Go-to dinner starter

One of my favorite "basic" meal starters is this base of mushrooms and a green.

I almost always have those two things on hand (they are a given on the grocery list) and I can make them into at least a half a dozen delicious dishes.

Here's one:

Mushroom Chard Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes

This was one of those "oops, I didn't plan dinner" nights. Thanks to my loyal mushroom/green stock, it was easy to throw something together.


I used a butternut pasta that I got for Christmas. I had baby bellas and shiitake mushrooms, but any work. The sun dried tomatoes gave it a little sweetness. Walnuts and nutritional yeast pack in the nutrients. Of course a few cloves of garlic while sautéing the onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Greg likes things spicy, so he added chili pepper flakes to his.

The base of this dish is simple:

1. Onion or leek
2. Mushrooms
3. A leafy green like kale or chard

Just that is divine.

saute vegetables

The optional additions include:
Nutritional Yeast
Sun-dried tomatoes
Other veggies like zucchini or carrots
Beans of any kind

I mean, anything would work -- whatever you like or depending on the season. I'm not creative in the kitchen, but I've had a surprisingly good time riffing off of this main idea.

Then, depending on what you have time for, what else you have on hand, your cravings, and a million other things, you can turn this into all kinds of goodness. 

veggie pasta

You can make it into a Buddha Bowl -- quadrants of mushroom, green, a bean and a whole grain. Add some avocado, sprinkle with sunflower seeds and drizzle with your favorite vinegar-style dressing.

Have it with a fresh green salad.

You could turn it into a soup (a miso broth would be delicious).

Or.... burritos!

It's easy and fun to pay around with this one. Let me know if you try it out!


cold care protocol

After almost two years of not getting a cold, last week I had one. But it was mild and short and I fully believe all my "woo woo" oils and herbs and "face rubbing" (as my guy says) made the difference.

After sharing pieces of what I do to keep immunity high, I thought I'd just give you the whole low-down. So here it is.

My normal daily routine has a lot of immune-boosting built into it, for example, my daily facial massage, putting oil in my nostrils and the herbs that I take in the form of teas and tinctures.

But when it comes to cold care, you gotta go with big hitters.

If you feel a cold coming on

The tickle in your throat, the little bit of excess mucus, the pressure in the ears. Whatever your early warning sign is, heed it.

1. Use Ravensara essential oil 4 times a day around and in your ears, on the lymph nodes under the jaw, a dab at the base of the skull and a dab on the sacrum/tail. Use about 4 drops total each application. This is medicine -- it doesn't take much. It's like a safe antibiotic. It's antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial. You will not find it in a grocery store. Here are two companies I've purchased from online.

2. Start doing a lymphatic massage several times a day. The lymph system is part of the immune system and it's essential to keep things moving, help those little cleaning factories do their job.

3. Get Wellness Formula. (See pic below.) There are lots of immunity boost supplements out there, I just happen to have great results with this one. Get the capsules instead of the tablets -- they are a little easier on the stomach. Take with food -- 3 capsules 4 times a day.

4. Might as well get some mushrooms, too. (See pic below.) I've used the Host Defense brand, Comprehensive Immunity Support capsules, spray and tincture, all with great result. I've also purchased medicinal mushroom tinctures through Etsy (less expensively).

5. Old fashioned fluids (warm water constantly throughout the day) and rest. If you're fighting something, don't go run errands (first of all, no one wants your germs), don't work out -- let your body use that energy to fight off the bug.

6. Studies show a reduction in upper respiratory infections in people who gargle warm salt water 3 times a day.

7. Other great supplements to consider: chyawanprash, astragalus, ginger (fresh or capsules), vitamins A and C, zinc, echinacea. Notice which pull or speak to you. Just don't take them aaaaallll at the same time.

My winter-season immunity boosters.

My winter-season immunity boosters.

If you have a cold

1. Stay home. Rest. I know this is hard to do. The world might stop turning if you have to cancel something or don't show up to that meeting!!  Seriously, I get that it can be inconvenient. I cancelled three things I really wanted to do last week. But pushing it can just worsen and prolong the symptoms and severity.

2. Keep doing all the things above.

3. Steam.

4. Puffs Plus. I don't even know why companies are allowed to make any paper products from non-recycled content. But when I have a cold, I buy the lotion-infused tissue with no apologies.

5. Nourish lightly. You know the saying, Feed a fever, starve a cold? Your body uses a lot of energy to digest food. And you want that energy to be directed at getting better. Eat light, simple and warm foods like soups and broth, cooked seasonal veggies and stewed fruit. Avoid rich and heavy foods as well as dairy, sugary treats and breads, and anything cold, frozen, dry and raw, which are all harder to digest.

6. Gentle movement. Once you feel up to it, try some gentle movement, especially easy stretching of the neck, shoulders and spine. The lymphatic system does not have its own pump, so we can help keep things flowing my moving our bodies. Shoulder rolls, neck stretches and cat/cow type articulation are all great.

7. Don't try to move on too quickly. How many people, maybe including yourself, have you heard say that they thought they felt better so they went back to their routines...and then got sick again. Ease back into your regular calendar of things slowly. Be gentle with yourself.


I hope you have no need for these ideas, but if you do, may they be of help and inspiration. Do you have cold-proof tactics? Share!

eat well or exercise?

There is an Ayurvedic proverb which reminds us of the power of food:

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. 
When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.

Food truly is medicine.

And while exercise and eating well should not be mutually exclusive, if scientists have to pick one as the biggest determinant of your health, it's what you eat.

Isn't that amazing? More than exercise, eating nutritious food determines your health.

The science of Ayurveda agrees -- digestion is the seat of health. It's the first place to look when something is out of balance.

Rather than adding supplements -- or worse, taking medication -- making better choices about the food on our plates is something that is accessible every single day. 

And then, if that doesn't address the issues, supplemental support may be necessary. But Ayurveda always looks at food first (healthy relationships, including with oneself, are second).


Portobello Pot Roast

In celebration of fall here in California, I thought I'd share a recipe. 

The mark of a good fall meal is that you have to eat it with a spoon. Our bodies do well with moist, heavy, warm foods to balance the dry cold of the seasonal shift.

I've made this Portobello Pot Roast twice and it's a winner. You know I love mushrooms and this is the perfect blend of comfort and nutrition.


1/2 cup red or white wine
4 large portobello mushrooms sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large onion sliced
2 cloves garlic pressed
3 tablespoons flour if sensitive to gluten use gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon rubbed or fresh sage
1 teaspoon dried or fresh basil
3 cups vegetable broth
4 large potatoes quartered
4 large carrots cut into 3-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or lemon pepper to taste
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (for slow cooker instructions see recipe notes)

In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the wine and add the portobello mushroom slices. Allow them to cook through and brown a bit—you’ll need to keep moving them around and turning them—and then remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the pan and add the onion and garlic. Caramelize the onions by stirring them until they wilt and begin to brown. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

Mix the flour, sage, and basil together in a small bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the broth to create a paste, and pour the mixture into the same pan you used for the mushrooms and onions. While stirring constantly over medium heat, very slowly add the rest of the broth so that you create a gravy or sauce.

When the mixture just starts to boil, turn the heat off and add any additional seasonings.

Add the potatoes, carrots, salt and pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to the gravy mixture. If more liquid is needed to keep the vegetables from drying out, add more broth.

Add the mushrooms and onions to the mixture and ladle into a large ceramic or glass pot or casserole dish with a lid, layering in the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Place the lid on and put into the oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

A side (or bottom layer) of brown rice or quinoa would make this just about as nutritious as possible.

Recipe and photo from A Virtual Vegan.

Let me know if you make it or have any creative additions!


pulled bbq mushroom sandwich

"What do you eat?"

This is a question I get all the time. All the time.

Thankfully, there's a whole world of creative, simple and delicious dishes that don't include animals.

And for someone like my boyfriend, who stopped eating meat about a year ago because of the environmental impact animal ag has on the planet, but loves meat, this sandwich is redeeming!

Mushrooms in general have a more hearty, "meaty" consistency and are a great source of protein, fiber and many important vitamins and minerals.

These trumpet and king oyster mushrooms eerily mimic the texture and look of pulled pork.

What really makes this sandwich for me is the slaw -- kale, carrot and red onion. It's the perfect tang to the spice of the BBQ sauce.

pulled bbq mush.JPG

This recipe is adapted from Chef Chris Rubenstein's of the same name. The original calls for smoking the mushrooms; I marinated them for a few minutes in liquid smoke and baked them. I also decreased the sugar and lightly steamed the vegetables for easier digestion.

The organic fries were a splurge and added the perfectly salty compliment.

I thought this was going to be more work than it was -- it was simple and quick.

Let me know if you make it!

And if learning more about how to reduce or eliminate animals from your diet is your jam (no pun intended), check out my upcoming Plant-Based Nutrition series.


Pulled BBQ Mushroom Sandwich

Servings: 4-6
Prep: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes


1 pound whole trumpet/king oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1/8 cup water
1 each head kale, finely sliced (chiffonade)
2 each carrots, peeled and grated
1 each red onion, julienned
3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup BBQ sauce
4 each sandwich rolls


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Clean the mushrooms and leave whole. Toss with the liquid smoke and a small amount (about 1/8 C) of water in a bowl and marinate for 10-15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, to prep the slaw, lightly steam the veggies: the carrots and onion together for 6-10 minutes and the kale for 3-5 minutes. Then mix the kale, carrots, and onion in a large mixing bowl and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

4. After marinating, place mushrooms and any remaining liquid on a baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes until darkened, but do not allow them to burn. When mushrooms are done cooking, allow them to cool slightly, then shred with a fork.

5. Mix vegan mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and crushed red pepper. Whisk to combine, then pour over the slaw and stir. Place back in the refrigerator. 

6. Heat oil in a saucepan, add mushrooms and BBQ sauce, and sauté until sauce is caramelized and has coated the mushrooms.

7. To assemble the sandwich, place kale slaw on the bun and top with mushroom mixture. Option to top with sprouts or microgreens. Bon appetit!

Notes: You can find liquid smoke at health food stores and the flavor/quality of the BBQ sauce will reflect in the dish.