"Reinventing Indulgence" One meal at a time!

Archive for the ‘Protein’ Category

Homemade Peanut Butter Protein Bars

Naturally, I’m a big fan of juicing and smoothies but sometimes the food addict in me just wants to eat something- as opposed to drink. Confession time – yes, I’m one of those people who treat liquids as “not counting”.  Liquid calories, however, do add up and FAST! Luckily, I’m not a soda, sports drink or juice user. That’s right.. user! As you probably heard by now, the same receptor sites light up in the body when sugar hits it as does cocaine. I have even heard that sugar is 8x more addicting. I avoid sugar the best I can but right now I’m talking about eating.. some vegan protein powder actually.. as opposed to drinking it. This idea and recipe that I stumbled on is not to replace my super healthy vegan shakes but rather as an occasional option to basically “switch it up”.

I came across these little “protein balls” at a Holistic Health Bazaar not too long along. I set out to do the recipe but then didn’t particularly care for a few ingredients nor the use of a microwave. I began to look further for another recipe- something a bit more simple and closer to raw. The idea here was to be able to make a “protein” bar as opposed to a shake. I came across a recipe on one of my favorite sites: ohsheglows.com This sounded more like what I was looking for- except, if only I can learn the swirl factor. How she swirled the chocolate on top so beautifully. Oh She Glows- that’s right! 

I made the bars and thoroughly enjoyed them for a few days. These were perfect for me- a vegan on the go! Of equal importance, the addict in me was satisfied and I found a way to break up the daily smoothies and still get my vegan protein addition in.

The best part of this experience though was the “Grama’s cooking” recipes and memories that came up. If I dropped the protein powder and oats, I would have the vegan version of my Grama’s famous chocolate peanut butter squares. These would arrive in my college care packages back in the day which brought friends from all the dorms over for some good ol’ fashion homemade treats. Go Grama! This time though, I’ll hold on the sugar and extra weight and raise ya on the protein! A perfect example of Reinventing Indulgence!

Recipe
1.25 cups gluten-free oats
.5 cup vegan protein powder (I may have used a pinch more)
.5 cup peanut butter- almond butter is good too!  (I may have used a pinch more here too)
.5 crushed amaranth flakes cereal (original recipe uses rice crisp cereal)
.5 cup  organic maple syrup
1 teas. vanilla extract
4 tbs. vegan dark chocolate chips

sea salt to taste
coconut oil to grease container

For the recipe from Oh She Glows:
Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/08/29/quick-n-easy-no-bake-protein-bars/#ixzz3AmqKJz6f

I first put the oats in my magic bullet to grind them down quite a bit. In a large mixing bowl, I mixed the oats, protein powder, crunched up amaranth flakes and sea salt. Then I added the maple syrup and peanut butter – both of these healthier brands and not junk varieties. I greased a square pan and pressed the mixture in. Afterwards, I put this pan in the freezer for 10 minutes. Meantime, I melted down the delicious vegan chocolate chips. I tried to drizzle it on like the original photo from Oh She Glows but that didn’t go over well. I ended up covering the whole tray in chocolate – not a horrible thing for a vegan chocolate lover. Back into the freezer they went to set and then I kept them in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Reference

Oh She Glows. Glow From The Inside Out. Retrieved from http://ohsheglows.com/2013/08/29/quick-n-easy-no-bake-protein-bars/

A healthier PB bar!

A healthier PB bar!

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Tofu House Bayside

Tofu house.. what? Where’s the tofu?
I should have went with my basic gut instinct because as I was entering, it had that McDonalds’ like feel – like I thought I saw a children’s play area inside. I was thinking.. wow.. It looks like a Tofu McDonalds. I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing. The positive minded person that I am, found it good so I proceeded in. Actually, all in all the food was good. My complaints are worth mentioning anyway because the experience itself was odd. I’m wondering if this was a Korean restaurant but I’m really not sure. Some of the dishes seemed Korean like the BI BIM BAP. I’m highly spoiled when it comes to Korean food since two of my favorite restaurants happen to be both Korean and VEGAN (Franchia & Hangawi).

We ordered vegetarian style orders and next thing I know food was flying in front of us – raw eggs and dead fried fish with the eye balls itself looking at me.  ME????? I panicked. Lol. She thought we ordered soup and so I guess that accompanied it. Ok… not a big problem.  It was gone before I could scream Instagram.  They sent out a complimentary array of appetizer type dishes. This was not just for us but it seemed customary for all. I enjoyed this part since most were vegan and healthy.Image

Then the main dishes came sizzling out in cast iron pots. There was no broth though. I didn’t remember BI BIM BAP being without some liquid. Small bowls were given on the side with some form of water like liquid. My friend threw hers in. I flashbacked in my  head to a Japanese restaurant where people were slurping their noodle soups and that was actually the way to eat it. Sometimes I think things are odd but the are the norm – so I followed suit and threw it in. As I was stirring this food that looked delicious, I was wondering if that water was to wash your hands with. My friend says other people were dunking food into it. The manager happened to luckily walk by so we asked him and he said “meat water” with an accent. MEAT WATER! Ok I’m a high maintenance vegan but my friend was vegetarian so it wasn’t just me who jumped. We anxiously explained to him that we specifically ordered vegetarian so why would she give us that. He kindly apologized and soon after they came out again with round 2 of the deliciously looking BI BIM BAP.Image

Honestly, the food was amazing! I could do without the experience though so no more make believe Tofu Houses for me. The entrees all seemed to revolve around meat – there really was no emphasis at all on the tofu except that they did apparently carry it. “Tofu House”..   a real Tofu House.. a girl can dream.. right?

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

IMG_8357

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:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/drink/views/Jamaican-Sorrel-Rum-Punch-200629

Sorrel drink (Trinidad):
http://www.food.com/recipe/sorrel-drink-trinidad-197234

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

Informational links and resources
http://juicing-for-health.com/oxalic-acid.html
http://www.freysmiles.com/blog/view/are-oxalic-acids-in-food-bad-for-teeth
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002479.htm
http://www.coljoe.com/diet_procedure.htm

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.

Forbidden Black Rice with Asparagus

Forbidden? Yes.. and impossible to find! Well.. not really once you learn what it is. I usually find that when I come across a new food that I didn’t even know exist, that I soon after begin to see it everywhere. This was so the case with black rice. I heard about it though a friend on Facebook. It looked intriguingly delicious to me and of course I wanted to try it immediately. Soon after, I ran right into it at the health food store. I actually can’t believe I haven’t blogged this before. I am certain that I have created a few recipes with black rice, experimented and even took pictures. Not a problem- here I am again cooking with black rice and also amazed that I am beginning to see it in restaurants which I will highlight later – “Beyond Sushi”!

Where do they get “forbidden” from? Once you read that on the label- you automatically want it! It comes from Chinese tradition where only royalty were given this type of rice to eat, hence it was forbidden. So what is black rice? It’s actually a strand of rice with a very dark purple quality. It gets this color from anthocyanins, which are flavonoid pigments found in red/ purple/ dark blue/ black fruits and vegetables. Do you remember when someone told you to eat the colors of the rainbow in your fruits and vegetables? This is part of that wonderful concept and truth.

Some of the current benefits of anthocyanins include: “protection against liver injuries; significant reduction of blood pressure; improvement of eyesight; strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities; inhibition of mutations caused by mutagens from cooked food; and suppression of proliferation of human cancer cells.”  (Konczak/ Wei)

Black rice is therefore high in antioxidants from these anthocyanins! In addition, black rice is also known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Many believe inflammation to be at the core of many health conditions, disorders and diseases.

White rice is refined and milled therefore stripped of it’s many nutrients. Brown rice and black rice are very similar with respect to nutrients, calories and fiber. The added bonus here, is that black rice has extra antioxidants. Personally, you might want to make your own decision when choosing. I mostly eat brown rice, however, when black rice is available to me- I will always say yes. I enjoy the texture and taste- and I feel that it is a bit healthier. Try it and see what you think and feel!

IMG_8019

I made my black rice as I would brown; cooking it in a 2:1 ratio of water to rice with a drizzle of olive oil and touch of sea salt. I sautéed asparagus on the side, some sliced apple sausage (soy) and some leftover brown rice and mushroom from the night before. Yes I mix and match! This dish was incredible!

I have to mention that I am beginning to see black rice as an option in some sushi restaurants in New York CIty. This is very exciting especially this new sushi spot that I stumbled upon. It’s called BEYOND SUSHI– located on 14th Street, Manhattan between 3rd and 2nd Avenues. Honestly, this is the best sushi I have ever had. My taste buds are slowly changing and for the better. It takes time when eliminating certain foods and dependencies on salt and sugar. I have had this sushi twice so far- the best is having it in-house but GOOD LUCK as it is mostly a to-go place. Oh.. and did I mention- it’s VEGAN! Bonus!

Reference

Konczak, I., Wei, Z. 2004. Anthocyanins- More Than Nature’s Colours. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082903/

Protein Powerhouse Chocolate Peanut butter MEGA bomb

Nothing like a contest to get my creative juices flowing! This time it’s to win a Vitamix! The contest is at ThisIsStory.com. Lately, I have been in a straight up peanut butter mood. I would normally say almond butter, but I was out this time. I felt like having a hearty AND deliciously rich smoothie shake!

I call this the Protein Powerhouse, not that I am consumed by the “P” word at all- but others are so why not!

The official title is: Protein Powerhouse Chocolate Peanut butter MEGA bomb with Sun Warrior RAW protein, hemp seeds, vanilla hemp milk, cacao powder, peanut butter, dates, banana and blueberries. This is a rich superfood smoothie- all thrown together in my vitamix!

Recipe

banana-1
blueberries- 1 cup
dates- 2
protein powder- 1-2 scoops
hemp seeds- 2 tablespoons
cacao powder- 1 1/2 tablespoons
peanut butter- 1 1/2 tablespoons
hemp milk- about 2 cups

Here is a link to the cacao I like to use so you can see what it looks like. The hemp seeds I like are Nutivia or Navitas.

Hemp is rich is essential fatty acids, protein and fiber! It’s an especially excellent source for vegetarians and vegans. Some of the many benefits of hemp include:

  • Improved heart health 
  • Improved memory and brain related functions
  • Healthier skin
  • Weight loss
  • Better digestion
  • Stronger immune system

Enjoy!

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 332: Tempeh surprise

Not having expectations can often lead to pleasant surprises. 

I was closing my summer place for the winter. I knew that the kitchen and refrigerator were pretty well stocked with grains and legumes so I didn’t load up on groceries when I headed over. I made once stop and it was for greens– specifically SPINACH! 

Just greens.. one item and it brought all the other whole foods to life. It was like a miracle dish. I didn’t think I had anything and it ended up being a beautifully balanced meal. This too would have been a good entree for the MYPLATE contest that I was thrilled to win first place in. My entree was a macro meal but this looks good too. It would have looked even better had I left the beans in for a shorter time. As I was preparing the tempeh surprise sauté, I must have mushed the beans a tad bit. 

On a taste level, everything was on point!

  • Brown rice cooked at a 1:2 rice to water ratio
  • Tempeh that was in my refrigerator- sliced and sautéed 
  • Can of organic black beans on hand in case of a lazy cooking emergency
  • Sun-dried tomatoes also from the refrigerator
  • Spice city!
  • The salad was prepped with spinach, cucumber, tomato… and artichokes from a can of organic artichokes that I had in the cabinet. 
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, November 27th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 330: Soy nuggets

I’m still in search for some semi-healthy soy chicken to use for a dish that I am going to prepare for our annual holiday staff party! The next experiment was with soy nuggets. I simply sautéed the frozen nuggets in a pan with a little extra-virgin coconut oil. I covered it and flipped the nuggets until golden brown. 

Honestly, to my recollection, they taste the same as McDonalds Chicken McNuggets… but without half of the over-the-top disgusting ingredients. I’m not going to get into the chicken McNugget but if I used these soy nuggets and sautéed them lightly in chicken broth NO ONE WOULD EVER KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!

Craziness– lol Have you seen the Jamie Oliver youTube on Chicken McNuggets?

FROM THE McDONALD’s website:

“Chicken McNuggets® (4 piece) White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning [autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid], sodium phosphates, natural flavor (botanical source). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dextrose, corn starch. 

CONTAINS: WHEAT.

Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.”

 
SOY NUGGETS:

GLUTEN FREE
WEIGHT 0.65 LBS

INGREDIENTS
· Soybean Fiber · Soybean Protein · Soybean Oil · Salt · Vegetarian Seasonings · White Pepper · Black Pepper · Chinese Five Spice

What’s the verdict?
The soy ones seem better for sure but I don’t know if I would call them healthy. In any case… it’s still not what I will use for the party! Back to the drawing board AGAIN!
Oh the taste?? lol They were really good of course!
 
Reference:
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, November 25th 2012 blog]