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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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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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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Tofu Saag Paneer, Spring Style

Saag paneer was always my number one choice when ordering food at an Indian restaurant. What could be better than spiced, creamed spinach, studded with soft cheese cubes and served over perfectly cooked rice? Heaven. The way I would feel the day after eating it for dinner was the exact opposite of heaven, though. I eventually came to the conclusion that the saag paneer hangovers were not worth it, especially when I realized that I could make delicious saag paneer at home, with tofu replacing the cheese and coconut milk standing in for the heavy cream. Nowadays, I honestly prefer my version. It tastes just as satisfying, but also nourishes me in that energizing, life-giving way that only plant-based food can.Just a quick note to say that I realize that this recipe is nothing close to authentic, starting with the use of extra vegetables, to the tofu, and even the spices. Saag paneer is more of an inspiration here, a really great one at that, and I definitely don’t mean to offend any real Indian cooks.This particular recipe is brightened up with the use of seasonal vegetables, mainly because I cannot contain my excitement for all the spring produce around right now. I also figured that tender spring things like asparagus, broccoli, and peas would mingle well with creamed spinach, and they really do. The tofu works very well here, too. The thing I love about tofu is that it’s able to become so many things. It’s particularly perfect as a paneer stand-in because it looks similar and has a similar texture. A quick sear in the pan and a toss in some spices, and it becomes totally irresistible.Now about the spices. Traditionally, garam masala is the spice blend that’s used to flavor saag paneer. The thing is, I rarely have garam masala on hand, but I pretty much always have curry. So, I use curry in this saag paneer, and it works really well (see what I mean when I say not traditional?). I think the reason it works is because both garam masala and curry are spice blends, and both contain powerful spices like cumin and coriander. Curry has turmeric while garam masala doesn’t, and garam masala is usually sweeter and includes spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, but generally, they are both complex and delicious. Anyways, I point all of this out to say that it’s totally ok to use curry here and generally to work with what you’ve got in your pantry. I’m a big believer in making recipes your own. If you do have garam masala though, feel free to use it in this recipe and maybe adjust the amount if needed.The curry that I always have on hand comes from our amazing partner, Nuts.com. It’s made with noticeably fresh spices and lasts forever, because I keep it refrigerated. Since curry is a blend of strong spices, it’s basically an express way to flavor, and it’s instantly able to enhance so many dishes, like this tofu saag paneer, as well as soups, stews, sauces, etc. It’s definitely one of my favorite pantry staples. I also used Nuts.com chili powder in this dish for even more complexity.For other great ways to use curry powder, check out these dishes from our archives: Our Favorite Weeknight Curry, Mango Curry, Curry Coconut Ice Cream, Lemongrass Curry Noodles, Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprout Gratin, Savory Vegetable Crumble.CLICK FOR TOFU SAAG PANEER, SPRING STYLE RECIPE

Rhubarb Celli Ripieni – Old School Jam Cookies from Abruzzo

There are still a few spots left in our Abruzzo Forage and Cook Retreat in Italy this coming October! We thought we would talk a bit more about the vegan menu that we were able to develop for this retreat, as well as share a traditionally vegan cookie recipe from Abruzzo.


Traveling through Italy as a vegan (and in some cases even as a vegetarian) can be rough. Sure, you will be able to get by ok, but you will also inevitably miss out on a ton of truly authentic and delicious dishes, and may even end up eating more than a few mediocre vegan meals. We’re speaking from experience. That’s why we initially planned our retreat to be strictly vegetarian – we didn’t think we could pull off a vegan menu in such a remote region as Abruzzo. But so many of you expressed an interest in a 100% vegan menu, that we had to rethink the whole thing.



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Favorite Spring Cleaning Recipes

We’ve got a round up of our favorite Spring recipes for you today! They’re all perfect for when you get that urge for a spring cleaning and a fresh start, whether that means opening all the windows, scrubbing every corner of the house, organizing your closets, or cooking something light, refreshing, and life-giving to the max. All these recipes utilize spring produce and other high-vibe, plant-based ingredients. Enjoy :)
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Vegan Farro and Pea Cakes

Do you guys do spring cleaning? Stronger sun and longer days motivate me to clean and organize like nothing else. Winter tends to put me in a hibernation mode, when coziness is the number one priority, and certain corners of the house get neglected. But come spring, and I feel awake and ready to take action once again. I want the house to feel light and airy, and as uncluttered as possible, as if to reflect the quality of the light outside. This is when I love tackling our closets with a super critical eye. If something hasn’t been worn for more than a few months (and if it’s not a specifically seasonal item), it gets donated. Same with any and all tchotchkes that have no sentimental value, and Paloma’s forgotten toys.


My approach to cleaning and organizing my pantry is a little different. I try to get rid of as little as possible, and instead, I look for ways to creatively use up what I find. The things that mostly clutter up my pantry are small baggies of bulk grains, beans, or spices that aren’t enough to take up real estate in a whole glass jar. They usually get tucked away somewhere in the back corner of the drawer, and then forgotten. So my thought is, maybe you ran into a similar problem this spring? And maybe you found some farro in the back of your pantry? Or maybe you just have a jar of farro proudly displayed on your kitchen shelf? Or (this is the last ‘or’, I promise), you’ve never tried farro, but you really want to. My point is, you should make these farro cakes this spring!

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Our Favorite Weeknight Curry

Curry is such a great weeknight dinner solution. It’s a vibrant, one-pot dish, doesn’t take too long, packs a lot of flavor, and does well when loaded with all kinds of veggies. This recipe is our absolute favorite weeknight curry of all time, and it’s built on the combination of canned tomatoes and coconut milk. Have you ever tried pairing the two? The umami from the tomatoes, mixed with the rich fattiness from coconut milk, makes for the silkiest, most flavorful curry base, with minimal effort. 



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Quick Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding w/ Adaptogenic Mushrooms

Pudding/mousse-like desserts are my favorite, and coming up with new, simple chocolate pudding recipes is sort of a hobby (check out this Whipped Chocolate Chia Pudding and this Black and White Chocolate Pudding from the archives). Most times, a new chocolate pudding recipe happens when a craving hits at the most inconvenient of times. Instead of going to the store, I work with whatever ingredients I have on hand to create something satisfying. I pretty much always have cacao powder around, and I go from there, figuring out what I can use for the creamy element, then the sweetener. The creaminess can come from anything from avocado to sweet potato, cacao butter to coconut fat, to agar. For sweetener, I usually stick with maple syrup or dates, both of which are a constant in my pantry.


This sweet potato version is my new favorite because it comes together in a flash, especially if you are in the habit of roasting up a few whole sweet potatoes on the weekend, like I am. It tastes perfectly luxurious, and it’s so easy to spruce it up with all kinds of super-powders – in this case, powerful adaptogenic mushroom powders.
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Bukhara Farro Pilaf from Simply Vibrant (video)

Checking in today to share another step-by-step cooking video that we shot of one of our favorite recipes from Simply Vibrant, the Bukhara Farro Pilaf. Pilaf is a dish that’s taken very seriously in the southwest of Russia, where we’re from. It’s also common belief there that the best pilaf recipe comes from Uzbekistan, named after the ancient Uzbek city of Bukhara.


I’ve encountered almost as many recipes of Bukhara pilaf as I have cooks in my life, each believed to be more authentic than the other, and each very good. My recipe is far from authentic, but I’ve taken all of my favorite (plant-based) elements of Bukhara pilaf and combined them in this dish. I also decided to use farro as the grain of choice here, but I did that to show the versatility of this dish more than anything else. It can be made with rice, farro, or any other similarly sturdy grain.
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YES! Coconut Chia Pudding with Pineapple Gelée

What if you said, “yes” to every invitation, request, and opportunity? What if instead of spending time and energy making excuses and avoiding people and experiences, you simply said, “yes”?

 

This is the premise of a Jim Carrey movie called Yes, Man. His character avoids his friends and says “no” to everything. However, after being dragged to a self-help workshop, he makes an oath to say, “yes” to everything. From there we see how his life begins to unfold.

 

By saying “yes,” he opens himself to an entirely new world filled with fun, joy, and adventure. By the end, however, he learns the important difference between saying yes because he wants to and saying it because he thinks he has to. “No” is an equally powerful word. Being genuine and authentic and saying “no” when that’s what you mean is vital to living a balanced life.

 

You can say “Yes!!” to this dessert. It’s delicious, easy to make, and pretty darn healthy as far as desserts go.

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Strawberry Coconut Candies

Sorry we didn’t post these guys for you before Valentine’s Day! I know they would have been perfect for that. To be honest, I forget about that holiday every year and never succeed at thinking about it ahead of time in terms of recipes. Any day is a great day to make strawberry coconut candies though! These are the perfect, simple treat for all the coconut lovers out there (as well as chocolate and strawberry lovers).
 


I don’t think Bounty (the coconut candy bar from the same candy bar family as Twix and Snickers) was ever as popular in the U.S. as it was in Russia. Correct me if I’m wrong! People in Russia used to be obsessed with Bounty in the 90s, when Western foods first started being imported after the fall of the Iron Curtain. I was definitely one of those people. Coconut was generally a very exotic flavor to us back then, since the Soviet flavor lexicon most definitely did not involve anything coconuty (another fun fact about growing up in the Soviet Union: I tasted my first banana when I was 16 years old because they were so difficult to get a hold of). Tasting chocolate-covered coconut for the first time was a heavenly experience, and I’ve loved that combination ever since.

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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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