White Bean Dip

We usually have hummus or bean dip in our house. It’s a quick snack with rice cakes, pretzels, carrot/celery sticks. Dips make a great sandwich or wrap spread, simply add shredded carrots, spinach (or other green like arugula, baby kale etc) and a sprinkle of pumpkin or sunflower seeds

It’s also an easy appetizer, served with pita or corn chips or to dress it up, spread on toast squares or triangles with a sprig of herb of choice (pending the variation)

Beans are a pantry staple. A can of white beans can be a dip in 10 minutes.


Variation 1: White Bean Black Olive Dip

  • Add 1/4 cup black olives, chopped

Variation 2: Southwest White Bean Dip

  • Add 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Add half a jalapeño, chopped

Variation 3: Herbed

  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (or basil)

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Cauliflower was a boring vegetable I pretty much ignored until I discovered its exceptional health boosting powers.

[su_expanding_quote_book source_author=”Michael Greger MD” source_title=”How to Not Die” full_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale can potentially prevent DNA damage, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, help prevent lymphoma, boost liver detox enzymes and target breast cancer cells. The component responsible for these benefits is thought to be sulforaphane, which is formed almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables.” short_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables can potentially prevent DNA damage, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, and help prevent cancer”]

And Alfredo sauce was something I avoided as heavy, fatty and too white. I like color in my food after all. But my family loves Alfredo sauce.

This recipe happily marries the benefits of cauliflower with my family’s eating pleasure. Simple and quick to make, it can also be a vegan Alfredo sauce.

Recipe Variations

  • Use almond milk or broth for a lighter meal
  • Use dairy milk for a creamier sauce
  • Add 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan for a special treat

Serving Variations

  • Toss with whole-wheat fettuccini, cooked shrimp and peas
  • Toss with bowtie pasta, chopped up leftover chicken and sautéed mushrooms
  • Saute sliced onion, sliced red bell pepper and coarsely chopped kale and toss with pasta
  • Toss with steamed edamame and pasta

Turkey Sausage and Garbanzo Soup

Easy to make, simple and delicious this soup is protein-rich and light in carbs.

The original recipe is spicy but because of my daughter, rather than including the jalapeno in the soup itself, I chop it up put on top with the avocado and chopped cilantro when serving.


  • Instead of turkey sausage, use Italian sausage or Mexican chorizo
  • Instead of garbanzo, use white beans (or any other beans)
  • Add one or two chopped carrots
  • Add 1 chopped bell pepper (any color)
  • Add one potato, chopped smalle  so it doesn’t prolong  cooking time
  • The last 5 minutes, add spinach, kale or other chopped greens (swiss chard, mustard greens)

Spinach Pomegranate Green and Red Salad

Mini-chef asked what salad I was making. I answered “green and red – spinach, red cabbage and pomegranate.  Lots of color, lots of vitamins.” She has a keen interest not just in helping cook, but in the ingredients that go into our food.
Once the salad came together she said, “ you know mama, it’s green and purple.”

Red or purple, the colors make this not only pretty, but powerful: every one of these ingredients are superfoods loaded with phytochemicals (natural plant chemicals, antioxidants and minerals that boosting our immune system and ward off disease. Even healthy factors aside, the flavors and texture are a feast to the palate.

This salad would be a wonderful addition to a Christmas dinner or other holiday menu.


  • Baby kale or arugula instead of baby spinach.
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries instead of pomegranate
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion instead of green onion
  • Sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pistachio or chopped pecan instead of pumpkin seeds
  • Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of shredded red cabbage (I use a mandolin) or 1/4 cup of grated beet

Spinach Citrus Salad

In our garden in Cochabamba lives a wonderfully enthusiastic orange tree. It produces truly an astonishing amount of fruit; we’ll harvest 200+ oranges and the tree looks still fully loaded.
The garden is also home to a grapefruit tree, more modest in its output.
With such abundance, orange and grapefruit ended up in this pretty and delicious combination.


  • Use only orange or only grapefruit
  • Use orange and beet (roasted or steamed) slices (cut into similar shape as orange segments
  • Use peach or nectarine in place of citrus
  • Add toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or slivered almonds

Sweet Potato and Russet Potato Salad with Greens and Bacon

Skip the bacon and make it vegetarian.

Did you know sweet potatoes are not the same as yams? Sweet potatoes, native of North America, are a superfood loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Yams are starchy roots native of Africa and also grown in tropical parts of Asia, South America and the Caribbean.

Nutritionally, sweet potatoes greatly outweigh yams. They are sweet and moist. Yams are starchy and dry. I recognize sweet potatoes by their tapered ends and thin, smooth skin. Yams have rough, dark skin.

The original recipe calls for yams. I use sweet potatoes instead, and kale rather than mustard greens. For dinner parties, if vegetarians are among the guests I split the potato salad in half and mix bacon into one half only, leaving the other half for the vegetarians. Or leave the bacon on the side, but I find it more flavorful if the bacon is mixed in.

I’ve made this the day before. But it is thirsty and soaks up the dressing. So if I make it the day before, I make extra dressing add additional dressing before serving.

Finally, for a prettier presentation I like to serve it on a platter over a bed of shredded kale (with dressing mixed in prior to putting the kale on the platter).
How to tell the difference between sweet potato and yam?

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

Here’s a fantastic way to enjoy cauliflower – a rather-tasteless-boring-white vegetable. Ha! Yeah those were my sentiments; I confess I avoided cauliflower until recently. Discovering how powerful it is to our immune system motivated me to find ways to eat it. And as always in my kitchen – nutritious must also be delicious!

So thank you SkinnyTaste for introducing me to Cauliflower “Fried Rice”! I’ve made multiple iterations; consider this a baseline rather than a precise recipe and go creative with what’s seasonal or in your kitchen.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

“ Cruciferous vegetables are among the most powerful weapons in our dietary arsenal against cancer. That alone would elevate it to the status of a SuperFood. Cruciferous vegetables boost the immune system, lowers the incidence of cataracts, supports cardiovascular health, builds bones and fights birth defects. They are some of the most nutrient-dense foods known offering an incredible high level of nutrition for a very low caloric cost. Steven Pratt MD and Kathy Matthews” SuperFoods: Fourteen Foods that Will Change Your Life”


  • Skip the eggs, add edamame or tofu for protein to make it vegan
  • Or go the other way and add leftover chicken, pork or shrimp
  • Replace peas with edamame or snap peas (cut diagonally in halves or thirds)
  • Add mushrooms; wash, trim stems and slice. Cook with the chopped red onion

Southwest Black Bean and Bell Pepper Salad

There are recipes that stand the test of time. I’ve been making this one for more years that I can remember; it’s so versatile, delicious and nutritious.  Fiber-rich beans are a superfood;  tossed here with bell peppers, red onion and cilantro and this dish bursts with flavor and phytonutrients that boost our health.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”left” source_author=”Steven Pratt MD and Kathy Matthews” source_title=”SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods that Will Change Your Life” full_quote=”Beans are a superb heart-healthy food. A study conducted over nineteen years following 9,632 men and women found those who ate beans at least four times a week had a 22% lower risk of coronary heart disease compared with those who consumed beans less than once a week. Those who ate beans most frequently also had lower blood pressure and total cholesterol and were less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes” short_quote=”Beans are a superb heart-healthy food.Those who ate beans most frequently had lower blood pressure and total cholesterol.”]


  • Use any color bell peppers, or poblano peppers
  • Add 1 cup corn
  • Add 1 or 2 diced avocados
  • Use cilantro instead of parsley
  • Use other dried fruit instead of dates

This recipe can be used so many different ways. It’s a great one to  double and use differently throughout the week.

  1. Vegetarian dinner for guests, served over a bed of brown rice, with chopped cilantro scattered decoratively on top and accompanied by a green salad tossed with mango, nectarines or other summer fruit. For dessert Peach and Blackberry Crisp or Epicurious: Plum Kuchen
  2. As a side dish with grilled chicken and Watermelon Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese
  3. Toss leftovers with greens (spinach, kale, arugula) for lunch
  4. Toss leftovers with grains (quinoa, brown rice, barley) for a second dinner
  5. Make a wrap or pita sandwich with guacamole, or feta cheese, or a dollop of pain Greek yogurt and a handful of greens


Cumin Quinoa and Garbanzo

I like the combination of rice and quinoa, and this dish can be more interesting using wild rice or red quinoa if it is available. But for quicker cooking on a busy night, you can use a single grain (either brown rice or quinoa). You can also make this with another grain such as barley (but increase the water to 3 cups for 1 cup of barley)

Coconut Red Lentil Curry

Red lentils are made from whole yellow lentils that are peeled and split in half, exposing the red color under their outer seed coat which makes them cook quickly.

This dish comes together easily and leaves bellies full and happy.
If cooking for children or those who don’t enjoy spicy food, leave the Serrano/jalapeño peppers out of the pot; serve them on the side so people can add them as desired.

I serve it over brown rice; start cooking the rice first as it takes longer than the curry.


  • Use green or brown lentils instead of red; add 10 minutes cooking time
  • Replace cauliflower with broccoli, zucchini with butternut squash, or bell peppers
  • Use parsley instead of cilantro