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



Asparagus – I adore this awesome antioxidant-rich veggie


Asparagus is one of my very favorite veggies.  As a warm side dish or a cold snack, fresh asparagus is so delicious, has a satisfying crunch, and for a bonus, is packed with awesome nutrition. I even loved asparagus as a child – mom didn’t need to keep telling me to eat this vegetable!  Fresh asparagus is now available in many farmers’ markets and shops, and as this is the season for asparagus, the price is great. I purchased 2 pounds of fresh organic asparagus for a dinner party this week and paid only $1.99 per pound.  There was plenty for all six of us and enough left over to send in my husband’s lunch the next day.


  • Excellent source of Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C & Vitamin A
    Vitamin K supports bone health, helps your blood to clot normally, and protects your cells from oxidative damage. Folate supports our circulation and prevents our blood from high levels of homocysteine (associated with cardiovascular disease). Folate also helps make red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout our bodies, supports cell production( i.e. skin cells, intestinal cells), and provides critical support to our nervous system. Vitamin C offers excellent antioxidant protection, regenerates our vitamin E supplies, assists with iron absorption and is believed to lower cancer risk.
  • Protein and Fiber
    Yes, asparagus is a very good source of protein – 4.7 grams per cup. The cool thing is, this awesome plant food also supplies 2.9 grams of fiber per cup – animal protein does not offer any fiber (just sayin’).
  • Other Nutrients
    Asparagus is a very good source of Thiamin, Riboflavin and Niacin – important B vitamins; phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese.  It is also a good source of iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium and calcium.

It is remarkable that such a small, unassuming plant can be so powerful, right? Now, here’s even better news: asparagus is a very low calorie food too.  There are only 43 calories in a 1-cup serving.  So to recap: you get great flavor and texture, awesome nutrition and almost no calories. Who wouldn’t like that?

The best way to prepare asparagus is to cook only until it is al dente. Asparagus is great on the grill, but I like it roasted. Here is my simple recipe for delicious roasted asparagus that is awesome warm or cold.  Enjoy!

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6

Serving Size: 4 - 5 stems

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest

Roasted asparagus is great cold so add it to your packed lunch. It is delicious in a salad too. Of course, it makes a wonderful side dish for a light lunch or dinner. For a slightly fancier and even more nutritious side dish, toss the cooked asparagus with slivered almonds.


  • 1 lb fresh, organic asparagus - washed and thick ends removed
  • Organic Virgin Olive Oil (only enough to very lightly coat asparagus)
  • Lemon Zest ( I prefer to use Meyer Lemons)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy clean-up)
  3. Add oil and lemon zest to glass baking dish
  4. Add asparagus and coat evenly
  5. Spread evening on baking sheet - leave room between each stem for even cooking
  6. Roast for 10 minutes - until just al dente
  7. Serve warm as a side dish or cool and refrigerate for a snack


Don't overcook asparagus. Cooking too much will deplete all the incredible nutrients this wonderful vegetable offers. No one likes mushy asparagus so less is definitely more when cooking.

Thanksgiving Appetizers Simplified

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Keep It SimpleWhat a wonderful time of year! The next six weeks will be a whirlwind of activities in millions of households with the very best aspect being time spent with family and friends.  In almost every modern culture, food plays an important role in the traditions surrounding our various celebrations. However there is, unfortunately. a dark side to our special holiday meals that most of us are aware of, but we choose to hide in the back of the pantry because we don’t want to be known as “that person whose guests left the table hungry”. The average Thanksgiving dinner weighs in at a hefty 3000 calories: add to that the likelihood your guests may have a few cocktails, some early snacks, and your lovingly prepared appetizers; and the Thanksgiving meal calorie count could easily tip 4500 calories.  YIKES, That is more than double what the average adult should consume in an entire day! Perhaps, in an effort to simplify Thanksgiving, we could cut back on the quantity of food, pay extra attention to healthy food choices, and focus more on the conversation around the table than breaking caloric intake records.  Just a thought!

Here are some simple, delicious appetizer recipes that will do what appetizers are meant to do – stimulate our appetites for the main event – but they won’t break the calorie bank.

Roasted Carrot Ginger Soup

Thanksgiving Appetizers Simplified

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 8 - 10

Serving Size: 3/4 - 1 cup

Thanksgiving Appetizers Simplified

Appetizers are designed to whet the appetite. Recommended serving size for this delicious soup as an appetizer is no more than 1 cup.

Ginger and cumin are delicious and are known to help support good digestion.


  • 3 lb scrubbed carrots (trim ends but do not peel)
  • 4 - 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 3/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 cup homemade cashew cream
  • 5 cups vegan vegetable broth
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Organic Olive Oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Spread carrots out on large, lightly oiled baking sheet. Season lightly with salt & pepper. Drizzle olive oil over carrots. Roast for approximately 45 minutes. Turn carrots about half-way through cooking time. When carrots are just tender, remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Cut cooled carrots into chunks. Place in large food processor.
  4. Add garlic, ginger and 3 cups broth to food processor and puree until smooth.
  5. Transfer carrot puree to large, heavy cooking pot.
  6. Add remaining broth, cumin and coriander. Let simmer stirring occasionally.
  7. Just before you are ready to serve, add cashew cream and heat through.
  8. Serve in small appetizer-sized bowls. Garnish with a mint or parsley leaf if desired.

 Jazzed Up Tabouleh

Jazzed Up Tabouleh

Jazzed Up Tabouleh

Using the freshest ingredients available will ensure this lovely dish is at its best. Don't limit yourself to the more common white cauliflower; have some fun and substitute beautiful purple or orange cauliflower. I especially love the texture and color of Romanesco cauliflower. Whichever cauliflower you choose, the crunch and flavor simply elevates Tabouleh to a new level. Coriander is the unexpected ingredient here and adds a lovely, unique flavor. I use the sea salt with sea veg because it adds additional nutrition; but regular sea salt will also do the trick.The BONUS feature of this salad is it is very low in calories and high in nutrition. Enjoy!


  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower florets (remove tough core)
  • 2 cups tomatoes - we used red, yellow & white cherry & grape tomatoes sliced in quarters and halves
  • 2 large bunches of fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • 4 green onions - white part for salad green part for garnish
  • 1 large English cucumber - diced (no need to peel)
  • 3 tbsp fresh mint - chopped
  • 1/3 cup organic olive oil - extra virgin
  • 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (add more to taste if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp Maine Coast Sea Seasoning (sea salt & sea vegetables)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  1. Chop parsley, mint, cucumber, and green onions.
  2. Slice tomatoes
  3. Pulse cauliflower florets in food processor (S blade) until desired consistency. Do not over process.
  4. Transfer above ingredients to large bowl.
  5. Add olive oil & lemon juice. Toss gently.
  6. Mix salt, coriander, and pepper together, Add to bowl. Toss gently.
  7. Refrigerate for several hours to blend flavors.
  8. Sprinkle with green onion garnish.
  9. Serve.

Garlic Lovers Edamame Hummus

Garlic Lovers Edamame Harissa Hummus

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 18 minutes

Yield: Serves 8 as an Appetizer, Serves 4 as a light entree.

Incredibly delicious and nutritious, this recipe is a tasty alternative to traditional hummus. It is really quick and easy to prepare with minimal clean up. It's fun to change things up a little. This is great for an appetizer or as a light lunch with plenty of protein & antioxidants, and is loaded with vitamins A, B6, & C.


  • 1 lb edamame - shelled (frozen is ok)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste (adds a great kick - adjust to suite your taste)
  • 2 large red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut in strips (orange bell pepper also works)


  1. Prepare edamame (thaw, shell, wash). Add beans to saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to boil for 3 minutes, remove from heat, strain in colander and rinse with cold water.
  2. Place edamame, prepared garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, salt, pepper, harissa paste, and peppers in food processor. Pulse, adding 1 tbsp of water at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
  3. Transfer mixture to serving bowl and cover. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight if possible.
  4. Serve with fresh raw veggies such as carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber or your favorite vegan breads or crackers.