Not Milk?  

Why my recipes are more vegan than vegetarian

Some of you have asked why my recipes focus on veganism (plant foods only) as opposed to vegetarianism (plant foods plus dairy and maybe eggs).

It is simple enough to develop vegetarian recipes using dairy and eggs. The trouble vegan cooks often have is that when they substitute vegan alternatives to milk and eggs, the results are often less than satisfactory. Making substitutions the other way around – say, replacing soy milk with cow’s milk – is usually fine. So I develop recipes that work as vegan and leave it up to readers to make substitutions according to their preferences. I also sometimes provide vegetarian options for people who like to eat dairy. For example, I might mention that dairy lovers have the option of using low fat cheese or sour cream as toppings.

Another reason I lean toward vegan foods is that plant foods are the healthiest for people -- and our planet.

Perhaps the best reason is that really good vegan recipes are surprisingly rare. Vegan fare tends to be unnecessarily boring, unappealing, bland, nutritionally imbalanced and not prepared for maximum health.

I develop recipes that make no compromises on either flavor or nutrition.

Many recipes published in vegan and vegetarian cookbooks call for refined or overly processed ingredients and harmful cooking methods that not only destroy most nutrients during cooking but also can transform the meal into food that is toxic to the body.

Using an oil that has a low smoking point for cooking with extensive or high heat generate harmful trans fats, which raise LDL (bad) cholesterol while simultaneously Amira Elganreduce HDL (good) cholesterol. Studies have found that there is no level of trans fats safe for human consumption. Our intake of trans fatty acids should be zero.

Currently manufacturers do not list trans fats information on food labels. Beginning January 1, 2006, all manufacturers will be required to list trans fatty acids content in the food label’s Nutrition Facts panels of all packaged foods.

Such government regulation is a step in the right direction, providing consumers with better information to make healthier choices -- on packaged foods, anyway. The problem is that trans fatty acids will continue to sneak into our diets, hidden in other foods we buy at restaurants and even prepare ourselves.

To learn more about fats please read the following:

What is Fat?
Bad Fat
Good Fat
Cutting Fat to Lose Weight

To learn more about oils please read the following:

Cooking Fats and Oils
What’s the Difference? Not All Oils Are Created Equal
Oil and the Art of Cooking

Wholesome, fresh ingredients are generally best for your health. But most vegetarian recipes I come across use way too much added fat. Many call for processed soy foods like tofu dogs, soy sausage, soy deli meats and other processed foods which, while they might be better than the real meat products, are nonetheless processed foods made with refined ingredients and even questionable and untested additives. They also tend to be high in sodium or sugar.

Like any manufactured foods, processed soy products have vitamins mainly because they are fortified—not much remains of their original natural nutrients and enzymes.

My recipes are designed to be nutritionally balanced and rich in vitamins and minerals using the best wholesome ingredients. At the same time, I provide alternatives and suggestions for those who don’t have the time to make everything from scratch. I also tailor my recipes to use the safest and most healthful cooking methods to maximize the retention of nutrients while preventing the formation of harmful chemicals.

The bottom line is that plant foods are best. With that in mind, I design my recipes to be well balanced, tasty, nutritious and ecologically friendly.

Ultimately I don't expect people to change their eating habits overnight, and I certainly don’t intend to force my views on anyone. But I do believe that vegetarian – and, yes, vegan – organic foods can and should taste far better than “mainstream” foods, and of course be incredibly healthy at the same time. I hope my recipes prove that.

On another note, I'd like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the readers who attended the cooking class I recently taught at Whole Foods Market Salud! Cooking & Lifestyle School in San Mateo, California. It was great meeting them and I really appreciate their support and enthusiasm.

I'd love to hear from you. Click here to send e-mail!

The Art of Prioritizing

As a society, we tend to live life in the fast lane. Our time is valuable, our free time priceless.

The main influential factor on how we spend our “free time” is often determined by our busy work schedule. In general, there are many things we want to do and little time to do them in. The result is that we’re often forced to pick and choose what we actually do—we prioritize. Going through this process day after day can be tricky and years can go by before we realize we haven’t done what we wanted to.

The simple act of prioritizing our to-do-list can greatly shape many aspects of our lives without our full awareness. When we assign priority to our tasks we are not simply ranking our tasks, we’re in fact deciding how important something is to us and in turn influencing whether or not we can achieve our goals. Our decisions and actions ultimately define our lives because each time we make a decision we are in effect choosing what we do with the time we have to live.

Each and every thing we do adds up to, and affects, the kind of lives we lead. All the things we do are intertwined and the consequences cumulative.

As we get older we reach a maturity level that allows us to enjoy certain wisdom we usually don’t experience during our early years. As we go through life, we realize that life is indeed short and that we’re not immortal. At some point we begin to think about the meaning of life and somehow we feel the urge to make the most of each day we live and aspire to make our time on this planet count.

While it is hard to have a perspective about the future, I have discovered that it's very powerful to picture myself in old age looking back at my life and asking myself, “Have I lived my life the way I wanted to? Have I had a meaningful life? Do I have any regrets?” I can then think more clearly about my present and can make more educated and meaningful choices that bring me closer to a promising future and fulfilling life. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Make the most of yourself for that is all there is of you”.

Words of Wisdom

“The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.”

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Food For Thought

Salt is present in nearly all the foods we eat and many of beverages we drink. Salt is added to food because it enhances flavor. Table salt (NaCl or sodium chloride) is about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Sodium is a mineral that is essential to health.

Salt acts as a preservative on processed food. For centuries, salt has been used to preserve dry fish and meat. Sodium is a common ingredient in most refined foods and is also found in baking powder, baking soda and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer, and even in preservatives such as sodium benzoate and sodium propionate. Sodium can also be found in soft drinks and over-the-counter medications.

Sodium is necessary for many bodily functions such as cellular fluid exchange and the ability of nerves to transmit impulses to muscles, as well as muscles' ability to contract.

However, too much sodium can cause muscles to be weak and cramp up.

Sodium regulates cells’ fluid pressure. As a result, high intake of salt can cause or exacerbate high blood pressure or hypertension, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.

Although sodium is an essential mineral, all we need is an intake of about 115 milligrams a day -- or a twentieth of a teaspoon. Most of us eat way too much salt, far more than the current 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day the government recommends (that’s about a heaping teaspoon of salt) and – because it is considered too high by many health experts – should be taken with “a grain of salt.”

Studies show that the average person consumes more than 4,000 milligrams a day, mainly because restaurant meals, snacks, chips, packaged foods in general are almost always made with too much salt.

A new recommendation by the Institute of Medicine has been set to a daily upper limit of 2,300 milligrams but it’s strongly recommended that a young adult’s daily intake of sodium does not exceed 1,500 milligrams. People over 50 should not exceed 1,300 milligrams and those over 70 should not exceed an intake of 1,200 milligrams.

Good Things In Store

Redmond RealSalt is an all-natural sea salt that also comes in a kosher variety and is the best tasting salt I’ve ever had.

RealSalt is extracted from the depths of the earth in a small town in Utah called Redmond. Unlike table salt, you buy RealSalt in its purest natural form. It is not bleached, kiln dried, heated or altered with chemicals or preservatives.

RealSalt is a mineral rock salt so it contains natural trace minerals, which make it look very different from the bleached salts we’re used to eating. You can find it at health food stores.

The Research Department

A recent study has found a correlation between obesity and increased consumption of high fructose corn syrup. A popular sweetener among manufacturers for its low cost, corn syrup is used to sweeten soft drinks, fast foods, packaged foods and processed foods.

According to researchers, the increase of weight among the population in the U.S. and other countries was slow and steady for most of the past century but spiked during the 1980s as corn syrup became the sweetener of choice by manufacturers.

Our obesity epidemic shouldn’t be blamed on corn sweetener alone. We have made the choice to eat and drink the junk food produced by manufacturers and restaurant chains that, in the last 30 years, have profited from our weakness for fast and cheap foods.

While these empty-calorie foods expand our waistlines they leave us starving for the nutrients they lack. That "starvation" results in more overeating of the same junk food. This vicious cycle, along with our sedentary life styles, is what is causing our obesity epidemic -- the underlying cause of heart attacks, diabetes and cancer.

Vegetarian Organic Recipe of the Week

Click on the picture for a closer look!

Spring Greens and Chickpea Salad with Oil-Free Creamy Balsamic Dressing (vegan)
Serves 6

Eating combination salads composed of lettuces, beans, vegetables and seeds is a simple, nutritious and delightful way of eating several servings of wholesome foods in one complete meal that also provides complete protein. Dairy lovers can add some feta cheese if desired.

Preparation time: 12 minutes      Equipment: Food processor or blender

Get ingredients ready (use organic ingredients if possible)

2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
16 ounces baby mixed greens (about 6 handfuls)
2 thin carrots, sliced or shredded
2 small tomatoes, diced
˝ small onion, diced
2 ounces baked tofu, diced into small cubes (Italian flavor)
2 tablespoons hulled raw sunflower seeds

Dressing: (yields about 1 cup)
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup low-fat silken tofu (soft)
⅓ small onion
6 fresh garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
˝ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
˝ teaspoon sea salt

1. Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl without mixing or tossing. In the meantime, in a blender or food processor, combine all the dressing ingredients and puree until completely smooth. Store dressing in a glass jar in refrigerator for up to 10 days.

2. Pour about 3 (or more if desired) tablespoons of dressing onto the salad gently tossing and mixing thoroughly. Serve on plates and add more freshly ground pepper if desired.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount Per Serving




Calories From Fat (24%)



% Daily Value

Total Fat 4.00g


Saturated Fat 0.41g


Monounsaturated Fat 0.62g


Polyunsaturated Fat  1.67g


Trans Fatty Acids 0.00g


Cholesterol 0.40mg


Sodium 50.93mg


Potassium 316.34mg


Carbohydrates 19.86g


Dietary Fiber 5.83g


Sugar 4.82g


Sugar Alcohols 0.00g


Net Carbohydrates 14.03g


Protein 7.34g



% Daily Value

Vitamin A 2770.62IU


Vitamin C 5.67mg


Calcium 41.39mg


Iron 1.93mg


Thiamin 0.16mg


Riboflavin 0.06mg


Niacin 0.78mg


Vitamin B6 0.16mg


Folate 110.09mg


Pantothenic Acid 0.45mg


Phosphorus 128.44mg


Magnesium 42.91mg


Zinc 1.09mg


Copper 0.27mg


Manganese 0.69mg


Selenium 3.87mg



Nutrition Facts: 1 tablespoon of dressing

Amount Per Serving




Calories From Fat (1%)



% Daily Value

Total Fat 0.04g


Saturated Fat 0.01g


Monounsaturated Fat 0.01g


Polyunsaturated Fat  0.02g


Trans Fatty Acids 0.00g


Cholesterol 0.0mg


Sodium 51.51mg


Potassium 15.09mg


Carbohydrates 0.91g


Dietary Fiber 0.05g


Sugar 0.13g


Sugar Alcohols 0.00g


Net Carbohydrates 0.86g


Protein 0.20g


 Percent daily value based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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This newsletter is not intended to provide and replace medical advice. The author and editor expressly disclaim all responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from any information, diet or exercise suggestions. It is imperative that the advice of a physician is sought before any diet or exercise programs are adopted.

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