Ani Phyo's Miso Mushroom Soup & Newtootole's Zucchini Cheesy Pasta

Both dishes were a hit with my family. My daughter (18 months) absolutely loved the mushroom soup, and my hubby thoroughly enjoyed the cheesy pasta.

I added Spinach to Newtootole's Zucchini Cheesy Pasta

 Dish is credited to Ani Phyo from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen

Low-Fat Diet A Factor In Weight Loss, Maintenance (Published in the Blackbealt Gazette))

A diet low in fat is another contributing factor to weight loss and maintenance. Yet, the elimination of fat in one’s diet is neither beneficial nor healthy. Fat keeps our skin plump and when it thins out wrinkles appear. Fat is also responsible for renewing cells and other bodily functions. And it is fat that gives great flavor to most of our favorite meals and satiates our appetites.
While trans fat and hydrogenated fat should be completely eliminated from our diets, saturated fats found in meats, dairy, and other animal products should also be limited if not all together eliminated. This is especially beneficial for those who are diabetic, prone to heart disease, and have high blood pressure/cholesterol.
Not all fats have a bad rep. Monounsaturated and Omega 3, 6, and 9 fats reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol. Cold-pressed olive oil is by far one of the most beneficial cooking oils as well as coconut oil (healthier saturated oil), avocado, and macadamia nut oil. Monounstaturated fats are also found in canola oil, avocados, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, pine nuts, peanut butter (other nut butters), and olives. Non-seafood omega-3 fatty acids are found in omega-3 fortified eggs, flaxseeds, walnuts, seaweed, walnut oil, canola oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and soybeans.
A few recipes to incorporate good fats into your diet:

ChocoAvo Pudding/Fondue
2 hass avocados
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8-1/4 cup chocolate/cocoa powder (the more chocolate the bitter the taste)

Process all ingredients until green is no longer visible, scrap the sides if necessary. Serve with strawberries or other desired fruits.

Rasberry Ganache Fudge

3 cups dry walnuts, ½ cup cacao powder , ¼ teaspoon sea salt, 1 cup pitted Medjool dates.

Put the walnuts, cacao powder, and salt in the food processor and pulse until coarsely mixed. Add the dates and pulse until mixed well. Shape “dough” into 2 cakes and set aside.

1/3 cup semi-soft dates, 1/4 cup agave syrup, 1/2 cup ripe avocado flesh, 1/4 cup cacao powder.

Combine the dates and agave in the food processor and process until smooth. Add the avocado and process until smooth. Add the cacao powder and process until smooth.

1/2 cup raspberries

Spread half the frosting on top of one cake and top with the raspberries. Stack the second cake on top and frost the top and side. Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator for a couple hours to firm up.

Review: Flying Apron's Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book

Thanks to this new cookbook I've been able to bake so many delicious goodies including the bread you see in the picture above. The author, Jennifer Katzinger, is the owner of Flying Apron Bakery in Seattle, Washington. The bakery was initially vegan with the exception of a few egg based cookies, but with the growing demand of gluten-free goods they began to cater to various food intolerances and allergies (gluten, lactose, egg, nut, etc).  There isn't much information about the difference in traditional and gluten free texture or the reasons for flour (rice with garbanzo or rice and cornflour) combinations, but the wonderful recipes and photos by awarding winning photographer, Kathryn Barnard make up for the loss.

There are recipes for cookies,scones, bars, tea breads, muffins, pie crusts, filling, frosting, cakes, breads (do not skip on ingredients), and non-baking recipes (indian dal, soups, etc)

I highly recommend this cookbook for all who want to incorporate healthier (cholesterol free, sweet sugar substitutes, and protein) options and various grains into their diet.

Try Cardio-Aerobics For Rapid Weight Loss (Published in the Blackbelt Gazette)

I must admit although I have been conscious of healthy eating for a while, exercise was not my forte. So, I would have sporadic months of dedication, mainly when I put on a little extra weight. In college, access to free gym equipment made it incredibly easy to keep the pounds off, but I only had free time before my 8 o’clock class. So, I dedicated a year of my life to waking at the crack of dawn, score the elliptical for 60 minutes, strength train with free weights for 20, and sit-ups plus side-bends for 10. Yes I was lean. Yes I had energy. Yes I knew this wasn’t a going to be a permanent component of my lifestyle.

Exercise is hard when you’re not having fun, and that’s why it is left out or easily dropped from our lifestyle.
In deciding a good routine, take a look in the mirror and notice where you gain weight. Are you a banana, apple, pear, or hour glass shape? Determining your shape will help you decide how to personalize your routine. Consider a workout that will not only target your main trouble area, but also tone and sculpt your whole body. Take it slow in the beginning, be determined to master ever exercise, and move on.

Cardio-aerobics is the key to rapid weight loss, but don’t leave out strength training. It is not necessary to buy expensive equipment to attain fast results, but it does require a little research to determine the time/calorie ratio of each exercise. Walking, crunches, squatting, jogging, lunges, dancing, cycling are all excellent exercises, as well as inexpensive, level appropriate workout videos. I used various Jane Fonda’s workout videos that I found at thrift stores during my pregnancy and afterward.

Stick to whatever cardio-aerobic workout that works best for your weight loss plan. Some attempt to lose at least 5 lbs a month (each individual varies), totaling 60 lbs a year. When your realistic, ideal weight is attained you can adjust the routine for maintenance. Having more than one routine is another way to break the monotony of exercising.

Never forget, a healthy diet is essential. If you decide to temporarily change your diet for weight loss results by way of calorie-counting up to 1,000-1,8000, high protein-low carbohydrate, or even a simple low-fat intake remember that it is temporary. These short-term, quick fixes aren’t meant to support a healthy body over a long period of time. Yet, a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise routine will help you maintain your ideal weight. 

Example of Meeting your Calcium and Protein Needs on 100% Raw Food Diet

Eat More Veggies!

RDA Calcium: Children 800, Adults 1200
Protein for 115 lb woman 2.2 /115 x .8= 41.2

2 orange
2 bananas
3 cups kale
¼ cup flaxmorning cakes

Calcium      Protein
120               2
14                 2
271               6
107               7
6 dates
1 cup strawberries
1 cup spinach

Calcium     Protein
17                1
23                1
225              5
2 cups collards
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 Tomato
1 bell pepper

Calcium     Protein
145              3
20                5
12                1
7                  1
1 Florida Avocado
1 tomato
Calcium     Protein
22                5
12                1
1 cup broccoli
1 cup cabbage
¼ cup almonds
1 cup zucchini
Calcium     Protein
75                5
32                1
94                4
23                1

1219          51

Even cooked dinners are beneficial:
1 cup of cooked lentils has 18 gm protein and combined with rice makes it a complete protein

Research claims that cooking foods does not destroy the minerals and are possibly easier to digest than in the raw state.

The RDA for iron is met by lunch time.

Do you research and your goals are easily met.

Eat More Raw Foods!

Indian Cuisine Is Versatile In Having A Vegetarian Diet (Published In the Blackbelt Gazette))

I’ve been vegetarian for almost four years and I owe it all to Indian cuisine. It is by far the most delectable and perfectly seasoned food I have ever tasted. What I like most about it are the versatile dishes created with only one food. A typical vegetarian Indian meal has rice or bread (naan, chapati, roti, puri), at least one vegetable, dal (lentils or other pea), and condiments like chutney and yogurt. Here are a few of my favorite recipes:

Navratan Korma typically has paneer (fresh, cubed Indian cheese which tastes like cottage cheese without the tartness ) but I omit it or add ½ cup cubed silken tofu.
Make a paste with 1 Tbsp shredded ginger, 1 Tbsp coriander powder, ¼ tsp turmeric, and ½ tsp red chili powder, optional 1 green chili finely chopped. In a heavy bottom pan, heat 3 Tbsp oil. When oil is hot add 2 bay leaves and then the paste. Fry for 15 seconds then add a 16 oz bag frozen of mixed vegetables or 2 ½ cups mixture of fresh cauliflower, green peas, carrots, and green beans. Stir well and cover until the carrots are almost tender (3-4 min). Mix in ½ Tbsp cornstarch then salt to taste. Add tofu or paneer and mix well. Cover for another 3-4 minutes then add 1 cup of plain soy or rice milk. Finally add ½ tsp garam masala and 2 Tbsp cilantro (opt) and mix well.

Aloo Dum is a very simple potato curry. Peel and cube four large potatoes into bite size pieces. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil. Add ½ tsp cumin seeds and fry for 20-30 seconds. Saute ½ of a finely chopped onion, 1 minced, small garlic clove, and 1 Tbsp minced ginger  until golden brown. Add ½ tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, and ¼ ground fennel (opt). Saute for 30 seconds then add potatoes coating them well and add enough water to almost cover, bring to a boil, cover, turn down to a simmer. Cook 20-25 minutes garnish with cilantro.

Masoor Dal or lentils do not need to be soaked. Rinse 1 cup lentils thoroughly. With 3 cups of water, bring lentils to a boil along with ½ tsp of turmeric and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper. After 20-25 mintues lentils should me done. Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a small saucepan and fry ½ tsp cumin seeds, 3 cloves minced garlic, then 1 chopped onion, and to lentils along with salt to taste.

Eating Right-Not Less-Will Help You Lose Weight (featured in the Blackbelt Gazette)

(Gluten Free Vegan Spinach Tomato Pizza)

Deciding on the right diet, lifestyle, and exercise relies heavily on the dynamics of weight loss. A clearer understanding will help motivate and contribute to your weight loss goals. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. So, keep in mind that you must eat a diet lower than 3,500 calories per day and exercise to burn off what is not eliminated with diet.

First, find your basal metabolic rate. BMR calculates how many calories are needed to maintain your weight and continue proper bodily functions such as breathing and digestion. To find your BMR, take your current weight and multiply by ten. For instance, 150 lbs x 10 = 1,550 calories. The goal is not to eat more calories than your BMR, but no fewer than 1,000. It is not necessary to eat 1,000 calories a day to achieve weight loss..

To lose weight, you must eat. Skipping meals causes the metabolism to slow down and store calories, which become fat, as a reserve for energy. Eat to give your body fuel which boost metabolize and breaks down fats and carbohydrates. Eat when hungry and until satisfied. Eat 5 small, healthy meals a day and choose little to no processed snacks.

Carbohydrates are not your enemy- they are energy. Consuming excessive amounts of carbohydrates causes weight gain. Select high quality carbohydrates that are beneficial to weight loss such as: vegetables, fruit, beans, peas, lentils, brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, whole grain breads, cereals, and crackers. Select fiber rich foods which help control hunger by helping you feel full longer and stabilize blood sugar. These are found in legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables, nuts, and seeds,

Protein also provides energy, boosts the metabolism, and helps you feel full longer. Proteins also keep blood sugars at a steady level. Lean protein is found in skinless chicken, turkey, seafood, lean meats, low-fat/fat free dairy products, and legumes (lentils, split peas, tofu).

Sample Menus:

Breakfast: scrambled egg/tofu with turkey bacon/sausage and fruit; Oatmeal with maple/agave syrup and berries or nuts; Fruit or smoothies; avocado and tomato on toast with Dijon mustard.

Snacks: yogurt, fruits, berries, homemade granola or trail mix, whole grain crackers.

Lunch and Dinner: baked chicken with steam or stir fry broccoli, with mashed cauliflower instead of potato; turkey/chicken sandwiches/wraps, or in salads; homemade turkey/lean meat taco.

Tips: bake/broil instead of frying; oil/margarine instead of butter; Choose healthy and smart foods options.

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've held off on making gluten free baked goods because the flours are expensive. I finally splurged and I'm so proud of my creation. These cookies taste exactly like my vegan chocolate chip cookies. They are very soft and moist. I've recently learned about the do's and dont's  of food combination and decided not to make raw cookies (fruit and nut combination is a no no). These cookies are easier to digest than the raw so you won't eat as many.

Yields 15-18 medium sized cookies and 20-30 smaller cookies

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour or gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unrefined sugar

Wet Ingredients:
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup oil
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup nut milk (vanilla rice)

1/2 - 1 cup semi sweet or vegan chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven 350 degrees and lightly oil cookie sheet
2. In a mixing bowl, combine and whisk all the dry ingredients except the sugar very well then add the sugar and whish until it is well incoroporated.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk the syrup, oil, and vanilla extract until well combined. Add this mixture to the dry and stire for about 1 minute. Add the nut milk and stirl until batter is the consistency of a soft, fluffy cookie dough (about 3 minutes).
4. Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips and mix well
5. Use an melon scooper, small ice cream scooper, or rounded Tbsp spoon to scoop out dough. Flatten the dough between palms and place on cookie sheet. Add chocolate chips to cookies if needed.
6. Bake for 15-17 minutes

*Always taste batter before heating to know the final taste and adjust to your liking (sweetness, etc)

A Better Eating Lifestyle Leads to a Better You- Featured in the Blackbelt Gazette

Weight loss is actually an easy goal. If you are contemplating weight loss, you only need three things. The words: Ready. Set. Go! Are you ready to work toward your goal? If you are, set up the right environment by cleaning your soul. Edible, visual, or audible influences have an effect on every aspect of our life. Start by throwing out high fat and junk foods. Then clean and restock your frig and pantry with tasty, delicious, healthy foods. Gain the wealth of health by eating to benefit yourself for a lifetime. Think about the aftermath before you eat. Replace current magazines with health issues and invest in cookbooks. It’s fine to eat potatoes but not be one. So, find an activity or exercise that’s fun and enjoyable and encourage others to join you. Created for our readers for the encouragement of healthy diet and lifestyle, check out and join the online community Weight loss is conquered by the big E- effort. What you put in determines what you get out. Go and eat healthy the rest of your life and feel great about yourself.

Unfortunately, there can be underlying factors that are hindering your progress. If you are: exercising 3-5 times a week for 30-60 minutes; drinking 8 glasses of water a day; and eating 5 small, low fat, nutrient dense meals a day, you SHOULD be losing weight. If not, consider the following:

• Excessive weight can be caused by hormonal imbalance. A slow metabolism could be caused by glandular imbalance such as an underactive thyroid. This can be determined with a visit to your health care practitioner. Suggested supplements: Kelp, alfalfa, and evening primrose, green tea

• If you feel heavy and crave heavy foods your body could be retaining excess water due to constipation. A clean colon is a sign of proper digestion and elimination of waste and toxins. Suggested supplements: 8 glasses of water daily, a natural detox program like Detox 7, acidophilus, or a mild natural laxative

• Poor digestion is revealed when the body is not getting proper nourishment. Lack of nutrients causes you to over eat in order to attain the nutrients that the body needs. Also a malfunctioning pancreas (unstable changes in blood sugar, possible diabetes) can intensify cravings for carbohydrates/sugars. Suggested supplements: golden seal for high blood sugar; pepsin, papaya enzymes, and acidophilus for digestion.

• Combining starches and proteins at a meal promotes a battle for digestion in the stomach. Proteins slow down the digestion of starches. So, food combining is very important.

The Soy Issue

Ok, typically my little one consumes the carton of Silk (or almond or rice milks as well) before I can get to it; I typically fry in soybean/vegetable oil; we eat tofu twice a week;  TVP and edamame once a month. However, this month we ate less tofu, more TVP, and the same amount of milk.

Now, my hubby and I have flatulence, upset stomachs, and mood swings. Like any food, too much of a good thing is bad...very bad.

Some manufactors of soy products such as Silk Soymilk add ingredients such as carageenan and this ingredient causes the same symptoms of lactose intolerance. Over processed food of any kinds is unhealthy, but I've recently learned that soy is one of if not the most over processed foods. So, we should limit or eliminate the consumption of soy products that are overly processed (which read in the ingredient list as defatted, hydrolyzed, or a partial rather than whole soy bean).

Although soy is a great substitute and protein replacer eating large quanities of highly processed soy is not beneficial. Our diets must be well balanced and large consumptions of soy will cause cause side effects. However, moderation is the key- as always. It is assumed that eggs are beneficial in a diet, but logically eating a high cholesterol food everyday will take it's toll on the body.

If you are lactose intolerant, soy is not your only option. There are other non dairy options that are good as and even tastier than soy such as vanilla rice milk, rice or coconut ice cream, and almond milk.

Enjoy your dairy free life without limits by embracing a variety of foods.
I found a few wonderful links that truly educated me about the truth about soy- it's not all bad, but too much of anything is not good.

Depending on how it is prepared it can be an antinutrient- Oh NO!!!!!

To much consumptions gives major problems!

The key is minimum processing and moderate consumption.

I will probably be making my own tofu from now on, but we share see after the elimination method.

Marinated Collard Greens (Raw Food Recipe)

1 bunch collard greens destemmed and shredded
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tbsp garlic minced (or to taste)
1/8 cup Braggs
2 bunches of scallions thinly chopped
1 tomatoe finely chopped
1 Tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil (opt) to Garnish


In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together and allow to marinate overnight or at least 4 hours, if you can wait that long and garnish with olive oil


The Best Pancakes Ever

Vegan Pancakes


1 cup whole wheat pastry flour*
2 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP non-aluminum baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup soy, rice, or almond milk
1 TBSP oil (opt)
1 tsp vanilla

Thoroughly mix dry ingredients and then add wet ingredients and mix well. Pour desired amount onto greased skillet and cook on one side until many bubbles begin to form. Flip and cook until golden.

*The key to the delcious taste and fluffy texture but can be substituted with all purpose flour.
**cinnamon, apples, nutmeg, chocolate chips, sweet potato, or banana adds great flavor of pancakes

Passion for Indian Cusine

I am almost fanatic about finding good india foods, restaurants, and recipes. My vegetarian lifestyle is mainly due to fine indian cuisine. There are so many dishes and so many ways to cook one food that you never get bored of curry, breads, and rice. Here are a few of my favorites (some borrowed and some mine).

Tamarind Chutney by
2 cups water                   1. Boil water mix and jaggery
2 Tbsp Tamarind paste    2. Simmer and stir
½ cup sugar                     3. Add cumin and fennel
1 tsp salt                          4. Add garam masala
½ tsp chili powder            5. Add red chili powder, salt, then boil again
1 tsp garam masala           6. Lower heat to simmer and let thicken and stir
½ tsp of each roasted cumin and fennel seed

Red Lentils with Garlic and Onion
3 cups water                          
1 cup lentils
½ tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion
1 tsp salt or to taste


1. Rinse lentils 2-3 times. Boil water and add lentils, tumeric, and cayenne reducing heat to medium high for 20-25 minutes.

2. After lentils are done add salt.

3. (Tempering) Heat oil in pan and when oil is hot add cumin seeds and cook for 30 sec. then add garlic then onion  

4. Transfer the tempering to the lentils and stir well.
Rajma Curry/ Kidney Bean Curry by (tweaked alittle but not much)
1 cup cooked or 1 can rajma
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seed
½ tsp asafetida (opt)
1 onion finely chopped
2 green chili
1 TBSP garlic/Ginger paste (minced)
2-3 tomatoes finely chopped
1 Tsp coriander powder
½ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ cup nut milk

1. Heal oil and add cumin, asafetida for 30 seconds.
2. Add onions, green chilis, and garlic/ginger paste cooking until onions brown
3. Add tomatoes and cook until the oil beings to separate (about 5-7 mintues)
4. Add the remaining spices, stir well, and cook for another 3 minutes befor adding the milk
5. Finally Add the rajma and mix well

Potato Curry

Roast and grind- 1/2 tsp of each: cumin, fennel, and coriander seeds
4 large potato
1 TBSP oil
½ onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove minced (opt)
1 ginger 1” puree
1/2 tsp cumin seed
½ tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 cup water
Cilantro to garnish

1. Peel potatoes and chop into cubes
2. Heal oil and when oil is hot add cumin seeds and cook for 20-30 seconds
3. Add garlic, ginger, and onions.
4. When onions began to brown add coriander powder
5. Add potatoes and coat in spice mixture- then add salt
6. Add water and cook on medium high heat until potatoes are done (20-25 mintues) then add ground spice mixture (masala)
7. Garnish with cilantro
Vegan Palak Paneer (Spinach Tofu Paneer)

1/2 package of Mori Nu Silken Firm Tofu cubed, dredged in nutritional yeast, and pan fried till golden brown

Spinach Mixture:
4 cups chopped spinach or 9 oz. package
1/4 cup water
2 green chiles deseeded, chopped (opt)
½ tsp ginger minced

1. Wilt spinach with ¼ cup water along with the salt, ginger, and chile

2. Puree spinach mixture and set aside

Tomato mixture:
2 TBSP oil
¼ tsp hing/asafatedia
1 onion thinly sliced or puree
1 clove garlic chopped
¼ tsp cumin seeds
2 medium tomatoes pureed
½ tsp salt

3. Heat oil then add cumin seed, hing for 30 sec. Then add garlic and onion saute until golden brown then add tomato puree

4. Cook till most water is evaporated (5 min) and it looks more like a paste
5. Then add spinach puree and turn heat to low medium and simmer for10 min

Rich cream:

1/4 plain soy milk
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/8 ground fennel (opt)

6. Add milk and stir well, then evenly sprinkle garam masala and fennel and stir well

7. Add paneer tofu and simmer a few minutes

1/2 tomato thinly sliced (opt)
1 TBSP Cilantro (optional)

8. Garnish with tomato and cilantro

Navratan Korma by
2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables or
1 cup cauliflower
½ cup green peas
¼ cup sliced carrots
½ cup green beans
1/3 pound fried paneer or tofu dredged in nutritional yeast and pan fried til golden brown

Make paste: 1 green chili, 1 TBSP shredded ginger, 1 TBSP coriander powder,¼ tsp turmeric,
½ tsp red chili powder

3 Tbsp oil
2 Bay leaves

1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
salt to taste
1 cup nut milk
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp amchur powder
2 TBSP cilantro
1/2 tomato thinly sliced

1. Heat oil and fry paste and bay leaves for 15 sec
2. Add cauliflower, green beans, and peas and stir well, cooking until slightly tender
3. Add carrots and cover till almost tender (3-4 min)
4. Add ½ Tbsp cornstarch, then salt to taste
5. Add paneer tofu, mix and cover for 3-4 min
6. Add 1 cup nut milk
7. Add ½ tsp garam masala, ½ tsp amchur powder, 2 TBSP cilantro and mix well
8. Garnish with tomato for garnish

Aromatic Cumin Flavored Basmati Rice My Way
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and soaked 15-30 min
2 cups water
1 Tbsp oil or Vegan Margarine
1/2 tsp hing/asafatida (opt)
1 bay leaf
1 inch stick of cinnamon
2 cloves
1 green cardamom pod
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt or to your taste

(opt) For yellow rice:
1/4 tsp tumeric powder

1. Heat oil (in sauce pan with a lid that can hold 1 cup of cooked basmati rice)
2. When oil is hot, add all the spices except cumin seeds and salt cooking for 20-30 secs
3. Add cumin seeds and let cook for 20-30 secs
4. Add rice, water, and stir in salt
5. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, and cover for 15 min
6. Fluff and serve

For yellow rice sprinkle tumeric powder over rice and gently stir until all the rice is yellow.

Chana Masala
1 can or cup cooked chickpea
2 TBSP oil
1 large onion chopped
2 green chili chopped
1 tsp garlic minced
1 tsp ginger minced
1 tomato finely chopped or puree (opt) or 1/2 cup of water
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp red chili powder
½ cup cilantro chopped for garnish and tomato finely chopped

1. Heat oil. When oil is hot add onion and chilis, stir then add add garlic and ginger.
2. Cook until onions are golden brown then add tomato
3. If not using tomato add cumin, coriander, chili powders and cook for 1 minute then add water & chickpea
3. Cook until tomato becomes a paste (oil begins to separate) then add cumin, corander, chili powders
4. Add chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes then garnish with cilantro
Mushroom Masala
10 oz mushroom button chopped
4 TBSP olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 green chili
2 tsp garlic minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of chili powder
1 tsp salt
3 TBSP water

1. Heat oil and when oil is hot add onion and chili
2. Add garlic. Sautee until it goldens then add cumin coriander and chili powders
3. Saute for a few seconds then add mushrooms coating the mushroom in the masala
4. Add salt and water and cook for a few more minutes

Curried Cabbage w/ Tomatoes by Camellia Punjabi
3 TBSP oil
2 medium onions thinly sliced
¼ inch ginger
1 green chile
2 chopped tomatoes
1 lb cabbage shredded
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt

1. Heat oil and add onions, ginger, and chile. Cook till onions are golden brown
2. Add tomatos and cook till oil begins to separate.
3. Add tumeric, coriander, and cayenne. Stire for a few seconds
4. Add the cabbage and then the salt.
5. Cook until cabbage is tender (about 15 minutes, maybe more)

Vegan Nachos (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Meat-Free)

1 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)
1 cup water

1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp Cumin powder
1/2 Tbsp Coriander powder
1/2 tsp chili powder or taste
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
2 Tbsp Nutritional yeast

1/2 bag of tortilla chips
Vegan Cheese

Boil water then add TVP. Turn heat off and allow TVP to dehydrate (about 5-7 minutes).

Mix all spices together then add to TVP. Evenly spread TVP on chips then add vegan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes on 350 degrees. Add salsa and guacomole.

Natural Solutions for Troubled Skin

Many are well aware that acne is caused by an imbalance of hormones. When the liver does not flush out excess hormones this causes the skin to produce more than the necessary amount of sebum or oil in the skin. This over production of oil is the root cause of acne. However, what many do not know is that food allergies can be the root cause of the over production of hormones Clear skin is maintained from proper nourishment from the inside out.

Herbal supplements and teas with burdock and red clover have proved very helpful. Burdock (anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory) and red clover cleanse the blood, liver, and bowels of excess wastes helping glands to regulate hormonal balance. In addition to these, sarsaparilla for males and evening primrose for females along with black cohosh, red raspberry, dong quai, milk thistle, or dandelion. Zinc has also proven to help heal troubled skin especially when combined with Vitamins A, D (sunshine), and niacin. Cleansed bowels are equally important because the blood carries digested/ undigested materials and toxins from the intestines to the rest of the body, and the elimination of such products are released through the skin causing acne. Let’s not also forget how important water is in flushing out toxins and waste that also contribute to acne. A regimen that proved a successful quick fix for my combination/oily skin was:

(1) Cleanse skin:

Noah’s Naturals Anti-Aging Gel Cleanser or Juice Organics Brightening Cleanser

Cleanse face for at least 1 minute with the corner of a wash cloth, facial loofah, or complexion brush then rinse with warm water.

(2) Refine Pores:

2 Tbsp clay Indian Healing Clay
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar.

Mix well and apply to clean face. Apply to face and allow to dry for 15 minutes then rinse with warm water.

(3) Nourishing Moisturizing Mask:

1/2 cup uncooked oats
1 Tbsp honey (an antibacterial)
1/2 avocado

Process oats in food processor until it becomes a fine flour. Mash the avocado in a bowl and add the honey and oats. Apply this creamy mixer to face for 15-20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

(4) Acne and Blemish Spot Treatment:
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Gel

Apply a dab of oil directly to affected area then apply gel (before bed only)

After this weekly regimen, I cleanse daily with Juice Organics Brightening Cleanser, refine/tone with witch hazel, and spot treat with tea tree oil and gel if needed. Aloe vera gels with a few drops of essential oils make excellent moisturizers if one is needed.

The Best Simple Tofu Scramble EVER!!!!

1/2 carton extra firm tofu (not silken), drained and crumbed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 curry powder
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat skillet on medium heat and Coat skillet with oil, Smart Balance Light, or Earth Balance
2. Add tofu and saute for 2-3 minutes
3. Add garlic, onion, basil, parsley then curry powders and mix them in, evenly distributing
4. Add salt and pepper to taste
5. Turn off the heat and add nutritional yeast and mix thoroughly

Raw Food Diet Can Give Energy And Fight Disease- Featured in the Blackbelt Gazette

Gluten intolerance led me to seek other dietary alternatives that avoid wheat and other allergy triggers. I found a diet that was gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and meat free. Every dish is full of flavor and packed with nutrients. Desserts are delectable and can be eaten for breakfast. There is no calorie counting, you can eat all day and whatever you want. Sound to good to be true?

The Raw Food or Living Food Diet has grown in popularity across the globe. Raw foodist seem to have turned back the hands of time with their vibrant energy and youthful glow. Successful weight loss stories, the reversal of diabetes as well as other diseases has also attributed to the popularity of this lifestyle. Raw food restaurants and ready-made-items are growing in demand. There are also institutions that teach week long classes, give seminars, and sponsor retreats on preparing foods, nutritional benefits, and eco-friendly living.

Some raw foodists eat unpasteurized dairy products and raw meat (jerky and fish such as sushi), but typical raw vegan dishes are: smoothies, soups, taco wraps, ice cream, pies, spaghetti with marinara sauce, buckwheat crust pizza, curries, cheesy nachos, burgers, crackers, stuffed tortillas, granola, marinated collard greens, guacamole, cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls, hummus, even lasagna. Dates and agave nectar are used as sweeteners. Some recommended food preparation tools are blenders, food processors, and food dehydrators.

In my opinion, the most attractive feature is eating enzyme rich foods (catalysts that are necessary for body functions). Cooking over 105 degrees loses or destroys enzymes, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Another benefit is the ample amounts of phytonutrients and antioxidants which delay and protect against the aging process, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Eating a high raw diet also means the fats you eat would come from good foods such as avocado, flax seeds, nuts, and olives as well as oils such as flax, extra virgin olive, avocado, and coconut oils. Essential fatty acids are necessary for maintaining cells, lowering cholesterol, clearing clogged arteries, skin, brain, and heart health.

Some questions that should be considered: How much are you willing to eat raw- 50%, 75%, or 100%. How will you meet your RDA of protein and calcium? What about Omega 3 & 6? All of these can be successfully met with adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and even grains. However, B12 should be supplemented with nutritional yeast or supplement of choice. This diet is not about restrictions but fulfillment, giving your body the highest quality and the perfect balance of all essential nutrients.

Kinky Curly Hair

I am finally an expert when it comes to my own hair.I could rant and rave for days about the attitudes, views, and history of kinky-curly hair among people of African descent, but I won't because so many have done and excellent job in that respect.

I have 100% natural hair (no relaxers, texturizers, and no color)

    From my experience, natural hair care products compliment natural hair above all the others. Currrently I use Giovanni, Sheamoisture, and Aubrey Organics products. I have tried almost every afro-hair commercial product to care for my natural hair, but they worked best when I would straighten my hair with heating styling tools (flat iron and blow dryer). My favorite hair care forum is . From this site, I received the best advice because it was there that I found members with almost the exact hair type (curl pattern and texture) as mine.

     Wearing kinky-curly hair after almost two decades of relaxers, I had to re-learn how to take care of my "real" hair. It was not easy because the majority of hair care products and tools for kinky-curly hair are aids in straightening the hair or permanently removing the kink/ curl. I reverted back to texturizers and relaxers a few times before I learned to accept my naturally, curly, kinky, frizzy hair. What I did learn was that all hair was created equal.

    Hair is hair, but comes in may different textures and curl or no curl patterns.

If you have naturally curly or naturally kinky-curly hair, you will learn to love your shrinkage. With research and trial and error (unfortunately, but it's the only way to learn what your hair likes), you will be able to combat dryness with oils or conditioners that you hair will approve. No one will truly know your hair, like you do and the more knowledgable you are about your hair the more your hair will shine, retain moisture, and bounce with body.

Being NATURAL is only has hard as you make it, and it's so easy to be naturally YOU!!!

No Bake Desserts in 10 Minutes

Who doesn’t love cookies, cakes, or pies? How about having guilt-free dessert for breakfast? Lately, I’ve incorporated more whole, raw, and organic foods into my diet. Instead of vegan cookies, cakes, and pies, I eat guilt free desserts that require about 5 ingredients and 10-15 minutes to make. All are no-bake recipes and so nutrient dense that it won’t take long to fill your belly or the gaps in your diet. All recipes are 100% healthy and uncooked to preserve enzymes and nutrients.

Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake

3 cups walnuts ; 20 dates; 1/3 or 2/3 cup cocoa powder (more powder = more bitterness); 1 tsp vanilla; ¼ tsp salt Optional: fruit topping or nut cream icing

1. Process walnuts and salt to a meal consistency (tip: over processing walnuts will cause cake to look oily) 2. Add dates and cocoa, then process about 20 seconds 3. Add vanilla 4. Process by pulsing until it clumps 5. It’s ready when it’s sticky like cake batter and can be molded 6. Mold into desired shape and add a fruit topping or icing

Vanilla Nut Cream (also use as fruit dip)

1 cup cashews or almonds soaked; 3 Tbsp agave or honey; 1-2 tsp vanilla Opt: 1 Tbsp or more of water if cashews don’t mix well

1. Grind nuts in blender then in coffee grinder 2. Put nuts back in blender and add vanilla and agave/honey and a little water 3. Add more water as needed and blend until desired consistency.

Cinnamon Rolls (My favorite! Takes a little more time)

2 cups almonds; 1 cup dates or raisins; 4 Tbsp Orange juice; 1-2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean; ¼ nutmeg; 2 Tbsp cinnamon powder; wax paper

1. Process almonds until ground into a meal 2. Add dates or raisins, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg 3. Process about 30 seconds 4. Add OJ and process until the processor stops mixing 5. On a wax paper roll out batter with a rolling pin and cut into 2 in” columns 7. Roll up like cinnamon rolls (sprinkle on more cinnamon before rolling if preferred). Use nut cream as icing.

Not-So-Sticky Donut Holes

1 cup dates; 1 cup almonds soaked and rinsed; 1/4 tsp salt; ½ vanilla bean or ½ tsp vanilla extract; 1/8 cup crushed almonds; opt½ cup dried

1. Process almonds and salt lightly 15 sec 2. Put dates in blow and mix with fruit & vanilla 3. Add almonds and roll into balls Opt: roll onto dried fruit

Warming Up With Tea- Featured in the Blackbelt Gazette

How do you take your tea? Depending on the tea, some suggested flavor enhances are sugar, lemon, milk, essential oils, and sometimes nothing at all. I absolutely love tea, and try to start every morning and end every evening with a cup. More than just a substitute for water, tea is one of those little additions to life that can aid in prevention of lifelong ailments.

The medicinal properties of tea not only led to the diverse varieties and flavors we see on the market today, but gives consumers easier access and affordable prices to herbs that have proven to treat and prevent day-to-day ailments such as pms symptoms, varicose veins, indigestion, high sucrose levels, acne, cold/flu symptoms, poor blood circulation, menopause and so on. Some teas are substantially lower in caffeine than coffee and herbal teas contain none at all, but all are high in antioxidants helping to fight against common disease like the flu. One positive note of teas is their ability to treat more than one ailment. For every tea there is also a supplement for the herb that has a higher potency, and some teas/herbs are sold in complementary combinations.

Black Elder or Elderberry can soothe the symptoms of a feverish cold/flu, coughing and bronchitis. It is rich in vitamins A and C and potassium. By strengthening the immune system it helps to fight off viral infections. It is also good for head colds and laryngitis, and can increase the milk supply of nursing mothers. It is safe for children.

Rose Hips- very rich in vitamin C, strengthens the immune system and prevents and treats colds; a mild diuretic and astringent properties also aid in kidney disease and poor bladder control.

Chamomile Tea- this tea has antibacterial properties; its vapor can destroy germs that cause the flu and alleviate coughing. It can also calm the nerves and promote sleep; relieve gastrointestinal inflammation when combined with calcium; and its flavonoids can prevent gas and relieve cramps.

Echinacea (echineacea purpurea) Tea- widely known for fighting colds/flu and treating sore throats, and dry up a runny nose. This tea is also effective in addition to cancer treatments of radiation and chemotherapy (kills good and bad cells) because it helps to boost white blood cells. This blood purifier is also good for urinary tract infections, eczema, and acne.

Eucalyptus Tea- this antiviral, antifungal, and antispasmodic drink can eliminate sore throats, colds, and the flu. Not to mention treat aching muscles and stiff joints.

My Experiences With Food Intolerance-Featured in the Blackbelt Gazette

     Not until my adult years was I ever concerned with food intolerance or allergies. Yet, I had been ignorant of their symptoms all my life. The abundance of information of dairy alternatives for the lactose intolerant led me to consider the possibilities.

     A trial of two weeks without dairy was rough. Trying to incorporate dairy back into my diet was even more devastating. Yet, with dairy alternatives and substitutions I survived. A year later, I had to face an even more burdensome reality: Life without wheat gluten. “Oh, come on!” I thought. First no meat, then no dairy, and now no wheat? It felt like a cruel joke.

     For most vegetarians, next to tofu, wheat gluten, is the other meat. It’s used in almost all vegetarian meat substitutions, soy sauces, baked goods, seasonings, mixes-virtually everything. After over indulging on wheat-meat, my sudden, rapid weight loss spun completely out of control. I finally realized that my once healthy form was becoming emaciated.

    Food intolerance does not mean food allergy. A true allergy to a food is revealed by immediate symptoms: acne, rashes, skin reactions, respiratory difficulties, joint inflammation, flatulence etc. However, intolerance can range from sensitivity to extreme symptoms. The major difference is that if one has intolerance for a food, eating a minimal amount does not always result in immediate or obvious reactions making the intolerance difficult to pinpoint.

    Also it is possible that over a period of time, one with intolerance can build his immunity in order to incorporate the food back into his diet. For instance, I had gluten intolerance for years, but in my ignorance I ignored the minor symptoms and accepted them as normal. A recent week long wheat-meat feast amplified and worsened the symptoms. I hope to strengthen my immunity with the use of food enzymes.

    The body has a certain amount of enzymes to break down different types of food, but the amount varies from person to person. Lack of enzymes leads to poor digestion. In turn, when that food (protein) is not broken down and tries to pass into the blood stream, the body does not recognize it and attacks the “foreign” body. Unfortunately, the body will reject all parts of it, even the absorption of nutritional values.

    Unless allergic to a certain food, intolerance can be prevented. The solution to intolerance is moderation. For those with gluten intolerance, papaya enzymes, marshmallow, pepsin, and apple cider vinegar can aid in the breakdown of proteins in foods. Enzymes received from juicing raw fruits and vegetables is also effective.

Fried Thai Bananas

This is a borrowed recipe from an internet source

Ingredients:                    Directions:
6 banana                                               1. Combine flour, starch, baking soda, salt, sugar, and stir well

1 cup all purpose flour*                         2. Add water and mix well

¼ cup cornstarch                                  3. Add sesame seeds

¼ cup sugar                                          4. Mix till it thickens

1 Tbsp sesame seed                              5. Cut each banana lengthwise into 4 slices

1 tsp salt                                               6. Heat oil enough for deep drying and when hot dip banana

½ tsp baking soda                                     into batter and fry until golden brown.

¾ cup water or milk

*Can Be Substitute With Gluten Free All Purpose Flour or Simply Brown Rice Flour

Zucchini Spaghetti & Marinara Sauce

Raw Spaghetti
1-2 zuchini (like pasta it really doesn't have a taste so all your flavor will be in your sauce just like cooked spaghetti and sauce)

Use potatoe slicer to slice zuchini length wise. This makes your spaghetti about fettichini size. If you want them smaller then use a knife to cut the sliced zuchini to desired size or use a spiralizer.

Raw Marinara Sauce
2 tomatoes chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped (optional)
1 cup of soaked sun dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic minced
1/2-1 tsp onion powder (optional)
1 tsp basil
1/2-1 tsp oregano
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of cayenne
pinch of black pepper

Process all in food processor 20 sec

Place Sauce on top of Noodles and Enjoy!

Raw Cherry Tart

1 . Crust:

1 ¼ cups soaked almonds
1 cup dates soaked
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cocoa powder

Process all until it begins to roll up, but don't over process (should not form into a ball)

2. Chocolate Mousse:
½ cup nuts soaked 1 hr
1 cup dates
1 tsp vanilla
piinch of salt
3 tsp cocoa powder

Enough water to soften

Blend all ingredients until smooth

1 tsp cocoa powder
2-3 tsp agave or honey

Whisk in a bowl (it's so delicious!)
May need a little water to make it syrupy

3. Topping:
3-4 cups pitted halved cherries

Beans, Good for All Occassions-Featured in the Blackbelt Gazette

    Yes, yes, beans are good for your heart. Beans/legumes are high in protein and fiber protect against heart disease by lowering LDL or bad cholesterol. For dieters, the high fiber in beans fills you up quicker and provides essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals with a low percentage of carbohydrates. Diabetics can also reap the benefits of these high fiber foods that are known to slowly release sugar into the blood stream. Beans have also been said to reduce the chances of cancer and hypertension. Locally we have a plethora of legumes both dried and canned. When you get tired of one you can just move on to the next one. Chickpeas, great northern beans, kidney beans, red beans, black beans, pinto beans, soy beans, lentils-the list goes on and on. Yet, I find few people that truly love legumes.

    Beans don’t have to be boring or bland. They can be used to create or replicate exotic dishes. For instance, Garbanzo beans in my opinion bland alone, but with a dash of this and that they transform into Hummus, Falafel, or Chana Masala (Chickpea curry). If beans just aren’t your thing, don’t forget their cousins-peas. No, not just sweet peas; I’m talking lentils, green split peas, black eye peas, pigeon peas, purple hull peas, even yellow split peas.

    In the beginning of my love affair with beans, I needed a little helper called Beano. Yet, the more I ate them, the better I was able to digest them. It was just a matter of time and adding a bay leaf to the cockpit to aid in digestion. Here are a few recipes to try:

Chana Masala:

1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, 2 TBSP oil, 1 large onion finely chopped, 1 green chili minced chopped (opt), 1 garlic clove minced,1 tsp ginger minced, 1 tomato finely chopped, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp coriander powder, ½ tsp red chili powder, ½ tsp salt, ½ cup coriander chopped for garnish. Heat the oil on medium heat in a skillet or wok. When oil is hot, add onion and sauté a few minutes then add the green chili, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until onions have began to brown then add tomato. When tomato has cooked down, add all other spices in order then the chickpeas and stir well. For cook for 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro. 1 cup of soaked chickpeas can also be substituted along with 3 cups of water and cooked for 45 minutes to an hour.

Why Organic? Featured in Blackbelt Gazette

    Imported or local, GMO or Non-GMO, natural or organic? We have so many food options these days. For my grape juice fast, I bought beautiful, red plump grapes but the juice tasted rotten and spoiled. This was not apparent in each individual grape but overwhelming in the juice alone. Yuck! So, I’ve reconsidered buying organic foods.

   So, why choose organic?

Big Reasons:

1. Organic farming supports a biologically diverse and healthy environment.

2. Organic agriculture increases the land’s productivity, uses less nonrenewable fossil fuels, and protects water resources.

3. Organic production limits toxic and long-lasting chemicals in our environment.

4. Buying locally supports small/independent family farms who provide seasonal, fresher foods at their highest flavor and nutrients.

5. Organic products meet strict USDA standards so you’re getting the best quality food and it tastes great!

    My sister said to me once, “Why is it that everything that’s good for you is soo expensive. We shouldn’t have to pay more to have good health.” She’s right, organic products are more expensive. One reason is that without the use of pesticides and herbicides, the higher prices compensates for lower yields. So, “Is organic really worth it?” Legally organic foods must be free from free from insecticides, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, fertilizers, artificial additives, flavorings, colorings and preservatives. That means the food is in its purest and safest form.

    I’m a frugal shopper and I learned three things that prevent me from going over my budget:

(1) Buy and shop locally. Sometimes there are signs that display where an item is from, or just ask the manager. Keep in mind that the further the distance an item travels the more the shipping cost.

(2) Choose seasonal produce, a classic example of supply and demand. Out of season means higher prices. Also, if an item is shipped from afar it will be picked too early, and won’t be as flavorful.

(3) Buying in bulk saves money and food can be dehydrated for later use.

    When deciding which to buy, consider the level of pesticides used for each food. Some foods are highly sprayed with pesticides and some that are not legally certified organic have little to no pesticides. Foods that have the highest levels of pesticides are: apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, peaches, pears, potatoes, raspberries, spinach and strawberries. Foods with the lowest levels of pesticides are typically thick skinned: asparagus, avocado, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papaya, pineapples, sweet corn, and sweet peas.


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