"Reinventing Indulgence" One meal at a time!

Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Vegan surprises in Bath England

I really should blog my vegan travels more often. Last year for my birthday I was in Amsterdam and Berlin. I will say that although I didn’t blog it because I was probably too busy eating, that dining in Berlin completely exceeded my expectations. I would still like to reflect back with a photo journal of that week for my vegan travel records. Perhaps, it too will be handy for the vegan tourist who like me, will travel far for vegan food.

IMG_2367This time it is about falafel. Surprise #1- I had the best vegan falafel ever! Today it wasn’t about me..  just about finding a spot which served some late breakfast and was somewhat veggie friendly. We stumbled onto this cozy cafe upstairs from a local shop. Somewhere back in my service industry work experiences, I recall learning about the 30 second rule. This is a rule of thumb for a business to welcome or acknowledge you within the first thirty seconds or they could potentially lose business. Well “Americana me” shouldn’t share that with a Brit. Next thing I know the conversation switches to how we are in England not America – and especially not in New York.  Ok fine, I admit that I’m an on-the-go New Yorker with a lack of patience – guilty as charged! It’s true too that I’m on vacation and totally not in a rush. I’ll keep my service industry comments to myself. Lol. The service picked up and they were not only super polite but also extremely accommodating.

I ordered direct off the menu – a vegan falafel. This was the best falafel I have ever had. Being a New Yorker, I think I’m a pretty good judge of falafel. I didn’t ask for this “veganized” since it already was. The falafel sandwich was made with a shaved carrot, radish or cabbage finish and this amazing secret sweet chili sauce. Really wonderful flavor; something like a chutney- they should bottle that dressing alone.

IMG_2365Not that we were competing today but.. I WIN! My friend had a beautiful vegetarian frittata, although it looked something between a quiche and a potato lasagna.  The best part was that when my friend wanted a coke but couldn’t get the waiter’s attention, her British self actually had to eventually get up and get her hehe. Patience! I did get a chuckle. This place I believe was pretty much a vegetarian cafe. They didn’t have any vegan desserts but they are working on it. They had lots of gluten-free options as well soya milk for a latte. Metropolitan Cafe, Bath, England well worth the wait!

During our after lunch stroll around town, I found myself literally being pulled into the Fudge Kitchenfrom the aroma and interesting views through the window. They make the fudge right there in front of you. Of course me… IS IT VEGAN?

I must admit tIMG_2518hat I get somewhat disappointed when places don’t have vegan options. With all of today’s allergies, is it really that difficult to offer something milk free, for example. It’s not just for vegans but most of the world actually is lactose intolerant.

Anyway, I politely make my requests and was thrilled with excitement over his answer;  the gentleman said – sure I can make that fudge dairy free, which one would you like? Like a kid literally in a candy store, I jumped up like a rocket with “Salted Caramel PLEASE”.


IMG_2522Surprise #2 – Salted Caramel Fudge veganized.
The next day we picked it up and I was on a sugar high until it was completely out of my system. I’m good now for another year to my next birthday.

Vegan day 327: Vegan Pumpkin Pie

By the time one searches for a real vegan pie.. 
one could make it themselves!
Unless of course you live next to a vegan bakery! 

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m pretty sure it will be hard to sit through a dining room filled with desserts like pumpkin pie, pecan pie and blueberry crumb pie! Instead of waiting out the torture and getting upset that most bakeries do not know how to (nor care how to) prepare a dessert without butter, butter and more butter lol.. not too mention milk and eggs,— I will just be quiet and make my own. In retrospect, had I known it would be so easy, I probably would have started baking a long time ago. 

I didn’t even waste time researching. I googled and took the first recipe that popped up on my phone. 

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/desertrecipes/r/tofupumpkinpie.htm
Recipe as per Jolinda Hackett (About.com)

3/4 silken tofu package
1 can organic pumpkin (16oz)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg – could have been the key ingredient that put this over-the-top delicious!
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil – That was tricky.. what should I use? I used mostly coconut oil and the rest earth balance vegan buttery spread.
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of organic sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses – I used pure organic maple syrup
1 pre-made vegan pie crust – Yes I needed a shortcut today!

For once, I followed the recipe! I mixed all the ingredients in a food processor and then poured it into the pie crust. I baked it at 350 degrees until it stopped jiggling – about an hour!

The true test was my more than honest 16 year old nephew. He will simply tell it like it is.. vegan or not vegan. He did a side by side comparison with the typical pumpkin pie. He liked mine better.. I think we decided it was the nutmeg. It just had more flavor. Yay! Happy Thanksgiving!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Thursday, November 22nd 2012 blog]

Vegan day 321: Raw Key Lime Pie

I love KEY LIME PIE!
Not such an easy thing to replicate, however, this recipe is probably close EXCEPT that I’m sure I messed something up. It didn’t look good for sure. The pecan crust was amazing of course but the filling was a bit more challenging. I think I went avocado crazy lol. It’s really a shame that I made a mistake because the ingredients are all delicious and nutritious!

The recipe is from RAWSOME by Brigitte Mars:
First of all, I need bakeware! I honestly don’t even know what pie tins, glass pie plates or springform pans look like. Well, I just ordered a springform pan today so now I actually know. I bought that for the cheesecake that we made yesterday. I have to keep doing these recipes until I get them right!


Check out all the fabulous and RAW VEGAN ingredients here:

CRUST
2 cups pecans soaked overnight, rinsed and dehydrated until crunchy
1/2 cup of dates soaked for 20 minutes

FILLING
1 avocado- I am guessing now- NOT a giant size one
1/2 cup coconut water
Coconut meat- about the amount of one young coconut
1/3 cup lime juice
Grated peel of half an organic lime
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon celtic salt
1/2 cup dates soaked for 20 minutes
2 tablespoons of flaxseeds

1st make the crust: Combine the pecans and dates in a food processor and mix. Press the mixture into a glass pie plate. I worked with what I had and the crust was delicious. 

Next, combine all the filling ingredients into a food processor and puree. I’m guessing I didn’t puree long enough plus I used too much avocado. Pour the filling over the crust and chill for one hours. 

As soon as I come across a glass pie plate, I’m going to try this again!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Friday, November 16th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 320: Lemon Tofu Cheesecake

Call me lucky! After yesterday’s blog- learning all about the Art and Technique of Homemade Tofu, I was fortunate to get the project of making the cheesecake. Our class broke into groups for different recipes:

(1) Lemon Tofu Cheesecake
(2) Spicy hashed bean curd and pepitas
(3) Crispy pressed tofu with garlic and mint
(4) Seared tofu with spicy black beans and mango salsa

It’s no secret by now that I love my sweets and desserts. I have however, been slowly coming to the realization that I must someday release these. Sugar is not only an addiction.. but also a drug. Sugar has many faces and nicknames as well. As I am transitioning, the best I can do is prepare desserts with the best forms of sweetness that I can find. That being said, I am thrilled to have the assignment of cheesecake since it is my most favorite dessert!

Lemon Tofu Cheesecake
(from Peter Berley, Natural Gourmet Institute for Food & Health)

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons canola oil
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:
2lbs extra firm tofu
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon agar flakes
1 cup of cold water
2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder
3/4 cup soy milk

Procedure:
We made the crust first- it was simple: 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Combine wet crust ingredients together and then the dry crust ingredients separately- stir each well and then mix the wet and dry together 
  • Press the dough into a lightly greased 9 inch spring form cake pan
  • Bake until golden brown – about 18 minutes. We didn’t have time in class for the filling to chill completely in the pie form so we made graham crackers with the crust ingredients instead. We scored it with a knife ahead of time so we knew where to break them. 
  • For the filling, we blended the tofu, oil, maple syrup, salt, lemon juice, zest and vanilla in a food processor until creamy.
  • Next we combined the agar and cold water in a sauce pan and simmered until the flakes dissolved. 
  • In a small separate bowl, we dissolved the arrowroot in the soy milk, and then added it to the simmering pan. We cooked this over medium heat until the mixture thickened and started to bubble. 
  • Add this mixture to the food processor batch and blend smooth.
  • Pour tofu mixture into the pie crust or small dessert dishes like we did. Chill for at least an hour.
  • When using the 9 inch spring form cake pan, run a knife around the cheesecake before releasing the spring.

ENJOY!

Other dishes my class made with the tofu prepared from yesterday’s blog:

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Thursday, November 15th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 304: Raw Vegan Apple Pie

It’s APPLE SEASON so I did have to make a few apple pies! There is a difference between vegan apple pie and raw vegan apple pie! Obviously, raw is not cooked! 


I needed the warm apple pie feeling yesterday to calm my anxiety about the hurricane which was and still is a nightmare for many of my friends, families, neighbors; their pets too, businesses, transportation and structures. 

The cooking went on or un-cooking I should say. I am so grateful that I have power. I had originally wanted to make this recipe first- now I was ready. I soaked the almonds for two days and then went right into my mistake. I was to grind the drained nuts and dates. Perhaps I should have used a food processor but instead I used my Montel Healthmaster which resembles almost a Vitamix. I added enough water so that it would mix. I guess I should not have done that because now it was too moist. I set the mix in a pie tray and dehydrated it for a few hours but that didn’t help. I later caved in and committed a raw vegan cardinal sin. I baked it. It was good lol I’m sorry and I will try try again! I know I ruined it as far as raw goes. The enzymes are lost in cooking and the benefits of the essential fatty acids in the nuts were gone. I could have eaten it raw- it would have been like a cinnamon apple oatmeal with maple syrup. I didn’t though.

The filling was similar to yesterday: apples, sucanat, maple syrup, lemon juice and cinnamon.

The crust was almonds (2 cups soaked, drained and crushed) and dates 1 1/2 cups (soaked, drained and crushed). 


Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Tuesday, October 30th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 303: Vegan Apple Pie

Vegan Apple Pie

I made this on Sunday and writing about it now. It’s been a crazy few days due to Hurricane Sandy. The news shows are here to help us but it’s really easy to get caught up in it and become overwhelmed. I made this pie on Sunday afternoon.. my anxiety was sky high. Some how, some way.. there is something about warm apple pie that no amount of calming medicine can come close to achieving. As my windows were shaking, trees blowing and branches falling, I was amazed that I could even focus on the recipes long enough. I’m pretty sure actually that I messed up a few things. 

I followed a few recipes online. First, I will say that I have never even made a pie. After researching a few different recipes, I got the direction that I wanted to go in. I was surprised not to see eggs included in some of the recipes nor egg replacers or flax. You see, I really don’t know what I am doing.. lol perhaps I should take a vegan pie making class. They have them at the Gourmet Institute. Perhaps not though, because they are not fat and sugar free at all! 

The ingredient list that I ended up using:
I doubled this recipe for two pies!

Crust

Whole wheat flour 2 cups
Almond meal flour 1/2 cup
Baking powder 1 tablespoon
Salt
Dates 1 cup
Cold water
BUTTER BUTTER BUTTER- Earth balance buttery spread of course (1 cup)

Filling
Apples (4)
Maple syrup (1/2 cup)
Sucanat whole cane sugar (sprinkle on top of apples)
Lemon juice 1 tablespoon
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Whole wheat flour

I used almond meal flour simply because I had it. I make my own sometimes with the almond pulp left over from when I make my own almond milk. I dehydrate it and then grind it. You don’t have to do all that- you can simply use whole wheat flour and even some unbleached white flour if you must. I mixed together the dry ingredients for the crust and then added the  . This is where I may have messed up. I used all of the dates here but I think some were for the filling. In any case, I used those ingredients interchangeably – dates, maple syrup   and sucanat. Use pitted dates if you can or be sure to take the pit out yourself. You can soak them first or after. Be sure to let them sit for about 20 minutes. Date paste is when you grind the soaked dates with some of the soak water for a smoother consistency using a food processor. 

Cold water- what’s that all about and COLD BUTTER? This is critical. I actually had to watch a youTube video for the how to. The idea is to achieve a flaky crust. You mix in the ice cold water and very cold butter.  Don’t let it melt is the point. Leave it flaky looking. I really couldn’t believe HOW MUCH BUTTER I HAD TO USE. THIS IS TOTALLY FATTENING- VEGAN OR NOT!
This too is when I realize I need a rolling pin
Set the pie crust in a pie tin. You need to roll out more batter for the top of the pie too. Mine is not pretty. That’s for advanced pie making lol. I am lucky I made the pie even look like a pie.

Next for the fun filling. Trying not to eat these as I made it was difficult. We cut the apples into thin slices. Then I added lemon juice, maple syrup, some sucanat and spice. Mix that nicely and use it to fill the crust. Lastly, use the remaining batter for the top of the pie and then glaze it with a couple of tablespoons of nut milk and sucanat. 

I baked this at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. It helped reduce my pre-hurricane anxiety. It was perfectly delicious especially with the cashewtopia ice cream on top!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Monday, October 29th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 302: Pineapple and chocolate

Why didn’t I make chocolate covered pineapple like you would see at a street fair… or at a chocolate party with dripping fountains of chocolate and endless fruit. Have you ever been to one of those parties? I have once and only once but oh if I could go again I would be in heaven- well only if it was a vegan chocolate party! Now I’m getting carried away! 

Two of my “almost daily” favorites are pineapples and chocolate hands down! It’s strange in a way to eat pineapple everyday- it’s certainly not a local fruit so it’s not really necessary but I do confess that I love it. What I like about pineapple health wise is the enzyme bromelain. It’s known for it’s anti-inflammatory benefits. Personally, I often eat the pineapple saving the last piece for my skin. I use it directly on my face. Kids don’t try this at home.. lol as if any kids read my page. I actually wish I knew this as a kid! Seriously though, always test something on a small patch of skin first before trying it. I, on the other hand, am very adventurous. I try things first and research fully second! If you have time- this blog has a few different ideas for raw food skin maskshttp://vegetarian.about.com/od/beverage1/a/raw-skin-care.htm

For more information on pineapples, check out one of my favorite informative sites on whole foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=34

As for chocolate and even chocolate mousse like in the picture, I have spoken about it many times! I love my chocolate.. mostly because I can still eat it as long as it’s vegan dark chocolate. Of course as with most rich and indulgent foods, one has to exercise restraint and portion control.. and actually straight up exercise will help too if you are going to eat it a few times a week like me! I have had this chocolate mousse on my brain a lot lately as I just blogged it recently and am continuing to perfect it! 

This is a cute mini-meal morning, noon or night!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Sunday, October 28th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 297: Chocolate Avocado Mousse

This is the closest thing I have seen yet to VEGAN MAGIC!
This is a recipe that I learned firsthand in the LIVING AND RAW FOOD INTENSIVE at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. I love desserts and I love chocolate. When our chef, Celine Beitchman, said this was made with avocados- I was completely puzzled. After we made it and tasted it, I was even more amazed as I sat there in bewilderment.. a healthy chocolate wonderland.


Renee’s Chocolate Avocado Mousse
Avocado- 2 cups
Maple syrup- 1/2 cup
Organic sugar- 2-4 tablespoons (optional)
Coconut butter unscented- 2 tablespoons (optional)
Vanilla bean seeds- cut open one whole bean
Aged balsamic vinegar- 1 teaspoon
Shoyu- 1/2 teaspoon
Cocoa powder unsweetened- 1 cup

Raspberries
Mint leaves
Cacao nibs

This is quite simple!
Using a food processor: mix the avocado, maple syrup, optional ingredients, vanilla bean, balsamic and shoyu. Add in the cocoa powder; blend until you have the consistency you want and then chill it if you can wait that long to eat it. The only advice you really need here is to be careful tasting it. You will be so tempted not to wait that you may want to dive in near the blade. Use a spatula and have fun! Kids will love this!

Even though this dessert looks looks good without INSTAGRAM, feel free to check out my INSTAGRAM for fun! https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.3005383461754.2117441.1477431979&type=3
or join me direct VITAMINGEE

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Tuesday, October 23rd 2012 blog]

Vegan day 262: Cupcakes from Vegan Treats

Of course, I am one of those people who celebrate my birthday all week… and why not? Oh.. I know– when all is said and done, I will really have to go on a FULL SUGAR DETOX and I am so not kidding.

 
I ordered my cupcakes from VEGAN TREATS along with my birthday cake and had to pick them up along their delivery route. Vegan Treats delivers to many NYC and Brooklyn restaurants. It’s my personal opinion that they are most famous for their incredible peanut butter bomb

The plan was to save the cupcakes for a few days later but I had to post the picture right away since they may not last until my other birthday celebration. 
This time it was suppose to be all about the peanut butter bomb mini cupcakes– it was the first thing I ordered. From there I moved on to other flavors and my birthday cake. I was tempted to get all peanut butter since that is my all time VEGAN TREATS favorite! I made room in my mind anyway for a few other flavors- I went with SMORES, RED VELVET and a black bottom cream cheese filling type. Red Velvet is another strong contender for favorite cupcake status. They called to verify a few things with my order the day before delivery. Unfortunately, I missed that call and ended up with everything EXCEPT the peanut butter. Normally, this would get my mood going in the opposite direction. Their cupcakes though… they are THAT GOOD and besides, I totally would have eaten them all anyway. The cupcakes were amazing! I’m good for a while now! 
 
Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.
[Tuesday, September 18th 2012 blog]
 

Vegan day 261: Birthday cake from VEGAN TREATS

BIRTHDAY CAKE!

Speaking of birthdays— mine is in September! The 22nd to be exact and yes this blog is behind.. again! Remind me to NEVER do a DAILY blog ever again!

 
Every year for many years my Mom would make me strawberry shortcake for my birthday. There was never a question of what I wanted and she of course made it THE BEST- because only a Mom can make a cake with all that motherly love built in! That really is my favorite, although I also used to be a fan of ice cream cakes as well. My early committments to eating healthy (only 3 years ago) began with no white flour.. but lets be real. I was talking about bread.. as if that’s not enough. I wasn’t talking about cake – let alone birthday cake. People love to correct me… asking “is that healthy?” I would end up saying exactly what they wanted to hear.. “I can make an excemption for birthday cake.” And honestly.. I can! Perhaps I should say that “I COULD” because now that I’m vegan- I WON’T! Flour is one thing .. milk, butter and eggs are another! Funny, it used to be the other way around. I’m happy to stand strong now though… now, its really all bout the animals and the system.
 
To get right to the point- with VEGAN TREATS and other vegan bakeries, one no longer has to make those sacrifices. Actually… its quite the reverse! It’s my birthday and I can have all the cake I want!
I went out of my way to order my birthday cake (VEGAN STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE) this year from the Philly based delicious and untouchable: VEGAN TREATS. Actually.. it’s located in Bethlehem, Philadelphia. I also ordered cupcakes- tell you about that tomorrow!
 
Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.
[Monday, September 17th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 198: Immune-Enhancing Herbal Truffles

This was an assignment for my herbology class at ACHS. We are studying diaphoretic herbs of which there are two types: Stimulating and relaxing. “Stimulating” diaphoretic herbs affect the nerves to the sudoriferous glands resulting in an increase in perspiration. “Relaxing” diaphoretic herbs affect the periphery sensory nerves which then dilate the capillaries and blood vessels. This increased blood flow results too in increased perspiration. (ACHS 2012). Overall, diaphoretic herbs are used to promote sweating. There are also helpful in reducing a fever.  Two of these herbs, astragalus and elderberry, are used in this formula which is a popular recipe to help people to prevent colds and flu during these seasons. Astragalus has been used as an immune tonic for centuries. It is helpful for colds and flu due to it’s immune building properties and it’s warming/ stimulating diaphoretic properties. Diaphoretic herbs are contraindicated with cathartic herbs which could result in an excessive loss of fluid. Cathartic herbs are used for elimination purposes purging the body and intestines of toxins. These are used as laxatives and in colon cleanses. Elderberry is popular for colds and flu due to it’s flavonoid and vitamin C content. It’s also a stimulating diaphoretic and therefore, commonly added to cold formulas. “There are many ways of using elderberry, more precisely in antioxidant activity, improvement of vision, lowering cholesterol, improvement of heart health, boosting of immune system, and flu, bacterial and viral infections, colds, tonsilitis and colds.” (The World of Herbs)

 
This formula is from Herbal Recipes for Kids by Jill Stansbury as reprinted in the Herb 201 Study Guide ACHS.
 
Immune-Enhancing Herbal Snacks
I call them Immune-Enhancing Herbal Truffles because I think I got carried away. After taking a raw-living foods class last month at the Gourmet Institute in NYC, I learned how to make truffles. After I made this original recipe, it started to look like that truffle batter so I could’t help but go all the way with the cacao and coconut flake decor.

 

Recipe:
1/4 cup astragalus powder
1/4 cup maca powder
1/4 cup elderberry powder
1/4 cup vitamin C powder
1 cup almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
 
Coconut flakes for dipping
Cacao powder (raw) for final decor or flavor


Process:
I added the dry herbs to a large mixing bowl. I used astragalus powder instead of the bark. I was going to grind the bark pieces I had myself but I have done this before without any luck of getting a very fine powder. Maca is a powerful superfood. I actually added half of the amount since macs is very specialized and expensive. For the elderberry, I used the dried berries from the herb shop and grinded them myself in a coffee grinder. The vitamin C I would do differently next time. I used emergence C packets. I think I less “tart” vitamin C from a vitamin shop may have better results. The almond butter I bought in an organic health food store along with grade B organic maple syrup. I added the coconut flakes and cacao for fun!  

Results:
I couldn’t resist eating one right away! It was more tasty than I thought it would be. The berries and the vitamin C both came through powerfully. I might even use a drop less of both next time. I brought them to work. Some people loved them and others though they were just a bit tart. The vitamin C packets I used were lemon-lime so that could be why. The dosage of 3 to 4 a day during flu and cold season is recommended in the recipe.
*Other favorites of mine for cold and flu purpose would include infusions of yarrow and peppermint or thyme and sage.
 

Reference:
ACHS. 2012. Study Guide HERB 201
World of Herbs. The Benefits of Elderberry. Retrieved from http://worldofherbs.info/tag/diaphoretic

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.
[Monday July 16th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 188: Sliced coconut bananas with cacao

My friends were about to do Pickle Back Shotsyes we are still on a holiday week! They glanced over at me.. some with that “aww you can’t eat or drink” look and others just flat out laughing at me. They were snacking and getting in “shot” mode! I’m like.. don’t even look at me that wayI could drink most of you under the table in one minute flat! This was a lifestyle choice- I could not be happier nor prouder honestly! I’m not going to be swayed nor tempted that easily either. I made it through the BBQ sessions.. I got this! Oh.. and don’t look at me with that pity face.. if you now know that I could drink mostly anyone under the table.. amp that up on the eating end! lol
So while they were laughing at me, I did for what any indulger would do- I called “CHOCOLATE” to the rescue! Not only did she help out but she brought bananas, coconut and strawberries with her. My friends were hardly done with their Pickle Backing when they finished off MY VEGAN SNACKS!
 
This is simply sliced bananas dipped in dried coconut flakes and then arranged with some raw vegan cacao and fresh farm strawberries! 
Yes it was as delicious as it looks! 
 
Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.
[Friday July 6th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 165: Dark Quinoa Organic Chocolate

Vegan 165 days now- my longest record yet and going strong! I don’t think I will ever go back. The best part is… I have chocolate on my side. I never thought I would be the chocolate lover that I have become. You say vegan chocolate and I say nothing… as my senses are already activated- enjoying the magnificent aromas and flavors that the chocolate has to offer. I guess you could say that this is my newest and most proud indulgence to date. Vegan chocolates are widely different too- that’s what makes this whole tasting thing so much fun! It’s the closest thing I have now- it’s comparable to… wine tasting! There should be chocolate tasting events! If they were vegan.. oh my.. I would so be there! If you ever hear of vegan chocolate focus group- suggest me please! And I said focus group… not support group.. lol.. that will come later when I need an intervention! 

My most current favorite, as I may have mentioned here or on my Facebook page- is DARK QUINOA ORGANIC CHOCOLATE by Alter Ego. This one says: nutty toasted quinoa LIGHT CRISPY CRUNCH. This is the closest memory I have to eating Nestle Crunch bars as a kid. 


Have I told you before that I was really all about the candy as a kid and HALLOWEEN was my holiday! I was ready with a big pillow case and I wouldn’t return home until it was 3/4 full. I was on a mission. It wasn’t about the costumes- it was about the candy. The evening would end with a mass trading session with my brothers. Believe it or not I TRADED IN ALL THE CHOCOLATE BACK THEN! I liked real candy type candy like starbursts, skittles, gummies, bubble gum and the likes – of which all are probably not vegan or completely artificial! Those are the ones I stay clear of. In any case- my pillow case today would be full of chocolate if I were to hit the streets.. lol. Luckily, it’s my second busiest day of the year at work so no trick or treating for me! If you want to make my day though- this will bring big smiles. 
The only thing is portion control. This should be treated as a luxury item… it’s not a whole food! The label says 2 servings per container at 220 calories each. it’s a bit high at 9 grams of saturated fat and 20 grams of sugars. I have to cut this portion in half or more. Quinoa is not the main ingredient- sugar is– of course! The quinoa is used for the crisps. In any case- it’s vegan, contains no soy or gluten, GMO free and has no artificial flavors! 
Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.
[Wednesday June 13th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 139: STOGO (Ice Cream) NYC

Yes it’s been an East Village kind of week! One more stop before I go to work after having some vegan pizza at Viva Herbal Pizzeria – it was  onto STOGO for the first time! Stogo is an ice cream shop that keeps popping up in my Happy Cow App on my phone! The other night, while out and about in the East Village, I ran into the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. This is what started my ice cream craving- the line was out the door. I peaked into the cute shop, looked around and wondered to myself… that’s nice BUT IS IT VEGAN? lol I don’t care if it’s gay.. lol I want vegan ice cream! I was so happy to find STOGO- like a kid who just chased down an ice cream truck after running 3 blocks! Did you ever wonder why the ice cream truck jingle has never changed? I think about things like that- I mean there are far catchier songs and jingles but it’s just untouched! It reminds me of singing “Happy Birthday”… why do some things never change? Change is good! lol


Unfortunately… or fortunately for me, there was no line! STOGO is gourmet organic dairy-free ice cream. The SALTED CARMEL PECAN is what I tested right away– immediately, I was like YES YES YES.. that’s the one I want! It was simply incredible. Honestly, it was even better than my favorite Baskin & Robbins Ice Cream flavors- pralines & cream and butter pecan! It was too good to be true, which reminds me that I wanted a six pack last year but all this sugar is giving me a belly. I just went to both of my doctors last week for routine check ups. I asked both if there was anything wrong with my stomach or my ovaries because I have this belly fat that won’t quit- it’s getting worse (a little bit lol). I heard those dreadful words that I cursed for 20 years- “diet and exercise”! I’m like “really.. cut me some slack”.. I lost 50 lbs– does it ever stop? No, not really! I mean could I get lipo to remove this belly fat and love handles? Sure.. but it kind of goes against everything I believe in for myself. I believe the body talks to us- 
mine is saying STOP EATING SUGAR! lol If she was wrong.. perhaps I would consider the LIPO to remove excess fat but the body is generally not wrong! Our only problem and mine personally is that we/ I don’t listen!


So this mean’s cutting my sweets in half or saying NO occasionally
“JUST SAY NO to drugs and alcohol” is something we repeatedly say to the kids. We don’t think of SUGAR as a drug but let me tell you something… IT IS! I will post some really informative video links below about sugar. 


So back to my vegan six pack which I want but am not close to lol- it’s going to take tightening up the diet and more core work at the gym.. and more abs!
Here are a few links that I will checking out and following!
Marzia Prince
Marcella Torres
Robert Cheeke
Derek Tresize
Brandon Brazier
Kenneth G. Williams























Famous Vegetarian or VEGAN Bodybuilders Athletes


VIDEO LINKS:
The Hidden Story of Big Sugar
Sugar: The Bitter Truth  


Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Friday May 18th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 132: Chocolate ice cream (silken tofu)

Often we pick up things from unlikely sources. Well.. as far as I’m concerned- anyone who can cook or prepare anything .. is a mentor for me! I just didn’t expect to hear about recipes from a young non-vegan “party girl” with just one too many vodka drinks in her.. and over loud music.. in the dj booth! But hey.. this is how we roll sometimes! I’ll talk vegan anywhere– anytime!
 
So I checked out the recipes that she somehow remembered to send me lol- thanks Ioana!
Chocolate ice cream… in less then 5 lines of my email– I am all about that! I never cared for chocolate ice cream as a kid and I never really ate chocolate for that matter either. I was more of a straight sugar shooter! Vanilla ice cream, sherbets, ices and hard core candy! Now that I can eat chocolate- it has become a staple in my diet- not just plain dark chocolate bar bites but also chocolate in shakes and desserts. 
So now I hear chocolate ice cream- I resisted at first and then said… “why not” .. I like chocolate now!
 
Well.. all I have to say is I’m very IMPRESSED!
This simple recipe worked and I ate the whole thing with a little help of course. 
 
Silken tofu- one package 16oz
Unsweetened cocoa powder 4T
Vegan sugar 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract to taste
 
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend away! Taste it and add more of the ingredients if necessary. Mine came out perfect on the first try. Freeze it in a container. The recipe says to stir it every 45 minutes during the first 3 hours in the freezer. I only stirred mine twice. 
 
 
I was anxiously waiting to just drop the ice cream on top of a bed of strawberries when my friend who helped me with the polenta said.. hey.. “plating”! So she gets credit there and as for me.. I’m still learning. 
Honestly, I’m lucky sometimes that I don’t eat it before I photograph it.. that’s where my mind is at.. eating.. not plating! Looks delicious though and it sure was!
 
Notes: 
Oh did you raise an eyebrow when it said vegan sugar?
This brings up debate among vegans I’m sure. Basically, sugar comes from beets and from sugar cane. These are processed differently. Cane sugar uses systems that may use bone char- which is charcoal made from animal bones. Sugar, of course is a story in itself. Check out this site for alternatives!  
 
Reference:
Stepaniak, J. Is Sugar Vegan?
 
The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.
[Friday May 11th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 119: Quantum Leap NYC

After a splurge of tiny vegan restaurants lately, I felt this was going to be another with only a few tables. It’s frustrating to wait for these places with few seatings. It took me a while to get a reservation at Dirt Candy and now I am still waiting for Kajitsu. I felt relieved when I walked in to see that there was actually more room and tables then I had thought. 
 
Quantum Leap is actually not vegan but it is very vegan friendly. They seem to specialize in natural food and veggies burgers. The menu says: VEGETARIAN ~ FISH since 1974! They are located next to NYU in Greenwich Village and are a convenient place to get healthy food without waiting. I saw fish on the menu and then a whole list of burgers but the burgers turned out to be all veggie! This place was just what I was in the mood for! Basic vegan food- not pretentious and with lots of choices!
 
We ordered Vietnamese spring rolls, the Middle Eastern platter and the Seitan satay. The spring rolls were fried! I hate when I order something fried by accident. I’m not saying I would never order anything friend- but it is a goal! I especially would NOT have ordered these if they were fried. For example I’ll save my “fried” card for something like a falafel here and there! The falafel, hummus and tabouli were good. I make really amazing tabouli- not sure if I blogged that yet. The satay was really delicious- the peanut sauce was amazing. 
 
They had vegan desserts on the menu so I just had to try them! We couldn’t agree on one so it quickly became 2 desserts which honestly, were the best part of the meal! Hands down, best coconut tofu pie ever and the second dessert- I can’t recall the exact name but it had bananas in it- EXCELLENT! 
 
I can’t wait to go back for and try the macro platter or one of their many burgers! I’ll try to order better- no fried! The best part is they deliver to my work! I’m so excited!
 
 
Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.
[Saturday April 28th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 117: SWOON Sweets & Savories

Being more of a night person, it’s not the easiest thing to meet people for an early lunch however I finally made it down to the outskirts of Park Slope to meet up with a longtime friend, chef and major fan of all things healthy. Taso of Swoon: Sweets & Savories  began a cup cake business a few years back- mini cupcakes– quite the hit! Taso also has an array of home cooked foods including soups, grains, vegetarian meatballs, sushi and all kinds of incredibly delicious treats. He caters to the health conscious, organic, gluten-free, vegan and sugar free fans. People are most intrigued by his organic ring dings and twinkies. Taso uses mostly organic ingredients and takes time to shop for healthy and non-GMO items. What’s vegan?… Are you thinking what I am? No need too- he always tells me so I really don’t even have to ask: some soups, grains, sushi and snacks like his vegan peanut butter cookies. His vegetarian meatballs were my favorite until I went vegan. His vegan sushi with peanuts is incredible if only he could make more to meet the demand– mine especially! He makes vegan mini-cupcakes whenever requested. He says he has a vegan TWINKIE— I’m not gonna lie.. I’m scared to go back to my Twinkie days.. but maybe I’ll try a bite! 


I arrived at SWOON CAFE which holds space in a fitness center on President Street (TRIUMPH). Before we could even decide what to try, I had already jumped into a coconut water and a delicious hemp protein smoothie made with almond milk. This “milk issue” is probably a big pet peeve for vegans who want to eat and drink on the run. Can’t more stores offer different milks? It’s not as if half the world is not lactose intolerant anyway… ya know? Soy milk is becoming more popular but you know you have found a more health conscious place when there is almond milk available. Thanks Taso for having that! Other options would be oat, hemp, hazelnut and rice milks!   

If you put sweets in front of me- I will eat them first and I did.. but only one. These literally melt in your mouth. Even my pup Sasha was fighting me for them later in the evening (see my short video below!) 
I decided on “California Dreaming”– a sandwich on whole wheat bread which included baked tofu, hummus, sprouts, tomato and Taso’s special secret miso tahini dressing. This item was named after a menu entree from his Mom and Dad back in the 60’s when they would sell vegetarian food (in California) to the hippies- even one of the Beach Boys was a fan. California dreaming.. hmmm.. I guess that’s a popular phrase for all those Cali fans! 

Everything was amazing– and then I got the privilege of checking out the local food coop in Park Slope- you have to work a few hours there each month to belong. I am interested! The Park Slope Food Coop has a lot of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs and an amazing selection of all things healthy. It was a bit crowded for me but I would like to join anyway!


Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.
[Thursday April 26th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 101: Brown rice pudding

First things first- if you love animals and you are in South Florida- then show some love at
SUBLIME Restaurant & Bar
where 100% of the profits support animal welfare.
I was there this past December, Ft. Lauderdale! I wasn’t quite vegan at the time (still stuck on yogurt and eggs)- but I ate mostly vegan and I would definitely search out vegan restaurants and travel far to them if I had to. I was on vacation with only Whole Foods around (and luckily at that). I asked a friend of mine who had prepared an amazing vegetarian (cheese-less) eggplant masterpiece for me at his restaurant, CASA di PEPE’s in Delray Beach. He highly recommended SUBLIME so off I went the next day. I tried many amazing items on the VEGAN menu. Since it was the holidays, I allowed myself some vegan cheese which I normally don’t do. The vegan margherita classico was insanely delicious. It was just amazing all around- such a big place, crowded and filled with other people who were interested in healthy food and saving animals. The owner, Nanci Alexander made her way to our table to say hello and talk to us about the dining experience and the shared love for the animals. 


So now you can see why I was so happy to see her highlighted on the vegan kickstart online program that I somehow stumbled upon just last week. Here is the link: vegan kickstart. Do not fear my non-vegan friends- this is not going to show you the ramped horror stories so frequently and passionately put up on vegan pages. This in particular is about your health! In the end, of course, it’s always about your health and the health of the world- including the animals, the environment and sustainability! I would hope we live in a world where we could all coexist – as nature would have it.


This recipe is from the Nanci Alexander’s  kickstart page with nutrition tips and recipes. 

Brown Rice Pudding
Makes 8 servings
1/2 pound brown rice
1 1/2 cups soymilk
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup light brown sugar (tightly packed)
Orange sauce:
8 ounces vegan sour cream   
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 cup fresh orange juice
Cook rice according to package directions. In a large pot, cover cooked rice with soymilk and add raisins and sugar. Cook covered over low heat for 1 hour until most of the soymilk has evaporated and the rice is creamy.
In a separate bowl, whisk together vegan sour cream, agave nectar, and orange juice.
Divide rice pudding into serving bowls and serve slightly warm with orange sauce.



** When I tasted the sauce,  I knew right then that I finally uncovered one of the vegan secrets in desserts: vegan sour cream- heavenly! Note: I used sucanat instead of brown sugar.


Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.
[Tuesday April 10th 2012 blog]