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September 09, 2011



Do you know if the MATCH meat substitute is gluten free? Or does it uses the vital wheat gluten used in many fake meats?



I've been thoroughly enjoying your blog and find your research on the benefits of eating a plant-based diet quite helpful in warming up the rest of the family to this way of eating/living.

A quick question...I'm surprised at the inclusion of the canned tomatoes in some of your recipes given the tremendously high sodium content. I recently made the Taco Soup, which was delicious, but even with my substitution with one can of no-salt added diced tomatoes, I found the soup to be overly salty. What am I missing here? Maybe you've addressed this elsewhere already and I haven't come across it yet?

Thanks so much for your contributions to healthier eating in our home!

The Healthy Librarian

Carol, unfortunately MATCH has some gluten in it, like most of the fauxs. Even Isa & some other vegan cookbook authors use it, because it holds everything together. Which is pretty unfair to those who avoid gluten. I bet more companies will start considering a way to remove it.

Chell, yes, I admit it--I'm not salt-free. I buy the salt-free beans--and I think maybe Muir Glen has a no-salt variety but it's plain. For some recipes I'm hooked on the taste of the fire-roasted kind--which do have salt. Did you leave the salt out of the Torilla Soup, and use low-sodium veggie broth, and unsalted tortillas?


Definitely going to try it. Question on agave. I've noticed a lot of recipes use agave and I've seen it at the store. I'm building my small arsenal of healthful staples. I assume agave is a sugar substitute in these recipes. I currently have in my cupboard: white sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, can's of pineapple, and applesauce. I seldom use the first two and I'm working on eliminating them. Although sugar makes a good skin scrub, so it has a dual purpose :-)

Is agave syrup and agave nectar the same thing? If you had to select one, would you go for agave or brown rice syrup? Could honey be used instead?
I'm wondering if I can get by with just honey. I do give consideration that honey isn't plant based and the bees are in trouble. Our local farmers' market sells honey that is locally grown and they are trying to save the bees --- and plants need bees.

Do you like your Vita-Mix mixer? I've heard that it can also replace the kitchen food processor. Has that been your experiencing? ThxU

Veggie V! @Veggie V's Vegan Adventure

I've been reading your blog for quite a while. It's nice to actually know some of the places you reference. I was excited to see (and follow) your link to the Wellness Forum. This is new to me, but we get to Columbus often, so I'm especially interested!

Jo M.

OK, this is not based on the silken tofu template, but here's my secret.

I take my favorite salad dressing recipes, like: (white miso dressing recipe on the back of the white miso container, honey and mustard, basic vinaigrette [olive oil, garlic, mustard powder, wine vinegar, a little salt, and honey], raspberry or plum vinaigrette, Eating Well's cilantro dressing) and slim them down by using fruits and/or veggies to thicken.

I do use olive oil (here's where you can substitute the silken tofu) but rachet it down from 3/4 cup to 1/3 cup per 1-cup or 1-1/2- cup batch, filling in with lemon juice and thickener.

My favorite thickener is cooked white sweet potato, but I have also used slices of roasted zucchini (great for pesto) or yellow summer squash, raw cuke, raw celery, and apple.

Blueberries, walnuts, balsamic vinegar, and a touch of sweetener make a great salad dressing.

Soaked dates blended with balsamic vinegar, walnuts, and seasonings (tarragon, mustard powder, maybe garlic) are also good.

Fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, and basil also thicken as well as providing a flavor base. I often blend as much as 1/4 to 1/3 cup hot water into these vegetable- or fruit-thickened dressings; they are thin at first but thicken up in the fridge.

Teacher Fan

OK Healthy Librarian-PLEASE put an asterisk on your prune article-the 10 to 12 prunes must be eaten within a “healthy” space of time--not all at once.

DO NOT DO what I did!!! I ate my 10 prunes within an hour and I paid for it. The last hour of the in-service ( i.e being in a public place) I was participating in was agony. Shades of colonoscopy.

Love the two bean taco salad-going to try it this weekend!

Your BIL

I like this post deb!

Good snappy cookbook material. Maybe some day?
Some of my friends who now follow you remark how prolific you have been!

The Healthy Librarian

DJ: Agave is a sweetener that's purportedly made from the cactus, but that's under dispute--it was (& for some still is) the darling of the sweetener world, because it's mostly fructose & supposedly didn't raise blood sugar & might be safe for diabetics. Not! Read more about that here:

But, that said--it's not the whole story. Fructose (without fiber is still not good for us when it's separated from fruit--think high fructose corn syrup) Read this post (one of my favorites to get the low-down on sugar:

I still use agave in small quantities as part of a recipe--a tsp. here, a tablespoon there, & maybe even a quarter of a cup.

I'm sure your honey would work out just fine in the chipotle recipe.

I've been using the same left-over box of brown sugar, too, for years, adding a tablespoon or so when a recipe calls for it.

I lean towards maple syrup as a recipe sweetener substitute--it's made where I live-and at least has some added nutrients to it. Read why here:

For coffee (just 1 cup in the am) I sweeten with stevia.

I LOVE my Vita-Mix and use it 1-3 times a day now, going on 3 1/2 years.
Read more here:

It's a high-powered blender that blends tough fruits & vegetables in a flash---it can do some things that a food processor can do--like make hummus & sauces--but it's not a substitute for a processor.

I still depend on my food processor for other jobs, because given its wide size and different blades, it's better for just cutting ingredients into small pieces & mixing ingredients without totally pulverizing them--I need them both!

Way more than you needed to do! Sorry

The Healthy Librarian

Jo M: Brilliant, thanks for your fabulous suggestions.

BIL: Totally value your discriminating critiques! LOL re the cookbook!!! Can't see that happening. Let me know if you try the chipotle dressing. Thanks for sharing the blog with your friends.

Teacher Fan: OY!!! So sorry about the "uncomfortable" (to say the least) afternoon on the loo. Guess the study's participants weren't getting near the fiber that us plant-based people are getting. Let me know if the problem goes away if you space the prunes out. Try eating just 5 a day. I'm putting "the warning" on the press release, ASAP!

Michelle R-B, New Zealand

Greetings from New Zealand:

OK Debby, I rose to your tofu template challenge!

I made a dressing with the following ingredients added to tofu: lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic cloves, tahini, white miso, pepper, low salt seasoning (I used Spike), and vinegars (white balsalmic and cider vinegar.

I tasted after each addition, and it was the apple cider vinegar that had me most excited: it gave the dressing a really old-fashioned traditional flavour.

I used tofu jelly, which is really soft, but I suspect I could have used a firmer tofu in the food processor, as the lemon juice etc waters it down considerably.

It was really good: we had it on a couscous salad that had cilantro, nuts and cucumber in it.


Dear Healthy Librarian: Can you speak to the economics of plant-based eating? It seems like there are plenty of special ingredients in vegan recipies. On the other hand, meat and dairy, especially organics, are expensive. What have you found since you adopted this lifestyle? Thanks!


Your chipotle dressing sounds good and I'll try it the next time I get some silken tofu. (But I'm already thinking of what I can sub for the capers and shallots if I don't have them on hand! I tend to look at recipes for inspiration and then improvise.)

Years ago I used to make a simple sauce for baked potatoes with silken tofu, lemon juice, dillweed, and garlic (powder or fresh).

One of the most useful things I learned at a local cooking demo was how to put together a sauce or dressing. Laura Stec, who wrote the cookbook Cool Cuisine, said a sauce should contain a fat, an acid, a salt, and a sweet ingredient.

This helped me understand why the recipe for peanut sauce that I found on an alumni e-list tasted better than what I'd been using (adding garlic and ginger to peanut butter). The new improved peanut sauce contains peanut butter, rice vinegar, tamari, and agave syrup (lately I've been using feijoa ginger syrup that was intended to be marmalade, originally made with sucanat or organic sugar) as well as fresh ginger, chipotle powder, and toasted sesame oil. It's my favorite way to eat peanut butter and I use it mostly on kale and (for potlucks) pasta.

So in Candle Cafe's recipe, the tofu is the "fat." The only other fat ingredients I tend to use in sauces are tahini, peanut butter, and toasted sesame oil. For salt I use tamari, but I'd like to experiment with miso and bragg's aminos (and capers?). For acid, lemon or lime juice or vinegar -- or tomatoes. And for a sweetener I usually have agave syrup on hand, but would use maple syrup or even molasses where that would complement the other flavors.

Last week I made a red cabbage salad and used the same guidelines to make a simple dressing: 1T toasted sesame oil, 2T each balsamic vinegar, feijoa ginger syrup, and tamari, plus some fresh ginger. I used half a cabbage plus some celery (would have added carrots but ran out), and this amount was enough for the whole salad. Delicious! The dressing helped it keep for several days in the fridge.

The Healthy Librarian


Thanks for the very helpful deconstruction of a good sauce! Such excellent suggestions-and you're right--tofu & a few nuts serve as the fat of my low-fat sauces. I feel like you've given me better insight into creating a sauce template.

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