Asian Sesame Noodle Salad

This vegan, gluten-free version of Asian Sesame Noodle Salad with Almond Butter Dressing is the perfect dish to celebrate spring! 

This Asian Sesame Noodle Salad with Almond Butter Dressing is the perfect dish to celebrate spring! It's vegan and gluten-free made with black bean noodles, fresh asparagus and beautiful purple cabbage.

This lightened-up version of Asian Sesame Salad is dear to my heart. It played a starring role in my life during the summer of 2004…the summer when my husband and I started dating. We ate so much of this Asian Sesame Noodle Salad we had to break up with it, literally. You can read more about our love affair with this noodle salad and get the recipe hereI’ve been recreating it for years using different types of noodles but never found a good replacement. I think this recipe comes pretty close!

This Asian Sesame Noodle Salad with Almond Butter Dressing is the perfect dish to celebrate spring! It's vegan and gluten-free made with black bean noodles, fresh asparagus and beautiful purple cabbage.   #cleaneating

I’ve tried using kelp and zucchini noodles but these Explore Asian black bean noodles might just be the best iteration thus far. I love that they’re dense enough to hold up to the almond butter dressing, which really is the key. I created this version for my Inspired Vegetarian Column on Healthy Aperture, a site where you can search for healthy recipes (which also happen to be quite pretty). I modeled the recipe after a similar salad made with thick and delicious udon noodles. Udon is great, but it’s super dense and very high in calories. You can’t eat too much of it, as me and my husband found out the hard way.

This Asian Sesame Noodle Salad with Almond Butter Dressing is the perfect dish to celebrate spring! It's vegan and gluten-free made with black bean noodles, fresh asparagus and beautiful purple cabbage.   #clean #vegan @glutenfree

This salad is the perfect way to ring in the spring here in DC, but I’ve also brought it to many an outdoor summer potluck. I hope you’ll try it! Click here to Healthy Aperture for the recipe!

11 Delicious ways to use miso paste

11 Ways to Use Miso Paste

When I recommend miso paste to my clients they usually think I’m talking about miso soup, a light broth containing a few cubes of tofu and some seaweed. Miso soup is delicious, it’s very warming and the perfect pre-sushi appetizer, but there is so much more to miso than just soup!

What is miso? It’s a semi-thick paste that’s made by fermenting cooked soybeans with a starter called a “malt.” The malt is made mostly by a bacteria called aspergillus, which is cultured on the surface of soybeans, rice, or barley grains. If you’ve never seen it before, this is what miso paste looks like:

This is what miso paste looks like. Learn how to use it in recipes in this post!


There are many types of miso (soybeans are the base, but some also include barley or rice) as well different colors and varieties. Miso can be white, yellow, dark brown, or red. The flavor depends upon the region it was made; it will be salty and dark-colored in colder regions and it will be clear, light and a little sweet in warmer areas. Kome miso is the most common type made in Japan.

These are the different regions where miso paste is cultivated

You can find the best selection at an Asian grocery store…in fact, there are so many choices it is easy to get a little overwhelmed. If shopping at a regular grocery store (I’ve seen it at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s) you probably won’t have nearly the variety. You actually might only have one choice.

So you might be wondering why should I eat miso paste? Well for one, it’s so tasty! It provides that distinct umami flavor you love in traditional Japanese foods. A good rule of thumb is the lighter the miso, the less intense the flavor and the least time fermented. The darker misos have been fermented longer and have a more intense and salty flavor. Both are great! I like the lighter miso for using in salad dressing and light sauces. I like the more intense flavor of red miso for marinades and hearty soups.

Miso also has potential health benefits. I have written before about the health aspects of fermented foods, and miso falls into this category. Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, and soy sauce, eaten in moderation, are a nutritious food choice.

Okay so let’s get busy learning how to use miso paste in the kitchen! I love adding miso to already existing recipes or just as a condiment.

Here are 5 easy, no-recipe required ways to use miso paste, remember to use less or no salt:

  1. Slather some white (aka mellow) miso onto grilled corn on the cob
  2. Add a tablespoon to stir fry
  3. Omit the salt and stir into your favorite vinaigrette salad dressing for an Asian flare
  4. Add to sauteed vegetables like mushrooms, onions, and greens
  5. Add to mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower (whisk with a little water to make it thin)

And for even more inspiration, here a 6 more gorgeous ways to use miso paste from my RD blogger buddies:

Raspberry Miso Glazed Salmon with Cabbage Slaw from McKenzie:


Tofu and Brussels Sprouts in Miso Sauce from MJ:


Buffalo Chickpea Quinoa Burgers with “Blue Cheese” Dressing from Kara:

Buffalo Chickpea Quinoa Burgers with “Blue Cheese” Dressing

Miso Broccoli and Quinoa Salad from me:


Roasted Carrot And Quinoa Salad With Soy-Miso Dressing from Rachael:

Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad With Soy-Miso Dressing

Vegan Miso Green Bean Casserole from MJ:


I hope you will start adding miso paste to your repertoire, I know it will become a go-to ingredient!

Chocolate Cherry Breakfast Muffins

Chocolate meets cherries in these moist and delicious gluten-free Chocolate Cherry Breakfast Muffins!
Chocolate Cherry Hemp Seed Muffins -- high protein, gluten free and delicious!

Do you ever buy a cool ingredient while grocery shopping but have no idea what you’ll make with it? I bought some garbonzo bean (aka chick pea) flour. My sister and I became fascinated with it years ago when she tasted this scone at a party. I had never been able to find it so when I did, I had to buy it.

But what to do with it? Clearly using it would require some degree of baking, a task I avoid at all costs, but I reminded myself that people enjoy baking. I mean, how hard can it be? I decided on these chocolate cherry breakfast muffins.

chocolate cherry breakfast muffins

In true me-fashion, I set out to make the healthiest breakfast muffins humanly possible. I threw in some hemp seeds for protein, oats for added fiber, almond flour for some healthy fats, and I didn’t even use oil.

But let me tell you, what went into that bowl was the farthest thing from precise. There was no meticulous measuring of ingredients going on. It’s just not how I roll. That being said, I understand I upped the risk of failure by oh, say 1000% by not doing so. I get that. I may not bake but I do know the rules. This sudden realization occurred right before the final act of stirring in the cherries. Panic set in and I started talking to myself. Based on precedence, the likelihood of these muffins being edible is very low. I know you want them to be healthy, but you might need to add more sugar to this bowl. And then, before I knew it, 1/4 cup of brown sugar went in. If my sister Georgie is reading this she is clapping right now, but in my gut I felt a ping of failure. Maybe the Academy of Pediatrics was right?

Nah!!!!! You didn’t think I would fall for that nonsense would you? I’ve made many a naturally sweetened treat in my day and they get gobbled up without complaint. Remember these? Oh wait, I did drizzle a lovely orange glaze on those. Well, there’s still these, these and these. Actually, every energy ball snack you’ll find on this site is sweetened naturally. And they don’t last but a few days in my house.

chocolate cherry and hemp seed muffins

Still, there’s something about the idea of baking that throws me into a panic. And this time, probably for good reason. Even with the applesauce, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, and the panic-induced 1/4 cup brown sugar…these muffins are still not that sweet. But, I think all in all they were a success!

chocolate cherry hemp seed muffinsThey are super moist and if you love cherries, you’ll be happy. The chocolate taste is subtle because I used cacao nibs and just a bit of cocoa powder but you could definitely bump that up. You could also add walnuts to these for a little crunch, that would be great. Heck, you can even use a different fruit. I used cherries because that’s what I had on hand in my freezer. I did use eggs in the recipe but to make them vegan you could substitute with flax eggs.

chocolate cherry hemp seed muffinsThese chocolate cherry muffins are the perfect grab and go breakfast or afternoon snack with some green tea. You might be wondering if I will keep up with the baking. Probably not. For one, the mess to clean up? No thank you. For two, these muffins are super tasty, but my raw bars/balls last longer, are more satisfying (to me) and are easier to make. I also don’t have to use flour, eggs, oil, or sugar. :)

Chocolate Cherry Breakfast Muffins

Chocolate Cherry Breakfast Muffins


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened frozen cherries (plus more for the top)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a standard muffin tin with 12 paper liners or lightly grease. In a large bowl combine eggs, applesauce, extract, maple syrup, and brown sugar.
  2. Add coconut milk and stir until combined. Then add salt, baking soda, chickpea flour, hemp seed, cacao nibs, cocoa powder, almond flour, shredded coconut and oats. Stir again until well combined.
  3. Gently toss the cherries in last. Fill muffin tins with batter and top with additional cherries.
  4. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the muffins are golden brown. Let cool on a cooling rack. I think they taste best warm!