheese in a bowl and stir well.
Place a few tablespoons of rice and a large pinch of cheese in the middle of a tortilla. Top with a large dollop of bean mixture. Fold in ends and roll. Place on baking sheet. Repeat until filling is gone. Bake for about 15-20 minutes depending on burrito size.
Serve with a colorful green salad and enjoy!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Yummy Yams

Vegan yams that rocked the house on Thanksgiving day! People were asking for leftovers and recipes all through dinner.

Yummy Vegan Yams

about a dozen yams and or sweet potatoes
olive oil
1 can coconut milk
1 fuji or gala apple, cored
1-2 tbsp agave nectar

1 lb bag pecans
approx 1 cup whole almonds
approx 8-10 dates, pits removed
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground clove
1 tbsp cinnamon
approx 2 tbsp agave nectar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and dry whole yams, chop off ends.
Lightly coat in olive oil (I rubbed it on with my hands), and place on baking sheet.
Bake yams for 50-60 minutes depending on size until skin is loose. Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle.
Reduce oven temp to 375 degrees.
Remove skins and place yams in large mixing bowl (or stand mixer if you have one). Puree apple in blender and add to yams along with coconut milk and agave. Whip together (I used my electric hand mixer) until smooth. Pour into 9x13 baking dish.
Place topping ingredients except for agave in food processor or blender and pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Spread over yams in thick layer, then drizzle with agave.
Bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fruit Salad and Vegan Green Bean Casserole

With Thanksgiving upon us here in the U.S., I thought it appropriate for a little post on how to keep your holidays healthy- or at least mostly so.
With family who eats a healthier, but more traditional American diet (at least more traditional than mine), I wouldn't dream of forgoing all the treats and turkey, but I am trying to keep my animal product and refined sweets consumption below 20% and below 10% if possible.
Last night we had a family Thanksgiving dinner due to the fact that my parents will be out of town and we will be with the in-laws on Thanksgiving. It was a sumptuous meal. My food assignment? Green Bean Casserole and fruit salad. The fruit salad was easy.

Best Fruit Salad

fresh pineapple
fresh strawberries
fresh blueberries
fuji and gala apples

This might just rock with some shaved coconut on it, but it was amazing in it's natural flavor combination. The berries provide excellent antioxidant properties to neutralize those free radicals coming from your animal protein consumption. (Gobble! Gobble!)

The casserole was a touch trickier, but not too bad to figure out. Usually it is a simple concoction of canned green beans, canned cream of mushroom soup (or as I've come to think of it 'cream of gray squares' since there is really no discernible mushroom in there), and French's French Fried Onions. My quest was to find a better way- if not perfectly healthy, then at least better than msg-ridden, nutrient-sapped mush. Here's what came of it... and it was a hit!
(I failed to check the label on the fried onions, but they are kind of essential to the dish and we have to allow ourselves a little wiggle room on a holiday!)

Vegan Green Bean Casserole

Frozen or fresh green beans (enough to fill 9x13 casserole dish)
French Fried Onions (not the tiny can, the big one)
Homemade Cream of Mushroom Recipe:
approx 3 cups fresh mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
approx 1/4 cup mushroom broth or vegetable broth
2 tbsp natural margarine or vegan butter spread
approx 4 tbsp whole wheat flour
approx 1 1/2 cups rice milk
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2-3 tsp bouquet garni (parsley, thyme and bay leaf)
approx 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In blender combine all but 3 or 4 mushrooms and broth until mostly smooth. Set aside.
Heat butter spread in medium/small pot on medium heat. Add flour slowly and whisk together. Whisk in mushroom mix.
Gradually add rice milk while stirring.
Chop remaining mushrooms and add to pot.
Stir in seasonings.
Bring mixture to bubbling and reduce heat to low simmer for about 10 minutes.

Place green beans in 9x13 baking dish.
Cover with mushroom soup.
Stir in about 1/4 can fried onions.
Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Remove foil, add remaining onions on top and return to oven for about 5 minutes until onions are crisp and slightly browned.


Soon to come:
My version of holiday yams/ sweet potatoes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vegan Split Pea Soup with Hearty Whole Wheat Mini Loaves

Flavorful split pea minus the ham hocks. This one takes some time on the stove, but very little prep time.

Vegan Split Pea Soup

1 medium sweet onion, diced
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or micro-grated
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped carrots
1 lb dried split green peas, rinsed and picked through
2-3 cups vegetable broth
approx 3 cups water
2 tsp paprika
approx 3 tsp sea salt
approx 1/2-1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1-2 cups frozen corn kernels

Heat oil in bottom of large pot. Saute onions, garlic and carrots until onions are translucent. Add broth, water, peas and seasonings. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally, then cover and reduce heat to medium low. Let cook for approximately 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour half of soup mixture into blender and blend until smooth, then mix puree back into pot. Add frozen corn in separate bowls just before serving to help cool soup and for flavor.

My kids decided it was 'Swamp Soup' good enough for any little ogre.

Whole Wheat Mini Loaves

1-2 tbsp active yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp agave or honey
1-2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
approx 2 cups whole wheat flour

Place warm water and agave in mixing bowl and stir together. Add yeast and let sit for approx 10 minutes until foamy. Add salt, oil and gradually add flour, mixing well until soft, but dough ball is formed. Knead well for about 5 minutes, then place in oiled bowl. Roll dough so that it's coated lightly in oil, then cover with a towel and let sit in a warm place for 40-60 minutes or until doubled. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove dough from bowl and divide to form 4 mini loaves. Place loaves on oiled cookie or baking sheet and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving with soup.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

From my Mama's book of tricks- Zucchini Pizza

This one, I am sure, my mother came up with from summers of late nights, hungry kids and piles of extra zucchini. Even people who don't like zucchini like this recipe. It's quick and easy.

The recipe is for one pizza, which will feed 1-2 people depending on the size of tortillas and the size of appetite.

Zucchini Pizza

2 large tortillas
about 1 - 1 1/2 cups grated or shredded zucchini (patted between paper towels to remove moisture)
approx 1/2-3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
sprinkling parmesan cheese
1 small can tomato sauce
2-3 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together sauce ingredients in bowl.
Place one tortilla on a baking sheet or pizza pan and spread with a thin layer of sauce. To this, add a 1/2-1 inch layer of shredded zucchini and cover that with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Top with other tortilla. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the top tortilla and top this with a generous sprinkling of parmesan.
Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes until edges are crispy and cheese has melted. Let cool slightly, slice like a pizza and enjoy!

Make it more healthy:
Add corn kernels, mushrooms, shredded carrots or spinach on the inside.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Red Potato Millet Hash and Baby Bella Green Beans

These ones turned out SO yummy!

Red Potato Millet Hash

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, micro-planed, minced or pressed
about 10 medium sizes red potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2-3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 red bell pepper, chopped (I used about 4-5 mini red peppers and threw in a couple orange ones just for color)
approx. 1 1/2 cups precooked millet
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 tbsp paprika
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes until soft.
Add potatoes and mix in well, then add vegetable broth, millet, red pepper and corn.
Season with paprika, salt and pepper. (This will take a little more salt than you think, since potatoes absorb salt.)
Stir well, reduce to medium low heat and cover pan with lid. Let cook, stirring occasionally to keep potatoes from sticking, until potatoes are soft (about 30 minutes).

Baby Bella Green Beans

3 tbsp olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced or micro-planed
approx 8 baby bella mushrooms cut in fourths.
approx. 3-4 cups fresh or frozen green beans
Sea salt to taste.

Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and reduce heat to medium. Add mushrooms and green beans and saute until green beans are cooked through. Season with sea salt to taste.

These two recipes together make an awesomely yummy and healthy dinner and leftovers that are in high-demand.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Calcium Without The Cow

One of the first question that comes out of the American mouth when presented with our 90% plant-based diet is, "How do you get your calcium and protein?"
This article addresses the question nicely, and adds a little broader perspective to the business-based American Diet.


Calcium Without the Cow
Charles R. Attwood, M.D., F.A.A.P.

A note from the school dietitian was handed to me by a young mother of a 7 year old boy. "Billy's diet has come to our attention," it read, "because he no longer selects milk in the cafeteria." He had recently given up milk at my suggestion because it worsened his asthma and eczema. The note went on to conclude, "Milk is absolutely necessary for for protein and calcium!" This last sentence was heavily underlined. I quickly realized how concerned Billy's mother was, because there was also a history of osteoporosis among several elderly members of her family.
This dilemma is encountered most frequently by families who are trying to reduce saturated fat and animal proteins in their diets. They've read that both may increase the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, but worry about calcium balance and bone density if milk, the chief source of saturated fat for children, is discontinued. I often reassure concerned parents that some bowing of their child's legs is normal up to the age of 3, and is not due to a calcium deficiency or rickets. Dental decay in early childhood, causes the same concern, but ironically it is partially due to the frequent bathing of the teeth with milk, rather than a calcium deficiency.
Why is this paranoia so common among Americans? The milk-calcium-bone density myth has been created and perpetuated by the intense lobbying of the dairy industry throughout the lifetimes of most adults living today.
Throughout kindergarten and grade school, most of the nutrition teaching aids were supplied by the American Dairy Council. As a result, most parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, and significantly, members of congress grew up with the not unbiased view that milk is a necessary and wholesome food for both children and adults. The council's most effective campaign tool has been to link milk, calcium, and bone density.
To further confuse the consumer, milk and infant formulas have been fortified with vitamin D, which is necessary for proper calcium absorption. It may also be obtained by eating sardines, herring, salmon, tuna, egg yolk, and fish oils. However, none of these are necessary, because it's manufactured in adequate amounts by exposure to as little as 10-15 minutes of sunlight about three times a week. Rickets may be prevented in children getting no sunlight--such as the totally disabled, by a vitamin D supplement, if the parents do not wish to feed them fortified milk.
The true connection between milk and strong bones isn't exactly what the dairy industry has been telling us all these years. Calcium balance, the relationship between the intake and loss of the mineral determines bone density, mostly during childhood and adolescence. Good bone density attained by the age of 18 usually lasts a lifetime for people consuming a balanced plant-based diet and remaining physically active. Milk and other dairy products, although rich in calcium, are high in animal protein, which has been shown to create calcium loss through the urinary tract. A 1994 National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference concluded that calcium balance and bone density depended at least 3O percent on the ratio of intake to loss, not on calcium intake alone. According to a report in Science magazine in 1986, evidence is accumulating that calcium intake (considered alone) is not related to bone density
This may explain why countries consuming the most milk also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. Exceptions exist, but a common determining factor seems to be the high protein consumption in populations who require very high levels of calcium intake. For instance, the RDA of calcium in the United States is up to 1,200 mg daily. This is much higher than the World Health Organization's recommendation of 500 mg. for children and 800 mg for adults. Areas of the world where dietary protein is very low have low national recommendations. In Thailand, for example, the recommended daily intake of calcium is only 400 mg. for all ages. Elderly South African Bantu women, who consume a very low protein diet (5O grams daily, compared with 91 grams for Americans) and only 450 mg. calcium daily, have no osteoporosis despite the calcium drain of nursing an average of 10 children. On the other hand, Eskimos, consuming a very high protein diet (250-400 grams) of fish, and a calcium intake of over 2,000 mg daily, have the highest rate of osteoporosis in the world!
Now, let's take a new look at milk and dairy products as a calcium source, regardless of their protein content. Calcium expressed as mg. per 100 calories instead of per gram show milk and cheese at the bottom of the list and green vegetables at the top (see chart).

Calcium in Milligrams per 100 Calories
Watercress...................... 800
Turnip greens.................. .650
Collard greens................. 548
Mustard greens.................490
Spinach........................... 450
Broccoli.......................... 387
Swiss cheese................... 250
Milk (2-percent).............. 245
Green onions................... 240
Okra............................... 213
Cabbage......................... 196
Whole milk..................... 190
Cheddar cheese.............. 179
American cheese............. 160

At first glance, one may conclude, "but I would have to eat so much more spinach or kale to get adequate calcium." Not so, individuals on a plant-based diet generally eat as many total calories as meat and dairy-eaters. In other words, adequate amounts of vegetables are BETTER SOURCES OF CALCIUM THAN MILK AND CHEESE. Also, consider that a cup of broccoli contains about the same amount of calcium as a cup of milk. But wait! Haven't we been told that many green vegetables contain oxalic acid, which reduces the absorption of their calcium. This too, has been exaggerated by the dairy lobby. A 1990 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that greens such as broccoli and kale have high levels of calcium which is absorbed at least as well as that in milk. Excellent calcium balance on a non-dairy diet is easily attained because ALL vegetables and legumes contain calcium, and collectively it's more than adequate. This calcium stays in the bones, unlike much of that from the high protein-containing dairy products.
Now it begins to make sense. In cultures where the most protein is consumed, the calcium requirement for good bone density and protection against osteoporosis may be UNATTAINABLY high, without supplements -- it's a Catch-22. But for the majority of the world population, and among those consuming a plant-based diet in Western countries, calcium requirements for normal bone density are easily obtained without milk or other dairy products. Milk, it now seems clear, is not the solution to the malady of poor bone density. It may be a part of the problem, and you can have your calcium without the cow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I've read all sorts of conflicting reports on microwaves and what they do to the quality and health of our food. The evidence is scary enough that I've decided to wean us off of ours. We only really use it for defrosting once or twice a month and microwave popcorn on occasion, but the biggest thing is reheating food. I always make enough food for leftovers and those usually get reheated in the microwave.
So my search began once again for a better way.
I have found a few good solutions.
1. Flashing
This has nothing to do with showing body parts. It's a great way to reheat food in the oven without re-cooking it. It works well with food that isn't too dense or that can be spread out.
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees and put the food in- preferably in a thinnish layer on a pan, pie tin or cookie sheet and let it go for 5-10 minutes. This works great for grains in the morning. I also reheated my Pad Thai this way in a pie dish. Delish.
2. Bathing
Once again, no nudity here. This is good for defrosting. Basically, you seal your food in a ziploc bag (if needed) and give it a nice warm bath in a bowl. Change the water out if needed. Works great for frozen fish or shrimp and also for frozen fruit and veg.
3. The counter top toaster oven with convection
This will probably be my next purchase with my Home Depot gift card. Big enough to fit a 12" pizza or a medium sized casserole. Since it's smaller than a standard oven, it preheats faster, takes up less energy and doesn't heat up the whole kitchen. The convection feature cooks about 33% faster.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veggie Pad Thai

My family is not big on spicy, so this one is super mild and really tasty.

Veggie Pad Thai

16 oz rice noodles (not too thin)
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 White or yellow onion, coarsely diced
1 cup chopped red and yellow bell peppers
3/4 cup chopped carrots
about 8 asparagus spears chopped in 2 inch pieces
about 2 cups fresh broccoli
about 8-10 baby bella mushrooms cut in quarters
Sauce (Recipe below)

Soak noodles according to package instructions.
Make sauce (see below).
Place broccoli, mushroom and asparagus in steamer and steam lightly.
Heat coconut oil on medium high heat in the bottom of a large skillet or pot and saute onion, peppers and carrots on medium heat until onions are translucent.
Add noodles and sauce to pot and stir fry for about 3-5 minutes- til noodles are al dente. Add steamed veggies and combine well.


4 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 red bell pepper
1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
juice of 1 lime
5-6 small/medium cloves fresh garlic
1/2 to 1 tsp powdered ginger
1/8- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on your heat preference)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 c water
3 tbsp corn starch

Put sauce ingredients in blender and blend until smooth, then bring to a simmer in small pot, stirring occasionally until thickened.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

This one is another slight adaptation from The Original Fast Foods book. I must give credit where credit is due!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

2 1/2 cups chopped carrots
2 1/2 cups diced potatoes
1/2 medium yellow onion
2 tsp sea salt
3 cups water
2 cups organic vegetable broth
3/4 cup raw cashews
2 tbsp Vogue instant chicken base (msg free)
5-6 cups fresh broccoli
1-2 cups frozen corn kernels
Salt and Pepper (always fresh ground)
(The OFF recipe calls for nutritional yeast instead of chicken base to give a cheesy flavor- I had none, but I would love to try it that way as well. This also renders the recipe vegetarian/vegan friendly)

Combine 1 cup carrot, one cup potatoes and all of the broccoli in steamer and cook to desired firmness.
Bring 3 cups water and salt to a boil in a large pot, add 1 1/2 cups each of potato and carrot as well as the onion. Cook until soft and pour the whole thing (water and all into blender with cashews and chicken base (or nutritional yeast). Blend until smooth and return to pot. Stir in vegetable broth. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add steamed vegetables to blended mixture along with corn. Stir well and enjoy!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Roasted Garlic Dressing

I didn't have all the ingredients I wanted for a recipe I had brewing in my head, so I improvised. It wasn't one of my best and I hope to tweak it with the right ingredients at some other time, but the dressing was so yum that I thought I'd post that recipe and some suggestions for it's use here.

Roasted Garlic Dressing

1 head fresh garlic
about 3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1-2 tsp sea salt

Chop the top 1/4 off of the head of garlic and drizzle/rub with a little olive oil. Wrap tightly in tinfoil and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes.
Remove from oven and foil and let cool for about 10 minutes.
Squeeze all the garlic cloves out of the head and put them in a blender (I use my magic bullet) with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, parsley and sea salt . Pulse until smooth.

This would be awesome on a lentil or quinoa salad, roasted potatoes, the rainbow roasted veggies (see prior recipe), a fresh green salad, spinach salad, the possibilities are endless!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sweet Potato Pasta

This is a new creation that got the family approval. Healthy and delicious.

Sweet Potato Pasta

approx 12 oz whole grain pasta (I used spaghetti, but other types would work)
3 medium or 2 large sweet potatoes or yams
2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, diced
approx 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 14 oz can coconut milk
approx 1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
sea salt to taste (approx. 1-2 tsp)

Cook pasta according to directions, drain well and toss with a little olive oil.

Peel and chop sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes. Steam until soft (about 15 minutes).
Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft.
Add corn and spinach to oil and onion and mix to coat.
Place steamed sweet potatoes and coconut milk in blender and blend until smooth.
Add smooth mix to pan with spinach and stir well.
Add basil, garlic and oregano. Stir over medium low heat until heated through.
Serve over cooked pasta.
Enjoy with a colorful green salad!

Our Favorite Dessert- Berry Delicious Pudding

This comes from my mother-in-law- thanks Joyce!
Dessert can be healthy too!

Berry Delicious Pudding

1 box silken tofu
2-3 cups frozen strawberries (you can use blueberries or other berries as well, but strawberries are our favorite by far!)
2-3 tbsp agave nectar

Run some water over the strawberries to thaw a bit, then put it all in the blender and smooth it up.
This one reminds me of the very yummiest strawberry pudding pop.

What about breakfast?

I post a lot of dinner ideas, and they almost always make enough for leftover lunches the next day, but what about breakfast? The goal is nutrition. I pack as much in as possible so that when nutrient needs are met first thing in the morning, we end up snacking less on junk throughout the day and I send my family off knowing that they have what they need so that I don't have to worry about what they consume when they are away. Here are some of our easy favorites.

Ultimate Nutrition Smoothies
Sometimes these are more nutrient packed than others. It depends on how badly I need to go shopping! Fruit is a seasonal thing as well, so we have to take that into account. Sometimes I send half the apple or pear in my son's lunch and only put half in the shake, it just depends.
Here are some ideas.
1/2 c water (mostly to help the blender work better!)
1 cup 100% grape juice
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup ground pumpkin seeds
2-3 tbsp ground sunflower seed kernels
1 banana
1 apple
1 mango
1 pear
2 cups fresh spinach (makes the color interesting, but doesn't change the flavor much)
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1 peach (or enough frozen slices to equal 1/2-1 peach) white and yellow peaches have different flavor so sometimes I add both
1/2 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
1/4 cantaloupe
1/2- 1 cup frozen honeydew melon
1-2 cups frozen or fresh strawberries

You get the point- throw in whatever you can and believe it or not, it tastes fruity and delicious. You have to blend it really well and it helps (at least with anything but a vitamix which could very possibly puree a baseball) to add things a few at a time and blend well.
My kids love this, but sometimes will only drink it with a straw. They have it almost every morning with a whole wheat toast with agave and cinnamon.
Since I am not keen on the idea of getting up at 6 am before my husband leaves for work and turning on the blender, I make a big blender full the night before and store it in the fridge in airtight water/blender bottles (a thermos would work well too) and Aaron drinks it on his way to work. It doesn't separate and stores really well. We try to have these 5 mornings a week.

But for cold mornings when we are low on the fresh stuff:

Sweet Whole Grains

(From my sweet friend Nae)
You can mix this up however you care to. I cook up a big batch in my rice cooker and keep it in a tupperware in the fridge, then warm up however much we need in the morning.
2.5 cups of whole grain
(Spelt, brown rice, pearl barley, wheat... or a combination of any or all)
7.5 cups water
Cook until water is absorbed.

It the morning:
warm 1-2 cups of cooked grains. Add 1-2 tbsp coconut oil and 1-2 tbsp agave nectar per cup of grains. Mix it up and enjoy!

We like to have at least one fruit with our breakfast, which you can eat separately or chopped up and mixed in.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yummy Sweet Balsamic Dressing

No gooky fillers here... just flavor.

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp sea salt

Place everything in a jar or bottle and shake it up baby!
Makes enough for about 2-3 good sized salad servings. (My salad serving may be larger than yours!)

Come to think of it, a little crushed basil might rock in this dressing. Try it and let me know!

Veggie Shepherd's Pie

A vegetarian twist on a cozy, hearty comfort food.
If you have kids that are picky about the way their food looks, you may have to talk fast. The gravy is delicious, but quite green and oozy! It'd be a great one for St. Patty's Day.
For ease and convenience, you could use a frozen veggie mix and add the onion and whatever else.

Veggie Shepherd's Pie

1 - 2 cups broccoli florettes
1 cup carrots
1/3 onion (white, red or yellow)
about 8 spears asparagus
1-2 cups cauliflower
1-2 cups fresh or frozen green beans
1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
1 can coconut milk
1 large clove garlic
a little but of grated onion
about 1 cup finely diced mushrooms
1-2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 red pepper
2 tbsp corn starch or other thickener
sea salt

8 red potatoes (or whatever you have- adjust the numbers for approximate potato size)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup rice milk or coconut milk
2 tbsp butter or vegan spread
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and/or peel potatoes. Chop and put on to boil with whole garlic cloves.
If using fresh veg, chop coarsely and steam lightly (not too much or you'll end up with mush).
Place steamed veg or veggie mix in bottom of baking dish.
When potatoes are soft, drain, mash and mix with rice milk, butter and salt.
To make sauce:
Heat oil on medium heat in skillet or pan.
Saute mince garlic, onion and mushrooms in skillet for about 2 minutes. Add coconut milk and stir well. Whisk in corn starch. bring to a low boil and then turn down heat to simmer, stirring frequently.
Place spinach and red peppers in food processor or blender and puree, adding a little water if necessary. Mix puree into gravy mixture in pan. Sea salt to taste.
Pour gravy over vegetables in baking dish, cover with mashed potatoes, top with a little sea salt and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

(I told my kids the gravy was Halloween ooze.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Balsamic Garden Pasta

Once upon a time I created a chicken pasta that swiftly became my husband's favorite. He requested it last night, but I have an aversion to chicken lately and with our current 90% vegan lifestyle, the chick doesn't fly. And so, an adaptation.

Balsamic Garden Pasta

approx. 14 oz whole grain spaghetti or other whole grain pasta
1/2- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil
approx 2 cups grated carrots
1 large clove fresh minced garlic
approx 3/4 cup finely diced red pepper
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms (about 8 baby bellas)
approx 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
approx 2-3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
about 1/2- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
sea salt
garlic powder
dried basil

Cook pasta according to package directions. Toss with a little olive oil and set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet or pot.
Saute garlic, carrots, peppers, mushrooms and corn, on medium heat for a few minutes, adding more oil as needed.
Add cooked noodles to skillet along with balsamic, more oil, spices, tomato and spinach.
Toss everything together over medium low heat until spinach is wilted.
Serve warm on it's own or with garlic bread.

My husband liked this just as well as the original chicken pasta.

Monday, October 27, 2008

An Old Fave- Quinoa Salad

Cold or warm, this one's a winner.

Cook up about 2 cups of quinoa (I do it in the rice cooker). Cook it just as you would rice- at a 3:1 water to grain ratio (so 6 cups of water, two cups of quinoa).

While it is cooking, start chopping some veg!
This is another one of those 'whatever you've got' recipes.

My favorites:
black beans
tomatoes, seeded and chopped
cucumber, seeded and chopped
red/purple onion
frozen or fresh corn kernels
chopped flat leaf or baby spinach
red peppers
yellow peppers
chopped or shredded carrots
sliced black olives
artichoke hearts

Chop everything pretty finely and place in a large bowl or tupperware (with a lid is good but not mandatory). Add the cooked, warm quinoa to the bowl and mix well. Add 1/2 to 1 whole bottle of Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing. (Or your favorite Italian type dressing. I have also done this with olive oil, balsamic, white vinegar, agave, garlic powder and sea salt.)
Mix everything together and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

I like this one better cold after it's had at least an hour to soak. SOOOO good!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pina Colada Chutney

I was two weeks out from my last Costco trip and in need of some lunch but unwilling to eat anything just for the sake of eating. I needed something good. Out came random cans and leftovers and the dregs of my fresh stuff and here's what happened:

Pina Colada Chutney

1 cup leftover cooked brown rice
1/2 large can drained and rinsed black beans
1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes with sweet onions
1/2 can drained pineapple
approx 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
3-4 tbsp unsweetened shaved coconut

Throw everything but the coconut into a pot and mix well. Heat on stove top stirring occasionally until warmed through. Top each serving with desired amount of coconut and enjoy!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

For Dinner Tonight

This one is an adaptation of a recipe from my awesome mother-in-law- who adapted it from an "Original Fast Foods" recipe.
It is super easy and super yum and calls for basically whatever you have around!

Rainbow Roasted Veggie Potatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chunk and chop whatever good veg you have into a bowl.
Some of my faves for this:
red onion
whole garlic cloves
yellow squash
asparagus (cut in two inch sections)
fresh or frozen green beans
chopped and seeded roma tomatoes
red, yellow or green peppers
baby carrots

Drizzle in some olive oil and toss to coat. Spread veg mix onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper if desired). Put in hot oven for about 40 minutes, stirring at 20 minutes.
While veg roast, chop, boil and mash potatoes (red are my favorite- I leave the skins on, whatever you have will do) with a little butter, sea salt and chicken broth, vegetable broth or coconut milk.
Serve roasted veggies over mashed potatoes.

Originally there was a gravy that went over this, but we love it without the gravy and just nixed it altogether.

You can also substitute the mashed potatoes for mashed sweet potatoes or yams.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Autumn Pasta Rolls

Yum. This is another creation of mine. Easy and healthy.

Autumn Pasta Rolls
1 package Ayuzama wraps (sheets used to make eggrolls)
1/2 small to medium zucchini
1 gala apple (fuji or similar type would work)
approx. 2-3 cups fresh spinach
approx 1 cup shredded mozzarella plus a little extra to sprinkle on top
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried basil
1 and 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Pasta sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
(place all in blender and pulse until mixed well but slightly chunky)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place spinach and cheese in food processor with chopping blades. Pulse until finely chopped. Remove chopping blades and use grater to grate cored apple and zucchini into the mix. Add nutmeg, basil, oregano, garlic and a little salt and stir with spoon by hand until well incorporated.
Spread a few spoonfuls of sauce in bottom of baking dish (prepared with cooking spray). Scoop about 1/3-1/2 cup of filling into the center of a wrap sheet and roll into a tube and place roll in baking dish. Repeat until filling is gone, placing wraps side by side in baking dish. Once dish is full, cover wraps with remaining sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for about 5 more minutes. Let cool and set for about 10 minutes and serve with a colorful green salad.
Makes about 8 rolls- feeds 4-6.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Savory Garlic Coconut Shrimp Risotto

Holy Moly. This one came out of nowhere!

Once a week or so our family eats a little meat with our dinner. It usually ends up being Sunday night, but sometimes we have it on Saturdays too. We try to keep the animal product consumption below 10%.
Tonight I pulled some shrimp out of the freezer and some leftover brown rice out of the fridge and made magic! I made this up- yes, but I don't know quite how. Heaven.

Savory Garlic Coconut Shrimp Risotto
approx 2 to 2 1/2 cups frozen shrimp (pre-cooked, de-veined, tail off- as easy as it comes)
6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups water
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
1 13 oz can coconut milk (you'll use 3/4 of it)
3/4 cup frozen corn
approx 1 tsp chili powder

1. Defrost shrimp in warm water.
2.Place garlic cloves, water and 1/2 tsp salt in blender (I used my magic bullet) and pulse until garlic is in fairly small chunks.
3.Drain shrimp, place in bowl and cover with garlic water mixture. Marinate for 10 minutes.
4. Heat coconut oil in large skillet, add diced red pepper and saute for approx 1 minute.
5. Strain water from shrimp and garlic. Add lime juice and a little extra salt and toss to coat.
6. Add shrimp mixture to skillet and stir to coat with oil. Cook for approx 2 minutes
7. Add about 1/2 can coconut milk to skillet and bring to boil, then turn down to simmer. Add chili powder and a little salt. Mix well.
8. Add brown rice and mix in well. Let cook for 2 minutes or so and then add corn.
9. As the rice soaks up the milk, gradually add about 1/4 more can of coconut milk while stirring.
10. Let simmer on medium low until most of moisture is soaked up and it's at about a risotto consistency.
Serve with a colorful green salad and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When 'friend' is not strong enough a word

Some people are brought into our lives for some small purpose, a fleeting moment in the eternities that guides us ever so subtly on our path. Others effect us awesomely. They boldly help to mold our very beings, to fill chasms and coax us to expand ourselves. They wash in like a tidal wave, turning us on our ear and morphing moments of fear into the thrill ride of a lifetime. They sand smooth the rough spots and build beautiful monuments on our souls. These are those that add fulfillment, that nourish and sate in the far reaches of our spirits. That settle themselves like puzzle pieces into the definition of who we are as if they belong permanently- because they do.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Awesome food and other blabber

We (my little family of 5) went to Denver for my brother-in-law's wedding last month. I came home inspired and determined to live and even healthier lifestyle. I ordered Original Fast Foods, Took a major shopping trip to Costco and Smith's Marketplace, and we were off on a health adventure. Since then I have been dropping weight by the minute and I feel amazing. I have reached my wedding weight without even trying and I will be surpassing it soon. I don't miss meat- and even though we have a little once or twice a week, most of the time I don't even like it much. I don't really miss dairy much either. I love that our lifestyle isn't 100% and terribly stringent. I love that this book has opened my mind to the endless possibilities and variety that can be involved in a mostly vegan diet. One of my favorite recipes so far:

Sweet Potato Curry with Spinach and Chickpeas



  1. You may choose to cook the sweet potatoes however you prefer.
  2. I like to peel, chop and steam mine in a veggie steamer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Baking or boiling work well too.
  4. While sweet potatoes cook, heat 1-2 tsp of canola or vegetable oil over medium heat.
  5. Add onions and sauté 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to soften.
  6. Next, add the curry powder, cumin, and cinnamon, and stir to coat the onions evenly with spices.
  7. Add tomatoes with their juices, and the chickpeas, stir to combine.
  8. Add ½ cup water and raise heat up to a strong simmer for about a minute or two.
  9. Next, add the fresh spinach, a couple handfuls at a time, stirring to coat with cooking liquid.
  10. When all the spinach is added to the pan, cover and simmer until just wilted, about 3 minutes.
  11. Add the cooked sweet potatoes to the liquid, and stir to coat.
  12. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes, or until flavors are well combined.
  13. Transfer to serving dish, toss with fresh cilantro, and serve hot.
  14. This dish is nice served over basmati or brown rice.

It is so good.

Last week my mother-in-law, her sister Judy, and two of my sil's (and my darling tiny daughter of course) went to Omar's Living Cuisine in Sugarhouse, UT- right next door to my sister's The O2 Spa. Culinary Utopia! Honestly. The. Best. Food. Ever.
It's all raw and healthy so you don't need to skip dessert- and we didn't! We shared all our entree's and there was not one thing I didn't adore.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 bar ivory soap
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup baking soda
1 cup oxiclean free
1/8 tsp tea tree oil (optional) - (you can use any other essential oil of choice)

Grate the soap into a food processor, then add everything else and let the chopping blades to the rest. It took me about 5 minutes. Each load takes about 2 Tbsp.
Borax is like 2.68 a box (and that will last me a long time)
Baking soda we all know is super cheap.
The Oxiclean Free cost about 5 bucks for a bucket and the tea tree oil I just had.
Cost effective, environmentally conscious and works great so far!

Homemade cloth diapers

I'm in DIY mode. I'm finding better ways everyday. The new plan- homemade cloth diapers.
Even I though I was crazy at first. Then at a family reunion I approached the most natural DIYer in the family- my cousin's wife. She's a homebirther, a babywearer, and- it turns out- a cloth diaperer. My hero. I knew if anyone would be doing it, it was her.
She makes the coolest cloth all-in-one diapers I've ever seen and by the end of our conversation I was totally confident in my ability to do this. Turns out tons of moms to it and love it. My fabric is on it's way. PUL is the key (palyurethane laminated fabric). Not only easy, but WATERPROOF and fully machine washable! I can't wait to start sewing. I have my suede cloth inner linings all cut out. I'm using burley-knit terry as soaker pads and I've even got a great little recipe for cloth wipe solution. All of the fabric and notions cost me about $140 for about 36-40 diapers. And since little baby A is already into a medium size, they should last me into potty training.
It makes me feel good that I'm saving money and keeping that many more diapers out of landfills- plus its healthier for my baby!

Edit: I've been asked for more specifics...
Patterns and supply lists here:
Best prices here:

I'll be doing a load of diapers every 2-3 days. Which leads me to my next bw epiphany... homemade laundry detergent. Recipe to follow.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The better way

We've all said it, "There's gotta be a better way."
My latest frustration is the same as all of yours- the fact that it costs me a good 7+ bucks to go visit my family half an hour away? That my car costs more to feed than my three kids do? That I fight back tears every time that little orange line inches closer to that looming white "E"?
All of the above, my friends. We're all feeling it. We're all hating it. And we're all wearing down the plastic trying to make ends meet while we do nothing to change it. We don't know what the crap to do!
The quote has been running through my head for months now-
"If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep on getting what you're getting."
I've seen it work that way in my life over and over. Once I make a shift, I get new results- it sounds so simple it's stupid, but for some reason all of us busy bees keep donking our heads into the glass thinking, "Maybe this time!"
My most prevalent small success was when I ditched my shoes some where abouts May of 2006. I had struggled with constant and sometimes debilitating hip pain for years and at the tender age of 23 had mentally sentenced myself to a life of dealing with it. Then the better way plunked down into my lap in the form of watching my crazy brother-in-law run a marathon barefoot. Long story short, the pain is gone and my feet are still bare 24/7 all because I dared to ditch the norm, ditch my kicks and start questioning. My quest began- find the better way.

I'm on the brink of another 'bw' (better way) epiphany. Some have already had this one or else it wouldn't be out there. My dilemma is simple and common- 3 kids, one car, one husband who works his hiney off 20+ miles away everyday, and not enough dough. We've been borrowing a second car from my in-laws and with the little brother turning 16 this year, our worry meter just went up. We have no money to buy a car and no money to pay for the gas. So I stumbled upon it the other day- maybe not the answer for everyone, but a possible answer for me- a natural gas car. If I can find a good used one and figure out the home phill station, the savings on gas would pay my loan payments for me. Now to get the hubby on board.

It's hard to take the road less traveled. It's hard, when the question comes, "Well if it's so great why isn't everyone doing it?" to answer, "Maybe because everyone is stupid in some way or another." We do what society tells us. We do what has been "proven" by average joe after average joe. Well I'm done with it. I'm questioning everything I can afford to question.

Join me. Maybe if we all start searching for a better way for something, we just might find one.