Monthly Archives: July 2016

Pantry staples & new recipes.

August veggies


Our garden is flourishing right now with many different vegetables. Some are old favorites like potatoes, carrots, peas & broccoli. Some I have never heard of; my husband loves to try new types of greens. So, I need some new, simple recipes to keep up! I enjoy going through magazines, websites & older cookbooks for recipes. There are so many out there!

I have found that cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be difficult. Time consuming, yes ūüôā But if you make large batches, portions can be frozen. The key is to keep it simple, starting with your pantry.

I have been asked, by many of you, what I keep in my pantry & what type of food processor I use. The only “culinary machines” I have in my pantry are: a Bullet blender, an immersion blender, a slow cooker (crock-pot), toaster oven & my Vitamix. They are simple to use & all I have needed. The most important implements are my mismatched knives ūüôā Chopping & dicing veggies can be a mindfulness event. A way of slowing down & connecting to your food.

Let’s look at what staples I have in my pantry & then go on to some recipes.

My pantry staples include the following ~ all are organic.

  • Various dried beans: pinto, chili, kidney, soldier, garbanzo, lentils &13 bean mix. I store them in quart, large mouth, canning jars.
  • Grains: quinoa & ¬†different types of rice. My favorite is black rice because of its nutty taste. I also keep brown rice for recipes that need a “plainer” rice. Also¬†stored in quart, large mouth, canning jars.
  • Rolled & steel cut oats.
  • Pasta. Plain old semolina.
  • Raw nuts & seeds: walnuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds & whatever I find on sale.¬†Also¬†stored in quart, large mouth, canning jars.
  • Popcorn.
  • Canned organic diced & roasted tomatoes (BPA free can)
  • 4 ounce cans of diced green chilies. Wonderful to throw into any stir-fry, bean pot etc.
  • Whole grain cereal.
  • Whole grain crackers.
  • Spices & dried herbs. The herbs are from my herbal garden.
  • Nutritional yeast: on popcorn & veggies gives buttery flavor.
  • My favorite broth:



  • Coconut oil. I like Dr. Bronner’s the best.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • Shoyu sauce, or Tamari.
  • Balsamic Vinegar.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. Braggs.
  • Honey. Local, organic.
  • Maple Syrup.
  • Vegenaise; vegan mayonaise.
  • Mustard…I love them all ūüôā
  • Whole wheat flour. Bob’s Red Mill.

This morning I noticed that I had some cottage cheese leftover after making Spanikopita for my visiting family. I Googled ways to use it & found an interesting recipe for high protein pancakes. I decided to give them a try. It is the easiest pancake recipe I have ever used. I whipped it up in my Bullet blender so it would be an easy cleanup. 

Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Pancakes: Click to print it out & to see the nutritional information.

By bramble on October 14, 2002


Photo by michelle_sandiego

  • Prep Time: 5 mins,¬†Total Time: 15 mins, Servings: 1…made 3 medium pancakes.

ABOUT THIS RECIPE:¬†“These are wonderful and are almost too healthy to be true. Lots of calcium, protein, fiber, etc. I usually eat them without any topping and just keep popping them in my mouth! Yum. But a good jam will do them nicely as well.”¬†Very good! I ate them like toast with fresh fruit.



    • 1/2 cup oatmeal
    • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 4 egg whites:¬†You can use 2 whole eggs if you want to.¬†


  1. Blend all ingredients in blender.
  2. Spray skillet with cooking spray and cook just like”silver dollar” pancakes, a few small ones at a time.¬†I used olive oil for the first one & tried coconut oil for the others. Both were delicious.
  3. Top with your favorite pancake topping! I had fresh strawberries, & blueberries.

For vegans from Kitchen Treaty:¬†Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Oat Blender Pancakes¬†Check out the “Browse all recipes tab”.

Flourless Pancakes ‚Äď 3 Ingredients¬†This recipe is from Chocolate Covered Katie! I can’t wait to try them. super simple!

I love bean dishes because they are easy, high in fiber & protein. I don’t pre-soak the dried beans. I bring them to a boil, let them boil 2 minutes, turn off the heat & let them sit for 30 minutes to an hour. I then add all my ingredients & simmer them for 3 hours or until the beans & veggies are soft. I like to vary the mixture with different types of beans, rice or potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, the can of roasted tomatoes, & a can of chopped green chili’s. Super simple! I also add a square of the Not-Chicken Broth. If I have leftovers by the end of the week, I use my blender to make it into a bean dip/spread! Portions can be frozen.¬†

This is a good salad recipe. Using canned beans here is the best option. Although I wonder if 13 bean soup mix, cooked ahead, would work …hmm…will have to try that.¬†An Easy Bean Salad That‚Äôs Perfect for Summer Parties¬†When you go to this recipe, look to the right, there is an index for more recipes.

The same website also has this: Summer Challenge: Add 1 More Vegetable to Each Meal! Great tips, check it out.

We have a lot of an Asian green called Mitzuna & another green, Broccoli Rabe in our garden. We put the tender leaves in our salads. As they get larger, I use them both in place of spinach in recipes. I tried combining¬†the two in a pesto in place of basil. It was very good. I also throw in a¬†handful or two of one, or both, when cooking a pot of beans or a stir-fry. They thicken it & also give it a nutritional boost ūüôā You can use kale & chard the same way.¬†

Here are some very good simple recipes for Mizuna & Broccoli Rabe:

Maria’s Broccoli Rabe¬†¬†from AllRecipes. I use a lot of recipes from this website. They have an array of recipes for non-vegetarians, vegetarians, & vegans.

7 Ways to Use Mizuna  from Early Morning Farms. Check out the Recipe Index. Lots of tasty recipes.


Jae Ekhaml-Edwards


My challenge this week is how to cook a big basket of sugar snap peas, green beans & snow peas. When harvesting them, I snack on them raw. Yum!

I have roasted them with potatoes before & they were very good. 




Roasted my way.

Combine the following in a blender & blend until smooth:

  • 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil depending on how many vegetables you are cooking.
  • 1/8-1/4 cup Tamari sauce
  • Fresh/dried sage, thyme & tarragon to taste, about 1 tsp. each.
  • Lemon pepper to taste

Toss the vegetables in the above marinade. Lay out in one layer on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in oven at 425 for 30-35 minutes. Serve hot with a large salad for dinner. The left-overs can be stir-fried with scrambled eggs for breakfast or lunch.

Last night I tried this recipe from Taste of Home: Check out their recipe tab at the top of the web page. 

Sugar Snap Pea Stir-fry Recipe: Excellent!

TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 20 min.   MAKES: 6 servings


  • 1 pound fresh sugar snap peas¬†I threw in snow peas, green beans & sugar snap peas. Turned out to be a wonderful mix.
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil ¬†I used Olive Oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced¬†We love garlic, I added 4 cloves in chunks.
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil ¬†I like the darkest sesame oil.
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted


  • In a large nonstick skillet or wok, saute the peas in canola oil until crisp-tender. Add the garlic, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and cayenne; saute 1 minute longer. Add basil; toss to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.¬†Sesame oil is a low heat oil. It is better to use it at the end of any recipe for flavor & not for cooking. It doesn’t take very much for a flavorful dish.¬†

Slow cookers are so very convenient. You just throw everything in the pot & leave it alone. If you have a safe counter to put it on, you can leave it for the day & come home to a cooked meal! What can be more simple, well maybe a personal cook ūüôā

I make granola in my slow cooker. It is easy & I haven’t burned it yet! It just requires you to be home for 2-3 hours to stir every 30 minutes! Well worth the time. This is the recipe I use.

My mother taught me to use a pressure cooker when I was a kid. I loved the flavor of the foods when cooked this way. I bought one for the stove top & used it for many years. I lost it in one of my moves ūüôĀ Time to replace it.

  • Cookie + Kate¬†¬†New site that I found.¬†
  • Another new site. Can’t go wrong with a name like this: Chocolate Covered Katie!¬†¬†“Katie has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, FOX, Dr. Oz, The Huffington Post, and ABC’s 5 O‚ÄôClock News. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating dessert every single day!”¬†
  • I have shared this website before, but it worth repeating.¬†9 Heart-Healthy Vegan Greek and Mediterranean Recipes¬†
  • Another site for good recipes.¬†Bob’s Red Mill Recipes¬†
  • ¬†Kitchen Treaty¬†This site has “protein powered recipes” & “refined sugar” options. Look under “Recipes by diet”. Nice site.

I have a lot of cookbooks. Too many to list here. Here are the two that I use most often.

Jae Ekhaml-Edwards

Jae Ekhaml-Edwards

August is here already. The time of harvest. Enjoy all the wonderful produce & fruits from your local farmers market. With all these simple recipes you have no excuse not to try a new vegetable!  

Until next week….Mary ūüôā¬†



Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are always in the news. The big question & debate has been if they are safe or not. This week that is not why they are newsworthy. The debate this time is whether or not a new study is correct in concluding that artificial sweeteners can cause an increase in appetite of 30% resulting in a weight gain. Along with this news, Pepsi had decided to drop the artificial sweetener aspartame from its Diet Pepsi sodas, but has changed its mind. I want to address all three issues: are they safe, do they cause weight gain & why did Pepsi drop aspartame in their diet sodas in the first place.



We are on a constant quest to find the perfect substitute for sugar. I would wager that billions of dollars have been spent in laboratories to find this liquid gold. I would like to share this article with you because it shows the lengths we go to, to find that perfect calorie free sweetener. The authors search leads him to “the miracle berry”: In Search of the Perfect Sweetener. Here are a few quotes from the author,¬†Michael Mosley.¬†I have had a love affair with sugar that has lasted all of my life. I adore the sweet stuff and in my youth knocked back gallons of sugary drinks and ate as many desserts as I could sink my teeth into.

Unfortunately it is a love affair that has brought me nothing but grief. The sugar I gleefully ate and drank rotted my teeth, so that almost every tooth in my face has had to be filled, drilled or replaced. All those sugary carbs also helped pile on the fat, which sent my blood sugar levels soaring.”

In the article he states: For years now there has been a vigorous debate as to whether using artificial sugars will help you lose weight or not. A recent meta-analysis which looked at the results of more than 100 different human studies concluded that when artificial sweeteners replace sugar in the diet (rather than simply being added on top) then this can lead to weight loss.

The Harvard School of Public Health, however, points out that there are lots of conflicting studies, including those which suggest that drinking artificially sweetened drinks may increase your risk, not just of weight gain, but of type 2 diabetes. No-one really knows how artificial sugars could do this but a study done by a group in Israel suggests it might be via the impact of artificial sugar on your gut bacteria.

In this study, published last year in the science journal, Nature, the Israeli researchers asked a group of lean and healthy volunteers who didn’t normally use artificial sweeteners to consume the maximum acceptable dose for a week.¬†At the end of the week half the volunteers were showing signs of glucose intolerance, an early step in the journey to type 2 diabetes. The researchers think this could be because the bacteria in their guts reacted to the artificial sugars by secreting substances that cause inflammation. This is certainly what they have seen in animals.” A healthy gut is extremely important. We have learned that there is a direct connection between brain & gut.¬†What affects the gut, affects the brain.

Read the rest of the article to see what he found on his quest. The last line states: “Others may have a better experience, but for me the quest for a perfect artificial sweetener continues.”

Are artificial sweeteners safe? This article makes a good point: The Truth About Sweeteners:¬†Both Cancer Research UK and the US National Cancer Institute have said sweeteners don’t cause cancer.¬†“Large studies looking at people have now provided strong evidence that artificial sweeteners are safe for humans,” states Cancer Research UK.¬†All sweeteners in the EU¬†undergo a rigorous safety assessment by the¬†European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), before they can be used in food and drink.¬†As part of the¬†evaluation process, the EFSA sets an acceptable daily intake (ADI), which is the maximum amount considered safe to consume each day over the course of your lifetime.¬†You don’t need to keep track of how much sweetener you consume each day, as our eating habits are factored in when specifying where sweeteners can be used.”¬†In light of the obesity problem world wide, I am not sure I believe that “our eating habits” would curtail using more than is safe.

The article has the following list of some of the most common sweeteners approved for use in the UK. In the article, you can click on the sweetener for further information concerning the scientific basis for it’s safety.

  • acesulfame K
  • aspartame
  • saccharin
  • sorbitol¬†
  • sucralose
  • stevia (steviol glycosides)
  • xylitol

The question that I think we should be asking now is not if they are safe, but if they are healthy: “Food manufacturers claim sweeteners help prevent tooth decay, control blood sugar levels and reduce our calorie intake.” This doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthy choices. Continue reading the article for the authors conclusions.

From the FDA website:¬†¬†Additional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for use in Food in the United States¬†Excellent information about the artificial¬†sweeteners¬†that are approved in the U.S. I honestly didn’t know that their were so many ūüôĀ

Here is my humble oppinion. Based on all the research I have looked at, artificial sweeteners have been declared safe. Ok, going on from that premise, whether I believe it or not, I don’t think they are healthy choices for the following reasons.

  • They give the false illusion that because they have zero calories we can eat & drink as much as we want.¬†
  • Drinking a diet drink “gives permission” to eat the double cheese & bacon burger with extra large fries.
  • Eating sugar free candies, cookies & cakes “gives permission” to eat the whole bag.
  • Using artificial sweeteners takes away our responsibility to limit food items with added sugar.¬†
  • Looking at the ingredient list in some of these processed foods, besides the artificial sweetener, we would find high amounts of salt & fat.¬†
  • Just because it says sugar free it doesn’t necessarily mean it is calorie free. Read the labels!

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought this way.¬†Pepsi to drop artificial sweetener aspartame:¬† ¬†April 27, 2015…A controversial artificial sweetener is being removed from Diet Pepsi in the US amid consumer concerns about its safety.¬†Don’t let me hear an “awww, poor¬†Pepsi”! Read on…

Aspartame-free cans of the drink will go on sale from August in America, but not in Britain.¬†Regulators in the UK and the US insist aspartame is still safe to use in soft drinks.¬†PepsiCo says its decision is a commercial one – responding to consumer preferences.”¬†Those people who drink diet sodas in the U.S. voted by not buying the Pepsi products with Aspartame. Those consumers either felt it was unsafe or unhealthy. Pepsi has responded to these concerns because it has hurt their bottom line, $$$, in the U.S.

We do have the power to change products we don’t trust. Don’t buy them. Corporations are hurt when there is a substantial loss of money involved. And, the opposit can occur! Fans of Aspartame in their Pepsi, flooded PepsiCo with demands to have it back. So…..

The aspartame is back in Diet Pepsi:¬†June 28th, 2016…“Just 10 months after Pepsi (PEP) announced it would stop using the artificial sweetener in Diet Pepsi due to consumer safety concerns, the company said it will bring aspartame back with the launch of Diet Pepsi Classic Sweetener Blend.¬†It will hit store shelves in September in “retro light blue packaging,” and it will come in 12-packs, 2-liter bottles and 20-ounce bottles at retail outlets throughout the U.S.¬†“For those consumers who love Diet Pepsi with aspartame, we have been exploring ways to make it available,” the company said in a statement.”

When the company announced last spring that it planned to remove aspartame from Diet Pepsi, it cited declining sales and health concerns stemming from scientific studies linking artificial sweeteners to obesity and cancer in lab rats.

Pepsi (PEP) doesn’t release sales data for individual products, but the decision to bring back the aspartame recipe indicates that switching away from it did not help revive flagging sales of its diet drinks.”¬†

An interesting way to give consumers what they want. 

“Consumers want choice in diet colas, so we’re refreshing our U.S. lineup to provide three options that meet differing needs and taste preferences,” Pepsi said in a statement.”¬†A very good article.




Artificial Sweeteners Can Increase Appetite by 30 Percent: “With their zero-calorie content, artificial sweeteners are often recommended as part of a healthy diet for weight loss or controlling diabetes. However, these synthetic sugar substitutes could actually stimulate appetite, leading to increased calorie consumption of up to 30%, according to an Australian study published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

A team of researchers from the University of Sydney has studied the effects of artificial sweeteners on human and animal brains for the first time. Often recommended to dieters looking to limit their sugar intake, the research shines a less favorable light on such products.”

Later in the article: Whenregular” sugar is eaten, dopamine is released in the brain and blood sugar levels rise, causing a secondary stimulation to produce dopamine. When eating artificial sweeteners, dopamine produces the initial sensation of pleasure, but the second effect doesn’t occur because sugar-free sweeteners have no impact on blood sugar levels. As a result, the body sends signals requesting more food to compensate.”¬†This is why dieters drinking diet sodas gain weight & dieters drinking regular sodas in moderation lose weight.

As I stated earlier, the debate shouldn’t be over safety at this time, it should be about whether or not these substitutes are healthy choices. We should look at them like we do gluten free products. If there is a medical reason, diabetes for example, then you may want to use them in moderation. But in general, omit them from your nutrition plan. Instead, use your favorite sweetener in moderation.

I am a big believer in simplicity. I don’t like things in my life to be complicated. This extends to¬†nutrition¬†as well. Why eat processed foods or boxed foods when a simple salad, grain & a simple protein made from whole foods is easier, tastier & healthier. So, why use an “artificial sweetener” in your coffee, tea or in a recipe when your favorite sweetener is simple, tastier & natural. If I drank sweetened coffee, you can be certain I would want a teaspoon of real sugar, not a¬†chemical¬†in a pink¬†packet!

Enough said! ¬†Have a sweet week ūüôā …Mary

Send your questions or comments to 

I couldn’t resist adding these delicious recipes.¬†Believe the Dairy-Free Hype! 25 Vegan Ice Cream Recipes Anyone Can Make¬†“When can everyone agree about politics? When they lead to the celebration of something everyone loves! In 1984, former President Ronald Regan declared July National Ice Cream Month and in particular, July 20th is National Ice Cream Day this year. Ice cream is something we can all agree on!¬†There are more and more brands of delicious dairy-free ice cream available, but it‚Äôs also easy to make your own. You don‚Äôt even need an ice cream maker to do it. Plus, when you make your own ice cream, you get to pick and choose the ingredients and guess what? Dairy does not have to be one of them.

Interesting articles:


Hooray for Pasta!

Who doesn’t love pasta! I was so excited to see this new study:¬†Italian researchers say pasta isn’t fattening¬†: ¬†Researchers at Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed I.R.C.C.S. said their findings suggest pasta consumption is associated with a lower body mass index, or BMI.¬†After reviewing the data from two significant epidemiological studies, researchers determined that pasta consumption was not linked to a higher rate of obesity. They found the opposite.” …..”Iacoviello says that followers of the Mediterranean diet can consume pasta as they would other components of the diet — in moderation.”¬†Hmm, there is that word again, moderation ūüôā¬†

I read the research study & several articles about this revelation. What they are saying is that the pasta itself is not “fattening or bad”. It has been a staple in the Mediterranean diet dating back to the ancient Etruscan civilization. For more information about it’s history: International Pasta Organization.¬†This is before obesity.¬†Pasta probably got its “bad” reputation from the sauce. It has gone from a healthy vegetable topping to sauces with high amounts of salt, sugar & fat.

Pasta is a processed food, but one that has a simple ingredient list. Traditional pasta is made from semolina durum flour, salt, egg & water. Pasta is easy to make: Basic Pasta Recipe with Egg. Most pasta you buy in the U.S. is made from semolina durum flour, salt & water. You can also make this eggless pasta at home: Eggless Pasta 

PictureI prefer to buy my pasta to have on hand. Such a simple, healthy, & fast meal. The brand I use is Bionaturae/Durum Semolina.¬†This brand also has gluten free pasta & whole wheat pasta. I love pasta & I like it cooked al dente. I can’t achieve this with rice pasta or even whole wheat. I just don’t like the texture. Bionaturae’s gluten free is made with rice flour & potato starch. It is the best texture I have found. Their whole wheat is very good as well. But I still prefer the simple durum semolina pasta. Look at their website product list. Their canned products are BPA free!

Pasta comes in lots of shapes & sizes. Pasta Shapes Dictionary: There is a pasta shape to complement every pasta dish out there. Pairing the correct pasta shape can make a big difference in your overall satisfaction when cooking.

Pasta shapes with holes or ridges like mostaccioli or radiatore are perfect for chunkier sauces, but remember no matter what shape you chose, portion control is key.”¬†Hmm, moderation again! This site also has recipes for pasta dishes.

The Ultimate Guide to Pasta Shapes:¬†“Pasta is a simple and wonderful foodstuff. It‚Äôs up there with pizza, gelato, and tiramisu as one of the great culinary inventions to come out of Italy.”¬†This article is on the James Oliver website. It also has fantastic recipes.¬†

Let’s look at sauces. When you eat at a restaurant, the sauces can be full of salt, fats & sugar. The same “problem” ingredients can be found in prepared sauces at the supermarket. It is important to check the ingredient list.

  • Check the calories per serving, it varies wildly!
  • Check the stores generic sauce. It usually has less added salt, sugar & fat. You can add fresh veggies to it at home.
  • Look at the sodium & potassium on the label. Sauces can be very salty.
  • Check for sugars in the ingredient list & on the nutrition portion of the label. Honey & high fructose corn syrup can be added. Remember that tomatoes have natural sugar, so expect the sugar to be about 4-5 grams. You are looking for added sugars.
  • If meat is included in the sauce, check the ingredients to see what kind of meat is added & if there are added fats.
  • Cheesy sauces: I recommend you pass on these.

Tomato Basil Pasta SauceI like Muir Glen Organic sauce as a base when I am making a marinara sauce. It does have a small amount of added sugar. Organic tomatoes in juice, organic tomato puree (organic tomato paste, water), organic onions, naturally milled organic sugar, organic sweet basil, sea salt, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic garlic, naturally derived citric acid, naturally derived calcium chloride, organic black pepper, organic fennel, organic oregano.


Family Marinara Pasta SauceAnother good organic sauce is Amy’s Organic Pasta Sauce¬†:¬†Ingredients: (Vegan) Organic tomato puree, filtered water, organic onions, organic extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, organic garlic, organic black pepper, spices.¬†No added sugar.



My favorite way to make pasta of all kinds is without a sauce. I add sauteed vegetables to cooked pasta. For example: Mushrooms, onion, & lots of garlic sauteed in olive oil until just cooked but still crunchy. I toss it with rigatoni or fusilli pasta. Another simple recipe is to saute garlic & onion until the onion is browned, then add grated zucchini; continue to saute until the zucchini is cooked. Toss with your favorite pasta.

Pasta can be served as a side dish as well. My favorite is any cooked pasta served with fresh lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper to taste. Simple! You can also add a few fresh cherry tomatoes cut in half to garnish.

When I lived in Europe, a friend from the Canary Islands introduced me to Pesto. I have tried many traditional pesto recipes, but I always come back to Paola’s version:

Paola’s Pesto

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (I use walnuts because they are cheaper, easier to find & healthier)
  • 2 packed cups fresh basil (I sometimes use spinach, or any other leaf my husband grows, for a change)
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I use an immersion blender to blend the above ingredients until smooth. When smooth I stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. This recipe is enough for 1 1/2 pounds of linguine pasta.

You can freeze the pesto sauce, before adding the cheese. Place the blended ingredients into a container, put olive oil on the top, seal & freeze. When needed, defrost & add the cheese.

Here are some interesting pasta recipes I selected from The 50 Most Delish Skinny Pastas’ Recipes:

Let’s not forget soups for the coming winter:

Bonus Salad recipe that I just found & love……

Mixed Berry Salad With Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing¬†I kept the extra dressing in the refrigerator to be used on my regular salad for 5 days & it stayed “fresh”.

Enjoy a pasta dish with your meals without all the guilt. Such a simple,¬†versatile¬†meal. Until next week! …….Mary ūüôā


Raw Food Warnings

My Plate 1


If you have had chemotherapy or radiation, you have probably been warned at some time during your treatment, to not eat any raw meats, fish, vegetables, fruits & dairy. Then you panicked. For how long! What do I eat for goodness sake! I just got on this great plant based diet! No need to panic. Usually this warning lasts for a few weeks until your immune system is stronger.

Sometimes during treatment your immune system is compromised, weakened. During this time you need to stay away from any organisms like bacteria that can make you sick. You know that if a friend or family member is ill that you should stay away from them or at least wear a mask. The same precautions need to be taken with cooked & raw foods.

You may have seen the headlines this week; “Don’t Eat Raw Cookie Dough!” A lot of people were traumatized when they saw this, including my husband ūüôā ¬†We have already been told not to eat cookie dough if it contains raw eggs due to the possibility of salmonella. This time, however, it is because of the flour used in the recipe. The FDA is warning us not to eat any raw batters: cookie dough, bread dough, cake batter etc.

Wheat flour comes from the milling of wheat grain. The FDA states that it is possible that animal waste could contaminate the grains in the field. Sometimes there is E-coli in the waste. Since the milled flour isn’t heated, the bacteria can thrive. Okay, this is true, but it doesn’t happen very often. If you have a compromised immune system then to be safe, it is a good idea to stay away from raw dough of all kinds.

Vegetables & fruits also come from fields where there is bacteria in the soil. This includes Organic veggies & fruits as well. Washing them does not kill or wash away 100% of the bacteria. It doesn’t matter what kind of wash you use, some bacteria can survive. Chances of you becoming ill are low, but ~I think~ you should err on the side of caution.

What you can do during this time is steam or grill a variety of vegetables that you enjoy: zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, garlic etc. Steam them until they are cooked but still have a crunchy texture. You have killed the bacteria. Now place them in the refrigerator to chill. You can serve them cold or hot with a salad dressing. You can be creative with the mix of veggies & add spices to the dressing. Grilled Vegetable Salad is wonderful! I marinate them first.  Hot German Potato salad is a good option also. I would use olive oil instead of bacon grease, but if you choose to use the bacon grease, use it in moderation.

Cattle 2


Meats, including poultry, fish, shellfish & eggs, also need to be cooked to an ideal internal temperature to kill any bacteria. These recommendations should be followed at all times by everyone. ¬†USDA Safe Minimal Internal Temperature Chart¬†¬†“Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential in preventing foodborne illness. You can’t see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow the four guidelines to keep food safe:

  • Clean‚ÄĒWash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate‚ÄĒSeparate raw meat from other foods.
  • Cook‚ÄĒCook to the right temperature.
  • Chill‚ÄĒRefrigerate food promptly.

Cook all food to these minimum internal temperatures as measured with a food thermometer before removing food from the heat source. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook food to higher temperatures.”¬†Go to the article, ¬†USDA Safe Minimal Internal Temperature Chart¬†,¬†to see the chart.

Dairy products should be pasteurized:…”verb (used with object), pasteurized, pasteurizing:¬†to expose (a food, as milk, cheese, yogurt, beer, or wine) to an¬†elevated temperature for a period of time sufficient to destroy certain¬†microorganisms, as those that can produce disease or cause spoilage¬†or undesirable fermentation of food, without radically altering taste or¬†quality.”

Even though raw milk, cheese & yogurts are healthy options, they are not healthy options for cancer patients in treatment. Soft cheese is also a problem because it isn’t heated to a high enough temperature during the aging process. It is safer to stick with dairy that is pasteurized.¬†

Each oncologist or cancer center has their own guidelines regarding this. This is a very helpful Blog post by the Mayo Clinic written this year. It is the voice of reason & shows how simple this really is.¬†¬†Tips for safe food choices during cancer treatment: February 2016 ¬†“In the past, you may have been told to follow a neutropenic diet if your white blood cell count was low during treatment. Over the past year, recommendations have changed and that’s no longer necessary. However, it’s still important to follow rules of good food safety during treatment.

Rather than remembering long lists of what’s safe and what might be a problem, think about how these general guidelines to limit your risk of food-borne illnesses.

  • Make sure that meat and fish is fully cooked.
  • Choose cooked vegetables instead of fresh.
  • If eating vegetables at home, wash them well, even if they are pre-washed.
  • Eat hard cheeses instead of softer cheeses. Avoid those made from unpasteurized milk.
  • Choose fruits that are easy to clean well or are cooked, such as canned peaches, pears, applesauce, etc.
  • Use pasteurized eggs when preparing recipes that call for raw or undercooked eggs.

Many cancer patients shrug this whole idea off & don’t bother to follow the precautions. Many don’t get sick but some do. I am one of those who would rather be cautious then be wrong. If you become ill it can change the course of your treatments, can even stop them. Why take the chance. Your immune system can bounce back in a few days to a few weeks. Nurture it by being cautious.

Now, this whole “don’t eat the cookie dough thing”?…..I sincerely hope that it does not include Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream! ūüôā ¬†See you here next week……Mary…….In case you haven’t heard, Ben & Jerry’s has a new line of Vegan¬†certified, dairy free, almond milk, ice creams…Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy¬†¬†Delicious!

New vegan/vegetarian & gluten free recipe website that I found: Beard & Bonnet¬†“Meg van der Kruik is the writer, mother, photographer, designer, cook and creative spirit behind Beard & Bonnet. After her infant son was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, she dedicated herself to learning to make meals the whole family would love.”¬†

Here is another one that has some nice vegetable recipes. Easy to alter if you are vegan. Damn Delicious¬†¬†“These (15) side dishes can match any main dish with just 10 min prep. They‚Äôre so easy, hearty and packed with flavor!”


Bone Broth by Kim Taylor, DAOM. L.Ac

There has been a lot of interest in Bone Broth over the past few years. As usual it has become a fad & celebrities have been touting it’s benefits. I asked our Kim Taylor to write an article about it for SDCRI’s Contributing Writers page. Why Kim? Because she has been researching it for a project & she is looking at it with an unbiased eye. I am sharing her article with you along with her resources.

The photo is from a recent trip she made to visit me. Hugging a redwood is soooo healing!

KimKim is passionate about patient-centered, patient empowered health. She loves teaching and critical thinking and believes her patients and students are her most influential teachers. She has worked in the oncology field for over a decade, as a teacher, clinical supervisor, researcher, program manager, and clinician. She recently received her doctorate degree from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, where she completed a research study on the effects of acupuncture for chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy. She has also recently joined the integrative team at UCSD at Moores and Encinitas cancer centers, which has long been a dream of hers. She can be reached at

Bone Broth by Kim Taylor, DAOM. L.Ac

Bone broth is by no means a recent trend. It is an ancient super food that is simple, delicious, and effective, and has been a mainstay among traditional cultures worldwide for thousands of years. If you have ever been satisfied by a comforting bowl of chicken soup when you have a cold, then you have already experienced this ancient wisdom. Science and tradition tell us that bone broth is very nourishing, but how nourishing will vary depending on the diet and lifestyle of the animal, how it is processed, and what other vegetables, herbs and spices are added to the broth (Fallon, 2014).

Cooking with bones is akin to cooking with the ‚Äúroots‚ÄĚ of the animal.¬† Bones should be from locally sourced, grass-fed animals, and wild caught fish. Broth is then slow simmered with a touch of apple cider vinegar for many hours to maximize the extraction of amino acids and minerals. Because these parts of the animal often go to waste, this becomes a sustainable practice from an ethical and economical perspective. Bones are often less expensive than muscle and organ meats, and practically any vegetable scraps may be added to the broth for flavor and nutrients (Chen and Mojica, 2016). Medicinal herbs and spices may also be added to target specific health concerns. The savory, umami taste is derived from glutamates released during the simmering process, in similar concentrations to those found in breast milk, making a tasty bone broth the ultimate comfort food (Agostini, et al., 2000 as cited in Chen and Mojica, 2016).

In today’s world of growing epidemics of mental and physical illness, where people are regularly taking antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs, and where food is laced with chemicals unrecognizable to our bodies, an increasing number of people have damaged, abnormal gut flora dominated by pathogenic microbes (Boynton and Brackett, 2014). This results in the inability to nourish the body properly, and may produce toxins that absorb into the bloodstream and cause inflammation and disease (Chen and Mojica, 2016). Inflammation is linked to many types of diseases, including cancer, arthritis and other autoimmune conditions. Patients receiving chemotherapy are exceptionally vulnerable to stomach damage and leaky gut issues, loss of appetite and taste. Eating can feel like more of a chore than a pleasure, which may compromise nutrition and quality of life.  In addition, with aging and poor health, the body loses some of its ability to repair connective tissue such as bone, tendon, ligament, cartilage, skin, hair and nails.

Bone broth is rich in collagen, cartilage, bone, and marrow, which are the building blocks needed to rebuild and rejuvenate.¬† The highest concentration of iron is found in the marrow, and is responsible for the transport of oxygen and production of red blood cells.¬† Marrow is prized as a sacred, energizing and regenerative food by native cultures around the world, and is the first part to be eaten, instinctively, by animals after a kill (Fallon, 2014). Marrow is the site of hematopoiesis, or the process by which stem cells produce the cellular components of all of the different blood cell types and tissues critical for survival. These include but are not limited to the erythrocytes (red blood cells) for oxygen transport and lymphocytes (white blood cells), including the natural killer (NK) cells, T cells, and B cells needed for a strong immune system. Today‚Äôs research on stem cells places marrow at the center of some of the most far reaching work of modern science, as well as to the center of the table in many of today‚Äôs fine restaurants. According to Anthony Bourdain, ‚ÄúIf God made butter, it would taste exactly like bone marrow.‚ÄĚ

Bone broth contains four key amino acids: Glutamine, glycine, proline and alanine. Glutamine is fundamental for rebuilding a gastrointestinal tract damaged by stress or illness. When combined with glycine, the body synthesizes glutathione, which is the body’s primary detoxifying antioxidant, so bone broth not only nourishes, but also detoxifies the body. Glycine facilitates the production of other amino acids involved in many bodily functions, such as building blood, aiding in the production of glucose, enhancing gastric acid secretion, assisting in wound healing, and detoxification of the liver (Chen and Mojica, 2016). Healthy people should not be deficient in glycine, but during stress, illness or exposure to toxins, the body may not synthesize sufficient amounts. Proline and glycine are the building blocks of cartiliage and collagen, responsible for healthy joints and skin. Proline is found in virtually all animal and plant proteins, so deficiency should be rare. However individuals not eating enough protein, either from a high carbohydrate, low protein, low fat or vegan diet may be lacking. Common sense tells us that millions of people suffering from stiff joints, skin diseases and other diseases related to cartilage and connective tissue, may not be healthy enough to manufacture sufficient amounts of proline and glycine (Fallon, 2014). Alanine assists in liver function and glucose metabolism. Bone matrix also provides other trace minerals such as boron, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium, necessary for nerve transmission, gland function, and healthy bones and muscles.

The wonderful thing about preparing bone broth is that it leads to so many delicious dishes, and with a bit of practice, anyone can have broth on hand at all times. The goal to making a good broth is to make sure it sets up as a solid gel when you put it in the refrigerator. The gelatin content is what makes the broth the most nutrient dense. For a gelatinous broth, use bones that have plenty of cartilage. Meat contains only about 1% by weight of collagen while bones contain 20% collagen. Pig and chicken skin contain approximately 30% cartilage, and veal knuckles and pig’s feet contain a whopping 40%. This means that for chicken stock, include backs, wings, necks and feet, and for beef stock, use knuckles or tailbones (sold as oxtail) and feet, along with more meaty bones like shanks or ribs (Fallon, 2014). You can easily make chicken or turkey stock by boiling up a left over carcass, then adding in feet, wings or backs to your stock pot to make broth. Broth is traditionally made in a large, stainless steel stock pot and cooked on a gentle simmer, 4-6 hours, (6-10 hours for beef broth) or longer, if desired. Some people advocate cooking broth for a full 24 hours, for maximum extraction of nutrients. People new to broth should use shorter cooking times at first, because some people have a slightly allergic reaction to the higher levels of glutamine found in longer cooked broth. Broth can also be made in a slow cooker, ladling off what you eat each day and replacing with water. Discard bones after 5-7 days.

Basic Chicken Broth Recipe (Fallon, 2014):

1 whole chicken (pasture raised), or 3-4 pounds bony chicken parts such as necks, backs, breastbones, wings

2 chicken feet or chicken head, or one split pig’s foot (optional)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

4 quarts filtered water, or just enough to cover the bones

2 large onions, coarsely chopped, skin may be left on

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

2 celery sticks

1 bunch parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs and bay leaf, tied together with kitchen string

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, crushed

                Remove innards for other uses. Place chicken in a large stockpot. Add vinegar and enough filtered water to cover the bones. Let stand for 30-60 minutes. Place over medium heat, uncovered and bring to a simmer. Remove any scum that rises to the top. Add the vegetables and return to a simmer, then lower heat to low. Cook at a simmer with lid off or askew for 4-6 hours, occasionally skimming scum as needed. Check that the water always covers the top of the bones.  Remove chicken bones with a slotted spoon and reserve the meat for other dishes. Strain the broth through a mesh strainer into 2 quart Pyrex containers or mason jars. If not using right away, cool to room temperature and freeze. Bone broth can also be purchased in the frozen food section of many markets, such as Jimbo’s and Whole foods, or ordered online and delivered frozen. Broth and bouillon found on supermarket shelves and not frozen contain none of the nutrition of real bone broth, are usually full of sodium and other preservatives, and should be avoided.

Bone broth belongs to the current trend toward sustainable, farm to table, organic cooking and farming, and the traditional foods movement, oftentimes called ‚Äúthe return to grandmother‚Äôs kitchen.‚ÄĚ This way of eating is based in the foods of gardens and farms, and represents a system of balance, that emphasizes the value of meat, grain, beans, vegetables and fruits. While other diets and eating philosophies restrict animal products, such as vegan and vegetarian diets, or restrict grains and dairy such as the Paleo diet, the traditional foods movement encourages all of these foods as well as the purchase of locally produced meats, milks, cheeses and fats from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals. While the raw foods movement restricts cooked foods, the traditional foods movement embraces them, honoring the place of cooking as one of balance and partnership with raw foods, and fermented foods as well (McGruther, 2014). Bone broth has also gained media attention lately as a sipping broth, for a satisfying coffee alternative. Sipping bars are cropping up around the country and broth is being combined with many different flavor pallets and ingredients for a healthy snack on the go. A cup of broth is packed with essential nutrition, heals the gut, and calms the soul.


  1. Fallon, S. (2014). Nourishing broth, an old-fashioned remedy for the modern world. New York, NY. Grand Central Life and Style.
  2. McGruther, J. (2014). The nourished kitchen. New York, NY. Ten Speed Press.
  3. Chen, T. & Mojica, L. (2016). Bone deep broth: healing recipes with bone broth. New York, NY. Sterling Epicure.

Does bone broth fit in with the¬†Mediterranean¬†diet? Yes, it does. As Kim mentioned, bone broth is akin to nourishing chicken soup, not only for its medicinal qualities but for its nutritional benefits as well. I love it that when made the way she describes, it is sustainable; “comes from a system of balance” & it is free from toxins.¬†

Wow! Thank you Kim for a wonderful article.

See you here next week!…….Mary