Dr. Neal Barnard on Balancing Hormones with a Plant Based Diet + Plant Based Spinach Artichoke Dip


Neal Barnard, MD, FACC (Fellowship of the American College of Cardiology), is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

He has led numerous research studies that have evaluated the effects of diet on diabetes, body weight, and chronic pain, including a groundbreaking study of dietary interventions in type 2 diabetes, funded by the National Institutes of Health. This study paved the way for viewing type 2 diabetes as a potentially reversible condition for many patients.

Dr. Barnard has written over 90 scientific publications and 20 books, including his newest book, Your Body in Balance. As if that wasn’t enough, he is also the editor-in-chief of the Nutrition Guide for Clinicians, a free textbook and mobile app made available to all U.S. medical students.

Dr. Barnard is an advocate for preventive medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research. His research contributed to the acceptance of plant based diets in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In 2015, he was named a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. In 2016, he founded the Barnard Medical Center in Washington, D.C., as a model for making nutrition a routine part of all medical care.

Back in 2017, I talked with Dr. Barnard all about cheese.

It was a privilege to talk with him again. We covered everything from carbophobia, to the impact of a low oil, whole food plant based diet on diabetes, to fertility, and even how diet affects menstrual cramps. I also asked him about ideal cholesterol and A1C numbers.

Our talk is jam-packed with information, and it’s sure to leave you inspired to either start eating more plant based or keep going with the plant based eating you’ve already embraced.

Thank you Dr. Barnard for having this talk with me!

Check out our Oil-free Whole Food Plant Based Weekly Meal Plans here.

Find out more about Dr. Barnard here.

What was one ah-ha moment you had during this video? Talk to us in the comments below and let’s keep this convo going!

Plant Based Spinach Artichoke Dip

Makes 1 8x8x2 baking dish
Author: Molly Patrick


  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 10 minutes (130 g)
  • 1 ½ cups cups yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced (180 g)
  • 1 cup unsweetened, non-dairy milk (235 ml)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and left whole (2 teaspoons minced)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper (about 10 turns)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 can (14 oz / 396 g) artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and coarsely chopped (packaged in water, not oil)
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped (60 g / already washed)


  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.
  • Add the onions and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaporated from the onions. Add a splash of water and scrape up any stuck bits from the bottom of your skillet. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes, stirring often and adding a splash of water every time the onions stick or the bottom of the skillet gets brown. After 20 minutes, your onions should be nice and golden brown in color. If your onions aren’t quite golden after 20 minutes, continue to cook an additional 5 – 10 minutes, stirring often, and you should be good to go.
  • Drain the cashews (discard soaking water) and place them into your blender, along with the non-dairy milk, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Blend until creamy and smooth then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked onions, chopped artichoke hearts and chopped spinach and stir well.
  • Pour the mixture into your baking dish.

Baking Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 °F (205 °C).
  • When your oven reaches temperature, place the baking dish in your oven, uncovered, and bake for 20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.


The pictured chips are made from Food for Life Sprouted Corn tortillas. Want to make your own? Click here.

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with eating plants.


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Our Sweary Saturday Love Letters are written by our ex-boozer, ex-smoker, plant-loving co-founder, Molly Patrick.


  1. Christina on February 8, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Looks yummy! Must try! Step 4 of the instructions calls for putting the unbaked dish in the refrigerator. Is that a required step to help the ingredients set up properly? If so, how long should the unbaked dish be refrigerated before baking? Thnx!

    • Molly Patrick on February 8, 2020 at 9:40 am

      I just updated the recipe!
      This recipe was in meal plan format and I didn’t realize until your comment, so thank you!
      It is clear now.

  2. TRISH BUTTLEMAN on February 8, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    I missed what was said that a good Hdl was ?
    Thank you

    • Elizabeth on February 8, 2020 at 8:02 pm

      He said that people with a naturally high HDL have some protective factor going on, but raising HDL through medicines or diet doesn’t seem to help at all.

  3. Lesley Nicol on February 8, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    Great conversation with Dr Barnard. I learned some things I didn’t know. Thank you for this.

    • Molly Patrick on February 12, 2020 at 11:12 pm

      I’m so glad you liked it, Lesley!

  4. Tessa Decker on February 8, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Molly, this is a great conversation with Dr. Barnard! It’s packed with so much useful information. I plan to share this convo with all my family and friends. Excited to try this spinach artichoke dip too! Thank you Molly!!!

    • Molly Patrick on February 12, 2020 at 11:12 pm

      You are most welcome, Tessa!
      So glad you enjoyed it. Yes, you MUST try this recipe. It is CRAZY good.

  5. Sue Serpico on February 8, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks, Molly, for sharing this excellent interview with Dr. Barnard. Ah-ha moment – when Dr. Barnard clearly explained why a high-fat diet results in elevated blood glucose and A1C levels. The impact of diet on hormones and mood was also very enlightening. Thanks again, for providing access to this information!

    • Molly Patrick on February 12, 2020 at 11:11 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it Sue!
      Isn’t the body remarkable? Plants for the win!

  6. Nancy Tucker on February 9, 2020 at 5:42 am

    Great talk with Dr. Barnard. I have several of his books. Love him. I am pre-diabetic. One of the many reasons I went plant based is what he said about diabetes and animal fat.

  7. Carole on February 10, 2020 at 5:21 am

    This was an awesome conversation with Dr. Bernard. While I know all this information he presented to be very true, it is always good to hear it again. I appreciate the support you give us, Molly, and the experts you bring in really keep me on track. It is hard living with non-plant based people. I just want to give in and give up most days. This interview really helped me remember my “why”. While I want to “save” my family from the effects of an unhealthy, fatty diet, I know that I can’t. They can only change if they want to. When they are tired of feeling sluggish, tired, fat, crampy, and just down right miserable, I’ll be here to share my knowledge and delicious way of eating. Thank you, Molly.

  8. Melissa on February 10, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Wow, this video was educational! I shared it with 2 family members. I have to say my monthly mentrual cramps ALSO disappeared when I started eating whole food plant based, Molly – and the first month I went crazy while traveling, all the cramps returned. So, now I’m telling my friends.

    And, this recipe looks soooo yummy! Question about nooch. It gives me migraines – I’ve tried it a few times, in very small quantities and each time the headaches come on faster. So, if I want to leave it out of these kinds of recipes, do you think the recipes will still be yummy?

    And, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being you!!

    • Stephanie Campbell on February 10, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Hi Melissa! That’s awesome about sharing your positive experiences with your loved ones. We’re all about spreading the love.

      As far as the nutritional yeast is concerned, some of our Facebook members with sensitivities have had success using non-fortified nooch in their recipes. But if you’d rather just leave it out, you definitely can. The final product won’t be as “cheesy” but it should still be very tasty. Good luck and high fives!

      • Melissa Stroup on February 15, 2020 at 6:23 am

        Oh thank you for that tip! I’ll try non-fortified. I’ll be so happy if that works for me, so many yummy recipes use nooch!

        • Colleen on February 18, 2020 at 12:18 pm

          Hi! Just wanted to say, don’t be afraid to try any of the recipes containing nooch because you can easily substitute miso to get a salty, umami type flavor that is soooo close to cheesy! I do this all of the time because my hubby really can’t stand the taste of nooch and I posted on FB a while back and miso was the most recommended replacement for nooch. I typically just add a bit to taste, and it’s wonderful!
          Hope this helps. 🙂

  9. Pamela Patrick on February 12, 2020 at 6:46 am

    Thank you Molly for sharing this information packed interview! Dr. Barnard breaks it down into easily understood pieces that support better food choices. I want to reiterate what he said at the end of your interview, “Thank you for the work that you do!” My love and gratitude to you and the CFDG team who provide the information, encouragement, recipes, support, energy and pathway to better health through plant based DELICIOUS nutrition! And, I was so glad that Panthy could make an appearance!

  10. Kim Williamson on February 13, 2020 at 8:21 pm

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! I’ve made it from the meal plan for multiple parties and everyone (plant-based and omni) loves it.

    Wonderful video, jam-packed with great info! Thank you for all you do!

  11. Elaine on February 14, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    5 stars
    First off, I made the artichoke dip tonight and it was amazing!

    Second, I loved this interview and have listened to it twice now, lol. This confirms that I am not crazy in thinking that my lingering pre-menopausal cramps and PMS went away due to plants, and even that the beginning of hot flashes stopped.
    Dang hormones….every woman needs to hear this message ❤

  12. Morgaine on February 22, 2020 at 5:28 am

    I just wanted say, I was raised on a very healthy diet, did same with my daughter. What makes it so difficult now, is many herbs and veggies are labeled organic, but in fact are GMO. When you try to tell people, they say…”It can’t be labeled organic if it’s GMO!” Falls on deaf ears. In health food stores as well. Fresh organic Rosemary, zero smell, even with rubbing the plant. GMO tastes like cardboard. Unless one has property to grow, or has a trusted source, where are we to get edible plant based food? Almonds, because of several deaths and illness, they had the excuse to pasteurize most all crops. Meaning, they won’t sprout for enzymes or get much flavor. I have foraged wild for years, and sooooo look forward to healthy delicious plants. Plantain with rounded leaves has a hint of Arugala taste. Stinging Nettles, highest mineral content. I juice a lot of this and freeze in portions. You know this, but just sayin. Thanks for all of your effort in sharing, and to help make change for a better world!

  13. Shauna on March 5, 2020 at 7:41 am

    Oh man I LOVE spinach artichoke dip but I’ve only ever made it vegan using store bought dairy substitutions, which I’d prefer to avoid. Do you think this would work in a crockpot?

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Steph on March 5, 2020 at 8:24 am

      Hi Shauna! We haven’t tested it in a crockpot but you’re welcome to try. Let us know how it goes. 😀

  14. Tanja on April 14, 2020 at 4:37 am

    Hello, I would like to change cashews for something else (our little girl is really allergic to cashews). What would you recommend to use instead, big white beans? And thank you for this website and all these recipes! Br Tanja

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on April 14, 2020 at 11:31 am

      Hi Tanja! White beans of any sort will work here. Because cashews add more fat than beans will, if your daughter is ok with them, you could include hemp seeds (no need to soak them – they are too small to soak really and soft already) to add some of the fat that would be lost with omitting cashews. The recipe will work just fine with beans, though! ~Karen

      • Suzanne on January 1, 2023 at 6:12 am

        I make this every year for NYE. It is part of our family party food for dinner tradition. I used chickpeas last night b/c we didn’t have cashews. Just as powerfully tasty but not as thick and creamy. Still a great dip.

  15. Anna on April 1, 2024 at 11:04 am

    5 stars
    yummmmmmmmmmmmm thank you! I tried the no oil, onion frying but didn’t have the patience to do it for 35 minutes. also, I added water pretty much right away because they were sticking right away–so I need more onion frying practice!

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