"Reinventing Indulgence" One meal at a time!

Archive for the ‘Herbs’ Category

Seitan, Spinach and Sorrel

I have been experimenting with many herbs over the past few months- some as teas, infusions, decoctions and tinctures… and others in cooking. I am excited to be immersed in an Herbal Studies program at American College of Healthcare Science, ACHS. I first learned of sorrel, Rumux acetosa, in a raw foods class at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. I have been wanting to experiment with this herb and finally gathered up the courage to do so in conjunction with my ACHS assignments. If I think of it like a tea or medicinal herb, then I would be hesitant to toss the dried version of this into my food. On the other hand, when I think of it as a culinary herb like basil, rosemary or garlic, then I feel comfortable adding this into a meal, in the dried format.  As far as the fresh sorrel goes, it has spinach-like properties with respect to color, appearance and culinary uses.

sorrel1Sorrel, Rumux acetosa, has bright green leaves. It is a green leafy plant whose firm leaves can be used directly into salads, soups and sauces. Sorrel can also be found pureed, frozen, canned and dried. It’s not the easiest plant to find, however, it apparently is one that can be grown without difficultly from seed. Once picked, it stays fresh for about 3 days, 6 months when dried.

IMG_8363Sorrel, Rumux acetosa is a good source of vitamin A, B2 riboflavin, B3 niacin, B9, C, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Now enters another hot nutrition debate: shall we eat foods that are know to be high in oxalic acid or not? I’m still out with the jury on the soy debate so I’ll just highlight a few things here since sorrel is one of the plants associated with high levels of oxalic acid.

Oxalic acid is a naturally occurring organic compound found in plants, animals and humans. One of the nutritional arguments often heard is that: oxalic acid binds with some nutrients, which then means that they are not assimilated by the body. Many people eat spinach, for example, for it’s high nutritional value. The the arguments you might hear would revolve around the calcium not being available for assimilation. I have also come across two other confusing, yet important and contradicting points. Oxalic acid in large quantities could cause death from poisoning. There is a government link below with more information about this- the only food source listed for this specifically is rhubarb leaves. On the other hand, oxalic acid has been sited to be helpful for killing cancer cells. The research continues!

“Foods that contain significant amounts of oxalic acid are ( in order from highest to lowest): buckwheat, star fruit, black pepper, parsley, poppy seed, rhubarb stalks, amaranth, spinach, chard, beets, cocoa, chocolate, most nuts, most berries, and beans. If you had to really avoid oxalic acid that would be difficult.” (Herrington)

Conditions which should be cautioned for consumption of oxalic acids include:

  • Kidney stones
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Kidney disorder

*Another consideration or controversy is whether or not foods with high amounts of oxalic acid would be better or worse cooked. I have read it both ways so far. Take some time to research and read through the articles. I am a believer in the raw and whole food eating; and everything in moderation, but of course.

Today’s dish:

Seitan, Spinach and Sorrel
Onion, garlic, black pepper, sea salt, sorrel, jalapeño, tomato, seitan and steamed spinach — olive oil and a drop of vegan butter!


I sautéed the olive oil, onion, garlic, jalapeño and tomato first. Then I used the seitan (from package). Next I added the sorrel, salt and pepper, I was a bit afraid at first but I noticed the flavor picked up immediately after adding a good amount of dried sorrel. It has a slightly lemon spice punch to it. The fresh leaves are known to add a citrus and sour flavor. I finished this sauté off with a drop or two of vegan Earth Balance Buttery Spread. I steamed the spinach on the side and added it to the dish.  It was flavorful, different and delicious!

IMG_8360Two other recipes I noticed while doing some sorrel research both revolve around a spiced Caribbean rum drink. I included two recipe links here:

Jamaican sorrel rum punch:

Sorrel drink (Trinidad):

Herrington, Diana. Retrieved from http://realfoodforlife.com/oxalic-acid-controversy/

Informational links and resources

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.

Vegetable SOUP TONIC

Vegetable Soup Tonic

It’s snowing here in New York-  well, actually it’s a blizzard! There is really nothing better to do in these conditions but stay inside and keep warm. I was debating between making a juice or salad and then this overwhelming desire came over me to make something warm. I guess because I’m really cold especially in the winter. This began to happen after losing all that weight a couple of years ago. As much as I would love to go more raw, my body is saying “hey it’s cold outside so give me something warm!” Everyone is different and we all have to listen to our bodies! A warm soup it is!  IMG_7173

I felt like doing something different this time as I actually do make soup quite frequently. First, if I haven’t said this already, whoever invented the crock pot- I want to give them the biggest hug ever! It just makes cooking soups and stews so much easier!

Before I get to today’s soup ingredients, I wanted to introduce the idea of adding herbs to the soup for immune strengthening properties. I chose ASTRAGALUS and  AMERICAN GINSENG.

Astragalus Astragalus membranaceus is an extremely popular choice amongst the Chinese herbs to be used as an overall tonic to the body. It’s known to help increase energy and build the immune system against sickness and disease. “Astragalus has  warming properties and is tonic to the spleen, kidneys, lungs and blood.” (Tierra 1998)  It also balances the energy of the internal organs. It is a stimulant, a diuretic and a tonic.

American Ginseng Panax quinquefolius is another incredible tonic providing overall stimulation and strength to reduce stress and fatigue. The word “panax” comes from the Greek word “panacea” meaning a “cure all.” It is used for the immune system, digestion, energy, and for conditions such as those related to the nervous and cardiovascular systems. American Ginseng has cooling properties in the yin and yang principles, as opposed to Asian Ginseng’s warming effects. Balance is of great importance with regards to the health of our organs and systems. Ginseng is one of the most popular herbs for strength which is why I used it, however, it is interesting to look into the particular strings of Ginseng to best maximize your individuality!


Vegetable broth optional
Onions 1 medium
Garlic 1 clove
Parsley 1 small bunch
Potato 1- 2 medium
Turnip 1 small
Parsnip 1 small
Carrots 4 chopped
Leeks 1 regular
Bean mix 1 cup dry beans
Wild rice 1 cup 
Astragalus sticks 3-4 long flat pieces
American Ginseng 4-5 small nugget types

Fill the crock pot 2/3 of the way with water or vegetable broth or a combination of the two. Then chop and add all the vegetables and the spices. Add the bean mix, rice and herbs. I admit that there is no art to this. Basically, what I want to say is put everything in the crock pot; go do something for 30-40 minutes like exercise, and then it will be ready to serve!

Tierra. M. 1998. The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books Health. New York, NY.

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.

Vegan day 167: David’s Tea on Bleecker Street

I am 12 days behind in my blog. Someone said to me yesterday.. “well that’s ok everyone is behind in their blogs right now”. I said.. “well mine is a daily blog” lol No excuses there! The reality though is that like many others, I am very busy. I committed to doing a one year blog which involves planning out my vegan choices, preparing them, eating… and other times dining out. Of course writing about it too and hopefully providing some helpful research for either myself or the reader.. or both. I am in school finishing up a diploma in Holistic Health Practitioner at ACHS. Within the last few months of a career I have been in for almost 20 years, I get an unexpected promotion and increase of responsibility. Add to that, the fact that June is my busiest month of the year.. and there you have it.. 12 days behind in my blog— not in the experiences… but in the writing. I could either catch up.. or call it quits! 
I wish I could say I’m not a quitter, however many an “X” would raise an eyebrow. I don’t wish to quit though! This is my passion- so I will continue in order of my experiences and catch up. The exception will be today since I had such a great time at David’s Tea on Bleecker Street. I will start up here and then catch up on my past blog experiences that I haven’t written out yet – and they are good ones – I did plenty of dehydration and juicing the last 2 weeks with my new equipment. Hopefully I will catch up soon.

I was mesmerized the second I walked in. I guess if you are reading my blog for the first time, it might be helpful to know that I was a major coffee drinker and loved my Ketel One and clubs. That being said, over the past few years I have moved away from those indulgences over to teas. I am studying herbology- actually, my current class text is Medical Herbalism. I love this stuff! David’s Tea offered a bit more than your average tea shop. Their background of teas is really thorough and customers are able to really see and smell the samples close up. David’s offers specially crafted teas, blends or collections which are grouped according to their base: white tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, pu’erh, mate, rooibos, herbal tea and ayurvedic tea. 

I was so excited and drawn in that I bought a few different ones to take home:
Licorice Twist (herbal)
Gyokuro Yamashiro (green)
Happy Kombucha (oolong)
Organic The Skinny (oolong)
Chai Guarana (black)

I have been in many tea shops and it’s easy to get lost in the different blends of leaves and plants. I prefer medicinals as well. I like to know that I am drinking teas which for the most part, are good for me. I felt here they that were well informed and that some medicinal effects were brought into the choices for the collections. Some people drink teas for the taste or feeling.. and other for the various benefits. 

 Yesterday I was in the mood for a chai tea. After searching their informative website, I think it was the organic jade oolong chai. I definitely went on smell and taste- it was so flavorful.

Today I am enjoying the happy kombucha! I am happy! Each tea packet that you buy also has the name of the tea, ingredients and instructions all on a sticker. Great packaging, design and simplicity. I know what also got my attention – the beautiful glass travel mugs. Oh… shopping… that’s a whole-nother indulgence!

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 June 15th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 152: Green tea MATCHA FRAPPE

I remember distinctly the first time I had an iced green tea matcha latte– it was upstate in Woodstock, New York at The Tea Shop! It was the best thing ever for someone like myself who was trying to wean off of coffee. I loved it so much that I bought the matcha powder in the tiny Japanese canister. They explained to me that I should use one teaspoon of the powder with a tiny bit of hot water and then whisk it gently with a bamboo whisk. There is a whole art to this as it is used in traditional Japanese celebrations. After that, I would add it to iced soy milk or almond milk and it’s ready! I loved this and was equally quite excited to see it on the Starbucks menu. At Starbucks you have to ask for it unsweetened (no sugar water) and with the soy milk (it’s organic); it’s also offered hot or iced! 

Now I see it today on the list of items we are going to prepare in class. I am so excited. Wait.. it was a tease. We just had a tasting… so I had to make it tonight. I think I have to make it one more time to get it just perfect but it was really good! I put too much powder in. I should have remembered what they told me at The Tea Shop! 
Matcha powder
Vanilla extract
Ice (optional) 
You will have to experiment with your own measurements until you get it to your liking. I used 2T of matcha for the amount you see above and it was a bit strong. Put everything in a blender and you are good to go! 
For more information on MATCH TEA, which has it’s origins in Japanese tea ceremony celebrations known as Chado, or ‘Way of Tea.’ “ 
check out another favorite store of mine: TEAVANA
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 May 30th 2012 blog]