Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's Fun to Say and Delicious to Eat? Jambalaya, of Course!

You can find several "McDougall" Jambalaya recipes online like this one, but the recipe for Tofu Jambalaya in The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook is made with orzo (cute little rice-shaped pasta) instead of rice, and hickory-smoked tofu. Mark thought the tofu tasted like sausage, (I thought it tasted like smoked tofu), and we both enjoyed the orzo, which seemed like a delightful indulgence. I think that the next time I make this dish, I'll add some more Creole-type seasonings like cayenne, paprika, and oregano, and use the original Tabasco hot sauce, instead of the milder (read: wimpier) green pepper Tabasco sauce I used this time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It Just Keeps Getting Better and Better:
Spicy White Bean Pitas

My copy of The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook arrived yesterday, and with more than 300 delicious-sounding recipes, I'm sure I'm going to be kept busy in the kitchen for quite some time.

I dove right in with Spicy White Bean Pitas. I tried to serve them as described, but the bean mixture soaked right through the pita bread, and what I wound up with instead was like a giant open-faced sandwich.

No problem, though. The bread became soft and cut easily with a fork, and I quite enjoyed eating it this way, as it made it seem like there was a lot more food on my plate!

As tasty as they are colorful, I was once again surprised at how much I can enjoy beans, if prepared and presented creatively. I used chipotle chili pepper and one finely diced jalapeño in place of the peppers called for in the original recipe. Anyway, here's my version. Please let me know if you like it.


1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, diced fine
1/3 cup vegetable broth
2 15-oz cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
6-8 pita breads
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 cup alfalfa or clover sprouts


Cook the onion and jalapeño in broth or water for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent. Add the beans, tomatoes, corn, tomato paste, and chili powder. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cut a pita pockets in half, stuff each with filling, and place on top of each other on a plate, allowing the juices to soak through the bread. Top with chopped green onion and sprouts.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Outstanding Dinner:
Samosa Wraps and Black Bean Brownies!

I adore Indian food. If I had to choose between my two best food vacations, it would be a tough call between Italy and India. I did so much walking up and down hills in Italy, I could eat pasta and bread to my heart's content, drink several glasses of red wine each night, and still lose weight!

In India, I absolutely loved having Indian food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I had to be diligent about making sure my food was always prepared without cheese, butter, or ghee. They still don't have a handle on the concept of "no dairy" in India, but I hear that's slowly changing.

I have always enjoyed preparing Indian food at home. The lovely aroma of those exotic spices cooking in oil—cardamom, coriander, and cumin fill my home and add to the anticipation of a delicious meal to come. But is it possible to prepare tasty Indian food without using oil? Well, these tasty Samosa Wraps from The FatFree Vegan Kitchen proved to me that you absolutely can!

This take on the popular Indian snack food, which is typically quite greasy, had all the flavor without all the fat. I stuffed the filling into whole wheat pita pockets, but I think next time I'll go the extra step and make my own chappati bread to give it a more authentic taste.

I just happened to have some tamarind chutney on hand (one of my favorite condiments), which added a lovely, rich flavor without any added fat.

For dessert I baked a tray of Chef Emily Webber's Wonderful Fat-Free Vegan Chocolate Black Bean Brownies. Hold on there—black bean brownies? Are you kidding me?

These brownies were sweet and moist and virtually fat-free, because they were made without any oil. A couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseed made them not only moist, but about as healthy as a brownie can ever hope to be! You can also substitute all-purpose gluten-free flour for the whole wheat flour, and the results will be as delicious. I know, because I made some gluten-free brownies for my gluten-intolerant friend, Meryl Ann.

And what's that yummy-looking topping you ask? It's iced vanilla cashew creme, and it is scrumptious! (The recipe for it is included on the brownie recipe page.) It got all melty and gooey, because the brownies were still warm! I figured that Mark and I are being so good that we both deserved a little treat. And besides, if the recipe was good enough to be featured during Dr. McDougall's June Celebrity Chef Weekend, then it was good enough for me!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Delicious Day of Caribbean Beans, Quinoa, and Amazake!

While I wait for my copy of The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook to arrive, I've been spending quite a bit of time going through my recipe archive and favorite cookbooks to find recipes I can McDougallize. There are many like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Sweet and Sour Tempeh, which can easily be made without oil, and there are far more challenging recipes like my Great Untuna Salad, which may require a considerable amount of inventiveness.

I also continue to scour the internet for low-fat high-starch vegan dishes, and I came across this interesting recipe for Caribbean Beans and Quinoa from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen.

The ingredients list gave me pause, as green olives, capers, and kidney beans are not among my favorites. But the photos looked so tempting that I decided to give it a try. I'm really glad I did, because Mark and I both agreed it was quite a tasty departure from our usual fare. I added some raisins to my plate at the table, (Mark's not a big raisin fan), and it really took this recipe to another level of enjoyment for me. Together with the green olives and pimentos, it reminded me of empanadas.

It's only been a few days since we started eating this way, but I am noticing that I already feel more energetic, and I'm not feeling hungry or deprived. It will be interesting to see how it goes as we progress with this routine. Yesterday I bought myslef a Tiger Chai Amazake for lunch. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed this naturally sweet beverage quite so much.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Getting My McDougall On and
Changing My Fat-Vegan Ways

As you can tell, I had a terrific time eating my way through the Portland VegFest last weekend. But when I walked into one of Dr. McDougall's lectures and saw the following two words glowering at me like two finger-pointing giants, I just about fainted:


Dr. McDougall began:

"You may consider this an oxymoron—a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms, but in real life this concurrence is all too common. You may also find the phrase offensive."

He was right. I did, and I did. But wait a minute. I had just walked through an exhibit hall filled with lots of fat vegans! Yes, there were tons of fat non-vegans, too (sorry for the pun), but I can usually tell who's a vegan and who's not. (It's kind of like vegan gaydar.) To my horror, one vegan in particular had grown to enormous proportions since I had last seen him. I had to take a double take to make sure it was really him. He was still vegan, and yet he was bordering on obese. No, now, wait a minute. I'm being kind. He wasn't "bordering on" obese. He was obese! And only just recently, I had begun thinking of myself as fat. So when I saw this very fat vegan I thought to myself, "That's me in another year, if I don't watch out!" How fortuitous that I should walk into a room with the words "FAT VEGAN" staring me in the face, just moments after this startling revelation!

Let me backtrack a bit: Two men whom I have long admired as pillars in the vegan movement are Dr. John McDougall and Dr. Douglas Graham. Each of them have a long history of successfully teaching people how to adopt a low-fat vegan diet and achieve vibrant health. But that's where the similarities in their philosophies pretty much begin and end. Dr. Graham advocates for a totally raw vegan diet comprised primarily of ripe, raw organic fruits and vegetables supplemented with small amounts of raw nuts and seeds. Dr. McDougall believes that the proper diet for human beings is based on starches, and that the more rice, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans you eat, the trimmer and healthier you will be.

Since Dr. Graham is both a mentor and a friend, as well as someone whom I worked with for several years, I have had the gift of his personal guidance and the opportunity to read just about every book he's ever written. I can never completely express my gratitude to him or overestimate the value of his teachings.

In 1986, I was living in New Jersey and working on legislation concerning breast cancer prevention and treatment. Dr. McDougall was not only the inspiration for this bill, but kindly shared his time and experience with me, helping me immensely in getting the legislation passed. I feel deeply indebted to Dr. McDougall for his support.

I have failed at staying on a low-fat raw vegan diet many times in my life. My longest run lasted two years when I was living in Santa Barbara, where a variety of fresh fruit is abundant year-round, and the climate is mild and sunny. But even there, the lure of delicious Thai and Mexican food restaurants was too great, and I slowly drifted back to cooked foods. Why did I keep failing? Is it just that I don't have the needed self-control and couldn't get a handle on my cooked-food addiction? I don't think that's it, because I am a person who successfully dieted and lost forty pounds, and even more difficult, I kicked a 3-pack-a-day 15-year-long cigarette-smoking habit. So it isn't just about discipline or self-control. As much as I adore eating fruit, I just find it incredibly difficult to stay on a low-fat raw foods diet, especially when the temperature dips below a certain point. Why is it so hard for me to eat the way Dr. Graham believes we ought to?

And what is the ideal diet for humans, really? Dr. Graham frequently points out that among all primates, bonobos are the closest to us genetically, sharing 99% of our DNA. But one of the ways in which bonobos and humans differ is with respect to the digestive enzymes we possess—and it's a significant difference—one that cannot be casually overlooked.

The average human has roughly three times more salivary amylase gene copies than chimpanzees, and bonobos may not have any salivary amylase at all! In other words, we have the digestive enzyme that converts starches to sugar, and bonobos don't!

Why? Like all living creatures, humans adapted over time to their environment. Tens of thousands of years ago, we left the jungle and migrated to northern climates where fruit is not abundant year-round, and it became necessary for humans to adapt to eating other food sources in order to survive.

By 10,000 BCE, the first agricultural revolution was in full swing with various forms of domestication of plants and animals taking place in at least seven or eight locales worldwide. While there is no biological evidence to support the premise that humans evolved into meat and dairy eaters, (just because we eat them is not evidence that we can do so healthfully, in fact, just the opposite is true), the presence of multiple copies of the digestive enzyme, AMY1, in human DNA does indicate that we did in fact, evolve into starch eaters.

Do I feel great when I'm following a low-fat raw vegan diet? Absolutely! Does it come naturally or easily during the cold winter months? Absolutely not! Though I acknowledge that some people can successfully follow a low-fat raw vegan diet, most raw fooders I have met consume a dangerously high-fat diet, with some 50-80% of their total daily caloric intake coming from fat! That's even more fat than the average American eating the standard American diet consumes.

Where Dr. Graham and Dr. McDougall part ways, is where I have to ask myself what feels right to me? If humans possess the genes to digest starches, then it would seem logical that we have evolved into starch eaters. And it's turning out to be a lot easier for me to live on sweet potatoes, quinoa, and beans than it was on fruit and salads.

So I'm going to give this cooked, low-fat high-starch vegan diet a shot and see how it works for me. It means I'm going to have to learn a whole new way to cook without oils (even coconut oil!), bake without Earth Balance, make untuna salad without Vegenaise, and prepare quick and easy, but great-tasting meals without depending on processed foods like meat analogues and soy cheeses. Thankfully, culinary experts like Mary McDougall and Fatfree Vegan Kitchen's Susan Voisin have paved the way with hundreds of recipes for me to start from. Ultimately, my journey may lead me to a high-raw low-fat vegan diet that includes moderate amounts of cooked starches. But wherever it leads me, I'll be sharing the adventure here with you and will keep you posted on my progress.

For starters, here's the first meal I made McDougall style. It's a Monk Bowl with tempeh, kale, carrots, broccoli, and brown rice in a spicy Asian Ginger sauce. I thought it was quite tasty and definitely filling. It sure was pretty to look at! The verdict from my finicky husband: Delicious! Recipe here. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eating My Way Through
The Portland VegFest
A Celebration of Food, Friends, and Fun!

What can you say about a day filled with meeting lots of old and new friends and grazing away at a seemingly endless array of fabulous-tasting vegan fare? This year's Portland VegFest, which was held at the Portland Convention Center, was truly a day of delicious fun.

Unexpectedly, the exhibitor floor presented itself as a chocolate-lover's paradise, completely destroying the myth that vegans don't eat chocolate! There were more chocolate tables than you could shake a stick at, featuring chocolate truffles, chocolate candy bars, even raw chocolate and raw chocolate syrup!

One of my favorites was Stirs the Soul Raw Organic Chocolates. With flavors like Lavender, Spiced Chai, and Rose, I was in chocolate heaven!

Missionary Chocolates makes dark chocolate vegan truffles that are melt-in-your mouth delicious. Sadly, they were all out of Sweet Raspberry and Coconut Silk samples by the time I reached their table, but their Myer Lemon Explosion truffles were out of this world! I'd definitely send a box of these to someone on Valentine's Day.

I was delighted to see Sweet Pea Baking Company there again this year, as their cupcakes are among my all-time favorite baked treats. This time they came with dozens of samples of mini cupcakes and mini bundt cakes. Y-U-M!

Food Fight Grocery brought along lots of tasty treats. I finally got to taste my first Mahalo Bar. It was even better than the way I remember the classic dark-chocolate-wrapped-around-coconut Mounds bars, which I enjoyed so much as a kid! In fact, it was so good, I didn't even mind shelling out two bucks to buy the bar.

Of course, I had to stop by and visit with my favorite ice cream company, Turtle Mountain. Their table was really popular with attendees, who all seemed to be blown away by the samples of coconut milk ice cream, beverages, yogurt, kefir, and creamer they were giving away. Their So Delicious coconut milk ice cream sandwiches were a big hit with everyone!

Something really interesting and new for me was a product called Oregon Dukkah. I'd never seen or heard of dukkah before, and it looked intriguing. It's a mixture of nuts, seeds and Middle Eastern spices that originated in Egypt, and it comes in varieties like Zesty, Smoky Hot, and Coconut. They even have a Sweet flavor, which I wish I'd tasted. But I went for the Zesty served up with a little olive oil on a bit of bread. The combination of spices, hazelnuts, and seeds was enticing and exotic! And you gotta love their motto: "Dip like an Egyptian"!

I finally got to taste two items I'd heard so much about, but heretofore had never tasted: Dandies Marshmallows and Daiya Vegan Cheese. Though they dwarf in size compared to Sweet and Sara's vegan marshmallows, the Dandies tasted quite good. And Daiya cheeses had a surprising "cheesy" bite to them. I'd love to sample them heated and melted sometime. That's when they're supposed to be most impressive as a dairy-free, soy-free cheese substitute.

And just in case you think I was there only to satiate my sweet tooth, I did taste some "meatier" fare. I quite liked Field Roast's Classic Vegan Meatloaf, The blend of carrots, onion, garlic, and tomato paste hinted pleasantly at the real thing, without tasting overly flesh-like.

And Tofurky's Marinated Tempeh Strips were a flavorful surprise.

Believe it or not, after all that grazing, I found that I was still hungry for dinner. So I made my way to one of Portland's most talked about vegan food carts, Homegrown Smoker on 23rd and Alberta.

Here I treated myself to a Smoky Tempeh BBQ sandwich. Because the street was closed off to traffic for a street fair yesterday, I had to park a block away, and I could smell the smoker from that distance. The gals were really delightful, and my sandwich was decadently delicious. It was one of the tastiest BBQ sandwiches I've ever enjoyed.

I tasted their Mac and Cheese, too. Sorry no photo—I ate it too fast! ;) I gotta say that it was without a doubt, the BEST vegan Mac and Cheese I've ever had.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that all I did was eat all day! I actually attended inspiring lectures by Dr. John McDougall, Kathy Freston, and Rip Esselstyn. Dr. McDougall's talks motivated me to take my vegan life to the next level. More about that in my next post. For now, just enjoy the food!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Coco-Hazelnut Marble Cake Scones

I love scones. They're easy to make and wonderful to eat with a glass of "milk" or a cup of tea. Since the flavor possibilities are endless, I thought that making scones would be a creative way to use some of my recently acquired coconut milk creamer. The aroma of hazelnut filled the house with a heavenly fragrance while the scones were baking. They tasted divine, and I think they'll make hazelnut and chocolate lovers very happy.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread
2/3 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Hazelnut Creamer
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 425° F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl. Add Earth Balance and mix together with hands until mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of peas. Add chocolate chips and creamer, mix for a few more seconds until just moistened.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press together gently until the dough clings together in a ball. Pat into a circle about 2-inches thick and 6 inches in diameter. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. Cut into 8 wedges. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes, before separating wedges.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sweet and Sour Tempeh and ...
We Have a Winner!

I decided to dive into my copy of Colleen Patrick Goudreau's The Vegan Table last night and see what other treasures lay within its pages. (I went crazy for her Lavender Tea Cookies.)

I chose Sweet and Sour Tempeh and served it along with Dark Leafy Greens with Sesame Miso dressing as featured in her summer menu. While each dish on its own was very tasty, I don't think I'll ever serve them together again. The miso dressing was just too salty to go together well with the delightful sweetness of the tempeh dish.

I might also make the Sesame Miso Dressing with a bit less miso next time, just to take the edge off the very pronounced saltiness. I like miso, but I think the flavor of the kale I chose to use in this dish would have shone through a bit more with a little less miso. Overall, I think these recipes are quite nice, but I've learned that I often have to tweak a recipe a bit to make it more to my liking.

The Sweet and Sour Tempeh had just the right amount of sourness. The sauce was perfectly thick and rich, but I felt I needed to add just a bit more sugar for the right balance of sweetness. Alternatively, I could have used agave nectar. I also added a few more veggies to round out the flavor a bit. I added broccoli along with carrots for some nice crunchiness.

Thank you to everyone who left comments on my So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer post. You all came up with some very creative ways to use the creamer, and I can't wait to try them. I know you're going to love using the creamer as much as I do, so look for it in the refrigerated section at your local Whole Foods store over the next couple of weeks and at independent natural food stores shortly thereafter. The winner of the 5 free product coupons for their favorite So Delicious and Purely Decadent products, (chosen at random) is Ellen. Congratulations!

Friday, September 04, 2009

The New So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer:
So How Does it Taste?

I admit I’m not a big coffee drinker, and I’ve never been fond of Silk Soymilk. But I have been a fan of Silk Soy Creamer for quite some time, using it in recipes and enjoying it in my herbal coffee drinks. And as everyone knows, I am cuckoo for coconuts and all of the incredible coconut milk products Turtle Mountain has introduced thus far. So when I heard that they were coming out with a new coconut milk creamer, I got as excited as any diehard dairy-free coffee drinker.

Like Silk, So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer is available in three varieties: Original, Hazelnut, and French Vanilla. I decided to taste test each of them straight from the carton to get an idea of how they compared to the flavor of Silk. Quite honestly, I was surprised to discover that all three of the coconut milk creamers tasted even better. I didn’t think there was much room for improvement here, but leave it to the clever folks at Turtle Mountain to take these creamers to a whole new level of delicious. I even had to stop myself from drinking a full glass of the French Vanilla straight from the carton.

Now, for the real taste test: How would these coconut milk creamers taste with my Vanilla Nut Teeccino? I brewed three cups, and tried each of the flavors.

The Original was wonderful, giving the beverage a rich, creamy boost, without adding even a hint of sweetness. It’s perfect for people who prefer their cup of coffee without any sugar. The Hazelnut flavor gave my herbal brew a fragrantly nutty richness, and the French Vanilla coconut milk creamer propelled my herbal coffee beverage into another galaxy.

The next test: How will these creamers work in a recipe? I decided to try the Original flavor in a recipe for Kheer, an Indian rice pudding. The result was superb. It certainly would have made a sensational ending to my Basu’s Homestyle Indian Cuisine dinner, but I hardly had any room left for dessert that night, anyway. However, the meal did leave me with a yearning for a nice Indian sweet treat, and this yummy rice pudding is just the ticket!

Creamy Coconut Kheer

This heavenly dessert beckons the palate with aromatic cardamom seeds and rosewater. The coconut milk beverage and creamer add a subtle taste and very nice creaminess to the tender rice and intensely fragrant spices.


½ cup Basmati rice
1¼ cups water
1 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage, Original flavor
½ cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer
¾ cup evaporated cane juice crystals
¼ tsp cardamom seeds + 1/8 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp rosewater
¼ cup finely chopped pistachios


Combine rice and water in a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan. Cook on low heat until the rice is done, about 25 minutes. Add coconut milk, creamer, and evaporated cane crystals. Mix thoroughly and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add cardamom seeds and powder and continue cooking, until the mixture becomes thickened, about 10 more minutes. Remove from heat and add in rosewater. Serve warm or chilled in dessert glasses and garnish with chopped pistachios. Makes 4-6 servings.

My conclusion: Get your hands on some So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer as soon as you see it on the shelf at your local natural foods store. Take it home, and wallow in all of its creamy deliciousness.

Update: This just got really interesting! Turtle Mountain has generously offered to give me five VIP coupons good for any of their Purely Decadent or So Delicious products, including the new creamer, and I'd like to give them to one of my readers. If you'd like to win them, simply leave a comment before Tuesday, September 8th telling me why you'd like to try the new creamers and how you'd like to use them. I'll need to know how I can reach you if you win, either by email or twitter so please include your email address or twitter handle. Anyone who retweets my tweet about this contest, will receive an extra entry. One winner will receive all 5 VIPs! Good luck!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Quite Possibly the Most Delicious Meal of My Life

Basu and Robin Ghosh of Basu's Homestyle Indian Cuisine are a father-and-son team, whose passion for creating great-tasting West Bengali Indian dishes is evident in every delectable bite. Inspired by his family’s recipes and authentic cooking methods, Basu skillfully applies his engineering discipline to his culinary skills, refining each recipe again and again until it's just right. His epicurean precision is flawless, and it's no wonder he is thought of by many as the Beethoven of Indian cooking.

His latest challenge was to bust the popular myth that vegan food cannot be great-tasting. (A myth I'm fond of busting myself!) So when I was contacted to become a taste tester for Basu's, I couldn't have been more excited.

I had no idea of the pleasures that awaited my palate. I've been eating Indian food since I was old enough to drive a car, and that's more years than you can shake a stick at. I've enjoyed enormous Masala Dosas in New York, Los Angeles, and New Dehli, and a conglomeration of curries in London, Toronto, and Udaipur. But never before have I tasted anything so exquisitely enticing.

The rice and sauces arrived on dry ice in plastic bags, which I placed in my freezer until ready to prepare. Lacking the patience to try them one at a time, I decided to cook them all for one meal. What a symphony of flavors!

Pictured clockwise from the top are:

• Roasted Red Potatoes in Peanut Masala Sauce
• Sweet green peas and baby bella mushrooms in Vindaloo Sauce.
• Coconut-Roasted Vegetables in Masala Sauce. I used sweet potatoes, onions, red bell peppers, eggplant, and carrots bathed in coconut oil.

At the center of the dish is Basu's Saffron Rice, which was the perfect accompaniment to all of these recipes. And I served the meal with my iced Jungle Chai Tea.

I prepared a Channa Dal bowl with sliced cucumbers, topped with a swirl of Tamarind Chutney.

Each of the sauces are completely unique. Although Basu says he was inspired to create his Peanut Masala Sauce after Thai peanut sauces he's enjoyed, the savory flavor of his version has not a speck of coconut or sweetness. It has just the right amount of fiery kick and is perfectly peanutty. It reminded me a little of an African peanut stew.

The Vindaloo sauce tasted smoky and sultry. It would be wonderful for creating a romantic dinner. A glass of red wine, some nice hot chappati, and a few vegetable aphrodisiacs like eggplant and asparagus would go nicely with this sauce.

My Coconut Roasted Vegetables blended beautifully with Basu's creamy, rich, and fragrant Masala Sauce. This is a dish I could eat day after day and never get tired of.

The Channa Dal completely blew my mind. Like the Masala and Vindaloo Sauces, this dish tastes incredibly rich, because at its heart is Bengali garam masala, an intoxicating combination of spices, cooked with lentils, coconut, and raisins. I wondered how many fat calories I was consuming in this meal, but Basu assured me that the amount of fat in each dish is actually extremely low.

For lunch the following day, I decided to make a vegetarian thali plate out of the leftovers. Everything tasted even more delicious reheated the second day!

Basu believes that the act of cooking is about more than just filling the belly and pleasing the palate. It's also about providing emotional nourishment—a means to igniting the light in your eyes and placing a smile on your face. He says that he makes homestyle Indian cuisine that makes people dance. Well, my toes are still tapping, and it's been two days since I've enjoyed his cuisine. And yes, he has completely destroyed that silly myth about vegan food not tasting great.

If you're lucky enough to live in Southern California, Nevada, or Honolulu, you can savor Basu's Homestyle Cuisine at Whole Foods cafes. They're working on a retail product launch, and until that happens, I know I'll be dreaming about these dishes again and again. You can check out the complete line of Basu's Homestyle Indian Cuisine and read what others are saying at: