Tag Archives: vegan

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.

Becoming Greener

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Greetings dear VVP Potluckers! Hope you’re not full-up on smoothies yet-  I beseech you to give just one more a go. Our featured ingredient (by way of orange) sings along with spinach, pineapple and coconut water in the recipe below my “green awakening” story. Enjoy, and happy potlucking!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I was scared of green smoothies until just this past summer. Kind of hard to believe, considering the fact that I love greens, I love my Vitamix, and I’m a vegan nearly-nutritionist. Thankfully, all this has changed, and I have The Seed and Victoria Moran to thank.

The Seed is a plant-based nutrition expo/ conference based in New York- this years’ was held in early August in Soho. Dozens of vegan luminaries gather to speak, give demos and generally inspire us all. There are also scores of vendors showcasing their foods and services. I was lucky enough to attend both days thanks to my friend Sarah, amazing creator of the unparalleled Rescue Chocolate.

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Over the course of the weekend I was awed by incredible speakers, among them were Victoria Moran, JL Fields, Jenny Brown of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Dr. Robert Ostfeld of the Montefiore Cardiac Wellness Program. Each of these lecturers left me feeling inspired and re-invigorated in my own plant-based nutrition mission. Months later I still revisit their talks in my mind.

So what does this have to do with green juice? I began my Seed experience at Victoria Moran’s talk on the subject of aging gracefully inside and out. If there’s anyone who is an authority there, it is Ms. Moran, as she is gorgeous, eternally youthful and full of vitality. Each time I hear her speak I hang on her every word- she’s not only entertaining but oh so wise. And she’s one of those women who simply glows. Seriously, her skin is just luminescent.

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During her talk, she lauded the power of green juice. “When you’re feeling like that latte at 3pm- get yourself a green juice instead. And then if you still feel like the latte, have that, but I’m pretty sure you won’t.”  Yes, I love my soy latte. But if Victoria’s regimen has anything to do with that unbelievable glow, I’m willing to give it a shot.

So I started drinking green right after her talk. (I went for the smoothie and not the juice, but I still drank my veggies. More on the difference to come) It was a pineapple-orange-spinach coconut water blend and it was my epiphany. I chased that with several other juice & smoothie samples over the two days at the Seed, I particularly loved the Green Mustache orange mango smoothie.

One of the fragrant green smoothies I sampled at the Seed. Orange mango and greens, another combo I need to make at home!

One of the fragrant green smoothies I sampled at the Seed. Orange mango and greens, another combo I need to make at home!

Still I didn’t believe that this sweet green elixir could ever replace my latte or sundry caffeine/ chocolate fix. But wouldn’t you know, it eventually did just that. There I was yesterday, late afternoon, standing at the refrigerator, poised to eat a piece of chocolate when it hit me. I don’t really want chocolate, I want ANOTHER green smoothie! Yes, two green smoothies in one day- I’m still in shock.

(btw, this is not to say there’s anything wrong with chocolate, but when I want chocolate it’s generally because I have low blood sugar.  Chocolate isn’t going to fix that in the long run.)

 And then miraculously, I actually went for two days in a row without coffee. So yes, Victoria was completely spot on.

The inaugural green smoothie at the Seed

The inaugural green smoothie at the Seed

Why should we drink green smoothies & juices anyway? The same reason we need to eat our veggies. Most Americans eat less than one serving of fruits and vegetables daily. No wonder we are so sick- vegetables are really not optional. The micronutrients and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables are integral to so many of the basic metabolic processes our bodies perform everyday.

We may not initially see the damage we do our bodies by depriving ourselves of these vital nutrients. But it catches up with us eventually, and may manifest in any number of forms from obesity to osteoporosis to cancer.

In fact the risk of cancer decreases with an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, and the earlier in life one begins eating large amounts of these foods, the more protection one has. So really, we should try to get in as many servings of fruits and veggies as we possibly can. Even the five a day recommendation is really conservative.

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Here’s why smoothies are so amazing. If you really tried, you could probably get in 10 servings of fruits and veggies into one 12 oz glass. My smoothies have at least four or five. I try to get in at least three servings of green veggies along with a fruit or two. Your green smoothie will provide you with iron, calcium, protein, and so many other important vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

And why am I touting smoothies and not necessarily juice? Juice is great too, I drink juices now and then when I’m out and about. But I chose to buy a Vitamix because making smoothies retains all of the fiber, and phytochemicals work synergistically with the fiber to which they are bound.  Drinking the vegetables and fruits in their whole forms can be even more powerful than drinking the nutrients stripped from the fiber, which occurs in juicing.

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And fiber is incredibly important of it’s own accord- it helps in cancer prevention, in maintaining good cholesterol levels, a healthy weight, and healthy blood sugar levels. And remember, we only get fiber through plant foods.

Another plus for the smoothie side- many nutrients are fat soluble, so they are more bioavailable in the presence of healthful fats. Adding a little coconut or almond milk to your smoothie will help your body soak up all those vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from the fruits and vegetables. But please, don’t add cow’s milk (or any other animal’s) as dairy inhibits our uptake of phytonutrients.

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Nowadays my first stop in the morning is the Vitamix. Even before I have my tea! It took a wee bit of experimenting but I’ve arrived at my favorite combination of ingredients. I do vary it a bit, but my eye opening smoothie needs a base of pineapple, spinach and coconut in some form. I suggest:

2 or 3 two-inch slices of pineapple (roughly 1/8 of a medium pineapple)

3 cups baby spinach

1 small orange

1/2 cup coconut water

3 coconut water ice cubes (just pour coconut water into an ice cube tray, and voila!)

30 seconds in the Vitamix and there you have it- delectable green power.

For variation, sometimes I’ll add some mango or some frozen organic berries. But beware! Berries will turn your juice brown. While it still tastes divine, it makes me sad to lose that green hue.

So thank you Victoria- I’m finally on team green. Hope you, dear reader, will join us!

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YOU Can Help Reverse Climate Change- Don’t Pass the Buck

400,000 people turned up to the People’s Climate March on Sunday here in New York City. The consensus is clear- we don’t want to drown under rising oceans or burn up under depleted ozone. But how many of those marching really want to do what it takes to turn this thing around?

I salute the thousands who took to the streets. The vegan contingent was impressive, and I sincerely hope that their signs were a beacon to the rest of the march. But sadly, my vegan brethren were just a fraction of those marching. The majority ate the very meat, dairy and eggs en route that are responsible for an estimated 51% of greenhouse gas emissions.

I don’t doubt that the marchers are concerned for the state of the planet. But I do question whether the majority are truly willing to be part of the solution.

From Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary's Instagram feed

From Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary’s Instagram feed

The marchers wanted to inspire the U.N. to take notice of the environment. But to me this seems like passing the buck. Rather than acknowledge their own respective roles in the environment’s decline, it was simpler to blame climate change on “world leaders.”

In any case, giving the U.N. this task does not absolve us of responsibility as individuals. Any potential U.N. action would mean little if the rest of us are unwilling to affect change. Activism does not end with holding a sign. In my mind, activism implies taking real action, and in the case of the environment, the most important action we can take is abstaining from eating meat, dairy and eggs.

 While it’s hard to avoid hearing of animal agriculture’s devastating environmental consequences, few seem to make the connection that their personal food choices impact our planet. Perhaps it is denial, perhaps laziness. Nevertheless, throughout the day Sunday I saw countless posts from proud meat eaters on the march. In some cases, literally holding a picket sign in one hand and a burger in the other. Anti-fracking signs notwithstanding, they simply continued the behavior that keeps climate change on it’s current, deadly trajectory.

The Cowspiracy team, a new documentary on this very issue

The Cowspiracy team, a new documentary on this very issue

Which is why Sunday left me feeling skeptical. This is the same skepticism I reserve for campaigns like pink ribbons adorning buckets of chicken. KFC wants us to think they’re fighting breast cancer, but in reality they’re selling carcinogens (like PHIP and HCAs) in big greasy buckets. The same principle applies to many of the marchers. Saying you want to rid the world of a scourge is great, be it breast cancer or global warming. But back up the idea with action. Don’t sell or consume the product that contributes to it’s very creation.

In other words, if you want to affect change, BE that change.

photo: Marisa Miller Wolfson

photo: Marisa Miller Wolfson

But who knows, there could be hundreds of thousands who went to the march and didn’t have an inkling about the dark side of the meat, dairy and eggs they eat. So let’s just say you went to the People’s Climate March for the fun of it. And perhaps, for the first time, you made the connection- it’s not just the transit sector, fracking, the factories and generally other people in other places far beyond our control. Suddenly you realized that global warming is the result of our collective behavior, beginning with what we eat every day. That’s a lot to take in. So where do you go from here?

Where to go next? How about your local farmer's market! Photo: Lauren Krohn

Where to go next? How about your local farmer’s market! Photo: Lauren Krohn

Look at it this way. You’re in a really powerful position- you can play a part in reversing climate change RIGHT NOW! You can contribute to a better world by voting with your pocketbook as well as your fork. It’s in our hands, and the longer we tell ourselves it’s someone else’s problem, the bigger the problem gets.

And if you’re reading this post when it’s hot off the press, you’re in luck. It’s Monday, which means it’s Meatless Monday! Clearly there’s no better place to start. So try one meatless day, or one meal if that’s all you’re ready for. (mind you, there’s no sin in making it a Meatless Tuesday if that’s the day you’re reading. Or you know, in general.)

Yes my friend, vegan pancakes exist and they're even better than the other kind. Photo: Lauren Krohn

Yes my friend, vegan pancakes exist and they’re even better than the other kind. Photo: Lauren Krohn

And don’t forget, while animal-based meat fuels global warming at an alarming rate, plant-based meats such as Tofurky, Field Roast, Beyond Meat and Gardein are sustainable foods that use a tiny fraction of the resources used for animal-based “foods.”

Listed below are some of my all time favorite food blogs, each of which demonstrates that animal-free food is diverse, decadent and fun. It’s not all salad people, believe you me. In this day and age, any dish you can imagine can be made vegan.

Virtually anywhere on earth, you can find phenomenal vegan fare. I had this coconut curry  on a tiny remote island in the Florda keys. Photo: Lauren Krohn

Virtually anywhere on earth, you can find phenomenal vegan fare. I had this coconut curry on a tiny remote island in the Florda keys. Photo: Lauren Krohn

Not only will you help our earth by ditching animal flesh and secretions (yup, that’s what eggs and dairy are,) you’ll be helping yourself to a life with a lower incidence of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and so many other diseases. There are quite a few other reasons, including ending world hunger, and, oh yeah, the welfare of billions of exploited animals.

So let’s eat. If you want to get lunch right now, check out Happy Cow. Find vegetarian & vegan food anywhere you travel, or right at home!

Or get cooking with some of my favorite

Recipe Blogs:

www.ohsheglows.com

www.olivesfordinner.com

www.kblog.lunchboxbunch.com

www.forkandbeans.com

www.theppk.com

www.thesweetlifeonline.com

www.bittersweetblog.com

www.veganeatsandtreats.com

www.veganricha.com

www.meettheshannons.com

Or maybe your interest is piqued on this issue, and you’re ready to learn more about animal “agriculture”‘s place in global warming. Then check out the powerful documentary Meat the Truth.

Here are some great places to learn more about veganism, the why’s, how’s, and who’s-

www.joyfulvegan.com

www.vegansociety.com

www.farmsanctuary.com

http://www.ourhenhouse.org/

Home

Nutrition& Health

www.theveganrd.com

www.veganhealth.org

www.PCRM.org

www.nutritionfacts.org

www.drfuhrman.com/library/articles.aspx

www.veganforher.com/nutrition/the-plant-plate/

I leave you with a great video from the people at Chomping Climate Change, where you can find everything you need to know about the link between animal agriculture and the environment. For our planet, for our future, for the animals, for health- so many reasons, just one solution. Be that change. What do you have to lose?

Questions? Please feel free to ask in the comments! 

Support Research, Not Vivisection

I love the Vegan Zombie’s take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. (Well, why wouldn’t I, as I love EVERYTHING they do. They could just do laundry on their zlog and I’d watch.) It’s great that they’re supporting awareness of the disease while simultaneously bringing attention to the plight of lab animals in medical testing.

In addition to being cruel and unnecessary, animal testing is terribly outdated, expensive and ineffective. In the age of the genome,we have far more advanced and effective technology in conducting medical research. Read more about progressive, humane methods on the Anti-Vivisection Society’s website.

Sure, I’m speaking as an animal rights advocate, but I also have CRPS, an as-yet incurable nerve disease for which I would like to see a cure in the future. While I often have unrelenting pain, I would never pass on that pain to dogs, monkeys or mice through futile animal research. Particularly when there are more effective, humane research methods available. Torturing animals won’t get us where we need to go, in fact it slows us down. While scientists are wasting time on archaic, misleading animal research techniques, they could be sequencing genomes and making strides.

So please, if you wish to further the course of research, consider a contribution to one of these progressive charities, and not the ALS Association. And if you want to further ALS research, send their foundation an email, or call, urging them to stop testing on animals.

Oh, and did I mention that I met the Vegan Zombie crew at The Seed here in NYC last weekend?  Here I am with my favorite zombie slayers, just a little starstruck. zombie

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/

Just hours from Paradise

Pedicure done. Bikinis and sunscreen packed. All set to depart cold, wet and dreary New York City for paradise incarnate- a tiny, breathtakingly beautiful island in Southern Florida called Big Pine Key. There, on a quiet Atlantic beach sits the Deer Run Bed and Breakfast, a small, peaceful, eco-friendly/ all around friendly getaway. The vegan breakfasts are to die for, each one a multi-course event leaving one sated until dinner. Guests eat their inspired repast on a sun – drenced patio overlooking a glistening ocean as tiny Key Deer roam the beach.

The Beach at Deer Run B&B. Where I go in my mind to escape on a daily basis!

The Beach at Deer Run B&B, my stomping grounds from Monday until Friday. And where I go in my mind to escape on a daily basis!

Who are the Key Deer you ask? Oh, no big deal, only miniature, docile deer no larger than small dogs. Truly the most adorable animal species on planet earth.

I will also mingle with tree frogs, iguanas, several resident kitties and a sweet, smart bird named Angel. One day I’ll drive up to Marathon Key to commune with sea turtles at The Turtle Hospital. I’ll spend hours paddling, checking out the sea dwellers in a glass- bottom kayak. In the evening I’ll watch the sun dip behind the ocean while I’m ensconced in the beach-side saltwater jacuzzi. Jealous yet?

The sweet, tiny Key Deer

The sweet, tiny Key Deer

This will be my third trip to paradise but my first one solo – I have no doubt that it will be the best one yet. I love completely independent travel, adventures open themselves up to me in a completely different way than when I travel with a companion.

I’ve also learned quite a bit as as a photographer since the last visit, so I’m excited to attempt some semblance of visual justice to the surroundings, inhabitants and food. So prepare for prodigious food porn, multitudes of adorable animals and sundry envy- inducing images in the days to come. When I’m done with you, I challenge you NOT to book a room at Deer Run STAT.

A tiny hatchling at the Turtle Hospital

A tiny hatchling at the Turtle Hospital

My bestie deer. This guy loved me!

My bestie deer. This guy loved me!

 

 

 

Eating My Way Across the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

If you can believe it, this was my first trip to the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, now in it’s 4th year. And yes, I have been missing out. Each year this festival brings in loads of food vendors showcasing their tasty new products. Additionally there are many inspiring nonprofits in attendance, and an impressive roster of speakers. I won’t have the chance to go in depth on the festival background or the important organizations there this past weekend, but please stop over to the VFF’s website for more info.

Robyn and Stephanie chow down on some soul food.

Robyn and Stephanie chow down on some soul food.

With scores of vendors, I can hardly review all of the products but I’m going to rave the pants off quite a few standouts!

1. Marty’s Fast Foods

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I was barely in the doors when the sweet & tangy aroma of barbeque beckoned. It wafted into the main space trumping every other marvelous scent. We were basically getting a contact high.

Just inside the main entrance, a mob of hungry festivalgoers thronged around the Marty’s Fast Foods stand, a restaurant set to open soon in our town. My mom’s mantra, “Don’t buy the first thing you see” echoed in my brain as it often does, (did anyone else’s mom say that too?) but an hour later, my nose kept pulling me back to those drumsticks. And after hearing several superlative reviews from friends, I plunked down $3 for 2: one BBQ and one Buffalo. Best $3 ever spent! At least in recent memory.

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The drumstick itself was really succulent. Not even remotely dry like some of the plant-based chickens of old. There’s a crunchy coating that isn’t at all greasy, all smothered in a just-sweet enough, tangy barbeque sauce. It was truly heavenly. The Buffalo flavor was also pretty good, but I preferred the sweet vs savory richness of the BBQ sauce. (Incidentally, the Buffalo drumstick was generally served with a Bleu cheese dressing, but I was never a fan of cheese, even the plant-based variety, so I passed on that.)

2. DF Mavens Ice CreamIMG_0579

Just next to Marty’s was some of the most dangerous stuff at the Festival. I’ve been reading about DF Mavens for months now- they’re slated to open a store in the East Village soon. But this was my first opportunity to try their product. Nothing could have prepared me for the deliciousness that awaited. This is the ice cream to end all ice creams. Creamy and rich with incredibly intense flavors, it’s just an inspiration.

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Perhaps I should have been a bit shy about trying 6 flavors, particularly when dozens of drooling customers awaited their own samples. But alas, shyness has never been my strongpoint. DF Mavens makes both almond milk based and coconut milk based  varieties- of the former I sampled the Mocha Almond chip, Chocolate Almond Fudge, and Mint Almond Cookie. All were incredibly tasty, with a rich and intense chocolate flavor. I also tried the coconut based Madagasacar Vanilla Bean as well as Chocolate.  The vanilla was some of the most vanilla-y vanilla I’ve ever tasted. So much so that it challenges your idea of vanilla.

I’m going to be in big trouble when the store opens.

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3. Earth Balance PopcornIMG_0557

I’m late to the party here, as it’s been around for a year. But this stuff is addictive. The Aged White Cheddar popcorn tastes exactly like the Smartfood I binged on as a kid. But it’s not full of harmful dairy with all it’s saturated fat, cholesterol and carcinogens. The buttery flavor is also tremendous. Next time I see a movie, I’ll be smuggling some Earth Balance popcorn into the theater. The only problem is deciding which kind.

4. Alchemy CreameryIMG_0633

I’m somewhat ashamed that I’d never heard of Alchemy Creamery. They have some pretty unique flavors as you can see above- I had the honor of tasting the Salted Peanut butter and Marzipan. Both were incredible. Their ice cream has a rich mouthfeel without feeling too heavy. Super smooth and the flavors are intense. If I hadn’t eaten my weight in DF Maven’s minutes earlier I would have tried some more.

5. One Lucky Duck

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I’m a big fan of macaroons, and also a macaroon snob. But I have to say, these are some of the best I’ve ever eaten. Perhaps even the best! I also tried a marzipan-esque, peanut buttery cookie (the striped one, above) that was also divine. By this point I could barely shove it in any longer but One Lucky Duck’s pastries were so damn good I took one for the team.

They have a store in the Chelsea Market, but I’ll try to forget this information stat.

6. Upton’s Seitan

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I eat Upton’s all the time, it’s my seitan of choice. So there was really no need for me to sample any, but if there’s Upton’s seitan in the house, I’m going to have to eat it. I think I tried the Canadian Bacon and the seitan crumbles, the former of which I’d never tasted. Really delish. I can totally envision the bacon on a pizza, and the crumbles in chili or a tofu scramble. Or a lasagna. Or a savory pie. It’s versatile stuff. Oh, and I’ll have the opportunity to try it in any of these recipes since I pocketed about 10 coupons.

I tried plenty more, but I have to wrap up the food portion of our journey. Have a look at some of the other foods a bit further below, all of which you can get your hands on by visiting the exhibitor page.

Next…Victoria Moran

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There were plenty of talented speakers over the course of the weekend, but I purposefully planned my visit to coincide with Victoria Moran‘s talk. I had previously seen her speak at Farm Sanctuary – her energy, charismatic yet down to earth nature and of course her brilliant mind had a huge impact on the audience. Once again, Victoria brought it with an inspiring talk on staying vegan.

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She touched on many interesting points regarding dedication as well as vegan recidivism. In addition to hearing her always enlightening perspective, I also learned a tremendously interesting fact- I never understood the mechanism behind dairy’s addictive nature. It actually contains addictive, morphine-like compounds called casomorphins. Casomorphins are protein fragments derived from any mammalian milk, it’s a strong incentive for infants to nurse. No wonder cheese is so addictive, all that casomorphin condensed into a brick- it’s like cocaine!

I wish I had recorded her whole talk, but you’ll just have to hear her for yourself someday, and read her newest hugely successful book, Main Street Vegan.

In case you’re not hungry yet, feast your eyes on some more food porn below. And get to New York next year for the 5th annual Vegetarian Food Festival!

Treeline Cheese, a very authentic nut cheese people rave over

Treeline Cheese, a very authentic nut cheese people rave over

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The Regal Vegan, popular catering company with their highly sought-after Faux Gras

The Regal Vegan, with their highly sought-after Faux Gras

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Beyond Sushi, all vegan sushi near union square and in the Chelsea Market

Beyond Sushi, looking tantalizing. But what a tease putting it right there with the DO NOT EAT sign!

Pretty lavander chocolate cupcakes

Pretty lavender chocolate cupcakes

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Yeah Dawg, everyone's favorite veggie dog.

Yeah Dawg, everyone’s favorite veggie dog.

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Yummy chocolate bunnies. The chocolate is pretty delish, just like the easter bunnies I remember.

Yummy chocolate bunnies. The chocolate is pretty delish, just like the easter bunnies I remember.

Lentil Soup: A Momentary Thaw

This winter, people. Lord help us. As if the mountains of snow here in NYC were not enough, I’m hobbling around in a camwalker boot due to a fractured talus bone. While I’ve been a trooper despite the injury, I draw the line when it’s snowing and/or the roads and sidewalks are a sheet of ice. This means I’ve been in a lot, which translates to a lot of cooking.

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Soup is high on the agenda in this kind of weather. While I had made half dozen other dishes, another round of snow had me craving lentil soup. I generally go straight for The Post Punk Kitchen’s Rustic Winter Stew, but said dish takes just a bit more planning and time. Because the white menace had me trapped in the house devoid of several key ingredients, I set upon making more of an impromptu, easy soup.  All you really need are dry lentils, an onion or garlic, (both are good, but one will suffice) and spices you already have around. I was so pleased with the results that it’s now going to be on the menu at all times.

Why two kinds of lentils you ask? These little red guys will fall apart and give you a nice thick broth, while the green ones will keep their shape.

Why two kinds of lentils you ask? These little red guys will fall apart and give you a nice thick broth, while the green ones will keep their shape.

This soup has more comfort than a fuzzy blanket. Served with greens and baked potatoes or squash, you have the perfect meal packed with protein, iron, calcium, a host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s also really fast and easy to make, so even if it’s 6pm, you can be eating in about an hour, chop to simmer, with a minimum of effort.

A good deal of the broth gets absorbed by the lentils, so when I feel like a brothier soup I make the dish as is, then dilute it on a per-serving basis with some water and add a dollop of red miso for punch. Definitely thaws you out and has a ridiculously high cozy factor. Run, don’t walk to the kitchen now! (but take it from me, be careful not to trip.)

Yield: about 6 cups
Ingredients:

1 teaspoon Olive oil
1 small onion, diced medium
2 cloves garlic, minced note: Feel free to use either onion or garlic, both are ideal but one will suffice.Use an extra garlic clove if using only garlic.

1/2 teaspoon cumin
Several generous grinds fresh black pepper
2 grinds pink salt or sea salt

2 bay leaves
1 cup green lentils
1/4 cup small red lentils
2- 3 carrots, chopped
About 1/2 package Crimini mushrooms (or the whole thing if you dig them as I do.)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp Nutritional yeast

Method:
Preheat a medium- large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion in olive oil, along with a dash of salt, for about 1 minute. Add the garlic, cumin, pepper and salt and saute a minute more.
Add the green lentils, bay leaves and vegetable broth. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes, until lentils are slightly softened.

Lower heat to simmer. Cook for about 10 more minutes, until lentils are nearly soft. Add red lentils, carrots and mushrooms. Check carrots and lentils for done-ness after 5 minutes. The red lentils should fall apart, but not the green ones. Add nutritional yeast, stir and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to meld and water to absorb more into the lentils. As always, serve with extra nooch and sriraja.