Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Adopting a Vegan Life Style

Dr. Will Tuttle, author of  The World Peace Diet, in his article entitled ""What Then Should We Eat?" had this to say about veganism: 

"VEGANISM – STRIVING TO minimise our violence towards animals – is indeed an idea whose time has come. Veganism reflects our true nature. Veganism is simply seeing all living beings as sentient beings to be respected rather than seeing them as commodities to be used and consumed. The motivation underlying veganism is compassion.  As each of us awakens to the power of this idea, we will reduce animal cruelty and suffering as well as our abuse of the Earth. Our personal, social and spiritual health are all connected."

The challenge for those of us who might be new to the vegan life style is in changing the way we cook, and shop for food.  Robin Robertson's book Vegan On The Cheap offers a wealth of information on saving money, when preparing foods that are healthy, fresh and delicious.

For even more information and recipes on vegan cooking check out the following titles:

1000 Vegan Recipes
Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food
Supermarket Vegan

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

No time for breakfast!

If you are one of those people who just can't seem to find time for breakfast before heading off to work; here's an idea for making sure that you never have to miss breakfast again.  The following is a list of ingredients that you can keep in your desk at work.

You will need:
Quaker Instant Oatmeal - the box contains three flavors
    (maple brown sugar, cinnamon and spice, apples and cinnamon). 
Raisins and/or dried cranberries
Walnuts, almonds, or pecans
Fresh apples

Microwavable Bowl
Paring knife

Empty one package of oatmeal into a bowl and generously cover the dry ingredients with water.  Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes.  While the oatmeal is cooking wash the apple and cut into bite size chunks.  Once the oatmeal is cooked, add the apples, a generous helping of dried fruit and nuts.  If you like a creamier oatmeal you can also add milk of your choosing - whole milk, soy or almond.  My personal favorite is almond milk.  I find the taste to be much fresher, and it still has the creaminess of whole milk. 
Stir the warm oatmeal blending it thoroughly with the other ingredients.  Enjoy! 

You will have a healthy breakfast that you can eat at your desk.  By giving your body a nutritious breakfast you might find that you are less likely to snack on junk food throughout the day.  If, however, you still feel like snacking you can munch on the apples, nuts, and raisins in your desk. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Loving Hut - Fabulous vegan food

I am always looking for vegetarian and vegan recipes to prepare at home for myself and daughter.  As much as I enjoy cooking, sometimes I like to eat out also.  When I do eat out I don't want to sacrifice quality and freshness.  Recently I've discovered the most wonderful vegan restaurant.  The Loving Hut serves food that is wholesome, fresh, and very delicious.  The following quote was taken directly from their website.

"Loving Hut is created with a vision that all beings can live in peace, love and harmony with each other and the planet. Loving Hut chain restaurants are newly opening around the world. It is an invitation to gourmet cuisine made with wholesome, vegan ingredients, and it offers an accessible starting point for those making the noble transition to a plant-based diet."

The food at Loving Hut is made even more delicious by the beautiful people who work there.  I've never encountered a more loving, generous group of people working in a restaurant setting.  The food is always fresh and delicious, and that nourishes the body.  As if  that were not enough I leave the Loving Hut feeling spiritually nourished by the warmth and love of the staff.  They seem to really understand the value of the mind-body connection.  If you really want to feed people you have to give them more than food. 

As a parent I am concerned about good nutrition for myself and my daughter.  I am also concerned about the quality of life for all sentient beings.  For that reason I have made a conscious choice to abstain from eating meat.  I have been a vegetarian for the past three years.  The vegan food at Loving Hut really appeals to my taste buds and to my conscience.  As yet I have not embraced entirely the vegan diet, but I am certainly consuming fewer and fewer animal products.  Cheese and yogurt are slowly being replaced by the newer plant based alternatives.  Thanks to The Loving Hut it's becoming easier to make the choice.  They have introduced me to wonderful vegan dishes that I might not have encountered had I not tried them there.  The variety of food choices on their menu helps to expand my consciousness to the possibilities that are available.

My favorite dish is the grilled vegetable panini.  It's a sandwich made with sauteed vegetables, vegan cheese, organic mustard and veganaise.  For those who may not know veganaise is a mayonaise like product made without eggs.  The sandwich is served with organic corn chips.  It is very hearty and so delicious!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings

This recipe is from the May issue of Food Network Magazine. 

I prepared this dish for dinner on a week night.  It was relatively quick and simple to make.  Served with pasta and fresh grated parmesan cheese it was delicious. 



Bring a large, wide pot of salted water to a simmer. Put the spinach in a large bowl and separate it with your hands. Add the ricotta, 3/4 cup parmesan, the flour, eggs, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the nutmeg. Mix with a fork to form a slightly sticky dough.
Spread some flour on a plate. Scoop out heaping tablespoonfuls of the spinach-ricotta mixture and roll into about 24 loose balls using floured hands. Gently roll the balls in the flour.
Bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the butter.
Meanwhile, gently lower the dumplings into the simmering water and cook until they rise to the surface and are firm, about 5 minutes. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon, letting the water drain off, and add to the sauce. Gently toss to coat, then transfer to plates and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan. Serve with bread.
Per serving: Calories 503; Fat 32 g (Saturated 18 g); Cholesterol 210 mg; Sodium 1,251 mg; Carbohydrate 23 g; Fiber 4 g; Protein 27 g

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fresh Strawberries and Vegan Chocolate Mousse

This summer time dessert is very easy to make and so delicious . 

2 ripe avocados
1/2 c. agave nectar
1/4c. cocoa powder
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
fresh strawberries or raspberries
Fresh sprig of mint

With a large spoon scoop the avocado out of the skin and discard the seed.  In a blender add the avocado, agave, cocoa powder, coconut oil, vanilla and salt.  Blend until smooth. Scoop the mousse  into a pretty bowl or dessert dish and garnish with fresh fruit and or a sprig of mint.  This dessert is decadently rich and satisfying.

For the sake of presentation when serving with strawberries.  Take a large strawberry and leaving the stem on, make several slices into the berry from the tip almost to the stem.  Gently hold the berry and fan the slices without breaking them from the stem.  Place in the dessert dish on top of the mousse.  Make it pretty! 

On occasion I have used Earth Balance Buttery Spread in place of the coconut oil.  It changes the flavor slightly but makes it just as creamy and rich.  You can also add cinnamon for a slightly different taste.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Roasted Tomato and Feta Cheese Scones

This week I am visiting friends in the country.  I decided that I wanted to make something special for breakfast on Sunday morning.  This recipe came from, and was delivered to my email earlier in the week; Roasted Tomato and Feta Cheese Scones. 

These scones are delicious.  They are light and buttery.  The green onions, roasted tomatoes and feta cheese make them so savory and satisfying.  If you are having a brunch this dish would be a great addition to the menu.  I highly recommend that you try them.  They are so easy to make, and the ingredients are uncomplicated yet add so much flavor.

These scones were great served with fresh fruit and strong aromatic coffee.  They would be just as delicious with a green salad.  However you choose to serve these scones I am sure that you and your guests will find them enjoyable.

Roasted Tomato Feta Scones
 Makes 8 scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon garlic salt
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg slightly beaten
1 - 4 oz package feta cheese
½ cup roasted red tomatoes, chopped (can be found in bulk in the olive bar at your grocery store) 2 green onions, finely sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the flour, baking powder, garlic salt and butter in a food processor. Pulsate everything in 3-second intervals until the mixture resembles coarse meal. If doing this by hand, use 2 knives, a pastry blender or your fingers.

Transfer everything to a large bowl. Stir in heavy cream and egg, mixing the dough by hand until it comes together. Add feta cheese, roasted tomatoes, and green onions. Gently mix the ingredients by hand until the savory ingredients are evenly distributed. On a floured surface, form a big dough ball. Flatten the dough into a 1 inch disk and cut it in 8 equal pieces. Bake for 15 minutes on a baking stone or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Remove scones from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Click on the link below to view the recipe in its original place and to learn more about the Author/baker.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pasta and Beans???

I don't think that I've ever smelled anything fresher or more clean smelling than fresh Basil.  Who can resist a scent so earthy, yet so heavenly?  On the cover of the March issue of "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine is a picture of "Lemon-Basil Pasta." It looked so appetizing that I just had to try it.

Admittedly I was at first a bit thrown off by the combination of pasta and beans in this recipe.  But, I have to say that the combination works quite well together.  The cannellini beans add a buttery flavor that smooths out the tartness of the lemon and basil.  Great job BHG!  This is one of your recipes that I will add to my list of favorites. 

Lemon-Basil Pasta
10 oz. dried linguine or desired pasta
1 19-oz. can white kidney (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 of a lemon
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Add the beans at the last two minutes of cooking time.  (I prefer to rinse and drain can beans thoroughly to remove extra oils and other additives.)  Remove half of the cooking liquid; set aside.  Drain pasta and beans; cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, finely shred peel  from the lemon half (about 2 teaspoons).  In a small skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat.  Add lemon peel; cook and stir 1 minute, or until lightly golden.

In food processor combine cooked lemon peel, basil, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the juice from the lemon half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Cover and process until smooth.  Add reserved cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desird consistency, processing mixture after every addition.

To serve, toss hot cooked pasta mixture with lemon-basil mixture.  Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cooking with Herbs

Herbs are great for adding flavor and texture to a dish.  Buying fresh herbs is fine and usually not very expensive.  Unless, you factor in the cost of having to throw away the unused portions.  The problem is that herbs don't last very long once they've been cut from the plant.

I once lived in a Condo in the inner city.  On my small deck I created a lovely herb garden using containers.  I grew, basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, chile peppers and tomatoes.  It was wonderful to be able to step out of my kitchen door and pluck just the amount of herbs that I needed to prepare the meal.

My deck was on the south side of the building and was completely exposed to the sun.  This created a bit of a challenge to keep the plants from drying out and getting cooked before I wanted them to. But, with lots of persistence and loving attention I managed to keep them alive and healthy.

Herbs can also be grown indoors in pots.  Considerations have to be made for providing enough light.  That can be done with grow lamps if your home does not have a generous amount of windows that will allow sun to filter in. 

The following recipe is packed with flavor and very easy to make. I saw Nigella Lawson prepare it on her cooking show on the Food Network channel.  The recipe was so simple that I remembered the ingredients without writing them down and was able to replicate it.  I don't know if my version is exactly the same as Nigella's but I like it.

Linguine with Baby Bella Mushrooms

8 oz. Linguine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic minced
zest and juice of 1 lemon 
4 or 5 medium Baby Bella Mushrooms sliced
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, rough chopped
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Fill a large pasta pot with cold water.  Place pot on the stove on high heat.  Sprinkle in a generous shake of salt.  Once the water begins to boil add the linguine and let cook until done.  Pasta should be slightly chewy.  While waiting for the water to boil begin preparing the other ingredients.

In a large serving bowl, place chopped garlic, lemon zest, sliced mushrooms, thyme, parsley, and olive oil. Toss these ingredients together.  Make sure to thoroughly cover all ingredients with the olive oil.  Once the pasta is done drain the water off, reserving some of the liquid.  Add the pasta to the serving bowl and gently  toss all ingredients.  Squeeze in lemon juice and toss once more.  If necessary add a small amount of the pasta water to add moisture. Season with ground pepper and parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Making of a Vegetarian

I've been following a vegetarian diet for three years.  The decision to stop eating meat was not one that I made consciously.  There were major changes happening in my life.  The end of a relationship, and moving to a new home were very stressful events.  As a result of those stressors my body went into a spontaneous detox.  For one week I experienced a severe sore throat, fever with chills, vomiting and diarrhea.  It was another week before I could begin to eat solid foods again.  To my astonishment I had lost the desire for meat, sugar and caffeine.  The consumption of any of those foods would cause an immediate negative reaction in my body.
Since then I've noticed that my body has adjusted, some what.  I can now consume small amounts of caffeine (one or two cups of coffee or tea per day), and even smaller amounts of processed sugars (one or two cookies, or candy). Ice Cream is a definite no.
Through this process I've lost about twenty pounds and I feel better than ever.  Do I miss eating meat?  No, not at all.  As a matter of fact I've developed a definite aversion to the smell of meat.  That applies to fish as well.  Last Christmas while having dinner at my sister's house I tried eating shrimp, which in the past was one of my favorite foods.  I found the taste and texture to be unappetizing.  Proving to me that I really am done with eating meat.
The challenge that I'm faced with now, is finding recipes that will give my body the protein that it needs.  Of course I do take supplements, particularly B-complex, to ensure that I remain healthy and strong.  But, food is the most important source of nutrients for a healthy body.
In this blog I will share recipes, thoughts and ideas for living a life in line with Mother Nature and her bounty. 
Below is one of my favorite soup recipes.  I hope that you will try it, and share your thoughts.  I look for recipes that are quick and easy to make, using the freshest ingredients I can find.  Try it out, and by all means let me know what you think.  Thank you!

Black-eyed Pea Soup

1 cup black-eyed peas
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 large ripe tomatoes, diced (I've found that beef steak tomatoes work best)
2 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 oz. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste (optional)

* Put the beans in a pan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat, keep covered and allow to stand for 2 hours.  Or, you can let the beans soak in cold water over night.  Drain off the water before adding to the other ingredients.
* Heat the oil in a large soup pot, add the onions, garlic and crushed red pepper, cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Stir in cumin, turmeric, tomatoes, stock, half the cilantro and the beans.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and salt (if desired) to taste. Just before serving add the remaining cilantro.  Serve with your favorite bread and enjoy!