Cheesecake Factory Kale Salad with Vegan Low-Fat Buttermilk Black Pepper Dressing

IMG_2654    I’m obsessed with this Kale Salad with Vegan Buttermilk Black Pepper Dressing.  It’s a low-fat vegan copy of the Cheesecake Factory restaurant menu.  Finely shredded kale, sweet golden raisins, salty roasted Marcona almonds, and tart apple batons tossed in lemon juice, all drizzled with a cool Buttermilk dressing.  So damn good–even better than the original.  Thank you to Susan Voisin for her brilliant Hidden Cashew Ranch Dressing.  I found that adding one more Tablespoon of cashews to Susan’s dressing (bumping the cashews up to 1/3 Cup) made the dressing thicker and richer, without affecting fat and calories hardly at all.  Nutritional values below.

For each individual salad, use about 2 Tablespoons chopped Marcona almonds, 2 Tablespoons golden raisins, 50 grams small, unpeeled apple batons tossed in lemon juice, and 33 grams finely shredded kale.  Be sure to chiffonade your kale.  Any leftover acidulated apple batons will keep in the fridge for a day or two.  Notes:  I like using Penzey’s Buttermilk Ranch dry seasoning and in that case, you would use 1 Tablespoon of it and omit the other seasonings in the salad dressing.  Trader Joe’s has salted Marcona almonds that have been roasted with rosemary, but any will do.


Makes twelve  2-Tablespoon servings

1/3 Cup cashews, soaked at least four hours, or overnight
1.25 Cups organic unsweetened soy milk  (I like WestSoy)
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt  (adjust to your taste)
1 to 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley,  orfrozen parsley cubes, thawed and drained
1-2 teaspoons finely-snipped chives  (optional)

Drain and rinse cashews.  Place all ingredients except parsley and chives into blender and process on high until smooth.  Add parsley and/or chives and pulse just until incorporated.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Nutritional Values per 2 Tablespoons of dressing:  Calories 33,  Fat 2g,  Saturated Fat 0.3g,  Trans Fat 0,  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g,  Monounsaturated Fat 1g,  Cholesterol 0,  Sodium 128,  Potassium 32,  Carbs 1,  Fiber 1,  Sugars 0.3,  Protein 2g,  Vitamin A  0.7%,  Calcium 1.3%,  Iron 2.4%.

Strawberry Vanilla Date Shake

IMG_2227    My wonderful neighbor Gail stopped by on Memorial Day weekend with pounds and pounds of freshly-picked strawberries out of their impressive garden.  We ate some, but there were so many I decided to create a shake smoothie worthy of them.  Sweetened with dates, and enhanced with natural vanilla, it’s the bomb.


Servings:  2 to 4

2 Cups frozen strawberries
4 dried dates, with pits removed   (chop each date into about 4 pieces)
1.5 Cups plant milk
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean,  or  1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Add all to blender and blend.  If your blender gets stuck, a good trick is to slide a long teaspoon down the sides of the blender container or give a quick stir to allow contents to settle once again.  Add a little more liquid if you need to.

Notes:   Using store-bought frozen strawberries is just fine.  To freeze fresh strawberries, rinse them with cold water just before you need them, and lay them on an old dish towel to dry.  Use an old towel in case they stain your towelHull the strawberries using a paring knife, and discard the green tops.  Freeze strawberries on dinner plates until they are frozen.  Then place frozen strawberries into a freezer container.  This method will prevent the strawberries from freezing together in a solid mass.  If you can, organic strawberries (whether fresh or frozen) are worth buying, because strawberries are in the Dirty Dozen (among the most pesticide-laden produce).  If you do not have a high-powered blender, you might want to soak the dates in almost-hot water for 15 minutes before pitting and blending.  Here are good tips for splitting and seeding a vanilla bean.   Make sure to look in the bulk section of your local health food store for vanilla beans, for cheaper prices.  If you really want to gild the lily, add a few Tablespoons of granola to this shake after it’s out of the blender.  This is great with almond milk too.  My favorite soy milk is WestSoy Organic Unsweetened.

Approx Nutrition info for the whole batch:  Calories 489.  Fat 7 gr.  Saturated Fat 1 gr.  Polyunsaturated Fat 4 gr.  Monounsaturated Fat 2 gr.  Trans Fat 0.  Cholesterol 0.  Sodium 45.  Potassium 1538.  Carbs 106.  Fiber 20.  Sugars 78.  Protein 16.  Vitamin A 4%.  Vitamin C 180%.  Calcium 14%.  Iron 27%.

Carrot Pear Almond Smoothie

IMG_1435    When I don’t have time to juice, I turn to smoothies.  After the mornings of alkalizing green juices, smoothies feel like dessert, but this is serious nutrition too.  Because I juice and blend what I’ve got on hand, it always varies, but every now and then, some serendipitous combination hits the mark and I know it’s a keeper.  Here we have the sandy sweetness of a fully-ripe D’Anjour pear with frozen banana, creamy vegan yogurt, almond milk, a little almond butter and raw carrots.  A literal pinch of ground cinnamon is very faint, but it marries them all into a happy ending.  You can play around with this–omit the banana for a slightly thinner consistency, change the nut butter, plant milk or spice, etc., but this is the way I like it.   p.s. You will not be hungry after this vegan smoothie!


Makes enough for 2 to 4, depending on serving sizes.

1/2 frozen banana, cut into chunks
1 ripe Anjou pear
1 large carrot,  or 2 small-to-medium carrots
1/2 Cup vegan yogurt,  plain or vanilla flavor
1 Cup almond milk
1 Tablespoon almond butter
pinch cinnamon  (1/16th teaspoon)

Blend all, and enjoy!

Notes:  Peel and cut the bananas before you freeze them.  You could add some ice during the blending process too.  The yogurt is providing probiotics.   After drinking a smoothie, it’s a good practice to rinse your mouth well with water, to help rinse the fruit sugars off your tooth enamel.

Vegan Brazil Nut Pate

IMG_1411    What we have here is a really nice vegan pate.  Inspired by a very simple Brazil Nut Pate I saw in Vegan For Her, I referred to my 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking, and also my 1961 copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cook Book.  Pates in those old tomes call for some common elements to choose from, including salt, pepper, Worcestershire, allspice or nutmeg, pistachio nuts, truffles, grated onions, parsley or chervil and lemon juice.  Also, a single type of alcohol, such as brandy, cognac, Madeira or sherry.  A bit of flour is often added, possibly for a binder.  Also, sometimes, whipping cream, which can easily be replaced by cashew cream.  And we now also have vegan substitutes for other commonly-used pate ingredients like gelatin and cream cheese.

Garnishes often include parsley and cornichons, or even stuffed olives and thinly sliced limes.  I would suggest that tiny sweet gherkins would do if cornichons are not readily available.  I added olive oil to mimic the fatty quality of outdated pates.   We like this on Ritz crackers or very thin slices of toasted garlic bread.  I know some consider Ritz a bit lowbrow, but we like the buttery, salty quality of them, and their delicate crispness.


Yield: 1.5 Cups?  (not sure)  This recipe will fill two 4-inch ramekins for a party though.

1 Cup raw Brazil nuts
1/2 Cup blanched almonds
1/3 Cup pickled red onions (or regular red onions), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed and minced
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
2 Tablespoons vegan cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 Tablespoon organic vegan Worcestershire sauce, such as Wizard brand
2 Tablespoons Madeira wine  (or cognac, or brandy or sherry)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin organic olive oil
1 to 2 Tablespoons water

Soak all nuts for two hours, or overnight.  Drain and rinse nuts in colander.
In a food processor (not a blender), add all ingredients and process to as fine a consistency as you can, scraping down the sides often.  Add an extra Tablespoon of plant milk or water if necessary.  Set in fridge for a few hours or even better, overnight, for flavors to meld.   Garnish with parsley and cornichons.

Serve with thin slices of garlic bread, crackers, and/or raw vegetables such as slices of sweet red bell pepper, or endive.  I could also see stuffing cherry tomatoes and garnishing with a thin round slice of olive, for example.

Notes:  Read the lead-in for variations suggestions.  Brazil nuts are definitely a power food, providing calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, omegas, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, zinc, etc., etc.  Another vegan Worcestershire sauce is by Whole Foods 365 Organic.  You can also sprinkle with Paprika.

Salad in A Jar

IMG_1079    I saw Salad In a Jar in a great blog post on these make-ahead, packable salads.  A few times a year, I have to attend a meeting where a lunch of dead animals is provided for everyone (except me).  This time, I had a beautiful meal instantly constructed on my plate, with just a shake and a tip of the wide-mouth canning jar.


wide-mouth canning jar(s), quart size
salad dressing
salad fixings

Put salad dressing on the bottom of the jar(s) and start building.  First, add ingredients that benefit from a marinade in the salad dressing, things like beets or beans or lentils.  As you build up further away from the dressing, you could add chopped nuts, dried fruit, diced vegetables, drained mandarin oranges, greens or lettuces, cooked quinoa, croutons, etc.  Make sure to leave an inch or two of space at the top–this will allow you to shake the salad, and it will also keep your food away from any BPA in the canning jar lid.

Notes:  It’s easy to fill more than one jar at a time.  I prefer to cut my greens or lettuces into smaller pieces.  Ingredients can change with the seasons–in the summer, you could tuck some nasturtium flowers from the garden on top, and in the Fall you could use roasted root vegetables.   Take these flavors in any direction by changing up the dressing and fixings–Mexican, Greek, etc.   I’m thinking cold Japanese somen noodle salad with smoked tofu, green onions, fresh peas and seasame seeds.  Or Middle Eastern with tahini dressing, roasted chickpeas, cucumbers, pistachios or walnuts, and dried apricots.

Chia Fresca

IMG_0709    I’m late to the party on Chia Fresca, but here’s how I like it.  Now, if only I could run like the Tarahumara Indians!  Vegan Mofo 2013.


Makes 2 Cups

2 Cups Water
1.5 Tablespoons chia seeds
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons agave syrup

Mix all in a container, and shake or whisk.
Let it sit for 30 minutes, shaking or whisking every now and then.
Drink as is, or chill first.
Store any leftovers in the fridge overnight.

Notes:  You can find lots of info. on chia fresca online, on sites like this oneWhole Foods and health food stores usually have chia seeds now and they’re much cheaper in bulk.  You can also buy organic chia seeds.

Chia Breakfast Porridge

Here’s another recipe for the Raw category on this site.  This cereal is full of Super Foods that pack a nutritional punch, it takes less than five minutes to make and it’s very versatile–you can put any goodies you want in it.  This is a single serving, but you can easily double or triple it, and you’re getting calcium, protein with all essential amino acids, fiber, phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth, and a whole lot more.  Chia seed is an ancient and powerful food used centuries ago by the Aztec Indians for endurance running.  The chia seeds will absorb more than ten times their weight in liquid and turn into a pudding-like consistency that may surprise you at first.  So, throw everything in the bowl, go brush your teeth and wash your face, and breakfast is ready.
Chia Breakfast Porridge

Makes one serving

2 Tablespoons chia seeds
2 Tablespoons raisins  (or other dried fruit or berries)
1 Tablespoon Goji berries
3/4 Cup almond milk
2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds   (or raw nuts of some kind)
1/4 Cup fresh blueberries  (or chopped fresh fruit of your choice)
a pinch of ground cinnamon

Into a cereal bowl, put chia seeds, dried fruit and Goji berries.
Add almond milk and stir well to wet all the seeds.
Wait 15 minutes for the chia seeds to absorb the plant milk and turn magically into a porridge consistency.
Stir again, and top with raw pumpkin seeds or nuts,  fresh fruit,  and a pinch of cinnamon.

Notes:   The cinnamon (besides being delicious) helps regulate blood sugar levels.  Of course, you can substitute any raw nuts,  dried fruits,  fresh fruits and plant milk you like!  I’m thinking of trying warm oat milk, raw walnuts, raisins, chopped apple,  cinnamon, and a splash of maple syrup.  The possibilities are endless.

Buckwheat Sprouts

I received this post about buckwheat sprouts from the Food Matters site, and was amazed by the health benefits.  First of all, I thought buckwheat was a grain, but it’s not.  I really don’t care that it’s gluten-and-wheat-free, but I do care that it’s a complete source of protein, has all the B vitamins, is high in calcium, cleanses the colon, balances cholesterol, neutralizes toxins, and alkalizes the body.  As the site says, it’s also full of rutin, which is helpful for those with varicose veins or hardening of the arteries, because it actually strengthens capillary walls.  Our brains are made up of 28% lecithin and buckwheat sprouts are rich in lecithin, making this also a powerful brain food.  All in all, buckwheat sprouts are a superfood.  Buckwheat groats are simply hulled buckwheat seeds.  How easy is it to sprout buckwheat groats?  SUPER easy.  The hardest part was actually finding them, but I finally found some at Whole foods in Annapolis, although they were not organic.  There are all kinds of contraptions you can sprout with, but I love that this method only takes a fine mesh colander.  I’m going to buy a little plastic mesh colander for these because I’m guessing that over time, the metal colander will rust, not sure.  p.s.  I think this would be a fun project to do with kids of all ages.

Place 1.5 Cups of buckwheat groats into a bowl and cover it with 2 to 3 times as much room-temperature water.
Mix the seeds so that none are floating on top.
Allow seeds to soak for about an hour.
Rinse and drain the water in a colander and let them stand in the colander (with the colander resting over a bowl) on the counter.
Rinse 3 times per day with cool water, for two days.
When rinsing sprouts, use a little water pressure to make sure you are rinsing them wellI also shake the colander a bit to rotate the groats in the colander.
You may notice a gooey substance on the buckwheat, which is starch.  Make sure that you wash this off thoroughly.  I found no gooey substance.
Sprouts will form after only a day or two.
After a final rinse, dry the sprouts by laying them on a clean, lint-free towel.
Let sprouts dry on the counter for 8 hours or so.
Never refrigerate wet sprouts.
Sprouts are ready to use, or you can refrigerate them in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.  Here’s how to use your crop:

  • Pack sprouts into sandwiches.
  • Blend with fruits and vegetables for green drinks or smoothies.
  • Eat cold as a cereal (with nuts, dried fruit, plant milk, agave syrup or maple syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon, etc.)
  • Sprinkle on top of other cereals.
  • Throw into salads just before eating.
  • Buckwheat sprouts are best eaten raw.

Notes:  My buckwheat groats sprouted after only one day, and by the second day the little sprouts were pretty long (see photo below).  Check out Sprout People for a LOT more info. on sprouting everything and anything.  They are also a source for organic buckwheat groats (hulled seeds).

Here are the sprouts by day two, ready to dry.

Pomelo or Pummelo or Jabong

When I was a teenager on Kauai, I had never heard the word pomelo, because we called this fruit “jabong.”  Tasting like a mild grapefruit, pomelo are a great breakfast food or snack.  There are different cultivars of pomelo, and some are pink and some are white.  Although they’re the largest of the citrus fruits, one pomelo only yields enough fruit for two people and I can easily eat one all by myself.  You see, the skin is so thick that by the time you peel and segment it, it doesn’t give up as much fruit as you’d think.  However, if you value quality over quantity, go for the jabong!  I love it, and it’s available in winter when we really need that extra shot of vitamin C.  If I’m in a hurry, I supreme the fruit, as you would an orange.  I usually try to find a pomelo that is leaning toward bright yellow, because then I know it’s ripe.  However, I’ve read online that a green pomelo is fine.  I’m guessing that, like most citrus, this does not ripen once you pick it.  See below for a photo of one I found recently at Whole Foods in Annapolis.  There are many good videos on how to peel and even carve a pommelo on youtube, and here is one I found for you.  And here is another video if you decide you want to supreme it.  Yes, it actually takes a couple of minutes to peel a pomelo, but it’s fun, and so worth it to get to the luscious flesh that tastes like a sweet grapefruit without any of the bitterness!  The giant size of the sections is fun too.   Even children who find grapefruit too acidic love pummelo!  If you want it extra sweet for children or a dessert option, you can lightly drizzle the sections with a light agave syrup.  This delectable fruit is at its peak and more available in winter.  It’s also said to bring good luck and prosperity at New Year’s celebrations, so it’s appropriate for this first post of 2012.  Happy New Year!  p.s.  My lovely cousin Munam says to please add the moniker “suha” (soo-huh) to the list of names this gorgeous fruit goes by.  She grew up with suha trees in her backyard, in the Philippines, and can peel one without a knife!

Raw Sweet Corn and Cashew Chowder

This delectable cold soup calls for  yellow corn, but all I could find was white.  This is an Ani Phyo recipe I saw on the Food & Wine web site.  It takes 15 minutes to make, and it’s delicious and healthy.  It’s also elegant enough to serve for company.  I did make some changes.  I cut the olive oil by two thirds, because I can’t imagine having that much oil in this amount of soup.  I cut the salt in half for the same reason.  I decreased the garlic by half, and was glad I did.  One clove doesn’t sound like much, but remember this is raw garlic, and it’s a delicate soup.  Even with half of one small clove, we could still really taste the garlic in with the flavor of the fresh, raw corn.  In the end, I should have decreased the water by at least 25%, because the “chowder” is really a thin soup.  So here below, I have cut it down for next time.  I also needed at least 6 ears of corn, not 4 as per the recipe.  Even 7 ears couldn’t hurt, because the kernels of fresh, raw corn are wonderful in this cold soup.  I’m going to try heating this soup up too.  I definitely recommend soaking the cashews overnight if you want a silky, smooth soup, especially if you’re not using a “high-speed blender” like a Vitamix.  Using the Vitamix, I had smooth, silky soup in less than one minute, with absolutely no chunks or pieces, but it could just be because I soaked the nuts, I’m not sure.   In New England (or at least in New Hampshire), very old recipes for corn-on-the-cob start with “Pick the corn and run to the kitchen.”  This means that we like the corn to be as fresh as possible.  If you can find it, always go for the freshest corn, and if at a farmers market, ask when it was picked.  Once the corn is picked, the sugars begin to convert to starch immediately.  Not critical, but something to choose if you can.  And this reminds me that I wanted to re-make Corn Perfumed with Indian Spices once I had some fresh corn available again.  The corn recipe I use the most is Baked Corn on the Cob because it’s so quick and effortless, and comes out perfectly every time.  No grill, no boiling water, no fuss.

Raw Sweet Corn and Cashew Chowder

Fresh corn kernels from 6 ears of corn (or 7)
1.5 Cups of cool water
½ Cup raw cashews that have been soaked overnight
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ of a small garlic clove with center sprout removed
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Place cashews in water and refrigerate overnight.
Drain cashews.
In a blender (preferably a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix), combine 2-1/4 Cups of the corn with the water, cashews, olive oil, garlic and salt, and puree until smooth.
Pour soup into bowls.
Garnish with remaining corn kernels, the cilantro and a sprinkle of pepper.

Note:  This soup can be refrigerated overnight.  Garnish just before serving.

Vegan Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

This is a raw salad dressing from a Freshtopia video.   You can also watch this and other Freshtopia videos on itunes.  When I was at Whole Foods recently, I found a neatly wrapped and husked young coconut.  I do not own a machete, but having opened a few coconuts in my day, I knew that I should not stress.  I used a sturdy steak knife to cut away the initial parts.  Then I stuck the point of the knife into spots around the circle of the “lid” and tapped the butt end of the knife with a small, dainty hammer that I keep in my kitchen.  Once you have a little juice squirting out and have tapped slits all around in a circle, you will use your knife as a lever to gently pry open the lid.  The main thing to remember is that it’s persistence and not strength that is required, as shown on the video.   If you’ve never done this before, you might be surprised at how easily the tender white meat is removed from the inside with just a soup spoon.  I did use my Vitamix to blend this dressing, but am guessing a regular blender would work fine.  Yes, the whole shebang will take you 15-20 minutes to make, but then you’ve got a bunch of gorgeous, fresh salad dressing.  If you like bottled poppy seed dressing, then you will like this one.  I found this to be sublimely fresh and mild, not so strong and cloying like the bottled stuff.  You will have some leftover coconut water; drink it up or save it for your morning juice!
Vegan Poppy Seed Salad Dressing


1 Cup young coconut meat or 1 Cup soaked cashews, if coconut is not available.  I got only 3/4 Cup of coconut meat from my coconut and made the dressing anyway and it came out great!
½ Cup coconut water or ½ Cup filtered water
¼ Cup agave syrup
¼ Cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped white onion
1 Tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 dash of sea salt (1/16th teaspoon)
1 Tablespoon of poppy seeds

Set aside the poppy seeds, and blend all other ingredients until smooth and emulsified.
Add poppy seeds and give another pulse or two to mix, but do not pulverize the seeds.
Store any excess dressing in the fridge.

Pickled Red Onions

These Pickled Red Onions are something I improvised years ago and we always have a jar in the fridge and we use them on everything.  They add oomph to just about anything calling for onions, you’ll see.

Pickled Red Onions

1 red onion, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds (and some 1/4 inch too)
½ tsp fine sea salt
¾ C red wine vinegar
1 T agave syrup or 1T sugar
¼ tsp ground black pepper

Separate the onion rings and put into jar.
Add all other ingredients and pour over the onions.
Toss and marinate for one hour in refrigerator.
These will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator.

Use in sandwiches, on appetizers, in salads, on vegan hot dogs, and anything else you can think of.  I love these in various recipes on this site, including the Butter Bean CanapesFrench Red Potato Salad, Welsh Rarebit, vegan hot dogs, vegan grilled cheese, in the Excellent Bean Dip on this site, as a topping for chili, etc., etc.  Also, I mince these to use in place of shallots, with great results.

Note: I use a recycled jar with a plastic lid for these. Due to vinegar (high acid) content, I want a non-reactive lid, in case I choose to shake the jar once in a while. A re-purposed Vegenaise jar works perfectly.

Vanilla Praline Smoothie by Ani Phyo

Because I subscribe to the amazing VegNews Magazine, I got an email with this recipe in it.  Ani Phyo is the Queen of Raw Food and this is her recipe.  My twist of using soy milk means this is technically no longer a totally raw recipe, but to me, it’s sort of raw.    Remember to slit open the date and remove the pit (see photo below).  There might also be a tiny piece of dried stem on one end, which you can simply cut off with the tip of a sharp knife.  So, the flavor of the smoothie was surprisingly delicious.  I kept trying to figure out exactly what it tasted like–maybe like a cross between a malted milk shake and a vanilla shake, if you get the idea.  I did find the taste just a teensy bit too strong and sweet, so I modified it just slightly.  But man, this could really take the edge off any craving for milk shakes, no kidding.  I’m guessing that some people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this and a less-healthy milk shake.   So, here’s my only-slightly-modified version below.  And here’s the original recipe by Ani Phyo.
Vegan Vanilla Praline Smoothie

1/2 Cup raw pecans
4 Medjool dates, WITH PITS REMOVED
2 teaspoons real vanilla
2 cups cold soy milk (or filtered water or rice milk, etc.)
1/2 Cup ice, or a little more

REMOVE PITS from dates!
In a blender, combine all ingredients until smooth.

Note:  My favorite soy milk for this type of thing, where you want a rich flavor, is WestSoy Organic Unsweetened Soymilk, yum.

Papaya With Lime

I used to grow my own papayas when I lived on the Big Island (of Hawaii), so this was a staple in our house.  The lime is essential.  About five years ago, I began noticing papayas in our local grocery stores here in Maryland.  Back then, one grocery store had a better selection than others, and the papayas were all giant Caribbean papayas.  Now, you can occasionally get small ones, like “solo” papayas, sometimes.  What I found last week, was a medium-sized papaya at Giant grocery store.  I’m guessing it was approximately 8 inches in length, but I can’t be sure because we ate the evidence.  It was not organic, alas, but that’s how it goes.  You want to look for a papaya that has some yellow already showing on it, even if it’s just a patch of color.  Then wash it lovingly and set it on the counter for days, maybe even a week or more.  When the yellowy color is covering more of the surface, and some surface wrinkling is going on, you can then cut the fruit (see photos below).  Once you do this 2 or 3 times, you’ll get to know when it’s ripe, or too ripe.  The inner flesh should be the most gorgeous color (see photo), like orange underlaid with pink, and it should be sweet and somewhat-soft but not mushy.  Scrape out the seeds, cut away any loose stringy fiber, and you’re ready to go.  I like to cut the flesh very close to the skin, because it’s sweet there, if the ripeness is right.  Here’s a video on how to cut lime wedges.  I actually cut limes a slightly-better way, but that’s another post.  You can also gild the lily with a drizzle of agave syrup, brown rice syrup, or Suzanne’s Just Like Honey Rice Nectar.  Papaya can be an acquired taste, but once you get it, you won’t look back.  With fiber, beta-carotene, plenty of folate, potassium to combat high blood pressure, and an extraordinary amount of vitamin C, it’s worth getting to know the sweet papaya.

Here you can see the degradation of the skin, and the mostly-yellow undertone of the color.  Don’t be afraid of a little puckering, etc.  You may even have to slice the ends off, as I did here.  The photo below this one shows the inside of this very same papaya, just after I took this photo.

Kale Quinoa Salad with Spiced Lime Vinaigrette

This salad is so delicious and pretty and healthy; packed with fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, etc.  Kale is lower in oxalates than spinach, making the calcium it supplies easily absorbed.  Kale is one of the Dirty Dozen, so it’s important to buy organic.  Of course, the vinaigrette could be used on lots of other salads or even cold steamed vegetables, such as beets or green beans, etc.  And it’s flexible; you can use whatever vinegars or whatever you have in the house.  However, I think the spices and ingredients lend themselves to paler vinegars, as opposed to dark heavy ones.  To save time, I toasted the almonds and made the dressing the day before.  I washed and spun the kale, and made the quinoa in the morning, and it was a snap come dinner time; I just had to do the chiffonade.  p.s.  Keep in mind that you will only use 6 tablespoons or so of the vinaigrette, for two people.  You will have leftovers if only making salad for two people.  I’ll just make more salad tomorrow, and use any leftover kale in the juicer.
Kale Quinoa Salad with Spiced Lime Vinaigrette

Serves 2

1/4 C of dried cherries, chopped coarsely, rehydrated with water for 15 minutes, and then drained.
3 cups chiffonaded fresh, raw organic kale, rinsed, spun-dry and chilled
1 C cooked quinoa, chilled or room temperature
1 or 2 ounces of sliced almonds, toasted

For the Vinaigrette:
juice of one lime
3 T sherry wine vinegar
2 tsps fig-infused white balsamic vinegar, such as Alessi brand (inexpensive and available in my local grocery stores) (or any white balsamic)
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C canola oil
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (or 1/4 tsp, to taste)
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp curry powder

Whisk vinegars together in a medium bowl.
Slowly whisk in each of the oils.
Whisk or froth in all seasonings and spices.
Chill in a glass jar.
When you remove it from the fridge, whisk or froth again, and it will hold together better once chilled.

Toast sliced almonds under the broiler for a few minutes (watch closely).

Plunge organic raw kale in cold water and swish, and let drain.  If you have a salad spinner, spin it dry.  Dressing will cling a bit better if it’s dryYou can also put the kale in a clean cotton pillow case and swing it dry.

To chiffonade the kale, cut the thicker parts of the ribs out of kale with a sharp knife.  Then stack and roll kale leaves and slice thinly, so you wind up with thin ribbons of kale.

Note:  I think dried cranberries would also be good in this.

Timatar Ka Salad (Indian Tomato Salad)

I love Indian food, and want to work on building up a repertoire of dishes to make at home.  This simple tomato salad has one major requirement, in my opinion;  use only freshly picked tomatoes from the garden or your farmers market.  I don’t eat “fresh” (raw) tomatoes in winter, because they taste like cardboard.  The tomatoes in this photo are of the Cherokee Purple variety and that’s why they’re not the traditional bright red.  If you’re like me, you’ve got a lot of late tomatoes right now and need to use them up before the bounty of summer gets hit by the first frost.  This recipe is from the cookbook Quick and Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey.  This was a book I bought BV (before veganism) but I kept it when I was culling all my old cookbooks because many Indian recipes are either already vegan or easily adapted to be so.  Maybe some of this has to do with Hinduism which holds the principle of nonviolence (ahimsa) in very high regard.  There is a conviction that eating other sentient beings as food is detrimental for the mind and body and spiritual development.  So, if you’re looking for a vegan restaurant meal, sometimes you’ll have good luck at Indian restaurants.  The one caveat is that many Indians are ovo-lacto vegetarians and so they do consume dairy and butter (ghee) and eggs, so you must request your meal to be vegan.  But many vegans find understanding and warmth at Indian restaurants, and many modern-day Indian restaurants are vegan also!  On with the recipe:

Serves 4-6

1.5 lbs. tomatoes
fresh basil leaves (or cilantro or mint leaves)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T peanut oil  and  1 T mustard oil  (or substitute grapeseed oil)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (not ground cumin)
1/2 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds (not ground)

-Cut tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices and arrange in slightly overlapping layers on a large plate.
-Tuck the basil (or cilantro or mint) leaves in the center.
-Sprinkle the salt, black pepper, cayenne and lemon juice over the tomatoes, avoiding the leaves.
-Put the oil in a small saucepan and set over high heat.
-When oil is hot, put in cumin and mustard seeds.
-As soon as mustard seeds being to pop (this takes a few seconds), lift the saucepan off the heat and spoon the oil and spices over the tomatoes, being careful to avoid the leaves.
-Serve immediately.