“Power Plates” by Gena Hamshaw


Generally plant based cooking takes prep and thought to pre plan meals but Gena Hamshaw brilliantly shares ways to combine protein, fat, complex carbs and produce, into nutritionally balanced meals.  With 100 recipes including meal plans and prep ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the reader is sure to find something enticing and healthful to make.  I’ve already found so many great recipes which are fabulously tasty and healthy. I switched over to a plant based diet a year ago but since the switch, it has been difficult to find recipes which are good.  Additionally, it takes hours and hours to scour the internet and cookbooks to find new ideas.  This book has definitely opened up my world of discovery in the plant based cooking arena. This wealth of recipes have saved me from the doldrums of cooking the same dishes over and over again and have breathed a fresh new perspective on plant based cooking for me. I enjoy the resource of so many great mouthwatering recipes in one book!  The only thing I wished  is that the recipes contained a nutritional information breakdown such as grams of protein, etc.  A note about the book itself, the pages of the book have a nice heavy weight and the colors, beautiful photography and font add to the book having a nice overall clean and crisp feel.

I particularly loved the author’s food prep and freezing tips such as freeze leftover canned coconut milk in ice cube trays, in the past my leftover always ends up getting thrown out.  I also love the suggestion to add kombu to dry beans while they are cooking to help them become easier to digest.

The book is packed full of ideas and mouthwatering recipes. A few of the recipes which enticed me and were the, “Warm Chop Salad, with peanut dressing“, pg. 81, “Winter Salad, with bulgur, radicchio and toasted almonds“, pg. 85, “Sesame Citrus Soba Salad“, pg. 86, which I have yet to try. In one week I have already found some outstanding favorites which I will add to my regular rotation, “Mulligatawny”, pg. 127 (a whole new take on lentil and rice soup), “Wholemeal Muffins“, pg. 50, “Deli Bowls” which include a chickpea “deli style” salad which is mouthwatering,  pg. 169, and  “French Toast”, pg. 57.  Every single recipe I’ve tried has knocked it out of the park in flavor!  Gena makes plant based cooking rewarding and delicious, the “French Toast” is even better than I remember an egg and dairy milk based French toast ever being.  I never knew I could achieve such flavors!

I received this book from “Blogging for Books” for my honest review.



Best Breakfast Green Bowl


pictured above: a Green Day bowl from Sejuiced, in Newport Beach, CA

Just when I thought the Acai bowl was my favorite new plant based frozen treat, along came this Green Bowl to satisfy my sweet tooth/summertime frozen treat craving!  The color is green, but the taste is like a soft serve tropical ice cream, think pineapple, mango, banana…and I promise you the green does not get in the way of the incredible fruity flavors!  This is thicker than a smoothie, so grab a bowl, a spoon and get ready for a great breakfast, lunch, or anytime treat. Topped with fresh fruit, shredded coconut, goji berries, and even a spoonful of almond butter or peanut butter, this treat will make you smile and dive in for more!

For easy prep, purchase pre washed and packaged baby spinach and kale OR instead of kale just use a * “power greens” mix which has a combination of spinach, kale and chard.  I used a combination of baby spinach and power greens because I wanted more spinach.

Just like the Acai bowl, the green bowl blends best in a high powered blender such as a Vitamix.  I have not tried the recipe in any other blender and it probably wont work as well, especially if you do not have a tamper.  The slimmer tapered container works better than the low profile container because it takes less ingredients to fill up the bottom and maximize the power of the blade.  I use my 48 oz. container, especially when just making one serving.

Ingredients for one serving but this recipe doubles beautifully:

  • A handful of baby spinach and a handful of kale (or instead of kale a handful of “power greens” *see note above)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/4 cup liquid of your choice, suggestions to choose from include: water, flax water (1/2 Tbls. flax and 1/4 cup water), coconut milk, almond milk


Place all ingredients in blender in the order listed.  Start blender on low and ramp up to high using the tamper to tamp the ingredients down until a smooth consistency is achieved and all of the ingredients are blended well.  Remove contents from blender using a spoon or spatula and layer with granola or top with sliced banana, fresh blueberries, granola , shredded unsweetened coconut, goji berries, almond butter or peanut butter, or other toppings of choice.  Consume immediately or freeze for later consumption.  Enjoy!

Please see my blog for a great home made granola recipe: https://wordpress.com/post/dawnielovestocook.wordpress.com/3648

The Best Acai Bowl


pictured above (Acai bowl from Sejuiced, Newport Beach, CA)

If you have never tasted an Acai Bowl you are in for a treat!  Think thick, icy smoothie that you eat with a spoon, it eats like a frozen soft serve ice cream but is all natural with no artificial sweeteners…it doesn’t need any extra sweetness because it is SO naturally GOOD!  Add toppings like sliced fresh fruit, granola, cacao nibs, even a spoonful of almond butter or peanut butter and you are in for a very satisfying treat!

I’ve only made this in a high powered blender such as a Vitamix so I can’t vouch for any other blender. I also use my small 48 oz. container versus my larger low profile container, I found the models which have the slimmer taller jar work better because you will be tamping down the ingredients as you blend.

Ingredients for 1 serving :

  • 1/2 a frozen banana
  • 1/4 Acai Stick (can find at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/4 cup liquid of choice: water, flax milk (1/2 Tbls. flax with 1/4 c water), almond milk, or coconut milk

Toppings: sliced fresh fruit such as half a sliced banana, sliced strawberries, or your favorite fruit, granola (see note below) , peanut butter, cacao nibs


Place ingredients in blender in the order they are listed.  Turn blender on low and gently ramp up speed using tamper on high speed to push ingredients down and blend to smooth consistency.  Remove from blender with spoon, and layer with granola and toppings.  Enjoy immediately or freeze for later consumption.


The recipe is easily doubled if you are making more than one bowl, the more ingredients the easier to blend.

Alternatively, you can use frozen Pitaya sticks instead of Acai sticks.  I find the Pitaya is an acquired more sour flavor and prefer Acai.

Note: Please see my blog for a great granola recipe: https://wordpress.com/post/dawnielovestocook.wordpress.com/3648




Spaghetti Squash Casserole



I first tried this dish at True Food Kitchen and fell in love with the light textures and fresh flavors of this dish. After recently switching to a plant based diet, I was thrilled when the restaurant allowed me to substitute their house made dairy free almond ricotta instead of a traditional mozzarella topped version . I will admit, I rarely eat spaghetti squash, and had never even cooked it before. I will be cooking spaghetti squash a lot more now that I have been inspired with this fabulous, light tasting casserole which is so filling and just bursting full of texture and flavor.

One of the things I love about this recipe is the make ahead factor. The sauce is not even cooked until final assembly.  All of the components, like the roasted spaghetti squash, spiralized/julienned zucchini, caramelized onions, sauce, and even the almond ricotta (for a non dairy version-almonds must be soaked a day ahead-recipe link below), may be made and prepped ahead and stored separately until final assembly.  The assembly of the dish takes just minutes to warm in a skillet and then the casserole may be popped in the oven just to melt or warm the cheese.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole Recipe:

Time: about 1 1/2 hours total not including the overnight soak for almond ricotta

Serves 6 generous portions – as pictured above this is a half a recipe baked in an 8 inch by 10.5 inch by 2 inch deep dish, I saved the remaining half of the cooked or prepped ingredients to make another smaller casserole a few nights later. If making the full casserole recipe all at once, use a 9×13 casserole dish when ready to bake.


For the Sauce:

  • 1 28 oz. can Blanco or other brand of Organic Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves of Garlic, peeled with brown root end cut off of the clove
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano or 1 tsp. Fresh Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1-Tbls. Olive Oil (omit if oil-free version is desired-will still taste great)

For the Squash:

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash around 4-5 pounds, split in half lengthwise and seeded (roast the seeds separately with olive oil and salt for a nice snack)
  • 2 Zucchini Julienned or spiralized (I used a Kitchen Aid spiralizer-thin blade)
  • 2-3 Tbls. of Fresh Parsley, or Basil, or Thyme for garnish (or use a combination of and or all, dried or fresh)
  • 1 Onion Caramelized (Dice one medium to large sized yellow onion and sauté in a pan with 1-2 Tbls. of oil, or water for oil-free version, on medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until brown and soft-can add a few teaspoons to taste of honey, maple syrup or brown sugar to speed up the process). I ran out of olive oil so I used the liquid that remained on my sheet pan after roasting the spaghetti squash.
  • 2 Tbls of Olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and fibers attached to the seeds. Save the seeds to roast for a delicious snack.  If using oil, rub a small amount of olive oil just to lightly coat the inside of the spaghetti squash halves and sprinkle salt and pepper on the inside as well. For an oil free version omit the oil, it will be fine.  Lay the two halves cut side facing down on a sheet pan lined with parchment for easy clean up.  Roast until al dente-approximately 40 minutes. You do not want to overcook. Use a spoon or fork to scoop out the spaghetti squash strands once slightly cooled. The squash may be roasted and cooked a day ahead and refrigerated until needed.
  2. While the spaghetti sauce is roasting, caramelize the chopped onions in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil or for an oil free version water or vegetable broth so the onions do not stick. If you have liquid left over from the roasting of the spaghetti squash, you can use that as well. Add sweetener of choice to help with the browning and to add some sweetness.  This should take about 30 minutes or so on medium low heat. This can be made a day ahead.
  3. Blend all sauce ingredients in blender until almost pureed with some slight texture to the tomato. This can be refrigerated and made a day ahead if necessary. Keep the sauce uncooked, it will be cooked further later.
  4. Spiralize or Julienne the Zucchini
  5. Heat a large sauté pan with 2 Tablespoons of oil or water. You can even use any liquid that was on the sheet pan after roasting the squash.  Add the cooked and separated spaghetti squash strands which were scooped out of the skin, julienned zucchini, tomato sauce and caramelized onions till combined and just heated through.  Place mixture in a casserole dish and top with mozzarella cheese or almond ricotta if desired.  Please see my blog or the link below for the almond ricotta recipe:   https://wordpress.com/posts/dawnielovestocook.wordpress.com
  6. Place casserole dish uncovered in a 400 F degrees oven until mozzarella cheese is melted and has a slight color or almond ricotta is heated and just warmed through. Once the cheese is melted and browned (mozzarella) or warned through ( almond ricotta), finish the dish with some chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil , thyme or a combination of one or all three. If you do not have fresh herbs used dried.

Enjoy!  Makes great leftovers as well!

Almond Ricotta


Almond Ricotta is so easy to make and is a great non dairy alternative.  Almond Ricotta can sell for up to $9.00 for a 4 oz package at Whole Foods Market, but you can make it at home for a fraction of the price.  The recipe does require a high speed powerful blender and just a little planning ahead.  To create the creamy, dreamy texture of ricotta, the almonds must be soft, so an overnight soak of raw slivered blanched (skins removed) almonds is ideal. There are quick soak methods, using hot water to soften but I have always done an overnight soak. Once the soaking is done and the almonds are drained and rinsed, the blender does all of the work.  Almond Ricotta may be dotted onto a baked pizza, or used to finish pasta dishes. Once the ricotta is added then place the pizza or pasta back in the oven just to warm the ricotta. Pictured above is a Spaghetti Squash Casserole which was warmed in a sauté pan, placed in a baking dish, topped with the cold Almond Ricotta and heated just to warm in the oven.  I finished the dish with some freshly chopped basil.  Preparing nut cheese requires food safety.  I always keep my almonds in the refrigerator during the soaking process and also refrigerate after the Ricotta is made. The Ricotta is perishable so keep in refrigerated for no more than 3-4 days.

Recipe-Yields approximately 1 cup of Almond Ricotta

Time: 8 hours/overnight soak, plus 5 minutes to blend and


  • 1 cup of raw blanched slivered almonds
  • Spring Water for soaking and for blending (approximately 1-2 cups)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Place blanched slivered almonds in a 1 cup glass measuring cup or other container.  Pour spring water over the almonds until fully submerged with about  1-2 inches of additional water over the top of the almonds. The almonds will slightly expand when soaking.  Cover container with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
  2. ***Very Important Step*** Make sure to drain and rinse the almonds well in a colander or strainer ***Do not use soaking liquid
  3. Place the blanched almonds in the blender with a few pinches of salt and pepper and blend on high speed with 1/4 cup of water to start and then drizzle in more water while blending until you get the consistency of ricotta. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use.

***Blender note: a narrow base blender jar works better than a wide base jar due to the small volume of ricotta made in this recipe. I have used a wide base jar, but just have to stop and scrape down the sides a few times to get the consistency I am looking for.