Wednesday, June 29, 2011


small print disclosure:  Jack Trudeau is my son, a graduate of LeCordon Bleu's Orlando Culinary Institute, and a confirmed carnivore/omnivore.  He will be starting a new gig at Lyon Hall in VA in July - wishing him lots of luck.  Thanks, Jack!  

Ever since childhood, it was my mother that taught me the value of trying new things and keeping an open mind. Of course these are great life lessons, but I am specifically speaking about food for the time being . Somewhere in my development I picked up a strong dose of skepticism. Reconciling skepticism and open-mindedness has become a complex problem in my life, but I guess I live a life of dualities.

When my mother told me that I was going to a vegan restaurant to write a review, of course my skepticism burst forth in my defense: "Nope! I'm not doing that!" After a brief struggle, and the realization that I had no say in the matter, my skepticism diminished and I left the experience to be determined by the fates.

It was a Tuesday, around lunchtime that I finally dragged myself to the Everlasting Life Cafe in D.C.. I decided to go with my roommate, Ryan, who used to be a vegan but still lives a vegetarian lifestyle because of the siren's song of eggs and cheese. 

We drove into a seedy neighborhood to find a dark orange building with a banner proclaiming the openness and veganness of a restaurant that used to be a co-op in a past life. My skepticism started to kick at this point, because the exterior, well, looked a little run-down. I ignored the urge to turn tail, and went inside.

I'm glad I did.

On entering, we found the place to be clean and organized. There were around 10-12 tables, a bar, and a few couches. It was empty except for two other people, but as we were there, maybe every five minutes, someone came for take-out. 

Our second impression was markedly better than our first, and it only got better from there.  Leonard, the cashier came out from around the counter, introduced himself, and gave us a tour. He took us into the kitchen and showed us a delicious array of prepared foods. Each day they have a special on the hot bar. 

Today's was shepherd's pie with kale greens and macaroni and cheese as side dishes, or eggplant parmesan. They also had a fully stocked cold bar with salads of every kind. They also had a sandwich station, which we regrettably missed.

When we finally ordered, the counter staff was more than helpful in giving us samples and answering any questions. I tried a mock chicken salad, and you know what? it tasted like chicken (cliche, I know, but the flavor was spot on). We decided on three cold items: the macaroni salad, the string bean salad, and the corn and black bean salad. We also had to try the shepherd's pie with macaroni and cheese and kale greens. They put everything into to-go boxes and we went to pay. Ryan then decided to get a cashew nog from the juice bar.

We ended up with a lot of food for around $30 dollars. For DC, the prices are great.

Now for the good stuff. The shepherd's pie was a little pepper heavy, but the TVP had a texture reminiscent of the beefy goodness that I so dearly love. The macaroni and cheese was delicious, but calling it "cheese" was a travesty. They used nutritional yeast to impart a cheesy flavor to mock cheese. Creative ingredient use, but I am not a fan of mock cheese. The kale greens were also delicious. They used a touch of liquid smoke to give them a meaty flavor, and it outsmarted my taste buds.

On the cold bar side, we had one raw and two cooked items. The string bean salad was lightly tossed with oil and plum vinegar. It was super tasty for not being cooked. The black bean and corn salad was more like a salsa to me. It was delicious and a little spicy, but I could have used some tortilla chips. The macaroni salad was my favorite. It reminded me of being back in Florida. Publix, the supermarket, did an awesome macaroni salad, and this tasted just like it. The only difference is that this one had TVP in it, well that and vegan mayonnaise. I never thought I would enjoy vegan mayo, but I was surprised.

Overall, my impressions were great. I have never had better customer service at a restaurant in DC. The quality, creativity, and diversity of the food made this an excellent experience. I will definitely go back if I am ever in the area.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Smoky Avocado and Cumin Dressing from Choosing Raw

Above is the link to this recipe --Gena's Choosing Raw blog has incredible recipes daily; its a great blog to subscribe to and this recipe was a keeper just as it is.  (okay, with one minor exception -- next time I will cut back the water just a little to make it creamier.)

And as she suggested, I mixed it with coleslaw and to make it a Quickie -- I purchased a bag of slaw with both red and green cabbage and carrot mixed it.  Total time - less than 15 minutes from start to table.  No excuses.

I had some left over slaw (after I prepared my delivery to my clients) so I mixed some quinoa in it for a taste test.  No, I didn't shout "Hallelujah" and dance naked in my kitchen, nor was I even tempted, but I do think there is serious potential with this dressing and quinoa and something else??????? I'm open for suggestions.

Soup in the Raw - Fiery Lava Soup

I get my inspiration for my creations by playing with ingredients - reading recipes and then just playing.  But sometimes I will follow a recipe precisely (rare, but true) and with this soup I did and it was such a mouth orgasm that I would not change a thing, except to double the amount.

This recipe is from Juliano in his awesome and one of my absolute favorite books, RAW, The UNcook Book.

Fiery Lava Soup - serves 2

For Soup:
1 1/2 cups fresh carrot juice (I could have made it in my juicer but I bought it at the store so this was easy peazy.)
1 T mint leaves
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup avocado (this turned out to be 1/2 avocado)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 T Nama Shoyu (or 1 1/2 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt
1 T basil leaves

Blend ingredients for 30 to 45 seconds, until creamy.  Divide soup into serving bowls and garnish with:

avocado, mint, bell peppers and scallions.

Or, just drink it from the blender and then shout "Hallelujah" and dance around your kitchen naked.  Okay, okay, I have allowed myself to get carried away.  But this simple recipe is a keeper!!

Cooking is a Lot Like Sex!

Maybe that's why I like to cook.  But truly, I do find cooking very similar to sex and since inquiring minds what to know how this could be, I will enlighten those minds.

As I begin to create, I search recipes, play with ingredients, imagine tastes and colors blending.  This is like the fantasy part of sex -- the playful mind aspect of getting ready.

Next, once I have committed to the act, so to speak, I gather my ingredients, peel, chop, measure -- all of my ingredients are ready, lined up in bowls and good to go -- this is a delightful foreplay.

The ACT:  the blending of ingredients - slow (as in a kettle) or fast (as in the Vita Mix).

And finally - the conclusion or the taste test.  Hopefully it is orgasmic, yet honestly, sometimes it is disappointing.

I thought of this metaphor this morning as I was getting set up to prepare a Raw Soup and Salad combo (recipe above: Firey Lava Soup and Smoky Avocado/Cumin Slaw) -- the recipe preparations went so quick - both in less than a half hour.  I was almost let down in that I didn't expect a Quickie.  However, the taste was incredible.

I texted  by client (yes, how fun, this vegan chef actually has two clients!) with: "Fiery Lava Soup - an awesome mouth orgasm - coming your way at 4 today!"   She is a trauma surgeon - always busy, always working with drama and trauma - texted back: "I will NEED that at 4 today!"  Hopefully the anticipation for her today will be as good as the taste tonight.

Perhaps to conclude the metaphor - cleaning the kitchen afterward, when I get into the zen and mindfulness of it, is like the proverbial smoking of the cigarette.  Or not.

Shout Out to Those Who Entered the First Free Lunch Contest:

I'm feeling a little like Oprah as the contest deadline nears -- stay tuned to see what I mean!!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who Said "There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?"

The Garden of Eden Vegan is launching a Free Lunch Challenge and Contest.
To enter, you merely have to be a human who enjoys eating - you can be an omnivore, a carnivore or a herbivore.  Doesn't matter to us.  Enter the Contest and you and a guest can win a free lunch -or dinner - with.....okay, here's the gig, here's the no such thing as a free lunch strings must agree to write a short (or long) blog post about your culinary experience, with maybe a photo or two.  Not so hard - heck, we're not the New York Times here.


1.  To be eligible, you must "friend" us on our Facebook, Garden of Eden Vegan Facebook page.  If you already have, you are half way there.  If you haven't, you must find the page first, therein lies the challenge for us non-techie foodies.  Here's a hint:

2.  Once on this page - write on our wall some note to let us know that you want to be entered in this contest, your dietary label: omnivore/herbivore, and the city in which you would like to dine.

3.  Entries must be in by midnight EST, Thursday, June 30, 2011.  The random drawing (yes, I will write each of your names on a card and toss them into my secret drawing bowl and blindly choose one) will be on Friday, July 1st - and the winner will be announced that day on our Garden of Eden Facebook Page.

4.  I will contact you and we will find a Vegan or Raw restaurant in your chosen city and I will contact the restaurant and arrange to have your lunch/dinner paid up to $50.

5.  You will agree to go as soon as you can but during the month of July.  Take your camera or phone with camera and photograph your meal, and write a blog post for Garden of Eden Vegan about your culinary experience.

That's it -- easy peazy!  Not much of a string attached.  The goal is to have fun and highlight vegan restaurants and the vegan experience - especially among non-vegans.

My hope is that this will be so much fun that we will do it again, and again, and again.

Stay tune for our Carnivorous Reluctant Vegan's post -- I here Jack will be dining this weekend at The Everlasting Life Cafe in D.C. -- I have asked that he note his reaction to some faux food.  Yes, I am still prejudices against it but this is a learning experience for all of us.

Hope to see you at a Vegan restaurant near you soon --- Let's have fun and wave the green bean!!!

Our Carnivorous Reluctant Vegan

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome, Jack Trudeau - Carnivore, Omnivore, Foodie to the Garden of Eden

Can you fathom such a thing - welcoming a carnivore/omnivore to the peaceful, life sustaining, bucolic atmosphere of The Garden of Eden Vegan blog?

Why would I even consider such a thing?  No, not because I am evil.  Banish the thought.  But because I felt too cozy and comfortable, preaching to the choir, vegans loving vegans.  Why not shake it up and hire, okay, force, a carnivore to eat one vegan meal a week and share his experiences with us.

Jack is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu's Orlando Culinary Institute, a pastry chef extraordinaire, and a foodie, with a very dry sense of humor.  His first assignment, should he choose to accept it, and we hope he will, is to venture into The Everlasting Life Restaurant in Washington, D.C.

I have asked him to chose some of the following, at a minimum (he is a big eater):
a raw dish
a pure vegan dish
and a faux meat dish

As a purist, I am against the faux movement.  Why faux?  The vegan diet is so yummy.  But I ventured into the faux dairy realm recently with Earth Balance (faux butter) and Daiya cheese -- loved them both, but I am not sure I will carry on with them.  Not just the faux aspect but also the processing aspect of which I am not a fan.

Stay tuned -- you will learn more about Jack as he drags himself from vegan restaurant to vegan restaurant each week.

He is also our new technical manager and administrative assistant so maybe you will see some changes on this blog too.   Welcome, Jack -- it's not a scary world in the Garden.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

* re: garlic

In the previous salsa recipes, I put an * by garlic -- wonder why?

I have this battle with garlic.  I hate to handle it - and I often forget I have heads of garlic around until they spoil.  I purchased a tube of garlic in the garden/produce section of the supermarket (as well as tubes of cilantro, and ginger, and chili paste in the event I ever need it because I don't have fresh around -- they also have a tube of lemongrass which is nice to have on hand.)

But I didn't like the extra ingredients in the tube.  And lo and behold (rabbis and assorted clergy love to say this), Penzey's came out with a dried garlic that is wonderful to work with.  Check it out on their website -- I don't think I will ever buy a head of garlic again.  This is my new garlic source.

Vampires beware.

Dueling Salsas!

It is a hot, hot, hot day -- all the better for a hot and spicy salsa!

I have two favorite salsas in my collection - one easy and one a bit more challenging.  Friends LOVED the easy one....that is until they tasted what I call the Mega Salsa.  Now they are getting picky.

Anyhoo -- here is the easy peasy, limey squeezy quick salsa.

Into a blender container, or food processor bowl, add the following:

1 container of cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 sweet onion
1 clove of garlic*
1/3 seeded jalapeno pepper (or more depending upon your heat tolerance)
3 teaspoons of fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro - or a small handful

Give it a whirl until blended -- and voila!  What did it take: less than five minutes and probably with ingredients you have or should have on hand.

Now, my friends, here is the secret to the Mega Salsa.

Into the blender (preferably a VitaMix) or a food processor, add the following:

1 container of cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup or less of sun dried tomatoes
3 teaspoons of fresh lime juice
1/4 red bell pepper
1 large handful of cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 clove garlic*
1/2 jalapeno seeded or more depending upon your heat tolerance
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup - or just a little less of nama shoyu
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed
and if you have it: 1/4 teaspoon ground sun dried lime

Give it a whirl and within minutes you will be enjoying this Mega Salsa - and probably drinking Jose Cuervo, kissing the cowboys and shooting out the lights -- well, maybe

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oriental Summer Edamame Salad

Beautiful Summer Oriental Edamame Salad

This salad is not only beautiful, but the oriental taste makes it a delightful summer salad.

Begin with a package of frozen edamame (shelled).  Follow the cooking directions which will have you pour the edamame into boiling water for about 4 to 5 minutes.  Then drain and cool.  Place the edamame into a large bowl.


1 red pepper, seeded, and diced
1 container, or about 2 cups of bamboo shoots
1 can of drained and rinsed water chestnuts, diced

Mix and marvel at the bright freshness of this salad.

The dressing is the coup de grace.  Into a blender or food processor, add the following:

About an inch of peeled ginger
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons of white miso paste
1 tablespoon of honey or agave nectar
2 teaspoons of dry vermouth (you can use mirin if you don't have the vermouth)
1 teaspoon of nama shoyu 

As this is blending, gently pour in the following oil combo:

2/3 extra virgin olive oil with a healthy splash of dark sesame oil

Mix this dressing into the salad and get ready to enjoy!  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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.