Friday, March 30, 2012

What in the world is...phytonutrients

I've been doing a lot of reading lately about healthy eating/living and one of the words that keeps popping up is PHYTONUTRIENTS. So, what in the world does THAT mean, anyway?

According to Wikipedia:

Phytonutrients are nutrients derived from plant material that have been shown to be necessary for sustaining human life. Phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant chemicals that contain protective, disease-preventing, compounds. Their role in plants is to protect plants from disease, injuries, insects, drought, excessive heat, ultraviolet rays, and poisons or pollutants in the air or soil. They form part of the plants immune system.

Although phytochemicals are not yet classified as nutrients, substances necessary for sustaining life, they have been identified as containing properties for aiding in disease prevention. Phytochemicals are associated with the prevention and/or treatment of at least four of the leading causes of death in Western countries - cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. They are involved in many processes including ones that help prevent cell damage, prevent cancer cell replication, and decrease cholesterol levels.

So, the next time you're reaching for a snack, consider that the fruit or vegetable you're grabbing (right? :) is super healthy and healing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rip Esselstyn on Good Morning America

I love a few different things about this video. First off, Rip reminds us of the amount of protein in plant-based foods, since a lot of non-vegetarians get fixated on that. Also, so great to see Rip's Big Bowl on national tv! My family loves it and eats it (without the grapefruit and not as huge!) almost every day, so it's a favorite. Have you tried it? What I recommend is measuring about a week's worth all at once and storing it in a sealed container. Lastly, Rip reminds us of the importance of knowing our numbers. If you don't know your cholesterol, now's the time! It's a simple blood test that could really give you a wake up call. Don't be scared...know your body and what it needs!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What I ate Wednesday

Hello beautiful people! Today is another "What I ate Wednesday post" and I'm excited to share what I've been enjoying in the kitchen. The image above are overnight oats I threw together and topped with fresh blueberries and toasted pecans. I have to be honest, this particular overnight oats recipe wasn't my favorite because it suggested steel cut Irish oats. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE steel cut oats (nothing else sticks to your ribs in the morning like a bowl of them!), but the texture was just too chewy for my liking. Lunch was much better!

A plate of organic baby spinach topped with (whateverwasinthefridge!) sliced mushrooms, baby carrots and bbq tofetti (awesome pre-made tofu) and my favorite (!!!) new salad dressing from the "Health Starts Here" section of Whole Foods. It tastes really rich, but does a body good.

Dinner is a new favorite and will be appearing at many a dinner party I'm invited to. They are a version of Whole Foods' Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes. I was lucky enough to find the recipe online from the blog "Eating Bird Food." It's basically a mixture of wild rice and quinoa...

some cooked sweet potato, onions, dried cranberries and spices...

and then you turn them into a bunch of small patties, bake them and DEVOUR them. Simple, simple, simple, loaded with flavor and packed with protein!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes
  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes (2 medium sized), peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cup lundburg wild rice blend, cooked according to package directions
  • ½ cup green onions, sliced
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • ½ tablespoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Steam sweet potato chunks for 20-25 minutes. Then puree sweet potatoes in stand mixer. You could also use a food processor or blender.
  3. Combine mashed sweet potatoes, cooked quinoa, cooked rice, green onions, cranberries, sage, salt and pepper.
  4. Form and flatten portions of the “dough” into patties.
  5. Lay the patties onto parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray (or stoneware) and bake for 15-20 minutes until they’re lightly brown and crisp on the outside.
  6. Serve warm, at room temperature, or straight from the fridge.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What the Bulk!?!?!? Storing your bulk food.

Welcome back to my weekly Tuesday post, "What the Bulk?!" where we learn a little about cooking with and eating bulk foods like rice, grains, beans and seeds.

Today's post focuses on the importance of storing your bulk food correctly! Do I do all these things? No, but I think these tips are sensible and easy-to-follow, so I might start keeping some bulk items in the fridge...

  • Buy from a source that has rapid turnover. Whole grains lose freshness more quickly than refined flours, so buy the freshest product possible.

  • Refrigerate whole grain flours and most grains if you cannot use all of the package in two months. In the summer store whole grain flours in the refrigerator all the time. Warm temperatures can quickly turn whole grain flours rancid.

  • Store whole grains in a cool, dry and dark location.

  • Wrap whole grains tightly in plastic before storing in another container. This extra step can extend shelf life for a few weeks or even months. This step is important for grains stored in the refrigerator or in cupboard shelving.

  • Use plastic or glass containers with tight lids. (veganmama note: reuse cool jars!)

  • Read packaging to find the shelf life of the grain. Some grains even when stored perfectly only have a shelf life of a few months, while others like popcorn can keep for several years if stored correctly.

  • Whole flax seeds or ground flax seeds lose omega-3 fatty acids when exposed to light so buy flax seed sold in colored plastic bags or containers.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Tangy Bean Salad

Here is a yummy, quick and easy recipe for a tangy bean salad from Whole Foods. I love the way he uses it as a topping for a salad. No dressing necessary when you have something this good topping your salad! This is exactly the kind of thing to make on a Sunday afternoon to have for lunch throughout your week! Why not make some and keep individual portions on hand?

Friday, March 23, 2012

What in the world is...Jicama

Today's "What in the world is" is called "Jicama" which is pronounced, "He-Ka-Ma" (you're welcome!)

It's a vegetable I didn't know existed until my cousins from Phoenix, AZ told me about it.

According to

Jicama is a crispy, sweet, edible root that resembles a turnip in physical appearance, although the plants are not related. Jicama has been cultivated in South America for centuries, and the vegetable is quite popular in Mexican cuisine. Jicama has a unique flavor that lends itself well to salads, salsas, and vegetable platters. The roots can sometimes grow to be quite large, although when they exceed the size of two fists, they begin to convert the sugars that give jicama its sweet flavor into starches, making the root somewhat woody to the taste.

Jicama is actually a legume, and it grows on vines that may reach 20 feet (six meters) in length. The vines tend to hug the ground, terminating in tubers that may grow up to 50 pounds (22 kilograms) in size, although the majority of jicama roots sent to market are approximately three to four pounds (1.3-2 kilograms) in weight. Before eating, the coarse brown outer layer of the jicama should be peeled to reveal the white inside.

When choosing jicama at the store, look for medium sized, firm tubers with dry roots. Do not purchase jicama that has wet or soft spots, which may indicate rot, and don't be drawn to overlarge examples of the tuber, because they may not be as flavorful. Jicama will keep under refrigeration for up to two weeks.

I like to add it to salads, especially something with beans and corn. Amazing that it's a legume! WHO KNEW? Judging by my excitement, I'm a total nerd :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An New Alternative Chicken Product

You know I love Mark Bitman, food columnist for the New York Times. He writes sensibly and honestly about food and cooking. This video shows an interesting new product in production that looks and tastes so much like chicken, even Mark was fooled!

One of the quotes that (frankly) grossed me out is that Americans are eating EIGHT BILLION chickens a year, most of which are pumped up with antibiotics. How sad and avoidable. Remember, animal protein is NOT the protein you want to be eating for health!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I ate Wednesday

Welcome to a new weekly post, "What I ate Wednesday" which is something I'm excited to try out. A lot of other food bloggers do the same thing, giving their readers a little sense of what they're eating. Fun and voyeuristic, right? So here is a typical day in the life of veganmama. First up...breakfast!

Here is one of my favorite breakfasts! It's basically Rip's Big Bowl (Rip of Engine 2 Diet fame) topped with whatever fruit I have in the house. The grapes might look strange on cereal, but much to my surprise, they're great! Especially if they are really snappy, right? Cereal with almond or unsweetened soy milk. Cup of decaf green tea (or whatever herbal tea I'm craving that morning.)

The cereal pictured is this mix:

Shredded wheat (save $ and buy the store brand!)
Grape Nuts (store brand)
Uncle Sam (amazing and ZERO sugar)
Ground Flaxseed
Old-fashioned oats
Fresh fruit takes up half the bowl!

Lunch typically consists of some sort of bean-based salad. This is a bed of baby spinach topped with cold lentils (I always have them on hand in the fridge!), part of a sweet potato, tomato, baby carrots, a stuffed grape leaf and some simple oil-free hummus that I made. Lots of variety, but the tastes all blend well together.

My afternoon snack is always a green smoothie of some sort! This is ice, almond milk, a ton of spinach and half a frozen banana, pulverized into a tropical delight. Trust me, you can't taste the spinach, peeps. I threw some unsweetened coconut on top for flare :)

Dinner was simple but YUMMY. I made a stir fry of caramelized onions and cabbage, grilled portobella mushroom, slice or two of avocado, and tiny sweet peppers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What the Bulk!?!?!?

This week's What the Bulk grain is millet. Can I be honest? Before I became vegan, I had never had millet. It was this cute little grain I'd see in the bulk aisle, but always blew off (sorry millet!). I recently came across a good recipe from the fabulous site, "Oh She Glows" for what she calls "cozy millet bowl with mushroom gravy and kale."

I can tell you, if you only use this recipe for a killer mushroom gravy, I won't tell ;) It's the best gravy! Steam some simple vegetables and top them with this gravy and you'll thank me!

Cozy Millet Bowl with Mushroom Gravy and Kale (From Oh She Glows)

Feeling cozy? Snuggle up with this comforting bowl of vegan goodness. The dish feels rich without the heaviness that usually comes with traditional gravy. Nutritional info follows.

Print this recipe

Yield: 2 servings


  • 1/2 cup uncooked millet (makes ~2 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onion (1 medium onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms (300 grams)
  • 1.5 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1.5 tbsp low-sodium tamari (soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 & 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup fresh chopped kale, stems removed
  • Freshly ground black pepper & kosher salt, to taste

1. Toast millet: In a pot or skillet with a lid, toast the millet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it starts popping. Be careful you don’t burn it. The goal here is a light toast. Remove from heat. Cook millet: Bring a medium-sized pot of 1 cup water, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup uncooked millet to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and cover with lid. Simmer for 15 minutes or so. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes covered. Remove lid and fluff with fork. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, grab a large skillet and heat oil over medium heat. Add in chopped onions and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for about 12 minutes longer, stirring as necessary. Now stir in the rosemary, nutritional yeast, and tamari. Cook for a few minutes.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the broth and cornstarch until clumps are gone, and then stir into the mushroom mixture. Stir in kale. Cook for another 5-6 minutes or so, until slightly thickened. Portion millet into two bowls and serve the mushroom gravy on top.

Approx Nutritional Info (per serving, serves 2): 355 kcals, 4 grams fat, 63 grams carbs, 11 grams fiber, 6 grams sugar, 16 grams protein.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Plant Strong eating: it's not about what you take away, it's about what you ADD!

This is the first post where I'm going to get a little more revealing about some of the reasons I'm vegan/plant-strong. You've been such good readers, it's time we get to know each other a little more closely :)

For me, it all comes down to health. And by health, I don't mean my weight. I don't mean my jean size, I don't mean if I look as good as my friends (p.s. that is a sure recipe for I'm-never-going-to-be-happy!) I'm interested in sleeping well, waking up refreshed and energized, not feeling sleepy at 4PM, not being constipated, not having skin problems, not having to feel like a victim of my genetics because I have heart disease on both sides (hi Mom and Dad!) and not depending on my family Dr. to give me medicine to make me feel good. I mean, does my family Dr. even know me? Hardly!

I also don't want to live a life where I'm counting calories, thinking about diets, beating myself up on a Monday because of poor eating choices. I've opted out! I want to live a life free from that.

I'm passionate about wellness and know I am in charge of my own health. Isn't that a wonderful thing? You really can dramatically change the way you feel (and look, which is a nice side effect) by what you eat. Rather than find that fact to be daunting, I think it's incredibly exciting and empowering, don't you?

This is not about being on a "diet" ... to hell with that. What eating plant-strong enables you to feel is happy about eating good food, the way nature intended it.

I absolutely love Whole Foods' pillars of health from their "Health Starts Here" initiative because it's so sensible and simple:

Eat Whole Foods (the real stuff: vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, whole grains)
Eat Plant Strong Foods (vegan)
Eat Nutrient Dense Foods (the most nutritional bang for your buck!)
Healthy Fats (nuts, avocados, seeds)

If someone came up to you today and said, "I can tell you a way to eat that will influence your overall well being more than anything else? More than genetics, more than exercise habits and more than any medication," what would you say? You'd be pretty intrigued at the least, right? What if they told you it's as simple (and complicated) as what you eat? I'm no expert, but I know there really is something to it.

Simple in that it's true, complicated in that we live in a world in which we are bombarded by daily advertisements (especially on food packaging) claiming health.

This is where my blog (hopefully!) comes into play. Use this site as a way to stay connected to a different way of looking at food! This is a site that focuses on the joy and passion in eating, feeling good and being whole. We're complicated people but our health shouldn't have to be so complicated.

Thank you and congratulations for your interest in your health! What a good thing you're doing for yourself.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What in the world is...arrowroot?

A lot of the baking recipes I've stumbled across have arrowroot as one of the ingredients. I know it looks like flour, but what in the world IS arrowroot, anyway?

According to wikipedia,

Arrowroot can be used as a thickener for acidic foods, such as Asian sweet and sour sauce. It is invaluable in cooking when you wish to have a clear, thickened sauce, for example, a fruit sauce. It will not make the sauce go cloudy, as for example will cornstarch, flour or other starchy thickening agents.

The lack of gluten in arrowroot flour makes it useful as a replacement for wheat flour in baking. Like other pure starches, however, arrowroot is almost pure carbohydrate and devoid of protein, thus it does not equal wheat flour nutritionally.

Arrowroot thickens at a lower temperature than does flour or cornstarch, is not weakened by acidic ingredients, has a more neutral taste, and is not affected by freezing. It doesn't mix well with dairy, forming a slimy mixture.[3] It is recommended to mix arrowroot with a cool liquid before adding to a hot fluid. The mixture should be heated only until the mixture thickens and removed immediately to prevent the mixture from thinning. Overheating tends to break down arrowroot's thickening property. Substitute two teaspoons of arrowroot for one tablespoon of cornstarch, or one teaspoon of arrowroot for one tablespoon of wheat flour.[4]

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I'm excited to invite you to the second multiple-course tasting night at my house!

The last tasting was a huge success and taught me a great deal about helping people put their foot in the door of a vegetarian lifestyle. If you're a fan of the site and are curious what it's all about, please come! I will be talking briefly about health and wellness, have a cooking demonstration and show a clip or two from a favorite movie (that pertains to all this great stuff!) All the while, you'll be eating and mingling with friends. I'd love to have you.

Because of space and my sanity (!) I have to limit the evening to 10 people. If you're definitely coming, please contact me right away to be added to the list. This is a first-come-first-served event. DO NOT DELAY! :)

The Details:

Norton, MA, my house.
$20.00 per person, paid that night.

The first tasting night consisted of the following menu:

White Bean Dip
Kale Chips
Roasted Butternut Squash/Carrot Curry Soup
Escarole with Chickpeas and Carmelized Onions
Cold Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets and Fresh Herbs
Raw Date and Nut Balls

I have an equally interesting and yummy menu planned!

Thank you and I can't wait to spoil you with many amazing tastes!

*note, this isn't limited to only new people, if you came to the first event feel free to come again!*

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Super simple Kale Avocado Lime salad

We all know by now that kale is one of THE most nutritious leafy greens on the planet, but might also agree we need new ways to serve it if we're supposed to be eating it weekly :) You remember my recent post about meeting Rip Esselstyn of the Engine 2 Diet?

I made this recipe right after watching Rip's Engine 2 Diet video and I love it. The one thing I added, simply because I already had some peeled and cut was some jicama. Otherwise, it's very similar to Rip's recipe:

My version:
Chopped kale
One avocado
One lime (Rip uses lemon)
Peeled and chopped jicama
Sprinkle of sea salt

Put the chopped kale in a bowl. Then, add one ripe avocado and the lime juice and (with clean hands!) smash it all up together until the kale starts to relax and the avocado and lime make an awesome dressing! That's pretty much all there is to it. Any recipe this easy needs attention drawn to it, so have fun with it and spread the word!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What the Bulk!?!?!? Another crazy good dessert ball!

Okay, I'm officially mad about these cookies. As in, I just ate....drumroll....six of them all at once. Sigh. Hey, no one's perfect, right? And if you're going to just go for it and eat dessert, it might as well be made of ingredients that are good for you. However, I don't recommend SIX :)

These are very similar to the dessert balls I recently posted here, but have a few changes, due to being out of flax seed and craving something cooked.

In a large bowl mix the following:

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup Grapenuts
1 T chia seeds
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (dark)
1/2 cup peanut butter (all natural)
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds (get them in bulk)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix them all until well mixed, form into ping pong-sized balls and bake on a nonstick pan for about 10 minutes at 350. Let them harden. Eat less than six at a time :) OMG, they are SO GOOD!

If I hadn't just finished eating them, I would have posted a picture!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Meeting firefighter Rip of "Engine 2 Diet" fame!

If you've been following me here on veganmama for some time you know I'm a fan of Rip Esselstyn, the ex-firefighter, triathlete who wrote "The Engine 2 Diet." I first learned about Rip when I had just finished reading his father's book, "Prevent and Reserve Heart Disease." (note: you actually CAN do both by following a strict plant-based diet! I was skeptical, but after reading the book know it's possible) I saw Rip's book at my local Whole Foods and recognized his last name. I now couldn't imagine a morning without eating his cereal concoction, "Rip's Big Bowl!"

Rip's Big Bowl

oats (raw, old-fashioned) - 2 ounces
grape nuts (or Ezekiel brand equivalent) - 2 ounces
shredded wheat (bite-size) - 2 ounces
uncle sam's - 2 ounces
flaxseed meal (ground) - 1 ounces
raisins - 1 ounces
walnuts - 2 ounces
grapefruit - 1 whole (veganmama uses red grapes cut in half instead)
milk substitute (of choice) - 6 ounces
banana - 8 ounces
kiwi - 4 ounces


Toss all ingredients except the grapefruit and milk substitute into a bowl. After cutting the grapefruit in half, use a small, sharp knife to remove the segments.

Add the segments to the top of the bowl and squeeze in the juice.

Top the bowl with milk substitute.

Rip recently came to Providence to give a talk about his lifestyle (our lifestyle :) and my father and I were lucky enough to attend.

Rip spoke to a full room, some of whom had taken his "28-day" challenge from his book, which spells out exactly how to jump into a plant-strong way of life. One of my favorite parts of the night was when people walked to the front of the room to share their proud stories. Stories not only weight loss, but of a new approach to food. THAT is really what it's all about, right? Feeling good about yourself and good about your choices. That goodness is contagious and exciting to see. And that's exactly what I try to do here at veganmama.

Go Veganmama go? I love this guy.

Rip stuck around for a book signing and shared some of his chocolate chip cookies with the group, baked by one of the women from the local Whole Foods. What an informative and inspiring night. Thank you, Rip!

Friday, March 9, 2012

What in the world is...Yerba Mate

Welcome to another "What in the world is..." post. These Friday posts have become my favorite, because they're a real learning experience for this veganmama!

Have you heard of/seen Yerba Mate at the store? The first time I had it was in a groovy little granola bar that was a mix of yerba mate, peanut butter and carob chips. It was one of those foods you eat and think, "this is sort of weird" and then you realize you're loving it and have eaten the whole thing. Can you relate? So what in the heck is yerbe mate anyway? And why did my caffeine-free body go nuts when I ate that groovy bar?

From the site, "What is Yerba Mate"

Guayakí Yerba Mate
has the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate" all in one beverage.
Of the six commonly used stimulants in the world: yerba mate, coffee, tea, kola nut, cocoa and guarana, yerba mate triumphs as the most balanced, delivering both energy and nutrition.
Guayakí Yerba Mate  has the ââ,¬Å“strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate" all in one beverage.
Yerba mate contains caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, well-known stimulants also found in tea, coffee and chocolate. The caffeine content varies between that of green tea and coffee. Unlike tea, yerba mate has a low tannin content so it can be strong like coffee with out becoming extremely bitter. Unlike coffee, yerba mate is not oily and acid forming, so it is less likely to cause stomach acid and jitters.
Yerba mate is very versitile and can be prepared a variety of ways, from a tea infuser or French press to a coffee machine, even an espresso maker. It can be consumed hot, or cold, and served with with milk and honey or iced with lemon and mint, the combinations are endless.
Yerba mate (yer-bah mah-tay) is made from the naturally caffeinated and nourishing leaves of the celebrated South American rainforest holly tree (Ilex paraguariensis). For centuries, South America’s Aché Guayakí tribe have sipped yerba mate from a traditional mate gourd for its rejuvenative effects. These rainforest people find tremendous invigoration, focus, and nourishment in yerba mate. The leaves of the rainforest mate tree naturally contain 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, abundant antioxidants. In fact, The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific society in 1964 concluded "it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value" and that yerba mate contains "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Easy Dessert Balls

I recently came across this recipe and have a confession to make: I'm in LOVE. Full disclosure, I am a honey-eating vegan, so before my comment box fills up with comments about the honey, I'm putting a stinger in that situation ;) Something that makes me feel good about the honey I eat is that I get it from my friend Dave, who harvests it with the bees he keeps in his backyard.

Onto the LOVE part! Here is a recipe I like to call "hippie balls" (male readers, please resist the urge to make jokes...they are balls, afterall)

Hippie Balls

1 cup dry old-fashioned oats
1 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla

Stir all ingredients in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. I like to use my hands to make sure it's really well mixed. Once chilled, roll into balls about an inch in diameter. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Makes about 15-20 balls

You can mix in all sorts of add-ins, but keep in mind you'll have to add more peanut butter or honey to keep them from falling apart. I sometimes add a chopped nut or a dried fruit. The sky's the limit on these.

Warning: Amazingly addictive and children love them!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My favorite new KALE salad!

I recently had the pleasure of attending a family reunion/90th birthday party in Florida (hello family!). There's something you should know about my family: we LOVE food and we love to eat! For me, this salad was the culinary highlight of the trip, made by my cousin Lisa. As you can see in the image (courtesy of Bon Appetit), the original recipe calls for some cheese. However, trust me when I say you'll NEVER miss it in this recipe. It's one of those recipes that just looks okay on paper, but something about the dressing really adds a lot of flavor and ZIP :)

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
12 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided (more than I care for...)
1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.

Add dressing to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

Original recipe:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What the Bulk!?!?!? Overnight Oats

Does this picture make you crave a nice cold bowl of overnight oats or WHAT!? :) The recipe and pictures are from one of my favorite wellness blogs, "Sinfully Nutritious." "Sinful" is the right word for a lot of Maria's cooking, which are incredibly well-rounded and tasty, but perfectly good for you. That's what we're all looking for, right? :)

Maria recently posted this lovely recipe for overnight oats, that did indeed taste just like an oatmeal cookie. I eliminated the coconut and agave, but otherwise followed this recipe:

These overnight oats tasted like an oatmeal raisin cookie. I soaked 1/2 cup rolled oats in 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk overnight, then in the morning when they were thick and fully absorbed, I added in shredded coconut, raisins, cinnamon, walnuts, 1 tbsp. flax plus granola, chia seeds, and a drizzle of agave. These oats were so good.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Engine 2 Diet DVD

You all know I'm a fan of Rip Esselstyn's "The Engine 2 Diet" book, which is the source of all things PLANT STRONG!

My father (go Dad!) brought this hour long movie to my attention, and I'm excited to say it's now available to watch (along with Forks Over Knives) right now, streaming on Netflix! I just watched it, and although I know a lot of what was covered, it served as a great reminder that I'm on the right track.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What in the world is...Tahini

Oh tahini how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

But what IS tahini, anyway?

Tahini is a paste of ground sesame seeds. That explains why it has such a lovely nutty taste!

By now you probably know I'm half Lebanese. I know it's something I talk about a lot, but what can I say! I'm proud! We Middle Eastern people sort of rule in the food department. And one of our tastiest culinary masterpieces is hummus (on a side note, it's not pronounced "ha mus" it's "hoom mus").

Oddly enough (and don't tell my grandmother...) my favorite hummus recipe hails from Barefoot Contessa. Although my go-to recipes are almost all entirely vegan, I still dip into her cookbooks for inspiration. Here is Ina's fantastic hummus recipe, altered by yours truly:

  • 4 garlic cloves (I USE TWO!)
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)(FRESH LEMONS ONLY!)
  • 2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas
  • 8 dashes hot sauce (SO COOL! WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?)


Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it's minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Veganmama note: If it's too thick, go ahead and thin it out by using liquid from the chickpea can, one tablespoon at a time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gluten Free or Not?

I'd like to say that I do not believe I have a sensitivity to wheat, for which I am really thankful! However, I like to hear different opinions on the topic and am always interested in hearing people's first-hand experiences. What scares me is the idea of people gravitating towards gluten free products that are heavily advertised, processed and posing as "health" food. Here at veganmama I take pride in gently reminding my readers to base most of your meals around vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and beans, which I believe provide the most nutritional bang for your buck. But that's just my two cents :)

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