Brown rice fusilli with asparagus tips, English peas and pesto (gf + v)

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I hope you are well and that your week is off to a good start. Here’s a quick n’ easy pasta dish that is sure to be a hit even with pickier eaters! Simple enough for a weeknight dinner but elegant enough for a festive meal, It features my homemade vegan pesto which is super-versatile and can easily be made up to about a week in advance (keep in fridge), or longer if you freeze it. Fully of bright green, springy veggies and the wonderful herbal scent of basil, it won’t weigh you down the way that some greasy pesto dishes do. I use brown rice pasta but there’s no reason you couldn’t use regular or whole wheat if you prefer. Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 if it’s a side.

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Honey orange cake (gf + dairy free)

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Honey cake is a traditional dessert served on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), along with other sweet foods, served to symbolize our hopes and wishes for a sweet new year. My version is loosely adapted from the Joy of Cooking’s wonderful vegan ultra-orange cake recipe. The cake batter rises due to the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar, just like that science fair volcano experiment you did ages ago in elementary school! And, here’s the best part: because there are no eggs in this recipe, you can taste the delicious batter to your heart’s content without worrying about salmonella! This recipe will give you get a nice moist cake with a rich and complex honey-orange-vanilla flavor, not too sweet but very satisfying. Using fresh oranges for their zest and juice is an absolute must for this recipe. I like topping these cakes with sliced almonds but feel free to get creative 🙂 Makes two 8-inch round cakes (or one thicker cake in a 9 x 13″ pan). Best served still warm from the oven.

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Simple white bean salad with fresh herbs (gf + v)

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At my new place, I finally have a little outdoor space and can actually grow fresh herbs – so exciting! (I have grown fresh basil indoors in sunny windows in the past, but it’s not the same…) – so now I have a little potted basil plant as well as fresh parsley and thyme growing on my balcony, all which feature in this recipe. This is a quick and super tasty salad you can throw together in just a few minutes to complement any number of wonderful Mediterranean-themed meals. Definitely an upgrade from those soggy canned three-bean salads of yesteryear.

I try to always keep a can of cannelini (white kidney) beans in the pantry because they are so versatile and recipe-friendly. Though hearty and filling, their flavor is very mild and unassuming, but this salad is quite lively thanks to a variety of aromatic fresh herbs and a little bit of purple onion for bite. Serves 2-3, but can easily be scaled up for larger crowds. Can be made 1 day ahead and pre-chilled, and will keep 1-2 days in the fridge.

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Oatmeal-chia seed breakfast bake with stone fruit (gf + dairy free)

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The farmer’s market this weekend was full of gorgeous stone fruit, and the sun actually came out – summer is finally on its way! Here is a great way to capture those wonderful summer flavors and make sure you have a delicious, healthy breakfast even if you need to eat on the go. You can prepare a large batch, slice and pack up to enjoy it all week long, but you may end up making quite a big dent in it when you are seduced by its delicious cinnamony smell hot out of the oven. This simple combination of high-fiber filling oats and chia seeds, lovely ripe plums/peaches/apricots or whatever other nice fruit you have on hand, and a simple cinnamony batter will put a smile on your face and power you through busy work mornings. This will become a staple recipe, and there are so many potential delicious variations: add or sub in berries, apples/pears in the fall, frozen or dried fruits in the winter – it is really a recipe you can use all year long! (Hint: think beyond breakfast! this yummy treat also makes a healthy dessert…and yes, I know what you are thinking – you have my blessing to serve it with whipped cream or a la mode 😉

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Ridiculously simple curry sweet potato soup (gf + v)

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The weather here in the Bay Area has been so gloomy that I’ve been having to remind myself it’s almost June! Well, nothing goes goes better with cold gray weather than hot soup, so here is a recent one I came up with that is incredibly flavorful and so easy to make (in this one-pot recipe, the boiling water becomes the basis for the broth so you don’t have to waste water while California is plagued with a drought!). The curry gives it a little bit of heat and the coconut milk adds a light creaminess. Makes about 4 servings.

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No-bake lemon cheesecake bars (gf + v)

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What to do when life gives you lots of [gorgeous, fragrant, yellow] lemons? Well, besides lemonade, I had to think of something… After studying lots of classic baked lemon bar recipes and not feeling inspired, I ventured into the raw realm, but those recipes were also missing something. I wanted something…light, creamy, lemony but not too sweet, and healthy too. So after some experimentation, I present to you this lovely springy/summery dessert. You don’t even have to turn the oven on. And the flavor is so rich and creamy, you won’t believe they’re vegan!

Makes one 11 x 7 small pan worth (about 8 servings). You will need a high powered blender to get the optimal filling texture, but it can all be done in a food processor if you don’t mind a little bit of graininess from the coconut. Adapted from The Organic Dietitian.

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Caramelized onion focaccia (dairy and gluten free!)

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This recipe was inspired by some gorgeous purple onions (complete with lovely green leaves) that I found at the farmer’s market. There are few things that make your kitchen smell more mouth-wateringly delicious than onions caramelizing on the stove, and I think I have found one of them: the smell of fresh bread baking WITH caramelized onions on top of it! I have great news for you: this is one recipe where you will definitely not miss the gluten at all – this easily rivals any regular focaccia I have had. It takes a little bit of advance planning so the dough can rise, but this recipe is overall pretty easy and very well worth the impressive and delectable result. The trick to a very fluffy dough is the use of both yeast AND vinegar + baking soda for double rising power.

Makes one 9×13″ dish of focaccia (at least 4 servings). Recipe adapted from GreatBritishChefs.com. 

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