Already More Plant-based Than We Think

Plant-based is not just soy, kale, portobellos, and nutritional yeast. It’s mashed potatoes, strawberries, apples, pears, and green beans. I started a list to remind myself how many plant foods I am already acquainted with. I was amazed by how many I had almost forgotten. I wanted a list that would also include vegan / plant-based staples that I had never heard of before, like nutritional yeast and agar-agar.

I am bilingual and bicultural, so I included names in English and Spanish if I could find them. Since food names vary greatly from place to place, I settled on Southwest American English and Central Mexican Spanish. The links contain details about specfic items. I’m adding items and details every day. It is helpful and inspiring to think about all the wonderful, colorful, tasty food plants at our fingertips. Some days I feel like concocting a fancy meat substitute dish, but other days I can just slice an avocado or dig into a watermelon, and go to the beach! I hope you find the glossary helpful and will refer to it often as more items are added.

¡Saludos! and ¡Salud! from beautiful Cancún, México!

What’s up with broccoli?

hybrid broccoli controversy

Broccoli is still one of the super plant foods when it comes to nutrition, but questions have been raised about a hybrid that you can read about here. Even though it is not genetically modified, Monsanto is involved in the project. Because of that, some environmentally and politically conscientious people may boycott the product. Marion Nestle, a New York University nutrition professor and author of Food Politics says that it’s just part of Monsanto’s drive to control the seed and food industry. “Should one corporation have that level of control over things people depend on?” she asks. The article also states that Bjokman and Monsanto say they don’t intend to use genetic engineering techniques when it comes to broccoli. Monsanto has already engineered both GMO summer squash and sweet corn.

RECIPE: Tacos de Flor de Jamaica

Hibiscus Flower Tacos

Hibiscus flowers are commonly used in Mexico to make a cold, sweetened beverage or to brew a relaxing tea that can also be used to treat hipertension (high blood pressure). The flowers are usually discarded after brewing, but they can be used as a meat substitute in a number of dishes. I have also discovered in the process that I can get a lot more beverage from a batch of flowers than I thought. The chewy texture resembles that of shredded beef or pork, and they absorb the flavors of garlic and onion when sauteed. If you don’t live in Mexico, you may be able to find hibiscus in a supermarket or Mexican grocery, or you can order it on Amazon. These tacos got a hearty thumbs-up even from the non-vegans at my house in Cancún.

PRIOR TO MAKING THE TACOS Cover 1 c HIBISCUS FLOWERS with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and keep the liquid to make tea or beverage. Repeat with the same flowers 2 more times, until the liquid is very light in color. Drain the flowers well and set them aside.



  • PREPARE 20 minutes to prepare ingredients
  • COOK TIME 10-15 minutes, medium heat
  • EQUIPMENT skillet
  • MAKES 8-10 tacos
  • 1 c hibiscus flowers, boiled and drained
  • 1/2 c onion, finely chopped, for sauteeing
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil for sauteeing
  • salt to taste
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 c lettuce, finely chopped
  • 1 c onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • salsa, to taste (about 2 Tbsp for each taco)


  1. Sautée in 1 Tbsp OLIVE OIL until onions are soft and transparent, 1/2 c FINELY CHOPPED ONION and 2 CLOVES OF GARLIC, PEELED AND CHOPPED.
  3. Cook thoroughly over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning with spatula.

Place hibiscus mixture on a fresh hot corn tortilla, add lettuce, chopped onion, CILANTRO and salsa. Recommended side dishes are refried beans, Mexican Rice, avocado slices, and cold agua de jamaica. ¡Buen provecho!

HIBISCUS FLOWER: What’s that good for?

When I first came to live in Mexico, I learned to love agua de jamaica, a delicious beverage that was a little bit tart, usually sweetened and served cold. Many years later, I learned that agua de jamaica was made from dried hibiscus flowers. Recently, I have learned that this delicious drink has many health benefits, even medicinal uses, and that after they are boiled and strained, the flowers can be used as a kind of meat substitute in tacos and other dishes!

Hibiscus tacos / Tacos de flor de jamaica

Hibiscus flowers may be red, yellow, white, or peach-colored. The most popular variety is Hibiscus sabdariffa, which is cultivated for medical purposes, used to treat upset stomach, high blood pressure, bacterial infections, and fever. Hibiscus tea is made from a mixture of dried hibiscus flowers, leaves, and dark red calyces, the cup-shaped centers of the flowers. Calyces are often the main ingredients in herbal drinks containing hibiscus. Egyptians used hibiscus tea to lower body temperature, treat heart and nerve diseases, and as a diuretic. Today, hibiscus is popular for its potential to reduce high blood pressure.

Sources: healthline

RECIPE: Hummus*


  • PREPARATION 20 minutes
  • EQUIPMENT blender or food processor
  • MAKES 1 cup

*INGREDIENTS (contains oil)

  • 1 c cooked and drained chickpeas (save liquid)
  • 1/4 c tahini
  • 1/8 c olive oil
  • 1 clove peeled garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp cumin (optional)
  • paprika to taste and for garnish (optional)


  • Blend until smooth 1 c COOKED, DRAINED CHICKPEAS (save liquid and use as needed for blending) with 1/4 c TAHINI, 1/8 c OLIVE OIL, 1 CLOVE GARLIC, PEELED, JUICE OF 1 LEMON, SALT, PEPPER, CUMIN (optional) or PAPRIKA (optional) to taste.
  • Add more lemon juice if desired.
  • Garnish with small amounts of oil from tahini, olive oil, chopped parsley, and paprika.

RECIPE: Mexican Fried Rice (no oil) / Sopa de Arroz (sin aceite)


  • PREPARATION 30 minutes
  • COOK 20 minutes
  • NEED blender, non-stick skillet
  • MAKES 2 cups


  1. 1 lb tomatoes
  2. 2 cloves garlic
  3. 1/4 medium onion
  4. small amt water


  1. 1 c rice
  2. 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  3. 1/8 tsp cumin (optional)
  4. 1/8 tsp black pepper (optional)
  5. 1 c recaudo
  6. 1 c water


  1. Plunge 1 lb. tomatoes into boiling water until the skin loosens (about 5 minutes)
  2. Cool and peel the tomatoes; blend with 2 cloves garlic, peeled, 1/4 medium onion, and just enough water for blending. This mix is the recaudo.
  3. Lightly blend 1 c recaudo (store any left over in the refrigerator to use later) with 1 c WATER
  4. Wash 1 c RICE thoroughly and drain off excess water
  5. Heat a NON-STICK SKILLET until a drop of water jumps when dropped on it.
  6. Put the rice in the skillet, stirring and turning it until it is golden brown, about 10 minutes
  7. Pour in the RECAUDO and water mixture all at once. Add SALT, PEPPER and CUMIN. Stir lightly.
  8. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat as low as possible. The liquid should continue to bubble very slightly. Cover loosely, leaving enough air space so the mixture doesn’t boil over. Cook 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
  9. Uncover the rice and let it stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.


Serve plain or add cooked chopped vegetables. Peas, carrots, corn, or zucchini are favorite additions.