Christmas/New Years Vegan Treats!: Savory Palmiers, Mushroom Pate, and Truffles!!!

If you are hosting a holiday party, or going to one, here are some quick and tasty snack and treat ideas.

Side rant:
I know I throw the V word (VEGAN) out whenever I make food (I'm Vegan so yeah, that'll happen), but I also know that it's a huge turn off to (some) people who eat meat and I probably annoy them because I make that shit taste gooood. I'm vocal because there aren't a lot of us, and some people need help on their journey. That is my goal. I'll piss off 10 people if it helps just 1 person.

Many folks that eat meat think that because it's Vegan it's not for them and they won't enjoy it.  They automatically get it in their head that the Vegan dish will be bland, leafy, and straw-like. I know this to be true because I can see the stank eye being thrown at me as I offer up the Vegan goodies. Even if the Vegan treat is the bomb (with me it always is) they shrug in an UNamuse-bouche manner. Not all meat-eaters do this but some do! Sometimes it seriously pisses me off to no end because anyone who cooks (Vegan or not) works hard and the last thing they want is to feel like crap for trying. Even when I eat something a loved one makes and it tastes like shit I smile, wave my little hat and say 'good job' because, you know, feelings. I also want to remind people that even if they aren't Vegan they probably already eat Vegan food all the time (peanut butter, hummus, chips, fries, bread, pasta, many chocolates, rice, fruit, veggies etc etc) That shit's Vegan so who are you foolin' with that stank eye?! You are half way there already! (GASP) It's just food so...

Ok, back to the recipes.

SAVORY Palmiers. I made these a while back only not Vegan. The full recipe is here.
In order to Veganize it I just used dairy-free pesto and sun dried tomato paste, Vegan cheese (Daiya Moozarella), and newsflash - Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry is Vegan. It's made with oil, not butter - terrible for you but I never said this was healthy! Here is the original video on how to fold them up.

Mushroom Walnut Pate - This was so good and super easy! Soak about 1- 1 and 1/2 cups walnuts for 4-6 hours. If you forget this step no biggie but you may not get a smooth consistency or will have to blend a lot longer to get it. When you are ready to make it, drain and rinse the nuts. In a saucepan, heat up 1 tablespoon oil or Vegan butter. Add in 1 whole pint of sliced portabello mushrooms, 2 sliced shallots, 3 cloves sliced garlic, 1/2 tsp dried sage, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, 1 tbs tomato powder, tbs shiitake mushroom powder (those last two are optional but they really build the flavor- I got them here and here). 

Once the veggies are all cooked and soft, add them to a high speed blender (juices and all) and then add the walnuts. Blend until you have a thick pate like consistency. Taste test to adjust spices and salt. Enjoy with crackers. It's so delicious. Just tell people it's liver if they are weird. I don't care!

Chocolate Truffles - Ok, forgive me, I didn't really measure on this one so don't hate me if your's comes out wrong. Bottom line.... when the batter is melted you want it to be thick, like - really thick, brownie batter. Once chilled it should be solid enough like a truffle candy!

In a pot melt the following together (whisk constantly)- I did not bring any of it to a boil and the fat kept it from sticking to pan:
2/3 cup coconut cream (buy reg high fat coconut milk and just take the super creamy part at top, not the water!)
1/4 cup cacao butter (the kind that is edible, not for beauty!)
1 tbs coconut oil
2x 9oz bags dark chocolate chips (no dairy)

Pinch of salt
3 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs vanilla extract (add this at end when off the heat, you could also use hazelnut)
Once the whole mixture is melted, pour into a dish with parchment or a Tupperware. Top with nuts if you want - then freeze. Cut little squares as you go. So good!


Homemade Apple Butter

Super simple recipe. If you love apple pie you will LOVE this spread. It tastes just like apple pie filling. You know, that gooey buttery part. :op

I used a slow cooker for this recipe.

Fill up your slow cooker almost to the top with peeled, cubed apples. I used an assortment of Gala, McIntosh, and Granny Smith. I probably used about 8 apples. Under 5 pounds.

Once the apples are in the cooker add the following for flavor:
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 sprinkle nutmeg (very light)
1 cup sugar (this may seem like a lot but this recipe yields about 3 or 4 cups and you only eat a tablespoon or 2 at a time. I would guess the serving is less that 100 calories- but I'm guessing. And I don't care!

Let the apples and spices cook on HIGH in the slow cooker (covered) for 4 hours. Stir occasionally.
Then put all of the apples and juices in a high speed blender and blend until super smooth.
Add the whole mixture back into the clean slow cooker dish.
Cook for another 4 hours, this time uncovered. Stir occasionally.
Turn off cooker after the last 4 hours and let cool.
Transfer to jars or tupperwares.

This is great to enjoy on toast, oatmeal, nice cream, just on a spoon. Perfect for gifts too.



Vegan in San Francisco/ Big Sur/ Santa Barbara

While driving down the coast, sticking to a Vegan lifestyle was easy. As I said in my last post - you just have to be vocal about your preferences. Also, stock up on a personal stash of avocados, tomatoes, lemons, and crackers for snacks!

In San Francisco we stopped for lunch with a friend at GREENS. It was very good but I was a bit miffed at the prices for what we got. Again, love that it was Vegan. Love that it was tasty... it just did not WOW me for all the hype it had gotten. We shared the spring rolls and I had the Fall Sampler for an entree. Worth it for the view - for the food - maybe not for the price but it was very tasty.

In Big Sur we stayed at VENTANA and pretty much ate the same thing every day. Fruit and bread in the morning, babaganoosh and salad in the afternoon, personal stash for snacks, and then a CRAZY good entree at night that had pumpkin, rice, red pepper sauce, falafel, fennel, and other deliciousness.

In Santa Barbara we stayed one night, so we needed to find grub for dinner and breakfast. For dinner, we found PATXI'S - a pizza joint. I've never had deep dish pizza and this was by far one of the BEST pizzas I've had in my life. I've been to Italy and I'm a New Yorker so this is a bold statement. The pizza was also Vegan, with Vegan cheese, tomato sauce, a shit ton of garlic, and spinach. Amazing! Very accommodating place. You can really make any pizza you want here. Not just Vegan.

For breakfast the next day, we found it around the corner from our hotel at a place called SAVOY CAFE AND DELI. Fabulous Organic food and Vegan friendly. I tried the Tofu Scramble. Super tasty and a LOT of food. Perfect before getting in the car for a long ride to Los Angeles.

And there you have it. More vegan road trip success.


Vegan in Yountville/Napa

Our latest vacation was officially my first Vegan vacation. Luckily it was to California where there are many Vegans... but Napa/Yountville is home to some of the best restaurants in the country, even the world, and they are hardcore meat/dairy meals. The area prides itself in grassfed meats (which I think anyone who eats meat should switch to at the very least). I've never seen so many roaming cattle fields in my life while driving down the coast. They were everywhere.

Back to the food. It was not hard at all to eat plant based meals in Yountville. We went to REDD, Ad Hoc, Bouchon, and Farmstead. All I said to the waiter/waitress was, "Hi, I'm Vegan, is there anything on the menu that I can eat or can the chef make me something special?" Every single time, the chef made something off menu and it was great. All of these places are so accommodating (one place I had to press the waitress a bit). I should also mention, this was NOT my first time in Yountville and dining at all of these places. I've been before, and I ate meat and dairy. It was nice to come back with a different perspective.


For starters they made an amuse bouche - I forget what the non-Vegan option was but they made me a little stir fry on lettuce wraps. On the menu I had the Sashimi only no fish - just lots of avocado in it's place. So delicious. Sweet and salty! For my entree they made me a cauliflower dish. A lovely mixture of roasted cauliflower, panko fried cauliflower, and walnuts and raisins. Dessert was lemon sorbet.

Next night was BOUCHON - very well known for their authentically French cuisine (aka butter, butter, and more butter). But not to worry, they made a pasta primavera dish with amazing local veggies. That's the thing about California - the vegetables are pretty epic. I also asked for the spinach side - but without butter. The whole garlic cloves on top were so soft though... it was "like buttah!"

Up next we went to FARMSTEAD for lunch in between wine tastings. When I first spoke to the waitress about my Vegan preferences, she was a bit perplexed that I wanted her to ask the chef to make me something since the only possibly Vegan options on the menu were the Kale Salad (without the cheese) and the Grilled Artichokes. While I could have absolutely settled on eating just that, I wanted to push her to ask. Us Vegans can't make any progress in restaurants accommodating for us unless we ASK ASK ASK. She even went on to say to me "oh, it must be so hard for you." I kind of wanted to tell her SHE was the one making it hard for me but instead I told her Bouchon and Redd made me Vegan food off menu, no questions asked. A little nudge, is all. Lo and behold she comes back from the kitchen and says that the chef can do a veggie medley, as a Vegan was just in yesterday for lunch. No shit. ;o)

The Kale Salad was so good I wolfed it down before taking a picture. There is something about kale in California - it just tastes better than local kale in New York. It's sweeter and not as bitter. Maybe in New York it struggles more with the cold wet weather, or it struggles in California with the heat and sun? I have no idea... Here is the veggie medley - it was so filling and quite good. Organic and local, right from the restaurant's farm!

Our last night in Yountville we went to AD HOC. Their menu is interesting and at first glance challenging for a Vegan. It changes every single day and the food is served family style. Yikes. What does a Vegan do? Just tell them you are Vegan and they'll feed you well. No questions asked. The salad was already Vegan, a mixture of farro, black rice, arugula, pickled onions, and pumpkin. Then for the main course they made me a fabulous Tofu Steak with veggies. For the cheese plate course they gave me fresh apples on a cheese board with walnuts, and dessert was banana/strawberry ice "cream". Out of all the non-Vegan restaurants here in Yountville - Ad Hoc knows what's up!

My best advice for anyone going on vacation and wanting to stick to their Vegan ethics: Be brave. Ask questions. And DO NOT give in unless you absolutely want to and understand the consequences. Which could either be guilt or an inconvenient trip(s) to the toilet.


Creamy Tahini Pasta (Vegan)

If you are looking for an alternative sauce when it comes to pasta... you know, you eat it so much you want to change things up? This recipe is one to try, especially if you love Mediterranean flavors. However, instead of Italy - we are heading to the likes of Greece/Cyprus/Lebanon for this dish with the use of eggplant, tahini, and spices. Yum!

For the veggies - saute 2-3 small purple eggplants, 1 zucchini, 2-3 shallots, 3-4 garlic cloves in some oil or water. Season with paprika, tomato powder (optional) and dried oregano. use a large enough bowl so you can add the pasta in when it's done.

Meanwhile - boil water for pasta. When pasta is done reserve some of the pasta water (about 1-2 cups). Mix pasta in with the veggies. I cooked the whole box but only used about 1/2-3/4 of it cooked. Saved the rest for another time.

For the sauce - in a mixing bowl, whisk together 3-4 tablespoons tahini, 2 lemons (juiced), and add this to the veggie pasta mixture. As you stir, add in some of pasta water so the sauce gets creamy and can mix well with everything - you want it to thin out a bit so you have more.

Once everything is mixed and looks creamy, add to serving bowls and top with more spices for garnish (parsely, paprika, salt, and pepper).

Finally, top with some chopped walnuts for crunch.



Vegan Creamy Mushroom Paprikash w/ Noodles

Every time I experiment in the kitchen with a new Vegan meal I think it's the best dish I've ever made in my life. Newsflash - all Vegan food is the BEST!

Here is a fantastic recipe for ANYONE to enjoy.

Vegan Creamy Mushroom Paprikash w/ Noodles


For the Veggie Saute;
2 large white onions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons vegan butter (leave out if you wish, just use some water)
1 tsp salt
4 cups chopped mushrooms
3 cloves garlic (less if you prefer), minced
1 tsp sweet paprika
A few splashes *Vegan Worcestershire sauce
(note: reg Worcestershire is not Vegan - it has anchovies)

For the Sauce;
4 potatoes, medium, chopped and boiled
reserve some of the water from boiling (about 2 cups)
2-3 tablespoons sweet paprika (not smoked)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs white miso paste
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tablespoons powdered vegan soup stock

1lb Rigatoni or your favorite noodles. (penne or bow ties would be great)

In a large sauce pan, heat the vegan butter, or just add a few tablespoons of water. Add your onions and salt and cook on low for at least a half hour to caramelize them. If you are just using water you will have to add more as you go so the onions do not burn. This is KEY to building the flavor in this dish - you can even sweat the onions for longer. Add the garlic and spices about half way through. Then add the mushrooms and cook another 15 minutes until the mushrooms release their juices and the water cooks down. Add a view splashes of the Vegan Worcestershire. Let this all simmer and caramelize on very low while you make the sauce and pasta.

While you are cooking the onions, bring a pot of water to a boil with the chopped potatoes. When the potatoes are nice and soft, sift them out of water and transfer to high speed blender. Reserve two cups of the potato water and set aside. Fill the pot with more water if needed because now you are going to reboil and add your pasta and cook per the instructions!

For the sauce - add everything in the sauce ingredients list into the blender - and blend on high. Add some water as you go for the right creamy sauce consistency of your choice. Once blended. Add the sauce to the onions and mushrooms. Stir to let it all incorporate and bring this all to one last simmer.

Now it's time to add the pasta to the sauce and onions and mushrooms! Top with some fresh chopped parsley, and salt and pepper if you wish.



Why I'm Vegan and How To Feed Me!

This post is meant to inform others on how/why I became Vegan and how to deal with Vegans when it comes to food if they will be eating at your home. I do not mean to offend anyone or sound like an asshole in the process! Love, hugs, and unicorns.

It's been 4 months since I went Vegan (April 24, 2015). Not too long, but did you know that for an ENTIRE YEAR prior to this switch, I studied Veganism via countless books (written by Dr's and Scientists), watched documentaries, read case studies, watched hours of well-researched videos on youtube, and let's be honest, some very entertainingly stupid ones too? I experimented in the kitchen by going Vegan for a few days a week, then slacked off on the others. I joined a few Vegan groups and had amazing conversations with like minded people who taught me so much. I put in the time from April 2014 to April 2015, and then I decided to go for it because all of this research led to the same conclusion - meat and diary is royally screwing the animals, our bodies and the whole planet! This wasn't a case of, "Oh, this cute celebrity is doing this on the Today Show and now I am!" No no...  I studied my butt off and continue to. I could have a degree in the subject at this point.

As these 4 months have passed, I've heard some interesting commentary from family, friends, and work colleagues. I am in no way bashing these people for having these very common reactions. I'll get to the point, I promise.

To name a few:

"You poor thing, you can't eat anything."
"I'm afraid there won't be anything for you to eat here."
"Being vegan must be sooooo hard."
"Where do you get your protein?"
"What about too much sugar?"
"This is only a fad, she'll get over it."

That last one is my favorite. A shame my past poor judgments of yo-yo dieting make my current decisions to eat right, save the animals and the planet less credible. I guess I deserve it in some ways.

Back to the first few comments from people regarding what I (Vegans) can eat. Well, we can eat a lot actually. Please don't stress out and think you need to read a ton of labels now in the grocery store or your whole menu has to be changed.

What can you have in the house for your Vegan family member or friend? 
Chances are you already have it!

ANY fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned), rice, pasta, bread (most bread is Vegan), potatoes, squash, beans, corn chips, salsa, hummus, crackers, etc. Those are just the staples, you can get fancy with tofu, veggie burgers and dairy free milks but chances are the Vegan is going to be bringing that with them, among other Vegan treats like cheeses and snacks.

If you take a moment to check the food label, if any milk/eggs/fish are in these foods above it will be in bold at the bottom of the list. How simple is that?! It's not stressful shopping for us.

As you read above, we can eat a lot of foods. Are you an Italian mama making your prized spaghetti and meatballs? Great! Hold some (a lot) spaghetti (no sauce) to the side, and the Vegan will take care of the rest. Don't worry that your sauce has panchetta in it or cheese. A Vegan will chop up a bunch of veggies, saute them in some lemon and spices (maybe add some beans) and then poor that over the pasta. Mangia!

Are you a BBQ master? Great - that Vegan is going to grill up some veggies, bake some potatoes, and maybe even throw a Vegan burger on the grill. They may make your favorite bean salad too.

Are you ordering sushi? No problem... there are many vegetable sushi rolls, veggie dumplings, rice, tofu, edamame, etc on that menu. Go to town.

Ordering pizza? Veggie pizza with no cheese, please!

It's not complicated. And most meat eaters do in fact eat Vegan food ALL THE TIME anyway. These foods are the building blocks of most meals.

Now, let's get into protein and sugar... I wrote a post on protein already, and sugar is a big debate which I should probably tackle in another post but I will say this for now: If you eat a diet LOW in fat, the sugar from fruit and grains is not going to all be stored as fat on your body or mess with insulin. It will be burned as fuel and will digest quickly. Read The Starch Solution. If you are worried about Diabetes, take a look at Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes.

And the last comment, my favorite, "This is only a fad, she'll get over it." I cannot blame someone for thinking this. It's my own damn fault for being a lemming in the past, and always trying to desperately lose weight and get into shape. Here's the difference: I couldn't give two shits if I stop losing weight on this Vegan journey. *I've stopped only caring about what the Vegan lifestyle is doing for me personally. Sure, it's a perk as the scale continues to go down and I do the happy dance; but I care more about what it does for the animals. It gives them a chance. I do not want to eat another creature or their bodily fluids which are meant for their children. I do not want to eat animals that come out of Earth's cesspool (the ocean). To me, that's not a fad. That's facing reality and telling her to back off, I'll create my own reality when given the choice. I just do not want to contribute to the meat and dairy industry any longer. If you do, that's your choice and I wish you well. Do what you gotta do. It can take a long time to understand what is actually happening to the animals and to actually care. We tend to put ourselves in a bit of denial since the meat comes in a package with a happy cow on the label telling us to eat our protein, and we don't see what's happening behind the curtain.

So the point of this post (I know, you've been waiting patiently), is this: Educate yourself. Understand that Veganism is NOT hard and it's not a fad if the person is doing it based on how they feel in their hearts (whatever that feeling is, weight, animals, health etc). It may seem hard but it's not. It's a joke how easy it is. You may think it's not right for you, and that's ok. One day you may change your mind like I did. And then again, maybe one day I'll eat my words but until then... Where's the pasta?

*Disclaimer - If you truly care about what a Vegan diet can do for you personally and you couldn't care less about animal welfare - that is AMAZING too! Whatever floats your Vegan boat. This is just my "why" and how it differs from my past motivations.

Thanks for reading!
If you are interested in the books, documentaries, youtube channels etc that helped inform me on all things Vegan, click here for the full list.


But Where Do You Get Your Protein (Vegans) ?

This week the Today Show is covering diet trends and today happened to be the Vegan diet. They had Russell Simmons on, he ate vegan chicken wings with Al Roker, and Joy Bauer struggled with the actual facts. It's not her fault, but the next "dietician" that says it's hard to get enough protein and B12 on a Vegan diet I may officially lose it. Guess what Joy, starches and vegetables have plenty of protein. I'll get to B12 later.

It's not hard - and like any "diet" if you eat CRAP you are not going to get the proper nutrition. It doesn't matter if you're Vegan or Paleo. You can still be malnourished. Therefor, I figured it would help anyone curious to see how I went OVER in my protein needs yesterday without the use of tofu, soy, etc. I have nothing against those foods (I eat them) but you don't need them to eat enough protein.

Let's start with how much protein one actually needs. Not what any "diet plan" will tell you to lose weight, but what the CDC recommends.

Adults in the U.S. are encouraged to get 10% to 35% of their day's calories from protein foods. That's about 46 grams of protein for women, and 56 grams of protein for men. (source)

Yesterday I ate 62 grams and it was 14% of my daily intake of calories. (1,746 - I also worked out for 1 hr - 600 calorie burn)

Here is what I ate yesterday, and just a heads up, I ate a bit less than I usually do during the day. It was hot as balls in NYC and my appetite just wasn't what it usually is.

Smoothie: 16oz coconut water, 2 small bananas, 1/2 mango, 1/2 passion fruit, 1 cup mixed berries

1 cup spaghetti squash, 2 cups homemade veggie tomato sauce, 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast (B12 bitches! - 1 tablespoon has 40% of daily need - you can do the math on that one!)

3 flour tortillas, 1 cup wild rice, 1 cup refried beans, 1 cup pinto beans, 1/2 avocado, 1 tomato
(cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno, and spices.)

So that right there was all 62 grams of protein - 14% of my daily intake. Not bad!

This post mind you, is not saying that I am perfect. I am fucking overweight. But I've been eating this way for 3 months and lost about 14 pounds. I'm full all the time, and I'm not craving carbs - because I'm eating them when I please! I'm also not cutting calories and walking around like a hangry zombie.


Lesson of the day: Don't fear the carb!

Here is the Today Show segment. On B12 -  they say B12 is only naturally found in animal products. Not technically true - it's in Nutritional Yeast. Shake that shit over everything. And FYI - animal protein is only high in B12 because the farmers inject the animals with it. Back in the day, when our soil was plentiful  - it was high in B12 and the animals ate the grass. Hence themselves being B12 sufficient. NOW, our soil is depleted and fucked from all the factory farming, so the animals technically are not naturally high in B12. I know, it sucks being lied to!


RAW Vegan Mac n' Cheese

Well, I perfected a cooked Vegan Mac n' Cheese recently, and next up was a RAW Vegan version. This was so delicious and I ate the entire portion. Good fats, raw, and PERFECT! The flavor was spot on. There is no need for dairy people... seriously! Get over it. Moo've on.

RAW Vegan Mac n' Cheese

For the Noodles:

Chop 2 medium/large zucchini into identical shapes. Like small penne size. I used this slicer on the thick julienne setting. The key is to have the shape of the "pasta" identical so the mouth feel is like macaroni or noodles.

For the Sauce:
In a high speed blender blend the following to a smooth consistency - 1 small zucchini (or half medium size), juice 1 lemon (or 1 whole lemon peeled), 1/4 - 1/2  cup nutritional yeast, 2-3 tablespoons sweet raw red bell pepper (this makes it orange and adds a great flavor), 1 tablespoon tahini, 2 tsp white miso paste, 1 tbs garlic powder, 1 tbs onion powder, pinch of dried oregano, basil, and thyme. 1-2 tablespoons hemp seeds (this makes it creamy!) Cracked black pepper and salt to taste. The miso makes this salty though so taste it before adding more sodium. If you want a smoked/bacon flavor add 1 tsp smoked paprika. Scallions and extra hemp seed/nutritional yeast for garnishes.

Once sauce is blended, just mix it in with your zoodles and add your garnishes. With the slicer I used and the blender this dish takes 10 minutes. Talk about Easy Mac!

Get that veggie glow people. It's contagious!


Vegan Mac n' Awesome

In an attempt to make a Vegan Mac n' Cheese dish without the use of fake vegan cheese, I came up with this amazing recipe. It is meat eater approved, and packed with protein, b12, and iron. Yum!

Vegan Mac n' Awesome


For the veggies:
3 shallots, minced
2 cups chopped/diced mushrooms (white or portabello)
7 oz (half package) of extra firm tofu, crumbled
A few taps of the following dried herbs: oregano, basil, pepper, garlic and onion powder

For the sauce:

8oz Almond Milk (unsweetened and unflavored)
1 tbs white miso paste
1 tbs vegetable bullion powder
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbs cornstarch (or flour, this is to help thicken the sauce)
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs onion powder
1 tbs dijon mustard
A few taps black pepper
1-2 tbs Earth Balance butter (I like the soy free one)

Your favorite vegan pasta. This can be macaroni, penne, gluten free, whatever you want! I cooked the whole package, so 12 oz.

chopped green onions, chopped fresh basil


Boil your pasta according to package instructions.
In a separate pan, saute the shallots, mushrooms, and tofu in a little water or oil if you are using oil. Add your spices. Cook for about 5-10 minutes.

In a blender, add all of the sauce ingredients and blend until super smooth. Then transfer your sauce into a sauce pan (not the one with the veggies) that has some of the earth balance butter already heated to a melt. Whisk the sauce until it bubbles and thickens. About 10 minutes.

Now add all ingredients together: veggies, pasta, and sauce. Toss until it is all incorporated. Garnish with fresh herbs. You can add more pepper and salt if you wish but I tried to go easy on the salt in this since I had the "butter". Enjoy! Eat how ever much is allotted in your daily food intake.


"Souper" Simple Veggie Soup Recipe

Sometimes when you get home from work you just want to order in or gorge on some junk but the truth is you probably won't feel so hot afterwards. Take-out and junk food is loaded with fat and sodium - even the healthier stuff has a salt count that can exceed your entire daily allowance! Last night I just threw this soup together without a lot of thought. It was creamy and delicious. No fat, and low in salt. I ate a big bowl for dinner and then had a small portion left for lunch the next day.

Veggie Ingredients:
2 shallots, chopped
1 Japanese Sweet Potato, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Seasoning Ingredients:
SMALL "shake" (or pinch) each of:
dried thyme
dried oregano
dried basil
dried parsley
dried rosemary
dried tarragon
dried sage
cracked black pepper
smoked paprika
and 1 bay leaf

For the broth:
I just used 3 tablespoons of a low sodium vegetable broth powder and 3 coffee mugs of water (or enough to cover your veggies).

Soup pot
Blender or Immersion blender

Chop up all vegetables. In your soup pot add the onions and cook on low heat. I used no oil so I just added a little water at a time so the onions did not burn. After a few minutes and the onions are soft. add in the rest of your veggies and stir. Add some extra water to keep things going. Sprinkle in all of your spices and stir, except the bay leaf. Cook until veggies begin to soften a bit. Add in water, bay leaf, and your bouillon/stock powder. Let the soup come to a boil then simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the veggies are super soft. You can taste test a few. Turn heat off then it's time to blend your soup. Either transfer it all to a blender or use an immersion blender right in the pot. Time to eat. Enjoy!



Restaurant Review: Pure Food & Wine

I've been eyeing the menu at Pure Food & Wine for a few years now and we finally made it there with some friends. This restaurant prides itself in Raw Vegan Food. Before you freak out and think it's just a bunch of salad think again. Lasagna, Tamales, oh MY GOODNESS. The food was so delicious and when we asked to keep a menu so we could have the ingredients list we were told there was a cookbook. The Husband was gracious and bought us a copy. I can't wait to recreate some of these dishes and then some!

Between the 4 of us we shared/tasted the following and we were SO full afterwards. I don't get how you could leave this place hungry.

Tuscan Kale and Radicchio with Grapes and Golden Raisins
pine nuts, pumpkin seed macadamia parmesan, lemon caper vinaigrette

Sesame Crusted King Oyster Mushrooms
watercress sauce, radish, nori, micro

Squash Blossoms with Pimento Cashew Cheese
harissa sauce, cucumber raita, cherry tomatoes, nicoise olives

Sweet Corn and Cashew Tamales with Chili Spiced Portabella
salsa verde, avocado, cashew coconut sour cream, raw cacao mole

Zucchini and Heirloom Tomato Lasagna
basil pistachio pesto, sun-dried tomato marinara, macadamia pumpkin seed ricotta

Brazil Nut Sea Vegetable Croquettes with Tartar Sauce
local honey sweet chili sauce, wild arugula, lemon



Finding Your Magic

I used to blog almost everyday since 2009. However the posts have dwindled year by year. You can see it for yourself when you glance at my archives list. Food posts, photography, fashion, make-up, etc. I loved it. It brought me joy. These days, people ask me if I still blog and I cringe at that question. At first I feel guilty because the answer is, "no," but then I get on the defensive and I think, "What do you care if I still do or not? Clearly you don't read it because if you did you'd know I don't blog anymore so why even ask such a stupid question?!" (deep breaths)

Anyway, I can't promise that I will be back to the good ol' blogger I once was after this post because $hit (I mean life) happens. Sometimes I think it's because I don't turn the computer on at home anymore because I have an iPhone. Then I also realized I stopped cooking as much AND working out as much since I got an iPhone. Wasn't this stupid thing supposed to make life a-m-a-z-i-n-g? Like in that go you chicken fat, go commercial? Whatever it is, something is missing in me when it comes to this blog. I have an all or nothing attitude and I think I just got sick of not giving it my all. So there in lies the nothing. Radio silence. Well, Internet silence.

I made all of these big changes in design and url name over a year ago and like in the end of The Graduate had a big old "Now What?" kind of moment. I'm still sitting on the back of that bus to this day. I want to blog about what I have been all along but I haven't found my magic yet. I know it's there. I've seen it.

So how do you find your magic in life? Does it appear in the middle of the night in an epiphany or does it appear piece by piece until the puzzle is complete? I think it's the latter for me. Either way, I will keep  piecing it together because I do like to share content and there is no reason for me to give it up. On that note, I leave this post with you and ask you to start looking for your magic if it's lost. Don't worry, we'll all find ours if we keep looking.


Transitioning into Spring & Dairy Free Cheese Recipe

As the cold winter months come to an end and we turn the clocks forward, it's time to transition into warmer days. It's easier said than done sometimes because we can get used to being hermits. Here are some fun ways to really spring into Spring!

1. Fresh Flowers
Bring the life back into your world by getting flowers and plants to liven things up with color and freshness. It's a great mood booster, smells incredible, and it makes your home feel alive.

2. Let fruit ripen and vegetables ripen before eating.
Fruit in the wintertime can be scarce and not very pleasant. Keep fruit like mangos, bananas, avocados, tomatoes, etc out on your counter for a few days before eating instead of putting them in the fridge which will stop the ripening process. This will allow them to ripen more and you'll have a much more delicious meal at the closing of winter. I don't know about you but a juicy mango in March makes things better.

3. Take advantage of the warmer days.
The weather in NYC is on random right now. 60 one day, 30 the next. Take advantage of the nice days to get some fresh air every time you can. Walk to work, go for a walk at lunch, or workout outside. No matter what, getting in the fresh air will set you up on a great routine for when the warmer weather is here to stay. Better now than later.

4. Eat more RAW foods
Since you know now to let your fruits ripen, now it's time to ask yourself if you are actually eating enough RAW food. Not steak tartar or sushi raw - I mean fresh, whole, ripe, raw fruits and vegetables. I'm not telling you to eat a strict Vegan diet. But every chance you get it's important to eat RAW foods. We need to replenish our bodies with vitamins and minerals after the cold months. One of my favorite ways is to make my own sprouted seeds (alfalfa) and beans (lentils, peas, chick peas). To add life back for Spring, eat lean clean and green! Add more vegetables and fruits to salads, sandwiches, pasta, rice dishes, etc. You can really add fruit and vegetables to anything.

And here is a quick recipe for making a Dairy Free "Cheese" spread for a delicious morning toast with fresh vegetables:

For the Cheese:
1 cup SOAKED OVERNIGHT cashews (just soak in a large jar of water for a full evening, then rinse)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Pinch Chipotle Chili Flakes (for a smokey favor)
Pinch sea salt
Juice 1 lemon
Some water on the side to use as needed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

In a food processor, add all ingredients and process until a creamy "cheese-like" consistency has formed. You may need to add some of the water to loosen the mixture up a bit. Spread about 2 tablespoons on your favorite toast and top with veggies. (2 tablespoons per toast) I love cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, peppers, and greens on this dish. Top with some fresh pepper. The remaining "cheese" can be kept in the fridge for a few days. Enjoy!

For more great health tips and healthy recipe ideas, check out Aloha - a place to say hello to good health and happiness. They have so many lovely recipes and ideas for getting your Spring and health on.

Happy Monday!