The Shortest Path from Plant to Plate

I have been a vegetarian from the time I was conceived in my mother’s womb.

I find it funny when people ask me incredulously what I eat and whether I ever crave meat. The answer is everything! If I were to remove all of the fruits, vegetables, grains and other non-meat items from a person’s diet, they would not be left with much, whereas the opposite is not true. Honestly, I don’t have a taste for meat, my palate is highly developed for the consumption of delicious vegetables.

I have been thinking about why I believe what I believe when it comes to the things that I do (believe). My belief regarding vegetarianism can be summarized in a single sentence: The shortest path from plant to plate. Indulge me as I take a stab at describing, in long form, what vegetarianism means to me.

When I was in grad school, we studied Dijkstra’s Algorithm. What is an algorithm? A procedure, a series of steps, for solving a problem. Usually, you try to optimize the steps in some way. Dijkstra’s algorithm finds the shortest path by calculating cost (distance) to all potential paths from a given point. I am glad Computer Science has given me the language to articulate my vegetarianism in a way that people who want a logical argument might be able to understand, or at least respect. The shortest path minimizes the cost of production, environmental impact and maximizes nutrition.

To grow a plant, your inputs are: sun, soil, seeds and water. We’ll assign each of these a cost of 1, for a total cost of 4. If your soil is harsh, you will also be required to fertilize, but for simplicity’s sake we will ignore this variable. Plants also reduce Carbon Dioxide, help curb top soil erosion, and, with few exceptions, are able to be consumed within 100 days of planting. You are able to save seeds (so long as they are not of the Monsanto variety) to plant for your subsequent harvest.

To raise an animal, your inputs are: plants, water, parents and property. We will follow the same logic as above, plants = 3, water and property are each assigned a cost of 1, for each parent we must also count the cost of plants water and property, giving a parent a cost of 5, in this case each animal requires 2 parents, for a cost of 10, which brings the total cost of raising an animal to 25. We will not take into account veterinary care, and other costs associated with animals, again, for simplicity’s sake. Animals produce carbon dioxide, contribute to soil erosion through their consumption of plants, and depending on the animal, will take anywhere from to 7 to 540 days before it can be slaughtered, not including gestational period. Animals are self terminating, in that once you kill the animal it can no longer reproduce.

Before you get upset with me, I realize there are places in the world where the plants that do grow are not suitable for human consumption and people eat the animals who eat those plants out of necessity. I am not of the “killing animals is wrong” school of vegetarianism. I am of the “if people continue raising and slaughtering animals at the current rate, we will kill the planet” school of sustainability.

Now, back to my cost minimizing, nutrition maximizing shortest path from plant to plate theory:

By every measure: time to grow, time to harvest, and time to replenish, plants beat animals, hands down. Pulling from my super-simple math: Plant cost = 4, Animal cost = 25, so an animal is 6 times more costly to raise than a plant.

If I eat the plant directly I get all of the nutrition from that plant. The longer I wait to consume the plant after I have removed it from the ground, the smaller the nutritional value. If I follow this logic, the best plants to eat are those I have grown in my back yard and pick only when I am ready to eat, followed by farmer’s markets, and lastly, grocery stores. If I eat the animal, that eats the plant, I am taking the long route instead of eating the plant directly, the shortest path.

And that is my long way of saying…eat less meat, eat more vegetables.

Get them to the Greek

The February 2012 Veggie Dinner took us to another exotic locale…Greece! Jennifer and I (Eshe) co-hosted, it was one of the most preparation intensive meals to date. Good thing we had many Sous Chefs on hand.


  • Falafel chips and hummus
  • Greek Salad
  • Spanakopita
  • Baba Ganouj & Pita
  • Vegan Moussaka
Total cook and prep time: 2 hoursFor our appetizer, we cheated. The Falafel chips were purchased from Trader Joes as was the hummus. We doctored up the hummus a bit by adding additional garlic, lemon juice and salt (to taste) a hint of olive oil and a dash of paprika completed the dish.

Greek Salad

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 3 large Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 purple onion
  • Feta Cheese
  • Seedless kalamata olives
  • Your choice of lettuce (we used arugula, which isn’t very “Greek”)
Wash and tear your lettuce. Thinly slice the cucumber and purple onion. Cube and de-seed the tomatoes. Chop olives. In a large bowl, combine ingredients and toss. Add cheese last as garnish.  Top with your dressing of choice, we suggest a balsamic vinaigrette.


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 4oz feta cheese
  • crumbled butter
  • melted 10oz chopped spinach thawed, drained, squeezed dry
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten
  • 16 oz phyllo dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Slowly cook and stir onions until softened. Mix in spinach, dill and flour. Cook 10 minutes or until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Mix in feta cheese, eggs, salt and pepper. Separate one sheet of phyllo from stack and evenly brush with melted butter. Place another sheet over it and brush on butter. Cut the dough into long strips about 3 inches wide. Make sure to keep the remaining phyllo covered with plastic to keep from drying out. place a heaping tablespoon of filling on the edge of the strip. Fold the bottom right corner over the filling. Continue turning over to create a triangle. Repeat with remaining phyllo dough and filling. Place the filled dough triangles on a large baking sheet and brush with remaining butter. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden brown.

Baba Ghanouj

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz feta cheese
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prick eggplants wtih fork and bake (turning several times) 40 min or until soft. Remove from oven and cool. Remove skin and chop. Lightly salt and drain in colander for 1 hour to remove excess liquid. Place garlic on foil and drizzle with olive oil. Place on a piece of foil on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Let cool and sqeeze garlic out. Place all ingredients into a blender except 4 oz of feta and the parsley. Blend for 3-4 minutes or until smooth and warm. Add remaining feta and parsley and blend for 10 seconds.

A word to the wise: Make sure that your blender has a powerful motor. Our Baba Ganouj was nearly just Baba on account of the lack luster performance of my run of the mill blender. It was touch and go, but in the end, success! The recommendation I would make – blend in smaller increments, adding a bit at a time instead of everything all at once.

Our recipe for Vegan moussaka came from the, please visit their site for preparation details. The moussaka was the one dish that was less than stellar. Typically, moussaka is like a Greek lasagna, mine…not so much. It was far too wet, and did not hold together as it should have. Taste wise, it was decent, but nothing to write home about. What went wrong? I think the eggplant should have sweat out a little more water before adding, perhaps even grilled ahead of time, the same with the tomatoes. The seeds should have been removed and perhaps a little dehydration in the oven prior to cooking. Here is the side by side of what it should have looked like, and what it did:

What it was supposed to look like
what it did.

After dinner, I made the remainder of the moussaka into a delicious soup. A (cooking) failure is only a failure if it cannot be turned into something delicious to eat. Until the next blog, remember: happy eating is healthy eating!

Trinidadian, Veggie Style!

In 2012, we wanted to focus on the foods of the world. Two of our Veggie Dinner regulars, the Heningburg sisters, are Trinidadian. For our first Veggie Dinner of the year, they treated us to the tastes of their homeland, and what a treat it was.


  • Corn Chowder
  • Cucumber Salad
  • Plantains
  • Pelau
  • Callaloo
  • Trini-tea
Callaloo 6 to 8 servings
     ½ lb spinach
     ½ lb swiss chard
     6 cups vegetable stock
     1 onion, finely chopped
     1 clove garlic, chopped
     3 scallions, chopped
     2 tbsp fresh chives
     ¼ tsp fresh thyme
     ½ cup coconut milk
     1 (10 ounce) frozen okra
     2 tbsp Matouk’s (hot sauce/ salsa picante) pepper sauce
     salt & pepper to taste
Place the greens in a soup pot with stock, onion, garlic, scallions, chives, and thyme.  Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 20 mins. Add coconut milk, okra, and pepper sauce.  Simmer of medium heat for another 10 mins.  Salt & Pepper to taste. Remove from heat and transfer all contents to a blender.  Blend on low for about 20-30 secs. Serve.
Corn Chowder 6 to 8 servings
     8 fresh ears of corn
     1 small onion
     5 chives, minced
     2 garlic cloves, minced
     1 stalk of celery, minced
     2 small green bell peppers, chopped
     1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
     2 cups lentils
     6 cups vegetable stock
     3 roma tomatoes
     2 tbsp Matouk’s (hot sauce/ salsa picante) pepper sauce
     salt & pepper to taste
Remove the kernels from two of the ears of corn and place in a blender with ¼ cup of water.  Puree until most of the corn is processed into a creamy paste.  Set aside. Place the onion, garlic, celery, chives, cilantro, and bell pepper.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent. Rinse the lentils and add to the pot with the stock and tomatoes.  Cut the remaining ears of corn into 1-inch pieces and add to the pot.  Simmer for 15 minutes, then add corn puree and pepper sauce.  Simmer for 30 minutes more or until corn kernels are soft and the lentils have disintegrated.
     4 large really ripe plantains
     1 tbsp brown sugar
     canola oil
     ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
Peel the plantains and cut crosswise into 1-inch sections.  slice each section lengthwise into 3 pieces. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan until hot.  Add the plantains and brown sugar and fry until plantains are golden brown on one side, about 1 to 2 minutes.  (Do not overcrowd the pan or allow the plantains to scorch).  Remove from the pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.  Dust the plantains with confectioners’ sugar and serve hot.
Cucumber Salad
     1 lb cucumbers, sliced
     1 onion
     1 cup vinegar
     ¼ cup water
     ¼ tsp dill
In a saucepan, vinegar, water, dill and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat. Place cucumbers in a large bowl. Pour vinegar mixture over and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
     1 (12 ounce) can black-eyed peas or 1 cups dry
     2 cups long-grain rice, slightly undercooked
     3 tbsp canola oil
     1 small onion, chopped
     1 clove garlic, minced
     1 cup coconut milk
     2 cups water
     1 bay leaf
     2 tsps curry powder
     ½ cup chopped parsley
     ¼ tsp fresh thyme
     2 carrots, peeled and chopped
     5 scallions, chopped
     2 tbsp Matouk’s (hot sauce/ salsa picante) pepper sauce
     ½ cup ketchup
If using dried peas, soak them overnight in 3 cups of water.  Drain.  Bring 3 fresh cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and add peas.  Simmer for 15 mins, or until cooked almost completely through.  Drain and set aside.  If using canned beans, drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and set aside. 
Place the onion and garlic.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent.  Stir in water, the coconut milk, bay leaf, curry power, parsley, thyme, carrots, and scallions.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
Stir the rice, peas, pepper sauce, ketchup.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the peas and vegetables are tender (add ½ cup more water if needed).  Remove the lid and fluff the rice. The rice should be moist but not sticky.
We hope you enjoyed this food trip to Trinidad & Tobago! Please join us for our next journey, where myself and Jennifer will be preparing food from Greece!

December Potluck

Given how hectic the month of December is, we opted to spread the hosting wealth and do a potluck dinner.


  • Asparagus w/cream sauce
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Sweet potato casserole 
  • Salad
  • Pumpkin pie
Asparagus w/cream sauce
  • 1 bunch green asparagus
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • Nathan’s deli mustard
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 carton of silky tofu
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • salt
  • pepper
  • curry powder
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • olive oil
Blanch the asparagus (steam quickly) for about 2 minutes. Place the asparagus on a cookie sheet and drizzle in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for ~5 minutes on 350. You will need a food processor or a blender. Combine the ingredients (season to taste) for cream sauce in the food processor and blend until completely liquified. In a sauce pan, heat the mixture until warm and and serve with the asparagus.
Garlic mashed potatoes
  • 5-6 potatoes (of your choice) 
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 5 cloves of garlic (or more if you like garlic!)

Roast garlic in the oven for 15 minutes or until soft. Wash and dice potatoes into small cubes. Boil potatoes in a large pot until potatoes are soft. Drain potatoes (keeping some of the water to use for mashing). In a large mixing bowl, combine garlic, salt pepper, and potatoes. Mash until fluffy. Add Earth Balance buttery spread to taste.

Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 red onion
  • Kalamatta olives
  • chives
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 cob of sweet corn
  • 1-2 cups of sliced crimini mushrooms
  • marinara sauce (I like Whole Food’s 365 organic tomato basil)
  • Fresh basil
  • Italian seasoning
Split the spaghetti squash in half and poke several holes in the meat using a fork. Pour about 1 inch of water into a large, deep pan and place the spaghetti squash meat side down in the water. Bake on 350 for 45 minutes. Chop garlic, onion and red pepper, saute in olive oil and salt to taste. Remove kernels from the cob and saute with mushrooms. Scoop seeds from the spaghetti squash and discard. Scoop all meat from the spaghetti squash into a large pan and combine with sauteed vegetables. Add marinara and chopped heirloom tomatoes. Heat on low, add Italian seasoning, kalamatta olives and salt to taste. Garnish with chives and basil.
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Lemon juice
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • seasoning
  • brown sugar
Wash lettuce and slice off the bottom. In a sauce pan, saute mushrooms and red bell peppers. Combine lemon 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar in a container (with lid) shake well. Place lettuce on plate and add mushroom and bell peppers, drizzle with salad dressing and serve!
Sweet Potato Casserole
We are missing this recipe…Kat and Avory have to provide 🙂
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
We are missing this recipe…Russel will have to provide!
Yet another delicious meal to add to the veggie pantheon of goodness. Let us know if you attempt any of these and until the next time…happy eating!

A Veggie Field Trip: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Typically we host the veggie dinner in the comfort of someone’s home, but not so for our November 2011 dinner. I just so happened to be listening to NPR (well, not just so, I listen to it ALL the time…) and heard that Vegan cookbook author, compassionate cook and animal advocate, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, would be speaking at Changing Hands Bookstore. Since we often discuss the impact of healthy food choices it seemed like a perfect opportunity to take this show on the road!

Colleen was a humorous and engaging speaker. Her passion for the humane treatment of animals was apparent in her talk, particularly when she characterized the consumption of animal flesh and byproducts as: “Subsisting on their stolen secretions and mutilated bodies.” She went on to discuss the human decision to ingest animals as an unnecessary evil given that unlike cats, humans are not obligate carnivores. I greatly enjoyed her talk and found it both thought-provoking and informative. I wasn’t in full agreement with her advocacy for “faux meat” I prefer to stick to whole foods, however, it was certainly a lively Q&A! I ended up purchasing Colleen’s cookbook, “Vegan’s Daily Companion,” though I’ve yet to cook anything from it 🙂

Following the discussion, we headed next door for a healthy and delicious dinner at the Wildflower Bread Company, a wonderful restaurant for those on the go in need of a quick and healthy food option.

Veggie Burgers – From Scratch!

The host of our October 2011 (yes, the blog is in need of updating) was our youngest Veggie Dinner attendee, Makenna!

She is 16 years old and planned the menu and of course, we all assisted in the preparation. So, what was on the menu?

  • Baked sweet potato fries
  • Coleslaw
  • Salad
  • Black bean burgers
  • Dump cake
This is a great go-to menu for all of those transitioning from a meat-heavy diet because it takes something familiar and turns it into delicious veggie goodness!
  • 1 bag of mixed greens (no iceberg lettuce!)
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 purple onion (finely sliced)
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 2 roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamatta olives
Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss. Serve with your favorite dressing.
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 3/4 cups veganaise (add more or less depending on how creamy you want your coleslaw)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (or to your taste)
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix until all veggies are coated.
Sweet Potato Fries
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, cut into large wedges
  • Coarse Salt
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Ground Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the sweet potato
wedges in a large mixing bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper until well coated. Place on a cooking sheet in the oven. Cook for ~30 minutes, or until done.
Veggie Burgers
This is the most labor-intensive part of the meal. You will want to cook your beans ahead of time, preferably in a crockpot overnight if you have one! Our veggie burger recipe came from the book Veggie Burgers Every Which Way. Our bean of choice was the ever so versatile black bean.
Black Beans
  • 1 bag black beans (rinse and sort)
  • 1 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • seasoning salt
  • cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • pepper
In a crockpot combine beans with twice as much water. Add seasonings, garlic, and onions. Stir and put crockpot on low for 8 hours (while you sleep!)
Veggie Burgers (we doubled this entire recipe since we were feeding 8)
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked beans
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs, beaten (we used Ener-G egg replacer)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (for vegan burgers, you can remove this)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup toasted bread crumbs (more if needed)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped *
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped *
  • 1/2 purple onion, chopped *
  • 2 tsp olive oil *
*custom addition not in the recipe book
Combine olive oil, chopped peppers, and onion in a saucepan; saute on medium heat for ~5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. In a mixing bowl, mash the beans using a potato masher. Fold in the eggs, parsley, Parmesan, mustard, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Fold in the bread crumbs, adding more if the mixture becomes too loose. Add sauteed vegetables and stir. Let sit for ~5-10 minutes to allow the bread crumbs to absorb moisture.

Shape the mixture into patties. In an oven-safe skillet or nonstick pan, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the patties to cook on each side until brown. Transfer to a cooking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until the burgers are firm and cooked through. These can be frozen for later!
To top your veggie burgers, you can add your favorites. We added:
  • Sliced avocados
  • Tomato slices
  • Sliced kosher dill pickles
  • Spinach
  • Mustard
Combine your toppings with your veggie burger on a whole wheat bun.
We won’t tell you how to make dump cake, it’s not good for you 🙂 but no one says you can’t Google it! Until next time…happy eating!

Risotto and Grilled Veggies

Our host for the Veggie dinner in September was Jennifer, and she treated us to a delicious dinner! The main dish, risotto, is tricky to make, but when its made right it’s really yummy! 🙂 What you’ll need:

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1 onion
  • 1 1/2 cups risotto (arborio)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 bunch parsley
You can use veggie broth or plain water, but veggie broth adds more flavor.

The important part about cooking risotto is the way you cook it. You place the risotto in the pan and pour the liquid over it until it’s just covered. As the water is absorbed into the risotto you continue to add liquid a little at a time until the risotto is fully cooked. Unlike rice, risotto can and should be stirred throughout the process.
For this recipe, cook the onions and fennel until softened but not browned. Then add the onions and the fennel to the pot with the risotto. Add the parsley, then cook the risotto. Once the risotto is cooked add the butter and the cheese. Serve with delicious grilled veggies!

The grilled veggies that our hostess served were:

  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
Veggies should be seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Grill on low heat over an open fire and voila! Delicious grilled vegetables.

In addition to the grilled veggies, Jennifer served mozzarella skewers:
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Buffalo mozzarella
  • Basil

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella drizzle with olive oil and toss in chopped basil. Spear the tomatoes and mozzarella on skewers, ready to serve!

Finally, any veggie dinner would not be complete without a dessert to top it all off, but so sorry, you can’t have the recipe…it’s a secret. Jennifer says any time you want this fantastic apple pie, she’ll be happy to make it for you! That’s it for the September veggie dinner (from 2011). Working through the backlog, so still to come: October, November AND December. Until then, as always: happy eating!!


Pesto Pasta (say that 3 times fast) and Grilled Portabellos

A day late, and a dollar short; more like a late blog but a tasty meal! In August we were treated to a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious vegetarian meal hosted by Chris and Jean. What was on the menu? Portabello mushroom filled with goat cheese or grilled spicy pepper cream cheese and topped with asparagus and balsamic reduction, bow tie pasta with pesto cream sauce, bruschetta and fresh fruit! This meal will take ~45 minutes to prepare, provided that you have helpers. Now that your mouth is watering, let’s get down to brass tacks and teach you how to make this delicious vegetable goodness.


  • 1-2 loves of French bread
  • 6 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 jar of kalamata olives
  • I jar artichoke hearts
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Chop the tomatoes and in a large bowl combine with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper (to taste), toss. Slice the onions and saute in olive oil for ~5 minutes or until soft. Drain olives and artichoke hearts and put in separate bowls for consumption. Slice and toast the French bread loaves in the oven at ~400 degrees for 5 minutes (checking to ensure you do not over-toast). Place the desired amount of each topping on a slice of toast and enjoy!

Portabello Mushrooms & Asparagus

  • Whole portabello mushrooms (1-2 for each person you are planning to feed)
  • 1 bushel of asparagus (2-3 stalks will top each mushroom, plan accordingly)
  • 1 package of goat’s cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • garlic (as much or as little as you like — 3 cloves is good)

Create your sauce: combine salt, pepper, olive oil balsamic vinegar, and whatever spices you like (season to *your* taste). Place the mushrooms top down on a baking sheet and drizzle the sauce over each mushroom adding some minced garlic. Bake uncovered for ~15-20 minutes, then add goat cheese (or not) and allow to melt.

Steam the asparagus until it was just starting to get soft, then toss it in salt and pepper before finishing it up on the grill (or in the oven on a baking sheet for ~5 minutes if you have no grill) to get a nice crisp finish.

Pesto Pasta

  • Basil (we don’t know how much — we like a LOT)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Garlic (~3-4 cloves)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Lemon (to taste)
  • Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, don’t cheat yourself with the canned stuff)
  • A bag of your favorite bow tie pasta (you thought we were fancy, you thought we would make it from scratch…but, no.)

Start with about 3 cloves of garlic, combined with the basil and the pine nuts and chop in a food processor, add oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. The consistency of the pesto will depend on what you’re going to use it for; more oil if it’s going on pasta, less if it’s for dipping or topping sandwiches. Add salt, red pepper flakes, and lemon to taste (put a little in, blend and see if you like it, then keep adding). We usually end up adding a couple more cloves of garlic but that’s because we like garlic a LOT. We also use really coarse salt, it helps with the texture/flavor. If you don’t have a salt grinder you can use kosher.

Boil your pasta rinse with cool water and drain. Combine the pesto and pasta in a large pot and stir until the pesto is distributed evenly. Top with grated Parmesan.

Choose your favorite summer fruit for dessert (suggestions: sliced mango, watermelon, berries, pineapple, or whatever tickles your fancy), slice, and serve!

Healthy eating does not have to be boring, or tasteless! Get out there and experiment, your taste buds (and your belly) will thank you! Our September veggie dinner was hosted by Jennifer and mmmm it was really good. I’m sure I won’t post that blog for another month, but, that gives you time to perfect this recipe, happy eating!

Thai Food! (No Fish Sauce)

Better late than never! Yes, this post is l-a-t-e, late, but that does not diminish the veggie deliciousness that comes to you in this post. Thai food is a vegetarian favorite, but what many veggies DON’T know is that the flavorful Thai dishes are made using Fish Sauce, which is fermented fish. For June’s Veggie Dinner, our host, Sheldon, treated us to Thai minus the Fish Sauce! His challenge was to recreate the flavor of the dead fermented fish that makes Thai food so tasty, his secret: Mushrooms and Soy Sauce!


Papaya Salad

  • 1 Green (unripe) Papaya
  • 1/2 Cup Roasted Peanuts
  • 1 cup Chopped Cilantro
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Green Onions
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes (halved)
  • Soy Sauce (season to taste)
  • Palm Sugar (season to taste)
  • 1 cup Fresh Green Beans, halved
  • 2 Carrots (Grated)
  • Mint (optional)

Combine in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Curry Paste

  • 1 tbsp Ginger (Grated)
  • 4 Stalks of Lemon Grass (only the whites — the bottom portion)
  • 2 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 2 tsp Cumin Seeds (Toasted)
  • 12 Green Chiles
  • 1 2 Inch piece of Galangal (Grated)
  • 10 Garlic Cloves
  • 6 Shallots
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Turmeric (Grated)
  • 1 small bunch of Cilantro
  • 2 limes, juiced

Grind the paste ingredients either in a food processor or using a mortar and pestle.


  • Coconut Milk
  • Curry Paste
  • Japanese Eggplant
  • Oyster Mushrooms
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Thai Basil
  • 2 Zucchinis
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Soy Sauce

In a large pot, heat vegetable oil and add curry paste. Fry until the aroma of the paste fills your kitchen and causes you to salivate!!! Add the coconut milk and stir until the broth is homogenized. Add the eggplant and simmer for a few minutes, add the remainder of the chopped vegetables and simmer for a few minutes (until the vegetables are tender). Taste and salt to your liking with Soy Sauce. Once your curry is seasoned to your taste, add the Thai Basil and allow it to wilt, then, you are done!


Most Thai restaurants will typically serve white rice with their dishes. Our host opted for a much heartier and more savory rice. To prepare, add 1 part rice to 2 parts water. Bring the water to boil and then reduce to a simmer for ~40 minutes.


After a great (healthy) dinner, what better way to top it off than with a tasty dessert!

  • 1 large Pineapple
  • Agave Nectar
  • Your favorite ice cream (optional)

Slice the pineapple into spears and grill. Add a scoop (or two!) of your favorite ice cream and enjoy!

This dinner requires a lot of prep work and multi-tasking. It is to your advantage to have a helper (or 2) to assist with chopping, grinding, and shredding. Timing the preparation of your dishes to ensure that they complete at the same time will be a little tricky. A few suggestions:

  • Prepare the curry paste the day prior
  • Start your rice while chopping up the vegetables for the curry and salad

Until next time: Healthy eating is happy eating!

Cinco de Mayo

This month in honor of Cinco de Mayo, we did the veggie dinner Mexican style! Our host for this month’s dinner, yours truly, Eshé. I am a west coast girl so Mexican food is one of my favorites! The great thing about this dinner is that (with the exception of dessert), it’s vegan! What was on the menu? Glad you asked.

The Menu

  • Appetizer – Chips and Guacamole
  • Main Course – Veggie Tacos
  • Drink – Virgin Margaritas
  • Dessert – Cake and Ice Cream (okay so we deviated from the theme…)

Virgin Margaritas

  • Limeade
  • Orange Juice
  • 4 large grape fruits

Juice the grapefruits and combine with limeade and OJ to taste (Jennifer our fabulous bartender did an amazing job!)


Chips — Purchase your favorite tortilla chips from your local grocery store, I am partial to Red Hot Blues which are the best. chips. EVER!


  • 5 ripe avocados
  • 1/3 purple onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 ear of fresh sweet corn, remove from the cob
  • 2 handfuls of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, chopped
  • Garlic powder
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Pepper

Skin the avocados and remove the seeds. Combine the avocados and lime juice in a large bowl and mash (a potato masher will do the job) until you have reached the desired texture (I prefer a little chunky). Add onions, bell pepper, olives, corn, and cilantro and mix. Add salt, garlic powder, and pepper to taste.

Main Course

Spices you will need:

  • Sea salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Ground cayenne pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Honey
  • Bragg (a must have for every veggie kitchen!)
  • Olive oil

Calabacitas (sort of — used as a taco filler)

  • 2 Jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 3 habanero peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pkg firm tofu, cubed and drained
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 yellow squash, chopped

Add olive oil (~2 tbsp) in a pan and add tofu. Stir in Bragg, cayenne pepper and cumin to taste, allow to simmer on medium heat for ~10 minutes. Add garlic, onions, peppers, and bell pepper, stir and allow to cook for ~5 minutes. Add zucchini and squash drizzle on about 1/2 tbsp of honey, add additional seasoning to taste, continually stir and allow to cook for ~10 minutes or until squash and zucchini are tender, cover and remove from heat.

Black Beans (used as a taco filling)
A crockpot will be your best friend to make your black beans. Combine 1 lb of black beans (rinsed and sorted) with about 3 times as much water (I eyeball these things, apologies), and add salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste. Set your crockpot to cook on high for 6 hours.

Cilantro Lime Rice (also for taco filling)

  • 1 bag of long-grain brown rice
  • 2 handfuls of cilantro
  • 2 limes, juiced

A rice cooker is also a must-have! Combine the bag of rice with the appropriate amount of water (typically 1 part water to 2 parts rice). This will cook for approximately 40 minutes. When the rice is ready, stir in sea salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste!

Tortilla shells

  • 2 pkgs blue corn tortillas (purchased from Trader Joe’s)

In a pan on medium heat, add olive oil and fry the taco shell on each side, folding in half once it is soft enough to do so (otherwise it will break). When the taco shell is slightly crispy, remove from heat and shake excess oil. Place in a paper towel-lined pan to allow remaining oil to absorb. Repeat for as many taco shells as you need (we did 2 per person…well, Sheldon only got 1 taco…sorry Sheldon!)


  • 5 tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 lb sliced spinach
  • Pico de gallo (you can make it fresh…we bought it from Whole Foods)

Build your tacos:

In your taco shell, combine beans, rice, calabacitas, tomatoes, spinach, guacamole, and pico de gallo IN THAT ORDER (small joke), and enjoy! Be prepared to get messy…

For dessert, we were treated to a very tasty whole wheat vanilla cake from Whole Foods and Banana split ice cream, topped with fresh bananas!

This dinner was truly an exercise in collective cooking. There was so much chopping that needed doing, we used ALL of my cutting boards! It felt like Iron Chef in that kitchen 🙂 Team work made the dream work, and what a tasty dream it was. Join us next month as we travel to the home of our next host…Sheldon!