Christmas Dinner 2011 ~ PLANT STRONG!!


Christmas Dinner Menu 2011
1008 Union St Brunswick GA
              25th December 5 pm

Hors d'oeuvres

Mushroom Pâté , Caponata, Assorted Crudités & Crackers

First Course

Cream of Carrot Soup

Main Course
Brussel Sprouts with toasted Walnuts and Orange Zest
Acorn Squash stuffed with Wild Rice, Craisins and Chestnuts
GOMBS Dressing
Roasted Potatoes, Turnips & Parsnips with Rosemary
Cauliflower Mash
Sweet Potatoes Casserole
Haricots Verts
Cranberry Sauce
Cashew Cream Onions

Pecan Pumpkin Brownie Pie
Apple Pie
Ice Cream

Dogs welcome….

A Wish and a Kiss Cookie; aka C's school project.

My young friend stayed over last night as she has done throughout most of her life while her mom helps to bring newborns into the world. We like to work on projects together, especially baking but lately we have branched out to jewelry making and sometimes if I am lucky, a little gardening :-)
Last nights's project was homework related as C entered the house with a giant poster. The poster is part of her school project for a Power Point presentation, I think.
C with poster for Wish and Kiss Cookie

It turns out that she selected to make a presentation about Vegan Cookies, without any influence from me! (except in a sort of indirect way in the fact that the only cookies we make together happen to be vegan!) C decided on her own that a good way to spread the word about healthy plant-based options was through her school work thereby reaching her fellow classmates. She realized there will be questions but she is prepared for this. Now C is not a vegan, but she is a mostly healthy eater, a dancer who knows how important it is to eat healthily to maintain her stamina, keep her skin clear and many other benefits. Here is the "Jingle" about the cookies from C's project:
Wanting to bring you all some holiday cheer,
with a wish and a kiss fro the Happy New Year.
They are made without butter but with lots of love,
and sealed with a special wish from above.
May all your holidays be merry and bright,
I hope you enjoy your vegan delight.
They are healthy, but sooo much more!!!
Definitely better then anything bought in a store.
The even "nuttier" nutcracker

We used nuts gathered in the garden!

cookie dough on the baking sheet

 C was a bit disappointed when I shared that Hershey's Kisses are not vegan :-( so we decided to use some jam or some vegan chocolate chips for our cookies. The cookie dough itself is all plant-based but not necessarily low-fat.  
adding the spreadable fruit
Here is the recipe for Vegan Wish & Kiss Cookies (aka thumbprint cookies), straight from C's project, this is not my recipe.
2 cups finely chopped nuts (we used almonds and pecans from the garden)
1/2 cup nut butter (raw almond would be best)
1/2 cup flour
2 Tablespoons applesauce (we used mashed bananas, had no applesauce)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
vegan chocolate kisses or jam (we used vegan chocolate chips)
mix everything together, form into dough-balls about 1" diameter and place on baking sheet with parchment paper or sil-pat. with moistened fingers, shape into flatter cookies and make an indent with your thumb. fill with chocolate kisses or jam and bake for 10 min. @ 350 degrees.
The finished product.

P.S. these cookies are so delicious, they're gone!!

Food for Life: The Power of Foods to Kickstart Your Health

We will soon be offering a new class focused on weight loss and optimal health!

A Whole Foods, Plant-based Diet: would you like to know what its all about? Surely you have seen it on TV or heard of it on NPR. Many athletes and celebrities, even former president Bill Clinton are following this diet. Clinton says he feels better than ever and is now the same weight he was in High School!

This diet of whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits can help prevent diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. According to the American Dietetic Association, "Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases."
Don’t know where to begin?  Food for Life: The Power of Foods to Kickstart Your Health
This curriculum is based on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's successful 21-Day  Kickstart program. Depending on one's perspective, the Kickstart is about losing weight, maintaining a healthy weight, or simply embracing an overall healthful diet. Much of the basis of the Kickstart is about making a qualitative shift in the way we eat as opposed to a quantitative shift. For some people, it's the first time the idea of not restricting amounts of foods but rather choosing the right foods has been the guiding principle for losing weight and staying healthy. The revelation is bolstered with clinical benefits such as lower cholesterol, better diabetes control, and lower blood pressure, as well as improvements in energy and mood. 
Food for Life: The Power of Foods to Kickstart Your Health will allow class attendees to discover the world of health through general topics ranging from digestion to blood pressure. Results are likely to be immediate and impressive! 

Coming in early 2012!

Masala Chai Apple Crisp

A new twist on an old favorite. Try replacing your usual Apple Pie with this yummy low-fat (guilt-free) alternative!

Makes 6 servings
Chai spices are the perfect accompaniment to this quintessential American dessert.
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (preferably from green cardamom pods)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
4 apples, cored and sliced thinly (2 Pink Ladies and 2 Granny Smiths, preferably)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple jelly
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
11/2 cups dried oats
Combine all the spices and the sugar together. Place the apple slices in a mixing bowl and toss them with the spices and sugar. Allow this to sit for about 30 minutes.
At this point, the apples will have released some liquid. Drain the juice from the bottom of the mixing bowl into a small saucepan. Over medium heat, reduce the juice until it is about half the original volume. Mix this with the apple cider vinegar, apple jelly, and grated ginger.
Place the apples in a baking dish and spread the apple jelly mixture over them. Top with the dried oats. Bake this at 350 F for 20 minutes.
The Gourmet Touch: Toast each spice individually, whole, for about 1 minute over medium-low heat, then grind each spice into a powder.

Core Concepts: Dried ingredients like sugar and salt pull out liquid from fruits and veggies through a process called maceration. When making a pie or crisp, this is important because it reduces the amount of liquid released by the fruit during baking, keeping the texture of the dessert tight instead of watery.
Per serving (1/6 recipe): calories: 278; fat: 0.8 g; calories from fat: 3%; cholesterol: 0 mg; protein: 4 g; carbohydrates: 70 g; sugar: 49 g; fiber: 5 g; sodium: 1 mg

What's on the menu for Thanksgiving at the Leafy?? (aka what will Mimi eat)

My sister Sally just rang to say hello and talk about her daughter's wedding which was last Saturday. It was a fantastic time in Brooklyn, NY with loads of feasting and fun. In the days before the wedding and over the course of the weekend Sally was concerned that I had food to eat at all of the functions (thanks Sal!) It always amazes me to realize I eat so differently than others, especially friends and family, because I cook for myself and my loved ones in my kitchen or theirs and during those meals, they eat what I eat. I rarely consider the way I eat to be abnormal but when you venture out and stop preparing your own meals, you realize how bizarre and different it is to everyone else. I think this is a crime because for health's sake we should all be eating a primarily plant-based diet and if we were, there would be no reason to ask "what will Mimi eat?".

Thanksgiving and Christmas are really two of the easiest holidays for me to prepare and feed to others without suspicions of any vegan mumbo-jumbo (or vegan "slop" as my brother-in-laws baby girlfriend just called it). Yes, we were out at one of the finest vegan restaurants in NYC and she referred to vegan food as "slop" but that is another story altogether!

These two days are supposed to be the largest feasts of the year. Yet in fact, both dinners are the healthiest, most vegetarian-like meals people eat all year long. Traditionally, these holiday dinners consist of mashed white potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, a bread stuffing, butternut and acorn squash, cranberries, and a variety of green vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, and green beans. For dessert, pumpkin pie ends the feast. That's a cornucopia of starches and vegetables. The turkey served is the leanest of all common meats. The truth is that every other dinner consumed by Westerners all year long is far richer in fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar than is eaten at these two traditional festivals. 

So, the menu here will be much the same as it will be at many homes. YES, we will have a turkey, but if you read this you might not wish to eat it, I won't be! I just make all of the accompaniments low-sodium, fat & animal product free, boosting the veggies and minimizing the desserts. I'll follow this post with a few recipes if you would like to know how to do this.

Oh, and before we signed off from our conversation, Sally asked: " What will you be eating on Thanksgiving?" There you go Sal, you inspired this post!


8th Annual Victorian Tea, Forks over Knives & Bragg... PRIZE WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT!!

The Berry Manor Inn

On Tuesday, Oct. 25, from 3 to 7 p.m., I represented the Food for Life Program at the eighth annual Victorian Tea & Breast Health Fair  at the Berry Manor Inn in Rockland,  Maine. This event, sponsored by the Picker Family Resource Center was open to the public and FREE! It was a HUGE success.

The tea, in its 8th year, was held in a setting evocative of the Victorian era, and is a wonderful opportunity for the Midcoast community to learn about breast health from knowledgeable healthcare professionals. I was proud to be one of those professionals asked to be present to talk with (mostly) women from all over Knox County as they wandered from room to room in the beautiful Inn, discussing a wide variety of ideas and services that encourage and support their well-being, including stress reduction, lymphedema prevention and management, blood pressure checks, healthy eating, weight management for youth, maintaining fitness (this is our specialty!)and more. 
I placed this poster at the door to drawn in the crowd

Room Number 1, my station for the event
Participants where also encouraged to schedule a "mini-session" choosing from disciplines such as  reflexology, reiki, Bowen therapy or jin shin jyutsu and shavasana (yogic breathing and relaxation) and a wide variety of workshops. In addition to my station in one of the beautiful guest rooms (literally Room 1), I presented a workshop in the Carriage House Kitchen where I prepared Green Goddess Smoothies and Dairy-Free Soft Serve. I talked with nearly 100 interested parties between 3 and 5 p.m. then ran to the Carriage House to whip up a batch of Smoothies and Banana Soft Serve for a full workshop, WHEW! I was hoarse by the end of the evening from all of the chatting but it was time well spent for sure. I was lucky to share Room 1 with my sister, Donna Ames, RN...(plus lots of other letters after name) who represented the ZING! program of Pen Bay Pediatrics which is a program aimed at energiZING kids to a healthy weight.

There were many door prizes and among them, participants who visited my room were entered into a drawing for a FREE copy of The Cancer Survivor's Guide. We will announce the winner at the end of this post! The Cancer Survivor's guide is the book which accompanies the series of Food for Life Cooking classes. We give a loaner copy to anyone who takes the course or you can purchase your own copy from me, on the website  OR there is a downloadable FREE PDF version, all on the link above. The great information and delicious recipes in this book make it a "must-have" for everyone, even if you are not concerned about cancer.

Also among the special treats (besides the fabulous Traditional Tea goodies offered by the fantastic Kitchen staff of the Berry Manor, Dr. John Westerdahl of the Bragg Company sent me an assortment of Bragg Product samples to give away at the Tea. These included Bragg Nutritional Yeast, Kelp, and the famous Liquid Aminos.
One of the Food for Life Info Tables placed around Room 1
Some of the Bragg Products we gave away, THANKS Dr. Westerdahl!!
The 8th Annual Victorian Tea is a great service to the community, I was proud to be a part of this event and hope to continue to do so in the future. This was the 2cd event this month where I did a community out-reach event. On Oct. 19th I was honored to be present at the screening of the award-winning documentary Forks over Knives presented by the Belfast Peace and Justice Group in the Belfast Free Library  where I also collected names for the prize drawing and participated in the Q & A forum after the film. These events combined with two FFL classes specific to Breast Cancer Awareness really helped to spread the good word of disease prevention and achieving optimal health through a Whole Foods, Plant-based diet, all in all reaching hundreds of people in the Knox & Waldo County Communities of Maine!

I have one more "lunch & learn" event at Athena Health on November 3 then I head south taking the Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking classes to Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida, can't wait! We'll be starting the Plant-based Supper Club Feasts as soon as I arrive at 1008 so stay tuned for more info on what's cooking in the soon-to-be southern Leafy Café Kitchen!
And now for the moment you've all been waiting for (I know some of you have jumped ahead to find out without reading this post :-)
The Winner our prize, The Cancer Survivor's Guide is (drum-roll please) Robin C. Bray!! Robin, please contact me to claim your prize! 

Pumpkin-Banana Smoothie with Apple Cider!

I really wanted to write about the 8th Annual Victorian Tea held at Berry Manor Inn yesterday but I just made this smoothie and it is sooooo yummy that I ran outside, took a photo in the diminishing daylight (yes, it's only 5 p.m. and already the sun has gone beyond the yard arm, whatever that means).

Pumpkin is a wonderful source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, making it a tasty and healthy addition to your diet. With autumn in full swing and pumpkin in season, be sure to pick some up at your local grocery to make this delicious smoothie, reminiscent of homemade pumpkin pie!
Here is the recipe:


1c. pumpkin purée
1c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 frozen banana (for extra creaminess)
1/2c. apple cider or to taste
1c. ice
2T maple syrup
1T pumpkin pie spice (or you can use a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice)
Note: you can omit the banana and/or apple cider and boost the non-dairy milk or add a bit of water and the smoothie is just a yummy!


Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend for 1 to 2 minutes until everything is incorporated.

I will bring you up to date on the Victorian Tea soon, real soon.

* recipe based on FFL recipe of the week from 10/8/2010 subscribe for recipe of the week HERE

Kickstarter Project

 Lately I have been wishing and hoping and thinking and praying and dreaming .... well, you know the old Dusty Springfield song.
"If I could just convince a local company to offer the Food for Life classes to their employees, and the local community, hmmmm." I have been pulling my hair out trying to come up with creative methods of funding at least 4 series of classes to the local community, in two locations for a total of 8 Food for Life series annually.

Then, I came up with another idea...


 Kickstarter, the website for  finding funding for creative projects! I have submitted an idea for a project to fund the series of classes in exchange for prizes, private dinners, individual and personal chef service, etc. I'm not sure if my project will meet the required guidelines but I'm giving it a shot. Maybe I will try for a Plant-based food truck or $ to bottle Steve's Snappy Chutney if this idea does not work because I'm having a real hard time finding funding to give these wonderful classes.

I need some heroes and maybe Kickstarter is the way to find them. Wish me Luck!




Almost RAW Broccoli Dip

This is going to be a mini-post. I just threw together the most delicious spread. Call it a dip, a spread, or even Pate. ( I don't know how to make that little fancy accent mark over the e :-) Call it what you like but I call it YUMBO! I have posted the photos to the Leafy Cafe facebook page but here is the recipe. I am eating it so fast that I had to stop, take a break and write the recipe and enter this post. I'll explain more about my quest for all things RAW later.
2 c. Broccoli Florets
3/4 c. Garbanzo Beans
2 T. RAW Tahini Paste
2 LG Garlic Cloves
2-3 chopped Green Onions
1 T. Nutritional Yeast
1 T. Ground Flaxseed
1 T. low sodium Tamari
1 T. fresh Lemon Juice
pinch cayenne
Blanch and rinse broccoli by pouring boiling water over it in a colander and then rinse with cool water. Broccoli will be bright green. Drain and rinse garbanzo beans.
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until nicely mixed, then blend for desired consistency.

Garnish with toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, tumeric, parsley or even smoked paprika and enjoy with carrot sticks, cucumber wedges, or your choice of crisp veggies.

Gotta Go Eat More!

Mid-Coast Maine Restaurant Challenge

aka My Big-Fat Vegan Birthday!
Most of you know that we serve up a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet here at the Leafy (virtual) Cafe and have been doing so for about 3 years. We make and serve such delicious and healthy food in our little kitchen on the Ridge that its often a challenge to dine out. Most area restaurants do not offer anything but fat laden meals heavy on animal products and light on the micronutrients we desire and need for optimal health! Well, recently we decided to venture out and re-try some of our former favorite jaunts (and these restaurants are faves of many local diners) in search of a place we could count on to serve us a plant-based meal we could not or would not make at home. Something way better for those special occasion meals. This month marked our 11th wedding anniversary and my XX birthday, both reasons for celebration. I won't give the names of the establishments we tried which did not please our discerning palettes, or the ones which would not even bother to offer a Plant-based option, rather I will focus on the Fabulous meal we did have at Natalies in the Camden Harbor Inn.

The Camden Harbor Inn and Natalie's Restaurant overlook charming seaside Camdentown.
 We had heard through the grape vine (RAYR wine store that is) that the chef at Natalie's is happy to prepare a Chef's Tasting Meal, VEGAN so we made our booking for Saturday evening, Sept. 24th. We were not disappointed this time and I had to show/tell you all what we enjoyed-which was EVERYTHING! I confess I did not even think about posting this dining experience on the blog until we were well into the third course but then I had the light-bulb moment. I had only my phone for photos so the pictures are not great but the meal was delicious! I was afraid to request vegan AND low-fat however I do believe the chef had some intuition as he laid low on the EVVO.

This was no messy plate of over-salted, greasy mass of side veggies to which I am often subjected at many of the better local hot-spots. The chef knew the perfect blend of avoiding too much salt and oil and the other nastys that bog food down to the point at which you cannot taste anything else. Our server Patrick, knew just the right amount of fussy attention mixed with leave-them-alone and delivered his perfect blend of service for the evening. 

David enjoys Natalie's warm decor and relaxed atmosphere!

Here is the Menu:
Amuse Bouche:
Watermelon & Apple Cider "Shooter" with tasty garnish
1st Course:
Chilled Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Bell Pepper, Poblano, Garlic and Onion
2cd Course:
Farm Fresh Fall Salad with Endive, Pear, Grapes & Walnuts. Apple Cider Dressing
A side treat of:
Semolina Pizza with Mixed Veggies
Main Course:
Basmati Risotto with locally foraged Beartooth & Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, Baby Carrots, Celeriac & Tomato Confit

The little side treat of Semolina Pizza

Main Course

Local Wild Mushroom Risotto with Baby Vegetables and Tomato Confit

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes filled with Espresso Pastry Cream

We then returned home for these fantastic (not so low fat but still better than the regular) cupcakes.
Thank you Chef Geoffroy Deconinck and team at Natalie's for a perfect Birthday Dinner, I only wish some of the other restaurants in the Mid-coast would follow suit!


Word? Tomatoes!

When Hurricane Irene blew by I was out of town. Luckily my sister had come over before the storm and moved our car to a safe place, secured all of the windows and harvested any ripe veggies. Then our neighbor Sid came over and took down awnings, placed projectiles out of the way of the wind and double checked everything else battening down all that needed to be.

I was so worried about the garden but there was nothing I could do. I just kept my fingers crossed and vowed to never leave Appleton in the Summer again. Upon my return to our home, I found the yard littered with tomatoes which had blown off the vine. The plants were bent over and looked as though they had taken quite a beating. Bean supports were completely blown over and some tree limbs were down but fortunately we did not really have the impact many others to our south and west experienced. Everyday since I've returned, I have to pick tomatoes. They are ripening like crazy! 
What should I do with the tomatoes?

Red ones, yellow ones, orange too!

Big ones, small ones, green ones, whew!

Tomato or apple?

Heirloom on the vine
Paste tomatoes yet to ripe
 I do not have enough tomatoes to make a batch to "put-up" (yet) but I did manage to make a few jars of rustic salsa, one of which we have already enjoyed on nachos. I can't decide what to do with the green tomatoes. My first inclination would be Fried Green Tomatoes but I know that "fried" is not a nice word in the Whole Foods, Plant-Based Health genre so perhaps Green Tomato Salsa?? Any ideas?

California Salsa!!

I found the perfect recipe to satisfy my Fried Green Tomato craving!  I immediately found a recipe on Susan V's site Fat Free Vegan. As we are both lovers of southern cooking, I knew I could count on Susan to have developed a recipe for this Southern favorite. Hey, Why re-invent the wheel? I think I will try it tonight and perhaps top it with some of the California Salsa! Here is a link to the recipe FFV Fried Green Tomato Recipe.
You will love Fat Free Vegan blog and website, trust me :-)

Here is the recipe for the Rustic California Salsa I made:
1/2 Sweet Onion
1 -2 cloves garlic
1 -2 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded
juice of 1 lime
chopped cilantro to taste
1 t. roasted cumin
1 t. salt
6 or so Roma Tomatoes (or equivalent, I used a mix of lots of types and colors :-) cut into quarters.

Process first 7 ingredients in food processor or blender on the "pulse" until chopped, add tomatoes and pulse again until just mixed but still a bit chunky. Taste and adjust seasonings.


One Word Can Save Your Life: No!

New research shows how some common tests and procedures aren’t just expensive, but can do more harm than good.

 To read the rest of this article published in the August 14th Edition of Newsweek magazine, click here.

Thank you Dr. McDougall, for bringing this forward in your recent newsletter!

Sunshine Blueberry Muffins

Baby Robins Fledge the Nest!

Adult birds calling out in alarm.
fledgling robin in the bushes near the house

Blueberries ripe for the Picking - Time to make some Blueberry Muffins!!
Sunshine Blueberry Muffins

Gluten, Egg and Dairy Free!

From the looks of the last few entries on this blog, you might think that we only prepare baked goods here at The Leafy Cafe. I've been busy cooking the recipes from The Cancer's Survivor Guide so I have not prepared any main meals from my own collection of healthy Whole Foods recipes or anywhere else for that matter. The Cancer Survivor's Guide is the book that accompanies the curriculum I teach for prevention and survival of cancer and other disease. For a FREE PDF download of the CSG, click here.

Well, one last muffin recipe and then we will start to post some recipes for all of the nutrient dense Powerhouse veggies coming out of the garden every day!

You're looking at some fresh, potent medicine here!
Maine Wild Blueberry Farmer gives these the thumbs up!! I was so excited when I tasted these muffins that I ran out looking for one of my blueberry-farming neighbors here on the Ridge to try one. I found John Boyington, owner of Ridgeberry Farm.
"These muffins are really good!"

Farmer John Boyington with a mouthful of sunshine!

 John was taking a short break from picking when I cornered him with a muffin. I did not tell him they were basically fat free AND Gluten-Free until he smiled and said “these are really good”! At Ridgeberry Farm the entire family participates in the blueberry harvest operating the Fresh Pack Line. 
Boyington Family processing Wild Maine Blueberries

Ladies hard at work on the Fresh Pack Line

Looking at all of those Anti-oxidants

You might ask: what does a blueberry farmer do during the long Maine winters? John does amazing work helping the needy in countries such as Malawi. Please check out the Boyington's website here and the info and slide show to their work in Malawi here.

Sunshine Blueberry-Cornmeal Muffins Gluten-Free or not
1c. Gluten Free flour  (I used Bob’s Red Mills) OR use 1 c. WW Pastry Flour
1c. Gluten Free Cornmeal (or regular)
¼ c. Ground GF Oats or Oat Bran (I just had this on hand left from a batch of zucchini muffins)
1 t Xanthan Gum
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
½ c brown sugar
½ t ground ginger
¼ t salt
1 c. unsweetened applesauce
zest & juice of one lemon
¼ c. non-dairy milk (I used Oat Milk)
¼ c. pure maple syrup
1c. wild blueberries
1 T sm. Diced Crystal Ginger (optional) 
Method:  Preheat oven 350 F.

1.       Grease or spray a muffin tin or paper liners if using.
2.       In a large bowl, whisk flour, corn meal, oat bran, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ginger together until well combined.
3.       In a separate bowl, mix applesauce, non-dairy milk, lemon juice and maple then stir in sugar.
4.       Mix wet ingredients with dry until almost combined.*
5.       Add blueberries and crystal ginger if using, stirring until just combined. Spoon into muffin cups 3/4 full.
6.       Bake 15 to 20 minutes in convection oven, or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 * If you use a more coarse cornmeal, you could let the batter sit in the fridge for a while before adding the blueberries and crystal ginger. Let come back to room temp before baking.