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Baked Eggplant Chickpea Skillet

I was craving veggies, but also comfort food… so I made this baked eggplant chickpea skillet for dinner. It’s like a cross between eggplant parm and a Moroccan chickpea stew and it hits all the right spots!
baked eggplant chickpea skillet

I’m not sure why, but every time I see a food described as a “skillet” I think it must be awesome. I’m a sucker for any type of breakfast skillet on any menu anywhere. So, when I have the chance to actually describe one of my dishes as a skillet, you can be sure I’m going to go for it. So, here’s my baked eggplant chickpea skillet.

People always ask me: “What are you?” in terms of my diet. I’m not sure what to answer anymore except that “I’m whatever is good for me at the time.” Last week I was on a meat kick and I made a huge meatloaf and a chicken curry dish and the biggest piece of salmon you’ve ever seen. The best part was that this big protein-fest made for the best leftovers ever. But now, I still have some left in the fridge, and I really can’t even look at it anymore. I mean, there’s only so many times I can eat the same thing no matter how many creative ways I re-invent it. And some of the ingredients I used aren’t dog friendly… ugh. Note to self: scale down on the number of servings!

Last night was my niece’s engagement party. It was soooo nice. A few of us wanted to eat a light dinner beforehand so we wouldn’t pig out on all of the enticing appetizers. I opened the fridge, looked in, saw all of the same food, and I just couldn’t do it. I so wished I had already made this baked eggplant chickpea skillet so that we could sit there with a bunch of forks and dig into that skillet! (By the way, the Poke bowls we ended up ordering in were so good!)

This week I’m feelin’ the veggies and I want to cook some vegan dishes, and even though I wished this food had been ready to eat last night, I’m happy it’s here today! This dish is healthy, clean, and comforting all at the same time. The first time I made this dish it was because I had seen a recipe for an eggplant and chickpea casserole from The New York Times and I just had to make a version of it.

Did you know that in Chinese medicine we use chickpeas to elevate the mood? Haha, I know that’s a pretty random thought here, but I just think it’s so awesome… And, this dish did make me happy…

It’s not quite prime farmers market season yet here in New York, so when I shopped for this dish I went to Whole Foods. They had more different types of eggplant than I’ve ever seen in one place. And they were so pretty. It took me awhile to choose which ones I wanted but I ended up choosing some long thin, light purple Japanese eggplants because there are no bitter seeds and the skin is really thin and not too noticeable. If you have a picky eggplant eater, I highly recommend this variety.

But… ooh, the white and neon purple striped eggplants… oh my! They are just so pretty. I’ll have to try those next time…

If you are a skillet freak like I am, you should also try my recipe for Vegan Skillet Zucchini Parmesan.

baked eggplant chickpea skilletbaked eggplant chickpea skillet

Here are some of the awesome things this baked eggplant chickpea skillet can do for you:

In eastern medicine, eggplant is added to the diet when there is pain in the body because it’s great for relieving pain and reducing swelling. It’s especially good to eat eggplant when you are experiencing some nasty digestive issues. It relieves stomach pain, helps with dysentery, diarrhea, and painful urinary conditions. Eggplant has also been used topically to treat frostbite and canker sores… talk about a multi-tasking vegetable…

In Chinese medicine, we use tomatoes to aid in digestion and to help detoxify the body. They are also good to combat excess cholesterol, lessen inflammation and curb asthma. Tomatoes can also quench thirst, and they can help fight some kidney infections.

Chickpeas actually help calm the spirit. They relieve anxiety and soothe irritability… it kind of makes you realize why hummus is so popular…

Garlic is amazing in its antiviral and antibacterial capabilities. Garlic is actually a Chinese herb (Da Suan). It’s used to kill toxins and parasites and also to reduce swelling in the body. It’s what I call a great “A” herb: anesthetic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antioxidant, antiviral, etc….

Onions are great for your immune system; they are a natural antihistamine. In the winter, I eat lots and lots of onions… I guess I should feel sorry for the people close to me! Recently, I recommended that a patient with bronchitis put sliced raw onions in her socks when she went to sleep… she woke up so much better; they actually can rid the body of bacteria. (I know I’ve told you this before, but it really is awesome!) Onion is a superhero in the food world!

Basil has anti-viral and anti-bacterial capabilities. It also is good for settling your stomach, and it’s good at lessening the symptoms of the common cold and its accompanying cough. Basil is a spiritual herb — the scent actually calms you; you can boil some in a pot and let the aroma fill the air, you can just leave some around the house, you can toss a bunch in your bath water (I love to do this), or you can use an essential oil with basil to get some great calming effects.

baked eggplant chickpea skilletbaked eggplant chickpea skillet

Baked Eggplant Chickpea Skillet
Author: 
Recipe type: stew, skillet, vegan, Moroccan, paleo
Cuisine: recipe adapted from: The New York Times
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This dish is warming, comforting, healing, and it's vegan. The sauce is slightly Moroccan in flavor and it compliments the eggplant so well. And it comes in a skillet!
Ingredients
  • 3 medium, thin, Japanese eggplant, sliced in half vertically, then sliced horizontally into ¼- to ½- inch thick half moons
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the eggplant
  • For sauce:
  • 1 medium onion, cut in ½, then sliced thin
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste (I love this one -- it comes in a jar!)
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar (here's an organic one)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (here's a good brand)
  • additional basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  3. Brush the foil with some oil.
  4. Lay the eggplant out on the oiled foil. Brush the eggplant with more oil. Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15 mins.
  6. Remove the tray from the oven, fold up the foil around the eggplant, crimping all sides so that the eggplant is completely enclosed, and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
  7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  8. Meanwhile, make the sauce:
  9. Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. (If you don't have an ovenproof skillet, use a regular one and then before you put it in the oven, transfer everything to a baking dish.)
  10. Add the onion to the skillet, and saute until it begins to soften, about 3 mins.
  11. Add the crushed garlic, and saute, stirring, 30 seconds.
  12. Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  13. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Add all the remaining sauce ingredients, except the chickpeas, stir to combine, and simmer, uncovered, 15 mins.
  15. Stir in the chickpeas and the eggplant.
  16. Place the skillet in the oven and cook, uncovered, for 50 mins.
  17. Remove the wilted basil leaves, if you want (I actually like to eat them) and replace them with fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional).

baked eggplant chickpea skillet

Birthday Cake Chia Pudding

birthday cake chia pudding

Do you have any descriptive food words that make your mouth water? For me, if I see the words “birthday cake” or “cake batter” I have kind of a drooling, mouth watering response. I don’t know what it is about those words, but for me, when I see them, I have to have whatever it is immediately. So, when I started seeing recipes for chia puddings that were described this way, I was all in. I have to give a big thank you to Macy at Paleo Crumbs because her awesome recipe was the one that made me run to the store to buy the ingredients and make this birthday cake chia pudding.

I don’t know what mornings are like in your house, but here in my house we are kind of laid back. It wasn’t always that way. We used to run around, grab whatever we could to eat, shower, dress, and leave as quickly as possible to begin our day. It was that way for many years. Then we moved to the city. And this part of our lives magically slowed down. Now, we are able to get up, go to the park with the dogs, have an actual real conversation, and spend time together before anyone has to leave. So, oftentimes I will cook a big breakfast for us. This birthday cake chia pudding, is so good, that it can even compete with a great avocado toast or delicious eggy type breakfast, but there’s absolutely no cooking involved. The only labor here comes when you have to shake the jar!

I’ve always been a fan of chia pudding. I like that rice pudding-like texture. I love that I can customize it with whatever flavor I’m feeling at that particular moment. I also love that it is so easy to make and that it can be made way in advance. Yes, chia pudding is an awesome invention.

Now, if I’m being totally honest, I’ll tell you that I love chia pudding, but my family is not quite as enamored with these yummy jars as I am. BUT, this birthday cake chia pudding has changed all that. As soon as I stuck a spoonful in Steve’s mouth, he was a convert. It’s really that good. And, it really is reminiscent of vanilla birthday cake. Especially if you top it with sprinkles…

If you want to try another great simple creation, try my recipe for Turmeric Chia Pudding.

birthday cake chia puddingbirthday cake chia pudding

Here are some of the healing ingredients in this recipe for birthday cake chia pudding:

Chia seeds are ancient seeds that got their name from the Mayan word for “strength”. These tiny seeds have the unique ability to turn liquid into a gel-like substance when making puddings and they are great added to smoothies and shakes. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids,and fiber. And, because they are so high in antioxidants, they help keep your skin looking younger. They help optimize both your digestive system and your cardiovascular system.

In Asian medicine, we use coconut to strengthen the body, reduce swelling, and stop bleeding. Coconut kills viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It’s good for all types of infections and viruses in the body, including the flu, bronchitis, tapeworms, urinary tract infections, and herpes. And perhaps most importantly, it helps you keep your mind sharp and it makes it easier for you to focus. I like to use full-fat canned coconut milk for this chia pudding.

Pure maple syrup contains antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body (think inflammatory bowel syndrome or heart disease). It also contains zinc, calcium, and magnesium. It’s much lower on the glycemic scale than traditional sugar. Whenever possible, use a darker (grade B) syrup because the nutritional composition is better than that of lighter syrups.

Maca Root is one of the superfoods I take every day. It has many healthy benefits including increasing libido, helping menopausal symptoms, relieving menstrual cramps, regulating hormones, and increasing energy.

Baobab is a superfood that is a powder made from an African fruit. This amazing superfood has tons of vitamin C to boost your immune system and it’s great for energy. Sometimes I put some in my water bottle to keep my hydrated throughout the day. It’s easy to put a scoop in anything for a pick-me-up.

birthday cake chia pudding

Birthday Cake Chia Pudding
Author: 
Recipe type: breakfast, simple, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, make ahead, chia pudding
Cuisine: recipe inspired by: Paleo Crumbs
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Happy birthday to you! This quick, easy, healing, make-ahead breakfast will make you smile from ear to ear!
Ingredients
  • 1 13.5 oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 4-1/2 Tbs chia seeds
  • 1/1/2 tsp maca root powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp baobab powder (optional)
  • Fruit-sweetened sprinkles (for topping)
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in a mason jar.
  2. Cover.
  3. Shake it up really well (really... dance around with it and work up a good sweat)
  4. Put it in the fridge overnight.
  5. Scoop into individual bowls in the morning.
  6. Top with sprinkles and enjoy.

birthday cake chia pudding

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

peanut butter banana oatmeal

Last week here in New York we were freezing our tootsies off. It was so cold outside! And, unfortunately, it was really cold inside our apartment as well. If you’ve ever lived in an old pre-war apartment, you know the “Three Little Bears” type of frustration with the heat.  It’s often too hot or too cold. I have to say, too cold is most often easier to deal with than too hot… but last week we had to break out every blanket we had to stay warm. So, I did something to make me feel nice and toasty — from the inside-out — I made a big batch of peanut butter banana oatmeal. You just can’t hate the cold while you are eating this…

You can make this oatmeal with quinoa or with a grain-free blend if you prefer. On this cold, snowy, day, I went for the real thing and it was soooooooo good. Oftentimes, if I’m making a flavored type of oatmeal, I will make it the night before in my slow cooker. Honestly, I haven’t cooked a pot of oatmeal on the stove in a really long time, but this was so easy and so delicious, I won’t wait very long to make it again.

I used what I had in my fridge and pantry, but this is so easily customizable that I want you to just have fun with it. Go into your fridge and your pantry and remove everything that might taste good on a hot bowl of oats. Go ahead… I’m waiting…
Now, pick several of these things that you think will compliment each other. Now, grab some honey or maple syrup. Now, you are ready to cook your oats.

The recipe below shows you what I used and, I will tell you, it was truly awesome. Yup, this combo is a keeper!

For another great warming breakfast try my recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes!

peanut butter banana oatmealpeanut butter banana oatmeal

Here are some of the awesome healing ingredients in this peanut butter banana oatmeal:

Oats are great for the digestive system — they make you feel better if you are feeling bloated or have indigestion. This ancient grain can also help reduce some types of swelling in the body and, a little known tidbit: they can be eaten to help stop lactation.

Bananas are good for your intestines (an old Asian remedy was to eat a banana every day to relieve hemorrhoids) and your lungs, and they even help relieve the effects of overindulging in alcohol.

Walnuts are actually a Chinese herb (He Tao Ren). They are used for some knee and back pain, some chronic coughs and for chronic constipation. These nuts are also good for infertility and sexual dysfunctions, and they have been used to help people with kidney stones.

Peanuts, contrary to what some believe, are actually good for many things in your body. I don’t often let myself eat them because they sometimes contain mold and it’s really hard to find reasonably priced organic healthy peanuts. But, these popular nuts are great for lessening edema; they act like a diuretic. They can also help you if you have insomnia or if you are breast feeding. An old-time remedy is to made peanut tea and drink it for bed to promote sleep. And, peanut shells used to be used to help with high blood pressure. Try to buy organic peanut butter if you can — sometimes the ground these nuts grow in isn’t filled with the stuff you’d want to ingest.

Honey is a Chinese herb (Feng Mi). It’s used to boost energy, quiet coughs, and lessen constipation. It can even help with ulcers.

peanut butter banana oatmeal

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal
Author: 
Recipe type: oatmeal, hot cereal, breakfast
Cuisine: grains, gluten free, dairy free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
On the next cold day, make a bowl of this simple, healing oatmeal -- it will make you smile as it warms you from the inside - out!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water
  • One banana, sliced
  • 1 tsp butter
  • ¼ cup raw honey, melted, or pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup organic peanut butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Cook the steel cut oats in the water until they are done (follow the package directions); mine took 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the butter on low heat in a small saute pan.
  3. Add the sliced banana, and stir until the banana starts to melt.
  4. Scoop the oatmeal into 2 bowls.
  5. Top with the melted bananas, melted peanut butter, honey or syrup, and the walnuts.
  6. Smile and enjoy!

peanut butter banana oatmeal

Pumpkin Turmeric Latte

pumpkin turmeric latte

I have never been a “winter” person. I just hate the cold. But, over the years as I have learned to practice gratitude on a daily basis, I have found many things I love about winter. Don’t get me wrong — I still prefer a beach to a snowy mountain, but there are so many reasons to truly be happy about winter. And one of those things is a steaming cuppa… And this cuppa pumpkin turmeric latte is really something to make you smile, no matter how frigid the temp outside may be. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr….

Other than steaming favorful lattes, some of the things I now truly feel grateful for about winter are:

* Watching huge snowflakes fall from the sky (okay, so a lot of the time, I’m inside watching them, but still grateful)
* Christmas music (all the way from Thanksgiving to New Years)
* Fuzzy boots
* Big cozy sweaters
* Delicious bowls of hot steaming soup
* The smell of chestnuts roasting in the street vendors’ carts (yup, it’s just like the song says)
* My dogs’ total happiness in the snow
* Christmas movies

During the winter, I experiment with latte recipes all of the time. I mean, it’s like I’ve become possessed or something. And, I have never steamed my milk! I heat up my ingredients in a pot and these blitz it in the blender and pour it into my favorite mug. And ta-da we have an awesome latte.

Turmeric lattes are all the rage right now. There’s a little cafe around the corner from me that has them on the menu. But… blechhhhhh… they are gross. And I have no idea why. I mean, if you are putting in the right ingredients, it’s not hard to make it come out right. Anyway, these are the right ingredients, so go ahead whip this up!

And, after you drink this awesome pumpkin turmeric latte, if you want to try another warming winter recipe, try my Hot Chocolate Smoothie Bowl!

pumpkin turmeric latte

Here are some of the healing ingredients in this pumpkin turmeric latte:

Pumpkin can help reduce pain and fever and can soothe stomach irritations. It’s a great food to treat constipation, allergies and asthma. It’s high in vitamin A and can help protect your lungs and intestines from cancer.

Turmeric is actually a Chinese herb (Jiang Huang). It is great for reducing inflammation throughout the body. If you suffer from aches and pains in your joints, try turmeric. It can help relieve menstrual pain and some other abdominal pains but, if you are pregnant, ask your doctor before you eat too much turmeric.

Black pepper is also a Chinese herb (Hu Jiao). It’s used to control vomiting and diarrhea and is good for some stomach pains. This common herb also can help the body more easily absorb nutrients, and it is sometimes prescribed to lessen the symptoms of respiratory ailments. Be sure to use black pepper whenever you use turmeric, because it increases the body’s ability to absorb the turmeric.

Collagen strengthens bones and muscles, keeps your joints healthy, improves flexibility and concentration, and helps heal your digestive system. It also keeps you looking youthful.

Dates are rich in potassium, dietary fiber and tannins. Fiber is good for your gut and tannins help the body fight inflammation and infection. Dates are also rich in vitamin A and iron. The most amazing thing about dates is that they can be used to replace sugar in almost anything. I stopped using sweetened protein powders in my smoothies and now I use unsweetened ones but I add a few dates.

Cinnamon is one of the best herbs to warm the body. It’s great if you have a cold. If you are nauseous or have diarrhea, go for the cinnamon. It also gives you energy and helps with menstrual pain. Cinnamon is a Chinese herb: “gui zhi” is the cinnamon twig and “rou gui” is the cinnamon bark. Both are warming and are used for a variety of ailments. In the winter I add cinnamon to all sorts of foods. It helps with the common cold, swelling, various menstrual issues and some aches and pains. Be careful with it if you have a fever because it is so warming.

In Asian medicine, we use coconut to strengthen the body, reduce swelling, and stop bleeding. Coconut kills viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It’s good for all types of infections and viruses in the body, including the flu, bronchitis, tapeworms, urinary tract infections, and herpes. And perhaps most importantly, it helps you keep your mind sharp and it makes it easier for you to focus. I like to use full-fat canned coconut milk for these lattes.

pumpkin turmeric latte

Pumpkin Turmeric Latte
Author: 
Recipe type: beverage, latte, hot drink
Cuisine: paleo, whole30, breakfast, snack, dairy-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
 
This is the perfect cup of steaming deliciousness. It's so healing and no steamed milk is required. I make mine with dairy-free milk.
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the coconut milk and the water in a small pot.
  2. Pour the hot milk into your blender and add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Whiz it up good.
  4. Enjoy!

pumpkin turmeric latte

Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Apple Salad

shaved brussels sprouts & apple salad

Shaved Brussels sprouts are awesome. I’ve been using them for everything. My true favorite thing to make with them is Caesar salad. Yes, it sounds weird, but don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. I like to mix these shaved sprouts with kale or Romaine lettuce, slather them in my fav Caesar dressing and I’m a happy camper. This recipe for shaved Brussels sprouts & apple salad is a kicked-up version of my traditional Caesar recipe. I say kicked up because it also has apples and bacon in it. Really, what could be bad?

Obviously this recipe is not vegan, because…. well… umm… I’ve used bacon in it. But, I can honestly tell you that I’ve eaten this so many times, in so many ways, and there is so bad version. You can leave out the bacon or use a vegan bacon or a smoky mushroom to easily veganize this salad.

Oh, and I use my favorite Caesar dressing recipe — which just happens to be vegan — so really you can go full out vegan pretty easily if that’s your thing. My thing changes so often and obviously I’m a mess of contradictions because this version of shaved Brussels sprouts & apple salad with the bacon with my vegan cashew Caesar dressing is my favorite way to eat it so far!

I’m kind of a freak about leftover salad. I love almost anything straight out of the fridge as a leftover. Except salad. I just hate it when it goes all wet and limp. Enter this salad… it’s even better leftover the next day. The Brussels sprouts stand up so well to the creamy dressing that there is no grossness involved. This makes it perfect to make for a crowd because you can make it way in advance. This is just awesomely easy and convenient.

I served this salad as a main course with sliced chicken on the top and it was fabulous. I also ate it as-is alongside a roasted sweet potato for an awesome dinner. Versatility. Ya gotta love it!

And, if you’re looking for another great salad recipe that makes for good leftovers, try my Chopped Broccoli Salad.

shaved brussels sprouts & apple saladshaved brussels sprouts & apple salad

Here are some of the great healing benefits of this Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Apple Salad:

Brussels sprouts are from the same cruciferous vegetable family as cabbage, broccoli and kale. They are rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They are touted for their aid in weight loss because they have so much fiber and so few calories. Research has shown that these sprouts contain colon-cancer fighting substances and vitamins to protect against Alzheimer’s. Traditionally, they are known as more of a winter vegetable, but many markets now carry them year-round, which makes me happy because I like to eat them year-round!

It really is true that an apple a day is a good thing. Apples help to strengthen your heart. They are also good for your digestion and they can help eliminate mucus when you have a cold. Apples have a high antioxidant content, especially Granny Smiths and Red Delicious. This, combined with the fact that they have a lot of healthy fiber, is why apples are good at fighting Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and some cancers. They have also been shown to help ward off diabetes, high cholesterol and gallstones.

Research shows that pumpkin seeds may reduce blood sugar and increase bone density. And, because they are rich in iron, they are good if you are tired or have anemia. In Asian medicine, pumpkin seeds are sometimes used to get rid of intestinal parasites and to decrease inflammation in the body.

Cashews are really a multi-tasking nut. I use them all the time so I say it all the time: Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts. Most of the fat in cashews is unsaturated and is made up of oleic acid; this is the same acid that is found in olive oil, making these nuts a heart-healty choice. The cashews give this dressing a velvety, creamy texture.

Capers, although small in size, are a big source of anti-oxidants, and they actually can make you feel better emotionally because they activate the “happiness” center of your brain.

Garlic is amazing in its antiviral and antibacterial capabilities. Garlic is actually a Chinese herb (Da Suan). It’s used to kill toxins and parasites and also to reduce swelling in the body. It’s what I call a great “A” herb: anesthetic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antioxidant, antiviral, etc….

shaved brussels sprouts & apple salad

Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Apple Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: salad, side dish, vegetables
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This is a creamy Caesar salad that's made with hearty shaved Brussels sprouts and apples... oh there's optional bacon in it too! This is one salad that is even better the next day!
Ingredients
  • 12 oz shaved Brussels sprouts (you can buy these store-bought at many markets, or shave your own by slicing them really thin)
  • ⅓ cup chopped, cooked bacon
  • ⅓ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, sliced (discard the core)
  • One batch of my Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Add as much dressing as you like, and toss well.
  3. Enjoy!

shaved brussels sprouts & apple salad

Zoodles With Creamy Avocado Pesto

zoodles with creamy avocado pesto

Pasta is my favorite food in the world. Give me a big bowl of spaghetti, and just leave me alone. But, I feel so much better when I don’t eat grains. Ugh.  Now there are some awesome grain-free faux pastas available today I am sooooooo happy. BUT, when people tell me that zucchini noodles/zoodles or spaghetti squash noodles or any vegetable that’s been turned into noodles will satisfy my pasta craving, I think they are crazy. That being said, these zoodles with creamy avocado pesto are really awesome…

I know, now I’ve kind of talked you out of making them. I really stink at marketing sometimes. But, I am honest — sometimes to a fault. Really, what I should have done is compared these to other vegetable recipes, not to my beloved pastas. Because — and this is so true — this is one of the best vegetable recipes around. And, for all of you out there who do feel that zoodles can take the place of traditional spaghetti, you are going to flip over this recipe.

These zucchini noodles are delicious! Really, I’m not just trying to redeem myself after my ranting above. It’s my opinion that when you make a dish that’s zucchini in spaghetti form, it needs a really creamy, flavorful sauce. You are not going to catch me serving zoodles with a light garlic and oil sauce (even though I know tons of people who love that). Nope, I want the most decadent sauce I can find. And this creamy avocado pesto sauce is just that.

The avocado here makes the pesto so creamy. And it’s so easy to make. And it’s a really pretty green. And it’s really healthy… Ok, have I talked you into it yet?

I made this last week when I was in the mood for creamy pasta but I didn’t want to deal with the guilt that would go along with that when I didn’t feel well afterwards. And, truly, I was happy. I like to leave the zucchini a little crunchy and I used my favorite store-bought pesto… so quick and so easy!

If you are a zucchini noodles fan, you should also try my recipe for Szechuan Zoodles.

zoodles with creamy avocado pesto

There are only a few ingredients in these awesome zoodles with creamy avocado pesto, but they are healing ones:

Zucchini cools your body off and makes you feel better when you are feeling hot. It helps your body release excess heat and it will make your mind feel more calm.

Basil has anti-viral and anti-bacterial capabilities. It also is good for settling your stomach, and it’s good at lessening the symptoms of the common cold and its accompanying cough. Basil is a spiritual herb — the scent actually calms you; you can boil some in a pot and let the aroma fill the air, you can just leave some around the house, you can toss a bunch in your bath water (I love to do this), or you can use an essential oil with basil to get some great calming effects. I used a store-bought basil pesto for this recipe, but feel free to experiment with your favorite pesto!

Avocados are one of my favorite foods, both for their health benefits and because they taste great. In Chinese medicine, some practitioners recommend avocados to raise the sperm count. I like them because they are good for anemia, dry skin, palpitations, constipation, and hot flashes due to menopause.

It is true that spinach contains iron, but it’s this vegetable’s lesser-known qualities that really hold my admiration. Spinach contains a substance that helps eliminate prostate cancer. It’s also great for your bones and also for memory loss. Diabetic patients may find that eating spinach helps combat excessive thirst and can even be good for night blindness. Spinach can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium, so calcium-rich foods should be avoided when eating this leafy green.

zoodles with creamy avocado pesto

Zoodles With Creamy Avocado Pesto
Author: 
Recipe type: zucchini noodles, faux pasta, simple
Cuisine: vegan, vegetarian, paleo, whole30
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Zucchini spaghetti is smothered in a flavorful pesto sauce made creamy by adding avocado! This is so easy and so healthy!
Ingredients
  • 1 large clamshell package of zucchini noodles/zoodles (or spiralize about 3 medium/large zucchini)
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • ½ of an avocado
  • 6 oz. basil pesto (or substitute your favorite pesto)
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan.
  2. Add the zucchini and stir until it's how you like it -- I like mine a bit crunchy, so it only takes a few minutes.
  3. In a blender, combine the spinach, avocado, and pesto.
  4. Whiz it up until really creamy.
  5. Put the zoodles in a large bowl.
  6. Add as much of the sauce as you like. Toss well.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Slurp it up and enjoy!

zoodles with creamy avocado pesto

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

vegan spinach artichoke dip

Spinach artichoke dip is one of those weird things that almost everybody seems to love. I say weird, because even people who don’t love veggies or think they hate artichokes or spinach, seem to dive into a bowl of spinach artichoke dip whenever it’s around. This vegan spinach artichoke dip is no exception. I had people diving into this dip the second it was plopped down on my coffee table.

My kids used to order this dip (the cheesy original version) every time we went to a restaurant that had it. It always came out steaming hot and creamy and it smelled so good! It’s one of those things that I could never eat because of all the dairy. Well, this vegan version finally gives me my turn!

This dip is warm and creamy. It may be vegan, but it tastes so similar to the cheese-laden original, that nobody will know.

I loved this dip with sliced radishes and cucumbers and peppers, but the not-so-health conscious eaters in my crowd scooped up mounds of this dip with chips and pita.

It’s that time of year when we are post-Thanksgiving but pre-Xmas and Hannukah and New Years. So, we all try to eat as healthy as we can for the next few weeks. Right? I mean if we can do okay now, then we can really let loose that last week of the year. So, if this is your plan, slip this vegan spinach artichoke dip into your apps rotation during football games, basketball games, happy hours, whatever… because it sure helps when you are eating something that tastes sinful, but really isn’t.

Okay, enuf selling of this dip. Haha, you’d think I was getting a commission on it or something… but I’m not… I just want you to be happy from healthy food. Wow, that sounds pretty corny, huh?

Anyway, happy everything!

I want to thank Sina at Vegan Heaven for the original recipe for this dish.

Oh, and if you are looking for another healthy dip to try, take a look at my recipe for Beet Hummus.

This is Steve, with that look on his face saying this bowl is all for him and nobody better come near him… haha.. vegan spinach artichoke dipvegan spinach artichoke dip

Here are some of the awesome healing ingredients in this delicious vegan spinach artichoke dip:

White beans are good at boosting energy and calming the mind. They can help improve your memory and can lower cholesterol. And, they are a great source of protein.

It is true that spinach contains iron, but it’s this vegetable’s lesser-known qualities that really hold my admiration. Spinach contains a substance that helps eliminate prostate cancer. It’s also great for your bones and also for memory loss. Diabetic patients may find that eating spinach helps combat excessive thirst and can even be good for night blindness. Spinach can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium, so calcium-rich foods should be avoided when eating this leafy green.

Artichokes are a good source of vitamins C and K and they also contain a healthy amount of magnesium. The are low in fat and calories but they do have some fiber, so they are a healthy choice. In Chinese medicine, we recommend adding artichokes to the diet to combat sadness, headaches, indigestion, and diarrhea. In olden times, steamed artichokes were sometimes prescribed to combat a yeast infection.

Cashews are really a multi-tasking nut. I use them all the time so I say it all the time: Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts. Most of the fat in cashews is unsaturated and is made up of oleic acid; this is the same acid that is found in olive oil, making these nuts a heart-healty choice.

Nutritional yeast gives things a cheese-y taste without using any dairy and it adds amino acids and Vitamin B, iron, zinc, and selenium to your diet. Nutritional yeast is a complete protein and also contains fiber, so it’s a really good thing!

Garlic is amazing in its antiviral and antibacterial capabilities. Garlic is actually a Chinese herb (Da Suan). It’s used to kill toxins and parasites and also to reduce swelling in the body. It’s what I call a great “A” herb: anesthetic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antioxidant, antiviral, etc….

Onions are great for your immune system; they are a natural antihistamine. In the winter, I eat lots and lots of onions… I guess I should feel sorry for the people close to me! Recently, I recommended that a patient with bronchitis put sliced raw onions in her socks when she went to sleep… she woke up so much better; they actually can rid the body of bacteria. (I know I’ve told you this before, but it really is awesome!) Onion is a superhero in the food world!

vegan spinach artichoke dip

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip
Author: 
Recipe type: appetizer, dip, vegan, vegetarian
Cuisine: recipe adapted from: Vegan Heaven
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This is one of those dips that people just keep eating and eating and nobody knows it's vegan. It's really creamy and delicious... and easy to make! Great for a crowd!
Ingredients
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 oz fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the lemon juice,cashews, beans and nutritional yeast, and water in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan and add the onion.
  4. Saute until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute.
  6. Add the spinach, and stir until completely wilted, about 1 or 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in the artichokes.
  8. Stir in the cashew mixture.
  9. Season with salt.
  10. Spoon into a bowl and serve warm with crackers, chips, or fresh veggies.
  11. Enjoy!

vegan spinach artichoke dip

Creamy Vegan Baked Pumpkin Pasta

creamy vegan baked pumpkin pasta

It’s pumpkin season! I know everyone gets so excited to go out and grab their pumpkin lattes, but not me. Don’t get me wrong — I love all things pumpkin too, but give me pumpkin comfort foods and I am the happiest ever. And this creamy vegan baked pumpkin pasta blows your favorite pumpkin latte out of the water.

I never met a pasta I didn’t like. Especially a creamy pasta. Add in the fact that this is a hot and comfy baked pasta dish with a great crumb-topping, and you’ve got me drooling. So, when I saw a recipe for a baked pumpkin pasta by the amazing and inspiring Candice Kumai, I had to go for it.

What’s better than eating a delicious dinner with pumpkin in it while looking outside at the beautiful fall foliage? Nothing! Come on, look outside. Watch the leaves blowing around, smell the smells of fireplaces, open the windows and feel the slight chill in the air. Come on, do it. I live in the middle of the city, and I still open my windows and experience the wonder that is fall. Now, if I could figure out what kind of music to play while I’m cooking up all of this pumpkiny goodness… You know, winter is Christmas music in my kitchen. Summer is beachy music. But what’s fall? Hmmm… I’m open to suggestions…

I’ve made many pumpkin pasta dishes. Some of them end up looking like macaroni and cheese. Nothing wrong with that look… But, I’ve made the mistake of calling them something like pumpkin mac & cheese. This is a mistake, because it almost always disappoints the person I’m feeding, because while pumpkin pasta may look like mac and cheese, it doesn’t taste like it. But, pumpkin pasta is awesome. Especially this one… it’s creamy and pumpkiny and decadent tasting. I make mine with grain-free pasta and it is spectacular. I guess you get the point. I really think you should make this creamy vegan baked pumpkin pasta.

For another delicious creamy vegan pasta dish, try my recipe for Creamy Mint Avocado Pasta.

creamy vegan baked pumpkin pastacreamy vegan baked pumpkin pasta

Look at some of the healing ingredients in this awesome creamy vegan baked pumpkin pasta dish:

Pumpkin can help reduce pain and fever and can soothe stomach irritations. It’s a great food to treat constipation, allergies and asthma. It’s high in vitamin A and can help protect your lungs and intestines from cancer.

n Asian medicine, we use coconut to strengthen the body, reduce swelling, and stop bleeding. Coconut kills viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It’s good for all types of infections and viruses in the body, including the flu, bronchitis, tapeworms, urinary tract infections, and herpes. And perhaps most importantly, it helps you keep your mind sharp and it makes it easier for you to focus. I like to use full-fat canned coconut milk for this pasta.

Kale is everywhere these days. It is extremely nutritious, and because it to so popular you can find it already washed and prepared in lots of markets. Make sure you clean the kale leaves thoroughly and remove the center thick stems if they bother you (I don’t like to eat these think stems). This dark leafy green is a great source of fiber and calcium. It’s also rich in many minerals, including magnesium, iron and potassium. One serving contains 200% of the daily requirements of Vitamin C and 180% of Vitamin A.

Turmeric is actually a Chinese herb (Jiang Huang). It is great for reducing inflammation throughout the body. If you suffer from aches and pains in your joints, try turmeric. It can help relieve menstrual pain and some other abdominal pains but, if you are pregnant, ask your doctor before you eat too much turmeric. I only used a little bit of turmeric in this pasta, so you don’t really taste it… but feel free to use as much as you like!

Garlic is amazing in its antiviral and antibacterial capabilities. Garlic is actually a Chinese herb (Da Suan). It’s used to kill toxins and parasites and also to reduce swelling in the body. It’s what I call a great “A” herb: anesthetic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antioxidant, antiviral, etc….

Nutritional yeast gives things a cheese-y taste without using any dairy and it adds amino acids and Vitamin B, iron, zinc, and selenium to your diet. Nutritional yeast is a complete protein and also contains fiber, so it’s a really good thing!

creamy vegan baked pumpkin pasta

Creamy Vegan Baked Pumpkin Pasta
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
This is comfort food at it's most delicious. This healing vegan baked pasta is warming, delicious, simple, gooey, and just plain awesome.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb pasta of your choice (I used a grain free pasta)
  • 1-1/4 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 15 oz can pure pumpkin (I buy them by the case)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • leaves of 3 thyme sprigs
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil (for greasing the pan)
  • For crumb topping:
  • 1 cup crumbs of choice (I used chickpea crumbs)
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp dried minced onion flakes
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup chopped lacinto/dinosaur kale
  • ¼ cup vegan parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Grease a large square or rectangle baking pan with oil.
  3. Cook your pasta al dente, drain well, and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Place the coconut milk, pumpkin, turmeric, thyme, garlic, and salt and pepper into the blender. I used my Vitamix. You can make this in a regular blender, but it make take a little time -- make sure you blend until very creamy and smooth.
  5. Stir the sauce into the pasta, and pour the mixture into the greased baking dish.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, then remove the pasta and switch the oven to the Broil setting.
  7. Make the crumb topping: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  8. After 30 minutes in the oven, spread the crumb mixture all over the top of the pasta and broil for a few minutes, until the crumbs start to turn brown. Watch it carefully -- no burning allowed!
  9. Enjoy!

creamy vegan baked pumpkin pasta

Sweet Potato Apple & Swiss Chard Stew

sweet potato apple & swiss chard stew

The second that it started to feel like fall was finally in the air, I started clicking through all of my favorite blogs and sites and I happily flipped through my favorite beautiful cookbooks looking for inspiration for what kind of soup or stew to make. This sweet potato apple & swiss chard stew was the perfect choice.

I can sit on the couch with cookbooks surrounding me and lose all track of time. Same thing with sitting with my laptop perusing food blogs and recipe sites. Yup, I can be a couch potato to the max — it’s one of my best talents!

But, whoever said couch potatoes are not productive, has not seen some of the results of my expertise in this area. Because I come up with my best recipe ideas when I’m in full-on couch potato mode (maybe even with a cheesy romantic movie playing in the background on TV)…

This is one of those dishes that you are so happy to have leftover in the fridge. And, it’s so good that even when the days grew hot and humid again here in New York, we still happily ate the hot stew. And, if you’ve ever been in New York City on a really hot and humid day, you know how good this sweet potato apple & swiss chard soup must be if we ate it on some of those days!

It’s quite the mental picture: we came in from the heat and humidity outside, stood in front of the cool refrigerator in our stuck-to-our-backs clothing, pulled out the big pot. And we heated it up. And we stood there, eating it with sweat stuck to us. Wow, that’s a pretty awful picture… but I’d do it again in a second…

A few days earlier, when I thought fall might be upon us (which, by the way wasn’t even close to fall yet — it got to be really hot out later…), I found a genius recipe from one of my fav blogs: Contentedness Cooking. So, I want to give credit for the original recipe to Florian; it’s an awesome recipe.

If you want another great recipe that shows off sweet potatoes, try my Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.

sweet potato apple & swiss chard stewsweet potato apple & swiss chard stew

Here are some of the reasons this sweet potato apple & swiss chard stew is so awesome and healing:

Sweet potatoes are good for your digestive system. They can be good for both constipation and diarrhea. These orange gems also help rid your body of excess water, are good for breast health, help people with diabetes and actually can help ease night blindness. In olden times, it was common in China to rub mashed sweet potatoes on poison insect bites to remove the toxins. I haven’t tried this, but if you see me looking a tad orange, this will be why…

It really is true that an apple a day is a good thing. Apples help to strengthen your heart. They are also good for your digestion and they can help eliminate mucus when you have a cold. So, the combination of apples and cinnamon together are great for this time of year when everyone seems to be getting sick. Apples have a high antioxidant content, especially Granny Smiths and Red Delicious. This, combined with the fact that they have a lot of healthy fiber, is why apples are good at fighting Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and some cancers. They have also been shown to help ward off diabetes, high cholesterol and gallstones.

Swiss Chard can help detoxify your body. It contains large amounts of minerals including iron, pottassium, and magnesium. It’s got lots of fiber and can help reduce inflammation.

Onions are great for your immune system; they are a natural antihistamine. In the winter, I eat lots and lots of onions… I guess I should feel sorry for the people close to me! Recently, I recommended that a patient with bronchitis put sliced raw onions in her socks when she went to sleep… she woke up so much better; they actually can rid the body of bacteria. (I know I’ve told you this before, but it really is awesome!) Onion is a superhero in the food world!

Turmeric is actually a Chinese herb (Jiang Huang). It is great for reducing inflammation throughout the body. If you suffer from aches and pains in your joints, try turmeric. It can help relieve menstrual pain and some other abdominal pains but, if you are pregnant, ask your doctor before you eat too much turmeric.

Cashews are really a multi-tasking nut. I use them all the time so I say it all the time: Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts. Most of the fat in cashews is unsaturated and is made up of oleic acid; this is the same acid that is found in olive oil, making these nuts a heart-healty choice. For this stew, I sprinkled cashews on top of each bowl before serving, and it really elevated the taste… so don’t skip this step!

In Asian medicine, we use coconut to strengthen the body, reduce swelling, and stop bleeding. Coconut kills viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It’s good for all types of infections and viruses in the body, including the flu, bronchitis, tapeworms, urinary tract infections, and herpes. And perhaps most importantly, it helps you keep your mind sharp and it makes it easier for you to focus. I like to use full-fat canned coconut milk for this stew.

sweet potato apple & swiss chard stew

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sweet Potato Apple & Swiss Chard Stew
Author: 
Recipe type: stew, soup, paleo, whole30, vegan, vegetarian
Cuisine: recipe inspired by: Contentedness Cooking
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
This is the perfect Autumn stew... or thick soup... whatever it is, it's healing and warming and delicious!
Ingredients
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large head Swiss chard (I used rainbow chard), sliced into ribbons
  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup raw cashews
Instructions
  1. Heat coconut milk and sweet potatoes in a large soup pot over medium heat. Let cook for 5 mins.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, except cashews, and cook about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.
  3. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle each bowl with a big fistful of cashews.
  4. Enjoy!

sweet potato apple & swiss chard stew

Flat Beans And Potatoes

flat beans and potatoes

I love going to the farmers’ market. I’d rather do that that almost anything else. There’s just something about all of the smells and colors and people, especially during autumn that makes me happy… it feels like home. Last weekend, when I was walking through all of the beautiful stalls filled with vegetables, the vendor with the beans caught my eye. There were just so many different types and colors, so I had to buy some. It was a hard choice, but I chose the most beautiful, huge, flat beans I had ever seen. I didn’t know at the time, that they would become the root of this deliciously homey pot of flat beans and potatoes.

So, I put some in my canvass bag, skipped merrily on my way, and tried to think about what else I would need to make these beans delicious.

This was on Sunday. Earlier that morning, I had just flown in on the red-eye flight from Oregon where I was visiting my brother. Let me tell you — the farmer’s market in Portland blows all other markets out of the water… but that’s another story. But, when I saw the beans, I did text my brother to tell him how beautiful they are (maybe even as pretty as the ones at his market), and he’s the one who suggested that I the flat beans and potatoes this way. So, thanks David!

These flat beans and potatoes are so comforting, a bit creamy, and totally fresh tasting. I put mine over a bowl of buckwheat groats and it was the perfect vegetarian meal.

For another simple green bean recipe, make my simple Sesame Green Beans.

flat beans and potatoesflat beans and potatoes

This simple recipe for flat beans and potatoes has great healing ingredients:

Flat Beans have a good amount of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B, and iron. They can help detoxify your body, regulate metabolism, and lessen bloating.

Potatoes are good at soothing ulcers and neutralizing acid in the stomach and they help relieve constipation. These tubers also can help relieve arthritic inflammation. So, even though sweet potatoes are thought of as the white potato’s more nutrition sister, regular old potatoes can be just what the doctor ordered.

Garlic is amazing in its antiviral and antibacterial capabilities. Garlic is actually a Chinese herb (Da Suan). It’s used to kill toxins and parasites and also to reduce swelling in the body. It’s what I call a great “A” herb: anesthetic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antioxidant, antiviral, etc….

Parsley has been shown to reduce tumors in the lungs and to neutralize the effects of carcinogens, including cigarette smoke. It is high in vitamins A and C, and is good for your heart. This herb is also a natural breath freshener. So, if you have a chance to use more than a few sprigs as a garnish, go for it.

flat beans and potatoes

Flat Beans And Potatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: paleo, whole30, vegetarian, vegan, side dish
Cuisine: vegetables
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This is such a comforting and simple side dish. Serve it over a bowl of steaming buckwheat groats, and you've got yourself a truly satisfying vegetarian meal.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb flat beans, any hard stems trimmed
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 4 to 6 new potatoes, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup fresh parsley
  • 7 garlic cloves, smashed
  • grass-fed butter or ghee or extra virgin olive oil, for finishing the dish
  • cooked buckwheat groats, for serving (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place the beans and potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water.
  2. Add a handful of sea salt.
  3. Stir in the parsley and garlic.
  4. Bring pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook, uncovered, 20 minutes.
  5. Drain most of the water out, leaving about 1 cup in the pot with the veggies.
  6. Stir a little bit of butter, ghee, or olive oil into the finished dish.
  7. Season with sea salt and black pepper, to taste.
  8. Spoon the mixture over cooked buckwheat, pasta, rice, or whatever makes you smile.
  9. Enjoy!

flat beans and potatoes