"Reinventing Indulgence" One meal at a time!

Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Buffalo Cauliflower bites

IMG_4502Let’s cut to the chase- you could make anything “buffalo” style, serve it with a great dip and it would taste good. Admit it! I have never seen such a reaction to my vegan food as with this picture. It’s not like my friends are about to become vegan (although a girl can wish) but moreso that they can see the connection between something not healthy to something healthier. I’m all for that! Hence, my mission and name – Reinventing Indulgence.

Perhaps others can share my early addiction to buffalo chicken wings. One thing for sure, I had the best comparison there is. The best wings I had ever indulged in were at BJ’s in Fredonia, upstate New York and they were 10 cents; sorry folks but I don’t think it’s there anymore. I have been to Anchor bar in Bufflao where they boast “Home of the Original Buffalo Wing”; they were good but I still thought BJ’s wings were better- crispy not wet. Anyone from Buffalo can tell ya.. they know wings! It’s interesting how we all get so far removed from the animal when discussing eating choices, good times and the memories associated. It’s actually so odd now even saying it.. wings. We eat (ate) the wings off a bird and deep fry them in hot sauce. It’s kinda gross and of course not to mention – cruel. So I’m glad to see the craze returning for something that does not involve an animal part. Although like I said, you can pretty much deep fry anything and throw it in hot sauce.

Cauliflower. Here we go – you don’t have to deep fry or even fry it. You can bake these. I have heard a few of my friends making these and have been excited to try it. I have had pretty good vegan wings – V Spot in Brooklyn, made from soy and Champs, also in Brooklyn, made from tempeh.

Cauliflower works for me so I made a first attempt.

IMG_4428IMG_4430Umm- not so good!
I somewhat followed a PETA recipe with my nonchalant ADD type of way.
Take (1) – it didn’t taste very well. I used whole wheat flour. I have four flours in my home at the moment – coconut, potato, whole wheat and Teff. The funny part is- I don’t even use them except to experiment. And that’s what this was. I used the whole wheat flour and soy milk. I dipped the cauliflower pieces in and baked it.

CALRVBrWgAAcqOvThey looked, felt and tasted gummy – in addition, I made a mess. The messy part was not surprising but the gummy was. Yuk. I dosed it in this amazing Brown’s Tahini Buffalo sauce that I bought at this past NYCVEGFEST. It was beginning to taste pretty good. I re-baked it like a few recipes say to do. The flavor seemed to get lost a bit. Afterwards, it was just ok. (For the record they were better on day 2.)

I had to try it again.

Take (2). This time I asked my friend Rachna and she jumped in excitement with her method which was using chick pea flour and club soda. Hmm.. now it’s getting interesting. I bought another head of cauliflower and tried it again. This time though I didn’t have that cool hot sauce. I had mexican hot sauce. I stopped by my favorite place to pay for over market-price fun niche items. I went in for E3 Live- came out spending $166 and didn’t even get the hot sauce because they didnt have Franks, which is my favorite. Funny thing, Whole Foods had a bunch of other sauces but I had to put a few down because of corn syrup (GMO) and egg whites, butter etc. It really shouldn’t be so difficult. It’s just hot sauce. It’s suppose to be vegan. IMG_4493

Back to the recipe; The buffalo sauce part called for butter – us vegans.. we got butter! No probs.. lets do this. I start mixing my hot sauce but it was super hot and not that thick so I had to add more butter. I started thinking.. this is not healthy lol But hey.. you think it is right because it’s cauliflower. I didn’t even get to the dip part. Just because it’s vegan- doesn’t mean it’s healthy. So I try to stop adding butter because I dont want a heart attack. I instead switch to tahini. Ok.. I like this. Next time though, when I’m in the mood for this, it’s Frank’s Red Hot or that cool Brown’s Tahini Buffalo sauce. Frank’s Original is definitely vegan. Surprisingly, even though the Frank’s “Wings” sauce says Natural Butter Type Flavor – it too is VEGAN! Major score!

Back to the butter ingredient in the recipe for a moment; dairy butter is fattening with a higher percentage of saturated fat than the vegan butter. It also comes from dairy cows fed a diet of GMO feed. Knock yourself out with the argument that you are using grass fed butter. Maybe one in 100k of you are. Do what you want but it’s still abuse at the animal level. As for those who want to indulge in vegan butter, it isn’t the healthiest thing either although you aren’t hurting any animals or supporting the dairy industry. There is plenty of research that saturated fats (especially from animals) and excess omega 6 fats should be minimized and I will definitely add to that and say especially when heated. That being said, remember my Mom’s favorite words.. “everything in moderation”! Food for thought: some doctors even say “no oil” at all – have you ever heard Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn MD. It’s definitely worth checking out. My favorite fats are flax, avocado, raw cacao, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil (not for heat) and extra virgin coconut oil, raw or to heat for sautés.

I know this blog is for my non-vegan friends so let me get to it:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Wash and cut the cauliflower into bite size pieces like 1 to 2 inches
  • Make a flour batter. I used Bob Mills garbanzo & Fava flour but regular garbanzo bean flour is good. I used between 1/4 to 1/3 of the bag for one head of cauliflower.
  • Mix it with some club soda– not too little, not too much. You don’t want the batter dripping thin but also not too thick and clunky. My friend said to use a cookie wire rack for the pieces of cauliflower to drip off after you dip them in the batter. I said, “do I look like a cookie maker to you?” lol. I had no idea what she was talking about! If you have it – use it!  You can put tin foil underneath so you don’t make a mess like I did. Actually, it’s called a cooling rack. I learn something new everyday! I’m not sure if they are technically made for inside the oven so please check what it’s made of. Many people do use it for that purpose but you should be careful of non stick surfaces in high oven temperatures. My friend likes it because the cauliflower can cook from underneath while dripping off excess batter. I am researching as I write; the oven friendly version is called a roasting pan if you want to get fancy.
  • Cook for 18 minutes. This is important. It’s best you don’t over cook it or they will be mushy. If you aren’t a professional baker with all sorts of equipment, then they might stick to the pan even, if you did grease it with coconut oil like I did.
  • Prepare the hot sauce mixture: approximately, 1 cup hot sauce and 1 tablespoon of vegan butter (have extra on hand of both if needed). I’d be lying if I didn’t say I used less hot sauce and more vegan butter. I added tahini as well. As previously mentioned, next time I will use Frank’s Red Hot and follow the recipe more precisely.
  • I put the baked cauliflower in a stainless steel bowl. I slowly and gently added the hot sauce mixture. You dont want the cauliflower to break apart or get mushy.
  • IMG_4495The recipes generally say to “rebake” for another 8 – 10 minutes. My friend said don’t rebake.”  I agree. I may try it again and do a taste test. Honestly, it was already great! How was i to wait another 10-15 minutes to eat it?
  • The “blue cheese”. Urgh.. you know how I feel about the overrated marketing trap of the dairy industry. Who needs blue cheese? The Buffalo Cauliflower Dip I made was so delicious. I used Hampton Creek’s JUST MAYO. Non vegans are raving about this. Weird but great! I roughly followed this recipe from 86lemons except I used more tahini and forgot about the tofu. Will try that next time.
  • So to sum up the dip part: I used approximately 3/4 cup Just Mayo, 1/4 cup tahini, fresh squeezed lemon, teaspoon apple cider vinegar, almost a tablespoon red wine vinegar and then garlic powder, give or take. I’m sorry, I need a class in recipe writing for sure!

Whatever the wing is.. soy, tempeh, cauliflower or any other vegetable, it’s still going to be all about the hot sauce, the dip and the lovely cut carrots and celery that make you feel like you didn’t just consume 500 calories. But hey.. if that helps you save the wings of one chicken then so be it. Go for it!

Visit my Pinterest to see other fun things you can do with cauliflower. Next up for me is cauliflower pizza. 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.

Cheers to the sweet potato!

“I’ll start juicing as soon as I get the right juicer or blender –
which one should I get?”
How many times have you said that? Anything to procrastinate right?

I might have a Vitamix but my Mom has style and grace! I was going for a pre-Thanksgiving day visit (yes it’s time to catch up on my blog entries). I had been on a smoothie kick and wanted to try something new and see if my Mom would get into smoothie making. It’s a quick and easy way to have a nutritious meal or snack. I was tempted to bring my Vitamix but figured my Mom would for sure have a blender. She has every kitchen appliance you could imagine or so I thought. I was bummed out with my sweet potato in hand as I realized there was no blender to be found. There was just a cheap $15 shaker/ mixer from who knows where. I was determined to make this shake even if it meant whisking or beating the ingredients by hand! It was called a Thanksgiving smoothie.

Don’t worry as I catch up on blog posts; you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to have this. It’s super healthy and packed with nutrition. Besides, everyday should be Thanksgiving anyway!

Sweet Potato Nutrition

  • Exceptionally rich in beta-carotene which the body converts to Vitamin A
  • Vitamin A is important for eyesight, growth & tissue healing, healthy skin, antioxidant protection and our overall immune system health.
  • Not considered a “nightshade” vegetable for those interested in reducing inflammation

I was amazed that this cheap little plastic shaker not only worked but did the job quite well. You know what that means right? NO EXCUSES! Anyone can do this anytime. The only real catch here is that you have to bake a sweet potato in advance. Sweet potatoes are amazing – loaded with nutrients. You can make a few at a time, refrigerate and then throw them in this smoothie to go.

 

IMG_3021I pretty much just followed the recipe here.

Spinach
Almond milk
Sweet potato (baked)
Frozen mango
Nutmeg
Cinnamon

A bit nervous about drinking my typical Thanksgiving vegetables, I was amazed how good this tasted. Although we began with a cheap shaker, I for sure couldn’t beat my Mom’s glassware and table setting.
It turned out to be a wonderful smoothie lesson. If anyone is procrastinating, now you know just go for it!

 

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.

Couscous stuffed bell peppers

IMG_2746Before the day and age of Pinterest, one would simply rip a recipe out of a magazine and go make it. My Mom still likes to do this. So there we were driving upstate and discussing the ingredients. It’s a good thing too because after the pumpkin picking, we headed into the Woodstock supermarket without, of course, the recipe and ingredient list. We lost it – for the record, this is why Pinterest is better lol. We winged it. I believe I had made them before except with wild rice. The couscous came out delicious. We stuffed them in the peppers and had a few light yet satisfying meals.

IMG_2748Couscous
Vegetable stock
Onions
Scallions
Cilantro
Grape tomatoes
Chick peas
Sea salt
Bell peppers
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

IMG_2764We cooked the couscous at about a 1.5 : 1 ratio of liquid to grain and then simply mixed in the spices, scallions, finely chopped cilantro and chick peas. It was already delicious right here. Then we stuffed it into the bell peppers and baked them. Afterwards online, I noticed that some people keep the tops to the bell peppers to put on after they are baked for a photo. I missed that photo opt. This is a great mini meal- healthy, tasty and fulfilling.

IMG_2752

Yes I confess, that is cheese on the left side. My Mom and I cooked this dish together. She supports my vegan lifestyle and helps with ideas. I can only push my values so far. I’m not going to argue with the one who brought me into this world lol. I wouldn’t win anyway. Cheese it was (on her side) and when I make it again, I will be prepared to sneak in the vegan cheese. Shhh.

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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Spaghetti squash – the encore!

Overwhelmed with social media?– guilty as charged. I almost forget sometimes- did I blog it, instagram it, tweet or Facebook it. I feel I am redundant but let’s be honest- with today’s attention span, most probably don’t remember and the rest probably didn’t even see it. Whatever, I still like to be authentic and not repeat myself. I’m like that DJ who doesn’t want to play the same song twice even though no one cares. Give the people what they want lol. I posted this photo in a couple of media outlets including a vegan group. I had no intention to blog it yet again but since it received so many raves with people asking for recipes.. hey why not?

IMG_2856This was one of my best ever spaghetti squashes. I made it for my Mom who is generally the one cooking for me- even the vegan dishes. This one’s for you Mom!

1 beautiful fall yellow spaghetti squash from the local farm stand! Shout out to upstate NY!
Glass baking dish with an inch or so of water.
I put the spaghetti squash in whole with nothing covering it. The oven was on 350 degrees which is why this one probably took longer than normal. Depending on the temperature, I’d say anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Turn it a few times so both sides cook evenly.

In the meantime, I took it back to a recipe my grampa used to make:

Grampa’s string bean, potato & swiss chard stew.  I did a version similar to this.

I put on a vegan sauce with onions, garlic, olive oil, basil, sea salt, black pepper, hot peppers and crushed tomatoes. I let this cook for a while and then added a huge bunch of farm fresh swiss chard and chick peas. Chick peas have been my go-to lately for vitamins and minerals. This was cooking beautifully as the squash was almost ready.
SpaghettiSquashTacos3_horRESIZED

I pulled the squash out and let it cool for a few minutes and then sliced it in half lengthwise. I love looking at it and watching it turn from this vegetable form into the most amazing and delicious spaghetti – full of flavor on it’s own. I scooped out the seeds gently and then forked away. You got it.. FORK IT! I placed the spaghetti on a plate and then poured my grampa’s recipe right over the top.

Amazing!

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

 

 

 

 

10 vegetable vegan soup

This is the best vegetable soup I have ever made. I quite often wondered if I could replicate that warm fuzzy feeling of chicken soup. That was always my “go to” to feel better if I was sick, hungover or just feeling the blues. Dream come true and surprisingly – without any vegetable stock or bouillon cubes. I haven’t checked in a while but those things are usually loaded with MSG which I would feel right away.  Many people probably think.. oh.. it’s just soup. I quite often wonder however, how these stores make their hot soups for the public. Do they use all wonderful ingredients fresh and healthy or do they just crack open a huge can from a restaurant depot type store and call it their own? Perhaps, even a hybrid of the two.  In most cases, it’s salt city and sure it tastes good but what’s in it? What oils are used? Are there milk products in there? How much salt is tossed in or already loaded? Is everything from a can? Is it GMO?

This time it started with my guilty trip to BagelSmith in Brooklyn. Yes, I confess that I bend to convenience occasionally when I have to get up really early to work.. I get it lol. I still swear that bagels make you fat, amongst a million other junk food quick grabs. Generally, I bring my own food but today, I ordered a pumpernickel scooped out bagel (300 -100 scooped calories) with some tofu scallion spread and yes.. what’s in that too while we are at it? Anyway.. it’s vegan lol.  The point of the story is that they had a huge soup board with a row of regular soups of the day and a row of vegan soups. For this alone, I love this place. Although many shops carry soup right now and it’s freezing out, it’s still difficult to find a good vegan one when you want it. Obviously this catering to the vegans in a busy, quick & convenient 24 hour store made my day. Today it was “10 vegetable soup”.  I grabbed it for lunch and it was delicious. It kinda got me thinking.. I have never heard it called that before.. 10 vegetable soup. On my way home later in the evening, I stopped at the 24 hour vegetable stand by my home and picked up things to make my own full on vegetable soup. Honestly, I was just in the mood to create a feel good soup packed with nutrients and lots of broth.

Basic recipe:
I started with a sauté with oil, the onions and garlic. I usually always use red onions. This is the first time I wondered off in a while. Now I know where the crying comes in. I was actually crying! I never cry with onions. I believe it was a yellow onion although it could have been white. I used a lot more onion than normal in making a vegetable soup. I definitely felt it- both in the air and from the taste. I thought it would be too much but it came out perfect.

I chopped and diced away, adding to the soup as I went. It became a meditative moment. I used water 3/4 of a big soup pot. I actually didn’t have any vegetable stock on hand and was hoping that the flavor would just come anyway. I loved the aroma and feeling of cooking up some early winter soups and staying warm. For the fun of it, I was going to call it my 8 vegetable soup but then I counted and I literally had 10. My 10 vegetable vegan soup.. healing for the mind, body  soul!

Ingredients:
Yellow onion
Red onion
Garlic
Cilantro
Sun dried tomatoes
Carrots
Celery
Mushrooms- baby bellas
Potato- 4 or 5 average size red
Plantain- one green

Triple Bean Spicy Vegan Chili

I knew I could make a fabulous vegan chili – I knew it and I finally did it! I don’t think I can ever order chili out again. Yes.. It’s just that good. I’m beginning to believe that one gets a bit of attitude after strolling along hoping to find vegan choices here and there. It’s almost as if all the retailer has to do is say the word vegan.. and we buy.. just because it’s vegan. Desperate for a hot soup and totally in the mood for chili, I seek and I ask.. finally finding a chili that’s vegetarian and hating to be a pain in the ass to inquire if it’s vegan. So I go for it! What’s the difference right? What could they possibly put in it at this point? Actually, God.. and the prep chef only know. After realizing on a flight to London, that there was milk in certain pop chips – it was all over for me. I despise milk. Lol. Sneaky culprit. Anyway, yes I ordered vegetarian chili in Woodstock the other day. I opened it up before I ran out hoping to grab a quick spoonful on my shopping spree when I realized it was topped with cheese and sour cream. Please could I have your tofu vegetarian chili veganized please pretty please. Why must I beg lol – it is a vegan friendly town! My mistake.. I know.. I should have asked! I left there and went straight to the health food store on a major “nothing stopping me” mission. I came home and made my own vicious triple bean spicy vegan chili far superior in heartiness and flavor than any chili I have ever had.. ever! Now there is no turning back. It destroys other chilis as far back as I can remember – vegan or not. I haven’t written in a while and I’m laughing at my own over confidence at the moment but I’m keeping it real. It’s good!  I’m open though if anyone wants to add to the recipe.

Image

Ingredients:

Onions
Garlic
Celery
Carrots
Ginger– just a little

Tomato sauce can (I used crushed)
Frozen non-GMO corn
Kidney beans large can
Black beans large can
Chick peas can
(Can crazy I know! Not my first choice but I’d rather eat beans from the can than not at all. They are high in nutrients & certainly, fiber. Feel free to soak dry beans overnight, drain and use them.)

Vegan burgers – I crushed them in but you can buy “crumbles” from a health store that carries meat alternative foods.

Cilantro
Basil
Chili powder
Jalapeño 

I know I have to be more exact with my measurements – sorry, I’m being a bit Italian at the moment.
Begin with a big soup pot, olive oil and a saute of the onions & garlic – always! Next I add the tomato sauce with about another 3/4 of that can in water. Use your judgement as you add the vegetables and beans. If you need to add water, do so and let it cook a little longer. Then came the beans and vegetable burgers. Next I added the other vegetables and then.. spice city! I may have even added hot sauce – I’m addicted! I let it cook for an hour or so.

Kelp Noodles

I have come a long way in my acceptance and transition back to the world of pasta… well, at least to the word “noodle” itself. Self acclaimed pasta-holic that I am, I have mentioned and confessed my addiction many times along this vegan blog journey. I feared the word pasta or noodle even up to my very recent zucchini noodle blog. To recap quickly, the recipe called for both zucchini and kelp noodles, but I didn’t care what the non-vegetable noodle was made of- from soy to mung bean to even kelp- I wasn’t falling for it. As I researched a bit, I found no nutritional or emotional damage would be made from the kelp noodles. I admitted that I would give them a try and today is the day!

Kelp noodles are made from water, kelp and sodium alginate. Kelp is classified as a brown sea vegetable like some of the other algae or seaweeds. Kelp noodles have many properties which may make a nice addition to anyone’s diet especially those interested in weight loss or raw foods:

  • No fat or cholesterol
  • Very low in calories; about 15 calories per portion size and 45 calories total in the entire bag
  • Gluten-free for those with sensitivities
  • (No protein and very little fiber) – please keep in mind that suggested fiber intakes for women range between 25-35 grams daily and 35-45 grams daily for men.
  • Powerhouse source of the mineral Iodine. Iodine is necessary for proper thyroid function and metabolism. Too much Iodine is equally problematic. (see quote below)
  • Kelp satisfies 15% of the RDA for calcium and 4% for iron. If you eat the whole bag like I did, that’s almost 50% of the calcium levels needed in one meal.
  • Rich in the mineral vanadium, which works with enzymes to produce a highly antioxidant defense for the body
  • Contains lignans which act as phytoestrogens and antioxidants
  • Contains sulfated polysaccharides called fucoidans which are known to reduce inflammation and pain. (see quote below)
  • Good source of vitamin K and folate
  • “Kelp works as a blood purifier, relieves arthritis stiffness, and promotes adrenal, pituitary and thyroid health.”  Retrieved from Safety of Herbal Supplements & Health Articles/ What Are Sea Vegetables? http://www.healthyhealing.com/herbs-articles-safety/bid/175220/What-Are-Sea-Vegetables
  • Kelp and sea vegetables in general also have many other minerals, trace elements and enzymes which function together for optimum health

I prepared these noodles today from a pasta perspective, however, I am excited to try them in raw dishes. On my to-do list now that I am a fan of these kelp noodles are:

  • A raw noodle dish with sesame oil, shoyu and brown rice vinegar- perhaps even spicy.
  • Miso soup with tofu, mushrooms and kelp noodles
  • A combination of these noodles with spiraled zucchini noodles prepared Italian style
  • Pad Thai– I’m so excited! I have been thinking about this old favorite of mine for years!
  • Coconut flavored noodles (raw) with slivered coconut meat from fresh young Thai coconuts
  • Salad sensations– I want to create a whole new array of salads with these noodles throw in.

This is purely an example of “Reinventing Indulgence”. The sky is the limit with these noodles and even if someone indulges, it won’t be too horrific like a major pasta binge which may call for an intervention. (Thinking of my own personal experiences here).

REMEMBER:
Rinse these noodles well and then let them soak in warm water to soften them up a bit if that is the texture you are looking for. They can also be marinaded for those who want to prepare a raw experience. If you are cooking them, they will automatically soften up.

First I steamed some asparagus that I had on hand.  You can choose any vegetable and switch it up. Next, and separately, I was in the mood for a spicy and flavorful sauté so I started with coconut oil and jalapeños – fresh! I added some cut garden tomatoes and then the kelp noodles. I added the steamed asparagus to the kelp noodles, stirred, served and indulged!

Iodine information
“Sea vegetables may be a unique food source not only of the mineral iodine, but also of the mineral vanadium. As part of their natural defense mechanisms, sea vegetables contain a variety of enzymes called haloperoxidases. These enzymes all require vanadium in order to function. Although this mineral is not as well known as some of the other mineral nutrients, it appears to play a multi-faceted role in regulation of carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar. While research in this area is still in the preliminary stage and remains mixed in terms of results, vanadium may help to increase our body’s sensitivity to insulin by inhibiting a group of enzymes called protein tyrosine phosphatases. It may also help us decrease our body’s production of glucose and help us increase our body’s ability to store starch in the form of glycogen.”  Retrieved from the World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=135

Sulfated polysaccharides called fucodans
“Sea vegetables also contain a unique group of polysaccharides called fucoidans. These fucoidans have a characteristic branching pattern with sulfur containing molecules. They are being widely studied for their ability to reduce inflammation within the body. These sulfated fucoidans have been shown to reduce pain, fight viruses and prevent atherosclerosis.”  Retrieved from Natural News: http://www.naturalnews.com/034055_sea_vegetables_kelp.html

Learn more:
http://www.naturalnews.com/025816_kelp_food_health.html

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.

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!

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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!

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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/

Meatless Meatloaf

Why do I call it a meatless meatloaf? Why not just a veggie loaf, mushroom loaf or quinoa loaf?
I think for two reasons really. One, I am challenged by and have seen many recreations of staple foods from when I was a kid. I can certainly throw down many vegan chicken and vegan Italian recipes! But meatloaf- it was intertwined with my growing up in such a way that it brings back memories that seem to only be delivered from none other then my Mom. Meatloaf is not that common of a food that you will see in the tiny vegan sections of a health food store nor on many vegan restaurant menus. When I saw it on a raw vegan menu in NYC, I went wild and ordered it. It was a nut loaf – love the name, and feel like one sometimes! The only difference here was that it wasn’t warm. To recreate the feeling, this loaf had to be warm. Instead of heating up nuts, which I simply cannot do as I would be destroying the nutritional value, enzymes and fat; instead I just stayed in search of a vegan meatless meatloaf. The universe finally delivered. Well, specifically, my friend Pam (thanks Pam) sent me this recipe from The Gluten Free Goddess (WebMD recipe from Foodily.com).

IMG_7865

I couldn’t wait to try this recipe and when I finally did, it exceeded all of my expectations, dreams and desires for meatloaf. The other reason, I use “meatless” meatloaf is that I am grounded right now in the fact that I live in a non-vegan world. Some days I have different perspectives on it. In order to do the recreation, walk the walk and talk the talk- I choose to keep it “meatless” meatloaf- hopefully, someone can relate!

Next topic is ketchup! It’s interesting to me how I can give up so many foods and vices and then watch, with experimentation just how quickly these indulgences can return. Hence, my motto… Reinventing Indulgence.. is endless. I am a food addict, in case I haven’t come right out and mentioned that before. I can sometimes see these vices creep back in. It happened with hot sauce and now it’s happening with ketchup. After a few assaults, I was forced to throw it out! Ketchup was caught red handed! Get lost!

I want to say that the meatless meatloaf (ok now we can switch to veggie loaf) was flawless because honestly it was! It didnt need ketchup but you know… as a kid.. one has to have their ketchup. I never realized that this was even a trigger food for me as say..  gummy bears, pasta or the triangle cheese in the supermarket. But it so is! I remember now as I used to order french fries, then put the ketchup on the side- add salt and pepper to the ketchup and dip the fries in swirling around 10x the portion size on the label. Have you ever had just one tablespoon of ketchup? Ever?

IMG_7850

Anyway, I made the veggie loaf, and squirted the ketchup in a small amount, maybe 2 tablespoons on the side. Later, I found that I needed another 4 tablespoons for a total of 6 at least! The veggie loaf was delcious without the ketchup, it was only after I tried it that I wanted more and more- hello HFCS!!! Let’s look at those numbers for fun:

6 tablespoons of ketchup is about 90-120 calories- ok I can handle that! It’s about 960 to 1140 mg of sodium and about 24 grams of sugar- well if it’s derived from HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) then we have to understand that this is metabolized in the body differently than regular sugar. The point is– that’s a lot of unnecessary addictive food.. well condiments. I am going back to my regular non addicting condiments. I don’t need ketchup in my life anymore really!

IMG_7856

It’s like quitting smoking – It’s about the associations too! The veggie loaf was fine as it was -no ketchup was needed. They don’t have to go hand in hand! Also, the best way to know if a “meatloaf” is good is if it still tastes good cold- like yummy leftovers! This veggie loaf was incredible cold! The true taste test was complete.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Mushrooms 2 cups- portabella
Quinoa 1 cup cooked
Sweet potato – I used 1 1/2 cooked
Spinach 5 cups
Onion 1 cup
Garlic 2 cloves
Breadcrumbs 1 cup whole wheat or organic (or both)
Balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoonMolasses 2 tablespoons
Ketchup 2 tablespoons (this is what started the whole ketchup thing as I didn’t have any and had to go buy some for the blog)
Olive oil 1 tablespoon
Dried herbs 1 tablespoon
Scallions 4

IMG_7853

I had to pre-make the quinoa and sweet potato! Then the rest was easy! I sautéd the olive oil, garlic, onion,scallions, vinegar- and then the mushrooms. When this was almost done- about 10 minutes or so, then I added the spinach until it was soft and blended. I turned this mixture off and then added it to my vitamix. I pulsed it a few times and added to a large mixing bowl. From there, I mixed together the warm mix, the quinoa, sweet potato, herbs, molasses and the ketchup.

I added this mix to a lightly oiled baking dish. The recipe suggests using parchment paper but I didn’t have any. The oven should be pre-heated to 350- cook for about 25-30 minutes. Before it goes in the oven, add the topping too: a glaze of balsamic vinegar (1 tbs), maple syrup (1 tbs), cinnamon and an apricot spread. I used dried apricots and cut them up fine!

IMG_7858

Zucchini Noodles With Tahini Sauce

How could something that looks like a plastic toy that I had as a kid to shape clay aka Play-Doh — make me so happy?  More importantly, why have  I never experienced this before.  This is why when I go out for dinners to friends or restaurants, that everything seems to look so fancy. It’s like I missed the spiralizer boat — but I want to get on! It’s so simple. I had actually been wanting one for some time. I guess it was just the procrastination in me. I finally did get one.. for Christmas and now it’s three months later and my first time using it. Wow! I’m stunned at how behind I am sometimes and how the simplest things can make me so happy.  If you have ever read any of my early blogs or pasta rants, then you know that I am a big pasta-holic. The fact that I can make spaghetti from a zucchini and not wheat.. or clay for that matter.. is so much fun for me. I made three different twirling shapes and had a blast just like when I was a little girl. This recipe I made wasn’t even a debut with my real Italian homemade sauce! Just wait!

IMG_7638 This is a raw recipe. It’s actually titled KELP NOODLES with Tahini Sauce from Carol Alt’s book: Easy Sexy Raw.I’m so afraid of the word noodle that I steered away from KELP noodles. That’s a bit much. I don’t need to fear those noodles – they are made from kelp seaweed and they are RAW! I’m so silly sometimes! I felt safe with zucchini in that moment so I made the recipe from there. I forget sometimes that when something is raw, it really doesn’t take that long to be ready. It’s just “prep and eat.”  I made the zucchini first.  I washed  them and put them on the spiralizer. Next came the tahini sauce. Technically you should use raw tahini to make this a completely raw meal. I still have yet to make tahini from scratch- but I will. It’s basically a paste made from sesame seeds.

This meal here is a combination of only a few ingredients.

Zucchini Noodles With Tahini Sauce

  • Zucchini – Use whatever size you want; I used 4 small ones and it was good for about 4 small servings.
  • Kale – Again, use the amount you would like; I used one big bunch.
  • Raw sesame tahini 3/4 cup
  • Shoyu (fermented soy sauce) 1/4 cup
  • Lemon juice 1/4 cup fresh
  • Apple Cider Vinegar 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic 1 clove chopped finely
  • Nutritional yeast 1/4 cup
  • Ground turmeric 1 teaspoon
  • Scallions 4 to 5 chopped small
  • Cilantro one handful chopped finely
  • Mint leaves optional
  • Seat salt 1/4 teaspoon

Cut the kale from the stem and chop into bite size pieces. Spiralize the zucchini into spaghetti! Mix the tahini and other ingredients in a bowl. Toss the

IMG_7642chopped kale and zucchini into the bowl and mix well. Now it’s ready to serve! Don’t be afraid of KELP NOODLES like me.  They are low in calories, fat free, sugar free, gluten free and have many minerals that are beneficial for you- vitamins too! This is a delicious and basically raw meal. It’s highly recommended by many in nutrition to aim for 60% of your food intake- RAW! Try it and see how you feel.

Here are a few links about Kelp Noodles and their bene
fits—
What is a spiralizer—

Vegetable SOUP TONIC

Vegetable Soup Tonic

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe

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

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

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

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

Vegan lasagna

I love making lasagna and have mastered it quite often and in all different ways- regular meat lasagna (yes before I went vegan), vegetarian lasagna, vegan lasagna, pasta-less lasagna and even raw lasagna! So I decided to have a mini vegan get together and I do not know what happened! I guess I got confused with all my lasagnas. I must have had my meat/ whole wheat lasagna hat on when I made my vegan pasta-less lasagna. Hence I cooked it too high and too long. I guess at this point you could call it lasagna soup. It was delicious none-the-less but not of too much substance nor of health for that matter. 

So- I did what any determined blogger would do. I made it again and invited more people over. This time.. lol.. I wore my pasta-less/ vegetable lasagna hat.. and didn’t cook it long enough. It was like reverse fear! Oh my God! Take me out of the world of pasta for three years and look what happens! This was easily rectified though. I cooked it longer and there is goes.. a beautiful (vegan) whole wheat vegetable lasagna with daiya cheese (vegan) and all! I of course, made a pasta-less vegan one on the side for me which finally came out good! The key was– longer times with the whole wheat pasta and shorter times for just vegetables. Also zucchini and squash create possibly too much liquid unless you cook them slightly before hand. When using other vegetables like eggplant or sweet potato – be sure to cut them thinly. Spinach and mushrooms also work great. 

First things first- you have to make a slamming sauce. This I have mastered from my Grama for sure.. and then my Mom and believe it or not.. my brother too is a great cook! I have ventured away from the meat infused recipes so it’s all about the olive oil, garlic, onions, spices, tomato sauces and letting it cook for a while!

Next up is the pasta cooking. I know they make those ones that just bake in- but where do I find them in whole wheat? Since I do not know, I went ahead with boiling the whole wheat lasagna noodles. While that was cooking, I sliced my vegetables thin. The first time I used eggplant, zucchini and squash- the second: eggplant, spinach and sweet potato. I have a mandolin but I don’t like using it as I almost lost skin a few times. I admit- I must learn how to slice thiner! 

Where can you buy daiya cheese and vegan ricotta? Well, daiya is becoming more popular every day – it may even be in your local supermarket. I used the shredded mozzarella version. Vegan ricotta– lol- I wasn’t even sure it existed but it did! I found this at Whole Foods. I will admit though that it almost tasted like a vegan ice cream of some sort. In any case, melted daiya is heavenly and can carry the whole lasagna!

Layering is always fun. Just dive in with the pasta, the vegetables, the sauce and the vegan cheeses! Have fun and watch the lasagna for timing. It should obviously be not too soupy and not too tough!


The final lasagna picture is up top. This one here is the pasta-less vegetable one that could have been layered a little better but was still remarkably delicious!

Enjoy! For the record, here is the raw lasagna recipe from an earlier blog.

Vegan day 331: Sweet sensational vegetables

Cravings… are they real or are they memorex?
For me I want to say that they are both! Honestly though, the only physical thing my body may ask me for IS FOOD in general.. as in hunger pain. It doesn’t specify that the hunger is a sugar hunger. There are two different things here.. a hunger pain and a sugar craving for example. A hunger pain doesn’t really say I must have a warm raspberry-lemon vegan cookie from LifeThyme Natural Market on 6th Avenue and I must have it NOW. Well, it does end up saying that lol– but IT’S MY MIND SPEAKING… not my physical body. What happens next is mind over matter. Once the mind takes control with perhaps imagery.. memorex.. it’s a done deal. Now I really HAVE TO HAVE IT and it’s no joke and there is nothing stopping me. If you try to stop an addict.. you better be dressed in armor because we WILL hurt you!

Can cravings be controlled or subsided? Perhaps not in the moment.. but most definitely ahead of time and/ or over a period of time. I still get my cravings but they have improved substantially from eating a nutritionally balanced diet with proper eating habits and daily physical exercise. When cravings appear within a balanced diet it may generally mean that some nutrient could be lacking either in consumption or absorption- or that something is missing on the wheel of life. Health is really about a well-balanced life. 


Giving in to the craving is like a game of TRICK OR TREAT. Will this sweet for example, satisfy my urge or make me want more? For me, it’s actually like playing with fire. One cookie here and there quickly becomes I NEED two cookies everyday. Then the addiction becomes real.. when a craving becomes an addiction you have to stop it like any other addiction- cold turkey! If you can learn the tricks of the game though, by all means proceed with caution. One thing I have yet to put the big NO on is desserts in general. I don’t eat too much candy anymore simply because much of it is not vegan. It’s when the vegans start making all the sweets VEGAN that I get in trouble. Vegan peanut butter cups.. vegan smores made with vegan chocolate, vegan marshmallows..  vegan cheesecake and so on. 

Tell me yours and I will tell you mine! Anything you have on tricking the craving, I will take. Eating half of something and savoring every single bite works on my dark chocolate but not on the cookies. I need more tricks up my sleeve and I have one today. I am surprised to say, that it worked!

SWEET SENSATIONAL VEGETABLES
I learned this from Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I am currently enrolled in a Certified Health Coach program. They speak about sweet vegetables as a way to curb sweet cravings. I made this my mission. I wanted to see if eating sweet vegetables together as a meal would be fulfilling to the extent that it would subside any desire for sugary sweets afterwards. They say that “sweet vegetables soothe the internal organs of the body and energize the mind and because many of these vegetables are root vegetables, they are energetically grounding.”

Try it for yourself! 
I used yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips and turnips. They also suggest corn, beets, winter squashes and rutabagas. Cut these vegetables into bite size pieces. Place them into a cooking pot with the heavier more dense vegetables on the bottom. Fill the pot with just enough water to cover them and cook until they are the desired consistency. I made a nice plate with these vegetables and added spices, shoyu and some vegan parmesan. First of all, it tasted delicious but second and most important, I wasn’t hungry for quite some time after that. That’s a miracle in and off itself! 

If you are like me, you might be asking about the boiling method. I’m sure somewhere in this blog I have written that it’s better to steam and bake vegetables rather than boil. I still feel this way, hence the guilt. So I couldn’t just let the remaining cooking water go. They suggest using it to make a sauce or just drinking it straight up! I used the cooking water and the leftover vegetables to make a wonderful sweet vegetable soup with quinoa. It was a win-win all around!

Reference
Rosenthal, Joshua. 2012. Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Module 4. New York: NY 

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.
[Monday, November 26th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 325: Sweet Potato-Pear baked with Pecans and Raisins

SWEET POTATO-PEAR TZIMMES 
WITH PECANS AND RAISINS

This dish was such a hit with my family and friends that I promise right now- I WILL MAKE IT AGAIN for the holiday staff party lol.

Simply amazing.. 
Another recipe from VEGANOMICON by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero


Ingredients
Yams or sweet potatoes – 2 or 3 large yams or more if using sweet potatoes
I happen to use yams for this recipe. I believe sweet potatoes will be even sweeter if you like that. 
Pears – I used 2-3 per tray that I made
Vegetable oil – I used 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil (olive oil is great too)
Mirin –  2 tablespoons. If you haven’t heard of this… it’s time to go buy some!
Pure and organic maple syrup 1-2 tablespoons
Cinnamon 
Pecans 3/4 cup
Raisins 3/4 cup golden

I may have altered this recipe slightly due to my impatience to read all the way through. I cut the yams/ sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes. I cut the pear into similar shaped pieces. Tossed everything into a party size baking tray. I poured the oil, mirin, maple syrup and cinnamon right on top. I didn’t really mix anything as I knew it would all melt around. I baked this for 30 minutes at 350. Then I mixed it gently to move the juice or sauce around. I added the pecans and raisins and baked another 30 minutes. 

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.

[Tuesday, November 20th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 323: Raw Creamy Broccoli Soup

I have to remember that when time is of the essence, raw can really be convenient

Of course at times, you may have to soak, sprout and dehydrate in advance, but when you incorporate this healthy way of eating into your life it becomes a welcomed practice. 

I soaked my cashews for two hours. Then when I was ready to eat, I put all the ingredients into my blender and ran it. It was so quick even I thought it was too good to be true. The soup had a beautifully smooth broccoli flavor and was quite delicious. 


I try not to have multiple portions but couldn’t help myself. The soup in the white square dish above is for presentation. I generally eat with the small sized ones to the right. Physical portion control can help train the mind and stomach to avoid overeating. Years ago, I would eat a much unhealthier soup in a much bigger bowl.. have seconds.. and then fall asleep lol. I’m changing.. it’s a process and a fun one at that!

Recipe from EASY SEXY RAW
by Carol Alt

Ingredients
1 cup broccoli
2 cups water
1/2 cup raw cashews soaked and drained
1 avocado
2 garlic cloves (I would use less next time)
2 tablespoons of EVOO
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon agave (I am a maple syrup fan)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste
1/4 cup of mint leaves

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 18th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 309: Homemade Hummus

HUMMUS has been on my to-do list for far too long! Finally, I made it – the short cut way using a can of chick peas. I also enjoy soaking chick peas and sprouting them which could be used as a raw vegan hummus. 

Recipe
Chick peas- 1 can
Tahini- 2 tablespoons
Lemon- 5 tablespoons
Garlic- 1 1/2
Salt- 1 teaspoons
Olive Oil- 2 tablespoons

I never knew this was so easy!
In a food processor, mix all ingredients and blend well. I made the first batch as is and for the second I added in chili 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.

[Sunday, November 4th 2012 blog]

Vegan day 308: Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa-stuffed Acorn Squash
Sometimes meals just piece themselves together. I made a wonderful quinoa stew yesterday and then today I sit here wondering what to do with the last few squashes I have on the table. My acorn squash turned out amazing the last time I made it. 

I have to admit that social media does influence me- I saw an amazing picture on Instagram last week of stuffed squash. I thought it would be really amazing so I took the opportunity today to make it. 

Quinoa stew blog
Acorn squash blog

I simply made the acorn squash as outlined above and then stuffed it with the quinoa and re-baked it!


This is a great addition to any holiday or family style meal.




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, November 3rd 2012 blog]