August 2021

Hugging and gathering are part of our nature, especially for me, a giver of hugs.

How’s your summer?  I wish I could say I spent July traveling somewhere exotic— or just traveling — but I didn’t. The month sped past, anyway. I missed you guys.

Hugging my friend Agata at her restaurant Bread & Chocolate in Grand Caymen.

I did get to see — and hug!  — friends I haven't seen in over a year. Humans are social animals. Hugging and gathering are part of our nature, especially for me, a giver of hugs. The pandemic forced all of us into acting against our nature — hugs out, masks and social distancing in.  When the Covid vaccine became available, I felt sure we could put the pandemic behind us. But Covid’s spiking again, affecting the unvaccinated, especially in Florida. Please get vaccinated, if you haven’t yet, so you can hug the people you love. 

Hugs, both real and virtual, to the Miami teams of Food Rescue US, World Central Kitchen, and Miami’s big-hearted culinary community for feeding first responders and survivors and family members of the Surfside condo disaster. 

As shocking as the Champlain collapse was, we’re all facing what could mean the loss of our home. The flooding in China and Germany, the Bootleg fire in Oregon and other so-called natural disasters signal the catastrophic effects of climate change. The climate has changed.  We need to change with it.  And the upside is, we’re pretty good at it. We’ve been adapting to change for millennia.  Climate scientists have identified many positive actions we can take, but “the single biggest way to reduce our impact on the environment” is a vegan diet.

Since I skipped my July newsletter, let me make it up to you by sharing this exclusive recipe.  It’s summery, tangy, fruity, a little spicy, and a little nutty (like me).

Miami Vegan Papaya Chutney

Technically, this recipe from my forthcoming book, Miami Vegan, isn’t a true chutney, since it doesn’t contain vinegar as a preserving agent and doesn’t  involve a long, hot day of cooking and canning. This to me is a plus. It is, however, true to chutney in that it’s tangy, fruity, a llttle spicy and a little nutty (like me).

How to serve:  Enjoy this chunky sauce with tamarind-roasted vegetables, black beans, Caribbean curry, and cumin-scented brown rice. It’s also good dolloped over avocado toast or slathered on cornbread.

1 tablespoon coconut oil or grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1-1/2 teaspoons allspice
1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1 onion, halved then sliced into skinny half moons
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced 
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 nice, ripe papaya, peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 2 cups)
juice of 1 to 2 limes (about 2 tablespoons)
sea salt to taste
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
1 good sprig mint leaves, (about 2 teaspoons), chopped
1/3 cup roasted cashews, chopped

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the mustard seeds, allspice and turmeric. Stir, then cover with a lid.  After a few minutes,  you’ll hear the mustard seeds pop from the heat, releasing flavor.  When they’ve quieted down, lift the lid and add the thinly sliced onion, and minced garlic, ginger and jalapeno.  

Cook, stirring now and again, until the vegetables soften, turning fragrant and taking on a soft golden hue from the turmeric-spiced oil, about 5 to 8 minutes.  

Add chopped papaya and lime juice, stirring just to heat through and let the papaya soften.

Season generously with sea salt.  Stir in chopped cilantro and mint and sprinkle in chopped cashews.

Serves 4 to 6.

How to keep:  Keep covered and refrigerated and enjoy within four days.

Catch my interview on the podcast Evolve CPG at Podcast Episodes — Evolve CPG - Podcast & Online Community.


August is National Black Business Month. Find something perfect for yourself or someone in your life at The Nile List,  a digital community connecting consumers with Black-owned businesses online.

August 19, 6pm-7:30pm ET join me for Vegan Baking Basics. This free, virtual class is being hosted by Miami Dade Public Library.  Register at

Recipes to Enjoy This Month:

Granny Cake
Grilled Zucchini
Green Goodness 
Mango Freeze
Creamy Dill Dip
Bulgur with Kale and Spiced Chickpeas
Apricot Frangipane Tart
Watermelon Gazpacho