295. My Best Beans

My Best Beans |Vegan, No Refined Sugar | Ann Ning Learning How

Not only are these my best beans, these will likely be my only beans.  I don’t think I’m digesting their protein well.  If I were not in a bit of a digestive pickle due to the AVM rupture + massive stroke I would be eating these all the time – so that’s why I feel good about recommending them to people looking for a tasty plant-based protein source.  My statement re. not digesting the beans’ protein well  is based solely on CMD’s evaluation of my tongue – these (like all the other food I’m eating) caused me zero digestive distress.  I  actually told Mommy after I made these that I was so happy that my soaking method appeared to make these easy for my belly to take(The popular bean soaking method I found online:  Soak dry beans for 2-3 days, changing the water every morning and night.  Add bay leaves, ginger, or kombu to the soaking water.  I used 2-3 bay leaves.)  I normally avoid beans in chili or in other dishes at restaurants, but these were fantastic for my purpose.  I cooked them in a vegan baked-bean style, with no added oil (I don’t count greasing the baking dish) or salt, a la Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live method.  I love baked beans, but they don’t love me back.  These, however, contain no refined sugar and I included a bit of cinnamon so it smelled lovely – like the chicken Moroccan stew I used to cook all the time in Oregon.

I had my first personal training session yesterday.  I got to lie on the mat pretty much the whole time, but fascinatingly, I am still sore.  D evaluated my muscles and could tell right away that there are differences between the right and left sides.  Happily, he has plans for how to address them.  It came to light that D married a respected dietitian in our area, or a nutritionist, or something, and knows about this stuff himself. Great.  Another person to debate with over how I eat.

Just kidding.  The nutritional advice he gave me was very kindly given, based in clinical research, and was just that – advice, not a decree.  So I’m going to ponder the future of my Vegan Experiment, but I have to say that I am enjoying it so far and my tongue looks better.  It’s still not pink like yours, but the whiteness has receded a bit and isn’t as thick.  So I’m going to keep on going for now.

My Best Beans [Vegan]

These are baked beans sweetened with dates instead of oodles of brown sugar.  You’ll bake them at 350, but you pre-cook them on the stove so you could probably preheat the oven near the end of the stovetop cooking step.

1. Prepare the Beans:

1 16 oz bag of dry cannellini beans (you could try navy, pinto, or whatever you like)

  • Soak (instructions in paragraph 1 above) and rinse them
  • Cook them in a pan of water for 45 minutes.  Although the end result was fabulous, this might be a little overkill since you’re going to simmer them and then bake them, but I’ve never cooked beans before, so I cooked them just in case.  Use your own judgment on if/how long to precook the beans.

2.  Prepare the Base:

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ small onion
  • 1.5 tsp Mrs. Dash No Salt
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 10 dates (pitted and pre-soaked in hot water for 15 minutes)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I would’ve used fresh, but we were out)
  • splash of natural maple flavoring
  • dash of cinnamon
  • Throw everything in your blender or food processor and puree.


3.  Cook the mushrooms and beans on the stove

  • 1/2 lb of sliced mushrooms, e.g. baby bella
  • veggie broth
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Broth-sauté the mushrooms:  Bring a splash of vegetable broth to a boil (as much as you can since it’s only a splash).  Add the mushrooms in, stir and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Stir again and cover on low-medium heat for 2 minutes.  The mushrooms will release more water.
  • Pour the base (#2) over the mushrooms, stir, cover, and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the beans and stir, cover and let cook, stirring occasionally for 45-60 minutes.

4.  Bake

  • Pour into a greased casserole, cover and bake for 60 minutes at 350.






236. Peachy Crisp [Grain Free / Dairy Free]

Grilled Peaches | Ann Ning Learning How

One of Mommy’s favorite stories from my inpatient life concerns my interaction with an unsuspecting customer service person on the phone at RIO (3rd Hospital).  I was very much in the “unconvinced” state of mind (I didn’t think anything or anyone was real, required proof for everything, and acted rather badly since everything was fake anyway and I was extremely uncomfortable).  Mommy recently told me I should go through all the pictures from my inpatient life and just look at my facial expressions.  I scrolled through a couple last night and Mommy’s right – they are a riot when viewed from this perspective.  It’s funny since she knows what was going through my mind so she can read my face – I’m either staring blankly, smiling unknowingly, or humoring my PT with a very blasé sort of attitude.

So one night Daddy was making some calls on my behalf, probably to my bank or credit card company.  Institutions will often desire to speak to the account holder to verify that it’s okay to speak to the person placing the call.  In this case my job was to simplify confirm that I was ill and that Tanpo was an authorized person who could act on my behalf.  This was my first non-family phone call and Mommy handed me the phone.

“Miss Tan,” the lady began chirpily, “How are you today?”

Peachy,” I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm and my face so glum that Mommy quickly took the phone back.  That was the first and last time I spoke to a customer service representative while in the hospital.

Heh heh.  Sorry, Mommy.  This was the beginning of Mommy starting to apologize for me.  Incidentally, she and Daddy had no idea that when I woke up I’d be so incredulous (and ornery).  My incredulity was a surprise.  But they were just thankful that I woke up in the first place and because they are extremely emotionally robust (I learned that term from NP1) people they were/are able to roll with the punches as we make our way through RecoveryLand together.

49.  Did she really just say that?

49. Did she really just say that?

My siblings are also emotionally robust people –when I came home I called them ASAP to make them tell me the story of what happened to me (I was looking for corroboration). It must have been distressing to them but they were both very obliging about it.  I talked to Ai Ai first, and then Ernie.  When their stories matched I was like, Okay, fine.  Whatever.

Meanwhile, it’s been a couple years and I know this really happened.  Several months ago a man in the waiting room at VT was on the phone and used the word, “Peachy.”  Mom and I immediately cracked up because that word has become part of the Tan family lexicon and it elicits an immediate reaction when we hear it.  “Peachy” is somewhat of an old-fashioned expression, I think, and peach crisp, cobbler and pie are classic desserts that I would consider old-fashioned, but also always welcome – they never go out of style with my palate.  I made some modifications to accommodate my new eating habits this summer, but I enjoyed the peaches at Tim&Ai Ai’s thoroughly.  Today you have 2 choices:  Single Serving PC or PC for the Family.  Obviously I made both!  But I have to admit that I was the primary consumer of the family-sized crisp.  Hey – a girl’s gotta eat!

Peachy Crisp | Single Serving, GF, DF | Ann Ning Learning How

Single-Serving Peachy Crisp [Grain Free & Dairy Free]

  • 1 ripe peach, halved with the stone removed – place in a ramekin face-up
  • handful of hazelnuts – I toasted mine briefly in a dry pan
  • 2 dates
  • small spoonful of coconut oil
  • dash of cinnamon
  • splash of vanilla
  • dash of nutmeg

Actually, this could serve 2, or just make one now, and save the other half peach for later.  Pulse the nuts and dates in a little food processor or Ninja.  Add in the small spoonful of coconut oil, vanilla, and the cinnamon.  Pat the topping down over the peach in the ramekin.  Sprinkle the whole with a slight dusting of nutmeg.  Bake in the oven at 350 for 5-15 minutes, broil for 3-4 minutes.  Watch it so it doesn’t get too brown!  Let it cool a bit.  I tried baking it for both 5 minutes (it was hot through, but still relatively firm) and 15 (it was super hot and soft so my spoon cut through the peach like the sharpest knife) – but it’s really up to your preference.  Let it cool a bit bc the peach and ramekin will be very hot.  Serve with vanilla yogurt or ice cream (I used coconut yogurt).

Peachy Crisp |GF, DF | Ann Ning Learning How

Peachy Crisp for the Family
serves 5 (ish)

  • 4 ripe peaches, cut into chunks
  • 1 c hazelnuts – I toasted mine briefly in a dry pan
  • 4 dates
  • spoonful of coconut oil
  • dash of cinnamon
  • splash of vanilla
  • dash of nutmeg

Grease your baking dish (I’m sorry I don’t know how big mine was – I used a small round casserole – just eyeball it), and preheat the oven to 350.  Pulse the nuts and dates in a little food processor or Ninja.  Add in the coconut oil, vanilla, and the cinnamon.  Pat the topping down over the peaches.  Sprinkle the whole with a slight dusting of nutmeg.  Bake in the oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Watch it so it doesn’t get too brown! Serve with vanilla yogurt or ice cream (I used coconut ice cream).

225. Golden Cream Sauce [Dairy Free]

Golden Cream Sauce |Dairy Free, Sweetened with Dates | Ann Ning Learning How

I made this because my sister was making caramel sauce for some recipes since we had lots of company and she was looking for an excuse to make it again.   Since I’m dairy free and I have major reservations about adding refined sugar to any of my recipes I made this “golden cream” sauce to top my coconut ice cream for dessert with the P family. (Side note:  I only have reservations regarding adding refined sugar to my own recipes.  If other people add it to food I consume I am happy to do so.  Perhaps TOO happy.  So it’s good I’m restricted by my newish grain and dairy prohibitions. )  Ai Ai served chocolate chip pie with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce while I put an experimental grain free snickerdoodle bar in the bottom of a bowl, scooped the coconut ice cream on top, and crowned it with a dollop of golden cream sauce and a couple of gorgeous cherries.

I’m calling this “golden cream” sauce bc the lack of butter and sugar prevents me from calling it “caramel” – but that was the inspiration.  Also, the caramel sauces I saw online involved stove usage  for melting the key ingredients.  I opted for my blender cooking method since I wasn’t not actually working with butter and sugar :).  I think you could probably do this in a regular blender since it involves a lot of liquid – if I were to try it I would soak the dates first and then just try to get the sauce smooth in the blender and heat it on the stove so it gets thicker and hot.

Golden Caramel Sauce [Dairy Free]

  • 1 c pitted dates
  • 1 c milk of choice
  • 3 tsp coconut oil
  • splash of vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Blend everything in the Vitamix on the “Soup” setting, or on High for about 4 minutes.  It will be smooth and hot.  If it cools, or you refrigerate it before serving, heat it in the microwave to facilitate pouring/drizzling.

This recipe was inspired by The Detoxinista’s Raw Salted Caramel Dip:

So Simple: Detoxinista's Salted Caramel Dip || Ann Ning Learning How

215. Real-Deal Hazelnut Latte

Real-Deal Hazelnut Latte | Ann Ning Learning How

When I woke up some of the quiz questions I asked Mom (to make her tell me obscure details about my apartment that I thought would verify the reality of the situation) concerned the contents of my fridge, freezer, and cabinets.  There was Crisco in the fridge from my shortening-in-pie-crust phase, some sad frozen blueberries from the 11 lb. bag I had purchased from Costco a long time ago, and in my teapot/espresso pot cabinet was a bottle of sugar-free hazelnut syrup.  I love the flavor of hazelnuts and  will often choose it if I go get a coffee drink.  But today I made one with real hazelnuts – it was so easy – and this is how:

Real-Deal Hazelnut Latte
Serves 3

  • ¼ cup hazelnuts
  • HOT water – from a recently boiled kettle
  • 3 c room temperature water
  • 4 dates (pitted)
  • splash of vanilla
  • 2 shots of espresso

Cover hazelnuts with just-boiled water for an hour in a mug.  Rinse and drain; blend with 3 cups of water until milky.  Add the coffee, dates and vanilla; blend some more.  If the mixture sits, make sure to stir before serving – wonderful hot or iced.

I used decaf espresso in mine but would not be opposed to adding in a couple spoonfuls of coffee crystals or some of the morning’s leftovers if that’s what you have on hand.  If you do not drink coffee, I would go the chocolate route and put a spoonful of usweetened cocoa powder in there and call it a day.  Ooooh – excellent notion.  I might do chocolate AND coffee next time so I can have a mocha.

I made this coffee treat for myself since I wanted a little pick me up after going to see the allergy doctor this morning.  He opines that my itchiness is unlikely to be food-related but I’m doing a patch test (I’ve got 3 patches taped to my back presently) and will go back on Friday to see if they yield any results and I can eliminate some of my (manifold) grooming products and watch my skin improve.  A girl can hope.

I brought my medical summary (my 1 page “resume”) along with me and it turned out to be just the thing.  We didn’t need to spend any time talking about health history – I started with a problem statement and then the doctor cut to the chase and simply asked me what my goal was for the day.  FYI, goal = I want this itchiness gone because I am away from CMD and being out of acupuncture treatment hurts.  If I am not itchy I can try to go get some relief from acupressure massage.

On the upside I have been praying (and have asked you to join me) that I will see unmistakable results from acupuncture, cupping etc.  This time away from treatment makes it pretty obvious to me that treatment has made a marked difference in my life.  I have to write to CMD and tell her I have to have a VCI in the fall.  I will also inform her that I’m grain & dairy free.

145.  Illness, Body Image, and Why I Eat the Way I Do.

145. Illness, Body Image, and Why I Eat the Way I Do.

I originally changed my diet to see if it would help my skin.  Answer: no, my diet change has not helped my skin.  I want to keep doing it, though, because I feel better overall.  Going entirely grain and dairy free was not a huge change from how I was already eating, but I find that eliminating these things from my personal menu makes decision-making a lot easier, and I’m able to make good (veggie-based) choices.  When I originally inquired about going gluten-free (not grain free) with CMD she was the one who told me not to eliminate things wholesale since she still wanted me to get those nutrients.  I’ll tell her about it, and if she has any concerns I’m sure she’ll let me know.  In the meantime, I continue to be vigilant re. my nutrient intake and am celebrating my ability to eat nuts without allergic consequences by making this latte.

PS.  I’m actually not entirely grain-free.  Confession:  I eat corn.



201. So Simple: Banana Date & Nut Bars [Grain Free, NSA, inspired by Elana’s Pantry]

So Simple:  Banana Date & Nut Squares | inspired by Elana's Pantry| Grain-Dairy Free, No Sugar Added | Ann Ning Learning How

Date and nut cake is S’s (OT6) favorite baked good.  When I left The Place I brought her a date and nut loaf Mommy had helped me to prepare.  Now, more than a year later, I am sufficiently recovered to do it all on my own since I just toss everything into my Vitamix.  I pureed everything and then just roughly blended in the dates and nuts at the end.  I don’t have grapeseed oil so I used your favorite, and mine, coconut.  Also, I omitted the agave and just tossed in a banana, so there is no sweetener except fruit in my version.  The banana scented bars are fantastic – I froze the bulk of mine and enjoy them straight from the freezer – the texture is soft enough to allow this.  If you like banana bread, you’ll LOVE these.  If you do not like bananas I will likely be trying some non-banana alternatives in the future, so stay tuned.

The Recipe:  Date Walnut Bars from Elana’s Pantry

My Changes:

  • Sub coconut oil for grapeseed oil
  • Sub a banana for agave
  • Blend everything in your blender – wet ingredients first, blend.  Add dry, blend more.  At the end, add dates and walnuts – pulse lightly so they get chopped but are not pureed.

Oh yeah – so I realized that when I told you about the PB Zucchini Brownies from fastpaleo last week I failed to mention two important ingredients:  1) Peanut Butter and 2) Zucchini.  Oops, my bad.  I wrote about them in the body of the text but when it came time to detail my veganized recipe I forgot.  I don’t proofread much bc of my vision issues, so these things happen.  xoxo.  Welcome to my world.  So if you’re going to reference the recipe, make sure to look at my updated post (click on the picture below) and not the email you got if you’re a subscriber (thank you!)  PS.  If you ever notice any gaffes like this, please do let me know – you’re not going to hurt my feelings.  The new Floppy Me needs your help to be accurate.

196.  So Simple:  PB Zucchini Brownies [Grain Free, Vegan]

196. So Simple: PB Zucchini Brownies [Grain Free, Vegan]

181. Sweet Cream [Dairy Free, Sweetened w Dates]

Sweet Cream || Dairy Free, Date Sweetened || Ann Ning Learning How

I used to be highly addicted to my coffee maker routine in the morning. I would grind my coffee beans the night before (I had a fabulous coffee grinder that measured the grinds for me and made it so easy), get my coffee maker ready and roll out of bed in the morning and flick the switch (I never quite trusted the timer) so I’d have a nice hot cup ready for me when I got out of the shower. I just remembered Mommy gave me some lovely footed red Denby mugs. I had 3 or 4 so I could use them up and then run them through the dishwasher near the end of the week. I’d fill a mug up and sip while I dried my hair, and then enjoy another cup while I read.

It took me a while to stop this habit, but for a while I bought huge bottles of non dairy creamer (sugar free hazelnut) from Winco. YEAH! Each time I bought a bottle I cringed a little, knowing that Mommy would not approve of me ingesting such a thing, so I eventually said goodbye to my beloved creamer and used agave or just half and half instead. Right now, stevia is a once-in-a-while treat for me (even though I think it’s pretty benign), and so is every other alternative sweetener I can think of.

Since we have a big bag of dates in the fridge, I took the opportunity to make a dairy free creamer. I flavored mine with vanilla and cinnamon, but you can add whatever you like. I’m sure I’d enjoy this with coffee, but I actually poured mine in tea and loved it. Since I’m sugar-conscious I limit my intake of this creamer (knowing how many dates are in the whole batch and how many servings I should try to get out of it) and just make my coffee/tea the “right” color by adding more plain milk or cream.

Sweet Cream – [Dairy Free Creamer]
makes a little less than 2 cups

6 dates (pitted)

1.5 c nondairy milk (e.g. unsweetened vanilla almond – YUM)

dash of cinnamon

splash of vanilla

Put everything in your blender and turn it on. When everything’s combined well, you’re done! Enjoy.

176. So Simple: Raw Salted Caramel Dip [from the Detoxinista]

So Simple: Detoxinista's Salted Caramel Dip || Ann Ning Learning How

This was so easy to make.  I saw it at Detoxinista.com and asked Mommy to buy some dates at Costco.  I settled on the bag of pitted ones since the Medjools had pits, plus they were more expensive, so I was glad to have a whole bag of sweet pitted fruit for fewer dollars, eveb if some opine that Medjools are superior.  Now although there is no sugar added in this recipe, it is plenty sweet, and the texture is very dippy.  It’s not exactly like caramel, but I wasn’t expecting that.  I wasn’t making this so I could make candy apples, but I found this to be a wonderful dip for granny smiths (or any other variety of apple you have around), and as a special treat – pretzels (to play up the saltiness).  And to make sure I used up the stuff I couldn’t scrape out from the bottom of my Vitamix, I made my first Apple Pie Smoothie – it was SO good. (Instead of adding dates I just used whatever was in the blender.)

Here’s the  recipe:  Detoxinista’s Salted Caramel Dip.

Apple Pie Smoothie || Ann Ning Learning How