Stephanie Quilao

Roasted Eggplant With Purple Thai Basil Flowers and Peppers

This eggplant dish is so pretty and tasty! I actually stared at my dish for a while just to admire the beauty of Mother Nature’s work. I love all the purple colors and since 2018 is the year Pantone named “Ultra Violet” color of the year, this dish is a perfect fit.


I found this beautiful Thai basil bursting with purple flowers at the farmers market. Flowering plants are a fun way to add some beautiful garnish to your dishes. Next to the basil were some cool looking purple Thai peppers. I love me some purple colored foods, and jumped at the chance to make a purple power dish.

For the eggplant, I went with the smaller rounder style eggplant versus the longer skinnier eggplant just to play with some shapes.

I roasted the eggplant because I really love the flavors and textures you get from roasting. Roasting vegetables is not a traditional Asian style of cooking but hey, it’s fun to fuse different styles together, right?

For the sauce, I used gluten-free tamari to make the dish gluten-free.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 pound of round eggplant cut into quarter pieces
  • 12-14 Thai peppers (depending on how spicy you want the dish)
  • 3/4 cup chopped Thai basil leaves
  • Thai basil flowers for garnish
  • Chopped red jalapeno (optional for topping)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt

For the sauce:

  • 3 tbs gluten-free tamari
  • 2 tbs organic brown sugar
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

Let’s start cooking

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet spread the eggplant pieces out and cover the eggplant with olive oil. Sprinkle a few dashes of sea salt over the eggplant pieces. Use just a small amount of salt because the tamari used in the sauce is high in salt.

Roast for 25 minutes. Do not remove the sheet yet. Coat the Thai peppers with some olive oil and toss onto the sheet with the eggplant and roast for an additional 5 minutes. We are basically sweating the peppers a bit so they become a little softer.

Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool down. The eggplant should be soft to the touch, not too mushy.

To make the sauce, in a small bowl, combine the tamari, brown sugar, garlic and garlic powder, and mix together until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Heat on medium a wok or large sauce pan. Put the roasted eggplant and peppers into the pan. Toss in the chopped basil leaves and pour the sauce over the eggplant. Mix well.

Cover the wok or pan, and let the eggplant simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Take the pan off the burner and let the eggplant cool down.

When plating your eggplant and pepper dish, garnish on top with some of the beautiful flowers and sprinkle on some chopped red Jalapeno like I did in the photo for some fun burst of color.


The U.N. Awards California For It’s Landmark Legislation Regulating Methane Emissions From Dairy Farms

This is an example of why I feel proud to live in California, one of the most progressive states in the U.S, and a leader in climate action. In 2016, California became the first state in the country to enact a bill regulating greenhouse gas emissions caused by animal agriculture.

Bill 1383, “Short-lived climate pollutants: methane emissions: dairy and livestock: organic waste: landfills,” now law is significant because California is the largest producer of dairy in the U.S, and there are no state or federal laws regarding regulations of greenhouse gas emissions caused by animal agriculture related to climate change. The bill requires dairy farms to reduce methane emissions by 40% from 2013 levels by 2030. The program fully goes into effect in 2024.

The UN recognized California’s landmark legislation at COP23 in Bonn Germany by awarding the state of California its Climate and Clean Air Award for having the most comprehensive and strongest set of targets for reducing short-lived climate pollutant emissions into state law for Bill 1383.

Enacting these types of regulations at the state level is a great start. We need more states to enact similar legislation to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by industrial animal agriculture if we are going to meet the Paris agreement goals, regardless of the fact that our current federal administration has chosen to be the ONLY country on the planet not to be in the Paris accord.

You as a voting citizen of the U.S. can make regulations like what California did happen by contacting your local government representatives and by creating a coalition of your fellow citizens to apply pressure. The power of the people have more strength over big industry interests when we work collectively and largely.

Easy Protein-Packed Snack: Lima Beans, Sweet Peas, and Quinoa

This is one of my favorite snacks to get in some protein and fiber. It’s especially good to make when you have leftover Quinoa. My bowl here has 1/3 cups lima beans, 2/3 cups sweet green peas, and 1/4 Quinoa with some lentils I cooked with the Quinoa.

I use frozen organic beans and peas for ease. Just mix the beans and peas together with some water to help defrost the legumes, and microwave for one minute. After heating, I drain the water and sprinkle a little garlic salt and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Boom done!

Today, I felt a little more snazzy and sauteed some chopped sweet onion in avocado oil until caramelized a bit, and then added the lima beans and peas with a little garlic salt. Heat for a minute and add the Quinoa.

This easy snack has 10g of protein and 7g of fiber.

Status on The Flexi 21 iPhone and Android Mobile Apps

Hello flexers! Taking a moment from food and advocacy, to give you an update on the backend side of The Flexi 21. Because Apple made a major change to their app store requirements, the new mobile app for iPhone and Android for The Flexi 21 I was planning to launch by the end of this year is now on pause for a moment until I figure out what options I have.
I love Apple and have been brand loyal for decades, but this is one of the times I really think they are acting like big, evil corporation because this one decision is essentially killing the ability for small businesses and entrepreneurs, like myself, who do not have the money or funding to hire developers and an app management service to build native apps to get into the Apple store.
I totally get why Apple made these changes which is targeting eliminating spam apps. No one likes spam apps. However, most of these spam apps are built on template, web-based platform services where you pay a monthly/yearly fee to build and host a web-based built app, and then submit your app to the Apple and Google app stores. These services give entrepreneurs and small businesses the ability to build apps because they are cost effective and do not require hiring developers.
I get Apple wants unique apps in their store, but the apps you’ll see for some industries will all look alike or have a similar format like food and restaurant apps where you have a menu, ordering service, hours of operation, an about page, and gallery of photos, or a doctor or dentist who wants to have a business app that includes booking appointments. There is not much to differentiate when the business service and information you are offering is the same as everyone else in your industry.
So, because there is a segment of publishers using these template-based services to abuse the system, Apple has lumped ALL apps built on these services under the same umbrella without giving the possibility of designating certain established template-based services who have good reputations of not being spam app farms. The service I was using to build The Flexi 21 app was one of those reputable services which is why I chose them.
The service I was using has been working with Apple on this issue and has been good about communicating to their customers on the latest updates. However, because of Apple’s change, the service I was using has come out with an entirely new business pricing structure and although it is still possible for me to get an app on the Apple and Google stores, they have more than doubled the monthly fee, and then added an Apple store “Review fee” that is really costly for a solopreuner. It’s like a car payment.
Soooo, this is the life of a changemaker building a tech based business. I’ve been in Silicon Valley for ages so this Apple shift doesn’t phase me much although it was a real disappointment hearing about the changes. I do feel for those new to building a tech-based business or trying to integrating mobile into their business because it’s a major change that could be business killing and/or adding significant costs that were not expected because an industry giant decided to change the game. Seriously Apple, do better for the little guy.
I’ll keep you posted on what I’ll be doing for the mobile offering of The Flexi 21. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

Explained: There Is a Difference Between Vegan and Plant-based

There is often an assumption that vegan and plant-based mean the same thing. The terms are related but there is a difference and it is important to understand what that difference is.

VEGAN is a lifestyle and moral view that animals are fellow sentient beings not to be eaten, worn, tested on, or exploited in any way for human use which extends beyond food and includes the likes of fashion, makeup, cars, pharmaceuticals, lab testing, investments, and entertainment like vegans are against zoos or circuses that use animals.

Vegan food is any food that does not contain any animal-based ingredients nor has ingredients that were tested on animals.

PLANT-BASED is a diet, a style of eating foods from plants primarily in their whole form and avoiding animal-based foods. Whole, plant-based foods are vegan, but vegan food does not have to be whole foods.

The key phrase is whole foods meaning foods in their most original form, and even better if it’s organic because you avoid the toxic synthetic pesticides. In a whole foods, plant-based diet, the bulk of your food comes straight from the ground or tree, is loaded with fibrous vegetables and fruit and is minimally processed like pasta, 4-ingredient bread, oatmeal, a jar of organic tomato sauce, or pre-made soup. Most of us do not have the time nor patience to make things like bread, pizza dough, soup or pasta from scratch and that is okay.

Eating vegan also does not automatically mean healthy either. You can eat vegan for the day and not eat one vegetable, fruit, legume, or whole grain. MSG, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame and even Crisco is vegan. Whereas, eating whole food, plant-based is ideal for creating healthiness and can help reverse lifestyle-created chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Let’s look at some examples.

In this first example, here is a whole day of eating vegan which you will notice is almost void of any whole foods except lettuce and tomato in a burger, and a small amount of chili on fries. There is a donut and latte for breakfast. A vegan margarita pizza for lunch. A veggie burger with chili fries for dinner, and a brownie and chocolate ice cream for dessert.

You can completely avoid eating any animal-based foods and still gain weight, get heart disease, become diabetic, be constipated, and have high cholesterol among many other chronic health issues. One of the reasons people who go vegan and experience health issues is because they are eating more like this which is indeed free of animals but is loaded with processed sugar, fat, and sodium and lacking in key nutrients.

Now, here is an example of a day eating whole foods, plant-based. This example is loaded with vegetables, fruit, starch and whole grains. There is overnight oats made with maple pecan milk, figs, pecans and granola for breakfast. Thai red curry with spiralized sweet potato noodles, carrots, broccoli, tofu, and cilantro for lunch. A one pot bulgur with bok choy, cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms for dinner, and fresh strawberries for dessert.

See the difference now? You want to eat more like the latter than the former. The ideal approach for health is eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, but also don’t feel like you have to completely deprive yourself either because food should be a pleasure which includes indulgence from time to time.

Being a reformed yo-yo dieter, I find that forbidding foods puts you emotionally into that diet mentality of deprivation and just makes you want it more versus getting your body naturally used to a new eating style so you just no longer have any taste or desire for those decadent or highly processed foods. Your palate adapts to what you feed it the most.

If you can eat foods that support your health goals 80-90% of the time, and leave the rest for indulgence, that’s great. That’s the formula I follow because it’s flexible which is another reason the Flexitarian style of eating resonates with me. I dropped 40 lbs, and have kept it off for 10 years now without having to diet any more.

Here’s an example of one of my 80/20 days. Breakfast is a big green, carrot and cherry tomato salad with figs, nuts and sprouted beans. Lunch is Amy’s organic vegan fast food of burger, chili fries and mac n cheez (I split this with a friend.) Dinner is a black bean tamale with beans, rice, avocado and fresh tomato salsa, and dessert is some plums. I drink organic soda like 1-3 times a year because sometimes I like a soda with burgers or I want a rum and cola or Seagram’s 7 and lime soda.


You’ll see the word “plant-based” being used more in marketing because for consumers who are still meat eaters, the word “vegan” can be a turn-off whereas “plant-based” is more about an ingredient view versus a moral view.

Depending on how they are made because there are so many methods now, the meat, dairy and egg alternatives are vegan, low carbon, and/or plant-based but are also not automatically considered health foods just because they do not contain animals, cholesterol, trans fats or GMOs. Some of these alternatives can contain significant amounts of sodium, sugar, fat, gums and preservatives.

The Whole Foods Market list of Unacceptable Ingredients For Food is a great reference to use for cutting way down on the artificial and overly processed ingredients.



I like to do combos of things when I do eat the meat alternatives. In my meal above, is sweet and sour pork using Gardein’s Porkless Bites served with  organic brown Jasmine fried rice, and sauteed sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms and onions.

Look for plant-based milks that are low in sugar. The vegan meats and cheeses should be treated more like transitional foods to help you wean from the animal-based meats and cheeses, or eaten on occasion versus everyday at every meal.

My blog includes the meat, dairy, and egg alternatives because  although I promote a more whole foods, plant-based diet, I also know how challenging it is to transition. I’m more about progress versus perfection even if it takes you a longer amount of time to make the shift. The important thing is that you are taking action which is better than doing zero!






What’s In Season: Spring

Time for the sun to emerge and bask us with the bounty of Spring!

  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Calcot Onions
  • Cherries
  • Endive
  • Bitter Melon
  • Broccoli
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Cactus
  • Chives
  • Collard Greens
  • Fennel
  • Fiddlehead Ferns

  • Green Beans
  • Honeydew
  • Jackfruit
  • Limes
  • Lychee
  • Mango
  • Mustard Greens
  • Oranges
  • Pea Pods
  • Peas
  • Pineapple
  • Purple Asparagus
  • Radicchio
  • Ramps

  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Rhubarb
  • Snow Peas
  • Sorrel
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Swiss Chard
  • Watercress
  • White Asparagus

For more seasonal availability, here is what is available in SummerFall, and Winter.

What’s In Season: Summer

Here are some of the abundance of delicious foods available during the summer season:

  • Apricots
  • Asian pears
  • Beets
  • Bell Peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Corn – always buy organic

  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Figs
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans

  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Jimmy Nardello Peppers
  • Key Limes
  • Limes
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Okra
  • Peaches
  • Peas
  • Plums
  • Pluots

  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Shallots
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatillo
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Zuchini

For more seasonal availability, here is what is available in Fall,  Winter, and Spring.

What’s In Season: Fall

Here is some of the vibrant bounty available during the Fall:

  • Asian Pear
  • Endive
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Chayote Squash
  • Chinese Long Beans
  • Cranberries
  • Delicata Squash

  • Daikon Radish
  • Endive
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans
  • Guava
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Jujube
  • Key Limes
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kumquats
  • Mushrooms
  • Pear

  • Persimmons
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Pumpkin
  • Quince
  • Radicchio
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Swiss Chard


For more seasonal availability, here is what is available in Winter, Spring, and Summer.

What’s In Season: Winter


Despite the cold, there is an abundance in choices. Here is what is in season during Winter:

  • Belgian Endive
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cactus Pear
  • Cardoon
  • Chestnuts
  • Clementines
  • Collard Greens

  • Dates
  • Delicata Squash
  • Grapefruit
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Leeks
  • Blood Oranges
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Oranges

  • Passion Fruit
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranate
  • Pummelo
  • Currants
  • Swet Potatoes
  • Tangerines
  • Turnips

For more seasonal availability, here is what is available in SpringSummer, and Fall.

Powerful Side: Protein Packed Brown Rice With 23g


Rice is not usually known for being protein packed, but it can be. This rice recipe has plenty of protein and fiber coming in at 23 g of protein and 15 g of fiber for the whole pot.

I used Tru Roots Sprouted Bean & Lentil Medley which has a combination of organic sprouted mung beans, sprouted green lentils and sprouted adzuki beans. 1/4 cup dry has 11g of protein and 9g of fiber. If you can’t find the Tru Roots medley at your local grocery stores, you can create your own medley mix using the same or similar dry ingredients that are usually found in the bulk food section.

Brown Jasmine rice has 4 g of protein and 2 g fiber for every 1/4 cup dry. For a little more protein, use organic wild rice which has 6 g of protein and 3 g of fiber per 1/4 cup dry.

Ingredients (4-5 servings):

  • 1/4 cup dry sprouted mixed lentils
  • 3/4 cup dry brown Jasmine rice
  • 1 pinch of Pink Himalayan salt, or sea salt
  • 2 cups water

On the stove top, put lentils and rice in a pot with water and salt. Bring water to a boil. Put cover on pot and lower temperature to low simmer. Cook for 40-45 minutes.

Remove pot from heat. Keep lid on, and let rice steam for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

You can also use a rice cooker. Use the same ingredients.


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