Tomato explosion!

Cherry, beefsteak, sungold, green zebra. Who doesn't like a ripe, juicy tomato in the peak of summer? They seem to pop out all at once in our gardens, CSA baskets, and markets, which is why we eagerly wait all summer for them to appear. There are so many varieties to choose from, each with a distinct taste, scent, and texture. Even the health benefits vary from one variety to another: smaller cherry tomatoes contain higher levels of beta-carotene than the larger beefsteak and field tomatoes.

 

Across the board, tomatoes are a nutritional powerhouse. The vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids (a type of phytonutrients) can help protect against cancer, maintain healthy skin, maintain blood pressure, and lower blood glucose in diabetics.  Let's dive in a little deeper about some of the health supportive effects of tomatoes. 

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Simple Mango Gazpacho

I’ve been on a raw food kick lately. I find that it’s what my body craves in the summer heat, and it always helps me feel lighter and more alive if I’m feeling down, dull, or generally far from my higher self :) I’ve been eating a ton of salads, zoodles, juicy melon mono-meals, and pureed soups.


So, gazpacho has been a weekly staple for us. I like to vary the recipe every time I make it so as to not get bored, and also because there are so many possibilities to explore in the gazpacho realm. Check out our Red LentilSpicy StrawberryWatermelon, and Pineapple Cucumber gazpacho recipes.


This mango version is so refreshing with its lovely balance of sweet, savory, and spicy notes. It couldn’t be easier to make, too – just throw everything in the blender, chill, and enjoy.

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Dial up the flavor AND health! Incorporate more fresh herbs & spices

Did you know that fresh herbs and spices don’t JUST 10x flavor (as if that weren’t enough), but that they have magical healing powers, too? Many contain compounds capable of modifying gene expression to potentially keep cancer and other diseases at bay, plus providing immune support, controlling inflammation, and warding off bacteria and viruses—i.e., they have superpowers! So we’re not talking just enhancing taste, but improving wellness and possibly increasing longevity when you reach for that spice jar or throw some chopped herbs in whatever you’ve got cooking.

I’m delighted to share one of my favorite posts from the archives on this topic. If you haven’t seen it before, take a few moments to absorb this truly remarkable knowledge developed over the past decade of nutrition research. Plus get 2 superb recipes, including one of my most popular potato recipes ever. Serious yum!

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Cultivating Your Life

Often the effort we put into something has a direct correlation with our satisfaction. If you are a picky eater or if you have children who won’t touch a vegetable with a ten-foot pole, grow a vegetable garden. It sounds like a crazy idea, but you may discover a latent penchant for kale, tomatoes, or zucchini as a result of the love and time that you put into your little patch of earth. There is power in growing your own food, be it a small pot of mint on your kitchen counter or an acre of vegetables. I’m constantly in awe of nature’s majesty when I see what one tiny seed can become.

What other things in your life might you perceive differently if you spent time tending to them and nurturing them?

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Cold Almond Butter Noodles, Our Weeknight Go To

We lean on this meal at least once a week, especially in the summer. It’s dead simple to make, requires pantry staple ingredients, and the flavor is so impressive. I was a little hesitant to share this recipe, because I thought it might be too basic, but I wish I knew about it a few years ago, when putting together a quick but tasty weeknight meal was still a creative struggle :)


This recipe is all about two things: 1) the sauce and 2) keeping your ingredients as cold as possible. The sauce is a combination of everything that’s good in this world. It’s spicy, salty, creamy, and a bit sweet. It’s great for so much more than slathering on noodles, too: dip anything in it, like summer rolls, raw veggies, your fingers…
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What to do about hangry!

Have you experienced hangry? I recently got called on it. I had worked myself into a snit in conversation with my friend when she turned to me and said, “When’s the last time you ate?” I looked at her wide-eyed, and thought, Oh my God! When was the last time?

I work really hard and forget to eat. I lose track of time and my blood sugar runs a little low. At that point, I’m slipping into fight or flight and my mood is taking a dramatic dip. Have you thought through how deeply hangry can affect your productivity, your behavior, your relationships—and why? 

An article in the Washington Post this month entitled “If you’ve ever been hangry, this is what your body may be telling you” got me thinking about the whys of hangry, and how much it makes perfect sense! All your neurotransmitters are cycling through your enteric nervous system. If you’re not feeding and nourishing your brain, your mood’s gonna dip! Things that would never irritate you normally are suddenly the most monumental issues in the world. I get possessed! Who is that person? Angry, irritable, upset-out-of-nowhere and often doesn’t even realize it!

As soon as I feed myself, usually a good combination of fat, protein and carbs (enter the nut or seed), I go from possessed… back to my normal self. That little goblin goes away. Is it literally that simple? Yes.

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Summer is Delicious

Do you ever feel jealous of posts on Facebook about summer adventures? When you’re working long hours or stuck at home with a summer cold, even little things like a photo of a homemade smoothie or a mention of a walk with a dog can elicit envy. Do you want to experience the carefree feeling of the summer of your youth, to swing for hours under a grand, old oak tree, dig your toes into the sand at the beach, and wipe the sweat from your brow as you slice, dice, pickle, and preserve the bounty of a summer harvest?

One summer a few years ago when I was down with the flu and had to succumb to a bowlful of cough drops and endless hours of Netflix, I looked out the window and heard the kids next door running through the sprinkler and smelled another neighbor’s charcoal grill. I longed to join them.

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Fresh eating in the summertime: very superior salads!

Don't you get to the point on hot summer evenings when all you want to eat are fresh, crispy salads? Here's a deliciously special post from the archives with the salads of your dreams—and a fun video showing you chef's secrets for how to properly dress a salad. I'm telling you, this is a game changer!

Let’s talk salads.


I started making salads for my father when I was 7 years old. He was in the salad dressing business, and he liked his salads a particular way -- big, crunchy, crispy salads, full of vegetables, draped in dressing. Chopping up salad for him was a HUGE deal. I, Rebecca, was making salad for the Salad King!

Fast forward. When I studied cooking in Italy, I had to revamp my knowledge of salads and learn the refined art of dressing an elegantly simple salad -- lightly dressed and full of tender greens such as arugula, radicchio, and mache, varieties I wasn’t exposed to in the states. By European standards, my father’s salads were uber chunky, and way overdressed!

How do you go about dressing the perfect salad?

It’s really very, very simple.

First of all, your greens have to be dry and crisp. I like to spin them in a salad spinner then put them in a flour sack towel to pick up any moisture clinging to them. So you’re starting with the right texture, with the leaves ready to absorb the dressing and receive just a gentle coating. In contrast, if the greens are soggy the salad dressing will roll right off, down to the bottom of the bowl. This step is numero uno! Very important.

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Ciabotta – Easy Summer Vegetable Stew from Abruzzo

Today we are continuing with our Abruzzo recipe series, in which we share traditionally plant-based dishes from Abruzzo, Italy. We are hosting a vegan/vegetarian retreat there this October (there are still a few spots left!), and our research of local ingredients and eating traditions has led us to cooking and trying some amazing plant-based meals from the region.


This simple summer vegetable stew is the perfect example of the genius simplicity and quiet elegance of Italian peasant food, which mostly depends on the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Ciabotta (also known as ciambotta) is a common summer dish in Abruzzo, as well as all throughout southern Italy, and it’s everything we want to be eating this summer.


My aunt back in Russia makes something similar to ciabotta, a dish that she invented herself, and I’ve been craving it so much this summer. I was super excited when Anna, our retreat partner and Abruzzo local, told me that southern Italy has a similar dish that I should try making.

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Summer Pasta with Cream Sauce

This is a recipe to help keep the summer heat from getting to you. It's fast and delicious. And it's lighter than you might think. Remember to use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Also remember that Pitta season runs from July to October. As soon as the first heat waves of summer roll around, most of us feel the effects of the increased Pitta in the atmosphere — perhaps a shorter fuse than usual, maybe more irritability and frustration, occasionally outbursts of anger. Whether you are predominantly Pitta by constitution or not, take measures to keep the fire element in balance during the heat of the summer.

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Vegan Date Shake Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

While walking in Astoria, Oregon on a blustery, rainy day, I saw the most beautiful fern growing out of a derelict wharf. Although the wharf had been abandoned when the cannery closed, and the sea was reclaiming the remaining pilings, there was new life. Amidst the wind, rain, and neglect, the bright green fern had found a way to persevere. We humans like to see ourselves as different and separate from nature; yet, we, too, find ways to grow and thrive, even when there are outside forces fighting against us. Life always finds a way, no matter the obstacles…although it might not always be how or what we expected.

Do you remember the Rubix Cube? Every move affects a future move and every twist depends on the previous one. Just as in nature, everything is interconnected, which makes me wonder… Did the fern grow in spite of the harsh conditions or because of them?

When I was a child, my friend and I decided we could speed things up on the Rubix Cube by removing the colored stickers and repositioning them. Unfortunately, not all the stickers were easily detachable. So, instead of achieving our ultimate end, we made it so the game would never be winnable. There are times in life to break rank, and there are other times when more is gained from ebbing with the tide and allowing each action to be the building block for the following one.

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Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Donuts with a Coconut Glaze

We’ve got a subtly red-white-and-blue treat for you today. Donuts! First though, let’s get this out of the way: these donuts are vegan, gluten-free and baked, so there’s nothing classic about them. There will inevitably be textural and flavor differences, when compared to the (delicious) fried donuts that you would acquire at a donut shop. These baked donuts are so good in their own right though: they’re studded with blueberries, sweetened with maple syrup, and made extra special with a sunny tanginess from lemon juice/zest. There’s also a perfectly glossy, four-ingredient coconut glaze that’s completely irresistible. Making these guys is definitely a much easier venture than frying up proper donuts at home, so that’s another bonus. In fact, though they look impressive, they do not take long to prepare at all.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hosting or Attending A Healthy, Plant-Powered 4th of July Celebration (Or Other Summer Party)

Want to have a summer party that is both festive and healthy? These tips, foods, and healthy July 4th recipes will help you enjoy get-togethers that nourish your body and support your health deliciously.

 

Sitting in the sunshine all day, burgers and hot dogs sizzling on the grill, plates piled high with mayo-drenched potato salad, fireworks shooting across the sky, and red, white, and blue everywhere you look.

 

For many Americans, this is an annual tradition. And like most holidays, the 4th of July — U.S. Independence Day — is known for some unhealthy practices. You probably don’t expect to find healthful foods at most parties. But what if you want to host a summer get-together, or attend one, without sacrificing your health?

 

The following tips and recipes will help you create (or participate in) a 4th of July celebration or another summer party that won’t disrupt your healthy lifestyle.

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Yellow Split Pea Chowder from Power Plates

Today we are cooking the creamiest, most perfect chowder from a new cookbook that we are completely in love with, called Power Plates. If you frequent the high-vibe recipe blog world, you probably already know the author of the book, Gena Hemshaw, who is the nutritionist and author behind The Full Helping, and a glowing light in the world of plant-based cooking.

 

Gena’s new cookbook has the most brilliantly simple concept behind it: each recipe features a complete meal, in the sense that it has a balance of complex carbs, healthy fats, and protein, all provided by a variety of whole food ingredients. Thus, each recipe results in a true plate of power. This dreamy chowder, for example, calls for corn and potatoes, as most chowders do, but also includes protein-rich yellow split peas, which take the soup to a complete meal territory, and blend in seamlessly with the rest of the ingredients. It is so good.

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Perfect Potluck!

My dears, we are approaching picnic season! Including the grandaddy of picnics, 4th of July. I've got you covered with potluck etiquette, recipes and strategies to help make hosting or participating a delicious—and delightful—success!

 

It’s that time of year! We’re invited to block parties, 4th of July fests, family reunions, picnics, and potlucks of all shapes and sizes. This is when we’re supposed to show up with the PERFECT dish that everyone loves, something that won’t wilt in the heat, will go with whatever everyone else brings (or at least out shine all those other dishes).

 

Here’s my favorite potluck story ever.

When I moved in with my husband on his street in San Rafael, California, no one in the neighborhood knew about me yet. I was working really hard doing heavy-duty cancer retreat cooking at Commonweal at the time, and, well, I was like the shoemaker with holes in her shoes! The summer party invitation arrived, asking us to bring something for the grill, and something for the cooler. I thought, corn! I bought a whole blue bag full from our farmer’s market. Gregg brought a bottle of wine and some fish for the grill. We walked a few doors down to the Burford’s home, and on the counter were ALL these gorgeous dishes, the most AMAZING spread. Frittatas, tarts, grain salads, gorgeous vegetables. It was like, oh my God! I did not get the memo. I’m a trained chef, I had just come out with my first cookbook and I’m walking in with a bag of corn. Granted, it was shucked! And it wasn’t a bad thing to bring, actually. But ouch! Not the ideal first impression. I could have brought a million more sophisticated things!

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Ginger Cannellini Bruschetta

Summertime means lots of gatherings with family and friends sharing good food and drinks. Whether it's a pool party, block party or just because party, a weekend free is always an opportunity to play hostess.  Chips and charred salsa is always a good fall-back plan but having a a few new ideas in your back pocket can create a new experience. 

This is a great quick recipe for an appetizer to a larger meal. It is substantial and piquant. Serve at a group gathering along with crudités and your other favorite hors d'oeuvres.

Makes approximately 16

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. garlic ghee
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Approx. 2 cups (16 oz.) small white beans (cannellini), soaked and cooked until tender
  • ⅛ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. ginger preserve
  • 1 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 very fresh baguette, cut lengthwise and in 3-inch slices (approximately 16 slices)
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Follow Your Passion and Live Your Life

Follow Your Passion and Live Your Life

I was 23 years old when I started teaching French at a small boarding school in Maine. Just three days after submitting my master’s thesis in Paris I was settled into a small, white clapboard, steps away from a salt marsh on the New England coastline.

 

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The Simplest Lentil Soup from Abruzzo

Today we are continuing with our Abruzzo recipe series, where we share traditionally plant-based dishes from Abruzzo, Italy. We are hosting a vegan/vegetarian retreat there this October (there are still a few spots left!), and we’ve been having a ton of fun researching local, plant-focused recipes for our menu. Our co-host and Abruzzo local, Anna, learned this recipe from Nonna Aida (pictured below while carefully sorting lentils) from the village of Santo Stefano. Nonna Aida, who has since passed away, cooked this soup over the course of her whole life, so this is a solid, time-tested, and absolutely delicious recipe.

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Transition time

We think of seasons: Fall. Winter. Spring. Summer… but it’s really more like transition to spring, late spring… summer… then late summer. Memorial Day feels like the pivot point, marking the start of summer; but you really never know what transition times will bring. Right now in the Bay Area, we’re having unseasonably cool temperatures and rain is predicted. For us, that’s like a blizzard coming! It’s a big deal. We may have harbingers of summer, but we’re not quite there yet.

 

Food-wise, I’m thinking spring soups, when you want something that whispers of late spring, honors the gorgeous spring harvest, and that’s bright and refreshing! Fresh pea soup… carrots… fennel… asparagus…cream of celery. Easy to put together, with the fresh, tender spring veggies.

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Zucchini Bread (Ayurveda Recipe)

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."  - Jim Davis

Summer squash typically called "zucchini" were developed in northern Italy in the second half of the 19th century. Zucchini is one of the easiest vegetables to grow in a backyard garden and can produce a copious amount. Zucchini has a delicate flavor and requires little more than quick cooking with butter or olive oil, with or without fresh herbs.

zucchini BreadThis recipe uses grated zucchini to make a moist and delicious sweet bread. Enjoy!

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