Here is another summer soup for your palate! Like a traditional vichyssoise, this soup can be served either hot or cold. It is so rich and satisfying it definitely leaves you wanting more! You’re welcome.
Easy Summer Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head cauliflower, cored and chopped (about 7 cups)
1 (16-ounce) cans of white beans, drained and rinsed (cannellini, great northern, or navy)
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup non-dairy milk of your choice (I used full fat coconut milk)
White truffle oil
Chopped chives for garnish, hazelnuts, sriracha or other hot sauce, microgreens (all optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower, beans, potatoes, mustard, and spices, except salt and pepper. Stir well coating all ingredients. Cook for about 1 minute. Add wine to deglaze the pan. Add vegetable broth, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the cauliflower is completely tender about 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the plant-based milk. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender). Transfer the soup to the refrigerator and chill. Drizzle soup with truffle oil, add a few drops of sriracha, hazelnuts, and sprinkle with the chives/microgreens, before serving.
This is one of my most favorite meals. Not only does it check all the healthy boxes the combination of flavors is out of sight! The great thing about this bowl is that it can be made an infinite number of ways. I usually always have pickled veggies and fresh spouts on hand so they made an easy and flavorful addition to what might otherwise be a basic Buddha Bowl. Roasted Cauliflower is my most favorite addition to any bowl and with the sweet pickled onions and creamy hummus, well, sufficed to say it was my favorite meal of the week!Print
- 1/2 head cauliflower chopped into 1” florets
- 1 (12 oz) pack drained organic tofu, cut into 1” cubes
- 2 cups sangria tomatoes (grape will work too) sliced on the bias
- 1 cucumber sliced
- 1 (15.5 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (7 oz) jar of sundried tomatoes, sliced into matchsticks
- 1 cup pickled red onions
- Hummus (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 cup sprouts (alfalfa, or microgreens)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
- Pepper, to taste
- Sunflower Seeds (pepitas work, too!)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Slice cauliflower into 1″ pieces, add to large mixing bowl. Drain tofu and cut into 1″ cubes, add to cauliflower. Slice tomatoes on the bias (I like to use multi-colored tomatoes for presentation) and add to the cauliflower-tofu mixture. Combine cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl, reserving 2 tsp of spice mix in a separate bowl. Coat mixture with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, stir well making sure all pieces are coated, add spices, and stir. Add tofu, cauliflower, and tomatoes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes, turning mixture at halfway point.
When vegetables are done, divide all ingredients, except sprouts and hummus, between 4 bowls. Add hummus to the center of each bowl, and sprinkle with the remaining spice mix. Garnish each bowl with sunflower seeds and sprouts. Enjoy!
Feel free to use any vegetable of choice.
Keywords: hummus, bowl, roasted vegetables, cauliflower
For as long as I can remember Summer meant splashing around at the lake, drinking lemonade, and eating my weight in watermelon. So when a friend of mine told me about a watermelon soup with jalapeno she had somewhere down in Florida, I immediately went to work! After making at least a half-dozen recipes, I finally figured it out! Both are a fruit, and the savory tomato combined with the sweet watermelon makes for a great pairing! This magical soup is not only a favorite of mine, but it’s also a favorite for everyone who tries it! So, my friends…here you go!Print
Easy and Delicious Summer Soup
- 6–7 cups of diced watermelon
- 1 red onion roughly chopped (reserve 2 Tbsp for garnish, reserve 1/4 cup, and dice if you prefer a textured soup)
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 cucumber, roughly chopped (reserve 2 Tbsp for garnish, reserve 1/4 c, and dice if you prefer a textured soup)
- 2 jalapenos, seeds removed, chopped (reserve 2 Tbsp for garnish)
- 4 Roma tomatoes cored, roughly chopped (reserve 2 Tbsp for garnish, reserve 1/4 c and dice if you prefer a textured soup)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar + 2 Tbsps
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves roughly chopped (can sub 2 Tbsp dry basil)
- 1 Tbsp fresh dill weed (garnish)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
In a blender add 1/2 watermelon first and then layer with tomatoes, jalapenos, and bell pepper. Add cider vinegar, olive oil, and pulse. Add the onion, cucumber, remaining watermelon, and basil, puree until smooth. Salt and Pepper to taste! Chill for 1 hour and serve.
Garnish with reserved onion, bell pepper, cucumber, jalapenos, and fresh dill.
*Add Watermelon to Blender first. This will make it really easy to blend.
Keywords: Vegan Soup, Watermelon, Gazpacho, Summer Soups
2 (8 oz) packs of cremini mushrooms 1 yellow onion, diced 3 cloves garlic 1 medium-size carrot 1 medium celery rib 2 Tbsp tomato paste 2 Tbsp oil, or water ½ cup red wine 1 tsp basil 1 tsp oregano 1 tsp salt ½ tsp red pepper flakes ½ cup cashew cream 1 tsp rosemary In a food processor, pulse the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and mushrooms until finely chopped. In a large pan warmed over medium heat, add oil, or 2 Tbsp water, if not using oil. Add the vegetables, season with basil, oregano, and cook over moderate heat until softened, 20 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp of water, or stock, as needed, to prevent sticking. Add the cream, rosemary, and 1/4 cup of grated vegan cheese and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the wine, salt, and red pepper; and stir. Cook until the wine evaporates. About 3-4 minutes.
At this point, you can either add warm pasta, and 1 cup of water to the sauce and toss, stirring until the pasta is well-coated, or stuff shells and top with remaining creme sauce. Serve.
2 (8 oz) packs of cremini mushrooms
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 medium-size carrot
1 medium celery rib
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp oil, or water
½ cup red wine
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup cashew cream
1 tsp rosemary
In a food processor, pulse the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and mushrooms until finely chopped. In a large pan warmed over medium heat, add oil, or 2 Tbsp water, if not using oil. Add the vegetables, season with basil, oregano, and cook over moderate heat until softened, 20 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp of water, or stock, as needed, to prevent sticking.
Add the cream, rosemary, and 1/4 cup of grated vegan cheese and simmer for 5 minutes.
That said, as a staunch advocate of veganism, I have been accused a time or two of being self-righteous. But self-righteous people believe they are morally superior and often speak in terms of unfounded certainties. In other words, they espouse their own “self-serving” versions of the truth. That is not me, nor my intention. The truths I speak of have been scientifically proven over and over again. These laws of nature are predictable, measurable, and, as it seems–inevitable. But I have learned to be careful when I speak because sometimes passion can be mistaken for preaching. So, I will do my best to walk the line.
I have written before about the carnage of modern-day animal agriculture, an industry whose practices are protected by “AgGag Laws.” The Agricultural Gag Laws are designed to silence whistleblowers who reveal animal abuses on industrial farms. Ag-gag laws currently exist in seven states, penalizing whistleblowers who investigate the day-to-day activities of industrial farms. (1). In my state of Missouri, whistleblowing has been criminalized. In other words, if someone exposes the truth of any atrocity, they can be prosecuted and penalized. The State legislature and the lobbyist behind them believe that these “truths” can be damaging to corporate interests and their profits.
Organizations like the ASPCA and PETA who make it their mission to expose these inhumane practices are often villainized by the mainstream who believe that abusing a cat or dog is horrifying but are unwilling to take action when it comes to the horrors suffered by agricultural animals. Part of this is cognitive dissonance is due to societal conditioning; we do things because that’s the way everyone does it, but also because the atrocities and abuse in our food system are hidden away.
This abuse leads me to my next point, the conditions that are causing the suffering of these animals. To quote journalist Michael Pollan, “Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do.” I read his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” four years ago and have used it as a reference point for many of my meat-eating friends who have questions about my choice to be a vegan. Before reading Pollan’s book, I had watched a documentary called Food, Inc. Prior to becoming a vegan, I had never given much thought to where my food came from. But once I learned where it came from I was appalled. It became my mission to learn as much as I could and to teach others. I am not going to go into all of that because I already have in previous posts here, but suffice to say what we are going through now, is no surprise to me.
Covid-19 has been referred to as the Wuhan Flu after being traced to a wet market in Wuhan China. These wet food markets sell live animals, without much, if any regulation. Like many other zoonic diseases like Mad-Cow, Swine Flu, Ebola, they are given their names from the animals or areas where they originated. These diseases are passed from animals to humans due to things like “Habitat erosion, which may be one of the biggest factors in how viruses have begun breaking down the walls between us and the animals that originally carried them.” And the most common way they initially transfer to us through our modern-day food system. “It’s the handling that comes before eating — the killing, skinning, and butchering — that is highly risky.” (3)
But that’s China. Just because we don’t have wet markets here in the US doesn’t mean that we don’t get sick from our food here. Currently, there is an outbreak of fatal bird flu in South Carolina that has people worried statewide about the low pathogenic disease, which has mutated into the more severe version and can be transmitted from “species to species.” For years in neighboring Duplin County, North Carolina, where 20% of people who live within a half-mile of a pig or poultry farm have asthma, mucous membrane irritation, respiratory conditions, reduced lung function, and acute blood pressure elevation. Statewide about 900,000 or 10% of the population lives within 3 miles of such farms. And as it often does, it seems to affect mostly minorities and the poor.
In a 2017 article, The Guardian reported that researchers from the University of North Carolina revealed that most of the state’s industrial hog operations disproportionately affect African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans, a pattern, that “is generally recognized as environmental racism.” “They (corporations) fill massive lagoons with [waste], and they take that lagoon stuff and spray it over fields,” said US Senator Cory Booker in recalling a trip to North Carolina late last year. “I watched it mist off of the property of these massive pig farms into black communities. And these African American communities are like, ‘We’re prisoners in our own home.’ The biggest company down there [Smithfield] is a Chinese-owned company, and so they’ve poisoned black communities, land value is down, abhorrent … This corporation is outsourcing its pain, its costs, on to poor black people in North Carolina.”
Former NC State Representative Rep. John Blust in a general assembly meeting called out his colleagues for protecting big business by “passing amendments to prevent anyone who lived more than a half-mile from the source of an alleged nuisance from suing. The law prohibits lawsuits filed more than a year after the farm begins operation or undergoes “a fundamental change” and bar punitive damages unless the farm operator had been convicted of a crime or civil enforcement action for violations related to the alleged nuisance. (4) Blust went on to say that the legislation “shields “one giant corporation” from individual neighbors who have legitimate concerns about the stench, the flies, the buzzards, and the dried remains of sprayed and liquefied hog excrement that coated their houses. Blust and his constituents lost as the bill was ultimately rushed through to avoid debate and amendments.
We have reached a frightening precipice in time, a global crossroads if you will. With recent news reports of groceries seeing meat shortages by the end of the week due to hundreds of Covid-19 outbreaks in meatpacking plants, there will likely be a mad rush to buy up the current supply. If this happens, millions will be forced to find their protein sources from other means. I hope that people will realize what some of us have known all along, ware designed to eat plants. Just because we have evolved to eat meat, doesn’t mean we should. Plants are not only a sustainable resource for human consumption, but they are a viable resource for our planet. Every day I eat the bounty of the plant world, and I am neither hungry or dissatisfied. I am healthy and happy. In the last week, I have had two people reach out to me, wanting me to know that I had helped change their perspective. They are both moving toward veganism. I hope that those two will help two more, who will help two more. Epidemiologists, climate scientists, and countless others have shown through scientific modeling that we don’t make a significant shift and continue to make the same mistakes over and over again; it will eventually lead to our demise. That would be awful. Finally, I am reminded of this great parable I’ve heard for years.
“The Drowning Man.”
A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.
Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”
The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”
So the rowboat went on.
Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”
To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the motorboat went on.
Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”
To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.
Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”
To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”
St. Louis is known for many things: the Arch, Budweiser Beer, Chuck Berry, Bob Costas, and Joe and Jack Buck. We are second only to the New York Yankees for the most World Series wins, we are the current Stanley Cup winners (Go Blues!), and former home to the Super Bowl Champion, St. Louis Rams. Yo, Kurt Warner! And we eat things that nobody else has ever heard of outside of St. Louis, like toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, and the slinger.
The area in the Lou famously referred to as “The Hill” is home to baseball greats Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola. It is also home to our beloved toasted ravioli. As the story goes, a fresh ravioli fell into the fryer at a place called Mama Campisi’s on a day when Joe Garagiola was there. After this fateful event, these little pieces of fried heaven allegedly began appearing on menus around town. Served with a warm marinara sauce, all I can say is, sono così deliziosi!
The Gooey Buttercake, another St. Louis favorite, also came about by accident. Although nothing like a traditional cake, this chewy goodness is part coffeecake and part gooey custard. And if you’ve ever had a piece, you know how sinfully delicious it is. Some say that in the 1930s a baker mistakenly mixed up their ingredients for a traditional coffee cake and voila. Accident, or fate? You be the judge!
And finally, our favorite of the three, “The Slider.” A meal best appreciated and usually served between the hours of midnight and 3:00 AM, at places like the “Eat Rite” diner near Busch stadium, the Slider is essentially anything you want it to be. Yep, it’s that post-drinking, pre-pass out frankenfood that has become a right of passage for those who dare tread in our waters. The basic version is hash browns, eggs, and a hamburger patty smothered in chili, then topped with cheese and chopped onions, and it will leave you feeling a bit dizzy and crying fire in the hole the next day! But the best part of any slinger is it can be any combination of your favorite foods slapped on top of each other and consumed in relatively short order. We prefer to make a healthier vegan version that will not only leave you feeling satisfied, it’s also a great way to finish off all of those leftovers!
Our slinger begins with a basic Tofu Scramble from The Minimalist Baker, which we cook for about 8 minutes before adding a half pack of Trader Joe’s Vegan Chorizo. Made from soy and only a few other natural ingredients, their chorizo tastes just like its traditional counterpart, but without all of the disgusting greasiness. We layer scramble with hashbrowns or roasted potatoes, and then garnish with salsa, avocados, cilantro, hot sauce, 1/4 cup of vegan gravy, or my favorite Cashew Queso! In this picture, I also added a delicious vegan Chili Colorado. You’re welcome.
Chinese, and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, are the two most commonly practiced forms of traditional medicine in Asia. Both share a similar holistic approach—treat the person as a whole vs. treating just a symptom or set of symptoms. Philosophically, however, they are very different from each other. Ayurvedic medicine takes a constitution-based approach, i.e., individuals are born with different traits and characteristics that are unchanging. When their constitution (dosha) is out of balance, it creates a set of symptoms that, if left unchecked, can lead to “dis-ease.” Chinese medicine treats what they call ch’i or qi in the body. Ch’i is a vital energy that connects to all of your organs and their function. It also uses an aggregate of healing modalities, which includes acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy, massage, dietary therapy, Tai Chi and Qi Gong. It is ultimately based on Taoist philosophy. I will write more in-depth about Chinese medicine in a future post, but for now, let’s talk Ayurveda.
Ayurvedic medicine emphasizes the three doshas or biological energies found throughout the human body and mind. They believe that doshas govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprinting for health and fulfillment. These doshas are called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Your constitution, or dosha, is determined at the time of conception. Much like the color of your eyes, or the size of your stature, your composition is unchanging. While we have all three doshas in our body, we each have a dominant dosha that cannot be changed. Once a Vata, always a Vata. Let’s begin.
Kapha governs all structure and lubrication in the mind and body. It controls weight, growth, lubrication for the joints and lungs, and formation of all the seven tissues — nutritive fluids, blood, fat, muscles, bones, marrow, and reproductive tissues. Therefore Kapha controls our lymphatic system. Even in the desert parts of the country, winter is relatively damp and cold with spurts of snow, ice, or freezing rain. These elements create a similar reaction within the body to accumulate Kapha, particularly avalambaka Kapha (Kapha housed in the respiratory system). We feel the results as we blow our nose and cough our way through winter.
For me, winter means puffy eyes, and puffy eyes can be a clue your lymph fluid is getting sluggish. Other signs of an “increased” Kapha (when a particular dosha is present in higher than average proportions, it is increased, aggravated, or excess state) can be sluggishness, swelling, higher than normal blood pressure, and excessive phlegm. So what can we do? Exercise!
It turns out lymph vessels are squeezed by your muscles when you move. Therefore, exercise plays a vital role in lymphatic fluid circulation. Deep breathing exercises can also benefit the flow of lymphatic fluid because of the pressure deep breathing creates in the chest and abdominal cavities along with the contractions of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.
Lymphatic Yoga motions: neck motion – slowly lift your chin to the ceiling and look up while inhaling slowly; bring it down, on a slow exhalation and look at the heart (Repeat 3X). Bring your head to a neutral position. Turn your head to the right and look over the shoulder far behind you, the same to the left (3X). Shoulder motion – breathe in, slowly lift your shoulders to the ceiling, exhale with a sigh and let them go down (Repeat 5X).
Other ways to balance your Kapha:
- Breathe deeply and slowly for at least 10 min daily.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Reduce your daily salt intake.
- Reduce your alcohol intake.
Vata dosha governs movement in the body, the activities of the nervous system, and the process of elimination. Vata translates into “That Which Moves Things,” and it governs anything related to movement, such as breathing, talking, nerve impulses, shifts in the muscles and tissues, circulation, assimilation of food, elimination, urination, and menstruation. Vata is often called the “King of the Doshas,” since it governs the body’s greater life force and gives motion to Kapha (“That Which Sticks”), and Pitta the third and final dosha (“That Which Cooks”).
I am a Vata dominant and winter time is the hardest time for me. Vata’s love warm climates and warm food. They have high energy (bordering on hyper) and have a hard time saying no. Vata’s respond to stress with fear, and because their mind is continuously moving, it makes Savasana in yoga (a time of extreme silence), the hardest part of yoga! Vata’s are quick to learn, usually fast talkers, and tire quickly because they try to do 1000 things at once. If Vata’s are out of balance, it’s because they have exceeded the limits of their energy. They can sometimes become anxious and can’t sleep. Vata dosha is closely connected to the root chakra, which is responsible for grounding and bringing a sense of wholeness and happiness. Ground through yoga and exercise can be quite helpful.
Ways to balance Vata:
- Eat naturally sweet, salty, and sour foods, avoiding junk food, excessive salt, and processed sugars.
- Follow a fixed routine and avoid too many different, frenetic activities. Bedtime, waking time, meal time, and exercise time should be the same every day.
- Yoga postures should be done at a slow, steady pace.
- Include the following in your asana practice: Vajrasana, Cat Stretch, Surya Namaskar, Virabhadrasna (Warrior Pose), Vriksasana (Tree Pose), Purn Pavanmukt asana (wind relieving pose), Shavasana (corpse pose), Ujjayi breathing.
- Stay warm, calm and relaxed with hot baths, warm oil massages, steam and heat treatments, and soothing music.
Pitta derives from the elements Fire and Water and translates as “that which cooks.” It is the energy of digestion and metabolism, and energy production in the body that functions through the carrier substances such as organic acids, hormones, enzymes, and bile.
The central locations of Pitta in the body are the small intestines, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, blood, eyes, and sweat. Physiologically, Pitta provides the body with heat and energy through the breakdown of complex food molecules. The primary function of Pitta is transformation. Those with a predominance of the Pitta principle have a fiery nature that manifests in both body and mind.
Qualities of Pitta:
Pittas doshas are usually of medium size and weight. They sometimes have bright red hair, but baldness or thinning hair is also typical in a Pitta. They have excellent digestion, which sometimes leads them to believe they can eat anything. Aggravated Pitta causes problems related to excessive heat and acidity in mind and body such as acid indigestion, diarrhea, anger, fever, hot flashes, infections, and rashes.
To balance Pitta:
- Enjoy exercise, but avoid getting over-heated or too embroiled in competitive sports.
- Keep cool. Avoid hot temperatures and food.
- Walking in nature especially by bodies of water or in the shade of mature trees, yoga, swimming, skiing, cycling, etc. are good choices
- Favor cooking with cooling spices like fennel, coriander, cardamom, and turmeric. Coconut oil and olive oil are also good.
- Avoid chili peppers, vinegar, alcohol, tobacco, caffeinated beverages, and chocolate
- Get to bed before 10 PM
- Moderation; don’t overwork.
- Allow for leisure time.
- Regular mealtimes, especially lunch at noon.
In sports nutrition, the doshas are very similar to the endomorph, ectomorph, and mesomorph body types, as you will see below.
• Vatas are energizer bunnies that love to move. They are most similar to the Ectomorph body type.
• Pittas are natural athletes. They are comparable to the Mesomorph body type.
• Kaphas are most like the Endomorph body type.
Often, due to many factors in our environments like weather, seasons, lifestyle choices, and diet, the most dominant dosha tends to become imbalanced, but any Dosha can also become imbalanced. These imbalances create a secondary, “current” state, known as Vikriti, which results from inadequately supporting our natural constitution (Prakriti). We push ourselves off balance by continually eating foods or adopting habits that are not suited to us — primarily by exposing ourselves to more of the Doshic energies that we already have. If we are experiencing symptoms of imbalance, such as bloating, rashes, spots, hot flushes, itchy skin, sore gums, gassiness, tummy upsets, lousy temper, tiredness, or anxiety, it means that our Vikriti is way off from our Prakriti. These signs that our mind-body is off-kilter, if left unchecked, lead to disease down the road.
In summary, the doshas are dynamic energies that constantly change in response to our actions, thoughts, emotions, the foods we eat, the seasons, and any other sensory inputs that feed our mind and body. When we live in the fulfillment of our natures, we naturally make lifestyle and dietary decisions that foster balance within our doshas. But when we live against our intrinsic nature, we tend to support unhealthy patterns that lead to physical and mental imbalances. In my next blog post, I will discuss some of the ways to re-balance your doshas and begin to explore some of the themes of traditional Chinese medicine.
Thank you Stephen Cabral, ND for your passion and knowledge that you share so freely and lovingly.
Until then, Ayubowan!
Aloo Gobi is a simple dish made from cauliflower and potatoes. There are generally two kinds of Aloo Gobi, one made with onions and tomatoes, and one without. I love both, but this one is my favorite…mostly because I envisioned eating it over creamy coconut curried lentils! I added chickpeas or “chana” to bump the protein and it was delicious!
Baked Aloo Gobi with Chana
•2 medium russet potatoes, cut into 1” cubes
•1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
•1 14 oz. can chickpeas (chana)
•2 Tbsp Olive Oil
•2 tsp. ground cumin
•2 tsp. ground turmeric
•1 tsp. ground coriander
•¾ tsp garam masala
•¾ tsp dried fenugreek leaves
•¾ tsp amchur (dry mango powder)
•1 Tbsp. minced ginger
•1 Tbsp. minced garlic
•Pinch of asafetida (optional, but really great)
•Pinch of cayenne (adjust according to preference)
•1 tsp. (or more) kosher salt
•1 Tbsp. (or more) fresh lime juice
•½ cup chopped cilantro
1. Chop the cauliflower into small florets and put in large bowl.
2. Chop the potatoes into 1” cubes and add to the bowl. Add drained, rinsed chickpeas.
3. Mix spices until well combined. Remove Add spices to the vegetable mix; toss to coat.
4. Add olive oil, minced ginger, and garlic, to the bowl and toss well.
5. Let the vegetable mix sit for a minute or two.
6.Spread mixture in a large stoneware or 3” ceramic baking dish.
7. Bake at 400° F (204 C) for 20 mins, then cover with parchment and bake for another 15 mins or until tender. Taste and adjust salt and spices accordingly. Garnish with fresh cilantro, a dash of turmeric, and lime juice. And serve hot with any Indian bread.
Like yoga, running has changed my life. It’s become a way for me to quiet my mind. It is like a moving meditation. I focus solely on my breath and let go of all tension and thought. When I hit my stride, I feel like I could run forever. I achieve the same state when I stay in certain deep asanas, like pigeon, for a long time. It’s the best feeling in the world. If I am in a bad mood, anxious, stuck creatively, whatever is going on, I will go for a run, or do some flows. And when I’m done, all is well again.
When I look back over the last year, hell, over the last decade… I am proud to say I have accomplished much. I have gained a lot, learned a lot, but also forgotten much, and lost a lot. I have reached some goals that I never imagined possible, while I watched other dreams go up in smoke…but that, as they say “is life.” The “one foot in front of the other” mentality has served me well, until now. Lately, I feel fearful and uncertain about some big things in my life. And the truth is, I don’t really know why. Life has pretty much stayed the same. But then I think maybe that’s the reason I feel this way. The Buddha said, “There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires.” I get it, I want more. But thinking about my future is almost paralyzing. It was the Buddha who said, “Overthinking is the greatest cause of unhappiness.” So perhaps silence is best. Who knows, maybe I’ll slow down and give silent meditation a try. Or maybe I’ll just go for a longer run. 🙂
With that, Happy New Year’s and Happy New Decade. May you have many abundant blessings, and may you get back all that you give. Remember to seek out joy, as it is always there for us. May you find peace in any given moment, and may you do hard and scary things! Grow abundantly! Namaste!
Easy Vegan Gravy Mix
¾ cup brown rice flour
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp corn starch
1.5 tsp sage
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
Add to a mason jar and shake well.
To Use: Add ¼ cup of dry mix to a sauce pan and add 2-3 cups of plant-based milk. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add more milk if needed. Enjoy!
The other day my oldest daughter was craving tomato soup. I had to admit it sounded really good to me too. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is the best! Of course, her version was a can you throw in the microwave, and mine was, well…this.
Fire Roasted Vegan Tomato Bisque
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1medium onion, diced
- Two 14 1/2-ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes, with juices
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular sweet paprika works, too)
- kosher salt to taste
- 1/2 cup(80ml) light coconut milk, or cashew cream
- Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, over medium-low heat. When the pot is hot, add onions and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions are soft. Stir often and add 1 TBSP stock or water if needed, to keep the onions from burning.
- Add tomatoes, including the liquid, and stock. Add tomato paste, dried oregano, dried basil, paprika, and a pinch of kosher salt. Raise the heat to medium and bring everything to boil. Let the soup simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Let the soup cool off for 5 minutes before transferring to a blender to blend. (I blend a little more than half of the mixture and leave the rest for a bit for texture).
- Return soup to pot and stir in coconut milk or cream.
- Serve in bowls with black pepper, minced basil leaves, nutritional yeast, and a swirl of cashew cream, if you’d like.
- Top with croutons. I used Minimalist Baker’s “Actually Crispy Chickpeas” She nailed it!
For years when I thought of pumpkins, of course, I thought of Halloween and my absolute favorite pie in the whole world. But when I had Pumpkin Soup for Thanksgiving in New Orleans one year, I realized my view had been very short-sided, and maybe there was more to this magical fruit than I knew! Pumpkins are a cultivar of a squash plant and are technically a fruit. And in this soup, they lend a creamy texture and a rich depth of flavor amplified by spices and slow-cooked onions. Yes. The Onions. To me, they are what make this soup shine. A no-oil onion sauté deglazed with hearty vegetable stock. To me, this is one of the most amazing ways to build flavor. Let me show you how.
1 large onion, diced; or two medium-size shallots diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 ½ tsp ginger, minced, or ¾ tsp of ginger powder
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried coriander
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
1 14 oz can coconut cream (can use canned coconut milk in a pinch)
3 cans organic pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
Hot sauce (optional, I use a mild Green Tabasco)
Heat pan on low medium heat until warm. Add onions, stir until onions become translucent and begin to stick. Add ½ cup stock and stir to deglaze the pan. Once the water begins to evaporate add spiced and stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes and add garlic and ginger. Cook for 30 seconds and add remaining vegetable stock and stir to deglaze pan again. Add coconut cream and pumpkin puree. Stir well and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Taste for spices, and adjust according to your preference. I added a bit more salt and a little more thyme. Serve with roasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and roasted spiced chickpeas. Enjoy!
One of my favorite things in the whole world used to be Qdoba’s Tortilla Soup. I loved it. Couldn’t get enough of it. However, when I looked up the ingredients, I was astonished! It tasted so simple and delicious. There were a ton of preservatives and an ungodly amount of salt. I never would have imagined that it was so processed! So when it came time to develop my menu for a Mexican cooking class at the Conservatory…I knew what I was going to do. This version is delicious, clean, and a perfect “Welcome to Fall” soup!
- 5 Corn Tortillas
- Chopped Green Onions
- Lime Wedges
- Vegan Sour Cream
Lay the jackfruit on a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Using your fingers, press the jackfruit chunks and pull apart into large shreds. Set aside.
On medium heat:
- Add leeks and garlic to large soup pot. Sauté in veggie broth, until softened
- Add Bell Peppers and Chipotle Peppers, and simmer until softened
- Add Jackfruit
- Add all spices and stir well. Sauté for 2-3 minutes
- Add Salsa
- Add Tomatoes (with juice)
- Add Veggie Broth, and deglaze pan
- Bring to a simmer and stir well*
- Drain beans and add to pot
- Cover, and simmer on low, or until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375° degrees
- Cut Corn Tortillas into 1/2″ wide strips
- Add strips to a plastic bag or paper sack and toss with 1/2 tsp each: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt etc. (You can use oil or a little broth to help them stick)
- Lay strips onto cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes
- Toss occasionally to ensure even crisping.
*If you want to blend the soup and return to pot for a more authentic Qdoba soup, now is the time. Once pureed you can add the black beans and jackfruit, and simmer through until warmed. About 15-20 minutes.
**If you wish to add more heat: Use 1 tsp of adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can until you reach desired heat.
When soup is finished, garnish with 1 small dollop of vegan sour cream, minced cilantro, small avocado slice, a few tortilla strips, and serve.
We love bowls! It’s one of our favorite go-to meals and makes for a quick dinner. Most times we just use various ingredients we have on hand. Be warned they are suuuuper filling! You can be super creative with your bowls or just keep them simple. The basic bowl is this: One part grain, vegetables, one part protein (we use beans, tofu, or tempeh), and top with some kind of sauce. In a pinch, I have used hummus that has been thinned out as a drizzle! Top with your choice of onions, herbs, nuts, or seeds.
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cubed
- 2 medium russet potatoes washed, cubed
- 1 medium onion sliced into ¼ ” wide slices
- 1 red pepper sliced into ¼” thin slices
- 1 15 oz. can pinto beans (or, bean of choice)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ c water
- 1-2 ripe avocados, sliced, or diced
- 1-cup brown organic basmati rice (any brown rice will do)
- 1-cup Pico de Gallo (store bought is easiest)
- 1-cup cashew queso, thinned (see recipe below)
- Green onions, diced on bias (optional)
- Cilantro, minced (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°.
Make rice. I add two cups of water to 2 cups of basmati rice to my Instapot and cook for 15 minutes. Otherwise, follow package directions. (You will have leftovers. You can freeze extra cooked rice in ziplock bag.)
Peel and dice squash into bite-size pieces. I use pre-diced store bought and cut larger pieces into 1” cubes. Wash potatoes and cut into 1” cubes leaving the skins on. Wash and slice red pepper into ¼” long slices. Peel and slice onion and in half, cut into ¼” slices. Add potatoes, squash, red pepper, and onions to a large mixing bowl. Add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil and toss vegetables with salt and pepper to coat. Add vegetables to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake, turning once, for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender.
While veggies are cooking, add one can of drained pinto beans to a small pot, add cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Add ¼ cup water, cover, and simmer until warmed through. Keep warm.
Make Cashew Queso:
- 1 ½ cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 8 oz of water
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo (or, cut in half if too spicy)
- 3 TBSP Nutritional Yeast (I use Bragg’s, but you can use any)
Add all of the ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. In my Vitamix it takes about 45 seconds on high speed, stopping once to scrape down the sides. ***It is very important that queso is completely smooth. Add more water 1 Tbsp at a time, if needed and continue to blend until smooth.
When vegetables are done remove from oven. Assemble Buddha bowls. Add up to 1-cup rice per bowl. Top bowls with the roasted vegetables, beans, Pico de Gallo, avocado, drizzle with cashew queso, and finish with cilantro and green onions, if using.
I will always be a vegan. Now that I know, what I know. I have seen the remarkable effects physically, mentally, and spiritually. Sounds dramatic, right? Well, it has been. In my early 40’s I was carrying around an autoimmune diagnosis, 40 pounds of extra weight, I was depressed and tired. Now, not quite 4 years later, my doctor still marvels at my annual blood-work. He is amazed that I am at my recommended body weight and not taking any medications. Amazed because the Mayo clinic estimates 7 out of 10 of us adults are taking some form of a prescription drug, with many of us taking 3 or more meds…and 75% of us are overweight and 40% of us are obese. Being sick and overweight has become the new norm. Therefore it’s not surprising that the US is ranked dead last in the “healthy’ category against 10 other wealthy countries in the world. How is that possible?
Well, imagine you are sitting at a table and you keep banging your leg against the chair so long and so hard that it becomes bruised and quite painful. Finally, someone comes along and says, “Hey, I’ve got a medication that will soothe your pain and another medication that can fix those nasty bruises.” So you take the pills, and sure enough, the pain goes away and your skin looks better, so you think you’re healed. But you’re still banging your leg on the chair, and now because the real problem has never been addressed, your original issue has become catastrophic. Yet nobody ever tells you, “Hey stop banging your leg on the table.” Doctors are taught to prescribe medications for a certain set of symptoms. They are not required to recommend nutritional interventions and, in fact, nutrition is not even a requirement in most medical schools. With the AMA only allowing doctors 15 minutes to spend per patient, it’s not long enough to talk about diet anyway, it’s just long enough to write a script. Because the truth is there is no money to be made if we are all well, only if we are sick.
Heart disease and diabetes are directly correlated to an excessive amount of animal protein consumption and are rarely related to genetics. But a good many people believe they are simply victims of their genes, doomed to a life of middle-age weight gain, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. And we are seeing a rise in colon cancer rates for the first time in people in their 20’s, a disease not normally seen until our 50’s. A recent study by the Pentagon revealed that 71% of young men between the ages of 17-24 (over 24 million) are ineligible to serve in the military because they are physically unfit. And I am sadder, yet, that we are rearing a generation of kids who are not predicted to live as long as their parents…all because of our food choices.
Truth is, four years ago, I never gave much thought to the likes of a cow, a chicken, or a pig. I only knew that they would eventually become food bought in a store. I never made a connection that those packs of chicken and ground beef were once living breathing animals. I didn’t know that they were purposely hidden away on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s), because if we actually saw what was happening to them we would be disgusted and appalled. I felt better buying cage-free eggs. Though more expensive, I figured cage-free was better because these chickens were allowed to run around in the sun. What I didn’t know was that baby chicks have their beaks cut off so they don’t peck other chicks in their cramped living quarters. And that cage-free really just means that tens of thousands of chickens are crammed in warehouses instead of cages, and where there is only 1 foot of space per chicken on average. Many of them sustain painful lesions and suffer from ammonia blisters due to sitting on unsanitary floors. A sad life indeed.
I also didn’t know that dairy cows were forced to stand in inches of their own excrement while getting milked 10 months out of a year until they are eventually turned into ground beef. I didn’t know that most E-coli outbreaks in lettuce and kale stemmed from a CAFO’s waste lagoon, or pools of poop, that pollute our fields, rivers, and streams. And worse, some of these CAFO’s can make the individuals living by them very, very sick. Don’t even get me started on Duplin County, North Carolina.
I have also learned that it takes a lot of money and resources for us to eat these animals. I didn’t know that lobbyists fought to have our tax dollars subsidize the meat and dairy industry. I didn’t know that it takes nearly 2,400 gallons of water just to grow just 1 pound of meat. I didn’t know that 800 million people could be fed with just the grain that livestock eat alone. And that much of that grain is produced here in the Midwest. It’s why they call Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, eastern Nebraska, and eastern Kansas the corn-belt because we grow corn for livestock. In fact, more than 90 million acres of grain is planted here just to feed livestock feed alone. It is also an area where cancer rates are on the rise and the levels of pesticide use are skyrocketing.
But that’s not the only thing…about 24% (some argue it’s more like 50%) of all global greenhouse gases come from our support of commercial agriculture. These warming gases are caused by things like livestock methane gas production, and deforestation, or the clear-cutting of trees in order to make room for more livestock. You’ve probably heard that the Amazon Jungle in South America in on fire. That is because they are a developing nation that is looking at places like the U.S. (land of the rich and plentiful) as an example. So now they are cutting down trees in record numbers because they have discovered the economic value in cattle production; those companies who own the factory farms are the fuel for the fire. And those who have long associated eating meat with affluence and prestige inadvertently fan their flames.
Plant-Based eating has never been shown to cause disease. In fact, it has actually been shown in some cases to halt and even reverse many diseases. It is a way of eating that supports our bodies ability to do its job naturally, without drug intervention. It is better for the animals and better for the planet. I am hopeful the tide is turning and more and more people are waking up, so to speak. I remain mindful that a few years ago, I didn’t know any of this either. And I am joyful at the prospect that others may follow their own journey because of myself, or countless others like me, that have inspired them to do so. Being a vegan is one of the greatest gifts this life has given me.
To Eat, or Not To Eat…
As a society, we are collectively bound by our traditions. And this Missouri girl is no stranger to how deeply those traditions are woven into my Midwestern fabric. Missouri is a political bellwether state. We are known for smiling and waving to complete strangers. The word “honest” is something we live and die by. A person’s word and a firm handshake are all we need to seal a deal. But we also hold steadfast to our traditions and our bullheadedness has earned us the nickname “The Show Me State.” Creatures of habit, we like things the way we like ‘em, and change is not welcomed here. That said, change evolves as slowly as a Bootheel drawl. Now it’s not said that we can’t change, but you’ve got to show us why we should! Particularly when it comes to what we eat.
Kansas City, my hometown, sits on the far western edge of the state, and has had a long history of determining what we eat. And what we eat…is meat. The cattle industry, a thriving industry for over 120 years, began in the west bottoms of KC in 1871 where the Livestock Exchange & Stockyards operated for 12 decades. In 1899, the National Hereford Show was founded as a cattle show in the Kansas City Stockyardsand was later renamed the “American Royal” after a 1901 editorial in a entitled, “Call It The American Royal.”It’s also why my city would eventually name their baseball team, The Kansas City Royals. Twice a year in October and November, The American Royal is host to livestock and horse shows, a rodeo and a barbecue competition, all of which are held in the former stockyards.
Though the stockyards closed in 1991, the meat industry in KC still reigns as King…the King of Barbeque. From the Atlantic to the Gulf coast, bordered by the western outposts of Texas, my hometown lies in the middle of an area of the United States called the “Barbeque Belt”, an area that houses four distinct barbecue traditions – Carolina, Texas, Memphis and Kansas City. BBQ is as ingrained in me as any Midwestern heritage could be. And when I decided to stop eating meat, BBQ was a difficult task to master. I missed the smoky flavor and the unmistakable smell of BBQ pulled pork. Until now…
This recipe comes via Tasty and is one of the best recipes for making jackfruit I’ve found. Simmered in a ranchero sauce of sorts, the jackfruit is then slowly roasted in a 350° oven for 25 minutes. The crispy jackfruit is then added back to a skillet and doused with bbq sauce. It’s truly heavenly and it satisfies my craving for all things BBQ.
BBQ JACKFRUIT SLIDERS
Ingredients for 12 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons pepper
- 20 oz young green jackfruit, 3 cans, in brine or water
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons liquid smoke
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 ¼ cups barbecue sauce
Preheat oven to 400° Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Drain and rinse the jackfruit.
- In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, until semi-translucent.
- Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the jackfruit, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and liquid smoke, and mix well. Add the vegetable broth, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, until the jackfruit is soft enough to be mashed and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Mash the jackfruit with potato masher or a couple of forks, until it looks pulled or shredded.
- Transfer the jackfruit to the baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until the jackfruit is slightly browned and crispy.
- Remove the jackfruit from the oven, and pour the BBQ sauce over. Mix well.
- Return to the oven, and bake for another 10 minutes, until the edges are slightly crispy.
- Use a large bread knife to cut the whole sheet of slider buns in half, spread the BBQ jackfruit on the buns, then top with any additional favorites (pickles, slaw, more sauce!).
Next week, I have been asked to speak to a group of middle school girls about body image and self-esteem. Lately, these buzzwords have gained momentum in our culture, a culture laden with false narratives and inaccuracies about value and self-worth. Many expert responses to this narrative, while encouraging, often lack depth and therefore do not resonate or connect with their intended audience. So I knew my words had to be carefully chosen, intentional, and authentic. In other words, they had to come from the experiences gleaned by traveling down a dark and winding road called self-actualization.
Self-image is simply the story we tell ourselves about who and what we are. Our stories define our self-esteem, (the manner in which we evaluate ourselves), and our self-worth, (the belief that we are loveable and valuable despite how we evaluate our traits). To make things more complicated our stories are usually co-written by those around us, people who may have the best intentions, but are likely struggling with their own confusing falsehoods. Add to the fact that human nature is inherently geared toward the negative for survival purposes, and it’s no wonder we are sometimes left feeling insecure and at odds with the world. All of these elements perpetuate the inaccuracies of our true selves; this leads us to internalize and criticize ourselves, generally culminating in some kind of unwanted behavior. In some, this may mean eating disorders, drug abuse, and in extreme cases, suicide.
So what is a girl to do? The first and most important step is to be present and not unconsciously respond to stimuli. Life is not about what happens to you, but how you respond to life. Being present allows us to analyze our behavior; it helps us assess our feelings and thoughts, and allows us to take a much-needed breath or two. Frankly, it is the most powerful tool in the box. The next step is to realize that we have a choice to rewrite the script. The words we choose to use, the ideas that we embrace about ourselves are ultimately up to us. We are not what others say we are unless WE choose to embrace it and believe it. We are no longer fighting saber tooth tigers; we are fighting against ambiguous texts, simulated fantasies on social media, and trying to adhere to the impossible task that we must be all things to all people.
What is my suggestion to these young girls? Instead of trying to be something…just be. Be your imperfectly perfect selves, work hard, be honorable, and stay humble. Don’t worry about being good or being right. In fact, don’t worry at all. Have faith and fear not, because fear will hold you hostage. Be brave and explore the paths less traveled. Do hard things. In fact, seek out things that make you afraid and uncomfortable and do them. Then you will begin to see what you’re truly made of. We are not confined to a future that has yet to be written. Our destiny and fate can change from moment to moment. Who are you? Who do you want to be? Because for better or worse, what you believe, you will achieve.
Just because you give up dairy doesn’t mean you have to give up cheese! Many things can make milk! You just need milk with higher fat content to make good rich cheese. Hence, cashews! I keep this cheese on hand all the time. I use it as a sauce for macaroni and cheese, and as a base for my famous black bean dip! But one of my favorite things to use it for is the base for a broccoli potato soup! Sometimes, I just shamelessly stand over the bowl and eat it until I’m about to burst. Loaded with protein and spices, this cheese sauce it my absolute favorite.
To heat or reheat microwave, covered, in 30-second bursts, whisking at each interval and thinning with water as needed. Or re-warm on the stovetop, whisking occasionally and thinning with water as needed.
Easy Chili Cashew Queso
1 ½ C. raw cashews
1 cup hot water
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
Pinch chili powder (optional)
1 chipotle in adobo with a little sauce
- To make the Queso, add all ingredients to a high -speed blender and blend until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides at least once.
- Feel free to substitute salsa, roasted jalapenos, or your favorite hot sauce in place of the chipotle pepper. The sauce is also really delicious with no heat!