Quick Whole Food Snacks To Have On Hand:

Whole fruits and fruit salad

Raw Vegetable sticks or sliced, in separate containers ready to go.

Thinly sliced root vegetables, tossed with aminos or a little olive or coconut oil spray, baked until crispy chips

Dates stuffed with a whole almond or pecan or nut butter and kept frozen. This is like caramel candy.

Trail mix– combine nut and seeds mixture with chopped dried fruits, cacao nibs and coconut flakes, optionally season with spices, cayenne and salt

Kale chips– Tear leaves off the stem, massage with olive oil or aminos and sprinkle with herbs/spices, salt and toss. Or for a sweet salty chip toss with a teaspoon of coconut sugar and salt. Bake at 300 for 15 minutes, turn and bake another 5-10 checking so they don’t burn. If you have a dehydrator, dry overnight.

Popcorn – toss with 1 T each of coconut oil and maple syrup, sprinkle with cinnamon

Popcorn – toss with coconut aminos and nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor

Spiced nuts/seeds – toss choice of nuts/seeds with coconut aminos, garlic powder and cayenne or a little maple syrup and water, sprinkled with cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and pepper, bake at 325 until dry and crisp.

 Fruit Sorbet – 1 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen cherries or berries, ¼ cup dairy free milk blended together on high speed until smooth, thick and creamy soft serve texture. Use a food processor if you don’t have a high speed blender.

Green Minestrone

I like pasta and broth and this soup is light. but packs a nutritional punch with the addition of kale, zucchini and peas.

I use gluten free pasta, kinnikinik brand because it sees to hold together best of the ones I’ve tried. But if you have a favorite, go with it. If you’re staying away from pasta all together, just omit it from the recipe or add a whole grain like barley or farro.

Let me know if you give it a try.

Green Minestrone

This is a light and refreshing take on traditional minestrone.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: gluten free,, plant-based, sugar-free, vegan
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • dutch oven
  • knife

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic minced
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1 bunch kale stemmed, chopped
  • 1 can garbanzo beans drained
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free penne pasta

Instructions

  • Prepare the vegetables.
  • Add a splash of water to a dutch oven and bring up to medium heat. Add the zucchini, garlic, oregano and basil to the pot.
  • Then add the broth, beans, peas and pasta, cover the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cook for 5 minutes, stir and add the kale. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Test the pasta for doneness. Remove soup from heat when the pasta is to your liking.

Immune Vinegar

This is a type of Fire Cider. Use this vinegar as a remedy for cold and flu, taking it by the teaspoon or preferably, mix with olive oil and use as a vinaigrette daily with salad or as a finish for cooked vegetables.

To make 2 cups of herbal vinegar tincture you will need:

  • 3 T minced onion and garlic
  • 3 T grated fresh ginger (or 1 T powder or 3 dropd ess oil)
  • 3 T grated turmeric root (1 T dried powder)
  • 3 T fresh horseradish (or 1 T prepared)
  • 3 T mustard seeds (or 1 tsp powder)
  • 3 T black peppercorns (or 2 drops ess oil)
  • 1 or more whole cayenne chilies (or 1 tsp. dried chili flakes)
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of honey

To make the herbal vinegar, mince the onion and garlic and put in a pint jar. Grate the ginger and horseradish and add them to the jar. Add the mustard seeds, peppercorns and chilies. Stir them all together. Pour vinegar over the mixture to fill the jar. There should be about 1 inch of liquid space above the other ingredients. Cap with a plastic lid (since the vinegar will corrode a metal lid). Let the mixture sit for 2 weeks shaking the bottle daily to mix the herbs and the liquid. After two weeks, strain the mixture using cheesecloth so that you can squeeze the herbs to extract all of the liquid. You’re almost done with your herbal vinegar at this point.

Add the 1/3 cup of honey to help preserve your mixture. Pour into a clean jar and store it away in your cupboard. Use as a preventive during cold and flu season and to ease sore throat. Makes a delicious topping for salads and roasted vegetables.

*To make vinaigrette, combine equal parts vinegar and olive oil and shake well. Use over greens or as a finish over roasted or steamed vegetables.

IMPORTANT: Use a plastic lid OR a piece of plastic wrap under a metal lid when making an herbal vinegar. The vinegar reacts to metal.

*Use the mustard seeds and herbs after straining, to make hot mustard: blend with a little honey and water until smooth.

Fight Back Naturally

You can’t escape hearing about the Flu or Coronavirus right now. (My daughter lives in Beijing, China, so this is information I’ve sent to her as well.) But knowing that pathogens are always lurking and understanding what you can do to prevent infection is important to know. There are very effective means of fighting back naturally and building up your immune response. Obviously the following should be practiced:

  •  Frequently washing hands and nails with warm water and soap is important as is refraining from touching your face and eyes.
  • It’s okay to NOT shake hands, instead, show your jazz hands for a fun way to welcome someone.
  • Stay home if you don’t feel well and encourage others to do the same. Do not send achy and feverish kids to school.
  • Drinking a lot of water is beneficial in keeping you hydrated and flushing of toxins. Warm/hot water is especially helpful in reducing viruses in the throat area, so try warming teas, or hot lemon water.

Doesn’t it make sense to boost our immune systems rather than relying on vaccines or treatments after we catch something. Did you know food significantly impacts the immune system’s response against pathogens?  For starters, sugar and refined grains can actually depress the immune system for 4-6 hours (that’s with just 1 T sugar). So, eliminating foods made with refined flours and sugar can allow for better immune response. Also, dairy products are often mucus forming, which becomes a favorable environment for pathogen growth. Eew!  You don’t want to make it comfy for them.

Thankfully, some foods have specific immune modulating effects and increasing their consumption during the times when your immune systems are bombarded can reduce your susceptibility and improve our risks of getting sick.

Some of these foods include, garlic, onion, ginger, and medicinal mushrooms. Incorporating them into meals is ideal. See a Chimichurri bowl here.  But also focusing on foods high in vitamin C, zinc, selenium, antioxidants and probiotics are key to supporting the immune system. See this immune boosting tea.

Try to incorporate foods that contain specific Immune boosting nutrients:

  • Vitamin C is important for immune, antioxidant, cellular function. Food sources: peppers, broccoli, berries, mangoes, rose hips, cranberries, cherries, citrus
  • Zinc enhances the immune system and may reduce the intensity of cold symptoms as well as the duration of colds. Plant Food sources: lentils, peas, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, raw cacao
  •  Selenium is important for many functions in body including the formation of the master antioxidant, glutathione, and proper thyroid hormone conversion, and immune system function. Plant food sources: Brazil nuts, mushrooms, mustard seed, chia, oats, goji berries, sesame seeds, lentils, carob
  •  Phytonutrients are so important for boosting immune system and the darker the color the higher the nutrient density available. “Eat the Rainbow”   Food sources: sweet potato, red and yellow peppers, dark leafy greens, red cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, beets, squash, berries
  • Probiotics found in gut influence the immune system, so making sure you have a good population is important. Acidophilus and bifido-bacterium make a big difference in immune response and recovery time – Food sources:  kefir, active cultures yogurt, miso, tempeh, raw krauts and pickles, cultured vegetables and fruits.

There are also specific foods that have direct immune boosting and anti-pathogenic properties:

Shiitake mushrooms possess benefits ranging from anti-cancer to immunity-boosting and stress relief.  Also in China and Japan, they are a long standing remedy for colds and flu.  Shiitake mushrooms add a delicious meaty flavor to soups and dishes.

Garlic is a strong antimicrobial food and boosts the immune system. Garlic has a full spectrum effect as antibiotic, anti-virusal, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic. It’s important for colds AND flu.  Garlic is most potent if chopped or crushed and allowed to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before eating. This significantly increases the amount of allicin it produces. Allicin is the component responsible for its powerful affects. Try it in hummus, pesto, garlic paste on toast or Juice it and add it to other juices, or make this Immune Vinegar.

Onions are natural sources of quercetin, a bioflavonoid that has shown to suppress the rhinoviruses which are the underlying cause of the common cold. Add to vegetable sautes, salads, soups and roasted vegetables or heat on med low heat to caramelize and use as a topping for almost anything…so good.

  •  Onion honey cough syrup – Cut onion into slices, place in a jar, cover with raw honey and allow to sit overnight (8 hours), strain off onions and seal, jar keeping in fridge for a month.  Onion and honey are active against microbes and pathogens commonly found in the throat or pharynx and often associated with sore throats or infections that cause cough.

Ginger is a spicy root that can promote digestion, quell nausea, lessen headaches, reduce pain, fight intestinal infections, and is particularly famous for treating cold and flu. Ginger can be stewed in boiling water to make ginger tea. Use 2 tablespoons ginger powder in bath to induce sweating and break a fever, while sipping ginger/mint tea.

Certain supplements may also help, look at adding a vitamin D3 and zinc for fighting infections and improving immune response. But remember whole foods provide many more nutritional cofactors and phytonutrients that help nutrients work optimally and improve the body’s assimilation of those nutrients.  To ensure you get plenty of immune-boosting nutrients, eat  fruits and vegetables, fresh or frozen. Eat vegetables raw or lightly steam them for best nutritional density.  Avoid frying anything as this introduces harmful free radicals that increase your toxins and inflammation.

Herbs and spices are also helpful agents against the cold and flu. Try different herbal teas, but the following have historically been used in these circumstances:

  • Fever:  Ginger, mint or catnip teas
  • Cough/sore throat:  Throat coat tea*, single or blend of Chamomile/slippery elm/licorice/marshmallow root, lemon and honey tea, or thyme tea
  • Flu: Echinacea/golden seal, green, garlic, or ginger tea

 Green Tea is known to help prevent flu and the common cold. Catechins, the same compounds that are responsible for green tea’s weight loss promoting properties, have been shown to inhibit the activity of the common cold adenovirus as well as certain influenza viruses. To maximize the release of catechins, add a bit of lemon juice or other vitamin C rich juice to your tea

Golden milk has some powerful herbs and spices that are great immune modulators: turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper in warm plant milk. See recipe HERE

Rose Hips are high in vitamin C, and great if used in teas, smoothies, cooked into pies and cobblers. Reconstitute dried hips with warm water.

Essential oils are another natural source for fighting pathogens. Many oils have pathogenic properties. Here are a few to consider: Eucalyptus oil, Thyme, Rosemary, and Wild Oregano.

You can help your body fight effectively against whatever-is-going-around by using foods, herbs and spices and essential oil that naturally have anti-pathogenic and immune boosting properties. I hope this information helps with your strategy to stay healthy this time of year.

Mushroom Bolognese

Italian cuisine is a favorite for plant-based meals. When I come across ways to pack in extra veggies, I will always try. This sauce is perfect for adding in extra veggies and it can be used in so many ways.

Try it with lentil walnut loaf balls, crumble in some tofu, ladled over rice or pasta, or especially good over roasted spaghetti squash.

Mushroom Bolognese

A veggie packed sauce that is wonderful on gluten free penne pasta or roasted spaghetti squash.
Prep Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: gluten free,, plant-based, sugar-free, vegan
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • dutch oven
  • knife
  • food processor (optional)

Ingredients

  • 2 cup yellow onion chopped
  • 1 cup carrots about 3
  • 1 cup celery 2-3 stalks
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 (15 oz.) can fire roasted tomatoes diced with juices
  • 1 Tbsp tamari
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat, when hot add 2 tablespoons of water along with the onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add carrots, celery and mushrooms stirring to combine and cook until all become a bit tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in tomato paste and 1/2 cup of water, followed by remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  • While sauce is cooking, prepare pasta, rice or roast a spaghetti squash.
  • When sauce has thickened a bit, serve over your choice of starch.

Notes

To make light work of the chopping, cut the onion, carrots, celery  and mushrooms into similar sized chunks and place in a food processor and pulse each until finely chopped. there's no need to wipe out container between ingredients. 
If you'd like the sauce to be more "saucey" and less chunky, process half of the cooked sauce in the food processor until smooth and add back to remaining sauce.

Lentil Walnut Loaf

I’ve tried several different meatless loafs and this one that I adapted from Oh She Glows is my favorite at this point.

The lentil walnut mixture can be used to make meatless balls as well. Be sure to press the mixture together tightly when patting it into the loaf pan or into balls.  Try the balls with the mushroom Bolognese sauce or make the loaf slices into meatless loaf sandwiches, that are sure to bring back good childhood memories of grandma’s meatloaf sammy’s.

Lentil Walnut Loaf

This is a hearty plant-based loaf that really is delicious. Oats, flax and walnuts add texture and nutrient density. This recipe is adapted from Oh She Glows.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten free,, nuts, vegan
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • loaf pan
  • pot
  • food processor
  • mixing bowl
  • skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sweet onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup celery (2 -3 stalks) minced
  • 1 cup carrot (2-3) minced
  • 1/3 cup apple shredded
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1 cup oats
  • Pinch of cayenne optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  • Grease a 5X9 loaf pan. Add lentils to a pot and cover with water. Cook at a simmer for 25 minutes. then drain and add to a large bowl, mash them with a fork into a chunky paste.
  • While the lentils are cooking, warm oil in a skillet and add onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook stirring to prevent garlic from burning. Cook until onion and celery are tender, about 10 minutes, then stir in apple and herbs, stir for a couple minutes and remove from the heat.
  • In a food processor or blender, pulse the oats into a coarse flour, then add the walnuts and pulse on and off to break them into small bits.
  • Transfer the walnuts and oats to the lentils in the mixing bowl and add ground flax. Mix to combine.
  • Stir in the skillet veggie mixture and season to taste. If the mixture seems dry, add 2 tablespoons of water and mix well. Getting your hands into the mix can help to combine and soften the texture of the mixture, also making sure that the mixture will hold shape. Add more water if needed.
  • Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan and press firmly to form a loaf.
  • In a small bowl combine tomato paste and balsamic vinegar, mix well and spoon over the top of the loaf.
  • Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until edges are brown and its firm to the touch. Serve by the slice or crumble over salad.

Notes

To mince the carrots and celery quickly, roughly chop the carrots into large pieces and chunk the celery and add to a food processor and pulse until minced.  

 

Chocolate Swirl Cookies

These swirl cookies are pretty quick to put together. I adapted this from a recipe I saw on Audrey’s unconventionalbaker.com blog. I decided to use almond and tapioca flour along with a 5-seed butter. The flavor and texture is really nice. This recipe is definitely a keeper. You can change up the nut or seed butter to change up the flavor. This recipe makes 12-15 cookies.

  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons 5-seed butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch salt

Process the ingredients in a food processor until a dough is formed. If the dough is too sticky to roll out, sprinkle with a little more flour. If it is too dry to stick together, add a little more syrup. Scoop the dough onto a sheet of parchment and press into a disc. Let this rest while you make the chocolate dough, no need to clean the processor container.

  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons 5-seed butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch salt

Process everything in the food processor until it becomes a dough. Add a little more flour or maple syrup if the consistency needs adjusting. Scoop the dough onto a sheet of parchment and press into a disc. Cover with another piece of parchment and roll out into a rectangle of 1/4 in thickness. Remove top sheet and place on the vanilla dough and repeat, rolling into a rectangle of similar size and thickness.

Remove top parchment sheet and set aside. Take the sheet with the chocolate dough and flip it over onto the vanilla dough and remove the sheet of parchment paper. On the longest side of the rectangle, lift the bottom parchment sheet up and over using it to help roll both layers of dough into a log.

Use a serrated knife or a length of dental floss to cut through the dough into 1/4 inch slices. Lay the slices flat onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Let cool and then store in sealed container.

 

Pecan Fingers

These delicate cookies are a remake of the traditional buttery sugary cookie that was always one of my favorites. By replacing the sugar, butter and flour, you get a gluten free, sugar free, vegan delight.  Recipe makes about 20 cookies.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup organic vegan butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered monk fruit-erythritol blend, more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup almond flour or oat flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Whip the butter and olive oil together until emulsified and light. If you have crystallized and not powdered monk fruit, put a 1/2 cup in a blender and blend until powdered. Add 1/4 cup of the monk fruit and remaining flours and vanilla to the oil mixture and beat until completely combined and smooth. Stir in chopped pecans. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 . Using a small spoon, scoop and roll into short logs and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes in the middle of the oven, until lightly browned.

Habiscus Ginger Spritzer

  • 3 inches fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon hibiscus petals / tea bag
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ vanilla bean pod, seeds removed (always save empty pods for flavoring) optional
  • Honey
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • Sparkling water

Add water to a pan along with the ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla pod and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and add the hibiscus petals / tea bagcold .  Steep for ten minutes, remove hibiscus and let the tea cool completely with the other spices remaining in the water. Leaving the hibiscus in longer will strengthen the tartness of the tea; keep steeping it with the remaining spices if you want it really tangy.

Add honey to taste, start with 1 tablespoon and add more to your liking.  Drink as is or combine equal parts cold tea and sparkling water for a spritzer. Add frozen cranberries to garnish. Cheers!

Nutty Tahini Fudge

This is a delicious candy alternative and so easy to stir together. It takes a little time to set up in the freezer, but well worth the wait.  This is a treat that is gluten and dairy free. If nuts are something you avoid, add in chopped pumpkin or sunflower seeds for texture in place of the almonds.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons of cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons cacao butter or coconut oil
  • pinch of Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/3 dried cranberries or cherries (optional)

Melt the cacao butter or coconut oil in a mixing bowl over a pot of steaming water.  When melted, add the tahini, cacao powder, maple syrup and salt. Stir with a whisk to combine into until smooth. Then add in the chopped nuts and dried fruit, if using.

Line a small rimmed dish with parchment paper and pour in the mixture, smoothing out the top.

Chill in the freezer for two hours, cut and serve. Keep refrigerated. Fudge will last for two weeks in refrigerator, longer in the freezer.