Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts

Warm-Up and Beat the Chill With Vata Chai {Paleo, Vegan, Low-Carb}

Autumn. My favorite time of the year. Leaves turning, an invigorating briskness in the air.  I find myself gravitating towards steamy drinks of the most spicy kind. Enter Vegan Vata Chai. This is my standard wake-up drink pretty much every morning now. Trish, a dear friend, can attest to the wonderfully rich aroma that fills these early mornings. Not only is chai a lovely way to start the day, but it is chock full of health benefits. It's the ultimate grounding beverage with a little kick, minus the jitters of coffee. Think delightful without sugared or caffeinated guilt. 

During the times I have spent in India, chai was a staple and each region had their own signature style of the tea. I found my favorite to be leaning heavily towards the sweet spice of cinnamon and cardamom. Unfortunately, all chai in India is made with whole milk and heaps of sugar. After several months of drinking the decadent concoction, I didn't feel the most vibrant or healthy. So the quest for a convincing (and delicious) alternative began.

Vata is the wind element in Ayurveda. It tends to become unbalanced in our fast-paced, rush around lives. This element is quick, light, and cool. When vata becomes aggravated, we become worrisome, scattered, forgetful, and ungrounded. Our vata nature is nurtured into balance by warm, sweet, and earthy flavors.

For this recipe, ginger helps with circulation and warms the system. Ditto for the cloves and cinnamon. The licorice root adds a nice little kick by increasing energy and balancing blood sugar levels. If you have high-blood pressure, skip this herb. I use rooibos tea which has a rich, earthy quality. As an added bonus, rooibos is caffeine free and rich in antioxidants. 

Wishing all an abundant, spicy, and heart-centered autumn!

Vegan Vata Chai

Yield: 8 cups/four generous servings

*As always, organic ingredients are best for flavor, nutrition, and the environment.

I like to make a big pot and have it on a gentle simmer throughout the day. As the ultimate comfort beverage, Vegan Vata Chai keeps me going during these brisk, busy days. 

1 1/2 quarts of filtered water
4 tablespoons loose rooibos tea
2 tablespoons licorice root, shredded or chopped
1 tablespoon cardamom seed
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 whole star anise 
1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon whole cloves
2 cups unsweetened almond, hemp, or coconut milk
Stevia to taste

Simmer rooibos, licorice, cardamon, ginger, anise, cinnamon, and cloves in water for 15-20 minutes. Strain and return tea to pot. Add non-dairy milk of choice plus stevia to sweeten. Share joyfully with friends, family and those you love.

"May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all your heart might desire." -Irish Blessing

Cowspiracy: the film that environmental organizations don't want you to see

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. Yet it goes on, almost entirely unchallenged.

Cinnamon, Cocoa and Cardamom Truffles {Paleo-friendly, Adaptable Vegan & Gluten-free}

Around this time of year, I really try to slow down and take stock of what I am grateful for in life. Sweet and spunky Evelyn, health, friends and family. Nothing overly shocking here. But I have to confess, I am outrageously grateful for organic dark chocolate. Really. Not that I am more appreciative of chocolate than say, my daughter, but it does hold a special place for me -- infusing a truly delicious quality into life. Dark chocolate is actually a health enhancing food when savored in moderation and with intention. Find out how it sharpens the mind here or wards off cancer along with other disease here. Even the ancient Aztecs recognized the benefit of chocolate on well- being, both emotionally and physically.

Government-backed Egg Lobby Tried to Crack Food Startup, Emails Show

The American Egg Board provided 14,000 eggs for the annual White House Easter egg roll this year.
Photo Credit: The Guardian

( The Guardian) A US government-appointed agricultural body tried to crush a Silicon Valley food startup after concluding the company represented a “major threat” and “crisis” for the $5.5bn-a-year egg industry, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.

Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time

By Chris Hedges

Numbered footnotes, with hyperlinks, appear at the end of this article.

My attitude toward becoming a vegan was similar to Augustine’s attitude toward becoming celibate—“God grant me abstinence, but not yet.” But with animal agriculture as the leading cause of species extinction, water pollution, ocean dead zones and habitat destruction², and with the death spiral of the ecosystem ever more pronounced, becoming vegan is the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species. It is one that my wife—who was the engine behind our family’s shift—and I have made.

Man Drops 50 Pounds and Becomes Ultra-Endurance Athlete With Vegan Diet

Rich Roll is no stranger to addiction and poor food choices. Entering middle age, he was fat, tired and sedentary. Then, the night before he turned 40, a moment of clarity struck. While walking up the stairs of his Southern California home, he had to stop and catch his breath, fearing he was close to a heart attack. Realizing something had to give, Roll decided then and there to get his health back on track.

Spicy Tomato & Sweet Potato Bisque {gluten-free and vegan}

I first tasted a version of this soup at Whole Foods in the San Francisco Bay Area. It quickly became a favorite, especially in the cool of winter. This bisque also does quite well as a refreshing chilled version during those hot summer months.

This is a surprisingly creamy, yet healthy, tomato soup which is simple to prepare. The sweet potatoes add a a bit of balance to the acidity of the tomatoes while also lending a wonderful smoothness. Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic rating than standard potatoes, an added bonus for those of you watching your carbohydrate intake.

Persimmon Tart with Spiced Pecan Crust {Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free}

We are at the midnight hour for a post about Thanksgiving - almost too late, but not quite. Even though time has slipped away from me, I could not pass up an opportunity to slowdown and really contemplate the true meaning of the day.

Gratitude for all aspects of life helps to cultivate health of the body, mind, and spirit. Living from the grateful space of the heart promotes true abundance and positive outlook. Research has proven time and time again that a positive orientation to life is one of the most effective and important keys to robust health. A very inspiring website on the grace of gratefulness is found here.

Pumpkin and Black Rice Tamale with Superfood Cilantro Sauce

Just in time for All Hallows' Eve, festive black and orange tamales. Both pumpkin and black rice are known in Chinese medicine as being particularly helpful for the autumn and winter months. Pumpkin is grounding and rich while black rice nourishes the kidney's. Learn more about all the amazing health benefits of pumpkin here.

An Auspicious Spring Roll

As we launch into this most promising year of the Water Dragon, I thought a festive spring roll recipe was in order. Bright and cheerful with plenty of health enhancing perks. Since we are not quite out of the woods yet with winter, the Chinese New Year is a perfect opportunity to bring more brightness into our days.

The spring rolls are filled with plenty of antioxidant rich vegetables, edible flowers, sprouted tofu, and accompanied by a zesty plum dipping sauce. Plums have an interesting history in Chinese lore. Lao-Tse, the famous Chinese philosopher, was believed to have been born under a plum tree. It is generally agreed upon in China that plums symbolize good fortune. Just what we need to bring in the new year.

Black sesame also shimmies onto the stage providing a nice bit of contrast. In ancient China, it was believed that sesame seeds were the symbol of immortality and a food of the gods. It is no wonder as sesame seeds have enormous health benefits. Black sesame seeds are rich in nutrients such as the E and B group vitamins, minerals like zinc, calcium, magnesium, and especially iron. These tiny seeds also provide lignan fiber, protein, and good fats.

The following recipe is a loose adaptation of "It's Spring! Rolls" which includes nutritional information about edible flowers. I usually tend to shy away from using tofu as I think soy is overused, hard to digest, and can lead to allergies. Having said that, Wildwood now has a line of sprouted tofu which is much more bioavailable and easier on the digestive system. If you would like to skip the baking step for the tofu, Wildwood also offers a line of naturally seasoned products.

Wishing all a colorful, prosperous, and magical New Year!

An Auspicious Spring Roll

Yield: Joyful light lunch for two

*As always, organic ingredients are best for flavor, nutrition, and health.

Marinated Tofu
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sesame oil
3 tablespoons agave nectar
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 package Wildwood brand extra-firm sprouted tofu

Spring Rolls
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves, stems removed
A handful of edible flowers in a variety of colors
8 large rice paper spring roll wrappers
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

To prepare tofu:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. While oven is warming, whisk vinegar, sesame oil, agave, garlic, soy sauce, and cayenne in a small baking dish. Set aside. Slice tofu into 3 equal thin slabs. Transfer to baking dish and let marinate for a few minutes on each side. Bake with marinade, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Once tofu is cool enough to handle, slice into 1/4 x 2-inch pieces. Transfer to prep mat.

To wrap spring rolls:
Divide ingredients into eight equal portions on a large cutting board or mat. Rinse a single rice paper wrapper with warm water and lay flat on work area. Take one portion of flowers and arrange in the center on the wrapper, leaving 2-inches of space on each side. Follow with carrots, tofu, and spinach leaves. Fold both ends of the wrapper towards center until snug. Next, fold top side of the wrapper inward while tightly rolling into a uniform roll, ending with seam on the bottom, flowers on top. Sprinkle lightly with black sesame seeds. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Good Fortune Plum Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup dried plums, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon raw manuka honey
1/4 cup warm water
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
pinch of Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
1 teaspoon chipolte red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Drain soaked plums and remove pits. In a blender or small food processor, pulse plums, vinegar, honey, water, garlic and salt until smooth. If mixture is too thick, add an additional tablespoon or two of warm water. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in red pepper flakes and sesame oil. Divide mixture between two dipping sauce bowls and serve with four spring rolls each. Enjoy throughly with a delightful friend.

"To win a man's heart, she must first learn how to cook a good pot of soup."
-Cantonese Proverb

Chard Ribbons with Strawberry and Pine Nut

My toddler daughter Evelyn and I arrived in the Pacific Northwest last week after a seven month jaunt in Thailand. To be honest, it is a refreshing relief to be back in the cool green of Portland. One of our first outings involved the local, sprawling, lively organic farmers market. We found bouquets of swiss chard, collards and kale along with gorgeous Alice-in-Wonderland sized peonies. And the strawberries. Deep red, flavorful, and juicy. Need I say more? A delightful way to spend the afternoon.

For those who are raising an eyebrow at the combination of swiss chard and strawberries, let me reassure you: this is the perfect summertime salad. The chard is marinated in a zesty lemon-Dijon vinaigrette instead of cooked. Plump organic strawberries are a sweet compliment to the peppery tang of the chard. Tossed with a handful of golden brown pine nuts, the flavor is nicely balanced. In this version, the chard is given a slight wilt although it can certainly be served straight away for those who crave more crunch.

Make it completely raw by substituting the pine nuts with hemp seeds or even chopped macadamia.

This is a simple to prepare salad that is surprisingly complex in flavor and a good way to add leafy greens to the diet. Here's to health, well-being, and joy.

Yield: Four Side Servings

For Salad:

1 bunch rainbow swiss chard, chiffonade cut
2 cups quartered strawberries
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

And Vinaigrette:

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoons fresh, coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan sea salt

In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients for the vinaigrette. Add swiss chard and toss until ribbons are well coated. Let stand at room temperature until mildly wilted, about an hour. Next, gently fold in strawberries. Divide salad onto four serving plates and sprinkle with pine nuts and extra black pepper, if desired. 

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."
-Harriet Van Horne

Autumn Yam, Collard, and Tofu Sauté with Ginger-Cilantro Pesto

The weather has turned crisp in this neck of the woods, hinting autumn is on its way. A little shocking, actually, as just last week the temperatures hit close to 100ºF. Instead of cooking up a dish of simple collards with a bit of olive oil as I had intended, the sweet potatoes, tofu, and cilantro in the refrigerator caught my eye. Before I knew it, I was involved in a full-fledged cooking session. This recipe has overtones of Thai flavor, but with a twist of Western sensibility. 

The highlight here is the ginger-cilantro pesto. Ginger for a bit of warming kick and cilantro for its healthful qualities. Cilantro is abundant in antioxidants, a wonderful heavy metal detoxifier, and a plentiful source of cleansing chlorophyl. Also, super-nutritious sunflower seeds are used instead of the traditional pine nuts. Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamins E, B1, B5, and folate as well as minerals such as copper, manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, selenium, calcium and zinc. These mighty seeds are also a fantastic source of dietary fiber, linoleic acid, and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.

The orange brightness of the yams against the more subdued green collards is embellished nicely with the tofu. Personally, I like the colors of cooking to accent one another so the pesto is tossed lightly with the greens; the yams and tofu are used as a crowning touch. 

Ginger-Cilantro Pesto
1  clove garlic, crushed
2  tablespoons chopped ginger
1  teaspoon sea salt 
1/4  cup raw sunflower seeds
1  cups chopped cilantro, loosely packed
1/4  cup coconut oil, melted

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the garlic, ginger, salt and sunflower seeds six times. Add cilantro and pulse about nine times until mixture forms a coarse paste. Transfer to a medium bowl and combine with coconut oil. 

Yam, Collard, and Tofu Sauté
2  medium yams, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
2  tablespoons coconut oil
1/2  cup water
1  14-oz package of extra-firm tofu, sliced into 1-inch cubes
4   tablespoons lime juice
1  teaspoon sea salt
1  tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6  collard leaves, sliced in 1-inch wide ribbons
3  green onions, thin slice
1/4  cup coconut milk
1  tablespoon red pepper flakes

In a large covered skillet over medium heat, sauté yams with water and 1 tablespoon coconut oil for 8 minutes or until just tender. Remove from heat and transfer to a small mixing bowl. Next, sauté tofu over medium heat with remaining coconut oil for 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Add to yams and toss lightly with lime juice and salt. Sauté collards with olive oil and green onions for 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro pesto and coconut milk. Remove from heat and place collards on serving plate. Top with yams, tofu, and red pepper flakes. Bon appétit.

Italian Spring Tabbouleh

As spring is beginning to peek through the final days of our brisk Montana winter, fantasies of light, cleansing salads come into the forefront. Even though it is a little early season-wise for tomatoes and cucumbers, one can find a good, local hydroponic heirloom tomato in this neck of the woods with a bit of persistence. And fresh basil to boot.

For those of you unfamiliar with quinoa, think Peruvian superfood. An excellent source of vegetarian protein, this grain is difficult to match. Quinoa makes a fantastic substitute for couscous or cracked wheat, which is shown in the recipe below. Enjoy!

3 cups cooked quinoa*
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
1/8 cup white balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 heirloom tomatoes, medium chop
1 English cucumber, medium chop

Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, basil, and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. Add cooked quinoa, tomatoes, and cucumber. Toss gently and serve.

*Rinse quinoa before cooking to remove any bitter oils present.