Friday, September 30, 2011

Chris-Anna's Show-Someone-You-Love-Them Vegetable Sugo

Think of this recipe as a killer substitute for meat bolognese, one of my husband's absolute favorite foods. Sugo is an Italian word meaning "juice" or "sauce." I love how it sounds . . . "sugo" . . . I could say it over and over.

My friend Chris-anna (who is also my business partner) perfected this recipe. The key is in the chopping of all of the ingredients. You want to finely mince everything. That and cooking the onions for a really long time. Oh, and also the reduction for hours at the end.

What you end up with is this ridiculous, rich, thick yum-of-a-sauce. Perfect for layering between slices of grilled polenta or tossing with some whole wheat rigatoni or served on top of some crusty crostini. You really cannot go wrong with this sugo.

But you've gotta have the time to make it . . .

Show-Someone-You- Love-Them Vegetable Sugo
serves 8-10
Cooking time: This dish takes hours and is great to make while you are either cooking other dishes.

Printable Recipe

4 cups onion, finely minced
1 � oz. dried porcini mushrooms
4 cups warm water
3 cup celery stalks, finely minced
3 cup carrots, finely minced
2 cups baby portabella mushrooms, finely minced
1 bulb garlic, peeled and squeezed with garlic press or minced
2 cups Italian parsley
� tsp. dried oregano
� tsp. dried thyme
� tsp. rosemary
1 cup dry red wine
30 oz tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
2 low sodium vegetable bouillon cubes (crumbed)
pepper to taste (or not)
In a soup pot, saut� onion over medium high heat for about 15 minutes. You can dry saut� at first. The onions should have enough moisture to keep them from sticking to the post. After the first 15 minutes, turn the heat to medium and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. At this point you can add stock as needed to keep onion from sticking to pot. The onions will be very soft and golden brown. This step is KEY. The onions need to cook for a good, long time.
Because the onions take a long time to cook down, this is a good time to prepare the other ingredients.
Soak dried mushrooms in 4 cups warm water.

After onions have cooked down, add celery and carrots to pot and cook 10 more minutes.

Bring heat back to medium high and add the portabella mushrooms, garlic, parley, oregano, thyme and rosemary. Stir and cook about 5 minutes.
Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid. (You can pour the liquid through a paper towel or coffee filter to remove any fine grit.)
Finely mince porcini mushrooms and add to pot.

Push all ingredients in the pot to the outside edge, leaving the center of the pot clear and open. Add the wine and cook wine down for about three minutes.

Next add the tomato sauce, reserved mushroom liquid, bay leaves and bouillon cubes.
Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 � hours, stirring occasionally.

Remove cover and cook on medium until much of the liquid cooks off, leaving a rich, dark, thick sauce (about � hour).

Salt and pepper to taste.

This sauce is great served over baked polenta, pasta, gnocchi or ravioli.

What are you making this weekend?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cooking Oils - Good or Bad

For information on whether cooking oils are good or bad and which ones to use or avoid, check out this read.

Freda and Elaine's Sweet-n-Sour Cabbage and Tips for Gatherings

Sweet and Sour Cabbage is very simple, Eastern European peasant food. It brings back wonderful memories of my mother and grandmother, together, talking and laughing, for hours on end. They were best buds. So I'm making this in honor of them, and also for the holidays that are going on right now.

My mom says that she and my grandmother tested and tweaked this recipe together until they got it just right. Now it's my turn: eliminating the oil, subbing in maple syrup for brown sugar--but in essence, it's the same as it's always been for hundreds of years.

Freda and Elaine's Sweet-n-Sour Cabbage, Wendy Style
makes about 12 cups-serves a crowd

1 medium head red cabbage, cut into 4, core removed and sliced into ribbons
1 medium onion, chopped
3 small tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple cider or other vinegar
pinch of pepper
salt (or not)
optional: handful of dark raisins

Place a large heavy pot over medium heat. Dry saute onion, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp frozen apple juice concentrate and stir.

When onions are translucent and starting to brown, add cabbage to pot, stir and cover. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes.

Place apples, bay leaf, maple syrup, vinegar, pepper and (optional) raisins into the pot. Stir well and cover. Simmer for at least another 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is very soft. Season with salt (or not) to taste.

Freezes well.

Many of you expressed concern about how to deal with family/friend gatherings when deciding to commit to a plant-strong diet. Since last night was one of those family gatherings, I thought I would share with you some of my tips on eating at festive gatherings.
  •  Bring at least one dish that you can eat. In my case last night, it was the Sweet-n-Sour Cabbage.
  • Fill your plate with what you brought and any other vegetable/bean/whole grain dishes that are available. Last night I was lucky enough to find plain, steamed green beans and butternut squash (I was told that there was margarine or something in the squash but I ate it anyway).
  • You can indulge, it's a holiday after all, but not in everything. Choose what would be most satisfying to you. In the case of last night's dinner, I chose the Challah Bread (made with refined flour, egg, oil) and Mac-n-cheese. I passed up the Matzoh Ball Soup and Brisket, two things that I do love, but, hey, I know I can't indulge in everything.
  • High tail it outta there before dessert. When my 3 year old son said that he was tired and wanted to go in his bed, I took it as a sign from up above and we said our good-byes. I knew I couldn't have resisted dessert, and I had already done enough holiday indulging.
  • As hard as it is to do, try to remember that it is the family and friends and not the food that are the important part of holiday gatherings.
Was I Plant-perfect last night? No.

Vegan? Nope.

Was I Plant-strong last night? Pretty much.

I'll take it.

Got any tips of your own for how to handle holiday gatherings and living to tell about them?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Winner Announced and Sweet Potato and Kale Quesadillas

Thanks to all 136 of you who entered the Super Immunity Giveaway--a record number of entries for an HGK contest. My new friend, the random number generator, says that
#47 is the winner. Congratulations to Trish who answered "Flax and/or chia seeds. I can't start my day without one of them - in a smoothie or on top of my oatmeal." Please contact me at with your full name and address.

Contests are really fun for me. I get to hear from a ton of readers who normally stay behind the scenes. Almost as much fun as making dinner with items commonly found in my pantry, freezer and fridge. No trip to the supermarket necessary! Here's what was going on at HGK for the past two nights:

HGK's Sweet Potato and Kale Quesadillas
serves 6

Printable Recipe

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and large diced
vegetable broth for sauteing
1 large yellow onion, diced small
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup frozen corn, optional: fire roasted corn
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa (the spice level you like)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 packed cups (or more) chopped kale
hot sauce (or not)
salt (or not) or salt free seasoning
12 small whole wheat tortillas
optional: Daiya or other vegan cheddar cheese

Place diced sweet potato in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Check if potatoes are tender. When cooked, drain sweet potatoes.

While potatoes are cooking, heat about 1/4 cup vegetable broth in a large pan over medium heat. When broth begins to bubble, add onions and cook, stirring frequently, for eight minutes or until onions are translucent. Lower heat and add more broth if onions begin to burn. Add garlic and stir.

Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes. Add salsa, cinnamon, cumin and chili powder. Stir. Add kale and stir. Cover pot and cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Kale should be tender.

Add black beans and stir.

Drain potatoes and throw into the pot. Using a potato masher or the back of a large fork, mash potatoes. Stir with kale and bean mixture to incorporate everything. Taste and add salt if you must! Remove from heat.

Place a separate large saute pan over medium heat. Place one tortilla in pan. Dollop kale/bean/potato mixture onto the middle of the tortilla and mash down, covering all but the outer edge of the tortilla. Optional: Sprinkle with vegan cheddar cheese. Place a second tortilla on top and, with the back of a spatula, compress the quesadilla. After a few minutes, flip the quesadilla and crisp the second side. Remove from the pan and slice into 6 triangles (a pizza cutter works well for this step).

Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Just like a quesadilla should be, only without all that fat! Plus the added bonus of kale. How perfect is that?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Join the Healthy World Cafe at the Mother Earth Fair on Saturday!

We are looking for a few volunteers to help us at the Fair - contact Colleen if you are available to help:
cdwyer25 (at)
Thank You!

Dr. Fuhrman's Waldorf Blended Salad

Thanks to all the HGK readers who entered this week's contest. You guys rock.

Seems like the kale and quinoa producers have seen a significant rise in sales over the last few years! If you missed your chance yesterday, don't forget to submit your comment in to win a copy of Dr. F's new book, Super Immunity. Contest ends tonight!

And in honor of what is coming up next on HGK (ooooh, it's gonna be so much fun!) and one more tribute to Super Immunity, I present you with an outstanding green smoothie recipe from the good doctor. It's surprisingly delicious!

Dr. Fuhrman's Waldorf Blended Salad
serves 1

1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 apple, peeled and cored (I left the skin on)
1/4 cup walnuts
3 cups compacted collard greens and/or kale
1 cup compacted lettuce
1/4 cup water or ice cubes (I used a lot of ice cubes)

Place all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until smooth.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, The Review and GIVEAWAY!

The people over at PEERtrainer beat me to it. They wrote an amazingly comprehensive review of Super Immunity, the new book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I highly recommend reading their summary if you are interested in some of the incredible nutritional information that is packed into this work.

What's left for me to tell you?

This: everyone should read this book.

It's not a book about weight loss, although that could be the natural result of eating loads of vegetables. It's a book about our health and the medical establishment. About why doctors and pharmacutical companies should not be relied upon for health. We need to take responsibility for our own health, and eating the right food everyday makes a huge impact on our bodys' ability to be disease-resistant.

I thought I knew about food.

I for sure knew nothing about medicine.

Now I know something about both.

Of particular interest to me was the argument that instead of treating colds, fevers, coughs and flus with remedies, that is, after the fact, we can improve our nutrition to the point that these sickness occur far less frequently and when they do occur, with far less severity. Personally, living with three young children, Chapter Four, "Colds and Flu--What We Need to Know" was hugely eye-opening. Fuhrman reviewed the science on what works, what doesn't work and why. And do you know what I am left feeling?


It's just what I needed. I was really struggling with "pushing" vegetables on my kids. My eleven year old eats lots of cooked vegetables, but nothing raw. My six year old will eat raw carrots and that's all. And forget about my three year old.

I didn't know how to make them eat the food that I wanted them to eat. I figured they would learn to love vegetables, just like I did, when they got older. I figured there was still time. I didn't realize the impact it was having on their health right now.

And as if that weren't enough, the back of the book is full of delicious Nutritarian recipes like this, this and this:

Just when you thought you had seen the last of the days of enjoying rice pudding! This can be devoured for breakfast or dessert, even topped off with a little frozen banana soft serve. It's soooooooo good.

Forbidden Rice Pudding
adapted from a recipe from Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

2 cups cooked black (Forbidden) rice (I used a rice cooker or you can follow the package instructions)
2 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 large or 4 small dates, pitted and chopped
1 Tbsp currants
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp chia seed

Place all ingredients, except chia seed, in a medium-sided pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the chia seed, stir well, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

The kind people over at Dr. Fuhrman are providing one copy of Super Immunity for HGK to give away. How nice is that? Here are the rules for the giveaway:

One lucky winner will be chosen at random. All you have to do is this:

Leave a comment with your name and the answer to the following question:

Name one whole food item that you keep in your kitchen that 5 years ago, you had never heard of, let alone enjoyed eating on a regular basis.

Contest ends Tuesday, September 26, 2011 at 11:59 pm PST. One winner will be chosen at random and announced on Wednesday, September 27, 2011.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Processed, Fast Food is Not Cheaper than Real Food

Amazing article in the NYT on Sunday debunking the theory that fast food is cheaper than whole, healthy food. You call call bullshit on anyone who tries to argue with you over that again.

My tips for lowering your food costs? Shop your local ethnic markets for the best prices on dry beans, grains, spices and select produce. That photo up above? That's the "jambo" carrots from my local  Asian market. Not only will you save boatloads of money, you'll give yourself a healthy dose of laughter.

Lucky enough to have a rockin' farmers market near you? Don't be shy. Ask the sellers if they have any seconds. What's a second? It a piece of produce that doesn't look so pretty. It's ugly enough that the sellers don't want to put it out on their pretty display. You can score that produce at a fraction of the cost of the beautiful stuff. And you can ask for seconds at your favorite grocery store too.

Friday, September 23, 2011

And the Winners Are . . .

Thank you so very much for entering the HGK Giveaway of two copies of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-based Nutrition by Julieanna Hever.

Without further adieu, here are the winners!

Becky and . . .

Heather L

Congratulations to you both. Please e-mail me your full name and address to:

Ms. Hever is so kind and has volunteered to answer the three most popular questions in a guest blog post right here on HGK. Here they are, summarized by me:

(1) Children on a Plant-based diet.

 How can I make sure that my children are getting their nutritional and calorie needs met on a plant-based diet? Specifically, protein, fat, vitamin B12, iron, Omega 3s, vitamin D. Do children need supplements? Is it okay for children to eat meat or dairy on occasion?

(2) Adults on a Plant-based diet.

How do I know if I am getting enough of the right balance of nutrients? Vitamin B12, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin D? Should I supplement? We had a lot of readers asking questions specific to calcium. How can they get it from food? If they should supplement, what is the best way?

(3) The Protein Question

What is the right amount of protein? How do I know if I am getting enough? What if, due to a medical condition, someone cannot eat beans or tofu?

Once again, thank you to everyone who entered. And thank you in advance to Ms. Hever for answering our most popular questions.

If you would like to purchase your very own copy of this extremely valuable reference guide, you can get it here:

Thanks Julieanna and Alpha Books!

Have a great weekend everyone. I'll be back on Monday with another great giveaway. Whoo-hoo!!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do You Have Trouble Passing Up Food that is Not on Your Plan? What About Night-time Eating? Beck-Day 13: Overcome Cravings

I don't have any problem making great food decisions all day long.

Until 5:15 pm that is.

That's when I walk in the door after work and usually a work-out. My energy stores are very low. I'm attempting to accommodate the needs of three other little people all while trying to prepare dinner, that they wanted a half-hour ago.

If I can make it through dinner prep unscathed, there's still the rest of the evening to contend with. And that's where the battle really begins.

Eating a Plant-strong, Nutritarian diet has eliminated all of my food ghosts and goblins of the past, except for this one: night-time snacking. I have absolutely no problem resisting any food craving I have all day long, until 7 o'clock hits.

What's up with that? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

The New York Times published an article about something called "decision making fatigue." Here's a key excerpt from that article:

"The discoveries about glucose help explain why dieting is a uniquely difficult test of self-control � and why even people with phenomenally strong willpower in the rest of their lives can have such a hard time losing weight. They start out the day with virtuous intentions, resisting croissants at breakfast and dessert at lunch, but each act of resistance further lowers their willpower. As their willpower weakens late in the day, they need to replenish it. But to resupply that energy, they need to give the body glucose. They�re trapped in a nutritional catch-22:

1. In order not to eat, a dieter needs willpower.

2. In order to have willpower, a dieter needs to eat.

As the body uses up glucose, it looks for a quick way to replenish the fuel, leading to a craving for sugar. After performing a lab task requiring self-control, people tend to eat more candy but not other kinds of snacks, like salty, fatty potato chips. The mere expectation of having to exert self-control makes people hunger for sweets."

Holy s#1+. That just described me.

And the NYT isn't the only news organization talking about this phenomenon. Here's how the people at Prevention Magazine described it on NBC's The Today Show:

"Budget your resolve: Each of us has a limited supply of self-control, which means if you try to exert it in too many areas at once, you'll rapidly deplete your reserve. A study from Case Western Reserve University illustrates the point. Researchers placed freshly baked chocolate chip cookies before two groups of participants, instructing one group to eat two or three and the other to eat radishes (while watching the others partake). Then everyone was asked to try to solve an impossible puzzle. Participants who had to resist the treats gave up on the problem twice as fast as those who were allowed to indulge. 'Willpower is like gas in your car,' says Vohs. 'When you resist something tempting, you use some up. The more you resist, the emptier your tank gets, until you run out of gas.'�

That's me. I run out of "gas" at the end of the day, big time (well, not the literal kind of gas, I've got enough of that to last all night, and all morning).

Well, maybe not "big time." I wouldn't call my night time eating a binge. I've overcome any of that behavior by filling up at breakfast, lunch and dinner with high nutrient food. So what I'm really talking about here is that "treat" at the end of a busy, stressful day. But that treat, every night, is the difference between me at my happy weight and me at my something more than my happy weight. And I don't like it.

It's just like Beck says on Day 13, I have to overcome my cravings if I want to remain at a healthy weight for me. Because that's what it is: cravings. I'm not hungry at night. I'm craving a treat and my resistance is shot.

Beck says that we don't have to give into cravings and that they will disappear. Wait it out, it goes away, and over time you gain confidence that cravings do pass. Here's Beck's advice on how to do just that:

(1) Label your feeling as "just a craving" and not an "emergency" or real hunger. This is a very important step and if you don't feel that you know the difference yet, please do the exercise on Day 13.

(2) Decide you are not going to eat anything, because just that decision will relieve you of the tension. Beck says it's the not knowing that causes us the strain. Once we make a firm decision of "no" the craving should start to diminish. Do not give yourself a choice.

(3) Get involved in a compelling activity. Watching TV is probably not enough. Taking a shower, talking to a friend on the phone, reading a book or working on a project is more like it. Beck has a long list of great ideas for distractions.

(4) Drink water, tea,  or club soda. Thirst can mask as hunger.

(5) Distance yourself from the food you crave. Remove the food from your house or you from the place that the food is. I always need to remind myself to throw away whatever it is that has newly become my nighttime "treat." Guess what I'll be doing as soon as I finish writing this post!

(6) Read your Advantages Response Card to remind yourself of why you want to resist cravings.

The key is this: you don't want to strengthen you giving-in muscle. You want to build your resistance muscle. And it is a muscle. I built it once before and I can do it again.

How are you doing with resisting food that is not on your plan? Is this particularly difficult for you at night?

Got any tips and tricks for building a resistance muscle?

Just a reminder, if you haven't done so yet, please enter HGK's blogger giveaway of two copies of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant Based Nutrition. The questions are awesome so keep 'em coming. I can see some popular ones beginning to emerge from the pack!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tex Mex Quinoa with Cilantro, Lime and Apricots

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway yesterday with your most pressing plant-based nutrition question.

If you have not yet entered, please do! The contest closes on Thursday at midnight and Julieanna Hever has graciously offered to answer our 3 most popular plant-based nutrition questions in a guest post right here on HGK.

It's very interesting to read through everyone's responses. What I am struck by is the variety of questions. No single questions are being asked repeatedly by any volume of respondants . . . yet!

On to other big news, I made this quinoa salad as part of a taco bar (more on that in a later post) party that we hosted this past weekend. It was a big hit with the guests and I couldn't wait to share it with all of you.

HGK's Tex Mex Quinoa Salad with Cilantro, Lime and Apricots

Printable Recipe

1 cup quinoa
1 � cups water
1 cup packed cilantro
� cup raw pepitas
Zest of one lime
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
1 tsp ground cumin
dash or two of Cayenne pepper (depending on your heat preference)
� tsp salt (or not)
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 roma tomato, diced small
2 scallions, sliced thinly
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 avocado, � inch dice
Place quinoa and water into a rice cooker and cook, or prepare as follows: In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce heat to lowest setting and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Water should be absorbed. Fluff with a fork and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl.

In the bowl of a food processor, add cilantro, pepitas, lime zest, lime juice, orange juice concentrate, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt (optional). Process, scraping down sides, into a paste. Transfer to bowl with quinoa.
To cooked quinoa and cilantro paste, add black beans, tomato, scallions, apricots and avocado. Fold well to combine. Taste and add more Cayenne if necessary.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blogger Giveaway! Two Copies of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition

Ever had specific questions about plant-based nutrition?

Should I be worried about vitamin B12?

Is it okay for me to eat coconut?

How about nuts? What about seeds?

Is the raw food diet better than a combination of cooked and raw vegan food?

These are just some of the burning questions I've had on my quest to find my best health. What are yours?

Well, lucky for us, there's now a brand new Complete Idiot's Guide that should answer each and every question about a plant-based diet that we could ever have. And the wonderful people at Alpha Books (a member of the Penguin Group) are providing HGK with two copies to giveaway. How nice is that?

The author, Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T. is a Plant-Based Dietitian and an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer. She owns To Your Health Fitness and Nutrition in Southern California. Julieanna's website can be found here.

Here's how Julieanna describes herself:

"I am a passionate advocate of the miracles associated with following a whole food, plant-based diet. I am the nutrition columnist for VegNews Magazine, author of The Complete Idiot�s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking. I maintain a private practice Los Angeles and lectures throughout the U.S. As co-producer and star of the �infotainment� documentary To Your Health, I interviewed a host of the plant-based world�s most respected doctors and researchers to bring this important information to a broad audience. As Executive Director of EarthSave, International, I have had the opportunity to bring nutrition to the forefront of efforts to improve the current global health crisis."

Isn't she cool?

Yeah, I think so too!

Here's some of the stuff you will find in the book:

� Where to get nutrients that others get from meat and dairy.

� How to avoid the vegan pitfall of overfed but undernourished.

� How to spot hidden animal ingredients in packaged foods.

� Tips for eating at restaurants.

� Special considerations for children and seniors.

The book is designed for people who know little about plant based nutrition, and for those who are fully knowledgeable. The book may be read cover to cover or the reader can pick out items from the Table of Contents which may be of particular interest to them.

Wanna win a copy of this very exciting new book? Here's what you've gotta do for a chance to win:

(1) Subscribe to Healthy Girl's Kitchen by e-mail or RSS, if you haven't already.  You can do that in the upper left of this home page, and be sure to follow the confirmation e-mail instructions that will land in your inbox. Thank you to all of you who already are!

(2) Become a fan of Healthy Girl's Kitchen and The Complete Idiots Guide to Plant-based Nutrition on Facebook, if you aren't already, that is. And thank you to all of you who already are!

(3) Answer this question in the comments section below:
What is your most pressing plant-based nutrition question or concern?

Ms. Hever is so kind and has volunteered to answer the three most popular questions in a guest blog post right here on HGK. Look our for that in the very near future. Make sure if you are commenting as "anonymous" that you include your name in your comment, that way if you win, I know who you are! Contest closes Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 11:59 pm. Two winners will be selected at random and announced on Friday, September 23, 2011.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Are You More Excited About This? Or This?

I was having some fun fooling around with new food photography props that my friend and I had purchased yesterday and I posted the results of my shoot on Facebook:
And this photo got quite an interestingly positive response.

Contrast that with this photo:
which got a relatively dull response on facebook.

And it got me thinking, why do we get all excited about dessert pictures when we really should be getting jazzed up about photographs of nutritious food? I mean, if the world really does operate on survival of the fittest, than one would think we would have evolved to prefer looking at photos of food that would ensure our survival, not compromise it?

I'm no psychologist, although I play one on TV (does anyone remember that "doctor" commercial from the 70s?). I'm just a regular blogger who desperately wants to get her readers excited about what she posts, so in the interests of my lower self, here's how I made the gorgeous black and white parfaits.
Printable Recipe

HGK's Holier Than Thou Brownies
Perfectly delicious, whether or not you make the parfaits!

2 cups spelt flour
1 cup organic cocoa powder
1 � tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
� cup pure pumpkin
� cup applesauce
� cup strong brewed coffee
� cup almond milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (dairy, nut & soy free)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and pinch of salt into a bowl. Stir to combine.

Whisk maple syrup, pumpkin, applesauce, coffee, almond milk and vanilla into another bowl. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and add chocolate chips. Pour into a  9� X 13� pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil spray.

Bake for 30 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Chef Aj's Pear Creme Anglaise
1 28 ounce jar of canned pears in their own juice, drained
1/3 cup raw cashews
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp vanilla

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend well, scraping down sides as necessary.

Shoot 'Em Up Parfaits
inspired by a trip to Seasons 52 Restaurant

Prepare brownies and let cool. Prepare Pear Creme Anglaise.

Into tall shot glasses, layer crumbled pieces of brownie alternating with Pear Creme Anglaise.

Garnish with berries and mint leaves. Refrigerate until serving time.
I think he likes it.

Do you prefer to read postings and see pictures of vegan desserts more than pictures and postings of savory food? Why? Does viewing dessert wear down your resistance muscle and build up your giving in muscle? What are your thoughts and feelings on this phenomenon?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Salt Questions and The Soup of the Year: Red Lentil with Cauliflower and Indian Spice

I know you've experienced this scenario before: your favorite restaurant serves a dish and you think it's the best thing since sliced bread. And you wanna make it at home, because there is no way you could ever get enough of this dish. So you set about making said food yourself and hope for the best.

That's how this recipe came into being. My BP (business partner) and I created this soup recipe as a joint venture. Pretty funny since our usual jobs are managing a custom invitation printing company. But Red Lentil with Indian Spice soup was so near and dear to our hearts after eating it and loving it for so long at Organic Energy, we had to try creating an oil-free, low salt version for ourselves (more on salt after the recipe).

My husband pronounced, "it's the soup of the year!" It really is that good. Just don't make it when you are in a time crunch.

Red Lentil Soup with Cauliflower and Indian Spice
Makes 7 servings (2-cups each)
Printable Recipe
2 cups red or orange lentils
6 cups water
3 plum tomatoes
2 cups yellow onion, finely chopped
6 Tbsp low sodium vegetable broth
4 medium cloves garlic, chopped and made into a paste by sprinkling 1 tsp of kosher or sea salt (to act as an abrasive) and crush with the side of a large chopping knife over the mixture until the garlic breaks down and becomes paste like. Skip salt altogether if you cannot go there and just finely chop the garlic!
1 tsp white or black sesame seed
2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp fennel seed
2 tsp brown or yellow mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
2 tsp turmeric
1 � cups unsweetened almond milk
1 � tsp coconut extract
1 lime, juiced
1 14 ounce bag frozen cauliflower
Optional: a dash or two of cayenne pepper (I used two)
salt (I added 1 tsp more for the whole pot) or salt free seasoning
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Take frozen cauliflower out of freezer and leave on counter to partially defrost. Measure seeds (sesame, cumin, fennel and mustard) and place into one small bowl and set aside.

Place lentils in a metal sieve and rinse well with cold water.

Fill a medium sauce pan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Score the peel of the base of the tomatoes with a sharp knife in the shape of an �X.� Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Drain the tomatoes and run them under cold water. Once cool, peel and finely chop the tomatoes, discarding the tough stem ends.

In the same medium sauce pan that you used for the tomatoes, place lentils and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Turn off heat when lentils are finished and put to the side. Do not drain lentils or discard the cooking liquid, you will need this later!

Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. When pot is hot, add the seed mix and jiggle the pot around. You want to toast the seeds but be careful not to burn them. They are ready when they look toasty and you smell something wonderful. At the sign of any burning, lower the heat immediately. When seeds are toasty, add onion and 3 Tbsp vegetable broth. Stir frequently and �saut� onion for 5 minutes.

Add garlic/salt paste and 3 more Tbsp vegetable broth. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently and lowering the heat if the onion/garlic/spices start to burn. Add turmeric, bay leaves, almond milk, coconut extract and peeled chopped tomatoes. Stir. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop partially defrosted cauliflower and add to pot. Add lentils and their cooking liquid and lime juice and simmer for 20 minutes.

Optional: Partially puree soup with an immersion blender. Season with Cayenne pepper and/or salt or salt free seasoning to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Blanching the tomatoes really does take just one minute so the skin will peel off. You don�t want to cook the tomatoes.
You can leave this soup to simmer for a long time and the flavors will only get better.

This soup is absolutely delicious. But BP and I were very fascinated by the taste difference between our version and the restaurant version of the soup. It got us talking about salt. We calculated the amount of added sodium (from the salt, not the other ingredients which also contain natural amounts of sodium) per 2-cup serving (yes, a large serving) and it came to about 650 mg of sodium.

That's a decent amount of sodium. But by no means does our version even begin to taste "salty." We talked about how much better it would taste with more salt and either real coconut milk or oil, but neither one of us is willing to go there anymore!

The point is, that even a soup with 650 mg of added sodium per serving does NOT taste salty to us. And even more importantly, I thought I was creating a low sodium soup by only having 2 tsp of salt in the entire big pot of soup. I now know that 2 tsp of salt is 4600 mg of sodium, which calculated out to a whopping 650 mg/serving.

So how much sodium is in foods that DO taste salty to our palate? A whole crap load, I'm sure of it now.

What are your thoughts/experiences with salt? Are you struggling with this? Do you add it to recipes anymore or have you eliminated it from your home cooked food?

What is the best salt-free seasoning? I'm now considering purchasing a whole truckload of it! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Big List of No-oil Salad Dressings

Don't let anyone tell you there aren't options when it comes to no-oil salad dressings!

A HUGE thank you goes out to everyone who contributed to this list. I am amazed, awed and inspired buy all of you. Anyone want to contribute more? Send 'em in to and I'll post a second list next week.

Please note: many of these dressings are not fat free and include healthy sources of fat such as nuts, seeds, avocado or tofu. If you have a heart condition, Dr. Esselstyn recommends removing all nuts, seeds and avocado from your diet. But there are still plenty of salad dressing options, as evidenced by our list below!

Almond Ginger Dressing
adapted from a recipe from
makes about 2 1/2 cups

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened soy, hemp or almond milk
1 cup water
4 tablespoons tahini or unhulled sesame seeds
6 dates, pitted
2 small cloves garlic or 1 medium clove garlic
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled

Place all ingredients into a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add more water if a thinner consistency is desired.

Chef AJ's Husband's Favorite No-oil Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 cup of Balsamic Vinegar (4% acidity preferred)*
4 Tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast
3 Tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce, coconut aminos or tamari (Trader Joes brand has only 465 mg of sodium per tablespoons)
3 tablespoons of date syrup (or date equivalent) -could use maple syrup
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend. Refrigerate any unused portion.

*Using a good balsamic makes all the difference in this recipe.Most balsamic vinegars have at least 6% acidity and they are very strong and sharp. Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve, available at Whole Foods has only 4% acidity and it is naturally sweeter and less sharp.

Engine 2 Inspired Orange Hummus Dressing
It's not the exact recipe out of The Engine 2 Diet Book, but I think it's better!

3 Tbsp plain Hummus
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated on a microplane
1 tsp maple syrup

Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.

HGK Note: Just a reminder, you can keep fresh ginger (in a ziploc baggie) and orange juice concentrate (just spoon out what you need and reseal the container) in your freezer at all times, which I do. And hummus, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and mustard are all staples in any Healthy Girl's kitchen. That makes this dressing a snap to throw together without having to stress about making a trip to the grocery store.

Cashew Currant Dressing 
adapted from a recipe from
Serves: 2-4

1/4 cup raw cashews or 2 tablespoons raw cashew butter
1/3 cup unsweetened soy, hemp or almond milk
1 peeled apple, sliced
2 tablespoons dried currants or raisins

Blend cashews or cashew butter with soy milk and sliced apples in a high powered blender until smooth. Add the currants and blend well.

Dr. Barnard's Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette
Makes enough dressing for 1 large salad

1 large roasted red pepper
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Serve and enjoy.

Lori's Red Pepper Dressing
inspired by Dr. Barnard's Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette
"I often start with a jar of roasted peppers and then add what ever inspires me that day.  I had a can of artichoke hearts and some fresh basil that needed to be used."

1 jar roasted red peppers (with liquid)
1 can artichoke hearts (with liquid)
1/2 c. fresh basil
2 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbs. raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients and enjoy :) 

Keeps for at least 1 week in the refrigerator.

Healthy Girl's Asian Low Oil Dressing
adapted from a recipe from

1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil, toasted
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

Dr. Fuhrman's Almond Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves: 6

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup roasted garlic rice vinegar (I used plain rice vinegar)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup raw almonds or 1/8 cup raw almond butter
1/4 cup raisins
4 cloves garlic, pressed (I used 3)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender.

E2 Basics Dressing

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp mustard
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon, lime or orange
1 Tbsp agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
1 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp wheat germ
Water to desired consistency (I didn't use any)

Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.

Dijon Pistachio Dressing /Dip

1 1/3 cups water
1 cup raw pistachio nuts, unsalted
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
4 teaspoons Dr. Fuhrman's VegiZest or Mrs. Dash seasoning
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 deglet noor dates or 2 or 3 medjool dates

Blend all ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.

Tomato-Basil Dressing
recipe courtesy Kitchen of Health

2 roma tomatoes, cored
1 red bell pepper, cored
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. sundried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
6-8 basil leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash of sea salt
~1 c. water

Blend 1st seven ingredients and half of the water until smooth. Add more water until you attain the desired consistency. Refrigerate unused portions. Makes about 3 cups.

Orange Peach Mango Dressing
recipe courtesy Kitchen of Health

1 c. sliced peaches, peeled
1 c. sliced mangoes, peeled
1 c. orange juice
1/2 c. rice vinegar
1 Tb. grated fresh ginger

Blend until smooth. If needed, add water for a desirable consistency. Refrigerate unused portions. Makes about 3 cups.

Creamy Avocado Dressing
recipe courtesy Kitchen of Health

2 avocados, peeled and pitted
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. lime zest
1 cucumber
~1/2 c. water
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 to 1 tsp. chili powder
Dash of sea salt

Blend all ingredients together until smooth, adjusting water to get desired consistency. Refrigerate unused portions. Makes 3+ cups.

Lindsey and Danny's No-oil Dressing

I don't have exact measurements/ratios, we just go by the bottle we make it in. but we use tahini (the kind without water added), apple cider vinegar, tomato paste(no salt added), and season with garlic and onion powder, and a little basil and oregano - so yum!

Sharon's Japanese Exchange Student Dressing

Equal parts:
Crushed onion
Rice Vinegar
Sweet Saki
Soy Sauce

The Healthy Librarian's Creamy Chipotle Dressing

10.5 ounces of Mori-Nu Silken firm low-fat tofu
1/2 tsp. nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I wanted this to be easy, so I used Santa Cruz's bottled organic real lemon juice)   Note:  I bet lime juice would be good, too!
1 1/2 teaspoons agave, or brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 dried chipotle  (I found this at my regular grocery store--if you're "heat"-sensitive, start with a half, & then add more.
3 tablespoons of chopped shallots  (I've really grown to love this delicate onion-like veg)
1/2 teaspoon of salt (or not)
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of paprika (I think this is for color---I also made it with smoked paprika, which makes it spicier--but we liked it that way.  But, I'm just warning you....)
1 fresh garlic clove, minced

Put everything into your blender or Vita-Mix and blend until it's all smooth.  Taste it--and adjust the seasoning.  If you don't like things too hot, use less chipotle to start, taste, and then add more.

This dressing keeps in the refrigerator, covered well, for a week.  Serve chilled.

Kristy's Basic Dressing

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon grainy mustard (get mustard with no sugar)
1 packet Splenda or other sweetener

Shake well or whisk up.

For a change I will sometimes combine balsamic and red wine, this makes it lighter. I also make it with white wine vinegar. It's delicious on salads or vegetables, almost anything!

Mandy's Spicy Vinaigrette
"Here is one I got from my favorite beach on the Florida panhandle "George's at Aly's Beach". They did not give me the measurements, just the ingredients. So these are all to taste, but the way I like it! You can add more kick if you want!"
Prep time -- No time! Maybe 1 minute :)

1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 - 3/4 tsp "Chili Garlic Sauce" by Huy Fong Vietnamese Foods (can buy at Walmart,,, etc.)

Whisk together ingredients. Adjust more chili garlic sauce to taste.

Nathan Pritikin's Italian Dressing
Submitted by Anonymous, who found that flavors are better on the second day.

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup salad vinegar (I use rice vinegar)
1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate
1/4 cup water
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 tsp. dried sage
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients.

HGK's Creamy Asian Dressing
adapted from a recipe from This dressing rocks!
makes 2 1/4 cups

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 cup raw almonds
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
juice of one lime (2+ Tbsp, and you could even use more)
4 Tbsp mellow white miso
6 dates pitted or 1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce or Tamari or Nama Shoyu
1 cup water

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until creamy.

Creamy Vegan Ranch Dressing
"The original recipe from calls for some oil, but I just skipped it and never missed it (i made it both ways and honestly can't tell the difference)! This is a great starting point for other flavor combinations. I've made a southwest version that was wonderful on a taco salad." Megan in Portlandmakes about 2 cups

15 ounces silken tofu, drained/squeezed dry
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp celery seed
3/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp fine black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 Tbsp maple syrup - grade b (start with 1 Tbsp and add to taste, I found 2 was too sweet)
salt to taste

Place all ingredients into blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Me Again's Fruity Orange Dressing
"This really compliments a salad that includes the orange slices and a few raisins, plus what ever else you might like in your salad"

Supreme an orange for salad, then squeeze out all juice from remaining orange into small bowl. Add equal amount (+/-) raspberry vinegar or rice vinegar, equal amount (+/-) water, some minced onion or shallot, a few shakes of Mrs Dash seasoning, and a small amount of your favorite sweetener. Whisk together.

Cooking in Color's Simple No-oil Dressing

Equal parts Dijon or stone-ground mustard, agave nectar, and unseasoned rice wine vinegar

Cooking in Color's Catalina Dressing

1/4 c. ketchup
2 Tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. minced onion, 1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie's Naturals Organic Worcestershire sauce)
sprinkling of black pepper
optional: apple juice

Blend this up until smooth and add about 1/4 c. water or until desired thickness. I occasionally make this sweeter by adding some apple juice.

Piquant Dressing
from Jennifer Raymond's vegetarian cookbook Fat-Free and Easy
"Here's one my DH likes - it is . Taste it for sweetness - sometimes I add some agave nectar or maple syrup." Nanette Blanchard
Makes about 1/3 cup

1/4 c. seasoned rice vinegar (I use unseasoned)
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. stone ground mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed or crushed
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp cumin

Whisk all ingredients together.

Cooking in Color's Smoky Tomato Dressing
based on one in Joanne Stepaniak's The Saucy Vegetarian

1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c apple juice
1/4 c white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic
several drops of liquid smoke
salt and pepper to taste

Blend this until smooth, adding water to dilute until desired thickness. (Extra sweetener might be needed depending on the sweetness of the ketchup.)

If too thick dilute it with a little water or orange juice to desired consistency.

The recipe indicates no tahini hummus for a fat free recipe but regular hummus can be used.

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease's Hummus Salad Dressing
"My favorite dressing of all time is the Hummus Salad Dressing in Dr. Esselstyn's book 'Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.' It goes so well with green lettuce salads, any other salads (tomato, cucumber, artichoke,celery, etc) and rice or grains salad. Tangy and delicious! It sticks well to lettuce leaves. I always have a container with some of this dressing in my fridge." Jos
Makes 1/4 cup

2 heaping tablespoons no tahini hummus
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or vinegar of choice
1/2 teaspoon mustard of choice

Mix and use or refrigerate for later use.

Chef Aj's House Dressing
courtesy of Chef Aj,

1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons Dijon or stone ground mustard
4 tablespoons sodium tamari or raw coconut aminos
6 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
8 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon date syrup or maple syrup

Place all ingredients into blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Jane Esselstyn's 3-2-1 Dressing
 "It�s so easy and good and you can make lots of variations." Penny Urwiler

3 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp agave (HGK would sub in maple syrup)

Appetite for Reduction's Basic Dressing
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
"I�ve made this with different vinegars and mustards, always good." Penny Urwiler

� cup cashew pieces
2 Tbsp chopped shallot
� cup water
� cup vinegar
2 tsp Dijon
1 tsp agave (HGK would sub in maple syrup)
� tsp salt
A few pinches of pepper

Blend 5 minutes in blender or until very smooth.

Tom Fronczak's Fruity No-oil Dressing

1/4 cup blueberries (or raspberries, strawberries, peaches etc etc)
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
4 whole dates (I prefer dates to sweeten, but you could use agave, or maple syrup)
1 small shallot
1 T sunflower seeds (Dr Fuhrman tells us some fat in a salad aids nutrient absorption)
splash of water
Dash of some fresh black pepper

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend it up and enjoy! Refrigerates well for 4-5 days.

Appetite for Reduction's Green Goddess Garlic Dressing
"I would have been happy taking a bath in it. Delicious." Ally G

2-3 average sized cloves of garlic
1/2 C fresh chives
1/2 cup fresh parsley
3 T tahini
2 T nutritional yeast
1 T miso
1/3 C water
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t salt

Pulse the garlic, the chives, and the parsley in a food processor to chop everything up. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until very smooth. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides a few times. Now adjust to your liking. More salt, more garlic, you can thin the dressing with a 1 or 2 T of water. Note, it will thicken a bit as it's refrigerated, so if it appears thin, don't worry.

Very Benevolent Caesar Salad Dressing
"I've been making this dressing for two years now, and I'm ready for a change, so I'm excited to see your list! I got this from Miyoko Schinner when I attended a five-day McDougall course out in Santa Rosa. It was heaven.

Anyway, I'll write the dressing as she created it (omitting the oil of course). But I sub out the almond meal for wheat germ�it's a perfectly great substitute, you don't miss the fatty almond meal at all (but it is wicked tasty with warned!! )." Mairead (a.k.a. chickpeafreak)

2 tablespoons almond meal (or wheat germ)
3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water

Combine almond meal, garlic, mustard and nutritional yeast to make a paste, then whisk in the remaining ingredients.

Jen's Sweet & Spicy Dressing
"This is almost fat free. This sweet dressing helps cut the bitterness of greens and was an instant family favorite."

2 tsp Major Grey's Mango Chutney
1.5 tsp Apricot Jam
1.5 tsp Dijon Mustard
1.5 tsp Real Hellman's Mayo
1 Tbsp almond or soy milk to thin

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk.

HGK Note: To make this "oil-free," try substituting 1 1/2 tsp raw cashew butter for the mayo.

Jen's Easy/Out of a Jar Dressing

Trader Joe's or Whole Food's Brand 365 Salsa Verde or
Green Mountain Gringo Salsa

Use on taco-style salad.

Chef Aj's Orange Sesame Miso
from her book Unprocessed
It is so easy!!!

4 peeled oranges
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons low sodium miso

Put everything in blender and whiz! Especially good on kale. Massage it in!

Diane�s Balsamic Vinaigrette
This will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks if it lasts that long

1 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
*1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3-4 cloves raw garlic
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons Agave Nectar (I use 1 tbsp because I like it more on the tart side)
**1/2 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (the key to making it gel like an oil wood)

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until very smooth and emulsified.  Taste for sweetness and add more agave to taste.  Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  Dressing will thicken as it chills.

*Use the best quality red wine vinegar you can find for the best flavored dressing.  I (Diane) use Organic Cabernet Sauvignon wine vinegar by Kimberely.  You will find them online at They are very nice folks and you can get it shipped directly.  I buy 5-6 bottles at a time as I don�t want to run out.  But you can use any good quality red wine vinegar you can find as well.

**Xanthan or guar gums are excellent thickeners for oil-free dressings because they thicken without heat as the dressing chills in the refrigerator. 

Video Tutorial: Homemade Natural Deodorant

Just use baking soda, corn starch, coconut oil, and essential oil ...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Heat Training: The "Benefits"

{Stretched texture shot}
heat training /het 'traniNG/  Noun
the loosening of one's natural curl pattern through the regular application of high heat.  This process is usually gradual and subtle. (Loo's definition.)

Heat training is essentially a form of heat damage, which is why I have been so against the technique for some years.  However, my thoughts have changed recently since seeing a class of "healthy" heat-trained naturals arise.  Here is one of these naturals sharing her views: Longhairdontcare2011.

"Healthy heat-trained hair" may seem like an oxymoron but I can argue the same with "healthy hair".  Our strands face damage on a regular basis through sun exposure, styling, washing, detangling, and other forms of wear and tear.  So where do we drawn the line between what is healthy hair and what is not?  I think it reasonable to draw it between hair that is strong and supple (healthy) and that which is breaking and brittle (unhealthy). To me, hair that retains a reasonable level of strength and suppleness is hair that is healthy.  That being said, there is such a thing as heat-trained hair that is strong, supple, ... and thus healthy.  However, this is only true for some ladies.  Keep in mind that heat training can work well for some naturals and not so well for others.  For the former group I answer the following question ...


1. Easier Detangling ...
comes with a loosening of the curl pattern. For some naturals, the mass of curls/coils/kinks makes detangling a very tedious task. Generally, I�d say, �suck it up�, but as my hair has gotten longer, I can truly understand how brutal such a task can be for some naturals.  It can be brutal to the point of mechanical damage (e.g., breakage from impatient combing sessions).

2. Fewer SSKs ...
will form if the hair is heat trained.  What is a single-strand knot (SSK)?  It is essentially a knot formed from a strand of hair that has wrapped around itself.  What is a conducive environment for SSKs?  A mass of coils and kinks.  SSKs translate into more trims and sometimes breakage.  Heat training or other hair care steps (read here) can mitigate this issue.

3. Length Retention ...
comes with easier detangling and fewer SSKs.  "Proper" heat training can theoretically help some naturals achieve longer lengths.  Will I ever heat train for length retention?  In all honesty, I do not know yet.

4. Increased Versatility ...
is another benefit of heat training.  It becomes easier to achieve stretched or straight styles when desired.  Additionally, these styles will last longer.

Help! Send Me Your Oil-Free Salad Dressing Recipes

Probably the most frequent request I get as a no-oil Plant-strong blogger is "Help, I need a great no-oil salad dressing recipe." While there are many no-oil dressing recipes sprinkled throughout my hundreds of blog postings, I thought it would be a good idea to do a post on this subject and this subject alone.

So I'm asking for your help. I want to create a large list of no-oil salad dressing recipes, easily printable of course. I will post the recipes that have already been featured on HGK, and any that you submit to me within the next couple of days. If you are a blogger, please include your url so I can give you a shout out. Oh, and if the recipe is not your original creation, ie it's from a book or other site, I must publish the author's name, so please send that information along as well.

Please send recipes to

I think we can all benefit from a master list like this.

Thanks in advance for your help!