Optimal Health: Celebrating My Love



It’s that time of year again, where LOVE is in the air and it seems like everyone is celebrating.  Don’t know if you’re getting chocolates or strawberries or cookies or candy, but we know how good it feels when that gift from our loved one lands in our arms.  In case you’re looking for some options that help you enjoy the celebration but are a bit healthier, I’ve got some ideas for you.  I especially love the Charcuterie Board idea.  I used to look forward to the old school fruit/cheese/cracker trays.  Since choosing a plant powered diet, it’s been challenging.  I promise, you’re gonna love this one.  Enjoy Your Celebration!!!


Lover’s Morning Smoothie

1 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)

1 cup strawberries

1 cup fresh cranberry sauce

1 cup diced pineapple

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 cups coconut milk or plant based eggnog


Add all ingredients to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Serve. Yield: 2-4 Servings


Strawberries and Fruit Dip

Whole strawberries, washed

3 containers non-dairy cream cheese

1 container non-dairy sour cream

1/2 cup turbinado sugar or honey or maple syrup

1 tablespoon almond flavoring


Mix ingredients well.  Chill.  Serve with strawberries or other fruit.  Serves 10-12


Charcuterie Board

2-4 cups grapes

2-4 cup strawberries

2-4 cup raspberries

2-4 cups mini pretzels OR pretzel sticks

2-4 cups thinly sliced ambrosia apples

1 large bag plant based Babybel Cheese

2-4 cups your choice Violife cheeses, diced


Carob Mousse

1 package Mori-Nu Silken Tofu, firm

1/4 cup carob powder

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 cup turbinado sugar, honey or maple syrup

1 cup carob chips, or more to taste

1 tablespoon Roma

Your favorite vanilla soy milk


Place ingredients in a blender.  Add enough soy milk to blend easily.  Continue blending and adding milk to desired consistency.  Place in container and refrigerate until time to serve.

Serves 2-4


Creatively arrange your charcuterie items on your board.  Refrigerate until time to serve.  Serve. Experiment with some of your other favorite ingredients.

Final amounts determined by how much you use.



Carob Brownies

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup unbleached flour

½ cup sucanat

½ cup turbinado sugar

2 vegan egg replacer equivalents

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon Roma

½ cup carob (bean) powder

¾ cup oil

1 cup plain soy milk

4 teaspoons alcohol-free vanilla flavoring

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts and/or 1 cup carob chips (optional)


In a mixing bowl measure all dry ingredients.  In another container, measure and mix all liquid ingredients.  Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and mix together quickly.  Add optional nuts and carob chips.  Place batter into an 8×12 baking dish that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray.  Place in 350o oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  May frost with frosting below if desired. Serves 10-12


Coconut Pecan Frosting

1 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped coconut

1 cup chopped pecans


In a saucepan, heat maple syrup, water, vanilla, cornstarch and salt.  Stir constantly until mixture starts to thicken.  Remove from heat and add nuts and coconut.  Cool to room temperature before using.


Carob Carob Chip Cookies*

¾ cup plant butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup turbinado sugar

2 vegan egg replacer equivalents

1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla flavoring

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour

¼ cup carob powder

¼ cup Roma or Postum

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups your favorite carob chips

½ cup your favorite chopped nuts (I use macadamia)


Preheat oven to 375o.  In a large bowl, cream margarine and sugars.  Add egg replacer and vanilla flavoring.  In a small bowl combine dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to creamed ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms.  Add carob chips and nuts.  Spoon by tablespoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake until cookies are set and bottoms are lightly browned.  Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies


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