Pump up the yams: Dairy or dairy-free crispy sweet potato skins with spinach and shiitake bacon

So if you know me you know that I don’t care about football (cue shock and horror). But I can get behind anything associated with food. I love that watching football requires an array of tasty eats. Tasty not so good for you eats. With the Super Bowl is coming up, some friends on the Whole 30 or just watching what they eat have asked me for ideas. That was all the incentive I needed to post a creation I made for last year’s Super Bowl. Stay away from the tasty but not so gut friendly potato skins and opt instead of crispy sweet potato skins stuffed with spinach and cashew cheese and topped with shiitake bacon. For those of you who want more protein and don’t care about the inclusion of dairy or processed foods – I have a cottage cheese alternative (you would never know it was cottage cheese) that you can top with tempeh/seitan bacon. Crispy, gooey, savory good for you snack food.

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Stir it up, little darling: Asian inspired soy-free mushroom veggie soup with spaghetti squash noodles and a poached egg

I love soups from the east – miso soup, ramen, pho and more. Chef Ilan Hall, who you may know as one of the first winners of Top Chef, or his Brooklyn restaurant The Gorbals where he films the show Knife Fight, is a chef who likes to challenge himself. Knife Fight often includes ingredients like pigs head or live catfish or lamb belly or shark. Not exactly veg friendly. But he recently opened Ramen Hood in one of my favorite food places in LA – Grand Central Market. Ramen Hood is no ordinary ramen place – the dishes are vegan. He makes mushroom broth that is meaty, creamy, spiced with togarashi, filled with ramen and topped with a faux soft boiled egg – yes a faux egg. I have yet try to try Ramen Hood but I have been craving it already. While on the Whole30 I have been unable to eat some of my favorite soups as they contain ramen, or rice noodles or soy – fermented or fresh. So I decided it was time to make my own mushroom based, asian-inspired soup, with bok choy and spaghetti squash for noodles. I haven’t figured out a faux-egg yet, so I topped with with a real poached egg. The result was earthy, flavorful and hit the spot.

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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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Take me home tonight: Veggie lo mein and shiitake bacon

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I was driving home and passed Bulan – a vegan thai joint that I love but rarely have a chance to frequent. My first thought was that I should call my hubby and ask him if I should get some take out for tonight. My second thought was, I am on a whole food challenge – what could I eat that would really be worth it? My favorite dishes are made of wheat gluten, soy and other ingredients I can’t eat. Even if I ordered a coconut curry, I am not sure I would enjoy it without the starches I am used to eating.

Which brought my mind to Chinese take out. Hmmmm, noodles. I could not get them out of my mind.

Do you know what time it is? It’s time for recipe creation. I refuse to deprive myself of the food I want, leaving that craving lingering in me until I give in and eat something that does not make me feel good. (what you resist persists)

How can I make what I want to eat and make it healthy?

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