Souped up soup: Spicy creamy tomato basil coconut milk soup

On a cold rainy day I crave warm tasty comfort food. The first thing that comes to mind is a grilled cheese and tomato soup. Oh yeah. And while my taste buds crave the bread and cheese, my digestive system does not. So I decided to soup up my tomato soup so it can stand as a hearty meal on its own. This vegan soup is made with tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, celery, leeks, coconut milk and my kale beet green almond walnut pesto. Creamy. Nutritious. Warm. Rich. Satisfying.

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Stuff it, stuff it real good: Pumpkin stuffed with kale, asparagus, almonds, coconut milk and smokey cashew nut cream

During the holidays, as a vegetarian, I refuse to settle for side dishes or a store bought mock turkey as my meal.  I need a tasty impressive main meal – so my centerpiece is a stuffed pumpkin – typically stuffed with cheese and cream. As tasty as the dish is, I knew this could be made without any dairy and remain tasty. A hint of cayenne and hickory smoke, cream from cashews and coconut milk, almonds for a crunch and veggies for nutrition – this dairy-free gluten-free stuffed pumpkin has been a hit over the holidays.

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Lettuce wrap it up for the day: Soy-free Asian inspired mushroom, nut, seed, veggie lettuce cups

Today is the Chinese new year – year of the monkey. On my way home I smelled mushrooms cooking in some sort of soy sauce and it made me crave something Asian with mushrooms. I have really grown into mushrooms over the last few years. I used to hate them…all the way into adulthood until I finally tried a dish at one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in New York City called Zen Palate. It was called mushroom forest and and was a chopped medley of shiitake, wheat gluten or soy, celery and other goodness that was eaten in a lettuce shell. Since coming to Calfornia, I have been making something similar, but without the wheat gluten or soy, and that is full of nuts and seeds for protein. It is shiitake, kale, carrot, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, pine nut medley served in a lettuce wrap. And it was perfect for a new year celebration.

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All about deez nuts (and dooz squashes): Gluten and dairy-free Spaghetti squash noodles with butternut squash cashew cream sauce, kale and pistachios

We have had an influx of visitors from back home in NYC (I love it!). And of course if people come over, I have to cook because that is just how I operate. Lately I have been swamped with work and toddler changes/tantrums, prepping my food every day for Whole30 and resisting that which I should not eat. So when guests come to town, if I don’t have anything prepped or time on my hands I need to come up with quick dishes. My fridge is overflowing with squash purees, so I decided to make her a pasta with a cayenne spiced pumpkin goat cheese sauce. My husband and friend loved it and I was drooling, frustrated I could not eat it. So of course I began to create a compliant recipe in my head and made it the very next day – gluten-free, dairy-free, white wine-free full of whole foods. Instead of spaghetti noodles, I used spaghetti squash. Instead of pumpkin, I used butternut squash just to change it up. Instead of goat cheese, I used cashew cream and nutrional yeast. Instead of white wine, I used lemon juice. And added kale and pistachios. Heavenly. I had three servings.

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Sometimes you just feel like an impasta: sweet potato pasta with zucchini ribbons, arugula, baby spinach, almond slices and walnuts topped with nut power green pesto

Who needs real pasta when there are so many veggieful imposters out there: sweet potato, zucchini, rutabaga, yellow squash and so much more. I love the real slim shady – that fiberless, refined, calorically dense carbohydrate that loves to wreak havoc on my body, but as I always say,if I am going to eat it I want it to be the best. So I’ll wait until I have an opportunity to consume the perfect handmade al dente pasta which is few and far between. In the meantime I would rather an impasta. I usually use a spiralizer to make noddles, but lately I have been craving a flater wider noodle – like pappardelle or even fettuccine would do. On a recent trip through an airport, I saw a beautiful picture on the cover of Food & Wine Magazine of pappadelle with pesto, arugula and walnuts and wanted to make it my way. Sweet potato noodles with zucchini, baby spinach, arugula, almond slices and walnuts and topped with a power pesto made of leafy greens, basil and nuts and a cashew nut based parmesan. Not as pretty as the front cover, but very very tasty.

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