Moonshadows Restaurant, 132 E. Main Street, Luray, VA 22835. Phone: 540-743-1911

We discovered Moonshadows Restaurant quite by accident as we strolled around Historic Downtown Luray, VA. (If you visit Luray Caverns, then treat yourself to spending some time exploring the quaint shops and delightful park along Main Street in Luray). Moonshadows has been lovingly restored, and has been awarded the Travelers’ Choice 2020 Best of the Best Award for good reason. Everything from the decor to the artwork, the staff and their unique menu says “quality upscale yet casual dining.” It was a sunny fall day, so because our little dog accompanied us, we couldn’t resist the tables available on Moonshadows’ inviting front porch. Arriving just ahead of the lunch crowd, we didn’t need a reservation, but soon after we were seated the place quickly filled up, and disappointed diners without reservations were being turned away. So, please make reservations ahead of your visit to be guaranteed a seat.

As soon as our order was placed we were pleasantly surprised when our tea appeared with complimentary blueberry scones. And, I must mention that I just love those placemats! Don’t you?

Moonshadows’ distinctive menu offers fresh locally grown recipes with options for every dietary preference. I ordered the Parsnip Black Bean Rosti (you have your choice of one or two) which is a pan-fried potato cake with black bean, parsnip risoto filling accented with herbs and spices along with seasonal vegetables and golden beet puree. My husband chose the Spanish Frittata Pie with a side Caesar Salad. Both dishes were delicious and came with a small fruit appetizer.

For dessert we shared the gluten-free flourless chocolate cake. I am sorry there is no photo, but trust me — it was delicious and large enough for two to share. You must save room for that treat!

Moonshadows is one restaurant that will stay on our list of places to visit when we’re in VA. Everything about our experience there was perfect, and unlike some meals you settle for when traveling, we felt we had eaten real, healthy, gourmet food. Prices are reasonable, servers pleasant and informative, setting casual and friendly. Don’t forget too call ahead for reservations!

To learn more about Mooonshadows please visit their website: http://www.moonshadowsonmain.com

Vegan Coconut Pumpkin Custard

It’s still pumpkin season, so here is another delectable fall recipe you will love. This one has all the flavor of pumpkin pie, but without the fat and calories contained in typical pie crust. I never eat the crust anyway because let’s face it — the filling is the best part, right? This custard is so rich and creamy, with slight caramel undertones, that it will surely become one of your fall favorites.

I used homemade pumpkin puree, not canned pumpkin, in this recipe. In Autumn I like to decorate inside and out with natural elements, so we usually have several pumpkins to sacrifice as we move toward Christmas. You probably do, too. I want to caution you, however — the typical Halloween jack-o-lantern pumpkin is not the one you want to use for this recipe (or any pumpkin pie or custard recipe). When the season is past, Halloween pumpkins are best left to feed the wild squirrels and bunnies. Those pumpkins simply don’t have enough pulp, color, or flavor to make a good pumpkin custard. Instead, Cinderella pumpkins are the best!

These are Cinderella Pumpkins, also called Storybook or Fairytale Pumpkins (think Cinderella’s coach).

And here is a link to video instructions on how to roast your Cinderella pumpkin: https://youtu.be/FApTV4FoQ58 After roasting the pumpkin, when it cools a bit, I puree it using either a stick blender or the countertop blender so the roasted pulp is free of any strings or lumps. This puree freezes well, so freeze extra two-cup portions to use in pumpkin recipes all year long.

COCONUT CUSTARD RECIPE (please read to the end before starting)

(Makes six 2/3 cup servings)

Ingredients:

One 13.5 oz. can full fat coconut milk

2 cups homemade pumpkin puree

1/2 – 3/4 cup organic sugar (to your taste)

Egg-Replacer* equal to 5 large eggs. (You can use Ener-G Egg Replacer or make your own)*

1/2 tsp. Himalayan pink salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

a pinch of ground cloves

About 1 Tbsp. cinnamon/sugar mixture to sprinkle on top

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray six 1-cup ovenproof custard cups with cooking spray.

With a mixer, whisk, or blender beat coconut milk, sugar, Egg-Replacer (Because homemade pumpkin puree is quite moist, do not add water. Use just the amount of powdered egg-replacer to equal 5 eggs), extract, and spices until well mixed. Pour into prepared custard cups. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Make a water bath by filling a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with 4 cups of hot water. Place each filled custard cup in the baking dish.

Carefully place the baking dish on the center rack in preheated oven, and bake 35 – 40 minutes. (It will look only semi-done, but custard will firm up completely as it cools). Transfer each cup to a wire rack to cool, then cover cups and regrigerate until serving.

Garnish with non-dairy whipped topping and/or a few raw pepitas.

*How to Make Your Own Powdered Egg Replacer:

2 1/2 cups potato starch (not potato flour)

1 1/2 cups organic Non-GMO cornstarch, or tapioca starch, or tapioca flour

2/3 cup aluminum-free baking powder

1/2 cup baking soda

Measure all ingredients into a bowl, and whisk together to mix. Store in a tightly covered jar, and use as needed.

This recipe makes the equivalent of 45 – 50 eggs and works best in baking and cooking recipes. (It does not perform well in meringues).

To use: 1/2 slightly rounded Tbsp. powder + 2 Tbsp. water = 1 egg

Pre-race Dinner Idea

Two of our daughters and daughter-in-law are running an early half-marathon race tomorrow. Tonight they wanted a light, but protein-packed dinner — something that would fuel their race, but not weigh them down. So, they put their heads together and came up with this beautiful plant-based veggie bowl.

Quinoa, marinated tofu, and spiced chickpeas provided the protein. The colorful veggies included: roasted squash and mushrooms, onions, pickled carrots, snow peas, avocado chunks, and grape tomatoes over a bed of crisp greens. A choice of light dressings completed this delicious veggie bowl.

I am so proud of my girls, not just for running, but for coming up with this much healthier pre-race meal, so different from the carb-loading pasta dinners I remember from their highschool days. This is a much healthier and satisfying meal.

PS: They all finished with good times. Shannon came in third in her class. (Could it have been the quinoa?) 😉

Please vote for Smashing Idols!

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but I need you to do just that. If you like the cover of my book, Smashing Idols: Transform Your Body, Mind, and Spirit with a Plant-Based Lifestyle, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!

I’m getting closer to clinch the “Cover of the Month” contest on AllAuthor! To do that I need as much support from you guys as you can offer. Please take a short moment to vote for my book cover here:

Click to Vote!

Thanks for voting!

SMASHING IDOLS: Transform Your Body, Mind, and Spirit with a Plant-Based Lifestyle

This book has lived in my heart for a long, long time, but now it is finally published! I am not going to review the book here because I have lived it for so many years (I might be a bit partial), but I hope you will take a look. I pray that readers will be blessed and changed by SMASHING IDOLS. You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B09G2KJ1M6.

Book Review: “Alaska Sourdough, The Real Stuff by a Real Alaskan,” revised edition, by Ruth Allman (forward by Addie Studebaker)

If you have ever thought about making your own sourdough bread, but were intimidated by the online instructions and videos detailing the complicated method involved in creating and keeping a living starter, then this is the book for you. I admit the whole process seemed daunting and mysterious to me. I really didn’t want my life to revolve around feeding a sourdough starter morning and evening for a whole month before even trying to bake bread. If you do some research you will discover that there are dozens of ways to create, and kill, a sourdough starter, and I wasn’t willing to take any chances after that investment of time and effort. This book is perfect for people like me — like you?

Alaska Sourdough, the Real Stuff by a Real Alaskan was first printed in 1976, but has recently been revised for the modern reader. I love the wisdom and charm of Ruth Allman’s notes and advice. She makes everything seem simple, and her common sense style of writing will convince you that yes, even you can bake your own sourdough bread. Throughout this book she intersperses the history of early Alaskan pioneers who depended on their sourdough starter to keep them alive through bone-chilling winters on the frozen tundra. These early pioneers were not expert chefs or bakers. They were in Alaska to homestead, find adventure, and hopefully strike it rich. They did not have the luxury of allowing their sourdough efforts to fail. Their very lives depended on the success of their sourdough, and the author is generous in sharing their many no-nonsense tips and tricks for success.

So, encouraged by their efforts, I dove in and made the starter using her potato water recipe. I expected to wait and feed the starter daily for at least one week before baking. Well, by the second day my starter had nearly doubled in size, and by the third day I had to bake, or it would have overflowed the quart jar where it was bubbling and brewing like a witch’s cauldron. The two loaves of bread I made on the third day came out great! I continued to feed the starter following the author’s simple instructions, and two days later used some to make delicious sourdough hotcakes for three hungry adults. All this in less than one week! I have plans for more bread and sourdough pretzels in the near future. If I can do this, you can, too. I highly recommend Alaska Sourdough, the Real Stuff by a Real Alaskan, by Ruth Allman, and wish you much success on your bread baking adventure!

My sourdough starter on day 2. (The rubberband marks the starting point on day 1). On day 3 it was definitely time to bake!

August Zucchini Casserole

If you garden, you are probably up to your eyeballs in summer produce by now. We currently don’t have room for a garden where we live, and I do miss growing my own veggies. There is just something so primal about digging in the warm earth and nurturing your own nutrition to life. I guess you can take the girl out of the garden, but you can’t take the garden out of the girl! Fortunately, we have generous friends that are willing to share their bounty with us. Thanks Mary and Rohn! And, that’s how this simple and economical recipe was born.

Ingredients:

2 – 3 zucchini, thinly sliced

2 – 3 peppers (red or green), diced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 – 3 large tomatoes, diced (include the juice)

1 – 15 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup shredded veggie cheese of your choice

Herbamare for seasoning

Vegan parmesan and Italian herbs (garlic, basil, oregano) for topping

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Use a 13 x 9 inch glass casserole dish. Spread about 1 Tbsp olive oil in the bottom of the dish.

Layer one half of the zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and all the chickpeas.

Season with Italian herbs and Herbamare

Spread shredded veggie cheese over all.

Then layer the remaining half of the zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes and a final layer of zucchini.

Drizzle some olive oil over top, just a tablespoon or two (or you can spray some over the top)

Season with Italian herbs, Herbamare, and veggie parmesan. (You can make your own with this recipe: Vegan “Parmesan Cheese”)

Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 1-1/4 hours.

The Greenhouse Cafe, 18 State Hill Rd. Wyomissing, PA 19610, Phone: (484)509-2121

We visited The Greenhouse Cafe in Wyomissing, PA last weekend. What an enjoyable experience! It isn’t often you find a restaurant where all the food is plant-based, so we were in breakfast heaven when we saw their menu. The friendly staff will greet you with a warm welcome and offer to answer any questions you may have. Have any special dietary requirements? Eating gluten-free? They will try to accommodate your request.

We both chose the Tofu Scramble, which came with a side of breakfast potatoes, because we were so hungry. (I apologize for digging in before taking the photo, a very bad habit of mine). This hearty Tofu Scramble will fill you up with no cholesterol to sabotage your diet.

Hot or iced, a non-dairy Matcha Tea Latte is my favorite breakfast drink, because it’s a delicious way to start the day with healthy greens. This matcha latte did not disappoint, and the guilt-free caffeine kick was just what I needed to face the long drive home that morning.

The Greenhouse Cafe offers a casual, relaxed atmosphere. You may choose to dine inside in airconditioned comfort, or outside on the sunny patio (pet friendly). They are open for breakfast and lunch 8 AM – 3 PM most days, close at 6 PM on Wednesday and Friday (closed Monday). You will notice and appreciate the effort that has been put into making sure this cafe truly is green in every way. Food is healthy and prices are reasonable.

To learn more about The Greenhouse Cafe, view their full menu and more photos, please visit them online: http://www.thegreenhousecafepa.com

Another Reason to Love Animals!

Did you know that according to a study following over 1 million children over the first 10 years of their life, children living with dogs, or on a farm, have a 54 percent lower chance of developing asthma over children without animal exposure? These amazing results were published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2015. The theory is that exposure to a varied population of animal microbes in the home may somehow influence the gut microbiome, and change human immune response in the airways.

What a fun way to combat allergies!

Veggie Quinoa Casserole (serves two)

If you have never tried quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”), here are some things to consider:

Quinoa is one of the least allergenic grains. It contains 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, and it is a plant protein source of all 9 essential amino acids. Technically a seed, quinoa is nutritionally dense and gluten free. It is an excellent grain substitute for anyone suffering with celiac disease. In addition, the fiber in quinoa acts as a prebiotic by providing food for your beneficial gut flora. If you have a sensitive tummy or live with an inflammatory digestive condition like colitis, you know how important all these factors are to your diet and comfort.

This Veggie Quinoa Casserole is an easy protein-packed main dish that will satisfy even a meat-eater. The recipe serves 2, but I tripled it because I knew people would want seconds.

Ingredients:

1 cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

2 tsp. olive oil

2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup diced firm tofu (press to drain)

1/4 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

Directions:

Place uncooked quinoa in a sieve and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Drain.

Press tofu between two paper towel-lined plates with a heavy can of something on top to drain for about 1/2 hour.

  • In a medium sauce pan, bring 1 cup vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in drained quinoa and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • While quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, broccoli florets, and tofu cubes. Stir for one minute, then cover and steam over low heat for two minutes.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup vegetable broth, mushrooms, and spinach. Cover and cook over medium heat until the mushrooms are soft and the spinach is wilted (about 3 minutes).
  • Stir the vegetable/tofu mixture into the cooked quinoa. Cover, and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Season with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos if desired.