Friday, May 23, 2008

Oprah the Vegan

If you haven't heard already....Oprah recently read "Quantum Wellness" by Kathy Freston who is a "conscious living" advisor (whatever that means). Anyway, the material in the book must have really gotten to the OPster because now she has GONE VEGAN...well, at least for a 21 day "cleanse." I'm thinking she may keep up with it for longer than that though. Her "cleanse" also omits gluten, alcohol, and caffeine. So I guess I'm basically cleansing too (except for the gluten, alcohol, and caffeine). I'm not a Buddhist monk or anything, geez!

So, being that Oprah is basically God to millions of women nationally and internationally, I'm thinking that a lot of people may follow her new regimen of conscious consumerism. In the least for 21 days, but undoubtedly, there are some who may become vegans for life.

Hopefully she will see extremely positive results, maybe a little weight loss sprinkled with a little dash of boosted energy. Let's hope the Oprah will show the world a new way of living.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Food Update, Animals, a Barbecue, and a Costume

Unamas! is a local Fresh Mex kinda place and they have some wonderful food. It's not a veggie restaurant but they have some things that are easily made vegan. Taco Salad anyone? No cheese, no sour cream, extra extra guacamole. :D

In keeping with a lowered sodium menu (I haven't been very good lately) I made a pinto bean salad/spread thing. It tasted exactly like the hummus they have at a sandwich shop near me. Weird. Slap some on a wheat pita bread and top it with some spring mix salad and you got this sucker:

Pinto Bean Spread (low-sodium):

4 cups (approx. 2-1/2 15 oz. cans) cooked pinto beans
2 T dried minced onion
3 T pickle relish (not the sweet relish!)
2 tsp. prepared mustard
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cumin or more to taste
Pepper to taste

Drain and rinse pintos. Using a food processor, blender, or potato masher, combine all ingredients until smooth. Serve.

Shelle's Father's birthday happened to end up on a beautiful day with warm weather. So what else to do during nice weather? BBQ!! I fixed my plate with grilled zucchini, yellow squash, salad, rice, cauliflower and corn (where is the corn in the pic...oh well). It was a great day. I happened to catch Minnie sunbathing nude on the cement and a pic of Minnie and Marley socializing.

I came across a recipe for Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo (low-sodium) which I easily veganized although the result was just okay; nothing special

Sun-dried Tomato "Alfredo":

8 oz. pasta of choice (I used organic whole wheat linguine)
2 cups regular soymilk
2 T cornstarch
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. oregano

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, shake soymilk and cornstarch together in a jar. Place in saucepan over medium heat and cook and stir until thickened and beginning to boil. Add nutr. yeast, tomatoes, garlic powder, and oregano, and stir until heated through. Serve sauce over drained pasta.

Last but surely not least, I was invited to a "masquerade party" for Eduard's birthday. So I was naturally thinking that it was sort of a costume party with masks and such. I went out to a costume shop called Debbie Lyn's Closet and rented a cape (yes a cape) and a pirate shirt...just a frilly shirt with funny doily edges. Seinfeld fans will probably be thinking "puffy shirt" right now. Well I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb because I had this weird get-up and most people just came with nice clothes and masks. I didn't feel too bad though when Andrea, the Italian stud, showed up dressed in an afro. Haha.

Here's Jay and I...notice Jay is not wearing any costume whatsoever:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Low-Sodium Vegan Food

I started to log my sodium intake recently and I was horrified to see that I was consuming double what I should be. High Blood Pressure runs in my family and I have borderline High Blood Pressure so I am starting to eat more low-sodium foods.

I went to a website for low-sodium vegan diets and it gave me a few recipes. One was for STUFFED PEPPERS so that's what I made today. It was an easy recipe and quite good.

I ate one stuffed pepper with carrot and celery sticks and a green salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette.

Low-Sodium Stuffed Peppers (serves 6):

6 large green bell peppers, tops and seeds removed
2 tsp. olive or grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 12- or 14-oz. package vegan ground "meat" such as Morningstar Vegan Crumbles or Gimme Lean "Sausage" or equivalent
3 medium ripe tomatoes
2 cups cooked barley
Cumin to taste
Chili Powder to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Gently place peppers in the water and boil for 10 minutes. Carefully remove peppers and drain; set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat oil and saute onions and vegan "meat", breaking up the "meat" completely, until onions are softened. Add tomatoes, barley, cumin, and chili powder and stir mixture one minute longer or until heated through. Stuff boiled and drained peppers with the mixture and serve.

Falafel Friday and Some Animal Friends

Last Friday I had two Middle Eastern Meals. For lunch I decided to go out to one of my favorite Mediterranean spots for a Veggie Combo plate. Then after I got back to work I got an email inviting me to a friend's birthday dinner at yet another Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Sunnyvale. There I also got another Veggie Combo plate. I think I'm becoming Middle Eastern! :D

House of Falafel...Clockwise from top-left corner: Hummus, Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), Tabbouleh Salad, Baba Ganoush, Falafel patties, and Salad. This all came with pita bread. YUM

Taverna Mediterranean...Clockwise from top-left corner: Rice, Falafel patties, Greek Cucumber Salad, a rather liquid Hummus, and in the middle, Eggplant Salad. YUM

I want to show everyone a picture or two of some of my favorite animals.

Fred the cat...Fred lives at the work office and he's always coming around for some attention. I don't like cats very much but I have to admit, he's a beautiful pussy.

Buddy the dog is my father's dog. I don't get to see him very often because he lives an hour and a half away but I always enjoy my time with him (even though he gets dog hair and slobber all over me.)

Michelle, if you're reading this I love all your animals too but I don't have pics of them.

This post is the first with my new digital camera. YAY.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Healthy, Environmentally-Sustainable Oil?

Recently I made the switch from using olive oil to mostly using Grapeseed oil. I was curious about the flavor, but the flavor is great...kind of earthy and nutty, but light. It's very pleasant. Many cooks prefer it because it has a high smoke point, meaning you can cook at higher temperatures without the oil smoking too much.

Grapeseed Oil requires no new farmland, water, or other natural resources because it uses the grape seeds from the wine-making process. This means that it's environmentally sound and sustainable.

Also, grapeseed oil is 75% Omega 6 fatty acid and contains the most heart-healthy mono and poly-unsaturated fats among all the vegetable oils. It has half of the saturated fat of olive oil, as well.

Oils are often quite expensive but I bought a bottle of grapeseed oil the size of a wine bottle for only US$7.00 at Whole Foods. That's less than most olive oils.

Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing

I have to admit that I don't eat enough leafy green vegetables. I should though because cruciferous veggies such as kale, spinach, etc. contain cancer-fighting properties as well as tons of Vitamin A, C, K, calcium, omega 3, protein, fiber, iron, etc.

I got my kale fix recently though with Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing that is a recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance. It's yummy, but what really surprises me is that a huge bunch of kale wilts down to almost nothing when cooked. : (

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spicy Cilantro Split-Pea Soup, Mashed Potato Cakes, and Canada

There's something super-satisfying to me about split pea soup. It's hearty, full of flavor, and packed with fiber and protein. I made a not-so-standard soup with split peas, onion, carrot, celery, jalapeno, veggie stock, potato, zucchini, bay leaf, salt, pepper, liquid smoke, fresh cilantro, and I topped it all off with "Baco-s" Bacon Bits (Yes, they're vegan!!). I love french bread so I sliced some up for dipping.

I couldn't eat all the soup that I made so I froze the leftovers. It should be good in the freezer for a month or two.

From the "Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook" I made the Garlic Smashed Potatoes. Then I chilled them in the fridge and shaped the potatoes into patties. I mixed some flour, salt, and pepper, then dredged the patties in the flour mixture. Next, I heated some oil in a pan and fried the patties until they were golden brown.

They are really good with homemade brown gravy or tahini sauce.

My grandfather passed away recently after a long battle with cancer so my family and I travelled to Canada to hold a memorial service for the extended family there. I used to spend two months every summer in Nanaimo, BC, Canada so I hold it dear to my heart. It's like my second home. I got some pictures from the plane and also some from Nanaimo itself.

Seattle from the plane:

City of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island (taken from Protection Island):

Beach Access trail on Beautiful Protection Island:

I'm so fond of crabs. On Protection Island you can literally go to the beach, pick up a rock, and see the baby crabs crawl out from under the rock. They're too small to pinch me so I picked one up. Here's a pic of me giving some love to a crab.:

Empanada-type Thing

I have fallen in love with the raw pizza dough that I buy at a local grocery store (Trader Joe's). Maybe I love it too much, I've put on a couple pounds since I've discovered it :D

Sure you can make a standard pizza with it because it's just uncooked dough, but sometimes it's fun to get creative. I think a few posts ago I showed a picture of a Curry Calzone. This is along the same lines but since I stuffed it with Fake beef, it seems to be more like an Argentinian Empanada.

I didn't follow a recipe for this so just test and taste as you go.

What I did:


Uncooked pizza dough, enough to make a 12" round
12 oz. package vegan "beef" crumbles ( I used the Morningstar brand)
1 envelope taco seasoning (make sure it has no dairy)
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
hot sauce to taste
olive oil or other cooking oil for brushing on dough


Take the pizza dough and roll out or stretch to a 12" round; set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Put frozen "beef" crumbles in a pan and warm over medium heat. When warm add taco seasoning, bell pepper, and 1/2 cup water (or whatever amount the taco seasoning packet says to use), simmer for about ten minutes stirring occasionally. Place "beef" filling on one half of the stretched pizza dough and fold the other half over so that it forms a pocket. Moisten edges of dough and press together to make a seal. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil and place empanada onto it. Rub or brush some olive oil on the top; make small slits on the top so the empanada filling can steam and place in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. Let cool for a bit, slice, and serve.