Category Archives: vegetarian


Mockstroni soup recipe

Mockstroni Soup

What is mockstroni?

I love minestrone soup. But it tends to come with pasta and I find I do better when I avoid eating gluten. This soup was born out of a need to avoid gluten but also not wanting to include gluten-free pasta. While I’m not opposed to gluten-free pasta, I find that it tends to disintegrate pretty easily in soup, especially if there are leftovers. So I created this very satisfying soup that features that classic minestrone combination of herbs, beans, and vegetables. Because it’s not your classical minestrone I decided to change the name and call it mockstroni.

This soup is very hearty and can be served either as a starter to a meal or simply use bigger bowls and it becomes a meal all by itself. Don’t forget that the traditional way to make this soup was to use whatever was in season. So feel free to experiment with whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand. Fresh herbs are always best, but in the wintertime (my favorite time to make this comforting soup) dry herbs are fine.  And if you want to make a vegetarian version, you can simply use vegetable broth instead of the bone broth.

Mockstroni Soup

Mockstroni Soup
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Ingredients
  1. Serves: 6-8
  2. 3 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  3. 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  4. ½ medium yellow onion, chopped small
  5. 3 medium carrots, chopped small
  6. 3 large stalks celery, chopped small
  7. 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  8. 2 cups cooked beans (cannellini and red kidney beans work well)
  9. 4 C bone broth*
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 1 T. fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (or 1 t. dried)
  12. 1 T. fresh thyme leaves (or 1 t. dried)
  13. 1 T. fresh oregano leaves (or 1 t. dried)
  14. ½ T. crushed red pepper flakes
  15. Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  16. 2 c. fresh green beans, cut into ½” pieces
Toppings
  1. 1/4 C. freshly parsley, minced
  2. Shaved parmesan
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and garlic in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat
  2. Sauté garlic, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or just until the garlic starts to turn golden brown
  3. Add chopped onion, carrot, and celery and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are soft and tender
  4. Add diced tomatoes, beans, broth, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes to the pot, stir to combine
  5. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low
  7. Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes.
  8. Remove the cover from the pot and add the green beans
  9. Stir to combine and continue cooking, uncovered, another 20-25 minutes or until green beans are crisp-tender
  10. Add additional broth, if needed, stir to combine
  11. To serve, divide among individual serving bowls and top with chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
  12. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. * If needed use extra broth to reach the desired consistency
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
Powerhouse Summer Smoothie Bowl

Powerhouse Summer Smoothie Bowl

Smoothies are a familiar way to get fruit into your diet. But you can take it one step further by adding veggies and healthy fat. This means you’re not simply getting a dessert disguised as a healthy snack, you’re actually getting several nutrient dense servings of fruit and vegetables.

If you’re familiar with the idea of smoothie bowls, then you know that there are a wide variety of bowl types as well as a never-ending list of ingredients to choose from. Smoothie bowls are a great way for you to get a lot of nutrients in an easy to digest dish. So where do you start?

This article provides a smoothie recipe that you are really going to love. The Powerhouse Summer Smoothie Bowl delivers great nutrition that’s easy to prepare and simply delicious.

Why You Should Try It

The reduced sugar in this smoothie is a definite plus. It’s more than just a fruit and fruit juice sugar bomb.  With the addition of leafy green veggies plus avocado for a healthy fat, you’re getting a more nutrient-dense smoothie. And the toppings are booster foods that add a delicious and nutritious extra.

  • Dark leafy greens are always a good choice. Rich in antioxidants and important nutrients they tend to be high in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and more. Due to their bitter nature, they’re also great for heart health and can help stimulate the liver.
  • The bromelain in pineapple aids the digestive function. A fabulous source of vitamin C and manganese, pineapple is also anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant-rich food. 
  • Avocados are a good source of pantothenic acid and fiber, but they also deliver a nutrient dense punch with vitamin K, copper, and folate. Studies have shown them to be supportive of cardiovascular health as well as helping to balance blood sugar.
  • Known for their phytonutrient dense qualities, blueberries are high in vitamin K, manganese and are a great source of anthocyanins. Research indicates that they are helpful for blood pressure regulation, memory support, and have anti-carcinogenic properties.
  • Using green tea instead of juice not only cuts down on the sugar, but it also bumps the antioxidant qualities of this smoothie. Rich in the amino acid theanine and EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), green tea has been shown to be supportive for brain health, boosting the metabolism, protective of brain function, and it’s anti-carcinogenic.
  • And last but not least are the toppings. The seeds are wonderful sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The cacao is high in both fiber and iron as well as providing antioxidants and magnesium.

So all in all this smoothie is a great choice for real food nutrition. Either as a bowl or a traditional smoothie, it definitely delivers a nutrient-dense punch.

Powehouse Summer Smoothie Bowl
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup organic baby kale or spinach
  2. 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
  3. 3/4 cup green tea
  4. ½ cup pineapple
  5. ½ of an avocado
  6. 1 scoop collagen protein powder
Topping suggestions
  1. ¼ cup granola
  2. 2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds or mixed sprouted seeds
  3. 1 Tbsp. flax seeds
  4. 2 Tbsp. cacao nibs
  5. 1-2 Tbsp. blueberries
  6. 1 Tbsp. goji berries
Instructions
  1. Start by blending the blueberries, green tea and leafy greens
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth
  3. If a thinner consistency is desired (for a smoothie rather than a bowl) add a little more tea
  4. If a thicker consistency is desired then freeze the pineapple before adding to the blender
  5. Pour/scrape into a cup or bowl
  6. Use toppings of choice and garnish the smoothie as desired
  7. Enjoy!
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

More delicious summer recipes

Here are a few more fabulous summertime recipes

 

superfood pumpkin

Three Delicious Pumpkin Recipes For Fall

Pumpkin season is here!

It’s that time of year when the days are getting shorter, the temperatures are dropping, and all those scrumptious, warming, Fall foods are appearing at your grocery store. This includes pumpkin, one of my favorite, most versatile vegetables. Fabulous in soups, baked goods, as a side vegetable, and even as a snack using the seeds. Pumpkins are so tasty that I find it surprising how in the United States we spend nearly $600 million on pumpkins just to carve them up for Halloween and then discard them. They’re so nutritious and delicious that I think we should all be eating more of them.

Superfood benefits of pumpkin

Qualifying as a superfood, pumpkins are a wonderful source of potassium, vitamin A, a good source of vitamin C, and also provide quite a bit of fiber. Health-wise, due in part to their high antioxidant status, studies show pumpkin may be supportive in decreasing the risk of cancer. They’re also believed to help with improving insulin regulation, lowering blood pressure, providing lignans (which can have an antimicrobial benefit), and consuming pumpkin may even be helpful for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

It’s not just the flesh of the pumpkin that’s good for you. The seeds also have health benefits. Helpful for cholesterol metabolism and in addition to being a good source of protein, the seeds also deliver tryptophan, manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and zinc. All of this goes a long way towards making pumpkins and their seeds something you definitely want to add to your nutritional plan.

Pumpkin Recipes

While almost everyone is familiar with pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, and possibly even pumpkin soup, there’s so much more you can do with them.  Here are a few delicious ways to add more pumpkin to your Fall menu and bump up your nutrition.

Pumpkin Hummus

2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15 oz can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
15 ounces pumpkin puree
juice of 2 lemons (about 4 tablespoons)
1/3 cup virgin olive oil
1/2 cup tahini paste
3 cloves garlic finely minced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp sea salt 
2-4 Tbsp chickpea liquid, as needed for consistency

Blend all ingredients except salt and liquid together
If needed, add chickpea liquid 1 Tablespoon at a  time for smoothness and consistency
Once fully blended add salt to taste
Best served at room temperature

Pumpkin Alfredo

1 pound gluten-free tagliatelle (my preferred brand is Jovial)|
2 Tbsp organic butter
2 Tbsp gluten-free flour
3 garlic cloves, minced finely
4 cups organic milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp finely minced rosemary
1 pinch red pepper flakes (to taste)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
shaved parmesan for topping
minced rosemary for topping

Cook, drain, and lightly rinse pasta
Heat butter in a saucepan, add flour and whisk until combined
Add garlic, pepper, rosemary, and milk, reduce heat
Whisk all ingredient together until fully combined
Add pasta to the sauce and combine, coating noodles well
Garnish with extra minced rosemary and shaved parmesan

Superfood Pumpkin Shake
makes 2 servings

1 cup pumpkin puree, cold, not freshly cooked
2 bananas
½ cup plain organic Greek yogurt (full fat if possible)
½ cup unsweetened almond milk (avoid carrageenan)
2 tbsp protein powder
1 tsp honey
1 tsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp bee pollen granules
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups ice

Blend well until fully combined
If needed add extra liquid to fully blend ingredients together

For a few more Fall posts be sure to check these out:

 

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Seasonal eating

If we choose to eat seasonally (and we should) we need to respect the foods that are available during certain seasons.  That means also paying attention to the needs of our body.  In the cooler months of the year, we are looking for comfort food.  Warming, nourishing foods that are deeply satisfying. Not the lighter, crisper salads and cooling foods of summer. That’s because winter is the settling in and deep, rooted nourishing time of year.  It’s perfect for hearty dishes like Shepherd’s Pie.

The versatility of shepherd’s pie

Shepherd’s pie is a great dish because it is so versatile; a “crust”, a vegetable filling and a mashed root vegetable topping.  It makes a delicious meal served with say, a hearty salad, and a simple millet muffin. The crust can be made with ground meat or you can use a legume base, such as lentils. For the topping potatoes tend to be the most common. But sweet potatoes, a carrot and parsnip combination, or even turnips can be a delicious way to top off the pie.

One of my favorite dishes for this time of year is my vegetarian shepherd’s pie using lentils for the crust.  Because only half of my family are vegetarians, I usually make two pies, one with a ground turkey crust and one with a lentil crust.  This means there are plenty of tasty leftovers to keep everyone happy for a couple of days.

About lentils

Lentils, (Lens Esculenta), also known in Indian cuisine as dal, are a legume (as are all dried beans and peas).  While most legumes need to be soaked before cooking, lentils are very quick and easy to prepare. 

They come in different varieties, green, brown, black, yellow, orange, and red, although most of us are familiar with the green kind which is easily available.  Lentils are nutrient-dense powerhouses and their nutrition content includes being very high in fiber, folate, tryptophan, and manganese. Their nutrient-rich profile makes them good for healthy bones, fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, and help stabilize blood sugar among other things.  They are also good sources of protein, iron, and phosphorus, all of which the body needs for bone health.

Cooking with lentils

When cooking lentils it’s important to know that they are often packaged straight from harvest. So they need to be sorted and rinsed before you can cook them. The general ratio for cooking lentils is 1 cup of lentils to three cups of water or nourishing broth.

After cooking it’s best to let them sit for 10 minutes or so to firm up before using in a recipe. Otherwise if you try to use them while they are still warm they tend to get mushy.

If you are using them in a salad, let them cool completely before adding the other ingredients and your dressing.

 

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup lentils
  2. 3 cups water
  3. 1/2 C. chopped onion
  4. 1 T. nutritional yeast
  5. 1 T. dried, Kirkland No Salt seasoning
  6. 1 tsp. sea salt
  7. 2 C. lightly steamed or heated veggies
  8. 1 Tbsp GMO coconut aminos
  9. 2 C. mashed potatoes
  10. paprika
Instructions
  1. Lightly grease pie pan
  2. Preheat Oven to 350F
  3. Bring the water to a boil
  4. Add the lentils and the onion, cook on medium for approximately 30 minutes
  5. Remove the lentils from the heat and let sit 10 minutes
  6. Mash together with nutritional yeast, seasoning, and salt
  7. In a lightly greased pie pan, put in the mixture and shape it into a bottom crust
  8. Fill the crust with veggies
  9. Drizzle with coconut aminos
  10. Top with mashed potatoes
  11. Sprinkle with paprika
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

 

Spicy Millet Muffins
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Ingredients
  1. 2 1/4 C gluten free flour baking blend
  2. 1/3 C millet
  3. 1 t baking powder
  4. 1 t baking soda
  5. 1 Tsp fine sea salt
  6. 1 jalapeno seeded and minced fine
  7. 1 T toasted cumin seeds
  8. 2 T toasted pine nuts
  9. 1 C buttermilk
  10. 1/2 C olive oil
  11. 1/2 honey
  12. 1 egg whisked
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Oil a 12 cup muffin tray and line the bottom of each with cut parchment paper
  3. Mix all dry ingredients with the jalapeno, toasted pine nuts and the cumin seed.
  4. Mix all wet ingredients together then fold into the dry ingredients until incorporated well.
  5. Fill each cup 3/4 full and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
  6. Let cool and remove from tin.
Notes
  1. You may want to do 2 pans as this recipe makes a little more than a dozen muffins. You can fill the empty muffin tins with water or pie-weights to help make the cooking time a little more even.
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
 
Don’t forget to check out these other delicious lentil recipes:

How To Get More Veggies Into Your Diet

Vegetables and whole foods are classic ingredients for a healthy diet. Most of us do not eat nearly enough, leaving us deficient in fiber and important nutrients. Integrating vegetables into daily recipes and menus for a family can be challenging if you’re used to the standard meat-and-potatoes diet. Here’s how to liven up your mealtimes with vegetables and whole foods that everyone will enjoy.

Make Superb Soups

Soup is cheap and very easy to make. When made with bone broth it’s even better because the broth adds vitamins and minerals to the soup. Blending in a variety of vegetables is an ideal way to get more vitamins into your diet. Soups are great for using up old vegetables, and they also freeze well. Mix in a few extra lentils to bulk out the soup, and you have a hearty meal full of goodness on a cold day.

One-Pot Wonders

A one-pot meal is perfect for a supper dish, and adding vegetables is an excellent way of getting more fiber and vitamins in the diet. Try a tasty stew or curry which are simple to put together. Or, go for a Moroccan tagine, which is bursting with flavors and has dried fruits as well as vegetables within the dish. Don’t forget to make double portions so you can freeze the surplus, saving you time in the kitchen.

Make a Colorful Plate

One of the great things about vegetables is the color. Instead of a meat and potato-colored plate of food, go for a variety of colors in the meal. You can even get kids to eat as many different colors as they can. Salads also look great with colorful vegetables, such as red radishes and tomatoes, yellow pepper and orange carrot. Add quinoa as a protein accompaniment, and you have a nutritious meal.

Get Organized with Packed Lunches

Being prepared with packed lunches saves money and avoids snacking on sugary food. Store lunches in the refrigerator overnight and take them to work or school the next day.  Pack the portions into lunch boxes and you have a cheap lunch full of vegetables to enjoy. Alternatively, chop some celery, carrot, and pepper the evening before and use them in a hummus dip for lunchtime. You can add grated carrot or chopped celery to a sandwich and take some vegetable sticks to work as a snack to enjoy on a break. If you take a salad to work, consider making a salad in a jar for a quick and easy delicious lunch that’s got a lot of veggies.

Salad In A Jar
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Ingredients
  1. 1-4 T. dressing (lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil plus herbs is great)
  2. Then firm veggies (carrots, celery, jicama, etc)
  3. Then proteins (tuna, cooked egg, diced leftover chicken, etc)
  4. Then soft veggies (zucchini, avocado, cucumbers, etc)
  5. Then nuts and seeds salad greens (add a lot, stuff them in there)
  6. To serve the salad turn it over back and empty it onto a plate or into a bowl
  7. Dressing will wind up on top, coating your salad.
Instructions
  1. These can be made 3-5 days worth at a time for a quick grab-and-go lunch
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

 

Have a Meat-Free Day

Going at least one day a week without eating meat allows you to be creative with using a variety of vegetables and whole foods. A vegetable curry can be made with carrot, eggplant, and other vegetables but can be bulked out with chickpeas or lentils. Try a stir-fry with corn, mushrooms, and peppers or create a tasty salad with whole grains and a variety of vegetables.

Create Some Juices

Vegetables in juices can taste surprisingly good and are an excellent way to increase your vitamin uptake. They can be mixed with fruits or combined with other vegetables to make a variety of drinks. Try mixing kale or carrots to create a range of colorful juices to enjoy with breakfast. While there is some controversy over the juicing versus smoothies issue I believe there’s room for both. Juicing can add a lot of enzymes and nutrients to the diet, especially beneficial when you’ve been eating away from home or “off plan.” 

Grow Your Own

One of the best ways to get kids and fussy eaters to eat more vegetables is to get them to grown their own. Salads, tomatoes, beans and many other vegetables can be grown in just a few square feet of dirt. Many can even be grown in a pot for container gardening. Adding a few herbs gives you a choice of flavors for salads and cooking. Anything homegrown is sure to look good on a plate and taste even better.

By taking a few simple steps your vegetable intake will increase with very little effort and you’ll enjoy some fabulous flavors.

Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars

My friend Erin recently shared this delicious recipe for a great on-the-go-snack bar. With pumpkins in season, it’s easy enough to make your own puree. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own, the canned stuff works just fine. A couple of words of caution, however, when choosing canned pumpkin:

  • It’s best to use a brand that has a BPA free lining
  • Organic pumpkin is preferred
  • I highly recommend that you read the label and make sure that you are getting only 100% pumpkin. You don’t need all those other ingredients.

These breakfast bars are fabulous for a quick breakfast, perfectly portable if you need to have breakfast on-the-go. And so tasty that they also make a great snack. If you’d like, add a serving of protein powder to make your bars even more nutritious. If you do add the protein powder you may find that you need just a Tablespoon or two of water so the mix isn’t too dry.

Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars

3/4 cup pumpkin purée
2 eggs
1/4 cup organic butter or ghee at room temperature
1 large or 2 small ripe bananas
1/4 cup honey
2 cups rolled oats (not the quick cook variety)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (you can also use walnuts or sunflower seeds)
2 Tbsp shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup oat bran (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
pinch of Celtic sea salt
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup dried blueberries

Measure out the 2 cups of oats and pour just enough warm water over them to cover them
Soak for about 5 minutes while you’re mixing up the wet ingredients
In a mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin, eggs, butter or ghee, honey, and banana
You may want to mash the banana before adding to the bowl if it’s not really soft
Before adding the oats, drain them well

Add the oats, nuts, coconut, oat bran, cinnamon, salt, orange rind, currants, and blueberries, and stir until ingredients are well combined (this step is where you would also add the protein powder, if using)
Spread mixture into a lightly greased (butter, ghee or coconut oil) pan so the batter is no more than an inch or two deep. An 8” x 10” baking dish works well
Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown
For very crisp bars, remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack
Cut the bars when cool
 

Dinner In A Jar

dinner in a jar

I’m not a fan of plastic for food storage.  While there are times that it’s unavoidable, my preference is for glass.  So I save jars.  Lots of them.  They’re great for dry goods, things like beans, grains, and spices.  But they’re also fabulous for efficient leftover storage.  Take the picture above for example.  It’s ratatouille and polenta.  After the meal rather than packaging up the leftovers into one container of ratatouille and one container of polenta I’ve assembled them into meals in the jar.  Perfect for grab-and-go meals on the road or if I’m trying to save time and energy at home.

By assembling my leftovers into meal containers I avoid having to find a container for the ratatouille, find a container for the polenta, take them out when I want to serve them, put a container with less stuff back in the fridge (which takes up more space).  Repeat with consecutive meals until there’s just a smidge left in all the containers, the fridge is jam packed, there’s no room, but there’s not much food either.  This is much more efficient and I love it.

The two jars in the picture demonstrate the different ways of filling your jar.  It’s important to remember that you want to use wide mouth openings, otherwise it’s more difficult to get stuff out.  Putting your base (in this case the polenta) on the bottom and your saucy stuff (the ratatouille) on top makes a perfect on the go meal.  I can heat and eat straight from the container.  Yes, I’m talking reheating in the microwave oven.  Not my preferred method of heating but when I’m out and about I don’t usually have the option of reheating on a stove top.

The other method, with the sauce on the bottom and the base on top is fabulous when you can dump everything out onto a plate.  When you turn it over the base is on the bottom and the sauce is on top.

This meal was so delicious I know I’m going to be making it again soon in the near future.  And because I know you want to make it too, here’s the recipes.

Ratatouille

1 large eggplant
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
2 sweet bell peppers
5 medium to large tomatoes, cored and diced
1/4 cup olive oil plus more if needed
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh basil, minced
sea salt and pepper to taste

Cut the eggplant into 1″ cubes
Sprinkle with salt and let sit 1 hour
Rinse and drain eggplant
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in pan
Add diced onion and saute until starting to soften
Add another 2 tablespoons olive oil and the eggplant
Stir to fully coat eggplant
Turn heat down to medium and add remaining ingredients
Stir frequently for another 10 minutes
Turn heat down to low and simmer 15-20 minutes

I love this ratatouille over polenta, but it’s also great on a baked potato or just by itself.

This polenta recipe is the one from The Pantry Principle, if you’d like you can put fresh mozzarella on top of the polenta after it’s been cooked and then put the hot ratatouille on top.  This will cause the mozzarella to melt into ooey deliciousness and makes the whole meal delightful.

Polenta

So easy to make at home that you’ll wonder why you ever bought it. The homemade version is much more versatile and, by choosing organic cornmeal, can be GMO free polenta.

1 C. cornmeal
1 t. sea salt
3 C. water

Bring water and salt to a boil
Reduce water to a simmer
Very slowly add cornmeal (this is important to avoid lumps)
Cook approximately 20 minutes until mixture thickens
Remove from heat and pour into a pie plate (for triangles) or a cake pan (for squares)
Let polenta set for 10-15 minutes
Cut and serve

Enjoy!

Avocado Carbonara

Veganism is gaining more popularity as a nutritional plan and certainly is getting a lot more attention in the mainstream press. With a large number of celebrities who follow a vegan diet and even a new book, Mark Bittman’s VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good, some people are turning to this way of eating as a way to lose weight.  (Technically I would consider the VB6 philosophy a nutritional plan that is more flexitarian since it does not rely specifically on vegan principles.)

Veganism is a part of the Vegetarianism although it is more restrictive.  Sometimes this choice is due to health reasons, most often it is due to philosophical leanings about how animals are treated.   Veganism is actually more than a diet, and for most followers is a lifestyle.  It excludes any animal products or by-products; including things such as honey, white sugar (which is often processed through bone char), anything with cochineal or carmine in it (this is made from crushed beetles — side note this colorant is frequently found in lipstick), etc.  Most vegans also swear off processed foods, do not wear animal products and avoid products that use animals for testing.

Whether you are an adherent of the vegan lifestyle or not, it does offer many delicious recipes without the use of animal protein.  This recipe is a fabulous way to add the healthy monounsaturated fat found in avocados to create a tasty, creamy sauce.  Full of vegetables and providing some protein from the nuts and mushrooms it can be a satisfying, healthy meal.

Avocado Carbonara

1 medium sized ripe Avocado
1/2 cup of lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic
pinch of salt
1/4 cup of parsley
1/4 cup of basil
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/3 cup raw pepitas
1/2 cup baby portabella mushrooms, cleaned, sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pomegranate arils (optional)
Ground pepper
Pasta (gluten free if needed for dietary reasons)
1 small zucchini, shredded

Cook the pasta
Place zucchini into colander and drain pasta into zucchini
Rinse and set aside
In a separate pan saute mushroom slices in olive oil
When done take off heat and set aside

Place lemon juice, garlic and olive oil in a food processor or blender, blend until smooth
Add avocado, parsley and basil, process until smooth
Gently fold together sauce, pasta and zucchini
Garnish with mushrooms, pepitas, and pomegranate

Serve and enjoy!

Linda Rosario is a food enthusiast from Chef Needs “The Kitchen that Every Chef Needs”. Linda loves crafting, home designing and works as an Architect.. Aside from blogging and cooking, Linda works for 24 hours, seven days a week as a mom of two bright and awesome kids.

photo: Dittaeva

Vegan Shame

I recently read about a new website called Vegan Shame which has been created to publicly castigate vegans who have gone away from this style of eating. I’m stunned at the militant attitude that many people take toward their food and wonder how we’ve come to a point that someone’s nutritional plan has become another form of tribalism; promoting a dogmatic adherence to diet.

A website geared toward creating an attitude of shame around food is, in my opinion, harmful.  People should not feel shame when they eat.  Each of us would do well to learn to eat in a way that fits our needs and promotes health for our bio-individual bodies.  The most important thing to remember is that there is no one-size-fits-all nutritional plan.  It’s just not possible to have one nutritional plan that provides perfect nutrition for every person.

There are many nutritional plans that work for a vast number of people.  There are basic nutritional needs that we all have.  But we cannot all eat the same thing all the time.  Sadly, because they need to sell their book, program, supplements, or meal-plans, many diets out there promote themselves as “the only plan you need.”  Many are good, some are better than others, but none that I have seen thus far are perfect for everyone.

The truth of the matter is that in addition to bio-individual health, our nutritional needs vary throughout our lifetime due to basic biological changes.  If they never changed we would all still be drinking breast milk.   As we age many of us produce less digestive enzymes.  Or certain health issues require us to change our diet to avoid or add foods which will be more supportive to our health.   Again, this leads to no one diet being the penultimate choice for every person throughout their lifespan.  How many times have you “gone on a diet” perhaps the same diet as a family member or friend.  And how often has the other person seemed to have more success than you did.  It may be that the plan you were on was not what your body needed.  But society persists in promoting the myth that one size should fit all.

Food choices are complicated by a number of factors.  Firstly there are cultural food preferences; people in different countries learn to prefer different foods or food combinations.  Then there are the -isms of the food world, omnivorous eaters, vegetarians, vegans, macrobiotic eaters, and more.  This is compounded by the immense variety of “diets”, South Beach, Zone, Atkins, and a huge number more.  Then there are those who have food sensitivities and truly must avoid certain foods.  It creates for a rich and diverse mix of food cultures.

This mix is one that we should welcome.  Of more importance than creating a hardcore, militant attitude toward food, let’s instead learn to eat well for our bodies.  To support ourselves, in health, by loving ourselves, loving our bodies, and making positive choices and associations with food.  Not to shame or disparage those who eat differently than we do.

photo:  Jennifer/SweetOnVeg

 

 

4 Health Benefits Of Eating Eggs

egg

Many of us believe that eggs aren’t good for our health, thanks to their high cholesterol content, plus loads of fat, making them not an ideal choice for the health and figure conscious. The fat-free craze also meant an egg-free diet. This became prevalent in the 90s, when eggs were put to the sideline and instead, chemically-processed substitutes were served. However nothing beats the taste and the health benefits when you serve real, fresh and organic eggs.

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