Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Carrot Juice

About four months ago I bought some carrot juice, assuming I wouldn't like it. Not to be a pessimist, but I thought it would be a little over-the-top for me, so I bought it for my husband. Plus, I'd never been much a juice drinker. I always figured, why drink calories I could eat instead?

My first sip was just okay. I thought, "Okay, I can finish this, but it's just so-so." Then something happened. I realized it tasted creamy?! At first I thought it was because I hadn't had cream or milk in a while, but then I realized it just tastes that way! After that first cup, I was hooked.

I've tried some different brands, but Bolthouse Farms is my favorite. I love to drink it mid-afternoon or after a long workout. Here are the stats of a glass of their yummy carrot juice. That's a whole lot of Vitamin A and C!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Sweet Potato Black Bean Soup

I'm sure I'm not the only one who thoroughly enjoyed the culinary treats of the holiday last week, but is looking forward to a simple meal that leaves you feeling nourished instead of stuffed! I love this everyday soup because I usually already have all the ingredients in the pantry and it's quick and nutritious!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Soup

1 quart of vegetable broth
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cans black beans, but DO NOT drain
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
Tabasco (3 to 4 drops, or to taste)

Saute onion, celery and garlic in a small amount of vegetable broth until softened, about five minutes. Add remaining broth, beans and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Cook briefly, then add sweet potato and season with salt, pepper, Tabasco (if you choose). Cook 20 minutes, until potato is soft.

That's it, folks! I have to say, I've made this soup for years and it's always the one my Dad asks for :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What the BULK!?!?!

Welcome back to What the Bulk Tuesday! Today the bulk item I'll be featuring is the beautiful French green lentil. Lentils are one of my favorite things because they are so darn flavorful, even with nothing added to them! Ever cook up lentils in just a little vegetable broth? I highly recommend it. I cook up a batch once a week and we can eat them over rice, plain, thrown onto a salad, etc. This recipe is for a nice little lentil walnut salad, that can be eaten on its own or over salad greens.

Lentil Walnut Salad

1/2 cup French green lentils, rinsed and picked through
2 T walnut oil
1 T sherry vinegar
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup chives (use the fresh stuff, peeps!)

In a 2-quart saucepan, place lentils and enough water to cover by 1 inch; heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20-25 minutes or until lentils are just tender. Drain; set aside.

In bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, and 1/2 tsp salt. Add lentils, walnuts and chives; toss to combine.

That's it! :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Clean Food by: Terry Walters - Dark Leafy Greens

A lot of my favorite recipes come from Terry's book "Clean Food." Her Energy Squares have become a staple in our pantry to satisfy my sweet tooth! Here she is talking about the importance of dark leafy greens, a nutritional powerhouse!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bulgur Walnut Loaf

Next week is one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving! No other holiday is more fun for foodies. It will be extra special this year because we'll have a dining room filled with family from afar. One of my cousins attending (who just happens to be an amazing musician...concert after dessert?) will be making a turkey for half the group. The other half (4 of us! Not just veganmama!) will be forgoing meat as our main entree. And I promise you, those forgoing the meat will NOT miss it. I'll be cooking up a feast for the senses! One of the dishes is this bulgur walnut loaf, which beautifully compliments vegetarian side dishes.

Bulgur Walnut Loaf

1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup uncooked bulgur
2 T olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 T chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups finely chopped carrots
1/3 cup barley miso (at Whole Foods) diluted in 1/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp dried thyme or 2 t fresh
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried sunflower seeds
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup unbleached white flour

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the bulgur. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, for ten minutes, or until the water is absorbed.

In a medium-sized skillet, heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic about five minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots and simmer for three minutes. Stir in the diluted miso and add the thyme. In a blender or food processor, grind the walnuts and seeds to a medium yummy pulp!

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the cooked bulgur, carrot mixture, ground walnuts and seeds, and both flours and mix together well. Pat the mix into an oiled 9 inch loaf pan and bake one hour. Cool before slicing.

*Top with vegan gravy!

What the BULK!?!?!

Welcome back to What the Bulk Tuesday! Each week I post one of these updates I can't believe a whole week has already gone by. This week I'll be sharing a little secret with you...I used to not be a fan of couscous. I know, I know, who doesn't like couscous? It has a cute name, it's good for you and it's a cinch to prepare. It wasn't until I tried WHOLE WHEAT couscous that I fell for it. And I didn't just fall for it, I fell in love. Here's why: It's super cheap ($3.19 a pound, which lasts a while!), it takes ONE minute to cook (hello!) and it's a perfect addition to a meal. Want a fun breakfast? Serve it warm and drizzle with a little maple syrup, cinnamon and dried fruit. A simple lunch? Add it to your tomato soup! Want to stretch a meal? Add it to some roasted vegetables already in your fridge to give the meal more substance. I buy the WHOLE WHEAT variety at Whole Foods (pictured above) and keep a jar of it in the pantry. The boxed white couscous you find at the market is okay...but why not go whole grain and forgo the added sodium of the boxed variety? Cousin Patricia, walk on down to your swank Manhattan Whole Foods and hook yourself up :)

My "recipe"

1 1/2 cups water (or veg. broth)
1 cup whole wheat couscous

Boil water and cook the couscous for one minute.

Turn off the heat and let it rest, covered, for 5.

Fluff with a fork.

That's it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)

Broccoli Rabe: Don’t let it scare you! It's not only a cool-sounding side dish at your favorite restaurant. It's a perfectly easy dish for you to prepare at home!

Sauteed broccoli rabe with olive oil and toasted pine nuts (modified from the book “The Vegan Table” by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

2 T pine nuts

2 pounds broccoli rabe, thick stems trimmed 1 inch from the bottom

2 T olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (to give it a KICK! optional)

salt, to taste

juice from ½ lemon, lime or orange (use the fresh stuff!)

Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden grown, tossing occasionally. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, add about 2 inches of water to a medium sauce pan. Bring it to a boil. Place the washed broccoli rabe in a colander and place it over the steaming water. Rest a large lid ove the whole thing to let the rabe steam for about 3 minutes. Then, immediately plunge the greens into a bowl of ice water. Let it rest in the ice water for about 2 minutes, then drain (don’t skip this step! It keeps the rabe nice and bright green!)

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm your oil. Add garlic and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add drained rabe, pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Saute about 5 minutes, until it’s tender, but still a little firm. Before serving, sprinkle with nuts and squeeze on the lemon juice.

A terrific side dish! Bitter, savory and crazy good for YOU! Rapini is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Quinoa: 101

When I saw this video, I thought, " readers should know this." This woman shares some valuable information. And you'll be more prepared for making "What the Bulk?!?!?" recipes! Enjoy, and have a happy and healthy weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kabocha Squash totally rocks!

I mentioned before that this is the season I'm going to try all the funky squashes out there at the markets. Have you tried Kabocha Squash? Oooh, it's good. Good like you want to roast the whole thing and eat it all up in one sitting good. I found this recipe from and wanted to share:

Sweet and spicy roasted kabocha squash

  • 1/2 small to medium sized kabocha squash
  • 3 Tbs light brown, natural cane, or muscovado sugar, plus a bit more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper or hot chili powder, more or less to taste (hot! yum!)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • Oil for drizzling - pumpkin seed oil is preferred, or use toasted sesame oil, argan oil, or walnut oil (see notes)

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F. Line a baking sheet or two with silicon baking liner or parchment paper.

De-seed and cut the squash into slices about 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch thick. (Use a sturdy knife for cutting squash or pumpkin, on a stable surface, and be careful!)

Combine all the dry ingredients. Toss the squash slices in this until coated thoroughly. Add the soy sauce and toss well again.

Spread the slices in a singler layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle over them with the oil, and optionally sprinkle more sugar on them. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn over, drizzle with more oil and sprinkle more sugar, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

*Make sure you let me know if you make this!*

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Black Bean Lettuce Bundles

Last week I had the enormous pleasure of helping Karen Ring, the "Healthy Eating Specialist" at the Bellingham, MA Whole Foods teach a class on packing a healthy lunchbox. We focused on presenting the kids (and moms!) who came to the class with delicious and FUN options for lunch. When I'm packing a lunch for my kids, I try to focus on something substantial, something creamy, something crunchy and something sweet. One of my personal favorites is one of the "Health Starts Here" recipes from Whole Foods: The Black Bean Lettuce Bundle, which serves 4, or one hungry Veganmama. They are sort of a Mexican-inspired lettuce wrap. ENJOY!

2 cups cooked no-salt-added black beans
1/2 large avocado, mashed
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 T fresh lime juice
1 tsp. cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup mild low-sodium salsa
8 large romaine lettuce leaves

Mash beans and avocado together with a fork. Mix all remaining ingredients, except lettuce. Place approximately 1/4 cup of filling in the center of each lettuce leaf and roll up like a tortilla.

What kid wouldn't like this instead of the old PBJ standby?

Monday, November 7, 2011

What the BULK!?!?!

Welcome back to another What the BULK!?!?! post, where I take the mystery out of cooking the bulk grains you find at your favorite market. This week's bulk is Israeli couscous, which looks like little pasta balls. This is a very simple side dish that is surprisingly savory and takes just minutes to prepare. How great is that? Don't be scared off by it looking bland, it's really not. The garlic and the broth really give it great flavor!

Couscous with Golden Raisins

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 cups Israeli couscous
One 14 ounce can vegetable broth
2/3 cup golden raisins

1. In a saucepan, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and the couscous and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer until the broth has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the raisins.

That's it! I like to serve this with a side of bitter greens and roasted squash. A perfect fall dinner.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Before I went vegan, I didn't understand why so many people went nuts for smoothies. A simple Google of "vegan smoothies" will result in videos, images and recipes for more smoothies than you could imagine! And not just a wide variety of tastes, but a wide variety of colors and pronouncements of health. I sort of considered smoothies calorie dense sweet treats and didn't give them much thought. Why bother, when I was still eating icecream and frozen yogurt? Well, here's why you should bother (you knew it was coming!)...They take 5 minutes to make, they are super good for you and you can make them as thick as those Blizzards you enjoyed as a kid.

My daughter enjoys routine and each day after school looks forward to a snack that will fill her up, but also satisfy her hunger (and sweet tooth) until dinnertime. Often kids have after school activities that require a nice dose of protein to feel full. Knowing that I was interested in trying to make smoothies, my husband surprised me with a Ninja "Warrier" kitchen tool. I was a little skeptical that I would need something so odd sounding to make a smoothie (wasn't my blender good enough?), but I LOVE the thing because it's very powerful for crushing ice. Sure, the Vitamixer is the best of them all, but I'd never complain about my Ninja! Soon enough, I was making my daughter and I a smoothie every afternoon after school. Because the options are endless, we haven't grown tired of them! I kid you not, when I whip one up, it tastes like the best homemade icecream and is completely dairy free, with no added sugar. And after you eat it you don't feel bloated or tired. The image above is one of my typical blends, consisting of almond milk, ice, a frozen banana, a handful of berries and topped with granola. That's it! Are you more a chocolate person? Do you realize you can use unsweetened cocoa powder (yes, the baking cocoa powder from the market) and it adds all the chocolate flavor without any sugar? When I figured that out I felt like I had hit the lottery. Chocolate, peanut butter banana smoothie? OKAY!

Here are a few options we love:

Start with a few ice cubes (say, 4 or 5)

Use about a cup of non-dairy milk (we love unsweetened almond). More or less, you decide.

Add a frozen banana (peel them and THEN freeze them in a zip-lock bag...keep a stash on hand!)

Then, have fun: add some frozen or fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mangos, peaches)

Want it chocolatey? Add about 2 T cocoa powder (the unsweetened stuff). Chocolate goes best with raspberry, banana or strawberry.

Whirl it up and enjoy! We like ours really thick, but you can adjust to taste.

Want an extra dose of vitamins that the kids (and you) will NOT taste? Add a cup of baby spinach (fresh). It's especially yummy mixed with berries. We did this "Shrek" drink on Halloween, a simple blend of spinach, berries and almond milk. Sounds gross, but tastes great.

You can also jazz it up with a teaspoon of chia seeds or ground flax.

A lot of recipes call or a date or two thrown in for sweetness. I find mine sweet enough as is.

And last but not least, if you like a little crunch on top, add some granola (we love Bare Naked)! Later this week we'll film ourselves making one, so keep an eye out for a fun video!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Women and Heart Disease

Heart disease is something that needs even more attention than it already gets. I'm here not so much to promote a vegan diet, but to promote eating in the most heart-healthy way (which I personally believe is a plant-strong diet). That said, I feel we all need reminders of the importance of taking care of our hearts, especially women. I think it's easy to forget it's the number one cause of death for women. And with the weight issues of children today, it's certainly going to be present in the next generation. Doesn't that just pain you? Here is a video I found that gives some statistics of heart disease and women.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The 16th Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival

John and I enjoyed experiencing our first "foodie" fair this past weekend, visiting Boston for the 16th annual Boston vegetarian food festival, brought to you by these lovely people: Can you see how excited I am in the picture? The festival hosted everyone from natural food vendors, authors and magazines. There were artists selling organic t-shirts and bags, where I picked up a cool t-shirt! I won't lie, it was very crowded and most of the vendors were short on space, but the sight of so many like-minded folks in one big room was awesome. I think I was smiling the entire morning. Are you familiar with Cafe Indigo? They make a FABULOUS vegan carrot cake that is so special Whole Foods carries it in their Bellingham bakery. Stop by and visit them if you're heading up North to ski this winter. Can you believe how beautiful some of the desserts were? I tend to focus on the sweet stuff around here, but there were lots of great savory choices for lunch. John had a big Carribean plate for lunch including plantains, some crazy cool cabbage thing and some bbq tofu. I had a plate of brown rice, southern-style bitter greens and baked tempeh. Did I mention almost every table had free samples? We tried everything from different organic chocolates to a whole table of hummus! We tasted sunflower butter, funky energy bars, sunflower milk (who knew?), soymilks, almond milks, vegan cheese and a assortment of other tasty treats. Here are some shots of the day, which do it no justice!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Whole Foods' Pillars of HEALTH

As you can imagine, I'm a fan of the store Whole Foods. I get about 25% of my groceries from them. Not so much because of cost, but because of distance (when oh when will they ever open a store in Mansfield, MA? PLEASE?) I love their bulk items and the whole vibe of the store. One of the things that impresses me the most is that they've come out with what they refer to as the "Pillars of Health." In fact, they are printed on their re-usable shopping bags if you ever forget them!

1. Eat WHOLE foods: This makes so much sense, and I find kids really get this one! It’s about eating real food, peeps! Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, soy…not something made in a factory filled with scary ingredients you can’t pronounce.

2. Eat a PLANT STRONG (a.k.a. vegan!) diet. I find it amazing and exciting that Whole Foods came out and made this statement. In fact, their whole “Health Starts Here” campaign is based on this principle. Have you noticed the Health Starts Here recipes on their web site? Check it out!

3. Eat NUTRIENT DENSE foods. Whole Foods says, “Choose foods that are rich in micronutrients when compared to their total caloric content. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. For guidance on this, look for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scoring system in our stores.” The whole ANDI scoring system is so cool I'll be writing a separate post about it!

4. Eat HEALTHY FATS : Whole Foods says , “Get healthy fats from whole plant sources, such as nuts, seeds and avocados. These foods are rich in micronutrients as well. Work to eliminate (or minimize) extracted oils and processed fats.” I get it, we all crave something fatty, but once you switch over to treats like nuts, your taste buds change.