The Real Food Journal

Make These Easy Rhubarb Strawberry Shortcakes, Celebrate Local Berries

Summertime Nirvana, Rhubarb Strawberry Shortcakes

The local strawberries have made their dramatic entrance, red and ripe and ready to add joy to your life. Rhubarb is still booming in my backyard, and the two flavors are a classic, seasonal combination.

Because it’s so hot and humid out, I planned ahead and baked the shortcakes early in the morning. That way my shortcakes were safely stashed before breakfast. I cooked the rhubarb while they baked, and chilled it to save for dinner.

The precious strawberries need no embellishment. To show them off, I simply tossed the halved berries with sugar and let them macerate for a few minutes.

local strawberries go with rhubarb

As local as it gets at the St Paul Farmer’s Market

I was too lazy to make my own ice cream, so I simply bought some. Coconut and cashew milk based ice creams are amazing, these days. Pick your favorite, I prefer vanilla for the purity of it all, but if you got a strawberry swirl it might be nice. Some strawberry shortcakes are paired with whipped cream, so if you want to make a whipped coconut cream or buy your favorite one, that would be delicious, too.

There is no technical challenge in this recipe, other than shredding in the coconut oil. All you need to do is melt the oil, pour it in the measuring cup, and chill it until it is firm. Then you can grate the solid fat into the flour mixture, creating a flaky texture in the final biscuit.

Rhubarb Strawberry Shortcake

Quick, before it melts…

The rhubarb compote is so basic, I just throw it all in the pan and put it over heat. I like to give it a dash of vanilla, for an elegant fragrance. This is one of the best desserts to serve out on the deck. Just split your shortcake, fill with berries and a little drizzle of rhubarb syrup, and spoon a puddle of rhubarb on the plate around it. Top with ice cream, and serve before it melts.

Simple is perfect for Summer!

Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcakes

Tender shortcake, a pool of tangy rhubarb, and sweet berries…


Rhubarb Strawberry Shortcakes

A biscuit-style shortcake, with a simple cooked rhubarb sauce and fresh strawberries, is the perfect dessert for a summer meal on the deck!

Course Dessert
Servings 12
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • turbinado sugar
  • 1 pound rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • non-dairy ice cream


  1. Using a grater, shred the cold coconut oil into the flour mixture, tossing to coat the shreds as you go.

  2. In a cup, stir the almond milk and cider vinegar, and let stand for a couple of minutes, then stir into the flour mixture. It will be a firm dough, but be gentle.
  3. Scrape out onto a floured counter and pat out into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Using a bench knife or chefs knife, cut into 6 even squares, then cut each of those corner to corner to make 12 triangular shortcakes. Sprinkle the cakes liberally with turbinado sugar and pat down to adhere. Use your bench knife or a spatula to transfer to the sheet pan. Place the cakes 2 inches apart.

  4. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden around the edges. Cool on racks.

  5. In a small pot, combine the rhubarb and sugar and place over medium high heat. Stir until the rhubarb is juicy and starts to boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and starting to fall apart. Stir in the vanilla and cook for a minute more.
  6. To serve, halve about 6 strawberries per shortcake and sprinkle with sugar to taste. Split each shortcake and place the bottom half on a small plate, and spoon the rhubarb sauce around it. Cover the shortcake with strawberries and a drizzle of rhubarb sauce, then place the top on. Serve with ice cream and garnish with more strawberries.

See Red with Chipotle Beet Hummus

Chipotle Beet Hummus

Give your dip repertoire a pop of color

We love hummus. The eternal combo of chickpeas, tahini and lemon is a crowd pleaser, and has spawned endless variations. So let me join in and make a riff on hummus out of one of the most maligned vegetables out there. Beet hummus!

I married a beet-disliker, so when I cook beets, I usually get to eat the whole batch by myself. Not his time. Chipotle Beet Hummus finally won my sweethearts approval.

Beets Everyone Will Love

Yes, it’s a bold statement. But after 34 years of marriage, this is the first time a beet based food got a thumbs up! I’d honestly given up. I offered a taste, not expecting him to take me up on it. I guess it just proves that people can surprise you.

Chipotle Beet Hummus

The Scarlet Dip with a hint of smoke

There are plenty of versions of this dip out there. I did a bit of a swerve and skipped the chickpeas altogether. Yes, it’s hummus with no chickpeas. The sweetness of the brilliant beets makes its own magic with the tart lemon. But a bit of inspiration came to me the way they often do. I looked in the refrigerator.

Chipotles in Adobo

There in my fridge was a jar of chipotles in adobo, leftover from another recipe. I love using the real deal, the whole smoked chiles bathed in a smoky sauce, even though I have the powdered version, too. If you haven’t tried a can of them, don’t worry about using up the whole can, they freeze well. I like to spread them out in a zip top bag and freeze them, so that I can break a chile off whenever I need one. They thaw quickly.

Chipotles are a magical, intense ingredient that instantly elevates a dish. Smoke is a natural source of plant-based umami, and gives everything it touches a bit of complexity and nuance. The chiles are spicy, but not so hot that they will scare anyone away. Just warming and thrilling.

Here’s a fun rice bowl that has a bit of chipotle in it:

Chipotle Chimichurri Rice Bowl

It’s summer, so I roast my beets in the early morning, and let the kitchen cool off before the sun gets too high in the sky. You could steam them, too, but they will not get that concentrated flavor that roasting imparts.

Give this dip a try at your next patio party, and watch your friends discover another side to beets.

Chipotle Beet Hummus

Even beet haters will like the flavor of this bright red dip. The smoky spice of chipotle really gives it a kick!

Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 2 1/2 pounds beets 2 large
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 small chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • extra virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Peel the beets, quarter, and place in a loaf pan, drizzle with olive oil.. Cover with foil and roast for about an hour, until the beets are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Let cool.

  2. In a serious blender, place the chopped garlic, beets, lemon juice, chipotle, tahini and salt. Use the tamper to blend the ingredients until very smooth.

  3. Scrape into a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. 

Make Rhubarb the Star on your Blueberry Banana Bread

Rhubarb Blueberry Banana Bread

Rhubarb Blueberry Banana Bread

Perhaps we love rhubarb because it comes to us in Spring. After a long, hard winter, the insistent stalks of this hardy plant just burst from the ground like unfurling flags, heralding the coming summer.

I’ll take it.

The “Pie Plant”

The “pie plant” is the gift that keeps on giving, producing more fat stalks every year. It may look like celery and taste like the tartest lemon you’ve ever had, but boy oh boy, when you add some sugar, it suddenly sings a beautiful song.

Rhubarb Blueberry Banana Bread

Rhubarb Blueberry Banana Bread

For this bread, I was inspired by a photo. You probably saw it somewhere in your internet travels. Melissa Clark made a striking pound cake that was featured in the New York Times, with stalks of poached rhubarb arranged across the top. I thought, hey, I don’t need a rich cake, but I’ve got some ripe bananas and fresh blueberries.

And lots of rhubarb from the garden.

So I  poached some rhubarb stalks to fit across the top of my loaf pan. Then I made a moist, lemon-spiked banana bread batter, and sprinkled in some blueberries. I topped it with the rhubarb stalks, and baked it. Once it came out of the oven, I thought it called out for a sprinkle of sparkly Turbinado sugar.

Since the rhubarb was just on top of the bread, I wanted more rhubarb. So, while it baked, I cooked up a quick compote of rhubarb with a splash of vanilla.

So easy, so delicious.

We gobbled it up for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

Eat what’s in season, and you’ll be in harmony with the planet. It’s a pretty tasty way to live.

Want a few more rhubarb recipes?

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb and Raspberries Go Together

Rhubarb Bars with Rolled Barley and Almonds

Rhubarb shines in chewy, crunchy bars made with rolled barley and sliced almonds

Rhubarb shines in chewy, crunchy bars made with rolled barley and sliced almonds

Rhubarb Scones

rhubarb scones

Hot out of the oven

Wild Rice and Rhubarb Salad



Rhubarb Blueberry Banana Bread

Servings 8
Author Robin Asbell



  • 8 ounces rhubarb stalks
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 cup water


  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 medium ripe bananas mashed
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling


  • 1 pound rhubarb chopped
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


  1. First, combine the sugar and water and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Trim the rhubarb stalks into 5 inch lengths (to match the size of your loaf pan) and add them to the simmering syrup, cook for 1 minute, then take off the heat and let cool completely. Use a slotted spoon to remove the stalks carefully from the syrup, placing them on a plate. Reserve the syrup.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 5 inch wide loaf pan with parchment paper, cut so that the paper hangs over the side to help you remove the loaf when done. Lightly oil the pan.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Stir to combine.

  4. In a cup, stir the milk, lemon juice, flax and vanilla. Let stand for 5 minutes. 

  5. Mash the banana in a small bowl. Stir the banana and the oil into the milk mixture, then stir that into the flour mixture. When just mixed, fold in the berries and scrape into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, then arrange the poached rhubarb stalks across the top. Press down lightly but leave the sticking up a bit so they can sink.

  6. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out with no wet batter attached. Cool on a rack for 15, then use the paper to lift the loaf out and let it finish cooling. Sprinkle with Turbinado to cover. Slice in between the rhubarb stalks at serving.

  7. For compote, place rhubarb and sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir as the mixture gets juicy, and once it's soupy, bring to a boil and stir until the rhubarb is tender. Take off the heat and let cool.

    Serve over the bread.

Make Blue Potato Salad with Chive Blossoms for a Quick and Colorful Meal

Blue Potato Salad

Blue Potato Salad with Chive Blossoms

Does it seem that I’m obsessed with blue food? Purple sweet potatoes, purple corn and purple barley have made frequent cameos here on the blog, in all their chromatic glory. Blue Potato Salad is just the latest.

I suppose my eye is drawn to the exotic, as I traipse through the aisle at the store,shopping for sustenance and inspiration. So when a gorgeous pile of blue potatoes calls my name, I go for it.

Because I cook so much for other people, and develop recipes that are often meant for a season of the year that comes in six months or so, I love to find moments when I can just react to some beautiful food.

That’s what happens with me and blue food. Blue potato salad is exactly what I want to make in between jobs- simple, easy, and striking to look at. The vegetables are so perfect and seasonal that I hardly had to do anything to them.

blue potato salad

Beautiful blue potatoes, red and yellow tomatoes, and purple chive blossoms

So, call it a Memorial Day salad if you’d like, or serve it all summer long. I’ve got chives growing in the back yard, and I’m not afraid to use them!

Feast on color, keep cool, and enjoy our summer with my blue, blue potato salad.

Blue Potato Salad with Chive Blossoms

Blue potatoes, red and yellow tomatoes, flowering chives and lemon vinaigrette make this easy dish really appealing.

Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 2 pounds blue potatoes
  • 2 cup red and yellow grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 bunch flowering chives
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Boil potatoes whole, testing by piercing with a paring knife after 20 minutes or so. When each potato becomes tender all the way through, take out to cool. Chill.

  2. Strip skins from potatoes and cube, put in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and about 1/4 cup minced chives. Trim some flowers for garnish, save the rest to garnish at serving.

  3. Make the dressing: in a cup, whisk the olive oil, lemon, basil, garlic and salt. 

  4. Pour the dressing over the potato mixture, toss to mix. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate until time to serve.

    Makes about 6 cups.

Wicked Healthy, the Vegan Cookbook that Bleeds

Wicked Healthy

Don’t be alarmed, only beets were harmed for this picture!

There’s long been a trope, a recurring idea that meat eating is an essential part of manliness. Veggies are for girls, and possibly girly men, but real dudes dig burgers.

Wicked, Healthy, Beautiful

This silliness couldn’t be further from the truth, and the latest book from Chad and Derek Sarno and David Joachim has masculinity all over it. It’s also very, very vegan.

From the tats to the “beet blood” spatters, the Wicked Healthy Cookbook lets you know that plant-based eating can support a testosterone-based lifestyle. If you crave the meatiest, most flavorful vegan food available, this book is for you. It is, in attitude and presentation, “badass.”

But don’t think this is just a stab at pleasing a macho segment of the market. The bros are masters at handling plant foods with some sensitivity, too. If you’re new to the world of vegan food, you might not know that Chad Sarno has been cheffing around the plant-based food world for many years, contributing to more than a dozen cookbooks, opening a line of boutique restaurants in Istanbul, Munich and London, acting as Senior Culinary Educator at Whole Foods, and much more. Brother Derek Sarno is Executive Chef and Director of Plant Based Innovation at Tesco, the big British based retailer, and he also did a stint at Whole Foods, and owned a series of restaurants of his own. David Joachim has written or collaborated on 40 cookbooks and knows his way around the plant-based kitchen, as well.

Badass Means Tasty

All this culinary firepower has been put to good use, and all the recipes employ ingredients and techniques to take dishes a step further toward flavor. Amping up umami, combining textures and flavors, and using techniques like searing, reduction and marination will become second nature to you after trying out a few dishes.

Wicked Healthy

Rice Paper “Bacon” in my kitchen

Take these recipes, which are good examples of plant-based and creative fare. The rice paper bacon pictured above is a clever way to use neutral tasting rice wrappers to soak up an intense “bacony” marinade and roast to a crunchy, sweet savory stand in for pork. Of course, there are multiple components to pile on the BLT- a plant-based aioli and an intense tomato habanero jam, so the sandwich has so much going on that you will forget about the piggy version.

Wicked Dessert

Then, like little vegan clouds of joy, we have the Almond Meringue Cookies for dessert. After the smoky, meaty sandwich, you can enjoy a light, dare I say, feminine dessert. Yes, it involves some serious tool usage, as you need to beat the heck out of some aquafaba, but with finesse.

These recipes are just a teaser, to tempt you to check out the book. Expect to see multiple components in some recipes, and don’t be afraid to make a special stock or sauce to take the dish over the top. Clever methods, like sandwiching a clump of maitake mushrooms between two hot cast iron skillets to make a super-concentrated “steak” are great discoveries, and will convince even the skeptic that meatless cuisine is delicious.

It really is Wicked Healthy, and Wicked Tasty!

Plant-Based BLT

Plant-Based BLT from Wicked Healthy (image by Eva Kosmas Flores


As kids, our family had BLT nights in the summer, and everybody would make sandwiches from a giant platter of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, squishy white bread, and a tub of mayo. Here’s our sexy, plant-pushing version.




  1. Choose your favorite bread, like a small ciabatta bread roll sliced in half.


  1. Lather on Herb Aioli (see below) and Tomato Habanero Jam (see below).


  1. Layer the sandwich with thinly shaved red onion, thin slices of vine-ripened tomato, your favorite Plant Bacon (see below), and then Bibb lettuce. Chomp down and enjoy with a crisp pilsner beer!






1 cup Plant-Based Mayo (page 264) or store-bought, such as Just Mayo

2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely grated with a Microplane zester

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons minced or snipped fresh chives

Pinch of coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper



Whisk everything together in a small mixing bowl or jar. Use immediately or cover and chill in the fridge for about a week.



KILLER TARTAR SAUCE: Whisk in 1½ tablespoons finely grated (zested) fresh horseradish or prepared horseradish and ½ cup finely chopped pickles.







10 vine-ripened tomatoes, about 4 pounds

2 tablespoons everyday olive oil

1 sweet white onion, diced small (about 1½ cups)

6 cloves garlic, sliced wicked thin

6 to 10 habanero chile peppers, sliced or minced

2 cups organic cane sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

½ tablespoon sea salt

Pinch of ground white pepper



  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Set up a bowl of ice water.


  1. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato, then drop them into the boiling water and blanch until the skins start to peel back, about 30 seconds. Use a spider strainer or slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to the ice water. When cool, peel the skins from the tomatoes with your fingertips and a paring knife. Remove the cores and roughly chop the peeled tomatoes. You should have about 8 cups.


  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and sweat until soft, about 5 minutes. You don’t want to brown the onions, just soften or “sweat” them. Add the garlic and continue sweating for 3 to 4 minutes more.


  1. Add the chopped tomatoes and everything else and crank the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cut the heat to low. Let everything simmer gently until thickened to a soft jam-like consistency, 1 to 1¼ hours. With all that sugar, the jam will want to burn on the bottom. Don’t let it. Stir the pot often to keep the jam from sticking and burning. The finished consistency should be like thin jam. It will thicken up more when it cools.


  1. When the hot jam is nice and thick but still pourable, ladle or pour the jam into a pint-size Mason jar. Screw on the lid and let the jam sit at room temperature until cooled, 1 to 2 hours. The heat in the jar should create a vacuum, sucking down the lid. When cooled, store the jam in the fridge. It will keep for a few weeks.









RICE PAPER BACON: Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using 10 rice papers (about 8½-inch diameter), dip each in warm water to soften, then pat dry with clean kitchen towels. Dip a pastry brush in the marinade and paint the paper all over with marinade. Fold the paper in half to make a half-moon shape, then cut it crosswise into strips about 1 inch wide. Place the folded strips on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining rice papers. Bake the strips (in batches if necessary) until crispy, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, pan-fry the marinated rice paper as described in step 4; but they are very delicate, so use tongs and handle them gently.




¼ cup tamari or soy sauce

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1½ tablespoons Homemade Badass Sriracha (page 276) or other sriracha

1 teaspoon liquid smoke (mesquite preferred), optional

½ tablespoon granulated onion

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil, for frying (a bit less for baking)


TO MAKE THE MARINADE: In a bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the tamari, maple syrup, sriracha, liquid smoke if using, granulated onion, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper.


Excerpted from the Wicked Healthy Cookbook by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno, and David Joachim. Copyright 2018 by Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life and Style. All rights reserved.

Oh yes, they are vegan!



In the fall of 2015, we featured these cookies on several catering menus. We usually made them with dried fruit powder like raspberry, then dried the meringue in sheets and broke it up into shards, as in Brûléed Pineapple with Spiced Panko, Berries, and Meringue (page 231). Flavor the cookies however you like (see the Options), but try to stick with freeze-dried fruit powders. Liquid extracts and flavorings tend to make the meringues fall. —Chad




Plant-Based Meringue (see below)

1 teaspoon almond extract

Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean

¼ cup finely ground unsalted roasted almonds, optional



  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


  1. Make the meringue until it is fully whipped. Whip the almond extract and vanilla seeds into the meringue.


  1. Spoon the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Or use a zipper-lock bag and cut off a corner. If your parchment is curling up from the baking sheets, dollop a little meringue under each corner to secure it. Pipe cookies into pointy mounds about 1½ inches in diameter. They should look like big Hershey’s kisses. You need only about ½ inch space between cookies because they won’t expand much during baking. Sprinkle the ground almonds, if using, evenly over the cookies.


  1. Bake until the cookies look dry and off-white in color, 2 hours. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking for even heating. Cool completely on the baking sheets. Store in well-sealed containers. Humidity and moisture will make the cookies sticky, so store them in a cool, dry cupboard.



RASPBERRY MERINGUE COOKIES: When making the meringue, add 1/3 cup powdered freeze-dried raspberries (buzzed in a clean spice grinder) along with the sugar. Omit the vanilla and almonds, and substitute raspberry extract for the almond extract.


LEMON MERINGUE COOKIES: When making the meringue, add 2 tablespoons lemon peel powder (buzz the dried lemon peel in a clean spice grinder) along with the sugar. Omit the vanilla and almonds, and substitute lemon extract for the almond extract.

CANDY CANE MERINGUE COOKIES: When making the meringue, reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons and add 3 to 4 tablespoons crushed candy canes along with the sugar while whipping. Omit the vanilla and almonds, and substitute 1 teaspoon peppermint extract or a few drops of food-grade peppermint essential oil for the almond extract.



This recipe still blows our minds. You mean the leftover liquid from a can of beans (called aquafaba) can be used to make desserts?! Most people pour their bean liquid down the drain. But surprise—it has enough protein to whip up just like egg whites. Voilà—plant based meringue! You can use this meringue as a base for everything from pancakes and pastries to meringue-topped pies and Almond Meringue Cookies (page 236). All without a hint of beany-ness. You can even use aquafaba to make Plant-Based Mayo (page 264).




1 can (14 ounces) no-salt-added chickpeas

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup semifine (see Pro Tip) organic cane sugar



  1. Strain the chickpea liquid into the bowl of an electric mixer. You should have about ½ cup. (Use the chickpeas for something else such as the Four-Bean and Sweet Potato Slow-Cooker Chili on page 166).


  1. Add the cream of tartar to the bowl and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until the mixture increases in volume and stiffens a bit, 4 to 6 minutes.


  1. Reduce the speed to medium high and gradually add the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Blend about 4 minutes more, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The meringue is done when it holds its shape as the whip attachment is lifted. You should also be able to hold the bowl upside down without the meringue falling out. Continue whipping until you can do that. Otherwise, the meringue will not hold its shape when cooked.



To make semifine sugar, grind it in a food processor or Vitamix for 10 to 15 seconds.

 Excerpted from the Wicked Healthy Cookbook by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno, and David Joachim. Copyright 2018 by Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life and Style. All rights reserved.


Eat the Rainbow on Cinco de Mayo with Purple Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Purple Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Brilliant Purple Sweet Potatoes fill these Quesadillas

It’s Cinco de Mayo, and time for us to eat some Mexican-inspired food, to celebrate the victory of the villagers of the City of Puebla over the French invaders. I’m using it as an excuse to eat the rainbow. This Purple Sweet Potato Quesadilla with Blood Orange Salsa has the purple, orange and red, with a dash of green for good measure.

Sometimes, we just need a simple guideline. The golden rule, the Boy Scout pledge, all the best mission statements are short and sweet. There are all kinds of voices out there, shouting about what you should eat. It can all be simple if you just strive to eat lots of colors every day. Eat the rainbow.

When you plan your plate, just pile on the color, and you’ll actually be getting a vast array of nutrients, without really thinking that hard about it. As long as you don’t go for the artificially colored junk food, you’ll be ok.  In the spirit of rainbow dining, let me recommend this purple sweet potato color-fest.

I’ve been obsessed with the Stokes Purple Sweet Potato since it appeared a few years ago, and have written about it here.

Any time you find a super-saturated purple food, you know it’s loaded with antioxidants. Anthocyanin is a purple pigment, and very protective of your precious healthy system.

Purple Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Purple Sweet Potato Quesadillas

The sweet purple potatoes have a meaty, slightly mealy texture, and a rich, deep flavor. For these quesadillas, I kept it simple, just steaming the diced flesh and seasoning it with salt and cilantro, and slathering some garlicky aquafaba mayo on the tortilla to help glue it all together.

Blood oranges are also brightly colored, adding another antioxidant bonus. I know they will be out of season, soon, so I wanted to get one last blast of their tart, scarlet beauty.

This is the kind of dish that you can make easily on a weeknight. I like to prep mine ahead, by dicing and steaming the sweet potatoes and keeping them in the fridge. If I have extra, they are great tossed into a simple pasta, a soup, or a salad.

The only trick to it is to really lean on those quesadillas after you put them together on the cutting board, to mash the cubes of sweet potato a bit, and meld it all together.

As long as you’re thinking Cinco De Mayo, you might as well enjoy a rainbow-version of our Americanized quesadilla.

Goes great with Mexican beer or a Margarita!

Purple Sweet Potato Quesadillas with Blood Orange Salsa

Eat the rainbow! Stokes Purple sweet potatoes may not be available where you are, so use another sweet potato. I like Garnet Reds.

Servings 2
Author Robin Asbell



  • 2 large navel oranges sectioned
  • 2 large blood oranges sectioned
  • 2 large jalapenos minced
  • 2 slices red onions minced
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 4 cups cubed purple sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 4 large scallions chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons aquafaba mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic pressed
  • 8 8-inch whole wheat tortillas


  1. Make Salsa: Supreme the oranges, and cut the sections into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine in a medium bowl with the jalapenos, red onions, maple syrup and salt. Toss to mix.

  2. Make Quesadillas: Steam the sweet potato cubes for about 5 minutes, until tender. Let cool, then toss with cilantro, scallions, and salt. Stir.

    Mix the mayo with pressed garlic and reserve.

    Lay out four tortillas and spread each with a tablespoon or so of the mayo. Cover with a cup of sweet potato dice, then cover with a tortilla. Repeat until all four are filled. Press down with your palms on each, to mash the potatoes a little to help the quesadillas stick together.

  3. To cook, heat a large skillet over high heat for a minute, then place a quesadilla in the hot pan. Cook until lightly browned, about a minute, and then use a spatula to turn. Cook all the quesadillas, reducing the heat to medium as the pan gets really hot.

  4. Cut the quesadillas in 6 wedges each, then serve with salsa.

The Jazzy Vegetarian’s Deliciously Vegan Cookbook

The Jazzy Vegetarian

Banana Walnut Bread from the Jazzy Vegetarian’s Deliciously Vegan Cookbook

( A winner has been chosen in the giveaway, but you can still make this recipe!)

It’s gonna be jazzy! If you haven’t seen the popular and long-running “Jazzy Vegetarian” on PBS, you might not know that there’s a jazz-singing vegan in the kitchen, and she’s got her own show. Laura Theodore’s Jazzy Vegetarian is launching a sixth season on TV, as well as a companion cookbook. You can even enter to win a copy at the bottom of this page.

Laura Theodore's Jazzy Vegetarian's Deliciously Vegan

Win It!

Laura Theodore was born to have her own vegan cooking show. Theodore started out as a kid studying acting, grew into a singer fronting rock and jazz bands, and found her calling when she became vegan. All those performing chops came in handy when she was moved to spread the word about a compassionate way of living and eating.

Fast forward to this, the sixth season of her popular cooking show, where she continues to thrive in a media marketplace with stiff competition. Her passion for plant-based food is clear on the screen, and in the pages of her cookbooks. She’s a powerhouse, finding time for the Jazzy Vegetarian radio show, frequent guest appearances on TV, tons of social media and web activity, and of course, she still records music.

Somehow, along with all this, she is opening the Jazzy Vegetarian Vegan Restaurant in Hendersonville NC, in May. Check out her website to watch, listen, read, and find out more.

Laura Theodore, Jazzy Vegetarian

Laura Theodore, the Jazzy Vegetarian

This is her fourth book, and like the others, it’s both fun and functional. This is food you will really make and serve to your family. Many of the recipes are breathtakingly quick and simple, but still packed with good, real, plant based ingredients.

The format is well organized and easy to use, with tons of photos so you can see what you are going to make. The chapters start with fundamentals and breakfast, and cover the gamut on up to desserts. Start the day with a plant based frittata or scramble, and you can end it with one of her cakes, crumbles, puddings or pies.

Jazzy Vegetarian Banana Bread

Crunchy with Walnuts, Slathered with Jam…

I couldn’t wait to try this banana bread. There are plenty of banana bread recipes out there, but vegan banana bread can come out rubbery, or even worse, gummy. Not this one, it has a lovely texture, and is chock full of walnuts for crunch. She clearly did a little engineering of the recipe, by changing the temperature midway. The result is that the bread gets lift from the first segment of time in a hot oven, then has time to bake through without burning in the second, cooler part of the oven time.

Very smart.

And very Jazzy, with a schmear of jam or vegan butter!

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Banana-Walnut Bread



This delicious bread makes a wonderful snack, slathered with a bit of vegan margarine, nut butter or your favorite fruit preserves.


1 cup plus 1 tablespoon nondairy milk

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup vegan cane sugar

1/3 cup extra-light olive oil (see note)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

11/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)

1 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with vegan margarine. Line the lengthwise sides and  bottom of the pan with unbleached parchment paper, leaving an overhang of 2-inch “wings” on the two long sides of the pan.

Put the nondairy milk and lemon juice into a small bowl or pitcher, and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature while preparing the batter.

Put the flour, baking soda and sugar in a large bowl, and stir with a dry whisk until combined. Add the nondairy milk/lemon juice mixture, oil, vanilla and mashed bananas, and stir with a large spoon until combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

Decrease the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Put the pan on a wire rack. Lift the bread out of the pan using the paper “wings.” Let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. Wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator, leftover bread will keep for 3 days.

CHEF’S NOTE: If desired, you may use extra-virgin olive oil in place of the extra-light olive oil. The bread will be slightly denser in texture.

Recipe by Laura Theodore, from JazzyVegetarian’s Deliciously Vegan. Published by Scribe Publishing, ©2018, reprinted by permission.


Celebrate St Pat’s with Rosemary Garlic Hasselback Potatoes with Greens

As St Pat’s rolls around, are you a traditionalist, who craves the same Irish-inspired dishes year after year? Or are you just in it for the green beer? I’m more interested in tweaking the usual fare, to avoid boredom. That’s why I made Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes with Greens.

Some kind of roots and carbs are a must-have on St Patrick’s Day, no matter what. Whether you go with Colcannon or Irish Soda Bread. 

Potatoes are Peasant Food

Cheap food to keep a belly full harks back to the Old Country. Why not make your potatoes a little bit pretty, and use some simple herbs and garlic for a fragrant, exciting meal? I even slipped in a sweet potato, to fill up the pan and give you a little variety. The hasselback potatoes roast to tenderness, and the edges crisp in the hot oven.

Hassleback Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

Elemental Soul Food for the Irish in You

Once the potatoes are underway, a quick saute of kale and chiles provides the necessary green element to the meal. Cabbage, kale, and other sturdy greens are part of the peasant pantry, and we all want some shamrock colors on the plate.

The only trick is slicing the hasselback potatoes. I put chopsticks alongside each potato, so that the knife won’t go all the way to the board. Since potatoes are round, sometimes I had to keep my knife a little higher so that I wouldn’t lop off the end.

(I’ll post a video of this on instagram, since I can’t post one on the blog.)

Heat, Herbs and an Hour

That’s it, just drizzle with the herbs, garlic and olive oil, getting a little down into all the crevices, and roast, uncovered, in a 450 F oven for an hour or more.


Hassleback Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

Hasselbacks with Kale, Rustic and Hearty

Of course, if you are so inclined, you can pile some shredded Irish Cheddar on for the last 15 minutes. Fry up your favorite mock sausages, and you have a pretty respectable St Paddy’s day meal.

And if you hoist a pint of Stout, you’ll really be in the spirit!

Rosemary and Garlic Hasselback Potatoes with Greens

The luck of the Irish will be with you, when you make this hot panful of crispy potatoes and herbs. Who needs all the cream and cheese, when you have garlic and olive oil?

Course Side Dish
Servings 5
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic mince two of them
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus three big sprigs
  • 5 medium yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • coarse salt
  • 1 bunch kale or other greens
  • 2 medium red Fresno Chiles chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.Get a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet. Pour the olive oil into a cup and add the 2 cloves chopped garlic and the chopped rosemary, reserve.

  2. Use a sharp chefs knife and a pair of sturdy chopsticks to make the potato cuts. To create the classic Hasselback cuts, you'll need to make thin cuts straight down, but not all the way through. I like to place a chopstick along each side of the potato, so that my knife will stop at the stick, and preven me from slipping all the way through. Slice about 1/4-1/3 inch apart. As you finish each potato, tuck into the cast iron pan. For the sweet potato, slice lengthwise in half and place cut side down on the board, and repeat the Hasselback process. Tuck into the pan. Scatter the remaining whole garlic cloves alongside the potatoes. Use a paring knife and your fingertips to gently separate the slices just a little, and drizzle the olive oil mixture down into each cut. Tuck the remaining rosemary sprigs alongside the potatoes and sprinkle with coarse salt.
  3. Roast for about an hour, testing by piercing into the center of the largest potato at about 45 minutes.

    Just before serving saute the kale and chiles in olive oil, and add salt to taste. When potatoes are tender, take out and serve hot, with sauteed kale and chiles.

Make a Memorable, Memory-Saving Meal With Creamy Kale Soup

Creamy Kale Soup with Almonds

Creamy Kale Soup with Almonds, Delicious and Memorable

Spring is coming. The bright sunlight hurts my eyes, as I emerge from my winter cocoon. I need to clear the cobwebs from my brain and lighten up, after all the Winter eating. It’s time to clean up my act with Creamy Kale Soup.

It turns out, my cobwebby brain really is craving greens.

Greens Prevent Memory Loss

A recent study at the Rush University Medical School found that eating as little as 1 1/3 cup of salad or 1/2 cup cooked greens a day resulted in a brain that worked as well as one 11 years younger. The researchers came up with a whole list of foods that also help prevent dementia, including beans, grains, berries, nuts, wine, olive oil and fish. But greens are the number one food to stay sharp.

Getting Those Greens In

Kale soup is a great way to finally get enough greens. Most days, even the best of us don’t eat enough salads and veggies.  I challenge my self to get more than 2 1/2 cups of greens every day. Some days I fail. For me, the blender is the best way to tackle the greens challenge.

Lacinato Kale

Lacinato Kale, Ready to Save My Brain in Kale Soup!

 Take the Greens Challenge

The average salad only has a few ounces of greens. Those boxes of salad are only 5 ounces, and most of the time, you don’t eat even half of that. Unless you are building yourself a big platter-ful of salad, it’s just a small percentage of the greens that your body craves. The green smoothie or juice is a way to process a couple cups worth of greens into one serving. Cooking greens condenses them, so that a big fluffy pile of spinach or kale shrinks down to a concentrated source of brain-saving green energy.

So, if you both cook and puree, you can really eat a lot of leafy greens in a small portion of food. Take this creamy kale soup. A bunch of kale ends up as about 5 cups of soup, and depending on how hungry you are, it can serve 2-4 people.

Kale Soup

Whole Wheat Toast with Dijon Mustard and Tomatoes Makes it a Meal

I love making creamy soups with almonds. Unsweetened almond milk is rich enough to give the soup a lush, creamy body. A sweet potato thickens and adds a few speckles of orange to the bright green soup. Fresh rosemary braces all that sweet creaminess with a little piney herbal flavor. Crunchy toasted almonds add interest and a nutty counterpoint to all the veggies.

Food is about pleasure. It’s also the thing we are made of, so it is our great good luck that we can find so much pleasure in a dish that packs a nutritional wallop. This seductive, colorful kale soup could well play a part in saving your brain from the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, so it is all good.

Absolutely. All. Good.

Creamy Kale Soup with Rosemary

This easy kale soup has sweet potato for a thickener, and just enough creamy almond milk to make it luscious.

Course Soup
Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch kale stems removed, chopped
  • 1 ta fresh rosemary plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 cups plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds toasted


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and stir, and once they start to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium. Stir and cook, reducing the heat to medium-low if they start to stick. Cook for as long as you have time, at least 10 minutes, up to an hour or two.

  2. Add the sweet potato, kale, rosemary and stock and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. When the sweet potato pieces are tender, take off the heat.

  3. Transfer the soup to the Vitamix or food processor. If using the processor, puree without adding the almond milk. If using the blender, add the milk and puree. Add the salt and several grinds of pepper, and taste. Add more if needed. 

  4. Serve in bowls with toasted sliced almonds, and a rosemary sprig.

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