Tag Archives: antioxidants

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!

 

 

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/

Superfast Cranberry Pineapple Sauce

Ah, those gorgeous colors of fall. And I don’t just mean the trees! I love the saturated, contrasting color of autumn foods. I waited patiently for cranberries to re-emerge on the shelves, and excitedly picked up the first bag I saw. While it was the middle of the day and I should have been doing homework, I simply couldn’t wait any longer to make this year’s first batch of cranberry sauce.

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Now I know what you’re thinking: “I can find a recipe for cranberry sauce on the back of the bag.” Well that may be true. But I for one have a hard time ruining perfectly beautiful cranberries with refined white sugar. Sorry! Just can’t do it.

Anyway, I like a lot of cranberry sauce on my Tofurky, or whatever cranberry vehicle is on my plate. And that means a lot of cranberry sauce, considering everything is a vehicle for cranberries in my book. So around Thanksgiving each year, I search the web for a lightened up cranberry sauce, never to find one I like. This year I decided to get it down to a science and share it with you lovely people.

This cranberry is lightened up, but has such complex, bright flavors you’ll never miss all that sugar. It’s tangy, subtly sweet and gorgeously healthful. The maple syrup sets it up beautifully, and gives it that extra fall -esque comforty flavor. So quick to make, it’s an any- day affair.

Kabocha, kale, Barry's Tempeh (all 3 steamed out of laziness/hunger) and Superfast cranberry-pineapple sauce.

Kabocha, kale, Barry’s Tempeh and Superfast Cranberry-Pineapple sauce.

It’s perfect to accompany basics like squash, (I used kabocha here) and for complimenting any savory veggie protein staple. For me it was the incomparable Barry’s Tempeh, (so good it needs no marinade) but future plans include robust Apple-Sage Field Roast Sausages, and of course, Celebration Loaf. And I won’t judge you if you simply spoon it onto Tofurky slices in front of the refrigerator. (hmm, I wonder who has been doing just that?;)

The gorgeous, saturated color that makes cranberries so nice to look at is also why they are amazing antioxidants. In that red color are the polyphenols- phytochemicals that have some of the most potent antioxidant activity. Polyphenols may contribute to cardiovascular health, immunity, and play an important role in cancer prevention. So get those cranberries in- as usual, without dairy, as dairy inhibits antioxidant activity.

So get this sauce on the stove and listen to the music of the popping cranberries- one of my favorite sounds! Serve up the sauce with your favorites, and bask in the warm Thanksgiving-like vibe without feeling like you need to open your pants.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hope you have a wonderful day filled with family, friends, joy and compassion. I consider all animals my friends, and I don’t eat my friends! Turkeys are no exception- my table will be full of delicious plant-based foods. Around this time of year I think about how special turkeys are- so does Karen Dawn. I hope you’ll watch this heartwarming rescue story – it shows how loving, warm and friendly these birds truly are- just like your cats and dogs.

Cranberry – Pineapple Sauce

Recipe notes: About stevia- make sure to get a good quality brand. Some are just crazy bitter, causing many to believe they don’t like stevia. It doesn’t have to be that way! I suggest Trader Joe’s organic, or 365 brand from Whole foods. If you know any other good ones, please share in the comments! If you’re not into stevia, don’t worry- just follow the no-fail tried and tested non-stevia sweetening directions below.

Ingredients:

12 oz package cranberries

1/3 cup water

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2 tiny stevia spoonfuls (about 1/8 tsp)

3/4 cup fresh pineapple, diced

Method:

Add cranberries, water and maple syrup to a small pot. Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce to low-medium and cover partially, just so that the cranberries don’t splutter everywhere! After about 7-10 minutes, add pineapple and one tiny stevia spoon-full of stevia, stir well to incorporate. Cook until pineapple is just soft enough and the water is fully incorporated. (in total, about 15 minutes) Check for sweetness, mix in the second spoon of stevia at this point if it’s too tart.

This sauce is a lightened up version of a classic, but if you’re not into stevia, sub in 1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup. (start with 1/3, add a bit more if needed. I find 1/3 cup is perfect, but you may like it sweeter.)

Grown Up Antioxidant Slushie

vvpLOGO*A big welcome to you, virtual vegan potluck attendee! Thanks for stopping by. This recipe, an ode to beets and sweets, fit in with the potluck’s featured ingredient. But please do have a look around my blog if you like what you see here!*

I had a ridiculous sweet tooth as a kid- so bad that I recall most of my juvenile activities in the context of the garbage I put into my mouth. I can still feel my feet on the warm concrete as I stood in line at the Scarsdale Pool snack bar. French fries and ketchup wafted around me in the queue as I tried to decide- Fun Dip or those greasy fries?  Fun Dip invariably won out- I mean, it’s an activity as well as “food!” I didn’t love Sugarbush ski school, but I did look forward to a break in the toasty lodge, a mammoth chocolate chip cookie and a cup of hot chocolate in my icy hands. And after weekly figure skating lessons, I recall teetering off the ice to inexplicably consume some sugary ice. I was a sucker for a Slush Puppie.

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For those unfamiliar- Slush Puppies are like Slurpees (and I had my fill of those too, once I got to high school)- the ingredient list likely reads: high fructose corn syrup, red dye # 3 and/or  Blue #2, water. Freeze that up, swirl it around in a machine, throw in a cute doggie mascot and the kids start tugging at mom for the cash.

Many slurps later I am decidedly more conscious as to what goes in my mouth. It’s been a long haul, but since I’ve been vegan, new and healthy foods  become part of my repertoire frequently- my last hurdle was to accept veggie juices & smoothies. I spent two years talking myself out of a Vitamix, but finally ran out of convincing excuses a few weeks ago. One charge later, I am the proud mama of that gorgeous invention.

Lovely organic beets from the Union Square farmer's market.

Lovely organic beets from the Union Square farmer’s market.

Back to those Slush Puppies. I’ve been fine-tuning my juiceblend procedure over the last couple of weeks since the Vitamix has resided on my counter. Let me tell you, there is a serious learning curve here people! On first attempt my beet-carrot- pineapple juice was reminiscent of borscht. Drinkable, and certainly tasty, but more food than drink. With the addition of ice, several successive attempts yielded what might be described as pink- tinged carrot dressing. (I consumed it, sans salad.)

But today, I am in juice heaven. Doubling up on ice and extra process time yielded the perfect texture and flavor. The happy surprise was that lovely icey nostalgia of what could be called a grown up Slush Puppie. (Slush Dog?) With a glass of this slushy juice in hand, I can hear the comical tunes of the skaterink organist in 1982. Gone is the syrupy sweetness of youth’s slush, but the dayglo color is still here! (Even more beautiful, I think.) I mean, just look at that gorgeous pink. That’s the phenomenal phytochemical power in the beets.

Did you know that beets rank highest of all veggies in antioxidant concentration? At least as far as we know- in the most recent study, beets won out over the previous ruling champion, spinach, in antioxidant content. Beets get their color from betacyanins, powerful phytonutrients that protect plants from UV exposure and disease. And guess what? Those same phytonutrients protect us from disease. Diseases like cancer.

 Just as yummy slightly melted. Love the layers of concentrated, pulpy and icey.

Just as yummy slightly melted. Love the layers of concentrated, pulpy and icey.

Beetroots are a stellar source of folic acid, fiber, manganese and potassium. But don’t forget about the greens attached to those roots! Both the greens and roots are great source of magnesium, phosphorus, some iron and vitamin B6. (However not all of the iron can be absorbed due to the high concentration of oxalates in beets, so you don’t want to count on this plant exclusively for iron.) The greens are even higher in nutritional value than beetroots – they’re richer in calcium, iron and vitamins A & C. So eat both the root and the greens- a quick steam or a toss in a pan with olive oil and garlic is all you need.

The sweetness and tang of the pineapple is a lovely compliment to the beet’s earthiness. And you can just feel your body taking in those anti-cancer nutrients, thanking you with every sip.
The first glass is full on slushy, but as it melts the texture and flavor becomes even more complex, yielding layers of frozen, semi-frozen and melted- it’s almost a slushy parfait. I just loved seeing the layers of vibrant pink.
It feels kind of decadent, but it’s just so good for you. And in a way taking care of yourself is decadent experience too. So indulge away!

Had to show you that beautiful texture close up.
Had to show you that beautiful texture close up.

A note on the (very simple) ingredient list. Go organic with your beets. This gorgeous magenta root will be pulverized raw, giving you a huge boost of nutrients, but if he’s commercial, you’ll also get a nice dose of neurotoxins. Organic beets are cheap anyway- here in price engorged New York City, I get a ridiculous bunch of 12 beets for a mere $3.50 at the farmer’s market, with so many greens they won’t fit in the crisper. That’s enough juice for more than a week plus 2 or more servings of greens! Don’t skimp on your body, people.
The pineapple is theoretically ok to buy conventional, as they have tough skins and are less desirable to insects, thus fewer pesticides are needed. But if you can find organic, that’s always ideal.

So here we go.
Yields 1 1/2 pints- enough for two, but certainly drinkable by one!

Ingredients:
1 large beetroot (preferably organic)
1/4 pineapple
1 1/2 to 2 cups ice

variation: use 1 cup ice and 1 cup frozen coconut water. It will be slightly sweeter, so if you enjoy the sweetness level as is, use less pineapple or more beets!

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!the crowning glory of blended juice) Cut the beet in a few chunks- same for the pineapple. Throw beets, then pineapple, then ice into a Vitamix.
Squish 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- not much longer or you’ll just have juice.

Pour into glasses and drink immediately! Yum. Pink mustache removal is optional.

ps. While I call this “grown up,” I’m certain kids will love this juice too! What kid doesn’t love a sweet, icy treat? A perfect way to trick them into super healthy veggies.

What’s your favorite juice? Would love to hear.

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