A Smoothie for the Soul

I’m not a fan of smoothies, by my spouse, Michael, sure is. And when I take a big trip, I’m pretty sure he mostly survives on a liquid diet. You have him to thank for this Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie.  This smoothie is a satisfying alternative to the sugar-packed ones you’ll find at the local joint, not to mention a lot less expensive. So for a healthier, wealthier you, check out this recipe.

Michael and I scored when my mom got us the Magic Bullet as a Christmas gift a few years ago. While I use it to make cashew creams and sauces, it gets the biggest work-outs from making smoothies. It’s the perfect size for one or two servings (if you’re so inclined to share with someone). But that’s not the best part: Clean-up is super easy. The mixing cup comes has an attachable handle, so voila!, it doubles as the drinking cup.

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie Recipe

Put all of these ingredients, in this order, into a Magic Bullet or blender and blend until it’s the consistency of a thick milkshake. For the Magic Bullet, blend about 40 seconds, scrape down, and blend another 20 seconds. Blending time will vary by appliance.

For the right consistency, you’ll need to freeze almond milk into ice cubes before making this smoothie. I make a tray full and stick the rest in a zip-lock bag for later use.

6 almond milk cubes (150 grams)
½ c. frozen raspberries (70 grams)
12 oz. unsweetened almond milk (350 grams)
½ T. hemp hearts
½ t. stevia
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground dried ginger
½ t. vanilla extract
1 T. cocoa powder, like Equal Exchange cocoa baking powder
½ avocado
2 T. creamy natural peanut butter, like Santa Cruz or Krema
Serves: 1-2
Prep time: 10 minutes
Accommodates: Omnivores, Vegetarians, Vegans, low-carbohydrate, keto, and paleo regimens
Nutritional info: 522 calories, 26 gr. carbohydrates (3.7 gr. of sugar), 40 gr. fat, 15 gr. protein
Without raspberries: 489 calories, 19 gr. carbohydrates (1.2 gr. of sugar), 39.5 gr. fat, 14.25 gr. protein

Blueberry Crumble Bars Recipe

Blueberry Crumble Bars

One of our favorite desserts at my house is the result of a few different bar recipes and a rugalach cookie recipe I cobbled together. We regularly ate these desserts before we moved to a low-carbohydrate regimen and I was missing them. One day I wanted to make something a bit different than yet another version of the one cake recipe for which I’ve now developed like 7 different varieties, including the Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cake. Blueberries are fairly low-carbohydrate dense, as fruits go, so I decided to use them for the filling. I’ve never tried other berries, though I’m sure many others would also be good-especially blackberries when they’re in season.

These are good any time of year. Michael heats them a bit and completely covers them in whipped cream. I’m more of a purist and go sans vegan whipped cream (yes, there is such a thing). In the summer, they’d be excellent with ice cream. And they’re really simple to make, despite having to cut the butter into the flour mixture. The bars make a light dessert, so if you’re looking for something a bit heartier, you might want double the recipe and bake them in a 9” x 13” pan.

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Almond Joy Cookie Bars Recipe

When I moved to a low-carbohydrate diet, I tried some recipes that called for coconut flour. It seemed like no matter what I made with it–pancakes, cakes, cookies– I was never crazy about the end result. One day I looked for anything that sounded appealing to use up the rest. I came across a recipe for cinnamon raisin cookies. They sounded good, and I figured I’d just substitute nuts for the raisins, so I tried it out. Well, sort of…As I was putting it together, it seemed super bland to me. As I thought about how to salvage it, I got the idea for Almond Joy bars. Now it’s a favorite in our house. Maybe the reason I like this so much is because it only calls for ¼ cup of coconut flour…

Sometimes you feel like a nut...

Sometimes you feel like a nut…

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Go Nuts: Cinnamon Pecans Recipe

When I shifted to a low-carbohydrate regimen, I was at a loss at what to eat for breakfast. How was I to replace baked oatmeal bars, mini-wheats, and ahhh! pancakes?!? I tried a number of things. I like tofu scramble, but it’s time consuming to make. I made coconut flour pancakes and, well, hated those. I tried a few breakfast cake recipes but wasn’t crazy about them either. I kept coming back to nuts as my go-to breakfast.


Cinnamon pecans

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The Twisted Shepherd’s Pie Recipe


I never had Shepherd’s Pie until I found it in a vegetarian cookbook I got in college, but I instantly fell in love with it. When I got The Peaceful Palate at the only vegetarian conference I’ve ever attended, it was a spiral-bound book, printed up in 1992. I was happy to see that, though it’s now out of print, it did get published in 1996 and some copies are still floating around .

The rule of thumb for making any recipe is to follow the instructions the first time then tweak it the next time. As I’ve mentioned in other recipe posts, I often start with one recipe and end up with something entirely different. Jennifer Raymond’s recipes are the stark exception. Everything I’ve made from her cookbook was really good, just as it was, maybe needing a hot boost, at most. So I was really bummed when I moved to a low-carbohydrate regimen and abandoned potatoes. I’ve made a few other changes to this recipe to help adapt, but it’s still a great combination.

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That Kind of Day

Every once in a while I have That Kind of Day, one of those days where I want to eat everything in sight, spend a lot of time distracted by food, and find myself thinking about recipes I haven’t made in a while, wanting to drop everything I’m doing to immediately make them. Monday was one of those days for me. I was disappointed when I looked at the week’s menu only to find there was no way I could fit in three more entrées I really wanted to have.

Even though I baked a dinner dessert (Berry Crumble; recipe forthcoming someday) and a lunch dessert (Almond Joy Bars; ditto), and made a batch of Peanut Butter Cup Bars the previous day I wanted to make cookies. I also wanted to make pimento cheese spread. And goulash. And ratatouille. And Thai curry soup. Everything sounded so good. What got into me?!?

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Have a Heart: Artichoke Hearts & Veg-Parm Recipes

Roasted artichoke hearts

Roasted artichoke hearts

I love fresh artichokes, but they’re kind of labor-intensive and hit-or-miss off the produce shelf. I hate canned and jarred artichokes. I hate the citric acid additive that gives them a sort chemical-lemony flavor. The compromise: Frozen artichoke hearts. I discovered these a few years ago and swear by them. They are convenient and easy to prepare; so much so that I eat them once or twice a week.



A few years ago, I also discovered a dairy-free Parmesan cheese that didn’t taste like chalk powder. I found it online at a place I sometimes get hard-to-find veggie stuff, but they no longer carry it. I liked it so much that I decided to replicate it by following the ingredient list on the package. It didn’t take long to get the ratios right and I’ve been making it for the last few years. Even though it means lugging out the food processor, it worked out well because it costs a whole lot less to make it myself than to buy the 4 oz. containers. Since I mentioned this veg parm in some other recipes I posted (like Spinach Fettuccine Pasta and Baked Ziti), I didn’t think it would be fair, yet again, to list it but not include the recipe.

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Peanut Butter Cup Bars Recipe

As promised in an earlier post, here's the recipe.

As promised in an earlier post, here’s the recipe. Yours should look better than these, though, since they were from a trial ‘disaster’ batch.

By now, it’s evident that I love chocolate and that I’m also a big fan of peanut butter. Naturally, one of my favorite treats is peanut butter cups. When I went trick-or-treating as a kid, the first thing I looked for in my Halloween bag was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. That was the main score, for me, especially if they were full-size cups.

As I mentioned in the post that gave my blog its name, until my lifestyle change, I could not be trusted to be around a bag of peanut butter cups. No matter how much I wanted to eat responsibly, I just couldn’t quit at a reasonable serving. Along with potato chips, I just couldn’t keep them in the house. When I caved, I made certain to buy single serving packages, otherwise they would have been my undoing.

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Pumpkin: It’s for More than Just Latte.

Pumpkin-Stuffed Seitan and Cranberries

Pumpkin-Stuffed Seitan and Cranberries

Last week finally started to feel a bit like autumn and I was delighted to find pie pumpkins in stock and on sale at 4 for $5 at the store. What a steal! Pie pumpkins are different than those big ones that end up on carved people’s porches because they’re sweeter and less fibrous. I always feel like fresh pumpkin this special treat because I can only get it in season, unlike in parts of the world where it’s a staple food. And rightly so: It’s an excellent source of beta carotene and other nutrients, it’s low-calorie, high-fiber, and it’s even got protein.

Unlike sweet potatoes or butternut squash, pumpkin has far fewer carbohydrates (25 less than sweet potatoes; 8 less than butternut squash) and sugars (11 less and 4 less, respectively) for the same serving sizes. Calorie for calorie, it’s a much better nutritional deal. And it’s sad, because pumpkin is excellent for so much more than just baked goods or pumpkin spice latte (which–though I don’t know firsthand–I’m pretty sure is all about the spices and not about pumpkin flavor).

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An Attitude Adjustment

Before embarking on my lifestyle change, I had been conditioned that desserts were reserved as an occasional treat, maybe when we went out to eat (which was far less common when I was growing up), to end a holiday meal, or for a special celebration. As I got older, I doubly felt that desserts were mostly off-limits since I needed to lose weight. It was very unusual for me that the food program I chose included yogurt with lunch and dinner and an evening dessert choice. Along with eating breakfast and beginning dinner with a salad, incorporating sweet treats each day was probably one of the biggest reasons I was able to stick to my lifestyle change.

When I opted to follow a vegan regimen, I lost the low-fat yogurt option (though maybe that’s available now?). As I transitioned away from sugar and processed foods, I had to get more creative with that sweet ending I came to enjoy. One of my favorite lunch desserts is the peanut butter cups I make (okay, bars, because they take far less time to make). Sometimes I make haystacks (pecans, coconut, and chocolate with a dash of rum extract) or almond joy bars (all of which I’ll someday post- or let me know if someday is too far off).


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