Friday, January 27, 2012

What is a Plant Based, Whole Foods Diet?

A plant-based, whole foods diet is the replacing of all animal foods with foods from plants. It is composed of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

It is also an eating plan which minimizes oils and avoids processed foods and sugars.

A whole foods diet is not only the exclusion of unhealthy foods, but a focus, or concentrated effort to include an abundance of the best nutrients.

It is not a 100% raw foods diet. Whole foods includes a rich variety and abundance of both raw and cooked foods.

Individuals can cater whole foods to be rich in a variety of foods that they particularly love. Main entrees such as veggie pot pie, fajitas, cream of vegetable soups, veggie pizzas and burgers, vegan lasagnas and casseroles can be made from plant foods. Delicious and healthful sauces and creams are often made from nuts and seeds.

Proteins and fats from animal foods are strongly linked to cancer growth, heart disease, obesity, Multiple Sclerosis, diabetes, and a host of other diseases and ailments including more minor things such as migraine headaches and constipation.

Extensive scientific and clinical studies have been done to strongly support these statements. (Read publications by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Dean Ornish)

In children, disease is commonly manifested through asthma, allergies, ADD, ADHD, eczema, frequent illness, and chronic ear infections to name a few.

Through a careful study and application of plant nutrition you can experience weight loss, disease-prevention, proper bodily functions, and a cessation of everyday ailments and fatigue.

I challenge you to experiment on these statements. Try it out. Give it one month and see how you feel. Learn. Become a self-taught nutrition guru. Get some plant based cookbooks, and not just a few.

Actively explore a new world of health, rich with vitality. Take control of your health and happiness by feeding your body right.

If you want help, ask me questions. Explore my blog. Watch the documentary, "Forks Over Knives." Read some books from my recommended books page, and let it change your life.

Sour Mango + Spinach Smoothie

See what I mean by 75% greens and 25% fruit? This is where I see you in 6 months. Or maybe you are already here. Awesome.

This beautiful combination of fruits and veggies was invented by Aimee Henrikson. My culinary genius of a sister. It is actually the inspiration for the name of this blog.

Aimee made this for us while we were visiting in Utah on a Saturday. It made me feel SO GOOD that the next day as we were sitting in church I couldn't stop thinking about it. I felt like a kid whose mother had made cinnamon rolls and I couldn't wait to go home and eat them!

While I was trying to pay attention to the speakers it must have looked like I was sitting on a hot stove. Counting down the minutes until I could jump up, run down the street back to my Mom's house, and make that smoothie as fast as I could. It was during this very child-like moment that the name hit me.

This smoothie was like a literal plant infusion. It made me feel like the plant ingredients plus the apple cider vinegar were scrubbing out all of the yucky toxins and fatigue right out of my body.

In anticipation I started chanting quietly, "Plant Infusion! Plant Infusion!"

And thus the name of this blog was born.

Thank you, Aimee. I bet you didn't know that your creations are THAT inspirational. What'd I say? Genius, I believe is the word.

This is often my breakfast and lunch.

This green smoothie is very portable in a glass quart jar.

Warning: glass quart jars are clear. If you walk around drinking this in public people will ask you questions.

I think I'll go make this right now.

P.S. Keep the pineapple core on your pineapple and include it in your smoothie. I was walking past Mr. Blendtec salesman dude at Costco the other day (why does the idea of buying my blender all over again excite and intrigue me?!?!?) and he said, "Leave the core on the pineapple as that is where most of the vital nutrients are contained. The blender will make it smooth as ever."

Sour Mango + Spinach Green Smoothie (or Green Drink)
Adapted By Aimee Henrikson (my sister!) from Diana Stobo

1 cup vanilla or plain kefir, coconut kefir, soy yogurt or plant milk
1 cup water
1 grapefruit, bitter skins and piths removed (see citrus avocado salad on how to fancy-peel citrus)
2 peeled oranges
2 cups fresh spinach (or more if you are aiming to incorporate more greens)
1-3 TBSP apple cider vinegar (according to how sour you like it, I love 1/4 cup!)
1 heaping tablespoon green powder (optional, I use Ormus Supergreens which really adds flavor)
1 cup mango or 1 cup peaches, depending on your preference (fresh or frozen)
1/8 – ¼ of a fresh pineapple depending on your desire for sweetness
2-3 Tbsp Chia seeds or flax seeds (to get your omegas and fiber, and attain a feeling of fullness)
1/2 frozen banana (optional, for added creaminess and sweetness)
½ to 1 cup ice

Layer in blender the liquids, then soft foods, then frozen foods. Blend well. Can add ice and the water if you want it colder and less thick.

I put this in my WildSide larger blendtec blender and I have to smash it down to make it fit. The blender has to really work to get it fully blended so if you do not have a WildSide Blendtec, halve the recipe.

"Think 'N' Rich" Vegan Gravy

There are many versions out there of vegan gravy, and this is only one of them. It is a lighter gravy that is conducive to weight loss, unlike the cashew gravies available.

However, this does taste a bit red wine vinegar-ish. I loved it because I could eat it with my salad and my potatoes and it didn't create that heavy, bogged down feeling that usual gravy can.

Let me know what you think of it. It's good to keep exploring to find what we each like most. I am very excited to try a mushroom gravy, as my tastes for mushrooms has exploded! Used to hate'em, now I love'em!

Dreena suggests tossing this sauce with pasta and veggies for a quick meal. I would try it as a gravy first to see if you like it.

Thick 'N' Rich Vegan Gravy
From Dreena Burton's "Eat, Drink & Be Vegan: Everyday Vegan Recipes Worth Celebrating"

Makes about 1 1/3 cups


1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (can reduce or increase for added or less cheesy flavor)
1 tbsp mild miso
1 tbsp tamari
1 large garlic clove
2 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or corn starch)
2 tbsp tahini
1 1/2-2 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses
1/2-3/4 tsp agave nectar
2 tbsp olive oil (can leave out if you want)
3 tbsp water (optional; to thin gravy as desired)


With a hand blender or in a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients (starting with 1 1/2 tbsp vinegar) except water and puree until smooth.

In a pot on medium-high heat, transfer mixture and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Once boiling, reduce heat to medium, allowing it to bubble gently for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Taste test, and add additional vinegar and/or thin with water if desired.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Good, Better, Best

It's time for change.

Recently I have been reading from Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Book, "Disease-Proof Your Child."

It fuels my nutrition fire.

After reading this section (and many other wonderful ones!) about avoiding processed and sugary foods for children:

"Not only do processed foods and fast foods often contain dangerous trans fats and other additives, but they also can have high levels of acrylamides. When processed foods are baked and fried at high temperatures, these cancer-causing chemical compounds are produced. Many processed foods, such as chips, french fries, and sugar-coated breakfast cereals, are rich in acrylamides....Acrylamides cause genetic mutations, leading to a wide variety of cancers in lab animals, including breast and uterine cancer."

I have decided to eliminate a crutch I have been leaning on. Actually, 4 crutches.

I have read recently that children often need to taste something between 7-9 times before they are used to it, and can decide that they like it.

Adults may have similar needs to acquire tastes. So don't give up on yourself or your kids. And don't give out labels like, "Oh, so-and-so doesn't like that food." Or, "I don't like that." Keep trying, and keep expanding your options.

We are forgetting that tastes are often trained by habits.

So, back to crutches: 1.) Meatless corn dogs. Oh, man! These took like 30 seconds to heat up in the micro. Yes, they were meatless. But they are not better. 2.) Sugar-coated cereals. Again, 30 seconds to put together. But so does making oatmeal in a rice cooker. It just means I plan ahead by 12 more minutes. 3.) Juice. Processed, sugary 100% juice. Essie often comments that when she drinks juice it hurts her stomach. Recently she gave her unopened juice to a friend at school. That tells me something. 4.) Store-bought fries. An item full of trans fats, saturated fats, and very processed. No longer an item on my grocery list.

So what does that beautiful citrus juicer above have anything to do with this?

I believe in incorporating the "something better" principle. Don't ask someone (even yourself) to give up something they love unless you have something better to offer them. My kids need a replacement for these things that I am not going to purchase again.

Citrus juicers are recommended by Dr. Joel Furhman because it is pure, fresh, unmodified real fruit juice. Costco sells huge bags of citrus. Lemons for lemonade. Limes for limeade. Oranges for orange juice. Grapefruit juice. All delicious, and all things my kids and I love.

Worried about time? Teach your kids to juice. They will feel good about contributing, and have a blast juicing. The juicer above is about $23.

So that is our replacement for juice. (Oh, and we rarely have soda in our house unless someone is very sick and cant keep anything else down.)

Fries? We are going to use a Spiralizer that currently sits unused in our kitchen cupboards to cut yams and potatoes into curly swirly fries. Toss them in vegetable broth, and bake until tender-crisp. Again, have your kids spiralize it for you. Essie and Samuel fight over who gets to turn the crank, and they love seeing the swirly veggies coming out.

All of these things will take more time and effort. But I want to help my children be free of the addictions that so many adults have for processed junk food. I want them to love health. To be strong and happy well into adolescent years and adulthood.

Cereal? I recently found multi-grain cheerios at Costco. Not sugary. Is it the best option? No. But it is better than sugar cereals. I will make oatmeal or spelt pancakes more often and rely less on processed foods.

Corn dogs. Instead, make "Skinny Elvis" sandwiches. Post coming soon. Remind me if I forget. It's basically a grilled nut butter and strawberry sandwich. Yum. Kids love it.

It's time for change, my friends.

Which foods are you consuming right now that can be replaced for something better?

I challenge you to find something "good" that you are eating, and get a replacement to make it "better." Or even find the best.

I'm doing this because I love my kids. Do this because you love your health.

Excuses? They're old. We can do better, and NOW is the time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Strawberries and Cream

Samuel loved his fruit with whipped cream.

I would buy it by the case, and walk around the kitchen during snack time squirting the foamy cream straight into his mouth.

And then we went vegan.

One of the first things Samuel asked for with his fruit was whipped cream. I thought it was so great when I found Soyatoo! Rice Whip at Whole Foods Market. For $4.99 per canister.

Only to take it home and discover that half of it will not come out as soon as the air pressure completely escapes. After one or two uses.

When I gave this whipped cream to Essie and Samuel they consumed an entire case of fresh strawberries with it.

The cool part about it? A little bit goes a long way, and the stuff lasts forever. We're still trying to use it up. We put it on crepes, with apples, on toast, etc. And there is still some in the fridge, fresh as ever.

I wish I could say it was cheaper. Macadamia nuts are not cheap. Neither are dates.

However, in "Disease-Proof Your Child," Dr. Joel Fuhrman says that he works hard to incorporate nuts into children's diets in such a way that they would love eating them. Nuts contain endless health nutrients for children, and help them gain the proper weight needed for growth. This is one of his creations, and we whole-heartedly approve!

And you can make this your own. Different flavors are easily accomplished if you add different frozen fruits or juice concentrates. We added orange juice concentrate. Own it. Be daring. Be bold. And don't limit the possibilities of this cream. It could top pies, kiwi, blueberries, melons, coconut ice cream, and granola.

Have Fun!

This is an addition to our PROJECT VEGAN KIDS. But I won't tell if you eat it, too.

From, "Disease-Proof Your Child; Feeding Kids Right," By Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Serves 4 to 6 (but I think it serves like 20!)

1 1/3 cups macadamia nuts
1 cup soy milk (I don't recommend any other kind of milk with this)
2/3 cup dates


Blend nuts, soy milk, and dates to make the best-tasting whipped cream.
Eat with fresh or frozen strawberries (defrosted).

A variation on this theme is to soak dried mangos in the soy milk overnight and use fewer dates.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Citrus Avocado Salad

I would like to think that Paul and I can go inside almost any restaurant to eat a vegan dinner. Life is miserable if you exclude yourself from restaurants or social occasions just because of your dietary choices.

Last night Paul and I were invited by our extended family to eat dinner at Ribs. A Steak House.

And the dinner was SO GOOD! The kids enjoyed their veggie burgers with fries. We had a Greek salad, sauteed mushrooms, (And 6 months ago I HATED mushrooms! Your tastes change. What can I say?) and a baked potato topped with green chile sauce.

We also stole a few fries. From our kids. Or maybe you could call it the parent tax; we paid for the food and require food taxes.

Tip: look at the menu online before you go. They will have something you can eat 9 times out of 10. However, at the restaurant, midst the noise and chaos it is really hard to find the hiding vegan choices on the menu.

Finding the hiding vegan choices from the quiet of your computer at home is bliss.

It was great to be with family and have Greek salad again; sometimes I get stuck in a rut with my same salad at home. It's important to mix it up. Try a new salad each week and shop for the ingredients.

Boredom should not be your reality. Neither should exclusion from social occasions.

I never new how to fancy-peel citrus fruit until I read this post from Joy the Baker.

It has changed my life. And now my life is yummier. And fancier.

Joy says, "Oranges are easy to segment. Once the peel is stripped, you just have to slice in between the natural orange segment markers/ skin bits/ pith marks… what the word I’m looking for?"

And here is what your avocado should look like, pre-scooping it out with a spoon. And please don't cut yourself when using your knive to whack out the seed. I have done this. Of all people, I have been stupid and pointed the knife downward toward my hand, and cut myself. Keep you hands clear!

We really love avocados. They are so filling, creamy and delicious. They are growing on Paul more and more every day. He may as well be an avocado tree.

Citrus Avocado Salad

Adapted from Joy the Baker
Serves 4 to 6 people

For the Salad:
1 large head of Romaine lettuce or 1/2 lb spinach
2 Navel oranges, segmented
2 ripe avocados, sliced
a handful of fresh, chopped flat leaf parsley is also nice

For the Dressing:
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice or 1 tbsp orange juice concentrate, or 1 whole orange, peeled
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of soy yogurt
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil (depending on your preference)
Salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste

To prepare the salad:

Coarsely dice and rinse the Romaine lettuce. Place in a large platter.

Segment the orange by first slicing off about 1/2-inch of the bottom and top. Slice down the sides of the orange, cutting through all of the pith to reveal the orange flesh. At an angle, slice in between the natural orange segments. A clean orange slice should pop out. Easy!

Halve and slice or dice the avocado. Sprinkle oranges segments and avocado slices over the lettuce.

To prepare the dressing:

Combine all ingredients in your blender. Blend until completely emulsified.
Drizzle over salad. Dressing will last, sealed in the refrigerator, for 3 or 4 days.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Forks Over Knives Presents The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue with Rip Esselstyn

I watched this movie on Amazon and paid $3.99 to rent it.

Only to find out that through my Netflix membership I could have watched it for free on instant streaming.

LOL. Oh, well.

Do I recommend you watch it?

Yes, I do!

It is great to help you get a basic understanding of whole foods eating.

And Rip helps you wrap your brain around making a few simple plant-strong meals. Except for his vegan lasagna. It's not simple, my friends. I tried it.

My own version of vegan lasagna soon to come. Its yummier and about a bazillion times easier (especially if you have a food processor.)

And what kind of name is Rip anyway? Am I the only one who has ever thought this? Tell me I am not the only one.

So watch this, and tell me what you think.

Oh, and major disclaimer --- I don't think kids should eat the way Rip talks about.

Enjoy this link for a more realistic way for kids to eat and gain the normal weight that they should.

And look here for ideas on healthy snacks.

Coming soon!


I have friends and family with children who really want to learn how to help kids eat healthy. I have been losing sleep over this, I kid you not. Why? Not knowing what to eat should never come between you and success in optimal health for your family.

I struggle with the same issue. I get in my kitchen. I look around. I see raw veggies and fruit. Grains and nuts.

How do I turn this stuff into what my kids will eat?

Then it hit me last night as I lay sleepless in my bed.

I am going to create a huge picture of the most comprehensive kids food group Pyramid EVER.

Its going to be all in pictures. This does not currently exist.

Pictures are worth a thousand words. Or, as Samuel would say. A bazillion gadjillion words.

So that when you get in your kitchen, you take a look at that big picture. And you see your options, how to make them work, and your anxiety is gone.

Along the way I will post kid-friendly meals and pictures.

I may be in way over my head. If I don't succeed, I will let you know.

This will take some time to put together, but I thought you might like to know what I am up to.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blueberry Spelt Pancakes with Pear Syrup

Adapted from Dreena Burton's "Eat, Drink & Be Vegan: Everyday Vegan Recipes Worth Celebrating."

As requested, here are my favorite spelt pancakes! If you like spelt flour, Dreena Burton uses it a lot in her baking. It's light, flavorful, nourishing, and delicious.

Dreena is also a mother of small children, and has a lot of child-friendly recipes.

This is an easy recipe. I whipped it up in about 5 minutes.

Essie gave it thumbs up!

First, put all of your dry ingredients together.

Then whip up your wet, which is only 2 ingredients. Plant milk, and vegetable oil. Experiment with this. If you are trying to eliminate (I am currently trying to minimize) oils, try using applesauce in equal measurements. And let me know how it turns out!

This is how your batter should look, pre-blueberries. If it's too runny, gently stir in some more flour. Try not to stir too much, as over-stirred pancakes are rubbery, thick, and tasteless.

After adding the blueberries, poor batter onto a lightly oiled fry pan or griddle. Cook until small bubbles form on the outer edge and then flipp'em! Remove from griddle when they are lightly browned, 1-2 minutes.

Then I made a 5 second syrup that my kids have grown to love. My siblings and I grew up on this stuff -- I got this easy idea/recipe from my dear, sweet, health-conscious Mother! Thanks, Mommy!

You just get a large can or jar of pear halves (or apricots! YUMMY!) in 100% natural fruit juice. Avoid the cans with pears in syrup, even the light syrup. Pour the entire jar, juices included, into the blender. Blend until a fine puree forms. Pour the syrup in a microwavable glass dish (I just poured mine back into the glass jar) and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. You may need to stir it again after it comes out of the microwave, as it tends to separate. Serve warm over pancakes, waffles, or even muffins!

No oils, no added sugars, no tummy aches.

Try it out on your kids. If they are used to pure sugar syrups, they may not like this at first, so you could sneak in some maple syrup to make it a bit sweeter. Then, after they decide they love it, when you make it again ditch the maple syrup.

Blueberry Spelt Pancakes


1 cup spelt flour (you could probably use white whole wheat, but reduce it by 1/8-1/4 cup)
2 tbsp brown rice flour (or just more white whole wheat)
1 tsp cinnamon, heaping if you love cinnamon like we do!
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar, or any granulated sugar (optional)
1/8 tsp celtic sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups plant milk
1 tbsp organic canola oil (or 1 tsbp coconut oil, which I believe to be healthier)
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
coconut oil (or canola) to coat pan or griddle


In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a small bowl, combine plant milk and 1 tbsp oil and mix well.

Add wet mixture to dry, stirring until just combined. If too runny, wait just 1-2 minutes to see if it thickens up by itself. If not, adjust ingredients.

Gently stir in blueberries just before you are ready to are ready to cook pancakes.

Lightly oil a non-stick frying pan or griddle (using the edge of a paper towel). On medium-high heat, heat pan for a few minutes until hot. If using a griddle, I had mine turned onto about 350 degrees.

Using a ladle, scoop batter into pan to form pancakes. Cook for several minutes, until small bubbles form on outer edge and into the center.

Flip pancakes to lightly brown other side, for 1-2 minutes. Repeat until all batter is used.

Serve warm, and with your favorite toppings! (I recommend you try the pear syrup!)

These can easily be doubled for larger families or for leftovers. I even put them in lunches sometimes, or use them as snacks.


And keep the requests coming!


Fiber and weight loss

F-I-B-E-R is the key to feeling great, losing weight, and staying regular.

Today people are so falsely led to believe that our most important nutrient to seek after is animal protein. They measure it carefully in grams, and incorporate it at every turn. Frankly, meat has no fiber! It never has, and it never will. Neither does milk. And yet we are taught that they are health foods. These animal-based items take 3-5 days to digest in our digestive tract, rotting and putrefying in the dark, warm, environment, and ultimately can take months to eradicate completely from our systems.

We need to focus on what I like to call, "Quick-Exit," foods. They are in, they do their nutrient-rich jobs, and then they are out. In one day.

We should not, by any means, need to take a fiber supplement. Let the fiber come from what we are eating in abundance.

What are some high fiber/quick exit foods?

1.) Oats.
If you don't like the texture of cooked old-fashioned oats, try steel-cut oats. These can be found at Costco and can be soaked overnight, cooked in a rice cooker on the smart steam option, and it has a nice texture. Not mushy. Also, try incorporating the dry old-fashioned oats into your cookies, muffins, and granola or granola bars.

2.) Pumpkin. Yeah! This stuff is yummy in everything!

3.) Beans.
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE beans. And they get yummier every day. Soaked overnight, slow-cooked in a crock pot with vegetable broth as its base, they are delicious.

4.) Leafy greens.
So drink your green smoothie, and eat your salad.

Overall, please remember that for everyone, getting enough veggies is a constant effort. I still have to remind myself to eat salads. When I start waning on making the fresh salads, Paul reminds me.

If you don't do well with raw veggies, start with cooked veggies.

Make a list of your absolute favorites. The key word here is START. It may not be perfect at first, but just START INCORPORATING. Soon the veggies will replace other foods you were eating, and your body will thank you. It will literally speak to you and tell you THANK YOU SO MUCH!

And then cool stuff happens. You start losing weight. More energy. Even some friends will compliment you on how good you look. You will like it, and then you'll get addicted. Life will taste good. So give it a try, you wont be sorry!

Something Paul and I noticed is that when we fill our bodies with plant nutrients, and quit eating animal-based products, we stopped craving junk food. Our bodies needs were finally being met. We had healthy complex carbs so that our bodies were not craving the fast-sugar simple carbs. Weight loss came naturally and without suffering because of this concept. Meeting our true nutrient needs took the issue of self-control out of the "diet" picture.

What changes have you noticed on your whole foods journey?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Ideal Whole Foods Day

People have asked me what my menu looks like on a typical day. This is my menu on an ideal day. I probably eat this way 4-5 days a week. I am 100% vegan, but I do slide a bit on the whole foods part. I have bad days just like everyone else. It takes conscious effort and I do get back on track.

I try to incorporate as much FIBER as possible. And from the right sources. (Whole, unprocessed grains, veggies, fruits, and unrefined starches. And when I say whole grains, I mean the actual grain. Not flour!)

I am able to incorporate that fiber easily by following the idea that 40-60% of each meal should be raw veggies and fruit. I will offer that here so that you can get an idea:

Breakfast --

Always a Green Smoothie.

This Green Monster is from

It's basically a fruit smoothie with a BUNCH of greens added to it. I also add SuperGreens to make it super green!!! This supplement lasts at least six months in one smoothie a day.

If you struggle to incorporate greens in your life, or your kids wont eat green things, start your smoothies with 25% greens or less, and 75% fruit. If you add a lot of berries then it could look like this (picture also from

Work yourself up slowly to 50% greens and 50% fruit. Then, if you're really ambitious, go to 75% greens, and 25% fruit. It has taken me about one year to work up to this, and now I don't like it any other way. Gotta have my GREENS!

And then for my cooked foods, which are also high fiber.

One of the following:

Steel cut oats or some cooked grain topped with fresh fruit (blueberries, strawberries, bananas), pecans, almond milk, maple syrup agave nectar or stevia.

Millet and Amaranth porridge

Creamy breakfast rice, etc (I strongly recommend a rice cooker from Costco -- best $30 I have spent! It will cook all of the grains mentioned above)

Cut steamed greens, if you are hardcore into lots of greens (Trader Joes sells a Southern Green blend with Collards, Dandelion, Spinach, and Kale all pre-cut for you)

Waffles (vegan-style, recipe soon to come) with fruit sauce, jam, honey, soy yogurt, or maple syrup

Paul loves cereal, but I have yet to find a cereal that I can eat that doesn't make me feel sluggish compared to the energy-infusing green smoothies.

For my Kids:

Hash browns (I recommend Trader Joe's)
Organic soy yogurt
Sprouted grain bread toast (topped with earth balance buttery spread and all fruit jam)
Vegan Breakfast cookies (Essie's favorite are Carrot Millet Breakfast cookies, I use craisins instead of cherries)
Home-made Granola with almond milk
Low-sugar cereal topped with fruit and plant milk
Blueberry Spelt pancakes, vegan style

Lunch --

Big vegan salad. Homemade dressing. On this salad I just threw on some Hummus from Trader Joe's.

Basic Salad:

Spring mix tossed with romaine or spinach
Microgreens (sprouts from Trader joes -- tasty)

Shredded green cabbage (also cheap at TJ's)
Broccoli slaw (also TJ's)

Then you can add:

Thinly sliced bell peppers
Nuts (I like chopped candied pecans -- basically toasted in maple syrup)

And go WILD! What is your favorite thing in a salad?

Sliced pears taste really good with certain avocado salads (look up "pear roquefort salad" on
Spinach and strawberry salads are another yummy variation
Greek salad is Paul's favorite

Then I have leftovers from dinner the night before. Not a leftovers fan? Sprout and avocado spinach sandwiches with Hummus (TJs has GREAT hummus) is yummy! Or some quick pasta, cooked veggies, and marinara sauce. Another fast option is refried bean burritos with leftover rice, tofutti cream cheese, and chopped veggies with salsa and guacamole.

With this salad I had mashed potatoes topped with corn and green beans, and a simple vegan gravy.


I am usually tired of raw veggies by this point, and I just want something hot and flavorful.

But I make a green salad anyway (or use the leftovers from lunch) and put a small amount on my plate. If it's on my plate, I eat it. I don't always do this -- so I try to have a very veggie-packed main dish for dinner to cover my bases.

There is nothing wrong with having another fun version of a green smoothie -- more dessert-like that can even include coconut ice cream.

My kids love fruit so I usually try to have some kind of fresh cut fruit.

A good way to build your meal:

Start with a starch or a grain and build on it. Starches and grains are key because they help you be full and they are your replacement for meat. Instead of a meat-centered meal, you now have starch-based meals. Every day I try to use a different starch. Some options are: squashes (all kinds), potatoes (all types), yams, rice, quinoa, pasta, corn (polenta), breads, tortillas, beans (all kinds), etc. Its amazing what you can do with beans. Meatballs, veggie patties, soups, stews, salads, sauces, etc.

Next, choose a veggie for steaming/roasting/sauteeing. I love Costco's Normandy Style frozen veggies. Or their pre-cut broccoli. They are a great addition to any meal.

A great way to veggie-pack your day is to have your veggies incorporated into an entree.

Our favorite vegan meals for dinner/lunch:

1.) Pizza or Calzones (no cheese, or with a cashew-based cheese sauce, or sprinkled with sprouted, organic tofu)
2.) Veggie Pot Pie (Basic cashew sauce/gravy)
3.) Macaroni and Cheese (Basic cheese cashew-coconut sauce)
4.) Southern India Coconut Curried Veggies (potato-based) I like to make a fruit pizza with this, and some honey banana whole wheat bread
5.) Asian Stir Fries (with hoisin sauce and dry roasted peanuts) Over vegan fried rice (usually includes peas and chopped scallions)
6.) Pinto bean burritos with all the toppings, tofutti cream cheese, guac, salsa, or insted of tortillas we have Nachos and use chips with a basic cheese sauce
7.) 3 bean chili, slow cooked, with lots of veggies, salad, and corn bread. Could turn this into a baked potato bar.
8.) Fettucine Alfredo with normandy style veggies and homemade whole wheat bread or breadsticks and salad
9.) Creamy vegetable soup
10.) Ministrone over Quinoa (here is an example pic of Paul's and my fav ministrone)

11.) Veggie burgers with all the fix'ins (including pineapple rings and spinach), on sprouted whole grain bread that is toasted, and fries
12.) Vegan Lasagna
13.) I am working on a good panini sandwich with tomato soup or cream of mushroom soup. I think I have found one.
14.) Just your basic Black Beans and Dirty Brown or cajun style Rice, with steamed greens, maybe some corn muffins
15.) Biscuits and Gravy. With lots of veggies to replace the usual meat.
16.) Potato-Carrot soup
17.) Mashed sweet potatoes with vegan gravy/sauce, corn on the cob, salad, mixed steamed veggies, and bread
18.) Portabella fajitas with salsa, guacamole, romaine, and toasted no-lard tortillas

And LOTS more, which I need to post!

We love all different kinds of muffins, cookies, brownies, breads, and even homemade doughnuts. But I am careful to FIRST have a veggie-packed day, and then enjoy these more refined foods. All of these are fun to have around and are good quick-grab foods. A vegan baking book would be a good idea. I encourage the use of whole grain flours in baking, and unbleached flours in about a 3:1 ratio.

And dont forget the Dessert! And coconut ice cream!

Every night before I go to bed something is always soaking. It is routine for me now. Usually I have no idea what I will do with it, but by the next day I know, and need the soaking to have been completed.

Almonds for almond milk
Raw cashews for cream sauces
Steel cut oats (taste SO much better after soaking all night)
Rice or Quinoa (but not necessary)

This picture is terribly fuzzy, but it is an example of what I bring home from the grocery store.

Cooking the whole foods way can be overwhelming and time-consuming. So honestly I only make a veggie-packed main dish 4 nights a week, and I make it huge. We eat leftovers. Or, we freeze half of the UNcooked portion and bake/cook/heat it at a later date.

Moms are busy, but there is usually one day a week that we can bake. I picked Mondays, because we have no school that day, and it's a slow day. So, pick your slow day of the week, and plan for baking 2-3 different kinds of treats/goods that can be put into lunches and used as snacks or quick breakfasts on-the-go.

Thanks for reading, and lots of love! Ask questions.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Nut Loaf

Holiday Nut Loaf
From “Seven Secrets Cookbook” By Neva Brackett

Makes 1 loaf (10 servings)

Here is another fabulous vegan meatloaf recipe by Angela Liddon at

The following is a recipe I have tried, and we LOVED it. Paul said it was the best meatloaf he ever had, hands-down, vegan or non-vegan. It would go great with Sweet Tomato Sauce or Simple Vegan Gravy.

No vegetarian home would be complete without a good savory meatloaf. Here is a tried-and-true recipe that you will love. It is a basic recipe that lends itself well to variations. If you live in areas of the world where pecans are rare, use your local nuts.

Neva says, “If you don't have tofu, use soybeans. Seasonings can be varied too, according to where you live. This recipe includes a large amount of onions. At first I thought that sounded like too much, but now I consider it to be the secret of its wonderful flavor and moist texture.”

The tofu or soybeans and gluten flour or corn starch help bind it together, replacing the eggs.


1 cup tofu and ½ cup water (or 1 cup soaked soybeans with 1 cup water)(I use sprouted, organic tofu from Trader Joe’s)

2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos or 2 teaspoons soy sauce
¼ cup gluten flour or cornstarch (I used corn starch, and it worked well)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground sage or Italian seasoning
3-4 cups soft whole grain bread crumbs (I use Trader Joe’s Flourless Sprouted seven grain bread)
2 cups pecans (may use walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, or cashews)
2 cups finely chopped onions


l. Blend tofu (or soybeans) with water, garlic, and seasonings.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add blended tofu or soybeans and mix well.

Hint: A food processor will greatly simplify the preparation of this loaf. The bread can be easily made into crumbs several slices at a time, the nuts can be ground, and the onions chopped. These bread crumbs are made using soft, untoasted bread. Dried crumbs are more compact, so if you use them, use only 1 ½ - 2 cups

3. Place mix in lightly oiled or nonstick loaf pan. Cover with foil and bake at 350 F for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes to give it a chance to set up before removing from the pan.

Turn upside down onto a serving dish. Garnish with fresh parsley or kale and serve with Simple Gravy or Sweet and Sour Tomato Sauce.

Variation: Cashew-Carrot Loaf

Follow Holiday Nut Loaf recipe using 2 cups raw cashew nuts in place of the pecans. Use 1 cup finely ground or grated carrot and reduce onion to 1 cup finely chopped onion. Use 1 tablespoon Chicken-Like Seasoning in place of the Bragg Liquid Aminos.

Serving Tips: A good entree for a holiday meal along with cranberries, mashed potatoes, salad, and gravy. Leftover loaf is delicious when slices are placed in a nonstick skillet and browned on each side. Yummy in sandwiches or burgers.

This loaf freezes well.

Sweet Tomato Sauce (Topping)

From "Seven Secrets Cookbook" by Neva Brackett

Goes well with Holiday Nut Loaf or other meatlike entrees.

Sweet Tomato Sauce

8-ounce can crushed pineapple
8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Use the five ingredients above, or simply:
2 cups mild salsa and 1 cup of sugarless grape jam

Combine in a bowl and serve.

Makes 2 cups.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tips for Healthy Kids

As Moms, it stresses us out. Are they getting enough calories? Are they suffering from hunger late at night and not telling me? Are they struggling to perform in school due to lack of nutrients?


We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

Here is my number one kiddo. That is, number one picky eater.

She'll let you know when she doesnt like something. A great thing about Essie is that she puts a lot of effort into trying new things, and really gives them a fair chance. Essie loves mangos, bananas, sweet potatoes, and sugar snap peas.

This is my second kiddo. Here he is eating raw celery sticks. This kid will eat almost any health food I put in front of him, as long as number one isnt around to influence him. Samuel's favorites are watermelon, corn, salad, and beets!

This picture is not up-to-date, but I see great things in number three's future. She drinks green smoothies, loves beans, oatmeal, and quinoa, and could chomp on fruit all day.

Here are a few tips I have learned, or am currently in the process of experimenting with on my own kiddos.

1.) Take them to the grocery store or farmer's market with you.

You may get a few glares.

But honestly, if you take a small child to the middle of a huge produce area, and say, "Pick your two very very favoritist fruits out from AAAAALLLLLL these fruits. Your favoritist one that you want in the whole world!"

They will love it. Do the same for their two favorite veggies. And when you take it home they will eat it. Because it was their idea, their creation, and they OWN IT. Children love choices, and they love ownership.

And you will be pleasantly surprised. Often we dont buy certain produce because we ourselves dont like those items, or are not partial to them. Dont limit your kids. They will help you broaden your horizons. Trust me. I never ate beets before Samuel educated me on them!

2.) Keep it simple, stupid.

Okay, so I am not calling anybody names. It's just that every time I hear the words, 'keep it simple,' my brain automatically tacks on the word, 'stupid.'

Sometimes I will be frantically panicking about what to feed my kids for a snack. At which point Samuel just points to a jar of olives or applesauce, or Essie simply wants an orange peeled or a piece of whole wheat toast and honey. But since in my perfectionist mind those things are too simple, they therefore cant possibly be the answer.

Just take a deep breath, and let simplicity be your answer.

3.) Make it available all day, and dont focus so heavily on 3 main meals.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman's idea is that if you make cut fruit and vegetables readily available for constant snacking by your children, then their needs will be met. He suggests creating a big fruit/veggie tray that can be left on the counter all day complete with dips, sauce, crackers, and/or nuts.

Once main meals are prepared and ready, it's okay for your child to eat less of the main meal because they have been snacking on fresh produce all day. It is a child's tendency to prefer this way of eating, and may even be healthier.

4.) Provide healthy vegan treats at home.

Figure out your child's favorite kind of vegan cookie, muffin, and/or granola bar and make it in large batches. Freeze some of them so they are always on hand. Put some of them in a cookie jar for them to dig into after heartily snacking on that fruit/veggie tray on your kitchen counter.

Hopefully you have found a recipe containing whole grains, dried fruits, and minimized oils and no refined sugars.

5.) Turn dinner into a kid's restuarant.

A simple idea is to have a white board in your kitchen. Have your kids either help you write what is on the menu for that day, or decorate pictures for the menu. Dont have a white board? Use your sliding glass door!

6.) Teach them about health.

Children want to know what is healthy for their bodies, just like they want to know about the dangerous affects of cigarrette smoking and drinking alcohol. Teach them plain, simple truth, and they will understand.

UPDATE: Recently my children learned where meat and milk comes from. They watched a movie about compassion towards animals, and it seemed to completely change their attitude about becoming vegan kids. Children don't always comprehend the far-reaching affects of healthy choices now, but they have a special understanding and love for animals that most adults have lost. Essie and Samuel now comment, "Remember? We don't eat animals anymore!"

7.) Have them help you make the meal.

If you have the patience for it. Phew. I know it's tough, especially if you are short on time. But the chances of a kiddo eating something they helped prepare goes way up. Pizza, for example. Now that it is missing cow's milk cheese, they may struggle with the change. But if they make and roll the dough themselves with their own toppings such as tomato sauce, pineapple chunks, spinach, olives, bell peppers, etc, they will most likely eat their own creation. And if they make silly faces on their pizzas, or turn them into pieces of art, all the better!

To come later -- a list of ideas for healthy snacks!

What are some of your ideas for helping kids to eat healthier?

Peanut Butter N' Honey Cookies (Oil free)

From Neva and Jim Brackett's, “Seven Secrets Cookbook.”

Dont be intimidated by the long instructions; these are easy to make. Neva just wants to make sure you get it right.

I really enjoyed these, and so did my kids -- as long as they were carefully under-baked and allowed to finish baking on the pan outside of the oven.

Really pay attention to what Neva says about not burning this recipe or not adding too much or too little liquid. Kids never really like hard cookies, and these cookies are easy to overbake, making them too hard to eat.

Neva says, “This is my favorite quick dessert to make. It is loved by all, especially children. The wonderful part of the recipe is its simplicity. We like to take these cookies when traveling; telling ourselves it is the same as eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich.”

Peanut Butter N’ Honey Cookies

2 cups dry-roasted peanuts
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or oats
½ cup honey (warmed in microwave)*
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt (omit if peanuts are salted)

*Note: This is a critical step. The honey is the liquid in the recipe. It needs to pour like water or the mix will seem dry and if too much water is added, the cookies will be tough.

l. Place peanuts and flour in a food processor and whiz for about I minute (you can also use a blender) until nuts and flour are about the same texture. (Takes about 1 minute. In a Vita-Mix, using the plunger, it takes only about 30 seconds.)

2. Place flour-and-nut mixture in a mixing bowl and add salt. Mix in the honey and vanilla. Stir together and then mix with your hands. (If your food processor is large enough, you can mix the honey and vanilla in the processor. Turn on briefly to mix.)

The dough should hold together without being dry or crumbly. If needed, add a tablespoon of water but be careful not to get it so wet that it sticks to your hands. It should be like pie crust. If it is too dry, the cookies will crumble and not hold together; but if too wet, they will be hard to handle and the baked cookies will be hard. A little extra flour can be worked in if the dough is too sticky.

3. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into balls the size of walnuts. Place on a cookie sheet and press flat with hands. Then press flatter with a fork, dipping the fork in water as needed to keep it from sticking to the dough (or use a plastic fork-it won't stick even if dry, but will break unless you press on the tines).

4. Bake at 350"F for about 10 minutes. Watch them carefully. They are done when just beginning to brown on the edges. I can think of nothing that burns so easily as peanut butter cookies. So take them out before it looks like they're done! Let them cool on the cookie sheet before removing.

Makes about 20 cookies

Variation: Gluten-free Cookies Replace whole wheat flour with one cup brown rice flour and 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

Energy Granola Bars (Oil-free)

Adapted from Sarah Matheny's "Peas and Thank you."

I double this recipe, making a 13X9 pan, and my kids LOVE it so much that it is gone in one day.

You can change it up! Maybe you like chocolate chips, or not.

Maybe you hate raisins and love dried apricots. Make it yours!

Gluten sensitive? This works well with GF flours such as brown rice, sorghum, and tapiocoa starch and 1 tsp. of xanthan gum.

Energy Granola Bars (Oil-free)


2 tablespoons whole flaxseeds (or approximately 3 tablespoons ground)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar, blonde (or any granulated sweetener)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave nectar or honey
1/3 cup nut butter of your choice
(Peanut, almond, cashew, et cetera)

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grind flax seeds and combine with water. Set aside.
2.) Combine oats, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in raisins and chocolate chips.
3.) In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup and nut butter and mix until smooth. Combine nut butter mixture with flaxseed-water mixture.
4.) Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir well. The mixture will seem dry, but keep stirring until fully integrated.
5.) Press the mixture into an 8X8-inch pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow pan to cool slightly, then cut into bars and transfer to a cooling rack.

Raw Tahini Dressing (Oil Free)

From Natalia Rose's "Raw Food Detox Diet."

At times we all struggle to make ourselves eat raw salad. Cold.

I make this oil free dressing when I feel like I need something that feels warm.

By far, it's one of my favorites! Yesterday I spread it on mixed greens, organic chopped zuchinni and shredded carrots with chopped tomatoes. YUM!

It is comforting, creamy, and very healthy. So delicious on salads, it can also be used as a veggie dip or a spread in a panini sandwich or bean burrito. Enjoy!


Makes about 4 cups

1 cup raw tahini
¼ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
3 tablespoons apple juice concentrate
l clove giarlic
2 tablespoons Nama Shoyu soy sauce (or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 stevia packet (if more sweetness is desired)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water

Blend all ingredients except water in a blender until smooth.

This mixture thickens in the refrigerator. Add the water to dilute before serving.

Tahini is finely ground sesame seeds, and can be found at any health food store in a jar in the condiments section. However, I have also found it in the wet bulk foods section at Whole Foods Market. It doesnt have to be raw.