Thursday, April 29, 2010

When to Buy Organic

Buying organic is expensive. However, in a world full of chemicals and pesticides it is necessary in some cases to reduce the amount of toxins you consume. Watch Dr. Andrew Weil's explanation. To minimize organic food costs while minimizing your exposure to chemicals/pesticides buy the organic version of foods in the "Dirty Dozen" i.e. the foods with the most pesticides (even after washing and peeling some of them).... Food to buy organic: Celery, Peach, Strawberries, Apple, Blueberries, Nectarines, Bell Peppers, Spinach, Kale, Cherries, Potatoes and Grapes (Imported). Download a list here.

Your skin is your largest organ, I recommend taking care of it. I only use organic body products now. I don't like the idea of the chemical ingredients listed on the average body lotion seeping into my pores etc. All the extra artificial sweeteners and scents are not necessary, Mother Nature has us covered.

My natural body care:
Hair/Face oil -> Jojoba Oil, The Jojoba Company
Toothpaste -> Tom's of Maine, Whole Care Toothpaste Gel
Deodorant -> Tom's of Maine Natural Original Care Deodorant Stick, Tom's of Maine
Body Wash -> 365 Everyday Shower Gel
Face Wash -> Sea Buckthorn & Cucumber with Ester-C® Facial Cleansing Cream, Aubrey Organics
For my dreadlocks -> Jane Carter's Natural Hold Locking Spray

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kale Chips

Made Kale Chips yesterday. They were such crunchy delicious-ness. Kale is already my favorite veggie (a semi expensive addiction since I only like the organic kind for $3 a bunch). Now I have another way to cook it :) I give the recipe from VegNews * * * * * stars.

Kale Chips (serves 4)
2 large bunches kale, washed and de-stemmed
1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoons oil
Coarse salt, to taste, or seasoning blend (some pepper if desired)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop or tear kale into chip-size pieces. In a medium bowl, combine kale, apple cider vinegar, oil, and salt or seasoning. Mix to coat.
2. Onto a baking sheet, spread kale (no overlapping pieces or it won't be crispy) and bake for 10 minutes or until crispy. Serve immediately

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I received my first copy of VegNews in the mail this weekend. After ripping out numerous pages for "cook later recipes" and jotting tons of notes of interesting information and products, I'm sold. I highly recommend the magazine. I was hesitant at first because it's more expensive than your average magazine, $20 for a year subscription (and they come every other month = 6 issues a year). I'm happy with my choice.

Today I'll be cooking their 'Kale Chips' recipe (I'll post about that later). Later this month I plan to cook the General Tao's Tofu and Fresh Manicotti recipes.

Some random things I learned from this issue include:
  • Breast milk can get a green tint if you eat a lot of seaweed
  • One vegan was able to get his shopping bill to $40 a week by only buying produce from Union Square's farmers market and buying grains in bulk and canned veggies from Whole Foods and Fresh Start Organic Market
  • A cool interactive vegan food "pyramid" in the shape of a plate, Power Plate
  • Daiya cheese is now available in retail stores (it was previously only available via restaurants etc). FYI Daiya cheese is * * * * * awesome.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

(new) Vegan Frappuccinos

I always wondered about the vegan-ness of certain Starbucks drinks..... turns out Starbucks has introduced a new vegan option :) Props to my friends who forwarded me this article:

“you can now get soymilk based vegan versions of most frappuccinos at starbucks. It isn’t being nationally announced til may 5, but most LA starbucks had to swap over to the new way of making frappuccinos because our distribution center ran out of the old base.

The old method to make them used a base that contained dairy, but the new way you basically add a thickening syrup to base of milk/ flavour syrups/ coffee depending on the drink, so as long as the drink is made with soy it’s vegan. The coffee and creme frappuccino bases are vegan, however, the light one is not— and all the other inclusions and toppings are vegan except for whip (duh) and caramel drizzle.

If you go in a store and just ask whoever working if they’ve switched to the “new” way of making frappuccino or if you can have a soy frappuccino and the answer is yes, you’re good to go.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Otarian! This vegetarian fast food chain has me bursting with excitement

Otarian!! A new veggie fast food restaurant opened by Radhika Oswal. "Almost everything in our restaurants ..... is made from recycled materials. Our Zulu chairs use an ancient southern African technique to weave recycled plastic onto recycled aluminum steel frames. Even the ceiling decoration is made from recycled aluminium, and pendant lights are made from formerly broken pieces of glass." Its corporate office is aiming to have a 98% recycling and composting rate. People are calling it the most sustainable restaurant chain in the world.

The menu is getting me OH so excited. Every item has the savings in carbon footprints listed on the menu. I'm already dreaming of my order.... perhaps the vegan chocolate cake and portobello mushroom burgers.

"Recycling, composting, sustainable building materials and no ingredients that are shipped by air are the rules here. The carbon footprints were calculated according to standards set by the World Resources Institute, an environmental organization based in Washington." NYTimes Article

"Every menu item at Otarian has a whole string of numbers after it beyond the price. The carbon content of the item, the amount saved versus a similar meat dish, and the carbon footprint of that meat dish. Planet Green Article

NY Locations:
154 Bleecker Street (open now)
New York, NY 10012
T: 212 614 6834

947 Eighth Ave (opening soon)
New York, NY 10019
T: 212 489 3270

Vegan Chili

My fiancee made a great vegan chili Saturday. It was enjoyed by 4 returned Peace Corps volunteers and one actress/play director = 1 vegan, 1 vegan/vegetarian and 3 meat eaters. And all were satisfied :)

Vegan Chili
2 white onions
2-3 organic green peppers
1 28oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
2.5 Tbsp garlic powder
2.5 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tsp ground ginger
2 Tsp ground red pepper
4 Tbsp canola oil
2 cans of black beans (rinsed with water)
2 cans of kidney beans " "
1 12oz. Package of LIGHTLIFE Smart Ground Original veggie protein crumbles

Mix the powder ingredients and salt
Chop onions and dice green peppers (set peppers aside).
Add oil to saute pan. Sautee onions and add half of the powder mix.
Add 4/5 of the veggie ground and stir in with onions.
In a stewing pot, heat 1 cup of water on medium-high heat.
Add all four cans of beans after they've been rinsed.
Bring to a boil and empty can of diced tomatoes into the pot.
Bring back to boil and add the rest of the powder mix, onions plus veggie ground.
Lastly, chop the 2 cloves of garlic and add them plus the green peppers to the pot. Continue to cook on medium/medium-low.
This recipe makes a rather thick chili. For wetter chili, add water or juice from a can of whole, peeled tomatoes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Vegan Brownies

Yup, you read correct vegan brownies. Hard to believe if you know that non-vegan brownies call for 3-4 eggs and 0.5-1 cup of butter. Who knew blended soft tofu could work so well in a dessert.

The texture is slightly off, a bit more chewy/cake like. But the taste is a * * * * (out of 5). I added some leftover vegan chocolate frosting from a previous cupcake making session just because I really love chocolate. Mmmm.

My future mother-in-law gave me this recipe.

Vegan Brownies
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz. tofu
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1.3 cups of maple syrup (I substituted 1 cup of cane sugar and 3 tablespoons of water for 1 cup of the maple syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa

Blend tofu, oil, maple syrup, vanilla and cocoa in a blender. Add mixture to dry ingredients. Mix. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350*F

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Elephant in the room

Last weekend I was informed of a new study that showed that eating fruit and vegetables may not help reduce your risk of cancer. I figured I'd wait for more details. The Economist (my favorite news source) must have heard my request. The article entitled Protection racket: Eating lots of fruit and vegetables may not help stave off cancer, after explains.

It might not be the fruit and vegetables you eat that help your cancer risk so much as the lack of meat and high fat food. Basically a vegan diet :) but no one wants to suggest that because a vegan diet tends to intimidate people and put them on the defensive.

"This means that if people who turn away from fruit and vegetables end up eating more processed meats or foods high in fat instead, they probably will increase their cancer risk, even though the direct cause is not the consumption of less fruit and vegetables. More importantly, there is still good evidence that fruit and vegetables protect against heart disease and strokes by reducing blood suggests that those who eat five servings a day of fruit and vegetables have a 30% lower incidence of heart disease and strokes than those who eat less than one and a half servings."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus

I finished reading 'Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating' by Erik Marcus this week. The book includes studies where vegan diets have helped those with cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol or just those looking to lose weight. It's a good read for those who want more scientific and environmental reasons to be vegan. The clincher for me was learning that by drinking milk one contributes to the veal industry (i.e. evil incarnate).
Favorite quote: "Some people like to tell me that the way I eat is radical. Well, I think it's radical when they take you into a hospital on a gurney and decide you need a $40,000+ operation. I think it's radical when they saw your ribs open and then take pieces of your artery from your legs and sew them onto your heart. That's radical! Eating beans, delicious vegetables and grains is not radical." ~ Robert Siegel

Notes on the book
  • Vegans have cholesterol levels 35% lower than average (vegetarians 14% lower than average)
  • Dr. Ornish's diet program for reversing heart disease shows that people who had previously had a heart attack were able to lower their cholesterol 100 points after 1 year (250 points after many years). Dr. Ornish's diet program was so efficient some people were able to stop taking their daily heart/cholesterol medications. Even WebMD has a great review for his diet and research detailed in the book "Eat More, Weigh Less"
  • The China Project, which studied the dietary lifestyle patterns and health of numerous villages/cities in China, found that Chinese who ate the least fat and animal products had substantially lower rates of cancer, heart attack and other chronic degenerative diseases.
  • Vegetarians/Vegans have less colon cancer risk. Vegetarians/Vegans have lower concentrations of carcinogenic bile acids and lower pH levels in their colons. Vegetarians/Vegans eat more fiber.
  • Diary is not the answer to osteoporosis. America has one of the highest rates of hip fractures in the world, yet we consume the most diary. Studies hint that high protein diets can actually cause calcium loss.
  • The body produces its own cholesterol. It's essential for all animal life. However, the body doesn't need the excess cholesterol we get from eating meat and diary.
  • 38% of the world grains goes to feeding livestock. It takes 4.5 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef. Vegans consume 2,500 calories of crop production, people who eat 30% of their food from meat require 9,000 calories of crop production.
  • Eating eggs contributes to the killing of millions of male chicks. Soon after chicks are born they are divided by sex. The males are not as efficient in producing meat and don't lay eggs, so they are killed. They are either suffocated in a bag, gased with carbon dioxide or grinded.
  • Consuming diary contributes to the veal industry. To keep milk yields high dairy cows are kept constantly pregnant, giving birth on average every 13 months. This produces a surplus of cows. The extra calves are sold to the veal industry.
Next on the food reading list "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Apple Pie-Crumb Cake Muffins (vegan)

Another instant favorite from 'Vegan with a Vengeance', * * * * *. These muffins are really good, the perfect mixture of spice and sweet. They moved into 1st place in my fiancee's vegan baked goods list (I still prefer cupcakes with extra sweet icing for 1st place). They make a great naughty breakfast treat or semi-healthy dessert.

Ingredients for Muffins:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup apple cider
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup grated apple (about 1 apple)
1/2 cup apple, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (about 3/4 of an apple)

For Topping: 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 allspice pinch salt 3 tbsp canola oil

Topping -> Mix all dry goods together in small bowl. Drizzle oil while crumbling with fingertips. set aside

Preheat oven to 375*F

Muffins -> In large bowl, sift together/process flour, sugar, b-soda, b-powder, spices, salt. create a well and add cider, oil, and vanilla. Mix. Fold in both apple types.

Fill each muffin cup 2/3 fill. Sprinkle crumb top over each muffin. Bake approx. 22 minutes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Raw Vegan Food = so good it's confusing

This weekend I finally tried out 'Raw Soul', a raw vegan restaurant within walking distance from my apartment. They have difficult hours (4-9 pm Tu-F, 11-9 Sat, closed Su and Mo) so I kept missing them. Plus, I was a little weary about trying raw food. Raw food means nothing is cooked at higher than 115*F so the food doesn't lose it nutritional value. I went with my meat-eating maid of honor to discuss more wedding details.

I got the Barbeque Burger. I give it * * * * * (out of 5). The texture was like an uncooked bean burger, ie gummy/play-dough like, but the flavor was intensely good. I will definitely eat there again. Although for $12 for a burger, it won't be too often. The raw vegan burger is made from walnuts, carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, fresh cilantro, red bell pepper, topped with homemade barbeque sauce, onion, tomato and sprouts, served on flax seed bread.

My meat-eating friend got the Pilaf special. I give it * * * * stars. It was spicy goodness.

For dessert I got the raw vegan cheesecake to go (I wanted my fiancee to try it with me). It was so good I was confused and shocked..... No cheese, no eggs and not cooked? How could it taste so good. Both my fiancee and I give it * * * * * stars plus a bonus star.

348 145th Street
(between St. Nicholas and Edgecombe Ave)
NYC 10039

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tofu, Eggplant and Hummus sandwich

After shopping with one of my bridesmaids to help her find a red/orange/yellow dress for my July wedding we were in need of fuel. She had a great idea to fry some eggplant in olive oil and make a sandwich. My fiancee had some pan fried seasoned tofu and bread. We added Hummus spiced with red pepper. Tada delicious sandwich.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Curry Carrots

If you're in the mood for some spicy veggies try this recipe out......

6-10 grated carrots, 1 big white onion, 3 green chiles, 1 whole head of garlic, 1/4 brown coconut meat, 1 tsp mustard seeds, handful of curry leaves (cut), handful of coriander, salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Blend into paste: coconut, chile, and garlic
  • Heat oil and saute mustard seeds, curry leaves and then onion
  • Add paste, salt and turmeric and coriander
  • Add carrots and leave on low heat for 10-15 minutes