Her popular cookbook and PBS show are both called Jazzy Vegetarian, a name that strikes just the right chord with Laura Theodore. 

By Jonna Gallo Weppler

An accomplished jazz singer, Laura found herself embracing a plant-based diet over the years, happily riffing on recipes in her New Jersey kitchen. "When I moved to the suburbs from New York City, guests often turned up for weekends," says Laura. "Family Circle helped me learn to feed a crowd. I've been a loyal reader since 1974!" Fruits and veggies, pitch-perfect foods in her eyes, lend themselves to scrumptious, satisfying breakfast drinks like this one.

Happy Start Smoothie

Begin any day right with this good-for-you, gorgeously green-tinged (thanks to parsley) creation. Carrots and apples lend lots of natural sweetness. Ice cubes are optional but recommended for the frosty factor.


2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 apples, cored and quartered

3 to 4 large leaves romaine lettuce

1 cup filtered water

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

6 ice cubes (optional)


Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Pour into glasses, preferably chilled, immediately. Serves 2 generously.

Raspberry-Banana Green Dream Smoothie

"I often start my day with this enticing and energizing combination of berries, bananas and baby greens. Using frozen bananas makes for an extra-thick smoothie," says Laura.


2 frozen or fresh bananas

1 1/2 ounces (2 cups, lightly packed) mixed baby greens

1 to 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries or blueberries

1 to 2 cups filtered water


Put bananas, greens, berries and 1 cup of water in blender. Process until smooth, adding more water as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Serve immediately. Makes 2 generous servings.

Happy Start Smoothie

Here are some tips and advice from Laura on getting more greens and fruit into your day-to-day diet:

  • When making layered casseroles or lasagnas, try swapping out one layer of your casserole with organic baby spinach. No need to chop it up. Just add about six ounces of baby spinach into one layer, and then continue layering with your other ingredients as usual. It will look like a lot of spinach but it really cooks down. As the casserole bakes, the spinach makes a pretty layer in your dish, without having a "spinachy" taste!
  • For a sweet, syrupy sauce to top ANY cooked, hot veggies, including carrots, broccoli, kale or spinach: Whisk together 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons brown sugar and 2 teaspoons tamari.
  • To make a fabulous frozen dessert, rely on frozen bananas. Ahead of time, take a ripe banana, cut into thick slices, drop into a resealable plastic bag and freeze. When it's time for dessert, place one banana, 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup and 1/3 cup vanilla flavored soymilk (per person) in the blender and whirl until creamy. Tastes just like soft-serve ice cream!
  • For a delicious anytime nibble, spread peanut butter on organic apple slices or organic celery sticks.
  • Experiment with substituting fresh apple puree for oil when you bake. Simply peel and core apples, and puree in the blender until they're the consistency of applesauce. Add the apple puree in the same ratio you would add your oil to the recipe. In addition, cut down on the sugar in the recipe by 25% or more.
  • If you like the idea of serving a salad with dinner but struggle to find time to assemble it at the last minute, work ahead. Wash salad greens in the morning or afternoon, then spin them dry.
  • Place in a large bowl, lay a dry paper towel on top, cover bowl and chill.

To get more advice and recipes from Laura Theodore, check your local listings for viewing times of Jazzy Vegetarian at pbs.org.

Originally published in the July 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.