This Holiday Week-end Let’s Play a Game of “Instead Of”

This game is designed to challenge you to think about healthy alternatives to your usual holiday week-end food choices.  I am always surprised at how quickly people abandon their commitment to nourishing their bodies when celebrations come along.  For example, birthdays are often celebrated with rich, sugar-filled cakes covered in sugar-filled icings and laden with fats and artificial ingredients. Yet, there are wonderfully delicious, much-healthier alternatives like my Chocolate Cake made with quinoa and cacao. And, don’t get me started on the consumption of soft drinks at parties. One small can of Coke contains 39 grams of added sugar, 45 grams of sodium and 34 milligrams of caffeine. YUCK!  So, one can of coke contains more than the World Health Organization’s recommended total daily sugar intake of 25 grams of sugar (natural and added) for adults. And we give this junk to children!!!! So, to make a point:  one 12-ounce can of Coke contains 156% of an adult’s total recommended daily sugar consumption. 

Instead Of Soft Drinks

Instead of choosing beverages that have absolutely no nutritional value, way too much added sugar, and in the case of Coke that also has caffeine known to contribute to dehydration, choose one of these thirst-quenching beverages. Yes, fruit and veggie drinks have some natural sugars, so drink lots of plain or infused water and unsweetened iced sun tea throughout the day as well.

Instead of Salty Snacks

I can’t remember ever being at a celebration where these salty snacks were not a big part of the party food fare.  Potato chips (or crisps as my husband calls them) and pretzels are easy and inexpensive snack foods to serve but they are nothing but fat, sodium and empty calories. A 1-oz serving of potato chips – and, let’s be honest, who only eats 1-oz – contains 3.1 grams of saturated fat and anywhere from 170 to 215 milligrams of sodium depending on the type of chip. While sodium is important to our bodies, we get plenty of it from other more nutritious foods, so the added sodium you get from these salty snacks simply can’t be justified.

Roasted Veggies – asparagus, cauliflower, carrots – are really delicious served cold and make an awesome, healthy snack. Raw, unsalted nuts and edamame are great finger foods packed with protein and fiber; and raw veggies such as celery, carrots, red peppers, broccoli and cherry tomatoes have a great crunch and flavor factor as well as lots of vitamins and minerals to keep your body in peak shape.

Instead of Meat

Grill a delicious homemade Black-Bean Burger that is a much healthier not to mention cruelty free alternative to ground beef or hot dogs. Another tasty option is to grill some Tofurky Artisan Sausage. I love these with some grilled onions! A lovely selection of salads such a my Carrot, Cumin and Coriander Salad and Simple Summer Chickpea Salad as well as my Bits and Bobs Salad will add nutritious variety, color and texture to your meal.  Add some traditional sides such as my Picnic Perfect Potato Salad or try something new instead of a coleslaw like Wildbrine Beets & Cabbage Sauerkraut.

Wasn’t this game of “Instead Of” fun?  There are so many wonderful foods you can bring to your holiday picnic or while enjoying time with family and friends at home.  Nourishing your body is easy. Make the choice now to live without regret.


4th July



Thanksgiving Week Grocery List

Keep It Simple

Put These on Your List

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to nourish our souls by spending time with family and friends: laughing, sharing stories, listening to music,and just generally being with each other. Over the next six weeks there will be more hugs and kisses, hand holding and gentle touches than there has been the entire rest of the year!  It just feels good! While we are nourishing our souls, we need to nourish our bodies with delicious and healthy foods too. To help, I’ve prepared a quick list of items to pick up at the grocery store, most of them in-season foods that are at their peak of nutrition and easy on the budget, and a few healthier, prepared foods to help free up some time.  As with all my recommendations, I really encourage you to buy organic whenever possible.  Here is a reminder from the Environment Working Group on the top non-organic foods to avoid. 

Organic Prepared Foods


  • Squash – Red Kuri, Delicata, Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti
  • Mushrooms – Cremini, Portobello, Shiitake, Oyster
  • Onions – Red, Yellow, Leeks, Scallions, Shallots
  • Carrots
  • Beets – Yellow and Red
  • Greens – Bok Choy, Kale, Arugula
  • Tomatoes – Cherry and Roma
  • Parsnips
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Peppers – Red, Yellow, Orange, Green


  • Apples (see Dirty Dozen)
  • Fresh Cranberries
  • Dried Goji Berries
  • Lemons, Limes
  • Frozen Fruit – Blueberries, Raspberries, Peaches
  • Dates

Grains, Beans, Nuts & Seeds

  • Farro
  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Nuts – Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts, Hazelnuts (these can be ordered online for a great price and delivered to your door to save time. Check out Food to Live.)
  • Steel Cut Oats and Rolled Oats
  • Lentils, Garbanzo Beans, White Beans, Adzuki Beans, Red Kidney Beans
  • Flax Seed (ground)
  • Chia Seed

Herbs, Spices & Seasonings

  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Harissa
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutritional Yeast

Other Essentials

This may seem like a long list, but there are probably many items here you already have on hand. The idea is to keep your Thanksgiving menus simple, using whole, fresh foods whenever possible; and to use time savers like those listed in the prepared foods section above. A rule of thumb I always use at the market: if there is a label on the product I am considering, the fewer ingredients listed the better. If I can’t pronounce the ingredient list I put the product back on the shelf.

Many foods for your holiday meal can be prepared ahead of time so take advantage.  Remember, too, that many hands make light work; so ask your friends and family to help. Cooking together is a wonderful way to share time with each other.

To Do List


Can a Plant-Based Breakfast Sizzle?

There is just something about the sounds and smells of cooking that get the juices flowing. The aroma of freshly ground coffee brewing and the sizzle of breakfast cooking on the stovetop draws us into the kitchen like a bee to pollen.  You might think a sizzling, and oh by the way nutritious, breakfast can only be enjoyed on weekends, but I’m here to change your mind.

Can’t you just taste these delicious vegan sausages and (b)acon strips. The aroma in our kitchen this morning was awesome! It didn’t take long to hear the familiar sizzle and by the time our scramble was ready so were these. Just look at how appetizing this plate is. Mmmm!
Click here for our recipe for Jazzed Up Scramble.

There are several great options for Breakfast Sizzlers on the market. My favorites, featured in the outstanding photograph taken by Graham Berry @Berry Creative, are:

Benevolent Bacon by Sweet Earth Natural Foods
Fakin’ Bacon, Organic Smokey Tempeh by Lightlife
Italian Sausage & Spinach Pesto Sausage by Tofurky

Of course, these great tasting, plant-based foods are not just for breakfast. The Benevolent Bacon tastes great in a VBLT, the Fakin’ Bacon is wonderful crumbled up in a salad, and the Italian or Spinach Sausages are awesome for dinner in a pasta or with a side of veggies.

If you have tried other plant-based breakfast sizzlers and liked them, please share your experience with us. We are always on the look out for new ideas. On our schedule in the coming weeks we will be learning how to make homemade, plant-based (b)acons. This should be fun. Stay Tuned!