"Reinventing Indulgence" One meal at a time!

Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

Eat it RAW.. or not.

I guess you can say I have been in a spaghetti zone lately. It comes and goes but this week has been a hit with an amazing spaghetti squash recipe that I made. Those with addictive tendencies know that when we have something on our mind- it’s not over til’ it’s over. Might as well take that as an opportunity to “reinvent the indulgence”. The spaghetti squash was delicious and put me in the mood for another variety of spaghetti- this time with zucchini.

IMG_2859I began with the raw version. That’s the beauty of zucchini spaghetti- you can eat it raw, I was in the mood for a salad and of course I am far from boring in that department. I went for it. I have to say that I do love my spiralizer. It gives vegetables a twist.. literally! The zucchini spaghetti is probably the most famous of it’s uses although, I really need to experiment more with the other blades.

For now, it was about the gorgeous long strings of this spaghetti. I still had a garden fresh tomato so it was salad time.

IMG_2874
Zucchini strings

Fresh tomato
Finely chopped onion
Bell pepper chopped
Avocado
Artichokes
Olive Oil
Sea salt
Tossed and topped with a few pine nuts!

 

Some days I am in the mood for a salad and others I just need that home cooked feeling. I literally split this all in half and saved the second portion for a meal the next day – this time cooked.
IMG_2879
For the cooked version, I added some chick peas, tofu and more artichokes that I had in the refrigerator. Of course I didn’t cook the avocado! avocado never makes it past the moment in my place- it’s just too dam good! I was feeling hot and spicy today so I added some vegan hot sauce and splurged with my low calorie spaghetti indulgence.

I even made my own vegan parmesan that I saw on a vegan Facebook site. It was so simple: 1 cup un-salted cashews to 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, sea salt and pulsed in a food processor.

I heated the pan with some coconut oil and did this quick sauté. I was actually feeling guilty afterwards but really there was no need. Luckily, after an hour or so, the guilt was replaced with an avocado chocolate mousse dessert that I knew I could indulge in. This too was vegan of course- I have blogged it before. Check it out!
All is well!

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Simple Vegan Summer Rolls

summerroll2Imagine a carb-less wrap that’s vegan, gluten-free and low calorie. That’s how I think of my homemade summer rolls now.

Quite often I opt to order the summer rolls on a  menu as an appetizer. I really do love them and they are usually healthy– but I do this too, more so because they are often one of the only vegan options that are not fried or super white starchy. Even at vegan restaurants I choose this — again for the simplicity and light calories. I pay anywhere from $5- $9 for one or two and never really think twice about it. UNTIL… I made them! What a mark up! I feel like just opening up a summer roll shop and becoming rich overnight! Let’s see how many items we can fit in here for under 50 cents? This is one time you can’t say eating vegan is expensive. 

Summer roll, spring rolls- I sometimes get them confused. I get so excited sometimes that something is vegan that I forget to ask if it’s healthy. Most spring rolls.. I’ll say are not. Anything wrapped in white flour and then deep fried in who knows what exactly.. is not really adding to ones health. Of course it tastes good. If that’s what you are in the mood for, go for it! However, this is a simple option that you can even prep the night before for meals on the run. They hold well!

summerroll3

mistake – try again for a smoother feel

I was so excited when I stumbled onto vietnamese rice paper. I had no clue had to use them- seriously! I think I even had to YouTube it. So silly really because it’s so easy and you can make a whole meal in less then 10 minutes. The first time I tried to soak the wrap in the water for a couple of seconds it came out “not good” at all as you can see here. Just keep trying until you get it nice and smooth.

 

The HOW TO:

*Take a medium size frying pan and heat up some water- keep it shallow (and not boiling).  Hold the paper with two hands and dip it in for a few seconds until it is about to get really soft. Lay it on the working prep space.

*Wash and dry some greens of choice. I used spinach the first time and mixed greens the second.IMG_1199

*Chop up into thin slices some cucumbers, carrots or other vegetables. I also sliced up some avocado and tofu.  Of course now it’s over 50 cents but you can just keep it to vegetables. I wouldn’t use anything too watery. If you use tofu, cut and blot the tofu dry before wrapping. I like to add a little hummus to mine but try to make that in the middle so it doesn’t moisten the outside once wrapped.

*Roll it gently and it automatically sticks.

The dipping sauce

IMG_1200I like the peanut flavorings so I use almond butter with shoyu (or coconut aminos) – if you can’t find that, tamari works too. I add a little maple syrup for taste. It’s super delicious! I was in Whole foods recently and found the brown rice version of this paper. Wonderful!

If you would like some more tips on buying, using or storing rice paper, check out this link:
http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2009/06/vietnamese-rice-paper-buying-tips.html

 

 

 

 

Vegan day 310: Sesame tofu spinach salad

REPETITION IS KEY!
Remember, I’m still learning how to cook.. and un-cook for that matter! Even now, as I want to make vegan meals that I have already blogged, I must go back and check.. read through and practice. Practice and repetition are important so as one day I can just cook off the fly. For example, I’m craving an eggless omelette that I made early on with my blog– but I haven’t had enough practice yet to recall it from memory. 
However… TOFU is a different story! I feel I am becoming one with tofu.. lol. It’s one of my main protein sources, not that I need too much protein since I am an advid juicer and fairly well-balanced with nuts and beans. REMEMBER ALWAYS ORGANIC when it comes to TOFU. I can’t wait for a class I am taking next week: The Art of Making Tofu.. I think from scratch- how exciting! 

I made a beautiful tofu dish months ago-
http://eatingfromscratch.blogspot.com/2012/03/vegan-day-61-my-own-macro-meal-from.html 
I followed directions for a sesame tofu perfectly. Tonight I wanted that same tofu but I didn’t feel like researching anything. Impressively, I remembered!

I was simply in the mood for a healthy spinach salad with some lightly sautéed tofu with a sesame crust. 

Steps in TOFU PREP:
I followed a recipe that I used months ago- it’s worth mentioning again!
http://macrobiotic.about.com/od/veganentrees/ss/SesameCrustTofu_9.htm

  • I cut the tofu depth wise and blotted it dry. 
  • Then I cut them into triangles and continued to dry them a bit with a paper towel. 
  • Next I put some white and black sesame seeds in a bowl. I dipped the tofu into the seeds on both sides. 
  • In a frying pan, I added a little coconut oil and lightly sautéed the tofu. 
  • The spinach salad dressing I used today was part extra-virgin olive oil (1 tablespoon), shoyu (few drops), sesame oil (few drops) and brown rice vinegar (1 tablespoon)

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, November 5th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 231: What is garden freshness anyway?

I hear the phrase “garden fresh” all the time… “garden veggies.. fresh vegetables.. fresh from the garden”
Well.. is it really? I wonder! My Dad once said.. don’t believe everything you hear.. and only half of what you see. That’s when I was a kid- before the age of internet, digital photography and photoshop. I’d like to say before GMO’s but they have been around for a while- just not considered the norm until now.. or our very near future! That’s a horrifying thought in and of itself.
 
garden salad
Vegetables are UPC coded (universal product code) in the supermarket. When they are 4 digits long it is conventional produce (usually they begin with a 3 or a 4). This means they are most likely sprayed with pesticides. Next are the 5 digit codes: Organic produce begins with an 9 and GMO produce with a 8 (8=hate; for lack of a better way to remember this)
 
Which is worse you ask? 
Conventional with a 4 or GMO with an 8? 
I say run far away from the 9! Pesticides are the poison you know. GMO’s- genetically modified organisms (manipulated seeds) are the poison you don’t know. We are the test group- the human guinea pigs. The difference is one is a simple toxin and the other is a toxin that grows and replicates.
 
Ok back to freshness and the over-use of that word. Another story comes to mind when I found a vegan restaurant (outside of Manhattan) that served up juices and smoothies- I asked if the fruit was fresh or … basically canned or made with syrup. I am not sure what I was avoiding at the time. Anyway, they said FRESH.. two minutes later they tear open a bag of frozen fruit. Is that fresh? Well.. believe it or not, it’s probably fresher than other options but it certainly wasn’t was I was looking for that day.
 
about to become FRESH JUICE
Fresh to me is produce just pulled out of the ground and unless you have your own garden or are shopping on a farm or at a farmers market, then I guess the next best thing we are referring to is a few days to a week long food at best. 
 
My 1st option would always be to buy farm fresh- local- and organic! This is a dream! For many though, this is not reality so check the codes on your supermarket produce or perhaps buy frozen if you need to especially in the winter months when local may not be in season. Farmers markets and CSA’s (community shared agriculture) are worth looking into. 
 
Today I made a FRESH JUICE and a FRESH GARDEN SALAD!  I don’t have my own garden
so I was beyond thrilled when my neighbor who IS an organic farmer brought over some produce. “Wash it really well.. there is still dirt on it”.. she says! That’s what I am talking about- “bring me the dirt” lol
 
The vegetables I used for juicing: fresh carrots- all different colors, fresh cucumbers, fresh beets and beet greens and fresh chard.
 
The FRESH GARDEN SALAD was basically the same: fresh carrots, cucumbers, beautiful cherry tomatoes, fresh greens and avocado.
 

I love my extra virgin olive oil! Today I used a few other things instead of the balsamic- some Nama Shoyu, brown rice vinegar and umeboshi vinegar!

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 August 18th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 191: Swiss Chard SALADS

There is truly nothing better than pulling the vegetables from your own garden. The next best thing though is a surprise visit from your neighbor who happens to be an organic farmer. My neighbor and friend Lisa had a huge bunch of swiss chard just pulled from the soil. Gestures like this for sure make my day- or I should say week because this kicked off a swiss chard salad craze that lead to the creation of these super nutritious raw salads.

The first is the swiss chard cherry surprise:


only because these cherry tomatoes that I picked up from the farm were so diverse and beautiful. I cut them each in half or fours and tossed them in with the swiss chard. Just because it’s organic, doesn’t mean you don’t have to wash it well. I washed the swiss chard, drained it well and cut it up into nice bite size pieces. Of course a salad is not a super impressive vegan salad without some add-ons so I threw in pumpkin seeds and chunks of avocado. The topping today was some olive oil, salt and pepper.

Next up was another swiss chard avocado salad but this time with more raw vegetables and topped with fresh nectarines from the farm:


Since I am on a one month raw vegan challenge for myself, I figured now is the time to change how I look at raw vegetables. It’s working, I am eating them alone as meals, on-the-go as snacks and as a hearty add-on to a delicious salad. Here I sliced up some raw zucchini and added in some fresh raw broccoli chopped into small bite size pieces. The avocado is quickly becoming a salad staple for me. The interesting topping here was some raw vegan kale chips (not baked) crumpled up over the salad for a super spicy crunchy taste and feel. I did a pumpkin seed finish with some olive oil and a dash of balsamic.


Finally, a swiss chard salad with an experimental nut and seed based sauce: 


Quite simply this was about to become another nutritious and delicious meal in and of itself- swiss chard, tomato and avocado. However, I am reading a new book: Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine by Gabriel Cousens, M.D. Sometimes I like to read before bed because it relaxes me and brings me nicely into a sleeping state. Sleep is essential as you know. You can eat well and exercise but still lack vitality due to improper sleep. Well, this book did the opposite of make me sleepy. It sent me into a whirlwind of ideas and recipes that I wanted to try. It was from this book, that I finally decided to experiment away from just a simple olive oil dressing- not that there’s anything wrong with that. lol

My experimental dressing today was a large handful of dehydrated tamari almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews and cranberries all tossed into a food processor. Then I added some coconut water, apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice. If I had fresh spices on hand, for sure they would have gone in too! All it needed was some salt and pepper- it was a crunchy nutritious raw delight onto of this salad.  

Swiss chard is an excellent choice in vitamins K, A, C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E and dietary fiber. (Matejan 2007)

Enjoy! 

Reference
Matejan, G. 2007. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating. GMF Publishing: Seattle, WA.

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 9th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 190: Arugula fiesta salad

I love when I see kids today eating salads. I had even heard recently of a NYC school by me including full salad bar options in their cafeterias. Clearly the movement is set in motion to the need for a healthier nation. As a child, I was not a fan of most vegetables nor of salads. Luckily, I grew out of that and became quite the salad maker. Prior to becoming vegan, I would make intense salads often including fruits, dried cranberries, nuts, seeds and of course all kinds of cheese. Now that I’m vegan and since I have already committed to the non use of even vegan non-dairy commercial cheeses, I had to become more creative. Dropping dairy from the diet takes some extra focus, determination and all around strength. You are fighting the dairy industry after all. See another blog I wrote earlier this year about my thoughts on that one. Anyway, I like options in my salads as I have said before- not just lettuce and tomatoes which is sometimes a vegan’s only healthy option while dining out. My salads are diverse, colorful, raw, healthy, nutrious and delicious. 
 
Today’s salad is:
Arugula fiesta salad
 
Arugla
Cilantro
Raw corn cut off the cob
Red bell pepper slices
Tomatoes
Avocado
Crispy dehydrated spicy sunflower seeds
Olive oil
Lemon or lime juice freshly squeezed
Salt and pepper
 
 
 
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 July 8th 2012 blog]
 

Vegan day 189: Cucumber tomato salads

INSTAGRAM has a way of making things look really good! 
 
I think I have become even more infatuated with food and photos with this new social media outlet. I love my food and post pictures all the time on Facebook! I love photography too! Mix the two together and yet another media distraction and here you have one of the latest crazes. 
 
Instagram made my cucumber salads look delicious! Actually.. they were not only delicious but simple, refreshing and a great raw vegan choice – super healthy too!



Cucumber salad #1
Cucumbers sliced thin, tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, cilantro, salt, pepper and olive oil.


Cucumber salad #2
Cucumbers, tomatoes and farm fresh sugar snap peas, parsley, olive oil and balsamic. Is balsamic raw vegan? 


I have even been including cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) in my daily juicing. They provide many nutrients and have a high water or fluid content. Cucumbers are known to be rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Cucumbers also go nicely in filtered water for a refreshing flavor. 


Follow me on INSTAGRAM: my user name is 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.
[Saturday July 7th 2012 blog]