The plant based nurse

My family's excellent adventure to better health!

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Summertime, and the grillin’ is easy…

We are so excited that grilling season is here! We were off to a little bit of a late start at the Hayes house since my husband found that the bottom of the grill had rotted over the winter. In our effort to downsize our possessions we opted for a nice compact grill. It’s just big enough to grill up veggies for the two of us and it works awesome!


 plated grilled veggies

We had  corn that my husband steamed in the Instant Pot for 8 min first, asparagus, red pepper, onions, and leeks earlier this week. Everything came out great except the leeks which were chewy. Next time I’ll look up some recipes for how to prepare the leeks first. My husband was also craving potato salad, so he whipped up a recipe on the fly and it was delicious.

Scott’s potato salad

5-6 Yukon gold potatoes

1/2 of a 14 oz pkg of extra firm tofu or silken tofu

3 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon of parsley

1/4 c. of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of country Dijon mustard or mustard of your choice

Freshly ground black pepper

Peel the potatoes or just scrub them if you prefer to eat the peels. Cut them into large cubes and steam until tender. You can steam them in a steamer basket for 15-20 min or use an Instant pot for about 11 minutes. While the potatoes cool, mix the tofu, vinegar, and mustard in a food processor, blender or Ninja bullet. Add parsley or herb of your choosing and pepper and stir and coat potatoes with dressing and serve!

potato salad

We enjoyed the grilled veggies so much that I decided to grill again mid week and I added bean brats to the menu using a recipe adapted by my friend Sharon Euler at Engine2extra from Jeff Novick’s basic bean burger recipe to include brat seasoning and it is spot on!

Sharon’s Bean brats

1 can dark red kidney beans

1/2 cup quick oats

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

3 TB smoky BBQ sauce (it’s not spicy) – you could use diced tomatoes, too or probably even ketchup – you need the moisture.  Jeff’s recipe calls for 2 TB moisture but it wasn’t enough liquid to get them to stick together well.

1 tsp salt (I think I could have left this out completely)

1 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp allspice

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp marjoram

1 tsp sage

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Mash up the kidney beans with a potato masher.  Add the oats and the rice and the spices and mix them all up together.  Add the liquid and stir and smush it all up til it is all well mixed.

I used my sushi mat to make the rolls and compress them together tightly.  I covered the sushi mat with plastic wrap (to keep the mat clean and to make sure the beans wouldn’t stick to the mat). I took a handful of brat mixture, put it on the sushi mat and used the sushi mat to make them into rolls and tightly compressed them together.

Put the rolls into the refrigerator for about an hour.  This allows the starches to bind the rolls together.

Cook the brats by your method of choice – broiler, skillet or wrap in foil and throw in the campfire!  You have to keep rolling them to get them evenly browned on all sides.

bean brats

Brats ready to go on the grill

bean brats plated 2

Brat served on a crisp romaine leaf with leftover potato salad and grilled veggies


Hope you have fun this summer experimenting with grilled veggies and  bean and veggie burgers and transforming traditional foods into plant strong dishes!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!

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A Shout out to PBNSG and MANY thanks to Engine 2!

Many months ago, I made a new friend through plant based eating and living, Paul Chatlin. We met online through one of his Plant Based Nutrition Support Group (PBNSG) members who found her way to my Engine 2 facebook group for my local Engine 2 friends. We have talked on the phone several times and since we “met” his group has grown to over a thousand members! Paul led a chat  on Engine 2 Extra and if you haven’t read his story about how he reversed his heart disease with the help of Dr Esselstyn, you can read it here at:

His group really is a model for other plant based groups and I know of no other like it. He has large group events and has had Rip Esselstyn and Dr. Esselstyn come to speak in Michigan. He also has small neighborhood groups for people to meet for support and ideas.  He recently had the “culinary curator” for his web site call me to see if I would contribute some recipes for their site. I hesitantly said yes, knowing I really don’t have that many original recipes and don’t consider myself a “chef.”

I then realized that two of the 4-5 recipes they wanted could be ones I created for recipe challenges on Engine 2 extra, my Scrumptious squash with rosemary apples and Thai soup with kale, carrots and ginger. The other two are old standbys I make almost every week, chili and pasta sauce. SO, Thank you to Engine 2 and coaches Ami and Char for challenging us to be creative and use delicious, fresh, and simple ingredients to make good meals! The link to my recipes is at: Check out all the site has to offer and challenge yourself to try something you never thought you could do!

PBNSG Thai soup


Thai curry with all of the flavor and none of the guilt!

I decided we needed a change this week in our menu. Sometimes we get in a rut of eating our same favorite dishes or going to our favorite restaurants that have plant-based dishes. So yesterday, I sat down with my favorite cookbooks and planned some easy meals that would give us some variety. Tonight I made a dish we have made once before, but I made some small variations that made it even better than the first time we had it. I made Thai Green Curry Rice from “The Starch Solution” by John McDougall MD and his wife Mary McDougall. Even though Dr. McDougall promotes a starch based diet, the dishes we have made from his book have been loaded with wonderful veggies and have been very colorful. The recipe is free online as are many of their recipes, and can be found in his December 2006 newsletter. I will post the full recipe at the end of this post, too.

I started with Jasmine brown rice. It has become one of my favorites as it only takes 20 min to cook, doesn’t clump, and is a whole grain but is fluffy and light.

Jasmine brown riceI

I prepped all of the veggies and herbs and had them ready to toss into the wok. A lot of the fresh veggies looked kind of sickly in the grocery store yesterday, so I picked up frozen cauliflower and  sugar snap peas which also saved time. I added fresh carrots for color, frozen peas, and fresh ginger. You can make this dish with any veggies, fresh or frozen that you have on hand. I think bok choy would be great in this dish, too.

Fixins for curry

We have an old hand hammered wok that my husband bought from a TV ad over 20 years ago that works great for dishes like this with mounds of veggies and heats up so quickly and easily over the gas flame.

veggies for curryThe first set of veggies only had to cook about 5 min, and then the next group cooks again just for a few minutes with the curry paste. I didn’t have green curry paste, so I used tikki paste which is a red/orange paste with ginger. Lastly, the tomatoes, cilantro and Thai basil went in with nondairy milk (I used oat milk) and coconut extract. I was lucky enough to have some Thai basil in the freezer from my garden last summer. When you freeze it, the leaves fall off of the stems and they freeze well and retain their color, flavor, and wonderful aroma. The pictures don’t really do this dish justice, plus you can’t smell the wonderful scents that wafted through the kitchen!

Curry in wok 3

The coconut extract really makes the dish scream of curry and without the fat in coconut milk. Here is a comparison of the oat milk nutrition facts and the coconut milk, which I bought and never used. I keep it for teaching purposes. Note that the serving size of the coconut milk is only 2 oz, so if I had used a full cup I would have been adding 36 gm of added fat and all 36 gm are from saturated fat. Of the 93 calories per serving in the coconut milk, 93 of those calories or 100% of the calories are from fat. By comparison, 8 oz of oat milk has only 130 calories, 2.5 gm of fat and no saturated fat. No contest as far as I’m concerned! I recently read a very commonsense article by Dr. McDougall called, “Nuts come in  hard shells- for reasons.”

coconut milk and oat milk

This dish was very filling due to all of the veggies, satisfying, and delicious! We like spicy, so in my bowl I added chili garlic sauce and my husband added sriracha sauce. The best part is that we also have leftovers for another meal!

hot sauce

Curry bowl

Have fun with your food and enjoy!

Thai Green Curry Rice    

 from The Starch Solution by John A. McDougall MD and Mary McDougall

This rice dish is made with a Thai green curry paste that is sold in Asian markets, natural food stores and some supermarkets.  To vary this recipe, try making it with red curry paste instead of the green curry paste.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes (cooked rice needed)
Cooking Time:  12 minutes
Servings:  4

1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons green curry paste
2 cups chopped Napa cabbage
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup snap peas
½ cup soy sauce
4 cups cooked long grain brown rice
1 tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Thai basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Place the broth in a large pot along with the onion, bell peppers and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Stir in the curry paste.  Add the cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and soy sauce.  Mix well, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.

Hint:  Curry pastes are quite spicy so you may want to start out with the smaller amount and add more to taste.  If you can’t find fresh Thai basil, just use the fresh basil found in the produce department of your supermarket.