Saturday, May 29, 2021

My Favorite Homemade Salad Dressing-Vegan, oil-free, gluten-free

Food, Dressing, Salad

I'm loving my new favorite salad dressing. I haven't given it a name yet, but it's really tasty, sweet and tangy, and quick and easy to make.

It's amazing how you can make a flavorful delicious salad dressing without using oil- which really cuts back on the calories (if that's a concern). 

Sauces, Sauce, Mustard, Mayonnaise

I used three ingredients: Dijon mustard, minced white or red minced onions, and a Hoisin Sauce (I used a gluten-free brand). 

The Dijon mustard is tangy, the Hoisin sauce is sweet, and the minced onions are pungent. Together the three create a delicious tasting dressing for salads or vegetables.

 It is simple and easy to make and the low calories and low fat.

Hand, Kitchen Equipment, Whisk, Cooking
I use a small bowl or ramekin, a mini whisk, and make it fresh each time I need salad dressing. However, I have also made a larger quantity and added it to a little Salad dressing bottle. When I make a larger quantity, I can use a blender and add 1/2 teaspoon of water.

Food, Dressing, Salad
Just for the record
Dijon mustard has zero calories and Hoisin sauce has 25 calories per tablespoon as opposed to olive oil which has 120 calories per tablespoon and most people use two tablespoons- at least. Oil really packs on the calories- so I try to be creative and find salad dressings that are oil-free and thus low calories and fat.  Onions pack some healthy antioxidants and are low in calories as well.

For those who are not concerned about calories but still are looking for something that tastes good, this simple but delicious salad dressing won't disappoint. 

Since I make it fresh each time I want to eat it, this recipe only serves one. 

Salad, Lettuce, Mixed Salad, Beetroot

However, you can increase the recipe to serve multiple people-directions at the end of the post for a larger quantity of dressing.  

2 tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce (check for a gluten-free variety)
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard 
1 tablespoon of minced white or red onion

Whisk ingredients together until smooth. Drizzle over salad

For multiple people: 
3/4  cup of Hoisin sauce 
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard (or to taste)
2 tablespoons of minced red or white onion
1 teaspoon of water 
Whisk and add to a pourable bottle or for this larger quantity- or blend in the blender. 

Health and Nutrition Notes:
1. My mission on this blog is to encourage/inspire healthier eating by providing suggestions and recipes.  

2. See my time saving (link) tips for prepping salads to save you time and energy if you want to eat a fresh salad everyday.

3. If you doctor agrees, eat at least 9 servings of plant-based foods a day- such as salads, vegetables, whole grains, beans or lentils. Plant-based foods are where you get the greatest amount of fiber to help keep your bowels cleansing regularly from daily ingested toxins, antioxidants to help protect against degenerative diseases such as cancer and heart disease, and nutrients to nourish the cells. (Did you know that meat, chicken, and fish, contain NO fiber and little or no antioxidants? )

**Studies indicate that antioxidants (which are found in plant-based foods) help protect our bodies against the deleterious effects of free radicals. 

Quotes about antioxidants(which defend) and free radicals (which attack)-

1. "Antioxidants are substances that play a role in preventing or at least delaying the effects of cell damage."  

2. "While a young body can produce enough antioxidants to quench free radicals, as the body ages its antioxidant defenses eventually cannot keep up with the constant generation of free radicals."  

3. "Free radicals cause oxidative stress by triggering various types of cell damage that influence cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. "

4.  "Antioxidants, commonly found in fruits and vegetables, can improve health."

4. I like to watch inspiring Youtube Videos that support and give great suggestions for a healthy plant-based lifestyle to increase my consumption of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables and bring my body to a healthy weight naturally. One of my favorite videos are Plantiful-Kiki who is a joy to watch. She has lost and maintained a 70 pound weight loss and totally eliminated her high cholesterol and high triglycerides, pre-diabetes, obesity, hormonal problems and a host of other conditions. She shares suggestions, ideas, and recipes on her Youtube channel. Watch her to the end for the best ideas. 

This post is shared on Weekend Cooking at the Intrepid Reader and Baker  where anyone can share a food related post.

This post is also shared on Souper Sunday where anyone can share a soup, sammie, or salad recipe.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Vegan "Cheese" Sauce- Oil-Free

Nachos, Cheese, Food, Dish, Melted Cheese, Mexican

Cheese Sauce Anyone? 

Vegans don't eat cheese, but they do eat plant-based creamy sauces made entirely from vegetables and nutritional yeast (which tastes cheesy). It's uncanny how much a creamy sauce can mimic the "look of cheese sauce" and be used for dips, nachos, and toppings for vegetables. 

Snack, Dish, Food, Spread, Dip, Bread

I made this sauce from a base of potatoes and carrots. You have to trust me on this one. Together with spices and some nutritional yeast (which many say tastes like cheese), might fool even the most discriminating cheese lover. (I said it might). 

Nachos, Snack, Kcal, Calories, Fast Food
In addition, this type of sauce enhances and adds a richness as a topping for ordinary vegetables including potatoes. 

There are many people who have high cholesterol or heart disease. They may have been told by their doctor to eliminate cheese. This may be a workable alternative in such a situation.

This is how I would use this type of sauce. 
For example- try filling a baked potato with chopped broccoli, fresh salsa and this "cheese" sauce- YUM! 

If you are not vegan but need to cut back on dairy or cholesterol laden foods, this sauce might work for you too. 

Ok- truthfully it's a far stretch for me to say it tastes like cheese- it looks like cheese sauce and provides a flavorful sauce when needed. Some feel it's a match for cheese- I don't. However, I still do like it.

I've seen this type of cheese on many WFPB sites- sometimes its made with cashew nuts as a base and sometimes it is made with just the potatoes as a base. It's always basically a similar recipe. 
This is what I did for my "cheese sauce."

2 cups of peeled diced potatoes
1 and 1/2 cups of diced organic carrots 
2 cups of water for steaming (save the water)
1/2 cup of unfortified nutritional yeast 
1 teaspoon of garlic powder 
1 teaspoon of onion powder 
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
optional: 1/2 teaspoon (or more) of chili powder 
salt if you desire 

Place potatoes and carrots in a steamer basket in a saucepan. Add 2 cups of water, bring to a boil and turn the heat to a simmer. Cover and allow to steam until potatoes and carrots are soft. Remove potatoes and carrots, but save the water. 
Add potatoes and carrots to a blender. Add the spices, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast. Add 1 cup of the reserved water and blend. Add a little more water if needed. 

1. Recipes after February 2021 my recipes are all oil-free and most previous recipes can be adapted to eliminate the oil. For example, I have found that if a recipe says to saute in olive oil, I can sauté in vegetable broth or a hot pan with a little water.
Olive Oil, Olives, Food, Oil, Natural

** I have eliminated using oil because oil is extremely caloric and offers no essential fiber and limited nutrients. In fact, many doctors suggest any kind of oil may not really be good for the heart. 
Good fats from Whole Foods such as  avocado, olives, nuts, and seeds offer not only substantial amounts of fiber but also healthy nutrients. Many doctors now recommend skipping the oil and eating the whole food fats such as those mentioned above.

I have not noticed a significant difference in my cooking by eliminating oil except when roasting vegetables. 

2. My recipes are always gluten-free 

3. Most of my recipes are dairy free and vegan especially after 2020. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Scalloped Potatoes -vegan and gluten-free

scalloped potatoes

I've always loved scalloped potatoes. They are so creamy and delicious. 
I made this recipe to take to a pot luck and everyone seemed to enjoy it. However, I forgot to take a final photo when the potatoes were nice and creamy. Sorry. 

I like to add frozen peas to my recipe. I like the additional of a little greens in the dish.

Peas, Veggies, Frozen, Vegetarian

Over the years, I have modified my recipe to eliminate some of the high fat ingredients. Despite this recipe being dairy-free, I think you will find it is delicious. I substituted corn starch for cream. It was creamy, dairy-free, and lower in calories thank cream.

Agriculture, Food, Fresh, Group, Harvest

It is a simple recipe that can be made rather quickly. It was a perfect side dish. 

1 cup of chopped onion
2 teaspoons of flour ( I used gluten-free chickpea flour)
5 large golden potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon of cornstarch 
2 cups of vegetable broth-divided
1 cup of frozen peas 
1 teaspoon of garlic powder 
1 teaspoon of onion powder 
1/2  teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of amino acids (or tamari sauce )
1 teaspoon of herbs de Provence 

Add chopped onions to a preheated hot skillet. Sauté and for 1 minute and then add 1/4 cup of vegetable broth. Sauté an additional 1 minute, stirring. In a separate bowl combine 1 cup of vegetable broth, cornstarch, and amino acids. Stir well and add the cornstarch mixture to the skillet. Add sliced potatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and herbs de Provence. Stir well and coat the potatoes well. add remained of vegetable broth (3/4 cup) and frozen peas, cover, and cook on low for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Beyond Vincent Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit

Landscape, Scene, Scenic, Nature

The Beyond Van Gogh Immersive art exhibition at the Ice Palace Studio in Miami was quite a memorable experience that left me mesmerized after seeing this 360 degree digital art extravaganza.

I've never actually seen anything like it. It's so worth seeing and I understand that this exciting exhibit will be in cities across the US as well as Asia, Europe, and the Americas. 

Post Impressionist, Post Impressionism

The life and artwork of the Dutch master, Vincent Van Gogh, was spectacularly projected on the huge surround walls along with exhilarating music, letters that Van Gogh wrote to his brother over many years of correspondence, and quips about his life. The experience transformed me to a different time and place. 

You must watch the trailer that I posted from Youtube from the Toronto Exhibition at the end of this post.

You will be mesmerized. 

Vincent Van Gogh, Oil Painting, Artist

His classic work seemed to crawl up the walls almost being painted right in front of you. Splashes of colors emerged into Van Gogh masterpieces with portraits that seemed to blink if you stared at them long enough. 

It was a unique and unforgettable stunning experience. 

I believe the exhibit is traveling around the United States. Watch the following trailer. It is amazing.

Covid Precautions: 
The exhibit in Miami that I attended limited the amount of people that could enter and the rooms at one time and each ticket holder had a specific time to enter. At the time I went in April 2021, everyone was wearing a mask and the rooms were very large allowing for spacious social distancing. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats with blackberries

Overnight oats, or it could be called no cook overnight oatmeal, is not only super convenient, it is super nutritious and delicious. 


If you feel that your breakfasts could be healthier, overnight oats may solve your problem. Oatmeal is highly recommended by doctors and nutritionists because oats may help lower cholesterol, keep you regular, and help stabilize blood sugar. In fact, I've heard some doctors say it may be good to eat some oatmeal everyday!

Oats, Oat, Breakfast, Healthy, Tomorrow

This basic recipe contains lots of healthy plant-based protein, lots of fiber, good fats, and valuable nutrients. It's a super breakfast that is convenient and taste great. Eat in cold or warm it up (I eat mine cold).
Walnut, Bowl, Healthy, Food, Breakfast

I use simple rolled oats.   Of course the brand I purchase is certified gluten-free. Please note: Oats are naturally gluten-free, however they also may cross contaminate if grown near wheat or processed in a factory that processes wheat. Therefore to be safe, I always purchase oats that are certified gluten-free. 

Soft Fruits, Blueberries, Raspberries
So excited about my overnight soaked oats because they taste so darn  good. There is only a basic and you can use whatever ingredients you prefer. 

No more excuses! This is a very healthy breakfast that is easy and convenient! It's ready when you are and it can be a "grab and go" as well.. 

Porridge, Breakfast, Vegan, Oatmeal, Chia

Kids Love It Too!
Kids can help or make their own overnight oats the night before. They love it because they get to choose their favorite ingredients. The great part is that in the morning a healthy delicious breakfast is already prepared and just waiting for them. 

The Basic Recipe 
3/4 cup of uncooked rolled oats (I use gluten-free)
1 and 1/4 cups of almond milk ( I use the 30 calorie one)
Berries (1/2 cup of blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries)
1/2 sliced banana or sliced kiwi 
1/2 teaspoon (or more) cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric 
Other spices of your choice (I like a pinch or two or cardamom or a teaspoon or unsweetened cocoa)
1 teaspoon of ground flax seed or chia seeds
2 walnuts, chopped

Use a wide mouth mason jar or any wide mouthed jar. Add rolled oats, nut milk, spices, seeds, and chopped nuts. Add berries and fruit of choice. I like cover with a lid and store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. You can eat it with a spoon directly out of the jar cold or warm it up if you prefer.

My Notes: 
1. Time Saver: Make multiple jars at a time. This recipe will last for three days in the refrigerator. 
2. Snack: Overnight oats are great to keep in the refrigerator as a quick healthy tasty snack too. 
3. After School Snack: Overnight oats are a nutritious after school snack. 
4. Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free ( do not use soy milk if you want it to be soy free- use almond or cashew milk)

Friday, May 14, 2021

A Peek At My Week

I just finished reading a non-fiction science based book by Dr. Jon McDougall called The Starch Solution which extols the benefits of eating starchy vegetables such sweet potatoes and white potatoes and starchy whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, etc. 

I also read  How Not to Die  by Dr. Greger who has a free website at with a wealth of information and a video library about healthy eating for heart health and weight loss and health in general. He has videos on Youtube and he also has a book called, How Not to Diet. I like his nutrition suggestions on his video , The Daily Dozen.

Both diets promote a whole food plant-based diet and suggest ways to help normalize weight, promote excellent health, and even reverse disease.  

I adhere to the suggestions from both of these doctors and lots of other docs I didn't mention but to lose weight I am following the Starch Solution which has allowed me to eat lots of healthy carbs, lose weight, and reduce my fasting blood sugars from 112-116 every morning to about 89 - 94 every morning ( It took 3 months). I'll be reporting on my cholesterol levels soon.

Eating carbohydrates  has become very unpopular in the US  partially because of the popularity of the Atkins diet introduced the 1970's and popularized in 1990's, the Keto diet in the 1920's for epilepsy control and became popular in the last 10 years,  and Paleo diet introduced the 1970's and also gained popularity in the late 1990's. 

Diets which are high in fat and protein but low in carbohydrates and are the opposite of a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet which is the diet of choice of many well respected doctors and especially cardiologists.  Read an excellent article about  18 doctors that drive the Whole Food Plant-Based Food Movement.
Reading The Starch Solution led me to research other articles, Youtube presentations, and other books and websites that all promote a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet.. I was led to read The Starch Solution after seeing the enlightening and amazing video on Youtube of of Plantiful Kiki 's experience .  

Kiki lost 70 pounds by eating a whole food plant-based high starch diet. I literally found tons of videos on Youtube by others who did the same. Brittany Jaroudy a success story from Forks Over Knives website . 
And Brittany has a website and a Youtube channel just like Kiki- Although, the information I was reading originally seemed contrary to everything I had been taught to  believe, I began to understand the science behind it from watching videos from many of the doctors.

10 weeks ago, a close friend and I said we are going to try this way of eating Whole Foods Plant-Based diet that I was familiarized from Plantiful Kiki 's experience.  Being a vegetarian, it was an easier for me to make the switch . Yet, my close friend, who was a devoted meat eater, made the switch and is very happy with her menus, her 33 pound weight loss in 3 months, and most of all her amazing renewed energy! 

My experience, my close friend's experience and the testimonials of hundreds of ordinary people who share their success stories of recovering from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancers, and a myriad of other ailments such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, bloating, IBS, Chrone's disease, etc. have all benefited and regained their energy and health following a high carbohydrate, low fat, oil-free diet.  

You can read testimonials oForks Over Knives and  McDougall Website  I am linking to two sites, there are many more on the World Wide Web. 

One of the most convincing programs I watched on Youtube was presented by Suny Downstate Medical School in Brooklyn, New York which sponsored many medical doctors, who have published articles in medical journals,  to speak at a conference. 

I was fascinated by the work of Dr. Katz who spoke about 20 minutes into the presentation ( You can fast forward to that point

Also the work Dr. Michael Klaper in a Youtube video called : Olive Oil Is Bad For You

 which is an eye opening video and the thoughts are shared by many other medical doctors including cardiologists. 

The information is not new, but it is considered cutting-edge because it is finally being publicized by medical doctors including board certified cardiologists, internists, surgeons, and researchers., 

How many people do you know with heart disease or Type 2 diabetes that have been successful reversing their diseases with the medicine and diet prescribed to them. Usually they are able to just manage, not reverse. 

Yes, I know it is hard to understand because we have been taught to believe otherwise.  But I think you will be hearing more and more about the benefits of high starch low fat eating in the future - 

Reading List
1. How Not to Die- Dr. Greger
2. How Not to Diet- Dr. Greger
3. The China Study- T. Campbell
4. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease - Dr. Esselstyn
5. The Starch Solution - Dr. McDougall
6. Reversing Diabetes- Dr. Neal Barnard
7. The Pleasure Trap- Doug Lisle
8. Amazing Documentary: Forks over Knives ( you have to rent it)

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and am not trying to give medical advice. I am simply sharing information that I found on the Internet or in books that worked for me. ALWAYS check with your medical doctor before making any changes in your lifestyle or diet. 

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Amazon and I am compensated if you make a qualified purchase when you follow links from my blog.  This helps defray the costs of hosting a free blog.  I thank you for your support. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Quinoa Confetti Salad


Are you a quinoa lover? 

This colorful quinoa confetti salad, trimmed in curly red lettuce, is a tasty salad for a spring or summer day.

I often make quinoa and use it as a simple warm side dish, a filling for stuffed peppers, or as an addition to a salad. 

quinoa salad
The chopped salad, the quinoa, chickpeas, and red curly lettuce around the sides topped with red onion slices. 

I brought this healthy salad to a Mother's Day luncheon today.

Quinoa is a light gluten-free grain/seed that is high in protein, fiber, all 9 amino acids, and vitamins and minerals which rightfully earns the name "superfood". Consumed for hundreds of years in South America by the Incas, it has now become a popular food in the US. 

The salad base before I added nuts, quinoa, and chickpeas

I diced up cucumber, red pepper, parsley, black olives, celery, green onion, and red onion. I then tossed it in a salad with chickpeas blanched almonds, and cooked quinoa- making it a high protein vegan meal. 

Quinoa comes in three colors: white, red, black.. the white is the lightest and I like it best in salads. 

Need to know an easy way to cook quinoa so it always comes out fluffy and perfect? Follow my link for perfect quinoa 

cooked quinoa
Cooked White Quinoa

Quinoa, Salad, Vegetarian, Diet, Gourmet
The Dressing- 
I use freshly squeezed lemon juice- period.
Personally, I have stopped using oil in my diet. For those following my blog, this explanation will be repetitious. 
I don't use oil because I am following the advice of many board certified plant-based doctors and cardiologists who say oil is a highly caloric food that does not contain fiber or nutrients.-in other words it helps make you fat! (I know- there is lots of controversy around that issue)  However, until you hear their side of the story, I wouldn't be convinced that it is so good for you. 

These doctors suggest it is better to eat fat in its whole form of nuts, olives, avocado etc. 

2 cups of chopped cucumber
2 cups of chopped red pepper 
2 cups of chopped celery
1/4 cup of sliced black olives
3/4 cup of chopped curly parsley
1/2 cup of chopped red onion 
1/4 cup of chopped green onion
3 cups of cooked quinoa, room temperature
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
Optional: 1/4 cup of blanched almonds 

Juice of 1 lemon
optional: 1/4 cup of olive oil mixed with the lemon juice

Mix together the cucumber, red pepper, celery, black olives, parsley, red onion,  and green onion. Add cooked quinoa, chickpeas, and balanced almonds if desired and toss. Decorate with lettuce leaves and slices of red onion. Dress with freshly squeezed lemon juice or a lemon and olive oil dressing if you eat oil. 

Sharing on Souper Sunday where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sammie recipe.