Recipe for Change

This was not a normal election.  I know I am hardly the first to say so, but as we approach Inauguration Day I feel compelled to address the current political climate and what it will mean to be inclusive in the days ahead.
For the sake of transparency, you should know that I have always voted as a Democrat.  Having grown up outside of Washington D.C., I had friends throughout high school and college who were Republican, though I’ve noticed that fewer and fewer of my closest friends are Republican as I get older.  This, I believe, is a major part of our problem as a country.  Nevertheless, I hope to be and imagine myself as someone who invites reasonable conversation with people who think differently than I do.
But this was not an election based on reason.  From where I sit, it certainly looked and felt as though Trump’s ascent was based around fear mongering and mockery of people with disabilities, of immigrants, and (most painfully for me) of women.
On election night, I imagined the wave of fear upon which Trump’s campaign had risen change form and crash over me.  I felt myself tumble in the transfer of anxiety from those who voted for Trump’s vile messages of othering to those of us who claim a different platform.
And yet, something was missing from that story.  Though undoubtedly some people voted for Trump’s messages of hate, I know some who simply didn’t want to vote for Hillary and others who just felt exhausted of the establishment.
Still, I am genuinely scared of what will happen in the next four years.  Someone with a frighteningly fragile ego and desperately little experience now represents me at the highest level.  Someone who is known to have sexually assaulted women, someone who calls Global Warming a hoax created by China.  Trump does not, nor will he ever, represent my beliefs.
And yet, this it the situation we find ourselves in.  And Trump is only part of the problem.  The larger issues lie is discovering how we got ourselves into this mess to begin with, how to be in relationship and compromise with people of different political parties, and how to advocate for civil and environmental rights in an era which dismisses them.
This Inauguration Day feels to me like an invitation to act, a call to defend my values and to listen with openness for the disconnect I have overlooked.  The question is how.  In an attempt to clarify my own thinking, I found it useful to create a recipe for change.  This is what I came up with and have promised to live by during the next four years.
It begins with friendly curiosity.  I began by talking to myself the way I would talk to my best friend- asking myself how I was feeling and where I was feeling it.  Wondering why and how this has happened.  With an open and gentle and forgiving heart, I took a look in the mirror of my own fear, and searched for where I have been complacent.
What I learned was that I felt personally threatened and attacked.  My body was on the defensive, and I was toggling between fighting and fleeing to Canada.  I began reading, looking for answers and clues to my blind spots.  I read about the growing group of poor, uneducated and jobless white people in our post-industrial era.  I read about the hubris of the elite liberal class, of which I am part, who did not see the power of nationalism because we have benefited from a globalized economy.  I read about Britain.  I read about France.
I read this passage from George Packer’s article in The New Yorker and saw myself reflected in it:
“Looked at this way, the élites on each side of the partisan divide have more in common with one another than they do with voters down below. A network-systems administrator, an oil-and-gas-company vice-president, a journalist, and a dermatologist hire nannies from the same countries, dine at the same Thai restaurants, travel abroad on the same frequent-flier miles, and invest in the same emerging-markets index funds. They might have different political views, but they share a common interest in the existing global order. As Thomas Frank put it, “The leadership of the two parties represents two classes. The G.O.P. is a business élite; Democrats are a status élite, the professional class. They fight over sectors important for the national future—Wall Street, Big Pharma, energy, Silicon Valley. That is the contested terrain of American politics. What about the vast majority of people?”
I read two books which were uncomfortable and illuminating and which I can highly, highly recommend:
The first is a book called The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart. about how we have self segregated into politically homogeneous communities.  And as we self-segregate, we become more extreme.  And as we become more extreme, we become less able and willing to compromise.
The second is a book called The Righteous Mind:  Why Good People are Divided by Religion and Politics.  It is an extraordinary book, one of the best and most influential I have ever read.  It is written by Jonathan Haidt, a moral pyschologist out of the Positive Psychology movement.  It is clearly intended for a liberal audience and explains a conservative perspective in ways that are helpful and relatable.
I’ve always thought hope can be a terrible emotion. Hope can be blind, naive, and dangerous.   But informed hope can be the first step in envisioning the future you want to build.  Hope can be be a practical process of starting with the end in mind, imagining the world that ought to be.  So what do I hope for?
I hope for a globalized society where we are all provided with the dignity of work.  I hope for a national narrative that neither divides us into the 99% and 1%, nor by political parties, but unites us as a whole. I hope for an excellent education for all people, where we are taught to engage critically with texts, and inclusively with our neighbors.  I hope for a world of integrated thought, where I am in close relationship with people who think differently from me.  I hope for a world where vulnerability is viewed as strength.
There are some questions that cut through the noise and head straight to the heart of the matter.  The most important one for me was borrowed from Elizabeth Gilbert: Who do I want to be in this situation?  
Asking this question is a continual invitation into integrity.  What does this situation demand of me, and how do I want to rise to the occasion?  It’s terribly easy to be caught up in anxiety around the future, but the only true way to truly engage with change is to engage with what is in front of you at this very moment.
None of us are defined by worst thing we’ve ever done or the worst circumstance we’ve found ourselves in.  But, to quote Glennon Doyle Melton, we may be what we do next.   The question is, who do we want to be, as individuals, as communities, as a nation, and as a world?
Now we move into action, by speaking truth to power.  Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”  What do you witness?  Say it, out loud.  Say it to friends and allies.  Say it on social media. Say it to institutions of power where you have influence,  And if you can bear the cost, say it to institutions where you have no influence, where your voice is not wanted.
So where am I naming it?  Right now, I’m naming the experience to you.  I’m naming it among my colleagues and my friends.  And I’m looking for more places to name it.  Speaking the truth invites others to do the same.  Our voices will carry if we speak them together.
Next, get philanthropic.  Who is doing the good work that aligns with your values?  How can you align yourself with them, and offer support?  I have given to Planned Parenthood, because I believe they support women in making thoughtful and empowered decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.  I have subscribed to The New York Times, because I believe we will need fact checked media in the days ahead.  And I’m looking to donate to innovators in clean energy, because I believe the scientific communities assessment of global warming and am scared for the future of our planet.  If you have anyone you can recommend, let me know.
This is the final and most complex step.  It requires constant vigilance and an acute awareness of what you are willing and able to sacrifice.  What does it mean to embody curiosity, hope, and resistance?
Embodying resistance does not require Facebook or philanthropy.  It means living kindness, everyday.  It means asking myself, as often as I can remember, how would kindness behave in this situation?  It’s about the attempt to live with integrity, by aligning my values and my action.  This is no easy feat.
Let me be clear:  there are real costs and consequences to embodying change.  I fear, like many of us, that I will not always be strong enough to act from love and do the right thing.  But self abuse for the mistakes we will inevitably make will yield nothing useful.  Embodying change is a practice and, as such, requires practice and patience.  It requires you to build up your moral muscles, engage critically with the moment, and think honestly and compassionately about what you can do.
It is only through immense, unconditional compassion for ourselves and others that we will be able to sustain resistance.  We may not be able to do everything- we may be lacking the courage or clarity or means- but we all can and must do something.
It’s the only possible path forward.
Love and change,

Chickpea and Quinoa Burger

Chickpea and Quinoa Burgers

This is week three in our three week series on planning ahead, and this week’s tip is recycle leftovers.

This is perhaps the most obvious tip, but so often I think we forget that leftovers can be reincarnated.  This week, I wanted to utilize our make ahead Quinoa Tabbouleh, and Tahini Sauce in a new and interesting way.

Thus, the Chickpea and Quinoa Burger was born!

This honestly could not be easier.  You mix a cup of your Quinoa Tabbouleh in with 2 cups of cooked chickpeas, and 1/2 cup of chickpea flour.  If you’ve eaten all your quinoa tabbouleh, you can throw in some of that leftover quinoa that you so thoughtfully prepared ahead of time.  Honestly, you could throw all manner of leftovers into these burgers.  A traditional bulgur wheat tabbouleh could be substituted for the quinoa.  You could also totally omit the grain, and just add lots of fresh herbs and spices.  If you don’t have chickpea flour, any flour will do.  The point is to make the patty a bit drier, so that you get those lovely, crispy brown edges.  You can serve them naked, on a bun, or in a pita.

In other words, there are endless options to jazz up your leftovers.

What are some of your favorite tips for planning ahead?

Love and Chickpeas,


Cooking Burgers 2


Chickpea and Quinoa Burger
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup Mom's Quinoa Tabbouleh
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, for frying
  • Tahini Sauce, for serving
  1. In a food processor, pulse together chickpeas, tabbouleh and chickpea flour until a thick paste forms. It should still be chunky.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Scoop 1/4 cup of the chickpea batter and form into a patty. Fry on one side for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. Flip and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Set aside on paper towels, and continue to cook the remaining patties.
  3. Serve with tahini sauce.

Tahini Sauce

Tahini Sauce

Last week, Molly wrote in with her question:

Hi Amanda,

I would love your suggestions on meal preparation tips to support healthy eating during a hectic week. My question is actually both related to organization and inspiration; lately I have not felt as inspired to create satisfying, creative and nourishing meals.  I am in graduate school and my partner works full-time, so often we are scrambling to pull together efficient, delicious and healthy meals. Our household is vegetarian and we are committed to buying locally for as much of our food as possible.

We are willing to put in several hours combined of planning and prepping healthy meals each week, and would love your ideas on staying organized, optimizing time, and are looking for some fun new meal ideas.  Thanks so much!  Your passion and enthusiasm are palpable! 

This was such  a great question that I’m devoting three posts to answering it.  Last week we focused on devoting time to preparing ingredients.  This week, we’re devoting time to getting sauce-y!  (Sorry, I can’t help myself).

Having a variety of sauces in your repertoire can help re-invigorate your go-to meals.  If you have a can of chickpeas, you can toss it with a great sauce and suddenly you have a delicious side salad.  If you’re like me, and end up roasting a lot of your produce, having a great sauce to toss them in will keep things interesting.  You can throw a great sauce over pasta, or whole grains to make amazing salads.

And if you have sauce prepared ahead of time, it’s always ready and waiting for you.  This tahini sauce is my go-to sauce for dressing salads, spreading over flatbreads, or dipping raw and roasted vegetables.

Kale Salad with Tahini

Last week, I made a big batch to have on hand.  I tossed it with some chopped kale, and leftover roasted cauliflower and asparagus to make a gorgeous, packed lunch salad.   I also used it as a dip for my Chickpea and Quinoa Burgers (coming next week!).

If tahini is not your thing or you’re looking for a lighter sauce, my Spicy Mint Chutney is also incredible!

What are your favorite go-to sauces?  Let us know in the comments below!

Love and Tahini,

Tahini Sauce
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt, to taste
  1. Whisk or blend all ingredients together until totally smooth.
  2. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

Mom’s Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa Tabbouleh 2

We’re doing another Ask Amanda!  This week’s question comes from Molly.  She writes:

Hi Amanda,

I would love your suggestions on meal preparation tips to support healthy eating during a hectic week.  My question is actually related to both organization and inspiration;  lately, I have not felt as inspired to create satisfying, creative, and nourishing meals.  I am in graduate school and my partner works full-time, so often we are scrambling to pull together efficient, delicious, and healthy meals.  Our household is vegetarian and we are committed to buying locally for as much of our food as possible.

We are willing to put in several hours combined of prepping and planning healthy meals each week, and would love your ideas on staying organized, optimizing time, and are looking for some fun new meal ideas.

Thanks so much!  Your passion and enthusiasm are palpable!

Thank you so much for your question, Molly!  This is such a great question and such a broad topic that I’ve created a three-part series to answer it.

Most people don’t think of what they’re going to make for dinner until dinner is just around the corner.  Maybe you’re ahead of the game, and you do think about what you’re going to make for dinner.  You made a list, went to the store, and have everything you need ready and waiting at home.  But you forgot to factor in prep time.  Before you know it, you’re home, totally exhausted, and getting hangry.

The good news is that with a little forethought and preparation, you can set yourself up for a week’s worth of delicious variety.

To make it easy, I’ve broken it down into three simple steps:

1. Devote time to preparing ingredients.

2. Get sauce-y!

3. Recycle your leftovers.

This week, I’ll cover devoting time to preparing ingredients.  I’ll cover the next two steps in the coming weeks.  But for now, let’s focus on step one.

Fresh Herb Prep

We are always choosing between time and money.  Do you want to chop vegetables, or do you want to buy pre-cut vegetables?  Do you want to buy hummus, or do you want to make your own?  Only you know what works for you, but the key to planning ahead is having ingredients prepped and ready to go when you are.

Our food choices are mostly a matter of habit, and I suggest getting in the habit of planning one week of meals at a time.  I promise it will save you a lot of time and wasted food over the course of the week.

I literally will sit down with a calendar and map out what I’m going to eat before heading to the grocery store.  Weekends are a little more leisurely for me, and of course I don’t always stick to the plan, but having an idea for Monday through Friday prepares me for the days I come home ravenous (which, honestly, are most days).

For my own schedule, I like to devote a few hours on Sunday to buying and preparing ingredients.  First, I’ll do my big grocery shop.  Stick to what you need to buy for the week, and restock your pantry staples.  This could be a whole post in itself, but keeping a well stocked pantry is the key to quick and creative meals.  I always have a variety of whole grains, legumes, dried fruits, nuts, seeds and spices on hand.

Then I get my raw materials ready for the week.  For some people, the idea of prep work is dreadful, but it’s all about your mindset!  I really think of it as a devotional practice,  and I find it soothing to take time deliberately out of my weekend to listen to some music, chop a few vegetables, and get myself ready for the week.

Whatever pattern suits your schedule, get in the kitchen as much as possible.  It connects you with your food, allows you to control the quality of ingredients, and sparks creative ideas.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

My mom’s Quinoa Tabbouleh is the perfect make-ahead meal for spring.  The salad itself will last in the refrigerator all week, and you can do double-prep on the ingredients.  Cook twice the amount of quinoa.  Use half in the tabbouleh, and the other half will be ready to go whenever you need it:  eat it as a morning cereal with walnuts, raisins, almond milk, and a drizzle of maple syrup;  stir it into some pancake batter; bulk up your soups by stirring in a cup or two;  or use it as the base of a spicy stir fry.

Chop twice the amount of fresh herbs.  Toss them in soups and salads throughout the week, or use them as a garnish.  You can peel some extra cloves of garlic, while you’re at it.  If you have your raw ingredients ready to go, you’ll be more likely to use them.

What other suggestions do you have for Molly?  Let us know in the comments below!

Love and Quinoa,


P.S. Next week, I’ll give you the recipe for my favorite Tahini Sauce and an easy packed-salad idea.  Two weeks from now, I’ll give you my recipe for Chickpea and Quinoa Burgers.  Stay tuned!

Mom’s Quinoa Tabbouleh
  • 1 cup whole grain quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup basil, julienned
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, add quinoa and water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for 12 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the quinoa to continue to cook, off the heat, for another 15 minutes.
  2. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. You can add the additional 2 tablespoons of oil if you think your salad seems dry.
  3. Transfer the quinoa to a large mixing bowl and toss with scallions, basil, parsley, garlic and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Curried Cauliflower Steak with Chickpea Mash and Mint Chutney


We’re doing another Ask Amanda this week!  Chris wrote in with his question:

Hey Amanda,

I’m a vegetarian and my partner is a patient omnivore. Most meals we make together are strictly vegetarian. I’m afraid our de facto ingredients are getting a little tired: chickpeas (and hummus), black beans, tomatoes, and bell peppers. We both work full time, so we can’t devote too much time to preparation. What can we make that’s novel and quick?

Wonderful question, Chris.  I totally hear you on the food rut struggle.

Often you’ll hear the complaint that veg-friendly food is boring and limited.  The truth is that our food routines are mostly habit, and they can be as varied as we’d like them to be.


There are lots of fabulous ingredients that make for hearty main courses: eggplant, cauliflower, butternut squash, portobello mushrooms, black eyed peas, cannellini beans, millet, buckwheat… the list goes on and on.  It sounds like you have some pretty great staples on hand already, so I want to offer you some novel suggestions that will reinvigorate your relationship with familiar ingredients with just a few additions to your pantry.  I’ll also offer some options that totally eschew those familiar ingredients, just in case you’re truly sick of them.


This recipes is incredibly simple in terms of preparation, and is an innovative twist on steak and potatoes for your omnivorous partner. Cauliflower Steaks are a great way to create an eye catching centerpiece for your plate.  The cauliflower that is leftover from slicing the steaks is steamed and pureed with chickpeas with some fresh lemon juice, garlic, cumin and olive oil.  (If you are truly sick of chickpeas, you can also replace them with white beans or cooked millet in this recipe).


There are three components to this dish (the steaks, the mash, and the chutney) but you can mix and match them as you see fit.  You could just use the mint chutney to add a twist to a black bean salad, or serve the mash with a portobello steak roasted got about 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven with a little balsamic vinegar.  The Cauliflower Steak will take on any spices you already have lurking in your pantry, and it’s a great thing to have in your repertoire.

Let us know what you think!

What other ideas do you have for Chris?  Let us know by leaving a comment!

And for more great recipes, be sure to subscribe to The Inclusive Vegan Recipe of the Week below this post.

Love and Cauliflower,

Curried Cauliflower Steak with Chickpea Mash and Mint Chutney

Yield: 2 servings

  • For the Cauliflower Steaks:
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the Chickpea Mash:
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 4 cups cauliflower, steamed
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil (optional)
  • For the Mint Chutney:
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. For the Cauliflower Steaks: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the leaves from the base of the cauliflower. Slice cauliflower into two 1 inch steaks from the center of cauliflower. Set aside the remaining florets.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil over the cauliflower steaks and sprinkle over curry powder, salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes, until caramelized and tender.
  3. For the Chickpea Mash: Steam the remaining cauliflower florets by placing them in a steamer basket over one inch of boiling water. You could place the cauliflower florets in a medium saucepan with one inch of boiling water, until soft.
  4. Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor and process with all other ingredients until smooth.
  5. For the Mint Chutney: Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until totally smooth.
  6. To assemble: Place half the chickpea mash in a shallow bowl. Place one cauliflower steak on top and drizzle over half the sauce. Repeat with another plate and share with your sweetnheart.


For the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, use white beans instead of chickpeas.

For a Whole Foods, Plant Based Diet, omit the oil.


Roasted Asparagus Risotto with Spinach Leek Pesto


This week we are introducing a new segment called Ask Amanda, where readers write in with dilemmas and I offer practical and tasty solutions.  This week’s request comes from Meaghan. She writes:

Dear Amanda,

I just started dating a new guy who is a vegetarian and fantastic cook. He’s made me a bunch of delicious meals, and I want to return the favor. As a less than confident chef, I want to make him a tasty dinner that doesn’t entail a ton of ingredients or complicated steps. It would be great if the meal had a spring theme, even though it still doesn’t feel like spring in Massachusetts. What would you recommend? Thank you!

Great question, Meagan!  First of all, kudos to you for your open attitude toward your partner’s vegetarianism. When I think of seasonal, spring ingredients, I think asparagus, spinach and leeks.  And what better way to combine them than in a delicious risotto?

Risotto is actually incredibly easy to make.  You don’t need to spend all day stirring over a hot pot, you just need about 30 minutes, and the occasional stir.

This whole recipe uses only 10 ingredients.  By using the leeks in both the risotto and the pesto, it minimizes the list of ingredients and emphasizes the seasonality.  And you use the whole leek- think of this as vegan nose to tail.

The one step that requires a little extra effort is blanching the tops of the leeks.  This ensures that they are nice and tender and will blend up easily.  If you are not on board with blanching, you could omit them completely from the pesto, and just double the spinach.

The rest of the pesto couldn’t be easier: you throw everything in a blender or food processor and pulverize until smooth. By taking a few extra moments at the end to plate everything prettily, you have a simple, easy, romantic supper.  Serve with the wine you didn’t use in the risotto, light a few candles, and you have a gorgeous meal that will show your partner how much you care. Let us know how it goes!

Now, I’d love to hear from you.  What other ideas do you have for Meaghan?  Let us know your ideas by leaving a comment below.

Love and Risotto,


Roasted Asparagus Risotto with Spinach Leek Pesto
  • For the risotto:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1½ cups Arborio rice
  • 4 cups hot water
  • ½ tablespoon sea salt
  • For the asparagus:
  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • For the pesto:
  • 2 leek tops, blanched
  • 1 cup spinach, loosely packed
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. For the risotto: Trim the leeks by cutting them in half lengthwise. Thinly slice the light colored bottoms. Coarsely chop the green tops, and set aside.
  3. In a medium pot, sauté leeks over medium low heat until tender and beginning to caramelize, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
  4. Add the rice to the pot, and stir to coat each grain with the leeks and garlic. This also allows the rice to toast slightly.
  5. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Stir until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Stir in 1 cup of hot water at a time, until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender and creamy. This should take about 20 minutes.
  7. For the asparagus: Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 10-12 minutes.
  8. For the pesto: Blanch the leek tops. You can do this by dropping them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes and then transferring them to a bowl of ice water. This can be the same water you are using for the risotto.
  9. Transfer all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
  10. To assemble: Spoon the risotto into a shallow bowl. Place a few spears of asparagus on top and dollop over a generous serving of spinach leek pesto.