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Keto Fat Bomb: Lechon Kawali Chips (Crispy Filipino Pork Belly Chips)

26 Jun

I have been looking for a savory fat bomb idea for days when I crave more fat than usual. Pork belly is just perfect with 15 g of fat, 3 g of protein, and 0g of carbs per ounce serving. They only had slices when I visited my grocery last time… so I decided to make pork belly “chips.”

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Lechon Kawali Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pork belly slices, cut into 1″ squares
  • 2 c water
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

And, an additional at a later stage:

  • 1 tsp sea salt

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients, except 1 tsp sea salt, in a pan. Make sure the water covers most of the belly.
  2. Bring to a boil for 45 minutes until the pieces are soft and tender.
  3. You should not have very much liquid left and what should remain is liquid fat.
  4. Drain the meat. (I keep the liquid for frying other foods.)
  5. When cooled, rub the boiled pork belly with the remaining sea salt. Place in the refrigerator to air dry for an hour or two until you are ready to fry them.
  6. Follow the instructions for your air fryer and cook the pieces of cooked pork belly at 400F for 8 minutes. Turn half-way, if you wish. I didn’t bother. OR deep fry them using the fat saved from earlier. (I prefer air frying as that diminishes the amount of smell in my kitchen.)

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Serve:

Serve the crispy chips with coconut vinegar. If you have time, add crushed garlic to your coconut vinegar… yummy!

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Next time, I’ll try and make a Keto Lechon Sauce Dip for these chips!

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Enjoy!

 

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Prosciutto Parcels Filled with Spinach and Ricotta

8 Jun

This is basically lasagna without the pasta: a big hit with the boys at my house.

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Spinach and Prosciutto Parcels

(8 appetizer servings or 4 main course servings)

Rolls:

  • 6 oz prosciutto slices

Lay the slices flat in two overlapping rows on a piece of wax paper.

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Filling:

  • 15 oz ricotta
  • 10 oz spinach (frozen, thawed and drained well)
  • 1 c grated mozzarella
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper, to taste (I would suggest not too much salt as the prosciutto and cheese are already salty)

Mix together the filling ingredients in a bowl.

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Place the filling on the middle section of the prosciutto slices. Now roll like you would a sushi roll, making sure that the seams are intact.

With the seam on the bottom, slice the rolls into 8 pieces.

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Assembly:

  • 2 c marinara sauce (get a low carb one, like the Rao Marinara)
  • 1 c grated mozzarella
  • a handful of Parmesan cheese

Place half of the tomato sauce on a dish. Place the prosciutto parcels on top of the sauce. Top these with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle the cheese on top.

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Bake at 350F for about 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is melted.

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Garnish with basil and serve.

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The following nutritional values are based on whole fat dairy products and a Prego marinara sauce. You can lower the carb content even further than what it states below if you use the Rao brand.

 

Keto Pancakes: Duck Eggs and Cream Cheese

4 Jun

Cream Cheese Eggs pancakes

Franken Foods and Supplements Anyone?

I told a friend last night that I was tired of Franken Vegan Foods and Supplements. My son would ask me at almost every meal to verify what was on his plate, “Mama, is this REAL or FAKE?” For some reason, I always felt a pang in my heart when I answered that I was serving Vegan butter, Vegan cheese, Gluten Hot Dogs, and Gluten meat. I didn’t want to admit that they were “FAKE.”

Yes, you can do Vegan without all that FAKE foods but we also had to take supplements for optimal health. B12 for one. ALL Vegans NEED to take that stuff because Vegan foods don’t supply this essential vitamin. And iron, zinc, vitamin D? Lacking in the Vegan diet too. And as I discovered from bloodwork through the years, lacking in complete protein too. Fuhget it! I want REAL foods to heal my body!

Duck Eggs

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One of our new favourite foods is DUCK EGGS. Did you know 4 eggs have 2100 IU Vitamin D and 1888 IU Vitamin A? I love it simply fried. But my boys love it in Keto Pancakes.

Duck Egg and Cream Cheese Pancakes

There are a lot of recipes out there for pancakes using eggs and cream cheese. The recipe is basically 1 chicken egg to 1 oz of cream cheese, but we have found that the best flavour is actually 2 duck eggs to 3 oz of cream cheese!

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Ingredients per serving:

  • 2 duck eggs
  • 3 oz cream cheese

Pureé together the eggs and cream cheese in a blender.  I grease my pan with bacon fat* and cook the pancakes as usual. Then, top with whipped cream and serve with a small handful of strawberries per person.

 

*If you use 2 Tbspns of tallow instead, you would be adding 500 IU Vitamin D to your meal.

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Turkey Breakfast “Quesadillas”

2 Jun

Here’s a fun test: Vegan vs Keto.

Which do you think is a healthier meal?

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On the left, we have a Vegan meal: baked fries, gluten hot dogs on a whole wheat bun, and sweet coleslaw. On the right, we have a Keto meal: sardines, asparagus in lemon butter, olives, and tomatoes.

Now let’s compare a whole day’s meal:

On a Vegan diet:

On a Keto diet:

  • breakfast ~ Eggs, No Sugar Bacon, and Avocado;
  • lunch ~ Sardines, Asparagus in Lemon Butter, Olives, and Tomatoes; and,
  • dinner ~ Grilled Lamb and a Big Salad with a Mayonnaise Dressing.

Which is healthier? LOW FAT HIGH CARBS or LOW CARB HIGH FATS? Check out this video here for some answers. 

So we don’t need all that carbohydrates after all?

If you are like me, you are just beginning to figure out that of the three macro-nutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates), our bodies DO NOT require a lot of CARBOHYDRATES. Check out this video here for why that is.

Moderate Proteins and High Fats for Breakfast

We just discovered ourselves that our bodies were struggling after 8 solid years on a Low Fat High Carbohydrate Vegan diet. In search for a better diet for our family, we have switched to a Low Carbohydrate, Moderate Protein, and High Fat Keto diet. Our moods have changed, our cravings have changed, we don’t feel “hangry” pangs, there are less aches and pains, our skin is better, and the list goes on.

Turkey Quesadillas

So what did we have for breakfast today? These yummy “quesadillas” that my son just loves.

Turkey Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • no sugar turkey deli meat
  • your choice of cheese
  • salsa
  • green onions
  • avocado
  • eggs
  • sour cream

Place grated cheese and green onions inside the turkey slices, fold over, and bake at 350F for 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese melts.

While the turkey quesadillas are cooking, fry some eggs and slice some avocados. Now it’s time to plate breakfast. Top the quesadillas with salsa and green onions. Serve with eggs, avocado, and sour cream (optional). ENJOY!

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For a Paleo option: instead of cheese, place scrambled eggs inside the turkey slices instead.

Vegan Char Siu 素叉烧

24 Oct

Growing up in Hong Kong was just a gastronomic delight. Of all the foods available there, I probably miss Dim Sum the most. I rarely visit, but when I do, I don’t usually eat my childhood favorite foods because of the meat content. A month ago, I wanted to eat something that reminded me of my younger days and decided to create Vegan Char Siu Bao. First, I made Vegan Char Siu with beans and gluten and then I wrapped it in Chinese bread dough to make Vegan Char Siu Bao. I have made it a couple of times since then and have loved each bite.

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Vegan Char Siu (Makes 1 pound)

This is a flavored Seitan Vegan alternative to the traditional Pork. Place the following ingredients in a food processor with a sharp blade:

  • generous 2/3 c cooked and drained kidney beans
  • 2 Tbs Hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbs black bean sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • pinch white pepper

Process all together, then add:

  • 1/2 c water

Process together. Then, change the blade to a dough blade. Now add:

  • 1 c vital wheat gluten
  • 3 T tapioca starch

Process until the dough combines and keep processing to knead for a minute or two until smooth. Now form into big sausages and wrap in foil. Sometimes I divide it into 4 sausages, but I’ve also made 2 big ones too. Both work.

Steam for 1 hour. If you have an Instant Pot, you can steam it for around 12 minutes. While the Seitan is cooking, make the marinade.

Char Siu Marinade (enough for 1 pound of Seitan)

Mix all together in a bowl:

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup or your choice of sweetener
  • 2 Tbs brandy or Chinese rice wine
  • 2 Tbs black bean sauce
  • 4 Tbs Hoisin sauce

When the Seitan is done cooking, unwrap it and allow to cool.  Place the Seitan in the marinade overnight.

The next day, take the Seitan out of the marinade. Reserve the marinade. Roast the Seitan at 450F for 10 minutes on each side. If you want a crispier skin, you can roast for an additional 10 minutes each side.

Slice and serve with the reserved marinade over rice.

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Alternative: you can also use this marinade with 1# cooked and drained kidney beans for a bean version to Char Siu. Simmer all together for a few minutes and serve over rice.

Both the Seitan and the beans can be used in my Vegan Char Siu Bao, but my family much prefers the Seitan because it adds a texture that the beans do not.

Enjoy!

 

My Family Loves Eating Vegan at Home Again!

19 Aug

Trying to bring up Vegan kids is tough when family and friends are not. My adventurous and curious son loves to try different foods and I allow him to do this outside our home.  I certainly don’t want him to rebel by forcing him to eat ONLY VEGAN foods when we are with loved ones who don’t follow a Whole-Food Plant-Based diet. Likewise, I prefer that he question my diet choice and come to his own conclusion about what is best for him. That said, I want to make sure that our Vegan food at home is as enticing and delicious as other foods he has explored. Ditto for my husband.

Over this past Summer, I made a conscious decision to transition from RAW (I was high RAW for  over seven years!) to COOKED Vegan. My family had grown tired of RAW Vegan a few years ago, which led to their seeking out a more Omnivore diet outside our home. Maybe I had pushed the RAW agenda too far? Nevertheless, I have discovered that my own switch to COOKED food has had positive impacts on my family’s diet.

  1. My passion for cooking in my kitchen has been reignited. Researching what I’m going to cook next is entertaining, exciting and part of my weekly meal planning. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and this is rewarding because my family loves my food again.
  2. My family is asking to eat out LESS.
  3. They are asking to eat DAIRY, EGGS, and MEAT LESS. So, we are back to mostly Vegan meals at home.
  4. Our meals seem more gratifying and satiating in that they are snacking in between meals LESS, which means less processed foods.
  5. They are eating more vegetables now than when they were prepared RAW.
  6. They are even REQUESTING certain VEGAN meals MORE!
  7. By cooking wonderful Vegan foods at home, I am less a food police but more a creator of a Vegan movement in my own home. The conscious action to feed my family healthy whole-food plant-based meals creates educational and gastronomical opportunities for my family.

Some of the foods I recently made for my family are pictured here: vegan hot dogs, balsamic strawberries with aquafaba whipped cream, okonomiyaki, loaded nachos, potato cauliflower curry, chickpea broccoli burrito, lentil meatball sub, sweet potato chickpea tagine, cinnamon sugar doughnut, enchiladas, pan de sal, Chinese green beans, black bean burgers, vegan croissants, vegan creamsicles, aquafaba meringues, freshly picked raspberries.

My Recent Successes

  • My son wanted my Homemade Vegan Hot Dogs on Homemade Whole Wheat Buns with Easy Coleslaw and Baked Fries THREE times in a row! And this was a few days after he took one bite of a mainstream meat hot dog served at a party and didn’t like it. So, this was an amazing response from him.
  • A recent acquired bad habit, he now shuns any vegetables served for dinner and cries, “NOOOOOoooooo” but he happily devoured his full share of my Eat-Your-Beans Bibimbap. YES!
  • After seeing a thali for the first time, my son was excited to eat Potato Cauliflower Curry and exclaimed that this is his fave curry ever!
  • Tonight, I made a Sweet Potato Chickpea Tagine and served it in a traditional tagine. This Moroccan fare was new for my son and he loved it. He finished a huge bowl of tagine with couscous. After dinner, he confided in me that couscous, chickpea and olives together make a perfect combination.
  • Of course, like most kids, my son loves the Vegan treats I make on the weekends. Last week at bedtime, he said, “Mama. I’m so excited for tomorrow!” “Why?” I asked. “I can’t wait to eat the doughnuts tomorrow!” He’s so much like me: we are already planning and looking forward to our next meal.

I love it when these little successes happen because I know my son is learning that Vegan foods can be both healthy and delicious too.

As for my husband, he admitted to me that our meals are much better these days. He also says he’s happy if I’m happy doing all this extra work in the kitchen. I think the biggest plus for him is our grocery bills: they have gone down since I chose to eat cooked food again.

Vegan Eat-Your -Beans Bibimbap

16 Aug

When I eat Korean food, I think of my maternal grandmother who treated our family to Korean food several times each month. She lived for food and feeding her loved ones. I’m a lot like her that way. She has been in a coma-like state for two years now and thinking of her makes me both sad and happy at the same time.

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I’ve been cooking different versions of Bibimbap over the years but recently I’ve been adding Korean flavored beans. My family loves Bibimbap this way. In fact, my son could care less for most of the veggies and fills his plate with the beans instead. I would say that without the beans, this dish would be a little boring.

Eat Your Beans Bibimbap (Serves 4 with some leftovers)

Rice

Cook as usual:

  • 2 c sushi rice or other medium grained rice

Beans

While the rice is cooking, bring the following to boil and reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutes:

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 T Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 3 T your choice of sweetener, I use Sucanat
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 c cooked kidney beans, drained (you can use other beans if you would like)
  • pepper, to taste

Vegetables

I don’t saute my vegetables because we are cutting down on oils in our house. I also don’t salt them as we are minimizing our salt intake too. So, how do I cook these? I put 2 to 4 Tbs water in the bottom of a big non-stick ceramic pan, bring the heat up and sweat (cover the pan) the veggies until they are tender or wilted and the water has evaporated. If there is leftover liquid, simply drain the veggies. Easy. I use the same pot for all of the veggies but cook them one at a time. I just rinse it out in the sink with a little water in between each vegetable or wipe with a paper towel.

If you want to do it the traditional way, please go ahead and sauté the cucumber, carrots and mushrooms in sesame oil and season with salt. Blanch the mung bean sprouts and cucumber/zucchini and season them to taste.

  • 8 oz mung bean sprouts
  • 1 English cucumber or zuchinni, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 7 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced (I add tamari or soy sauce to taste after they are cooked)

Bibimbap Sauce

Mix together:

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 T your choice of sweetener, I use Sucanat
  • 4 T Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)

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Now to Serve

Place the rice in the middle of the plate. Now place the beans, vegetables and sauce around the rice.

Garnishes

  • sesame seeds, optional
  • kelp, optional

Enjoy!

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And tomorrow, you can make fried rice with all the leftovers too. If there is anymore.

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This Vegan Eat-Your-Beans Bibimbap is a gratifying Vegan powerhouse that definitely hits the spot.

A Super Easy Vegan Meringue and Cashew Cream Deconstructed Sans Rival Cake

15 Aug

My parents friends would gift us Silvanas and Sans Rival on special occasions. I would look forward to eating either one of them as soon as I could. These extravagant Filipino treats just melt in your mouth and leave you wanting more. Both made from meringue, buttercream and cashews, Silvanas is a frozen cookie while Sans Rival a frozen cake.

After a day of baking and tasting Aquafaba Meringues, I knew I had to try making a Vegan Version of Silvanas or Sans Rival. I decided on something in between: a dessert bigger than a cookie and smaller than a full-sized cake. I also wanted a dessert that would be more meringue and less of the loaded fats.

How about a deconstructed cake? Layers of Vegan Meringue, Cashew Buttercream and Cashews! Perfect.

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Vegan Aquafaba Meringue

This is the exact recipe from my Aquafaba Whipped Cream.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

  • 1 c cooking liquid of chickpeas
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Whisk in a mixer for 10 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks form. Like the photo below.

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To make cakes: Draw 4 circles around 6 inches or 16 cm in diameter using a bowl or plate on parchment paper. Turn the paper around so that the pencil/ink drawings face the baking sheet. Spoon or pipe the Aquafaba Cream into round cakes on the parchment paper using the outline of circles as your guide. You want them to be around half an inch thick.

Leftover Whipped Cream? No Problem.

You will have some cream left over. You can either save the cream to serve with the cake later on or make small meringue cookies.

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To make cookies: spoon or pipe the cream into small macaroon shaped cookies on a Silpat mat or parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Baking the Meringues

Place the the baking sheets in a preheated oven at 200F. The small cookies bake for 2 hours. Take the cookies out at this time. The bigger cakes bake for 2 1/2 hours, turning the baking sheet around halftime. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue cakes in the oven until it thoroughly dries out (if needed). Carefully peel off the meringues from the parchment paper gently.

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Cashew Buttercream

Soak for a couple of hours:

  • 1 c raw cashews

Drain and rinse cashews. Place in high speed blender with:

  • 1/4 t sea salt, optional
  • 2 T your choice of liquid sweetener, like coconut nectar, maple or agave syrups
  • 1/4 c your choice of liquid, like water, orange juice or even coffee

Blend well to create a vegan buttercream.

Cashews

Place in a food processor and process so that there are both bigger and smaller (almost ground) chunks of nuts:

  • 1/2 c cashews, toasted or raw

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A Super Easy Vegan Meringue and Cashew Cream Deconstructed Sans Rival Cake (Serves 8)

Place the first meringue layer on a plate, top with a thin layer of cashew buttercream and sprinkle generously with chopped cashews. Place another meringue layer on top and repeat layers of thin cashew buttercream and sprinkles of cashews. Repeat with the other two layers of meringues. Freeze immediately. Serve this cold and straight out of the freezer, otherwise the meringue will become soggy. If you have leftover whipped cream, you can serve the cakes with some too.

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My son took one look at the cake and exclaimed: “Couldn’t you have made it with something else other than cashews? I would have loved to eat it.”

Oops, sorry. (He’s allergic to cashews.) I could have made it with hazelnuts or almonds I guess, but it is traditionally made with cashews.

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My husband and I already ate half the cake. It is a luscious mix of cooked and raw deliciousness.

I love my kitchen and I have missed cooking in it. My blog had been quiet for almost 3 years, but changing from RAW to COOKED Vegan has reignited my passion for food. Thank YOU for keeping in touch with me through the silence and stopping by again to enjoy the food on my table.

Instant Pot Vegan Monggo Guisado or Mung Bean Stew

31 Jul

My mother brought me to an orphanage in the Philippines when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I wanted to donate my old clothes and toys to children who were in need. It just so happened that we arrived around lunch time. Although the kids were excited to see me, their eyes sparkled even more at the sight of their food. This particular orphanage was for handicap children and I saw how some ate with their feet or directly with their mouths to the plates. It didn’t matter what their handicap was, they ate heartily and happily.

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“What are they eating?” I asked my mother, “It looks so masarap (delicious)!”

“Monggo Guisado. It is delicious. The best part is that it doesn’t cost a lot for the orphanage to give the children a nutritious meal.” she replied.

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That night, I asked for Monggo Guisado for dinner and remembered the children at the orphanage as I relished each spoonful. I had thought that I would make a big difference in their lives as a deliverer of special, albeit second hand, gifts. Instead, it was I who came away with a lesson in the joy of the simple things in life.

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Everytime I eat Monggo Guisado, I think of that day at the orphanage, the happiness each bite brought to the children, and the nutritious meal I have in memory of them. It is a simple meal that comforts my body and mind.

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Instant Pot Monggo Guisado or Mung Bean Stew

Saute in an Instant Pot:

  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped

Turn off saute and add into the Instant Pot:

  • 1 1/2 c whole green mung beans, not soaked but rinsed
  • 3 c water

Cover lid and set for Bean for 15 minutes. Allow pressure to come down naturally when done. Take off lid, press saute and add in:

  • 4 big handfuls of chopped greens (I had kale)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs Bragg’s Amino or low-sodium soy sauce

Stir for a few minutes until greens are cooked well. Turn off Instant Pot. Serve with rice, lime wedges and more Bragg’s Amino.

 

Bread Machine Vegan Whole Wheat Pan de Sal

28 Jul

When I lived in the Philippines, Pan de Sal was almost always in a bread basket at our family’s breakfast table accompanied by butter, local jams and cheeses, condensed milk or Dulce de Leche. Unlike what its Spanish name suggests, it is actually more a Pan “Dulce” than Pan “Salado.” Its crust is thin and slightly crispy while the inside is light and fluffy. I especially loved slathering on my Lola’s homemade mango jam or eating it with quesong puti or dunking it in hot chocolate.

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The Experiment

I was searching for a Pan de Sal recipe for the bread machine, but did not find one. I also wanted to bake a Vegan Whole Grain Bread with a lower fat and sugar content. After an internet search, I found Russian Filipino Kitchen. The comments on her recipe were numerous and positive. Although her recipe was not for the bread machine and used only white flour, it had everything else that I was looking for: vegan, lower fat and sugar content. It was easily adaptable and I went to work, or rather my bread machine, went to work. As you see below: success!

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Bread Machine Vegan Whole Wheat Pan de Sal (Makes 20 rolls)

Adapted from Russian Filipino Kitchen

Place ingredients in order into your bread machine:

  • 2 Tbs vegan butter or olive oil or your choice of oil
  • 1 c your choice of milk or water
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 c sucanat or unrefined sugar
  • 1 1/2 c bread flour
  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 2¼ tsp active dry yeast (or 1 packet)

Set for dough setting. When the dough setting is done, around 1 hour and 50 minutes, take the dough out and roll into a long log. Slice into twenty 1″ pieces. Roll in:

  • whole wheat flour (this is a much healthier option than the traditional bread crumbs and does not sacrifice taste or texture)

Coat well. Place on a prepared baking sheet (with a silpat mat or parchment paper) around an inch apart.

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Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 375F for 10 minutes on the center rack. Serve warm.

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This Bread Machine Vegan Whole Wheat Pan de Sal, while made up of healthier ingredients, is still thin and slightly crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.

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The best part: this recipe only takes a few minutes of your active time and the aroma in your kitchen will transport you to a Philippine bakery.

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I couldn’t resist eating one straight from the oven. I ate half of it with vegan butter and half of it with homemade vegan Nutella. No photo of the latter, unfortunately, because it was gone in a second.

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Enjoy!

 

Vegan Modan-Yaki: Yakisoba topped with Veggie Filled Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savoury Pancakes)

27 Jul

I remember walking in Tokyo with my parents when I was little and smelling something amazing. It came from a street vendor cooking something that looked like a pancake but smelled savoury. I knew I had to have some. I patiently waited my turn, which seemed like hours, but it was all worthwhile. As I held my treasured okonomiyaki, I took a big bite. Eyes closed. Umami.

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Tonight, I wanted to experiment with making vegan “omelettes” with chickpea flour. I didn’t want just any omelette. I wanted okonomiyaki. I decided to serve it with yakisoba. That seems like a nutritious full vegan meal to me: noodles, beans and plenty of veggies to go along with it.

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So, here is my version of Modan-Yaki (モダン焼き). Hope you like it.

Easy Vegan Yakisoba (4 servings)

Cook according to package directions, drain and rinse in cold water:

  • a package of yakisoba noodles (I only had buckwheat ramen noodles, but it worked just fine so go ahead and substitute)

While it cooks, saute in 1/2 c water:

  • 1 onion, sliced

When softened, add:

  • 8 oz coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage

Cook until softened. Add the noodles and tonkatsu sauce to taste. You probably will use around half of the sauce below. Mix well. When heated through, take off heat.

Vegan Tonkatsu Sauce (just the right amount for both the yakisoba and okonomiyaki)

Mix together:

  • 3 T sucanat
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 3/4 c soy sauce (we use low sodium)

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Veggie Filled Okonomiyaki (Makes 8)

Mix together in a bowl:

  • 2 c chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp sucanat
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs nutritional yeast (optional)

Then add:

  • 2 c water

Whisk together well. Add in:

  • 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c green onions, sliced
  • 1 potato, white or sweet potato or yam, grated
  • 1 – 2 large romaine lettuce heads, shredded (my family will happily eat lettuce and since I already cooked cabbage in the yakisoba, I thought it better not to cook it again here)

 

Mix well. If there is too much liquid, you can add in more shredded or grated vegetables. Now, heat a non-stick pan and spray on some oil. With your hands, form a ball with the batter and place gently on the pan to cook. I managed to squeeze 4 pancakes in my pan. Cook on medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes until crispy. Turn, pat down gently and cook another 5 – 10 minutes. When both sides are crispy, turn once again, cover the pan with the lid and steam cook for an additional 3 – 5 minutes.

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Vegan Modan-Yaki: Yakisoba topped with Veggie Filled Okonomiyaki

By now you’ve got both your noodles and your pancakes. It’s time to serve!

Place yakisoba on a plate and top with one okonomiyaki.

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Now drizzle sauces and garnish with the following toppings:

  • tonkatsu sauce (from above)
  • vegan mayonnaise
  • nori flakes or other seaweed
  • green onions, sliced

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I love chickpea flour!

Easy Baked Vegan Potato Tonkatsu

20 Jul

After 7 years of high raw veganism, I am now just exploring cooked veganism again and having a blast. This was last night’s dinner for the family:

Potato Tonkatsu, Spinach Gomaae, Tomatoes over Vegan Ramen with Homemade Broth.

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Cooking food requires much more time than preparing raw meals, but the family seems to really enjoy cooked food much more these days and I find the time spent in the kitchen very rewarding.

For Japanese food, we are really enjoying the recipes from Just One Cookbook. They are easy to adapt to a Vegan diet. I really wanted to create Vegan Tonkatsu Ramen Bowls for my family. I started with Just One Cookbook‘s Ramen recipe using rice milk instead of soy, then her Spinach Gomaae and Tonkatsu Sauce using vegan Worcestershire Sauce and Soy Sauce in place of regular Worcestershire and Oyster Sauces.  I combined all of these with my Baked Vegan Potato Tonkatsu (below) and it was a BIG HIT. My son used to refuse to eat Ramen, but now he asks for it and wants seconds. My husband really enjoys the Tonkatsu on its own just with the sauce too.

Easy Baked Vegan Potato Tonkatsu

Mix together and combine well:

  • 4 cups mashed potato, with skins for nutrients
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Now for the dredging and breading. Arrange 3 bowls with:

  • flour
  • vegan mayo mixed with some water to resemble an egg wash
  • vegan panko crumbs

Form potato patties, coat with flour, dip in vegan mayo mixture and cover with panko crumbs. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400F for 15 minutes until golden brown. This is a versatile dish that you can serve alone with sauce or over rice or with ramen (as above).

The Easiest Vegan Pulled BBQ Sandwich Even Meat Lovers Will Love

12 Jul

Just take a look at this scrumptious looking BBQ sandwich. You won’t believe how easy it is to make nor how delicious. Please read on.

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A few years ago, raw vegan me wouldn’t have thought I would be posting about cooked food, much less something from a can. But never say never. This year, I’ve started adding cooked vegan foods back into my daily diet in a big way.

What I’ve learned during this transition:

  • my body took a while to adjust to different foods: I don’t have sensitivities to certain foods (like wheat) like I once thought. My body just needed time to adjust.
  • I didn’t gain weight. I actually lost weight because my daily raw vegan diet contained too much fats. Although of the good kind, fats are high in calories and are still… fats. I didn’t realise how much of it I was consuming (50% to be exact) until I started using a diet tracking app.
  • I didn’t break out or get sick. I’ve been just fine.
  • I’ve been craving all kinds of crazy foods lately… like this:

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My husband and I really enjoyed this meal last night and today for lunch. In fact, I inhaled my first sandwich and couldn’t get a good photo due to too much yumminess, very sticky fingers, and hunger to finish it off.

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So here’s the easy yummy recipe.

 

The Easiest Vegan Pulled BBQ:

3 ingredients only

Cook in ¼ c water until soft:

2 onions, thinly sliced

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Add and combine together with:

3 cans 14 oz young jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed well (I used the one above)

¾ c your favourite bbq sauce, more at the table

Mash with cooking spoon or use a potato masher to create a pulled meat effect.

Choose 1 of 3 different cooking methods:

Slow Cooker – place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 5 hours.

Stove Top – place all ingredients in a pot and heat up. You can cook until heated through or longer so that some parts cook to a crisp.

Bake/Broil – place all ingredients in a cookie sheet and bake/broil. The former heats it up, the latter burns parts of the jackfruit to a crisp to give the ‘meat’ a crunchy.

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The Whole Wheat Burger Buns:

Place the following ingredients in your bread machine and set for dough stage:

1 T flax seed meal mixed with 3 T water

4 ½ T olive oil

3 T sucanat or your choice of sweetener

¾ t sea salt

1 ½ c whole wheat flour

1 ½ c bread flour

1 T yeast

Divide into 9 pieces. Form into round balls and flatten to make the buns. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F. Bake buns for about 13 minutes.

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Now to serve:

Serve about 1/3 c cooked jackfruit BBQ in a whole wheat burger buns with slices of avocado and additional bbq sauce, if needed. Serves 4-6 hungry people.

ENJOY!

Vegan Mashed Potatoes with Kids

1 Jul

I’ve been waiting for my son to show some serious interest in the kitchen. This past week, he volunteered to make Vegan Mashed Potatoes, not once, but twice. I’m pretty sure he would do it another time too. This Mama is so excited to have a willing helper.

Son's Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Vegan Mashed Potatoes are so easy and so forgiving. My son loves every step of the process and wants to do it all himself. Your kids might want to do the same. Here’s what he did:

1. Scrub the potatoes clean.

2. Quarter them. (We keep the peel for extra nutrients.)

3. Drop them in a pot full of water.

4. Boil, then turn down the heat to simmer until the potatoes are tender. (15 minutes?)

5. Drain.

6. Put the potatoes back into the pot.

7. Mash, while adding sea salt, olive oil, and your choice of milk.

8. Serve. My son loves it with Baked Beans.

Vegan Mashed Potato

Harry Potter’s Vegan Eggnog

20 Jun

Any other Vegan Harry Potter fans out there?

Well, my son is currently attending the Online School of Wizardry over at DIY.org for Harry Potter fans. So this Mama in the Kitchen immediately borrowed The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook for him.  One of the things he bookmarked was Eggnog for Kids, which requires 6 eggs, whole milk and heavy cream. The recipe is a complete NO-NO for a kid with super high cholesterol. Since today is a Saturday (a dessert day), I thought I would concoct a Vegan version for him. I would love to create a RAW Vegan Eggnog, but my son is allergic to nuts, so I used soy. This Harry Potter’s Vegan Eggnog was a HIT at our house.

Vegan Eggnog

Place all of the following ingredients in a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix:

  • 2 cups unsweetened organic soymilk
  • 2 cups organic soy creamer
  • 1 cup soy ice cream
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 1/8 teaspoons sea salt
  • pinch of cloves

Vegan Eggnog 2

Pour it straight from the Vitamix. Cast a spell on your Vegan Eggnog and delight in all that foam.

Vegan Eggnog 3

Pretend you are drinking your Vegan Eggnog out of a Butterbeer Mug at The Three Broomsticks and it is Christmas.

Accio Vegan Eggnog!

Oops. Looks like Hermione, Ron, and Harry wanted to try some of your Vegan Eggnog!

Easy Roasted Asian Sweet Potatoes

2 Mar

As a side dish or as a snack, this is comfort food for the whole family.

Easy Roasted Asian Sweet Potato

Ingredients

2 large Asian Sweet Potatoes, chopped into bite size chunks (we love to keep the skin on for extra crunch and nutrients)*

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

unrefined olive oil or coconut oil, as needed

1 tablespoon Sucanat, or your choice of sweetener

Method

Easy Roasted Asian Sweet Potato

  1. Heat the oven to 400F.
  2. Mix the sweet potato chunks, cinnamon, sea salt and oil in a pan.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with Sucanat.
  5. Mix well and serve.

*Note: Make sure to choose the Asian Sweet Potato that is reddish purple on the outside and beige on the inside. When roasted, the edges of the Asian Sweet Potato become deliciously crunchy whereas the regular American Sweet Potato tends to soften dramatically in this recipe.

Mama’s Now Cooking!

18 Feb

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Yup, this Mama is cooking again! After a few years on a highly Raw Vegan diet, our family’s wants and needs have now changed.  

No More Tree Nuts

Our son has become highly allergic to cashews and pistachios, and we want to make sure there is no cross-reactivity, cross-contamination, nor cross-contact reactions to any other tree nuts. This change rules out many Raw Vegan recipes. We also discovered that his allergies to dairy and eggs have cleared. The test also showed a mild allergy to soy. I see no good reason to make my son feel we are controlling and restricting his diet further. We are now allowing him to make more food choices for himself. He is still trying new things and figuring out what he likes and what his body prefers. So far, he is enjoying his rediscovery of raw goat’s milk and cooked eggs. He’s also since tried store-bought beef and bison jerky, which he says he absolutely loves.

Raw vs Cooked, Vegan vs Vegetarian Foods

As for my husband, he is pretty tired of raw Vegan food, although he still enjoys our faves. It’s nice when he does request for them. He prefers cooked Vegan and Vegetarian foods.

Where do I fit in?  I’m the Vegan Mama who buys and prepares/cooks the Vegan and Vegetarian food for a son who loves goat’s milk, a hubby who prefers soy milk, and for myself who can live on raw foods. Cooking for three people with different food preferences is not admittedly such an easy task when our homeschool days are full.

Keeping Mama in the Kitchen and she ain’t cookin’

I have decided to keep this blog, along with the research and the recipes on Raw Vegan foods, in hopes that the information can continue to help more people out there. My future posts, however, will reflect the new changes in our family’s dietary choices.

Hoping you stick around to watch us on our journey!

Mama’s Massaman Curry

15 Jan

Massaman Curry

A real curry made from scratch, my Vegan Massaman Curry is family friendly: just enough spice to satisfy parents and just sweet enough to get kids hooked on this creamy dish.

  • Saute in 1/2 cup of water:

1 chopped onion
2 carrots, diced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder

  • When onion is soft, add in:

all the fresh mature coconut milk squeezed from 2 mature coconuts and 3 cups of water (recipe here)

  • Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer.  Cook until slightly thickened.  Then add in your choice of vegetables. Make sure there is enough so that the vegetables just peek out of the sauce.  This way, you have a good ratio of veggies to sauce (not too much sauce leftover when the veggies are all gone and just enough sauce to eat with the veggies):

6 medium red potatoes, chopped

1 pint mushrooms, chopped

4 c broccoli florets, chopped

  • Simmer until vegetables are tender around 10 – 15 minutes, then add:

6 tbspns Tamari or Nama Shoyu
5 – 6 tbspns Sucanat, to taste
2 tbspns fresh lime juice

  • Mix well until well blended and sweetener is dissolved.
  • Serve with Rice (we love a mix of short grain brown rice and sweet rice: cook both together with twice the amount of water for 50 minutes) and top with Salted Peanuts (we use Raw Wild Jungle Peanuts, which is available at our health food shop).

Fresh Mature Coconut Milk

15 Jan


Mature Coconut Milk  from Scratch

If you want to cook with coconut milk, you have to use the milk from mature coconuts.  While we love my raw Curry in a Hurry made from young coconuts, the boys have been craving cooked Massaman Curry with potatoes.  So my hubby bought some mature coconuts the other day and opening it became a family affair.

Mature Coconuts

Since I didn’t have an ice pick, hubby used a drill to make 3 holes on top of the coconut to drain the coconut water out.

The Three Holes in a Mature Coconut

We wrapped the coconut in a towel and my son hammered it open.  It helps so that pieces of coconut don’t fly out everywhere.

Hammering Mature Coconut

Make sure you hammer it more at this stage so you have smaller pieces to work with.  Prying out the meat from a big piece of coconut, like below, is tough.

Opened Mature Coconuts

With a knife, separate the coconut meat from the coconut shell.

Meat from Mature Coconut

Peel the brown skin off the meat, as this part is hard and difficult to chew.

Peel Coconut Meat

Place the peeled coconut meat in your high speed blender with water.  We blended meat from 2 mature coconuts with 3 cups of water.

Clean Coconut Meat

It will seem very thick.  Place in a nut bag and squeeze out all the liquid.

Mature coconut blended with water

You will have about 3 1/2 cups of pure mature coconut milk.  Compared to other nut milks, mature coconut milk is as white and creamy as cow’s milk.  I had to stop myself from drinking more than a sip or else we wouldn’t have enough for our curry.

Mature Coconut Milk

 

Click here for more information about different coconuts and their nutritional effects on our health from an Ayurvedic perspective.

Click here for a nutritional comparison between Young and Mature Coconut Water and Meat.

Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

12 Jan

Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

So I told you I started cooking vegetables to death, right? And, I discovered that my family is consuming a wider variety and a higher quantity of vegetables than before. While my boys learned slowly to shun all raw veggies, cooked ones have a different effect at our dinner table.  The other night, after drinking a huge amount of fresh coconut milk, my son asked for seconds and thirds of both Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts.  I had to touch his forehead just to make sure he was feeling all right.

Some of my readers wanted me to share these kid-popular recipes… well here they are: quick, easy and addictive.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

2 cauliflower heads, florets chopped into bite size pieces

1 tbspn fresh ginger, minced

1 tbspn ground coriander

sea salt, to taste (I usually use 1 tsp or less per 1 pound of veggies)

extra virgin olive oil, just enough to coat all the vegetables

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix well to evenly distribute spices and oil.
  3. Roast at 400F until brown at the edges but not burned black.  The brown crispy bits actually create a chips-like quality to this vegetable that make them addictive.

 

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Brussels Sprouts

1 pound Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and halved

1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced

sea salt, to taste

extra virgin olive oil, just enough to coat all the vegetables

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix well to evenly distribute spices and oil.
  3. Roast at 400F until browned at edges, but not burned black.  Like the cauliflower, the browned crispy bits here make these addictive.

Finding Balance

29 Dec

I haven’t been posting on this blog for a few months because I end this year a little more tentative than I began. In the beginning of Autumn this year, my dear son and hubby decided on “no more nuts”. This was followed by “no more raw smoothies”. Then “no more raw salads”. In other words, NO MORE RAW ANYTHING.

Gah, had I pushed them too far?

So, I started cooking more and more veggies: in soups, with dressing, steamed, boiled, baked, etc. And, I discovered that my family actually have increased their intake of veggies this way. Dead broccoli is the new fave around here and mushroom miso soup. Surprise, surprise – I even lost a few pounds without all the added fats from nuts.

Cooked to death Broccoli.  Boil till the broccoli breaks apart.  Dress with orange juice or balsamic vinegar, sea salt and olive oil.

Cooked to death Broccoli: boil till the broccoli breaks apart, dress with a mixture of orange juice or balsamic vinegar, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. My son loves it!

But I’m still a firm believer in RAW, so I slowly but surely added back some old faves after a month or two. Without complaints, we are all enjoying raw fruit puddings for breakfast again, Japanese and Kale salads for pre-meals and lots of coconut smoothies. We are not quite as raw as I would like, but dare I say I have found a new kind of “balance”?

I don’t know how RAW families do it. How do they function in society? How do they enjoy being with family and friends who don’t eat the way they do? How do their kids relate to other kids in the community? My big guess is that they don’t… not really in the same capacity we do. My second guess is that husband and wife have to agree on diet and nutrition principles to make it work for the family. My third guess is that the parents have to impose and work hard to ingrain these beliefs at home (unless the children have allergies and sickness that inhibit their diets). I cannot imagine regular kids not wanting what other mainstream kids can have – unless they don’t have much of a relationship with other kids, and therefore have no knowledge base of what goes on “on the other side”.

My husband recently bought some Maine root beer, a package of cereal and a carton of soy milk. My son’s hoarding some Vegan candy canes and has a new obsession with gum (it was hard finding one he isn’t allergic to).

Our Xmas Experiment: will Santa prefer the processed candy the restaurant gave you or will he prefer the homemade Vegan cookies we baked?

Our Xmas Experiment: will Santa prefer the processed candy the restaurant gave you or will he prefer the homemade Vegan cookies we baked from scratch? We discovered that Santa prefers homemade cookies to processed candy… and even left a small bit behind.

As a Mama, it is hard to let go of control – especially in the kitchen. But this year, I found more peace and happiness at the dining table by relinquishing more control over my family’s diet. I still buy the groceries, prepare and cook our food. I still educate my family on food matters. But at the end of the day, I let go and allow them the freedom to choose what they want to eat.

A little discouraged one day, I asked my husband and son separately if they wanted to branch out from our Vegan diet, they both said “NO”. Are you sure? “YES!” Both look forward to their fave homemade organic and Vegan cooked foods: Mulligatawny Soup, Shepherd’s Pie, Japanese Buckwheat Noodles, Popcorn and Chocolate Chip Cookies. But I notice they too have their fave raw foods. My son was sick recently and only wanted to eat fruit. He prefers to start each day with bananas and he asks for fresh raw coconut milk almost everyday. He will eat a huge bowl of romaine lettuce. My hubby can drink a quart of green smoothie during a meal and he will keep going back for more salad.

I offer my family healthy food, I empower them with current food knowledge, and I model good eating habits. Then, I let go in peace.

Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet

8 Mar

One thing that I love about being a Mama in the Kitchen is being able to read cookbooks and recreate the recipes that have inspired me to take my nose out of the book and move about in the kitchen.  I have enjoyed looking through Christy Morgan’s new book Blissful Bites.  I love how mainstream Vegan Chefs are now embracing more and more RAW foods into their own diets and recipe books – even a Macrobiotic Vegan Chef like Christy (check out her website and her video… she’s adorable)!  At least 10% of all recipes in Blissful Bites are RAW! 

EH…

Unfortunately, the book was published before all the brown rice syrup hullabaloo, so it is an ingredient in many of her recipes (an option with maple syrup, which you can easily substitute).

THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE BOOK

–           the recipes are divided according to season, with a special place for ‘anytime’ recipes.  This is a time saver for busy Mamas who want to feed their families seasonally!

–          the sample menus at the end of the book is helpful. It even includes ‘perfect no-oil potluck dishes’ and ‘food for kiddos’.

–          labels for recipes include: RAW, GLUTEN-FREE, SOY-FREE, NO/LOW-OIL, and UNDER 45 MINUTES.

–          all the recipes I have tested, both raw and cooked, taste wonderful!

RAW RECIPES IN BLISSFUL BITES

Ginger-Miso Dressing: I used unrefined sesame oil for the toasted sesame oil and raw honey (we have sensitivities and allergies to other choices) instead of the brown rice or maple syrup. Very tasty!

Mock Tuna: you can serve as a RAW side dish or as a filling for Sushi. I chose to follow her Veggie Sushi Rolls recipe with brown rice for a half-raw, half-cooked dish. It was delicious!! You could also use raw cauliflower for the 'rice' in this recipe.

Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse: we substituted the raw cacao powder with raw carob powder. My son went wild for this pudding!

If you are thinking of getting hold of the book, thought you’d like to have the full list of the RAW RECIPES first:

Easy Guacamole
Chilled Corn Bisque
Heirloom Gazpacho
Mango Pineapple Tropical Soup
Pineapple Cucumber Gazpacho
Raw Pear-Walnut Bisque
Citrus Herb Cashew Crudites
Spring Kale Salad with Sweet Miso Dressing
Creamy Basil Dressing
Avocado, Strawberry and Grape Tomato Slad
Zucchini Pasta with Mint-Cashew Pesto Sauce
Raw Pasta with Almond Sauce
Cilantro-Lime Dressing
Fall Harvest Fruit Salad
Mac N Kale Salad
Tropical Relish
Mango Peach Salsa
Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse (photo above)
Strawberry Mint Limemade

There are other recipes that have not been labeled Raw, but are or can be tweaked easily for Raw Foodies, like Mock Tuna (photo above), Ginger-Miso Dressing (photo above), and Blueberry Hemp Drops.

Cooked Recipes in Blissful Bites

I am always looking for gluten-free recipes that really work, these Gluten-Free Savory Biscuits have a fantastic consistency and are delicious. My boys enjoyed these very very much! Note, the recipe states it makes about 5 biscuits only... but I made about a dozen.

Lemon-Roasted Asparagus: these were very tasty. I did roast them much longer than the recipe states in order to get them 'crispy' and I would suggest tossing the asparagus spears in the remaining liquid after they have cooked just to make sure the flavors are mixed well before serving.

We also tried the Azuki Beans with Squash and Chestnuts, which my son devoured.

Now, if you want to meet Christy Morgan…

…and live on the East Coast, then you are in luck!  Her East Coast Book Tour just begun this March.  You just missed her in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, but you still have lots of time to see her in Washington DC, New York, Boston, Portland, Maine, New Jersey, Philadelphia. In April, she will be in Austin and Fort Worth, Texas.

30 Lessons this Raw Vegan Mama Learned from Traveling and Dining Out with Omnivore Loved Ones

4 Mar

In the last 6 months alone, it seems like my family and I have traveled non-stop to be with friends and extended family.  These days, I feel like I am a bit of a pro when traveling with and dining out with loved ones who happen to be non-Raw Omnivores. 

I wish I could tell you we did wonderfully: I ate 100% Raw Vegan Foods and my family kept up their 50% Raw Vegan diet. But we did not.

What we did a lot of instead was, what I call, nutritional compromising. Why?  Well, believe it or not, for harmony’s sake.  We love our friends and family dearly and being together with them means a lot to us.  We didn’t want to alienate anyone… or ourselves.

I cannot say I was very much OK with all the nutritional compromising in the past few months… but I met Perry the other day who made me feel a whole lot better.  He sold me a bottle of E3Live.  I asked him if he was Raw Vegan.  He said he used to be.  “Why?” I asked.  He said, his mother had cancer when he was growing up and foods were designated as BAD or GOOD, ALLOWED or NOT ALLOWED.  So Young Perry rebelled. He would go behind his mother’s back, steal her money and buy the foods that were verboten at their house.  Needless to say, he thought it was a good idea that I allow my son some slack. 

Here is what I learned while traveling with Omnivore loved ones:

Our Travel Food Bag

I always have fruit (bananas, oranges, apples) and salad for everyone. I also always have some cooked Vegan foods for the boys. Hopefully we can recycle the plastic containers.

1. I always pack my family’s meals for road trips and national/international flights. Unfortunately, the food lasts only about 8 hours and after that we have to make do with what we are given or find at the other end of our trip.

Vegan Meals up in the friendly skies: include preservatives, coloring and a bunch of other stuff we wouldn't normally eat. But - this is the best option we have when we run out of food.

2. On planes, we request either the Raw (not always available and this tends to be fruit or cut carrot and celery sticks) or Vegan (although some are cooked with many processed Vegan ingredients) options for flights.

3. Clearly, our family’s highly raw/unprocessed Vegan diet tends to go down the drain pretty much from the get-go.

I love this old photo of my son snuggling with his step-grandmother. In the first 5 minutes after they met, it was clear they had already bonded so wonderfully.

4. We want to spend time and create strong bonds with our extended family and friends while traveling/visiting with them.

5. But, this means mealtimes more often than not emphasize non-raw and non-vegan foods.

6. We tend to eat out at mainstream restaurants a whole lot while traveling with others.

7. We have lengthy and careful discussions with servers about our family’s food preferences and allergies before ordering. It seems to us that waiters, on the whole, are not trained well on matters relating to Veganism or food allergies.  Neither are they made aware of the repercussions of food allergies. Sometimes, the problem may be that they don’t properly convey diner’s requests to chefs in their kitchens.  So, we like to take our time in our communication with them.

8. Raw Vegans are not the best for diners with nut and maple/agave allergies.  After talking very carefully to servers about our son’s allergies, my son has had very bad vomiting spells after eating/drinking something at Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco and Quintessence in NYC.  Needless to say, we are not going back to these 2 places to eat.  I can, however, recommend The Farm in the Philippines, Good Life Café in South Carolina and Pure Food and Wine in NYC.

9. We tend to eat what our host provides.  “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do!” Right?  As guests, we are really at the mercy of our host, especially when they want to treat us all the time and/or we are in a foreign country.

10. I have discovered that food allergies are difficult for others to understand.

11. The concept of Raw Vegan foods are even harder for many to grasp.  I have had, many a time, cheese and bread on my “all Raw Vegan” salad or been offered regular hummus with cooked chickpeas.

12. Requests for Gluten- and Vegan-free food is akin to speaking a foreign language.

My son kept asking for the white bread served at most mainstream restaurants. Having said 'no' so many times (due to allergies), I finally ordered some wonderful Rice Bruschetta at a Vegan restaurant we visited towards the end of one of our trips. My son was extremely happy. So was I for having found a half-raw, half-cooked meal for him too!

13. My son will want to eat what others are eating: i.e. the cooked or processed refined foods.

14. A loved one recently baked 6 loaves of maple syrup white wheat bread while we visited her for 2 weeks – even after I asked her to please stop at the first loaf.  The breads just kept appearing though, which my son gladly ate and I tried to stop.  She was thrilled of course to watch my son devour her bread. On the other hand, I was focused on his rashes (c/o maple sugar).

15. This Mama will compromise only to a certain extent.

Using a handheld immersion blender in a plastic tub while traveling to make a lamb's lettuce smoothie for my family

16. If a kitchen and/or appliances are available, I supplement our family’s meals with fresh fruit for breakfast and fresh juices or green smoothies before a meal (that is if we have access to appliances and/or a kitchen).

Someone shared this on Facebook and made me LOL!

17. If a kitchen is available and if possible, we eat ‘in’ as much as we can and I end up a Mama in the Kitchen with no holiday.  But, I can’t complain!  We minimize allergies this way.

18. You cannot simply trust labels.  My son has even reacted to packaged Raw Vegan foods we have purchased while traveling to which, according to ingredients on labels, he isn’t allergic.

19. On every trip these past few months, my son has had some type of allergy, despite our efforts.  He has been very mucus-y on the plane home twice.

20. Raw Vegan food options are not always available when eating with family and friends…or they are harder to come by when traveling or sanitation is an issue in certain countries. When eating at mainstream restaurants or at people’s homes sometimes simply boiled, steamed or stir fried veggies are the best and only options.  In many health food stores in big cities, Raw Vegan Foods usually means a lot of packaged dehydrated foods… exactly the foods we try to avoid.

21. Raw Vegan food does not win over many people.  Some of my loved ones returned home to eat SPAM with white rice after a beautiful lunch at The Farm, Philippines.

22.  I, on the other hand, will have some type of food sensitivity after eating at a Raw Vegan restaurant: headaches, swelling or bloating from an excess of agave syrup, soy products, or nuts.

Juice Bars are worth it! Here in SAF London

23. To minimize allergies or sensitivities, we order simply at Raw Food Restaurants: an abundance of green juices (not smoothies) or simple Salads, and avoid other foods altogether (unless the server/chef can be 100% clear on the ingredients used).

The food was so delicious, I made sure I bought their cookbook as soon as we got home!

Food For Thought in Covent Garden will win over Omnivores anytime for taste and bang for buck! Just be prepared for small spaces and a communal-type feel.

24. Cooked Vegan foods, on the other hand, have been the best way for us to introduce family and friends to the Vegan diet. My mother gave us a cooked Vegan party when we visited her.  My friends thought they would have to lug their families to McDonald’s afterwards – but they admitted to loving the food by my Vegan Chef cousin!  They all had second helpings of the healthy mains and the desserts!  And no trip to McDonald’s afterwards!

I got an "That doesn't look very good at all!" comment for my salad here.

25. Prepare yourself for negative comments from loved ones about your food. Yes, even those who say they understand and would love to be Raw Vegan. I have had an ugly grimace directed at my food with a “I would NOT like to eat that!”, “is that all?”, “how do you get your protein?”, “yuck! how do you eat that!” And all in front of my son too, who takes it all in.

26. People somehow forget about your family’s diet and lifestyle choice, no matter how close they are to you.  I have had a platter of Steak placed under our noses blatantly at dinner with a smile and a “here, you will love this”; baked pastry treats full of syrup, butter and refined flour placed in front of my son while he, as most kids will, drools; salmon offered to us which they know was my son’s favourite fish before our kitchen turned Vegan.

27. The good outweigh the bad.  What is important is that we are surrounded by people we love and who love us back.

28. By the end of the trip, I am always itching to return to my own kitchen, I can’t wait to shop at my own local health food store and I can’t wait to eat healthier food.

29. After returning home, it is always just a little harder to get my son to eat as healthily as he used to.  And I am OK with this too because after traveling for the past 6 months, I know in a day or two, he’ll be asking for his fave smoothie and his fave kale salad!

30. And at the end of the day, I love what traveling does for our family.

Homemade Half-Raw, Half-Cooked “Happy Meals”

28 Jan

Our Homemade Happy Meal

We are part of a homeschool coop that meets once a week for a few hours, lunch included. There is one other Vegan family and another highly raw one too. It’s not like my son doesn’t have Vegan company in the lunchroom, but there are a lot of other eye-catching foods in the lunchroom too.

My son’s lunchbox doesn’t have cartoon characters on it. It doesn’t come out of a white paper bag that smells like something fried. Instead, it comes in a reusable container from my kitchen with clean food prepared and packed with love. The parents love it, but I have a feeling the kids don’t. I have a feeling it’s not so cool. My son has looked unhappily at it once or twice in the lunchroom and his grimace told me exactly what he thought of his lunch. “Eeeeewwww… is that all you have?” his face asked as he looked across the table with longing at the Goldfish crackers and a packaged fruit juice bottle with a lid shaped as a cartoon character. “Yup! That’s all we have!” I say, making a mental note to fix something more enticing next time.

So, what do I pack these days? The photo above shows our typical homemade half-raw, half-cooked “Happy Meal” for our homeschool coop days. It includes: my son’s fave Green Smoothie (hidden in a thermos so we don’t invite any comments – good or bad), fruit, raw green salad (in the photo, a radish, turnip, tomato and parsley salad*), baked veggies (in the photo, cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, sweet potatoes), turmeric spiced brown basmati rice and gluten-free muffins.

Although my son still looks at what his friends are eating, it seems to me there is less longing as he easily sips his fave smoothie, eats his baked sweet potato fries without question, asks for more oranges and carefully peels off his gluten-free muffin from the muffin cup. He looks around to see if anyone is watching. He has a treat today. I sigh. I am a relieved Mama. He is content with his homemade “Happy Meal”.

*Radish, Turnip, Tomato and Parsley Salad

A salad from what is left in the fridge can sometimes be one of the most surprisingly satisfying.  I don’t usually like turnips or radishes. I find them too spicy, but mixed with parsley and the right dressing… this makes the perfect winter salad… yum!

Mix together in a bowl:

a bunch of parsley, chopped

a bunch of turnips, peeled and chopped

a bunch of radish, chopped

a bunch of cherry tomatoes, halved

Toss with a vinaigrette (most of the time we prefer a 1:4 vinegar to oil ratio):

sea salt, to taste

oregano, to taste

lemon juice or red wine vinegar

extra virgin olive oil

Peace @ the Healthy Table: What Does It Take?

28 Jul

What happens when a Veggie marries an Omni? Peace or Burn-Out?

What Happens When A Veggie Marries An Omni?

I recently have met quite a few Vegan and Vegetarian women married to men who love their meat and processed foods.  The women joke that their hubbies eat these ‘on the side’.

Then Kids Come Along… and the dynamics drastically change…

Joy recently wrote to me: “how much I relate to so much of what you say. I am a raw foodie at heart stuck with a husband who loves soda, processed foods, pizza, candy, etc. He thinks he knows about healthy eating and argues with me on a regular basis regarding what we feed our kids 2 and 4. They are great eaters but definitely influenced by him and after almost five years, I’ve found myself exhausted and close to burn out.”

Exhausted and Burned Out Trying To Get The Family To Eat Healthy?

Yes, I’ve been there too!

I love nurturing the people I love through CLEAN, unprocessed food.  But, frankly, I sometimes want to quit and give up on days when my efforts are not appreciated or fail on the home front.  Sometimes I imagine just giving my family the typical SAD (Standard American Diet) Foods they would love to get their hands on. Wouldn’t I be more popular around here at meal times!?  Wouldn’t I have so much more time on my hands!?

But then I am reminded of why I do what I do in the first place and I look at how far we’ve come in the past 5 years.

Take Just One Step At A Time, Slowly Does It

Just 3 years ago, my husband and son were sick with a cough or cold every month.  This year alone, my husband has been sick only once.  My son twice (after choosing to eat overly processed foods).

3 years ago, my husband would have thought nothing about sharing a Krispy Kreme doughnut, corn syrup filled soda or dairy ice cream with our son with allergiesA few weeks ago, my husband and son sat down with me to write up and agree on a month’s worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack menus for them that are 50% raw vegan and 50% home cooked foods, which are mainly Vegan or Vegetarian!

5 years ago, I used to buy 7 gallons of bottled juices, the biggest package of hubby’s fave breakfast cereal, a few packages of junk food and about 14 pounds of animal products each week… for my husband alone! And not to even mention all the other refined foods: white flour, white sugar and some candy!  Today, I am buying my husband and son a cart full of fresh produce, whole grains to mill or sprout at home and about 3 pounds of animal products for them to share each week.  That is basically it.

Even When You Don’t Think You Are Making Progress… You Are!

Finding and creating balance is difficult when a health-conscious family wants to interact and be a part of the community obsessed with fast foods, meats and processed junk.

After a 4th of July celebration this year, I realized that in in promoting fruits, greens, unrefined and un-processed foods at home, I had inadvertently created a little processed food junkie who, when away from home, craves his white sugar/corn syrup rush and his fat high.  Admittedly, children will ‘test’ and want what they cannot always have. But there needs to be a balance so that depravity does not lead to such intense craving. So, at the request of my son, I baked Zucchini Bread almost every week since that party with the least refined Vegan ingredients.  My son exclaims almost every time he eats it, “Mama, I love this more than the cupcake at the party!”  Sure it isn’t raw, but the bread is full of zucchini – and that in itself has created my son’s new love for squash!

A few months ago, my son also announced: “No more Salads for me!  No more leafy greens!  Just smoothies!”  Instead of making it a big deal, I just served up green smoothies breakfast, lunch and dinner.  One day for lunch, I decided to make a big bowl of his old fave Kale Salad for dinner.  I was surprised when my son finished a big bowl quickly and quietly and said aloud, not to anyone in particular: “This was yummy!  This is the best salad!” Although technically, my son is still in his “no salad” stage, when I don’t make it a big deal, he will finish his fave bowl of greens.

As for my husband, he really loves his meat. I don’t want to deprive him. Nor do I want the topic of meals and food to be a thorn between us, when it should be something to enjoy together.  Considering he used to eat some animal product at every meal, a few times a week is such a positive change.  Processed foods, on the other hand, are foods I don’t wish to have at home.  If he chooses to eat some, he can do so elsewhere or I can try to create a better substitute.

What Does It Take To Make Peace @ My Table?

Perseverance.  Balance.  Determination.  Education.  Motivation.  Empowerment.  Compromise.  And, knowing that true permanent change comes slowly, one step at a time.

Are you a Veggie Lover married to an Omnivore Junkie?  What do you do to make peace at your table?

Similar Posts/Resources

Do We Have To Love What We Eat?

Free APP Gets Kids Excited About Eating Fruits and Veggies

How To Transition The Family Into More Raw Vegan Foods

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health

Top 10 Tips To Get Your Kids To Eat More Fruits And Veggies

Do We Have To Love What We Eat?

12 Jul
My son actually enjoying this salad!

In Ayurveda, they say that your mental state affects how your body digests food.  So, if a child doesn’t like veggies, forcing them to eat it will cause them to improperly break down their food and therefore cause toxins in the body.

But, my son has gladly eaten 2 big bags of Valentine’s candy and was ill for a month.  My son has also fought many times against our ‘veggies first’ rule, begrudgingly ate his very green salad and has become much healthier for it. Looking at the bigger picture, the chemicals contained in junk or fast foods cause consumers to have a high, cause them to crave these same foods and within weeks can wreak havoc on their healthy systems.  Cancer patients, though willing but who may not love the drastic change in diet, have cured themselves off cancer on Raw Vegan Foods.

Do we really have to love the food we eat? Compared to the quality of the food we eat, it can’t be as important, can it?

Should We Have Fun Now and Pay For It Later?

Some people may call me fanatical and extreme for being a Raw Vegan Mama.  For the past 2 1/2 years, I have been transitioning my hubby and son’s diet from a Cooked Meat-based one to a largely Plant-based diet that is high in Raw Vegan foods.  We hardly eat out.  I make most of our meals from scratch and have all the appliances I need to make it easy for me.  When my family does eat out, I secretly cringe when my hubby and son order Sweet Tea (corn syrup! yikes!), Shrimp Tempura (mercury! hydrogenated oil!), a Hamburger (not-organic meat! hormones! dioxins! cow poop!) or celebrate a friend’s birthday with a store-bought cupcake (GMOs, preservatives, artificial dyes, I give up!).

But here’s the thing: when my husband and I married, we vowed to work at being PHYSICALLY HEALTHY so that we could live a long life together.  I take this vow very seriously and now that we have a family,  I dream of a healthy and disease-free family too.  I honestly can’t sleep at night knowing I served my family foods that could potentially harm their future health.

Why Do I Believe In A Plant-Based Diet?

There are so many reasons (look under Research)!  Here are more reasons why:

  • Did you know that we can decrease our chances of cancer by 40%, heart disease by 50% and diabetes by 60% through a whole foods Vegetarian Diet? (from Kathy Freston’s Veganist)
  • A plant-based diet also reduces BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure and hypertension.
  • Did you know that Diabetes is on an upswing worldwide?  1/3 of the kids born after 2000 will get type 2 diabetes and it has been proven that it is preventable through diet and lifestyle.  Dr. Barnard has shown that beef and cheese are bigger insulin spikers than pasta and fish more than popcorn!  The Vegetarian Diet helps prevent diabetes!

My Solution

As a Mama in my kitchen, I have the power to influence what my family eats.  I am lucky that I am able to spend a big part of my day in the kitchen to create healthy, as un-processed as possible, tasty Plant-Based meals for my family.   Admittedly, I work hard at it because I want my family to enjoy and crave healthy food.

So, do we really have to love the food we eat?

Yes.  I want my family to love what I serve.  Isn’t it the only way to get them to come back for seconds?  And not only today, but tomorrow and the day after.

Q and A with Vegan Mama, Chef, Restauranteur and Author of Vegan Family Meals: Ann Gentry

6 Jul

As part of Ann Gentry‘s Blog Tour for her new book Vegan Family Meals, we have featured her delicious recipes (Garlic-Sesame Kale Chips and her My Niçoise Salad) with a raw twist here on Mama in the Kitchen.  In her professional life, she has been in the forefront of the Vegan and Green Food Movements: Ms. Gentry owns two Vegan restaurants, Real Food Daily in Santa Monica and Hollywood serving 100% Vegan foods, she hosts a cooking show, Naturally Delicious, she is the author of The Real Food Daily Cookbook and the executive chef to Vegetarian Times magazine. But what I really wanted to get to know was Ann Gentry, the Mama in her own Kitchen… so here is my interview with her, which I want to share with you.

Q&A with Ann Gentry

Carissa: As a Raw Vegan Mama today, I am only too aware of our culture that encourages an unhealthy lifestyle and the Standard American Diet.  How have you been able to bring your children up in a counter culture, being a Vegan chef, restauranteur, author and mother?  How have you created a family culture that allowed your children and husband to embrace the Vegan diet and lifestyle?

Ann: At my house, my kids are vegan.  At birthday parties, or other social occasions at their friend’s houses, they eat vegetarian.  We allow them to eat these “non-vegan” foods from time to time, NOT to supplement their vegan diet as there are no supplements to an already ideal diet, but rather allow them joy, comfort and participation in their childhood social settings. My kids get plenty of protein from beans, legumes, nuts and seeds and soy foods. I love it that they prefer non-dairy Cheeses to cow’s cheese any day.

Carissa: Have your children chosen to be Vegan themselves? 

Ann: I tell them they are in this family for a reason and eating a plant-based diet is one of them! My 12-year-old daughter early on understood the implications of an animal based diet and was perplexed as to how people could live in this world, eating animals while having others as pets.

Carissa: What are (or have been) your family’s top favourite Vegan meals?

Ann: Nachos – corn chip with black beans and my cashew cheese.  Recipe in Vegan Family Meals on page 57.  Tacos and enchiladas made with beans. Mac ‘n’ Cheez – I worked so hard to perfect this recipe for Vegan Family Meals.  The joke around my house is everyone is burnt out eating it.  Recipe on page 152 called Baked penne and cauliflower w/ Cheesy Sauce.   Right now, both kids are eating the Acai Bowl with My Super Hippie Granola everyday.  The granola is also a dish that both kids love to help make.  See first recipes in the book.

Carissa: At your restaurants, what are the favorite dishes that non-Vegan patrons order?

Ann: Most people eating at Real Food Daily are not vegans or vegetarians, instead they are health minded eaters who are looking for clean delicious tasting food served to them in a clean and stylish ambiance with friendly educated service. Everyone has the same favorites, to name a few: the daily specials and soups, all the hot entrees are popular, The Club Sandwich, our burger w/ the Works.

Carissa: I am all for ‘un-processing‘ my family’s food and making everything from scratch, so many Vegan ready-made products are not something I would readily buy.  My boys still crave their meat and don’t like beans at all, what dishes would you recommend a Vegan Mama prepare to help her family transition to a more Vegan diet?

Ann: In the world of plant proteins besides beans, there are the soy products such as seitan also called wheat-meat, tempeh and tofu.  These foods can be made into tasty dishes using condiments that bring texture and flavor to them.  I too stay away from the overly processed faux meats.  I find my kids will eat soy-based dishes such as Frittata on page 17.  The texture is creamy and pleasurable.  Also, nuts and seeds are great sources for protein.

One simple thing that has worked for me is always having one consistent dish on the table.  This is one way I’ve introduced new foods or dishes.  Right now, I always place a bowl of steamed brown rice on the table. This is the fall back to peaky eaters. If they don’t like what I’ve prepared, then they can eat the rice.  This is not a punishment, I just tell my kids our home is not a restaurant, if they don’t like the foods I prepared then their other choice is the rice.   So, you might try new foods you want to introduce using this method.  It has worked for me as my kids love brown rice.  In fact, it is now time to change the consistent dish on my dinner table to something new.

Carissa: I am a Raw Vegan Mama and wonder do you have any favourite Raw Vegan Foods?

Ann: I appreciate living foods and on occasion really enjoy them as a meal. My all time favorite is Lydia’s Luna Nori Crackers.  Not only are they raw and vegan but they are gluten free too.  I love these, so satisfying, great with any spread or dip.

Carissa: Thank you Ms. Gentry!  I very much appreciate your time and your generosity in sharing your wonderful Vegan tips with all of us!

Raw Applesauce for Vegan Baking

10 Jun

Raw Applesauce

Ariel asked “Do you think raw applesauce will work as well as regular applesauce as a substitute for butter in baking?”

Ariel, good news! Raw applesauce does WORK as a substitute for oils in quick bread recipes. As an experiment, I baked Vegan Blueberry Muffins and Vegan Zucchini Bread this morning with raw applesauce. I got excellent results! We have company today and the 12 pieces of Blueberry Muffins are already gone and only half of the Zucchini Bread is left. Not only did I have the chance to tell everyone about Vegan foods, but what a great way to further Un-Process our food!

Note: I just pureed unpeeled raw apples without honey or seasonings. You can add another sweetener if you prefer, but honey denatures at around 120F to 140F. Also, check your quick breads 5 minutes before the specified finish time. I found my muffins and breads were baked quicker than usual.

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Vegan Zucchini Bread

Asparagus with Balsamic Vinaigrette

6 Apr

Asparagus

 

One of the best things about spring… ASPARAGUS!  Asparagus is full of antioxidants and an excellent source of vitamin K, folate, vitamin C and A.  It also has significant amounts of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, phosphorus, potassium, fiber, manganese, copper and protein.

We love asparagus at our house. Recently, after not having asparagus for a while, I served some for dinner.  We have a rule that everyone has to have greens at each meal, which isn’t so popular with my son all the time.  But after a few bites of Asparagus with Balasamic Vinaigrette, he exclaimed: “Mama, I didn’t know asparagus was so yummy!  I love this!” He ate a whole bowlful.

But like artichokes, my family and I (yes, even a die-hard raw foodie like myself) prefer the taste of artichokes and asparagus when slightly cooked.

Here is a very simple way to serve steamed asparagus:

Lightly steam for 5 – 10 minutes:

2 pounds asparagus, bottom inch or so trimmed where tough and stringy, cut into 1 inch pieces or keep whole

Dress with balsamic vinaigrette:

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 tsp sea salt, or to taste

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbpns balsamic vinegar

4 tbspns extra virgin olive oil

Serve warm or cold the next day.  Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, if desired.