The pili nut (pronounced “peeley”) is probably the nut you’ve never heard of because pili nuts are not native to North America or Europe. Grown in Southeast Asia and primarily in the Philippines, the pili nut is often called “the chosen one” because of its nutritional value (high in magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, zinc, Vitamin B1, vitamin B6, folate, copper and 8 essential amino acids).
Shaped like an almond in the shell and a pine nut in the raw, the pili nut tastes like a creamy mild macadamia nut, although a friend says “a pili nut tastes like the offspring of a macadamia nut and a pine nut.” Like most nuts, you can do many things to it: dry, sprout, roast, mill, candy, caramelize, and even turn it into nut butter. It’s that versatile. But, like most nuts, the quality of a pili nut varies depending on where and how its grown. Read more
If you think a cake can’t taste great without white flour, butter, oil,, eggs, and refined sugar, think again because it’s all about finding alternative nutritious ingredients to replace the undesirables. Instead of white flour, consider oats and almond flour.; instead of butter, oil, and refined sugar, choose date paste (dates and water); instead of eggs, select ground flaxseed meal. Using these alternative ingredients not only produces a nutritious cake but also a delicious one…promise! Read more
No prep. No waste. No mess. No wait.
Who doesn’t love a smoothie? A thick, smooth drink typically made with fruit, vegetables, and some type of liquid (i.e. water, almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, juice, etc), a smoothie is thirst quenching, filling, usually nutritious (depending on what is added to the fruits and vegetables), delicious, and very satisfying.
The problem with smoothies is that you either have to make a smoothie at home or go to a store to have one made for you, which isn’t always convenient. You may be on your bike, at a sports event, or even in the car when all you have is a dry energy bar in your backpack or handbag when what you really want is a smoothie. Until recently, you had to settle for the energy bar but not anymore. Read more
For plant-based eaters who prefer a farmer’s market over an outdoor vegan fest, please know I get it. It’s not that vegan foods are bad, although there are certainly a lot of unhealthy ones out there, its that far too often these products contain oil, refined sugar, syrups, or other undesirable sweeteners, too much sodium, or ingredients that I can’t pronounce.
If most of your diet is whole food plant-based then very few commercially prepared foods are on your pantry’s shelf or in the refrigerator or freezer because finding really stellar products – foods made with top notch ingredients without all the additives, and that taste great – is tough (there is just no getting around being vigilant and reading labels).
Every once in a while, a truly great product is introduced (and it feels like a reward when you find it), which is the case with Granola Bites by the Organic Pantry Co. Granola Bites are tasty pieces of granola (almost like thin crunchy cookies) with mulberries (Cashew, Date & Mulberry) or coconut and raisins (Coconut, Cacao, and Raisin) : Read more
One of the challenges of eating a plant-based diet is finding ways to make desserts with little or no oil and no refined sugar. But, the challenge is deeper than that because a truly nutritious treat is also about what is included. Ideally, ingredients that stand alone as nutritious and delicious.
I started with a recipe called Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Bars by Dreena Burton and adapted the ingredients to come up with a recipe for Oat Bars that contain whole grain oats, whole grain oat flour, seeds, nuts, spices, date syrup, dark chocolate chips, and non-dairy milk. Basically, these bars are whole-grain and plant-based with no dairy, no oil, no refined sugar, and no eggs.
Oat Bars have a base of rolled oats and oat flour whose flavor is enhanced with what I call “the big 3” – pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and dark chocolate chips. The big 3 are simply three wholesome ingredients that are super tasty together. But, if you find raisins, walnuts, and sunflower seeds more to your liking, make a substitution. Read more
Making a moist and flavorful corn muffin without butter, oil, milk, refined sugar, or eggs used to be a challenge until I was inspired by a recipe for Double Corn Muffins in the Forks Over Knives Flavor cookbook by Darshana Thacker. Her recipe is excellent but I want a lighter muffin so I use whole grain spelt flour or Hayden Flour Mills all purpose flour (instead of whole wheat flour which is a heavier flour), medium grain cornmeal (instead of coarse) and add a teaspoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to help leaven the muffins more than by using baking powder alone.
Whereas most corn muffins taste like corn but are often dry, these corn muffins are moist and delicious because fresh off-the-cob kernels are used along with medium coarse cornmeal and almond flour that provides just the right amount of granular texture. The result is best described as “the best ever corn muffins, period.” Read more
When I started making baked apples with a crumble made of oats, walnuts, dates, almond butter, and cinnamon, I often had leftover crumble that tasted delicious sprinkled over oatmeal, muesli, and cereal. Then I found myself making the crumble in bulk and keeping it in an airtight container in the refrigerator because I used it so often.
Realizing that I was on to something, I then made variations (i.e. omitted the cinnamon and add dark chocolate chips) and then found myself with two different types of crumble always in my refrigerator, one with a cinnamon emphasis and the other filled with dark chocolate chips. Read more