Luscious Oat Bars with Kale, Orange and Carob Fudge Topping

Years ago when I read Dr. Barnard’s book Foods That Fight Pain I remember learning that food intolerances can change. That seems to be very true in my case. When I first started eating this way 7 years ago I couldn’t eat garlic or ginger. Now I eat them every day. Several winters ago, as I was recovering from very low vitamin D levels, I noticed to my dismay that citrus fruit, especially oranges, tangerines, clementines and grapefruit–would make my joints hurt. I was sad to have to stop eating them.

This Winter I’m happy to report that I can once again enjoy a bit of orange or clementine. To celebrate that, I’d like to share with you my newest version of banana bars that have been making the rounds on facebook for a couple of years now and recently ended up in the McDougall Friends newsfeed. This version is a little more daring because it combines kale and oranges with the bananas and oatmeal. While the combination might sound unusual, I assure you they are delicious. Although I don’t have to shoot myself out of the cannon in the morning to get to work, I think they would make another great way to chew a healthy breakfast on the go. The carob fudge is optional, but it lends the bars a decadence I wouldn’t want to go without.


My approach to reintroducing some citrus has been incremental over the years. Since I had read how the peel has powerful healing properties, I decided to start by adding back lemon and lime zest. Then a little juice in a dressing or as a condiment. For a long time I stayed with these more sour citrus fruits, because they didn’t incite the inflammatory response like oranges and tangerines.

Over the last year in my sourdough bread-making internet education, I stumbled across an Italian ciabatta aranciata, which simply means a bread in which a whole orange has been pulverized and added in,  peel, pith and all. I was fascinated by that. On further investigation, I discovered that there are lots of recipes for lemon and orange cakes out there that use the whole fruit in the same way. Of course I had to see if my food processor or regular blender would comply. And once I knew they would, I could begin experimenting. I’m happy to say this first experiment was a whopping success, at least in my book of tastes.

I’m very happy I can eat some things I didn’t use to be able to eat. Still, I have yet to eat a whole orange or tangerine in one sitting. Instead I prefer to eat a few or a couple of sections at  a time, cut up in a salad, as a topping on a treat, or whirred into these bars. And I save the peel, chop it up fine and add it to all kinds of things. So it’s a slow miracle in progress.

On the other hand, I seem to have developed a sensitivity to beets. And so the food sensitivity wheel turns, affected by all kinds of forces that also shift in my body and in time. It’s just a matter of paying attention and being willing to experiment a little. Will I ever eat a chocolate beet cake again? Right now it doesn’t seem likely, but if you had asked me a few years ago if I’d be eating tangerines this winter and making my own sourdough spelt bread, I wouldn’t have thought that would be possible either. And even long ago when my food sensitivities seemed most daunting, I was given the grace to be able to ask myself “what can I eat?” instead of complaining “why can’t I eat what I used to eat?” And in the process I discovered a whole world of new taste delights and nutrition.

Maria (moonwatcher)


Yellow Split Pea Soup with Yam and Fennel

potato veggie bake and broccolini


January was a tough month around here. As you may recall from my post Before The World Changed, we had a terrible shooting tragedy here in Moscow, followed up by me getting a splendid case of the flu. Both murder and fever wipe a sense of continuity clean. It was hard to know where I left off or where to start again. It’s still hard some days. When I’m down for the count in body and spirit, and just need something to distract and comfort,  I read recipes online. They don’t have to be fancy, they just have to be vegan, the more colorful and healthy the better. Besides being my way of taking a break when life is too much, it also keeps me inspired and trying new things in the kitchen. It’s comforting to know there’s a vegan “brain trust” of recipes out there at times when I have no idea what I’ll make next, or if I’ll ever think of anything to say on the blog again.

So think of this very short post as a public service announcement. Two simple healthy hearty meals for one or two people are just a click away, if, like me, you’re cooking for  yourself and don’t always want to eat the same thing for most of a week. I found these two recipes when I was recovering from the flu, and needed something substantial to eat, but wanted something easy and new. I’ve made them several times since then, often with a few innovations. The first is Kathy Hester’s wonderful Slow Cooker Split Pea soup for Two or Three. In the photo above, I changed the “key” of the recipe by using yellow split peas, yam and  fresh fennel root, but the original, with green split peas, potato and carrot is dynamite as well.  I’ve made it at least 3 times this winter in my little one quart slow cooker. Be sure to check it out. Nothing simpler. And it’s even better the next day, if such a thing is possible. I like having just one day of leftovers to look forward to.

The second one is  sarahsveganvida’s Fat Free BBQ Potato Packs. I’ve been making these at least once a week, using frozen corn, and throwing in some chopped red cabbage into the bake for good measure. Once it’s done, I’ll usually add a sprinkle of whatever beans I have cooked on top, with a side of microwaved broccolini.

When I’m eating the pea soup, either yellow or green, to make sure I get my fistful of greens I make this salad by sauteing some zucchini and mushrooms in a dash of coconut aminos and a healthy sprinkling of garlic granules and putting them on top of some baby spinach splashed with lemon juice. I usually sprinkle some ground turmeric, black pepper and extra fresh garlic on for good measure. (I’ve also been known to use a couple of dabs of store bought fat free dairy free gluten free dressing.)

quick spinach zucchini mushroom salad

And just this week, I discovered Chocolate Covered Katie’s One Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug. Since I can’t have chocolate and try to avoid granulated sugar, I changed the recipe to carob and used mashed banana instead of coconut oil, maple syrup instead of granulated sugar. I used a version of the carob “fudge” I make for my “Exceptional” Carob Fudge Fingerprint Cookies as the “frosting,” topped with a few slices of  fresh mandarin orange. Oh my what yummy fun. And just enough. Since I’ll be winging Valentine’s Day solo, I think a little cake in a mug will be just the right touch to celebrate my 7th “plantiversary.”

carob cake in a mug

I am so grateful that when I don’t have a lot of energy for cooking or dreaming up new recipes, or even any particularly amazing ideas myself about what to eat for dinner, I can always find delicious and healthy meal ideas in our virtual vegan village by simply “shopping” around. That gives me a little more time to enjoy the old episodes of Northern Exposure I’ve been borrowing from the library. Sometimes a girl just has to take a break. Thanks Virtual Vegan Village, for keeping me fed through thick and thin, and making it easy, tasty and fun. . . but for now. . . back to “The Brick”. . . . .

Maria (moonwatcher)




Stitches in Time

February 7, 2015

The year of my diagnosis, I began learning to quilt. A friend and colleague made beautiful quilts, all by hand. Besides being a fantastic writer about life in the west, I knew she loved to sit in the evenings, listening to classical music and sipping bourbon, as she stitched one lovely stitch at a time. […]

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Quick Chew Your Smoothie Salad

January 29, 2015

My English teacher during my sophomore year in high school once told me in exasperation that I was an “agitator.” Perhaps she is right. But it wasn’t until I was in grad school that a close friend of mine described my style of “agitating” to a tee. Her description went like this: “Maria, it’s as […]

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Before the World Changed: Teff Pancakes (Gluten Free)

January 17, 2015

The world I walk around in every day here in Moscow changed forever last weekend when 3 people were shot and killed and another critically injured by the adoptive son of one of the victims. I didn’t know anyone involved in the shooting directly, but Moscow is a small town, and, I used to like […]

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Vegan Versions: PB2, Cranberry-Fruit Sauce and Other Tasty Odds and Ends

January 7, 2015

Since I moved about a mile or more northeast, the shortest distance to a grocery store puts me at a market that has surprised me with its abundance of great organic produce and a section called “Huckleberries” within it that duplicates much of what I can get at the co-op. On icy days or second […]

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Vegan Versions: Gluten Free Korean Style Red Pepper Paste

January 1, 2015

One of the most fun things I learned after discovering Fat Free Vegan Kitchen nearly 7 years ago now was the custom of eating black-eyed peas and greens at New Year’s time for good luck in the coming year. If you haven’t had your black-eyed peas yet and are wondering how to fix them, here’s […]

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Vegan Versions: Millet Raisin Scones

December 22, 2014

Serendipity is one of my favorite words and experiences. As a word, I love the story Joseph Campbell told  Bill Moyers decades ago about its etymology. It seems there was a family on their way to a place called “saran dweepa” (“the island of silk” now known as Ceylon) who had all kinds of adventures […]

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Vegan Carob Pistachio Dessert “Salami”

December 21, 2014

We vegan cooks like to pride ourselves on how creative it is to be a vegan in the kitchen, recreating traditional standard meals with healthier ingredients. We love to get things to look like “the real thing” too. Some of my favorite treatments of this kind in the vegan blogging world are things like vegan […]

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Golden Vegan Shepherdess Pie

December 18, 2014

  The Winter Solstice is my favorite holiday. There’s so much incipient hope in the turning of our earth back toward the light on the longest night of the year. I also adore that “solstice” literally means “standing still.” As the sun seems to change direction it hangs, seemingly stationary in the sky, for the […]

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