Simple and Tasty Vietnamese Spring Rolls

A friend of mine dropped by a few weeks ago with what seemed like a bag of vegetables.  I told her “that’s great, let’s make some salads for everyone”. She giggled, “hehe, let’s try something new today, a different kind of salad and it will be fun.  Everyone can get involved with making them”.  That sounds like fun I thought.  My friend is Vietnamese, she was going to show us how to make her mom’s spring rolls.


The recipe is so simple yet it tastes so good.  The flavors are fresh. The textures are wonderful with different kinds of chewiness from the rice paper and tofu and the great crunchiness from the various vegetables, herbs, and fruit, but it’s the sauce that puts it over the top. The sweet and savory taste really works well together to complete the flavors. Not only that, spring rolls are healthy for you too.

Okay, flash forward to today.  I haven’t had spring rolls in a while and I want them, now!

This is a healthy cheap meal with a lot of flexibility in terms of ingredients. The ingredients minus the sauce, which I already had, came out to 10 bucks.  You can use any leafy and root veggies you have on hand it still come out delicious.


So here’s what you need.

Spring Roll Ingredients:

  • 1 head of lettuce (romain / green leaf / butter, etc)
  • A bunch of mint leaves
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 jicama or Asian pear
  • 1 box of firm tofu
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small daikon (white carrot)
  • 1 packet of thin rice paper


Sauce Ingredients:

  • Hoisin
  • Peanut butter
  • Chili Sauce (optional)

2 Hours Before Making Spring Rolls


Before you plan to make spring rolls, plan a couple hours ahead.  That’s because we need some time to lightly pickle the carrots and daikon. First, wash the daikon and carrots.  Then, skin the outer layers for both root vegetables. After that, julienne the carrot and daikon and put them into a bowl. Add 2 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar and mix them up well. Leave at room temperature for 2 hrs.

Prepping the Other Ingredients

  • Carefully wash the lettuce leaves, jicama (or asian pear), cucumber, and mint
  • Drain the excess water from all vegetables and tofu
  • If the lettuce leaves are too big, split into half lengthwise
  • Separate mint leaves from stems
  • Julienne cucumber, jicama (or pear)
  • Cut tofu into thin stripe

Making the Dipping Sauce


It’s just two ingredients and you can make it right before eating. Add 2 tablespoon of hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon of water into a small pot. Add some chili sauce to taste if you prefer it hot. Stir the mixture over medium heat until bubbling. Remove immediately.


This is what the dipping sauce looks like after mixing and heating it up.

How to Roll the Spring Rolls


These the pre-made rice paper wrappers that you can find at any Asian supermarket or even Wholefoods. It’s important to note that you SHOULD NOT make these ahead of time.  Spring rolls tasted the best when you make them fresh right before you eat them.  It’s also more fun that way.


The rice paper wrappers are dried so get out a big bowl that can fit the thin rice paper and fill the bowl with warm water. Dip and completely submerge the rice paper into the warm water and then take it out immediately and put it on a plate.


Place the lettuce and mint in the middle.


Next add some pickled daikon, carrots, and cucumber.


Add in your tofu and jicama (or Asian pear).


Start rolling the wrap from the edge closest to you.


The final product is quick and easy to make without sacrificing taste.  Dip the roll into the sauce and enjoy!

Getting into a Bad Car Accident

photoToday I got into a bad car accident. As you can see from the picture, the driver’s side door is completely smashed along with some car frame damage. Oh, there’s also a piece of metal about to fall off the bottom of my car too. As for myself, my knee is hurt from the door banging against it. My neck, back, and shoulder has pain from the whiplash. The other driver did not experience any injuries and had negligible damage on his front bumper.

So how did this all happen?  I feel like it’s a lot of bad luck.  The second accident this year for me and both times I’m on the receiving end of the damage.  Anyways, I was parallel parked on the curb in a residential area.  It was a tight spot for sure.  I looked in the rear view mirror and the coast was clear.  I started to turn left to pull out but didn’t have enough space.  At this point, my car was visibly pulling out.  Any driver on the road would be able to see it.  I reversed to create more space and turned left to pull out.  Wham, my car get t-boned.  How does this much damage come from another car if the speed limit here is only 25 mph?  I figured the other driver must have been driving close to 40 mph.  I’m actually lucky to be alive.  At this point, everything was a big blur and I couldn’t move for like 10 minutes from the pain and shock.  Then some nice guys at a company across the street tried to help me out of the car.  Of course, it was not possible since the door was completely smashed shut.  After getting out of shock, I managed to wiggle to the other side of the door and get out.  Someone called 911 and the fire department and police arrived.  The fire department asked if I needed to go to the hospital.  I was hurt but I didn’t think I was critically injured.  So they called off the ambulances. Some of the guys got me some cleansing wipes and bandages for the blood on my hands.  They got cut from the shattered glass.  The police took statements from the other driver and me.  We exchanged contact information, but neither of us were cited for any traffic violations. So who’s at fault for this accident?  Normally, the other driver has the right of way.  However, I clearly pulled out already while he was still far away.  Had I pulled out at the last second, he would have hit me closer to the front of the wheel instead of square in the middle of the car.  Also, if he wasn’t speeding, he could have easily stopped before hitting my car.  I’m just hoping to recover right now.  I called my car insurance company and filed a claim.  They will determine the liability for each driver. Everyone be careful out there especially during the holiday season some places have slick roads.  Accidents can happen at any time.

Journey to Guatemala: Understanding Chronic Malnutrition


It is encouraging that infant mortality rates across the globe have decreased in the past 30 years, but for those babies who are starved, physicians and other health care providers caution that malnutrition results in health issues which last a life time.

In North and South America, the nation which has the most malnutrition is Guatamala. There, approximately 55 percent of children are so undernourished that their growth is permanently damaged. Both physically and developmentally, too, they are far under what other children of comparable age are like, and the effects of stunted growth stays with them forever. Right now, Guatamala is trying to reduce that awful statistic with a coordinated nutrition program.

To give an idea of what goes on in Guatamala, look at the “average” household. Mid-day, a Guatamalan mother named Christina cooks dinner with beans–the staple of that nation’s diet. She has no meat and no vegetables to give to her children, and the beans have very few of the appropriate vitamins, minerals and other nutrients which growing youngsters need for proper growth.

Estimates show that about 8 out of 10 children in Guatamala are stunted in their growth. Christina sees that her eldest 3 children have not grown well, but she wishes for better with her youngest daughter, Lupe, who is a year old. Some people do think that families may fare better nutritionally in the days to come–in other words, that the future is brighter for these young families.


I made the journey to Guatamala to meet Christina where she and her family dwell close to the town of Chinautla. Christina is mother to 5 children, and they age in range from 6 to 13. Lupe is 1 year old. I was very surprised to see the difference in height between Christina and me.

Up until recently, people felt that Mayans were just short people in comparison to individuals of other ethnicities. People of the Mayan highlands see that they are all of similar height, and the prevailing opinion is that the height must be genetic.

However, while genetics may play some role in how these people look as adults, the height deviations in Guatamalan children really begin just months into their lives. The babies are trending toward stunted growth very early on. As a mother, Christina understands that the growth problem is still a very real and present danger to her baby, Lupe. As such, she takes Lupe to a health center every 4 weeks so she can be weighed and charted accurately.


The health center, run by the humanitarian group called Mayan Families, concentrates on small children within the first 1,000 days of their lives. Data shows that the time between a pregnancy and a child’s second birthday is critical to the development of the brain and to growth of the body. Development, which should be accelerating, actually slows down when children are malnourished and not getting the right nutrients in the correct quantities. It is practically impossible for the physical losses to be remediated even when nutrition improves later on.

Many research findings demonstrate that chronic malnutrition affects how well a child grows and develops. In addition, poor nutrition adversely affects IQ and increases the chances for the individual to develop diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems and anemia later in adult life.


Today, the local health care providers have learned that baby Lupe is not trending toward the proper height and weight for a child of her age. She is far too little. Her family members participate in counselling designed to educate them on how important good nutrition is to the development of a young child. They hear about how important fish, vegetables and meat are to the daily diet.

guatemalan-1children341Mayan Families has a limited amount of monies available to assist local families in getting their own chickens so they can have eggs and in obtaining goats for milk. Other people get small quantities of food right from the government in Guatamala. To date, baby Lupe’s family has not gotten any government food or assistance. When the family starts the uphill journey back home, they take with them some rice, beans and oil which are provided by the United States Agency for International Development.

Director of Mayan Families in Guatamala, Jose Mendes, states that the problem of reaching all the local families who need nutritional support is a big one. It will take a large shift in the structure of the country. While Guatamala has the biggest Gross Domestic Product or GDP in all of Central America, its indicators of widespread and chronic poor nutrition are by far the worse in that region. What are the reasons for that staggering discrepancy?




The variables that play into the malnutrition problem in Guatamala are complex. Economic structure and poverty comprise only part of the situation. In the midst of this complex, and puzzling situation, is the agricultural output of Guatamala. The farming areas in the country are prolific–literally brimming with vegetables, but very few of them actually end up on the dinner tables of local families.

For instance, we stood in this beautiful, green and growing valley. Lettuce, green beans and cabbage were literally everywhere. How is it that there is so much fresh food and so many kids who are malnourished? This is a strange and very sad paradox. It begs the question, “Where is all this outstanding produce going if it is not in the hands of the locals?”

The answer is that the farmers do harvest their produce, but hardly any of it stays right where it has been grown. Instead, the vegetables will be trucked away and exported to markets in Central America, Europe and the United States.

Consider this situation. Sofia Romero has a 4-month-old daughter named Camila. She has little Camila on her back while she toils at weeding pea fields by hand. When Sofia was asked if she would use some of the peas for her breast-fed baby, she said that her preference is beans and corn–not the peas she was weeding so laboriously.

The problem of malnutrition really is deeply rooted. Many people think the answer lies with the government in the nation’s capital. The president of Guatamala has begun an initiative to combat malnutrition in the native children and to reduce it by 10 percent over the next few years.

The president feels it is important to spend more money on health care, particularly for children during the first 1,000 days of their lives. Also, he wants more emphasis placed on nutrition education.

Now, in Guatamala City it seems that there is a growing awareness of the malnutrition problem. This awareness has developed just over the past couple of years. Still, in the midst of a bustling city, it is hard to realize that such a huge problem as child malnutrition exists close by.

In effect, there are 2 Guatamalas. The upside of the issue is that the zero hunger program, combined with an increasing awareness of the problem, is bringing the 2 Guatamalas together.

Some people think that the poverty in Guatamala is so big and far-reaching that it stands in the way of solving the malnutrition issue. While the economic and cultural discrepancies are important, the real solution may lie in sensible interventions which have a real track record in combating malnutrition. With less malnutrition, poverty will diminish.

A really great part of this war on malnutrition happened when scores of government officials and leaders in the business community actually stayed in the homes of poor people in the countryside. These prominent individuals still talk about the experience when they meet at Alvaro Castillo’s company in Guatamala City.

These individuals say that there is a real vested interest for the business community. Malnutrition costs the country of Guatamala many millions of dollars in medical care costs, academic difficulties and losses in labor productivity. How could any nation be competitive on the global scene if its population staggers under the burden of malnutrition that begins when the youngest members of society are born? Truly, something must be done.

As such, many individuals wish to keep pressuring the government of Guatamala. No matter what the name of the program to combat it, malnutrition is a problem that requires attention from people in all walks of life in the country. Everyone needs to make a solid commitment to change the situation.

However, even if big change does happen, it will not be soon enough for little Lupe and her mom, Christina. While Christina understands what she needs to properly feed her baby–chicken, fresh vegetables, milk–she does not have the resources to do so. Beans and local herbs are the best she can do.

Go online, and learn all you can about child mortality on a global scale. Read about the nation of Guatamala and the efforts there to educate people on the important issue of child malnutrition.

Chocolate Pudding Pie with Whipped Cream

One of my favorite desserts is pie. I love pie. I admit it. Who doesn’t love them? I grew up with my mom in the kitchen baking all sorts of pies: apple, cherry, rhubarb, etc. The smell was so intoxicating and waiting was always the hardest part. Another person, actually persons, that love pie even more than me are Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. They are vegan pie experts and they are releasing the book Vegan Pie in the Sky. Available in Kindle or paperback, the book is all about pie. If you love eating pie and want to experiment in making your very own vegan pie, this is the cookbook for you. It starts with the fundamentals of pie making including how to make different types of crust along with the recipes themselves. The book has classic pie recipes for all occasions made without animal products. Some pie recipes include blueberry, cherry, chocolate peanut butter, pecan caramel, and pumpkin cheesecake.

Who wants some of that? Um I do!

This book puts me in pie making mood.

Let’s get started.

choco pudding pie

Chocolate Pudding Pie with Whipped Coconut Cream Recipe (Serving Size 8)


  • 1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted coconut oil


  • 1/3 cup muscovado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups plain soy milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping (OPTIONAL):

  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Making the Pie

Crust  – First thing to do is to preheat the oven to 350°F and then place rack in middle of the oven where it gets the most heat. Next comes the prep work. Mix the graham cracker crumbs and muscovado sugar in the processor. Then add the melted coconut oil. Mix until all three ingredients are thoroughly blended together. After that, pour the mixture on the pie dish and press it onto the bottom and sides. You want to bake the crust until it looks and feels set in place. Take the crust out and let it stand for a couple of minutes.

FILLING – Gather and place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix it well. Drop the mixture into a sauce pan and slowly add 1/3 cup plain soy milk. Whisk everything until it becomes smooth. Add in the rest of the soy milk and whisk, then add 1/4 coconut milk. Using a wood spoon, mix consistently over medium heat. Be sure to scrape all surface areas of the sauce pan until the pudding begins to thicken and the edges bubbles, which takes about 5 minutes. Now,  add the chocolate; mix until smooth. Remove the sauce pan; stir in vanilla extract. Pour the pudding onto the crust and carefully spread. At room temperature, cooling the pie takes about one hour. Lastly, use some plastic seran wrap to cover the pie and chill overnight. The flavors are much better after they have a chance to settle.

TOPPING (OPTIONAL) – Use an electric mixer to beat the coconut milk, muscovado sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl until peaks form. The topping should be thick enough to spread. Adding the topping is optional but makes the pie look so good.

Putting a Twist on Lunch: Tofu Dippers

Having the same packed lunch for your kids can be boring not only to them also to me as well. What’s the most common things parents pack for their kids lunch? Probably peanut butter and jelly sandwich plus some carrot and celery sticks and a juice drink. It’s good for kids to have options and explore different types of foods. Don’t let them get bored with the same old stuff. I’ve done sandwiches and some wraps with some delicious dipping sauce. Watch out, it can easily spill over in a lunch box. The teachers won’t be too happy about that one.


Delicious Tofu Dippers Recipe

  • 1 lb firm tofu
  • 12 tbs soy sauce
  • 8 tbs ginger
  • 3 limes
  • 3 tbs sriracha chili paste
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil

Press tofu for as long as possible, using a tofu press.

It’s best to leave it overnight pressed like this to get it good and firm.

Slice tofu into nice small cubes about an 1 to 1.5 inches.

Dice the ginger finely and squeeze the juice of all 3 limes.

In a big bowl, mix together the soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, sriracha chili paste, and olive oil.

Put the tofu in and coat them well. I make sure to let the tofu swim in the marinade until all sides are completely covered and soaked. It’s better to marinate the tofu for a long time. The longer it is, the deeper the flavor. I suggest leaving them in the refrigerator overnight.

No doubt this is a recipe that requires some preparation. If you love tofu like I do, store some in the refrigerator pressed. This takes some effort but it is worth it. Once the tofu is properly marinated, preheat the oven with broiler setting to 350 degrees. Spray some olive oil on a baking pan and spread the tofu out evenly.


Make sure to place the baking pan toward the bottom of the oven. This is to ensure that the tofu is crisp but doesn’t burn. Broil one side for 5 minutes or until golden brown. After that, take the pan out and flip the tofu on the other side and broil for another 5 minutes. Once their done cooking, no one can eat just one!


The final result is something delicious, chewy, flavorful, and healthy. While you can eat them plain, its even better with a dipping sauce.

Some dipping suggestions:
Mmmm sauce
Almond Ginger Sauce

Noodle Salad with Peanut Mmmm Sauce

I have fond memories of eating Chinese food when I was young. Our family had a favorite Chinese restaurant not too far from where we lived. On the outside, there was nothing special about it. Inside was different. It was always hustle and bustle. There were lots of people enjoying the food and it was a lively atmosphere. I caught glimpses of the kitchen and the powerful fire of the wok cooking everything to perfection. Everything was good here. My sibling and I would run around playing tag and of course our parents would yell at us. It was fun nonetheless. Even after many years, little has changed. The food here is still top notch.

Today the memories of Chinese food has inspired me to think about making some Chinese noodles. Something delicious yet simple to make. While dining out is convenient, my version is cheaper, healthier, and vegan.


Noodle Salad with Peanut Mmmm Sauce Recipe

Noodle Salad:

  • 12 oz. noodles
  • 1 cup red pepper
  • 1/4 c. scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 c. sesame
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes

Peanut Mmmm Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup of almond flour
  • 1/4 cup of filtered water
  • 1/4 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried cilantro

The sauce is easy to make. Just put all the ingredients into a blender and mix until it is nice and smooth.

For the noodles, heat water until it is boiling. Put the noodles in and cook for the directed amount of time. Try the noodles after 3 minutes of boiling and every minute after until you are satisfied with the amount of chew.. Some people like their noodles more al dente. Rinse noodle over cold water to stop the cooking. Place the noodles in a strainer.

Turn on medium heat and put the red peppers, scallions, sesame, and dried chili flakes into a sauce pan. Stir fry until everything is cooked and maybe even a little burned for that charred flavor.

At this point, put the drained noodles into the sauce pan and stir everything together.

Next add the peanut mmmm sauce and mix again.

This dish can be eaten immediately and is also good chilled in the refrigerator.

I like these noodles a lot. There’s the wonderful colors and nice textures, not to mention it is a simple and cheap meal.

Wannabe Yummy Sauce Recipe

Have you ever ate a sauce so good that you want to pour it on everything? That is how I feel about Cafe Yumm’s delicious sauce.  Cafe Yumm is a mostly vegetarian casual restaurant located in Eugene, Oregon founded by Mark and Mary Ann Beauchamp. I never heard of them before, but my friends keep raving about how good this bean sauce is on everything.  I finally tried it myself and was blow away by the incredible flavors.  It’s rich and creamy with a bit of tang.  Not to mention, the umami flavors.  As for its nutrition, it’s on par with hummus but with more protein and vitamin b. It’s pretty much the restaurant’s calling card.  So much so that, they even sell a commercial bottle of their sauce in grocery stores within the Pacific Northwest.  While that’s convenient, why buy when you can make it yourself.  Besides, I prefer to know what’s in my food when I’m cooking at home.


The Yummy Sauce Recipe was inspired by Cafe Yumm! and this recipe.

Makes 1 1/2 cup


  • 1/4 cup of sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup of almond flour
  • 1/4 cup of filtered water
  • 1/4 cup of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried cilantro
  • dash of cumin


  • Food Processor
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups


  • Step 1 – Add the sunflower oil, almond flour, chickpeas, water, and lemon juice into the food processor. Blend all the wet ingredients until everything is well incorporated.
  • Step 2 – Add cumin, curry powder, oregano, cilantro, and nutritional yeast and blend for a couple of minutes or until the entire mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Step 3 - The sauce is ready to be devoured.  However, if you can resist the temptation, the sauce will be even better if you put it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.  For even better results, let it sit overnight.  This lets all the flavors to really sink in and blend together.  For leftover sauce, keep covered in the refrigerator. It lasts for 7-10 days. The portion size of this recipe can easily be increased or decreased, just double or half the amount of ingredients.

That’s pretty simple right? The number uses for this sauce is endless. You can spread it on a gyro, put it on top of a salad, add a bit to your soup, even straight up take a sip, or whatever you like. I know many of you will want to throw this sauce on everything.  Trust me I did that too, but don’t get too crazy with eating too much.  It’s healthy but it still has a bit of calories and fat. One of my personal favorites is to eat this awesome sauce with the original “yumm bowl” that includes black beans, avocado, jasmine rice, tomatoes, avocado, olives and cilantro. Give it a go and let me know how it goes.


Having a Ball

Not all days are going to be good.  Today is one of those days.


A lot of things can and do go wrong.

I woke up today and broke my favorite cereal bowl before breakfast even began.

I drove 5 miles today and got a 3 inch nail stuck in new tires that I bought.

I got to work 2 hours late getting my tires replaced.


Everyone has days like this.  The good thing is that most other days are great.  And there’s nothing better than the comforts of making and eating peanut butter dough balls.  It’s soft, sweet, and gooey peanut butter goodness. I should be guilty eating this stuff, but I don’t.


I’ve been researching different pb cookie dough ball recipes online, from friends and family, and in cookbooks.  Trust me there are too many recipes to count.  I’ve tried a bunch of them.  Through tweaking and testing with different test batches, I’ve made it my own.  I think I’ve stumbled onto something good and I’m sticking with it.


Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls Recipe

The incredible sweet and creamy taste of peanut butter and chocolate chips combined in cookie dough.
Serves: Makes 16 to 20 PB and Chocolate Chip Dough Balls
  • 6 tablespoons Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Recipe Instructions
  • In a mixing bowl, put the sugar, butter, and peanut butter together, mix on high speed for 4 minutes, or until the mixture is nice and fluffy.
  • Next, mix in salt and vanilla, continue mixing until these two ingredients are evenly incorporated
  • After that, use your kitchen mixer with the setting on low and slowly begin to add flour, two tablespoon at a time, and mixing until the flour is thoroughly combined.
  • At this point, it is time to add in those delicious chocolate chips in the mixer and and continue mixing
  • After incorporating chocolate chips, take the dough out and form 1 to 1.5 inch diameter balls by rolling the mixture in the palms of your hands
  • You can serve these right away or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to about a week
  • The other alternative is freezing the dough balls and this can last for up to 3 months

Take the time to share this wonderful recipe with someone you love.  They will thank you for it!

Love in a Cup

Admit it. You love Libby’s Pumpkin too. It’s a staple food for our family. Libby’s been rocking their canned all natural pumpkin for the past 75 years and still going strong. Pumpkin has tons of antioxidant Beta-Carotene, fiber, and it’s low in fat. Did I mention it tastes awesome as well? There’s so many ways to use this pumpkin in desserts as well as for meals. It is truly a versatile ingredient at home.


I am sure that I am not the only one searching for this stuff obsessively in all the local grocery stores within 35 mile radius looking for the real deal. The thick, lush orange creamy pumpkin is like nothing else. There can only be one! My kids love it. The canned pumpkin below is such an imposter.


It’s great that you are organic. And another thing you got going for you is that you live at WholeFoods (I wan to live there too). However, you are not America’s favorite pumpkin.

Since its cold and rainy, I am craving pumpkin and thought I would make some Pumpkin Cafe Latte. Unfortunately, America’s favorite coffee chain, Starbucks’ pumpkin latte is not vegan nor is it cheap. I’m both, so let’s work on a substitute that’s as good as the real thing.


Pumpkin Cafe Latte Recipe

  • 1 cup non-diary milk
  • 2 tablespoons Libby’s pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon muscovado sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup hot strongly brewed coffee

To make the coffee, it is best to grind some fresh coffee beans. It tastes so much better that way. The next best thing is packaged coffee that is already ground up. I guess if you don’t have that, use instant coffee, but once you have fresh ground coffee, you won’t go back. Trust me on this.

Set your grinder to course bean setting and grind. After that, put the ground coffee beans into the french press.


Boil water and put a cup of water into the french press. Wait 7 minutes for the hot water to soak with the beans.

A few minutes before our coffee is ready, put the non-diary milk, pumpkin, muscovado sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla into a large pot and cook it on medium heat until it boils. Next, put the mixture into a blender. Blend vigorously until the milk mixture is foamy, which is around 30 seconds. Then, press down on the press and pour the coffee into a large cup and add the foamed milk mixture.

Everyone Wins

Perhaps I’ve watched too many Italian cooking shows. Some days I have such a big craving for Italian food, specifically lasagna. Nothing beats a good piece of lasagna with my favorite type of squash – zucchini. It’s mellow and sweet flavors goes well with the tangy taste of tomato sauce.


Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna

Serves 4 to 6 people

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup of red onions
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup of fresh basil
  • 1/8 cup of fresh parsley
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 jar organic marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup of organic mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of organic ricotta cheese



Wash and finely mince the red onions.  I like to use red onions instead of white to give it an extra sweetness that offsets the tang of the tomato sauce.


Wash the zucchini and pat them dry. Then thinly slice the zucchini into a quarter inch strips. I like to keep the skin because that’s where a lot of the nutrition is at. Try to get 12 equal slices per zucchini. Place the zucchini strips onto a paper towel and sprinkle some salt on top.  While remove the excess moisture from the zucchini, let’s get to work on the quinoa.  But before we do that, let’s preheat the oven to 400 degrees so by the time the prep work is done, we can bake this baby.


Carefully wash the quinoa and drain the excess water.  Put the quinoa, veggie broth, tomato sauce, red onions, and dried oregano into a pot and bring into a boil. Once that happens, cover the pot with a lid and turn down the heat.  Simmer the mixture for 25 minutes.  You will know when its done since the quinoa will have absorbed all the tomato sauce and vegetable broth. Add in the ricotta, basil, and parsley.  Carefully fold in these ingredients until everything is mixed completely.  Add in salt and pepper to taste.

Now take a pan and cover it completely with the marinara sauce.  Use a dry paper towel to pat dry any moisture from the zucchini.  Take 4 slices and place them across the sauce on top. Put the quinoa mixture on top of the zucchini, making sure it covers them.  Use more marinara sauce to cover the quinoa and repeat with another layer of zucchini, quinoa, and sauce.  Finally top it off with mozzarella.  Now it’s ready for the oven.  Bake for half an hour until the zucchini is cooked and everything is heated thoroughly. Sprinkle some parsley on top for presentation.

I worry that the zucchini quinoa lasagna was going to be too liquidity but it turned out really well.  It was quite delicious.