Monday, December 10, 2012

Cool Stuff At Trader Joe's

If you've been following me a while you know I love a smoothie in the afternoon. Even when it's cold outside (and it certainly is in New England!) I still try to make one each day. It's a fun snack and a nice way to get a good dose of nutrients.

My daughter's favorite smoothies are tropical: a mix of ice, frozen banana, frozen pineapple and frozen mango. Trader Joe's sells a good assortment of frozen fruits for cheap! Hurray!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Being Kind to Ourselves During the Holidays

Raise your hand (or glass!) if you can't believe it's already December. Maybe it's part of being a busy mom, but once Halloween ends, I feel like I blink and it's Christmas!

One of the great joys of the holidays is the food with make, share and eat with friends and family. Ask most people about their happiest moments in life and I'm guessing they'll say it was time spent sharing meals with loved ones. Food is one of life's greatest pleasures, and when we remember to savor our meals with a spirit of gratitude, there are few things better!

One of my pet peeves this time of year is listening to the media pushing sweets, rich foods (all good things in moderation, I really mean that!), but then quickly turning to "diet this, diet that" on January 1st. The old "I'm going to lose weight" New Year's Resolution is so boring to me.  Of course I'm a big proponent of taking great care of your health and often shedding a few pounds is a side effect of that, but it bums me out that people are focused on the negative. The weight. Focusing on what we don't love about ourselves. A "why did I eat that?" mentality.

It's too bad because negativity like that can rob us of an otherwise joyful experience.

So, this season, I say, why not choose self love? Yeah, yeah, I know I sound like a hippie (which I proudly am!), but I'm serious. Yes, you might gain a couple of pounds eating rich yummy foods this season, but instead of punishing yourself and setting yourself up for disappointment, just enjoy the holiday because you're lucky to be alive and lucky to be in the company of loved ones.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Did you miss me last week? What can I say? It's a very busy (but fun!) time of year!

Breakfast, I'm sure you're shocked, was the same old yummy bowl of Shredded Wheat, oats and Uncle Sam cereal topped with red grapes and banana. I love it so much it never gets boring!

Snack was a scoop of store-bought red pepper hummus with vegetables.

Lunch was a head of romaine lettuce, baby carrots, mushrooms, sliced Trader Joe's marinated tofu, Whole Foods "Health Starts Here" salad dressing and raw sesame seeds!

Dinner was some rice pilaf, Greek baby lima beans, sauteed cabbage with carmelized onions (yum!!) and roasted buttercup squash.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cool Stuff At Trader Joe's

Carrot juice! In the past, I really didn't get it, but one day I had a glass and it quickly became one of my favorite drinks. Trader Joe's carrot juice is great because for $3.89 you can get a large-sized bottle of organic juice that will last you the whole week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Welcome back to What I Ate Wednesday, where we take a look at what I've been up to in the kitchen!
 I can't believe tomorrow is already Thanksgiving? Where does the time go?

Breakfast was the same sort of thing I love every morning: old fashioned oats and grapenuts mixed with raisins, walnuts and bananas topped with vanilla soymilk. Delicious and very filling!

Lunch was a big old yummy apple and this simple salad of baby spinach, carrots and tahini dressing. The crackers are Finn Crisp Rosemary. A lot of flavor and crunch in a simple cracker!

My afternoon snack was a frozen banana chocolate smoothie topped with walnuts. If you can't tell, I love all nuts, but especially walnuts. Remember, although nuts are calorically dense, they are an excellent snack and source of healthy fats.

Dinner was a big portion of kale chips (love them!) topped with a little sea salt, roasted carrots and yellow beets and a couple of quinoa cakes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cool Stuff At Trader Joe's

Now that Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away (how did THAT happen?), it's time to stock up on yummy beverages for the holiday, right? I mean, not only is it going to be a beautiful holiday, but the Patriots play Thanksgiving night!

The last time I went to the Patriot Place Trader Joe's, I was excited to see this big display of Smuttynose Beer.

I never went for flavored beers, but this is the year of loving pumpkin ale. There are fewer things better than a tall cold pint of pumpkin ale with a sugared rim.

Smuttynose makes an excellent IPA as well!

Friday, November 16, 2012

How to Slice a Pomegranate

My favorite season? Fall. Why? Lots of reasons why, but the foodie reason is because of the huge shipments of POM pomegranates that show up at the grocery stores this time of year. Quick tip: buy a whole bunch of them and keep them in the fridge, as they store well for about three months!

My mom introduced us to eating pomegrantes when we were kids, and they've remained one of my top five favorite foods since! (yes, chocolate is there as well)

Since I'm verbal about my love of this amazing fruit, people often come to me for pomegranate advice! One of the questions people ask is, "How do I pick a good one?" There are a couple of things to consider. First, I pretty much only get the ones with the little POM sticker on them. They're usually $2.00 to $2.50 each. I've been known to buy 20 at once. Yep, you heard that right! Another thing to consider is the weight. The juicier the fruit, the heavier it will be. I also look for a nice dark red, fresh looking fruit.

If you've even cut into a pomegranate, you know they produce a lot of dark red juice that can stain your fingers, nails, kitchen walls (!), etc. Here are some pictures I took showing what I believe to be the best and cleanest way to cut into it:

Slice off the top and the bottom (the top is the stem side)

Very lightly score around the fruit, without puncturing the seeds.

Then lightly score around the diameter.

Voila! It's ready to eat! (yes, I am wearing gloves!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Welcome back to What I Ate Wednesday! If you're a regular here at veganmama, you may have noticed that I've switched over to a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule. I'm hoping this keeps everyone hungry (ha, ha) for more :)

Breakfast will always be my favorite meal of the day. I got a little heavy handed with the soymilk, almost entirely covering the cereal, but here is a bowl of Grape Nuts mixed with old fashioned oats, raisins, walnuts and flax seed. I topped it with banana slices. I could never get through my morning without a substantial bowl of cereal and fruit!

Lunch was a plate of hummus, carrots, pita chips an a sliced raw zucchini. Might sound strange, but raw zucchini is really good this way.

Snack was the usual chocolate/banana/almond milk/ice smoothie, but this time I jazzed it up with some hemp seeds.

You can find these raw shelled hemp seeds at Whole Foods or right here on veganmama!

Dinner felt very seasonal! Kale chips, curried potato and chick peas over brown rice, and roasted buttercup squash topped with apricot honey glaze (from Stonewall Kitchen, thanks Mom!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cool Stuff At Trader Joe's

Full disclosure, I haven't yet tried this Trader Joe's product, but I really like the look of it as a hostess gift, a small girlfriend gift or a stocking stuffer...

Figs are such an elegant fruit. I'd probably serve it on a rosemary cracker to have a nice salty/savory/sweet combo.  Or maybe just bread it on a hearty piece of toasted wheat bread? Any ideas? Has anyone tried it?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Good Thanksgiving Gingerbread Recipe!

This post is a re-post of one of my favorite vegan treats, Oh She Glows' Frosted Gingerbread, originally posted here.

One of the best vegan blogs is my personal favorite, I depend on her blog for inspiration and fool-proof recipes. That's one of the best parts of cooking blogs: the blogger (usually!) has tried the recipe a few times and only recommends what works. And I love passing along to my readers easy, sensible recipes that work!

Adapted from Fat Free Vegan.

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (or canola), softened (a little pricey, but worth it)
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • Chia egg (1 tbsp chia + 3 tbsp water) (I did the same, but with ground flax seed)
  • 1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (OR 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ginger)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 th tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a regular sized loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly oil on top. Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for about 10-12 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and set aside. Combine the following ingredients (pumpkin, maple syrup, sugar, coconut oil, molasses, chia egg) in a medium-sized mixing bowl and blend well. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and stir well. Stir in the toasted nuts. Pour the batter into the pan, smooth out with wet spoon, and bake for 50-60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing from pan. While it is baking, make your spiced buttercream frosting (see below). Serves eight 1-inch slices.

Spiced Buttercream Frosting

Buttery, sweet, fluffy, spicy…and vegan to boot! The perfect Fall-spiced frosting.
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance Butter Stick, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup icing sugar (aka: confectioner’s sugar)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (yes, a full tablespoon!)
  • 1 tbsp almond milk (as needed to thin out to desired consistency)
Directions: Whip the Earth Balance with a mixer until smooth. Now add half of the icing sugar and blend well, stopping to scrape the side of bowl as needed. Now add in the vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and almond milk (if needed). Mix well. Add in the remaining icing sugar and blend for several minutes, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. Once the Gingerbread has fully cooled, spread on the icing using a wet spatula.

Veganmama note: this frosting is the bomb, and I'm not a frosting lover.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Theo Chocolate

One of the vendors I was excited to see at the Boston Vegetarian Society Festival was Theo Chocolate. Have you tried it? You can find it at Whole Foods, or order it directly from their website.

I picked up a couple of bars at the festival, including their sea salt 70% dark, which I HIGHLY recommend!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What the bulk?!? Quinoa Salad

 Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad Recipe

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 can garbanzo beans, or dried equivalent
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
Tahini Dressing:
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1/4 cup tahini
Zest of one lemon
scant 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa and water until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when you can see the curlique in each grain, and it is tender with a bit of pop to each bite. Drain any extra water and set aside.
While the quinoa is cooking make the dressing. Whisk together the garlic, tahini, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Add the hot water to thin a bit and then the salt.
Toss the cooked quinoa, beans, cilantro, red onion, and half of the dressing. Add more dressing if you like and season with more salt to taste. Serve garnished with a bit of cilantro.
Serves 4.

From the site:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cool Stuff at Trader Joe's

Since everyone pretty much loves Trader Joe's, I like to share some of my favorite products every Monday. Some I have tried, some I'm hoping to try soon :)

This I have tried and it's a nice pantry staple to have on hand, especially this time of year. I like to serve it with roasted vegetables and some freshly made cranberry sauce. The baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa give it a nice nutritional kick!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Boston Vegetarian Society Festival

Last Saturday I attended the Boston Vegetarian Society Festival in Boston and got to talk to some great vendors.

This company, Biena, makes a delicious roasted chickpea snack, sold for $3.00 a bag, which seemed reasonable. The chickpeas can be eaten right out of the bag as a snack in their own right, or tossed in a salad as a crunchy topping!

From their site:

Biena Roasted Chickpeas are available in 3 delicious flavors:

Cinnamon Maple: Bold Vietnamese Cinnamon, a touch of Pure Maple Syrup and Evaporated Cane Juice. They’re sweet enough to satisfy those sweet cravings, without being too sweet. Ingredients & Nutrition Facts

Lime & Chili: Tangy, real lime with a spicy chili blend made from ancho chilis and cayenne pepper. It’s a bold flavor with a spicy chili kick that builds over time. Ingredients & Nutrition Facts

Sea Salt: Lightly dusted with sea salt harvested from the Atlantic Ocean. The original crunchy roasted chickpea snack that started our brand! Ingredients & Nutrition Facts

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chocolate Protein Powder

If you've been following me or a while, you know I like to have a smoothie most afternoons between lunch and dinner. Part of it is my sweet tooth, the fact that I get hungry around 3:00, and they are just fun!

Life's short. If I can have a snack that is about 200 calories and tastes like a frappe, I'm IN! And I love that I can switch them up by just using different fruit, vegetables, nut butters, etc.

My favorite line of protein powders are "Life's Basics" which you can order right here from the site. They are affordable and last about a month if you're having one every afternoon like me! I recently had a friend show me how to add these live links to my blog to make shopping easier for my readers. I hope you like it!

And if you're looking for a good smoothie maker, I really love my Ninja Professional blender. It takes about one minute to make a perfect, thick smoothie (I like them thick to eat with a spoon!) It is completely worth the money, as I also use it for soups, dressing, etc. It really does the trick for basic smoothie making!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Welcome back to What I Ate Wednesday, where we take a quick peak at what I've been up to in the kitchen.

Breakfast was simple and quick. Just a bowl of these brown rice crisps topped with a banana, some walnuts and some snappy grapes, of course!

Lunch was perfect for a post hurricane warm up :) A bowl of stewed curried lentils and tomatoes with a really delicious apple. I swear I could eat these local apples three times a day.  I love making stews or soups like this and serving them over a big bowl of brown rice, cous cous, farro or quinoa. It stretches out your soup and it also gives it that extra nutritional kick!

My homemade kombucha tea is the greatest drink to have at lunch. I'm so happy one of my dear readers shared her starter with me! I make it with rooibos tea, so it has a nice sweet taste.

Snack was the usual! A chocolate protein powder smoothie made with almond milk, ice, a scoop of powder and half a frozen banana. Topped with cacao nibs, peanuts and some chocolate chips for good measure.

Dinner was some steamed broccoli, orange chicken Gardien and garlic brown rice. Yum!

I don't usually go for the old cooked rice in a bag thing. However, this is simple enough for my nine-year-old to make for himself if I'm not home, so I picked it up at Target. It's actually not bad!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 Boston Vegetarian Society Festival

Saturday I attended (my second) Boston Vegetarian Society Festival. It's a very popular event (i.e. super crowded!) held in a college gymnasium. The event draws people from all over New England, excited to hear speakers, meet cookbook authors, mingle with food/clothing vendors and sample lots of food and drink samples.

One of the vendors I like is the Herbivore Clothing Company. I didn't get a t-shirt this year, but if you've seen me wearing a "I'm vegan and I love you" shirt, this is where I got it last year!

Check out their site for unique and cool holiday gifts!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cool Stuff At Trader Joe's

In celebration of the opening of the Foxboro, MA Trader Joe's (hurray!), every Monday morning I am featuring a Trader Joe's product I like.

This is part of makes Trader Joe's so much fun - all the wacky snacks they carry. However, don't kid yourself and think you can eat just a small handful of these puppies. You WILL eat the entire bag :) Perfect with a wheat beer, in my humble opinion :)

Enjoy your Monday, everyone! And for those of you affected by the storm, be safe!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

How about a great recipe for a delicious pumpkin black bean soup? This is easy, freezes well, and with the addition of the spices, has a different flavor.

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (16 ounces) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 T olive oil (or less)
4 cups vegt. broth
1 T cumin
1 tsp. each kosher salt, cinnamon, allspice
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
3 T balsamic vinegar
Baked pumpkin seeds for garnish

1. place oil, red onion, garlic and seasonings in a large pot.
2. cook on low-medium heat until red onion and garlic brown.
3. puree the beans and tomatoes with half of the veg. broth. Add pureed ingredients, pumpkin and rest of broth to your pot.
4. simmer uncovered until thick, about 45 minutes. Before serving, stir in vinegar. Garnish with baked pumpkin seeds.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Books I Recommend

It's Fall in New England, so tis the season to curl up at night and read a good wellness book, right?

Right? :)

Here are my favorite five:

1. The China Study by T. Colin Cambell
2. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn
3. Veganist by Kathy Freston

4. The Engine Two Diet by Rip Esselstyn
5. Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman

There is also a wealth of information on the web, of course, but these are my tried-and-true books.
The first two are particularly compelling because they are science-based, which is important. It's very hard to deny the benefits of a healthy diet when you see numbers.

And by numbers, I'm not talking about weight, I'm talking about diet as a tool to prevent or reverse the big three diseases in our country: heart disease, cancer and stroke. Very compelling reads!

So treat yourself to a good read that could change your life!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Welcome back to What I Ate Wednesday!

Breakfast tasted better than it looks (I know, I know, sometimes soymilk just doesn't photograph well, does it?) This was a mix of old-fashioned oats, grapenuts, walnuts, flaxseed, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds, topped with half a sliced banana.

Lunch was a roasted butternut squash, carrot curry soup with an apple :) Have you noticed how amazing the New England apples are tasting right now?  Cortland, Honey Crisp, Empire and Macs. Yum!

Snack was the usual smoothie. This one is a scoop of chocolate plant-based protein powder, half a frozen banana, ice, almond milk and a sprinkle of cacao beans on top.

For dinner I made a big pot of brown rice and then topped it with this simple pre-made Indian dish.