This blog's purpose is to help make more information available to people to make choices that support their health. Plant-based nutrition is shown to have many health benefits, and I hope to provide ways to make it more affordable.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Cheezy" Broccoli Rice

The only way I used to like broccoli was smothered in cheese whiz, but since then I've found many enjoyable uses for broccoli.  That didn't stop me from making a "cheezy" broccoli dish.

My friend Turbo introduced me to this “vegan cheese” sauce that is much healthier than most cheese alternatives.  His version included lemon juice or vinegar, which I don’t usually include.  Miso and tahini can be pricy, but a container of miso can last quite a while.  You can try to make your own tahini by grinding sesame seeds.  Miso has a high sodium content, so if you're watching your sodium, this may not be something you want to use.  But it has a bit of that umami taste, which is also enjoyable.

Equal parts miso & tahini, plus some water to make it creamy.  I often add garlic powder, lots of nutritional yeast, and turmeric.

So I cooked up some brown rice and parboiled some chopped broccoli.  I mixed the sauce up, and once everything was cooked, I mixed it all together.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cantaloupe "Mousse"

I really don't know if this would qualify as a mousse, or a pudding for that matter, which is what I intended, but it's still good.  What I did was I made something similar to my mostly-raw healthy chocolate pudding, but made it simply from cantaloupe, and macadamia nuts.  It was a big liquidy due to the water-content of the melon, but it was still really good.

I blended about a half-full of nuts (you could use cashews) to a powder in the blender, then added the fruit of a half of a medium to large cantaloupe, adding a dash of nutmeg and some vanilla extract.  I felt all fancy slicing a little bit off the bottom of the empty cantaloupe shell so it would sit flat, and pouring the mixture back in, and eating it out of that.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Curry Carrot Salad

Carrots are one of the lowest costing vegetables available, which makes it one that I purchase often.  It's great as a snack or incorporated in many recipes.  When it's raw, it's best if you chew it thoroughly which grating helps with.  If you think you don't like the taste of cooked carrots, try parboiling or blanching it.
The following recipe includes raw carrots.  I found a tahini curry dressing recipe online somewhere and this is my take on it.  It seemed like an odd combo, but it is actually one of my favorite dressings.  I find that it works best with something sweet.  I've put it on top of arugula and chopped peaches, for example.  Currants or raisins would be a good addition.

Curry Carrot Salad
1 ½ carrots
1 apple
A few handfuls of spinach, chopped
¼ c tahini
¼ c fresh lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
Splash of bragg’s liquid aminos
Dash of garlic powder

Grate the carrots.  Dice or grate the apple (I like slicing the apple to the core in several cuts horizontally and vertically, then slicing off the flesh from the core).  Chop the spinach (optional).  Mix the tahini, curry powder, bragg’s, and garlic powder, lemon juice, with a little bit of water to make it a little thinner so it can be tossed thoroughly through the salad.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Tuna" Salad

A friend of mine, Amy, once made “vegan tuna sandwiches” and I liked them so much, I asked for the recipe.  After I stopped buying vegenaise I hadn’t made it, but then I experimented with tahini in coleslaw and again with the vegan tuna salad, and really liked it.

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained- or equivalent dry chickpeas cooked
3 slices onion, chopped
½ cup dill pickle relish or chopped dill pickles
1 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp tahini
opt. 2 tsp flax oil
opt. splash of lemon juice
opt. chopped celery

Mash the chickpeas in a medium-sized bowl, or a flat bottomed casserole dish makes for easier mashing.  Chop onions, and mix everything together.  It eat this with rice cakes, but it’s good on bread, or with chips, or as a side-dish. 

Variation: use crumbled tempeh (cooked and cooled) instead of chickpeas.
Variation: soaked raw sunflower seeds instead of chickpeas, skip the tahini or use less
Variation: add sauerkraut instead of pickles

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ful Medammes with Greens

I ended up with three cans of fava beans, which I normally wouldn't be drawn towards, but I decided to make a healthy dish based on the Middle Eastern fava bean-based dish called ful medammes or foul mudammas (or other variations of spellings).  The dish I had actually had before contains a sort of tomato sauce, but the one I made this time was inspired by one I've seen at another local restaurant, which I haven't tried since I usually can't pass up the falafel sandwich (no, it doesn't meet the guidelines I usually go by, but you can't always be perfect).  I've made other beans-and-greens dishes with tahini and lemon juice that are similar, so the spices and the beans could be varied.  I'd try some chickpeas.

I cut up a clove of garlic and sauteed it in a pan, added a little bit of water and 1 can of fava beans as the garlic began to brown, then added cumin, paprika, and pepper, and a dash of cayenne powder.  I let that cook for a while.  As far as I know, these types of dishes do not contain any greens (aside from parsley sometimes?), but I decided to chop up some kale, and I added that, making sure I kept the pan moist with water.  As that cooked for a bit, I juiced a half of a lemon.  I let the greens cook just till they're well-wilted but still vibrantly green.  Then I drizzled some tahini (maybe about a tablespoon) over the food.  Lastly, I poured the lemon juice on and mixed it well.  Oh, and I sprinkled on a little salt to taste. 

This was so good, I had it again the next day (which was today), and plan to make this dish for a potluck or another opportunity to share this dish.

Fava beans, if my memory serves, are pretty cheap at middle eastern markets, and would be even cheaper if you cooked them from the dried beans.  They vary in size though, and the ones I've seen dried are rather large, so expect that they'll take longer to make than other beans like pintos.  I have always felt that favas would make a good bean burger, but I never make bean burgers.  My point is more that it has a distinct flavor that I think is really good and memorable.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cancer-Protective Healthy Dinner Party

I found out recently that a friend of mine has a brain tumor. She's working on raising money for a biopsy. She is raising money through this store.

I decided to have a fundraiser in the form of a healthy food night dinner party. I've done healthy food nights before for free. I buy inexpensive food and prepare healthy, simple, yet tasty recipes to encourage people to eat this way as well. For this event, I made more food than usual, and asked for a suggested donation of $10. It was a small event, but I feel like it went well.

I made a kale, white bean, and tomato stew using canned organic tomato sauce, onions, garlic, cannelini beans, kale, carrots, seasoned with a little paprika, thyme, and garlic. The tomato sauce had some salt in it already.

I also made a black rice salad with a dijon dressing that included dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, garlic, and water. This salad had japonica black rice (which was on sale) and also had chopped sun-dried tomatoes and crushed walnuts. It was meant to have greens added, but I ran out of time and there were plenty of greens in the other dishes.

The other salad I made was mostly raw: raw chopped collards and some spinach, chopped apples, with my favorite tahini curry dressing that contained curry powder, lemon juice, tahini, and water. I brought optional currants that people could add to the salad.

The dessert got a lot of praise. I wanted to make something with berries, since these are protective against cancer. I wanted to make something that was mostly whole foods and mostly raw. I got some dates from my local farmers market (the apples, kale, and lemons were from there too). I thawed some mixed organic berries and blended them up with a little bit of lemon juice and vanilla extract. I slightly melted some raw coconut butter (this stuff is probably not incredibly healthy in large quantities, but more ideal that coconut oil, and so rich and delicious) and mixed all this together. I sliced the dates along one side, removed the pit, and stuffed each date with a little of the coconut-berry filling. I had considered putting in some raw cacao nibs, but ran out of time to deal with that.

So over all, I had a variety of whole plant foods, many of which are protective against cancer, including the kale and collards (cruciferous veggies- in the cabbage family), garlic, onions, carotenoids in the carrots and tomatoes, turmeric in the curry powder, and the good stuff (antioxidants) in dark berries (and probably the black rice). Plus a healthy dose of fiber.  Oh, and walnuts have some omega 3 fatty acids.

Of course eating this one meal isn't going to prevent or reverse cancer.  Eating this way on a regular basis can help protect you against cancer.  Discussion reversing cancer would be tricky for anyone to discuss, even seemingly doctors.  But if you are fighting cancer, it makes sense to eat a whole foods plant-based diet.

Further reading:  Eat For Health - The Anti-Cancer Diet
 Foods for Cancer Prevention |  T. Colin Campbell Foundation

Here are some other links I've been sharing with friends and family dealing with cancer:

video/audio: China Study:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tomato, Red Kale, and Tepary Bean Soup

I'm full now from eating a soup I just made with the tepary beans I cooked up this morning. Tepary beans are native to this region (I'm in the Phoenix area), are smaller and faster-cooking, though perhaps not as enjoyable as the traditional white beans for such a soup. They still have a good flavor though.

Kale was on sale, so I had bought some of that, and there were some extra tomatoes at the house. I used a leftover half of an onion, a couple garlic cloves, and sauteed those without oil for a bit, then I added some water, thyme (from my garden!), and dried tarragon.

I chopped up three tomatoes, threw those in, along with a few cups of beans. I removed the kale stems, and rinsed and chopped the leaves, then added about half of that. I let it all cook for several more minutes. I added a bit of salt to taste at the end. I ate about half of the soup, and that was quite filling.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Improvements

My workplace provides free annual health screenings, which has provided some insight into how what I eat (and my physical activity) affects my health. I have been working on eating better for several years with gradual (though in some ways drastic) improvements. I was surprised in some ways to find out 2 years ago, that my cholesterol and blood pressure weren't ideal. I lost the information for that test, but I know that my total cholesterol was somewhere between 180 and 195 (LDL between 100 and 110) and my blood pressure was between 130/80 and 140/90. I was especially surprised that even though I've been vegan for so many years, my cholesterol wasn't as low as it could be (since cholesterol comes from animal products, though it is also produced by the body).

In the next year, and especially leading up to the next test, I tried to eat many more greens, raw veggies, fruits, and less oils, and even less processed foods (which was already pretty low). I was also riding my bike a bit more and had started an exercise routine that I stuck with better. The next test showed great results. My total cholesterol had dropped to 147 with LDL at 68. I didn't do much to improve my diet or exercise over the course of this past year, although I have maintained a better diet than ever before. I just received my newest test results which weren't drastically different but still showed marked improvement: Total cholesterol was 141 and LDL was 56. My HDL (good cholesterol) went up from 68 to 76. My triglycerides, which I have no information about from 2 years ago, were 49 last year and 45 this year. I don't have my blood pressure information from last year, but this year it was 100/72.

It was nice to be able to see such a big difference from 2010 to 2011 and then still an improvement from 2011 to 2012. It gives me more confidence that nearly anyone is capable of making similar and potentially even greater improvements to their health.

Cauliflower Soup with Fresh Dill and Sundried Tomatoes

I've been wanting to use fresh dill since I am growing it my garden. I don't believe I've ever used fresh dill in cooking before. Since I also had cauliflower from the farmer's market, I decided a soup might be good with both those ingredients.

I boiled some cauliflower and chopped potato and sauteed some onion and garlic. I soaked some sun-dried tomatoes in water and a dash of liquid smoke (I wanted to see how that would taste, but I didn't notice a huge difference). I blended up just a handful of cashews in the blender to add some creaminess to the soup, then added the cooked potatoes, cauliflower, onion, and garlic and some of the water (being careful because it was hot). I also added some Bragg's liquid aminos, several stalks of dill, a little garlic powder, and some white pepper. I added more water, but not all the water from boiling the cauliflower and potatoes, because I wanted a thick soup.

Since I had some peas growing in my garden, I added some to the soup, but didn't find that it added much to the dish. I cut up the sun-dried tomatoes with kitchen scissors and added them to the soup. It was quite good. If it didn't have the tomatoes, I would've perhaps added more salt or Bragg's or added some lemon juice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Salsa Zucchini over Millet

Tonight I made a batch of millet, referred to as a pseudo-grain because it is actually a seed. It reminds me a bit of couscous because of it's color and texture.

Zucchini was on sale the other day, so I bought two, and decided to cook them up with some salsa, which was inspired by a weird vegan tostada recipe I made for my family a while back when they were willing to try food I made- I just wish I had tried the recipe first, because that one was a bit lacking. Anyway, I sliced the two small-medium zucchinis in half lengthwise then sliced it into half-circles a few millimeters thick. I cooked that up in a cast iron pan, adding some chopped garlic, stirring often. Once the zucchini was pretty tender, I added maybe a 1/3 cup salsa, stirred a few more times. Then I added a tiny bit of tahini (like 1/2 tbsp) and some nutritional yeast. I ate that with some millet. There was enough salt in the salsa to not feel like i had to add any.

I really like this kind of dish with avocado, but since I had none, I added the tahini to give it a little creaminess. At times I have also added greens like spinach.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Hard squash is something you can buy without using for a while. I bought an acorn squash on sale a couple weeks ago and finally got around to using it. I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and baked it. I had cooked some dried beans earlier in the day so I decided to use those along with some greens from my garden, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and crushed walnuts.
I seasoned it with some balsamic vinegar, a splash of Bragg's liquid aminos, paprika, and chipotle powder. When everything was done, I scooped the bean filling into the squash. This is something I'd definitely make again.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Indian food

I love Indian food. Over time I have gathered various spices and cookbooks which make it easier to make Indian food at home. I often browse through the recipes at, because although I don't have all the ingredients most of the time, I've still had some delicious food by mostly following the recipes. Plus they have videos for people who find that useful.

I have made the coconut chutney, the Lemon Rice but with quinoa instead of rice, I somewhat randomly chose this Channa recipe to base my seasoning of the leftover black lentils I needed to use up tonight.

You can make so many delicious plant-based dishes with an Indian influence. I choose vegan recipes and try to minimize or omit the oil, salt, etc.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

White Beans, Tomatoes, and Kale

I'm watching Forks Over Knives while I eat dinner tonight. I thought I'd stop to write up what my dinner consists of before I forget.

I just used a can of white northern beans, rinsed, and cooked it with a little chopped onion and two chopped roma tomatoes. I added a little bit of Bragg's liquid aminos, lime juice (not fresh unfortunately), garlic powder, and chili powder. Then I added some chopped kale and cilantro. When it was done, I added maybe 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of tahini and mixed it all together. It was quite quick and it tasted delicious.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chickpea Cilantro Soup

I never used to like soup, aside from chicken and stars with a bunch of saltines. I think the reason I wasn't into soup had to do with not having much soup growing up, as well as not liking celery, which seems to be in most soups.

I've been surprised, however, that I've like nearly every soup I've made, even without a recipe. Inspired by Dr. Joel Fuhrman's suggestions of cooking soups, I've tried a few that involve blending.

This time I made a soup not very much like those Dr. Fuhrman recommends, but good and healthy nonetheless. First I sauteed some onions and then some garlic in a cast iron pan. I transferred this to a bigger pot and added some water, turned it to medium-high and added some chili powder, garlic powder, Bragg's liquid aminos, epazote, and part of a chopped over-sized and tough zucchini that some friends grew in their garden. Once the zucchini was pretty well cooked, I put some water, sunflower seeds, and leftover cilantro stems into a blender, then used a slotted spoon to add about half of the non-liquid ingredients from the soup pot.

You have to be careful with hot liquids in blenders. I usually use less liquid while cooking, then add cool water for the blending, then mix the rest of the hot liquid in at the end- in the pot.

I poured the portion I just blended into a large glass container that I will use for leftovers if there are any. I then added a bit more water and the rest of the non-liquid pieces from the cooked soup. I then added all of the blended soup in with the liquid that remained in the pot. I then added some cooked chickpeas, tasted it, and added a tiny bit more each of Bragg's, cayenne, and chipotle powder. I also added a little bit of lemon juice (didn't have fresh). Now I need to eat it because it's getting cold...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

No, this is no tofu pudding. This is no "sugar-free" pudding with fake sweeteners, sugar alcohols or stevia, this is a delicious pudding made from mostly raw whole foods. This is healthy enough that I've had it for breakfast a couple times. It's probably less calories than many cereals people eat for breakfast.

I wasn't going to include this because it wasn't as affordable for a treat as I'd like to promote. But in comparison to a similar sized serving of a frozen dessert like soy icecream, I'd say it's pretty comparable.

The key to this recipe is a nicely ripened mango. I've made this several times now, and the riper the mango, the less it clashes with the chocolate.

So initially I made this with a handful of macadamia nuts (unsalted!), but when I ran out of those, I made this with cashews and was not disappointed. Today I made it with raw almonds and it was good, but I think I prefer cashews.

I take about a handful of nuts per mango and blend them up in a blender or food processor (the blender seems to work best for this recipe) until I have a finely ground powder. You could also use a nut butter, in which case I could add that after blending the mango. Then i rinse and peel the mango with a veggie peeler. I cut the mango off the core in smallish pieces and put all those pieces in the blender. I add some vanilla extract, maybe a teaspoon or so. I blend this for a bit, and I might have to scrape the sides and the bottom to get it all blended. Then I add cocoa powder to taste. I usually add enough that it looks and tastes like chocolate pudding (although I've not had any sort of chocolate pudding in a long time, so I'm not sure how accurate this is). Then it's done! It should be a nice pudding-like consistency.

I would like to also try this with avocado instead of mango some day...