Sugar, Spice and Slugs: Meet Mel B.

What is Succanat and spice and everything nice? Our very own fabulous food and recipe expert Melissa Breyer. Every week Care2′s spice girl Mel B. comes up with exciting vegetarian and vegan recipes using local and seasonal ingredients. Find out what what inspires her.

Robyn: What is your favorite food?
Mel: Oh man! Picking my favorite food is like “which of your children do you love more?”! Essentially my favorite depends on what’s local and in season, grown and prepared with integrity and passion. That, or homemade pasta.

Robyn: What is your favorite recipe?
Mel: Favorite recipe is easier, Clementine Cake. It’s a beautiful recipe where you simmer whole clementines for hours, puree them whole–skin and all–with eggs, sugar and almonds, and bake. It’s somehow totally comforting and sensuous to make, and tastes like heaven with its pure flavors. Everyone I have introduced it to has adopted it like a family member.

Robyn: What is one ingredient you can’t live without?
Mel: Can’t live or cook without … salt. Yikes, bad, I know. I grew up and learned to cook in a house without salt, so when I left home I had that typical indulgence and fervor for what was forbidden. I have a collection of many fun and lovely types of salt. I use them sparingly, but really love how they play with flavor.

Robyn: What inspires you in the kitchen?
Mel: I’m inspired by the personality of food–by the color, shape, fragrance, flavor of local produce. I’m inspired by farmers who grow heirloom varieties of food that are infused with quirky personality. A pink, uniform, mealy supermarket tomato in winter leaves me flat as a pancake–a knobby, groovy, charismatic, juicy, sweet summer heirloom tomato from the greenmarket makes me want to write poetry.

Robyn: What is one little-known fact about you?
Mel: Little known fact? Well, since we’re talking food … I used to eat raw, live slugs in the garden when I was a toddler. Cute, right?

Slugs aside, here are five of Mel’s favorite recipes. Try one tonight!

Butternut Squash Lasagna
Lovely white lasagna, gooey with a bit of cheese and speckled with chunks of caramelized butternut squash, golden raisins and toasted pine nuts.

Beauty Queen Chili
A yummy, colorful, seasonal, vegetarian chili.

Corn Spoonbread
With cornmeal and crunchy fresh corn, this has more texture than a refined cheese souffle, and it is just so easy and yummy.

Pumpkin Tamales
With white beans, goat cheese and dried cherry mole sauce, these pumpkin tamales will spice up your day.

And don’t forget dessert! Clementine Cake
This may be the world’s easiest cake to make–and one that never fails to elicit oohs, ahs, and recipe requests.

Mel is a Brooklyn mom with two daughters and a menagerie of pets. In addition to food and recipes, she writes about animals, family life, health, beauty and more for Care2 Healthy & Green Living, so she’s really a woman juggling more than just pots and pans.

Learn more about Mel here.


May Howie
may Howie6 years ago


Jennifer C.
Past Member 6 years ago

Excellent article. Love the healthy recipes. Thanks for sharing.

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Elaine Dixon
Elaine Dixon8 years ago

I liked all the comments they where really tasteful and the one about salt, I really liked that, because salt is a no no to a lot of people me another but I have to have it in my food, food isn't food with out salt, and you die hard spice lovers are not going to change my mind about salt.

Edna J.
Edna J.9 years ago

I tried the clementine cake recipe last night and it was so yummy! I'm gonna make it for my guests this weekend.
Thanks for the super recipes Mel, especially all of the vegan and vegetarian ones. I'm gonna send you a green star!