Another fun and successful cooking party!

Sunday was our Lovable Lunches cooking class and it was such a blast!  We made a falafel plate, honey-ginger mushrooms w/ginger miso kale and quinoa, Thai coconut sweet potato soup, chipotle chop salad, homemade salsa, and no-bake honey bee cookies.  Big thanks to those who joined us.  An especially big thanks to guest, and professional photographer, Caroline Malouf who whipped out her camera during class and took these great shots!

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Be sure to check the “Cooking Classes” tab frequently for info on future classes. Spaces fill quickly.

Need a little help or encouragement implementing it at home?  Private consultations are available to those who are interested in making a change to a plant-based diet.  For more information, please contact me at (805)236-7484.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

This a.m. I was in the mood to bake and had a cup of left over pumpkin puree in the fridge that needed to be used.  My first thought was pumpkin oatmeal cookies, bejeweled with cranberries.  Fortunately I came across this wonderful recipe on the Vegan Yack Attack website.  Click here for the original post and recipe.  These babies are so full of flavor without any oil, eggs, dairy, nuts or refined sugar.  Of course I can’t leave anything alone, so I switched out the whole wheat flour with spelt flour, used date paste (pureed dates and water) as the sweetener, and added an extra pinch of ground clove. Cloves add such a great earthiness and depth.  Enjoy!

Honey-Ginger Baby Bellas with Ginger-Miso Kale and Quinoa

Family vacations can be inspiring on so many levels.  Recently we went to visit family in the Midwest, and while we were there, my stepmom introduced me to Honey Vinegar.  As soon as I came home I ran over to Epicurean Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegars and brought home some new ingredients to play with.  Tonight we used the honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar and blood orange olive oil to marinate baby portabellas.  They were amazing, paired with kale that was steamed and then tossed in a miso-ginger dressing.  Top it off with some quinoa, and we had a pretty delectable meal.  If you don’t have specialty vinegars lying around, this would still work very well with rice wine vinegar and olive oil.  If you would rather not use any oil and save yourself some fat and calories, simply omit the oil altogether and it will still turn out great!

Honey-Ginger Baby Bellas

6 Baby Portabellas or large stuffing mushrooms, sliced

1 Tablespoon blood orange olive oil

2 Tablespoons honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar

a splash of soy sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toss ingredients together in a large bowl, then spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 min.

Steamed Kale w/Ginger Miso Dressing 

Dressing recipe is adapted from one featured in The New York Times on July 22, 2009, which was adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons mild miso (yellow or white)

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 medium carrot, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into smaller pieces

salt and pepper, to taste

1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped

1.Put all ingredients (except kale, salt and pepper) into a mini food processor or blender and process, or blend, until dressing reaches desired consistency (1-2 minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

2.Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a large pot.  Add kale, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and steam 5-7 minutes.  Drain and toss with dressing (there will be quite a bit if dressing left over). 


If you’ve never cooked quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), don’t be intimidated.  It is easier than cooking rice!  FYI: quinoa should always be rinsed before using.

Add 1 cup quinoa (rinsed) and 2 cups water to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 20 min.  Done!

Melon Banana Split!

Here’s a fun, healthy alternative to the traditional banana split. Works well as a dessert, or a snack.  Feel free to experiment with different types of melon (watermelon, honeydew, etc.) and toppings too!

1 banana, cut in 1/2 lengthwise
Melon, seeded and scooped into balls with an ice cream or cookie scoop
nuts, chopped
fresh mint
unsweetened flaked coconut
drizzle with honey or agave nectar


Pesto and Marinara Eggplant Bake

Tender eggplant, savory pesto, homemade marinara and cheezy tofu ricotta come together to make an incredible dish!  Serve with a warm crusty baguette and fresh green salad.  And don’t forget the red wine!  If you want to go the quick and easy route, just use prepared pesto and pasta sauce, and skip down to the tofu ricotta part of the recipe.


  • 6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper, choped
  • 4-6 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large can of whole tomatoes (or 1 qt.)
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (1 tsp. dried)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano (1 1/2 tsp. dried)
  • 1 tsp. fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • crushed red pepper and black pepper to taste


  1. Heat about 3 Tablespoons of water in a large pot.  When bubbly, add onions and garlic.  Stir until fragrant.
  2. Add peppers and mushrooms. Cook until moisture from mushrooms is released and evaporates.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 min – 1 hour.
  4. Turn off heat and if you desire a smoother sauce, blend with an immersion blender to reach desired consistency. You could also just transfer some of the sauce to a blender and puree it there, if you prefer.


  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup raw slivered almonds (or walnuts)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Place all ingredients in the blender or food processor and blend or pulse until it reaches your desired consistency.
  2. Store in an air-tight container.  You will have a lot left over. 🙂

Tofu Ricotta

  • 1 large package firm tofu, drained
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 shakes of garlic powder
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (optional)


  1. In a medium size bowl, mash drained tofu until roughly the consistency of ricotta cheese.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.

Tofu Bake Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Slice 1 large eggplant into 1/2 inch round slices.
  3. Spoon just enough marinara in to cover the bottom of the pan
  4. Lay eggplant in a single layer (or double up if necessary) on top of the sauce.
  5. Top eggplant with ricotta mixture, then the rest of the sauce.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of pesto onto the top and gently spread them out a bit with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

Apple and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

The other day this acorn squash was just sitting on my kitchen counter, staring at me, as if to say, “So, what the heck are ya gonna to do with me, huh?”  I took the challenge right then and there, and here is the result.  These autumn beauties would be the perfect sweet and savory side dish for your Thanksgiving table, and so easy to prepare!  The apple, spice and walnut filling compliments the squash so well, and is very versatile.  You could just use the filling in puff pastry for a dessert, as a non-dairy “ice cream” topping, or mixed into oatmeal.  The possibilities are endless.  And once you taste it.  It won’t be hard to find excuses to make it again.  NOTE: The recipe calls for date paste, which is a wonderful, unprocessed, whole food sweetener.  Directions on how to prepare it are at the end of the recipe.  Enjoy! 


1 acorn squash, cut in half, lengthwise, seeds removed

1 large apple, cored and diced

1 handful raw walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup date paste*

1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance, softened (non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine) – optional

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground clove

a scant 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Pour enough water in a 9×13 inch glass baking dish to fill about 1/2 inch deep.  Set squash halves in the dish, cut side up.
  2. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Heap about half of the mixture into each squash half and pile in enough to make a nice mound on top.
  3. Carefully place baking dish in the oven and bake for 60-90 minutes.  Test for doneness by piercing the squash with a fork.  If the fork goes in easily, and the filling is bubbly, it’s ready.  Enjoy!

* Date paste is a terrific whole-food substitute for processed, refined sugar.  Just fill a blender pitcher with 2-3 cups of pitted dates (double check for any remaining pits).  Pour in water until the water line overs about half of the dates.  Blend on high until pureed.  Transfer to an airtight container and use whenever you need to grab a sweetener for anything from hot tea or coffee, to baking or smoothies. Use by itself for a great apple dip. Your batch of date paste will last (refrigerated, in an air-tight container) about 1 week.