Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Romesco Sauce Makes A Wonderful Dip
With Almonds, Red Bell Peppers & Tomatoes

Romesco sauce with almonds, peppers, and tomatoes.

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This thick, tasty Catalan sauce can be made with various nuts and red bell peppers. I love it with raw almonds because they are such a great natural source of vitamin E. Vitamin E prevents oxidative stress and protects against heart disease, cognitive decline, cancer, cataracts and macular degeneration. It also helps supports the body's immune system. You cannot get too much vitamin E from food but you can over supplement which could lead to excess thinning of the blood and hemorrhage. So each your almonds and put away those supplements! 

Although most recipes toast the almonds, I shy away from roasting any type of nuts as it can damage and alter their polyunsaturated fats.

Romesco sauce is traditionally served with seafood and meats, but it's also wonderful on veggies and as a dip. I recently served this at a tapas and sangria party along with warm focaccia.

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Romesco Sauce
Vegan, Gluten Free (if made with gluten-free bread)
[makes eight (1/4 cup) servings]
Requires a food processor, such as a Cuisinart

2 Italian Roma tomatoes (or 1 large tomato)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 large slice crusty bread (or gluten free)
2 roasted red peppers (1 cup)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus some for greasing pan
2 tablespoons cold-pressed hemp oil
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon mild pimenton (smoked paprika)
pinch or two cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice the tomatoes in quarters and place them in a slightly greased, small roasting pan with the garlic cloves. Place in the oven and roast until soft, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Tomatoes and garlic before and after roasting.

 Place the almonds in a food processor with an S blade and process them until they are ground. 

Processing the almonds until ground.

Lightly toast the bread. If you want the recipe to be gluten free, use gluten-free bread.

Break up the bread into pieces and process with the ground almonds until the bread forms crumbs.

Rinse the jarred roasted red peppers and pat dry. Add them, along with the roasted tomatoes and garlic, to the food processor.  

Mix the vinegar, oils, salt, smoked paprika, and cayenne in a small cup and stir until well combined. 

Process the roasted red pepper and tomatoes with the almond and bread mixture until it starts to combine. Through the top shoot, slowly drizzle in the vinegar and oil mixture. Process until combined.

Place in a small bowl and serve.

Per 1/4 cup serving: 131 calories, 11 g fat, 1 g total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 536 mg omega-3 and 3,516 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 3 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 2 g dietary fiber, and 391 mg sodium.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Raw Spring Vegetable Soup
Less Than 150 Calories
Lose Weight With A Raw Food Cleanse

Raw Spring Vegetable Soup - Vegan and Gluten Free!

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Eating for Spring Time
With warmer weather comes access to more fruits and vegetables, allowing us to lighten up our diet. In Spring, I try to eat at least half of my food raw. And to lose a few pounds, get more energy, and detox from a winter of way too much fun, I do a raw food cleanse. 

Today's recipe is a simple raw soup that blends garden peas and kale with a creamy avocado and is topped with shredded carrots. Fresh garlic, lemon juice and cayenne provide the main seasoning. 

Eating raw soups is the perfect way to lighten up your spring diet and they are suitable for a raw food cleanse.

There are numerous posts on how to optimize the amount of raw food you eat throughout the seasons and how to do a Raw Food Cleanse on this site. But If you would like a more comprehensive summary of this information and more than 150 tested and optimized recipes, download my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen: Delicious and Easy Vegan Recipes and Seasonal Food Plan PLUS Raw Food Cleanse. It's only $9.99 and is available on Amazon and iTunes.

You Don't Need a Kindle or iPad to Read an eBook!
Some of you have written saying that you would like my ebook but don't have a Kindle or iPad. You can now download my eBook onto your computer with this free Kindle for PC reading AP. 

Enjoy today's recipe - it's becoming one of my favorite ways to enjoy my garden kale. And it's perfect for the warm weather and for your Raw Food Cleanse. Best of all, it's less than 150 calories per serving!

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Raw Spring Vegetable Soup 
Raw Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 4 servings]
Requires a High Speed Blender

2 cups fresh peas, or frozen (thawed)
2 packed cups kale (cleaned with stems removed)
2 cups chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and seed removed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 dashes cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded

Place all ingredients, except the carrot, in a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix or Blendtec. Blend until smooth. Adjust for salt and pepper if needed.

Pour into 4 bowls. Top with shredded carrot and serve.

Per serving: 145 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 121 mg omega-3 and 777 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 7 g dietary fiber and 720 mg sodium.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Edamame Succotash Salad
Simple And Refreshing Summer Recipe
Vegan And Gluten Free

Edamame is used instead of lima beans in this
simple and refreshing succotash salad.

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available on Amazon and iTunes.

Edamame Lovers
Here's a new twist on succotash that uses edamame instead of lima beans. Edamame are soybeans in their most unprocessed state. I'm a soy fan but only in products like edamame, home made soy milk and tofu. I stay clear of soy protein isolates and fake foods. I have discussed the soy controversy many times but here's a short interview with Dr. Oz and dietician Kristin Kirkpatrick that will hopefully provide additional information on soy and what soy products are good for you and which should be avoided.

You can find frozen edamame in most local supermarkets.

Soybeans contain important plant chemicals such as:
Flavonoids, Isoflavonoids, Phenolic acids, and others.

1/2 cup of edamame has 94.5 calories and provides:
4 g of dietary fiber
8.5 g of high quality protein
280 mg omega-3 fatty acids
Soybeans are a good source of thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
They are also a very good source of vitamin K, folate, and manganese.

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Edamame Succotash
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 8 servings]

3 cups fresh corn
12 ounce package frozen shelled edamame
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 jalapeño, seeds removed and minced*
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon cold-pressed hemp oil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove pressed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste, optional
* leave some or all of the seeds if you like it really spicy

Remove the corn from the cob using my husband's trick of cutting it horizontally. This will keep it from flying all over the kitchen.

Prepare the frozen soy beans as directed on the package. Drain.

Place the corn, cooked edamame, red onion, jalapeño, and cilantro in a large salad bowl. Set aside.

Mix the lime juice, hemp oil, olive oil, and pressed garlic in a small cup. Pour over the corn and edamame and toss until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Per serving: 135.5 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 425 mg omega-3 and 2,239 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 7 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, and 157 mg of sodium.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Terrific Summer Beach Read!
You'll Love The Vegan Character In It Named Kale

Cover Art by Christy Hawkins
a vegan for 21 years!

Melanie Bishop
I met the author of this book, Melanie Bishop, a few years back when she checked into our vacation rental in Sebastopol to do some writing. Most of the time people visit our studio to go biking or wine tasting so we were excited to think of Melanie up in our apartment getting inspired by our vineyard and our little kookie town of Sebastopol. I was also very happy to have a writer here because I was in the middle of writing my own book, Health Begins in the Kitchen. So I felt an immediate connection to Melanie. 

Melanie Bishop is recently retired from Prescott College in Arizona where she worked on the creative writing faculty and was the founding editor and fiction/nonfiction editor of Alligator Juniper. Melanie divides her time between Prescott, AZ and Carmel, CA where she teaches community classes, hosts writing retreats, and freelances as a writing coach/editor. She is at work on Book Two of the Tate McCoy Series, and writes book reviews for Carmel Magazine.

Melanie and I kept in touch and followed each others' progress. And although this book wasn't the one she wrote in our studio, I was delighted when My So-Called Ruined Life was published. I bought one of the very first copies and thoroughly enjoyed it.

This young adult novel (yes, I still love reading young adult novels!) is about sixteen-year-old Tate McCoy. Her mother is murdered and her father is the prime suspect. Despite the whispers of the townspeople, Tate refuses to believe her life is ruined. She engages in all sorts of self-rescue, the summer before her 17th birthday--finding solace in the great outdoors, swim lessons, her wonderful best friend, Kale, and a crush on her swim instructor. Teens will be inspired by Tate's resilience, and readers of all ages will appreciate her quest to find her buoyancy, her personal balance amidst the backdrop of tragedy.

I particularly love her vegan best friend named "Kale" and how Tate makes an attempt to become vegan herself. The cover, also designed by long-time vegan Christy Hawkins, shows the subtle presence of her best friend on the cover as actual kale leaves! How clever. 

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My Interview with Melanie:
Why did you create a vegan character in the book?
There are a few reasons for this. As a college professor for 22 years, I knew many many young adults who were vegetarian or vegan or gluten-free, or dealing with other dietary restrictions. Classes at Prescott College often traveled so I would be with my students for a month at a time, living in close quarters. Diet and food shopping and meal preparation was always big on these field courses--meeting everyone's needs and making good food! I think attempting to be vegan/vegetarian is something young people can relate to. But also, the inspiration for my protagonist came from a combination of about four young women I know. Some were former students of mine, and some were relatives. One of my nieces, who provided parts of my inspiration for Tate McCoy, is vegan, and has a husband and two children now and the whole family is vegan. They live in Portland, Oregon, which is about the best place you could ever live if you are vegan. They even have vegan donuts at a place called Voodoo Donuts. I've had them. They are Yum. 

Why did you select a vegan artist to design the cover?
This one is easy! That same niece I mentioned above was an art major at Portland State, right around the time my book was accepted by Torrey House Press for publication. She had an assignment in her art class to illustrate something and I needed a beautiful book cover, so she read the book, we talked about themes, and symbols, and metaphors, and then she did this painting that became the cover. (The actual painting is bigger, and encompasses more; it was cropped for the dimensions of the book.) She was a natural choice for me when I needed something artistic. She comes to me for writing/editing help, and I will always go to her for visual arts help.

Having gone to school in Austin and staying there to work for another 13 years, I really loved that the book takes place there. Why did you select Austin as the setting of your story?
In order to write about a place believably, the setting of the book had to be a place I knew well, a place I'd lived myself. I lived in Austin, TX from 1980 to 1984, and waitressed at the restaurant where the character Kale works in the book--Mother's Cafe. It's an amazing vegetarian Mexican place and I worked there for four great years. Lovely people own it and manage it and the food is just superb. If you're in Austin, check it out. At the corner of 43rd and Duval. Once I decided on Austin, certain details of that city became key parts of the book. I knew Barton Springs would play a big role, and that's when buoyancy became a huge theme in the book. All of that was born at Barton Springs, in my imagination--my memory of time spent there.

Learn more about Melanie at

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Looking for a Summer Beach Read?
So if you are looking for a good read, pick up a copy of this book (available on Amazon). 
Publishers Weekly called My So-Called Ruined Life  " introspective page turner".  For more reviews, an interview, and a one minute trailer for the book, go to

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Apples Top The List For Most Pesticides
Dirty Dozen And Clean Fifteen For 2014
Are There Pesticides In Your Baby's Food?

Once again apples top the list as having the most
pesticide residue in EWG's annual "Dirty Dozen" list.

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Thanks EWG
For the last ten years, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has taken data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on pesticide residue and compiled a list of the most and least contaminated fruits and vegetables. I use this list to determine which produce should be purchased as organic and which conventionally grown produce is safe to eat. For example, I always buy organic apples, which often top the "Dirty Dozen" list and I rarely spend the extra money for avocados that top the "Clean Fifteen."

The Dirty Dozen Plus
The Dirty Dozen contain high concentrations of pesticides as well as a number of different pesticides. For example:
* Every sample of imported nectarines and 99% of apple samples had pesticide residue.
* Potatoes had more pesticides by weight than any other food.
* A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides.
* Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas, and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides each.

Here's the list of the Dirty Dozen:
Sweet Bell Peppers
Cherry Tomatoes
Snap Peas
Dirty Dozen Plus includes:
Hot Peppers
Kale/Collard Greens

Kale, collard greens, and hot peppers were found to be frequently contaminated with insecticides that are toxic to the human nervous system. But don't skip the greens, just make sure that you either buy organic or do what I do and grow them in your own garden.

The Clean Fifteen
This produce is the least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue. For example:
* Only 1% of avocado samples had detectable residue.
* 89% of pineapples, 82% of kiwi, 80% of papaya, 88% of mango, and 61% of cantaloupe had NO residue.
* No fruit sample on the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
* Only 5.5% of the Clean Fifteen vegetable samples had 2 or more pesticides.

Here's the list of the Clean Fifteen:
Sweet Corn
Frozen Sweet Peas
Sweet Potatoes

Pesticides in Baby Food
The U.S. has no special rules for pesticide in baby food even though infants are far more vulnerable to harmful chemicals. Because of this fact, the European Commission has set a limit of no more than 0.01 parts per million of ANY pesticide in baby food. 

In 2014 the USDA monitored samples of applesauce, carrots, peaches, and peas sold as baby food.

Babies are the most vulnerable to harmful pesticides.

Results of USDA baby food testing
 5% of peach baby food samples had 10 different pesticides.
1/3 of peach baby food samples failed European guidelines.
18% of applesauce samples contained acetamiprid*.
17% of applesauce samples contained the fungicide carbendiazim.
Apple juice samples contained six different pesticides.
14% of apple juice samples contained DPA**
Samples did not show significant residue in carrots and peas

*Acetamiprid is a neonicotinoid pesticide that could disrupt the developing nervous system.
** DPA is a pesticide that was banned in Europe in 2012.

To be safe, I would encourage parents to purchase organic baby food, especially those containing apples, peaches or anythng made from produce listed on the Dirty Dozen list. You can also grind or blend your own baby food from organic produce or that grown from your own organic garden. 

Nursing mothers should consume organic fruits and vegetables, especially those listed on the Dirty Dozen, to prevent pesticides from contaminating their breast milk.

Thanks to the Environmental Working Group for their continued good work! 

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Apple And Pear Sangria Blanca
A Great Way To Celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

Sangria is a wonderful drink for warm weather entertaining.

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Although this wine and fruit drink is often served in Spain and Portugal, it was pretty popular in Austin where I attended college and worked for 18 years. Especially during Cinco de Mayo celebrations!

Sangria is usually made with red wine, giving it a deep red color (hence the name. Sangria means "bleeding, blood-letting" in Spanish). But my friend Enrique showed me this wonderful Sangria Blanca recipe that I will share with you today.

Enrique's Sangria Blanca is made with white wine, chopped fruit, some bubbly water, a little Triple Sec to sweeten, and the magic ingredient - passion fruit juice concentrate! The nice thing about sangria is that it can always be made with inexpensive wine, making it a very affordable drink to serve a large crowd.

I love the flavor that passion fruit juice gives
to this Sangria recipe. I found it  on Amazon.
Just a tablespoon or two of passion fruit concentrate
in bubbly water makes a refreshing drink any time.

I have never had such a light and lovely sangria. It's especially enjoyable in the heat of the summer and it's only a little over 100 calories per glass.

Although we are using apples and pears today, you can use other fruits as well. Sliced seedless green grapes goes particularly well in this drink. And if you can't find passion fruit concentrate, you can use peach or mango. 

Apples and pears give a nice crunch to this sangria blanca.
Liquid ingredients.
Do not mix the sparkling water in until you are ready to serve.

This makes a party-sized batch so feel free to cut it in half.

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Sangria Blanca with Apples and Pears
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 23 (5 ounce) servings

2 cups diced and sliced apples
2 cups diced pears
1 cup passion fruit, mango or peach concentrate
2 liters white wine
1/2 cup Triple Sec
1 liter lime-flavored club soda
Ice to fill glasses

Mix the apples, pears, passion fruit concentrate, wine and Triple Sec in a very large glass pitcher or punch bowl. Let sit for as little as 30 minutes or place in the refrigerator and let sit for several hours.

When you are ready to serve, mix in the club soda. If you are not going to use all of the sangria at one sitting, you may not want to mix the club soda into the sangria since it will go flat. You can, instead, top each glass with some. 

To serve, fill a white wine glass with ice. Pour 5 ounces of the sangria blanca in each glass and top with 3 tablespoons of sangria-infused fruit.

Per serving (5 ounces sangria with 3 tablespoons fruit): 108 calories

Thanks for the recipe Enrique!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Don't Throw Away Garden Broccoli Leaves
They Are Delicious And Nutritious!
Here's What You Can Do With Them

The leaves of the broccoli plant are delicious to eat!

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available on Amazon and iTunes.

Who Knew?
When you buy broccoli in the store, it's mostly the crown and stalks with very few leaves. But when you grow broccoli in your garden, the plant is mostly leaves. The first few times I grew broccoli, I thought to myself, "this is a waste of garden space - all those leaves just to make a little broccoli crown!" Maybe I'm a little dense, but I never thought about actually eating the leaves (even though they look EXACTLY like collards!) It wasn't until my daughter-in-law Karina went out to her garden and brought in a bunch of broccoli leaves for dinner that I even considered using them.

Now I feel like the broccoli crown is incidental. After all, you have to wait a long time just to get those one or two crowns from a plant but we feast on the leaves every day. 

So Nutritious Too!
Broccoli leaves are very low in calories and are a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. They also provide omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids in an optimal 3:1 ratio.

2 ounces of raw broccoli leaves are only 16 calories and provide:
180% of the daily value of vitamin A (8,960 IU)
86% of vitamin C (52 mg)
10% of folate (40 mcg)
72 mg omega-3 fatty acid

How to Prepare
You can use broccoli leaves in any recipe that calls for collard greens or kale but they take less time to cook than collards, especially if they are tender and fresh from your garden.

 Of course they are wonderful raw and can be used in any of my raw kale salad recipes such as Raw Kale and Orange Salad with Pumpkin Seeds or Garbanzo Bean and Raw Kale Salad with Lemon-Turmeric Dressing. The key is to thinly slice the broccoli leaves and then marinate and tenderize them in a few teaspoons each of freshly squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, and  a bit of salt.

Use broccoli leaves instead of kale in this
Raw Kale and Orange Salad
Broccoli leaves would be great instead of kale in
Garbanzo and Raw Kale Salad

Or whip them up in any raw soup recipe that calls for greens.

Throw a handful of broccoli leaves in raw soups

I've also been using broccoli leaves instead of kale to make my breakfast quinoa bowl.

Use broccoli leaves instead of kale in
this kale and quinoa bowl recipe.

You can also steam them with a pinch of salt and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice over them.

Steam for 5 minutes or until tender.

Or, sauté them in a little olive oil and fresh minced garlic. 

A fun thing to do to get the kids to eat more greens is to mix long strips of broccoli leaves with spaghetti. Here's what I do:

Remove the stem and lay the leaves over each other.
Roll them up tightly.
Slice the rolled leaves up very thin.
Cook your spaghetti pasta in a large pot of boiling water.
About 2 or 3 minutes before it's done, throw in the sliced leaves.
Rinse and serve with your favorite pasta sauce.

There are so many things you can do with these tasty and nutritious leaves. But whatever you do, don't throw them out!