Category Archives: Recipes

Crumb-Free Cheesy Lacinato Kale Chips

Somehow I managed to avoid falling in love with kale chips for the first 5 years of their reign. But those days are over, and I am now officially addicted to the green crack. Two drawbacks. One, it’s a pricey habit. My favorite brand runs between $4 and $7 a bag, which I inhale in 2 minutes flat. Drawback two- the majority of the bag disintegrates into crumbs. There’s a perpetual carpet of kale chip dust on the floor of my car, and generally on my face if I’ve been eating them.

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This recipe solves the pesky kale dust issue by swapping out curly kale in favor of lacinato. And because you’re buying simple raw ingredients, it’s way more economical than a packaged kale chip habit. Lacinato (also known as dinosaur, or tuscan) kale is thicker and stays in tact when dehydrating. It also has plenty of ridgy bits to accommodate the sauce, which is important as this sauce is to die for.

Ridgy, but not crumbly. Lacinato kale wins the day!

Ridgy, but not crumbly. Lacinato kale wins the day!

The sauce is actually a queso, and you can never go wrong with a good queso. If you’ve never has queso without the dairy, rest assured that the vegan variety has all of the cheesiness, tanginess and and mouthwateringness of the queso of your youth, but none of the pesky cholesterol, casein or animal protein. The cashews add extra richness, while the miso and nutritional yeast bring an umami punch. It’s so good that you’ll want to find other uses for the sauce- you can use it as a salad dressing, as a sauce for veggies, rice, baked potatoes, your fingers- whatever you fancy.

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For now, let’s use it for the kale chips. I made mine in the Excalibur dehydrator, but if you’re dehydrator-less like most of the planet, you can experiment with making them in an oven. Check out Oh She Glows’ guide to oven baked kale chips for the deets on that route. Low and slow that is the tempo, or so I hear.

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Ingredients:

1 bunch organic Lacinato kale, (kale’s on the Dirty Dozen y’all, so don’t skimp here.) cut into bite size pieces. I actually used Trader Joe’s bag of organic lacinato, it worked pretty perfectly.

For the Queso:

1/2 cup raw cashews

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp white miso

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup water

1) Soak the cashews in a bowl of cold water for at least one hour. Drain the water.

2) Combine the cashews with the rest of the queso ingredients in a Vitamix/ high speed blender or food processor. Process on high until smooth.

3) Grab a pair of gloves. Place cut kale pieces into a large bowl, then pour queso over the kale. Massage queso into your kale so the leaves are evenly coated.

4) Spread kale leaves on dehydrator trays in one layer. You’ll need at least 4 or 5 trays. Dehydrate on high for 4-5 hours- make sure to check your chips at hour 3, then again each 1/2 hour.

5) Store in an airtight container for as long as you can stand not shoving them in your mouth. This won’t be long, I guarantee.

Snowstorm Staple Miso Ramen

Are you ready for the storm? I braved the crowds at the Park Slope Food Co-op yesterday and made off with all of the kale about a dozen Amy’s Vegan Breakfast Burritos. But most importantly, as ever, I have a stash of Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods soups on hand.

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I buy bulk packages on Amazon– my favorites are the Miso Ramen, Soy Ginger Noodle and Pad Thai. They’re all delicious, healthful and satisfying. And of course vegan, and certainly not fried like those awful blocks I ate as a kid.

While they’re marvelously flavorful, I rarely eat them as-is. I need me some greens, and a lot of broth. So to extend the broth I add additional miso paste. Then I jazz things up with some tofu, seitan (Uptons, of course!) or TVP. Sometimes several of the aforementioned items.

The kale from the Park Slope Food co-op shines above all other kale!

The kale from the Park Slope Food co-op shines above all other kale!

These soups are winter staples so I’ll try to post more of my quick and dirty “recipes” for each soup. (and perhaps, my favorite convenience meals in general.) Let’s begin with the Miso Ramen. The easiest, fastest comfort food around!

 

Ingredients:

1 Cup Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods Miso Ramen

White and Red Miso Paste (I prefer Miso Master)

1 tsp dried Wakame seaweed

Upton’s Seitan

TSP (Texturized Soy Protein)

1 tsp sesame seeds

Lacinato kale

Directions:

Steam kale, reserving the cooking water. Boil some additional water in a kettle, about 2 cups.

Get thee a large bowl. Add about 2 tsp white miso and 1 tsp red miso in the bowl (beware- if you don’t like salt or have high blood pressure, skip the extra miso and water!) Add 2 Tbsp hot water to the miso paste and whisk with a fork.

Add contents of soup cup (noodles and flavor packet,) 1 Tbsp TSP and dried seaweed to your bowl.

Pour your (just boiled) cooking water into the bowl. Stir and check the flavor. If too thin, add more miso. If too strong, add more water. Cover with a plate or lid. Let stand for 1 minute or till noodles are soft.

Chop the kale while noodles soften, then uncover and add your kale and sesame seeds. Slurp.

 

Stay warm and dry people!

 

 

Secret Weapon Purple Miso Soup

Winter is certainly upon us! Here in Brooklyn we’ve had a string of days in the teens, and that means soup- a lot of it. Cold certainly sends me toward soup, but so does the annual effect of said cold. That is, a cold! Whether it’s a tinge of sore throat or full on flu, nothing makes me feel better than this recipe. Miso soup is this vegan’s version of that other soup people eat when they’re sick.

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Why is this soup purple? Because it’s made from purple cabbage cooking water. You can definitely use different vegetables, but cabbage flavors the cooking water beautifully, making a richer broth. And while you’re eating cabbage, you might as well eat the purple variety as it’s high in anthocyanins, potent cancer-preventative phytonutrients. Anyway, how often do you get to eat purple soup?

Current vegetable obsession- purple and rainbow carrots! Pick up the organic rainbow carrots and Trader Joe's or your local farmer's market!

Current vegetable obsession- purple and rainbow carrots! Pick up the organic rainbow carrots and Trader Joe’s or your local farmer’s market!

Miso is one of my all time favorite ingredients. It’s savory, umami, and salty. Plus it’s a whole soy food, so you get those incredibly healthful isoflavones. One of my pet peeves though are recipes that recommend cooking miso. Big no-no. Miso may confer some probiotic effects, so never cook the paste. The best way to dilute miso is to add just a couple of tablespoons of hot water to the paste, then whisk with a fork. At that point, you can add it to your soup (or stews, grains, or nearly anything else) Never boil it!

The kale from the Park Slope Food co-op shines above all other kale!

The kale from the Park Slope Food co-op shines above all other kale!

I find that miso soup tastes best with both white (sweeter) and darker red/brown miso as ingredients. You can get away with just one, but the complexity of the two is divine. The nutritional yeast adds just the extra bit of umami to make this soup so comforting. Let’s get to work.

Recipe:

Serves 1-2

Ingredients:

6 cups water, boiled

1 Tbsp White Miso

2 Tbsp Red or Brown Rice Miso

2 Tbsp TVP  (or 1/4 cup cooked lentils)

1-2 Tbsp Dried wakame

2 tsp Nutritional Yeast, B12 Fortified 

2 tsp sesame seeds

Purple cabbage, Lacinato Kale, and /or greens of your choice

2 carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch chunks

Boil a kettle with about 6 cups of water.

First, steam your veggies. Pour about 4 cups of the water you previously boiled into a large pot. Place carrots and cabbage into a veggie steamer above the water.  After about 4 minutes, add the kale. Steam for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove veggies from pot, reserve the cooking liquid. 

Meanwhile: soak seaweed in water for a couple of minutes. When softened, drain, rinse and chop into shreds if not already shredded.

In a large bowl, add the miso. Add a small amount of your cooking water to thin your miso paste- about 2 Tbsps water .(it need not be precise.) Whisk miso and cooking water until you no longer have large chunks of miso. Add TVP, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast and seaweed.

Add remaining cooking water to the bowl. Stir to incorporate miso. Taste and add more water from the kettle if needed. (it will likely need it) Add vegetables. Enjoy!

Savory Butternut Squash and Tomatoes

I don’t know about you, but as soon as fall rolls around, I’m ready to eat all of the squash. From October to March you can always count on at least one variety of squash (and a pile of sweet potatoes) residing in my kitchen. They’re truly fall and winter staples.

When it comes to squash, butternut and kabocha are my all time favorites. I’m pretty lazy with kabocha and generally just do a quick steam. But I’m willing to put in the time with butternut. True, it’s rich and savory simply baked in the oven with a brush of olive oil. But this dish, adapted from a 2007  New York Times recipe, turns an already beloved ingredient into a complex and comforting centerpiece. Make it for a dinner party, holiday or potluck and I guarantee you’ll get rave reviews.

Kabocha squash is nutty, sweet and pairs so well with cranberries.

Kabocha squash is nutty, sweet and pairs so well with cranberries.

The Times’ original recipe serves as a pasta sauce, but I’ve adapted (and veganized) it into the main affair with the addition of beans. In lieu of said beans, I’ve also used Beyond Meat chick’n or tempeh, either do nicely. Definitely serve it with a heap of broccoli rabe, kale or another dark, leafy green. The garlicky squash and deep greens are the perfect pair. But feel free to round it all out by piling the squash onto whole wheat pasta or quinoa. Either way, this is a satisfying dish that will warm and comfort you on the cold nights to come!

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Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup sliced shallots

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)

1 butternut squash, cubed or shredded

1 can white beans or chick peas

1 Tbsp Nutritional yeast (or to taste)

Pink salt or sea salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, shallots and pepper flakes and cook for about a minute; add tomatoes and squash, and cook with some salt and pepper.

2. When squash is tender — about 15 minutes  — add beans and nutritional yeast. Stir to incorporate and cook until beans are heated through.

Juice against Cancer

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I’ll bet you were beginning to think that I abandoned this blog. And I wouldn’t blame you if you did! Unfortunately, spring has brought it’s share of unforeseen challenges. Less than 14 months after my father died from metastatic melanoma, (widespread skin cancer) my mother was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma- cancer of the bile duct. It’s almost unbelievable to fathom- both of my parents had cancer at the same time. And my brave Mom, the ever doting wife, sublimated her own suffering to care for my father’s needs.

My parents on their wedding day. 34 years later, they were united in cancer.

My parents on their wedding day. 34 years later, they were united in cancer.

Two weeks ago she had a nine hour procedure to remove the tumor and part of her pancreas. Once she heals from the intense procedure, she will begin at least 8 months of chemotherapy.

As a nutrition student, one who spends every moment researching the therapeutic value of food, I wish that I could offer direct assistance to my Mom. Through modest dietary changes, such as adding more colorful organic fruits and vegetables, we could maximize her chance at remission. I would inform her of the harmful effects of nitrosamines, found in foods such as cured meats, smoked fish, and cheese, all of which are big players in her diet. (1,2)  These compounds are suspected to be potent carcinogens, and specifically implicated as a factor in cholangiocarcinoma. (3)

Lest you misunderstand, by no means am I placing blame on my Mom (or anyone in a similar situation) for her cancer. But we can take an active role in our  health- what we eat has a tremendous impact on our bodies. Our diet can contribute to disease, but it can also help to heal us.

My glamorous Mom just hours after giving birth to me. On my birthday last week, she was once again in a hospital bed, recovering from cancer surgery.

My glamorous Mom just hours after giving birth to me. On my birthday last week, she was once again in a hospital bed, recovering from cancer surgery.

But my Mom does not agree here. Unfortunately she does not want to make any dietary changes, and the mere mention of the issue would upset her. So this is a place where, tough as it is, I have to let go. Just as I had to let go on this topic when my Dad had cancer.

Did you know that only 5-10% of cancers are hereditary? This means that 90%-95% of cancers are due to environmental causes. Diet accounts for  30% to 35% of these cases. That’s 5 to 10% more than cases related to smoking! (4) Because of this reality, doctors and scientists are beginning to stress that cancer is a preventable disease, the avoidance of which requires major lifestyle changes.

As a 6 year vegan (with 20 years of vegetarianism behind that,) these statistics are also why I’m not obsessing over the contents of my DNA. We absolutely do have a say in our health- it’s not necessarily the luck of the draw.

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And whether or not our genes predispose us to cancer, the genes we are born with do not necessarily dictate our long-term health. Our diet can keep our DNA healthy and intact, or it can contribute to mutation. For instance, heterocyclic amines, compounds that form when cooking animal flesh, (including fish) dairy and eggs have been shown to induce mutation. (5) Inversely, phytochemicals, (anti-cancer compounds in plants) keep genetic material intact and combat oxidation. (the latter can also lead to genetic mutation.) (6)

And those same phytochemicals can actually reverse cancer cell progression! Random clinical trials have shown us that such fruits as strawberries and cranberries can actually halt and reverse cancer cell growth.(7) Even without chemotherapy! Such a simple, delicious addition to one’s diet can be truly lifesaving.

Make one for yourself and one for someone else you want to remain healthy!

Make one for yourself and one for someone else you want to remain healthy!

When someone is sick, you can only do your best.  Do the best you can to be a support to your loved ones and to yourself. But so often at these times we overlook our own needs as they just don’t feel important enough. Just like my mom did when Dad was sick. It’s so easy to get lost in the chaos when you’re concentrating on how you can help others.

It can be a challenge to feed yourself well when anxiety is raging. But in trying times we need to pay attention to nutrition even more. So while I can’t help my mom with nutritional support if she’s not willing to go that route, I can make a concerted effort to eat healthfully, and as a nutritional consultant I can also provide information so that others may do likewise.

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So on to the recipe. After a long day in a stuffy hospital, nothing energizes me more than a bright, fresh juice blend. With every sip  I can just feel the nutrients replenish my body. And with cancer all around me, I have the continual reminder of the importance of phytochemicals. Smoothies and juices are a wonderful way to get all those colorful wondernutrients in. This blend combines several powerful phytochemicals, chiefly anthocyanins, betacyanins and bromelian. It has a bold, fruity flavor that’s both satisfying and potentially lifesaving.

Save those beet greens! Just toss in olive oil and garlic and you're all set.

Save those beet greens! Just toss in olive oil and garlic and you’re all set.

It’s no secret that the beet-pineapple connection is one of my favorite recent discoveries. The earthy beet pairs perfectly with the rich, tart flavor and sweetness of pineapple. The strawberries make this blend even more complex and unique.

You’d never know that this indulgent drink was good for you, and I guarantee that kids won’t know either- it’s a perfect veggie-disguse recipe for people (old or young) who refuse to eat their veggies.  I could also see hiding some spinach in there.

I'll use this glass for the cocktail.

I’ll use this glass for the cocktail.

My usual note on ingredients- go organic! The pineapple is ok to buy  conventional (thick skin protects the fruit from insects, thus fewer pesticides needed,) but you’re truly doing your body a disservice if you’re eating conventional strawberries, listed on the dirty dozen. And there’s nothing between the soil and that beet. Plus phytonutrient activity is far higher in organic produce.

Uber Antioxidant Juice Blend

Yields about 2 pints- enough for two servings.

Ingredients:

1 large beet

1/4 pineapple

6 frozen strawberries

1/2 cup chilled coconut water

6 ice cubes

Directions:

Remove the greens from your beetroot- if you like (and you should!) reserve the greens for dinner. No need to peel your beetroots. When cutting your pineapple, keep the core in there. (fiber is the crowning glory of blended juice) Cut the beet in a few chunks- same for the pineapple. Throw beets, then strawberries, then pineapple, coconut water, then ice into a Vitamix. Crush down ingredients with the tamper- the beets and ice will take a little pushing just to get them going. Process on high for about 60 seconds. Pour into glasses and drink immediately! Cheers!

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Sources:

1) http://nutritionfacts.org/video/when-nitrites-go-bad/

2) http://nutritionfacts.org/video/prevention-is-better-than-cured-meat/

3) http://www.cancer.org/cancer/bileductcancer/detailedguide/bile-duct-cancer-risk-factors

4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515569/

5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17174486

6) http://pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/nutrition/how-other-phytochemicals-help-protect-against

7)  http://nutritionfacts.org/video/strawberries-versus-esophageal-cancer/