"Reinventing Indulgence" One meal at a time!

Archive for the ‘snacks’ Category

Vegan day 169: Spicy sunflower seeds

Day one with a brand new dehydrator. What is a dehydrator anyway? Why do people dehydrate food?

Dehydrating food is a method of preserving food that has been around for centuries if not longer. Before refrigeration, canning and freezing, civilizations would dry their food via sunlight. Today, dehydrators are popular with people who chose to eat a raw vegan diet. Dehydrators work generating low heat and circulation with a built in fan.
“Food dehydration can be defined as a process of inactivating enzymes, or removing water (moisture) from a food to a point at which bacterial and other spoilage microorganisms are inhibited from growing.” (Excalibur 2010)
Honestly, I had not really conceptualized this until I started learning about raw vegan food.. live foods! I was a sprouter… but never took that to another level. This week it’s all about dehydrating. I learned how to do these recipes at the Living and Raw Foods Course at the Natural Gourmet Institute. The dehydrator I bought is the Excalibur 3900. 

Spicy sunflower seeds
after soaking before dehydration
  • 2 cups of raw sunflower seeds soaked 4- 6 hours or over night in 4 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Drain and rinse
  • Mix with chili flakes, cayenne pepper, sea salt and pepper 
  • Other options are chipotle pepper or cajun spice
  • Spread onto dehydrator trays at 105-110 degrees for 12- 20 hours
Recipe ingredients (soaking)
after dehydration
2 cups sunflower seeds
4 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt

Recipe ingredients (mixture before dehydrating)
Soaked and drained seeds
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
(1/2 teaspoon cajun spice)

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 June 17th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 141: Banana- Oat Granola Bars

It looks like a granola bar.. it tastes like a granola bar but it doesn’t feel like a granola bar! I really thought I nailed this recipe too! It was easy.. I was about to say.. if I knew it was this easy.. I would be thousands of dollars richer and healthier as well knowing that I can chose the ingredients I want. But.. that’s not how it turned out. I can’t grab this granola bar and throw it in my bag. It would get mushy in 2.5 seconds! I don’t know what I did wrong but if anyone knows the secret.. please do tell!

Banana-Oat Granola Bars
from the book, Raw Energy, 124 Raw Food Recipes for Energy Bars, Smoothies, and Other Snacks to Supercharge Your Body (Tourles 2009)

1 ripe banana
2 cups of raw oat flakes
1 cup of almond butter
1/4 cup honey which I substituted with agave (when my agave runs out– that’s it; i will move over to grade B organic maple syrup, fresh pitted dates or sucanat)
2T bee pollen- skipped that too; not vegan
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

I put everything in a food processor until it was cohesive. I coated a pan with coconut oil and put the mixture in it and then into the freezer to harden. it never really hardened enough to form it’s own bar type texture. But it looks and tastes good! I would also say- just coat the pan with a tiny about of coconut oil so it doesn’t over power the flavor. 

Next time I will try these substitutes for honey!

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 May 20th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 140: Cocoa-almond baked breakfast quinoa

I set out to make some type of quinoa breakfast bread… and ended up with brownies! I’m ok with that!
Actually, this was really good!- a little moist but I think I know what I did wrong! My quinoa wasn’t perfect. How many times have I burned quinoa, spoke of other’s burning it or had it come out too soggy as in my crockpot recipes with it. HOW DO YOU MAKE PERFECT FLUFFY QUINOA! I will get it right one day. Don’t get me wrong, I make it a lot and I love it- it’s probably my favorite grain! I just prefer it fluffier! How do they do it? I think there is a fine line.. a tight narrow threshold between soggy and burnt! I think I will google it for secrets. Let’s see what I find!

Here are three helpful tips I have learned!

(1) I should not do a 1:2 ratio quinoa to water- they do 1: 1 1/2
(2) They cover it the entire time… oops
(3) After the water boils, they reduce the heat to very low. These words are not really in my vocabulary- low, slow.. it’s just not me. Patience is a virtue that I will spend a lifetime waiting to remotely achieve. It reminds me of my visit to Lina, my dental hygienist to be. She thoroughly explained that I have been brushing my teeth wrong for years. Just great! I brush too hard and too fast– “you have to brush your teeth in tiny circular movements not just in the front and across the molars but everywhere” she says- “front, back, inside, outside, in between- and slow it down!” AND FLOSS while we are on the topic! When I first became healthy my teeth actually hurt a tiny bit. I think it was the first time I ever really used them. I always swallowed my food. This is not a joke really. When I first studied holistic health, I realized right away the importance of chewing, eating slowly and allowing time for digestion. Some say to chew the food 35 times- try it! When we chew our food, we give our bodies a chance to pre-digest or get ready for digestion with the excretion of salivary amylase, a salivary gland enzyme found in saliva. Also, it’s important not to drink fluids while eating because it water’s down the important enzymes and stomach acids necessary for proper digestion. Anyway… when I became vegetarian and then vegan, I used my teeth more and also had to floss more! Use them or lose them … right? lol I believe our teeth fit right into the design of an herbivore.. that’s what I believe we are.. and at best I’ll agree with omnivore- but if you would like to argue with me over a few drinks.. go ahead and say carnivore!
Side-tracked again lol! Back to my brownies!

Thanks Clarissa for leaving this on my fb page! 
Here is the ever-so-delicious and creative healthy meal or treat:


Granted mine does not look as good as the one from the Whole Foods Market recipe section online! That’s because I did not make the perfect quinoa- it’s ok- it was damn good! I will get it right next time for sure! Here is how I made it:

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup hulled hemp seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup almond meal (1/2 for the recipe and 1/4 for the top)

I rinsed the quinoa and doubled the portion with water but next time I will use 1 1/2 cups of water and cook it like mentioned above!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend (in a blender) the nut milk, dates, seeds, applesauce, cocoa and salt. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the cooked quinoa and almond meal. Set into a baking dish and bake for one hour! They mention using parchment paper- hello.. what is that? I have so much to learn- I though you weren’t suppose to put paper in an oven! This blog is truly a mission- hopefully, I will end the year as an educated cook of some sort! For a more accurate instruction of the “how-to” follow the online recipe as mentioned above!

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 May 19th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 112: Hummus with whole wheat pita

Vegan snacks (part 3)
Mostly everyone loves hummus! I know personally, I forget what a nice snack this makes and what a great condiment it provides for sandwiches and meals. 

I admit that the first thing I want to do is devour a box of crackers with this hummus but when portioned correctly- this makes for a nutritious mini-meal. For me, eating frequent mini-meals throughout the day is what’s best to keep my energy up and meet my nutritional requirements– oh and to stay digestively comfortable and slim! lol

Instead of digging into a box of wheat thins, I ventured to some other alternatives. It’s great to switch it up. I enjoy black sesame brown rice snaps and Mary’s Gone Crackers but today I had a piece of toasted whole wheat pita bread cut into small pieces. Mary’s crackers by the way are organic, vegan and gluten-free- no GMO ingredients! I am a fan! 

I added cut carrot strips to this dish. Raw vegetables work well with hummus too. It’s best to get into the habit of including vegetables to every meal possible. It helps to alkalinize the diet. Most Americans consume a highly acidic diet due to the over consumption of refined sugar, flours.. also sodas and coffee.. and yes meats, some grains and some dairy. The list is actually endless! 

Hummus is made mostly from chick peas making it a nice protein option for many! Recipes usually include chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, onion, parsley– and others include vegetable broth and soy sauce. I have a few recipes and will make it from scratch soon!

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 21st 2012 blog]

Vegan day 111: Arepa with avocado

Vegan snacks (part 2)
Another thing I learned from my Colombian friends- arepas!
I know I know.. arepas have origins mostly from Venezuela but they are popular in many other countries and this quick snack I learned from a very sexy size zero Colombian who eats these on the regular.

I have to say- this is the only food item that I eat frequently that is from the corn family and not organic (therefore GMO-aww). Try to find organic arepas– it’s not that easy. Honestly, I can’t even find these arepas. I live within 10 minutes of the best Italian, Arabic, Chinese, Kosher and Mexican neighborhoods- but not Colombian. One of my best friends from Queens has to pick these up for me every few weeks. 

Arepa with avocado
and one tablespoon of either Earth Balance butter spread or flax seed oil (or best yet a combination of the two)

The brand I use is Delicias Andinas– obviously the vegans will get the ones without the cheese. These are also gluten-free! What’s nice about these arepas- is that they are fast and easy to make and only 104 calories. It’s what you put on it that matters. Here is a chance to add in nutrition! I used flax seed oil and avocado. Both are slightly caloric but good calories. Essential fatty acids and monounsaturated fats are healthy for our cells and necessary! Flax seeds are one of the best sources of plant based omega 3’s. Avocados are 70% monounsaturated fats- check an earlier blog for more information on avocados! 

 I was happy to learn very quickly that these arepas in particular will come out perfect if you have what I call – the arepa maker lol. I’m sure it has a real name but that’s what I call it. Put it on a gas flame and you are good to go! 

Soon I will be making arepas from scratch– the small chunkier ones used to stuff for sandwiches. I need to find white or yellow Venezuelan or Colombian style masa harina flour! Then I will be ready for my experiment in making Arepas with sexy Avocado-Tempeh filling (Avocado Pepiada Arepa) from the book, Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero.

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 April 20th 2012 blog]

Vegan 110: Apple with peanut butter

You call them snacks- I call them meals! 
After eating out for a few days, I like to take it easy! Simplicity is key- it was one of the keys to my weight-loss. When you eat smaller meals with less ingredients and at more frequent intervals, it’s easier for your body to tackle digestion and assimilation. “K-I-S-S” keep it simple stupid– it didn’t just come out of nowhere nor for no reason! lol 
Whenever you feel off- or I should say when I feel off- this is when I kick back to the simple stuff. I make simple meals and simple snacks and I do not dine out! 

I will focus the next three blogs on simple vegan snacks! Remember, I didn’t say they weren’t caloric- just that they are simple… and healthy!

APPLE with peanut butter and chocolate

That apple slicer is amazing– I remember jumping for joy when someone bought it for me as a gift. It’s the simple things in life that make me happy too! And chocolate of course! I never would have dreamed years ago that I could eat chocolate everyday. I wasn’t even a hugh chocolate fan back then. I was literally a sugar freak- in the form of straight up candy. I would get mesmerized by the colorful packaging as each candy called me out by name. The interesting thing is that these companies spend millions of dollars creating marketing campaigns to do just this persuasion on children- so not right! I saw the most magnificent isle in the Shop Rite by my Mom’s house- a CANDY FREE ISLE! lol oh thank goodness they didn’t have those when I was a kid! Luckily, now I only experience that whirlwind when I am in the vegan chocolate isle of a really good health food store like the Westerly on 52nd street and 5th avenue! 

Anyway back to my apple- 
AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY! Apples are also great for digestion. They are a good source of vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids and phytosterols- they are a raw food, alkaline and contain important fiber. Apples are on the EWG list of highly sprayed fruits and vegetables so do buy organic… and local for that matter. There is no need to buy apples from China- this results in high fossil fuel usage for no reason. I love the Chinese culture, my chinese herbs and teas- but no need to get apples when I live in New York State!

Oh… the peanut butter! Yes it has some saturated fat but for me- it’s my protein! It’s better to buy your peanut butter organic- you can even try other nut butters such as almond butter and cashew butter. One day this year- I will make my own from scratch!

10 Easy TIPS to go GREEN

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 19th 2012 blog]