Category Archives: soy free

Creamy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

I used to follow football and some how I’ve drifted away from it in recent years. However, I’m still a bandwagon Superbowl enthusiast.  I don’t even need to watch the game, I usually just come for the food.  What can I say, I just love foods that encourage you to eat with your fingers, and Superbowl parties tend to offer that opportunity.

Right now, I’m basically just using this Sunday’s Superbowl 50 game with the Panthers vs the Broncos as an excuse to finally post a new recipe for spinach and artichoke dip.  This is one that I came up with over Christmas. It was a huge hit at a gathering I hosted so I promised that I would share the recipe. Though the party was filled with all vegan guests, every single one of them said that if they didn’t know the dip was vegan they would have seriously questioned it.

While not as healthy as my other spinach and artichoke dip, this one is super satisfying and very reminiscent of classic cheesy dips. It’s the perfect dip to share with your omnivore friends, on special occasions, of course.

This recipe utilizes some of my favorite non-dairy cheese substitutes, but if you can’t find these particular brands, or have your own favorites, feel free to substitute. For mozzarella, I use Follow Your Heart’s soy free Vegan Gourmet Shreds, which can be found at Whole Foods Markets, Follow Your Heart Market in Canoga Park, CA, as well as other natural foods stores. My favorite vegan cream cheese is Kite Hill, which can found exclusively at Whole Foods Markets.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach artichoke dip
Serves 8 to 12 people
2 bags spinach, chopped and wilted
2 cans artichoke hearts, quartered
½ cup Cashews, soaked
½ cup water
4 Oz vegan cream cheese*
3/4 cup vegan mozzarella shreds, divided
4 cloves garlic
½ tsp salt
Dash cayenne, or more to taste
2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1. Rinse spinach under cool water, drain, but leave damp. Add to a pan over medium heat, cover until wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Squeeze out as much water as possible with the back of a spoon and set aside in a mixing bowl.
2. Combine 1/2 cup mozzarella shreds, along with remaining ingredients, except spinach and artichoke, in a blender and process until smooth.
3. Pour mixture over the spinach in the mixing bowl. Add in artichokes and remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella. Stir well to combine.
4. Transfer to a 8 inch casserole dish, or a bread bowl. Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Mixture should thicken slightly.

*If you cannot find vegan cream cheese, or prefer not to use it, sub with an extra 1/4 cup of cashews and 2 Tablespoons water or non-dairy milk.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Summer Succotash with Okra

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen corn making its way into the grocery stores and farmers market, and have caught a few glimpses of okra as well.  The okra is a little early as it usually comes into peak season around August or early September, but seeing it alongside corn inspired me to take advantage of this colliding of the seasons.

Succotash isn’t something I regularly eat these days, but I hold a fondness of it from childhood.

If you’ve never had or heard of succotash, it is a traditional Native American dish typically made with corn and lima beans or other shell beans, and may be combined with a variety of other summer ingredients like peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes. The name is derived from the indigenous people from Narragansett (now Rhode Island) who referred to m’sickquatash, meaning “boiled whole ear of corn”, or something along those lines.


Naturally vegan and gluten free, Succotash is typically a side dish, but may be transformed into a hearty entree with beans.

When making succotash with okra, I find the best flavor and texture comes from pan searing the okra first. This okra cooking technique helps to cut down on the slime you may get if you stir your okra too much or allow it to be exposed to too much moisture while sautéing.


Summer Succotash with Okra

Serves 2 – 4.
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pound okra, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 or 2 ears corn, kernels cut off and cobs
8 ounces fresh beans (baby lima beans,
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes (about 1/2 pint), halved
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a wide pan over medium heat. Pan sear okra until browned on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Heat remaining olive oil in pan and add onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in corn, jalapeno, fresh beans, and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes.

3. Return okra to pan stir in vinegar. Remove from heat, add basil, salt, and pepper, and adjust seasonings, to taste. Serve.


Easy Sugar Free Homemade Granola

With our wedding less than six months away, we have been immersed in planning from practically the moment we got engaged. It’s been so much fun, and so far not too stressful.  We were able to secure the venue we wanted, which was the first big step. Now, we are trying to fill in all the big details before we even start to think about the little ones. I know once we get all the bigger things locked in, I’ll feel even less on edge.

For the last few days, I’ve been listening to dance music almost non-stop in preparation of hiring a DJ. I want a good sense of what kind of songs I want to shake my booty to come the big day, get an idea of what friends and family may be in to, and also know what “popular” dance songs we’ll want on a “don’t play” list. I’m listening to everything throughout the decades and loving it. I usually listen to classical music on Spotify while I write and more folky music, like the Ani DiFranco Pandora station, when I cook so it’s been a big change of pace. I kind of like it!

This week, since work was a little slow, I decided to spend some more time in my own kitchen making meals for the week for Jacques and myself. It was nice to actually stock my own fridge full of food just like I do for my clients. More food in the fridge of course means fewer meals out, especially for Jacques who usually buys his lunch. I think he may possibly be Foursquare Mayor of Native Foods, that’s how often he eats there. The small ways to save money are nice right now while we’re planning a big event.

In thinking of gifts for out of town guests, I had the idea that it may be fun to make them something non-perishable to eat.  I’d created a granola recipe for Jacques a few months ago that was gluten free, sugar free, delicious and nutritious.  We’ll see if I have time to prepare this come time for guests to arrive, but it would be a great snack for them to eat for breakfast at their hotel, or even pack for the flight home.

Granola Bowl by Christine Oppenheim

Unsweetened Granola Recipe

Makes about 8 cups granola


1 ½ Cup unsweetened apple sauce

2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ Cup buckwheat groats

2 1/2 Cups rolled oats

1 ½ Tablespoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon cardamom

½ Cup pumpkin seeds

1 Cup walnuts, chopped

¼ Cup sesame seeds

1 Cup dried fruit (dried cherries, goji berries, raisins, or a mix)

2 Tablespoons ground flax

2 Tablespoons chia seed

granola ingredients by Christine Oppenheim


1. Preheat oven to 300.

2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment (you may need two, depending on size).

3. Combine all the liquid ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients, except for dried fruit, flax and chia. Pour wet into dry and stir until well coated. Spread in a single layer onto baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.

4. At the end of 30 minutes, remove from oven and fold in dried fruit. Bake for another 30 minutes, until crisp. Stir in chia seed and flax. Allow to cool, then transfer to an air tight container.

 bowl of granloa by Christine Oppenheim

raw watermelon radish ravioli

Raw Watermelon Radish Ravioli

When I was in culinary school at Bauman College, we didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on raw foods, but the few uncooking sessions we did do really left an impression. It was during my raw foods class that I learned the true magic of food manipulation; the way you could take a vegetable and transform it into something different and special.

Thinking about recipes for Valentine’s Day, I knew I wanted to share something different. I was drawn to the idea of watermelon radish because of its elegant pink hue, perfect to be showcased on a plate intended for love.

watermelon radish

But if you’d rather not buy into all that hokey, commercial V-Day *rap, the inside of a watermelon radish is visually stunning, and they are loaded with health benefits. Radish have been used medicinally since as far back as Ancient China and are chock full of vitamin C and anti-oxidants to combat those free radicals roaming around your body trying to get you sick or diseased.

I came across this popular Chinese proverb that I love –  “Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees.”

What’s especially great about watermelon radish, aside from many of them coming in the perfect size to make ravioli, is that they are less pungent and peppery than other radish varieties. The milder flavor allows for the taste of your filling to shine through and really be enjoyed. In this case, I used an amazingly decadent pine nut and macadamia raw ricotta.

Should you not be convinced that radish can be somewhat sweet and delicious, or you’re just not a big fan, you can substitute. Beets and turnips are the best replacements. You would give them the same treatment as the radish.

Prep the Raw “Pasta”


To prep the radish for ravioli, thinly slice into rounds using a mandoline or V-slicer to create your “pasta”. You’ll want the slices to be as thin as possible. Place slices in a medium bowl and coat with a few sprinkles of sea salt and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I like to give each slice a little rub to make sure it is fully covered. Allow them to soak while you prepare your filling.


Make the Cheese Filling


Nut Cheese Ricotta


1 Tablespoon pine nuts

1/4 Cup macadamia nuts

1/8 tsp sea salt

1 – 2 cloves garlic

lemon juice, to taste

1/4 cup water, if needed

1 Tablespoon minced parsley, plus more for garnish


Add nuts, salt and garlic to a food processor or blender. Pulse until fairly smooth, adding water a little at a time, if needed to keep blades moving. You want it to be thick and creamy, not runny. Add lemon juice to taste (I use just a splash, but if you like it tarter, add more) and stir in parsley.


Assemble Ravioli 

Raw Ravioli Filling

Remove radish slices from their marinade and lay on a flat surface – a cutting board works great. Add about a teaspoon of cheese to the center of each radish slice.

Now you have two options:

1. You can fold your ravioli over the cheese to create half moons.


2. You can layer another slice of radish over the top for full circle ravioli.

I usually opt for the latter.

Arrange ravioli onto individual plates for serving, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a sprinkle of parsley. You may also choose to use a sundried tomato sauce, cashew sauce, or reduced balsamic, if desired. I find the flavors to be complex enough that I like to enjoy it as simply as possible.

Plated_ravioli_2 copy



Do you plan to make this ravioli? Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What are you planning to prepare or enjoy with someone you love this weekend? 

Leave a comment below! 

Sweet Potato Nachos

We all have our weaknesses when it comes to food. Am I right? The weakness is usually the one food that you know you shouldn’t be eating, but find oh so irresistible, that you just can’t say no. It’s the food that every now and then, even though you know you may pay for it later, you will indulge in for that moment of sensory pleasure. Heck, you may even have more than one food that makes you feel this way.

My number one weakness has always been nachos.  There’s just something about the gooeyness of the cheese, the spice of the salsa, the cool creaminess of the avocado, and the crunchy saltiness of the chips that make my tastebuds flutter. Just reading about nachos on a menu gets me salivating like no other food can do.

When my overall desire to eat healthier got in the way of indulgences like this, my occasional foray into a plate of nachos became less and less frequent. (And trust me! Corn chips are harsh enough on a normal digestive system that they can be brutal for anyone suffering from IBD or IBS. Just think about scraping your knee and instead of rubbing aloe on it to heal, you use sandpaper.)

Of course, it’d be inhuman to think that I don’t give in every now and then. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I am eating perfectly healthy 100% of the time. Anyone who has seen my instagram feed knows that I like to enjoy what I eat, within reason. It did get me a while to get to this point, but these days as long as I am eating clean 80-90% of the time, it allows me that extra 10-20% to satisfy a craving, without too much physical (or emotional) repercussion.

Whenever I can enjoy a healthier version of a favorite “treat food”, I nearly dance with joy.

With Super Bowl just a day away and the thought of all the fried, greasy, salty, spicy foods that tend to come along with it, it’s peaked my desire for nachos even more. After seeing Jackie of post a recipe for Buffalo Chickpea Nachos, I was done for!

I knew I needed to create a healthy vegan nacho version of my own that would be game day friendly. I had sweet potatoes on hand and thus I was inspired. You can be healthy and have your nachos too!

Vegan Sweet Potato Nachos


 What You’ll Need for Toppings 

1 medium avocado or guacamole

Salsa (recipe follows or use your favorite)

Vegan Sour Cream (recipe follows)

Vegan cheese (use your favorite, or make a cashew cheese using recipe below)

Black or pinto beans (seasoned with 1/4 teaspoon cumin, onion powder, smoked paprika, chipotle powder, coriander, a dash of salt and cayenne and a splash of lime juice)

Fresh jalapeno

Green onion

For the “chips” 


1 large sweet potato or yam, thinly sliced

1/2 Tablespoon oil

1/4 teaspoon each – ground cumin, onion powder, smoked paprika

dash cayenne

large pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 450.

Combine everything in a bowl and toss to coat potato slices. Lay in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes on each side, until crisp, watching so that they do not burn around the edges. I recommend checking every 5 minutes or so and rotating the baking sheet.

Vegan Sweet Potato Nachos

To Assemble 

Arrange sweet potato chips on a plate, or an oven safe dish.

Sprinkle shredded vegan cheese, or pour cheese sauce over chips.  If you are using a cheese that requires melting, place in oven for 5 to 10 minutes until melted.

Remove from oven. Scatter black beans over the plate, spoon some salsa on as well. Finish it off with sour cream and avocado or guacamole, then garnish with green onions and cilantro.

Cashew Sour Cream and Cheese Sauce 

Makes about 1 Cup


1/2 Cup cashews, soaked at least 30 minutes

1/2 Cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt


Combine milk and vinegar let sit for about five minutes.  Add milk mixture, nuts and salt to a blender and blend until smooth. Add more milk if needed for a thinner consistency.

To make cashew cheese sauce, divide the sour cream and set some aside. Keep remaining cream in blender and add a couple tablespoons more milk, 1 to 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, another 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon chipotle and a dash of cayenne and blend until smooth.

Easy Roasted Tomato Salsa 

Makes about 1/2 Cup


2 medium roma tomatoes

1 clove garlic

juice for 1/2 a lime

1/2 jalapeno, or 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (adjust to your heat level)

salt and pepper to taste


Cut tomatoes into quarters and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in oven while roasting the sweet potatoes, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until softened and browned on bottom. Transfer to food processor or blender, along with remaining ingredients and blend until desired consistency is reached. I like mine smooth, but you may choose to pulse instead of blend to keep it chunky.


What are some of your food weaknesses? Do you have a healthy go to alternative?

vegan gnocchi cashew basil

Vegetable Gnocchi with Basil Cashew Sauce

Happy Meatless Monday!  Do you know what you’re making for dinner yet tonight?

I don’t know about you, but I always find Mondays to be a little slow going and when I’m feeling a little low on energy, complicated cooking is not at the top of my agenda. Instead, I tend to stick to really simply prepared meals.

One night I decided to do a little fridge cleaning and found frozen gnocchi, cashews, basil and an assortment of veggies and created a delicious dish of Vegetable Gnocchi with Basil Cashew Cream.  The veggies are just what I had in the fridge, but you can use anything that is available to you.

Of course, if you don’t randomly have frozen gnocchi in your freezer like I did (and why not, might I ask!) this dish is great with any favorite pasta you have on hand.  The yumminess of the dish really comes from the decadent, yet ridiculously simple, vegan cream sauce.
Bon Appetit!

vegan gnocchi cashew basil

Vegetable Gnocchi with Basil Cashew Cream
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • Your favorite prepared gnocchi or pasta, cooked according to packaged directions. Keep warm.
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, shredded or thinly sliced
  • a couple large handfuls spinach, chopped
  • For the basil cashew cream
  • ½ Cup cashews, soaked for minimum 1 hour
  • 1 small jalapeno, optional
  • 10 leaves basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place all the ingredients for basil cashew sauce in a blender. If using jalapeno, adjust to your desired spice level; leave the seeds for a spicier sauce, remove for milder. Add just enough water to barely cover cashews. Blend until smooth, adding more water if needed to thin out the sauce. Set aside.
  2. In a saute pan, heat a small amount of olive oil, broth, or water, then add onions and bell pepper and cook until translucent and lightly browned. You may need to add more water/broth if you are doing this oil free. Try not to move the veggies around too much so that they can create a nice caramelized sear.
  3. Add garlic and continue cooking until fragrant.
  4. Add zucchini and cook until desired tenderness, then add spinach and allow to wilt.
  5. Toss some of the sauce with the warm gnocchi until well coated, adding more if you like it saucier or creamier.
  6. Divide into bowls and top with veggies.


top 2013 recipes

Top Recipes of 2013

top 2013 recipes

As we get ready to cap off another year, I am feeling some slight shifts getting ready to happen, both personally and professionally. I spent the better part of this year as a student, obtaining my certification as a health coach, and now that I’m finished with school, am eager to start incorporating even more health and wellness into my business and my life.

I’m also ready to start sharing more personally on this blog. The content may change a little, and have new features, as I continue to work out what I want you to get out of my new website. (I will, of course, still feature vegan and healthy recipes! That’s not changing.)

All that being said, I couldn’t end the year without pulling together a mouthwatering collection of nine of the most popular recipes of 2013. Based on popularity of posts, this was the year of cauliflower, quinoa, patties and all things round (seriously, every recipe listed has some kind of rounded shape!).

Looking at those photos all together, it really does show that healthy vegan eating is fun, delicious, colorful and eclectic!  Plus, all the recipes just happen to be gluten free (or easily adapted), debunking any theory that dietary restrictions are too difficult or restrictive! While some may be a little healthier than others, all are great, better for you alternatives to anything deep fried, breaded, or loaded with artery clogging meat and dairy.

Without further ado, the top nine recipes posted on Veggie Fixation in 2013.

vegan crab cakes 9. Crabby Cakes






gluten free vegan pumpkin pie8. Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie 







vegan lentil burgers7. Lentil Sausage Patties 







quinoa black bean burgers

6. Quinoa Black Bean Burgers







raw chocolate truffle 5. Raw Sunflower Seed Truffles







vanilla bean mousse tart4. Raw Vanilla Bean Mousse Tart






sweet potato kale breakfast burrito3. Kale and Sweet Potato Breakfast Burrito






vegan cauliflower buffalo wings2. Cauliflower Buffalo Wings 






and the #1 recipe post of 2013…

cauliflower crust pizza1. Cauliflower Crust Pizza







Have you made any of these recipes? Are there any not included in this list that was one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!


See you in 2014… be safe, be peaceful, be healthy.




Spiced Cranberry Sauce

In their whole food form, cranberries are incredibly good for your health, but because of their tartness, they are often loaded with added sugars, which takes away from their nutritional goodness. This time of year, I love to make a fresh cranberry sauce using cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and orange, lightly sweetened with maple syrup. It is a sugar free cranberry sauce that has lots of flavor.

We are actually at the end of cranberry harvest right now, but this is the season when they are most prominently eaten. These tart little berries are native to North America and grown mainly in the Northeast region of the United States. In the fall, the fields are flooded so that the cranberries can float to the top for easy picking.

The phytonutrients in cranberry are effective in lowering inflammation throughout our bodies and is particularly known for reducing the risk of periodontal disease, provides excellent benefits for our digestive tract, including reduced risk of stomach ulcers and colon cancer. Most popularly, cranberries are known for reducing risk and symptoms of urinary tract infection.


Spiced Cranberry Sauce

1/2 pound fresh cranberries, washed and dried
¼ cup to ½ cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons water
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 small orange, zested and juiced

1. In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, maple syrup and water. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.
2. Stir again and simmer for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, until it starts to thicken. Some of the cranberries will burst and some will remain whole.
3. Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving.

Yields about 1 ¼ Cup

Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • ½ pound fresh cranberries, washed and dried
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 4 whole cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 small orange, zested and juiced
  1. In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, maple syrup and water. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.
  2. Stir again and simmer for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, until it starts to thicken. Some of the cranberries will burst and some will remain whole.
  3. Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving.
  4. Yields about 1 ¼ Cup

Super Simple Autumn Apple Crisp

The smell of cinnamon combined with the sweet scent of apples baking could mean only one thing – AUTUMN!!!

It finally feels a bit like Fall in Santa Monica… at least for the next day or two when the temperatures are below 70 degrees.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the warm weather. Consistent 70+ degree days are the main reason I moved to Southern California to begin with.  However, there’s the northeastern girl inside of me that really likes feeling cozy inside a fleece, or snuggly under a blanket.

When the air inside my apartment starts to get a little chilly, it excites me to turn on my oven and bring out the fall tastes and smells. There had been a few apples staring at me from my counter top and I knew that Jacques and I would soon be enjoying an apple crisp.

The great thing about any fruit crumble is that it is really simple to put together, doesn’t require a lot of prep, or a lot of ingredients.  I tend to make fruit crisps with anything I have on hand.

Of course, there are the few pantry staples that are key to being able to make one on the spot : rolled oats, cinnamon, lemon.

It’s a fairly safe bet that even if you don’t cook extensively on a regular basis, these are things that I will find in your kitchen.  Every client I’ve ever worked for has at least the oats and cinnamon, and 4 out of every 5 have lemons (some even with lemon trees in their yards, as it is, after all, So Cal).

The lemon juice enhances the flavor and keeps the apples from oxidizing, but you can still make an equally delicious fruit crisp without it, if need be.

To keep this as healthy as possible and accessible for all diets, I don’t use any form of sugar, or refined oils. It gets natural sweetness from the apples, and uses just a small amount of coconut oil for the topping.

Super Simple Autumn Apple Crisp 
Serves 4

3 medium sized apples of any variety
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 Tablespoons unfiltered apple juice (sub water if not available)
Juice of half a lemon, about 2 Tablespoons

For the topping
1 1/2 Cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 Cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. Core and thinly slice the apples and toss them into an 8×8 baking dish, along with lemon juice.   Stir in remaining ingredients and arrange apple slices evenly in the bottom of the dish.
3. In a medium size bowl, combine topping ingredients, using your fingers to well incorporate the oil. When it has come together into a crumbly texture, evenly spread onto the top of the apples.
4. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until apples are soft and topping is crispy.

I didn’t have any ice cream on hand to scoop on top, but if you do, go for it! 🙂

Hearty Harvest Stew

Rain, rain go away. Come again another day. 
Today is a rare rainy day in Los Angeles. Of course, on the three occasions it rains here, all I want to do is snuggle under my blanket, drink tea and watch random movies. It’s the opportunity to take advantage of having an excuse to stay indoors.  Any other Angelenos with me? 
While will probably stay at home under the covers for part of the afternoon, I’m excited to head out this evening for a friend’s moving screening.  My uber talented friends, husband and wife team, Eric Shapiro and Rhoda Jordan, just completed their feature film called LIVING THINGS and I can’t wait to see it.  Here’s the film’s synopsis:

Over dinner, a vegan woman and her father-in-law debate the ethics of eating animals.

If you’d like to learn more about the inspiration for the film and some of Eric’s other work, there’s a great interview here. Rhoda is not only the beautiful and talented actress in the film, but she is also a beautiful and talented Pleasure Strategist as well.  What’s a pleasure strategist?  Check out her website to find out how she helps people find true happiness and live to their fullest potential. 
Onward to food… 
Rain also increases my desire for foods that are warm and comforting. And what better to eat on a “chilly” rainy day than a hearty harvest stew, chock full of fall’s finest butternut squash. Butternut is the feature in this stew, but the other vegetables in the recipe happen to be what I had on hand. Feel free to mix and match with whatever veggies you have available. For added sweetness, try parsnips or fennel. 

Hearty Harvest Stew
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Cup onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced or sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh, grated turmeric (or 1/2 teaspoon powdered)
3 Cups butternut squash, diced
1 Cup green beans, cut into 1″ pieces
1 large carrot, diced
3 Cups water
1 Cup kale, chopped

1. In a medium pot, sauté onion and celery in olive oil until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.

2. Add remaining ingredients, except kale and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes, or until squash is soft. Remove from heat, add kale, and recover to allow it to wilt.

3. For creamier texture, use a fork or wooden spoon to squish some of the butternut squash. Top with parsley,  and serve with quinoa, if desired.