Monthly Archives: June 2014

Banana Yam Smoothie with Carob

Banana Yam Smoothie 004I was craving something creamy for breakfast this morning, something along the lines of a pumpkin custard. Where did that come from? Well, that’s the funny thing about cravings. They just come from out of the blue. Well, I didn’t feel like defrosting pumpkin puree and I certainly wasn’t going to turn on the oven. How could I calm my craving without too much fuss? I remembered those two little yams that have been tossing around my potato basket the past few weeks. Yams are close enough to pumpkin so I gave it a whirl, literally, and made a smoothie. I started out by microwaving the yams; added banana and dates for sweetness and texture; carob, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg for flavor. The result was delightful! It is creamy and rich tasting and the only fat was from the almond milk. It serves up more like a custard, so you can enjoy it with a spoon. If you prefer to sip your smoothies, simply add some crushed ice or additional almond milk to the blender. I had to place my glass in the freezer to get it to chill faster, so I recommend cooking and refrigerating the yams ahead of time. I sprinkled a little Coconut Bacon for the photo shoot, but I might try toasted pecans next time. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Banana Yam Smoothie with Carob

1 cup almond or other non-dairy milk
1 cup cooked, peeled and cooled yam
1 frozen banana
1/4 cup pitted dates (about 4)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to taste
Crushed ice (optional)

Place all ingredients in blender and process on high until smooth. Add crushed ice or additional milk if desired.

Servings: 1 if you’re really hungry, 2 if you’re willing to share

 

20 Jun 2014

Baked Potatoes with Bacon and Sour Cream

Potatoes 001 The first thing Bruce said when he came home yesterday was, “Do I smell bacon?” Well, yes . . . and no. I was stirring a batch of Coconut Bacon in the oven, so there was an aroma of smoke and maple syrup wafting through the kitchen. When we visited Wildflower Cafe last weekend, they had coconut bacon on the menu. I didn’t get to try it since they were out of it, but that just peaked my curiosity. I did my research, found several recipes and decided to try it out. It’s quite easy to make and with a little tweaking, I think I’ll keep it in my arsenal of must-haves. All the recipes I found are a variation of coconut flakes, soy sauce/tamari/liquid aminos, liquid smoke, maple syrup. You can alter the recipe to suit your own taste, whether it be smokier, sweeter or saltier. You can even try using different types of liquid smoke. Try it with avocado and tomato on whole grain bread, atop a tofu scramble or team it up with Cashew Sour Cream on a baked potato. Cashew Sour Cream is simply cashew cream with lemon juice and cider vinegar. It’s that easy. Since fresh greens, cucumbers, tomatoes and spring onions are making an appearance at local farm stands, this is the perfect time for making salads. If you make the Coconut Bacon and Cashew Sour Cream in advance, all you have to do is bake or microwave a few potatoes, toss and dress the salad and enjoy! You’ll be out of the kitchen in no time! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Coconut Bacon

3 cups flaked coconut
2 tablespoons liquid smoke (liquid aminos or tamari for gluten-free)
1 tablespoon liquid soy sauce
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine liquid smoke, soy sauce, maple syrup, brown sugar, water and paprika in a large mixing bowl. Add flaked coconut, using a wooden spoon to gently toss the coconut in the liquid mixture. Place onto a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, using a spatula to flip about every 5 minutes so it cooks evenly. Coconut bacon can be stored in a sealed bag or container for up to a week; may be refrigerated.

Cashew Sour Cream

1 cup cashew cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together, cover and let sit out a few hours to get “sour”. Store in refrigerator.

Potatoes 003

 

18 Jun 2014

Killer Grilled Vegetable Kabobs with Cashew-Caper Aioli

Veg Kabobs and Farro Salad 005Like a lot of men, my Dad loved to barbeque. In keeping with Father’s Day tradition, it seems fitting to do some grilling today. I cleaned out the fridge to make some vegetable kabobs and here’s what I found: onions, zucchini, peppers and mushrooms. Grilled vegetables can be pretty boring, so I drizzled them with a caper-cashew dressing and served them over farro. What’s nice about vegetable kabobs is that you can use whatever vegetables are in season or in your garden. You can still preserve your Father’s Day tradition while starting a healthy tradition of your own. These are so easy and tasty why wait for a special occasion? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs with Cashew-Caper Aioli

Cashew Caper Aioli

1/2 cup cashew cream
2 tablespoons capers
2 cloves of garlic pressed
1 teaspoon vinegar from capers

Place all ingredients in mini chop and process until smooth. Pour into squeezable condiment jar.

Grilled Vegetables

Yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges then in half crosswise
Zucchini, cut into 1” slices
Cremini mushrooms
Bell peppers, cut into 1” pieces

Soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Thread vegetables on skewers. I did two pieces of peppers, 1 whole mushroom, 1 slice of zucchini, 1 chunk of onion; repeat to fill up skewer. Preheat barbeque grill on medium high heat. Grill kababos until lightly browned on all sides.

Drizzle with Cashew Caper Aioli and serve over farro or your grain of choice.

15 Jun 2014

Happy Father’s Day: Another Reason to Be Vegi-curious

Mom Dad RoseHappy Father’s Day, Dad! You might think I’m nuts, but I still wish my Dad a Happy Father’s Day even though he passed away after a battle with bladder cancer two years ago. He was 86 years old at the time, but he wasn’t going down without a fight. During his illness, we found out that a drug called Actos that he had taken for diabetes was linked to bladder cancer. He had his bladder removed. Just think about that for a minute; really, really think about that. Imagine living life without a vital organ like your bladder. I never thought about it until then. I will spare you the details, but I will tell you it was not good. We felt betrayed . . . by the doctors, the drug company and the FDA. How could something that was supposed to help Dad actually cause him so much suffering?

It was only a few months after Dad’s passing that we learned about the research behind the China Study and I started to realize that degenerative diseases like diabetes (and cancer, and heart disease, and arthritis) could be prevented and even reversed by eating a plant-based diet. To dispel any doubts you may have, you should know that there are over 700 peer-review journals to support the findings of the China Study. I started connecting the dots. If Dad didn’t have diabetes . . . he wouldn’t have taken Actos . . . he wouldn’t have gotten bladder cancer . . . he wouldn’t have suffered those last years of his life. Maybe; maybe not; but I’m putting my money on the plant-based diet. I’m not as tough as Dad was, so I don’t want this to happen to me. I know the toll it took on Mom as she cared for him the last months of his life, so I don’t want to put Bruce through that either. This experience was part of the motivation for me to switch to a plant-based diet and a big part of the inspiration for my blog. There’s a “new adage” that goes “Live Long, Die Short”. Perhaps Dad could have lived a few more years, but maybe he was only supposed to live to be 86 years old; no one lives forever. But maybe his last few years could have been free of pain and suffering. Our last years may be a little slower, but why shouldn’t they be healthy and joyful? That is my wish for you.

So, I titled today’s post “Reasons to Be Vegi-curious.” I am Vegi-curious in memory of my Dad, the Best.Dad. Ever. (always wanted to write that) and in honor of the other men in my life who are fathers, who will be fathers or who just give me fatherly advice. I may run the risk of becoming the annoying sister, aunt or friend who’s always forwarding another article, success story or video I come across. But in the hope that I may influence just one of you, it’s a risk worth taking. I wish I could have done that for Dad. I will leave you with one more thought: “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.” If you think about that long enough, maybe you will start to believe it. Happy Father’s Day and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

P.S. Stop by this afternoon for my Father’s Day BBQ post.

P.S.S. If you’re in Delaware, stop by and join us for lunch.

15 Jun 2014

Hidden Treasures

Wheaton Village 002

Falafel Wrap at Wildflower

One of the biggest challenges that we’ve faced since adopting a plant-based diet is finding a good restaurant, especially when we’re away from home.  I wanted to do something different for Father’s Day weekend. With a beautiful weather forecast, a road trip seemed like a good idea. We decided we would take a drive into southern New Jersey to visit Wheaton Arts, a glass-making museum in Milville, New Jersey. I thought for sure that there wouldn’t be any place to find vegan food, so I started thinking about what goodies I could pack in the cooler. A little sandwich, some pickled beets and figs and a few brownies. And then I decided to spin the wheel of fortune and googled “vegan restaurants milville nj”. To my delight, up came Wildflower Earthly Vegan Cafe. Nestled among several artist’s studios and minutes away from the Museum, this would be a good stop to fuel up for the afternoon. The menu looked simple, tasty and healthy. We both ordered the Falafel Wrap that was made with baked chickpea patties, fresh greens and a tahini sauce. It’s been my experience that while vegan restaurants may have healthier choices, their menus are not necessarily low-fat. Not only were we happy to find this vegan restaurant, but even happier that the falafel wasn’t fried. Luckily we saved room for dessert and ordered a vanilla cupcake and a chocolate parfait. I don’t think the desserts were low-fat, but this is one of those occasions when we do make an exception. What I learned today is that with a little adaptation you can still do the things you enjoy and don’t give up hope because sometimes when you least expect it you may find a hidden treasure. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Wheaton Village 008

Wildflower Vanilla Cupcake

Wheaton Village 010

Wildflower Chocolate Parfait

Wheaton Village 020

Wheaton Glass

14 Jun 2014

Sundried Tomato and Black Bean Burger

Bean Burger 009Bean Burger 001Are you ready for BBQ season? When I first gave up eating beef, barbeques were a little awkward for me. I didn’t know if I felt left out or it I stuck out because everyone else was eating hamburgers while I was grazing on salad and raw veggies. I have a game plan for this summer because now I can take along a tasty bean burger that’s not so conspicuous.  I know, I know . . . there are millions of veggie burger recipes out there. But since you’re here, I’ll share my take on veggie burgers. I’ve tried a few store-bought veggie burgers, but they’ve all been pretty “blah”. Many of them are made with tofu. We all know that tofu does not take on a life of it’s own; it takes on the life of whatever other ingredients are in the recipe. Basically, it’s a flavor and oil “sponge”. Unfortunately, most veggie-burger vegetables don’t have really strong flavors, so the tofu relies on additives like soy sauce or Tamari. These burgers contain a lot of sodium. (As a side note, I recently discovered that about 45% of the calories in tofu come from fat. I’ll be a little more selective when it comes to tofu recipes in the future.) Be careful that you read the label as some veggie burgers contain egg whites. I’ve had some okay restaurant veggie/bean burgers, but these are typically grilled with a lot of oil. And it seems that many bean burgers seem to lean towards Mexican seasonings that include cumin, bell and jalapeno peppers, corn and cilantro. We eat at Chipotles on a regular basis, so the last thing I’m after is a Tex-Mex inspired burger.  This recipe for Sundried Tomato and Black Bean Burgers is pretty straightforward. The burger looks like a hamburger, does not fall apart when flipped and does not slide out from under the bun and other toppings. Not a lot of funky flavors, no seeds or nuts, no brightly colored veggies drawing attention to what’s on your bun. You can top your burger with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions, sauteed mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, etc. I served the burgers with a salad of micro-greens, radishes, carrots and fennel and olives. I discovered a trick to including other vegetables with micro-greens. Since micro-greens are so light and “fluffy”, heavy ingredients like tomatoes and cucumbers tend to gravitate toward the bottom of the salad bowl. I grated the radishes, carrots and fennel on a box grater so they would mingle nicely with the micro-greens. So, get ready for summer and BBQ season. Make a few batches of these burgers, place in the freezer and you’re ready at a moment’s notice for some fun in the sun. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Sundried Tomato Bean Burgers

 1 Tbsp. ground flax
½ tsp. Better Than Bouillion No Beef Base dissolved in 6 Tbsp. water
1 can black beans
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, diced
1 cup sundried tomatoes, minced in mini chop
¾ cup oatmeal, ground into flour
½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 tsp oregano
¼ cup parsley

Mix ground flax with 1 tablespoon of broth. In large bowl, mash beans. Mix remaining broth into beans. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Form into six patties.

Place grill pan on grates of barbeque grill. Preheat grill on medium heat. Lightly coat pan with non-stick spray. Grill burgers for 5 minutes, flip and grill another 5 mintues.

To bake in oven, line baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through and slightly browned, flipping once.

 

09 Jun 2014

Say “Teese”

 

Gouda 002Gouda 003The title of today’s post is appropriately named as I got a new camera as an early birthday present from Bruce yesterday (yea!)  and, I’m writing about cheese. I know I’ve made some version of this declaration before and I will undoubtedly make it again, so here goes. There are no plant-based substitutes for cheese that will give you the same flavor and texture of real cheese. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we can liberate ourselves. What this means for me is that I am taking a different approach by not looking at plant-based cheeses as a substitute, but rather as a new food experience. I will call this new food “teese”.

I find that most of my meals need to be eaten with a spoon or fork — rice, beans, soups, stews, salads, etc. This can make them problematic and messy in certain settings. There are times when I would like to make myself a sandwich to bring to work, to the beach or on a bike ride. I often find myself thinking, “Gee, a neat little cheese sandwich would be nice.” So my quest has not been to find a plant-based substitute for cheese, but simply to find a plant-based solution that will sit neatly between two slices of bread.

I stumbled upon this raw food website a few months ago. Following a raw food diet looks like it requires more discipline and more work than a vegan or plant-based diet. I don’t see myself adopting this kind of diet, but I do see myself infusing a little bit of “raw” into my lifestyle. Some of the recipes that are developed by raw food chefs look beautiful and delicious.

Earlier in the week I made Amie Sue’s Smoked Gouda recipe. It was easy to make and quite tasty. Bruce said it reminded him of liverwurst. I wasn’t so sure about that . . . yet. I layered a few slices on toasted Whole Food’s Seeduction bread and topped it off with tomato, lettuce and Dijon mustard for lunch one day. After a day of shopping yesterday, we came home too tired and hungry to wait for dinner. I made a huge salad, but thought it would be nice to have something else with it. That’s when I remembered the Gouda. I made a canape with pumpernickel bread, Gouda and dark mustard. Then a funny thing happened; the Gouda reminded me of bologna. Yes, bologna . . .  same texture, similar smoky flavor. I might add a little more liquid smoke and garlic powder to the recipe next time. I achieved what I set out to create — a neat little sandwich with a lot of flavor. You may think my quest is over, but it’s just beginning. I see many other “teese” recipes in my future. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

08 Jun 2014

Banana Split Smoothie

Smoothie 003Our nephew Jeff from Z-Fanatical Fitness requested some simple and healthy recipes. It doesn’t get much easier or better than this Banana Split Smoothie.

You’ve probably heard this diet tip before: Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Good advice. I’ve done it many times in the past only to suffer from a case of buyer’s (or should I say dieter’s?) remorse. I’m heading out to a few local farm stands, so I whipped up a simple smoothie to fuel my adventure. I chose fresh bananas and frozen strawberries for the fruit since that’s what I had on hand. You might try using all frozen fruit for a thicker smoothie. I added a tablespoon of raspberry preserves to sweeten it up.  The recipe will make one very tall smoothie, but since Bruce is coming along for the ride, I poured two smaller yet still yummy servings. The only thing missing from my Banana Split is some chocolate syrup and a cherry on top, but I’ll save that for when I have more time to play. Gotta run! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

 

Banana Split Smoothie
1 cup almond or other non-dairy milk
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 banana
1 Tbsp. preserves

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Servings: 1 if you’re sipping solo; 2 if you’re kind enough to share

01 Jun 2014

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