No-joke Salad Dressing

Dijon Date Dressing

Happy April Fool’s Day! My day has been filled with little pranks being played out by my kids on me. One of my daughters had a friend sleepover. And when she woke up, she came down to the kitchen with a sad face. She looked up at me and said, “Mom, one of my guinea pigs passed away.” My mind began to race with all the things to say, “I’m so sorry!” I began. Then I remembered she had a friend sleep over, and how terrible for this to happen with a friend over too!  She quickly said, “April fools!” with a big smile and laughed, “Got ya! That wasn’t easy for me to say, but I knew it would be a good one.”

“Oh! Thank goodness.” I said laughing with a sigh of relief.

Now I was on the look-out. But, still taken a few more times by some very clever pranks. One was a mug turned upside-down near the clean dish rack. As I was cleaning the kitchen, I went to turn the mug right-side up. Gurgle! Splash! Water went all over the counter and ran down the side of the cabinet, onto my feet. “What was that?” I exclaimed.

“Ha,ha! Got you, Mom. I was waiting all day for you to do that.” A voice across the room said, and another one of my children claimed the prank. Somehow she was able to fill the mug with water, and placed it upside-down.

“Wow..I was not expecting that!” I said, as we wiped the counter together, laughing.

My day has been filled with these small and fun pranks, but the recipe below is real. It is one of the dressings recommended for the Women’s Health Study by Dr. Fuhrman. It has no oil in it on purpose, although you might think I was ‘fooling’ you by omitting it, haha! This dressing is delicious, has healthful ingredients, and you can find more like it on

So enjoy it on your next big green salad or with raw vegetables…no-joke!


Serves 4

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup raw cashew butter or 2/3 cup raw cashews (I have used almonds…or can omit to be nut-free)
  • 4 tablespoons Dr. Fuhrman’s Riesling Raisin Vinegar or balsamic vinegar (I have used apple cider vinegar and other vinegars when I’m out of the Balsamic )
  • 2 tablespoons Dr. Fuhrman’s VegiZest or other no-salt seasoning (I use garlic powder and dried parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4-6 dates, pitted
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender until smooth and creamy.



Chickpea Curry in a Hurry

16298833_1834994070077202_4016909085143164727_nHave you noticed how, when you try new recipes, there are some that never make it back to the table. And how, there are some that fit right into your life, your taste, and make it back week after week. That’s Chickpea Curry in a Hurry for me. The ingredients are simple and not time consuming. It’s so healthy, I just love every minute of preparing it. The greens are versatile too. If you don’t have spinach on hand, any dark green leafy vegetable will do. I discovered this from a meal plan suggested for the Nutritarian Women’s Study, Dr. Fuhrman’s 10 in 20 Detox recipe plan.

Since joining the Nutritarian Women’s Study, ( I found the biggest change I’ve experienced is in my mindset. I was so accustomed to thinking, “Don’t eat too much…have to watch the cholesterol in this dish.” Or, “I have to portion control if I want to lose weight.” Well, all that goes out the door with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner I make that is nutrient-rich and healthfully planned. How amazing is that!?! I can eat to my heart’s desire (within reason of course) and lose weight. I can eat until I am full, and know that my body is being nourished. It’s mind-boggling…and fantastic all at once! To learn the science behind this, Dr. Fuhrman’s books explain it well. His books can be found at most booksellers and at his website,

If you are short on time and would like to try something new, I highly suggest this recipe. And let me know, how many times does it make it back to your table?


Serves: 2

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15 ounce) can low-sodium chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
  • 1 – 10 ounce box or bag frozen chopped spinach ( I use fresh spinach or kale, but any dark green vegetable is great)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, farro, or other intact whole grain. Another option is to use fresh zucchini noodles – sliced zucchini in the shape of noodles, blanched.

Combine all ingredients except spinach in a large saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes, then add spinach. Cover and continue cooking until spinach is thawed and curry is warm, about 5 more minutes. Serve over quinoa, farro, or other intact whole grain, or zucchini noodles.



Superbowl, Super-Charged!


‘Better Burger’ photo: courtesy of

Neither teams, from my home state nor the state I currently live in, are in the Superbowl this year. But, I will watch because I love Superbowl! Watching the matchup between the two teams, the half-time show, and even the goofy (and sometimes very strange) advertisements are a part of this day of tradition for my family.

The traditional foods will be served: hamburgers, chili, macaroni salad, chips and dips, and football decorated cakes. However, this year, new dishes will be added. I’m excited for them because I made a commitment to an awesome study being done for women. This study makes me feel super-charged! Super-charged about nutrient-dense, plant-rich meals. While this particular study is for women, Dr. Fuhrman’s recipes and books ( are fantastic resources to understand how dietary changes improve health and wellness for everyone.

The ‘Nutritarian Women’s Health Study’ ( is based on Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian diet and will study the effects of long term plant-strong diet on health. It will also study the dietary effects on disease, such as breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It emphasizes eating foods like cooked and uncooked vegetables, beans and legumes, seeds and fruit, with the option of having 10% meat or meat-flavored ingredients. The acronym Dr. Fuhrman uses is GBOMBS…Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds for the main ingredients in the daily meals. The study is looking for 10,000 women to participate, who are committed to working toward eating nutrient-rich and healthfully.

Now that I made this commitment, what will I be eating for Superbowl? Below is a super-charged burger recipe from Dr. Fuhrman’s ‘Super Immunity’ book. If you would like to check out the study, you can go to It’s a great way to get healthy and help others…a win-win for all!

Are you ready to be super-charged?

Better Burgers


  • 1 1/2  cups old-fashioned rolled oats(not quick or instant)
  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup no-salt added or low sodium tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup Dr. Fuhrman’s MatoZest or other no-salt seasoning mix containing dried tomatoes, adjusted to taste
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups finely minced mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2/3 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan, whisk together water, tomato paste, and MatoZest. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Shut off heat or flame and add rolled oats and ground walnuts. Stir well and set aside.

Water-sauté onion and garlic in a pan until onion is translucent. Then add mushrooms and additional water if needed. Cover and cook for 5 minutes more, or until mushrooms are tender.

In a large bowl, combine sautéed onions and mushrooms, oat/walnut mixture into 16 well-formed burgers and bake for 15 minutes on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Turn burgers to bake the other side for another 15 minutes. Serve on small whole-grain hamburger buns or whole-grain pita bread halves. Top with thinly sliced raw red onion and no-salt added or low-sodium ketchup [or see Dr. Fuhrman’s ketchup recipe below] and shredded lettuce.

Nonvegan option: 8 ounces chopped white turkey meat can be added to the bowl and mixed in well before patties are formed, for a unique flavor.

Home-Style Ketchup

  • 5 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans no-salt-added or low-sodium tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Blend water and dates in blender until very smooth. Pour into saucepan with other ingredients; whisk together on medium-low heat until bubbly. Chill before serving.





Country Leek Soup

img_2751Leeks are in the onion family and are an allium vegetable. They have flavonoids which make them a healthy choice when deciding what to cook. Besides their health value, they are mild in flavor too.

I’m often asked by breast-feeding (bf) moms if onions are ok to eat. Generally, whatever was eaten in pregnancy, can be eaten when breast-feeding. The flavors of our foods in pregnancy go to the baby in utero. Therefore, the baby already has been exposed to the flavors of our diet. Many cultures have their own unique foods, and so your baby will have the foods of your culture.  This means whether your foods are spicy, salty, sweet, or bitter, your baby will be accustomed to it.

With leeks being in the onion family, they are a great mild and healthy source of nutrition. The soup below was my go-to when my days were hectic and I needed a healthy meal as a lactating mama.  However, a tricky part to preparing leeks is knowing how to clean them. Slice the top dark green, and the bottom roots off. Then make a slice horizontally from top to bottom. Open each section and rinse thoroughly, especially opposite the open slit. Once you master that, you are on your way to making a flavonoid-rich meal which will keep your energy up for those sweet nursing times.

Do you have a favorite leek dish?

Country Leek Soup



  • (12) cups water
  • (8) vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes
  • (6) medium – large Russett or red potatoes, diced
  • (2) celery, may include the leaves, chopped
  • (2) large carrots, chopped
  • (1) large leek, cleaned thoroughly, sliced horizontally and include white and light green parts only. Discard dark green parts.
  •  1/8 cup cleaned, chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper – to taste
  • Soy, or almond milk – to taste (optional)


  • In large soup pot, bring water to boil
  • Add bouillon cubes
  • Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes
  • When potatoes  and vegetables are tender, blend with a hand blender until creamy
  • Add non-dairy milk (optional)

A fun option is to drink the soup in a mug, a travel mug, or a thermos. Keeping it on a side table next to your bf space will make it an easy snack, too. Enjoy!

Critique and a Fall Hot Chocolate

img_2610One of my favorite parts of belonging to a critique group is watching how an idea forms at the beginning of a story with a full circle of that idea at the end of the story…in other words, watching the story arc unfold. I’m so excited to read, The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase by Wendy Mass ( I loved the first book, The Candymakers and enjoyed being part of the beginning critique sessions for the second book. The characters Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip are off on a new adventure. The unfolding of this adventure is exciting!

Speaking of a new adventure, I was also inspired by this book to whip up something chocolaty. Chocolate and orange are fun to mix together, so I decided to mix them in a hot chocolate drink. Below is a recipe for homemade hot chocolate with an orange twist.

As your child reads the story about the Candymaker kids, and the twists and turns they encounter, enjoy the recipe below. This book is also a great reading accompaniment to Halloween candy. Wendy Mass tells her readers on the dedication page to, “Read with candy!” I know I was. Have a Happy Halloween!

Do you have a favorite part of your critique sessions?

Hot Orange-Chocolate Cocoa

Serves 2


  • 2 1/2 cups milk (almond or soy milk can be used)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened chocolate mix. (Can use Carob powder for a caffeine-free substitute)
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp orange peel (grated)
  • one candied (or glazed) orange peel
  • whipped cream of choice (optional)


  • Heat milk to a near boil in a saucepan. Be careful not to bring to a boil as it can alter milk taste.
  • Add chocolate mix, sugar, and orange peel. Stir until all ingredients are dissolved.
  • Pour into two 8 – 10 ounce mugs. A larger mug is better for stirring – and more whipped cream!
  • Top with whipped cream.
  • Place one candied orange peel on top of whipped cream.


First Days of School Comfort Food

My grandmother(Ma) and me when I was 10 yrs. old.

My grandmother(Ma) and me when I was 10 yrs. of age.

Happy first day of school!  When my kids come home and smell sauce cooking on the stove, they are excited for spaghetti. When I was little, I loved the smell of sauce cooking, too. One day after school,  my mom asked if I wanted to help make spaghetti sauce. I was eager to start! I asked Mom if she learned from her mother. To my surprise, she said no. She learned from my father’s mother. My paternal grandmother, Ma, had taught her when she and my dad were first married.

My parents met in France in the town of Chaumont, while my dad was serving in the U.S. Airforce. They dated for three years and were married in a beautiful Cathedral in the town of Troyes. After the wedding, they moved to the United States and lived close to my father’s family. My dad’s parents warmly accepted my mom as their daughter-in-law and his two sisters lovingly accepted her as their sister-in-law. My mom only knew a few food names in English such as steak and eggs (and ate alot of that because they were the only words she knew!) And so, Ma helped to teach my mom English as well as how to cook.

Ma, nicknamed by my oldest sister when she was a baby, was an amazing person. She always saw the bright side of life. She used to play the accordion and the piano without ever taking a lesson or learning to read a note.  Ma was often in the kitchen cooking and the house would smell great. One morning when I was little and spent the night at her home, I woke up to the  smell of something delicious. I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen to find out what it was. Ma was browning a ground beef and sausage mixture. I asked Ma why she was making this so early in the morning and she said, “I make half the meat for the dogs and the other half for our sauce. The dogs love it!”  I hadn’t noticed all three of the dogs sitting by the table, waiting patiently. “What lucky dogs to have this for breakfast!” I replied. I loved Ma’s sauce so much, she let me have it for breakfast. I had had breakfast for dinner, but not dinner for breakfast. I will always remember how fun it was to eat spaghetti with sauce early in the morning!

Now, I make sauce every first day of school . . . for dinner. It is a comfort food. It is comforting for me because I tear up from missing the kids as well as from thinking about Ma, and it is comforting for the kids to come home to a familiar meal. At dinner time, the first day excitement is felt as we pass garlic bread and talk about the happenings of each child’s day. Spaghetti with sauce, garlic bread, and a special dessert; the perfect way to end a first day and to start a new year.

Serves 8


  • 1 lb (500g) ground beef – May substitute 1/2 – 1 can red kidney beans for a Vegetarian meal.
  • 1/4 lb (125g) hot Italian sausage (bulk or cut off skin of sausage to mash into ground beef) Omit as Vegetarian option.
  • 1 link hot Italian sausage – sliced (Omit if Vegetarian)
  • (4) Tbs Extra Virgin olive oil
  • (1/2) large bulb garlic – finely chopped
  • (1) Tbs Italian seasoning
  • (1/2) Tbs dried basil
  • (1/2) Tbs dried oregano
  • (2) Tbs dried parsely
  • (1) 28 oz (793g) crushed tomatoes
  • (1) 15 oz(425g) tomato sauce
  • (1) 12 oz(340g) tomato paste – keep empty can to add 1 1/2 to 2 cans of water
  • Salt/white pepper – to taste


  • In large, heavy-bottom  pan, heat olive oil on low and add garlic. Stir until golden yellow.
  • Add meats and stir until browned thoroughly (Omit meat and add beans if Vegetarian option)
  • Add seasonings and stir
  • Add crushed tomatoes, sauce, and paste and stir
  • Add water
  • Stir well and keep on low heat, stirring regularly.
  • Simmer for one hour.

Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy!

4th of July Pudding in a Cloud

IMG_1144Happy 4th of July! I took a trip to visit my childhood friend from when I lived in Africa. She lives in Texas and I was thrilled to take a long weekend to stay with her and catch up with our lives. On my flight there, I took pictures of the different cloud coverage while en route. The beauty of the changing clouds was surreal and it was so cool to see the vast, beautiful sky.

While taking pictures of the clouds, I was thinking of Michele and I’s time together when we were little and living in Africa. She and I had so much fun attending school, going on mini trips with our parents to places like a malachite mine, swimming in lakes and rivers while camping, and hiking on the Lufimi River in the Congo.

One of my favorite desserts to make when Michele would come over was Pudding in the Cloud. The ease of making instant pudding mixed with my favorite topping, whipped cream, made it an all-time favorite. And it’s a dessert I still love to make, and my kids really enjoy.

Whether you are celebrating today with childhood friends, family, or co-workers, this dessert is great for everyone. Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

Pudding in a Cloud


  • 2-4 Large Packages of instant chocolate pudding (may use any flavor pudding and amount will depend on the size of your bowl)
  • 1 can whipped cream (may use any variety of your favorite whipped cream)
  • Red and Blue M&M’s or any favorite sprinkles (amount varies)


  • Decide whether you will use one bowl such as in picture above, or individual cups or bowls.
  • Make pudding according to package directions.
  • Scoop pudding and place a small layer on bottom of bowl.
  • Add a small layer of whipped cream onto the top of the pudding.
  • Scoop another layer of pudding onto the whipped cream.
  • Add another layer of pudding onto the whipped cream layer.
  • Continue to layer until a whipped cream is the top layer of the bowl or individual cup.
  • Sprinkle Red and Blue M&M’s (or any favorite sprinkles) on the top layer of the last whipped cream.
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.