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Vegan day 93: Miracle rice: shirataki

Shirataki- what? 
Now four people have asked me about this- what is it? I had researched it a little bit but since I stay away from pasta and noodles I didn’t venture over to tasting it, until a friend of mine brought it right over to me. Miracle rice.. hmm? The package says guilt free, zero calories, soy free and gluten free– what is this? Could this be the first time I allow something pasta-like back into my diet after eliminating it almost 2 and 1/2 years ago?

I have seen tofu shirataki noodles and now the miracle rice or shirataki rice. Shirataki is made from the root of the konnyaku imo plant (konjac plant). It is also known as elephant yam although it’s not a yam as we know it. What’s good here is the soluble fiber known as glucomannan.

Benefits of shirataki 
(summed up from an excellent blog post: Healthy Cooking Coach) 
are that it:

  • slows down digestion
  • slows down the release of carbohydrates
  • provides a feeling of fulness
  • allows for better control of blood sugar and energy
  • binds with bile acids enhancing excretion of cholesterol
  • is a welcomed food for those with diabetes, high cholesterol, constipation or excess body weight
WebMD says:
Glucomannan might work in the stomach and intestines by absorbing water to form a bulky fiber which treats constipation. It may also slow the absorption of sugar and cholesterol from the gut, helping to control sugar levels in diabetes, and reducing cholesterol levels.” See the reference link below for more uses and side effects. 

I added this miracle rice to a recipe from CLEAN START by Terry Walters:

Asian Spinach with Peanut Ginger Sauce

Peanut butter 3T
Ginger freshly grated 2t
Tamari 1t
Maple syrup (organic grade B) 1t
Sesame oil or hot sesame oil 1/2t
Hot water 3T
Peanuts chopped 2T
Miracle rice 1 package

(1) First I opened the package of shirataki- so excited to taste it. I didn’t even need to cook it- I tasted it right from the package and of course, I liked it! I drained and rinsed it for 10 seconds under cool water, then I flashed cooked it as the packaging suggested: boil water and pour the rinsed rice into the pot- cook for about one minute and drain again. 
(2) I used a large bring frying pan and filled it with 1/4 inch of water- to a boil. Lower the heat, add the spinach for 30 seconds to 2 minutes so the spinach still has form. 
(3) Separately, whisk together peanut butter, ginger, tamari, maple syrup, sesame oil and hot water. 

Drain the spinach well and then place in serving dish. Add the miracle rice on top. Drizzle the sauce over both and finish off with peanuts. Ok my peanut sauce is a little thick- I probably was heavy handed while measuring the peanut butter and maple syrup-oops- guilty pleasures!

I actually loved the miracle rice and will now implement this into my weekly diet. It’s super fast- you can eat it right out of the package. It adds soluble fiber to any meal and its zero calories- really- need I say more!

The package is simply purified water, konnyaku (Glucomannan) and Calcium Hydroxide. 
Interestingly, the label reads ZERO in every category including calories, carbohydrates and sugar– except for one– and that’s IRON @ 8%. 

This x-pasta user recovering from past pasta addiction finally approves a pasta-like food!  

Chef Rachel. (2009). Health Cooking Coach… Inspiring Healthy Choices. Miracle Noodles. Retrieved from: http://www.thehealthycookingcoach.com/2009/04/miracle-noodles.html

Miracle Noodle News Report (YouTube)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaCGfC6FdkA&feature=player_embedded#!

Web MD. Glucomannan. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-205-GLUCOMANNAN.aspx?activeIngredientId=205&activeIngredientName=GLUCOMANNAN


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 April 2nd 2012 blog]

Vegan day 92: Cranberry beans

Just because it looks pretty- doesn’t necessarily mean you are suppose to eat it!  
I was drawn in by their bright red color and blotted design. I’m sure somewhere, people eat these in their whole form both raw and cooked. 

Well not knowing much about this- I jumped right in. I treated them as normal string bean pods and set them in a stir fry pan with orange and yellow bell peppers, sun dried tomatoes and strips of tofu. All was good and well until I tried eating them. I can eat food raw and/ or slightly cooked plus I have a special palate, but these seemed off- so much that I had to google it.

No one seemed to cook with these whole bean pods- I realized that you are suppose to shell the beans. This information changed everything- I could have made cooked cranberry beans with something interesting I’m sure, even though these beautifully colored beans would loose their gorgeous color! Anyway, mid way through cooking and tasting them, I striped the beans from their pods and ended up with a much smaller dish. Honestly, I couldn’t even finish the beans- they were a little too hearty for me.

 Apparently, these beans are known by other names as well: borlotti, shell beans and French horticultural beans. They are also known to have a mild chestnut flavor. 

Health benefits of these and most beans are:

  • VITAMIN B6 and other vitamins
  • MAGNESIUM and other minerals
BEANS also provide protein, act as a complex carbohydrates slowing down sugar absorption and are known to lessen risks for certain diet related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. 


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 April 1st 2012 blog]

Vegan day 91: Tofu scramble

I make a slamming TOFU SCRAMBLE! I guess that’s because I always made great scrambled eggs- who can mess that up? lol- plenty of people- trust me! 

If you are not already vegan and you have an open mind- this dish can taste great and be healthy as well. For the record, no one is saying to eat tofu or soy every day. The soy debate is a very heated one for sure. I believe I have mentioned it before in an earlier blog– as with most foods- it’s the processing itself that needs to be limited. It’s probably not a great idea to eat “animal” substitutions made of soy everyday- ex) soy chicken, soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy milk, soy protein shakes etc. I mean – do what you need to if you are interested in transitioning your diet- but know that it’s not healthy for a long-term habit. Fermented foods, however, are of the healthier types. This includes most tofu, tempeh, natto, miso and shoyu. 

Still moderation is key and there are other high protein vegetarian foods as well such as beans, lentils, peas, hemp, nuts, seeds, seitan and some grains.

Tofu scramble:

~Tofu- I use firm or extra firm.
~Vegetables- Onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms etc.
~Earth balance buttery spread or extra virgin coconut oil (sometimes extra virgin olive oil)
~Turmeric powder
~Hot sauce or chilis
~Sea salt and black pepper

* Whatever spices you desire!

DRY THE TOFU FIRST! (see yesterday’s blog on how). This makes it easy to crumble!
Set the frying pan as you would to make scrambled eggs- sauté the oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes etc. Then crumble in the tofu– keep stirring and add in the spices. Let the tofu take on the flavors, then it’s ready- I would say 10-15 minutes!

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 31st 2012 blog]

Vegan day 90: Lauren’s tofu delight

Every holiday season at work, we have a “cook your favorite dish” potluck type party. My friend Lauren made such a delicious combination of baked tofu with roasted vegetables and mango that I have been talking about it ever since. 

It’s so good that the “vegetarians and vegans” have to tell the rest of our co-workers that it’s not chicken“go eat the meat foods” lol. Actually, we do want everyone to know how good vegan food is so that they are not afraid of it – so they have options – so they can be healthier and so that we can together reduce the animal and environmental stresses caused from the industry.

Twice I had tried to recreate this delicious meal and twice my tofu was too soft and moist and the vegetables a bit over cooked. I had the procedures backwards and I got caught red-handed for not following directions. We made it together now- I will take you step by step

The key is– to dry out the tofu first, then bake it (just the tofu) and afterwards, roast the vegetables from hardest to softest on the stove top for a short time.

Lauren’s tofu delight

Tofu (one package for every 2-4 people; extra firm)
Snap peas
Orange bell peppers
Red bell peppers
Water (2 cups)
Teriyaki sauce

STEP (1)
DRY the tofu! Take the tofu out from the water packing. Lay it flat on a paper towel with another paper towel on top and press gently. Do this a few times. Next cut the tofu depth wise into 3 pieces so each piece is still in the same length and width dimensions. Lay these pieces on new paper towel and press gently again. You can now cut these pieces of tofu into cubes- still patting the tofu with paper towel. Put the cubes onto a lightly greased (coconut oil) baking tray and then into an oven that has been pre-heated to 425 degrees. Lower the oven slightly and bake for about 15 minutes until lightly browned. 

STEP (2)
Cut the veggies into nice size chunks. Begin with a wok or medium to large sauce pan: add the vegetables that may take longer. The idea is for all the vegetables to be ready at the same time. Start with some olive oil- put the broccoli in first, onions, garlic and carrots. Add the water when needed. The faster cooking vegetables are next- the mushrooms and pepper – then the snap peas! You can change up the order. 

STEP (3)
While the veggies are roasting- put the baked tofu in a separate small sauce pan and add a teriyaki sauce of your choosing- hopefully, a healthier style one with less sugar, salt and calories. I personally like tamari and sesame oil.

STEP (4)
Combine the sauced up tofu and the diced mango into the veggie wok or saucepan. Fresh cut pineapple and it’s juices also work great! Top with tamari and sesame oil if needed! This is a great dish to make family or party style.

Video to make your own teriyaki sauce 

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 30th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 89: Pulp patties

PULP PATTIES— that’s what I call what I attempted to make! I had heard that burgers could be made from the pulp created from juicing. I made a large pitcher of juice for my friends and I. I had so much pulp that I wanted to try it!

Here is a blurb from my favorite vegan Facebook page “VEGANISM“: 

“This is the good part…..I take the pulp and put it in a large mixing bowl, add cumin, turmeric, curry, cayenne, one full cup of fresh ground flax seeds, Bragg Amino Acid, two cups of sprouted beans (you fan skip the beans of you want) and chopped red oinions. I mix the concoction thoroughly and then form them into patties and place them ever so gently on a baking sheet. I put them in the oven for thirty to forty minutes at 400 degrees.

They are delicious and full of fiber, vitamins, enzymes, no fat, very little if any calories and very filling. For all of your non-vegan friends and kids, serve them like that meat alliterative that we all hate so much. Put them between a healthy sprouted bun, add some tomatoes and onions and go ahead and buy some organic sugar free ketchup and mustard and your non-vegan doubters will be shocked on how delicious these organic vegetables patties are……….”

As I read this back now I realize that I tried to fry them.. mistake number one because they came apart a little plus I had to use oil- too much! Secondly, I didn’t have ground flax seed– I think a binder like that would have helped. 

The results:
The patties had flavor but the texture was off. 

The FUNNY PART is — the meat eater friend of ours ate it- the vegetarians and myself .. not so much! Meat eaters will eat anything lol.. hehe just kidding! I will make this again- I juice every day- so I have lots of pulp that I hate wasting! I will let you know when I get it right. 

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 29th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 88: Banana cashew ice cream smoothie

Cheater– lol- yes I am! I wanted a quick vegan snack! I was hanging out with one major meat eater and 2 vegetarians.. lol- they had to know we (vegans) can do fun shakes and snacks too! I really enjoy finding non health food stores that carry vegan items! When you think about it, dairy free items are on the rise and should be even more popular than they are due to the high rate of people who are lactose intolerant.

This shake was really basic- just a banana and ice cream! The ice cream is made from cashew nuts. The brand I found here is from Organic Nectars: Cashewtopia! 

You can make your own – I’m just not at that level yet! 
Here is a video to make raw cashew yogurt/ ice cream: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuD5relVXhQ

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 28th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 87: Maple mustard and tahini glazed carrots

Where does one find TAHINI while up in the mountains?? I’m away for a few days with CLEAN START so yes I’m craving to prepare more than one recipe– and that’s why I’m out of a few ingredients as well. If you want things like mirin, vegenaise, special flours and I’m sorry to say TAHINI- then you must pack them ahead of time! I’m so loving this way of cooking but I have to be careful of these sauces- just a little too delicious if you know what I mean! 

It’s almost adventurous so seek out ingredients or when that fails– ingredient substitutes. That’s where the creativity and brainstorming comes in. First was the search for maple syrup grade B— well we lucked out being in the land of maple syrup makers. That was easy to find– local and fresh too! Tahini was another story. At least they had heard of tahini- I can’t say the same for myself only but a few years ago. So how do you substitute tahini— not very easily because it has a unique taste. My friends wanted to use tamari or sesame seeds. I felt the tamari would be too salty and of course- sesame seeds were not readily available either. Even if they were, how does one get from the sesame seed to the tahini- I know- I have to google it.. and I will. Meantime, I used what first came to mind when I tried tahini and that is peanut butter- SCORE!

Maple mustard and tahini glazed carrots

1 pound of baby carrots
2T maple syrup
1T whole grain mustard
1t of tahini
1t lemon juice
sea salt to taste

The picture in the book I must admit is way better but these tasted so good I didn’t really mind!

Walters, T. 2010. Clean Start. Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well. New York, NY: Sterling Epicure

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 27th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 86: Kale, sweet potato and white bean soup

Back to CLEAN START by Terry Walters. I have to admit- we rocked this recipe out! Feel free to cook with friends or family- it makes it more fun working together to knock out a good recipe! There isn’t a picture in the book for this one- but ours came out spectacular

I have to say these are favorites of mine all around- kale I cannot get enough of, sweet potatoes I am in love with and beans– well they are really good for you (and your stomach will eventually get used to them in case you are newly vegetarian and wondering lol).

Kale, Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup

Onion– 1 small yellow diced
Ginger– 2T grated
Extra virgin olive oil– 1T
Celery– 3 stalks diced
Sweet potato– 2 diced ( the recipe called for one peeled fyi- I am in the habit of leaving most skins on for extra nutritional value)
White beans- 3 cups (we used canned for convenience)
Mirin– 3T (Mirin is a cooking wine made from rice- we didn’t have this on hand nor did we have any sake so it was a toss up between brown rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar- I believe the brown rice vinegar won)
Kale– chopped
Vegetable stock– we used water because I was out of veggie stock- I can’t even imagine this soup with more flavor!
Nutmeg, black pepper, sea salt and gomasio or toasted sesame seeds

(I altered the “how to” a little) Begin with a medium to large sized pot and add in the oil, onions and ginger. Next you can add the celery, sweet potatoes, beans, spices and water to cover. I let this cook until the sweet potatoes were on the softer side. Lastly, I added the chopped kale. As if that wasn’t a meal in and of itself- I made a side of quinoa and served it together! Incredible!

Walters, T. 2010. Clean Start. Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well. New York, NY: Sterling Epicure

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 26th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 85: Kale chips

Kale Chips

(They should be crispy and crunchy- these are in case you cannot tell from the picture)

Go to any health food store and you will see many variations of kale chips. Sure they are tasty but they do have extra ingredients- honesty, you can make it yourself at hardly any cost! Some kale chips have cheese added therefore those in particular are also not vegan. I do like to eat things fresh out of the oven – that’s why I make my own! I do love my snacks so I try to stick with the healthier ones. 

The first time I made these I massaged the olive oil on each kale piece- nice.. but I found an easier way. I washed my kale well and then patted it dry. I cut the kale into pieces to resemble 3 to 4 inch size chips. Sometimes I included the stem and sometimes I cut just the leaf part. I put them in  a mixing bowl, added 2T of olive oil and massaged the oil in covering both sides of the leaves. Next they were placed onto a baking sheet covered with tin foil and slightly greased with coconut oil. Sprinkle sea salt on top- put them in the oven and keep an eye out. I think it was just under 10 minutes. Add nutritional yeast after for extra flavor or nutrition. Nutritional yeast is a great source of vegetarian protein and B vitamins!

If you like video instructions– try these:

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 25th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 84: Trinity roots rice

Healthatarian— when I thought of this word, it was all about eating for health purposes- making choices to increase nutritional benefits. This begins with eliminating or reducing foods that take away from health. I have finally come to enjoy eating healthy- fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouts and lean proteins. I further believe in herbs– the kind we drink as teas, take as tinctures or supplements and those used for culinary purposes. Culinary herbalism is an art that goes back throughout history. Cooking or preparing foods with spices and herbs not only gives it flavor but added health benefits- some would even say medicinal! This is one reason that I may use herbs like ginger, ginseng or astragalus in my meals. Really, I am a beginner in the world of herbology and it’s simply FASCINATING! I am currently enrolled in Holistic Health which I will be extending through to an HERBALIST program- I absolutely love it. There is so much to learn though– and one day I came across an online class at CULINARY HERBALISM lead by K.P. Khalsa. He is a co-author of one of the book: The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs. One of the recipes in this online class called for TRINITY RICE. I made it the first time with ghee. Ghee is clarified butter made by melting butter and skimming the top off. Ghee is not vegan so this time I substituted it with my favorite extra virgin coconut oil. Next time I make it- I will use half what I did this time. Butter.. ghee.. oil.. it’s still FAT and FATTENING in quantity (ghee probably having the least amount)- I am open to suggestions for vegan alternatives! “TRINTY ROOTS” is the name given to the 3 popular basics in herbology and in cooking: onions, garlic and ginger! 

Trinity Roots Rice

Onions- 2 medium sized
Garlic- 2 cloves
Ginger root- 1 inch peeled and chopped finely
Rice- 1 cup (I used brown)
Ghee 1/2 cup – 3/4 (not vegan) therefore you need a substitute in a lesser amount. I used 1/2 cup of extra virgin coconut oil- next time I will do only 1/4!
Tomato- 1 chopped
Vegetables 4-5 cups- I used bell peppers, and extra tomatoes kale

Saute the onion, garlic and ginger in the vegan oil of choice until they are soft. Then add the vegetables, rice and 4 cups of water. Cover and simmer on low heat.

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 24th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 83: Open-faced portabella mushroom sandwich

Open-faced portabella mushroom sandwich

Portabella mushrooms- whole or sliced
Potato flour to thicken (just a pinch- other flours would work too)
Olive oil
Ezekiel bread (2) slices

Portabella mushrooms are on the sexier side of vegetables! They are incredible and hearty on their own, mixed with other vegetables, served on the side or even as “burgers.” I bought some the other day and was wondering how I should prepare them. I haven’t advanced yet to the portabella bun-less “stacked” veggie masterpiece that I was served in Vegas last year and that I chef friend of mine replicated- no I’m not there yet. I settled for my childhood version of an open-faced sandwich with some type of gravy!

Honestly, it was delicious and fulfilling! I sautéed the onions and garlic in some olive oil. After they had softened, I added the mushrooms, some tamari (1-2T) and a little water. It was coming along nicely but I wanted it a little thicker so I decided to add some flour- just a tiny bit!

I toasted 2 pieces of ezekiel bread and spread some vegenaise on them. I topped the mushrooms and the mixture over the bread! So delicious!

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 23rd 2012 blog]

Vegan day 82: KIM CHEE

I went to a class today: The Miracle of Lacto-Fermentation at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health, taught by Peter Berley. 
I enjoy making my own food from scratch when I can.. also my own beauty products like skin cream, facial cleansers and scrubs. There is something both fun and empowering to creating what you will use or consume. I’m into sprouting too lol- but I have never fermented any foods such as cabbages or pickles. I have always wanted to do this for the benefits of building healthy bacterial flora. Our intestinal flora has been and continues to be compromised thanks to antibiotic misuse, processed foods and GMOs.

I was going to blog this at a later date when I actually fully prepared KIM CHEE by myself but a few friends asked for the “how to” and besides, I did my share of chopping and squishing! I’ll take you through my experience before I forget the details– umm ginkgo hello! lol

(as per Peter Berley)

Nappa cabbage 5 pounds
Apple 1 cup peeled and grated
Carrot  2 cups peeled and grated
Scallion 2 bunches, thinly sliced
Daikon radish or turnip, thinly sliced
Sea salt or kosher salt 4 T
Garlic 1-2 heads, peeled and left whole
Onion medium size, chopped roughly
Soy sauce 1T (to replace traditional fish sauce)
Korean red pepper flakes (or dried or fresh chills)

~We cut the cabbage lengthwise and removed the cores. Next, we sliced the cabbage crossway into 1/2 inch strips. 

~The carrots and scallions were chopped and thrown into a big stainless steel mixing bowl with the cabbage. 

~Today, Peter advised us to make a brine instead of crushing the cabbage with sea salt into a mix of part cabbage and part juice which is common. This entailed measuring out enough water to cover the cabbage mix plus a sea salt ratio of (1 and 1/4 cup salt to 5 quarts of water-adjust accordingly- this is the same as one tablespoon of salt per cup of water)

~Let the brine soak into the cabbage for 2 hrs and then drain it off keeping some to add back to fill the pickling jar. Basically, the cabbage will fill the pickling jar and may need some of that brine to keep it submerged.   

~While the cabbage mixture was soaking in the brine, we prepared other ingredients in a food processor: we mixed the apple, daikon, garlic, onion and red pepper flakes– wow- lots of chilis!

~Finally we mixed the drained cabbage bowl with the food processor content. Gloves work well here

~The soy sauce is sprinkled in last. Traditionally, fish sauce is used- I was “vegan-ly” crushed to hear that– now I most definitely have to make it myself!  

~Once mixed together, we packed the KIMCHEE into a pickling jar (adding the drained brine back to submerge it completely and left it to ferment for 7 days.

Pickling jars

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 22nd 2012 blog]

Vegan day 81: Vegan SMORES

I get excited when I see marshmallows! It all goes back to when I was a little girl. I would sell chocolate covered marshmallows on the neighborhood street corner like kids sell lemonade- the only problem was that I ate at least half of them. That could have been where my sugar habits began but my Mom and Dad both said NO- they caught me with chocolate all over myself at about age 2! I was sitting on the living room floor in my party dress with a box of chocolate all over me and my little black poodle, Monique licking the chocolate off my face. For the record- no chocolate for dogs!

Most of my childhood though, I was a sugar kid with the focus on candy not necessarily chocolate. It actually wasn’t until I went healthy that chocolate became an everyday love affair

Let’s get right to the calculations though- your average chocolate bar, one of mine being ALTER ECO 85% organic dark chocolate is about 250 calories per serving with 2.5 servings in the bar. That means you have to break 1/3 of that bar into 1/2 lol- and then, and only then- you can eat chocolate every day! hehe

The marshmallow craze started with selling them on a street corner but it also extended through many a day of fluffernutter (check out the commercial haha)  sandwiches, marshmallow rice crispy treats, sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving with marshmallows and summertime SMORES. Thanks to toaster ovens and microwaves- SMORES can be any season now! (For the record- I dumped my microwave years ago – so toaster oven it was for me.) 

I am a fan of Sweet & Sara
I tracked them down after searching for vegan graham crackers (no honey) to make Alicia Silverstone’s peanut butter cups– an earlier blog. This company has an amazing marshmallow sampler (no gelatin).

So here I am looking for a snack- I had vegan graham crackers, vegan marshmallows and vegan chocolate– so I just had too! I really better go for an extra long walk tomorrow or maybe even a jog!

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 21st 2012 blog]

Vegan day 80: HanGawi- Korean and Vegan in NYC

Voted BEST KOREAN restaurant in NYC (ZAGAT 2012)and it happens to be vegan! I love this kind of dining! This is the sister restaurant of Franchia, which I wrote about in an earlier blog.

I loved my experience at Franchia, so as one might expect- I couldn’t wait to go to HanGawi. 

I knew it too would be on the more expensive end and authentic- as we had to take our shoes off. I was catching up with an ol’ friend who happens to like mostly upscale Japanese places so I thought this would be perfect- and of course I’m on a mission to go to all the vegan hot spots- so vegan was a must!

I adore those restaurants where it’s “shoes off”– where you sit on pillows at a table and your feet drop below- so cute! HanGawi’s mission is conscious food for your body and soul: seasonally balanced through forces of yin and yang!

This experience as with Franchia, began with a choice of wonderful teas– this time I went with a high-end green tea. Green tea’s really have a huge range in costs and qualities.

I would enjoy a green tea class somewhere – kind of like wine tasting but green tea tasting lol– and cooking with green tea– and using green tea medicinally. That would be fun! I don’t know enough about it but one thing for sure-
it’s healthy!
mushroom sizzler

 This restaurant too had those stone rice dishes– oh my- I just had to have that again! And so- the ordering began! 

This is just the reason I try not to go out to eat- because I seem to think that I am an Ancient King who’s only purpose in life is to eat and indulge- and I did!  

vegetable stone bowl with brown rice

We ordered a kimchi salad to start and kale pancakes that were to die for! If only I could make those- and mark my words- I WILL! For entrees, we ordered the mushroom sizzler on a hot stone plate and the stone bowl mixed vegetable dish with organic brown rice. 

I absolutely DID NOT NEED DESSERT! I had already broke the “take leftovers” rule- since there were none! I had to though- I haven’t really dined out all month so it was deserving! The dessert was impressive to say the least– a sampler- as if! lol

My only issue was the balancing of “tea-ware”. I think I spilled my tiny cup like 10 times. They give you a big thermos of boiling water that you use to fill your small pouring cup which then goes over the tea leaves in the tiny teapot. Next you steep that and then pour into the tiny teacup. I felt like I was in Alice in Wonderland or something! 

Final notes: I prefer the tea experience and the flavor of the stone rice bowl better at Franchia- the rest of the dishes, the dessert and the ambiance- HanGawi! Both places are simply amazing and worth the trip- vegan or NOT!

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 20th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 79: Oatmeal raisin cookies

If ever I saw a healthier style cookie recipe- this is it! I am a fan of many of the ingredients here especially oats, almond butter, dates and walnuts! The best part is- I made this without using my delicious fake vegan butter or any sugar- organic, un-refined or whatever else you want to call it. I mean a cookie is still a cookie– these are not calorie free by any means but if you can eat them in moderation or for pre or post workouts then they look like an amazing healthy alternative!

The most exciting part of this recipe is that I learned how to make date honey– not that it’s difficult but hey, I never knew! Honey from bees is not considered vegan! Without bees, there would be no pollination- big problems! Honeybees, for the most part, are exploited! I linked a movie below that I am going to watch soon to understand this better myself. Honey is a sneaky non-vegan ingredient lol. It finds it’s way into breads, crackers, granola bars and so on! Vegans have to be careful and ask a lot of questions here. Non vegans-it’s best to ask for raw and unprocessed honey- those are the healthier types. 

Oatmeal raisin cookies
Exact recipe from a friend who was looking to cut refined sugar and sugar substitutes out of her diet ~ thanks D.

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup Almond flour
1 cup creamy cashew butter or creamy almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup Date Honey (Recipe for Date Honey is below, make in advance)
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats, almond flour, cashew butter, applesauce, and date honey in a large bowl until well combined. Add raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon. Stir well. Drop by spoonfuls, two inches apart, on an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet. Flatten and shape into circles. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Yield: 18-20 servings (serving size: 1 cookie)

Recipe for Date Honey:

1 cup pitted dates
1 cup water
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pour dates and water into a small saucepan, making sure dates are completely covered (add additional water if necessary). Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 45-60 minutes or until dates are very soft and broken down. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly for about 15 minutes. Pour mixture (including liquid) into a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth. Sprinkle in cinnamon and stir well. Store in a sealed container in refrigerator.

Queen of the Sun- movie trailer
The Importance of Bees to our Food Supply

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 19th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 78: Turkish red lentil balls

This is one of those rare days that I actually say to myself– wow I think I can really cook! I never would have thought up this recipe yet it was so simple and healthy. My Mom read this to me one day over the phone- right out of a White Plains local newspaper. People still read newspapers even though they make your hands dirty lol and they still use the US Postal Service to mail things out lol– that’s why I was so happy to get this delicious recipe in the mail! I guess you can tell that I am a spoiled internet junkie! I love when people share recipes with me- on Facebook, via email or even the good ol’ fashion way. I’m not sure what generally makes me pick one- certainly, I can get to them all since I still have 287 days left

I liked this recipe because it is yet another way for me to eat more legumes. I have to say- never would I eat lentils, beans, peas.. any of them! I was a pasta and gummy bear kinda girl most of my life! 
I swear you have to fully close one door to fully open another! By making tough diet changes, I was able to see the world of food through a different light! Luckily, for the direction my own health was probably heading in- I made the changes! Now legumes– yes lentils– are a blessing!

Turkish Red Lentil Balls
from a WP newspaper dated February 29, 2012

Red lentils (1 cup uncooked)
Bulgur, fine (1/2 cup uncooked)
Extra-virgin olive oil 2T
Yellow onion (1 large)
Harissa- red chili paste (1T)
Cumin, ground (1T)
Scallions (3 finely chopped)
Parsley (3T finely chopped)
Salt (3/4t)
Ground pepper
Boston or butter lettuce- torn into 30 small pieces
Lemon wedges

I followed this recipe to the point! I began with 2 1/2 cups of water set to a boil, then I added the lentils on a slow simmer/ low heat for about 15 minutes. I mixed in the bulgur, covered the pot and turned off the heat. Let that sit 15 minutes. 

In another saucepan, I heated the oil and onions for about 8 minutes- then adding in the chili paste and cumin.

I combined these mixtures in a mixing bowl, added a the scallions, parsley and a little salt and pepper and mixed by hand (with gloves on). If the mixture is too moist add some bulgar and let it absorb into the mix- another 15 minutes. I did have to do that! Final step is to roll small amounts into the shape of mini footballs and position onto the lettuce. Sprinkle some scallions and parsley onto the finished plate and have lemon wedges ready. When you are ready to eat these squeeze fresh lemon right on. I was amazed how good they were! I even made a wrap afterwards with a fresh raw collard green on the outside!

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 18th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 77: Asparagus with lemon- tahini dressing

For years I have been locked into the combination of asparagus with and a raspberry vinaigrette. Although delicious, it was time to try something new. I almost always pan sear the asparagus or grill them- again both wonderfully flavorful! Today I decided though to simply steam my vegetables – I used asparagus over dandelion greens. Tahini is new found for me so I figured it might go well today with some lemon added in. I was so pleasantly surprised! This recipe makes for a nice snack on its own or can be served with a lean protein for a lunch or dinner meal. Enjoy~

Asparagus with lemon- tahini dressing served over dandelion greens

Asparagus- 2 bunches
Dandelion leaves- 1/2 bunch

The dressing

My steamer is rather tall and has two compartments. First I steamed the asparagus for almost 10 minutes in the bottom part and then I put the dandelion in the top part of the steamer for 30 seconds. That’s all it takes folks lol!

The dressing measurements are to my memory- I think it was 2 full tablespoons of tahini (or more), 1T of fresh squeezed lemon juice, a few tablespoons of water, 1t of shoyu (or soy sauce/ tamari would work too) and one finely chopped garlic clove. 

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 17th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 76: Kale tosadas

There are a few foods that I try to avoid at all costs – that would be mostly all (non-organic) corn and soy products because I truly believe that genetically engineered foods (GMO’s) are horrible for our bodies and that one day this will all come to light! I believe that GMO’s are involved with many allergies, organ growths, inflammation and altered gut bacteria. 
For these health reasons and other moral and political reasons, I try to avoid corn, soy, canola, cottonseed and sugar beets. Of course, this isn’t very easy as these products are ingredients in over 75% of all processed or packaged foods. 

Just look for the organic seal or the non-GMO project seal! 

I have not been able to find authentic “organic” Mexican tostadas or Colombian arepas – both made from corn. Corn is a vegetable and can actually be good for you especially since it is one of the few grains that have an alkalinizing effect on the body. So, I have to admit- I make some exceptions to my hard and fast “No GMO” rule. One is tostadas. Since my favorite vegan Colombian restaurant in Brooklyn is “temporarily” closed for renovation, I had to make my own KALE TOSTADAS!

Oh so good!

Kidney beans
Olive oil
Fresh lime
Hot sauce

Today I used the traditional tostada or tortilla but you can also use these- I generally prefer them 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.

[Friday 16th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 75: Real orange juice

I don’t generally drink the orange juice that’s bottled or mass produced like Tropicana- basically because of the sugar and processing. Fresh orange juice however is so refreshing! Normally, I would order this out- they have those big machines that press the orange for juice. Have I ever juiced my own oranges?– no, I actually haven’t. I have been watching some of Jay Kordich’s juicing videos lately and there was one on juicing oranges. It looked so good that I actually became thirsty for a fresh orange juice. I have also been using fresh juice in recipes- whether orange, lemon or lime- I decided to buy a little hand held juice grinder- the one where you cut the fruit in half and physically press it. It worked fine, but according to Jay- I am missing important nutrients by not including the outer white layer of the fruit. The skins are to be peeled- but the next layer of white is all good stuff. 

The white inner coating of the peel, called the albedo, contains vitamin C, fiber, limonene, pectin and glucarate.” ~ LIVESTRONG. 

“The white pulpy part of the orange is the primary source of its flavonoids. Flavonoids are colorful pigments that support numerous metabolic processes in the body. The juicy orange-colored sections of the orange contain most of its vitamin C.” ~ World’s Healthiest Foods

My friend skinned some oranges for me– and we dropped them in my Breville juicer. I thought it would only make 1 glass but it made 2- from only 4 oranges! The juice was thicker and creamier than a typical glass of so-called fresh orange juice. I was simply amazed- it’s the little things you know!

Jay Kordich video

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 15th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 74: Kale Confetti Salad with Toasted Sunflower Seeds

The book CLEAN FOOD by Terry Walters was a wonderful gift for me this past Christmas from a good friend of mine. “Clean Food“– this concept as Terry explains it is really the closest way of life that I have found so far to my “Healthatarian” concept. Clean Food is about eating for nutrition in a simple, clean, organic, local, seasonal and sustainable way… and the kicker is.. it just happens to be vegan. My goal of becoming a “healthy vegan” is really all about health.. in a manner that doesn’t cause any harm to animals as well. If it can be done.. and you can be healthy and save animals and the planet– hey WHY NOT? With education in any form– comes responsibility. I am aggressively studying holistic nutrition and yes I want to share what I have learned. If you feel like learning a little bit more about a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle in every which way- check out this fun movie “Get Vegucated”. Since I do not know many vegans (aww)- I have reached out on TWITTER to see whats going on and maybe form some connections. From Twitter, I caught information that Terry Walters was going to be at the Tribeca Whole Foods – so I went to meet her, hear her speak and watch her cook. She prepared this kale salad so I had to make it. What was interesting here was this massage effect of the ingredients with the kale. If you could learn to love kale- it’s one of the healthiest vegetables for sure! The demonstration bowl of kale was over the top. The “virgo” in me was looking like how on earth are you going to add all those ingredients and not spill anything- not that I’m not I messy cook- because I SO AM!! She didn’t make a mess however and the kale did surprising give in to the message- pretty cool– and off the hook!

This recipe is from Terry’s second book called CLEAN START.

Raw Kale Confetti Salad with Toasted Sunflower Seeds
This is the original recipe:

2 bunches of kale (4 heaping cups)
2T extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
1t fresh grated ginger
1/2 avocado
3T chopped onions
3T red bell peppers
1 carrot chopped
3T sunflower seeds
1T lemon juice
1T lime juice

During the demonstration, Terry used white cannelloni beans- that would have been nice but I only had pink kidney beans so I used those instead. I also used way more avocado- probably too much. I have a bunch of avocados in my refrigerator so I thought I would use them. I am beginning to think I get paid in part– in avocados lol. I was complaining one day on Facebook about the price and now when I go to work, I get avocado gifts here and there lol- life is good! I also added extra lime juice. I put my gloves on and massaged away- when the olive oil and avocado massage into the kale it makes for a nice consistency, dressing and taste. Try it! Add the beans last- no massage for them!

Once again, the benefits of kale are:
  • Excellent source of vitamin K (1327% RDA)
  • Excellent source of vitamin A (192% RDA)
  • Great source of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber
  • Good source of copper, tryptophan, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium, iron and magnesium
  • High concentration of sulfur compounds (sulforaphane and isothiocyanates), “which increase the liver’s ability to produce enzymes that neutralize potentially toxic substances” (Mateljan 2007)
  • Rich in powerful phytonutrient antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin and carotenoids
  • Super low in calories

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

Walters, T. 2010. Clean Start. Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well. New York, NY: Sterling Epicure

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 14th 2012 blog]