Mindful Recipes

Macaroni and Cheese and Peas (vegetarian and vegan options)

This recipe grew from watching my mom make a cheese sauce hundreds of times. I never recorded it exactly, but it looks and tastes a lot like hers, especially if you use white wheat elbow pasta and orange sharp cheddar cheese.


  • ½ pound, approximately 2 to 3 cups, of elbow pasta or any other smallish, hollow pasta, white or whole wheat

  • Cheese Sauce (see below)

  • paprika to taste

  • breadcrumbs (optional)

  • 1 cup frozen peas


  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine

  • ¾ cup milk or heavy cream

  • 4 to 5 ounces grated cheese. I prefer to use organic sharp cheddar, but you can use anything that has some sharpness to it. salt, nutmeg, and/or paprika to taste

  • “CHEESE” SAUCE (VEGAN): 1 tablespoon Earth Balance or other vegan margarine

  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • ¾ cup soy, almond, or rice milk, unsweetened

  • 4 to 5 ounces shredded Daiya soy cheese or other vegan cheese

  • salt, nutmeg, and/or paprika to taste


Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make sauce as follows: Melt butter/margarine in a medium saucepan.

Lower heat and add flour slowly, stirring with a fork until blended.

Slowly add milk or nondairy alternative and heat until almost, but not quite, boiling, stirring regularly.

Add most, but not all, cheese, one handful at a time, stirring constantly until sauce is thick and creamy.

Add spices to taste.

Mix sauce with the cooked pasta and pour into a casserole dish.

Cover with extra cheese.

If desired, sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly hot and lightly browned.

Boil the frozen peas according to instructions on the package, and allow to drain.

Serve pasta with peas.

Serves 4.

Mom’s Apple Crisp (vegan)

This is the dessert that my mom made most often at home—she gave me the recipe when I moved out of our house and I continue to make it for my family. It’s easy and delicious. Mom made it with white sugar and “oleo” (ordinary margarine), but I suggest turbine sugar or maple syrup and soy margarine instead. The amount of topping ingredients can vary greatly depending on how much topping you like on your crisp.


  • 4 to 5 apples: Granny Smith, or others with some tartness

  • 1 to 1½ cups unbleached white flour or ½ cup flour and 1 cup rolled oats

  • 1½ to 2 cups turbinado sugar or ¾ to 1 cup maple syrup

  • 2/3 cup vegan margarine

  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon salt


Peel the apples if you prefer skinless applesauce.

Core and slice the apples into medium-sized wedges.

Place apples into 9 x 12 baking dish until · full.

Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons water and cinnamon over apples.

Mix together flour, or flour and oat mixture, and salt.

Add sugar (or syrup). Note that if you use maple syrup, the consistency of the topping may be mushy, but it will dry out in the oven.

Crumble topping onto apples.

Chop the margarine into flakes and add over the topping.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until liquid is bubbling and top is lightly browned.

Serves 9 to 12.

Yo’s Dumplings

These are the dumplings that helped me relearn how to enjoy food. Yo made his Chin family recipe for us in his one-bedroom apartment across the hall from mine when we were in graduate school together at the University of Michigan. They are time-consuming, but that’s all part of the process. It gave us more time to hang out together in the kitchen. Learning how to be patient in preparing and eating food was something I eventually learned, but I had difficulty back then. When he comes to visit us in DC, we sometimes coerce him into making them with our whole family.


  • dumpling skins, either buy at the store (a package of approximately 50 skins) OR make by hand as follows (check out FoodTube videos for tips on making):

  • 3 cups flour

  • 1 cup hot tap water

  • teaspoon of salt


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar

  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil


Mix all three ingredients together with a fork or whisk.


Add the flour to a mixing bowl and add the water.

Mix by hand or in a food processor. Let rest from 30 minutes to 2 hours, until dough is smooth and pliable.

Divide in half and roll out a rope length.

Split into small walnut size balls and flatten.

Roll into discs using a rolling pin, approximately 3 inches in diameter.


  • 7- to 8- ounce package of spiced or ¯avored ´rm tofu. Five Spice or Teriyaki works well. Plain is fine if you can’t find spiced. Drain the water from the package, then press the tofu with a heavy plate or squeeze it between paper towels to get rid of all the excess water.

  • 3 to 4 Napa cabbage leaves, large outer ones

  • 4 ounces of Chinese garlic chives, or regular chives if you can’t find the Chinese ones

  • 4 to 5 shiitake mushrooms

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 2 slices fresh ginger

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil


Finely julienne the cabbage leaves.

Chop the chives into tiny pieces.

Chop the tofu and mushrooms into small pieces.

Mince the garlic and ginger.

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a nonstick wok, and add the ginger and garlic.

Add the remaining ingredients and sauté until the vegetables wilt and the mix dries somewhat.

Add the beaten eggs and soy sauce, and just barely cook (eggs are the binder).

Transfer to a bowl, add sesame oil, mix, and let cool.

Add 1 heaping teaspoon of filling to each dumpling skin, leaving enough dough to enclose the dumpling.

Pleat the dumpling (refer to the FoodTube video), or simply pinch the skin closed, pierogi-style.

Set it aside on a floured surface, and repeat until all the skins are filled.

Heat the remaining oil, and add the dumplings in batches to cook.

Let dumplings cook until bottoms are lightly browned.

Add 1 cup water and cover.

Cook over high to medium-high heat until most of the water evaporates.

Remove cover and let the remaining water evaporate.

Carefully use a spatula to release the dumplings, and turn oŸ the burner. Serve with dipping sauce.

Makes approximately 40 dumplings.

Seitan Gyro a la Olga’s Kitchen (vegan)

Olga’s gyro was my absolute favorite food for many years while growing up. I later enjoyed lamb gyro when visiting Greece, which was even tastier. To replace the meat, I found a recipe for a Seitan gyro in Jo Stepaniak’s book Vegan Vittles: Down-Home Cooking for Everyone. I adapted it over the years to get closer and closer to my own memory of Olga’s classic lamb gyro. is is a favorite of mine served with rice or pita.


  • 4 ounces seitan strips

  • ½ cup water

  • ¼ cup soy sauce

  • ½ teaspoon powdered garlic

  • 1 teaspoon oregano whole wheat or white pita bread


  • red onion, chopped finely

  • tomatoes, chopped finely

  • plain vegan yogurt (e.g., Wildwood)


Drain the seitan strips, rinse, and pat dry.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Place the seitan in the skillet and stir until browned on all sides.

Mix together the water, soy sauce, and oregano.

Once the seitan is brown, add the soy sauce mixture, turn heat to low, and cover.

Let simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

Serve in pita pockets with the toppings you like.

Serves 4.

Homemade Almond Milk (vegan)

I make almond (or other nut) milk every few days because I think it’s much tastier than store bought; it is fresh, frothy, and has no additives or preservatives. I use it in coŸffee, tea, in recipes and smoothies, or on granola and other dry cereals. My daughters love it and have learned how to make it. e downside is that it will only keep 3 to 7 days in refrigerators (use quickly!) and the cultivation of almond trees uses up a lot of precious water, especially in California. So I started playing with making milk from whatever nuts are most conveniently available. I happened upon a huge bag of raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and to my great surprise, they worked great in this recipe. I added a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon to the final milk. Yum.


  • 1 cup raw organic almonds, rinsed thoroughly, then soaked in fresh filtered water for 3 to 12 hours (or use pumpkin seeds, cashews, or experiment with other nuts)

  • 3 cups fresh filtered water

  • 4 fresh dates

  • cheesecloth or nut bag

Retreat-Style Oatmeal (vegan)

I learned how versatile oatmeal was when attending mindfulness retreats. Now I eat it all the time, and whenever we have guests staying with us in the winter, I mix up a big pot of it and set out whatever toppings I have so they can personalize their own breakfast.

It’s so easy to make and perfect to carry with you if you have to be out of the house early. I sometimes prepare this before going to our 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning meditation group. It gets cold and stiffŸ while I’m sitting (and so do I!) and I warm it up by mixing in a few tablespoons of very hot or boiling water.

You can add almost anything to oatmeal and it still tastes good. My favorite additions are below, but don’t let me stop you from adding any- thing sweet, salty, or even hot (like spicy cinnamon). I always add some kind of nuts or nut butter because the protein keeps me from getting hungry before lunch. Fresh or dried fruit adds the sweet flavor. Mix and enjoy!

Oatmeal generally comes in three varieties—quick-cooking, regular, and steel cut. is recipe is for regular oats, but if you want denser oatmeal, you can use steel cut, which takes about 20 minutes to cook. Quick-cooking oats aren’t really necessary since regular oats only take a few minutes to cook on the stove. Follow the recipe on the back of the box to prepare quick-cooking or steel-cut varieties. (Soaking the oats overnight can cut down on the time needed for cooking in the morning.)


  • 1/3 cup (organic) regular cut oats (gluten-free oats are often available in whole foods markets)

  • 2/3 cup liquid (water, or water mixed with homemade almond milk for creamier oats)

  • dash of salt

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted peanut butter or almond butter

  • 1 tablespoon your favorite nuts, chopped into small pieces

  • 1 tablespoon raisins (or other dried fruits, chopped into small pieces)


If preparing in advance, allow the oats to soak in the liquid overnight.

Add the oats and liquid to a small saucepan. Add the salt and partially cover. (Covering completely may cause the oat- meal to boil over.)

Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and let simmer mostly covered for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed.

Cover fully and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes.

Spoon into your bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Enjoy!

For a weekend breakfast or brunch, add a serving of vegan sausage, like Gimme Lean Sausage or Smart Sausages by Lightlife.

Pancakes with Maple Syrup and/or Nut Butter (vegan option)

I have probably cooked more pancakes than any other food in my life. To this day, certain young adults raised on my pancakes expect them to be served whenever they are staying at the house. Though I haven’t always made the vegan version, it’s very difficult to tell the difference between the vegan and non-vegan versions, especially when they are ƒfilled with blueberries or chocolate and drenched in delicious maple syrup.


  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed into 3 tablespoons water; or 1 egg if not vegan

  • 1 cup flour (unbleached white is nice, or 1/2 cup white and 1/2 cup wheat)

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar 1 cup almond milk (see my almond milk recipe)

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons grapeseed, coconut, walnut, or canola oil vegan butter or almond butter maple syrup


  • blueberries, frozen or fresh chocolate chips or cut up dark chocolate


Mix the flax seeds and water and let sit; or beat the egg.

Heat the oil on a griddle or large frying pan until water dropped onto the pan sizzles.

Sift together the dry ingredients.

Mix the vinegar into the almond milk.

Add the almond milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir very gently, mixing only until all the flour has been absorbed. Some lumps are okay.

Scoop about ¾ cup of batter and pour it gently onto the hot griddle or pan.

If adding blueberries or chocolate bits, sprinkle them into batter while on the griddle, amount to your liking.

Let cook until bottom is browned and batter starts to bubble. Flip and cook other side for several minutes until brown.

Spread ƒfinished pancakes with vegan butter or almond butter (adds protein), drizzle with maple syrup, and enjoy!

Makes approximately 10 smallish pancakes.

Stir-Fried Kale (vegan)

I tend to eat stir-fried greens nearly once every day. Sometimes I have them for breakfast, but most often at lunch or dinner. They are delicious, warming, and very healthy. Choose whichever greens are in season in your area. Some of my favorites are mustard greens (spicy), spinach (sweet), kale, chard, and collard greens (earthy). I usually only add salt because I ƒfind that additional seasoning tends to detract from the natural flavors. Make sure you use them before their impermanence starts to show and they turn yellow or brown!


  • 1 bunch kale or other greens

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive or other oil that can handle high heat

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)

  • salt to taste, approximately ½ teaspoon

  • pepper to taste (optional)


Prepare the greens: wash and dry them. Take out the hard stalks that you ƒfind at the end of mustard greens, chard, kale and collards. e roots of spinach can be cut oŸ, but the stems of spinach can be left on. Once the ƒfibrous stems are offŸ, cut the greens cross-wise in slightly larger than bite size pieces; they will shrink in the cooking.

Heat a large skilled over medium to high heat.

Add the oil to the skillet, and let it warm up until it just begins to smoke. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the greens, and immediately begin to stir with a wooden spoon.

Keep the greens moving as they begin to wilt. Spinach takes only 1 minute to cook; some of the heartier greens may take several minutes. Don’t stop stirring until they are cooked.

Remove the skillet from the heat and add salt.

Serve immediately.

Serves approximately 4 to 5.

Microgreen Salad with Peanuts (vegan)

If you want to try enjoying vegetable chopping, make yourself this very simple yet delicious salad. You can throw pretty much anything in it, and the raisins, peanuts, and dressing give it a sweet, salty, and sour taste, which I fid very satisfying.


  • 8 to 10 large leaves of romaine lettuce

  • 2 handfuls microgreens, if available

  • 1/4 cup sliced or chopped red onions

  • Any other chopped vegetables that you like to eat raw such as carrots, cauliflower, radishes, or broccoli

  • 1/4 cup raisins (black or golden)

  • 1/4 cup salted peanuts, locally grown (if you happen to live near or in the South as I do)


Wash and rinse romaine and microgreens.

Chop or rip romaine leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add with microgreens to a large bowl.

Top with red onions, raisins, and peanuts.

Dress with Easy Oil and Vinegar dressing (see my recipe).

Serves 2 people as an appetizer or one hungry person.

Easy Oil and Vinegar Dressing (vegan)


  • 3 tablespoons olive or other oil

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic, fig, or other vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons red onion minced into tiny pieces

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoons agave syrup salt and pepper to taste


Mix all the dressing ingredients in an empty glass jar (or whisk with a fork in a bowl).

Cover the jar and shake gently until all ingredients are mixed, or about 5 times.

Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes if possible, or you can use it immediately if need be. The longer the ingredients are together, the more flavorful the dressing will become.

Use on salad. Then cover and store the remainder in the refrigerator.

Serves 4 to 6.

Simple Chickpea Stew (vegan)

Although it’s not as special as the delicious Vietnamese herbed soups and stews we had in Plum Village, this one is pretty good and very simple to make. You can whip this up for dinner in only a few minutes.


  • 2 tablespoons oil (I like to use olive oil.)

  • 1/2 onion, peeled and diced

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

  • 2 teaspoons cumin

  • 15 ounces fire-roasted tomatoes (1 can)

  • 1 cup spinach or kale (frozen or fresh)

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas

METHOD: In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil.

Once it’s hot, add the onion and sauté until clear and beginning to brown.

Add tomatoes, including juice, and the spices.

Cook just until it boils, then reduce heat to simmer and add greens and chickpeas.

Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over the grain of your choice.

Serves 4.

Beets on Hummus (vegan)

My friend Gisele Theriault introduced me to this delicious beet salad.


  • 2 cups edamame (fresh or frozen), shelled

  • juice of 2 lemons

  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tahini

  • 1 tablespoon olive, or similar, oil salt to taste


  • 1 tablespoon olive, or similar, oil

  • 4 beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch squares

  • 1/4 cup roasted pine nuts (to roast, heat small pan on medium heat, add pine nuts, and stir or flip until lightly browned)

  • 1 cup arugula or arugula sprouts pumpkin seed oil (optional)


Defrost edamame.

Combine the edamame, juice of 1 lemon, garlic, tahini, 1 tablespoon of oil, and salt in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth and fully mixed.

Add water or extra olive oil as you blend to reach the desired consistency.


Boil the beets for 20 minutes in water, then let cool to room temperature.

Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon onto the beets and toss.

Spread the hummus on the plate, about ½ inch thick.

Drizzle the pumpkin seed oil on the hummus if desired.

Put the beets on top of the hummus.

Circle the dish with arugula and sprinkle on the pine nuts over the top.

Serves 4.

St. Mary’s Red Lentil Patties (vegan)

I learned to make this dish from the Armenian women at St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church in Washington, DC. During Lent they have an annual bazaar and food festival at which they serve only vegetarian food, including rice pilaf, cheese boreg (triangles), lentil soup, hummus, and these amazing red lentil patties. One year I decided to see if my Armenian genes would help me learn to make some of the delicious dishes. I volunteered to come the morning before the bazaar to make hundreds of lentil patties. It was great fun, and now I make these patties for my family and myself whenever I like. ere was no written recipe, so I scribbled notes when I wasn’t forming patties, and adapted it for a few hundred fewer people, replacing the butter with Earth Balance.


  • 2 cups dry red lentils

  • 2 cups fine bulgur

  • 4 cups water

  • ½ onion, finely chopped

  • 4 teaspoons cumin

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 teaspoons pepper

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, Earth Balance, or other vegan margarine


  • paprika parsley (about ½ cup)

  • scallions (I use about 10.)


Place the lentils in a large pot with the 4 cups of water.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer.

Cover, and simmer until lentils are soft, around 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegan margarine in a frying pan over medium heat.

Add onions and cook until onions are soft and translucent, stirring constantly.

Add bulgur and onions to the lentils.

Turn oŸ heat, add spices, and stir.

When the mixture is cool enough to be handled, mold into patties about the size of a small burger, and place on serving plate.

Garnish with paprika, parsley, and scallions. Serve at room temperature.

Makes about 16 to 20 patties.

Baked Pears (vegan)

This dessert, like those we had in Morocco, Ecuador, and Greece, isn’t too sweet. You can add more maple syrup if you’d like, but if the pears are ripe, I find it sweet enough without any syrup at all.


  • 4 pears, peeled and cored

  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance) per pear

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup per pear salt cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pears on baking sheet with a few sprinkles of water.

Place 1 tablespoon of margarine on each pear.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of maple syrup on each pear.

Add a dash of salt and a sprinkle of cinnamon on each pear.

Bake until pears are soft all the way through, about 10 minutes.

Serves 4.

Easy Peasy (vegan)

This vegetable stew is delicious and colorful, a treat for all of the senses. It’s also very easy and quick to make.


  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 medium carrot, diced

  • 1 large fresh tomato or canned equivalent, chopped

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin salt, pepper, and cayenne, to taste


Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Add onion and cook until transparent.

Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add carrots. Cook until they start to soften, stirring regularly.

Stir in tomatoes with juices. If needed, add à cup water.

Add all spices, and let simmer for several minutes.

Add frozen peas.

Turn heat down to low and barely simmer until flavors are blended (about 5 to 10 minutes) and you are ready to enjoy.

Serves 3 to 4 (unless you eat plantains like me, and then: Serves 1).

Olimpia’s Homemade Applesauce (vegan)

My friend and yoga teacher Olimpia Lee assisted in the kitchen at one of my mindfulness retreats, and we had bought way too many apples. With those that were left, she whipped up a batch of delicious homemade apple- sauce. Served cold, it is perfect for dessert on a summer evening. In the winter, heat it up or add it to your oatmeal.


  • 4 pounds organic apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths (sweeter varieties work best)

  • 1 cup water juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Puree the apples with the water in a blender or food processor. Add more water if necessary.

Add apple puree and the rest of the ingredients to a large pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover.

Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve warm with love.

Serves 10.

Fried Plantains (vegan)

This is the recipe I ƒfinally ƒfigured out that makes delicious sweet plantains. Be sure to be patient with the ripening process. I like them as a sweet dessert, but some people use them more like potatoes as a savory side dish.


  • 1 to 2 plantains, fully ripe, dark brown on the outside and soft on the inside

  • coconut, peanut, canola, or similar oil for cooking


Slice the plantains diagonally.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

Once the oil is hot, add the plantains. Let them brown on one side, flip them and brown on the other side, about 3 to 5 minutes each side.

Eat plain, or sprinkle cinnamon and drizzle with honey or maple syrup.

Serves 2.

Camille’s Mushroom Barley Soup (vegan)

Camille, who’s been my friend for more than twenty years, loves to cook for other people. Maybe it’s her Italian heritage, or maybe it’s because she comes from a family of eleven kids. She says that preparing food for her family and friends is more meaningful than any material gifts she could give them. Cooking for others reminds her of the fact that she has the means to cook healthy food, so it makes her feel grateful. And she makes food that she enjoys and wants to share with her loved ones. She says, “In a way it goes from my heart and stomach to theirs.” She makes me a pot of this soup whenever I’m sick in bed or I just need some love.


  • 1 cup uncooked pearled barley

  • 8 to 9 cups vegetable broth, canned, boxed, or homemade olive oil

  • 2 onions, chopped

  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 8 to 16 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

  • one large bag (or bag and a half) of fresh loose spinach

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 bay leaf fresh thyme (optional)


Sauté the onions and chopped garlic in olive oil on medium-low heat until about halfway cooked or transparent.

Add the cleaned and sliced mushrooms.

Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook until mushrooms and onions are thoroughly cooked, even crisp.

In a large soup pot, add broth, mushrooms/onions, garlic, bay leaf, spinach, salt and pepper, barley, and thyme (if including), and bring to a boil on medium heat.

Turn heat down to simmer and cook with the top on until barley is tender (anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes).

If it’s too thick, add more broth—if not thick enough, add some precooked barley.

Serves 8 to 10.

Warming Sweet Potato Chickpeas à la Jon & Jim (vegan)

My nephews Jon and Jim are both vegetarians who love to cook and share vegetarian recipes. Jon was with us at Plum Village during the heat-wave summer. is dish was taught to me by Jim, who learned it from Jon. It’s destined to be a family recipe for generations, and it’s delicious.


  • 1 medium sweet potato peeled and diced into bite-sized cubes

  • 1 can chickpeas (15 ounces)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

  • 1 small bunch spinach (optional) salt to taste cayenne pepper to taste optional: sauté

  • 1 small onion, very thinly sliced, and add it to the sweet potato cubes


Gently and slowly roast cumin seeds, coriander, and salt in medium nonstick skillet at medium-high heat until they begin to give oŸ a nice aroma.

Add olive oil and sweet potato cubes and mix well, until sweet potatoes are coated with the cumin mixture.

Cover completely and reduce heat to low-medium.

Stir the sweet potatoes often and cook them until they’re soft (about 30 minutes).

Drain and add chickpeas. Mix well.

If adding spinach, wash it and add to the pan. Stir and cover until spinach is just wilted.

Serve with the grain of your choice, and sprinkle cayenne as desired for heat.

Serves 2 to 3.

Sangha Potluck Tofu (vegan)

This is the perfect simple dish to make when going to a vegetarian pot-luck with your admirable friends. It’s full of protein, which is something that most veggie potlucks are in need of, but it’s also just really good and satisfying. Get crazy with the marinade. My Sangha friend David always uses Soy Vay.


  • 14 ounces extra firm tofu

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon olive, sesame, or other oil


  • Ginger teriyaki sauce, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, or any favorite marinade


Drain and dry the tofu.

Cut the tofu into slices or cubes.

Marinade the tofu for 5 minutes to 1 hour or overnight.

Coat the bottom of a saucepan with oil on medium-high heat.

Place the tofu in the pan and cook it until it’s brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Flip the tofu and brown other side.

Top with the remaining marinade and serve.

Serves 6.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries (vegan)

This is one of Veronica’s favorite foods —she likes them made with simply olive oil and salt.


  • 3 sweet potatoes, cut into strips

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive or other oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, cumin, Old Bay Seasoning, pepper, or other seasonings as you like

  • 1 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Wash and cut sweet potatoes into strips.

Place sweet potato strips in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and any other spices you choose. Mix well.

Spread the sweet potato strips on a baking sheet so they’re not touching.

Bake in the top half of the oven for 20 minutes, or until brown and soft.

Serves 4 to 6.

Grandma’s Homemade Bread (vegan option)

This recipe is based on the original given to me while I watched my Grandma baking it only a few months before she passed away in 1989. My memory of watching her bake is very precious. Her kitchen was simple, and she rolled and kneaded her bread right on her old kitchen table. She worked consciously and always had a sweet smile on her face. She was slightly embarrassed by all my questions. To her, making bread was some- thing anyone could do. I hope you ƒfind that sense of ease carried forward from my grandma as you bake it for yourself and your family. Honey isn’t technically vegan, so I have offered a substitute. Do what makes you feel comfortable.


  • 5 cups hot water

  • 1 heaping tablespoon salt

  • 8 to 10 cups unbleached white flour

  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) margarine (Grandma used Fleischmann’s. I use Earth Balance soy margarine or real butter.)

  • 1/2 cup honey or agave syrup

  • 2 packages quick-rising yeast

  • 1/8 cup dry milk (for vegan version, use nutritional yeast or leave out)


Combine the water, salt, and margarine, and let stand until the margarine is melted and the water is room temperature.

Add the yeast to the water mixture. Let stand a few more minutes until bubbly. (Note: If it doesn’t get bubbly, the yeast may be too old. Try again with new yeast.)

Sift together nutritional yeast with a small amount of §our and mix into the liquids.

Continue adding §our until the dough becomes thick. en beat it by hand or with a Kitchen Aid or other heavy-duty mixer.

Keep adding §our until you can’t add any more.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface, like a countertop.

Knead the dough and continue adding §our until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball.

Grease a large bowl and place the ball of dough into the bowl. Flip the dough over so both sides are greased.

Cover the bowl with a towel, and leave in a warm place for the dough to rise, until it’s about double its original size. is may take 2 to 4 hours.

Punch the dough down everywhere on its surface. Flip it over and let it rise again, another 2 to 4 hours.

Take the dough out of the bowl and cut it into 5 pieces.

Roll out each piece like a snake; tuck the ends under, and place into a greased bread pan.

Cover and let it rise one more time.

Bake on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

The bread is done when it has browned and when knocking it on the bottom makes a hollow sound.

Makes 5 to 6 loaves.