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Food Matters

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This is the dip to serve when you are looking to impress non-vegans. The cashews add richness, while the beans impart a smooth and creamy texture. A pop of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a hint of cayenne pepper round out the flavor in this wonderful recipe.

White Bean Dip Recipe 

White Bean Cashew Dip

Serves 6 to 8

• 1 can (15 ounces) white beans, drained and rinsed
• 1/2 cup raw cashews
• 2 tablespoons filtered or spring water
• 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 clove garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2 tablespoons sweet red or orange pepper, diced
• Dill weed or fresh dill sprigs for garnish, optional

1. Put white beans, cashews, water, lemon juice, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper in a high-performance blending appliance and process until smooth and creamy. Do not over-process.

2. Transfer to a pretty bowl and fold in diced pepper. Top with dill (if using).

Chef’s Note: Serve with carrot sticks, celery sticks, tortilla chips or whole-grain crackers.

Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Ve


I love summer! The long days and the warm temperatures. The thought of going on vacation somewhere—be it the beach, the mountains or somewhere in between. I love the feeling of almost being a kid again when I get the chance to splash in a pool, or eat an ice cream cone, or swing on a porch swing. But most of all, I my favorite part is the fresh produce from the garden and the fruit trees.

There have always been gardens in my life. When I was younger, my parents had an enormous garden. We had the staples of green beans, corn, cucumbers and tomatoes, with varying extras of okra or squash, peanuts or other items my dad might be trying to grow. I learned how to tend and harvest a garden when I was young, and also learned how to preserve the bounty in delicious ways.

The harvest always seems to come at the same time, or at least that is how it feels. There are always those weeks when your kitchen counter is piled high with beans, tomatoes, squash and okra—it looks like deconstructed gumbo! I'm also a sucker when friends call to say "Hey, we've got this, do you want some?" I'll never say no to free food that can be preserved for my family to use during the winter. And that's exactly what happened to me not too long ago.

My sister-in-law called to say someone had blessed her with a bounty of peaches. She wanted to know if I would like to have any to put up for the winter. Of course I jumped at the chance, thinking it would only be a few. Upon arriving at her house, I found two bushel baskets waiting—I can only hope the shock I felt didn't show on my face!

When I got home, I decided I would can a good portion of them, dehydrate a few and make peach cobbler. I love peach cobbler; it’s definitely a favorite dessert of mine. I think I could eat an entire cobbler and not feel guilty—at least not right away. I have the easiest peach cobbler recipe ever and thought I would share it with you, in case you're blessed with an abundance of peaches, or any other kind of fruit. This cobbler can be made with any fruit that you may have on hand.

homemade peach cobbler

Easy Peasy Peach Cobbler Recipe


• 1 stick butter
• 1.5 cups sugar
• 1 cup self rising flour
• 1 cup milk
• 2 cups (or more) of any type of fruit, cut into small pieces


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray non-sticking cooking spray on a 9x13 pan. Put one stick of butter in the pan and put the pan in the oven to melt the butter.

2. While the butter is melting, mix together the flour and sugar. Stir in the milk until the mixture looks like a batter.

3. Once the butter is melted, pull the pan out of the oven. Pour the batter into the pan, on top of the butter, evenly, scraping as you go to remove all the batter. Do not stir!

4. On top of the batter, evenly place the chopped fruit. If there appears to be empty spaces, you can put more fruit. Again, do not stir! This is a "dump cobbler"—you dump everything in the pan on top of each other.

5. Bake the cobbler for 40 to 45 minutes, or until batter is set and golden brown. Let cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

I hope you are able to make up a cobbler and enjoy it soon. I plan to share more easy recipes and many other things you can make from scratch in the future.

Do you have any easy recipes from your kitchen that you always receive compliments for? Let us know in the comments below what some of your favorites are—maybe we can inspire each other and start sharing them!

Amy GreeneAmy lives in North Carolina, where she is working towards learning all areas of self-sufficiency. Amy, along with her husband, four kids and three dogs, but has aspirations to own chickens, goats, pigs, cows, bees and more! Their current steps toward homesteading include a large garden from which they can the produce, along with freezing and dehydrating other fruits and vegetables. Amy's hobbies including trying new homesteading ventures, sewing, cooking, crocheting and learning how to "make her own" anything. Eventually, she and her family want to move to the country where to fulfill their wildest homesteading dreams!


I love this loaf! It is the ideal main dish to serve any time of year and it takes the place of meat for a family or company supper. This savory loaf is packed with pleasing textures and flavors. The red peppers and vegan cheese make the presentation so colorful too.

homemade cashew loaf

Cashew & Quinoa Loaf Recipe

Makes 5 to 6 servings


• 1-1/2 cups raw cashews
• 1 cup (packed) fresh whole grain breadcrumbs (about 2 slices, see note)
• 1-1/2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (see note)
• 4 tablespoons wheat germ, plus more as needed
• 1 cup diced onion
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons vegetable broth, plus more as needed
• 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
• 1 teaspoon tamari
• 1/2 cup unsweetened almond or cashew milk, plus more as needed
• Zest of one large lemon
• 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• Freshly ground pepper

• 1/2 cup diced onion
• 1 cup diced sweet red pepper
• 2 tablespoons water or vegetable broth, plus more as needed
• 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
• 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)
• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
• Freshly ground pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper, allowing a 2 to 3 inch overhang on the two lengthwise sides of the pan.

2. Put the cashews in a blender or food processor and process until they become coarse crumbs.

3. To make the loaf, stir together the cashews, breadcrumbs, quinoa and wheat germ in a large mixing bowl until combined.

4. Put the onion, optional olive oil, tamari and vegetable broth into a medium sauté pan and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add a bit more broth as the mixture gets dry. Add the garlic and sauté one minute more.

5. Add the onion mixture to the cashew mixture and stir together until combined.

6. Put the almond milk, lemon zest, marjoram, salt and pepper into a medium bowl and stir together until combined. Stir the almond milk mixture into the cashew mixture. If the cashew mixture seems dry, add more almond milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is slightly wet, but holds together easily. Or, if the cashew mixture seems too wet, add more wheat germ one tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together. Set the cashew mixture aside.

7. For the filling, put the onion, sweet pepper, optional olive oil and broth into a medium sauté pan and cook for 3 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add a bit more broth as the mixture gets dry. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and transfer to a medium bowl. Cool for 10 minutes, then stir in the optional vegan cheese.

8. Firmly press half of the cashew mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Top with the filling. Using a rubber spatula spread the filling over the cashew mixture in an even layer. Top with the remaining cashew mixture, spreading it into an even layer with the spatula.

9. Fold the excess parchment paper over the top of the loaf and press down. This will keep the loaf moist while baking. Press down again to make the loaf more compact. This will help the loaf to hold together.

10. Bake the loaf for 20 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven and peel back the parchment paper covering the top of the loaf. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the loaf is slightly golden in color, firm to the touch and heated through. Remove the loaf from the oven and cool for 15 minutes.

11. Turn the loaf onto a serving platter and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Cut the loaf into very thick slices, using a serrated bread knife and wiping the knife clean after cutting each slice.

12. Serve warm. Refrigerate any left over loaf. This loaf makes great sandwiches the next day!

• I like to use the sprouted-style bread for this recipe.

• To cook quinoa: Thoroughly rinse 1/2 cup quinoa under cold running water. Place in saucepan with 1 cup of vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 to 17 minutes.

Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.


homemade hummus

1. HELLO HUMMUS. Drain and rinse 2 cups canned chickpeas. Add to a blender with 1⁄2 cup tahini, 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, juice of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon paprika. Blend until smooth. Taste, adjust oil and seasonings as needed, and blend again. Serve or refrigerate.


2. SAY CHEESE. To make a simple paneer (mild cheese), let 1 gallon milk sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Pour milk into a stockpot and heat on medium to 200 degrees, stirring often. Reduce heat if milk sticks to pan. At 200 degrees, add 1⁄2 cup lime juice and stir. The milk will coagulate in seconds. (If it doesn’t, add more lime juice 1 tablespoon at a time until it does.) Reduce heat, stirring gently, 2 minutes. Spoon curds into a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Stir in 2 tablespoons flake salt. Gather cheesecloth around curds and squeeze to release liquid. Press cheese bundle into strainer and top with a plate weighted with a water-filled milk jug. Let cheese press for 15 minutes, unwrap cheesecloth, wrap in plastic for storage and refrigerate overnight.

fresh almond milk 

3. AHOY ALMOND MILK. Cover 1 cup raw almonds with water and soak uncovered, 8 to 48 hours. (The longer they soak, the creamier the resulting milk.) Drain and rinse almonds. Place almonds in blender with 2 cups water. Blend mixture, then pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a jar, squeezing to extract all the milk. Sweeten to taste with vanilla extract, maple syrup or honey. Put lid on jar and refrigerate milk for up to two days. (Add the leftover almond meal to baked goods.)


Hilary's Eat Well

Dress It Up

Hilary’s Eat Well’s Ranch Chia Dressing with Omega-3s is delicious and nutritious, thanks to the organic ingredients, non-GMO verification and digestion-boosting chia seeds.
To Buy: $6, Hilary's Eat Well

Primal Kitchen

Avocado Aioli

Primal Kitchen’s tasty soy-, sugar- and canola oil-free mayo is made with organic egg yolks and nutrient-rich avocado oil.
To Buy: $10, Primal Kitchen

Annie's Naturals

Bust Out the BBQ

Certified organic and Non-GMO Project verified, Annie’s Naturals’ Organic Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce pumps up grilling sessions sans artificial preservatives or flavors.
To Buy: $4, Annie's

Sir Kensington's

Mayo Magic

For the simple goodness of mayonnaise, look to Sir Kensington’s Mayonnaise. Free-range egg yolks and sunflower oil compose this non-GMO spread.
To Buy: $7, Sir Kensington's


Play Ketchup

Crafted from simple, organic ingredients, Organicville’s Organic Ketchup has no added sugar (it uses agave nectar), soy-based thickeners or oils.
To Buy: $5, Organicville


Food is life. Yet eating is something most of us do so often, it can be easy to let feeding our bodies become mindless. Engaging with our food sources is often the most fundamental way in which we interact with other life on our planet. The simple act of choosing good food can transform our basic nourishment into a celebration of the miraculous connections in nature. Whether by learning how science affects our food supply; supporting the call to act as stewards of the farm animals on which much of our diet depends; or simply adding new recipes to our tables, considering our food sources more deeply can be one of the best ways to connect with our health and our planet.

Fun Fact

404 million pounds: How much the use of genetically modified crops increased overall pesticide use from 1996 to 2011, according to a study published in Environmental Sciences Europe.

Weird Science

Safety testing of genetically modified (GM) foods isn’t mandated by the U.S. government. Rather, it’s voluntary on the part of GM developers. These independent animal studies indicate more research may be wise.

According to a study published in The Journal of American Science, rats fed GM corn for 45 and 91 days showed differences in organ and body weights and in blood bio-chemistry, indicating potential adverse health effects (and that more research is needed), compared with rats fed a non-GMO variety grown side-by-side in the same conditions.

A study published in the Journal of Organic Systems found that pigs fed GM corn and soy over 22.7 weeks suffered more severe stomach inflammation than pigs fed a non-GM diet. GM-fed females had on average a 25 percent heavier uterus than non-GM-fed females, a possible indicator of disease that requires further investigation.

Mice fed a diet of potatoes genetically modified with genes from the insect-repelling bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) showed abnormalities in the cells and structures of the small intestine, indicating mild damage to the intestines, according to a study published in the journal Natural Toxins. A control group of mice fed non-GM potatoes containing a naturally occurring Bt toxin showed no abnormalities.

Read More

If you’re hoping to learn about sourcing and preparing ethically raised meat, check out The Ethical Meat Handbook by Mother Earth News Fair speaker Meredith Leigh.

“Weird Science” reprinted with permission from The Organic & Non-GMO Report. Find more information online at The Non-GMO Report.


These mini-cupcakes are on the larger side and perfect for an impressive dessert. But because they are so versatile, they can also be served for breakfast or brunch, in which case you’ll probably want to forgo the frosting and garnish.

carrot cupcakes

Luscious Little Carrot Cakes

Makes 24 mini-cupcakes


Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:
• 12 ounces vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
• 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Carrot Garnish:
• 1/3 cup peeled and grated carrot
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 2-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
• 1 cup peeled and grated carrots
• 3/4 cup raisins
• 1 cup plain or vanilla nondairy milk
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1/2 cup maple syrup
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two 12-cup mini-muffin tins with paper liners.

2. To make the frosting, put the vegan cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and stir vigorously until smooth and well blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.

3. To make the garnish, put the carrot, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Toss and stir with a fork until the carrot is evenly coated with the sugar and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate.

4. To make the cupcakes, put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add the brown sugar and stir with the whisk to combine. Add the walnuts, carrots and raisins and stir until coated with the flour. Stir in the nondairy milk, oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.

5. Divide the mixture among the prepared muffin cups. The muffin cups will be very full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

6. Put the pans on wire racks and loosen the sides of each cupcake with a knife. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pans (you may need to cut the tops apart before removing them from the pans if they have overflowed and fused together). Let cool for about 40 minutes longer.

7. Spoon a generous amount of frosting over the top of each cupcake. Top with a bit of carrot garnish, placed artfully in the center of the frosting. Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, leftover mini-cupcakes will keep for about two days.

Note: Use the frosting from this recipe to top a wide variety of cakes and other baked treats.

Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.

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