Monthly Archives: June 2014

About sweeteners

I’ve got a sweet tooth. It doesn’t take a lot of research to discover that sugar is not good for you. Yet, sugar, especially high-fructose corn syrup, permeates many of the products available to us. Growing up with sugar-laden foods, I developed a taste for sugar. So, now that I’ve matriculated to a plant-strong diet, how do I deal with this sweet tooth in a more healthy way?

For one thing, I eat a lot more vegetables than I used to, and this reduces the craving for sweets. For another, I prepare a lot of my meals from fresh ingredients, so I can control the amount of sugar. When a recipe calls for sugar, I rely primarily on sugar substitutes such as agave syrup that are low on the glycemic index. Most of the sweeteners on the market have been shown to be harmful in clinical trials, yet there are two that are harmless. While they have little or no nutritional value, they enable you to enjoy the sensation of sweetness without harming your body.

Erythritol is my go to sweetener. It is a natural sweetener found in melons, peaches, pears, and grapes. It is absorbed in the small intestine with no laxative effects. It is about 70% as sweet as sugar. I purchase it in bulk online.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol derived from birch bark, a byproduct of the furniture industry. It is healthy for your teeth and used as a sweetener in chewing gum. It does have a laxative effect when used in large amounts, so you need to use it sparingly. It seems to be a bit sweeter than sugar, and has a slight aftertaste which I like, but some people find a bit strong. It is also coarser than sugar. You can remedy this by blending it briefly in a Magic Bullet to give a powdered sugar consistency.

I’ve experimented with various combinations of sweeteners in pies and sorbets for example, and the combination that I find works well for me is:

1/2 cup erythritol, 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) xylitol, and 1/8 cup raw sugar. You could use just erythritol, but the xylitol and sugar give the erythritol just a bit more bite.

For the latest researched-based information on sweeteners, got to
nutrition, search for sweeteners, and watch Dr. Greger’s videos including the three listed below.

Erythritol may be a sweet antioxidant
A harmless artificial sweetner
What’s the best low calorie sweetener?

Blackberry Cobbler

Blackberry Cobbler
3 pints of blackberries
3/4 cup sweetener. (Use 1/2 cup erythritol, 1/8 cup  xylitol powdered in Magic Bullet & 1/8 cup raw sugar)
3 Tbs. corn starch
Juice of 1 lemon
Mix all the ingredients together in the small clear glass bowl and set aside.

Use two vegan frozen pie crusts, one for the lattice top


Pour the berries, juice and all into a pie shell. Cut the second shell into strips to form the lattice top.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking until the fruit is soft and bubbling and the cobbler topping is golden brown–about ten minutes.

serve my blueberry cobbler with wipped topping or  frozen non-dairy dessert.

Serves 3-4

Cantaloupe sorbet

Flesh of one cantaloupe
2 sprigs of mint
1 cup water
1/4 cup erythritol
1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) lemon juice
1/8 cup raw sugar
1/8 cup xylitol
Puree cantaloupe in food processor. Chill in fridge.
Heat water, sugar, xylitol, & erythritol in saucepan until dissolved. Bring to a boil, simmer for one minute, remove from heat.  Add sprigs of mint, and steep for five minutes. Remove mint. Chill in the fridge until cool.
Combine melon, syrup, and lemon juice.
Freeze mixture in sorbet maker for 30 minutes.

Coconut sorbet


    • 2 (13 1/2 ounce) cans coconut milk
    • 1 cup shredded coconut
    • 2 Tablespoons raw sugar2 tablespoons Xylitol1/2 cup erythritol


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat, steep with 2 sprigs of fresh mint for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove mint, then refrigerate until fully chilled.
  4. Freeze in an ice cream maker for 30 minutes.

Quinoa and Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash


Serves 4
  • ¾  cup white quinoa, rinsed
  • ¾  cup red quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups apple juice or cider
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 acorn squash
  • 5 tablespoons vegan margarine, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apples, diced
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Toast quinoa without liquid in rice cooker for about 3 minutes. Add orange juice, apple juice, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let rice cooker do it’s thing. (Or, simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.)

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Cut each acorn squash in half and steam in veg. steamer pot. (Or, place cut-side down in a baking dish filled with 1/2 inch of water. Bake 40 minutes.) While squash steams (or bakes) and quinoa cooks, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and sauté onion, carrot, and celery over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Add sautéed vegetables to the simmering quinoa, along with the dried cranberries, apples and maple syrup.

Simmer the aromatic mixture for 10 more minutes, at which point the quinoa should be fully cooked and hold together like sticky rice. Remove from heat and stir in sliced almonds and parsley.

Turn the squash cut-side up and brush with remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Fill each half with 1/4 of the quinoa mixture and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.

This has been a huge hit every time we’ve made it. From Liz Gary cooking class 11-19-13

Stir Fry




Stir fry is one of our favorite ways to prepare our vegetables. The dish tends to be different every time – a unique combination of vegetables, spices, herbs, oils, and occasional fruit and nuts. The general process is described below and in the slide show above.
1. sautee onions in the wok using water or grape seed oil.
2. meanwhile, steam sweet potatoes in the microwave
3. in a separate skillet, sautee the mock chick’n (chick’n strips or chick’n scallopini)
4. when the onions are caramelized, add in vegetables with the toughest first (potatoes, carrots, peppers) and the fast cooking veggies last (basil, greens, mushrooms, pineapple, nuts).
5. add spices and cooking sauces.
6. add the mock meat or tofu.
7. mix together and let simmer a bit to let the flavors mingle.
8. serve over quinoa or rice – use a spoon to get some of the juices from the wok to flavor the quinoa
Sauces & spices:
grapeseed oil or water-  to start the onions
sweet cooking rice wine (kotteri mirin or Aji-mirin)
stir fry sauce
worchestershire sauce
soy sauce or Bragg amino acids
chinese five spices (our favorite)
thai seasoning
sweet potato
bell peppers – green, red, yellow, orange
yellow crook necked squash
zucchini or other green squash
cabbage or bok choy – optional
leafy greens – kale, swiss chard, collard greens
basil and morning leaves
water chestnuts
pineapple – for a bit of sweet
cashews or sliced almonds
Serve with:

Heavenly Salad

Inspired by the Heavenly Salad at Loving Hut


1 regular cabbage or 1 large daikon (about 3 cups), shredded
5 large carrots, shredded (2 cups)
Red Cabbage, shredded (1 cup)
Red and green bell pepper, thin slices
Shredded jicama (optional)
Include bits of mint and basil leaves

Use Walden Farms Pear & Balsamic, or try this Sauce:
5 tbsp rice vinegar, unsweetened and no sodium
3 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp miso paste
¼ cup minced onions

Agave to taste

1. Mix all the shredded veggies in a large bowl.
2. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
3. Mix the two together and there you have it.

½-1 cup chopped peanuts
Baked tofu, sliced or some chick’n


Three Potato Salad

From Kate Woodward
All Organic ingredients –
The potatoes, celery, onion, parsley and dill were fresh from the farmer’s market.
The vegenaise and vinegar were from People’s Coop Market on Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach.
3 Medium to Large Purple Potatoes
3 Medium to Large Yukon Gold Potatoes
3 Medium to Large Red Potatoes
1/4 cup Celery chopped finely or minced in food processor
1/4 cup Onion chopped finely or minced in food processor
2 Tablespoons of  fresh Parsley chopped finely
2 Tablespoons of  fresh Dill chopped finely
1 and 1/4 Cup Vegenaise or Amazin Mayo
Vinegar (Bragg’s Cider Vinegar) to taste
Steam potatoes to fork tender, remove from heat and cool. Peel and cut into bit size pieces.
Mix all other ingredients together and add to potatoes. Stir and serve or refrigerate up to two days.

Marinade for Grilled Vegetables

This make a mouth watering marinade. Double or triple the recipe for more veggies.

1 cup marinade

2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Optional: 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Combine all ingredients and mix well
Marinade veggies for 3 to 4 hours