Masala Dabba

Munira brought back a masala dabba for me from India. So exciting! The next morning I filled it with some of the spices I use the most, and drew a key to help me remember what is what. It was SO fun to use it to make my Pav Bhaji this weekend. I need to make Aloo Patta Gobhi next.
Thank you SO much, Munira!

Larry's Miso Soup

Larry put Japanese miso powder on his Christmas wish list; he especially wanted powder since paste can go bad if you don't use it up quickly. Good thing, since we just opened the jar today,  5 months later! He made up a quick recipe using our roasted seaweed snacks, some silken tofu in the pantry, and chives from our garden. It was super fast and delicious.  Ingredients1 T miso powder (we like marukome from Japan) 1 roasted seaweed, cut up 1/4 cup tofu 1 T chives, chopped 1.5 C hot water InstructionsPut the miso powder, seaweed, tofu, and chives in a bowl. Put water in a kettle and heat it up. Pour hot water in bowl. Stir and serve. Larry says one usually eats it by slurping the side of the bowl, stirring as you slurp! (A handy lesson from living in Japan :)

Mushroom Leek Quiche with Red Pepper Relish

Our neighbor Elsa gave us 4 beautiful fresh leeks from her garden. I had been planning to make my chickpea tart, but then I found a mushroom leek quiche in Vegan Comfort Classics that looked worth a try! Here's my slightly adapted version. Oh, the red pepper relish is amazing on crackers or anything else you might serve a chutney with. If you have time for nothing else, make the relish!

5/1/20 Update: The second time I made this it was EVEN BETTER. Our garden was overflowing in chives, so I used 3 cups of chives, 2 zucchinis, and 1 cup mushrooms ('cause that's what I had; oh, and fresh sage from the garden). For the relish, I used red pepper and red onion. (The zucchini & pepper was from our new organic farm delivery service). OMG yum. Larry said it was stupendous!

Ingredients 1 whole wheat pie crust (purchase or make)

2 T canola oil
3 C leeks OR chives, sliced
1-2 C mushrooms, sliced
2 C zucchini or broccoli, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp…

Spiced Roti

Our friend Judy shared this roti for two recipe with us, which just uses flour and water, and is very good! Munira adds some spice to her roti, and luckily, she shared her secrets with me in Whatsapp. I also searched to see what other spices people use in rot. So I've adapted the recipe (below) to include some optional spicing :)
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
3/4 C water
1/2 tsp salt

optional spices (mix and match)
1 tsp cumin seeds or 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp roasted flax seeds of flax meal
1/2 tsp garam masala (or other curry powder)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp fenugreek (if not using leaves, below)
2 T fenugreek leaves or cilantro leaves
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Instructions In a large bowl, mix the flour and optional spices/leaves of your choices. Add 2/3 cup water and see how wet your dough is; add water until you get pizza dough consistency (don't want it too gummy). Knead a bit. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough…

Colorful Coleslaw with Orange & Cilantro Vinaigrette

We have a ton of fresh cilantro growing in our side yard, to I searched for recipes that use a lot of it. This coleslaw recipe looked good, and also uses oranges, which we have tons of. Here's my version, with a few changes. It was yummy - Larry loved it!
Ingredients 2 carrots, shredded
Half a cabbage (about 6 cups, red or green or mix), shredded
1/2 C red onion, chopped
1 C cilantro leaves

1/4 C plain yogurt (I use homemade)
1/4 vegan mayo
1/4 C fresh squeezed orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
3 T white vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
Instructions Shred/slice the carrots, cabbage, and onion (I used my food processor with slicing attachment) and put in a big bowl with the cilantro. Whisk up the dressing in a separate bowl. Mix dressing into veggies until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Serve!


Growing up, Larry's family had a tradition of eating applesauce at most meals. Since we've started doing weekly zoom dinners with his family, they decided everyone should always have applesauce for dessert. Cute! But it's been hard to find jars of applesauce. We're just seeing pouches and single-serve containers as options at Costco and our Instacart orders. Yuck.  But apples are easy to get. And I make a mean ginger pear sauce.... So why not make applesauce, too? Of course!
Ingredients 7-8 apples (I use gala or fuji), chopped
1/4 cup sugar (brown or white)
juice from one lemon
1 C water
1/2 tsp cinnamon, or a cinnamon stick
Instructions Chop the apples and eat around the core :) Oh, I leave the skin on, of course - it's where most of the nutrition is.

Put the apples in a soup pot and add sugar, lemon, cinnamon and water. Stir and let sit awhile as you putter around (like an hour or three; whatever fits your schedule - but stir it occasionally).

Cook the mixture over…


Getting fake meat during the pandemic is unpredictable; some basic things (tofu, tempeh, soyrizo) are often out of stock. I wanted to make my Mexican lasagna, but couldn't get soyrizo. So I wondered... can I make my own? Turns out, yes! I found a couple of recipes that use textured vegetable protein (TVP, which I wasn't aware of before now), and with a few tweaks, came up with this recipe, which makes enough for 2 lasagnas (use half, freeze half). Verdict: Delicious! We definitely like it better than purchased soyrizo.

Aside: I now have lots of TVP and soy curls in my pantry (need to check out Judi's soy curls recipes).  So I'm feeling self sufficient. I haven't been to a grocery store in 6+ weeks - getting by with mail orders from Costco & Amazon for dried goods like beans & soy protein, local Albert & Eve produce delivery, and Instacart from Costco, Sigonas, and Sprouts (our TJ substitute, since TJs doesn't allow instacart).
Ingredients 1 3/4 C tex…

Sweet Potato Pizza with Almond Ricotta

In one of our zoom chats with friends during the pandemic, Robert & Judy shared their desktop to flip through some random photos. I asked them to pause on a beautiful pizza they made for dinner. Judy said it was one of her favorites! So I had to give it a try. I found a crust recipe and adapted it; the dough turned out crunchy and good! We wanted a bit more flavor, so I added kalamata olives, as well as whipped almond ricotta,  like True Food Kitchen does.
Ingredients Toppings: Sweet potatoes or squash, thinly sliced Red onion, sliced salt & pepper 2 C kale (or could try arugula) 1 T balsamic vinegar 1 T fresh chopped rosemary (optional) Kalamata olives (optional)
Whipped almond ricotta (or mozzarella for non-vegans)
Pizza dough (if making) 1 1/3 C flour 1 T cornmeal 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp sugar 3/4 C water 1 T oil

Whipped almond ricotta:
1 C blanched almonds (raw almonds in boiling water 60 seconds, cool, pop off skins)
1/3 C water
1 T…

Split Pea Soup

We often enjoy Andersen's Pea Soup in Buellton when we drive to or from southern California. Andersen's sells bags of peas along with a pea soup recipe, which I've slightly adapted to add more veggies and a hot pepper. It was especially delicious and tasted SO much like the restaurant's when I made it this time using split peas that I ordered from Washington (below), leeks instead of onion (thanks, Elsa!), and added baby carrot top greens from our Albert & Eve organics delivery.
Ingredients 2 T canola oil
1 small hot pepper, diced
2 cups green split peas
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped (+ carrot tops/greens if any)
1 onion or leek, chopped
8 C water or veggie broth

1 bayleaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Instructions Saute pepper, onion, celery, and carrot (and carrot tops, if using) in oil in a soup pot for about 5 minutes. Add spices and stir a few minutes. Add water and split peas. Bring to a boil and boil hard for 20 minutes.…

PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookies

We really like these PB2 brownies - super easy to make, not too sweet, and very satisfying. But it's time to try some other desserts. I still have a lot of PB2 and almond butter; surely one can make a good chocolate chip cookie from that? I googled, looked through several recipes, and decided to try a twist on these vegan chocolate chip almond butter cookies by Beaming Baker. I made several changes, including using half PB2 and making them less sweet (most desserts are always too sweet!), and used brown sugar and fewer chocolate chips (half the amount listed was plenty!)

Note: If you don't have PB2, just use 1 1/4 cups of any flour (oat, almond, wheat, or a mix).
Makes 2 dozen cookies.
Ingredients Dry ingredients:
1/2 cup PB2
3/4 cups any other flour (I used wheat)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:
1/2 C almond butter
3 T canola oil
1/3 C brown sugar
2 flax eggs (2 T flaxmeal, 6 T warm water)
1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 C chocolate chips

PB2 Chocolate Brownies

Thinking about alternatives to my (limited) flour as we go shopping less during the pandemic, I recalled that I have two big jars of PB2 (powdered peanut butter) that have been in my cupboard for awhile. Googling brought up several lists of healthyPB2recipes including some PB2 Flourless Chocolate Brownies. I played with the recipe and made a few changes. In particular, it worked best for me with half PB2 and half flour, sugar in place of honey, and fewer chocolate chips. (And of course flaxmeal in place of eggs!). It's really yummy and not too sweet!
Ingredients Dry:
1/2 C powdered peanut butter
1/2 C flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 flax egg (1 T flaxmeal, 3 T water)
1/3 cup sugar
1 C plus 1T water
1 tsp vanilla

1/3 to 1/2 C chocolate chips (1/4 cup is too little, I found!)
Instructions Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 8x8 or 9x9 pan with vegan butter.

Make flax egg (mix flaxmeal and water) and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the dry in…

Yellow Split Pea Dal

Loving my Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen cookbook. With the uneasiness in the world, our pantry is full of dried beans and lentils - and I'll definitely be making this again. Here's a slightly adapted (and tripled) recipe from the cookbook. (Thank you, Munira, for bringing us all the great lentils and other items from your Indian grocery store - and especially for your homemade garam masala!)
Ingredients 3 cups dry yellow split pea or chana dal
5+ cups water for cooking)
(Note: you can also use a combination of lentils of similar cooking times such as as split pea, chana dal, brown lentils, green mung beans, or split pigeon pea. I just like the yellow color :)

2 T canola oil
1 T cumin seeds
2 cups chopped red onion
1-2 green or red chiles, chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (2-inch) knob ginger, chopped
1.5 tsp turmeric
1.5 tsp coriander
1.5 tsp garam masala
4 tomatoes, chopped (or mix of canned and chopped)
1 tsp salt

fresh chopped cilantro
fresh chopped mint

Aloo Patta Gobhi (Indian Spiced Potato Cabbage)

Munira often makes a potato cabbage fry for us that is yummy. I love cabbage and have a head of it that needs used, and found a recipe in my Vegan Richa cookbook to try!
Ingredients 1 T canola oil
1 T cumin seeds
1 T mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (optional)
1 hot green pepper
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 (1/2) inch knob of ginger, minced
1 tsp turmeric
2 medium potatoes, chopped (might pre-microwave 3 min)
5+ cups chopped green cabbage
1 tsp salt
2 T cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Instructions Saute cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds (if using), and pepper in oil. Add garlic, ginger, and cook 2 minutes. Add turmeric and salt and mix. Add potatoes and mix well. Add cabbage and mix. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and spice. Serve hot, garnished with cilantro.


Some supplements we take to support healthy aging and longevity. (See also COVID Digression.)

Lifestyle factors important to longevity include healthy diet, exercise, good sleep, not smoking, not drinking in excess, and staying on top of health issues (like high cholesterol or blood pressure). What do we do? We're vegan for health reasons, though also glad that it helps animals and the planet. Plant-based diets confer some of the longevity benefits of calorie restriction, plus we practice intermittent fasting. Exercise gets at least an hour/day (walking, cardio, strength). Sleep gets 8 hours in a dark, quiet, cold room with an open window, and no food 4 hrs before bed. In addition, we take some supplements - ones that show meaningful effect sizes in studies and are (importantly) safe. I've included a few research links below; search evidence-based sources like pubmed and nutritionfacts for more info. Also, many thanks to my brother Jeff, a psychobiologist who shares with me lo…

Creamy Soy-Almond Yogurt

I bought a new instant pot to get the Yogurt button, and made some batches following this blog post on soy yogurt. (I also tried using soaked almonds processed in my ninja blender which was pretty good but a little gritty and more work;  oat and coconut milk did not work -- it's critical that the milk you use has zero additives). Using soy milk is so easy, but was hard to get it to be as thick as I'd like. Cooking longer - I tried up to 15 hours -- helps, but it's super tangy!

Enter my brother Jeff, who perfected it after I sent him home with a jar. He bought an instant pot and did several experiments using combinations of soy milk and thickeners (like soy flour & cornstarch) and syrup for the yeasties to eat. He also dissolved them by boiling them in the milk first. The winning combo: Soy milk, almond flour, and (ginger) syrup, boiled, then add starter and cook in the instant pot with water around the jars to better distribute the heat. This takes almost half the time…

Lentil Curry Soup

One of our favorite restaurants, Cafe Sprout, has a spicy red curry soup that we love -- with chickpeas, tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion, red lentils, and quinoa. Isa also has a Sweet Potato and Red Curry Soup that looks good. So I made up a recipe that pulls from both. Larry said it was fantastic! (Originally posted September 2015; updated February 2020 to be even better :)
Ingredients 1T canola oil
1 small hot pepper (like serrano), diced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
2-3 cups cauliflower, chopped

1 can diced tomatoes (or 2 cans if big batch)
6 cups vegetable broth 1 lb (16 oz) dried red lentils, washed
1/2 C quinoa (dry, uncooked)

1 can or 2 cups chickpeas, cooked
1/2 to 1 can lite coconut milk
3T fresh lime juice

2 tsp cumin seeds (or ground & add w/other spices)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T fresh ginger, minced
1 T curry powder
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Almond Citron Biscotti

We bumped into Elsa the other evening on a walk, and asked how she used the Candied Buddha's Hand she made. She makes biscotti! Larry turned to me and said, "Biscotti, please." I found a recipe for vegan orange almond biscotti by Minimalist Baker and with a few small adaptations (like adding orange juice as holycowvegan does).  I tried using all whole wheat flour the first time (plus some corn meal) and it was very good, but the whole wheat was a little overpowering for the delicate flavors. I mentioned this to my friend Judi, and she suggested adding in almond flour, oat flour, and/or tapioca flour to lighten things up (she rarely uses white flour). The recipe below is updated to add in a mix of such flours, and it was fantastic! I'll keep using the mix below, but of course you may want to experiment with other flours (or white).
Ingredients Wet:
1/2 cup vegan butter or coconut oil (melted)
3/4 cup sugar
2 flax eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest from 1 orange
Juice from…