Maple-Dijon “Muscle Sprouts”


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BrusselsLast weekend, my dad, husband and I went to our first roller derby bout. It is a full-contact sport where roller skaters battle their way past the opposing team to score points. To succeed, the players have to use a combination of fancy footwork, sneakiness, and brute force. It looks like they’re playing speed chess while bricks are being thrown at them.

Each of the players assumes a clever roller derby alter ego – Jalapeno Business, Carmen Getsome, Missile America, etc. This recipe is dedicated to Muscle Sprouts, a jammer who was carried off the field after a particularly brutal hit/crash. I hope she heals quickly!

Maple-Dijon Muscle Sprouts

Serves 4

4 cups Brussels sprouts
4 cups arugula
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries, optional
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons raw cashews
1 tsp maple syrup
1 clove garlic, finely minced

  1. Trim the tough stems off of the muscle sprouts and slice them using the slicing disk on a food processor. See the picture above for an idea of how thin you should slice them. If you don’t have a food processor, you can do it by hand, it will just take longer!
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and saute the sliced muscle sprouts, using a tablespoon or two of water as needed to keep the sprouts from sticking, until they are slightly browned.
  3. Toss the cooked muscle sprouts with the arugula, pecans and cranberries (if using). The arugula will wilt slightly from the heat of the sprouts.
  4. To make the dressing, combine the remaining ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Toss the vegetables and dressing and serve warm or at room temperature.

This recipe would also be good raw, so you can skip the cooking in step two if you want.

Calories - sprouts

Photo by Thomas Cizauskas, used with permission.

“I love nutritional science!”


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Dr. Furhman is a physician who has made it his life’s work to heal people through nutritional excellence. His TEDx talk is a short introduction to his nutritarian diet style, which helps people eliminate food cravings/addictions, drop excess weight, and prevent disease.

I’m sharing this because my husband and I started following his recommendations more than four years ago and have never felt better. He no longer suffers from asthma and allergies. His athletic performance on the bike is also better than ever with less training. My adult acne and migraines have been eliminated. My increasing cholesterol and triglycerides dropped to below “normal” levels. And my weight has effortlessly stabilized at my high school weight.

The video includes several examples of people who have had success conquering much more acute conditions like diabetes, lupis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, heart disease, etc. These results came from diet alone, not from medications.

Here are a few salient quotes, in case you don’t have time for the full video:

Doctors mostly prescribe medications for conditions that are a result of the toxic diet Americans are eating. It’s like hitting yourself with a hammer every day and giving your hand a big smash. And it gets swollen and full of pain. And you go to a doctor and get pain medications for it and the next day you take a big hammer and smack it again . . . The toxic foods we are eating are the hammer. You don’t go to a doctor if you have breathing problems from smoking cigarettes to get a drug to help you breathe better so you can continue to smoke. That’s what Americans are doing!

* * *

Your healthy life expectancy is determined by the foods you eat.


When you flood your body with the nutrients it needs, it doesn’t just make you healthier and live longer, it stops food addictions and food cravings and normalizes your appetite, and makes your body gravitate toward your ideal weight effortlessly. It’s the secret for what ails us.

* * *

Americans are eating a diet that is dramatically nutrient deficient . . . It couldn’t be better designed to create a nation full of diseases like heart attacks and strokes, dementias and cancers had it been designed by al Qaida.


The more you eat green, the more you get lean.

* * *

Greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds are our immune system special forces.


Scientific studies show that angioplasty and bypass surgery don’t enable people to live longer . . . They don’t prevent future heart attacks. They are just a temporary Band-Aid to make people feel better for a temporary period of time.

Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t touch on the specifics of his diet style in the video. If you’re interested, though, I recommend reading his book Eat to Live for the full program and scientific support. (When was the last diet book you read peppered with scientific literature references in every paragraph?)

Here are the basics of his 6-Week Plan for dramatic weight loss and health recovery. We have transitioned from this to his lifestyle plan which allows up to 10% of your calories to come from foods in the off-limits category.

UNLIMITED (eat as much as you want)

  • all raw vegetables, including raw carrots (goal: 1 lb. daily)
  • cooked non-starchy vegetables (goal: 1 lb. daily)
  • beans, legumes, bean sprouts, or *tofu (minimum 1 cup daily total)
  • fresh fruit (at least 4 servings daily, berries are the highest in micronutrients and lowest in sugars)

*Beans should be eaten daily; tofu should be eaten less frequently.

LIMITED (not more than one serving)

  • cooked starchy vegetables OR whole grains – maximum 1 cup per day (butternut or acorn squash, corn, sweet potato, brown rice, cooked carrots, whole grain breads*, whole grain cereals*)
  • raw nuts and seeds (1 oz. per day) OR avocado (2 oz. per day)
  • ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon a day)
  • unsweetened non-dairy milks – maximum 1 cup a day

*People who have difficulty losing weight may also eliminate the starchy vegetable/grain.


dairy products
animal products
between meal snacks
fruit juice, dried fruits
salt, sugar


Tested: Roasted Cauliflower with Nacho Cheese Sauce


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rotelWhen I was a kid, my mom used to make this molten cheesy dip with Velveeta and Rotel-brand tomatoes and green chilies. Occasionally, some browned sausage would make its way in the dip, as well. We’d scoop up the dip with crunchy tortilla chips, licking the gooey drips off our fingers.

I want to say the dish is gross, except I have fond memories of how awesome it tasted. It was the best reason to watch football on Sundays.

All of this is to say: imagine my delight when Susan Voisin posted a plant-strong version of the dip on her blog. Her recipe calls for non-dairy milk and cooked, mashed sweet potato, neither of which I had on hand last night. My modified version was delightful, though. We served it with roasted cauliflower florets, but I bet it would be just as good poured over a baked potato and steamed broccoli or inside a bean and rice burrito.

Nacho-Cheese Sauce

1/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/3 cup raw sweet potato, unpeeled, roughly chopped
1 small clove garlic
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder, optional
1 10-ounce can Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chilies, drained

Put the cashews in a liquid measuring cup and add water to make one cup. Combine the cashews, water and all remaining ingredients except the canned tomatoes in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking and stirring until mixture becomes thick. Stir in the drained tomatoes, and continue cooking until everything is bubbly and hot. Enjoy!

Serves 3

Calories - cheesy dip

Easter Brunch


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A few days ago, I posted a menu for Easter dinner. Then, last night my mom told me that my brother was hosting Easter dinner. So much for that menu! It got me thinking though what an Easter brunch menu might look like. Here’s a suggestion for a post-church gathering:

Pomegranate-Citrus Juice (recipe below)

Gluten-free spinach and carrot muffins (omit the salt)

Sundried tomato, mushroom, spinach quiche (omit the oil in the quiche filling)

sliced strawberries with sweet banana “cream” poured over the top

Pomegranate-Citrus Juice

2 small grapefruits
3 juice oranges
1/2 lime
2/3 cup pomegranate juice

Peel and juice the citrus fruits and divide into three glasses. Top with pomegranate juice, which will settle to the bottom, and serve.

Photo by madlyinlovewithlife, used with permission

Easter Menu



asparagusEaster is just around the corner. If you shun hard-cooked eggs, glazed hams, and rack of lamb, you can still prepare an Easter feast that will please both your vegan and non-vegan Easter guests. Here are just a few tasty Easter recipes to serve on this special holiday that highlight the fresh produce of spring.

Soup: Lemony Spinach & Orzo Soup (without the oil and salt)

Spring Salad: mixed greens, shredded beets, shredded carrots, chopped walnuts, and white balsamic vinegar

Main Dish: Sundried tomato, mushroom, spinach quiche

Side: steamed asparagus

Dessert: sliced strawberries with sweet banana “cream” poured over the top

Sweet Banana Cream

1 banana
1/2 cup nondairy milk
1/4 tsp orange or almond extract, optional

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately. Sauce will brown if left to sit for too long.

Photo by Livin’ Spoonful, used with permission

Green Envelope Soup


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Everyone says their grandmother’s apple pie is the best they’ve ever tasted. I never knew my either of my grandmothers, but I can honestly say that my grandmother’s green envelope soup is the best there is.

What is green envelope soup? It’s the outline of a soup recipe that my mother got from her mother many, many years ago. She scribbled it on the back of a green envelope, that I think she still has today, and used it to create hundreds pots of soup over the decades. The soups were never the same but always filled our bellies with warm, nourishing goodness.

I don’t have a copy of the green envelope “recipe,” but I was reminded of it the other day as I tried to assemble lunch from nothing after being gone on vacation and not having much in the way of food in the house. We ended up with a pot of something warm and tasty, which was more than adequate to keep body and soul together.

Inspired by the Green Envelope Soup

1 ½ cups onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, shopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, chopped
2 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp no-salt seasoning
¼ cup tomato paste
1 ½ cups cooked black-eyed peas, or other bean of your choice

Sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes in a large soup pot over medium heat, using a couple tablespoons water every now and then to keep things from sticking. Add the carrots and celery and continue cooking until things start to brown a little and you get some fond.

Add the mushrooms, broth, seasoning, and tomato paste. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the beans and continue simmering until everything is hot.

Variations: Instead of beans, use ½ cup of quick-cooking barley. You could also substitute fresh herbs for the seasoning if you have some on hand. Finally, potatoes would be an awesome substitute for the beans, but you won’t be able to freeze the leftovers.

Serves 6

Calories - green envelope

Cookbook Review: Quick Fix Vegan

Robin Robertson released yet another cookbook that I’m super interested in trying – More Quick Fix Vegan. I have her original Quick Fix Vegan and thought I’d offer a quick review. If the sequel is as good as the first, it’s sure to be a hit!

Like many people I don’t have lots of time to cook elaborate meals, but that doesn’t mean I will compromise my family’s diet with frozen dinners or processed convenience foods. I have enjoyed Lorna Sass’s cookbook, Short Cut Vegan, for many years and went looking for a companion that offers more ideas for easy-to-make plant-based meals. Robin Robertson has long been a favorite cookbook author, so I checked out Quick Fix Vegan from the library for a test drive.


(The book was originally published in October 2011. Hopefully this belated review will be useful for somebody!)

At a glance, Quick-Fix Vegan provides 150 vegan recipes ranging from starters, snacks, salads, sauces, and sandwiches to stovetop suppers, pastas, soups, and desserts that can all be (allegedly) prepared in 30 minutes or less. It also features “Make-Ahead Bakes,” recipes that are assembled ahead of time (in less than 30 minutes) and then baked before serving. Rather than relying on packaged, highly processed faux meats and cheeses, I love that Robin’s recipes are made from inexpensive, healthful, and hearty whole foods with modest amounts of minimally processed ingredients like tofu and seitan.

Quick Fix Vegan is also laid out nicely, in an uncluttered, easy-to-read format with one recipe per page. At the front of the book there are basic tips on how to stock you pantry, how to save money on food, and how to clean and store veggies for quicker meal preparation. There are also some basics on tofu, seitan, non-dairy milk, etc., which can be helpful to new cooks and a quick refresher for those with more experience.

We’ve cooked out of it for three weeks now and almost all of the recipes were on the table in less than 30 minutes. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Coconut-Curry Cauliflower and Chickpeas: We made this with full-fat coconut milk and thought it was deliciously rich. The quality of the dish is dependent on the quality of your curry powder, so use a good one!
  • Moroccan Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Spinach: I was not sure whether this was going to be as good as Sass’s Chickpea Curry in a Hurry. It was different and quite tasty – a keeper!
  • Spicy Red Bean Slaw: So good we’ve made this twice!
  • Lebanese Sleek: We loved the combination of kale and black-eyed peas. The spice mix she suggests if you can’t get your hands on commercial mixes is outstanding.
  • Green Chile Tofu Migas: I love tofu scrambles, but Nick…no so much. This one got his approval, though.
  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad: Hearty and delicious.
  • Spicy Peanut Hoisin Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu: I omitted the noodles and simply poured the sauce over steamed broccoli and tofu for dinner one night. Yum!
  • Cannellini Pesto: Served this over noodles and roasted cauliflower and roasted cherry tomatoes. I found it a tad on the garlicky side, but Nick was doing a happy dance.
  • Quinoa and Chard with Sherry-Glazed Mushrooms: I had my doubts that I’d be able to finish this dish in 30 minutes, but 27 minutes later I was calling Nick out of the garden. It is killer one-dish meal.
  • Quinoa Salad with Apples and Walnuts: Oh-la-la! A perfect picnic salad!

And some not-so-favorites:

  • Smoky Chipotle-Chocolate Chili: I had high hopes for this dish. It was pretty good, but I have another recipe with similar flavors that I like better.
  • Tuscan Kale Lasagna: I made the mistake of making this with ready-bake rice noodles. The resulting dish was only okay. I partly blame the noodles, but I also think it was a little heavy on the tofu. If I make it again, I will definitely tweak the recipe to our liking.

Based on the recipes we’ve tried so far, I’m inclined to buy it and continue trying many more of the recipes in here, especially in the salads and make-ahead bakes chapters.

Something for the weekend

As of this posting, I’m somewhere west of Las Vegas, headed to Death Valley for a week of bike riding. Wishing you good health while I’m on vacation!

Here are some interesting reads from around the web this week…

Robin Robertson has published a new cookbook – More Quick Fix Vegan. Her first Quick Fix Vegan is awesome, so I have high hopes for this one!

Exactly how does one “season to taste“?

Read the ingredient list on packaged food. You do this right?

Recipes I’d like to try…

Flawless kale chips. Mine always turn out burnt when I make them in the oven, and I often don’t have the patience to use a dehydrator. I’ll give these a try though!

Spinach chickpea quinoa omelette. Green for St. Patrick’s Day :-)

Photo by Randy Le’Moine Photography, used with permission

Tested: Mushroom Stroganoff




I’m headed out for a week of bike touring and sunshine starting tomorrow, which means it’s clean-out-the-fridge time. There was a huge bag of mushrooms just waiting to be eaten, so my husband and I whipped up a batch of Mushroom Stroganoff from the Forks over Knives cookbook.

We’d made Chef AJ’s version before, but found it too salty thanks to the liquid aminos. The FOK version, on the other hand, was out of this world. You can find the original recipe on the FOK website. We modified it slightly to use what we had on hand. Here’s how we made it:

Mushroom Stroganoff

1 pound whole-grain fettuccine, cooked according to package directions, drained, and kept warm
2 large shallots, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp no-salt seasoning
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound crimini mushrooms, stemmed and cut into large pieces
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 package extra firm lite silken tofu, drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Chopped parsley

  1. Get a pot of water on for cooking the pasta and cook the pasta according to the directions.
  2. Place the shallots in a large skillet and sauté over a medium heat for 8 minutes. Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to keep them from sticking.
  3. Add the garlic and no-salt seasoning, and cook for another minute.
  4. Stir in the pepper and crimini mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove the the porcini mushrooms from the soaking liquid and chop coarsely. Add the mushrooms and their liquid, and the wine. Stir, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  6. While the mushrooms are cooking, blend the tofu, lemon juice and red wine vinegar to combine. When the mushrooms are finished cooking, stir in 1 cup of the tofu mixture.
  7. Add the cooked noodles and toss well. Serve garnished with the parsley.

Variation: Try pouring the stroganoff sauce over a plate of steamed kale.


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