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Preview: Veggie Queen Adventures

Veggie Queen Adventures

Join me, Jill Nussinow, a.k.a. The Veggie Queen, the vegetable, vegan,vegetarian and pressure cooking expert ( as I take you on a journey into the vegetable kingdom (or queendom). I'll share my travels and tidbits on purchasing the

Updated: 2017-11-05T23:50:43.854-08:00


View My Blog on The Veggie Queen Website


Almost a year ago, I had The Veggie Queen website reworked to include a blog. You can search this site for previous posts, of which there are more than 100 and possibly even more than 200. I lost track long ago. My most recent posts have all been published on The Veggie Queen website.

I have not abandoned you and hope that you will come join me where I currently post quite irregularly. I shoot for at least once a month but since I have been working on my next cookbook, The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less Than 30 Minutes, time has been limited. I hope to get back to more regular blogging when my ebook is released and the manuscript is happily resting with the publisher. Stay tuned...

You can also catch up with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Feel free to email me with any questions. I look forward to having you around.

Want to see The Veggie Queeen on the Oprah Winfrey Network?


If you'd like to see me have my own show, Eating for Energy, please click this link.
You can vote a number of times for the same video. Should you lose the link, just go to browse videos, enter Jill and cooking, and you'll find me. I'd also love to hear any of your comments.

Additionally, I want to let you know that my blog has now officially moved to my new-ish website at You can find the blog under the blog tab or by clicking here. You can also sign up to receive new blog posts by clicking on the orange RSS feed button on the page. If you receive the feeds from this blog, please do that so that you can keep up with what I'm doing, in case I don't end up on the Oprah Winfrey Network any time soon.

I'd like your votes but honestly I see myself as a better candidate for PBS. I am all about doing vegetable, food and nutrition education and I'm not into hype or commercials.

Thanks for your support.

Where Has the Time Gone?


If I were a teacher (oh, I actually am) and had to grade myself on blogging, I suspect that my grade would be less than a C for consistency or lack thereof. Each blog post might be an A or B but the lack of frequency would drag the grade down. With that said, and the self-flagellation out of the way, I can now tell you what I've been doing that's prevented me from blogging more often. (Listen for the excuses, if you read them, call me on them.)As much as I'd like to say that I NEVER get ill, that's just not the case. I live in the world and sometimes those nasty germs and viruses get me, just like they do you. I take as many precautions as possibly but short of going the Howard Hughes route, I live in the world and as they say things happen.In early March, I got hit with some stomach bug (from the one time that I ate outside the home) that I thought that I shook off through eating fermented foods, especially miso (South River is my favorite) and kombucha, rice and baked potatoes for the better part of a week. I was feeling better for a few days, and once again I ate at some potluck meals and wham -- I got knocked down again for close to another week. Back to rice, baked potato, miso, kombucha and home-fermented sauerkraut as tolerated. Finally started feeling better but a bit weak after the bodily assault. Throughout all of this I was writing and planning future classes. Luckily when I was teaching, I was feeling just fine. (Thank my lucky stars for that because teaching cooking when you feel lousy is just NO fun.)I then went to Anaheim for the Natural Products Expo for just one day where I sampled my way through many products that I wouldn't necessarily consider "natural" but many that were. If you have any questions about the show, just ask me. My favorite quinoa people from La Yapa quinoa from Bolivia where there. They call theirs, "Quinoa with a Cause", as they support education in Bolivia. I am pictured here with Tania, who is Bolivian. Check out their website. And while you're there, you can see my video on cooking quinoa in a pressure cooker. Then I went to Oaxaca, Mexico for 6 days and all was well with the world. Saw some ruins, checked out Zapotec weavers, saw the Big Tree (any photos don't do it justice -- you have to just see it), went to markets, ate great food (stay tuned for posts and photos of the food) and then visited some friends of friends of friends and did what you shouldn't do - I drank the water because I saw it come out of a 5 gallon bottle. Trouble was that I didn't know where that bottle was filled, and with what. So, guess what? Traveling home the next day and wham -- sucker punched in the gut again, and there goes the eating for a number of days. Back to my regimen, which by then I had down pretty well.Finally, I am feeling better and ready to get to work on food. I have a jar of cabbage, golden beets, green garlic, daikon radish tops, ginger, garlic and Oaxacan chipotle pepper fermenting on my counter top, inspired by the sprouting and fermenting class that I taught earlier this week. Once fermented (which will hopefully happen by mid-week next week) I plan to eat this regularly to help keep my gut healthy and resistant.I have about a week to go and then I leave town again for Portland, Oregon and then Seattle. I am quite hopeful that I'll be able to drink the water and get back to blogging.If you've got any wonderful stomach bug remedies, please share them in the comments below.[...]

The Veggie Queen Sprouts Again


I have been following a partly-raw diet for most of my life. I have always eaten raw fruit and vegetables, and for at least 30 years, on and off, I have been sprouting. I love the simplicity of the jar method:you put the seeds in a jar with a screened lid or piece of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band, soak, rinse, put in a bowl on an angle in a cabinet and then rinse twice a dayWhen ready, place the jar in a spot with indirect sunlight and let the sprouts green up by absorbing light and turning it into chlorophyll.Here is the first step in seed soaking overnight. This has to happen no matter which method you use. This jar has a screen on the top.But for the past 16 months, I have been using the Sprout Master Mini Triple Sprouter which is like a little stacked sprout house which is available from a place called The Sprout House where I buy most of my exotic sprout seeds. I purchase the usual beans and grains in bulk at my local natural foods store and send away for mixes (check out the Veggie Queen mix) and exotic seeds such as broccoli, clover, radish and many more. I have discovered why my compact sprout system works better for me than the jar method. I recently made mung bean sprouts and put them in the cabinet to sprout in the dark. Twenty four hours later I realized that I had not remembered to rinse them. They were still OK but had a forgotten longer they may have stopped sprouting or rotted which is a big waste. I see my Sproutmaster on the counter top and remember to rinse the seeds which is vitally important.I also discovered that the seeds seem to sprout better in the Sproutmaster than in the jar so I ended up putting my "jar seeds" into the Sproutmaster to finish sprouting. I made this salad with all those sprouts (no apologies for no photo since I made it for the McDougall program participants and didn't stop to take a photo. Believe me, it was beautiful. If you were there and want to comment, please do. I have to wait a few days for new sprouts before I can shoot the photo so... in the interest of time and getting this post up -- NO photo of the actual recipe).Contact Rita at The Sprout House if you want to become a great sprouter like me. For the month of March you'll get a free pound of St. Patrick's mix with your sprouter. (Note: I am an affiliate of the Sprout House but only recommend people and products that I personally love.)Rainbow Sprout SaladServes 4I recently ate something like this at a mushroom hunting potluck. I had already likely eaten too much but it was too beautiful and tasty to pass up. Vary the ingredients based on what you have available.1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts1 1/2 cups lentil sprouts1 cup shredded red cabbage½ cup shredded carrots3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds3 tablespoons dried cranberries or raisins (optional)1 teaspoon grated orange zest1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice2 tablespoons water1-2 teaspoons mellow white miso1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard1-2 teaspoons agave syrup (optional)Combine all the vegetables in a bowl and toss, adding sunflower seeds and dried fruit, if using.In a small bowl, combine orange juice, zest, water, miso, mustard and agave syrup, if using. Combine dressing with sprouts and vegetables right before serving.© 2010 The Veggie Queen™, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD[...]

Sonoma County Restaurant Week February 22nd to 28th, 2010


I happen to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, with some of the best food around -- at least in my kitchen. I shop at the farmer's market and what I get it fresh and tasty. I am happy to say that the same is true for many Sonoma County restaurants, as I see the chefs haunting the farmer's markets for the "fresh stuff."

Coming up in less than 2 weeks, is the first
Sonoma County Restaurant Week. It's a chance to try a number of different restaurants -- certainly more than 25 of them are participating. I have a few that I'd like to revisit since it's been a long time, and some that I'd like to try. The best part of the the week is that you can choose from set menus that are either $19, $29 or $39. So you know what you're getting into.

On my list for the week are Sizzling Tandoor for some mighty-tasty Indian fare in Santa Rosa, Peter Lowell's in Sebastopol for organic, local ingredients hot out of their wood-fired oven, HopMonk Tavern also in Sebastopol, Barndiva in Healdsburg where I haven't been for ages but will gladly go for the Hen of the Woods 'shroom entree, Dempsey's in Petaluma where I know that I can pair the food with great beer and Bistro des Copains in Occidental would make my list for sure if they had a vegetarian entree but sadly they don't have one listed. Since there are only 7 days in a week, and I am already busy one of the nights, I am going to have to make some choices as to where to eat during this week. Usually, it's at home but I will make some exceptions.

Remember that my choices are based on the restaurant offering what sounds like a good vegetarian or vegan option. There are plenty of others that might appeal to you. Remember that you are supporting a vibrant community of farmers and restaurateurs when you go out for Sonoma County Restaurant Week. Hope to see you out there somewhere.

Michael Pollan and The Veggie Queen Agree on Vegtables and Cooking


The other day I went to see my former schoolmate, Michael Pollan, speak about his new book Food Rules. I find this ironic because in junior high and high school, I was the one who cared about healthy food, eschewing the garbage served in the cafeteria and bringing my own food to eat. I went on to get a graduate degree in nutrition and I think that Michael got a degree in English, communication or journalism. Michael Pollan became a famous writer. I became a writer with much less status but still with something to say. Michael (also referred to as Pollan) will tell you that he’s not an authority on food. And this is the part that bothers me just a bit. For more than twenty years, I have been teaching people about eating healthier by eating “real” foods. I’d also tell them that they didn’t need a Registered Dietitian to tell them that the foods at the top of the Food Pyramid – cake, cookies, soda, ice cream, salad dressing and the like- weren’t good for them. Obviously, I was correct – they needed a journalist/writer to do that.Michael’s new book Food Rules follows the format of his previous book In Defense of Food, going with his haiku, “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” This is where we come into agreement. In fact, one of the first statements I heard at the talk (I took 9 pages of notes in just over 30 minutes) was, “The healthiest food is in the produce department.” We agree that eating vegetables is an essential part of eating well.I will now briefly run through some of the rest of my notes that might be of interest to you. My post title may be misleading because Michael and I agree on much more than just vegetables and cooking. In fact, we encourage people to follow many of the same food rules. For a little background, Pollan shared that his interest in food grew out of his garden trials and tribulations. He was pleased to be at The Seed Bank and noted that the "real economy" is in the seeds, and that you cannot bail out the "real economy". In fact, we need to grow it. I agree wholeheartedly.Pollan wonders why Americans are so confused about feeding themselves. And then when he takes a trip to the supermarket, he understands. There are lots of "food like substances" and far less "real food".He suggests avoiding food that has health claims. He says that the cereal boxes contain the most flagrant examples of misleading claims, such as cereal that improves your immunity, that will improve your child's focus, that will protect you from a heart attack, yet this cereal contains 43% sugar by weight, and so on. And did you know that Froot Loops are better for you than donuts (as if donuts were the gold standard)?He says that the yogurt aisle isn't much better. He reminded the audience that food is not biochemistry. You do not need to know what an antioxidant is to eat well. AMEN. I couldn't agree more. You do not need a dietitian to tell you that potato chips are not healthy food. But please, Michael, I beg you to accept the fact that some dietitians are into food and what it can do, and RDs are not the enemy.Here are the myths that Pollan wants to rebuke:Foods are the sum of their nutrient parts. Nutrients matter.You need experts to tell you how to eat. He likens this process to religion - and discusses the relationship of food and health.Nutritionism divides foods into good and evil nutrients which has led us to where we are now in terms of the obesity epidemic.The whole point of eating is health. Food and eating are on the ruining your health or saving your life spectrum. But what about other perfectly legitimate reasons for eating such as pleasure, community, cultural identity?Pollan said, "I don't think that science knows enough to tell us what to eat." Agreed -- nutrition science is young. That's why I prefer to follow Mother Nature's need. He likens where we are to surgery in the year 1650 -- "it's interesting to watch but you don't want them to work o[...]

Raw Kale Salad: A Green Time of Year


Today at the farmer's market a guy that I don't think that I know directly asked me if I'd seen any bok choy at the market. I said, "No" because, I hadn't. Then he asked me if I'd seen chard, and since I was right at the Triple T Ranch and Farm booth, I pointed to the basket of Swiss chard. He went over to it, and I remarked, "Why don't you use kale, there's lots of it here today?" He walked away and I have no idea what he did. But I know what I did, I bought collards and 2 different kinds of kale: dinosaur and Red Russian and made a raw kale salad. This is certainly one of my favorite winter salads when the greens are sweetest. There are many variations on this but this is my current favorite. I think that this will change when the vegetables change with the seasons. The Veggie Queen’s Raw Kale SaladServes 2-4This is easy to make and you’ll get a great dose of greens. Use your favorites types, put in extras to suit your taste. The only limit to what goes into this salad is your imagination. When you massage the greens, be sure to add the love.2 bunches kale, collards or other greens, washed and spun dry2-3 teaspoons raw tahini1 tablespoon lemon juice1-2 teaspoons miso (my favorite is South River Miso – brown rice or or mellow white works well) or Bragg’s liquid amino acids1 teaspoon agave, or more to taste1 apple, sliced thin, julienned or gratedRemove leaves from large ribs and slice thinly. Put into a large bowl. Add the tahini, lemon juice and miso. Put your hands into the bowl and massage the greens until they are wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the agave syrup and apple. Stir well to combine. This tastes best when eaten immediately.Note: you can also add sunflower seeds or dried fruit to this salad, or go more savory by adding crushed garlic and sliced onion and omitting the apple. Notice how the greens shrink by about half when they are massaged with the tahini, miso and lemon juice. If you are eating this by yourself, make half a batch at once. Let me know how you like this salad by leaving a comment here on this blog, below, or sending me an email at jill at [...]

Mushroom Camp, Fancy Food Show, Then Life


Even though I wrote right here on my blog that I was going to bring my camera to mushroom camp, I managed to forget it. It's probably a good thing that I did because there was so much work to do that I would not likely have had time to use it. My friend Ellen snapped the one photo that I wanted of me with Saul and Moon Planits (aliases), featured here. It's not everyday that you meet people with such unusual names, but SOMA mushroom camp is that kind of place. If I'd had more time out of the kitchen, it's likely that I would have discovered other interesting people. I actually managed to get out to a class taught by Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac. on how to make medicinal mushroom tinctures but it was just then that I realized that we had to count bowls which would hold all the darned condiments for our outrageously complicated-to-prepare-and-cook Asian street food meal, put together by Mycochef Patrick Hamilton, pictured with me below, in a pretty unflattering but "real" photo. So, sitting in a class didn't really work for me and I didn't make it out of the kitchen much but the meal got rave reviews.We had an incredible team of volunteers, too many to mention so forgive me if I haven't included your name (you know that I adore all the volunteer "kitchen slaves"), who worked their butts off. Below is Andy ("The Toolman") Still and his wife Gayle. Andy brought his industrial strength Robot Coupe with more blades than I ever knew existed. That machine saved us from kitchen failure and melt down although we know now that those blades are very, very sharp. Nothing further shall be mentioned regarding this or any other things that needed nursing.Included here is also a kind of dark photo of me with my dear friend Dee, who does incredible hand reading, and is a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen. All photos by my "right hand woman" Ellen. I know that I ought to have some food photos but those will hopefully show up somewhere else, like on the SOMA Mushrooms website but nothing yet (or I've just been too busy to check).Sunday night I left Mushroom Camp in a heavy downpour (both myself and the weather), ready for my bed at home, and the next day working on writing assignments at The Fancy Food Show at Moscone in San Francisco. I had hoped to see, and stay with, my friend Sonnie but the weather (still raining) and my mood (both a bit wet and bedraggled) didn't allow that. I walked the show floor all day, missing a number of interesting items as I was focused on my story leads about beverages and cheese (of all things). And, once again, I forgot my camera. I ought to have it somehow surgically implanted so that it goes with me everywhere.I managed to test out the chocolates, grains, gluten-free products (in abundance), agave (how many kinds can there really be? At least 2, I found out - white and blue.) and popcorn. It looks like popcorn is the latest, greatest "new" snack food. At the end of the day, I was ready to head back home for a fairly quiet week of work. And I got that for a few days until Thursday afternoon when my 16-year old son called to tell me that he needed a ride home and that he likely needed to go straight to the hospital to have his appendix out. So, I picked him up, took him to Kaiser Permanente and we spent 6 hours in the emergency room, minus a short time in radiology for a CAT scan to determine that, yes, he did need his appendix removed, an hour in surgery pre-op, an hour post-op and at about 3 am we made it to a patient room, where my uncomfortable son tossed and turned in a hospital bed while his exhausted mother slept in a most uncomfortable chair for a few hours. When I awoke, I drove home to rest for a while and gather my thoughts.Son is resting uncomfortably at home now, and I had a most remarkable deep sleep last night. I guess that somehow hard work pays off and you never know what the reward will be. I am [...]

Mushroom Time Again -- SOMA Mushroom Camp Approaches


(image) Winter in Northern California is often like a big playground for those of us who are mushroom hunters. I consider myself part of the lot, although the days that I go out hunting have been limited in the last few years by working too much on "perfect hunting days". I hear the mushroom sirens singing but must ignore them all too often. One of my goals for this year is to get outside at least once a week with my eyes focused on the ground -- at least during mushroom season which lasts until around April, depending upon the weather. While this has not been the best year for mushrooms, it's a heck of a lot better than last year which, to me, was one of the worst that I can recall. (But I am fairly new to this endeavor -- with less than 10 years in.)

No matter what happens in the woods, SOMA mushroom camp takes place Martin Luther King weekend in Occidental, California. And I am one of the lucky people who toils in the kitchen, putting out a couple of wonderful mushroomy meals. I work with Mycochef Patrick Hamilton who does the menu, and I am the kitchen coordinator, or sous chef. This year, I fear that I may be in trouble with our Asian street food menu of 20 dishes that require many hands. But many hands we will have and if I can remember all the names and faces that go with the hands, we will have spectacular results. (Think about joining us next year, in the kitchen or not. It's an amazing weekend.)

My favorite part of camp is when I sneak out the back door to mushroom cultivation -- making oyster mushroom bags to bring home. You can see the results from one of last (image) year's oyster mushroom bags here.

This year I will have my camera with me and hope to get some people and mushroom shots, with the mushrooms easier to hunt down than the people. So stay tuned...

You never know what you'll find in the woods or in the kitchen.

Think about Resolutions, Set Goals


This post is NOT about food so you can stop reading now if that's all you came for.

My yoga teacher always has a well thought out "word of the week." This week it is resolution. For me sitting with nothing to think about except my breath and getting my spine to extend provides an opportunity to tune in to Clare's words and absorb their meaning; not always profound but often food for thought.

Did you ever realize that the world resolution has the word SOLUTION in it? I never gave it a thought. But now I will. Clare says that we already have the solutions but need to put them into practice. And that's what yoga and life are all about - practice without having to be perfect.

Many of you know that I prefer to set goals rather than make resolutions, which might change now that I realize the solution in resolutions. Rather than toss them to the wayside, perhaps making only one resolution and a good plan for following it would suffice for most of us.

At this time of year, I like to look back on the past year and see what happened, absorb it, spit out what I don't need to hang on to and move on. The present is a gift that you give to yourself so stay focused on now and make a plan for the future.

Here's a link to a piece that I wrote on setting goals. I am still formulating what I have in mind for my personal goals for 2010. Since I am a work in progress (and hope that we all are), I don't have to have these done by January 1st but I do recommend writing down your goals and looking at them periodically. Once a month works for me.

I hope that your goals will include taking care of yourself because money can't buy health. If you need help doing it, check in with me. My goal is to inspire you so that you can inspire other people.

Happy New Year.

If It's Winter, it Means Squash


I recently reported that I bought a new-to-me squash. That doesn't happen that often. And I couldn't remember the name so I had to write it down. It's called Aunt Thelma's Sweet Potato Pie squash. I still must do some research and find out more about it (it's in the photo and is the largest squash in the back with a butternut-type color, wedged between 2 delicatas). Nathan Boone of First Light Farm and now Oh Tommy Boy's potatoes sold me the squash and told me that there really is an Aunt Thelma.

(image) I cooked the squash and here is my report. The squash was easy enough to cut and the color was a lot like a butternut. I couldn't tell much about its texture until it was thoroughly cooked. And when it was, it was soft and perfect for soup. It did not have the intense sweetness or dense texture of my favorite squash which is the delicata. I am sure that I prefer a number of other squash over Aunt Thelma's Sweet Potato Pie squash. And when I make Sweet Potato pie, I prefer having sweet potatoes in it. It's one of two dessert recipes in my cookbook, The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment.

Since I also really like squash soup, this squash was just fine. I liked the size of it but I'm not likely to buy one again. Good thing that I have a few delicata squash put away for future use.

The Veggie Queen Brings Color to Thanksgiving Table


I should have gotten a hint about my husband's eating habits when the first salad that he made me contained iceberg lettuce, a rock hard tomato, cucumber and green pepper. He probably thought that he'd done fine but not in my world. Over the years, I've helped my husband upgrade what's in the salad bowl (see What's Up Doc, a sidebar story in my cookbook, The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment). Rick still avoids "the weeds" (all the bitter things that I really like) but will eat almost any dark green lettuce put in front of him, in copious quantities now, even asking for salad nightly.While I've done wonders with Rick, of his own volition, of course, the same is not true for the family wherein he grew up. My mother-in-law, whom I love dearly, informed me that everything was OK for Thanksgiving because she got the rolls that everyone loves (store bought white, bake and serve dinner rolls), the boiling onions and the celery and radishes. I've come to learn that my husband's family is all about the "white stuff": white bread, mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey. I am, of course, all about the vegetables, especially since I am a vegetarian.My incredibly sweet MIL told me that she bought me some (frozen, I am sure) fettuccine Alfredo to eat for Thanksgiving. She somehow cannot grasp the concept that I am vegan. She used to buy me frozen lasagna but I told her that I didn't like it. She also does not understand that while I am not specifically gluten-free, I eat few gluten-containing foods because I feel better eating this way. Since I joined the family, I have been infiltrating Thanksgiving with color. I am not sure which is harder for them to take: the actual colorful vegetables or me and how I am "different". I've been trying for years to get my niece and nephew to eat my roasted root vegetables, which often contain pink and purple potatoes. They think that I am a bit odd. And while that may be true, I am not going to give up on offering them vegetables.I made my usual Curried Squash and Pear Soup, roasted root vegetables and Fruited Wild Rice, all of which are in my cookbook, The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment. This year I also included a Match Meat vegan holiday roast that I made with the "chicken" flavor stuffed with cooked wild rice and "sausage" Match, made almost according to the recipe with some tweaking. Tasted good but not a preferred every day food for me. I was able to get Brussels sprouts on the stalk so roasted a nice batch of those. Luckily my son also likes them, which drives Rick, my husband, crazy as he likes to say that he "hates" them. I've turned more than one B.s. hater into a tolerater but... I don't have high vegetable hopes for my husband's family but I am still going to bring the color to Thanksgiving. I just can't help myself. [...]

Rooting Around For Mushrooms and More


Last night I went to a SOMA meeting and listened to David Arora, author of Mushrooms Demystified (which is still a big mystery to me) and All that the Rain Promises and More..., and William Rubel, friends and myco-cohorts discuss the Aminita Muscaria mushroom and its edibility. Now, if this isn't the black hole of mycological geek-dom, I am not sure what is. No PowerPoint presentation or photos, one little aminita-like prop and lots of talk about history and then reality. Bottom line: they say that you can eat the poisonous aminita muscaria if it is boiled for 15 minutes in a large amount of water and then cooked another way. First, though, you have to find said mushroom.A sad day for me, as today was the SOMA foray at the coast of Northern California. And my day just did not allow for me to make the trip. So, I went to a local park which was supposed to be a potential mushroom spot. I once found a Boletus Edulus (porcini) there and have been looking for another ever since. That was years ago. But sometimes the fun is in the hunt, not in the finding -- RIGHT! While that sounds nice, the truth is that the thrill is in finding the mushrooms, especially choice edibles. That will have to wait until later this week when I hope to get a coastal trip in and get moving in the woods with eyes on the ground.On another note, today was a beautiful day at the farmer's market, with people gearing up for Thanksgiving. I bought a new-to-me squash, the name of which I have already forgotten, and some horseradish root, which I love as something to grate onto my baked potatoes. Twin Peaks Ranch had a new Algerian tangerine, which I declared is tastier than the Satsuma Mandarin. This was confirmed by Ted Richardson of Bella Ride Orchard (or farm), a guy who knows his fruit. I stopped by too late to get any apples or pears from Ted but he's the guy who grows the incredible Warren pears, also sold out for the year. Jim and Dave from Cazadero were there with chanterelle mushrooms (see photo for a holey one), chestnuts and quince. Friday I spoke to the Valley of the Moon Rotary on The Veggie Queen's Health Care Solution and tomorrow I speak to the UU Forum in San Francisco about Surviving the Holidays as a vegetarian (so easy to do in my opinion but I have years of experience). Both talks involve vegetables, which ought to be clear by now. I have an agenda. I'm a mom so I say, "Eat your vegetables, please." Just so you know, I've still got mushrooms on my mind, and they aren't vegetables but are well worth eating, if you can find them.[...]

The Veggie Queen is Baaaack...From Denver and Elsewhere


I know that I have been remiss in writing here. I have been really busy for the past 6 weeks, teaching and traveling and have lots of excuses. But when I get notes from people asking if I am OK? I realize that I must take at least a few minutes to write. I just returned from attending the American Dietetic Association (ADA) conference in Denver, referred to as FNCE (Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo). I hadn't attended in 15 years. But I am now the secretary of the Vegetarian Practice Group of the ADA, and that means that I take minutes at board meetings, in person and on the phone. The funniest part is that sometimes I have a hard time reading my own notes. But it all works out.The highlight of the conference was hearing and meeting Dr. Michael Roizen, who has co-authored the YOU books with Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Oprah doctor. I am not someone awed by celebrity, it doesn't do much for me and I've met enough of them to realize that they are "real" people, just like we are. But I am wowed by brilliance. And I rate Dr. Roizen near the top of my list (which includes Paul Stamets and Paul Simon among others) as a particularly brilliant guy. His talk was brought to us by the Walnut people and I thank them, not only because I like walnuts but because Dr. Roizen was inspiring and believes with all his heart and mind that changing your eating can change your life. Amen. (Featured in this photo with me is Martha DeCampos, of the Vegetarian Practice Group, and lots of onlookers.)Additionally, in the 15 years since I last attended this conference, a number of organic companies have begun attending including Amy's Kitchen, Numi Tea, Alvarado Street Bakery, Sunshine Burger, Mary's Gone Crackers, Dr. Kracker and more. I applaud them all for showing up and sharing what they do to educate dietitians. (If you're reading this and your company attended please let me know.)I also went to a great talk on why the Registered Dietitian (RD) ought to be promoting organic foods. WOW. It's about time.My previous trips included a jaunt to San Diego where I did cooking demonstrations for 2 different WIC (Women, Infants and Children) offices about eating deliciously by cooking whole foods in a pressure cooker. And right before that, I was in San Francisco attending BlogHer Food with 300 other food bloggers, too many to mention here, except for my wonderful roommate Cheryl Sternman Rule of 5 Second Rule. who is an all around top-notch person and great writer. Read one of her recent posts, Regret ,and you'll see why I love her writing, wit, humor and photography skills. She bakes a bit too much for me but thankfully I live far enough away that I am not taunted and tormented by her baking projects. She also includes some healthier recipes for balance. Thanks Cheryl.Watch for an upcoming post on making tofu at home with Rachael of La Fuji Mama. I have already started so you'll see it sometime soon, as well as an update and highlights of my travels.My travels are over, unless, of course, you invite me to come visit you somewhere, although I much prefer the time and space of writing at home. But if you've got an empty beach house in Mexico with an internet connection, let's talk.And for those of you wondering, I am obviously alive and doing well. I always love to hear your comments. [...]

Summer Squash Love and Alchemy


I now recall why I love summer squash: you can basically eat as much as you want and not gain weight. It's a class of vegetables, like greens of all types, that lends itself to eating massive amounts. And I am sure that's why one squash plant produces so much. It's a reminder that in the summer, it's a good idea to eat lots of higher water vegetables.I don't need research to tell me that there's something good for me in summer squash, as my intuition does that. In fact, I don't eat food because it's healthy, I eat it because it fuels me and I feel best when I have the energy to go fast and far. You wouldn't try to run your car on water would you? Well, your body is more forgiving than any car and will let you run it on all kinds of (pardon the vernacular here) crap for quite a long time. But eventually, you need the high-octane fuel to get, and keep you, running at top speed.All this leads to a simple recipe that I had for breakfast (you can call me odd, that's OK) but most people would eat for lunch or dinner. It amazes me how so few ingredients can turn into something so wonderfully delicious. I say that it serves 3-4 but it only made 2 servings for me.Simple Summer SquashServes 3-4Fresh ingredients are a must for this dish because they're the star. Best to grow them yourself, get them from a neighbor or go to the farmer's market or local farmstand.2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)1/2 cup sliced onion3/4 cup chopped red, orange or yellow pepper2-3 cloves garlic, minced2-3 teaspoons Bragg's liquid amino acids, tamari or soy sauce8 ounces firm tofu or tempeh (optional), or 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans3 cups chopped summer squash (I used Bianco de Siciliana and Costata Romanesco)2 teaspoons Organic Vegetable Rub , Italian seasoning or other herb blendChopped fresh basil, if you have itHeat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and then the onion. Saute the onion for about 2 minutes and add the pepper and garlic. Saute another minute or two. Add the tofu and Bragg's, cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so tofu doesn't stick. Add the summer squash and vegetable rub and cook for 2-4 minutes, until the squash is cooked through, but still firm (this depends upon the type and age of your squash). Garnish with basil, if desired.Pressure Cooker directions:Heat the pressure cooker over medium heat. Add the oil,if using, and onion. Saute for a minute. Add the peppers and garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tofu and Bragg's and cook 1 more minute. Add the squash and vegetable rub, plus 2-3 tablespoons water. Lock on the lid and bring to high pressure. Lower the heat to maintain high pressure for 1 minute, 30 seconds (for regular zucchni, crookneck or yellow squash, only cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute). Quick release pressure and serve right away. Garnish with basil, if desired. This dish will last a few days in the refrigerator. It does not freeze well. You can adjust this recipe anyway that you want and make it your own. It's a starting point. [...]

Graffiti in Petaluma Has Winning Accessory Menu


(image) I've never heard of a restaurant serving accessories but I'm glad that Graffiti in Petaluma does. My mother-in-law took me there and I ordered Beet Kim Chee ~ Red and Gold Beet Kim Chee with Japanese Cucumbers ($3).

In my younger years, an accessory would have been a pair of red high heels. These days, I am thrilled when it includes fresh and delicious vegetables.
I can honestly say that this may be one of the best salads that I have ever had in a restaurant -- filling, fresh, lively, zesty, perky, colorful. I could have stopped eating after that dish and been quite satisfied. But I ordered soup and cornbread.
The roasted artichoke and mushroom soup was very tasty but didn't wow me the way that the Kim Chee (I spell it Chi) did. The grilled jalapeno cornbread, another accessory which I'd liken to a too-large purse, was big enough but lacked any jalapeno kick. It would have been better off left on the plate.

Eating outdoors, facing the Petaluma River, was relaxing but the weather got quite warm despite the much-needed shade. Cherry sorbet was the perfect end to the meal but not quite as satisfying as the beginning.

I would go back to Graffiti again at lunch time and see what's on the Graffiti Tapas part of the menu. My mother-in-law who took me for a belated birthday lunch had scallops served with an artichoke heart. She thoroughly enjoyed it but it's certainly not my cup of tea (or small plate).

My recommendation is to check out the accessories (I guess that these are sides) when you visit and think of them as possibilities for a meal -- so it may be best to wear your little black dress, as it goes with everything.

The Veggie Queen is Still Nuts


(image) I think that nuts must be attracted to me, or vice versa. This past weekend, I came across organic, Hawaiian macadamia nuts from Lovejoy Nut Farm of Hawaii at the Sebastopol farmer's market, here in California. Leana and I chatted briefly. I had never seen mac nuts in their shells. And she had the special little nut cracker that could make it possible to easily extricate the nuts from their incredibly tough shells.

When I tasted a sample of these nuts, I knew that I had to have a bag of them. I asked if I could write a check (I remembered my checkbook but not my camera. Darn it.) and Leana said, "Yes." Then the guy with Leana said, "You're The Veggie Queen, aren't you?" And Leana got excited and said that she'd trade me the nuts and cracker ($10) for my book. That was music to my ears. I ran to get a copy of my book and left with a sack of nuts and a cracker.

My son cracked some nuts for me on the way home from the market, and I've been satisfied ever since, and that's because I am still nuts over nuts. Read my last post.
I also found out from one of my Facebook friends that macadamia nuts are also grown in California. (You've got to love social networking for making the world so accessible.) I will likely order some and do a comparison test. My "friend" told me that I had to get the really good nutcracker ($82) but I said that once I did that, I'd have no money left for the nuts. Either way, I'm still nutty.

Nuts over Nuts and Trail Mix


People who know me don't hesitate to call me nuts. In fact, my father lovingly called me a "nut job", one of the last things he said on my last visit before he passed away. So I take the term as one of endearment. I'll admit that I can be a bit nutty and over exuberant about things, especially if they involve "real" food. I had the immense pleasure of receiving some Braga Farms raw trail mix, roasted, salted pistachios and roasted salted almonds with garlic, all of which are certified organic and come from a small, family farm in California. The good thing is that I love nuts, and eat them almost every day. The other good thing is that gift or not, I am likely to tell you what I really think because I am a bit of a "nut job." So, here is my critique of Braga farms organic raw trail mix. It may be one of the best trail mix blends that I've ever had, not mucked up with lots of seeds (like those, too but often they compose the bulk of the mix because they are less expensive) and containing large firm, fresh nuts. It tastes clean, containing walnuts, almonds, pistachios, dried cranberries and large plump raisins (which I believe may be coated with sunflower oil because it's listed on the label but I'm not sure). This stuff is so much better than any other trail mix that I've had which says a lot. It's also a lot more expensive at $8.86 per 8 ounce bag, but in my case, that's a good thing because even when not on the trail, I don't seem to have a limit to how much I can, and do, eat of this stuff. Rating: 5 out of 5 for freshness, taste and overall palatability.The salted pistachios are good, as good as any that I buy but discernibly better than my usual organic purchases. I am sure, though, that buying the already shelled organic ones is a treat because it makes it easy to add them to dishes, such as my Quinoa with Currants and Pistachios. For just eating, though, I'll stick to those in-the-shell as it slows me down so I don't eat the whole darned bag. Fresh and flavorful but not likely to make the switch to these, mostly due to price. Rating: 4 out of 5. $7.86 per 8 ounces I hesitated to try the salted garlic almonds, thinking that they'd be very garlicky or have some "fake" taste. But I was wrong. They are addictively delicious, and once again incredibly fresh. When buying nuts, freshness really counts, which is why supporting small farms makes a huge difference. Heck, I ought to know since I live in California, known for its nuts (and kooks). The garlic almonds are lightly flavored and oh-so tasty.Rating: 5 out of 5. $8.86 per 8 ounces. I've not had flavored almonds with such real flavor.These products, and much more, are all available from Gourmet Shopping Network . If I didn't live in such a nutty place and wanted to be sure that I had great products, I would order often from Braga Farms, supporting a small organic farm that has high standards. If you are in the market for great tasting nuts and some dried fruit, check them out.[...]

Please Pop Over the Pears, Drop off the Apples, Leave me Persimmons


In addition to picking produce, which I am happy to do almost any time, I love it when I open my front door to find bags of it. It's often a surprise -- yesterday, my friend Anet dropped off a bag of large Bartlett pears. Hopefully later today someone will show up with some Gravenstein apples.I had the good fortune of picking figs a couple of weeks ago but didn't realize that their end was so near. (Thank you Carl for your generosity.) When I went to get a few more baskets the other day, I had to work hard to discover 9 large figs tucked under the leaves of the tree. I traded some of them for other produce and have been eating the rest of them. I never met a fig that I didn't like. Good thing that they are loaded with potassium, fiber and calcium. Unfortunately, they also have plenty of sugar so best to be careful when eating them, or the tummy lets you know.I do not turn down homegrown produce when someone asks since I am often sure that I can put it to good use. I do request, though, that you don't leave me the not-so-good stuff, such as baseball bat sized zucchini or other summer squash. I will accept smaller squash and with them I will make a batch of my Grilled Asian Squash Salad. My assistant, and friend, Ellen just made these on her George Forman grill and said that they were very good. They also received rave reviews from Jenna of Kid Appeal who wrote a wonderful post about my cookbook and will be giving a copy away (so click on the link). When squash are in season, it's best to cook them up as fast and as often as you can.Grilled Asian Squash SaladServes 4When the squash is prolific, you always need another way to serve it. This dish is especially easy and delicious. Even people who say they don’t like squash usually find it irresistible.1 tablespoon olive oil1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar1 tablespoon reduced sodium tamari4 summer squash of any kind, cut lengthwise into quarters1 large onion, cut into rings3 tablespoons chopped herbs, such as cilantro, Thai basil or parsley2-3 cloves garlic, minced1 teaspoon grated gingerChopped cilantro or other herb, for garnishSalt and pepper to tasteCombine olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, tamari and half the garlic and ginger in a bowl or zippered bag. Mix in squash, onion and herbs. Let marinate at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.Place veggies on a screen on your grill over hot coals or gas or inside on a grill pan. Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side. Turn carefully and grill for another 3-4 minutes on the other side. Reserve the marinade. Once the squash is grilled, cut it into bite-sized pieces. Mix with cooked onion rings, reserved marinade and remaining ginger and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve as is, or cool to room temperature.c 2007 From The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal TreatmentIf you want to do any produce drops, just let me know. I'll even meet you at the farmer's market in any Sonoma County town or city, or I'll do the picking. Produce is my game, The Veggie Queen is my name. Actually, my name is Jill but I do answer to Veggie Queen, with or without the The.I hope that you are enjoying your summer produce as much as I am. [...]

Ubuntu in Napa: When the Timing is Right


Sometimes there are evenings that have a touch of magic. I think that my dinner with my friend Fran Costigan, the alternative dessert diva, was one of them.Fran and I both presented at the McDougall Celebrity Chef weekend, and we were tired. It had been very warm outdoors and for that I am thankful. Due to the heat, we decided to get a patio seat at Ubuntu, a "community-focused, vegetable-inspired" restaurant in downtown Napa, the next county inland from the Sonoma County paradise in which I live.The hour's drive to the restaurant was about all that I could handle with my degree of dragging. But sitting outdoors, surrounded by flowery landscaping and candlelight, changed my mood. And, spending time with Fran was great.We perused the menu, and as we did so, I saw the waiter sashay by with a flowery salad. I asked what it was, and was told that it was the Carta da Musica. I knew that shortly we'd be eating that gorgeous creation, described as a salad from "snout to tail." The delicate flowers and creative greens which include a French ice plant with a snappy, salty bite (name now forgotten), herbs and arugula was as tasty as it was delicious. It's served on a Sardinian flatbread, with or without truffled pecorino, and the most incredible Trumpet Royale "pancetta", which was incorrectly described as black trumpet mushrooms by both the waiter and chef. But the lightly fried, paper-thin slices of mushrooms that had been smoked had both the mouthfeel and flavor of bacon. Hmmm, may I have a plate of those non-McDougall mushrooms please? (After all they are plant-foods, aren't they?) The pig was surrounded by "dirt" made of dehydrated beets and hazelnuts. I can almost guarantee that you've not had anything like this before.Along with our salad we had a couple of "tastes" of wine, which are 2 ounce pours for a reasonable, by Napa standards, price of $4 to $6. Perfect amount of wine, especially for the driver. After the salad we looked at the menu again and ordered the pizzetta. This one had borage (a cucumber-tasting blue flower) tapenade and vegan cheese, for us. While we waited for our pizzetta, we were served a highly artistic beet dish, compliments of the house, that was incredibly tasty, albeit a bit too precious for my taste. The cubes of gold and red beet with flowers, beet chips and a rhubarb relish made for tasty bites but just bites they were. It may have been an amuse bouche but wasn't presented as such.And then our pizzetta arrived. It was perfectly cooked and the flavors were bright, with the borage topping made from local Sevillano olives a perfect foil for the perfectly cooked crust. The vegan cheese was a did not distract from, or overwhelm, the wonderful flavors of the fresh summer vegetables. It is just how I like my pizza, crisp crust, light topping and vegetables plus herbs. The end of the meal was as much a highlight as the beginning. I believe that the dessert that we had was called a "creamsicle" but it's not like any that I've ever had. I never cared for creamsicles so was reluctant to order this one. But I am glad that we did. My description (no photo, sorry, my camera battery died and Fran shot photos. It was too dark by dessert.) will not do it justice. On the bottom of the glass were beet tapioca pearls, with an intense red color. They were topped with orange sorbet. Mineral (or other fizzy) water was poured over those 2 elements, creating a textured, cold, creamy and spritzy dessert. You have to experience it to get what it's all about. I can just say, that as a mostly non-citified woman at t[...]

The Veggie Queen has Salad Days in Glen Ellen


I am not even sure what that term "Salad Days" means but I just had a chance to spend time with my friend Katie of North Coast Holistics (MI) while she housesits here in Sonoma County. She is staying at a beautiful home in Glen Ellen, where she lived with her ex- years ago. He and his current partner have turned the place into a lush oasis, especially for two salad eaters.Katie and I picked lettuce and Katie made a salad for us, which is a real treat for me since I am usually the salad-maker.I learned from Katie that the best way to have the freshest tasting salad is to pick the lettuce leaves and put them into a bowl of cool water. Then you rinse them a few more times and dry them off with a salad spinner, although some people have other methods that involve towels or swinging pillowcases. We picked so much lettuce, yet hardly made a dent in what was growing (they must be supplying the entire neighborhood with greens as there were more than 20 heads fully fruited), that it created a salad for lunch and another for dinner.While someone making salad for me was a high point of the day, it was nothing compared to spending a good chunk of a day with a close friend who I don't get to see often enough. When we see one another the time is often too short. I don't regret not spending more time and feel lucky that Katie set aside a day for me. She is well loved here in Sonoma County and many people want to see her. She mentioned that she might come back and housesit somewhere else, and I truly hope that happens.Now, I long for more lettuce and for more "Salad Days" with Katie. (PS. I looked up what Salad Days means, and it's a time of innocence. While Katie and I are long past that, I still like the phrase.)[...]

Family Foodies CBC Final Answer


Here is the final installment of the CBC, cross blog conversation, with Family Foodies.FF: I would love some suggestions for “fake meat” products as an foray into vegetarian eating. What are some of your recommendations?TheVQ: Having just been on Culinate, at the Table Talk Meatless chat with @Kimodonnel from The Washington Post's A Mighty Appetite, here are some suggestions that we discussed: Boca Burgers (my meat-eating husband likes these), Field Roast sausages and roast, Tofurky brats and Italian sausages, as well as Gimme Lean and Lightlife products. Many people like using the Morningstar Farms products but they seem overly processed to me. I try to stay away from eating soy protein isolate, and prefer items based on beans and grains. But many people new to the veg world go for the meatier tasting items which often contain more processed soy. There are also all the soy hot dog products that kids often like. And once you get them in the bun with stuff on them, it's hard to tell they are not meat (but what do I know about that?).My husband used to like Yves Veggie Pepperoni so much that he called it turkey pepperoni. As an aside, I will tell you that on his own my husband decided that pepperoni is gross and no longer eats it. I consider that progress.FF: I see you have a cookbook devoted to pressure cooking, and your blog bio says you are a pressure cooking advocate. Can you talk about your passion about pressure cooking and what you recommend for someone who has never used a pressure cooker?The VQ: First, let me clarify that my cookbook The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment is about vegetables throughout the year, and has a chapter on pressure cooking. I have a DVD on pressure cooking, Pressure Cooking: A Fresh Look, Delicious Dishes in Minutes that comes with a recipe booklet. What follows is my pressure cooking story.I fell in love with pressure cooking when my son was about 2 or 3. I didn’t have a lot of time yet I wanted to feed him nutritious foods. He was a vegetarian, mostly vegan, from birth. He loved lentils, especially as soup. The first item that I perfected in the pressure cooker was Shane’s Fabulous Lentil Soup which has both red and green lentils. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, including prepping the ingredients. Using my pressure cooker made me feel like a great mother. So I learned to cook other things in it. Shane also loved beans, especially black and garbanzo beans. They take 6 and 12 minutes, respectively, after they’ve been presoaked. I would always make extra and freeze them.If you are new to pressure cooking, or just want to see it, take a look at my pressure cooking website to see my video clip from my DVD. You’ll see how easy it is to use. Did I also mention that using a pressure cooker helps preserve some nutrients, and that the food looks and tastes great? You can also read my pressure cooking blog or see me on You Tube at TheVQ.I think that using a pressure cooker is perfect for a family to make cooking fast, easy and delicious. Food tastes and looks better than in a crock pot, and you can wait until late in the afternoon and decide what to have for dinner on a whim, and actually get it on the table on time. I highly recommend it.I hope that I’ve answered your questions. If anyone has questions, please feel free to comment here and I will get back to you.Thanks for this great conversation.[...]

Family Foodies CBC (Cross Blog Conversation) Answer Number 2


Debbie, although you only posed one real question about how I manage to incorporate and maintain yummy meals during winter when “fresh” items are scarce or really expensive, I also see that you asked about vegetarian proteins.I will start with the protein and give you a list of possible vegetarian protein sources which include tofu (here's my Tofu Italiano), tempeh (not well loved by many non-vegetarians but can work crumbled in foods), seitan, which is wheat gluten and all about the texture, not the taste because it has very little, if any, and beans. Then there are, of course, all the other legumes which include peas, split peas and lentils. There is obviously a large number of food items to choose from. You can also include nuts and seeds as a complement but not as the main protein source as they have a lot of fat.If you like grains, you can cook some possibly new-to-you grains such as quinoa and then combine them with seasonings (or herbs) and beans in the food processor and turn them into burgers. I brush mine with oil and bake them until done.Now, on to your question about the winter and vegetables. You are correct that there are fewer vegetables in winter, which is why it’s great that you asked this question now. Summer’s abundance is a great time to stock up for winter. For most vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans or peas, blanching the vegetables (giving them a quick dunk in boiling water) and then patting them dry, and packing them in usable amounts in freezer bags works great. You can also freeze the on cookie sheets so that the vegetables are individual and freeze them in the bags. You can then pull out what you need.Even though I live in Northern California, which is close to a winter vegetable paradise, I rely on a lot of root crops and cabbage then. It’s what you are supposed to eat, according to nature. The cooking is about learning how to be creative with rutabaga, sweet potatoes, celery root, turnips, potatoes, and how to combine them with seasonings in unique ways that make them taste great.My friend Katie, who lives on the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, has a greenhouse and manages to keep kale going in there all winter. I suspect that you may have local or semi-local farmers who have managed to do the same. Kale, collards and Swiss chard often can make it in the mild parts of winter, if there are any.BTW, you can tell that I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with frozen vegetables. I buy as much in season as I can but there are times when that becomes far too challenging and that’s when I turn to my freezer or use my canned tomatoes.Here’s how I describe the seasons: Winter is roots, spring is shoots and summer and early fall are fruits. Greens exist all year in various forms. Eating food that’s local and in-season helps us attune to the local climate and generally what our bodies need. What kind of questions do you have about products? I didn't mention any "fake meat" products and sometimes these make for a helpful transition from meat eating.[...]

Cross Blog Conversation (CBC) with Family Foodies


I've never done this kind of thing before but when asked if I would have a CBC, cross blog conversation with Debbie at Family Foodies, I said, "Yes." Those of you who know me, know that my motto is, "I'll try anything once (but not animal products in my mouth, thank you)."Debbie asks me how I suggest that a typical steak-loving, non-vegetarian transition to a more healthful way of eating?Debbie, I consider this one of my specialties because I recommend that you include more vegetables every day. Then along with that, more other healthful plant foods that might be out of the realm of "normal" such as substituting quinoa or brown rice for white rice or potatoes. Let me share the story about my husband who wasn't a huge meat-and-potatoes guy but he's also no vegetarian. I started giving him better salads, switching from iceberg lettuce to romaine. Then I included a mix of darker lettuces. I didn't do this all at once but over a month or so. He now loves the salad mix (minus the weeds, as he still doesn't like the bitter stuff such as arugula or dandelionand eats at least 3 to 4 cups of it each night. On his own, he asked me to pack him a container of fruit at lunch and a container of vegetables. So, he makes sure that he gets the recommended 9 servings each day, at least during the week. Once you're eating all that produce, and make sure that it's as fresh and local as you can get it, so it tastes best, you are likely to eat less of the other things. Or at least that's the hope. You can also go the Meatless Mondays route, making sure that at least one day a week you skip the meat. Once you get a few good recipes under your belt, it may be easier to incorporate more vegetarian meals.Confirmed meat-eaters often like dishes such as chili, which you can make in many meatless variations with a variety of different beans. When I attend potlucks or other functions, I bring a dish that I want to eat which is often colorful and filled with vegetables. It might be something like a quinoa salad, sweet and sour summer squash or hummus and vegetables, soup or stew, depending upon the event and the meal. Fresh and vibrant vegetables are almost always a hit.Unless there is meat in every dish, I find things to eat. But nothing bugs a vegetarian more than people hiding meat in dishes that could easily be meat-free such as a vegetable-based soup made with chicken or beef broth. Some of my family's staples at holiday meals such as Curried Squash Soup, Roasted Root Vegetables and Fruited Wild Rice started out as what I made for me but now everyone eats them. I think that you mentioned the key word: transition. Most people need to make changes over time to be most successful, especially with a big dietary change such as eliminating meat and other animal products. Get a few good cookbooks (guess this is when I plug The Veggie Queen cookbook) or look online at my website or other blog posts. I also have have colleagues and fellow bloggers who do great work. See my list on the sidebar here.And, Debbie, keep making those salads but see how you might make them interesting without the cheese by adding little tidbits such as dried fruit, nuts, olives, capers or avocado. It's all a process and I encourage you to give it a try especially because it's good for the whole family. Children mimic what you do and if you want your kids to have a great start on health, it's through what they eat.Now, my questions for you: what do you think real[...]

Life is for the Living and You'll Be A Long Time Dead


I know that this blog is about food but it's also about life and living it well. And despite the fact that I am a Registered Dietitian, writer and a host of other things (some of which I will not discuss), I may have missed my calling in the philosophy department. In all my years of school I did not take one philosophy class but somehow I manage to espouse my ideas almost daily.The title of this post however is dedicated to my father who just passed away last week. Those were his words, and with that in mind, I'd like to share a little bit about my Dad, Bernie. Bernie loved to eat, and when you look at photos of him over the years, you can tell when he really liked to eat food that was not very good for him, as he looked heavy. When he was in his 50s, he likely had a silent heart attack, confirmed later by doctors. He wanted to know what to do so my sister sent him Dr. Dean Ornish's first book on reversing heart disease. My father was a voracious reader and a bit of a fanatic, so he followed Ornish's advice for quite some time. After doing so when he went back to the doctor, he'd managed to regrow capillaries to his heart. My Dad was also into exercise and used the Nordic Track like a madman for many years. He'd often ask me for advice regarding what to eat and saw how I followed a vegetarian diet and leaned in that direction.Luckily as he got older, he slowed down just a bit on the exercise and got a dog, a Boston terrier named Sweetie, that he walked daily until just a few months ago. He also mowed the lawn often, which was a lot of work on more than an acre of property. After the Ornish plan, my Dad ate pretty well, including lots of fresh food, made by my mother who likes to cook and has a garden. A few years ago, I sent my father a copy of The China Study by Colin Campbell. He then adopted a vegan diet, and said that he felt better than ever. And that might have been true for awhile. Last year he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. If his doctors had been paying attention, they would have likely caught the cancer earlier as my Dad's PSA level was elevated. He also had GI problems, caused by a hospital stay, and likely needed Vitamin B12 shots but didn't receive those either.The moral of this story is as Sandy Lewis, MD, the cardiologist from Portland, who shared the Super Shuttle to the Denver airport as I left to go to the funeral, said, "No one gets out alive." So, I encourage you to treat each day as if it could be your last. Find something to be grateful for, appreciate the people around you, and enjoy fresh food, clean air (if you've got it), nature, your pets, your work, and life in general. There are no bad days, just some are better than others. They all give perspective and a frame of reference.When I'd ask my Dad how things were going, he'd usually say, "It's better than the alternative." When he stopped saying anything like that, I knew what was in store. The end isn't usually easy, so in the words of Jennifer Stone of KPFA radio, "Go easy. And if you can't go easy, go as easy as you can." Bernie reminded his 3 daughters that life is not a popularity contest but that kindness, generosity and sharing wisdom all count. And I hope that what I've shared with you today has an impact in some way.Smile, enjoy, live well -- it's the best revenge.[...]