Recipe Roundup: It’s soup season!

Something about this time of year makes my soul feel at peace. Or, rather, some things, plural. How I love the blazing fall colors, the nip in the air, the comfort of fuzzy cardigans and infinity scarves, and the desire to turn inward in body and mind and cozy up with a blanket and a book. And of course, how could I forget my professed love of soup season?

It may seem such a silly thing to pledge your undying devotion, but there’s something about a warm bowl of soup that makes everything right with the world. It’s hearty, comforting, warming, full of flavor — any kind of flavor you can dream of. And for me, many soups are inherently full of nostalgia. Especially chicken noodle soup.

I grew up in a family that treated the day after Thanksgiving as its own holiday. It was sacred, and the routine never varied: Up came the Christmas decorations, on went the holiday music, and into the kitchen we went for leftover turkey soup. And in the days before DVDs brought the magic of children’s Christmas specials on demand, we’d turn to the newspaper to check that night’s TV schedule for the first of the season’s holiday showings.

Now, no matter what time of year, whenever I smell turkey or chicken noodle soup I am there in my parents’ home listening to Bing Crosby or Manheim Steamroller, hanging my favorite “lovebirds” ornament on the tree and wrapping the banister in tinsel, waiting for the homemade noodles and creamy broth of the evening’s turkey soup.

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21 Days to Total Health: Take the Challenge!

What can you accomplish in 21 days?

You could de-clutter every room in your house. You could walk from San Francisco to Seattle. You could write a novel. You could break or start a new habit.

Or, you could transform your body and your life forever.

I’m going to do just that — and I want you to do it with me.

On October 31st, the UC Davis Integrative Medicine 21 Food Day Challenge begins. It’s a three-week journey of 100% whole food, plant-based eating. The best part? Not only do you get a huge network of support, full of people like you who are trying this thing out together, but you’ll get everything you need to plan and prepare your meals for all 21 days. That includes checklists to help you meal plan and shop plus recipes, recipes, and more recipes — plus, the chance to win all your meals delivered to your door for FREE. In fact, the entire challenge is completely, entirely, 100% free. Continue reading

Recipe Roundup: 2 one-pot wonders and vegan ribs (what???)

For years I hated cooking because the ratio was all wrong: Why spend an hour in the kitchen making dinner plus a half hour cleaning up afterwards when it only takes 20 minutes to eat? That’s 90 minutes of work for 20 minutes of enjoyment. (And if you’ve got picky eaters who pitch a fit at the table every freaking night, that 20 minutes is likely to be the worst 20 minutes of your entire day.)

But then along came the one-pot meal. It’s similar to slow cooking in that you throw everything in the crock pot and let ‘er rip, but it doesn’t take all day and there’s only one pot to clean. WINNING. Plus, there are so many more ingredients you can cook on the stove that you can’t in a slow cooker (but let’s be honest, the only ingredient I really care about is pasta).

I’ll be sharing many more one-pot meals as I test them out (cuz it’s SOUP SEASON, Y’ALL!!), so to round out my round up I’m throwing you a curve-ball: Vegan barbecue ribs. Oh yeah. I went there. And I highly recommend that you go there, too. Scroll down for more.

One-pot wonder tomato basil pasta

Image courtesy of ApronStringsBlog.com

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Why I eat the way I eat

How do you know which diet is right for you?

I’m not using the word “diet” as it’s commonly known, in the way that means “eating less to lose weight.” I’m talking about “diet” in the traditional sense, meaning “habitual nourishment.”

Maybe you read a book or heard about the latest health & diet bestseller. Maybe you had a friend or family member who lost a ton of weight after changing her diet and she convinced you to give it a try. Maybe you watched a documentary or two or started following a few blogs that made you realize it’s time to re-think the way you view food.

Whether you follow a specific diet or not or whether you’ve even stopped to think about how you feed and nourish yourself, there’s one question we all need to ask ourselves: “Is this really the way I should be eating?”

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Recipe Roundup: 3 new twists on old favorites

Whenever you change your diet, no matter how in love with your new lifestyle you may be, eventually you find yourself craving old favorites. Whether or not you decide to cut yourself some slack and indulge in a family fave (which is always my plan of action and a good way to maintain balance and not start to resent a diet), there are plenty of ways to find a substitution and turn a new dish into a new favorite.

With that in mind, here are three recipes that put a new spin on a classic dish.

Tofu Basil Ricotta

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Image courtesy LuminousVegans.com

I’ve never been a big fan of ricotta cheese; it’s way too much dairy and far too little flavor for my liking. But a homemade basil “ricotta” from tofu? Now we’re talking. Continue reading

Whole foods, plant-based shopping for beginners

My shopping list is hilariously predictable. Every single week I get the same thing: a ton of fruits & veggies; a few cans of beans; some whole wheat tortillas; bulk items like quinoa, baking soda, and brown rice noodles; kid snacks like pretzels, crackers, and trail mix; a couple of things of almond milk, and bread. Occasionally I go nuts and buy some sparkling water and fruit juice to make my own soda, or maybe I’ll get a few non-WFPB items like butter and cage-free brown eggs for some of my more conventional comfort food recipes. But seriously, my list rarely if ever changes. (If you don’t believe me, check out this post here and this one here.)

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8 scrumptious on-the-go snacks that are ridiculously good for you

As I always say: When you’ve got kids, snack time is a way of life. But guess what: It should be that way for grown-ups, too.

As adults we’ve learned to ignore our hunger signals, either by ignoring them outright in some insane attempt at weight loss or because we’re too busy to stop and eat. Or maybe you’re the type of person who would LOVE to chow down whenever the mood strikes, but you know it’s not a good idea to just shovel in any old thing that sounds good at the moment (because for me, the answer to that question is always French fries — always).

The solution to that problem is obvious: Make snacks a part of your regular meal plan so you’ll always be prepared when hunger strikes. And when you’ve got nothing but healthy, delicious goodness on hand, there’s no need to feel guilty about indulging in a mid-afternoon crunch-fest.

If you’re a parent, the best snacks are not only ones that are healthy, but delicious for both you and your kids. That’s why I make ready-to-eat snack bags for my kids, because there’s nothing worse than being surrounded by ravenous children with their hands out the minute you sneak off to open your very own snack. (Seriously it’s the worst. I start feeling all stabby when that happens. So I try not to let it happen, ever.)

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Everything you know about protein is wrong

When you become vegan or vegetarian, suddenly everyone becomes all concerned about your protein intake. With frenetic intensity they ask, “But where do you get your protein?” And though they seem to genuinely want to know, they’re already skeptical of the answer before they’ve even heard it.

That’s because our culture’s beliefs about animal-based proteins are so deeply entrenched that to go against them is nothing short of blasphemy. But the thing is, those beliefs are based on myths, misinformation, and lies.

The myths about protein

Take a look at the most pervasive beliefs about meat and protein:

  • Protein is only found in animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy.
  • You need to eat meat (a lot of it) to build muscle mass, and you need lots of protein to slim down.
  • Protein keeps you fuller longer.
  • The more protein in your diet the better.

And while there is plenty of testimonial and anecdotal evidence to back these claims, the most complete and un-biased research (read: the studies not commissioned by the meat industry) proves them all to be false. Let’s look at the claims one by one, paired with the truth about protein — including the facts about how much you protein you really need.

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Recipes: Fresh salsa, 3 ways

Nothing says “summer” like salsa. Every time I take a bite of fresh tomato salsa or homemade guacamole I feel like I’m poolside or oceanside, basking in the sun and relaxing. Even if I’m just standing at the counter trying to enjoy a quick snack while my children tear apart the house around me.

That’s why I have an arsenal of salsas in my cooking bag of tricks. It’s like a vacation in a bite. Today I’m going to share three quick recipes for fresh, savory-and-sweet salsas for you to enjoy poolside or counter-side, or wherever you may need a pick-me-up on a humdrum day.

Salsa

 

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What is a plant-based diet?

When people hear “plant-based,” they often think of piles upon piles of leafy greens. In fact, when I tell people that I have switched to a plant-based diet, I am pretty sure they imagine me eating bowl after bowl of raw broccoli or gigantic salads without dressing.

If that’s what people think, I can see why the idea of plant-based eating is so unappealing.

The truth, thankfully, is much different.

A plant-based diet is not solely based on vegetables, and you don’t have to go completely vegan or even vegetarian. A whole-foods, plant-based diet is made up of a variety of foods found in nature. The idea is to consume them as close to whole as possible, not processed beyond recognition — but not only eaten in their raw, natural state, either. These foods form the ingredients for some of your favorite dishes — soups, breads, burritos, you name it. When made from scratch instead of consumed in processed, sugar- and chemical-laden, ready-made, store-bought packages, your favorites become some of the healthiest foods you can eat. All it takes is a little slicing, dicing, blending, and sauteing, and voila!  Nature’s most delicious offerings become your new family favorites.

The other day, for example, I ate onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, vegetable broth, white beans, and kale for dinner. But I didn’t eat them like this:

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Photo Credit: Minimalist Baker

 

 

I ate them like this:

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Photo Credit: Minimalist Baker

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