Chia Seed Jam

This jam is super easy and healthy!  Why buy jam with preservatives when you can make it healthy in a few simple steps?  Start by putting two cups of your fresh fruit of choice in a blender — I used blackberries because they were on buy one get one free at Harris Teeter (my new favorite market).  Add in two tablespoons of chia seeds and two tablespoons of vegan honey or maple syrup.  Blend well, pour into a container, and keep over night in the refrigerator — when you wake in the morning your jam will be ready!

Chia seeds are rich in omega three fatty acids and full of fiber so this jam is the perfect way to start your morning.

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Spicy Scramble

Happy Easter!  I’m so used to eating colored hard boiled eggs for Easter so wanted to make some vegan scramble this morning.  Been suffering with the flu all week and this is the first day I’ve had an appetite and I wanted something spicy!  This is another great tofu scramble recipe I created — so tasty!

Start  by heating a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Then add a pound of extra-firm tofu (drained, pressed, and crumbled) along with a few dashes of turmeric for color and fresh ground salt and pepper to taste — blend well.  Add in one small chopped avocado, a cup of baby spinach and arugula blend (I used Organic Girl brand), and half a block of chopped up Daiya’s jalapeno Havarti.  Let simmer for a few minutes until the “cheese” melts and the greens are wilted.

Serve with your choice of salsa — we used Desert Pepper Trading Company’s Corn, Black Bean, and Red Pepper medium salsa.  This is a wonderful breakfast — enjoy!

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Beef (less) Stew

I’ve been trying in vain to recreate the hearty flavor of my grandmothers beef stew recipe and the answer was staring me in the face one day — Pero!  If you’re unfamiliar with Pero you may know it under the name Postum as well.  It’s an instant natural beverage that those of us who don’t drink coffee use.  It’s a combination of barley, malted barley, chicory, and rye.  Adding a bit of this gave the stew the hearty dark flavor I was looking for, I suppose instant coffee could be used as well.

This easy crock pot recipe is a wonderful comfort food that is perfect during the colder winter months.

With the saute feature of the crock-pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add one chopped onion and ten minced garlic cloves and cook until soft.  Next chop a bag of carrots (about half a pound) along with a four stalks of celery.  Add in one pound of red bliss potatoes — cut up into fourths.  Next is two bags of Gardein Beefless tips, a package of frozen peas (eight ounces), four cups of veggie broth, 1/2 cup of red wine, two tablespoons of flour and soy sauce each, and two teaspoons of Pero.  Finish up with the following spices: one teaspoon each of dried thyme, parsley, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder. 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice, a pinch of ground cloves, and two bay leaves with fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well and cook in the crock-pot for six hours on high or eight hours on low.  Come home to a house full of wonderful smells — the aroma and taste made me miss my grandmother but I felt her there with me as we enjoyed this meal.


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Easy Guacamole

I love guacamole but never actually made it from scratch before, after creating this simple recipe I’ll never go back to store made again!

Start with a large ripe avocado — peel, cut, and smash.  Add in a can of drained Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies (medium is best).  Add in about a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder each plus one minced garlic clove and half a chopped small onion.  Then a dash of cayenne pepper with salt and pepper to taste.  Squirt half a lime on the ingredients and mix well then try it — after sampling I added a few more shakes of each spice and finished with fresh chopped cilantro.  My husband and I finished it off in minutes!  If you’re preparing ahead though I’d recommend leaving the pit in the mix.  I learned that long ago on a trip to Cancun, there was a guacamole making demo at the resort and that was one of the tips.  That was so long ago, I’m surprised it took me this long to make it from scratch myself!

Why buy prepared foods when homemade it so much better — a lesson I keep learning.  For truly homemade I would have cut up the tomatoes and green chilies too but that one step with the Rotel made it much simpler and just as tasty.

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Turmeric Smoothie

My poor husband was sick again but this smoothie knocked the cold right out of him!  Previously on this blog I’ve mentioned the many health benefits of turmeric along with chia and hemp seeds — this smoothie is an antioxidant powerhouse!  The recipe didn’t call for hemp hearts but I added it in because I used coconut milk instead of the hemp milk suggested.  I also didn’t use the coconut oil listed, drinking oil just didn’t sound appetizing but if you can get past that I recommend you do.  Coconut oil has powerful medicinal properties.  Here is a link to more info on the benefits of coconut oil:

Gather the following ingredients and then click on the link below for the recipe and get ready to feel well!

  • 1 cup hemp milk (I used coconut milk)
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple or mango chunks
  • 1 fresh banana
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds

We’ve been busy preparing our house to sell and packing for our big move.  Heading from quiet and warm Florida to the fast paced metro of Washington D.C.!  I lived in Northern VA for twelve years and have always longed to go back.  We’ll be closer to family and friends, plus I have a wonderful new job opportunity there so we’re excited for the move.  Just need to stay focused on packing — no fun!



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Santa Fe Roasted Veggies

This recipe is inspired by a similar dish I had at the Sliver Diner a few weeks ago — delicious!  The Silver Diner is a wonderful place, Chef Ype Von Hengst is inventive and only uses locally sourced ingredients for his restaurants.  He says, “It is important to me to support the local farmers and help build our local economy. Fresh and local food has better flavor and is the best quality.” They are located in the Washington DC metro area with one location in Cherry Hill, NJ.  I highly recommend this dining experience if you’re in the area.  I went with my friend Brigid and her beautiful daughter Daphne.  They both loved their meals as well but to find several vegan selections on a diner menu was a real treat!  Click here for more info on the Silver Diner:

In recreating this dish I went based on the menu ingredients — didn’t know the portions so I winged it and ended up creating a meal my husband and I both loved — plus it’s so colorful!

I started by chopping up a twelve ounce bag of brussel sprouts into fourths.  Then I peeled and cut up beets in about the same size — there were four large ones in the bunch I got.  Next I cut up a small butternut squash, again in the same size pieces.  I mixed all these veggies up in a bowl with about a tablespoon of olive oil and several shakes of chipotle powder with fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.  I then poured them out evenly on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and roasted at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, turning half way through.  While the veggies were roasting I made a cup of organic millet (follow package instructions) — the Silver Diner used quinoa but I was out and millet was just as tasty.  When the veggies were done roasting I rinsed a can of black beans and cut up an avocado and added them both to the roasted veggies.  I then mixed in a 16 ounce can of medium salsa (Organic Muir Glen).  I finished by topping with scallions and fresh cilantro.

Thank you Silver Diner for the inspiration — I look forward to making this dish often and will enjoy visiting again next time I’m in town!

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Asparagus & Tomato Scramble

Another great vegan breakfast — asparagus and tomato tofu scramble!  Much like eggs, this scramble is very versatile and I decided to make it with fresh farmers market asparagus and tomatoes today.

First cut your asparagus and place in a skillet with water and boil for a few minutes until asparagus is soft but not mushy.  When done, drain water and saute the asparagus with one small onion and a clove of garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Then add a pound of extra-firm tofu (drained and crumbled).  After a few minutes add a chopped tomato and three tablespoons of nutritional yeast or vegan parm, with fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.  Add a dash or two of turmeric for color (and because I put it in everything during cold and flu season) and cook for a few more minutes over medium heat — enjoy!

I’ve been thinking about all the things I would miss if we left Florida, one in particular is all the farmers markets littered around the state.  We frequent one that is less than a mile away “John’s Market” — all local and fresh produce.  I’d also miss my orange tree!  I planted it almost two years ago and it produced the first fruit this past December, it was delicious!  Nothing like walking out to your back yard to pick a fresh orange for breakfast!

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The China Study

Visit the link

If you read this blog I wanted to encourage you to also follow me on Facebook (VeganViola) or Twitter (@VeganViola) if you don’t already do so.  I share so many more resources, articles, and pictures there than I do on this blog.  For some reason my Tweets are not coming through on the blog like they are supposed to (Technical Support!!!).  Whenever I find something of interest I post it on social media to help get the word out about the benefits of a plant based diet — benefits to you, animals, and the planet.

Today I posted a “cheat sheet” on The China Study, the most important research published on this topic — if you don’t have time to read the book this article is an excellent summary of the highlights you need to know.

This one is the most alarming to me: Animal protein promotes the growth of cancer. The book author T. Colin Campbell, PhD., grew up on a dairy farm, so he regularly enjoyed a wholesome glass of milk. Not anymore. In multiple, peer-reviewed animal studies, researchers discovered that they could actually turn the growth of cancer cells on and off by raising and lowering doses of casein, the main protein found in cow’s milk.

For the skeptics out there: The study findings are bulletproof. After years of controversial lab results on animals, the researchers had to see how they played out in humans. The study they created included 367 variables, 65 counties in China, and 6,500 adults (who completed questionnaires, blood tests, etc.). “When we were done, we had more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet, and disease variables.” In other words, there’s no arguing with the findings, Meat Council of America. Sorry.

Click on the link above or copy and paste the one below for the summary.

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Curried Mung Bean Soup

We are loving our pressure cooker — best Christmas gift, thanks dad!  My husband got the flu so I was on the hunt for some curative soups.  This one caught my attention while I was flipping through a Christmas gift from him — JL Field’s new cookbook Vegan Pressure Cooking: Beans, Grains, and One-Pot Meals in Minutes.

I’ve never used mung beans before but wondered when I saw them next to the lentils I normally grab on trips to the market.  The mung bean is highly nutritious with protein, fiber, potassium, iron, and magnesium.  It is a hardy bean and this recipe is packed with other healing ingredients such as sweet potato, onion, garlic, carrots, collard greens, and our favorite turmeric.

One of the reasons I think I noticed this recipe so quickly was that I had seen it before!  I receive a weekly email from and they were featuring this same recipe from JL’s new book a few weeks ago.  Considering that it was brought to my attention twice, I knew this was the soup that would help my husband recover.  To find the recipe use the link below — one note, I had to add additional time in the pressure cooker, the eight minutes suggested left the beans a bit crunchy, adding an additional five made them perfect for us.

It’s funny how I still long for warm soups during the winter, even with the windows open and 75 degrees outside in sunny Florida.  Our bodies are conditioned to certain foods — I guess that’s why we crave pumpkin flavored everything in October!  Maybe it’s also tied to that longing I mentioned in my last post, to head north to be closer to family.  I made a commitment to Effortlessness this year (see 1/1/15 post) — I’m finding it difficult to BE that word while making this decision…

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Buckwheat Waffles

I get asked a lot what I eat for breakfast — I was never a big egg fan before so this is easy!  My cousin bought me a great Mickey Mouse waffle maker so I pull it out for fun any chance I get.

Simply find a buckwheat mix you like and follow the instructions — using an egg substitute and non dairy milk of course!  I like Arrowhead Mills Organic, they suggest an egg substitute and soy or rice milk right on the package.

Add some fresh fruit and you’re all set — effortless (remember my word?)!

I texted this photo to my sister and she said my niece, two year old Ruby, was all smiles when she saw it.  Luckily our other sister got her the same waffle maker for Christmas so she can enjoy Mickey waffles at her home in Denver.  My family is too far away!  Both of my sisters are in Denver, my dad in NY, aunts/uncles and cousins scattered through NY, VT, NH, and MA.  Moving to Florida was good for us in many ways and we’ve had visitors during the harsh winters but I think I’d rather be closer to family.  Is it time to uproot our lives again and move north?  My husband’s business base is in NY so he travels there constantly — maybe it’s best we move back and I can somehow deal with the cold and being away from the beach?  But what about my “little sister” — being a volunteer with Big Brothers/Sisters was one thing that kept me going when depressed last year — my little sister is a ball of fun energy, I would miss her terribly!  What’s a girl to do?

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