Wellness Weekend September 22-26, 2011

I’m so grateful to all of you who’ve jumped on the Wellness Weekend wagon and have been submitting recipes–thank you all!

Last week, for some reason, I had to remove more than a few entries that didn’t meet the guidelines.  I wanted to clarify just in case there’s some confusion about what is or is not “processed.”

Technically, anything that isn’t in its perfectly preserved “fresh” state is processed.  In other words, applesauce made from whole apples and nothing added is, technically, processed.  Similarly, tofu is processed (processed soybeans).  So how can you tell what will or won’t be included?

My Definition of “Processed”:

I suppose I have two main guidelines (and one exception) for what I consider “processed.”

First, the food should either be, or contain, only whole, natural foods or foods that have been considered “traditional” and used safely for centuries.  I am okay with evaporating, heating, chilling, puréeing, etc, so to me, applesauce made with whole apples (or even peeled apples) is okay.  Nothing artificial has been added.  I put potato starch and whole-grain flours in the same category; mostly, these are made by heating and then drying the grains before pounding them into flour.  Our grandmothers used potato starch and rice flour before us.

Second, if it could be made in your kitchen, I am okay with it.  Tofu can be made at home.  Soy sauce can be made at home (just ask Penniless Parenting!).  If you can easily pronounce it and could make it at home (even if you don’t), then it’s okay.

Third, the exceptions to the rule:  seasonings, sweeteners, organic oils and other ingredients used in small amounts.  Most of the sweeteners I use are naturally derived (eg, agave, coconut sugar, yacon) and could also be made at home.  But things like spices, dried herbs, soy sauce, vinegar, etc. are likely not ingredients you will choose to make at home.  They are still okay.

Finally, what are absolute no-nos?  As the guidelines say below, anything containing refined (white) sugar or flour (such as most packaged baked goods), or heavy on the chemical ingredients (such as margarine or faux meats or cheeses) should not be included.  Here are the ingredients in Earth Balance:

Expeller-pressed natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit, canola and olive), filtered water, pure salt, natural flavor, soy protein, soy lecithin, lactic acid, and naturally extracted annatto for color.

These are not ingredients that would exist–or exist together–in nature.  In contrast, virgin coconut oil contains:

Coconut oil.

Yes, the coconut oil is removed from the whole coconut.  But that’s it.

I apologize if these guidelines seem arbitrary.  In our world today, it’s nearly impossible to eat a diet that’s 100% natural and unprocessed (without a huge amount of effort), but I try to do the best I can.  I hope this won’t deter any of you from continuing to participate in the event!

And now, on to the details that everyone wants to know--which recipes were the faves from last week? Last week marked a turning point as well on Wellness Weekend, with more plant-based dishes submitted from omnivorous readers than ever before! I’m so glad to see that everyone can enjoy delicious animal-free foods for whatever their reasons.  Keep ‘em coming! :D

Here are the top four from last week’s event (and it was a very difficult choice, I’ll tell you):

And the Reader’s Choice post this past week goes to:

  • Quinoa Banana Bread from Farmers Market Vegan!  This post was easily the most-viewed from last week–and it looks fantastic!

Thank you to every one of you who’s played along by submitting your recipes! I love seeing what you all make each week.

Please join us this weekend! There are so many options for healthy foods. . . whether or not you’re vegan, remember that many salads, veggie side dishes, pasta dishes, desserts, smoothies, and more are naturally vegan and can all be included!  :)


  1. The event occurs once a week, starting Thursdays at 8:00 PM my time and running until Monday at midnight.
  2. Simply link up a recipe you made (and posted about) within the past week that contains health-supporting ingredients (see list below)Use the Linky Tool at the bottom of the page.
  3. Please link the post with your recipe, NOT your blog’s home page.
  4. You may submit more than one recipe, but please follow the guidelines for each one individually.
  5. Please be sure to mention this event and include a link back to this post so that others can find all the recipes posted!
  6. Feel free to use the blog badge, above (or see the left sidebar of this page–if you need the html code, let me know and I’ll send it to you). Many thanks to Adrienne of Whole New Mom for setting up the badge code for me!
  7. As always, I hate to remove links, but will do so if they don’t comply with the guidelines.

What your recipe CAN contain:

  • Any good-for-you, whole foods, especially those with antioxidant properties or “functional foods” (ie, offering naturally medicinal or health-promoting qualities–such as garlic, coconut oil, all vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc.)–but any fresh, real food is welcome!
  • Natural sweeteners (coconut sugar, agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, stevia, Sucanat, rapadura, coconut nectar, yacon syrup, etc.)
  • Vegan ingredients (even if you’re not vegan, OF COURSE you can still play along! You’ll be surprised at how many foods are naturally vegan; and if not, there are many subs you can use for eggs, milk or butter–include vegan options and we’re good to go!).
  • Note that this is NOT AN ACD-ONLY EVENT.  Any real food ingredients that are sugar-free and vegan are more than welcome–so use that maple syrup, those mushrooms, that nutritional yeast, miso, etc!  I’m just looking for healthy, whole foods recipes. :)

What your recipe cannot contain:

  • White flour, white sugar, or any highly refined, highly processed ingredients
  • Anything almost entirely artificial (ie, most boxed mixes, fast food, faux “cheese,” faux “meat,” or margarine, unnaturally colored cereals or other foods, etc.)
  • Animal products (meat, chicken, fish or seafood, or their by-products, gelatin, eggs, dairy, butter or honey)

“Hey!  Why was my entry removed?”

  • The most common reason entries are removed is because they don’t adhere to the guidelines: either they contain ingredients that aren’t listed here, they are a re-post of a blog entry that is more than one week old, or they contain neither a recipe nor anything directly related to food preparation.  If you render a recipe vegan-friendly by adding a vegan option to your ingredients, your post will be good to go!  For older posts, you’re welcome to re-post them during the week of the event, or choose a newer recipe.
  • Another reason posts are removed is because the link leads to an advertisement or a business blog. Please do NOT link up posts that are merely referrals to a different post or the home page for another blog event.
  • I hate to have to remove links! PLEASE read the guidelines before posting!



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  1. Casey Lorraine Thomas says:

    How exciting!!! I’m so thrilled you like my recipe and do let me know if you try it :). Great segment Ricki!

  2. Gosh, for a second I thought you were going to exclude recipes with applesauce!! Like you, I limit the artificial stuff, refined sugars and flours! Sometimes I wonder about tofu, but eat it in moderation. Glad to hear we’re on the same page. :D

    • I know it’s a very subjective kind of criteria, but I guess you have to draw the line somewhere. It’s mostly the chemical, pre-packaged, colored and highly refined ingredients that I can’t tolerate. And I want to be able to try out all the amazing recipes on Wellness Weekend for myself! :)

  3. I hope these fit the criteria. Not sure about coconut aminos! Thanks Ricki!

  4. Added a gluten free rice flakes savory breakfast, and some Banana oatmeal quinoa muffin top cookies:)
    Have an amazing day Ricki, and thanks for hosting WW !

  5. “Processed” is a difficult term these days – I love using tinned tomatoes and yet am aware that they are processed – despite looking for ones that are 100% tomatoes. I think that the rule about not eating anything that your grandmother wouldn’t recognise is a good one except that she wouldn’t have ever seen chia seeds, quinoa or coconut oil. Well I did check over the ingredients that are in the recipe I submitted but I think they are ok. Your notes are a useful reminder to think about what we eat!

    • Johanna, you’re so right. . . of course, I think tinned tomatoes are fine, since they are “just tomatoes” but yes, technically they are indeed processed! Coming up with a definition was extremely tough and there will certainly be leeway. But things like faux cheese or boxed, pre-sweetened cereal or canned whipped cream will always be a bit too processed for my taste! ;)

  6. Not sure what category chocolate chips fall into? I use an organic brand that contains unrefined sugar and no additives. I’ve shared my Sweet Potato Pancakes recipe that includes chocolate chips… I can put a note on it that cooks who are looking for a healthier breakfast can omit the chips :)

    • Thanks for asking, Lisa, I’m fine with chocolate of all sorts (well, maybe not regular chocolate bars, but you know what I mean). As I said, the definition is certainly subjective, but I do allow exceptions for sweets in small amounts. :)

  7. Thank you for your comment – for some reason I thought I was too late to submit to this event, so thrilled to be reminded I am not. I also added a link to your scallion pancake recipe in my post :)

  8. Wow, I am totally behind on my blog reading, clearly – THANK YOU for the shoutout for the fig ice cream. :) :) It is truly wonderful, and I bet you could make it with your no-ice-cream-maker method.

  9. Ricki

    I just wanted to thank you for these Wellness Weekends–Thank You! I have been *loving* them and the recipes and the opportunity to discover new blogs…what a great idea you had with the concept :-) Thank you!


    • Thanks so much, Courtney! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. I’m finding all kinds of fabulous recipes, too–and am delighted to share them with everyone!


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