Healthy Mashed Potatos

I love mashed potatos, however I have been avoiding making them because milk and butter and salt seemed to be the important components that turned pure starch into something tasty. After making a vegan “cheese” spread from the Forks Over Knives cookbook, I felt like I had some ideas about how to create tasty mashed potatos. Here is the result. I am sure I will be tweaking it each time I make it, and I hope you will add your own ideas and thoughts as comments or emails.

15 red potatos (is what I used for this first run)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp miso paste*
3 tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp sweetener (like honey, I used agave*)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast*

Quarter and boil potatos until tender (about 10 minutes)

In a bowl, add other ingredients except yeast, and blend with a fork until smooth. Drain the potatos, return to pot and begin mashing over a very low heat. Gradually add blend and yeast while mashing until well blended.

* These are ingredients you can find in any grocery coop or grocery health food store and they’re handy to have for adding flavor to your recipes. They are not perfect foods, but when used in moderation are great resources.

Dining Out

One of the harder aspects about enjoying a plant-based diet is navigating the dining out experience. I am however finding that it is easier than I had believed it would be. I have found that any restaurant that has prepares every meal to order not only will help you with your specifications, but actually seem to be very happy to help.

I think in today’s market, with less people dining out, restaurants are working hard to retain regulars. What’s more, the more of us that go in and ask for healthier meals, they will understand the importance of offering better options when they update their menus.

In this post, I want to offer a few tips, then share a couple recent experiences.

1. Plan Ahead
Most restaurants publish their menus online. This makes it easy to plan what you will order and what adjustments might need to be made. There are also a growing number of sites that suggest which restaurants offer vegetarian an vegan options. is the biggest, but with a little searching you should be able to find a regional site, or someone local that has created a blog to share their experiences.

2. Look for the Salad Bar
If a restaurant has an all you can eat salad bar, you can feel pretty safe that you will dine well. The only catch is if you want to avoid oil, you can ask for lemon and add a little vinegar, salt and pepper to make your own dressing, or you could smuggle something in like a ground flaxseed dressing you make ahead of time.

3. Call Ahead
I have not used this technique myself, but if you are concerned about not making a fuss when you are there, you can call ahead and have something prepared for you. This gives the chef more time, and I have heard you can end up with a better meal than what is offered on the menu.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask
I have discovered in any restaurant that has a cook or chef preparing the meals, they are not only happy to work with you to eliminate ingredients, but usually eagerly offer suggested substitutions. It seems that with the growing number of people eating plant-based wait staff is very familiar with these requests, and this will only be getting easier as more of us ask.

5. Eat First
If all esle fails, and you are going to a restaurant that offers little options, don’t arrive starving. This will make it easier to order a salad and be content.

Quinoa Veggie Salad

If you like chopping veggies as much as I do you’ll love this salad. It is a good thing to make after dinner while you still have everything out, and you can use leftover rice, and if you serve quionoa for dinner you can make extra for the salad. You can make this salad and then keep in the fridge for an easy snack.

This is really just a list of ideas, there are many other things you can put into the salad.

1 cup cooked then cooled quinoa
1/2 cup of other grain, bean or legume (be sure to try wild rice)
1/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion

You get the idea, mix them all up in a big bowl. It is best after sitting in the fridge a few hours as the onion flavor gets picked up by the grains.

Chilled Beet Soup

When I was in Athen’s Georgia we ate at a farm to table restaurant that only had one truly plant-based item on the menu, and it included a cold beet soup. I didn’t like the sound of it, but when it came, I savored every bite and wanted to lick the bowl…

I asked the waiter if he knew what was in it, and he happily gave me the few ingredients, revealing that it was not entirely plant based and contained mascarpone cheese. I decided I would figure it out and find a way to make it entirely plant based. Yesterday I had success, and here is the recipe, with my rough amounts, you can adjust it to your own taste.

  • About 8 small beets, quartered
  • One small onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 Quart box of Vegetable Broth (I used low sodium, especially as my cashews were salted)
  • 1.5 cups of cashews
  • 3Tsp of Nutritional Yeast
Bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add beets and onion, reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes (or until beets are soft). Add contents to a blender and blend until smooth. Add back to pot.
In the blender add the cashews and Nutritional yeast, run until creamy. I had to add some water, and kept stopping to remove air bubble, so it took some time, but worth it. Be sure to taste the spatula so you can see how this replaces the mascarpone.
Stir the cashew mix into the soup, and chill.
Serve with your favorite garnish!