Miso-Ginger Stir-Fry

I have a confession: I actually made this recipe months ago. I wanted to post it then. But it was hot out. I mean, really hot. And I kept thinking that no one in their right mind would want to make stir-fry in the middle of July. At a time when other bloggers were posting salads and grilled vegetables, I was making stir-fry. And so, as much as I was in love with this dish, I decided to sit on it and wait for a time when this recipe was a bit more suited to the weather.

You’ll notice that for a stir-fry, this recipe uses very little oil. Again, it was July when I made this. My parents had just returned from the vegetarian summerfest and were influenced by the many doctors and health experts singing the praises of a low-fat vegan diet. I learned that wine is a great cooking tool for braising or making sauces, as it adds a lot of flavor without added fat. For me, this is especially true in stir-fries. My mom took a Chinese cooking class when I was younger at an amazing Chinese restaurant my family still frequents. One of the revelations from that experience was that almost every stir-fry sauce at that restaurant utilized white cooking wine, lots of garlic and very little if any soy sauce. True Hong Kong style Chinese sauces are light and clear, not thick and brown, as is so common in Americanized Chinese places would have us believe. (For those interested in eating at the best Chinese Restaurant, in my opinion, in North America: Harvey Lo’s Yummy House in Windsor Ontario. It’s divine).

Of course, with the addition of miso, this is more of a Japanese-Chinese fusion dish. I love miso for flavor in dressings and sauces. It makes a really great stir-fry here — tangy, almost sweet and salty combination of flavors. And finally, it’s that time of year where I can make this without losing 5 pounds of sweat in the process. Hooray for fall!

Serves: 3-4 with rice

Low Fat Miso-Ginger Stir Fry:

My new secret to a good stir-fry is to bake the tofu before adding it to the rest of the dish. It tends to get crispy on the outside, but remains intact, rather than crumbling like tofu so often does when its cooked in a skillet or wok.

2 tablespoons refrigerated white miso OR 3 tablespoons white shiro miso (not refrigerated)

¼ cup white wine

2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari

¼ teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons arrowroot + 2 tablespoons water, whisked together

2 tablespoons vegetable broth

1 head broccoli florets, chopped

1 red bell pepper, julienned

4 shiitake caps, sliced

½ yellow onion, sliced

Baked Tofu:

¼ teaspoon sesame oil (omit oil and use some veggie broth for an oil-free baked tofu option)

2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari

1 block firm or extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry. Sliced or cubed.


1. Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together sesame oil and tamari in a shallow bowl. Dip slices of tofu into mixture and and then lay flat on non-stick or silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together miso, wine, tamari, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Set aside.

3. In a very hot wok, add broccoli, bell pepper, onion and vegetable broth. Stir over high heat until broth evaporates and vegetables begin to soften. Add in shiitakes and pre-made sauce. Stir until sauce reduces by about 1/2 and vegetables are softened but still crisp. Add in arrowroot and water mixture and pre-baked tofu. Stir until sauce is thickened. Serve immediately.


Low-Fat Granola

I’ve been making this granola a lot lately. It’s great in the morning over soy yogurt and with fruit, or as a snack. I’ve done it with both quick-cooking oats and regular rolled oats and both are good, but the rolled oats lend a bit of a chewier texture that’s better for snacking, while quick-cooking oats make a nice cereal substitute.

As far as fruit goes, I’m sort of picky with dried fruit, so I went with tart dried cherries and dried pineapple, which are two of my favorites lately. You can be liberal with the dried fruit, and add any combination of fruits and even nuts as you please. So, that’s about all there is to it!

Serves: 4

Low-Fat Granola:

2 cups quick cooking certified gluten-free oats

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 packet stevia

¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tablespoon coconut oil, liquified

¼ cup coconut nectar

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

dried fruits or nuts of choice


1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mix together all ingredients except for dried fruit. Lay flat on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. Let cool.

3. Add dried fruit to cooled granola.


3-Bean and Mushroom Veggie Chili

Vegetarian chili comes to mind when I consider the ubiquitous vegetarian menu items of the world, right along with tofu scrambles and veggie burgers (both of which I have on this site). That doesn’t mean it’s not worth sharing. Or eating. I was a huge fan of Whole Foods’ vegetarian chili long before I went vegan. Same goes for Curly’s tofu scramble, which I used to order with their vegan pancakes (also wheat-free) when I went for brunch, because I couldn’t decide which I wanted more. Who said vegans can’t enjoy a good brunch? (Oh wait, I think I said that at some point on this blog….and I maintain that it’s true in most eating out situations, when forced to venture into non-veg friendly territory).

In fact, vegetarian chili is such a no-brainer go-to dinner, I should be making it more often. The problem is, much like muffins, I have this “thing” with chili. I can never really get it just right. I’ve made dozens I’d hoped would eventually become part of the Delectably Free family. And most of the time, when I’m making something destined for this site, I don’t stop until I’ve gotten it right (often to the detriment of my loved ones, who have to endure days on end of semi-edible versions of the same dinner or dessert). The problem with chili, though, is that one batch pretty much lasts multiple days — sometimes a week, even — and by the time it’s over the thought of making yet another batch of chili is simply incomprehensible and utterly scary (there are only so many times we can blame the curious odor in the room on the dog). So, usually, I leave it at that.

But, after two years of intermittent trial and error, my mental list of do’s and don’ts finally yielded a blog-worthy recipe. I’m not usually one to praise my own food. Perhaps out of fear or maybe even pride, I usually wait and let others’ reactions dictate whether I am going to post something or not. I rarely declare something “a winner” without a vote of confidence from my taste-testers. But after tinkering with and tweaking this latest batch, I made sure to tell everyone in the family that I had hit on something “really good,” without really caring what anyone else said. But just for the record, I’ll have you know what everyone else in my family liked it, too.

Serves: 8-10

3-Bean and Mushroom Chili:

Don’t be discouraged by the long ingredient list. I promise, most of these are pantry items, with the exception of maybe the mushrooms and the bell pepper. I used Bionaturae jarred strained tomatoes for the “strained tomatoes,” though I’m sure crushed tomatoes would work here as well. When I was younger, my mom used to make chili often and we’d serve it over elbow noodles. I love chili with cornbread (the classic combo), but decided to serve gluten-free noodles with this version and encourage you to do so as well. It’s really good! Finally, the 6-cups of baby bellas will cook down to what seems like a piddily amount, so definitely add the full amount — it really makes a difference in the overall taste.

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

6 cups baby bellas, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoon salt, divided

1 cup strained tomatoes, no salt added (see note, above)*

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice

½ cup water

1 15 0z. can black beans, not drained

1 15 oz. can aduki beans, not drained

1 29-oz. can white cannellini beans, drained

4 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon agave nectar (any other syrupy sweetener would also do)

1 tablespoon cider vinegar


1. To a large soup pot or Dutch Oven, add onion, pepper, garlic, mushrooms, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Toss to coat with oil. Cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until juices release and onions become translucent.

2. Add remaining ingredients, beginning with the diced tomatoes, strained tomatoes and water and finishing with the agave, olive oil and cider vinegar, plus the additional teaspoon of salt, or enough salt to taste. Make sure not to strain the aduki or black beans, as the juices add flavor to the dish. But do drain the Cannellini beans. Partially cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer on medium-high for about 15-20 minutes to let flavors develop. Serve warm with gluten-free noodles, corn chips or cornbread. Enjoy!

* If you can’t find salt-free strained tomatoes, instead of adding the second teaspoon of salt simply add enough to taste.


Blueberry Muffins

I explained this in my pumpkin bar post, but it’s worth repeating: I made so many muffins before perfecting this recipe, it was ridiculous. Ludicrous. Unhealthy. Overkill. I made so many versions of muffins, it was weeks before I came up with a version that was worth posting. But then, with all that work, why stop at just something that was “worth posting”? So I kept going, until I finally, FINALLY had a recipe that I was actually proud of — something I would feel confident serving my non-vegan, non-gluten-free, sugar-loving friends without worrying about hearing “these are good……for being (fill in the blank)” I do not like hearing that I have a worthy recipe, if only for the gluten-free, vegan crowd.

The only problem with this recipe is that I missed my blueberry season window by a couple of weeks. Now, fresh blueberries are back to being exorbitantly priced and scarce. I suppose frozen blueberries would suffice, though I spent so long tinkering with the recipe, I would hate to think of any substitutions threatening the overall balance. But I’ll let you guys be the judge on that one. I also imagine chopped apples would be nice here, but that idea might merit a whole new post of its own…

Yield: 12 muffins

Blueberry Muffins:

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour

½ teaspoon xanthan gum

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup coconut crystals or coconut palm sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon Ener-G egg replacer (dry)

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

½ cup hot water

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut oil (liquefied)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup fresh blueberries


1. Preheat oven to 350. Fill 12 muffin tins with liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, xanthan gum, salt, coconut sugar, cinnamon, dry egg replacer, baking powder and baking soda.

2. Add milk, hot water, vanilla and coconut oil to dry ingredients and mix to incorporate. Fold in applesauce. Fold in blueberries, being careful not to crush.

3. Drop batter by 1/4 cup into each muffin tin, adding more if necessary until each tin is evenly filled. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.


Indian-Spiced Potatoes

Recently I noticed that Indian recipes are curiously absent from this sight. I say “curiously” because, as my husband will attest, we are big Indian food fans around here. When I met Gennaro, he didn’t think he liked Indian food. The few times we brought him out to try it, we paraded the naan breads and simple tandoori dishes in front of him, hoping to lure him into more adventurous fare eventually. I’m not sure when, exactly, it happened, but there came a point when my husband starting opting for Indian take-out on his own accord, without being dragged by his wife or members of her immediate family. If there were ever any doubts that he was the one, they all subsided when I learned that I had snagged a guy who could hold his own in the Indian department.

My mom just bought me a copy of The Vegan Indian Kitchen, and let me just say: this cookbook is awesome. We’ve sampled a handful of recipes from the book, from Indian okra to the spicy, stewed aduki beans, and every recipe is truly amazing. There has not been a shortage of Indian fare in our kitchen lately. Thankfully, my husband came around to liking Indian food when he did, or he would have been in biiig trouble now that I’m armed with my very own vegan Indian recipe book.

The other day, I was looking to cook up something quick, and didn’t feel like pulling out any cookbooks or following any recipes. I chopped up some potato, onion and pepper and threw in some spices, inspired by by newfound Indian cooking knowledge. As it turned out, I had come up with a pretty darn good Indian-style dish of my own. It reminds me of the Hugarian paprika potatoes my grandma used to make, with an Indian twist.

Serves: 5-6 as a side

Indian-Spiced Potatoes:
Inspired by: The Vegan Indian Kitchen

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 small russet potatoes, washed and chopped (about 2 large potatoes)

1 large onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups water, divided

Spice Mix:

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet and add potatoes, onion, bell pepper and salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until juices begin to release. Add 1 cup water, cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes, or until water reduces by half. Uncover and let simmer until water is almost all evaporated.

2. Meanwhile, mix spices in a small bowl and add to potatoes after step 1 is complete. Add remaining water and continue to simmer, uncovered, until liquid is gone and potatoes are soft. Add salt to taste and serve.


Chewy, Gooey Pumpkin Bars

Lately, I’ve been involved in a head-on battle with what I’ve now dubbed my Achilles heel of baking: muffins. Truth be told, I’ve always considered myself more of a “cook” than a baker, but I’ve had my fair share of successes, of which I’ve posted on this site. But muffins have always brought me some difficulty. Issues with texture, dryness, sweetness and flavor plague my muffin endeavors more often than not. Occasionally I get it right. Usually I don’t. For some reason, though, I decided that this week would be the week I mastered muffins. Judging from this post, I think you can guess that muffins, it turns out, “mastered” me. Well, let’s just say we’re currently at an impasse, and I’m contemplating my next move. Just to give you an idea of how many muffins I’ve made in the past week, take a look at the collage of muffin photos I’ve taken:

…and that’s just a sampling.

In the meantime, I decided to go a different route. With fall permeating the air (the cool breezes, the shorter days, the Cicadas chirping in the evening…) my muffin-weary mind naturally turned to pumpkin. My intention was to create a cake-like bar, and was thus disappointed upon realizing these bars turned out far from cakey. I was not in the mood for another baking failure. But upon reconsideration, I opened my mind to the notion of a chewier bar. My mind was even more open to this idea when I tasted one bite. Then another. Then another…until I realized I was slightly addicted to these enigmatically chewy little bars.

My trusty taste testers (who had mixed reviews on many of my muffin attempts) were all unanimously fans of these as well. Phew. I couldn’t take another recipe “failure.” Though shouldn’t say the word “fail”… In my state of muffin frustration, my dad shared with me Thomas Edison’s view on the concept of failure: “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

I appreciate Mr. Edison’s sentiment, but there’s a fundamental flaw in applying his logic to baking: testing light bulbs, as far as I know, won’t make you fat.

Gluten-Free Chewy, Gooey Pumpkin Bars:

2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups canned (unsweetened) pumpkin

1 cup coconut nectar

1 cup hot water

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce


1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 1 hour

1/4 cup coconut nectar

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

water as needed


1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, xanthan gum, salt and spices. Add wet ingredients (in no particular order) and whisk until everything is incorporated. Pour batter into a greased, 9×13″ and bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, or until center bounces back when pressed. Let cool on a wire rack.

3. To make frosting, blend all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth, adding water as needed until frosting reaches desired consistency. Spread frosting over pumpkin bars as they cool. Let cool completely before slicing. I actually like chilling these in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, as the flavor tends to intensify and texture improves, though this is optional.


Gluten-free Baked Falafel

This past weekend, Gennaro and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary in Ann Arbor, MI, where we were married. While we were there, we tried to not read anything into the fact that the original Borders Bookstore, a staple throughout both of our college experiences in Ann Arbor, was in total liquidation mode. Everything in the store was going at 40-60% off prices (I did some research, though, and it turns out Borders was opened in 1971, so if it is a sign, at least Gennaro and I have about 40 years ahead of us). Anyways, I managed to put the sadness and nostalgia on hold for about 40 minutes while I switched gears and channeled the inner bargain shopper in me. Naturally, I pushed my way to the territory with which I’m most familiar: the cookbook section (note to anyone visiting a megastore bookstore with me: if I’m lost, you will undoubtedly find me in the cookbook aisle).

While the cookbook area was largely picked over, I managed to snag a few new ones to add to my growing collection. The store’s last copy of the Skinny Bitch everyday cookbook — nestled among the store’s diet and weight loss offerings — was a steal at $10. But the ultimate steal of the day came in the form of a bargain-section cookbook called Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide. Neither vegan nor gluten-free, this cookbook managed to grab my attention by virtue of its $5 original price tag, which came to about $2.50 with the store-wide discount. I figured even a minimal amount of gluten-free or vegan recipes could be justified at that cost.

Less than a week has passed since my purchase, and I’ve already flagged several recipes that I’m dying to try. Between the Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern selections in the book, there’s plenty to choose from for the gluten-free/vegan crowd. This falafel recipe the first to be inspired by my new book (of course, I can never follow a recipe exactly without adding my own twist). With dried chickpeas instead of canned, the chickpea flavor is slightly more pronounced than with the homemade falafel recipes I’m used to. My twist? I baked the falafel instead of deep frying it, which still yielded a satisfying crisp-on-the-outside, slightly soft on the inside result. Then I played with the proportions of herbs and spices, which I feel is an obligatory step for any at-home falafel maker (who doesn’t want homemade meals to be customized to their taste?)

I served this with some gluten-free lavash and a kale salad made with red onions, cucumbers and tahini dressing. It would be great in a wrap, served alongside rice and hummus as a main course, or served with tahini dressing for dipping as a side.

Yield: approximately 14 falafels

Serves: 5-6

Baked Falafel:
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked 18-24 hours, drained well

½ bunch fresh curly parsley

½ bunch fresh cilantro

½ large yellow/white onion

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

Olive oil for brushing


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor fitted with a sharp blade (except olive oil). Process until smooth and green in color. The end result might feel a bit wet to work with, but it should still hold together when gently formed into patties.

2. Scoop with an ice cream scoop or large spoon into heaping rounds, roll with hands, then lay flat on a lightly greased or silpat-lined baking sheet. Very gently flatten with palm. When all of the patties are formed, gently brush tops with olive oil.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping falafels after approximately 10 minutes (or until firm enough to slip and browned on the bottom), cooking until the tops of the second side are golden brown.




Chewy, No-Bake Chocolate Cookies

My aunt gave me the idea for these chewy, almost-raw gluten free cookies from a recipe she uses. Hers incorporated melted chocolate chips, for a decadent yet easy vegan treat. I decided to use the extra coconut nibs that I had on hand instead of the chocolate chips (for some reason, I keep buying cocoa nibs yet fail to find viable everyday uses for them. Looks like I found a solution in these cookies).

These cookies can double as an after-school or midday snack. They’re sweetened with date and coconut nectar, which makes for a healthier, lower-glycemic treat. What I didn’t account for was the fact that both of these ingredients lend an ultra-chewy texture, evoking a decadence that belies the super healthy ingredient list.

I’ve also struggled as of late to come up with some dessert ideas that are simple enough to satisfy any dessert craving at a moment’s notice. When I was living in New York City, I had the luxury of a sugar-free, vegan ice cream shop in my neighborhood that also sold sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan baked goods. Therefore, on the off-chance that I wasn’t in the mood for any more baking — or cleaning the kitchen, for that matter — I could send my husband walk a few blocks and purchase something perfectly-suited to my diet nearly whenever a craving stuck (alas, there were some 2 a.m. cravings that could not be satisfied).

Living in the midwest again has fostered a new sort of creativity in the quick-fix dessert department. Although these should chill in the refrigerator for maximum firmness, I’ve never been one to not lick the spoon and bowl, which is just enough sweetness to get me through the hour, before the rest of the batch is ready to eat.

Yield: approximately 15 cookies

No Bake, Chewy Chocolate Cookies:

1 cup gluten-free quick-cooking rolled oats*

10 medjool dates, pitted

½ cup cocoa nibs

¼ cup coconut nectar**

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tablespoons almond butter


Place everything in food processor and process until clumps form and “batter” holds together. Form heaping tablespoons into a smooth sphere, then press into parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat for remaining cookies and chill in refrigerator for approximately an hour.

* As I always mention when I include oats in my recipes, even the purest of gluten-free oats cannot be tolerated by some people with Celiac Disease. Be sure you’re one of those people who can tolerate them before using. Alternately, if you are not gluten-intolerant, feel free to use regular quick-cooking rolled oats, as they tend to be cheaper.

** I’m sure brown rice syrup would work fine. Less sure about agave nectar but I would imagine it would yield a slightly sweeter, less chewy result.



Vegan Corn and Potato Chowder

Summer is the time in Michigan when us Michiganders are especially proud of what our state has to offer. Not that we’re not otherwise a proud group of folks (just ask a Detroiter what they thought of the Eminem/Chrysler Super Bowl ad last year), but during the summer, it’s perhaps even easier for anyone not from around here to see why. I would list my favorite Michigan things, but that would be a bit lengthy of a tangent (I could devote a whole blog post to Michigan’s amazing lakes and sand dunes alone).

I will say that since moving back to Michigan, I’ve rediscovered why Detroit’s Eastern Market is one of my favorite iconic Detroit destinations. I went there as a kid with my parents, and I attribute many of my good food habits today to the fact that my parents instilled in me from a young age that the best meals are often created from fresh, local farmers market foods.

A recent development at the market has been the rise of Detroit Urban farming. One might not think of Detroit and immediate think “right, vegetable gardens…” but that’s exactly what’s going on in more than a few vacant lots in this city. The salad below is made almost entirely from greens, sprouts and herbs that were grown in the city of Detroit. Pretty amazing, huh?

This chowder represents a broader portrait of Michigan produce. Still, nearly all of the vegetables were fresh from the Farmer’s Market. Michigan-grown corn, potatoes, bell peppers and poblanos provided the base for this creation. The corn, especially, benefits from being so fresh in this dish. I’m convinced this dish would not be the same with frozen or canned corn (though that’s not to say it’s not worth a try when corn is no longer in season).

This dish is also notable for the absence of heavy, fattening ingredients (with the exception of a teaspoon of Earth Balance). It’s amazing how creamy the broth can get without any cream.

Summer Corn and Potato Chowder:

2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced

1 red, green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 medium-sized red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Earth Balance buttery spread

4 cups red or yellow-skinned potatoes, diced (about 4 medium potatoes)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup water

1 tablespoon brown rice flour*

3 cups packed fresh corn kernels (equal to about 5-6 ears of corn)

2 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk

1/2 teaspoon paprika


1. To a large soup pot or Dutch Oven, add peppers, onion, garlic, potato, Earth Balance and salt. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until Earth Balance is melted and vegetables release their juices and begin to soften slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk or stir together brown rice flour and water until it is dissolved into the water. Then add to vegetables (it will not cover all of the vegetables; this is o.k.). Bring water to a boil.

2. Once water is boiling, add the remaining ingredients. Stir together. Partially cover and bring soup to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer on low, partially covered, for approximately 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and desired thickness is reached. You may add a bit more salt to taste, if desired (fore reference purposes: I have never had to add more).

* If you’re not gluten-free/gluten-intolerant, any type of regular all-purpose flour will do.


Zero-Calorie Lemonade

People  often ask me what’s the one thing I miss from the past that I can’t/don’t eat today. As time has gone on, this questions has become much more difficult to answer. I’ve adapted to my new life so much that I really don’t remember at this point what I once did eat and what I once enjoyed. I find more so that I tend to miss the idea of things rather than certain things themselves. I miss the idea of being able to get filled up off the bread basket at dinner, even though I usually regretted it those times I did. I miss the idea of going to a ballpark and being able to order something to snack on while watching the game (even though I wouldn’t touch most ballpark food items “with a ten-foot pole,” as my mom would say). I miss the idea of being able to share in a pitcher of beer while watching the game at a local sports bar, or being able to share a pizza at a pizza shop with friends. It’s not that I miss the pizza or the beer itself, but more that I like being part of the group. Sometimes, having a different diet can make you feel like an outsider looking in.

I felt this way recently when my parents threw a party for my brother, who recently returned home from his tour of duty in Iraq. We had his welcome-home party outdoors on a hot summer day, and I watched with envy as others quenched their thirst with the large pitcher of lemonade that looked so refreshing. I was tempted to risk whatever illness I might have to endure (and illness is almost inevitable when I start adding sugar back into my diet) just to partake. Lemonade on a hot summer day. Is there anything more refreshing? Yes, I definitely missed the idea of that.

Luckily, I figured out that it’s not too hard to replicate this one. If you can put up with the juicing, which is really the only semi time-consuming aspect of this recipe, the rest is a simple as stirring and adding ice, pretty much.

And O.K., maybe I miss tuna melts. Just a little bit.

Zero-Calorie Lemonade:

1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6-7 lemons worth)

1 tablespoon lemon pulp, plus more if desired

8 cups water

5 handfuls of ice

1 1/2 -2 droppers Nunaturals liquid stevia*

lemon slices


In a large pitcher, stir everything together and adjust stevia and/or pulp to taste. For variations, add strawberry slices or minced fresh mint leaves. Replace water with fresh brewed unsweetened iced tea for a healthy twist on the Arnold Palmer.

* Add less first, then adjust to taste