Oriental Cabbage Salad


While perusing the ready-made food section at Whole Foods Market, I spotted an aesthetically pleasing salad that I wanted to take home with me.  However, after reading the salad’s ingredients and discovering that agave nectar is one of them, I changed my mind and decided to make my own crunchy cabbage salad at home.

Have I ever mentioned that I never cook with agave nectar?   It is heated while processed so it is not truly raw.  It also has a low glycemic index, but actually contains more fructose than high fructose corn syrup!  No, thank you!

My natural sweeteners of choice are as follows:

1) Erythritol, a naturally-derived, sugar subsitute that contains almost zero calories and has a zero glycemic index. It is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. Erythritol tastes, bakes, and measures like sugar, but has 70% the sweetness of sugar. It’s safe for diabetics, has no digestive discomfort, has prebiotic activity, and does not feed the bacteria in your mouth. Compared to stevia, it doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste. I use the Swerve brand.

2) Pure, 100% stevia extract, a natural, no-calorie sweetener, which is extracted from the leaves of a plant. Beware, it can have a bitter aftertaste if used in high doses. Also, be sure to purchase the pure extract. Not all stevia products should be treated equally. Some are very processed and include additives like lactose!

3) Raw coconut nectar for its low glycemic index and because it contains much less fructose (about 20%) than agave (which can contain up to 90% fructose).  Coconut sugar contains 12 of the B vitamins, including riboflavin, thiamine, pyridoxine, biotin, nicotinic acid, pyridoxal and inositol.  It also has minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus and boron. Although coconut sugar has many benefits, it should be eaten sparingly.  It is high in calories and you would have to eat a large amount of it to satisfy your need for the nutritional benefits.  However, when you do enjoy your sugar switching from regular processed white sugar to coconut palm sugar is a good idea.   It could prevent blood sugar crashes that make us hungry and may lead to weight gain due to coconut sugar’s low glycemic index and lower fructose level.

Back to the cabbage salad (at Whole Foods it’s called “Cabbage Crunch”).  This is my vegan and gluten-free version of Chinese chicken salad or Oriental chicken salad.  It may not be the healthiest as it contains healthy fats and low fructose/low GI sugars, but it contains a lot of sesame seeds and tahini that are packed with essential minerals, manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus and calcium and Vitamin E.  This recipe also includes almonds, which are high in protein and fiber.  I use coconut vinegar in this salad because I personally feel that it tastes much better than apple cider vinegar, plus coconut vinegar has more nutrients—17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH.

I hope you enjoy this refreshing and delicious salad along with all of its benefits!


Oriental Cabbage Salad


Prep Time 10 minutes

Servings 2-4



4 cups green cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

1/4 cup sesame seeds (toasted sesame seeds is optional)

1/2 cup slivered almonds


3 Tbsp coconut vinegar (can substitute with apple cider vinegar)

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 Tbsp tahini

1/2 Tbsp filtered water

1 1/2 Tbsp coconut palm sugar

2 drops stevia (or 1/2 tsp more coconut palm sugar)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper



1. In a large bowl, add the shredded cabbage, green onion, sesame seeds and slivered almonds. Toss. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and whisk together to combine.

3. Pour the dressing over the cabbage salad and toss well to coat.

4. Chill or serve on salad plates.  Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Pie Season


Fall is an exciting time of year.  The mornings are crisp, the leaves start to turn color, and from this month forward we have one fun holiday each month for the next 6 months!  Woohoo!  What can I say, I like to celebrate– I’m young at heart and I love the holidays!


What I love most about the holidays is the time spent with my family and close friends, and of course, the comforting and nostalgic foods that come with the season. When I first spotted pumpkins, squash and persimmon at the market, I couldn’t help but grab a few and take them home with me!  Although I would love to keep them on my dining table as a gorgeous Fall centerpiece, I would also like to enjoy the tastes of the season.  I can always replenish my supply!

Tomorrow I’m headed to Playa del Carmen (Mexico) for a week, and before leaving I wanted to make as many culinary creations with pumpkin and squash as possible. So far, I made yellow Thai vegetable curry with squash; spaghetti squash, spinach and cilantro fritters; and I tested a pumpkin pie recipe.  Since I’m the only one in my family that makes pumpkin pies, I will be the one busy making them come Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This year’s pumpkin pie will be everyone’s first vegan and gluten-free pumpkin pie, and to be honest, I doubt they’ll be able to tell the difference.


For the pumpkin pie, I simply took my go-to pumpkin pie recipe that I’ve used for years, veganized it and made it gluten-free!  It turned out to be a success.  Only thing is, you will need some time to prepare in advance.  You will have to soak the cashews for at least 3 hours or overnight, and it does take some patience to freeze the pie, thaw it, slice into, then thaw it some more.  Believe me, the time is worth it and no worries, the directions are simple and straightforward; they’re all written out for you.  All you have to do is follow the directions and voila!  This pie tastes just like the pumpkin pie I grew up with, only better and it’s better for you!


In my pre-vegan days, I would frost my pumpkin pie slice like a piece of cake, slathering it all over with whipped cream.  With this recipe, interestingly, it almost tastes like the whipped cream is built into it.  When you take a bite into this, it feels and tastes creamy; you can taste the pumpkin and all those warm familiar Fall and holiday spices.  It feels a bit light, too, yet it’s quite substantial and may make you feel full off of one slice. You can add whipped cream, like I did, but whipped cream is not necessary.  If you’d like to make coconut whipped cream, check out my coconut whipped cream recipe.  I like to spice it up my coconut whipped cream with some cinnamon and sometimes with a little nutmeg and cloves.

I am so happy about my gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie recipe!  It’s super-satisfying and tastes just like the pumpkin pie they sell at stores, only it’s vegan and gluten-free.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

Lastly, as I wrote this post, I had my Spotify radio channel tuned to my Mozart radio station.  Here’s a piece that sounded so much like October that I want to share it with you.  It’s called “The Moldau” or “Die Moldau”, by Bedrich Smetana. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTKsHwqaIr4.  Enjoy and happy Fall to you all!


Pumpkin Pie  

Servings: 12

Time: 5 hours

Brief: When you take a bite into a slice of this pumpkin pie, it feels and tastes creamy; you can taste the pumpkin and all those warm familiar Fall and holiday spices.  It feels a bit light, too, yet it’s quite substantial and may make you feel full off of just one slice.

Diet: V, GF, GFV, DF, SF




1/4 cup ice-cold filtered water*

3/4 cup oat flour, gluten-free

1/4 cup coconut flour

¼ tsp xanthan gum, optional**

1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt

2 tsp coconut nectar

6 Tbsp raw coconut oil, melted


*I measure out the water and stick the measuring cup in the freezer while I get the rest of the ingredients.

**I don’t always use xanthan gum, as pictured. If you use it, your crust will not be as crumbly.



1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked in filtered water overnight

2 cups pumpkin puree*

1/3 cup raw coconut oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

3 Tbsp coconut palm nectar (or maple syrup)

1  3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp sea salt

3/4 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg


15 oz. of canned pumpkin puree will work. I bake my pumpkin in the oven at 350 degrees F for 1.5 hours.




1. Set separate racks in the center and lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Spray the pie dish with non-stick cooking spray.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, add the flours, xanthan gum, sea salt and sugar, and mix to combine.  Add the melted coconut oil and mix together with a fork, scraping the sides with a spatula. Add the cold water and mix together thoroughly with a fork.  The coconut oil will then start to harden and the coconut flour may absorb all the water.  You may need to add 2-4 more tablespoons of water to get the dough to come together.


4. Press the dough into the pie dish using the palm of your hand and fingers to press the dough flush into the pie dish. Try to make the crust as even throughout. If it helps, use a large spoon to smoothen out the dough evenly.

5. Place a large piece of parchment paper over the pie shell, just enough to hold pie weights, and fill the shell with dried beans or pie weights. Place the pie dish on a baking sheet, and bake on the center rack, until the shell is light brown, about 15 minutes.

6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and remove the parchment paper and pie weights from the pie shell. Place the baking sheet back into the oven and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.  The crust might crack a little if over-baked or too dry, but that’s fine. Mine cracked a little and was still fine. (Remember, I didn’t use xanthan gum. If I had used xanthan gum, it shouldn’t have cracked.)

7. Cool the crust and prepare the filling.



1. Soak cashews overnight or for at least 3 hours in about 2 cups of water.

2. Place all of the filling ingredients into the blender then blend on high until very smooth. Stop the blender and scrape the sides to ensure everything is getting blended. Taste and sweeten to taste, if you like it sweeter. If you do add more coconut nectar, blend until completely incorporated.

3. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust, scraping the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula. Using an off-set spatula or knife, spread the filling into the crust evenly.


4. Place in the freezer to set.  It should set within 3-4 hours, but set best overnight.


5. Hours before serving the pie, if it is completely frozen, remove it from the freezer and onto your kitchen counter. Let it sit for about 25 minutes.  Using a large sharp knife, cut slices. After you slice it, if you’re not going to serve it right away, place it in the refrigerator. Remove the pie from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving so it can fully defrost.

6. If you over-defrost the pie, just place it back in the refrigerator to let it set a bit.

7. Carefully plate the pieces of pie on dessert plates and top with whipped “cream.”

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Kelp Noodles with Asian Peanut Sauce


Sea vegetables, rich in vitamins A, B and C, are considered to be vegan seafood. They are high in calcium, protein, carotenes and chlorophyll; and they contain easily absorbed and densely concentrated minerals, especially iron, potassium, magnesium and iodine. Sea vegetables include: kelp, nori, dulse, wakame, kombu, arame, and hijiki.

I eat quite a bit of this stuff.  On occasion, I make vegan sushi rolls or mini tacos with nori and gluten-free furikake.  I also incorporate dulse into in my salads, noodles, and even sauces to achieve a more salty flavor in my food without introducing more sodium.  In addition, I pick up at least one bag of kelp noodles every time I visit Whole Foods Market.

Without any preservatives, kelp noodles have a very long shelf life. Although I could wait 6 months to enjoy them, I’d rather eat them fresh.

Keep in mind, kelp noodles taste a little bitter and crunchy straight out of the package, but after soaking and slathering them with sauce, they can be turned into beautiful soft glass noodles. I find these noodles to be very refreshing, especially on hot days. When I enjoy them, I prefer eating them Vietnamese-style.  For this recipe, I use traditional Vietnamese ingredients, except for the fish sauce, while adding other ingredients to make up for the salt- and tanginess of the fish sauce.  I usually use whatever ingredients I have on hand to add into the mix. If I have bean sprouts and sugar snap peas, I add them in addition to the kale and cucumber.


Kelp Noodles with Asian Peanut Sauce

Servings: 1 – 2

Time: 30 minutes

Brief: Kelp Noodles with Asian Peanut Sauce are a refreshing meal or starter course. Perfect for warmer days or when you feel like eating something light.

Diet: V, GF, GFV, DF, SF, SRF, R




12 oz. kelp noodles

½ lemon

1 cup shredded kale, stems removed, optional

1 tsp fresh mint, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 scallions, sliced thinly at a diagonal

1 Persian cucumber, chopped, optional


1 Tbsp peanuts, chopped


2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 – 1 serrano chile, deseeded and minced*

2 tsp ginger, minced

1 Tbsp peanut butter

1.5 Tbsp coconut aminos**

2 tsp ume plum vinegar***

1 lime, juiced

1 Tbsp filtered water


*can substitute with jalapeno or Thai chile. Adjust amount of chile depending on your desired level of spiciness

**a soy sauce alternative. If you don’t have this and don’t mind consuming soy, use Bragg’s liquid aminos or tamari, along with 2 drops of Stevia

***if you can’t find ume plum vinegar, you can use unfermented miso paste if you’re okay with consuming soy products.



1. Remove the kelp noodles from their package and give them a rinse.  Place the kelp noodles in a medium bowl and cut them a bit with kitchen shears, just enough so they don’t tangle. Add juice from 1/2 a lemon, 1/4 tsp of sea salt and add filtered water, enough to submerge the noodles.  Allow them to soak about 20-25 minutes to soften.

2. In the meantime, prepare the sauce.  Add all the ingredients for the sauce into a medium bowl and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste.

3. Prepare salad ingredients.

4. Once the kelp noodles have soaked, drain the water out of the bowl. Add the sauce to the kelp noodles and massage the sauce into the noodles with your hands.  Toss the remaining salad ingredients into the salad and enjoy!


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