Category Archives: recipe

Becoming Raw

No, no, don’t worry I’m not becoming raw! But I recently did 5 days of mostly raw and really learned a lot about raw food diets. Usually when I do a raw-ish few days it ends up very fruitarian-

Breakfast- bananas, apples, nut butter
Lunch- carrot/apple/ginger juice
Snacks- other fruits, kiwi are my favorite when I can find California-grown
Dinner- a gigantic salad with green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, avocado, carrots, walnuts, nutritional yeast and flax oil.

For a few days this is great, but I get bored pretty easily. Maybe it’s the equivalent of the pasta/marinara sauce vegan diet?

This time I wanted to expand my knowledge and experience with preparing raw foods and really challenge myself. It’s also healthy to get out of your own eating pattern to look at the habits you have developed. To anyone who says going vegan is easy, I challenge you to do 5 days raw! There was more than one occasion where I was standing in the local co-op, starving because I hadn’t prepared well, and the smell of vegan mac and cheese was killing me! After an internal debate about why in the world I was keeping myself from such deliciousness, which probably looked hilarious to on-lookers, I went with a seaweed salad and a raw garlic spread on collard greens. This is the dilemma that faces anyone making lifestyle changes and if you are someone who encourages behavior change you have to check yourself occasionally to remember what it’s like.

Also, during this time I finally sat down and read Becoming Raw, the terrific book written by super-star vegan Registered Dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. I picked it up from Book Publishing Co., who are also friends of mine, back at a nutrition conference in the fall.  

I’ve been getting asked about raw food diets a lot lately and I’ve never been content with what I’ve read and the knowledge I have ascertained until I read this book. The authors painstakingly reference any research they could find related to raw food diets and discuss it using their expertise as Registered Dietitians and long-time vegans. I think true objectivity is impossible, despite what anyone says, but Davis and Melina are as close as possible. They include a history of raw-food theory written by Rynn Berry and explain contemporary versions of the diet; which is very helpful for anyone working with raw food clients.

My own professional opinion on raw foodism has always been pretty simple. It is an adequate diet where one can get all the nutrients they need (If B-12 is supplemented) and all of those fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds provide phytochemicals and anti-oxidants in huge quantity, which is health-promoting and chronic disease fighting. But I don’t think there’s enough research to say that it is any better than a whole-foods based cooked vegan diet. I just don’t think foods like lentils and quinoa need to be eliminated. There are plenty of philosophical and environmental reasons to eat raw and I agree with them, which is why I include a plethora of raw food in my diet, but I’m just not convinced that being fully raw is different enough to justify limiting so many vegan options. Though I’ll continue to read the research and advise all of my clients to eat more raw food and to read Becoming Raw.

The authors were kind enough to let me post two recipes from their book. I made this Brilliant Broccoli salad on my first day raw and loved it so much I made it again the next day! The sum is greater than the parts where the tanginess of the lemon and cranberries are a perfect compliment to the strong taste of tahini- and broccoli florets are the perfect vehicle.


Brilliant Broccoli

1 bunch broccoli
2 carrots, grated
1/2 small red onion, finely diced (I used about 1/4)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 sunflower seeds
3/4 cup Lemon-Tahini Dressing (recipe below)

Wash broccoli, remove stems. Peel and grate the stems and chop the broccoli tops into very small florets. Combine stems, florets, grated carrots, diced onion into bowl. Add dressing and stir well to coat the vegetables. Season with salt to taste. Add cranberries and sunflower seeds and toss briefly. Serve immediately!


Lemon-Tahini Dressing

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup flaxseed oil (I used a little less)
3 T nama shoyu or tamari
2 T nutritional yeast
2 T maple syrup or other sweetener
2 garlic cloves
Ground black pepper

Combine in blender and and process on high speed for a few seconds until well blended. Makes about two salads worth.


This recipe for raw walnut tacos is not from Becoming Raw, but it was another meal I really enjoyed. I first experienced it when Brian Davidson and his wife Jenny made it for me back when he was fully raw. There are a number of raw walnut taco recipes on the internet and they all are basically a variation of the one below. Now you aren’t going to fool a carne-asada loving omnivore, but the similarity to tacos is striking. I love these!


Raw Walnut Tacos

1 1/2 C walnuts (some suggest soaking them in water briefly beforehand)
1.5 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
2 t nama shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
cayenne to taste

Ground walnuts in a blender or food processor until you have very small pieces.  Place walnuts in a bowl and mix in remaining ingredients. Serve with tomatoes and avocados in lettuce or kale leaves.


What are your favorite raw vegan recipes? Please share them with me! And I really do recommend that all vegans do a raw food challenge and learn more about preparing and eating raw foods. Have a great weekend!


Filed under recipe, vegan

Day in the Life 6; Cyclocross Racer Catherine Johnson

The main goal of our Day in the Life series is to show the world that vegan athletes exist and thrive on their diet and lifestyle. But as we make more episodes a second goal is developing: what crazy situations can we can put Matt in?! Today we spend the day cyclocross training in the snow and cold with bad-ass cyclist Cat Johnson in Boulder, Colorado.


How great is Cat?? I love her comment, ‘I went vegan for the cause!’ Veganism and bike racing: There are many ways to do it and you have to look around and see what fits your personality. Don’t rely on any one way to do either. Cyclocross is the most inclusive form of competitive cycling and in my opinion the most fun!

Here are Cat’s tips and some links to get you started


-No one in cyclocross cares how well you are doing as long as you are having fun. Like when she says, ‘No one cares if you are last’ and there I am, in last place in our training ride!

-There are beginner categories that are truly are beginner and inclusive.

-The courses are loops which makes it very spectator friendly. Bring your friends and fam to cheer you on!

-It’s a mix of skills- speed, bike handling, running, jumping- and this evens out the field.

-You can use almost any type of bike that can run fat tires. And many races rent cyclocross bikes!

-There are single-speed categories and even Single Speed World Championships!

-Some resources: Cycling Dirt Cyclocross Magazine, the super fun SoCal Prestige Series in Southern California, and a Beginner’s Guide to Cyclocross on

-Like Cat says about veganism, you can look to different people for different motivation and figure out which type of riding is best for you.


Cat’s Recovery Smoothie

Your post-workout meal should be easily digestible, high in carbohydrate with some protein and be consumed shortly after your workout. This not only replaces the glycogen you expended, but helps to increase your glycogen storage– giving you more energy for your next workout. And even though protein builds strong muscles, those muscles are fueled by carbohydrate.

1.5 cups non-dairy milk like almond, rice or hemp (Hemp milk is higher in protein than other non-dairy, non-soy milk)

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1 scoop Vega Performance Protein powder

1 T Antioxidant Oil Blend

What’s great about smoothies is how flexible they are! Remember our meal-replacing, peanut butter and banana smoothie with Brian from episode one? Cat’s smoothie is similar in that you can easily adjust the calorie ratios. The protein content can be adjusted by switching non-dairy milks and how much protein powder you add, or don’t add! For example I use a higher protein milk and don’t use protein powders. And for Omega-3 I use straight flax oil.

Cat would like to thank her coach Colby Pearce, who took us out on the training ride, her current sponsor Panache Cyclewear and her previous sponsors The Service Course and World Bicycle Relief.  And thank you Cat for spending your day with us!

What’s your favorite recovery meal or smoothie? And if you have any cyclocross resources that I didn’t mention please leave them in the comments!




Filed under Day in the Life, off-road, recipe, vegan

Trail Run Balti

Back in December when a crew of us ran the Ridgecrest 50k, Morgan ‘Goat‘ Beeby suggested a Run and Curry Day: a trail run in the San Gabriel mountains and post-run Balti at his place in Pasadena (recipe below!). This past Saturday opened up for a few of us and we decided to go for it.  Stoked.

Ends up my friend Maria from Chicago, fresh off her win at the Rocky Raccoon 50-miler, would be in town hanging with the Moeben crew and free to join us. A friend of a friend who just moved here from Pittsburgh via Colorado met her and I at Union Station for the train ride to Pasadena. In true Morgan style and British politeness, he met us at the train on his bike, took our extra stuff and rode it to his house while we took a rapid bus to the base of the mountains. Minutes later he rolled up, locked his bike and we were ready to run.


They look a band! L to R, Morgan, Chris, Maria, Matthew.


I love the San Gabriel mountains (I was devastated when the fires hit them hard). So much adventure has been had there, but mostly by mountain or road bike. I’ve hiked there a few times, but, like many cyclists, hiking feels too slow. Could trail running be a ‘slower than riding but faster than walking’ mix of adrenaline and nature?  We headed through Alta Dena on streets before hitting Eaton Canyon and heading up steep, exposed, Mt Wilson Toll Road.  I hate the first climb of the day! Especially in the heat. I wanted to call the WHAAAmbulance, but I knew I’d settle in and we’d be out of the sun shortly. Poor Matthew had a stomach issue from the start and never recovered, but continued on.

At Henninger Flats we saw some ultra runners on their way down (I imagine they don’t start at 1pm! haha). They may have thought we were making fun of them, but our excitement is genuine! From here we climbed a dirt road for another mile before it turned left across a bridge onto Idlehour trail. Here we met Morgan’s friend Chris and the single track began. I had never been on this trail and it was super fun to run. Almost two miles of technical downhill. Morgan dropped the hammer in his boat shoes and I could barely hang on.  Within 15 minutes we hit the beautiful Idlehour campground, located deep in the canyon, almost completely tree-covered. Morgan and I couldn’t resist the draw of the open water and took a very quick, very cold dunk in the stream.


All three photos are on Upper Sam Merrill Trail, above Echo Mountain. This is looking West.


A few miles uphill, doing a mix of running and fast hiking, and we were at Inspiration Point.  From here we hit Upper Sam Merrill trail, which I have ridden before.  Again Morgan set the down hill pace and it was exhilarating!

Morgan and I separated from the others and we were chatting away, jumping off and over rocks and railing the tight turns, when we heard someone yelling from a canyon deep in the mountains. We stop and notice someone waving their arms. Is someone hurt? Shit. Then we hear, ‘It’s Jeff!’ Crazy! He was going to come on our run, but had decided that morning to ride road to Mt Wilson instead. When he got home and it wasn’t dinner time yet he drove up to Pasadena and tried to run toward us. Ha! He was descending from Inspiration Point on another trail but had heard our voices. I guess being loud and talking a lot has its advantages? We all headed toward Echo Mountain and regrouped before the final 2.5 miles of trail down to the road.


It's hard to see, but this is looking South-ish toward downtown Los Angeles. You can see the Palos Verdes penninsula and Catalina Island in the distance.


Back at Morgan’s we all helped with the final steps of the Balti. It has been so long this I have eaten this dish! We grubbed hard and reflected on the beautiful 15-mile run.  Friends, trail running, cold water, huge mountains, huge views and curry = awesome day.

This Balti is from an old-time LA bike activist named Oisin, who I believe moved from LA in 2006. He raced the very first Feel My Legs (photo here). I really had to dig to find this recipe!  I kept the weird UK English for authenticity.


Oisin’s Balti

The Balti Sauce

Makes 1L (~1 3/4 pints)
3 Tbsp veg oil (olive preferable)
2cm cube (3/4 inch) grated fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove pressed or minced
5 onions chopped fine
4 tomatoes (plum/roma are best)
2 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground cumin seed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 bay leaves
4 brown cardamom pods (slightly broken open by crushing w/ knife blade)
1 1/2 tsp dried methi (the leaves of fenugreek)
1 1/2 tsp salt

1. Heat oil in large saucepan
2. stir in ginger and garlic
3. add onions, saute til translucent
4. add 250 mL water, bring to boil while stirring
5. add tomatoes, all spices
6. cover pan, turn heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes
7. remove bay leaves and cardamom pods
8. cool and liquidise

You can make a still very tasty version with just oil, onions, ginger,
garlic, tomato, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, chili, salt, fresh
coriander (1/4 cup)

Pepper, Potato, Mushroom Balti

1 lb potatoes peeled
1/2 – 3/4 lb mushrooms sliced
4 large green and/or red peppers sliced
8-10 Tbsp veg. oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 onions chopped
4 cm cube fresh ginger grated
6 garlic cloves crushed/pressed
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pt (600 mL) Balti sauce (see above)
1 heaped tsp garam masala
2-4 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander

1. boil potatoes in salted water until just tender.  Drain.  Cube.
2. heat 4 Tbsp veg oil add onions and saute until translucent.  remove from pan.
3. heat remaining 6 Tbsp oil. add potatoes and lightly brown for circa 8 minutes
4. add garlic and ginger and cumin seeds
5. stir vigourously making sure to coat potatoes for about 30 seconds
6. add chili, salt, stirfry 1 minute
7. add mushrooms, green peppers, stirfry 2 minutes
8. add Balti sauce, stir
9. add garam masala, coriander
10. turn heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes stirring often

Note, the oil content can be reduced to make it healthier, but I figure I’d rather just eat less of it and have it taste good.  I use olive oil because I think it makes it taste richer, but you can use any vegetable oil.  If using olive oil then bear in mind that it burns at a lower temperature than canola/sunflower.  I also add lots more red and green peppers and sometimes okra.

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Filed under hike, off-road, public trans, recipe, run

Cooking For A Vegan Lover’s cookbook club: Veganomican Recipe #1 – Autumn Root Salad with Warm Maple Fig Dressing

Admittedly, I tend to take on too much. As I sit here, at the end of my first week of the second term of graduate school,  contemplating whether or not it is appropriate to use a dirty kitchen towel as a snot rag and starting to prepare my first recipe review for Cooking For A Vegan Lover’s Cookbook Club I know: I have a very precarious balance of things going on, and it is possible that this one tiny little added thing (the commitment to carefully follow a set of directions written by someone else and review the outcome) might just be the thing that forces me to fall into the abyss of productivity and never come back.

Alas! I could not resist. I love vegan cookbooks, I can spend hours perusing the culinary isles of a book store thinking of the possibilities. I have the propensity to make substitutions in my ingredients based on what I have on hand, or to add spices based on my tastes (namely, more salt, bragg’s liquid aminos, nutritional yeast, cumin, and sriracha) but to me there is something both scientific and fancy about letting someone else do the dictation. It inspires a leap of trust in the process of creation-something I am not entirely used to but have grown to relish.

The first book on the queue is Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Veganomicon. This is perhaps an obvious choice  as the sheer size of this behemoth of a cookbook gives it a seminal  Joy Of Cooking feel but it is not the size of the book alone that gives it it’s reputation. Isa’s recipes (in my experience) are almost without fail. It is clear that she actually tests each one, and that there is care and attention to detail in the creation. Each recipe is approached with consideration and flair. Despite the fact that I hate to flock with the masses, I must say: Moskowitz is one of the best vegan cookbook authors I have invited into my kitchen. Of course, there are less obvious choices, but this certainly makes sense as a start.

I wanted to approach a recipe that I could produce using primarily local and seasonal ingredients. I tend to love salad at all times of year but sometimes the bite of a cold vegetable chills me to my core and leaves me feeling cold for the duration of the day. For this reason Isa’s Autumn Root Salad with Warm Maple Fig Dressing really caught my eye.  It was still a salad packed with greens but also had the added benefits of a starch (sweet potatoes in this case) and a warm dressing. I knew I had to try it.

I had red onions on hand but no shallots, which presented a bit of a challenge. Usually I will say “Feh! What’s the difference?!” and use what I have, but in an attempt to glean some sort of accuracy I acquiesced. I bit the bullet and went to the grocery store. With a new shallot purchase in hand I forged on: this recipe must be made in it’s entirety!




First, the instructions asked to prepare the beets by roasting them whole for an hour or so and then letting them cool to slice. The sweet potatoes were prepared by slicing and boiling. Both the beets and potatoes came out lacking a little something that I think could only be textural. The lack of oil used made the textures all blend together. My advice is to slice the potatoes and beets together, (1/2 inch slices should work), to spray with olive oil, and roast them in the oven. This would take a ton of time off of the recipe (sliced beets roast incredibly quickly, whole beets not so much), reduce dishes, and add some crisp to parts of the potato for more textural variety.

The dressing was a warm amalgamation of dried fig, white wine, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and spices. The result was incredibly rich, and offset the bitterness of the greens well. One caveat: the amounts called for in the recipe produced a relatively insane amount of dressing. I found that putting the leftovers on sandwiches,or boiling the mix in a big pot of lentils made for creative culinary exploration with what was left but one could easily half the recipe and do without the experimentation. The flavors are so strong that a little really does go a long way.




All in all, the premise of the recipe is simple: roast veggies, chill, simmer dressing, blend, mix together and I found myself a bit surprised that I had critiques when it came to the outcome of the taste. A few things I will say: The layout and instructions were very clear and concise, the ingredients were simple to find, the final product was satisfying to snack on. A bit of streamlining in the process of roasting could help exponentially as it would take this recipe from being a delightful seasonal accompaniment to any meal to  FAST delightful seasonal accompaniment to any meal. I would certainly make this recipe again but next time I will add my own techniques into the mix. A little Sriracha on top wouldn’t hurt either.


Recipe here.


Filed under recipe, vegan

Tofu Sauce

[This is the first post- of many!- by Lacy J. Davis. She’ll be a regular contributor to True Love Health. She’s got a lot of great things to say about food, health, veganism, exercise and adventure. You should be as excited as me to read what she has to say! -Matt]

I am weird about food. This is a fact that many of my friends, family, lovers, co-workers, and acquaintances have noticed and commented on and one that becomes painfully apparent in social and business food situations alike. I am vegan, I am allergic to wheat, but most notably-I am picky. It’s just a fact.

There are very few restaurants that I rave about. I consider myself quite the epicurean and delight in many aspects of creating my own meals. Most of my meals are calculated. A balance of protein, carbs, fats, and vegetables is acquired; a variety of colors, shapes and textures are represented; and an attention to the origins of my ingredients is finely honed. While eating at restaurants can be a wonderful sensory experience, it also can stand as a painful reminder: how often have I paid too much for a plate of food that lacks love in its preparation, uses lifeless produce (if any at all) and leaves me with a full belly but a bored palate? While I have learned that relinquishing control of the exact size and shape of my meals can be beneficial, I still much prefer to imbue my meal with a certain attention before it is consumed. I rarely stray from my home at meal time but when it comes to my out – of – the – house foods of choice I will go to great lengths to acquire them.

Matt compromises with me when it comes to my food particularities. As a result, on his recent birthday adventure (a 50-mile round trip bike ride to Redondo Beach) he suggested dining at The Green Temple . This is a place that is pretty suited to my tastes (a focus on whole foods and a balanced plate) and despite being a bit more expensive than we would like, it boasts a little something that we could not help but love: a delightful side known as tofu sauce.

While the name of this delectable treat may sound like a joke- “What do vegans eat?! Rocks and tofu sauce all day?!” – the taste is anything but. It is creamy, cheesy, alfredo-y. It is simple, savory, satiating, delightful. I couldn’t exactly place why I loved this delicious cream that covered my steamed vegetables and baked potato lunch so much but one thing was certain- I did.

My tofu sauce experience took place in September, and when I returned to Southern California this December a bike ride to the tofu sauce temple of the world was at the top of my to-do list. Many factors stood in my way: The sky clouded over and misted. Matt grimaced at a 50-mile bike ride for sauce in crappy weather. (I would have done it, I swear to God!) Despite my taste buds’ desires I knew that the stormy winter season of LA (a horrible week long affair!) had won this time. I’d have to make the sauce on my own.

A quick search for “tofu sauce recipe – Green Temple” produced this recipe:

  • 3/4C Almond or Safflower oil
  • 3/4C Water
  • 1/4C Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 2T Brewer’s Yeast
  • 1/4t Kelp Powder
  • 1/4t Spike Seasoning
  • 1/4t Basil
  • 1/8t granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2t lemon juice
  • 1 1/2t wheat-free Tamari
  • 16 oz firm tofu, rinsed well


Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Serve warm or cold over anything.

(I especially loved the suggestion to serve this sauce over anything. SO right on.)

I’m not gonna lie to you, I don’t have kelp seasoning on hand. and ¾ cup of oil seemed a little extreme. I modified:

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 3/4C Water
  • 1/4C + 1.5 t wheat free soy sauce
  • 2T nutritional Yeast
  • ½ t Zatar Seasoning (I figured, it was around so why not?!)
  • 1/4t Basil
  • 1/8t granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2t lemon juice
  • 28 oz firm tofu, rinsed well

You may notice that I nearly doubled the tofu recommendation and halved the liquid. This google search induced recipe was so thin it was like water! My Alfredo equivalent could never be so skimpy.

My final verdict: my sauce was just as decadent and divine as the original. While I didn’t get the benefit of a nice ride in, I did avoid the weird cold sweat that occurs when pushing the bike hard in damp weather. I added steamed veggies and a baked potato to the mix just like the original and probably saved about 80% of the price by making this healthy wholesome meal at home. Not only that- I also got to eat seconds.

(Yup, That’s a full block of tofu in a blender. Now all of your non-vegan friends can laugh at us.)


Filed under recipe, vegan

Kale Soyrizo Purple Cabbage

1. Take what's in fridge.
2. Dice.
3. Pan fry in olive oil.
4. Serve with open-flame warmed corn tortillas.

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