Butternut Squash Curry

I've been busy over at BasilHealth again creating content. This issue is full of really healthy fun information including this recipe for my butternut squash {or left over pumpkin from Thanksgiving} curry. It's really warming, hearty and full of bright flavors. Plus it's vegan {dairy-free} and gluten-free. 

Feel free to get creative and add all kinds of herbs and veggies that you have left over from Thanksgiving in the refrigerator. Mmmmmm. I'm craving this again now. 

The curry base is one you'll want to keep on hand for future meals. It's really healthy, super easy to make and will impress any guests {wink}. 

For full recipe and details, visit BasilHealth. <-----------click on the link

Savory Seaweed Rice Breakfast

I haven't spoken much about my trip to Hawaii here in the blog but I did post a few pics on Instagram. We had the mostly lovely trip and quality time together. We haven't been on a trip together since my older boys were like 1 year and 2 years old. It was a long time coming. 


One of the best parts of traveling is often the food. The different cuisines and culinary experiences are key to the authentic experience. But sometimes food can be the most difficult part of travel. And with a child who is gluten intolerant, a son who doesn't do well with dairy, a mom who is vegan a dad who is pescatarian we are pretty laughable at best. But we did our best to keep under the radar and just be chill about the whole trip. Not worry too much about what we were eating. 

The morning all-inclusive, all-you-can-eat buffet was definitely a plus for a family of five. But between the donuts, the omelets and the cheese, I had a hard time finding any options. However, admits the food chaos I found a little "miso soup" bar. It must be for the Japanese visitors. 

I was so excited to see a rice cooker filled with hot white rice. Every morning I piled up my bowl with rice, seaweed, walnuts, tofu, picked gobo root and a little salt and pepper. Along with a plate of papaya of course. 

I loved this warm savory breakfast so much that I decided to replicate it at home. I make it now a few times a week mid morning after my boys are off to school and my baby is napping. It's so nice and comforting on the chilly Fall mornings. 


Serves 1 

1/2 cup cooked white rice {you can get it premade in the freezer isle if you're too tired to make it}

1/4 cup chopped tofu

1/4 cup dried arame seaweed 

2 Tbls sriracha queso sauce {i keep this stuff on hand at all times}

1 Tbls cultured or pickled veggies {optional}

few slices of ripe avocado

In a small bowl or measuring cup add cover dried seaweed in super hot water to soften / re-hydrate it before eating. In your favorite soup or salad bowl add the rest of the ingredients. Top with the queso sauce. Drain the seaweed and add that as well. 

You can obviously have fun with this bowl and add your own touches. I added a little bit of the seaweed water to the bowl, for more seaweed flavor and nutrients. 





Tea Date With Plant-Based Dr Mcilvena

A few weeks ago I came across a list of plant-based doctors in my area. Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, a double board-certified MD specializing in Preventive and Integrative Medicine, was one of them on the list. I had a few questions floating around in my head lately for plant-based MDs {there aren't a ton out there}. So I figured why not get to know somebody in my hood. I contacted her for tea date.

What a fun hour we had talking about meds, health, diet, and sharing our personal health journeys. Dr Mcilvena's story is much like anybody's story when it comes to life changing discoveries: she found a book that really spoke to her, made {diet} changes, and then watched her health and life totally transform. 

Most people I know who have healed or cured their own pain/disease/illness have done so in a similar way. 

But Dr Mcilvena's story is even cooler than most because during her health transformations she was in the middle of medical school when it all happened. The book she was given is called Spontaneous Healing, by Dr Weil and after reading this book she removed animals from her diet and after a year she went full plant-based.

She became passionate and started reading more books and following more like-minded doctors at this point. All the while she was deeply immersed in med school where she was learning about different meds and how to use them to manage patients' illnesses and diseases. Never was she coached on changing diet or lifestyle nor was she taught about disease prevention. 

You know what the acronym MD should stand for? Managing. Disease." --- Dr Mcilvena

Mcilvena explained, "most of the patients in the hospital were suffering from lifestyle related diseases. The medications and procedures didn't cure them, and many times resulted in complications. Many times we'd end up prescribing more medication and more procedures to deal with the complications. It wasn't an effective system." For four years she was with the same doctors and the same patients and nobody was ever getting better. It was just like putting bandaids on to cover up the bigger problems. Dr Mcilvena said to me, laughing, you know what MD should stand for? Managing. Disease. That's exactly what the medical practice is - we are trained to manage people's diseases." 

Finally in 2014 Dr Mcilvena was fortunate enough to finish her residency in Loma Linda, CA. In case you aren't familiar with this area, it's considered the only "Blue Zone" {communities around the world where people live the longest} in America. Here she was able to incorporate diet and nutrition in addition to her patients' pharmaceutical regime. She started to see progress when people changed their lifestyles. It made so much sense to Dr Mcilvena that she decided to focus on a more integrative and holistic approach to treating disease. 

In 2014, Dr Mcilvena opened her private practice in Encinitas, CA, devoted to chronic disease reversal. Her revolutionary approach to treating chronic disease focuses on whole food, plant-based nutrition and emphasizes healthy lifestyle changes over pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures.

Dr. Mcilvena believes passionately in the power of lifestyle medicine, and she lives this belief every day. She has personally practiced a plant-based diet for over 10 years and strives to maintain balance through daily exercise, yoga and meditation. She enjoys cooking, hiking, playing the ukulele and taking walks on the beach with her husband Dave.  

I asked her a few more personal questions as well that I have always wondered about fellow plant-based eaters. 

Juli: Do you ever doubt your choice to not eat meat or dairy? {considering Paleo diets are all the rage right now}.

Dr Mcilvena: No! There's just so much emerging evidence. The fat in animal meat has been shown to cause plaque in the arteries and increased risk of cancer and death. My patients vitals and labs also show progress when following this lifestyle - decreased blood sugars and cholesterol - plus they say they feel better than ever. 

J: What supplements do you take and recommend to patients going vegan?

M: B12 is the only supplement I take. I don't take too many vitamins. I think your diet should be clean with lots of plants and that should be enough. 

J: What is your favorite quick and healthy sauce?

M: Tahini, water and soy sauce blended up. Or a good cashew sauce. I do a water salt base and add all kinds of herbs or different flavors to this base depending on the dish. 

J: What about the amino acid and protein debate? What's your answer to that oh so common question? 

M: The protein combining, remember that? For the proper number of amino acids? That's not true any longer. The body can hang onto them until we get them all. And legumes, nuts, grains, plants, seaweed and seeds will get your all the amino acids you need. I love lentils. I don't even use a protein powders. I don't think they are necessary for me to get my protein needs.

J:  What does your typical evening look like, after you get off work?

M: After work usually looks like me taking about 30 mintues to relax before starting up dinner, after dinner I usually read. I take a break midday during the week to do yoga and go for a walk near the beach. 

J: When you splurge what do you splurge on? 

M: I usually splurge on Mexican food or indian food, out. I'm have a savory tooth much more than a sweet tooth. 

J: If you have children, will you raise them plant based? Or have you thought that far ahead?

M: My husband and I will most definitely raise our children plant-based. Our home will always be 100% plant based, when they are old enough to make their own decisions, we will support them in experimenting. The last thing that we will want to do is be so controlling over what they eat that they get turned off by plant-based. But having said that, home will always be a plant-based place {wink}.

J: Your favorite remedy for a cold/flu?

M: I ditched the chicken noodle soup of my childhood and replaced it with a delicious, comforting potato soup, which uses blended raw cashews to give it the creaminess I want, without butter or cream. 

Essential oil "steams" are a must for congestion, usually with rosemary or eucalyptus - it really helps clear the sinuses. I also tend to eat a lot of hot sauce for the same purpose. 

J: Any projects your working on other than seeing clients? Do you want to write a book or anything else of that kind?

M: I definitely aspire to write a book or two, I love writing and have since I was in high school. I'm also working on a project with my Startup company WellStart Health, we are looking to replicate the results I've seen in my plant-based patients, but take it to an exciting, new platform. 

A big THANK YOU to Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena for the wonderful tea date. I know my readers will be happy about this article. Your a total inspiration! 

For more about Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena visit her web site and below is the rest of her bio:

Along with board certifications in both Preventive Medicine and Integrative Medicine, Dr. Mcilvena holds a Master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in population health, behavior change and program planning. After graduating from the University of Missouri Kansas City Medical School in 2009, she moved to Phoenix, where she completed her internship in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Banner Good Samaritan and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. 

Dr. Mcilvena is a medical advisor and frequent contributor to SuperFoodsRX, a website devoted to disseminating evidence-based nutritional information.


"Queso" Loco Sauce

I was talking the other day on Instagram { <----follow me, click here } about sauces and how a sauce can make or break a meal. Finding your favorite dairy-free sauces is a key to sticking with and really enjoying eating a plant-based diet. If you never make fun sauces you might get really bored or not ever enjoy a vegan meal. 

Cheese {dairy} or sour cream are so easy and don't require much work but a little crumble or spoon full to add tang or fatty flavor to any meal. I take that back, making cows milk into a good cheese or sour cream takes a LOT of work, but somebody else does it before you buy it. That's a side note. 

Anyways, my point is, if you keep a catalogue or better yet a pinterest board { <---- check out mine here } with your favorite sauces, you'll be sure to enjoy your plants so much more. 

Today I'm sharing my Queso Loco sauce with you. It's crazy good and crazy spicy {you can make it as spicy as you'd like}. I've made 3 batches of this sauce since Monday.

Note: On one occasion I did accidentally throw away my camera's little tiny memory card. I was really bummed because life has been too busy to run and grab a new one this week. So I had to resort to my iPhone for this post. Luckily the recipe is simple and pretty pics aren't all that necessary to portray the texture and creaminess of this lovely sauce. 


yields about a cup


1/2 cup cashews {raw or toasted or both}

1/4 cup water {or more depending on how thick you like it}

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice {just about 1 lemon, juiced}

1/2 Tsp sea salt

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 Tbls sriracha sauce {start with one and add as you go, until spice is perfect for you}

1 Tbls instant veggie base powder {I was not paid to pitch this product, it's so good and makes soups and sauces really amazing, it does contain soy. I got mine from amazon and it came next day}


Put all the above ingredients into a high speed blender and puree until completely smooth. The batch I photographed was thicker than my others. I preferred the batch a tad thinner without any signs of chucks. The more water you add the thinner the texture. Play around. Maybe add water as you go. It should be easy to puree in the blender, not thick and difficult to mix. 

Use on white rice with greens. OR add to beans. I hope you enjoy. 

XO -- Juli