Monthly Archives: August 2014

True North Health Centers

Good Morning, my Vegi-curious friends! The last few weeks have been hectic . . .  home improvement projects at Mom’s house, Tom & Belinda’s visit and our grandson, Shea’s, baptism. I thought I’d share a link to Chef Ramsey Bravo’s newsletter that contains some healthy and delicious recipes from the True North Health Centers. All of his recipes are “SOS-Free” (Salt, Oil and Sugar-free). Sounds kind of strict, but my challenge to you (and myself) is to be “SOS-Free” for just one day a week. Sign up for his newsletter and while you’re at it, please subscribe to It’s just one day, so I know we can do it. Thanks for being Vegi-curious!

25 Aug 2014

Bhel Puri Chaat (Not Your Mother’s Chex Mix)

Bhel Puri ChaatChex Mix has been around for years. I remember having it at someone’s party when I was a kid and thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The recipes varied, but usually consisted of melted butter, Chex cereal, and pretzels. These days, you don’t even have to lift a finger, except to open up the bag that was lovingly prepared in a factory somewhere not near you. It never really tasted all that great, but the salt content kept you going back to the bowl for another handful. So, you may be wondering what Chex Mix has to do with Indian food. Well, to make a short story long, here goes.

A few months ago, we tried Indian food for the first time. We started our meal with Bhel Puri Chaat. Chaat is a term describing savory snacks, typically served at road-side food carts in India. It had potatoes, onions, crispy rice cereal and a spicy sauce on it. Just imagine a sweet and spicy, savory, crunchy bowl of goodness. It was delicious. Today, we were shopping at an international market that has an Indian food section. I asked someone working in the section if he knew how to make Chaat and he kindly found a customer who told me how to make it. I picked up a bag of Bhel Mix and a jar of Chutney for Bhel Puri. I was now armed with the ingredients and knowledge to make homemade Bhel Puri Chaat. As I was tossing together the puffed rice with the other ingredients, I made the Chex Mix connection: if you can make something as simple as Chex Mix, you can make Bhel Puri Chaat. Here’s the recipe I developed as a result of my conversation with a complete stranger in the aisle of an international food market. It sure was fun how it came to be. I hope you enjoy it as well. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Bhel Puri Chaat

1 potato, microwaved and chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 cup Bhel Mix
1 – 2 tablespoons Chutney for Bhel Puri

Toss all ingredients in bowl and serve immediately.

Note: you can use more Bhel Mix for a crunchier chaat.



16 Aug 2014

Killer Griller Sandwich

Mushroom Pepper SandwichWhen I talk to friends and family about my transition to a plant-based diet I’m likely to get asked, “So, what’s been the hardest thing for you?” Well, the answer to that is somewhat multi-faceted and depends on what stage of the transition I was in at the time. If you would have asked me that question during the first few months, I would have said “dairy” without a doubt. But, I adapted and now enjoy almond milk, soy yogurt, ice cream made with coconut cream, and nut-based “cheeses”. I recall seeing a commercial that would spark a craving for sausage. The funny thing is that sausage was never on my list of favorite foods, but every time I saw that commercial I could almost smell it in the house. Crazy!
I went through a phase when I would say that eating out was the hardest part of a plant-based diet, but this is not such a big deal anymore. In fact, it’s opened up a whole new world, literally, for us. In so many other cultures, the focus of their diet is more on starches and vegetables and less on meat and fish. Thai, Indian, Chinese and Japanese are just a few cuisines that can easily be adapted to a plant-based diet. Some of our favorite dishes include Thai Curry, Thai Fried Rice; Japanese Seaweed Salad and Vegetable Sushi; and Indian Dal and Samosa Chat. Since giving up cheese, I eat more pizza than ever and suffer no remorse! Now I order it loaded with raw or grilled veggies or sautéed mushrooms and onions. And I cannot forgot about Chipotles.
And then there are times when I’ll say that what I miss most are sandwiches, so I’m always looking for new ways to keep two pieces of bread together. One of my favorites is what I call my “Killer Griller” sandwich. It’s just grilled Portobello mushrooms that have been marinated in balsamic vinegar, roasted red peppers and cashew cream cheese. You can make the cashew cream cheese and do your grilling on Sunday and have sandwiches for the rest of the week. The roasted peppers and cream cheese freeze well, so in keeping with my “One Mess, Many Meals” concept, make extras and pop them in the freezer. You can use whatever type of bread you like, vary the type of greens, add some sliced tomatoes . . . you get the idea.
So, in answer to the question I’d have to say that nothing is hard if you really want to make a change in your life. There may be challenges and obstacles, but there are ways through or around them. Once you break through, you may find a whole new world waiting for you. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Killer Griller Sandwiches

Bread of choice (I used a Portugese roll)
roasted red peppers
grilled and marinated portobellos
cashew cream cheese
greens (I used arugula)

Toast bread or roll. Spread a layer of cashew cream cheese on bread, then pile on the roasted peppers and marinated portobellos. Top with greens and anything else your heart desires.

Number of servings depends on how you stuff your sandwiches.


13 Aug 2014

Long Lost Latte

Soy LatteWhen I gave up drinking cow’s milk, I gave up drinking lattes. I used to have at least two lattes a day back then. It wasn’t until recently that I started drinking soy lattes at Starbucks and it wasn’t until today that I started making them at home again. I’ve heard many of the plant-based advocates say that when you start eating healthy foods, your body adapts and actually starts to crave those foods. This is what happened to me, not only with other foods, but also with soy milk. When I first adopted a plant-based diet, I did not like soy milk at all, but I did like almond milk. The problem with almond milk is that it is not “froth-able” enough for lattes. I thought I would never enjoy lattes on a regular basis again. Then, my taste for soy started to change. At first, I tolerated it. Then I started to like it. Now, I really like it, especially in lattes. So, I dusted off my latte-making equipment and got brewing. At one time, we had a very expensive espresso bar, which Bruce repaired several times. We later purchased a less-expensive model, but that one gave out as well. Neither of these espresso bars were great at frothing milk. It seems that the milk gets watered down from the steam used in frothing. Now, I’ll share how to make a luscious latte and save you a lot of money at the same time. Rather than make espresso shots in an expensive machine that takes up valuable counter space, I use an old-school, stove-top espresso pot. For the froth, my mother found this hand-frothing device that makes a thick, creamy froth. The trick with this is to use cold milk, pump it until thick, then microwave for about one minute. The froth comes out thick and creamy. The average cost of a tall latte is $2.75, so it won’t take long to recover the cost of the hand frother and the espresso pot. Bene! Behold, I’ve found my long lost latte. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Soy Latte

  • Soy milk
  • finely ground espresso

Fill bottom of espresso pot to just below the value with cold water. Place basket inside pot, fill with espresso and tamp lightly. ( I use a 1/4 cup measure as my tamper.) Screw on top section of pot and place on stove. Brew until all of the water is transferred from the bottom to the top section.

While espresso is brewing, fill frother with soy milk up to line. Pump until milk is thick and creamy. Remove pump and rubber base before placing in microwave. Heat for about one minute on high power.

Pour espresso into large cup, filling about 1/4 of the way. Pour froth over espresso, filling to top of cup. Enjoy with cinnamon, cocoa powder and sugar if desired.

03 Aug 2014

Farm Stands and a Full Plate

Grilled Veggies and Lattes 001 Grilled Veggies and Lattes 002 Grilled Veggies and Lattes 004 Grilled Veggies and Lattes 005I spent much of my adult life on one diet or another. In fact, most people I know have spent much of their lives on one diet or another. So, it’s only human nature to ask or be asked, “What do you eat?” Since adopting a plant-based diet, I’m asked that question even more frequently. Not being one to think fast, I usually respond by saying that I eat vegetables, legumes, grains, fruits and nuts. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? And sometimes I feel as if the other person feels sorry for me, like I’m missing out on something. And it hit me today as I was doing some food prep for the week ahead — there are so many recipes I’d like to try or develop on my own and I just don’t have enough time for all of them. I never felt this excited about cooking, partly because everything I make is wholesome and healthy. I approach plant-based cooking as another type of cuisine, one that is kinder to animals and our planet. I wish I could invite you into my kitchen so you can see what I’m talking about. For now, I’ll simply give you a glimpse of what goes on.

So yesterday, we got carried away at this Amish farm stand. Plum tomatoes, corn on the cob, baby eggplants, zucchini, peppers, lettuce, peaches, blackberries and canteloupe. I may have forgotten something, but you get the idea. After that, we stopped at Sher-Rockees Mushroom Outlet to pick up just a few portobello mushrooms. Well, since they were having a special, we bought a huge box of portobellos for $5.00. WOW! Who could resist that bargain? When we got home and starting unpacking our bags I thought to myself, “Holy cow! What was I thinking? I have a lot of work ahead of me.” So here’s what I’ve made . . . so far. I started out the day making corn muffins and folding in some fresh corn kernels. Then I made roasted plum tomatoes, which I’ll probably just toss with some pasta during the week. I grilled and marinated the baby eggplants, zucchini and mushrooms and roasted the red peppers. We had this for lunch with some vegan cheeses and Italian bread. The leftover mushrooms and red peppers are slated for sandwiches during the week. Since I soaked some chick peas yesterday, I made Moroccan Chick Pea Stew, which had nothing to do with the farm stand purchases. We’re having corn chowder for dinner tonight so I’ll use up the corn and more peppers, carrots and onions. I still have plenty of portobellos, so I’ll be trying two stuffed mushroom recipes later in the week; one stuffed with quinoa and one with a mushroom/panko stuffing. And I still have chickpeas for Thai Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers. Well, I guess my plate is full. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Tips for grilling vegetables:  Slice small eggplants and zucchini lengthwise, leaving the stem intact. Leave portobellos whole, then slice after grilling. No need to brush with oil. Simply coat grill with non-stick spray. Drizzle grilled vegetables with balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and dried herbs. Grill red peppers until the skin is charred, then place in paper bag and let the steam loosen the skins before peeling away.


03 Aug 2014

Home Fries

Home Fries 001Happy Saturday! I love lazy weekend mornings when I have a lot of time on my hands and nowhere to go. This is my time to make a warm breakfast (and I don’t mean oatmeal). This morning, I made a batch of home fries by microwaving a few potatoes and browning them along with some chopped onions. Enjoy your home fries with some salsa, ketchup, barbeque sauce or hot sauce. These home fries disappear quickly so keep in mind my “one mess, many meals” practice and make extras. It’s a simple, yet tasty way to start your day. It comes together quickly, so you’ll still have time to have some fun. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Home Fries

4 large russet potatoes

1 medium onion, chopped

salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme to taste

Cook potatoes in microwave until partially cooked. Cooking time will vary depending on the wattage of your microwave. I’d start with five minutes and cook for additional time in one-minute increments. When cool enough to handle, cut into chunks.

While the potatoes are cooling, spray non-stick skillet with non-stick spray. Saute onions until lightly browned. Add potatoes and cook until browned. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme.


02 Aug 2014