Happy New Year 2013 with Healthy Kids’ Lunchboxes

If one of your New Years’ Resolutions is to eat healthier, a deliciously easy and thrifty way to begin is to pack plant-based lunches for you and your family.

Three of my recipes for healthy sandwiches including Eggless Tofu Salad on Pumpernickel, Save the Oceans Salad on Marble Rye and Vegetarian Wrap along with my Wonderful Fat-Free Vegan Black Bean Brownies are featured in the January/February 2013 issue of Kidaround Magazine.

You can view the magazine, featuring a photo of my adorable son, William along with other local kids and me, online at www.kidaroundmag.com or pick up a copy at Whole Foods Market or your local Sacramento area library.

Check out the recipes here:

Eggless Tofu Salad on Pumpernickel

I love Eggless Tofu Salad.  This recipe is creamy and delicious without the cholesterol and cruelty of hard-boiled chicken eggs.  Since we’re using Vegenaise rather than animal-based mayo, we’re saving on the cholesterol there, too.

The yellow of this salad is beautiful on pumpernickel bread.  Add spinach or arugula, sliced tomato and cucumber for a healthy, delicious and colorful sandwich.

Makes enough to spread on 4-6 sandwiches; Nut-free


1 pound regular extra-firm tofu (The kind packed in water – not silken.  I like Wildwood’s SprouTofu)

¼ cup Reduced Fat Vegenaise or other low-fat vegan mayo

¼ cup Dijon mustard, preferably Grey Poupon (really!)

¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley

4 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons turmeric

Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

Fine sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste


Drain tofu, wrap in clean, lint-free kitchen towel and press out excess water.  Crumble gently into medium bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and smash together with a fork until well mixed.  Mixture should still have some texture.  Use salad as a sandwich filling (with lettuce and tomato on pumpernickel, whole grain wheat bread or in a wheat pita) or serve on a bed of lettuce with a couple other salads as a salad sampler plate.

Nutrition Info:  Egg yolk consumption is almost as bad as smoking when it comes to atherosclerosis, according to a 2012 study by Drs. David Spence, David J.A. Jenkins and Jean Davignon[i].  Atherosclerosis (coronary artery disease) is the usual cause of most heart attacks and many strokes.  The regular consumption of eggs, particularly egg yolks is about two-thirds as bad as smoking cigarettes when it comes to increased build-up of carotid plaque, a risk factor for both heart attacks and strokes, the number one and number four killers in the U.S. today.  The presence of extremely high levels of cholesterol in egg yolks is the main reason for this detrimental effect.

Tofu, made from soybeans, on the other hand, is cholesterol-free and has been shown to decrease the risk of atherosclerosis.  [ii]

By substituting tofu for eggs in this salad sandwich, you are reducing the risk factors for heart attacks and stroke for your spouse, yourself and your children.

[i] [i] J. David Spence, David J.A. Jenkins, Jean Davignon. Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque. Atherosclerosis, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.07.032

[ii] Jenkins DJKendall CWJackson CJConnelly PWParker TFaulkner DVidgen ECunnane SCLeiter LAJosse RG.

Effects of high- and low-isoflavone soyfoods on blood lipids, oxidized LDL, homocysteine, and blood pressure in hyperlipidemic men and women.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Aug;76(2):365-72.

Save the Oceans Salad Sandwich

(Herbed Garbanzo Bean Salad Sandwich)

 This is one of my takes on tuna salad (and my personal favorite).  I love cooking with fresh herbs.  Garbanzo beans make a great substitute for tuna in many recipes.  They are full of fiber and clean plant protein.  Be sure to mash the beans just half way, so the salad will still have some texture.  Fresh lemon juice is the secret ingredient in this recipe.  It really brightens up the salad and brings out the flavors of all the fresh herbs.  Kelp granules give the salad a “briney”, “oceany” taste, reminiscent of seafood and provide a generous dose of iodine.  Note: Be sure not to overdo on the kelp as we can get too much iodine.

Serves 6; Gluten-free Option; Nut-free


2 (14 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

¼ cup fresh chives or scallions, minced

3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

3 tablespoons fresh tarragon or basil, minced (or 1-2 tablespoons of each)

2 teaspoons kelp granules

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup Reduced Fat Vegenaise

¼ cup unsweetened soy yogurt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Partially mash beans with chives, dill, tarragon, kelp, lemon zest and juice and stir in just enough mayo and soy yogurt to moisten the beans.  Season to taste with pepper.

Serving Suggestions

Serve a scoop on top of a bed of baby mixed greens, stuff some salad into a whole wheat pita or on toasted rye or pumpernickel along with some lettuce and tomato or serve as part of a salad sampler plate with Eggless Tofu Salad and Sonoma Tempeh Salad.  Drizzle salad with a few drops of extra red wine vinegar or lemon juice to moisten and brighten the greens.

Eco Info:   According to Ransom A. Myers and Boris Worm, researchers at the Biology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the 50 years between 1950 and 2000, nearly 90% of the Earth’s oceans were emptied of all the large predatory marine life due to overfishing and pollution[i].  If current trends continue, by 2048, the oceans will be empty.[ii]  According to leading scientists, the only course of action is to stop removing all marine life from the sea and allow the sea to heal.

For more info, watch the documentary film, Sea the Truth documentary film http://www.seathetruth.nl/en/ Watch for free on vimeo or YouTube. 

[i] Nature 423, Rapid Worldwide Depletion of Predatory Fish Communities.  Ransom A. Myers & Boris Worm.  280-283 (15 May 2003) doi:10.1038/nature01610; March 2003

[ii] Science 3 November 2006: Vol. 314 no. 5800 pp. 787-790, DOI: 10.1126/science.1132294, Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services

Boris Worm1,*, Edward B. Barbier2, Nicola Beaumont3, J. Emmett Duffy4, Carl Folke5,6, Benjamin S. Halpern7, Jeremy B. C. Jackson8,9, Heike K. Lotze1, Fiorenza Micheli10, Stephen R. Palumbi10, Enric Sala8, Kimberley A. Selkoe7, John J. Stachowicz11 and Reg Watson12

Vegetarian Wrap

This wrap is easy and delicious.  Filled with fresh vegetables, flavorful oil-free hummus and smoky Tofurky, it’s filling and satisfying.

Serves 4; Nut-free


4 whole wheat lavash wraps or whole wheat tortillas

½ cup Easy Oil-Free Hummus (or oil-free store bought hummus)

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

1 cup shredded carrot

1/2 red bell pepper, cored and sliced

1 package Hickory Smoked or Oven Roasted Tofurky


Spread each wrap with hummus, then with one fourth of each of the fillings.  Roll tightly and cut in half on the diagonal.  Serve immediately.

Tip:  Make an extra wrap or two to put in you and your and your family’s lunch boxes the next day.

Nutrition Info:  Hundreds of studies, including one at the Canadian Cancer Registries Epidemiology Research Group show that eating processed meat (many commonly fed to kids), such as hot dogs, bologna, pepperoni, ham, salami, bacon and other smoked and cured meats increases the risk of a variety of cancers including esophageal, pancreatic, thyroid, prostate, rectal, testicular, colon, endometrial and leukemia. [i]

On the other hand, plant-based meats including tempeh bacon and wheat meat like Tofurky, have been shown to decrease the risk of cancer and overall mortality (death).  It is an easy and delicious way to transform your meals.


[i] Hu J, La Vecchia C, Morrison H, Negri E, Mery L; Canadian Cancer Registries Epidemiology Research Group. Salt, processed meat and the risk of cancer.  Eur J Cancer Prev. 2011 Mar;20(2):132-9.

Wonderful Fat-Free Chocolate Black Bean Brownies with Fresh Strawberry Sauce

These brownies are rich, moist and chewy.  They are also vegan and virtually fat-free!  They are quite possibly the world’s healthiest, yet still scrumptious brownie!  The black beans provide binding and substance (sort of like egg and butter), while providing protein and fiber.  I created them when I first taught at Dr. McDougall’s Health & Medical Center for their Celebrity Chef Weekend back in 2009.

Serve these brownies alone with a little sprinkle of powdered sugar or, if you really want to impress, top with my homemade cashew-based Vanilla Ice Cream and Fresh Strawberry Sauce for a show-stopping ending to any meal.  Your family and friends will never guess this decadent dessert is actually good for them!

P.S.  If serving with powdered sugar, sprinkle each square just before serving.  If sprinkled on ahead of time, the moisture in the brownies will seep into the powdered sugar and make the top of the brownies look gummy.

Makes 12 medium or 24 small rectangles; Soy-free, Nut-free and Gluten-free (if using gluten-free oat flour)


1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/4 cups pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup organic fair trade cocoa powder *See Note Below

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

3/4 cup oat flour or whole wheat pastry flour (oat flour will make a fudgier brownie, while whole wheat will make a cakier brownie)

Serve with Vanilla Ice Cream (Dairy-free) & Fresh Strawberry Sauce (optional)

Garnish with fresh mint; dust rim of plate with powdered sugar and/or cocoa powder (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Line an 8×8” pan with parchment paper and allow about 1” of the paper to hang out on each side.  Spray with a little non-stick cooking spray.  This will allow you to lift the brownies out of the pan once they cool.

2.  Place black beans in food processor and with the blade running, stream in maple syrup.  Process until smooth.

3.  Add the flax seeds, vanilla, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt process until well mixed.

4.  Add the flour and pulse until just until barely combined, scraping the sides as needed.  Do not over mix.

5.  Pour into prepared pan.

6.  Bake approximately 40 minutes or until center is no longer jiggley when shaken gently and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.

7.  Allow to cool completely before slicing.  Cut into 12 medium or 24 small rectangles.

8.  Top with a scoop of Iced Vanilla Cashew Cream and drizzle with Fresh Strawberry Sauce  (see recipes, below).

*Note:  Visit The Food Empowerment Project at www.foodispower.org for a list of organic, vegan, slavery-free brands of chocolate and cocoa powders.

Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Make this fresh, sweet syrup whenever strawberries are in season.  Drizzle it over ice cream, pancakes or French toast.  Substitute any seasonal fresh fruit for the strawberries including blueberries, peaches, kiwi and more!


2 cups fresh strawberries (substitute frozen, thawed organic strawberries if desired)

¼ cup pure maple syrup (more or less as needed depending on sweetness of fruit)


Puree in blender until smooth.  Warm gently just until heated through if desired or serve as is.

Nutrition Info:  Black beans are low in fat and high in protein and fiber.  They are also a rich source of phytochemicals, particularly anthocyanins, which help fight inflammation.  Brownies are typically loaded with butter and eggs – both extremely high in fat and cholesterol.  By replacing these animal products with heart-healthy black beans, we’ve cut the calories along while lowering our risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer.



Please like & share:

Tags: , ,

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)