“Refried” Anasazi Beans

anasazi beansAt most Mexican restaurants outside California and major cities, the beans contain lard. When they don’t, the go-to alternative is hydrogenated vegetable oil aka Crisco.

I find this frustrating, though I do understand the logic behind it. Crisco adds calories, which prevents starvation and wasting. In parts of Mexico and Latin America, certain populations/communities are in danger of this, or at least want to prevent it. Over the course of the last 50 years, the standard “Mexican restaurant” fare in the United States reflects this. Therefore, despite the fact that refried beans do not require fat (neither vegetable nor animal) to taste delicious and provide nutrients, the tradition of using it to cook beans, rice, meats, etc. has prevailed.

I look at this issue the same way I see soup preparation in Ecuador. No, there is no need to add a bottle of vegetable oil to the soup served to school children. An overload of empty calories from an industrially-manufactured bottle of pure processed fat won’t help their nutritional intake, and will do little more than taint an otherwise healthful vegetable soup.

In any case, here is my recipe for “refried” anasazi beans.

* The Anasazi (“Ancient Ones”), thought to be ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians, inhabited the territory of southern Utah, southwestern Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, and northern Arizona now known as the Four Corners, from A.D. 200 to A.D. 1300.

Refried Anasazi Beans


1 cup dry anasazi beans
1 fresh tomato
1/2 medium onion
1 dried chili de arbol
salt to taste


Soak anasazi beans overnight in enough water to cover them x2 or a 1 : 2 ratio of beans : water.

Add 1/2 tsp salt to the water and simmer beans in a pot or use a slow-cooker.

When beans are ready, turn off heat but keep the pot covered.

Dice the tomato and onion.

In a skillet, saute tomato and onion without oil. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, scrape the tomato and onion from the bottom of the skillet as they carmelize (about 4 minutes).

In a blender, add 1 the beans and the sauteed onion+tomato. No need to strain the beans beforehand; a bit of water/bean juice is good. *Tip: use a ladle to transfer from the pot to the blender, and tilt to remove excess liquid. Remove the chili before blending for mild beans; leave in for extraordinarily spicy beans. I leave in the pepper, fyi.

I tried this method several times, and each time the consistency turned out a perfect, yet much healthier replica of the “restaurant-style” variety.

Blend until smooth.

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Brussels Sprout Bisque

I recently watched a tutorial in which Gordon Ramsay demonstrates how to make broccoli soup. Unlike many other soup or bisque recipes, this one did not involve “15, 20 ingredients…chicken stock…shallots sweating down for 20 minutes [or] half a liter of white wine”, but rather “it’s just got broccoli and water”.

Sure enough, most of the broccoli bisque or blended brussels sprout soup recipes do call for chicken stock, white wine, butter, potatoes, onions, bay leaf, half and half and/or flour. So basically, to make broccoli bisque or blended brussels sprout soup the assumption is that one must create a roux and spend hours in the kitchen. No no no this is so illogical it hurts. And Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef mastermind whose recipes are not typically hashtagged vegan, frugal, or basic seems to agree. As stated in the video, “The most important thing now, is keeping that water. That’s where all the goodness is. It’s got all the flavor of the broccoli in there”.

I planned to emphasize the importance of keeping the vegetable water, but now I don’t have to.

Chef Ramsay then said “We don’t need a chicken stock or vegetable stock. How can you make a broccoli soup with a chicken stock for god’s sake?”

My thoughts exactly.

Then he said “…this thing is great for vegetarians as well, bless ’em.”

Aha there it is…the vegetarian joke, to remind us all that the culinary world at large doesn’t take us seriously. It’s the sort of thing I expect to hear during a holiday dinner, and take with a grain of salt and/or see the humor in. It’s a rendition of what I hear at every holiday, with the exception of last Xmas (when I arrived after dinner) and the year before when I couldn’t make it due to car trouble, so I went to Chinese food with friends and ordered steamed vegetables (which is my favorite food anyway, although most people don’t believe me) or the Xmas four years ago when I had to work.

I’ve made blended soups using only 1 type of vegetable i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini for years, but never thought to share the recipe(s) on my blog because they seemed so simplistic and obvious. After watching Chef Ramsay demonstrate the recipe and explain each step in precise detail, I realized that single-ingredient blended vegetable soup can be more than a just a simple, frugal, no-frills meal or a means of utilizing the overgrowth of zucchini in the garden. With a bit of finesse, this basic soup becomes something of 5-star quality.

When I make this soup with broccoli, I boil the stalks along with the florets. I don’t see any logic in discarding them, especially in the case of a pureed soup. Also, with brussels sprouts, I typically don’t follow the convention of cutting them in half. I think the flavor improves when boiled whole, like in this recipe.

Seasoned with nothing other than bit of salt, this simple (but not simplistic) version is a ten-minute recipe that exemplifies just how easy it is to prepare healthy, crowd-pleasing meals for vegans and non-vegans alike.

You will need a pot with lid for cooking, a colander, a second pot for saving the water when drained from the cooked sprouts, and a blender.

Brussels Sprout Bisque


2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed
4 cups water

Bring a pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Cover, and boil for 5 minutes. Run a knife through one of the sprouts; if it slices through easily, turn off heat. Carefully pour brussels sprouts with water into a colander over a large empty soup pot. Immediately add sprouts to the blender, and add enough broth to half-cover them. Puree until velvety smooth and thin enough to drink from a mug or a jar, yet thick enough to enjoy in a bowl with a spoon. If the result is more of a puree than a liquid, add more broth in 1/2 cup increments until desired consistency is reached. Add salt to taste and blend again, if desired. Serve immediately.

brussels sprouts soup pre blend
brussels sprout bisque
brussels sprouts bisque square

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Grilled Artichokes + Vegan Wasabi Aioli

I’ve never really liked veganaise, or vegan mayo. It reminds me of tuna salad. I do however, love artichokes. So do most people, I’ve learned…which should be a wonderfully convenient fact…yet somehow I get very turned off at the sight of artichokes (or any other vegetable for that matter) dipped in mayonnaise. Even if the mayo is vegan, I can’t deal..ever since I was 5 or 6 years old at a holiday party and witnessed a platter of steamed broccoli served with mayonnaise as a dip. I went through a phase in college when I could tolerate it because my roommate(s) always had it around and I was just grateful it wasn’t real mayo. Come to think of it, of all the 35 different roommates I have lived with since 2007, none of them ever bought mayonnaise yet somehow many of them had an affinity for veganaise, nayonaise, or whatever other mayonnaise was available. I haven’t lived with many vegans, yet somehow found myself surrounded by the omnivores-who-prefer-vegan-condiments crowd.

Even though I’m not normally a fan of aioli , I thought I would try to make my own soy-free, paleo version. This one utilizes wasabi, an ingredient choice that occurred when I envisioned the different types of veganaise that once inhabited my refrigerator. If I recall correctly, wasabi mayo was among them. For this recipe I used sunflower seeds to create a creamy texture. I still had a few cashews left over (see previous post) so I used them also. The recipe is a 2-step process; first prepare the wasabi worcestershire, then blend with the sunflower seeds and cashews to create the aioli.

It turned out delicious, with flavors similar to the type of aioli traditionally served with artichokes…only without the egg-y undertones that mayonnaise-based versions often exhibit.

Grilled Artichokes with Vegan Wasabi Aioli


1-2 globe artichokes
1 lime slice, or extra for garnish
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup artichoke water/broth (see below)
1/16 tsp stevia extract powder
1 tsp stone-ground dijon mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
2 tsp wasabi powder
artichoke halved
artichoke half


Cut the artichoke(s) in half. If you want a nice presentation, use scissors to snip away the pointy tips of the artichoke leaves. Boil artichokes in 3 cups water with the lime slice and bay leaf. Meanwhile, prepare the vegan wasabi worcestershire sauce and/or the aioli.

Preheat a grill or broiler on high heat.

When artichoke has finished boiling (about 20 minutes), carefully scoop out the “hair” from the heart and then transfer to the preheated grill or broiler. Cook until browned or when grill marks appear, about 5 minutes.

for vegan wasabi worcestershire sauce
Stir with a fork or whisk together the soy sauce, minced garlic, garlic powder, blackstrap molasses, stevia extract, dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar with 1/4 water/broth from the artichokes.

for the aioli
In a food processor or blender, combine 1/4 cup vegan wasabi worcestershire with 1/4 cup sesame seeds and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds. Blend until smooth. Add more artichoke water/broth in 1 Tbsp increments if additional liquid is needed.

Serve artichokes with vegan wasabi aioli and lime slices.
vegan wasabi worcestershire aioli
vegan artichoke aioli

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Broccoli Stalk Fettuccine + Roasted Tomatoes

broccoli stalk fettuccine

Broccoli Stalk Fettuccine + Roasted Tomatoes


3 roma tomatoes, halved
2 broccoli stalks
salt, for cooking
1 cup toasted cashew pieces* (see how-to in the steps below)
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup broccoli water
1 Tbsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice or more, to taste
1 clove garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
3-4 peppercorns
Salt to taste

broccoli pasta ingredients


Preheat oven to 350 degrees..

Using a mandolin (who am I kidding, I don’t own a mandolin) or a knife, slice strips from the broccoli stalks as thinly as possible. Then slice each slice as thinly as possible to create “noodles” (thinner than julienne, as long as the stalk will allow you to cut all the way without inducing breakage).

In a stove pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add broccoli “noodles” and a pinch of salt. Cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.

chopping broccoli

*The purpose of/inspiration behind this recipe was to make use of broccoli stalks that are often discarded by home cooks and/or the general public—but if your broccoli still has florets attached, use them too.

When oven is ready, place roma tomatoes in an oven pan or on a cookie sheet. Lightly shake sea salt over tomatoes before transferring to the preheated oven.

raw tomatoes halved

Before you start the alfredo sauce…
When broccoli “noodles” are tender (7-10 minutes) use a strainer to extract the water/broth. Return pot of broccoli noodles to the stove, cover, and ignore while you focus on other the other elements in this dish.

broccoli stalk noodles

for the sauce…
Blend 1 cup toasted cashews* with 3/4 cup broccoli water/broth, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 3-4 peppercorns, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, and 1 Tbsp lime juice.

*to toast the cashew pieces…
you will need:
raw cashew pieces
a small cast-iron skillet or frying pan
a plate
a wooden spoon or pair of wooden chopsticks for stirring


Spread the nuts in a single layer in the skillet. Turn on heat to low (3-4). Stir regularly to ensure all sides are cooked. This takes 15 minutes, or until cashews are lightly brown. If you see traces of dark brown, don’t worry. When dry-roasted/toasted the traditional way in Guatemala, cashews develop spots that are more browned than others*.

*I found a youtube video for a how to make cashews (marañones) from start to finish (literally, the video shows the fruit picked directly from the tree). I’ve witnessed this process before but all I did was take an Instagram photo. I always wished I’d made a video. Now I found one. Shout-out to Arielhz45 for their well-made informative instructional video. The reason why most cashews you find at the grocery store in the bulk bins or pre-packaged by Planter’s or some other company = here in the grand old USA we tend to think everything tastes better with grease and salt. We roast cashew nuts in peanut oil (thanks, Planter’s) despite the fact that cashews have a high fat content already (the good, nutritious fat that comes from whole foods *note: when I write “whole foods” I don’t mean WFM. I write about WFM (Whole Foods Market) occasionally, so I can see how this might seem confusing. From now on, I will refer to Whole Foods Market as such, or I will abbreviate as WFM. When I discuss “whole foods” I mean whole foods as in unrefined, unadulterated, unprocessed foods and/or actual foods as opposed to fruit byproducts i.e. olive oil, grape seed oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or seed byproducts e.g. sunflower, sesame, or canola. Also ingredients that aren’t used as fillers in practically every packaged food, such as the corn byproduct maltodextrin. Get it? Sorry if that sounded fragmented. If so, ask me to clarify via a comment, an email, or whatever other means of communication you choose.

Here is the aforementioned video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TBYddQRWU
and here is an official PeaceCorps video that documents how cashews are made/processed in factories in Ghana (I’ve never been to Ghana, but I do know a lot about cashew processing and the socioeconomic chain of demand surrounding it) also I might be joining the Peace Corps so this video seems relevant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky8omUFpxVI

the alfredo sauce:

vegan alfredo

the roasted tomatoes:

roasted tomatoes

Julienne the roasted tomatoes and toss with cooked broccoli “fettuccine” and alfredo sauce.

vegan broccoli stalk pasta


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Thoughts on Yummly + PaleoVeganism

Yummly is a site that helps you discover and collect recipes that are specifically tailored to your preferences. For people like me who have food allergies and dietary restrictions, it lets you customize your profile to filter recipes with the offending ingredients from your recipe search. For example, if you’re vegetarian and prefer not to look at recipes involving meat and/or prefer to avoid the hassle of swapping out certain ingredients to make a dish vegetarian, this feature is especially handy. The same goes for vegans, and paleo eaters.

I like to adapt recipes to make them healthier, whether that means eliminating empty carbohydrates like flour and sugar; eliminating the fat; or swapping in non-starchy vegetables in place of semi-nutritious (but not paleo-friendly) starches i.e. potatoes.

It’s often a lot of fun to give antiquated recipes a “makeover”. On holidays especially, I love to paleo-veganize recipes from my grandmother’s recipe box. I also like to adapt classic recipes from the culinary traditions of miscellaneous cultures throughout the world into something that might or might not turn out the way I expect them to—but in cases like that i.e. when I replaced shredded pork with string beans in a vegan tamale recipe I saw things headed south and immediately did damage control, turning my would-be tamale fail into a delicious paleo (legume free) spicy tamale hummus.

Recipe makeovers are kind of my thing, so some might think I wouldn’t use Yummly. Think again. When I want to find a recipe to adapt—e.g. one of the classics from Mastering the Art of French Cooking or for a challenge, a recipe so characteristically not-vegan and so laden with butter or cream that to turn it into a healthy vegan recipe would seem impossible by default, such as something from Joy of Cooking—I still use Yummly. When I’m in Guatemala or Mexico, I can’t bring along my vintage cookbooks or call the manager at my storage unit to dig through boxes of books to find them and relay a particular recipe from a specific book over the phone. I can’t trust Google Books, since although most of my cookbooks are vintage they’re not antiquated enough to be in the public domain. Yummly is great for this. Normally I know the key ingredients of the recipe I want to paleo-veganize. With Yummly, I can create a customized search based on what I recall from the recipe.

Yummly features up-and-coming bloggers. They also feature bloggers with published cookbooks. I see myself as somewhere in the middle, as in:
2005: I started developing paleo-vegan recipes
2006: Started a job at whole foods in the juice bar/coffee bar
2007: Went fully raw-vegan (from “cooked vegan”). Started college, and engaged in many after-class tea parties and/or wine nights that involved paleo-vegan “spreads” i.e. raw chocolate made with stevia, kale chips with raw sunflower seed pate, gluten-free, grain-free vegan crackers dipped in hempseed butter, apple slices and almond butter, etc. with my college roommate and friends across the hall/in the dorm next door.
2007a: Advocated for a better salad bar in the dining cafeteria and a visible, posted list of ingredients for the soups, sauces, and entrees.
2008: Transitioned from the dorms into my boyfriend’s van
2008a: Ate mostly raw kale, nuts, seeds, and apples
2008b: Started working at Evo’s, a vegan-friendly cafe with a diverse clientele including transient philosophers and misc. homeless people. During this time I lived part-time in my boyfriend’s van and the rest of the time in my BFF’s apartment she shared with her boyfriend, her sister, the sister’s boyfriend, 1 kitten (her’s), 1 iguana (my boyfriend’s), and a guy who was always on the couch yet I could never figure out why. I was basically homeless, too…but proud of it. This was my freegan anarchist phase.
2008c: Access to the food processor at the cafe I worked at resulted in the development and fine-tuning of paleo-vegan hummus and pate recipes.
2009: Started blogging paleo-vegan recipes on blogger.com
2009a: Spent the summer in Mexico for an internship and to backpack throughout the country with a friend/other intern in September. Throughout both experiences I learned to paleo-veganize traditional recipes from the culinary traditions of Mexico, Korea, Lebanon, Nigeria, Bolivia, and Eastern Europe by way of living with a multi-cultural team of interns.
2010: Started blogging paleo-vegan recipes on wordpress.com
2010a: Spent Fall living and breathing Rosetta Stone Intermediate-Advanced Latin American Spanish, during a cleanse/detox diet while living in a tent.
2010b: Spent Winter-Spring backpacking, volunteering, and improving my Spanish in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Central America, during which I lived on beets, beet greens, wild greens, mangoes, cabbage, avocados, instant coffee, guanabana, heart of palm, fava beans, and coca leaf tea (not a narcotic, BTW, if anyone is wondering. It a remedy for/means of preventing altitude sickness).
2010c: Returned to college for summer school to catch up on anthropology courses and start a minor in photography. Purchased a Nikon DSLR which inspired me to get more serious about food photography in 2010.
2010d: Picked enough wild blackberries to compensate for an entire year’s worth of fruit and juice. I dried them for trail mix, froze them for smoothies and raw vegan ice cream, defrosted them for salads and no-sugar-added jams.
2010e: Started work at Pangea, a global-fusion restaurant/cafe specializing in natural/organic/locally-sourced ingredients. their “Squirrel Nut” salad is paleo vegan. So is “The Cleopatra” when you hold the Parmesan.
2011: With a full-time school schedule/coursework load, an internship, and full-time job, I didn’t have time to focus my energy on recipe development. I did however, perfect the technique of throwing vegetables into an antiquated oven to broil on high for 10 minutes.
2011a: Spent summer working in production at a music festival; ate mostly broiled vegetables and drank a lot of coffee.
2012b: Spent winter-early summer in Guatemala for field research in medical anthropology. Ate mostly steamed/boiled or raw cabbage, greens, carrots, tomatoes and onions; cashew nuts, chayote, avocados, and the occasional tortilla and/or beans (didn’t have an oven). Focused more the on research than blogging, but observed and took notes on certain food-preparation techniques that had significant influence in subsequent recipes/blog posts.
2012c: Worked at the music festival again; boyfriend found an apartment sublet with a grill…so not so much recipe development occured that summer as grilled vegetables are easy and recipe development can’t happen during 20-hour shifts.
2013: Worked as a copy-writer, editor, and web designer and blogged when I could
2013a: Decided to take my blog to the next level, by purchasing a domain name and transferring my blog to a self-hosted WordPress site. It started as vegan-paleo.com, the name of my wordpress.com blog.
2013b: In December, while home for Christmas with my family, the name “Paleoveganista” came to me and I never looked back.
2013c: Returned to Guatemala for research/to work on my documentary. Tasted, photographed, wrote about, and learned how to make dishes that are traditionally vegan in Guatemala and Belize.
2014-present: Designed websites and infographics, and campaigned via social media for non-profit organizations. Also blogged, connected with readers of my blog through comments, emails, and social media i.e Facebook and discovered useful new websites such as Yummly.

Yummly’s features include a virtual recipe box to store the recipes you find through the site. It allows you to quickly and efficiently find a way to transform whatever you have on hand into a satisfying, nutritious meal. On a break at work, on the bus, the subway, or whenever you have a free minute…you can start planning what to make, gauge how long it will take, and find a recipe that works with what’s in your refrigerator. Not all of us can plan that far ahead when it comes to meal preparation. Yummly makes it easier to fit meal prep into our schedules, plan on the go (using their free app for iPhone or Android) and you can conveniently store Paleovegan recipes to your recipe box directly from my blog, using the “Yum” button below each of my posts.

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Vegan Borscht + pumpkin seed sour cream

In college I worked at a global-fusion restaurant/cafe called Pangea that specialized in soups and natural/organic/locally-sourced ingredients. *If any of you dear readers go to Ashland, Oregon, definitely eat there. It even has a collection of coffee table books for your viewing pleasure, including What The World Eats, which I consider one of the best and most culturally-relevant photo essays ever made. I would’ve written a 5-star yelp review for Pangea but I don’t know if I can; I think yelp prohibits all employees (former included) from yelping about businesses they are or once were affiliated with.

So, at Pangea people would call consistently to check the soup menu. Some would special-order their favorite soup in advance and seemed to jump through hoops to make sure they never missed it. Even after we started the soups-of-the-day twitter feed, people would call with such a tenacity that you’d think the outcome of their day depended on it. The restaurant had a rotating menu of about 15 soups, or maybe more, with at least 5 unique and interesting vegan options. Every day we offered at least 1 vegan soup, along with a non-vegan soup or 2…usually 1 vegan, 1 vegetarian w/ dairy, and 1 with meat. Of all the vegan soups my favorite was the borscht. We served it chilled on warm weather days and hot on cold days, the way it is traditionally prepared in the Ukraine, where the dish originated. In Ukrainian and other Eastern and Central European cuisines, including those of Belarus, Poland, and Russia, the popularity of borscht spread and inspired various adaptations of the original recipe. According to tradition in some regions, cold borscht has distinct characteristics that hot borscht does not. However, in my experience if the correct proportion of beets to tomatoes to spices is achieved it will wow crowds both ways.

Borscht (beet soup) contributed to the “melting pot” of North American cuisine by way of Slavic and Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe. According to Webster’s dictionary,

borscht or borsch
: a soup made primarily of beets and served hot or cold often with sour cream

Variants of BORSCHT
borscht or borsch

Origin of BORSCHT
Yiddish borsht & Ukrainian & Russian borshch
First Known Use: 1808

I tried borscht for the first time at the restaurant I worked at, but I had heard the word before and knew it was a soup of some kind. When I first went vegetarian I spent a lot of time browsing through my mom’s cookbooks, especially The Meatless Gourmet: Favorite Recipes from Around the World by Bonnie Hinman ©1995. Her recipe, unlike the one in 1974’s The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzan which calls for 2-3 Tbsp sugar or honey and 2 cups buttermilk, measures in at 106 calories per serving and 2g total fat with zero saturated fat. It doesn’t call for added sugar, and the only fat involved comes from the 2 Tbsp vegetable oil used for sauteing the garlic and onion. Most of the carbohydrate content could be eliminated by replacing the two medium potatoes with string beans/green beans, which: if we calculate the difference, would significantly lower the glycemic index of this low-fat vegetarian recipe. When I first discovered The Meatless Gourmet I felt like I’d stumbled upon the holy grail of healthy food choices.

My parents raised me on a relatively low-fat diet i.e. we never used butter, and always replaced the cream in recipes with unsweetened plain low-fat yogurt. I don’t think they ever bought cheese, so the only cheese I remember eating we received in the mail at Christmastime from a relative on my dad’s side (I don’t recall which one, but I remember the cheese was aged in special barrels or something, and thus made other cheese taste gross, which explains in part why when I eventually cut out dairy I hardly realized I had.

My mom stopped eating red meat after my brother was born when I was 3, so I never ate that either except for the time I tried a McDonald’s hamburger; took a bite of pepperoni pizza at a birthday party at Chuckie Cheese when I was 5; a hamburger at a family picnic in Paradise (near Chico) CA when I was 7 that I thought was a turkey burger; or when I was 12 and ate a few bites of steak on a family vacation at Lake Almanor and spent the night sick in the bathroom. Maybe the steak was too rare, but it turned me off enough to never touch a steak again. My grandfather has this theory that I’m supposed to eat meat because he has a memory of me devouring barbecue pork ribs as a baby, but my family documents everything and I’ve never seen that photo.

Meat brings us back to borscht, most “traditional” recipes for which utlilize a broth of kosher cuts of meat. However, in the history of borscht-making, meat wasn’t always available. Hence the reason why many other traditional recipes (some of which date so far back as to be available in the public domain and therefore free online) call for vegetable broth (which you make yourself; this was before the time of pre-made vegetable broth sold in pasteurized cartons at Whole Foods). In fact, the broth was created by default, just by cooking beets in a large quantity of water along with some salt, herbs from the garden, and other miscellaneous root vegetables such as onions, garlic, carrots, rutabaga, parsnips, and/or potatoes. Since my version is paleo it won’t involve a potato (a common misconception is that the potato is a vegetable, but it isn’t).

Modern takes on the traditional borscht recipe include tomatoes, often stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, or both. My recipe calls for a few sun-dried tomatoes which contribute perfectly to the flavor and body of the broth without overpowering the beets. Borscht does translate to “beet soup”, after all.

A few important notes on the ingredients, before we start creating your fabulous paleo vegan borscht that will wow everyone you serve it to no matter what the context:

1.) the beets: in my experience at your average run-of-the-mill grocery store, these come in bunches of 3 with each beet weighing 1 lb approx). I bought these at a tienda, and they were the exactly that: 3 x 1 lb beets with the greens). At co-ops, natural foods stores, or at the farmer’s market you might find smaller beets. You might even find golden beets. Actually, you probably will find golden beets. Your vegan borscht won’t be as vibrant, but it would be an interesting experiment…since most borscht recipes call for potatoes, and instead I used extra beets…which made my broth magenta. If you swap out 1/2 the standard beets for golden beets in my recipe, the vibrancy of the broth might level out at something closer to the norm.

2.) the carrots: I used baby carrots, because I had 1/2 a 16-oz package left from when I bought them on sale, and kind of forgot about them. Normally I would use a whole carrot, which tend to have more flavor due to being unprocessed unlike baby carrots, but work with what you have or what is available.

3.) green vs string vs wax beans: wax beans are pale string beans, like green beans only white/off-white in color.

Vegan Borscht


1 bunch beets with greens attached
8oz carrot(s)
8oz green beans/string beans/wax beans
1 cup Herdez salsa verde
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, soaked in 8oz warm water (save the water, to add to the soup)
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
lemon slices, for serving
1/4 tsp salt


Bring 5 cups water to boil in a large soup pot. Meanwhile, wash, trim, thinly slice and dice the beets. Add beets to the water with 1/4 tsp salt. Cover, and cook for 5 minutes as you trim and dice the green beans and carrots. Stir in green beans and carrots to the soup pot with 1 cup salsa verde, 1 tsp granulated garlic, 1 tsp cumin, and soaked sun-dried tomatoes with the water used to soak them (some of the flavor is released in the water, so it will contribute to the flavor of your vegan borscht and otherwise important not to waste). Reduce heat to medium. Dice the washed and trimmed beet greens. Stir in beet greens and cover soup pot. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer while you make the pumpkin seed sour cream.

for the pumpkin seed sour cream:
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds/pepitas
juice of 1 lemon
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2 Tbsp warm water, let sit to “gel” for 2 minutes)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
a few shakes/grinds of salt or a pinch of coarse sea salt

*if pumpkin seeds/pepitas are salted, you probably won’t need to add salt.

Blend in a food processor or blender. Add a bit of water if necessary.

*the flax seeds give the “sour cream” a starchy texture normally given by corn starch or heavy cream, so it doesn’t turn out watery.

Let your vegan borscht continue to simmer on low until ready to serve, or prepare an ice bath if you plan to serve it chilled.

Serve topped with a dollop of pumpkin seed sour cream and lemon slices if desired.

fresh beets
slicing beets
dicing beets
carrots green beans
seasonings for borscht
chopping beet greens
vegan borscht
*a few final notes…

Cost of Vegan Borscht (makes 8 servings)

1 bunch of beets with greens (3 lbs): $2.50
8oz carrots: 35 cents
8oz green beans: 50 cents
1 meyer lemon: free
2 Tbsp diced sun-dried tomatoes (1 serving from a 6-serving bag that cost $3): 50 cents
8oz pumpkin seeds: $1.50

Total: $5.35

You can also make fun designs with the sour cream, like we did at the restaurant I worked at. I learned today that pumpkin-seed sour cream doesn’t lend itself as well to hearts, flowers, or other standard motifs. It doesn’t hold together as well as the real thing because it doesn’t contain coagulating agents. At any rate, here is my attempt:
borscht with design

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Spicy Green Bean Tamale Hummus

spicy green bean tamale hummusThis recipe utilizes the 6 key ingredients used for cooking tamale meat: peppercorns, ancho chilies, guajillo chilies, bay leaf, pumpkin seed and sesame seeds. Traditionally, the meat (usually shredded pork) is stewed in these spices and seeds. As with most things involving meat, the overall quality of the dish comes from the spices and seasonings that give it flavor. Case in point: if not for steak marinades and sauces, it seems safe to assume that more of us would go veg.

The use of green beans in place of chickpeas in this recipe make it very low in carbs and paleo approved.

Spicy Green Bean Tamale Hummus


1 pound green beans or about 3 cups, trimmed and roughly chopped
3/4 cup sesame seeds
1 bay leaf
1 dried ancho chile
1 dried guajillo chile
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp granulated garlic
4-5 whole peppercorns
salt to taste

*To adjust the “heat” of the hummus to your liking, remove the seeds from the chiles and add in 1 tsp at a time after you puree the cooked green beans with the sesame seeds. Chilies can vary, even though each particular variety has specific characteristics. Guajillo chilies, for example, can vary from mild to very spicy. The chiles themselves (with seeds removed) will taste mild-medium hot when cooked. Working with the seeds takes more finesse.

**To avoid over-salting, cook the green beans with the seeded chiles and spices without salt. Wait until the hummus is blended, and then add a few shakes of salt or a few grinds from the salt grinder. Blend again, taste, repeat.


Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a covered soup pot. Add green beans, chiles, cumin, garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until green beans soften and absorb most of the water, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. This will help the seeds to “soak” in the warm water, without losing any of their nutritional value from cooking.

Use a blender or food processor to puree the green bean+seed mixture. This recipe utilizes whole sesame seeds instead of a pre-processed tahini, but when blended the characteristic tahini flavor is released. The texture and flavor of the dip matches that of traditional hummus. Had I not invented the recipe myself, I wouldn’t have guessed that green beans were used instead of chickpeas.

***At the request of readers I plan to start listing the price of ingredients used in my recipes. Here’s the cost breakdown for Spicy Green Bean Tamale Hummus:
1 lb green beans: $1
Tamale spice mix (sesame seeds, pepitas, chilies, peppercorns, bay leaf): $1
1 packet sesame seeds (about 2/3 cup): $1

Total: $3 not including the cumin and granulated garlic, which I already had on hand.

step by step, in pictures:

fresh green beans
trim and roughly chop green beans
vegan green bean tamale hummus
green bean tamale hummus
green beans with chilies
puree and serve tamale hummus
spicy green bean tamale hummus

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Spicy Sautéed Kale with Lime

spicy kale with lime
I love recipe makeovers. Last week I “made over” a Julia Child recipe. This week it’s Martha Stewart. Often recipes makeovers are easy, like in this case, where I only substituted stevia for the honey and lime for the lemon. *Edit: I also eliminated the vegetable oil, because it’s easy to sauté without it and the elimination of oil in this recipe essentially makes it a negative-calorie dish that is also filling, so when on a diet or a cleanse this would flood your body with fiber while contributing virtually nothing to your caloric intake. The pepper and lime help with digestion, and I don’t think I need to tout the benefits of kale. For those who don’t need/want to detox or cleanse, this dish also makes a great side.

As shown in the images this kale doesn’t look as vibrant as it should. Granted, I could have adjusted the aperature and shutter speed to give it a better hue, but the kale didn’t look very vibrant to begin with. It was on the verge of turning from slightly wilted to questionably edible, which is why I chose to develop/adapt a kale recipe this afternoon. To guarantee a vibrant-green color for your kale, examine it for yellow spots or wilted leaves before you purchase.
spicy kale with lime martha stewart

Spicy Sautéed Kale with Lime


1 Thai or jalapeno chile, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced, seeds removed and slices quartered
1/16 tsp stevia extract powder
2 bunches kale (1 1/2 pounds), tough stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
6 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
Coarse salt


In a large skillet, sauté chile in a small amount of water over medium-high heat. Add lime and stevia and cook, stirring, until lime begins to break down, about 2 minutes. Add kale and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add scallions, season with salt, and cook 1 minute. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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How To Repair Your Vegan Leather


When pleather or vinyl aka vegan leather gets damaged it can be an expensive fix. If you take it to a professional, that is. Contrary to the status quo of contemporary consumer culture, you can do pleather and vinyl repair yourself. Things could go wrong, but in reading this article you’re already 5 steps ahead of the mainstream.

Step 1: Measure the Job

If you’re a novice in pleather and vinyl repair, be sure to focus on the damage as a starting point. Repairs tend to be better when less material is used. In other words, less is more. Measure the size of the damage, and add an extra 1/2 centimeter to account for the seam. Use a ruler and measure through the center of the hole or the thickness of the rip. Measure the length of the rip as well as the length of the hole. With these measurements you can cut a patch piece to accurately fit over the site to be repaired.

Step 2: Make it Even

Evenly ripped holes and tears are rare. Even if your task at hand is small at first glance, it might be more complicated than you think. In order to allow a good fit for the patch, start with the tears/rips that are the most even. This way, these initial repairs will appear seamless and allow subsequent repairs to blend with the rest of the fabric. Use a scissor to trim the damaged spots. Remove no more than the amount of fabric needed, to preserve as much of the original pleather or vinyl as you can. Make very small cuts to achieve this.

Step 3: Is it Burned?

Dropping a lit cigarette on a piece of furniture is a common occurrence. That’s why getting rid of a mattress requires going through a sequence of hoops. *In the 1970s, after one too many housewives burned down their houses by falling asleep with a cigarette in their hand, suddenly every mattress was manufactured with unpronounceable, questionably FDA-certified chemicals. If you accidentally burn a hole in your purse or your shoes, or your leather pants (if you still wear leather pants, I think you’re ridiculous enough to be interesting, so call me). Back to leather repair: when burned, the material (often foam, if it’s a pleather jacket) inside the piece can also become damaged. You first need to replace the foam in the site of the damage to avoid an odor that could permeate for years. You will notice a slight odor that could increase when the area becomes heated. You can replace the section that is damaged with a different kind of material if you can’t find the original.

Step 4: The Aftermath

Post-repair, use a pair of scissors and cut away the charred vinyl or leather plus a little more to make the damage even.

Step 5: Be Precise

To avoid visibility of the damage post-repair, work slowly and on a small scale. Do not just slap on a patch with repair sealant. Apply the patch adhesive to the edges of the damage as well as the piece of patch material. Use a toothpick or other small applicator.

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