Monday, June 20, 2016

Heck of a Halva!

When I was younger, I remember learning about halva.  It was a weird, oily, flaky "treat" served at bar and bat mitzvahs.  It was definitely not something I looked for in my pantry when I got home from school each day and wanted a snack.

When I went to Israel at 13, and again at 16, and most recently at 39, I always sampled the halva in the markets in Jerusalem.  It just felt like what you were supposed to do when you were there.  The taste and texture became more and more pleasing as I got older, and to have a vegan sweet, that wasn't too sweet at all, was also appealing.

Last week I was in Chelsea Market in the NYC's Meatpacking District with my son and some friends of ours.  While wandering in and out of every storefront, and picking up little items at many of them, we stumbled across Seed + Mill, purveyors of halva, tahini and even goat milk ice cream. I know, random, and the latter was surely not vegan, but keep reading!

There were no less than a dozen varieties of halva in the case, and nearly half were vegan.  I was curious, so for $6 I purchased a sampler which offered three flavors.  I chose pistachio, nougat and dark chocolate. 

We were heading to a big dinner at the Sugar Factory (which actually has some vegan items on the menu, though not in the dessert department) so I just wanted a pinch of each.  They were each delicious - I would be hard pressed to tell you my favorite.  Even my friend's daughter, a teenager and totally skeptical, liked the nougat flavor she tried.

If you're not in NYC but want to order, just check out their website.  You can shop online and they'll send it out right to your door.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Perfect Summer App

I was asked to bring a vegan appetizer to a BBQ tonight that friends are hosting. I wanted something light enough for the warm weather, but satisfying enough that it could carry me through a dinner that was not aimed at vegans!

What I came up with is this colorful, brightly flavored recipe that could be paired with a crispy chip or eaten as a salad.

You will need:
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off the corn or one can of organic kernels, drained (there was no corn at my market!)
1 can organic black beans, drained
1.5 avocado, diced
1 c flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, quartered 
1.5 large cucumbers, seeded, and finely diced
The juice of 4 limes
Kosher salt to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well but gently so the avocado doesn't get smashed in the process.  

Spread out some forks and small bowls or grab some of your favorite chips and go dipping! (I added a little light reading on the side...) Enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sweet Treat

I was in Boston over the weekend for a family event, and snuck in some time to catch up with friends before heading home.

Brunch was at The Cottage, a beachy-feeling restaurant in the heart of Chestnut Hill. Not too many vegan options grace the menu but they are flexible, so I had some sautéed veggies with some fruit and whole wheat toast.  Nothing too exciting but it boasted a nice atmosphere.
Next door a kid's birthday party was going on at Treat, a local cupcake shop. We went in just for a look, and out of curiosity. To my great surprise, not only do they have an adorable concept where you can build your own cupcakes (which these little girls were loving,) they also had 8 different kinds of vegan cupcakes on their bakery schelves!
Cookies 'n Cream, Mint Cookies 'n Cream, Orange You Cute, Haystack, Plain Janes, Pumpkin Pie, Mochaccino and Vanilla Coconut.  Decisions decisions!
There were four of us so we got 3 to share and sample: Haystack (a chocolate cake with a vegan mounds bar on top,) Cookies 'n Cream (think Oreo) and the Mochaccino - my favorite.  The cakes were all moist (and were warmed) and that coffee-infused frosting was just so yummy and decadent...we honestly couldn't finish them!

If you find yourself nearby and craving something sweet, definitely swing by.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Shredder

My friend, Andrea, told me about this great detox shredded salad recipe a couple of months ago.  Twice I lost the recipe. I finally had her send it one more time, and I forgot to get all of the ingredients for two weeks straight. Then I bought the ingredients and wound up using some of them to make something else for dinner.  Seriously ridiculous.

Tonight was the night.  One way or the other, I was making some version of this salad, even if I wound up putting my own spin on it. Thankfully, after all that, I liked it!

I shredded or finely chopped:

Half a purple cabbage 
One small head of broccoli, no stem
Half a Granny Smith apple, skin on
1 cup of baby carrots
3/4 cup of curly parsley
3/4 cup of pea shoots
1 head of romaine lettuce

After placing all of that in a large bowl, I made the dressing:

2 TBSP Dijon mustard
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP coconut aminos
The juice of 1 lemon

I poured the dressing over 1/2 of the salad, and served it, accompanied by freshly cooked lentils and some shredded Daiya vegan cheddar cheese.

No guilt, tons of veggies and nutrients, packed with protein, and with great flavor combinations. It was totally worth it (and there is plenty more for tomorrow!)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

New Rebozo

I was in Chicago, super hungry after a spectacular architectural boat cruise, and for some reason, just craving Meican food.

After a mile of wandering in the Gold Coast section, we stumbled upon Chicago New Robozo by Chef Paco. Located on E Superior between Rush and Wabash, and sister restaurant to the 24 year old location in Oak Park, this place is the real deal.
For one, they boast having the world's best mole in Chicago. My son had six different varieties - six! - and enjoyed them all.
I loved the guacamole with the red chip accent - it just felt whimsical. The chips were perfectly crispy, salty and corn-y, and the salsa was bursting with fresh flavor.
I ordered the vegan veggie taco special - red and white cabbage, jicama and raisins with sweet ancho chile sauce and a side of rice and beans. 
Those tacos knocked it out of the park! Juicy, flavorful, tangy, crunchy...I am beyond full but it was worth every bite!
If you are in Chicago, or plan to be sometime soon, I highly recommend copying my itinerary from today!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Vegan Pea Soup

I do some whacky things sometimes. One of those things is watching the Food Network. I love cooking, clearly, so that's not the whacky part. It's that 90-ish% of what is made on that network is definitely not vegan!
Sometimes I do get lucky - there is a straightforward awesome vegan dish, or something I can easily adapt. 

On Daphne's Dishes this weekend I hit the jackpot! A vegan pea soup that maybe takes 6 minutes to make.
Daphne took a whole bag of frozen peas and added them to 2 cups of boiling water to simmer for 4 minutes. (I found gorgeous fresh shelled peas so I used those.)

She poured the peas and the water into a blender and puréed until smooth. (I used my Nutribullet.)

Next she added kosher salt to taste (a generous pinch) and a 1/4 c. of good quality olive oil.

Lastly, she poured it into a bowl, and garnished it with micro greens (I used pea shoots) and voila! Gorgeous, springy, healthy and super yummy.  I hope you like it!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Yogurt! Really Good Yogurt!

Can we discuss how happy I am right now?

For possibly two years, I had yogurt for lunch every day during the week. Sometimes I had some cut veggies or fruit or granola too, but yogurt was the staple of that lunch meal.

Since I went vegan, that has not been the case. This Kite Hill almond milk yogurt is a game changer!
There are a few varieties but I figured I'd try this one to start. Let me tell you - this is the real deal. You will not ever miss dairy yogurt again!
Go to the market, look for it, buy it, and enjoy. You're welcome!