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

As some of you know, one of the reasons I decided to move from Montreal, Canada to Mexico is, sure enough, the weather. I just couldn’t stand the thought of another long, freezing winter and way too many grey rainy days for my taste.

Neither could I accept the thought of waiting until retirement to make the move. I longed for sunshine and heat, all the time, all year round. And oh my did I find just that in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico!

However with the year-round heat, sun and sea breeze also comes the hurricane season, which runs from June to October in Baja. This means that during those months, we can expect some rain and there is a risk of tropical storms and hurricanes of varying intensities.

I experienced my first one here last week, Hurricane Norbert, and it was scary and exciting at the same time. Locals tell me it wasn’t a bad one, but it was enough to knock out my telephone and Internet service for 7 days!

We are now expecting Hurricane Odile scheduled to greet us this Sunday. I am quickly uploading my recipe for you this week just in case the hurricane takes away my Internet again!

When the storm was just starting to brew, I stocked up on supplies and hit the kitchen to make a couple of soups – the ultimate comfort food for damp and windy rainy days. I created a coconut, spinach and mung bean concoction so soothing, creamy and delicious that I couldn’t wait to share it with all of you! To my surprise, the mouth-feel and taste reminded me of a luxurious clam chowder.

Before making this recipe, remember to soak your mung beans overnight, just like we do with other dry beans and chickpeas. I added just a little cumin, fresh ginger and basil for flavor – you may want to add more or less to suit your taste.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.


Coconut Spinach Mung Soup


Makes approximately 6 servings

3 tablespoons coconut oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

6 green onions, chopped

1 potato, peeled and chopped

1 small chunk of ginger, about 2 inches, minced

2 cups mung beans, presoaked overnight and drained

2 cups spinach, frozen or fresh (chopped)

1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced

1 cup coconut milk

3 cups water

½ teaspoon cumin

Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Place coconut oil, garlic, onions, potato and ginger in a large pot and sauté over medium heat for about 4 or 5 minutes.
  2. Add mung beans, stir and continue to sauté for 2 minutes.
  3. Add spinach, basil, coconut milk, water and cumin and slowly bring to a boil. Immediately lower heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour, or until mung beans and potato are very soft and soup is creamy.
  4. Add salt and black pepper as desired.


“Each one of us is here for a reason that is greater than the roles that are ascribed to us and that we ascribe to ourselves. We are alive, in this moment in time, going over material together for a reason. The reason is greater than your role as a parent, as a sibling, as a child, as a friend, or whatever you do in your career. It is greater than your relationships, your insecurities, your stresses, or your bodies. When we get blindsided by the temporary, by the daily routine and the stresses that rise up within it, we stay cloaked behind the veil of illusion that prevents us from seeing the truth. The truth is this: we are here to examine why we are here, who we are, and how we are connected to each other and to the earth that continues to sustain us. That truth also states that beneath this world of change and separation is a deeper world of unchanging existence, and it is from there that we all stem. From a place of permanence, of unchanging energy and consciousness.”

~Bram Levinson, The Examined Life 

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This week I bring you another delicious Mexican classic: gorditas! A gordita (literally translated into English as “little fatty”) is a type of flatbread made from cornmeal and then stuffed with pretty much anything you like, such as vegetables, meat, or even a sweet filling.

I always choose the vegan options, and was thrilled that a favorite gordita spot here in Mexico, Doña Tota, offers two fillings devoid of animal products: a refried beans option (without the cheese, which is a typical addition) and a potato filling.

Gordita Dona Tota

These two fillings at Doña Tota don’t have any meat, but how can I be absolutely sure that they don’t contain any animal products? I cannot, unless I make them myself at home.

I must admit, I was a bit intimidated to try this recipe on my own. Making gorditas is an art form, but then again, so are many other culinary creations such as pizza and lasagna! The difference is I did not grow up in a Mexican kitchen, so unlike Italian dishes, this wonderful and inspiring cuisine is all new to me. But, alas, I am a very eager student, and a lover of all things Mexican.

I mustered up some confidence, got myself masa harina, corn flour, and set out for a culinary adventure in my kitchen. I had to determine the flour to water ratio, so I experimented based on my experience with making pizza dough, adding water to the flour slowly and feeling my way through. I created a big loaf of soft dough and then pinched tangerine-sized balls of dough, patting then into flat cakes, about ½ inch thick.

Making Gorditas

I then heated a frying pan on medium to high heat (no oil) and placed the patties in the pan. I flipped them once they had some colour, after about four minutes on each side.

Gordita patties

Once they were done, I removed them from the heat and let them cool slightly. Some people deep fry them at this point, but I don’t think this is necessary since they are already wonderfully flavorful. Once they cooled, I used a serrated knife to slice them about ¾ through to create a pocket. The serrated knife is super important for this step so that the shell doesn’t stick to the knife or crumble.

Now your gordita is ready for you to fill with any filling you like. I made a sweet potato, corn and bean mixture and garnished it with chopped cilantro and onion. If you’d like to try the refried beans filling, like the ones from Doña Tota, I gave you my recipe last week.

Have fun and buen provecho!

Maria's Vegan Gorditas


Gordita Shell

Makes about 5 shells


2 cups corn flour

1 2/3 cup water

Pinch of salt


  1. In a large bowl, add the flour and a pinch of salt. Add the water slowly, about 1/3 cup at a time.
  2. Knead the mixture into a large loaf.
  3. Pinch off tangerine-sized balls and pat into flat patties, about ½ inch thick.
  4. Heat frying pan (dry, no oil) on medium to high heat. Add patties and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, until they start to get a golden color.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Slice open (using a serrated knife) and fill with any stuffing and garnish you desire.


Sweet Potato, Bean and Corn Gordita Filling


½ white onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

½ cup frozen corn

1 cup cooked pinto beans

½ teaspoon onion powder

Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Add onion, garlic, sweet potato, rosemary and oil to a frying pan and sauté until soft, about 5 or 6 minutes.
  2. Add corn, pinto beans, onion powder, salt and pepper and continue sautéing for another 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside until ready to fill your gordita shells.


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See you next week with another irresistible vegan recipe! 

It’s been a while, my friends! I am so thrilled to be back here on Forget The Box, sharing my passion for vegan living with all of you!

Much has happened since you last read me about 10 months ago. Namely, my cookbook, Cooking With Amore, was finally published and launched at the Montreal SPCA Annexe (Emergency Shelter). I completed a program in gourmet raw vegan cuisine and raw food nutrition at Living Light Culinary Institute in northern California. And, to keep things exciting, I moved to Los Cabos in Mexico!

It has always been my dream to live in a beautiful, tropical location. I decided to take the leap and make it happen this past May, making the drive all the way from Montreal to San Jose del Cabo in Baja California Sur, Mexico. What an incredible adventure it has been so far!

I have so much to share with you, but let me start this week with the sheer deliciousness known as refried beans. It’s easy to come across this highly popular dish in Mexico, since it is served as a side dish with almost everything, including breakfast.

I love making bean dishes from scratch, soaking beans overnight and cooking them myself (rather than using the canned variety). I was super eager to make this dish at home, but not before reading up a little to find out its origins and history.

Refried beans are essentially cooked and mashed beans. The name “refried beans” is derived from the Spanish “frijoles refritos” which interestingly does not refer to the beans being refried (fried twice), but rather well-fried. In fact, one way of preparing these beans doesn’t involve frying at all. You can basically boil the beans and add all the other ingredients to the same pot until the mixture is thick and creamy. At that point, you can use a potato masher or put all or most of the mixture into a blender for a very brief blend.

When I make them, I do use the frying method because I always boil a big batch of beans and freeze some for other recipes.

Refried beans are very versatile. They can be served as a side dish, as a filling in a tortilla or gordita, as a dip for totopos or tostadas, as a layer for nachos – the possibilities are endless! I even add a large dollop to my salad for extra flavor and heartiness. Here’s my recipe. You can use any beans you like, but it seems that pinto or black beans are the most popular.


Maria’s Rendition of Refried Beans


2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or any oil you prefer for cooking

1 white or red onion, chopped

3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 poblano or red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, chopped

2 cups cooked pinto or black beans

2 cups water

¼ cup chopped cilantro, more for garnish if desired

Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Add oil, chopped onion, garlic and peppers to a large frying pan and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the cooked beans and 1 cup of water to the frying pan and allow to simmer until most of the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add second cup of water and repeat.
  3. Once most of the water has evaporated, and the bean mixture is very soft, stir in chopped cilantro and turn off heat.
  4. Use a potato masher or blender to create a thick purée. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

So full of flavor, I just love this recipe and hope you enjoy it as well. Read me next week as I share with you another vegan recipe and tale from Mexico!

Get Cooking With Amore for many tips and tricks for cooking beans, and over 100 vegan recipes, all made with amore!

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Pasta and beans is a tasty, traditional stew-like Italian dish. It is a hearty meal, which I love to make at this time of year when the garden is in full harvest mode. Using perfectly vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh crisp celery, aromatic basil, and of course lots of garlic – all from the garden – make this dish absolutely irresistible, healthy and nourishing.

For optimal flavor and nutrition, I use the ripest garden tomatoes I have available. The first step is bringing a large pot of water to a boil and dropping the tomatoes in the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and allow time for the tomatoes to cool. At this point, the tomatoes can be peeled with ease. These are tastier and way healthier than any diced tomatoes you can get from can.

You don’t have to make the pasta noodles yourself. Any type of pasta you like will work fine in this dish, even rice pasta for those of you who prefer gluten-free. I have included my homemade pasta recipe, however, for those of you feeling adventurous. Also, I’d like you to see how easy it is to make homemade pasta! Tagiatelle are like fettucini, except a little shorter. I chose spelt flour for my pasta. You will need a pasta maker for this recipe. Have a blast!

Pasta e Fagioli

Makes approximately 4 servings

6 ripe tomatoes
Pot of water for boiling
5 cloves of garlic, minced
6 fresh basil leaves
1 celery stalk or celery heart
1 ½ cups (375 ml) pinto or kidney beans, cooked
⅓ cup (80 ml) fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons (30 ml) grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons (10 ml) sea salt (or more to taste)
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) black pepper (or more to taste)
6 cups (1 ½ L) of water
Small pasta of your choice or homemade spelt tagliatelle (recipe below)

1. Bring the pot of water to a boil. Drop tomatoes into the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Remove pot from the stove and drain. Let tomatoes cool before peeling and dicing them.
3. In a large pot, heat grapeseed oil on medium heat and add minced garlic. Brown garlic slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Add diced tomatoes, celery, basil, and a teaspoon of sea salt. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.
5. Remove celery and basil leaves and discard. Add chopped parsley, cooked beans and black pepper.
6. Add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add your choice of pasta. Reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked. Most of the water will be absorbed by the pasta, but some excess liquid is desired, as with a stew. Taste test to see if more sea salt or pepper is desired. You can sprinkle some vegan parmesan over top if desired (see recipe below). Serve warm.

Spelt Tagliatelle

3 cups (750 ml) spelt flour, extra flour on the side
¾ cup (180 ml) water
Sea salt

1. Pour flour onto work station in a well formation. Keep an extra amount of flour on the side for sprinkling over dough when it gets sticky.
2. Sprinkle small amount of sea salt over flour well (about ½ teaspoon, 2.5 ml).
3. Pour water slowly into well a bit at a time, working flour into the water gently with your fingers or a fork.
4. Once firm, knead dough for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle small amounts of flour onto work station and dough if it becomes too sticky.
5. Form a loaf and let loaf sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
6. Sprinkle small amount of flour over dough. With a rolling pin, flatten the dough. Cut small amounts and pass through the pasta maker at the setting which will further flatten the dough (No. 8 setting).
7. Lay pieces of flattened dough on flour-sprinkled work station to avoid sticking.
8. Pass all the pieces of dough, one by one, through the fettucini setting of the pasta maker. Lay pasta on flour-sprinkled work station. Once all the pasta is ready, add to your tomato and bean mixture to cook. If you would like to keep some pasta for another recipe, you can freeze the pasta. (Lay it flat, single file, on a cooking sheet and once it is completely frozen, transfer it to a freezer bag.)

Vegan Parmesan


¼ cup (60 ml) raw cashews

¼ cup (60 ml) nutritional yeast


1. In a food processor, combine cashews and nutritional yeast. Blend until powdery. Sprinkle over any dish you like.

This is just one of the many recipes you will find in my soon to be released cookbook, Cooking With Amore: 100 Vegan Recipes for Health, Well-being and Spiritual Evolution. 


In the meantime, join me on my Facebook page where I share recipes and health-related articles everyday.

“Let me share my vision with you: I see a world without sickness, sorrow or mental disturbance in which we are living in perfect balance with abundant health and harmony. Reconnect with nature and your body will take care of the rest. This is the beauty of self-healing.”  ~Dr. Ann Wigmore

I am delighted and honored to announce that I submitted my cookbook to the publisher last week! After two years of dedicated and persistent hard work, my baby is finally on its way to being printed! In addition to a traditional book, an electronic version is also being made.

In about four weeks, Cooking With Amore: 100 Vegan Recipes for Health, Well-being and Spiritual Evolution will be available for purchase on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and in bookstores. I have a French and Spanish translation of my cookbook in the works; both will be ready in 2014.

I am also thrilled to announce that my official book launch in Montreal, Canada will be held at the SPCA Annexe on December 14, 2013. I will be making dishes from the cookbook for everyone to sample and donations will be accepted to help the animals at the SPCA.

I will be selling and signing books and proceeds from the sale of my books will also go to the SPCA. More details will follow as the date draws near. You are all invited to join me in celebrating this very special day! I will also be organizing book signing events in other cities around the world! I am going global with Cooking With Amore!

Cooking With Amore contains many of the recipes I share with you each week and more. Some of the recipes which I consider quite genius I have saved for the book itself, such as my vegan poutine and vegan tiramisu, for example, as well as this vegan piece of heaven I do with cacao nibs and garden tomatoes (yes tomatoes!).

My goal is simply to get vegan recipes out there. I want people to get excited about cooking delicious dishes, without the use of any animal products.

Why? Because it’s possible, it’s healthy and it’s kind. To those of you contemplating a vegan lifestyle, or maybe just adding more plant-based meals to your diet, in Cooking With Amore, I offer you 100 scrumptious, easy recipes!

Banner Cooking with Amore 2

Let’s cook with love! Are you ready?

My website has also been finished and is ready for launch in the coming days. In the meantime, you can continue to follow me daily on my Facebook page where I share vegan recipes and health-related tips every day!


“Now that I have made the connection, I do not eat animals for the same reason as I do not eat human beings. To me, there is no difference between humans and animals, for we are all souls, in different physical disguises. I know that non-human animals value their lives, their relationships, and their freedom to run and play as much as humans do. They feel a wide range of emotions just like we do. I want to create a better world for all animals and that, in turn, means a better world for everyone. ”

~Maria Amore, Cooking With Amore: 100 Vegan Recipes for Health, Well-being and Spiritual Evolution

Lentils and beans are light and savory in salad format for the summer. We can save the warm dishes for the winter since they tend to be filling and provide that much needed comfort in the cold months. Salads like this, just like our lentil stews and soups, store well in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, so make a big batch and enjoy it over the coming days.

While reading up on lentil nutrition this week in preparation for writing this article, I came across these interesting ten facts about lentils presented by Vanessa Perrone, R.D. Nutritionist. Did you know:

1. Canada is the world’s leading exporter of lentils.

2. Saskatchewan produces 97% of Canada’s lentils.

3. Lentils are a nitrogen-fixing crop.

4. Lentils can be bought whole, peeled or split, each step reducing cooking time: Whole 25-30 mins > Peeled 20-25 mins > Split 10-12 mins.

5. Lentils do not require any soaking! That’s right, just cook until tender and add to your favourite dish.

6. Because lentils are grown in rotation with durum wheat they may come into contact with wheat at harvest. But the meticulous processing at the facility makes for a completely gluten-free product.

7. Lentils are an excellent source of fibre with almost 16g per cup.

8. Lentils have a very low glycemic index, which means the rise in blood sugar after eating them will be moderate and steady.

9. 3/4 cup cooked lentils provides more potassium than a large banana along with 13g of protein.

10. Lentils provide more folate than any other plant food.

11. Bonus food fact: The word lens (as in contact lens) was actually inspired by the shape of the split lentil (Who knew?…).

Motivated to eat a healthy bowl of lentils? Here is a lentil salad I created, full of flavor and some lovely fresh ingredients from the garden like mint, parsley, onions and garlic. I find the cumin combined here with the mint and chili flakes gives it a distinct middle eastern flavor. The lemon juice and zest heighten the summer feel to this dish. Enjoy, in joy and in health!

Arabian Mint Lentil Salad

Makes approximately 5 to 6 servings

2 cups (500 ml) green lentils
5 cups (1 ¼ L) water
2 tablespoons (30 ml) grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
½ white onion, thinly sliced
½ cup (125 ml) fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice (1 or 2 lemons) and lemon zest from one lemon
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) chili flakes
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) cumin
Sea salt and black pepper to taste


1. Place lentils in a pot with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer, partially covered, until lentils are soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour (green lentils usually take a little longer to cook than other lentils). When lentils are soft, water will most likely have been fully absorbed. If not, drain excess water. Set lentils aside to cool.

2. In a frying pan, heat grapeseed oil and add garlic. Sauté until slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a blender, add lemon juice and zest, chili flakes, olive oil, cumin, cooled garlic and oil. Blend briefly.

4. Place cooled lentils in a large bowl. Pour dressing from the blender over lentils. Add chopped parsley, mint and onion. Mix well. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with additional lemon zest and mint leaves, if desired.

“Revere the healing power of nature.” ~Hippocrates

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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 adore guacamole! OK, I adore avocados period. For my guacamole recipe, I like to keep it as simple as possible and just let the avocado’s deliciousness speak for itself. With just a few ingredients, we can whip up (or more specifically, mash up) this guacamole!

Summertime is the best time to try my delicious guacamole recipe. Enjoy!

Maria’s Guacamole


Makes approximately 2 to 4 servings

 2 ripe avocados

3 green onions or ½ white onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 small tomato, diced

Juice from one lime

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) sea salt

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) black pepper

Chili flakes (optional)



  1. Scoop out avocados and mash with a fork or masher in a small bowl.
  2. Add in all other ingredients and mix well.
  3. Serve immediately or chilled.




It seems to me that people have a love/hate relationship with avocados. Many of us love the taste, others find it gross. Some of us are concerned about the avocado’s high fat content. The avocado contains monounsaturated fat, which is in fact not a “bad” fat, but how healthy is avocado in general?

Some food for thought: the research is ambiguous as to whether the avocado is in fact healthy for us. Several reputable sources say indeed yes, avocados are beneficial since they provide us with complete protein, good fats and other important nutrients.

However, Dr. Michael Greger has examined numerous studies, some indicating that not only does avocado kill cancer cells, but also healthy cells, in vitro. In vitro means in a petri dishas opposed to in vivo, which is in the human body. The difference being, when we ingest avocado, our stomach digestive acids and our liver detoxifying functions get to the avocado before our cells do. Therefore, can the avocado in vitro studies really tell us anything?

Some good news, one recent study reported avocado consumption is linked to significantly reduced prostate cancer risk.

This is a clear example of how confusing it can be to navigate the world of health research. Many of us are not doctors or nutrition experts. How do we make sense of all this? There are contradictory findings and differing views about almost everything. In the end, maybe that old cliche about moderation is best?

In my opinion, a helpful rule to live by is this: how do you feel when you eat it? And I don’t necessarily mean in the short term only, since we all know that potato chips feel like heaven the moment they touch our lips.

Some of us have food allergies, others may have a mild intolerance. Some of us have health issues that we are trying to improve. Certain foods can make these conditions better or worse.

The best thing we can do is become more mindful of the food we are eating and how are body reacts to it. We are all individuals with particular needs and tastes. Slow down, learn the language of your body and pay attention. If you don’t, the body will surely end up screaming at you via some type of illness.

Back to avocados and their deliciousness, I came across a delightful dessert made with avocados that I would like to share with you. It is not a recipe I created and I haven’t tried it yet, but this avocado chocolate mousse sounds absolutely divine! Give it a try as well and let me know what you think.

Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.
~Dorothy Day

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I adore watching documentaries. In fact, I hardly ever watch another genre of film. This week, I saw an excellent documentary called Vegucated. Highly informative, funny and entertaining, Vegucated chronicles the lives of three New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for a period of six weeks as part of a social experiment.

During the course of these six weeks, they learn how to shop for cruelty-free vegan products, how to prepare fully plant-based meals, and how the animals we eat are raised. They are also followed by Dr.  Joel Fuhrman who checks their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol before and after the six week vegan diet to see what effect this change has on these three indicators of overall health. Not surprisingly, all three individuals lost weight and both their cholesterol and blood pressure went down.

vegucated picMarisa Miller Wolfsom is the film’s writer, director and editor. She posted an ad on New York’s Craigslist requesting volunteers who would be interested in converting to a vegan diet for six weeks. She interviewed several people, and chose three: Tesla, Ellen and Brian.

Tesla Lobo is a 22-year old student living with her family whose diet relies heavily on meat. Tesla’s biggest challenge was to let go of the convenience of her father’s home cooking and learn how to prepare, and enjoy, plant-based meals.

Ellen Mausner is a psychiatrist, stand-up comic and single mom of two. She is attracted to a vegan diet for its potential for weight loss and improvement of cardiovascular health.

Brian Flegel is an aspiring actor who often eats out and jokes about vegans being weird.

Among the challenges faced by Tesla, Ellen and Brian is acquiring the taste for foods they had previously never tried. In the film, Dr. Fuhrman explains how most of our food preferences are acquired tastes and that sometimes we need to try something several times before we know whether we like it or not.

One of the things I try to convey to my vegan cooking students is how easy it is to be vegan, once you learn new ingredients. Tempeh is often one of those new things we learn about when we go vegan. I too had heard of tofu before changing my diet, but not tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented soy product (whereas tofu is not fermented). The fermentation process renders tempeh more nutritious than other soybean products: higher protein content, more vitamins, minerals and fiber. You usually find tempeh in the freezer section of health food stores.

I would say it is for most people what Dr. Fuhrman describes as an acquired taste. Whereas tofu doesn’t have a taste before we give it one, tempeh has a bold, nutty flavor. Without proper preparation, you may not enjoy the flavor.

The recipe I’d like to share with you this week is a tempeh dish I created with Indian-inspired flavors. I call it Tandori Tempeh because I chose a lot of the Indian spices commonly used to make Tandori dishes. I sprinkled chia seeds overtop, not only because they are so nutritious, but because I really enjoy that additional little crunch they add. I accompanied it with a tasty sweet potato side dish. Don’t let these exotic spices intimidate you; this is actually a very easy dish to prepare and so delicious! Try it!


Tandori Tempeh and Spiced Sweet Potato Mash



Makes approximately 4 servings

1 package organic tempeh

2 tomatoes, diced

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 chili peppers, chopped

¼ cup (60 ml) water

2 tablespoons (30 ml) grapeseed or olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) paprika

1 teaspoon (5 ml) turmeric

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) coriander

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) cumin

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) ginger

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) cardamom

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) black pepper

¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) cayenne

2 tablespoons (30 ml) wheat-free tamari

1 tablespoon (15 ml) Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons (30 ml) chia seeds



  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
  2. Tempeh is usually frozen when purchased. Thaw out and slice into thin squares.
  3. Prepare the marinade for the tempeh by mixing all the other ingredients in a bowl, except chia seeds, including chopped onion, peppers, tomato and garlic.
  4. Line large baking dish with parchment paper to avoid sticking. Place tempeh squares, single file on the paper. Pour marinade and vegetables over tempeh. Sprinkle chia seeds overtop.
  5. Cover dish with aluminum foil. Puncture foil with a fork or knife in a few places.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes total. After 15 minutes, remove from the oven, turn tempeh squares over, discard aluminum foil and return to the oven, uncovered, for the remaining 15 minutes.
  7. Serve warm.


Spiced Sweet Potato Mash


2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

3 white potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons (30 ml) nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegan butter

1 tablespoon (15 ml) turmeric

1 tablespoon (15 ml) paprika

Sea salt and black pepper to taste



  1. Placed chopped potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add sea salt, about 1 teaspoon (5 ml) and chopped garlic. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer until potatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. Drain all water.  Add nutritional yeast, vegan butter, turmeric, paprika and mash with a potato masher. Taste test to see if      more sea salt is desired. Add black pepper to taste. Serve warm.


“Medicines cannot drug away the cellular defects that develop in response to improper nutrition throughout life.” ~Dr. Joel Fuhrman

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It’s the beautiful, hot, spectacular month of July in Montreal and home gardens are in full bloom! The tomatoes are not quite ready yet – we have to patiently wait until August for them to be vine-ripened to perfection. But other lovely delights like all kinds of lettuce, kale, broccoli, celery, hot peppers, onions and herbs of all varieties are bountiful and delicious.

There is one plant I’d like to talk to you about this week, common in Italian home gardens: the zucchini plant. Not only do we love the eventual zucchinis, but we also use the male flowers from this plant to make a sweet treat.

This year, I had the pleasure of taking a gardening workshop through Sociale. Urban Seedling offered informative instruction on planting beautiful, flourishing gardens in urban settings, with limited space and resources. What a gift to our health to be able to grow our own organic food!

Not only is gardening fun, it feels amazing to be outdoors, one with nature, tending to our plants lovingly, and then harvest the bounty. What can be more natural than growing our own food? We also beautify our living space and attract wildlife by planting gardens, flowers and trees.

All my life, I have adored learning about gardening from my parents and grandparents. My grandmother taught me the difference between the female and male zucchini flowers.  The female flower is a large golden yellow flower at the end of the emergent zucchini. The male flower is slightly smaller and grows on the stem of the zucchini plant, with no zucchini attached. Both flowers are edible, but Italians typically use only the male flower for cooking, since it opens to release its pollen, and then simply falls off the plant.

My family has a very special recipe for this Italian classic known as fiori di zucca: flowers from the zucchini plant, dipped in a tempura-style batter, and sweetened with a sprinkling of raw cane sugar.  Oh yum – what a treat! I veganized the recipe, of course, because that’s what I do!

We can make a batter with any type of flour you like to use. I chose a combination of kamut and spelt, old-school grains which are easier to digest than modern day, more industrialized wheat. Instead of eggs, I used egg replacer, which worked like a charm to bind the batter. For stovetop cooking, I like to use grapeseed oil since it doesn’t denature at high temperatures and has a neutral taste. Check out the recipe below and try your hand at this classic Italian treat, now veganized!

 Fiori di Zucca


½ cup kamut flour

½ cup spelt flour

¾ cup water

2 tablespoons raw cane sugar

½ teaspoon sea salt

3 teaspoons egg replacer

½ cup grapeseed oil

Zucchini flowers, whole or shredded, stem and stamen discarded



  1. To prepare the batter, mix all ingredients, except the flowers, with a spatula in a large bowl.
  2. If you have many zucchini flowers, you can dip the whole flower into the batter and fry it. If you have only one or two flowers, shred them and mix them into the batter. Some people prefer to discard the stem and stamen of the flower.
  3. Heat oil over high heat in a frying pan.
  4. Drop a large spoonful of batter or whole dipped flower into the frying pan. Fry for 1-2 minutes and flip over. Sauté until golden brown on each side.
  5. Remove from oil and allow excess oil to drain on paper towels. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle with extra cane sugar if desired. Serve immediately.


If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

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We got a little taste of Mexico last week with my vegan taco and bean salad recipe. This week, I thought it would be fun to savor Vietnam! Here is a vegan spring roll recipe I made up, which is really colorful and delicious.

One of the ways I make spring rolls is by using my versatile Josephine dressing as a sauce. For your convenience, I added the recipe below, in sufficient quantity to allow you to make about 20 rolls.

With rice paper and Asian rice noodles, this recipe is naturally gluten-free. You are free to chop up whatever veggies you like. I like daikon, carrots, celery, and red pepper. I also like to add sprouts, and sometimes, I omit the noodles and only use sprouts.

Keep in mind that rolling these beauties takes some practice so don’t give up if your first one rips or doesn’t look too appetizing! Just keep rolling! Usually, a glass working surface is the least sticky so you can use a plate to roll them on, or a damp clean dishcloth. Make your rolls as tight as possible so the stuffing doesn’t fall out when you bite into them.

Maria’s Vegan Spring Rolls


Makes approximately 20 rolls

1 package rice paper

1 package rice or buckwheat Asian noodles

4 carrots, peeled and sliced into long, thin strips

3 celery stalks, sliced into long, thin strips

1 red bell pepper, sliced into long, thin strips

1 daikon, peeled and sliced into long, thin strips

4 cups sprouts

2 cups arugula

2 cups fresh parsley or basil

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Sea salt


  1. Prepare your Josephine sauce (see recipe below).
  2. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and pour about half the amount of sauce onto noodles and stir. Sprinkle sesame seeds over noodles and allow time to cool.
  3. Once all the vegetables have been sliced, and the noodles have cooled, you are ready to start rolling the spring rolls. You will need to use a work surface that does not stick too much to the rice paper. A glass surface is a better option than wood. You may also want to place a moist paper towel or clean, moist dishcloth on the surface and assemble the rolls on that.
  4. Prepare a large bowl of warm water and dip a rice paper very briefly in the bowl. Lay the rice paper on your work surface.
  5. Lay fresh parsley or basil as your first layer in the center of the rice paper. Once you form the rolls, the parsley or basil leaves will show through the thin rice paper and it will be aesthetically pleasing. Next, lay a handful of noodles, leaving a space about 2 fingers in width at the top and bottom of the roll.
  6. Add the sprouts and a few slices each of the carrot, daikon, celery and pepper.
  7. Add about a teaspoon of sauce over the vegetables. Add a few leaves of arugula.
  8. Roll the rice paper by picking the left side of the rice paper and bringing it over the vegetables. Next, bring the top part over. Then the right side over to the left, as tightly as you can and as carefully as possible, not to pierce the paper with any of the vegetables. Lastly, bring the bottom part over. Turn roll over until you see the parsley or basil. Your roll is complete. Place it on a serving dish. Serve immediately. If you wish to store your rolls, cover them with a moist paper towel and refrigerate them in an airtight container.

The Josephine Sauce


1/3 cup tahini

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons oregano

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 small piece ginger, finely minced


1. In a small bowl, whisk all these ingredients together.


“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” ~W.C. Fields

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Like I always say: if vegan is this delicious, why not vegan?

I don’t think a meat-eater can distinguish the difference between these scrumptious fully plant-based tacos and the meat-filled variety. My secret, as it always is, is in the choice of spices, which I share with you below.

I named this dish after one of my all-time favorite pick-me-up songs by the legendary Celia Cruz, La Vida es un Carnival. Whenever I feel a bit blue, this song cures me!

You can top them anyway you like: with shredded lettuce or cabbage, diced tomatoes, hot peppers, vegan shredded cheese, you name it! Try these delicious tacos with my Mexican Bean and Corn Salad, recipe also below, and have yourself a vegan Mexican night, without leaving your own kitchen!

For those of you looking for an alternative to soy, you may use cannellini beans instead of tofu.

Vegan “La Vida es un Carnaval” Tacos

Makes approximately 6 tacos

1 package organic firm tofu
1 package soft tortillas of your choice
½ red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
5 tablespoons grapeseed oil
½ teaspoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari
½ teaspoon black pepper
Topping for tacos, as desired: shredded lettuce or cabbage, tomatoes, hot peppers or vegan cheese


1. Slice tofu into thick slabs and lay on paper towels to allow excess moisture to be absorbed. Cover with paper towels. You may apply a weight on top of the paper towels, such as another dish. Let stand for about 15-20 minutes.
2. Crumble tofu into a large bowl. Add all ingredients for marinade: 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, chipotle, paprika, cumin, oregano, chili flakes, pepper, minced garlic, balsamic vinegar and tamari. Allow to marinate for about an hour.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil in a large frying pan. Add chopped onion, red pepper, sprinkle sea salt and sauté until soft, about 5-6 minutes.
4. Add marinated tofu and sauté for about 7-8 minutes. The tofu may start to stick to the frying pan, so be sure to scrape it into the tofu mixture. The browned tofu gives it extra flavor.
5. Once the tofu is cooked, remove from heat, cover and set aside.
6. In another frying pan, heat a very small amount of grapeseed oil and drop your soft tortilla into it. Allow the tortilla to brown slightly, about 1-2 minutes and then flip over.
7. Place warm tortilla in a serving dish and add tofu. Top the taco as you like, with shredded iceberg lettuce or cabbage, diced tomatoes, hot peppers, vegan cheese, if you desire.

Mexican Bean and Corn Salad

Makes approximately 6 servings

3 cups organic corn, cooked
2 cups black or kidney beans, cooked
4 green onions, chopped
¼ red bell pepper, chopped
1 red chili pepper, chopped (optional)
1 small tomato, chopped
1 avocado, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from one lime
Sea salt and black pepper to taste


1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss. You may serve it immediately, or chill it in the refrigerator before serving.

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“Todo aquel que piense que la vida siempre es cruel,
tiene que saber que no es asi,
que tan solo hay momentos malos, y todo pasa.
Todo aquel que piense que esto nunca va a cambiar,
tiene que saber que no es asi,
que al mal tiempo buena cara, y todo pasa.”

~Celia Cruz, La Vida es un Carnaval


As you noticed, I veganize everything, including breaded cutlets, known as “cotoletta” in Italian. For this recipe, I combined a whole bunch of organic veggies and black beans, then breaded and baked them. You can also fry them, as is typical for cutlets, but I find it easier to bake and also appreciate the fact that we don’t have to use any additional oil.

This recipe is somewhat time consuming just because there are several vegetables to chop, and they should be chopped into small pieces. The other tricky part is once the mixture has been blended, it tends to be quite sticky.

The bread crumbs come in handy here, as they coat the cutlets, they become manageable. The bread crumbs (I make my own with sprouted whole grain bread which I dry and grate) also add to their deliciousness once baked.

I especially love this served with iceberg lettuce, with a simple lemon vinaigrette. This week, I share with you both recipes.

I also want to share a very informative and quite entertaining video that captured my attention recently. Dr. Michael Greger is a medical doctor, author and speaker who analyzes and presents the latest medical research on nutrition.

In the video, he presents some truly eye-opening information regarding the incredible benefits of a vegan diet. Can you believe that just two weeks of a completely plant-based diet can stop cancer in its tracks? From the research, it appears that a vegan diet is even more important than exercise for cancer prevention!

There you have it: in addition to the obvious ethical and environmental reasons to adopt a plant-based diet, medical research also indicates that it is the single most important thing we can do to improve our health, as well as reverse and prevent disease.

Enjoy this delicious, fully plant-based meal! Live your best health!

Sweet Potato Veggie Bean Cotoletta with Iceberg Lemon Salad


Makes approximately 12 cutlets

2 cups black beans, presoaked and cooked
1 cup kale, stems removed, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons sea salt, more to taste
1 tablespoon steak spice
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup kamut flour
½ cup bread crumbs, more to coat cutlets
5 tablespoons ground flaxseed
½ cup water


  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  2. Line baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flaxseed and water and set aside.
  4. In a large pot, heat grapeseed oil on medium heat. Add all chopped veggies (make sure veggies are chopped into very small pieces), including onion, garlic and ginger. Add all spices and sea salt. Sauté on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until all vegetables are very soft. Remove from heat.
  5. Add chopped parsley and beans. Mash with a potato masher.  Add soaked flax seed, bread crumbs and flour. Mix well.
  6. Place half of the mixture into a food processor (we will only blend half of the mixture) and blend briefly. Return mixture to pot with mashed veggies and mix well.
  7. Form patties by taking a small amount of veggie mixture with your hands and coat with bread crumbs. Lay the patties on the parchment paper.
  8. Place in the oven to bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Flip them over after 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven. You may sprinkle more sea salt overtop if desired. 

Iceberg Lemon Salad


1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 or 2 lemons
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste


1. In large salad bowl, combine lettuce, oil and juice from one lemon. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Toss. Taste test to see if salad has enough lemon for your liking. If desired, you may add the juice from a second lemon.

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The greatest wealth is health.  ~Virgil



Superfood is a term used to describe food with an exceptionally high phytonutrient content considering its calories per serving. In other words, when you eat superfoods, you are getting the highest possible nutrition from every calorie you consume. They are a class of the most potent, concentrated and nutrient-rich foods on the planet.

Some superfoods are rather exotic, like goji berries and chia seeds, while others are common everyday foods such as spinach, blueberries and broccoli.

The recipe I chose to share with you today makes use of many superfoods. In fact, I created it with the intention of including many of the superfoods I love and consume regularly. One of these superfoods is the goji berry, also known as the wolfberry. This incredible tiny berry, indigenous to southeastern Europe and Asia, is a complete protein and contains over twenty important trace minerals! It has so many unique and health-promoting properties, such as: powerful antioxidant, immune-stimulating polysaccharides, anti-aging sesquiterpenes, and liver-cleansing betaine. A truly super-healthy superfood, go get some organic goji berries today!

David Wolfe, in his awesome book, Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, explains how superfoods are both a food and a medicine since they are powerfully nourishing and also healing. Consuming superfoods allows us to get more nutrients while eating less food, all the while improving our overall health and even healing imbalances and diseases.

While there are different opinions on which foods should be considered superfoods, Wolfe lists the top ten superfoods as:

1. Goji berries
2. Cacao
3. Maca
4. Bee products, such as honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and propolis (**Please note that bee products are NOT vegan. Due to the common severe exploitation of bees, I never consume any bee products.**)
5. Spirulina
6. AFA Blue-Green Algae
7. Marine Phytoplankton
8. Aloe Vera
9. Hempseed
10. Coconuts

I encourage you to read up on superfoods and consider adding some to your diet, depending on your needs and health goals.

Here’s a superfood salad I created. I call it the Kale Goji Berry Rocket Fuel Salad because it is highly energizing! It’s also really delicious, full of protein, vital vitamins and minerals and healing superfoods!


Makes approximately 2-3 servings

2 – 3 cups curly kale, stem removed and chopped
1 cup broccoli, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon godji berries
1 tablespoon shelled hemp seeds
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari (sea salt unnecessary if you use tamari) or balsamic vinegar (add sea salt to taste if you use vinegar)
1 tablespoon olive oil or flaxseed oil
Almond shavings for topping


1. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle almond shavings on top if desired.
2. Serve.

“It is becoming clearer that to achieve the best health ever, the best relationship with food ever, and to have the most fun with our food ever, we must consume superfoods, superherbs, and raw and living food cuisine. In doing so, we will find that our desire for less healthy foods will fall away naturally because we no longer find them enjoyable.”

~David Wolfe, Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future

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Inspired by my Italian heritage, I really wanted to veganize one of my favorite classic Sunday lunch dishes: meatballs. I grew up with the smell of tomato sauce and “polpette” (meatballs) slowly cooking stovetop every Sunday morning. Those were the first irresistible aromas, sizzling sounds and bright colors that seduced me into the completely mesmerizing world of cooking. I dedicate this recipe to the one who ignited my love affair with the kitchen: my mother, Lina.

This is not one of my quickest, nor easiest recipes. It takes a while to prepare, and the mixture is quite sticky so forming the (no)meat balls can be a bit messy. However, I’m telling you, this recipe is worth the effort. First of all, you will get a nice big batch of (no)meat balls (around 20 to 25), which can be easily heated up for a quick meal or just as delicious served cold in a (no)meat ball sandwich. Yum!

Meatballs are typically cooked in a pot of tomato sauce, slowly simmering on the stove. I tried baking them covered in sauce in a glass casserole dish and they came out wonderfully. The benefit of baking them is that you don’t have to stir the sauce and thereby risk breaking them. You simply turn them over once after 20 minutes. I found this easier and it allowed them to keep their shape perfectly.

I understand it’s quicker to use store-bought bread crumbs and tomato sauce, but we cannot control the ingredients in these products. Also, they have their own flavor which may differ from the flavors we are trying to create. I include my recipes below and encourage you to try them.

Enjoy these scrumptious little vegan masterpieces!

Vegan (No)Meat Balls


1 package firm organic tofu

1 cup chickpeas, kidney or cannellini beans, cooked and marinated (see marinade recipe below)

1 red pepper, finely chopped

1 small potato, peeled and finely chopped

1 beet or 2 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 zucchini, finely chopped

1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

4 teaspoons sea salt

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground chipotle

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cumin

2 ½ cups chickpea flour

4 teaspoons egg replacer

½ cup shelled hemp seeds

½ cup nutritional yeast

2 cup bread crumbs (see recipe below)

½ cup water

5 tablespoons ground flax seed

½ cup water



  1. Prepare tomato sauce (see recipe below).
  2. Marinate tofu and beans (see recipe below).
  3. In a small bowl, mix ground flax seed and ½ cup of water. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  4. Heat grapeseed oil in large sauce pan. Add onions, garlic, and all chopped vegetables. Add sea salt, pepper, oregano and fennel seeds. Sauté until vegetables are soft, about 10- 15 minutes.
  5. Add marinated tofu and beans to vegetable mixture and stir. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in chopped parsley, paprika, chipotle, turmeric and cumin.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1 ½ cups chickpea flour, egg replacer, hemp, nutritional yeast and bread crumbs. Place ½ of the mixture into food processor. Add ½ cup of water and blend until soft and clumpy.
  7. Add blended mixture back to bowl with vegetable mixture. Stir in flaxseed mixture. Add remaining chickpea flour. Stir well. Mixture will be very sticky.
  8. Form nomeat balls with your hand and coat with bread crumbs. You can add them to your pot of tomato sauce and allow the nomeat balls to simmer for 30-45 minutes in the sauce, gently stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you may add about 1 cup of tomato sauce to a casserole dish, and more sauce to cover each nomeat ball, and bake the nomeat balls (covered with aluminum foil, punctured with a fork to allow steam to escape) at 350˚F for 40-50 minutes. Gently turn the nomeat balls over after 20 minutes of baking.
  9. Serve warm with pasta or salad, or any way you desire!


Marinade for tofu and beans/chickpeas

In a large glass container, place crumbled tofu and beans or chickpeas, and mix in the ingredients which follow. Marinate for about 2 hours prior to cooking.

2 gloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive OR grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons unsalted steak spice

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari

1 bay leaf (remove before cooking)


Homemade Bread Crumbs


4-5 slices of bread of your choice, dried and hardened (takes about 2 days)

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Choose bread that you would like to grate. Break it into pieces and place on a cooking sheet. Leave it in the oven for at least 2 days to dry out and harden. Do not turn on the oven.
  2. Once bread is completely dry and hard, put it in a blender or food processor and grate.
  3. Pour into large bowl and add oregano, salt and garlic powder.
  4. Use as desired.


Maria’s Easy Tomato Sauce


4 cups strained tomatoes (comes in a glass jar)

⅓ cup tomato paste (optional if you like really thick sauce)

3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, diced

1 bay leaf

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

4-6 leaves fresh basil

Sea salt to taste


1. Heat oil over low heat in large pot. Add chopped onions and sauté over low heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

2. Stir in all remaining ingredients and let simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours.  Discard bay leaf and basil before serving.


You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook’s year. I get more excited by that than anything else.  

~Chef Mario Batali

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