Simple Summer Salad

Quinoa Chickpea Salad

The summer heat is on! For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Summer is here literally and figuratively. In the desert, where we live, the temperature has exceeded 110F several times already with more HOT.HOT, HOT days to come! Cooking meals in the summer not only adds to our external discomfort, but our bodies are already pretty busy trying to manage temperature making digesting a heavy meal a burden no “body” really wants. One way to keep your kitchen cooler (saving some money on expensive air conditioning) and aid your digestive system, is to make meals that don’t require cooking. This is just one of the many awesome reasons a plant-based diet makes perfect sense. There are so many options for plant-based meals that don’t require “heat”.  Here is one very flavorful summer meal that is quick to make, perfect for a picnic or to take to work, and, most importantly, has outstanding nutrition.

Simple Summer Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Simple Summer Salad

This recipe was inspired and veganized from one of my favorite recipe books "Quinoa, The Everyday Superfood 365" by Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming. It is fresh and full of flavor - not to mention an excellent source of plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals.


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (cooled)
  • 2 19 oz cans chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 Tbsp drained capers
    For Dressing
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tsp Eden Organic Yellow Mustard
  • 3 cloves freshly chopped organic garlic
  • pinch of chili powder


  1. Prepare the dressing, blending well, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, parsley, capers and quinoa.
  3. Pour dressing over mixture and blend well.
  4. Let salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.


I like to batch cook quinoa and keep in the refrigerator or freezer so it is always handy for a quick meal like this Simple Summer Salad.

Italian Parsley is recommended for this recipe as it is very much more flavorful than curly parsley. Curly parsley also changes the texture - although that is not a bad thing!

I recommend Eden Organic Yellow Mustard because the ingredients are simple and healthier than most other options. Read labels to be sure of what you are consuming.

Capers are very flavorful but do add sodium to your meal. You will not need to, nor do I recommend, adding any additional salt to this recipe.

Chili powder adds a little "zip" to the dressing. If you like things a little spicier, try using a pinch of cayenne instead.

Quinoa RecipesThis recipe book, “Quinoa – The Everyday Superfood 365” by Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming, is one of my favorites. While not all of the recipes are Vegan, most can easily be Veganized. The very cool part of this recipe book is that is demonstrates all the incredible ways you can enjoy the SuperFood – Quinoa. Check it out.




Nutrition Information 

Quinoa – 3/4 cup

  • Excellent source of plant-based protein. In fact, quinoa provides all the essential amino acids so it is considered a “complete protein” source. One serving of quinoa supplies 8.14 grams of protein or 16% of DRI.
  • Excellent source of fiber. 5.18 grams or 21%
  • Very good source of manganese and good source of phosphorus, since, magnesium, and copper.

Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans – 1 cup

  • Excellent source of plant-based protein. 14.53 grams or 29% of your daily requirement for protein.
  • Excellent source of fiber. 12.4 grams (3.9 g soluble/8.6 g insoluble) fiber or 50% of your daily requirement.
  • Chickpeas are also a excellent source of molybdenum, folate and choline; and a good source of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

Italian Parsley – 1/2 cup

  • Excellent source of Vitamin K (554% DRI) and Vitamin C (54%DRI)
  • Good source of Vitamin A (14%), Folate (12%) and Iron (10%)


  • Good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, niacin and riboflavin.
  • Excellent source of flavonoid anti-oxidants rutin and quercetin. Rutin is known to strengthen capillaries and quecertin has been shown to have excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities. In fact the quercetin levels found in capers is second only to the quercetin levels found in tea leaves.


10 Tactics to Keep Your Immune System Fit to Fight

There is a battle going on everyday in our bodies between good and evil with the outcome determined by whether or not our immune system is fit to fight.  Some of the enemy – a few too many bad bacteria or a mild but annoying virus – might be easy to take down; but fighting off an army of bad bacteria or a viral epidemic presents the need for a more sophisticated defense strategy.

Here are 10 actions you can take to keep your immune system fit to fight:


Build up your immune system by eating organic plant-based foods every day. Organic is important here because all the pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics and hormones used in non-organic foods negatively affect your body’s natural ability to maintain good health. Your liver puts up a pretty good fight, but it can only do so much to remove these toxins from your body; so why not give your liver a break and just don’t let these noxious substances in! Did you know that the regular use (or misuse) of antibiotics in our food supply is largely responsible for the dangers we now face from antibiotic resistant bacteria?


Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, mushrooms and herbs to keep your immune system in tip-top shape.  Vegetables and fruits provide the vitamins and minerals your immune system needs.  They are rich sources of antioxidants – a special ops team that seeks out and destroys free radicals that are just waiting to cause havoc.  Veggies and fruits are full of vitamin A carotenoids, the anti-infective calvary) and vitamin C (an important side-kick to vitamin A). They also provide vitamin B6, folic acid, iron and zinc that keep our cells (thus immune system) strong. Nuts and seeds provide critical support by supplying selenium and zinc. Selenium is a component of glutathione peroxidase, an essential enzyme used by your liver to detoxify potentially harmful molecules. Zinc also helps keep our immune cells functioning at their best. Mushrooms, particularly shiitake and maitake, are excellent immune-boosting foods. There are plenty of herbs that are known to support our immune system. Some of them are  ginger, elderberry, ginseng, echinacea, garlic, larch and oregano.

h2osecurity-background-h2o2Drink water. Keeping your body hydrated has a big impact on your immune system. Your body’s systems need water to function at their best. Sufficient water intake helps to flush toxins out of your body and it helps to properly oxygenate your blood. Your body needs lymph to transport white blood cells, a critical element of your immune system, throughout your body.  Water helps your body produce lymph so if you want your white blood cells to do their job, drink water!

Get some sleep!  You can’t perform at your best when you are tired; neither can your immune system. We all know this – at least on a cerebral level, but accomplishing it is often another thing. Most sleep experts agree we need to unplug from our devices and unwind from our busy lives before we can hope to get a good night’s sleep.  There is a lot to be said for learning to meditate or practice yoga or even just be still prior to going to bed. A cup of chamomile tea might help too. Try it.

Meditation SunsetReduce stress.  There is a good reason why you hear this so often. Daily stress, the kind that we deal with at work, school, on the roadways, in our relationships… get the picture;  puts a lot stress on our bodies – especially our cardiovascular system and an enormous burden on our immune system’s ability to fight the good fight. If downtime is not already in your daily routine, schedule it! You absolutely need to disconnect, breathe deeply and relax throughout the day. There are plenty of ways to reduce stress: listen to music, dance, read a book, meditate, sit in your garden, talk to a friend, laugh out loud, smell the beautiful fragrance of blooming flowers, take a nap, hug someone…..the list is endless but none of these things will reduce stress unless you actually do them. Find what works best for you and DO IT!

sunshineCatch some rays. Vitamin D is necessary to a well functioning immune system. Vitamin D helps to regulate our immune system to prevent unnecessary or lengthy inflammatory responses to perceived threats.  Exposing your skin to the UVB rays of the sun is your body’s best, most efficient and effective source of vitamin D. (sunshine The best time of day to get the most UVB exposure is between 10 am – 2 pm.  What a great reason to get out of the office for a break and catch some rays. You will get the vitamin D you need and can reduce your stress at the same time, BONUS!
***Note: don’t overdue sun exposure – getting burnt is not cool and can put you at risk for skin cancers. Spending 10 – 15 minutes a day catching some rays should be enough.

Exercise. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to get the awesome benefits of exercise. Just move every day – walk, ride a bike, play games outdoors with your kids, do yoga, take up tennis, swim, go on a hike, climb the stairs at work……all of these activities add up throughout the day. The benefits are incredible: your heart will get stronger, your blood will circulate better, your lungs will use oxygen more efficiently, your muscles will get stronger and your digestive system will be more effective at turning food into fuel to keep you energized and healthy.  Exercise causes the release of endorphins in your brain that contribute to a feeling of well-being and help reduce stress. Exercise also helps manage weight. Put them together and all these awesome benefits to exercise help keep your immune system fit to fight.

Maintain optimum weight. Only you and your trusted health care professional can determine what the best weight is for you based on your age, body frame, and health condition; but whatever “number” you decide upon, maintaining your optimum weight will have a very positive impact on keeping your immune system strong.  Excess weight puts extra strain on your body’s systems – making your immune system work harder to keep enemies at bay.  Eating a whole food, plant-based diet, getting exercise every day, reducing/managing stress, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep will go a long way to helping you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  Your immune system will thank you for it!

If you are going to consume alcohol, do so in moderation.  Enjoying a glass of red wine or indulging in a cocktail now and again is unlikely to do much harm; but too much alcohol at one time or prolonged regular use of alcohol can do a great deal of harm. Your immune system has enough to do to keep you healthy; don’t tie it’s hands behind it’s back and expect it to do its job. Enough said.

Dont-even-think-of-it-smoking-iconDon’t smoke. I know that addiction to tobacco products is a serious problem and that quitting is very, very difficult; but the negative consequences to your health, and life for that matter, are much more difficult so quitting is really the only option. There are many, many services available to help you quit smoking – most of them free; so take advantage of them. Recruit your friends and family to help you too.  Support is key to successfully quitting smoking.  You don’t need me to tell you what smoking does to your body; but I will tell you that your body will begin to repair itself almost immediately. It will take time to fully undo the affects of smoking; but that time and effort is well worth it.

Herbs are not just for decoration anymore!

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Who hasn’t tossed a sprig of parsley on a plate or topped a dessert with a mint leaf merely for decoration?  It’s ok to admit it.  Those little pops of green do make a dish look finished, right? Truth is, I even wondered as a child why those funny little leaves were on my plate, but I didn’t venture to eat them until my sense of culinary adventure developed in my 20’s. I wonder how many thousands of pounds of parsley and mint have been scraped off restaurant plates around the world over the years!

Since I adopted a vegan lifestyle a number of years ago, I have discovered so many wonderful flavors, textures and awesome nutrition available through plant foods that I can create a new dish every day and never need to repeat the recipe. One of the categories of foods I am really excited about enjoying and experimenting with in our kitchen is herbs. However, I live in the desert, so what are the chances I will be able to find the best quality, freshest herbs worthy of serving my family and friends? Actually, the chances are excellent.

Diane & Cate

Herbs by Diane

Finding Herbs by Diane, located in Boulder City, Nevada, is like finding a treasure trove in your grandmother’s attic or a truly special gift under the Christmas tree. And, just wait until you meet Diane Greene, the owner of this beautiful, edible garden in the desert.  In my opinion, Diane is such a Southern Nevada treasure they should name a street after her!

Diane clearly loves the part she plays in providing beautiful, organically grown herbs, vegetables, microgreens and edible flowers to our Southern Nevada Community. Diane’s passion for gardening was passed down to her by her parents who involved her, as a young child, in growing healthy food and taking care of the environment. In fact, when asked why she continues in this business that takes a good deal of patience and hard work, she responds with a chuckle and says “I’ve always loved playing in the dirt”.

In the GreenhouseWe met Diane at her Boulder City garden last Friday morning, while she was busy getting orders ready for her regular customers to pick up and preparing for her weekly Saturday farmers market table at Fresh52 @ Tivoli Village in Summerlin. While Diane and her team were busy, she was delighted to show off her gardens and green house, and proudly conveyed she supplies 8 local, very prestigious Las Vegas Strip restaurants with her fresh garden bounty. In fact, the next time you are enjoying a world-class meal at Harvest by Roy Ellamar at Bellagio Las Vegas you will know you are enjoying some of Diane’s delicious herbs.


In the Greenhouse-3My husband and I are huge fans of microgreens.  Diane’s microgreens will make you a fan too.  The flavor that is packed into these tiny little plants is unbelievable! Diane let us taste the pea shoots, sunflower greens and radish greens – WOW! Talk about a flavor punch! You just have to add these to your salads or sandwiches, you will not believe what a difference they will make – not to mention how much added nutrition that your body will benefit from.

In the GardenIt is hard to believe delicate lettuces can grow in our harsh desert climate, but Diane’s gardens are brimming with lettuce at various stages of maturity. Just imagine the flavor you’ll get from a salad made from lettuce picked fresh from the garden rather than picked then transported over hundreds of miles by truck only to be packed onto store shelves for days.  The variety of greens you could use for your salad is fantastic: how about fresh basil, chives, parsley, verbena and maybe some sorrel. Oh, and don’t get me started on the edible flowers Diane has to offer.  OK, full disclosure – Until last Friday, I’d never tasted fresh sorrel before. I’m pretty sure Diane was amazed by my confession, but I am so glad she offered to give me a taste. Sorrel has a lovely, tart, almost lemony flavor that will take your next salad to a whole other level. Try it! Really, just try it!

Here are several good reasons to buy your herbs, microgreens and edible flowers from Herbs by Diane:

  • Diane’s produce is organically grown
  • Diane’s produce is freshly picked for you to enjoy
  • Diane’s herbs, veggies, microgreens and edible flowers are very healthy additions to your whole food, plant-based diet
  • Herbs by Diane is a local, small business that deserves our support

To contact Diane, send her an email at You can check out the products she has to offer at Like her page on FaceBook or stop by her booth indoors at the Fresh52 Farmers’ Market at Tivoli Village every Saturday from 9 am – 2 pm.

A heart shape held in hands February is heart health month. Herbs provide many unique antioxidants, essential-oils, vitamins,  and other nutrients that can contribute to good health. Did you know that parsley, that little green leaf so often thought of as just decoration, is actually an excellent source of Vitamins A,C and K and a very good source of folate and iron. Basil is also an excellent source of Vitamin K and is considered an anti-inflammatory food. Cilantro, one of my favorite herbs, is an excellent heart-healthy choice too. Bonus – herbs are very low in calories so enjoy liberally.

Turmeric Latte – It Tastes Too Good to be Healthy!

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately learning about herbs and spices and how they can have a profound and positive effect on our health. They have been used for thousands of years, mostly in Eastern and Native American cultures, to support human health. In recent years, Western medicine has finally begun to realize pharmaceuticals are not the right answer and perhaps we have simply been ignoring what we already know. Finally, the movement among Western medical practitioners to return to Hippocrates’ conviction that food should be our medicine is growing exponentially every day .  Study after study proves a whole food plant based diet, including thousands of herbs and spices, is the best option to promote and maintain wellness and often the best alternative to remedy most illness.

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Below is a recipe for Turmeric Latte. It tastes so good you will have a hard time believing it could be  good for you! Enjoy it anytime of day but it’s good to know this is one delicious drink you can have before bed that won’t keep you up. You can enjoy this drink hot or cold. It is easy to make and a wonderful alternative to coffee.  Here are some interesting facts about Turmeric that will add incentive to include this wonderful spice in your daily diet:

  • Turmeric is revered in Ayurvedic medicine as a cleanser for all the body’s systems.
  • Turmeric is an excellent source of manganese, a mineral that helps protect our cells from free radicals, keeps our bones strong & healthy, supports normal blood sugar levels, optimizes the function of our thyroid gland, and helps keep our nerves healthy.
  • Turmeric is an excellent source of iron. Iron facilitates the efficient distribution of oxygen in our bodies, supports our immune system and helps us produce energy.
  • Curcumin, the phytonutrient in turmeric that gives it such a beautiful yellow color, has long been considered an extremely effective anti-inflammatory. Many studies have shown the positive effects of curcumin on patients with digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as patients with joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Recent heart-health research has shown promising results in subjects consuming curcumin and the reduction of total cholesterol.
  • Turmeric is what gives curry and mustard its yellow color!

Turmeric Latte

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 - 4 servings

Turmeric Latte

I use homemade soy milk for this recipe. If you use store bought soy milk, I recommend unsweetened . If you buy sweetened soy milk you will not need the maple syrup.

The whole family can enjoy this delicious drink.


  • 1 Tsp dried turmeric
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups soy milk
  • 1 Tsp organic maple syrup (optional)


  1. Over medium high heat, whisk together turmeric and water.
  2. Bring just to the boil, then reduce to simmer.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes - whisking often.
  4. Add soy milk
  5. Add maple syrup if desired
  6. Whisk until heated through. The whisking will create the latte foam.
  7. Pour and serve hot or refrigerate.


NOTE: Take care as Turmeric will stain your clothes, cloths and counter.

A heart shape held in hands February is Heart-Health Month. Your heart works hard, make sure you take care of it by eating a Whole Food Plant Based Diet (WFPBD), get some exercise, minimize stress and get enough sleep.
Interest Heart Facts
***The average heart beats about 4400 times per hour, 100,000+ times per day, 32,000,000+ times per year.
***Your heart will pump approximately 1,000,000 barrels of blood through your body during an average lifetime.