Meredith Hink MS, RD, CD

I am a Corporate Dietitian with a foodservice distribution company. My professional areas of interest include food safety and sanitation, food marketing, food law, and vegetarian nutrition. In my spare time I am an avid food photographer and enjoy spending time with my husband and two dogs. Visit Meredith's website →

More posts by Meredith Hink MS, RD, CD

Chocolate Banana Nut Leather

Chocolate Banana Nut LeatherCreate your own healthy snacks with a food dehydrator.  When making fruit leathers you need a special thin tray that allows you to spread out the sauce so it will dry evenly.  Make your next food adventure this chewy, naturally sweet fruit leather.


  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/8 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/8 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Oil a fruit leather tray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, peanut butter, and applesauce until well blended.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Using a spatula, spread thinly over fruit leather tray.
  5. Dry overnight (10-12 hours) on fruit/vegetable setting (135◦F) or until leather is no longer moist and can be peeled from tray.
  6. Wrap in plastic wrap and bag for quick access.

Yield: 1 tray of fruit leather

Lemon Quinoa Stir Fry

Lemon Quinoa Stir FryThis stir fry features quinoa in place of rice and has a colorful mix of vegetables with red pepper, kale, and edamame.  It also has a surprisingly lemon flavor thanks to the lemon juice and zest added just prior to serving.  If you prefer a more toned down lemon flavor, add half the lemon juice suggested.

Yield: approximately 8 – ¾ cup servings


  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 ½ cups thin, julienne strips of red pepper (1 large red pepper)
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 5 oz. sliced, water chestnuts (1- 8 oz. can, drained)
  • 1 cup shelled edamame, cooked
  • 1 ½ cups seitan strips (8 oz.)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil.
  2. Add quinoa and simmer over medium-low for 25-30 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat canola oil over medium heat.
  4. Add red pepper and chopped kale and cook for 5 minutes or until soft, stirring constantly.
  5. Toss in water chestnuts, edamame, and seitan strips and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes to warm the seitan.
  6. Add cooked quinoa, ¼ cup lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp. lemon zest.  Cook until juice has been absorbed.
  7. Serve warm.

Polenta Pizza

polenta pizzaPizza night has taken a new twist at my home. The usual flour based crust has now been replaced by polenta. Instead of the pizza stone we now use our trusty cast iron skillet. Pizza night will never be the same again.


  • 3 cups water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced green pepper
  • 3 cups sliced mini portabella mushrooms (8 oz. box)
  • 2/3 cup prepared hummus
  • 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 12 inch cast iron skillet


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add salt to water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Reduce to medium low heat and add 1/3 cup polenta.
  4. Stir for 2 minutes until thickened, then add remaining polenta and stir until creamy, approximately 8-10 minutes.
  5. While the water is boiling, heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  6. Add onion, green pepper, and sliced mushrooms. Saute until soft, approximately 3-4 minutes. Remove vegetables from skillet.
  7. When polenta has cooked, spread the polenta evenly in the still warm cast iron skillet. Spread hummus over polenta and spread onion, pepper, and mushroom mixture over hummus. Spread cherry or grape tomatoes on the pizza.
  8. Place polenta pizza in oven for 15 minutes.

Note: polenta pizza may need to be served with a spoon if served straight from the oven. The polenta will become firm and be easier to cut when it cools.

Time to Harvest

Fresh HerbsAutumn is here and it is time for the harvest. If your garden included herbs — now is the time to reap the harvest before the frost comes. Herbs such as thyme and oregano, which are used for their leaves, are best harvested before they go to flower. Herbs grown for their flowers such as chamomile and borage are best harvested when they are almost in full flower. Herbs grown for their roots such as ginseng and chicory are best harvested after the foliage fades in the fall. Herbs grown for their seed such as dill seed are best harvested when the seeds turn from green to brown (but before they open).

There are several ways to preserve the harvest. If you have some closet space, you can hang the herbs. First, make sure the herbs are clean and dry. Then, tie loose bundles of 5-8 stems together with twine and hang in a warm (70-80°F), dry area away from the sun. Make sure that the herbs are loose enough to allow for good air circulation. To prevent dust from gathering on your herbs, place the bundles in paper bags with holes punched in them. Drying will usually take 2-4 weeks. If you are looking for a quicker method, herbs can be dried in just a few hours in a dehydrator set at its lowest setting (100-110°F), or in a conventional oven set at low heat (180°F) in 3-4 hours (with the door open). In both cases, it is best to remove leaves from their stems so that the herbs dry quickly and evenly. An even faster method to dry herbs is in the microwave. Place 4-5 branches of clean and dry herbs between two paper towels and microwave on high heat setting for 1-3 minutes. If herbs are not dry, continue at 30 second intervals. Allow herbs to cool between heating sessions so they dry completely.

Dried herbs are best stored in dry, air-tight, glass containers; although plastic containers or zip lock bags will also work. Another way to preserve herbs is to chop them, place them in ice cube trays, and fill the trays with water. These herb cubes are best used in cooking. For more great information on preserving your herb harvest try these great resources:

Entertain Them With Beans

Sweet & Spicy Bean DipLooking for a new football viewing recipe? Tired of the same old bean dip? Try Sweet and Spicy Bean Dip featuring Great Northern beans.

Sweet & Spicy Bean Dip


  • 1 – 15 ounce can Great Northern beans, drain and wash
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup cooked, sweet corn
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese alternative
  • 1 – 1.25 oz package taco seasoning
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 – 8 oz. package vegan cream cheese, softened
  • 1 – 8 oz. vegan sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons dried chives
  • Spinach leaves
  • Crackers


  1. Blend the Great Northern beans, almond butter, olive oil, and lemon juice using a food processor or blender. Divide bean dip in half, leaving one half in the processor or blender and placing the other half in a separate bowl.
  2. Blend corn and alternative cheese with the bean dip in the processor. Scrape sweet bean dip into one bowl.
  3. Place the other half of the bean dip back into the processor or blender and blend with taco seasoning and sun dried tomatoes to create a spicy bean dip. Extra olive oil may be required to blend sun dried tomatoes
  4. Combine softened cream cheese, sour cream, and dried chives in a third bowl and stir until well mixed.
  5. Line a dinner plate with spinach leaves.
  6. Spoon sweet, yellow bean dip onto half of the plate and spicy, red bean dip onto the other half. Spoon sour cream and chives dip on top of both bean dips.
  7. Serve with the crackers of your choice.

Sweet Potatoes for Any Meal

Lemony Pepper Sweet Potato FriesOften this vegetable is the star at holiday celebrations when it finds its way into sweet side dishes or baked into pies, but sweet potatoes make a wonderful addition to lunch or dinner throughout the year. Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) can be baked, boiled, or even micro-waved as a healthy side dish or added to a main dish at any meal. One baked, medium (5″ length) sweet potato provides approximately

  • 103 Calories
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 24 grams of carbohydrate
  • 22 mg Vitamin C (which is 37% of the Daily Value)
  • 21,909 IU of Vitamin A (which is over 4 times the amount required in a day)

If you are looking for a way to add this colorful vegetable that is packed with Vitamins A and C to your diet, create crispy baked fries for dinner tonight.

Lemony Pepper Sweet Potato Fries

Yield: 3 cups


  • 1 lb raw sweet potatoes (approx 3-4 medium)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash® lemon pepper seasoning blend or other favorite seasoning


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spray or rub with cooking oil.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into fries that are approximately ½” thick by 2-3″ long.
  3. Mix lemon juice and lemon pepper seasoning blend in a large bowl.
  4. Add sweet potatoes and toss to coat.
  5. Spread sweet potatoes in a single layer on the two baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the fries have decreased in size by half and are soft in the middle.

Farmers Market Pockets

Farmers Market PocketsSummer is the best time to find fresh vegetables. This crispy pocket recipe is a wonderful way to enjoy a small “bounty” of vegetables. The key to cooking is to finely dice and slice all vegetables so they cook evenly. A tangy baste completes this savory dish that could serve well as an appetizer. Bon appétit!

Yield: 29-30 pockets


  • 3 small potatoes, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ large green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 12 baby carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ Tbsp sea salt
  • 2- 8 oz packets Fillo dough, defrosted
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • Pan spray


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray baking sheets with pan spray.
  3. Combine potatoes, green onions, bell pepper, carrots, garlic, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Unroll packets of Fillo dough. Cut in half, lengthwise.
  5. Place 1 ½ – 2 Tbsp vegetable filling in the corner of one end of a one strip of Fillo dough. Careful fold 3-4 layers over the filling to meet the opposite end of the strip. Keep folding the dough in triangle folds until you reach the end. Use a small amount of pan spray to seal the edge. Repeat 28-29 more times until all Fillo dough is used.
  6. In a small bowl, combine mustard, oil, and white pepper. Baste one side of each pocket. Lay the unbasted side on the baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until Fillo dough pockets are golden brown.

Note: These pockets can be frozen and baked for later use. The basting sauce also makes a tangy dipping sauce so make extra!

Salad in a Glass

Salad in a GlassMy family refers to this recipe as a salad in a glass. When I don’t have time to sit down and have a salad I can still have my greens in a jar. The balsamic vinegar adds an extra zing.


  • 6 oz. plain cultured coconut milk
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 peeled kiwi, sliced
  • 15 spinach leaves
  • 1 tsp.  balsamic vinegar


  1. Place cultured coconut milk, strawberries, kiwi, spinach leaves, and balsamic vinegar in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Serve – garnish with fresh strawberries and spinach leaves if desired.

Yield: 1 ½ cups

Grilling Time for Salads

Grilled FruitA recent trip to one of many wonderful, vegetarian friendly restaurants in the Denver, Colorado area inspired this food feature. Although many people are familiar with grilling vegetables, grilled fruit can also add a wonderful flavor to any summer supper. One of the biggest tricks to grilling fruits and vegetables is to make sure that all pieces are approximately the same size so that they grill evenly. Also, if working with “smaller” bites, cover the grill with aluminum foil to preserve your feast from the fire.


  • 1 -10 oz bag Italian salad mix (romaine and radicchio)
  • ¼ cup cooking wine
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups watermelon, sliced or balled
  • 2 cups cantaloupe, sliced or balled
  • 2 oz walnut pieces


  1. Cover grill with aluminum foil. Heat on a low temperature setting.
  2. Toss lettuce, cooking wine, and olive oil in a bowl. Let sit 5 minutes at room temperature
  3. In a second bowl combine watermelon and cantaloupe.
  4. Once the grill is hot, spread lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe, and walnuts evenly over the foil. Discard any remaining wine/oil mixture.
  5. Heat for 5 minutes or until salad is a golden brown.
  6. Serve warm. Yields 5 ½ cups of salad.

Peach and Raspberry Slush

Peach Raspberry SlushSummer is the time to celebrate the bountiful harvests of the bush berry and tree fruit seasons. This combination is a refreshing drink that has a little zing to it because of the ginger. So kick back, relax, and enjoy this cool and healthy summer beverage.


  • 2 cups skinned, diced peaches (2-3 medium peaches)
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 ½ cups club soda
  • 4 cups crushed ice


  1. Place peaches, raspberries, lemon juice, honey, ginger and ½ cup club soda in blender. Blend until thoroughly mixed.
  2. For each one cup serving, place ¼ cup of peach-raspberry mix, ½ cup crushed ice, and ¼ cup club soda into a cocktail shaker.* Shake until well blended.
  3. Garnish with raspberries.

Yield: 8 – one cup servings

*Note: If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, a covered coffee mug that can be completely sealed will also work well.

Mock Tuna Shell Salad

Mock Tuna Shell SaladThis refreshing, summer salad has slight hints of the sea without any fishy ingredients. Onion and celery lend a crunch to this otherwise soft salad. Also tastes great if you refrigerate it overnight to pack in your lunch the next day. For extra crunch, serve on a bed of mixed salad.


  • 1 ½ cups dry (3 cups cooked) whole wheat mini shell pasta
  • 1 – 15 oz. can no salt added garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup diced, yellow onion (1/2 large onion)
  • 2 stalks diced celery (approx. 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 2/3 cup Original Vegenaise®
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay® seasoning (30% less sodium)
  • ½ tsp. dried dill weed


  1. Prepare whole wheat shells according to package directions.  Once cooked, rinse under cool water.
  2. Place can of garbanzo beans in food processor and pulse 4-5 times or until garbanzo beans are finely shredded.
  3. Combine whole wheat shells, garbanzo beans, onion, celery, green peas, Vegenaise®, Old Bay® seasoning, and dill weed in a large bowl.  Refrigerate until cold.

Yield: 6 cups

Nutritionals (per 1 cup serving)

Calories: 353, Calories from Fat: 160; Fat: 18 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Trans Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 230 mg; Carbohydrates: 36 g; Fiber: 7 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 9 g; Vitamin A: 5% DV; Vitamin C: 10% DV; Calcium: 5% DV; Iron: 15% DV

Calico Bean Slider Burgers

calico bean sliderThese savory little slider burgers make a perfect mouthful. Dress them up with your favorite burger toppings.


  • 1 cup finely diced mini bella mushrooms
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/3 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup black eyed peas or Northern white beans
  • 1/3 cup kidney beans
  • 1/3 cup black beans
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. sweet basil
  • ½ tsp. rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil


  1. Combine all the ingredients except for the canola oil in a food processor until well mixed.
  2. In a medium frying pan heat the canola oil over medium heat.
  3. Form patties out of two tablespoons of bean mixture.
  4. Cook five minutes on each side.
  5. Serve on a dinner roll or in a wrap with your favorite sides.

Yield: 8-10 slider burgers

Appetizing Artichokes

ArtichokeArtichokes are an edible, Mediterranean vegetable that make a great appetizer for two or three people. Half of a medium globe by itself is equivalent to ¼ cup vegetables and 30 Calories. For those who are new to this delectable dish, the edible parts of the artichoke are the bottom of the leaves and the artichoke heart. The tops of the leaves are woody as are the hairy, immature florets or “choke” that sits on top of the artichoke heart. The leaves and artichoke heart can be dipped in a variety of sauces. My husband and I have found this balsamic vinaigrette to be a simple, yet tasty dipping sauce for our favorite appetizer.


  • 1 artichoke*
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 ½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard


  1. Place one medium saucepan of water on stove top. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Prepare the artichoke by cutting off the stem and snipping the tips of the leaves using a pair of kitchen scissors.
  3. Boil artichoke for 15-20 minutes or until the leaves can be easily peeled from the artichoke.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl. Makes 1/3 cup dipping sauce.
  5. To serve, peel artichoke leaves from the artichoke and dip the bottom of the leaves into the vinaigrette.

*Note: One medium artichoke comfortably feeds two people.

Peach and Raspberry Slush

Peach and Raspberry SlushSummer is the time to celebrate the bountiful harvests of the bush berry and tree fruit seasons. This combination is a refreshing drink that has a little zing to it because of the ginger. So kick back, relax, and enjoy this cool and healthy summer beverage.


  • 2 cups skinned, diced peaches (2-3 medium peaches)
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 ½ cups club soda
  • 4 cups crushed ice


  1. Place peaches, raspberries, lemon juice, honey, ginger and ½ cup club soda in blender. Blend until thoroughly mixed.
  2. For each one cup serving, place ¼ cup of peach-raspberry mix, ½ cup crushed ice, and ¼ cup club soda into a cocktail shaker.* Shake until well blended.
  3. Garnish with raspberries.

Yield: 8 – one cup servings

*Note: If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, a covered coffee mug that can be completely sealed will also work well.

Beat the Heat with a Frozen Fruit Treat

Frozen Fruit TreatFrozen fruit such as grapes, blueberries, and strawberries make a delicious and nutritious treat during the warm, summer months. They are an excellent replacement to sugary popsicles and the flavor is all natural! Preparation is the key to properly freezing foods. When preparing most whole frozen fruits, use the following techniques.

  • Only freeze fruits that are at their peak of flavor — if you don’t grow it yourself then purchase the fruit when it is in season.
  • Do not try to freeze too much at one time! An average home freezer can only adequately freeze 2-3 cubic feet of food at one time.
  • Wash and thoroughly dry all fruit before freezing — a salad spinner works well with whole items such as grapes, blueberries, and whole strawberries.
  • Spread fruit on a rimmed baking sheet or tray lined with parchment paper.
  • Freeze for 1-2 hours or until frozen solid.
  • Place items in a freezer grade glass or plastic container.
  • Remove as much air from the container as possible.
  • Frozen fruits can keep for about 8-12 months.

For more information on freezing specific fruits and vegetables visit the following websites:

Picatta without the Chicken

Hungry for a bit of chicken picatta, but don’t want to “ruffle the feathers” by using poultry? Seitan is a vegan protein source made from wheat gluten. Seitan is more chewy and springy than other meat alternatives, making it a wonderful substitute in dishes that call for poultry.

Vegan Chicken Picatta Picatta without the Chicken (recipe) by Patricia Sheehan perfectly balances salt and lemon flavors to create a wonderful dish for a summer evening that spares all animal products. Now that is something we can all toast.

Baked Bean Couscous Salad

Baked Bean CouscousWhen summertime rolls around and everybody is pulling out their favorite BBQ side dishes I like to reach back to one of my favorite comfort foods from college days – baked beans and couscous. Over time I’ve added a few cups of produce to the recipe to add more texture, color, and of course, flavor. Best of all, this recipe can be easily prepped and cooked in under 30 minutes.


  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup diced, green peppers
  • 1 cup chopped, red onion
  • 28 oz. can baked beans
  • ¾ cup dry couscous
  • ½ cup minced, red onion (optional for garnish)


  1. In a medium saucepan heat canola oil over medium heat.
  2. Add green peppers and chopped onion and cook approximately five minutes, stirring occasionally until they soften.
  3. Add baked beans and bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in couscous and reduce heat to low. Cover and allow couscous to cook for 7-8 minutes.
  5. Fluff with a fork and serve garnished with minced red onion.

Yield: Approximately 5 cups

Vegan Poutine

Vegan PoutineThis Quebecois specialty is sure to please the entire family. Traditional poutine is made with French fries, meat gravy, and cheese curds. This vegan version highlights the taste of buttery, Yukon gold potatoes and savory mushroom and white bean sauce.


  • 1 lb. peeled Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. yeast flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 lbs. mini portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 15 oz. can white beans
  • 2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. sweet basil
  • ½ tsp. rosemary leaves
  • Daiya cheddar style shreds (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut peeled potatoes into matchstick size pieces (approximately 5 cups).  Toss with 1 Tbsp. oil, yeast flakes, salt and pepper.  Spread on a silicone lined baking pan.
  3. Bake 10 minutes.  Turn and bake an additional 10-12 minutes.
  4. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook until soft.  Reduce heat to low.
  5. Puree white beans.  Add to cooked sliced mushrooms along with thyme, basil, and rosemary leaves.
  6. Serve mushroom sauce on top of baked Yukon gold fries.  Garnish with Daiya cheddar style shreds if desired.

Yield: 4 servings – 1 cup French fries and 3/4 cup mushroom gravy

Chocolate Velvet

A VChocolate Velvetegetarian World Tour: Canada

Recipe contributed by: Vesanto Melina, MS, RD
Food Photo by: Meredith Hink, MS, RD

This sensuous and creamy dessert comes from “The Raw Food Revolution Diet” by expert raw chef Cherie Soria and registered dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina (The Book Publishing Company, 2008). It will feed the soul of every chocolate lover and can be served as a sauce or pudding. The secret ingredient, avocado, makes it thick and rich, yet avocado cannot be detected in the flavor, so you can play a guessing game with tasters.

Chocolate Velvet

Makes 1 1/2 cups (6-8 servings)


  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened raw cocoa powder or carob powder
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water plus 1/2 cup water


  1. Combine the avocado, cocoa powder, agave syrup, evaporated cane juice, 2 tablespoons of the water, and all of the vanilla extract and cinnamon in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of water and process again until well blended. The more water you add, the thinner the sauce will be. (If you prefer to use a blender rather than a food processor, be careful not to process the mixture too long. If too much air is beaten into the sauce it will become too fluffy.)
  3. Stored in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator, Chocolate Velvet will keep for up to 1 week.


Chocolate Frosting or Filling: Use only 2 tablespoons of the water and omit the remaining 1/2 cup.

Chocolate Mousse: Use a blender instead of a food processor and use only 1/4 cup of the water to create a fluffy consistency similar to a classic mousse.

Frozen Fudge Bars: Freeze the mixture in popsicle trays.

Celebrate Spring with a Spicy Mexican Salad

Celebrate the growth of new, green shoots of life in gardens across the country.

Spicy Mexican Salad Spicy Mexican Salad by Brenda Davis, RD, and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD, is a wonderful, raw salad that features delicious sprouted lentils. If you have never sprouted lentils before, don’t worry, they don’t take a lot of work, just a willingness to try something new. The sprouts are a delicious and healthy reminder that spring is here.

Seitan and Soba Soup

Seitan and Soba SoupOn wet spring evenings when the weather is damp and chilly I love to sit down to my comfort food – a steaming hot bowl of thick noodle soup. Soba noodles add a rich flavor that blends well with seitan and vegetables. When I have a late spring cold I also like to add mustard, especially a spicy mustard, for some added heat.


  • ¾ cup sliced carrots
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • ¾ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup finely chopped seitan
  • 4 cups vegetarian broth
  • 1 cup soba noodles, broken into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons mustard (optional)


  1. Place broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Add carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add onions, seitan, and noodles and cook for an additional 6-7 minutes.
  4. Add mustard just prior to serving.
  5. If storing for later use, additional water may be needed as the soba noodles tend to absorb water.

Yield: Approximately 4 ½ cups

Seitan Stroganoff

seitan stroganoffStroganoff is one dish that can be fixed in a hundred different ways.  It can be composed of many ingredients, or just a few. This simple stroganoff recipe highlights the juicy texture of the mushrooms and seitan. It is light on sauce but still full on flavor.


  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 6 oz. dry whole grain extra wide noodles
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 14 ½ oz. vegetable broth
  • 8 oz. package of seitan
  • 1 tsp. thyme, dried


  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan until warm.
  2. Add mushrooms and chopped onions and sauté until onions are soft and semi-translucent.
  3. Add garlic.
  4. In a separate pan bring 2 quarts of water to boil. Add whole grain noodles and cook 5-6 minutes until tender.
  5. Meanwhile, add flour to saucepan to create thick sauce.
  6. Add vegetable broth.
  7. Once sauce is boiling, add seitan and thyme.
  8. Toss with cooked, whole grain extra wide noodles.

Yield: approximately 7 cups

Nutritionals (per 1 cup)

Calories: 168; Calories from Fat: 34; Total Fat: 3.6 g; Saturated Fat: 0.5 g; Trans Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Total Carbohydrates: 24 g; Dietary Fiber: 3.6 g; Sugars: 2.3 g; Sodium: 365 mg; Protein: 12 g; Vitamin A: 5.86 IU, Vitamin C: 1.93 mg; Calcium: 25 mg; Iron: 1.82 mg
*Broth nutritionals based on reconstituted Knorr® Vegetarian Vegetable Bouillon – 1 cube reconstituted.

Vegan Beet Gyro

vegan beet gyroGyros make the perfect grab and go lunch that can incorporate a lot of the harvest in a little package.  This cold variety substitutes beef with cooked, thinly sliced beets and is complimented with a tangy tomato and cucumber Tzatziki sauce.


  • 2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
  • ½ cup thinly sliced tomatoes
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion rings, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup Tofutti® Better than Sour Cream (or other vegan sour cream alternative)
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped, fresh dill
  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked, thinly sliced beets
  • 6 wheat flatbreads


  1. Combine sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, onion slices, vegan sour cream, vinegar, dill, nutritional yeast flakes, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour before use.
  2. If desired, heat wheat flatbread.
  3. Spread each flatbread with 1/3 cup beets and a heaping 1/3 cup tomato and cucumber tzatziki sauce.

Yield: Serves 6 gyros

Sweet Potato Crisp

sweet potato crispLooking for a dish to bring to your next  potluck or family get-together? This side dish is best served warm and combines sweet potatoes with pineapple, rolled oats, cinnamon, and ginger.  A vegetable slicer is highly recommended to keep the sweet potato slices thin and allow them to cook evenly.


  • Pan spray
  • 2 cups thinly sliced, peeled sweet potato (approximately 1 large sweet potato)
  • 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drain and reserve juice
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup agave or maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp. soy flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. roasted and salted sunflower seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 350◦F.
  2. Spray an 11 x 7 inch pan with pan spray.
  3. Mix sweet potato slices and crushed pineapple.  Spread in bottom of the pan.
  4. Mix the reserved pineapple juice with the remaining ingredients, except for the sunflower seeds, in a mixing bowl and spread across the top of the sweet potatoes.  Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top.
  5. Cover and bake for 40 minutes.

Tofu Stir Fry Pockets

tofu stir fry pocketsForget the chopsticks and take out box! This sweet and hot dish with crunchy lettuce and bite-size, breaded tofu is ready to go in its own pita pocket. No utensils required.


  • 1 large banana – peeled and cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 -20 oz can pineapple chunks in juice, reserve juice
  • 1 -12 oz block extra-firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb frozen broccoli stir fry mix
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, washed and sorted into leaves
  • 7 pita pocket rounds – split in half


  1. Combine banana, 2 Tbsp of soy sauce, chili powder, and ¼ cup reserved pineapple juice in a blender and blend for 30 seconds until a sauce is formed.
  2. Cut tofu into 40 one-inch cubes.
  3. Toss tofu in banana-soy sauce and then roll in panko bread crumbs.
  4. Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil in large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Fry tofu in oil, rotate to a different side every 4 minutes until sides are golden brown.
  6. While tofu is frying, heat 1 Tbsp canola oil in a second skillet over medium heat.
  7. Stir fry vegetable mix, pepper flakes, 2 Tbsp of soy sauce, pineapple chunks, and dried cranberries over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until vegetables and fruit are cooked and liquid has reduced to a glaze.
  8. Toss tofu in stir fry mix.
  9. Place 1 lettuce leaf and 1/2 cup stir fry into each pita pocket.

Serving Size

14 pita pockets with ½ cup each filling and romaine lettuce

Mashed Parsnips with Shitake Mushroom Sauce

Mashed Parsnips with Shitake Mushroom SauceHoliday cooking lends to creative presentation. This dish, utilizing white parsnip instead of potatoes, looks and tastes great as a savory and sweet, vegetable “sundae.”


  • 8 cups – parsnips, cleaned and trimmed, cut into matchsticks
  • Pan spray
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup shelled, chopped pistachios
  • 1- 12 oz. container Tofutti® Better than Sour Cream
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp sliced shallots
  • 4 cups sliced shitake mushrooms (approx 8 oz)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 6-8 fl. oz water


  1. Heat oven to 325°F.
  2. Place parsnips on baking sheet that has been coated with pan spray. Bake 35-40 minutes or until parsnips are fork tender.
  3. While the parsnips are baking, heat one teaspoon olive oil in frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Add brown sugar and chopped pistachios.
  5. Stir approximately one to two minutes until pistachios are well coated.
  6. Take off heat and set aside.
  7. Clean frying pan and add one tablespoon olive oil. Heat over medium heat.
  8. Add shallots and cook until slightly brown, approximately three to five minutes.
  9. Add shitake mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are soft, approximately three to five minutes.
  10. Add vegetable broth.
  11. Stir in cornstarch and cook until sauce thickeners.
  12. When parsnips are finished baking, combine with Tofutti® Better than Sour Cream in a food processor and blend until parsnips are mashed (note: do not blend until smooth – just well mashed).
  13. For plating, scoop ½ cup mashed parsnips into a dish or bowl and top with ¼ cup mushroom sauce. Garnish with carmelized pistachios.

Yield: 8-9 servings

Entertaining with Avocado

Fall Coleslaw and Open Face SandwichWhen it comes to dressing up your dishes this holiday season, go green (use avocados)! This fruit, also known as the butter pear and the alligator pear, is native to the New World and can be used in everything from appetizers to desserts. Its mild flavor and high fat content help to balance out highly flavored dishes. Although 82% of the avocado’s Caloric content is derived from fat, the majority of that fat is monounsaturated. The avocado is also a good source of potassium and vitamin C. A 100 gram serving provides 160 Calories, 485 mg potassium, and 10 mg vitamin C. To get you started on your holiday planning, try these recipes:

Fall Coleslaw

Yield: 2 cups coleslaw


  • 1 avocado, mashed – 1/3 cup
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp sodium free lemon pepper
  • 2 cups coleslaw mix
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds


  1. In a small bowl, combine mashed avocado, vinegar, and lemon pepper. Stir until well mixed.
  2. In a medium size bowl, place coleslaw mix. Add avocado dressing and stir to coat.
  3. Add dried cranberries. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
  4. When ready to serve, top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Open Face Sandwich


  • Cocktail pumpernickel bread
  • Extra sharp white cheddar
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Avocado, sliced thinly


  1. Place one piece of thinly sliced cheddar cheese on pumpernickel slices.
  2. Decorate with mandarin oranges and avocado slices.

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Soup

Sweet & Spicy Peanut SoupWhen the weather starts to turn cool, it’s time to “turn up the heat.” This spicy twist on a traditional soup adds a kick to an otherwise sweet soup.


  • 2 stalks celery, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced (1 cup)
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (2 ¼ -2 ½ cups)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 qt vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon (1/4 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup light, unflavored soy milk
  • Chopped, unsalted, roasted peanuts (for garnish)
  • Cilantro leaves (for garnish)


  1. Combine diced celery, green pepper, and yellow onion in a bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Gradually add celery, green pepper, and yellow onion to oil and heat until soft.
  3. Microwave sweet potatoes* until soft. Peel away skin and cut into big chunks.
  4. Add to celery, green pepper, and onion.
  5. Add sliced jalapeno pepper, vegetable broth, natural peanut butter, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and sea salt. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove bay leaves and add lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Stir to mix, then transfer soup to food processor and process soup to smooth consistency.
  7. Return to saucepan or Dutch oven. Add soymilk and stir until mixed.
  8. Garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

Yield: approximately 6 ½ – 7 cups

*Prep sweet potatoes by washing them thoroughly, cutting slits in them with a knife, and wrapping them in wet paper towel. Some microwaves have special settings for baking potatoes. If your microwave does not, set the sweet potatoes to heat on high for about 5 ½ minutes.

Share the Harvest

butternut squashOctober in the upper Midwest is usually the time for final fall harvests from the garden.  The last of the tomatoes are gathered and processed.  Herbs are cut and dried.  Apples of all varieties are picked for snacking enjoyment.  Annual trips to corn mazes are planned and taken and golden trophies are carefully chosen and carried or carted from the pumpkin patch.

I am fortunate to have grown up in and continue to live in an area that is rich in agriculture.  I can attend a farmer’s market almost any day of the week from May through October.   Although I have not always considered myself as such, I feel blessed knowing that I have a connection to the land and to its bounty, one than many Americans who live in literal “food deserts” are not able to enjoy.  Even worse, some don’t even know that they are missing this connection.

But I also have hope and a sense of responsibility to share the harvest with others.  There are many opportunities out there.  In my hometown our farmer’s market has a collection table where extra produce can be purchased and donated so that people who many not be able to afford it can enjoy fresh produce.  We have several local gardens located in inner-city neighborhoods where people of all walks of life are welcome to work and eat from the land.  Local nurseries, garden centers, master gardener groups, libraries, and technical colleges offer a variety of classes on gardening from container gardening to straw bale gardening, composting to seed saving.  Even at work, people bring in grocery bags full of fresh produce from apples to zucchini.  We share recipes on turning green tomatoes into mock raspberry jam, swap heirloom seeds, and talk about what the deer and rabbits got away with this season.  Even in October we plan ahead with the eternal optimism of micro-farmers, looking ahead to what is possible next season.

As lovers of the earth and its bounty I encourage us to “share our harvest.”  It might be a recipe for using a seasonal fruit or vegetable.  Or perhaps it is saving and sharing seeds with friends, co-workers, and neighbors.  It could even be just talking about our experiences with a garden, no matter how big or small that garden is.  Talking about the fruits of our labors is a wonderful way to spread our passion for plant based living.

Crunch into Crispy Collard Chips

Tired of snacking on potato chips? Need something to munch on during the day without adding a lot of Calories to your diet? Try Crispy Collard Green Chips by Megann Harris, RD, LD! This crunchy recipe is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C. A dehydrator is recommended to help completely dry these super-thin chips to just the right crispness. Store in an airtight container when done to help chips stay crunchy and enjoy!

Crispy Collard Green Chips
by Megann Harris, RD, LD

Pina Colada Grilled Dessert

Pina Colada Grilled DessertPineapple has been a symbol of welcome in many cultures for centuries. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. So fire up your grills and welcome spring with this tasty dessert. Please note temperature may vary depending on the type of grill used.


  • 6 slices fresh pineapple, ½” thick
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup agave syrup
  • 2 Tbsp lime zest
  • ¼ cup sweetened, flaked coconut


  1. Preheat grill to 425°F.*
  2. In a small bowl, combine lime juice and agave syrup.
  3. In a second bowl, combine lime zest and flaked coconut.
  4. Baste pineapple slices with lime juice and agave syrup mixture using a basting brush. Place pineapple slices basted side down directly on grill. Cover and grill for five minutes.
  5. Baste pineapple slices with lime syrup mixture and carefully flip. Cover and grill for another five minutes.
  6. Baste slices a final time and flip. Top slices with lime zest and coconut mixture.
  7. Cover and grill for five minutes or until the coconut has toasted. Serve warm.

Yield: 6 slices

*Please note: grill temperature was based on a gas grill.

Be Like the Squirrels and Go Nuts!

NutsLet’s take a lesson from the squirrels and save some room for nuts in your diet. Nuts are considered a healthy addition to the diet in moderation. According to, a recommended serving for nuts is a one-ounce serving, which is equivalent to 23 almonds, 13 cashews, or 9 walnut halves. Although many nut lovers tend to favor a few particular kinds of nuts, eating a variety of nuts can help to maximize the benefits that this group can provide.

  • Soy nuts, which are a legume, contain 11 grams of protein, 1.12 mg (6% DV) of iron, 387 mg (11% DV) of potassium, and 2.3 grams (9% DV) of fiber per ounce.
  • Peanuts, which are also a legume, contain 1.30 mg (7% DV) of iron, 2.4 grams (10% DV) of fiber, and 3.4 mg (17% DV) of niacin per ounce.
  • Almonds contain 1.05 mg (6% DV) of iron, 3.5 grams (14% DV) of fiber, and 200 mg (6% DV) of potassium per ounce.
  • Cashews contain 1.89 mg (11% DV) of iron, 187 mg (5% DV) of potassium, and 1.64 mg (11% DV) of zinc.
  • Walnuts are well known for their omega-3 fatty acid content.

These are just a few nutritional highlights that this flavorful group provides. In addition, because of their higher fat content, nuts can help with satiety and are an easy to carry snack. To keep sodium intake down, skip the salted nuts and instead opt for dry roasted nuts or purchase raw nuts and toast them yourself in a skillet over medium heat.

So, when you are looking for a healthy, portable snack this holiday season, remember the squirrels and grab a small handful of nuts.

Smoky Tempeh Scramble Burritos

Yield: 10 – ½ cup servings
Preparation time: 30-40 minutes

Smoky Tempeh Scramble Burritos

Chipotle peppers are a wonderful way to add a smoky, spicy flavor to any dish.  This scramble is rich in flavor and texture and will be sure to be a crowd pleaser.  The addition of the chipotle peppers can be adjusted up or down depending on your spice tolerance.


  • 1 cup diced green peppers
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 8 oz pkg tempeh, diced
  • 1/3 cup chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, diced
  • 2 cups frozen hash browns
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 pkg. 8 inch whole wheat tortillas
  • Fat free sour cream or vegan sour cream substitute


  1. Prepare and combine diced peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, tempeh, and chipotle peppers.
  2. Heat canola oil in 12 inch skillet over medium heat.  Layer hash browns on bottom, then tempeh mixture on top.  Add salt and pepper to preference.  Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until hash browns are brown and crispy.  Then, using a spatula, flip over the hash brown and tempeh mixture.  Cook an additional 8-10 minutes until all vegetables are thoroughly cooked through.  Add juice of 1 lime within last few minutes of cooking.
  3. Portion ½ cup into wheat tortilla and serve with sour cream substitute.

Nutritionals (per ½ cup of tempeh scramble, tortilla and sour cream not included)

Calories: 113; Fat: 3.4 g; Saturated Fat: 0.5g; Trans Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 117 mg; Carbohydrate: 15g; Fiber: 4.6 g; Sugar: 2.5g; Protein: 6g; Vitamin A: 508 IU; Vitamin C: 20.5mg; Iron: 1.5 mg; Calcium:42 mg

Guacsoymole Garden Spread

Guac-oy-mole Garden SpreadThis delightful avocado and tofu spread is light and refreshing – perfect on tea sandwiches, cucumber slices, or even with chips. Fresh dill helps to provide a fresh flavor to this dish.


  • 12 oz. extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped dill1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried sweet basil
  • ½ tsp dried thyme leaf
  • Optional: crackers, cucumber slices, or small slices of sandwich breads


  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend for a few minutes until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate at least one hour prior to serving.
  3. Serve as a dip or a spread or fill a piping bag and pipe onto crackers, slices of cucumber, or open face sandwiches.

Yield: approximately 2 ½ – 2 ¾ cups

Cranapple Fruit Soup

Cranapple Fruit SoupTired of the same old winter soup? Missing fruit this winter season? Try fruit soup.

Fruit soup, which is attributed to Scandinavian, Baltic, and Eastern European cultures, is mainly composed of fruit juice and dried fruit with the addition of spices and sometimes tapioca. It can be served warm or cold and takes less than an hour to prepare. Here is one variation on an old favorite.


  • 3 cups white cranberry juice
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup tapioca pearls
  • ½ cup dried apples, cut into pieces
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  1. Place cranberry juice, water, and tapioca pearls in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until tapioca pearls are translucent.
  2. Add dried apples, dried cranberries, and cinnamon stick and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove cinnamon stick (if desired, leave in for a stronger cinnamon flavor).
  4. Serve warm.

Boost Your Fall Palate with Colorful Dishes

Bring some color to your table with two savory dishes from Frances Arnold and Gita Patel.

Carrots, Cabbage, Chard and Cumin Extravaganza Carrots, Cabbage, Chard and Cumin Extravaganza by Frances Arnold, RD combines vibrant carrots, Swiss Chard, and purple cabbage to create a true extravaganza of colors and flavors.
Stir Fried Savoy Cabbage Salad Stir Fried Savoy Cabbage Salad by Gita Patel, MS, RD, CDE, LD combines Savoy cabbage and red peppers with cumin and red chili peppers to help provide a warm, colorful dish perfect for any cool autumn night.

Don’t disappoint your palate – excite your taste buds with these colorful and flavorful plates.

Tea and Lemon Grass Stir Fry

Tea and Lemon Grass Stir FryTea can be used for more than drinking. It makes a great flavoring agent for stir fry dishes. This savory dish also highlights several late summer vegetables.  So get out the tea bags and “brew” up this dish.


  • 2 cups boiling hot water
  • 6 tea bags (green or chamomile)
  • 2 cups (4 oz.) sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup finely diced red onions
  • 1 cup diced red bell peppers
  • 1 cup diced green bell peppers
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 8 oz. seitan strips
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon grass (or 0.75 oz. package of stalks)
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Step tea bags in boiling hot water for 3-5 minutes (or according to package directions).
  2. Heat oil in a medium size frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add mushroom strips, peppers, and seitan.  Heat for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add tea and lemon grass and heat for 5 minutes or until tea mixture starts to boil.
  6. Add rice, cover, and reduce heat for 20 minutes.
  7. If lemon grass stalks used, remove prior

Beat the Heat with a Frozen Fruit Treat

Frozen Fruit TreatFrozen fruit such as grapes, blueberries, and strawberries make a delicious and nutritious treat during the warm, summer months. They are an excellent replacement to sugary popsicles and the flavor is all natural! Preparation is the key to properly freezing foods. When preparing most whole frozen fruits, use the following techniques.

  • Only freeze fruits that are at their peak of flavor — if you don’t grow it yourself then purchase the fruit when it is in season.
  • Do not try to freeze too much at one time! An average home freezer can only adequately freeze 2-3 cubic feet of food at one time.
  • Wash and thoroughly dry all fruit before freezing — a salad spinner works well with whole items such as grapes, blueberries, and whole strawberries.
  • Spread fruit on a rimmed baking sheet or tray lined with parchment paper.
  • Freeze for 1-2 hours or until frozen solid.
  • Place items in a freezer grade glass or plastic container.
  • Remove as much air from the container as possible.
  • Frozen fruits can keep for about 8-12 months.

For more information on freezing specific fruits and vegetables try the following websites:


Triple Your Fruit, Triple Your Benefits

Triple BerryCelebrate berries and indulge in the fruits of the season. This triple berry recipe is a family favorite from my mother in law and is packed full of vitamin C, potassium, phytochemicals, and of course, flavor! So this summer, triple your benefits by combining the fruits of this season.


  • 1- 32 oz (2 lb) pkg strawberry – cut in quarters or in sixths (if large)
  • 1- 12 oz pkg blueberry -fresh or frozen
  • 1- 12 oz. pkg blackberry
  • 1- 0.14 oz pkg Splenda®


  • Wash strawberries. Remove the hull and cut into quarters or in six pieces if the berry is large.
  • Mix strawberries with blueberries, blackberries, and Splenda® or sweetener of your choice.
  • Enjoy.

Yield: 10 ½ cups or 21 – ½ cup portions

Strawberry Kiwi Salad with Balsamic Dressing

strawberry_kiwi_saladBite into flavor with this sweet, fruity salad topped with tangy, balsamic dressing and crunchy almond slivers.  Hint: to get thin slices of strawberries, try using an egg slicer.


  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Go VeggieTM cream cheese alternative
  • 4 cups mesclun spring mix salad
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1 cup sliced almonds


  1. Combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes or until mixture is reduced to half.  Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese alternative to form a creamy sauce.
  2. Prepare four salad bowls.  Place 1 cup spring mix in each bowl.  Top with ½ cup sliced strawberries, kiwi slices, and ¼ cup fresh peas.
  3. Drizzle balsamic dressing over salad.  Top with ¼ cup sliced almonds.

Yield: 4 servings


SorbetLooking for a fun and refreshing way to cool down your menu? Why not try a sorbet! Sorbets are fun and easy to make. Unlike ice cream, sorbets do not require a special piece of equipment, just a good blender or food processor. Sorbets can be made using one type of fruit or several types of fruit

A recommended combination is 8 oz of frozen fruit to 1 cup of juice. Just blend and freeze until mixture is firm. This makes about 2 cups of sorbet so invite a few friends over to try your latest concoction. Featured in the photo are kiwi limeade, strawberry guava, and peach mango sorbets.

Liquid Gold Dressing

Recently the VN Food Feature articles went globe-trekking, visiting our international members to ask them for their favorite recipes.

One visit is to a member in Canada. This dressing is from dietitian Vesanto Melina and the nutrition classics she has co-authored with Brenda Davis, “The New Becoming Vegetarian” and “Becoming Vegan” and also from “Raising Vegetarian Children”. It is delicious on baked potatoes, rice, steamed vegetables, and pasta, as well as salad. Two tablespoons provides your days’ supply of omega-3 fatty acids, along with 80 percent of your vitamin B12. For a thicker dressing, use more ground flaxseed; for a thinner dressing use less. The dressing thickens over time. ».


  • 1/2 cup flaxseed oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast powder or flakes
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp or more ground flaxseed (optional)

Makes 1-1/2 cups – 2 cups

Recipe contributed by: Vesanto Melina, MS, RD
Food Photo by: Meredith Hink, MS, RD

Hints on Herbs

HerbsTired of boring, tasteless meals? Pining for fresh summer flavors?  Try herbs!

Whether fresh or dried, herbs are a wonderful and healthy way to add flavor to many dishes. The following are some tips to make the most of your herbs.

  • Keep it fresh. Throw out old herb and herb seasoning blends.  Spice Advice recommends these tips for an annual freshness check:

1. Open and visually check if the spice or herb looks fresh. Green, leafy herbs will fade upon aging. Be aware; however, that different herbs naturally vary in color  and should not always be compared against each other.

For example, tarragon is naturally greener in color than rosemary. Additionally, some dill products contain the flower portion, giving them a more yellow color than those without the flowers.  Red colored spices, such as paprika, red pepper and chili powder will turn from red to brown in color.

2.  Crush a small amount of the spice or herb in your hand and smell it. If the aroma is not rich, full and immediate, the spice or herb has probably lost much of its potency. (Exception: Whole spices, such as peppercorns and cinnamon stick, have a protective outer coating and will not release its full fragrance until broken or crushed.)

3.  Compare the aroma (Be aware, however, that subtle changes may also occur with each new crop.) of a freshly purchased spice or herb to that which you’ve stored for a year or more to see the difference.

  • Store it well. Herbs, whether home dried or store bought, should be kept in cool, dry places away from sunlight and in containers with tight-fitting lids. Some fresh herbs such as chives, cilantro, dill, mint, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme should be stored at 32°F; while other herbs such as basil are cold sensitive and should be stored at 50°F. For more information on herb storage visit Spice Advice.
  • Cook it, Don’t Kill It. To get the most flavor out of your herbs, add them at the end of cooking rather than at the beginning. If multiplying a recipe for a party, multiply your herbal additions as follows. If increasing the recipe by 100%, increase the amount of herbs by 100%. After the first 100%, only increase the herbs by 50% as much as the original amount.

For more tips on cooking with herbs and a history of herbs check out Spice Advice.

Food Art for your Palate

We are often told that we “eat with our eyes.” Some recipes are enticing just looking at them. This was certainly the case with Zucchini Crepes by Amanda Scanlan and Black Bean Saute with Jicama/Avocado Salad and Mango Coulis by Shannon Doran, RD. Both recipes contain at least two separate components that, when combined, work together to make these dishes appealing.

black bean saute Black Bean Saute with Jicama/Avocado Salad and Mango Coulis by Shannon Doran, RD includes three separate components that can be featured separate, but must be combined when eating to fully enjoy the flavor of this dish.

zucchini crepes

Zucchini Crepes by Amanda Scanlan involve the preparation of crepes, a thin French pancake, as well as a creamy filling. The filling can also be used as a garnish (see picture).

Both recipes are also a great way to try your artistic skills at food styling and wow your family and friends.  So grab your aprons and start cooking!

End of Winter Roasted Vegetables

roasted winter vegetablesThe end of winter brings the chance to empty the fridge of root vegetables and combine them with the up and coming produce for the season. Roasting locks in the flavor of the vegetables. When preparing vegetables to roast, cut them into the same size to ensure even roasting.


  • 1 – 1 lb. turnip, peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces (approx. 3 cups)
  • 1 – ½ lb. parsnip, peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1 – 1 lb. large sweet potato, peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces (approx. 3 cups)
  • 1 dozen asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces (approx. 2 cups)
  • 15 oz. can no salt added garbanzo beans
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. dried lemon peel
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley


  • 13x9x2 inch roasting pan
  • Parchment paper


  1. Heat oven to 450°F.
  2. Line roasting pan with parchment paper.
  3. Mix together ¼ cup maple syrup, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 Tbsp. dried lemon peel, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 tsp. black pepper.
  4. Toss diced turnips, parsnips, and sweet potato pieces with maple syrup and oil mixture.
  5. Bake in parchment lined pan for 30 minutes.
  6. Mix together 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice, 1/8 cup of olive oil, 2 tsp. dried parsley, and 1 tsp. black pepper.  Toss with asparagus pieces and garbanzo beans.
  7. Add asparagus and garbanzo beans to roasted root vegetables.  Bake an additional ten minutes.

Fruity Rice

Fruity RiceRice is a staple for breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the world. This simple, easy to prepare dish is a flavorful way to get your day started and allows for many different variations. Garnish with yogurt and a dash of cinnamon (as pictured) or other fun toppings such as wheat germ, nuts, dried fruit, and/or spices for extra flavor.

1 cup dry, short-grain rice
2 ¼ cups prepared fruit juice (flavor of choice)


Place 2 ¼ cups of fruit juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
Stir in 1 cup of short-grain rice, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Turn off heat and cover tightly for 10 minutes.

Yield: approx. 3 cups of fruity rice

It’s a fruit…it’s a vegetable…it’s a fungus!


Although people don’t often associate the word “fungus” with gourmet cooking, mushrooms can make a wonderful, tasty, and healthy contribution to one’s daily diet. Mushrooms range in size and flavor from the delicate enoki to the robust, meaty portabella. They can be delightful add-ins to soups, salads, or stews; or stand alone entrees such as portabella burgers. In addition to flavor, mushrooms are low Calorie (15-44 Calories/cup) and nutrient rich. Mushrooms can be a good source of potassium, copper, selenium, and B vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. In addition, mushrooms are a rare plant source of vitamin D. Interestingly, the vitamin D content may further increase if the mushrooms are exposed to ultraviolet light prior to harvest. For more information mushrooms check out the Mushrooms: Taste of the Earth on the Food and Nutrition Blog.

Incredible, Edible Garlic

GarlicIt may be one of the most pungent flavors in the culinary world, but garlic plays a major flavoring role in many cuisines around the world from Asia, to Africa, to the Middle East, to Europe, and the Americas. Garlic is a member of the family Alliaceae along with onions, chives, and leeks. It has been in use for well over 4000 years.

The garlic plant consists of five major parts: the roots, the bulb which is comprised of multiple sections called cloves, the leaves, stems called scapes, and small bulbs that form on the tops of the scapes called bulbils. Although most people commonly consume the cloves, the scapes and bulbils are also edible. Garlic that has not yet formed bulbs called green garlic can also be harvested and consumed. There are two main types of garlic, hardneck and softneck. Hardneck garlic has a milder flavor and can withstand hardier weather conditions than softnecks.

Garlic has been used as a medicinal herb for many years and has received some attention in the past as a possible functional food for lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, although much research still needs to be done to prove this. Garlic pairs with many foods including beans, eggplant, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini. So next time you are looking to add a little zing to a dish, consider the pungent, yet incredible, edible garlic.

Buckwheat Molasses Cookies

Buckwheat Molasses CookiesSmells of sugar and spice and everything nice wafting from the oven brings children of all ages to the kitchen.  Make baking even more flavorful by substituting some of the all-purpose flour in your recipes with other flours. This recipe calls for the use of buckwheat flour. Buckwheat is a gluten-free, pseudo cereal which adds a rich and bold flavor to any recipe. Because it does not contain gluten, only part of the flour could be substituted in this recipe.


  • 3/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 3/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/8 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream margarine and 1 cup of granulated sugar in a medium bowl.
  3. Using a blender, blend the flaxseed and water together. Stir into creamed mixture.
  4. Add molasses, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to creamed mixture.
  5. In a small bowl, combine all-purpose and buckwheat flours. Stir slowly into the creamed mixture.
  6. In a small bowl or plate spread out the 1/8 cup granulated sugar. Using a spoon, scoop golf ball-size balls of cookie dough onto the bowl or plate, and roll in the sugar.
  7. Place balls of sugar-coated cookie dough on ungreased cookie sheets, do not flatten.
  8. Bake 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool at least 2 minutes on sheet pan until firm. Remove and continue to cool on a cooling rack.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies