If I had a motto for my life, it might be this quote from Henry David Thoreau, the 19th-century American transcendentalist: "Simplify, simplify, simplify."

This applies to my taste in clothing (t-shirt, jeans - good to go), hairstyle (just keep it out of my eyes) and food preferences. I do enjoy the more complicated dishes my husband prepares, but when I'm feeding myself, I go for two or three ingredients. Peanut butter or almond butter on apple slices is my standby, and in late summer, I live on hummus and cherry tomatoes from the farmer's market.

There's just something so satisfying about combining two different tastes and textures. Several members of the Vegan Cookbook Club share my penchant for smooshing a couple of simple, whole foods together and calling it a snack or a light meal. The ingredients in these combos - nuts and seeds, fresh and dried fruits, raw vegetables - are nutrient-dense and because they are whole, they still have all their wonderful dietary fiber. The oils and proteins in the nuts make you feel full, and the sugars in the fruit satisfy a sweet tooth.

These foods are not necessarily low-calorie, but they are quality calories - vastly superior to a bag of chips. They are fresh, as compared to months-old packaged nutrition bars. And because you're making them yourself, you can more easily control the quantity. (Know what I mean? For me, one serving of tortilla chips is one bag ... no matter what size of bag.)

Many of these ingredients - such as walnuts, goji berries and kale - are considered "superfoods" because their healthful effects on the body are so powerful. For example, kale heals the endothelium, the layer of cells that lines the insides of our arteries. For this reason, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, of "Forks Over Knives" fame, recommends eating kale every day for heart health.

Here are some dynamic duos (and a couple of trios) you may not have tried before. Eat them slowly, enjoying the synergy of tastes and textures. Where the instructions call for peanuts or peanut butter, you can substitute any other nut, nut butter or seed butter.

From Sue Baker:

• Place a one-inch chunk of celery inside a pitted medjool date

• Place a few peanuts on a soft, dried apricot and fold the apricot around the peanuts

From my husband, Tom:

• Spread mashed avocado on celery stalks

From Mel Wiemken:

• Cut open a fig and stuff it with a macadamia nut

• Spread tahini (sesame paste) on apple slices

• Combine a handful of walnuts and a handful of dried goji berries in a bowl

• Toast a slice of Ezekiel bread, spread with peanut butter and add fresh or frozen blueberries

From Mary Auchter:

• Combine almonds and raisins in a bowl - "so calming," says Mary

• Eat cantaloupe chunks and dried figs together

• Munch on celery stalks with a glass of grapefruit juice - elegant

• Pair date rolls with avocado - add a squeeze of lime and pinch of sea salt to the avocado, if you like

• Wrap banana slices in kale leaves (I liked this with raw kale leaves, but I usually prefer kale lightly steamed, so I tried a bowl of steamed kale mixed with a mashed banana and a pinch of salt. It was delicious! - Bonnie)

• Banana slices and hot pepper slices (You've gotta try this! - Bonnie)


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Finally, here is a dynamic trio from Wendy Grethen and myself. Adjust the cacao and sweetener to your taste.

3-Ingredient Instant Chocolate Pudding

1 ripe avocado

2 tsp cacao powder

1 tsp agave syrup or (my version) 2 tsp maple syrup

Use a fork to mash the avocado and mix in the other ingredients.

Did you know?

John Parker, columnist for "The Economist," wrote: "2019 will be the year veganism goes mainstream. ... Fully a quarter of 25- to 34-year-old Americans say they are vegans or vegetarians. ... McDonald's has started selling McVegan burgers. Sales of vegan foods in America (from January) to June 2018 rose ten times faster than food sales as a whole. ... The school district of Los Angeles, America's second-largest, will start serving vegan meals in all its schools during the 2018-19 academic year."