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Plant-Based Meal Plan Mini: Mushrooms (Pasta Alfredo, Minestrone, Gravy)

I’ve noticed a pattern that I fall into every fall. At the very start of it, right as there’s the first serious chill in the air, I get in the mood for all the cozy fall foods. For me, those always involve tons of root vegetables and winter squashes, and I enjoy them very, very thoroughly for the next month or two. That must be why I’m generally already sick of roasted root vegetables and almost can’t look at another squash right around the holidays. Meanwhile, there’s still January, February, and March (maybe even some of April?) to endure. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this :)


Thankfully, there are mushrooms. They have all the elements needed for fall/winter cooking: they are earthy, versatile, satisfying, do well with wintery preparations, and pair well with cozy spices and herbs (and they are decidedly unlike root vegetables or squash). So today we are sharing a meal plan, consisting of 3 distinctly different, umami-bomb mains, centered around a batch of sautéed mushrooms: pasta alfredo, minestrone, and gravy with mash. And as usual, there’s a shopping list and step-by-step prep tips. Hope you guys enjoy this one!

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10 Plant-Powered Recipes for a Festive and Healthy Holiday Season

Keep your festivities light and bright without adding a spare tire around the middle. No matter what you celebrate, these plant-based holiday recipes are not only healthy — they’re also wonderfully delicious!

‘Tis the season of candy canes and cookies. But what if you’re dreaming of holidays that are healthy?

With these recipes, you can spread joy in the form of delicious, health-boosting food.

10 Plant-Based Holiday Recipes That Will Leave You Feeling Merry — From The Inside Out

These plant-based holiday recipes won’t make your belly feel like a bowl full of jelly. But they will make you (and your guests) feel jolly.

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Your Gift Guide: My absolute favorite cookbooks for 2018

What’s the reason to buy a cookbook? For me, it’s either because it’s a good story or because the author has something excellent to teach me. My favorite cookbooks become companions in my kitchen, wise chef/authors I commune with to enhance my kitchen creativity. I love books that share a unique point of view, that tell a compelling story, that are beautifully designed and have gorgeous photography.

Here’s my 2018 list of the best of the best! These would be great gifts... or fit rather nicely on your wish list. :)

NEW THIS YEAR

Ottolenghi Simple

If you have been thinking that the new Yotam Ottolenghi might be a great choice, you are SO right. I’ve been cooking out of this one a LOT and loving it. Meals are deliciously simple—made in 30 minutes or less, with 10 or fewer ingredients—and of course with his yummy Middle Eastern style.

This will fit right in with your life! A total winner.

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No-Recipe Winter Slaw with Dreamy Orange Tahini Dressing + Selling Our Home w/ my Dream Kitchen

This may or may not be news to you, but a really good slaw is easy to make when you’ve got the foundation of nicely shredded vegetables and great dressing. Come fall/winter, and all my butter lettuce and baby green salad cravings get replaced with colorful slaw cravings. Slaw just feels more suitable to winter to me, probably since I can make it with more seasonally appropriate vegetables like winter greens, cabbage, grated raw squash, carrots, apple, etc. Nature tends to provide us with exactly what we need during different times of the year, and I always try to listen to that by taking advantage of what’s in season. It’s also just exciting to switch it up. So, winter slaw will be taking the place of other salads on our table for the next few months.

Maybe you want to join in and give it a try as well? Or maybe you’re a slaw expert already. What this post is really about is the orange tahini dressing that will make any shredded raw vegetables shine, and also a little bit about the sad yet exciting fact that we are selling our home with my dream kitchen.

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How Much Courage Does It Take to Live Your Dreams? (Plus: Coconut Fudgy Oat Squares recipe)

I asked my Facebook community when in their life they’d been the most courageous. I was delighted and overwhelmed by the response this question elicited. What was surprising to me was that with the exception of just a few who wrote about physical feats, most people described pushing through emotional challenges, such as walking away from bad relationships, letting go of people and places, or jumping into the unknown to follow one’s heart. For many, it seems, this is far scarier and more rewarding than any other act of bravery.

A couple people turned the question around and asked me when I’d been the most courageous. As it turns out, I’m much better at asking questions than I am at answering them, which is probably a skill I cultivated as a schoolteacher. I was stumped. When had I been the most courageous?

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Poppyseed Dukkah-Stuffed Baked Apples with Coconut Caramel

Popping in really quickly today to share the recipe for this holiday table dessert contender – baked apples! These babies are fun to make and on the healthier side as far as desserts go, but still so satisfying and festive. They are taken up to that next level with the pockets of poppyseed dukkah cozied up inside each apple, as well as a crucial drizzle of homemade coconut caramel :D

Popping in really quickly today to share the recipe for this holiday table dessert contender – baked apples! These babies are fun to make and on the healthier side as far as desserts go, but still so satisfying and festive. They are taken up to that next level with the pockets of poppyseed dukkah cozied up inside each apple, as well as a crucial drizzle of homemade coconut caramel :D

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Gorgeous Thanksgiving sides!

Thanksgiving can be full of joy, gratitude, warmth, friends, family, and of course, good food! But it can also be an emotionally wrought holiday, especially when it comes to food.

Everyone has a favorite dish they look forward to on the table. Remember Campbell’s Classic Green Bean Casserole, created by Dorcas Reilly, Campbell Test Kitchen Manager, in 1955 that went viral in a pre-internet world? Apparently, the distinctive combined flavors of cream of mushroom soup, green beans, soy sauce, and French’s pre-cooked crispy onion rings has proved unforgettable to a multitude of Americans and is still a staple on Thanksgiving tables.

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Golden Broth Rice Noodles + Favorite Natural Cold Remedies

It seems like everyone around has been sick with a cold recently, so we thought it our duty share another recipe involving our favorite golden broth formula that’s helped numerous friends and family fight so many colds. The broth is infused with all kinds of anti-inflammatory and mineral-rich ingredients that are said to be immunity powerhouses – think ginger, turmeric, black pepper, garlic, kombu, shiitake, bay leaf, and more. It also tastes deeply nourishing and delicious, and has the most beautiful color. There are so many ways it can be served, too. Drink it on its own, use it as a base for dahl or curry, or very simply pour it over noodles and top with some seasonal vegetables, like in this recipe.



Today we are also sharing some natural cold remedies that we find to be powerful, especially when employed during the very first signs of a scratchy throat.

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The flavors and superpowers of garlic!

Are you already surrounded by people coming down with sniffles and coughs? I'm reposting one of the most potent food as medicine—and delicious!—cures I know. If you've never really taken this superfood seriously before, do it now! It will do you a world of good.

Have you been trying to ward off colds and flu as the season changes? Watching out for trick or treating vampires? Have I got the fix for you!

From one of my all-time favorite references, Healing Foods: “Native to Central Asia, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world... Sanskrit records document the use of garlic remedies approximately 5,000 years ago, while the Chinese have been using it for at least 3,000 years.” 

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Easy Homemade Cashew-Oat Yogurt

This is a recipe that we’ve been excited to share for a while! The number of plant-based yogurt options has been growing like crazy on health food store shelves, which is amazing, and I always love seeing how companies innovate in this field. Still, I rarely buy yogurt. There are a few things that I find less than ideal about it: the single-use (mostly plastic) packaging, the presence of weird ingredients or additives (gums, etc.), and/or the price, which can often be quite steep. Knowing that I can easily make really good vegan yogurt at home is another huge reason.

This recipe takes care of a few common problems that I’ve personally noticed when it comes to homemade, plant-based yogurt making: it’s not at all finicky (unlike coconut yogurt), and it’s not overly bland (looking at you, 100% cashew yogurt).

Coconut yogurt is notoriously tricky to make at home. The ingredients couldn’t be simpler (just coconut milk + probiotic), but achieving the right texture is not easy. It’s common for coconut yogurt to refuse to thicken and remain the texture of milk, albeit a probiotic one. This is when you start getting into the nuances of which brand coconut milk works and which doesn’t, and what probiotic capsules to use. Not very universal. There are some incredible coconut yogurt brands out on the market (like Anita’s and Coconut Cult), but they are very expensive, hard to find, and honestly so incredibly rich that I can only handle one spoonful at a time.

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Meal Planning for Success

When I was a young girl, I remember my mother writing a shopping list each week before we went to the market. In hindsight I realize now that she didn't just pull the ingredients randomly out of thin air; she wrote down what she needed based on her meal plan Meal planning feels passe in today's fast-paced world of eating out and taking in prepared meals.  95% of my clients do not have a meal planning practice. When they come to me they are frustrated with the weekly cooking and lost about what to eat.  Of all my culinary nutrition tips, tricks and tools, meal planning is the #1 tool I use to help clients succeed in the kitchen and in achieving their health goals.  Research has even shown that those who cook their own meals, as opposed to eating out, are happier*. 

 

WHAT IS MEAL PLANNING?

 

Meal planning is a way to organize the week's meals so that the shopping, prepping, and cooking are less stressful and more manageable. It involves a menu of what to cook, recipes (if necessary), shopping list, and some people write down how to divide up the cooking over the week so that it is not overwhelming. Like any habitual practice, one needs a plan to accomplish the task at hand.  Without a meal plan it is easy to waste food, run to the store more often than necessary, derail from a nourishing diet, and forgo cooking altogether. A little time planning each week can solve these problems.

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Being in the Flow

Do you feel like you’re butting your head up against a wall and no matter how much you try, nothing seems to come together? This is what happens when you’re out of the flow.

Do you feel at other times as though your life is miraculously unfolding in ways that far surpass your wildest dreams? This is what happens when you’re in the flow.

Like a pendulum swinging to and fro, I’ve experienced both extremes. I’ve noticed this especially on my birthday.

My 36th birthday was a disaster. I’d had my heart broken by a man who I thought had potential to be “the one.” And no amount of birthday cheer could pull me out of the dark hole I’d fallen into. My mom tried absolutely everything to cheer me up, but it was for naught. As a result of my spiraling depression, there was no flow to the day. My mom had organized a day of pampering, but somehow nothing turned out as planned. We went to Sephora to have our makeup done, but the woman was out with the flu. As we were walking down the street, my shoe broke. Things that should have been simple appeared as massive hurdles.

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Become a soup master in 9 minutes!

What could be cozier or more welcome than homemade soup? If you've never tried cultivating this admirable culinary skill before, this popular post from the archives will guide you to success! Friends, family, and YOU will be thrilled.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s soup season!

When I get that first whiff, that first little inkling of Fall, I take my big old soup pot out and I start sauteeing onions -- the beginning of broth, the foundation of soups to come, the veritable core of both health and flavor, the indescribable difference. The YUM!

I come by my love of soup making honestly. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the little girl who learned to make soup while sitting atop the kitchen counter, watching in wonder as three generations of women worked their culinary magic over my Ma’s flame-enameled Le Creuset cast iron soup pot.

There was something about soup that enchanted me from the get-go. I think I instinctively knew that soup had the power to heal not only oneself -- I always felt better after having a cup or bowl -- but others as well. At my alma mater, Northwestern University, exhausted classmates would straggle by at all hours looking for a bowl of my Nana’s chicken soup.

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Matcha Butter Balls + Changes

Hey friends! It’s been a little while. We took a break from posting, while we were in Italy hosting our first Abruzzo retreat. It was a dream come true, and we’ll be sharing more about that very soon.

Before we get into our favorite snack lately, we wanted to talk a little bit about growth and evolution as it relates to this space. We’ve been posting recipes here for close to nine years. It’s a practice that has almost unfailingly kept us inspired and excited about the daily ritual of cooking and nourishing ourselves and others. This whole blog is sort of a family album at this point, since we can pinpoint certain posts to the life events that were happening around us while cooking the dishes. It’s also surreal to be able to put something out there and know that a certain number of people will check out the recipe or even cook it in their own kitchens. It’s a special form of connection that we have with the world, and every time we hear from someone who has made and enjoyed one of the recipes is amazing. It never feels normal or old, truly.

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We’re back in the kitchen! American eating habits are changing.

Referencing the old saying, Everything old is new again—all of a sudden, cooking at home is trendy! A recent article in Bloomberg Business with data about current eating habits says,

“Home cooking would be making a comeback if it ever really went away. Restaurants are getting dinged by the convenience of Netflix, the advent of pre-made meals, the spread of online grocery delivery, plus crushing student debt and a focus on healthy eating. Eighty-two percent of American meals are prepared at home [emphasis mine]-- more than were cooked 10 years ago, according to researcher NPD Group Inc. The latest peak in restaurant-going was in 2000, when the average American dined out 216 times a year.” Read the full story.

Way back in the day, you just didn’t have a choice! You grew and cooked your food or you starved, with none of the distractions or choices that people have today. Being in the kitchen, cooking and feeding a family was a necessity. Things started shifting after World War II when convenience features and choices like frozen TV dinners manifested. Now we’re eating IN by choice, because it’s more economical and because we’re more concerned about our health and well-being.


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Avocado Soft Serve

I often buy those nets of not-yet-ripe, organic avocados to have them ripen later in the week. What ends up happening more often than not is that they all get ripe at the same time, and I can’t use them up fast enough. My solution is to mash up the avocados with some lime juice, then freeze the mash in ice cube trays to use in smoothies, quick avocado pudding and this soft serve, which we are completely obsessed with.

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What is nourishment?

In the past decade we’ve placed SO much emphasis on whole foods, clean foods, paleo vs. vegan, gluten-free, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant... I think we’re there already, don’t you? We know what healthy eating is. ENOUGH ALREADY! I want to move beyond the research, the data, the shoulds, the restrictions (and the ensuing guilt), and plant my flag right here: are you really being nourished by what you eat?

What is nourishment?

I’ll always remember the first retreat I cooked for at the Commonweal Cancer Help Program in Bolinas, California in 2000. With transient taste changes and discomfort resulting from treatment, people with cancer may eat so little they become malnourished. My challenge was to provide appealing, healing, tasty food. (In fact, this became a centerpiece of my culinary work.) It wasn’t just about nutrition; it was about comfort and nourishing these beautiful people on a very deep level. I rose to the occasion, and watching their faces as they took tentative bites and responded with closed eyes and blissful expressions was unforgettable! That’s nourishment. Deep comfort and delight. I’ve been signing my books “nourishing thoughts” ever since.

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Aid your digestion with these three Ayruvedic Chutney recipes

In Ayurveda, fruits are considered one of the purest foods that enhance ojas ( vitality, immunity and strength). They are chocked full of nutrients and vitamins and antioxidant properties. There are different types of chutneys  incorporating the six tastes and using many different types of fruits and spices. When used correctly, chutneys can aid in digestion, kindle agni and promote health. 

Typically, chutneys are rather easy to prepare. In general, the fruits and spices are blended together and served. In some cases, the spices are roasted first and then added to the blender. 

The three chutney recipes below are from Heaven’s Banquet by Miriam Kasin Hospodar.
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Top 8 Foods to Eat Every Week

This blog is the first of a three-part series on meal planning. For anyone looking to create more organization and improved quality of their weekly meals, it's important to have a solid place to start from. Have a colorful plant-based list of foods that all of the meals each week will be based around. The list below will give you enough color, variety, and flexibility to choose from seasonally. These staple ingredients are part of a Mediterranean diet, the most well researched diet, showing benefits for many of the chronic diseases the Western world faces today, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and mental illness.  Keep reading to see examples of how to apply the science into a weekly meal plan.

 

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Coconut-Ginger Eggplant Fried Rice

Our farmers market is painted with all the stunning violet and purple shades of eggplant right now. I have the hardest time choosing which eggplants to get, since they are all so different and beautiful: plump, dark ones, speckled ‘graffiti’ ones, skinny Japanese eggplants… I want to buy them all. Eggplant is definitely up there among my favorite vegetables of all time. I also know that it’s quite a polarizing one, since a lot of people don’t enjoy the flavor or find eggplant intimidating to prepare.


Whenever someone tells me they don’t like eggplant, I try to point them in the direction of my marinated eggplant recipe – it’s in our 
latest cookbook, and it impresses seemingly everyone. Eggplant is spongy and absorbent, so marinating it transforms it into this super flavorful, velvety version of itself that seriously tastes like heaven. I also really like adding eggplant to curry or ciabotta and broiling it in the oven with a miso glaze. It has so much potential to be really delicious!




This eggplant fried rice is our latest obsession. It’s weeknight-friendly, satisfying, and full of fresh, late summer flavors.
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