Monthly Archives: July 2011


It was my husband’s birthday at the beginning of this month.  When planning birthday treats I of course try to make something that the person we are celebrating loves and that all of us can eat together.  My whole family drools over all of So Delicious’s Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Creams, so I thought it would be a great idea to make an ice cream pie for my hubby’s B-Day celebration.

This pie turned out REALLY well.  We all loved it!  The great thing about making an ice cream pie like this is how flexible it is.  YOU get to choose the flavors of ice cream you use (and even how many flavors to use)…clearly my husband is into chocolate!

The kids and I left the day after his B-Day celebration to go up to Northern California to help my parents out.  I am sitting in a hospital waiting room as I type this because my mom is in the middle of having hip replacement surgery (doc just came out and said everything went really well!).  We were able to leave 4 slices of the pie for my dear hubby and I fully expect it all to be gone by the time the kids and I roll back into town…no biggie…it will provide me with an excuse to make another one.




1 ½ cups gluten free chocolate cookie crumbs

6 Tbs. melted Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread (Soy Free)


2 pints So Delicious Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream (flavors of your choosing)

2-3 Tbs. Enjoy Life’s mini chocolate chips (vegan and gluten free)


Begin by making the chocolate cookie crumbs.  I made my gluten free cookie crumbs by placing 2 cups of K-Kritters Gluten Free Chocolate Animal Cookies in a quart Ziploc bag and mashing them with a meat tenderizer.

Meanwhile melt the Earth Balance spread.  Measure out 1 ½ cups of cookie crumbs and mix with the melted Earth Balance.

Pour the crust into a springform pan (like this one here).  Press the crust firmly and shape it to the pan.  I used a 6 ½” pan and was able to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.  If you use a larger pan, form the crust only on the bottom of the pan.  Place the crust in the freezer to harden for 30 minutes to an hour.

Remove the ice cream from the freezer 20-30 minutes prior to using (this will allow it to soften).  Once the ice cream has softened, spread the first layer of ice cream on top of the prepared pie crust using an offset spatula.  Make sure you press the ice cream down as much as possible in order to avoid air bubbles.  At this point you can either return the pie to the freezer to harden prior to putting on the second layer, or spread the second layer immediately.  I was not concerned with having perfect lines between my two flavors, so I spread my second layer immediately.

If you plan on topping your pie with chocolate chips (or nuts, or coconut, etc.) do so now prior to placing the pie in the freezer.

Return the completed pie to the freezer to harden.  Remove the pie from the freezer 15 minutes prior to serving. Open the springform pan, slice the pie, and drizzle each slice with your favorite sauce before serving

For a printable version of this recipe click here.


Filed under Dessert, Gluten Free, Ice Cream, Kid Friendly, Pie / Crumble / Cobbler, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

AN APPLE A DAY – Yet Another Reason to Eat Apples

I find it very intriguing when I see research concerning the multiple benefits one can receive by eating fruits and vegetables.  We always knew apples were good for us!!!

Now…we NEED to move towards finding out this information WITHOUT using animals.  


U-of-I study: Chemical in apple peels may build muscle

by MATT KELLEY on JULY 4, 2011


An apple a day may do a lot more than keep the doctor away. A University of Iowa study finds a compound in apple peels helps to build muscle and burn fat.

Dr. Chris Adams, an endocrinologist and senior author of the study, says a waxy substance in apple peels called ursolic acid has astounding properties.

Dr. Adams says, “We found that in mice, as predicted, it reduced the changes biochemically that occur with muscle atrophy and by doing that, it blocked muscle atrophy, or it reduced it.”

The findings suggest the compound may be useful in treating muscle wasting diseases and possibly metabolic disorders like diabetes.

“We found that it actually promoted the growth of muscle, so the mice got bigger muscles and actually got stronger,” Adams says. “We can measure mouse strength with a little machine called a grip strength meter.”

Based on the research using mice, he says more study is needed to determine if this chemical will be able to benefit humans.

“Ursolic acid increased muscle, increased muscle strength and very interestingly, it reduced fat, it reduced total body fat and reduced blood glucose and also plasma cholesterol and triglycerides,” Adams says. “It didn’t have any harmful effect on the kidneys or liver or anything like that which makes sense because it’s a natural compound that we actually eat.”

He says muscle wasting is very common in people who are sick and sedentary, adding, it’s a primary factor in why people end up in nursing homes.

The U-of-I study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Image courtesy of 

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Filed under Education, Research


Oven roasted tomatoes are such a great add to so many dishes…pasta, salad, pasta salad, sandwiches, bruschetta, hummus, pizza, risotto, paella…I could go on and on.  I hadn’t made any myself for a long time until I bought Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, My Father’s Daughter (I am also a big fan of her blog GOOP).

I forgot how much I loved oven roasted tomatoes until I was flipping through the pages and saw a picture of them in her book.  In the summer my garden always runneth over with tomatoes and I plan on roasting and freezing a ton of them to get me through the winter when grocery store tomatoes just don’t cut it for me; they are so bland and blah.  Once you have grown your own tomatoes and picked them at the height of freshness you will never enjoy a grocery store tomato again…you may still eat them, but you won’t “enjoy” them.  Roasting the vine ripened tomatoes brings an already amazing tomato into the stratosphere.

Again…another VERY simple recipe…


Organic tomatoes (grape, cherry, beefsteak, heirloom, any variety)

Organic olive oil

Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt



Preheat the oven to 275°

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice the tomatoes in half and place them in a bowl.

Lightly drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss gently to coat.

Place the tomatoes skin side down on the baking pan.

Bake for 3-6 hours (depending upon the size of the tomatoes).  When they take on the appearance similar to that of a sun dried tomato they are done.


Filed under Books, Gardening, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

GARLIC GINGER BOK CHOY – ala Elana’s Pantry

photo provided courtesy of

I made this recipe (from Elena’s Pantry…an awesome gluten free site) to accompany one of our dinners last week and we plowed through it…yum!  I didn’t have any fresh ginger on hand, so I used powdered ginger and it still turned out great.  Believe it or not, we ate 2 pounds worth of bok choy in one sitting, so I just doubled the sauce and saved some of it for later.

Garlic Ginger Bok Choyprinter friendly

  1. Slice bottoms off baby bok choy
  2. Slice bok choy into lengthwise strips ½-inch wide (like long noodles)
  3. In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, agave, sesame oil and arrowroot
  4. Make a paste-like slurry dissolving the arrowroot
  5. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  6. When oil is hot, add bok choy and salt
  7. Cook, tossing frequently with metal tongs until slightly wilted
  8. Add scallions, ginger and garlic and stir constantly until fragrant
  9. Stir in sauce and quickly mix with vegetables, until thickened
  10. Serve right away, while hot
For a printable version of this recipe click here.


Filed under Gluten Free, Recipes, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Fat Soluble Vitamins by the Vegan RD

Virginia “Ginny” Messina is a dietitian and public health specialist who has co-authored a textbook on vegetarian nutrition that is aimed at medical and nutrition professionals, has also twice co-authored the American Dietetic Association’s Position on Vegetarian Diets, has authored countless books (Vegan for Life is the most recent), and helped develop a food guide for vegetarians and vegans.

Ginny has also been a nutrition instructor at Central Michigan University, where she taught principles of public health education to dietetics students. She was the director of nutrition services in a medical center serving more than 50,000 patients, and has developed nutrition education materials for many organizations including the U.S. government’s national cholesterol program.   

Ginny is an authority when it comes to nutrition and the nuances of a vegan lifestyle.  Many people contact me with questions regarding vitamins as they pertain to the vegan diet.  Below Ginny will discuss in detail fat soluble vitamins as they relate to vegan nutrition.

Ginny has a wonderful blog that I follow.  To learn more click here.

To read an interesting interview of Ginny , click here.

For a complete listing of Ginny’s books, click here.

Fat Soluble Vitamins: Do They Stand Between Vegans and Health?


This month, I’m working on a couple of responses to recently published criticisms of vegan diets. Among the issues that are frequently raised is one that focuses on fat-soluble vitamins. Some of the concerns are based on legitimate questions about active forms of these vitamins and their absorption from plant foods, and others aren’t. Regardless of those questions, though, plant foods can and do provide enough of the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K. (Vitamin E, which is also fat-soluble, is not involved in the controversy since it’s found in a very wide variety of foods.)

Vitamin A: It’s true that the preformed active type of this vitamin is found only in animal foods. But plants are abundant in vitamin A precursors like beta-carotene. In fact, these provitamin A compounds are important enough that the USDA measures vitamin A content of foods as “retinol activity equivalents (RAE),” which includes both preformed vitamin A and the compounds that the body turns into vitamin A. There is no separate RDA or recommendation for animal-derived pre-formed vitamin A.

You can meet your vitamin A requirement for the day by drinking just one-quarter cup of carrot juice or eating a cup of kale or spinach. Other foods that make significant contributions are sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and dark orange winter squashes, including pumpkin. A word of caution though: Earlier assessments of retinol activity equivalents in plant foods over-estimated amounts. This is because more recent data show that conversion rates of the vitamin A precursors are lower than previously believed. As a result, vitamin A is a nutrient that deserves some attention in vegan diets. This doesn’t mean you can’t get enough; it does mean that it’s a good idea to make sure you eat vitamin A rich foods every day.

Vitamin D: This vitamin occurs naturally in only a few foods—fatty fish, eggs from chickens who were fed vitamin D, and mushrooms treated with ultraviolet light. With such limited dietary availability, humans wouldn’t have gotten very far if not for the fact that we can make all the vitamin D we need when skin is exposed to sunlight.  As humans have moved farther from equatorial zones—and spend less time outdoors—it’s become harder to make enough, though, so vitamin D-fortified foods have become important.

Although people can get adequate vitamin D from fatty fish, most—omnivore or not—rely on fortified foods and sun exposure, two options that are as easily available to vegans as to omnivores.

The vegan form of vitamin D, which is called ergocalciferol or vitamin D2, has been shown to be as effective in raising blood levels of this nutrient as animal-derived vitamin D3 when it’s taken at a usual daily dose (1) (The RDA is 600 IUs; some experts recommend 1,000.) At megadoses, however, vitamin D2 may need to be taken more often.(2) But no one should be megadosing on vitamin D unless they are working with a doctor to correct a deficiency. And vitamin D2 has been used to effectively raise blood levels in people with deficiencies. (3, 4)

Vitamin K: Best sources of this nutrient are leafy green vegetables and canola, soy and olive oils. One form of vitamin K, called vitamin K2 or menaquinone, is found in animal products but in only one lone plant food—natto, a fermented soy product that isn’t a usual part of most western vegan diets. This isn’t a problem, though, because humans have no requirement for vitamin K2. We also have bacteria in our gut that produce this form of vitamin K—so we’re covered either way. Since vitamin K is essential for blood clotting we’d see some evidence of a deficiency if vegans weren’t getting enough. But a study that compared clotting rates between vegans and meat eaters found no difference. (5)

Getting Enough of the Fat Soluble Vitamins: The best way to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of the fat soluble vitamins is to eat plenty of leafy green and dark orange vegetables and to take a vitamin D supplement if you don’t get adequate sun exposure. Gentle cooking improves the absorption of some vitamin A precursors, and cooking foods in small amounts of olive or canola oil can give you a vitamin boost while improving absorption of these vitamins.

1.            Holick MF, Biancuzzo RM, Chen TC, et al. Vitamin D2 is as effective as vitamin D3 in maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008;93:677-81.
2.            Romagnoli E, Mascia ML, Cipriani C, et al. Short and Long Term Variations in Serum Calciotrophic Hormones after a Single Very Large Dose of Ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2) or Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) in the Elderly. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008.
3.            Thacher TD, Obadofin MO, O’Brien KO, Abrams SA. The effect of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 on intestinal calcium absorption in Nigerian children with rickets. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94:3314-21.
4.            Gordon CM, Williams AL, Feldman HA, et al. Treatment of Hypovitaminosis D in Infants and Toddlers. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008.
5.            Sanders TA, Roshanai F. Platelet phospholipid fatty acid composition and function in vegans compared with age- and sex-matched omnivore controls. Eur J Clin Nutr 1992;46:823-31.

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Filed under Books, Education, General Vegan, Guest Blog, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vitamins