Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hale to Kale!

The perfect storm:  Vegans, like pregnant women, often get strange cravings.  At least strange to "normal" folks.  Yesterday I woke up craving kale.  Kale, kale, kale.  And when I walked into my local organic/health food market, there by the front door awaiting me was............drum roll............bundles of leafy green, perfect kale. 

Of course, now what to do with it??  I was too lazy to make kale chips.  Inspired by the cooler temperature in the SE, I put together the following No Name Kale Recipe.

Into a skillet (you can start with a soup kettle, but I preferred to start with the skillet and then pour my ingredients into the kettle once sauteed):

I began with a TSBP of olive oil,
one diced Valdalia onion
about 1 1/2 cups match stick carrots
one clove mashed and chopped clove of garlic

and then I sauteed them until soft

I next added 3 diced, unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes and about 1/2 cup of water to keep things from sticking and to help steam the potatoes

about now my skillet was getting full, so into the soup kettle went my mixture.

Now I added:

the bundle of kale, which I previously washed and tore into smaller pieces removing the stems,
and because I had left over in the fridge, I added torn romaine and boston lettuces.

and more water to aid in steaming.

Lastly,
I added: two cans of white beans, (probably any kind of beans you have in your pantry will work just fine) rinsed and drained,
and
red pepper flakes
and
some cayenne to taste
and
some Himalayan sea salt to taste
and the coup de grace:
a decent amount of sun dried tomatoes and the herbed oil in which they were stored --yum -- this added the kicker.

All in all, it was a hearty stew, with a taste of the veggies, some heat and some herbal teasing.  A keeper in my humble opinion.  Kale, kale, the gangs all here -- well, if I had enough left over to invite them, they would be here!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vegan?? Oh Dear, But Where Do You Get Your Protein.

What vegan hasn't heard this shocked, but oh so concerned, question from our friends and family?  As if we are going to waste away, looking like an outcast from a vampire movie, or the latest Hollywood anorexic.

Ahh, the protein myth.  Isn't it funny how Americans (mostly) are so hung up on protein.  And often, those same well-intentioned folks are waddling on their walkers to the buffet line at All You Can Eat restaurants in search of more "protein" -- with plates piling over with what some of us would call pure garbage.

So what is the skinny on protein?  I know, on this blog, I am probably signing to the proverbial choir....but just in case one protein seeking carnivore is reading, then my time will be worthwhile -- or....if you pass this on to your animal eating friends.

Any vegan/vegetarian book on the shelves today addresses this carnivorian myth, but I dug back in my library for an "old friend" from 1971.  How many of you remember the ground breaking book (literally and figuratively): Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe.

In responding to the myth that meant contains more protein than any other food, she wrote: 

Containing 20 to 25 percent protein by weight, meat ranks about in the middle of the protein quantity scale along with some nuts, cheese, beans and fish.

And whether meat is the only way to get enough protein (especially at those All You Can eat hog troughs, oops sorry)

Americans often eat 50 to 100 percent more protein than their bodies can use.  thus, most Americans could completely eliminate meat, fish, and poultry from their diets and still get the recommended daily allowance of protein from all the other protein rich foods in the typical American diet.  

Why should we care?
I am pretty much a "live and let live" kind of person -- but the crux of this debate is the "live" part.   Those folks who subscribe to this protein myth are those folks who do not understand their dietary needs and do not understand, or care about, how to maintain their health.

And why should we care about that?
Because we are paying for their misunderstanding by the high cost of medical insurance and health related costs passed on to those who care about our own health.  It is a personal responsibility issue.  Maybe we cannot change the bulk of the All You Can Eat folks -- but by living our example of good health, maybe we can make changes in how others choose to live.  Maybe children can be educated to eat healthy - to understand nutrition, to take personal responsibility for their health.  Wouldn't it make for a healthier planet?

It's a good thing I am generally a nice and easy going person because at the hospital where I work, I often walk up to my co-workers when they are eating their dinner (can you imagine eating your dinner in a trauma/er unit with body sounds and fluids all around....but nevertheless...) I ask them, "So, what animal had to die to feed you tonight?"    (or if I am more frisky:  what animal had to die to feed your fat ass?)  Most just reply:  Are you waving the green bean again?  To which I reply:  You Bet!!

If it has a face, don't eat it.  Easy. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kosher, vegan and yummy BLT!

A Day in the Life - Day Three -- Craving and Eating a BLT

Now what is a kosher, vegan rabbi doing eating a BLT? and loving it!

Before I plan each meal, I try to get in touch with what my body would enjoy eating - something earthy, crunchy, salty or sweet.  This morning, as I left for my Restorative Yoga Class at Living Room Yoga (thanks for a deliciously restorative class, Sally!) I knew my pantry was dwindling and I knew my body was craving a BLT.

After class, I stopped at a delightful Italian gourmet market on 22nd Avenue in St. Pete called Mazzaro's -- it is a destination shopping point -- a little trip to Italy.  I gave myself a treat to meander around, looking and touching and enjoying the variety of culinary taste treats.  I even found one of my favorite wines that is difficult to find at most local shops, Ferrari Carano Chardonnay.  It is about $20 a bottle which is out of my regular price range, but whenever I see it, I treat myself.  I also picked up some vine ripened tomatoes and fresh romaine lettuce for my BLT.

"Hey! Wait a doggone minute!" you might be saying, "how can you drink wine on a diet!!"

To which I reply -- a) it is vegan, and b) it is not a diet, but a lifestyle and treats and indulgences in moderation are mandatory -- a life without treats and indulgences is a life not worth living.  And, c) I am planning for my treat tonight by just having a hearty salad with all of my usual veggies, and black bean salsa, and no potato or cookie.  I did pack a bag of 10 rosemary and sea salt potato chips for my 9 p.m. crunch attack.  And when I come home after midnight - I will sit and savor one glass of my Ferrari Carano Chardonnay before I go sit in meditation.

Above is a photo of my BLT -- I used an Ezekiel sprouted wrap, and instead of mayo which is not vegan, I used avocado slices, and then romaine lettuce, sliced vine ripened tomato, cilantro and Himalayan sea salt.  Then I added the coup de grace -- my homemade bacon strips made from beans -- check out an earlier blog as to how to make them.  I froze the strips and heat them whenever I am in the mood for bacon.  Bacon was one of my main food groups before I gave up food that came from animals (If it has a face, don't eat it.)  And as someone who loved bacon -- this sandwich was awesome and hit the proverbial spot.

Off to my last evening shift of drama and trauma -- listening and praying - being present and comforting -- (There is an advertisement for, of all things, Napa Auto parts, that has a line I like:  It is who I am, it is what I do.)  Today you may want to think about what defines who you are and what you do.  This then, defines how you nurture and support that part of your self, or your whole self to enable you to do and be this.   

Blessings for a healthy and happy day - shalom - namaste - peace and balance.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I am touting sprouting!

A Day in the Life - Day Two -- Let's Talk About Sprouts

It could get boring blogging my food intake each day -- even to me who gets to enjoy it, so I want to talk about aspects of my diet that you may wish to explore for yours.

And today -- let's talk about sprouts.

These are my new favorites because of their health benefits and their ease of growing.  I have a little sprout garden in my studio and I have made several different batches of great sprouts.  I enjoyed the sprouted peas the best.  The photo above is "plain jane" alfalfa sprouts out in the sun to green up today.

Bet you didn't know that sprouts are full of vitamins, minerals and complete proteins.  I love that they are alkaline since my focus is on increasing and maintaining a healthy alkalinity in my body. 

In the pH Miracle, Robert Young writes:  Sprouts and soaked nuts and seeds are alkalizing, life-generating, revitalizing, high energy foods.  They are high in electrical energy and predigested complete proteins, chelated minerals, nucleic acids, vitamins, RNA, DNA, and vitamin B12.  Their plant phytochemicals are activated, their starches broken down into easily assimilated vegetable sugars, their proteins predigested into easily assimilated free amino acids, and their fats broken down into soluble fatty acids.  And their nutrient content skyrockets" Biotin content increases by 50 percent at sprouting, vitamin B5 by 200 percent, B6 by 500 percent, folic acid by 600 percent, and riboflavin (B2) by 1300 percent.


And yet, they look so scrawny and weak.  I try to put these little powerhouse sprouts in as many recipes as I can, and why not?  And the "snack sprouts" that I currently buy at Publix (but could make if I ever thought to do so) add an nice crunch because the seed/bean is still crunchy. 

Go on, be brave -- eat a sprout and see if you can develop a craving (okay, that is a strong word... we need a word between craving and mere tolerance!) for sprouts.

Today's menu:
Work up in time to have (but not savor) my cup of dark roast coffee and dash off to Bethany's class at Living Room Yoga - Ahhh/Ommm.

Then I met a friend for lunch at Harvey's on 4th -- a sports bar sort of spot with "great hamburgers" -- what is a vegan to do.  Fortunately, most restaurants have their menus online, so last night, in preparation of this meeting, I checked the menu and discovered that they had a Florida Sunlight (or something like this) sandwich on whole wheat bread with romaine, avocado, tomato, Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing - and it could be grilled (with butter).   It gave me something to work with.  I ordered the sandwich and asked them to hold the Swiss and thousand island and not grill it.  It was a perfectly tasteful sandwich.

The side was a cold rice salad -- I will try to  make it myself -- yummmmy!  It was yellow rice, black beans, a little onion and tomato with a tiny vinegar hint.  Very good.  Next time, I might just make this my meal.

Dinner: Back to the Yukon Gold potatoes.  And yes Mark -- I do cook them first (forgot to mention that in the first blog post).  Tonight I am using two small potatoes cut up, one avocado diced, salsa, crunch chips and maybe some carrot match sticks.  I find I need something to crunch on about 9 p.m., so i am bringing a container of shredded cabbage with a few sun-dried tomatoes (oil packed) and salted with Himalayan sea salt, and the last of my healthy cookies.    I bet there is cookie baking in my future!

May your day be filled with wonder and delight.  May your food be healthy and bring you joy.  May you find balance and harmony in your world.  Shalom, Salaam, Shanti, Namaste, Peace -- and cool beans!


 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The JandiWrap. Details in blog post below.

Grilled tofu

A Day in the Life - Day One

A beautiful Tuesday in St. Pete, Florida - saw the sun rising over the bay when I was up too early to walk the dogs.  Chihuahuas must have very small bladders since I just had her out at 1 a.m.  Oh well -- it is a beautiful day to be up and alive and feeling vibrant.

I do start each day with a rich, dark roast cup of coffee.
"Wait," you might be shouting, "I thought to gave up coffee!!"  To which I will calmly reply:  "I did."  And then I couldn't remember exactly why I gave it entirely up, so here is an area of compromise:  one cup a day, period.

Some of the reasons for limiting my intake of caffeine are:

a.  to allow my body to flow naturally into sleep and awake cycles, allowing for a more peaceful sleep and a more active day.  And this limitation has indeed done that.

b.  and to work on keeping a high alkaline level which helps immunity and decreases cancer habitats.  With this goal, even decaf coffee is out since it is acidic, so when I want a coffee like drink, I choose Teeccino which is a robust herbal mixture that has the viscosity of coffee, the sense of "ahh...my friend" that coffee brings to me, and is probably even good for me.

For "breakfast" - I am trying to acquire a taste for what health nuts (ooops, advocates) call "The Green Drink," which is a mixture of many grasses - again, supposed to boost one's immune system and is full of antioxidants.  There are many powder mixes to choose from -- all tasting like juiced lawn mowings, but I am making progress with teaching myself to love this drink.  I no longer have to hold my nose when I jug it.  In fact, I can drink it like a normal person, no longer grimacing, and with each swallow, tell myself how good this mixture is for my body, actually almost believing it at this point.  It is not for the faint of heart or stomach.

I delighted in a great yoga class this morning at Living Room Yoga, taught by Sally -- it was restorative and after the drama and trauma at the hospital last night, and getting up earlier than I would have chosen, it was just what I needed to connect Mind, Body and Spirit.


The Lunch and Dinner Combo Trick:

I always feel so clever when I do the lunch and dinner combo trick, but then for ions, folks have gone out for lunch, had extra and asked for a "to go" box for dinner, so this is not a unique or earth shattering discovery.


Upon returning home from yoga, after greeting my beloveds, two legged and four, I went to the refrigerator and took out all the packages of veggies from my last week's shopping:

the chopped or sliced cabbage, carrots, broccoli slaw, sprouts, lettuce, etc.  For ease, when I can find the veggies already sliced, diced, or shredded, I buy it that way, but in the "ideal world" - getting them whole and doing it oneself may earn one Nature Goddess points, or a sliced finger.

I set up an Ezekiel sprouted grain wrap on a plate in front of me, and right next to it, I set out my large plastic "take to work" bowl.  Onto or into each I add:

1 tbsp of red pepper hummus
1/2 sliced avocado
sprouts and snack sprouts
shredded cabbage
baby romaine lettuce leaves
carrot and broccoli slaw

and over each, I used some great chipolte salsa as a dressing.  Snap the lid on the plastic container and 1/2 my dinner is made; roll up the tortilla and sit to enjoy lunch -- these are called JandiWraps (photo above) in  honor of my dear friend, Jan Small who generously gave of her time to teach me the art of making them after scaring me away from my carnivorous ways by gifting me the book Skinny Bitch.

I still needed to supplement my supper -- the potato/avocado dish last night was scrumptious -- a keeper!  Today I decided to slice some tofu and bread it with Panko Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs and heat it with a spray of olive oil in a cast iron skillet.  I used a spatula to squish the squares flat as they cooked.  Since it was a "to go" dish, I "plated" it on a sheet of aluminum foil upon which I laid some basil leaves, then the tofu, and topped it with some sun-dried tomatoes and herbs (that I made in my dehydrator this weekend -- ever so Martha Stewart! yuck) (yuck to me imitating M.S., NOT to the tomatoes which were yummy).  Photo above.

I think I will toss in another of the "good for you cookies" described below. And that, my friends, should be the vegan food supply for the day.

And remember, water, water, water.

Whatever you eat -- eat it mindfully, grateful that we have food to nourish us.  May you be blessed with good food and a healthy, balanced body.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Day in the Life

Believe it or not, some folks still ask, "what in the world do you eat?"
And as I haul my large lunch box into work, and get questioning looks due to its size, I just say, "I'm a vegan, I eat a lot."

But alas, after losing 60 pounds, I am stuck -- dancing around this new weight with very little forward progress and wanting to lose 30 more pounds.

Soooo, I decided to blog A Day in the Life....of a vegan, for these reasons - for those few who are curious, and for me - to keep me honest.  I will blog the good, the bad, and the ugly.

If you do not wish to receive these posts - email me and I will delete your address, or if you sometimes want to receive them - then just delete them when you are too busy to read it.  Sound like a plan?

Also -- feel free to comment to give me your ideas: either sharing your goals and food choices, recipes, etc, or calling me on mine.  Deal?

My basic plan begins with a vegan diet -- no animal products or by products - if it has a face, it is safe.

To this, my goal is to  avoid as much processed food, sugar, oil and acidity as possible, knowing that I am truly NOT perfect and sometimes allowances have to be made to these goals -- but I do not make allowances to "if it has a face, don't eat it."

With my pinball brain, I honestly didn't get this idea until I was packing my supper to take to my shift at the hospital -- so this does not count as Day One.  


Here is what I packed for supper tonight:

1.  In one mid-size plastic container I tossed in:

Some romaine leaves,
Shredded white cabbage
a little broccoli slaw and carrot match sticks
1/2 a peeled and sliced cucumber
1/2 avocado
a large pinch of sprouts
a handful of grape tomatoes
And I dressed it with some Raspberry/Lemon Balsamic vinegar -- about a tbsp since I don't want too much acidity.


Surprisingly, lemons are not acidic (for a pH diet) when we eat them, and the juice of one lemon would have made a good dressing for this salad, but I was too lazy to deal with my seedy bunch of lemons today.

2.  In a somewhat smaller container:

I diced a Yukon Gold unskinned (my preference with the belief, whether true or false, that the "good stuff is in the peel.")
I grated some Himalayan Sea Salt (my newest salt fave)
and added 1 tsp red pepper hummus smearing it on all the potato pieces
then, the remainder of the above used avocado, and
a product called "snack sprouts" -- they look like little dried peas and beans with tiny tails and add a healthy crunch
And I topped it off with a coating of chipolte salsa.

3.  As a crunch snack -- I am taking 2 flax/sunflower/sun-dried tomato crackers that I made in my dehydrator.  The seeds give me something to really chew on when I need that crunch factor, but because of the high density of seeds, I use them in moderation.

4.  And for my sweet treat:  one homemade vegan cookie with oats, coconut, flax seeds, carob chips, dried cherry, and god knows what else.  I made them awhile back and keep them frozen.

That's it folks -- easy peezy once you get used to having chopped and shredded veggies on hand.  And to drink -- lots of water.  And more water.
 
Join me on this journey -- invite a friend if they are interested.  Let's be our best and healthiest selves.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Okay - since the link may not have worked, direct from the source - PERFECT VEGAN BACON

Finally—Perfect Vegan Bacon You Can Make At Home (and Without Any Soy)

Bacon.

We live in a world that covers its wounds with bacon-strip bandages, provides children with plush bacon dolls, and challenges its artists to create the ultimate bacon sculpture.


vegan bacon photo 300x225


Soy-free, pig-free, and homemade.

This obsession has earned the honor of a dedicated Wikipedia entry to bacon mania. The country is so in love with its smoky, salty goodness that even the most gung-ho meat-eaters are willing to sprinkle bacon-flavored TVP bits all over their salads and baked potatoes.

But if you think bacon mania is only for meat-eaters, think again. During college I waitressed at a vegetarian cafe, where the "fakon" routinely sold out during Sunday brunch.

Fake, soy bacon barely counts as food

At that same cafe, I remember serving one unsuspecting elderly diner who had not yet noticed that all the "meat" on the menu was written in quotes.

He took one bite of his tempeh "bacon," threw down the strip, forced the plate back into my hands, and declared:

"This is the worst food I've had since the war!"

And really, who could blame him? Besides being heavily processed and expensive, most veggie bacon, well, just plain sucks.

The surprising secret to great vegan bacon? Beans and buckwheat

Today, after a lot of tasty research, I finally have an inexpensive, soy-free, gluten-free, wholefood and freaking delicious solution. If you've ever woken in the middle of the night and found yourself drooling to the scent of unexplained bacon, this recipe is for you.

Yes, this bacon is not only ready to stand in for pancetta in your pasta carbonara and gourmet mac'n'cheese, but is even good enough on its own during breakfast or as the star of an avocado BLT!


vegan blt photo 300x225


This batch makes about 24 slices, or 1 cup total. You'll be surprised about how quickly that amount disappears, so do yourself a favor and triple the batch, store in the freezer, and enjoy the luxury of pigless-but-obsession-worthy bacon at a moment's notice.

Homemade Vegan Soy-Free Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans or other small red beans
  • 1/3 cup hulled wholegrain buckwheat (not buckwheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
  • 4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos (May be substituted with soy sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup

Rinse the beans and buckwheat, place in large bowl covered with several inches of cold filtered water; let soak overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Strain the soaked beans and buckwheat and rinse. Place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion powder, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, aminos or soy sauce, salt, tomato paste, coconut oil, and maple syrup. Pulse several times to combine, scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl and continue pulsing until uniform but not as pureed as hummus.

Line a 9×13 casserole dish with parchment paper and coat pan with baking spray. Place bacon mixture in pan and spread as much as possible with a spatula. To get the mixture very thin and evenly spread, spray another piece of parchment paper lightly with baking spray and press the paper on top of the mixture and flatten with your hands. Remove and discard the top piece of parchment paper, then use a spatula to spread over and fill in any bare spots.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then slice into 24 strips, about 1 inch by 4 inches (Do this by making one lengthwise cut down the center, and then twelve cuts across the shorter side). Remove the strips with a small spatula.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Fry the bacon slices for 2-3 minutes, flipping once. Alternatively, before frying, you can freeze the bacon, then fry when ready to serve (no need to thaw first).

And, it's Kosher!

A super, duper, yummy vegan bacon recipe.

This recipe is so good that I didn't change one things except the kitchen in which it was prepared. I highly recommend it -- in fact, I am munching on a BLT on a whole grain bread with chipolte catsup as I type.

I know, I know, not eating mindfully, but it was so good I wanted to share.

http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegan-bacon/

Going Bananas!

We've all seen it -- over ripe, spotted bananas sitting on our counters. Good intentions at the produce market and then time gets away from us and the bananas get overly ripe.

Today there was a perfect storm between a space in the kitchen (remodeling drop clothes, tools, and construction crap have moved into the dining part of the kitchen), two overly ripe bananas, and time..............and voila! a delicious, vegan, healthy cookie was born.

Here is my recipe -- no photos because we ate 'em. (not true -- we ate a few and froze the rest, but as photos go, they just look like what they are -- cookies)

Into a mixing bowl I put:

2 peeled, ripe, mashed bananas
about 4 oz of applesauce
3 TBSP Agave nectar (you can add more for extra sweetness -- we don't like really sweet cookies)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups oatmeal or rolled oats (not instant)

And to this -- just get inspired and let the good times roll
I added about:
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup dried sweetened cherries
1/4 cup carob chips

and if I weren't sharing these cookies with my two legged beloved, I would have added some diced candied ginger.

Stir the mixture and place in the refrigerator for the short time it takes to preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Spray oil on two 9 x 13 cookie sheets and spoon out 24 cookies.
Bake about 10 minutes -- mine took an extra minute.
Let them stay on the cookie sheet to cool.

And then take some breaths to slow your excitement and begin enjoying them.
I like a cookie for breakfast with my, yes.....I have allowed ONE CUP of coffee back into my life each day....coffee.

Don't monkey around -- make em, bake em, and enjoy em, without guilt.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Update on my progress

I was looking at the start of this blog (below) and guess it is time to update my stats --

Since I began (in January of 2010) as a Garden of Eden Vegan, my term for vegan minus oil, sugar and processed foods, I have lost 60 pounds and gone from a size cough, sputter, what? to a loose 10/tight 8. Goal is about 25 more pounds and a size 4.

The nice thing about having a vegetarian woman doctor is when talking to her about how much weight to lose, she stood up and said, "I am a size 4, I think this size would look good on you. What do you think?" A chubby male doctor wouldn't go there.

The only meds I take now are Vitamin D and calcium.

Feeling good, feeling healthy and vibrant and ready to climb (as is my goal and bucket list of one thing) The Great Wall of China.

Woo hoot! as the youngins say. Way to go! (as we said in my generation) Or if we were hip: Way to go, Girl!

Chow's on!! Recipes on blog.

Hey Good Lookin' -- Whatcha Got Cookin'?

And boy oh boy, do I have stuff cookin' this afternoon -- see previous post as to why today is a cooking day.

Tonight's dinner menu, as it unfolded before my very eyes (photo above) turned out to be:

An appetizer of Beets with lemon zest and basil

Grilled potato/cabbage burger with chipolte salsa
Cabbage and red pepper medley
Balsamic glazed carrots and collard greens

Flax, oatmeal and coconut, carab and cranberry cookie
Gruet Blanc de Noirs from New Mexico, of all places


Buckle up! Let the party begin!!

OH JUST BEET ME

As a kid, I hated beets.
It might have been their taste, or it might have been because my mother used to hide the circular beet slices between circular cranberry sauce (from the can) slices. So I never trusted my mother nor "the beet."

I knew however, that my vegan status was confirmed (that I am indeed a proverbial card carrying vegan) the day I was sitting at my office at work craving beets!!

Here is how I typically make beets and how, in fact, I made them today.

I wrapped four small to mid-size beets in foil and baked them at 350 degrees for an hour. Let them cool and peel them. Sometimes I boil them, but then I pour out all the yummy delicious red tinged liquid, and I just have to believe that I am pouring away "the good stuff."

I put these cooled, peeled and sliced beets into a glass container, ever knowledgeable that beets could bleed and ruin plastic or porous containers. On top, I poured a good 1/2 cup of the delicious and worth every penny Napa Valley Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar with Lemon, and zested the skin of one large lemon, and tossed in some slivered basil and let all of these flavors get acquainted while I made the rest of the dinner. Don't you think beets are so earthy?

Next, our main side dish:

BALSAMIC GLAZED CARROTS AND COLLARD GREENS

Into a pot of salted and boiling water, I tossed 7 carrots which I sliced on the diagonal. While they were getting a head start, I julienned a bunch of collard greens and then tossed them into the pot, letting them cook no longer than 5 minutes before I drained them.

Into a large skilled, upon which I sprayed some olive oil spray,
I put about 1/8 of a teaspoon of roasted sesame oil (optional, but use more if you allow more oil in your diet.)

I tossed in the carrots and collard greens and poured over them a mixture of:

2 tablespoons Napa Valley blackberry balsamic vinegar with pear (o to die for)
2 teaspoons napa shoyu (or you can use soy sauce)
a whisper of agave (or some sweetener)
and a healthy 1/8 teaspoon of Pensys Southwest Seasoning which is incredible and contains:
ancho, cayenne, chipolte, cilantro, Mexican oregano, salt, pepper, onion and garlic

I stirred this entire mixture over a moderate to high heat until the liquid bronzed the veggies.

This, in my humble opinion, is a keeper.

For the main attraction:
YUKON MASHED POTATO BURGERS WITH VIDALIA ONION, CABBAGE AND RED PEPPER

First, I boiled up a pot of Yukon Gold potatoes -- with skins. Why? One, because I am lazy, and two, because I hold firm to the belief that "the good stuff" is in the skins.

When they were soft to the fork, I mashed them with my Mi Tutto hand held mixer, (so slick) and softening them with vegetable broth as needed. I set the bowl aside.

In a large saute pan, I added:

a spray of olive oil spray
1 Vidalia Onion, chopped

and sauteed this onion with the vegetable broth to nearly caramelize it.
Like good sex, fine wine and roux -- you cannot, I repeat, cannot, rush this process. Trust me.

Just before the onions are ready to "give it up" -- toss in the chopped red pepper, and a tad latter, the chopped green cabbage, and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro,
and water saute until this mixture begins to wilt.

(by water saute, I mean, whenever the good stuff starts browning in the pan, add about a tablespoon of water (or the veggie broth) to liberate it and then stir it into the mixture.)

Now, the way I cook, the mashed potatoes and the cabbage mixture never balance out. Typically, as was the case today, I had more cabbage mixture than potatoes.

So, into the potatoes, I added enough of the cabbage mixture to make a batter for potato/cabbage burgers -- ie, more potato than cabbage.

Question: does anyone else besides me think of Dan Quale every time you type the word potato and an "e" shows up on the end?

Anyway.................the coup de grace................drum roll

I pour a healthy amount of Ian's Panko Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs -- the breadcrumbs of the gods and chefs alike, onto a plate.

And onto this pile of crumbs, I bread the potato/cabbage patties.

I use wax paper between each patty and freeze all but what I am going to use.

To cook the patty, I spray my saute pan with olive oil and heat both sides of the patty.

To plate: I topped with a very healthy (okay, beyond health and common sense) amount of Fonteria Chipotle Salsa with Roasted Tomatillo and Garlic (a veritable orgasm of flavors) and then a handful of chopped cilantro, the herb of the gods (so I hear).

On the plate in the photo (on the blog post above) I added some extra cabbage/red pepper mixture as a side dish.

For dessert............
I have been trying to make a perfect vegan cookie.
The recipe I am sharing with you today is NOT perfect -- but has a lot of potential -- work with it and see if you have suggestions to perfect it.

This is my:

FLAX SEED, OATMEAL, COCONUT COOKIE

Into a large bowl I add the dry ingredients, which I think can remain fixed in this trial:

3/4 cup organic whole wheat flour
3/4 cup organic whole oats
3/4 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened), you decide for yourself
1/4 cup flax seed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Now it gets dicey -- what to use for the eggs and oil, neither of which I want in my perfect cookie.

I used avocado last time I tried this and it worked okay. My pastry chef son, said to use applesauce or pumpkin mixture as a binder.

Today I bought two organic baby food jars: one was peach apricot and oats, and the other was apple and cinnamon and oats and used them as my binder.

And then:
1 teaspoon vanilla
and
2/3 cup of agave nectar (brown sugar or any sugar in your diet is fine)

To which I added the extras:

I used 1 cup of vegan carob chips (if you are okay with chocolate chips, they would taste better, I think.)
and
1 cup dried cranberries.

Stir it up.
I put it in the refrigerator until the oven heated to 350 degrees, and then I baked them for approximately 15 minutes.

Taste: pretty darn good, but I think they could be better.

What sayeth thou? Suggestions for a better vegan cookie? Do tell.

And of course, as I sat down to dine on this culinary treat, I poured myself a chilled glass of
Gruet Blanc de Noirs.

Was it good?
Well, with the spicy salsa on the potato/cabbage burger -- it got lost,
and
if one were to take a giant gulp,
which I know one is NOT supposed to do when sipping champagne,
it bubbles and foams up just like Korbel and shoots out your nose while sending you into a coughing fit,
which is not very lady like, nor polite, whatever your sex may be,
but fortunately,
I was dining solo with only three four legged beloveds shocked by the spew of bubbly caused by the gulp.

don't ask me why I gulped

but all in all,
a good time was had by all.

sending you culinary blessings and wishing you all a spicy life.

When the Carnivore is Away, the Vegan Will Play

The White House (as in my last name is White, duh..) was hot with a flurry and fury of cooking and taste treats this afternoon. I dropped my two-legged beloved off at the airport to fly to his 50th high school reunion, and en route home, stopped at the organic market for provisions, and returned home to cook up a storm.

Gordon hates the smell of vegetables, especially vegetables cooking, so I try to do my cooking when he is not home. He will be gone for 24 hours ---- anarchy rules! veggies rock! dogs get to sleep in the bed! what fun!

Some might ask how we co-exist in a house where the vegan has to smell meat (yuck) and see dead animal carcasses plated, and the carnivore, who hates most things green, has to smell veggies....but it works well. We each prepare and eat what the other dislikes when we are alone, and when we are together, we savor each other, coffee, grainy toast (breakfast), and fruit, salads or crackers and wine. Since I work evenings - we eat most of our dinners alone --- morning coffee at local coffee shops (searching for the perfect coffee like they serve everywhere in France!) is our date time.

And if we are out, and hosts inquire what to feed us, or at restaurants for dinner --- a regular meal works awesome. My two legged beloved eats the dead animal and 1/2 the starch, and I eat the other 1/2 the starch and all the veggies. Works for us.

As I was cooking up my veritable storm of vegan delights, Julia Child came to mind -- a lesson from Julia: if you are going to spend the afternoon over a hot stove (especially in SW Florida on a hot summer day), it is beneficial to the project to consume alcohol.

My cooking drink of choice: for the name only was a beer from Smuttynose Brewery called Old Brown Dog Ale. Did I like it? Not really. Kinda bitter, I thought, and in the words of my beer aficionado pastry chef son, "Smuttynose isn't great with their flavor balance. Rogue's hazelnut nectar is a better brown." Ha! If I'd only known.

So sit back, relax, the recipes are soon to be posted. And since this blog, as most blogs, is in chronological order -- the recipes will be posted ABOVE this post, so you are actually living life in reverse...sorta.

blessings and delicious foods and drink to each wonderful one of you.
shalom

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Potato/black bean burger with watermelon, jicama, cucumber salad. Recipe below in blog.

Red, White, and Green -- Cool as a Cucumber and full of flavors!

After my yucca experience, detailed below, I was game for a new adventure, so I thought I would try a jicama. And then the challenge was: Now what?

So I took equal amounts of:

Jicama, peeled and diced
salad or Mexican cucumber, peeled and diced
watermelon, peeled and diced

To this mixture, I added:

juice of one lime
sea salt
Penzeys Southwest seasoning (spicy)

Stirred it up and gave it time for the flavors to marry and voila! A cool, crisp, salty and spicy and sweet salad. A wonderful addition to any spicy food.

Farewell to Yucca -- Welcome Back Potato!

I made the recipe I am now going to share with you last week. It was a Yucca and Black Bean burger. It was really, really good. I had one burger for a late lunch and as I was driving to work, I felt my throat closing. Fortunately I had my epi pen with me and gave myself a shot in the thigh and all was well.

Except that the only thing I brought for supper was another Yucca/Bean burger. What to do? I know, the normal person would have said toss it. The thought did come to my mind to just enjoy it and run down to the ER and ask for a benedryl shot. I had a flax oatmeal cookie instead, and then around 11 p.m., when I was starving, I took a straw and picked out the corn and black beans for a snack. pathetic!!

There should have been a clue in a previous post when I made yucca fries. My throat itched then, but I chose to ignore it. Moral of this story: No more Yucky Yucca in my life.

BUT -- fortunately, potato works just as well.

Sooooooooooo, tonight I redid the recipe using potato and I almost fainted with the pleasure of the flavor. And fortunately, or not depending upon your view of starches, I am not allergic to potato -- in fact, potatoes are a main staple in my diet.

Here is how I made the New Improved Potato Black Bean burger:

I boiled 3 medium potatoes, skins on, quartered to speed the process.

Into my food processor, I tossed the following:

the cooked potatoes

1 can of seasoned black beans rinsed (my thinking is that a little seasoning stays in the bean -- you could use the unseasoned too, just rinse either way.)

1 can of white corn with chipotle (or just a can of corn) drained

1/3 chopped vidalia onion


From here we can discuss and vary according to what you have and what you like:

I had some portobello mushrooms that needed to be used so I tossed a few slices in. Not necessary to the recipe.

I added about 1/3 cup corn meal. I don't like to use flour, but my guess is that if I used flour, the burger would have had a firmer consistency to work with.

I also had some carrots cut in matchsticks that I tossed in. Again - not necessary to the recipe.

Seasoned with:
sea salt
Pensey's Southwest seasoning

And give 'er a whirl, leaving some chunks in, just because.

Empty the food processor into a bowl and tuck the bowl into the refrigerator to firm up the mixture.

Now the fun begins.

Into a skillet, with the burner on, I sprayed some olive oil spray.

On a plate with Panko whole wheat bread crumbs -- use ONLY Panko -- I put a mound of potato/bean mixture and made it into a patty, with Panko crumbs on all sides and plopped it into the skillet. My skillet held three patties.

I sprayed the tops prior to flipping them. They got golden brown and firm.

I plated them with cilantro paste and salsa. Ya-uummmm.

I still have a bowl of mixture in the refrigerator and will make patties for tomorrow's lunch too.

photo, above

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Yucca. The first experimen. Check ot blog for the recipe.

Moral of the Story: Yucca is not yucky!

The Truth Is: Yucca is NOT Yucky!

Okay -- Yucca Experiment #1, successful. Even Gordon swallowed.

Of course, rather than telling you the time, I must build you the clock first, but today, the clock is small.

Yesterday I was at Red Mesa Cantina in St. Pete enjoying afternoon tapas with a special friend and as a vegan, I needed to search a bit for my taste treat. I ordered fried yucca and chipolte catsup. The yucca came with a slight breading, about the size of steak fries. And the Chipolte Catsup was The Bomb!

Fried is NOT on my Garden of Eden Vegan list of healthy foods, although in a pinch, exceptions are made. So I decided to try to replicate this yummy treat in a healthy way.

First step: buy a Yucca, also known as Cassava. It looks like the ugly brown root pictured below. I got mine at Publix for less than a dollar.

Second, Chop the sucker. I machete chopped it in half and then chopped of the top. Now it was more manageable.

Third - Skin it -- this was easy. If I had a potato peeler, I think it would have worked. I just used a paring knife.

Fourth - Cut it in the size of steak fries.

Fifth - Boil until almost soft.

Now -- here is where we can get creative. I wanted to lightly bread them in Panko Breadcrumbs, my son, the chef, said it is the only way to bread things. And I thought I needed some moisture, so I soaked the par boiled slices in salsa and then breaded them.

I think I/you could have sprayed them with olive oil spray or if you are not avoiding oil, brush them with olive oil -- and then bread them.

Pre-heat the oven at 375 to 400 degrees and bake them. I kept an eye on them and turned them half way -- maybe ten minutes each side. True disclosure in recipes: I did spray them, after breading and before baking with olive oil spray. Just a spritz.

They came out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Yummy. I sprinkled them with French sea salt (a finishing salt from Penzey's). And I bet if I hadn't forgotten to buy the Chipotle Catsup -- which is what I went to Publix for in the first place, they would have been great with that as a dip. We ate them plain and/or with regular catsup.

I have a few more yucca ideas -- stay tuned.

But alas -- I do work the day shift a few days this week so it cuts down on my cooking and play time. But IF my new idea works -- it will be well worth the wait, she says ever so humbly.

Savor the Flavor -- of Life!!!

Prepare yourself! My first yucca experiment is in the oven. Place your bets and set your plates. The jury is obviously still out

This is a Yucca. This one cost less than a dollar at Publix.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Craving Cabbage!

Can you believe it?
That any person, and specifically me, would actually crave cabbage?!

And yet, all week, I have been thinking about that head of green cabbage in the refrigerator and looking forward when I had a free meal slot to attack it. (This week was busy with new recipes and even with the cabbage craving, you will see from previous posts that I had enough taste treats to last until today.)

So on this steamy, sultry, rain drenched and swampy Florida day, I satisfied my cabbage craving.

Actually, I was going to keep it quiet -- after all, I couldn't imagine that it would be anything to "write home" about. But, the secret ingredient exploded the dish into a wonderful meal, and I would be remiss, and not a good friend, if I didn't share it with you.

That ingredient was Penzey's Sweet Curry Powder - used somewhat freely. Then, for good measure, I added a "bam" of Penzey's Hot Curry Powder for good measure. If you have these powders, then proceed and enjoy.

Here's what I had on hand that I water sauteed:

1/4 sweet onion
1 cup green cabbage
1/2 yellow pepper

I tossed these chopped items into a frying pan and every few minutes, added a tablespoon of water and stirred. This brings up all the yummy brown roux type goodness from the pan and marries it into the veggies.

As the mixture was browning up nice (this really enhances the flavor of cabbage), I had one lonely small red potato that I chopped and added, and then I added the curry powders.

Another hit of water and stirring to blend and marry things together. And WOW!

I got out the chopsticks and felt all proud of myself for the creation -- it is a keeper for me.

But then again -- I am a curry junkie, so take that as a grain of mustard seed.

or sea salt

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hail to Kale!!

The vegan world is abuzz with this hottest new taste treat: Kale Chips.

Just Google it if you don't believe me.

So of course, trend-setter that I am, I had to make my very own kale chips and I guess today was just cooking and blogging day, and it's not even raining. (For those of you who don't follow this blog regularly, rain inspires me.)

So here it is -- be the first on your block to host a party featuring: Kale Chips.
Now, admittedly, they are not pretty. Let this be a lesson to us -- beauty is truly in the eye, or taste buds of the beholder.

All I did, while the oven pre-heated to 375 -- and yes, I could have used my dehydrator, but it was 15 minutes in the oven and 7 hours in the dehydrator (give or take) and I wanted immediate gratification, but of course.

I tore up the kale into hearty chip size portions, allowing for shrinkage (a la Seinfeld).
And put all of the pieces of kale into a large pasta style bowl.

In a smaller bowl, I poured about 1/2 cup or so of this incredible Napa Valley balsamic/lemon vinegar; I added a healthy sprinkle of nutritional yeast to give the chips a cheesy flavor, and then my stand-by seasoning of sea salt, with herbs such as rosemary, thyme and basil.

I mixed the small bowl ingredients together and then poured this mixture over the kale pieces, then mixed the kale pieces with my hands to massage in the wet mixture.

On a baking sheet (or two if you got carried away), I placed each piece singularly, but touching so I could put more on the sheet, remember: shrinkage. About 1/2 way through the baking, say at approximately 7.5 minutes, I took out the baking sheet and turned, fluffed, fondled, and removed chips as appropriate.

And when they were crispy, voila! A healthy, but ugly, taste treat. Gordon even tried one and swallowed (as opposed to the nori covered with sesame paste which he had to spit into the garbage.)

When could you use these? Flavor wise, a large bowl of them would be great for a party, but really, honestly, they are just too ugly to put out for entertainment.

Personally, I would make them if I was in the mood for something like popcorn to munch on during a movie. This would be a healthy alternative and the lights would be out so you wouldn't have to look at them. Just saying....

Kale chips. The latest trend. Be the first on your block to make this tasty treat. Recipe on blog

Polenta Continued

So, they ask: and what to vegans eat for supper?

Tonight's supper smelled so rich and earthy as the mushrooms roasted, I almost didn't want to wait. Well, actually, I didn't -- there is one less mushroom for supper.

All I did was take some portabello mushrooms and lay them in a ceramic roasting dish. I used a seasoning blend of sea salt and herbs on top of each mushroom, and then topped each one with a slice of the polenta - recipe below, the one with the white corn and chipolte peppers added. Then I covered it with a rich marinara sauce.

Baket at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. To finish, I topped it with a mixture of fresh basil and parsley, which the squirrels are now ignoring (since they are focused on eating every mango on a very large tree in our yard.)

The smell is intoxicating -- the flavor rich and oh so Italian. I am packing it up for supper at the hospital tonight.

Dessert? Gordon brought home so ripe dark cherries -- sounds like a good finish.

Every bite -- healthy, yummy and you can feel very proud of your self that no animal died to feed your body (well, the bumper sticker actually says, "no animal died to feed your fat ass," but I do think that qualifies as standing on the soap box and waving a mean green bean.)

Polenta part one.

The Battle of the Polenta...

Sunday, I was zipping through Publix for a few things for the upcoming week and as an impulse buy, I tossed in my cart a tube of prepared polenta with sundried tomatoes. In the fruit section, I also saw, for my first time, a bright yellow slice of watermelon sitting amount the pink slices. Since Gordon is the watermelon lover of all times, and much less adventurous than I, I chose the pink one for his benefit.

As I was checking out, my favorite bagger, Nigel, a tall, skinny (as opposed to thin) Bit o'the Brit, with bright pink Harry Potter glasses that his wife picked out for him, handed me back the polenta instead of bagging it.

"Take this back and buy the corn meal and make your own -- it is cheaper and better," he says with his British accent and much authority.

"No, I am lazy today. I have corn meal at home, but I just didn't want to stand over a hot stove."

His hair practically stood on end as his eyes widened and shone through his pink frames, "WHAT??!! You have corn meal at home and you are buying this?? Take this one back -- or I will take it back for you."

"No really, I want this one," (I lied a bit -- frankly I didn't give a damn Scarlett, but I just wanted to speed up the process since a line was forming.) "I promise to try it from scratch next time, honest."

Looking disappointed, he bagged the prepared polenta, "You won't be disappointed. My wife makes it and there is no comparison."

And just when I thought we could get moving, and I am sure the folks behind me were hoping it was so, Angela, who was checking me out said, "Why didn't you get a yellow watermelon?"

To which I replied, "Well, never having tasted one, I wanted to stick with a sure thing."

"Oh, but they are so much better -- do you want Nigel to run back and get you a yellow one -- they are so deliciously sweet -- you will love it."

Now here, in a perfect world, I would LOVE Nigel to run back and get me a yellow one, but the line was looking surly and I thought I'd just better bring this whole experience in for landing, so I said, "Thanks, but I'll get one next time."

"If you're lucky," she said, "We rarely get them."

And she was right - I have yet to see one since, but I am on the BOLO (be on the look out).

Now, this story would not be complete if I would not share with you the fact that I did, with Gordon's sage coaching and preparation of the polenta mold, (a sophisticated term for the large dog food can he washed, de-labeled and took off both ends), I in fact, made homemade polenta.

It was embarrassingly easy. Standing over the hot stove, my tush! I am embarrassed that I even said that. I used Bob's Red Meal Corn Grits in a 2:1 ratio (water:grits) and it did not take 5 minutes start to finish.

Of course, being genetically incapable of following instructions, at the last minute, before I spooned my polenta into the mold, I added a drained can of white corn and chipolte peppers, stirred the mixture and then molded it and just put it in the refrigerator.

What can you do with polenta? The possibilities are endless -- it boggles the mind.

The post and photo above will show one way, with portabello mushrooms and marinara sauce.

I like mine cold just sliced on a dish.

You could top them with black beans and salsa,

or just salsa.

Gordon, not being anti-sugar like I am, fried his (not being anti-oil like I am) and topped it with maple syrup. He made his own mixture so as not to have lumpy corn and chipolte in it -- but I bet the sweet and the spicy would also be good.

You decide. Let me know your creations.

LUNCH - as pictured on blog below.

So many people ask me incredulously: What do vegans eat for lunch?

As if it is a pathetic existence of lettuce and chopped carrots. Although, I have to admit, my taste buds have changed since my junk food days and I actually like lettuces (so many varieties, so little time) and carrots and even.....drum roll....celery.

My main problem is picking what to make or eat with a long lifetime of choices.

Today's lunch was so quick and easy and really satisfying. (photo below)

I merely plated a live/raw organic corn tortilla (once you have tasted one, it will be difficult to ever liked the processed (or dead, sorry) ones again.

I spread over it the creamy mixture of blended butter beans and artichoke hearts, this time seasoned with chipotle pepper. This mixture is a snap to make in the processor and is rich and creamy and can assume any personality needed depending upon the seasonings you add.

Next, I crumbled a black bean patty that I bought at the Granary, but they look easy enough to make. I just used about 1/3 of it in today's lunch.

Sprinkled on some thinly sliced Vidalia onion.

Spooned a few spoonfuls of a medium heat salsa.

And finished with a hearty amount of fresh, chopped cilantro. (which I had to purchase because the squirrels won the battle of the fresh cilantro in my herb garden.)

For me, I liked it at room temperature. Hot food fans may want to warm it to marry the flavors a bit.

easy peasy -- healthy and delish!!!

What do vegans eat? Description on blog. Yum!

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's all about texture

Something about this day brought memories of a time I was in Tiberius, Israel, and went to an open air market for lunch. I had the very best falafel and hummus sandwich in the world for all time. Really.

There is no way for me to ever reach this paradigm again, so I won't even try.
But in calling back the memory of this orgasmic mouthful -- sorry, but true, I remembered that the texture of the ingredients had a lot to do with the enjoyment of this sandwich.

So today: Texture it is.

I wanted a smooth and creamy spread for my creation. If you scoff at this -- just go read the ingredients on a jar of mayo and come back to this posting. I can remember having mayo sandwiches -- now the thought makes me gag. So here is my creamy spread alternative.

Easy peazy:

Just add to the bowl of a food processor with an S blade:

1 drained can of butter beans
1 drained can of artichoke hearts (the non-marinated can)

Spin until creamy.

This mixture tastes good in and of it self, but it SCREAMS for self expression.
Today I mixed in Vindaloo seasoning from Penzeys to give it an Indian kick.

My sandwich tonight therefore is TEXTURE, Texture, texture!

I took the mid-size whole wheat pita pocket - the one that is the size of a fist, and added my creamy dreamy spread,
then some boiled sliced red skin potatoes with skins
and
some match-stick carrots
and
a few oiled and herbed but thoroughly drained and patted with a paper towel, sun dried tomatoes.

Wrapped it up and it awaits me during my night shift.

And in case I am still hungry,into a tupperware container:

I chopped up another boiled red skin potato
tossed in a chopped yellow pepper (1/2 -- I saved the other 1/2 for breakfast tomorrow)
more carrot match sticks
and lots of thick, chunky, gourmet salsa (Jack's is my fav)
I shook up the container to mix well, and added it to my lunch bag along with several clementines for dessert.


Easy -- tasty -- full of texture so I can mindfully chew and savor each healthy bite.

And why aren't you vegan? Okay, okay -- I am waving the proverbial green bean again. Sorry.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rainy Day Spice

I am cooking today because

a) it is raining and that atavistic gene to "put the kettle on the stove" has kicked into gear,

b) because my cupboard is bare and I am too lazy to go to the store,

and, most importantly,

c) I want supper tonight.

I lucked out -- my bare pantry produced everything I needed for this quick and easy and deliciously spicy meal.

If I were more ambitious, I would serve it over wild or brown rice or couscous -- but I scooped it into its Tupperware carry case just as is, and it is yummy -- lip smackin' good.

RECIPE

1 Vidalia Onion
1 can of white beans -- any kind, folks with empty cupboards can't be fussy
1 can of diced tomatoes
sweet potatoes -- 2 bigs or a bunch of littles
cumin
cinnamon
chipolte


Slice the sweet potatoes and deal with the peel according to your own sensibilities ( I like to leave it in -- again, lazy, but I say it is "because the peels have nutrients.") Drain and set aside if they finish before you are ready.

Into the skillet, I tossed my chopped sweet onion and let it start sizzling. I added the slightest touch of water.

Then:
1/4 teaspoon each of cumin, cinnamon and chipolte powder -- all Penzey's, of course.

And gently stir adding tiny hints of water to help marry the spices with the onions. It smells exotic and heady and you will feel so worldly and sophisticated.

Then I tossed in a can of the white beans, a can of diced tomatoes, and the chopped sweet potatoes, which were boiled to the point of wanted to mush up a little, and that made the mixture better, in my opinion.

Since I love.....no, make it: LOVE fresh cilantro, and since the squirrels are leaving behind the spindle flowery spikes (after demolishing the rich earthy leaves), I cut up the remaining bits and tossed them in.

If I had some limes, I would garnish with a slice of lime.
But then again, if I had wheels, I would be a wagon.

It is as it is -- a quick (less than 15 minutes from raiding the pantry, including steaming the sweet potatoes, to finishing and tasting) and easy, inexpensive and tasty dish. And I bet the flavors are getting to know each other as I blog this -- and by tonight for supper, it should be killer good!

Wishing you all spice in your life and occasional rainy days for your yard and spirit.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I like mine dark, rich, intense and bold

Coffee that is.

I love my coffee. Mostly I drink espresso. At Starbucks, I get a venti (large) iced, 4 shots of espresso to go. Several times a day. I have coffee machines in two places in my house and at my office.

An addict. Yes, I am sure. But I love it. It is a delightful ritual for me. And at this point in my life, I see no reason to part with this intensely rich and bold friend of mine.

I DO, however, see a reason NOT to drink it during my shift at the hospital from 4 p.m. to midnight which I was doing. And then I would come home and entertain the Naked Chihuahua for hours until the sun came up. This schedule was wearing us both ragged.

ENTER......TO THE RESCUE.............TEECCINO

It is naturally caffeine free. It is a "nutritious blend of Mediterranean herbs, grains, fruits and nuts that are roasted and ground to brew and taste like coffee." So sayeth the label, and true it is.

It is non-acidic, contains heart healthy potassium and soluble fiber, and is prebiotic since the inulin from chicory root supports beneficial microflora that improve digestion, elimination and intestinal health.

KOOL BEANZ -- oh, I mean grains!

I like the Java the best -- it has a "strong coffee bite softened with slight sweetness" and is a Medium Roast with "deep, balanced body." Heck, I like anything with a "deep and balanced body!


I also purchased the Original with "citrus notes of orange peel sweetened by dates and figs," a light roast, "fruity, bright body." I don't like my coffee sweet, but if you do, you would probably like this. It is okay, but not my cup of tee..........ccino, if you know what I mean.

Seems like this product is a keeper for the Garden of Eden Vegan lifestyle and self improvement gig. I make a large pot of it around noon and take a thermos with me when I head to work.

My sleep has improved too. I can usually stop entertaining Ms Maddie Sue around 1:15 a.m. and head off to bed, falling asleep shortly thereafter. Good thing -- I need to start waking up early.....I mean e-a-r-l-y for my newest form or torture. Oh did I say torture, sorry, I meant exercise: C25K. Google it. I'll blog on it later.

It is time for another cup of French Roast Coffee since it is still morning and it is still caffeine.

May your day be blessed with eyes made for wonder.....and wonder to fill them with awe.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A rich and creamy lunch or, what to do with cauliflower.

While standing in front of my open refrigerator, hearing my mother's voice, "Just get in and close the door behind you if you are going to keep looking in there for so long," I spotted a head of cauliflower that needed to be prepared sooner than later. I cleaned it and steamed it and set it out in a bowl, but it just did not appeal to me today.

My leaning was toward something Indian, or spicy or creamy.

SOOOOO

I decided to make a raw sauce that was creamy but had a little kick.

Recipe

I soaked one cup of raw cashews in water for a hour
Then added them to my food processor with:
3/4 cup of water
2 TBSP of fresh lemon juice
1/2 teas. of garlic powder
a nice slice of Vidalia onion
a hit of Chipolte powder
and sea salt

and I let her swirl around until creamy

Then I tossed in a few leaves of fresh basil, and an equal amount of chives and pulsed it into the mixture so it would blend, yet maintain its character.

To my bowl of steamed cauliflower pieces, I added one drained can of petite peas, mushrooms and pearl onions.

Then I added the creamy sauce over all the veggies and blended them gently.

To plate, I was fortunate to find in my refrigerator some Organic Girl (brand name sold at Publix) Herby Romaine. I filled my plate with this leafy mixture and then topped it with the creamy cauliflower, peas, mushrooms and onions.

The marriage of flavors was yummy. I like the Herby Romaine because I the various herbs just surprise my palate whilst I am eating. There was enough savory flavor to the sauce to really enhance the flavor of the veggies.

This is a KEEPER!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A tribute to my former mother-in-law, Madelene Trudeau

I know it is difficult for those who know me to picture this, but in 1980, I was 30 and a hot shot international management consultant, globetrotting and earning five time more than I ever made, even as an attorney - and that was 30 years ago!!

I had a personal assistant, a personal shopper, and a driver. I spent six days a week on the road or working and one day a week: getting my hair done, face done, make-up updated, massage, manicure, pedicure. I had an expense account for clothes and one for all of the above pampering. Hard to think a 30 year old needed that much grooming, but appearances are important in that industry.

During 1980, however, I not only experienced being caught in the crossfires of a terrorist bombing in Manila, but also a serious home invasion, burglary, attack and an armed robbery. (In some ways, little in my life has changed. I still need major trauma and drama to convince me that it is time to make life changes! smile.)

I decided, then, to move to the country and settled in NW Connecticut, marrying the local John Deere Dealer who became the father of my wonderful son.

I am sure his family was stunned by my arrival as was the small town where we lived. The guys at the local diner called me "Ms Make-up" and one of the first women I met explained to me that steal toed boots would serve me better than my Italian strappy sandals. I learned that one could not hail a cab and that no one delivered anything by maybe a soggy pizza.

Yet, my dear mother-in-law learned that my favorite dinner (at that time -- I was not a vegan nor a veggie -- and my favorite dinner was not colorful or stunningly plated) was:
roasted chicken breast
mashed potatoes
gravy
and corn.

She often made it for me as a treat. New to the family, I used manners when I ate, (can you even imagine!) but clandestinely, when I thought absolutely no one was looking, I would stir a little chicken, in a little potato and gravy and mix in a little corn. The stirred up bite was heavenly in my mouth. Ms Manners be damned. I do know it is rude to stir up your food, but boy, do I love to do it. I figured, the food just gets mixed up in my stomach anyway -- why not start at the mouth?

My wise and loving mother-in-law quietly noticed and one time, when I was getting ready for the secret stir, and looking around to see if anyone was paying attention, she caught my eye and whispered to me, "go ahead -- I know you like to eat that way -- go ahead and stir it all up."

Whoa! That opened the floodgates -- and from that moment on, whenever she made me "my special meal," and we sat down to eat, I would look at her, she would nod, and I would mix up the whole batch: chicken, potatoes, gravy and corn, into one glorious mixture and I would just luxuriate in my meal and in the feeling of love, family and acceptance.

This is a long, but special, way for me to introduce the meal du jour a la Garden of Eden Vegan.

After the veggie burgers (see previous post), I still had extra Yukon Gold potatoes. And I remembered those family times with the Trudeau's in Connecticut and "my special meal."

SO..............

I made a batch of mashed potatoes and put them in a large pasta bowl.
Then I caramelized my Valdalia onions and added cabbage, a bit of water and a shake of Nama Shoyu and steamed the mixture until the cabbage was wilted.
To the mashed potatoes, I added the onion/cabbage mixture, and a can of white corn and chipolte peppers.
Then I stirred it up and mixed it up to my heart's content.

This was my lunch and my supper -- and since as usual, I had more cabbage than potato, I served the mixture on a bed of cabbage.

I bet this is darn healthy -- think of all the good that cabbage does for our bodies; and think of how yummy Yukon Gold Potatoes taste and add in the pop of a kernel of corn as you chew --- heavenly.

AND NEWS FLASH -- I returned home six days ago -- and today, I weighed in on the Toledoes and lost the three pounds I gained on the cruise.

AND

my body feels so much better back to my vegan lifestyle. The cheese was yummy -- but it just feels so much better to me to be vegan.

I even like the IDEA of it!

Wishing you happy mixtures of all of your favorite things - in life and on your plate.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rainy Days and Lentils

I must have some sort of atavistic throw back gene. The minute it starts to rain (or snow if I lived north), I have this incredible urge to put a pot on the stove and start some stew/soup/chili/chowder. Does this happen to any of you?

It is Monday morning in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida, and the first inkling I have that it will be a stormy day is an airborne chihuahua who blew in from her food dish on the porch, onto the kitchen floor. She lives for her feedings, and tromped back out to the porch, and within seconds, blew in again as if shot by a cannon.

Still foggy and pre-caffeinated, I stepped on the the porch to investigate and saw that a storm was brewing. Maddie Sue, the airborne chihuahua is storm phobic, and somewhere, miles away, there must have been some thunder.

Thinking little of it, I sat with her on the sofa as I drank my coffee and started reading to prepare for a class I am teaching in a few days. She perched on the back of the sofa behind my head. My evil twin wondered if lightening could somehow come through the glass window and fry her to a crisp -- but I doubted it, so I let her stay where she thought she was safe. Heck - who am I to doubt a Chi?

As the rain began to pour into a deluge, my thoughts turned to the stove,
and the soup pot,
and the pantry: what did I have to toss in the pot on this rainy day?

Soon, I was no longer reading, but imagining my concoction.

As my atavistic gene pool pulled me like a giant magnet into the kitchen -- this is what resulted:

RECIPE

Onions
Green lentils
Yukon gold potatoes
white corn
diced tomatoes
diced sun dried tomatoes
green chillies
and
Penzy's Mural of Flavor containing: spices, shallots, onion, garlic, lemon peel, citric acid, chives, and orange peel.
and
Penzy's Northwoods Fire containing: salt, chipotle pepper, Hungarian paprika, garlic, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, and cayenne.
and
The Fresh Marked Herbed Sea Salt Blend containing: sea salt, thyme, rosemary and basil.


Now the SECRET, in my humble opinion, to this hodge podge -- and of course, you can make your own hodge podge pot of ingredients, is how you treat the onions.

You can be careless after you get your onions going, but if you mess up this step, you have messed up -- trust me, I know.....because I have.

Start with your pan -- whether it is a saute pan or your soup kettle and toss in your chopped onion, turning on the heat medium to high.

Let the onions start to wilt. Skootch them around a bit until you notice some brown forming on your pan's surface and then add the tiniest bit of water -- voila -- it turns juicy brown and so do the onions. Skootch them some more, and again, the tiniest bit of water -- more yummy brown.
Do this a few times until your onions are nice and tender and wilted, and sweet, and brown and delicious.

NOW, and only now -- you can begin. Gather ingredients you like; toss as you wish; stir as you desire.

The ingredients I chose above actually turned out to blend well and made for a tasty stew. I stopped after the corn and liked it;
added the diced tomatoes -- and it still tasted good.
then the sun dried -- yep, still good.
but I wanted a little kick -- so for me, the green chilies were the coup de grace of this concoction.


The secret of the onions is like starting with a good roux -- it just has to be or everything fails and pales after that.

It reminds me of a story when I was first a rabbi and my adult son came to synagogue this particular week. As a young boy, he always had trouble remembering to say "thank you" at appropriate times, so we had this signal: whenever I pulled my earlobe, he would say "thank you." It worked well through the years.

For some reason, during my sermon, I was alluding to gratitude and with absolutely no warning to him, I said, "Son, of all the things I taught you as a young boy, what was the most important?"

(As a former trial lawyer I should have remembered the penultimate rule: Never ask a question when you are unsure of how it will be answered.)

There was an awkward silence.

And then Jack said, "How to make a good roux????"

Yes, that was true too.
After the service -- he said, "If you ever want me to be your shill again -- give me warning first!"

amen to that
amen to rainy days
amen to a pot of soup on the stove
may your day be blessed with good food and good health

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Petite Dejeuner in Honfleur



Still Vegetarian, but savored the flavor of a croissant with my espresso!

Vacationing Vegan

As you know, I just returned from three weeks of a transatlantic crossing to Europe with stops in the Azores, Portugal, Spain, France, Brugge and London. Here are some thoughts I wanted to share with you.

I began my Garden of Eden Vegan experience in January of this year. For the first six weeks, I was enjoying my veganhood.

For the next six weeks, I was living my veganhood -- it was easy and it felt good to not kill animals for my survival and to not eat chemicals and toxins. I became healthier.

From then on, I was and am LOVING my veganhood.

(Bear with me -- I am getting to why it was easy to be vegan on vacation.)

I am LOVING it because:

I feel better
I am healthier
I have more energy
I no longer have IBS, which I suffered with all my life
I feel closer to the Source of All Being by living consciously on this planet
and....
my tastebuds have changed sufficiently that it just tastes better vegan!

That being said, it was easy to be vegan on the cruise ship. Every night the menu in the dining room had a Vegetarian entree. If it had cheese in it, I would just ask the waiter to have the chef make a plate of grilled or steamed veggies and I was never disappointed.

The buffet line offered lots of opportunities to be vegan:

bowls of veggies,
rice (often Indian style),
a wok station where you could choose your stirfry ingredients,
a pizza station where I could have a pizza with no cheese,
a pasta station where I could choose my ingredients -- often mushrooms, onion, and broccoli.

Many of the passengers were fussing about the food on the ship -- I was lucky: it is hard to mess up a vegetable!

When we got to Portugal and Spain, we visited tapas bars. Again - easy to be vegan: olives and roasted vegetables were common. In my Garden of Eden Vegan lifestyle, I try not to have any/much oil, so I had to bend the "rule" with tapas, but the food was still healthy and clean.

In France (Honfleur) -- I am making a confession: I did have a croissant (made with butter of course) and a baguette on which I decided to indulge in using one pat of French beurre - and was it good? YES. But for me, let it be France. If I move to France, I will have a problem. In SW Florida -- I can live without the petite dejeuner.

In Brugge -- see the blogpost below -- I encountered a homemade veggie burger to live for.

In London, where we had two days, I admit to a challenge. We were on the run and had 5 meals:
1. vegan Indian (awesome!)
2. vegan Chinese (not bad -- should have ordered it spicer)
3, 4, 5: mozzarella and tomato and basil panani sandwiches at a healthy, natural fast food place: pret a manger.

You see, in 3, 4, and 5, it was easy, and yummy, to be vegetarian, but not vegan. And, and, and:
although my mouth did honestly enjoy the cheese - my body did not.

It is great to be back in my own kitchen making my own healthy vegan meals.

Moral of the story -- I had my cruising plan down pat and it worked; I needed a more thought out vegan plan for visiting cities on the run. If I were meandering through cities -- it would be easier to ask a chef to make a vegetable dish, but when on the go -- I needed a better plan.

Did I gain or lose weight?
Who won the coveted CONTEST PRIZE?

I honestly gained 3 pounds. How? you might and should ask: enjoying the wines and martinis.
Back home, I have wine only at Shabbat dinner (Friday night).

And DRUMROLL>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Jan Small, see www.JanSmallPaints.com is the winner of the contest and has selected the Grand Prize of a Raw/Live Meal prepared in her home by none other than moi. Details to follow when I present the meal.

It's all good. It's all healthy. It's all delicious. Enjoy and be blessed.

Recipe below. The awesome, yet healthy veggie burger from Brugge direct to you!

Direct from Brugge (Belgium) -- The Awesome, But Healthy VEGGIE BURGER


And just in time! A friend who got me started on commercial veggie burgers just sent me this link this very morning:






about veggie burgers containing junk chemicals. And this was the day I was going to post the news of the awesome veggie burger from Brugge.

First -- here is a photo from Brugge just to set the scene of this medieval village. Now picture a day just walking and sightseeing, taking a canal trip and savoring all the beauty of this town. And just when we decided to sit down at a local cafe for lunch, we realized that we had dallied too long and we were short of time.

We went into a tiny fast food type restaurant, where you ordered at the counter - lots of burgers and fries. As I looked at the menu with chagrin, the counter chef person asked if there was a problem. I said, "I'm a vegan and I was just looking for something to eat."

She said, "Oh, try our veggie burger." Since a line was behind me, and we were short of time, I gave her the thumbs up and sat to wait for what I figured was the "traditional veggie burger" tasting like ground mushrooms or sawdust.

You can imagine my surprise when she brought out a homemade veggie burger made with yummy veggies in a mashed potato base, on a grain bun with a sauce and lettuce. I was moaning with delight as I savored the flavors (almost to my embarrassment -- someone could have shouted, "I'll have what she's having!" if I kept it up.)

The recipe is simple -- I made up a batch yesterday (photo above) and froze the rest for later:

I made a bowl of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes -- skins and all, using a little vegetable broth to smooth them a bit.

In a large saute pan, I added some of my favorites:

vidalia onion, chopped
green cabbage, chopped
red cabbage, chopped
matchstick carrots and broccoli

and sauteed this mixture until slightly wilted in vegetable broth
then I added:
corn
peas
and
sun dried tomato bits

All I did was add a good portion of the veggies to my potato mash (I made more veggies than I needed, but can use them later as a meal in and of themselves).

I formed potato pancakes and breaded them in panko breadcrumbs (not necessary, but a nice touch) and cooked them in my frying pan with just a spritz of olive oil.

Photo above --- the taste is great. Add the veggies you love. I ate mine without a bun, but that option is available.

And the bonus: No chemicals. No additives. You control the mixture and you enjoy the taste.

Make up a batch and thaw them when you need them. I had one without the crumbs from breakfast today with a spritz of nouveau catsup.

The Story Behind the Garden of Eden Vegan Blog

For those of you who knew me prior to December 30, 2009, I was a veteran of the fast food culinary institute. My son, when he lived with me would ask if I had ordered the "Shabbat pizza" yet as the sun was setting Friday nights.



My idea of a good meal was a McFish sandwich, fries with extra salt, and a medium diet coke.



Everything was better covered in a rich creamy sauce and the idea of a naked baked potato was as foreign to me as walking naked in Manhattan.



In June of 2009 I decided to formally become a vegetarian. Although I had dabbled with this, it was not until I read Skinny Bitch that the gauntlet was thrown.



Now being a vegetarian does not sign you up for good health. I was proof of that. Chubby when I started, I indulged in pizza, french fries, cheese, cheese, butter, cheese, pizza......and became very over weight, tipping the Toledos at 200 pounds at 5'4". And taking an assortment of meds for cholesterol and GERD and who knows what else.



As the decade was waning, and with my 60th birthday approaching in the year 2010, there was a perfect storm that snapped my beak and got me in gear. The same friend who gave me Skinny Bitch, turned me on to the John McDougall website. At the same time, there was a Grand Round lecture at the hospital where I work on the book Eat to Live, and at the same time, I was tired of how I looked and felt and needed to make a change.



I regret that I did not start this blog when I changed my lifestyle, but it is better late than never.



My weight is down about 35 pounds, my size has gone from a tight 16 to a loose 12. And I am on no meds, although my vegetarian doctor and I will review my blood work within this month to see if I need anything (like b12) boosted.



I began as a Vegan Minus. Or what I call a Garden of Eden Vegan.



As you know, a Vegan eats no animals nor animal products - none. But then I subtracted oil, sugar, and processed foods.

That is a big subtraction -- but it is this subtraction that helped with weight loss, lack of cravings, increased energy, health, and vibrancy.



Now I am dabbling in raw foods and have signed up to learn with Russell James (google him).



I like the taste and health aspect of raw foods, but worry about the increased calories. So I will (hopefully) use the raw creations as a supplement to my Gan (Hebrew for Garden -- I am in a Hebrew mood today) Eden Vegan lifestyle.



My doctor said that I should write a book about this since most of her patients need it. I said, "Who, or how many, would want to do this?" We shall see. It has been easy (no cravings) and exciting as life and energy unfold before me, just as it was meant to be. (It didn't unfold over a fried fish sandwich, extra tarter sauce.)



Join me or not. Walk with me the whole journey, day trips, part of it, or not. This is my 60th year -- buckle up life, here I come.