Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pasta and Veggies

This dish contains some of my favorite foods: broccoli, chickpeas, and mushrooms! I cooked them together with some olive oil and a shallot, and I served them over rice pasta and tomato sauce.

Broccoli has always been one of my favorite foods because when I was little my mom used to make it with a cheesy sauce that I really liked. I definitely liked the sauce more than the veggies, but that's okay, because eating it trained me to like broccoli. (By the way it was frozen broccoli with a powdered sauce mix.) Broccoli is full of vitamins C, K, A, E and B6, folate, iron, potassium, manganese, selenium and dietary fiber. Because it is a cruciferous vegetable, it contains anti-cancer properties, as well as anti-viral and anti-bacterial compounds.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

I found this recipe in a blog post from The Voracious Vegan and immediately wanted to try it. These black bean burgers are super simple. They're made with black beans, quinoa, chickpea flour, flax seeds and sun-dried tomatoes, so they're packed with protein. (I omitted the liquid smoke the recipe calls for.) The recipe says it makes four patties, so I cut it in half. Instead of making two large patties, I made four small ones. I made the red onion aioli from the recipe, which really enhanced the burgers. I also made roasted tiny potatoes and sautéed chard and mushrooms to with it.

Black beans are a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins A, C, B1, folate, mangesium, manganese, tryptophan, iron and they are full of antioxidants. If you have digestive issues when eating beans, soak dry beans overnight before cooking, and place a piece of kombu seaweed in the cooking water. There are so many health benefits to eating beans that it's important to make them a regular part of your diet.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Mock Tuna Melt

Yep, vegans with food allergies can have tuna melts!

This is one of my favorite sandwiches and it's easy to make. Drain and mash up a can of chickpeas, mix in finely chopped veggies such as red onion, celery and carrots. Add some salt, pepper, and seaweed flakes (seaweed flakes are available in the Japanese section at Whole Foods and other health food stores). Then mix in a little mustard and vegan mayo. I use Vegenaise, which has a little soy in it, but not much.

I spread the chickpea mix on 100% rye bread, sprinkled Daiya cheese over it, and popped it in the broiler to melt the cheese. I bought delicious Spring White Bean and Arugula soup at Whole Foods to go with the sandwiches, and served it all with some carrot and celery sticks. It was the perfect lunch!

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Vegan Adventures in Miami - Honorable Mention: Starbucks

Miami Beach isn't the most vegan friendly place in the US, but it cold have been a lot worse. I did research before we left, and I was armed with the VegOut app on my iPhone. I packed dried fruit, granola, and peanut butter Lara Bars to snack on. On Saturday, Jessica and I walked over to Whole Foods - which was about a thirty minute walk from our hotel - to pick up more snacks, iced green tea and coconut water. I ate some really delicious food while in Florida, so I have no complaints. I ate many of the things that I'm supposed to avoid on my elimination diet, because I knew it would be even more difficult to find vegan, allergen-free food, although I did manage to avoid wheat the entire time. The only reaction I had was itchy eyes and a little bit of itching in my mouth from eating nuts. I was really happy not to have a reaction to tofu or corn!

Eating breakfast in restaurants is difficult as a wheat-free vegan though. Starbucks to the rescue! I usually like to skip chains and opt for independent coffee and tea houses, but I wasn't able to find any in Miami Beach. There are three Starbucks on the Lincoln Road Mall, and I know that if nothing else is around, I can get good oatmeal there. They also have a variety of fruits, and they just switched to whole leaf tea bags. So Jessica and I had breakfast there on Saturday and Sunday. We both also drank copious amounts of tea while in Florida, so we were in Starbucks often. Sadly though, none of the three locations carried the healthy snacks and gluten-free cookies that the Starbucks here in NJ have.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Vegan Adventures in Miami - Siam Sushi

Sushi places abound in Miami Beach, especially in the Lincoln Street Mall. On Monday before we left for the airport Jessica, Karen and I went to Siam Sushi. They serve both Japanese and Thai food. Jessica and I both ordered the vegetarian sushi sampler lunch special, which came with a variety of vegetable rolls, miso soup and a spring roll. I'll admit that this wasn't the best sushi I've ever had, but there were so many other vegan friendly options on the menu that I'd be willing to give Siam Sushi another shot if I'm ever back in Florida.

After we were sitting there for a few minutes, our friends Eve and Lynn came into the restaurant and sat next to us. They ordered Thai food, which they both said was really good. If ever I do find myself back at Siam Sushi, I think I'd like to try a Thai curry or pad Thai.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Vegan Adventures in Miami - The Cafe at Books and Books

On Sunday Jessica, Karen, Laura and I went to The Cafe at Books and Books for lunch. Books and Books is located in the Lincoln Street Mall, which is a large pedestrian mall full of shops and restaurants. Jessica and I had shopped at Books and Books the night before and found that they are open til midnight on weekends. We noticed that they had quite a few vegan options on their cafe menu and were anxious to try some of them.

They were extremely busy at lunchtime on Sunday, but that seems common for all of the restaurants on Lincoln Street.

Our waiter brought us a complimentary black bean hummus. I didn't eat any of the crackers, but I did try the hummus, which was really delicious.

Laura had vegan curried chicken Salad with tabouli and a mixed greens salad. I tried a piece of the chicken salad, which was really good. After I had it in my mouth, Jessica warned me that it was probably made with wheat-gluten. It was too late, so I figured I'd make an experiment out of it and a few hours to see if I had a reaction, which I didn't. Woohoo!

Karen had a tofu and avocado salad.

Jessica had a salad with beans and olives.

I had the vegan platter, which consisted of salad, grilled tofu, sweet potatoes, corn, bean salad, and black bean hummus. Yum! This was the first meal I wasn't able to finish while eating out in Miami Beach. It was really tasty but there was simply too much food!

Jessica and I liked the food at Books and Books so much that we went back for dinner!

We started off with chips and guacamole. This was probably the best guac I've ever had!

Jessica had a tofu and mushroom stir-fry. I was supposed to come with couscous, but she had them substitute brown rice, because she's been avoiding wheat as well.

I treated myself to a delicious red wine sangria.

I had quinoa and broccoli, which also came with squash and peppers. The broccoli was grilled which made it extra tasty. The dish came with a balsamic dressing, which really enhanced the meal. Once again, this was too much food for me to finish, and I was sad to leave the leftovers behind.

Books and Books has so many vegan options, so it's a must for vegans visiting Miami Beach.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vegan Adventures in Miami - Escopazzo

On Saturday evening, Jessica and I had dinner with our friends Stephanie and Toluwalase at Escopazzo, which is right across the street from Juice and Java.

Escopazzo is an upscale Italian restaurant that has four raw vegan items on the menu. We didn't plan it, but we each ordered a different raw item. After he saw what we ordered, the manager came over to talk to us about eating raw. He said that one of the chefs ate at a raw restaurant in California and loved it so much that she decided to incorporate some of the items in to their menu. He said it's worked out well for them since there are so few restaurants in the area that have vegan items. It also worked out well for us, since the food was delicious and we didn't have to look too hard for a vegan friendly restaurant. The restaurant is really cute and the staff was extremely nice.

Stephanie had zucchini linguini.

Toluwalase had a tomato tart with nut cheese.

Jessica had eggplant and vegetable wraps.

I had vegetable lasagna, which was absolutely delicious!

There was one raw vegan item on the menu for dessert, which was berry parfait with cashew cream. Jessica and I both ordered it, and it was a really tasty treat.

I'm supposed to avoid raw foods on my elimination diet, because they are too harsh on the digestive system, but I felt GREAT after eating this meal, and it didn't bother my tummy at all.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vegan Adventures in Miami - Juice and Java

On Saturday, Jessica and I went to Juice and Java for lunch, which is just a short walk from the Miami Convention Center which is where our Integrative Nutrition class was.

Juice and Java has lots of salads, smoothies, juices and other things like wraps and sandwiches. The cafe is tiny and it was PACKED with our fellow classmates, and they didn't seem to know how to handle the rush. We went back after class to get smoothies and they were closed. My guess is that they had to restock some food after the lunch rush!

I had a Hummus Salad that I added avocado to.

Jessica had Java's Famous Quinoa with added tofu.

We went back to Juice and Java for breakfast on Monday. Once again, the cafe was packed with my classmates, and Karen and Laura were among them, so we joined them.

Laura likes to have salads for breakfast, so she had this yummy Israeli Salad. Eating greens is a great way to start the day. She also had a green juice.

Jessica and I both ordered the same Juice and Java Platter - sesame tofu with steamed vegetables. This is something I would normally order a dish like this for lunch, but it was a really great way to start the day. We also both had delicious fruity smoothies.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vegan Adventures in Miami - Om Garden

On Friday, I flew down to Miami Beach for a convention with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I was nervous about what I was going to eat, but I did some research ahead of time. I knew I wouldn't be able to stick to my elimination diet, so I decided to stay away from wheat and not worry about anything else. I did really well, and the only think that I noticed was itchy eyes and a little bit of itching in the back of my mouth from eating nuts.

I flew with my friends Jessica and Karen. Jessica and I shared a room, and Karen stayed shared a room in the same hotel with another friend named Laura. Jessica and I wanted to try Om Garden in mainland Miami and we invited Karen and Laura to join us. We had thought about getting a cab, but Laura had a rental car, so she drove us.

The restaurant is not much to look at from the outside, but experience as taught me that the places that don't look too pretty outside are the best. Om Garden proved my theory, as it was the absolute best food I have eaten in a long while. (And I eat some good food!) The waitress was extremely gracious and friendly, and when she realized we were from out of town, she made suggestions as to what we should try. Strangely, she said Jessica and I looked familiar and thought we had been there before.

She recommended trying the Om Plate, which is a sampler of some of their salads and appetizers, which Karen and Laura decided to do.

Karen's Om Plate consisted of Black Bean Hummus, Chickpea Hummus, Faithful Falafels, Mystical Mushroms and raw flax crackers.

Laura's Om Plate was Seven Seas Seaweed Salad, Thankful Tabouli (made with quinoa instead of wheat), Black Bean Hummus, Faithful Falafels and raw flax crackers.

Karen and Laura also split a Rainbow Roll, which was made with nori, carrots, beets, avocado, baby greens, cashew pate, mango, figs with balsamic syrup, and was served with a quinoa salad. Look at how pretty the dipping sauce is!

Jessica and I split the Chakra Cheese Plate, which was raw cashew cheeses, nuts, dried fruit and raw flax crackers. The cheeses were cashew, herb cashew and curried cashew.

Jessica had the Peace Pizza, which was pesto, mushroom, tomatoes, black olives and sun dried tomatoes and cashew cheese on a sprouted wheat crust.

I had the Sundance Pizza which was a raw pizza served on an onion and flax bread with herb cashew cheese, pesto, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and avocado, and it was served with a side salad. I was full from the cheese plate, but I just couldn't leave any of this behind because it was so amazingly delicious, so I finished all of the pizza. I just couldn't find room for the salad though!

Let me reiterate that this was the THE BEST food that I have eaten in a while. We all raved about it to anyone who would listen for the entire weekend. If you are in the Miami area, you MUST try Om Garden. I'm sad because it's so far away from NJ that I know I won't be eating there again any time soon.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Florida Bound!

I'm heading to Miami Beach today for a conference with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I'm a little nervous about what I'm going to eat, because Miami is know more for it's pulled pork than it is for his vegetarian cuisine. I'm sure I will have to break my elimination diet, but as I long as I continue to avoid wheat, I should be okay. I have heard that Escopasso has great raw vegan dishes, so I have plans to eat there for dinner tomorrow. I'm also going to try to eat at Om Garden in Miami tonight, if I can figure out how to get there. I'll be sure to take lots of photos of my meals and blog about them when I return. Please come back on Tuesday to see how I did!

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fajitas with Spicy Rice and Beans

I bought brown rice tortillas at Trader Joes, and decided to do something with them other than quesadillas, which have become a regular in my meal rotation. I decide on fajitas, which are only slightly different than quesadillas, but that's okay. I used onions, mushrooms and lots of peppers. Unfortunately, rice tortillas don't do well as wraps, and broke apart when I tried to wrap the veggies up in them. It didn't take away from the taste at all, but just made them difficult to eat!

I also made spicy brown rice and beans, and I completely overspiced them. Dennis liked it a lot, but it was a little too spicy for my taste. I cut up two small habanaro peppers and added them to the rice as it was cooking, and apparently two peppers is too much! I add habanaros to dishes often and don't usually have a problem with them being too spicy. It seems that sautéing them reduces the heat but adding them to boiling water must increase it somehow! The guacamole on the side definitely helped cool the heat so I was able to eat it.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Medley with Nori Strips

This is another recipe from Vegetarian Times. I think it looked a little more exciting in the magazine than it really was, but it was still good, so that's okay. The recipe called for one sweet potato, three rutabagas, an onion, baby carrots (I used three full sized carrots) and a bunch of Brussels sprouts to be roasted together. Once I got everything chopped, I realized that there was no way it would all even fit on a baking sheet together, so roasted them separately. After everything is roasted, nori strips are mixed in, making it a very simple meal. I need to remember to add nori more often with other meals, since sea vegetables are so healthy. I made some quinoa to go with the meal too.

I used to really dislike Brussels sprouts, but Dennis has always liked them, so I looked for ways that I could cook them that we would both enjoy. I've discovered that I really like them roasted, so I often cook them this way. Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables, so they are super healthy and contain anti-cancer compounds. They area also high in vitamins A, C, K, B6 as well as folate, magnesium, iron, thiamin, copper, phosphorus and dietary fiber.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Slow Cooker Ratatouille

Like I said yesterday, I've been super busy lately, so I've been using the slow cooker. The recipe for this ratatouille was in the booklet that came with the slow cooker. It called for eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, a few spices, olive oil and a can of chopped tomatoes. Throw everything in the slow-cooker, turn it on, leave for work, and dinner is ready when you get home! Perfect!

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Follow Up Doctor Appointment

I know, I know... I've missed a few days of blogging. I've been super busy! I know a lot of people say they're busy, and what it actually means that there have been a lot of good shows in TV lately, but not me - I'm busy. Currently I'm working full time during the day and doing health counseling part time in the evenings. I've also been working on building up my business so I can quit that day job and support myself solely with health counseling. In addition to that, I'm currently doing the Immersion program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I am mentoring 12 students. I've had sessions with the students (whom I LOVE) all weekend, and on Friday night I gave a talk on plant based nutrition to the vegan group I belong to.

On Friday, I also went for a follow up appointment with my doctor. When I started the elimination diet in December, I felt GREAT! I was sleeping better, my skin looked great and my digestion had improved. Things started to go downhill in February when my day job went from stressful to super-duper stressful. I was still eating properly, but my symptoms all returned. The doctor couldn't really come up with any explanation for it, but she gave me an adrenal testing kit to see if the stress has blown out my adrenal glands. It's something that needs to be done over the course of a day, and I need to relax on that day, so I haven't been able to do it yet. The good news is that my vitamin D and magnesium levels have returned to normal! The bad news is that I'm low in carnitine, which is because of the amino acid transport deficiency I have. Carnitine deficiency is common in people with celiac disease, so I'm guessing my digestive issues have a lot to do with it too. The doctor said the deficiency is probably causing me to feel more stressed out lately too. She gave me some more supplements to help with it. I have to continue taking vitamin D and magnesium, but in lower doses. So the news at the doctor's wasn't too bad, all in all. I have to go back two weeks after I mail the adrenal tests into the lab, so I'll probably go back in about a month.

If you're interested in learning more about health and nutrition, you might be interested in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is where I received my training. IIN has distance learning now, which allows students to learn from home at their own pace. Their new catalog has just come out, so please take a look here! You can also tune in to a webinar tomorrow at 3:00 EST, by signing up here. If you are interested in IIN, please send me an email - I look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Muffin

This chocolate chocolate chip muffin came from The Montclair Bread Company in Montclair, NJ. Montclair Bread Company uses all organic ingredients, and they almost always have vegan and gluten-free goodies for sale. They make everything from breads and muffins to cookies and brownies, and they even have pizza! Because their ingredients are all natural and organic, the baked goods have a "healthy" taste to them, but I consider that to be a good thing because too much sugar makes me feel weird. The woman who works there told me that they never know how much gluten-free items to make, because sometimes they sell out of them early and sometimes they have lots leftover at the end of the day, so she said it's always best to call ahead. While I was there, I also bought a gluten-free vegan brownie a mini loaf of kamut spelt bread.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Even More Chickpea Croquettes

Yes, I have made these chickpea croquettes before, they are just too tasty not to make again. I haven't really repeated too many meals since I've been on my elimination diet, but these patties are something I've been eating on a regular basis. This time I made broccoli and mushrooms and roasted root vegetables to along with them. The roasted root veggie mix was sweet potatoes, red skinned potatoes and turnips.

If you're feeling anxious, worried or spacey, roasted root veggies may help make you feel more balanced. Since root vegetables come from the earth, they have a grounding energy that they pass along to the person consuming them. Conversely, if you're feeling tense and want to lighten up, leafy green veggies can help. They grow outward toward the sun and have an expansive energy. It's good to include a variety of foods in your diet to main a delicate balance of focused, yet flexible energy.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cabbage Casserole

This Cabbage Casserole recipe is from the March issue of Vegetarian Times and it's basically a lasagna with cabbage leaves instead of noodles. The recipe calls for blanched savoy cabbage leaves, but I accidentally bought napa cabbage instead. Napa cabbage is much more delicate than other varieties, and I didn't think it needed to be blanched. The recipe also called for a 15 ounce can of chopped tomatoes, and I felt it needed about twice as much to spread out properly between the layers of cabbage leaves. Instead of dairy ricotta, I once again used cashew ricotta. The filling between the layers was sautéed leeks. This was absolutely delicious, and I'll definitely make it again!

I also made roasted cauliflower and a mixture made with with shallots, mushrooms, red peppers and chickpeas. This was a perfect dinner!

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Slow Cooker Chili

This was another meal made in the slow cooker for a busy day. It was kind of spur of the moment decision the night before. My chili usually has zucchini, yellow squash and mushrooms in it, but I didn't have all of those things on hand this time. I used different colored bell peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce, onions, shallots, pinto beans, black beans and kidney beans. I didn't measure any of the spices, but I threw in some cumin, chili powder and red pepper flakes. I had about half a cup of brown rice medley left in the cabinet, so I cooked it up in my rice cooker to go with the chili. It was delicious and there are plenty of leftovers to have for lunch!

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Amy's Mac and Cheese

While browsing the freezer section at Whole Foods, I noticed that Amy's now has a vegan, gluten-free mac and cheese! It's made with rice noodles and Daiya cheese. I was so excited to try it, that Dennis and I heated it up and had it as a snack. The portion was really small, so we only had a tiny bowl each. The cheese sauce was smooth and creamy and rather tasty. I will admit that I prefer the Mac Daddy recipe in Veganomicon, but since that takes an hour or so to cook, and this takes a few minutes, I'll probably be eating this more often.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Gluten-Free Goodies from Sweet Avenue Bakeshop!

Dennis was so sweet – he brought home gluten-free goodies from Sweet Avenue Bake Shop! Sweet Avenue is located in Rutherford NJ, and they are well known for their vegan cupcakes, but they also have vegan cookies and candy bars. Dennis got me a delicious chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and a chocolate chip cookie. I don't eat much sugar, so in the past when I've had cupcakes, I've felt rather queasy afterward. But this cupcake was small, and I felt fine after eating it. The cookie was enormous, so I shared it with Dennis. Both were delicious! If you're in the mood for a cupcake, please note that Sweet Avenue only has gluten-free cupcakes on Fridays and Saturdays. And if you're in the area, check out the vegan options on the menu at Rutherford Pancake House.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

This recipe is from January's Vegetarian Times and it shows up the home page whenever I got to their website. It looked like an interesting twist on shepherd's pie. The weather is warming up, so I figured I didn't have too much time left to try it before root veggies go out of season.

The filling is onions, leeks, carrots, turnips and cannellini beans, and the topping is mashed sweet potatoes. I followed the recipe with just two exceptions: I didn't peel the sweet potato before cooking it and I didn't use cinnamon or nutmeg. I thought was pretty tasty, and Dennis was pleased with the meal as well.

The sweet potato is a tuberous root that is only distantly related to the potato. The softer, orange variety is commonly marketed as a "yam" in parts of North America, but the sweet potato is very distinct from the actual yam, which is native to Africa and Asia and belong to the monocot family. To prevent confusion, the USDA requires that sweet potatoes labeled as "yams" also be labeled as "sweet potatoes". Sweet potatoes are high in dietary fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron and calcium. Despite the name "sweet", it may be a beneficial food for diabetics as studies have revealed that it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and to lower insulin resistance. In 1992, the Center for Science in the Public Interest compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables, and it ranked highest in nutritional value.

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