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Lentil Ambrosia Soup

“Lentils are friendly—the Miss Congeniality of the bean world.”
~ Laurie Colwin, American Fiction Writer

Lentil Ambrosia

My confession: I hate peas in a soup! Hate ’em! But, oddly enough, I absolutely love lentils in a soup! Love ’em! The whys and hows are a very long story indeed. But, suffice it to say that when I think hearty and I think vegetable soup, I inevitably think lentils. Gotta have ’em!

To the ancient Greeks, ambrosia was the food or drink of the gods, something that had a lovely scent or flavor an which, when ingested, conveyed immortality. Lentils, with 26% protein, loads of B vitamins, folate and two essential amino acids, will certainly power you up and, when combined with other vegetables, give you the necessary building blocks for a longer and healthier life. The additional herbs and spices in this soup give a most heavenly scent that will tantalize your nose with delight.

As with many of my recipes, I start out with something that is either take-out from a restaurant or a packaged product from the grocery store, and then seek to replicate it with wholesome, healthier ingredients at home. This Lentil Ambrosia Soup recipe was inspired by Amy’s Organic Lentil Soup which, at over $3.00 a can, is somewhat less than economical. Made at home, it is ridiculously economical for how tasty and filling it is. :-)

    Lentil Ambrosia Soup
    Makes: 4-6 servings
    Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
    Cooking Time: 45 minutes

    1.5 – 1.75 cups black or brown lentils
    .5 cup chunked or cubed tomatoes
    4-6 cups vegetable broth
    1 cup warm water
    half of a celery stalk, diced
    1 medium carrot, thinly sliced in rounds
    1 medium onion, diced finely
    1 small potato, diced or cubed small
    .5 of a zucchini, diced
    1 tbs nutritional yeast
    1 bay leaf
    .25 tsp cumin
    .25 tsp turmeric
    .25 tsp basil
    .25 tsp thyme
    .12 (1/8) tsp curry
    12 (1/8) tsp black pepper
    pinch of chili powder
    * salt to taste
    * extra water or broth as needed


    1. Chop all veggies and measure out all spices.

    2. Mix the nutritional yeast into the cup of warm water until dissolved.

    3. Bring that water, the bay leaf and 4 cups of vegetable broth to a low boil.

    4. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer for 7 minutes.

    5. Add the lentils and reduce heat.

    6. Simmer for 10 minutes.

    7. Add all spices and the remainder of the vegetables, except the zucchini.

    8. Simmer for 20 minutes on low. Stirring occasionally.

    9. Add zucchini, checking to see if more liquid (e.g. water or vegetable broth) is needed. Add as needed.

    10. Simmer 10 minutes or until you deem it done.

    11. Re-season to taste and serve.

I fell in love with this video when I saw it on Facebook. Just wanted to share it with all of you.

Baby Sloths…the cutest vegetarians you’ll ever see!

Meet the sloths from Amphibian Avenger on Vimeo.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
~ Charles M. Schultz, Cartoonist & “Charlie Brown” Creator

Banana Choco-Chip Cookies

Who doesn’t love sweets? Well, okay, maybe someone out there doesn’t…but that someone is definitely NOT me. In fact if it is anything baked, be it savory or sweet, I simply cannot say no to at least one little nibble.

With these cookies being free from eggs, milk and butter, you can enjoy much more than a little nibble and still feel guiltless. They come out chewy and sweet, and even folks who may dislike bananas seem to really like them.

While on vacation in Guatemala recently, my fiancé and I found a little natural foods market near Lake Atitlan which carried all kinds of lovely vegan necessities. (Totally surprising, for Guatemala.) And the greatest thing wasn’t their fresh juice bar, which was groovy, but it was their vegan baked yummies! Delicious!

And that, my friends, was my first foray into using bananas to replace eggs and milk in your cookie recipes.

Inspired by some friends who love chocolate more than anything, I have created these double chocolate cookies with both chips and cocoa (cacao) powder.

You’ll want to make a double batch, trust me!

    Vegan Banana Choco-Chip Cookies
    Makes: 12-15 cookies
    Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
    Oven Temp: 350° F
    Cooking Time: 10-14 minutes

    1.25 cups of flour
    .5 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    .5 tsp salt
    .75 cup brown sugar
    .25 cup cocoa powder
    pinch cinnamon
    pinch nutmeg
    1.5 cups vegan chocolate chips
    2 overripe bananas, mashed
    2 tbs applesauce or peanut butter
    1 tsp olive oil
    1.25 tsp vanilla extract
    * .25 cup soymilk


    1. Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

    2. Add wet, or sticky, ingredients and mix or cut in with a spoon or pastry cutter.

    3. Use your hands to work everything together really well.

    4. Check the consistency of the dough and add a bit of extra flour or some soymilk to adjust.

    5. Place on a greased cookie sheet in lumps or little balls.

    6. Cook at 350° F for 10 to 14 minutes. Remove when slightly browned at the edges.

    7. Cool for 10 minutes.

    Now sit back with some yummy vanilla rice milk and enjoy, Enjoy, ENJOY!!! :-)

“This blessed Earth has given us many wonderful foods. I believe our trust is best placed in foods the way Nature intends, not in products concocted in laboratories by multinational corporations trying to exploit the vegetarian market. ”
~ John Robbins, Author The Food Revolution & Healthy at 100

Healthy Vegetarian

Rarely do I choose to write here about the actual mechanics of vegetarianism, mostly because I don’t like labels and definitions and because I figure that people can work things out for themselves. But my own journey through the process of adopting healthy living, along with my recent readings on the subject and the varied experiences of my friends who have tried vegetarianism has led me to break my silence.

Countless studies, carried out by the most prestigious universities and hospitals around the world, including Harvard, Yale, MIT, Cambridge, Cornell, The Cleveland Clinic and others, have determined that a vegetarian or vegan diet is the most health-promoting, illness-preventing and even sickness-healing diet that humans can exist on. For more on this, read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Healthy at 100 by John Robbins, I assure you that your reading time will not be wasted.

Now, that all being said, it must be noted that these studies are testing and making their claims about healthy vegetarianism, not junk-food vegetarianism. But what do you mean? How can vegetarians be unhealthy?

Well, the answer comes in two words: processed foods.

Admittedly, if you are a vegan, you are automatically less likely to eat junk foods because they often contain a plethora of non-vegan ingredients.

But, especially for people in the process of transitioning from the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, the benefits posed by “products” in the vegetarian section of your grocery often outweigh their inherently processed nature. These foods allow us to move into a vegetarian lifestyle without feeling so deprived that we throw up our hands and return to full-blown meat-eating.

The problems come when we begin to rely on these products as our main source of food, and we keep eating them well into our adoption of the new vegetarian lifestyle. A healthy vegetarian lifestyle is comprised of lots of fresh vegetables, whole grains, fruits, seeds and nuts. If you are vegetarian you may also insert small portions of eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese. (I am a vegetarian who doesn’t eat dairy, but I do eat eggs.) Does what I’m saying here mean that you can’t have faux-meat products, or cake or pasta? No. What is does mean is that the BULK of what you eat should be coming from whole foods, whole grains and fresh fruit and veg.

If you fall into a pattern where you are eating large amounts of cake, pasta, breads and processed foods, than I am sorry to tell you that you are not eating a healthy diet, despite your avoidance of meat, and will likely pay for it with decreased energy, excess weight and long-term health effects. To truly reap the short-term and long-term benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, you need to be eating a diet comprised at least 90% of whole foods, not processed ones.

Contrary to popular opinion, it has been proven by high-quality science that vegetarians and vegans who eat a whole foods, vegetable rich diet do not need added iron or protein supplements, and may only occasionally need a B12 supplement. But, people eating more mainstream diets tend to need supplementation on essential nutrients while having an overage of nutrients that our body can make on it’s own, thus leading to a feeling of unwellness, an imbalanced immune system, food allergies and greater health problems.

The healthiest peoples on this planet eat 10% or less of their diets as protein, while Americans tend to eat ridiculously more, 2-3 times as much. If we, as vegetarians, consume lots of eggs, dairy and “fortified” foods we may still not be eating a healthy range of proteins and nutrients. The bad news is that when we eat more proteins than the body needs, we have a higher likelihood of heart disease, cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. The good news is that this is only true of proteins derived from animal sources. We can overeat on plant proteins all that we want and the adverse effects never appear. Ideally, only 1% of your diet should be comprised of animal-based proteins, and 4-9% of plant-based proteins.

Processed foods tend to have animal products in them, ie. eggs, butter and milk, in much more frequency than we would tend to use in home-cooking. This makes controlling your intake of animal-based proteins much more difficult and monitoring the quality of those animal products virtually impossible. (Not to mention the prevalence of unlabeled genetically modified and chemically modified ingredients in these foods.)

For myself I choose to be a Mindfultarian, I remain mindful of the nature of my foods and don’t shun, but simply choose to minimize, my ingestion of non-organic vegetables, overly processed products and dairy and produce that have come from nameless, faceless farms thousands of miles away rather than family farms in my own back yard.

I will proudly say that I have used vegetarian products to help me transition to, and remain faithful to, a vegetarian diet. I believe that being able to enjoy something which looks and/or tastes like an old favorite food can be just the emotional/psychological boost that new vegetarians (and even long-time ones) need from time-to-time. That is why you will find some “faux” products in a few of my recipes, I have a special knack for “recreating” S.A.D. foods using vegetarian ingredients and I do take requests from friends and family.

But, what I do not advocate is feeding yourself, or your children, on these “products” too frequently. Make whole foods your main source of nutrition and processed foods your occasional special treats. Keep your occasional moments down to one or two a month and your health will reap all the fantastic benefits of being a vegetarian.

I know that people, especially young people, who become vegetarians are often existing in a bubble, meaning that they are the only vegetarian that they know and therefore have no support. I know that many people, including adults, that are new to vegetarianism have very little, or even no, experience with cooking beyond heating up a frozen dinner or paying the delivery guy. In these cases vegetarian “products” can be a god-send.

But, for your health and that of the planet, after you get more comfortable, and have read a bit more about nutrition…in short, after you have decided that vegetarianism is for you, I urge you to be brave enough to experiment with new recipes that use only whole foods. Get to know your pots and pans and your spice rack. Check out free vegetarian cooking videos on YouTube and buy a couple of core cookbooks. Visit an ethnic market or restaurant for inspiration. What you will discover is that there is a whole world of scrumptious and healthy food out there which you never knew existed.

Beginning Vegetarian Reading List

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”
~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Vegetarian Brain Food

There are multitudes of books out there on vegetarianism and veganism. Some are aimed at converting you to vegetarianism and some are aimed at educating those who have already chosen vegetarianism. Some of the books listed below are more about food quality than actual vegetarianism, but all contain information that I think is valuable for ANYONE who wants to get healthier and eat more natural. I will add to this list as I come across more gems that I fall in love with. *Namaste.*


Food Revolution

Healthy at 100

The China Study

The Great American Detox Diet

Fast Food Nation

We Want Real Food

Skinny Bitch

Healing Foods (DK Living)

DVD: Supersize Me

Video: Food Matters


Note: Some of these books are easier to get in the UK than the US. But, using out-of-print sites like and Alibris, you should be able to find a copy. ;-)

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