Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cuckoo for Cocoa

I was in Boston last weekend and went back to this great outdoor market place, locally known as SoWa.  They have three sections: one with a variety of food trucks (where I had an awesome vegan truffle mushroom pizza!), one with crafts (where I bought a few fun gift items) and one which is a farmer's market, conveniently situated between the two. 
Obviously you expect vegan-friendly items at a farmer's market: corn, eggplant, tomatoes of a million varieties, sunflowers...I did not expect vegan ice cream and I certainly did not expect a full line of vegan chocolate!

Thanks to Taza, I think I had a full meal's worth of samples!  This non-dairy line, which can be found nationally in places like Whole Foods, has a great variety of flavors, including Wicked Dark - a nod to their Boston (or should I say Bah-stan) roots.

I tried toffee almond sea salt. Try that for your next mole.

I tried stone ground chocolate.  Melt that into some hot cocoa...

I tried Mexican chocolate (the round items you see) with guajillo peppers.  Yup.  Wait 7 seconds like they tell you to, and you'll feel that heat right in the back of your throat!  Perfect for a cold, wintry day.

I tried the cacao nibs.  Just a few are a great energy boost.

I know - I know.  I just wrote about chocolate last week, but I guess I'm cuckoo for cocoa these days.  If you go and sample some, you'll see why!  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Chocolate of a Different Hu

I know what you skeptics are thinking.  There is no way vegan chocolate can be any good.  It has to be bitter or hard or filled with grass.  Just kidding – those impressions may not be true, but there are surely people wondering how it could possibly be worth the calories.
Hu Kitchen has a chocolate bar that will change your mind, and if you live in NYC, Butterfield Market has stocked up on some for you! 

Hu Kitchen in NYC, claims they “are a haven for all things human – not just a place to grab food but a destination, a trusted partner in the shared goal of reclaiming what is means to eat and live deliciously.” Guess what, they make chocolate bars with that philosophy in mind, and they are truly delicious!  Just give them to a bunch of teenagers, unwrap them and hide the words “paleo” and “vegan” and they will disappear in no time.

If you’re a traditionalist, go with a plain bar.  Otherwise you can try almond butter and puffed quinoa or the salty chocolate.  It’s chocolate after all.  Can it really be that risky to try them all?  Vegan or not, you can identify and pronounce every single ingredient.  For that reason alone, isn’t it worth picking one (or a bunch) today?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Corn Three Ways

Displaying image1.JPGIt is the perfect season for corn, or how we traditionally think of enjoying it in America.  During summer, at a barbecue, made on the grill or cut off the cob into a cold, crisp salad.  For a twist on grilling, and to “kick it up a notch” as Emeril would say, clean each ear of corn and spread vegan butter on the kernels.  Then sprinkle Old Bay seasoning atop the butter, using more or less as you prefer, and wrap in silver foil.  Cook that right on your grill, in the foil, until tender.

Grits are another way to enjoy your corn.  Simply put, grits are a Southern staple made from boiling coarsely ground corn kernels in water or milk.  As the weather cools, this is a low fat, healthy way to start your morning, and you can top it with some salt and pepper to taste, or some maple syrup if you prefer something sweeter.

Polenta is a third option.  This traditional Italian dish is a paste or dough made from cornmeal that can then either be fried or baked.  Since this is usually for lunch or dinner, it can be topped with marinara sauce, sautéed onions  and mushrooms, or you can bake non-dairy cheese (I love Daiya mozzarella with a little sauce) right on top.  It can be eaten as a side dish or, with enough accompaniments, as a hearty entrée.

To make an authentic recipe, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, bring 6 cups of water to boil in a heavy large saucepan.  Add 2 teaspoons of salt.  Gradually whisk in the cornmeal.  Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Add 3 tablespoons of unsalted (vegan) butter and stir until melted.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Pea Protein: A Bright (Green) Future

As a vegan, the most common questions I am asked is "How do you get enough protein?"  In the article, parts of which appear below, the spotlight is on pea protein - something with which I am familiar but many are not.  Continue reading to learn more:

Pea Protein’s Bright Future in Allergen-Free Market 

by Fiona Robinson

Pea Protein’s Bright Future in Allergen-Free Market
When The GFB started producing its snack bars four years ago, the company used a blend of soy and rice protein. When customer requests started pouring in for a soy-free product, the company switched its formulation to using pea protein instead (as well as a soy-free chocolate).
The GFB is one of a growing number of food and sports nutrition manufacturers using pea protein as a “clean” ingredient to replace soy. The global market for whole yellow peas and pea protein ingredients reached 9 million metric tons valued at $3.05 billion last year, according to report by research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
While the market for whole peas is predicted to hold steady at 2 to 4 percent annual growth, the dry pea protein ingredient market isprojected to grow at a rate of 10 percent per year. In 2014, the value-added dry pea protein market was worth $29.9 million and its sales touched 20.7 thousand metric tons.
The market for “clean” protein is putting increased demands on the supply chain, noted report author Reuben Sequeira, a research analyst for Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials & Food.
“At the top level, we’re seeing demand for protein overall, and demand is volatile for dairy and meat protein,” Sequeira explained. “Products that are helping to replace that demand are beginning to see global demand … 
To read the complete article by Fiona Robinson from SpecialtyFood.com visit: https://www.specialtyfood.com/news/article/pea-proteins-bright-future-allergen-free-market

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Horse(radish)ing Around

When food gets a little dull, why not add a little spice? 

Horseradish packs a punch and helps aid in digestion.  Let’s be honest, if you have the sniffles, it’ll cure that right up too!

You can buy horseradish root to peel and grind up at home with some vinegar to make your own condiment, or you can save the time (and the tears) and pick up a jar at your local market.
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But what do you do with this zesty root once you have it?

Last night I roasted colorful baby potatoes with olive oil, some white horseradish, kosher salt and fresh dill.  Parsley would even be better... Just drizzle or sprinkle all of the ingredients onto your sliced potatoes, and mix well with your hands so everything is coated evenly.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, checking your flavor about halfway through.  You can add more to your liking as you go, but don’t be overzealous to start because it can really pack a punch!  A little Old Bay Seasoning rounds out the flavors if you want it even spicier!

With the Jewish holidays coming around, you can mix some horseradish into your non-dairy sour cream to add a little something when you top your potato or sweet potato latkes (pancakes.)

If you like vegan macaroni and cheese, you can blend some into your sauce for a fresh bite of added flavor.

For a homemade dressing to accompany your salad with sweeter ingredients like apples, pears or beets, add a ¼ or ½ teaspoon to your usual recipe, or whatever you may have picked up at the store.  I love mixing fresh lemon juice, some Dijon mustard, apple cider or white balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  A bit of horseradish would make a great addition.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Eat Pops

I don't know about you, but I feel like I really indulged this summer. I saw tons of friends, had a good number of weddings and family events, and with my son away at camp, I am pretty sure I actually only used my kitchen twice.  That excludes opening a bottle of wine or making coffee or tea...  With all of the traveling I did, my schedule has been the furthest thing from regular, and now Labor Day and back-to-school and fall events are looming. I need to get back to a routine!

I have really good and healthy intentions, but juice cleanses are only good for me for a day or so.  I found these ice pops at my local health food store, Mrs. Green's, when I went food shopping Sunday.  They inspired me to get back on that cooking bandwagon, but to incorporate these pops in the morning - they are like a juice cleanse frozen on a stick!

I decided to buy two of the flavors Eatpop offers: Cleanse - lemon, cayenne and agave and Green Detox - kale, spinach, apple, pineapple, lemon, ginger and cayenne.  I had that one this morning on my way to work (via Starbucks of course) and it was great! It didn't melt quickly (a good thing since I ate it in my car with plenty of napkins on hand just in case...) and was tasty and even satisfying.  For me it was more so than just a juice drink since I got in that chewing sensation that helps keep hunger at bay.  I had it at 8am and 3 hours later, I'm still good!  If you can find these, I'd recommend them, whether you are looking to get back into better eating or are just looking for a vegan, fat-free, 60 calorie, no sugar-added treat!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cooking 101

Last night I taught my very first vegan cooking class!  I have been cooking with my son since he was a little boy, and we have baked with friends before, but this was different.  Two of my friends were sharing how they just don't know how to prepare tasty vegetables and asked me for help.  Last night we gathered at one of their homes, all of the ingredients were washed (if needed) and laid out on the kitchen counters, and we began.  We had a blast!

When it came to choosing what to make, I really left it to them.  We settled on brussel sprouts two ways, cauliflower, and salads with homemade dressings. We mostly stuck to the plan, but made a spontaneous quinoa pasta dish that wound up being the favorite of the night!  This is a lot for one meal - we were doing a tasting - but they are good recipes to have in your repertoire.

Here are some photos for you to enjoy, and some recipes as well:

For each of the brussel sprout recipes, preheat the oven to roast at 450.  You will need a pound, de-stemmed and washed, browning leaves removed, and sprouts cut into halves or quarters, depending on how big or small they are.  

For the savory dish, drizzle 1/8-1/4 c. olive oil, and then mix in a teaspoon of dried or fresh rosemary, and a generous pinch of kosher salt.

For the sweet dish, drizzle 1/8 c. olive or avocado oil, 1/4 c. maple syrup or agave (your preference), 1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans, and 1/4 c. chopped dried cranberries or golden raisins.

Both dishes get popped into your oven, top rack, to roast for 20-30 minutes.  The sprout leaves should be starting to brown and get crispy, yet they should be fork tender.  Serve immediately.

For the cauliflower, mix 3/4 olive oil, 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 2 generous TBSP of sugar in a gallon Ziploc bag.  Into that go the large, bite-sized pieces of cauliflower (just don't use the core.)  Shake everything well so that the cauliflower is well coated, and pour into a baking dish to roast, also at 350, but for 30-40 minutes.  You want it to cook until tender, but with a nice char on the edges. Serve this immediately as well.

For the salad, wash some mixed field greens and serve them with this light, zesty dressing. Whatever you do, do not overdress your salad!  You or your family and friends can always add more, but there is little worse to eat than a soggy lettuce.  Combine the juice of one lemon, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp dried rosemary and 1 3/4 tsp olive oil.  Whisk well before using.  This will last in the refrigerator for at least a few days so you can save the excess.

For the pasta, cook a box of quinoa pasta according to the directions.  Just be sure to keep tasting it for a good, al dente consistency.  Finely chop 1/2 large yellow onion and 2 garlic cloves and sautee them, until wilting and turning golden in a pan with olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt.  Then add 1 c. finely chopped mushrooms and 1/2 c. halved cherry tomatoes. Continue to cook until the tomatoes start to break down, and then add 1/4 cup finely chopped spinach or, even better, fresh basil.  *You may need to add more oil once the mushrooms are in as they soak up a lot of liquid.  Salt to taste and serve immediately over the drained pasta.

All of these recipes were a big hit - I hope they are in your house when you make them as well!