Monday, April 21, 2014

Dessert Hummus-Shared with permission from Carrie/Vegan Delish app


  • 1 1/2 cups medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups canned cannellini beans
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon carob powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon maca powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon


1. Combine dates and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, or until the dates have softened and started to break apart. Remove from heat.
2. If your dates are very soft, then you may not need to boil them. In this case, you can simply soak them in hot water for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the food processor.
3. Combine beans, almond butter, carob powder, vanilla extract, non-dairy milk, maca powder, and cinnamon in a food processor. Add cooked or softened dates and water. Process ingredients until smooth, using a spatula to scrape down the sides. Serve at warm temperature or chilled.

When I first saw this recipe, I could not imagine what a dessert hummus would taste like.  It is delicious!!  Very easy to make, which is a plus.  I found the carob powder and the maca powder at the health food store.  I served this topped with strawberries and unsweetened coconut. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Four year anniversary of leading a healthy lifestyle!

                          "Why don't you just lose weight?"

This question was addressed to me by a Doctor, as I sat on an exam table, wearing nothing but a paper gown.  This woman probably weighed all of 110 pounds, soaking wet.
I had tipped the scales that morning at 298 pounds, which wouldn't be a problem if I was a 6'5" defensive lineman, but I am a 5'2", middle aged homemaker.  At this weight I used to joke and say that I was as wide as I was tall.  My blood pressure was 130/90 that morning.  My Doctor informed me that I would need medication if my blood pressure continued to rise.  I would also learn, after blood test results came back, that my cholesterol was high. 

I left the Doctor's office in tears.  I felt fat and disgusting.  Knowing the health risks I was up against because of my weight, still did not motivate me to lose weight.  I had been overweight my whole life.  This was how I was meant to be.  Losing weight was impossible...or was it?

As I sit here this morning, thinking back to that morning in the Doctor's office, I am overcome with emotions.  My tears are not from sadness, but from joy.  Looking back at the life that I led when I weighed 298 pounds: unhappy, very low energy, tired all the time, not being able to fit comfortably, (or at all) into restaurant booths, chairs, and movie seats, not being able to walk up the stairs in my home without being left breathless, aches and pains, and not being able to find clothes that would fit me, compared to the life I lead now: healthy, energetic, enthusiastic, happy and fit, I wonder why I waited so long to make the lifestyle change towards health and wellness.  It's not that I didn't want to be healthy and fit, or enjoy living in a society that is designed around thin people.  I was overwhelmed with the idea of losing 100 plus pounds.  I didn't think I was strong enough or could make the drastic changes that I would need to in order to lose weight.  At that weight, my diet consisted of a lot of fast food, processed food, very little fruits or vegetables, and a lot of sweets and desserts.  I felt that losing weight was hopeless. 

As many of you know, my husband was the first one to make changes towards a healthier lifestyle, after reading the book, "The End of Overeating" by Dr. David Kessler.  I have admitted to him that when he first decided to make these changes, I was mad...not mad at him, but mad at myself because I didn't think I would be able to make changes as well.  If it wasn't for him, I would not be where I am today.  I've been asked if I had an "AH-HA" moment that made me decide to lose weight, but I think I had more of a small thump on the head!  After watching him for about three months, something clicked in my head...I saw him eating healthy, well proportioned meals and going on daily walks.  These changes were resulting in weight loss and a higher level of energy.  I should not have been surprised, but I was.  We live in a society where we are surrounded by ads for fad diets, diet pills, cleanses, etc.

"About 95% of fad diets fail", says Julie Garden-Robinson, food and nutrition specialist at NDSU.  "Put another way, only 5% of dieters are able to maintain a significant weight loss, which means a drop in weight equaling 10% or more, of what they weighed before they began dieting".

"Making positive lifestyle choices, such as exercising and healthy eating, can prevent illness and help you live longer, leading experts say.  Healthy choices you make now can help you feel better and prevent health problems before they occur.  Food fads and diet trends come and go, but healthy eating and exercise have been proven time and again to be the basics of having a longer life expectancy." -Jessica Cooke,

 We come to believe that this is the only way that weight loss can be obtained.  If we go back to the basics of good nutrition, and are mindful of our proportions, weight loss is possible.  It took me two years of hard work, dedication, and a lot of sweat, to lose 150 pounds. I have maintained my weight for the past two years, by continuing to be very mindful of what I eat and by exercising six days a week, using the Leslie Sansone Walk at Home program.  

 It is not unusual to find me with my head buried in a cookbook, getting really excited over a new recipe that has been added to my favorite Vegan Delish app, or reading an article on health, wellness, and fitness.  If someone would have told me five years ago that I would become a health nut, I would have laughed out loud! Sharing my weight loss story has resulted in many new friendships, and I cherish each and every one of them.  I receive messages from people that I did not even know were aware of who I was, telling me that because of me, they have changed their lifestyle and are seeing results from these changes.  I am honored to be called an inspiration, and hope to continue inspiring others to not be afraid of taking that first step towards a healthier lifestyle. 

Here's to many more years of good health!!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Mac & Cheese- Isa Does It Cookbook

Serves 4
2 tsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 tsp. salt, plus a pinch
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces elbow macaroni or other small pasta (I used a brown rice pasta.)
3/4 C cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
2 C vegetable broth
1 1/2 T organic cornstarch
1 T nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
1 roasted red pepper
1 T tomato paste (I found tomato paste in a tube recently.  It really comes in handy when you only need a small amount.)
1 1/2 tsp. pizza seasoning- or use 1/4 tsp. fennel seeds or ground fennel, 1/4 tsp. dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, and 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric

Preheat a 2 quart sauce pot over medium heat and add the oil (I used a little bit of water in place of the oil), sauté the onions in the oil with a pinch of salt for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or so, and transfer to a blender or food processor.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for cooking the pasta.  Once boiling, cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain, return to the pot, and set aside.
Drain the cashews and add them to the blender along with the broth, cornstarch, nutritional yeast (if using), red pepper, tomato paste, pizza seasoning, remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt, dry mustard, and turmeric.  Blend until very smooth.
Transfer the sauce in the blender back to the sauce pot in which you cooked the onions.  Turn the heat to medium and let cook, stirring very often, until thickened.  This should take 10 to 15 minutes.  Taste for salt.
Add the sauce to the pasta in the pot and use a large slotted spoon to mix well, taking care not to break the pasta.  Serve.
I served the pasta topped with some Vegan "pepperoni", and black beans.  Roasted zucchini and eggplant on the side.  Delicious!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Island Black Bean Burgers-Isa Does It Cookbook

Black Bean Burgers
1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can of black eyed peas, ( I used pinto beans) rinsed and drained
1/2 C finely chopped red bell pepper
1 C finely chopped scallions ( I used about a Tablespoon of chopped, dried onions instead of the scallions)
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon plus 2 tsp. Jamaican curry powder ( I used about a Tablespoon of regular curry powder instead of the Jamaican)
1 tsp salt
1/4 C vegetable broth
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 C panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a medium bowl, use a small potato masher (or a strong fork) to mash the beans.  They should be good and mushy but not totally pureed, with a few beans still identifiable in the mix.
Add the red pepper, scallions, cilantro, curry powder, salt, broth, and lime juice and mix well.  Mix in the panko bread crumbs until it all holds together.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes or so. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Form the burger mixture into 8 patties that are about 1 inch thick.  You can spray the parchment paper with olive oil spray and then spray the tops of the burgers as well.  I didn't do this and they turned out fine.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Flip the burgers and bake for 12-15 more minutes, or until nicely browned. 
These are very easy and quite tasty!  I've made them twice.  The first time I served them on whole wheat flat buns with cashew "mayo".  Last night I served them on top of wild rice and then added some of the cashew sauce on top.  Butternut squash and Brussels sprouts on the side.  Both of the cashew recipes are listed on my blog.  Another option is to serve with nectarine salsa, which is included in the same recipe book that I got the burger recipe from.  The salsa recipe is as follows:
2 nectarines, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 C. finely diced red onion
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 T fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp agave nectar
Simply mix everything together in small bowl. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Oh, what you can do with cashews!

Here are a couple of recipes using raw, unsalted cashews as the base.  It's very easy to transform them into a creamy base for soups and sauces.

Cashew "Mayo"- recipe found on
This "mayo" is the consistency of ricotta cheese.  It's very good on tofu, mixed in with veggies, rice, etc.  It's also good on crackers or as a dip for veggies.  Use whatever spices you would like.  It would be good mixed with berries or jam, (substituting the vegetable broth with apple juice)  to use as a topping on toast or bagels. 

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp Dried Thyme leaves
1 tsp Crushed Rosemary
1 tsp Tarragon leaves

Place the cashews in a bowl, cover with water and refrigerate for at least two hours. Rinse and drain the cashews, place in blender with the vegetable broth and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Place mayo in bowl and add spices. Mix well.

Cashew sauce for rice, veggies, etc.- This recipe comes from my "Isa Does It" cookbook.

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews, covered with water and soaked in refrigerator for at least two hours.
2 cups vegetable broth
1 T coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, very finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T minced fresh ginger (I used about 1/8 tsp ground ginger)
1 T mild curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 (14 ounce) can lite coconut milk
3 T tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 cup frozen peas ( I don't like peas, so I used edamame)

Drain the cashews and add them to a blender along with the broth. Blend until smooth. Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil. Sauté the onion in the oil for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for 15 seconds or so. Add the curry powder, garam masala, and cumin and toss for a minute or so, just to toast the spices a bit. Add the coconut milk, tomato paste, blended cashews, and salt. Bring to a low simmer and let cook for 15 minutes or so. Add the peas and let them warm through.