Thursday, September 22, 2011

Moving thoughts, Vegan MOFO, Jorda the amazing PItbull


I am moving to Boston on Saturday.. and wow.. everything in my life is changing.

I am selling my car!

What an amazing lifestyle change that will be!.... but I am doing it to create a lifestyle that is more active... and frankly.. having a car in the heart of Boston sounds like more of a pain that it's worth.

My car, my Toyota Yaris is actually the first brand new car I have ever had.. and one that I bought myself after my divorce.    I thought I'd be driving it into the ground!.. but life has other plans!

Boston!.. here I come! I still can't believe this is the view outside of my bedroom window...  It is a total 180 from my view today: 

I think the thing that is the hardest about this move is leaving my dog, Jorda with my X-husband.  

Jorda LOVE Mark (my X) sooo much and we have shared custody of her for the last 4 years... she is 6 years old...  We adopted her when she was 3 months old... 


.. and look at my KIDS too.. they were babies.. now they are in college and out of the house.... and this pic was taken with a disposable film camera and scanned!  

Soo.. I am very sad that my dog can't move with me to Boston.... but am very grateful she will be pampered and very well taken care of by my X husband... and that I will get to spend every other weekend with her. 

I am going to be busy and incorporating my new life.. and can't wait to start blogging for VeganMOFO!.

I have a lot of ideas I'm throwing around in my my head to blog about... and am looking forward to the community feeling again...   

I can't wait to blog from Boston all about Vegan Food!.. and once a week I am going to do a restaurant review.. and I will be 100% honest .. and I am a harsh critic. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to build a Raw Kale Salad

I have made A LOT of Raw(ish) Kale/Collard Salads in my days!  Having worked in two restaurants that were inside of health food stores, I had access to a lot of produce all of the time, so depending on my mood and ingredients on hand, I have sort of a template, which I would like to share with you.  Most of my recipes are really just templates I color with this spice or that grain, etc.

Basic Raw* Slaw

  • 4 cups sturdy leafy greens (kale, mustard, chard, collards, spinach, escarole)
  • 2 cups red or green cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded carrots 
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar or citrus juice
  • 1 tablespoon oil (olive, sesame, flax, coconut)
Massage together for 5 minutes or until the veggies start to break down
You are essentially 'cooking' the greens here and not paying attention to flavor. The carrots/onions add a nice dimension to the greens as they break down, creating a vegetable broth.

The greens are super juicy now and I take advantage of that juice and don't drain it. If you want a cleaner flavor, just strain for 5 minutes before proceeding.  I like to add some of these ingredients that soak up the juice and create a delicious dressing without a lot of extra oil (add around 1/4 cup each or 1 cup all together)
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  •  toasted dried coconut
  • nutritional yeast 
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • dried mushrooms
  • raisins
  • dried cranberries
  • apricots
  • toasted walnuts
  • toasted pumpkin seeds
  • crystalized ginger
  • chopped apples or pears (Dried would be great too)
Spices:
NO matter what I'm doing, I always add a small pinch of nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds.
You can add 1/2 teaspoon of these:
  • Basil, marjoram and rosemary for an Italian Salad (great with sun dried tomatoes, walnuts and nutritional yeast)
  • Lemon Pepper, Coriander and Curry for Indian Slaw (great with coconut, and raisinis)
  •  1/4 teaspoon Cardamom,  1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (with pumpkin seeds and crystalized ginger, apples and raisins)
Other ad ins:
  • 2 cups seasonal fruit
  • avocado (this creates an amazing creamy yummy dressing!)
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Herbs  (basil, cilantro, mint, parsley or whatever you have on  hand)
  • Various Raw Veggies  (Broccoli, peppers, celery, sprouts, lentil sprouts, anything you have that needs to be used)
Finally, taste and add to taste:
  • Soy sauce/tamari/braggs or 
  • Seasoning Salts
  • Pepper
  • Acid (vinegars, citrus juices, tamarind umeboshi)
  • Your favorite spices
  • More nutritional yeast 
  • Your favorite oils (I add more oils last... and usually the best quality oils I have..)
  • Hummus or your favorite bean based spreads
You basically want to get a nice balance of savory, acidic, sweet, crunchy.. 

*rawish because not all the ad ins are raw

  • Make sure your hands are VERY clean before making this salad
  • This will keep (as long as you NEVER double dip or use the same tasting spoon) for up to 4 days in the fridge.
I hope you play around with what you have on hand.  That is how the BEST creations are made.

Do you have a favorite Raw Kale Salad?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Balsamic Roasted Tofu and Kale


I am slowly but surely using up the greens from my friends garden!  I am actually thinking of having a big meal next Thursday at my house so I can cook up all my food an invite people over here to take it home!  I will be moving on Saturday... and wow... life is just chugging along!

If you are localish and want to come to a big feast, let me know.. I am in Portsmouth, NH...

Here's a recipe for Balsamic Roasted Tofu with Kale and Sun Dried Tomatoes..

  • 14 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (reserve 2)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ t cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 bunch kale (around 10 cups) washed, and chopped
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes (pour 1 cup boiling water over them, reserve soaking liquid)
  • ½ cup dried shitake mushrooms (optional; pour boiling water over them, reserve liquid for another recipe if desired)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • Good pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Soy sauce/lemon pepper to taste
Method:
  • Pre-heat oven to 400
  • Cube tofu, toss with 1 T soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and 1 T olive oil, place on sheet pan in a single layer and cook for 30 minutes… meanwhile...
  • Heat a 12 inch skillet to medium heat; add the remaining olive oil, onion, garlic and spices.
  • Sauté for 5 minutes; de-glaze with balsamic vinegar
  • Add Kale, tomatoes and mushrooms. Toss pan a couple times, and add the tomato soaking liquid
  • Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  • When tofu is ready, add to the pan along with nutritional yeast and nutmeg
  • Season with soy sauce and lemon pepper to taste
This is delicious over pasta, brown rice, soft polenta or any other favorite grain. Quinoa of course comes to mind and so does millet! 

What are your favorite ways to use Kale?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Turing leftovers into awesome Indian Food in 15 Minutes!

So, I have an abundance of greens! I've been enjoying kale and chard in a variety of ways... but my very favorite go to comfort dish has to be Chana Saag.  I made a batch of THIS recipe, but sub'd the kale/chard for the spinach.  It is so savory and spicy and delicious!

I'm trying to sell my dehydrator, so no Kale Chips for me at this moment...  I have a pretty much hate hate relationships with my dehydrator!...  I can't stand the way it makes my house smell... and then after smelling the food for 24 hours or so, I am just DONE.. because I don't want to taste it either.

There are a couple things I have really tried to get behind and I keep trying over and over again.  They dehydrator is one of them.  I just DON'T like any of the raw breads/crackers/meals I have prepared in them... and believe me.. I have prepared MANY because I worked as Raw Food Chef in restaurants!.. my Raw Food is really good... but for me, only for the first couple bites. bleh..

The second thing I have never been able to get behind is Seitan.. GROSS!... I have made it and pretty much perfected it again.. my recipes are still being served in restaurants to this day..  but for me.. no way.. I have a wheat intolerance that actually I figured out when I was produced large amounts of my seitan recipe for a restaurant I was working for at the time.. and I would break out in hives.

Wow.. I digress... I didn't mean to go on a tangent about Seitan and Dehydrators!.. and actually that brings something up for me that I have been thinking about for a while.

WHAT WORKS FOR ME MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU!

I have no illusion that just because I don't like dehydrated crackers and seitan that those items don't appeal to many people!... I think for me to leave them out of my blog.. well.. it can limit what works.  I know that seitan is a big reason my X husband eats much less meat than he used to.  Same with my younger son. (My older son hates it like I do)...

... OK.. back to the food!

So I made the Chana Saag.. and while I love it... I still have chipotle hummus! .. and cooked brown rice (from my freezer) and Salsa (this recipe, but made from canned diced tomatoes and everything else chopped and not pureed)... so I turned it into another yummy dish..  This makes 2-3 servings.



Saag Tofu and Indian Spiced Rice

  • 7 oz extra firm tofu, dry fried and sprinkled with soy sauce *see note
  • 2 cups Chana Saag (pureed in a food processor)
  • 1/4 cup Chipotle Hummus
  • 2 tablespoons salsa 
  • Water if needed to thin the mixture out
Combine all of the ingredients and heat through. I dry fry the tofu first then add the remaining ingredients.

Rice:
  • 2 cups leftover cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup salsa 
  • 1 t curry powder
  • up to 1/2 cup water as needed
(I stirred everything together and warmed in the microwave.. you could warm it all in a pan if desired..)

The flavor when  you utilize leftovers and combine them is just amazing!  Don't be afraid to combine things!  Chipotle hummus compliments Indian flavors in a way that can't be described.. I wish you guys could taste the food I eat!.. It's so good! 

I have a lot of things I want to talk about.. so stay tuned for many musings on weight, society, art, following your dreams, career... if I could sit and write all day, I would! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mess o' Greens, 5-Spice Slaw and Thanks!


First of all, I want to thank you guys for the great comment and support on my last entry where I came clean about Compulsive Overeating

I have so many thoughts and answers to the questions... which I will begin addressing.. well, probably some them in in this post! ... but first...  

OMG.. my friend Gayle gifted me with a HUGE amount of greens from her garden.  Kale and Chard... Oh yeah...  Like enough to last me until I move to Boston!

I adore greens and they could not have come at a better time!  I actually spent around $31 outside of my planned $100/month on beans the other day because I saw them over double in price overnight and that freaked me out...   but with this amazing produce gift, I might still be able to meet my budget! 


  The other day I made Asian 5 Spiced Slaw... which turned out great...  
  • 4 cups green cabbage
  • 2 cups red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper (optional) 
  • 1 green pepper (optional)
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • Wasabi Ginger Dressing
  • 1/4 teaspoon 5 spice powder
  • 1/2 cup cilantro 
  • Soy Sauce, toastesd sesame oil and apple cider vinegar and Siracha to taste 

Method:
  1. Shred cabbage, carrots and peppers, chop scallions and massage with salt until cabbage breaks down
  2. Put in colander for 30 minutes
  3. Toss with 1/2- 1 cup dressing, 5 spice and cilantro depending on your taste and add soy sauce, oil, vinegar and siracha to suit your taste.. 

One thing I'd like to address is that many of you mentioned that being overweight doesn't necessarily mean you are unhealthy.. and while I believe that is true..

For ME.. it's not.  I am overweight because I binge on food that is not good for me.. most of the time that is wheat.. and even though it's generally homemeade breads... it is still NOT good for me.  

I do it for emotional reasons... which is not healthy. No judgment on myself.... just a reality check! 
I am not overweight because I eat coconut or olive oil or eat grains.. 

I am not approaching this with a diet at all... I am simply ready to begin living a lifestyle that will not allow me to be overweight. 

I recognize I DO have to work harder than many...  I lost my ovaries when I was 23 due to huge tumors... and have been in surgical menopause since then... and that DID change my metabolism...  and I HAVE to work harder ... but I have also been at an ideal weight since then, so I know it is possible.  

Thanks for reading and for all of the wonderful, supportive comments.  I feel very fortunate to have so many wonderful people who take the time to cheer me on! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"You must be so healthy!" EDITED 2012


Edited as of Nov. 2012...  I moved to Boston... sold my car and adopted a "walking lifestyle".. I have lost 110 lbs from my highest weight... and have recently re-gained 10 lbs..... this is a work in progress... but it has been an amazing year!

"You must be so healthy" was a comment I got on Facebook when I mentioned that I eat around 3 cups of beans a day.  

In fact, if you read this blog and look at my facebook I'm sure that the image I project is much different from the reality.

I am obese. Fat. Have been for the past 10 years now.  I do eat all this amazing healthy food, but what I don't share is the fact that I compulsively overeat wheat.  Like the focaccia above.  

That doesn't make it into my blog or on my facebook page..  and I am sick of living this ridiculous disconnected life that keeps me separated from what I really want to do. 

I want to teach people about healthy vegan food.  Pretty hard to be taken seriously when you are 100 lbs overweight. 

.... So I am doing something radical. 

A big reason I am moving to Boston and selling my car is to create a lifestyle for myself where I will be forced to be more active. 

For whatever reason, I haven't been able to sustain weight loss, as long time readers of this blog know.  I have talked about it over and over and over and over.. made many 'New Beginnings' and 'committed' to it over and over. 

I know that a move won't change your life, but at least this will be a new lifestyle.. and frankly, I have not been happy in the town I live in since I moved here in 2001.  I have never really connected well with people here.  That could be my fault for not trying very hard, but I just don't think this is the right place for me.  

So.... that's that..

I have GREAT DREAMS... I would LOVE to open a Vegan Community Kitchen/Garden/Greenhouse in a Food Desert.  I want to share my love of creating healthy and delicious vegan food with EVERYONE!

I am soooo passionate about this ....  I don't have an interest in cooking for restaurants really ...  or giving my creativity away for less than I'm worth.  If I'm going to give my creativity away then it is going to be for a good cause, not to line the pockets of someone else. 

I'm scared about making such a drastic change, but I am so so excited as well! 

A  year ago, I NEVER would have dreamed I would be moving to Boston, selling my car and changing my life in such a radical way..  

Friday, September 09, 2011

Fall Barley Pilaf with Cherries and Pecans


Thanks for all of the great comments on yesterday's post!   I feel inspired again to blog... which is a relief.

Fall is certainly in the air here in New Hampshire..and this Barley Pilaf is a great side dish..   serve with baked tofu and greens.. or my awesome Kale Salad..

Thursday, September 08, 2011

I am not being authentic.


As many of you know, I am moving to Boston!

Basically, I am changing everything in my life pretty much 100% which I am super excited about, but also a bit nervous.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog and what exactly I want to do with it..  You see, I don’t really feel connected to it in a way that I used to.  Things change so much in life.  When I started this blog in 2006, I was married and cooking for my family.  I have divorced and my sons are grown now. 

I took a couple years off from blogging and worked my ass off as a chef in restaurants… and the last thing I wanted to do when I came home was cook, write or think about food!..  Fast forward to a year ago when I realized I was DONE working for others in the capacity I had been doing.  While I LOVE vegan food.. I have not had a particularly positive experience working for vegan establishments or other “health food” type places.  When I was the Chef at the Wine Bar, I had to handle/cook meat…

When I realized I wanted to start working for myself in 2010, I came back to blogging and wow!  Things changed in the good ole blogosphere.  There were HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of vegan blogs..   I began sharing my $3.33 a Day recipes and re-connecting with my old favorite bloggers.. and have made new blogging friends in the process… but something is missing…

.. And that something is ME.  I don’t feel like I am being really authentic here… and it’s a chore to only present a side of myself (that is creating yummy vegan food) when there is so much more that is going on in my head… 

I have been feeling dead inside for a long time.


 I don’t talk about this much because frankly, I have used this blog in a professional sense..  and don’t want to get too personal… AND… when I have opened up personally here, I tend to attract the CRAZY who spam my inbox with hateful words.

..but I’ve decided that this blog is going to be for ME..  and I don’t care how I come across.  I don’t care what sort of hate mail I get. Ignore and Delete!

I am going to start sharing all of me.. my passions, my struggles…

Basically, I am re-claiming my blog.

I am still going to post Frugal Vegan Food!..  I’m not sure if I will be able to maintain the $3.33 a Day budget since food prices are rapidly increasing. (I saw a pound of DRY bean jump in price from $.99 to $2.38 in the past WEEK!!!)

Part of WHY I am moving to Boston is to pursue my photography.. so I expect that will be part of this blog too…  I will probably be shopping for food almost daily… and will bring my camera along of course!   

Once a week, I am going to go out to eat and critique a restaurant..  100% honesty.  I will hold NOTHING back and I am VERY hard to please…  I realize this…  and while I know I have HIGH standards…  I am OK with that and hold others to the same standards.  Since I have worked in restaurants, I KNOW that creating awesome vegan food can be done.. and I also know that we all have our bad days… so any restaurant that has a bad review will get another chance.

I will frequent both traditional and vegan/vegetarian restaurants.

I officially move October 1st, but am in the slow process between living between two homes at this moment.. so expect my blog to really pick up in October!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup

I made this super fast creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup the other day with my leftover Chipotle Cheddar and it turned out really great.  This made enough for 2 very large (meal sized) servings and I will say that letting everything sit overnight created a MUCH better flavor than the first meal... but the first meal was still pretty good!

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
2 large or 4 appetizer portions


  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tony's Creole Seasoning 
  • 1 cup cooked white beans
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut
  • 16 oz frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup Chipotle Cheddar spread
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3-4  cups vegetable broth 
  • small pinch nutmeg
  • Lots of freshly ground pepper and smoked sea salt to taste


Method:

  1. Saute onion, garlic , rosemary with the Tony's for 5 minutes
  2. Add the White beans, sauerkraut, broccoli, cheddar spread, yeast and veggie broth. 
  3. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Cook for 15 minutes
  5. Puree with an immersion blender and adjust seasonings

Enjoy!