Friday, June 1, 2018


Best Blog Tips

This is my new favorite seitan recipe.  It's easy to make, has more fiber than most seitan, is tender and flavorful, and is very versatile.  The finished cutlets can be cut into cubes for stews and into strips for stir-fries.  I haven't tried this yet, but I think it would also make great sausages-- in fact, when my friend Tanya tasted this seitan in an Italian roasted stew (p. 172 in my vegan Italian cookbook, "Nonna's Italian Kitchen" ) that I made for a birthday potluck, she thought it was chunks of vegan Italian sausage!

So that will be my next experiment, maybe with the addition of some different or additional  seasonings.  If it turns out well, I'll post about it, for sure.

Enough said-- here's the recipe!

Cutlets ready to cook, or to cut up for stews or stir-fries

Cutlet coated with Seasoned Flour, browned in a little oil and served with vegan gravy and sauteed mushrooms and onion
Printable Copy

Servings: 9
Yield: Makes 9/ 4 oz cutlets, or 36 oz. of seitan in total

I usually make 3 times this recipe (makes 27 cutlets-- see below for 3 x the recipe) and freeze them.  They can be used as cutlets for a quick meal, or they can be cut into chunks for stews, or into slices for stir-fries and sautéed dishes, etc.

Dry Mix:
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic granules or powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme or sage (or a mixture)
Wet Mix:
1 3/4 cups water
1 Tbs vegan broth powder (use a tasty one)
2 Tbs soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup fresh (or thawed frozen) okara (pulp from making soymilk or tofu) OR mashed cooked or canned (rinsed and well-drained) white beans
NOTE: you could use other types of beans, if you wish.
Cooking Broth:
2 1/4 cups water
4 tsp mushroom powder
NOTE: I grind dry, stemmed Chinese black mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms in a dry blender to make the powder.
4  tsp tasty vegan broth powder
4 tsp soy sauce or tamari
4 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs ketchup (can be an organic brand)
1 Tbs olive oil or dark sesame oil (or a mixture)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 Tbs dried sage
1/4 to 1/3 tsp paprika

Mix the Dry Mix ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.

Mix the Wet Mix ingredients together in a pitcher.  Pour into the Dry Mix and combine with a spoon.  Knead for a few minutes, until a cohesive dough results.  Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, mix your Broth ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off and cover.
Remove the dough from the bowl and flatten it out into a more-or-less even rectangle.  Cut with a bench knife/dough scraper or a knife into 9 fairly even chunks.  

It's preferable to weigh the chunks, so, if you have a kitchen scale use that to make 4 oz. chunks.  If there is any dough left over after weighing, divide it evenly between the chunks and knead it in.

To form the cutlets, pat out each chunk on a silicone mat or clean counter (dampen your hands with water) until you have a fairly thin rectangle. Fold it in half one way and in half the other way.  Pat it again to make a cutlet about 1/4" thick.  It doesn't have to be an even shape, but even thickness is preferable.

On the left is the cutlet before folding; on the right is after folding and patting out again.
Simmered cutlets

Bring the Broth to a boil and slip the cutlets into the Broth one at a time.  It's okay if they overlap a bit and if you have more than one layer.  Turn the heat down to Low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, uncover and let it cool for a bit.

Carefully remove from the pot-- you may have to use a small spatula or table knife to gently pry some of them apart.  

Finished cutlets
Store in single layers between sheets of baking parchment in a large, flat freezer container with a tight lid.

These will keep for about a week in the refrigerator, or for several months in the freezer.

To cook and serve the cutlets:

You can coat the fresh or thawed-out cutlets in Seasoned Flour (see below for recipe) and sauté in a little oil in a heavy frying pan until golden and crunchy on both sides, OR coat with Seasoned Flour, then dip in soy or hemp milk that has been tcurdled to thicken by adding a bit of lemon juice (so that it's like buttermilk), then coated with whole grain dried breadcrumbs, such as whole wheat panko breadcrumbs.  Shallow-fry in a frying pan until golden and crunchy, or air-fry.  Serve either way with a sauce of your liking, or plain with your favorite accompaniment.

The cutlets can also be cut into chunks and sautéed briefly to use in a stew.  They can also be cut into slices for stir-fries, or into thinner pieces (cut horizontally) for scallopine, sautéed and cooked in a sauce.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per cutlet): 158 calories, 21 calories from fat, 2.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 366.9mg sodium, 261.3mg potassium, 15.1g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 1g sugar, 20.5g protein, 4.2 points.



Dry Mix:
4 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 Tbs. onion powder
1 Tbs. garlic granules or powder
1/2 Tbs. dried thyme or sage (or a mixture)
Wet Mix:
5 1/4 cups water
3 Tbs. vegan broth powder (use a tasty one)
6 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cups fresh (or thawed frozen) okara (pulp from making soymilk or tofu) OR mashed cooked or canned (rinsed and well-drained) white beans
NOTE: you could use other types of beans, if you wish.
Cooking Broth:
7 cups water
1/4 cup mushroom powder
NOTE: I grind dry, stemmed Chinese black mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms in a dry blender to make the powder.
1/4 cup tasty vegan broth powder
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
1/4 cup minced garlic
3 Tbsp. ketchup (can be an organic brand)
3 Tbsp. olive oil or dark sesame oil (or a mixture)
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 Tbsp. dried sage
3/4-1 tsp. paprika

Proceed as directed in main recipe (use a large bowl), making 27/ 4 oz. cutlets. Cook in 2 large pots, each with a metal rack at the bottom of the pot.

(This mixture is also useful for coating tofu, tempeh and seitan before pan-frying or broiling.)

2 cups whole wheat flour 
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic granules or powder
1 tsp paprika or smoked paprika

 Mix well and store in a tightly-covered container in your pantry.


Friday, May 18, 2018


Best Blog Tips

It's still rhubarb season and that might cause a dilemma if you, like myself, are trying to eat far less sugar than in the past and stick to a low-glycemic way of eating (in my case, for pre-diabetes).  But I wasn't about to let that luscious, organic, local, high-fiber rhubarb go to waste!

I decided to make a "crumble" (or "crisp"), but with far less sugar, and with a crumbled topping of low-glycemic, high-fiber and high-protein flours and grains.  I added some apples to the rhubarb, for natural sweetness, and then used only a small amount of lower-glycemic maple syrup and/or agave nectar instead of the customary sugar.  I was a bit worried that the results would be on the sour side, but, actually, it was perfect and our guests loved it. This recipe contains fewer calories and far less total sugars than my former favorite recipe, as well as less fat, sodium and carbohydrates, and more fiber and protein.

Printable Recipe

Servings: 8

6 cups diced rhubarb
3 medium  sweet eating apples (with peel), chopped
1 Tbs lemon juice
4 1/2 Tbs agave nectar or maple syrup
2 tsp cornstarch
1 cup  rolled oats or quick oats (slightly heaping)
3/4 cup oat flour  (You can simply blend oatmeal in a dry blender to make flour.)
6 Tbs chickpea flour (besan) or soy flour (or white bean or urad dal flour)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (or other nut or seeds of your choice)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp grated nutmeg
3/8 tsp ground allspice
3/8 tsp salt
4 Tbs melted vegan butter
3 Tbs maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil an 9 x 9" baking dish.

Mix together the Fruit Mixture ingredients in a medium bowl and toss well to evenly coat the fruit.  Spread evenly in the prepared baking pan.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the flours, oats, nuts or seeds, spices and salt.  Add the melted vegan butter and syrup and mix well with a fork.

Distribute the Crumble ingredients over the fruit, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, or so, or until the crumble is golden brown.

Divide into 8 dessert dishes and serve with vegan yogurt or Gay Lea Real Coconut Whipped Cream (only 2 g sugar and 2 g fat in 1/4 cup), or topping of your choice.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 308 calories, 116 calories from fat, 13.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 71.7mg sodium, 508.6mg potassium, 43.5g carbohydrates, 6.3g fiber, 16.1g sugar, 7.2g protein, 8.9 points.


Saturday, May 5, 2018


Best Blog Tips

One of our island friends-- an amazing gardener-- gifted us with a huge bag of rhubarb from her garden.  I normally would have no problem finding some yummy desserts to make with the rhubarb, but now that I have to eat a low-glycemic diet for pre-diabetes (which means very little sugar) I wasn't sure what to do with it.  After some thought and recipe searches, I decided to try making a spicy low-sugar chutney, using some apple, dried raisins (raisins are high in fiber, which lowers the glycemic load) just a little bit of lower-glycemic syrup.  (PS: I don't like stevia, and I prefer not to use artificial sweeteners.)

My first effort was a success!  I used only 1/2 cup of syrup in a recipe that made about 2 qts.of chutney, it was quick to make and is delicious.  No thickener was necessary, either.  It could  be water-bath canned, but I froze mine.

Printable Recipe


Makes about 2 qts. or 64/ 2 T. servings

8 cups diced rhubarb
3 cups diced apple (with the skin)
2 cups raisins (You could also use dried cranberries, which would make the chutney more red.)
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup water
1/2 cup organic maple syrup or organic agave syrup
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
8 tsp. balsamic vinegar (I prefer Costco's Kirkland  Signature brand, which is affordable, yet aged for 3 years and contains no wine vinegar or caramel color, unlike the 60-day-aged supermarket IGP brands. See
1 tsp. EACH ground allspice, salt, red pepper flakes and mustard powder
1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Mix everything together in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and simmer (uncovered) for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until it has thickened (it will thicken more when cooled).  Cook for about 5 minutes more and turn off the heat. Cool and spoon into sterilized 8 oz. canning jars. Water-bath can (see directions here) or freeze.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 2 T. serving): 30 calories, less than 1 calories from fat, less than 1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1.7mg sodium, 96.4mg potassium, 7.6g carbohydrates, less than 1g fiber, 5.3g sugar, less than 1g protein, 0.9 points.


Saturday, April 28, 2018


Best Blog Tips

Yesterday, I didn't get around to thinking about what to make for dinner until late afternoon. Rummaging through the fridge for ideas, I saw the black beans that I had cooked the day before, and decided to make a bean stew of some sort, to go with the cooked rice I had in the freezer, and the kale I had picked out of the garden.

Finding some red and green bell peppers, a sweet potato, and some unique new seitan that I made a few days before (see the note about where to find the recipe in the ingredient list of the recipe below) gave me the idea for a spicy black bean and roasted vegetable stew, which resulted in this recipe.

It was a hit-- my husband declared it his favorite bean stew to date! And what's not to like?  Spicy, hearty, full of vegetables and protein and good flavors.  I hope you'll give it a try.

Printable Copy

Serves 6 to 8

Roasted or Broiled Vegetable/Seitan Mixture:
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into approximately 3/4” chunks
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into approximately 3/4” chunks
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4” chunks
2-3 cups of seitan strips (Or, alternatively, you could use reconstituted Soy Curls™️, smoked tempeh or smoked tofu instead.)
(For the seitan, I used the “Pulled Phauxrk” [pronounced like “fork”] recipe from, which is amazing!)
about 2 tablespoons of dark sesame oil
smoked sweet or hot paprika
salt to taste
Rest of the Melange:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 cups cooked or canned black beans (use 2/ 19 oz. cans), rinsed and drained
2 cups vegan broth
14 oz. whole or diced canned tomatoes and juice (If tomatoes are whole, chop them roughly.)
2 tsp. EACH dried thyme and oregano
1 bay leaf
1 chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, with the a little of the sauce
(Idea: Freeze the rest of the chiles and sauce in the can in an ice cube tray, then pop the frozen chiles and sauce into a freezer container or bag to use in other dishes.) 
liquid smoke to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
Serve with:
steamed rice
braised greens with garlic

Making the Roasted or Broiled Vegetable/Seitan Mixture:
Place the pepper chunks, sweet potato chunks and seitan in a 9 x 13” baking pan and toss with the sesame oil, smoked paprika and salt to taste.  

Now, there are two ways to cook the veggie/seitan mixture (well, three ways actually-- you could grill it, but I'll leave that up to you!)-- roasting or broiling. If you want to roast, place the pan in a preheated 450°F oven and roast for about 15-20 minutes, tossing once or twice, or until the vegetables are tender but not falling apart, and a bit browned. If you want to broil (my choice), add a few squirts of water from a squeeze bottle to the pan and place the pan  about 4 inches under your broiler coils; turn broiler on to High.  Broil until the mixture until the vegetables are tender but not falling apart (adding a few more squirts of water if they are getting too dry), and a bit browned, and the seitan is a bit charred (but not too much!).  Remove from the oven and set aside.

To make the Rest of the Melange:
Saute the chopped onions and garlic in the olive oil in your wok or stew pot or large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until softened and perhaps a bit browned. Another option, which will allow you to proceed with the next part of the recipe, is to cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil in a covered microwave-safe pie pan or casserole with a lid. Cook on High for about 5 minutes, then scrape into your pot or pan.

Add the beans, broth, tomatoes, the Roasted or Broiled Vegetable/Seitan Mixture, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, chopped chipotle chile with its sauce, and the liquid smoke.  Mix thoroughly but gently with a large spoon. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes.  (That's enough time to cook some rice, if you haven't done it already.) 

Taste for salt and serve with the rice and braised greens.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 319 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 468.2mg sodium, 847.1mg potassium, 45.1g carbohydrates, 13.2g fiber, 7.5g sugar, 20.5g protein, 9.2 points.


Monday, April 16, 2018


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Yikes! It's been almost a month since I last blogged!  I'm afraid that I've been a bit preoccupied with changing my diet, cooking and lifestyle somewhat after a diagnosis of pre-diabetes. (You can read a bit about this in this blog post.)

1.) I have stepped up my exercise, for one thing, and, 2.) learned the difference between Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load-- see for an explanation and food lists.  (For me, the Glycemic Index/Load type of diet makes more sense than the currently-popular Keto Diet, even the vegan version of it. )

From the above link: "The glycemic index (GI) is a numerical system of measuring how much of a rise in circulating blood sugar a carbohydrate triggers–the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. So a low GI food will cause a small rise, while a high GI food will trigger a dramatic spike. A list of carbohydrates with their glycemic values is shown below. A GI of 70 or more is high, a GI of 56 to 69 inclusive is medium, and a GI of 55 or less is low.

The glycemic load (GL) is a relatively new way to assess the impact of carbohydrate consumption that takes the glycemic index into account, but gives a fuller picture than does glycemic index alone. A GI value tells you only how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns into sugar. It doesn't tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food. You need to know both things to understand a food's effect on blood sugar. That is where glycemic load comes in. The carbohydrate in watermelon, for example, has a high GI. But there isn't a lot of it, so watermelon's glycemic load is relatively low. A GL of 20 or more is high, a GL of 11 to 19 inclusive is medium, and a GL of 10 or less is low."

It's a slog finding scientifically accurate, up-to-date and readable material on this subject, but here are a few more helpful links, if you are interested (not necessarily oriented to vegans):

3.) I've also been educating myself about "resistant starch".  If you haven't heard of this, check it out-- it's a game-changer!

And finally...

4.) I rarely make desserts anymore, except for those special occasions, so I've also been studying how to lower the sugar content (even of "natural" sweeteners) in desserts (and that can affect the structure of baked goods, by the way), and which sweeteners might fit best with my needs, in terms of flavor, health, availability and cost, among other factors

I'll write more about this in another blog post, but one of the sweeteners I'm using (with caution, of course!) is dates.  For a simple explanation, see
"Unlike processed sugar (i.e. white sugar, brown rice syrup, cane syrup, and corn syrup), Medjool dates won’t spike your blood sugar levels. Because of their high fiber content—12 percent of your daily fiber per serving—your body breaks them down slowly, giving you a sustained release of energy without the dreaded sugar crash." 
(PS: I've been using Deglet Noor dates, but have even successfully used compressed dates meant for baking to make date paste.)

But, remember-- you want to keep that fiber, so use whole dates (as in my BBQ sauce recipe below), or a homemade date paste, rather than a date syrup. To make Date Paste: puree 1 cup pitted dates with 1/2 to 1 cup hot water (depending on how thick you want it) in a high-speed blender or food processor until a paste is made. Keep refrigerated.


Printable Recipe

Makes 10 buns
High-fiber and protein rich beans, whole wheat flour, high soluble-fiber-rich oat flour, and a bit of high-protein vital wheat gluten serve to lower the glycemic load of this recipe-- but it doesn't mean you should "pig out" on it.  Serving size matters!

NOTE: These could also be made into hotdog buns.
You can double the recipe, but no need to double the yeast if you do.

1 cup rinsed and drained canned or cooked white beans OR yellow split pea puree
(NOTE: If the split pea puree is very thick, add about 2 T. water to it.)
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup warm water
2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
ADDITIONAL: (NOTE: If you are on a no-fat, no-oil regime, try using either unsweetened smooth applesauce or aquafaba [liquid from cooked or canned chickpeas] instead/)
2 Tbs oil
FLOUR MIXTURE-- mix together:
1 cup whole wheat flour, preferably stone-ground or whole-milled
(NOTE: You can use sprouted whole wheat flour if you have it.)
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup oat flour (I just grind oatmeal in a dry blender.)
2 Tbs vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
soy milk or Starch Glaze (see below)
raw sesame seeds, or poppy seeds

Puree the beans or split pea puree with the 1/4 cup water.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, or your food processor bowl, or your electric mixer bowl, mix together the 3/4 cup warm water, yeast and sugar. Let sit for a few minutes.  Add the pureed beans or yellow split peas and the oil.

If you are mixing by hand, stir in the Flour Mixture a bit at a time, until it is a knead-able dough.  Turn out on a piece of baking parchment or silicone mat and knead until you can form a smooth ball.

If you are using a food processor, dump in the Flour Mixture and process until it forms a ball on top of the blade.

If you are using a mixer with a dough hook, add the Flour Mixture, turn on the machine and knead until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a medium to large oiled bowl, cover and rise in a warm spot for about an hour, or rise, well covered, in the refrigerator overnight.

Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces, shape into balls and press down into flat shapes with the palm of your hand, making the center of the bun a bit concave.  Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, cover and let rise until nicely rounded on top, for about 1 hour. Do not over-rise. (If the dough is cold, you may have to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.)

When the buns are about half-risen, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Glaze the tops of the buns with soy milk or Starch Glaze, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and switch the buns from the baking sheets to cooling racks.  Cool thoroughly before using or storing.  (They can be frozen.)

(If you can't use corn or wheat starch, see this article or this one.)
In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 c. cold water with 1 tsp. corn or wheat starch.  Stir over high heat until thickened and clear.  This glaze can be used instead of an egg white glaze.


Printable Copy

Makes about 3 cups or 24/ 2 T. servings
High-fiber dates subtly sweeten this sauce, and the acidic tomato products, mustard and vinegar also lighten the glycemic load. (See info about dates as a sweetener in the text above.)
I've been using this delicious  sauce instead of ketchup!

Blend until smooth:
1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine (can be non-alcoholic)
6 oz. tomato paste
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I prefer Costco's Kirkland  Signature brand, which is affordable, yet aged for 3 years and contains no wine vinegar or caramel color, unlike the 60-day-aged supermarket IGP brands. See
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
8 large-ish soft dates, such as Medjool or Deglet Noor, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 T. (or more to taste) Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce (See Note and photos below)
1 T. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. EACH:
onion powder
garlic granules
smoked hot paprika
liquid smoke
black pepper to taste

Scrape into a microwave-proof 2 qt. batter bowl and microwave for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. OR, scrape into a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Cool and pour or scoop into a Mason jar.  Twist on the cap and refrigerate. This will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 2 T. serving): 39 calories, 1 calories from fat, less than 1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 127.2mg sodium, 214.1mg potassium, 9.6g carbohydrates, 1.2g fiber, 6.9g sugar, less than 1g protein, 1.2 points.

This product is easily available in supermarkets and Asian grocery stores or online.  Here are two common brands-- Huy Fong foods, Inc. and Lee Kum Kee:


Thursday, March 22, 2018


Best Blog Tips

It's not so nice out now, but last week we had some sunny, warmish days-- enough to make me think of making a hearty salad for lunch instead of a soup.  It was almost shopping day, so I studied the contents of my refrigerator and freezer for what needed using and/or what was available, colorful and tasty.  I already had some of my staple low-fat balsamic vinaigrette made (see recipe below), so I kept that in mind as well.

So, here's what I came up with on short notice. It was easy to throw together and a hit with my husband (and also fed us for two lunches).  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did!


Serves 4

1 lb. slender fresh young green beans
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 medium onion (whatever kind you like-- I used a white one), chopped
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen sweet corn kernels
1 cup red grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
about 1/2 cup Low-Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below) or similar type of vinaigrette
1/4 to 1/2 cup of your favorite vegan Parmesan substitute (I used EarthIsland/FollowYour Heart)

Pick over the green beans, removing stems, and cook until tender, but not limp.  Cook them however you prefer-- they can be steamed, microwaved (in a tiny bit of water in a covered casserole), or brought to a boil just covered in water on the stove, then simmered for a few minutes, u ntil done to your liking.

Drain the beans in a colander and run cold water over them until they cool off a bit.  Leave in the colander to drain further.

Saute the onion in the sesame oil until they are softened and a little browned around the edges. set aside.

Spread the corn kernels on an oiled baking sheet and place about 4" under your oven's broiler.  Broil until they start to char a bit, toss them a bit with a spatula and mound them up a bit in the middle of the pan and broil for a few minutes more.  Set aside.

When everything is ready, toss the green beans, onion and corn together in a medium-sized serving bowl with the sliced grape tomatoes and salad dressing.  Divided between serving bowls and sprinkle each serving with some of the cheese.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 204 calories, 34 calories from fat, 4g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 172mg sodium, 458.7mg potassium, 29.9g carbohydrates, 5.8g fiber, 5.4g sugar, 8.3g protein, 5.2 points.


This is a good basic dressing for many types of salads. 
Yield: 1 1/2 cups  Servings: 12
1 serving= 2 tablespoons

1  cup Fat-Free Oil Substitute for salad Dressings OR aquafaba (unsalted chickpea broth from canned or home-cooked) 
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar (I prefer Costco's Kirkland  Signature brand, which is affordable, yet aged for 3 years and contains no wine vinegar or caramel color, unlike the 60-day-aged supermarket IGP brands. See
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar 
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt

Whisk, shake, or blend the ingredients together well, bottle and store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 50 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.6g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 175.5mg sodium, 12.9mg potassium, 2.6g carbohydrates, less than 1g fiber, 1.1g sugar, less than 1g protein, 1.5 points.


Monday, March 5, 2018


Best Blog Tips

I apologize heartily for having neglected this blog in the past few months, and for not writing a post for over a month!  There's been a lot going on lately, on top of which, DH and I are just getting over a very long and uncomfortable cold (not the flu this time, but not fun!).

One thing that is taking up a lot of my time has been a diagnosis of pre-diabetes!  I almost fell off my chair when my doctor told me this.  It may be an inherited tendency-- we don't know.  So, I've been working up my exercise regime, which I had not been keeping up as well as I should have (especially while sick), and spending much of my time poring over books, websites, and charts to do with the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load, and tailoring my already-pretty-good vegan diet to this advice:


"The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels. Also known as "blood sugar," blood glucose levels above normal are toxic and can cause blindness, kidney failure, or increase cardiovascular risk. Foods low on the glycemic index (GI) scale tend to release glucose slowly and steadily. Foods high on the glycemic index release glucose rapidly. Low GI foods tend to foster weight loss, while foods high on the GI scale help with energy recovery after exercise, or to offset hypo- (or insufficient) glycemia. Long-distance runners would tend to favor foods high on the glycemic index, while people with pre- or full-blown diabetes would need to concentrate on low GI foods. Why? People with type 1 diabetes and even some with type 2 can't produce sufficient quantities of insulin—which helps process blood sugar—which means they are likely to have an excess of blood glucose. The slow and steady release of glucose in low-glycemic foods is helpful in keeping blood glucose under control.

But the glycemic index of foods tells only part of the story. What it doesn't tell you is how high your blood sugar could go when you actually eat the food, which is partly determined by how much carbohydrate is in an individual serving. To understand a food's complete effect on blood sugar, you need to know both how quickly the food makes glucose enter the bloodstream, and how much glucose it will deliver. A separate value called glycemic load does that. It gives a more accurate picture of a food's real-life impact on blood sugar. The glycemic load is determined by multiplying the grams of a carbohydrate in a serving by the glycemic index, then dividing by 100. A glycemic load of 10 or below is considered low; 20 or above is considered high. Watermelon, for example, has a high glycemic index (GI) (80). But a serving of watermelon has so little carbohydrate (6 grams) that its glycemic load (GL) is only 5."

So, I'm not making desserts these days, getting used to my morning latte without a teaspoon of brown sugar, using a few dates in my oatmeal instead of sugar on top (dates have alot of fiber, which counteracts the sugar in them), learning about resistant starch and low glycemic grains, and experimenting with making low GL bread with them (adding some bean flour, or okara [soy pulp] from my soy milk making, and/or some vital wheat gluten flour helps, too)

Who knew that converted/parboiled rice carries a lower glycemic load (GL) than brown rice and has? (The process creates resistant starch while protecting most of the nutrition of the whole grain rice.) We are loving parboiled basmati rice! (Here's a fairly simple explanation of resistant starch.)  And my beloved semolina pasta is low GL, especially if cooked al dente and then refrigerated. The resistant starch remains when reheated. Ditto for potatoes. Buckwheat, oats, bulgur wheat, rye and quinoa are also good choices.
We already eat lots of vegetables and fruits and protein-rich legumes, soy products, and seitan, and a pretty low-fat diet, so I don't have to change much there.

Anyway-- I have alot to learn, but I've lost 6 pounds without really trying to and we're eating well.  I hope to have some good new recipes for you soon.  In the meantime, here are some old favorites from two of my older cookbooks.

Thanks for your patience!

Printable Recipe

Servings: 4
(From my book, "Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen: All Vegan Recipes", Book Publishing Co., 2000)
Corn is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you thick of Chinese cooking, but, when it was imported from the Americas, the Northern Chinese took to it readily.  This soup, which often contains chicken or crab in its non-vegetarian incarnation, is extremely popular, even at formal banquets, but it's inexpensive, quick and simple to make.

6 ounces smoked tofu, cut into small dice (You can sauté the cubes in a bit of oil to brown, if you like, but that's optional.)
4 cup low-salt vegetarian "chicken-y"  broth (such as Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken broth paste)
14-15 ounces canned creamed corn (this product contains no dairy ingredients)
1 cup frozen petit pois (baby peas)
1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
pepper to taste
1 Tbs cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. cold water
1 tsp roasted sesame oil
1 Tbs soy "bacon" bits OR 2 T. chopped vegetarian "ham" 

Mix the broth, creamed corn, peas and soy sauce (and the optional soy "bacon" or "ham" at this point, if you're using it) in a medium pot or saucepan.  When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook gently until the peas are barely tender.  Add the smoked tofu, pepper to taste, and dissolved cornstarch, stirring.  Simmer until the soup thickens, then drizzle the sesame oil on top and serve.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 177 calories, 41 calories from fat, 4.7g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1249.5mg sodium, 240.5mg potassium, 28.9g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 6.5g sugar, 10g protein, 5.3 points.


Printable Copy

Serves 4

My Peruvian father, Alejandro Jaime Urbina, loved Japanese food, so he took us to Japanese restaurants fairly often when we were growing up in San Francisco.  It was always such fun to watch the kimono-clad server quickly make the sukiyaki right in front of us. This is my vegan version. 

(From my book, 20 Minutes to Dinner, Book Publishing Co., 1997)
All you need is a pot of steamed rice to go with this wonderful Japanese classic.  If you have a large electric skillet, you can cook this at the table in true Japanese style.
NOTE:  If you do not have shirataki noodles (clear Japanese noodles made from the konjac yam), substitute Asian rice vermicelli, or bean thread noodles (also called "cellophane" noodles, made from mung beans), which have first been soaked for 15 minutes in warm water.  If none of these is available, substitute 2 c. fresh bean sprouts.

Shirataki Noodles
**Have all of the ingredients arranged in piles on a platter when you begin to cook.

1/4 c. Japanese soy sauce, or tamari (or  soy-free alternate, see note below)
1/4 c. honey, sugar, or alternate
1/2 c. water
2 T. dry sherry or mirin (Japanese rice wine)
Soy-Free Soy Sauce or Tamari Replacement: Substitute this mixture tablespoon-for-tablespoon for the soy sauce called for if you have a soy allergy. 
**Mix 3/4 c. water, broth or mushroom soaking liquid mixed with 1 T. EACH yeast extract paste (such as Marmite), soy-free gravy browner (like Kitchen Bouquet), and salt.  This replaces 15 T. (slightly less than 1 c.) of soy sauce.
**To replace some of the complex qualities that a good fermented soy sauce or tamari supplies, use some dry sherry or Japanese mirin wine, and/or mushroom broth or concentrate as some of the 3/4 cup liquid in the recipe.

Sukiyaki Ingredients:

For a soy-free version, omit the tofu and either use 1 1/2 lbs. seitan,  OR  use the 8 oz. seitan called for and double the amount of mushrooms
1 lb. regular medium-firm tofu 
8 oz. seitan, very thinly-sliced 
8 large fresh shiitake mushrooms, cut in half (or you can use thick slices of portobello mushrooms, or whole criminis) 
10 oz. cleaned spinach leaves, sliced 1" thick
1 (8 oz.) can sliced bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained
1 bunch green onions, cut into 2" lengths OR 1 large white onion, sliced
2 to 4 cups fresh, cisp bean sprouts
1/4 lb. dried shirataki noodles, soaked in warm water 15 minutes (see Note above for substitutions)

**(Put a pot of  rice of your choice on to cook before starting the recipe.  Short grain white rice is the Japanese choice, or you could use short grain brown rice, if you prefer.)

Mix the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and set over low heat while you prepare the ingredients.

Heat a large heavy skillet or large electric skillet (my choice).  Cut the block of tofu in half horizontally and brown the halves on both sides in the hot pan.  Remove from the pan and slice the pieces about 1/2" thick.  

Place the sliced tofu, seitan, mushrooms, spinach, and bamboo shoots (and the white onion, if you are using it instead of the green onions) in separate piles side-by-side in the hot pan and pour the sauce over it all.  

When the sauce is bubbling and the spinach begins to wilt, turn everything over carefully, not mixing it together.  Make room for the green onions and soaked noodles (and/or bean sprouts), and cook for a few more minutes, until the spinach and mushrooms are cooked and everything is hot. 

Serve immediately with steamed rice, dividing the ingredients equally between bowls.

Nutrition Facts (without rice)

Nutrition (per serving): 434 calories, 63 calories from fat, 7.8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1190.2mg sodium, 1330.1mg potassium, 66.9g carbohydrates, 7.7g fiber, 22.8g sugar, 31.2g protein, 12.9 points.


Saturday, January 27, 2018


Best Blog Tips

My Lowfat Vegan Mayonnaise, utilizing peanuts, sunflower seeds and/or sesame seeds
Peanut and/or Sunflower Seed and Tofu Ricotta 
Lasagne made with my Peanut and Tofu Ricotta

After almost 11 years of blogging, I must be getting lazy, because I found myself doing fewer and fewer blog posts every month, and then... nothing new, for about a month and a half.

But, in the last little while my interest has been sparked again. 

My current interest is in cutting way down on the amount of  oil and expensive (and potentially ethically and environmentally suspect) tree nuts that I use in creamy vegan mixtures, such as sauces, cheeses, mayo, ice creams, spreads, etc.. My reason is only peripherally due to the fact that we are trying to lose some weight.

I know that nuts are good for us and I will certainly use walnuts, pecans, etc., in baking for special occasions or for our weekly treat, but it has bothered me for some time now that so many cashews and coconuts are used in vegan cooking these days.  (Oh, and don't forget about almonds!)

It's not that I have anything against cashews per se, but, to quote from this article"What are the most eco-friendly nuts?(worth a read): "Cashews are a little trickier. They’re light on the land, providing wildlife habitat and preventing erosion, but the processing stage is much more intensive. Cashews grow primarily in Vietnam, India, and northern Africa, but most are shipped to India for processing; there, workers shell the nuts by hand, sometimes exposing their skin to burns from the caustic oils inside. (Check out this detailed look at the system.) And that’s nothing compared to the human rights abuses suffered by some cashew processors in Vietnam, according to Human Rights Watch. Fortunately, there are some Fair Trade cashews to be had, and I’d go for them whenever possible."  Here is an article about the treatment of cashew processors in India.

Note from me: They, of course, are more expensive than non-Fair Trade. (And organic does not necessarily mean fair trade as well.)

The other tropical nut that is over-used in vegan cooking lately (in my opinion) is the coconut.  I won't go into the nutrition debate here, but there is an animal cruelty issue with coconut products, as well as human and ecological issues. The following is from an article entitled "Are coconut products bad for the environment?":

"...The use of coconut oil grew 780 percent between 2008 and 2012, and the demand for coconut water jumped 168 percent between 2010 and 2013. And if an informal survey of my local yoga-goers and farmers market-shoppers is any indication, the boom is still going strong. So what kind of impact are we having?

The first consideration: Everyone’s favorite hairy-on-the-outside, succulent-on-the-inside fruit (sorry, kiwi) comes to us from the tropics — Indonesia, most often, plus the Philippines and India, and to a lesser extent, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. So unless you’re currently lounging on an idyllic beach — you lucky so-and-so — that coconut product was shipped a considerable distance to reach you, with all the transportation-related carbon emissions that entails. Locavore eating it’s not.

Then there’s the growing of the trees themselves. Fortunately, coconut farming isn’t linked to the kind of deforestation that makes palm oil so devastating to local ecosystems. But those lovely coconut trees can still be grown in a monoculture, which hurts tropical biodiversity and soil quality.

And finally, there’s the human rights side of things. As with other cultivators of the tropics (those who produce chocolate, cashews, and coffee, to look just at the Cs), coconut farmers very often toil in terrible poverty — as high as 60 percent of them in the Philippines. Coconut water alone sells for a couple of bucks or more per bottle, but the farmers behind it make as little as 12 cents per coconut. Kind of a bitter system, huh?"

See also

Apart from the above concerns, there is the animal cruelty issue I mentioned above. I urge you to read the following and be an informed consumer:

See this article for a list of cruelty-free brands of coconut products and other products that contain coconut oil.

See photographs at this article

"Life in chains: Heartrending pictures of caged Indonesian monkeys being sold to coconut farmers"

Published earlier this year, the most comprehensive article I read, Pay Coconuts, Get Monkeys, gives us an idea  of what life is like for these monkeys, how valuable they are economically, and how legal loopholes enable trainers and “zoos” to essentially get away with animal abuse and neglect.

Early on in the piece a man called Noi Petchpradab, who has been training macaques to harvest coconuts for thirty years, was interviewed and discusses daily life for these working monkeys: "When they are not working, the animals are chained to tree stumps, which Mr. Noi said is due to their aggressiveness. They are given three daily meals, consisting of rice mixed with Lactasoy milk."

The article also goes on to say:

"Due to their ability to work for long hours, the macaques are capable of collecting 600-1,000 coconuts per day, compared to only 100-200 for humans. On a few occasions, he admitted, the monkeys are so tired they faint.

This practice will surely continue as long as there is both a market for coconut oil and consumers who are ignorant to the fact that this is even happening. Also, there will always be an economic incentive for people in these areas to use monkeys as performers as long as tourists are willing to spend money to visit them."

So, what about the domestic favorite, almonds?? See this article: Here’s the Real Problem With Almonds  and this one: The Problem With Eating Almonds That No One Is Talking About "If you care about the drought in California, you might want to read this."

What to do?  Yes, we  could use macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts.  But these nuts can be beyond the average budget even if they are grown in North America (especially the last two).  

I have not really researched macadamia nuts-- we think of Hawaii first, but they are native to and grown extensively in Australia. Organic macadamias sell for about $25 lb Cnd. 

I have used Brazil nuts because, according to this article"What are the most eco-friendly nuts?: "What about those exotic nuts you mentioned? Brazil nuts, grown in – wait for it – Brazil’s Amazon, actually support the rainforest because they don’t grow well without their natural, diverse ecosystem around them. Cultivating them, then, gives locals an economic incentive not to slash and burn.

"Hazelnuts are a dream to grow: long-lasting, hardy, erosion-blocking, and requiring no pesticides. You can find US hazels, mostly from Oregon, and that’s a good bet because of child labor issues associated with Turkish hazelnuts."  But, again, not for everyone's budget in the long run.


So, what's my solution, one that will allow me to make rich-tasting, creamy vegan dishes even on a tight budget and while trying my best to avoid humanitarian and ecological pitfalls?

Peanuts and seeds!  
They are inexpensive, easy to find, grown in North America, and chock full of nutrition and good fats. I have only just begun my kitchen explorations, but have produced a few delicious items so far, so read on, if you are interested.

I'd love to hear what you think, and/or any recipes you've come up with.


(You can use them alone or in combination.)

Raw Hulled White Sesame Seeds

Raw Shelled Sunflower Seeds
Unsalted Dry-Roasted Peanuts

Other possibilities? North American-produced organic hulled hemp seeds and/or pumpkin seeds are other possible choices, but they are also fairly expensive when compared to the three choices above, and can lend a greenish hue to your finished product.

Printable Copy


Makes 3 1/2 c.
Adapted from my book “Nonna’s Italian Kitchen”.

This mixture is very similar to the creamy full-fat ricotta used in 
Italy.  It's so creamy that you can use it as a spread on bread, or as a filling for crespelle (crepes), or in desserts.  NOTE:  Most vegan ricotta recipes that I have seen contain herbs.  This puzzles me because the ricotta that I grew up using in San Francisco was plain.  You could add herbs if you wanted, but it was used as-is in lasagne and in desserts, too. (No, that's not a typo: "In Italian, lasagna refers to one sheet of pasta and its plural form, lasagne, refers to the dish with several layers.")


2 (12.3 oz.) boxes extra-firm silken tofu, crumbled (OR 2 lb. medium firm tofu, pressed down to around 24.6 oz. and drained)
1/2 c. shelled chopped dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts, OR raw shelled sunflower seeds (OR 1/2 & 1/2)
2 T. + 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt

In a food processor, high-speed blender mix about 3 cups 
of the crumbled tofu with the soaked,drained peanuts or sunflower seeds, the lemon juice and salt. Process until they are very smooth.  Then crumble in the remaining tofu and process again in bursts. The resulting mixture should be mostly smooth, but with a little graininess-- it doesn't have to be like cream cheese.

Scoop the "Ricotta" into a plastic container and refrigerate.  It firms up when chilled.

More recipes using seeds and/or peanuts instead of nuts: