Yes, You Can Eat Carbs

For many people, carbs are a very scary thing. This is mainly because of low-carb diets with over-simplified claims that say all carbs are bad.

Well, let’s take a quick peak into what carbs actually are to see things a little differently.

Carbohydrates are made by plants through photosynthesis, the process by which plants use water, carbon, and chlorophyll to convert sunlight into energy. (Remember that from science class?)

So when we eat foods containing carbohydrates, we are eating fuel from the sun. In turn, our bodies convert that fuel into glucose to supply the major source of energy for most of our bodily functions.

That said, there are two types of carbohydrates: complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates in foods like whole grains, beans, nuts, whole fruit, and vegetables are healthiest because the essential fiber and other nutrients are intact. So they enter your bloodstream gradually, which means your blood sugar level remains steady. The fiber in foods with complex carbohydrates also protect against major chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

On the other hand, simple carbohydrates in foods like white sugar, white rice, white bread, white pasta, and white flour, have had the fiber and most nutrients removed in the “refining” process. So they enter and leave your bloodstream quickly, causing a temporary spike then a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, and the premature return of hunger pangs. This can have a dangerous effect on the body, especially for people with heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

So all carbs are not the same. You do want to eat complex carbs, but not simple carbs. And one of the easiest ways to eat more complex carbs is to eat whole grains.

Here’s a list of 14 whole grains and how to cook them. This week, swap out any simple or refined grains you may normally cook with for at least three of these whole grains. Grains with an asterisk are gluten-free. And don’t forget that whole grain pasta and bread count, too. Just check the ingredients to be sure they use only 100% whole grains. If the ingredients include “flour,” “unbleached flour,” or “rice,” then that means white flour and white rice.


To 1 Cup of This Grain: Add This Much Water: Bring to Boil, Then Simmer: Cooked, Makes:
Amaranth* 3 cups 45-60 min 3½ cups
Barley 3 cups 45-60 min 3½ cups
Black Rice* 2 cups 30 min 3 cups
Brown Rice* 2½ cups 25-45 min 3 cups
Buckwheat* 2 cups 20 min 4 cups
Bulgur 2 cups 10-12 min 3 cups
Corn Grits or Polenta* 4 cups 25-30 min 2½ cups
Einkorn 2 cups 25-35 min 3 cups
Farro 2½ cups 25-40 min 3 cups
Millet* 2 ½ cups 25-35 min 4 cups
Oats (steel cut)** 4 cups 20 min 4 cups
Quinoa* 2 cups 12-15 min 3 cups
Teff* 3 cups 20 min 2½ cups
Wild Rice* 3 cups 45-55 3½ cups

**Oats are gluten-free, but are commonly grown and processed with wheat, so make sure the packaging is labeled gluten-free
Excerpted from

And let me note here that sometimes people find changing to fiber-rich foods may cause gas and bloating. If you find this happening to you, start with more easily digested grains, like quinoa and oats, until your digestive system becomes adjusted.


My Favorite Kitchen Tools & Tips For Vegan Cooking

Here’s a list of time-saving tools that I use most in my kitchen, along with tips on how to use them. When you cook more at home, the preparation becomes much easier when you already have your kitchen set up with the tools you need.


Chef’s Knife and Paring Knife

Apart from your own hands, these are probably your most essential tools in the kitchen. If you cook from scratch most of the time, then you’ll be doing a lot of vegetable chopping, which requires good knives. Be sure to get a chef’s knife with a size and weight that fits well in your hand. And don’t forget the knife sharpener. Keeping your knives sharp will help make chopping much easier and will protect your hands from slips that happen more readily with a dull knife.

Citrus Juicer

I use my citrus juicer just about every day for freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. It’s much easier to extract more juice this way than by hand.

Cutting Boards

Wooden cutting boards are the most sustainable choice, and they help protect your knives, unlike chopping directly on ceramic counter tops. Flexible cutting boards are also good choices because you can easily slide whatever you’ve chopped right into your pan or bowl.

Electric Crock Pot

Using an electric crock pot (or slow cooker) makes it easy to cook a big batch of beans, rice, stew, chili, and other dishes on the weekend to eat from during the week. Or you can use it to cook while you’re away from home or sleeping or just doing other things. You won’t have to constantly check on the food, and when it’s hot outside, you won’t have to turn on the stove or oven. Crock pots are also energy efficient, which makes them cost-effective to use, as well.

Food Processor

Chopping vegetables, onions, garlic, and nuts are much easier with a food processor. It’s also great for easily making sauces, dips, and pesto.

Glass Baking Pans with Lids

It’s a good idea to get standard (9×13-inch) and larger sizes of these glass baking pans for making delish dishes like lasagna, mac and cheese, and fruit cobblers. And the lids make them convenient because you can keep them in the pan when you store them in the fridge.

Glass Canning Jars

These are my favorite containers for storing my leftover smoothies and green drinks in the refrigerator. I also use them to store dry staples like beans, nuts, and whole grains.

Glass Pitcher

I fill mine every morning and leave it on the counter to drink from to be sure I’m getting my 6-8 glasses of water daily. I sometimes add chop fruit slices or fresh berries for variety. It’s a pretty reminder to drink my water.

High-Speed Blender

I highly recommend investing in a good quality high-speed blender if you can because it makes eating more plant foods a breeze. I use a Vitamix, which can be a bit costly, but it lasts. I’ve used mine every day for many years to make daily green smoothies or vegetable drinks that come out silky smooth, with no or low visible pulp. I also use it to blend just about anything else, from soups to pie fillings to cashew cream to pureed fruit.

Kitchen Scissors

I use my kitchen scissors to cut my baked tortillas and pitas into chip-size pieces for dips and soups. They also work well to cut stalks away from greens, especially if neatness counts for making wraps or rolls.

Kitchen Towels

These are essential to wipe your hands as you cook and to cut down on the use of paper towels. They’re also great for unexpected uses, as I mention under Rimmed Baking Pans.

Nonstick Muffin Tins

I love, love, love warm muffins from the oven! I usually put silicon baking cups in the muffin tins, but you can also use nonstick muffin tins. Either of these options help minimize or eliminate using oil for muffins. Also, if you love muffins as much as I do, you may want to get a mini-muffin tin, so you feel better about eating two or more at a time.

Rimmed Baking Pans

The large sizes are great for baking cookies, of course. I usually line the pan with unbleached parchment paper to remove the cookies easily, and to make wiping the pan clean a breeze. I also use the pans to dry freshly washed berries in the summertime. I place a kitchen towel on the pan, and spread out the berries on the towel to let them air dry on the counter before putting them in the fridge.

Salad Spinner

Besides my blender, this is probably my most used kitchen tool. Salad spinners help take away the pain (!) of washing and drying dark leafy greens. You can easily wash and spin-dry your greens without the mess, then store them in the refrigerator right in the spinner. Here’s my secret: I actually have two salad spinners. One I use to store my washed and cleaned kale for my daily salads. And the other I use to wash, dry, and store the other vegetables I eat during the week, including broccoli, collards, mustards, chard, and others.

Spiral Slicer

A spiral slicer (or spiralizer) is especially useful to help you eat more fresh vegetables during the summer months when there’s so much more fresh produce available. You can use the spiral slicer to make paper-thin slices of a variety of vegetables or spaghetti, like strands of zucchini and squash. You can also use it to julienne strips and half rounds of vegetables to easily add to salads, stir-fries, and soups or to dip in hummus or salsa.

Stainless Steel Bench Scraper or Pastry Scraper

I use these every day to scoop up anything that I’ve chopped into small pieces on a cutting board, including onions, garlic, apples…you name it.

Stainless Steel Tongs

In addition to using stainless steel tongs to toss salads, I use them to toss leafy greens, string beans, or bell peppers when I’m lightly sautéing them on the stove. I also use them to turn grilled tempeh or tofu in the oven. Be sure to get long tongs to handle these hot cooking tasks.


In addition to using a stainless steel teapot to make my favorite teas, I use it to quickly boil water for my morning oatmeal. I just pour the boiling water over dry rolled oats, chopped apples and walnuts, and cinnamon in a bowl, and cover the bowl with a flat glass plate for about 15 minutes – and done!


Stainless steel whisks are essential for stirring dry mixes when baking or when mixing together marinades. You can also use them to stir ingredients directly into a soup pot on the stove.


Cast-iron Skillet

I like using mine to back crusty cornbread in the oven, but they’re also great for cooking most anything that calls for a sauté pan. Plus, they last a long time, so if you’re only using it for vegan cooking, it’s a great family heirloom to pass on from one vegan to the next. 

Dutch Oven

An enameled dutch oven can be pricey, but they’re ideal to cook with because they evenly distribute heat, whether you’re sautéing or roasting veggies or simmering soups and stews. They also last a long time, which make them worth the investment.

Immersion Blender

A handheld immersion blender is a convenient, lightweight, and simple way to blend and mix ingredients directly in a bowl or hot soup pot, eliminating the extra steps needed to place ingredients in a standard mixer or blender. And they’re surprisingly affordable, which makes them even more appealing.

Mortar and Pestle

I just love the idea of having this age-old tool in my kitchen, whether I use it often or not. They’re great for grinding fresh spices, when you want to switch up from dried, store-bought varieties.

Stainless Steel Skewers

I like having these on hand in the summertime for making colorful fresh fruit kabobs or grilled veggie kabobs. They’re a great way to add fun and variety to summer cooking.

Vegetable Peeler

These make peeling the skin off fresh vegetables much faster and easier – for when you don’t want to use the old-school method of a knife in your hand.

When you’re using these kitchen tools, be sure to have designated counter space that’s cleared for food preparation. And be sure the appliances you use the most are easily accessible so you’re more likely use them.

Juice Or Smoothie: Which Is Better?

Before we dive into whether juices or smoothies are better, first let me say that whole, fresh fruits and vegetables are always best. They’re an essential part of a healthy vegan diet and you should strive to eat some every day.

With, that said, there are still good reasons to add juices or smoothies to your diet, including health goals, convenience, and variety. So let’s dive right into how they’re made, their pros and cons, and finally, the verdict.


Juicing is a process that extracts liquid from fresh fruits and vegetables. The liquid contains most of the phytonutrients (healthful plant chemicals), vitamins, and minerals from the whole fruit or vegetable. The liquid does not contain the fiber from the whole fruit or vegetable, which gets removed during juicing.


  • Drinking fresh juices allows nutrients to enter your body more quickly and in larger quantities, without having to expend additional energy digesting fiber.
  • If you’re doing a cleanse or detox, juices are typically what you’d consume for more rapid results.
  • Or if you’re experiencing acute or chronic digestive issues that require you to limit consumption of large amounts of fiber, then juices are your best bet.


  • The fact that juices enter your bloodstream more quickly because the fiber has been removed can cause a spike in blood sugar levels when the juice is from very sweet fruits, like watermelon, mangoes, and pineapples. (Cherries, grapefruits, and apples are better.)
  • This blood sugar spike is especially harmful for people with diabetes. It can also lead to fatigue, mental cloudiness, and irritability.
  • Juices tend to make you feel hungrier faster without the fiber to help you feel fuller longer.


Blending is a process that breaks down the fibers of fresh fruits and vegetables, resulting in a smooth consistency, while keeping in all of the fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.


  • Because smoothies contain fiber that has been broken apart, the fiber can be easier to digest.
  • The fiber also helps to slow down the absorption of nutrients into your bloodstream, which maintains steady blood sugar levels.
  • The fiber can help you feel fuller longer, which may help you eat less and lose weight.
  • Blending is typically easier and more convenient to do than juicing.


  • Consuming lots of fiber, even in the form of healthful smoothies, can be a problem for people with digestive issues.
  • Because of the fiber content, a cup of smoothie contains fewer fruits and veggies than a cup of juice. If you’re on a cleanse or detox or otherwise want to consume more fruits and veggies per cup, smoothies may not be your best bet.

So, which one is better?

In general, I recommend blending for daily or regular consumption, long-term health maintenance, and weight loss. And I recommend juicing for short-term cleansing and detoxifying, or just to add more variety to your repertoire.

So there you have it. Cheers to your good health!

Tracye’s Dailies: The Core Of What I Eat Each Day

After 35 years of being vegan, I know what to eat to maintain my health and vibrancy on a daily basis and for many more years to come — and it’s pretty straightforward. I strive to eat these central types of whole plant-based foods every day: fruits; vegetables; whole grains; and beans, nuts, and seeds. Creating my meals from these foods gives me unlimited ways to enjoy healthy, great-tasting dishes that meet all of my nutritional needs. 

How much of these core foods should you eat each day? Here’s what that might look like for a moderately active woman (exercising up to 30 minutes daily) eating an average of 2,000 calories a day.

FRUITS – 2 cups daily. 

One cup is about the same as a piece of whole fruit, like a banana, orange, apple, grapefruit, or pear. And for fresh or frozen berries, like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, a serving is about a half cup. For dried fruits, like raisins and dried apricots, it’s about a a quarter cup each day. So strive to eat both whole fruits and berries each day.

VEGETABLES – 3 cups daily. 

One cup is about the same as ten broccoli florets, twelve baby carrots, one large sweet potato, 1 cup of sliced beets, 1 cup of chopped zucchini, or 1 cup of sautéed collard greens. And 2 cups of raw, dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale, and dandelion greens, are considered the equivalent of 1 cup of vegetables. So strive to eat 2 cups of dark green leafy vegetables each day; a half cup of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower; and a half cup of additional veggies, like string beans, peas, okra, and corn.

WHOLE GRAINS – 1½ cups daily.

It’s pretty easy to eat a cup and a half of cooked oatmeal, black rice, quinoa, millet, or whole-grain pasta each day. One slice of whole-grain bread or one whole-grain tortilla is also the equivalent of ½ cup of whole grains. So eating just one sandwich gets you two-thirds of the way to your daily recommended intake.

BEANS, NUTS, AND SEEDS – 1½ cups of beans and ¼ cup of nuts daily.

Eating a cup of and a half of beans each day could include a hot bowl of soup made from lentils, black beans, or split peas. And almonds, walnuts or cashews can be tossed into a morning smoothie.

And of course, I also drink plenty of water – at least 6-8 cups each day.

So focus on eating these core foods each day, and maintaining a healthy vegan diet will soon become second nature to you, too.