Sunday, October 15, 2017

Easy Oven-Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are one of the easiest, cheapest, and most satisfying foods to have on hand for quick meals or snacks.

Bake white, gold or red potatoes, as many as will fit on a baking sheet.

9 large potatoes before baking

Scrub the potatoes.

Prick each potato several times with a fork.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet.

Bake at approx. 425f for 60 to 90 minutes. Use a timer.

Allow the potatoes to cool. Store in refrigerator.


Pricking the potatoes before baking ensures that they will not burst and make a mess inside the oven. I usually stick each potato a dozen times with a fork before baking.

Half way through the baking time, turn the potatoes over. If they are beginning to get dark on the bottoms, turn the temperature down 25 degrees. When the time is up, test for doneness by sticking a fork into the side of a potato. The fork should go in easily.

Ovens and potatoes vary so it will take a little experimenting to find the perfect temperature and time to bake your potatoes perfectly without burning them. Small potatoes bake faster than bigger ones.

To bake sweet potatoes, first line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Some syrup oozes out of sweet potatoes while baking and the parchment will make clean-up easier for you.

Baked potatoes only take a minute to reheat in a microwave.

Enjoy potatoes plain or topped with sauces, soups or stews. Cut them up and add to sandwiches, burritos or bowls of vegetables and beans.

baked potato with black-eyed peas

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tomato-Corn-Celery Salad Dressing

Similar to my Corn-Based Thousand Island dressing, this sauce has tomato paste rather than ketchup. Chris likes it as is, but I add about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the Tomato-Corn-Celery dressing on my salad. That makes it taste more like my favorite dressing, walnut vinaigrette. Since we each eat a big salad every day with homemade dressing, it's simpler for me to just make one dressing for both of us. This recipe makes about one quart and lasts 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 of a 6 oz. can tomato paste (freeze the other half can for next time)
4 small dates without pits
1 tomato
1 celery stick
1/4 cup onion
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons pickle relish (optional)

Put all ingredients except pickle relish  in a blender. Blend for a minute or so. Stir in relish if using.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Spaghetti Pie

This hearty pasta dish is easy to put together. Mix the cooked pasta and sauce together. Layer half of the mixture into a 9" x 13" baking dish. Spread on the tofu ricotta followed by the remaining pasta-and-sauce mixture. Top with nutty parmesan "cheese." Bake at 350f covered for 25 minutes, uncover and bake 5 more minutes.

1 lb. spaghetti or linguini pasta - cook according to package  directions

2  jars spaghetti sauce (24 or 32 oz.)
1 to 2 cups chopped onion
1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

In a large skillet, saute' onion and mushrooms for 10 minutes. Add 2 Tablespoons water along with the garlic and cook another minute. Pour in spaghetti sauce and cook 10 minutes or until onions are tender.

Tofu "Ricotta"

2 blocks firm tofu, drained
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced (or 1 T dried flakes)
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Stir ricotta ingredients together in a large bowl.

"Parmesan" Topping
1/2 cup cashews or walnuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

Finely chop in a food processor.

Parmesan topping keeps nicely in a baggie in the freezer. If desired, make extra topping to have on hand for other savory dishes.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Cranberry Coconut Balls

Enjoy this easy no-bake snack made with fruit and nuts.

1 cup dates
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon water

Finely chop all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the "S" blade.

With hands, form into one-inch balls (about 28).

Chop some additional coconut (about 1/4 cup). Coat the balls with coconut.

Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad is a colorful, crunchy and creamy side dish that goes well with just about anything.


6 cups small broccoli florets
3/4 cup grated carrots
3/4 cup craisens or raisens
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup finely chopped onion


1/2 block tofu or 1 can white beans
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon sugar or other sweetener
1 clove garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Blend the dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add a small amount of water to thin the dressing enough to easily coat all of the broccoli. Start with 1/4 cup water, add more if necessary. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Where Do I Get My Protein?

Since protein is commonly associated with animal products and as a vegan I don't eat meat, fish, dairy or eggs, it is perfectly natural to wonder where my protein comes from.

I am happy to report that getting enough high quality protein from plants is surprisingly easy.

We don't need as much protein as we have been led to believe. Everyone's needs are different based on their weight and activity level. The recommended dose for me is under 50 grams of protein per day which is simple to get from a Whole Food Plant Based Diet.

In my What I Eat in a Day post I entered my food into On that day of eating my usual diet I consumed about 88 grams of protein, far more than the recommended requirement. Beans, potatoes, grains, broccoli and zucchini were the biggest contributors of protein.

All of the essential amino acids can be found in plant based foods, and they do not need to be combined in the same meal to make a "complete protein." A popular book from 1971 called Diet for a Small Planet encouraged a strategy of combining plant proteins, a myth that is still going on today. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live "...plant foods have plenty of protein and you do not have to be a nutritional scientist or dietitian to figure out what to eat and you don’t need to mix and match foods to achieve protein completeness. Any combination of natural foods will supply you with adequate protein."

Andrew Taylor ate only potatoes for a whole year. When asked where he got his protein, he said,
"From potatoes! The World Health Organisation recommends we get at least 5% of our total calories from protein. Potatoes contain 6-8% of calories from protein, so as long as I eat enough calories then I'll be getting enough protein...I am fitter and healthier than I've ever been in my adult life."

I keep cooked potatoes and sweet potatoes in my fridge.
They make the most satisfying snacks. 
Most people have probably not heard of kwashiorkor, the name for malnutrition due to a lack of protein. It is extremely rare for someone eating sufficient calories to be deficient in protein. Dr. John McDougall points out that protein deficiency is really food deficiency.

People are more likely to suffer from an excess of protein rather than a lack. Too much animal protein can burden the liver and kidneys, lead to kidney stones, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer and dementia.

Jeff Novick, RD says "To wrongly suggest that people need to eat animal protein for proper nutrition encourages consumption of foods known to contribute to the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, many forms of cancer, and other common health problems."

Garth Davis, author of Proteinaholic said, "I reviewed thousands of original studies, and hundreds of meta analyses and reviews. And all of my research kept pointing to the same conclusion: Consuming animal protein is linked to chronic disorders and premature death. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes is associated with staying healthy."

The American Dietetic Association states that a vegan diet is healthful for people of all stages of life including athletes. Ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll, says his athletic accomplishments are because of shifting to a plant based diet. Protein powders are unnecessary and could raise IGF-1 levels which are linked to cancer and other diseases. For athletes and everyone else, whole plant foods are best.

Meat, dairy, eggs and fish are not healthy choices for protein because they also have cholesterol. Our bodies make enough cholesterol, we don't need to eat any. Consuming too much cholesterol can lead to heart disease and stroke. And, animal protein lacks fiber. Fiber reduces heart attack and cancer risk, it feeds "friendly" gut bacteria and helps to remove toxins and waste from the body. Plants are the best source of protein because they have plenty of fiber and zero cholesterol.    

I'm glad I switched to a Whole Food Plant Based Diet and I wish I had done it sooner. Since changing my diet, I lost 50 pounds, my health improved and I feel stronger than ever. I've grown to love preparing and eating vegetables. Food and medical costs are lower. Plant-based fare minimizes harm to animals and to our planet.

The meat and dairy industries suggest that we need more protein than we actually do. Research shows that consuming too much animal protein is hazardous to health. Rather than being a health risk, a whole food plant based diet can prevent or reverse diseases. I get my protein from all the delicious plants I eat: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Why I Don't Eat Oil

I stopped eating vegetable oil in 2013 after watching the documentary Forks Over Knives which recommends a Whole Food Plant Based Diet. All oils are highly processed substances, not whole food.

Out of all foods, refined oil is the most calorically dense at 120 calories per tablespoon. All the fiber, vitamins and minerals have been stripped away. Being high in calories and low in nutritive value, oil fits the definition of junk food.

Not only is it low in nutrients, but oil can be hazardous to health! That goes for all oils including olive oil and coconut oil even though they are often touted as healthy.

Olives are healthy, concentrated olive oil is not.

Because the Mediterranean Diet, known for being heart-healthy, includes olive oil, many people think olive oil lowers heart attack risk. However, it's not because of the oil but in spite of the oil that people do better on the Mediterranean Diet than the Standard American Diet. Rather than olive oil, it is more likely the abundant fruits, vegetables and beans in the diet that are protective.

Refined oils can lead to heart disease by damaging the endothelium. Endothelial cells line the insides of our blood vessels and produce nitric oxide which makes blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow. Nitric oxide also prevents blood cells from sticking together, forming plaque and adhering to the vessel walls. The plaque may rupture and cause heart attack or stroke. Whole fruits and vegetables are protective to blood vessels by enhancing rather than injuring nitric oxide production.

Besides the danger of cardiovascular disease, oil consumption increases cancer risk. Carcinogens are formed when cooking foods in oil. Eating oil that has gone rancid exposes the body to cancer causing free radicals. Vegetable oils can depress immune function and weaken the body's ability to fight off cancer and infections. According to Dr. Gerson, with the exception of flax seed oil, all oils make tumors grow.
We do need some fat in our diet. But it is not necessary to get fat from animal sources or refined vegetable oils. All plants, even lettuces, have some fat along with fiber, vitamins and minerals.

 whole food sources of fat: avocados, coconut, walnuts, olives
Most cooking oils don't have much flavor but do have a certain mouthfeel which can be replaced with small amounts of high-fat whole plant foods such avocados, coconuts, nuts, seeds and olives.

Kicking the oil habit was not hard for me even though I was addicted to processed foods. I doubt that I have more will power than the average person. It seems that in just a few weeks we can reset our taste buds to favor healthier food by consistently eating right. Perhaps that's one of the reasons the Whole Food Plant Based Diet is a sustainable way of eating for many people. When our palates actually prefer the natural flavors of simple healthy food, we're more likely to make better choices.

The fascinating book, The Pleasure Trap, by Drs. Lisle and Goldhamer discusses the psychology behind our dietary choices and how to break free from destructive habits.

Cooking without oil is easy. To saute: use a small amount of water or vegetable broth instead of oil. In salad dressings: blended nuts, seeds or beans can be substituted for the oil. For baking: use applesauce, bananas or beans for the oil. Instead of cooking spray: parchment paper or nonstick pans usually work well. As a bonus, cooking without oil makes the kitchen so much easier to clean up. Pots, pans and dishes are a breeze to wash.

Some of my favorite sources for oil-free plant based recipes: and

Whole Food Plant Based - no oil

I enjoy preparing and eating tasty nutritious meals without oil. Since I've been on the Whole Food Plant Based Diet, my body has been healing itself from various chronic illnesses. I am thrilled to be experiencing vibrant health and to have the strength and energy to do everything I want to do.

As I see it, refined oil is an unnatural and potentially harmful substance that can suppress the immune system, lead to heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. There's no special nutritional benefit from oil, just a lot of calories and health risks that I don't need. By opting out of oil, I've trained my taste buds to prefer the natural flavors of whole foods. Oil-free nourishment from plants helps me reach my health and fitness goals.

Related post: What I Eat in a Day as a Vegan

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