I love cream soups. Cream of broccoli, cream of mushroom, cream of leek, but my ultimate favorite has always been: cream of tomato.

When I went vegan several years ago, it wasn’t even a challenge to continue making cream soups without dairy or other animal products. Everything can be veganized, and in my opinion, because the dish is rendered cruelty-free, it becomes even more nourishing and delicious.

In my cookbook, Cooking With Amore, I share with you my “quinoa method” for making soups thick and creamy. Simply by adding a small amount of quinoa, usually 1/2 cup or less, to the vegetables while they are cooking, and then blending the soup, the result will be a creamy vegan masterpiece.

I created quite a few of these quinoa-cream soups and included many in Cooking With Amore, but for some reasons, I had not yet attempted my favorite one of all: cream of tomato (fear of failure, perhaps?) This week, I thought it was time to get to work on that. When I sat down for dinner with my newly-created vegan tomato soup, I was so glad I finally did it.

I ended up eating three bowls! It made me think that a grilled cheese sandwich was all that was missing to make this meal sheer perfection. Daiya makes such delicious vegan cheeses of all kinds – I love their sliced cheese for making my grill cheeses. They even offer an amazing Grilled Cheese Cookbook as a free download!

In addition to the quinoa, I used a couple more ingredients to create a creamy taste and texture for this soup: potato, black beans and soy milk. These extra ingredients served not only to increase the nutrition of the soup, but also to effectively counter the acidity of the tomatoes. This is one challenge we have with cream of tomato versus other cream soups: the acidity of the tomato. But much like with tomato sauces, this is an issue we can easily address and balance out.

Here’s my recipe for a big batch of delicious, nourishing vegan cream of tomato soup. You can freeze some for later. I hope you enjoy it!

Cream of Tomato Soup


2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

4 small potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 1/2 cups of water (more if desired for less thickness)

12 small to medium ripe tomatoes

1 cup of cooked black beans

1/4 cup of quinoa

1 cup soy milk (optional, you can just add more water instead)

Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste

Optional garnish: chopped fresh cilantro, squirt of fresh lime


1. In a large pot, heat coconut oil. Add chopped onion, garlic and potatoes. Add 1/2 cup of water and allow to simmer slowly.

2. In order to remove the peel from the tomatoes, bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Drop tomatoes into boiling water one by one. After 1 to 2 minutes, remove from heat, drain the water and allow to cool. Once tomatoes are cool, peel off the skin and discard. Chop tomatoes and add to the simmering vegetables. Sprinkle some Himalayan salt. Once the onion and potatoes appear to be getting soft, add the black beans and quinoa. Add remaining water and let simmer.

4. Once the quinoa appears cooked, add soy milk or additional water. Turn off heat, and allow to cool.

5. Once cool, place a small batch of soup at a time into a blender and puree until thick and creamy. If you want to thin out the soup, add more water at any time. Mix all pureed batches together and reheat the portion you are ready to eat. Taste test to see if more salt is desired. Store the rest in the refrigerator or freezer.

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“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” ~Woodrow Wilson

It was brought to my attention that I have never shared a cold soup recipe. Well, it’s about time I do that! Here is a vibrant, refreshing summer soup which I adore.

Gazpacho is the name given to a type of soup which is served cold. It has Spanish roots and was originally tomato-based. The other vegetables and herbs added to the soup are usually raw. Because of its refreshing quality, it is a soup which is served in the summer months.

My gazpacho is watermelon-based. Watermelons are abundant this time of year. If you can, get an organic one – they taste even sweeter! Nothing feels like a summer feast more than a huge, organic watermelon! The basil I use here is also organic since it is from my own garden. If you have a small leaf variety of basil, it works best in this soup since it has a subtle taste – much less bold than the larger leaf varieties of basil. Any type of basil you like will do, however. If you choose to go with the red onion, that will add to the sweetness of the soup, whereas the white onion will slightly contrast the sweetness with its sharp, pungent flavor and aroma.

My Watermelon Basil Gazpacho is a lovely dish to serve on a hot summer’s day not only because it’s cooling, but also the combination of flavors makes it fun to eat when we are not in the mood for anything heavy. Another great thing about this soup is that it is quick to prepare and requires only 4 ingredients! Enjoy!

Maria’s Watermelon Basil Gazpacho


6 cups seeded watermelon, chopped

1 small white or red onion, finely chopped

1 seeded cucumber, diced

1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped


1. Blend watermelon in a blender until liquefied.

2. Strain liquid through a strainer into a large bowl. Remove excess pulp and any stray seeds. (You can discard the pulp or eat it like a pudding.)

3. Add chopped onion, cucumber and basil to the bowl and stir. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before serving.

4. Scoop up watermelon soup into serving bowls. Garnish with additional fresh basil. Serve.

“Your body is a Temple. You are what you eat. Do not eat processed food, junk foods, filth, or disease carrying food, animals, or rodents. Some people say of these foods, ‘well, it tastes good’. Most of the foods today that statically cause sickness, cancer, and disease ALL TASTE GOOD; it’s well seasoned and prepared poison. THIS IS WHY SO MANY PEOPLE ARE SICK; mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually; because of being hooked to the ‘taste’ of poison, instead of being hooked on the truth and to real foods that heal and provide you with good health and wellness. Respect and honor your Temple- and it will honor you.” 
~SupaNova Slom, The Remedy: The Five-Week Power Plan to Detox Your System, Combat the Fat, and Rebuild Your Mind and Body

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I’m reading an interesting book at the moment: Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko. In this book, Boutenko explains how leafy greens are among the most overlooked, yet nutritious foods we can eat.

What I’m finding most fascinating so far is Boutenko’s discussion of the amino acids which form protein, and how, “if we maintain a variety of greens in our diet, we will cover all essential amino acids in abundance” (Boutenko, p.41). The essential amino acids required to form protein cannot be synthesized by our body and therefore must be absorbed through our diet.

Boutenko explains how it is simpler and more efficient for the body to take these individual amino acids (from ingesting greens) and create the protein we need, rather than breaking down the already formed protein in another species, such as in a chicken or cow for example, and extracting the amino acids to create human protein for our body. In fact, it is rather ironic how we eat a cow because we believe we need the protein, and yet the cow herself derived her protein, not by eating other cows, but by her natural herbivore diet of greens. (Of course, however, factory farmed cows are not actually fed their natural diet of greens, that would be way too expensive, rather they are fed unnatural GMO’d soy and corn, a lot of drugs, a variety of other garbage and often even animals.)

As Boutenko points out, a lot of people simply don’t like the taste of greens, so they are reluctant to add more to their diet. However, we can hide them amongst other tastes! We saw how easy it is to hide spinach in chocolate with the irresistible spinach brownie recipe I shared a while ago, but we can also do this with smoothies. In my experience, we can add between 2 and 4 cups of any greens to a smoothie and the bitterness will be completely camouflaged with a banana and about 4 fresh dates. Alternatively, ripe mango or pineapple can also successfully mask the greens.

Inspired to make green smoothies a part of my everyday routine, I created my Green Breakfast Smoothie, which I’ve been making every morning for several weeks now. Here is my recipe, which you can use as a model to build your own. I recommend to use organic ingredients, if possible. Also, use purified water if you can, instead of tap water, which contains many impurities.

If you don’t have sufficient fresh greens available or for an added green boost in addition to your fresh greens, you can include a scoop of powdered greens. There are many on the market for you to try and see which you like best. If you are in the mood for a little chocolate flavor, add a spoonful of raw cacao nibs.

Since I am using this smoothie as a meal replacement (breakfast), for added nutrition, I add a few raw nuts (and water). You can also make your own nut milk and use this instead. It’s easy to make nut milk and when you make it yourself, you avoid preservatives which are common in commercial brands.

Give it a try. Add or subtract ingredients to suit your individual needs and tastes.

Maria’s Green Breakfast Smoothie


1 to 2 bananas

4 fresh dates, pitted

2 to 4 cups spinach or kale

1 cup blueberries

1/4 cup raw nuts of your choice (I use cashews, walnuts or almonds)

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon shelled hemp seeds

1 tablespoon powdered greens

1/2 teaspoon matcha green tea

1 1/2 to 2 cups water


1. Place all ingredients in a high powered blender. Blend until creamy.

2. Pour into glass (with ice if desired, or you can blend ice into the smoothie). Sip through a straw and bliss out!

“The more I read about the nutritional content of greens, the more I became convinced that greens were the most important food for humans.” ~Victoria Boutenko, Green for Life

I created a new facebook page for those of you interested in learning more about juicing and smoothies. Also, join me on my vegan cooking page where I share vegan recipes and health-related information every day.


Is there anything more versatile than pasta? With so many different varieties, relatively short preparation time, wonderful sauces for every occasion and mood, and so many ways of serving it, pasta must be the most common go to meal in our society.

This week, to celebrate the sun, lovely warm weather, and my vegan birthday (4 year old vegan as of June 13th!), I prepared a picnic, with this colorful, delicious pasta salad I put together. Any variety of small noodle will work, and there are many varieties of gluten-free pasta out there for those of you who avoid gluten. I chose an organic wholegrain spelt spiral pasta, which you see here in the picture. Spelt has a more digestible form of gluten than conventional wheat. I like spelt pasta very much because it is perfectly al dente when cooked right, just the way I like my pasta!

I chose to include hearts of palm in this recipe simply because they are very tasty and I had them handy, but they are totally optional. The sun-dried tomatoes, however, I find more essential to this dish because they add a bit of saltiness, flavor and texture. I like to buy sulfite-free so they are healthiest. I found a delicious organic batch from Prana which I adore.

Lastly, I chose to add nutritional yeast to the dressing for its delicious cheesy flavor. I find that organic nutritional yeast is even more cheesy-tasting than non-organic, so I prefer it.

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think! Enjoy it in the beautiful outdoors!

Maria’s Summer Fiesta Pasta Salad

Makes approximately 6 servings

4 cups small pasta noodles of your choice, cooked
2 gloves of garlic, minced
8 green onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup hearts of palm, chopped
½ cup sulfite-free sundried tomatoes, chopped
⅓ cup fresh parsley, chopped

½ cup vegan mayonnaise
¼ cup nutritional yeast
Juice from ½ lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon sea salt


1. Cook pasta in salted water as per instructions on the box. Drain and set aside to cool.
2. In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and mix thoroughly.
3. Place all chopped vegetables and cooled pasta in a large bowl.
4. Pour dressing over pasta and vegetables and toss.
5. Place in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to chill and let flavors fully marinate. Garnish with more chopped fresh parsley if desired. Serve chilled.

“Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress.”

~Charles Pierre Monselet

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Soba Noodles in Thai Peanut Sauce

Soba Noodles in Thai Peanut Sauce

On Monday, out of the blue, I got a strong craving for peanut butter. Oh what to do! So many options, but I settled on my favorite thai-flavours-inspired dish: cabbage and noodles with a sweet n’ spicy peanut sauce! Oh yum!

This is such a tasty and easy dish to prepare. If you have leftovers (BIG IF!), you can refrigerate the noodles and eat them cold the next day. Yes, it’s that delicious, you don’t even have to heat it up!

I love this dish not only because I love the spicy peanut sauce, but also because of the raw red cabbage. It is savory, crunchy and extremely healthy, even more so than the commonly eaten green variety. Red cabbage is high in calcium, iron, iodine, potassium, sulfur, and phosphorus. With respect to vitamins, it is loaded with vitamins A, several of the Bs, C, E, K and folic acid. Of all the health benefits, it’s “anti-cancer” properties are impressive and well-documented. In particular, its phytonutrients help boost our defense mechanisms, block the reaction of cancer-causing substances, detoxify and eliminate harmful toxins, and stimulate the production of antibodies to fight cancer.

When preparing this dish, the red cabbage stays raw, which we know is usually better than cooking vegetables, since high heat may kill some of the nutrients. According to nutrition sources, red cabbage is also easier to digest when raw.

So, whether it’s in this dish, or simply shredded overtop your favorite salad, I strongly recommend adding raw red cabbage to your regular diet. It’s also wonderful to juice it with other vegetables.

With respect to the peanut butter you use (you can substitute it for almond butter if you prefer), it must be unsweetened because refined sugar, as we all know, is just pure evil. In fact, the ingredients section on the peanut butter jar should list only one ingredient: peanuts (organic peanuts – even better)!

Oh and just one last thing: when you are putting the sauce together on the stovetop, do not bother tasting it as it warms to see how it’s coming along. It won’t taste great on its own. This dish is really about the combination of flavours, and trust me, once you put this dish together and take a bite, words like “heaven” will come quickly to mind! Try it!

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

Makes about 4 servings

1 package soba buckwheat noodles (buckwheat is gluten-free) or any noodles of your choice
4 cups red cabbage, shredded
¼ cup green onions, diced
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup raw peanuts

1/2 cup unsweetened peanut butter
5 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon red chili flakes


1. Mix all sauce ingredients in a small pot and heat over low heat until sauce is warm and creamy. About 10 minutes. Keep warm.
2. Shred cabbage. Place in a large colander over the sink.
3. Cook noodles according to package instructions.
4. Drain cooked noodles over cabbage in colander to wilt it.
5. Transfer noodles and cabbage to a large bowl and drizzle sauce overtop. Toss until completely combined.
6. Garnish with parsley, onions and peanuts. Serve.

“To become wholly compassionate requires us to open our eyes and hearts, to behold the pain and exploitation our culture obscures, to arouse deadened emotions, and to rise above our egos.” ~ Joanne Stepaniak

Quinoa Recipe

Quinoa Recipe
Quinoa salad with Tahini dressing

This week, let’s talk about something completely wonderful: quinoa! Also, let me tell you how I created this delicious little dressing that goes perfectly with a little quinoa, on a bed of your favorite fresh lettuce. Ahhh…heaven in a dish!

Quinoa is wonderful for so many reasons. Quinoa is native to South America and is so nutrient-dense, it was once called “the gold of the Incas”. Often referred to as a grain, it is actually the seed of a leafy green cousin to spinach and Swiss chard. One of the most amazing properties of quinoa is that this little seed is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential 9 amino acids which form a protein. This makes it an excellent plant-based source of protein all on its own, whereas getting a complete protein from most beans would require combining it with whole grain rice, for example. It also contains plenty of other nutrients such as fibre, magnesium, and phosphorus. Since it is “wheat-free”, it can form part of a satisfying meal for those who want to avoid gluten.

I am a huge fan of quinoa (have you noticed?) and make several dishes with it. This week, I’d like to tell you about a tasty dressing I created for quinoa and lettuce. I call it “The Josephine” after a delightful student of mine who took my vegan cooking course at McGill University. She asked me if I had any ideas for making a dressing using tahini, which would not have that slightly bitter aftertaste common for tahini.

Tahini is a nutritious, tasty spread, popular in Middle Eastern dishes. We used it a few weeks ago when we made my Healthy Hummus. It is made from ground sesame seeds and is rich in B vitamins and calcium. Tahini can be added to recipes or simply used as a spread on toast, crackers, in a sandwich or on vegetables. I love tahini just as much as I love quinoa and use both often in my kitchen!

I put my chef’s hat on and got to work in the kitchen! My first challenge was: how do I sweeten the tahini a little? I immediately thought of adding tamari and balsamic vinegar. Then I figured a fresh or dried fruit would work nicely in adding a hint of fruity sweetness, so I pulled out my organic dried apricots. I, of course, wanted some garlic in the here to balance out the flavours and for a last extra little kick, I chopped fresh ginger! I whisked up the dressing, along with some olive oil, oregano and sea salt. I poured it over my cooked quinoa, which had time to cool and chose my favorite fresh lettuce: arugula. I sprinkled the small pieces of apricot, hemp, chia and flax seeds over top and tried a forkful. OK, WOW! So delicious! You MUST try this! Thank you Josephine for your inspiration and for this challenge!

Enjoy, in joy and in health!


1-2 servings

1 cup quinoa, cooked in 1 ½ cups water, cooled
2 cups raw baby kale OR lettuce of your choice

2 tablespoons Tahini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon wheat-free Tamari
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon oregano
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 small piece ginger, finely chopped
5 dried apricots OR 2 fresh apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds

1. Place 1 cup quinoa and 1 ½ cup water in a pot and allow to boil. Once it boils, lower heat to minimum or simmer and continue cooking until all water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
2. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing, except seeds and pieces of apricot. Whisk dressing until completely blended.
3. In a large bowl, place cooled quinoa on a bed of raw baby kale or any lettuce or combination of lettuce leaves that you desire. Drizzle dressing over top. Sprinkle seeds and pieces of apricot.

“If I sing when I cook, the food will be happy.” ~Pasquale Carpino