How to Experience Increased Joy and Wonder Sweet and Sour Beet Soup

Do you feel lonely at times and wish you could share special moments? Have you ever remarked on the beauty of a rainbow, only to discover there’s no one there to hear your gasps of delight? Do you sometimes get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day that you forget to notice little glimmers of magic, and do you sometimes feel too overwhelmed and stressed to appreciate the simple joys of being alive?

 

A number of years ago I was supposed to fly to Vietnam with my parents, but due to some airline mishaps, I ended up getting separated from them and had to make the approximately 36-hour journey by myself. Since I’d been expecting to travel with my parents, I hadn’t paid much attention to the ins-and-outs of getting to our destination.

 

When I mentioned my anxiety to my friend, Kyla, she suggested I imagine a small version of her keeping me company and pointing out all the cool and wondrous things along the way. My shoulders began to relax and my breath deepened as I realized that this solo journey could actually be fun.

 

Just before embarking on the first leg of the trip, I put a small heart-shaped rose quartz in my pocket and decided to call it “Mini-Kyla.” I liked the idea of having a physical object to represent my imagined companion.

 

What had started simply as a way to find pleasure in a long overseas flight became a wonderful new habit. The rose quartz is now in my pocket every day. If I’m in a bit of an uncomfortable situation, I gently touch the outside of my jeans pocket, and I feel its love and support. And, if I’m watching a particularly glorious sunset, somehow it feels as though it’s also sharing in my joy. But, most importantly, having the stone in my pocket reminds me to enjoy and appreciate simply being alive. It’s so easy to get caught up in work or family commitments and forget to cherish the beauty of our breath and the rhythm of our beating heart.

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Plant-Based Winter Meal Plan, Part 1

We are so excited to finally post this winter meal plan! If you’re anything like us, February can feel a little gloomy, and inspiration levels tend to be low, whether with cooking or with anything else. This meal plan is here to prove all of that wrong and to show us that plant-based winter food can be just as exciting and tasty as any other season’s. I can definitely say that creating recipes for this plan got me out of a mini cooking rut.

So we’ve got vegan and gluten-free breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert recipes that will feed you for a week. Everything starts with roasting up a bunch of root vegetables (the darlings of winter cooking), cooking beans (we are focusing on mung beans and black beans this time), and making a pot of rice. We’ll then mix and match those foundations to make delicious, nourishing meals. We’ve got you covered with the shopping list, as well as all the prep and planning. As usual, we are splitting this meal plan into two parts. This first part will focus on weekend prep, as well as breakfast and lunch recipes. Part 2 is here, and it’s all about dinner and dessert recipes. Ready? Let’s do this.

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No-Recipe Creamy Soup

Yesterday was our new cookbook’s pub date, which is sort of like a birthday in the book world. It feels so good to finally have it out there, and thank you guys so much for all the support! We have a few book events coming up, and the first one is this Saturday, February 10th at Williams Sonoma in Tampa, FL. I’ll be doing a cooking demo for a chocolatey cake from the book and signing/selling copies. I would love to see you there. Click here to learn all the event details.


Now onto the no-recipe soup, which I’m so excited to share. I love simple, creamy soups and make them all the time, especially in the winter. I find that they are incredibly forgiving and perfect for utilizing whatever produce I have on hand that needs to be used up. The thing is, I pretty much never use a recipe. Instead, I’ve developed a sort of formula that I apply to basically any vegetables (and some fruit), and those soups always come out ranging from very good to really delicious. It’s not complicated, and anyone with a blender can do this. In fact, I bet you might have the ingredients for a tasty creamy soup in your refrigerator/pantry right now. I thought it would be helpful to share that formula here. 
 

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Chocolate Matcha Tart with a Sesame Crust

My love affair with the combination of matcha and sesame seeds started when I made these Black Sesame Matcha Rolls three years ago (has it really been that long?). They are still one of my favorite desserts out of the ones I’ve come up with. When Nuts.com, the bulk goods online one-stop shop that I love dearly, sent me their matcha to try out, I knew I wanted to revisit that magical combo. I took a glance at the dessert section in our recipe index and realized that we haven’t posted a tart recipe in a while. I love making tarts, so coming up with the recipe for this Chocolate Matcha Tart with a Sesame Crust was some of the most fun I’ve had in the kitchen in a while.


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Favorite New Year Reset Recipes

Happy New Year, friends! We wanted to stop by with a round-up of 18 vegan and gluten-free New Year reset-friendly recipes that are vegetable-forward and deeply nourishing, but also satisfying and delicious. We’ve got you covered on healing soups and stews, vibrant mains, energy-boosting breakfasts and snacks, a powerful cold remedy drink, and even a minimally sweetened dessert that still very much tastes like a treat. Wishing you all the health and happiness in 2018 :)

 

No-Recipe Healing Soup (v, gf)

One of our most popular recipes of 2017. This is a highly customizable soup, built on a powerful broth made with immunity-friendly ingredients. It’s delicious and warming, but especially helpful to those under the weather or low on energy. Make sure to seek out 100% buckwheat soba noodles to make this recipe gluten-free.

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Do Unto Others… Recipe for Broccoli and Apple Soup

Although the Golden Rule is not a new idea, I’m still awed by it. Years ago while dining in Washington DC, there was an unexpected interlude between courses that was just as wonderful as the food. The experience reminded me that the more trusting I am, the more others will trust me and vice versa.

 

A friend and I were having dinner at Restaurant Nora, the first certified organic restaurant in America. We decided to go all out and get the 4-course tasting menu. It was a big splurge, but it was my birthday. The manager assured us that if we placed our order quickly, we’d be able to finish in time to make it to the Kennedy Center where we had tickets for the symphony.

 

Suddenly, however, it was 20 minutes to eight and we hadn’t yet had dessert. The manager, Jack, appeared at our side. He told us we should leave if we wanted to make the concert. I asked if we could settle our bill first, but he said we needed to hurry. He told us to enjoy the show and come back afterward for dessert and drinks. We could pay then. He trusted us to walk away from a sizeable bill.

 

True to our word, we hurried back to Nora as soon as the performance ended. We had a delicious dessert, and were even treated to sauternes wine on the house. We paid our bill and left knowing we’d had a magical evening.

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One Pan Brussels Sprout and Red Lentil Pie with a Root Vegetable Crust

Since this is our last recipe of 2017, we wanted to make sure that it’s a special one. It needed to check all the boxes we usually try to check with our recipes: nourishing, delicious, seasonal, beautiful, convenient, and a little bit unexpected. This veggie and lentil-centered one pan pie is all of those things. It’s very cozy and fun to prepare, too.

If I had a choice, most of my savory dishes would be one-pan dishes :) Convenience is hard to beat. That little bit of initial effort you put into assembling all the ingredients for a single-pan dish pays off incredibly well when you end up with a big meal, plus a ton of leftovers for the week, having only used one pan or pot in the process.
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Bright & Grounding Chickpea, Parsnip and Kale Soup

Here’s a simple, nourishing soup that will help ground you through any holiday craziness or, really, any kind of stress you might be experiencing. Pureed soups offer such an easy way to get lots of veggies into your diet, and the possibilities for pureed soup recipes are endless. Think of them as warm, savory smoothies, and you’ll see that almost anything goes.




I love a smooth soup, but sometimes I crave a little more texture within that creamy format. Enter this Chickpea, Parsnip and Kale soup, which has it all in terms of texture: a smooth and silky base, with satisfying chunks of chickpeas and kale throughout.
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The Gold Star Experiment

When I was a schoolteacher, I carpooled with a woman who went to the gym every day, rain or shine.

 

I’m not like that.

 

Actually, I enjoy exercise, but it just takes a lot to motivate me. Justification for not doing it flows from me with the ease of water breaking through a poorly built dam. It’s too cold, too hot, too late, too early. I’m too hungry, too full, too busy, too tired.

 

When I was teaching French to elementary school-aged children, I used a reward system that worked incredibly well. Every student got a gold star for the day if they made an effort to speak French. It was remarkable to see how hard they worked for this seemingly small token.

 

I wondered if I could apply this same tactic to my own life. So began my Gold Star Experiment.

 

On the first of the month I posted a calendar on my fridge. Each day contains the words “Exercise” and “Vitamins.” I made it simple because I knew if I set my expectations too high there would be a greater chance I wouldn’t follow through. The goal: take vitamins and do something active every day, no matter how small.

 

Keeping track of each day is very helpful. Otherwise, I have a tendency to put things off until tomorrow. But then tomorrow becomes another tomorrow and so on. This way I’m accountable every single day. To sweeten the deal, I promised myself a gift if I received 31 gold stars in the month.

 

The experiment was a success. It seems…Gold stars aren’t just for children!

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Sweet Potato Galette with Magic Green Sauce

I love galette. It really is the lazy wo/man’s pie. I love that galette crust requires the least amount of fuss of all the crusts, and that the messier it looks, the better. I love that galette filling can be any good combination of vegetables, fruit and herbs, and that it can be as minimal or grand as one wants. This sweet potato version falls on the minimal side of the galette spectrum, yet it is completely lovely and delicious. There are layers of caramelized onions, thinly sliced sweet potato, and sage, all enveloped by a rustic spelt dough. We love to eat it with our favorite, magic green sauce, which is a savior for any leftover herbs in your refrigerator that are fated to end up in the trash or compost. 
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Roasted Potato and Split Pea Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

I’ve been wanting to come up with a worthwhile roasted vegetable salad ever since the weather turned chilly. I can’t be the only one who loses appetite for cold, super-green, lettuce-y salads once it’s cold outside. I’ll still say yes to something like a hearty kale salad, but most other ones make me shiver, if not accompanied by something warm. This salad is anything but shiver-inducing. Fingerling potatoes, carrots, and red onion all get roasted together in the oven, then mixed with green split peas, parsley, and a very special miso vinaigrette. The result is a substantial and hearty fall salad that makes for a great side dish or even lunch.
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Olive Oil Loaf with Hibiscus Beet Icing

Checking in really quickly with this olive oil loaf that we haven’t been able to get out of our heads. We knew that we wanted it to be vegan and naturally sweetened, with a pink, plant-based icing, but the rest took a bit of debate. Should it be gluten-free or not? Should we aim to make it golden yellow like traditional olive oil cake? We finally decided on a simple, spelt version (maybe we’ll tackle a gf one later?), sweetened with coconut sugar, and thus darker in color than your average olive oil batter. It is still moist and hearty, and the icing is so easy and very special :)


I love baking with spelt flour, especially sprouted spelt, which I used quite a bit for the baked goods in our new cookbook. The batter here is very simple, and yields a nice, crumbly yet moist dough, perfect for baking projects like this one. I would usually use coconut oil in this batter, but decided to go the traditional route and use olive oil. I love the subtle, earthy flavor that it brings to this loaf.

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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and naturally sweetened)

Anyone who has ever been on a rollercoaster with me will tell you that I’ll scream until I’m blue in the face. But, what they don’t know is that the uphill section is often the scariest part for me. Going up in a rollercoaster, I hold my breath, clench my jaw, and repeat over and over again, “oh no oh no oh no!” That’s when my muscles are the tensest and I feel my heart beat the fastest. After so much buildup, screaming on the downhill is a fun, cathartic release.

What if rollercoasters were all downhill with none of the uphill? Would we react the same way? Sometimes anticipation is necessary to building excitement. Waiting for these cookies to bake and smelling their heavenly aroma makes that first bite—of warm chocolate mixed with crunchy nuts and chewy oats—even better.
 

Ever since going gluten free, I’ve been craving a cookie with a cookie-like texture. Many GF cookies are crumbly or overly soft, but these (in my opinion) are perfect. Plus, they have lots of good things in them. Coconut flour is full of fiber and almond meal is packed with protein.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Coming to you with my favorite, easy treat as of late. Though the desserts section of our recipe index has plenty of bar recipes of all kinds (check out our lemon bars, ‘twix’ barsmatcha lime bars, etc.), I can’t stop coming back to them as one of my favorite dessert formats. These cookie dough ones are a little different though – they are shaped into perfectly indulgent, bite-sized treats. They are also: made with pantry ingredients, low-maintenance in preparation, gluten-free and vegan, and they really do taste like cookie dough!


This post was created in Partnership with Nuts.com
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No-Recipe Cozy Vegan Latte

This happens to me pretty much every day at around 3 o’clock, providing that I’m working from home. I get up from my desk, put on the teapot, throw a bunch of things in the blender, whirl it all together, and end up with a cozy and satisfying latte-ish drink that gets me through to dinner time. I don’t drink caffeine anymore, because I’ve always been very sensitive to it, and found that avoiding it altogether really helps with even energy levels (I may have made a few exceptions in Italy :)). But this little ritual takes me back to the days when 3 o’clock meant a cup of really good tea or a matcha. There’s really nothing better.


I end up making a different drink every time, based on my mood and the ingredients I have on hand, but the general formula is the same. There’s always something for creaminess, something for flavor, something for an energy boost… So I thought I’d give a ‘no-recipe’ recipe here, as well as a few of my favorite combinations. Midday super-latte making is a really fun routine to add to your day if you’re around a blender, and it’s good for your in a number of ways: it gets you out of the busyness of the day and nudges you to take a break, it’s creative, and the beverage you’ll end up with will likely be good-for-you, warming and tasty.

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Walnut Pesto & Sage

Don’t be scared off by home-made gnocchi, they are easier than you may think and the process is one worth learning. I feel it is a right of passage everyone should take. To make your own pasta, knowing it has been made with real, whole foods is not only satisfying but the knowledge that you can make delicious easy gluten-free pasta using nutrient dense ingredients is pretty special too!

The dough or uncooked gnocchi can be frozen for easy suppers when you don’t have time. If you don’t have a gnocchi rolling board you can use the end of a fork to give the gnocchi a quick curl to create the same characteristic effect.  

The best walnut pesto I ever had the pleasure of making was in Italy when the fresh mid-autumn walnuts were in season. Over time, walnuts become bitter so it is best to source freshly shelled walnuts when possible. It will make all the difference to this pesto.

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Rainy Day Soup

Last night I dreamed I was applying to universities and had been rejected from every single one. However, hidden underneath the pile of rejection letters, I found a small envelope offering me a free ride to a school in the Caribbean, even though I hadn’t even applied. In my dream, when I went to visit the tropical island that was home to the university, I inhaled the scent of plumeria and heard the gentle sea breeze rustling the palm fronds, and I realized that sometimes what we least expect far surpasses what we plan for.

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Vegetarian Spring Pho with Sweet Potato Noodles and Heirloom Beans

Hot soup has always been my ultimate comfort food, and I know I will be needing lots of it in the months to come. Vietnamese pho is king when it comes to soups that warm you from the core, and I’ve been experimenting with vegetarian pho recipes during the past couple of weeks.The main component of any pho, but especially vegetarian pho, is the broth. This pho broth is first and foremost based on toasted spices – star anise, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, peppercorn, and clove – each bringing its individual character to the flavor profile. I’m not normally the biggest fan of cinnamon in savory dishes, but in this broth it balances with tamari, brown rice vinegar and chili to create a fragrant and deeply nourishing broth.

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Red Cabbage, Blueberry and Apple Sauerkraut + Giveaway

I grew up with home-pickling and fermenting as the norm. Food in the Soviet Union was not only scarce, but also highly seasonal, so if you didn’t take care to preserve some tomatoes or cucumbers for the winter, you wouldn’t be able to taste any until the next summer. My mom made sure to stock our cool basement with jars of pickles, tomatoes, and fruit preserves every summer, as did pretty much every woman around. Other common fermentation projects included kombucha (or the ‘tea mushroom’ as we call it) way before it was cool, kefir, and of course sauerkraut.

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Cauliflower ‘Pesto’ Pasta

I’m back with another recent weeknight dinner favorite. It’s a hearty pasta dish, and it’s a keeper.

I can always count on pasta to get Paloma (9) eating dinner without too many negotiations, and I generally try to hide/pack as many vegetables as possible between the noodles. She would definitely be much happier eating plain pasta with a few grates of sheep’s milk cheese on top, but she’ll also tolerate most veggies when they’re interwoven with any pasta-like food. This one is made wholesome with a special, cauliflower ‘pesto’ with pistachios, herbs and golden raisins.
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Already Here: A Doctor Discovers the Truth about Heaven

Already Here: A Doctor Discovers the Truth about Heaven

Already Here tells of the death of Leo Galland’s son, Christopher, at the age of 22; the direct visual evidence Christopher showed him that our souls do go on; and the communications he received from Christopher’s spirit that dramatically changed Leo’s understanding of life and its meaning.

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