Lani Muelrath's Inspiring "The Plant-Based Journey" Review, RECIPE and Book Giveaway!

Book Giveaway: Lani Muelrath's step by step guide AND a recipe for YOU!
I started reading about Lani and following her posts loong before The Plant-Based Journey was published. Maybe even before it was a seed pod of an idea, but somehow I doubt that! This book is the story of Lani's life; her struggle with weight control, her love of fitness and her passion for animals.

I was excited to catch a glimpse of Lani across the room at one of Dr. John McDougall's Advanced Study Weekends.  Although Lani was not on the lineup of plant-based all stars Dr. McD had arranged for the weekend, I still considered her a celeb and watched in awe. I was even more excited when Lani released her personal story, along with a "Step by Step Guide for Transitioning to a Healthy Lifestyle and Achieving Your Ideal Weight" in the book ThePlant-Based Journey.

That's right, a STEP by STEP GUIDE! If you’ve ever wanted to make the plant-based switch but felt overwhelmed about where to start, The Plant-Based Journey provides the support you need every step of the way.

My hero and Champion of the Physician's Committee, Dr. NealBarnard, has penned the forward to Lani's book, assuring me and any of the other Food for Life instructors, this book is a great addition to the lending library many of us offer our participants and recommended for their own reading.

Lani looking FABULOUS! Find out how!!
Many of you reading this post might subscribe to my Plant-based Meals to Go-Go Service at The Club on St. Simons Island. Perhaps you recall the Portobello Pot Roast we had as it was a BIG HIT! I did not have Lani's recipe (it was top secret because the book had not yet launched) but was so inspired just by her description of the dish and the images, I tried my own version for the meals service. Well, Lani's version is even BETTER and here is the recipe, right from the book! It turns out Lani was also inspired by another version of the recipe, read here:

Portobello Pot Roast
This recipe came to me as a happy surprise from my friend Jim Presentati. I first met Jim on our favorite mountain biking trail. Soon after he told me his phenomenal plant-based success story (see page TK), Jim raved about the “absolutely delicious portobello mushroom pot roast” that his wife Kathy makes. The next time I saw him, he mentioned it again. Time to investigate! When Kathy graciously sent me her recipe, I couldn’t help but think it was a perfect match for this section of the book. Who doesn’t know and love pot roast? The portobellos make the perfect savory swap-out and create a whole new gustatory experience. Here is my version, adapted from Kathy’s recipe, with just a tweak or two.

1/2 cup white wine (you can also try red—I’ve even made this with sake), divided
4 large portobello mushrooms, sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon dried basil
2–3 cups vegetable broth, divided
4 potatoes, quartered
4 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or lemon pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
3–4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. When the mixture just starts to boil, turn the heat off and add any additional seasonings you prefer. (Kathy suggests parsley and pepper.)

6. 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.

7. 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.

Yield: 4 servings
Alternate Cooking Options:
If you have a large, heavy pot such as a Dutch oven that can go from cooktop to oven, you can prepare the entire dish in that fashion, as Kathy does.

'Nother NOTE: Making this gluten free is easy too! Just use a GF alternative for the flour such as brown rice flour or GF All Purpose blend (as long as it is also dairy free!)

Thank you Lani and Jennifer at BenBella books for providing a copy of The Plant-Based Journey for a giveaway! This giveaway is for readers in the US and Canada.
To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below, include a snippet of where you are on your journey and what inspires you! Because I am in transition from Maine to Georgia (yep, this bird flies south for the winter) I'm giving you plenty of time to enter!
The giveaway starts at 12 AM October 10th runs until October 24th at 12 AM EST.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of The Plant-Based Journey from BenBella Books. My opinions are my own and I recommend this book to you with joy.

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Meet Your Local Farmer from CR17GG

By Guest Blogger & Leafy Cafe Express Summer Manager - Jennifer Osburn. 
Jennifer is the fresh, new face for Leafy Cafe EXPRESS. Leafy Cafe EXPRESS is currently operating out of The CLUB cafe, St. Simons, Georgia where I operate the Leafy Cafe Meals to GO-GO service. Together with CLUB Management, I created LC EXPRESS as a way to continue to serve healthy food to club members and the entire community. Jennifer runs LC EXPRESS with this philosophy and mission; using locally & sustainable grown ingredients as much as possible. Here is what Jen has to say about a recent visit to one of the sources for the high quality ingredients you will find in 
LC EXPRESS' meals.  Take it away Jen....

photo courtesy of Ellery Mayence

It brings me so much happiness to know where my food comes from. I am not just talking about searching perilously for organic, made-in-the-USA labels.... No, I mean going to Darien to shake hands with a local farmer, Ellery Mayence. Feeding the café customers is a passion of mine and I appreciate the privilege I have of going to Darien to literally witness Ellery harvest giant cucumbers straight from the vine, which I will use the very next day in salads.
GR17GG Cukes in LC EXPRESS salads!

Farm to table concepts are nothing new but there is big reason why they are valuable. Working with local farmers helps you support your local economy, ensure you understand the process your food went through and connects you to your neighbors. By eating local produce you are supporting a food cycle with a small carbon footprint.

Ellery's farm is located in Darien, Georgia, very close to Hwy 17. He took over the farm this year and he and his wife, Kasia, sell their home-grown delights at their farm Coastal Route 17 Green Goods (CR17GG for short)  Wednesday evenings and at the Sea Island Farmer's Market, the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. 

photo courtesy Ellery Mayence

Their soil is simply incredible - the landowner before them enriched the soil with compost, leaf mulch, and manure - and then it largely sat fallow for several years.  The result is soil that is incredibly fertile that will grow most any vegetable one would want. Ellery and Kasia produce chemical-free vegetables (following organic principles) and grow a range of long-stem flowers for cutting.
Zinnias and other long-stemmed flowers for the cutting! Photo courtesy Ellery Mayence
It is important to know your neighbors and local farmers.   Therefore, I would like to introduce to you: Ellery, Kasia and their daughter, Lumi. If you are in Darien, at the Leafy Café or the Sea Island Farmer’s Market - you can rest easy knowing they are taking good care of your vegetables.
Ellery, Kasia & Lumi
Ellery Mayence and his amazing Green Goods!
Thanks Jennifer! And thank you to the Mayence family for bringing us amazing, life giving food! It’s no doubt Ellery manages the soil to be the best it can be. In addition to farming, Ellery is a highly regarded and frequently published Ecologist.


See the Tuna Fleets Clearing the Seas Out! Recipe: Tu NO-Fish Salad

Every time I think about including more animal products in my diet, a message comes from the Universe, or somewhere, reminding me of why I should not. 

"See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out..."
from U2 Its a Beautiful Day

This morning was no different. I was looking around on the internet at the bounty offered by local growers, I came across a blog post about the benefits of miso, a fermented food which I love and use often. This post suggested using seaweeds such as kombo (kelp) and dashi (bonito or dried, smoked skipjack tuna flakes) for rich tasting, healthy broths for soups, stews and sauces rather than other stocks. This idea sounded fabulous to me, at first. Reminiscing of times when I experimented with such things under the watchful eye of my dear friend and accomplished chef, Jenny Napier. Jenny lived in Australia where Asian culture influences the modern cooking heavily. She always kept bonito and shrimp flakes in her cupboard, along with other things which we do not use so much in Western Cuisine but is popular in Asian, especially Japanese cooking. I thought, what harm will a little dashi do to my health if it will make magical soups, sauces, and broths?? I truly believe, seafood, and small amounts of animal product could likely be health-promoting, 

Then, I came to my senses. I thought  I'd better sniff around the internet to find out the status of the skipjack tuna population in case they might be under threat, knowing the intensity with which the Japanese, and others, over fish our oceans, not to mention the mercury they most likely contain. 

Then these words, along with the lyrics to the U2 song quoted above popped in to my mind:

"And No Message Could Have

Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place"
Michael Jackson - Man in the Mirror

Ask my husband, D,  and he will tell you, I always have song lyrics in my brain. Whatever the emotion, or thought which pops in, I let out a song with words describing what I am thinking or how I am feeling. It gets annoying to others around me I'm sure. This is what happened this morning with the Dashi thing! It just so happens that D is currently working in Jordan and has been talking to me about the Bedoiun when we've had our brief email or text exchanges of info. I suppose this is one reason the U2 song popped in. 

Then, after finding the info on skipjack tuna, I thought about the Man in the Mirror - ME! 
Although one of the lower mercury containing tunas, skipjack is for now a sustainable fishery, however the population is under tremendous threat of over fishing because of this very reason AND because of the demand by the Asian, mostly Japanese, market. 

Here is what I found, and why I think I will stick with Tu-NO salad and sandwiches and for-go the dashi. I know, its such small amount, can't hurt anything - right??  Gotta start somewhere! Each of us should make our own choices. I am not the food police, nor do I make judgement. I simply make information available and what others choose to do, or not, is their business.

If you would like to learn a little more about the tuna fishing industry, sustainable fisheries, or mercury levels in fish, click on the links below:

Grilled Tu-NO salad on home made Bread with those yummy micro-greens from Morning Dew Farm!

Tu-NO Salad
15 oz. can or 1 ½ c. cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

2 celery ribs, diced

2 T. pickle relish

½ t. onion powder or grated onion

2 t. nutritional yeast

1 T. Low- Sodium Tamari or soy sauce (or omit)

2 T. vegan mayo (fat-free)

Juice ½ fresh lemon (optional)

½ tsp kombu (any seaweed will do, rice condiment with sesame is nice too!)

1.       In a large mixing bowl, mash chickpeas with a fork until coarse and no whole beans are left.
2.       Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine.
3.       Add more vegan mayo and/or kelp as necessary or desired and black pepper to taste.


Introducing Leafy Café Express & To Go-Go Menu at THE CLUB, SSI


Here's how it works: From May thru October, the lovely, Leafy food ladies will be in the café kitchen at various times preparing fresh salads, soups smoothies & wraps with organic, and often locally sourced ingredients. These delectable items will then be placed in our case so you can Grab 'n Go whenever you are at The Club! Our menu will feature several protein add-ons for the salads/wraps and fresh smoothies which you can request on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-7pm, or when you catch us. At other times, the ladies will make an assortment to be placed in the case, for you at your convenience.
When the Leafy ladies are not present, the support staff at the Club Front Desk will be happy to assist you.

Salads: (rotating on a weekly basis)
Seasonal Mixed Greens Salad $8.00 DF/GF/V
Mixed Greens with Strawberries, Brazil Nuts & Sunflower Seeds. Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette on the side.

Greek Salad $8.00 dressing
contains dairy
Hand Cut Hearts of Romaine, Red Cabbage, Red Onions, English Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and Green Onions. Paired with Greek Feta & Cucumber Dressing. Vegan option available on request.

Kale Waldorf Salad $8.00 DF/GF/V
Fresh Kale with Sliced Apples, Matchstick Carrots, Celery, Craisins, & Walnuts with a Creamy (no mayo) Date & Apple dressing.

Salad of the week $ Market Price
Each week our salad offering will change, according to what is in season and spectacular! Check the menu board or take a peek in our glass case.

Make any Salad a Wrap!
N/C (When present in the café wraps will be made to order)

Additional Grab 'n Go
Gazpacho $7
A healthy blend of veggies, served as a cold summer soup!

Fresh, Seasonal Soup of the week will rotate with Gazpacho $ Market Price

Greek Yogurt Parfait $4 GF contains dairy
8 oz. of Non-fat Yogurt, Fresh Berries, Super-berry puree and House-Made Granola

Healthy Smoothies and Drinks
Breakfast Smoothie $6 DF/V
Fresh Apple, Banana, Rolled Oats, Peanut Butter and a dash of cinnamon and agave, blended with chocolate almond milk
Fresh Complexion Berry Smoothie
$6 GF contains dairy
A perfect mix of antioxidants from berries with agave, kale & spinach, flaxseed, and nonfat yogurt
Summertime Vacation
$6 DF/GF/V
A fresh blend of pineapple, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon and orange juice.

* Smoothies made to order when the Leafy Ladies are in the café kitchen. At other times, there will be a premade smoothie you may purchase from the case.
Iced Coffee & Frappuccinos: Cold-pressed cashew milk iced coffee, unsweetened $3
Blended with Ice $5 & Coconut Ice Cream $6 DF/GF/V



Fruited teas
Black, green or herbal tea, iced with a fruit pairing $3
Fresh Apple, Pineapple or Orange slices adorn Black, Green or Minty herbal tea! A refreshing low calorie beverage with a twist!

Fruited Waters
Refreshing Spring Water with a fruit pairing $3
Fresh Apple, Pineapple, Orange, Lemon or Minted Lime!

Simple Grab Snacks
Chips, Cookies, brownies, muffins, and other baked goods, (When Available) priced as marked
Water, and an assortment of other beverages are available at the Front Desk.

For updates, ordering & recipes, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Check out Pinterest, Google+, & You Tube too!



The New Face at Leafy Cafe: Introducing Jennifer Osburn-Wiemers!

Sometimes, you just don't know what to do next, and then out of the sky drops an angel, steering you into a certain direction and a solution magically appears.

Meet Jennifer Osburn-Wiemers, the new face of Leafy Cafe, at least for the Summer! Jennifer is the angel to whom I refer. As you all know, I head north for the Summers and always struggle with the idea of having to close Leafy Cafe. 
Last year, I literally bumped into  Katie Sims in the Harris Teeter parking lot and a light-bulb went off telling me she would for some reason be interested in carrying on the Leafy Meals to Go Service, and guess what? She DID!! Fantastically, just walked in and took the bull by the horns preparing all of the same fabulous WHOLE PLANT FOODS for anyone who wished to order. YAY! Thanks Katie!!

This year seemed a bit more of a challenge. The club managers really wanted something different in the cafe space in my absence. More like a "real" cafe, with regular hours, a menu, ETC. There was talk of outsourcing the cafe to various and sundry franchise type operations, etc. but how would this work when I returned, and  lucky me, management wanted me back!!
Then another light-bulb moment, how about Leafy Cafe EXPRESS or Grab 'n GO?? A fun new menu with cool, refreshing fare for the Summer!!??
Like that idea??
Well, rewind to March 10. I received an email from a bright young woman who is a dy-no-mite corporate coach, looking to move more towards the wellness field. Jennifer! She sent me a brief bio, she is a recent addition to the Golden Isles and wanted to provide more healthy options for the community. Jennifer was interested in taking a cooking class but it just was not happening for her at the moment. She is planning to become certified as a Health & Wellness Coach through the Mayo Clinic program. 
In the following weeks, she really had to chase me down, I just could not figure  how we would partner or how I could help her in any way. Then, in late March, after much email banter, we arranged a meeting, still no idea of how we could get it together BUT we did start talking about food trucks, her interest in cooking, smoothies and other stuff so the dialogue was morphing into something more than coaching.  Finally, sometime in Late April, the whole plan came together and thus LEAFY CAFE EXPRESS was created, with Jennifer at the Helm!! Double YAY!!

Currently, I am training Jennifer to take the reigns at the Leafy. We will be in the kitchen & cafe 3 evenings each week until I depart. Mondays, Tuesdays, & Thursdays from 4 - 7. Here is how it works.
Please stop by and welcome Jennifer to The Club. Stay tuned for our MENU, Soft Opening & Tasting Hours AND a Launch Party/Farewell to MiMi event!

Chicken Marbella - Vegan Style!


Do any of you remember the Silver Palate Cookbook? It was one of my favorites back in the 1980's and 90's. Before I decided to go to Culinary School, I was always throwing large, themed  (seriously, with rented china, etc.!) dinner parties and often used the recipes from this particular book. I loved that  type of food and so did everyone who gathered at my table to dine with us.

Fast forward to today... time goes on and things change. I'm not cooking with tons (or even any) olive oil, cream, butter or meat these days. Unless I am cooking for a private client who desires it, most of my meals are no-oil, low fat and VEGAN, And it is this life-giving food my dinner guests usually enjoy when sitting around our table today. 

I have never claimed to be a Vegan, and even though I eat a vegan diet, I am not an ethical vegan or vegetarian by any means. I consider myself a "human health advocate" which is my reason for choosing a Whole Foods, Plant-based Diet for myself and promote this to my clients.
SO,every once in a while, I will cook meat for my non-vegan friends. Such is the case for this Chicken Marbella.

I decided I wanted to make chicken marbella, but what would I use in place of the chicken for myself and David?? I have tried using eggplant, and it works really well too. This time, I thought of these Soy Curls I had recently received. 
Soy Curls from Butler Foods
I had heard about Butler Foods Soy Curls over on Susan V.'s Blog: Fat Free Vegan (one of my very favorites which I recommend to client frequently. HERE are some of her recipes using this versatile product. The recipe I noticed them in was for Mu-Shu Lettuce Wraps which I was making for the Leafy Cafe Meals to Go-Go service. I had never heard of them. I was curious so I ordered some directly from Daniel at Butler Foods. 
The Marbella Marinade
I made the marinade for the real chicken just as it is in the recipe, oil and all. I made my own marinade without the oil, using veggie stock, lemon juice and later, wine, otherwise, it was the same.

The soy curls in the marinade
 I failed to take any photos of the finished dish because I was entertaining a house-full of hungry guests. Both dishes were really enjoyed! The vegan diners (myself and my husband) loved the soy curls prepared in the Marbella style. The chicken eaters loved their version AND many of the non-vegan diners tried the soy curls and LOVED them!! They ate everything!

THANK YOU Daniel and Butler Foods for producing this great, non-gmo, whole food!! Now I have used it in many recipes, including FFV's Mu-Shu Lettuce Wraps!!
If y'all order some curls from the folks at Butler, tell them I sent you!!

Special Valentine Chocolate Collection!

MiMi's handmade chocolate covered truffles

You all know I love making my own artisan chocolates - right? and that I have a strong desire to open a chocolate shop in downtown brunswick and call it "port city chocolates" and use a liberty ship or a mermaid as the logo, maybe both! hmmmm???
MiMi's Rawsome Truffles
 Well, I have found some handmade chocolates which are far superior to my own! 
while cruising the web for ingredients to make valentine chocolates, i came across mama ganache. I was really impressed by the company mission and after talking with cindy by phone, decided rather than making my own, i would introduce this great company to my readers and give us all a chance to try their delicious chocolates. 

Leafy Love!

MiMi's coconut nipples (I mean macaroons)
then, in addition to the mama ganache assortment, i will add my own selection, handmade by me, using mama ganache 70% dark chocolate (fair trade, organic of course)and the usual lotta leafy love!
chocolate gets a bad rap for many reasons. To read more about the benefits of chocolate/cocoa click here. to find out more about fair trade cocoa and why its important, click here.
MaMa Ganache  & MiMi assortment



Ordering info is on this week's leafy cafe meals to go-go order form which you will find right here. feel free to order the chocolates without ordering the meals if you live close enough to pick them up from the club (2929 demere rd, st simons, ga). because of the special-ness of this product, the chocolates will not be available for pick-up until wednesday or thursday february 11 or 12th. those of you who would like to mail order chocolates from mama ganache should do so right from their website. sorry, this custom selection is for pick-up only.