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Decadent Desserts with Hidden Leafy Greens

“Greens for what?! Dessert? No!!”

Okay… You get the idea of a green smoothie for breakfast or a veggie stirfry for dinner. But, now you’re wondering why anyone would want to put leaves in their dessert?! LOL. Can’t a sweet treat just be left to its own guilty devices? Well, if you’ve never had an authentic green smoothie, I can understand why you struggle with the idea of sweet treats that include dark-green leafy vegetables. But, once you’ve enjoyed the dreamy, creamy blends – especially with frozen fruit, like mangoes – you could easily begin to rethink ‘dessert’. In fact, my book Jamaican Green Smoothies includes more than 8 different dessert recipes for feeding those cravings we often have for something sweet – especially on the weekend.

But, what kinds of dishes can we hide the greens in? You’d be amazed.

From frozen novelties to cakes and cookies. We can pack nutrition behind optimum flavour and decadent textures all the time. The following recipes are just the beginning.


Ice Cream

Everyone’s favourite dessert is cold, sweet and creamy. Best on a hot day, but still enjoyed when the days are cold. This might be the perfect way to get your family to ‘eat up their greens’, and if you avoid refined sweeteners you could serve this up often without the guilt. While a bright green hue works well for many people, in some cases, richly coloured fruit like raspberries may be essential to get other folk to be intrigued by licking leaf-filled ice cream.

Oh! For those of us who want to avoid dairy completely, coconut milk and tofu are great substitutes for the cow’s milk and yogurt in many recipes.

Creamy Avocado Ice Cream

Creamy Avocado Ice Cream



Cheese Cake

I’ve had an assortment of plantbased cheesecakes, including my sister’s cashew-based richness and even my personal specialty – which I have dubbed a “Teesecake” since I use tofu to make it. But, things get really potent when we can slip in some kale or callaloo leaves into these addictive bites. Not to mention when you don’t need an oven to pull this off! The recipe linked below might become your favourite raw food recipe to show off to your friends and loved ones.

Raw Sweet Kale Cheesecake

Raw Sweet Kale Cheesecake


A cross between a cake and a cookie, brownies are moist, chewy bars that should not be left in a room with a chocoholic. They have also been used to ‘hide’ vegetable matter for a long time now 😉 But, today I’m recommending you hide a different set of dark-green leaves in your brownies! Whether spinach or red leaf lettuce, you can add some greens to these sweet treats without worrying about hallucinations or sirens with flashing blue and red lights. LOL.

I can already imagine eating one of these babies, warm and toasty, with a frosty scoop of the Creamy Avocado Ice Cream linked above. *wipes away drool*

Kale Brownies

Kale Brownies

Freezer Pops

Another sweet treat that’s featured in my book and quite popular with the kiddies, would be freezer pops, ice lollies or icicles (as we call them in Jamaica). You can pour your favourite green smoothie or green ice cream blend into molds and enjoy them once they’re frozen. This way, when you or your little ones have a frozen novelty you can feel confident that it’s a nourishing treat and that you’re not filling up on refined sugar or artificial colours. If the green colour is not so appealing to your little ones, you could always add a fruit with strong pigment, like blueberries, raspberries or deep-purple otaheite apples.

Green Monster Ice Pops

Green Monster Ice Pops


Blueberry Kale Pops

Blueberry Kale Pops




Both of these recipes are easy! You can go hard and make your own pie crust or use a pre-made shell, but the soul of this pie will be all your doing. The best part? You make it all in your blender! How hard can that be? You can make a whole pie or use a muffin pan and make mini pies to impress your dinner guests or let your children go crazy after dinner is cleared away. If you prefer a less tart, more sweet version just add less lime juice and more of your favourite natural sweetener.

Vegan Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie


Vegan Key Lime Pie Bites

Key Lime Pie Bites


So, what are you waiting for, get into the kitchen! Your sweet tooth is waiting.

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Greens For Dinner 

Have you ever considered drinking a gallon (3 litres) of green smoothies a day? How about a salad filled with a pound of dark-green leaves? LOL. I figured!

Yes, dark-green leafy vegetables are an essential part of a vibrant diet, but there must be other ways of consuming our leafies without going all in on the liquids or chewing for 1 straight hour. As an effortless fix, I recommend incorporating dark-green leafy vegetables into your favourite dinner dishes and adding new greens-heavy dishes to your regular evening fare. I find these to be two of the best ways to maintain a greens-based diet: adding greens to regular dishes and trying new dishes that have lots of greens.

In my mind, it is a simple fix. Afterall, I’ve spent so much of my life collecting recipe books, watching cooking shows on TV, making playlists of recipe videos on YouTube or filling up recipe boards on Pinterest. (Please tell me you do things like this, too. LOL) Well, just in case you’ve been busy doing more important things – like ending civil wars or providing potable water to displaced communities 😉 – I’ve compiled a quick list of scrumptious, vibrant eats for you to add to your usual cooking routine.



Long before we had a flag, reggae music or top class athletes, Jamaicans had Pepperpot Soup. One of the classic Taino dishes that we still enjoy today, the spicy brew is full of leaves, like Callaloo, making a hearty and warm bowl of flavour. This is my favourite thing to have my brother, the chef, make for me.

Pepperpot Soup Recipe


Yes! It’s possible to make a quiche without any eggs. It’s also possible to whip one up into individual servings: with the magical utensil called a ‘muffin pan’. If you don’t have a latex or other nonstick baking pan, you can always use cupcake liners inside a regular muffin pan to prevent your mini quiches from falling apart. They are great for fancy dinner parties, potlucks or packing into lunch boxes.

Mini Quiche Recipe




Chinese food and I go way back. I’ve gone to extreme lengths to enjoy the stuff and really appreciate the many ways this cuisine incorporates vegetables into various dishes. Chowmein is a simple stirfry of veggies and noodles and once you make your first batch, you’ll find yourself keeping noodles in the cupboard for a rush-rush day. Unlike most people, you don’t have to use green cabbage or Chinese cabbge everytime. Many dark-green leafy veggies will combine well to produce and excellent meal. You won’t miss any texture of flavour once you do it well.

Vegetable Chowmein Recipe



This Italian open-faced pie has become an international fun, easy-to-access food. I like to store pre-made crusts in my freezer, but you can easily make one from scratch in a little time. But, if you decide to order from your local pizza shop, you can always request the toppings you love. (Tip: the super-thin crust turns to ‘cinder’ if you don’t add cheese. But, regular crusts will be fine with just sauce and your favourite toppings.)

The highlight of this pizza is the Spinach Pesto used in place of the traditional tomato sauce. But the genius for me, comes in the form of the Cashew Ricotta. I love making tofu ricotta for my lasagna, but I’m a bigger fan of my sister’s Cashew Cheese dips and sauces. So, a Cashew Ricotta is awesome – especially for my peeps who stay away from tofu.

Spinach Pesto & Cashew Ricotta Pizza Recipe



Just because I have fond memories of making, ordering, and eating pizza as a child, I’m giving you a second recipe for this category. What I specially love about this pizza is that once it comes out of the oven, it’s topped with (fresh / raw)  uncooked leafy greens and other vegetables. Isn’t it beautiful?! It ‘s quite the treat for anyone who loves Mexican flavours.

Taco Pizza Recipe




I was probably in Primary School, the first time I saw lasagna being served was on TV. I promptly asked my mother to make it and grew up enjoying it at least once a year – usually at some big fancy dinner. But, once I started banging the pots around in my own kitchen, I found out how to make various versions of this one of a kind dish. A well-made tofu ricotta or cashew cheese sauce can easily substitute dairy cheeses and satisfy the biggest lasagna fan.

Spinach Lasagna Recipe




Plain pasta, usually spaghetti, is in regular rotation for my family. Usually because it works as a quick meal you can put together in 10 minutes or less. But, to kill the boredom that comes with traditional tomato sauces, the Spinach Pesto stars the show. Pastas like linguine are a great choice for offering variety to your palate without losing out on flavour nor simplicity.

Linguine with Spinach-Lemon Pesto Recipe


What other greens-heavy dishes have you been enjoying?



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5 Easy Dishes Packed With Greens For a Tasty Breakfast 

The healthy eating guidelines published around the world will tell you that you need to get 3-6 servings of raw and cooked veggies everyday. Dark-green leafy vegetables need to fill up most of that vegetable quota and a lunchtime salad is surely not enough. So, if your aim is to eat (or drink) at least 3 servings of leafy greens every day, it might be a good idea to include 1 serving in each of your main meals throughout the day. But, does that mean you’re stuck having salads for breakfast? If you love a big salad, then sure it’s fine. But if you’re looking for quick, easy and flavour-packed, the question won’t sit so easily with you.

I know. You haven’t really thought of more than a couple simple and tasty recipes that you an rely on for getting your greens in at breakfast time. But, don’t worry. I did the thinking for you 😉

If you flip through your best recipe books, you might be surprised to see all the different ways that dark-green leafy vegetables can become the star of your morning plate or shine as the perfect compliment to your usual favourites. Whenever you decide to try them out, you will certainly do a much better job of eating/drinking up your daily nutritional requirement just by adding a serving of leafy greens to your breakfast plate.

Below you will find 5 different kinds of dishes (with recipes in the links) that you can put into rotation for breakfast and easily increase the amount of leafy greens you consume everyday:


Steamed Callaloo
Steamed Callaloo

My favourite way to have greens on my plate, is in a stirfry, and most Jamaicans grew up eating ‘steamed’ Callaloo, Cabbage or Pakchoy for breakfast. My mother had filled half the backyard with callaloo, sprouting new leaves all year long, to ensure that we fed on those leaves, for what seemed like every Sunday morning. While some persons assume that salted codfish is Callaloo’s bestfriend, I have been eating my stirfried greens for years and prefer to combine it with other vegetables, like carrots, mushrooms, and various peas and beans. With the right herbs, spices and sauces, you won’t miss a thing!



Tofu Scramble Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast Burrito

I love wraps! All flatbreads count. Roti, tortillas, pita bread and of course, bammy (wafers). Mostly populare at lunchtime, wraps are great for breakfast because you can drop them in your handbag and head on the road without worrying about missing the most important meal of the day. To save time, you can always make them the night before, seal them up in plastic wrap and eat them chilled or reheated in the morning. You can fill them with leftovers from your green veggie stirfry dinner or fill them up with Romaine Lettuce topped with scrambled tofu or your favourite beans.



Double Chocolate Spinach Muffin

Double Chocolate Spinach Muffins

Some people don’t mind the green colour of Popeye Muffins, but if you are not yet comfy with the grassy hue, you can add chocolate to your recipe for a ‘secret’ healthy muffin. Your children and friends won’t notice the difference when you sneak in leafy greens into the sweet treats. Muffins are a great on those mornings when you are strapped for time, because they can be made ahead, frozen and reheated in the toaster oven for a wholesome breakfast bite that you can enjoy on-the-go. Perfect if you like meal planning and freezer meals, you can enjoy variations like Blueberry Kale or Banana Spinach.



Tofu Omelette

Tofu Omelette with Spinach & Mushrooms

That one summer holiday after I learnt egg cookery in my high school Food & Nutrition class. LOL. I went through my mother’s tray (yes, 24 eggs) in about 2 weeks! I made every version of scrambled eggs and style of omelette I could dream up. By September, I couldn’t stand the scent of eggs! But, I still love scrambling and folding fluffy batters filled with different chopped up goodies. Whether you choose to use tofu or chickpea flour to make your omelettes, you should try to sauté your favourite greens and fold them inside. Stuff your omelettes until they pop open or sprinkle in the leaves along with other veggies – either way, you are guaranteed a hearty start to your day.



Mango & Baby Bok Choy Smoothie

Mango & Baby Bok Choy Smoothie

You really didn’t think I would end this list without including a smoothie, did you? LOL.

The quickest, easiest and probably tastiest way to pack in a huge amount of dark-green leafy vegetables for breakfast is with your blender. With smoothies, the greens are liquefied, so they are absorbed much quicker than if you were to chew them; and the ‘bushy’ flavour gets masked by the sweetness of the season’s best sunripened fruit. So, if you haven’t started, it’s time to get blending. Then, when you find a really good recipe (the kind you think you should drink every single day), just be sure to rotate your greens. Don’t be afraid to try different leaves in your blends from time to time. The same fruits that work with the baby bok choy will go just as well with the watercress or the arugula.


Plan For Your New Eating Habits

While, you may be inspired to try any of these dishes, habits are hard to develop and even harder to break. So, plan ahead to ensure you keep your kitchen stocked with leafy greens, then decide which dishes you’ll make throughout the week to keep yourself focused.


Which of these will you try today?

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6 Healthy Eating Hacks For When You Don’t Want to Give Up Meat & Dairy

When you sit down to a plate of food, the first thing on your mind is whether or not it tastes good. Ofcourse you know that your food choices make a difference in your health and appearance. But, not everyone can follow a raw food, vegan or even, vegetarian diet. You love good food and you like to eat whatever you want. You keep wondering why some people keep telling you to abandon your tastebuds and give up all the foods you enjoy eating. After all, not everyone can follow a raw food, vegan or even, vegetarian diet! 

While I don’t miss eating meat nor dairy, I know that many of my loved ones feel like they can’t survive a day without stuff like chicken, fish or cheese. I still hear the comments and get the emails, “I want to start eating healthy, but I don’t think the food tastes good without the meat.” What you really mean when you say that sort of thing is, “I can’t be bothered with learning to make any new dishes or trying out new options on the restaurant menu. Don’t you know any way for me to get around the ‘change your diet’ thing?” (My response to the ‘making plants taste great’ challenge is quite simple, but that answer is for another topic, on another day.) So, can you get around changing your diet, while reaping the health benefits?

Yes and no. You don’t need to give up your favourite meat and dairy dishes and become a vegetarian. But, you will need to eat a whole lot more leafy green vegetables than you’re used to.

The earth isn’t half green for no reason! You were meant to eat greens. In fact, half of your plate at mealtime and at least half of what you eat daily from the plant world should be green.
Greens are the life force of the vegetable kingdom. Green leafy vegetables like kale, collards, Swiss chard, and spinach carry with them all the nutrients you need to thrive.  

from “Appreciate the Power of Greens in a Plant-Based Diet” in Plant-Based Diet For Dummies by Marni Wasserman)

Dark-green, leafy vegetables are the one food I tell myself that I must consume every day, and the one food I recommend to others to base their diet on. The colour green represents life, renewal, nature, life, growth and freshness – all things we need to be healthy, yet greens are often the dish we kotch onto the side of a scanty plate or resort to when the cashflow is low. However, as Wasserman points out, greens are our life force!

Whether you are a staunch raw vegan or a junkfood addict, eating more greens is the best thing you can do for your health. In fact, most vegetarians and vegans don’t consume enough dark-green leafy vegetables. Instead, their diet is heavy in starch foods like rice, bread and pasta. While whole grains are an essential part of balanced diet, they shouldn’t be the main part of the diet. Ever wonder why many of the popular weightloss programmes encourage ‘no carbs’ and leave you eating ‘lean protein and salads’? Since they often limit the amount of lean protein you eat at each meal, you’re left filling up on the vegetables from the salads and the high intake of greens ultimately proves itself by melting the excess fat, boosting your immunity, supercharging your energy supply and giving you glowing skin.


So, how do you eat more greens? Sneak them into your regular eating routine! 

A lot of the foods we already eat can be modified to include dark green leafy vegetables without compromising on taste. Here are 6 different types of meals that you can sneak leafy greens into for maximum nutrition:Juices & Smoothies

1. Smoothies & Juices

Whether you are on #TeamBlender or #TeamJuicer, liquefying your greens is one of the most efficient methods of consuming dark-green leafy vegetables in large quantities. The best part, for me at least, is the option we have of combining the greens with our favourite sun-riped fruit for a sweet beverage that almost always tastes better than it looks.
Soups & Stews

2. Sides & Salad

From Callaloo Rice to Garden Salads, the side dishes we pile onto our plates don’t need to be starch-heaven. We can green them up with our favourite leaves, adding nourishment, texture and colour. Your macaroni salad is not off-limits either. Just saute your greens and mix it in. Of course, for vegetable salads, you should “Go Large” and “Go Hard” with the greens. The darker the green of the leaves, the better.

3. Stir-fries

This is my 2nd favourite way to have my leafy greens. In fact, stirfried or sautéed greens end up on my family’s daily menu at least once a day. You can have the greens all by themselves, lightly seasoned with your favourite herbs and aromatics (e.g. garlic, onion, escallion), or toss various non-leafy veggies in the mix with your favourite sauce. I love stirfries because they can be served for any meal of the day.

4. Sandwiches 

Not everyone loves to eat their ‘main dish’ in between two slices of bread, but there are other ways to enjoy your greens aside from the traditional loaf squares. Warm roti skins or other flatbreads are an excellent alternative to the regular ‘harddough’ bread. Using tortillas and pitas, you can stuff lots of greens into your burritos, tacos, falafel pockets. Of course, there are open face sandwiches, so we can enjoy our leafy toppings on servings of bammy or crackers, too.

5. Sweet Treats

Smart mothers around the world have found innovative ways of sneaking veggies into treats their children enjoy for centuries. But, now you can do it for yourself knowg the benefits of an Otaheite Apple & Romaine Lettuce Icicle (Freezer Pop) or Blueberry-Kale Ice Cream. You can find recipes for cookies, muffins and even key lime pies that have been infiltrated by hearty servings of dark-green leafy vegetables. Sometimes the greens help to colour the desserts and sometimes they go undetected.

6. Soups & Stews

Ital stew is not just for peas and beans, toss in some shredded greens in the last few minutes of cooking, for a powerful dose of energy and immunity. Any stew that you set to simmer is worth the upgrade of leafy greens, so don’t be afraid to include them. The traditional Jamaican pepperpot soup is an excellent way of sipping on some warm greens, but you don’t need to limit your soup-and-greens pleasure to that age-old dish. Just like the stews, you can toss in a handful of edible leaves towards the end of your soup pot’s boiling time or make it a main star alongside other key ingredients in your soup.

The reality is that just by increasing the amount of leafy greens in your diet, you are guaranteed a health boost. Unlike other elements of the modern diet, whole (unrefined) vegetables don’t harm us when consumed frequently and in large quantities. They only restore our bodies’ immune systems to optimum performance and give us steady supplies of high energy and mental clarity. So, today is the day to make greens the foundation on which you build the rest of your diet – whatever your diet may be. After all, the earth isn’t half green for no reason 😉

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    The 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge

    Everyone wants to have a high quality life! We want to be free from illness, full of energy, have radiant hair, skin and nails, and maintain a fit body with an ideal weight. But, for many persons, the thought of reducing or eliminating certain foods from their diet (like refined sugars, refined flours, salt, saturated fat, chemical preservatives, animal flesh, dairy, etc.) is just unimaginable. They feel like they can’t do without these ‘dietary norms’, but still want to be healthier. But, whatever your aim is – weight-loss, glowing skin, improved digestion, extra energy, mental clarity, a detox or optimal nutritional intake – green smoothies are the answer! Nope, I’m not joking. In fact, I’m challenging you to start a daily habit of drinking green smoothies. Yes, for the month of July, I will being doing it and you should join me. My long-time friend, Cheryl, and I are taking on this 30-day challenge.


    The 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge, which is being hosted by Jadah & Jen of Simple Green Smoothies from 1-30 July 2013, is right around the corner and you need to jump on-board! The primary objective of this challenge is for us to drink a 2-cup serving green smoothie each day, for 30 days, in addition to our regular diets. No reduction or elimination of anything! Easy, right?! So, you just keep eating your regular food (healthy or otherwise – LOL) and drink a smoothie everyday. However, if your aim is weight-loss, you may choose to use the green smoothie to replace a meal or two.


    So, tomorrow (Thursday June 27) the first shopping list will be sent out (and one will be sent out each Thursday)! Remember that this information should be used just as a guide and for inspiration. It’s not supposed to overwhelm you. If you take a quick look back at the last blog post I made about Jamaican Green Smoothies, you will see that we have easy to find leafy greens in Jamaica that you can use if you have difficulties finding some ingredients like swiss chard or dandelion greens. So, this would be a good time to stock up on some Callaloo, Pakchoy, Cabbage, Lettuce, Chinese Cabbage, Celery, Spinach and Indian Kale. It’s key to remember that you should rotate your leafy greens, and that you should experiment and try out new recipes on your own. In fact, if you are adventurous, you may even want to try other, not-so-popular edible leaves from the plants of the dasheen, yam, sweet potato, pumpkin or the pawpaw.


    For this 30-day challenge, we want to team up to start a daily green smoothie habit and use this new habit to change our lifestyle – one cup at a time! Wouldn’t it be great to see all the transformation pictures and stories on Augus’ Maanin?! Now, if you’re still timid and hesitant, they have posted a FAQ page where they deal with all the basics for green smoothie beginners and explain the ‘terms & conditions’ of the challenge. Some of you may want to read that first to feel comfortable that you can handle this challenge 🙂 When you’re done, please go to this link to get signed up:


    So, what will you need? Between today and Sunday (June 30), please try to get (if you don’t already have them):

    1. Blender – to make the green smoothies in, any type is fine.
    2. Travel cup/mug/jar – to take your green smoothies with you wherever you go.
    3. Leafy greens – the more variety you use, the better.
    4. Fruits – both fresh and frozen can be used.
    5. Water – or any other healthy liquid like coconut water, almond milk or mint tea.

    It’s as easy as blend, pour, drink!

    If for any reason, you sign up after the challenge has started, you will still be able to have links to access past shopping lists (for the duration of the challenge). Please remember to share your daily green smoothies – pics, recipes, your feelings, anything – on your personal Facebook profile and on the Didan Ashanta Facebook page.


    Let’s take on this challenge to jump-start a healthy lifestyle – “one cup at a time”.