Monday, April 30, 2012

My Favorite Salad Dressings

I like the idea of being someone who simply whips up her own salad dressings, and some of the time I do (some of the time :) When I don't have the time, I love these dressings from Whole Foods. I haven't tried them all, but those I've tried have not disappointed. The best part? There's nothing creepy in the ingredients!  The sesame singer dressing is perfect over greens. I haven't tried this yet, but I could see the pomegranate or tangerine vinaigrettes being used to sweeten cous cous or another whole grain-based salad. The point is to replace your "healthy" salad dressings that are filled with strange ingredients and replace them with something sweetened by fruits, or given substance by healthy fats.

Who has tried them? What is your opinion?

P.S. They are a little pricey (about $3.99 each), but as is the case with a lot of high-quality foods, a little goes a long way and you get what you pay for!

Friday, April 27, 2012

What in the world is...Mestemacher Bread

I watched the Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue recently and a bread was mentioned by Rip's Mom, Ann. She's a terrific, inventive cook, so basically anything she makes I like to try! She mentioned the name of the bread while making a sandwich, but did so quickly, so I couldn't make out what she was saying. Turns out, it was "Mestemacher" bread :)

I found it (by accident) at Whole Foods and it's going to become a regular purchase. It's particularly good toasted. I do an old trick my late grandmother used to do: toast 2 pieces and then rest them on the top of the toaster until they harden up, almost like a cracker.

I use the bread for making rustic sandwiches topped with chickpea spread, cukes and tomatoes.

Below is a little blurb about the company. Enjoy!


"Mestemacher is a producer of bread and baked goods supplying the classic retail grocery trade in Germany and abroad with pre-packaged Vollkornbrot - German-style dark wholegrain bread - and international speciality breads. These products give Mestemacher a presence in a part of the whole bread and baked goods market. The range is aimed at potential consumers looking for speciality breads which are different from the conventional range of pre-packaged breads and baked goods. Mestemacher has been active in Germany for many years with numerous social projects promoting the equality of men and women in society and a work-life balance on the Scandinavian model."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sushi Bowl!

I really enjoy going out for Japanese food. I enjoy the ceremony involved in preparing my wasabi/ginger mix in a cute little dish, totally dig steamed edamame, can never eat too much....

But sometimes I just don't have the time or money to take the four of us out for it. So it recently occurred to me that we could make a poor-man's avocado/cuke sushi bowl right at home.

Here's what we did: We basically just heated up a big ol' bowl of brown rice, topped it with ripped up pieces of nori (seaweed) and topped it with rice seasoning, cukes, avocado (!!!), pickled ginger and sesame seeds (all of which is available at your grocery store).

Not only did it taste great (just like a sushi roll), I thought it turned out really pretty. This is definitely something that I'll make on a regular basis!

Question: Do you realize there are lots of plant-strong options when you go out for Asian?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday: My visits to the Candle 79 Restaurant and the Candle Cafe, NYC!

How lucky is my cousin to live just blocks from their new location?
On a recent trip to NYC with my mother and kids, we decided (of course!) to visit the Candle Cafe West (which opened just weeks ago) for lunch and the beloved Candle 79 for dinner. Note to foodies with children, skip the family restaurants and get kids into real restaurants at a young age. Most kids will sit still knowing a great dessert awaits them! First stop, the Candle Cafe West! As you can see here, I was blissed out and ready to be impressed!

So happy to be there!

Pan-seared seitan, steamed greens, caramelized onions and avocado.
Served on toasted focaccia with ancho chili aioli and coleslaw.
I was craving avocado, so this sandwich was a perfect decision.
 (note to husband: I love our new camera!)

Seen here with their mild slaw. Perfection.
My cousin Patricia, fellow food enthusiast,  chose a beautiful salad...
Haricots verts, beluga lentils, red onions, turnips,
avocado, sunflower seeds, spelt berries, chive vinaigrette.

Hummus, quinoa tabouli, lemon-date chutney, marinated olives, parata bread and zataar.
The lemon-date chutney? One of the best things I've ever had.
This was my Mom's lunch.

Served with miso-tahini spread or drizzled with
 roasted garlic olive oil? YES please. 
That wraps up what we had for lunch at the Candle Cafe. Next stop? The Candle 79...

My kids shared this plate of nachos and gave them a double thumbs up!
Angel's Nachos: corn chips, mozzarella, tomatoes, guacamole, refried pinto beans,
chili-grilled seitan, salsa, tofu sour cream, romaine lettuce
My appetizer blew my mind. They were juicy, spicy and sooooo good. I must find this recipe!!
Citrus herb marinated seitan skewers.
My entree, which was actually so filling I could only eat half. Plant strong eating fills you up!
Grilled Kale Salad: Haricots verts, beluga lentils, red onions, turnips, avocado, sunflower seeds, spelt berries, chive vinaigrette.
My mother enjoyed this lovely little salad...
Stuffed Avocado:  baby greens, quinoa, zucchini, spring peas,
cucumber, radishes, toasted pumpkin seeds, grape tomatoes, chipotle-avocado dressing
What I didn't stop to photograph were our desserts, which consisted of three homemade "icecreams" which were actually a lemon sorbet and two different coconut milk icecreams.

Candle Cafe, you did NOT disappoint! Side note: a little pricey, yes, but totally worth it. What a pleasure!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What the Bulk!?!?!? Walnut Carrot Raisin Cookies

I recently made these beauties from the Whole Foods website. I was craving something sweet, but not-too-sweet, you know?

These moist, flavorful, not-too-sweet cookies are excellent for snacks, breakfast or dessert.


1 cup raw unsalted walnuts
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 carrots, grated
1 apple, grated
1 very ripe banana, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup apple juice


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine walnuts, oats and raisins in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger. Add carrots, apple, banana and apple juice and stir until combined. Drop by rounded tablespoons an inch apart on the prepared baking sheets, making about 24 cookies. Press down on each cookie with the back of a fork to flatten slightly. Bake until tops and bottoms are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

So they come out of the oven looking like this....

And after I take a bite out of one, they look like this :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

I made my own SEITAN!

Do you remember this post when I told you about seitan? Well, it's something that I'd never tried to make before because it sounded 1. weird 2. intimidating 3. why make it when I can just go to the Garden Grille and get some that blows my mind?

However, I found a recipe and the woman claimed it was easy, so I went for it!
I picked up a box of this vital wheat gluten at my local grocery store. Followed the directions to mix it up with broth...

Lined up 18 little blobs of it on a glass dish and kept them moist with more broth...

Put in the oven and then...


Now, Seitan is one of those things that is an acquired taste. However, my kids both gave it the ever-so-impressive "double thumbs up!" so you might want to give it a try! Tastes and has the same feel as chicken. Seriously. And it's LOADED with protein, for what it's worth :)

Seitan Nuggets
[Makes about 18 nuggets]
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1-3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, separated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and seasonings.
  3. In a separate glass or bowl, combine 1 cup broth and soy sauce.
  4. Pour vegetable broth mixture into dry ingredients. Mix well until an elastic dough forms.
  5. Form 18 nuggets from the dough and place into a glass baking dish (or two).
  6. Pour remaining broth into dish(es) and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove pan from the oven, flip over seitan nuggets, and return dish to the oven.
  8. Bake another 15 minutes.
  9. Store seitan in the fridge, covered with more broth to maintain soft chewiness.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What in the world is...The Physicians Committe For Responsible Medicine

I just finished reading this book from the wonderful Dr. Neal Barnard. I love books like this that speak about wellness in an intelligent, sensible way. I don't like books that pretend wellness and health is super easy. It's not. It's a choice that you have to make everyday! This book is interesting and smart :)

Look for upcoming posts with more veganmama book recommendations (my kitchen has become a library!). Until then, lets talk about the organization Dr. Barnard is President, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

Since 1985, PCRM has been influencing advancements in medicine and science. They advocate for preventive medicine, especially good nutrition, conduct clinical research, and advocate for higher ethical standards in research. This video tells you a little more of their story and their objective.

The New Four Food Groups is PCRM’s innovative proposal for a federal nutrition policy that puts a new priority on health. :) The world is changing, friends!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Toasting Sesame Seeds

I love to toast sesame seeds and sprinkle them over Asian dishes or salads (especially a spinach and mushroom salad). I like to sneak them into baked goods as well, like energy bars or raw balls.

They cost a fortune if you get them in the spice aisle (don't!). Get them in BULK from your favorite natural market. Buy them raw and toast away :) Did you know sesame seeds are loaded with calcium?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Good Morning and welcome back to "What I Ate Wednesday!" For those who have reached out to me to tell me they enjoy this series of posts, THANK YOU! I appreciate feedback and love knowing it's helping you get ideas!

Breakfast was fruity and delicious. I started with a peach smoothie (frozen peaches blended with some ice and almond milk...that's it!) and a bowl of the usual (Rip's Big Bowl, Engine 2) topped with fruit. I always keep it simple and never skip breakfast.

This lunch was gooood. Looks like a pile of randomness, but it's actually a recipe I followed from the Engine 2 Diet book. click Here is the recipe. What you can't see buried underneath all the vegetables is the Engine 2 hummus spread all over the bread. It's an oil-free hummus, so you can really pile it on. Plus, my kids love it! That recipe is right here:

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2–3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos (whole foods) or low-sodium tamari
  • 3 tablespoons water or vegetable broth
Basically blend it all together in a food processor until it's the consistency you favor. If you want it thinner, just add some water. When I first made it I really missed the taste of tahini, but I've grown to really like it. If you're a heart patient, this is a perfect spread or dip :)

You didn't really think I'd go a day without a green smoothie, did you? Nope! They really are a daily addiction!

Dinner was a"date" to the big Legacy Place Whole Foods with my husband and two kids. I am friends with Whole Foods on Facebook (I'm sure you're shocked!) and ended up winning a $25 gift card that week (thank you, thank you!). Dinner was on veganmama! This was actually the "Engine 2" burrito bowl from their Mexican station. That grain on the right is red quinoa :) The tofu was marinated in some sort of awesomeness. Looks like a small dinner, but it was actually quite large! I think it's amazing that the Engine 2 stuff is catching on in such a huge way! But you know, the more people like us ask for what we want in stores and restaurants, the more we'll see changes in our markets, restaurants and cafeterias.

Dessert :)

Have a great day, my friends!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What the Bulk!?!?!? Carob Spirulina Energy Bites

Okay, I have a confession to make. I don't know why on earth these little things drive me crazy, but they DRIVE ME CRAZY. I'm guessing most people would taste one and think, "Eh, they're a little bitter. What's the big deal, Veganmama?" But I can't get enough of these little bites from the bulk aisle of Whole Foods (note to Bellingham, MA store, please get them back! I miss them!). I can't entirely figure out what they're made of. Does anyone know? Besides carob and spirulina, there appears to be some sort of seed or nut as well.

I know what you're thinking, "Really?" but they are sooooo good. Maybe it's the earthiness of the carob? The bite of the Spirulina? I don't know. But if you want me to love you (even more then I do), please buy me some. And not the vanilla ones, silly. These :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Simplest Popcorn Ever!

Popcorn. Remember when popcorn was good for us? I'm talking before it was smothered in palm oils and fake flavorings at the movie theater and in microwave popcorn (note: I get it. There really is no smell better than movie theater popcorn....) However, we managed to take a perfectly beautiful whole grain and make it junky.

I love this way of making yourself the ultimate afternoon snack: a simple brown bag of clean popcorn!

Here's how. Take a regular-sized brown lunch bag. Fill it with a 1/4 cup of popcorn.

Fold the bag over twice to create a little seal. Please it, seal-size down in the microwave. Zap it for 2 minutes and 30 seconds (I suppose there is a little room for error here, so stand by!)

Presto! A perfect mid-day snack for yourself!

And if you have gigantic handbags like me, go ahead and sneak it into the theater! You only live once :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

What in the world is...Bok Choy?

I recently made this simple steamed bok choy dish (with steamed carrots and mushrooms) and it got me thinking about bok choy. Bok choy is a great example of the kind of vegetable I would have ignored in the grocery store before I went plant strong. I mean, when you really think about the full rainbow of vegetables out there that we haven't tried, it's really intimidating exciting!

In case you haven't tried bok choy at home (eating it in oily take-out Chinese doesn't count!), I recommend this sort of recipe. Just steam some vegetables and top them with a dressing of a simple peanut sauce and some toasted raw sesame seeds.

So what in the world is BOK CHOY anyway?

  • It is very low in calories and is a very rich source of many vital phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

  • Like other brasisca family vegetables, bok choy contains certain anti oxidant plant chemicals like thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. Along with dietary fiber, vitamins these compounds help to protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels in the blood.

  • Fresh pak choi is an excellent source of water soluble antioxidant, vitamin-C (ascorbic acid). 100 g provides 45 mg or 75 % of daily requirements of vitamin C. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.

  • It has more vitamin A, carotenes, and other flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants than cabbage, cauliflower...etc. Just 100 g of fresh bok choy provides 4468 IU or 149% of daily required levels vitamin A.

  • Pak choi is very good source of vitamin K, provides about 38% of RDA levels. Vitamin-K has potential role in bone metabolism by promoting osteotrophic activity in bone cells. Therefore, enough vitamin K in the diet makes your bone stronger, healthier and delay osteoporosis. Further, vitamin-K also has established role in curing Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.

  • Fresh bok choy has many vital B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin B6), riboflavin, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that our body requires them from external sources to replenish.

  • It also contains good amount of minerals like calcium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for the red blood cell formation.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Welcome back to "What I ate Wednesday!" I'm happy you're here. This breakfast was a big ol' bowl of the overnight oats I know some of you have also tried and are enjoying. Today I replaced the unsweetened coconut with cinnamon, raisins and walnuts. I always eat bananas in my cereal because they help keep me filled up until lunchtime :) On a side note, nice the way almond milk is actually white (not grey, like cow's milk).

And speaking of lunch, today it was a simple salad (you're onto me, aren't you? I'm a salad person!) of chopped romaine over Israeli cous cous (cooked in broth and sweetened with white raisins). Chickpeas, mushrooms and a Health Starts Here dressing. Also some stewed Swiss chard. The nice thing about the leftovers in my fridge is that they can usually be thrown on top of a salad, as you see here!

Yeah, I really do eat one of these every day, and they are usually red (strawberry banana) or green (kale or spinach with banana). What can I say? They do the trick for me! This one was straight up. No topping necessary. The glass looks small, but it's a pint glass. Nice big snack, peeps.

This is the sort of thing I could eat every single night and never grow tired of. It's a hot bowl of sweet potato black bean soup over brown rice. I topped it with a delicious avocado (is there anything better?) and then squeezed a whole lime over the whole thing. Yumtastic.

Here was my humble little fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants dessert for the day :) I ate quite a few of these little buggers and man, they are good! Simply slice a banana, bread the nut butter of your choice on the top and then dip your creation in mini chocolate chips. Pop it in your mouth and feel happy.

That's all for today! Thanks for reading and keep sharing with me what you're eating!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Super Good Kale Cashew Soup

Our local Hannaford Grocery store has a monthly cooking magazine that I sometimes grab when I'm at the checkout. I was really pleased to see this plant-strong soup recipe I'd love to share with you!

Makes me laugh that you can see the steam in this picture below...

Soaking the raw cashews. Weird or yummy?

Puree the cashews, baby!

Now the chickpeas!

Doesn't look like much, but it's gooooood.

Hannaford's Super Good Kale Cashew Soup

1 cup unsalted cashews (raw)
2 teaspoons Olive oil (I use hardly any and usually use veg. broth instead)
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds (I used dried mustard powder)
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds (used cumin powder)
1 tablespoon Minced fresh ginger (def. use fresh!)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (I used powdered anise)
1/2 teaspoon paprika, preferably smoked
1 large carrot, sliced thinly
1 each red bell pepper, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste (plus more for garnish)
2 each (15 to 16 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained, divided
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 bunch kale, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon Fresh lemon juice
4 sprigs cilantro


1. Place cashews in a medium bowl and cover with water. If time allows, let soak for 2 hours or overnight. Otherwise, let soak while you prepare the rest of the stew.

2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add mustard and cumin seeds; cook 1 minute. Stir in ginger, fennel seeds, paprika, carrot, red bell pepper, salt, and black pepper; cook 2 minutes. Set aside 3/4 cup chickpeas and add remainder to the pot. Add broth, cider, and sage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in kale and heat until just wilted, about 1 minute.

3. Drain cashews and place them in a blender along with reserved chickpeas and just enough water to barely cover the contents (about 3/4 cup). Blend until very smooth.

4. Stir cashew chickpea cream into soup along with the lemon juice; heat 2 minutes. Ladle soup into four bowls and garnish each with cilantro and a few grindings of black pepper.

Source: Hannaford fresh Magazine, January - February 2012