Nutrition as Medicine

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Spreads and Dips

Asian Ginger Sauce*

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A versatile sauce shown here with 'The Best Tofu You Ever Had.' It's thickened with corn starch, (which can be adjusted or omitted). 


2 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce

1 TBSP rice vinegar

1 tablespoon rice wine or Mirin

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 TBSP cornstarch

Several TBSP water


Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil while stirring and cook and stir until thickened. The sauce will thicken into a jelly-like consistency. Adjust the water to desired consistency.



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Hummus Variations*

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Make hummus.  Then make it three times a week so you’ll always have it on hand.  Freeze some.   

Compared to traditional hummus, this is much lower in fat because it uses less tahini.  You can make it even lower in fat by using “low-fat tahini” which is just as easy to get out of the jar as the regular variety.  Steer clear of the store-bought hummus which has a lot of added oil, and also too much tahini.

I have this most often as a sandwich on toast with sliced sweet onion or tomato.  It's unbelievably quick, and unbelievably delicious.  The tomato or onion slice does something magic, for example if your hummus isn't exciting enough by itself (like if you left out the tahini in a noble attempt to avoid fat). There's something about the onion or tomato that makes it taste great no matter what.  (The principle that food tastes better in combinations). 

Basic hummus with a small amount of tahini tastes great by itself, but without the tahini, it's a little bland.  Exceptions to this rule are olive hummus and pepperoncini hummus which are so flavorful (and salty!) that you could actually omit the tahini if you wanted to.  Basil and cilantro are also exciting additions, but they still need a little tahihummus_bowl_exp.jpgni with them.  (Unless you're having them with tomato or onion, like I mentioned).

See the essential recipe, a favorite, for toasted hummus tortillas, or even healthier, roll some in a blanched leaf of collard greens.  Plop a pile next to your stir fry or salad, like a side-dish.  Or serve it as a dip, sprinkled with paprika for looks.

If you're adding a salty ingredient, of course you don't need salt.  With tomato or onion in a sandwich, you probably won't need salt. Otherwise, a little salt may be welcome, especially for beginners who have not yet learned to love the taste of real food. 


  • Two 15-oz cans of chick peas, drained & rinsed (or 3 cups of cooked chick peas = approximately 18 oz. by weight). If you start ahead of time with dried chick peas, you would soak them for at least 4 – 5 hours, then either boil for about 40  minutes until tender – or pressure-cook for 8 minutes). 
  • 6 TBSP (or up to one-half cup) of lemon juice. 
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder   (or 2.5 Tablespoons sliced fresh garlic).  We just use the powder; it's fine.
  • 2 TBSP of low-fat tahini, (or regular tahini = sesame seed paste, available in the supermarket)
  • Optional:  ¼ - 3/8th teaspoon powdered cayenne / red pepper.  (The 3/8th is quite spicy).
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired (optional).  (The Engine 2 recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of tamari or soy sauce instead)


Blend ingredients in a food-processor until smooth.   If more liquid is needed, add water.  (If too thin, it will firm-up in the fridge). 



(You should never make a single recipe unless you're showing off multiple variations as in the above photo).

  • One 15-oz can of chick peas, drained & rinsed (or 1.5 cups of cooked chick-peas)
  • 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder or 1 TBSP of chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 TBSP of low fat tahini or regular tahini
  • Optional:  1/8 teaspoon powdered cayenne / red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, if desired (optional), or 1 teaspoon of tamari or soy sauce.



1/2 - 1 cup of fresh basil leaves OR
1/2 - 1 cup of fresh cilantro     OR
1/2 cup of pitted Kalamati olives  OR
Several pepperoncini peppers (see photo), with stem removed.

Note that pepperoncinis taste out of this world in hummus for some reason, probably from all that salt.  You probably recognize them as salad peppers, see the photo:

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Low-Fat Tahini*

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Tahini (sesame seed paste) is the basis for many terrific spreads and dressings and is readily available in supermarkets. Unlike oils, it's not a processed food; it's just ground up sesame seeds.  (Make sure your brand includes no added oils).  But it's naturally high in fat like other seeds & nuts. (For that reason, some healthy hummus recipes omit tahini, even though that compromises the taste quite a bit).

Buy tahini in a jar where you can see that the oil has separated and risen to the top.   Normally you would have to stir the oil back in.

Pour the oil down the drain.  Then transfer tahini to a bowl big enough to stir it up.  Add water until it's creamy.  This takes a lot of stirring (the same as if you were stirring the oil back in).   What you now have is Low Fat Tahini; you've just removed the great majority of fat & calories.

Low-fat tahini mixed with either lemon juice or vinegar makes the best low-fat salad dressing IMO, especially with garlic powder, pepper, dried dill weed, and maybe salt.  On this website, tahini is used Lemon Tahini Dressing and of course hummus.  (Tip: if adding tahini to a salad dressing, use a jar with a lid - it's much easier to mix by shaking the jar). 

The low-fat version of tahini doesn't keep well in the fridge.  (Ordinary tachini keeps a very long time even unrefrigerated).  I divide mine into small containers kept in the freezer.  When I need tahini I defrost it in the microwave for a few seconds, then return the unused portion back to the freezer.



 The oil from a jar of hummus!



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Pizza Hummus

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contributed by Sharon McRae, 

3 cups freshly cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)

¾-1 cup water, adjusted for desired thickness

2 cloves garlic

Handful of sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)

Chunk of red onion

4 Tbs nutritional yeast

½ tsp dried oregano

1 Tbs dried basil

Puree in food processor or high speed blender;  serve over greens/salad,  in a 
collard green leaf as a roll up, or over brown rice cakes.  I have also used 
this to top Ezekiel Sprouted Grain English Muffins, then topped with tomato 
sauce and spinach, baked at 350o for about 10-15 minutes and it tastes like

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Fiesta Black Bean Dip

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originally from The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook by John and Mary McDougall

Two 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
12 ounces fresh salsa, slightly drained
Two tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 cup parsley, minced

Mix all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 4 minutes. Stir and serve with (optional) baked fat-free tortilla chips.

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