Sunday, June 28, 2009

Strawberry Coconut Milk Kefir

Yesterday I enjoyed a yummy green smoothie. Since I was able to get my hands on some of the new So Delicious Coconut Milk Kefir, I thought that this morning I'd give the strawberry flavor a try. I never had dairy kefir, so I had no basis of comparison. But the coconut milk kefir was creamy and delicious, and reminded me of the Dannon strawberry yogurt I used to eat by the bucketful as a kid. You remember—the kind in the waxy little containers with the fruit on the bottom that you had to scoop up and mix in with the yogurt. And I felt really good starting my day with this new dairy-free beverage, because it contains 10 live active cultures that are reported to have a myriad of health benefits. Salud!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Good Morning Green Smoothie

I'm always looking for delicious new ways to include dark leafy greens into our meals. This colorful green smoothie is a delightfully simple way to start the day.


2 kale leaves
5 med bananas
2 medjool dates, pitted
2 cups water

Place all together in blender, and mix for about 40 seconds, just until well blended. Makes 2 large servings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer's Here and the Time is Ripe for Berries!

During our long, dreary Pacific Northwest winters, I often find myself dreaming of summer. Long, warm sunny days, and an explosion of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries in my garden. If I could choose my own food groups, berries would be my favorite, followed by coconut (and anything made with coconut), and then a toss-up between Thai and Indian curries.

So now, that summer is here, and the strawberries are peaking and the blueberries are just beginning to ripen, I decided to make this lovely Almond Strawberry Spinach Salad from the book, ExtraVeganza by Laura Matthias. With sliced pears and a sassy and sweet poppyseed dressing, it's a sublime summertime salad. I tweaked the recipe just a bit by also adding in some succulent blueberries.

For the main course, I made Pizza Bombay from the book, Vegan Planet, a tried and true collection of delightful vegan recipes. I can always pick up this book and find something new and wonderful that I haven't made before.

With spinach, lentils, onions, a hint of sugar, and just the right amount of yellow curry, sweet and spicy flavors blend together to create a perfect balance. This pizza is so filling, I was content to eat just one slice.

With all those berries, I had to make something wonderful for dessert! So using ingredients from both my first and second favorite food groups, I created a simple but delicious dairy-free ice cream sundae. It's layered with mounds of Purely Decadent Coconut Milk ice cream (coconut flavor), fresh blueberries, and a syrupy-sweet strawberry sauce.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Carrot 'n Potato Swiss Chard Curry

Some of you may have noticed my love affair with chard. In the realm of dark leafy green vegetables, it rates only second to Russian kale on my list of favorites. This subtly sweet tomato-based curry uses relatively few ingredients, and can be whipped up in about the same amount of time it takes to make the pilau rice that makes the perfect accompaniment.


3 medium red potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large carrots, cut into 1/4" rounds
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
2 Tablespoons evaporated cane crystals
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes


Place potatoes and carrots in a large saucepan, and cover completely with water. Bring to a boil, and boil for 4-6 minutes, until crisp-tender. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add potatoes, carrots, sugar, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and Swiss chard. Cover and simmer for 4-6 minutes or until Swiss chard is tender-crisp. Serves 4.



1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 tablespoon Earth Balance spread or coconut oil
4 whole cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods, bruised
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups hot water


Wash the rice well and leave to soak in cold water for 30 minutes, then drain well. Heat the Earth Balance in a heavy saucepan, and fry the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom pods, and cumin seeds, for 1 minute. Add turmeric and rice, and stir over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add salt and hot water, bring quickly to a boil, then turn heat very low. Cover with a well-fitting lid and cook for 20-25 minutes without lifting lid or stirring. Uncover at end of cooking time to allow steam to escape for about 3 minutes. Remove whole spices, lightly fluff rice, and serve hot with vegetable currie. Serves 4.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coconut Oil: Is it Really Nature's Miracle? An Interview with Bruce Fife, N.D.

My interest in the nutritional benefits of coconut oil was aroused by the influx of tantalizing new products containing coconut that have recently popped up on store shelves. I got my hands on the book, Coconut Cures by Bruce Fife, N.D., who also authored several other books on the health benefits of coconut oil, and then asked him to shed a bit more light on the subject for me.

GD: When did you first become interested in studying the health benefits of coconut oil?

BF: Several years ago I was in a meeting with a group of nutritionists when one member of the group stated that coconut oil was one of the “good” fats and did not cause heart disease. This was in the late 1990s, and it was the first time I had ever heard this. Up until then, everything I had heard or read claimed that coconut oil was a saturated fat and should be avoided. This nutritionist backed up her statement and cited several studies showing the benefits of coconut oil. This was so contrary to what I had been led to believe that I was intrigued and felt compelled to learn more. I wanted to know if coconut oil was a "bad" fat or a "good" fat or something in between.

GD: So what did your research uncover about the health benefits of coconut oil? Was there an "Ah-hah!" moment?

BF: I began looking for information about coconut oil, but at the time there wasn’t much written about it. The only information I found said that “coconut oil is a saturated fat and causes heart disease.” I read that statement everywhere, but none of the authors ever backed it up with any facts, figures, or citations to medical studies. It became obvious to me that nobody really knew anything about coconut oil. They were just badmouthing it, because they believed all saturated fats were bad, and therefore, coconut oil must be bad, too. I figured the only way to learn the truth about coconut oil was to search the medical journals and see what researchers were learning about it. I looked up every medical study I could find on coconut and coconut oil. There were hundreds of studies. What I found shocked me. Study after study showed nutritional and medical benefits of the oil. In fact, I couldn’t find any that demonstrated any negative effects. And contrary to popular belief, the evidence I found indicated that coconut oil not only did not cause heart disease, but protected against it.

GD: That's quite astounding. Apparently, not all saturated fats are created equal.

BF: Precisely.

GD: Common wisdom (or lack thereof), tells us that consuming a diet high in any kind of fat makes us fatter. Yet in your book, Eat Fat Look Thin you describe how people can enjoy full-fat foods, and still lose weight. Could you briefly explain how eating coconut oil actually stimulates metabolism and assists in weight loss?

BF: There are three main reasons why coconut oil can help people lose excess weight. 1) Coconut actually has fewer calories than any other fat. So by eating coconut oil in place of other fats you are reducing your calorie intake. 2) Coconut oil has an amazing ability to satisfy hunger. So when it is in food you become satisfied sooner and remain satisfied longer between meals, so you tend to eat less food and consume fewer calories. 3) Coconut oil is metabolized differently from other dietary fats. It is metabolized more like a carbohydrate than a fat. The body uses coconut oil for energy rather than for storage. So when coconut oil is eaten it boosts energy and actually shifts metabolism into a higher gear. So you burn off calories at an accelerated rate. Studies show this rise in metabolism after eating coconut oil lasts for 24 hours. So for 24 hours your energy level is higher, and you are burning more calories.

GD: I enjoy using coconut oil in cooking and baking. It gives foods exquisite flavor and makes them very aromatic. I noticed one or two recipes in your book, Coconut Cures, which include heated coconut oil. Does heating coconut oil destroy its benefits? Or worse, can it cause toxicity, as with some heated vegetable oils?

BF: Coconut oil is an excellent cooking oil, because it is very heat stable. Most other vegetable oils degrade too quickly when heated and form health-destroying free radicals. Coconut can withstand the heat used in cooking and therefore does not create these toxic byproducts.

GD: More and more packaged foods containing coconut have started appearing on grocery store shelves . Products such as energy bars, beverages, ice cream, and even yogurt. Labels contain statements such as, "great source of MCFAs." Do individuals consuming these products get any of the nutritional benefits of coconut oil?

BF: Coconut oil is considered a “functional food." That is, it provides health benefits beyond its vitamin and mineral content. Coconut oil gets much of its nutritional and medicinal properties from the unique fatty acids that make up the oil. These fat molecules are called medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of MCFA. The next best source is human breast milk. MCFAs have many health benefits associated with them. This is one of the reasons why nature puts them in breast milk. Products that contain MCFAs derived from coconut oil can offer many of the same health benefits as coconut oil.

GD: In your book, Coconut Cures, you include a list of uses for coconut oil as a prevention and treatment for a myriad of health conditions. Can you tell us a little about some of the health conditions you have personally observed improve (in yourself or others) as a result of consuming or topically applying coconut oil?

BF: I have personally seen many health problems completely cured or significantly improved with the use of coconut oil. All types of skin conditions have improved. Acne is one. Skin fungus is another. It also speeds the healing of injuries such as cuts and burns. The only medication I use on my skin now is coconut oil, because it works better than any other drug or natural remedy I’ve ever used. Coconut oil can clear up urinary tract infections within a couple of days. It works best when started as soon as symptoms are noticeable. Coconut oil helps balance blood sugar and is helping many diabetics keep blood sugar under control. It also improves circulation and oxygen delivery of the blood. In diabetics who have lost feeling in their legs due to a lack of circulation, coconut oil restores circulation and feeling returns within weeks. I don’t know of any drug or herb that can reverse and control diabetic symptoms as well as coconut oil. I know people who have used the oil successfully as a treatment for cancer. I know of documented cases of Alzheimer’s disease that are in remission from simply using coconut oil. I know of AIDS patients who have used coconut oil to manage that disease. I could actually go on and on.

GD: It's astounding to learn that something as pure and natural as coconut oil could offer so many health and nutritional benefits. While some people may be skeptical that something so simple could be so effective in treating such a wide array of ailments, one thing is certain: Unlike pharmaceutical interventions, the use of coconut oil will not cause harm. I sincerely believe that people have nothing to lose and everything to gain by using coconut oil. Cooking with coconut oil and exploring the many new delicious products made from coconut has certainly made my life more healthful, fragrant, and delicious! Thank you very much for taking the time to educate me about coconut's many health benefits, Dr. Fife. It does seem like coconut oil truly is nature's miracle.

If you'd like to learn more about the many benefits of coconut oil, I recommend Dr. Fife's book, Coconut Cures. To see all of his books on coconut oil and other health topics, visit: Or you can visit his website, where you'll find articles, studies, resources, the latest news, a chat group, and much more.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Berry Creamy Dairy-Free Yogurt Parfaits

# 4 6-ounce containers of So Delicious Dairy Free Vanilla Coconut Milk or Soy Yogurt
# 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
# 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
# 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
# 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
# 1/2 cup granola

Divide yogurt into 4 large dessert glasses or clear dessert bowls. Top with assorted berries and sprinkle with granola.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chocolate Milk from Heaven

Coconut, chocolate ... does it get any better? I'm never buying bottled chocolate syrup or pre-packaged chocolate soy milk again. I mixed some home-made chocolate syrup with original flavor So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage, and came up with the best-tasting chocolate milk I've ever had! I can't wait to drink this along with an "untuna" salad sandwich!

Dairy-Free Chocolate Syrup

Makes 2 cups


* 1/2 cup cocoa powder
* 1 cup water
* 2 cups evaporated cane crystals
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla


1. Mix cocoa and water in saucepan, stir to dissolve cocoa, heat to blend the cocoa and water.
2. Add sugar, stir to dissolve.
3. Boil for 3 minutes.
4. Add salt and vanilla.
5. Pour into pint jar and keep refrigerated.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Give Peas (and Vegan Spinach Lasagna) a Chance

I'd like to dispel the myth once and for all, that being vegan is about deprivation. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I LOVE to eat. While I'm eating breakfast, I'm already thinking about what I'll be having for dinner. Given the choice between great sex and a decent meal, I'll always pick the food, unless of course, there's some way to combine the two activities. That's why I would never choose a diet that in any way short changes my taste buds. Since I became vegan, I have enjoyed a much greater variety of tastes and textures than I ever dreamed possible as an omnivore.

However, I fully understand anyone's reluctance to believe that this could be true. Since earliest childhood, we have been conditioned to regard eating vegetables as punishment so that we can be rewarded with foods that are really bad for us. Remember your mother's incessant refrain? Eat your spinach (corn, brussel sprouts, whatever) and then you can have your ice cream. If you're an unfortunate soul like me, as a child, you only ate vegetables that came out of a can, so you know that being forced to eat that stuff truly was a form of torture. Just thinking about those pale, soggy, overcooked peas, carrots, and lima beans still makes me want to gag. What child in her right mind wouldn't rather consume milk from a cow disguised in the form of a creamy, sweet, frozen dessert?

But I'll never forget the first time I tasted a real vegetable. I was ten-years-old and had been invited to a friend's house for dinner. Lying there right next to the meatloaf and mashed potatoes, was this strange-looking bright green stuff. I remember cautiously bringing the first bite to my lips and furtively fondling the tender florets of gently steamed broccoli with the tip of my tongue. The crunchy taste and texture seemed wonderfully exotic to me. I ran home that night excited to share this amazing new food discovery with my mother. "Mom, you gotta make broccoli, you gotta make some broccoli!" I cried. But once my mother learned that she couldn't buy broccoli in a can, that was the end of any hope of ever of eating this delightful new food at our house. I don't think I ate broccoli again until I was old enough to vote.

Let me assure you that even if you don't like broccoli, a diet that is completely free of all animal products is not about limitation or deprivation. It's a virtual gastronomic celebration.

You want convenience? I wrote the book on veg*an convenience foods. (Seriously, it's called, So Now, What Do I Eat?) Have you ever tried Rising Moon Organics' Vegan Butternut Squash Ravioli, or how about Turtle Mountain's Mint Chip ice cream made from coconut milk? You will think you've died and gone to vegan heaven.

And if you're feeling truly ambitious, try this undeniably delicious recipe for Tofu-Spinach Lasagna. If the tofu filling doesn't taste a lot like real ricotta cheese, then I'll eat my grass skirt. This favorite dish has made converts out of quite a few disbelievers. Try it, and let me know what you think.


1/2 lb. lasagna noodles
3 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 lb. soft tofu, patted dry
1 lb. firm tofu, patted dry
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk (Original or Unsweetened)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 tsp. basil
2 tsp. salt
6 cups homemade tomato sauce or 1 48 oz. commercial sauce
1 pkg. Vegan Gourmet or Daiya Mozzarella, shredded (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain carefully and set aside. Squeeze the spinach as dry as possible and set aside. Place the tofu, maple syrup, soymilk, garlic powder, lemon juice, basil, and salt in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Cover the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of noodles. Follow that with a layer of half the tofu filling and half the spinach. Continue in the same order, using half the remaining tomato sauce and noodles and the remaining tofu filling and spinach. End with the remaining noodles covered with the remaining tomato sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until tomato sauce bubbles. Sprinkle with vegan mozzarella, if desired before returning to the oven. Serves 6 to 8.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Vegan Frittata and Roasted Potatoes from Vegan Brunch
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
and Tempeh Bacon from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

So far, every dish I've made from Vegan Brunch has exceeded my expectations. How does Isa do it? The tofu scramble, omelet, quiche, and frittata recipes have all done a great job of imitating the taste, texture, and mouthfeel of eggs. I can't wait to move on to the pancakes, waffles, and crepes. Stay tuned ...