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Appetizers, Asian, Breakfast, Brunch, Budget, Culture, Detox, Dinner, Frugal, Global Fusion, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Sides, Snacks, Society

Thai Chili Green Pea Hummus


I decided to name this recipe Thai Chili Green Pea Hummus, since Sambal Olek chili paste (the kind with the drawing of a rooster on the gold-tinted label with the green cap) is the inspiration behind it. To give it a more notably Thai flavor I added Thai basil and ginger root along with the garlic. I did not have access to fresh lemongrass, but lemongrass is an ingredient in the green curry paste, so… Continue Reading

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< 5 ingredients, #camplife, Brunch, Budget, French, Frugal, Main Dishes, Recipe Makeover

Cauliflower-Cashew Creamed Spinach + Roasted Tomatoes

Cauliflower cashew creamed spinach

Creamed spinach is one of those recipes that seems mutually exclusive with vegan or paleo, perhaps first made popular by Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now a steakhouse staple across the United States, creamed spinach is traditionally made with heavy cream and butter. This significantly lighter version does utilize a relatively high-fat ingredient [cashews] but the bulk of the “cream” is a virtually fat-free vegetable [cauliflower]. Continue Reading

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Guatemalan, Italian, Sauce, Vegan Cheese

Broccoli Stalk Fettuccine + Roasted Tomatoes

broccoli stalk fettuccine
Pasta alternatives don’t have to cost $2 per serving. I enjoy using Shirataki noodles just as much as the next paleo enthusiast or carb-conscious person, but the cost adds up. So I thought, why not utilize an ingredient that many home cooks often throw out? I always use the stalk of the broccoli, but usually just add it along with the florets in soups, stir fries, and steamed vegetable dishes. It just occurred to me today to feature broccoli stalks as the star of a dish. The result? Even better than I predicted. Broccoli stalks, when thinly sliced, make a mean fettuccine noodle. The chickpea-cashew cream sauce pairs perfectly, but my favorite element would have to be the roasted tomatoes. Overall, this dish has aesthetic appeal and a lovely flavor profile. To make it even more budget-friendly, toasted sesame seeds can be substituted for the cashews.

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
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:

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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Budget, Detox, Global Fusion, Lunch, Main Dishes, Mediterranean, Salads, Seaweed, Sides

5 Salad Dressing Recipes ≤ 5 ingredients

perfect salad
I’ve traveled a lot, in many situations where access to a blender was nil. Whether it was a motel room with a mini fridge, or a hospedaje with bars on the widows; a hostel dorm with a shared kitchen, a tent, or my car, I’ve managed to make every salad dressing on this list with as little as a pocket knife and a mason jar. That’s not to say they’re simplistic. These recipes can transform something as basic as shredded cabbage into a flavorful and satisfying meal.
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Main Dishes, Snacks

Grilled Vegetable Pizza with Cauliflower Crust


Day 4 in the paleo vegan mono diet challenge, I ventured outside my original plan to focus on cauliflower as the key ingredient or the “star” in recipes I develop this week. Today I decided to mix it up a little…but later realized I hadn’t strayed as far from the rules as I’d originally thought.

In theory, this recipe still adheres to the guidelines; the cauliflower crust is literally the foundation of the dish. I still managed to limit the ingredients to 5, if you count “grilled vegetables” as one ingredient. For this recipe I grilled 5 different vegetables including tomatoes (technically not a vegetable, but it functions as one in this recipe), all of which I used merely because I had them on hand. I encourage experimentation with different combinations of vegetables.

Considering my current goal of minimalist cooking (with 5 ingredients or fewer) I wish I’d limited the toppings to grilled tomatoes and a little basil. Anyway, whichever vegetable topping or combination you try–I hope you enjoy working with this virtually hassle-free recipe. As long as you have the cauliflower and dry ingredients for the crust, with 1 or more vegetables to grill for toppings; olive oil, garlic, and some herbs–I think it could serve as a reliable go-to recipe. Let me know of combinations you try. Take photos! Send them to me, and I’ll feature them here. Tell me about your blog or other endeavors so I can credit you and perhaps talk about guest blogging on, if you’re interested.

I used frozen cauliflower because I predicted that raw cauliflower might yield too grainy a texture. When I’ve tried to make cauliflower “rice” with cooked cauliflower, the blender quickly turned it into a puree. The crust for this recipe requires a rice-like (but not too grainy) texture, so as I predicted the frozen variety worked best.

Grilled Vegetable Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

For the crust

1 pound frozen cauliflower florets, left to thaw in the fridge overnight
3 tablespoons ground chia seeds or flax seeds (flax meal)
6 tablespoons water
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Grilled Vegetables


3-4 crimini mushrooms, sliced. *Tip: Crimini is merely a fancy term for brown mushrooms–the type sold at chain grocery stores. These tend to cost less than half the price per pound of portabella mushrooms–yet they’re the same thing, only smaller.
2 roma tomatoes, quartered
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
1 small zucchini and/or yellow squash, cut in half and sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
1 tsp crushed basil leaves
1 tsp oregano


Add 3 Tbsp ground chia or flax seeds to 1/3 cup warm water and set aside.

Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a small bowl or container. Add the garlic, rosemary, basil, and oregano. Set aside. Lightly salt the vegetables and let sit while you make the crust. This will help absorb excess moisture as they cook.

Remove cauliflower from the refrigerator and pulse in a food processor until a rice-like texture is achieved.

Use a cheesecloth or thin towel to squeeze out excess moisture from the cauliflower “rice”. Then transfer to a large bowl and add the chia/flax “egg”, the almond meal, the extra tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds, salt, and garlic. Stir well to mix until it forms a dough. If it is too crumbly, add an additional tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds, and 1-2 tablespoons water. Press the mixture into the parchment-lined 8″ round cake pan. If you don’t have a round cake pan, press the crust into a baking sheet or oven pan and use your hands to create a rounded or whatever shape you like. Make sure the crust is at least 1/4″ thick throughout. *Note: the parchment paper is important for removing the crust from the pan so it doesn’t fall apart.

Bake for 25 minutes at 400*F or until slightly golden around the edges. While the crust cooks, place the sliced, salted vegetables on a sheet pan, and brush with the garlic-herb infused olive oil. Next, turn them over and brush the other side.

Heat your grill to its highest setting and make sure it’s fully preheated before adding the vegetables. Turn the vegetables as they start to get grill marks or until the edges begin to darken.


Approximate cooking times:
Tomatoes, quartered: 4 to 5 minutes
Zucchini strips: 5 to 7 minutes
Mushrooms: 5 to 7 minutes
Onion, sliced: 5 to 7 minutes
Bell pepper strips: 6 to 8 minutes
Carrot slices: 10 to 12 minutes

Once vegetables have cooked, brush the cauliflower crust with the remaining garlic-herb olive oil and layer with grilled veggies. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.

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Breakfast, Main Dishes

Low-Carb, Fat Free, Delicious Blended Soups

I’m a huge fan of blended soups, year round. Besides gazpacho and other raw soups, I wasn’t always this way. Between 2005 and 2007 I swore by a 90% raw diet but in February 2008 learned to compromise a bit…and found that hot steamed vegetables and vegetable soups ward off cravings for things like refined carbohydrates and sugar. Also, raw fruit i.e. bananas or avocados transported here from a tropical climate in the middle of winter never did me any favors in terms of staying fit or feeling energized enough to exercise. So over the years of revising my diet (I initally stopped eating raw after an argument with my significant other at the time who had cooked a vegan dinner for me and I dismissed it for not meeting the standards of the way I preferred to eat) I actually ended up losing weight after that fateful evening, since I made the compromise to cut out avocados and nuts if I were to integrate cooked vegetables and beans–and it turns out I “thrive”, so to speak, on a lower fat, reduced carb diet as opposed to a high fat, 95% raw, fruit-laden one. Granted, I always eat at least one raw meal or “snack” per day, even if it’s a handful of carrot sticks, sliced cucumber, or celery. It’s difficult, when you have a full-time job or are a student with a full schedule, to stay hydrated and maintain energy levels–and things like chopped veg or packaged “baby carrots” or cauliflower florettes have been lifesavers for me. When I worked part-time as a full-time student in college, I think most days I started with a quad-shot espresso, a double shot after school and/or before work, snacked on raw vegetables or an apple on the drive between Ashland and Medford (from my work to my night classes), brought a cup of coffee to the night class, and maybe ate some leftover cooked vegetables upon returning home if I had a paper to write for a different class, or some math homework, or something (there was almost always something). On days that I didn’t have night class I rode my bike instead of using my car, and thus burned more calories so I usually relied on something like a soy latte or a bit of trail mix to stay alert whenever there was a lull in the day.

Although I’d abstained from grains for 4 years prior to 2010, I’ve made compromises. For example, in January 2010 when I volunteered in Ecuador I ate quinoa because vegetables were expensive and raw vegetables not always safe to eat (though I did eat a lot of raw cucumbers and cabbage, and other things that come with a “wrapper”), and because quinoa is cheap and budgets for volunteer accomodation in Ecuador are very, very minimal. Ironically, quinoa is considerably cheaper than white rice in markets there, an explanation for which can be summarized as: white rice is a symbol of affluence, associated with developed nations, and quinoa is a symbol of poverty. I also ate oatmeal with chopped mango and papaya for breakfast, because the walk to the school I worked at involved a few miles (much of which was an uphill climb). I didn’t consider myself any less healthy for eating some grain, or any less vegan for eating the vegetables out of a soup made with chicken broth and subtly handing the broth to my ex-boyfriend to make it look as if I ate it all (to avoid offending the person who prepared the soup and so generously offered it to me). Living/volunteering abroad is material for its own article, so moving on…there was also the time when I had to taste-test every item on the menu at the restaurant I worked at in college (as was required of all employees). Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem, since at most restaurants the majority of dishes are not vegan. At this one on the other hand, every single wrap, panini, salad, and beverage could be adapted to accomodate vegan customers. For example, cheese could almost always be replaced with hummus, aoili with veganaise (actually, come to think of it, there was a vegan aoili), milk with soymilk, cream with coconut milk…and all of the breads/wraps were vegan by default. Looking back on that time, I recall my then-significant other coming in handy in this situation also (I would order the wrap or panini to-go, take a bite to say I’d tried it, and he was happy for the free lunch–and I’d eat an apple or have another coffee or something). Thanks, ____, for bailing me out of eating wheat (and chicken broth).

Anyway, I thought this post required a detailed backstory in order to express my deep, profound love for blended vegetable soups. The recipes I’ve created or adapted are very low calorie (to put that in context, I think they’d measure in at 0 Weight Watchers points, or would be considered “negative calories” by some diet philosophies). Sadly, most blended soups offered at restaurants contain unneccessary ingredients like heavy cream, and the vegan ones often have a coconut milk base (which is totally unnecessary, and tastes revolting once you start making your own without it). I cannot stress this enough: a “creamy” texture and body can be achieved very easily through the utilization of cooked carrots and kale or collard greens. Even Indian dahl–which is normally lentil-based, is defined by the spices (FYI–cooked carrots and/or cauliflower or green beans provide the same texture as lentils, + more vitamins, minus the carbs. Get the spice ratio right, and the difference is undecipherable).

Don’t get me wrong–I don’t mean to imply I’m a hater of coconut milk. To the contrary–I wish the rest of the world would jump on the dairy-free alt-cream bandwagon. Even Thai restaurants, bubble-tea shops, and Asian bakeries in Chinatowns in cities across the United States, have abandoned coconut milk in favor of dairy cream (a fact saturated with irony–considering that in the traditional cuisine of most Asian cultures, dairy is nill). Example: my friend took me to a creek-side Thai restaurant in the heart of Ashland, Oregon (where roughly 60% of the population doesn’t eat dairy) for my birthday last year, and we ordered Stoli-infused thai iced teas with coconut milk substituted for heavy cream (my idea, since the presence of coconut milk in the kitchen was a no-brainer) and for each $9 cocktail $3 was added to the bill ($24 for weak cocktails was–even though I wasn’t responsible for the tab–kind of a buzzkill…on principle). After that night, I decided to stop relying on cashews or tahini for a “creamy” texture in the soups and salad dressings I make. Now that I’ve stopped, both seem much too rich…a flavor/texture that leaves me unsatisfied because the “creaminess” dulls the natural richness of the vegetables and the kick provided by the meticulously calculated spice-salt-stevia ratio. To prove this theory, I utilized my NutriBullet (BTW any food processor or blender will work, just maybe not as quickly) to re-create all of the blended soups I’ve tried over the years and loved at restaurants around the world. Each example includes a description of where and when I discovered the soup, and how to eliminate the empty calories (sugar and fat) while achieving the same (if not more satisfying) flavor profile.

Curried Carrot Soup

Paleo Carrot Soup Continue Reading

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Main Dishes

Mushroom ragu with spaghetti squash

I recently updated my Instagram for iPhone app to 3.2, the latest version. According to the Instagram blog, improvements have been made to the camera in terms of speed and accuracy and the tilt-shift feature allows for a more realistic depth of field. Another new feature is “Willow,” a monochrome filter with “subtle purple tones” and a “translucent glowing white border.” Intrigued, I decided to test out the revamped app by using it (as opposed to my Nikon) to photograph dinner on New Year’s Eve. It was somewhat of a challenge to achieve satisfactory results, mainly due to lack of natural light. But with many filters to choose from and the addition of a high-quality tilt-shift feature, the images were easy to manipulate. Overall, I’m pleased with the result and look forward to using Instagram for other projects. The new features make the Instagram camera seem less like an app and more like a real camera.

The subject of my Instagram photography is Mushroom ragu, an adaptation of the recipe featured in the December 2003 issue of Vegetarian Times. In the original recipe the ragu is served over polenta. To make this a paleo friendly dish, I served it over spaghetti squash instead.

Mushroom Ragu

Mushroom Ragu

Olive oil spray
2 large onions, diced
4 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh parsley, minced
1 ½ lbs. crimini mushrooms, sliced
½ pound shitake mushrooms, sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup dry red wine
1 (one) 28-oz. can organic tomatoes, diced in tomato juice
3 Tbs. tomato paste
1 cup organic vegetable stock (Trader Joe’s “Hearty” or other brand)
3 oz. sundried tomatoes, julienne cut (without oil or juice)
1 (one) 6-oz can medium green olives (drained weight), pitted and coarsely chopped


A post shared by Kelsey (@paleoveganista) on

Lightly spray oil in cast iron skillet. Add onions and saute for 10 minutes. Add rosemary, garlic and parsley; saute for another five minutes. Add half of crimini mushrooms, half of shitaki mushrooms and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Stir over medium-high heat until mushrooms are browned.

Sauteed mushrooms

Transfer this batch of mushrooms to an oven-proof 8 x 13 casserole dish. Cook remaining mushrooms until browned; add to mixture in casserole dish. Without cleaning cast iron skillet, pour in red wine. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and vegetable stock; cook over medium heat about 10 minutes. Add sundried tomatoes and green olives and cook another five minutes.

Mushroom Ragu in Cast Iron Skillet

Add ragu to casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes at 325°F, or wait until the spaghetti squash is prepped and ready to bake for 15 minutes at 325°F so both are ready to serve at the same time.

Whole Uncut Spaghetti Squash

Baked Spaghetti Squash

Bake whole, uncut squash at 375°F for about an hour, or until it soft enough that the skin can be pierced easily without effort. Set aside and let cool for 5 minutes. Slice the squash in half lengthwise.

Baked Spaghetti Squash

Then remove the seeds with a fork and scrape the “flesh” (for lack of a better word) from the shell and place in a baking dish or oven pan.

Baked Spaghetti Squash in oven pan

Return the squash to the oven and bake with the ragu for 15 minutes at 325°F.

Baked Spaghetti Squash

Serve ragu over spaghetti squash with a side of spinach or greens of choice.

Ragu with Spaghetti Squash

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