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!!


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:


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:

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:


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
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.)
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,
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.

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

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.